Devotional, Uncategorized

Waiting on God- A Short Devotional

Waiting on God
Waiting on God

Waiting on God’s Timing

I wanted to share this devotional specifically for the one who is waiting for children. This is actually my testimony and honestly one of my prized possessions because it’s my proof of God’s unfailing love for me. Whether you are husbands or wives, waiting on children is especially difficult. We were in that same season of waiting for twelve years.

Let me preface this by saying what I’m about to tell you doesn’t mean you’ll definitely have children. The lesson I want to share with you that took me twelve years to learn is that God’s plan is good. Whatever it is.

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Devotional

Think on These Things- A Short Devotional

Think On These Things
Think On These Things

Here’s a really good verse to nosh on for a bit…it’s Philippians 4:8 and it says this:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

This verse is so important, especially in our sinful world today. Think of what you watched on TV, what you listened to in the car, what you heard in conversation. How about what you saw online or heard on the news. What did you read on Facebook?

Were those things any of the following?

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Devotional

Fear & Anxiety- A Short Devotional

Fear and Anxiety
Fear and Anxiety

Fear.

Y’all, fear is paralyzing. Fear can sneak up around you, whisper into your ear, invade your body and leave you frozen in your tracks.

When my husband and I were first married, our house was broken into. It was an odd break-in, too. Obviously meant to scare us. I say that because very few things were stolen but great care was taken in laying out our hunting shotguns and sprinkling the buck shot all over our bed.

No idea who did it. No idea why.

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Children, Christmas, Family

We Got To Spread Cheer Across the World!

operation christmas childWe were so excited, this year we got to spread cheer across the world! Well, to one little boy between the ages of 5 and 9. We participated in an awesome program called Operation Christmas Child, which is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse.

I had brought home an excitingly colorful shoebox and the kids were curious as to what this was. After all, who doesn’t like a bright red box with little cartoon children on the side and a decorated airplane on top, right?!

Once we cleared up the fact that this was not a gift to our children (maybe a teeny bit of disappointment for the kiddos) and started to tell them who this special box was for, they couldn’t wait to go shopping for their new little friend they most likely would never meet.

What a wonderful experience this was! We chose a boy between ages 5 and 9. After all, we know a little bit about boys in that ages group. And off to the store we went. Now, sometimes it can be a little difficult for young children to understand that the toys are for someone else. I’m not going to lie, there may have been a few tears shed because the shopping excursion did not yield a special present for our kids. But this is all part of the experience!

It was a great opportunity to remind our kids how the recipient of this box lived. What he had for toys, a home and what his life was generally like. We showed our kids a video of the kids receiving and opening their Christmas boxes and it was electric to watch the joy and happiness on the faces of the children who received a gift.

operation christmas childSo we thought about what we could get for this little boy. What kind of things he would enjoy and how we could get as much stuff into that box as possible! Fun things, silly things, crayons. A notebook for drawing, lots of Match Box cars, a stuffed animal and a cool football! Oh, and some cozy socks!

We got home and laid out all the gifts onto the kitchen table. “How are we gonna get all of that stuff into this little box?!” But you know what? It all fit! Perfectly!

We said a little prayer over this box and sealed it up, complete with a special sticker on the front that connects us to the box. That way, we can track the box and see where it goes! 

So once our box was ready, Daddy and the kids took it to the drop-off location. What a fantastic operation that was, too! Who knew so many loving and caring people were involved in such a great world-wide operation!

operation christmas child

At the drop-off, we got to see the entire process from when we first get the box to after we drop it off. It was so neat to see where all the box goes before its final destination into the hands of an excited little boy on the other side of the world!

We also got to see all the volunteers who locally coordinate receiving filled boxes. They prepped them for packaging and delivery to the place where more volunteers will then load them for international shipment. These boxes will be delivered to more than 200 countries around the world and ours will be one of them!

The only down-side to this is that our kids don’t get to see the little boy’s face when he opens his gift. But we can only pray that he enjoys these special items picked out just for him. And that along with those gifts, his little heart and mind are open to the message of the Gospel that’s coming with it. 

What a fun project this was, and it was kind of a last-minute idea, too. I just happened to walk by a stack of empty boxes and picked one up, but I assure you that this is a new family tradition that we will enjoy doing to begin the  Christmas season!

operation christmas child

Children, Family, Uncategorized

She Takes Her Job Very Seriously

takes her job seriouslyRecently, girl child got to be a flower girl in a family wedding. Not only would she be a flower girl, but this would be her first ever wedding! She was asked about six months ago by the bride and it’s been a frequent topic of conversation in our household ever since! This is a very important job and she has had every intention of taking her job very seriously. 

As the big day grew closer and closer, our conversations became more frequent and detailed. We talked about what her dress would look like, how she would gently toss flower petals as she walked down the aisle before the bride. How she would stand at the front with the best view in the house. We talked about how the bride would kiss the groom at the end and we giggled with glee at the thought of it! 

takes her job seriouslyCountless drawings appeared all over the house of child-drawn brides and grooms, brides kissing grooms, flower girls, bouquets, wedding cakes, etc. The big day even made it onto a hand-made calendar hung on the refrigerator door so that no one would forget!

And when girl child’s flower girl dress arrived, she could hardly contain her excitement. Being a flower girl suddenly became real! It wasn’t just something people said. She was actually going to BE a flower girl. My stars!!

Finally, oh finally the big day arrived. And suddenly…it hit her. 

As we were curling girl child’s hair into little ringlets, she began to breathe heavily and start to cry and complain of a stomach ache. I feared she was sick and wondered how I would nurse her back to health enough to make it down the aisle when she tearfully said, “I’m not nervous!” And this told me she was very nervous, which is unusual for her.

So we stopped everything. 

I sat her down on the toilet (seat cover) and told her to breathe like me…slowly in….slowly out. Slowly in…slowly out. I wiped her little tears and we talked quietly about how wonderful today is. And how good a job girl child did in rehearsal the evening before. We talked about the people who would be watching and how those same people saw her yesterday.  Then we talked about how it’s the bride who should be really nervous…and that girl child is leading the way for the bride to walk down the isle to marry her love. 

Then we remembered how they would kiss at the end! And how giggly that would make us (her)! It was after this little conversation that girl child whispered, “You know, Momma, I really did feel nervous and scared but I feel good now.”

takes her job seriouslyWe clamored into the car and drove to the wedding venue at which point I told girl child that her job for today had begun. She was to be helpful in all things where she could and then she would be the best flower girl in the whole world! Girl child did her job well. She was a helper. And she was friendly to all. She introduced herself to any guest she didn’t recognize and also talking with those she did know. 

She mingled, she helped, she delivered messages between the bride and groom. Whatever was asked of her, she happily obliged, bless her. This responsibility was so important to her and my buttons were bursting as I watched her be the flower girl as best as she could. 

When the time came, she got into line and waited until it was her turn to walk down the aisle. She made sure her little basket was ready. Her bouquet tucked into the side of the wicker of her basket and all her little loose flower petals ready to mark the path for the bride.

One deep breath and away she went…delicately walking, lightly dropping flower petals. Smiling. Thinking. Stepping. Dropping petals. That’s a lot to remember all at once. But it kept that fast-thinking brain occupied enough that it kept the worrying at bay. She did it. And she did her job well. 

At the end, I asked her what she thought of the day. She said, “Momma, I’m tired…but it sure was beautiful!”

It surely was!

takes her job seriously

Children, Family

Toothless is My Name

toothlessShow of hands of everyone who loves the tooth-pulling stage of childhood. No one? Yeah, me either. I’m a giant weenie about wiggly teeth. I want no part of the dangling, wiggly, baby tooth holding on for dear life. Yet somehow, I managed to have children who love loose teeth! Of our three kids, two are in the “tooth falling out” stage and those suckers fell out like popcorn! I had kids walking around essentially toothless! [Note: this post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to buy a product using the link, the cost to you doesn’t increase but your purchase helps us fund this blog so we thank you!]

So recently we found ourselves once again with a freshly lost tooth. Boy child has just pulled out his last (for awhile) baby tooth. Tooth-pulling in our family is a big event. There is not the slightest bit of apprehension…only growing excitement as the tooth becomes more and more loose. Because that means a visit from the Tooth Fairy!!

Upon losing his tooth, boy child put it in the special cup and put the cup at his spot at the kitchen table (our designated landing strip for the Tooth Fairy). Now, let me say that when the kids first started losing teeth, I went all out. Matching envelope and personalized note card from a uniquely named Tooth Fairy…what in tarnation was I thinking?? Yes, let’s add work to a task I’m half likely to forget to accomplish as it is. So…over time, the Tooth Fairy has become less personal but at least she pays out consistently. The kids don’t seem to mind.

Except with boy child, we keep forgetting to make sure the Tooth Fairy visits! I don’t know what the mental block is…we set a reminder on our phones to remember to exchange the tooth for money but dang it if we don’t forget and that poor boy comes downstairs to find his tooth right where he left it. 

Crap.

toothlessOf course, we immediately spot the “problem” with the Tooth Fairy. “Buddy, you didn’t put the cup at the table!” or as with the most recent excuse for being horrible parents, “you forgot to write the Tooth Fairy a letter!” I know, we are horrible for putting our failure on his lack of being able to follow very explicit and apparently unbendable rules of how to submit a tooth to the Tooth Fairy. 

But he doesn’t seem upset by his blunders and willingly accepts that his mistake caused her delay. I think girl child is on to us but she doesn’t say anything. She’s not dumb…she knows being quiet keeps the money coming.

So last night, boy child wrote out his letter. He drew a special dragon (pretty good, if you ask me!), drew a “picher” of himself and drew a box for his Tooth Fairy to put his/ her name. He placed his tooth properly on top of the letter and set it at his place at the table in just the right spot. Everything looked perfect. There’s no way she won’t leave him money now! So off to bed he goes. 

I kid you not, we nearly forgot to exchange that stinkin’ tooth!! But, thankfully, we remembered at the last minute. I feel like we’ve created a non-personal Tooth Fairy experience for boy child after we went through so much with girl child’s Tooth Fairy. We had even given her a special fairy name, beautiful stationary and subsequent visit glitter to mark where she had trod during the night. So, since this was boy child’s last tooth for a while and he has developed a recent love for all things dragon (from the movie, How to Train Your Dragon…awesome movie, by the way!), I made a special note from his viking Tooth fairy- Bicuspid the Great (since he asked for his Tooth Fairy’s name). And not just any letter…one that was uniquely special since boy child appreciates these kind of surprises:

toothless

For those who do not read backwards (a truly unique skill I am fluent in from a very young age!), it says, “I have the proof that you lost a tooth! Brush everyday and you’ll be on your way. To no longer be TOOTHLESS!” 

He loved it! 

 

Children, Family, travel

Off the Beaten Path

off the beaten pathSometimes you need to get off the beaten path. Get away from the noise and the commotion, the electronics and the hustle of life. This is a concept we always try to instill in our kids, though they don’t always appreciate the simplicity of it.

We love the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. It’s our home away from home. We know all the secrets, the best waterfall spots, the hikes and the stories from long ago. It’s truly amazing how quiet the parkway can be. The sounds of nature, of the birds and the animals scurrying about their business.

The silence is loud up there. And it’s a beautiful sound.

Our kids don’t so much appreciate this just yet, but we still encourage them to stop and listen. To smell the air and feel the cold breezes on their faces. And to see the blue that gave the mountains their name. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to see the clouds tuck the mountains in like a blanket, with only the mountain peaks sticking out above.

off the beaten pathWe stop for hikes and no one is too little to participate. The hikes leave the familiarity of the parking area and quickly meander around rocks and exposed tree roots. This is where the kids begin to enjoy their visit with the parkway. We see tiny salamanders peeking out of the wet moss along the waterway at Mabry Mill, peregrine falcons guarding their nests around Devil’s Courthouse, a black bear jogging across the parkway, as if to say, “don’t mind me…just passing through!”. Or we find a rushing water cascade at Wilson’s Creek that runs under the parkway and feel clean, cold mountain water.

off the beaten pathWe visit the ranger station at Waterrock Knob and hike under the impressive Linn Cove Viaduct, an engineering feat that kept the parkway road off of the delicate vegetation of Grandfather Mountain. We stop by Moses Cone Manor, walk along his old paths and see the pastures that lead to the family grave stones. Once in awhile we can park the car along an overlook to watch a thunderstorm move across the valley far out in front of us.

You can do all sorts of exciting, fun, busy activities on vacation and we do those things as well. But we always make time to visit our dear friend when we can. The parkway and its beautiful scenery have done so much healing and restoration for us throughout the years. It’s become like medicine for us. We miss it when we are away too long. And we hate to leave when we are there.

Girl child asked me recently why we like to be here so much. I told her that this beautiful place fills up my soul when it gets empty. Some may say that only God can do that, and that’s true. His beauty and His creation fills my soul and revives it when I find that it’s become empty.

off the beaten path

 

 

Issues!

I Must Wash My Hands

i must wash my handsI must wash my hands. You must also wash your hands. Seems simple enough, right? We teach our kids how to do it and gradually over time they get better and better at it. They even start to remember to do it without being told, so I’ve heard.

It’s a funny thing how our society is so competitive. Over everything. Every. Thing. So what does this have to do with washing your hands. Funny you should ask. This seemingly simple activity has become (at least from my perspective) a competition in the ladies room. Guys, I’m sure y’all have better things to do than to critique each other’s hand-washing ability and quality.

Ladies? Come on! Does every single thing have to be a competition?

So at work, we have a rather large multi-stall women’s restroom and it’s usually got a few ladies coming and going throughout the day. No big deal…it’s a big office. But here’s the thing. No longer is hand-washing just something you do when you’re finished using the restroom.

i must wash my handsSide bar: Let me just say a huge thank you to all who actually do wash their hands. I know it’s not required and usually the rest of us suffer at the dirty hands of those who choose to skip the ceramic basin and Dial so thank you for those who actually do wash their hands…much appreciated!

Here’s where it gets odd. The germaphobia that seems to have taken a strong hold on the women in this particular office is remarkable. We aren’t a dirty group of people, we are generally healthy and yet some ladies seem to think they are scrubbing down from a shift working with patients in a Tubuculosis ward or some yet-to-be diagnosed virus the CDC is trying to isolate.

Here’s how it usually goes:

  • Leave the stall and head toward an available sink
  • Stop first at the paper towel dispenser and grab two sets of paper towels
  • Lay the paper towel sets on the counter beside the sink
  • Get soap from the automatic hand soap dispenser
  • Scrub like mad
  • Rinse in a downward motion from the middle arm toward the finger tips (as if prepping for surgery)
  • Use the first paper towel set to turn off the faucet
  • Use the second paper towel set to dry hands
  • Using the second paper towel set, grab the first paper towel set and head toward the door
  • Use the clump of paper towels to open the door
  • Throw away the paper towels in the trash can by the door or hold on to them for any other subsequent doors you may encounter upon returning to your work station

Seriously? You have an immune system. For Pete’s sake, this level of cleanliness eliminates the ability of your immune system to get its exercise and when it never gets its exercise, guess what it’s doing when you accidentally let a nasty germ through the Fort Knox you try to create with this excessive shower session?

It goes even further. There are little bum papers to cover the toilet seats and there are distinctly two groups of ladies in our building. Those that use them and those that don’t. Let me reiterate that we are a clean group of people. There’s not nastiness on the toilet seats, no one forgets how to use a commode and “spills” all over the place. This isn’t a shady truck stop. And yet, some need to keep that toilet covered with paper.

Whatever.

Never mind the grossness of your own keyboard, phone or mouse. Never mind the pen you use, which may have been in someone else’s mouth while you weren’t guarding it. What about the community copier machine buttons!!?!?

I am all in favor of washing those hands. I really am. And I take advantage of the bum paper covers for the toilet when I encounter a toilet that’s gross. But seriously, I am tired of getting those “you call that washing your hands??” looks when I grab some soap, scrub, rinse, turn off the faucet and go grab a paper towel.

I get it…you turn the faucet on after you use the bathroom and before your hands are clean. But if you really want to gross yourself out, research how much of our regular everyday stuff has microscopic fecal material on it. You can thank me later.

 

Children, Family

The Rain and the Soul of a Child

rain soul of childRecently on a Monday afternoon, it rained unexpectedly. No thunder or lightning…just rain. The kids had been doing their schoolwork most of the day but were finished and had hoped to go outside to play. So they were not happy to see the sky open up and pour down on their plans. [NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links. It helps support our blog but we only recommend things we have tried and love!]

So we watched it pour and pour and the kids tried to think of things to do now that they were officially stuck in the house. But then the rain slowed to a steady sprinkle. Seeing that there was no thunder or lightning and that this was a pop up fall shower, I told the kids to get their rain boots on. I also told baby girl to get her new umbrella that she had colored herself. (This is the neatest umbrella that has panels of colorless drawings that your kids can color with water-proof markers…completely adorable!) They all happily obliged because they knew what was coming next.

Outside we went, into the steady sprinkles for some good old fashioned puddle jumping and playing in the rain.

This seems to be a lost art, though the instructions for doing this activity are woven into a child’s DNA. You don’t see this activity much anymore but I think it’s one that is useful to everyone who engages in it.

Playing in the rain feeds the soul of a child.

rain soul of childIt does. Scientific fact. Playing in the rain allows kids to get wet and dirty and it also allows the built up laughter deep inside of them (not just the little laughs at the surface) to bubble up and be released. This causes the mouth muscles to engage the usually-underworked latero-obglingota maxio facial muscles. Ok, so maybe that last part is a bit made up. But it does make them smile huge and constantly.

And the laughter…all the giggles! The birds in the trees even stop their singing to watch the fun the kids are having. I watch them soak up the rain into their stringy hair and a little bit inside their rain boots. They jump in puddles, the bigger the splash the better. Running in the puddles works well, too. All of this gets the heart pumping and the laughter flowing. The eyes sparkling and the soul feeding.

This is what children thrive on…fun. No bickering, no arguing, no whining and no pouting. It’s virtually impossible to simultaneously do any of these offensive kid behaviors and also play in the rain. Also scientific fact.

rain soul of childPlaying in the rain is one of the few times I can count on my kids not arguing with each other. They truly enjoy each other’s company and feed off of each other while splashing in the puddles.

Imagine all the memories they are stitching together in their childhood. Stitching together a blanket of memories that they’ll undoubtedly pull out of the closet when they’re older and wrap themselves up in it to recall those moments of pure bliss and innocence.

Maybe all of us should go play in the rain every now and then.

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

One Day She Will Roll Her Eyes At Me

one day she will roll her eyes at meWhen our first child was born, I remember looking down at her, in awe of her newness and so in love with this warm, wiggly little being. And I remember thinking that this beautiful gift from God would one day roll her eyes at me in frustration. I knew that day would come. Because she would grow and learn and develop her own opinions and thoughts about things.

And occasionally her thoughts would be in direct opposition to my thoughts. She would grow to want to be independent and the struggle between parents holding on and children wanting to let go would rage on, like a dance with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop.

Fast forward to today. Girl child really likes to do things by herself. Not like baby girl does…spilling the cereal all over the table because she wanted to pour it herself but does not yet possess the fine motor skills to maintain accuracy when aiming for her cereal bowl. Girl child likes responsibility. She likes to do things that confirm she’s growing up. Like emptying the dishwasher herself, including the knives. She knows what’s been off limits to her until she’s old enough. And she wants to be old enough!

So, as she gains more and more independence, I wonder where I will fit in to her world. When she was fresh from God, I was completely in charge of everything for her. Now I reach into my pockets and hand over yet another thing I managed that she now can do for herself. Lord help me when she’s old enough to drive.

That’s kind of scary. Because at some point in her life, I won’t know where she is or what she’s doing. She’ll call me and check in (she better if she knows what’s good for her!). We will chat and catch up on all the stuff she’s been into. Maybe she’ll share heartbreak with me, but who knows. Maybe not. And then, she’ll hang up and go on with her life. Without me.

As we move further away from dependence, I try to remind her how family always sticks together. How we always look out for each other, no matter what. That her brother and sister are now and will forever be her closest and best friends. She will still roll her eyes every now and then but I’m trying to plant the seeds now so that later, when she needs the tree of support and faithful love and encouragement, she’ll find us all there.