Archives for February 2012

And The Winner IS….

A big shout out to all our readers.  You all encourage us.  We love you and thanks for embarking on this journey with us.  The winner of our necklace giveaway is:  APRIL RUSH!  Congratulations!  Hey you lucky dog,  I will be sending the necklace your way!  We assign a number to each entry and then use www.random.org for choosing a winner.  Thanks everyone.  We will have another give away coming along soon!

We hope you all have a great Wednesday!  For some reason I like the keep clam and carry on craze.  This one actually slows my racing heart down a bit.  Love to you all.  Jen.

Parenting: Life is Messy

Written By Amy

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

I have heard and said the phrase “Life is messy” a lot lately.  The description fits.  One of the benefits of being in mid-life (40) is that you begin to gain some perspective on the realities and expectations of life…one of them I have decided is this…life is just messy.  Whether it’s financial troubles, a chip in your windshield, relational conflicts, failed endeavors, mistakes, a sick child unexpectedly home from school, or actually a literally messy house, the idea of clean lines, neatly wrapped up packages of relationships, and no unexpected alterations of your plans is just not true living in the world.

Yet, I keep thinking it is.  For example, I was daydreaming at work last week  that when I got home I was going to gather all my happy children, we were going to clean up the mess of Valentine’s cards, playing cards strewn around from magic tricks last night, dishes, socks, wrappers on the carpet, water bottles in weird places, etc.  I was also planning working out at the rec. center, organizing the games in Jon’s office and possibly putting clean sheets on the bed in the guest room…all before dinner!

Well I was home an hour and a half and not one of those things had happened.  Hunter was asleep on the couch when I walked in which his Dad informed me was because of a headache.  Maddie was at the rec center with friends and called to ask if she could make cookies at one of their houses (to which I said yes–how can I say no to baking??– while watching my hope of the house getting picked up and her chore of walking the dog today go out the window). Hannah walked in the door with a heavy heart about feeling left out at school, so we talked that out for a half an hour or so.  I then woke Hunter up to realize he was going to be in a nap daze probably until dinner…hence no picking up.

At 5:20 pm I had about 20 minutes before I need to start dinner….hmmm, organize games or make bed?  Exercise?

My well-laid plans were once again foiled, because I am a mom, and life as a mom rarely goes according to plan.  Like an overflowing river in a downpour, life runs all different directions, and usually not the one I anticipated.

Inevitably, I will attempt this crazy cycle again, making plans, them not working out quite like I thought.  Yet, some progress of my own agenda will be made, and the rest will be chalked up to helping my kids along their own paths with love and care.

It is during these times of messiness that God speaks into my life a message of stability and predictability.  He has plans for me and my family also, but his are solid and unchanging (thankfully!) and often not the same as my own.

I spend so much energy making my own plans, and yet, if I take the time to seek God each day and ask him HIS plans for me that very  moment, I will possibly see a whole different picture.  I also can rest in the fact that God will intervene and insure, because I have asked this of him, that his own will is fulfilled in my life (for example the talk I was able to have with Hannah that day).  Instead of frustration that my agenda was thwarted, I find peace in that what God wanted done was accomplished.  Period.

God is good, and his plans for me are good.  If I ask his direction for the small and big in life I will find my head beating against the wall a little less.  My guess is he would scratch off most of my “To Do” list with a red marker and what would be left would be the most valuable items, the ones that have eternal significance, the ones that tend to get buried beneath the pile I create.  Messy living room, so be it!  I want the plans of the Lord to prevail in my life.

Psalm 33:11
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Be Available

Written by Jen

I was just thinking about the quality time I had with my mom growing up in the car as she was driving me from one thing to the next.  I was thinking about this as I was talking on the phone driving my youngest to school.  I really don’t want my kids to remember me always being on the phone with friends.  That time is so precious.  Mastering the impulses generated by a smart phone is difficult for me.  I feel a magnetic draw between my hand, my phone and my brain.  If I am not careful it will rob me of some of the most treasured moments of my life.  In the Bible, John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH. 

 

 

Give Back: A Special neighbor and no-sew blankets

Written By Amy

When we moved into our neighborhood, we had no idea that just a few houses away would live someone who would become an amaing blessing to our family.  Sandra is a kind, generous, beautiful, wise and an incredibly successful woman.  What impresses me most about her, however, is her heart for our kids.

When she is not traveling world-wide for business, you can find our children just hanging out at her house, going on ice-cream dates, baking, sleepovers, or even jumping on her bed (so I hear!).  Sandra saves a stash of HUGE candy bars just for our kids and their friends on Halloween.  She makes Hannah, Hunter, and Maddie feel so special and loved, which is an amazing blessing to Jon and me.

Each year she invites our kids, and her other special adopted-kids, Austin and Ashley over for a service project (see what I mean?).  This year it was making blankets for The Children’s Hospital.

 

                        Ashley, Sandra, Hannah, Maddie, Austin, Hunter

 

After the blankets were made, we took them down to The Children’s Hospital in Denver.  The kids got to hand-deliver them to the donation office and learn about who would receive the blankets.

 

If you are looking for a simple and fun project for your kids, try this!  You can donate them to homeless shelters, make baby ones for NIC-U’s, women’s shelters or hospitals….or give them as gifts to loved ones.

Here are the directions for making no-sew blankets:

1. Purchase fleece…about a yard and a half per side–bigger or smaller depending on the size of the blanket you want to make.  I like to have one side a pattern and the other side a coordinating solid.

2.  Lay the fabric out on the floor, one piece on top of the other.  Trim the edges so they line up.  On each corner cut out a notch about  5 inches by 5 inches  (about the length of the strips you will be cutting and tying).

3.  Begin on one side and cut even length and width strips all along the edge.  You will continue this along all four sides.

4. Tie each of the strips from the top and bottom together in a knot. When all strips are tied, you are done!

 

Sandra, we thank you for your generous and serving heart, and the example you are to all of us of what’s important in life.

PS: check out our blog site to see information about our neclkace give-away!

 

 

A Lesson in Mud-Slinging

Written By Jen

I am feeling a little down this week.  Tired, sick, my hubby was out of town, and I am catching some heat.  You know, one of those weeks:)

I heard a story recently of a man who got in a fight about how to stack wood on a trailer with his father and has refused to speak to him ever since.  The son has not let his children and his parents enjoy their loving relationship, even though they live in the same town.  I was saddened and decided to pray that God would humble this man, in hopes his relationships would be restored.  I have been.  God humbles the proud.

In the meantime, guess who God is humbling?  Yep, he is humbling me.  I am thankful because the Bible says in Psalm 25:9 “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.”  The humbling process is painful for me.  I guess if it is hurting me to be humbled, it is a sign I was becoming increasingly arrogant.  Sadly, you may not be surprised.

I have a LONG list of things, just this week, that have happened (so far) that bummed me out, and God is using them to show me sin in my life that needs work.  I am only going to discuss one thing from the long list today, but it includes mocking, ridiculing, scoffing, slandering, honest rebuking and encouragement.  All of these from different sources, all of them have been brought to my attention.  Ouch.  It is clear to me the Lord is humbling me.

First, I shared a personal concern in confidence, and honestly felt a little vulnerable about it.   In turn, someone turned it around on me, and has been poking fun and calling me names about it to others.  If my kids told me someone was calling them a name I would say, “You are defined by God not men.  Let it go.”  This is true and good for me too, but it’s bugging me.  My junior high responses that ran through my mind was to: 1. Confront 2. Tattle 3. Be silent 4. Avoid 5. Quit sharing 6. Do it right back.  I knew these were not right or good in this case.  I needed a little help on responding appropriately and maturely.

Here is what I did.  My initial response was to be bothered.  Second, I asked my husband and an honest friend if they see this character trait (name I was called) in my life.  I asked them what it looked like in me? How they thought I could work on it?  Next, I asked God about it.  Lord is this true of me?  Lord what should I do about this somebody?  The truth is I could not confront this person because I knew I have said worse, much worse.  God was using this to convict me of times I am a “name caller”.  God was using this to humble me, to challenge me and to force me to desire to change and grow.  He was showing me the big deal is not what was done to me, but what actually I have done.  Humbling hurts.  The fourth thing I did was use it as a lesson for my kids.  When I sat down at dinner with them I shared with them I was a little sad because a somebody called me a name.  They wanted to know who and what.  I did not say and I think this made the point more clear.  I challenged them, “Lets not call names.”  We all need to work on it.  Of course they agreed and then found plenty of examples, “You mean like dummy, stupid, long nose…”  “Yes.” I said as my husband piped in, “That’s enough examples.”  I can hear conversations running through my mind that include this phrase, “She is so ___”,  “He is such a ____”.  Even as adults we get bothered and rubbed wrong by people around us.  Of course we do.  None of us are perfect.  When you put a bunch of imperfect people together it can get messy.

I am finding God is asking me to stop judging.  It is gong to take some work and probably many more embarrassing moments to humble this girl.  The closer a ‘somebody’ is to us, the more it hurts when we war.  I am sad that a relationship can digress to mud slinging, name-calling; the Bible has this really big word for it, slandering.  Slandering is to take down the reputation of another.

I do not want to be that kind of a somebody.  God is showing me I can be.  I kept asking the Lord, “What do I do?”  Knowing the junior high responses of 1-6 was not a good plan.  His answer for me was in Psalm 51.  Jen, I want you to stop rebelling against me.  I have 2 things I want you to do, REPENT (about face and end this behavior in your life) and FORGIVE (because I have forgiven you of MUCH so you too must forgive).  That’s it.

I know that is what the gospel is all about, forgiveness and repentance, but I have found this new freedom in it.  God is using life to humble me and draw me near to him.  Humility hand in hand with repentance, forgiveness and an everlasting love, is GOOD.  The next conversation I had with God went like this, “Lord you are right, I slander people, I call them names and I judge them harshly.  Please forgive me.  I do not want to do this any more.  Help me to change.  Rewrite my heart and my mind.  Make it more like yours. Thank you that your love for me endures forever. Thank you for washing me white as snow. Thank you for the amazing love of Jesus dying on a cross for my sins.  I need you. Amen.”

When someone slanders us it can make us bitter or we can take it to the feet of God and let him use it to humble us and lead us to repentance, forgiveness, his mercy, his grace, his love, he will clean us up, hold us, wipe our tears and rain down HIS love for us.

Maybe it’s just what I needed.

 

A FEW NOTES:

REPENT :

Luke 5:32 “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

Romans 2:3-5 “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

FORGIVE:

Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Psalm 51 from The Message (I am so thankful for God’s Word. Drink it up!)

1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.

4-6 You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.

16-17 Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.

18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
repair Jerusalem’s broken-down walls.
Then you’ll get real worship from us,
acts of worship small and large,
Including all the bulls
they can heave onto your altar!

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