Thursday, September 15, 2011

Home for the Summer

I posted on my new blog address today.
You can read about the
7 Ways I was Intentional with My College Girl this Summer right here!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I have Moved

 My new address is simply! (Click here)
I will stop by here occasionally to remind you - but bookmark my new blog address. Please. :)

You can also subscribe to my new blog (see the Subscribe options on the right of the new blog).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Set Apart

Set apart from the everyday dishes
God has a thing about setting people apart by His grace and for His work. But I don't think its exactly easy to be set apart - especially for our kids. I remember being a teenager, it was all about fitting in and not standing out. Being set apart can feel like being left out, and yet this is what I want for my kids.

During the course of their day, temptations and shifting boundaries are constantly in front of our kids. Using foul language, disrespect, cheating, ignoring or making fun of others, pornography, drinking, sex, lying, and more are coming at our kids constantly. I want, and expect, my kids to resist each of these. I don't think it's easy. I really don't. I believe this is a hard road sometimes. In fact, my oldest has shared that having different standards has, at times, been very hard indeed.

Courtney's Dishes
So I talk to them - a lot. We have spoken about pornography at our dinner table. I hate that. But we will talk about tough subjects until they become easy to talk about. I don't want my kids to wonder where we stand on these subjects and I want them to be clear about our expectations. I want them them to know they have a purpose; that I believe God himself has set them apart.

Erin's Dishes
One of the tools I use to let them know they are set apart is china. When each of the girls entered high school I gave them each one place setting and wrote a letter about being set apart. I knew these years would be increasingly difficult. In the letter I told them about attributes I see in them already that indicate being set apart. I remind them that practicing boundaries now will help them be more confident later in saying no. I gave them verses from the Bible regarding being set apart. I explained that the dishes were special - like them - and would not be kept in the kitchen with the everyday dishes, but would be set apart and kept in the oak hutch in the dining room.

I let them know that they can get these dishes out anytime they want, that they can use them for dinner, a snack, cereal, or even ice-cream. They can use them to remind themselves of their value and purpose. I also told them that sometimes they will find their dishes at the dinner table, that I will set the table with  them as a reminder that I am thinking of them.

Zach's Dishes
I wondered what to give Zach, I wasn't sure he would appreciate a set of dishes, but this summer I changed my mind, and I picked up one place setting of "manly dishes". I decided that he should have a set too because one, I love the symbol that I can easily put in front of them, and two, I know the girls appreciate when they come to the table and find their special dishes at their place. I use these dishes as a quiet way to say I love you. I'm thinking of you. I think you're special. I'm proud of you. I believe in you. Be encouraged, you've been set apart intentionally.

I can't remember where I got the idea for the dishes, but I thought I would share it with you as it seems to be one my kids really appreciate. Feel free to share your ideas about how you remind your kids that they are special!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Blessed to be a Blessing

Zach came home a few weeks ago and said Chris, one of the younger guys on the football team, (that he had been driving to and from practice all summer because his mom works) was selling candy bars to help raise money for a mission trip he was taking. Zach wondered out loud how many he could buy. When I asked why, he said something about wanting to help this kid (it was a mission trip after all) and he wanted to blow him away through generosity.

So Zach asked all of us how much we would each contribute; everyone in our family put money in the pot. It was neat to watch that happen. Then he texted his friend.

"How many candy bars do you have left?"
"I'll take all of them."
"Are you kidding me?!"
"Nope, I'll take all of them!"

Zach said Chris was really blown away when he picked up the candy bars the next day.

I just love this.

Blessed to be a blessing
is something our pastor, Stan Buck, has spoken about often. Kevin and I really took this to heart this past year when he challenged all of the church body to tip generously when we go out to eat. He wondered what that could look like across our community if everyone did that. Stan has challenged us before on this, but it really landed on us this most recent time. I have to say, we have had a blast tipping generously these past several months. Its funny, because we never see the staff get their tip, but we imagine what they must think when they see what we have left. (As a former waitress, I don't have a problem imagining this.)

This generosity we saw in Zach wasn't the first time we had seen something like that. Earlier in the summer Courtney's boyfriend had taken her out to lunch and she asked to leave the tip. She left a gigantic tip and she told us how fun it was to leave it and walk away! Again, I love this.

I write this not to boast of our generosity, I write it this for these reasons:
  • To point out the impact one person had by issuing a challenge. One person influenced much giving.
  • Our kids are watching what we are doing - this can be good news or scary news - I guess it depends on what we are doing!
  • We are influencing our kids through our actions. We are. They see what we do and they do it too. What are we doing?
All good things to ponder.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where are my glasses?

I ask this question multiple times a day. I had perfect vision up until a few years ago, when reading glasses became helpful, and then more recently, necessary.

When my kids need me to read something, write a check or sign something, the smart ones find me a pair of glasses first. (Note to kids: You're all smart, so quit trying to decide who I am talking about!) OK, and I have some friends who know the same thing about me. 

Yesterday we pulled into the driveway and I saw a pair tucked away by a plant. I had not seen these glasses in at least a week!

I decided to take pictures of all the random places I found my glasses today.

There is no point to this post at all. Just sharing a day in the life of this mom.

(Note: If you ever want to get me a gift, reading glasses would be a great idea. The string that goes around the neck may be a wiser gift, but I'm not there yet.)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scrimmage: a practice session

Friday night was the unofficial beginning to the football season. Kevin and I found ourselves on the bleachers watching our son take the field for the first time this season. It was just a scrimmage, but scrimmages are important as they give the players an opportunity to get a feel for how everything comes together after a summer of conditioning and practicing.

In these last waning days of summer I am feeling what I feel every year at this time...a  little melancholy. As we walked out of the stadium at the end of the evening, I realized we were in our own scrimmage as I was suddenly getting a feel for what our new season would feel like after a summer of easy living and lots of family time.

I felt intensely appreciative for many recent simple moments ~
  • Like the shopping trip earlier that day, Zach, Erin and Courtney and I had spent five hours together. (Kyler asked to be excused from this endless traipsing from store to store).  It was wonderful. I don't have the three of them alone very often and it was good for us to have this time. Really good.
  • I also felt grateful for my college daughter who napped with me on the couch that afternoon. This physical closeness doesn't happen quite as often now that she is nineteen (I can't exactly rock her anymore), and she doesn't even live at home nine months out of the year.
  • We had just spent a week with my niece and nephew and I felt joy at the opportunity to deepen our bonds, and a little sadness as I realized much distance was once again between us.
  • A summer in which Kyler experienced many steps forward made my heart hopeful for his upcoming season as well as grateful for his current place.
  • Knowing my baby girl was starting high school made my heart almost skip a beat. I can still see her two year old self twirling around in dress up clothes and beaming at me as she smiles....which was (and still is) all the time. 
  • I was keenly aware that with Zach heading into his junior year, I have two years left with him at home...and time seems to fly these days. So this created a lump in my throat and possibly a glassy residue in my eyes.
I will be fine. I remind myself. This happens every year. This new season will bring new plays for our team, and everyone will get comfortable in their new positions, including me. But for today, I will remember that all of these feelings are just a part of the process for me each year, so its OK to feel a little sad right now.

Monday, August 8, 2011

He's Back!

Sunday, August 7, 2010, our pastor, Stan Buck, was back in his spot at our church. He hasn't been in his spot since May 15th. On May 19th a brain tumor was discovered and May 20th it was removed

Its been a long eleven weeks.
Its been a miraculous eleven weeks.
Its been an emotionally draining eleven weeks.

If you go to church, you know that many of us have "our seats". Mine is in the front, third row, right side, on the end. I sit here because I am easily distracted, in this spot I can focus more easily on worship and the message. Our pastor sits two rows in front of us, and its been unnerving to not see him in his spot this summer.

But this past Sunday he was back! I didn't realize how much I appreciated seeing the back of that guy's head over the past nine years! Its hard to articulate what it felt like. It was overwhelming, it was comforting, it was joyful, it was evidence of the grace of God. It warmed my heart and made my feet move during worship.

He will be preaching "Messages that Matter" over the next three weeks, I cannot wait to sit under his teaching again. I am overjoyed by his return. I am praying still for his recovery. I am mindful of God's grace. I am aware of my own brokenness and mortality. I am stronger for this even as I feel weak in the knees.

In all of this, with hands lifted high - in grief and in joy -  I am again made aware that God is good...all the time. No matter what.

Click here for "Face Down" my first post about this.
Click here for "Getting up to Follow" my second post.
Click here for the messages from Sonrise Church, Southwest Campus

It's Almost Over...

I wrote here about the last week of summer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A BIG Goal Reached

Kyler has wanted a Nintendo DS since he entered our home three years ago. Unfortunately for him, I have never purchased one of these gaming units for my kids, nor will I. Undeterred, I have seen this "gift idea" show up on birthday and Christmas lists, all to no avail.

A year ago I suggested he start saving for one. I talked about moving from simply wanting something to doing something to get it. This did not appeal to him. Then he received a twenty dollar gift card to Target for his birthday. I suggested instead of running to Target to see what he could spend it on (his idea) he should start a "DS Envelope" in his budget plan. We got on-line to check out the cost of a DS, this seemed exciting and daunting to him at the same time.

A little reluctantly, he created an envelope and put the gift card in that envelope. Each month when he receives his budget he delegates income to his "Tithe", "Savings", "Spending" and "DS" envelopes. Saving for this item over the past nine months has been an exercise in staying power and delayed gratification. This was especially true when he told the neighbor boys what he was saving for and they each offered to sell him their old devices, which Kyler then wanted to purchase.....he just wanted the DS now.

Seven months into the savings plan, he had almost all the money he needed when he scratched one of my tables in the living room...on be destructive. This type of destruction has been an ongoing problem, so I needed to figure out a new consequence. I told him since the table was a recent purchase, he would take his DS money and go to Target (he is so lucky I bought that little table there!) and buy me a new table without scratches. OUCH. That rather hurt. (which means it was an AWESOME consequence).

Added to the table set-back, Kyler also has a history of paying a lot of fines to me at the end of the month. Each time this happens I remind him he has control over these fines and if I were him, I'd rather see the money go in my envelopes instead of my mom's wallet. The last two months he has indeed been fine-free and has enjoyed the benefit of being able to keep his entire monthly budget.

Yesterday was the first of the month - budget day at our house - and he finally, after nine months, had enough money to purchase the Nintendo DS (+tax...oh the realities of purchases). It was kind of exciting driving to Target with all that cash in his hand and hopefully a sense of accomplishment in his heart. When we got home, he was very excited and had it open within seconds!

He has to have learned much through this process, I am hoping he picked up on these big ones:
  • He has control over his "wants".
  • He can achieve BIG goals over the long term.
  • A little becomes a lot over a period of time.
  • Waiting to get what he really wanted was worth it.
  • Pride in himself for accomplishing this goal.
Its hard to say what he will pull out of this experience, he still doesn't share a lot of his feelings, but I do feel this was a priceless lesson, and I am so proud of him.

Click here to read about how we teach our kids to manage money.
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