Happy Imperfections

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I’ll never forget the day we moved into our country home where we are now.  It had just been finished being built! We were moving into our very first brand new house!

It was surreal.

I wasn’t moving into someone else’s mess or used home that needed work – this one was new and perfect!

We had many strong men helping us on move-in day lifting, carrying and lugging all our possessions into our new abode.  One kind man set down a box in my kitchen and I began to slide it closer to the place where it would be unpacked.  His response echoes in my ears even today:

These hardwood floors will scratch up even by a box being slid across them; you better lift that instead.

I followed his wise advice, fearful of causing some imperfection to come to my new and perfect home.

Those words guided the careful application of pads to every chair, table, foot stool, and anything else that was going to be rubbing across the hardwood.  I couldn’t stand the thought of a scratch ruining the looks of my perfect kitchen, hallway or living room.

But alas and alack, over the four years that we have been here, it has happened.  What would that man say if he could see where a can of green beans fell in my pantry and dented the floor there on a day when I was preparing a meal?  Or the heels that have walked across the planks causing scratches, or the other little nicks and bumps that have happened just because people live here, visit here, eat here, spill here, and do life here?

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Perfection isn’t a word that would describe my home, but I’m good with that now.  I’ve come to see those scratches as reminders that people are more important than my perfect standard.  If we lived here alone there would be far less imperfections, but oh, the blessings of belly laughs, happy shedding of tears, playful frolic, nurturing visits, prayerful conversations and loving of souls that we would have missed!

Thank you, sir, for your good advice.  I’m grateful you shared that with me – I really am.  I’ll keep the pads in place and care for my home as a gift from the Lord, but when the marks are added to the hardwood, fingerprints to the glass, or smudges on the walls, I can smile instead of grimace at the happy remembrance of the people that have helped make memories – not imperfections.

Last week when I mopped the floor, I saw a scuff on the floor and started to sigh, but then was reminded of the truths that God has been teaching me about living more for people than perfection.  Instead of sighing, with every stroke of that Swiffer, I thanked God – by name – for the different people who had been in our home.  It made my heart so happy – happy for my perfectly wonderful memories made in my imperfect home.

Do you ever get caught up in wanting your home to look perfect, and feel frustrated that it isn’t? People are more important.  Look at the people, instead of the imperfections, and you’ll have the freedom to use your home to glorify God!

Refresh your heart about your home.

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The Healer of the Family

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This coming Wednesday in Pioneer Club I get the joy of teaching a Bible lesson I’m not sure I’ve ever taught. As I’ve pondered this Bible passage, I’ve realized how important this little two-verse story is!  It’s the story of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law being sick with a fever.

But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.

.And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.

Mark 1:30-31

So why would this be in the Scriptures?  Why should we tell the children this story? Why do you and I need to read it? I believe it’s because it speaks volumes about the care we should have for our family.  Just as this family looked after the needs of this mother who was sick, we need to put the same kind of efforts into our family relationships.

  1. They loved her.
  2. They wanted to do the best thing for her.
  3. They got the best care for her needs.
  4. She showed her gratitude by serving.

It’s so simple, yet so powerful a message of family life as God intended it.

Loving, caring, giving, gratitude – all attributes every Christian family should have.

But so many homes today are filled with fighting and bickering, bitterness and grudges.  The thermostat in the home is set at the high temperature of STRIFE.  Heated discussions., sassy children, and hot words of anger fill the rooms instead of love, forgiveness and kind deeds.

James  3:16 says,

For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

Confusion.

Every evil work.

Is that what we want inside our home?  If we allow strife, that’s what we  will get.

I have a sad memory  from years ago of a grieving family who were at the casket of their mother.  She was now in heaven, and the family knew there were bitter feelings they had never reconciled.  This family had “solved” problems with shouting matches, that of course did no good.  Now their mother was deceased, and their hearts were hurting, filled with regret, and sorry they hadn’t taken care of it before she closed her eyes in death.

Standing at the grave of a loved one is not the time to make peace. It’s today.  Don’t let strife and confusion and every evil work typify your family.  Instead, allow your relations to  enjoy the forgiveness you received at the cross.  Life is too short and family is too precious.

Let’s be like Simon Peter and lovingly go get the best help we can for our family – let’s run and find Jesus!  We must bring Him in on each situation and problem.  We must care for the needs of our parents, siblings, and children, forgetting our own.

Does your family have a need?  It can be met in Jesus.

(Tomorrow will be continuation of this post.)

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In-Laws and Outlaws Part II

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Jokes about mothers-in-law…there are many.  I remember hearing one about a Greyhound bus going over the side of a cliff, but there was no worry, because the only passenger was the man’s MIL.  Ouch.  Where do those punches come from?  Maybe from people who have gotten fed up with that female in-law who crossed the relational boundaries.  But it’s so easy to do, isn’t it?  We may reason that

  • we only want to help!
  • we’ve been where our children are and we think we need to  give them some good advice.
  • we see our kids getting ready to make the mistake of a lifetime.
  • they need help raising those grandchildren of ours.

The reasons for mother-in-laws interfering are many, but for the most part, they may be very unwelcomed  from our birth children and our in-laws.  It can do far more damage than it does help when it’s unsolicited.

What is a mother-in-law to do if she desires to have a good relationship with a son or daughter-in-law?  Here are a few things I’ve learned (and am still learning!).

  1. Only give advice when it’s asked for.  If you see your kids doing something you think is wrong, pray about it instead of speaking to them.  Trust a sovereign God to direct them just as He directs you when you’re heading down a wrong path.
    That would include little “hints” you might want to drop about your DIL’s housekeeping, lack of meal prep, or careless parenting skills.  Or your SIL’s need to turn off the television, get a job, lead his family or attend church.  Take it to God instead.
    I’ve had to ask both of my girls to forgive me for stepping over that boundary once they got married!  We’re so used to being “mom” that we scold, advise and reprimand our grown kids as quickly as we used to throw our arm across them when we came to a sudden stop in the car.  Let’s fold our hands in prayer instead and ask the Lord to give them wisdom to make right choices.
  2. Don’t demand your children’s presence for ANYTHING. would mean Christmas, Thanksgiving, your birthday, Mother’s Day – you get the idea.  They have lives of their own.  They have a family to care for.  They have burdens to carry.  They have jobs and ministries.  Let them live their lives.  Again, if you feel neglected, take it to the Lord in prayer.  Even if you don’t demand their presence, but you pout because they weren’t there…it’s just as bad.
    Also, be sure you’re building that marriage relationship with your spouse.  Have so much fun together that your kids will know that if they’re not able to come home, you both are fine just being together!
  3. Never drop in to your children’s home without calling ahead.  “Yoo-hoo!” at the front door as you walk in could make an embarrassing situation for you and your children.  It can also turn you into the lady that might be given a ticket to ride that Greyhound bus!
  4. Consider your child’s spouse.  Think to your own MIL and how you liked or disliked when she left you out or included you, as the case may be.  Love them.  Talk to them.  Send a text.  Call them occasionally just to say hi.  Pray for them.  Treat them with respect and give them those kind of words.
  5. Allow your children and their spouse to be adults.  Treat them as such, remembering that you raised them to be independent. Don’t see your son as your little boy.  He’s a man.  Let your daughter be a grown woman. Let go of those early days and let them establish a home as adults.

Remember the story of Ruth and Naomi?  Ruth was said to have been kind to her mother-in-law.  We may cry out – “My daughter-in-law needs to take a lesson from her!  My son-in-law needs to learn to be kind to me!”  But what made Ruth and Orpah want to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi?  She had been gracious to them!  Someone has said,

Maybe if we were more like Naomi,

there would be more Ruth’s.

If you’re guilty of something in this post, be humble and ask the Lord to help you.  You might even need to ask your children and in-laws to forgive you for the way you’ve treated them.  A humble spirit of repentance could be the very thing that will turn those difficult relationships around.

Let’s be more like Naomi today.

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In-Laws and Out-Laws – Part 1

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Someone has said…

Marriage is like twirling a baton, turning handsprings or eating with chopsticks. It looks easy until you try it.

A huge part of the difficulty that can come to a marriage is dealing with the In-laws.   You see, when a girl says, “I do,” to a man she loves, she is also saying “I do” to receiving his family.  She takes them on as her own family, and of course, he takes hers as well.  But that isn’t always the easiest job in the world.  There are so many variables as to why that’s the case, but I’d like to address what to do in order to make those relationships better.

I’ve been both a daughter-in-law and am now a mother-in-law, so I can speak a little to the female side of these relationships.  Tomorrow I’m going to speak to the mothers-in-law.  But we’ll look today at being a daughter-in-law that would honor the Lord and also be a blessing to the other side of her family.

  1. Give your in-law’s names – When I was newly married, I had a sweet father-in-law who oddly enough had been (and still was) my boss at the school where I taught.  He was also my pastor.  Now all of the sudden, we were related!  That was a strange transition to make!  My mom gave me good advice before my wedding.  She said, “Start calling your in-law’s by the name you choose right after you’re married.  It will sound like it’s bouncing off the walls when you first say it, but keep on saying it. It will get easier.”
    My husband and I had decided to call one another’s parents as we do our own, Mom and Dad.  When you have parents of your own that you treasure and love, it’s hard to throw that title to someone else, but these people were parents to the man I’d given my life to! Could I not “adopt” them as my second set of parents?  So, after the honeymoon, I needed my mother-in-law’s attention and I had no choice but to say it – “Mom…”  It was just like my own mother had warned me.  It seemed like I had shouted it into a megaphone!  But I kept on saying it until it became as natural saying my own name.
    It can be so difficult to give your in-law’s a name that instead, you refer to them as only pronouns.  Love them enough to give them a name – Mom and Dad, Bob and RuthAnn, Mom C., something! It’s so much kinder than “her” or “him!”
  2. Give your in-law’s the benefit of the doubt. If you’re questioning their actions, their absence, or their words to you or your husband, just step back and don’t assume anything but the best.  Instead of asking, Why does your mother only call you and ask about the holidays?  Don’t I count?  Assume that he is the one who could answer her questions.  Then you make an attempt at saying, Hey, I hear you’re wondering about us coming for Thanksgiving.  We’re looking forward to it. Do you have a minute that we could talk about what you’d like me to bring?
    It’s a tendency to get offended, but sometimes if we build a bridge for communication, it will make things easier the next time.
  3. Give your in-law’s time to be with their son without you.  Don’t feel offended that your MIL would love to spend time with your husband.  Instead, help that to happen.  When my in-law’s came to visit us for Christmas, I always tried to encourage my husband to take his mom out for breakfast one morning.  They could talk and spend time together, and I know she appreciated having her son to himself for a couple hours.
    (Tomorrow we’ll discuss what happens if this need becomes obsessive for her!)
  4. Give your in-law’s time with your whole family.  Holidays can be downright dreadful if there are not wise decisions about where and when the holidays will be spent.  Going back and forth to both families is exhausting and sharing that holiday with only one side of the family can be hurtful.
    Our solution to that is to spend Thanksgiving with one side and Christmas the other.  Then the next year do the opposite.  Birthday’s, Mother’s Day and so on can be handled in the same way – back and forth.
  5. Give your in-law’s the same kindness you’d give your own parents.  Most husbands aren’t good at remembering to buy gifts and cards for their mom once they’re married.  Why not consider it your duty as his wife to remind your fella to buy a card for his mom for Mother’s Day?  Or you pick out the card and gift for her birthday and let him sign it for both of you.  She’ll recognize his handwriting and will be elated that he remembered.  Only you will be the wiser!  The point is, be sure to do the same kind acts for your in-law’s as you do for your family.
    In the book of Ruth, we hear Naomi saying to her two daughters-in-law:
    Go, return each to her mother’s house: the Lord deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.
    Both Ruth and Orpah had shown kindness to their mother-in-law and she was fully aware of it!
    Could that be said of you and me?  Take the high road and show kindness. Be first to do it.  Do it even if it’s not returned.  What to do?

    1. Call them.
    2. Send a text to check on them.
    3. Send them pictures of your children.
    4. Send them pictures of your husband!
    5. Pray for them.
    6. Love them with words
    7. Love them with your time.
    8. Love them with actions. A card, a gift, a loving gift of your time.

It would be hard not to love a daughter-in-law who responds with those kind of actions.  I didn’t always do that. I struggled, especially in our early years.  But I thank the Lord for the good relationship he gave me with my in-law’s over time.  Ladies, sometimes the hardship in the in-law relations can make them look like outlaw’s, but if we make the effort, we could very easily turn things around for God’s glory and we daughters-in-law could be remembered as favorably as Ruth was.

What’s your best tip for responding as a daughter-in-law? Who has a great daughter-in-law that you’d like to brag about?

Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for tips for the Mothers-in-law!

Training Your Preschooler to Sit in Church

Summer is nearly over and this is my last week to repost some old posts.  This week I’m highlighting some of the most popular ones. I trust you’ll find something here that you never read, or that you need to be reminded of!  The first one is about teaching your children to sit quietly in church.  Have your kids mastered it?  If not, here are some suggestions…

 

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You looked so forward to being in church last Sunday, but by the time the service was over you had wrangled with your preschooler in the pew, your blouse was spotted with juice drops, the floor was littered with Goldfish Crackers, and you’re more ready for a deserted island alone without food or water than you are for the Sweet By and By!

Been there? Most of us have! But there is hope for you and your child to be able to sit through an entire service and actually hear the message and get a blessing out of it! Read on!

The picture below is the best place to train your preschool-aged child to learn to sit in church…

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This is your living room or family room couch. That’s right, the best place to train your child about church is in your own home. If you wait until Sunday morning to try to teach them to sit down rather than run the aisles and to whisper, rather than shout out their requests, you’re headed for disaster and major frustration. Here are my suggestions for training a preschool-aged child to sit in church:

  1. Clear the area you’re going to sit in and make it free of  distractions. TV is off and toys are stashed away.
  2. Get one or two quiet activities like a Bible flannel book or other quiet book, and perhaps one quiet toy like a coloring book and a few crayons (no markers!). These toys will be reserved only for your Quiet Time, so they’re “new” each time they’re brought out. Purchase or make several books/quiet toys to keep only for this teaching time and Sundays. Take a look at this! Find similar ideas on Pinterest!
  3. pocket sized magnetic fishing set | doodle craft - would be great little addition for quiet bag at church
    This is a magnetic fishing pond! Super easy to make and super fun for your child. Also super cheap!
  4. Set the timer for five minutes to start. Gather yourself and your child and tell him he is going to sit on the couch with you until the timer goes off. Give him one book or toy and tell him he may play with it while you sit on the couch, but that he may not get down or talk. It’s time to listen. Show him how to sit, and remind him this is QUIET TIME. Tell him If he talks the toy will get taken away – he must play without talking.
  5. Turn on a Podcast of your pastor, if available. If your pastor’s sermons aren’t online, use another broadcast. Have your Bible out and you sit still and listen.
  6. When/if your child starts talking, try not to answer with words, but put your finger to your lips and shake your head “no.” Don’t answer a question for those five minutes. Give a couple silent warnings the first couple of days, but after two heads shaken, take the toy away as you promised you would do. If the child throws a fit or screams, take him out of the room, go to his bedroom or yours and remind him what you’re asking. If he continues to disobey you may need to apply loving discipline to correct his disobedience. The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Prov 29:15
  7. When the timer goes off, discuss how they did. “You talked to Mommy, but remember, this is Quiet Time; time to listen to pastor preach. Or, “Yay! You sat so quietly and played! I’m so proud of you and so is God! We got to listen to Pastor preach and that makes God happy!”
  8. The next day and for the whole week, keep up with the five minutes. The next week extend it to ten minutes. Keep at this until you’ve worked up to 30 minutes. A three or four year-old will be able to sit and play without food for thirty minutes. They’ll wiggle, they’ll sigh, but don’t give in and don’t give up! It will be worth it!
  9. If you have more than one child, have a separate bag for each child. Give only one toy at a time, and have each child on either side of you. Be consistent! If they talk, warn once, then remove the toy.
  10. If they throw a fit, discipline in another room, but then bring them back in and complete the five minutes. This will be the same routine once you take them into the service at church.  If they disobey, you must discipline, and it shouldn’t be just that you go out and play in the foyer – that’s what they want! Either discipline, then bring them back to the back row where you were wisely seated, or sit out there with your arms around them so they are not able to get down and play.
  11. Make this training time at home something to look forward to – not a miserable drudgery. That can be accomplished by the activity you choose to put into the bag, but again – just a quiet toy – not treats or lots of toys. Make it biblical, if you can, so they’re also “hearing about God.”

Who knows? You might even glean some wonderful Truths during your at home Quiet Times! It won’t be long – just a couple of months until you’re able to sit in church and actually enjoy the service. You know what? Your child will enjoy it a whole lot more, too!

Any questions? Any other suggestions?

Lovingly,

Family Friday – The Most Godly Home

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This roller coaster of Foster parenting or (grand-parenting!) is not for the faint of heart!  You strap yourself in tight and keep your eyes Upward, knowing that a sovereign God will keep you safe and secure as you guide these little ones and pray about their future.

As I mentioned earlier, my daughter and son-in-law are foster parents to baby boys.  We don’t know what their future will be.  Who will be awarded their custody to care and provide for them all their lives?  Who will teach them of Christ?  Will anyone?  Will they be adopted by family?  Friends?  There are just so many painful questions.

One Sunday a friend left church and told me that she is praying about the future of these sweet little babies, and the way she is praying is this:

Let these children be given to the home
that will point them the most to Christ.

I told her that that was a perfect request!  That’s what we want for these little guys!

Later in the week, the babies were in my home.  I was caring for them.  And then my friend’s prayer request popped into my head.  It made me stop and ask myself, Is what I’m doing today providing right now so that this is the home that is pointing them the most to Christ?

What about you, Mom?  Pretend your child’s future was in the balance and someone was praying that request for your child.  Would YOU be awarded custody of them because of all you did yesterday to point them to the Lord?  Were your words so edifying and Word-filled that they couldn’t help but learn more of your God?  That’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?

That thought made me “get my act together” that day!  I sang Bible songs, I quoted Bible verses while I fed them their bottles.  I even told them Bible stories, even though their ears can hear, but their minds can’t understand.  I wanted my home to be the most godly place in their lives!  That should be any Christian parent’s ambition and joy – whether or not their future is in the balance.  One Day we will give account for how well we taught and trained the children the Lord gave us.

Why not strive today to make your home the most Godly place!

Refresh your child’s spiritual heart,

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