July 30, 2013

Myah sets the table.

Have you ever felt like time just snuck up on you and passed you right by when you least suspected it? I don't know how many others feel this way, but parenthood seems to have sent me on a patterned journey of waiting on time, and then suddenly chasing it. I had an overwhelming realization of this recently.

It seems like not long ago, my oldest daughter, Myah was a little baby safe in my arms, sheltered by the walls of my home. Very recently, though she's grown a bit, any sight or sound that had filled her eye and ear gates were first approved by one of her parents, but I'm finding now that things have changed. I knew it was coming, but it seemed like I had plenty of time.

A few weeks back, while I was busy in the kitchen, Myah sat at the desk with YouTube open on the laptop. She had somehow figured out how to search for a specific song by entering the artist's name. When I heard a song start to play, I was surprised that she had searched for and found it by herself, but what really caught my attention was the fact that I had never heard the song, or of the singer singing it! Fortunately, after investigation, I discovered that it was a Christian song by an artist named Jamie Grace, who she had learned of through her friend, Trisha, and cousin, Destiny.

The tiny incident brought some important things to my attention that I hadn't given priority earlier. Let's forget for a moment the fact that the song was Godly. With that aside, the truth is that my 7 year old daughter is now the age that she's going out and gathering information and being influenced on her own. SHE is now making the choice of whether or not something is worthy of her attention. SHE is now choosing what to put in her own eye and ear gates! As I stood washing dishes, listening to the song, the thought that Tomas and I are no longer her filter filled my mind and shook me up a little bit.

Up until now, my highest concern has been that I, as her mom, would be successful at exposing Myah to the things that pleases God and helps her in discovering His plan for her life. After all, it's my job to train her, but Myah seems to be past the first stages of training. She's now going out into the battle field with her own armor on. She doesn't fit in mine anymore! EEK!! Based on Myah's self-discovered choice of role model, Jamie Grace, I'm confident that I've done a good job so far of illustrating the kind of influence we'd approve of, but I'm realizing that it's about time I make priority in my prayer life the subject of Myah's independence and self-control; actually, it's overdue. This should have been my prayer long ago.

After 2 or 3 weeks straight of Jamie's songs on repeat, I heard on the radio of a Toby Mac/Jamie Grace concert about an hour and a half away. Tomas and I found a sitter for Natalie and Emanuel, and took the opportunity to step into Myah's world with her. I say that because if it hadn't been for Myah's interest, I wouldn't have gone. I think it's important to support and encourage our kids when they're moving in the right direction. We're all a fan of Toby Mac, but our favorite part of the concert was when Jamie took the mic and told us a little about herself and what she believed in. The 21 year old singer told us about how some people poke at her about not dating, or not having a boyfriend. She explained to the crowd that she thought dating was something people should only do with long term intentions. She entertainingly confessed her own desires to take care of a husband and to have a husband to take care of her, but that while she prayed it would be soon (before she's 25), she knows that God will do a much better job of finding her husband than she ever could. She talked about some other things too. She's really a funny girl, and fun to listen to-not only her singing, but her speaking as well. I found my heart so happy to see Myah looking up at Jamie, knowing Jamie was confirming the values that our family has instilled in her, and then knowing that Myah had developed this interest for Jamie and her music all on her own, I was reassured that I really have nothing to be concerned about. I'm so thankful, though, for the way that God brought this stage of Myah's life to my attention. I needed the reminder that prayer is a constant necessity for anyone, no matter their situation. Isn't God Good? How has he spoken to you lately?

June 6, 2013

Serve and Be Served

In my line of work there's no punch cards or thirty minute breaks. You've probably read or heard the statement that lists all the responsibilities of a mom: chef, nurse, coach.. who's work day never ends.. blah blah... 24/7... blah, but, IT'S TRUE! How many times have I found myself unhappily sitting out on all the fun while everyone else raves about the benefits of participation? Ugh! It's just not fair!

A few years back, a well known speaker, Bazil Howard-Browne came to town and held services nightly for two weeks with the help of my church and a few other organizations in the city. Unfortunately, child care was not offered, and because my church family is my only support, I had little options as all of my trusted sitters would also be at the services. By week two of Bazil's visit, everyone was talking about how God was moving and lives were being changed.  I had only made it to one or two meetings myself, where I sat in a separate room with the kids to avoid distractions. I was feeling very disconnected and I was having a really hard time keeping my emotions under control. I mean, here I was putting my family first, spending all my time and energy taking care of them and loving God the best I could. All I wanted was to go and be a part of this great move, and get a touch from God, but no one, not even God was coming to my aid! I don't remember how it worked out, but one night, things lined up where I was actually able to go without the kids but by the time Tomas was home from work and I had everything taken care of, I was 30 minutes late. I remember looking at the clock while driving to the church, trying not to cry as I decided whether or not to just turn around and go back home. I was frustrated! Then, in that moment, God told me that while He reigns first and foremost in my life, ministry will always be secondary to my job as a mom. He also assured me that as I carry out my mommy duties, the blessing will meet me where I'm at, as long as I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I just remember suddenly being at peace and content.  Recently, when a similar situation presented itself, that moment in the car came to mind, and it helped me just the same this time around. So much, that I thought I might share it with you. As you know, I like to have scripture to back me up. Proverbs 31, which I included in my first blog post, is one of the major scriptures that keeps me on my toes, but the following is also one of my favorite scriptures.

Titus 2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

I love this scripture because it is so instructional and I like specific instructions. There are clear instructions for wives and mothers throughout the bible. We know based on the Word, that our first priority is to take care of our families. I'm sure the services that I missed were great, but if I would have gone at the expense of fulfilling my first mission, I would have been out of the will of God. My neighbor or friend may have gone to every meeting without jeopardizing or taking away from her first priorities, and that would have been fine for her, but I wasn't in a position to do that. I had more important tasks to complete.

Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.  And all these blessings shall come upon you and OVERTAKE you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God."

By fulfilling my parental responsibilities in accordance with the Word of God, I'm serving God and putting Him first. That's good to know, but what really gets me excited is that the blessings make their way to me as I carry out the work! I love church. I love gathering with like-minded people, but while assembling together should not be forsaken (Hebrews 10:25), my God is not limited to those meetings.

We're currently on day 11 of a two week visit from Rodney Howard-Browne and the Great Awakening Team. Once again, I have a desire to be a part of this move of God. I'm hearing awesome stories of what's happening on the streets of Waterloo, and it makes me so happy to know that God put me here for this time, to see these things come to pass! I haven't made it to many meetings, but I knew God will bring the blessing to me one way or another. Last night, at the start of a service I was able to attend, I told God that I expected to receive everything I needed that night, but I had to leave by 9pm and services are just only half over by that time. Well, God met my demand at 8:30! I left service early, but I did it with a smile on my face and a thankful heart because I know that as long as I continue to serve God and my family, God will serve me too! How has God proven himself to you lately?

May 14, 2013

Dishin' out Discipline

It seems like people are lining up to give advice on parenting. I actually find myself now, as a mom of 3, having trouble biting my own tongue as I try to hold back advice to the parents of young children around me. From diaper brands and sleeping positions to nightly routines, we all seem to have the best answer, yet it's not too often that any two voices agree.
One topic I didn't hear much about before my inquisition was discipline. Being very quiet and artistic, my oldest daughter, Myah left me little reason to research the biblical principles of discipline from a parental standpoint. God has placed in her such a gentle heart, that to even see disappointment on the face of an authority figure often brings her to tears. She has a desire to make the people around her happy, and I find her bending and putting her own wants aside to ensure the happiness of the people she cares about. It's a good and godly trait to have, and we're grateful for her. Although, I find myself praying and encouraging Myah to be her own voice, and to stand for what she wants and believes in, even if it means it opposes someone else's feelings.
Thankfully, Myah has a younger sister, Natalie, who does a good job of illustrating a strong will. Natalie was born ready to take on the world! While Myah was content with whatever state she found herself in, Natalie always grabbed for more. She learned to roll, sit up, crawl and walk early. Thinking back, I remember seeing the eagerness on her face for whatever experience awaited. Natalie loves to get dirty and explore. I learned early to embrace her curiosity and despite a few disapproving glances, we've found that it's helping her to develop the "go-getter gifts" we believe God's placed in her heart. One thing about her strong will is... her STRONG WILL! Natalie is learning that just because she's ABLE to do something, doesn't mean she is ALLOWED. Somewhere between infancy and 4 years old, we may have smeared the line that once clearly divided exploration and disobedience. These are the chronicles of a strong-willed child's parent! Ha. Just kidding. As I'm sure you can guess, now is about the time I needed a good lesson from my "Mommy handbook" on discipline. I hope by now, you know what book I'm referring to.

Proverbs 22:15  Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, 
but the rod of discipline will drive it far away.

WHEW! What a relief! So, this is normal and discipline will drive it away. Ok. Great. So, what's discipline? I went to dictionary.com. (Because I'm a geek like that:)

1. training to act in accordance with rules; drill: military discipline.
2. activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer.
3. punishment inflicted by way of correction and training.
4. the rigor or training effect of experience, adversity, etc.: the harsh discipline of poverty.
5. behavior in accord with rules of conduct; behavior and order maintained by training and control: good discipline in an army.

I discovered that discipline is about more than spanking. We can say that discipline is a lot like training. What does it take to successfully train someone: Praise, encouragement, punishment, repetition, time, consistency, ENERGY!

This is just one of many scriptures concerning training your children. Some of this may be a refresher of what's already in your heart. I believe God has put in us moms all we need in order to bring up the next generation of successful people.
One of the most important things I've learned through this is that discipline and punishment are two different things.  My original idea of discipline was punishment, but punishment is specifically a negative response to a negative action, whereas discipline includes both negative AND positive responses. Praise and encouragement is a very important part of parenting; just as important as punishment in my opinion.
With that being said, I thought it would be fun to include a tool I have put into practice with Natalie. I picked it up from Myah's kindergarten classroom last year.

The Stop Light Chart

Green is good, yellow is warning, and red is stop!
If Natalie is having to be told more than once to follow directions or if she is breaking a well-known rule in the house, she is sent to yellow. Usually, moving her to yellow causes a change in her behavior and after long, I will find her doing something praiseworthy and move her back to green. If you do decide to use the stop light chart, I suggest there be a serious consequence for landing on red. Likewise, a job well done is worthy of reward! If Natalie ends up on green for the majority of the day, she gets a "Green Go Gumball." (Natalie loves candy and gum, but if your child is into something else, change it up! If your child is older, a week full of greens could mean Saturday afternoon soccer on the green grass! It could be money!
Natalie's "N" starts on "GO GREEN" every morning.
(This picture was taken before Natalie and I cut and colored that magnet into a capital N for Natalie.)

Lamentations 3:22-23  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, 
for his compassions never fail. they are new every morning
great is your faithfulness.

Thank God we can have a clean slate with God after repentance! Because Natalie is only 4, I think it's important that punishment doesn't illustrate to her unforgiveness. If she's reprimanded, it's quick, and then it's over. She can always start the day fresh no matter what she did yesterday. (I understand that this may change as she gets older. It might be a week away from games for your older child.) The point is that, just because she did something wrong, doesn't mean we walk around the rest of the day with a bad attitude toward her, holding the mistake over her head. We continue to walk in love toward her. 
I'm learning that as we're training up our kids, we ourselves are also in training. While this all seems to flow out of me so easily, I'm learning as I type it, and it takes DISCIPLINE to abide by it. I'm learning discipline every day, especially when I choose consistency over convenience. I've also learned that although Myah is so quiet and content, scripture on discipline is just as important for her, because now I know, disciplining your child isn't about punishing them. It's about training them. God's called us all to be disciplined people. Practice makes perfect! What tools are you using to discipline your family?

Warm Pot of Positive

I’m the wife who watches the clock all day waiting for 6pm to roll around so my
husband can close up and come home. I thought this puppy love might wear off a
few years into our relationship, but it hasn’t and I pray it never will! I feel
like nothing is as good as it can be when my husband is by my side. He’s like a
fortress! He’s so sturdy, I feel as though I could just strap myself to him or
hide behind him when the going gets tough. Needless to say, I enjoy
sharing my life with him. So, just about every day as I watch him pull in the
driveway, I do a little mental happy dance, and then quickly try to act casual
as he makes his entrance. (I really do!)

Then of course, I fill him in on everything he’s missed out on while he was
away. It could be a mouthful of garbage (usually dumped on me through a phone
conversation with a family member), the kids’ behavior or a detailed description
of the day’s activities, good and bad. If there’s something bothering me, he
knows about it within 10 minutes of him getting home.  He’s usually
simultaneously being bombarded by 3 children saying, “DADDY, DADDY, DADDY,”
repetitively until he answers each one. (Whoa, even as I write this my heart
goes out to him as he braces himself for his coming home every day! It’s a
family man’s life.)

I was surprised one day when I learned about a recent stressful situation he’d
dealt with at work.  After hearing about it, I thought back to his daily arrival
over the last few months, wondering what day it was that he had come home with
this heavy load, showing no trace of it. This situation sparked the realization
that rarely does he ever enter our home with his own set of complaints or
summary of his work day.

I’ve since then made it my goal to greet my husband with a smile and a positive
comment, if any, and I knew the Word would help me on my walk. Philippians 4:8
came to mind when I began to look for a scripture to stand on.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is 
noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is 
admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

We all have negative things going on around us. This scripture isn’t denying the
fact that things happen. Disagreements happen.  Daughters fight over toys.
Things get lost. Babies get into things that daughters leave accessible OVER and
OVER. Ugh… It happens. This scripture is instructing us to cast down any thought
that is not praiseworthy. Any thought that isn’t right, or pure or lovely, and
to think about the things that ARE. How excellent is it that my children have
toys (to fight over)?  I personally find it lovely that my son has the ability
to get himself from the living play area to the restroom door  so quickly (150x
a day)! Praise God, he’s a healthy little boy!

I believe that if we would keep this Word in our mouths, minds and hearts, use
it to sift through our thoughts, and forget those negative thoughts that try to
come in and take over our good day, that we would see a change in our
relationships and in our quality of life. I’m striving to find the good in
everything so that when 6:30 comes around, I’ll be ready and waiting to serve my
husband with a warm pot of positive.. and maybe some dinner too!

Food For My Family

You’re your own worst critic, ya know. So, it made sense that soon after 
thinking about blogging I started to ask myself some not so positive questions. 
I was a stay-at-home mom; an unemployed homemaker. What did I have to 

It wasn’t until I got in the Word that I realized who I really am, and how important my ‘job’ is. Oh, did 
my perception change as I began to renew my mind, and learn my role and 
responsibilities. Somewhere along the way I came to the conclusion that if I so 
needed the lesson on the worth of a wife and mom, I’m sure there were other 
women who could use a pat on the back as well.

I’m far from learned. In fact, I started so far off from the finish line that 
just finding the PATH was a huge victory for me. So, to say that my goal is to 
educate anyone in my line of work just wouldn't be true. I just hope to 
bring encouragement to myself and to other women like me who are also learning 
that motherhood is a JOB; a very exhausting, stinky, fulfilling and rewarding 
job..if you do it right!

I found the title of this blog where I find all my good ideas: The Bible. It 
just made sense that if I wanted a title that summed up who I was and what I do, 
a look into scriptures FOR wives and mothers would help me find one. I did a 
google search and quickly found what I needed.

First, let me just add that although Proverbs 31 is a very popular scripture for 
women, there are so many really good scriptures for wives and mothers throughout 
the whole bible. Google is my best friend.

“10A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. 
11Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. 12She 
brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. 13She selects wool and flax 
and works with eager hands. 14She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food 
from afar. 15She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her 
family and portions for her female servants. 16She considers a field and buys 
it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17She sets about her work 
vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. 18She sees that her trading is 
profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. 19In her hand she holds the 
distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. 20She opens her arms to the 
poor and extends her hands to the needy. 21When it snows, she has no fear for 
her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. 22She makes coverings for 
her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. 23Her husband is respected at 
the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. 24She makes 
linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes. 25She is 
clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26She 
speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27She watches 
over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her 
children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 
29“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30Charm is deceptive, 
and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 31Honor 
her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the 
city gate. “

There’s so much about this scripture that I love and strive for and it gets me 
excited to read it. I spend so much of my time investing into my kids and my 
husband that it sometimes seems that by helping them be successfull, I’m puting 
my own success aside. Then I read Proverbs 31 and I notice that while the woman 
in the scripture works her patooty off just to see that her family is well cared 
for, SHE is the one the scripture is about. Throughout the text she’s being 
praised for her hard work and HER SUCCESS! I’m also reminded that serving my 
family is more than bringing the food to the table. It’s more than dirty diapers 
and fresh clothes. It’s a tough job, but important and definitely praiseworthy.  
Ah, if only I would keep this fresh in my mind: I haven’t stopped running my 
race to help my family with theirs. Helping them run their race is a part of my 
race. I hope this helps you today as much as it does me.

Altogether Accountability

Calling all moms: I really like to have a Can-Do attitude when I come at you here, but can we be honest? I think we all can agree that it of...