CHANGE – It’s Not Rocket Science!!!

I have a sign hanging on the white board to my right that says, “IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!”

Above that, it lists three relatively simple things I could do to change my life and that of our family.

  1. Daily time with God (Reading the Bible, praying, and worshiping through music)
  2. More water and daily vitamins (instead of so much coke drinking!)
  3. Go to bed earlier; get up earlier (so I am ready to meet the challenges of the day)

WHY IS IT SO HARD TO MAKE THOSE SIMPLE CHANGES? Especially when I know they would be so beneficial to myself and my family.

I am choosing laziness over diligence.

I am choosing indulgence over self-control.

I am choosing wimpy-ness over perseverance.

I am choosing excuses over self-discipline.

UGH!

Daily time with the Lord would help me to know Him better and be more confident in my walk with Him.  It would help develop more Christ-like character, like the patience I need in raising our girls.

More water and daily vitamins would help in several ways.  I would feel better; I would lose weight; my skin would look better; and I would be so much more healthy (which I certainly ought to be paying attention to given my kidney situation!).

Going to bed earlier and getting up earlier would CHANGE MY LIFE.  It has only happened a few times, but when I do this, the difference is phenomenal.  I get up well-rested and have time to prepare for the day before the girls awaken.  It is life-changing and makes such a tremendous positive impact.  (And, here I am writing this at 11:48 p.m.)

So, I know what I should do.  I know how much doing those things would benefit me and our family, so why can I not seem to get myself to make these changes?

KNOWING what to do is not rocket science, but for me, getting myself to make these changes is certainly a huge challenge.   Anyone with me?

If you have made some big changes in your life for the betterment of yourself and your family, I would love to hear about how you made that happen.  If you have changes you would like to make and, instead, keep doing the same things, know that you are not alone!  But every day gives us a new opportunity to start again and to improve things in our lives.

It’s up to us.  No one else is going to do it for us!

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They are listening…

 

 

“I’M SO JEALOUS,” a little voice exclaimed from the back seat.  I was startled, caught off guard, because jealousy is the opposite of the character traits we are trying to instill in our children!   I don’t even remember what she was jealous about, but I do recall being immediately aware of who the guilty party was:  ME!

My children (and anyone close to me) know of my deep, constant longing for a little farm in the country where I can have a small menagerie of critters to make me smile every morning.

My girls have endured lengthy rural drives looking for that perfect little farm, with my frequent expressions of envy of those people who have what I want!  Repeatedly, I,  myself, have proclaimed, “I’M SO JEALOUS!”

So, the outburst from the back seat should not have surprised me.  She was just following my example and it was not a good one!

On that occasion, I immediately felt convicted for expressing those wrong feelings of jealousy so often, especially within earshot of the girls!  I apologized to my three precious daughters and let them know that it was not okay for Mommy to say that, and that it’s not a phrase we’re going to use in our family.  Intently I spoke to them of the importance of being grateful for what we have, and how we should rejoice for others instead of being jealous.  “I’m so jealous” is definitely not a phrase that honors the Lord.  (And I was definitely “preaching to the choir”!)

Whew!  I sure needed to remind myself of that.  Honestly, I am jealous!!!  There are few things I desire more than a little place in the country.  HOWEVER, I need to be content with how the Lord has already greatly blessed me, and I need to focus on being grateful, rather than bemoaning what I don’t have.  And, as I practice those things, pass them on to my children.  I don’t want them to long for what others have; I want them to recognize how very blessed they are and be so thankful and content.

They are listening…they are SO listening.  They are listening when we speak negatively about someone else and when we use a “bad” word.  They are listening when we speak critically to them and when we express our political opinions.  They are listening…and remembering.  Fortunately, they are also listening when we offer encouragement, when we express gratitude, when we quote Bible verses…when we choose to use our mouth and words in a patient, wise and helpful way.

What we say will form them, shape them, and likely, come out of their own mouths one day.   So, we’d better be careful!

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HELP! My spouse and I have nothing to talk about!

Okay, maybe my marriage is just not as amazing as yours, but sometimes when my fabulous hubby and I go out on a date…

WE DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO TALK ABOUT!

GASP!

I’ve already heard about the glass being the wrong-size for his commercial construction project.  He’s already heard about my homeschool choir enrollment.  We know what the kids are up to.  I’m aware of what’s happening with his family in Kentucky.  He’s listened patiently to my story about a friend I am helping out.  Nothing new going on at church.

And, so we eat and it’s too quiet…and I am bothered and frustrated.  We know this lack of fulfilling communicationis not optimal!  Nor is it fun.

If you can relate, never fear, all is not lost.  We have not given up on meaningful date night conversation  and neither should you!  There is help!  There is hope!

There are a few great resources to help couples in this dilemma!!!  One is Love Talk Starters, by authors/speakers Les and Leslie Parrott.  We purchased this book several years ago, and when I know where it is, we bring it along to enhance our conversation.  🙂  We do not yet own 101 Conversation Starters (linked above) but plan to buy it soon!  I am familiar, however, with Gary Chapman, one of the co-authors, and would recommend any of his marriage resources!

These books ask all sorts of random questions which will help you to have a  more keen insight into the person you are married to,  have some fun learning about them, and maybe find out some things you never knew.  Some of the questions are lighter and some are a bit heavier, and hopefully will lead to some substantive conversation.

Here are a few sample questions:

As you were growing up, what was unique about your family as compared to other families?

What is the worst movie you have ever seen?  Why?

What is something you really wanted as a child or teen but were not allowed to own?

If you were given five acres of land, where would you want it to be and what would you do with it?

If you suffer with the “now that we’re alone on a date, we have nothing to talk about” dilemma, I encourage you to pick up one or both of these books.  (They are super cheap on Amazon if you just click on the book links above).

I’ll bet that answering these questions will become something you will look forward to!  It will draw you closer to each other, and will definitely make your date nights less quiet and more fun!

P.S.I have not been paid to endorse this product, nor would I endorse a product I did not believe in, and if you click on the link and buy it to benefit your marriage, I will get a tiny bit of money and it will help me move toward a successful blog. THX!

 

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Table Talk…for Families

“If you could open the back door to your house and step out into the perfect backyard, what would that yard be like?  Be as specific as you can.”

This was the question we discussed around the table tonight.  Tom discussed his lawn bowling lane outside and “NO CHICKENS!”  Lilly mostly focused on her family being out there and her cats and her chickens.  AnnaJoy went into great detail about her seasonal backyard – every season represented in a certain area of the yard.  There were robots and snowmen,  a self-designing Christmas tree, rakes and leaves,  a pool and a hammock, and so forth. (After her answer, we decided we need to set a timer from now on).  🙂 And, of course, I discussed a backyard full of llamas, sheep, goats, horses and a barn.

Our conversation over this question resulted in laughter, creativity, silliness, imagination and learning more about each other.  The personality that came out – WOW!

The question came from “The Meal Box”, a tool designed for families that want to really have some fun, lively and sometime thought-provoking conversation as they share a meal together!

For under $10 you get a set of over 50 cards with questions on them.  Here is just one example:

“If someone gave you $1000 in cash in the form of ten $100 bills – and told you that you had to give it all away within twenty-four hours, to whom would you give the money?

On the back side of the card are suggestions on how you could apply the question to character and/or Christian development.  This card says, ” Advertising fills our children’s imaginations with many things they can acquire and possess.  Counter that by showing your child the joy of being a cheerful giver.  For example, invite your child to donate toys and clothes to those in need or to assist a neighbor who could use a helping hand.”

On the back side of the card we answered tonight about the perfect backyard, it says the following:  “Take a moment to imagine in what ways heaven will be the perfect place. Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Take one action today that will make life in your family more like your vision of heaven.”

Whether your table talk needs a lot of help or you think you’re doing just fine, you can’t go wrong with adding this box of cards to your dinner table.  I love it and look forward to using these with my family in the months to come.

Eating together as a family is awesome and so significant in your children’s lives!!!  If you can add interactive, imaginative, explorative conversation, how much better will it be?!

 

P.S. I have not been paid to endorse this product, but if you click on the link and buy it to benefit your family, I will get a tiny bit of money and it will help me move toward a successful blog. THX!

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CDPS

CDPS – I have it.  A severe case.  I mean a serious, lifelong debilitating situation.

Clutter Disorganization Procrastination ‘Syndrome’.

Anyone with me?

This past Tuesday, my sister, Tamara, hosted our recent 4th of July lunch.

As of the prior Friday,  I planned to make cheesy corn in one crockpot and some sweet potato awesomeness in the other crockpot.  (I love the recipes in Taste of Home and Fix It and Forget It.  Those are my go-to slow cooker cookbooks)

On Monday night, I decided I’d go with two “oven-made” dishes, since I had not shopped yet and didn’t want to get up early to prepare food in the crockpot.

Early Tuesday morning, I said,”Forget the cooking; the kitchen is a disaster; I’ll just pick something up from the store on the way over!”

An hour before departure, I whipped up some mac & cheese and fruit salad with ingredients I already had.  🙂

THIS is the life of someone with CDPS.  That’s just one example of thousands.  If you were here with me, you would not be able to see the top of my counter or my kitchen table.  You would find most cabinets disorganized and you might find me freaking out about not being able to find something I need…probably something I just had in my hand a few hours ago.  Ugh!  Just being real here…

Usually, I try to bring some kind of advice or resolution in my blog posts, but not this one!  The only thing I can say is this:  If you have CDPS, you are not alone!   And, there is always hope!

One of my  (MANY) books on becoming more timely, neat and organized said, “Obviously you have hope.  How else could you get out of bed in the morning and face your clutter.”   HA!!!  That is so true.  I can’t really picture myself being an organized, timely person, but I have NOT GIVEN UP HOPE that one day I could be!

Maybe one day I’ll manage to transition to “content, disciplined and peaceful”, instead of “cluttered, disorganized and procrastinating.”

But in the meantime… HAS ANYONE SEEN MY BIBLE STUDY BOOK?!?!?!?  You know, the one I just had Wednesday night when we started “Finding I Am” by Lysa Terkuerst.  I can’t find it anywhere.  ARGH!!!!!

Blessings to you in your struggle, my fellow CDPSers.  I am with ya!

 

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“It’s not just for sneezes!”

“God Bless You!”

When is the last time you said that to someone (other than when they were actually sneezing)?  Do you recall the last time when someone uttered that phrase to you?

About 10 years ago, I had a friend who said that phrase constantly!!!  And, I happily stole that habit from him!   When I receive my change and receipt at the  store, or when I’m leaving a restaurant, I often say, “Thank you.  God bless you.”  Usually people respond with “Thank you, or God bless you too.”

Whatever I’m doing and wherever I am, it has become completely natural for me to tell people, “God bless you.”

One grocery clerk responded, “Thank you. I receive that.”

But my favorite response ever was a few months ago from a lady stocking the aisles at Wal-Mart.  I had utilized her assistance with a product and as I was continuing on my way, I said, “Thank you.  God bless you.”  She responded, “GOD BLESS YOU MORE!”

I LOVED THAT!  It totally made my  night and obviously left an impact since I’m writing about it now!  I expressed to her how much joy that response brought me, and that I had NEVER gotten that response in the thousands of times I had sincerely wished God’s blessings on people I encountered.

The Bible says in James 3:10:   From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers (and sisters) these things ought not to be so.”  God knows our world has plenty of cursing going on.  Horrible name-calling, judging, condemning, slurring, and slandering.  And the bigotry, hatred, and vitriole that is spewed throughout our culture. Yikes!  I sure want my mouth to be blessing and not cursing.  Won’t you join me?!

I challenge you to try sincerely gifting people with the simple phrase, “God bless you.”  It’s free, easy, and is sure to brighten someone’s day.  And, don’t we all want God to bless those around us?   It’s sure better than the alternative!  I’d love for you to make this your new habit and let me know how it goes!

God bless YOU, my dear reader!

P.S. I have been reading some books and really pondering the concept of blessing others, in our home and our community, especially the way our WORDS bless or do not bless those around us.  I look forward to sharing with you more in future posts.

 

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Family Devotions…

happy-family-reading-book-illustration-45672105FAMILY DEVOTIONS. What image does that phrase evoke for you?  Do you smile as your think of your own family habits?  Do you cringe knowing that you’re not doing what you probably should be doing?  Did you think, “I have no idea how to lead family devos” or “why do we need to do that?” Did you (like me) remember growing up with post-devotion consequences because of too much giggling or inattention?!  🙂

Regardless what image or memories come to mine, family devotions are an indispensable part of a family that wants to be strong in their faith!  I gotta say that I am very proud of our family regarding family devotions in 2017!  This has been our best year yet, as far as actually having regular family devotional time.  The fact that we have read 85 out of 100 Bible stories, as well as 175 pages in a Christian autobiography just thrills me!   If the only “Christian” thing we do in our homes is attend church Sunday mornings, then that is all we are passing on to our children (and research shows that they might not even do that when they are grown).  It makes such a difference to prioritize even a little time each day to tell our kiddos that God is our primary focus!  Daily devotions (or even “every-other-daily”) help us to remember WHO is most important, and reminds us that the Christian walk is about our every day living, not just our Sunday church attendance.

I am not a “Family Devotions Expert” but I wanted to share what has worked for our family this year and maybe it will give you some ideas and inspiration for creating or enhancing this habit in your home.

Make sure the devotional is age-appropriate. 

We definitely are doing that.  Our current read is Step into the Bible – 100 Bible Stores for Family Devotions by Ruth Graham.  It includes 100 short, easy-to-read stories, concluding with a few comprehension questions and a memory verse.   It is perfect for young children, and now our seven year old will read it to her younger siblings.  We have kind of lagged on regular devotions and I am thrilled that we are on Step (story) 85!   It also includes some tips for parents when addressing more difficult topics like death and sin.  A wonderful section in the back is entitled “Life in New Testament Times” and informs children what the culture was like back in the time that these stories occurred.  Along with this, let’s not forget to often use the actual Bible in our reading times together!  It’s so easy to use the children’s versions with compiled stories, but is  so important to also take some time to read straight from the Bible even if it might be a little more challenging to understand.

Secondly, select something that’s not necessarily age-appropriate. 

So, my second point is opposite of my first point!  What about choosing something that will stretch your children’s thinking, vocabulary, empathy, and grasp of Scripture and Christian character?  Something that will cause them wonder or concern or sadness.   Maybe even shock or amazement.  Maybe  incredible inspiration, challenge or conviction.  (And that might not just be for the children; it might be for us parents too!)

We are also doing that right now!  We are 175 pages through Kisses from Katie, the fascinating true recounting  of a young woman living out God’s love amidst the abandoned, poor and needy children in Uganda.   The book is subtitled “A story of Relentless Love and Redemption.”   Our girls are 7, almost 6 & 4 1/2, and THEY LOVE IT.

They are amazed to think of sick children sleeping on dirt floors.  Concerned about the children not even having one healthy meal a day.  Astounded that parents have to pay to sent their kids to school and so many cannot afford it.  Flabbergasted by the fact that Katie Davis adopted 12 children while in her early 20’s.  Challenged to hear of Katie’s total reliance on and trust in God.  Pondering how they might serve God through reaching out to others.

Many times Lilly (5) interrupts me to say, “What does that mean?” and I explain before continuing the tale.  Katie’s heart for the Lord is impacting my girls, and me and my husband too!  Her name is frequently brought up.  Sometimes by me, as in, “What do you think Kisses from Katie would think about you wanting more toys when you already have so many?”  And, sometimes, my girls will say it to me, “Mommy, what would Katie Davis think about your complaining?”

So, why not mix it up with something age appropriate and also something that will really inspire and grow our families?

Finally, I love having a special conclusion to our devotional times.

We started doing that this year, and that repeated “ritual” provides a special kind of bonding, unifying routine.  We conclude each family time by saying The Lord’s Prayer together and then singing the Doxology.  (It only takes about two minutes and this ending is something we can do together before “lights out” even if we have not been able to get to devotions).   I think this will be a special tradition that will always be a part of the Walker family.

Those are my thoughts on family devotions.  I’d love to hear your thoughts, routines and the materials you are using.  If you have not been doing family devotions, I encourage you to start today!  God bless!!!

P.S. Kisses from Katie is truly one of the most extraordinary stories/books I have ever read.  I cannot recommend it more highly as a book to read together as a family whether your kiddos are 3, 13 or 23!  We are so excited that her new book comes out this Fall!!!

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A Few of My Favorite Verses

31,373.  That’s how many verses are in the Bible.  That is a lot to read, understand and follow!  But through my many years of reading, memorizing and learning from God’s Word, I have come up with a few favorites!  (Well, actually A LOT of favorites, but I’m only sharing four today).  Please feel free to reply with one of your favorites!

Over 25 years ago, my college choir, Point Loma Singers, sang an anthem by Eugene Butler titled,  “God Is Our Refuge.” It was a glorious rhythmic song accompanied by a trumpet duet.  The verse upon which this song is based has stuck with me ever since.

Psalm 46:1 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.”

I have “given” this verse to numerous people over the years to encourage them in the midst of crisis and hardship.  There is One we can rely on, who is always faithful and will help us in our time of need.

Another favorite is Psalm 37:24, which speaks of the righteous person – the one is following God:  “though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”  Ever since I memorized this chapter during a summer mission trip to Tasmania, I have especially loved that verse.  Along the way, I turned it into a song called,”God’s Hands,” which reminds us that the same hands that formed the universe, that healed the sick, that were pierced with the cruel nails – those are the same hands that hold us in times of trial, confusion and hopelessness.

This next verse still astounds me every time I read it.  Paul said, in I Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  A newer translation says, “And you should follow my example, just as I follow Christ’s.

Paul had the audacity to suggest that since he was so closely following Christ, they should follow HIS example and they would be doing what Jesus wants them to do.  That’s impressive –  to be so confident in your walk with Christ and the exemplary life  you are leading, that you can tell others to follow you.  That is something to aspire to!

There are so many more wonderful, inspiring verses but I will close end with Colossians 1:10.  Paul is sharing his prayers and hopes for the people in the church at Colossae, an ancient city in Asia Minor.  He prays…” that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”. 

This verse gives us what my friend, Owen, used to call, “a good challenge.”  May those of us who claim Jesus as Lord strive to live up to this verse – to walk worthy of His name, to fully please Him, to be fruitful in kindness and goodness, and to continuously grow in our understanding of God!  Whew!  That is a tall order, but if we could just follow this single verse, imagine how our homes and communities could change!!!

God’s Word is the best-selling book of all time…something about it attracts people of every age, gender and walk of life.  If you have some favorites, won’t you share them?  If not, you might enjoy checking out 100 Bible Promises to discover your own special verse.  God bless!

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A Few of My Favorite Birthdays…

Happy-Birthday-to-me-Wallpapers-HD-10-258x300

TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!  I will not even tell you how old I am because I can’t even believe it myself.  Suffice it to say that if I went back to teaching music full-time, I would be double the age of some of the new teachers.  Yikes!   The past few years with the kidney failure with extreme weight loss and then the kidney transplant followed by extreme weight gain, have really made me feel much older.  😦 I hate that, but I am thankful for another year of life to serve God, enjoy my beloved family, and love others.

Do you remember a lot of your birthdays?  I really don’t.  I know I had a big party for my 3rd birthday with several little friends over and we sat around the kids wooden picnic table out3rd birthday on our back patio in Southern California.  (That was the same patio where I one day carefully placed about 40 patches of grass, each adorned with two or three snails. My parents were ecstatic…or not).   I wore a sweet red-flowered dress with white lace (that matched with my 2 sisters) and fun was had by all.

lots of pets.jpg

My favorite birthday was my 6th grade year when I turned 11.  A bunch of friends from Aliso Elementary School were there and I can still picture us sitting in the living room.  Much to my delight, all of my gifts were my favorite things: animals!   We already had some rats, hamsters and other critters.  But that birthday, thanks to my friends and family, I added a few fish, a couple of mice, a snake, and a parakeet.  I was in heaven!  (My awesome parents would let me have any animal as long as it was in a cage, although there may have been a few escapees along the way).

My next favorite birthday is this one – TODAY!  I am alive!  I do not have a port for dialysis; I am not waiting on a transplant.  I am feeling healthy and am so grateful.  I have a safe and happy home with an incredible husband and three precious girls, plus my parents, siblings and their families all within 20 minutes.  I have some music jobs, the freedom and joy of homeschooling, more food than I need and plenty of clothes (most of which don’t fit right now -ugh)!.  PLUS, I have backyard chickens which I love.  God is good and I am thankful to have survived another year.  I anticipate another great year of fun adventures and learning. So, Happy Birthday to me.  I am so blessed!

And now, I shall leave you with a few birthday quotes…

P.S.  How do you keep track of your kiddos birthdays?  I’m not doing a very good job of keeping track of those memories.  I found a fun option on Amazon that might be interesting to some readers.  I actually have similar birthday scrapbooks for my girls that I hope to work on one of these days.  (This is an affiliate link, so if you happened to purchase this item for the listed price, I would get a very small percentage of the sale).

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Temporary

So as I thrust my “technology ignoramus” self into the world of blogging,  today I discovered that there is a site that gives you a word – just one word – as a writing prompt for your blog. I thought I’d go with that for today’s post.  Hope you enjoy.

“TEMPORARY”…Hmmm…My initial thoughts centered around the temporary nature of earthly things.  All of our possessions and most accomplishments will eventually be useless to us, but what’s done for God – our spiritual walk, the way we love and help others – that is eternal.  So many issues that we stress and  worry about, and fear and think about, may not even matter next week or next month or next year.

A few quotes and Scriptures also came to mind almost immediately:

Missionary C.T. Studd’s lines:  “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” (His poem can be read in its entirety here: http://paulhockley.com/2016/05/24/quote-only-one-life-twill-soon-be-past-poem-by-c-t-studd/

Martyred missionary Jim Elliot’s quote: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”   (If you haven’t read his life story, you are missing out!)  Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot (Lives of Faith))

Christian comedian and musician Mark Lowry’s comment that his favorite verse is, “And it came to pass….”  Get it???

And, finally, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18;  “17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

I also like the Living Bible translation.  I remember my mom reading her well-worn, mostly underlined, olive-green Living Bible throughout my childhood.  Here is how this version puts it:

17 These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long. Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever! 18 So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys in heaven which we have not yet seen. The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

What comforting, promising words!  Aren’t you thankful for the hope of eternal life?  And isn’t it a relief that God sees the big picture and is in control?

What do YOU think of when you hear the word “temporary”?  Let me know in the comments.

FYI:   The  above post contains an affiliate link which means if you click on the link you can peruse and/or buy a product I recommend. But totally zero pressure!

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