Confession

Confession

Children From the Authors

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
~Proverbs 17:6

free entertainment was provided by construction workers next door
free entertainment was provided by construction workers next door

Alright. It’s time. I mean, not just time to write a blog- if I was on any kind of schedule to blog, then it’s way past that time.
It’s time to come clean.

I’m a briber.

Yes, you read that right: BRIBER.

I bribe my kids. Today I needed to get that grocery shopping done in record time. So I told them if we made it back to the car in less than 30 minutes everyone would get a treat after dinner. My eldest actually pushed the cart, the youngest actually sat in the cart, and my middle child managed not to get run over by the cart!! (You have no idea!! This was like a Christmas miracle! If it had been a movie, the audience would have been crying at the heart wrenching beauty of this grocery adventure!) From the time I put the car in park, to the time we were driving out of the parking lot was exactly 20 minutes.

Do not underestimate the power of sugar.

I not only bribe my children, I bribe myself. I tell myself that if I am really reallllllllllly good, then I can get Starbucks. I’m an adult talking to myself, but it’s the truth. I work like crazy at the thought of earning a Starbucks.

Now ladies (or dads, if you’re reading this?), there’s a reason for my sudden confession, and it is this: We are not perfect. Oh my gosh, are we soooooo not perfect!!! So far from it! No one is!! (Well, Jesus, but you know… long side story we don’t have time for now. But He is the one and only exception!) So we need to stop looking like we are perfect and like our children do any little thing we ask of them out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re kids! They’re not perfect either!

Recently a friend asked me how I had gotten my children to work so well together (bear in mind she’d only been watching them interact for the best 45 minutes of their day). I had one word for her: BRIBERY. She was shocked. You bribe your children!??! And I realized she thought I was a ‘perfect parent’!  My first reaction was: Ha! Fooled you! Followed shortly by the more correct reaction: Honey, I am so very sorry! That person you were just describing… that’s not me. I don’t know any woman like the one you were just talking about. And what a disservice I’ve done you by making myself look perfect when I am not!

This kid is helping Daddy change the breaks on the van. Meanwhile his little brother was about to hammer a nail into a tire...
This kid is helping Daddy change the brakes on the van. Meanwhile his little brother was about to hammer a nail into a tire…

Yes, children should do what we tell them to do. Sometimes for their safety we even need them to*.  And that’s one thing, but children are going to make mistakes and misbehave. And we, their parents, have an arsenal of tools to try and strong arm them, nurture them, trick them, guilt them, encourage them, and any-other-thing them into behaving. So let’s just try to do our best, and then just let that be ok.

And here’s the thing, I don’t call what I’m doing “bribery.” It’s a reward. Do you know any adults who happily go to their jobs without compensation? And how many adults call their pay checks “bribery”??? You are rewarded for a job well done. It is okay to ‘reward’ your children too.

Don’t fall off the other side of the horse now- you don’t have to reward/bribe your child for every little act of kindness. And sometimes our words can carry just as much reward as sugar (but, I repeat, do not underestimate the power of sugar). I know I bend over backwards for a nice compliment. I have one child who is the same.

And when you do your best, when you are giving something all you got- it’s okay to fail from time to time. It’s great for kids to see us fail, and to watch how we handle it. It’s great for kids to see their parents ask for forgiveness. As we parent, we are building character in our children, but also in ourselves.

If you do your best, that’s good enough. You can rest in that. God knows who you are, He wired you a certain way. Your children are not a biologically random combination of genes- but a child planned and purposed for your family. A gift from God, to you.

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
~Psalm 127:3

So good job! We applaud you! You’re amazing! You gave it your all today! You may have messed up, but you have the strength to get up and try again tomorrow. You have the ability to seek forgiveness, to encourage again, to wipe that nose one more time! You can do all of the mommy (or daddy (if you’re reading this?)) things!

You’re amazing! God says so!!

IMG_20161130_133441199
this kid is probably eyeing something full of sugar on the kitchen counter…

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
~Psalm 149:14

Lord, thank you for our children. Open our eyes anew to the gifts that they are to us. Likewise open our eyes to see how we are a gift to them. You created families, you have a plan for our family. We say yes and amen to Your Plan!! And we ask for your help in parenting these precious gifts. Help us not to judge our parenting based on our neighbor’s abilities, but to see our parenting through your eyes. We ask for help in the areas where we are weak or lacking, but pray that you will keep guilt and discouragement at bay. Protect our marriages, our family, and our children. Help us to build our children up into the men and women you created them to be. In Jesus name, Amen!

*quick aside- today while leaving the library I asked my eldest to grab the hand of my youngest, and he flat out refused! (See, not perfect children) So I did what every (not perfect) mother does and yelled his socks off. Then, after calming down a bit, I took the time to explain to him all the thoughts going on in my head. We were stepping into a parking lot, I was carrying a crate full of books  that probably weighed about 30+ pounds, cars were approaching, and I had no way to grab my youngest and make sure he didn’t make a dash for the car. I had 2 options: throw 30 pound crate at my eldest and crush him, or ask for help. Putting things into that perspective my eldest felt pretty bad. Which allowed me to (not) maturely say, “Sometimes you need to trust that your mother is not just saying things to annoy you, and just do them!!”

Ha ha!

Ha ha!

Children Encouragement From the Authors

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8

mom-downloaded-oct-10-174october-10-124When my eldest was only two he started saying, “Ha ha!” in response to adults giving him direction. Not laughing, but in a snarky kind of sing-song voice, “Ha ha!”

I would say, “Time to go to bed.” And he would turn to look at me and say, “Ha ha!”

“Do not throw that toy!” And he may or may not have thrown the toy, but he would look at me, and with more sass than an entire class of middle school girls, he would say, “Ha ha!”

It got to be too much! I was just dumbfounded- where or where did he learn such language? Who taught him to be such a stinker!? I think I bemoaned the situation for a good week. My husband heard all about it. My mother heard all about it. Anyone within a five mile radius of me heard all about my poor baby and this new ‘trick’ he’d learned that was surely going to be the death of me. Two-year-olds should not have that much sass. They just shouldn’t! Dimples, rolly thighs, waddling runs, giggles, and lisps- yes! Those they can have, and in abundance! But sassiness? Absolutely not!

It was a few days into this whole production, when I was driving with my mom. My dad, driving in another car, calls to inform us of his ETA. I realize we are going to beat him to the destination and in a sing-song-snarky-kind-of voice I said, “Ha ha!” And I froze. And my mom’s head slowly turned until she was looking directly at me and she said, “It was YOU! You taught him to say it!!”

And I realized it was me. I taught that precious little rolly polly toddler to say “Ha ha!” in a super sassy voice. I had bemoaned the loss of his innocence, but it had been me leading the way!

And how true that remains to this day! I say things without thinking, things that seem fine for a grown adult to say. And then those same words pop out of their little mouths and I am just horrified! They are like little mirrors that reflect back to us the wrongness of what we have said or done! They tattle on us to strangers! Telling the clerk at the grocery store how many cups of coffee we have had today, or if we maybe were speeding a little bit on the way to get milk!

And these are just the little things!

Thankfully I had the “ha ha” experience with my first child when he was only two. My husband and I reflected a lot on that lesson over the years. We realized that our children listened to us. Whether we really thought they were paying any attention or not. And our words affect how they perceive the world around them. If we are negative in talking about something or someone, they would simply follow our lead. Their perception of the world, our neighbors, or even a friend could be drastically affected by things that my husband and I said.

I quote the verse at the top of this page a lot to my children; especially when we get stuck in complaining or worrying. Or I tell them “Worrying is like running around during a flood with a fire extinguisher. It keeps you busy, but doesn’t help much.” *

All this to say- one of the best ways to protect your child’s innocence is to monitor the words of your mouth. And oh that mouth! We have been warned about it. (James 3) And even more, this is an issue of our hearts. Our hearts should be turned towards God, and filled with God. Because then we will really be speaking wonders into our children’s lives, and into their hearts.

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. ~Luke 6:45

Lord God, thank you that you came down to us. Thank you that you sent your Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. Forgive us for being sassy, snarky, grumpy, worrisome, or down right cross. Turn our hearts again towards You, help us to search out your Word and your Truth. Fill our hearts up to overflowing with your love and peace, and please bless us to pour out that love and peace into our children’s lives! In Jesus Name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I was told this was a C.S. Lewis quote? I can’t find the reference, but you can validate it on google if you really want.

 

 

What is the Question?

What is the Question?

Children From the Authors

img_20160918_154053For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~Matthew 7:2

A trap that I find all too easy to fall into is judgement. I’m not sure why we are so quick to give opinions and to even criticize others, but I see it happening all the time. It’s even worse on the internet, because there is an anonymity that might makes us feel safe and secure in quickly spouting off our opinions. Those kinds of statements- that are quickly and perhaps thoughtlessly given- are usually not our best statements. Especially if they are judgmental statements.*

So my eldest was playing with friends. And one friend wanted to play a certain way, and no one else did. So Friend huffed off to the side, and crossing his arms over his chest loudly and peevishly proclaimed, “You aren’t being any fun! I’m not playing anymore!” Mothers were there, and the situation was dealt with promptly and Friend is not the focus of this story- my eldest is. He, having very clear ideas of right and wrong, had some comments about Friend when we were on our own. Something along the lines of, “He’s not very fun, is he?” Part of me wanted to agree and leave it alone, but that is lazy mothering- so I dove right into the deep end and began another parenting marathon. I reminded my child that he’d said those exact same words not so long ago. He tried to argue that his case was different, and on and on we went…

until I finally asked him, “What can you learn from this?”

Because when we refuse to sit in a seat of judgement over others, and instead choose to look at ourselves and where we have been and what we can do- well it seems a lot more productive to me than stating our opinions. We ended up talking about how he could have helped Friend, and apply that knowledge to how my son plays with his friends in the future.

I’ve been applying this question almost daily in my own life.

“What can I learn from this?” has led to other questions like: What could I have done differently? How can I help? Was I kind and considerate? Is the other person hurting?**

Most of us don’t walk around openly advertising the struggles we are facing every day, so it makes it easy for others to make judgmental statements. For example, you might have recently met a woman at the grocery store whose children were apparently doing their best to reenact Tarzan (the woman may or may not have looked like me, but I will plead the 5th). It would be easy to make a few judgmental statements about that mother. However, if you knew she’d only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, and had just come from a funeral, and that the kids (being kids) were simply acting out the emotions they couldn’t understand that were surrounding them and their family… Well, if you looked at that woman through those lenses, what would you do then?

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ~James 4:12

We have only one Judge. And He sees all those things that we, as people, cannot see. He sees our hearts, and knows what we are walking through. He is a good and capable judge. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say, “Let’s stop judging each other.” But I did like the idea of having a way to stop those thoughts from fully forming- to instead ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?”

Lord God, you alone see the hearts of men. You know our inner struggles, and hurts, and you also know our strengths and gifts. Help us to call out the best in others. Help us to work through our shortcomings first, and to commit to becoming better disciples of Jesus. Help us to react in love and kindness. Thank you for being a good and just judge, and for your many, many mercies to us. Bless us to extend those mercies to others. In Jesus’ Name, amen!

~Lindsay

*This is not meant to be a condemning post, and I am so very sorry if it came across that way! It is more that I wanted to share the idea of how to talk with our kids about processing situations where making a judgement about someone might be the easy thing to do.

**Really these questions work in many situations- not just when you’re tempted to judge others. They work for when we are nervous, scared, when we feel like something didn’t go quite right, or if we are sad, lonely… anything really. You could even ask them if things are going well. I think it’s called being self-reflective. Which is apparently a new idea for me… [insert sheepish looking emoji here]

When adults try to playground...
When adults try to playground…
The Journey

The Journey

Children Encouragement From the Authors

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story ~Psalm 107:2

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. Mostly in my own head. I mean, I could share my ideas with those around me… but they’re all under the age of 10. They don’t get my jokes, let alone my contemplative thoughts.

Well, that’s probably selling them short. So maybe I should share more with them… but that’s a blog post for another day.

In my last post, I mentioned that our youngest had started having seizures. So life’s been a little wild and chaotic for a bit. A little scary. A week or two before his first seizure, I actually said to my husband, “We got it really good.” And he nodded, we were driving somewhere and he was distracted. “No, really,” I continued. “We got it reaaaaally good. I don’t like those sermons where people warn you that hard times come to us all. And I don’t want to predict that over us, but I feel like we aren’t appreciating the everyday mundane. We don’t know how good we really have it, because it’s been so good for so long.”

And then yeah, stuff happened, and we were just thankful that we were still a family of five. The first seizure was awful. I had the thought that I might lose a child right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do about it.

So check out this little guy:

IMG_20160802_105547366

You know where I found him? Right here:

IMG_20160802_104855380

This is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. That little guy had been just hanging out in Lake Itasca- all in all a pretty calm lake. Life must have been a little mundane, but good. Then he somehow got through those rocks there. You can see them in the picture. Not a big deal for my kids who were climbing over them and getting soaked, heedless of their mother’s entreaties to keep their clothes dry. But for a little guy who fits in the palm of a child’s hand, those rocks must have been shocking compared to his life in Lake Itasca. And then I thought about what was ahead of him. He was going to keep floating down this river, towards the Gulf of Mexico. The realist in me thought he’d never make it. And another part of me wondered if I shouldn’t try and take him back to the lake and find a safe place for him, where he wouldn’t end up in the river again.

But as I sat and stared at that little guy, I began to think we had a little bit in common. I’d recently survived some rapids. Things have calmed down again for me, but I really don’t know what my future holds. I can’t even begin to imagine all that will happen. Sure I have plans for the future, but God has shown me time and again that my plans are small potatoes compared to his.

And then I remembered, again, the one thing that always calms me down. God is the same as he was yesterday, and as he will be tomorrow. He is good. His plans are good. He is merciful. And He does not give us more than we can handle.

So I put that little guy back in the river. Well, more accurately, I made a little boy put him back in the river. We were at the point where I foresaw that little guy coming home in someone’s pocket. So I did the mom thing where you use their middle name, and then I watched that little snail-thing lazily float away. And instead of sharing all my inner musings with my children, who probably would have been astounded, I laughed quietly at myself and returned to the age old tradition of mothers everywhere- nagging. Because who wants to drive home with a wet bum?

But all this to say, the journey is not always smooth or easy. But we are held in hands far stronger and wiser than that little boy’s. Wherever you are in the journey, you can trust in that.

Lord thank you that you see me, and you know me. You know right where I am at, and you know where I am going. You do not forsake us, but come after us time and again. Thank you for being so much better than I could ever imagine. Thank you that you are still in charge, even when it doesn’t seem possible. And I praise you for your wonderful creation- that mighty river that starts out so small and peaceful, that little snail I held in my hand, those wonderful babies you have given me. Thank you for all of that, and so much more. Everyday, more and more, help me to look around and to see your hand at work. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I see that there are run-on sentences in this blog post. Don’t worry, I see it. But writing how I talk is really hard grammatically. I’m a math major. With a lot to say. Writing is hard. The end.

 

A Child’s Faith

A Child’s Faith

Children Encouragement

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~Mark 10:14-15

Who wouldn't want this ninja praying for them?
Who wouldn’t want this ninja praying for them?

Childlike faith. What is that even? I think as an adult it is too easy to forget what childlike anything is. Let alone childlike faith.

So a quick story for you. Recently an adult asked my son to pray for her. She had a pretty big prayer request. Kind of a more adult prayer request.* Not inappropriate or anything, but it was a serious issue. When I think of my children praying, I think of my youngest saying, “Thank you, God, for horsies, dolphins, ponies, and unicorns. Amen.” (Seriously, this is his daily prayer.) What I don’t think about them praying for is those deeper burdens that we face as adults. The kind of prayer requests that for some reason feel ‘heavy’ to me. Something in me wants to shield them from those things. From ‘adulthood.’ From life.

So, right after this friend shares her prayer request with my eldest, my three children and I pile into the car to leave. And before we’re even to the end of the driveway, my son says to me, “She wants us to pray for her.” He then proceeds to share the prayer request with the rest of us. And now all of my children and I know the burden that has fallen on this friend of ours. And I think, wow I don’t know that I would have told little children about that… But I don’t want to let this slip by, so I said, “Let’s make sure to pray for her right now!” And we did. Right there in the car on the way home, we prayed. The rest of the drive home is talking about prayer, how I like to pray right away if someone asks me to pray for them (mostly so I don’t forget**), how we can keep praying for that person, how God knows what this person is going through, how God answers all of our prayers (but not always how we planned), and some talk about the actual prayer request… It was one of those conversations with children where I was not sure how much of what I was saying was really being heard and understood. But we made a good attempt. I patted myself on the back. Job well done Mama!

Now to dinner. My husband asks my daughter to say the prayer at dinner. She thanks God for the food and then reiterates the prayer request. Which was when I realized, not job well done, Mama! I had already moved on, I had figured my kids had too. Meanwhile my husband’s eyes had popped wide open and he was giving me a confused and questioning look across the dinner table (clearly communicating through silent parent lingo: What in the world happened today?). When she finished praying my youngest piped up, he wanted to pray too. So he says, “Thank you, God, for horsies,dolphins, ponies and unicorns. And…” then he prays for this woman too. I’m eating dinner thinking how her simple prayer request has now been lifted up to God three times. How my kids were taking this friend’s prayer request more seriously than I was. How important it was to them that they had been asked to pray. They weren’t going to just let this issue slip their mind after one prayer. And it didn’t stop there! Since then my children have been adding her to their nightly prayers, and adding to the blessing they’re asking for her. It seems like each time they pray, they boldly ask for a little bit more. With simple faith in their God, they are asking for big things. As an adult, I’m thinking, “Is that even possible?” And suddenly I begin to understand what childlike faith is. It’s trusting God to be God. It’s trusting that He can do anything He wants to. It’s not worrying about the details and what is possible or even probable. It’s simple, and it’s beautiful.

Now back to the idea that a prayer request would feel ‘heavy’ to me. Just who in the world do I think I am!? I am not God. My job in a prayer request is not to solve the problem, or answer the prayer. My job is simply to light up a neon billboard and point it at that person (whom God is already looking at), and say, “Hey! Here! You are needed and wanted here! Come and be here!” That’s it. Seeing my children pray for this person, has really opened my eyes to how simple prayer requests can be. I just keep pointing God over to that person, and I wait for His answer. I don’t have to do anything. (Well… other than pray, of course.)

All this to say, don’t undersell your children!! Their prayers are just as effective (if not more so). Watching my kids pray for this woman, has been like water on dry land for my prayer life. If they can pray like that, believe like that, and keep coming to God with expectation, then I can too. And to this friend of ours who asked a young boy for prayer- you better buckle your seat belt and put on a helmet. God is coming for you in a B.I.G. way, Girly. I don’t know what He will do with all these prayers, but it is going to rock your world.

Lphone july to oct 2014 134

Thank you, God, that you hear us. Thank you God for the reminder of what childlike faith can look like. You don’t need us to understand everything about this world. You don’t even need us to understand half of it. We just need to come to You with our needs and open our hearts to the work You are doing. I again ask for your blessing over this friend, and what she is going through. I ask that you would move in even mightier ways than we could ever imagine! And Lord, for all of us, help us to open up our hearts to you like children. Thank you for calling us your children. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Just a small disclaimer here. For anonymity, I didn’t list the person or her prayer request. I don’t have permission to share it here. BUT it was not a topic that children couldn’t handle. Of course there are prayers that we don’t give to children. Topics that they aren’t emotionally ready for. But it is okay to let our kids know there is suffering in the world. It is okay to trust them with harder topics. I was totally fine with this friend sharing her struggles with my children. It was just that I would not have thought to share these kind of struggles with my children. Mostly because I would think ‘what can they do about it.’ And that is just the point- we cannot do anything. BUT GOD CAN.

**yes, yes, I’m a terrible option for your prayer requests. I forget.

 

 

Snail Mail

Snail Mail

Activity Children

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I know something simple my children really really love. Mail! They love getting a letter in the mail. It makes them feel special.

I know something simple I like to do to help my children learn. Write letters! Spelling, handwriting, stringing together thoughts and sentences, small motor skills, artwork… the list can go on and on. Having my kids write letters is a way I help them to learn and grow. And it is not just for educational growth. When they write thank you letters after getting a birthday present, we can have all kinds of talks about family and friends and generosity. Letter writing is a big deal!

I was never a big card person. Growing up, the birthday card was always optional. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just the way it was. But I had a friend that changed that. She was taught early on that a handwritten thank you was a necessity. Birthday cards were a must. And at Christmas, without fail, you sent out a letter. It took me awhile to catch on, but I finally realized (after receiving many letters and thank yous from her) that letters/cards were important to her. And if she is my friend, and it was important to her… than I guess it should be important to me too. So I started writing thank you cards to her.

My husband writes letters (I think… I’ve never gotten one since we were married*). Just little notes to encourage others, or to let someone know he is thinking of them. One day he told me he was going to try to write one letter a week. At least that was his goal, when he asked me to get him a lot of blank cards. Proud of him, I bought the jumbo pack. I think about 100 cards were in there. I don’t know if he has used them all, but it is a really nice thought.

Snail Mail.

I was just thinking about it because I mailed out a few letters today, and my kids were asking when they would get some mail. So of course I told them they would have to write letters first. And the only thing my daughter wants to put in any letter she writes is, “Please write back!” And I was laughing at her, but I got to thinking… is anyone sending mail to kids these days? Is anyone sending mail at all?

So if you have someone who needs encouragement, let me encourage you to write them a little card. If you haven’t thanked someone, then maybe you could send them a card? Or if you have a child in your life, then why don’t you go ahead and send them a card. (Just a note on cards to children: if you put a piece of gum, or some stickers in the card- you’re a hero for months to come! Mail is good. Mail and gum- can’t be beat!)

I don't have pictures of my kids writing letters, but this is a grocery list my son wrote for me... when I got to the grocery store and looked at it, I realized we were in trouble.
I don’t have pictures of my kids writing letters, but this is a grocery list my son wrote for me… when I got to the grocery store and looked at it, I realized we were in trouble.
And just for fun... I call this picture, "Can you spot the two-year-old?"
And just for fun… I call this picture, “Can you spot the two-year-old?”
If you found the two-year-old, then I'm assuming you are a professional at hide and seek? Obviously my children are not...
If you found the two-year-old, then I’m assuming you are a professional at hide and seek? Obviously my children are not… (but they are entertaining!)

May the Lord Your God write his love letter clearly upon your hear so that you will be a blessing and encouragement to others! In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*With the obvious exception of birthdays and anniversaries.

**Just a note to let you all know that while I was writing this a woodpecker decided to start knocking on the wall. Since I’m on the second floor and did not know it was a woodpecker, I kinda freaked out a little. So, if there are some disjointed sentences… it’s because I jumped ten feet in the air, and hit my head on the ceiling.

 

Repurposed

Repurposed

Activity Children

IMG_20150726_090818330For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. ~1 Peter 1:23

My kids are really into fort making. Every chair and blanket in the house is constantly being dragged into a giant pile. I see that pile, but I do not always see my children’s creativity. I see a gigantic mess. When you are daily having to separate, and then drag bedding back into the correct rooms, and then remake beds for the 10th time… well, it might get a little old. So I got to thinking. And I called Mom. Mom doesn’t throw stuff. She is not a hoarder, their house is clean and neat… but there is a lot of stuff in a certain room in the basement (organized on shelves). Since she saved all our childhood toys, and now has grandchildren who love exploring these ancient relics that can only be found in her basement or at toy museums, she feels she has proven the worth in keeping things. So if I ever need something, I know who to call.

I called her and asked for sheets. They are light weight, and a lot easier to make forts out of (hence the kids always grabbing all their bedding). And Mom obliged me and said she would bring some when she came to visit. But never one to do things half way, she talked to a coworker who informed her that one of the best gifts her kids ever got was a fort making kit. So Mom looked around and found our old suitcase. Then she had Dad run and get a few materials (clothes pins, clips, and twine). And when she arrived she did not have sheets, like I had thought, but an entire kit. The kids have been endlessly busy with the kit. And I have not had to remake beds once!

It was such a great idea, I had to share it. But of course I was thinking how Mom used stuff she had laying around to create a really great gift for my kids. Then I got to thinking about how my husband made me a pallet shelf (a really cute shelf made from an old pallet), and how ‘repurposing’ seems to be everywhere lately. There are shops all over town where people are ‘repurposing’ old stuff into cute new things that you would want to buy*. Web sites are full of design ideas for repurposing. It’s a booming business!

IMG_20150726_090459074_HDR
Making a fort, horses are welcome.
Tent making kit: Bag to contain all items, sheets, twine**, clips, and clothes pins.
Tent making kit: Bag to contain all items, sheets, twine**, clips, and clothes pins.
Yo. Tent making gang?
Yo.
Tent making gang?

But of course, then I thought how God was the original repurposer (is that even a word?). He looked down at sinful man, and thought, “Yep. I can do something great here!” And He did! It took a great amount of work (the cross), but He accomplished it. And now we who believe are repurposed for Christ. Think of the old things that people take and make into something new- rusty buckets become beautiful planters full of character and fun to look at. God is doing this in our lives! When you think of the transformation Jesus can make in any life, I think you can really see the power of God. And I do mean in any life! God’s promises are for everyone. Isn’t that great?!

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. ~1 Peter 1:17-22

May God show you the ways He has already worked in your life. May your eyes be opened to the new things He is doing. And may you be blessed with the knowledge that God has a purpose for you! I pray that you would lay hold of that purpose and everyday become more the person you were created to be. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*At one store I saw an old bed pan repurposed into a flower pot… I did question that one.

**I was a little confused about the twine in the tent kit? But then Mom (of course) demonstrated its uses. You can wind the twine from chair to chair, making a support for the ‘roof’ of your fort. [picture me watching my mother with a very stupid look on my face]

Parenting Choices

Parenting Choices

Children From the Authors

Parenting is hard.

turtleI sometimes joke that the hardest part of parenting is having a creature loving son who is always bringing animals of different varieties into our house. Bugs included!* Currently we have two painted turtles taking a little vacation in our fish tank, while we study their behaviors and research what turtles do and eat. The turtles are ok with me (a lot better than bugs!!). Except when you are surprised by one when you are getting into the shower.**

But really, dealing with creepy crawly creatures is easy in comparison to all the decisions a parent makes on a daily basis. Before becoming a parent, I never thought about all the little things I would have to do to help my children to grow (and I’m not talking about height here, but maturity, kindness, health wise, wisdom…).

Recently we had another fun episode.*** In public. Which always amplifies my parenting choices for me, because I feel like I am on display for other parents. And I wish I wasn’t so aware of myself, and more aware of my children. But I’m human, so I won’t beat myself up too badly. The situation was that another child took the things that my son was playing with. So my son decided to take one back. However, the other boy, seeing that my son was taking back one of the things he wanted, chased after my son and ended up falling and crying.

What to do?

Well, I have learned a few things about parenting in the last seven years. First of all, take a deep breath and don’t panic. That’s always a good place to start (and usually a miracle if I can manage it!). Second, ask questions. More and more I am not telling my children what they should be doing, but asking them what they think they should be doing. I’m always surprised at what they already know. So I asked what happened. I asked if my son thought it was okay. I asked what he thought he should do. And he had all the right answers. He even said he should apologize.

Lphone july to oct 2014 114But my heart was hurting too. Because my son has a strong sense of justice. And he knew that the other child had taken things from him. And second, he felt like he had done something wrong. And this beautiful child of mine, takes after me. So I know that if you tell him he did something wrong, he hears in his heart that he is wrong.

So all the parents got to witness our little interaction, and the resulting apology, and then the frustrated tears. What they didn’t get to see was the long conversation afterwards. We talked about how it was an accident, and that accidents are not a big deal, they just happen. Then we moved on to the importance of saying sorry, and why we say sorry. Which then brought us to our talk on justice, and finally led to more conversation on how we cannot control others or demand apologies. The other parents did not see the struggle we had to accept these facts. They only saw that tiny interaction we had at the gym.

All this to say, we need parent cheerleaders. We see so many parents doing a tiny fraction of their parenting in public. But we don’t know what they are going through on a day to day basis. We don’t know what conversations happen after they leave the gym, or the grocery store, or the playground. We don’t know.

What I do know is that encouragement can go a long way. And parents need to hear that they are doing a good job. They need to know that what they are doing is important. And it is! The things we teach our children will be taught to their children. It will help shape the future! And when we share the truth of Jesus with our children we have an eternal impact on their lives.

So hug a parent today. Tell them what strengths you see in them. And help them to realize how important their job really is. Thanks!

God bless you and keep you! I pray that God will show you your strengths, and bring you encouragement tody. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*I guarantee you will never meet an adult more afraid of bugs than yours truly.

**In which case a blood curdling scream is perfectly acceptable.

***and by “fun,” I mean not fun. Not even a little bit.

Not Fair

Not Fair

Children From the Authors

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

Ever read the part in the Bible where it says that if you believe in Jesus your life will be easy peasy from here on out? No? Me neither. Pretty sure that’s not in the Bible. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved!*” Yes. That is in the Bible. But saved does not mean an easy life.

My eldest son has been doing a lot of questioning. And the sum total of all his questions is that one phrase all children use at some point in their lives: it’s not fair!**

This is my older son, demonstrating that he is the "King of the Mountain."
This is my older son, demonstrating that he is the “King of the Mountain.”

First of all, he sees things through his limited perspective. For example: It is not fair that he has to do the dishes by himself, but I help his younger sister when it is her turn to do the dishes.

I, as his parent, have a different perspective (just like God’s perspective is so much more farseeing than my own limited perspective). I have tried explaining that when he was four, I helped him with dishes. But reasoning only gets you so far when your child has documented so much ‘unfairness.’ He just brings up the next item on the list.

So, I remembered an analogy from my college days. We were discussing the purpose of special education in schools. And someone brought up the word ‘fair.’ (As in, “Is it fair to give a student notes, but make everyone else take their own notes?) And the professor quickly addressed the deeper issue. To most of us ‘fair’ translates as ‘equal’ (or everyone gets the exact same thing). But in this instance, we were talking about something a student needed to be able to succeed.

The professor shared an analogy with my class that has stuck with me. It goes something like:

If I were in a room with ten people, and suddenly Bob fell over from a heart attack, and I knew CPR, what should I do? Should I help Bob? Or should I say, “Bob, I’m sorry. But it would not be fair if I only gave CPR to you and no one else. So I will give CPR to everyone or no one.”

I really liked that analogy. It’s a very stark example of why we would choose not to make everything the same. And it boils down to someone’s need.

I’ve used it when talking about parenting with my husband. Does fair mean “equal” or does it mean something else? Having three children, we are always amazed at how different they are. They were raised in the same household, have had a lot of the same opportunities and experiences. And they are so so so very different. We have tried not to use the word fair or unfair, and tried to focus on what they need. And what is best for them.

But being children, they of course picked up on the whole fair/unfair idea. So what do we tell them?

Since I think my little analogy is over their heads for now, I’ve just responded to “That’s not fair!” With one simple sentence.

“Fair does not mean everything is the same. What’s fair is that you are loved.”

And being loved is a gift that some of us take for granted. And while my oldest son gives me a look whenever I pull out this sentence, at least he’s not arguing with me about it. Because what I am saying is that I love him. That I care for him, and I hear him, and I understand him. But also that I am doing my best, and he is just going to have to do the dishes. I hope he is thinking it over. And as he grows we can keep talking about fair, and unfair.

Life is not always easy, or even good. But God is always good. And He is for us, not against us.

Be blessed to love others with all your heart. And may God renew you with His everlasting, unending, never-failing love. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*For example, in Acts 16:31

**When my son says, “It’s not fair!” The immediate response I want to give is, “Life’s not fair. Get used to it!” But… that doesn’t go over well with a clever seven-year-old who is really good at debating.

Hear My Prayer Activity Pages

Hear My Prayer Activity Pages

Book 1 Children

   And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best ~Philippians 1:9-10a

We are working on some activity pages. And I have to say, they are pretty cool. But that’s just my opinion. You will have to check it out for yourself, and let us know!

activity image 2
Pete is saying “Well thats a prooty good list.”

The idea behind the activity pages was to give parents another tool for talking about prayer and the Bible with their children. Activities we have so far:

  • A page with verses you can look up and discuss with your child (always good to read the Bible!).
  • A page that asks the kids what they think Porkie and Pete are praying about.
  • And the last page asks the kids to make a prayer list for themselves. (Also a chance to color Porkie and Pete!)

My favorite part of the activities is asking kids to make their own prayer list, and then checking back with it after a few days/weeks/months (whatever works for you). My kids light up like Christmas trees when they find out that God has answered their prayers. It confirms to them that God does care about them, and that God really does hear our prayers!

My older son has been wanting to get his picture “on the internet.” So he did a few activities, and now he is “famous.” (His words) Kids are too funny! He is in love with the planet and animals. He has a lot of concern for “extinkt animals.” It is fun to see his cares and concerns as he prays. (And kid spelling is always entertaining!)

May God bless you with wisdom, and give you insight into the hearts of the children in your life. May you be filled with compassion as you teach and love these children God has blessed you with. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay
Hear My Prayer Activity Page4

Click Here: Hear My Prayer – Activity Pages

Pete Prayer Activity Sheet