Monthly Archives: March 2012

Praying for My Children

Before Christmas, a group of women were gathered together in my home. I asked each person to share one thing that they felt they were good at when in comes to mothering and one thing that they would like to see growth in. When the circle ended with me, I glanced down, slighty in shame, and admitted that one of my weakest areas is in praying for my kids.

You would think that a women who loves her kids and loves her Lord and believes that any good that will come their way is a direct gift from God would excel in this area. But sadly, that just isn’t the case. “Prayer Warrior” is not a title I hold. Not even close.

In loving grace, a friend offered to lend me a book on praying for my children. I coupled those words with a new sense of passion for prayer, and little seeds started to sprout. I worked hard to remove my barriers to prayer and then to find a sure footing for beginning a new discipline. I am far from where I want to be, but I am also far from where I was.

If I try to raise these little ones in the strength of my own power, wisdom, or energy, I will fail miserably. I can’t do it, and that is exactly why I need to pray that God would do it through me and in spite of me. Prayer delights God (Proverbs 15:8). It is an outward confession that we are dependent on God. And if I want to raise these children to love God and serve others, I must depend on the One Who can make that happen!

In the back of my notebook that I keep with my Bible, I started writing down things that I wanted to pray for my children. These weren’t specific to the moment requests, like getting well or helping them learn a new skill, but rather, the over-arching desires I have for their life. As I would read something in my morning Bible time, I would jot it down in my notebook. As time has gone on, I have added to and refined the list. The list is always readily available and it directs my prayers.

In another part of my notebook, I also record daily prayers for my kids. These are little things that come to mind like helping with an area they struggle with in school, giving them wisdom in a decision they need to make, or in praying for good friends for them. Although it obviously doesn’t have to be done this way, I find that writing my prayers down helps me focus my thoughts and to remember what it is that I want to pray about! After five kids, my memory isn’t what it used to be!

Here is what my (still evolving!) list looks like:

  • I pray that my children would truly know the Lord, in a personal and dynamic relationship, not just merely knowing about Him.
  • I pray that my children would grow to love the Word of God, to love the promises and commands and that they would be transformed by them (Romans 12:2). I pray that they would come to understand how true it is that man cannot live on bread alone (Matthew 4:4).
  • I pray that my children would have an increasing desire to love and serve others. I pray that they would come to see that self is not the most important but that right after loving God comes loving our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31).
  •  I pray that I would have the insight and discernment to see the gifts that God has given my children and the wisdom to know how to encourage them in growing and refining these talents. I pray that my children would feel capable and free to use the gifts and passions that God has given them in serving others (1 Peter 4:10-11).
  •  I pray that my children will always feel loved and delighted in so that they are strong enough to pour their lives into serving others.
  •  I pray that my children will be kept from the love of money and things and instead would be passionate about pursuing God, His wisdom, and eternal treasures (1 Timothy 6:6-12, 1 John 2:17, Matthew 6:20).
  •  I pray that my children would have undivided hearts (Ezekiel 11:19, 1 Chronicles 28:9)
  •  I pray that my children would grasp the bigness and beauty of ALL of God’s creation and to see the value, worth, and rights of all people (Psalm 8, Revelation 5:9, Romans 10:12).
  •  I pray that my children would be fully equipped to reach their personal fullest potential. I pray that we would have the wisdom to know what kinds of experiences (physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual) will work to this end (Psalm 139, Ephesians 1:1-23, 2 Timothy 1:6-7.)
  •  I pray that my children’s lights would shine before men in such a way that people would see their good works ans glorify GOD who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16)
  •  I pray that wisdom will be theirs in increasing measure, as wisdom will affect each and every decision they make—from friends, to career, to time management, and to value of temporal vs. eternal things (Proverbs 2 – 4)
  •  I pray that they would learn that true joy comes from being in the presence of God and in true gratefulness (Psalm 16:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  •  I pray that these same prayers would be heard on behalf of the spouses that will be a part of my children’s futures (Proverbs 18:22).

One Year

On March 17, we celebrated one year of life with Bethany.


Her birth story is here, for those that are interested.

What a blessing she has been. After having Katie, our fourth, I wasn’t sure whether there would be more. But God definitely had another blessing for us.  It’s been a wonderful year and I am so glad that she has been a part of us. I am thankful for the opportunity that we have had to love her and to begin the long path of training and teaching her and helping to her to know and understand that she was created in the image of God and that He has beautiful plans for her life.  She may not understand everything we say, but she understands love.  She understands being wanted. She understands being delighted in rather than being seen as a burden or an inconvenience.

Often throughout this year, I have thought  about the many children around the world that don’t even make it to their first birthday. They die of preventable causes. Of those that do survive, many of the millions don’t arrive at their first birthday with the deep understanding that they have value.  They haven’t had someone to love them, feed, them, rock them, sing to them, kiss them, hold them, and talk to them.  To be able to celebrate one year with our beautiful healthy girl is indeed a blessing—one that I won’t take for granted.

My favorite things about my sweet girl:

1. Her dimples
2. Her baby snuggles
3. The way she pats my back when she hugs me
4. The way she slyly slips food to Lucy (the dog) when she thinks we aren’t looking
5. The way she adores and is adored by her older siblings
6. The game she plays crawling up the stairs, hoping that we will come chase her.  When we do, she crawls faster, giggling with glee.
7. Her love for Lucy.  These two are the best of friends.
8. Her fascination with books
9. The way she bounces up and down the moment her dad walks through the door
10. Her love of all things spicy.  We had Indian for her birthday dinner because we knew it would make her happy.

Of course, not everything in this past year has been easy.  A few of the struggles we faced:

  1. She didn’t sleep through the night consistently until seven months (my other kids were all about seven weeks.) After realizing I was producing almost no milk, we switched her to formula and for the next two weeks she slept about 15-17 hours straight at night and then moved into a good 12 hour routine.
  2. Trying to homeschool with a very active baby hasn’t been easy. Not one bit.
  3. I have felt the stretch in ages of my kids.  With the first four, there was only five years between oldest and youngest.  In many ways, all of their needs were the same.  The five and under crowd need to be loved, fed, played with, and put to bed. With our oldest now being nine, there is a world of difference in her needs versus Bethany’s needs. I have felt the pull of meeting all of the needs of my oldest, while not neglecting the needs of my youngest. It is possible. It has just meant sacrificing a lot on my part and a lot of praying for wisdom.

Some of the highlights of the past year:

  1. Watching Alaina, our nine-year old, be an amazing big sister. I have taken the stance that anything she wants to help with is fine, but that it is not her job to raise and care for Bethany. Do I need help once in a while?  Yes, of course. That’s part of being in a family. But I don’t expect her to mother.  But if she chooses to do it, that’s another story.  I have loved seeing the maternal instinct rise up in her. Some days it is strong and she wants to take care of Bethany by herself — she gets her up, changes her diaper, gets her dressed, and more.  On other days, she barely sees her. That’s okay.  She is blossoming and it has been fun to watch.
  2. Seeing compassion, patience, and understanding develop in all of the kids.  With a small baby in tow, these character qualities are needed in abundance!  Not once have the kids ever complained about Bethany and the way she has affected their lives.  Rather, they keep asking when I am going to have a baby boy!
  3. Getting to really enjoy Bethany. The other four kids came at intervals of 15 months, 23 months, and 23 months. Each time a new baby came along there were still lots of other babies to care for! But with Bethany being born when Katie was already three, I have truly been able to enjoy her as my only baby.  What a blessing.


Thank you, Lord, for the gift of our Bethany Noelle.  I pray that you would give us all the wisdom and understanding needed to raise her to be wholeheartedly devoted to you.


Home Again


Oh to be home again!

I really love being on vacation, but I am always so happy to be home again.

On vacation I have time to dream and think and plan and  read and all the other things that normal life often gets in the way of.  But do you know what I dream and think and plan and read about while I am on vacation?  Being home again—doing the task that God has called me to do at this time in my life—being a full-time mother.

Sure, God has given me gifts and talents that He wants me to use to bless the body of Christ.  In fact, I was pretty awe-struck just yesterday morning when I read, As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10).  Amazing!  By using the gifts we have been given, we are being stewards (caretakers) of God’s grace! If I look only to the needs of my family while closing my eyes to the needs around me, I am not being a very good steward. God’s grace extends beyond the seven people in my family and so I better make sure my gifts do as well!

However, my main role during this particular chapter of my life is to be home again.  To be fully present and intentional with the things God has asked me to do.  Things like loving my husband, loving my children, being a worker at home, extending my hands to the poor, and teaching my children the ways of God. God has created this beautiful institution of the family, a place where people can be at rest, be free to be themselves, to feel loved and affirmed, and to know that no matter what happens outside, inside the home and family, they are accepted and valued.

It’s a lie the world makes women believe: that in order to be doing something valuable or to be contributing to society, we must look outside the walls of our home and family.  Since when is teaching kids to be kind, to obey, and to love and serve others not considered to be something valuable or not contributing to society?  I think that if more mothers would do more of this, society as a whole would be a lot better off! The world would be better served by a new generation that knows how to turn off the TV and to love others than a repeat of a generation that lets the world woo them to leisure, prosperity, and a me-first attitude.

No one can take my place in offering the blessings of affirmation, training, teaching, and modeling to my children.  And so as much as I dream about things I would love to do and places I would love to go, I am convinced more than ever that the place I need to be is at home. Day by day, creating a life of love and truth and beauty and goodness for our family. I don’t always do it well, but oh how I long to!

Vacation is wonderful, but being home again is even better.

Making Memories


Just wanted to pop in and say hi.  We are away this week as a family, making memories, and  investing in us. It’s our one last hurrah in Indonesia before we make our way to the States in June. I am really hoping that the time away is good for us all. Our lives are about to undergo a major change and that means that it is even more important for us to have a solid foundation as a family.  We want our children to know that no matter where we are, we are still the same family with the same purpose and values.  I want them to start to grasp something God has been teaching me: God cares much more about who we are than where we are. We might call the United States “home” for the next year or two, but it doesn’t change our hearts, our passions, or our purpose.  It’s just geography.

As I was sitting in the car this morning on the way to the airport, I was squished in between two little ones. I thought, “Wow, I am so blessed, and so honored, and so humbled.  Oh Lord, give me wisdom to do this mama thing well.” These little people (who fought about who was going to sit next to me) look up to me. They watch my every move and hear my every word. Hearts are being shaped by who I choose to be each day and who I choose to serve. I need to make sure that I give them something of value to look up to. As the book I am (still) reading says, “Sometimes our children will fail to listen to us. Rarely will they fail to imitate us.”

This mama has a lot of growing to do.

I wanted to let you know that I am over at The Daily Digi today, talking about silhouettes.  So, if you love photography and want to try something fun, take a peek.

“Everyone Else is Doing It”

It’s almost cliché.

The ‘ol “Everyone else is doing it” excuse.

Our mothers didn’t buy it.

We tell our kids its a flimsy excuse.

And yet, I hear or read it all the time.

  • Everyone yells at their kids, it’s okay!
  • Everyone has times where they pretend to be listening to their kids, but they really aren’t.
  • Everyone spends more than they should and gives less than they could. Don’t worry about it!
  • Everyone gossips a bit.  As long as it isn’t a habit, it’s okay.
  • Everyone watches bad movies sometimes.  You’re an adult, it’s okay to have a guilty pleasure or two!
  • Everyone spends too much time on the computer and ignores their kids from time to time. Don’t feel guilty!

Everyone, everyone, everyone.

Maybe everyone does yell at their kids. Perhaps everyone gossips. Maybe everyone does spend money on themselves instead of giving to those in need.

Or maybe not.

And even if the word everyone weren’t an exaggeration, does it really make it okay?  Do we really take our cues for what is right or wrong based on what everyone else is doing?  Is that really the place we should get our ideals from?

What if Noah had gone with that plan?  Genesis 6 tells us,

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually…but Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD…Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God  6:5,8-9.

If Noah had gone with the “everybody” plan and excused bad behavior because everyone else was doing it (and the word everyone was apparently not an exaggeration!), he would have lost his life like everyone else in the flood.

I am not saying that an instance of sin disqualifies us from God’s love, from righteous living, or from being Mother of the Year.  However, what I am saying, is that we need to take an honest look at our lives, choices, and actions and ask ourselves what God would think. How would the Well, everyone else does it!” excuse hold up?  Would we be proud to tell the Lord that we take our cues from society or would we be ashamed that we ignored His command to not be conformed to the pattern of this world?

We need to change our place of comparison.  If we compare ourselves to others, we can always find a way to feel good and to justify our behavior. But if we take our lives and instead place them in front of the Word of God and then see how we measure up, our conclusion, I believe, will be much different.

It’s true.  Everyone makes mistakes.  We ALL sin.  I’ve been known to yell at my kids (though by God’s grace and discipline I can say that it is a very rare occurence now). I’ve been known to fiddle on Facebook instead of meet my kids emotional needs. I’ve spoken words about people that should have never left my lips.  I’ve done it, and I will probably do it again. I’m sinful like that.

But it doesn’t make it okay.

I want my life to look more and more like Christ’s each day. I don’t want to use the world and “everyone” as a benchmark.

I want the Word to live inside of me and transform me right down to my DNA.

I don’t really care what everyone else is doing.

Should you?

Busy Week!

Can I just say that all of you mama’s (especially those in large families) who manage to get up every morning, get your kids fed, dressed, homework collected, and lunches made have some kind  of  magical powers that I just do not possess?

This week is SPIRITUAL EMPHASIS WEEK at the school where Jason teaches. It is also our annual WEEK WITHOUT WALLS.  I am doing all of the speaking for the elementary students and we wanted our kids to go on the service projects, so, they have all been in school all day. It’s been quite  shift from our normal, slow-to-get-started routine. Getting all of the kids up and ready to leave by 7:40 is wearing me out! I usually get up early but I finally had to set an alarm (the first in years!) so that I would be able to get in all my regular morning stuff (Bible time, walk, shower, etc) AND get everyone else ready. The kids are exhausted too—which is why it is 6:20 pm and they are all in bed! It’s been a great week and I am glad we are doing it but I will be VERY happy after Spring Break when life gets back to normal (which includes school often done in jammies!)

I have some posts in the works —things that have been mulling around in my head — but I need to get back to planning my final talks for the week. I have been speaking about our theme for the week: RESTORE, RENEW, REACT and I have been talking with these precious kids about RESTORING OUR JOY through forgiveness and gratefulness, RENEWING OUR MIND by watching over our heart with diligence, and REACTING in obedience. It’s been good for me to be reminded of these things in my own life  and to be challenged to strive for more.

So, since I can’t finish my other posts right now, I’ll just leave you with photos from Saturday’s walk.  Jason and I had had an unexpected surprise of a morning out together, so we went to the Dago caves, where you can see an ammunition store carved in the stone by the Japanese during WWII and also caves dug by the Dutch. It’s  a great walk and we had a good time talking, exploring, and even doing a little geocaching. The best part was finding a cache and then learning the next day that it was actually planted by friends of ours!

Hope your week is going great!

 

She’s Four, Pt. 2


We are officially in birthday season around here.  Alaina starts us off at the end of January and then the rest of us celebrate six birthdays in eight weeks!  It is crazy, fun, and totally exhausting.  By the time May 2 rolls around and we are done, I am SO thankful that it is another nine months before I have to think birthday again.

That said, we have tons of fun!  We always do our best to truly celebrate the lives of our children.  They get to pick the meals for the day and they get to choose an activity that we do as a family.  They look forward to it and often have their idea planned out months (if not a year!) in advance.

In addition, we try to do a few other special things on or around their birthday.  One-on-one time with mom and/or dad is a must.  With five children in the family, it is important to take time to spend time with them individually.  We LOVE being a big family and think that there are many benefits to growing up among siblings, but we also want to ensure that our children know and understand that they are treasured as an individual.  Birthdays are a great way to do that.

Katie’s birthday celebrations were a multi-day affair.  Her Daddy forgot to look at the calendar when planning his biggest event of the year at school (Elementary Sports Day) and set it for Katie’s birthday.  So, we stretched the celebrations over a few days, which made Katie insanely happy.  Even now, she refuses to admit that her birthday is over.

Part one of her birthday was actually two days before. She wanted “Mommy’s Special Cinnamon Rolls” for breakfast.  They are very time-consuming so we opted to have them on Sunday morning rather than rush on a day when Jason had to work.

Then, on her actual birthday, I took her out for a special Mommy and Me birthday lunch.

That night, Katie requested cooking hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire in the backyard and then cupcakes, “with chocolate sprinkles” for dessert. Her wish is my command.

The next day, Jason took a personal day and we fulfilled Katie’s biggest wish: to go ice skating!  And before and after skating, Alaina and I took Katie on a mini girl’s day out. Starbucks, Coldstone, nail polish…what more could a girl want?

Only five more birthdays to go!  Next up, Bethany!  My girl turns ONE in eight days! Eek!

 

 

She’s Four, Pt. 1

My sweet Katie turned four on Tuesday. It’s really hard to believe.  In some ways, it seems so short of a time.  And in other ways, well, life has flipped upside down and back around since the day we met her.  She has been such a source of joy and frustration in our lives.  She has taught us so much about parenting, personality, and patience. She has challenged us in deep ways and made us laugh harder than we knew possible. God has BIG things in store for this little lady, of that I am sure!

You see, Katie has her own way of seeing the world.  Her entire being asks the question, “Why does it have to be done that way?”  Why walk upstairs straight when you can do it spinning? Why eat your food with a fork when lapping it up as a dog is so much more fun?  Why sleep in your own bed when the little spot next to Daddy is so much more warm and comfy?   Those questions that define Katie’s life used to bother me.  I would think, “Why can’t you just do what you are told?”  And then, by God’s grace, I started to see the beauty in who she is.  I have learned to see the amazing potential that lives inside of question askers.  We have needed lots and lots of wisdom in learning how to teach her when it is okay to ask questions or seek another method and when she just needs to obey.  I think we all have learned a lot.

The world needs questions askers.  The world needs people to ask, “Why must we do it this way when that way might be better (or more fun)?”  The church needs people to ask, “Why are we doing it this way?  I know what ‘everyone’ is doing, but why?”

The world needs boundary pushers.  The world needs people to say, “I know that is all that has been done…so let’s do more!” The church needs people to say, “I know we are limited by time and resources…but God ISN’T.  So let’s dream big and GO BIG!”

And as I raise one of these question askers and boundary pushers, I pray for God’s wisdom. Obedience isn’t optional. Mediocrity is. I want to take the BIGNESS  of my sweet four-year-old’s personality and channel it so that all that is big and grand in her will be used to do BIG and GRAND things for God.  It’s people like her who will make a difference. It is people like her who will stop the orphan crisis or else die trying.  It is people like her who will challenge the status quo in politics and push for true and lasting change.

Oh God, give me the wisdom to raise this special little girl.  You’ve got big plans.

 

Tucked Away in my Bible

“These children are dear to Me.  Be a mother to them, and more than a mother.  Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind.  If they heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of My own.  If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it; if they are froward, call upon Me for help; if hey weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy Reward.”

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India for over 50 years, wrote these words in the cover of her Bible.  Amy was “mother” to thousands of orphans in India, rescuing them from poverty, temple prostitution, and more. Back in 2003, in the weeks right before Alaina’s birth, I devoured many Amy Carmichael books.  I wasn’t a mother yet, but these words touched my soul and something inside me knew I would need them later.  I wrote them on an index card and tucked them in my Bible.  Over the years, I have often glanced through all the bits and pieces of paper I have collected, thankful that I wrote words down. The other day, I picked up this particular Bible (which I haven’t used in a few years) and this note card fell out.  What a blessing these words are, once again.

I need to remember that no matter how things are going in my parenting (good, bad, or ugly!), it all goes back to God. He is the one to whom all the glory goes.  He is the one to all the cries for help go.  He is the one who knows our weaknesses, the weaknesses of our kids, and the means by which to strengthen them.  If I try to parent in my own strength, I will always fail.  Even if my kids are obedient and “good,” I fail if I forget that it is God doing the work and graciously allowing me to partner with Him.

As you start a new week of parenting, look to the One who can truly help and truly understand.  He will enlarge your heart.  He will strengthen you.  He will be your reward.