Monday, December 28, 2015

Book review: Frost Bible (ICB version)

The glittery, wintery Bible produced by Tommy Nelson is cute and attractive to the little ladies with Frozen Fever. It’s hard-covered and comes with a handy bag, too. Inside, you will find a page for documenting family history, explanations on why you should read the Bible, an illustrated time line, places to write down your favorite Bible verses and helpful maps. 

According to the preface, the International Children’s Bible is written in such a way that a third grader can comprehend the content. The editorial staff chose particular words to put into bold print that are defined in the back of the book. Also, there are key verses highlighted, which bring the readers attention to the main point of that particular passage. 

The little bag that is included for free is cute, but I don’t foresee it holding up long with weekly wear and tear. 

This is a great gift Bible for the elementary girl in your life. 


I was given a copy by the publisher in exchange for my own opinions. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Managing the Christmas Craziness, a guest post from Lisa Potter

Hi friends! 
My dear friend, Lisa Potter, has graciously written a guest post for me this week. She is a beautiful mother to two great, grown-up kids and has lived through the hectic season of Christmas many times. I learned a lot from her many years ago when we lived in the same town. She and her husband pastored our church and she was an integral part of launching the Moms and More Bible study that so wonderfully helped us young momas when our babies were all so little. Some days we all showed up with bedhead and spit-up stained shirts, but she loved us despite it. Those moments are so precious to me and rank in the top 5 things I miss most about Virginia. 


Top 5 Tips for Managing Christmas Craziness

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… or is it?  Unfortunately, I’m Type A with high hopes and a short fuse.  Adding one more thing to the organizational portfolio can often send this task oriented gal spinning in a downward direction.  I LOVE Christmas, the reason we celebrate: Emmanuel, God with us. It doesn’t get any more special than this. Jesus is the reason for the season, and then I’m side tracked with putting up the Christmas decorations, buying and wrapping gifts, attending and hosting Christmas parties, rehearsals and costumes for Christmas plays, and baking goodies to share.  Forget about dreaming of a white Christmas because that would be the added work of shoveling the driveway!
What can we do?  Skipping Christmas, isn’t an option (unless you’re the Grinch), but here are five easy and fun tips for managing the Christmas craziness:

  1. Deck the halls or not. 
  • Although I love decorating, there were many years when this added to the craziness of my life.  Be realistic.  Are you traveling for Christmas?  Had a busy year?  If so, do you need to get out all the trimmings or will a few suffice to make your home feel festive?  The basics are a Christmas tree, wreath on the door, and peace in your heart.
  • Enlist help.  A neighborhood teen or youth at the church were always willing to spend time at my house and go home with extra Christmas cash.  I would use them to keep the kids busy, help with decorating or clean up.  And if, per chance, your family loves to help, go right ahead and deck the halls with boughs of holly and Fa la la la la right through it all.
  • Just make sure whatever you do, it’s for you to enjoy and not the pressure of the neighborhood over-achiever. 
  1. Hark the herald angels sing and spread some Christmas cheer. 
  • Spreading Christmas cheer to others gets the attention off of us and onto what is really important. My kids are adults now, but favorite Christmas memories are when we would visit the nursing home during the holidays.  Lindsay would play piano and visit and Andrew would engage in Wii bowling in the activity center.  The best part, for me, watching the younger and older generations connecting and seeing the joy on each of their faces.
  • Engage in simple ways to teach your family the importance of giving and not only receiving. 
  • Here are a few ideas. Serve in a homeless shelter, donate coats, bless a less fortunate family with gifts and food, but whatever you do, spread some Christmas cheer.
  1. Away in a manger.  
  • Keep the main thing the main thing—Jesus.  If there were no manger, no baby, no shepherds, no star, no wise men, then there would be no reason for Christmas.  Jesus is the hope of the world. 
  • Settling in with a daily Advent book can bring the perfect peace for the start or end of a day in December.  A reminder that we are looking forward to the arrival of the glorious Christ child.
  1. Jingle some bells and get out and have some FUN!  
  • The FUN category to managing Christmas craziness is filled with endless possibilities. 
  • Go for a sleigh ride, enjoy the lighting of the town Christmas tree, attend a parade, take a walk in the snow, drink hot chocolate and watch your favorite Christmas movie. 
  1. Make sure mommy is seen kissing Santa Claus.  
  • This one is my favorite!  Take time for you and your spouse to cuddle and enjoy the Christmas tree. 
  • These are precious memories for your family to remember.  Life is busy.  Allow time for pause, reflection, cuddling and kissing, and warmth. 
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Love generously.  Be present for each moment (they grow up quickly).

Merry Christmas Friends!

Lisa 


So, do you have any suggestions on containing the crazy? 
How do you keep your focus on Jesus during the rush of the holiday? 
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your ideas with others. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My day

There's a reason my blogging has been a little slow lately. I have been writing a weekly post for a homeschool curriculum company, and while the discipline of having a deadline every seven days has been good for me, I am still learning to make time for other writing. Maybe one day I will get it all together... Until then, here is a little post I wrote about how I spent a semi-typical day a few weeks ago. 

So, what do your days look like? Are your days the same everyday or do you have a different schedule? 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving, Christmas decorations and books

Our Thanksgiving feast was less than 24 hours ago and we have already had leftovers a few times, set up the Christmas tree and wreaths on the windows, and watched a Christmas train movie. We began a new tradition of the kids wrestling Gil after all the dishes were done. All were safe until a lip or nose was bumped a little too hard on the floor. I wonder how long it will be until the kids can combine their strength and out-wrestle Gil?



I’ve done almost all of our Christmas shopping already, but I have two more books to tell you about if you are looking for some ideas....


Randy Frazee wrote a 90 day devotional for kids called Think, Act, Be Like Jesus. I like it and will gift it to one of the girls for Christmas. It has nice, high quality pages, nice pictures and the length of the daily reading is perfect for my readers. He includes about 30 devos on thinking like Jesus, 30 on acting like Jesus and 30 on being like Jesus. It’s basic and easily understood. It will be a great companion to her new Bible. 














Also, if you’re into coloring, or know someone who is (I have two avid colorers in my house....three if I let myself play, too) I got my hands on the second in Daria Song’s coloring books, called The Time Chamber, a magical story and coloring book. Again, it has the beautiful pictures to follow along the little story of a red-haired fairy that lives in a cuckoo clock. She decides to discover what lives on the outside of the clock while her girl sleeps at night. Everything she touches turns into something magical and more beautiful than before. I am glad to have both books in the series now. These will be well-received on Christmas morning. 





A very special thank you to booklookbloggers.com for sending my Think, Act Be Like Jesus in exchange for my own opinions. And Bloggingforbooks.com for sending my Daria Song’s new coloring book in exchange for my own opinions. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Benjamin's Guide to Celebrating



His view of the outside world all shifted within a few months...a new (to me) car that required him sitting in the middle of a bench rather than behind a captain's chair in front of him, him becoming old enough for a forward facing car seat, and an awareness of what we do at certain locations. He has the prime seat in our SUV which allows him to see exactly where we are going and he practices the art of celebrating. 

When we pull up to the gym parking lot, he throws both fists and feet in the air and cheers- he knows the childcare room has a good stash of Thomas trains and the gymnasium has open space for wild running. When we arrive at the library, the same thing happens- he knows they have a train table. At the Dairy Bar parking lot- he knows how wonderful their frozen treats taste. At church- he knows they have good toys too. At his friend’s house, he knows he has loads of fun. 

It happens at home too. He cheers for his favorite shows on TV, when his trains ride  successfully down the hill without derailing, when he tosses or kicks a ball and it lands where he intended, when the toy bounces just right down the steps, when snacks are given, when he is rescued from his bed after nap time...all cheers. Celebration fists tossed in the air, a huge smile and a strong yay!!!

The kid is happy and knows his needs are met. He doesn’t worry about stuff. He has no cause for concern. I wonder if he will always be this way or if this is just a stage- I hope it’s the former. I hope he always remembers how to celebrate. 

My friend and I were chatting recently. She is early in her first pregnancy and her sister just found out she is also expecting. She spoke of watching her sister celebrate this deeply wanted baby, yet feeling a little unsure of wildly celebrating her own. She wishes for the freedom and security to trust the realness of what’s happening. I understand what she is talking about.  Because, after observing Benjamin’s celebratory personality, I wish for the same child-like enjoyment of life. I wish I trusted more and let go of taking care of all the details around me sometimes. And I pray my friend could simply enjoy her pregnancy and celebrate the wonderful baby coming. 


Are you the celebratory type? Or are you the solemn and stoic type? What does it require of you to enjoy a moment? 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Looking at beautiful things

So, I have been blogging for a homeschool company and although I can't repost what I wrote for them, I can link to it. Within a blogpost about why I love homeschooling so much, I shared about how my dear mentor taught me "to look" at my kids. She told me about how it made her kids feel a little awkward at times...but she studied their faces in an attempt to remember them at that age forever.

I try to do that, but I still seem to somehow forget what they look like. Thank goodness for pictures!

There are beautiful things around us all the time and we seem to slip right past them.

As for another beautiful thing, I received a gorgeous coloring book for grown-ups. It's called The Time Garden by Daria Song and it has a little story that goes along with it...about a girl and her German cuckoo clock. The images are so pretty, imaginative and detailed. The paper quality is nice. Also, if you'd prefer the book without the jacket cover, you can color in the cover of the book too. My girls are begging me to keep this book, but I have someone special in mind for this book....I bet I will be purchasing two or three more of these though!



**Thanks bloggingforbooks for a free copy in exchange for my own review.

Friday, October 30, 2015

21 Day Challenge and a new cookbook

My bff and I are finishing up a 21 day fitness challenge. We texted each other every bite we ate and when we worked out. We also shared our starting weight, measurements and pictures...then again at the end of each week. The accountability has been nice. Coincidentally, I received Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook during the first week of the challenge, which was a great help when it came to preparing healthier meals for myself and the family. 


Flipping through the cookbook, I immediately noticed the beautiful images, the high quality way the book was made. (Strangely, I love nice paper and books made with attention to quality.) 

I was excited to get hard copies of drink and smoothie recipes floating around online. I feel armed with 496 pages of recipe ideas to get me through the slumps of “what’s for dinner tonight?” moments. 

As far as the cookbook itself, I do have to say that this isn’t something for someone who has not read the first Trim Healthy Mama book. There is lingo, abbreviations and THM culture words that might be super confusing to the novice THM-er. However, if you’ve read any THM or can decipher what they are talking about, most recipes can be adapted to use ingredients at home. Which leads me to my only other wince about the book- it does “require” many of the THM items or other items that aren’t easily found in the local grocery store unless you are already used to looking for them. 


So far, my favs are the Cream of Sweet Stuff Soup on page 114, a wonderfully smooth sweet potato soup, the BLT frittata on page 74, and the entire Candies and Bars section that begins on mage 346. 


Thank you, Blogging for Books for the free copy in exchange for my own opinions of the book. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The husband does a book review: The Dude’s Guide to Marriage

My husband, Gil, recently read a good book he would highly recommend to other husbands...or those wishing to become a husband. Darrin and Amie Patrick co-wrote this fun book, an easy-to-read, yet encouraging guide to helping husbands develop skills to love his wife well. 



I can tell when Gil likes a book. He moves it from room to room in our house- from the bedroom, to the living room, to the dining room- where ever he will sit for a few minutes and read a few pages. Also, he reads me quotes he appreciates from the book. 

Of all the quotes from the book that seemed to really cause us to think, the best one is: ”Community is diverse, disturbing, and challenging, unlike affinity, which is bland, reinforcing and safe.” (58)

We speak a lot about community in our own lives and ministry. We get the importance of having a strong community around ourselves, but using the terms “diverse, disturbing and challenging” brought true community into new light for me. It’s so easy to keep ourselves surrounded by others like us- therefore creating a bland and safe space. But true community is often in-your-face kind of relationships, whether because of extreme differences among the culture of the people involved or because the relationships as deep enough to call each other out in places where growth is needed. The Patricks urge men to involve themselves in true community- I’d say that community is necessary for everyone. 
Gil also liked Darrin’s suggestions of ways to celebrate the Sabbath in chapter 6- Rest, a rested husband is a peaceful husband. I’ll keep those tips a secret for those that read the book- it’s good stuff though. And, since I am a wife to a husband that needs rest, I find this chapter extra helpful because I can learn a few ways to make my husband’s days off even better. 

Go grab yourself, your spouse and someone else a copy of this quick-to-read book. It’ll be like hanging out with a trusted friend for a little while. 

Thank you BookLook for providing me with a free copy of this book to review. It was fun having Gil’s input on one of my reviews! Our opinions are our own. 


Lindsay

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A good Bible for tween girls (Book Review)

Shhhhh! Christmas shopping spoiler alert! 

I am on the hunt for the right Bibles for my girls for Christmas. It sounds snotty and silly, but I have a few things I’d like to see in a Bible, other than the obvious.... 

I want Bible that are real, not children’s editions. Since they are memorizing scripture in the ESV and NIV translations, I want them to be able to look up their verses on their own and have it match what they are learning. 

I’d like their Bibles to feel sturdy enough to last being tossed in backpacks, taken to church in bad weather and hidden down in the depths of the mysterious land under their beds. 

So, BookLook sent me one to review and I am happy with it. The NIV Faithgirlz Bible has a hard cover with a magnetic closure, cute devotionals and definitions within the text....and best of all, the text is printed in PURPLE ink. The purple text sold me. As far as the devotionals and definitions go, I like that the editors included age appropriate questions for the girls to think about and ways to apply what they read in their own lives. My girls are 7 1/2 and 9 and I think this Bible would be appealing to either of them for many years. 


Now, I have to go find another one.... has anyone see a pink camo Bible around? 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: The Rainbow Egg

The Rainbow Egg, by Linda Hendricks, M.D, is about a little bird in need of a safe place for her egg to hatch. She searches for the perfect spot, but realizes she can’t find one. Then, she stumbles upon a hen house that is home to a chicken family without an egg. The little bird sweetly places the egg on the hen house nest and celebrates as the baby chick is hatched tucked under the wing of the chicken family. What a great way to introduce the idea of adoption for children! My little recap doesn’t do the cute story justice. 

This is a cute book with a mighty message, shared in a simple way. First, I enjoy all things chicken. Second, the artwork was beautifully done. Third, I enjoy the way the author speaks of both the birth mom and the adoptive family. 

(Here is where I pull out my deep desire to be on Reading Rainbow when I was a kid...) But don't take my word for it, go out and get yourself a copy today! 

I was given a free e-book copy of The Rainbow Egg in exchange for my honest opinions of the story. Thanks booklookbloggers! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

A few quiet evenings during our favorite week of the year (family camp!) offered me the chance to read through a great book. Eric Metases did a great job on his research and development of a student edition of his famous biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. 

I enjoyed the extra definitions, historic timelines, thought provoking questions, quotes and the maps he included in this edition. It seemed the perfect amount of information for a student learning about Bonhoeffer and the horrific acts towards the Jews. 


Since this is a student edition, I would suggest it be read by an older middle schooler or high schooler. It would be a great source for a research project, class report or personal study. I plan on keeping it on our bookshelf to add to our homeschool history lessons when the time is right. 


Thanks BookLook for a free copy to read and review. All thoughts on the book are my own.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Father's Day

Father's day is coming this weekend and while I sit with the baby as he makes laps around his train table, I thought of a few things that make my husband a great dad. Here is my quick list:

July 2008 
 I know he's a good dad because the girls always sleep in his T shirts when he is out of town, then they wake up smelling like his cologne. 

I know he is a good dad because he treats them to Starbucks cookies or ice cream after they've done well- or just because. 

I know he's a good dad because others have said they wish they had a relationship with their dad the way he relates to our kids. 

I know he's a good dad because he dances with us to our Refit DVD, watches CloneWars cartoons like they are his favorite show of all time and sings Let it go. 

I know he's a good dad because of the way he told me he was ready to face the challenge of being a dad. 

Easter, 2009

I know he's a good dad when he steps in and sends ME to time out when I need it. 

I know he's a good dad because of they way he is a deeply, good friend to the other men in his life and who he chooses as his own influences and mentors.  

I know he's a good dad when he dances with me in front of the kids. 

I know he is a good dad when he keeps replacing his sporty water bottles because the kids (ahem, we) keep losing them. 

I know he is a good dad because he meets with God on our behalf. 

I know he is a good dad because my girls want, and have, camo hats like his. 
July 2014

Thanks for being a great dad to our kids, hun! 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Make new friends but keep the old, some are silver and the other is gold

Women Are Scary (book review)

Honestly, I was a bit skeptical of this book. I am not a fan of fluffy reads nor books that are overtly girly. It’s like the girly gab oozes through sometimes and I can’t handle the silly remarks. But, I was wrong. Melanie Dale is hysterical. I am a huge fan of clean, stand-up comedy and I was literally laughing aloud in my backyard while I read her book. While I sat with the kids outside, I chuckled through the first few chapters before I had to shake the sand out of the baby’s clothes and do tick checks. Melanie also found a way to win out past mom-to-three-exhaustion at night and I kept picking up her semi-scary covered book. 

Woven in between her super funny stories, Melanie (I pretend she and I are on first name basis because she replied to my facebook comment about what “base” moms are on when they take over the kids’ trampoline) gets real with the fears and frustrations moms of all walks of life face when wanting friends. 

Being a part time working/stay at home/homeschooling mom, I get the fears and frustrations. I have felt what it’s like wanting a friend to talk to so badly that I have been willing to strike up a conversation with the grandpa taking the grands to the library playground. When we moved to a new area, I felt like I was on prowl to meet someone, anyone that could point me in the direction of Target, share a babysitters name, and point out which crazy people to avoid. 

The big illustration Melanie uses to explain friendships is the baseball diamond, which was nice because I am not super literate in the world of sports. I get first, second, third and fourth bases. Easy enough. She gives funny tips and tricks of what to do and not to do on each base of the friendship, how to bale if necessary and even touches on moving away from a smashingly wonderful group of friends- which I found so familiar. I miss my friends in dear, sweet Farmville!

I know the mark of a truly good book for me- when I begin telling a friend about it before I even finish it. One of my closest friends here in CT has graciously listened to me rattle off, amidst chuckles and snorts, detailed reviews of the chapters I read the previous night. Then we identified who was who. 

I’d include Women Are Scary in a cute gift basket for a new mom, use as a summer reading group or those that just need a tune up on how to find friends in a society where making true friends is next to impossible. Also, I know there are loads of women that aren't moms and are desperate to develop deep friendships; if you can get past all the mom chatter, this is a good resource of how to find and grow those gems. 


So, I want to share my copy with someone! You can enter into my give-away by telling me your best mom-date location. Do you always huddle in a coffee shop, hit the sale racks, indulge in huge amounts of ice cream, run away to a ski lodge, hide in a friend’s extra bedroom until the season changes, walk the neighborhood or run half marathons? You can enter a second time by sharing this post on your facebook feed, just leave me a second comment telling me you did that and I’ll put your name in the hat twice. Contest will end in two weeks from today: June 14. 

**And the winner is Bekah! I'll connect with you and send your book right away! 

*I was given a free copy of this book to read and review in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Move Over Monday- the final and cutest post


Move Over Monday- the final and cutest post

Last night at dinner, both girls (3 years & 18 months) were talking to one another from across the table very loudly. After a few minutes of this craziness, this conversation occurred:

G- "Girls, this house will be quiet. Talk quietly."
E-"Daddy, this is Emma's house!"
G-"This is your house? Do you pay rent here?"
E-"Daddy, Jesus gave me this house."
G- (to me) "I just got schooled by a 3 year old"

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Favorite Things Friday!


Hello world! Yay, it's Friday!!! Even though my Friday's don't look too different than the rest of my days, there always seems to be a lighter feel to the day. Do you feel it, too?

So, here is my list of the best things or thoughts this week:

#1 Nourish Organic Body Lotion, lavender mint scent. Gil stashed this in my stocking at Christmas and I instantly loved it. Soon though, the baby found a way to hide it from me for the last 4 months. It turned up again this week and the girls and I have been using it like crazy. Go get yourself some and try and tell me you don't like it too. (If you don't like it, I'll happily take it off your hands!)




#2 My second favorite thing this week has been this cake! Cinnamon, chocolate, banana, brown sugar…. are you drooling yet? Many moons ago, Gil asked me to make him a coffee cake. Surprisingly so, there are loads of theories on the perfect coffee cake. In my opinion, this one fits the bill. Head on over to the Idea Room and try it for yourself. (And since there are bananas, yogurt and eggs in the recipe, it's like breakfast food anyway!)
    I did alter her recipe slightly. I felt 2 cups of sugar was way too much, so I only used 1 cup and it still turned out rather sweet. Also, I only had a little bit of yogurt left (which I needed to save for the 'starter ' of my next batch) so I swapped milk for that. I'll definitely use the yogurt next time. How much can you change in a recipe and still claim to follow it??


#3 And for my serious favorite thing- this quote from my pastor: "Before you ever preach to your kids, tell them the stories of what God has done for you over and over. Tell them and retell them the promises God has made and how he has met you in the midst of the battles." (Dr. Richard Lafferty, 4/26/15) He was preaching on Joshua 23:3-5 and encouraging us to "be mindful", to remind ourselves about what God has done already. It stuck with me and I wanted to share it with you.
    Isn't it true though? Retelling the stories of what/where/when God got us through, how I knew he was there, pointing to the miraculous moments, identifying God in the everyday and mundane, celebrating the victories and walking through the sadness with us- God was in the midst of it. Sharing these things gives a depth to our own story and validates these words we preach. When we tell the stories of our personal experiences with God, it's as if we are saying "kids, God has done these xyz amazing things and now let me tell you who this God is." What a way to give an introduction!


#4 Gifford's S'mores ice cream. It's from Maine and it's amazing. Shhh…don't tell anyone, but it's better than the Dairy Bar. A dear friend visited us this past weekend. She knows how much my family values good ice cream, so she warned us to have our spoons ready. She also came armed with information on which grocery store near me sold it and instructions to print coupons from the website. 

Now it's your turn. What has been a favorite thing for you this week? What story about God moving in your own life can you share with someone?

Love,
Lindsay
   

I am not being compensated by anyone, just stuff I like and thought you might too. Although, if Gifford's wants me to be their local taste-tester, I'd be more than happy to oblige.




Tuesday, May 12, 2015

From Protected to Projected- The projected part


He sent them into the world- John 17:18

Let’s zoom in on another key term Jesus employed. He said “As you sent me into the world, so I am sending them (the disciples) into the world.” The words “sent and sending” both come from the same Greek word /apostellō/ which means “set apart, to send out on a mission literally or figuratively: put in, send away, send forth, send out, and set at liberty.”`

        When Jesus released his disciples into ministry, he literally projected them into the vocation God called them to. Included with Jesus’ instructions to the disciples to be “sent” was his prayer that they would not be alone. Believers are supposed to be held together in unity with others (Acts 4:32) so that body of Christ can remain strong until the day he returns. We are not meant to be an island unto ourselves (Romans 14:7), so we should model and teach our kids likewise. Encourage participation in their community and begin praying now for your child’s future surroundings, such as college and career placements, that a body of believers will be found there. 

Challenge #3:
May I challenge you to consider your parenting strategies and realistically imagine what it will look like if our kids are “sent” just as Jesus’ disciples? 
And what does it look like on a daily basis when our task is to project them into the call God has on their lives?

This call could be anything from cutting hair at the salon across town to carrying God’s message to broken lives in foreign nations- no job is insignificant when they are accomplishing the very task God has for them to do for His glory- no more, no less. On the term Jesus used for “sent”, a biblical commentary states, “It is more the honor of a Christian solider by faith to overcome the world than by a monastical vow to retreat from it; and more for the honor of Christ to serve him in a city than to serve him in a cell.”*


`Strongs
* Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Digital Edition. 


Monday, May 4, 2015

Move Over Monday: My Family Right Now


Hello there. I unintentionally took a two week hiatus from blogging. We had family visiting us during the first week and it seems I am not the type of blogger that can get my posts prepared far enough in advance to make it happen nor the type to steal away a few minutes to get my non-essential things done with company around. Week number two, well, who really knows what happened to week #2? Normal life continued to roll on in all other areas except the blogging. Maybe my next goal should be to get ahead of my posts and set them to post at the right time…. I'll need a lesson for that. 

So, in honor of Mother's Day approaching, I'd like to share a little poem I wrote many years ago to celebrate those that call me "mom". In all honesty, becoming a mom was the greatest fear I ever had- yet one of the things I desired so deeply. I had plenty of reasons to be fearful of the task, just as most women feel prior to (and during) mothering + a whole bag of extra reasons (that might eventually make it to paper one day); and yet we've been so blessed to have the three world-changers snoozing upstairs. With some serious mentoring, hours spent reading anything I could get my hands on, 76, 869.5 hours of on-the-job-training, and by God's heaps of grace (the real reason), I immediately fell in love with my role as mom. There are days that are tougher than others, but it all smooths out in the end and we start over the next day. 

So, here it is. Be forewarned, I am a "roses are red, violets are blue" kind of poet...

My Family Right Now (12/23/10, edited 5/4/2015)


That’s my Adi Marie
With a very cute little tushie.
And a smile as big as the sea. 
That’s my Adi Marie. 

That’s my Emma Colleen
She’s as sweet as a jelly bean. 
Her heart is so naturally keen. 
That’s my Emma Colleen. 
That’s my Judah dog. 
He’s smart and eats like a hog.
He sheds fur as thick as ocean fog. 
That’s my Judah dog. 
That’s my Gilbert Benjamin. 
He's a great daddy for our two little women. 
He is fast like the wind and very genuine.
That’s my Gilbert Benjamin. 
That's my sweet little Philip. 
He plays "how early can we get up?"
He melts hearts with his smile and loves his new cup.
That's my sweet little Philip. 

That’s my Lyzza Jane.
She just about needs a cane. 
She’s old and sweet and doesn’t like rain.
That’s my Lyzza Jane. 
That’s my family right now. 
I love them more than I know how.   
I feel in a constant state of wow,
Because I can’t believe this is my family right now. 


PS- Lyzza Jane was our enormous lab we had in Virginia. She was really sick and hung on until right as we were preparing to move, but she was a great dog!

PPS- the math cats helped me figure out how long I've been a mum. Cool website. 

PPSS- Have you ever been so scared of something, yet wanted it so badly? 


Monday, April 20, 2015

Move Over Monday: The Violinist



The Violinist
A little known fact about violinists: in order to hear themselves stand distinct from their orchestra colleagues, they unintentionally tend to tune their instruments slightly sharp or flat in comparison to the other violinists nearby. 
Let me explain. As an orchestra warms up and tunes before a performance begins. The best violinist, known as the first chair or concertmaster, plays her open A string once. The rest of orchestra hears this pitch and adjusts their instruments to match. Concertmaster plays her A again and orchestra joins her forming the sound of one note and one giant instrument. Finally, the concertmaster hands the perfectly tuned orchestra over to the conductor and the show begins. This is the ideal situation. 
However, inexperienced violinists have a hard time making this happen sometimes. The same musicians that can tune any violin in a matter of seconds, struggle. Additionally,  the instrumentalist that can hear a short sound stroked from a violin and judge the pitch correct or incorrect every time, has a hard time adjusting her own sounds to blend perfectly with a group. This is not the ideal situation.
Unintentional out-of-tune violins can be found in orchestras because, as a violinist, you are trained to hear a clear sound with your left ear- the side of your head that the instrument is held on. The left ear hears a very loud and distinct sound during practices, lessons, and small group rehearsals. Each violin has it own sound, much like vocalists singing the same note but with distinction. But, when playing with the orchestra, the sounds of all other instruments make it hard to hear the same violin, even though it is just inches from the ear. So without meaning to, often these violinists alter their pitch so slightly it probably isn’t even noticed by the untrained ear. However, someone that has heard an open A string played for years can tell when one- even among a dozen or more- is out of tune. Out of sync with the rest. 
Thinking about this today made me wince a little because I see it now in light of spiritual things. Without meaning to, this inexperienced violinist must adjust my step, ways, practices just slightly so I can hear myself. Since I can’t hear myself clearly it must mean I am perfectly in tune with my colleagues, right?  Jesus said that his ways were not our ways and his thoughts were not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9) I observe two things here. 
  1. I struggle to trust that I am in sync with God when I can’t hear/see/feel Him close.
  2. I am not naturally drawn to doing things someone else’s way, adjusting my step/speed/direction in order to align myself with another. 
You know what this sounds like? Pride. (The reoccurring issue in my life!) “God, I can’t hear myself because of all the chaos around me. So, I think I’ll adjust something. Yes! There we go, I can hear myself again. Everything’s ok now” Or try this one on for size: “God, I just want to hear what I sound like alongside everyone else. I just have to make sure I have that rhythm right. As long as I can hear myself and I can control it all, I’ll get it done right.” Sound familiar? 
Jesus asks us to walk with him and to stay in stride and instep with him. We aren’t to run ahead, lag behind or wander off. Our feet are to hit the ground so in-sync with his, that only one step is heard. It’s hard to do though. It’s hard to remember that his speed and direction is the best when everything is shifting around us. It’s tough to slow to his desired pace when our eyes catch glimpses of the lengthy to-do list. And it’s challenging to  head in the direction he is going, when someone in need is down the road the other way. But, thankfully, Jesus doesn’t ask us to set the pace, chose the stride length, or navigate the course. He simply wants us to obey, to align ourselves with his purposes and plans, to “gel” with his will. 
As long as our violins are tuned to his perfect A-or our spirit is in line with His spirt; then we can rest in perfect peace that we are “in-tune” with what he has asked us to do. We don’t have to use our limited wisdom to adjust our pitch just enough to double check. We can work as unit of one with him. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

From Protected to Projected: Challenge #2



He told them many things and gave them God’s word- John 17: 13,14

Jesus spent time investing in the lives of a handful of people with the final goal of ensuring they will have the ability and knowledge to carry on his message to the rest of the world. He spoke with them about the laws of the land, customs of the day, incorrect teachings from religious leadership, God’s plans for the world, and other fabulous things. He shared personal prayer requests with them and found ways to connect their day-to-day lives with furthering the message he came to bring. Jesus took seriously the time he had with his disciples and spent it as best he could. If we use the same lens to look at parenting the way Jesus looked at discipling, then raising kids similarly to the way everyone else on the block raises their kids just won’t cut it. Our calendars and weekly schedules won’t look the same as everyone else’s. Our values and rules will take a shift from the average. Our household budget won’t match others. Even our vacations might look different. It’s ok to be different. 

As a family, “seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added”(Matt 6:33). Start with scripture memory and pray blessings over your children. If you are starting this after your kids are a bit older and it feels awkward, that’s ok- it probably feels weird to your kids too. Just keep going and it might just become the greatest habit your family developed. Some parents may not have a single verse memorized, that’s ok too. What a truly beautiful and worshipful moment it is for all to understand and commit to memory a portion of God’s word. Work on it together. Make it a family competition to commit to memory a verse each week. “But the seed on the good earth- these are the good-hearts who seize the Word and hold on no matter what, sticking with it until there’s a harvest.” Luke 8:15


I don’t want to assume that Jesus only spoke things to the disciples pertaining to theological concepts, so I think it is safe to say that some of the “many things” Jesus shared with them had to do with other areas of life. In order that our children be well round and able to live, move, and function in our society, we should also be teaching them skills and preparing them for as many aspects of life as we can. Just as the old adage says, being “all heavenly minded, but no earthly good” is not helpful to God or anyone nearby. Giving our daughters the opportunity to be “good” at something (education, music, athletics, art, cooking, etc.) doesn’t ensure they will be better Christians, but it provides them outlets to develop friendships, avenues to provide an income and points of reference to engage others with the world God created and gave to us to enjoy. Since we are to “seek first the kingdom”, let’s seek second the family fun, interests, and skills as we grow closer together. 

Challenge #2
What has been your family’s structure of spiritual formation up to this point? If you are honest, have you left the church to take care of a task that you, as the parent, are supposed to do? What can be added, changed, or started in order to further your family’s spiritual formation as individuals and as a family unit?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Move-Over Monday: Timeout Tag-a-long



My Move-Over Mondays will soon be ending, but this week I wanted to share an old post about when the girls were very little. I was reminded of this bff tendency earlier today when one didn't want to go outside without the other. Gil and I often talk about how they will need very strong, confident men to marry because their love and devotion to each other is stronger than anything I've ever seen. Good luck, boys.
So, here is this week's Move-Over Monday, called Timeout Tag-a-long!
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4/22/2009
Timeout Tag-a-long /[tahym-out tag-uh-long]/noun. Meaning- /a. to assist in the service and duration of discipline given to an older sibling for the purpose of not parting or preventing the potential boredom that might occur while older sibling is serving timeout sentence./ b. must place gluteus maximus as closely beside older sibling’s as possible. /Origin- mom moment in my kitchen.

Our youngest has created a new self-designated post during her sister’s timeouts- right by her side. Adi willingly serves the punishment with her sister because she either (a) sees it necessary share the load and help carry the weighty punishment of a two minute timeout, (b) would not want to miss out on anything exciting happening at eye level of the coat closet door frame in the kitchen, or (c) just wants to be with her favorite person- no matter the circumstances.

I’m gathering that my first option for Adi’s reasoning for this assignment is slightly incorrect. This deduction is made simply because she does not seem to enjoy sharing other forms of discipline such as taking away a toy causing fights or just coming indoors from an hour of coloring on the sidewalk with chalk. Wrong.

So on to the second option for Adi’s MO (term originally used in the military, short for military operation…I think!). I am sure there are handfuls of stimulating events that occur lower than 16 or so inches from the floor in my kitchen. Maybe the coat closet door is just a good seat to see the dog scramble to grab each crumb that falls from the counter as meals are prepared. Perhaps the dust bunnies that trail the heels of taller people walking through the kitchen are more entrancing than I imagine. Or even better, just possibly Adi is hoping with all her might that the closet door will fling open and the coveted bucket of markers will come falling into her little hands. This could very well be the right reason she has succumbed to the assignment of the Timeout Tag-a-long. Hmm.

But before we decide, let’s examine the third reason of this self-designation. Could it really be that our Adi just wants to be with her sister- no matter the circumstances? Might she simply desire her sister’s company despite the task? Is it a slight possibility that Adi adores her more distinguished sister so much that she wants to be at her side as much as possible?

Given the surrounding evidence of the interactions between our girls, I think we might have to choose option c. You see, the first three things either daughter asks for every morning are mom, sister, and cereal. And if you knew the esteemed value cereal holds in our home, you could very well understand the magnitude of coming higher in rank than such a luxurious bowl of carbs. (Don’t worry, dad is #4!) It seems that Adi loves her sister with such a purity of heart that she just wants to be at her side, serving.

And here it is- another heart-pounding moment of theology learned in the throws of parenting. This lesson can be examined two ways. From one side, we see Adi’s adoration of her sister and her desire to be with her all the time. She wants to climb with her, play in her room, eat the same foods, run as fast, talk as clearly, and color as passionately. She doesn’t seem to care what Em is doing, just as long as she can be with her. The other side of this can be seen by looking at the willingness to serve a sentence she didn’t earn. Does this sound like someone else you know?

We should want to be at Jesus’ side, no matter the activity.
Jesus wants us near him so bad that he was willing to serve a sentence he didn’t earn.

So, I am sure my little Timeout Tag-a-long will shed her desire to share timeouts in the near future. But for now, it’s a great reminder that Jesus served a sentence he didn’t earn.