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!!”

Emmanuel

Emmanuel

From the Authors

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,img_20151225_095924089_hdr and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” ~Matthew 1:23

Emmanuel; God is with us.

Matthew 1 is pretty great. I know I didn’t always have an appreciation of the genealogy of Jesus. I just really liked the end of the chapter; the name Emmanuel- the thought that God came down to be with us. I always liked that.

But the story isn’t just about that 1 night in Bethlehem. It’s not even about the next thirty some years of Jesus life. (Though without Jesus’ life, the story wouldn’t have any point at all.) But the story starts way back at the beginning before there was time. God has always always been preparing and making a way for us to be together with Him.

And His Plan to rescue little ol’ us, proves his sovereignty. Look at that genealogy in Matthew 1! Was there ever a better list of screw ups and nobodies? And God chose them to bring about Jesus’ entrance into the world. He chose them, so He could rescue us. It was His great plan. If you go back and read through the stories, you begin to really fathom the grace and love of God.

One of my favorites in all the stories is Jacob’s dream. Not so much because of the dream, as amazing as that is. Mostly I’m always interested in the beginning of the story where he lays down and puts his head on a rock? Why a rock? Wouldn’t the dirt ground be more comfortable? Then he has his amazing dream and…

Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” ~Genesis 28:16

I think that will be us towards the end of our lives. We will look back at all that God has done and finally realize He was with us the whole time. And we will say, “Surely the Lord has been with us- and we did not even know it!”

Because the Lords’ love is greater than we could ever fathom:

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

So go to your Christmas Eve service, and hear the story again. And may you be blessed to find something new and fresh about who God is and what He is doing in your life!

Merry Christmas!

Lord God, help us to see you at work in our lives right now. We don’t want to be like Jacob, realizing you were with us only after the fact. Help us to stand before you open-handed and with open hearts, ready to receive all the gifts you have for us. We thank you so much for the most awesome gift you’ve given of Jesus. At this time of year we remember how good you are and rejoice. But we also know that Easter will come, and that there was a sacrifice that had to be made on our behalf. Help us to truly treasure the gift you have given- Yourself, and Your Love. Thank you, Jesus. Amen!

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…
What Is Prayer For?

What Is Prayer For?

From the Authors

I was reminded today of something I had forgotten: what prayer is for.

I think we get so caught up in what we think we need, and what we think would be best, that we easily forget what prayer is really for. Or, possibly, I could say who prayer is really for.

Now there is not one answer to the question ‘What is prayer for?’. There are probably a million answers. But I’m talking about those moments where you are almost groaning out loud in frustration. When you are wondering, is it something lacking in me? Is there something more I should be doing? When you are searching for just the right words to move God’s heart.

Recently I have been groaning in prayer, racking my brain and trying to figure out how to move God’s heart.
Silly, silly me. I had forgotten:

My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
    holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
~Luke 1:46-50

I move God’s heart. Not because of big fancy words, not because I have been good (or bad). I move His heart, because God loves me. Just like my children can move my heart when they come to me, I am God’s child, and I move his heart.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~1 John 3:1

And while prayer is for praising God, for presenting our petitions to the Lord, for others, for ourselves- the one thing I forgot was that when I pray, something in my heart changes. I was so focused on trying to move God’s heart, I forgot that my heart is healed when I am connected to God. It’s as if the simple act of choosing to pray, turns my gaze- or even my entire being- towards God. And if I am looking at God, I am not focused on me. I am not distracted by the bad around me- instead my attention is being consumed by Him.

I’ve done it a hundred times. Ever have a situation that is so upsetting or frustrating, and then start to pray about it… and even before the situation is resolved, something in your heart begins to change? Suddenly you have more grace for those involved, suddenly you have compassion and can start to understand where the other person is coming from. When I pray, more often than not, the first thing to change is me.

Prayer is for me.

Prayer is for a million things, but first and foremost prayer is for me.

And it’s for you.

Even when walking through some of the most difficult and heart breaking situations in life- prayer is for you. When things are going well- prayer is for you. When you are heartbroken and alone- prayer is for you. When all is well- prayer is for you. When you aren’t sure you can even face the next day- prayer is for you.

If it’s a day that ends with the letter y, then prayer is for you.

I have a saying. Well, I have a few. But I have one that I say so often, my daughter picked this Coke out for me:img_20160827_115802387_hdr

And when I’ve walked through some of the harder times in life, I feel like this could be my motto for prayer. Because at some point I’ve used up all my resources, worked at the problem from every angle, reached the end of my rope and come up empty handed. I’ve felt defeated, and I’ve admitted that I was facing the impossible. In those moments, what should I pray for? It might be a little late by then, but it’s as good a time as any to pray for the impossible. Because when He comes through for you, then you’ll know that He is mindful of you. And if things don’t turn out how you imagined, your eyes might be opened to what He has been doing through it all. And there is something about praying those big impossible prayers, about casting all your hopes and fears on Him who set the world spinning around the sun, about knowing that you cannot do a thing, so you are going to have to rely on Him. As soon as I turn my gaze towards Him, already my heart is changing, already He is answering my cry.

God is faithful in prayer. He is faithful to you.

And prayer is for you.

Lord, thank you that you are faithful to us. That you are mindful to us. I ask for boldness in prayer, and discernment to see what you are doing around us and in us. Help us not to give up on prayer, help us to tune out the voices that bring fear, anxiety, and anger. Instead fill our hearts with your peace, love, and understanding. And thank you for creating prayer, for making prayer multifaceted and multipurposed. You are good, amazing, and so very brilliant. Thank you, Lord! Amen

~Lindsay

 

 

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.

 

Where is the Blog?

Where is the Blog?

From the Authors

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.

IMG_20160530_201937794Where is the blog?

Keeping a blog going is hard work. Sometimes I feel like I’ve run out of ideas, and I have nothing to say. I don’t want to post a blog just to post a blog. Our hope has always been that these posts would be little bits of encouragement. I don’t intend to post something unless it holds some meaning for me. And recently blogging dropped in its priority, but also I couldn’t find the words. I tried to write, but it seemed forced and not exactly authentic. I didn’t like that feeling, hence no posts came. But I didn’t know how to get started again. So I’ll just be honest.

At the beginning of May, our youngest son started having seizures. Seizures are scary. When you aren’t expecting them, it’s even more terrifying. And whenever your child is hurting, that’s a terror that I cannot put into words. So we have had two months of doctor appointments and being on high-alert. Someone has to have their eyes on him at all times, until we can get things under control. That is stressful on top of scary. Not to mention the sleep we were lacking because we were unsure of what to do during the nights. Seizures are also scary because there isn’t always a clear reason as to why. As one doctor said, “The good news is there is no bad news,” (he meant no tumor or obvious brain damage), ” but the bad news is we don’t know the cause.”

So I was going through a new kind of emotional roller coaster these last few months. But I’ll tell you the one thing that always kept me grounded: The knowledge that God is the same as He was yesterday, and will be tomorrow. He is unchanging. That big BIG God who spoke the world into being, He’s still on his throne. He is unshakeable, unmovable. So when I felt like my world was falling apart, hearing those words- or even reminding myself that God is still God, allowed a peace to come in and settle over my heart.

Not saying it’s been easy. No, not at all. But there is peace in the middle of a storm. And we were sure lifted up in prayer, and I felt that.

So all this to say, I couldn’t write a blog post without sharing this- because to pretend like life was still okay and everything here was the same as always didn’t feel right. But at the same time, some kind of stoic-Norwegian and stubborn-German gene combination within me demands that I not share personal information like this, because it might be seen as seeking pity. And what a lie! We were made for community. I know that when we share our burdens and our hardships sometimes it lightens our load, sometimes our stories can encourage those who are going through similar trials. (Of course you can always fall off the other side of the horse, and be that person who shares every little misery with every person you meet… but there is a happy medium to be found… I’m still trying to get there.)

So now you know, where I’ve been. And let me tell you the good news- my little guy is doing fine. While seizures are scary to watch, they don’t usually have any long term or lasting effects. (Thank you, Jesus!) So he is still one tough little kid, who is running around with his big brother and sister. He’s learning more everyday, and running faster, and growing bigger. And, like in ALL things, God pulls good out of these situations*. We have a new appreciation for just an average day, we recognize what a blessing that is! When we have worried or wondered if what we are doing is the right thing, it seems like someone has come along or something has happened to give us peace or steer us in the right direction. I could go on and on, but this post has gotten long enough for now.

We are well! And we thank you for your prayers and concern.

Lord, I thank you so much for how you care for us. I thank you for the community of friends and family we have around us. I thank you that prayer is powerful and brings goodness to our lives and our hearts. I thank you that you know us, you hear us, you see us. Even when we feel lost, confused, or afraid, You are still there with us. I thank you for your Word that promises that you are pulling good out of the bad, that you are rearranging the pieces of our life into a beautiful pattern that we cannot begin to comprehend in this lifetime. I again proclaim that I trust You! In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28

I will say it again: Rejoice!

I will say it again: Rejoice!

From the Authors

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! ~Philippians 4:4

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. ~Romans 12:15

You know what I need to work on? Rejoicing. If I am going to be calling myself a Christian, then I should probably be looking like a real Christian. I’m not sure what you think a Christian looks like, but I don’t think there is a cookie cutter mold for every Christian. We aren’t supposed to look exactly alike- we are the Body of Christ, and we all have different gifts, and different purposes.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. ~1 Corinthians 12:12

TIMG_20140712_212754227hat being said, we don’t need to look exactly like our brother/sister in Christ. But we should be rejoicing. And we should be rejoicing with one another.

What is she talking about? Well, we had a family over for dinner. It was so much fun! The adults were chatting happily, and their three kids were running around with our three kids- everyone had a blast! Then it was time for the other family to go home. If you have young children, I don’t need to go into the details. Kids don’t want to part from one another, even if it is bath night and close to someone’s bedtime… So one way or another it was decided that the older boys could hang out a bit longer, and my husband would run Big Brother’s friend home when it was closer to the big-boy’s bed time.

IMG_20140712_212754227Aug 21 234My daughter was not happy. Her friend had gone home. And while she was prepping for bed, her big brother was running around and giggling with his buddy. Life is tough.

“What’s wrong?” I asked the pouting tooth brusher.
“Send him home!” She said through a mouth full of toothpaste bubbles.
“Send your brother’s friend home?” I asked.
An empathetic yes accompanied by a fierce pout was the response.
“How do you think your brother will feel about that?”
“Well, I don’t have my friend!”
“Yes, you don’t have your friend. But I asked you, how will your brother feel if we send his friend home?”
Silent pouting.
“And how do you think his friend will feel? It looks like they are both having fun, do you think our friend would be happy if I went outside and told him to go home?”
“Well next time just my friend gets to stay!”
“Hmmm…” I began washing the face that never fails to have remnants from every meal of the day somewhere on it, “And how would your brother and his friend feel if next time I said, ‘You can’t play together. Go home!’?”
“Well, it’s not fair!” was the over the shoulder response as I steered her towards her bedroom.
“You mean, it’s not equal? Do you think everything has to be equal all the time?”
A decisive nod. Because everyone thinks that everything would be okay, if only everything were equal.
So I reminded her of the time her brother had to come home with me while she got to stay and play with a friend. And the time she stayed with me so she got to have cookies, and her brother had none. I thought of a few other examples and then said, “Well, if everything is going to be equal, I suppose that you cannot have a friend over next time, because you’ve already had someone over twice. And also the next time we make cookies, you get none.”
This long litany of times where the unequal scale was tipped in her favor was met with quiet. So I slowly tucked her into bed.
“You know what I would love?” I said into the quiet. “I would love if our family could be happy when their brother or sister is happy. And not worry about who is more happy, or who has had more time with friends. I would love if we did not worry about everything being equal, but if we could be happy for each other. You just need to remember that happy times will come for you too.”

Now this is a hard and cumbersome talk to have with a five-year-old. But I suppose an optimistic parent hopes that these kind of talks will stick little by little. But what struck me was, later that evening, as I was tucking in Big Brother, I had almost the exact same conversation. The next day’s activities included something his sister really enjoyed, but he merely tolerated. So he said we shouldn’t go. I asked him how he thought that would make his sister feel? Then he said he should get to do something equally fun, because that would be what is fair. So I told him about the conversation I had just had with his sister who had to wave goodbye to her friend, while he got an extra half hour with his friend.

There was a quiet reflective moment. And then I said again, “I hope we can be a family who will choose to be happy for each other. If something goes well for someone, let’s choose to be happy for one another. Even if we feel like we didn’t get what we want. I would love if your joy could be my joy, and if my joy could be yours. I would like to share my joy with you.”

Tucking kids into bed is hard parenting. Seriously.

But it was good reflection for me too. This is jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what others have. It is missing out on sharing our joys. And I am just as guilty as my kids. I am just as likely to measure and assess what I deserve. And I am quick to notice if I am not getting as good of a deal as someone else. But that verse in Romans has been on my mind lately. Rejoice with those who rejoice. All Christians do not need to look exactly like each other. BUT, we do need to rejoice with each other. We should celebrate each other’s accomplishments, smile when someone else is having a good day- even if we are not. It’s not always easy to rejoice with others. We are very aware of the negative in our own lives, the ‘unfairness.’ We could easily choose bitterness and jealousy, that’s our human nature. BUT wouldn’t it be beautiful, wonderful, amazing, and so much better to be able to share in someone’s joy? If we let go of having to have everything equal, what would life look like then?

 Lord, forgive us for being jealous and bitter. Forgive us for thinking that if only things were equal, then we would be happy. That’s a lie. Happiness is knowing you, trusting you, and realizing that what we have is more than enough. I know that we can face truly hard times that make this hard to believe, but Lord, please reassure us now. Fill our hearts with the truth of your love. Bring peace and freedom to our lives, and help us to truly let go of our jealousies. I pray you would shine your light into these areas of our lives. And even more, I ask that we could learn to truly share in the joys of others. To rejoice with our friends and family, and especially to rejoice in who You are! In Jesus name, Amen.

~Lindsay

 

Mr. Magoo

Mr. Magoo

From the Authors

 keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
~Psalm 16:8

This is my Mr. Magoo. He just had a birthday, and decided to just open his birthday presents while no one was looking (first thing in the morning). And yes, we got him a shovel. It promises to be an interesting (and dirt filled) spring!
This is my Mr. Magoo. He just had a birthday, and decided to just open his birthday presents while no one was looking (first thing in the morning). And yes, we got him a shovel. It promises to be an interesting (and dirt filled) spring!

My littlest boy has discovered the joy of binoculars. He’s running around with them pressed up to his eyes… and he’s completely blind with them. The art of peering through binoculars is an acquired skill. It takes practice. Apparently lots of practice. My little guy keeps running into furniture and walls. He can’t see what’s right in front of him because he is “looking” through the binoculars. It’s so cute. So very cute. As a parent I am just in love with my little-Mr.-Magoo.

But once again, God whispers to me- that’s you. I’m so busy looking forward to the future, and to what is coming next, that I am missing this moment. And this is truly the only moment I have. I cannot relive the past, and I cannot live in the future. I need to be here, in the present. Or I’m going to miss all these adorable moments with my children. If I’m always looking to the future, I’m going to miss a lot.

Just be here. Just be here, in this moment. I keep whispering this phrase to myself. Slow down, and just be here.

Right now is a gift. This moment, this breath, my husband, these children, this life… it’s all a gift. Don’t miss the gift!

Thank you, Lord, for this moment. Help us to breath it in and focus our eyes on You. Help us to see the gifts you have given us this day. Help us not to worry about the future, and help us to reconcile our pasts. Let us grab hold of the things you have placed before us for this day, that we could accomplish your purposes today for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

~Lindsay

I was at a friend's house when this guy came to call...?
I was at a friend’s house when this guy came to call…?

 

What kind of love is this?

What kind of love is this?

From the Authors

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7

We have a radio station in town that I listen to when we can get it. Some days we are just out of range. Some days we pick up the station no problem. I don’t understand the science of it, but I really like that radio station. I’m always checking to see if maybe today I will be able to hear them.*

So picture a woman driving, hearing a song that sounds like it could be her new favorite, and willing the radio station to pick it up. I can hear the tune, then I hear a little static, some more of the tune, and then a basketball announcer is interrupting the music, then I can hear some lyrics. The lyrics I heard this week were, “what love is.”

And it struck me. If I focused on God as I do on this radio station, life would probably be going a lot better. I mean, I was straining to hear the radio station. If, in our daily lives, through all the distractions, we keep our eyes on Christ… wouldn’t that be amazing? If we were willed ourselves to find more of God in the everyday, and strained to see His Goodness all around us- well, that would be pretty radical.

Even as I thought about that, those lyrics came back to me again, “what love is.” And of course, I knew the answer.

 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ~John 15:13

IMG_20160220_102839145_HDR
my mom and baby girl

And I started thinking… have we been loving people like that? Have we, the Church, been loving people with a willingness to put their wellbeing before our own? Perhaps, in most relationships, that is asking too much of humans. But have we been putting the needs of others before the wants of ourselves? I’m going to go ahead and say no. At least I haven’t. And before you fall off the other side of the horse, I don’t think Jesus is calling us to a miserable life where we only do what other people want and never get to do what we want. No! Sometimes Jesus wants us to tell people no. Sometimes Jesus wants us to tell ourselves no. Sometimes we need discipline, correction, or those other unpleasant growing pains that make us into better people. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. If we are in God’s will, we have that fruit in our lives. We have joy. Not misery. JOY!

So this is what happens when I am alone for longer than five minutes in the car. It starts with radio surfing and ends with the random wonderings of a woman who has a moment to herself.

Anyway…

My questions for today come in two parts:

  1. Are you pursuing God throughout the day? Like with a radio, are we straining to hear His voice through the static and the distractions?
  2. And are you loving people unconditionally? Without asking that they fix themselves or do something for you, are you choosing to care for others right where they are at?**

I’m sorry to say that I can’t answer “Definitely yes!” But I am happy to say that God is not through with me- I am a work in progress! And thankfully His mercy is new every morning.

Lord, thank you that we are able to accept your gentle correction. That you are mindful of us, and speak to us, and lovingly correct us. Please turn our steps, again, back to the path You have laid out before us. Help us to choose You, to choose Your Ways. Increase the love in our hearts, and the joy in our lives. And do this for Your Glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

~Lindsay

*Yes, I’m weird. I try to listen to radio stations that are staticish.

**Again “love” is not what the media has portrayed it to be. It is not a license to do as you please to someone. It is not a ‘yes’ to anything you want. It does not make us slaves to someone else, it does not hurt us. If you want to know what love is, go back to the beginning of this post…