Sunday, July 22, 2012

Falling Food - Growing Grace

We have all seen it before...
the slapstick comedy of someone slipping from a little bit of water on the floor
 and losing their balance and crashing to the ground
literally throwing the food in the air as the arms flail and the bottom bits hard.

Yes, it is quite funny when we see it on TV, but quite another story when it happens to you - 
At Panera.
Just now.
In a skirt.
And not just dropping the dishes, but breaking the dishes!

The funny thing is only one person asked if I was alright, except the manager who was probably scared that I would sue over the water on the ground.

Only one person said, "Are you okay?"

It reminds me of the story in Matthew about the lepers.  After Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to say thank you.  

I think I even talked about this one before.  Wow, when out of all the stories in the Bible, the same one comes up in the matter of days, maybe it is time to start listening!

Only one person stepped out of his comfort zone to see if I was okay.  And I was, except for a bruised boompee (our name for bottom) and hurt leg.

When I went to my table, I got sympathetic glances and a couple averted eyes, but no one else asked if I was okay.

This is my challenge to you and me to go beyond the "Are you okay?"

To really care about another person.  Beyond convenience.
 Beyond time.  Offering rides even if you are busy.  Offering meals even though you do not like to cook.  Offering time even though you think you have none to give.  

The girl who is struggling with fitting in?  Ask her if she is okay and invite her over.
The child who seems to need attention all the time.  Ask if he is okay and make intentional time to play a game with him.
The husband who is working way too hard.  Ask him if he is okay and plan for a special date night to be able to renew his spirit.

Go beyond okay...and you will find yourself in a place where all you can do is to say thank you to the One who created you to do good works that bring glory to Him.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his love endures forever.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Tips and Tricks for Keeping Kids Busy

Hey Friends!

Some people say July 4th is only the beginning of summer.  For me, it seems like the middle of the summer and I only have a few more weeks until I have to start thinking about school.  That means only a few more weeks of a less hectic and more relaxed schedule for my children!

But look at the calendar...  it's past July 4th, July 18th to be exact, my daughter's 12th birthday, and I am determined to make the last half of the summer even better than the first.

The middle of the summer means bringing out the special things to keep the kids busy and not whining the ever popular summer mantra, "Mom, what can I do?  I'm bored!"

I hope this encourages you to put  joy into every MOMent you have this summer!

Here are Three "Ps" to Beat Summer Boredom Blues: 

Physical Activity

Nothing gets a mind off boredom more than using your body!

Try these healthy body activities:

1.  Obstacle Course - whether it is run around the outside of house three times, do five jumping jacks, and touch a tree or even better have your kids make one up for each other, this will get the blood pumping and the boredom blues go away.

2.  Take a Family Fun Walk - Walk around the neighborhood and alternate between skipping, jumping, hopping, and even walking backwards.

3.  Roller Derby - Get those wheels a running!  Skate, rollerblade, ripstick, or even big wheel between marked lines with a finish line!

4.  Dance Off - Even your boys can get into this competition of turning up the music and dancing until the music stops.  If you catch someone still moving, they are out until the next round.  Winner gets to show off a new dance move!

5.  Hard Labor - Okay, maybe not so hard, but definitely some work...get the kids involved in washing the car, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden.  You will get some chores done while giving the child a sense of accomplishment.

6.  Summer Olympics - Get your kids involved with their own version of this summer's biggest event including synchronized sprinkler routines, tennis ball balancing, or gymnastics by moonlight.  Tell them to be creative and you will be sure to be a good audience for performance time!

Prepare for Fun

The summer months can seem long, but it can be the perfect time to get some creative projects done for the rest of the year when it seems too busy to complete craft time!

1.  Make Christmas gifts - Get your list made and make gifts this year.  You will cure the boredom blues AND get your Christmas gift getting done early.

Creative Paper Bookmarks
Wooden Block Photo Frames
Scrapbook for the Grandparents
Photo Calendar
Bead Necklaces, Bracelets, or Earrings
Assembled Bird Houses, Garden Planters

Here are some Craft Project Sites to get you started:

  1. – extremely comprehensive list sorted by holiday, theme, materials, or topic
  2. The Best Kids Book Site – also has a huge crafting section
2.  Make a meal together - Double the recipe and bring a blessing meal to someone who is going through a tough time or even just another mom who needs a break.  Your children will learn math through measuring, a life skill of cooking , and more importantly, the character shaping skill of serving another family!

3.  Make your own vacation itinerary -   Get your kids involved in deciding what to do on your next vacation. Have older kids plan out gas stops or souvinier costs.  Have younger kids look through pictures and pick where they want to  visit.

Complete the activity with your own travel guide or animal pamphlet. Younger kids can get stuffed animals involved in this part!

Bookmark these sites for quick exploring!

  1. National Geographic Kids
  2. NASA Kids Activities
  3. Animal Planet
  4. Discovery Kids

Practice Perfect Presentation:

Okay, this one has three "p"s all by itself, but the philosophy is still the same.  This is all about making the ordinary special and making the kids do it!

1.  Snack Time turns into Happy Cafe - Have your kids make menus, signs, and even prepare the snacks to turn an everyday detail into something fun!

2. Have Breakfast Outside - Not just the eating part, but finding it!  Hang tiny cereal boxes in the trees, hang small spoons, and cartons of milk from individual branches.  Set your children out to find their own food!  Older kids can prepare this for the younger ones.

3.  Lemonade Stand - This is a classic  time waster fun activity for children.  Add homemade brownies, cookies, and even give some of the profits to a special charity.  The research in finding the charity will be more than an educational learning is a chance to teach generosity to your children!

4. Campouts - Whether it is a real tent in the yard or a sheet hung between chairs in the basement, have the kids set up "camp" with blankets and books to read by flashlights.

5. Dessert of the Day - Give each child a chance to pick out and create a special dessert with mom.  This not only gives needed intentional time with one child, it also gives a little variety to the standard popsicle dessert of summer!

This is just the beginning in Summer Tips and Tricks!  I know you have some to share as well.  I would love to hear your creative ideas!  

And if you want to read even more...head on over to Hearts-At-Home where my blog will be linked today and other Hearts-At-Home bloggers will be sharing!

Just click here!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

National Treasure = The Gospel

We watched National Treasure 2 today.  Even though it was a beautiful day and almost everything inside me said I should be sending my kids out to play in the sun, the other part said I needed to follow through on watching this movie with them and we really needed to return it to my sister!

It is an action packed movie that combines accurate history with a fictional hold-onto-your-seat kidnapping of the president.  Actually the kidnapping is not all that seat gripping.  It is kind of a fun part of the movie.  The gripping part is the last 10 minutes when action meets heart and you are stuck between knowing it ends up good, but afraid to watch in case it doesn't.  In fact, one of my sons did not want to watch it.

"Tell me when it's over"  was his mantra.  For almost. Every. Part.
Keep in mind that although I was not making him watch any "scary" parts, I did encourage him by saying, "If you see the struggle, it makes the happy ending that much sweeter."  When you know all that Ben Gates, the main character, went through, you feel the joy at him finding the treasure ( or does he? ).

It is similar in our lives here on earth.  We must run the race that God has before us.  The race might be hard.  Trials, broken relationships, pain, fear, and hurt will come our way.  And when they do... (It is not an issue of "if," it is "when.")....  When they do,  God will help us get through them and it will be even more sweeter on the other side.  Through these trials, you will develop an intimacy with God that  most people do not come close to for you will lean on him with everything you have.

And though those trials will be hard, nothing comes close to the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross in order to give us eternal life with Him in Heaven.

There is a point in the movie where the characters have to make a choice of who to leave behind in order to save the others.  In the end, the choice is made for them.

The choice was made for us.  Jesus died for us.  It is not our choice.  He chose to die for our sins and without the Holy Spirit grabbing our hearts, we would never choose Him.  It is all Jesus.

All Jesus.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Finding Joy in Simplicity

Finding Joy in Simplicity

We visited some friends over the fourth of July.  A wonderful couple opened up their home to quite a haul of people!  We had a wonderful time catching up with people we cross paths with, but never get the time to really know what is going on in their lives.

The hostess of the day was a kind woman who is a self proclaimed minimalist.  Now, whenever I think of a minimalist, I think of a cold and sterile environment.  One that has grey blankets on the beds or dreary dim drapes.

This house had nothing of the sort.  It was warm and inviting, beautifully decorated with bold blue and bright white drapes in the kitchen and classic farmhouse toile in the bedrooms.  But I found that it wasn't  what was in the house that made it such a haven.  It was what you could not see.  The clutter of toys were organized in the closets, not all over the house.  The books all grouped together in shelves neatly stacked instead of strewn in every corner of every room.

When you entered the home, you felt a calmness.  A peace.  The hostess had a great quote:

"If I am going to be here all day, I want to love where I live."
 And it made me stop and think...

Do I love where I live?

And do my kids?

Do they feel a sense of peace?  A welcoming haven to rest their weary souls?  Not only in how clean and uncluttered the space may be, but also in my words, my tone, my touch?

In the Bible, God says to come to Him, all who are weary and tired and He will give you rest (Mathew 11:28-30). Only He can give the true rest and refreshment that brings joy and renewal to your soul, but I was reminded that He uses me to bring that renewal to my children, my husband, and all who enter my home. I thank my friend for her inspiring comment. I want to love where I live and have my children feel God's love in my home as well. What is one way you make your home a welcoming place? I would love to know!