Beginning Again

Today, I will begin again.

Heavy sigh.

Can I be honest with you?

First thing in the morning, I almost never get up and spend time with the Lord, although I would tell you He is my first priority.  Instead I’m on Facebook or some other equally inane and useless activity.  When my girls get up in the morning, sadly, they find me at the computer.  😦

A lot of days, I am impatient and angry with my sweet girls and I am not productive in my homemaking.

And too many evenings, a movie is on when I could be having special bedtime routines with the girls.  I might tell you my focus God first and my family is second, but clearly the evidence does not bear that out.

And, just in case I didn’t know all of this already, the Lord sent me several reminders yesterday!

Pastor Sam asked us to consider, “Where in my day is Jesus?”  From Romans 6:15-23, we are reminded that the practice of righteousness leads to more righteousness, just as the practice of sin leads to more sin (slothfulness or anger anyone?)  What am I giving my time, attention and passion to?  How many of my 168 hours a week are spent doing things that shape me to be like Jesus?

Then, Pastor Chad reminded me that uncontrolled anger will destroy my life.  James 1:20 says, “The anger of man (woman!) does not achieve the righteousness of God.”  Also, that amidst whatever mess I might be in, God IS working to accomplish His purposes and plans.  I need to ALIGN MYSELF WITH HIM/HIS HEART!  (Not whatever political diatribes are happening on social media or whatever super clever meme someone has come up with or even with the jealousy-inducing vacation pics of friends).  GOD is unmoved, unchanging, faithful.  I need to fix my eyes on Him.

After a great morning of worship, I started my new MomStrong book by Heidi St. John.  She shares a story of an older couple from church stopping by when she and her husband were in the middle of a conflict! They shared their issue with this couple and sought some input.  The wife noticed that Heidi had lots of parenting books on the table, saying, “…I can’t help noticing the absence of the book you really need to be reading.  I don’t see a Bible anywhere on this table.  The Bible and the Holy Spirit are all you really need.  Wisdom starts in the Word.”   Ms. St. John was embarrassed that she, the pastor’s wife (!), had to be coached to go to the Word first!

In this great new book, Heidi declares that today’s moms need not just physical strength, but also strength of conviction and spiritual fortitude.  “Today’s moms need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  We dare not rely on human strength for the current battles we’re facing in culture…WE CAN’T GIVE OUR KIDS WHAT WE DON’T HAVE OURSELVES.”  That wisdom and strength comes from God’s Word!

SO, TODAY I BEGIN AGAIN!  And, you can too!!!!  There are many things I want and need to change in my habits and daily life, but the first and most important thing is to make the most important thing FIRST!  So, here I go to spend some early morning time in God’s Word and prayer.  May Jesus be everywhere in my day!

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Easy and Delicious Butterscotch Dessert!!!

For Tom’s August birthday, the girls each made a delicious dessert!  All 3 were delicious, but Lilly’s was pretty much the easiest recipe EVER and was scrumptious!  It will be made many times in our house!  It’s also great for FALL, with the butterscotch flavor!

First we mixed together yellow cake mix, two eggs (fresh from our backyard hens- thanks girls!), and four 3.25 oz butterscotch pudding cups.  (IF you want to do a little extra work, you can buy a boxed pudding mix).

 

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Then we mixed together some butterscotch chips and brown sugar, and sprinkled that on top!  (And licked the butterscotch pudding containers a bit).

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Pour into greased pan.  Cook at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  ENJOY!!!!  It is seriously good and SO simple!  Basically, the perfect dessert.  🙂

You can find tbe full recipe at this link:  http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/simple-yummy-butterscotch-cake-277705

 

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Have Books, Will Travel

It was just a four-hour jaunt to St. Louis for a family weekend, but I was prepared to be educated, entertained and inspired along the way.

Four books accompanied me, each one distinct from the others.  I’m sure I’ll write longer reviews on each in the future, but for now, I just couldn’t wait to offer you a glimpse into each of these inspiring books!  (I saved the best one for last..)

First up is Parenting on Purpose! (7 Ways to Raise Terrific Christian Kids) by Jason Free.  This book has been has been very motivating and helpful in thinking about how we can parent more effectively.  One of the things that stands out is the way this family verbally “blesses” their children.  Just the chapters on that topic are worth buying this book!

When is the last time you put your hand on your child’s head and said, “Lydia, I bless you.  I am so glad you are my daughter. I thank God for how He is working in your life. I praise Him for making you just the way you are.”  Or, said to your son, “Nathan, I love your life!  Spending time with you is such a joy.  God sure did an outstanding job when He created you!”

Imagine what a difference it could make if our families lived in an atmosphere of blessing each other!  This is a must buy!

Next is The Art of Neighboring, Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.  DO NOT read this book if you want to continue just pulling into your garage every night, content with not even knowing the names of most of your neighbors.  However, if you want to be challenged and inspired to consider that Jesus actually MEANT it when he said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” then you should pick up a copy of this book!  It has been VERY convicting and life-changing for me and my family.  

The mayor of the city where these authors live said, “The majority of the issues that our community is facing would be eliminated or drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.”   The authors were rather embarrassed when they asked the mayor how they could best serve the city, and were basically told to obey the 2nd greatest commandment!  Imagine how our neighborhoods and communities could change if we made it a priority to care for one another.  I highly recommend this book to read as a family or in a small group or Sunday School Class.  Or, hey, maybe with a group of neighbors!!!

Immersed in Verse – An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life.  This book is AWESOME!  It is funny, creative, well-written, informative and super interesting!  I highly recommend that families purchase and read this if they want to get their children (or themselves) excited about writing poetry!  It is full of techniques and tips told in a very entertaining ways.

(Homeschool moms, you totally need this!).  It is written in a conversational way that pretty much any age would enjoy hearing.  Reading level is probably 3rd grade and up but just as engaging for adults as children.  I am thoroughly enjoying this book and feel inspired to get back to writing poetry.

Among the things discussed are the following:

  • What kind of poet are you?
  • The Nine Habits of Highly Successful Poets
  • How to Read a Poem
  • The Poet’s Decisions (tense, form, point of view, details, revision)
  • What to write about
  • Performing your poetry

I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST and I kind of want to say that teasing “Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah!” because I already have this book even though it’s not officially out yet!  I am part of the launch team to get the word out about this incredible book.  This is another one you will NOT want to read if you don’t want your heart broken and changed for the lost, the abandoned, the needy,  the “least of these.”

Katie Davis Major’s first book (Kisses from Katie) details how God called her heart and life to the sick and starving children of Uganda.  What began as a “gap year” serving in an orphanage, turned into a full-time ministry (www.amazima.org) through which hundreds of children are fed, housed and clothed.  Oh, yes, it also turned into her adopting FOURTEEN Ugandan children.   Her devotion to God, as detailed in both of these books is mind-blowing and transformative.  She is changing the world, one person at a time.  YOU MUST BUY THIS BOOK!!!!!   Our family is almost done reading through the 264 pages of Kisses from Katie,  (http://amzn.to/2gZAOvK) and we look forward to reading Katie’s continuing story in “Daring to Hope,” subtitled, “Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful.”  These books WILL change your heart and life, so be ready!

Let me know if you decide to buy one or more of these books!!!  I would love to hear what you thought of it.

(If you choose to buy through clicking on the books/links above, I will receive a tiny bit of money which would be fun.  Regardless, I hope you will choose to check out some of my recommendations).

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“Mommy, you look beautiful!”

“Mommy, you look beautiful,” my almost 5-year-old said once again.   I had no make-up on; my hair was not clean and smartly styled; I did not feel beautiful AT ALL, but in her eyes, I was beautiful.

Allison constantly uplifts me with her sweet compliments and affirmations.   She sees me with different eyes than I see myself.  She sees beauty when I see ugliness.  She tells me “I love you most” and “Great job, Mommy”and “You look lovely today.”

And I am reminded…

That when I am guilty, God sees me as redeemed.

That when I feel ugly, God calls me His precious creation, knit together in my mother’s womb, the apple of His eye.

That when I feel unloved, He sees me as His beloved child,

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I know that the One who loves me most thinks I’m beautiful.

My sweet girls are quick to forgive and demonstrate unconditional love, so like our sweet Jesus.

When I might not have been fair,

When the consequence I gave was too harsh,

When my voice is loud or unkind,

When I’ve been totally grumpy with them,

it’s only moments later when they affirm, “I love you, Mommy!”

It is so entirely undeserved.  That’s why it is so precious to me.

How much more does God demonstrate His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness to me each and every day!

I am so grateful for His wondrous love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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!

Posted in Marriage, Parenting, Spiritual Life | 1 Comment

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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