Friday, August 31, 2012

Secret Keeper Girl: A resource to help you connect with your 'tween

When God created this little girl, he bestowed upon me the sweet name of "mother," for the very first time.  I was the very center of her world, and she of mine.

Times have changed.
She's playing volleyball this year. She knows how to play the piano, read a chapter book, and soothe a baby.

She was my little shadow; my laundry helper; my kitchen buddy. 
Now, she does her own laundry, and she knows her way around the kitchen.
She doesn’t follow me around whining, holding my leg, begging for attention.
But that doesn't mean she doesn't want it.

She has world of her own now, a world of friends and books and school, and it's an exciting world.  She's not likely to beg me to enter this world, but (for now,) I am most welcome when I come.

I want to come.
I want to be part of this young lady's world.
I want to stay connected to her.
I want to earn her trust, her ear, her heart.

I need help
But in my life, I need help. As fun as it is to sneak out of the house for a spontaneous tea party, I know this kind of thing won'g happen as often as it should. I'm busy, and I'm tired, and there are so many needy people in this house.

So, we're trying this:
(click the above link to read more about this resource, or go to the website here.)

We are going to make time for eight dates this fall.  My theory: If I have a book and she has a book and we have committed to doing this, maybe we actually will. She might not hang on my leg and scream to remind me, but she will remind me that I owe her one-on-one time, and I need reminding.

(Please note: I recommend this resource mostly as an fun excuse to spend time with your daughter. I found the underlying theological ideas needed some tweaking, so please read with discretion.)

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for my 'tween daughter, for the way she is learning and blooming and growing. Continue to provide for her, too, giving her all that she needs to grow up in Your love. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Your care for her. 

Grow us up in You, together.
In Jesus' name, and by His grace,
Read the series here

Do you think it is important to spend one-on-one time with your tween?
Have you found a way to make this work in your family?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Escape of the Little People: Activity for Active Toddlers

Little people.
When my girls were younger, this assortment of characters would entertain them for hours. People had pets, played school, had families, ate meals together, and had all manner of meaningful relationships.
My boys see these wonderful toys and what do they think?
(Or, fun for throwing at each other or feeding to the dog, but that’s about it.)

It’s not about relationships for them. My boys want adventure. They want to explore, to fight bad guys, and to be heroes. 

And this is a good thing, really. I just read Wild at Heart, and I am inspired to encourage my little man-cubs in their masculinity. (I did not agree with everything in this book, but I think you should read it. If you’d like, read my review here.)

Perhaps, I thought, we can use these same toys in a new way. I schemed and plotted.
. . . .

That evening, we noticed the Queen from the Land of Little People on our porch. “Odd,” I said. “This queen never comes outside. I wonder what she is doing here?”
We stopped to visit her.
“The queen is crying!” I said, horrified. “What, you don’t hear her? I guess only I can hear her voice. Would you like me to ask her what’s wrong?”
I acted very serious as I had a one-sided conversation with the toy queen.

She and her husband had been happily overseeing their kingdom in our basement, the Land of Little People. The Little People had thrived in this land for as long as she could remember, and oh how sweet their days of schooling and farming had been. Lately, the citizens had grown more and more restless. Rumors circulated, The people had heard of a new and better land, somewhere by a great body of water. Last night, the citizens and their animals had run away in search of this new land.
“They don’t understand!” sobbed the queen. “The land they sought was indeed beautiful, but it was also the home of evil coyotes that liked to snack on Little People!”
What could we do? The queen begged our help.

My boys rose to the challenge. First, they visited their arsenal, and carefully chose a weapon for the occasion. A sword for one, a light saber for another, a crossbow for a third. One boy saw nothing that appealed to him, but he bravely stuck out his chest and declared, “If I see a coyote, I will just use my FISTS.”

We traveled to the faraway land (the pond across the road.)

The littlest man-cub, mostly just swung his sword at leaves. 
I'm sure his masculine display of strength scared away some of those coyotes.

The princess, hiding from danger in her tree.
We saved her before she fell in the water.

This man-cub heard the queen's grateful cheers.

The king had climbed a tree to get a better view of the scattered citizens. 
He was relieved when we told him we'd gathered most of them.

The boys LOVED this activity. We have done it four more times since this day.  
If you have little man-cubs with nothing to do, why not give this a try?

Have you been on any adventures with your little people lately? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Will you read a book with me?

There are certain books I like to read with a pen in my hand.
(Not novels. I read those for fun, like I watch TV.)

I'm talking about the books that try to change my life: the books I will spend hours with, the ones that inspire me to journal, to read God's Word, to hold tight to truths and ideas within them and incorporate them into my everyday life.

I do this with a pen in my hand, and later, a keyboard.
If I'm really blessed, I can find a whole group of people to read along with me, speaking their ideas and bouncing them off mine and the author's and each other- sharpening and inspiring and wrestling out truth so it can be planted in our lives and grow.

Would you like join me?
Let's read a book together!

Grace for the Good Girl: Letting Go of the Try-Hard Life
(Buy it on Amazon)

From the Back Cover

You're strong. You're responsible. You're good. But . . .. . . as day fades to dusk, you begin to feel the familiar fog of anxiety, the weight and pressure of holding it together and of longing left unmet. Good girls sometimes feel that the Christian life means doing hard work with a sweet disposition. We tend to focus only on the things we can handle, our disciplined lives, and our unshakable good moods.

But what would happen if we let grace pour out boundless acceptance into our worn-out hearts and undo us? If we dared to talk about the ways we hide, our longing to be known, and the fear in the knowing?

In Grace for the Good Girl, Emily Freeman invites you to release your tight hold on that familiar, try-hard life and lean your weight heavy into the love of Jesus. With an open hand, a whimsical style, and a heart bent brave toward adventure, Emily encourages you to move from your own impossible expectations toward the God who has graciously, miraculously, and lovingly found you.

In other words,
Be weak and LOVED!

If you'd like to read along with me, you can click here for the reading schedule. I won't be checking up on you or pestering you, but I will be blogging each week about something from the book. I would also love to hear from you as you read, if you are so inclined. (What do you love? What do you disagree with? What are you learning about God and yourself?)

So... who's in?

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Sanity-Keeping Secrets: Toddlers

I put on my tennis shoes first thing in the morning, and I feel like I run ALL DAY LONG. I run and I clean and I run and I talk and I break up fight and I answer questions and I run and I TALK and they talk at me, and at the end of the day I am WORN OUT.

How can a person work so hard all day long and yet nothing seems to ever get DONE?

The answer is not really all that complicated:

Friday, August 24, 2012

Art in times of Grief

Grief: Remembering Delia
A child given no medical hope was instead given love.

Her mother gave her life, what she was allowed of it, and she filled all of our hearts until they broke open.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Little much-loved one.

No more can I turn the leaves of this dear book that I loved, 
and vainly hope in time to read it all.

No more can I look into the depths of this unfathomable water, wherein, as momentary lights glanced into it, I have had glimpses of buried treasure and other things submerged. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Suicide: A talk I did not want to have.

I hold back tears all morning.  If only I can make it until naptime.
Your doctor is dead, children.
I can’t say it yet. I need more time.

Kids, please go play outside while I make lunch for you.
He was our pediatrician and we loved him.
He’s dead, and by his own hand.

A child came upstairs playing, smiling with a toy gun in his mouth. I yelled at him, irrationally upset telling him to never, ever, ever do that again.
“It’s just a toy mommy.” He said.
Would that I could protect you from all evil by banning such toys, son.

Come quickly for lunch, kids.
Our doctor is gone and it makes no sense.
Quit goofing around and eat your food already!

I want them to go to bed so I can grieve and wrestle in peace.
Two boys run down the hallway holding hands and they crash into me. I yell. “This is NOT getting ready for naps, is it boys? Now DO what I TOLD YOU!”

Creating chaos is not helping this house get quiet and my heart hurts so I need quiet NOW.  So I think, and so my hurting heart hurts their little hearts.  I found one under covers, not playing and teasing but laying there in tears. “I didn’t like it when you yelled at me mommy.”
Oh honey I am so sorry.  And I was, and we cried quiet tears together. 
“My heart hurts today, but that doesn’t mean I should hurt yours. While you nap I will pray that Jesus helps me be kind again ok? And I’ll wake you up with big hugs and kind words.” He nodded tears still streaming and he hugged me tight around the neck. I let my tears fall, tears of sadness over my sin and over death and evil in all places, in this home and in his home.

I left him to nap and went out to talk to the big kids. “Mommy’s ready to tell you why my heart hurts today.  Our pediatrician has died.”
“Our doctor?”
“But he was so nice!”
“But he was the smartest doctor ever!” said the biggest boy, remembering his help curing his ears last year.  That healing elevated the good doctor to a place of respect even with or even above daddy, and ever since then he believed the smartest people in the world are doctors.

“Yes, he helped you with your ears, and he helped Aggie with her seizures, and he helped all of you kids grow healthy ever since we’ve lived here.  It’s so sad.”

And then, because they will hear it from someone else if I don’t tell them, I tell them how it happened.
And it makes no sense to them.
And I agree. 
It makes no sense.

I do not speculate in front of the children, but I do in my head. But my guesses and theories do not satisfy me. 
It makes no sense.

I had not planned to talk about suicide with my children this month.  But circumstances put it on the list, so talk we must, even when it makes no sense.

We talk a little, and then we sit in silence together with our sad hearts and our questions
We look to Christ together, and we pray.
And we wait.

Come Lord Jesus.

Have you had to talk about this subject with your children?

For more conversations with 'tweens, click here: 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Rest over. Back to work.

The weight of it; kids and responsibilities straining my back. 
It was good to get away, to stand up tall and to breathe.

I ached for them terribly by the end of the week. I missed them so much I wanted to spend money on them just to feel closer to them, to have a chance to shamelessly think about them.

We walked around the shops and we remembered our first trip with children, only 2 and only girls, and how they laughed at the water that shoots from the sidewalk like big water worms. They were so little then, curly hair and wide-eyed awe of princesses. This year I shop for them in the princess section and realize they are too old for much of it.

I want to go back to the hotel and finish the story I am writing for them but I just can't decide where it goes next. I think I'll need them to help me finish it.

It rains and I wish they were here to play with me in it.  It's the perfect rain for playing, heavy and warm, and rivers rush down alongside the curbs.  I remember introducing my first baby to Florida puddles before she could even walk.

My back is not sore any longer. 
I'm ready to go back to work, to carry them.

But first, 
before I put them all on my back,
I'll flip over stretch my arms out wide
and I'll feel the weight of the love of six children pressing down heavy and warm on my open heart.

I'll be welcomed home.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Rest. Day Six. Looking Upward.

Breathing in.

Looking upward and looking forward.
Away from home, from the constant running, I breathe in, and pray, Lord, help me to see the world as you see it.

An excerpt from Sacred Meditations by Johann Gerhard
Let the mind always look upward.

Devout soul, you should not love the fleeting life, but rather the permanent one. 
Let your desires ascend to that place where there is youth without old age, life without death, joy without sadness, and a kingdom without change.

 If beauty delights you, "the righteous will shine like the sun" (Matthew 13:43); if speed or strength, "the elect will be like the angels of God" (Matthew 22:30); if a long and healthy life, there eternity is healthy and health is eternal; if satisfaction, the elect will be satisfied when they appear in the glory of the Lord (Psalm 17:15).  

If melody delights you,there choirs of angels sing without end; if worldly pleasures, "God will inebriate them with the river of pleasure" (Psalm 36:9): if wisdom, the wisdom of God will be shown to you there; if friendship, they will love God more than themselves, and they will love each other as themselves, and God will love them more than they love themselves.  

If concord delights you, there everyone will be of one will; if power, everything will be easy there for the elect: they will desire nothing that they cannot have, yet they will desire nothing except that which God wants them to will and to desire.  

If honor and riches delight you, "God will set His faithful servant over many things" (Matthew 25:23); if real security, that will never and by no means fail them, just as it will never be lost by them of their own accord, nor will their loving God ever remove it contrary to the desire of their will, nor is there any will more powerful than God that could ever separate you from him.

Photo by Shalinee Kohli Murishwar:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rest. Day Five. Gratitude.

"I'd love to hear how you balance your marriage and keep it healthy.."
so said a few of you when I last asked about blog topics.

I have to admit, I snorted a laugh on this one. Marriage advice? Really? To write about marriage I'd actually have to THINK about my marriage and sad to say, I really don't do that very much.

Most often, I am caught up in surviving, managing the children, and just making it through the day.  My husband gets what's leftover, maybe, if there is anything.  And he's surviving too, living out his vocation as pastor and daddy.

If it were on my shoulders to plan some sort of marriage maintenance event, it would never happen. The logistics involved for me to get away, even for a night, are overwhelming.  I'd rather just stay home, and keep doing what I am doing, rather than do the work required to "find a sub."

He has to make me get away. He's always had to force me to relax, even in college, when he taught me that it was OK to walk away from the books for the sake of fun, of him, of us.

He took the initiative, and put our vacation on the calendar with all the authority of a Man. I submitted, packed, and planned for our time away.

We don't shrug off our vocations. I am still mommy, and his is still pastor, and daddy.
But we are husband and wife, too, and the time we spend living as Lover and the Beloved is good for us both.
We fill each other up, as God intended.

How good it is to be loved by a man who seeks my good.

Father, when chaos returns to our lives, keep us grateful for the gift you have given us in each other. Continue to grow us up in You and in fervent love for one another.  In Jesus, Amen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rest. Day four. Food quirks.

Unhurried I notice strange things about myself.

Here on vacation, we eat when we are hungry, and it's not as often as I would have guessed had I planned our meals.

I eat more often at home, and here are a few reasons why:

THEY require three meals a day and snacks, and it's my job to make that happen. If I'm going to be handling food all the time I might as well have some.

I eat when they are hungry. Why not?

I eat when they are NOT hungry any more. How can I let this food go to waste?

I eat because I have a spare 30 seconds and I know that eventually I will get hungry, even if I'm not now.  Who knows if I'll have time to eat when that happens? Better get the eating done while I can! And quick, before they see me!

I eat because my life is crazy, and it's something fun to do if I find myself in a moment when nobody needs me.

I eat to comfort myself, as a way of having "me" time for a second in the middle of a hectic day, as a way of filling myself up with whatever THEY are sucking out of me.

Funny thing:  Food doesn't fill me up with patience or energy, not when I eat too much, and not when I eat junk.  Food is a gift, intended for my good, but I often use it to my own harm.

I need a better relationship with food.
(After vacation of course.)
If you'd like to join me, join the group I joined: Dakota Pam's SparkTeam
I'll see you there. (Next week, of course. Orlando is not hte place to practice a healthy eating plan!)

Tell me, do you eat for reasons other than hunger?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rest: Day Three. Pouring out and filling up

In returning and in rest shall be your strength.

I sit beside still waters and He restores my soul.
There is much to be done, but even so, I am invited to rest.
I am not the glue that holds the world together. I can step off the treadmill, away from the endless lists. The schedules, meals, details are set aside, and my mind finds space for looking at the bigger picture. 

I get weary being the mastermind of the house all the time. I plan the meals, activities, chores.I enforce the bedtime and oversee the clean up.  When I am away from this, I eat less, I hurry less, and I don't want to make decisions. 
"We can eat whenever you want to eat, hon." 
"I don't care what we do, what do you feel like?" 

What do I feel like? I feel like being led. 
I feel like floating along while someone else takes charge. 
I feel the weight of the running and the planning lifted off of me and I breathe deeply.

Yet there are weights that cannot be shaken off, and I don't even try.  Those things I run from or ignore in the busy-ness bubble up to the surface and demand attention, even here beside the pool: my fears and worries and hurts and needs,
they come pouring out even as I rest,
but even this is rest, 
because they pour out with him, and on to Him.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rest, day two. Resting from success.

"We are called upon not to be successful, but to be faithful."

And I see in my heart too many cares about "success." I care about book sales and blog stats, and I allow happiness or discouragement to flow from those numbers, as if they were my judge.

To be faithful to my vocations, and not to be sidetracked by "success," as Mother Teresa said, and lived. I learned only this week that her real name was Agnes. 

Oh Agnes, my Aggie who cares nothing for success but who teaches me to be faithful, simply by living full of faith and love. God's love pours down on that dear child, and she takes it up with joy and passes it out freely to anyone around her with open hands. 

Fill me up Lord, this week with rest, and Your Truth, and Your Solid Love; that it my pour out generously on those around me. Make me faithful. Amen.

And hear us, O world, who would commend or condemn, 
So quick to throw flowers or stones,
We have never sought what you acclaim
Nor shunned what you are accustomed to defame,
You saw us fasting,
Each perpared to make the final sacrifice--
When we, the wanderers lay down for the rest eternal,
Give others great names,
call us the faithful.

Erik Axel Karlfeldt
(as quoted in The Knights of Rhodes by Bo Giertz )

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rest. Day one.

It is so hard for me to leave the children.

Before we left the child who aches for me the most needed one more hug. "Dont want you go mommy." He buried hisface in my neck. His arms around me, we fell on to the couch and I hugged him back, patting him and breathing him in. I felt his weight on me, his love of me pressing down into my heart.  But daddy was waiting for me in the car.  We had to get up.  Another boys lip quivered as he realized he forgot to show me his latest monkey  bar trick and could he please please do it for me before we go? But daddy waits in the car, so I told him to practice hard and hecould show me it all when we get back home.

I close my eyes and I still feel little one's arms around my neck.

Adele sings us through the mountains, and they make me feel wonderfully small.

We drove all night and I wonder did he play that music on purpose, the kind that reminds me of college and falling in love with him?  Because I am remembering in floods.  I slept in and out of memories and dreams.
We walk on the beach and the sand feels like confectioners sugar between my toes. I want to tell the kids about it, and then I think I should let them play in confectioners sugar when we get home.

We hold hands as we wallk. He wants to find a crab, and he does and I take a picture. I want to tell the kids about that too.

How strange it is, I remark, that we look like two normal people in this place. Just two people holding hands on the beach.

We don't loook like weirdos with six kids. It's like our fun little secret.  I am enjoying a break from the odd looks, but I still feel like a mama duck missing my little ducks.

He collected shells here with his grandma when he was little and tells me about the time they left them in the hot car and it smelled so bad they all almost got sick.  If we do it with the kids, we will bring some bleach we agree, and I say adulthood is lame.

He issues a command for feet and shoe cleaning, and I submit, but i get sand in his car anyway. I try not to think it is funny. He shakes his head, patient with his child-wife.

We say goodnight to little ones by phone, and I miss their arms.

But his arms are nice, too.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Do Daddy and Mommy BOTH know stuff? A story for kids

Do Daddy and Mommy BOTH know stuff?
(This story was inspired by Seth, who really didn't know.)

"Hey mom, why do we put gas in the car?" asked the boy.
"Because the van needs gas if we want it to go," replied mom.

"Why? How does gas make the van go?"

"Well… why don't you ask your daddy about that, honey."


"Mom, can you fix my transformer?"

"That's a better job for your daddy," said mom.


"Mom, how does our email know the way to grandma's computer?"

"The internet takes it there, son."
"How does the internet work?"

"Um… I think it's magic."

"No mom, really, I need to know HOW it works!"

"That's a daddy question, honey."


"Mom, when is the laundry going to be done?" asked the boy. Then he stopped, saying "Oh nevermind, I forgot. Only daddies know stuff. Not mommies."


Mom stopped ironing and looked at her son. "Now wait just a minute, son! Let's talk about this!"


Mom sat down on the couch with the boy.

"Mommies and daddies both know stuff. Daddy knows more than I do about cars and computers and things like that. But mommy knows lots of important things, too!"

"Oh really? Like what?" the boy was skeptical.

"Well…" mom thought for a minute.

"Remember when you were nervous to start school? Mommy knew how to help you through that first day."

"I remember that! You prayed for me and wrote notes in my lunch!  Now, I love school!"

"And who knows how you like your hamburgers, and your pancakes? And who knows what kind of cereal to buy and what size socks you wear?"

"You do mommy." The boy smiled.

"When you get scared at night, what happens?"

"Daddy tells me to go back to bed."

"And sometimes mommy comes into your room for hugs and prayers, right?"

"Right. I like it when you do that. "

The boy hugged his mother and smiled, "I think I get it mom.

Daddy knows how to make things work, and mommy knows how to help things grow."


"That's a good way to put it son.

We make a good team, don't we?"

. . . . . .

( characters in this story may appear wiser than they actually are)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Using Art to Bless Your Family

I love when the kids pick wild flowers from the yard and bring them in to me. They give me a gift, that cost them nothing other than the time to pick it, and they are thanked for it. And rightly so: they noticed the beauty around them, they gathered it, and they couldn’t help to share it with me.

In my imagination, I do something just like that when I write.
I see something beautiful or funny or important, I gather it up in words, and I share it with you. I love doing this thing, here on this blog, for my friends and for strangers.

It’s my hobby, my “other vocation,” my way of recharging and resting my mommy muscles for awhile. There is nothing wrong with this, but today, I am asking myself this question:

How can I use my art to serve my family?

And that’s one of those questions I ask myself and the ideas flood and I think I need to write for days just to get them all stamped down on the page before I get distracted with something else!

I won’t do that, but I will start a blog series so that I think on these things with you once a week. I am dedicating fridays to family-focused art. I’ll be dusting off the writing assignment the girls gave me (Sara and Clara) and I’ll be blogging about using creative energies in the home.

I’ll try my hand at children’s stories, and I’ll show you some of them, too. (Come back tomorrow!) I’d appreciate your thoughtful feedback. If you’d like to use them for experimenting on your own children, I’d love to hear what they think as well. These little people in my house are great story-testers, but I’m not sure they would tell me if my story was boring.

I would love to hear from you as well: how do you use your art to bless your family? Do you write to record memories? Do you garden, scrapbook, bake, craft, sew, or host parties? (Link up and guest posting opportunities coming soon!)

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;  and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7

I've Got Issues!

I was on the radio this week!  It was my first radio interview about the book, so I was a little nervous.  I liked that I did not have to put on make-up for this interview.  I do wish I could edit my audio efforts like I can edit my writing.  All in all, it was a good experience.
Issues Etc

If you'd like to listen, please click here: 

If I did it again, I would have answered one question differently:
Todd Wilken asked, "What do you have to say to those of us who know someone who might be suffering like this?"
I had expected him to ask me what I'd say to someone who was going through a trial themselves, so I got thinking on that answer and talking about it before I realized my mistake! If I could do it again, I'd say this.

Issues, Etc.
Serving theological meat and potatoes to all who have ears to hear

While you're over there at Issues, Etc., download a few more podcasts, or subscribe like I do. Todd and his guests make great company on the treadmill.  They often feed my mind and spirit as my hands do housework.

Here are a few of my all-time favorites:

Parables: The Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son with Ken Bailey
The hymn "I Bind unto Myself Today" With Pastor William Weedon
The hymn "Abide with Me" with Dr. Just
Discerning the Will of God Jeremy Rhode

For me, listening helps me remember my most important job as a Christian:


Receive the gifts of God in His Word, Sacraments and through His body the church.
Receive, trust, and be loved.

Do you ever receive your spiritual food through your ears?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Read, Pray, and Hug Before You Click

In the summer:
Kids get themselves up sometime before seven, big kids put on TV, and they loaf around in PJs.  I get up when I'm ready (or when the baby is stinky and hollerin' beside my bed.)  I make coffee, check email, and ease into the morning. I make breakfast for them when I am good n' ready.


During the school year:
I get up when they do (I know, some people say you should get up earlier than your kids, but they always hear the coffeepot, so what's the point?)  We jump out of bed and into our shoes. We plow through our morning jobs, and we get everyone together in time for school.
They talk and fight over the cereal box and I pester them to eat two more bites.  We hunt for the hairbrush and I check my email real quick while they are chewing.  I change the baby and pack the snacks and shoo them out the door because they're almost late.

And they leave, dressed and fed, but what have we forgotten? Did we hug? Did we pray? Did I look in their eyes or say a kind word to them?

I don't know. We probably forgot. I probably got sidetracked.
I could say I am too task-oriented.
I could also say I am too me-oriented.

Both things are true.  The way I gravitate towards my internet fix in the morning is just another symptom of me putting me first.

I don't want to send them to school with empty stomachs.
They need food.
They need mommy-love.
They need the Word of God.

Read the Bible- for me and for the children.
(Alternatively, let the Ipod do the reading while we eat.)

Pray- for myself and with the children.
We say Luther's Morning Prayer on the porch before they leave.

Hug- Greet the kids with affection when you first see them in the morning and before they leave for the day. Look into their eyes and speak kind words.

I have again given the kids permission to hold me accountable here. (Aggie loves her other nagging license. If you need someone to hold you accountable, just ask Aggie.)

No clicking until these things are done, and no clicking until the big kids are gone to school.
I want my children to grow up thinking this is normal:

It's normal for mom to listen to me.
It's normal for me to work in the morning.
It's normal for me to pray with my mom and dad every day.
It's normal to be loved and hugged.
It's normal to hear God's Word every day.

May God be with us in this new normal,and grow us in love for Him and each other.

Luther’s Morning  Prayer
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have kept me this
night from all harm and danger. Keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my
doings and life may please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all things. Let
your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Do you get distracted by technology or other things in the morning?
What do you want your  "normal" morning to look like?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Letter to the teachers at the beginning of a new school year

Dear teachers, 
and all who work with children,

As we begin a new school year,

These children who come to you have grown another year, and they continue with a steady march toward adulthood. Your classroom is their next stop. They come with their peers, and they sit in desks with eyes on you.

You may have piles of things still disorganized, you may not feel ready, you may not BE ready, but they come.

You have made room in your classroom and in your heart for this new set of children, and you are preparing to feed them and fill them and teach them.

These students will wear you out; they will try your patience; and they will frustrate you. They will push you and poke you and sin against you. They will learn from you and take from you and they will need more than you can give them.

They will need more than you can give them.
Remember this now, at the beginning of the year. They need you to be their teacher, and they need God to be their God.

Our Father, who knit you together, has equipped and gifted you to do this job that is before you. May He use your hands to bless these children. May He use your voice to teach His wisdom. May He use your heart of compassion to teach them love. May He use your strength and determination to teach them His ways even in discipline and failure. May He strengthen their faith by His Word from your lips.

May He fill you up with all that you need to do this enormous job. As you teach the children of His love for them, may He remind you that the same constant love applies to you. May His love for you in Christ continually refresh you and sustain you in the coming year. May He provide help when you need it, rest when you need it, and grace always.

God enable you both to will and to do this faithful work.

From one of many parents who are praying for you,

Emily Cook

Parents, remember to pray for your child's teachers!
Consider sending them a word of encouragement as they start the school year!

Feel free to use/modify this letter if you like!

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