Tag Archives: Christianity

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10 Benefits of Contentment when Finances are Tight

Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 

My family and I have walked through what could have been a daunting time the last 8 months. My husband didn’t have a real job, we have 3 kids (1 is a new baby), my husband was finishing school, and we had many other unknowns in our life. To see why and how, read THIS post. As we have gone through this time and are now standing on the cliff of the other side, I have been realizing how much my thinking has changed in many areas. Trials (whether big or small) change us and they are (and should be viewed as) an exciting time as God molds us into who He wants us to be. (Isaiah 64:8  But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.)

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I grew up the daughter of a pharmacist. I commend my parents in many ways for being careful with money and not spending foolishly, so this experience the last several months has been a first for me. Maybe some of what I’m going to write will sound naïve that I’m just realizing these things, or maybe it will sound foreign to you, but whatever your circumstance, I hope it encourages you to view possessions and circumstances differently. To view them as gifts from God and to view each decision as an opportunity lovingly bestowed upon you from a faithful and good God who is gently teaching you and molding you into who He wants you to be. If you have the opportunity to buy something new—praise Him. If you have the opportunity to go without—praise Him.


A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
Psalm 121:1-8

My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of the ways my thinking has changed over these months with the goal of simply encouraging you.

1.         I am LEARNING to be content with what I have rather than looking for new things to need or buy. Even though there are things I would still like, the fashion game (both in clothing and décor) is endless. At some point, we must choose to be content. I’m not out of it yet, but the concept is very freeing.

 

2.         I view all household projects, craft projects, and cooking activities differently. Rather than seeing the “need” to go and buy something to make the project work, I look first at whether or not I need to do the project at all. If I don’t, I view it as a freeing opportunity to do something else. If I do need to do it, I first look for ways to do it for free. If I don’t have all the ingredients for example, can I substitute? Or can I skip that ingredient altogether? Or is there a similar recipe I could use instead? If it’s a decorating or craft project I try to think of materials to substitute. Can I cut up an old skirt or bed sheet I don’t use any more? Can I use a different tool or decorative piece than the example? What do I have in my own home that could possibly work or be changed in some way to work? To whet your palette for this topic, I recently re-decorated our living room for FREE. A post will be coming soon!

 

3.         I LOVE couponing! However, I’ve started to realize it’s okay if I don’t even look through the Sunday paper for an entire week. It’s okay if some of my coupons get behind on being filed, or if I miss a blog post from some of my favorite couponing sites. Those deals WILL come back. Thankfully, they seem to operate on this wonderful cycle. I am learning to trust that GOD will supply all of our needs even if I don’t MAKE it happen through a particularly amazing coupon deal. Time and time again, over these months, I have missed a deal only to be handed the exact thing we needed at the exact time or for someone to hand us money to cover those needs when we least expected it. God is bigger than couponing.

 

4.         I have learned to look around my home and realize it’s okay if things aren’t perfect. It’s okay if I want something to make it better and I have to wait to have it. Maybe my desire will change or maybe the item I need will change. I can be content with what I have. I still have my desires. I still want to have nice things, but I don’t have to be driven by finding a way to get them. I can rest and know there is no rush. Maybe someday I’ll reach the non-desiring stage! :-)

 

5.         I’m learning to be creative—quite a feat for me!! Not creative in craft projects, (necessarily) but in how I provide the things we need. For example, I have started to keep almost all receipts. Right now, my 2 year old almost always stays dry when she sleeps, so we are going through less than half the diapers I had anticipated. My 3 year old son still goes when he sleeps, but soaks through often too. He must need a bigger size. My 7 month old, simply needs new diapers. I have an abundance of size 4 diapers for our current needs for the week. What can I do to provide for my family?

I bagged up an extra package of size 4 and a package of size 5 diapers, with the receipt, and I’m taking them to CVS to exchange them for size 3 and size 6 of the same brand. This will get us comfortably through another week or so and I am going to spend ZERO dollars!

Just to add to the fun of this: Next week, Walgreens will have their diapers on sale 2/$11 and there is a $1.50 off coupon available with 2 prints per printer. I happen to have an old gift card left from an exchange several weeks ago. That will nearly cover the diaper cost which will get us through another 2 weeks of diapers with less than $2 output total! Bottom line: Over a month of diapers for THREE kids for less than $2. I could have gone to Target and picked up diapers, but instead I get to learn creativity. God is so good!

This general concept has happened multiple times over the last several months. Fun side note: If you forget to use a coupon when you checkout at CVS, you can take it back with your receipt and they will give you cash! J

 

6.         My husband and I have begun to view work as a good and exciting thing. There are no more Moan and Groan Mondays for us! We even look for opportunities to work and we tell others when we can work rather than it being a laborious and disappointing task. Our children have been learning about communism and socialism vs. capitalism this week. It has been exciting to share with them the importance of working for our money. They too have been enjoying the fact that Daddy can work to provide for us.

 

7.         My family and I are becoming increasingly familiar with the free lists of things to do online. Not just in our own city, but in others where we have traveled as well. Because we are intentionally trying to find a free activity to do or free event to attend, we are spending more time together than when we just did whatever and the financial side didn’t matter as much. I think it’s because we are becoming more intentional with everything we do. I challenge you to look up “free things to do in________ (your city).” You WILL be amazed at all the options! And it’s not just like a picnic in your backyard—there are free museums, tours, outdoor movies, swimming pools, kids’ craft projects, concerts, zoos, and even dining locations! It’s amazing!

 

8.         Kids love to get STUFF. Who doesn’t, I guess. I am realizing that I COULD take my kids to Target, browse the aisles and let them each pick out a toy, OR I could take them to a FREE event in my community and let them go to the different “freebie tables” as we call them.  Just in the last several weeks, we attended National Night Out, Battle of the Badges Barbecue, the Fire Department’s Open House, and the State Fair all for free. At EACH of these events my children not only participated in TONS of fun activities, but they also came home with bags of stuff—and I did too. We’re talking: bouncy balls, frisbees, pencils, sunglasses, back packs, multiple food items, stickers, books, dollar store toys of their choice, washable tattoos, stuffed animals, fireman hats, police badges, coloring books, hula hoops, and TONS more. Everything I have listed, was 100% free (and I barely scratched the surface, but I think you get the idea!) :-)

 

9.         I have discovered that I don’t have to purchase expensive materials for my children’s schooling. Pretty much everything they need can be found on Pinterest these days. How did we ever survive before Pinterest??? (like 3 years ago! Ha!) Admittedly, this may not work for everyone, but there is A LOT on there and it has been beneficial for me to check Pinterest before Amazon.

 

10.       I am attempting to be creative when it comes to ways to help others. Do I have to provide food or a tangible gift, or can I provide time or a service? Some people don’t have time to clean or complete a project, but if you do, that may be the biggest blessing of all. If you do provide a meal, there are so many you can make from your pantry without spending much (if any money). I actually have an article coming soon on that topic.

 

I share all of this, not so you’ll look at me or my family’s situation, but to encourage you. To encourage you to be excited about whatever trial God has presented you with and to know that He is lovingly shaping you to be who He wants you to be. To encourage you to praise Him in whatever storm you are in. To encourage you to step outside of a financial box and to find creative ways to do things. To encourage you to praise God for the situation he’s given you!

 

-Lydia

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The Biggest Danger of the Mommy Blogs

8:15 last night:

Our house was a disaster. (Like every room – including food and garbage- type of disaster.)

Supper was drying on the uncleared dishes.

Half the groceries were still on the counter from earlier. (I had managed to put most of the refrigerated items away.

Errands went long. (Like the door greeter at Walmart laughed when he saw me leave and said “You’re STILL here?” type long.)

Nap time was given up after an hour of trying to get my 4 little bouncing beans to keep their heads ON THEIR PILLOWS. (Seriously, it was like one of those groundhog bonking games where you are supposed to keep them all in their holes with a padded mallet – and you bonk one, and then another pops up…)

And the kids FINALLY went to bed …45 minutes late.

It was at this low moment (when I should have stopped to pray for strength and focus) that I did what I have done far too many times.

I raced to my beloved laptop to check favorite blogs and to ‘connect.’

To ‘socialize.’

To ‘like’ and ‘be liked.’

I’m not the only mom who does this.

Surrounded by dishes and tantrums, I too often find myself, at the first moment of reprieve, reaching out – hoping for someone to understand – to put into words the discouragement, the hopes, the fears and the joys of my messy, lonely life.

I think this is why stay at home moms make up one of the biggest group of blog readers on the internet.

We are lonely.

We are really longing for someone to relate to.

(And we are too tired to drag the kids off every week to join a MOPS group, and too poor to hire a babysitter more then a couple times a year.)

But there is danger in the Mommy Blogs. I’d never thought about it until I started writing my own blog. But now I have to voice it, and I’d really love to get your thoughts on it.

We always hear about how the mommy blogs can cause envy - of the woman who has the Martha Stewart-type house, cooks 100% from scratch and runs a thriving home business while raising 6 children (who always look like models and never sin.)

We also hear about how these blogs can cause discouragement because no one really has it altogether. It’s just easier to make it look like you do when your blog only records carefully selected pictures and stories.

However, I think the BIGGEST danger of blogs (and all social media) is much closer to the heart.

We Use Blogs to Fill Heart Needs That They are NOT Meant to Fill.

Tired and lonely, we head to the computer when we are spiritually struggling or needing fellowship.

1. We use blogs to fill our spiritual needs.

Rather than retreat to our Bible and reach up toward the One Who will fill our longing souls with His grace, we turn first to our computers.

We do find something in the Christian blogs, but it is like a crumb of food in comparison with the meat of His Word that would fill our starving souls.

These blogs are convicting and spiritually encouraging, but our first moments should be spent filling up on Him, and our later moments could be given to the words of wise Christian sisters.

(To be honest, in my lowest moments as a mom, I have the hardest time picking up my Bible. I may have just yelled at my kids; I may have let the house slip and be struggling with guilt and discouragement. I don’t feel holy enough for God. I would much rather find a blogger mom who I can relate to and yet keep a safe distance from. It is these darkest times though, that I need His pure words the most.)

2. We use blogs to fill our friendship needs.

Rather than reach for the phone and call a friend with whom we can share deep and meaningful conversation, we start surfing through posts.

Rather than looking for friends in our community who will come into our home and know us for who we really are and with whom we can share experiences, we use technology to make ‘connections’ digitally.

But cyber friends can often be smoke and mirrors. Someone with a thousand ‘friends’ can be one of the loneliest.

We become very attached to our favorite bloggers – even though they barely know us. We send our comments out to them with all the love and care of our bestie.

(I’ve completely done this. I checked one of my favorite blogs routinely when her baby was due last year, and when a different favorite blogger failed to respond to a personal message, I was deeply hurt.)

And virtual medias can even distance us from our real friends. We feel like we’re keeping up with our friends because we check up on how their children are growing on Facebook, but we haven’t had a worthwhile conversation with them in 3 years.

And there is a difference. A former roommate on the other end of the phone, knows your struggles and can call you on it if you are wallowing in self-pity. A blog can often convict and encourage us, but it cannot do what a friend does. It’s not meant to.

Blogs DO have their purpose.

As long as we don’t depend on them to fill unprecedented positions, blogs can be a great blessing – adding to our days worthwhile thoughts and encouraging conversations!

My blog has helped me connect with sweet sisters from my past and also make some new friends. I do hope for future conversations and friendships!

So in their place and fulfilling their purpose, blogs (and all social media), are useful and fun!

The main thing is to use blogs as blogs.

Our relationship needs must be filled by relationships!

So as I walk away from this post, I want  to commit myself to go to God when I am filled with loneliness rather than surfing aimlessly through Mommy blogs, and then I hope to call or email a friends who will encourage me, instead of quick checking Facebook statuses.

And dear sister may I encourage you also, when you find yourself with a rare moment of silence, to pause BEFORE reaching for the computer. Instead, pick up your Bible and fill your need tank from the friendship that will be forever – and then maybe reach for the phone to call the old friend you’ve been meaning to call.

 

-Verity

Live Independently of My Circumstances

Recently I celebrated my 30th birthday

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Each year on my birthday, my husband takes the kids, and I get to go off to a lovely coffee shop, buy a $5 large coffee ice cream drink (with whipped cream) and spend some much needed time evaluating the last year and planning for the next.

This year I was a little disappointed because we had planned to have some time to reevaluate together BEFORE I had my alone time.

I wanted him to change some things –

 I wanted him to change some our schedule

 I wanted him to change some priorities

 But I’m glad that the Lord worked it out that way because as I sat there, in one of the rare grown-up, sophisticated, (quiet!!) environments I get to be in in the whole year, feeling a little miffed that we hadn’t had that conversation in which he was going to make all those great changes I had planned for him, I realized one important thing that I hope to carry through the coming year -

The only thing I can control is ME.

I can’t control if my husband throws off my evening or morning routines, but I’m in control of 8:30am-4:30 each day.

I can’t control if the kids are whiney (though it is my job to train them), but I can control if I blow up at them.

I can’t control if the house is old and frustrating, but I can make the best of it and keep it as picked up as possible

I can’t control the economy, but I can control if I give in to fear.

Circumstances can stink. Plans get ruined. Dreams die.

But I CAN still stand strong.

This morning the kids and I were working on Psalm 1 in our devotions.

1 Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree

planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season,

and its leaf does not wither.

In all that he does, he prospers.

4 The wicked are not so,

but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

I drew two trees for them.

The one was a strong and firmly rooted tree beside a river, and the other was a sickly tree barely hanging on.

It was a helpful picture. No matter what our circumstances are, no matter if the kids are whiney, jobs are lost, the economy does a nose dive, we can stand strong – firmly rooted in Him, His promises and His commands.

This last year, I watched Lydia and Matthew go through the hardest year of their marriage as Matthew finished his last difficult year of seminary. Finances were tight. Classes were heavy. Obligations were insane. Jobs were demanding.

Yet Lydia always responded rightly. Again and again I saw her remain calm when I would have been convulsing on the floor.

Late in the year she mentioned to me that at the top of her TO-DO list every day she would write “Live Independently of My Circumstances.”

No matter what happened (and plenty happened this year for them), she tried to respond rightly.

Circumstances were hard, but she stayed focused on Him.

I saw my sister be a strong tree.

She faithfully trained her children, faithfully encouraged Matthew, and faithfully responded rightly again and again.

So as I stand, looking out at (hopefully) another 30 years, I hope that I can learn from my little sister. :-)

Live Independently of My Circumstances and Live Dependently on Him.

-Verity

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When Dreams Don’t Come True

 

I will be 30 in a couple weeks. This is the age when so many of my friends and I are posting on Facebook about our dreams coming true. We post about getting married, job promotions, and having children. Some post about ministries coming to fruition; others about home renovations.

We all post about dreams coming true.

But most of us don’t post about dreams that do not come true – dreams that are lost.

Even when the lost dream is one of the closest things to our hearts, we stay silent.

Who would understand?

Sometimes we sacrifice it for other things that are more important -children, survival.

Sometimes the dream is simply beyond our grasp.

Either way the surrender of those dreams usually happens in silence.

Perhaps only our closest friends know how hard it is to let those dreams go. Often they don’t even know. (Who can truly understand another person’s heartache?)

But losing these dreams is an important part of the Christian walk.

This is surrender.

This is recognizing that God and His plan are enough for us.

In an amazing article on trust and surrender, a friend recently wrote about a dream that was lost. After 5 sons, she realized she may never get to mother a daughter. After prayer and some struggle, she surrendered it to God.

It really struck something with me.

Like all of us to varying degrees, I’ve needed to lay a dream on the altar and have been learning to trust Him more in the process. Through the surrendering of this dream and the embracing of His different plan for me, I’ve been learning several truths.

1. God is Enough for Our Joy

We don’t need ____ to be happy.

If we think we do, we are reducing God’s worth, and we are making that lost dream an idol.

We need to realize He is sufficient for us. He is enough. His grace is enough.

2. God is Enough for Our Purpose.

We were not created to do great things for God. We were created for Him to work His perfect will through us.

We try to make right decisions, and we make choices based on our priorities and interests and strengths. But who gave us those strengths and interests? God.

He picks.

Not us.

If we work, and he gives fruit, it is simply a gift.

The homemaker who faithfully serves her family and seeks to obey God in her humble day, is not less rewarded then the silver tongued evangelist who enjoys hundreds of golden opportunities to see God’s work.

Because it’s God’s work. He gives the increase.

The homemaker and the evangelist were simply called to faithfully play out their jobs.

We run with patience the race that IS SET before us. (Passive tense. We don’t set up the race. The only action word that we do is RUN.)

We are called to run what HE sets before us. And He gives the increase.

3. God’s Plan is Better

Right now my four-year-old wants more than anything to be a hero. He talks constantly about saving his sisters from the monster under the bed, saving all our friends at church from wild animals, and saving our family from bad men.

Wisdom has taught me that God’s plan for working out these desires in my son’s life may be very different than what my son imagines. God may plan for him to be a hero by being a provider for his family, a witness in his community, or a leader in his church. My son wants to slay a dragon.

Whatever God’s plan for him, it will be deeper and better than the crowd-pleasing grandeur he has planned for himself.

4. We Learn that God is Enough. Period.

If tomorrow one of us were stranded on a desert island.

Hope of rescue: Gone.

Every dream: Gone.

And we lived out every day with only Him. Only His love to comfort us when lonely, only His grace to strengthen us when discouraged, only daily communion with Him and hope of Heaven to give any joy, He would be ENOUGH.

If in the sorrow and isolation, we could fulfill our life’s calling to faithfully worship Him through prayer and remembrance of the Bible verses we’ve memorized, it would be ENOUGH.

Now to think, when we are surrounded by blessings of comfort, family, church, successes, those are simply extras!

ANY dreams realized are extras!

Because ultimately HE is ENOUGH!

What a joy then, in an act of obedience and love, to lay down lost those dreams, embrace what He does set before us, and thank Him for being ENOUGH for us.

 

-Verity

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Where Did “My” Ministries Go?

 

Before my husband and I were married, I had the opportunity to be actively involved in multiple ministries in churches, at college, in my community, and in my home.  I also worked full time for a Bible memorization ministry where I directed Vacation Bible Schools in dozens of churches, was able to impact many children and teens, and had ministries to the Amish as well. I also spent several months on tour for a puppetry company where I taught classes on various ministry tools. A love of ministry is one of the things that attracted my husband and me to each other. After marriage, we became actively involved in a dynamic inner city church with endless ministry opportunities. I share all of this to express my hearts’ desire to serve God in ministry to others…

The last few years, my husband and I have been in an interesting situation as he has been finishing seminary and we have had 3 children somewhat close in age. Our second child is what’s called a “highly sensitive child” which affects most aspects of our life—though we love her immensely!! We are also currently in a funny church situation as we make some life transitions. All of this together has left me with very few to zero ministry opportunities… at least that’s how it sometimes feels.

It has been over a year since I stood before a Sunday school class of wide eyed children, over two years since I shared God’s Word with a wonderful group of ladies, and nearly 3 years since I directed a large group of children in an athletic activity. For months my heart ached to do these things and I would go to church feeling inadequate because I wasn’t taking part in many aspects of ministry there. So what happened to “my” ministries?

God prepared and raised up marvelous other people to take them on, but he didn’t leave me in the dust with nothing to do. He gave me 3 very special children to transfer my love of ministry, and serving, and teaching, and traveling, and sharing, and directing, and counseling, and caring, and loving toward. God gave me the talents he gave me for specific purposes at different times in life and there was a time when those talents were used to help others across the country, but now there is a time when those talents are used to help 3 little people within the walls of my own home.

I used to love camp ministry because I had the opportunity to be with the same group of girls 24/7 (or 6) and I felt like I could make a more lasting impact than if I was just with them a few hours a day in a VBS or a few hours one time in a class. But what if I had the opportunity to be with someone nearly 24/7 for 18 years?? What if I had nearly 157,680 hours to impact 1 life—or 3 lives? What kind of impact could I make?

These facts make me realize two things:

 

  • Why am I complaining that I am currently in a SEASON of life where I can’t have as many ministries to others?
  • What kind of impact am I making?

This is a short season of my overall life. I had years to minister to others before this phase, and Lord willing, I will have years after this phase to minister to others again. This is a phase and just like all the other ministries I need to embrace this one just as much and give it my all to glorify God in each aspect of how I minister to my children. I need to give my very best and be transparent, and look for the teachable moments in the 157,680 hours just as much as I did in the 2 hours. What an amazing opportunity I have been given to minister to these children! These wide eyed and wonderful children who call me Mama; who love me and trust me, and desire to learn from me. I get approximately 157,680 hours (and more after they turn 18) to pour into their lives! Why would I ever complain about that ministry opportunity? God is so good to allow me to minister to them!

The second thing this truth makes me wonder is what kind of impact am I making? Just like with any other ministry, I need to start my day by asking God for a love for and an understanding of my children. I need to ask Him for the teachable moments and wisdom in my responses. Then I need to set myself aside and pour into their lives. I need to take this day in day out ministry just as seriously as I did the other ministries.

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I have been blessed with an amazing opportunity and approximately 157,680 hours to pour into each of these children and I need to make the very most of the current ministry God has given me. I hope that I never again complain about not having a ministry, because the greatest one is my own children.

-Lydia

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Wars and Rumors of Wars

Increasingly powerful Big Brother, Stazi-like stories (in our country) coming up almost every day, power grabs, high-ranking officials whose values are opposite mine, enemies within our country and without, empire building, economic troubles.

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time a hundred years and guarantee my children and grandchildren some relative safety from the increasingly socialistic government. But to what? The fever of 1917? World War I? The Great Depression? World War II? The drafting during Vietnam? The Cold War?

Then I realize that there is no time or place that was truly void of danger and heartache.

And I remember Christ’s words. “There will be wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24)

There have always been wars, and there will always be wars – until Christ’s return.

We live in a fallen world.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I was pregnant for the first time.

And it crosses my mind every time I read another frightening news article.

And while sometimes I find myself paralyzed with fear for my children, I need to remember some important truths.

1. God has put Them Here, at This Time, in This Place, for His Purpose.

I remember the first time I voiced my fears to my husband. I was pregnant, and I was sorry to bring my little baby into a messed up world. He responded concerning the baby. “He/She will be part of the solution.” It changed things in my mind. Godly children who grow into godly men and women can make a difference for the better. I’m not raising victims. The goal is to raise leaders and lights.

2. I Can Prepare My Children.

imageI don’t know if my children will face persecution for their faith or have to survive an economic collapse, but I can help prepare them to the best of my ability. My husband  (who is into that stuff) has already started teaching our 4 year old about survival, and we work on verses, the Romans Road, and a toddler catechism a few times a week so they will not be deceived.

3. My involvement in Politics Makes a Difference

imageIn the future I need to write about the incredible usefulness of political involvement. You can make a MUCH bigger difference then you think! For this post, suffice it to say that even in large cities VERY few people get involved, and just a few passionate people – willing to give a few hours here or there can get a good candidate elected. (Couple of decades of experience speaking here.) This summer my son and daughter joined us at our state caucus, and all the kidsimage helped with a parade. If only 10% of Christians got involved, we’d have a very different political lay-out.

4. What is the Worst That can Happen?

In her super good book “Calm My Anxious Heart” Linda Dillow suggests thinking to the end of your worry – and then giving it to God. Ask, ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ The worst that could happen as the economy continues to plummet is that  my children will not enjoy as much comfort as I did as a kid. We may need to work really hard just to survive. (That’s not really a bad thing! They will probably have much better character then I do!) And the worst that could happen (in a war or economic collapse) is that my children could die – and then they will be with Jesus. They will no longer be in pain. They will be in Heaven. And in a thousand years, it will be a distant memory. This life is a vapor!

5.  I Need to Trust God

Ultimately, it always gets back to trusting God.  I need to remember that my little ones are truly HIS; not mine.

He loves them more then I do.

He placed them here for this time. He has a perfect plan for them.

My job is simply to prepare them for whatever that plan is. (–By HIS grace, HIS wisdom, and HIS strength.)

-Verity

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A Letter to My Son

imageLately my almost-five year old has been using the same heart-wrenching phrase whenever he comes up against something he doesn’t want to do.

“But Mama! That doesn’t make me HAPPY!”

I wrote this letter as a pep-talk to myself, and I decided to share it because I thought other moms would relate!

 

 

My son,

It is not that I do not want you to be happy. I do want you to be happy. It fills my heart to nearly full when your eyes dance innocently and you break into exuberant laughter, when the pure joy of childhood seems to surround and embody you as you run around just enjoying it.

Yes, it fills my heart to nearly full when I see you happy.

But son, I have a job to do. During these few sweet years of childhood, I need to help prepare you to be a man. And adulthood is not all about being happy.

So while there are plenty of times for cuddling, playing ball, chasing each other around the yard, singing funny songs, and you telling me about your dreams, there must also be many times of learning to work harder than you feel like, having a good attitude when you’re tired, sharing a toy that you want to keep, sitting still when you want to play, being content when you don’t get something you want, being kind when someone has hurt you, and learning to trust God when you are scared.

All this and more must be learned during these years of childhood.

So while there will be plenty of fun and happy moments, there will also be many moments in the safest place possible – your home – to learn and grow and be prepared for times ahead.

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Because when I see you respond rightly when tempted to get angry or share a toy you wanted to keep, you are winning spiritual battles and maturing into a man.

And those are the moments when I can see glimpses into the future of the wise and godly man you will become.

Those are the moments that my heart is not almost full; it is filled to overflowing.

- Verity

Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” Ecc. 12:1 ESV

 

There is ALWAYS Enough Time

Good Pic of Kids

I have 4 small children under the age of 5.

But there IS always enough time.

There IS the time necessary to train, love, protect my children and enough time to be a helpmeet to my husband.

I know there is because I know that God would not bless me with more then I can handle, and I know that He commands me to train my children and help my husband.

Therefore, there HAS to be enough time.

On a more experiential note, I’ve seen again and again that there is enough time to fulfill my responsibilities as a trainer, mother, protector, and teacher, and if I make it a priority, there is (usually) enough strength to not fall asleep while my poor husband is talking to me at the end of the day. (Pacing around while we talk or a 5:00 PM coffee may be necessary.)

What there is NOT always enough time for is checking Facebook 27 times to see if people have liked my clever status, following more then a couple worthwhile blogs, staying in touch with more then just a few friends, and keeping up on more then one hobby.

There is NOT even the time to do the outside ministries I’d LOVE to do because right now – I need to remember this is my ministry.

There is NOT enough time to feel sorry for myself because I want more contact with others or more thank yous for my constant efforts to keep the house semi-clean, the kids alive, and food made. (Actually more then wanting thank yous, I’d at least like less complaining…)

It just gets down to realizing what IS important – and what’s not. When I realize what IS important, I realize there IS enough time for it.

-Verity

A Mother’s Time

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about aalice 1 copy great quote taken from Lewis’s Screwtape Letters in which a senior demon teaches a junior demon how to tempt people. 
 
This is relevant for anyone, but I immediately connected it to mothers.
I don’t have ‘a right’ to get a lot accomplished in a day. Every moment is a gift. My children are not stealing time from me when we have a ‘bad’ day, and I don’t have the minutes I want to clean up or complete a project. Every minute is a blessing. I should be thankful for the minutes I have to do projects (or train little hearts) – not feel victimized over the minutes that must be used for unplanned activities.
“My dear Wormwood,

Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury…. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him.   It is the unexpected visitor…or the friend’s talkative wife… that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright. 
You have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we cannot find a shred of argument in its defence. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels….

When I speak of preserving this assumption in his mind, therefore, the last thing I mean you to do is to furnish him with arguments in its defence. There aren’t any. Your task is purely negative. Don’t let his thoughts come anywhere near it. Wrap a darkness about it, and in the centre of that darkness let his sense of ownership-in-Time lie silent, uninspected, and operative.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE ”

(In Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis in Chapter 21)
I think this is a primary struggle for all Christians – and especially mothers because interruptions and time-sucks are simply an hourly thing. I’m so glad that as a Christian, I can recognize that God is as in control of the interruptions as He is in control of everything else in the universe!
-Verity

Teaching Children Flexibility

Some kids are more OCD then others.

My children are fairly flexible, but in a few areas…not so much!

It drives them CRAZY if they don’t get to sing every.single.word of any given song.

Here is how we talked about the important lesson of flexibility.

Object Lesson: Noodles (Spaghetti or Lasagna), water, pot.

(I’d suggest starting to heat water ahead of time or this object lesson will take awhile!)

Hold up the uncooked noodle.

Say, “Sometimes we don’t like things that we have to do. We get angry and break up because we are upset!!”

(BREAK Noodle)

Bring kids into kitchen. They can sit on a chair or stool a safe distance from the stove.

“But God allows us to have things happen each day until we can learn to be flexible. He lovingly allows things we don’t like – like having to pick up our toys or share. These things teach us flexibility.”

“Sometimes these things are uncomfortable  – like punishment or shots.”

(Put noodle into boiling water.) “This noodle is in an uncomfortable situation, but it will soon be flexible. It will be a better, more useful because of the hot water.”

DISCUSS: Let kids come up with situations where they can be flexible while the noodle cooks.

ACTIVITY: At the end we practiced singing a song, and they could not start singing until I pointed to them. I tried to make it into a game though it was still an effort on their part, they tried to be flexible and not sing until pointed at.

So there is simple lesson on flexibility. I couldn’t think of a good Bible verse though I wish I had. What ideas can you think of?

-Verity