The Opal Effect in Our Brokenness

Picture 1I found myself distracted from listening to the tour guide as we strolled the “Precious Gems” portion of the museum. I was chaperoning a group of sixth graders on the annual trip to the Nature and Science museum. I was half listening and mostly preoccupied with not losing one of the precocious little boys who was entrusted to my care for the day. … Read More…

 

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My Treasure Box of Recipes and Memories

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Fall has been ushered in by the falling thermometer reading and the change of aspen leaves in my little corner of the world.  Football and spiced cider. I love this time of year. I get out my recipe box and start making things in my crock pot again and start searching for all the recipes that have to do with apples.

– See more at: http://www.1corinthians13parenting.com/treasure-box-memories-recipes/#sthash.VGcwrcg5.dpuf

Community

Like many of you who juggle motherhood and life, my checklists are long. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t enlist others to help me accomplish my list. I am thankful for the buddy system in taking and picking up kids from various activities or when I am stuck in a meeting at work and can call a friend to help rescue my daughter from the front of the school.

I must confess that I haven’t always been good about asking for help.

There was a time in my life when I wore the super woman cape and tried to do all of it alone at the risk of not being perfect and capable. What a lie I had bought into. You see , I thought if I was a capable woman I should be able to juggle the schedule of 4 children, a husband, a part-time job, various volunteer positions and of course be an amazing friend, daughter and sister too. Not forgetting to mention an amazing cook, immaculate housekeeper and fit as my college-age self.
Are you tired yet?

I sure was. Quite frankly I had to take the cape off when I became seriously ill with cancer and could no longer do it all. I struggled with the guilt and worry that I was letting everyone down when my loving husband told me my expectations were not what my family had put on me but what I had put on myself. Ouch! The truth hurt.

Over the years I began asking for help and letting go of my perception that I was not good enough. Guess what? Life wasn’t meant to do alone and in that reality I have found the best friendships and work relationships and it has improved my family dynamics too. We all need help. A wise friend once told me 90% is still an A, let go of the unrealistic life.

I spoke to a group of women this past spring and shared with them ways to encourage one another and how together they could design a community where no one expected perfection and where it felt safe to ask for help. At the end of my talk three ladies came up to me crying and promising that night they were going to be that community for each other. I recently talked with one of them and she shared with excitement about their supper club, their car pool schedule, and their baby-sitting co-op. The burden of mothering that they had felt was now erased by a strong community where they accepted each others flaws and gladly asked for help and lovingly gave help to each other.

Here are five ways to help foster authentic community with other moms:

First take a good (realistic) inventory of where you need help.

Have a candid conversation with your friends and then actually ask for help.

Create ideas and systems to help each other (i.e.everyone cooks together and then you each go home with fresh meals for your family and to stock the freezer, swap babysitting so you can have dates nights, volunteer or go get your hair cut).

Be real with each other by sharing your fears and failures.

Encourage each other.

Life is more enjoyable when you share it with others.

I cherish my friends who have helped me navigate the mothering years, who have picked up my children and taken them to countless activities, the girls who I can borrow their favorite sweater when my own budget wouldn’t let me buy my own, the ones who write me encouraging notes, and the ones who can give me honest answers when I need them most. If you have this community already, you are lucky. Guard it with your whole heart. If you haven’t found one yet, be brave and take the first step to create one. Together we can do this awesome thing called mothering!

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

What do you do to foster community with other moms?

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Protect the Little White Squares

Protect the Little White Squares

I parked in the parking lot and made my way to the sidewalk leading into my son’s high school.  He met me there.  Now that he drives he usually just “ meets me there”.  Gone are the days where I wrestled four little kids into their car seats and made sure everyone was safe.

Letting go is hard.

Standing in line to register him for his senior year, I began the small talk with other parents as we stood in long lines waiting for our kids to get their photo snapped for their ID cards, getting their schedules, and of course the long list of school supplies.  Many parents of the seniors were having sentimental moments as their kids’ high school days were starting the beginning of the lasts.calendar sept.2

It is hard to believe the lazy laid-back days of summertime are almost over and a new school year is beginning. 

I reluctantly opened my calendar to put “Senior Night” on the schedule and I felt a sense of panic.  Those little white squares that act as the building blocks to my weeks that complete months, years, and ultimately become memories were already filled with school activities, sports schedules, orthodontist appointments, and social obligations.

How many squares do I have left before he leaves for college?

It is there, standing in line, that I mentally put into place “Operation Protect the Little White Squares”.

I know this sounds silly; however, I am committed to having blank time on my schedule so that I can have more down time with my family.  This isn’t the first time I have had these thoughts, and if I am very honest it is not the first time I have felt the panic of time slipping away.  My two older sons are now in their twenties, been there done that a couple of times, but there is something about that senior year that makes me a sentimental mushy mess of a mom — sorry kids!

It is a good reminder to me that there are a lot of good and even great things we can all be involved in but that doesn’t mean we have to do them all. 

I don’t think family life has to be so hectic.  

Controlling what goes into those squares requires good communication, thoughtful determination and cooperation.

Do our priorities line up with our values? 

Our we allowing God to direct our paths?

My plan is to sit down with everyone before the school year starts and take a good look at everything we are involved in. 

Together we can decide what is important and what extra things have lasting value and evaluate what could be eliminated. I realize it is unrealistic to have a carefree schedule with children but I also am determined to have a few more white squares this year.

Looking forward to making memories and leaving blank space in our schedule so we can actually do just that!

How do you protect your family’s schedule?

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Why I Read The Bible

FullSizeRender-1 I was six years old when I was given my first Bible. I was awarded this red covered book with gold “ Holy Bible” inscription for my efforts in memorizing Bible verses in my Sunday School class. I still can remember that day and how excited and proud I was of my new gift. My teacher encouraged me to underline in pen all the verses I had been working on. I didn’t want to mess up my new treasure but I reluctantly obeyed as she told me this would help me keep God’s word in my heart always. Wise words given to a small child.

As a young girl my Bible was something I treasured and found comfort in reading. I even would place it under my pillow when I felt afraid of the dark. Somehow I felt safe sleeping on the word of God. As a teenager I attended Young Life and FCA and would take my Bible out less frequently as my life became full with gymnastics and cheerleading, school activities and boys.

In college my Bible found it’s way onto the bookshelf alongside more frequently read books with titles of English Literature and Chemistry. I literally dusted it off when I wanted to read the words I had underlined as a little girl. That changed when my neighbor began hosting a Bible study in her home for college kids and asked if I would like to join her. I wasn’t sure I had the time but thought that sounded like something I should be doing. I started attending and my love for God’s word was rekindled. I found myself wanting to know more about who God was and what He had to say to me through this amazing book. I loved the challenge and the discussion with my peers, the community of studying God’s word with others was a great investment of my time.

I am now a middle-aged woman with a husband and four kids. I have a dozen or so Bibles in my home in various forms of translation. However; my NIV Study Bible is the one that is most used. I still underline and circle all the words I have found that speak to me personally or that I have studied over the years in the many Bible studies I have attended. It is a treasure for sure. I was asked this question recently by a young lady, “ Why should I bother reading the Bible?” There are so many good books about the Bible I can read that are easier to understand. This got me thinking and here is my response to why I read and study the Bible…

Reading My Bible Strengthens My Relationship With God

If you only know me by my first name, you don’t really know me. When I start to tell you details of my life, stories of my past, my hopes and dreams for the future, it starts to put together a more complete picture of who I am. The same holds true for God. When you read in your Bible that God is just, He is full of mercy and grace, He is loving and kind, you start to understand his character and He becomes more to you than just a figure-head, He becomes personal.

Reading My Bible Gives Me Guidance In Living a Christian Lifestyle

There are so many magazines and self-help books all telling us what we should do to live a better life. God’s word trumps all of those books as He shares with us how to live a life that is pleasing to Him. The Bible has answers to real life questions.

Reading The Bible Teaches Me To Have A Genuine Faith, Not Just Practice Religion

When we study God’s word we realize the wow and wonder of who God was, is, and always will be. His promises grow our faith as we seek him personally and not just respond to religious activity.

Reading The Bible Equips Me To Serve God And Love Others

As you read through the many magnificent stories in the Bible you learn from the mistakes of others. You see first hand what pleases God and how we can live a life that is honoring to Him. There are many lessons and instructions given to us on how we can care, serve and love others. God commands us to do so.

My little red Bible now rests in my night stand, the binding is broken, the pictures are faded but the truth remains. My time spent in God’s word holds eternal value. It is my prayer that you will join us this fall as we embark on a new year of Bible study. We can make the Bible real in our lives – deepening our relationship with God and growing our faith, learning to seek the truth and equipping ourselves to better love Him and those whom He has placed in our lives.

Psalm 119:105   Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Be Kind

9215222-be-kind-motivational-reminder--phrase-in-vintage-wood-letterpress-type-stained-by-color-inks-isolateFirst Published at 1st Corinthians13 Parenting on 6-18-2015

I drove 70 miles south of my current home to the city where I grew up. My mind racing wildly as I contemplated the fact that my mom was in ICU and was not doing well. I took the exit from the highway and by memory took the road leading to the hospital. This is the same hospital where I was born and where other babies in our family have arrived into the world and where dear ones that I loved have died. Mixed feelings overtook me and I was scared and preoccupied as I pulled into the parking lot. Arriving at the same time was a young man with his window rolled down, music blaring, covered in piercings and tattoos. He cut me off at a turn and pulled into the spot I had been eyeing in the very full parking lot. Quite frankly I was annoyed. I had to circle the lot three more times before I was able to park.

I found my way through the maze of the hospital to the ICU waiting area where I met my family and was ushered quietly into the area of very sick people, those on the brink of existence. I was overwhelmed by my thoughts and by the sight of my mom in such a predicament. After meeting with the doctor I began heading back to the waiting area where I saw the young kid from the parking lot. This time he opened the door for me and said, “Sorry about stealing your spot.” My heart immediately softened. He proceeded to tell me his story that his brother was in a very serious motorcycle accident and he was beside himself with worry that he wouldn’t make it to the hospital to see him, he was told he could die.

It is amazing when all is stripped away and we are left with our very raw human emotions how we all are more alike than unalike.
I thought about my first impression of this young man and how he had annoyed me. I thought he was a reckless and selfish kid when really he was a kind young man who adored his big brother and was scared to death he might never see him alive again. I think most of us are keenly aware of our own struggles because typically if we are struggling with something it becomes our intense preoccupation. I was so preoccupied with my own issue I never thought someone else in the hospital parking lot could be struggling as well. I was made aware of my own selfish heart and tendencies by the very person I had accused of being selfish.
If we each walked through our days thinking that others could be struggling, I think we all would be kinder and more loving individuals. I am reminded of the quote by Ian MacLaren, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind – Always.”

Thankfully both of our loved ones made it out of ICU and are on the road to recovery. I smiled, gave the young man a hug and promised to pray for his brother. I walked down the hall quietly thanking this young man with the crazy tattoos for the lesson in kindness and love abounding.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12 NIV

Have you ever judged someone’s actions without knowing what really was going on?