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Monday, June 30, 2008

Dining Art


Here is our family's weekend table, compliments of Julia.


I saw this centerpiece idea on another blog (If I can find it again, I'll post a link later.) and thought it would be a great way for the kids to learn about table settings, napkin folding and entertaining. I love how they can take an ordinary thing and make it beautiful!


This is creative, fun and totally domestic. I can't wait to see all the art they come up with for our kitchen table.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Online Distractions


I am taking defensive driving right now. If I keep typing on this blog, I may never finish. Hey, they shouldn't offer the course online with no real big brother type supervision if they don't expect me to write a blog post, check my email and ummm google my favorite subjects. Actually I wonder if I could take defensive driving on my iPhone while I am driving in my car...But I digress.
Yes, I went fast and I got caught. My children are calling this my spanking. haha

But, I have a question.

Seriously, who really checks the weather forecast and traffic conditions before setting out each morning? I mean I so could now that I have my iPhone but I have to place it in the bottom of my purse so I am not tempted to play with it while driving. (Isn't that good defensive driving?)

Also would somebody please tell me who evaluates their personal well being and allergies prior to getting behind the wheel?

Weird.

Maybe that's why I had to take this class...My allergies made me speed!

Want some safety tips?

No reclining in those seats. The recline option is only for those who sleep in their cars when they are not moving.

And, just so you know, your head restraint is supposed to be adjusted to be even with your ears. You are now whiplash educated thanks to this here blog.

Happy driving, folks because parts of this course are totally random.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Encouraged by the Enforcer

***Update: Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible has left a comment on this here blog, my blog! So awesome that it totally made my day! She has some really neat resources on her website (Go to www.sallyloyd-jones.com this will take you to her blog or facebook)for kids including a few that I'm ordering myself. Thanks, Sally!***
I am doing this Bible study with my kids this summer.

Originally I was going to do it with them as a small group.

Things have changed. I am meeting with Julia and Alyssa one on one three times a week and giving them each homework. Different homework.

I am simply reading the stories to the boys and then praying. We will read about one character and then read parts of their story from the Bible and their story in the Jesus Storybook Bible.

Julia and I read the book together and discuss the questions. Her assignments are to look up the story in her Bible, read the stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible, pray using the book's prayer guide and journal one page about what God shows her. I have been giving her questions to journal about as a guide.

Alyssa reads the book on her own, I help her with the Bible part, she reads the Jesus Storybook Bible on her own and journals and prays on her own with no guidance from me.

Different strokes for different folks.

I really enjoy the time with them and they are enjoying it as well...Because from time to time we will go to Starbucks to discuss what God is showing us through our time in His Word. Because they are ready to learn that God shows up over coffee. They are super pumped about that. Big girls out for coffee with mom. Love it!

One of the main reasons I love this book is because special attention is given to how each character from the Bible heard God's voice. Sometimes it was a whisper so full of love it seemed a little loud and others it was a whisper barely audible but powerful and strong so it couldn't be mistaken.

Everyone knows I love the Jesus Storybook Bible because it draws the theme of the Bible, our redemption through Jesus' sacrifice because of His great love for us, through each story like a red thread of love holding the pages in place.


I am "encouraging" them to have this scheduled time with the Lord each day. (When I say encourage I mainly mean enforce.) And I was wondering if this was too harsh of an approach to loving God's Word and creating lifelong habits...and to discovering their faith on their own.

Then once again, I read one of my favorite ladies. One of Beth Moore's daughters, Melissa, wrote a post recently about her time in the biblical text. Melissa is Beth's daughter who is slightly famous for defying Dr. James Dobson's "Strongwilled Child" book. I have some of those. She says she called her mother the Titus 2 woman from you-know-where. But this habit eventually led her to a deep, passionate love for the Book that's like no other and it's Author.

What are some things you are doing to encourage your children to seek God and to spend time in His Word?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

King of This Jungle


"As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you." (Isaiah 66:13)

My journey into gentleness began many years ago.

Really, as a child and teenager, gentleness wasn't something that characterized my life. I was loud, outspoken, opinionated, harsh, demanding and still am lots of these things.

Especially as I became a mother I have asked the Lord to make me gentle with my children. Soft hands. Soft voices. Soft words.

He has promised to lead me in this. " He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." (Isaiah 40:11) This verse has been the mantra of my motherhood. I've clung to this promise as I rocked babies, changed diapers and trained little hearts.

I've always loved the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and Psalm 23 is one of my favorites. This is a Jesus that I can relate to, I get the caretaker.

I have always longed for the peace of the Lamb in my heart, my life, my home. It's just a prayer that I've always prayed.

Several years ago I was crying out to the Lord for the "fruit of the Lamb" in my home as I was redecorating. I consider these things like peace, harmony, contentment, rest and joy.

I would call each of these by name as I removed the outdated jewel tones and added my favorite animal prints and earthy textures.

One night in the midst of the safari transformation, the Lord pierced my heart.

"You forgot to invite the Lion of Judah to rule in your jungle," He gently whispered into my heart.

The Lion of Judah must fight to establish His territory before the reign of the Lamb can take place.

My prayers have changed a little since then. I know that with the fight of the Lion my character can become like the Spirit of the Lamb.

"Lion of Judah, Come establish your throne in my heart."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More May

So many of you commented on how the "Parrotheads" were in Frisco and what a big deal it was but I forgot to tell you that some of our resident Parrotheads were in Frisco also.

I think I have already mentioned how Andrew loves Jimmy Buffet. If you live in our house, you either learn to love him or suffer. Really, what's not to love?

When all was said and done and the limo was pulling out of the driveway to go to Frisco, we had a situation. A phone call minus a babysitter equals an extra ticket. That means Julia got a turn.

Andrew said he loved seeing the differences in his girls by placing them in basically, the exact same environment and extracting extremely, radically different results.

Julia stayed here for the entire concert.
She wanted to see Jimmy Buffet, meet him, go backstage with him and get as close as possible. So they took off toward the front of the stadium. She worked her way past this man with some sweet talk, a million dollar smile and a peck on the cheek. She ended up here where Jimmy Buffet promptly stopped singing, waved to her and commended parents who were raising their kids on his music.

In a nutshell, that's all she could talk about. "Jimmy Buffet waved to me!"
Alyssa is still talking about the boy wearing a coconut bra...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

For the Doubting Thomas

Today I am rejoicing! God has miraculously healed a precious friendship in my life.

One that the enemy took and twisted until it was frayed and strained to the point of brokenness by a crazy, sneaky move that could only be defined as warfare. Really, there is no other way to describe it.

We were both victims of a terrible injustice and space had to be part of the healing. That was just the way it would be.

This circumstance left me wounded and bleeding. Many months ago, as I mourned this friendship. (I really thought it had died.) I lashed out at God about the "creativity" of the evil one. how could he hit us like that?

God simply spoke to my heart, "Have you forgotten who I am?"

He reminded me that He is the only Creator. He had allowed the enemy access to our friendship. He was not surprised. He would creatively restore it...In the time He had already ordained to do so.

As I began to wait on Him my turmoil subsided. My heart let go of its bitterness and anger until it once again swelled with only love for my sweet sister. The circumstance began to fade as well and my wound was not as raw.

However, the Band aid was still obvious.

And one question remained, "How could this ever work together for good?" (Romans 8:28)

You see, I love perfect, unmessy things. This includes friendship. You know, the ones with no hurts, no past to overcome and no disappointments to hurdle. FYI I also love my own imaginary world which is the only place these types of relationships exist.

This particular friendship was a safe place for me, one that had never let me down, a place I would run to in times of trouble. Yet, I know the only refuge I have is in Christ, my Strong Tower. (Proverbs 18:10)

Through this, my God has once again taken something of mine, revealed it for what it truly was (an idol) and painfully, yet beautifully restored it to its rightful place in my life.

The Lord has shown me a beautiful picture of brokenness and restoration in himself.

Once a wound heals, a bandage is removed and a scar remains. A reminder. The scar is the evidence that the healing has taken place.

Just as the scars of Jesus were proof enough to erase the doubts of Thomas, the scars our friendship bears will be proof enough for all the world to see.

Beyond all doubt.

He lives.


But Thomas said to them, "Unless I see the nail marks...I will not believe."
Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, see my hands...Stop doubting and believe."
John 20:24 & 27

Monday, June 23, 2008

Diamonds and Jules


Does anyone remember the diamante poem from school? Well, they are still teaching it and kids are still writing it.

Julia wrote a diamante poem, for me, about me and entered it into a poetry contest. It was a wonderful surprise when she showed it to me.

Truly a jewel in my mother's crown.


Mother
Pretty, Nice
Helping, Smiling, Working
Shops like a princess and hugs like a bear
Talking, Loving, Playing
Smart, Slender
Lisa


How's that for a winner?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A Mother's Memory




This Mother's Day was extremely special to me. I had the pleasure of attending a couple of wonderfully special teas and receiving many beautiful gifts carefully and proudly made with glitter, glue, pipecleaners and handprints.

As i was sitting in the school auditorium watching the second grade perform I just teared up and started crying.

Not because J was singing so pretty. She was.

Not because the songs were sappy enough to be on several Hallmark commercials. They were.

Not because my baby is all grown up. She is.

I just started crying because at that moment I became overwhelmed with how grateful i am to be a mother. The privilege is one I don't take lightly.

This was the first Mother's Day I found myself at with an empty belly and empty arms. I am not rocking, nursing or expecting.

I think this was part of the reason for the tears. I love the baby-baby stage so much. I half expected mothering to be a little more burdensome when it ended. It's not.

Actually, feeling this deeply without any hormone surges took me quite by surprise. Mothering just gets better. The moments of pleasure that come as the children get older are just as sweet and much deeper in a way. It's easy to love a baby. A baby that adores you and depends on you for everything. But loving a person with a strong personality and their own opinions like that easy to love baby is a wonderful feeling. Again, fun mothering.

So, this Mother's Day I am learning to say goodbye to the simpleness of purely meeting their needs and welcoming the challenge of learning their distinct personalities and loving their idiosyncrasies. I realize that even though I am no longer nursing their bodies and appetites, I am nursing their hearts and souls. Pouring into their character is a little more difficult for me but the greater the challenge the sweeter the reward.

Growing has been hard for me, sad. On Mother's Day I was suddenly overwhelmed with how great this whole ride is gonna be.

Along with my macaroni frames and pipecleaner flowers this Mother's Day I got a good dose of gratitude and perspective.

Friday, June 20, 2008

May Madness

May is always a busy month with the end of school, awards ceremonies, performances and the general exhaustion and exhilaration of school winding down, summer coming on and the change of seasons.

I really don't know if I can truly recapture all that this year's May entailed. But, I can try. This will not be one brief post covering May but a series of posts that begin with Mother's Day.

There are some ladies I just love. I don't really "know" them personally as in if we saw each other on the street they would jump up and down throwing their arms around me. But, I have had the opportunity to get to know them through their ministries and their blogs and I would jump up and down throwing my arms around them if I saw them on the street!

Remember my Galveston post about the nasty, slimy tick? Well, even as I was discovering that tick and extracting it from my precious boy's head, one of these favorite ladies was fighting her own battle with one of these nasty creatures. If you haven't had the chance to meet Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, you should take the time. She is a woman who loves the Lord and is such an encouragement to other women. I mean you gotta love that we were battling deranged and possible diseased ticks at just the same time. See, I told you she is an example of "iron sharpening iron" and all that.

Now, in case you didn't know, one way I spent the most recent Mother's Day was by shopping with my own mom. My mom is a great lady. She loves the Lord and her prayers are one of the main reasons why I am who I am today. But let me tell you, we can shop. (Of course, we always pray we can find a good deal...ha ha.) We love to find a deal and we love to do it together. We've been known to skip lunch or eat protein bars for a meal so we can have more energy to do more shopping. In the last few years, this has become a talent. We've learned to totally maximize the four hours of Mother's Day Out. Seriously, a rare and not to be underestimated talent. This Mother's Day excursion we didn't do as much damage as we have in the past. After all, we can restrain ourselves like the mature mothers that we are. We did come home asking ourselves if that really is what we should have done to celebrate motherhood, though. Because, let's face it. There are much more spiritual causes than looking cute and finding good fashion on sale.

Don't get me wrong it was fun and my mom is GOOD at spoiling her girls but we had a tiny question about it. Not that we were going to waste time feeling guilty, we were just not going back to the store any time soon. Afterall, my mom is going to Africa to minister to orphans in August. The right summer dress? Not so much a necessity there. Then, I read that Beth Moore spent her Mother's Day the exact same way!

So, we considered it a blessing and as I always say, "Great Moms think alike!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

April Awareness


We finished our year of Awanas...in April!

This year was fun and exciting.


Hunter finished Cubbies, filled up that precious little blue vest and is now ready to run with the big kids in Sparks next year.

Julia finished Sparks, worked super hard and was one of only two Sparks to earn the Sparkie award for memorizing every single verse in each book for three years!

Alyssa received her book award and was a little upset that she wasn't "graduating" from something a little more exciting, but such is life in the "middle child" lane.

We are very proud of all of their hard work at placing God's Word in their hearts.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Blah Blah Blah



Get ready, people. I will be doing my best to play catch up on this blog. I have events from April, yes, April to get caught up on.


So get ready for lots of pictures and, of course, words.


Hold me accountable, I obviously need it!


Well, also I got my cool iphone and now I NEVER log on. I just check my iphone.


I'm so awesome...and so is my phone.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day and Yachts


This year we are taking full advantage of having parents that live on the lake. We are joining a boat co-op. Basically, pay a monthly fee to reserve a boat any time you want, sort of.

Our first experience was to be Father's Day. It's what Andrew wanted. Seconded by his brother and father.

The only requirement was that we take a boat driving lesson for the insurance.

No problem.

Actually, we've all driven a boat before so no big deal.

Afterall, all we want to do is pull a skier and get some sun. Fun on the lake!

We arrive in Conroe at 9 AM Saturday morning, kids in tow sans swimsuits for a short lesson. Seriously, how hard can driving a boat be?

Shortly after arriving we learn that it will be a FULL day on the water learning to drive our yacht certified vessel! Holy cow!

By the time we actually lay eyes on the craft, I'm terrified of smashing or scratching the $100,000 yacht. Seriously!

We continue with the lesson because, like Andrew said, "When else will we get one-on-one boating lessons?" A real challenge.

The expected hour on the water soon turned to five then six. After throwing up, I felt much better...just not too much like learning to back into the dock or pull The Love Boat into the slip.

I did learn how to drive it and parallel park it by the dock. It was a small rush combined with mind-numbing fear.

The only one of our group of five that felt confident behind the wheel was Andrew. Imagine. I was so proud of my sailor!

Truly, he always calls me up a notch. Always stretching me beyond what I think my limits are. We will all surely be more than we ever dreamed we could be with Andrew, our captain at our sides. Just like he can talk Julia into parasailing and Hunter into going down the big slides at Schlitterbahn. Overcoming obstacles is second nature to him. The fearless skipper of the weekend!

Needless to say, we were completely worn out for our Sunday excursion. After just getting back from South Padre and spending another long day on the water so we didn't make it to ski on Sunday.

And, did I mention that the "yacht" wasn't even a skiing boat? We found that out about 7:00 Saturday night.

What a day!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Voices


Casting Crowns has a song about "The Voice of Truth tells me a different story...it says do not be afraid."

We hear so many voices in life. We listen to the voice that tells us we're over-the-top, too loud, not organized enough, not orderly enough, not the best, all alone. You name it, the voices of this world have tried to make somebody believe it.

The Smith Team is involved with a coach, one of my personal heroes, real estate guru, Chad Goldwasser. Chad's team in Austin closed 550 deals last year and he credits his success to his amazingly positive spirit.

He has challenged us to train our minds to dwell on affirmations to grab, throttle and choke out all of the negativity in our lives. He uses a wake-up statement to start his day on the right foot.

Implementing his strategies have revolutionized my attitude and I love it! Why?

Because people will let you down every time. God has equipped us with the truth. I don't need others to tell myself what He's already said is true about me.

1 Samuel 30:6 says, "David was greatly distressed...But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God."

Bible teacher Karen Chaffin says as we continue our destiny we must learn this, "God will even blind the eyes and deafen the ears of our closest friends in those moments so we can learn to minister to ourselves." She goes on to say, "Our battle with fear never ends."

In each role I play I feel failure on occasion. A child has a public meltdown, I lose a real estate deal, I don't get a special invitation, unexpected company sees laundry all over the living room and the list could go on forever.

The Lord has been teaching me to encourage myself by repeating the truths he painted on my heart so long ago and meditating on the truth of His Word.

Listen to the Voice of Truth and go where He leads you for His glory.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Still



In case you're wondering, I'm still here. It's not that I don't have anything to say, I do. Lots.

It's just that when the things in my life that I am passionate about become mundane I have to take a break and change my routine a little.


To borrow a quote from a friend (who you'll meet another day), "Focus is my super power." I've learned to prayerfully develop an intentional routine, a system, to maximize my energy and resources each day.


This super focus helps me to funnel time and energy into my passions while meeting my daily responsibilities. However, when the extraordinary in my life starts becoming stinkin' ordinary with a taste of monotony, I refocus.


By being still.


Sometimes, it's because I need to listen. Sometimes, I just need a quiet place to share.


This time, it's been neither.


I needed stillness.


Complete stillness.


Non-movement.


Inactivity.


It's bred ultra-productivity.


The beds we sleep in every night have gone unmade for a few days. The dishes we've eaten on have all been of the disposable variety. The clothes we wear have remained in a huge but sort of logical (at least to me) pile.


I hope I am teaching my children a lesson that was a long time coming to me. It's wonderful to rise early and meet with God. It's great to pray while you keep the kitchen clean and the bathroom fresh.


But, there are times when you drop everything to focus on a close friend just for the sheer joy of beholding their face and gazing into their eyes.


I've heard the saying, "Knowledge is power."


"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10


The ultimate power lies in stillness.