Sunday, June 30

Would you still care?

I used an analogy on one of my unsuspecting kids this week. Oh, I know... those mom analogies... the poor soul. 
 For months, this child of mine has been walking around disappointed about something he can't change about himself. He has been anxious because he thinks he should be different than he is.
Maybe obsessing is a better word for it.
If you're a parent, you know that when a child feels badly about themselves, it hurts you too. You want your kids to start life accepting what God has given them in the way of traits and characteristics.


You feel badly, because you don't want them to feel badly about who they are.  But there comes a point when, well... we get a little tired of hearing the complaints and the "if only" talk.
So when that point came, I busted out the best analogy I could think of in the moment.
(Please look past the high Hallmark Hall of Fame cheesiness factor.) It went like this:
"Son, if you and God were the only two in the whole world, would you still care about ____________?"

 He quickly gets the point, and sheepishly answers, "No.."
Then it hit. This is for everyone of us. Man, woman, boy, girl.
I realized I had some serious work to do if I was going to practice what I was preaching.
If you and God were the only two in the whole world, would you still care about:
the extra baby weight you're carrying around?
the way your teeth look when you smile?
how tall you are?
your thinning hair?
the varicose veins on your legs?
your reputation?
that cellulite?
the kind of clothes you wear?
how your voice sounds when you answer the phone?
the number on the scale?
I would venture to say that most of us would say no. Those worries wouldn't exist any longer. We would no longer obsess about the muffin tops that creep over the waist of our jeans.
Because we know that God isn't impressed by our outward appearance or by who we've impressed on this planet. It brings a whole new meaning to this verse:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

This helps us orient our thoughts and gets us thinking about why these things are important to us. Why we obsess over them. Since we know it isn't to further our relationship with God, why is it then?  Let's ask ourselves these hard questions and kick those obsessions to the curb.
**What things would you no longer care about if it was just you and God?**
Who can you share this with who needs this as much as we do today?

Tuesday, June 25

Dear blog...

Dear blog,

I love you. You have been a faithful friend to me through the years. You never quibble if I take a week or a month or more off, and you're always there, ready to hear what I have to say. 

I've missed you, even though it's only been two weeks - and I apologize. But the weather is nice (unseasonably nice) here, and I can't bear to sit down and spend time with you. My family and the warm sunshine is calling, and I'm answering. 

I'd love to be a published author someday, and those in the industry say I need to have a large online presence, or platform. So sometimes I'm drawn to try all sorts of tricks to see if more readers will come see how fun or informative you can be. But that's exhausting. Who needs to add one more exhausting thing to their list? Not me. I've come to know that, "God opens doors that no one can close," and "It is better to be marked by God than to be marketed by man. Because God will elevate you to the place He wants you to be." (author Christine Caine)

 If it's according to His will for my life, He will open doors at the proper time - and with no help from me. 

So I'll continue to consistently work toward writing good content, in hopes that people will find you, share you, and come back for more.  Because I truly do love you, dear blog. 

I will write something interesting soon, I promise.

Wednesday, June 12

closet confessional

“I wear my sort of clothes to save me
the trouble of deciding which clothes to wear.”

—Katherine Hepburn circa 1935

When shopping for clothes, what draws you over to a rack and causes you to start flipping through the hangers?  Well, besides dresses and jeans.... for me?  It's a good lot of stripes.  I'm not into geometric prints or animal prints... Solids are alright in moderation. And the flower print needs to be just right.  But stripes are the things that draw me in again and again. 

I'm a wee bit sheepish about sharing this picture of my stripes packed closet with you.  But it's just so shocking and hilarious, that I thought, "Why not?" I didn't realize just how many shirts, dresses, and sweaters I own that are striped until I saw THIS and realized I'm in a tiny bit of a rut.  At least I'm not in a color rut, right?  I see quite a variety in there. 


I do own more than striped things, but I'm thinking this collection takes up 2/3 of my closet space. 

And I lined them up just for you, so it doesn't always look this insanely striped in there... but I'll have to admit, it made me really happy to see them all together.  Like long lost cousins back for a family reunion. 

So if my sister (who tried to break me of my fashion rut) is reading this...  Jen, you can take the stripes off the girl, but you can't take 'em out of her. 

Now it's your turn:  What sort of fashion rut do you find yourself in?
Tuesday, June 4

I refuse.

I refuse to stuff the dreams God has given me deep down where no one can see.  Because I'd be ignoring His voice.

I refuse to compare myself to the creative work God has done in creating the others around me.  Because He was mighty creative with me too.

I refuse to be cranky with my kids.  Because that's the easy way out. 

I refuse to believe the lie that I'm not good enough.  Because He makes me able.

I refuse to resort to selfishness when things get hard.  Because fighting for relationships is worth it. 

I refuse to be a wife that manipulates to get what I want.  Because being dishonest is not a way to live.

I refuse to let jealousy reign in my friendships.  Because God made us for relationships.  Lots of them. 

I refuse to feel bogged down and overwhelmed.  Because saying "no" to the overwhelming is what's really good for you sometimes.

I refuse to expect perfection from those around me.  Because they definitely don't get perfection from me. 

I refuse.


a coffee date

It's time for another coffee date!  It's been four whole months since our last one.  For shame!  A coffee date in the form of a blog post is where I pretend I'm sitting across from you at a quaint little table while we sip a yummy drink and chit chat.  It's sort of like a random brain dump from me to you.  No need to thank me.  But you're welcome.  (wink)

As we sit down, we'd probably chat about the weather, and about the 10 glorious days of warm temperatures we had around here.  I might talk about the freckles that are finding their way onto my arms and face again.  I love them.  And so does Jeremy.  He mentions it every year.  I love that. 

I'd ask you something like, "So... what's new?  or "How's everything going?"  Like I always do.  And I'd say it like I mean it.  Because I do.  I really want to know how you are.  And I can usually tell if how you're "doing" isn't really how you're doing. 

We talk about things in your world for a while, then you ask me how I am. 

First, I'd surely gush about how excited I am that it's summer, and that we have no schedule.  Except for this week, because the whole family (Jeremy included, because he took the week off to be with us) is spending the week at Vacation Bible School  (VBS) at our church.  We're in Babylon this year, learning about Daniel's courage in captivity.  Jeremy, Drew (our oldest), and I are running the Food Court serving ancient foods (wearing full costume) in the tent city-like marketplace.  It's a blast... Day 2 starts tomorrow!  Our three grade-schoolers are in the actual program, and our three baby/preschoolers are downstairs in the classes for the leader's little ones.  Though I keep baby Emmy with me as much as possible... three hours is a long time! The whole family is loving it so far. 

I'd tell you that VBS is taking up most of our energy, but that we're making the most of this vacation time with Jeremy home for 10 days.  We're hitting parks, drive-thru windows, ice cream shops, and more.  It's been such a good time. 

I might even admit that I've been failing miserably eating the way I need to for my health (as I'm being naughty sipping a sugary drink with you.)  I can really feel a difference when I cut out the grains, sugar, and diary, but it's been so difficult to do lately.  I'd tell you that it's been a constant struggle over the last two years, and that I'm paying for it in my health.  I'd also ask you to pray for me in that.  Then I'd thank you. 

The topic of conversation might move to our kids, because it often does...

You might tell me about what your kids are up to this summer; possibly playing in a soccer league, conquering the great outdoors, or going to summer camp.  I'd tell you that our schedules are clear, but that we're looking forward to some June and July birthdays in our household, namely Emmy's first birthday coming in less than two weeks!  Also, I'd share that my Mom is flying in to visit us for over a week at the end of June, and that we're super thrilled about that. 

Next, I'd ask you what you've been up to for you.  Are you engaging in any favorite pastimes or hobbies?  I'd tell you shyly as my face turns red, that one of my dreams is coming true this summer. 

Along with a friend who has been dreaming with me, I'm traveling to the She Speaks Writer's Conference in July.  By myself, with my friend - across the country.  Cannot. Believe. It.  We have been dreaming of attending for three years now.  And, be still my heart, our husbands agreed that this is the year.  The conference is put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries and Lysa TerKeurst (who I adore, I can't believe I get to meet her.)  We'll be spending just five days away, including two whole days of travel. We're so giddy with excitement we can't stand it.  It's been hard for me to think about anything else! 

Learning the ins and outs of writing in sessions taught by some of my favorite authors and experts in the area is a DREAM!  When God puts a dream in your heart, you've got to start somewhere for it to come to fruition, right?  So that's what we're doing.  We're starting there. 

I'd take a deep breath, sip my drink, and force myself to calm my rapid heart rate while trying to change the subject. 

I might ask you if you've ever tried dry shampoo in your hair.  It's the stuff I've avoided trying because it sounded like an oxymoron to me.  How is shampoo dry?  Well, I'd tell you that I folded during a weak moment in the hair products aisle at Target.  It was only a couple bucks, and it was probably the cheapest brand.  But it's amazing.  You might laugh at me, and tell me that you've been using it for years (like when it first came out.)  But I'd still tell you how yummy it smells, and how it makes my second day hair so manageable.  You see, I never wash my hair two days in a row... I usually have a "do my hair day" and then a "pull my hair back because it's second day hair day."  But on that second day, my hair just needs some oomffh to get it back it to it's non-oily self.  This does it.  Just spray those roots, rub it in, and bam.  Good hair. 

You might look at your watch, and say that you need to get moving.  Maybe my dry shampoo talk scared you off, but either way, I'd look at my phone (because I don't wear watches) and realize I am needing to head out too. 

We'd hug (because I'm sort of a hugger) and say farewell in hopes that we don't go four months until our next coffee date. 

Now it's your turn!  What would you tell me on our coffee date?  I'm dying to know.

Sunday, June 2

3 Traps Even Well-Meaning Parents Fall Into

     Most of us parents sincerely want the very best for our kids. We work tirelessly day in, and day out to make sure our children are well taken care of.  But sometimes we get so busy going through the motions of our daily grind that we neglect looking at exactly how we're parenting and the impact it's making.  As parents, it's easy to fall into traps and patterns of behavior in thought or action toward our kids that do more damage than good. 

    God has been so good to reveal the ways we all need help as parents.  The Bible is packed with gems of encouragement to help us as we navigate the rough seas we encounter as we bring up the next generation. 

    The following is a list of parenting blunders we've compiled (and... ahem, have been convicted of) in the midst of raising our seven children:

1.     {Comparing your kids to other kids.}

Kids need us to be on their side, rooting for them where they are at this moment.  They weren't made to perform like anyone else, look like anyone else, or be anyone else. They were made with the dazzlingly creative hand of God; and what he makes is good.
"My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth."
    Psalm 139:15
2.     {Holding onto their mistakes after they've come clean.}

When we say we forgive our kids, sometimes we don't.  We brood, glare, fuss, and generally don't give our kids an inch of wiggle room to make their wrongs right.  We say things like, "I'll forgive you... But, you have to __________."  If we truly want to show the love of Christ to our kids, then we can start by showing the love of Christ to our kids.  When He forgives, He forgives.  He lets us start fresh and new.  There is no brooding, glaring, or fussing. 
  "For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
    abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you."
Psalm 86:5

3.     {Reacting harshly to their mistakes.}

I know it's highly overused, but I have to say it because it's true; We all make mistakes. Whether you want to call them missteps, oversights, snafus, false moves, or miscalculations - we are all guilty.  Kids are bound to make lots of mistakes, because they haven't has as much practice as we have.  Reacting harshly to their mistakes only builds up a frustration in them that they don't know what to do with.  In time, as those frustrations mount into a giant heap of baggage, your child may start to disrespect you.  Possibly only in their thoughts at first, but they may begin to disrespect you with their mouths as well.  Pay close attention to the intent of their hearts when an issue comes up or they make a mistake.  If it's teachable heart rather than rebellious one? They just need more practice. 
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
Proverbs 15:1

Parenting is tough.  The areas I struggle with and end up writing about are as much for me as anyone.  I hope you will be encouraged as you parent your growing kids.  
We are unfinished masterpieces along with our kids, so give yourself a hefty dose of grace today.  

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:10 Photobucket