Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Favorite Repeat: Remembering at Christmas

Another Christmas, and another shooting at a school.  Such tragedy during a time when we should be joyful is just another sad reminder that the world is sinful.  More than ever we need to share WHY Jesus was born in a manger - to deliver from hell those who accept his gift of salvation.

Originally published December 28, 2012

As we celebrate Jesus birth, we are also mourning the death of 20 precious children.  I am reminded that when Jesus was born, there was also mourning for children who had been killed mercilessly and needlessly.  Herod the Great was a man who was mentally ill.  He killed his own family members because he was so hopped up on power that he couldn't handle the thought that he might one day be usurped.  When a toddler seemed to be a threat to his throne, he had about 30 baby boys, all two years or younger, murdered.  Why?  What possible real threat from a baby was there?  None.  It was a seemingly senseless act of horror.  Yet, God allowed it to happen.

There is no knowing why God allowed the events in Newtown, CT.  What purpose could these murders have?  And what about the adults who sacrificed their lives to save the kids?  I have no answer to that. We live in a sinful world that is just going to get worse with time.  But I do know this: God is a just and loving God.  The hurt will never go away, but God can and does work through tragic events.  Just as he did 2,000 years ago.  A baby was born who would, as an adult, voluntarily sacrifice his own life to save the life of every person ever born; all you have to do is receive that gift.

I have this hope: that my sins have been forgiven by God and one day I will be in heaven.  I am sure those precious children are with God now and don't have to experience any more of the world's hurts.  And I pray that the Lord comes for his church soon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Favorite Repeat: Things That Make Me a Horrible Mom

Moved Here

Monday, November 11, 2013

Can You Relate?

The kids are causing a fuss, so I tell them to put on their shoes and go outside.  The only child who is happy about that is the toddler.  I literally have to pull Eldest outside.
An hour and a half later, it is time to come in.
"Ahhh, I don't want to come in yet."
"Can we stay outside longer?"
"Do we have to go in?"
Seriously.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Appeal Process

I am currently reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.  I am loving this book.  It has helped me so much to become the mom I want to be to my kids (okay, I know that will never actually happen, but most of the time?  I think it's possible).
"It should be our habit to say "Yes" to [an appeal] unless there are good reasons to say "No".  It is easy to say "No" because we do not want to think through the implications of saying "Yes.""
This really touched me.  I want to say "Yes" to my kids.  I say "No" to them an awful lot.  I recently blogged about that, so it really hit home.
I have realized how important it is to let my kids have an appeal when I give them a directive. So many times I'm thinking about what I need the kids to do but not paying attention to what they are actually doing.  It would be so easy to say, "When you are done coloring the picture, it is time to clean up," instead of just telling them to clean up.  By allowing my kids to appeal my directions in a respectful manner, I am 1) teaching them how to be respectful in the future to authority and 2) teaching myself how to listen and pay attention before I give a direction.
Here are the guidelines for the appeal process that Tripp lays out:
  1. You begin to obey immediately, not after appeal.
  2. You must be prepared to obey either way.
  3. You must appeal in a respectful manner.
  4. You must accept the result of the appeal with a gracious spirit.
I told Eldest it was time to come inside.  He seemed like he started to obey when he stood up, but then he walked further into the backyard.  I asked him what he was doing.  He wanted to go check on the ants.  I told him that was disobedience and called him inside again and then explained, "I understand you wanted to check on the ants, but that was not obeying.  Had you acknowledged that I wanted you to come inside and then asked me if you could go check on the ants, I would have said yes.  It is important you obey before you ask if you can do something else.  I'll probably say yes if you obey first.  If you don't obey first, the answer will almost always be no."
It is starting to get through to the kids.  I noticed that CurlyGirl started to tell me she wanted to do something other than what I told her, and then she caught herself and started to obey and then asked me.  I was pleased that I was able to tell her yes.
Here's to letting my kids appeal my directions and to becoming less of an uptight mom.
Update 6/13/2014: Yesterday, I told Eldest to please go outside. It has been a difficult day, and I just needed some quiet. He said okay and got up, then he asked if he could go upstairs and play with his Legos instead. I said to go ahead. Then I called him back and told him, "Thank you for asking so nicely if you could go upstairs instead of outside. I appreciate that you didn't whine." He had a big grin on his face as he left.
It is encouraging to see that the appeal process really works!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Kid Activities

Your kids are driving you nuts because they are running around, screaming like banshees, taking toys from each other and screeching because a sibling looked at them.
Here's some ideas I've had that have worked wonders.
A long sheet of paper.  I've learned from experience that it needs to be taped to the floor.  We have an abundance of painters tape, so it's my go-to.  I bought a large roll of paper at Ikea for about $5.00, but I know there are other places you can get them.  Another idea with the roll is to trace the kids' bodies and let them decorate themselves.

Newspaper.  Just give it to your kids, they know what to do with it.

Again with the painters tape.  I made streets and city blocks.  The kids decorated the city with buildings.


  Balloons.  You can get large packs cheap at the dollar store.
Oh, and turning on some music they can dance around to is always fun.  In this pic, the kids are bopping balloons to Mary Poppins on Pandora.
Next time you're going nuts, hopefully one of these can give you some sanity.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nursery Know-How: 5 Tips for an Easy Church Nursery Experience

I recently started working in the nursery on Sunday mornings.  It had been a while since I was a nursery worker.  About 15 years, in fact.  I wasn't a mom when I first started working in the children's ministry.  In fact, I was 13.  But I loved it and I continued for the next 10 years until I was the person in charge of Sunday night child care at my church.  I learned a lot during those years.  But I've also learned a lot in the last few months as a mom who has a child in the nursery, and who also works in the nursery.

If you're new to dropping your baby off at the church nursery, you might find these five tips helpful:

1. Make sure your child's name is on the diaper bag and sippy cup/bottle.  Obvious to some, however, after working as a child-care worker for years, I know for a fact there are many nameless bags.  By the way, Sharpie marker easily washes off of bottles, however, stickers don't.  Preempt the sticker and use a Sharpie to write your child's name on the liquid delivering device yourself.

2. If your child has allergies to anything, make sure it is written on their name tag and verbally tell the nursery worker every time you drop off your child.

3.  My baby always falls asleep on the way home from church, and if the diaper wasn't changed, he wets through, so it is always helpful to me to ask when/if his diaper was changed.  No judgement if it wasn't changed, I just need to know so I can change it!

4. If you have any special instructions for the workers that you need followed through on, write them on the name tag; e.g. "put on ointment at diaper change" "change into pjs" "bottle at 9"

5. Finally, kids cry when you leave them in the nursery.  This is a part of growing up.  Trust your nursery care workers and don't hover around, peeking through the door to see how your kid is.  To ease your mind, you can let the workers know that if your child is still distraught (read: hasn't calmed down at all) after 15 minutes, you want to be notified.  Usually, kids calm down within the first five minutes.  Sometimes, the child will calm down just a little bit, but still be very clingy to the first person who held him.  And often the child will have moments where he remembers that his parent left him and cry for a few minutes.  Let me assure you, your child won't grow up feeling as if you abandoned him.  However, if you don't want to leave your child in the nursery, please find a church that is accepting of kids in the sanctuary.  Churches have reasons for how they operate.  A church that has a "no kids in service" policy usually has a great children's ministry.  The reason they don't want kids in the sanctuary is so the moms can actually listen to the sermon.  Moms have kid-radar-ears.  We hear a baby coo and our attention is immediately drawn away from the pastor and to the child.

Hopefully you and your baby will have a wonderful time during church.

Do you have additional tips?  Please leave a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Words

Speak only what is good for building up people and meeting the need of the moment. This way you will administer grace to those who hear you.
Words have great power behind them.
Tonight, I was hurt by words from a friend, words that seemed harmless enough, but dug deep into my insecurities and made me feel as if I was that gangly, awkward, inexperienced 14-year-old again.  A lack of confidence in my abilities and a lack of trust in my judgement left me damaged.
However, I knew that there was more to my hurt than just the paltry words.  I was dealing with hurts from the past as well as from the present.  Hurts that I thought I had left behind me; ghosts that came whispering in between the lines.
Honestly, I don't know how to come to grips with what she said, other than giving it completely to God.  More than just dealing with what she said, I'm having to deal with the past that I thought was dead and buried.  As Colossians says, "Don't be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you."  Forgiveness, like love, is an action, not a feeling.
I'm praying that my words will "always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Young Mom's Plea: I Can't Do it All, All of the Time

Recently, a number of people have said to me that they don’t want to work with kids at church or a Bible study because 1) they don’t have children, so why should they have to watch someone else’s kids, or 2) their children are grown and they’ve already paid their dues.
This irks me to no end.  I am a mom of young children, in the middle of the busiest time of my life.  Before I had kids, I worked with children all the time.  I figured I was giving some busy mom a much needed break so she could fellowship with others.  I also figured, that when my time came for having kids, I would be able to have the same courtesy of someone else watching them for a few hours so I could be refreshed through Bible study and worship.
However, I’ve come to find, it’s not like that at all.  I was appalled the first time a lady told me she didn’t want to spend a few hours in the kids’ ministry because “My kids are grown, I’ve already paid my dues.  Why would I want to go back to that?”  I wondered if she even remembered what it was like to be in the trenches of life with little kids.  Don’t you remember how exhausted you were?  Wouldn’t you have loved for someone to watch your kids for a few hours so you could spend time with other women?  Didn’t you need a break every now and again?

Since that discussion, two other women have said as much to me.  Here’s what I have to say to you:
I am constantly with my children or other people’s children.  I work in the children’s ministry at church because no one else will.  I have sat in the sanctuary two times in three months; when I wasn’t back with the children, I was at home with my sick kids.  Before I had kids, I worked in the children’s ministry to pay it forward.  When my kids are older, I plan on working in the children’s ministry to pay it back.  I wish I could work less in the children’s ministry now so that I can concentrate on raising my children.  It is tiring, exhausting, emotionally draining work to be with my kids constantly, much less ten additional kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids, and I love working with them…just right now, it is too much.  Right now, I need help.
Sometimes, we go to where God calls us, but other times, we are called to where God places us.  
I was placed in the children’s ministry at my church.  I really do love working with the kids.  These children are going to be the face of the world in a few years.  They need older role models who are mature and loving Christians.  You who have already raised your children, do you think you did a horrible job?  Or do you think you could impart some of that wisdom you learned in raising your own children to my kids for a few hours a week?  I am still in the trenches, I need leadership from someone who has “retired from the war”, so to speak.  If you aren’t willing to do it, who will?
If you don’t want to be in the children’s ministry, fine.  But please don’t give me some flippant remark about having already paid your dues.  When you say that, you make me feel totally abandoned and worthless.  Like my kids aren’t worth your time.  That you couldn’t care less about my weariness.  Undervalued and alone.  I feel like you are attacking who I am to the core and blaming me for wanting a small break to get some adult fellowship.
As Christians, we are called to serve one another, to do good to all, especially to those of the household of faith.  Next time someone asks if you are willing to work with the children for a few hours, instead of giving some smart-aleck remark, be gracious and say you’ll think and pray about it.  Then think and pray about it.  You never know where the Lord will lead you.  If you feel that children’s ministry is not the place for you, say so, honestly.  And then find another place to serve the body of Christ.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Star Wars Angry Bird Party

When my eldest turned six, he wanted a very specific birthday party: Star Wars Angry Birds.  Well, it is rather difficult to find party stuff with that exact theme. Star Wars? Easy peasy.  Angry Birds? No problem. Star Wars Angry Birds? There are games and a few plush birds, but that's about it. So, my husband and I became creative. Pinterest was a lifesaver for ideas!

C3-PO Bird made from an extra large Easter egg.  I just used a sharpie and free-handed from an online Google search of pictures.  I hid the egg for a game and the finders got a prize.

No Star Wars Angry Bird party is complete without light sabers.  These are pool noodles, electrical tape and silver duct tape.  I got this straight off of Pinterest.



My 3-year-old daughter requested to be Princess Leia, so I made her some hair - another Pinterest idea.

 My talented husband decorated the Han Solo Angry Bird cake.

This literally took about five minutes to make: R2-D2 drink dispenser.  An 18x11 white paper and free handed the rest.  They "eye" is a medicine dispenser cup.

The game actually took me the longest to prepare.  I wrapped or spray painted boxes of various sizes and then stacked them.  I bought a small Luke Skywalker Bird to throw at the structures.  There were some Galactic Pigs made out of balloons, but they popped in the heat pretty quickly.
Besides taking home a light saber and Princess Leia hair, the kids got to take home Angry Bird graham crackers and Angry Bird Eggs, which were really coconut jelly beans.
You can find all of these and more ideas on my Pinterest board.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Waiting to Eat

Our youngest gets cranky-hungry about 30 minutes before I serve dinner.  I used to spread food on his tray and then let him continue to eat until dinner was served.  I usually put a few extra finger foods on his tray while we prayed to keep him quiet. Then I read a short blurb about a 15-month old who waits patiently to eat until the family has prayed.  Hmm, got me to thinking.  Then I saw a show where a French family's young children sat patiently waiting to eat dinner until everyone was served.  Was I underestimating the abilities of my kids?
So, I started by giving my 13-month old a snack a little early to keep him happy while I cooked, but then took him out of his high chair for a few minutes until dinner was actually served.  Then, when we all sat down, and he was in his high chair, I waited to give him food until after we had prayed.  We hold hands when we pray, and so I held his hand as well.  His brother tried to hold his other hand, but that didn't go over very well.  Little Man was not quiet, wouldn't hold hands, and was a bit disruptive.  But, guess what?  After about a week, he caught on.
Now, once everyone is sitting at the table, he holds out his hands to the people on either side of him.  He is quiet throughout the prayer.  Though, as soon as we say Amen, he's pointing at his food and grunting emphatically.
The other day, my family was here for a holiday weekend.  At dinner, Little Man was waiting patiently for everyone to sit and pray.  As soon as I sat down (that's usually the cue that we're ready to pray), he held out his hands.  My dad offered his finger, thinking it would be easier for the little hand to grab.  Little Man cocks his head to the side, opens up Grandpa's hand and turns it so he can place his little hand into Grandpa's big hand.  How cute is that?
So, all that goes to say, you CAN teach even your littlest ones to wait to eat for a few minutes until the prayer is said.  Oh, me of little faith.  I had my doubts, and they were proved wrong.  Never underestimate the capabilities of your kids.  They do what you expect of them.   If you expect that they won't sit at the table to eat, they won't.  If you expect them to sit at the table while they eat, they will.
I had bought into our society's expectations that a toddler can't sit still.   I wonder, do I have any other low expectations that my kids could exceed?
I challenge you (and myself) to think of your expectations of your kids' behavior.  If you raise those expectations, will your kids (and mine) meet them?  I have a feeling we might be surprised at what our kids will live up to.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Roaring Out of Frustration

It's dinner time and the kids are getting on my nerves.  I'm trying to figure out what to cook and they're whining, "I'm hungry!" "What are we having for dinner?" "Can we have (fill in the blank) for dinner instead?"  I am about to loose my cool with them.  Wait, about to?  No, already have.  My voice is not pleasant; irritation is coming through loud and clear.  I'm ready to scream out of frustration.
It is too wet to send them outside, and I have a feeling that part of the whiny-ness stems from needing to release pent up energy.  So I run towards my oldest and "Tag, you're it!" then I run away.  He stands there and whines, "Noooooooooooooo!  I don't want to play taaaaaaaaaag!"
Grrrrrr.
Oh, wait, that's a great idea.
I run up to the six-year-old again and, "ROOOOOOOOAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!"
He squeals in delight and takes off running, his sister close behind him.  The toddler has a worried look on his face; he doesn't remember us playing this game before.  I pick him up and start roaring at his older siblings with him.  He catches on quickly and we chase the big kids roaring at them.  They all have grins on their faces, and, bonus, they're getting energy out.
I am no longer irritated, the kids are no longer whining, and I am in a proper state of mind to figure out what to have for dinner.  (It ended up being mac and cheese and chili, in case you were wondering.)
Turns out, roaring out of frustration really does make things better.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Whining

I tell my son to go put on his socks and shoes so we can leave.  Ten minutes later he is still barefoot.  I ask, "Why don't you have your shoes on?  We need to leave!"
Wait, did I hear how that came out of my mouth?  I didn't ask...I whined.
Drat.  Now I hear myself whine at my kids.  All. The. Time.
"Don't put the toys in your mooouuuth!"
"Whyyy is it taking so long to wash your hands?"
"Sit down while you're eating!"
"Are you allowed to hit?"
All of these things I say with a whine in my voice.  I was horrified when I heard myself and couldn't stop talking.  No wonder my kids whine - whine at them!
I also figured out when I whine at my kids.  When I'm weary, when I'm physically exhausted, when I'm spiritually drained, at the end of the day when I'm trying to cook and they are going crazy.
How do I fix this?  Well, first off, I can only change inside with God's help.  So, I pause and ask for His help.  I take a few deep breaths and calm myself down.  Then, I think to myself, I am the adult here, I am capable of controlling my own emotions no matter how out of control my kids' emotions are.  And, then, if I need to, I apologize to my kids.  Yeah, that's real humbling, and I don't really want to do it, but I think it is important to apologize if I am in the wrong because I am the first example of Christ that my children see.
Do you whine at your kids?  Do you cajole them into doing something?  Does your impatience come out in your voice and actions?  Next time you hear your voice starting to sound ungracious, I challenge you (and myself) to Stop, Look, and Listen.  Stop talking, Look to Jesus for help, and Listen to his voice in your heart helping your voice change.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jesus Doesn't Accept Everyone

Lately I've been hearing a lot about how Jesus' life on earth was all about love and acceptance.  I would never want to mislead anyone into thinking that just because they try to be a good person, they will be accepted into heaven, because that is simply not true.
Christianity is about love, but not necessarily about acceptance.  Acceptance says I will continue to let you do things that will hurt you.  Love says I will gently correct you. Jesus did NOT accept everyone - he didn't accept the Pharisees, and in fact said some pretty harsh things to them.  He did not accept Peter when he blasphemed, yet loved him when he repented.  He welcomed tax collectors, prostitutes and sinners with open arms, but did not accept them as they were; he showed them love and compassion, he healed their infirmities, and then he told them to stop sinning and sent them away changed.  Love is not the same as acceptance.  
Any mom who has a toddler knows that love and acceptance do not always co-exist.  When your toddler wants to play with something dangerous, you lovingly make them stop.  You are not tolerant of the dangerous behavior, and you do something about it.  Love, tolerance and acceptance are totally different.  Love trumps all.  I will not tolerate sin in my child's heart because I love him.  I will not accept lying from my kids because I love them. I will be compassionate and gently show my children that the sinful condition of their hearts needs to be fixed by Jesus.
The only way that God will accept you into heaven is if you have declared that Jesus is the Master of your life and you have submitted your will to him.  He will not accept you if you have only been a "good person."  Make no mistake, God loves you; he loves us all.  However, he will not accept us all.  Our sin has made it impossible for God to be accepting of us.  The only way God will accept you is if you have accepted his son as the redeemer of your sin.
I don't want my children to grow up thinking that in order to love someone, they have to be accepting of that person's sin; differences, yes - sin, no.  And I want my children to show love to everybody, even when they disagree with them.  It is possible to disagree in love.
So on this Good Friday, the day we remember how Jesus suffered and died to cleanse us from our sins, I am praying that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, so that he can accept you into heaven.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Redeem the Time


Lately the Lord has been telling me to be purposeful and intentional about what I am doing.  Instead of going through my days on autopilot, to be consciously thinking about my actions and my words.
The other day, I randomly* read Ephesians 5:16, "redeeming the time, because the days are evil."  The phrase "redeem the time" has been going through my head since then.  Every time I sit down at the computer, "Redeem the time" is the chorus in my head.
How am I using my time?  Am I using it wisely?  Am I making the most out of every minute that I have?  Honestly, no, I'm not.  And since I read that verse, every time I start to do something that is not fruitful, the phrase runs through my head, "Redeem the time."
The NIV version of verses 15 through 17 says, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
It would be so much easier to float through life doing only what needs to be done just because it needs to be done.  But I want so much more than that.  Instead of just telling my kids to "knock it off and behave," I want to explain why they should behave and the heart condition lying underneath their disobedience.  That is being purposeful, and redeeming the time that was spent in disobedience.
I want to instill in my children that living life to the fullest is being purposeful about how I spend my time.  I want them to look back on me and see a mom who was involved in their lives, constantly teaching by example.  I don't want them to look back on their childhood and picture me always sitting in front of the computer or having the TV on.
I am realizing more and more that how I am, how I act, and how I talk is who my children will be, how they will act and talk.  We always want better things for our children.  Resolve with me to BE the better that you want to see in your kids.
I challenge you (and myself) to redeem the time this week, living as someone who is wise.
So be careful how you live.  Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT)

*I don't think "random" is the correct word, because the Lord obviously had me read those words for a reason.  But I say "random" because I was just perusing the text, looking for something else and I came across those words which stuck with me. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Permission

I am weary today.  It has been a trying day with the children.  So...
I give myself permission to use pre-packaged foods when cooking dinner.  While I would like to make all my meals from scratch, sometimes it becomes overwhelming.  If using a can of cream of mushroom soup will get dinner on the table, then I should not feel guilty about not making my own cream of mushroom soup.
I give myself permission to use disposable diapers when the thought of having to wash one more poopy cloth diaper becomes too much for me to handle.
I give myself permission to let the kids watch a show when I am at my wits end and need a few minutes of quiet time with God.
I give myself permission to let the dishes pile up on the counter while I pay attention to my children.
I give myself permission to let my kids eat Cheerios for snack when I am busy with the baby and can't cut an apple or cheese.
I give myself grace to be the best mom I am able to be.  And only by God's grace can I be the mom He wants me to be.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  
~Galatians 6:9

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Dinner

I have a confession to make: I am having a horrible time getting dinner on the table.  I used to be fairly good at getting a healthy meal on the table at a decent hour.  Now, I can't manage to get even an unhealthy dinner on the table in a timely fashion.
I know what part of the problem is, I have a 9 month old who need attention at that time of day.  If I can get him to take a nap, I have about 30 minutes to fix the food.  If I can't get him to sleep, he needs to be held, or fed, or kept out of trouble in some way.
I used to plan my meals and use that guide to buy my groceries for the week.  For some reason, I've been having the hardest time figuring out what meals to cook for the week. It's like my head is in a fog and I can't think clearly.
A week before Christmas, a friend posted some freezer crock-pot meals.  I cooked one the other day and made an extra batch for the freezer.  I have no idea why I never thought of prepping extra food and freezing it.  Seriously, that is something I used to do, but this mental block about dinners has been really bad.
For Christmas, I received a cookbook about freezer meals.  It was an answer to prayer!  And why in the world didn't I think of that before?  It's like the mental blockade has been cleared and I can now think and plan out my meals again.
I'm slowly working my way to having a freezer stocked with meals that I can get on the table in a timely manner.  The last few days I have prepared dinner during quiet time and made extra for the freezer.  I'm confident that soon I'll be able to, once again, serve healthy meals without losing it completely!
Do you have trouble getting dinner on the table?  Have you figured out any solutions?