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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Have New Products on PajamaMama.net


I just wanted you all to know that I have new products over at the site. There are more coming so just stay tuned. We are heading to Florida in the stationwagon Thursday afternoon. It will be like the Griswold's family vacation I am afraid. So some of the new things will have to wait until we get back. But I just wanted you all to know.

My cousin is getting married in Fort Myers. I can't wait to tell you all how it goes. It will be exhausting - it is one of those trips you drive all day get where your going spend the night go to the wedding and turn around and drive all the way home the next day...not fun. But important never the less....

Please pray for our safety going down and coming back. For the car to hold up and behave well. Pray that we will be wise and show Christ in all we say and do!

Hopefully I will have my other things to show here in the next two weeks!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Something To Think About


I worry. I worry a lot about my kids. I am too protective and wonder if I am not being careful enough and I struggle to know where the line of being cautious and rightly concerned and being overly cautious and overly concerned. It's a conundrum.

Remember as kids when we ran ALL over the neighborhood? We rode our bicycles up and down the road and I even remember (this will give you some insight into my brilliance) laying on my back on a skateboard and rolling down the hill on my street like it was a luge. If a car had come I would have been mush. I am sure my Mom did not know I was doing that. But it was so much fun! How much of that should I be worried about with my kids? A better question is - am I worried about it so much because I know what I was like? That is more likely.

I see highschool kids walking home from the bus and I wonder, "How can their parents let them walk home in this day and age? And is that something I should do with mine? Am I over- reacting? Am I not trusting God's grace for my kids by being too overprotective?"

It is truly exhausting at times. But in thinking about all of this I had a flash back of holding three kids hands as I walked across the parking lot...the twins in one hand and the other child in my other. This was not that long ago. I don't do that anymore- they are almost 8 now. When did I stop? When was it that I trusted my little ones to walk next to me and not be nervous anymore?

I remember the twins refusing to hold my hand anymore, I guess it was last year and I do remember holding G's hand and letting them walk beside me and being nervous about it initially. But then I saw that nothing bad happened and they seemed to be fine. So apparently I laid my fears to rest and now it no longer bothers me. It was little steps that got me to that point.

The same thing about other things. We have a septic tank. When we moved here I had never had one before and worried about it. A lot. I was careful about everything that went down the sink. I didn't want to put too much Clorox or grease and I did not want to use the garbage disposal because I was afraid it would throw the balance off. But after 5 years of living here..and after some Clorox being accidentally dumped and using the garbage disposal in fits of desperation...I found that the septic tank is fine. It no longer really makes me nervous. I am still careful to an extent but not nearly so particular as I was at first.

Sin is like this. We may start off being very careful and aware of our actions, careful not to become involved in whatever sin is tempting us. But in a time of weakness we slip and fall into it. Nothing really bad happens and it was good, it was fun, it made us feel alive, it resounded with our sinful nature and we found ourselves wanting to do it again. So we do it again, and before long we find ourselves ensnared and it no longer worries us, until the consequences of our sin catches up with us. Then we are oh so sorry we ever allowed ourselves to get caught up in it.

Now let me just say the outcome of any particular action will determine how comfortable we are with the next step. This applies to everything I can think of. So it behooves us to walk carefully. How do we do this? Especially this day and age? There are snags and snares everywhere we look. Even billboards and commercials. On the radio, on the television - there are a wealth of temptations and evils that will cause us to become callous to what is questionable and allow things into our homes that we never would have. What a clever and vicious plan Satan has to undermine those who love the Lord. Many times we do not even realize it. It is up to us to be cautious. Not necessarily to worry like is my temptation to do but to walk carefully and to be aware of where we are allowing our senses to wander.

Here is what Proverbs 4 has to say about it:

Proverbs 4
Wisdom Is Supreme
1 Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a boy in my father's house,
still tender, and an only child of my mother,
4 he taught me and said,
"Lay hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands and you will live.
5 Get wisdom, get understanding;
do not forget my words or swerve from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
love her, and she will watch over you.
7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you;
embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will set a garland of grace on your head
and present you with a crown of splendor."
10 Listen, my son, accept what I say,
and the years of your life will be many.
11 I guide you in the way of wisdom
and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
guard it well, for it is your life.
14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
16 For they cannot sleep till they do evil;
they are robbed of slumber till they make someone fall.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.
18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble.
20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
listen closely to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to a man's whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.
24 Put away perversity from your mouth;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Make level paths for your feet
and take only ways that are firm.
27 Do not swerve to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

It is hard work. But keeping wisdom before us in the form of God's Word and walking rightly divided in the truths God provides therein is a necessity in this day and age. We then can walk confidently in the midst of this world knowing we have guidance from the one who knows all and will guide our steps according to His will. The key - the important thing to glean from this - for myself especially is - being in the Word. Living it out and seeing that my children see me doing this and then I can trust that God will guide me accordingly and pray that they will do the same thing. Being aware of the pitfalls and clinging to the wisdom God's Word has imparted to us is a key in walking rightly. I really don't see how we can do without it. God's grace is sufficient. He has truly given us everything we need to live this life until He takes us home. What a glorious and comforting thought.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tension


You know there is such a tug of war in so many things. I find there is tension pretty much in every decision I have to make. There are two sides and one usually outweighs the other in necessity, or merit - or some other reasoning (not always sound) but sometimes they are equal. That is when the decision becomes hard. And I question what is the right choice. I struggle, even labor over the decision...sometimes it is time consuming and exhausting. I always wonder how I can make more precise decisions - easier. Of course that is not always possible. It is a blessing that some decisions cause us to stop and seek our Lord as we make them.

Wisdom is hard to come by. It certainly is not a naturally occuring thing with me. Given a choice I usually make the wrong one. I am ruled by my passions - way too much. This is definitely NOT wise. But as I get older I do see some changes. This is encouraging. 1Kings is a great book about wisdom. In chapter 2 you see David charging Solomon:

2 "I am about to go the way of all the earth," he said. "So be strong, show yourself a man, 3 and observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, 4 and that the LORD may keep his promise to me: 'If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.'

David knew in order for Solomon to rule as the King of Israel that he would have to heed God's word to obtain wisdom. And there is that phrase "...and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul...". This is the heart of that charge. It is what makes the difference in a wise person. The wisest people I know are slow to act, quick to seek the Lord and faithfully walk before him with their heart and soul. This is good advice. This is how we should live, love and make our decisions.

In chapter 3 you have Solomon coming before the Lord and asking:

7 "Now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?"

I love this. And I have made it my prayer...

Oh Lord my God, you have made your servant wife to a child of yours, and mother to three boys who are yours as well. I am only a little child in my faith and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, the body of Christ, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to care for the people you have given me - my husband and my children and friends and to distinguish between right and wrong. For how can I do this without your help?

Not a bad way to begin tough decisions. The problem is - how often do I actually stop and do this? I hope that for my family, I will do it more, and more often. I pray that my spiritual sight will grow and that with practice I will do this without having to stop and go to my references on how to act. But for now - that is what it looks like and I am satisfied.

I encourage you all to read 1Kings. It is an amazing journey of a man who sought the Lord but who realistically faltered and struggled with choices that were before him. And in the end because he did not faithfully walk with the Lord he lost the reign of all of Israel.

The scripture is placed before us so that we may learn. I pray that it is so with me. As I read of these very real, very human people of the scripture, that I will learn what God is trying to teach and apply it to my life and teach my children to do the same.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Another Glimpse


I woke up this morning to exercise (4:50am-ugh). My thoughts immediately went to what I wanted for my day. My prayer immediately was "Let me give this day to you Lord...I dedicate all I do and say to you, make me holy and happy."

This is progress - though I struggle with whether I can actually accomplish this at all. My normal prayer is more along the lines of "help me get this, this and this done and not to do this.."etc. This prayer did not include my to do list or do not do list. It strictly asked the Lord to help me give my day to him and to make me holy and happy. Upon reflection - I really like this prayer...it has nothing to do with my issues of accomplishment - strictly with my posture before the Lord. Of course my doubts immediately started in on me. But another thing that was pretty amazing happened. I was encouraged rather than discouraged. I immediately remembered things I did the day before that I needed to get right.

I have had to offer control of several things back to my husband. I took them over and they have become sources of sin for me. My desire to control and even to conceal things to keep things easy here at home. Not good. Not godly. I had to go before my husband and confess them and I had to ask him to forgive me. Nasty. Embarrassing. And I have really struggled with repentance of some things and have rebelled when they are brought to my attention...by the Lord or anyone!

So yesterday when Andy told me I needed to put some money in our savings I immediately rebelled. I argued with him and tried to give him reasons why we couldn't this pay period. We have overspent our budget already in a couple of areas (Superbowl weekend - you know one area! GROCERIES). He became agitated with me. Rightfully so. I let it pass and moved on. But this morning as I was getting dressed it came back. I owe him an apology. I need to do what he asks me to and apologize for giving something to him and then immediately trying to take it back and control it again.

Ladies - to me this was an answer to my first prayer this morning. Make me holy. I had to confess that sin and then I had to ask Andy to forgive me. But what has REALLY, REALLY made my morning is the fact that instead of being burdened and rebellious about my realization of wrong and need to repent, I was freed - my heart was lighter and I am HAPPIER. Both requests - bam, bam - answered.

Now I am pretty sure it will not always be this way...but quite honestly - today - I could not have asked for a better way to start my day. I pray that I do remember the act of confession and repentance actually draws me closer to my Lord and not become angry that I am having to do it. This also tells me the status of my heart and is an encouragement to know that I am willing right now. I pray that God will continue to help me be so.



2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Scattered Dead Leaves



Scattered dead leaves, this tree in decay
Offers false fruit, a gift without promise.
Emptiness, rot, the currency this day,
A cup running over with barrenness.

Skeletal arms reach up toward their Maker
In lengthening shadow and shortness of days.
Winter, Death, the cruel gift-taker,
Leaving in place inadequate praise.

Who can revive these cold, lifeless limbs?
Barren they lie, of raiment are shorn.
And give them new breath to whisper new hymns,
Spring to new life, in beauty adorned.

Spring's morning Sun, the Heavenly Rain,
A resident Wind all bring life to this ground.
From this tree now clothed in a deep living green
Songs of such joy to th' Immortal redound

Released from our toil, we too in new soil
now Grow in fresh earth, singing songs of rebirth.
And casting our sorrows on Hope's eternal tomorrows,
Season our days with new tongues of new praise.

~Andy Smith

Mid-Life Dip

Reprint from 2008 - thought it was interesting to re-read!


I was watching the Today Show one day this week. They had three people - I think it was two psychologists and a rabbi. Apparently there was a poll taken of 1 million people, not including income, color. Just a simple question, "Are you happy?" Well the good news is the really young and the really old are really happy. The bad news is...the ones in the middle - not so much.




Here's the link to the article: MiddleAgeIsTrulyDepressing,StudyFinds




The discussion was all about why that was. How come people in their late 30's through 40's are so unhappy? The average age the dip started was 44 1/2 and folks didn't emerge from it until after their 50's. What they discussed made good sense. The pressures of providing for the future are suddenly a very real thing. Babies are no longer babies - they are growing children - a lot faster than you thought they were going to. Parents are getting older and are having to be provided for as well in some cases. Of course there are many factors that can either add to or take away from the unhappiness. Marriages not being what you thought is one, debt being another, sickness...rebellious teens, not to mention all the changes that come. Can't see like we use to, can't fit into the clothes we use to...heck - we don't even know what's "in" anymore. We are too busy taking care of our kids and holding things together!




Apparently middle age is the beginning of enlightenment. We were too young to understand how hard it was when we were children (ignorance really is bliss) and we are not yet old enough to understand that it is not the end of the world and that there is a point we get use to all the changes and become comfortable with who we are. We then become happy again. And enjoy life again. We finally reach the Age of Enlightenment.




Do you know what is really interesting about the study? They also took into account where people lived. Can you believe that the happiest people were not the ones who lived in the sunny South or the Bahamas where the weather is fine? The people who were happiest were the ones who lived in places like Iceland, and Finland. The reason? Because they have to depend on each other more. They are a group of people who look to each other in the dark, cold of their climate to meet each others needs. They are a community. They support each other and care for each other in that community. The people are closer and felt more content because the relationships in their villages are close. They have people - so to speak. Someone they know they can count on.




That is an amazing find. We need each other. We are to support each other. We are to find our contentment in relationships not status and possessions. The problem with middle age is we are just learning that. We are on the cusp of understanding but are so busy trying to make ends meet that we can't quite grasp it. Then the kids go to college and we kind of get a handle on the finances and suddenly we realize. We understand. We start to really live, to really find happiness.




But you know - we don't have to wait. As a matter of fact I believe it is possible to find that happiness well before our "Golden Years". Especially for those who are in Christ. He has called us to love one another. He has given us this advice and if we live it, we will find our contentment. We will find that the Age of Enlightenment is now and not in the future. We can live a full life well before our fifties. This is joy and it should be present in the believers life even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Does that mean that each day will be easy breezy? I do not think that is what the study was about at all. Happiness does not mean no worries. Happiness is a state of mind. I believe that it is contentment and being comfortable in your own skin. I believe it comes from knowing that your tomorrow's are under control. And for a believer, that is a given. That is joy.


There are still worries. There are still...hormones...ugh. There are still little ones and teenage years and parents that need caring for. BUT, if we can remember that it is all just so temporary. And then we move to the next stage. Learning to be happy where we are today is HUGE. As a matter of fact...I was speaking to an older lady the other day, she said that her kids were harder now than they had ever been. The reason is because she could not make it better for them anymore. They were adults with kids of their own. Her struggle came from not being able to be hands on anymore and help and fix things like she had been able to when they were younger. They had to make their own way. I can imagine that is hard for a Mama. I remember when I was at home with the twins, nursing them and changing diapers unendingly, a friend told me that it just got harder when they got to school and to enjoy that time I had with them as babies. I was shocked and then I was shocked yet again to hear my sweet older friend say it got harder still even when they were no longer children.
You know what that says to me though? There is never an end to our struggle to make things right in our world. But that does not mean we cannot find our footing here and be happy. I absolutely believe that we can. And...what if, we miss a blessing, miss the joy of the present because we keep waiting to get through whatever stage we are in before we think we can finally find that joy. No, God has given us everything we need to be content here and now. We have His Word, His Holy Spirit and each other. By prayer, study and fellowship we can have joy even in the hard times. How blessed are we?