When your little girl comes home singing Wrecking Ball

Last night as I was cooking dinner I overheard Sophie singing lyrics to Wrecking Ball and when I asked her about it she said they’ve been singing it on the playground at school. I asked her if she knew much about that song and who sang it. She said she knew it was Miley Cyrus and so sometimes they changed the words. So she started singing the Jesus version of Wrecking Ball which says something about coming in with Jesus. I admit I grinned inside a little when I heard this. It was an honest attempt to make something tainted seem a little better. Adding Jesus words was supposed to make it all better.

So we talked about Miley Cyrus. I told her how Miley Cyrus sang Wrecking Ball – naked and riding a wrecking ball. Sophie about spit out her sucker. She was shocked to say the least. She said, “Why would anyone do that?!!! And how did you even see that, Mom?” I told her I saw it on the news. And then I got really scared and thought to myself did I just do the stupidest thing ever by telling her those details? Possibly but I wanted her to know whose lyrics she was singing. And to consider……does she really want to model that kind of person even if it’s just in song.  Randy and I talked to her this morning about how important it is that we look up to Christ honoring role models. We didn’t ban her from singing the song but we both are hoping she’ll be singing  a new tune today on the playground.

 

 

Easter Sunday

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We had a wonderful day celebrating our risen Savior. Our morning started out incredibly sweet with a powerful lesson learned through scripture. The washing of feet by Jesus to his disciples. I love that my kids were taught how Jesus set the example of humility through washing his disciples feet. Because you know what? Almost the entire elementary Sunday School class thought their feet would be washed by their parents. But they got to learn the backwards model – Jesus being servant to all even though King of all. It was really special.

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And then our choir and praise team led us in some powerful worship. It was really awesome. The preaching was fantastic and then three elementary age girls were baptized -all three of them are very good friends of our family so it was just really special.

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Our immediate family lives 6 hours away and we miss them so much on special days like this but we have really grown to love having people over from church to celebrate with. Today was a lot of fun.

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Cracked me up that we had a 6th grade and an 11th grade boy that didn’t feel “too old” to hunt eggs. Ha!

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This picture of the kids hanging out under the hood of the car cracks me up. Our athletic director hid the golden egg in the grill of the car. The kids knew they were “hot” but couldn’t find the egg anywhere. They all came out from under the car with all kinds of grime but no egg. He had to go under there and get it for them.

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Of course we couldn’t have a big day like this without some drama. Sophie fell through the heat vent? Not sure how exactly. She was looking for a toy that she thought fell through the vent and when she took the grate off and stood on the wood underneath it she fell through. Our youth pastor’s wife grabbed her and pulled her out before she went all the way down thankfully. It scared Sophie to death and she got scraped up pretty good but she’s fine.

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I hope you had a wonderful Easter Sunday celebrating the fact that Jesus is alive forevermore!

 

Don’t rely solely on your invitation to Easter Sunday church

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about church and evangelism lately. Maybe it’s because Easter is here. We’ve traditionally seen church attendance rise on Easter Sunday and so we throw out token Easter invites in hopes someone will come to church with us. We might even sprinkle church invites throughout other weeks to our co-workers and neighbors but as soon as the invitation to attend church has been offered we suddenly feel off the hook. The ball is in their court. I’ve done my job because after all they’ve got to get to church to hear the Gospel but I can’t force them to go.

I read an article by Ed Stetzer this week that was interesting. He says the following:

“For several decades we have focused on come and see, invest and invite, bring your friends to church by attracting them with a great program,” says Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.  “We call that attractional ministry. Now we are facing the reality that fewer unchurched people are willing to visit a Christian church. This should compel us to embrace a go and tell – or incarnational – approach”, he says. Should we invite our friends to church? Sure. But should we be, do and tell the gospel to people in culture? You bet. It’s not only biblical, but it is even more essential today as our culture grows increasingly resistant to the church. While unchurched people are open to relationships, few church members are intentionally investing time developing relationships with non-Christians”

It is not enough to just invite people to church. Like it or not, church attendance and commitment is on a rapid decline. Instead of looking down on people for not accepting our invitations to church what if we prayerfully and strategically share the Gospel with those around us ourselves.

Getting unsaved friends/neighbors in our church doors can’t be the primary goal. Opening our eyes to those around us and sharing Jesus from our own experiences with Him and what we know to be true of God from scripture needs to be our starting point. It doesn’t matter if you just got saved yesterday. Your starting point is simply telling people around you what happened yesterday even if you find yourself saying things like, ‘I can’t totally explain it.’  We won’t ever be able to fully explain the Holy Spirit so the answer is not to avoid conversations about Jesus just because we can’t explain everything about Him or His Spirit. We simply start with what we’ve received from Jesus at this point in life and we share that piece even if it seems uncomfortable and even if we can’t fully explain it.

As we grow in our walk with Christ by reading scripture and seeing His Spirit work inside us then we have our next thing to share. And sometimes it doesn’t even come in the form of “sharing”. Sometimes it’s a change of heart through spiritual growth and an opportunity for explanation arises. Maybe it’s the fact that in the break room you don’t participate in the typical gossip session about your boss because what you read in the book of James changed your heart. You’re now guarding your tongue because your eyes were opened to the fact that even such a small portion of our bodies can set the whole course for our life – for good or for bad. So now instead of participating in the daily gossip fest you decide to say something positive about your boss. Your friends take notice because that’s not how you normally are and they ask you about it. You have a chance to share what the Holy Spirit is revealing to you through his word. At first they might think you’re weird. You may get the roll of eyes and comments about being holier than thou. That’s okay though as long as you don’t really feel you’re better than they are. Don’t let this stop you from sharing Christ when you are asked about something that is a direct result of Christ working in your life.

So lets keep inviting our friends, neighbors and coworkers to church because church is a beautiful design by God and nothing can compare to healthy Body life. But before we do let’s ask ourselves what else we’ve done to show and share Christ ourselves. Don’t save it for the preacher on Sunday mornings because stats are showing that he’s not preaching to most of the unsaved people in our communities. We are.

 

 

 

 

What I love about our kids school

We are like any school out there – we aren’t perfect but we are working hard to do things well. I say “we” like I teach there or something. I don’t. I’m not even on a board, committee or anything. I volunteer my time in certain areas and I support our staff through prayer every week and I am a huge fan of our school for many reasons. Recently my heart has just been so full with appreciation and admiration for our teachers and school staff.

We are transitioning our current playground into an outdoor learning environment and the kids are already having a blast just in the transition phase. An outdoor learning center might sound all granola and boring but it’s so not. The kids LOVE it. It’s all natural stuff that kids play with…..sticks, big rocks, trees, gardens, etc. There is strategic planning and placement of these natural materials to give kids the opportunity to play like kids used to play back in the day before video games and electronics. The preschool director of our school has been researching this type of playground and has visited other facilities that incorporate an outdoor learning center. She also applied for a grant to help with the process of making our outdoor learning environment. It thrills my heart as I sit in the carpool line to watch the boys build forts, dig in the newly churned dirt and the new big rocks that were brought in. And no need to feel sorry of the girls because they love it equally. Sophie informed me last week that she is the weapon builder of some club. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly the desired goal of the natural learning center but oh well. I’ve been impressed at how quickly they’ve trained the kids not to hit each other with the sticks or turn them into swords.

I’m also loving the creativity of our teachers and the new ideas they’re incorporating. The elementary school is doing a live wax museum and it’s really awesome sounding. I just got the papers this week and am still learning more about it. But I’m super excited. It will be a lot of work but a really exciting and fun project for the kids. They have to research their “character” and come up with a monologue that they will memorize and present when their “button” is pushed during the museum night. They also are provided with a large poster board that they will paint or color as their backdrop. And then they have to have one prop of some sort. Our characters are Pocahontas and Houdini. I am really loving this.

Our son came home talking about the things he was learning in regards to computer and cell phone safety the other day. He said, “Mom, when I’m done with this course I’ll be ready for a cell phone. Just thought you’d want to know that.” It did my heart good to know he was hearing safety precautions from another source besides me and his Dad. He doesn’t even have a phone yet and won’t be getting one until he needs it. Although I did have to admit it was a nice subtle try on his part to get one now that he has been trained in safety. Ha! But I don’t think we can talk about these issues too much with our kids. And I’m glad our school is taking these things seriously.

I also admire the fact that our teachers are followers of Christ and are committed to their calling no matter the cost. They do what they do because they love God and they love their students through the strength of Christ. It shows through their teaching, through their love for their kids and through the prayers they cover their students with. As teacher appreciation week comes up in a few weeks I can’t help but approach it with an overflowing heart of thankfulness and gratitude to both God and our teachers.

 

 

What went down in Atlanta

We spent Spring Break in Atlanta at my Mom’s house and we all got struck with the stomach flu – not fun! Bless my Mom’s heart……she was downtown Atlanta at the Aquarium with the kids when she got it. It was just her and the kids and I felt so.bad.for her. We gave it to my brother and sister and their spouses as well. Thankfully we all got over it eventually and still got to do some fun stuff. As Mom said, “This is a memory we’ll never forget!” Well that’s for flippin’ sure.

Somehow in between the rounds of sickness I managed to make a quick trip  to Nordstrom Rack and found this piece of scrumptiousness…..

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My previous bad experience with purse shopping had me taking a long hiatus from shopping. I never expected to run upon a lime green MK bag at an amazing price but I did. Whoo-hoo! Please don’t make any sassy comments about it being pea green or me being extremely safe at night because of the electrifying color because all these thoughts went through my head pre-purchase but I risked it being a more happy lemon-lime bag than all those other scary things. It sort of reminds me of the neon green 80′s espirit pants I begged my Mom to buy me in 7th grade. She warned me they were “very green” but I swore up and down I’d wear them….every day if she’d let me. It took being at school all of 5 minutes the next day and a boy saying something about me being greener than a green light and I went home and hid those suckers in the back of the closet hoping my Mother would never find them. But she did. And I wore them a second time and begged my teacher to have class outside so I could sit in the grass so nobody would notice my pants but she wouldn’t go for it and I was scarred for life all because of the neon green pants I thought I had to have. And now in some sick sort of pyscho way I am reverting back to my childhood but with a huge shartruse bag instead of espirit pants. Hey, at least you’ll see me coming folks. And this is what happens when I spend a week in Atlanta – I come back with bags and outfits that just come a tad too close to Circus wearing getups.

 

 

 

I Like Giving

I’ve heard about this book the last several months and was so excited to see it on my list of books to review through Blogging for Books. I Like Giving by Brad Formsma is a collection of stories that will inspire, challenge and warm your heart. Brad’s premise is that when giving is our idea it makes us like giving. He states, “My hope is that you will give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, but in freedom and joy.”

I loved reading the stories of every day people who chose to embrace a nudging of the Holy Spirit to give of their time, money and resources and how the impact of that giving, no matter how small or large, made such a huge impact. One of my favorite statements in this book was Brad saying, “I’ve never met an angry and bitter generous person.” He talks about how much giving does for our own souls. How we were created to give of ourselves to others.

Our idea of a book on giving might make us feel like we’ll go away feeling guilty and beat up on for not giving enough. But this book is different. As stories are shared you find yourself saying, “I could do that. I want to do that!” And there is a feeling of great hope and excitement. My eyes were opened and my heart challenged in some specific ways as the author shares practical tips on giving.

Oh, and I think you’ll love the I like giving website. The short films are awesome. My favorite one is “I like being 98″

 

 

Nothing like cousin love!

We’ve had the best weekend with Randy’s sister and her family. They are missionaries in Palau and are finishing out their 9 month furlough in the States. There’s nothing like cousin love!

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Sophie and Emma are a few years apart but play together like best friends. They slept together and stayed up late talking almost every night.

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Posing as mannequin’s at William Sonoma and snapping a shot with the elephant at Anthropology was totally fun.

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A huge highlight for Sophie was getting her ears pierced with all the cousins and family with her. She’s been wanting to have them pierced for a long time and we were just waiting for the right time. It worked out perfect. They were so sweet to join along and support her. She was so excited to have Emma with her.

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Going to the pet store was especially fun for Mitchell and Ashley – they both love animals so much and are similar in so many ways. They had a great time together.

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The cousins are extremely talented musically and so the entire family sings beautifully. They played at church Sunday morning and sang. Our church really enjoyed hearing about their ministry in Palau and loved hearing them sing. They will leave for Palau in May and so this is the last week we will see them for another 3-4 years. It’s a sad goodbye but with Skype and email we will be able to stay connected thankfully. We are so thankful for this family time we had.

 

Crammed dishwashers and other cool stuff

Mitchell and Sophie are learning how to load the dishwasher these days. Emphasis on learning hence the entire 12 piece place setting of glasses crammed into one load. Randy and I were talking away at the kitchen table soaking up the great feeling of having our children clean the kitchen. This is totally new for them. They’ve helped with setting and clearing the table for a long time but the rinsing the dirty dishes and loading the dishwasher is new. It never occurred to me to explain that you can’t just stack glasses on top of each other.

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So when I opened this up this morning I cracked up and realized I’ve got to take the time to instruct a little better. But we were just so excited that they were doing it. I think we discovered a few weeks ago that they knew how to do this. They were keeping it a secret from us this whole time. Ha!

We are taking a “Financial Peace” class by Dave Ramsey and we are re-learning some good stuff. One of the things he encourages is for parents to give “commissions” instead of allowances to kids. Commissions (or money) for certain chores.

We’ve always had our kids do chores but they’ve never been paid for them. Their only source of money is for grades (we pay for A’s and B’s) and Birthday or Christmas. So this will be a new thing for them and us. We’re having to “budget” a category to pay our kids for their chores. Ha! That is just wrong feeling. But we’re going to do it. It won’t be a lot but it will be more than what they’ve ever had before.  We ordered this kit and will be talking about it with the kids at our next Family Meeting. I’m very impressed with it and think for the $20.00 that it cost it’s totally worth the life long principles our kids will be learning.

I want to share with you a huge provision of the Lord through some friends of ours. The rug you see below is a new rug that got damaged in delivery (the backing of the rug was cut). The company replaced it with a perfect condition one and told our friends to keep the other one or do whatever they wanted to with it. So they called us up and asked if we wanted it. Oh.my.word!

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Such a huge blessing. It is beautiful and we are still in shock over the whole thing. The kids pretty much just rolled around all over it the night they brought it over to us. You’d think their bare feet had never felt carpet before but indeed we do have a few other rugs in our house. We are just still thanking God for this gracious gift given to us.

Kitchen Table Talk – sharing the Gospel with others

We’ve been talking about ideas for our families at their kitchen tables this week. And I’m pretty sure that part of this next idea is something you might already do with your family. Dye Easter eggs. But what I want to get us thinking about is how we could do this and bring in some neighborhood kids or unchurched school friends to do it with us because what better time of year to start a conversation about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ than Easter!

I’m sure you’ve heard of Resurrection Eggs right? You can get them here or here or here. I love these eggs and have found them to be an incredible evangelistic tool not only for me but for my kids as well. Let your kids listen to you tell the story and then give them the chance to tell part of the story or the entire story. It’s why we’re here on this earth – to spread the Good News! And it can happen at our Kitchen Tables after school one day or on a Saturday. Doesn’t even have to be Easter weekend. So maybe this year consider dying Easter eggs at your kitchen table and then telling the story of Easter with Resurrection eggs. I’ve been amazed at the last few years how God has brought people into our path to share these eggs with. I’m not sure what this will look like for us this year but I’m praying and anticipating the opportunity to share Jesus with some neighboring kids.

 

Kitchen Table Talk – the power of affirmation

I was cooking dinner one night when I was struck with an idea as I thought about an area in which our son had shown great improvement. We would have a Family Awards Night at the dinner table and he would receive an award for this area of growth.

It sounds ridiculous but it really is fun. You think of something one of your children has accomplished, excelled at or did that you want to affirm and recognize and you give them a small award. We do this for one of the kids at a time because we want them to learn to be happy for each other and not feel like they “have to get an award” just because the other one did. This is hard to do because you see the disappointment in the beginning of the one who didn’t get an award but how many times in life are they going to face this very thing? Why not help prepare them at the kitchen table for it in a tiny way. Seriously, the kitchen table is such an incredible training ground.

The award is meant to be sort of silly. Like one time I made an award out of tin foil and straws and it was stupid looking but Mitchell loved it. Of course he would. He’s my eccentric, quirky one. And then one time I gave Sophie a pack of gum because she would’ve rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at the freak-show tin foil creation. You could do whatever you wanted for the award and the award could be for anything positive you want to point out. It could be for catching your child sharing or serving another family member. It could be for a great test grade or improvement in a certain area. I use an index card or construction paper and write out a name for the award in chicken scratch “Creativity Award” or “Standing up for what’s right Award”  presented to: ____________   on such and such a date. One time we did it and someone yelled, “Speech, Speech!”  Mitchell stood on his chair and thanked everyone for coming out (the whopping four of us) and how happy he was to receive the award. Ha! Impromptu moments are the best, are they not?

Something like this is especially good for those of us who are not natural affirmers. I am one of those people. I’m working on it though and this is just one way that forces me to communicate what I see and think in my head but don’t always say out loud. A lot goes on in my head but it stays there. And sometimes that’s a really good thing. Ha! Because I could give all the material a joke writer would need for blond jokes. Seriously, it’s not even funny how true that is. But at least I know it’s true.

Let me leave us with this reminder from scripture today:

“The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

What are we speaking over our children at our tables?