Monday, December 20, 2010


This morning my oldest son (who is about 5-1/2) asked me, "Mom, what's a stranger?" This question probably came up because the doorbell rang yesterday and he answered it before Daddy or I could get there. (It turned out to be our next-door neighbor, Miss Audrey, bearing Christmas treats — definitely not a stranger.)

Since we haven't really talked a lot about "stranger danger" I took the opportunity to explain that a stranger is someone you don't know... and that the problem with strangers is that you don't know if they're kind/good people or bad people with bad intentions.

Anyway, we talked about what could happen... that if a stranger were "bad" they could take him from us and hurt him, and then how would we find him? (I was hoping that this would impress upon him the need to use caution around people he didn't know.) Then he asked, "Would they steal our toys?" I said, "Possibly, or our computer, or our money. Or even our car." And he replied, "How would they steal our car? It would be too big to carry!"


Sunday, December 12, 2010


If you've watched the news you've probably heard about the big snow in Minnesota on Saturday. Wow! Now, I will admit, I was pretty skeptical of the weatherman's hype... I thought, Oh c'mon... we're Minnesotans, aren't we? What's a few inches of snow?

Well... 17" is actually quite A LOT. [sheepish grin]

Apparently this is the 5th biggest official snow total on record, and it's also the most snow in a storm since the famed Halloween Blizzard of 1991.

All I know is, I am so glad I spent the cashola to purchase warm Lands' End winter gear for my 5-year-old this year (I have the unfortunate blessing/curse of being thrifty)..... because he played outside for an hour today in 5-degree weather, and when he came in he wasn't cold in the least. Yahoo! :)

I'd say the chances of a White Christmas this year are... 100%.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Learning how to be God's woman

This hit a nerve for me this morning during my time with God...

"A Christian worker [anyone called by God] has to learn how to be God's man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things."
~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest, October 25

He is not kidding! Can you think of "meager and worthless things" that threaten to keep you from being excellent for the Lord? I could probably rattle off a handful without thinking too hard...

Lord, help me/us run hard for You— for Your purposes and Your glory!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The road less traveled

Don't expect the road less traveled to be paved.
~by my husband—King of Puns, Nicknames, and Analogies

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

God is sovereign, and He is good

One thing I feel God impressing upon me lately is the truth of His sovereignty and how it might apply to my life as a mom...

...that I can try with all my might to be the perfect mother, but that doesn't guarantee the outcome of my kids

...that God didn't create cookie-cutter Christians, and therefore there is no one right way of training your kids

...that even if the "fruit" I so desperately want to see displayed in my kids doesn't appear to exist, it does not mean that I'm doing a bad job -- I sense God telling me not to get discouraged, because He is able to use the events of my kids' youth to form them into the men He wants them to be

How oddly it strikes me now, that after reading a number of really good parenting books I really felt like I was in control over how my kids turn out. Ha! GOD is in control, and {1} He is good and does only good; {2} He has plans to prosper my kids and me, not to harm; and {3} He will work all things together for the good of those who love Him. Knowing all of this, I don't even want to be in control! I will follow Him.

So this is just a quick update as to where I'm at these days. I deeply hope that God will use my struggles to encourage others of His goodness and love!!

{1} Psalm 119:68, {2} Jeremiah 29:11, {3} Romans 8:28

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More than a sabbatical...

Boo hoo... God is calling me to stop blogging (writing posts or checking other blogs) for a time.... how long? I don't know..... but I don't really wanna give it up! This is painful! But I sense Him calling me to a deeper dependency on Him, with fewer distractions. I'm really kind of sad about this... but I've felt it coming on for awhile now... and I'm finally just obeying.

So, I guess this is.... well, it's not good-bye...... it's see ya later! Please know how much I have enjoyed this sweet fellowship with you, my fellow moms! You have ministered to my heart in the most beautiful ways...

With love,
Sara K.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lighten up a little, I say!

I received this as an email. Don't know that it's very edifying...but perhaps worth a grin or a chuckle, at least! :)

In this life I'm a woman. If I ever had a "next life" I'd like to come back as a bear. When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everybody knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too.

If you're a bear, your mate EXPECTS you to wake up growling. He also EXPECTS that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Just sorta makes me want to be a bear. :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Being led somewhere new, deeper...

I get the sense that God is leading me somewhere new in my faith. A deepening. He is reassuring me of His goodness and love. And He is leading me to discover more depth of Who He is.

The process is not quick, and at times it is rather uncomfortable... which makes me want to rush it along! But God is a gentle leader, and He takes me by the hand and walks through it with me. Even when He seems silent, I still know He's there.

Last Sunday at church we sang a song called You Alone Can Rescue, and the first verse goes like this:

Who, O Lord, could save themselves?
Their own soul could heal?
My shame was deeper than the sea;
Your grace is deeper still.

The third line, "My shame was deeper than the sea," really resonated with me, as I had lost my temper with my boys when we were heading out the door for church that morning. Tears started to fill my eyes. Then I sang the line, "Your grace is deeper still"—but the Spirit nudged me when that line didn't resonate as strongly as the one about my shame. It became abundantly clear to me that my shame is bigger in my mind than God's grace!! Yikes! So I've been praying about that...

I just finished reading a book by Larry Crabb called The Pressure's Off. This has been part of my "process" too. The author points out that many of us Christians can get hung up seeking God more for His blessings than just to enjoy His presence, and how we get caught in a trap of trying to do everything "right" so God will bless our lives (i.e. follow these steps for a perfect marriage, perfect kids, etc.). But that's not accurate theology! God is sovereign and He has a purpose and a plan for everything in our lives, especially the difficult and painful stuff.

Here are a few quotes from the book (from ch. 19) that revealed my heart on a few things...
As a culture, present-day Christianity has redefined spiritual maturity. ... We're so committed to discovering and applying God's principles for making life work that we no longer value intimacy with God as our greatest blessing. ...

We seem more interested in managing life into a comfortable existence than letting God spiritually transform us through life's hardships.

...Jean Pierre de Caussade...believed that everything that happened to him, both blessings and trials, led him to God.

...all things in life...are part of a grand design. They're intended by an uncontrollable, mysterious, and relentlessly single-minded [God] to immerse us in His relational life.

Doesn't that just cut right down to the bone? It helped me see that I had gotten off track. My deepest passion in life is to love God and live my life for Him, but somewhere along the line (during my difficulties with parenting and my self-loathing) my focus had shifted to my desire to have an easier life, and seeking God more for blessings than simply enjoying being with Him! I'm glad my eyes have been opened to this. It is changing the way I pray. Not that I don't ask Him for help anymore, but I am trying to focus more on Him and His wonderfulness than on what He can do for me. It is a beautiful thing!

Lord, I do not want to settle for the happiness that comes from an easier life. I want to encounter You more than I want blessings from You!

[Sorry my posts are often so long! I try to be concise...but I imagine it as being like sitting down for coffee with you in fellowship. ☺]

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Recently I was at my chiropractor's office having a session of therapeutic massage. Oh, glory! I had a kink behind my shoulder blade for over a week, and it radiated down into my arm... youch!

During my session, I could hear the receptionist—a bubbly woman in her early 50s—laughing just outside the door, and it made me grin. Her laugh is just sort of contagious. And I started thinking, "She has such a buoyant personality—always a sunny outlook." (And to think she had just told me she has breast cancer would be having a mastectomy the following week!) I found myself wishing that God had made my personality a little more merry, like hers. It made me wonder what the world would be like if more people's personalities were more cheerful and uplifting. Couldn't God use more personalities like that? Wouldn't you think He'd place more value on an outgoing, cheerful personality?

But then I remembered how God made us as individuals—Psalm 139 says He knit me together in my mother's womb—and further, in Genesis 1:27, that we were made in His image. We each have our own distinct personality that HE chose specifically for us... why? For His good purposes, for His enjoyment, and for His glory!

So I have concluded God must have His reasons for making everyone so different, and some of us less naturally sunny than others... and He values them all! He delights in us (Psalm 149:4). And He can use our personalities in beautiful ways when we surrender ourselves to Him and allow Him to channel our natural tendencies toward being sensitive, or bossy, or laid back, or gregarious. :)

My husband is downstairs presently, playing his guitar and singing "He loves us, oh how He loves us..." (a David Crowder song)—and how fitting as I sit here pondering how to conclude this post. Thank you, God, for loving us so completely!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Plans to prosper you, not to harm you

About a year ago, the four of us (me, Jon, and our two sons) were playing in the living room. Brandon was doing something nutty (I wish I could remember what it was exactly) and Jon asked him to stop. Brandon was fairly upset about it, and as Jon was trying to explain to him that he could get hurt, the first thing that sprang to my lips, albeit sort of jokingly, was, "Oh, Brandon... Daddy has plans to prosper you, not to harm you!"

Now, Jeremiah 29:11 has long been a favorite verse of mine...
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
...but I'd never put it in such a context... and suddenly I could really visualize God asking me to do or not do something out of the heart of a loving Father who knows what's best for His child!

Parenting can really give you some awesome insights into God's love! ☺

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A sabbatical of sorts

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

This morning God put these verses on my heart. I am viewing them from the standpoint of a parent needing to discipline my children. It is unpleasant for everyone involved. BUT, it will "produce a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it"! I want that for my sons!!

My oldest son's attitude seems to slip a little further south every day. It's hard to put a finger on it, but I know that I factor into it [not being self-deprecating]. I feel silly admitting it, but somehow I don't always see clearly when I need to discipline—I can be lulled into a state of dullness—and my natural tendency is to lean more toward the side of grace [in the form of giving a zillion reminders and warnings] when it comes to disobedience... but a four-year-old does not understand the concept of grace... only that he's gotten away with something.

So anyway, I've gotta get focused. I have a big job on my hands. An important one. An eternal one. My kids need more focused training. It's not a "me thing"—where I'm wanting perfection or an easier life, like I mentioned in my last post—it's a "righteousness and peace thing". Somehow even the simplest things distract my thoughts, my mission—even the most basic things. And my time is so limited. The only "me time" I'm really allotted is from 1:00 to 2:00 while my sons are having roomtime—and I am desperately needing that time to realign my focus, my heart with the Lord's.

So I have to choose—how will I use my time? Choosing is hard. But I am determined to fill my head with the Word and prayer as much as I can, so I can be at my best for training and nurturing my kids.

I'm telling you this in case you wonder about my silence! :) I am still here and things are OK, I just won't be on the computer much during the week. On the weekend I should have a little more time to catch up on things, though! I am energized by the fellowship I have with you, my dear fellow bloggers! Your friendships mean more to me than you could ever know! I will be thinking of you during the week, and hoping to make a few connections perhaps in the evenings or on the weekends.

I am comforted by the words of Hebrews 4:15,16...
This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's the motive?

I was inspired last Friday. I sat down with a pen and paper while my kids were playing and started assessing my role as a mom as well as my sons' progress. I wrote down some areas in which I felt the boys were needing improvement... some new rules (such as, no jumping off the arms of the couch) ...things I want to pray more diligently about (that my boys would be lovers of God more than lovers of pleasure) ...and exhortations to myself, like, "You're in this season with the boys—like it or not—don't miss these great opportunities to train them!" I also recognized that the chore chart of a 4-year-old boy is more indicative of my diligence in requiring his help than his desire/ability. And I started drafting a loose schedule for these summer days, seeing that large quantities of unplanned time land the boys in trouble (you know what they say about idle hands!).

So I was feeling pretty good about all that, even though it was just a brainstorming session for me. But as I was discussing it with my husband on Saturday, I realized that, while these things are all good, I need to be careful that my hope isn't just to create an easier life for myself! That sneaky motive of the “easy life” was creeping in again!

I'm so glad that came to light! While I still intend to somehow implement my ideas, I want to do so without my goal (or my hope) being in an easier, more pain-free life. I want my heart to be centered on God's leading and His will for my life—and focusing on my faithfulness as a parent, not fruit! God's ways are good and perfect, and I know I will never be disappointed if I seek His heart on the way I should live!

Have you ever started making plans...but then felt God remind you to check your motives? Are you willing to wait on God's timing and be content with His processes, purposes, and plans for your life? (I am asking myself the same question!) I'm so glad God is so loving—never accusing or demeaning—in His manner toward us!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Extreme mercy

I've had a break-through! Praise the Lord!! This is what happened during my time with God today:

I read 2 Chronicles 33:1-20, which tells of Manasseh's reign as king of Judah. Manasseh did terribly wicked things:

* he built pagan altars in the Temple of the Lord
* he set up an idol in God's Temple
* he sacrificed his own sons in the fire
* he led the people of Judah & Jerusalem to do even more evil than the pagan nations God had destroyed when the people of Israel entered the land

The Bible says he aroused the Lord's anger! Verse 10 says the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all His warnings! So the Lord allowed Assyria to take Manasseh prisoner.

But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request.
(2 Chronicles 33:12-13)

Can you believe that?! After all the wicked things Manasseh had done, when he humbled himself before the Lord, God heard his prayer and rescued him, restoring him to his role as king! God's mercy is incredible!!

So after reading that, I started feeling this peace settling into my soul... that if God could forgive Manasseh, He could surely forgive an imperfect parent like me... when almost immediately the words of those parenting books came back to me, like hands around my throat, in judgement. "You can win with your kids!" they said. Yet I saw only failures; so this is what completely robs me of being able to enjoy my kids or my role as a mom.

My heart cried out, "How do I break these chains?!" I could almost feel the freedom... it was so close... like I could see Jesus' open arms, and I was moving toward Him with my arms outstretched... almost had my hands in His hands... but it was just beyond my grasp... and the enemy soldiers snatched me away and escorted me back to the POW camp.

"Help me, Jesus! What can I do?" I cried out to the Lord (instead of calling a friend or emailing a pastor).

Then He spoke to my heart: So, what are you going to believe, Sara? The books, or Me?

"You, Lord, of course," I responded. And right then, I realized that those authors weren't trying to set an impossible standard for parenting; rather, they were trying to encourage by saying, "Don't give up when the going gets tough, or when the world says your efforts won't matter. God will help you 'win' if you seek Him." [They didn't clarify that 'winning' doesn't mean your kids are perfectly behaved, or that they have 'arrived' by age 6 or 10 or 15 (or ever).]

Anyway.... God did it! He slayed that big dragon!! No more condemnation! My heart feels so light, and I have been in sweet communion with the Lord all evening. It feels wonderful! Lord, help me continue to take in Your tender mercy more and more!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Question about books

Can I ask y'all.... what is your rule of thumb with regard to buying books?

My mom is a huge book lover and owns many books, and my husband and I both love reading as well..... we have tons of books around the house (my husband even built a bookshelf above our closet doors to accommodate our burgeoning book collection—his ingenious design is pictured below—and we have another big bookcase in the living room).

So as I search for books for my sons, or find ones they like at the library, it is very tempting for me to buy them! (Especially when I can find a good price on eBay or Amazon.)

So I thought I'd poll my blogging pals—how do you decide, especially with kids books, what to buy and what to simply check out at the library?

Henry and Mudge

I found a book series that Brandon (who is almost 5) really enjoys, called Henry and Mudge—about a young boy, Henry, and his canine companion, Mudge, an English Mastiff.

This one, called Henry and Mudge and the Best Day of All, is Brandon's new favorite. (Is it any wonder why, since his 5th birthday is on the horizon?)

There are 28 books in the Henry and Mudge series, which Cynthia Rylant has written over a 20 year period starting in 1987.

In doing a little digging, it appears that this book series might be commonly found in 2nd or 3rd grade curriculums—but for now, my son thoroughly enjoys having them read to him... over and over again! ☺

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Boys, trucks, and dirt

Here's what we've been up to lately: enjoying the great outdoors in suburbia! Here are a few pics of my boys in their usual spot... in the dirt. In this case, that would be the dirt around our bushes. We're too cheap to spring for a sandbox. Kidding! We just haven't gotten around to it. (You know, gotta find one—or make one—with a cover so the neighborhood cat doesn't claim it as his new litter box. Ew.) In this picture, Brandon looked up just in time to say "cheeeese."

Notice how dirty Ryan's legs and socks are? He's down in it...

...on his tummy... in a white t-shirt, of course... having a good ol' time. (What was his mother thinking??) I am starting to accept that he may need a bath daily.

I love it when they play together nicely like this! My heart's desire is for them to be best friends. ☺

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Change is in his future...and mine

Ryan, my 2-1/2 year old son, is adventurous. He likes to climb on stuff. And under stuff. He always has. Two weeks ago he figured out how to climb into his crib. Yesterday, he climbed out of it (and landed with a sharp thud on floor, followed by loud crying—he's not terribly agile...built more like a football player ☺).

So now my husband and I have to seriously consider a "big boy bed" for Ryan. However, I confess I am really anxious about this! My biggest concern: it takes this child over an hour to fall asleep at night! He lays in his crib (often with his legs propped up against the crib rail) and jabbers, recites movie lines, and sings at the top of his lungs. It's actually quite funny to observe... but I'm sure you can understand my concern. My schedule has been running like a fairly well-oiled machine around here... at least as far as knowing what to expect (what time everybody wakes up, etc.). And Momma needs her time with God first thing in the morning!

BUT, I have to remember how nervous I was when Brandon first slept in his "big boy bed" when he was just 2 years old... and he did it! He obeyed us and stayed in bed, and he still stays in bed.

So, another great millstone... er, milestone, that is... ahead for la Casa de K! Any advice or perspective is welcome! ☺

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Therefore... pray

Last weekend our pastor gave a message at church called "The End is Near" based on 1 Peter 4:7-11. Here's what I took away from it.

Verse 7—"The end of all things is near. Therefore..."

Therefore, what???

This verse was written about 2,000 years ago, and the end was near then.... so here in the year 2010 the end is likely even nearer now! (Especially when you look at world events.) What would you do if you only had 30 days to live? Or 100 days to live? Eat all the desserts you want? Take a vacation? Buy that $200 pair of shoes you've been eyeing? Share the Gospel with someone on your heart? Make amends for a broken relationship? Wrap up some other loose ends?

Pastor joked about his devotion to his ever-important "to-do" lists, and how his wife calls him a human doing instead of a human being.

But according to verse 7—therefore..."be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray."

Thought: *Do you believe more can be done by praying than doing??*

Verse 8—therefore..."love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."

Verse 9—therefore..."offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."

Verses 10,11—therefore..."each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms..."

Pretty convicting, eh? I thought so... especially the part about praying vs. doing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Favorite things

This morning as I was lying in bed, before I got up for the day, I started thinking about things I would classify as my favorite things. Here is a short list...

1. a good stretch first thing in the morning (the kind that evokes a "rrrr" sound from deep within)
2. morning sunshine
3. a "coffee date" with a girlfriend
4. the sound of mourning doves calling
5. a mid-day quiet time on our patio (when the kids are napping) in the shade of the maple tree
6. singing my heart out to loud worship music in the car
7. going for a walk in the quiet of morning
8. a back-scratch
9. the [usually] sweet countenance of my boys when they first wake up ☺

What are your favorite things?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seeing Jesus' loving, patient, kind character

This morning in the car, I was really thinking about God's love for me. I had these thoughts as I was watching a man limp across the street: "I hope no one makes fun of him and makes him feel bad" (as my eyes filled up with tears). And I thought, I bet that's how God feels toward that man... protective like a father. And then I thought, I bet that's how God feels toward ME... protective like a father... saying to Himself, "I will be upset if someone makes fun of my Sara..."—and that was a very precious thought to me.

For the last several days I have been reading from Luke, and writing down verses and thoughts about how Jesus ministered (showed love) to people in personal ways—and it is pretty neat (and obvious) to see His loving, patient, kind character. Some of my favorites are:

Luke 4:40 — "As the sun went down that evening, people throughout the village brought sick family members to Jesus. No matter what their diseases were, the touch of His hand healed every one."
---> Jesus touched each one individually, and healed them. I would bet He looked deeply and lovingly into the eyes of each one of them too.

Luke 5:18 — "Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach Him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, 'Young man, your sins are forgiven.'"
---> Jesus was teaching to a crowd when this happened, and He wasn't irritated that they interrupted Him. He saw their faith and this man's need, and He attended to them.

Luke 5:12 — "In one of the villages, Jesus met a man with an advanced case of leprosy. When the man saw Jesus, he bowed with his face to the ground, begging to be healed. “Lord,” he said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared."
---> Jesus touched this man, who had an advanced case of leprosy! The man probably hadn't been touched by anyone in a long time. That in itself must have been such a gift! But then Jesus healed him too!

So I'm just being reminded again of how very loving and kind Jesus is, how merciful and compassionate. Again, not sure how I lost sight of that—but probably something to do with me being a little too introspective during my struggles here, and not letting Him minister to my heart—almost like I rejected His love because I insisted I was too much of a sinner.... just like Peter in Luke 5:8 — "When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around You.” —But Jesus then went on to invite Peter to join Him in "fishing for men"...... amazing! Jesus doesn't require perfection, and His love and compassion for us is great! So awesome!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Organization = pleasure

I love organization. It's in my blood. It gives me great pleasure! I admit, I can be a bit compulsive at times... like at the store when perusing the greeting cards, I have to restrain myself from putting the ones that are out of place back where they belong! HOWEVER, being married and having children has helped me loosen up on my neatnik tendencies. ☺

Well anyway... I was just looking in one of my cupboards and went, "Aak! Too much clutter!" A little reorganizing was in order. Here's the before...

...and after...

OK. Maybe to some of you, there's not much difference... but for me, immense satisfaction! ☺ Gotta love those Modular Mates® from Tupperware!

Friday, May 14, 2010

God IS love

And I ask Him'll be able to take in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love.
[Ephesians 3:18, The Message]

Two nights ago I was talking to my husband, Jon, about my continuing struggle to understand [to "take in"] God's love for me. I was trying to describe how painful it is... that it sort of feels like being in a loveless marriage, where God is just going through the motions—He's committed to stay in the relationship and choosing to do loving things, even though He doesn't really feel love for me. (Isn't that awful? Yes, I realize these thoughts are very skewed... do ya think the enemy has maybe been working overtime on me?!?)

But then Jon reminded me of 1 John 4:8... "God is love."

Talk about a light bulb moment! God IS love! (How could I have forgotten that?) He doesn't just act it out because it's the right thing to do; He embodies it!! He can't fake it or do it half-heartedly; it is His very character... the very threads of His being!

Oh, and regarding my feelings that God's love feels "collective" instead of individual (such as in John 3:16... "God so loved the world")—my pastor reminded me that God's character is constant and consistent: what is true collectively is true for the individual. And, God shows His intimate interest in our individual lives in Psalm 139—as God had just reminded me about two weeks ago (see my post from May 3).

I'm still processing this, but the truth of it is amazing—God loves me personally! And He loves you personally!

Perhaps to some people this might sound so elementary—you'd think I would know this stuff after 14 years! Obviously, the enemy really pulled one over on me through my parenting guilt—but as I "re-learn" about God's love and mercy, I think it goes deeper and deeper. And how can I not share what I'm learning?—it's exciting! And in case someone else is struggling the way I have, that they might find hope too.

Sleep peacefully tonight, friends—you are deeply loved by the God of the universe. ☺

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My 4-year-old son just made me cry.

In a good way!

I was just getting him set up for his "room-time" (he has room-time while his little brother has nap-time). I explained to him that I was planning to lay down and take a nap too, because my head was starting to hurt, and that he would need to be extra quiet. Upon hearing this information, his brow furrowed and he said in a somewhat uncommon moment of sweetness, "Oh, Momma... I'm sorry your head is hurting. Can I kiss it for you?" Melt my heart! Tears started to well-up in my eyes as I let God minister to me through my son's sweet hug and kiss.

So precious.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things I don't need

This is written with Lamentations 3:22-23 in mind... "To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God."

Who needs an alarm clock (or a rooster)... when your child awakens at the crack of dawn? Not sure what goes on with my 4-year-old son's "internal clock" but he seems to wake up earlier and earlier all the time. Ever since THE DAY daylight savings time began in March, he shifted back one hour instead of forward an hour!! (So his new wake-up time became 6:00 instead of 8:00!) How does this happen?? And for the last several days, he's been waking up at 5:40!

Who needs a treadmill... when you're up and down the stairs all day long? A diaper needs changing, someone needs discipline, Brandon needs assistance at the potty, grabbing the laundry, fetching snacks, etc. I guess that's the way it is with small kids ...and perhaps God's provision (after all, I can't seem to find time to get on the treadmill anyway)!

I hope it is evident that I am just poking fun at my "lot in life" and not complaining—this is kind of like comic relief for me! It's simply a glimpse of my reality—and it kind of makes me laugh because it's so crazy! :)

Love and mercy that never cease

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
His mercies begin afresh each morning.

[Lamentations 3:21-23]

I love these verses! And this morning it really hit me... no matter what my circumstance—trouble or hardship, sin or mistake—God does not turn His back on me or get P.O.'d and withdraw His love. He may be saddened by it, as a father would be—but He is merciful in every situation! He wants the best for us and wants to help us succeed! That is so remarkable... so beautiful, this love of His! It truly is His kindness that leads us toward repentance! (Romans 2:4)

Oh, happy day ☺

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day humor

This was the Mother's Day card I received from my boys...

It says: Hope everyone pees where they're supposed to today. Happy Mother's Day!

That made me laugh out loud! Perhaps it was especially funny to me since I am dealing with a 4-year-old who is still perfecting his aim (or simply distracted while on the job). Ahhhh, a little comic relief is good for the soul. :)

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! God bless you!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It's sinking in!

This afternoon around 4:00, when I was just starting supper, my husband called. He needed us to come and rescue him. He's been on vacation this week and was on the other side of town having coffee and TWG (time with God), but he couldn't get his car started.

So I grab the boys and we head across town. Of course, I'm in a hurry, because I don't want Jon to wait any longer than he has to... and because supper would now be delayed.

I pull up behind an SUV at a stop sign. She's waiting to turn left. Ugh.... she's not taking ANY risks... and as I observe her missing several opportunities to turn, I start muttering under my breath. "This is going to take forever! Come on, lady!"

From the backseat I hear, "It's OK, Mom" as my son tries to reassure me. "God wants us to be kind."

Deep breath. "Yep, you're right, honey," I say. "I'm sorry for being impatient."

And then it hits me. He's getting it!! The God-stuff we're trying to teach him.... you know... "Talk about it when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up"'s sinking in! Even though he has many transgressions in a day, I felt much satisfaction that the things we are teaching him about God and His ways is indeed penetrating his little mind and heart! Hurray!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What is success in parenting?

Hi there. Just thinking about parenting stuff again. Had a hard day yesterday for some reason... found myself near tears much of the afternoon.

But this morning during my TWG (time with God) I was asking Him for greater patience and telling Him how difficult I think parenting is, and I had these thoughts:

If I have difficulties in my marriage, am I a failure? No—that's normal when two individuals with differing ideas, personalities, and life experience come together under one roof. The key to their success is being humble before the Lord and unified through Him. Does "success" mean they never have strife? No. It means they don't give up, but keep striving to be obedient and faithful to God's ways.

So... if I have difficulties as a parent, why do I think I'm a failure?! In raising children, I'm starting out with raw material (not necessarily a blank slate, as the sin nature is present from birth)—and I have 18 years of training, teaching, loving, correcting, etc. these young, unique individuals. So what does "success" in parenting look like? Does it mean I never have strife? I don't think so. It means I am seeking the Lord for guidance and wisdom, and I am being faithful to do what He leads me to do.

I need to stop asking, "Why is this so difficult?" And I need to stop looking at anyone else's family and thinking they have it easier. (Quite frankly, if God had given me "easy" children, I probably would be judgmental and self-righteous toward others... so for that reason, I am thankful God knew which children to give me!) I don't think God calls His people to "easy" anyway. I need to trust that God has a purpose and a perfect plan.

This quote from an article in Christianity Today, called The Myth of the Perfect Parent, soothes me—especially in light of those who are considered "faith heroes" in Hebrews 11, many of whom "were raised in anything but model homes, and many of them were themselves highly flawed parents"—

"We will parent imperfectly, our children will make their own choices, and God will mysteriously and wondrously use it all to advance His kingdom."

Yes, Lord! Use it all for Your glory!

Monday, May 3, 2010

God knows me/us very personally

A few nights ago, I was reading a devotion from the book Finding Joy: More Confessions of an Irritable Mother. The author, Karen Hossink, was telling about a difficult morning she had, and how she felt like God had given her a hug through a store clerk's kindness, which turned her crabbiness into a smile. She writes, "I got into the van and I asked Him, Why? Why are You so kind to me? I have been moody and irritable. I am an emotional mess. Why do You love me? Then I remembered the Truth about God's love. It is unconditional. He does not take cues from me to decide whether or not He is going to love me on any particular day. God does not hold back on His love when I am PMSing, and He does not pour it out more richly when I am following in the footsteps of Mary Poppins. He loves me unconditionally, simply because He chooses to."

I love that! My eyes welled-up with tears, and God started speaking to my heart about how intimately acquainted He is with me. I wrote in my journal:

God knows everything about me (Ps 139:1b) and knit me together in my mother's womb (Ps 139:13b). Even the very hairs on my head are all numbered (Mt 10:30). Not even a single sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without my heavenly Father knowing it, and I am more valuable to Him than a whole flock of sparrows (Mt 10:29,31). How good it feels to know that I'm not just a number... not just lumped in with a group... but that I am an individual, and I was tailor-made by Him, making me His workmanship.

That evening with God was so personal and I felt the warmth of His presence. He reassured me that He is using this time (the pain/grief I've had in my heart for the last 2+ years) to deepen my faith in His love and grace, and just to give me a greater depth of concept of who He is. And to that I respond:

O Lord, I give my life to You.
I trust in You, my God!
Lead me by Your truth and teach me,
for You are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in You!
[Psalm 25:1,3]

Sunday, May 2, 2010

At a loss for words...

I am kind of laughing and furrowing my brow at the same time. Are they serious?? Now really.... what can one say about such things? Are we, as a society, really this ignorant? (I am fighting the urge to make sarcastic remarks here... but "Whatever is...noble...pure...excellent or praiseworthy...think about such things...") *sigh*

The new me

Well, I did it. After 2-1/2 years of growing my hair out—for the ease of parenting small children (low maintenance, less frequent hair-cuts)....

I had 6" of hair chopped off on Saturday! Ta-da!

While I can see there is going to be a learning curve for styling it myself, I have no regrets. I was ready for a change... and just in time for the warmer weather ahead! :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Today we say good-bye to an old friend, the highchair. Many sweet memories were made there... and a few big messes. :) But our 2-1/2 year old has graduated to a booster seat at the dining room table, so we no longer have need for the highchair. [My babies are growing up!] It was handed down to us five years ago, and now we, in turn, will pass it on to another family who has a baby on the way.

Farewell, ol' highchair. Be a blessing to this new family!

Friday, April 30, 2010

God *involves* people

Lately it seems I've been on an unofficial mission to better understand who God is—can you tell? :) I've been walking closely with the Lord for over 14 years, but during the last 2 years I lost sight of His love and grace [basically I had been laying with my face in a big cow pie of my own failings as a mother, because I started buying into the enemy's lies that God's grace couldn't possibly keep flowing day after day to cover over my imperfections in child rearing]—so painful! So now I'm in the process of rediscovery, I guess. I know much of what it says about God's grace in the New Testament (head-knowledge, at least)—but, much to my surprise, I've been finding a significant amount of comfort from what I'm learning about God in the Old Testament!

Anyway, I was just thinking this morning (as I was washing the bathroom floor, of all things) about Adam naming all the animals God created. It says in Genesis 2:19, "So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man [Adam] to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one." And it struck me—why did God do that? In His marvelous creativity, He fashioned every animal on the earth... yet He gave the job of naming the animals to Adam! I think it shows God's relationality (is that a word?)—He wanted to involve Adam in the process! By the way, Adam also named his wife Eve (Gen. 3:20)....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

God's compassion

I am fascinated by these imperfect humans in the Bible whom God chose to show His glory through! Yesterday I read about Gideon in Judges 6 & 7. God told Gideon he would rescue Israel from the Midianites, but Gideon doubted God and asked for a sign (Gideon put out a fleece—twice!). Then a little later, the Lord flat-out tells Gideon, "I have given you victory over them. But if you are afraid to attack, go down to their camp with your servant Puran. Listen to what the Midianites are saying and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack." (Judges 7:9-11)

What kind of God is this? That seems like a pretty compassionate thing of God to offer!! He could have said, "Look, Gideon. I already told you straight-up that I will make you win the battle—just believe what I said! I am God! Who are you to question or doubt me?!" But instead God gives Gideon an opportunity to be encouraged by eavesdropping on the Midianite army. He didn't have to do that for Gideon. Amazing.

It is also interesting to me that Gideon is listed among others in Hebrews 11 as a "great example of faith"—despite his questioning God, "Give me proof that You will do what You say."

It just makes me say, Thank you, God, that You are merciful!

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him!" [Psalm 103:13]

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

God uses ordinary, imperfect people

I just read a fictional book about Rahab yesterday. God had promised to give Jericho to the Israelites, and Joshua sent spies to check things out in Jericho. Rahab was the prostitute in Jericho who hid the Israelite spies from the king of Jericho's soldiers. While she had been living in a sinful lifestyle, Rahab recognized God for who He is. She says to the spies in Joshua 2:8 and 11, "I know that the LORD has given this land to you... No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! ... For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below."

It would appear that Rahab turned from her sinful ways, as it says in Joshua 6:25 that she lived among the Israelites after being rescued from Jericho. And, in Matthew 1, you can see that she is part of Jesus' ancestry! She gave birth to Boaz, who was father of Obed, who was father of Jesse, who was father of David! Isn't that incredible?! God truly uses ordinary, imperfect people for His purposes! All I can do is sit here and marvel at God's ways!

Somehow this adds to my hope in the Lord. He's not requiring perfect, sin-free people. That reminds me, it says in 1 Corinthians 1:26-28, "Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things..."

Anyway... I just feel God's love and acceptance today—and you should too! As it says in 1 Corinthians 1:31, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord!" I am not perfect, but I love Him—and He loved me [and you] first! (1 John 4:19)

Thursday, April 22, 2010


My oldest, Brandon, loves to be tickled! Kids are funny, ya know? He'll say, "Mom, I need some tickies!" [He calls getting tickled tickies.] His best spots are on his neck and up his pant-leg to his knees. My tickles are always met with fits of laughter and shouts of "Stop! Stop!" But about 2 seconds after I stop, he'll say, "Do it again!"

During today's "tickies" session, I realized how much I love hearing my son giggle. What joy his laughter brings to my heart! And joy really feels good. :) So bring on the tickies!

Make your own taco seasoning

I recently found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning (instead of buying the stuff in the packet)—and after tweaking it a bit, I'd say (and my husband would agree) it tastes just like the store-bought stuff, only better! Here's the recipe...

1/4 c. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. cumin

Stir all ingredients together. Store in airtight container.

To prepare taco meat:
Brown 1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey. Add 2-1/2 to 3 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix with 2/3 cup water. Simmer.

I like it! A lot! Not only does it taste awesome... I also KNOW what's in it! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A repentant heart

So think clearly and exercise self-control. Set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn't know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, "Be holy, because I am holy."
(1 Peter 1:13-16)

I'm going to be very honest here. I couldn't figure out why I was initially repelled by these verses. It felt like condemnation... but no... that is the devil trying to deceive me. God doesn't condemn, He convicts. Yes, what I'm feeling is conviction—guilt that leads to godly sorrow and then repentance. The biggest, most obvious area where I "slip back into old ways of living to satisfy my own desires" is on the computer—not because of what I'm viewing (none of it is impure), but because of when I'm viewing it (while I should be hanging with my boys).

Mothering is probably THE hardest thing I've ever done—requiring very significant amounts of endurance, patience (long-suffering!), and sacrifice—and I find myself often looking for an escape... obviously not in drinking, drugs, or affairs... but on the internet (primarily email and blogs). It is precisely for this reason that I do not have a Facebook profile! [I have no other vices—I can't even have coffee or chocolate, because I'm taking a homeopathic to support my thyroid, and caffeine and homeopathics don't jive!]

Help me, Lord, to have self-control... to not turn on the computer unless the boys are napping or in bed for the night... to just BE WITH my boys and find joy in that! I don't want to live my days with a guilty conscience. [I wonder how much that contributes to my questioning of God's love and grace?] "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." (James 4:17) This may not be "sin" for everybody, but it is for me, for right now. I violate my own conscience when I sit at the computer while my son(s) are left playing alone. (I feel they are too young at 2- and 4-years-old.)

I am tempted not to make this humble [humiliating?] confession; however, I sense God leading me to do it in this way.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of Your unfailing love. Because of Your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. {2} Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. {3} For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. {7} Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. {8} ...give me back my joy again... {9} ...Remove the stain of my guilt. {10} Create in me a clean heart, O God... {12} Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You.

{16} You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. {17} The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

(Psalm 51:1-3, 7-10, 12, 16-17)

Wow... my heart actually feels much lighter! I feel cleansed and purified! I think I'm really starting to take in God's grace and mercy again! Not because I think I'm good enough, but because I am seeing it for what it really is: undeserved favor! Awesome!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Mom

I think my mom is the best! When I was growing up, I thought everybody had a mom who was patient and kind, who loved them unconditionally, who was eager to hear about their day and their thoughts, who encouraged them, who said "I love you" every day, who apologized when they were wrong, and who made them feel like they were something special—like I did. After talking with friends in college, I learned how blessed I really was/am!

(This picture of me and Mom was taken in 2007—look at my short hair! I'm thinking about chopping it short like that again. Whoopee!)

While I'm afraid I'll never live up to the "legacy" of my mom, I recall something one of our pastors said at a parenting seminar... he said, "I can never be a perfect parent, but I can be perfectly humble." And you know, the Bible says the Lord leads the humble, teaching them His way (Psalm 25:9)... and oh, do I need leading!! Come, Lord Jesus!

Incidentally, my husband and I did get to go to the homeschool conference—for some much needed time away together—yay!—thanks to my wonderful mom and dad watching the boys for us!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Struggles produce perseverence, perseverence produces character...

I've been reading a book called Confessions of an Irritable Mother which has caused me to really stop and think about how God's goal is to help me become holy, like Him—not as a barking drill sergeant, but as a loving Father—and how struggles produce perseverance, and perseverance produces character (Romans 5). I mean, think about it. Yes, I want to be regarded as a woman of character! But does character mean I've had an easy life and I just have a cheery smile on my face all day long? No. Character is persevering and passing the test of one's trials. And a person does not develop character without struggles!

Anyone who knows me knows I've been struggling with motherhood for quite awhile. My responses to the challenges of raising two busy, boyish young sons isn't always so good. I yell sometimes. More often than I'd like. That leaves me feeling guilty and beaten down (What kind of mom am I?)... and over time, this guilt has eroded my view of God's love for me (How could He keep loving and forgiving me day after day?).

Yesterday morning started out rough (Brandon woke up too early and was sporting a baaad 'tude). So I caught a few moments to myself while making Brandon's bed and was asking God to help me persevere.

I felt God impress upon me that He's not trying to be unkind... He didn't give me difficult children to be cruel... but that this uncomfortableness isn't going to let up until I "get" what He is trying to show me about His love for me. It's going to take more than just a quick flip through the Bible to find another "promise" to cling to. Like a loving parent, He is allowing me to go through this struggle so I can learn more of the depth of His love and grace.

And I'm not going to give up, either. It feels like the enemy might be taking this opportunity to "sift" me, but I believe God will grow my character that much more strong when I'm through it.

God is also giving me peace with the fact that Jon and I may not be able to stay overnight on Friday for the homeschool conference, due to Ryan getting sick. I was starting to feel a bit bitter about the timing of Ryan's cold—right before Jon and I have the opportunity to go somewhere—together—alone—but I feel like God is trying to show me to find my hope in Him and His ability to give me peace & rest, especially in the midst of these taxing days with small boys—not in getting a break away. (Not that we shouldn't ever get a break, but you know how a person can just start putting their hope in vacations.)

Anyway... that's what's been on my mind this week! Oh, and about Confessions of an Irritable Mother—I just love that book! I have never felt so understood in my struggle, and I love how the author, Karen Hossink, doesn't simply list a bunch of antidotes to anger (i.e. "count to 10") but instead emphasizes the importance of an intimate relationship with the Lord, through reading the Bible and praying! Very encouraging!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sleep, Interrupted

I've never been what you'd call a "sound sleeper." I'm actually kind of a light sleeper... but prior to having kids, I usually slept quite well.

These days, however, sleeping through the night is a rare thing for me. I am often awoken by any number of things. Here's the top four:

1. snoring (not mine)

2. crying in the middle of the night ("Where's my bear? I can't find my bear!")

3. nature calling (what's up with that? does that just happen after having babies? or after turning 40?)

4. crazy dreams... last night... I had not one, but two dreams that caused me to sit up in bed and scold my 4-year-old son in my sleep.... until I realized it was just a dream. In the first dream he was goofing around, spraying potty all over the back of the toilet seat and on the floor. Ack! In the second dream he was standing, balancing on top of our 4' chain link fence! Both, in real life, are enough to make a mother's blood pressure rise a little.

Oh, the life of a mother... even in her sleep she is admonishing, beseeching, sighing...

Grin! :)

Friday, April 9, 2010

The antics & adventures of boys

I love hearing people's stories about their boys! Since I have two sons, I find that the dynamics in our home are a lot different than, say, those who have all girls or a combination of boys and girls. Stories of the antics & adventures of boys make me grin and feel somewhat relieved... that my boys are normal, active BOYS!

There have been times, I admit, that I have asked God why He didn't give me sweet, quiet little girls... who like to just sit quietly and read books, color, or play with their baby dolls. My husband reminds me, "Sara, God must really think we're strong and capable enough to handle these two!" Don't get me wrong—I love my boys! They are fun and funny and adorable! They just keep me very busy. :) Can't leave them alone for too long...

I used to have this quote by Plato printed on our white board, sort of to serve as comic relief: "Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable." My mantra has become: Civilize them, don't sissify them.

Just this morning, our Culligan man shared that his three sons used to jump off the roof onto their trampoline in the back yard! Yikes! Not that I'm desiring such rambunctious roughhousing from my sons... but it just helps me really see, and perhaps not be so shocked, that boys tend to be boyish and do boyish [daring, sometimes dangerous] things! Hooray for boys! :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Throwing my "what a 'good mom' does" list out the window!

One week after Jon and I were married, I had a crisis. A "good wife" crisis. We had gotten back from our honeymoon and were trying to get settled into our new condo. With little more than a few basic staples in the frig, I tried to scrape lunch together. As we sat on the patio and ate, I started to cry. When Jon asked me what was wrong, I told him that this wasn't the kind of meal a good wife makes. "Uhhh...well what kind of meals do 'good wives' make, Sara?" I sniffled and said, "Homemade soup with cheese on top!" Now who set that standard?!?

Well, that was almost 9 years ago, and I've long left behind that "what a good wife does" list, which had left me feeling guilt-ridden and inadequate at the time.

Now I'm just starting to get over my "what a good mom does" list—a.k.a. the "what a good Christian mom does" list—which includes such things as:

* you play on the floor with your kids all day, every day—and love it

* you implement formal training sessions to teach them such things as not to fuss when coming in the house after playing outside or to sit still through church

* you are utterly consistent with discipline [and if you're doing a good job, your kids never whine or argue]

* your children never misbehave in public [and probably never misbehave at home either, because your training has been so thorough]

* you enjoy your kids so much that you never need a break

* you instinctively know the best way to train or discipline in every situation that comes up with your kids

* you are excited and enthusiastic about Play Doh, finger painting, and glue & glitter crafts

* you never, ever get frustrated or lose your cool or raise your voice

* life is so hunky-dory you want to have 19 kids!

This mental list has tormented me and stolen my joy... left me with guilt and shame... until I could see nothing good in myself.

But yesterday during my QT, this is what the Lord spoke to my heart:

What are all these burdens you are carrying around, Sara? "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Who said you have to do that list of things in order to be a 'good mom'?

Then this morning, He further reminded me there is no "one right way" of training your kids! It doesn't matter what others are doing to train their kids. God is calling us to follow His lead. And...

Commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. [Deuteronomy 6:6-7]

And GOD'S WAY is:
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. [Ephesians 6:4]

And I found some relief... because we are doing this with our kids! [Read: I realized I'm not utterly failing at motherhood!] And it tells me that if my son has a bad attitude, it's not all my fault, but that he lives in the same stinkin' flesh that I do!

So, thank you, Lord for giving me peace today. I have had a sweet morning with my boys!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The power of the Resurrection

Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin!"

[Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:6-8, Romans 4:7-8]

Jesus willingly died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins and mine. Three days later, God raised Jesus from the dead (which fulfilled the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament)! Happy Resurrection Day!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Submitting, not negotiating

Yesterday I read a very convicting parenting quote. The author is talking about how God has given us, as parents, the responsibility of representing Him to our children—first as "a God of unlimited love" but "also the possessor of majestic authority." He goes on to say,

To show our little ones love without authority is as serious a distortion of God's nature as to reveal an iron-fisted authority without love.

From this perspective, then, a child who has only "negotiated" with his parents and teachers during times of conflict has probably not learned to submit to the authority of the Almighty. ... To repeat, a child learns to yield to the authority of God by first learning to submit to (rather than bargain with) the leadership of his parents. [The Strong-Willed Child by James Dobson, p 56]

It just made me stop and think, When I give my son a directive, am I allowing him to negotiate for his terms rather than requiring him to simply obey what I've asked him to do? Kind of serious stuff when you think of the ramifications of getting into a habit of not submitting to one's authorities (especially to the Lord). But one thing it has done is empower me to lovingly enforce my directives, and it is [surprisingly?] improving his attitude about obeying me! God is good!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

God's unending love

God showed me something cool about Himself during my QT this morning. Maybe you'll go, "Uh, yeah... I already get that..." but for me it was profound.

I'm reading the One Year Bible, and the book of Deuteronomy begins today. Already, in just the first chapter, the Israelites have rebelled against God's commands at least twice, they've murmured and complained, and they haven't trusted God to lead them. While there are consequences for their sinful actions and attitudes, something else occurred to me...

God never stops loving them.

I've always had trouble with Zephaniah 3:17, which says, "The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." I have a hard time applying it to myself because I figure, 1) it wasn't written for me, but for the Israelites, and 2) I don't deserve that kind of treatment from God. But just look at those rebellious, complaining Israelites! Over and over again, they sin against God—but they are His people and He loves them, delights in them, rejoices over them! And there are many, many other examples in the Bible of God's grace and love toward His people, in spite of their unfaithfulness to Him. (Hosea 11 is another one that pops into my head.)

So what God showed me was this: whether or not Zephaniah 3:17 was written to me, it reveals the truth about God's character and how He responds toward those He loves! In spite of our many failings, His love for us is great—huge—unending! He doesn't give up on us! AND—get this—in Galatians 3:29 it says, "And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you." So, us "Gentiles" are part of God's family (not just the Jews/Israelites) and His promises are for us too!

So, all of that to say, it's starting to sink in that God loves me in spite of my many failings as a mom, wife, and Christ-follower! (I mean, I know it in my head, but it's starting to permeate my heart more and more...)

I'm so thankful for God's Word!

I just made homemade granola!!

I just made homemade granola -- and it's delicious! Want the recipe? It's simple to make. My 4-year-old son even helped me. Here's how it's made...

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking oats)
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
*Even if you don't like coconut, still use it -- after baking, you can't even tell it's in there.
1/4 cup unsalted shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup dried fruit (such as cherries, cranberries, raisins, or currants)

1. Heat oven to 350.
2. On a large, rimmed cookie sheet, toss the oats, almonds, coconut, and sunflower seeds with the maple syrup, oil, and salt.
3. Bake, tossing once half-way through, until golden and crisp, 25-30 minutes.
4. Add the dried fruit and toss to combine. Let cool.
5. Store granola in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 weeks.

Found in the April 2010 issue of Real Simple. Recipe by Sara Quessenberry.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Kid questions = character growth

I share this light-heartedly... worthy of a grin, at least! Here is a sampling of questions from my 4-year-old son, which I am certain God uses to bring about much character growth in me (as I vigilantly subdue my flesh's desire to groan, roll my eyes, grit my teeth, or snap "Because I said so!")... can anyone relate? :)

Me: "Honey, please go potty before you go outside."
Son: "Because why?"

Me: "Please be careful with your hammer so you don't hit the car with it."
Son: "Because what might happen?"

Me: "Sweetheart, please share with your brother."
Son: [whining] "But why?"

Ahhhhh... all in a day's work. But oh, how I do love my boys! :)

Right where I'm supposed to be

Ever had that certain peaceful feeling that you're right where you're supposed to be? It isn't necessarily at a time when everything is going "perfect"—I'm talking about when you have an "ah-hah" moment where God is giving you peace about your situation.

That's where I'm at this afternoon. Mincing a few cloves of garlic for my homemade spaghetti sauce (and enjoying my domestic role!) and thinking about our decision to home-educate this fall...I am so excited! If you had told me, 20 years ago, that I'd be in this place right now, I might have laughed and thought it a bit silly. But I'm so peaceful and joyful right now!! Thank you, God, for molding and shaping me and not just leaving me as I was!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

You know you're a Minnesotan when... (part II)

...on a 40-degree day in March you see many teens walking around outside with no jackets, or even short-sleeved shirts. Oy! Er, I mean, Uff-dah!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Keep pressing on

The difference between try and triumph is a little "umph."
~Marvin Phillips

Cleaning & organizing

A friend posed the question, "What do YOU do?" on her blog as it pertains to house-keeping. I like this question because I used to be a real "neat freak" (often called A.R. by my former roommates—which describes a person with such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others). Somehow God broke me of that "idol" in my life!

Now, I must say, I do SO love order. It is in my genetic makeup! (For example, when at the store looking at greeting cards, I have to restrain myself from re-organizing the ones that are out of order.) But slowly God has helped me not to have to have EVERY SINGLE THING in place. Like the utensil drawer. I think it would be excellent to have each stack of spoons, forks, and knives perfectly aligned—oh the beauty! At some point many years ago I stopped noticing when they aren't stacked perfectly. But I digress...

Back to the topic of house-cleaning. Given my mainly melancholy personality, I would probably be most prone to the "neat freak" method of cleaning, where everything MUST be spic & span at all times. But it enslaves you at the expense of your kids and other important things. Something has to give—BUT it doesn't have to be all or nothing! (I recommend working that out with the Lord's help.)

I currently use the "I clean it when I can't stand it any longer" method of cleaning. For some people that would never work, because they'd never notice something needed cleaning! For me, it means I swiffer and vacuum once a week; clean the main bathroom once a week (or sometimes more often, since I have a 4-year-old boy whose aim isn't 100% perfected); dust about once a month; and wash the kitchen floor less than once a month (I can't believe I just admitted that publicly!).

I have also tried the "days of the week" method, but I couldn't stay faithful to it for some reason.

Keeping the clutter at bay is my biggest "trick" to being satisfied with the state of my house. For example, my kitchen doesn't have to be 100% sanitized and spotless—but a cluttered kitchen only lasts around here for half a day at the most—I can't stand it—it's like having a radio tuned between two different stations—I can hardly think straight! Just taking 10-15 minutes to put dishes away, wipe the counters, etc. gives me much more peace.

I also try to keep piles of stuff minimal. I wish I could say I've eradicated them altogether, but as I type, I have a small pile on either side of the keyboard. Maybe a large part of keeping the piles to a minimum is not procrastinating? After all, my piles usually contain things I don't want to forget about (like a utility bill that needs follow-up, a check that needs to be deposited, a few magazines I'd like to peruse when I have some leisure time). So here's one of my favorite solutions—I used my Christmas money to buy it!—this basket ladder a.k.a. basket wall organizer.

I love it! I keep my son's homeschool stuff in it, the latest grocery store ad, etc. Very handy. I highly recommend!

OK, so I kind of got off the topic of cleaning. It's a necessary evil, I guess! But you know what they say: your kids won't remember if your house was spic & span, but they WILL be left with an impression of how they felt about the time they spent at home with you!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Draw close to Jesus

Phew! It's been awhile since I've blogged! I've been struggling with fatigue for awhile... but my energy is returning. Praise the Lord! :)

Last night at growth group, our study was about "over-desire" (idols). For me, I have the desire to connect with people... but my over-desire is doing email and blogs much longer than I should, at the expense of my family. I gave the example of me going to the computer, but sensing God telling me "No, not now"—but then basically ignoring His voice and sitting down at the computer anyway.

Well, God convicted me about that comment this morning during my quiet time (QT). James 4:17 says: "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." Being on the computer is not a sin; ignoring God's prompting is. When a person starts ignoring God, they start to get desensitized to His voice. Perhaps that is contributing to why my QTs haven't been great lately.

I want to be a Spirit-filled and God-powered mom. But I can't just hold my lucky rabbit's foot and wish for it. I've got to physically turn away [walk away] from what is drawing me away from Him and turn TO Him. That takes self-control! Eek! I asked myself this morning during my QT, "Am I afraid to give my life—my time—100% over to the Lord? Do I think He'll work me to death, never give me a break, never let me use email, etc?" No—that's a lie! God is good, and He is just—He will provide for my needs, in His perfect timing! And in my heart of hearts, I know I'd rather be in His will than anywhere else—much more satisfying! (Better is one day in Your courts than a thousand anywhere else! ~Psalm 84:10)

So I repented this morning and I'm starting out on a new foot today. I'm purposing to seek Him for what I do with my time during the day—all of it. [Yes, even here, God directed me to wait to write this until my kids were in roomtime this morning!] How can I expect to be Spirit-filled if I don't repent of "doing my own thing" when I know He's calling me to do something else??

This quote from Steven and Teri Maxwell's book "Keeping Our Children's Hearts" (p. 55) really struck me—

"Are we constantly looking for the line of sin so we can live as close to the world as possible without sinning, or do we desire to draw as close to Jesus as we can?"

GULP! Convicted—right here!!

And here's a John Piper quote that our pastor mentioned in this weekend's message at church—

"The work of the Holy Spirit in changing us is not to work directly on our bad habits, but to make us admire Jesus so much that sinful habits feel foreign and distasteful."

I know a lot of moms [myself included] who so strongly desire to be led by God during our mothering days! Lord Jesus, help me/us to obey You, even when we don't feel like it! I pray your Holy Spirit would move in each of our hearts, causing us to admire Jesus so much that sinful habits would feel distasteful. Help us not to walk up to the line of sin, but to strive to walk right next to You. Amen!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Finishing the work assigned me -- and doing it with joy!

Our church is doing a daily Bible reading plan, currently going through the book of Acts. Today I was struck by Acts 20:22-24...

"And now I am bound by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don't know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God."

Now that is radical living. Unselfish. Faith that propels him forward, even knowing that great suffering is in his future. This really spurs me on!

I will admit, there have been a few times in the past couple of years when I have complained, "If I had known how hard parenting/mothering would be, I'm not sure I would have chosen it." [I'm kind of a wimp.] Mothering has been hard for me because:
1) it requires a great deal of self-sacrifice—which goes directly against the flesh;
2) it requires a great deal of patience—which also goes against the flesh;
3) it is frequently messy, inconvenient, and complicated; and
4) you need to keep perspective and have a clear vision for the future.
These things have caused me "suffering" to some degree or another, as they clearly reveal my weaknesses/sinfulness, which has been pretty devastating to me. Obviously, in all of this, I need God's strength, because it doesn't seem to come very easily or naturally!

BUT, as Paul said, "My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus..." Yes!!! What else would I be doing—I mean, really—besides raising my boys... devoting my life to the mothering role the Lord assigned me? I will strive to do it with joy! If the Lord assigned it to me, He felt I was capable (with His help) of doing it! And "better is one day in His courts than a thousand anywhere else!" (Psalm 84:10)

[As an added note, I love my boys—they are wonderful! This struggle has far far more to do with ME and my perceptions than with them.]

I trust You, Lord God! You are good. I feel warmed by Your approval—not because of what I've done, but because of my faith in Your love and grace!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beyond longing for an easy life... to living with eternity in mind

Over the last couple of months I have been reading a book called, "Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God" by Mary DeMuth. I have been so blessed by her realness about motherhood and her insights!

This morning I wrote down on a notecard part of a prayer (from p. 152):
"How selfish I am, Lord. How often I think that...eliminating pain from my life is the means to happiness. ...I want to give everything I am to You, particularly as I languish in motherhood. ...Teach me to live for eternity."

This is exactly where I'm at—languishing in motherhood—and I often catch myself worshiping the god of Convenience or the god of Easy. I like easy! Who doesn't like easy?! But the truth is, I don't think God calls any of us to an "easy" life...

Well, halleluiah—I came across Mary DeMuth's blog today! She says in her 1/11/10 post: "Now that I have a [personal] trainer for a few more sessions, I see my tendency to embrace comfort over exertion. She pushes me way beyond where I'd push myself, and I'm finally seeing results. It's that way in the spiritual life. The Holy Spirit pushes us out of the nest of our comfortable spot..."

I completely relate to that—the desire for comfort more than exertion—and how the Spirit (like a personal trainer) pushes us beyond where we'd push ourselves. My life feels "uncomfortable" a lot of the time—in my role as a mom there is a significant amount of self-sacrifice!—and if you'd really like to know, I have a cold right now that I've been fighting for the last 6 days that my youngest son is just starting to come down with. But I desperately want to live God's way—to have joy in the daily grind (even if my kids or I have a cold)—to live with eternity in mind! (and not fritter away my time on selfish things)—to not resent the things that infringe on what I *think* is MY time... blah blah blah... you get the picture.

Lord, forgive me for my selfish actions! I want to live Your way. Please take me by the hand and show me how. Help me leave behind the things that threaten to draw my focus away from You. Help me live a radical life for You, joyfully!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Room in hearts taken up by other crowding interests

This is a thought-provoking quote from Billy Graham, perhaps best presented at Christmas-time — but relevant to our lives every day of the year...

"One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

You know you're a Minnesotan when...'ve had so many days with wind chills well below zero, that 15 degrees above zero feels warm to you!

Happy snow day! :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cooking experience

I just put together some Three Bean Casserole.... mmmm-mm! My favorite! (If I knew how to make it without brown sugar, I would... perhaps a combo of honey and molasses?... well, I'll figure that out another day...) Anyway, one of the ingredients is 1 lb. of bacon, fried crisp and drained. Any seasoned cook knows what isn't written: that you need to cut it into small pieces before adding it to the casserole.

It reminds me of my 7th grade Home Ec class, when we made New England Clam Chowder from scratch. The recipe called for bacon... but being UNseasoned cooks, we fried the bacon and threw it whole into the soup! Let's just say that made eating it a little more complicated. :)

In my teenage years, my mom kept encouraging me to help her prepare dinner, so I would learn how to cook. "Oh, Mom," I'd say in protest, "I'll just marry a man who knows how to cook!" Little did I know I wouldn't get married until I was nearly 32 years of age! After 8 years of marriage, 4 of which I have been a happy homemaker, my husband now raves about my cooking. :)

"Pray more..."

"Pray more." That was at the top of my list for the New Year. Yesterday I had one of those "enlightening" QTs, where I felt like I didn't want it to end—God had put excitement and urgency in my heart about the power of prayer. So I put my journal on the counter where I could see it all day—with the idea of it being a reminder to pray throughout my day. Unfortunately, I never gave it a second glance! :( Oh, how I desire to be a godly mom, sensitive to His leading... but in my flesh, I want to do what I want to do, when I want to do it!

That's one big reason I'm so thankful for God's grace. In Psalm 25:9 it says, "He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His way." Note that it does not say, "He leads the perfect..." If I am willing to turn from my "selfish ambition" and submit myself to Him—my time, my efforts, my emotions, my very life—He will lead!

So, as cheesy as this may sound, I'd kind of like to get back to that old WWJD thing... What would Jesus do? In a sense, I want that to be my mantra for awhile... to help steer my mind, my heart toward the Lord... toward doing the right things—not just good things, but the things God wants me to do right then... "for such a time as this!"

So I thought, "How can I remember to remember WWJD? Wish I had a WWJD bracelet... although a bracelet could get covered by my sleeves and then I wouldn't remember anyway..." And then I got it—I decided to use a pen and write a small P on the top of my right hand. That P would remind me to pray throughout my day! Maybe kind of corny... but for today it's working!