Saturday, November 22, 2014

Colossians 3:15-17

My Thanksgiving prayer for our body of believers and the church universal.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Third Birthday to Abigail!

 I couldn't choose just one of these! She plays the family princess job very well.

Susannah testing out a present to make sure it worked.
Hannah and Abi

Rachel and Abi - Abigail is free with her hugs and kisses to everyone!

Lydia and Abi
Abigail loved the baby doll that the O'Neils made for her.
Abi with all of her best "fwiends"
Sarah and Mary were here, they just missed out on the photos this time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I apologized to my friend for not getting to the prayer meeting and her response was so gracious, "That's okay, there were no expectations." 

I want to serve in so many ways, add to that all the ways others think I should serve then I am overwhelmed. I cannot do it all.  I know this, and yet, I still put unreasonable expectations on myself.
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.  For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 (emphasis mine)
How would that transform your day? One battle with joy, is that we think we have to "perform" to make God love us more. Maybe that thought is put there by others' expectations.  We discount the gospel when we get on our treadmill and run a little faster, trying to perform.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;  let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. Psalm 5:11
We can rejoice! We can take pleasure in the work that God has called us to do. And those expectations - self-imposed or not? 
Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.  Ecclesiastes 5:19 (emphasis mine)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Parenting Older Children

They love candy as much as the next girl!
I ran into a friend whose children had been sneaking around and growing up, just like mine had. One of us commented that parenting older children is a lot different than younger.

The older they get, the harder it seems sometimes. Their problems matter, they can get into trouble that matters, their decisions matter and they matter longer.

She said, "it's no longer easy to just steer them away from the candy aisle." I agreed.

But we aren't steering them away from the world. We are trying to teach them to navigate through, with a biblical worldview.

I am convinced that guiding the "big kids" through life has to begin when they're small. I know the days of avoiding the candy aisle, I've done it too. But if all of our parenting is about "avoiding" then we have missed some important lessons.

You cannot avoid for the rest of their lives. Children must learn to deal with the world and their own sinful hearts at a young age, while you are with them. They have to know that there is a whole world filled with candy, but they cannot always have it when they want it. If a two year old doesn't learn this lesson, she will have a hard time for the rest of her life. As they grow the temptations are endless, some things may not be bad in moderation (like candy,) and some things that should be forbidden completely (drugs, premarital sex.)

So, my thinking is, with my small children, avoid the candy aisle sometimes. Sometimes go down it and say no, completely no, and don't give in. Then, every once in a while say sure to a request. Then teach them, as you go, that there will be some things in their lives that they are never to look at or consider.

I know parents who are "avoiding" situations right now that don't make sense to me. Their children haven't learned to turn their heads or close heir eyes to certain sins. So, at great inconvenience to their family and others, they "avoid" situations that could be real learning tools.

By no means am I suggesting, laying sin in front of a child and then punishing them for it. That's entrapment and just plain mean.

Guiding children through the normal course of life will give plenty of teachable opportunities to help you teach them how to learn self-control over their own bodies. In the end, there are no guarantees that they still will not fall into heinous sin, but they need to start learning how to turn away from it early.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


written on November 6, 2014

I'm waiting again on my doctor, on results of a test this time.   Three abnormal Pap smears should be dealt with. After having the same OBGYN for over twenty years, I knew what he was going to say. His nature is to jump to the worst scenario first, then slowly back down to what is more likely the out come.

So after some time and prayer, I had a small part of my cervix removed and a biopsy done. And now I'm waiting.

I don't think I have panicky nature, but these kinds of things do give me time to think about my perspective on life.

In the beginning of the school year we had to focus on school, a lot. It had to take top priority for a while. But once it got going a little more smoothly I remembered that just because we are knee deep in mud at the Battle at Passchendaele doesn't mean that's the most important thing to be learning.

We are learning to keep an above the sun perspective. Studying Ecclesiastes, along with unfavorable doctors visits, along with hardships in life for those I love has made me ask hard questions. Am I focusing too much energy on vain pursuits? Am I more concerned with my neighbors' souls than with pulling weeds? Do my children know Scripture as well as they know Taylor Swift? Does my husband receive my care as much as my children and the church? Do I work harder on the extra inches around my waist than on my heart for God?

Laying in the bed with my two year old's arms squeezed tight around my neck, I had to face hard answers. She squeezed with all of her might and said, "I just want to keep you here forever and ever." That's a sweet picture, and one I'll always cherish, but it's not possible. One day I will die, hopefully not anytime soon, but it will happen. Has my life made on impact on her, or anyone else for that matter, for eternity?

completed on November 10, 2014
The tests came back and I am all clear. The tests showed the early stage of cancer but it was not invasive and the doctor was sure that he got all of it. Little more needs to be done now.

I am not a contemplative person or one who is a big worrier so I am glad though for this glimpse of my own life, it's brevity and it's impact. God is kind to give us gentle reminders sometimes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Laundry as a Holy Experience

Speaking of laundry, where did this come from?
I was looking at a mound of laundry before me and made a conscience decision. I could moan and groan or I could spend some time praying. After I started praying quietly, I was surprised at how quickly the time went and I was able to pray for so many things that I wouldn't have normally thought of. There were even some items that needed extra prayer, so I held on to them a little longer than needed. This might be a good exercise to give your children to try while they tackle their own laundry.

Here is just a sample of what I found in my heap and a little of how I prayed for each.

  • A stray outfit of Susannah's- prayer for her salvation
  • Sarah's Oregon T-shirt that she got on a mission trip- prayer for missions
  • Lydia's Minnesota T-shirt - prayer for Adrian's family
  • Pajamas - prayer for rest for those who have trouble going to sleep or resting
  • Mary's Ocala T-shirt - prayer for our dear friends at Olivet Baptist Church in Ocala
  • Lydia's Nanny T-shirt - prayer that we remember our heritage and the faith of those gone before us
  • My jeans - prayer that my day to day walk with God would honor Him
  • Dish towels - prayer that we would clean to bring order to our world
  • Sarah's Spartan race T-shirt - prayer that she would be able to get back to exercising and be strong and healthy
  • Baby towels - prayer that God would always bless our homes with babies
  • Jeans that are too little and socks with holes - prayer for provision of new clothes when we need them, and that we would buy what we need, not frivolous
  • Hannah's teaching clothes - prayers for her classroom, students, attitude, strength, wisdom, school
  • Stray towel left by a friend that visited - prayers for that family 
  • Cloth napkins - provision for food, service to our family and others
  • The dress Hannah wore to a wedding shower - obvious prayers there
  • Mounds of underclothing from five daughters bring lots of ways to pray for modesty,  good health, protection from evil, future husbands

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Don't Give Them Anything To Do

And they may do something like this...

Mary used a piece of burnt wood to create this masterpiece on our patio. It doesn't wash off...

Lydia has some amazing adventures in our back yard.  I only hope they can get written down before she gets too grown up.

I know this contradicts my last post, but not completely. Giving children things to do is important, but it's also important for children to learn and create on their own.

I'm a big proponent of letting children get bored. Boredom can breed creativity and ingenuity. Boredom can give children time to think. We all need time to think, relax and rest. I love to see what happens when my children get bored.  I have heard parents say that when their children are quiet, they must be up to something no good. Sometimes that might be true, but not usually for us.

These are just a few things that happened because our kids were bored. I'm sure there is many more, but they probably were kept secret from me.
  • building an igloo (never got finished, we do live in GA)
  • making a chalk wall in the bedroom
  • writing the names of God in different languages in Sharpie on the wall
  • mattress jumping
  • elaborate desserts created
  • giant forts
  • puzzle factories 
  • movies or other dramatic productions (think Little Women)

Playing in the rain is a good idea for girls too!
Abigail found that an umbrella is great for a ride on a sunny day.
This Where's Waldo? game lasted for months. Many "Waldos" were drawn and hidden all over our house. It was fun  finding them in the strangest places.
Walks in the creek across the road and hikes in random places grow girls in the best of ways.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Give Them Something To Do

Mary, art
Rachel, horseback riding
Children need things to do. Each of us need a balance of work, play and rest. Early on, we thought that if each child had an activity to do that was enough. Then we decided that music wasn't going to be an option so we added that. Multiply an activity and music lessons by the number of school age girls and things began to get out of hand.

There are so many options out there for children - every sport, musical instrument and arts galore. We kind of got stuck in a rut with basketball, but have had a few other options over the years. Some of the girls have tried more activities than others because of where our family was at the time practically (finances, extra hours in the day, number of drivers in the house.)
Hannah, soccer

Doubling up activities and lessons helped ease the schedule a little. Carpooling would have helped on many occasions but it didn't come along very often.  We had to make hard decisions to not participate in things we really wanted to and  had to make the heart breaking decision to completely pull out of an activity because it interfered with church.

Lydia, piano

Sarah, basketball
Are there regrets? Of course, but don't we all?

These are a few pictures of the girls doing some of the things that they loved to do at the time. Are these the things they will make a career out of? Probably not, but they learned some valuable lessons from them. And our family has been enriched because of them.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Ten2ndRule - I Want That

On Facebook recently, a young single friend posted something like this - that even though kids are annoying, he realized that he used to be one. So now that he knows kids are irritating, they are all going to grow up and be adults one day. So we should all be patient with them.

He was corrected in his comments, but it made me realize what some of the general public think about children:

Children are annoying, but are to be tolerated.

It does take a lot of patience to raise children, not because they are annoying, but because we are sinners. This video gives a perfect illustration of our nature. 

We want what we want and we want it now. Children tend to force you to change that line of thinking. There is no room for selfishness in parents of any children. There are many needs that must be met. And those needs must be met in the child's timing. You don't get to choose when a major diaper blow out is going to happen, or a high fever, or a skinned knee, or lost tooth, etc. Trying to rush small children through the grocery store is like herding kittens. And there is no way to predict the need to go potty while you're in the car.

For the past twenty-five years, children have changed my way of thinking. From the moment your baby is born, you have to consider everything you do in light of how it will affect the baby.
  • Nursing mothers must wear clothing that is easy to feed in
  • You must question how certain foods will make the baby cry
  • Necklaces might scratch the baby's face
  • Spit up has a special way of covering as many different surfaces as possible
  • Toddlers take longer to get ready to go than you are actually able to be gone
  • Potty breaks are tests on their own
If you haven't grown up spending large amounts of time with babies and small children, your thinking may need to be changed.

Sarah has friends at college that ask her why she goes home so often. Sometimes she questions that herself. But when Abigail runs to greet her with open arms and says, "I missed you so much," she knows why.

When I had my hands especially full at a friend's house last week, Abigail announced that she needed to go potty. Without thinking, I asked their fifteen year old daughter to take her. After they went, I realized what a blessing that was! How many teenagers in the general public are happy to take a two year old potty? If this young lady thought children were annoying she would have been at the least hesitant or even repulsed.

She and Sarah both know what a joy children are. They know that we don't have to just wait until they grow up and aren't annoying.

I'd like to send a message to this young Facebook friend, "Smile at these little humans and you'll see it too. Engage them in conversation and you'll be surprised at what they can teach you. Children can teach you that you aren't the center of the world." 

The world shouldn't revolve around children, just include them. Don't wait until they're grown to tolerate them. Learn to love them today and they will be easier to tolerate when they are adults.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Social Security and Abortion

Most people who know me, understand that I'm not going to get into big debates about controversial issues. I'm just not brave enough. 

Except... abortion.... Well it's just so clearly wrong.

But recently I heard a fact that was shocking to me: "The social security taxes depend on the rate of abortion." 

Here is how it was explained:

When the social security tax began the rate of workers to those retired was one to about thirty-three. That was plenty to use the social security taxes raised to support the retirees. If that money had been left alone to use for that which it was intended, it would still be in the system to support those who have paid in to it. But in about 1979, it was raided by the government to be used for other purposes, leaving it bankrupt. Now the ratio of workers to retirees is about one to six. Because of longer life expectancy and abortion, there is less workers to pay into the system. So we are living longer and killing part of our population. The rate of workers to the retired is expected to get even closer.

Now when we complain that the social security system is a rip off to the American people, we can know that we the people have a solution to the problem. Stop killing the work force!

And that's just the social security tax! That doesn't even consider all the great preachers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, mothers, fathers, or otherwise great contributors to society that we as a nation have allowed to be murdered.

This idea doesn't address whether the social security tax was a good idea or not, just a small lesson on why every life matters.  

You needed an economics lesson today, didn't you?