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.

 

 

It’s coming…

It’s coming…

Book 1 Children From the Authors Our Story

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,9-14***

This picture summarizes kids- whether we are at home, or in public.
This picture summarizes kids- whether we are at home, or in public.

Let me (very quickly) comment on the last line, and the ‘fear of the Lord.‘ I used to struggle with this. If Jesus is my friend, why would I be afraid of him?

Now, skip to my most recent shopping adventure with three young children, where I am out in public. One child is screaming and throwing My Little Pony umbrellas on the ground, while the other two are playing a very rowdie game of hide-and-seek. I try to act like a better mom, getting down to their level and talking quietly to them. (All the while wanting to shout and tell them to knock it off.) Why not shout?* Because I don’t want people to think I’m a terrible mom. That is the kind of ‘fear’ we are talking about. I’m so worried about other people’s opinions, I change my behavior.

Now God sees us all the time. What if I worried about His opinions more? What if I cared about other people’s opinions less and instead trusted in who I am in Christ?

Fear of God is reverence and esteem for Him. It is doing what He would want you to do. Partially because He is so holy and awesome and mighty and powerful, but also because we should be so in love with Him, we want to do things His Way.**

That being said…

You may have not realized this, but this web site is part of our journey relating to the ins and outs, and ups and downs associated with writing a series of books. This blog, while not always about the books, highlights our thoughts along the way. Which is its own story.

I am excited to report, that our book team has met. We have made our final edits. We have divided up the last of the work… and… all I can say is, “It’s coming!”

May the Lord, who made you unique among all people, bless you today. May He show you the way, illuminate your path, and give you the strength you need for one more day. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*In this example, fear of the Lord lined up with worrying about other people’s opinions. God doesn’t want me to be a tyrannical mother. But my point is, I was not worried about what God would think. I was worried what people would think.

**Ta-da! The fear of the Lord! This is an abbreviated version of all my thoughts on this subject. Mostly, I want to encourage you to let God’s opinions of you determine your worth, not other people’s. Because He thinks you’re pretty amazing!

***Ecclesiastes 3**** is something to read! The whole thing, not just the above, abbreviated version.

****Ecclesiastes is also nearly impossible for me to spell.

The Mundane

The Mundane

Children Encouragement From the Authors

 Now if we are children, then we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:17 (NIV)

"Cinderella"
“Cinderella”

This is one of my mom’s favorite pictures of her granddaughter*. We call it the ‘Cinderella’ photo. We were at the children’s science museum. And what does a 3-year-old wear to the science museum? The same thing she insists on wearing everywhere else- her princess dress. And what does a little girl want to do at the science museum? Well, everything. Which includes washing the dishes and sweeping the floor. So- ‘Cinderella’, because she is a princess doing the dishes.

Isn’t it a cute picture? Is your cute-o-meter on overload? Or am I just biased?

Now here is something I tend to forget while I am doing the dishes and sweeping the floor. I’m a coheir with Christ.

Do you know what that means? I am a sister to the prince, a daughter to the king. I. Am. A. Princess! I might not rock a lot of Disney Playwear like my daughter, but whether I look the part or not, I am a princess. Not the snooty kind, but the beloved princess. The apple of her Father’s eye. Yep. That’s me.

And that’s you too!!**

I don’t know if you have a daily devotional (I would recommend getting one, though). But I tend to get my ten minutes in the morning, and then I’m like, “Thanks, God. You’re the best. Help me today!” and I’m off to the races. The dishes, laundry, feed children, wash something, get to work, is the curling iron still on?, overdue books, when was that bill last paid?… and on we go. Drowning in the mundane.

You are a princess. Nothing you do is mundane.

God is not in the background all day. He is with you. Every moment you draw breath is shrouded in glory and holiness because God is dwelling with you, and you are his princess. The trick is pulling God past the morning devotional, and into the rest of the day with you. No, that’s not quite it, because He is always with you. So, I suppose, it is becoming aware that He is with you. It is making your meetings with God more than just a moment in the morning, but a continual conversation throughout the day.

When I see this picture, I don’t see a silly little girl. I see my princess. I know her strengths, I have plans for her future, I want to be there with her in that moment, and I want her to know how very much I love her.

And that’s how God is looking at us.

He wants to be a part of everything. The amazing, the hard, the mundane.

Jesus came as Emmanuel, God with us. And He still is today. The God who was, and is, and is to come with us!

Thank you, God, for adopting us. Thank you that you want us in your family, and that you have a purpose for us. Thank you that you love us so much, and that You just want to be with us. Open our eyes again to how You are in every circumstance, big or small, easy or hard. Bless us to feel You along side us throughout the day. And help us to trust more in Your Love. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Let’s be honest, EVERY picture of a grandchild is a grandmother’s favorite picture!

**Unless you’re a guy… then, you are, obviously, a prince. Swords. Dragons. Still very cool.

Presence

Children From the Authors

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.
~Psalm 89:15 (NIV)

It happened again.

I got the giggles in church.*

Whenever we sing a song about the goodness of God’s presence I get the giggles. Don’t get me wrong- God’s presence is beyond good. It’s just I always remember something my older son once said.

Elder son's birthday a few years back. Playing the ever-epic marshmallow game.
Elder son’s birthday a few years back. Playing the ever-epic marshmallow game.

He was younger, and we had just gone through a time where he got lots of gifts. Either his birthday or Christmas? I can’t exactly remember. But I was praying with him before bed, and I said, “Thank you, Lord, for your presence-” And this little pajama clad child leapt out of bed, bouncing up and down, and joyfully yelled, “WHERE ARE THE PRESENTS!?!?”

And I can’t sing about the goodness of God’s presence, without remembering that wonderful parenting moment.

And I can’t sing about the goodness of God’s presence, without remembering that it really is one of His best presents to us.

Thank you God, for all your presents, but especially for your presence. And for children, and the joy and laughter they bring. Amen!

~Lindsay

*This probably happens more often than it should

Bed Time Ritual

Bed Time Ritual

From the Authors Our Story

On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. ~Psalm 63:6 (NIV)

We pray with our kids at night.
We say the same prayer with each child.

Jesus be with me,
all through the night.
Bless me and keep me
’til morning light.

Nothing fancy. Just a habit.

Here’s what I know about habits, they are sometimes hard to start- to get into the habit. But once habits are formed, they become ingrained into the rhythm of our days. We no longer work at them (unless it is exercise… or is that just me?).

I’ve been praying this little prayer every night since I can remember. As a child. I tagged my own prayers at the end of this prayer. Sometimes saying the same blessings every night. Sometimes voicing new concerns. Sometimes sharing praise. But this little prayer was my starting point.

And now it’s my kids’ starting point.

I have no cute sleeping pictures of my kids after the age of 1. Only really funny pictures, when they get into those weird positions that make you wonder... how? But this is a good reminder of a sweet time (when I was too exhausted to do anything, let alone match my clothing or put makeup on). But rather than sleep, I wanted to just stare at that newborn baby.
I have no cute sleeping pictures of my kids after the age of 1. Only really funny pictures, when they get into those weird positions that make you wonder… how? But this is a good reminder of a sweet time (when I was too exhausted to do anything, let alone match my clothing or put makeup on). But rather than sleep, I wanted to just stare at that newborn baby.

I say the prayer with my one-year-old. In the last few weeks, I started to leave words out. To see if he knows what is missing. And of course, having heard it every night, he does! And he says “me!” very clearly. And “let” for light… so it’s adorable.

My daughter, says the same prayer every night. She is four. She says our little starting prayer, and then adds “thank you for my family and uncles*.” The same thing every night, but her own personalized version. From her heart. I sure didn’t tell her to thank God for uncles every night of her life.

My six-year-old, he has an entire list of additions to his little prayer, and now even a second prayer.

What’s a second prayer? Well, after the kids pray, I pray. I pray for them. I add to their prayers. And I am aware that I am praying for them, talking to my heavenly father. But I am equally aware that I am setting an example. That they are listening, and learning (as proven by my one-year-old’s ability to fill in the blanks). So my older son says his little starting prayer, and the thank-you-for-this-and-that he’s been saying for years. But one night, more recently, when I finished my prayer for him, he stopped me. He had a “second prayer.” And he said it. A new depth of prayers, touching on his fears, and his needs. And somehow they became habit. So now I know to wait (or, believe me, I am called to task!) until his second prayers are over before tucking him in and turning out the light.

A new depth of prayers. A new insight into that little mind. That tiny precious heart.

Prayer. A gift to God, for God’s glory, and still, somehow, even more a gift for us.

May you be blessed to experience prayer with children. May your prayers become so habitual that you hardly even notice you are praying throughout the day. That every breath would become a prayer, and that your heart and ears would be open to hear God’s response. In Jesus name, Amen!

~Lindsay

*Oh to be loved for the amount of sugar you sneak children when their mothers aren’t looking. What a joy!

The List

The List

Children From the Authors

to usFor to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Isaiah 9:6 NIV

Dec 1 165
My older son inspecting the Christmas lights.

Last week I promised a list of Non-Toy Christmas ideas. I’m here to deliver. This is by no means a complete list and I must admit, most ideas are borrowed from friends and family. But here’s my list for meaningful gifts that are not stuff-ful.

One more comment before I get to the list: if you feel the need to give a toy then go ahead and give it! How about a small $10 Lego set, a match box car, stickers (always a favorite at our house), a small doll/figurine of a favorite character- you choose. My kids are as excited with one small gift, as they are with a large gift. I’m not saying it’s bad to give toys, but let’s stretch our horizons and consider giving something precious: memories, time, financial support…

The List

Date: Give the gift of your time. Make this as expensive (a movie, dinner at a restaurant) or inexpensive (play date with you) as you want. Introduce a child to some of your interests (how about an afternoon baking with Grandma?). And there is always the grand-poobah of date gifts: the sleepover. The point is to give the gift of your time, build memories, and relationships*.

The Choose-A-Date: Stealing this idea from a sister-in-law, she did ‘the date’ gift in grand style. The gift was a picture frame that said “Choose a date” at the top. Then there were two options for where they would go, where they would eat dinner, and where they would eat dessert. The child got to choose. And at the bottom it said they would take a picture on their date, and then the picture would go in this frame (bonus points for heartwarming cuteness).

Operation Christmas Child: This is a chance to help your kids experience the joy in giving and talk with them about children around the world who have so little. O.C.C. usually collect gifts in mid to late November, so you have to be on the ball to participate. If you haven’t heard of it, just do a web search. Operation Christmas Child is done by Samaritan’s Purse and they have plenty of material to make the event more meaningful for you and your child.

Sports/Activities: Sports fees seem to increase every year, and then you have equipment you need to buy too… But what child doesn’t benefit from participating in athletics, cooking classes, theater, or even calligraphy (my mom put me in calligraphy class as a child. I was the youngest person in the class, by… oh, about twenty years!). If you want to make it more “gift like” give a soccer ball with money for soccer lessons. Talk to the parents ahead of time, to match family need with child interests.

Memberships: A great family gift is a membership to a local zoo, museum, or other attractions. You are giving mom’s a chance to take kids somewhere educational/fun and kids a place to learn/create/explore. Again, if you want the “gift like” appearance, give a zoo membership with a big stuffed animal.

Homemade gifts: What!? Ok. Don’t go out and buy a sewing machine if you’ve never used one and try to make a ballgown for your granddaughter. BUT, if you have a talent, make something for them. Wood working? Knitting? Sewing? Cooking? These are the gifts that hold sentimental value and retain their value. My husband has a little wooden car his grandfather made for him. It has his name painted on it, and our children play with it. So much more precious than any Hotwheels car we’ve ever received. My mom can sew- she’s made everything from pillowcases (actually a big hit when they have the kids’ favorite characters on them, and this is a pretty simple sewing project) to an Elsa gown.

The Practical Gift: Oh dear! Don’t say it! But YES!!! It’s what mothers everywhere want! Give them beach towels, school supplies, backpacks, sleeping bags, shoes, goggles, and even underwear! If you think they don’t want these gifts, you are mistaken. My daughter just asked for Elsa underpants for Christmas. She didn’t care what they were, she saw them, they had her favorite character on them, she wanted them. Of course… if she were a bit older that would be an embarrassing present to open in front of everyone. So be reasonable, but also- dare to be practical!!

Sentimental gifts: A friend recently showed me a bible with writing in it. Her mother had the idea to buy a bible when her grandchildren were born, and then she would read it, pray with it, and write notes in it for years, before finally giving it to the child when they reached a certain age. Did your heart just melt a bit? Mine did. Another idea I saw someone give was an “affirmation jar.” They had decorated a mason jar to look really cute, and filled it with notes containing thoughts about that person, and prayers they’ve said for them. You are creative. Can you think of something along these lines? Would it bless someone? A child you know?

Tickets: Is this like a date? But tickets to plays or sporting events would be awesome! You could give them to the family, or you could set a date and go along. I still remember dressing up and going downtown to a special dinner and play as a young child. I don’t remember the play or the food. I just remember my grandpa, and how I felt like such a “big girl.” I also remember the time we got tickets to see a basketball game, and we were so far up in the nosebleed section that I thought we were watching ants running around! But again- there I remember all the laughter, and Grandpa.

Games: Giving a game is pretty close to a toy… but I always forget about games. Kids love games. Family games are the best. Also educational games. My son learned his consonants from Consonant Bingo! And our family still talks about some of the charades games we played at holiday get togethers.

Recipes: Give family recipes to a child. Put it in a cute cookbook. A friend gave me a recipe book for my wedding, it was in a simple photo book. She paired hand written note cards with some really ridiculous pictures of us. (Give the gift with a baking date?) Or give them a recipe + the ingredients?

Ok, this list is getting long. So now we have hit the rapid fire portion of our list:

  • Give a girl a ‘big girl date‘- manicures, and tea?
  • Have an artsy child? Project bin full of art supplies.
  • $ towards college– they will thank you later, trust me, they will!
  • Seasonal items/outdoor items– sleds, skates, snowpants, boots, umbrellas, beach towels…
  • A watch! Do you know how few kids can tell time? Also, watches are cool. Especially if they have dragons.
  • Calendar– my kids are always checking the calendar, they like to keep track of what is going on too.
  • BOOKS! BOOKS! BOOKS!
  • Subscriptions! The gift that keeps showing up every month!
  • Learning tools/objects. Kids think learning is fun, until someone tells them otherwise. Don’t be that someone!
My daughter inspecting the Christmas lights.
My daughter inspecting the Christmas lights.

And on and on the list could go… But I hope that will get you thinking. Gift giving and generosity- these are good things! At Christmas time, we are reminded of God’s generosity and His greatest gift to us – Jesus Christ!

May your Christmas season be filled with joy, love, peace, hope, and meaning**. May your Christmas not be stuff full, but heart full. And may your hearts overflow with the love of Christ as you give to others. In Jesus name, Amen!!

 ~Lindsay

*We recently gave a date as a gift to our niece, and she reminded me about it. And I do believe she was hinting that she would like to get another date this year. A sleepover.

**Do yourself a favor- get a devotional this Christmas season. If you need direction, I highly recommend The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp.