Friday, May 31, 2013

It's All About the Money....

As a kid I remember the first "big ticket" item I saved my money to purchase. It was in the Service Merchandise catalog. It was $36.99. It was a gold banded Timex watch, that looked a little like THIS (except in 1987 14ct gold). I was 13 years old. I had barely started babysitting and jobs were few and far between. It seemed like every time I earned ten bucks my parents were reminding me to tithe and save. Spending wasn't really talked most kids I didn't really have any trouble doing that!

Now it's time for me to start really teaching my own kids about money and I can hear my mom and dad's voice in the back of my head....tithe, save...then spend. It's true....I sound a lot like my mom these days. So, I've been trying to talk to Savannah and Tucker about how to manage their meager money. Along with mastering percentages, Savannah is learning to think about purchases more before she makes them. She's signed up for discounts at her favorite stores and receives the occasional e-coupon on her iPod touch. She's making progress, but still needs much, much, much guidance....and I need a recorder with my parents voice ringing out "tithe, save, spend."

Tucker's a whole nother 7 years of age he barely understand that we don't have a money tree growing in the back yard. I've started paying both the kids for EXTRA chores at home. He is understanding that when he works he gets paid and when he doesn't money exchanges hands. He enjoys earning a quarter here and there and is ready to open a back account for all his cash (his words).

There are plenty of resources out there to help us teach our kids about money. If we don't teach them, someone will. The world's methods of dealing with money is to borrow, borrow, borrow. But as Christians, we know God's Word teaches against that. So, if I am going to do my job well, I've got to instruct them according to God's word. Here are a few resources that might be helpful as you do the same:

Dave Ramsey's Junior Clubhouse

Compass has two great books The ABC's of Handling Money and The Secret to Handling Money God's Way. has a great article about talking about money with your kids.

Money Matters for Teens

Just because your family may not have a lot of money (its all relative anyway) doesn't give us as parents the excuse not to teach them about money. If we don't do it somebody will. I don't know about you, but, I've looked around and am pretty sure the world doesn't know how to do it God's way.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Gifts....Thankful Thursday

A few things that I'm especially thankful for this week:

1. I found a $100 Lowe's gift card I had misplaced over 2 years ago. Ironic that I found it just a few days after I started deep cleaning my house and needed to buy little things like the blind wand that broke off the wood blinds 2 years ago, the toilet paper holder thing-a-ma-jig that holds the tp between the actual holder (that was specific wasn't it?), a shoe organizer, lightbulbs and a plastic shelving unit for my laundry room? I think not.

2. For the 10 potatoes that I dug up out of my garden. I know, I know....not a big yield....but still, after all they survived to just be with us today...2 late winter freezes, being mowed down not once, not twice...but three times...well, I think they deserve a standing ovation!

3. For the $25 pool that is making the summer more fun for the kids. Sure it's a glorified kiddie pool but it's already paid for itself by providing countless hours of fun for them. And it's cool and wet!

4. For the encouragement of God's Word. I've been revisiting some of my favorite Psalms in preparation for substitute teaching in Sunday School and I'm more convinced than ever of God's goodness, faithfulness and overwhelming protection over my life.

What are you thankful for today?

Thankful Thursday and One Thousand Gifts

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Your Home Under Fire

I was reminded today at lunch that my home is under fire.

A godly woman spoke the words I've thought a thousand times.

"There is no place Satan wants in more than your home." 

Within the walls of our homes are the things that most women cherish the most...our husbands and our children. Not much else matters when counting our tangible blessings. But, what I've been pondering lately is what can I do to protect and shelter my home from the fiery darts of the enemy. I know that the world is wrestling for my kids and my husband...and me, but I want, within the walls of our home, for there to be some sense of safety. A sheltering place, a refuge, a place where we've prepared and prayed and planned for the distractions of this world to be less.

Is it possible?

I don't know. (I say that a lot). I guess there are no guarantees but I'd like to think that God would honor our efforts to prepare our homes as a sanctuary for holiness, as a place where Satan and his agents are not welcomed by invitation. Here are a few things that we're working on at our home to safeguard our greatest treasures.

1. Pray together... at meals, at bedtime, at devotions, when you hear a siren, when someone is sick, when something good happens, when you're fearful. Pray out loud together. This models for your kids that you go to God in everything. I found out a neat little tidbit at the end of the school year with my kids. Bruce always took the kids to school since I left to teach so early. He was out of town towards the end of the year and we were riding together to school and one of the kids piped up that it was their day to pray. Seems that they had been taking turns praying on the way to school all year long. Way to go dad!

2. Censor your media viewing...Whether it's TV, magazines, music videos, the internet. I've been too lax in this area in the past. Although we've had a boundary it hasn't been near what it should be and unfortunately many of the attitudes and actions and vocabulary that kids pick up are influenced heavily by TV. So, earnestly pray about and be aware of what your kids watch...and what you watch too. Just because you're an adult doesn't mean that you're untouchable. The attitudes of the enemy are not selective when he throws his fiery darts.

3. Talk about issues. The dinner table is a great place to talk about what's going on in the world (given that your kids are a little older). Healthy debate and biblical foundations can be formed and polished if you know how God's Word applies to issues. This not only helps your kids form a Biblical worldview, it also keeps the up to date with current events and issues that they may be faced to defend of take a stand against. Home is a great place to practice defending your faith.

4. Keep perspective of eternity. There's an old saying that says "Don't be so heavenly minded that you're no earthly good". I've meet people through the years (and might have actually been that person in some instances) that knew so much about what God's word had to say, yet the way they conveyed their information was so contrary to the love filled way God presents Himself. We can't grow weary in doing right. God's word tells us we will reap what we sow. However, if all I do is produce a generation of children that knows the legalities of God's word without the heart knowledge of Christ Jesus, I may instead raise a generation of arrogant, self consumed, holier than thou kids, who only know rules and not grace. Eternity is about grace. Remember that.

5. Treasure you time with your spouse. If like most couples, it's not near as much as you would like, but nevertheless, don't underestimate the power of a thirty minute talk over the grill, 15 minutes of quiet time before the kids get up or a once a month date night. Satan wants nothing more than to get you so busy so that you can't fit time with your spouse in your schedule. It's those moments spent in conversation or just in quiet comfort that your relationship is renewed, strengthened and made more fireproof. Neglect this point and you'll probably move from happy to lonely to looking for something to fill your heart vacancies...and that's where you'll need the fire department...because your home will be under fire.

Of course this list isn't exhaustive. We could talk for hours about ways to safeguard our most valuable commodities. I'm wondering, what would you add to the list.... share it in a comment.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

10 Things...that make my day

I am generally a positive person. Generally. But every now-n-then, just like you, life stumps me, trips me up and instead of looking up, I get down. However, there are a few things that can put a smile on my face pretty quickly...

1. Hearing my kids use good manners. I like this. A lot. I like to hear them being polite and grateful and respectful. Especially when they do it on their own.

2. A Diet Coke from Diary Queen....with their ice...out of the fountain. I would buy one of those machines (ice and fountain) for my house if I had room. Maybe.

3. A new magazine in the mail. Southern Living, Better Homes, Taste of Home...and in a pinch, I'll rate some catalogs as good as a magazine...YWAM, CBD, Country Door.

4. Hearing a favorite artist on the radio....JJ Heller, Jimmy Needham, Merideth Andrews

5. Listening to the testimony of God working in someone's life.

6. Hearing from our missionaries.

7. A new sharpie pen....slight addiction...

8. An empty laundry basket....rarely happens...but when it does we observe a moment of silence.

9. The jingle of keys in the door that signals Bruce is home from work.

10. Time with my church family....truly some of the greatest people on earth!

What makes your day?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday's Reading

Hopefully you're able to enjoy this Lord's Day basking in His goodness. Here are a few of my favorite links this week...articles and music that spoke to me. Maybe you'll have time today to take a look.

1. I Know Who You Are - JJ Heller writes songs about real life and Jesus. This is a song is powerful for anyone...but especially someone who is going through a time of faith testing.

2. Memorial Day Activities you can do with your Kids...via The Pioneer Woman

3. Audio Spanish Lessons...for FREE!! I think I will use these with my kids in the fall. They also have French Lessons.

4. Religion and the Oklahoma tornadoes ...a little warning...there is a little course language that I wish wasn't there...but it's a good article otherwise...and one that my heart resonates with.

5. Article about Teaching our kids to serve others... and fight the feeling of entitlement. HERE

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

This week started with attending the funeral of a godly grandmother of one of the ladies in our church. Monday I sat and listened as this  godly grandmother was memorialized. What a blessing to hear of someone who honored the Lord with her life. What a comfort to her family!

There was more cleaning out...overhauling...mopping...sweeping...scrubbing as I managed to finish deep cleaning the house. There are a few remaining piles to go through and several tiny jobs still to be done but for the most part, there's not an inch of the house that hasn't had a good cleaning.

I have a slight addiction to sharpie markers...please don't judge

In the cleaning out, Tucker and I came across his coveralls from just 2 years ago....

Is he allowed to grow this much in just 18 months?
I also had a little time to start this little Thom Ranier, President of Lifeway. So far, it's the best explanation and teaching book on church membership. He delves into all the uncomfortable churchy issues with biblical perspective. I'm loving it so far.

These girls twisted my arm and made me take them to Dairy Queen before church Wednesday Night

Lizzie and Savannah....Can I freeze time here too???

And...last but not least....friends are getting married today...Love is in the air...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Happened on Wednesday

Church dismissed at 7:30pm. Or so I thought. What I didn't bank on happening was that Bruce would want to stay and throw a game of spades with some of the guys (is a pastor supposed to throw spades after church, at church ...that's another blog post). So as I meandered to the parking lot I ran into a couple of moms....and for the next hour and 15 minutes...we had...dare I say it, an extended church service.

Oh, the conversation actually started with talk of my new ride. Humbly I got to share again how good God was to give us such a blessing...(thanksgiving). Then one of the moms started talking about mom know, kids, school, discipline, parenting, struggles, failures, concerns. In my heart and with my voice I too admitted some of my "stuff" and how God was teaching me some of those very uncomfortable lessons. Each of us casually shared verses and encouragement and wise counsel (edification). We talked of God's faithfulness, God's wisdom, God's patience with us as we learn our way, His Spirit guiding us (worship). And after an hour of sharing and listening and admonishing each other to stay faithful to this eternal job of parenting and mothering and womanhood, I left feeling blessed, encouraged and motivated. And hopefully they did too.

Sometimes you just need the after church church service. The one that takes place in the parking lot or the church foyer or at Dairy Queen eating an ice cream cone. Sometimes you need those iron sharpens iron conversations...the ones that aren't meant to condemn, but to create an atmosphere of motivation to do your best...get focused. Sometimes you need a good swift kick from a friend to get your act together, to get back on track, to high tale yourself out of a sticky situation.

God isn't limited to meeting with us within the walls of our auditoriums in our church buildings. I love gathering corporately with my church family. I enjoy the time we spend together in worship and fellowshipping and teaching and preaching. But, forbid it Lord, if I miss YOU in the parking lot, where three moms happen to meet after church. Help me to see Your timing as a means to minister and be ministered to, instead of an interruption. God's busy all the time...He does not slumber or sleep....

I'm keeping my heart more open to where and when He wants to meet with me in unexpected places.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When the Wind Blows...the Mighty Rushing Wind

Just 48 hours ago, Oklahoma residents never would have guessed that their homes would be blown away by a devastating tornado. Just 48 hours ago, they were sitting at work, attending school, working their jobs, changing diapers...doing what we do...LIFE.

And then the wind blew. Not just a little. It was scary. It was dangerous. It was uncertain. It was horrifying for school children, grandparents, grown men and stay at home moms. It took the last breaths  of 24 (at latest count) and injured over 200.

So today Americans do what they know how to do. They put aside differences and out of the core of our humanity, we help. We send manpower, food, water, gloves, toilet paper. We give money and resources and time and talents and we try to make it better. And we do...sort of.

But in these moments of deep and dark despair, when we can't really make things better...we can't restore homes, we can't bring children back to life....we can't rebuild lives. What can we do that will last longer and speak deeper to a people who are desperate to make sense of it all?

I don't know.

I don't.

What I do know is that there's only one thing that's ever brought true, lasting comfort to me and that's Jesus. His presence, His Spirit, consoling my spirit. His presence can sweep over a room and calm a troubled mind. It can convict a criminal on the cross and yes, it can rush over a city in Oklahoma and speak peace in every ear. Maybe what Oklahoma needs...what we all need... is that mighty rushing wind...that is so different than the tornado winds of May 20, 2013. The rushing wind that builds up, unites, gives peace and comfort and hope and promise of new life.

That's what I pray for Oklahoma...that the mighty rushing wind would come over your state tonight, that comfort and peace would sustain you as you search through rubble and treasures and trash and devastation. May His presence reign over you.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic

Over the last six months I've poured over homeschool curriculum, wanting to make the best choices for the kind of learners my kids are. What I've learned is that if you want to homeschool, there's a curriculum for you! It's overwhelming and a little daunting, but in the end, I feel like we've made some good choices for our 2013-2014 school year.

Tucker and Savannah will both be using Kay Arthur's Inductive Bible Study Series for Children. We will be doing six, six week workbooks. Check them out HERE.

They will also be doing US and World Geography using Youth with a Mission (YWAM) curriculum.
You can take a look at their WEBSITE . They also have hundreds of biographies of Christian historical figures and religious heroes. It's an impressive collection. Both kids will be reading missionary biographies from this site.

Savannah will be using Alpha and Omega's Horizons Math again. We have found that this is a challenging curriculum and although I strongly considered changing to Math U See, I decided to keep her in something familiar.

Tucker will also be using Horizon's Math. He's done ABeka since PreK and I think this will be a pretty good transition for him.

For Language Arts, Savannah will be using Alpha and Omega's LifePACs. Of all the decisions I've made this is the one I'm most apprehensive, I only ordered the first 4, to get us to Christmas and if it's not a good fit, I won't feel too guilty, since they aren't that expensive.

Tucker will be doing the Horizons Penmanship, which will introduce cursive during the second half of the year. He will also be doing the Horizons Reading and Phonics program, along with the phonics special sounds he has learned through his years doing ABeka.

I'm still searching for a science curriculum. The kids want to study Oceanography, so I'm looking for something along those lines, with a Biblical worldview. Suggestions? Leave a comment, please!

Along with the missionary biographies, Savannah will be reading the 10 book, Reel Kid's Adventure Series . These are books about young people who take the gospel to the ends of the earth. On their adventures Savannah will learn about people groups, geography and a broader worldview. She will also read Anne of Green Gables, The Brian Series by Gary Paulsen and anything else she can get her hands on! Tucker will be reading the TIME LIFE Children's Adventure books, The Happy Hollisters (yes, we are kickin' it old school) and the Ready Freddy series.

 We're planning on doing some cooking, library trips, field trips with friends, art and maybe some sort of cooking or baking class - plus keep up with piano and taekwondo.

Now, deep breath and enjoy the summer!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekend Wrap

It's been 48 hours since I became a domestic engineer again and I am happy to report that you can not only see the top of the kitchen table, you can also find things in the pantry, open cabinet doors without first checking your last will and testament and your feet don't stick to the floor as you walk across the kitchen and dining room. Yes, I've been cleaning, organizing and decluttering and it's taken me two days to get the kitchen and dining room under control. 

But I don't care. I'm not stressed about it. In fact, dare I say it, it was almost enjoyable. The kids chipped in and helped wipe down baseboards and doors, haul out trash, organize the pots and pans and other kid-friendlier chores. We've swept and mopped and rearranged. All in all...job well done!

And just in case you're worried that we might be all work and no play...

Tucker tickled my toes while we enjoyed some time in the backyard sun.

Lucas and Tucker with 7th degree black belt Master
at their  taekwondo testing Friday.

Savannah breaking her boards to earn her blue belt.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The First Day....of the rest of my life

I've been dreaming of the day that I would be staying home as a full time wife and mom. And the time is now. After working in some form or fashion for the last 20 years (10 of them as a mom), I am  overwhelmed and in awe that God has heard my cry to stay home with my kids and concentrate on that calling in my life. To say this road has been an easy one to pass would be a lie. We've counted the cost of becoming a one income family and decided it is totally worth it. I've wondered if I will be going crazy sometime in the middle of our homeschooling year next November or December and have determined, that I'm sure somewhere along the way, I'll end up sending a SOS flare up to the sky. all the unknowns and costs and fears, one thing is certain, I have watched my God direct us each step of the way, and I know that same God will take care of all the incidentals the rest of the way.

In September of last year, I started teaching a Wednesday Night small group of ladies at my church. We did a book studying using Priscilla Shirer's Resolution for Women. We were bopping along quite nicely until I was preparing for week five. I was sitting in my chair in the front living room and remember exactly the feeling that came over me, when I read this:

5. A Resolution To Devote My Best to God’s Priorities For Me

I will seek to devote the best of myself, my time, and my talents to the primary roles the Lord has entrusted to me in this phase of my life.

And it hit me. Like bricks falling off a truck or a football player being tackled....either was rough. I had been burning the proverbial candle at both ends of the stick. I was trying to juggle all the mom stuff, wife stuff, church stuff, school teacher stuff, friend stuff and I was tired, sick, run down and felt myself becoming irritated with things that used to bring me great joy. I definitely wasn't giving my best to any of the God-given priorities in my life. I was giving my best to things that I chose for myself and the priorities that God had given me were suffering. And I knew it. 

Over Christmas break I had planned to overhaul my house, thinking that if I could just get a handle on things that I could put this gnawing feeling behind me and refocus with a fresh start. But instead I ended up with the flu and bronchitis and was wiped out. I hadn't felt good in months, the Dr. looked at me and said, "rest". 

But I didn't want to rest, I wanted to work in my house and cook meals and do all the things that I never had time to do because of the other things I was juggling. But I went to bed for a few days, and as I laid there I knew what I needed to do. And in the back of my mind, it's what I have desired for years and years but for one reason or another couldn't/wouldn't do. I needed to quit my job and stay home and give my best to my husband, our kids and our church. Because, that's what God has called me to for this phase of my life. 

I will never have a 10 and 7 year old again. Tucker and Savannah are growing up and the time will be gone before I know it. God gave me a preacher husband and for as long as I can remember we've been better together in ministry than separate so I want to serve with him as much as I can. I want to aim to be the Proverbs 31 woman whose home is in order, children are in order and whose husband can depend on her. 

It amazes me that God has allowed everything to work out beautifully. His work once again. 

I'm thankful for my years teaching and in other professions along the way. I'm happy that I had the privilege to teach for three years at our church/school. But now it's time to put that energy into my own family and see where that takes us!  Today truly is the first day of the rest of my life!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Favor

I'm notorious for under-emphasizing the favor of God on my life. I think if we're honest, most of us are that way. I know I would certainly complain less and throw fewer pity parties if I would just think about how God's favor, His grace and His blessings are all around me.

Now before you think I am going all Pollyanna/Mary Poppins on you, let me assure you...I'm very aware of struggles, hurts, grief. But it seems like we can spend an enormous part of our lives wrapped up in "ME" that we miss the God stuff that happens.

Recently, God's been showing off. We've needed a new(er) car for about a year now. One of ours had 182,000 miles and the other 120,000 and neither has been exceptionally road worthy lately. We had saved some money for a down payment, knew we could get something for our trade in (albeit a small amount of something) and just figured we would buy a midsized car or a small SUV...but what we really needed was something that we could fit at least 6 passengers in. Well, lo and behold what landed in our laps was a two year old large SUV with bells and whistles and more stuff than I've ever seen....and did I mention we got way more than our trade in should have brought in...and that the price was exactly where we were comfortable. And it's beautiful...truly. In much so that I caught myself apologizing...almost embarrassed by the blessing. (Wouldn't the enemy just LOVE that?)

And did I mention, as we were pulling off the lot, I was crying. Bruce looked over at me ...bewildered ('cause that's how I like to keep him :) and said, "What?" I just shook my head and said, "I just can't believe how good God is to us...over and over and over." See, HIS favor gives us things we don't always ask safety features, and electric and USB plugs, and heated AND cooled seats and other stuff that I don't really NEED but sure are nice to have. His favor gives us extras....extra features on a car, extra patience when dealing with children, extra grace when we mess up, extra money at the end of the month. His favor is unlimited and undeserved.

So the next time I'm tempted to dwell on myself and my disappointments, I'm going to work a little harder to remember HIS favor, HIS blessings, HIS extras that make knowing HIM the biggest blessing of all and I'm going to remind myself that the only one who gets the glory when I don't acknowledge the favor of God is the enemy...and seriously...what woman of God wants that?

Tomorrow...I will talk a bit more on I said, He's been showing off.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Thank You Note


Thanks for answering my prayer to be a mother, for opening my womb when doctors said the opposite.

Thanks for all the moments of complete joy you give me through my children and for the moments that you bring me to my knees because of their flaws, my flaws and the disastrous combination those flaws bring.

Thank you for the quiet moments, snuggling, reading, watching, learning...and for the loud roar of laughter, cheers, games and excitement.

For the tiny moments you let me peak into what you're doing in their lives...their souls...thank you.

For the many things you've taught me through them...thank you.

For fevers and chills and bumps and bruises. Thank you.

For nights spent waiting up, nursing a sick stomach, sharing heart to hearts. Thank you.

Because in these moments you've met with me. You've given me a glimpse into Your heart for your children. You've parented me...taught me, guided me, shepherded my heart. And all those things I've needed so I could be more like you. Thank you..thank you..thank you.

Because without you...your hand of grace guiding me, this task would overtake me. And while, daily, I feel overwhelmed, inadequate, messy and challenged, you've got this parenting job down and I'm learning that is all that really knowing the master parent.

Thank. You.

Really...Thank. You. This daughter thanks you.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Going to the Chapel

Late last week we made the quickest of trips to GA to see my sister get married and to help with the festivities. Here's a sneak peak into our adventures.

We left Texas at 12:30pm on Wednesday and drove straight through to Georgia. We arrived at 2am. We had called ahead to see if we could get our room early at the Inn we were staying at for the wedding. We weren't sure if we would drive all night but if we could we wanted to be able to get in our room. We had read on the Inn website that they don't man their office 24/7 so if you're coming in after hours they needed to know in advance so they could...leave a light on for us ...or in this case, leave the key in an envelope, with our name on it,  taped to the office door!!! I guess they are pretty trusting!

The next day we had a few hours to spare so we went to one of Georgia's best attractions, Callaway Gardens. We went to a bird show, the butterfly atrium, the vegetable gardens and drove around the gardens to see all the things we hope to come back to do at a later date. It was beautiful.

We met back at the pool at the inn, where my sister and soon to be groom, Genay, were. As we were pulling in we saw my brother, mom and step dad checking in. Soon the entire family was dipping their feet in the cool pool water....and my own two fishes were all the way in, sword fighting with the pool noodles. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and came back to the officiant's cabin to get instructions for the next morning. Headed back to the inn for showers and hit the hay.

The weather could not have been more gorgeous for the wedding...the bride was stunning..and my own two kids were pretty darn cute. Savannah was the junior bridesmaid and Tucker was the ring bearer. I played the piano, Bruce did the video, my niece was the flower girl ...truly a family affair.

After the short ceremony my mom had prepared a scrumptious lunch for everyone. We shared a meal with the rest of the guests and the married couple and packed up so the couple could have some privacy..which I don't really think they got until they made it home the next day...but still.

We enjoyed the next 48 hours with the rest of the family and headed back home via Duck Commander in Monroe, Louisiana. No sighting of the beards, but had fun snooping around.

Waiting on official bridal pics before I post pictures of the bride. She was beautiful...and the groom was handsome too! Wishing them the best as they begin their new life as one.