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Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful thought 30

The end of the month. The end of "Thankful Thought" posts. Hopefully not the end of thankfulness. I want to practice not just "Thanksgiving"  but especially "Thanks-living".  For all God has done, for all He is doing....and for all He will do in the future.

Today's Thankful Thought....Heaven.  Heaven is as real to me as Athens, GA.  I look forward to my new home there.  To the folks I love who have gone on before me.  To the folks I know OF but don't know personally - giants in the faith, like Corrie Tin Boom.  Peter the Apostle.  Ruth Graham.  John the Revelator.  Moses's Mom.  To the treasure I have sent on ahead.  To the rewards Jesus promised to those who love Him and look for His appearing. 

I am excited about Life in Heaven.  God promises pleasures forever.  Think about that.  We relentlessly pursue temporary pleasures here.  But there - it will be permanent pleasures.  We will scarcely be able to contain our joy!  We will have sweet fellowship with friends and family.  We will be free from pain and disease and sin.  Oh, glory!

That will be so fantastic that we can hardly imagine it.  I long for Heaven.All that it will bring.  For me and mine.

But most of  all, I will love seeing Jesus.  I wonder if I will laugh or cry or sing or dance or fall on my face or stand in silent amazement before Him. All of the above.  I just want to hug Him. And hear Him say...."Welcome Home".

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful thought 29

Huge thanks today - for God's promise that He is completing His work in me.  It's HIS work.  And HE promises that HE is completing it.  I am thankful.

My prayer is that I won't make His job so hard....

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent idea

Thanksgiving is done but I hope we are not done with giving thanks!  Especially as the season of celebrating Jesus is upon us. 

As a Mom, I wrestle each year with wanting Christmas to really be about CHRIST and not about shopping and wish lists and where to spend what with whom and why.  I love the trappings of the season (well, not all of them) but my heart would really rather unplug the Christmas machine and just focus on Jesus.  I have tried various things through the years to keep my family's eyes on the REASON for the SEASON.  Some have worked.  Such as limiting gifts, sticking to a budget, reading the Christmas story, having traditions that are family centered, directing our attention to service projects, and trying to manage our schedule so that we eat and sleep well enough to stay healthy. Other ideas didn't stick around long enough for anybody to recall them.  'Nough said.

This year, I am excited about how we plan to observe Advent. Our family has done a few different things in years gone by, but this year we will have a new idea.  I came to the Advent observation later in life, as we didn't focus on this season in my growing up church.  Not that I grew up deprived and need to go on the Jerry Springer show to air my disadvantage but I do think I missed out.  This is a beautiful season of preparation for Christmas...the real meaning of Christmas.  There are certainly as many different ways to observe advent as there are hearts to be prepared but I want to share what we will do, beginning on the first Sunday in December.  The Jesse Tree.

The Jesse Tree gets its name from the prophecy about the coming Savior in Isaiah 11:1 - "Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit."  Here, the prophet Isaiah gave God's people the news that their Savior would be from the line of David, the son of Jesse. It represents the genealogy of Christ.  The stem, the branch, the Jesse Tree. 

Each day during Advent, the story of Christ and God's plan of salvation are traced from Genesis all the way to His birth, showing the Scarlet Thread that runs all the way through Scripture.  Reminding us that Calvary was not God's "Plan B" but rather His divine and merciful intention from the beginning of time.  An ornament, representing each particular Scripture, is placed on a tree branch, secured ( somehow!) in a pot, each day, culminating with the baby in the manger on Christmas Day.  A short devotional reading explains what the ornament symbolizes and demonstates the plan of salvation, the promise of the Messiah, all the way through the Old Testament.

Since I am not an advertiser, I won't provide any certain links but you can google it and find several different helps if you decide you want your crew to do something similar.  A group of women whom are very significant in my life joined forces this past Spring and we made each of ourselves a set of these ornaments for our own Jesse Trees.  As my ornaments are placed on my Jesse Tree this year, they will hold special meaning times two....reminding me not only of God's gift of Jesus, but also His gift to me of these treasured women.  He surely is good to me.

Merry Christmas!

Thankful thought 28

Yesterday, I gave thanks for friends and family that make me laugh.  Today, I want to express thanks for friends that cry with me.  Sometimes a laugh won't work.  Only a good cry.  There are really very few folks that we will let cry with us.  It's more of a private thing.  But I am blessed to have folks in my live that cry with me.  And I am thankful.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thankful thought 27

I am thankful that I have lots of people in my life that make me laugh.  Foremost, my family.  They are just downright funny.  Every single one of them.  They make me laugh on a regular basis.  On purpose.  I am thankful for that.

A merry heart is good medicine.  And it is available without a prescription.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thankful thought 26

Today I am thankful for trips to the beach.  Not that I have any planned any time soon.  But I love the beach.  Sunrises over the water.  Walks in the tide.  Building castles in the sand.  Breathing salt air.  I am thankful that I get to visit the beach sometimes. 

Don't fret - I slather sunscreen everywhere!!!!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thankful thought 25

I am very thankful that God places mentors in the lives of my children. Some of the greatest folks ever to walk this earth are valuable contributors to my children.  They have coached them in sports, instructed them in manners, taught them in Sunday School and AWANA,  shared their love of music, been their friend,  and just "done life" with them.  The imprint of their influence on my children is indelible.  And I am thankful.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful thought 24

For the past 19 years, I have had the unspeakable privilege of being the main instructor for my children.  I am forever thankful for the opportunity to homeschool.  Although it's not always (uh, ever!) easy, it has always been worth it.

Not sure what I am going to do when Betsy graduates.....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful thought 23

I have several friends who have become my heroes because of their battle against cancer. What an awful war, one that requires so very much of its soldiers.  The physical, emotional, and mental costs are staggering.  So is the collateral damage. 

So, I am thankful for these brave friends.  They are fighting because they love life and their families. And, in my opinion, the very fact that they fight makes them victors.

As you celebrate your thankful thought today, please join me in praying for all our friends that are fighting this war they didn't choose.  Thanks.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful thought 22

Today is the apex of the Thanksgiving season so today, I give thanks for Jesus.  He is my source of Life, my best friend, my counselor, and my Redeemer.  I love Him because He first loved me.  Before I was born, before I was capable of anything, He loved me and chose me and paid the price that I couldn't pay so that I could be His Bride.

I thank God for Jesus and the amazing love that conceived this plan and brought it forth.  Praise His name!

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Watching it work

I don't think I could ever single out just one verse to declare it my favorite but I Thessalonians 2:13 certainly has to be ONE of my favorites.  "And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe."

That one little phrase "performs its work in you who believe" is what makes it a treasure to me.  The Greek word for "performs its work" is "energeo", meaning active and energetic, accomplishing action, proving strong.  We get our word "energy" from it.  This is what God's Word does in us - it is active (living and active,  Hebrews 4:12 tells us) in our lives, not static.  It is always at work in us, accomplishing what God wants to do in us.  God calls the process "sanctification".  Making saints out of sinners :)  Transforming us.  Working our salvation out from our spirit to our behavior.  Changing how we think, how we act, how we feel, who we are.

So, how do we tap into this energy?  This active and accomplishing power?  Can we just "claim" a few lines from the Bible each day and expect God to work His magic?  Recite a bunch of verses from time to time and watch ourselves turn into superheroes? Not.  That's where the remainder of the phrase comes in.  "in you who believe" .  God's Word does indeed perform its work.....in you who believe. 

What is belief?  Faith.  And what is faith? Mental assent?   God says  "By faith, Abraham...obeyed"  in Hebrews 11:8.  So,  "you who believe" means "you who obey".  Because if we believe what God's Word says, we will obey it. And when we obey it, we are demonstrating faith.  And faith pleases God.  In fact, without it, it is impossible to please God.  And it is His pleasure that works in us to transform us.

If I want to see more of God's energy, power, transformation in my life, I need to get His Word in me.  To read it regularly.  To meditate on it.  Memorize it.  Treasure it.  And then I need to believe it.  Obey it.  Live by it.  Arrange my life  around it. 

And watch it perform its work. 

Thankful thought 21

As thankful as I am for the internet and email, today I give thanks for snail mail letters.  There is just nothing like a handwritten note.  Makes my day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thankful thought 20

I am thankful for the internet.  I love being able to connect with friends all over the world, obtain answers to obscure questions, and shop in my pj's at 2 AM.  I know the internet also brings potential hazards but I think it is like any other tool - just matters whose hands it is in.  And I love the internet.  Whomever it is that invented it :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful thought 19

The Bible.  I am thankful for God's Word.  That it is infallible, living, active, transforming, and redemptive.  I LOVE God's Word. Love to read it, teach it, and, yes, I love to obey it!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful thought 18

I am thankful EVERY DAY for my grandson, Jonathan.  Now I know you are shocked that I am a grandmother - of course I am not old enough to be one!  But Jonathan's mother has always done everything early (Ok, except maybe getting ready for church.  yeah, maybe not that one.  at least when she was riding with me....).  So she got married and wasted no time in making me a Grandmother.  Since I am clearly not old enough to be one, I don't have a "grandmotherly" name.  I am Suzie.  Jonathan's Suzie.

And I am thankful for him.  He is perfect.  Truly.  Just ask Cap'n.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful thought 17

Being thankful is contagious!  I am catching it from myself - the exercise of expressing these "thankful thoughts" is spreading throughout my day.  I am thankful for being thankful!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful thought 16

Today, I praise God for the gift of forgiveness.  First, from Him.  That He would be willing to forgive is nothing short of amazing and incredible.  I don't deserve His mercy.  None of us do.

Because of His forgiveness to us, we are empowered...and motivated...to extend it to others.  Again, amazing and incredible.  I am grateful for the forgiveness I have received from others and for that which I have been able, by His grace, to extend to others.  Amazing grace.  How sweet the sound.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful thought 15

From the time I was in college, God has graciously granted to me the privilege of rubbing shoulders with girls a few seasons behind me in the calendar of life. Even though I didn't birth them, they have become "my girls" to me.  That first group of middle schoolers at PABC...years at Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta...Hickory Grove Baptist in Charlotte...Westover friends in GSO...on to groups here in the Athens/Watkinsville area.  Doing life with these gals has been a high privilege for me.  They are treasures to me. 

Today, I give thanks for "my girls".

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Did you see that?

Sometimes Betsy will be practicing handstands for me to watch.  Invariably, she will do a perfect one...just as my head is turned.  The cry goes out "Mom, you missed it!  You didn't see it!" 

I know how she feels.  Don't you?  How many times have we done the right thing, remained strong against the odds or faithful against the pressure, and it felt like nobody even noticed?  Much less cared...Makes it hard to keep it up, to hang in there.

Other times, we might be hurting and it feels like we are so alone.  Our plight is made worse because there seems to be no one to acknowledge, or validate, our pain.

At times like these, remember that there is one who sees.  El Roi is one of the names used in the Old Testament that helps explain this aspect of God's character - "the strong one who sees".  What an encouragement to know that our hard work, our good deeds, our faithful hearts are indeed noticed by the God of the Universe.  And He doesn't merely glance our way when we master the perfect handstand; no, He sees us.  Drinks us in.  Smiles in pleasure.  He sees.
What a comfort when we are suffering, when our hearts are in agony, to know that we are not ignored.  El Roi sees.  And moves to act in His power on our behalf.  El Roi - the strong one who sees.

He sees.  And He cares. 

Thankful thought 14

I am thankful for problems.  For the trials and inconveniences and irritations in my life.  I think that's all  I have to say about that.  See Wednesday's Word from last week for an exposition.

Thankful in all things.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful thought 13

I give thanks for sports.  Not to  sports, mind you, but for sports.  Lest you think I am of the athletic sort, think again.  Not athletic at all.  (Thankfully, my husband overcompensated in his contribution of sports genes to the DNA of our offspring so each of them is very nicely gifted, athletically.  Whew.  At least I was smart enough to pick someone that would offset my lack.) 

No, I am not athletic but I do enjoy sports.  Watching them, that is.  I love how my family enjoys all things Georgia.  How we unite over W's...and L's.  Bonding over rankings and referees.  Cheering for one another in the pool or on the court.

And I love the "life lesson opportunities" that sports provide.  Although not always enjoyable, I appreciate the chances we get to learn how to be a good sport, how to press through adversity, and how to practice joy, regardless of circumstances.

I am thankful for sports!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful thought 12

I am thankful that places like Mercy Health Center exist, delivering not only free healthcare but also the love of Christ to the poor in our community.

May God bless the staff and the board and the volunteers and the donors of Mercy Health Center.  Forever.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thankful thought 11

I am not the greatest animal lover in the world.  I won't even let our animals live inside with us.  (I told my kids that you have to be listed on our tax form in order to sleep indoors.  They think it is a law.  They are really mad at the IRS...please don't tell them any different)

But I do love our dog, Shadow, and our cat, Ninja.  And I love the ones that have gone on to their reward - Gray, Jasmine, Hershey, Quincy, Tiger, Dandelion (our kids name the pets - or is that a restatement of the obvious?) and even the fish that lived long enough to have names but not long enough for me to remember them....except for "God" and "Cinqo"....now it's really obvious that the names came from my kids....

I had cats and dogs growing up and I am thankful that our family has them, too.

I just don't want them inside.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thankful thought 10

Today marks Day 10 of Thankful Thoughts.  So today I give thanks for my husband.  Cuz he is a "10" for me! 

He provides for his family well.He works very hard and does very well.  I am thankful for that.  And thankful that I can respect him in his career.  That means alot to me.

He is fun...and funny.  Even though our kids claim he is corny :), I think he is funny.  They just don't know all our inside jokes!  (And it drives them crazy!!  Which makes us laugh more!!)

He is trustworthy.  If he tells you something, you can take it to the bank.  He is a man of integrity.  I don't take that lightly.  That makes me feel very secure.  More secure than the bank account.

He is a great dad.  A really great dad.  A really great Dad.

Maybe he's not perfect but he's a perfect 10 for me and for our family. 

Plus, he's tall, dark, and handsome and that pretty much compensates for anything that's not perfect!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful thought 9

I am thankful for my churches.  Not that I belong to more than one. At least not at the same time! 

I am grateful for the churches that I have been connected to throughout my life.  Woodbury Baptist Church.  Prince Avenue Baptist Church.  Eastside Baptist Church.  Hickory Grove Baptist Church.  Westover Church.  Watkinsville First Baptist.  From cradle roll to youth group to college department to singles and then young marrieds and then, well, we stayed in young marrieds.  Offered to teach there so we could stay. 

All these churches have been significant in shaping my  life.  Most of my dearerst friends and mentors come from my connection to one of these churches.  I have been blessed. 

I know churches aren't perfect.  You might have had some painful experiences through church.  I understand.  Someone once told me "there ain't no hurt like church hurt".  Amen.  But in spite of that, my feelings about church are overwhelmingly positive.  Churches aren't perfect because they are made up of people that aren't perfect.  I can't think of a better place for us imperfect people to be.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful thought 8

I am thankful for flowers.  Love them.  In bouquets, on my table, in the yard, along the road.  Love them.  Maybe it's because I am so blooming crazy but I love seeing things in bloom.  Probably it's because I am the poster child for the   No Green Thumb Club that I appreciate things that bloom. 

Did you ever think about the fact that God could have made this world blah and dreary?  We never would have known the difference!  I mean, really, what would we have compared it to??? I am thankful that He splashes  His creativity all over the place...and I also am grateful that He gifted some of His creatures (as in the human kind) to successfully nurture the plants He designed.

I am happy to be one of His creatures that gets to enjoy His gifts.  My favorite is the daffodil.  I think that's why He planned my birth to be in March.  Every year, in preparation for my birthday, His world is awash in those gorgeous yellow flowers.  My Mom told me it was just for me so don't dare spoil my joy. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Giving thanks...in all things?

It is the season of giving thanks.  And many of us are practicing that very thing, all month long, expressing gratitude for various things.  As I take a look at what I am thankful for, it's all "good stuff".  Nothing wrong with that.  But Christ-followers are instructed in I Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks...but not just to "give thanks".  Scripture tells us to give thanks in all things. 

I can easily understand and deliver on the command when things are "good"...aka, the way I want things to turn out.  But what about those things that we interpret as "bad"?  Those things that make our life uncomfortable or painful or downright tragic.  Surely God has an exception clause that permits us to skip the thanksgiving in those things!

Not at all.  He is very clear about the in all things part.  Give thanks.  Whoa.  How can He expect us to do that?  When that red light makes us late for an appointment?  Or the promotion goes to someone else? Or we are betrayed, mistreated, persecuted?  Or we realize that our dream of parenthood is never going to come true?  Or someone we love with all our heart is gone? Or all of the above?

Maybe we could choke out the thanks easier if we thought "these things just happen."  If we cut God some slack, so to speak, and that we have to accept that " this is life"  and we have to take our lumps like everybody else.  That wouldn't be easy but it seems like we could learn to accept bad things if we viewed them as an unfortunate twist of fate. Then we could make the best of it.

But God clearly doesn't want to leave that as an option.  He tells us not only the "what" and the "when"  but also the "why."  Give thanks.  In all things....for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Stops us in our tracks, doesn't it?  Those things that are not what we prayed for.  Those things that complicate our lives, that hurt us, that inconvenience us, that seem to go against all we would consider good and blessed and right.  He wants us to thank Him for those things because they are from Him.

Wait!  No!  Surely I don't mean that cancer and infertility and divorce and tragedies are from God!  Well, while He is not the author of evil and He only gives good gifts, He alone is sovereign.  He has the power to stop or remove any and everything from our lives.  So if something comes into the life of a Christian, it only got there after being filtered through His hands.  His loving, sovereign, omnipotent hands.

Not only allowed through His hands, but especially designed for my benefit and for His glory.  Gulp. That's hard.  But that's where faith comes in.  And the giving of thanks in all things.  He wants me to trust Him and His word.  He tells me that all things work together for my good and His glory.  He assures me that all His ways are loving and faithful.  And He promises that He doesn't withhold anything good from those that walk in Him.

So, that's how I can thank Him.  No matter what it looks like from my perspective.  I can trust His perspective.  And thank Him.  Because He is always working for my good and His glory.  No matter what it looks like to me.

In all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Thankful thought 7

I guess it naturally follows that, after being thankful for my kids, my thoughts would turn to my own parents.  I surely do give thanks for them!  And TO them.  I wish you all could know them.  They are the best.  Really.

But, in a bigger picture, I am thankful for my raisin'.  Now that's not "raisins", as in what tastes great in oatmeal cookies.  It's "raisin'"...as in how I was raised.  If you were raised in the South, (then stop and count your blessings), then you know what I mean by raisin'.  Rearin'. 

I was raised in a small town.  And while I may not agree with all that's in Hillary's book, I do agree with the principle "it takes a village".  (I just don't consider the government part of that village but that's another post...) I was free to roam around, ride bikes to town, and hang around with friends w/o needing to check in with my Mom every hour.  I was not only safe but I was also in an environment where everybody treated all the kids like their own.  If you were at our house when it was time for dinner (or breakfast or lunch), then you helped us set the table and you pulled up a chair.  If I was at my friend's house and we were about to be up to no good, then their Mama stopped us both. 

Yep, everybody was in your business.  In a good way.  Once when Willy, the policeman pulled me over for coasting through a red light, my Mama knew it before I got home.  (We only had two red lights so it was pretty easy for everybody to see what was going on!) And when somebody needed help, other folks pitched in and helped out til things got taken care of. 

People were nice in the town where I was raised.  Kind and polite and helpful. I mean, after all, you knew you weren't just going to see them in the hardware store - you would also see them at the school's parent meeting, the bank, and at church on Sunday night.  So, I guess we were motivated to treat folks nice!

I am sure the adults in my growing up years were realistic enough to see another side of the town where I was raised. But for me, it was great.  And I am thankful.  For all the folks that helped my Mama and Daddy raise me. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful thought 6

Previously, I gave thanks for getting to be a Mom.  Today, I give thanks for each of my kids.  Even though 2 are grown, they are still my "kids".  I will spare you the sappy sentiments of a Mother, unabashedly biased, and not extol the virtues of each one.  But those feelings and thoughts do burst forth in my conversations with my Heavenly Father.  And, for the record, He wholeheartedly agrees with me.  After all, He's their Dad, too. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful thought 5

Today I give thanks that I get to be a Mom.  This is different than being thankful for my children (which, by the way,  I am!). I cherish this role, the experiences it brings, the rewards, the duties, even the toll it takes...on mind, body, and spirit!

I love that I got to know each of my little munchkins in a way no one else did....or could...I carried them.  Right up under my heart.  Then, at birth,  they moved from that location - right into the center of my heart.  And there they shall remain.  Forever.

I treasure the experience of breast-feeding.  Two of mine never even took a bottle (not b/c I am superwoman or even a martyr.  Nope. It's cuz that breast pump thing made me queasy. I am odd that way.)  I loved the fact that I continued to nourish them, sustain them. (My husband was most supportive of my desire to exclusively breastfeed.  Isn't that interesting.) And what a delight to find out that one of the names for God, El Shaddai, is rooted in the Hebrew word for breast!  Conveying the idea of providing comfort and sustenance and intimacy for us.  Reminding us that it takes both male and female to display the glory of God.  In His Image, He made them, male and female.

I love the role of Mom.  Cheerleader.  Teacher.  Comforter.  And, yes, corrector, sometimes.  Confidante. Encourager. Believer.  Pray-er.  Those are eternal...and divinely appointed...assignments.  Sometimes it's hard.  Most always it stretches me.  God whispers that parenting is as much about what He wants to do in me as through me.

I am thankful I get to be a Mom. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful thought 4

Today is my big brother's birthday.  Ok, so it's my only brother's birthday - I just wanted to establish that he is older than I am. 

So today I am thankful for him.  Actually, I am thankful for him everyday.  (And thankful that he doesn't read this blog...he's still figuring out all things cyber...struggling physician that he is...) I don't know if my Mom put contraband in our breakfast cereal and that messed with our minds growing up,  but I have always been thankful for him.  Always thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread (or at least, greatest thing since me with contact lenses).  I have heard he's been known to drive a few nurses to tears but I am here to tell you that I think he is pretty much perfect.  And I am forever grateful that I get to be his little sister.  For as long as I can remember, he's always encouraged and protected and loved me unconditionally. 

So if you see him today, you call tell him Happy Birthday.  But that's about all you need to say, I suppose.    I have always taken it upon myself to keep him humble.  Being that he's pretty much perfect and all. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful thought 3

Just a short one today.  I am thankful for contact lenses.  You should be, too, in the interest of public welfare.  At least the public that has to view moi.  I began wearing glasses in 4th grade, and, while I was amazed at what I could see (as in leaves on trees instead of blurry masses of green), I myself was not an amazing sight to behold. Think Coke bottle bottoms.  On steroids.  They probably weighed more than I did...at the time, that wasn't saying much.

When I got contact lenses in 7th grade, I was pretty sure I was the coolest kid in Junior High.  (If there is anyone reading this blog that knew me then, restrain yourself from brutal comments, please).  Think relative, OK?  Anything was bound to be an improvement.

I know glasses have come a long way but I am still thankful for contact lenses.  As in waaaaaay thankful.  You should be, too.  Just sayin.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Marriage Memos

In an earlier post, I told you about sharing with that group of young women some thoughts on marriage.  From the perspective of 26 years.  My thoughts.  Paul's thoughts.  They wanted to know what we have done well....and not so well.  We answered their questions.  The time was treasured. 

Here's what we told them.

The purpose of marriage is to glorify God by showing the world a picture of God's covenant relationship with His people.  It's not to make the husband and wife happy.  It's not to raise great kids.  It's not to fulfill dreams.  It's to give the world a glimpse of God's love and faithfulness to us and our love and devotion to Him.

Embracing that makes all the difference.  Permanence.  Selflessness.  Commitment to the highest good of another.  When we get the purpose, happiness and fulfillment usually follow.  But they are not the goal. 

What have we done right?  I could summarize it all by saying that what we have done right is to accept and enjoy God's amazing grace.  That two stubborn, prideful, self-seeking 20 somethings could forge a life together that has brought love and joy and the adventure of a lifetime is nothing short of amazing.  And, oh, how we have been changed in the process!

My list of rights and wrongs focus on the wife-side.  Cuz I am one.  And that's the only side I am qualified to assess.  Here are my thoughts on what we have done right -(more than 3 because I am combining my list and Paul's)
1.  Made time most every day to talk.  Maybe just 15 minutes but nearly every evening after dinner, we excuse the children from the table and we stay there and talk.  The only interruptions allowed are, in this order, if they are bleeding from the head or the house is on fire.  Otherwise, they have to wait to talk to us until we are through.
2.  Didn't get in financial trouble.  Period.  Didn't strike it rich ,and we have walked by faith many many times when there was more month at the end of the money but we didn't get into debt.  And we learned  better and better ways to handle the financial allotment that God entrusted us with.
3.  Didn't depend on in-laws.  Financially or emotionally.  We really believed that "leave and cleave" stuff.  That doesn't mean that I never called my Mom about how to cook a roast or if the stress at work was making me cry.  Nor does it mean that Paul refused to let me accept a new dress from his Mom.  But we were very careful to be separate.  And we never ever ever spoke a critical word about each other to a parent.  Never.
4.  Paul says I put him first.  Before work, kids, parents, friends, ministry, self. 
5.  And he says I have always been supportive of his career.  (That's been easy, actually.  I am very proud of him and I love to watch him shine in his job.)
6.  We understand and appreciate the perks of marriage.  You get my drift.

Here's some of my mistakes.  Remember, my husband is very kind and diplomatic.  Really, we could go on and on and on listing errors.  But here are some that stand out.  (And, for the record, Paul stressed that these were mistakes early on, not now.  Yeah, I am practically perfect these days.  Uh-huh)
1.  Failure to show respect.  Busted.  Guilty as charged.  I took a long time to understand that I needed love but he needed respect.  And my tone of voice or choice of words could be lethal.
2.  Over-reaction.  I could make a mountain range out of a grain of sand.  Hyperbole is my spiritual gift.  Not a good one.  I am sure it made him withdraw and become reluctant to share anything with me.
3.  Not patient with him.  He didn't give specifics but I am sure he remembers times I wanted him to think faster, talk faster, act faster, and decide faster.  He processes things carefully whereas I just move.  As though speed makes up for accuracy.  Many many times, my haste made for waste.  But he says I am much more patient now.  (I think I'm probably just more tired but I'll take the compliment!)
4.  It took me a long time to learn to be a good daughter-in-law.  I am very grateful for the patience and prayers of extended family.  Very grateful.  And praying that I will not reap all that I have sown.

I Peter 3:1-6 has some great counsel for wives.  Especially vs. 6.  You can look it up.  Particularly poignant when you learn that the word "lord" in vs. 6 doesn't refer to a position of diety.  Rather, that Greek word means "agent for good".  Scripture tells us wives that God will use our husbands as an agent of good in our lives.  Remember that.  God will employ your marriage to bring good to your life, as you obey and trust Him.  That's great news. 

Thankful thought 2

I have a really great set of in-laws. From my husband's parents to his siblings and sibling-spouses and cousins and cousin-spouses to my only brother's wife. And my first son-in-law! They are the best.   They should be called "in-loves" instead of "in-laws" because that is a more apt description of our relationships. 

I am fully aware that not everybody enjoys the same blessing.  Guess that explains all those jokes that tear down and erode these affiliations.  That makes me sad.  Families get enough attacks from the outside; we don't need to be destroyed from within, too.

I am thankful for all my in-laws.  If any of you are reading this, know that I give thanks to God for each one of you individually.  You inspire me to be the best in-law that I can be so that I can bless you back.

And, if you don't have great in-laws, then how 'bout you decide to be the very best one YOU can be, just to upstage 'em! :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bribing kids

In my opinion, bribing kids is perfectly acceptable.  We do it to adults all the time.  I mean, really, would you go to work if your employer didn't pay you, just for the fun of it, every day???

So just figure out how to bribe them appropriately. 

Here's an idea that worked wonders for me when my kids were little.  Book bucks.  I wanted them to love to read.  For a lifetime.  So I needed a way to establish that habit.  I knew that if they read enough good books long enough, they would love it forever.  Just needed to get them to that point.  Modeling it myself didn't seem to be working.  Nor did lectures on how good it would be for them.  So I resorted to bribery.  And proud of it.

Here's the deal -
I made a list of a whole bunch of things I wanted them to read.  (Consult Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt for ideas.  or online lists like 100 books every child should read) Then assign point values to them, based on age appropriate-ness and difficulty.  You are in charge and you can make the point value whatever you want it to be.  Personally, I was pretty generous because my goal was to reward the desired behavior.  Quickly.
I printed up "book bucks" to hand out upon completion of each book and I provided each child with the list of books and assigned points. 
Finally, I came up with levels of rewards.  5 points might get  you out of kitchen duty one night, 50 points might be a new Beanie Baby and 100 could be an ice cream date with Dad.

It worked.  The kids read like crazy. Before too long, they each became an avid reader. And the bribing tapered off because they read just for the love of it.

  We still have a closet full of Beanie Babies.  And ice cream dates with Dad continue to be a sought after prize...reading or not.

Thankful Thought 1

Exactly four weeks from today, we will sit down to calorie overload.  Not sure where we'll ring in the holiday or with whom but it will be scrumptious and marvelous. 

Today I am thankful for taste buds.  I praise God that, in His generous creativity, He gave us taste buds.  He could have, ya know, just made food functional.  He didn't have to make it taste good.  Nor was He obligated to give us so many different things that taste so good.

Taste buds.  Thank you, Lord!

How 'bout you?  What are you thankful for today?