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Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Be still." If I had a nickel for each time I told my four children those two words I'd be typing this from my beachfront home in Maui.

 Funny how these are the very words God tells us, his own kids in Psalm 46:10.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

 When our son, David, was a toddler we thought we’d just about lose our minds. Trying to get him to fall asleep at night almost drove us mad. We had two more children after him - this is more miraculous than you know.

I dreaded each evening when I would put him to bed. And just like each evening before he would do anything but sleep. I tried story time, bath time, keeping sugar out of his reach and anything else that might help get him ready to  sleep. Our bright idea? Drive him to sleep. Yep, desperation won out. 

We would drive him around until he nodded off. Paul would load him up in his red feety pajamas and off they’d go. Sometimes hours would go by before I’d see the headlights flash  through my kitchen window announcing their return.

Chevron has us to thank for such a prosperous 2006. 

I’d run to open the front door as my sweet husband held an exhausted little boy limp from slumber and slung over his daddy’s shoulder. No matter how many nights this father and son car ride occurred Paul always shared the incredulous antics afterward of a little boy who would  stay busy doing anything to prolong bedtime.

“Joanne, he is incredible! David will touch buttons on his car seat, flick the window and even kick the passenger seat in front of him until finally I have to lean it forward out of his reach. Once I remove anything and everything that might distract him he finally nods off. I can’t believe this kid.”

I think a lot of us adults have the same problem. Our lives are so busy we’re overstimulated and distracted. We don’t know how to be still. It doesn't feel natural. We're in captivity of our activity and have no clue how to slow down. A gradual slow down method never worked for me. No matter what I cut out of my day before long I was busier than ever.  Radical change is what helps me most. Stopping cold turkey whatever is keeping me running.

So, what do you think about letting a few things go this year? Consider scratching a few have-to’s off your calendar and learn how to be still again.  Ready for a little radical living? Here’s a few suggestions for a memorable new year.
  • Remove anything from your calendar that your husband has complained about over and over again. Why don’t you listen to him this time? Let it go!
  • Stop driving everywhere. How many hours are you spending in your car? How about setting a mileage limit for the week? The price of gas alone is enough to help curb your second job as a domestic cab driver.
  • Quiet time—it’s not just for kids anymore. Give yourself a gift. How about some tranquil time each day? Turn off the TV. Turn off your phone. Make yourself a cup of tea and meditate on a scripture or just sit in silence. Why not give God the chance to talk to you today?
Learning to be still might take a little time.  I lost the ability to be still somewhere along the road of marriage and family living.  When Jesus calms the storm in the Gospel of Mark He says, “Peace, be still.” I want more peace in my life and being still is how I can get some more of it back. I refuse to make another resolution about cutting carbs and walking on my treadmill this year. Before I tackle my outside appearance I need to make sure my spiritual house is in order first.

When we are still we will feel His presence. We will know He is God. In the hustle and bustle of our much-too-connected-world we drown out stillness. Tranquil moments are saved for annual vacations or put off and rarely experienced anymore. It's not how it should be.

Be still and know He is God. A New Year’s challenge I look forward to tackling this year.

What about you? When was the last time you experienced a still moment?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stumble, Hinder or Launch?

On a crisp fall afternoon, a nurse softly placed my very first pink squirming life into my arms and God pushed the start-button for motherhood.
Fast-forward twenty years and my tiny bundle is driving back to college after a weekend road trip with her girlfriends. Independent, strong-willed, determined to succeed in a world I tried desperately to prepare her for, she sprints toward a future she’s only dreamed about.
Today’s rainy weather put me in a reminiscent mood, wondering what part her father and I played in hurling her out of the nest. Memories flashed. And, before I knew it, I’d placed them all in one of three categories; stumble, hinder or launch.
“Mom, what do you think about this dress?” Standing in the dressing room and twirling for dramatic effect, my teenager waited for my answer.
I love it. She looks so beautiful. “I think it’s the one.” I smile.
“What about Dad? Do you think he will like it?” The low neckline had her concerned.
“I think it will be fine. Let me talk with your Father.” I winked, now concerned myself.

STUMBLE; moments in time where I tripped my daughter up—teaching her a wife can manipulate her husband—showing her it’s okay to openly side with a child over her husband.


“I will do that for you.”

“I’ve got it.”

“I’ll pay for it.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

“I have it covered.”

“I can.”

“I will.”

“I want to help.”

How often had I done the very thing my child should have been leaning on God for? Over the years, I had stolen too many faith-building opportunities from the Lord to count. How much stronger would her faith be today if she had been given less from me and more of a reason to seek her Heavenly Father for the desires of her heart?

Hinder; moments where I intercepted, delayed, or even blocked the Holy Spirit from using a difficult situation to be the One to come through for her.  


“Mom, I want to come home.” Her voice cracked on the phone. After only two days in college, she was ready to trade her dorm room for chores and younger siblings.

“Honey, I really don’t think coming home is a good idea. You can do this.” I encouraged her to stick it out, even though every mommy-fiber in my body screamed for my baby chick to return to the nest and make our home whole again.

Launch; moments where we fling, thrust and hurl our child into their very own unknown—to dig in, move forward and press on.

            I regret those moments where I’ve stumbled and hindered but give a shout of thanks to a God who forgives and makes new. I am humbled by this parenting journey and pray I continue to evolve into a mother who uses each opportunity to launch my child into His plans for their life.

·         What about you? Have you stumbled, hindered, or launched your child today?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Child of God

When our children are leaving us to spend time with friends or family, after reminding them to behave, we whisper to them, "Remember who you are and Whose you are."

When you give your heart and life to God, you are on of his children. With that comes not only a new life but an abundance of promises He has made to each one of us.

We are His beloved.

He has given us promises of divine favor; mercy, grace, joy, love, forgiveness...the list is long and cannot be exhausted no matter what situation we face.

As parents, we need to remember who we are and Whose we are. Although, we do suffer through trials, and hardships, no matter what comes our way, we're still His.

We can't encourage our children to know their identity in Christ if we struggle ourselves. For this reason, I remind myself often:
I am a child of God, the thought out creation of the One true and living God. Blue blood runs through my veins.

I am the daughter of a King.

"But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to be called children of God." John 1:12

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

5 Fun Family Devotions

I was a spiritual late-bloomer. As a new Christian, I already had two school-aged children at home. I had much to learn.

Do you know what helped me most? It was when I watched women from my church interact with their own family. These godly gals inspired me by their gentle ways with their husbands and children. No matter who I spent time with, I discovered something I wanted to emulate. Picking up tiny treasures from each one, my parenting skills were sharpened.

It was Lara who inspired me most about family devotions. Lara was our worship pastor’s wife. Always striving to raise her children to know and love the Lord, I made sure to pay close attention to her. One of the things I noticed as I got to know her better, she made a point to have her daily devotion with the Lord in the morning and made sure to do the same with her children.

This was a foreign concept for me.

Each morning, before she sent her children off to school, she would gather them around their kitchen table. Sometimes she would read a story to them from the Bible, other times the children took turns reading a verse, some days she shared with her children what God had been showing her.

She began their day with the Word and a simple prayer before she launched them out into the world. She was doing more than packing their bag lunches and stuffing their backpacks with last night's homework. She was taking each one and arming them for battle.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13 NKJV

For those of you just starting out like I was, I’ve included five fun ways to share family devotion time together.

Teach them as you walk along the way. When I walk the kids to school, I’ll ask them who their favorite character is in the Bible. Other times, I’ll ask them to share their favorite Bible verse and ask why they love it. It’s a way to live out Deuteronomy 6:6-8; These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when lie down and wake up. When you sit at home and when you walk along the way.

Stuffed animal devotions. Telling the story of Jonah and the whale to your little ones is more fun if stuffed animals help you tell the tale. Noah’s Ark is another favorite when you use the animal toys in your child’s bedroom. It makes the story come alive!

•Holiday Devotions. At Christmas time, we have a set of twelve paper devotional ornaments I use for the 12 days before Christmas. Each ornament has a different scripture and shares a different part of the story about the birth of Jesus. If you can’t find these, enlist the help of your children and create your own!

•Let your children lead. When my kids learned to read, I would let them take turns reading the Bible verse or the story of the day. Now, with teenagers under our roof, they lead our family devotion on the weekends. It has been a blessing for my husband and I to sit back and watch them grow in their knowledge and understanding.

•A Proverb a day helps keep teen foolishness at bay. My husband and my seventeen year old son go over a proverb together each morning. Before our son, David, leaves for school he’s encouraged by his earthly father and his Heavenly Father.

Remember, your family is unique. What works well for one household may not work well for another. Keep at it and don’t lose your patience. With two of our children now grown, our daily devotions are memories they will take with them into their own family. As a mother, there is no greater legacy than being a part of teaching my children God’s word along the way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teachable Moments with Kids

“Mom, can I go on Netflix and watch a movie when you’re gone?” Samuel called me on my cell phone to ask. Just shy of eleven years old, our youngest is pretty responsible.

“No, son, wait until I get home. I’ll put a movie on for you.”

I was heading out to take Grace, our thirteen year old to youth group and could see her sigh and shrug in frustration at my response to her little brother. When I got off the phone, I asked her, “What? Why did you sigh like that?”

“Because, Mom, why can’t he just put on a movie? I don’t understand you sometimes. Samuel isn’t going to put on anything he’s not supposed to watch.”

“Honey, I trust Samuel.”

“Then why didn’t you let him go on Netflix?”

“Grace, you kids are my responsibility. I take this job seriously. You know, honey, there’s a scripture that comes to mind, ‘The enemy prowls around like a lion, to and fro, looking for someone to devour.’ Gracie, think about it, a lion is going to look for the defenseless first. Your brother is home alone. I am not going to leave him defenseless. Your dad and I have gone on Netflx before and seen pictures and things that aren’t always God-honoring. Why would I want your little brother to see some of those things?”

Once we got to church, Grace went off to meet her youth group leaders and practice for worship, while I went off to meet with my women’s Bible study. About fifteen minutes later, I could hear my daughter singing.

Being a proud mama, I just had to walk towards the sanctuary and listen. Not wanting to embarrass her, I stood behind a door in the hallway, my eyes closed, listening to her melody. I thanked God for her desire to sing and prayed the words she sung would go deep into her heart. The band stopped mid-song and started talking.

My daughter began to share in her junior high way, “Guys, listen to this, my mom won’t even let me or my brother go on Netflix unless she’s home with us. Can you believe it? She even started spouting scripture to me." She used her best mom voice, "‘The enemy is like a lion, searching to and fro who he can devour.’”

As she talked about me, I stepped from behind the door and stood there, smiling.

The kids in the band saw me first and said in unison, “Busted.”

Grace looked shocked. Nervously she laughed and ran off the stage, across the sanctuary floor and threw her arms around me, laughing while she said, “Mom! Were you there the whole time?”

“I sure was.” I smiled down at her, not returning her hug. “And, I have to admit, I’m really impressed…”

“Mom, I’m sorry!” She continued to giggle nervously.

“I am proud of you.”

“Proud of me?” She squeaked.

“You did a great job of reciting scripture to your friends.” I hugged her, kissed her on the forehead and left.

As a mom, I don’t enjoy making tough decisions, especially when my kids don't understand. My children are only home with me for a little while, so I try to make the most of opportunities like this one. Still, I’m always a little surprised to discover they listen.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour. 1Peter 5:8

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A New Year Idea with your Kids!

There are a few things I love to do this time of year; make goals with my husband, begin a prayer journal, and talk to my children about the upcoming year.

Nestled only blocks away from our home is a wonderful coffee shop. It's the town hang-out and the place the kids ride their bikes for an ice cream cone and where Paul and I read the newspaper and share a fattening cinnamon roll from time to time.

A great place to treat my little ones to some one on one time. I enjoy taking time with each of my kids and buying them a hot cocoa or a decaffeinated mocha and discussing their thoughts for the new year. It's important our children understand that goals and dreams take hard work and lots of planning.

Why not take your toddler, tween or teen out for some time alone with you? Whether you're reading your littlest one a book, or talking to your junior in high schooler about college choices, the new year gives a good excuse for starting off on the right foot - together!

What new year traditions does your family have?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kids & Chores - No Reason to be tired.

Is your house a mess? Would you be mortified if a friend stopped by without calling first? Are your children at an age where they can go to the potty by themselves? Then, there’s no reason your little darlings can’t help you around the house.

Martha Stewart would not be impressed with my shower, nor would she praise me for my windows, but my home is in good enough shape for company. I learned early on that with four children, I had four other helpers to get work done around the house. My children call it slave labor, I call it a benevolent dictatorship.

When friends complain their house is a mess, yet have teenagers at home, I just don’t understand it. When a girlfriend complains about all she has to do, but has capable help at home, I want to scream. Children may not be able to clean a dish like you can, but remember, if they are capable of understanding their Xbox and iPhone, they’re capable of maneuvering a vacuum.

Ok, so this might sting a little bit, but there are a few of you out there who are exhausted. Not only that, you’re tired AND have messy houses. Your kids roll out of bed and make their breakfast, get dressed, and head off to school. When they get home, they do their homework, watch TV, participate in a sport or two, eat dinner, then head to bed and start all over again in the morning.

Meanwhile, you're still tired and your house is still a mess. So, here are a few tips and tools to help you get some of your sanity back and mold your children into responsible, capable, independent adults.

  • Create a chore chart. If you’re the analytical, linear type, this is right up your alley. After twenty years of parenting, I’ve tried the weekly chore list, the monthly chore list etc. We now give a child a responsibility for a year or two. Seriously. I was sick of the fighting and the complaining if one child wasn’t home to do the dishes. So, once Meghan moved out, David had dishes for a few years. When he moved on to mowing the lawn and daily garbage, Grace took over at the sink.

  • Daily Responsibilities. Every morning our kids make their beds, clear out the dishwasher, dump the garbage, put breakfast dishes in the sink. If you’ve never asked your little ones to play a part in this type of housework, you’re in for a challenge. Hold tight and hang on, stand your ground. As they come to understand they are a part of a family, a team, they will learn to accept their new responsibilities.

  • Make it fun. Daily housecleaning doesn’t have to be drudgery. Put on a song and tell the kids they have until it’s over to finish one of their chores. Reward them each week with a trip to dollar scoop night at Baskin Robbins, or Starbucks for a dollar kiddie-cocoa. I found these adorable chore cards over at iMom that you can download and use.

Remember, it’s never too late to start giving your kids chores. You’re not their social director, you’re their mom. As much as I want their childhood to be one fun-filled, joyous memory, I have to remind myself that doing chores and learning to handle responsibilities are some of the sweetest memories I have now as an adult. Who doesn’t love laughing with their adult siblings about housework and who did what?

Don’t steal this badge of honor from your kids. They may cry and complain now, but you’re giving them something to laugh about later.

Train a child up in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 kjv

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Do You Laugh With Your Kids?

Samuel, my ten-year-old, came into the kitchen and held out his hand. "Look mom, I'm double-jointed!" He went on to make motions and wave his fingers around my face in comical ways. 

I tried hard to keep a straight face, while visions of Spock and Captain Kirk danced in my head.

"So, what exactly does that mean, son?"

"It means that no one can ever break my fingers." He said in all seriousness. "Someone would have to smash my hand to really hurt me."

After he left the kitchen, I busted a gut.

Now, there's a difference between laughing at your kids and laughing with them. But, in order to laugh with them you must begin to see the humor in every day moments.

I come from a family of hopeless comedians, and thankfully, I'm married to quite a funny guy as well. Laughter is heard in our home every day. I know it's not very funny to say we're funny...but we're funny.

What about your home? Do you laugh with your children? Do your children hear you laughing with your husband?

Here's a few ways to bring laughter into your home, no matter what your comedic skill.

  • Watch a movie together. Our family loves to rent a DVD and laugh out loud. Some of our favorites? Finding Nemo. Summer Rental. Scrooged. Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The Princess Bride.
  • Watch home videos. At least once a year I'll bring out some home movies. The kids think it's hysterical watching each other when they were small.
  • Get a joke book. The library is full of funny books and joke books for any age. Some of the funniest are the ones written for children. When Samuel brought home 101 Jokes and shared a few with us. The punch lines were so pathetically bad we couldn't help but crack up.
  • It's okay to look silly every once in awhile. Make faces, dance around the kitchen, talk in a funny voice when you read a bedtime story to your little ones.
Children bring incredible joy into our lives. It's a fair trade off when we can bring a little laughter into theirs.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them." Psalm 126:2 esv   

Thursday, June 30, 2011

5- Fifteen Minute Summer Sabbaticals...with your kids!

"I'm bored!" Two words that can cause the most even-tempered parent to lose their cool.

My husband usually responds this way, "You're bored because you're boring!"

He's such a cool drink on a hot summer's day. The truth is, with children being plugged in, turned on and tuned out, coming up with things to do that strike their fancy can often times be a struggle.

Here are five-fifteen minute sabbaticals you can take with your kids this summer.

  • Have a picnic lunch in the backyard. Slow-paced summer days don't have to be boring. Slap together a PB&J and throw out a blanket and whalla! Lay out on the grass and practice a few minutes of cloud gazing together.
  • Read a book. Turn off the TV. Put down the iPod. Back away from the XBOX. Slip a hardbound book in your child's hands and encourage them to read a chapter aloud to YOU.
  • Take a walk. We live in a neighborhood filled with children, yet, if you were to walk around our block you'd never know it. Kids are inside being entertained by electronic devices all day long. Get some Vitamin D and bring your children out into the light for a fifteen minute stroll.
  • Write a letter to an elderly relative. Letter-writing is a lost art. Email has become the bully on the block, but nothing will bring more joy to your grandma, great-aunt Melba, or cousin Jimmy, than a handwritten letter from your child.
  • Hand your child a broom. Nothing cures the summer blues faster than chores around the house. I am always amazed at how fast their creative juices begin to flow when we give them something to do that includes PineSol, Windex, and some good ol' elbow grease!