Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gideon

For the past six weeks I have been co-leading a team at our church women's Bible study.  We have been working through the study called "Gideon: Our Weakness, God's Strength" by Priscilla Shirer.  After 30+ years of knowing the Lord, there is still so much to learn! My grandfather used to say that you should learn something new until the day you die.  He meant it in the context of the Bible, and to be honest, I wondered how he could still be learning after so many years of serving God.  But I finally understand.

There are three short chapters in Judges on Gideon.  You may have read them.  I had.  But I had read PAST them.  I remember thinking "wow, the old testament is violent" and just kept reading.  But the truths embedded in those three chapters have profoundly impacted me.

As a mother, I think we are quick to spot our weaknesses.  One friend told me, "I fail at least ten times  a day at being a great mom." I totally understand what she means.  How sad that we focus on those ten times and not the ten thousand times we support and encourage and love our children.  But God's word reminds us that it is IN those weaknesses that God is able to shine.

Gideon was a coward that was hiding from the enemy.  He questioned God.  He doubted even when an angel appeared to him! Yet the Lord was patient with him and still led him to defeat the Midianites.  He had a mighty calling! The Lord was able to move through Gideon's weakness.

If you are a mom, in the trenches of bringing up godly children, remember this: YOU have a mighty calling.  Do not be lulled into thinking that your calling is any less significant than Gideons.  Priscilla Shirer says that mothers are anything but ordinary.  YOU are extraordinary! You have been called by God to raise your children to love and follow the Lord.  YOU are the single most important influence in the lives of your children at this short time of their lives.

Also remember that even mighty warriors question and doubt and fail.  God is still faithful.

So when your kids "forget" to pick up their stuff, or make messes and don't clean them up, or leave you without toilet paper for the umpteenth time, it's good to remember that we are still a work in progress too.  We aren't finished until we get called home to glory.

Lord help me to raise children that love you, and show grace (but if you could remind them to put their shoes away, I would be even more grateful). :)



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Confessions of a Kindergarten mom: Take three

You would think that on the third time around, I would be a pro.  But let's be honest.  When my first went to kindergarten, I had a potty training two year old and teething 5 month old at home.  I didn't cry.  I was grateful that she was finally getting the stimulation her little brain needed.  It was full day kindergarten but we didn't know any different.  She was my big kid.  So I embraced all the newness of her school adventure.

The second time around, I didn't cry either.  I still had a 3 year old at home, and it was only 3 hours.  Honestly I barely had time to get home, start a load of laundry, and make a snack before we were headed back to the school to pick up my middle little.

This time....I am a hot mess.  Hot.  Mess.  I haven't even taken her to the first day and I get a lumpy throat every time I think about it.  Not her though.  She has been counting down for almost a year.  She has been wearing her owl backpack for almost a week straight.  She's so excited to FINALLY be in school with her sisters.  She reads chapter books and can figure out multiplication.  She is ready.  But me? I'm not ready.  Yes, I have filled out the forms, bought new shoes, and planned for lunches.  But truthfully, I want to hang on to her littleness just a while longer.

Maybe it's because she has been with me every second of every day for over five years.  Maybe it's because she has been my only buddy and my helper for two years.  She has gone everywhere I have gone.  She was with me when I argued about permits at city hall.  She has emptied the dryer and folded clothes for me.  She has sat in every shopping cart of every store I have gone to.  We shared treats that we "didn't tell sisters about" for the last two years.  Maybe it's because she has been the golden age for me.  She's potty trained, buckles herself into her car seat, likes to do things for herself but knows when to ask for help, and she still loves to snuggle.  Maybe it's because her kindergarten is all day. All. Day!

Maybe it's because, for the first time in 10 years, I will be alone.  Each year that I have experienced the first day of school, I have left the campus with someone in tow, holding my hand.  But this year when I leave campus, I will be alone.  It's not that I will miss my sweet baby any more than I have missed my other two, but it's different.  It's the end of an era.  There's an episode of "Friends" where Rachel is moving out of Monica's apartment and they start crying because, "It's the end of an era!"  That's how I feel.  It's the end of an era.  An era of having my babies at home. None of my kids attended preschool.  I figured I could prepare them for school.  And honestly I didn't want to share my precious time with them with anyone else.  I'm not the mom that counts down the days until school starts so I can have a break.  I love when my kids are home.  I love being with them.

With each job I had before I had children, I felt like something was missing.  It wasn't my true calling.  But 2 seconds into being a mom, I knew I had found my purpose.  My purpose isn't changing because my kids are going to all be in school, but it's different.  There's a feeling of "now what?" The girls keep asking "what are you going to do all day?" I jokingly tell them I am going to be at school everyday, all day.  Truthfully, I'm not sure what my day will look like.  But the fact that I have 6 hours without anyone asking for a snack, or working on worksheets, or doing crafts, or playing games....it makes me sad. I will still grocery shop.  I will still do laundry.  I may talk to myself.

Many moms have said this is the best time of life because the girls are still young and with all of them in school I can pursue my own interests.  I can also volunteer at school.  My grocery bill will probably go down because I don't have any little ones with me asking for items not on the list. So, yes.  There's that.  But why am I sad? I think it's because even though it's kindergarten, it's the beginning of letting go.  I'm not sending her to college yet but it's out there.  I can't stop time.  So I'm trying to embrace it.  I know there are good things to come.  Children cannot soar if you always hold their hand.

My prayer is that school will be everything she has hoped it would be.  I know learning will take place, but I pray she also feels valued and smart and amazing.  Because she is.  I pray she gets hugs and high fives and gets to laugh.  I pray she remembers all that we have taught her at home about being a good friend, a good listener, a daughter of God.  I pray that the other kids treat her with kindness (cause if they don't, her two sisters will take them out!).  I pray that she loves school.  I also pray that at the end of the day, she comes home and tells me every single detail of her day.

I pray that as we walk into her classroom tomorrow that she will walk in confidently.  I also pray that as she lets go of my hand, that I will smile and.....let her go.




Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Getting to know our wild neighbors

There are a number of things I love about our charter homeschool, but my favorite are the projects that encourage kids to get out and DO something.  For the month of May our homeschool days were filled with a project associated with a nationwide contest.  You can read about it more at www.get-to-know.org.  This year's theme was "Get to know your wild neighbors."

Reagan decided she wanted to enter the photography portion of the contest.  She isn't a big fan of the outdoors, so we brainstormed about what we could do that she would enjoy photographing.  We settled on Seal Beach down in San Diego.  When we lived down there we used to go more frequently but it had been a while since she had actually visited. It was perfect weather and she captured some amazing shots!

Years ago this beach used to be called "Children's Beach" because it sits in an area of San Diego that is protected from the current and waves.  But, somewhere along the way, seals moved in and made it there home.  For years there was a heated debate about kicking the seals out, or letting them stay.  Even just a few years ago I remember animal rights activists forming a chain across the beach to keep people from harming the seals or forcing them out.  Such drama! Somehow they reached a legal decision to let the seals stay but also allow people to go down onto the beach at their own risk.  Seems to be working for now. :)

She amazes me with her knowledge of animals.  At one point we saw a few sea lions and she went on to tell me how seals are different from sea lions.  I honestly had no idea.  Enjoy her captures!










The next few are sea lions.  Apparently they can use their flippers for much more than seals can!



Hope you can get out and enjoy God's creation too!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where you been?

We're gonna pretend it hasn't been five months since I have written a blog post, mmmkay? ;) It's not that I haven't been writing.  I have been writing every week.  Except it hasn't been for our sweet lil ol' blog.  I've been writing for money (yay!) but not for fun (woh! woh!).  I was offered a job as a freelance writer in December so I've been able to write a few articles a week from home.  The real kicker is that I also bought a business in December.  (What?!!) So life has been a little busy.  But in a good way.

For the past three years I participated in a twice-yearly children's consignment sale in our area.  I was also part of a sale back in Virginia when my biggest little was born.  Loved it then and loved it even more when I had three beauties to clothe.  I grew to love the ladies that were running the sale out here so I was honored and surprised when they asked if I wanted to purchase the business.  Their kiddos were growing up and they felt the Lord calling them to other endeavors.  After praying about it, we decided to go for it!

It has been a roller coaster in every sense of the word! But we just had our first sale in March and it was a success- yay! Our next one is in September so I'm enjoying the reprieve for a few months.  It's more work than I ever imagined, but I definitely feel like I have been preparing for this position for years.  I'm able to continue to stay home with my girls, and contribute to our family finances.  God is so good, isn't he?!! I've been baptized into the world of small business owners and I'm still learning as I go.

It was so fun to see my family pitch in and help in any way they could.  Brian's dad even flew out to help us.  He was our handy-man, personal shopper, and keeper of the kids for us! He even said he would come back in September to help again. Woohoo! My parents were at the store or keeping the girls everyday, and my sweet husband took off work during the four days of the sale (and the day after the sale to move everything to a storage unit).  At the risk of sounding like an Oscar speech, I couldn't have done it without the support of my awesome family and friends.  Who else would stay late to help me scrub floors, arrange toys, put clothing racks together, or bring me coffee? I am blessed indeed.






Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hope for Newtown

I'm still processing the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  I don't know that we'll ever make "sense" of what happened, but there are a few things I do know for sure.  I hurt for the moms that can't hug their babies tonight.  I'm reminded several times a day of the absence they must feel when I look at my girls and imagine if they were taken from me.  This event has rocked a nation.  But, this event is not a political platform.  Although many have tried to make it such.  I've seen numerous posts about Sandy Hook that have nothing to do with the school.  They are filled with a rhetoric of blame and pointing fingers.

Some are blaming God and actually believe that God himself killed those innocent victims as punishment for the world of sin.  If you want to find the real hate in the world, read the comments at the end of news articles.  I've seen things like "Hey Christians, where was your God that day? Where is he now?" I personally believe my God helped teachers lead their classes to safety. I believe my God was guarding the eyes of the children at the school.  I believe my God is holding the families that are left behind to grieve, tight in His grip.  I believe He is cradling 20 first graders in heaven and weeping for a world that has turned from Him.

I've heard people say that gun control is to blame for this massacre.

I've heard people say that he had an autism spectrum disorder that went untreated.

I've heard people say that God has been removed from our public schools, so homeschool is the answer.

I've heard people relate this event to abortion.

They're all wrong.

This tragedy was caused by one thing: evil.

Gun control cannot stop evil.  Only God can.
Treating disorders cannot stop evil.
Homeschooling does not stop evil.  (And I would argue that Jesus goes to public school every day in the hearts of my children and lots of others).

I cannot imagine what it would be like to send my first grader to school and have her not return. But I do know how much joy a first grader brings because I have one.  I can also imagine that no amount of hateful or blaming rhetoric would ever bring her back or bring me solace in my grief.   Only God can do that.

So maybe just this once we can step off the soapbox and get on our knees.

Maybe just this once we can be light in a dark world by showing love.

Maybe just this once we can say "I will pray" and truly mean it.

Maybe just this once we can share HOPE and not blame.

Let your words lead people to the only place of true peace and comfort and a knowledge of an incredible eternity. And then stop there.

"May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you O God" Psalm 19:14

Offer Christ without a caveat.  Because you cannot heal hurt with hate.  Only God can.




Monday, December 10, 2012

Grandpa

Today they will gather and celebrate his life.  They will talk about how wonderful he was and how much he will be missed.  They will use words like "legacy" and "pillar of faith." I know there will be tears, but mostly I hope that there is joy.  When CS Lewis said "We do not have a soul.  We ARE a soul; we have a body" he was right.  Our bodies are just temporary, but our souls are eternal.

I have no doubt that my grandfather is rejoicing in heaven with Jesus (and his parents and brothers and sister and ALL those that have gone before him that he had a part in their salvation).  So we should be rejoicing too. We should rejoice for the time that we were given on earth with him.  We should rejoice that we have memories we can cherish.  We should rejoice that we are part of a heritage of faith.

Someone asked me last week what my favorite memory of my grandfather would be and it was honestly hard to say just one.  I spent my entire childhood less than 30 minutes from my grandparents so we saw them frequently.  He was an integral part of my life, but mostly he was a beacon for my walk with the Lord.  He was an old school pastor that preached with a fire that most pastors don't possess anymore.  He used to say "It's not a sermon until you break a sweat!" :) He took everything to the Lord in prayer.

My grandfather was a man that lived simply.  He never had cable or a cell phone or a computer.  He loved to eat! He would re-use foil and plastic bags.  He didn't spend his money but gladly gave it to those that needed it.  When he laughed, his whole body shook and tears fogged up his glasses.  He always carried a handkerchief and when he blew his nose the neighbors dogs would bark (and small children would go running). :) He wore bifocals but used to put them on top of his head to see things close up.  He had an incredible memory and recited poetry from his childhood.  He said he didn't speak German, but he had a German accent.  He had a library of books and he read every single one.  He had a love of peppermint and believed it to be the cure for almost everything.  I may have inherited that trait.
He was never too busy for anyone.  He never had a negative thing to say.  His Bibles were always falling apart from being read so much.  He spoke directly to the Lord twice a day and didn't rush through it.  He would mention each family member by name and ask for their needs to be met.  He always had a story to tell (I may have inherited that one too).

He loved his family and loved the Lord.  He lived to tell people about the miracle of Jesus, so I rejoice that this Christmas, He gets to be in heaven.  I rejoice that I got to see him in August on our trip to the northwest and hear his voice and laugh again.  I rejoice that eternity is a really long time and we will get to spend it together.

My grandpa Tom Grams
5/21/18-12/5/12



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dwelling

I have always been intrigued by words.  I remember when I was in high school I heard a comedian making fun of the English language.  He said that "laughter" pronounced "laff-ter" means that "daughter" should be pronounced "daff-ter." It really is amazing that people learn to speak English at all. :)

Recently I have seen a word surface in my devotions and in conversations so I have given it some thought.  The word is "dwelling." In a quick dictionary study it's one of those fun words that can be a noun or a verb.  It can mean a place, like a home (dwelling).  It can also mean "to spend time" on something (dwell).

What do you "spend time" thinking about? Is it thankfulness or bitterness? Is it anger or joy? Do you think about how life used to be? Or do you spend time thinking about how good life could be, if only you had ..... (fill in the blank)?

A dwelling, both physical and emotional/spiritual, can also be a place where you feel comfortable.  Where do you feel the most comfortable? Do you feel the most comfortable when you're complaining? Do you feel the most comfortable in thinking about the past or the future? Do you feel most comfortable in the presence of God?

I'm not sure if I'm just getting older, or if I'm just more sensitive to it, but I'm hearing more and more about how much tragedy there is in the world, and how hard the holidays can be.  Two weeks ago marked the one year anniversary of Brian's mom's passing.  A week later, a friend suddenly lost her two year old son.  Our community just brought home a soldier killed in battle in Afghanistan, leaving a wife and 15 month old son.  Our local Christian high school is mourning the loss of a 16 year old boy that one morning just didn't wake up.  There are wars overseas that we know only a fraction of what's going on.  It would be really easy to focus on all that's going wrong.  There are lots of folks that dwell on the negative.  While there are bad things that happen, we have to choose to dwell on our eternal hope.  This world was never meant for us to be content.  It was meant for us to long for more.  The 23rd Psalm tells us that we "walk through the valley of the shadow of death...." It does not say "though we stop and make our dwelling in the valley of the shadow of death." Isaiah 43:18 says "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past." We are supposed to be current thinkers.  Psalm 23:6 says we will "dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  Psalm 4:8 says that "I will lie down in peace for you, oh Lord, make me dwell in safety."

Clearly the Lord has a plan for where we dwell.  My plan might include a beach or lake house and looking forward to retirement.  I might plan for my current dwelling to have some renovations or nicer things, or more land and less neighbors (and barking dogs).

Today, I will choose to dwell on things above and live in the present.  I will make my physical dwelling place (my home) a place of joy and my spiritual dwelling place in the presence of the Lord.


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