Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Focus = A LOT

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This weekend, I learned a lot about focus. (Mostly because my focus was in the wrong place.)

I came to a definite conclusion about focus:

What a person focuses on defines them.

A person’s focus controls what they love, what they fear, what they think about and therefore what they talk about.

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As a Christian, I want my focus to be on God. Unfortunately though, I struggle a lot with focusing on ME instead of on God.

When I focus on myself then every situation is complicated by the fact that I’m thinking about how it relates to me. Rather then seek His glory and consequently watch Him do His wondrous work through each situation, I seek my own glory and get frustrated when I don’t come out looking amazing.

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Situation: My child talks back in front of other people (that I wanted to impress).

 - When I focus on myself: My parenting is controlled by my wanting others to think I’m a good mom. I get angry when my child misbehaves in the store because my pride is on the line. Suddenly the situation is NOT about my child, it is about ME.

 - When I focus on God: I can see that this is an opportunity to help my child learn and grow. There is a spiritual battle

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raging, and God has graciously just sent me to the front lines to help my child learn and hopefully win the next round.

But by losing focus of Him and zeroing in on me, I LOSE the opportunity to be used.

And as I’ve been thinking about it, I’ve been realizing that self-focus can be a factor in so many areas of life!

Bitterness is me blaming other people or circumstances rather

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then submitting to the teaching hand of God.

Pride is me pulling God out of my mental picture so I can take credit for myself.

Depression is (often for me) being discouraged because I can’t achieve all I want because I’m unwilling to admit that God may have different plans.

(He may want me to learn contentment in a less then perfect house.)

(I don’t believe this is always the cause of depression for everyone. I do believe in a hormonal depression in the months following birth and other non-sinful depressions.)

Sinful Fear is when I refuse to trust Him with the future – wanting instead to take control for myself.

Paul wisely said “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.” I’m praying that God help me have more of that attitude.

My life needs to be focused on Him, His glory, and His perfect will, and not on me!

-Verity

Small Children Staying with Relatives

Last week we took our family trip. The kids went to my aunt’s house for 3 of the days while my husband and I went on to Chicago for business.

A couple of things I did went really great – and a couple things I will be tweaking the next time around.

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Here is what Worked:

Packing each Child’s Clothes by Day

I packed a gallon size bag for each child for each day. It held their shirt, pants, socks and undergarments. Then I pressed out the air for added space, zipped it and marked their name. Each morning all my aunt needed to do was grab each of there bags. Voila!

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Sending EASY Breakfast Foods

My aunt is NOT a morning person. Sending Granola bars for breakfast meant that when my little early birds all got up at 6:15AM, she could give them something, stick in a video if necessary, and go make coffee.

 

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Sending a Couple Simple Activities.

My kids do really well with some structured time before play. I sent just a couple dollar store items for my aunt to do with them. She really enjoyed working with them and seeing them make those connections!

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Sending Easy Freezer Items.

Last year for a similar business trip, I sent homemade freezer meals. They didn’t touch them. I guess store-bought stuff it is. (I guess junk food on vacation is okay in my book)

 

Admittedly, I’m not a stickler, but I had my kids sleep in their clothes the first night. My aunt had to get to work in the morning, so I did there hair, stuck on clothes and hoped for the best to take off a little extra strain on her first morning with THREE little kids!

Here’s what didn’t work.

I bought all the food to send before the trip, packed it into our freezer, packed it into travel bags, and then loaded it into the car and dragged it 5 hours. I should have just gone to Walmart after getting to my aunt’s house. (OF COURSE) I had to go anyway to pick up a couple missing items anyway. It would have been so much smarter to just run to the store after getting there and seeing what she already had. There ended up being a ton of uneaten stuff.

Final Verdict:

Kids had a blast!! (But that has more to do with my amazing aunts and uncles! (I remember LOVING to visit them when I was a kid and they are still SO MUCH FUN!

(And my aunt said that they’d be willing to take the kids again for a weekend so it was a pretty good weekend for everyone.)

-Verity

Our experience with the FREE Home Depot Kids Workshop

The kids and I did something different today: we participated in our local Home Depot’s FREE Kids Workshop. Home Depot stores offer them once a month at most locations across the county. For a couple years now I’ve heard about the workshops from friends and family members, but was always hesitant to try something like that with my 2 (now 3) small children and no husband to help me (since he has Army drill on those weekends.) Today I’m going to debunk some fears I had about the workshops, and share our experience with you in an effort to make it easier on YOU!

 

Debunking Fears:

For ages 5-12

  • Actually, any age seems to be welcome.

It will only be dads who know how to build and their equally crafty sons

  • There were many dads, but lots of moms and families as well. Lots of boys AND girls.

It takes 3 hours

  • Nope! You work at your own pace and follow your own directions! Hallelujah! J In fact, I talked to one father and son who said they do it each month and are usually in and out in about 5-10 minutes! Wow! That’s some quick workmanship!

My kids will get hungry and need to use the bathroom

  • It’s okay if they do! It’s pretty relaxed and very friendly. Snacks seemed to be fine, but if you need to use the bathroom, you might need to bring the craft with you so no one confuses it with theirs. You are free to go in and out though.

The baby will cry and I’ll need to feed her, so we’ll get behind on the project

  • No problem. You work at your own pace, so if you need to take a break, your own kids will be the only ones waiting.

It will be too hard for small children

  • My son is 3 ½ and my daughter just turned 2. We also had my 4 month old baby with us. My kids definitely needed my help for most, if not all, the steps, but they were able to do everything as long as I helped. By the end, my son was even able to hammer some of the nails himself. My daughter’s interest started to wane the last five minutes, but as long as she was involved she did fine and really seemed to enjoy it.

We didn’t pre-register

  • That’s fine! They like it if you do, but some people were just in the store shopping and decided to stop by. Very cool.

What if we’re late?

  • People are able to come and go as they please anytime during the 3 hour period, so it’s no problem.

 

 

Our Experience

 

It was a rainy day in Minneapolis, so it was nice to get the kids out of the house to do something different. The baby has been going through a MAJOR growth spurt for 2 weeks, so we haven’t done many projects at home. I was thankful for this excuse—and you can’t beat free! I had pre-registered online, so were committed. J

 

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When we arrived, I asked at Customer Service where to go. It was in the back of the store. We walked into a warehouse looking room—of course, it is Home Depot after all! Ha! They had plywood set up as tables propped on Home Depot buckets. They were low to the ground—perfect height for my kiddos, and no chairs. A desk type table, manned by 2 attendants, offered aprons (though they were out), prepackaged crafts, memorabilia pins, and certificates of completion. The craft packages were similar to the ones you would find at Michael’s for about $1, but slightly better quality and they included nails to nail the pieces into place so they would stay better. The tables were lined with hammers, screwdrivers, and wood glue and another table had paint and trays. We grabbed our craft packages and set up at a table. I had the baby in a stroller which worked out PERFECTLY. She loved watching all the kids and never fussed. My one big complaint was that they had music blasting from the corner of the room. I might ask them to turn it down next time. It was loud enough with all the hammers and my sensitive son really struggles with loud noises. Most people didn’t seem to care much though. The craft packages had simple instructions with large, colorful illustrations. We followed those and I just went back and forth between my two kids. They loved it! We opted not to paint ours and they were happy with that. We were in and out in just under 45 minutes. Not bad for two small children!

Overall, it was a fun, free experience. It was good for the kids to do something different and we will probably do it again the next time we have a free first Saturday of the month.

-Lydia

The Dandelion Stage

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Every stage of life presents different beauties.

 If I could assign each stage it’s own flower to embody that stage’s characteristics and display them brilliantly in colorful rainbows for all to admire, I would give to the teen years, the daisy – full of hope and joy.

To new love and marriage, I’d give the rose – beautiful and timeless.

And to early motherhood, (this stage of which I find myself firmly planted in the middle of) I’d most definitely assign the dandelion.

Like any mom of small children, I’ve found myself the recipient of many, many dandelions this spring. Multiple times a day I hear the back door creak open, thumping little steps, and an excited voice say.

“Mama!! I have MORE flowers for you!”

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Soon I see a beaming little face and a small hand that’s excitedly waving a yellow bunch carefully picked for me.

I thank my benefactor for being kind and generous and deposit my latest addition with the rest of my loot in a growing number of vases on the kitchen counter. (4 last count).

So, compliments of my children, I’ve been surrounded by these gifts this week, and it’s given me plenty of time to think about the little flower we so often dismiss as a weed.


I’ve even had plenty of time to start relating to it.
 

- Though it may get a bad rep, the dandelion adds color to otherwise bland places – spreading interest and splashes of light in even the darkest of places – in alleys, medians, and gravel pits, it shines it’s cheerful color through. As a mom, I’m learning to bring joy, eternal focus and hope to my children’s days. The days may be filled with flu, tantrums, whining, and selfishness, but by reflecting the light of Christ, the hope of eternity, and the truth of His word, I can bring light to the most sinful of little hearts.

 

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- The dandelion is hearty enough to endure – through poisoning, being cut down, and much more, it bounces back, stands up straight, and perseveres. I truly doubt there are many occupations on this earth that take as much endurance as motherhood. 

-The hearty little flower is useful. I recently learned that you can make dandelion tea, stew, and even wine. In the ‘mom’ position I not only have daily effect on my family members but also profound eternal effects. Though the pervasive temptation in a career-driven and consumer-driven society is to feel less then useful because our effects are not well-known, applauded or flashy, our use is of utmost importance. We are building the values of the next generation. 

- Then of course there is the fact that it multiplies like a weed. I can kind of relate to that too…

From almost the first week of my ‘dandelion stage’ I was blessed with a vivid picture of how precious and short lived the ‘dandelion stage’ (the toddler stage) is. My first born child only 18 months, and enjoying his first real Spring, when he proudly presented three dandelion stalks to a 92 year old friend at church. She breathed a joyful sigh and took the bouquet as if it were a very valuable and precious offering.

Then she turned to me and said with sparkling and sincere eyes. “These are the things in life that matter.”

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She reverently placed the 3 flowers in her Bible.

I’ve thought of it in the dandelion moments at 3:00 AM when the baby finally starts to quiet, and I let myself wait a couple more minutes to just sit and meditate on the perfect little face.

I’ve thought on that moment many times.

I’ve recalled it when my children come for bandaids, for kisses, for their bonks and for diapers.

But of course I especially remember it every time I hear the little voice at the back door and hear the thumping feet – bringing me another gift of sincere child-like love.