Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for the purpose God has for each of our lives. He orchestrates events to fulfill His purpose globally and eternally. But He is also intimately personal and has a plan for each one of us today and this week. He has placed you and me in this place, at this time, with these people for a purpose. Placed...not forgotten and you wound up here by chance.

It is more than cleaning a house.
It is more than changing diapers.
It is more than refereeing between siblings.
It is more than laundry.
It is more than guiding a teenager through the mine field of growing up.

It is reaching the heart of a child.
It is walking with other women and encouraging one another.
It is knowing God, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He sent. (John 17:3)

Here are some other Scriptures for encouragement today.
Jeremiah 29:11-14a
"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 hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity...."
Philippians 3:10 Amp
For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Set Free

Every day his mom and dad would badger him about his homework. He didn't make bad grades, but they didn't trust him to get the work done on his own. Finally, in tenth grade he bluntly told them, "If you will leave me alone, I'll make better grades." His parents agreed to give it a try and watched as their son signed up for advanced courses and proceeded to maintain good grades.

As moms, we often feel like that tied-down teenager, only we're tied down by our own expectations. A grandma told me that when her kids were little, she had in her mind what her life should be like. So she stayed up until three o'clock in the morning sewing the costumes, baking cookies, cleaning, and catching up on laundry.

After several years at this pace, she had a nervous breakdown. She said that she missed so much of her children's growing up because she was trying to be the perfect mom. She was more concerned about "doing" than "being." (She said she has learned her lesson and spends as much time as she can with her grandchildren.)

One mom told me, "As hard as you thought it would be to be a mom, it's that much harder. You wish it could be only as hard as what you thought it would be!" Maybe we had those unrealistic ideas before we had kids, but now that they are here, it's okay to let go of some of the expectations we have of ourselves and how we thought life would be.

Galatians 5:1 says, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Like the teenager given the freedom to do what he could do with out the "slavery" his parents had hung around his neck, Jesus can do the same for us. He can take the burdens and expectations that hang around our necks, weighing us down, and give us instead the freedom to be what He made us to be.

Focus your eyes on that freedom. Ask God to open your heart and mind to really accept His freedom from all you've expected of yourself. He will strengthen you, enabling you to not just do your best, but also do your best while He holds you up and cheers you on.

Have you been bogged down about your "home work"? Then cut yourself some slack. Our load as moms is heavy enough as it is. Don't add more than you need to carry. Identify the expectations that are enslaving you. Then give them to the Lord and see what He can do. Instead of being paralyzed by guilt, you'll come alive as the mom God intended you to be. He has set you free, so live that way!

Lord, You know us better than we know ourselves. Sometimes we don't even know what expectations we have of ourselves. We just know that we are running around frustrated and overwhelmed with too much to do. Show us as we go through our daily life what things we can let go of, what things don't really matter and are not ours to control. Help us, Lord, to stop badgering ourselves about all that we "should" be doing; help us to slow down so we can enjoy our families and just "be" with them. Thankful to be free, I pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

Think about your day today. What could you let go of to make your day more about what God wants to do than about what you expect of yourself?

From Sharon and Laurie's book Hold You, Mommy

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fun Monday

(Shelly) Techy babe...It was laundry day and my three-year-old daughter was pretending to be the gate into the laundry room. I asked, “May I come in please?”

She replied, “Press the ‘Are you sure?’ button!” (You know how your computer always asks Are you sure before you delete or quit something?) Do we live in a computer age or what?!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thankful Thursday

(Shelly) This Thankful Thursday I am thankful for God's Word. Two years ago a popular Bible teacher challenged her blog readers to memorize 24 Scriptures in 12 months. I took that challenge not very confident that I would be able to finish it. I had not really memorized Scripture since I was little and proudly put a blue star by my name in Sunday School! After those 12 months I decided this was a habit, a discipline, that I not only needed, but wanted in my life. I can see how His Word has been alive and active in me, changing the way I think, and influencing how I interact with others. This woman-wife-mom-sister-daughter-friend needed that.

How has God's Word changed your life?

What are you thankful for this Thursday?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Did you buy the lie too?

As little girls, teens, young women, and now moms, we have been fed the lie that it's normal to have a perfect house, perfect husband, perfect figure, perfect children, perfect career, i.e., a perfect life. Many of those messages were passed on to us through the various avenues of the media. In her book Choices, Mary Farrar uncovers the myths society has fed us. A stunned college-age girl, after hearing Farrar speak about the deceptive expectations we have developed about life, told Mary:
"You said, 'No one can have it all.' You said the idea that 'you can have it all' is a lie. I've been told all my life that I can have it all. I've lived my whole life on that philosophy. Everything I've done, every decision I've made has been to that end. And I've worked so hard--just to make it happen!"

Mary concluded, "A good lie wraps itself around just enough truth to draw its listeners in."* A lot of good lies are wrapped around media messages. We have been drawn in, moms. It's up to us to accept the truth: We cannot have it all. If you find yourself striving to have it all, trying to live up to what the media says is "normal," you're probably miserable, sorely disappointed, and completely discontented with the life God has given you. A thankful heart is rarely a discontented one. If you focus on what you don't have rather than the blessings that are yours, you will be unhappy. But if you make yourself dwell on what you are thankful for, you will find contentment.

Philippians 4:8 gives us courage to go against the grain of society and be intentional about what we allow into our minds. Rather than filling our minds with what the world offers, Paul says, "You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracous--the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly....God who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies" (Philippians 4:8-9 The Message).

You have given us incredible minds, minds that rememer what we see, so help us to watch the good stuff and not the bad. Help us to think before we thoughtlessly spend time or money on things that won't satisfy in the long run. Help us to evaluate what the media offers and to see it for what it is. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

from Sharon and Laurie's book Mom...and Loving It! available at our website click here.
* Mary Farrar, Choices (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1994), 74, 76.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Fun Monday

OK all you football fans out there. (Maybe you're not a football fan necessarily, but you are married to one.) Today's funny story is about one of the playoff teams. My two boys like to play Daddy's football game on the Wii. My youngest (age 3) said, "I want to be the tookers." He said that for days and I did not have a clue what he was talking about. I asked him if it was the kicker, the tackler...I was really at a loss of what he wanted. We finally figured it out! When they were picking teams, he pointed to the team he wanted...the "tookers." It was the Steelers! I finally got it--the stealers took something, so they are the tookers!

posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful doctors, medical staff, and the wisdom God has given them. And I'm thankful that when we face scary days, we can have hope in the Great Physician!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Fresh Start

"I've had to adopt my kids two times," she said with a smile. I looked at this mom a little confused, trying to think how she adopted them twice and why. As if to answer my questions she said, "I thought about how God has adopted us with our past and He starts working on things right where we are. He doesn't expect us to be perfect, but He takes us as we are. He doesn't give up on us."

She continued, "I realized that I was worrying about what I hadn't done raising my kids and was feeling horrible about it. So I called a family meeting, and I told them how I was going to follow God's lead--take them under my wing again at this stage of life and begin the parenting process afresh. I explained, 'If I adopted you today at your current ages, I would get you with all of your past--the good and the bad. I would do my best, starting now on the day of adoption. So starting now, I adopt you again, and these are the things I want to do differently from this point on.' This seemed to be the perfect solution to getting past my feelings of failure about the job I had been doing with them up to that point."

It's easy to fall into habits that eventually become a part of your family. Maybe the kids constantly interrupt your conversation or you've heard yourself speaking in ways that the children aren't allowed to speak. Maybe you are doing all the work without any help from your family, or you're all eating out constantly, running from here to there. Whatever your scenario, there are traps that all of us fall into, and sometimes we need a fresh start.

Instead of yelling and complaining, try restarting your family. That mom was letting her kids know that she was still glad to be their mom and hadn't given up on them. She was saying to them, "If I had to choose today, I'd still choose you."

Do you need to start over with your family? Do you feel like you could give up on them? (If so, don't worry--you're normal!) Maybe you need to get away by yourself or with your husband to think clearly about the trends in your family. When you get back, call a family meeting to introduce the new rules and new freedoms or to ask forgiveness for past mistakes. Then adopt them. Start over, with all of the past in the past. Today is a new day!

Lord, You were gracious beyond measure to adopt us into Your family. You didn't ask us to clean up our act and then come to You, but You have taken us as we are. Thank You for giving us second, third, and fourth chances....Help us do the same with our children. Show us things that we are allowing (or aren't allowing) in our home that we should change. Help us know when we should be more careful and when we should lighten up. Help us accept our kids just as they are. Refocus our minds. Restart us, Lord. We pray this in Jesus' Name as Your grateful adopted kids. Amen.

from Laurie and Sharon's book Hold You, Mommy

Monday, January 10, 2011

Fun Monday

(Shelly) It was Mother’s Day. Not just any Mother’s Day—the day we were having my daughter's Baby Dedication at church! So my parents came down, and all the Lastnames were coming over to our house for lunch. I was trying to get as much prepared the night before as I could, so lunch for that big crowd would come together quick and smooth. My 3 year-old son and Papa were chopping pecans for me to put in a salad. They finished the amount I needed, and my son asked, “Mom, can I chop up some chips?” “Sure. Why not,” I replied. I could see it in their eyes, he and Papa had an experiment going! Being the scientist that he is, Papa kept track of all that went into their concoction. My son thought it was pretty cool the way those four Sour Cream ‘n’ Onion potato chips ground up in the nut chopper. Then they added 6 pecans. They poured that mixture into one of the kid-sized Tuperware mixing bowls I used to play with and added lemonade until it was just the right consistency—150 ml according to Papa! Now you and I both know that is not a mouth watering combination, but to this almost 4-year-old it sounded like the most delicious treat that he wanted to share with everyone! The whole time they were mixing and adding a little more lemonade to make it just right, he kept talking about how he wanted Uncle Rod and his older cousin especially to taste it. And it was going to be great! Then the taste testing moment arrived. Papa poured some of the chunky juice into a small cup, and I got the camera ready for the reaction. My son was oblivious to our grins that were just waiting to laugh out loud as he took a sip.

You could tell he wanted to sell it and say it was yummy!

But then reality hit all those taste buds and the optimistic expression on his face changed to…”This is YUCK!”

He didn't even want it on his fingers! He is ten now, and I still crack up when I see these pictures!
Anyone have a fun story you want to share with us? You can email it to Shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org. We can all use a smile!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family Movie Night

Family Movie Night is back! Moms4FamilyTV have done a great job providing movies like The Jensen Project, Secrets of the Mountain, and A Walk in my Shoes that we can feel safe watching with the whole family. The latest production is A Change of Plans airing Saturday, January 8th at 8/7c on FOX. So get your popcorn and the hot chocolate ready and enjoy this family movie together!

:30 Change of Plans from on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today, I'm thankful for monkey hugs! Some families have butterfly kisses, but we have monkey hugs. (It is our version of a bear hug.) My youngest son loves to jump from his bed to my arms and wrap his arms and legs around me. He is a little monkey because I don't even have to hold on to him and he will stay on! And if my husband and other two kids are around, it might turn into a group hug! It will not be long and he will be to big for me to do that, so I'll enjoy it while I can! What are you thankful for this Thursday?

posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year...Refocus

The baking is done. The gifts have been given. The decorations are down…well, maybe not quite. Another holiday season and another year are behind us. I hope you have had the opportunity to stop, take a deep breath, and remember God’s faithfulness through 2010. Now it is 2011—a new year with new opportunities, challenges, and goals. It is important to set goals even as moms, not necessarily in a business setting. You know the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Solomon said it like this, “Where there is no vision, the people perish [run wild]” (Proverbs 29:18). So I’m curious, this first week of January, what are you aiming for this year spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically—for you personally and for your family? It might be something specific or maybe one word that you want to be a theme through all areas of your life. These are questions that I asked Sharon and Laurie on this topic. Here is some of our conversation.

How has setting goals helped your success as a mom?
Sharon: If I plan the week or even the day before, I usually have a better day/week. Last night I started to plan my tomorrow, but first stopped and wrote what I was thankful for today. That really helps me put things in perspective. That is something I want to do with my kids this year as they go to bed…let them review their day and remember what they are thankful for.

Laurie: I am not naturally an organized person, so it goes against my grain to plan. However, with four kids it is necessary. Our weeks seem to go more smoothly if we can get together on Sunday night and compare calendars and discuss weekly activities, schoolwork, chores, etc.

Have you noticed your goals shifting as your children get older?
Sharon: As far as discipline, I used to focus on behavior more. Now I think I’m focusing on the big picture – how will this affect them in the future…what does this behavior reveal about their heart?

Laurie: Because I don't have babies that awaken me all through the night (I just have teenagers that keep me up all night!), I can have early morning quiet times. I desire to get up and spend my first minutes of my day with Him! I am more of a night owl so this is a challenge for me; even so, I have found that my day runs much more smoothly when I fix my eyes on Jesus first thing!

Psalm 143:8
Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul. (NIV)

Most of us have goals to be healthier this year in one form or another. Do you have any advice in this area? How do you find time to exercise and eat healthy?
Sharon: We have used e-mealz…it has made it easier to have meals at home, which is always healthier. I play outside with the kids as much as possible for exercise. Basketball is great for some exercise…wish there were some tennis courts close!

Laurie: E-mealz has made my life easier in 2010 and I am ready to get back on track in 2011 that. It saves us time and money! As far as physical fitness, I am going to begin working-out with some girlfriends three times per week. We meet at 6 a.m. This is the only way I can be consistent. If I try to workout any other time, other things get in the way. I feel better physically and emotionally when I am exercising. (Wondering about E-mealz? Here is a link.)

What is one of your goals this year?
Sharon: My main goal this year is to be more like Jesus. I think if I focus on Him, everything else will be much more likely to fall into place. The Scripture passage God is putting in front of me to focus on this year is Colossians 3, especially verse 12.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (NIV)

With His help, I can clothe myself with all those great attributes. If I don’t, it’s like I’m running around naked! I also want to set a priority on my family. That means I’m going to have to let go of some things.

Laurie: I desire in this New Year, instead of fretting about the chaos in my life, enjoy every minute of it. Embrace right where God has me! I also desire to put my husband’s needs a little higher on my radar. It is so easy to be consumed with children and their activities, that I can ignore my husband at times. That saddens me. I want to think of him more often!

Father, You are the author of our stories. You are so faithful to walk each day with us. Thank You for loving each of us so personally. Thank You for the responsibility You have given each of us to be the mom in our families. It is a really big job and what we do now impacts future generations, so we ask you for wisdom and a vision to guide our families in the right direction. You are the One who sees the end from the beginning, and we ask that You direct our steps today and this year in such a way that next January we will look back and see Jesus all over 2011! We love You, and hope that we will honor You in what we do and say. In Jesus Name we pray…Amen.

Psalm 86:11
You crown the year with Your good blessings, and You leave abundance in Your wake. (The NET Bible)

We would love to hear from you. What are your goals for the New Year? Do you have a one word theme or a focus verse for the year?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fun Monday

Do you have pets? Our dog, Sadie, did a great job of cleaning up after us. I could be in the kitchen and say "oops" as I dropped something, and she would come running in to see what morsel waited for her! (She was so well trained!) One day my son (age 2) was enjoying a snack in the living room, and I heard him calling, “Sadie! Sadie!”
“Honey, Sadie is outside. What is it?”
“Mom, I guess I’m going to need a napkin then.”

Gotta love pets and kids! If you have a funny story you would like to share, send it to shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org. Happy Fun Monday!

posted by Shelly, Mom and Loving It Ministry assistant

Saturday, January 1, 2011

This Old House...

Memories are Made by Living Today

We yanked everything salvageable out of the house until darkness banned us. The next day, a dinosaur looking machine came in and tore down a house in 3 hours that had taken years to grow us up. It was our grandparents’ home. In disrepair, it needed to come down so another home could be built - a fresh start for new memories to be made.

Tears were a common sight on the faces of the people there. No one wondered why. The tears weren’t from regret, but because things could never be as they once were. We were remembering the smell of granddad after he had worked in the field, Sunday lunches with potato salad, granny’s pear preserves and toast from her toaster oven, sitting at the bar in their kitchen having countless conversations – some life-changing. Happy times, sad days, loving words and of course some angry exchanges. We were sad that parts of our lives were over…our childhoods, even part of our children’s childhood. It marked for our family that time is passing.

I looked up just now to see that my 10-year-old daughter has written with dry-erase on a mirror in our bedroom, “I love u dad and I love u mom.” Here I was trying to hold back the tears from the past when right in front of me I have the joys of today. It made me smile. It’s easy to look back and miss what was. But, noticing where I am and enjoying it is a bigger challenge for me.

This year, I’m asking God – the one who never changes - to help me slow down and enjoy the people and minutes in my house – the things happening now. I love the scene from the Incredibles (love that movie!) between Bob and Helen:

Bob: “Reliving the glory days is better than acting like they never happened!”
Helen: “Yes, Bob, they happened, but our family - this is what’s happening now and you’re missing it.”

Someday we’ll look back and miss “this”…the days going on right now. So while it’s “right now,” grab it, embrace it. Let’s cry later because we miss the way things were not because we regret that we missed it.

Laurie and I with our families pray that you experience the life God intended for you this year and that you get a glimpse everyday of how much He loves you. We hope you’ll take time to get to know Him better this year. Think of it as sitting around the kitchen bar with Jesus…greater understanding comes from sitting with Him, decisions are made easier, and lots love can pass there…and His house will stand forever.

The song "These Days" on our CD has this as it's theme. You can enjoy it here on iTunes today!

Happy New Year!
Co-Author of Mom and Loving It, and Hold You, Mommy