Saturday, September 6, 2014

Faithfulness, Fun, Soap Operas and Older Men

We're starting a series at church on the family. And the first week is on dads. I always cringe because in so many homes dads are absent...some physically and some emotionally and too often spiritually....even in so-called Christian homes. The differences between Christian homes and non-Christian homes are becoming less and less obvious. So as I think back to my imperfect...yet wonderful childhood I was thinking of my own dad and the things that he did to help influence who I am today...for better or for's some of what I know.

1. My dad went to church. And his family went too. Every Sunday. Every Wednesday. It wasn't a question of would we go to church...ever. He modeled for us even before an accountable age, that it was good to go to the house of the Lord. He modeled submitting himself to teaching and preaching and worship that filled his heart and soul and made him stronger in his walk with the Lord.
Oh...did I mention he also worked on Sundays. Most of my childhood my dad left as soon as church was over and headed to his sales job. He hated working on Sunday's....but he also needed a he worked Sunday afternoons and rarely ever missed a church service. It was his priority. It was important to him. Was he ever tired? Was he ever spent? Was he ever empty? Yes....all the more reason he went to church. He modeled faithfulness. Did he have to? Would people have understood? I don't just never came up. He was his own man though and I doubt what anyone would have said would have mattered much anyway, if he felt like he was doing what the Lord wanted him too. By his faithfulness I learned to be faithful, to love my church, to submit myself to sound Biblical teaching.

2. My dad was fun. He did special things that weren't costly with his kids. Bringing home a candy bar for each of us on Fridays after a good week at school, taking us to a Braves game, videoing every one of our basketball games, shooting hundreds of free throws with us, playing UNO. We just hung out. He wasn't overly involved in any personal hobbies except woodworking and even that wasn't priority.
By this, I learned that life is full of wonderful fun experiences meant to be shared with others, I learned that little things mean a lot and that sometimes just surviving the week deserves the reward of a candy bar.

3. He dated my mom. And by date I every day. You know how when you were dating and your date would leave your house and you'd walk them to the door and give them a little kiss. Well, my parents did this every single day of my childhood. Except it wasn't just a little soap opera dramatic kiss. And of course we were grossed out....but one thing we knew...our parents loved each other. And then every month they would have an evening out. Just the two of them....while me and my brother and sister stayed home and ate TV dinners (which by the way, was a little highlight for us...yes, we were weird). By dating my mom, and loving her the way he did, it made me realize that life long love in marriage doesn't just happen, it's cultivated, nurtured and even scheduled.

4. My dad said no. At a point in my teen years, a guy quite a bit older showed some interest in me. As  most girls would have been, I was flattered and actually returned some of the feelings. There were some secret glances and smiles and notes passed between us.....until he approached my dad. I remember my mom and dad telling me that there would be no relationship. I remember how mad and hurt and embarrassed I was. How humiliated I felt because my dad had spoken directly with this young man. I remember the tears and the journal entries and the frustration I felt. And yet, my dad didn't change his mind or give in or even stretch the rules for me. He said no...and by saying no, he was proving his love for me. He was protecting me. He was handling my heart like someone who really cared. And as a parent...I can only hope that Bruce and I do the same thing with our own kids. By saying dad was saying a better yes....a yes to my heart being protected and guarded when I was too young and immature to understand. By saying no, and sticking to it, he was showing me that he knew what was best for me, that I could not manipulate him, that my emotions would not rule him. He was saying no FOR to the hurt I might have experienced, no to my sneakiness and no to the foolishness the situation would have brought into our family.

I could write so much more...but I only want to say that when my dad died when I was 18, he had already taught me so much about life, love, God and people. He chose wisely for himself. He chose to be a husband and a dad. And today....through that I see that as an adult, although he isn't here on earth, I have been over the top influenced by him.

He missed the special moments that girls dream of having their dads there for...

Meeting my future husband
My wedding
My college graduation
My children's births
Major life decisions

But he, without even realizing it, prepared me for those things in his own way. His life-way.

That's what dads need to know today. So many things CAN influence your kids...but you have the choice to prioritize those things. Make the important things the main things and let the other stuff fall to the wayside. Be an over the top influencer in your kids lives. They will thank you later.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Pack it Up!

I am sitting in a house full of boxes. Wishing this house would pack itself. But that isn't going to happen and because I don't particularly like turning into Godzilla's wife, I am trying to pace this packing so that nobody has to see the ugly side of a stressed out wife and mom. One nice thing about this move is the kids are old enough to help some and we're trying to make a little bit of a game of it. So far they aren't hating me.

Here in my house of boxes, I'm trying to be very careful with what I fill each box with. I'm considering each item before it's placed in a I use it, need it, like it, want it???? Is it broken? Can it be fixed? Does it have a hole in it? Tear? Missing a button. Let's just face it....there's about half my current house that might have a tough time making the grade for the new (old) house. But I'm trying to save myself some time on the other end of the move. So with each item being considered. It either goes in the box, in the trash or in the garage sale/ give away pile. 

The same should be true as we evaluate ourselves. Sometimes we need a spiritual deep cleaning. Where we take the time to evaluate the things we are taking along with us as we journey in life. Have we filled our lives with things that have no real value...broken things, things we don't really love, things that weigh us down? In considering what we hold on to, are we tightly grasping things that are not good for us? It's time to let it go (cue Frozen music). God wants to fill our lives with so many things that are good and right. Things that will encourage us, others and help us to shine the light of His glory through us. But when our boxes are so full of us, and stuff (even kinda good stuff), and broken things, and trash and activities, it's hard to make room for the good stuff....and sometimes even when there is room it is so overshadowed by our own stuff and agendas and schedules that we can't see the good stuff for the bad stuff. 

As I pack up, I am feeling a freedom in chunking some of my stuff and I'm feeling excited to pass along some items for others to use too. And the stuff I am keeping...well it has meaning and value in my home. It's exciting to be able to really use and enjoy what you have....and the same is true spiritually speaking. Keep the good, discard the used up, broken and life-sucking stuff and share your abundance. 

Now...back to the boxes!

Thursday, September 4, 2014


"Comparison is the thief of joy".....ain't that the truth.

I don't remember my parents comparing me to anyone...but I remember from an early age being compared to others....because....I was short.

It happened in the first Thanksgiving program I was in at my school in kindergarten. The song....Five Fat Turkeys Are We (Pretty sure they aren't singing that one any's not PC). Line up shortest to tallest...and immediately all the tallest went to the back row and all the shortest stayed in the front row. and then they arranged us again...tallest to tall and short to shortest. And there I was..the shortest of the short.

That situation followed me pretty much my entire elementary school career. And middle school. And college. Comparison robbed my joy more than once...when I wanted to stand by a friend, or have a better view of the audience or wanted to hear the harmonies better in a choir.

As an adult I've managed to do the self comparison thing at Emmy winning levels. In my twenties...comparing what I didn't have to what others had.....babies.

In my thirties comparing my body image, my parenting style, my home and even my walk with the Lord robbed me of the joy of embracing the gifts that God had given me.

My fortieth birthday came and went with a bang....seriously funny stuff happened and something not so funny happened too. Something clicked (it wasn't my hip). I realized I had managed to have friends and loving family who loved me just the way I am....and even more importantly I had a God who didn't compare my walk with Charles or Andy (Stanley) or Beth (Moore) or Ann (Voskamp). He looked at me...and wanted nothing more than for me to live this incredible life designed just for me to honor and glorify Him with. Through my strengths, my weaknesses and my goofiness and my insecurities. He didn't want me to be comparing my height or weight or parenting or talents or anything else.

And what's happened? Well two years later...God's helping me embrace this girl he designed. I'm still prone to wander, but I am learning to love who he made me to be....

A woman after His heart
A wife to an amazing man
A mom to two fantastic kids
A unique pastor's wife
A friend
An antique/junk loving collector
A journaler
A Cheerleader (for my family, friends and church)

And I don't have any other standard except the ones that God outlines for me in HIS Word. And believe me ...that's enough! I've spent too many years wondering if I measured up or if I was doing anything right....Let me tell you...that's exactly where the enemy wants us. And there's no amount of doing things right that will fix that. Only embracing this plan God made and designed for you will really bring you lasting joy and fulfillment. I'm glad for the wake-up call. And for the reminders of what a work He's doing in my life. He is making all things new in me. Something beautiful.

So if you're finding yourself in the season of comparison....lacking the joy God longs for you to encouraged to embrace the person God created you to be ....not for yourself....but because it honors and glorifies our creator.

More at ...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Using What You Have

I'm on a mission to use as many of the groceries I have in my house right now before the move at the end of the month. Needless to say our meals are going to be getting more and more interesting as the month moves along. However, using what you have is a concept of good stewardship that I really need to be more mindful of on a regular basis.

As I was thinking about this, I thought even how much more this concept runs true spiritually speaking. Each week I sit under 4 plus hours of sound biblical teaching, have my own personal time with the Lord and then I read more than a couple really inspirational blogs and books regularly. But how many times do I actually use what I'm learning...the Biblical instruction, the good ideas, the use of God's does me no good to have it if I am not striving to apply it to my life. This is an area that I can become so complacent in...much like the groceries that are shoved to the back of the pantry...I know the can of peas is back there....and in a pinch I can use them...they aren't my first, second or even third choice...but if I am super hungry and it's all that's left...I can make do. I CAN eat them. Sometimes I find myself treating my spiritual life the same way. Rating the goodness of the verses, trying everything BUT going to the Word...looking at it with distaste as if it was not good for me.

It's a trap. One set by the enemy to entice us to go towards other fixes for our issues. But the only real fix for ourselves is His Word. It's the best there is. Friends might have good advice and well intentioned counselors might encourage your heart, but in the middle of the night when all that stands between you and your thoughts is the Word of God....realize.. you've got everything you could ever need. Right there.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Back on Track

It's no secret. I love when school starts. The steady rhythm of routine. The promise of cooler weather. The nights home alone as a football widow....LOL. Yep...I love every last bit of it. And I didn't even talk about the food....that deserves it's very own stand alone post.

This fall finds our family in the middle of a bit of craziness. School starts tomorrow, I start teaching piano lessons tomorrow, Savannah is playing volleyball, we're starting new ministries at the church and oh...we're moving. 

You might remember about a year ago when I posted about the 2 acre farm that we hoped to build....well...sometimes plans change. For over a year we've worked hard to pay off the land and to try to decide on fact I think I've pinned over 200 house plans...but nothing ever felt completely right. The idea of building excited me...and horrified Bruce and we had trouble finding peace together. Who knew it would be so hard to agree? (Those who have ever built a house with your spouse are frantically screaming at your computer..."we did, we did"..LOL) So we had just about decided on staying put...slowing down our plans...and just dreaming a little longer. Until I received a text about a 114 year old farmhouse ... be still my heart. I forwarded it to Bruce and his response was surprisingly..."Let's go look at it tomorrow".  After two more looks and an inspection we made an offer, it was accepted and we put our house on the market. And 20 days later we had a contract on our current house. It's all happened so fast! 

We've living in an old house before...the first house we bought was 100 years we are aware that old houses need special fact we have our fair share of painting and scraping and elbow grease ahead of us. But this new house definitely has some things going for it....awesome character, hardwood floors, an in ground swimming pool and lots more. It's got great bones and details. We are so excited!

God's timing has been impeccable (always is) in this process. And we weren't even looking. I'm thankful He knows what's best for us...even when we don't pay particularly good attention! In fact...I pinned the top house on pinterest last year, the bottom picture is the house we hope to be in at the end of the month: 

So....September for the Stinson's is going to be crazy....But we are embracing it....trying to stay on track with school and everything else....and we're busy packing up boxes...everyday. We will be the best kind of tired at the end of this month!