When the unexpected hops into your life

Two Saturdays ago Randy was working in the yard and found a white and black bunny. Not a tiny little bunny but more like a gigantic Easter bunny – bunny.

We spent all morning trying to catch the thing. The kids set a trap and the bunny would come so close to getting the carrot but then it was like he knew he was being tricked. I think he was playing us more than we were him! Ha! Sophie was so patient and stood behind this tree with the cord to pull down the storage container for over an hour. Soon we all realized that wasn’t going to work. So we moved on to good ole’ fashion chasing.

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Finally the kids cornered him in the neighbor’s yard and Mitchell picked him up. Randy and I were inside and we could hear Sophie squealing with delight all the way inside. We ran outside and then all four of us were yelling with excitement. Poor bunny had to be terrified!

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The kids begged to let the bunny come inside so like a sucker we let them bring him in. This was the coolest looking bunny I’ve ever seen. It clearly was somebody’s pet because he was pretty calm and well groomed. The kids loved playing with him inside and we were debating keeping him if we couldn’t find the owner. We realized though that with all the shedding he was doing and with Sophie’s allergies we just couldn’t do it. A rabbit was not a good fit for our family.

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But it was an experience we’ll never forget! It was funny because our entire family needed the release this crazy oversized bunny brought us. We were screaming, yelling, planning how to capture and running around the yard like a bunch of crazies. I think God knew it had been a really uptight few weeks leading up to “Mr. Stanley, the bunny” coming into our lives. We all needed something totally random and crazy to loosen us up. And it worked.

I love how our God knows what we need when we need it. And how cool that he uses his creation to intersect with those needs. Who woulda thought.

 

 

 

 

What 44 years of life has made me thankful for

I’m turning 44 on 9/11 and I’m reflecting on the things that I’m thankful for……

  • Life – my Mom’s OBGYN told her he could just scrape me out of her womb and “take care of” me after my Mom expressed her shock and disappointment in her pregnancy. But God…….led my Mom into a conversation with her Pastor who talked her through this decision. As she answered his questions she realized how selfish and how wrong that choice would be. She chose life. I’m thankful she did.
  • New Life – after nine years of life I realized I could have a new life in Christ. One that would transform me from the inside out. My third grade teacher sat with me in the hallway of Mount Parent Christian School and led me to Jesus Christ.
  • Life in a Christian Home – such a blessing to have godly parents who loved God and loved me. Who taught me the Bible and provided an example of a committed marriage built on God’s faithfulness.
  • Life with “my man” – marrying my high school sweetheart has to be the highlight of my 44 years of life outside of getting saved. Our dating years were so much fun and life with him is still one of life’s greatest gifts to me.
  • Lively chil’rens – at one point we were beginning to wonder if we’d ever hear the sounds of children in our home. After ten years of marriage God brought to us two incredibly awesome kids – loud kids. Trust me –  you might even hear them now. Ha! God knew the quiet type might not ever survive our home. They are one of my greatest blessings.
  • Life in the Church – oh yeah, how could I not think about my life in all the different churches that have assisted in my spiritual growth. The one I grew up in after getting saved. The youth group that grounded me in high school. The church I came home to all through college and got married in. Our church as newlyweds that took Randy under his wing and mentored him. The first church plant God led us to and allllllllll the things we learned. For the second and current church we’re in now and how beautiful the body of Christ is when she’s healthy and growing. Oh yes, in my 44 years of life I am sure thankful for my church.

Well that’s all I got for now. I’m exhausted from being so serious. Now I’m off to party. To be the sassy birthday girl. To eat my cake. Cuzzzzzz it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Cry if I want to. Eat chocolate cake with chocolate icing on top if I want to……….

Oh, and yes, I do have the annual birthday voicemail message up and running on my cell for all my local yocals. Call me if you dare. Muwahahahaha.

2 Tips in training money $mart kids

1. Let them make money by working. 

In order to teach kids how to manage money wisely they need to have the opportunity to work for a weekly amount of money even if it’s just one dollar.

Mitchell and Sophie have the opportunity of making $5.00 a week in household chores if they do them all. They also have non-paying responsibilities around the house that they are expected to do just because…. well, because they live here. Mitchell mowed a neighbor’s lawn this summer so he made some extra money and this got Sophie wanting to make more money.

So she decided to earn extra money by making a lemonade stand. I rolled my eyes and prayed she’d have a few customers because I really didn’t think it would go well but she really really wanted to do it so I let her.

She made $13.50 her first hour and she’s only selling it for 50 cents!  The second day she hired out help and made $40 in less than 2 hours. She hired me to make the lemonade ($1.00) and split the profit down the middle with the friend who helped her sell. HA!! Doesn’t the UPS Truck, Taxi van (?) and police car crack you up??? It totally blessed my soul that they would buy lemonade from the girls. (And yes, I was watching closely….. Mama bear showed her face upon every lemonade transaction.)

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2. Teach your kids to do 3 things with every dollar earned. (Give.Save.Spend)

Whether it’s $1.00 earned or $20.00 earned we teach our kids to do the same three steps: They put their money in three different envelopes: Give (tithe 10%) Save (saves 10%) and Spend (what’s left over – 80%). Sophie is saving up for a bike so all her Spend money will go towards a bike soon. Her “Save” money goes into her savings account to offset college expenses. We/she deposits it in her savings account every six months. And every six months she puts all her Give money together and gives that money in an offering at church. Mitch does the same thing. And we do the same thing with our money.

It’s a discipline that has the potential of changing your child’s life when he or she is older. If they can get into the practice now of giving, saving and spending it will become a life long habit that will give them a strong foundation going into marriage.

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Want to teach your kids good financial cents? (ha! ha! I couldn’t resist) Then check out Dave Ramsey’s materials. The Financial Peace Junior kit is awesome and very affordable. I love it out of everything out there I’ve tried as far as chore charts, payment charts, etc.  There is actually a Financial Peace Junior Bible Study that is downloadable. Our church is starting this study for kids 1st -5th grade this month. The envelopes you see in the picture came in the Financial Peace Junior kit. It comes loaded with some other great resources as well.

Linking with Jennifer, Holley and Kristin

 

Signs of a bad week

You know it’s been a bad week when……

  • You call your child a butt and then realize he’s most likely going to go to school and tell all his teachers and friends that his Mom called him a butt. Then they won’t believe him and he’ll keep arguing until he gets a detention. I should write a book called, “If you call your child a butt he’ll ask for prayer at school.” And by the way he cracked up laughing when it came out of my mouth because honestly it shocked all of us. And I apologized and he wouldn’t accept because he thought it was hilarious and he knew it was true.
  • Your daughter overhears a phone conversation about having a routine mammogram and laughs hysterically making mammogram squashing machine noises with hand motions. As if that’ not enough she graciously says she’ll request prayer for me in her class.
  • You make your entire family late for school all because of greasy hair. I should’ve just let teenage britches go with greasy day 2 unwashed hair but like a refined Southern Mama I made him go up and take a shower in 5 minutes knowing that was impossible. It was just plain stupid. And the whole family came unglued. I’m wearing a sign on my forehead that says, “I’m a butt.”

Other than that we are just having a peachy kind of a week. In a few days I get to attend a prayer conference in which I talk about how I pray over my kids – after I call them a butt. The process of refinement and humility is not easy I say.

3 gifts that can change the course of your child’s school year.

A lot of schools start up today in our area and possibly in yours too. We all remember those first day jitters and excitement. New backpacks, new school clothes and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils accompany little feet walking into hallways.

Soon enough though the newness wears off and the pressures of school work, mean kids and peer pressure can take its toll on our little ones and even the big high schoolers. As parents we can feel helpless at times sending our kids out the door with only a hug and a kiss not knowing what they could be walking into that particular day.

Whether you have a little one or a big one at school consider giving these three gifts to your child this year.  I promise it WILL make a difference. A difference in their school day, their school year and a marked difference in their life. And better yet – they’re free!

1. Read the Bible together as a family every morning. 

Be aware that this will not come easy. Satan will throw up every possible hinderance and road block on school mornings that you attempt to do this. But I promise you it will be well worth the time. Equipping ourselves and our children with the powerful word of God is school day changing, school year changing and life changing. Why would we not fight for this? Need a good Bible reading plan? Check out this app (what we’ve been using as a family) or this. There are a lot of good bible reading plans. Or just start with a few verses in Proverbs each day. It only takes setting the clock for an extra 15-20 minutes to do this. You can’t do anything better than this to start out your day.

2. Pray for your child/ren every day. 

I am a firm believer in writing and documenting prayers.When I look back and see what I’ve been praying for my kids and how God answers those requests my faith is strengthened. I can point out to our kids how God answered prayer and is alive and working. Ask your kids how you can pray for them and also tell them how you are praying for them as God puts specific things on your heart throughout the year. Mom’s In Prayer is an excellent resource that brings Moms together in prayer once a week. This has been a part of my kids lives ever since they started school. On the way to school my kids will often ask, “Mom, who are you praying for today? Will you ask the Moms to pray about this_________.” And I love that they too are now counting on this weekly corporate time of prayer.

3. Send them off with a word of encouragement every single morning. 

This morning our daughter had rough morning including tears and frustration. She looked at me and said, “Mom, is it going to be a good day today?” I assured her it was but she wasn’t totally convinced and she asked, “How do you know?” Quickly the Lord impressed on my heart a visual of the morning glories that are in our neighbors yard. I said, “Soph, it’s because God’s mercies are new every single morning. And this morning you have new mercies that you didn’t have yesterday from God.” I wanted to show her the morning glories and explain how they work – they only bloom once and are good for that day. They usually fall off at the end of the day and then new blooms come in the morning. And so I was able to send her off with the encouragement of “Look for your new mercies today sweet girl. They are there for you.” Other days are simply, “Hey, you are going to have a great day today.” Or “Sophie, you’re a good friend and today you have another chance to be a good friend to someone who needs it.” Our son needs to hear the encouragement that he is going to make wise choices today and will be a better person because of it. Speak life over your kids as they leave the comforts of their home. And on those really rough mornings when you don’t feel like saying anything encouraging at all remind them how much you love them – always and no matter what.

So here’s to the start of great new school year! May God grow your family as you spend time in his word, pray and speak life into your children.

Linking with KellyLauraJen, Jennifer, Barbie, Sharita, HolleyKristin and Mom2Mom

My mouth got me in trouble at the car dealership

So my van, AKA “the gold bomb”, has about exploded for the final time sending us into an avid auto search for the last few months. When the lining of the roof starts hanging lower than the seats you know you need to upgrade. And we’re just not even going to talk about the hint of painted letters “Community Cares” that still linger on the windows even after multiple scrub downs.

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All that to say – it was time to look for new wheels. ASAP.

And so we did. We strolled into our first dealership on the list of places to look. The young car salesman greeted us at the door and shook our hand. He bent down and in a bit of a “awwww how cute” voice said to Sophie, “Oh hi there, you must be six years old.”  So not cool for a girl who’s almost nine going on twelve.

We talk for a bit about what we’re looking for and then he leaves to go talk to his “manager”. As soon as he left Sophie quips back, “That dude just called me six. I’m so assaulted!” We gave a quick vocab refresher course on the actual word she was looking for which was insulted and clearly not assaulted. Still she was insulted.

A bit later our guy shows us around the lot and a pulls a few cars out for us to look at. I forgot my car looking protocol and broke one major rule – never ever get excited about a car and by all means don’t say you like it right away. Well, I forgot that part and when I saw one car it just fell out of my mouth – “Oh! I LIKE that car!” Randy cut his eyes at me and I knew immediately I messed up. So I quickly try to recover and say, “Well, no not really. I don’t actually like that car. I thought I liked that car but nooooooo, I totally don’t like it. Well unless it was like free or something. Then I might like that car.” Okay, so it wasn’t that bad but kinda sorta close.

Sales boy leaves us again to go and see what he can do for us by talking to his manager and when he left Randy and I both discussed the error of my car buying skills. Literally he says to me, “I just need you to let me do the talking. You say too much. You are never supposed to say the top price we are willing to pay and you never ever ever talk about how much you love the car.” To which I reply, “I knowwwwww honey, I’m so sorry. I won’t say ANYthing else. Promise.”

We decide moving on to another car lot would be best – fresh start – one in which my lips are sealed plus a new selection of cars. This time I do great but we’ve got Sophie over there telling the car dude all about our other car and how the ceiling is coming down on us and how the windows won’t roll down, blah, blah, blah. Of course we didn’t drive our other car to the dealership in hopes to hide the true state of our other car. Pride will always mess you up people. That’s what I’m learning.

We end up hitting one last place at 8pm and while we were there a trade in drove on the lot. A vehicle we were very interested in but the guy still had all his stuff in it. So we waited and waited and waited for him to get his stuff out and then we looked at it and loved it. But because you don’t say that I just held my love inside and pointed out the bird doo-doo on the windshield and the black smudges on the tires. But the good news is my man doesn’t only preach great – he can wheel and deal especially when his wife keeps her mouth shut. So we test drove it, pulled up a car fax report and landed on a price we liked a lot. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my cary buying strategy but we did end up getting an incredible deal on a 2005 Honda Odyssey Touring with only 64K miles on it! Whoo-hoo!!! I just hope I know how to work it right.

So that’s my car buying story and I’m sticking to it.

** Update on the van – so were driving it off the lot and about 10 miles into the trip home I hear Mitchell let out a scream and look back and the seat he’s sitting in has totally folded up on him. He tries to adjust it and it falls all the way back flat. And then all the way forward. It will not stay up straight. It’s so not funny but I have to say I was laughing so hard. We are hoping the dealership will fix it or we’ll have to return it. We have 3 days to have it inspected by our mechanic and point out any issues. We are hoping they will repair it so we can keep it. So I guess we won’t bury the gold bomb quite yet.

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Road trip hilarity

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So this is what happens when you say we’re traveling to the Mountains old school style with no electronics. You see the excitement. I was hoping it might spur on some great sibling conversations in the backseat. The best we got was Sophie saying, “Hey, Mitch, is that hair I see on your upper lip?” Mitchell all manlike says, “Why yes it is.” With her eyes rolling and a sigh she says, “You got puberty!”

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We made it to the Mountains to meet up with our dear friends and pastor associate at our church. We didn’t talk church or theology. We just enjoyed time together. It was so refreshing.

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The cheese shop and the Honey Shop were awesome in West Jefferson. Quaint shops, good eating’ and breathtaking scenery.  Even better fellowship around the table outside each night for dinner.

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On our way back from our trip we stopped for lunch at Apple Bee’s and ended our time with yet another interesting family conversation. It started with the kids fighting and being mean to each other which led to the oldest yet greatest parental comeback ever, “Now you get to say 5 things you love about the other person.”  This stirred up about as much excitement as the no electronics thing on the way to the Mountains.

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Sophie thinks for a very long time. Mitchell is waiting with baited breath to hear his 5 great things. Meanwhile he’s thinking of his 5 things that he loves about Sophie. Sophie finally comes up with something.

“Mitchell, I love that hangy-downy tooth thing you got going on. And I like that you can whistle with it.” We all bust a gut laughing.

That’s not exactly the kind of thing we were after but fine that will count. You got 4 more to go. They both end up sharing their 5, hugging and making up. All is well again. We’re at peace and the food is about to come. Yay.

At this point Randy mentions something about school starting soon. Sophie asks when exactly it starts and we told her Monday. Her eyes got all bug eyed and her jaw dropped to the table and her lower lip starts quivering. Tears start coming down. We all start laughing again. She starts laughing at herself between the tears.

And there we were – going from fighting, to making up, to crying, to laughing. And then we rode the rest of the way home doing the same thing all over again.

And people, that’s how we roll. It’s not always lovey dovey peachy family time. It’s “I’m gonna kill you if you do that onemoretime” kind of a thing sometimes. But we love each other. We really do. Sometimes we just have to count the reasons why.

*More on hospitality on Monday – I have a few easy but great recipes to post for you.

 

When all hell breaks loose on Sunday morning

You are not the only one whose household can go haywire on Sunday morning before leaving church. I promise. There will be time that if it can go wrong it will go wrong on Sunday – either before you get to church or on the way to church. I’m not gloom and doom girl speaking I’m just the voice of reality.

So when you show up to church and the older lady in her perfectly pressed Sunday clothes hugs you and asks how you are doing it’s okay to tell her what just went down. Because she was most likely a Mother of mayhem on Sunday mornings as well. Not that every Sunday is like that but for the ones that do come our way don’t think you’re the only one.

Knocked over cereal bowls, lost shoes, holes in panthose, church clothes getting dirty right before leaving, siblings yelling – heck, Mom yelling – over the K-Love station in the background of course. And then showing up to teach Sunday School. Double sigh.

I’ll never forget showing up to a morning prayer time after such a morning. I had responded extremely impatiently and was in the wrong towards one of my kids. And just ten minutes later was leading our time of praise with a group of prayer warriors. And then we got to the silent confession time. I would have been so relieved it was SILENT confession except for the fact that the Holy Spirit trumped that part and put it on my heart to move me into public confession during that time. I confessed my stinky attitude and need for forgiveness. And this is when I found out I wasn’t the only one who needed forgiveness for such things on such a morning. The rest of the group – the entire group in fact – one by one confessed their faults to the Lord audibly and something broke loose that morning in our group. It was different from all other times.

So frazzled Mom, when you show up to church after having a rough morning it’s okay to say so. Say it to God and feel free to say it to your bros and sisters. Chances are that person had a doozie of a Sunday last week or will the next. We’re all in this thing together and we need to be real with each other. When life hurts let’s not be afraid to say it out loud. Because thats then we can actually do life together. Pray for each other. Care for one another the way God designed the church to do.

Happy Sunday morning and may your frosted flakes be in their rightful place, your babies diaper clean and your boys britches not ripped. But hey, if they are…….it’s okay. Just go with it. We’ve all been there.

 

Observations of an older woman

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I love my Mom and she loves me but even in our close relationship things like this come out of our mouth:

Me: Mom, you aren’t making any sense!

Mom: Well, you aren’t making any understanding.

Followed with an eruption of laughter from both sides.

After spending 6 weeks together interrupted by only a few days here and there I learned some things about my Mom.

  • She has a simple, child-like faith that roots in trust and dependence on God. She’s always trusted Him but when she became a widow she stepped into a new depth of relationship with God that made her depend even more on Him. It has produced a beautiful trust and security in Him alone.
  • My Mom is a hard, methodical worker not afraid to admit she’s slower than she used to be but works within her minimal confines.
  • She takes praying for a good parking spot seriously. I made a comment about it “not working” as we circled a slammed parking lot with zero spaces and she quickly said, “Honey, we’re not done looking yet.” No lie, less than a minute later a man came up to our window and said, “Do you need a parking spot? I’m about to pull out and you can have my place if you pull around.” It was directly in front of the doors we were about to walk through. She looked at him and said, “Sir, you are an answer to prayer.”
  • She loves a good deal and will never stop comparison shopping. Frugal she will always be and overly generous she remains.
  • My Mom can still tell a great story. Especially funny ones. We were circled up at our kitchen table with a few friends of mine and she told my all time favorite story. The one where my Dad was a pallbearer at the wrong funeral! A Jewish funeral at that….complete with him wearing a beanie and everything. She’s the best story teller ever.

So yeah this older woman who I’ve known for 40 something years still inspires me and intrigues me. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have spent so much time with her this Summer. It’s not that I’m learning new things about her I’m just seeing what has always been there up close and personal as an adult. And we see things different when we’re grown and have families of our own. I’m a blessed daughter and I do know of one good thing that has come out of the broken leg chronicles….my time with my Mom.

 

Helping our kids navigate social media

Our teenage son is wanting to have his own Youtube account so he can upload videos. He has no other personal social media outlet at this point because I’m a nazi Mom when it comes to protecting my kids online. I’ve seen too many families and kids hurt by the crap that’s out there. Addictions started by accidentally discovering porn and major self image issues because of bullying and cruelty online. However I do think social media can be a great way to express oneself and to point others to Christ if done appropriately. And let’s face it, it’s the world our kids live in. We can’t keep the from it forever. But we can guide them through it and set some healthy boundaries.

We use a screening service called “Net Nanny” for all our digital devices in our household. We love it. So through Net Nanny you pull up safari and it blocks out based on your settings (low, moderate, heavy) junk that’s out there. You can also monitor your child’s Facebook account through this service as well.

So here’s some basic guidelines that we are working through with our kids before they have any kind of an account where they’ll be taking and uploading photos & videos.

1) Post to God’s glory – doesn’t mean everything you post has to be about God but be sure He’ll be happy with what you’re posting.

2) No taking pics/videos or uploading pics/videos of yourself or others in inappropriate ways:   *no bathroom shots *no undies pics *no private part pics  (you’d just might be surprised at how this needs to be communicated even among Christian kids. Sexting somehow seems totally okay in the minds of many kids.)

3) Never post personal identifying information like your full name, address, age.

4) Don’t use bad language.

5) Don’t cut other people down.

6) Don’t post to brag or build yourself up.

7) Limit the selfies. 

8) Be helpful to others in your posts.

9) Don’t lie in your posts.

10) Try to point to God in creative ways in your posts.

11) Nevah evah link “likes, thumbs ups and comments” to your worth and identity. “Likes” don’t determine anything about value so don’t look to the number of likes to affirm who you are or what you’re posting about.

12) This world can be cruel and at some point you will get negative or mean comments – determine now that you will not let that crush you. See #11.

13) Remember that God’s view and the world’s view will always collide on this earth. Be a light and represent God’s view whenever posting on social media. Constantly ask yourself, “Is what I’m looking at and what I’m posting representing God’s view or the world’s view?”

What else would you add to the conversation with our kids on uploading to social media? 

Linking with JJennifer, Holley and Kristin today because I like these chicks.