Wednesday, September 30, 2009

You Can Fast Forward Childhood, but You Can't Rewind It

This post is from a blog called STUFF CHRISTIANS LIKE that I really like :) I could really relate to this particular post. Right now I want to lock Liam in the basement right around the time he starts caring what other kids think of him. Don't call Family and Children's Services just yet. Jon is trying to loosen me up.

Enjoy...

#629. Raising Dorks
I don't have any hard data on this, but I think that of all the major world religions, Christianity has the highest dork per capita ratio. Did I say that right? Is there a different metric we're using to measure number of dorks that I should have referenced instead? Are we still rolling with the per capita ratio? It's so hard to find good research on this topic.

But think about it, no one ever says, "You know who is cheesy? Muslims." Rarely will you hear someone proclaim, "The Hindus are all uptight." And when Buddhists are stereotyped they're labeled as being "relaxed and peaceful." Christianity though has a lockdown on dork status and you know what?

I love it.

I used to hate it. From the time I was in the seventh grade right up until I became 33 I railed against it. I did everything I could to prove to the world that I was not some cheesy Christian. I distanced myself from Christian culture as fast as I possibly could because it all felt so overwhelmingly dorky. But then something weird happened, something unexpected ... my five year old tried to get into pop culture.

I've got nothing against the particular pop star my daughter suddenly became fascinated with but the transition from “I love the Wiggles” to “the Wiggles are for babies” was ridiculously fast. (In her defense, that Captain Feathersword who the Wiggles run with, scares me to death.) Up until that point I really hoped my daughter would grow up to be a cool kid. I wanted her to be part of the popular crowd at school and be considered hip. But when she started sweating pop stars and other little girls in our area started getting into teenage television shows, I had to pause.

Those things weren't created for a 5 year old. The entertainment she wanted to watch was not written for a girl two years out of diapers. It's got boyfriends and girlfriends and topics that are way out of her understanding as a little kid. And she might love it. She might sing all the songs and have a blast doing it and fit right in with all her friends. But if I encourage her to do that, if I push her toward that, I fast forward her through childhood. I speed her up from a 5 year to a 10 year old. And although I make about 47 dad mistakes a day, I have learned one secret about childhood:

You can fast forward childhood, but you can’t rewind it.

I wish I could but I can't. Childhood only goes one direction and I want her to stay a little kid for as long as she can. There will be plenty of time later for her to think boys are cute and interesting. (Right now I’m pushing for “smelly and cootie laden.”)

Until then though, she's not going to be hip. I'm going to raise a dork. Which is different from naïve, don't misunderstand, she's going to be like Matthew 10:16, shrewd as a snake and innocent as a dove. And if you're making different decisions with your kids, please don't hear this as an attack. I'm new to being a dad, am by no means a pro, don't have all the answers and am really only writing about the two kids with my last name. Who will be dorks.

I hope I don't help create one of these sheltered Christian girls that just goes insane when they get to college, but I promise you that I'm going to do everything I can to keep my kids young, out of the loop as far as the world goes and maybe even dorky. And when my oldest daughter yells at me when she's 13 because she can't go to a party with a bunch of boys, who I know are going to try to kiss her, I'll show her this post. And she's going to yell some more, but at least I'll kind of look like I predicted the future, which is fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 18, 2009

Things I'm WANTING Lately...

This episode of "Things I'm Loving Lately" has been slightly altered as I can't keep my mind of this beautiful contraption I saw sitting on my Aunt Cindy's countertop:

THE KEURIG PLATINUM!


I know what your thinking - "Haven't you ever heard of a one cup coffee maker?" Yes, fancy pants, I have. But, I am not a super crazy coffee drinker. I like to have a cup or two every once in a while, but I'm not the kind of person that goes postal if I don't get my fix by 8am every morning. And, on top of that, when I do usually drink it I prefer decaf. Too much caffeine is no good for me. Trust me. My legs end up looking like a blurry whirlwind in a cloud of dust. Kind of like the roadrunner. Anywho, my hubby doesn't drink coffee at all. Well, low and behold, this little wonder had fair trade, organic, decaf K-Cups (what the individual filters of coffee are called), pumpkin spice K-Cups, tea K-Cups (including chai - yum), and even hot chocolate K-Cups! Mark my words. I'm gonna get me one of these if it's the last thing I do... Now how to convince the hubz...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Sale!!!!

I know I've been an absolutely atrocious blogger. Don't even start. Just admire my use of alliteration instead :)

I have many, many crafty and creative friends and one of them is holding a sale today at her etsy store! Her name is Jenny and her shop is called Liberty and Lace. She makes the cutest hair pieces for girls of all ages. My fave is this one:


(Lois and Clark)

I have it. She even named it after my husband's favorite superhero :)

I also really love these too.


(Marianne and Colonel Brandon)


(Margaret and Mr. Thornton)

And if I had a daughter, you better believe she'd be sportin' one of these!


(Kate and Jack)

And for all you hairband and bow head fanatics out there (yes, I'm talking to you), there is something for you too :)

I am not an accessory kind of person. I'm lucky to remember my wedding ring. But these little pieces are so lovely and sweet, you just have to get one. Oh, and by the way, the sale is BUY ONE GET ONE FREE so you can get two!!!

Click here for more details. Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Things I'm Loving Lately

Sooooooo, I stole this idea from some friends. (Because I'm dreadfully unoriginal.) Every once in a while I will let you guys know what I am loving at that particular point in time. Hey, you never know. Maybe you'll love it too!



Theo Chocolate



One word....



yum! These people make chocolate the way a good vintner makes wine. It's serious.


And on top of that, they are doing something good!


At Theo Chocolate, we are changing the definition of “quality” by uniting creative excellence that results in deliciously award-winning chocolate with our unwavering commitment to changing the way the cocoa industry conducts business. At Theo, we believe there is no luxury in products that benefit us today, while jeopardizing future generations ability to meet their needs. When you taste our chocolate you will experience our passion and integrity in every luscious bite. We promise, there is something for everyone from the adventurous “foodie”, to those seeking the simple comfort of a delectably creamy milk chocolate bar.

We follow our passion for excellence to bring you chocolate that will delight your palate, ignite your imagination and inspire you to think and act sustainably! Be a part of our movement to save our planet and its capacity to nurture and sustain all living things. We can’t do it without you!

THEO CHOCOLATE
BECAUSE CHOCOLATE GROWS ON TREES

No additives, no preservatives, no artificial flavors, higher percentage of cacao, sustainable farming, fair trade beans, local US factory! Ummmmm.......guilt free chocolate on all accounts??? Yes please! Oh, did I mention how pretty it all is?






Jon and I took their factory tour in Seattle and you can learn more about them at www.theochocolate.com. Not only did I find the job of my dreams (a tour guide for an all organic and fair trade chocolate factory....holla!) I also tasted the chocolate....and I think I'm in love :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I miss this...



and this...



but not as much as I missed THIS!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Andy Walks with Me...

We are on vacation with my family right now in sunny Santa Rosa Beach, FL (aka. heaven). As is typical with most family vacations, some slightly unusual and hilarious games, contests, etc... take place in our free time. When you are traveling with a small child who has to nap for 3 hrs a day and goes to bed fairly early, the free time is more abundant than usual so, therefore, things seem to get even more bizzaro than usual. Tonight we all engaged in a hand whistle contest inspired by Sara Evans' performance of God Bless America at the All Star Baseball Game. This contest lead to a YouTube search where we found these beauties....enjoy!





If this guy would have participated in our contest I would have a) asked him to pull his pants up a little more and b) had my butt kicked in hand whistling....fo sho.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

See This Movie!



I can't wait until this comes out. Whether or not you will agree or disagree, you should watch it. It's worth it to know both sides of the issues that plague this country.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Learning Curve



I have written this post a number of times and then scrapped it. It was either too long or too short or too pathetic or too vulnerable or too...you get the picture... So, here goes the version that I chose:

I have set a lot of personal goals this year. As I have said many times before, Liam has changed my life. He makes me want to be a better person. End of story. I think this season of life - motherhood, new found "adulthood", being out of the professional rate race, etc... - has mandated several changes as well. I have been craving and striving for simplicity, but I also have the type of personality that beckons me to make LONG lists, volunteer for everything and strive for unattainable standards. Herein lies the struggle that has marked a large portion of my life. For my teen and young adult years I joined every club, engaged in every hobby, had friends in every clique, took every class, and went on every trip. I kept my phyisical life (clothes, hair, makeup, etc...) simple so that I could shoot for the moon everywhere else. What I didn't realize is that I was also keeping my relationships and commitments simple....a little too simple....like "do you have any real friends or just a lot of surface friends?" kind of simple. Like "are you really a Young Life leader or do you just show up for Club and Campaigners twice a week?" kind of simple. This just left me lonely and empty. So much going on with nothing REALLY going on. In response (or rebellion...I haven't firmly decided), I tried the "do nothing" theory for the next few years. I just did the basics, work/school, clean, cook, errands, blah... I had one friend: Jon. I mean, I had "friends," but I really only had ONE friend, capiche? I didn't commit myself to any hobbies or any groups or any studies. Nothing. Boring. Lonely. Empty. Same boat. So, what did I learn? Nothing. So, what did I do? Started over. Slowly I added things...Bible studies, leadership roles, friendships, a baby, hobbies, jobs.... Aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! And so the cycle continues.

These first several month of 2009 the Lord has slowly been revealing to me His Spirit, His purpose, His desire for the way I will live my life. It has everything to do with Him and not so much to do with me. I guess that's what has been wrong all this time (uh...hello...). God does not have a spirit of chaos. He does not have a spirit of calamity. He has one of peace. Peace does not mean boredom or apathy or laziness. This peace actually leads to fulfillment.

This week I feel I have finally found a way to verbalized what He has been trying to teach me. I cry MARANATHA! May the Lord cometh! May he come and save me. May HE come and save me from MYSELF! I don't need to put so much effort into it that it is ME who is doing everything, leaving little to no room for HIM!

Lord, wage war on our pride and need for control. Humble us so that you can do your mighty work in us and through us!

In the words of the Shaker Elder Joseph Brakcett:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.


I am becoming Amish....

Just kidding :)

Quaker.

No really....Menanite....

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Free Stuff!!!

Well, sort of. In case y'all missed the comment on my last post, Woodsman toys has offered to give free tax and shipping on any order from their site if you say you found out about them on TMM! Read below:

Wow, what kind words. I would like to thank you so much for noticing what it means to be hand made with loving care. We take great pride in our creations and have been green and lead-free for 23 years. I would like to offer everyone who visits this wonderful site Thoroughly Modern Momma a special offer so their precious little ones can experience the pleasure of a handmade wooden toy. Simply say you found us on TMM in the message box on our order-form and we will pay the shipping and the sales tax. Please allow 1-2 weeks for delivery and be ready to pack up all of your child's other toys! They won't be needed. And if anyone would like to place us on their gift registry I will be happy to extend the same offer.

With Warmest Regards,
Doug Gold
The Woodsman
www.thewoodsmantoys.com


Yippee Skippee! I just love stuff like this :)

We have been super busy around here, so I haven't done much blogging lately. I have a couple of things I've been mulling over that I need to type out, so I'll be back soon!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Woodsmen Toys

Love these! I hope to be getting some soon. Check them out

http://www.thewoodsmantoys.com/





They are a little pricey, but too darling to resist. They have stuff for girls too! I can just see Liam having a blast with these and I wouldn't have to cringe every time he put one in his mouth worrying about lead paint and other toxins. Hooray!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Mediterranean Rice

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago I asked for some recipes. Thanks to all of you who commented or emailed! I have tons of stuff to try and it all sounds so yummy! I tried a couple of recipes and forgot to take pictures (oops!) so this is my first documented dinner. I will try to re-do the others with pictures soon!

This recipe is from my Aunt Beth and I am seriously obsessed with it right now. I am actually snacking on the leftovers as I type...hehehehe. I am not big on pork or red meat and Jon despises all shellfish, so we eat a lot of poultry around these parts. A lot of time it's just plain old grilled chicken off the George Foreman....boooooring. This side dish is the perfect thing to add exciting flavor to a meal like that. Here goes:



Mediterranean Rice:

1 box long grain and wild rice (with seasoning mix)
1 12 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
12 green olives with pimentos, slice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 green pepper
4-5 green onions (to taste)

Cook the rice according to box directions minus the butter and/or oil. Drain the artichoke hearts, reserving the liquid, and chop to desired size. Add artichokes and olives to rice. Chop peppers and onions to desired consistency and also add to rice. Whisk together mayo and reserved liquid from artichokes. Add to rice mixture and chill. Serves 4-6.

***TMM version - Jon will not bite into a chunk of pepper or onion. Period. Neither one of us hate onion, but we don't LOVE it either. I only used 1/4 green pepper and 1 green onion. I grated the pepper and the white part of the onion on a microplane. That way we still got the flavor. Then I thinly sliced the green part of the onion because it was easier and prettier :) I may add a little more green pepper next time. I decided to try and serve the dish warm because I didn't have time to chill it before dinner. It was just as delicious! The dressing sets up more when it is chilled, so you may want to add less of the artichoke juice if you are going to serve it warm.***



My aunt said that the lady she got the recipe from is middle eastern and adds curry powder to taste. If you are a fan of this kind of cuisine it may be a good thing to add. I served this rice with baked lemon chicken (chicken breast, salt, pepper, garlic powder, lemon juice) and a bag of publix caesar salad. I think it would also bee god with fish, too. If you don't like olives or marinated artichokes or anything with a "vinegary" flavor, then you will not like this dish. I happen to LOVE these things, so it was perfect! My husband is super picky and even he liked it. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What's for dinner?

I don't know. That's the problem. I am so tired of my old cycle of chili, spaghetti, chicken casserole, tacos, etc... I need some fresh new ideas. So, I thought I'd ask you guys, my friends! Do you have any scrumptious recipes that you think I should add to my repertoire? If so, either post them in the comments or email them to me and I will repost my faves so that everyone can try!

Here's my first recipe. It's not technically a "meal", although I could make one out of it. Here is my friend Melissa's recipe for Easy No-Knead Bread. It is sooooo delicious. Per her recommendation, we ate it with dinner. Then put butter and sugar and cinnamon on slices the next morning and popped them in the toaster oven for some ridiculous cinnamon toast! Enjoy and let me know if you have any questions!



Combine and set aside:
2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 T. salt
2 pkgs. dry yeast (1/4 oz. each)

Heat until warm:
1 c. water
1 c. milk
1/4 c. vegetable oil

Have on hand:
1 egg
2 to 2 1/2 c. flour
butter

Mix egg with liquids, then stir all into flour mixture. Blend at lowest speed on mixer, then blend on medium for 3 minutes. By hand stir in another 2 to 2 1/2 c. flour. Cover, let rise 50 minutes until light and doubled in size. Stir down. Spoon into greased 6" x 9" loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Brush top with butter.

I will tell you that this recipe requires a loaf pan larger than the one I got as a wedding gift in the pyrex set of glass dishes. If this is all you have, just fill the pan about 2/3-3/4 full of dough and discard the rest or try to make rolls out of it or something. Also, when my friend Melissa made it, it was raining outside so at the part where it says to mix in another 2 - 2 1/2 cups of flour, she had to had more to get it to the right consistency. The dough should just be pulling away from the sides of the pan.

This bread is G.O.O.D. Bon Apetite!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Tree



“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”

God spoke to me through a tree this week. I'll tell you how:



This is my patio peach tree. Jon and I bought it last summer because our "backyard" - the size of a postage stamp - was looking dull and dreary. Our dogs had killed all the grass in it, so we replaced it with pinestraw and outlined the patio with brick. It looked nice, it was just really....brown. Well, this poor tree was not very well taken care of. We were in and out of town a lot and it started losing its leaves a little early. I tried to revive it, but fall was in full swing. So, I wasn't sure if it had been revived and was just losing its leaves because it was fall, or if they were falling off because the tree was dying.

Assuming it was too far gone, I neglected it most of the fall and all winter....not watering it once. I figured people that came to our house would just think this was its "winter look" and in the spring I would purchase a new one with leaves and try again. Well, low and behold, this past week we noticed some red buds on the darn thing. And by this weekend, voila! I'm usually not a huge fan of pink, but seriously....how could you not love this tree! It is beautiful! The color! The bunches of blooms! I can't even believe my eyes!



This tree is a perfect example of how God and I work together. I take control of things until I can't figure it out or life wrecks it and then I leave them for dead. After I've released my white knuckle grip, God works undercover to create beautiful things that inspire glory and wonder. He reveals them to me only at the right time - when their color and fragrance are at their peak. Then FINALLY I step back and worship. Finally I see what He was doing all along, despite my attempts to control and eventually kill it. Finally I give Him the glory He deserves.

I sing this song to Liam every night. I started doing it because I wanted to pray these sweet words over him every night, but I have found that it is mostly myself who is blessed by their message:

Great is thy faithfulness
Oh, God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not
Thy compassions, they fail not
How thou hast been, thou forever will be.

Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed
Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

The days are long... But, Hallelujah! In the morning, the mercies are new!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Boy Don't Try to Front

I know JUST what you are...



I wash my hands of you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In a Nutshell...

This is what I've been trying to say all along. I feel like this guy lives in my brain and has gathered so many of my thoughts and expressed them concisely and rather humorously, at that.



Amen, brother....amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sorry :(



I'm in a blogging slump. I feel like I have a bajillion thoughts...things I could write about. Things I would LIKE to write about, even. But, when I start typing my brain does this thing where it splits off in so many different directions that I can't keep track of any of my thoughts. And then I start reading what I typed and it sounds scattered and silly and just...not good. See. I can't even get out a decent thought. I have no idea why. Well...I kind of know why. I think it might be because I have so much swirling around in my head. And I can't separate the thoughts into concise entries. So either I write a post that will take you 5 hours to read or I don't feel like I do any of my thoughts justice.

Life is not bad. But it is challenging. And I am learning and growing and being stretched and I can't put words on it. I try to, but they don't stick. They just fall off into a pile. And when I try to scoop them back up and arrange them, all I end up with is a jumbled mess. It's kind of like those magnetic word thingys that people have on their refrigerator. I want to say what I want to say and all I end up with is "BRIDGE...I LOVE MUSIC...DISCOVER...GROWL..."

Just now I read this post. And it stunk...like dung. Sorry about that. Once I can pull myself together (man) I'll let you know. Until then, I apologize for the silence. Or maybe I don't, seeing as what you would have to endure if I continued typing. (Scene fades with "The Sound of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel)

Picture by ~[Northeast Photography]~

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Bakers



The Bakers are old college friends that I lost touch with after we graduated. Sadly they lost their precious baby girl just days ago. While we are not close, I grieve with them nonetheless - as a mother, as a friend, as a sister in Christ. Please keep this sweet family in your prayers. Their blog is www.thebenjamites.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kids on Drugs

This kid David just had a tooth pulled at the dentist. He got a little gas for the procedure...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Novel Approach to Character - part deux

First of all, I love saying "part deux." Second of all....

Compassion

Definition: Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes; feeling what God feels towards their plight

QUOTE: How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. George Washington Carver

When our oldest daughter, Bethany, was little, we lived overseas. Daily, she mingled with refugees from Eastern Europe and heard their heart-breaking stories. Periodically, she would travel with us in Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and East Germany, and would see, firsthand, the poverty of the people there.

As a result, we had a hard time keeping any of the toys sent by grandma back in states, because she wanted Daddy to give them away on his trips. She baked cookies to give to “the children who don’t have any.” She carefully clutched bananas to carry on a train trip to Budapest, to hand to missionary children there, where bananas were not to be had.

To this day, her heart is turned towards the poor and suffering. She’s traveled several times into remote regions of Mexico on mercy trips. Her college degree is geared towards one day helping such people again.

When we stay in our enclaves of comfortable environments with people of similar economic, intellectual and/or physical means, we do our children a disservice. Like all of us, our children’s hearts will be moved to compassion more when the nameless faceless people on the nightly news become real people known to them.

Compassion, of course, applies to more than the needy. It starts by understanding the feelings and hurts of a brother, the struggle to conquer math skills in a sister (when such things come more easily to you) or thinking about the hurt and loneliness of an out-of-town grandma who just had an operation. It grows to imagining ourselves in the place of the family who just lost a Dad to cancer and encompasses the lost and deceived people around us who do not have the sure hope we have as Christians.


PICTURE BOOKS: (FAR from an all encompassing list!)

Andy and the Lion by James Daughtery Andy takes a thorn out of a lion’s paw and his compassion is later rewarded.

Crow Boy by Taro Yashima Set in a small, rural Japanese community, Chibi is an outcast at school because he is different from the other children. Eventually, his uniqueness is discovered and appreciated. Caldecott Award

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss Horton the elephant discovers a whole new world on a speck of dust and ,despite ridicule from other animals, saves his microscopic friends and works to gain them respect, because , in the familiar refrain of the tale. “A persons a person, no matter how small.”

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister A beautiful fish won't give away any of his sparkling scales because they make him more beautiful than any other fish. He's too arrogant to play with the ordinary fish and when he refuses to share they decide they want nothing to do with him. All alone, he is faced with a choice about riches and friendship.

Ruff by Jane Hissey. 1994 Random House . Ruff, a stuffed dog, is abandoned but his new friends welcome him into their circle, and give him a birthday party and his name.


CHAPTER BOOKS

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White– A spider, Charlotte, devotedly works to saves her pig friend, Wilbur, from certain death.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott Though the story takes place during wartime, and money is tight, Marmee exhibits an unselfish compassion towards the poor around her, and her daughters learn this trait from her example. One chapter tells the touching story of the girls packing up their special Christmas breakfast, contenting themselves with bread and milk, and bringing it to a poor immigrant family living in great need. The satisfaction this act of compassion brings to the girls is clear.
Note: Other character qualities: The girls recognize their weaknesses and work to improve, which is inspiring in itself. Each has her own particular struggles against, for example, vanity, contentment, and pride. Family love helps each through troubles and tragedy. Duty to their family and to society must sometimes take precedence over personal desires.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Too Much




Jon and I went to one of the most amazing marriage retreats last week. It was sponsored by Porter's Call here in the Nashville area (Franklin to be exact) and they brought in Dan Allender who brought a staggering perspective on gender, marriage, family and humanity in general. If you ever have a chance to go to his Intimate Marriage conference (I think it's coming to Birmingham in early February) or read his book by the same name, definitely do it. (I think he also has a curriculum for small group study which would be really interesting to do as well.)

There were many life changing things that I took from Dan's conference, but there is one thing he said that really struck me. He was talking about the original fall in Genesis and how God's punishment for women was/is pain in childbirth and our husbands' rule over us. He went past the surface explanation for these things and dug to a deeper meaning based on literal translation. I can't remember the exact points he gave due to my poor note taking skills, but essentially these two curses have to do with relationship. Women at their core have been plagued with loneliness. We will be plagued by the nurturing and maintenance of relationship and will be deeply pained by the sin that will eventually corrupt every relationship we have, to some degree. One of the problems we have, especially in relation to our husbands, is the insecurity of being too much. We are too emotional, too insecure, too passionate, too talkative, too analytical, too worrisome, too fat, too skinny, too needy, too lonely... I can totally relate to this - not just in relationship to Jon, but to everyone. Sure, not everyone is going to like me, but the idea that I - one whom God knit together beautifully and wonderfully - am too much for the world to handle is a lie from satan that is designed to keep me from being all that I was intended to be, limiting the impact that I can have for the Kingdom of Heaven. I am bothered by this very thing as I am typing. Is this post too much? Are people going to be put off by me because I am too insecure or too open or too...fill in the blank...

I know that this is something that will never go away because I am not perfect and neither are you and we are living day in and day out in this world together, in relationship with one another. Even in the inevitability of that last sentence, I can't tell you the freedom that Dan's insight has given me. I have shared what I've learned with just a couple of friends and the response has been astounding. These women REALLY do struggle with this. It isn't just me. It isn't just the women Dan Allender has counseled. We are all worried that we are not fit for true, unbridled, vulnerable, rich and meaningful relationships with people on this Earth. This oftentimes translates to our relationship with God. We hold back. We don't ask people over or to lunch or coffee because we're scared of what they think or how they would respond or whether or not they would come. We worry about whether or not someone likes us or why they didn't invite us to their party. If they do invite us or come over, we wonder if they really did it because they wanted to spend time with us or if they just did it because they felt obligated or had an ulterior motive. When don't fully confess our sins to the Father and we do not dare to reveal to Him the desires of our heart. We think we are too much.

Part of my goals for 2009 include allowing God to free me of this - allowing Him to break free the bondage of insecurity and paranoia - allowing Him to open me up to true fellowship and, in turn, be a real friend who really loves. The Bible not only speaks of the agony of relationship, but the inexplicable joy that we can have in relationship with others and, most notably, with Him. I am fully aware there are going to be awkward moments, painful conversations, tears and heartache. In reality, this is true regardless of whether I change or say the same. Why don't I take the path that results in deeper more meaningful communion? The catty, gossipy, critical aroma of the evil one himself that has lingered in most of our lives since middle school has lingered much too long.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Novel Approach to Character - part 1



In this post I talked about a great lady named Derri Smith who bestows her vast knowledge and wisdom on child rearing upon our intimidated and exhausted group of "new moms" at church. Every so often she sends us an email with a list of books which have been "pre-approved" by her as quality and effective tools for teaching our children how to be people of good character. She has even been so gracious (and wise!) as to suggest books even for us adults! As I promised, I will be sharing what I learn with you. Here is her first installment:

Gratitude

Have you known (or been) a person who sees the negative in every situation, and who complains about all that is not as it should be? Or the type who take the kindnesses and service of others as their due, with little notice or expression of gratefulness? Does such a person spread joy, encourage or bring out the best in others? Do they reflect God? You are likely nodding your head, “no.”

A grateful heart habitually focuses on blessings rather than the problems, irritations and things that don’t suit it – the things that are a part of everyone’s life.

A grateful family is thankful for much in the midst of hard times. Grateful people have a habit of noticing the little things done for them by friends and family and expressing their genuine appreciation. They notice the many gifts God has placed in their homes and lives and in the world around them, and they launch mental bouquets to Him in thanks. Such people know a contentment and joy that an ungrateful person never can, no matter the circumstances, and they spread that joy to those around them.

At its core, contentment – and the joy that springs from it – is a matter of trusting God. When we trust that God is at work and that, despite our failures and the obstacles in the road, He is accomplishing His purpose in our lives and those around us, we can be content. Discontent raises its ugly head when things are not going as WE think they should or would prefer or when we feel life is out of control … OUR control.

As parents, we need to nurture in our children an “attitude of gratitude”. They need to see that someone took time to purchase and wrap a gift for them. Children should develop the habit of speaking and writing their thanks. They need to understand that meals do not magically appear on the table and that money doesn’t just refill automatically in the ATM; someone works hard to provide for their family. Resources for school, trips to the zoo, the vet or music lessons all require parental sacrifice. Therefore, a “thank-you” is in order when a child benefits from these blessings. By working this awareness into the warp and woof of our lives, we raise children who see the service of others not as their due but as a privilege.

Everyone has problems; they are a part of life. The fork in the road comes when we decide to focus on our many blessings, rather on our problems.


Verses:
“Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Philippians 2:14
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thessalonians 5:18


Picture Books:
Note: All picture books are unpaginated unless otherwise noted.

Happy Father’s Day by Steve Kroll, illustrated by Marylyn Hapner, 1988, Holiday House, ISBN 0-8234-0671-7. Six children and Mom plan a Father’s Day filled with loving surprises for Dad; they do his chores, make homemade gifts and plan a special treat. Throughout the day, Dad expresses his gratitude for the gifts. Other character qualities include love, resourcefulness.

Petunia Beware by Roger Duvoisin, 1958, Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 0-394-90867-8. Petunia the Goose is never satisfied. She eats from her friend’s food because it looks better than her own. She always thinks the grass on the other side of the fence looks wonderful, so, despite warnings about wild animals, she walks out into the meadow beyond the farmyard. The grass is the same old grass, and eventually even drier than that in her farmyard, but Petunia keeps going further, sure that she will find grass better than what she is used to. She narrowly escapes a weasel, bobcat, raccoon and fox, is rescued by the farm dog, and upon her return declares that the grass at home is the best she has ever tasted.

The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza, 1987, G.P, Putnam’s Sons, ISBN 0-399-21400-3. Even a hungry wolf, set upon fattening a chicken and eating her in a stew, is softened and won over by the gratefulness that is expressed by the hen’s 100 baby chicks for the food he left.


Chapter Book:
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder 352 pps. Reading level: ages 9-12 Harper Collins Seventh in the award winning classic series based on the author’s life, this book tells the story of Pa, Ma, Laura, Mary, Carrie, and little Grace bravely facing the hard winter of 1880-81 in their little house in the Dakota Territory. Blizzards cover the little town with snow, cutting off all supplies from the outside. Christmas is lean that year, though Laura manages to make a small gift for everyone in the family. A great read-aloud that is sure to generate thankfulness for your family’s many blessings, including food, heat… and Christmas presents.

For Teens and Adults

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom In the midst of the horrors of a concentration camp, Corrie struggles to "thankful in all things." With effort, she even thanked God for the irritating fleas in her sleeping quarters. Later she discovered that the guards stayed away because of the fleas, enabling her, and others, to have Bible studies.


I can't wait to get started! I'm not sure if little boys ever like Laura Ingalls Wilder books, but I know I always did. I could definitely learn a thing or two about gratefulness. Our family has been so blessed. We may not have the biggest house in the neighborhood...we may not live in the best part of town...we may have just returned our cable box and tivo (lord help me) so we can cut down on expenses...but we have food and shelter and heat and each other and a God who loves us and has sacrificed for us beyond comprehension. Awe and gratitude. Awe and gratitude.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

2009 is crazy

I have had the craziest couple of weeks, but it has been amazing. At the risk of sounding dramatic, outlandish, and possibly certifiable, these past several days have been supernatural, shaking me to the core, and nothing short of life changing. One of those experiences where nothing can remain as it was. 2008 was a blur....lost in a fog if you will. I have been praying for clarity and clarity is coming, my friends. It is refreshing and outright staggering at the same time. I am scared and I am hopeful. I shudder at the thought of the overhaul that the Holy Spirit is doing in my life, but at the same time I refuse to remain the same. I don't want to leave you hanging, but If I even began to tell you the story right here, right now, I would be typing for days. It is sure to reveal itself in the story of my every day life because that's how God works. As the lessons I am learning are applied, I will be sure to tell you about them. Right now I'm just going to sit in awe and be grateful. That's a lesson in and of itself. Another post for another day....
 
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