Monday, March 14, 2011

Decals & Decisions

This post has been heavy on my heart for the past year and I have been in prayer about what to say as well as keeping a journal of thoughts on what I see around me and what I am always learning to be true of what God asks of us as parents. Yet, parenting is one of those very personal topics that many people do not like talk about. Everyone does it different, everyone thinks different types of behavior are acceptable, yet everyone seems to have an opinion!

When we first moved to this part of the country, I began noticing decals on the back windows of many cars that "advertised" different activities with which the children of that family were involved. I honestly did not put that much thought into it, until I was at a mom's group and a speaker shared about how the advertisement of all our children's accomplishments disheartened her because she never saw decals boasting in t
he Lord for His work in our children's lives. Decals for their day of salvation or for them reaching a goal of 100 verses memorized just to name a few examples. Honestly even those decals would be quite ironic, because God's word says for us to boast in our weaknesses and I have yet to see a decal that says "too often impatient mama at the wheel" or "brothers who aggravate each other too much."

I don't have a strong feeling against the whole decal thing, it just happened to be something that sparked in me an opportunity to think beyond
just the decal.

As my little brood of blessings has grown and my husband and I continue to seek how to raise our young men how God intended us to, I find myself asking the question, "Why did we want to have children?"
The 'spiritual' answer would be to obey God's command in Genesis 1:22 "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth..." But was that the REAL reason we wanted to have children? Was it the social question we kept getting, "When are y'all going to have kids?" Was it the feeling that it was just the next step in the journey? Honestly, hadn't we heard how hard it was, how much money it cost, how much time it takes and how much different so many aspects of our marriage would be after the kids come along! Yes, of course, we had heard it all.
We wanted to leave a legacy. We wanted something more purposeful to pour our lives into than what we felt we were doing at the time. For us it was a longing to build a home and family in which we could live out and teach what God had placed in our hearts to do. That is where our journey of parenthood started. We didn't mind if they were biological or not, our hearts just beat for children. It took three and a half years to conceive our first-born and soon before we found out we were expecting we began to pray for new eyes to see what else God had in store for us besides children. Use us in any way you want with or without kids~ that was my prayer.

My womb has been blessed four times with the reward of children, although we have only met three of them. We have left that to God's hand and each time we have another child I have an overwhelming feeling of being trusted yet again with a precious life that God has given to me temporarily here on this earth. I am amazed at His vote of confidence in us to raise them up in righteousness.
So as life has continued moving at a high rate of speed, I have begun to notice how all the non-essential things of raising children seem to sometimes get in the way. Which leads to less focus on that which God says really matters.

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the door post of your house and on your gates.

Being a parent who is going to leave a godly legacy means that we have to make the hard decisions NOW, when they are young and still in our home. The greatest pressure I often feel as a parent is that my children need to see an attractive model of following after God without reservation! Our life MUST show them that it is absolutely worth it. It is my responsibility to make the hard decisions for them now, so they know how to do it for themselves later.

Is it fun? No. Is it easy? No. I must decide about the movies, books, dance costumes, Halloween costumes or no costumes, friends, sports teams, make-up, birthday parties, concerts, t.v., clothes....everything! My lens has to be a narrow one, where God is filtering it all because they do not have that kind of filter yet. Even when they give their lives to the Lordship of Christ, we still must disciple them in their Christian walk.

Training our children in righteousness means choosing to live a life of righteousness on ALL fronts, even the hard ones. Even the ones that leave us as a bit of a social misfit. I want my boys to be able to say no, because they saw us say no and our lives still made sense. Why? Because it was being lived wholly for the glory of God. On paper it seems not so hard and maybe even inspiring. In shoe leather it is a whole different story. We will have to defend our choices that seem against the grain of culture, we will be questioned and need to be ready to give an account for the hope that lies within us. We need to know we will make some wrong decisions, but God's grace will redeem.

The extras in childhood are not bad in and of themselves, but the focus is what we must keep in constant accountability. The "why" of our decisions matter because it will greatly affect the "who" our children will grow to be someday. I will never make perfect decisions and I will never have it all put together. I will constantly need God to reveal the true state of my heart so that I can live attractively for Him. I will find more pressure and less support as the world continues on because we know that it only becomes harder to live fully surrendered to the cause of Christ. But isn't that why we are all here in the first place?

So I ask myself each day, who is getting first place today, Melissa? Which decal are you advertising today by the decisions you make for you and your children?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Library Book List

Hello! It has been awhile since I have posted our monthly library list of books we have been enjoying! We have also been adding art projects with the books in which we really love the art. Enjoy!

My First Little House Books
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

B is for Bear by Roger Priddy (A perfect size touch & see book for very young children.)

Hurricane by David Wiesner (A fun adventure book about two brothers imaginations that run wild after a hurricane.)

Tuesday by David Wiesner (This is a wonderful story told by pictures. It is very funny and allows your child to explore their imagination!)

All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashely Bryan (This book is absolutely the brightest and most colorful book I have seen! It also has the music in the back so you can sing the song.)

I Love Bugs!
by Emma Dodd (A busy & bold colored book about bugs.)

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young (This Caldecott Honor Book is a wonderful story about seeing things from a narrow vision is not always best. Looking at the whole helps us see much better.)

Jibberwillies at Night
by Rachel Vail, illustrated by Yumi Heo (A fun book about how a young girls imagination comes alive when she goes to bed at night.)

Birds by Brian Wildsmith (We really enjoyed the beautiful art in this simple book about different types of birds.)

We loved this last book so much, that we re-created our favorite pictures one morning! Here are the masterpieces~

By: Luke Asa

By: Melissa Jane

By: Eli Hunter

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On the Horizon

It's ten o'clock in the morning and the phone rings. I know who is at the other end of the phone, because he is there every morning at this time. He (my mr. wonderful) calls to check-in and see how the day is going so far. He always asks how my quiet time was, how the boys are doing and what are plans are for the rest of the day. It's nice. It keeps us connected. I like it because I don't feel alone, which can sometimes happen in this crazy state called motherhood.

On this particular day I say hi and he says how's it going? "It's like groundhogs day around here!" I can "hear" him grinning at me. He probes more and I finally respond by saying, "You know this is the hardest job ever, right?!?!?!" Yes, he calmly says. My rock. My steady leader guiding me in my moments when the whole universe seems a little off kilter. He is my gift and this calmness the greatest gift of love he offers me every day.

My heart is so heavy with this groundhogs day feeling. I have been aware of changes that this home needs to make, the promptings of my Heavenly Father who is calling us to something greater, something different than what happens each day here and now. Do you know how hard it is to change the routine, habits and regular happenings of five very different people in one house? Yes, I know you know this difficulty. I find it most challenging, because it begins in me.

Honestly, though, isn't that where it should all begin? In my heart, my thinking, my words, my life. I cannot guide the young hearts in my care if my own heart is not in a state of obedience to my Heavenly Father. So the journey begins....

This journey is but another season of life. I love to think of life in seasons, because it reminds me that there is a beginning and an end and nothing lasts forever here on earth. So I welcome the bitter cold winter that will strip me bare of all that I consider comfortable in order to reveal the true condition of my heart. Much like God allowed in the life of his faithful servant Job. God knew that under the circumstances that he allowed Job to endure, the sin of pride would rear it's ugly head and Job would be opened to the need for that to change. At the end of his suffering he came out more like the man God desired him to be and less like the man that Job thought he was doing a good job at being.

In the cold wind, my bare and exposed self will need the warmth of God to fill in the places that have become hardened to His ways. I do not intentionally seek out ways to distance myself from God, but I allow it to happen in the busyness of everyday life and responsibility.

As the sun begins to grow warmer, I begin to sprout new thoughts, attitudes and actions. Spring is on the horizon and I will again bloom. New and beautiful because of His work in me. As the winds blow gentle, the seeds begin to scatter and I am feeling refreshed and alive in the cool Spring air. I am pouring into the lives entrusted to me, changing that which He has said can be better. In the summer we thrive in the sun and flourish in our growth. We cling to the rain that falls to water our souls and then slowly, like the sun creeping up over the horizon, the rich gold, red and orange hues begin to surface.

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