Friday, January 31, 2014

Sick Kids

Hey y'all. I had every intention of posting earlier this morning… but we've been sick this week - just the low-grade fever, tired, crankies with runny noses - and it all went from frustrating to worse at 7:28 this morning. Our youngest threw up at the breakfast table. So, in the midst of finding a ride to school for the oldest, cleaning, caring for a sad little one, canceling all our day's plans… the blog was forgotten.

And since my mind is on entertaining sick children:

If your child has a cough or congested chest, sometimes a steamy shower will make her feel better. Instead of actually putting her in the shower, let her stay in the bathroom (with the door closed to keep the steam in) and draw on the mirrors. Sure, you'll have to grab some glass cleaner and paper towels to clean the streaks off afterward, but it's a great non-TV activity that will help her feel better, too.
Pick up some new crayons or markers and a coloring or activity book for your homebound little one. Keep a few packs on hand during cold and flu season so you're always prepared! This is a perfect activity for sick children because they can do this lying down in bed without exerting too much precious energy. If he's missing a fun activity at school that day -- like a field trip or special guest -- have him draw a picture of the activity. This can help him feel included even if he's not able to attend.
If your sick kid is up to the task, have her help you put together an art box. Find any cardboard box around the house and have her decorate it with glitter, stickers and markers or crayons. Fill the box with colored felt and other fabrics of varying colors and textures, along with pipe cleaners, beads, sequins and glue. Encourage her to create an abstract picture based on how she's feeling.
Play a game with your child that uses more mental than physical energy, such as Memory, Scrabble, Tic-Tac-Toe or Hangman. Another idea: Print some word find games from the SheKnows Kids' Activity Center.
Books may get tossed to the side in favor of other, more physical activities on a daily basis, but when your child is sick, a little quiet is just the thing. Serve some chicken noodle soup in a mug, cuddle up with a cozy blanket and get lost in a good story.
Your child can make a necklace or bracelet to pass the time while she's recuperating. Set up a TV tray in her bed and supply her with some pretty beads and thin elastic thread. Tie one bead at the end of the thread, then let her string other beads onto the elastic in a pattern. Tie the two ends of the elastic and trim off the excess.
Pull out some old socks, random buttons that have fallen off shirts, plus some fabric scraps and fabric glue — and let your child's creativity run wild. Once you have finished making your sock puppets, put on a little puppet show with your child.
Have your child lie down on a long piece of butcher paper and trace his outline with a black magic marker. Then let him decorate his likeness however he chooses.

Clean out a milk carton, glue the top closed and help your child build a birdhouse. Cut a dowel twice the length of the milk carton, and then cut a hole just large enough for the dowel to fit through on either side of the carton at the same level. Slide the dowel through and apply glue where the wood meets the carton. Cut a few other holes in the carton large enough for the birds to get through. Poke two holes in the top of the carton; thread a string through it, then tie it. Fill the feeder with birdseed and hang it from a branch outside.

I know many in our area are sick this week. Get well quickly, stay warm and good luck entertaining the masses!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Thoughts with Theresa: 25 Points I Took Away From the Mom Heart Conference

I just returned from the Mom Heart Conference 2014: Inspired! Reaching Beyond What Holds You Back, with Sally Clarkson. If you are not familiar with Sally Clarkson, then read on. Sally is a modern­day classic, encouraging moms, with her depth of wisdom, to live out the biblical model of parenting. She has numerous books, including The Mission of Motherhood, The Ministry of Motherhood and Seasons of a Mothers Heart. Sally’s husband, Clay, authors Educating the Whole Hearted Child, Our 24 Family Ways and Heartfelt Discipline. The Mission of Motherhood is in two Chinese languages, The Ministry of Motherhood and Educating the Whole Hearted Child is in Korean. Ministry is also in Dutch, French and two books are in Polish. Both Mission and Ministry have consecutively been recognized by the United States congressional women’s Bible study as the number one book on mothering. The Clarksons put on an annual conference for moms in Colorado, Texas and California. The Speakers this year in Colorado were Sally Clarkson, Misty Krawsawski, Debi Chapman, Sarah Mae, and Sarah Clarkson. I came away feeling inspired and replenished. The following are some points that stuck with me.
25 Points I took away from the Mom Heart Conference: 

Sarah Mae
1.            Resolve to be in God’s presence. We cannot reflect God’s light to our children if we’re not in it.
2.            Resolve to be different than the world.

3.            If we don’t step up as parents, culture will step in.

4.            Prepare for the world by equipping with the Word.
5.            Don’t give one another permission to compromise.

6.            Know your calling. If you are a mother, your first calling is to motherhood.
7.            Reduce or eliminate technology. Technology creates a mental state of constant activity.

8.            Look at the sin issue of your child and then speak the opposite over them.

Sarah Mae is Co­author with Sally Clarkson of the book, Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breath.

Sarah Clarkson

9.      Children need quiet in order to hear God.
10.        Shape their perspective with stories. Stories shape a child’s point of view, cultivates imagination, provides a courageous character for your child to identify with, shows how choices are lived out (faithfulness), and gives a vision of happy endings.

Sarah Clarkson is currently writing The Storyformed Life and I highly recommend watching for that one!

Sally Clarkson

11.        Love is your aim. Only love can reach and transform hearts.
12.        Be a reflection of Christ to your children. Love and humbly serve like Christ.
13.        Walk with those who are wise. Put yourself in a place where people will draw you to a higher Spiritual place and thinking.
14.        Build on the foundation of God’s Word and truth. Love God and love others.

15.         It’s all held together by the Holy Spirit.
16.        We must be connected to the vine. Remain in him.
17.        If you’re not partnering with God, don’t expect supernatural results.

18.         God makes what we do enough.

19.         Don’t name your child something you do not want them to live into.
20.        Don’t keep disciplining a difficult child. Fill her heart. A child cannot learn until she feels her cup is full.
21.        Your message will come out of the life you live.

22.         The Kingdom is living in the freedom of who God created you to be.

23.         You are not defined by your mistakes (nor are your children.)

24.         Be who you are. Don’t compare.

25.         If you are justifying your life, you are probably compromising God’s call on your life.
There was so much great insight. I wish you all could have been there! However, a great place to start in gaining perspective as a mother is with Sally’s books. I highly recommend The Mission of Motherhood, if you’re not sure which to pick up first. Read and be inspired!
Sally, Me and Misty Krasawski
The crew from Sheridan
Mom Heart Panel
Theresa Miller, MOPS Mom

Theresa is a wife and mother of four children (3, 5, 7, and 9), who are embarking on their first year of homeschooling. Theresa has been involved in Sheridan MOPS for the last 9 ½ years, serving in multiple leadership positions, including Day MOPS Coordinator in 2007-2008. She took one year off, then started the Sheridan Evening MOPS group in September 2009. Theresa has published an article with MOPS International MOMSnext Ezine, in addition to other on-line publications. You can find Theresa encouraging mothers on her blog, Heavenly Glimpses.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mom, You Make a Difference

Moms Who Change the World, Part Four

by Stephanie Gates
JANUARY 23, 2014
Moms Who Change the World, Part Four
When Carrie Burnett was a little girl, she wanted to change the world.
And she is. But not in the way she once imagined.
“It’s hard for me to feel like the ordinary things are important,” Carriesays.  “I’ve always wanted to do big things, but recently I’ve been learning that my family is the most important thing.”
As a young adult, Carrie envisioned her life. She finished college with a degree in intercultural studies, and spent her first year of marriage to Jeff in Rio de Janero, Brazil. Their first year in Brazil was deeply meaningful, but terribly isolating. She experienced firsthand the value of community, and the personal toll of living outside of one. When a series of logistical decisions led the couple back to her hometown in Alabama, she was at peace with the turn of events.  
But Carrie and Jeff remained passionate about serving others, and living out their faith within a community. Before long, Carrie became pregnant.
That’s when Carrie’s chance to change the world expanded.
Nine years later, Carrie and Jeff have three little girls, ages 8, 6, and 2. Carrie has joined small groups, led a MOPS group, and served her community in countless ways over the years. But her most important work sits around her table every night.
“I believe in doing everything with a purpose,” says Carrie.  “I try to help my girls see the larger purpose in what we do. I want them to be in love with God, and not just follow rules.” Carrie pours her heart into her children. Day after day she focuses on teaching good behavior, rewarding kindness and communication, and showing her children how to notice and serve others – no matter how young they are.  
She also works hard to stay present with her family. “Even hard moments are easier if we can just stay in them,” she says. “I try not to let my kids be a means to my end.” As much as possible, she builds fun into their daily interactions. “I want them to like us, and each other, too! We have fun together as much as we can.”
Carrie wanted to change the world. Through intentional, thoughtful, loving parenting – she is.
So are you.
As the mother of small children, it is easy to lose sight of a higher purpose. But every juice cup poured, every diaper changed, every book read is an act of love. Day by day, you are building a worldview for your children, a launching pad for the rest of their lives. You are shaping the way they see the world, how they will approach others, how they will relate to God. And as intimidating as that sounds, it happens naturally, simply by loving your little ones.
The patience you show with your children now will one day be the patience they share with others. The kindness you plant in their tiny lives will grow into self-respect and respect for others. The love you naturally share with them will, in turn, be the love they have to give in the future.
In a thousand small ways, every single day, you are changing the world.

I am Stephanie - mom to four beautifully rambunctious little kids and wife to a guy who still makes me smile.  If you have ever abandoned religion in search of faith, ever had to leave your hometown to find your home, or ever climbed to the very tip-top of a jungle gym to rescue an overzealous toddler, you may enjoy reading more at A Wide Mercy.  You can also follow along on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Treasure: Matthew 6:28-34

Christa Tietjen Photography
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Peace Like A River

Isaiah 48:17-18
Thus says the Lord,
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you to profit,
    who leads you in the way you should go.
Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
    Then your peace would have been like a river,
    and your righteousness like the waves of the sea;”

Last fall, I encountered the peace and joyful abundance of complete obedience to our Lord, Jesus Christ. It was a miraculous, awesome, exciting time. Afterward, His peace continued and I was amazed by the change I felt in my life and reactions. At least, for a little while… despite my best intentions, I stepped out of the river of peace and back onto the riverbank. I chose stress and anxiety instead of peace.

This is not a perfect story – in fact, it was starting to feel like a very sad story for a while – but now I believe it is a story of redemption. It is my story, the story of today, the place where Christ and I walk together at present. Our MOPS theme asks us to “embrace your story,” so I will right now – and I choose to be faithful to the Holy One who is big enough to change our stories, ways and hearts.

Way back, in December of 2012, God asked me to serve Him by playing music in association with an adoption benefit. He helped me leap over hurdles in lack of confidence, disbelief in administrative skills, discomfort in leadership. He pressed onto my heart a real, deep concern for friends and acquaintances that were obeying His call to adopt. He gave me music, excitement and incredible support. And then, he blessed the efforts of all those involved! He astounded us with His power, might and provision.

It happened like this:

When I finally stepped into true obedience (after many months, weeks, days and hours of prayer from myself and others) and sent out the message of my (God’s!) intention to hold an Adoption Benefit Concert, I received an email providing a free venue within 1 hour. Volunteers willing to help with the planning and organization popped up within 2 days. Musicians desiring to offer their talents surfaced steadily for 2 months.

Everywhere our team went, we were met with confirmation. We knew God’s hand was present. We saw greater and greater need for support of adoptive families in Sheridan. We found our efforts productive rather than frustrated and discovered more and more people willing to help, serve and pray over our event.

The end result? Despite months, days, hours of work, I rested in the supportive arms of our God. I felt alive, able and successful. My fears and doubts were replaced with complete reliance upon the abilities of God. I rested in a river of peace.

The day of the concert things began to fall apart. But, Jesus remained steadfastly on our side. He poured his spirit of peace upon us and we were able to continue without stress, without worry – knowing we were doing God’s will, God’s work. We understood with full confidence that as long as we remained in obedience to Him all would work out as He intended. It was in His hands. And we left it there.

The reward? Peace. And incredible amazement. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)” God led us in opening a fund to support adoptive families. He pieced together an event. He brought out generous giving. He taught me to never underestimate His provision, His might, His abundance.

In awe and gratitude, my autumn was framed in obedience. I thankfully allowed God to stretch, grow and change me. I rested in His peace that “passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).” The lessons I began to learn spread themselves to other parts of my life, other places where I had previously refused to surrender control.

I realized my family is not mine. My family is God’s. I cannot protect my children 100%; I have to trust God for that.

God showed me how my anxiety regarding my husband’s safety while he’s elk hunting changes nothing. Giving God my worries, allowing Him to hold my husband – as He always has and always will – and the rest of us while Daddy’s away, that’s the only way. It provided me freedom and a strong sense of peace. I was able to sleep soundly and comfortably while my husband was gone.

And then…

December hit and I grabbed ahold of stress, worry and anxiety again. With fervor. With passion. To the detriment of my family, my mental health, my relationship with God, my relations with friends, and my enjoyment of the holiday season. Peace disappeared. Patience evaporated. And then the struggle began…

And continued…

And continues. I simply returned to old habits, old ways of doing things, my “tried and true” sort of lifestyle. Except this old stuff isn’t better! And I know that with certainty now.

“So?” you say. “What now?”

And my only answer is this:

“Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for all the ways you’ve surprised me with provision. Thank you for showing me a better way. You have promised to never take away your covenant of peace (Isaiah 54:10). Please forgive me for failing to come to you with all my anxieties, for trying to make it once again on my own. I cannot do this life-thing alone! Please lead and guide me once more in the way of peace. May I rest in your great river. Amen.”

Ladies, what is your story? What is God doing in your heart and life today? Are you ready to share it?

- Bethany Tippin, Publicity Leader