Friday, February 28, 2014

TGIF: Family Movie Marathon

In a galaxy, not so far away, a child o' mine asked to watch all the Star Wars eleven, he just now decided they're something he wants to see.

It's gonna snow this weekend, and pretty much stay in the single digits. PERFECT...only for a cozy day or two in with the ones I love! I never cared for those movies, but by golly, if it means snuggling with my kids all weekend, then there is absolutely nothing else I want to do!

So for my TGIF family fun idea, I am planning a Family Movie Marathon. Now to scout out all of the movies at our video stores...since we only have them on VHS...and gather up our entertainment.

TGIF, hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Ick of Status Updates

After my recent social media fast, I promised myself to not brag or type hidden agendas in my statuses on Facebook.  Before, I would get worked up over something someone said in response to my post or annoyed by something someone else typed. So much so, that I would revert to the world-focused, body-image focused, glory-seeking person inside me who I've tried squelching with heaps of Holy Spirit-driven prayer and study for these past 18 years of my life. But, she's never too far away, and seems easily coaxed by social media. Call it spiritual attack, if you will, but I am ashamed to say, I haven't quite mastered swinging my humility sword to ward off the monster inside.

My return to Facebook didn't take me long to break the promise I made to myself (ahem...God...but that makes me sound like SUCH a failure). Actually, I broke it very recently. Thank goodness for a friend pointing it out to me because my status made her question my integrity--and that is something I would never want anyone to question.

When I am spurred by emotion, typing words so quickly and sending them out so effortlessly, I am bound for disaster. My own ego or competitive spirit rises up inside me. It's like being thrown into an out-of-"soul" experience. And it makes me feel pretty icky. Because I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a passive aggressive status update, or a  so-and-so's-life-is-so-awesome status update when my own life is pretty dull. Again, it's easy to feel pretty icky. Perhaps I am a weakling. Maybe I am not as spiritually mature as I thought. But when I fall for the trap of using social media this way, or allowing it to get to me, it's like shears hacking away at all my new growth.

I know that many of my friends know what I am talking about. Most of my friends are pretty genuine in real life, and have shared that they have the same struggles as me. And I would hope, that the next time I stumble (note, not if, but when), and use social media to lift myself up or tear someone else down, my friends will speak up and hold me accountable. As far as being on the reading side of an annoying status, I resort to prayer. Praying for the person, praying for my heart, and stopping myself from getting out those shears!

There's a whole new hurdle to refinement, now. Our words used to go through the filter of having that person face to face, or just on the other side of the phone. Now, we can hide behind a screen and say things we would never say if the person was face to face...or if we knew what the person was going through in their daily life. Even if the culture is spinning in a self-absorbed storm, relationship is still the most important thing.

I am not going to let the ick of a status update ruin my relationship with a friend, but especially, ruin my relationship with the One who inspired these words:

"9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water." James 3:9-12

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rain In The Desert

on by chayathonwong2000
Are you in a spiritually "wet" season, but walking through a desert in circumstance?

When we cling close to our God in those times of walking in the desert, He will supply us with an amazing rainy season for our hearts, and guide us when we least expect it!

Here is a sample of my post on the Alley today:

"In my recent encounters in the desert of life, God has presented conversations that have pulled truth from my heart through my lips that I didn't even realize was significant when I read it earlier in His Scripture... BUT IT WAS FOR A TIME SO PERFECTLY PLOTTED BY MY GOD!"

God blesses us in relationship no matter the chaos about us. All we have to do is turn to Him.

Check it out my post  here!

Friday, February 21, 2014

TGIF: MamaK Shout Out and Snack Time!

So, it's been a while since my TGIF posts, and today I hope to pick up momentum again.

MamaK and Hubby
I've always tried to get my family to eat healthier, and there are people out there who spur me on to keep on trying! For TGIF,  my longtime friend, MamaK, has just started a new blog sharing GREAT
healthy and delicious recipes, as well as her fun personality in every post. Her first post is a healthy brownie...chocolate? Really? I am ready! Check out her blog here!

In honor of MamaK's pursuit for healthy eating, I thought I'd carry the food theme in my family fun idea. It's not just for the weekend, actually it started out for the weekdays. But, it's about food, and food is ALWAYS fun for the family!

My kids come home from school scouring the pantry for food most days after school. They eat lunch early, and let's face it, the school meal portions are very small these days. So, I have always tried to keep the pantry stocked with easy snacks for the taking...but, what I've come to realize, is that they disappear quickly...AND...they aren't always that healthy.
This past week, I decided to not just meal plan breakfast and dinner, but snack time as well...and it's been a BIG hit! I have time before the kids get home to prepare something simple, and the kids love being surprised with a new snack each day. This doesn't just have to be an after school thing, but a weekend family snack is always fun, too.
Besides, meal planning snacks makes life easier, your budget under, and gives health and taste priority!

Do you meal plan your snacks? What kind of snacks do you prepare?

This week, I've made smoothies, celery with peanut butter and white chocolate chips, nachos with quinoa and black bean chips, and an assortment of cheese, almonds, peanuts, veggies and fruit.

I'll have to think of something extra tasty for Saturday...especially since Daddy will be around at snack time:)

Looking for recipes? Don't forget to check out MamaK's blog, I am sure she'll have some great ideas for snacks in the near future!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Little Deities

This is what my weekend looked like:

Friday: Valentine's date with my hubby. As it neared 6:30, we both questioned whether we should forfeit the rest of the time to rush home and take our son to his baseball practice. Hmmmm....but we chose not to.

Saturday: I woke up at 6:00am to get ready and take my nine year old to a swim meet. I gathered up his swim items and hopped in the car with a friend to travel the 40 minutes to the meet.

My husband gathered up the rest of the kids, all the snow gear he could muster, piled them in the car, and picked us up from the swim meet, 40 minutes away, at 11 am. We then headed to a nearby ski hill, and spent the day from about noon-7:30 pm, giving our boys a very successful first experience with skiing. In the meantime, I took my two year old daughter to the movies, and gave her popcorn and a fun princess show.

Sunday: We took the kids to church. First service, I helped in Children's church with other moms and my husband. Second service, we sat in the front row with the kids' friends, tried to maintain behavior during worship, shuffled them to their classes, came home, made lunch for the kids and a friend, took one kid to baseball practice, played dolls with my daughter...and got ready for the week.

So, are you wondering what the point of this post is?

Let me give you a hint. Our church sermon this Sunday was about Family-focus.

I agree with the Christian cultural idea that the family unit is very important...that two parents pouring into the life of a child is great. That family time is key to a stable environment. I mean, look at our weekend! How much did we pour into these kids of ours? Yes, I definitely play by "the rules" of the culture to pour into my children. And I LOVE it.



Who is the center of my universe and who do my kids think the center of my universe is?

Something very important that was said in the sermon this Sunday, was that parents must remember their spouse is first priority OVER the kids.

And it made me realize, how little my husband and I focus on our relationship in relation to our relationship with our kids. Even on our valentine's date we wavered on wondering if baseball practice should trump it! We try and be good, loving parents as much as we can--trying to model the loving Father in Heaven for our children--but can we truly give room for God when our kids are over-saturated with us catering to them?
Do we so meet their every need and desire, that we become a giant idol genie god (see my last post), who give no reason for them to really seek the True God on their own? In this western culture, where inconvenience and want are lacking, how do our children understand the importance of patience, necessity, and Godly provision?

Not only does my overcompensation to provide everything for my children run the risk of me becoming an unhealthy idol to my kids, but I equip my children to think of themselves as their own little mini-world...or sun...where everything revolves around them and their pleasure. They become mini-gods, thinking that if life isn't about them, then something is dreadfully wrong...boring...unfair.


No wonder I struggle with the constant mommy guilt when I want to do something for goes against the will of the little deities running around demanding snack when they want it, entertainment when they want it, attention according to their standard.

So you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking I am being over-dramatic. And I might be--to make a point. Balance is key...and as far as time and focus go, I believe the scales really need to tip a bit.

The kids drain me to the point of irritation and misery at times, and I have nothing left to give my husband...or my God. And it's not the kids' fault, but my own...for buying into the kid-centered, family-overfocus theology. Yes, folks, I am going to go as far as saying that our Christian culture response to the anti-family culture, has over-compensated a bit.

Look at history...did the parents really devote every hour to their children? Did children demand the attention of their parents for entertainment, their every whim?  And yet, did great scholars, inventors, pastors, entrepreneurs, come out of past generations? And most importantly, has God filled in the gaps along the way?

My grandfather was a super wise man. He is one of my heroes. A piece of advice he gave me as a young parent, stung a bit at first, but now I realize the wisdom in it... "Get a babysitter."

Children are a gift from the Lord, but they are not to be a distraction. Parents are responsible for their care, but we aren't to devote every second of their life with entertainment and comfort.

My children mean the world to me...for sure. I love them SOOOOO much. But I am not going to make them my sun, and I am going to stop trying so hard to be theirs.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

God, the Genie

"Whoever seeks God as a means toward desired ends will not find God. The mighty God, the maker of heaven and earth, will not be one of many treasures, not even the chief of all treasures. He will be all in all or He will be nothing. God will not be used. His mercy and grace are infinite and His patient understanding is beyond measure, but He will not aid men in their selfish striving after personal gain. He will not help men to attain ends which, when attained, usurp the place He by every right should hold in their interest and affection." - A.W. Tozer

How often do I fall into the thinking, "if I ask, He will give", when I haven't even sought His will in the matter in the first place? God is not just a genie who wants his children to be fat and happy. He's a God who wants to give to His children good things that will bring Him glory. And sometimes, it's going to hurt a little in the process. I might throw a tantrum because He's not answering my prayer, or  worse, He's actually saying, "no". Just like my own child who kicks and screams because I say it's not time for the fun stuff yet...or who cries because I said "no" to that toy he really wanted. It's not that the toy is bad, but I have foresight and know how greed can destroy his heart if I gave in all the time. And I am not withholding fun from my child because I am ruthless and mean...but I know that if he just waits for the perfect moment, he'll see I've been preparing a great surprise for that special occasion. 

Just our breath is sign that God loves us enough. Why do we turn against Him when He's not giving into that one thing? 

Lately, I have grown weary in this publishing pursuit. I've entertained everything from I don't have what it takes to God doesn't want me to do this.

WHY???? Why do I always turn against God when things aren't going my way? How dare I, really. Tozer's quote above really resonates with me. 
It's all about Him.
He is the treasure. 
And He has bestowed upon me the ability to grow in relationship with Him. The Creator of the Universe wants me to know Him...intimately. Aaaah! That is so hard to understand. Obviously, so many people don't. But all other things, publishing, dieting, success, are absolutely nothing compared to a divine friendship with God Almighty.

Priscilla Shirer says it best in her study, Discerning the Voice of God, "Often we seek to know God's direction more than we seek to know God. We bypass the relationship because we would rather have answers about us. God wants to speak to you because He wants you to know Him; knowing His direction is just a by-product. God seeks to reveal truth about Himself because this knowledge will lay the firm path you can walk to fulfilling God's purpose for your life."

The thing is, when I have truly sought God's voice, a supernatural peace resides in my heart...and He doesn't fail in speaking. It is when I lean into Him for the sole purpose of listening and learning, that He meets me. It's not with a publishing contract, or a hidden secret to how I should live, it's with His whisper and His Truth.

Be still my heart and just abide. The desires of this world are nothing compared to Who wants you for His friend.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Self-Imposed Deadlines??

I am at the Alley today, talking about the pitfalls of self-imposed deadlines. If you are a writer or a mama, this really can apply to all of us! Check it out at:

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My only Hope.

How can we find joy in our burdens? Whether it be rejection in publication or broken relationships, I seldom rejoice like the apostle Paul declares in Romans 5:

3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

But, I have a taste of the sweetness of this practice. It is in these broken places that I have cast off the childish way of seeking human approval or consolation, and clung desperately to my God. It is each morning that I crave my time with Him, and I cast my broken heart before Him.

And it is then that I realize, not only the perseverance,
not only the character,
But the HOPE.

And while my burdens surely disappoint, my God does not. In fact, He soothes me with an intimate word, a series of nudges that are sewn together with an everlasting thread of hope. I cannot escape His specific message that finds me in every place I turn when my heart bleeds for Him alone. I no longer believe in coincidence. Because this heart salve is too personal, too effective to heal.

As I journey through this casting off of my yoke to His loving shoulders, I savor the treasure He has placed in my heart, that is in Psalm 62:

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

When I was younger, I doubted God's care in times of burden. I sought for human answers and human help. But as I grow older, I no longer find comfort in such superficial means. God is my only hope.