Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Boys Can Wear Carhartts in the Kitchen!

Attacked by the flour bucket...
Perhaps some of the best memories can be made in the kitchen with your children...

 I made cookies this morning with Fireball and Little Sis. 

My "caught in the act of stealing sugar" grin..

Yuck, vanilla extract isn't near as good as it smells.

Don't forget to clean up...

A few weeks ago I felt brave enough to invite them to come join me in making turkey breakfast sausage.  That was a mistake!  BUT as usual, God turns our mistakes into beauty in His time, sometimes quickly sometimes it takes years, but it does happen none-the-less.

Stirring spices is fun!

So, as I think more about "Showing How" and less about "Showing Off" (a light bulb moment for me that you can read in the last post), here are some ways that I've learned to have fun in the kitchen with my kids:

#1 ALWAYS unplug the mixer before raising the beaters.

#2 Check again just to make sure....

#3 Never FORGET..... you'll have cake batter or cookie dough on everything if your little ones flip the switch, not to mention a near heart attack.

#4 Try using unconventional ways of measuring:  a medicine cup is much easier for little fingers to hold onto and keep level than a teaspoon.  The liquid 2-cup measuring glass is often easier to scoop with and carry dry ingredients to the mixing area. 

#5 Remember to "Embrace the Messes" and put on aprons and teach them how to use the small hand broom and dustpan to clean as they go. 

#6 Laugh at your mistakes, there will be lots but cookies are very forgiving.

#7Put your recipes in plastic sheet protectors.  Easy clean-up!

#8 I like to tell them to build a volcano first out of the flour and then add the baking powders and salt.  Volcanoes sound more fun than keeping your dry and wet ingredients separate. 

#9  Use short phrases for reminders, don't preach everything you know about the culinary and baking world.  Things like, "Mix, don't flick!"  "Hold on to your bowl with one hand." 

#10  Teach as you have fun together:  there's math and reading skills to learn while examining recipes and the sides of your ingredients.  You might even find some history to discuss such as, "I'm so glad I don't have to mill my own flour and milk the cow."  What was life like back in pioneer days anyway?

The kitchen is really a cleverly disguised science lab and it goes without saying you're always making art there, it's just in the shape of food.  As far as fine motor skills, yep, handling spoons and stirring and carrying and dumping measuring cups count!  Clean up after some children can actually count as PE class by the time you wash the dishes and clean the floor.

Lastly, don't forget to snap some pictures and have them write and draw about their experience in their daily journal. 

You've just spent a day home schooling in my house.  Throw in 3 more meals, some laundry, chores, reading, writing, studying for a few hours if you're older, working on projects, working on our differences, working on our attitudes, working on loving and forgiving one another, working on the house, working..... did I mention working?  OH, I forgot to mention that Playing is really work too.  I read that somewhere in a parenting book or magazine.  Except, I think we'd all agree that it is much more pleasant....

Friday, July 24, 2015

Showing Off vs. Showing How

Standing in a patch of fireweed with Daddy on our property...
Did we plant this patch of fireweed?  No, but we allowed it to grow.  It's a natural flower bed. 

I read the cutest little book by Jo Ann Stover and the words that hit me the hardest were, "Don't Show Off, Show How."  I believe I've been guilty of a lot of "Show Off" and not so much "Show How." 

How do we raise godly children in an ever growing ungodly time?  The same way it's always been done, through the strength and power the Lord Jesus provides.  It will be His wisdom, and His understanding that He will grant those who ask.  He sees the future, that is why we trust Him and not ourselves.    

Just like those fireweeds, it is possible to have beauty amidst the ugliness of the world and its ways. 
The last few weeks have been incredibly challenging in so many ways but yet "Faith is the Victory!" No matter what goes on in our political arena and our daily lives, we can say, "It is well with my soul."

My teenage daughter was singing this same old hymn the other day as she was doing her chores and I was so blessed to realize that no matter what my children do or where the Lord should take them they can always say, “It is well with my soul.”

My teenage boy was sharing with me about a recent book he had read entitled, “Rescue the Captors,” by Russell Stendal.  He explained to me what the author had suddenly realized… his Columbian Captors were really the ones in captivity, not him. God took the gospel deep into the heart of a guerilla camp.  My boy is now reading “Rescue the Captors II”, written from the parents perspective of the captive.  The oral book report he gave me was so exciting I couldn’t wait to borrow the book from him!

My soon-to-be other teenage daughter was curled up on the couch the other day reading to three of her younger siblings so that I could sleep in on the morning of a particular long and difficult night with our precious newborn.  It was definitely well with my soul on that morning!

My seven year old daughter prayed and asked Jesus to help her not be so bossy with her younger siblings.  Our greatest strengths can also be our greatest weaknesses.  She can sweetly care for and Mother/ lead  them in a gentle way or demand they obey.  Oh, how well do I know that challenge as my brothers used to call me Miss Bossy. 

My 7 year old also shared an analogy during family time yesterday.  It is always exciting when they began to relate to life in this way.  It’s a sign of growth and maturity.  She was describing God’s sovereignty without knowing the technical term.  She spoke of playing Lego’s and how they build these towns and play with the people and how she knows what is going on all the time even before the Lego people do because she’s the one orchestrating it all. 

I reminded her that one major difference is that we all have a free will and can choose to do what we want whenever we want, it’s just that there are consequences and rewards for everything we choose.

My five year old, dear fireball, responded to this with, “Well, I can’t do whatever I want!”  “Sure you can,” I said, “It’s just that you’re supposed to be obedient to the rules the authorities set before you, whether they be parents or the government.”  I explained how he was really free to do whatever he pleased within the constraints of law.  I believe this little one feels the constraints much more often than his other siblings did…..

We, authorities, will answer to God for how we’ve cared for, lead, and set limits on our “people.”  Setting too many limits is as destructive as not setting enough. 

I allowed my two year old little girl to play in a mud puddle a few days ago. So did two of her siblings.  Another Mother had allowed her daughters and their two girl friends to play as well, but also allowed them to remove all their clothing.  Yes, it was shocking!  Even though the little girls were young, 5 and under, it didn’t seem right being in public not to mention the dirt and pebbles sitting in the puddle as well. 

My seven-year old and fireball had been playing in the puddle first.  They were building islands out of pebbles with their clothes on.  When they saw the nudity they turned their backs and continued to build their islands.  They didn’t judge or stare.  Eventually after a few minutes they left the puddle because they were uncomfortable and weren’t enjoying their freedom to build anymore. 

I continued to enjoy my freedom to nurse my baby in public and visit with this Mother as two of her little girls ran off.  We no longer enjoyed visiting.  The rest of the time was spent in her chasing and conjoling her 4 little girls to get dressed and go home for lunch. 

This Mother is highly educated, college degree, etc.  Earlier I heard her speak with such respect to her daughters and their friends and you could tell she earnestly wanted to teach them how to love and respect one another.  Why, suddenly a complete disregard for common decency in the mud puddle?  She spoke all the right words but her actions proved something different.

I believe she didn’t think through the consequences of what she was agreeing too.  It all happened so fast.  They wanted to be naked.  She allowed them without taking the time to think about whether or not the time and place was right.

As I pondered all this and thought about the latest Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriages I realized the issue is much the same except they’ve had plenty of time to think about the consequences of their actions and have completely disregarded the wisdom of God found in the Scriptures and have been doing so for quite some time. 

We all want love and respect.  We are all teaching and instilling this in our children or we couldn’t have families that get along and function well as a team. 

My children were building and creating something in that puddle when they were outnumbered by others who only wanted to exhibit their new found freedom and enjoy themselves.  My children didn’t demand anything from them, but they took away their peace and joy.  They were uncomfortable with viewing something they already knew as right and wrong.  My children simply left the puddle and busied themselves somewhere else.

Our forefathers were building and creating a nation to please God and train up the future generations in Biblical principles and godly morals as well as spread the Gospel to the nations.  As usual, there’s always someone who refuses to believe there is a God and doesn’t want to obey His law.  However, they have the freedom and right in our nation, and always have had to practice that unbelief and still be respected as a person. 

Now, our freedom as Christians to teach and exercise our faith is being repressed.  Because we’ve strayed from God’s law we lack wisdom and understanding as a nation.  As a people group we have not thought through the consequences to our new laws.  We are not bringing more freedom to more people.  We are digging ourselves into a pit of moral filth and wanting everyone to be OK with it.  It’s not going to happen….

 “Let the religious element in man’s nature be neglected, let him be influenced by no higher motives than low self-interest, and subjected to no stronger restraint than the limits of civil authority, and he becomes the creature of selfish passion or blind fanaticism.  On the other hand, the cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness…inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric, at the same time that it conducts the human soul upward to the Author of its being.” (Quote by Daniel Webster on July 4, 1851, taken from the Encyclopedia of Quotations, “America’s God and Country.”) 

I hope that in the future days to come we, as Christians, will not give into the temptation of showing off, but instead, showing how.  How is it that we can say, “It is well with my soul?”  It is because God knew all of this was coming.  We can have peace and joy amidst the decay of our nation.  We can continue to show our nation and our world HOW… How to have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: the Gospel message will not change, we trust, believe and obey God’s word and live at peace with our fellow man.  Just stay the course: one step at a time, we are already victors and the battle is already won!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Embracing the Mess

The mounting laundry...
 Last week I took pictures of my messy home.  I was feeling like a broken record, "Put it away, who's toy is this?, where does it go, and who left that out?"  Argh.... my impatience and weariness of mind was rearing it's ugly head once again.

The messy bedroom...
I, without any success, try to use a math equation to explain how our home gets out of order so quickly:  such as there are nine of us now...  If each person leaves only 5 things out of place, that's 45 items strewn about!  Yikes, 5 doesn't seem like much but when you apply it to nine people, that's crazy messy!
The cluttered living room...
Card games, e-mail, books, loves and hugs and snuggles, what else is a living room for?
Our bundle of joy...completely unaware of the mess...
 Enter, stage center, snuggly bunny, suddenly all the mess is forgotten and the joy of the peaceful moment of sweet sleep engulfs everyone.  He mesmerizes each one of us with his perfect innocence.  How could one so small make our world stop?  We care for his every need and our thoughts constantly turn towards him in anticipation of his will.  What will make him happy, help him to feel loved and confident, what sort of little boy will he become, what are his tastes, his hopes and his dreams, all wrapped up for the future to come?  Did Mary, the mother of Jesus ponder any of these same questions? 
My how fast he has grown....upon closer's big sister!
 Fast forward to only two years down the road and some of the excitement of having a new one in the house fades doesn't it?  With days filled with power struggles and fit throwing and the "I do it myself," attitude it becomes very faded, very quickly.  Whining, crying, and placing their will above your own, as the authority of your own home...

How does a family redeem the moments of beauty and peace once again?  Does it have to be this way?  Yes, it's part of the mess mankind has put himself into from the dawn of time... think Cain and Able and the destruction of anger and exertion of self will to the harm and damage of others. 

Something changes in the life of your children when you begin to notice the clash of wills.  It's normal, it's healthy and it's apart of growing up.  The challenge is how to redeem and reestablish peace and order in those relationships.  Look at how God does it and learn. 

What did God do to redeem His people?  What did He do to bring beauty and peace?  He uses different forms of love and discipline simultaneously all down throughout the ages.  He banished Cain but yet gave him his freedom.  God held him personally responsible for his actions.  Through natural consequences, man and child learns much.

God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, but gave them their freedom and held them personally responsible for their actions, then passed 100's of years and Noah.... "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."  Genesis 6:5

God provided a boat and a big world wide flood as punishment.  No more loving discipline, no more patience, it was the appointed time for "do-overs."  Do you remember that term as an oft heard playground holler from the lips of a child, "I want do-overs."  It's like starting again fresh without any marks against you.  It's a plead for grace.

Only God in His perfection could punish and give grace at the same time!  Amazing.  All throughout the Bible we get lessons in love, forgiveness, repentance, and "do-overs." 

All throughout the Bible we see God's redeeming grace and it's beautiful and ugly all at the same time but the thread that remains is love and forgiveness despite mankind's stupidity.  It continues today.  For the person who trusts and believes that Jesus is the Son of God, that His death on the cross was complete payment for all of mankind's sin and that His burial and resurrection is proof of the authenticity of His claim as God, SALVATION is happening right now! 

God still hold's us personally responsible for our own wrong doing, but at the same time, He has banished us and our sins from His sight as always, and as always, the only way back is through beginning a personal relationship through Himself and that is through the Lord Jesus Christ. 

This is the good news!

It's a cycle of repentance, love and forgiveness all over again.  Not much changes all down throughout history.  It doesn't matter how old you are or what sin you're immersed in, He can and will deliver. 

For those who will trust Him today and those who've trusted Him a long time or a short while, the promise is this, "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."  II Thess. 5:9-11

I had to view my own blog just to see when the last post was made.... in June...what happened?  Oh, you know, the usual.... new baby, remodeling the house, overtime at work, seven kids, camp, life, and did I mention.... MESS and feeling completely overwhelmed?

It is well with my soul because Jesus Christ has already won against rulers, powers and authorities.  He conquered death once and for all.  To live and die is to gain.  We can't lose.  Isn't this amazing to think about.  He is coming back again and we are to remind one another daily of our glorious future all the while validating these present moments.  What a reality check to know that God has everything under His control, for His glory and our good.

So, GO and embrace the mess in your life and the lives of others and look to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He did it for you.  Call upon His name right now while it is yet today.  He is their waiting for you.

P.S.  I turned 40 this month and for my Birthday my dearest friend from Canada put my Tea Devotional in PFD file and took pictures and did all the graphics for the new version and posted a handy button.  Check it out if you haven't already, it's cute and printable and way more easy to access than before. Tea Time Devotional  Enjoy!