Monday, September 22, 2014

It's Your Lawn

"There are no greener grasses, only different lawns."  Emily P. Freeman in A Million Little Ways

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When we're tempted to think that someone else has an easier life, a more loving husband, better-behaved children, an easier road financially, or a problem-free existence, we need to remember that God has put each of us into the place He has designed for us.  None of us can see from our current vantage point what He is doing in the lives of others - or, many times, even in our own.

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." ~Philippians 2:13

This week may we each be content with where God has placed us and seek ways to bring honor and glory to Him in our own place of service.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Salutes

A Prayer for the Mom with Small Children is the must-read post of the week.

I like Rachel's list of 18 Non-Toy Gifts for Children.

I made this simple Nanny's Snow Ghost Pie for dessert one night last week and it was gone super fast!

Interesting article about limiting your child's screen time in Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent.

Laura tells us How to Decorate:  5 Ways to Personalize Your Home.

Inspirational Quotes -"Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."
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Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Moment in the Life of Parenting a Teenage Girl


You hear so many horror stories about parenting a teenage daughter.

Honestly, I've been scared.  Having worked with elementary-school-aged children for years, I felt fairly comfortable when our girls were going through that stage.  Now that they're 13 and 11, I feel as though I'm entering a whole new territory.

However, I'm here to say that ten months into having a teenager, I'm finding moments to enjoy.

On the way home from school one day last week, my older daughter was telling me about her day.  She described a situation involving a classmate and told me how she had responded.  Then she asked, "Do you think that was the right thing to do?"

Pick jaw up off floorThis is a special moment.  Don't lecture. All of these thoughts flooded my mind as we began our discussion.

This conversation with her really encouraged me.  Yes, I have and will deal with attitude and a messy room and raging emotions.  I know there are challenges ahead that will find me seeking God's wisdom at a whole new level.

But I hope we get the chance to have this same conversation over and over.  I know there will be times when she makes the right decision...and other times when she won't.  But with much prayer and God's grace, my goal is to keep the lines of communication open so that learning and teaching can take place. 

Thank you, Lord, for these moments that remind me how blessed I am to parent a teenage girl.

[I did have my daughter preview this post; I know they can be sensitive about what's said about them in a public forum at this age! :) ]

Do you have a teenage daughter?  What are some of the best moments you've shared with her?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Top Ten Influential Books

As much as I love to read, I was excited when Nikki asked me to compile a list of the ten most influential books I've read.  It was hard to narrow my list down, but here's what I came up with for this fun challenge.

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1.  The Bible.  Where I find wisdom, guidance, and strength, it's the one book that never grows old and that I can continue to learn from each and every day of my life.

2.  Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss.  The struggles of the main character mirror mine; she is so relatable!  In spite of her failings, God molds her into His image as she matures in her walk with Him.

3.  On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Buckman.  With its suggestions for scheduling your baby's hours, this book gave me confidence as a new mom and guided me into a lifestyle that worked well for our family.

4.  The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.  This book opened my eyes to the many ways in which I can pray for my husband and helped me realize the importance of my prayers in my husband's life.

5.  Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey.  Here's where, early in our marriage, my husband and I found the basic financial principles that we try to live by.  I believe these principles have kept us from many money arguments over the years.  There truly is peace in our marriage when we're on the same page with our goals for the money with which God blesses us.

6.  In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  A simple yet eye-opening book about eating real food.  This book was the first one that really inspired me to take better care of my body and my family's bodies by ensuring that - at least most of the time! - we eat real food.

7.  David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.  This book showed me that I could enjoy classical literature!  It contains one of my favorite lines of all time.  As Dickens describes the miscarriage of David and Dora's baby, he writes, "The spirit fluttered for a moment on the threshold of its little prison, and, unconscious of captivity, took wing."  So many plots weave through this story and love is displayed in so many rich and unexpected ways.

8.  The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  A must-read for any parent, homeschooler or not, it's full of guidance for how you can build an excellent education for your children.

9.  Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This actually represents all the series (Betsy-Tacy, the Melendy Family, Trixie Belden) that remind me of growing up and all the happy hours I spent reading at home!  I was so blessed to be read to as a young child, which I believed instilled in me a lifelong love of books.

10.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr., and Eric Carle.  This was a particular favorite of one of my daughters and just one of the childrens' books I memorized by virtue of reading it repeatedly!  The joy of spending so many hours reading to our girls has created memories we'll never forget.

Honorable Mention: 

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare for making me shed more tears over a book as an adult than I may have as a child.

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss.  I was thrilled when, during my senior year of high school, our Speech teacher had us select a children's book to read aloud to the class.  Having worked with children in our church nursery and day care, this was one speech assignment I felt comfortable with - and it earned my best grade of the year in that class.

Heaven by Randy Alcorn made me think more deeply about our eternal home that Jesus is preparing for us and how much more wonderful it will be than we can even think or imagine.

What books have been influential in your life?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Majesty in the Mundane

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."  ~Colossians 3:17

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It's Monday.

That means I'll spend the morning cleaning our master bathroom, catching up on laundry, and getting the house back in order after the weekend.

It's not the stuff of legends, won't make the front page of the newspaper, or even earn me a "Mom of the Year" award.  No one outside of my family will know what I accomplished today.

But I can do these tasks - and any other task ahead of me today - as to the Lord.  I can choose to tackle these mundane chores with a grumbling spirit or a servant's heart.  And when I do them as to the Lord, I'm bringing glory to Him.

Not only should I do all these things in His name, but also give thanks while I do them.  What can I be thankful for in the midst of spraying and scrubbing and switching laundry loads?  A family to serve, clothes to wear, a house to clean, physical strength, and so much more.

Whatever it is we're doing today - taking a child to the doctor's office or grocery shopping or making lunch - let's embrace it as our calling and do it for Him.  After all, we're serving the King.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Addicted to My To-Do List

Just one of the ways I measure my productivity

"'I have a disease,' I think to myself.  'I am addicted to measurable productivity.'" ~Emily P. Freeman in A Million Little Ways
 
Have you ever been reading along in a book when a statement hits you right between the eyes?

That's how I felt when I read the words highlighted above.

That is ME.  At the end of the day, I feel satisfied and fulfilled when I can look back and measure how productive I've been.  However, if most of the items aren't crossed off my to-do list (and there may be more than one list), I feel like I've failed for the day.  I've written about this issue before, but there's clearly still room for improvement.

Now you may have a personality that is not afflicted with this condition. (Unfortunately, I tend to write about what I struggle with - so if you don't have this problem, perhaps you can suggest a different weakness for me to write about in the future!)  Sometimes I look with admiration at people whose personality draws them to other people, those who never meet a stranger, who naturally focus on relationships, not tasks.

My personality type is a firstborn, perfectionist, people-pleaser who is motivated by checking things off a list.  Accomplishment; that's what fuels my day, gives me purpose, and makes me feel successful.  I am addicted to measurable productivity.

There's nothing innately wrong with accomplishing things, but I have to remember to prioritize people and relationships, especially those in my family.   Talking over our day with my husband or helping my daughter with a project or writing an email to a friend takes precedence - and I need to resist the temptation to add those items to my list so I can cross them off!

Many important things don't have a measurable value.  Take prayer, for instance.  Yes, I can see God answer prayer in the here and now; but I may not see the effect of many prayers that I pray until we're in heaven. Neither can I measure the impact of a smile to a stranger or a kind word to a friend or a card of encouragement to a fellow church member. 

It's helpful to set goals, to plan for the future, and do the best that I can to serve my family and my Lord.  I believe God made me the way I am for a purpose and this trait can be used to further His work...if I just don't allow my to-do list to turn into an idol I worship..  Accomplishment for it's own sake can't be what drives me.  I have to allow the Lord to direct my days and learn to yield to whatever He has planned...whether it's on my to-do list or not.

Do you struggle with this like I do?

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Opportunity in the Trial

Elisabeth Elliot said these words: "This hard place in which you perhaps find yourself is the very place in which God is giving you the opportunity to look only to Him, to spend time in prayer, and to learn long-suffering, gentleness, meekness- in short, to learn the depths of love that Christ Himself has poured out on all of us."

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God gives trials to each of us in His will and in His time.  Mine won't look like yours; yours won't look like mine.

I have a sweet friend, only 34 years old, mother to a precious young daughter, who is fighting breast cancer.  God is giving her grace.  Another friend is recovering from a fairly serious car accident, one that wasn't her fault, but has left her with residual pain and a long period of healing.  Others I know face financial difficulties, family separations due to work obligations, a child with ongoing health needs.

I Peter 1:7 tells us "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

These trials that God brings into our lives can, if we allow them, help us see our need of Him, teach us to rely on Him, make us more like Him, and bring Him glory.  It's not natural or easy, but surrendering to His will and trusting His goodness can bring this about in our lives.

As this verse from the old hymn "How Firm a Foundation" reminds us,

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine."

Whatever trial you and I find ourselves facing today, may we realize the depth of His love, access His grace, and draw close to Him through prayer and His Word

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Favorites

Sharing some of my favorite things this Friday!


This book ~ The Nesting Place:  It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith  (I got this for my Kindle when it was on sale for $1.99)

This decorating idea ~ A custom print listing the names of the streets my husband and I have lived on since we've been married.  I'll have to save up my money before I buy one - but at least we've only had four home addresses at this point!

This drink ~ Cocoa Carmella at Biggby Coffee.  Yesterday I met a friend for coffee while my younger daughter was in her homeschool co-op classes.  I'm not a big fan of coffee-flavored drinks, so this cocoa drink was just the treat I wanted.  I was watching my calories yesterday so ordered it hot, but next time I'm going to try it frozen.

This Bible verse ~ I Peter 3:12a, "For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers..."  As I live rightly before the Lord, I can know that He hears my prayers.

This ministry ~ Hope Children's Home in Tampa, FL

This recipe ~ One Dish Mock Chicken Pot Pie.  I made this again for supper this week; it's never failed me and is a family favorite (for three of us, at least!)

This snack - Clif Crunch Granola Bar, Peanut Butter.  I found these on clearance at Publix last week for $1.50 a box!

What's one of your favorite things this Friday?