Faith

We keep our Christmas cards in a basket and the kids pick one out each night for us to pray for that family. Last night, one of the kids picked a card out of the basket and I was surprised to see that it was one of our family cards from 2012. It was fun to look at the beautiful pictures of the kids and see how much everyone has changed. I opened up the card and read, “Wishing you the gift of faith and the blessing of hope.” Who knew it was me that would need more faith and hope in the following years. I was given the gift of both and I am thankful. It has not been easy and I have wanted to give up often, but God had another plan.

img_0449Yesterday morning, hours before opening that card, I had read Isaiah 7:9 that says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” I also read in 1 Timothy 1:4 where it says, “…God’s plan, which operates by faith.” These two verses both have the common factor of faith. Sometimes it is not easy to have faith. Goodness, some might even ask what is faith? Look at Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Faith is necessary for God’s plan and hope.

Can I ask you, where is it or who is it you are placing your hope? What are you standing on if it is not faith? Yesterday I read these words by Paul David Tripp, “Your life will be shaped by what you place your hope in.” This is such a true statement. For years I stood mostly on faith and hope in Christ, but I added other things in there that helped me feel worthy. And just like the Bible says, because my faith was not firm and my hope was misplaced, I began to fall.

Go back to the book of Isaiah and read chapter 42:8. “I am the LORD. That is my name and I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” My sin problem did not go unnoticed by God and I am so thankful. He did not leave me to live any longer in this unbalanced state, with one foot in Christ and one foot in this world, that is so full of idols that promise worth. Freedom was found when my balancing act stopped working and I came to the end of myself. None of my go-to hopes were available and I was left with Jesus. Can I tell you that I have never been more full of love, joy, peace, freedom and faith than I am now. The emptying of self and worthless idols gave room for Him. Praise God!

The verse that follows, God clearly stating that He will not share His glory or praise, gives me tremendous hope. “The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:9). I acknowledge my sin. I repent of placing my hope and faith in all things other than the Lord. I have learned MANY lessons and know the lies the world flashes across our eyes and the whispers we hear in our ears, do not last. And now, I am more than ready to be told of “new events” and maybe you are too.

May the only One who came bring, plant and grow faith and hope remind you today of how much He loves you. And may new events be seen coming from His faithful, powerful hand.

*Picture by Corrimages

 

The Calm Home

Our new year is well underway and I have rediscovered something. Our family functions  so much better in an organized home. We waste less time, stress levels stay low and our home is calmer in general. When we know where to look for what we need and actually find it, a difference is felt. On the flip side, when we are headed out the door and expect our shoes to be in the cubbies and they are not, well stress rises. In our home, anger and frustration are the next emotions. Makes for a terrible start of the day. It does not have to be this way.

img_0324To go back to my childhood, I was raised in a very organized home. Everything had a place and you were expected to put your things back. It was a bit frustrating in my teenage years and college found me rebelling in this area. I piled clothes so high in my desk chair that I am surprised it did not break under the weight! Instead of not remaining diligent in putting things away, I became lazy and lacked self discipline. Looking back I can now see that this lack of self discipline or self control, spilled over in many areas, mainly my eating. Gracious, I put on so much weight! This did terrible things to my self image. Again, this did not have to happen.

I have no desire for my kids to have to experience this needless lifestyle, all because they lack self control. If that is instilled now in a healthy way, I pray they will not go down that road. Our home does not have a perfect feel, but more welcoming. It is not cold when you enter, but inviting. And other than the sheer number of people making noise, my hope is that it is a calm home. Chaos tends to make people feel uncomfortable and so does clutter. I do not desire anyone to experience that when they are a guest here and for that matter, any of us living here to live that way.

With all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, I decided to launch out and do something new. With the kids getting older and my time more free, I am launching a  new business. The name is The Calm Home and I am pretty excited! The plan is for me to go into peoples homes, look at the space that is causing them stress and organize it in a functional and stylish way. The other part is to help clients, who are ready to sell their home, stage it in a way that will appeal to buyers. Taking what comes easy to me and an eye for beauty, I am praying this is an opportunity to serve others.

I know I have said this before, but I get asked often how I am so calm with 7 kids. The answer remains the same, it is a choice. I can either choose to be calm or not. I can choose to have self control and not let my emotions of anger, frustration or whatever it may be, rule in the moment. This is only possible because the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. I want this for other people, especially moms!! So, that is the heart behind this new adventure.

Come check out the website and let me know what you think!

Website: http://www.thecalmhomefw.com

Dear Kids

As you all headed out the door for school this morning, I was left with a too quiet house.  It hit me how much I like you all being home. I do not like to share my family, especially with school. Selfishly, I want to hear your jokes, wipe your tears and answer your questions. I want to watch your face shine with delight when you finally figure out a problem that you have been struggling with. However, at this time, we do not feel like pulling you from public school and homeschooling is what the Lord would have us do. So, off you all went this morning.

img_0541If we brought you home, I would be delighted, but your schools would lose bright lights. You kids shine and stand out because of Jesus. Your schools would be a bit darker because you left and so you stay. And I give up my will for His again this morning. I ask for His kingdom to reign and not mine. I ask for Him to remain as King of my heart and I will stay bowed low at His feet. I will choose again today to trust Him.

As each of you kids are sitting at your desks and I am typing from my desk at home, I will pray this verse over you. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13). Lets be a family today, kids, that is filled to overflowing with hope, peace and trust, only possible by the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us, so that everyone we meet catches a glimpse of our God. You know who you are and why you are here, so shine on kids. Shine on!

I love you,

Mom

PS Cookies will be waiting for you when you get home.

 

No Record

We have a huge sign in our living room with words defining love, taken from 1 Corinthians 13, and I walk by it several times a day. It is a reminder for our family and something I desire for us. We also have big letters displayed that spell GRACE. Another visual for us to see that reminds us of the grace we have been extended and therefore we are to do the same. When I think about all that God sees and knows, yet loves me anyways, I am so thankful. How can I not respond with love and grace to others?

img_0035But can I tell you what the hardest part of 1 Corinthians 13 is for me? The line from verse 5 that says, “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” I do not sit around and think of wrongs committed against me, but at times they come seemingly out of nowhere into my mind. Or maybe it is something spoken that kinda presses on an old scar. Why is that I wonder? I want others to forgive me and extend grace to the wrongs I have committed, but am I holding myself to a lesser standard? I pray not. God has said that He has forgiven my sins by the sacrifice of His Son, so how can I keep a record of others sins? I want to have His heart for others and not one that is filled with their sins against me or someone I love. This does not mean that sin gets swept under the rug, but I do not want it to have a place in my head or heart. God sees and knows. I can trust Him with it all.

As this new year takes off, I want to stop often and read God’s definition of love. I want the words He knew we needed to be planted deep in my heart. I want love to be my first response and not only given at certain times, to a select few. I want grace to share in abundance too. If He could wrap up His Son and give him to us, then maybe this year I can wrap up more love and grace for others too.

With this in mind, I think I found a key that might help us be more loving and grace filled. Jenni Allen posted a quote recently by Andrew Murray and I quickly ordered his book! He wrote, “Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.” Doesn’t this sound incredible? Can I teach this way of humility to my children? For me, before I teach something, I have to first learn it and then practice alongside. I see the only way to live in humility is to live secure in God’s love and continually say no to selfishness.

As Christmas break winds down and the kids head back to school, I find a hit of anxiousness setting in. In our home, things are controlled in a sense. If hurtful words are spoken, action is taken. If untruth is heard, we replace it with truth. If there are questions, we find answers. The list goes on. However, as the kids are away for so much of the day, I am a bit out of the loop. I have to trust the One who created them each and everyday. They belong to Him. My job is to love them and to shape their hearts, as He has instructed. In this, I pray their foundations are being built to live outside of our home. I want them to live loved, secure, full of grace, to appreciate beauty, to run from sin and to be humble. I want the same for you and for me.

So, I will start tomorrow in my “secret place” with the doors shut and meet with my Heavenly Father. I will read His words of love, grace and humility and I will pray. It will be a waste of time if I get up and live the same. And for the places that my heart struggles and my mind remembers wrongs, I will choose humility instead. The verse that I will keep close will be, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:18-19). I do not know what the new thing will be, but I trust the One who loves me. And as we prayed in church this morning, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10-11).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speak Words of Love

I reread a quote by Bob Goff in a forward he wrote for his wife’s book.  “Kind words from the people we love have the power to help us all understand who we are and what we want our lives to mean.” I found this so encouraging because I do love words, especially ones with shaping power. The problem is sometimes my words do not ring with love or help at all. They spill out in criticism and do nothing but tear down. Other times, I hear words that do the same. Sometimes I am so shocked by a conversation that I stay up long into the night reliving it. The result of this recently caused a fire to consume me and I determined to go another way for our family.

IMG_0138So, whose words do you listen to? Whose words do you allow the power to shape who you are? The words I listen to most come from the ones I love the most. God speaks to me each morning from His Word and I replay our conversations throughout the day. The Bible is shaping me, making me more into His likeness by changing my heart each day. I have a very long way to go, but I am closer today than I was yesterday. My husband and kids speak lots of words too and we laugh a lot. When we hear words that are not loving, do not build up or are untrue, we question the speaker. Sometimes the person speaking needs to go spend sometime alone and think about what is in their heart that is pouring out of their mouths. At times this is me. I come back and apologize and ask for forgiveness. When you see how you hurt people with your words by looking into their eyes, no amount of stubborn pride is worth leaving that look there. Do what you must to make things right now.

Sometimes words spoken sound like such bull. I want to shout, “I’m not buying it!” so loudly and one day I just might! Other times I want the speaker to keep talking and I soak them up like the sun. This happened recently when we got to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in years. We met for dinner and I wished we had more hours in person together. This friend is one who loves Jesus with her whole heart, loves her family well and is trustworthy. We all need people like this in our lives. We can learn a lot from them. If you are running low on these kind of friends, pray and ask the Lord.

In the book of Ephesians, we read how we are to speak the truth in love. This is key. I listen when words are spoken in love. I close up when they are not. Also, it seems to not speak the truth is not loving at all. Why parents shrink back from truth baffles me. What are we so afraid of? Do we really think our kids need us to be their friend or do they need us to be their parent? I am siding with the parent role, friendship is there, but it is not the main part of our relationship. I have not seen this turn out well.

When we deny our kids truth, we deny them love in my opinion. To not share with them God’s plans, direction, promises, rules, love, who He created them to be and salvation, we lead them straight into the open arms of the world. Why are we so surprised when they have no purpose, believe whatever their professors tell them or get into trouble? Yes, their decisions are theirs to make and so are the consequences, but we could do so much more to lessen these if we would speak truth from the minute they are entrusted to us. This is what makes my heart race and a honest to goodness fire burn inside of me. This is what I want to shout from our roof to all that will hear.

Tell them, “Pay careful attention to how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15). I want to raise kids who are wise, don’t you? Real wisdom is very easy to find, just open your Bible and it is right there in all 66 books. When they start to head down an unwise path, redirect them back to the path of the wise. We recently had to do this with one of our kids who started listening to some pretty bad music. The reason was that “everyone” listened to this kinda of stuff. We looked up lyrics to one of the popular songs and had this child read them out loud. The message of this song was discussed and then truth was put beside it. Just telling a child not to listen to certain stuff does not seem to work. Talk about it and see what God has to say about the matter. Do not make excuses for sin. That seems to be the most unloving thing we can do. It is as if we are saying, “Go ahead, head down that road straight to heartbreak and ruin.”

Tell them, “Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…” (Isaiah 43:4). Tell them , “…everyone who bears my name and is created for my glory. I have formed them; indeed, I have made them.” (Isaiah 43:7). Tell them, “Guard you heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (Proverbs 3:22). Tell them, “For a man’s ways are before the LORD’S eyes, and he considers all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21). Tell them, “For He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles  5:13). Even when we do not understand He is still good and His love remains. God sees it all, nothing is hidden from Him. Are they treating others with the knowledge that they too are precious, honored and loved by God who created them for His glory? Are we telling them this before they head out on a date?

There is so much to say here, but dinner needs to be made. We will sit around our table and talk about truth and in doing so we will be loving our kids the best way we know how. I can think of no better way to bring in the new year.

 

Tangles

Some mornings ago, the youngest took a bath and asked me to help wash her hair. She is learning to do this on her own, but still needs my help sometimes. She must have been washing more on her own lately because her hair was a tangled mess! We ended up sitting on the bathroom floor together and I used every detangler, leave-in conditioner and product I could find to try and remove the tangles. As easy as I combed, it still hurt and a few tears were shed. However, after awhile the tangles were gone and my sweet girl climbed into my lap and gave me a big hug and kiss.

IMG_0614Because I look for moments to teach or where I am taught truth, this seemed perfect. The tangles reminded me of when we try to live life on our own, using our own strength and simply living for ourselves, we end up with a life tangled in sin. It may appear unintentional and not that big of a deal, but I believe it is. And what if we allow our kids to be shaped with this mindset? How will they survive as adults? Will they repeat this same cycle in raising their own children?

When I look in God’s Word, He tells us what He expects and how we are to live. He tells us how we are to teach our kids. Why do we look elsewhere and take “wisdom” from the world? Look with me in the book of Jeremiah. “For I strongly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of the land of Egypt until today, warning them time and time again, ‘Obey me’. Yet they would not obey or pay attention; each one followed the stubbornness of his evil heart.” (11:7-8). We have been instructed. We have been warned time and time again, yet we still disobey. We still bow and worship other gods, mainly self. We make excuses for our kids and say “it is just a phase” or “everybody goes through this”. For me, I am not buying into this way of thinking or passing this on to my children. I am going another way.

“Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the LORD your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life…” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). This is the way I am choosing. It is a choice, make no mistake. I want life and life for my children, don’t you? A life lived apart from the LORD our God, is not life. The world tells you otherwise and it is up to you to decide who you will listen too.

“…The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). With your heart and mind filled with the love of our God, there is no room for what does not belong. This is what I am teaching my kids that I have been entrusted with.

Might I also add, “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).  With the Spirit of God living inside of us, it is possible to have “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22). This is what I want my children to see lived out. This is the standard we hold up knowing it is possible. The one that sticks out right now is self-control. What if we started teaching our kids to ask the Holy Spirit, living inside them if they are saved, to help them have self-control? Then maybe they won’t have a long list of sin regrets when they get older. I believe with all my heart that this is possible. For those of us that are a bit older, can you honestly say that you are glad you made self serving choices to sin?

If you are like me, the list of sin choices sometimes comes flying through my mind and breaks my heart. Looking back my life seems like a tangled mess. I am so thankful for the grace that God showed me and how He allows me to come to Him. I come with my sins, which are many, and sit with Him. I sit and let His Word untangle the mess I have made. I repent and turn from my sin. He gently untangles it all and I hear words of comfort when it hurts and my tears run down my cheeks. Then the sweetest thing happens. I can turn back into my Father’s loving arms and feel like I have come home and know that I am truly loved. This is what I want for my kids too. May they always know where home is found, in the loving arms of God.

*I took this picture minutes after untangling Vivian’s hair. She fell fast asleep.

Missing

For the past couple of weeks, grief seems to role in unexpected. If I were given a warning, that would be helpful. Then again, joy does the same thing. I guess it is just part of having a heart. What has hit the hardest lately is loss. It seems that especially this time of year, I really miss my mom. She enjoyed every single drop of Christmas. She decorated  each room and it was beautiful. She used lots of bright colors and lots of trees. We went to a Christmas party on Tuesday night and the host’s home reminded me so much of how my mom decorated. It made me smile and made me feel at home again. I’ve really missed that. My mom had a gift of being able to pick out incredible presents. We would talk a ridiculous amount of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas about gifts for the kids. She knew them well and saw lots of things they would like. She needed help deciding what they would like best. I miss that.

IMG_0610We also would stock up on Yankee Mistletoe candles and she would always have one burning. I would have one lit at our house and she would have one a thousand miles away going too. I miss that smell. I think I will pick one up tomorrow. She would make the same treats each year and have plenty when we would arrive. I have bought the ingredients and plan on making them with my kids this week. Some traditions bring a smile now instead of pain and I want to pass them on to my kids. The girls enjoy baking and we all will enjoy having extra sugar in the house.

My mom would be the first person I would call when life got hard and no amount of sugar could fix it. I remember when I was single and really low on funds. I called crying one day and she sent my Easter basket early with lots of plastic eggs, each egg was stuffed with cash.  I am not saying that parents should always bail their kids out. But to be shown grace with no strings attached, means a lot and I will never forget her kindness. I miss that.

She was also the first person to call with any medical question. Anytime one of the kids was sick, I called mom and then their doctor. I miss that. For the past two Christmases I wish I could have called my mom when miscarriages began. She would have been sad with us and offered comfort. She would have been heartbroken too because she loved babies. She was the one that would come stay a week with us, each time the kids were born. I think I missed the first week of the kids lives because my mom was always holding them. She would have realized how great our loss was because she knew the gift of children. When you know how precious a child is and all that each one brings, a loss is extremely painful. I missed her a lot during those times.

But even in the missing and the tears that have come, I have found God to be very near and faithful. Just this morning at church we sang songs with words that caused more tears. “Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy, from the ashes a new life is born, Jesus is calling.” Where else can we go with our sorrows and have them exchanged for joy? Only Jesus works this way, I have found no other. We then sang how He is the king of our heart and that He is good. How could I have sang these words, even with eyes overflowing with tears yet smiling, if it were not so? “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18. I am able to sing because my God has been very close and is healing my crushed spirit. Sometimes I feel more healed than others and that seems to be okay with Him. He will do the same for you too if you will allow Him.

When I was reading my Bible this morning, I was greatly encouraged. “I lift my eyes to the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2. As our family heads to North Carolina and is surrounded by beautiful mountains this Christmas, I will continually lift my eyes and remember where my help in all things comes from. I will be reminded that my mom now gets to see our Creator face to face and so do my precious babies. I see only His creation, but they actually see Him! Now that dries my tears real quick and brings incredible joy!

Friend, if this season has your heart hurting, know I am praying for you. Know you can take your tears straight to Jesus in prayer and let them flow. He has caught each one of my tears and I look forward to the day that He will wipe them all away for good. I have a different kind of heart now because of loss, but I find it to be much more tender, humble and loving than my old one. It was quite a painful exchange, but He has worked it for good and I pray my heart brings Him much glory. He is King of my heart and He is good. As I type these last words, my little girl is calling for me saying she needs me. Yes, He is good.

Merry Christmas!

*The lines from the songs mentioned were taken from “O Come to the Alter” and “King of My Heart”.

*The picture is of my mom and Maggie:)

The Circle

My mornings start early and are routine. I wake up, get my coffee and settle in my chair for a long stay in God’s word. This is what fills me up to pour out during my day. I have tried only taking a few minutes and reading a quick devotional. That resulted in little to give and me relying on my own strength. I found myself with some patience, some kindness, easy judgement, selfishness, pride and insecurity. Sounds delightful, huh?Simply put, I need Jesus to remind me of who He is and therefore who I am. My family and those I encounter during the day count on it. I need the daily reminder of the Holy Spirit living inside of me that gives me power, love, wisdom and strength for the day. I can look back over the years and know that it was the Holy Spirit alive and active in me that carried me through some unbearable heartaches. I am so thankful.

IMG_0523Back to the morning times. Today started the same and it is always exciting to see what the Lord will reveal. I started in Nehemiah and immediately read, “So I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in. Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned. Come, let’s rebuild Jerusalem’s wall…” (2:17). This book always gets me thinking about families today. Everywhere you look, ruins can be seen. Divorce, affairs, the redefining of marriage, kids in foster care, child abuse, abortion, abandonment and the list could go on and on. All of this can of course be traced back to the selfishness of sin, ultimately worshipping oneself over God. We are in trouble.

I then turned to 1 John 4 and began to read. (Once you start spending time with your Bible open, it is amazing how He directs you. Try it.) I read these words, “There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love.” (4:18). When something isn’t complete, like a circle, there is an opening, a gap. If a wall goes around a city and a gate is missing, anything can come in. All that enters may not be good. How can we be complete and our “gates” closed? Love would be the answer. It does away with fear and punishment. Are you afraid? Then read the next verse, “We love because He first loved us.” (4:19). You see, He loved you first. Let that take some pressure off. You do not have to fear if He will love you. However, if you do not accept this gift of love, then by all means, you need to be fearful. What is waiting for you is not anything you can imagine. I love you too much not to warn you.

“The whole world is under the sway of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19). When Adam and Eve chose to sin, an opening in a sense was created and the evil one has been highly active ever since. There isn’t a person alive that has not been the victim of his sway. Because of the internet and social media, this is extremely evident. Evil has waltzed in and claimed so many victims. Broken people are everywhere and are trying to repair themselves in anyway possible. Sin is on display and all are invited to join in. The entrance is wide open and appears to be getting wider by the minute. Walk on in if you wish, but what satan will neglect to tell you is you will be trapped for all eternity if you have not accepted the gift of salvation, the gift of love.

“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. The one who has the Son has life. The one who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12) Remain dead in your sin or come to life, it is up to you. “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved…” (Joel 2:32). The greatest act of love ever, was God sending His only Son to die on a cross to pay the price for the sin of the world. We have all heard John 3:16, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” However, you need to keep reading. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.” (John 3:17-18).

I recently listened to a teaching and heard the question being asked if we believe if Jesus died for me, not just the whole world, but for me. Do you? It will make all the difference in your life, your family and eternity. Everything is not always easy, but you are never alone and can trust the One who loves you more than you can ever imagine.

It is your choice. We are in a state of ruin and there is only one answer. There is only one Savior who can close the gate and make us complete. You can say yes to the greatest love of your life today! Simply believe in the God who created you and gave you the freedom to chose life or death. You are free to remain dead in your sin or alive in Christ. Love and peace or fear. Confess that you are caught in the sway of the devil and sin reins in your life. Ask the God who loves you to forgive you. Now open your Bible and read the best love story ever written. He loves you so much! Your Heavenly Father is longing to have you home. You are safe in His arms.

*I took this picture today of Viv and Damon watching the football game.

 

Vivian

And now it is Vivian’s turn to be celebrated! She turned 5 this week and I find it unbelievable that we are here already. Time has passed quickly and she has grown up. There isn’t much she cannot do by herself and she even helps the older kids. She is very much into all things girly, but can hold her own in a sword fight. It is very rare for her to leave home without lipgloss and I love it. She is very vocal on not liking to be rushed and expects me to plan my time better so this will not be the case. It has actually helped me manage my time more efficiently.

IMG_0450She lived out a lesson this week and I will share it with you. While I was applying my own lipgloss and more, she wanted to watch a cute cartoon called “Fancy Nancy”. I see lots of similarities between the two. After it was over, she brought me 3 options for her to wear. Each was more suited for a ball than Walmart. I thought this, but then just as quickly wondered why it mattered. The days of dress up are fleeting, so I think they need to be enjoyed now. She wore her fancy dress and literally twirled her way through most of Walmart, receiving numerous compliments. I do not think the thought has ever crossed her mind that this is not normal.

What occurred to me was that she put fancy images before her eyes for 30 minutes and then reflected this in her appearance and behavior. We might be way older than 5 years old, but do we not do the same? We spend our time on pure truth in God’s word or we get our “truth” from say the news. Does this have a direct impact on our thoughts, words and actions? You bet it does. It is my conviction, as a parent, to guard what goes before my kids eyes and in their ears. It has a direct impact on their hearts, minds and actions. In fact, Proverbs 62:8 says, “…he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live.” One of my main jobs as a parent is to teach my kids God’s word and His commandments. This takes time, being present and knowing the word for myself. However, they know and are shown that they are loved by us and by God, so that makes learning, trusting and obeying a bit easier.

This is just one example from the life of Vivian. She is brave, kind and often shy. She laughs easy and has an incredible vocabulary. She has a temper that flares and a heart that loves to serve. She gives hugs and kisses in abundance. She is independent and determined. She has style and grace. Her ballet moves are quite impressive and she can run extremely fast. She is being molded into who God designed her to be and it is beautiful.

Vivian, I love you and am amazed by you!

Paxton

Another child was celebrated this past week and it was so much fun! We give the kids a few options in how they want their birthdays to go and Paxton chose my favorite. We take them out all by themselves. They pick the restaurant and stores to spend their money. To just have one on one time is rare in our family, so that makes it special. They have our undivided attention and this kid took full advantage. He really is a lot of fun.

IMG_0307So much could be written about Paxton. The things he says and does are remarkable. When he disobeys, it actually is a bit shocking. His heart just seems to be bent towards obedience and others. He is the kid that forgave a bully, multiple times and then wanted to include him. He is the kid who wanted to take his brothers place when he was going to be punished. He is the kid that holds the door for ladies. He is the kid who does not hesitate to stand in front of a crowd and pray. His heart will be burdened for someone and will not stop praying until an answer comes.

His favorite stories in the Bible are when David fought Goliath and the end stories in Revelation. He is pretty excited about a new Heaven and a new Earth. It is in these choices that I see even more of his heart. I see him a bit like David, “of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22). It is when this started coming to light, that I started searching for books on how people who lived mighty lives for God were raised. Specifically, I looked mainly at Billy Graham. His mother played a huge role in shaping the obedient and available person he became.

You just never know who sits around your table. Any parent might be the one raising the next President of the United States. Another, the one who leads a nation to repentance. Maybe even one who does incredible military exploits, that saves the masses from destruction. Who knows? I have no idea what this child will become, but I trust the One who created him. It is my job to raise him to teach him this. It is my conviction that he needs to be pointed to truth. He needs to read and hear scripture that backs this up. He needs to know, “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him for Him.” (Colossians 1:16). Also, read in Isaiah 43:7 “…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” That is who we are and the reason we were made. And I will spend all my days showing, telling and teaching him that is who he is – made by God for His glory.

Happy Birthday Paxton! I love you so much!

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11