Celebrations · Marriage · Parenting

The Two Greatest Men In My Life

Father’s Day and my wedding anniversary come close together in June, giving me the blessing of celebrating the two greatest men in my life – my dad and my husband. They are both imperfect, of course, but let me tell you why I delight in celebrating them this weekend.

Even at 89, my dad enjoys working on tasks he’s able to do.
Continue reading “The Two Greatest Men In My Life”
Dealing with hard times · Grandparents · Parenting · salvation

The Perfect Treasure

Walking along the shoreline of the ocean begs for shell-seeking. As you walk along, you are blinded by glimmers of colors pressed into the sand. You hear the crunch of the buried bits under your feet and an inquisitive mind wonders what treasures could be revealed just under their sandalled foot.

We bend down and scour the sand. What are we looking for? The perfect shell. Not one that has been walked upon, like we just did moments before! No, we seek for one that is unbroken; one that is completely whole with nothing missing or cracked. Those finds are rare. They are discovered by the early morning seekers, donned in water boots, standing ankle deep in the ocean’s foam to make their find before the lazy beachcombers awaken.

As I surveyed the beach on a mid-morning walk last week, I saw a shell in all its beauty! It appeared perfect! I snapped a picture to document my perfect find!

As I bent down and inspected the shell, I was reminded of how we also seek perfection in the children that would enter our home. “As long as they’re healthy, that’s all that matters!” we say. And what do we do if we find that there is a problem – a crack, if you will?

  • What if a piece is missing, causing an illness or an unwanted diagnosis later on?
  • What if their make-up is strong-willed and stubborn?
  • What if there are special needs?
  • What happens if there is a learning disability?
  • What if rebellion comes with age and maturity?
  • What ever will we do with the brokenness that displays itself at the time when we are most embarrassed by it?

The truth is that every child is broken. It comes as a result of being born into a sinful, broken world that has put sin in their nature. That “crack” will be seen in each child in different ways and different times, but it’s there. The blessing isn’t from overlooking the imperfection, but acknowledging it, for then we can find the Hope needed to comfort and restore.

That hope is the grace of God that brings salvation. As sure as the ocean’s tide will cover that broken shell on the shoreline, God’s grace will cover our child as they hear the message of the Gospel. Their greatest need isn’t to be “fixed,” but to be saved. If their weakness, brokenness and imperfection will point them to Jesus as the Savior for their sins, would it not be a treasure for which we did not ask?

What about illnesses, weaknesses and deformities and struggles that put hardship on the parents? God’s grace is as deep as the ocean, and it is sufficient for each day’s burdens and struggles. As the grace of God is witnessed by His daily strength to help, His wisdom to know how to move forward, and His provision that supplies for needs, that weakness glorifies the God who made that child and formed them in the womb. Surely He also puts in our hearts that this is not forever. One Day wholeness will come.

As I watch the waves roll in, one at a time, the Lord reminds me that that is how grace is given to us – one need at a time – not before we need it, or less than we need, but when we need it, and in sufficient amounts.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9

After careful examination, it turned out that the “perfect shell” I found wasn’t perfect after all. Lovely as they are, I also saw early on that my girls were also broken, just like their parents! Praise God for the saving grace that has been applied to their lives and that is continually working in each of us as we look forward to that day in heaven when we will be like Jesus! That’s when we will see perfection!

Oh, how God’s heart rejoices at those that go looking for the broken! That refers to those that need the Gospel. With whom are we sharing the Good News of Christ?
Are you pouring the Gospel message into your children every day, weaving its message into all of life? As parents, it’s your responsibility!
If you don’t have children in your home, are you teaching the Gospel to your grandchildren or to your friends, neighbors and the people with whom you interact?

Let’s not be looking for what our hearts think we need (perfection) and instead, purposefully look for the brokenness around us that needs the tidal wave of God’s saving grace! There is no greater Treasure!

Discipleship · Mentoring · Motherhood · Parenting

Loving Your Child Through It All

Adorned Series #13

Hectic school routines, multiple discipline issues, outrages and temper tantrums, messes, stresses, spills and strong wills might describe your mothering yesterday, but I’m here to remind you that there is grace for the task in front of you today, dear mom!

Many women feel so overwhelmed at their task of mothering.  I can remember wondering what it would feel like to just hop in the car mid-morning and head to the grocery store.  That’s my high energy time!  I thought about how fun it would be to be able to just GO!  But I was a homeschooling mother, with two girls to train and educate.  Our days were full and I usually went to the store at the end of the day when I was weary.  However, it was not a sacrifice!

Those kind of situations feel like they’re lasting FOREVER.  But guess what I did yesterday?  I went to Kroger early in the day!  

I’m here to encourage you moms not to lose sight of the important task you’re facing.  Your job as a mom is such a high calling!  When Adam named his wife Eve, he was saying she is a life-giver.  That’s what you are!  It doesn’t matter whether you gave life to the children in life naturally, through foster care, or adoption…you are a Life Giver!  What could be more important than that?  You are on assignment from God to pour into those children the Truth about their God and about their need for a Savior.  

I think it’s important that we keep connected to the days when we were asking God for these children.  Or even if they were “surprises,” God says they are blessings from His hand! 

Psalm 127 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:

God said to Abraham of Sarah in Gen 17:16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Too often, we take the blessings of God and turn them into cursings.  We bemoan how our life has been put on hold, how sleep-deprived we are, that we are always on-call, that we don’t have a life outside of cooking, teaching, and cleaning up spilled milk.  

In her book Adorned, Nancy said,

You wouldn’t be human not to wear down at times under the strain…and most people will never see the sacrifices you make to parent your children.  But if you’re not careful, if you’re not prayerful, if you let the days just pass by without being determined to sue them for God’s highest and best purposes – to remember the real reason you’re doing all this – then the blessings He intends for you in this season may slip through your fingers.  And your children may miss out on the vision of God’s love you were intended to give them. 

The answer is doing what you do with God’s help. 

Hear some fresh reminders from an older mom:

First, let me remind you that the children in your home are blessings.  When older women are teaching the young women to love their children we remember that the word for love is  Phileo, the friendship kind of love.  We are not their buddies, we’re their mother, but we have the kind of love for them that enjoys them.  Do they feel that coming from you, or is it more resentment?  Ask God to help you enjoy them TODAY. Enjoy them when they’re loveable.  Enjoy them when you have to discipline them again.

Secondly, let me remind you that your children are in your home for a relatively short period of time. I know…it feels long right now, but trust me, you will soon be watching them march in graduation or walk down the aisle to be married and you’ll wonder how that ever happened! Make the time while your children are in your home count!  Have fun!  Be spontaneous!  Laugh! Smile at them!  Play games.  Craft.  Bake together.  Hang out in the back yard. Pray with them. Read God’s Word to them.  (The psalm for their age) Put your phone away.  Look at them.  Hear them speaking to you!

Thirdly, let me remind you to show loving affection.  Do it with your words.  Say, “I love you.” Do it with your gestures – give the hug, the pat on the back. Your children need your motherly affection. Even if your children are older, they still need your love and words of affirmation. Notice not just the bad things, but notice the good! 

Recently after I’d spent time with one of my girls I sent her a text and told her how proud I was of her and that I loved her.  She responded, “You don’t know what that means to me.  I feel like I’m so self absorbed and unpleasant most of the time. I love you, too!”  I had no idea she was feeling disheartened, but when the Holy Spirit prompted me to write her, I realized that those words were just what the Lord wanted her to hear.  (I miss those opportunities many times! Ugh!)

Fourthly, realize that they must be your priority. People are more important than things.  An immaculate house, a perfect yard can wait.  Let them play in one room.  Let them hang out in the yard.  Be the cookie mom who invites the neighbor kids over!

Nancy reminds us that sometimes the best way to prioritize our children is to prioritize time with God.  I have my Quiet time in the morning.  Often one of the girls would need something while I was praying.  They would knock, then come in and find me on my knees, praying for my own heart, for them, and for our school day.  Without that time, I would have fallen apart even more often!

Always remember that your husband is your priority above your children.  He will still be with you when they leave! How does this happen? When they’re young the children need you almost constantly, but as they grow and mature, make sure that you are making time for your husband. Make sure you’re spending MORE and more time with him as the years pass. Go out on regular dates. As the children age, make them more and more independent so they are ready to step out, and you are not their crutch and they are not yours.   Spend MORE time talking, dating, praying, dreaming as each year passes.  You don’t want to be looking at a stranger when your kids are gone! This was not God’s plan. 

Motherhood is a roller coaster ride.  It’s full of joys and sorrows.  If you have a child away from God, spite your efforts and prayers, don’t give up.  It’s always too soon to quit. God loves them more than you do!  Keep living out that overflowing life of a believer.  Show them the joy of a Christian who walks with God.  Be there for them.  Keep loving them.  Text them.  Talk to them.  Don’t be afraid to speak of biblical things…it’s to be overflowing from your life.

Keep on being a life-giver.  By our responses, our words, our affection, our encouragement to our children or the children God puts in your path, we can be life-givers all the days God gives us on this earth!

Refresh your love for being a nurturer to the children in your life by remembering how well your God loves you, how patient He is with you, and how He disciplines you in kindness and mercy.  Then in good days full of praise and achievements, and in difficult days full of correction and biblical instruction keep on loving your children well.

cakes · Celebrations · Family life · Parenting

Girl’s Trip #2

Throwback to our first Girl’s trip.

Almost 3 years ago my girls and I took our first girl’s trip. We were celebrating my birthday then. We had so much fun, and it was such a special blessing to connect with one another, that we were excited to plan another one!

Last weekend we took our second trip to celebrate a special 30th birthday, and I’ll let you figure out who’s turning 30! We went to a spot in South Carolina that was absolutely beautiful and perfect for our two night, three day getaway!

The most important part of any time is the people with whom you share it! We get along so well and it’s just so easy to be together. How blessed I am!

The place we stayed was on the 11th hole of the golf course, and also near a beautiful lake! There were stunning views all around us!

We chose to bring food and cook supper, lunch and breakfast. We want to have good food anytime we get together! This time did not disappoint!

To celebrate the birthday, we went out to dinner one evening. The picture below was my Tomato pie. It was amazing! It’s very different from the recipe that I make, and I loved it!

For birthday cake, I brought Chocolate Orange cakes – an Ina Garten recipe that we love. We went to a beautiful gazebo at the Lakeside for our birthday party.

There were so many fun things to do! One day we spent five hours in the swimming pool and had it almost completely to ourselves. What a fun, relaxing day!

No girl’s trip is complete without some shopping, right?! Soooo…

We had intentional times of conversation, talking about important matters in each of our lives. We had times of prayer and times in God’s Word. I’m so thankful we can share those spiritual moments that knit our hearts together.

Whitney did a great job planning the location for our getaway. We are all looking forward to the next event that we can celebrate!

Have you ever had a strictly girls trip? What was the best part?

Child training · children · Grandparents · Parenting

That Special Child

This week I heard a message by Chuck Swindoll that just stopped me in my tracks. Part of the reason is because of the Truths of the Word of God that must be applied to my own life as I continue in sanctification. He spoke from Matthew 15 when Jesus was answering the question the disciples asked about who would be the greatest among them. Do you remember what Jesus did?

He brought a little child and set them in the middle of the group of disciples. He told them, If you want to enter the Kingdom of heaven, you must become like that little child ~

  • Unpretentious,
  • Full of trust
  • No agenda
  • No hidden desires
  • No secret sin
  • No guile
  • Authentic humility

Matthew 18 goes on to say ~

Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones.

It’s easy to look down on a child, isn’t it?
They can seem insignificant.
They can be difficult to deal with.
They are needy.

But Jesus values children. He says we must be like them to be saved. We admit our sinfulness like a child. We trust like a child. We love like a child.

Are you valuing the children in your life? Perhaps they are the children in your home. Maybe they’re your grandchildren. Are there children in your neighborhood? Do you bump into youngsters at church or the park or the grocery store?

Each one is important. Each one has special gifts. Each one has a need for Jesus. Do you see them? Do you take time to speak to them, to make them feel important and noticed? Or do you overlook them?

Then there are other children. Here’s what Chuck Swindoll says about them…

There are those who are weak and fragile and they can’t keep up.
Then you slow down. Take time for them. See the value in them. I love the scene where Jesus talks about future rewards and says,

Matthew 25:40 I was sick and you brought me something to eat. I was in prison and you visited me. I was thirsty and you brought me something cool to drink,

The one hearing it said,

When did we bring you something to eat, or see you in prison and visit you, and when did we bring you something cool to drink?
Jesus’ answer is,

Inasmuch as you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me.

Inasmuch as you’ve done it to these who couldn’t keep up,
these with special needs,
these with congenital brain damage,
these with physical conditions that hinder them from being able to run like the other children,
or to have coordinated bodies like other fast-moving and well-coordinated kiddos.
Guard against devaluing a child or discounting them.

Every child is precious to God. Every child is valuable just the way they were born. Don’t lessen their importance in your home – or in this very world. He or she may be just the one to turn this world upside down for Jesus Christ simply because of their “special-ness”.

Children have a way of reaching the hearts of people like none other. See them for the treasure they are and thank God that He brought them into your life so you could watch the things God will do through them and their unique gifts.

Let’s esteem children, every single one of them, as much as Jesus does.