Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday

The end of the year brings a time to reflect and a time to bounce into the new adventures of a new year. When you think over the last year, what are you thankful for? When you think of a new start, what are you thankful for? We would love to hear from you!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Fun Monday

I love breaks!! This Christmas, my kids are all at an age that they love sleeping late (and staying up late!!) instead of waking me up in the middle of the night (well, bad dreams did have one of them wanting in our bed) so we all slept a lot. Crislynn has always been a sleeper, even as a baby. One morning around 10:00 at my in-laws, Davis said, "Let's see how long Crislynn will sleep. She's like hibernating or something!"


Hope you are enjoying your breaks too!
Sharon

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Twas the night before, the night before Christmas, and all through the houses moms scurried about making everything just right...

Don't forget to take some time today to stop and be thankful for God's gift of Jesus. And did you know that we are the Heavenly Father's gift to Jesus? Listen to this part Jesus' prayer in John 17:6.
"I [Jesus] have revealed You to those who You gave me out of the world.
They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed Your Word."
One of my favorite pictures of Christmas, is when my kids open a gift and it is something they "wanted their whole life!" (Do your kids say that too? Yea, they have wanted it all three years--and the 5 seconds they have known about it!) God the Father, gave His Son a gift--YOU! Can you just see His face of delight to know that you are His! Today we can be thankful that no matter what shape, size, or situation we find ourselves in, we are valued, loved, treasured, and cared for. Thank You, Jesus!


Merry Christmas!


posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fun Monday

It was a bad day in the Hilliard home last week. It seemed that everyone in the house was crossways and irritable (including mom!). Every question was answered with a defensive cutting response. The girls seemed to be assuming the worst about each other and didn't hold back from shouting what they were thinking . . . it was ugly! Finally, Addison was all done and said, "It's over!! Stop talking about it!" I agreed, and said, "Yes, let's all kiss and make-up!" Addison protested, "I'm not gonna wear make-up!!" The hold of dissention was suddenly diminished. Rolling with laughter, we gathered in a group hug, kissed . . . and made up!


Laurie

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday

I saw a quote on a friends' facebook status the other day that said,

"Christmas is a time when you get homesick -even when you're home." ~Carol
Nelson

Every family has different traditions and ways and places to celebrate Christmas. For my family, we were always at my grandparents' home and we alternated every year between my mom's family and my dad's. So for me traveling and being with a big group of family is Christmas. As we are looking forward to being with family next week, I'm thankful for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I'm thankful that my kids still have five great-grandparents living that they know and spend time with.


What, or who, are you thankful for this Thursday?


posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Simple Truth

Some of my best times with God are when I read kids devotionals and books! Maybe I’m small-minded or because that’s just my stage of life, maybe God loves me enough to reach out to my heart through those simple words.


This morning, the book, A Life God Rewards for Little Ones (Bruce Wilkinson) was about serving…giving an old toy, planting flowers, helping when someone was hurt – simple things. But, the common thread in all of it was that the little boy was serving, loving, and giving because he loved Jesus.


· Not because he was giving more than he should.
· Not because he gave last year.
· Not serving out of a heart motivated by doing good things.
· Not sharing because others were watching
· Not just modeling love for others to learn to show love (like I do with my kids)


Basically, he was not serving out of obligation, but just because the boy wanted Jesus to know how much he loved Him.


In this Christmas season when we are constantly running, buying/making gifts for teachers, decorating, planning, cleaning…why are we doing it all? If we want to show Jesus how much we love Him, will all of it really be important enough to continue doing?


The final pages showed the boy running to Jesus in heaven someday and how excited both he and Jesus were to see each other. Our life on earth is really very short. With that in mind, I can’t think of any better way to spend my day than showing Him now how much I love Him in all that I do.


He really is the reason for the season…so let’s serve Him today – not because we should, not because we are able, but just because we love Him.


“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.”
Colossians 3:23-24
Merry Christmas!
Sharon

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fun Monday

Addison, my 5 year-old, was marching around the house the other day singing, "All I want for Christmas is RELATIONSHIP, RELATIONSHIP." We were rolling! Where do they come up with this stuff?
Laurie

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thankful Thursday

This fall we had a preacher come to our church for revival. He talked about the Christmas story and how we know all the who's, what's, when's, and where's about it. But what about why? Some why's we know. For instance, we know that Jesus came to provide a way for us to have a relationship with a Holy God. We know that it happened in Bethlehem to fulfill prophesy. But why a stable? In our day and time of delivering babies in clean hospitals, we can't imagine having a baby in a stable! Wasn't there a better place?! Why a stable? He said one word: ACCESS. If there had been room in the inn, there would have been people, lots of people, between Jesus and the shepherds when they came to worship. If they had been in the inn, there would have been an innkeeper, who had the authority, to keep the shepherds out. But in the stable, there was no one in the way and no one to keep them out. They had access to come and worship their Messiah.


It is still true today. No one stands in our way. We have complete access to Jesus--the Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Redeemer, King of Kings, Savior. We just have to accept His gift. We have access to Him beyond salvation. We have access to Him when we are afraid, when we are so excited, when we are tired, when we are hurting, when we just want to chat, when we are frustrated and when we want to worship. That is what I'm thankful for today...access to Jesus.


What are you thankful for today?


posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ideas for Celebrating Christmas

Here are some of our favorite ideas that we have either done in our home with our family and friends or heard of and would love to try! Do you have any to add to the list?

  • Act out the Christmas Story, or at least read the Christmas story with the family.
  • We buy a family ornament and buy each of the kids an ornament they like.
  • Take a picture of kids serving. Make an ornament out of it. Great reminders each year.
  • Decorate someone’s house that is not able to do for themselves.
  • Secretly send a gift every day until Christmas to a special family (example: one piece of the manger scene at a time until all pieces have been sent).
  • Participate in Samaritan’s Purse or Angel Tree projects.
  • Present for Jesus – the first thing under the tree is a beautiful box. It is Jesus’ present. After Christmas morning, we sit as a family and write a gift we each want to give Jesus that year. Then we read them together the next Christmas. A gift to Jesus might be to spend more time with Him, be more kind to our siblings, commit to work on a character trait, etc.
  • Instead of making Christmas cookies, on Christmas Eve we bake a birthday cake for Jesus. Christmas morning, Daddy reads the Christmas story and then we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and blow out the candles. We explain to the kids that the presents we receive that day are blessings from God, because He has blessed us throughout the year.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fun Monday

This funny story is from Sharon's family...


Last night I climbed into Crislynn's top bunk to read with her. When I looked up, the ceiling fan had something crusty on the all the blades. I started rubbing it off wondering what in the world it was, because it was very consistent on every blade.


"Don't wipe that off mom!"


"What is it?"


"It's deodorant. When my fan goes around, it makes my room smell good."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thankful Thursday

In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas Season, we still need to work on being content and being thankful. I don't know about you, but this is a good reminder for me to look around and see what I'm thankful for.



This Thankful Thursday, I'm thankful for senses. God sure was creative when he designed us so that we can enjoy His handiwork! And the Christmas season is a feast for the senses! The next few days on facebook, we'll be sharing our favorite sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and feels of the season. Be sure to jump in the conversation! It is fun to see how this community of moms are different and alike. You can find us at Mom and Loving It!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Perfection

Perfection is a mom disease. It has many faces: Clean house perfection, perfectly behaved children, and expecting perfection from our husbands. I usually struggle with this perfection illness most at Christmas. The house should be perfectly decorated, always clean, children dressed in their yuletide best, beautiful smells and dishes should flow from my kitchen, and my husband should joyfully help put up the tree and lights.


Just the thought of it all makes my head spin. I think I’ve mellowed a little in the past few years. Somehow when the kids were small and I had more control over what they ate and wore, the pressure was greater. People expected them to look sweet, right?


Whatever stage you’re in as a mom, before we hit the chaos of December, let’s take some time to put into our schedules the most important things and plan our time according to those priorities:


1. Who do you want to visit this Christmas? Is there an elderly neighbor or family member that you really want your children to know?
2. What do you want to do as a family (that would be enjoyable for all of you)
3. How do you want to present the real meaning of Christmas to your children this year?
4. In what ways can you use the holidays to strengthen relationships with your spouse, children and other family and friends?
5. Is there a family tradition that your kids look forward to each year?


Here are some things to cut that can calm the Christmas Holiday:


1. You don’t have to unpack every box. Contents of unopened boxes will seem new next year!
2. Make one obvious spot in your house the focal point for decorating: maybe a fireplace, your front door, a staircase, or garland and lights around a mirror.
3. Decide on three gifts or fewer for your children – Jesus only received 3 gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) so our kids don’t need more than that. When I limit myself, my gifts are usually more thoughtful.
4. Make time to spend with God. Pray for His direction in your days this Christmas. When I can’t make sense of my days, He always has a way of putting them together much better than I dreamed.

If we live by the “Less is More” principal, we’ll find that we have more time to do the things that matter most.


Enjoying this Christmas Season!
Sharon

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night is back! This Friday, December 3rd on NBC, A Walk in My Shoes will be airing. Check your local listing for show times. It is a movie that shares a great family message about two families whose lives collide, creating an opportunity to see things from a whole new perspective.


A Walk In My Shoes - 2:33 TRLR from Moms4FamilyTV.com on Vimeo.




You can find out more information and ways to spread the word about this movie that we actually want to see with our kids and not have to worry about the content at Moms 4 Family TV. Get your popcorn!


Moms 4 Family TV is also having an essay contest. There are three catagories: 8th graders, 9th graders, and moms! You might not have child that age, but do you know a mom who writes? I thought so! The winner receives $500! The application also asks for the organization who referred you to the contest. If you win, and you put us down as the sponsoring organization, we can win a cash prize too! You can find more information about the contest here. Go for it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fun Monday

Sigh...if your Monday after Thanksgiving has gone like mine, you're just now sitting down too! I thought you would enjoy a short funny story. Some of you may have gone camping or some of your family might have gone fishing over the holiday, so here's a fishing story for you from Shelly in Texas.

My 2 year old (aka Little B) went fishing with his Daddy one day. Daddy would cast out the line, and Little B would reel it in as fast as he could. Cast and reel. Cast and reel. After a while, they had not had any bites, so Daddy cast it out and said, “This is the last time before we go home.” He handed the rod to Little B who just held it. Puzzled, Daddy looked at him. Little B looked up and replied, “My fish coming soon!”



We hope you had a fun time with family and friends over Thanksgiving. If you have a funny story you would like to share with us, you can send it to Shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to Him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights--
His love endures forever.
the sun to overn the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
...
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-9, 26

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Cobbler

I made this for a teacher appreciation lunch last week and they really enjoyed it, so I thought I would share it with you. It is easy and delicious! And it is great to take to a get together because you don't want too much of this temptation around! Enjoy!
Shelly


Pumpkin Cobbler


3 eggs, beaten
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend (I got this from Pampered Chef. If you have that spice, great. I just used a little more cinnamon.)
1 tsp. vanilla
18 ¼ oz. yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans


Stir the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour into greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture. Melt the margarine and drizzle over the top of the cake mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Chop pecans. Sprinkle over top and bake 15 more minutes.


Do you have any family favorite recipes to share?


(If you are looking for some great recipes, Beth Moore asked her blog community for some good ones. You can check it out here.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Traditions

The holidays are upon us! We hope that you get the opportunity to have some special time celebrating with your family and friends this week. A few years ago, we were with a group who shared ideas of how they celebrated different holidays. Here are a few ideas about Thanksgiving:


* Construction paper leaves/tree on wall. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving write “I am thankful for…” on the leaves and put them on the tree. The leaves are read on Thanksgiving Day. (Sorry we are a little late on this one, but if you have a big group getting together, it still might could work!)


* Use a special tablecloth on this day and have everyone who sits at the meal with us sign and date the tablecloth with a permanent marker. It is fun to look at each year.

* Slips of paper in a pot stating what you’re thankful for


* William Bradford’s Thanksgiving account, The Plymouth Plantation (read this story).

* Adopt a family for Thanksgiving or invite an elderly person who doesn’t have family

* Send a Thanksgiving letter instead of Christmas letter

* A-Z Thanks

* When you walk in, you put a slip of paper in the “Thankful Jar” after writing something you are thankful for that year. Later we read them out loud and guess who wrote it.

* We play board games

* Cooking together

* Family Life Resources "Thanksgiving Box Devotional" – Do one devotional each night of the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Helps focus all of us on the significance of why we are celebrating and what we have to be thankful for.


* Listen to the Radio Theatre production of Squanto or read it.

What other ideas do you have to make this Thanksgiving special?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Loud Times with God

Early in my mothering career I shared a frustration with a friend who had older children. I was feeling defeated because I was having a hard time spending time with God. I was tired. I didn't know how I could wake up any earlier. When I did wake up early, it seemed like the baby could smell me and would wake up just minutes after my feet hit the floor. I felt sure that God was angry with me and ready to go look somewhere else for a faithful mom.


My friend told me, "Sharon, God knows your heart and He is very aware of the seasons of our lives. He isn't sitting up there shaking His finger at you. He's right beside you as you change diappers. When you're up in the night, so is He."


She went on to tell me that when her kids were small, she had felt the same way; she kept waiting for a "quiet time" to spend with God. One day the Lord revealed to her that she could spend time with Him even if it was a loud time. So with her son playing around her feet, she sat down and had a loud time with God.


God never said, "Spend quiet time with me every day in the morning, or else!" He encourages us to spend the time, to be still and know that He is God. He knows that hiding His Word in our hearts will carry us through everything we face. But at the same time, He isn't waiting to zap us because we didn't get up after a night of feedings, or just because we are exhausted from life. When you try to read at night and wake up with your face smushed into the pages, He understands.


If those times of the day aren't working for you, try having a "loud time" with God. Andrew Murray wrote, "It is when the soul is hushed in silent awe and worship...that the still small voice of the blessed Spirit will be heard." He didn't say that everything else has to be quiet in order for our soul to be hushed before Him.


Think about it: Don't we want our children to see us spending time with the God who gives us strength? If we always spend quiet time with Him before they are awake or after they are sleeping soundly, they could miss seeing firsthand that He is our lifeline.


God says, "Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me" (Isaiah 30:15 The Message). I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to sit down once my kids are awake. For some reason we moms feel like we have to be "up and at 'em."


True, there are things that we have to do, but taking a break, resting with the Lord, listening to Him even when it's loud around us--those are the things that will carry us through all the remaining tasks and decisions the day holds.


Father, what a relief it is to me to know that You know right where I am. I can quit trying to impress You by my efforts and just rest in You, even if the moments are loud. I pray You'll help me focus on You as I quiet my soul during the day. Help me remember that the day is not lost just because I didn't wake up and immediately spend time with You. Remind me to stop throughout my day. I feel the urge to be "doing" when my kids are awake. Slow me down. Draw me to You.


I pray that You will fill me with Your patience when my kids need me. If I have to get up and come back, You'll go with me and meet me again. If I have to get up and I can't come back, thank You for understanding. Feel free to speak to me through the day. I pray that You'll open my ears so that I can hear from you. Open my eyes so I can see what You want to show me. Loving You...I pray in Jesus' Name, amen.


What works for you? Share any tips to spending time with God that have helped you.


(from Laurie and Sharon's book Hold You, Mommy)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun Monday

Crislynn had to disect owl poop looking for bones of animals it had eaten. (Okay this isn't funny...this is disgusting!) Anyway, when she was explaining it to me, she stopped and grinned, "Ooh...I sound so scientific!" She was feeling smart. Love that!

Do you have a fun story to share this Monday?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday--Praise

One night before we had a speaking engagement, I had a lot on my mind. I was in no shape to speak to women about loving their families, because at the moment I didn't think too much of mine. Mostly my husband. I was so mad at him! I felt like we (the kids and I) were an afterthought in his life.


I was fuming as I left our bus and headed for the church. Suddenly I saw the sunset. It was beautiful. I had almost missed it in my fury. I started walking slower and thanked God for the sunset. Then I saw the flag flying outside the church, and I thanked God for our country and the freedom to worship as we want.


It bagan a waterfall of thanks in my heart. I thanked Him for my family--for my children who were so precious and my husband, who was just having a bad day. I thanked God for loving me, for having the ability to stop me in my pious condemnation and turn my eyes to Him.


By the time I made my way to the door of the church, I didn't want to go in because my time of praise to the Lord was so sweet. My heart, which had just moments earlier been so heavy, was now full of love, forgiveness, and gratefulness. I was amazed at the instant change that praising the Lord had made in my heart and attitude.


When we praise the Lord, it isn't just a way for us to worship Him, although that is very important. "Praise releases the power of God into our lives. Praise is a powerful tool that the Lord has put in our hands to turn the difficult situations of our lives around."1


I realized that praise doesn't necessarily chage our circumstances, but it can change our perspective and attitude about out situations. It gives hope for the challenging times. As days passed, I began acknowledging the amazing things about God as I prayed, instead of only making requests and asking forgiveness for things I had done wrong.


Praise doesn't come naturally for me. Before I ask anything from the Lord, I speak some words of praise to Him. It's not always easy, but practicing helps.


"Let praise cascade off my lips; after all, you've taught me the truth about life! Invigorate my soul so I can praise you well" (Psalm 119:171, 175 The Message).


Lord, I praise You for giving us the ability to praise You. You are the king of all the earth. Nothing is above You. You are the beginning, the end, and everything in between. Thank You for Your creation. The trees, mountains, flowers, rivers, and especially people are all amazing gifts from You. I pray that You will let praise cascade off my lips, specific praises every day, all the time.


I ask that You help me learn to see the good things about my family, the blessings rather than the burdens. Would You remind me to daily praise You for them? Thank You. On my own, change is hopeless, but with You my whole heart can be renewed. My attitude can change from sour to sweet. Thank You for loving me enough to die for me. Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for enabling us to be thankful. Thank You that we aren't condemned to just be negative; there is hope for tomorrow. Let everything that is within me praise You, Lord, and through that praise fill me with Your strength and hope, letting that joy spill over into my family. I love You, Lord. I pray in Jesus' Name, amen.


What are you thankful for this Thursday?


(From Laurie and Sharon's book Hold You, Mommy)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quote of the day

Here is an interesting thought:

I am a mom even when I don’t want to be.
I can delegate other things, but I
can’t delegate my role as a mom.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fun Monday!

Need a smile this Monday morning? Here is a fun moment that Sharon shared last week...


Davis had a staring contest with Rowdy this morning. (Rowdy is a beanie baby.) Rowdy won!



Any funny moments happening at your house that you would like to share with us, we would love to hear them. Send Shelly an email at Shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org. Hope you have a blessed week!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful Thursday!

Remember we are practicing being content by being grateful! What are you thankful for this Thursday?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three Photo Albums

As moms we are constantly taking pictures of ourselves and we choose to categorize these images in one of three albums.


In photo album #1 we find snapshots of a woman who is always comparing herself to others--her body, her habits, the financial status of her family, and her skills. She has the overwhelming feeling that she has nothing to offer the world. She is constantly striving to be something or someone she was not meant to be. She feels like she is not capable of doing enough as a mom or friend, and she always worries about what others are thinking of her.


Beneath the cover of photo album #2 we find a smiling woman. But if you look closely, it's not her smile, but one she cut out and pasted to her face (kind of like those hips on magazine covers). She is focused on other people, sort of. With her plastered smile she "listens" to her friend while organizing the rest of the day in her head. She musters her energy to prepare an extra-special meal for her husband, but is frustrated by the end of it because the cake didn't rise. She offers to help with the nursery, only to find herself wishing she hadn't. She goes to bed exhausted from the day, dreading the start of tomorrow. She is tired-out and burned-out. She wonders how she can keep up this pace.


Then last, inside photo album #3, we find another woman. She is the one the first woman longs to be like and the one the second lady works hard to match. She has a listening ear for a friend even when it means the plan for her day will change. She looks at other women with God's loving camera, being more concerned about how someone feels than how they dress. Because she is depending on God's strength, she is able to instruct and train rather than yell at her child. She spends time with God not out of duty but because she loves Him. She climbs into bed at night and thanks God for His goodness.


Does the lady in photo album #3 sound a little too perfect? Don't worry, she's not. It's just that by spending time with God she has learned to be more and more like Him. Her eyes have been focused on the Lord, and He has kept His promise: "Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame" (Psalm 34:5). It isn't something that happened to her overnight.


Actually, she has three photo albums just like you and me. She has been through those same stages. On occasion she still adds photos to those first two albums--comparing, then doing all she can to measure up. But gradually she began walking more in step with the Lord, dealing with spills and schedules more calmly, thinking the best of her family and friends. And as she did, her third photo album began to grow. Because of her focus on the Lord she is able to love God; therefore, she is able to love her neighbors (friends, co-workers, husband, children); and now she is even able to love herself. Wow--three for one! We're moms, and we know a good deal when we see one!


When we choose to see ourselves and others from God's viewpoint there will be joy, regardless of our circumstances. When He is the focus, it takes the pressure off of us.
"Fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you" (Romans 12:2 The Message).


So there are three focal points to choose from. The choice seems obvious, but there are days I still find myself in album #1, comparing myself to every woman I meet (usually this happens at one particular time of the month). More frequently I find myself putting photos in album #2, thinking I can handle everything on my own. But more and more I am opening album #3 as I learn to depend on Jesus, to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It's great when I choose to zoom in on the love of the Lord and let Him fill me up so that I can share His love with those who mean so much to me.


Father, You know our tendency as women to be unhappy with who we are. Nudge me, Lord, when even a hint of comparison begins to come my way so that I can refocus my attention on You. Help me make time to get to know You. Show me how You created me uniquely to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I want to handle things like You would a little more every day. I pray You'll encourage me by letting me see changes that You have made in my Life. Thank You, Lord, for Your forgiveness and for always being there to help me refocus. Bless others through me. I pray in Jesus' Name. Amen.


(from Sharon and Laurie's book Mom...And Loving It!)


Here is where we can encourage one another in this matter. How do you refocus? What are some Scriptures that help you refocus?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fun Monday

Mondays we can all use a smile to get us going. If you would like to share a fun moment you have had with your family, we would love to hear from you! Send them to Shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org.


Today's Fun Monday post is from Mandy. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A thankful heart

A thankful heart is rarely a discontented heart. When life is hard and everything seems to be going wrong, it is easy to focus on the immediate circumstances. The negative, at times, can consume your thoughts and emotions. One day, when I was short on money, time and patience, I found myself overwhelmed, focusing on all that was going wrong in my life. All this accomplished was a feeling of hopelessness. In my state of depression I was reminded that God's Word says to "give thanks in all things." In my mind I scoffed, "Boy, like that will help anything. Live like Pollyanna . . . whatever." But I tried it. I found myself looking for things for which to be thankful. It wasn't long until my whole attitude was different. Instead of living defeated, I was living confident, not in my own abilities, but in God's promises. My circumstances had not changed, but my focus had. It made all the difference.
Now it is your turn! How has being thankful impacted you? What are you thankful for this Thursday?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If I Could Only Remember

Recently, I had the same conversation with two different ladies. They both told me that they hadn't been spending time with God, but when they do, they really are better wives and moms. One mom said, "After I spend time with Him, I get better. Then I forget God again."


I was right there with them, wondering why I too could spend time with the Lord, see the benefits, then forget to devote time to Him. I once heard Bible teacher Beth Moore say, "God delights when hearts, so prone to wander, choose Him."


It's a common thing for humans, especially moms, to try to handle everything on our own. Besides, there is so much to do that we think we don't have time for one more thing. The ironic thing is, though, when I stop and spend time with God, I accomplish so much more. It's like guaranteed help, and who of us doesn't need help?


Yet there are those times when I still forget to spend time with God. There are many things that can make our hearts wander, demands that consume our time. I found this entry in my journal and thought it might entice us all to turn our eyes back to Him. It can remind us of His faithfulness and help us remember the blessings that come when we give Him part of our hectic and chaotic days.

December 2004
About a week ago, I was low...very low. At a time that I felt I couldn't do anything right, I did do two things right: I started praying (those SOS prayers--"Please help fast, Lord!") and I began spending time with God, reading my Bible. I didn't feel better immediately, but I'm realizing the important thing is to know I will feel better. God has been so gracious to show me that over and over again. When I'm feeling down, if that low time draws me closer to Him--great! He is faithful to hold on to me and remind me of my purpose when I feel worthless. When I haven't been faithful in spending time with Him, He remains consistently loyal--always ready to take my hand and help me up. But I have to offer my hand and stop trying to get out of the quicksand of life and the mud of emotions on my own. He is my rescuer.

Are you trying to handle everything on your own? If you have never accepted Christ, asking Him to come into your life gives you someone to walk with each day, and it gives you hope when you're feeling down. No matter what you've done, He loves you. He really, really loves you!


If you are a believer, how long has it been since you made time for the Lord in your day? don't miss out on the blessings that await your willingness to turn your wandering, busy, sleep-deprived heart toward Him for even a few minutes today. Choose Him and then trust Him to rescue you when you find yourself downhearted. If it's been a while since you talked with Him, pray--even if you have to pray an SOS prayer. He loves hearing from you.


December 2004 (continued)
Thank You, Lord, for being so different from my "get what you deserve" mentality. It's hard for me to see past that thought to the truth of who You are: Love--simply love. Just because You want to love me, You love me. Thank You, thank You, thank You for calling me back to You again and again. I love You, too! Living and learning in Jesus' Name...Amen.


(from Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fun Monday

Welcome to fun Monday! Our kids say and do the funniest things and being there for the comedy routine is just one of the perks of being a mom! (And it helps us get through the days of "spills here and smudges there; dirty fingers, sticky hair!") We would love to hear some of your fun family stories to share here on Fun Monday. You can send your stories to shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org.


Courtney shared this fun story with us about her son's first day of kindergarten.


So we get into the van and I asked Owen the following questions...


1. How was your day? Owen says, It was GREAT!


2. What did you think of your teacher? Owen says, Oh she is pretty! (Oh jeez)


3. Did you have fun playing in the flour? Owen says, YES we all got really dirty and got in the shower and put our clothes in the dryer!


4. What did you say? (As I turn the volume to the radio to OFF!) We took showers as our dirty clothes were drying!


5. What about the other kids/girls in your class? Owen says, Mom we took turns nobody saw me naked!


So I get home and call a friend who has a son in the same class and her son says, We dusted off outside. I call the school and ask for the teacher and proceed to tell her what Owen says as she is BUSTING A GUT!!! She said that has to be one the FUNNIEST stories but NO it is NOT TRUE!! I confront Owen and he says, Mom I made up a funny story so you would laugh and you were laughing on the phone!!!


Thanks for sharing a laugh with us Courtney!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Come Join Us!

Mom, do you know how valuable you are? Do the endless tasks of motherhood have you asking, what am I really accomplishing? Join me for an amazing conference that has been transforming women in all ages and stages of motherhood. The North Central Hearts at Home Conference, Mom’s the Word!, is being held Nov. 12-13th in Rochester, MN. Register by Oct. 20th for the best value. Late registration ends Nov. 5th. Visit www.hearts-at-home.org or call 309-828-MOMS for details. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you will be inspired, refreshed and recharged to continue on your parenting journey!

Sharon and Laurie will be there! If you are in the area and can go, we would love to see you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thankful Thursday!

At their conferences, Laurie and Sharon speak about being content. Being content with who we are, with our husbands, our children, and our lives in general. A big part of that attitude is being grateful for what we have and where we are. In that spirit, we are going to start a little something here on the blog where we share something that we are thankful for this Thursday.


I was talking with a friend the other day about how I'm thankful I'm in this time period where I can go down to Wal-mart and buy chicken ready to cook, and I don't have to chase, kill, or clean it first!


Sharon said this week

I'm thankful that our dog and cat get along. They are so cute! Instead of chaos, they make us smile!

She tried to get a picture of them greeting each other in the morning with a "kiss," but of course, this week they were not feeling photogenic! Maybe another day!


What makes you thankful this Thursday? We would love to hear from you!


posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

He cares

Did you know that God knows how many hairs you have on your head? (See Luke 12:7.) Do you care how many hairs you have on your head? I don't. But God cares about the little things in our lives. He cares that you need a good parking space at Wal-Mart when you have small children, or that you want your child to hit the ball instead of striking out, again. He cares about it all--relationships with our husbands, children, in-laws, friends, co-workers. Talk to Him about anything that concerns you. Thank Him for what He has done for you. (I really do pray for a parking place at Wal-Mart, and you would be amazed at the spots He has provided.) When we trust Him with the little things it is easier for us to see His answers to the bigger problems in our lives.


Lord, You not only know the number of hairs on my head, but how many steps I take, when I sit down and when I stand up. You go before me and behind me. You protect my coming and going. Your love for me is absolutely more than I can imagine! Today draw me closer to You, knowing that You want to be with me. Teach me to trust You with the little things and the big things. Thank You for loving me! In Jesus' Name we pray...amen.


(adapted from Sharon and Laurie's book Mom...and Loving It!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun Monday!

We are going to try something a little bit new, and we need your help! As moms we have a hard job that is tedious and mundane at times, very fullfilling and rewarding at times, difficult at times, and hilarious at times! I'm so glad God gave us the gift of laughter to brighten our days. That is one of the best parts about being a mom is having the front row center for the comedy show, starring our families! They say and do some of the funniest things!

Sharon shared a recent funny moment at their house...
Davis had been rude to one of his sisters, so I told him, "If you don't have sweet things to say to your sisters, you can't have sweets for today." He went outside upset and played in the backyard. Later, when he came in he told me, “I asked God if I should climb the fence and run away. He said, ‘No.’” Good answer, God!!

It doesn't take much to make us smile sometimes! Sharon, Laurie, and I can think of some stories that made us giggle. But we want to hear some of yours too! So every Monday we will share a fun family moment from one of your families or one of ours. To participate, just send your story (and picture with it if it needs a little illustration) :) to me, shelly (at) MomAndLovingIt (dot) org. We can't wait to hear from you! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bad Day?

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Things were not going as planned! I had been busy all morning but had nothing to show for it. I had intended to get up early, but instead I slept late. I had been ugly to my kids. It was afternoon, and I hadn't even had time to take a shower. I was feeling really low, primarily about myself. I was in a funk.


Alec, my ten-year-old, hugged me that day and out of the blue said, "I'm so glad you're my mom. I wouldn't want anyone else." I returned the hug and commented, "Sometimes I think someone else could do a much better job." He looked at me with a horrified look and said, "Why would you say that?"


Why would I say something like that? I guess because I felt like a complete failure. I was not being patient with my kids. I had raised my voice one too many times. A harsh scowl seemed to be permanently chiseled into my face. I was comparing myself with other moms. I don't deserve to have kids, I thought.


Guilt weighs heavily on most of our shoulders at one time or another. It seems to go with the title of Mother. No one prepared us for how challenging this role would be. Nor did they tell us how connected our hearts would be to our children.


I heard a friend say one time, "God wants me to be a 'good' mom, not a perfect one." But sadly many of us are striving for perfection. What we don't realize is that these ideals we have ascribed to ourselves are impossible to keep, and they only make everyone (the people around us as well as ourselves) miserable. Nobody likes to be around people who think they are perfect or won't admit they're wrong. So why put ourselves through all that?


I want to encourage you today. The next time you're having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, remember: The only "code" we are to be patterning our life after is God's Word. We are to base our self-image on who He says we are. Ephesians 2:10 says it well:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which
God prepared in advance for us to do."

Don't fall into the trap of self-defeat. Let God untangle the web of lies you've believed about yourself and set you free to find who you are in Him--a daughter of the King, worthy because of His shed blood, forgiven by His grace, and strengthened by His strong hand.


Lord Jesus, I feel like such a failure at times. I don't feel I even deserve to be a mom because of how I've acted toward my family lately. Please forgive me, Lord, and restore me to a right relationship with You. Help me find myself in You. Help me sift through the lies I've believed for so long, and replace them with Your truth of who I really am. Thank You for covering me with Your righteousness, so that I am not continually trying to be good enough on my own. In Your strength I'll seek to focus on You and not me! Amen.


(from Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

You are Not Alone

(Because of the way this one starts, I want you to know upfront that it was taken from Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy. No less relevant today in new stages than it was 6 years ago, but neither of the girls have a newborn at the moment!)


As many of you know, I have entered the world of diapers, strollers, and middle-of-the-night feedings again. Most of the time "I'm loving it," but other times I think "I'm losing it!" I don't know about you, but I find myself forgetting things (primarily my children's names), or I'll go to another room to get something and forget why I'm there. Sometimes thinking of a simple word can bumfuzzle me! And have you ever put something away and then for the life of you, you can't remember where you put it? Please tell me you can relate...or am I just getting old? I prefer to think that it is postpartum brain loss.


Feeling "confused and disoriented" is a problem for most moms. A common occurrence in our house that can almost bring me to tears is when everyone needs me at the same time. The baby awakens from his nap, crying because he's hungry, and my five-year-old is in the bathroom calling, "Mommy, I neeeeeeed you!" My eight-year-old, standing on her head, determined to keep her balance, is breathlessly saying, "Mommy, Mommy, look at me, look at me!" And at the exact same time, my ten-year-old is asking, "Mom, can I buy these new bracelets off eBay? The deal goes off in five minutes."


Of course all this is happening as I'm preparing dinner. And while working quickly to put out the various family "fires," I find I've started one of my own on the stove! I've often had the thought, If one more person calls my name, I'm gonna scream, only to hear my husband say, "Honey, have you seen my glasses?" Aahh! I can't take it anymore!


There are days I think, Lord, I can't do this. I don't even have the energy to try anymore. Some days the challenges of motherhood are too demanding, too overwhelming, too exhausting.


Do you ever feel like giving up? Is your burden too heavy? Are you afraid because you feel out of control? Don't worry--you are not alone.


Isaiah 41:10 says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (emphasis added).
It isn't all up to you. God longs to fill us with His strength if we'll just let Him. It is in recognizing our weakness that we realize God's strength. Isaiah 40:29 says it well: "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

In The Message, Isaiah 41:9-10 reads like this:
"I've picked you. I haven't dropped you. Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm you God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."


Just remember: When you are out of control, He is in control. Get close to Him. Seek Him, and He'll empower you to handle the challenges that overwhelm you.


Lord, I want to stop trying to do everything on my own. I need you to calm my spirit, to give me strength, to hold me steady. Give me self-control so that I can respond gently instead of harshly, set loving limits instead of rash rules, and seek to understand before making demands. Lord, I am weak, but you are strong! Thanks be unto God! Amen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heavenly Hide-and-Seek

She was tired of shopping, but I wasn't quite finished. (Isn't that how it usually is with our children...and husbands?) There were only a couple of other people in our area of the store, so when she asked if she could play hide-and-seek, I gave her safe boundaries and away she went.


A few moments later I started looking for her, shoving the clothes with both hands to check the middle of the racks (every kid's perfect hiding place), looking behind the jeans along the wall, through the racks again, and then suddenly I was frantic.


Thinking she mush have disobeyed, I started looking outside of the boundaries--under the doors of the dressing rooms and behind the checkout counter. I gave a stern, "Come out right now," and out popped her head from a rack clearly within the boundaries. I breathed a sigh of relief, and greeted her with open arms.


In Luke 15:4 Jesus said,
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. does he not leave the ninety-nine...and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?"
I was determined that day to find my "lost sheep." My concern at the moment was not that she had gone out of the boundaries, but that I find her.


Just as we would look for our children, Jesus also continues "seeking" us until we are found. We would never say, "Oh, I have most of my children. That's fine. We can go on without that one." Jesus doesn't want to leave any child behind either. He isn't concerned that we have crossed the boundary lines or done things that we shouldn't have done. His concern is that we are found.


Just as we don't stop loving our children because they aren't perfect, God doesn't stop loving us because we've done things wrong. Some people think they have to get their life totally together before they can say yes to God. But that's getting things backward. He wants to guide us so our lives can be all He created us to be.


Have you been found? Or are you still hiding? Is it time for you to come out of the shadows? Maybe it's not that you're hiding from Him; you're just lost and you know something is missing in your life. Let Him find you. He is ready to receive you. He's waiting with arms open wide, a sigh of relief, and a big smile on His face.


from Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Details

Odds are either you or your spouse are detail oriented, but probably not both of you. Which can be cause for...um...interesting interactions at times. ;) There is no one, however, who pays greater attention to details than our Creator. God is the ultimate "detail person." Just look at the perfectly formed flowers, clothed in vibrant colors. Consider the majestic trees waving gracefully in the wind, and the vast starry sky on a clear night. Think about the brightly colored bugs in all their different shapes and sizes. God is absolutely amazing!


His creation declares His attention to details. In all His creation, however, nothing compares to the detail involved in the creation of human life. Talk about details! How long has it been since you studied human anatomy? Our bodies are truely remarkable, aren't they?


While nursing my four-month-old baby, I was made aware of God's careful attention to details. I began to notice all the wonderful little features that made my baby unique--his tiny, chubby fingers curled around mine, his perfect rosy lips pressed against my breast, his soft velvety head sprouting new hair, his squishy little legs, creased as if sectioned off by rubber bands, and his small fat toes resembling miniature peanuts. What an incredibly detailed creation!


As moms, we shuffle a tremendous number of details in our lives, don't we? Feeding schedules, laundry, doctor appintments, play dates, family meal planning, running errands, getting kids to their practices and games, etc. The list could go on and on.


I don't know about you, but I can easily get bogged down in all the details of my life. I grow overwhelmed as I try to stay in control of it all. I sometimes feel guilty asking God for strength or help in the midst of the chaos. After all, I created it, so I must handle it! Right?


Wrong. We shouldn't ever heistate to invite God in on the details of or days. He already knows them, and He cares enough to want to be a part of them. In Luke 12:6-7 it says,


"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."



Why would God have mentioned that He knows the number of hairs on our heads if He didn't care about the details of our lives? Don't be afraid; come to Him with the details. You are worth more than any old sparrow! Include Him in the smallest details of your life, even those that may seem insignificant to you. Remember, He cares about the number of hairs on your head. You can't get much smaller than that!


Creator in heaven, how majestic is Your Name in all the earth. Nature shouts of Your attention to detail. I praise You and thank You! I am in awe of You as I gaze at the works of Your hands. I am humbled, Lord, to think that You care more about me than any other creted thing. Thank You for caring about the details of my life, no matter how small or seemingly insignificaant they may be. I need Your wisdom and direction today. I want the details fo my life to line up with Your plans and purposes for me. For it is Your plans (details) that will prevail (Proverbs 19:21). Thank You, Father, that I can come to You just as I am...through Jesus. Amen.

From Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

How is it that adding a child to your family has a way of transforming your home? Children change our priorities. They change our sleep patterns. They change our finances. They change our relationships. They change pretty much everything! Mostly, however, they change our hearts. I had never experienced the depth of love I now know until I added children to my life.


The experience of raising children has given me a better understanding of how much God must love me. It's amazing to think that no matter how much I love my children, God's love for His children is even greater.


In Matthew 7:9-11 it says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (emphasis added). If we know how to give good things to our kids, just think how much better God is at loving His children.


God loves you and wants to reach out to you. Don't be afraid of Him. Think how much you love your children and then remember--He's much better at this than I could ever be! Take a look at Romans 8:31-39 from The Message translation of the Bible. You can't deny how much God loves you when you read this.


So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us--who was raised to life for us!--is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture...None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing--nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable--absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us (emphasis added).


So do you get it? . . . God loves you! Thank Him and live like a loved child today because...you are!


Lord Jesus, thank You for Your love. It is hard for me to accept that You love me so much when I feel so undeserving. As I love my children, continue to open my eyes to see how much you love me. I want to rest in Your love. I don't have to try to prove myself to You. You did all the work onthe cross, so that all I have to do is focus on You! In Your Name I pray, amen.


adapted from Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grandparents Day 2010

"What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies." ~ Rudolph Giuliani

Sunday, September 12th is Grandparents Day! Every family is different, but we hope you are blessed with grandparents in your life. Because of loss or distance, they may not be related by blood, but you might have some grandparent-type people in your circle of friends. However it looks in your family, grand-angles can help provide those essentials Rudolph Guiliani mentioned (and we know there are more essentials that point to God too). Every year at this time we try to honor them for the blessing they are in our lives. And every year it seems that I’m scrambling to come up with ideas. I’ll give you some of mine and I’m counting on you all to pitch in some of yours as well! How do you honor the grandparents and great-grandparents in your life?

Gift ideas. We talk about speaking our children’s love languages. Think of that when giving gifts to grandparents too. Anything that shows how the kids have grown is usually a hit.

* Quality time--Share a meal together, if you are close enough; or call them

* Words of encouragement--Write out a blessing; or send a card

* Acts of service--Help them with yard work or another project

* Physical touch--HUGS! (Even if you are far away, you can measure a strip of paper as long as your child can reach and put a hand on either side of it to send a “hug.”)

* Gifts

---> Handprints and pictures are always hits in my family. We have put them on bookmarks, cards, and t-shirts. One card said “We have the best grandparents, hands down.” Another card was a cut out of the kid’s hand where the thumb and forefinger were on the fold and it made a heart shape when you opened it. My daughter came home from school where they made characters out of thumbprints. She said, "Mom, it's amazing what you can do with a thumbprint!" It's true! You can make thumbprint characters for your whole family on a card.
---> Calendar with pictures (we usually do this one at Christmas instead)
---> Current pictures framed
---> The kids’ art work
---> Brag book or accordion card with current pictures and stories of how God is working in each one’s life
---> Then there is always the option of something they actually need or want. Or something they collect or are interested in. :)

Recently I overheard my grandparents talking with their friends, and the main topic was not “how successful my kids/grandkids are” trying to outdo one another. It was stories of how God is working in my kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids lives. That was encouraging for this mom to hear. So this Grandparents Day, give them something to praise God and be thankful about!

by Shelly ~Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant
Giuliani quote from: http://www.grandparents.com/gp/content/expert-advice/new-grandparents/article/grandparents-day-quotes

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Learning the secret

Do you ever find yourself with a restless heart? Discontent with just about everything? I’ve often heard two pieces of advice given on talk shows, at church, and friend to friend about how to make yourself feel better, how to be more content. The first cure for discontentment goes something like this:


1. Look around; when you do, you’ll always find someone who is worse off than yourself. That will help you have a thankful heart.


I’ve tried this strategy, sort of “guilting” myself into a thankful heart. It doesn’t take long for me to find someone who has less money, a harder life, an unhappy marriage, a smaller house, or physical attributes that aren’t particularly desirable. For a while it works, but those “good, thankful” feelings only last until I look outside of myself and see someone else whose situation is better than my own. Then it’s easy to be envious and discontented all over again.


Another popular cure for gaining contentment with yourself is to simply:


2. Be positive.


There is nothing wrong with positive self-talk. Many times it’s a choice we have to make, but being positive isn’t the final cure. There are some days that I can stay upbeat, but other days fatigue, the weight of responsibility, and certain times of the month can steal my ability to see anything positive in my circumstances.


I have found that there is no other solution that can give you the ability to have a foundation of thankfulness—regardless of your situation or circumstances, except a relationship with Jesus Christ.


I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:12-13


Paul said he had learned to be content in every circumstance; he knew what it was like to be in need and to have plenty. Sometimes as a struggling mom, I think, “Good for you, Paul, ‘cause I’m not there!” Paul’s statement “I have learned the secret of being content” is truly amazing when you find out what Paul actually went through. He was whipped, beaten with rods, stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked three times, and spent a day and night in the open sea—not exactly favorable circumstances by anyone’s standards! (See 2 Corinthians 11:24-27.)


What was the secret he learned? In the next verse he says, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” The Message says it like this (v. 13): “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” Paul realized that his ability to be content came as a result of his strength through Christ, not because of himself or his circumstances, not because of positive self-talk or finding someone in a situation worse than his own.


Lord,
You know every problem I’ve faced, every disappointment, every person who has caused me pain. You understand my situation better than I do. Draw me to Your side, Father. Everything that has happened in my life hasn’t been good, but You promise that all things will work into something good. Help me to see Your plan for my life. Thank You for making me a priority, for planning my life before my parents knew I was part of the plan. Help me live my life, not in my own strength, but in Yours. I want to depend on You, not the ideas the world offers. Help me grow to love You more and more every day. Thank You for washing away all the sins I’ve committed, even the owns I would be ashamed to tell anyone about. Thank You for giving me life. It’s because of You, Jesus, that I have hope. In Your Name I pray. Amen.


Now let’s encourage one another. Do you have a favorite verse that helps you get your heart and mind back on track and content in Him? Let’s hear it!


Adapted from Laurie and Sharon’s book Mom…and Loving It!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

As the School Bells Ring...

And the School Bell Rings!!

Saved by the bell is not exactly what I'm feeling this week. In some ways, yes. I am enjoying the freedom that has come to my days. My kitchen is spotless. I went to work on-time since we were out the door earlier than usual. We have tons to talk about because everybody goes to a different place each day. But, yesterday, my FB post was: "The kids are off to school. I'm free. Why am I so weepy?" I'm better today. Just a little hint of wanting to cry. But no real tears, yet.


I've homeschooled until now, so this is a jolt to all of our systems. We went from little structure to lots of it. When anybody asks me how I'm doing, I have been embarrassed by the river of tears that swells and threatens to overflow the banks of my eyelids. I was relieved to have several moms tell me, "I wept when my kids went to school," or "I cry every year when school starts because we've had so much fun through the summer. You get used to them being with you."


Not all moms feel this way. And please don't feel bad if you did a happy dance when you dropped them off the first day. I think that will come for me, too...in a few weeks.


The openness of these moms to share in my sadness by admitting their own, reminded me that it's so important to be authentic with each other. If I pretend to have it all together, I just make life harder on somebody else. So take a risk and offer your true feelings to another mom. It might be just the ticket to help her find a balance between sadness and the "happy dance."


This year we are going to work on learning Romans 12. I'm praying for my kids Romans 12:2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."


Blessings!
Sharon

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rocks vs. Pebbles

You might have seen the illustration about putting the big rocks in the jar before you pour the pebbles in. If you pour the pebbles in first, the big rocks won't fit, overflowing out of the top of the jar. That's exactly how it is with life. If we don't commit to putting the major things into our day (time with God, investing in our families, etc.), we will be constantly chasing the small things (practices, matching stray socks) and may miss what is most important to us.


For many moms, our time is taken from us by the demands of school, extracurricular activities (ball games and music lessons), church commitments, or a job commitment, not to mention all the responsibilities a home and family bring. For single moms, your time is stretched even further, beyond your limit at times. There are more books and articles on the subject of balancing our time than there are jelly beans in a "guessing jar." But why are we trying to keep all the plates spinning at the same time? Even the trained circus performers who spend hours trying to keep the plates balanced allow one to drop on occasion!


What plates are you balancing? The beginning of a new school year is a great time to set some goals and be intentional about what we spend our time on.


Lord, Thank You for watching over my family as we go through our day. Some days are so full that I feel like we didn't live them--we endured them. Help us learn how to rest in You and enjoy our days. When we are home, Father, help us to really be together. It will be something only You can do, but lease, Lord, help me to see my children's faces before I see the mess. Trim our schedule as You see fit, Lord. Give me wisdom to see things the way You would. Learning to rest...Amen.


Now it is your turn to chime in. What are some ideas that work for your family to spend time together? Any tips to get house work done to have time for some fun? How about keeping the family schedule within livable limits?


adapted from Laurie and Sharon's book Mom...and Loving It!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Still Giving His All - Delightful Dad Contest Winner


My dad met me when I was just 3 years old. My mom and I traveled from New York to California looking for a better life. She was 16. My dad found us and fell in love with us immediately. When I was 6, he married my mom and took me in as his own. Both he and my mom struggled to find work and keep a roof over our head. We scraped by, and I wasn't aware then how hard he worked to provide for us.


My dad took every job that he could, while also committing to his family. He worked in Phoenix on the weekends and in Costa Mesa, California during the week. I always remember how happy we were to see him come home, but only to send him off a very short time later. He never looked tired to me, though, and always attended to our needs.


I saw as I got older and into my teen years, how much my Dad really provided for our family. Not only financially, but spiritually and emotionally. His showing me that hard work was the key to success and that determination and trust in God was critical. He taught me that you can't always believe what you read or hear, and that I could always go to him when I needed to.


When I was in college, he was able to start his own business and grew it slowly and successfully. He blessed others with benefits and a good salary before his own, with gifts and loans as they needed, and he shared the blessings of a successful business with those who were having a rough patch in his life.


It was 3 years ago when my dad lost his business. The money he put away for his future and the money he earned through his 20 years of a successful business vanished. He lost his company, his home and his health. My parents moved to New York 2 years ago to care for my ailing grandfather who has cancer. They have struggled daily and my dad is back to working two jobs, 60 hours a week, to make ends meet. At almost 60 years old, he deserves so much more. He still provides for his family (just him and my mom now), and it pains me to see his struggles come full circle.


I don't know how to bless him right now but to pray for his well being, his strength to get through each rough day and to send you a note for this contest. I would love to see my dad earn a gift card, especially in his hard times, but more importantly to be honored for all that he has done throughout my life, and for what he continues to do even during his darkest of days.


Kathleen

Kathleen...He wins! Sounds like you won a long time ago with a wonderful father. We are honored to recognize him and pray that the gift is a blessing. Thanks for sharing your story.
Sharon and Laurie
Thanks to all of you who participated in our dad contest. Sometimes dads get a bad rap. If you've haven't experienced the joy of knowing your father's unconditional acceptance, we pray that you'll find hope in God our Father who knows your every thought. Psalm 139 lets us in on just how much He loves each of us...including you.

Friday, July 23, 2010

More Delightful Dads...


We are celebrating the role that dad plays in the home. Here are some extraordinary stories of dads who went the extra mile. These guys are AMAZING! Thanks again to all who sent Dad Stories! They were wonderful! Here are two more...the grand prize story will be posted next week! Drumroll please...


Sleepless Daddy...
During the 3rd trimester of my second pregnancy I got severe depression. It continued after the birth of the baby. Those were some of the darkest days of my life. A couple years had passed and I wasn't totally convinced that the Lord was done with us having children so we starting praying about it. After praying for two years I became pregnant with my third child. I was so scared. But my husband believed in his heart that this pregnancy would glorify the Lord and he didn't worry about me getting depressed again. So we entered the 3rd trimester and I still felt good. Then our precious Ella was born. That night at the hospital Jeff told me that he was going to sleep in the nursery and bring me Ella to nurse until she was sleeping through the night. He told me that he loved me so much that he would sacrifice his own sleep to know that I was getting a restful nights sleep to fight off any depression. That lasted 3 1/2 months. Jeff is a legend where we live. So many people meet me and they will say is your husband the one that slept in the floor of your babies room? I just laugh and smile "yes". They always ask why and I tell them God told husbands to love your wives as God loved the church. So he is 100% committed to doing that. He is amazing and I thank God for him everyday.
Kelly, Virginia


***************************
And Another Sleepless Daddy...
This past Spring, our 1st grader had a field trip to Roman Nose State Park for a 2 mile hike. Literally over the hills, up the rocks, through the streams.....type of hike!!! My husband had gone with both our older children when they were in 1st grade and he knew how important it was to Hayden for him to go. HOWEVER, he was in very southern Alabama on a contract and doing everything in his power to finish up so he could travel home). After an exhausting day of finishing and loading the equipment to head back, he drove all the way back to Enid, OK virtually NON-STOP & all night and arrived into town 18 hours later just 15 minutes before having to be at the school. He took a VERY quick shower, and headed out with 30 first graders and parents for a "fun-filled" day of hiking in the hot sun, picnic, and playing in the springs. Needless to say, when he got home, he fell into bed clothes and all and slept a LONG time!! But Hayden was such a happy boy, filled with memories of Roman Nose Hiking!!!! What dedication!!!
Kristin, Oklahoma

Okay, moms...now it's our turn to encourage the men in our lives. Rather than comparing your fella to these guys, remember, these men have faults, too. This was just a time when they were particularly wonderful. Ask God to help you see something today in your husband that is worth applauding. It's there and God can help us see those things.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This is Our Life - It Is a Choice

Delightful Dad Series
The house is quiet and dark, all three little ones sleeping as we finally settle in. Suddenly the silence is pierced by a series of beeps from my husband’s bedside. The fire department pager goes off. There is a child with difficulty breathing in town. Without a second thought he is up throwing on the clothes he left next to the bed “just in case” to rush out to help someone else’s little one. In spite of working a 12 hour day and having only a short time to sleep before doing it all again, he eagerly gets up, sacrificing his comfort because someone else whom he has never met needs help.

This is our life. It is a choice. It happens multiple times a day (or night) sometimes, but we wouldn’t have it any other way because that’s who my husband is.

Rebecca Hastings
We are grateful for the sacrifice made by so many everyday. Feel free to post your gratitude comments to all the EMT/Police/Fire/Servicemen and women and their spouses by clicking "comments" below. Thanks for sharing your life with us Rebecca!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Strife

Are you ready for your kids to go back to school? Is the summer fun over? Do you need a vacation by yourself? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be experiencing Summer Strife. It can be defined as "when children bicker and argue over silly, insignificant things that causes their mother to want to pull her hair out!"

If your kids are anything like mine, they can often get on each other's nerves. My daughter came in this morning, fell face down on my bed and stated, "Mom, I can't take her anymore!" (Like we can get rid of her!)

As I was reading this afternoon in Colossians, I came across this scripture and thought what an appropriate verse to memorize for our family.



Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.


Colossians 3:12-14


The reality is that we "can't take" each other at times, but isn't it wonderful to realize that God chooses us all the time, and therefore He will equip us to love each other!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Run-Away

Last week was a little piece of heaven. We ran-away from daily life. Thanks to my travel savvy husband we headed out of town for an inexpensive vacation. The kids were ours, and we were theirs. There was no opportunity to ask, "Can a friend come over?" because there were no friends around (not that we don't like our friends!!) We had no internet in our rooms, so daddy and I (and our bewildered teen) weren't clamoring for time on the web.


We needed it. Our family had been going in running 10 different directions as the school year ended. It was time that we ran away. Sometimes I feel like 9 of those different directions are mine! I say that "we" needed the time away, but I was desperate for it. I had to slow down and just be. And in stopping to enjoy my family, I realized that I like being with them! In fact, I loved it.


I also had a chance to spend quality time with God. I like Him, too. What a blessing to be loved by Him not because I'm so lovable, but because He is loving. (See The Love Dare - Day 8 or 9).


After coming back to the real world, I'm more aware of my family and of my relationship with God...and how precious both are.


Maybe you can't run away from home this summer, but, why not try a day or 2 of vacation at home? It takes some planning, but you can create a haven in the heat of summer to bring your hearts back home. Game night, movie night, a baking day, water sprinklers in the back yard...


My prayer for our time was, "Lord, please help us enjoy the time away as much as we'll enjoy the memories later." He certainly answered that prayer for us. I hope that as you take your moments and run with them this summer, He will do the same for you!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lighten Your Load...an Irresistable Offer


"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28

I've loved this verse for years. It's comforted me when I was tired and exhausted. But, on Sunday, it hit me in a whole new way.


Who in this world wants you to come when you're worn out? Maybe your mom, but nobody else. Your family constantly has you on the go and needs your best. If you work outside the home, you need to be alert and looking good. Friends don't tolerate weariness for long. Even at church we often hide the fatigue and put our best foot forward.


But, God says, come when you're beat or overwhelmed and He will give us rest. He wants us when we feel unloved or unloveable. His arms are open when we feel like a failure. They are open when we don't feel like a failure, too, but He knows that at our wits end, we are honest and vulnerable. It's at that point that we realize we can't do it on our own so we're teachable and ready to accept His strength and help. Why wouldn't we come? We certainly won't find a better offer anywhere else.


He goes on to say, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." We aren't free from burdens and chores, but when the routines of life are run through His hands, they are lighter and easier because we face them with His strength.


I am humbled that my sweet saviour who has already done so much for me wants to do more. He wants me to drag my tired self to Him so He can show me His faithfulness, love and kindness. He wants to do the same for you!


Carrying a lighter load...

Sharon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why I Love God, Part 3 - He Never Gives Up On Me

"It just doesn't seem right that I should be ridiculed for everything I do." I couldn't reply. I didn't want to admit that he was right. But, my husband was Robin Hood splitting the arrow in half. I've been in a rut of criticism. Poor guy couldn't do anything right.

While I finished up the day, I felt as though loads of wet laundry were being thrown on top of me. The load of guilt for how I'd treated my husband, then the load of regret for things I hadn't done with the kids, and yet another - the load of wishing that I had managed our home better. I was sick of me. I dropped into bed feeling kinda hopeless.

This morning, I started the day...praying as I went. I realized how little time I've been spending with the One who makes me a better wife, mom and manager. I spent some time working on verses I'm memorizing with a friend, wrote in my journal about God's gift of a new day; thanked Him for never running out of patience with me and for His endless gift of forgiveness. Turning my eyes to Him began to wash away the guilt, regret and wishes leaving room for my soul to be flooded with the hope He brings in a new day. Just because I was rotten yesterday doesn't mean I have to continue in that pattern. A new tradition can start today. A fresh way of communicating with my family is possible. In Him, there is hope.

Without spending time with Him, I forget that my hope is in Him; not in my husband, my children, my abilities, or my circumstances. He won’t stop loving me (even when I don’t like myself very much.) “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 8:38-39 (NIV) He won't give up on me.

Thank You, Lord, for your unending, unbreakable, unrelenting love for me. Help me purify myself with the truth, so that I can have a sincere love for my family and help me love them deeply from the heart. (I Peter 13:22) As generously as you've loved me, help me love the same.

"Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled, set your hope fully in the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed..." I Peter 1:13

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Making History…Mother’s Day 2010

My daughter just finished a scrapbook project for 7th grade Texas History. It was her personal Texas history…the parents, grandparents, greats and beyond (if they wanted to go further.)


I thought it was a perfect project to make history real to them…to realize that this is what makes history – the things that happen in daily life.


My husband looked at one of the pictures and said, “Where did that little girl go?” She’s 13 now and is only a trace of the little girl who flipped everywhere, didn’t care how she looked, and pressed flowers just because she wanted to, not because she had a wildflower project due in a few days.


The days zip right by. People tell you it will happen. We wrote a song about it knowing it was inevitable. But, realize you have are fewer days left with them at home than you’ve already spent is tough. Ouch! My eyes are stinging…


Everyday, we’re making history. We may not be making the textbooks, but to the people who mean the most in our lives and with the people who matter most, we’re making their personal history books.


As we start a new “Mother’s Day Year,” let’s make the most of the hours we have with those we love.
-When we need to slow down, let’s slow down;
-If we need to discipline, let’s stand up, be the mom, then follow through;
-Maybe it’s letting go of all those things we wanted or expected so that we can embrace where we are.


If we keep waiting for a better time, it probably won’t come. The time is now to invest in our families. With God’s strength we can do what He has called us to do.


Our goal at Mom and Loving It Ministries and in our own personal lives is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength by making the most of every opportunity as we are at home and going along our way, when we go to bed and when we get up.* That’s how we want to make history.


How do You Make History?
1. What are everyday things you do with your family that you hope will make a lasting impression on them?
2. Maybe your kids are grown. What made an impact on your children?

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you precious moms! You’re amazing! You might be thinking, “No I’m not! If you only knew!” My husband told me once (when I was beating myself up for how horrible I had been as a mom that day), “Honey, I wish you could see yourself the way I do.” It helped me understand that I’m sometimes too hard on myself. So, instead of shaking your head at your mess-ups, I hope you can see yourself today the way that we see you - more important, the way that God sees you. He thinks you're remarkable!





Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.”






Sharon



*Mark 12:30, Eph. 5:16, Deut. 6:7

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Discipline is a Good Pain

"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

Discipline is hard. It takes consistency, perseverance, and time! But, I'm taking heart because these verses say that the reward will come later. I may not even see the results right now (which I admit is a little disheartening), but He says they will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.

Discipline is a pain to our kids, but it's a pain to us as parents, too. It gives meaning to the cliche' "No pain, no gain." Our willingness to jump in and train our children is one of the biggest acts of love we can give them. Though they might not like it right now, eventually, they will see that our training and correction came from a heart of love.

If you're in the same world I'm in at the moment, take heart. Discipline isn't pleasant at the moment, but it will provide great rewards in the end. Just as the Lord disciplines those He loves, (Prov. 3:12) we take the time, love and care to discipline those we love with consistency and perseverance.

Lord,
In our training, please protect our words and actions. I pray that the things we do and say will not be twisted by our children, but that you will allow the discipline to penetrate their hearts so that they will understand how much You love them. Give us the energy and courage to discipline consistently. Thank you for never tiring of training us. In Jesus Name...

Sharon
Blessings as you train the next generation!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When I Give Up...He Doesn't: Why I Love Jesus Part 3

PhotobucketI love Jesus because when I’m overwhelmed with my faults, He quietly cheers me toward a better way instead of giving up on me.


It has been one of those weeks (actually several weeks) that I’ve noticed everything I’ve done wrong. Like that pile of tipped hurdles, the failures have been obvious in my mind. Some of my missed hurdles...

* I am so inconsistent! And all the books say that one of the most important things in parenting is to be consistent.
* I regularly pounce on things that don’t really matter, missing the positive and magnifying the negative in my husband and kids.
* When I do correct things that matter, I often attack them which pushes them away instead of gently showing them the way they should go. (“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”Prov. 15:1)
* I trudge through my “mom duties” waiting for a pat on the back rather than cooking, cleaning, and loving with thankfulness. It’s amazing that I even have a family. I want to serve them with a grateful heart.


And today, a not only knocked the hurdle over, but I crashed and burned. I began to understand that I am notorious for trying to cover my mistakes. After a conversation with my daughter about her refusal to accept responsibility for her part of an issue, I soon realized that I was naming my own sin as I pointed out what I thought was monopolized by my daughter.


I want my children to apologize, to speak respectfully when they are confronted, to learn from their mistakes, but I have been so busy covering my tracks that I am quick to lash out with harsh words, often slow to apologize, and slow to accept my responsibility. That’s quite the opposite of James 1:19: “…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” I have much to learn. I can feel hopeless.


Where’s the Hope?
I have a tendency to give up on me, but He keeps quietly pursuing me. The hope in all this for you and me is that at our worst, He is still for us. Jer. 31:3 says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” He hasn’t forced Himself on me, but has rather consistently drawn me closer to Himself by helping me see how much I need Him (i.e. all those hurdles). He is able to love us through the race and grow us to new heights in our relationship with Him and with others.


When I am crippled by my own sin, confession leads the way to healing and growing. I started the apologies this morning for tracks I had tried to cover. Already, as I began to share my struggle and ask forgiveness, I have felt the rockslide of guilt begin to lighten.


If you’re struggling with your own inadequacies, ask God to show you where you are stubbornly wanting your own way; confess those areas; then look to Him who is not only able to help, but wants to help. He is, in fact, at this very moment, quietly cheering you on to a better walk each day.


Something to do with the kids:

1. Talk about some things that are causing you to struggle. Ask your kids what seems difficult things they are facing. Talk about how these verses can help you overcome the hurdles in your life.
Jeremiah 31:3
Colossians 3:17
James 3:17
James 4:8
James 4:10

2. Take one of the verses above and make it "yours."

Running the race...

Sharon

Way to go Brittlea on a great hurdling season!! I loved watching you! - Mom

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Bathroom Break

Hearts at Home...Wow! An amazing weekend with over 4700 moms in the same building! Moms are great at laughing, crying, encouraging, and loving on each other.

One of my favorite experiences from the conference came when I was frustrated with some children I know and love. Did I mention we traveled to the conference with our families? Hmmm...

I went to the restroom to freshen up (and calm down!) since I was supposed to be on stage in just a few minutes. I stood at the mirror calling out to God when in walked Mary Byer, another speaker whose table was next to ours.

I blurted out, "You have got to pray for me!" I proceeded to tell her what was going on and she calmly encouraged me that it was great to see us here with our "normal" kids. She understood my struggle, and encouraged me to stand strong and be the mom.

I walked out of the bathroom with my head held high and truly "freshened up!"

Later, it hit me how great it would be if we could walk into our bathrooms at home and have the counselor find us there in our desperation. The reality is, we do have that opportunity. God gives us friends who can spur us on. And when the friends aren't there, He is always available to pour out wisdom, understanding, and love beyond measure.

The next time you're ready to blow your top, head for the privacy of your bathroom and call a friend, or cry out to Him..."If any of you lacks wisdom, ask God who gives generously to everyone without finding fault." James 1:5

Headed to bed...in Chicago...
Sharon