Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chloe is 7!

For just under seven years, we've lived in this house and for seven years, my lion-spirited, big hearted, beautiful Chloe Paige has been in my life!  Chloe, I know there may be times in your life when you feel lost in the shuffle as a middle child, but know this sweet girl, there is nothing lost or second rate in my love for you!  You have blossomed so much in the past year, from a timid kindergarten graduate to a confident, outgoing almost second grader!  The way you question the world around you hasn't changed, but your questions are getting more interesting and I love trying to answer them.  Your love for make believe is still going strong, which makes us so happy!  The longer you can hang on to that joy, sweetie, the better!  You've made quite a reputation for yourself around the neighborhood this year, as the resident big sister.  Cece, Maddie, and Isla look up to you and wish you really were their big sister.  The way you play with and care for them has your mama beaming with pride!  But the little girl who adores you the most is your own baby sister, Autumn.  She follows you around all day asking to play baby with you (she being the baby, you the mama), and most of the time you are so obliging and patient with her.  You are so helpful to me just by being you, you're such a treasure!  Something I've learned about your personality this year is that you have a gift beyond your years for compassion towards others, especially those you love.  At the end of a long day, you often insist on giving me a foot rub with lotion and bringing me water saying, "you worked so hard today mommy, you need to rest".  Or sometimes you just sense that someone is sad and it makes you sad too.  You are so quick to feel and say sorry when you're wrong, but you don't just stop there, you want to make amends by doing something for the person.  You give the best hugs and kisses Snooie!  It's like I can feel your soul through them!  Happy birthday baby girl!  I thank God every day for letting broken me love you and lead you in this life.  Every year with you is a gift I treasure beyond words! xoxo  Mommy

Friday, August 09, 2013

And Every Boy Grows Up

I just had to write about how cute you were today Sawyer Michael!  We went to Walmart to get a few things and since preschool starts in a couple weeks, I let you pick out your backpack.  You were so excited about it, so proud of the one you picked, and when we got home, for the rest of the day you were wearing it and asking if you could pack it for school.  I had to keep reminding you that we still needed to buy your school supplies and that we have time.  You kept asking, "will it be when we wake up?"  To which I had to keep telling you it would be a lot of "wake ups", 16 to be exact, until your first day of school.  Emma read you your school supply list and when she got to the part about a spare outfit in a ziplock bag, the light went on that you could pack that today and so you raced to your room!  We labeled your ziplock bag with your name and carefully placed your folded undies, socks, shirt and pants inside.  You then put your backpack on the hook in your room and stared at for awhile, just happy you got to put something inside of it for school.  As the day went on, you asked if we could play school.  You wanted me to first be your mom and yell, "Sawyer, it's time to get ready for school!" so you could come out of your room with your backpack.  We did this and you came out beaming.  Oh sweet son of mine, if you only knew how much I enjoy your excitement about this new adventure you're about to go on.  You won't always be so excited about school work as the years go by, but it's my earnest hope that your excitement for learning will only continue to grow.  It's only natural that you want to get bigger, to do new things, to move forward.  But as your mother, I want to thoroughly savor these precious times when you're four.  Some day, you'll leave home and marry a wonderful girl, have a career, a life of your own, just as it should be.  But right now, your life is with me, pretty much constantly, and I'm loving it!  You are a gift, sweet boy, in more ways than you'll ever know!  So as you take this baby step in two weeks towards the growing up that every boy must do, know that in your mamas heart, you will always be this boy!  I love you!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Emma is 9!

Happy birthday Emma Grace!  I refuse to believe you are half way to 18, I just don't even want to think about it.  The last birthday in the single digits!  There I go, doing it again, wishing I could slow time down.  But it marches on for all of us, it's supposed to, so instead of being sad about the time passed, I will be thankful for the years given.  Sweet peanut, you've had a great year, complete with growing pains in your legs and lost teeth that have given you that wonderful, preteen snaggled grin:).  I'm so thankful for our relationship baby, you are so sweet to me!  You tell me all the time how much you love me and you continue to prove that your love language is quality time.  Your favorite mommy/daughter date is a trip to Mahalo to get frozen yogurt.  I love our bedtime chats these days, sharing our hearts with each other, hearing your burning questions.  You continue to love all things fashion and friends and your beauty continues to grow from the inside out.  You continue to be a wonderful artist and have gotten quite good at sewing as well.  It's so fun to see you creating and doing things you love. You are uniquely made and gifted and it gives me such joy to wear the title of "mom" to you. So baby girl, little beauty who made me a mama, here's to another year of loving you and a prayer that Jesus would woo you more and more to himself.  xoxo Mommy

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I had some great plans before summer break started, plans for a morning schedule, a special activity each day, like the park or library or pool.  And those plans have been great, most days really helping us be more purposeful with our time.  I'd even say it has prevented fighting... some of it.  But today, as the kids were squealing through the house with a couple of their friends, jumping from one "game" to the next, without a thought to the time, the memories came flooding back.  I remember when a day seemed like a week, when my friends and I would be deep in make believe, maybe a boat out of TV trays, Little House on the Prairie, lost orphans, and the afternoon truly felt like an eternity in a good way.  The only adult thing I can compare it to is getting lost in a good book, becoming part of the story in your mind and not wanting to leave.  This is the stuff of childhood, this is the beauty of summertime!  I'm not sure when the clock starts to hound us and imagination gives way to responsibility, but I love getting to go back in time as I watch my kids be kids.  Childhood is a precious and fleeting gift, sweet babes, I hope I'm creating a home where you are making the great memories I have of my own childhood.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Autumn is 2!

A two year old is a toddler right?  Well even if so, Autumn is NOT, she is a baby, MY baby, and she always will be.  Oh sweet darling, you are such a gift to us!  I think at least one of us says daily how sad life would be without our "Nootie".  Your affection, your smile, your laugh, your humor, your dancing, your dresses, the way you love to be held, the way you think you can do everything your siblings do and are so indignant when you can't.  Autumn Mae, we are so thankful God gave you to us!  These two years with you have been such a present, truly, what in the world would we do without your sunshine in our lives?!  Happy birthday my baby fashionista!  We can't wait to watch you grow and for our love for you to grow more and more every day!
Love, Mommy, Daddy, Emma, Chloe, and Sawyer

Monday, February 04, 2013

My Stained Recliner

Whoever invented micro fiber furniture, boasting its stain resistance, obviously didn’t do any thorough research with a family of small children.  Let’s just say, our rocking recliner is now more of a magnet for messes than it is a repellent of them. But to be fair, we’ve probably allowed far too many snacks to be eaten in it, so I digress.  While I often cringe when I think of all I’ve cleaned off of this recliner, including multiple types of bodily excretions, this worn out, stain ridden chair has some lessons for me.

This past week, my youngest came down with a tummy bug.  She’s already a bit on the needy/snuggly side as it is, so when she’s sick, all she wants is to be in our arms.  And when she looks to me with the droopy eyes of fever, asking me to hold her, of course I swoop her up.  I’m happy to report that she’s feeling all better now, but my lower back is still feeling all the holding of the past few days.  And that’s where the stained recliner comes in.  As I was sitting there, rocking my sweet girl, trying to take the edge off her misery with my love, I couldn’t help but look around at all the messes that were not being tidied, going down the mental check list of all the tasks that needed doing that I just couldn’t do.  And then the whisper came, that this chair, this rocking, this girl is the  best task I can be accomplishing in any given day.  Certainly, there is a time and place for cleaning and creating a place of peace for our families, working together on those tasks.  But sometimes the greatest way we can create peace for the souls we love in our homes is to just sit still.  When Autumn was sick, when she needed me to just sit and comfort and stroke her forehead, something I do in snipets all the time, it made me think about how much my kids would love it if I did this more.  And this compulsion to keep working and doing and accomplishing, I’m learning something about my heart in it.  I think, if I’m really honest, I’m often doing those things to impress others, not with the simple motive of blessing my family.  Thoughts riddled with insecurity, equating my worth with the job I’m doing as the cleaner/organizer of our home, creep into my mind throughout the day.  But what if molding and filling hearts is more important than laundry and crumbs and papers in disarray?  What if cleanliness is really not next to Godliness as the saying goes?  I think my times of just sitting with my children, who long for those special times with me, reminds me that seasons are short, and children are little only for awhile.  But how do we really live for an audience of one?  How do we stop, in self-focus, always worrying about what others think of us?

I don’t doubt that we will always struggle with this in a world that likes to keep us busy, that tells us that moving and doing is the only work worth doing.  But we find some great encouragement straight from God in His Word that fights the world’s prescription.  Let us not forget that when we are still, to just be with and focus on the ones we love, we are following the example of our God, who longs for us to crawl up in His lap, to hear His Words, and to just be.  I’ll leave you with these verses that encourage my heart to enjoy moments of Sabbath in my days.

Luke 10:38-42 “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”   “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
This passage always reminds me that none of the other work I have on my to do list is as important as sitting at Jesus’s feet.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
This verse reminds me that just as Jesus is my place of rest, I need to be a place of rest for my children, not the busy, frantic, “just a minute” mom that I can be.

Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
This verse reminds me to rest in God’s sovereignty.  Could it be that my stillness bring Him more glory than my busyness?

Matthew 22:36-40  “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

And this passage, one we’ve all heard many times, is a good reminder of God’s priority for our time.  Giving Him the best of ourselves, and giving our best to others (children/family/friends).
None of these passages us tell us to be lazy, but rather to rest with purpose.  There are many scriptures that warn against laziness, working is good, don't get me wrong.  I think where we often get it wrong is when we see times of rest and being still as a hindrance to what we see as more important, the doing we have idolized.  Rest serves as a recharging for the work God has given us, it's needed fuel we often neglect.

Meditate with me on these verses today as we ask God how He might be leading us to slow down for the sake of what’s most important.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

We Remain Weak

It’s been awhile, I know.  Sometimes living life takes precedence over writing about it, I guess that’s the best way I can think of to explain it.  A season of quiet, but that doesn’t mean my thoughts haven’t been brewing or that God hasn’t been working.  In fact, I think it has been in times of quiet that He speaks the most to my heart. I was able to get away for our church’s annual women’s retreat last weekend and wow did God meet me!  There is something so special about times to slow down and draw near to God and other women, a chance to rest our souls at His feet and fellowship with focus over several days as opposed to the snippets we get in “real life”.  And if there had been no profound message to hear from a speaker, God would have used the mountains and the time away alone to refresh my spirit and speak volumes to my heart… but the message WAS profound, and I just have to share what God spoke to my heart.

Our pastor’s wife shared on a passage from 2 Corinthians, 4:5 – 5:21 to be exact.  I’m going to go ahead and quote the whole passage here to make it easy for youJ.  I encourage you to take a minute and pray right now before you read this, asking God to soften your heart to HIS message to you through the Word…

2 Corinthians 4:5–5:21 (NLT)“You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.  So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

New Bodies
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.  God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.
So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.  So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

We Are God’s Ambassadors
Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.  Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.  He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

This passage has SO much in it.  I won’t regurgitate my whole weekend of notes for you, but I will share the main points God challenged my heart with.  I think many of us have read this passage, or portions of it, multiple times before.  But I love how God reveals new wisdom to us through the same scriptures, time and time again.  His Word never gets old or ineffective, amen?!  It is living and active!  Our speaker titled the weekend, “True Treasure in Common Clay”.  One of my favorite scriptures from this passage is 4:7 (NIV)-  But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  I have rejoiced in this truth so many times in my life, that I am weak to reveal His strength, that God put His light and power in this weak, cracked pot on purpose so that it would be obvious that it’s HIM who’s doing a mighty work in me, not me being great by putting in enough effort.  But God pulled back a new layer for me last weekend.  Sara (our speaker) said something that the Holy Spirit burned into my heart and I haven’t forgotten it since.  She said, “we REMAIN weak, HE is forever strong”.  At first hearing, I think that statement can make us uncomfortable.  “Wait a minute,” we think, “isn’t He making me stronger, better in this whole sanctification (growing more into His likeness as we move towards heaven) process?”  She gave us these two equations to explain the point:
  1. God’s power + my weakness= my power
  2. God’s power + my weakness= God’s power
Sara pointed out that many of us see Jesus as an energy drink, which would be the first equation.  “just gotta drink a little more Jesus and I’ll be stronger for my tasks, better, less weak”.  But do you hear the self focus in that statement?  We have this agenda, these areas that we want to be stronger in, and so we’re asking God to fill us up for OUR purposes.  Scripture tells us something different, it’s not about us!  These cracked pots (that’s us who have been redeemed and reconciled to a Holy God ONLY by his grace, which comes through Jesus alone) will stay cracked, will remain weak, so that HIS strength, HIS power can be revealed.  We will not ever arrive in this life, and any growth and increased strength we have will not ever be because we’ve become less weak, it will only be because we’ve drawn nearer to the God who fills us, fixing our eyes on Him, abiding in Him, allowing His light to shine ever brighter through those cracks.

Friends, this was big for me.  Sometimes I find myself so frustrated and confused about why I’m still struggling with certain things, why I’m not seeing the growth I long to see, why I’m still so weak.  Can any of you relate?  But when we ask ourselves why we want to be stronger, I think we have to get really honest about why.  Could it be our reputation with others?  Our desire to do better for those we love in our own effort?  Maybe it’s a desire for proof that we really are new creations?  But here’s the promise, we ARE new creations, “the old has gone, the new has come!”  We have been forgiven, reconciled to God, adopted into His Kingdom, it is finished if we have put our faith in Christ!  And this, not because of anything righteous in us.  God’s power, HIS strength, has been put inside of us for HIS glory and our blessing.  We remain weak because He wants us to depend on Him, He wants the world to see the power of the Gospel , man’s need for Him, in our lives and know the changes they see, the joy in all circumstances, it’s not because we’re extra cool and strong and great, but because HE is.  And when we stumble and struggle and suffer, we cling to Him, fixing our gaze on the only one who can carry us through this life, so that others will see their need too.

What does this mean for us?  Does it mean we stop moving forward, stop putting forth effort? No, because if we did, we’d be ignoring the call to “live” for Him, to “walk” by faith, to “abide” in Him. These are action words. But it’s WHAT we’re living for and WHERE we’re walking (or running) to that we need to look at.

John 15:4-5 says, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.””
This  passage makes it clear that fruit doesn’t come from our effort, but from abiding in Him.  And it’s always evident that, apart from the Vine, a branch can’t produce any fruit. The questions I think we have to ask ourselves are,
  1. Where does strength come from?  My efforts to do better or more dependence on Him in my weakness?
  2. Whose strength is it?  Does more growth equal less weakness, or do we remain weak by design so His strength can be revealed?
  3. For what purpose do I want to be strong, my own agenda or His purposes?
  4. Can I really be content, “rejoice” in my weakness, because “His power is made perfect” in my weakness?
Father, thank you, with flat-on-my-face gratitude, for saving me by your amazing love and grace!  There is nothing in me that is worthy of your love, but You gave it anyway, at a price I can’t fathom.  Thank you for putting your glorious light in this cracked pot, this weak clay vessel.  As I remain weak, I cling, ever tighter, to your strength!  I offer my life to you Father, be glorified as you display Your strength in my weakness.  Make me more like you Father, not for me, but for You!  Amen

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The "Main Things"

Today at my church’s mom’s group, we had one of our pastors give us a pep talk and boy let me tell you, God had the message on an arrow straight to my heart!  His theme was, focusing on the main things.  As a mother of young ones, sometimes I feel like I’m always a day late and a dollar short in the cleaning, meal preparing, busy work tasks of making a home.  I have been feeling really defeated lately, frustrated at why can’t I get it all done, just sort of grumpy about it all most of the time!  But God had encouragement for me in Pastor C’s message today and it was this, “by whose standards are you living? By what expectations are you measuring your “success” as a homemaker?”  My pastor reminded us that God clearly lays out some priorities for us in scripture and here are the top two: Loving Him, Loving others as ourselves (Husband first, then children, then the family of God, then those who are lost).  Nowhere in this list do we find “Martha Stewart house pristinely clean at all times” or “perfectly fit body outfitted in the latest clothes and hairstyle”.  Those priorities come from our culture, not from Him.  And yet it hit me this morning as I was listening to the message, these are things that most often have me feeling inadequate and defeated.  I tell my children, “just a minute” about 100 times a day as I scurry around to clean a house that never gets fully clean.  It’s like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing!  Pastor C assured us that this doesn’t mean we neglect the tasks of cleaning and taking care of ourselves, what it means is that we don’t push the more important things aside to accomplish them.  He also encouraged us in the way we greet our husbands when they come home.  He asked us if we barrage our men with complaints about how hard the day was and all we didn’t get done and need help with or if we focus on loving and welcoming him home first and simply asking for help instead of playing the poor me card to earn his sympathy.  Ouch!  Boy do I do this more than I’d like to admit.  As I was thinking about it today, it’s like I feel the need to paint a sad story of my day in order to excuse the fact that I didn’t get everything done according to MY list.  When really, Travis knows what I’m facing, he knows that we are in a weary season of our lives and that I can’t be super woman.  But I think what it is is that I WANT to be, so badly!  My own desire to be perfect at everything puts me in a grouchy, complaining, defeated mood and it’s just sin, plain and simple.  When I am focusing on the “main” things, as pastor C put it, those other things will be seen with the right perspective. 

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

My children won’t remember how clean the house was or wasn’t, but they will remember the time I spend with them, doing things together, laughing, enjoying them, reading the Word together and praying.  But if I’m not careful they will also remember a mama who’s constantly stressing about all she has to accomplish and how she made them feel like they were always in the way of those accomplishments.  So what’s the balance?  Well, here’s a list of what I think homemaking is and isn’t.  I don’t claim to have it all figured out, but these are what ring true at the moment:

1.       Homemaking IS creating a place of refuge and peace for our families, which I think includes a certain level of cleanliness and organization.  Homemaking IS NOT, a perfectly clean and organized home at all times at the expense of lost quality time with the very family we are trying to create a refuge for.

2.       Homemaking IS living by right priorities with our time and energy, which can mean limiting or eliminating those things that threaten to take the tops spots.  Homemaking IS NOT holding ourselves to impossible standards or comparing ourselves to other moms who are gifted differently.

3.       Homemaking IS filling up our tanks with time with Jesus and His Word, praying throughout the day for His strength and perspective which will overflow into our families.  Homemaking IS NOT trying to do it on our own strength.  Our standards and priorities never work like His do and we can do nothing well on an empty tank.

4.       Homemaking IS preparing healthy, tasty food for our families.  Homemaking IS NOT nightly gourmet meals.  Gourmet chefery never makes an appearance on God’s priority list, only on the food network’s.

5.       Homemaking IS refueling ourselves with retreats of rest and joyful activities (the most important being time with the Lord).  Homemaking IS NOT feeling entitled to selfish pursuits or allowing ourselves to be completely derailed by laziness and selfish hobbies.

6.        Homemaking IS having a plan.  Homemaking IS NOT feeling completely derailed and defeated when daily life doesn’t go according to it.  God’s plans are always better than ours, even when they make us feel uncomfortable.

7.       Homemaking IS including the whole family in cleaning and the work that needs to be done, expecting that perfection will not happen, but pride in contributing will.  Homemaking IS NOT feeling like you have to do it all without asking for help.  Everyone can do something , don’t play the poor martyr by doing it all.

8.       Homemaking IS practicing hospitality.  Homemaking IS NOT needing a clean home before you do it.  Be a Mary and not a Martha.

I would love to hear your additions to this list and what God is teaching you about focusing on the main things.  Sisters, we need each other!  Not the perfect fa├žade we may want others to see, but the real us that knows fancy words and appearances will never get us to the good stuff of true sisterhood.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sawyer is Four!

Sweet baby boy!  See, how I still call you that even though you are four?  You are my only son, so I get to do that.  Son, it has been so fun to watch you grow from a toddler to a little boy this year.  Your sense of humor is in full swing now, taking these pictures was evidence of that you little stinker.  Your language grows more every day, but secretly I want you to always say "prain pracks" for train tracks and "wishin" for fishin.  You smile with your whole face prince, everyone who meets you tells me you're going to have the girls lined up.  I try not to think about it, but it's so true my handsome man cub!  You learned to ride a two wheel bike this year, earlier than anyone in the neighborhood.  You're leaning out and shooting up, it's happening way too fast.  I treasure these years with you home with me full time.  Preschool will come soon enough, so please just stay this size for awhile.  I love you Sawyer Michael, as much as any mother could ever love her only son.  You bring joy to my life in ways you'll never know.  I pray every day for your future, for the ways I hope God will get a hold of your heart and life and use you in big ways, for the wife and family I hope he will provide you, that in some small way, every day, I am pointing you to Jesus, that He is the only true fulfillment you'll find.  The hat in these pictures we got for you when Daddy and I went to Ireland this summer.  You look so cute in it I can hardly stand it!  May your fifth year be full of all things a little boy longs for, plenty of adventures and the love of those of us who get to call you ours.
Love, Mommy

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sending Them Out- Back to School

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A lot of thought and prayer and seeking the Word went into our decision to send our children out of our home to school.  I know that most of you who read this blog made similarly agonized over decisions about how to academically educate your children, some landing on homeschool, others on different types of school outside the home.  Before I say another word, I think it’s important to remind us all that pride has no place as we talk about these personal decisions of Christian freedom.  I hope that we can keep an atmosphere of love, humility, and bodily unity on this blog.  I’m sure that what we can agree on is God’s call to us as parents to model and teach Biblical truth and the power of the Gospel to our children whenever we are with them.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9- “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
Each year, when the air gets cooler and a fresh start to a school year is upon us, when the smell of new school supplies intoxicates me (yes, I love that smell!), my heart goes back to the callings and promises of God when it comes to my precious children.  It’s at this time of year that we get ready to send them out each day, which means a huge part of my heart is not in my physical presence each day, a small taste of the launching that will eventually take place when they’re older.  As we’re mapping out the year and making fresh goals for our family, I’m tempted to fear, tempted to doubt God’s ability to give me the wisdom and insight to do this well… but as I pray, the assurance comes, that these are not MY children, they are HIS.  His love for them is far more than I could ever give, His care of them far more complete than any sheltering tactics I could employ.  He has called me to love them, to care for them, to lead them, to teach them, to train them, to steward them well, but ultimately He has called me to trust Him with them.
Proverbs 22:6- “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
I hold to this promise and hold to the promise that God has plans for each of my children according to His sovereign will.  It is my job to be an overflowing cup of HIS love, HIS grace, HIS presence, HIS word, to be craving after Him for the filling up that only He can do so that I can be used by Him and for Him in the lives of my children.  I am so thankful for the blood of Jesus, that His power is made perfect in my weakness, that it is not up to me to attain perfection in my parenting by trying hard enough, but rather to lay flat on my face before a perfect God, begging Him for wisdom, begging Him to do His work in my children through me and through whatever means necessary to give Him the most glory.
Philippians 4:6-9- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
This Philippians passage is not only a huge encouragement to my own heart, but a passage I read to my kids often, truths I want them to hide in their hearts for the times they’re not with me.  Because the One who is always with them, even when I am not, He is the one I want them to turn to, I want them to know what a personal walk with God looks like, a relationship that is their own.  And hiding these truths of God’s Word in their hearts, I think this is one of the best ways we can send them out prepared to face a world full of lies, because it is God’s Word that has power, not our “superior” parenting.  It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and inspires right choices, not our constant lecturing.  Here are some verses we’re going to hide in our hearts this year:
Romans 12:9-21- “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Proverbs 4:23- Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Colossians 3:23-24- “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17- “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
James 1:19-27- “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 5:16- “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Philippians 4:11-13- “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
Psalm 18:2- “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4- “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Isaiah 41:10- “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
I know God’s Word is full of beautiful truths to hide in our hearts, so please share some of your favorite scripture memory verses for kids with the rest of us.  I think one of the most important ways we can prepare our kids to be sent out is to teach them the very reason we are to go out into the world at all.  We are called to let our lights shine in a world full of darkness, and that call is not just for grown-ups, it is a call to every child of God, every person saved by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ into the family of God.  In fact, this is one of the foundational scriptures that God used to lead us to our decision to send our children to school.
Matthew 5:13-16- “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
And so we pray for our children, every single day, all throughout the day, that God will protect and lead and comfort and strengthen them, and that most importantly He will use them.  We pray that His light, shining through them, shining through our family, will permeate the classrooms and halls, the hearts of lost children and families, that He might use our family in the mission field of our school, to demonstrate God’s love and mercy and power to give new life.  And when I let this charge ring true in my heart, all fear melts away.  And I take a deep breath and smile as I face this new year.  And this prayer that Paul prays for the Ephesians gives me new courage:
Ephesians 4:14-21- For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Practical Ideas:
- Love notes and scriptures written on their lunch napkins
- Verses on pretty note cards to tape inside their desks
- Praise songs in the car to get hearts in the right place as we start the day
- On the way home, when they’re sharing about their days, take the time to pray for situations and people that come up.
- Surprise them by having lunch with them some days
- Organize some play get togethers with other families in the kid’s classes
- Arrange to trade off childcare of your younger children with another family in the school so you can volunteer in your child’s class regularly
- Have regular date nights with each of your kids so you can get that precious one on one time
- Set regular times each day to pray specifically for each of your children
- Make a special after school snack and spend time sharing it with them while you have a good chat
- Don’t fill their after school schedule up too full, less is more even though our busy culture would tell us otherwise.
Please share your ideas too!