Has Anyone Seen My Keys?

The other day we were late to leave the house and my husband could not find his truck keys. He knew he had seen them, even had them in his hand that very morning. We checked everywhere, every cabinet, drawer, basket, dirty pair of pants, his usual pocket….and…nothing!

After going back through all of those areas again, he decided to check his truck. One pull on the handle told him it was locked. Hoping he didn’t lock the keys in the truck, he cupped his hands to peer through the window at the ignition. No keys there.

Pondering what to do next, he instinctively stuck his hands in his pockets. That’s when he felt it. In his left pocket was a familiar metallic, key-shaped object pressing against his hand. Embarrassed, he pulled it out and yep, it was his truck key!

We are creatures of habit. Adam’s habit is to put his keys in his right pant pocket. When it wasn’t there, he panicked and didn’t know where they could be! He checked his right pocket a dozen times. But because he is such a strong creature of habit it didn’t dawn on him to simply check the other pocket.

I laughed at my husband’s lost keys but I so easily do this in my walk with Christ.

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The Rock that Wouldn’t Budge

While hiking side by side with my husband along a trail in Arkansas, the sight of this tree caused me to stop.

Do you see the rock in the middle of the tree? Do you see how the tree has grown around the rock?

I imagine that tree spent many days praying for God to remove that rock. “It’s in my way,” it whined. “I was here first!” It pleaded. “Please tell it to leave so I can grow.”

But God said No. He said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Taking the Lord’s answer, the tree decided to stop sulking and instead keep growing, despite the rock in its way. And now years later, this is the result: A firmly planted and mature tree with a rock in the center.

I have many rocks in my life – burdens I’ve prayed for God to remove. Financial stress, relational strain, homeschool woes, fears and shameful memories. Some of these He has removed – to the glory and praise of His Great Name!

But others, He has left.

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2 Situations You Should Never Apologize For

Last week I wrote a story about my husband apologizing to our son. Apologies are good and as the story shared, help restore relationships. But I started thinking, that sometimes we apologize for things we shouldn’t.

On Easter weekend, my husband and I rented a cabin in the woods, just the two of us. One morning we walked the trails nearby and passed a family hiking the opposite way. As we got closer we overheard the mom say to her daughter, “Only say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong and really need to apologize for it. You don’t have to say I’m sorry to everything.”

Then, seconds later as our paths literally crossed she said to us, “Oh I’m sorry, let us scoot out of your way.”  Adam and I chuckled. I wonder where the little girl learned to say I’m sorry so often!

It’s easier to say I’m sorry when you accidentally bump into someone in a crowded store than it is when you’ve done something hurtful and need to apologize to restore the relationship. But at the same time, parenting and relationships are hard, and we often, like the mom said apologize for the wrong things.

So in honor of those who make too many apologies (me included!), here are 2 situations we should never apologize for.

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The Power of an Apology

“Son, shut up!”

The words flew like a knife out of my mouth, cutting my 14 year old son before I could sheath them. He had pushed the issue one too many times. I had firmly told him he couldn’t do something, but rather than accept my answer he chose to be creative in his approach and ask from a different angle, hoping I wouldn’t notice. Hoping I’d change my mind.

But I caught on. I said no again and warned him to stop pushing and accept my answer. Obviously he wasn’t finished because a few minutes later, he asked me one more time. And I lost it.

I’d never told him to shut up before. He stood, stunned at my words, then tucked his tail like a whipped puppy and left the room.

I could tell my words stung as they cut. He looked wounded. He’d never seen me come at him like that before. It wasn’t just the words, but the fire behind them as well.

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To My Homeschooling Friends: The Magic Sauce

This May marks 9 years of homeschooling for me. Nine years! After that much time, I really thought I would have more figured out than I do. I think what I’ve figured out the most are my weaknesses and knowing better how to navigate around them. One problem with homeschooling is you don’t teach the same grade each year. Our job morphs as our children grow. So just about the time you figure one thing out, they’re moving on to the next!

One morning over Christmas break, I was journaling some of my struggles and questions, and I felt the Spirit encourage me: You can do this, but it’s not going to look like someone else.

Isn’t that a great word?

It challenged me to look around and see if I’m trying to implement how someone else is schooling their kids instead of looking to the Lord and asking Him to guide us. Isn’t it crazy how we can admire how one mom “does school” and we try and do it just like she does?

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Protect the White Space

“Our limitation is God’s opportunity.”

~ Denver Hall, Same Kind of Different as Me

It’s Sunday morning. Everyone’s up and bustling around pouring milk into cereal bowls, digging in the dryer to find matching socks and the tee-shirt without holes or stains on it.

But for Adam and I, it’s not working. We are running late, can’t find anything to wear, and frankly don’t have a good attitude about the day. We keep going through the motions though, hoping our want to will get the message and catch up. When I’m still in my pajamas with 15 minutes before time to leave, we decide to call it.

Kids, we’re not going to make it to church today.”

Of course, this was the one week they were ready early, so our statement met with disappointed faces. The week had been too full and Adam and I couldn’t go. Any. More.

Have you ever been there?

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1 Essential Quality of a Strong-Willed Parent

The ultimate paradox of childhood is that boys and girls want to be led by their parents but insist that their mothers and fathers earn the right to lead them.

~Dr. James Dobson

Right about the time my first baby was born, Dr. James Dobson released his updated version of The Strong-Willed Child.  The title intrigued me because I’d overheard my mother reference me as a strong-willed child once or twice and figured there was a high probability of passing that gene on to my son. By the time my newborn was two weeks old, it was obvious I needed Dr. Dobson’s book! Forget the child part, I had a strong-willed infant!

As I’ve been a mom to that firstborn for going on 15 years, I’ve realized raising a strong-willed child takes being a strong-willed mom. Actually, raising kids in general no matter their temperament takes strong-willed parenting.

One essential quality of a strong-willed parent is setting and upholding firm boundaries.

In other words, doing what you said you would do.

Kids push. And push and push and push. You draw a line, and a strong-willed child wants to cross it one way or another.

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When Will This Get Easier?

I woke up this morning to the words It’s not supposed to be easy running through my head. It made me think of the P90X guy saying in the arm circle warm up…“We’re going to be here awhile. It’s going to burn. It’s supposed to.

Life this side of Heaven: We’re here for an appointed time. It’s going to burn. It’s supposed to.

I know this, but somehow the creep happens. The comfort creep. I grow weary of fighting the same battles over and over again, so I start hunting for the cruise control button to make life easier.

But I forget ease and comfort are not the goal here. Life takes tenacity, endurance, perseverance. All those words you hear in cross country training and insinuate it’s going to be hard!

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Why Can’t I?

Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew…

My eyes are bigger than my stomach…

Basically, sometimes I think I can do things, I can’t.

Like in my head I think I can do a round-off back handspring in my front yard. I’ve watched my daughter do it countless times. It looks easy!

But have you tried a cartwheel lately?

Something happened around 27 years of age that biochemically defies turning upside down without torrential side effects.

I remember one time, I was really excited about something and I did a frontwards flip onto my bed like a little kid. Afterwards I just laid there, flat on my back, watching the room pass by in front of me.

But I have these moments in life too…not over cartwheels and front flips anymore for I respect those boundaries… where I think I can do things I can’t.

Now, it’s over schedules and activities I think I can jam into my week and stay sane. Problem is they have the same result as the front flip on my bed – leave me dazed and confused as to what just happened!

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Because He Loves Me

“Oh Momma….come heerree,” my little man called from the back door in his sing-song voice. “I’ve got something to show yoouu.”

Sometimes these requests cause me to hold my breath, afraid there will be a finger dangling from its base or some disaster to clean up. But something in his voice this time sounded promising. So I stopped whatever I was doing and followed him to the back porch. You can imagine my surprise when I saw this:

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A freshly blown off porch (blower provided by Daddy with a rent fee of $2), wiped down picnic table with a beautiful camellia blossom planted in a vase. All just for me! Just because he loves me!

I engulfed my little boy in my arms and said thank you with all the reciprocal love I could find. Then I sat down across from him on the bench seat and discussed the finer things in life according to a seven year old while soaking in the serene scene he created for us.

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