Dear Moms- I dare you

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Join me in The Mom Dare with my friend, Krista Gilbert over at Meaning in a Minute.

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Moms –
You are the difference-makers. Change agents. Heroes. What you do every day – the hugging, working, teaching, organizing, praying, carpooling, cleaning, playing, laughing, crying, serving, and giving – it changes the world by deeply impacting those right at your kitchen table.

We see you. We like you. We know you – because we are also you.

We are moms….and when we find some time, we also write. And we’ve gathered together as a group to bring you a dare that is just for you.

Enjoy – we think we’ll have some fun together!

Here is what you will get when you take the Mom Dare:

  • 12 days of 1 minute dares for moms of faith (even moms have one minute)!
  • A special interview with a different blogger/writer every day.
  • Free printables and ideas.
  • Encouragement for the journey of motherhood.
  • An invitation to be a part of an exclusive Facebook group for the Mom Dare where you can ask the writers questions, and receive feedback.

The dare kicks off this coming Sunday, May 8 (MOTHER’S DAY!) and will run through Thursday, May 19. I will be featured on May 17th and I’d love to hear from you on that day!

Sign up for the dare here!

 

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Dear Young Mom, When It Seems Too Hard and You Want To Press The Easy Button

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You can listen to an audio recording of today’s post by clicking here.

Jacob is twelve, yet if feels as if yesterday we were bringing him home from the hospital. My boys are 19 days away from the last day of school. Even they realize the accelerated stride of life. How did fall to spring arrive and depart with such haste?

I want to run up to every young mom I see, grab her by the shoulders, and tell her not to brush off the well-meaning comments to enjoy and relish every second with her littles. To take that tiny hand and hold it until the tiny hand pulls away first. To stop even when time feels rushed, simply to count the dots on the lady bug. To stretch out the night time prayers and snuggles an extra minute or two. To say yes to the request to spin them around in circles just one more time.

I want to say to these moms that all the energy and love they are pouring in that seems to go unnoticed isn’t unnoticed at all. It only feels that way. It’s building something holy. Holy work is hard work.

I want to tell these moms to let themselves look silly. Run in the park when it feels ridiculous because others moms seem well-dressed and put together. To lay on a blanket finding pictures in clouds. To tell stories that have no ending.

I have encouragement for you young moms. The ones who have little ones who exhaust you until you have nothing left to give. The ones who are touched and talked to until you reach the point of wanting to hide in a dark closet. The ones who struggle with days that feel nothing was accomplished and you feel you don’t measure up. I have words for you I hope give your heart what it needs today to keep doing the hard and holy work of fulfilling your calling.

Dear Young Mom,

You are in the most precious season of life. Doesn’t always feels so precious, I know. The fatigue, sleepless nights, unshowered days, makeupless face. A messy house and no energy left for friends and fun.

My husband used to say, “These are the best days of your life.” Funny, he’s said this for many years, at various stages. He is always right. At each phase, it’s been the best days of my life. Even the hard ones are the best ones. The hard days are the ones I’m most aware of my need for Christ and most aware of His Presence in the daily muck.

Lord willing, one day you will stand at a graduation ceremony, and all you will see when you look on that stage will be a little boy blowing bubbles in the driveway or a little girl twirling in her princess dress in the kitchen. And you will wonder where the time is hiding from you. Surely there is more. More of those little days of innocence.

Time is something we can’t rewind. We don’t receive a do-over. It’s a gift we receive and have a choice how we will use it. The season you are in will not last forever. Each day passes at the same pace. Each season moves along steadily. We can’t slow it. We can’t backtrack to do it differently. We have one chance at the hard and holy work of raising these littles into spiritual giants in a culture that wants to devour them.

Young mama, put your game face on. Dig those heels in with fierce determination to choose the road less traveled, the narrow path. Don’t follow the masses of culture in parenting. Pull your children in close, hold them tightly for this season because the season of release is upon you with a speed you won’t believe.

This isn’t new. Most moms from past generations would agree, time moves fast. You, however, are parenting in a culture unlike any we’ve ever experienced. Your calling is placed on an incline. To do what’s right is hard. To raise these kids in a see all, share all world. Hard isn’t an appropriate word. 

When my boys were little, I didn’t see how the world around me parented. I looked to God’s Word and to christian parenting books. Social media didn’t taunt me with pictures of perfection in every home but mine. And social media didn’t provide me an escape from digging into that hard and holy work that I felt desperate to run from.

It’s more than taking every moment captive. It’s beyond that. It’s taking intentional days, intentional moments, and intentional parenting to new heights. You, young mama, must become a warrior yourself. In the gentlest of ways, you must fight back against the invisible push of culture rushing towards your family.

Sweet mamas, you are precious in His sight. You have been entrusted with His children to raise. They aren’t yours to keep forever. They are a gift to you for a brief season of life. Rise up to your calling.

The crushing pressure of life will make you crave the easy button. When you are desperate to simply get through the grocery store with no meltdowns, the easy button is to place an iPhone in your child’s hand. Choose not the way of the world. Instead, enter the hard and holy work that moms from every generation until now have walked. Teaching self control, discipline, restraint, and behavior in ways that will embarrass you or make you feel like a failure. Just remember, you aren’t parenting for the approval of anyone in that store. You have a hard and holy calling. Work for the well done from your Heavenly Father.

Success in the eyes of the world looks very different from success in the eyes of God. What looks like failure to the world can be a victory for raising your miniature spiritual giants.

When you are exhausted from fighting nap times and bed times and all you want is a few minutes of peace, the easy button will call your name. Tempting you to put an iPad in their lap so you can escape. Fight it. When they learn to obey and find contentment when they aren’t being entertained, you are priming them for some of the most beautiful lessons in life. When they’re not instantly gratified with entertainment, you are opening up the doorway for a life of patiently waiting on God.

Devices satisfy us in an instant. They immediately feed our cravings. They entertain us. They sweep us away. Placing devices in their little hands will distract them from the lessons God has for them right now. Lessons that will set them on a path for learning to listen for His still small voice. Lessons for learning that God works on His timing not our timing, not at the speed of our device. Lessons that we don’t get what we want when we want. Lessons that life is not all about us.

Life is sacred and holy. Time is a gift.

Culture will tell you that you are ridiculous if your little one doesn’t have screen time. Culture will even give you reasons to justify why it’s good for them. Culture will tell you how smart it will make them. How ahead of the pack they will move.

If there is one area I would say is most important in their little years and this fleeting season of life, it is screens. Screens will steal your time in a way you will not see as stolen. You won’t see what you are missing when you don’t know what you are missing.

In other words, if your child is behind a screen for a couple of hours, you will not see what was missed in that 2 hours. You will see the positives that happened. Maybe they learned some new letters or shapes. They are happy and smiling, so all seems well.

But what if the distraction of the screen was gone. What precious conversations could have taken place? What heart lessons could have formed? What could have been planted underneath the soil when eye to eye you are connecting?

There have been times that I know I would have chosen the easy button of technology had it been available to me when my boys were little. Now looking back, I can’t imagine what might have been lost in that time. I will never know, and I don’t want to know.

Who knows….maybe if they’ve never learned to depend on screens for entertainment, when they are 12, rather than running to a device to fill their time, they might just say, “Hey, mom, want to throw the football with me?” Maybe when they’ve spent their formative years building relationships through well-spent time, they will choose time together rather than wasting it on pursuits of pleasure.

To fight this culture in order to protect your little ones and cherish these days takes intention.

It’s being ok with looking ridiculous, for being different, not fitting into culture. It’s being ok taking the hard road.

The hard and holy work of parenting will be filled with tears, laughter, frustration, overcoming, heartache, joy, anguish, worry and fear, failure, triumph, laughter, confidence and peace. The hard and holy work of parenting is writing a story in your life and theirs.

Here’s the thing, it’s not just about the kids. What I want to encourage you with is this. This thing called time is a sneaky thing. While beautiful in the gifts time gives to us in the parenting years, if the time is not held closely and watched with intent, it will slip away.

Your job is hard. Motherhood is hard. Always has been, always will be. What you are creating is a beautiful story. Time fills the pages of this story.

When you stand at a new chapter- graduation, weddings, grandkids- what do you want to fill these pages? What story do you want time to tell?

One day you will have your time back. No one will place their sticky hands on the refrigerator you just polished. No will will spill a bowl of cereal on the freshly mopped floor. No one will be dumping out drawers of freshly folded laundry.

One day the incessant chatter will be no more. The pulling on your skirt will cease. Your aching back and tired arms will be stronger.

I pray for all us mamas, that one day we look back with contentment over how we chose to enter into the hard and holy work and how we managed this short window of time we’ve received as a gift.

Hard and holy work is a gift. Cherish the gift of time, remember it’s here today and gone tomorrow. This very moment will never be again. Make the most of each one.

Love to you!

 

 

Parenting In A Culture Where No One Is Wrong and Teaching Our Kids To Own It

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I gave clear instructions as to my expectations. I even went as far as writing down the four things I expected them to do, time frame to finish, and consequences for failure to complete in a timely manner.

At 12 and 10, I don’t feel I need to micromanage my older boys. The 4 instructions should have been common sense. Things they need to do every night. Pack your lunch and clean your mess well. Put away any clean laundry in your room. Brush teeth, get ready for bed. Clean up all dirty clothes and bathroom mess. Simple.

Andrew and I finished up reading his favorite baseball book. The one that is ridiculously long. I’m sure I wasn’t the one who bought this book. We dogeared where we’d pick up the next night, said our prayers, snuggled for a minute. The door opened a crack. “Hey, mom, I’ve finished everything.”

Surprised at the record time, I asked, “Everything on the list?”

With complete assurance, he nodded is head, “Yes, every single thing.”

Kissing Andrew’s head one last time, I whispered goodnight and closed the door. I walked downstairs for a glass of water before beginning the nightly reading session with Jacob and Zachary. When I entered the kitchen, I froze.

How in the world could he possibly think he completed the 4 simple things when the kitchen looks like this? Two bags of popcorn, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, a sticky knife, crumbs galore, all the drawers wide open, dirty dishes placed next to the sink. It looked like they hadn’t lifted a finger towards that list.

Initially, I was agitated at the fact that they are 10 and 12 and should just know better. I shouldn’t have to tell them to clean up after themselves. The fact that I had specifically asked them and they failed to obey is what I wanted to discuss with them.

One of the boys had followed me down the stairs. He was the first to hear my thoughts. He immediately began cleaning. “I’m sorry! I’ll clean up my mess.”

I hollered upstairs for the missing culprit. I began the same discussion with him I’d just had with his brother. However, this child immediately began to defend himself, to build a case for why he was right. “You didn’t tell me to clean up that mess.” “That part isn’t mine.” “You said…..”

What could’ve ended in 2 minutes ended up becoming an hour long process.

I sat him at the table and we did the back and forth. Each stating our case. Showing how we were right. We heard a key in the door and paused as Steve walked into our tense dialogue. We each began retelling our versions, which surprisingly were vastly different in details.

Steve remained mostly quiet as my son and I continued. Then this child’s emotions spiked, and he bordered that point where you begin to say things you will later regret. Those things that will hurt your heart when your emotions settle and the heat of the moment passes. This is the point I asked him to simply go upstairs.

I’ve learned when my boys are emotionally charged isn’t the best time for us to have the discussions. Tempers flare, anger threatens, and words can become dangerous weapons. When the battle is intense, we will never convince each other why we did what we did, why we said what we said. And simply put, we are pretty selfish creatures. We are prideful and tend to look at our own wants, needs, and sides of the story. We falsely believe the person’s eyes we look into have become our enemy.

Psalm 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.

In the middle of the argument, I excused the brother who failed to argue, the one who owned his part, apologized, and made it right. For him it was end of discussion.

The entire time I argued/discussed with the other brother, God kept saying, “You do this, too.” At one point I caught my husband’s eye and had to keep from laughing. I’m sure he was thinking that this child and I are so similar at times it’s scary.

After he went upstairs, Steve said, “I wish someone would always tell me to go away when I got angry. It would keep me from saying things I’d later regret.”

“Yeah, me too.” I had to know. “Steve, do I do that too?”

With a slight twinkle in his eye, he said, “Yes, sometimes. It’s just that usually, I’m wrong. But when you are wrong, yes, you do that too.”

Ouch. I knew it was true because I saw it played out and I heard God saying, “You do this, too.”

It gave me what I needed to talk to this child. First, I stopped by the brother who’d been excused.

“Listen, I want to point out something. When I showed you the mess in the kitchen and pointed out where you guys failed to obey fully, I appreciate the fact that you owned your part and made it right. You didn’t make excuses for why you didn’t obey. You didn’t even simply clean up only your mess. You simply realized that yes, you hadn’t done what you were asked to do, said you were sorry, and made it right.”

He stopped reading his book, gave a sleepy grin.

“I wish I were more like you in that way. You’ve always had a heart that is quick to repent. God uses you to teach me.”

His grinned broadened. We prayed, I tucked him in, kissed is head, and gently closed his door.

I walked into the next room. He sat propped up by his pillows, reading lamp casting a soft glow on his maturing features. His face had softened drastically. His jaw wasn’t set, his shoulders relaxed, hands clasped on his stomach.

“Listen, I need you to understand something.”

He looked up at me with those eyes that look the same as the newborn eyes I remember gazing into. I remembered back to thinking I could never envision this sweet, innocent baby challenging our love in any way.

His demeanor was completely different from only 15 minutes earlier in the kitchen.

“The major issue wasn’t about your failure to do what was asked. That was the starting point. But it goes beyond that. It’s how you handled yourself and the situation when confronted with your failure to obey instructions.”

He nodded. Eyes still so soft.

“You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. It is how you handle the mistakes that is most important. Can we own our failures? Can we simply say we are sorry and do what is required to make it right? Or will we allow our pride to blind us so that we only make a defense for ourselves?”

I continued, “Conflict and confrontation are normal parts of life. Human nature is to look at the conflict only from our perspective and form our response from that position. That is where pride begins to take root. We become selfish even in our own points of view.”

“I know this because this is what I do many times. I wish at your age I had begun to learn these things. At 39, I’m only beginning to see things differently. The heartache I could’ve saved if I’d entered disagreements looking from common ground instead of from my position only.”

“I hate to disappoint people. I hate to fail at something or fail someone. Out of fear, I will try to protect myself. I will state my case so that the person will not see me as a failure or a disappointment. Often, I create greater disappointment in my inability to own my own mistakes and say I’m sorry quickly. Bottom line, it’s pride.”

I could tell he was really listening. Not just trying to get through a lecture. This time there was no lecture. Truly, I shared my heart. It’s one of my many struggles as well. I get it. I get him. I feel for him. It’s what I do. As a parent, it breaks my heart to watch his pride stand tall. I know the dangers of pride. I know how it grows. I see in lives around me how this very thing has destroyed relationships.

“Jesus was the most beautiful picture of humility. Never elevating himself over another. Always choosing the lower position. To the very point of death. For us. He could’ve made his case (and he would’ve been right), he could’ve demanded that everyone see his point of view. He did nothing of the sort. He submitted to the Father. He humbly went to the cross. And He never said, “You all just wait and see. You’ll know I’m right sooner or later.” No, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Even to death, He thought of others first.”

I looked back over the things we’d exchanged downstairs. His defense of his defense. ‘I can’t just submit if I don’t think I’m wrong.’

I was struck by this because it’s how I often feel as well. I can’t submit to what you are saying if I think I’m right. But that is not the example of Jesus. He submitted fully. He was right. He gave no defense. He left that to the Father. And so should we.

I’m learning alongside these children that we are raising. Before we argue our case and defend ourselves, maybe we need to pause. See the part that is ours, the mistakes we made, and own them. Say we are sorry quickly, not after defending ourselves, and move forward to make it right.

The sweetness of God in how He parents us as we parent our children, His children first.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6The Message (MSG)

3-6 The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

When My Anger Broke Out On My Children

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Psalm 37:8-9 “Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated, it can only bring harm. For evildoers will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

Something snapped inside me. A raging fury welling up from the pit of me. Slamming down the lunch box, I lurched at him standing with the refrigerator door open in his hands. I snatched the door handle from his hands, slammed it shut with every ounce of rage now fully visible for all to see.

The words poured out like the bile they were. All over my child. “How dare you speak to me like that. Why do you think you can speak like that?”

Silence in return. His face reddened with anger in his eyes matching mine. He held his tongue. Mine ran with wild abandon. And then I pulled away.

As I walked away, I felt weak and shaky. All energy expelled through my anger, now I stood blanketed by shame, guilt, and humiliation. My selfish pride demanding respect from my child in a way that disrespected him right back.

He returned to the refrigerator door. “Great, you broke the door. That is what anger does.”

I felt the anger again. This time in the form of sheer disgust. The anger at myself.
This refrigerator I’ve never been fond of. It has an odd mechanism on the door that is fragile. The left side must close before the right. A piece must fit neatly and securely in order for the right side to fit. Break one side and it affects the other.

This door mechanism was out of joint. I was out of joint.

My anger broke out. And in the aftermath, I saw in the faces of my children I’d broken more than the door. I’d broken hearts and spirits. Deflated, defeated, hurt, disappointed.

When anger breaks out, it breaks all that stands in its wake.

The condemnation began. The fiery accusations. The taunts. Some example you are for your kids. You just set them up for a great day. Just wait until you try to homeschool them….home all day to fight these battles – have fun. They will always disrespect you. You have no control over them. Look you can’t even make them talk to you the way you wish they would.

I let the enemy have his way. I imagine he stood right in the middle of our kitchen pushing button after button, whispering threat after threat. Even as the boys walked out the door with angry, sad hearts, the enemy didn’t stop. He kept telling me to punish myself.

I closed the door behind the children as they left with the carpool. I stood for minutes replaying the devastation that took place in a matter of seconds. It didn’t take long to realize my anger came from somewhere else. It wasn’t really a simple disrespect from my child that caused that fury to spew.

I sat with the Lord, words were few. I’m sorry.

I felt numb. Exhausted emotionally. I sat with the Lord stunned at my behavior. It seemed to come out of nowhere.

Was it worth it to give my energy to my anger? Did I get what I wanted? Did they stop sassing me and show the respect I demanded they show? Of course not, but who thinks rationally when anger drops the gloves? Where had that been hiding in me? Who was I in that moment?

Fear. The root is my fear.

I fear my children will turn away from the Lord one day. I read story after story. I hear it from friends. It terrifies me. And satan knows it. So in those moments my children show the sin in their hearts, the enemy says, “See, they will wander away one day.”

I fear losing my kids. I fear the loss of control. I fear so much, and this fear lies under the surface. It takes a mere hair trigger to set off the explosion.

I’m tired of fighting for control. I don’t want to let anger win. I’m tired of worrying.

What I can’t wrap my head around is this endless grace and mercy God bestows. I deserve to be done with. I deserve Him to give up on me. I deserve to suffer much harsher consequences than a broken refrigerator door.

As I sat in the silence with no words but “I’m sorry,” I felt His tender compassion. I felt His warm embrace. I heard Him whispering, “It’s ok, my child, I love you. I forgive you. You are mine and I’ll never let you go.”

Then I remembered. I prayed a dangerous prayer at the beginning of the week. God, make me love you more than I do right now.

In the hours that followed my undoing, I almost felt unable to bear the lovingkindness, the mercy, the forgiveness, the unconditional love. It makes no sense. Unworthy of forgiveness with no ends, yet that is what He offers. Unworthy of love when my actions are beyond unloving to those He’s graced to me. Yet He tells me His love isn’t hinged on my efforts. It makes no sense.

In those hours, I felt rushes of His love over me. My heart that wanted to continue punishing myself continued to feel it might explode from within me with this growing love for God.

I wish I could say I immediately accepted His forgiveness and held tight to His promises of love and mercy. But they were too good for what I felt I deserved. So I held them at a slight distance. Close enough to see, not close enough to own.

The days that followed I fell again and again. In my rejection of what He offered, I suffered the consequences. It’s the place the enemy wanted me. Pride kept me there.

It was a trap, and I felt the chains with every move I made.

I stepped outside to simply be with Him. The wind chimes swinging gently. The blue sky proclaiming His glory. Suddenly, I remembered the prayer from the beginning of the week. Make me love you more.

Is that how? By falling? By seeing the disgust that still lives inside me? And knowing that when He looks on me, He loves me despite my heinous actions? Because He sees His Son when He sees me?

It’s one thing to read about His mercy, His lovingkindness, His grace. These become church terms that I fear lose their meaning. We sprinkle them in conversations, but do we understand their magnitude?

As I sat outside listening to the wind chimes, watching the birds flit from branch to branch, I felt Him. This is when I knew that He had been answering my prayer to love Him more.

It was Holy Week. I was already reading daily devotions on the path to the cross, the great love poured out, the great redemption, the great rescue. Sin, penalty, death, into freedom.

In that moment, it became as personal as a mom who lost it on her children, broke the refrigerator door in her wrath, and couldn’t forgive herself, much less allow her Savior to forgive her. Again.

In the days that followed, I continued to fight. I fought grace. I fought mercy. I fought tender loving kindness. Until I had no fight left in me. Spent and exhausted, I surrendered to His love. And this mama who didn’t feel she had an anger issue, surprised and disgusted by the disgust that resided in the depths, allowed God to rush His waterfalls of grace over her.

I never expected Him to grow my heart to love Him more in this way. It was surprising in ways I still can’t put words to.

I broke the refrigerator door on a Wednesday. I had to rig it shut. No one seemed to be able to do it but me. Each time someone tried to close it, I’d have to get up and assist. I had to be the one. Each time it was a reminder of my fall, my pride, my anger, my fear. But God did something that week.

Until I stopped fighting Him to receive His mercy, I felt shame at that door. When I surrendered to His love, I felt His tenderness each time I had to delicately close the door just so.

Thursday night the entire mechanism ended up falling off. It took a bigger fix to fix. Family would be arriving on Friday night. I knew that my dad or step dad would be able to fix what we were unable to fix. Another reminder. I was waiting on my dad to fix my mess. My Heavenly Father left the throne to come down to me to fix my mess once and for all. I will continue to make messes with my life, but He has already poured out the punishment for what I mess up. Now He wants me to accept what He has already accomplished and walk in that love.

Friday night the door was fixed. It works like it is brand new. Truly He makes all things new.

One day, everything will be truly new. Each day His mercies are new and fresh. New starts. But one day, He will do it for good.

Revelation 21:5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”

 

 

4 Ways To Make Holy Easter Traditions In Your Home

Today I’m sharing our favorite Easter traditions. (Sniff sniff) And holding back tears over these pictures of my little guys from 5 and 6 years ago.

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Resurrection Eggs. Some years we’ve hidden one egg a day over the course of 12 days. Some years we’ve hidden 3 eggs a day. Some years we’ve hidden all eggs at once. What I love about these eggs is that it tells the story of Jesus in an engaging, hands-on way that is active and lively for the kids. It comes with a little booklet to read as a devotional. Perfect for all ages in my opinion. I started when my boys were babies, but at 12, 10, and 7 they are still excited for this tradition.

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Repentance Box from A Holy Experience. This one I love. Honestly, I wonder why we don’t do this year round?  We use a little treasure box we have. We place a stack of paper and pens next to the box. Through the course of the day, we find ourselves confessing our sins to God on these slips of paper and slipping them into the secret dark of the box, where only God and ourselves know.

It’s a practice in confession. It’s an awareness of the constant temptations we face and the daily failures. It’s a reminder that this life is impossible to face victoriously without a Savior to take our sins. It’s a practice of daily, and moment by moment cleansing.

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On Easter we burn what’s in the box to remind us that our sins are forever gone because of the blood shed by Christ on the cross. He rose from the grave defeating death, our sins have no hold on us.

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Grace garden – You can find examples on A Holy Experience and all over Pinterest. We’ve made grace gardens for the last several years. It’s something all my boys have loved. This year only Andrew, 7, got his hands dirty with it. He was proud to design and implement his grace garden plan completely on his own. On Friday, the stone will cover the tomb and on Sunday, the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty for He is risen!

(And here he is 5 years later! Major sniff sniff now)

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If you enjoy giving Easter gifts to your children, you may be interested in these:

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What I love about The Story, The Story For Children, and The Story for Kids is that it is the Bible, put into chronological order, told as a narrative with added explanations between stories to help connect the dots. Beautifully done at all levels.

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We also own the CD set of The Story and we have The Story of Jesus on Audible. My boys absolutely love listening to these audios.

Some other favorites (we really love audiobooks and dramas):

Adventures in Odyssey

The Little Kids Adventure Bible 

Blessings to your family this Easter week!

 

 

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When Moms Unite Over Electronic Devices

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“Hey, can I talk to you about something?”

“Sure,” I answered my friend. Our boys have been friends for years. We walked to the parking lot together to leave the earshot of others.

“Here, let’s sit inside the car where it’s warm.” We jumped in the front seat of my minivan as I became keenly aware of the crumbs on the seat she now occupied, the greens powder stained smoothy cup, and the strips of paper and debris left behind from the boys. I really should clean this van more often. 

My friend began to tell me about a recent sleepover experience our boys had. I let go of the pesty thoughts of my dirty car. Her son went to the sleepover with an iPhone. None of the other boys had devices. When she talked to one of our other friends, she realized that her son having that phone had become a distraction to the boys that night.

“I realized that it wasn’t fair to the mom hosting the sleepover that she had the added responsibility to then monitor what was happening on my son’s device that could impact the other boys. And our son knows his limits, but what if my son’s device ended up being used in a way that exposed other boys to something harmful or dangerous?”

She went on to tell me how she and her husband discussed the issue at length and came up with an idea. Our boys are at this interesting age where they don’t need phones at all. However, many middle schoolers have them anyway. So then there is this issue of who has one and who doesn’t. Who feels cool and who doesn’t.

We’ve discussed with our boys that we will never make decisions to do something so that they fit in. That would be us modeling peer pressure decision making. Giving our kids something to be like everyone else rather than giving the why’s behind our decision and praying for hearts in agreement.

My friend said, “What if we parents determined our boundaries together so that there is always a common agreement on the electronic issue and no fears about what will go on at each house.”

I felt speechless momentarily. The fact that no one approached my friend to oppose her in any way. No one came to her and expressed upset over her son bringing a device. She, on her own, felt genuinely sorry about how the device impacted or could impact that time the boys have to simply be boys and wanted to be proactive about it.

I kept thinking to myself, “What a picture of humility.” Many parents wouldn’t be so willing to step forth when not approached to admit they felt they’d done anything wrong. Then to take it a step further and say, “Let’s fix this going forward, too.”

She said, “I don’t want any of our boys to feel like they don’t want to go to one house because they have limits that other houses don’t have.”

Again, speechless. This has been something I’ve prayed about for a long time. Steve and I are 100% ok with the boundaries we have in our home with devices. And we’ve never had a boy come here that complained about our rules either. In fact, they get so busy playing ping pong or foosball or riding bikes, shooting baskets, or whatever that they don’t seem to miss it at all. But there is still this little fear that my boys’ friends would prefer to go to someone else’s house where devices have no limits.

She continued, “I think we should let all the boys know that if they bring phones or devices, they are given to the hosting parent when they arrive. That way they are free to be boys. If they need to call or text their mom, they can come get their device. But other than that, the hosting parent will keep them safe.”

This eliminates the need to interrogate the parent each time we send our kids to each other’s houses. We have all come to the same agreements with regards to uses and protections.

My friend talked to several of our other friends. Not one person pushed back. Every single mom expressed gratitude and felt a sense of relief.

It took away that awkward conversation we have to have each time we send our kids away. I’ve discovered that simply telling my boys to remember our rules apply away just like at home isn’t enough. Without establishing our boundaries with other parents, we are putting our kids at risk. Many families allow their children full internet access. We do not. The times I’ve failed to have this discussion with the parents, I’ve regretted it.

My friend approaching me about this issue, establishing these boundaries and rules to protect all of our boys, left a deep impression on me. I was struck by her ability to look beyond her own kids to the other children. She took ownership without being challenged. How rare today to see this modeled. And what a relief now at least for this group of boys to know that we are all on the same page and have the same house rules. They are free to just be boys for this brief window of time. Far too soon, they will be in high school and beyond where the boundaries will shift again.

And for the boys….it seemed to relieve them of pressure we didn’t even realize they carried. Free of the device, free of the stress it brings in disguise.

 

 

 

Why Don’t We Pray More?

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Last week was amazing and crazy, full and empty, glorious and heartbreaking. No “big” event took place. In our family we are in a state of many points of indecision and pending choices. Waiting for God to direct us and light the path. So we wait.

The waiting can be excruciating.

Piece by piece, God would reveal something. Another piece of the puzzle.

God brought a woman into my life who prays fervently for me and my family. Can I just tell you that no one has ever given me a greater gift than that. I take that back. Jesus- my salvation- that was my greatest gift. But for God to draw someone’s heart in such a way that they fervently pray for you?

I know prayer is crucial in our walk with the Lord. I’ve read many books on prayer. Heard sermons on the topic. All the time, “I’ll pray for you.” Or “let’s just pray about it.”

My mentor is a living example of the enormous power of prayer, and I am asking myself, “Why in the world have I not utilized this power in bigger ways?”

Billy Graham once said one of his regrets is that he didn’t pray more. This is shocking because we know he was a praying man.

That is the thing with prayer. It’s an endless supply of God’s power. It’s a line of communication that never fails, never disconnects. As you taste it, you want more.

I told my husband last week that I’ve never in my life felt more in the center of God’s will. He paused. I paused. How to articulate that thought? Nothing has changed in our state of waiting on all fronts. The only thing that has changed with me is that I’m spending far more time in prayer than I have before. It’s that sitting with the Father, knowing He’s right there with me, hearing me, speaking to me. Then I move on and time after time, my jaw drops through the day as I see God over and over again.

It’s as if the more I pray, the more I see God. This seems so common sense. But we get busy, we race from here to there, we desire to serve and love, to share and give. And all these wonderful things, but sometimes we miss the very best thing. God in our ordinary. I am seeing the more I pray, the more I see God.

Do we want to see a miracle? Pray for God to open our eyes. God is performing miracles all the time.  He’s the same God who parted the Red Sea. He is still the God who healed the blind and made the lame walk. That same God resides in us and works through us.

Prayer is opening my eyes to see miracles masquerading as ordinarily normal. Prayer is changing my heart and my desires. Prayer is changing how I see relationships and people.

God has given us a gift of prayer. Access to Him around the clock. The more time we spend talking to Him, the more madly in love we fall. Nothing in this world can compare to that.

Prayer is the thing we often feel we don’t have time for. Yet, it’s the thing that fuels our ability to do life to the level we desire.

The boys are seeing a shift as well. I see it in their prayer life. I once heard a wise mom say, “We can’t lead our children in faith further than we ourselves have gone.” If I spend my time in prayer only blessing meals and saying bedtime prayers with them, how will they see the living God who is actively working in the cracks of the day?

Zachary jumped in the car after school one day and the tears were on the edge of spilling, “I just have so much homework. I’ll never get it all done.”

Initially, I responded, “I’m sure it’s not that much. You will get it all done.”

This didn’t help as he began to tell me how I didn’t understand.

“Well, let’s just pray.”

“Mom, please don’t close your eyes while you pray and drive.”

Smiling, I assured him I’d put safety first. We thanked God for our school and the loving people in our lives. We thanked Him for the beautiful day and the gift of a safe and loving home to do this work. Then we asked Him to increase Zachary’s productivity, give him clarity and organization of thought, order his time in such a way that he does an excellent job staying focused and giving it his all.

After getting home and settled, Zachary appeared in the kitchen wearing a new face. Radiating with excitement, he said, “It worked! I can’t believe it, but I’m done with everything.” Thirty seconds later I heard the steady dribble of the basketball on the driveway.

We had bigger issues to pray through. One in particular that will affect our entire family. We discussed it with the boys, who initially were not happy with the issue at hand. Much disagreement voiced around the table.

“Let’s begin to pray. I trust that God will direct our hearts and draw us into unity over this decision.”

Within days, trickle by trickle, I saw hearts changing, unity forming. Amazing. Only God. Only through prayer.

My tendency is to think of all I’ve missed in my christian walk by not praying more. But I am not going there. Instead I’m thanking God for His gentle hand lifting open the lids of my eyes to His glory and the gift of constant conversation with the Creator of my soul.

P.S. One of my favorite books on prayer is by Timothy Keller. Prayer – Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Remember when I said last year, I finished few christian living, non-fiction books because they began to beat me over the head with the message and by mid-book, I’d gotten it. Not this book. I checked it out of the library and quickly realized I need to own it, mark it up, and read it again.

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