5 things I learned in June 2016

Looking back on the month of June and realizing I stumbled on some things…….

I discovered these two musical treasures last month – “Hamlet’s Question”. These kids are awesome. I happen to know the family of one of them. His parents were our worship leaders in GA. Their entire family is so talented. Major brains going on in that family. Anyways, we’re talking to them about coming up for a gig in the Fall for a house party for our Neighborhood. Hoping it works out. I love them!!

and I really like this song…….

There actually is an art to fashion & style in clothing. My sister has it figured out and because she knows I need all the help I can get when it comes to this kind of stuff she sat down with me and showed me some cool stuff that I didn’t know. Like styles that are flattering, colors that look the best, best way to wear tunics, etc.  She helps others learn these basics of style and fashion as well. You can check her site out at Best Look for You. She also speaks and does home shows. FUN!!! She does Skype sessions for those not local.

After much reading I’m learning from older, wise Moms who have parented or are still parenting in the digital age that it really is best to hold off giving our kids a smart phone as long as possible. Mainly because they just have access to everything when access to the internet is in their hands. 3rd graders with iPhones really isn’t necessary. We don’t have this figured out for our kids yet.But I will say our 15 and 9 year old do not have a smart phone and the devices they do have definitely have an internet filter on it – net nanny is great!

There’s truth in this statement and I’m just now realizing it: “The older they get the more expensive it is.” Speaking of our kids. We have a teenage son. That’s all I need to say for those of you ahead of me in this parenting of teens thing. You’re shaking your head. Things like now buying men’s shoes, braces, sports fees, phone bills (for some – we’re still not giving in on this yet), FOOD! hair products – because all of a sudden it matters.

This used to be my favorite song driving to school. I had a tape – yes, a TAPE cassette with this song on it and would blare it all the way to school every morning and afternoon. Ironically I’ve heard it a lot recently – I think a commercial has it as background music or something right now and heard it on the radio at the beach. Too funny!!!

Well, people, it’s not profound this month but it’s a few new things. I love this practice of writing down things I’ve learned each month. I’d have better posts if I didn’t wait until June 30th to start writing.

Happy July 4th friends!

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

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.

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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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!

 

TED Talks – just another tool to help us learn

I love TED Talks! There have been some really fascinating ones lately.
“TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.”

Occasionally I’ll refer to a TED talk when trying to teach a concept to the kids. A few weeks ago it became apparent to me that we were lacking greatly – as in Grand Canyon gaping hole – in conversation skills. So I began searching TED talks and found this talk on How to Have a Better Conversation.

The kids and I watched it together and talked about which points were easier for us and which ones we needed to work on. And then we did some practicing of what to do and what not to do. It was revealing to all of us.

Happy Honing of your Conversation Skills!

Summer is almost here – don’t ditch your Bible!

For some of us Summer IS here already – like for our kids. Graduation was Friday night and we’re saying Goodbye to the school year. But I know some of you still have a few more weeks of school. And I solemnly pray for your soul as you enter the insane zone or as Jenn Hatmaker affectionally calls it: “The end of the year screw-its.”

I don’t know about you but Summer scheduling is just so totally different than the school year schedule and sometimes personal Bible reading can slip pretty quickly. I want to challenge us to stay in God’s Word this Summer.

A great place to start is to look at Psalm 119. It’s that really really super long chapter in the Bible. So maybe you don’t have time to sit down and read the entire thing in one sitting but work your way through Psalm 119 and ask yourself this one question with pen and paper nearby. What impact does reading and loving God’s word have on a person? And jot down what you see. It’s astounding. The benefits and the power of God’s word (law, precepts, statutes, words, commands – all words you can substitute for God’s word in Ps. 119) has a profound effect on our lives. Why would we ever stop reading it? Well, I can answer that. It’s because we have an enemy who roams this earth and wants nothing more than for us to be unaware of the power of God’s word in our lives. Let’s fight back with God’s word in our hearts.

Below I’ve linked to LifeWay’s all access online studies – most of them are 7 week studies and great for an individual study over the Summer or grab a few girlfriends and study together – while the kids drool popsicle juice down their mouths and hang from chandeliers in the house. Okay so maybe after bedtime is the perfect time for you?

Online Bible Studies

Lord – help us to believe you and when you tell us that your words give us life and health and understanding that we would want those things from you. We can strive for these things on our own accord but we will never achieve them without coming to you. Help us to long for your word and to engage in it every single day. Amen.

 

 

Dinner Parties & Alcohol – “you asked”

Occasionally I’ll get an email from someone asking me to address a particular topic on my blog and recently I received this question:

“What to do when you’re invited to a gathering you know alcohol will be served at?” 

The person who asked this question doesn’t drink alcohol and is feeling the tension of wanting to reach out to people but not wanting to be around the alcohol. The particular event this person is talking about is not a wild & crazy party but a simple gathering of adults and some of them drink. So your basic adult gathering with alcohol being served.

This is a very personal issue and I can’t answer for anyone but myself but maybe I can give some food for thought based on personal experience and observations from scripture.

We actually experienced this exact scenario recently. We were invited to a cocktail party for a new neighbor. New gay neighbors. We don’t drink. And we don’t condone homosexual lifestyles. But we want to love our neighbors well and it starts by getting to know them. So we went. Most everyone drank but us. Was it awkward? No, it really wasn’t. We didn’t make a big deal out of it and neither did they. They asked if we wanted something to drink and we declined. That simple.

We’ve been to a few other neighborhood type events where alcohol was served and we were the only ones not drinking. The first time it was a bit awkward for us just because we felt kind of out of place but walking home that night it just felt right. I can’t explain it other than we knew we were doing what Jesus would do – he would totally spend time with his neighbors. Right where they were. In their homes.

In order to be a light in our world, in our communities and in our neighborhoods we have to get on other people’s turf. And their turf isn’t going to always look like ours. And that’s okay. It will involve being uncomfortable sometimes. That’s also okay.

At first you might feel like you have to defend yourself and explain yourself – for instance, “No, I wouldn’t care for anything to drink because………”  But you don’t have to do that. Don’t make a deal out of it. If someone asks you why you don’t drink that’s one thing. Everyone has their right to drink or not to drink. If they ask, tell them why but try not to get into a debate about it. This isn’t your chance to turn people away from drinking. It’s your chance as a Christian to love people where they are. And that starts by simply getting to know them. Even when they have a drink in their hand. And it’s important to remember nobody is “better” or  “more free in Christ” because they do or don’t drink.

The other thing you might be worrying about is what other people will think if you attend a party with alcohol. What if someone sees you there or finds out you went and they don’t know you didn’t have a drink. What if you’re at the company party where there’s a lot of drinking and someone see you there and your testimony is ruined.

When we feel the need to put disclaimers out when coming along side people it tells us we’re more concerned with what other people think about us, our image, and our reputation instead of loving people right where they are. If we’re concerned about what other people think of us then we’re missing the point of reaching out.

I used to walk in fear of what others would think when they saw me with a neighbor who was having a glass of wine while we ate lunch in a public place. But it didn’t take long for me to shed that fear when I heard stories of women just like me in need of a Savior. They poured their hearts out and felt comfortable being themselves. Some of these women would later come to know Christ and some of them didn’t. One woman sat in our living room and cussed confidently in the middle of Bible study because she just didn’t know any better. A few months later on her self made prayer list was “help me not to cuss.” Had anyone asked her to stop? Yes. But it’s not what you think. It wasn’t me. And it wasn’t the ladies in our Bible study. But the Holy Spirit put that on her heart as she grew in her new walk with Jesus. And that stuff really happens when we simply love people the way Jesus loved.  And it’s beautiful. Messy sometimes but really beautiful.

When we look at Jesus in the Bible we will see that he didn’t care what other people thought about his testimony. If he did he wouldn’t have shown compassion towards prostitutes. He would have avoided the tax collectors house instead of partying there. We don’t even see him explaining himself to his disciples or religious leaders in these situations. It was through and through love for these people.

And if we can remember that we are “these people” then loving others in this way will come easier. You might not have had 5 husbands but the sin you were born into is the sin that Jesus died for out of his love for you. We all have the same universal problem – sin. And we all have access to the One who can redeem us from this problem. But some people don’t know this. Some of your neighbors haven’t heard. And how will they know unless we tell them? Are we seriously going to wait until they “stop drinking” or “start looking like us”?  I pray not.

So I would say to the Christian adult who doesn’t drink to still go to the party where alcohol is served. Go with the purpose of getting to know people who may not know the Good News. And by all means look for opportunities to love your neighbor well. They’re just like you – in need of the love of Jesus Christ.

Have a question or topic you’d like to see addressed on LIABOW? Shoot me an email. I don’t claim to have all the answers but I’ll share what I’ve learned if I’ve learned anything at all. 

 

 

 

 

When your child marches to their own beat

 

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When you have a child that marches to their own beat it can be frightening and beautiful all at the same time. I’m learning that letting go of what others think will be one of the best things we can do for our little rebels, true-to-themselves-marchers. And sometimes letting go of even what we think “should be.” I’m referring to peripheral issues not foundational biblical and moral truths. I realize what some people consider peripheral and merely “preference” could be someone else’s interpretation of “foundational.” And that’s where grace and openness comes into the picture. For each other and for ourselves as we learn & grow and let the Holy Spirit lead us – not rules, regulations and other people.

I love my girl. She is so fun and beautiful and yes sassy like her Mamma. I love the picture above of her performing a little part in the Mother’s Day Drama thingy they did this past Sunday.  This is not my first choice for a Sunday morning Mother’s Day outfit. I almost made her change but then I didn’t. I didn’t because I’m learning that Sophie’s style is so different than mine. At her age I didn’t care what I wore. My Mother put me in quite a few Laura Ashley dresses with Nelly Olson bows that flapped all over the place threatening to injure bystanders. I liked it fine. If it pleased her it pleased me. I didn’t really have much of an opinion because that was just me at that time in my life.

But Sophie at this age has a definite opinion and especially when it comes to fashion and style. And it doesn’t come close to ruffles or florals. It’s more like mismatched socks, Dr. Martens, messy hair and a cute-funky style. It used to bother me because I prefer ruffles and bows at that age for little girls. But I realized I was trying to impose on her my style and what I thought “should be” at her age. So I backed off. I still intervene and guide her in fashion choices but at the end of the day I’m okay if it’s not my first choice. She has a desire to dress modest and appropriate and my biggest concern and prayer for her is that she clothe herself with a beautiful spirit and a tender heart towards Christ. I’m not going to get all wedgied up over casual vs. dressy and boots vs. church shoes. What are church shoes anyways? Really, think about it.

Music is another one of these issues. Our teenage son loves techno music. Electronic music that makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Picture Axel F overdosing on steroids. Not my first choice. Let me rephrase – not even my personal last choice. But we’ve allowed it. In moderation and with teaching and monitoring of what specific techno music is appropriate (ie: no *#%* words allowed). I actually think it drove him batty as well because we don’t hear it nearly as much anymore. Kinda glad he got that out of his system.

I pray that as our kids get older and God continues to develop their unique make up that we will have the wisdom to know which beats to encourage them to march to; which beats to embrace even if they aren’t the ones we want to dance to and the ones to redirect completely. Because if we believe we truly have a Creator and He made us all individually then we’ll realize we all march to our own God-given beat. Let’s do it well with His direction.

Now excuse me while I go and dance to the beat of  Uptown Funk (clean version!) in my striped toe socks. My Mother would be rolling her eyes and praying a prayer for the next generation.