Sunday, December 30, 2012

The road ahead


 

The world says success is the attainment of popularity or profit.  But when I look through a global lens, it deeply alters my view.  I don't want my goal to be a fat bank account. I don't want my kids to be on the path of so many, vying for popularity and more stuff.  I want to see things with a different view.  It's not easy.  But most good things aren't.

It's even harder to be a kid these days when society demands that their No. 1 goal be to fit in.  But what if they don't?  The world tells us to do, go, spend whatever it takes to make it happen.  What if that doesn't even work?

"But success in God's upside-down economy is supposed to look different.  It's becoming less, so He can be more.  It's putting yourself second, others first.  It's letting your kids ask hard questions that teach you more about Jesus."

In God's eyes, success is never measured by a dollar amount.  Or how many days we spend at the ball field.   Or how many cookies we bake for our son's classroom.  Or how many hours we spend volunteering.  It's not measured by how big our house is or the size of our Christmas presents we give.  Success is not held in our job title or whether or not we could 'run the place'.  We don't succeed or fail as a parent based on how popular our children are or what kind of vehicle we can buy for them.  Or how many statistics they prove wrong because of OUR awesome parenting skills.  And even as wrong as some may think it sounds, success is not found in how wonderful they turn out to be based on what fantastic job we did as parents.  There are parents who do 'everything right' and their children grow up to be wayward.  And there are parents who do nothing right and their children grow up to be outstanding citizens who love the Lord.  Only by God's grace do any of us become anything more than trash. 

And most importantly, success is not measured by what other's think of us.  As women we stuggle so much for the approval of others.  And then as we become a mother the pressure only doubles.  We believe we are inadequate if we can't create all the masterpieces we pin on pinterst.  Or have the latest greatest in home decor.  Or cook a 7 course meal for our family every night.  Or dress our children in the finest while we ourselves are runway ready.  And some of us will have those pressures coming from those very close to us.  We will be compared to the girl next door.  To the sister-in-law that's won "Mother of the Year", "Cook of the Century", and "Daughter of the World" for 5 years running.  To the mom in the pick-up line driving the hottest new ride with her size 2 skinny jeans.  To the one who wins all the blue ribbons for her "pinterst worthy" crafts.  And the list could go on forever.

But thankfully God doesn't give a hoot about any one of those things.  Sure, most of them are good and they count.  But in His eyes, the ONLY thing that really matters is simply how much we love Him.  How much time we spend with Him and how much effort we put into teaching our children about His love.  How we demonstrate that same love to them and live out our lives as real examples for them to follow.  It's all about the values we instill in them.  And the time we put into molding them into His own image.  How much time we spend telling others about His love and mercy.  It's stopping to think about what really matters and dwelling on the truths of God's Word.

As the New Year approaches, I'm doing what many of you do, thinking about what my New Year's 'resolution'(s) will be.  What will I strive to improve this year?  What will I set as my goals in the New Year?

I pray that I will search out God's will.  That He will 'direct my paths'. {Prov. 3:5,6}  I pray my 'thoughts will be of things above and not on things of this world.' {I John 2:15, 17} I want to love my children and husband with a 'fervent love, for love covers a multitude of sins.' {I Pet. 4:8} I pray I will learn 'to be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath. {James 1:19}  I want to 'do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.' {Micah 6:8}

My deepest desire is to allow God to mold me into the creature he has created me to be.  And in turn, help mold and shape my children into His 'perfect' creation.  'Perfect' not as in "without fault", but perfect as in 'entire {complete}, wanting nothing. {James 1:4}  I know I will make mistakes, I will mess up big, and I will just plain fail in some areas.  But I also know that 'God's grace is sufficient.' {II Cor. 12:9}

As we close the chapter on 2012, and look into the face of new possibilites ahead, what will your goals be? Will you work hard this year to be more successful?  If so, what defines success for you?




Blessings,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stand against the roaring lion




I saw this video on another blog.  The blogger posed the question, "do I trust in the "glass" enough to stand strong when the lion stops to stare me down?" 

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: ~ 1 Peter 5:8

Knowing in the year to come, there will be blessings, but most definitely there will be trials as well, am I brave enough to stare down the lion as little Sophia did?  Do I have enough faith in my Creator to know that He is control of all things and loves me with an unending love?

My prayer this coming New Year is that I will be strong enough to stand. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

From our family to yours....

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Come Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel's strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
Born Thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a King
Born to reign in us forever
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring
By Thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By Thine all sufficient merit
Raise us to Thy glorious throne

 
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Merry Christmas!
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Home Tour

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My all-time favorite part of Christmas is the soft glow of the lights.  It brings a certain peace to my heart.  I am totally guilty of staying up way too late during this time because I just don't want to leave the peacefulness. 

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Right after we got married I saw a big nativity scene that I liked.  While I still have not gotten it,  I did find this small set that I thought worked perfectly for the kids.  They have rearranged it about 738 times so far and I like that.  They discuss {and occasionally argue} about the different characters. They love to ask me questions about the "story" behind it and I figure that's better than having one that is way too expensive to touch.  Maybe one day I'll get that one too.

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I have such a clutter-phobia that I am a very simple Christmas decorator.  I like for things to be decorated but to also be clean and organized.  Some would say I am a bit of a scrooge because of it, but for me, less is more.

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With all of the 'new' decorating styles leaning towards non-traditional colors such as aqua, pink and white I just can't get away from the traditional red.  I use red in my home all year round so it fits in well with my other decor and that makes life easy.
 

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I do love to use fresh greenery and the smell is a nice bonus.

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We never know where Wyndell might show up.

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I've never had a hot chocolate bar in years past, but I'm so glad I do this year.  At least one cup is drank every single day, and most days many more than that!  Even the little ones think it's pretty fun.

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Nothing is better than lots of sunlight, Mason jars, candles and tin buckets. 

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The kids both have a simple little tree in their room.  Again, love the soft glow.

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I always love to see how others of you decorate your home for Christmas.  Let's be honest, I love to see how others decorate their homes year-round! 
 
I pray blessings to you and yours as we celebrate the greatest gift ever given. I often try to envision what that night was like when Mary gave birth to Jesus under that star-filled sky.  How she must have felt to be chosen to birth the Son of God.  Unimaginable! 
 
May we bless someone this season with an extra little dose of the love of Jesus.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 14, 2012

For fellow Christmas-bearers


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The list gets longer, the time gets shorter and you are responsible for it all coming together.  Sound familiar? 

Late one night as I sat in the living room all alone looking at the soft lights flicker {which is possibly my favorite part of the Christmas season} and thinking of all the things that needed to be done before the big day, I felt totally overwhelmed.  That seems to happen to me every year around this time.  And every year I wonder why in the world I let it get to me.  Why don't I just keep it simple {and actually keep it simple} and then call it quits and enjoy the real reason for the season?

Then, I usually add to the drama by getting really frustrated with my husband because I realize that I pretty much carry the weight of making it all happen.  I remember back when we first started dating, I'd go to his house and the kitchen table would be full of Christmas presents.  He would come up with an idea for each person and then actually do the shopping.  All. on. his. own.

But then it happened.  He got a wife.

I read something that has given me a completely different perspective.

I realize the burden I carry during this season is intensified by my own idea of how things must be.  Perfect tree, perfect lights, perfectly wrapped presents, and a perfectly clean house in the midst of it all.  Not to mention the desire to be so sure our children know and understand the real meaning of Christmas and still enjoy the excitement of Santa and all the gifts.  What should we tell them?  What should we not tell them?  Should we even 'do' Santa?  How can we be sure to teach that Christmas is about Jesus and giving and not about gifts and getting?  I torture myself wanting to be sure we do it all right!

So as I was busily working on more get-it-just-right nonsense the other day, I stopped to take a breather.  I sat down to read and this is what I came across....

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:26-38


From the very beginning, women have been the bearers of Christmas!  So, fellow-bearers, consider yourselves in very good company!
{Taken from Encouraging Beautiful Motherhood}

If I decorate my house perfectly with lovely plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family - I'm just another cook.
 
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family - it profits me nothing.
 
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not focus on Christ - I have missed the point.
 
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
 
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
 
Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
 
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
 
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
 
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love never fails.
 
Video games will break; pearl necklaces will be lost; golf clubs will rust.
But giving the gift of love will endure.
~Sharon Jaynes

May God give you grace to accept the imperfections and the strength to carry on!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The good, the bad, and the really ugly

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I'm not a fan of 'airing your dirty laundry' but I am a fan of living an authentic life.  And I do think there is a fine line between the two.  As I've said so many times, blogging has been such a blessing to me.  God has used other blogs to teach me and encourage me on numerous occasions.  And I know that my blog is really nothing to so many and that's okay with me.  I enjoy writing.  It gives me a sort of peace.  Like journaling.  And if just one person can be touched as much as I have been blessed, it's worth it all.

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I have had a few really big, more like huge, wake-up calls lately.  Actually I know it was more like a word from the Lord instead of just a 'wake-up call'.  And here is where that fine line between airing my dirty laundry and being real comes into play.  But in this case, I choose to be honest and transparent because just maybe my story can bless someone else.   

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I yell.   When I get upset or frustrated or overwhelmed, I yell.  (I know this will come as a surprise to some ;-)  My excuse has always been that I am stressed, I have a strong-willed child and that my children need to know what real-life is all about.  People argue.  People yell.  People get mad.  I argue with my husband in front of the kids. {against his wishes.} I excuse it by thinking that they need to know that arguing and fighting are part of life.  {And to a healthy extent, I still believe that}. But the key is healthy fighting. 

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This past week I had a dagger put to my heart.  The kids had been fighting and John asked them, "Why do y'all have to fight and yell at each other?  Why can't you just get along?"  And John Luke answered, "Like you and mama do?" And in that moment God said very clearly, "You are not modeling to your children Christ-like behavior." 

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My 3 year old has several babies.  And trust me, she makes them walk a straight line.  Recently I've overheard her yelling at them at the top of her lungs.  She talks to them in a very hateful tone.  And she means what she says!  I've also noticed how much my kids yell at each other.  They speak so snappy and hateful to one another and sometimes even to me and others.  I find myself yelling at them to stop yelling!

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I can humbly testify that God has opened mine eyes!   I'm so thankful that I serve a God of second and third chances and that He pours out His grace upon me!!

John and I love each other dearly and thankfully we have a good relationship with one another, but we do have our "moments", and what I have seen is that the way I handle myself in those moments is what is making the deepest impression on my children.

Eighty percent of children's personalities are formed in the first six years of their life.  And 80-90% of their moral development as well as the bond and connection they develop with those people around them most, happens in their first six years of life.

That is astounding to me!!! That is exactly why I do what I do day in and day out.  When I read that statistic, I was even more positive that what I do really does matter.  And that's why my influence {good or bad} is so crucial.

Our children follow our lead.  And the truth is, they see and hear everything.  More than we think.

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I believe as a mother, I have the greatest influence in my children's lives. {At least for right now.}  So I asked myself,  "What kind of person am I shaping my child to be?"  Discipline and discipleship go hand-in-hand.  The way we discipline our children is a form of discipleship.  And I'll be honest, I'm not doing such a stand-up job.  It's like with any relationship....talk is cheap.  "Actions speak louder than words."  I can tell my children how to act and react.  How to love and cherish.  How to respect and honor.  I can recite our verse "be kind to one another, and love one another" a thousand times over, but my actions are their greatest teacher.  Christ took the time to teach his disciples, but He more often led by example.  The example of His own life.

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Jesus taught His people how to love others by loving others.
Jesus taught His people how to serve others by serving others.
Jesus taught His people how to give unselfishly by giving unselfishly, even unto death.
Jesus taught His people how to accept the outcast by accepting the outcast.
Jesus taught His people how to forgive by forgiving us and dying for us.


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"The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God's sight." ~ I Peter 3:4


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What has God spoken to your heart about lately?  What do you do to ensure your children are being molded into the person God created them to be?

Blessings to you!






Monday, October 1, 2012

20 Little Things I Love About Fall...


Sitting here with a cup of coffee, a pumpkin pie candle burning, my soft cozy blanket, soundscapes playing in the background, and a view of the breeze blowing outside reassures me of the idea that I am a homebody.  A nester.  And for whatever reason, this time of year gets my "nesting" blood pumping even more.  I can't wait for the cooler, crisper mornings {and nights}.

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As I sit here in a quiet house,  I realize once again how much I love home. It's amazing how even little spurts of quietness can revitalize me like nothing else.

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It seems lately I've been overwhelmed with a list of issues.  I know that life in general is overwhelming.   Busy-ness is a curse---in my opinion, and we live in a society that is sick with it.   Some busy-ness we cannot control, but some we can.   I also realize that many would say to me that "I have no idea."  I only have 2 children, and they are still young enough to not be so involved in 'things'.  And they are right.  I can only imagine what life will be like in a few short years.  But I also think that learning now to say 'no' will be of great worth in years to come.  I believe that so many of us have bought into the lie that if we aren't running ourselves crazy with responsibilities that we aren't 'pulling our weight'.   Or that if 'we don't do it, no one else will'.  We forget to make God as much a part of our 'to do list' as he is our prayer list.  I totally believe we need to consult Him {and those in our home} on how much we should be 'doing'.

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Sometimes we just need a breather.   And for me, fall is a time to take a good deep breath and enjoy.

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Even though this time of year gets me to thinking about how close we are to Christmas {and talk about busy}, I can still seem to enjoy the simpleness of Fall. 

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So with all of that said, I am linking up with Melissa at The Inspired Room to list 20 Little Things I Love About Fall.  One of the main reasons I love to read her blog is because she is such a big believer in being content with the home you have in this season of life and making the best of it for your family.  I appreciate the constant reminder.

20 Little Things I Love About Fall:::
  • afternoon picnics in the backyard
  • the smell of pumpkin pie candles
  • cuddling with sweet little people 
  • crispy mornings (hopefully;)
  • the comforts of my little nest
  • early morning quite time
  • football Saturday
  • cozy blankets
  • snuggling on movie night Friday
  • soup on the stove
  • pumpkins 
  • pretty leaves
  • raised windows at night (when it get cooler;)
  • pumpkin patches
  • deep cleaning & organizing
  • fields ready for harvest
  • campfires
  • afternoon walks
  • schedules & routines
  • big beautiful mums!
Happy Fall Y'all!