The saran wrap game is awesome!!!

Today I’m blogging from the patio of a condo overlooking the beautiful beach and ocean in Destin, Florida. As a family we’ve been coming to the same place for more than 20 years. Eating at the same places and enjoying some of our favorite same activities. But this year we did something we’ve never done before. We did that crazy awesome saran wrap game you’ve probably seen floating all over Facebook. You guys! This is the best game ever. So much fun. I’m posting a snippet from our game last night. It got pretty competitive and I’d never throw my family under the bus and say they cheated every time my sister was supposed to pass the ball to me but my sister did that yes she did. Held it for a whopping two -three seconds when it was supposed to be passed. I figured out the strategy on the last lap around and grabbed it from her in time. In time for a snickers to fall out.

So what you do is get a bunch of stuff – candy bars, one dollar bills, mouth wash, gift card, gum, etc. and you wrap it up in saran wrap building a ball as you wrap. You can do all one very long piece of saran wrap if you want or you can intermittently start new sections of saran wrap. We did that. It makes it harder to have to “find the start” to a new wrap section. You can add packing tape to make it harder. Or make people wear gloves. We played where you had to roll doubles with two dice. But this wasn’t working out so well and it looked like a certain little girl who started the game out was going to get ALL the goods so we quickly changed it to just having to roll a six. This worked much better.

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This would be fun at Christmas for sure!

4 ways to help your kids minister to the elderly

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In a world where gaming, selfie-perfecting and Instagram following consumes our kids, as parents, we need to be proactive in helping them become outward faced.

None of us are born this way. Until Jesus comes in and rescues us from ourselves we will be hell bent on serving ourselves. And that’s the beauty of Jesus. He radically transforms. Whether or not your child has a relationship with Jesus at this point there are some things we can do to help them become more aware of people around them. And the nursing home is a great place to start.

Trust me, we don’t have this figured out by any means. Just ask me about the time one of our kiddos asked an elderly lady, “Are you going to die soon?” Oh dear. But we have learned a few things and maybe they’ll help you as you seek for ways to help your kids become more outward faced.

A great place to start is your local nursing home. You really can just show up and start visiting people. Going around 11:00am seems to be a good time because most of the residents are up but are not eating lunch quite yet. And just a simple knock on the door is fine – poke your head in and just say something like, “You don’t know us but we came by for a visit if you’re up to it.”  Most everyone is so welcoming of it. A few things to remember upon your nursing home visits with kids:

  1. Pray before you go. Ask God to give ya’ll a heart to love the people you come in contact with on that visit. It might mean listening to a long story. Or telling a story to a very lonely depressed soul, or going to the store to get something they need. Being wide open to what God has in mind – not what we have planned – will be well worth it even if it seems uncomfortable at the time.
  2. Embrace the uncomfortable. And there will be uncomfortable times. Like when you child says, “Ewwww, what’s that smell?!” upon walking in a room. You can’t prepare them for everything and so just take these moments as teachable moments for the ride home. And don’t let the uncomfortable moments keep you from going back. Like the time Ms. Linda gave me the card back that I made for her. She didn’t want it. My kids eyes were bugged eyed in shock and disbelief. Ha! It was pretty funny actually. Satan would love to throw anything our way to make us give up on being ministers of mercy and compassion.
  3. Speak Truth. There is nothing more powerful than giving someone the Truth of God’s word. Speaking, praying or giving a card of scripture is one of the greatest gifts we could give to someone. We have found that most people love a homemade card. I buy colored 4×6 blank index cards at Michaels or Hobby Lobby when they go 50% off and throw some stickers on there and print off a verse of scripture and glue on the card. Sometimes I’ll handwrite it. And I have a set of verses that I have found great comfort in during times of difficulty or just favorite verses that I go to regularly. These are the various verses I use. And remember we prayed before the visit so I feel certain the right person will get the right card with the Truth of God’s word they need to hear that day. This is how our God works.
  4. Conversation Helps. This is hard for kids. Early on our kids didn’t do much talking. They would give hugs and say Hi but now that they’re older we’re trying to help them move more into initiating conversation. So we talk about what questions they might could ask a person they’re visiting. Or what things they could talk about that would interest the other person. We certainly don’t have this figured out yet. On our last visit I asked this lady pictured above what her advice to Mitchell and Sophie would be. And she gave some excellent advice about minding your parents and finishing school. I want my kids to know there’s a wealth of wisdom in the older generation and we need them. And yeah, they might get some screwy advice if you keep asking that question to everyone you visit in the nursing home but what a great platform to talk about these things with your kids later.

Here’s a few more stories of our visits to the nursing home – some just plain funny and some really sad. Don’t spend too much time on our stories – go build your own and come back and tell me how it went. I would love to hear how it goes.

What made us the “nicest white people ever”

The other side of the window

31 Days: Day 7 – When outreach doesn’t go like you expected

Dear Mom of Camper – They will come home with clean underwear.

Sending your Kid off to Camp 101

It’s true Moms – you can pack those 7 pairs of underwear each in a separate zip lock bag with the outfit your camper is to wear that day and it will most likely come back home in the original packaging.

Isn’t this so nice of them to think of their Moms while away at camp? They don’t want us to have to do laundry when they get back so they just wear the same orange shorts and brown, “life is good” t-shirt all week long interchanged with one bathing suit for swimming in the lake.

True story. Don’t ask me how I know this. (note to in real life readers: please don’t go up to said kid and ask if they’re going to change their underwear at camp this year!)

Sending our kids off to camp is both awesome and scary. Camp has the potential to help our kids grow in some amazing ways. We send our kids to woodlands camp for many different reasons mainly its because we know our kids will have fun, grow and be safe there. So looking back on my years of sending our kids to camp I have a few things to say to new Moms that might be sending their kids off for the first year.

  • Don’t expect them to change into clean clothes every day! Prepare yourself for greasy hair and a stench that you paid big money for upon picking him/her up. Just go ahead and get that air freshener hangy-downy thing for your review mirror for the ride home. And expect to find rocks, bugs and somebody else’s t-shirt when unpacking all those clean clothes. Ha! Oh it’s so fun to see the treasures in their bag when they come home. Not to mention the missing towels and other stuff. This is normal. Your kid just aced the Summer Camp final exam. If your kid comes back with ALL dirty clothes, no missing contents and finished reading his/her summer book then there’s a problem.
  • Pray for your kids while they’re at camp. For their counselor and their cabin mates. For the speakers. For their friends. That God will use this week of camp to take your child one step deeper in their faith journey as well as other areas. Finding a camp that will help you accomplish these goals is important. There are many great ones out there. Research and talk to other parents.
  • Send a care package. Some people go crazy nuts with this and send Christmas in a box to their kids. But it really doesn’t have to be big. Just a simple note or card with candy. My favorite thing to send is practical joke stuff… whoopee cushions, slime, etc. But we’re just a weird family and that kind of stuff rolls with our kids. I send the address of the camp to family members beforehand and they send letters to our kids at camp. They love getting notes from family.
  • Don’t let your fears hold them back from going. Maybe you had a bad experience or no experience going to Summer camp and so you haven’t considered camp for your child. I can understand how it would be difficult to trust again after a bad experience. But Summer camp really can be an awesome experience when you find the right one for your child. Consider letting them go and know that God is watching over them the entire time.

Here’s to a happy Summer camp experience! Dirty clothes and all.

 

 

Navigating New Seasons – 3 Ways to Better Handle Change

Hi friends – today I have the privilege of guest posting over at Kristin Hill Taylor‘s blog. I love Kristin because she’s as down to earth as you get. She loves Jesus and she’s wise. This is why I read her blog every week. You can start reading here or head over her way.

“The internet is a big place, but there’s some good stuff out there. Melody Hester’s blog is one of the gems of the internet. We connected through link ups on various blogs, and I’m glad she’s a faithful part of the #ThreeWordWednesday community.

Her words here today about how to better handle change speak directly to my heart. Embracing the adventure of new seasons and making my expectations more flexible has been an ongoing process. I’m grateful for Melody’s encouragement – both today specifically and in general.

In preparation for this topic I decided to start by asking my husband to give me his thoughts about how I handle change.

It went something like this:

Me: Honey, how do you think I handle change and new seasons?

The hubs: *dead silence*

Me: * waiting patiently for him to expound on how awesome I do change*

The hubs: *still quiet ten minutes later*

Me: Alrighty then, since the silence is speaking volumes how about I ask it this way, “What could I do to become better at handling change and new seasons in life?”

And then we both erupted in laughter because we both know I’m not the world’s best at handling change. I’m not the best at it, but I am learning some valuable things about change.

To continue reading this post hop on over to Kristin’s blog.

3 ways to overcome a fear of praying out loud

Okay let’s get super real here and confess that sometimes praying out loud can be intimidating even if you’ve been attending church forever. It doesn’t have to be but we start overthinking the process of talking to God in front of others and fear we can mess it up. We fear what we say might not be the right thing or good enough. Or maybe we think we don’t have a place in audible prayer among our churches or communities. “That’s for the pastors and men of the church.” All these are misconceptions that satan loves to throw our way in hopes that we’ll remain silent even though there’s a strong prayer in our hearts.

I don’t want to dismiss silent prayer. Or praying in agreement with the other person who is praying aloud. This is just as important and powerful in our times of prayer with other people. I don’t care if you come to a prayer meeting every single time and never utter a word but you are praying in your heart with those around you. This is prayer too.

So why write this post then?

Because I talk to so many women who have a real fear of praying aloud. They want to but are scared to. They won’t come to certain church functions because they’re afraid of being called on to pray. If this is you just know you’re not the only one and I am hoping you will give consideration to learning how to pray out loud. Because I believe praying aloud with a community of believers binds us together and deepens our faith. If you are grappling with your fear of praying aloud may I tell you that you are growing in your faith.  Don’t interpret the wrestle with praying aloud as a bad thing – this is a wonderful thing! Embrace it and ask God to help you with it.

If you’re wanting to pray out loud but are afraid consider these three things to help. 

1.) Say aloud the prayers in your head. When you’re driving and you’re thinking in your heart and asking God to help, heal, intervene, etc…..say it out loud instead. Pray aloud when you’re by yourself and begin to form a habit of praying aloud by yourself.

2.) Pray Scripture. Did you know that when we pray scripture we are praying the perfect will of God? It’s HIS words. And praying them back to Him is powerful. An example would be Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” You can pray that verse aloud and that is your simple audible prayer. You could even read it out of your Bible if you can’t remember it. Maybe you want to add the context of what you’re praying about afterwards. Thank you that your words says, “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Would you please help so and so as they start their new job to remember this Truth. That you will give them the strength they need. Amen.”

3.) Picture God as you talk to him. Prayer is talking to God and listening to God. If you can say it you can pray it. It’s a conversation. And even though our conversation is with a Holy and powerful unseen God it is also with the One who died for us and who longs to be in relationship with us. Instead of picturing yourself praying to the “Powerful Grand Oz” and being fearful picture going to the person who loved you enough to put his life up for yours. Your Abba Father. Arms open wide and full of love and grace. This is who you’re talking to.

 

 

Front Porch Tales

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Summer nights are the best. They land us on the front porch eating dessert and telling stories. Just the other night we somehow found ourselves in the middle of a conversation that began with, “Things to never tell the future boyfriend/girlfriend when you bring them over.”

We covered all kinds of hilarity – like the time one of them escaped from their bath and just randomly started hula hooping buck-nekked in the living room.  Yeah, we decided that would be a story NOT to tell when the new friend comes over to meet the family. Of course there were a lot more stories we exchanged. And it was fun. We laughed and cried and we’re enjoying this story telling time on the front porch.

Tonight’s question was, “What was the scariest day of your life?” 

I was shocked by Sophie’s answer and I felt so.bad. It was the April Fool’s day when we woke the kids up at 3am and told them a tornado was coming and we had to hide in the basement. You don’t even have to slap me to tell me that was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. This was her scariest day. Oh my word my heart hurts so bad. And just for the record we were only down there like 2 minutes before we told them it was April Fool’s Day.

And I was surprised by Randy’s answer to this question as well. It was a day I came close to seeing Jesus face to face before an emergency surgery – I didn’t realize how serious this was until later – but it was his scariest day of his life. I had no clue.

I shared a story that my kids didn’t know – a scary time when a man tried to lure me and a friend by offering candy to us in a burlap bag from inside his truck. CREEPY!!!! A great short conversation followed about safety and what to do. What I did – rode my white Huffy home so fast the chain almost flew off. And prayed the entire way never looking back.

So it’s good these times of sitting on the porch and sharing stories. Story is good. If truth be known it’s what our ancestors did more of on their front porches back in the day.

Whether it’s the back porch, stoop, grassy backyard or your dinner table – tell more stories. They bring a family together.

A few prompters to get you going……

Talk about a time you tried something new. What was it? What happened?

Talk about a person you admire, famous or otherwise, who has fought or fights for the freedom of others.

Talk about a time something changed for you, something beyond your control. Have your feelings about this event evolved over time?

Tell about the best day of your life.

Kid Tools: a book that encourages gutsy faith

I’m thrilled at the new release of the second picture book in the Gutsy Girls series!

What is that you say?!

Gutsy Girl’s are ordinary girls who do extraordinary things.

My friend and author Amy Sullivan has taken the life of two missionaries and told their stories to reach children and tweens. The first book was about missionary Gladys Allyward to China. Her second book that released today is about Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie. Amy pointed out to me that we often overlook Betsie in the story of Corrie ten Boom which many of us are already familiar with. She’s right. I couldn’t tell you much about Betsie. So I’m really curious about this great little read for myself.

We had the privilege of having Amy come to our school and teach about Gladys last year. The kids loved her and they now love Gladys. One of their projects was to write a story about a time they were brave for God. And this is what I love about Amy. Her desire in writing these books is to stretch your girl for God. To get her thinking about being brave and gutsy for God. Not many books do that honestly. Instead you read books/articles telling our girls how to be more popular, get more followers, and how to take the best selfie. No thank you, says this Mom.

You’ll find the Gutsy Girl series a breath of fresh air. A tool in your parenting tool box for helping stretch your girl’s faith.

My book is in my Amazon cart at this very moment and Amy is giving away a copy to one lucky winner on the blog today. Whoop Whoop!  Just leave a comment on the blog and you’ll be entered in the drawing – good old fashion name in the hat drawing. Ha! Sometimes I love vintage. Okay, it’s more like I don’t know how to do that plug-in thing without hiring a techy person and I just paid her to add the subscribe button. Yeah, so that’s why.

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Why your child is not my friend

It started four years ago – I’d get Facebook friend requests either from young girls I was mentoring or friends of our son. Not because I’m a cool Mom but maybe because their parents said something like, “Fine, Mr. Fourth Grader, you can have a Facebook account but you have to be friends with the Preacher’s Wife.” They might not even know my name but you know being friends with a Preacher’s Wife makes having an underage Facebook account alright. Ha! I’m kidding. But seriously, I’d get these friend requests and I didn’t know what to do with it.

I didn’t know what to do with it because they were 10 & 11 year olds and this is what Facebook clearly states about having an account at that age:

13 years old

Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

If your underage child created an account on Facebook, you can show them how to delete their account.

If you’d like to report an account belonging to someone under 13, please fill out this form. Note that we’ll promptly delete the account of any child under the age of 13 that’s reported to us through this form.

I liked the idea of being friends with my kids friends on Facebook because you can tell a little about a person from Facebook. I want to get to know my kids friends and Facebook would give me a tiny glimpse into that. Plus it’s just fun to celebrate with people ya know? I love seeing pictures of my kids friends on Facebook.

But my dilemma remained. I decided I wouldn’t friend anyone under the required age of Facebook. And not so much because I was “boycotting” but I didn’t think it would be fair for me to be friends with my kids friends and not allow my own kids to have a Facebook account because of their age.

I continued to decline friend requests – my kids don’t even know this. If they asked me I would tell them. But I don’t want them to get a judgey attitude towards their friends because they have a Facebook account. Or to hate me because I won’t let them have one although it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I don’t judge their parents for allowing them to have one. That’s their choice. And honestly in some ways I wish my kids had a Facebook or Instagram account before they were 13 so they could have more experience navigating social media. But the simple principle is this: play by the rules even when everyone around you doesn’t. It’s hard to teach our kids to stand up for what is right when we help them go around what is right even in the small things. Especially in the small things.

So please don’t be offended if I don’t friend your child on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t like your kid. Because truth is I really do – a lot. And I promise I won’t be offended or judge you for making a personal choice I am not making for my kids. And we can still be friends – in real life.

 

4 Things I learned in May

One of my favorite authors and bloggers, Emily P. Freeman, inspires us to discipline ourselves in looking back on where we’ve been and what we’ve learned. I’m slowly finding my way around this practice although I still get surprised by the last day of the month as if it came out of nowhere.

So here’s some things that come to mind as I look back on the month of May……

I learned that I have some amazingly strong friends. A friend who is battling colon cancer right now wrote these words in a note to me this month, “This (cancer) is just another bump in the road of my path to heaven. God is in control.” Those words have been lingering in my heart and head all month long. I want that kind of eternal perspective – where even the yucky hard things can be viewed in light of eternity. This friend’s faith in God and her strength that comes from that has been such an inspiration to me.

I learned this month that compassion brings healing. I heard this from Aimee – the girl with the flesh eating bacteria who is now an amputee. She spoke at a commencement service in GA and it’s floating all over Facebook. If you’ve not seen it check it out below. Great stuff!

I learned that Sports has a wonderful impact on a student even those who aren’t straight A students. I’ve never been anti-sports. But team sports has not been a part of a school years to this point because our daughter is too young for team sports at school and our son has never had any interest in sports. And we don’t push it  –  their choice completely. So this year when our son came home saying he wanted to play baseball we were shocked and excited. We said, “Go for it!” And he did. And it was harder than he thought. The long practices. The even longer games. The bench sitting (hello, you gotta start somewhere.) Games when he didn’t feel like going. It forced him to finish what he started and be a part of a team. He studied harder because he had less time. He got physical exercise that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. And he was proud to be a part of his school’s baseball team. Something about being in an awesomely cool uniform just makes it all feel so right. We’re strongly encouraging a second year of baseball and even cross country in the Fall but again we’ll let him make that choice. I really hope he chooses to play.

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I learned how to make strawberry cobbler from Mitchell’s Science teacher. And it was yum. It didn’t exactly look pretty like hers but it tasted really good. I can’t quite seem to get the “tastes great and looks awesome” combination down yet. It’s one or the other. Ha!

Here’s to saying goodbye to May and Hello June!

On obedience

When she speaks you listen.

This woman is filled with wisdom, thanksgiving and a strong will to live. She’s in her nineties and still going strong. Today she gave Mitchell and Sophie some excellent advice.

“Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” Proverbs 25:11

And you just have no idea how timely this advice was. There’s a back story to this story and I won’t share it here but we almost missed our visit today because of an obedience issue. So her words were like freaky timely. God’s timing amazes me.

Oh and I love how she decided to “wear” the card we made her. So cute!