Monday, August 29, 2011

Parenting...There Is An App For That!

I have really been enjoying this new series started by our pastor. This past week was so relevant to where I am in life right now! I desire more than anything to train up my children in the way they should go. It certainly is challenging!

There is one website in particular that I have been using a lot lately, and I thought I would share it with you now. It has really helped me! It provides Scripture, object lessons, parent prayers, kids prayers, and activities that focus on character traits for which we all strive. I hope you find it helpful as well. I especially like the prayers that are written for the parents. I'd love to hear your feedback about it if you decide to use it as well. Go check it out!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adventures and Lessons in Motherhood...

Being a Mom has been the most amazing blessing I have received.  It has also been the most difficult thing I have ever done.  I guess that makes sense…I mean…I want to do this right!  I love my children more than I can even begin to explain, and I don’t want to mess them up.  Can you relate?
So...I will be real..and go ahead and admit it…I…worry…sometimes.  Am I doing this the way I am supposed to?  Why did I yell like that?  Will they become who the Lord wants?  Am I getting in the way?  Why the familiar “Mommy guilt” feeling?  Am I careful with my words?  Do I build them up?  Do I pray for them enough?  I could go on forever…really.
I spend SO MUCH time thinking and worrying…analyzing…that I don’t notice what God is using them to teach me.  Isn’t God capable of taking care of them?  He has shown Himself worthy over and over.  So…I have decided that I am going to do something different.  Instead of spending time worrying…over thinking…and occupying my thoughts with junk, I am going to thank God for the priceless, miraculous, life changing things I have learned from Him through them.  I don’t think I can possibly fathom them all…but I can certainly appreciate a lot more.
First…my sweet Gracie…4 and a half, biological…beautiful, freckled, full of life, little girl. 
  • ·      Control does NOT belong to me.  Things can go wrong in pregnancy (and life) and there is not a thing we can do about it.  BUT, God is bigger than the human body. 
  • ·      Trust that God will take care of His child.  Gracie is His first and on loan to me.  God loves her more than I ever can.
  • ·      When my Mom smiles and says that God has a good sense of humor…she knows what she is talking about.  Strong-willed Mommy = Strong-willed baby…toddler…and hopefully it stops there.  J
  • ·      Prayer changes things.  Our God is mighty to save.  If we give Him our life...He will use us.  Mold us.  Teach us.  Show us where to go.
  • ·      Love isn’t really a word that can be explained…or described.  The love I have for her…is SO deep…I can’t even understand it.
  • ·      Most Moms feel the same way as me and struggle with a lot of the same things…but don’t always talk about it.  Why is that???
  • ·      Sometimes we have to go through hard times and so do our kids.  But, God is there the whole time.  I don’t always understand why things happen, but I trust that there is reason.  And I find it incredibly important to remember that it could always be worse.
  • ·      It is SO VERY IMPORTANT to laugh.  On those days where you are counting down the minutes until bed time…laugh…it really does help sometimes.
  • ·      Coffee is a gift from God.  Really.

And then there is Owen…just turned 3, adopted from Uganda…smile that could light up anyone’s heart, strong, inspiring, handsome little boy…
  • ·      Boys really are different.  They dump things out, and crash things into other things.  They are loud and kinda smelly.  But…so gentle with Mommy and  those times are cherished that much more.
  • ·      A child is not conceived only in the belly.  Owen has a Mom who carried him for 9 (or so) months.  I’ve never met her and never will.  But, I love her.  Without her…our family wouldn’t be right.  And he fits in OUR family perfectly.  Like he has always been here. 
  • ·      Being a Mommy is about taking a deep breath, apologizing, and starting over sometimes.  It is OK to not be perfect.  It is OK to make mistakes.  We all do it. 
  • ·      We have too much stuff.  It gets in the way and takes my focus off of what really matters.  A trip to Africa will teach you so much…but that is for another post.
  • ·      Adopted children take after their adoptive parents.  My husband and Owen have the SAME sense of humor…from the moment we met him.  God is so crafty.
  • ·      Life isn’t supposed to be easy.  It is actually kinda hard.  But, there is growth in those hard times.  It isn’t fun…but it makes us better.  And the gift is finding joy in those hard times.  Because IT IS THERE! 
  • ·      Eye contact, feeding, touching your child’s face, telling them how much you love them, holding them, listening to them…builds strong bonds.  You would think this is a given…but it isn’t always.  There is no over doing it. 
  • ·      It is OK to forget everything.  It is OK to be walking down the hallway and forget where you intended to end up.  This is normal when life is hectic and a bit crazy.  Happens to the best of us. 
  • ·      Espresso…also a gift straight from above!

The list here can go on and on forever too.  Some things we learn rank much higher than others.  Some are funny.  Some are life lessons we can’t live without.  The variety is so perfect.  They are useless lessons, though, if we don’t stop and allow them to marinate in our thought life.  We have to appreciate them.  Thank God for them.  And then, live as if they matter.  What are you learning from your children?  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

School Time, Prayer Time

Here in the Dallas area, we are just over a week away from a new school year. Stores are full of school supplies, clothes for the new year, tennis shoes to go with the dress code. Homes are full of mixed emotions: kindergarten parents cherishing their final moments before their little one goes off to elementary school--and the rest of us realizing that the time is here and we are ready to get back into a fall routine. (I'm kidding, sort of....) Kids, too, have mixed emotions--some are excited to see friends and meet their new teacher; others are worried that they won't have friends in their class or that their teacher won't be the one they wanted.

Wherever your family falls in the "ready for school" arena, there is one thing that I know I want to remember as we near the fall routine. I want to remember to pray. Starting now (and maybe some of you started this months ago), we should be praying for the class our child(ren) is in. We should be praying for the teachers and students who our children will encounter. We should be praying for the friends that they have, the curriculum they're taught, the principal leading them. No matter if you're in public school, private school, or even home-schooled, there are challenges that will come up this year, and those challenges should be covered in prayer.

I believe that schools are mission fields, and I want my children to be bold in Christ. It is so easy to get caught up in the task of learning what is deemed important, but I want my children to grow up knowing the most important thing above all else, and His name is Jesus.

Education matters to me. I taught middle school for five years, and I value our teachers immensely, so don't misunderstand me. I want my children to value their education, but I want them to value Jesus more....And so I pray. I pray for the situations they're in, the people they're around, and for them to be unafraid of the Truth--no matter the cost.

I know this task may seem daunting--there's so much that we can be praying for/about when it comes to our children. One way to make this a little easier is to pray with your child on the way to school (if you're able). Start their morning off with God on their minds. Bring their worries about bullies, tests, or even their haircut before the Lord in front of them. Speak praise for the good choices they've made. Ask God to bring Himself to their minds as they go throughout the day. Say a Scripture to have them focus on if there's a particular situation you know about. Stick a Bible verse in their lunch box along with your "I love you" note.

But no matter how you do it or when you do it, do it. Pray. Much difference is made for the Kingdom when we come before the Lord in prayer. Let Him be in charge of this school year--not schedules, programs, or homework. Jesus. He will carry you--and your children. After all, they're all His anyway. He will care for them--He already does.

Now what are you waiting for? Let's pray!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I can't help it!

Confession time. More times than I should, I find myself mouthing off about a situation that makes me unhappy or is less than desirable. When called on it, my response is usually, “I can’t help it!”

When I say this, I am describing my emotional state. I am so wrapped up in a situation that I am unhappy about, I mean that I can’t HELP but speak up about it. I mean that I can’t HELP but make my feelings verbally known to everyone around me. When I say this phrase, I am literally so compelled emotionally that I have to speak up about what I think in order to sway someone to agree with me.

And then I read this scripture. Acts 4:18-20. Hello?!? Peter and John were faced with severe punishment at this time for just mentioning Jesus’ name to an entire village. The Sanhedrin had the ability to punish Peter and John with jail time (not pleasant, by the way), flogging, or exile. Needless to say, Peter and John were both aware they had the opportunity to meet any number of unpleasant situations for telling an entire city about Jesus.

But what do they tell the Sanhedrin? Peter and John say, “We CANNOT HELP speaking of what we have seen and heard.” Even in the face of punishment or death, Peter and John said, “I can’t help it!”

Sort of puts into perspective my measly rambling about unpleasant situations I am faced with. I pray today for a mind so focused on what Jesus is doing in me that I CANNOT HELP but speak of what I’ve seen and heard that Christ has done in me!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Huh? What did you say?

If you are like me, I bet there are times that you have uttered those very words. "Huh, what did you say?" Most of the time my children are the ones who hear this phrase.

A while back during BFG, I was sitting with a group of several ladies and a few men for some sharing time. One of the women in our group was holding her infant son and as she was trying to talk, the infant was squirming, babbling, and making a baby ruckus. All of the Moms in the group sat listening intently to this mother share. Not one of us noticed the baby's commotion-until one of the gentlemen in the group spoke up and offered to hold the baby. All of the Moms laughed at our mutual oblivion of the chattering infant.

Over the Fourth of July, my sister in law, explained much to her dismay that she noticed how parents are able to completely tune out their children. It's true. In the multitasking, overwhelming, rewarding job of parenting, I DO find myself tuning out the voices of my children so I can read a five minute article, blog, or think a thought without interruption. However, this often means that at the end of the five minutes I have a kid that is shouting for the fifth time, "Mommy, can I PLEASE have a glass of milk?!" Maybe you aren't so guilty!

Aren't you glad that God is the perfect parent to His children? He hears our whispers. He listens to our whiny voice. He is never oblivious of his children, and He never wants alone time! He sits enthroned on our praises. He tells us to make our requests known. He loves to make conversation with us. We never have to fear that He will utter the words "Huh, what did you say?"

Make sure you tell Him thank you today!