Saturday, June 27, 2009

summer and "being" vs. "doing"

What a busy week we have had here! Tom, Jake, Gabe and Caleb have been gone all week in Maine, visiting Tom's parents. A little fishing, a little sight seeing~ a lot of memories made for the older boys and their father. I'm so glad that they could go.

We had fun here as well, but I did tell Tom, as we neared the end of the week, that "he did not have my permission for anything to happen to him before he gets home." : )

We did fine, but I do have renewed empathy for single parents~ whew! I'm ready for reinforcements!

On the way back, Tom and the boys were able to pick up our oldest son Nate from Ft. Drum New York and bring him home for a 10 day vacation! We are all so excited to have Nate with us for more than a week. They should arrive home here in a few hours~ I can hardly wait!

Aaaah summer....

Homemade popsickles are a favorite treat around here. The children think that frozen orange juice is so yummy on a hot day!
.... check out Timmy's feet~ he's relaxed and enjoying life with older brother Joshua. I love catching moments like this.

I've got an excellent excerpt from an interview with Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life author and pastor of Saddleback church in California) for you.

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

"People ask me, What is the purpose of life?
And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body-- but not the end of me.
I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one.

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness. This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on..
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:
If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.' But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others..

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her- It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.
Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.
It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before.

I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit.. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity?

Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do.
That's why we're called human beings, not human doings."

"God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do."

I have been thinking a lot lately about living purposefully and fully "in the moment" ~ glorifying the Lord as I walk with Him 24/7.

Being the huge list person that I am, it is so good for me to remember that it is not "about" me checking things off of my list~ it's about glorifying Him in my life.

For me, this means:
  • giving my children my full attention rather than allowing myself to be distracted by less-important things on my "to-do" list
  • choosing to live fully in the moment~ my camera is a wonderful tool for me. It forces me to slow down and gratefully appreciate many blessings that would otherwise be overlooked.
  • journaling (and blogging too!) ~ articulating God's goodness and faithfulness in my life. This makes it more "real" for me.
  • choosing to stop during the day to read God's Word once again, to meditate on His Word or work on scripture memory. I need to be reminded over and over of truth.

Running the race with you,
and learning to live purposefully, in this very moment,

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The power of 15 minutes

A mother's secret weapon... taking control of the small bits of time available each day. I firmly believe that one way to effectively accomplish the many things that the Lord calls us to do as mothers is to harness the "power of 15 minutes."

It is so easy for me to postpone a task, thinking that I don't have the available time to properly accomplish the whole project. In reality, if I will work on larger projects for 15 minute increments throughout the day, I am always pleased at the end of the day at all that was accomplished.

Just think, in 15 minutes you or I can:
  • start a new load of laundry and also sort a dry load
  • wipe down the fronts of the kitchen cabinets
  • spend additional time in God's Word
  • counsel and encourage a child~ one-on-one love
  • write a short note
  • complete some sewing
  • work on my scripture memory~ I need all the review help I can get!
  • mend some clothing
  • dust several rooms
  • make a handmade card to encourage someone
  • clean my bathroom
  • sweep both the front and back porches, with time to spare
  • gather the "ingredients" for a scrapbook page
  • put together a simple scrapbook page
  • water plants on the porches
  • write a blog post!
  • and on and on the list goes....
What about you? Do you have any projects that you have been putting off for another day?

My 15 minutes are up! I'm off to work on planning for our next school year.

Hope you're having a great week! It's hot, hot, hot here in Missouri! 92 today, I believe!

Serving alongside you,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some fun summer "freebies" for you...

Looking for some fun free activities to do with your children this summer?

I love cardmaking and scrapbooking! Sending handmade personal cards is a fabulous way to encourage brothers and sisters in the Lord. Do you not love to receive some "real mail" mixed in with your bills and junk mail? I know that it makes my day to find a such a treasure in my mailbox.

Scrapbooking as well is something that I try to make some time for each week. Documenting God's faithfulness in our family in addition to our children's growing maturity is a way of "telling His faithfulness to the next generation," in my book.

Psa 78:4 We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

Psa 145:4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.

How about some free classes to teach you some new techniques? These would be great for "personal enrichment" (learning new skills to bless your family or others the Lord brings you in contact with), or to work on with your children. I am planning to work my way through these with my girls~ what a fun thing to do together during the summer when we have more time in our schedule.

First up: Jennifer McGuire is teaching a free course on the 2Peas website called "Thinking Inking." She plans to cover all sorts (more than 75!) stamping and inking techniques! It begins today, June 15 and will last 9 weeks with three lessons/week (posted Monday, Wednesday and Friday) including both a video and pdf file for each lesson. What a wealth of great info, for free! Go here to access the class info.

In addition, check out Jessica Sprague's website here for info on her new free photo editing class! Registration opens June 22, closes the 28th and class begins on July 6. In this class Jessica will cover:
  • Brushes
  • Frames
  • Masks
  • Textures
  • Blending modes
  • Filters
  • and more!

So there you have it~ lots of fun things to learn so you can bless your friends and family~ and free too! It doesn't get much better than that!

Serving alongside you,

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It must be summer...

I think summer must truly be here... we went berry picking yesterday!

Here in the midwest, blueberries are just beginning to ripen. They are one of my favorite fruits to pick and preserve. The berries are on tall bushes that are easy to pick, standing or sitting, and once we have brought them home, all we have to do is put the blue beauties in freezer bags and drop in the freezer! They don't even need to be washed first. If you do wash first, you will have a frozen lump of berries in the freezer! You don't want that, now do you? When ready to use, simply scoop out the frozen "marbles" and rinse in a strainer. mmmmm... Did I tell you that these are good?

My hard-working helpers and I picked 66lbs of berries in about an hour and a half! I love having the fruit to pull out of the freezer, but what I really delight in is seeing my children working diligently together and enjoying each other in the process.

This past week has been a challenging one for me. My hard-working husband has been, well, working hard with little time off recently. I have found myself addressing some character issues with the children~ over and over recently. Quite honestly, I can grow weary at times.

What is a discouraged momma to do? I find myself grabbing my Bible, searching for wisdom and encouragement there, not only in my early morning quiet time, but throughout the day. Oh! The Lord is so faithful to meet me there, in my weakness.

So it is good. Good for me to have imperfect children being raised by an imperfect mother. I find myself humbled and drawn to Him in ways that I never would be otherwise. Being a mother to so many has taken me way past what I can do "on my own," and driven me on my knees to Him.

What more can I ask for?

"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." Gal. 6:9

Serving alongside you,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An eloquent rebuttal...

Don't you wish we had more men like Randy Forbes (VA.) in Congress?

He asks the thought-provoking question, "Did America ever consider itself a Judeo-Christian nation?" and then wonders aloud, "If America was once a Judeo-Christian nation, when did it cease to be?"


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sign language for babies and toddlers

Aren't toddlers cute? Except, that is, for those times when they get frustrated by not being able to communicate their needs or desires. Then, oh my.... look out!

Certainly, training our little ones to "first time obedience" is tremendously helpful in producing a home that is peaceful and joyful too. I have found though, that there is an additional key thing you can do to help cut down on the frustration that babies and toddlers experience when they can not communicate their needs. Signing.

Benefits of teaching your baby to sign?
  • gives children the satisfaction of communicating their wants and desires without whining.
  • accelerates verbal language acquisition
  • some studies have shown signing to increase IQ as well! (studies by researchers at the National Institutes of Health)
  • it's great fun to communicate with your baby/toddler this way, so much earlier than they can talk!
Teaching babies to sign does not:
  • slow down their verbal language acquisition
  • confuse or frustrate babies (as long as you make signing fun and a game to them!)
I usually begin to teach the babies to sign from about six months of age and up. They will not begin to sign back until they are 10 months to a year old.

As I have scanned several books pertaining to teaching babies to sign I have been reminded of how little I have actually taught my little guys. There are so many more signs that I could teach!

Here are a few of the key signs that we do teach our little ones:
  • please
  • thank you
  • more
  • eat
  • drink
  • pottie ~Timmy has discovered that this one is especially handy when he wants to leave the church service for a few minutes! ; )
  • diaper
  • car
  • shoes
  • milk

Here's Timmy, who is now two, signing "please." The sign for "please" is really supposed to use only one hand, rubbed in a circle on your chest/tummy, but Timmy's variation (when he really, really wants something) is what we like to refer to as the "two-handed please!"

Here, he is signing "thank you." So sweet.

Want a free online resource for looking up signs in ASL (American Sign Language)? Check this site out for video clips of every sign you can imagine (and then some)!

Super helpful books:

Sign, Sing and Play by Monta Z. Briant

The Everything Baby Sign Language Book by Teresa R. Simpson (this one includes a DVD demonstrating all of the signs that are presented in the book. My older children enjoyed seeing the signs preformed and did a better job of imitating them for Timmy from the DVD than from simply reading the book.

Signing is a relatively small time investment that I have made with my children. I have never regretted it!

Happy signing!