Tag Archives: scripture

Protect the children

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When I read the paper on human trafficking and found that organ harvesting was one of the areas, primarily using children, I was completely appalled. I couldn’t imagine what that implicated because it was too deeply sad a thing to consider, and for my own peace of mind, I thought of it as something far away involving the lowest people on earth. Recently, however, Planned Parenthood has come into the news for finding some potential loophole in the law and using aborted babies for profit by harvesting and selling their organs. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood is funded by our government, aka our tax money.

For more information and ways to take a stand, here’s somewhere to start.

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James 1:27 (NIV)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Isaiah 1:23-25New International Version (NIV)

23 Your rulers are rebels,
    partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
    and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
    the widow’s case does not come before them.

24 Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
    and avenge myself on my enemies.
25 I will turn my hand against you;[a]
    I will thoroughly purge away your dross
    and remove all your impurities.

Chalkboard Scripture Art

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  I am about to make-over my chalkboard again and thought I’d post some of my previous boards. These were both Scripture passages that I needed to be reminded of and store up in my heart at that time…and still today!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 ESV

Love never Fails…and the rest of the story

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Is that not the sweetest capture of a whole-hearted, pint-sized hug? My niece, Bluebonnet, even has a little picked flower in her hand while she’s sharing a big goodbye hug with Pen Elaine. Photo cred to my sister, who has the photographer’s eye of an artist.

When I showed my Honey the photo, however, he told me the rest of the story – how the two besties had actually been fussing, with one not wanting to give hugs, too busy doing her own thing, and the other one getting irritated, etc. Eventually, they both came around in the same moment, and the magic happened.

I like this second photo of the two moments before the joint hug occurred…

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The funny thing to me, is that kids are totally used to this type of behavior. The little boy at the party who has a complete meltdown when it’s time to go can definitely turn out to be Pen Elaine’s secret crush when I later ask her about playing with her friends. The moment after Pen Elaine and her cousin Bluebonnet have fist-a-cuffs, they are whining not to have to leave each other and settle into some sweet pretend play with dolls that can last for hours. They just accept the good, the bad, and the ugly love each other just the same.

When I accidentally bumped poor Pen Elaine into a wall as a baby, I was reminded how we all struggle though this juggling act of loving each other well. I don’t have a story about bonking Snuggly Man, but I did dress him up as “Blue Boy” for his first Halloween 🙂

IMG_0583.JPGYou don’t have to be around kids very long to realize that we are born without knowing how to love other people well – between the fighting and not wanting to share and the jealousy – but they are also examples of love for family that is pure and simple. Instead of complicating their love with grudges and wanting to get even or make their point known, they love until they hate and then they forgive and go right back to unashamedly loving and enjoying. Sometimes, I inexplicably hold back my love, maybe after I feel I’ve been wronged or I’m punishing a wrong behavior or I’m just in a funk, but I don’t think kids typically or naturally engage in that type of conditional love. God is refining me in my motherhood, to remember that our love always fails but God’s love never fails. His love is wise and unconditional.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 NASB

Here are the sweet cousins pushing each other on the swings. I am reminded to lay down my life to the Lord as a love offering to Him, poured out by way of loving my kids and my husband without agenda or pride, just as I’m asking my daughter to do for her friends and family.

We are working on memorizing James 1:16-22 right now, as a reminder that God gives us good things…and as a reminder that only God can change hearts, not our anger or actions that come out of anger.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.d 18Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Hearing and Doing the Word

19Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves

James 3:17 New International Version

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Sharing French Fries

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No matter where you stand on the whole issue of feeding your just-about-1-year-old-kid french fries, that chubby little hand reaching out for a french fry from his big sister’s sweet little fingers just has to melt your heart…right? Everything in moderation. They were just so cute, I had to snap a photo – Pen Elaine happy to be sharing her treasure with a beloved little brother and Snuggly Man giddy with happiness and relief that she was giving him some of that french fry goodness. (Of course, he would have continued yelling at her until she chose to share food.) 2015/01/img_3558.jpg

More than just sharing french fries, I love watching this relationship blossom and grow, from my front row seat. Pen Elaine has always loved Snuggly Man, from the moment she knew about him and then met him, she has showered him with plenty of hands-on affection. We have early photos of her adoring gaze at his tiny, sleeping face as she holds him, propped up with pillows. She instantly embraced him as one of our family. When she worked tirelessly to set up our empty danactive smoothie containers for “bowling,” she accepted the price of playing with a crawling, little brother. 2015/01/img_3343.jpg

In her family drawings, all four of us get equal crayon-time and paper-space. 2015/01/img_2380.jpg

Over the past year or so, however, that love has deepened, faced with challenges of course, but now, I think she loves him not just because he is her cute baby brother, but she also loves him because she enjoys him as a person, not just a baby to hold. Her affection for him has grown into a friendship of mutual adoration. This really hit me the other morning, when the three of us were having a plastic tea party. Snuggly Man had managed to confiscate all three toy stir-spoons, one in each hand and one in his mouth. He was very happy with this accomplishment and was making happy little noises through his full mouth. When Pen Elaine noticed and realized his antics, she started laughing hysterically, giggling and making sure that I was witnessing the spectacle as well. It was the cutest thing, and of course, Snuggly Man’s pleasure at the setup increased tenfold with an appreciative audience. They were having this magic moment of sharing life.

This young sibling relationship, that I’m privileged to observe, paints a picture of free, unearned love and affection, with no strings attached. Snuggly Man adores Pen Elaine, always watching her and wanting to copy her antics. This is despite the fact that Pen Elaine has taken to tucking a bathrobe belt into the back of Snuggly Man’s shirt, so that it serves as a leash and makes him her puppy. Likewise, Pen Elaine wants Snuggly Man to be her playmate, so she tries to “lure” him into her room by showing him toys that he’ll want to play with; she wants him to be where she is, even when she has to take a bathroom break. It doesn’t matter that while he is in her room, he may try to rip any books left on the floor or spread all the play kitchen toys across the floor…This observation reminds me of the Charles Dickens quote:

“It is no small thing, when they, who are so fresh from God, love us. ”

This imperfect love has somehow been pointing me back to God’s perfect love. Their generously given love reminds me of the completely free gift of God’s grace. So often, I rationalize and overthink and secretly try to earn God’s love, forgetting that I am completely incapable of earning God’s favor because it has been freely given. I recently listened to Christine Hoover speak on this topic, and I was reminded how Jesus Christ took care of it all. What a relief.

Galatians 5:1-6

1It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

2Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. 4You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.

Galatians 2:16 & 20-21

nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified…“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

This delightful sibling relationship is echoed in the book Princess Penelope Takes Charge, by Todd Mack, and insightfully illustrated by Julia Gran. This sibling pair has a it more of a roller coater ride of affection at the star, but they come to appreciate each other as they grow and develop. This is a really fun read that we highly recommend, particularly for when a new baby is expected!!

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I had to include the following pic of Snuggly Man’s first time to tag along on a Starbucks date with Pen Elaine and me – we shared a mini scone with him, and he fully appreciated the outing. 2015/01/img_2295.jpg

Personalized “grandma” gifts

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So, we used these as Christmas gifts, but here’s some ideas for Mother’s Day or grandparents day, etc. I had seen another blogger paint handprints on little tea towels for the kitchen and matching hot pad, and I thought that was genius! To emulate, I bought hot pad sets from Walmart and looked up ideas for turning hand or footprints into art. Then, I let pen Elaine choose which cheesy artwork to use for our prints. We ended up with the heart shown above for a few, as well as a crab, some footprint birds (I decided to only use Snuggly Man’s feet after painting one with his hands.), and a dinosaur. They turned out cute and very personal!

For a card or photo display for my mom, I took a piece of finished out wood/sign from hobby lobby and glued on a wooden shape that Pen Elaine had already painted. Then, I wrote Deuteronomy 4:9 on there with paint- after hot glueing clothespins, spaced evenly, along the bottom. I determined spacing and placement by having a photo in them and marking my determined spots with pencil.

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Angry Little People

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Being a mom has changed my life, obviously, but some of the new experiences catch me by complete surprise. I am surprised that I can get angry at a 2-year-old…and that my 2-year-old would choose to be mean to other little kids. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised…

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The other day, we had a play date at a fast food playground with an old friend of mine, a mom of a little boy about the same age as Pen Elaine. Well, Pen Elaine is very outgoing and typically is not shy about playing on a public playground, but my friend’s little boy is a bit more hesitant and careful at first. They had been nice to each other, but the little boy was shy about climbing on the playground very much. As he is slowly going over to climb up the jungle gym, Pen Elaine decides to loudly inform this little boy that he can’t go down the slide…to which he turns around, crying, back to his mom. You can imagine that I was just a bit mortified. Here I was, thinking what a good job I’m doing raising my little girl to be kind to others, providing her with a 2-parent home and making my full-time job to raise and train her, and she excludes this little boy from the playground in a mean way…a shy little boy who had finally warmed up to play. In the meantime, I put her in time out, make her apologize and offer assistance, talk to her about how that would make her feel, etc., but I’m not sure if I’m getting through or not. Since, not too long after that, the little boy has started playing again, when out of the blue, Pen Elaine pushes him down, as she passes him on her way down the jungle gym steps and he’s on his way up. My child had yelled and pushed in a matter of like 20 minutes…so much for thinking I had anything special to offer as a parent. All of a sudden, it looked as if my sweet friend had an angel for a child, and I was raising a bully! Of course, my friend was completely gracious and understanding, and we agreed that Pen Elaine was tired, etc., which I’m sure was true, but I wondered what I was doing wrong.

I so easily fall into the guilt trap of feeling responsible for every one of my child’s choices. I feel the guilt for my child’s bad behaviors, while the weight of my own failings is heavy enough without taking on someone else’s actions. Clearly, every time I’ve gotten caught up in the moment of my kid acting out and acted crazy myself or responded with words too harsh or too loud, every time my heart was in the wrong state of mind, must be what Pen Elaine is picking up and emulating, instead of seeing Christ in me and emulating all that is good and perfect…

Then, God broke through my fog and reminded me that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23. We are all born broken and sinful, with no way to save ourselves from the messes that we create.

Matthew 11:25-30:

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.g 27All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I am a self-analyzer, always trying to figure myself out, and so I am wondering what this looks like – this influence of the Spirit on our sinful natures versus the influence of my example in my child’s life. You see, I’m trying to figure out how my imperfect example of Christ’s love, my sweet moments and my frenzied moments, pair up with my little human’s bent toward selfishness and impatience, and I leave out God in the equation. I get so accustomed to controlling how my kids and I spend every moment of the day, that I fall under the illusion that I am in control of my little one’s life and her choices and her behavior. I have to be in prayer to remember that God is the only One who can touch her heart and her soul, and I am just a vessel or tool for His work. I get the privilege of being used where He is already moving, and I have to trust His hand in presenting her the perfect example and unfailing love in her life. When I’m living in God’s will, by His Spirit, I can display the fruit of the Spirit to her (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…), but when I’m making my own bad choices, I have to seek forgiveness and redemption and trust that God is greater than all my failed moments or missed opportunities.

Pen Elaine is in her phase of high emotions and low control. Something as seemingly trivial as wanting a certain type of fruit snacks (“gummies”) can start her down an emotional whirlwind to frantic kicking, crying, screaming, tantrum. Once she gets worked up, the hormones washing around her brain leave her powerless to pull herself out of her physiological state…without help. I was once helpless in sin, too, until God pulled me out through the power of the gospel. I became a believer in Jesus Christ at a young age, which means I don’t have too many memories of life before having the Holy Spirit to help me. However, seeing my sweet little girl have moments of desperation about fruit snacks reminds me how we all begin –  very lost and very in need of help. Even though she has her share of making bad choices, she wants to do good, she wants to be a helper, she wants to be nice to her friends, but she falls short.

I don’t have to be entangled in anger anymore, I can pray and rely on God to free me from sinning in anger. Sometimes (as in all the time), I simply need to hand over my cares and fears and moments of frustration or confusion and entrust them to God’s care and provision. He can calm my spirit and show me the way to life, beauty, and peace. Between sleepless nights, surging hormones, and two little ones with emotional roller coasters during the day, I have to be spending some of my “free” time reading God’s Word and in constant prayer to choose to live by the Spirit instead of my own humanity on a daily, moment by moment basis.  One day, I pray my little girl will also choose to believe in Jesus Christ and the saving power of His blood, so that the Holy Spirit will dwell in her heart, and she will be free to live out her calling to a full life.

Ephesians 2:8-10,

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

A good friend recently reminded me of this promise, 2 Peter 1:3,

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

 

I am learning so much on this adventure of mothering, and I love my front row seat to Pen Elaine and her humanity and her beauty in how she was created in God’s image, with a thoughtful, passionate, tenacious, helpful soul that has only just begun to blossom.

 

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DIY Grad (or Dad) Gift

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I’m kinda proud of this inexpensive gift project- the only cost was the frame (and I recommend TJMaxx or Hobby Lobby sales for pretty and affordable options)! Plus, this can be a personal gift that would work for just about any occasion, including birthdays…

First, download some cutesy fonts – just search “free fonts” on Pinterest and follow the links – a few clicks is super easy, and then they show up in your programs, e.g. Word. It’s magic. I occasionally spot and download ones that I really like. Here’s an example website, you just click, open, click, install…The Cottage Market is a great source of inspiration, and I’ve got more fonts to download on my Pinterest board.

Once you’ve got your adorable fonts showing up in your word processor, choose a Bible verse or quote that signifies the gift recipient or holiday. I chose Philippians 1:6 for my friend who just graduated from college, starting out her post-grad life as a teacher at a yet-to-be-determined location. When there is so much waiting and uncertainty during the immediate days and months following a big life change like graduation, remembering that God is faithful and fulfills His promises to completion can be an encouragement.

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If you can tell in the photo below, the “text box tools” and “format” tab are chosen, in the far right of the tool bar, you can see the 4″ dimensions are chosen for the height and width of the text box.

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In Word, I simply created a text box that was the size of my frame’s photo opening (mine was 4 x 4), choosing a fill color that I liked. After typing in my verse, I changed various words to an assortment of downloaded fonts by highlighting and clicking. Once I was satisfied with my formatting, I printed on a higher quality setting, cut out the square, and inserted into the frame.

 

To wrap, I just tied some tulle around the frame, since this gift went to a sweet college girl!

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