Raising kids but also raising future spouses

IMG_3666

Okay, so we can’t blame everything on our spouses Mother and Father but let’s face it – a childhood does impact the future role as wife or husband.

If a hubs had a Mom who did everrrry.thing for him then he will have a strong tendency to expect his wife to do everrrrrrry.thing for him as well. If a young girl grew up having everything given to her on a silver platter – guess what – she’s going to expect a man to give her everything and more perhaps on a gold platter.

We train our kids in the teaching and admonition of the Lord. That just means we see what scripture says about how to function in life and we work under that philosophy of life. And we teach our kids by modeling and with words. With correction. With discipline. With lots and lots of grace. For them and for us.

When it’s easier to pick up your kids’ clothes off the floor because it’s just not “a battle worth fighting” in the grand scheme of things get a visual of your child’s future spouse saying, “Your Mama doesn’t live with you anymore!” Ha! Ha! No really – I get this struggle with some of the seemingly smaller things like messy rooms and leaving a mess behind in the kitchen. Because you’re thinking to yourself, “I just want him/her to make it in school, have good friends, stay away from drugs & sex – the big important stuff. Who cares if they leave tighty whities on the floor or wrappers on the table!”

And yes, I do think we need to choose our battles carefully. But I’m trying not to always dismiss the small things for the sake of the bigger things. Small things add up to big things eventually. I am raising a son and daughter to be a strong young man of God and a beautiful spirited Daughter of the King. But I’m also very likely raising a future wife and husband. And I pray for those spouses already. I pray for them in so many areas and I pray for their parents. I trust God is hearing our prayers on their behalf and I simply can’t wait to meet them one day. But until then I’ll keep working on the small things and leaving annoying friendly reminders as needed. And other times I’ll cave and just pick it up myself because everyone needs a Mama to back you up at times.

 

4 ways to help your kids minister to the elderly

Mercy-3

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

When your child marches to their own beat

 

IMG_2409IMG_2401

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.

When our kids grapple with faith

I’m not ashamed to say that I see my son grappling with his faith right now. Asking a lot of questions. Wondering why God did things a certain way when He had all the power and control to do things differently – things that make more sense to him. Like – not putting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to begin with. Not letting satan tempt Adam and Eve. Not allowing sin to enter the world. These things.

A Bible paper that is due next week on the life of Noah has also spurred on some deep questions. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone back and looked at the life of Noah. As Mitchell and I looked into scripture together about Noah we read these hard but true words,

” The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

God regretted the very creation he made. That’s tough stuff. I found myself wanting to defend God as Mitchell asked questions like, “So did God make a mistake when he made that generation of people?” “Why is he so angry with us?” “If he knew that was going to happen why create in the first place?”

I felt myself getting all tight inside my heart. I didn’t want to mess up by attempting to explain. I didn’t want my son to see God as an angry God who wiped out people because he didn’t care. I wanted him to know the deepest foundational point of God wanting to be in relationship with these people – with us – and that his love and mercy allowed a new start. That our sin separates us from God because He’s holy and we are not. Sovereignty and free will and all that. Still. It’s a hard truth. An entire generation wiped out.

But these questions are good. And I’m so glad he’s talking them out loud and not afraid to ask. They are excellent questions. And yes, truthfully I have to say, it is a little scary to see your child chewing through and asking such tough questions and not being sure where they’ll land. But I am trusting God and praying that the Holy Spirit will keep opening Mitchell’s eyes to the Truth of his word and the essence of who God is. Nobody can force an authentic believing faith on anyone. That is between the Holy Spirit and an individual.  So I don’t have to get uptight in pleading and defending “my faith case” to him. I can as gracefully as possible tell him I’ve had some of those same questions. We can look at different parts of scripture (because interpreting scripture in light of scripture is crucial in understanding God and his ways) to identify who God is. Not that we can ever figure him out or understand him fully. And that’s what faith is – trusting and believing when we don’t have all the answers or understand or like what we see.

Questions are good. Grappling with faith is good. God can handle our questions. He’s big enough for that. When our kids do it we need to be okay with it and never rebuke them for asking such questions.   But with a tender praying heart ask God to guide us in coming alongside our kids as they journey through their own faith walk. Some kids just need to wrestle it out more and ask lots of questions. Others don’t necessarily do that. And that’s okay too. I kind of think wrestling for something helps us remember it better. We may come out limping a bit but we’ll never forget what we learned.

So Lord, today we pray for our kids who are trying to understand you. For the ones who might be mad at you. For the ones who aren’t even thinking about you. We ask in your name, Jesus, that you would reveal yourself to them in such a personal way that they know you love them and want to be in relationship with them. Draw us and our kids closer to you. Let our walks be individual walks of faith – never attempting to hang onto the coattails of parents or religious activities. Increase our faith Lord. We need you to do that in us. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

P.S. – “Subscribe” part of blog is not working right now – come back later if you’d like to subscribe and have posts come to you inbox. Thanks.

Just because you’re 15…..

Just because you turned 15 and are learning to drive doesn’t mean………

IMG_2124

you’re too old for swords……

IMG_2014

or good old fashioned backyard fun……

IMG_2086 IMG_2096 IMG_2038IMG_2107

or for talks with your Dad at the fence line……

IMG_1983

or for praying over your sister…..

IMG_1824

Mitchell – you are a good kid. We know we’re your parents and all that stuff but you really are kind hearted, funny, smart and compassionate. We love you a lot and we see Jesus working in you. Yeah, we all have stuff to work on. And as your parent’s we’ll keep prayerfully training you in those areas because we want you to be an effective follower of Christ. Our desire is that you glorify God with your life and point others to Him. Keep your heart tender to Jesus, Mitchell. He loves you more than you know. You don’t have to prove yourself to Him or try to impress Him. You’re already approved. No striving necessary. Just love him back with your whole heart. We are proud to be your parents.

Love you, Mitchell!

IMG_1974

 

 

 

Homecoming Court: a platform to teach about true identity

It happens every year – homecoming court. I love it and I hate it. I hate that young girls especially tend to place so much value on a like, a share, a comment or in the case of homecoming – a vote. Each girl secretly hopes to be chosen as class representative even if she is too scared to walk the court or doesn’t want to be in the spot light. She still wants to be the one picked. To dress up in a beautiful dress and be escorted by a boy also chosen by classmates. It might be awkward and nerve-wracking but still it’s a desire by many girls. Not all but many.

I’m not one of these parents who thinks every girl and boy should be on the homecoming court or there should be no homecoming court at all. No, that’s just weird. I don’t think all kids need a ribbon for participating. As long as we live on this earth, have jobs and live in community we will experience competition and levels of achievement. We should always strive to do our best with what God has given us and rest in the contentment that comes in pointing it all back to Him.

But lets be honest and say it’s not always easy to do that. To desire something – an accomplishment or position – and not get it. We can be quick to internalize false judgements about ourselves as we equate votes (or lack of votes) with value.

So as you approach Homecoming season (or Basketball, Football, etc) with your girl or boy – whether he/she desires to be on the Homecoming Court or not consider talking about these things with them beforehand.

You are already CHOSEN by God – I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.

You are already ACCEPTED by God – Romans 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

You are GIFTED by God – Romans 12:6 – We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

You are QUALIFIED by God – Colossians 1:12 – Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.

It might also do us well to remember these identifying truths of our own standing in Christ. As believers in Jesus Christ we already have every.thing we need. Our relationship with Jesus provides an inheritance far greater than the most beautifulestest homecoming dress, most prestigious badge of honor, the most points in a game, or the largest instagram following. When we understand our true identity we are quick to forego the craving for positions and titles and are more quick to serve and come alongside others for a greater purpose.

These are not spiritual props to be viewed as “ribbons for everyone” but this is a believers core identity. It’s who we are through and through whether we know it or not. And these are just a few of a long list of inheritance factors. Want to know more of who you are in Christ? Then check out theseA -Z cards from my friend Cindy Bultema. I use these cards a lot as a reminder to both me and my kids of who God says we are.

So today, let’s celebrate that we’ve already been voted on and chosen by the King of Kings.

It simply can’t get any better than that!

 

 

31 Days: Day 6 – Visiting the Elderly

We underestimate the power of a simple visit and a handmade card for a shut-in. Whether at a nursing home or someone’s house a face to face visit with your children can make all the difference to a lonely soul. There’s something special about a young crayon-sketched heart and a cross with the words “God loves you and so do I”.

If we start our kids out young learning to love and respect our older generation then they will have learned an almost lost art.

Nursing homes are open to young visitors. Just show up – having cards with you helps with conversation and allows your kids to warm up to the elderly. We carry a basket of cards with us and go room to room handing them out. Usually there’s a large activity room or area where people will gather and you could always hand out cards there as well if you’re uncomfortable going room to room. It’s not weird to knock on a door and simply say, “Excuse me….just wanted to say hello and give you a little something.” It doesn’t have to be a long visit or a deep conversation unless God takes it there.

So yeah, google search a nursing home in your area if you don’t know of one and take your kids there to give out card and hugs. I promise you it will make a person’s day and it teaches your children at a young age they are not too young to reach out themselves.

Tomorrow I’ll share how one of these attempted card & hug visits didn’t go as I planned but how God taught me a lot about myself and others through outreach.

 

She asked: is it wrong to lie about your faith when faced with death?

You’ve probably heard the horrific news of yet another school shooting – this time on a Community College campus in Oregon. Our kids saw the news and of course this brought up questions. From news reports I’ve read, the gunman asked people if they were a Christian and if they said yes he shot them in the head. If they said they weren’t a Christian he shot them in the leg or somewhere else allowing them to live.

Image 10-2-15 at 5.53 PMImage 10-2-15 at 5.57 PM

We prayed for these victims’ families and asked God to pour out his peace and comfort over them.

Then Sophie asked the question we’ve all wondered at one time or another, “Mom, would it be a sin to lie in a situation like that? To know in your heart you really are a Christian but to just say you’re not so that you can live?”

If you scroll through Facebook you’ll see people amen-ing the people who stood up and said they were a Christian and how they would do the same thing. The confidence and certainty is really quite intriguing to me. Sort of reminds me of Peter in his utter confidence that he would never deny Jesus – let alone three times. And that’s without a gun to his head. And one of the times was a little girl asking him if he knew Jesus.

What would I do in a situation like that? I can’t answer that. Nobody can answer that. I pray that my faith in God would not waiver but I honestly can’t say for certain it wouldn’t. My heart desire is to proclaim my love for Jesus and my commitment to Him wherever I am – even facing death square in the eyes. And if I did do that it would only be because of the strength of Jesus Christ.

So what’s the answer to Sophie’s question?

We started by looking at Matthew 10:32-33

32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

“It is a dangerous thing for any to deny and disown Christ before men; for they who so do will be disowned by him in the great day, when they have most need of him: he will not own them for his servants who would not own him for their master: I tell you, I know you not, Matt. 7:23. In the first ages of Christianity, when for a man to confess Christ was to venture all that was dear to him in this world, it was more a trial of sincerity, than it was afterwards, when it had secular advantages attending it.” Matthew Henry’s Commentary

“Note, It is very encouraging to think, that whatever we leave, or lose, or suffer for Christ, we do not make a hard bargain for ourselves. Whatever we part with for this pearl of price, we may comfort ourselves with this persuasion, that it is well worth what we give for it. The terms are, that we must prefer Christ.” Matthew Henry

I read these verses and MH’s commentary and told the kids they needed to think about these things. Pray and ask God to show them His thoughts on this question. They should also talk to the godly leaders God has put in their lives in addition to me and Randy –  but the bottom line is what God’s Word says about this subject. That is our guide.

I don’t want to scare my kids by any means but I believe that their kids (if not they themselves) could face potential persecution in ways we never have. We need to be talking about these things. In addition to drills and conversations of the practical – like hide under your teacher’s desk, get out of sight, don’t panic or scream, etc. we need to address the spiritual and difficult issues at hand.

So yeah, it’s a heavy conversation but I believe it’s worth it. It makes one think of their own faith and true identity in Christ. I pray with all my heart I would stand up for Christ and say aloud in the face of death, “Yes, I know Him and He is worth dying for.” because it’s what I truly believe in my heart.

Let’s be praying for the victim’s families in Oregon and the victims that are recovering. They need to feel the love of Jesus. And what’s beautiful to me? Is that Jesus appeared to Peter first after he rose from the dead. Yes, Peter the disciple he loved so very much even after denying Jesus three times. That’s who he went to first. Grace and mercy when we least deserve it. Oh I love him.

 

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.)

IMG_2418 IMG_2423 IMG_2467 IMG_2466

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.

IMG_2427IMG_2428

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

 

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