In 13 Years

 

{www.marriedtocraft.com}

{www.marriedtocraft.com}

It was 13 years ago that I stood in front of several hundred witnesses, promising all sorts of things to a man I realize now, I hardly knew.  I still remember the day – how beautiful I felt, and yet how self-conscious.  How excited I was, and yet how my hands were trembling.  How I loved my veil, and hated my shoes.  How I thought my eye shadow was too dark, and I wondered whether anyone else would notice.  How my heart fluttered at the sight of Pat, all the while my eyes filled with tears at the thought of leaving my Dad.  I recall the conflict of emotions as my very first man walked me toward my new man, letting go of my uncertain hand and ushering me toward adult-hood.

That was 13 years ago.

In the span between, 4 children have been born to us, and we have been thrown into the bigger realities at the speed of life.  There have been good days and bad.  There have been good years and bad.  And whether the sun has shone or the days have been dark, we have learned.

13 years in, I feel like we are barely scratching the surface of what we know of love.  But there are a handful of truths we have absorbed along the bumpy way.

 

Love is a Verb

I am a words woman.  I faithfully express 20,000 or so on an average day – more if we are disagreeing.  My husband, like many men, does not.  He daily expresses 7,000 or so – less if we are disagreeing.

One of the monuments I built to self when we were dating, is the confidence that I could make Pat a talker.   That with enough coercion, I could make him a chattery girl-friend, who would read my thoughts and intuitively speak to my every insecurity.

emma and elinor

After 13 years, I have grown to recognize that my husband does not need to exhaust the English language in order to demonstrate his love for me.  Rather, like most prefer, he loves with action and intent.  He meets needs with kindness and loyalty.  He steps into many exhausted situations and rescues.  He does this because he equates love with service.

And the simplicity of love = service is the oil that keeps the engine of a marriage running on many a weary day.

Children Rescue

Children are absurd, aren’t they?

I truly think our kids are the funniest beings around, and daily they surprise me with their quick wit and easy humor.  Kids possess a unique ability to dismantle tension through simply not noticing it.

silly kids 2

They take the shambles of a difficult day, and force laughter and light with their jokes and antics.  Their joy and love not only  supports and reinforces our married love, but working toward their mutual good solidifies our unity as a couple.

Our kids save us many days, and I hope we always let them know it.

 

As You Multiply, You Will be Tempted to Divide

Nonetheless, there are challenges associated with married parenting. The sweet little blessings who share our DNA, mirroring all that we appreciate best and dislike most of ourselves, have a strong and steady hold on us at all times.  As I type this post, our oldest rarely goes to bed before 10pm anymore, and our youngest seems to have taken to moon-lighting, waking up at 3 am with urgent needs like, “My slipper fell off”.

tiny baby

Parenting is not for cowards, and one of the most daunting take-away’s is perpetual exhaustion, which becomes spousal lethargy.  My Dad {a father of 5} once warned us of the temptation to divide as we multiplied our family.  His words have spurred us on in various ways, one of the simplest of which is securing a monthly baby-sitter.

Too many marriages are becoming mathematical statistics, and I do not want ours to be a lesson in division.

 

You Will Break Your Best Goals Sometimes {And that is Okay}

Pat and I cooed at one another while dating, stating that we would never raise our voices at each other, or our future children.  13 years in, there is a basket in our living room that has the top smashed in because I broke my word and something had to take the rap {or the wrath, in this case}.  Marriage can, and will reach a boiling point from time to time.  But our basket survived, and somehow there is healthy symbolism in its damaged, yet functioning top.

  unnamed

Life is Hard, But God is Good

Marriage has its challenges not so much because it is intrinsically difficult, but because it takes place in the middle of every other part of life.  Better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health is the broader context for our vows.  And being poor {not rich}, facing long-term illness {not health}, living through the worse {not better} years, can be discouraging, and will easily force to the surface the integrity of married vows.

We were not meant to “do” marriage alone, as solitary units.  We have a God who has gone before us and who stands behind us in all of the intricacies of family life.

We trust His goodness, and not our own.  We rely on His grace, because we will run out.

And we rest our confidence in His faithfulness, because He alone will enable us to be faithful, ’til death do us part.

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Blessing of Family Dinner & {Family Conversation Jar}

photo family dinner

Do you remember family dinners?

I do.  From toddler-hood, my siblings and I {all 5 of us} were expected to sit through family meals.  But in particular, evening dinners were non-negotiable in participation.  Dinner-time was sit-down.  But mostly, dinner-time was focused time to bond as a family.

Our meals were never extravagant.  My Mom still jokes about stretching a pound of ground beef between all 7 of us, to keep finances in order.  But the conversation during meal times, was rich beyond words.  And to this day, I credit talking though dinner one of the key formative experiences of my childhood.

Each night the pace varied.  Sometimes we would read a book together.  Often, we would share stories from our days.  One time, we were tasked with taking turns writing reports to present to the family, as my parents felt like the family was in a negative-chatter rut.

family bible

But always, my Dad opened the Bible and we read.  Sometimes just a few verses, but time in the Bible was stone-set.  And we followed reading with family prayer.

Every night without fail, my parents maintained this small but critical thread in our routine.  In fact, I can still recall my Mom sadly wondering about how to continue our tradition when we were teenagers with cars and jobs – it had become such a part of us.

When Pat and I married, we set out to fight for the value of family dinner.  Not for any heightened moral sense, but due to the healthy impact we knew it to be.  Though our routine is a tad different, nonetheless family dinner and worship is our daily groove now, too.  The kids are old enough to participate, and so sometimes, we let them lead.  Other times we rotate turns praying.  But always, we read a portion of the Bible aloud to them.

These evening times together are often the spaces where vulnerability and need is revealed.  These collections of time are where we get to know our kids better and deeper.  And we all go to bed a little stronger, because of the mutual bond of sharing and knowing we are supported.

My friend Christina, has designed a wonderful printable I want to share with you today, in the hope that it might assist any of you who are desiring to create a more intimate setting for family dinners.  Christina has designed a PDF called The Family Conversation Jar.  The Family Conversation Jar is a collection of questions that can be used at meal times, to encourage conversation in a family.

 

Conversation-791x1024

This list is a prompt, meant to initiate healthy talking, and perhaps create a new way of experiencing dinner together.  I have printed this list off, and hope to utilize it this Summer.   I find that many nights we talk about and pray about the same items – which is certainly not a bad thing- but I do want the kids to think beyond the “same old”, too.

If you find that your dinner-time or family-time is lagging, consider printing off Christina’s PDF.  You can do so by clicking here.

30 crockpot meals

And as a little extra boost, above you click here to find a link to 30 easy crock-pot meals.  So often, lack of time is what eats away at our family growth.  But time is gained in such simple ways.  And the crock-pot has got to be one of the best means of simplification that God has given us :).

Consider developing a plan for family dinners as a powerful piece of your defense plan for your children.  A study performed recently compared 2 groups of teenagers: those who ate family dinners two or less times per week, and those who ate family dinners five or more times per week.  And here is what it found:

Teenagers who ate family dinner two or less times per week were:

  • Three times more likely to try marijuana.
  • Two-and-a-half times more likely to smoke cigarettes.
  • One-and-a-half times more likely to drink alcohol.

In addition, the study revealed that more frequent family dinners produced children who experienced:

  • Lower levels of family tension.
  • Teenagers who more often said that their parents are proud of them.
  • Teenagers who more often said that they can confide in their parents about a serious problem.

I am so grateful for the effort my parents poured into defending our dinner table.  Because in essence, they were defending us.  Our characters.  Our futures.  And though at the time, we wriggled and balked sometimes against what felt like a strict boundary, I can see now that family dinners saved us from a great deal.

family dinner 2

One last link above, meant to simplify dinner plans.

Now go turn the crock-pot on!


Parenting Older Kids {A Series of Untidy Packages}

little gifts

I was recently intrigued by a conversation some friends had about the social-media hush from Moms with older kids.  We tossed some thoughts around – but the consensus we came to about our more mature Mom-friends went something like this:

Raising older kids is not a series of pretty little packages.

The baby years are tough in their own rite.  No new mother would claim that her existence is anything but taxing.  Very quickly it is learned that your life is lassoed by these tiny people, and you are ruled and reigned by them.  Yet, in most of these moments there are sweet and innocent themes.  After all, a toddler is a toddler and at the end of the day, you are still kissed with sticky hands pressing against your face.

But Moms of older kids are drowning in a different pond altogether.

One of my children recently remarked: Mom, sometimes I feel like you enjoy nagging me.   And though there was prompt addressing and forgiveness asked, nonetheless these are the types of statements kids with maturing understanding level.

It is sobering to sit beneath the razor-sharp mirrors of their growing discernment.

 

gumball stirrers

The Cute Factor

So where are the Moms of tweens and teens?  In a quick scan of Facebook statuses and blogs, it is easy to note that most updates of any sort come from the little-years camp.

We are just beginning to dip our toes into life with bigger kids.  But already, there is more at stake.  Our fear is greater.  Our concern for their future is greater.  The future always felt so far away, but suddenly it is looming on the horizon.  And sadly, there are already a handful of regrets trailing behind.  So, there is simply no time to waste.

But it is also not as cute in the bigger-kid years.

It is not cute having to install open DNS on a computer, so that pornography cannot destroy your children.

It is not cute to find a man old enough to be her grand-father, following your daughter on Pinterest.

It is not cute to note character concerns which will affect them down the road, and realizing your reign of influence is limited in its power to harness them.

 

ice cream bars

And yet, I wouldn’t trade these years for anything.  For as I have grown to see, as I raise them, they are raising me.

My sin used to be better buried beneath piles of paper drawings of “me with Mom”.   The affirmation was constant, and the trust unchallenged.

But, since they are developing consciences of their own, they are bringing to light what I would prefer not to see.

But isn’t that always the way with sin?  We only acknowledge it if we have to.  And bigger kids force our hand in the arena of sin and repentance.

Moms of Older Kids need a Different Kind of Faith

As I arrived at the airport a few days ago, I stood next to several couples who appeared to be jetting off on honeymoons. It was fun watching them- all body contact and whispers and smiles.  Newlyweds have made promises which they fully intend to keep, but the faith in the marriage they have begun is vastly different than the faith that will keep them married.

They just do not realize it yet.

cupcake straw

Likewise, the faith that Moms with tiny kids possess, is exactly what is needed.  But that faith is much different still than the faith it takes to not give up as big kids begin to flex the muscles in their minds and wills.

As my own children become older, I can anticipate the temptation to disappear.  Especially on days where every drop of emotional energy has been wrung out. But I come back to Satan in the desert.  Standing with Jesus, he knew the opportunity was great.  You can have all this, he motioned.  Because he is conniving, he knew the wide-open vulnerability of solitude.

Likewise, a solitary Mom is a desert.  She is lonely, discouraged, and maybe even hiding her fears and inadequacies by staying where no one can see her.

But part of continuing to help our kids get to the next step, is leaning on one another.

We might go a few inches under-ground when it comes to social media- and perhaps this is even wise- but we need to stay above ground in our willingness to reach out and ask: Can you pray for me?

There is a marked powerlessness in walking solo.

But there is great power in humbly relying on a village of other parents to help you raise your child.

 

 

 


Guest Post by Grace: Why I am not “Lucky”, but Thankful to be Home with my Children

 

Today my sister, Grace, writes about the word “lucky”, in regard to raising small children at home.  I think you will enjoy her thoughts on this topic, as she addresses thoughts I have heard others wrestle with.  Enjoy hearing from Grace today!

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Since becoming a mom, I have been told that I am “lucky” to stay at home.

Our desire and our decision that I stay at home with our girls is not a luck-based decision, but rather a well thought-out and purposeful choice.  Here is a little history as to why I am thankful, but not “lucky” to stay home.

*****

 In 2006 I met Justin.  It was love at first sight. It was also very intense from the beginning.  He was 5 years older than me, and knew he wanted to get married.  Fast.  We had many very intentional discussions covering everything from faith, to theology, to our future marriage and family.  We both agreed we wanted a traditional family.  He would work and I would stay at home.  After past relationships where this had been an area of dispute, he was thrilled to find that we were on the same page.

Justin once told me he had given up thinking there was a woman in the world who wanted to stay at home.

 

grace wedding

We were married in 2007.  I still had not finished school.  I moved from Tennessee to Justin’s home in Georgia.  I started the admission process at a local school.  Through a lot of really hard and emotional conversations we decided I would not continue to pursue my Social Work major.  A 21st century woman, without a degree.

The reality was that I wanted to be a mom.

In 2008 I got pregnant with Cora, and gave birth to her in 2009.  So began my long-awaited vocation as a stay-at-home mom. And let me tell you: I was really silly enough to think it was going to be the dreamy, romantic, fictional job it’s made up to be.  I thought I would have wonderful days of pink dresses and bonnets, long walks in the sunshine, my perfect baby on my somewhat larger hips.

cora easter

Instead I spent day-after-day, night-after-night, hour-after-hour with a screaming baby, one that never slept. I cried a lot. I was so lonely and I became very depressed.  Suddenly, the life I had chosen seemed to be the very worst choice I could have made.  The constant,loud, relentless, never-can-have-enough-patience career called being a full-time mom.

My only means of survival was the ever-present help of our good and gracious God.

It was during this first year of being a mom that He began to break and refine me in ways I did not think possible.  If I was going to be a good mom, I was going to have to change.  I was going to need to learn to live day-by-day and hour-by-hour with never ending neediness and no one to lift or relieve me of that need. I was going to need to learn to meet needs with kindness, with love, with patience.  I was going to need to choose joy when all I felt was failure.

 

grace and e

So as I began mothering two girls I faced the next big hurdle.  Humility.

The reality that staying-at-home does not guarantee a good or perfect child.  Actually, it also does not guarantee that I am a good mom.

Just like any other job it takes hours of intentional time and planning.  It takes constant hard work-both mental and physical.

I recently had a talk with a dear friend.  She was facing the reality of going back to work…having to leave her two boys.  She is an amazing mom and I reminded her of how blessed her boys are to have her as their mommy.  She is so intentional and loving. They know that they are her priority. I can be at home all day long but if I don’t pour into my children, then what use is my being with them?  I don’t have someone looking over my shoulder asking me, “Is it done yet?  Have you finished it? Is it done right?”  I have to be my own accountability.  That is not easy.

As Justin left for work yesterday, Cora was crying.   Elinor was going three places at once, and the house was already in total disorder.  He cracked the door and he said, “You have the harder job.”  

 

grace and girls

Do I really have the harder job?  No, not every day, but maybe yesterday my day was harder and maybe today his job will be harder.  It really doesn’t matter.  We don’t live life to prove we have it harder, that we do more than the other person…we live to glorify Him.

Would I say I am blessed to stay at home?

Absolutely.

Am I thankful to stay-at-home?

Yes.

Would I say I am lucky to stay at home?   No, because the definition of luck is: success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.

grace girls

I give thanks to God for his sovereign will to put me in our home, in our town, as wife to Justin and full-time mom to Cora and Elinor.

A job I pray I carry out in grace, in gentleness, in patience, in humility, and intentionality, that I might glorify Him.

 


Miss Kay Robertson: “I Told God that I would FIGHT for my Marriage”

phil-robertson-i-am-second

By now, we are all familiar with the Robertson Family, A & E network’s Duck Dynasty royalty.

Miss Kay, Willie and Jace have nearly become household names as they chronicle their lives as business owners and as members of a tight-knit family.

Theirs is large, happy,  and functioning unit- full of quirks and resulting humor which makes them easily identifiable.  But the Robertson’s are perhaps best-known for their Christian convictions. They are strong advocates for traditional family.  And they are equally determined in their outlook on marriage

Kay-Robertson-300x200

To look at the Robertson family, you might assume that theirs has been a “simple” journey of boy-meets-girl meets the American Dream.

But written behind the story-line of what we all see on television, is a back-story.    A story of a 14 year-old girl,alone and vulnerable.  Married at 16 to a 17 year-old boy, angry and addicted to alcohol.  A girl kicked out of her house by this self-destructive husband, left to fend for herself and her three little boys.

A teenage-Mom, lost and found by God, when brought to the end of herself.

duck-dynasty shot

Kay Robertson vowed as a young woman, “I will FIGHT for this marriage”.  And fight she did.  Praying each night with her young sons, Kay begged God to change her husband’s heart.  To work repentance into him.  And over the course of months, God began to work in Phil.  One day he showed up at the house where his family was living, wanting his family back.

He was changed.

As Phil Robertson claims of his new-found understanding of the Gospel:  “It was profound.  That Jesus had died, been buried and rose again.  I had never heard that before”.

“I decided I was going to live as hard for God and my neighbor, as I had been living for the Evil One”.

Profile-Black-Kay-Robertson

Phil and Kay began working to put together a solid marriage.  And Phil slowly began to earn his family’s trust.  “Is the Devil is going to leave Dad this time?” the boys would ask at times, insecure in their trust of their Daddy.  But Phil and Kay persevered.  And slowly, they built a family.

“It takes a lot of time to learn the fruits of the Spirit: to be patient and kind”, Kay acknowledges.  But God was with them in their “fight”.  And ultimately, His love won.

Phil and Kay have been married now for 47 years now.  And Kay still calls Phil the “love of my life”.

Yesterday, I wrote about the ease with which divorce is handled in our culture.  But today, a journey of a nearly-broken marriage, redeemed by a gracious Savior.

Phil and Kay Robertson’s story is inspiring, because ultimately, their is a story of all of us.

Of being lost, and then found by God’s incredible, saving grace.

 


Lizzie Valasquez, the “Ugliest Woman in the World”: A TRUE Beauty Hero

ugliest woman

While Kim Kardashian is hard at work building her empire- including her {nearly} one million-dollar make-up room –  there are women embracing a much different approach to beauty.

And Lizzie Valasquez is one of them.  Lizzie’s story is remarkable – both for its unimaginable pain, but equally for her courageous response to that pain.

Yesterday, we met Kim.  But today, let’s meet Lizzie.

*****

Imagine it is an ordinary afternoon.  You are 11 years old and just home from school.  Finishing up a snack, you sit down at the computer and begin visiting your regular sites.  And you click over to YouTube.  YouTube is a favorite, and there is always something entertaining to be found.

And then you see it.   A video with your name on it.  How strange.  You cannot recall posting anything.

Curious, you click on the video.  And there, an 8-second clip without sound.  Just a still-shot of your face.

A single image.  And underneath your photo, the caption:

“Ugliest Woman in the World”.

ugliest woman2

You reel in shock.  In horror.  Your mind cannot process what you are seeing.

Is this a hoax?

You scroll down a little bit more, and glance to the right of the video clip.  And there you see it:

4 million views.

4 million people have found a YouTube site in your name, entitled world’s ugliest woman.

You scroll the comments for clarity.  You are confused.  Surely this is a terrible, cruel joke.

But it is not.  In those comments are remarks so vicious, you are knocked breathless.  There are suggestions as to how you can kill yourself.  Jokes about your abnormalities.  And offers to assist you in your suicide.  Because, you know, you are so ugly.

Not one comment has been made in your defense.

Photo courtesy of: {www.wonderfullymade.org}

Photo courtesy of: {www.wonderfullymade.org}

 What does an 11 year-old girl do with a cruelty imposed on her like this?

Well, at first you cry.  You cry for yourself, for your broken heart.  And you cry for your Mom, because when she finds you, her mother’s heart will split in impossible pain.  You weep for a cruelty you cannot comprehend.

But then, if you are Lizzie, you grow contemplative.  And you turn over in your mind what might be gained in an innocence that has been lost.

If you are Lizzie, you wipe your tears and then, you get to work.

Identifying an inner determination, you decide to channel it and raise a flag in honor of true beauty.

Ugliest Woman3

If you are Lizzie, you stand up in the face of cultural beauty-mandates, and you dare to re-define them.

You stand up for yourself, because in so doing you stand for others who have yet to find their voices.  And step by small step, you begin to change things.

You walk onto a stage in front of high-school students drowning in insecurity, and you show them that beauty is found in what God has made.  Nothing is without value that He has made, you say.

And people begin to see what God sees.  Their minds grow bigger.  Their hearts grow softer.

And you, the “ugliest woman in the world”, become a living illustration that He makes everything beautiful in its time.

In your determined, heroic beauty you show that sometimes it just takes people a little while to see it.

 

 

 

 


TRUE Beauty and the Lie that Kim Kardashian Believes

tarte photo

When is the last time that you had 3 hours a day or $20,000 a month to spend on your beauty routine?

This, a record of annual time and money spent by a well-known Hollywood celebrity –  and this number just the cost to maintain body and face.

In fact, according to a recent statistic, more money is now spent in the United States each year on beauty, than is spent on education and social services combined.

A fit, trim figure is now the expectation for women on into their 50’s and 60’s.  The cosmetics industry waves its fist at us and warns: Do not age.  You are not supposed to, nor are you allowed to.

nail polish

Yet, we are aging.  Each year, we succumb a little more to gravity’s pull, struggling to keep ourselves buoyant, fresh and youthful.

Culture has introduced an unfair fight, and as our consumer-dollars convey, we are more than willing to participate.

So does the Bible offer any wisdom to women as to how we should perceive beauty?

Or are we left alone to battle a message of: Looks Matter? 

 

Confronting The Lie

We cannot help but be aware of reality star, Kim Kardashian. And according to entertainment news, the celebrity is up to something new.  Kim is building a house!  And as part of the design, her new space is to include a “glam-room” where Kardashian can apply her make-up.

 

kim kardashian hat

Price-tag for the room where Kim will become glamorous?

$870,000.

To state it lightly, Kim Kardashian’s life is hardly about reality!

Traeling to the Garden of Eden, we see that the very first curse to fall on humanity was that of deception. Satan whispered untruth to Eve, and since that time, the world has been under a curse of whisperings of its own- of lies that pose as truth.

One of the primary lies spun to women, is that perfect beauty can be attained.  And if it is not, we are destined to be miserable.

As Carolyn Mahaney observes in her book, True Beauty, Satan is in charge of a master-mind plan, intended to distort our beauty-reality.  Placing trust and hope in our physical beauty, Mahaney warns, is to fall for Satan’s original Ponzi scheme.

true beauty

You may remember the Lehman Brothers, notorious for embezzling billions of dollars out of Wall Street accounts.

Well, they came, they lied, they conquered.

We cannot afford to invest our own theology of beauty in a house of cards.

 

A Theology of Beauty

What is a right theology of beauty? 

My friend, Gloria likes to say that: Women don’t have time for false hope.  And nowhere do these words ring truer than in the sphere of culturally-imposed beauty standards.

  inner self beauty

Let’s re-visit the Garden of Eden for a moment and engage with the truth.

Does it astound you that upon completing the work of creation, God stood back and declared everything: GOOD?

Nowhere in Genesis do we encounter a God standing back, declaring Eve BETTER  – as though a few tweaks, stitches and augmentations might make her complete.  No, God declared Eve GOOD because she was made according to His creative design.  In His image, for His good purpose.

Your body and face likewise, delight our God.  His is a meaningful and unique creating, with purpose mapped out in every freckle, with every extra pound.

you are beautiful

 

So, Now What?

Don’t we love to parrot phrases to our girls?  Like, it’s what is on the inside that counts.  But in order to be substantive, confident women, there must be something on the inside or they {and we} will be led swiftly astray in our thinking.

 

set you free

The prophet, Zephaniah is just one man who speaks of God’s joy in His people :

The Lord your God is with you.  He is mighty to save.  The Lord will take GREAT DELIGHT in you.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will REJOICE over you with singing.

Self-acceptance is based in a God who delights in us- mind, soul and body– and it cannot be bought.  Kim Kardashian’s millions can never purchase what God freely gives.

But we know better.  By God’s grace, we have the Truth. 

And the TRUTH will set us free.

 

 

 


How a Treehouse Reminded Me to Put Down my Phone

A bright yellow sunbeam pattern on vintage paper.

Recently, I was driving home from my son’s robotics class.  As usual, we were enjoying the sunshine on an open country road.  Just ahead of us, traffic slowed down for a moment as a school bus ground to a stop.  Its doors opened, and a girl -12 or 13- stepped out.  She reminded me of my daughter – back-pack, pony-tail, tennis shoes.  But what intrigued me most as I looked her direction was not her, so much as what lay just past the house she was walking toward.

Just to the right of her gravel driveway was a tree-house.  A well-designed tree-house, yet one beginning to show its age.  Boards warping.  Wood dulling.  Paint peeling.  Beneath the trees were a handful of stray pieces of ply-wood that had fallen  and were lying, forgotten.  And as traffic picked up again, I was left to contemplate:

Once upon a time, that tree-house was new and the girl was small and excited.  And now she is grown, and the tree-house is worn.  And the years are over.  Fast.  So fast.

treehouse steps

 

Put the Phone Down

NPR recently posted an article on plugged-in parents.  Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician specializing in child development, has become concerned about the digital generation’s parenting, and set aside a Summer to observe families.  She and two other researchers studied 55 sets of parents in restaurant settings, finding that 44 sets of parents pulled out their phones immediately upon being seated.

“They looked at it, scrolled on it and typed for most of the meal, only putting it down intermittently.”  Not surprisingly, Radesky also noted that of those 44 sets of plugged-in parents, behavior in their children was more disruptive and chaotic than in the families whose parents were not plugged in.

emma brown dress

 

Plug into Your Kids

What will be the long-term effects on a generation raised by constantly distracted parents?

There is no way to know, but here are 2 primary concerns I have:

1.  Children will not feel validated and listened to, while little.  This will create ambivalence in their minds as to parental authority in the older years.  After all, if Mom has always texted her friends before responding to your need, and if Dad has always said: Hang on a sec, while he scrolled his Twitter feed, why would a response of parental validation suddenly develop in a child?

Children require enormous amounts of encouragement and affirmation.  And there is room for little beyond a response of irritability in a parent who is endlessly plugged in.

will green shirt

2.  Children will find answers independently.  There is no room for conversation in a room with a Mom and her phone.  Uh-huh, is the response.  Just a minute, the constant reply.  But kids will not wait til your thumbs stop texting, to grow and develop.  Their minds are always on and ready to engage.  They are naturally inquisitive and insatiably curious, eager always to piece together information about the world they live in.

Parents are needed to read, to think, to respond, to ask questions back.  Children will demand answers, and if their parents come up empty, they will find answers somewhere.  Among friends, Internet, their own phones.

But this begs the question: Do we really want them looking? 

Back to the Treehouse

What does any of this have to do with a treehouse?  Well, once upon a time, the middle-school girl stepping off the bus, was little.  But now she is not.

As Sally Clarkson reminds, the second law of thermo-dynamics states that all things are plodding along, yet wearing out as they go.  Your kids’ child-hoods are not forever.  And they are wearing out, as they get closer to adult-hood.

There are some things we should live to regret: our sin, our harsh anger, our poor choices and our arrogant words.  But there are other things we should fight to protect from regret.

And our kids’ childhoods, full of life, love and listening, are one of them.

 

 

 

 

 


Mother’s Day Giveaway: { The Ministry of Motherhood and a $5 Starbucks Giftcard}

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 Nancy Leigh De Moss asked the question best:

Have you ever considered that in becoming a mother, you have been called to a ministry?

Have you though about motherhood like that- as a ministry?  Or is ministry something you are waiting to do when the kids are a little older and you can leave the house?

These were questions entrenched in my mind as my youngest was little and I was contemplating a new life of serving, and yes, a life of ministry.  And so it was no accident when I happened upon Sally Clarkson’s The Ministry of Motherhood, while at Barnes and Noble one day.

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I could sense that in reading The Ministry of Motherhood, I was going to be led.  But what I did not expect was to be mentored and inspired, through the gentle grace of the woman behind the pages.  Sally Clarkson has a tremendous gift.  Not only is she an engaging writer, but she is wise and she is kind.  Do I know her personally?  I do not.  But there are writers who convey their sensitivity with every word, and Sally Clarkson is one of them.

In reading The Ministry of Motherhood, it was as if layers of discouragement were lifted from me.  Rather than feeling stuck in the monotony of so many same days, I was inspired, renewed and compelled to embrace this sameness- to recognize it as ministry life. 

Last week, I emailed Sally in the hope that she might respond to 2 questions I wished to ask her.  I was eager to give her book away, but I wanted her two cents’ worth on the passion behind her writing.   So, imagine my delight when she not only responded quickly, but was open to sharing her thoughts on the mission behind The Ministry of Motherhood.

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I asked Sally:

What inspired you to write The Ministry of Motherhood?

I felt that the vision for motherhood had been lost and diminished in our culture and even in our churches. I wanted to write a book that would inspire and equip mothers to have confidence and empowerment to truly love, inspire and build the souls of their children with godliness and faith. I wanted them to have a book that would give them handles on how to approach this great task each day.

What do you hope women will gain through reading your book?

When women have a vision for how powerful an influence they can have on their children, and even on generations to come, by training, loving and discipling them, they will have energy to make each day meaningful in light of eternity.

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Are you in need of encouragement?  Do you feel the need to be mentored?

If so, this book is for you.  Sally Clarkson will motivate you.   She will draw you to a deeper walk with God.  She will leave you feeling more directed in your mothering, more purposeful and refreshed.

And she will remind you continually, that ministry to your family is the highest calling.  As she states so honestly:

“I always wanted to be a hero–to sacrifice my life in a big way one time–and yet, God has required my sacrifice to be thousands of days, over many years, with one more kiss, one more story, one more meal.”

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If you are thick in the middle of the ministry years to your family, or if you are a few stages beyond and would like to give this book to a younger friend who needs encouragement, please enter the Giveaway for The Ministry of Motherhood.

Oh, and because books are lonely without drinks, I am also including a $5 Starbucks gift-card with this book.

You may enter the giveaway in one of 2 ways:  1.  Click over to the Facebook page.  “Like” the page and share the link on your FB page.  2.  Comment at the end of this blog post, stating why you would enjoy this book.  3.  Email me at foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com, and state why you would enjoy winning this book.

Sadly, due to high international postage rates, the hard copy of this Giveaway and the enclosed Starbucks gift-card is open to US residents only.  However, if you are Canadian, please enter and if you win, I will send you the Kindle or Nook copy of the book, instead.

I will announce the winner on Monday morning.

Happy Friday, all!


10 Recommended Resources for Family Devotions

{www.foryourtomorrow.net}

{www.foryourtomorrow.net}

 

As Christian parents, we are instructed to raise our children in the fear and understanding of God.  This admonition seems simple enough, until our little ones arrive, wriggling and squirming.  And we are surpassed in energy level, and tapped out nearly every moment.

Standing in the aisles of the bookstore looking through Bibles and devotionals, might seem like just one more impossible thing to do.  In honor of your limited time and energy, here is a list of 10 family-worship resources that we have found helpful over the past years.  Many of these sources were recommended to us by older parents when we were starting out, and have proven extremely helpful.

1.  The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes

Kenneth Taylor’s “Baby Bible”, as we termed it, is a wonderful beginner Bible.  Taylor masterfully combines both simple teaching and beautiful, engaging illustrations.  This Bible is an excellent place for 2- 3 year old’s to begin learning.

 

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2.  My First Bible

My First Bible combines longer stories than Baby Bibles, and uses bright and fun illustrations.  Yet, its content remains true and un-compromised.  This is a great place for 3- 4 year-old’s to learn.

 

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3.  Big Truths for Little Kids

Big Truths For Little Kids, written by Susan Hunt, teaches concepts from the Westminster Catechism, using stories from the lives of 3 young friends- Cassie, Caleb and Daniel.  Throughout the book are application questions which can be asked of readers, which I found very helpful.  This book is a great place for 4 and 5 year-old children to learn.

 

 

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4.  Leading Little Ones to God

Leading Little Ones to God, by Miriam Schooland, is a combination of Bible stories told in a captivating style.  Schooland weaves together great truths, but retains a very casual style so that readers remain engaged.  Leading is a great place for 6 and 7 year-olds to learn.

 

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5.  Jesus Storybook Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, burst onto the devotional scene several years ago, to excellent reviews.  My children agreed.  This Bible masterfully weaves stories with beautiful illustrations, and points the reader to the necessity of Christ’s death with every chapter.  This Bible is a valuable place for 5- 8 year-old children to learn.

 

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6.  Missionary Stories with the Millers

Missionary Stories With the Millers is one we have read through several times now.  A combination of stories of those who have served on the mission field, each chapter is both fascinating and inspiring.  Children need heroes, and this book supplies them.  Missionary Stories is a place where children of all ages will grow.  My youngest to my oldest still enjoy these beautiful accounts.

 

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7.  Hero Tales

Hero Tales, by Dave and Neta Jackson, is another collection of missionary stories our family has enjoyed.  Told in a simple, but engaging style, this book walks readers through the lives of several Christians who lived boldly and courageously.  Hero Tales is a family book, for all ages.  My children of varying stages all enjoyed hearing this book read aloud.

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8.  The Seeds CD Collection 

I do not know how many hours we have spent, driving around hearing “The Word of the Lord Stands Forever!”, but it has been more than an handful.  The Seeds CD Collection is selected Scripture verses set to music.  Catchy and fun, this collection is divided up into character traits- courage, faith, praise.  Each CD has 10-15 songs that will set your children to learning Scripture.  We have loved these.  {As an added bonus, each CD comes with a second copy, meant to be given away, so that others can learn too}.

 

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9.  The Jesus Storybook Bible DVD Collection

While on the subject of media, the Jesus Storybook Bible recently released an accompanying DVD collection.  I cannot speak well enough of these.  Beautifully presented.  Engaging.  Lovely to listen to.  My 4 year-old has enjoyed and benefited from this collection.  These DVD’s are a great place for younger children to learn – however, if played in the car with a captive audience, I am certain all of the kids would gain from them.

 

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10.  The Story Bible for Older Children

It is difficult to find content that is complex enough for older children, and yet easy to listen to.  The Story Bible for Older Children is an excellent resource for fleshing out biblical accounts, without watering down content.  The Story Bible has 2 volumes- Old Testament and New Testament.  We are working our way through the Old right now.  I cannot recommend this Bible enough.  It has sparked many conversations, and it has taught thoroughly.  This Bible is meant for older children – so would be best suited for ages 7 and up.  I cannot recommend this Bible enough!

 

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For more resources we have enjoyed for teaching our children, please visit my Family Worship page on Pinterest.

What about you?  What resources would you recommend for use in family devotions?  

I would love to hear!  Email me at: foryourtomorrowblog@gmail.com

Happy Friday, all!

Looking forward to being here again, on Monday.