Thursday, July 31, 2008

Keeping up with the Joneses or Jesus?

Okay, I have a question. We all know that people choose to spend their money in different ways, depending on what's important to them. Some people just love shoes. For others, it's clothing, haircuts, knick-knacks, wine, cars, etc. As a follower of Christ, I try to be conscious of what I'm spending my money on and evaluate (especially when I'm making a larger purchase) whether I'm being a good steward of what the Lord has blessed me with.

But does it get to the point that spending "that kind of money" on an item is just wrong? No matter how much you justify it?

I was thinking yesterday that I just cannot see spending $1000 on a pair of shoes as being a good steward of my money - not that I was considering a pair.

I would say that if an item is available for $200+ less than what you're considering paying, there should be a very good reason why, such as safety issues, quality (within reason), or possibly an auction where the extra money is donated to charity.

What are your thoughts on this?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Proverbs Prophecy

I found a surprise in Proverbs today. A prophecy!

Proverbs 11:30 "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,.."

According to Revelation 2:7, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."

Now, the first time I read this verse (and probably the second and third times too!), I read it in such a way that the righteous will produce fruit that will be like a tree of life for others.

I realized it actually makes more sense to read the verse the other way around: The righteous will eat of the fruit of the tree of life. That which was once forbidden after eating from the other tree will one day be a reward!! That's pretty amazing.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There are no children here today.
Noah got dropped off at Gramma Sue's this morning and the others aren't coming home until Thursday evening.
But I still find myself looking at the clock, thinking I have only about an hour left till naptime's over, thinking I need to shut the door quietly, wondering if I really should start this or that task.
Oh yeah...
There are no children here today.

I miss them...

Thwarted again

I was reading Esther today.
I continue to find it interesting the number of times the Jews are nearly wiped out in the Bible. Satan securing power for himself.
I wonder if he was surprised when the Promised One did not come through Queen Esther. Maybe he thought it was the perfect set-up. A king and queen, the queen a beautiful and courageous girl with her heart set on following the Lord.
Haman's plot was conjured and set in place. All Jews were to be killed at the end of the year.
But because God knows all things and Satan does not, His people were saved. Through a woman's courageous act and obedient heart.

Monday, July 28, 2008

my child, the stroller

When was the last time you stopped to admire the tufts of grass - okay, weeds - growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk? I got to experience this treat on my walk with Noah this morning. A rare pleasure - Sam and Caleb are in Kansas with Papa George and Grandma Sarah... Noah lasted in his stroller for about 5 minutes before he wanted to get out and push it himself. His favorite thing is to tip the stroller up on the back wheels and run with it, crying "WHEEE!!" But every few seconds, he would stop and look. At the duck on the pond, at the weeds in the sidewalk, at the stick in the grass. Any sound would also stop him in his tracks. "Ay-pane!" "Bug!" "Oooahhooo!" (Police siren). Then he'd look at me for verification. "Yep, a plane!" "Do you hear bugs in the woods?" "Oh, do you hear the police siren?" To which he'd respond, "Yah!" It hit me that I needed to go as slowly as he wanted because he was doing something that few take the time for. He was enjoying God's creation. He found interest and wonder in things I typically zip right by because we need to "get to the park".
So my new goal is this: So often our many frustrations with our children come out when we're going somewhere, or trying to. I am going to attempt to make the getting there more fun than the "there". Then maybe my children will learn to appreciate the little things and not always be in a hurry to get to the next place or activity.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fun, fun, fun

Sam and Caleb are spending the next 2 days at Gramma Sue's. This morning, during the prayer before breakfast, Sam prayed, "Please help Momma and Daddy to have a fun time while we're gone." I thought this was pretty perceptive for a 5-year-old. Or maybe he just couldn't imagine how we could possibly have fun when they weren't here. Thus the prayer.

We are going to Valleyfair tomorrow just the 2 of us!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Please do not confuse the new red letters in my blog with the red letters in your Bible. Thank you. I do not claim to be Jesus, only to want to be like Him.
Also, please don't criticize my spelling of my made-up word in the Title of this blog post. Thank you.

Before you see Spot run.

How to teach your child to read - the basic beginning steps:

1) Read to your child. The more expression, the better. Pretend like you're auditioning for a play or something. Be creative with different voices and let yourself get silly.

2) Teach your child the alphabet song. Eventually, make sure they know they're singing about individual letters (so they don't think that eminemopee is some animal with lots of legs).

3) Introduce them to the capital letters with all kinds of games. Alphabet blocks. Books. Making the letters out of legos or cars. Or even on a larger sheet of paper, an outline of the letter that the cars can follow. Make sure they're repeating the letter as they do this. We did gigantic alphabet flashcards - which I just made out of white construction paper, putting a different letter on each one. We made patterns on the floor with these letter cards and then I'd quiz them by having them walk to the letter I called out. At the beginning, I worked with only 4 or 5 different letters at a time until they learned them, and then added more.

4) Once they know all the capital letters and are able to readily identify them, you can move on to sounds of consonants and common sounds of vowels. Very informal. Just start listing items in the room and ask your child to come up with what letter it starts with. Point out that many alphabet letter names start with the same sound they make. Once they get to this step, they can spell the first letter of pretty much any word, and this is pretty exciting for them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Do you get my point? (I hope not)

The NEW point system:

So we just instituted this like, 1 hour ago.

We read the boys a Bible chapter each night out of their kids Bible. It has a few questions at the end of the chapter, and they take turns answering them. If they get the answer right, they get one point. If one of the kids says "I don't know", the question gets bounced to the other and they get a point if they answer correctly.

Next, the verses. If they say the verse without help AND are able to give a short summary of what it means (this has been previously discussed with them on other nights), they get a point.

If at any time, their behavior becomes disrespectful or obnoxious, especially prone to happen during the prayer time, they lose a point (or two or three...).

Tonight, Caleb earned 2 points and Sam earned 3.

Once they get to 30, they will get a special reward - a new book (Bible-based) or something else designed to promote spiritual growth. Hmmm....a new wooden spoon?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It doesn't measure up

Sam and Caleb have been playing a lot in the woods at the back of our house lately. A lot. Part of the reason I'm sure is that this is the only place they're allowed to play with sticks.
Tonight, we were all out in the backyard and Caleb and Sam were in the woods. Were. Caleb was heading toward us crying, Sam having poked him in the corner of his eye with a stick. Not a serious injury, and not purposeful either. Sam claimed "accident". I sternly told him how important it was that he stay well away from Caleb when he's playing with the stick. He said (very innocently, and also like he knew what he was talking about) that he "was like, 2 feet away from Caleb!" Brian then asked him how long the stick was. "4 feet." was his matter-of-fact response.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hide it!

Our Scripture memory program has fallen by the wayside this summer. Tonight Caleb reminded us to do verses before bed, and so we got out our verse sheet and quizzed them on one of the very first verses they learned, Proverbs 3:5-6. I again realized how important it is that we talk about what they're reciting and not just concentrate on the memorization part. This is actually a great starting point to teach children how to study the Bible. We talked through each part of the verse and made sure they understood the meaning of each phrase, and then we had them recite it one more time.
A brief outline with possible questions:
"Trust in the Lord" What does it mean to trust?
"with all your heart" Sam said this meant to always try your very best.
"and do not lean on your own understanding" This one got an elaborate story from Mom about how sometimes your own understanding can make a lot more sense than trusting in God. A poor man gives away his last loaf of bread to another who has nothing, even though he'll have to go without dinner. Later that day, dinner is brought over from one of his neighbors unexpectedly. God sees the whole picture. Don't believe that what you see is the whole truth. Trust God's truth.
"In all your ways, acknowledge Him" In everything you do, glorify God. Do everything with a servant's heart as working for Jesus.
"And He will make your path straight." Depending on what version you use, the wording here could be a bit different. Some say, "And He will direct your paths." We first asked what they thought that meant. Even if you think your child has no idea, this is always a great way to give them a chance to think it out for themselves. We talked about the promise of heaven to those who follow God's way. Also, when you choose to do God's will and not your own, it is easier to hear His voice directing you in other ways. Your heart is soft to His leading.
Obviously, we try to stick with age-appropriate explanations, but we're usually surprised with how much they grasp, especially Sam, whose spiritual eyes have started to open.
Here's a list of some verses we started with. I think there could be no end to the verse studies we could do even with this small list. The more they are aware of the verses and what the verses mean, the more they will start using the Word to govern their decisions. Like, should I take the biggest cookie, or should I leave it for my brother? Sick and tired of reading that bedtime book they always pick over and over and over? Try some Scripture. It never gets old!
(I really didn't mean for that to come off as a commercial!)

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.”

Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

Psalm 119:11 “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Psalm 34:14 “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.”

Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world...”

Psalm 18:2 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just add water

It rained today.

It was much-needed, the grass was brown and crunchy and not very pretty or nice to walk on.

When I make a spiritual connection with someone and spend meaningful time with a friend, it has the same effects on my spirit as the rain does on the grass.

I've noticed that when I go too long without this refreshment of spiritual connection, I'm "not very pretty or nice to walk on" either. I tend toward being a little prickly. Better wear your shoes.

Such moments with friends help my spirit to get soft again. (It was much needed)

God has most definitely designed us to be dependent on Him, but also to receive a drink from a fellow traveller now and then.

Whether you're giving or receiving today, remember God's amazing grace and freely give or gratefully and humbly receive His LIVING water. By the way, He has no water restrictions.

"I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." Mark 9:41

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

There's no place like home!

I want to write this down while I feel it - I know it in my head, but I don't always feel this way:

I am so blessed to be able to stay home with my boys!

There, now, I need to note the date and read this post frequently.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Why is the sidewalk blue?

2 hours after taking a spill on his bike, Sam is smiling. Believe me when I say the picture doesn't do his injuries justice. His lips are both swollen - think Simpsons - and the skin under his nose is all scraped off. His front 2 teeth are a bit loose, and you know that little piece of skin that connects your upper lip to the top of your gums? Ripped right through that too.
At dinner tonight he shared another detail of his fall, telling us that after he fell, the sidewalk was all blue and when he got up to walk to mama, it was hard to see.
Yep, he was wearing a helmet.
He was on the sidewalk.
He did not hit anything.
He was, however, experimenting with turning the handles sharply first one way, then the other.
Yes, I was right behind him. Or pretty much.
There's all my disclaimers in case you were wondering.
Caleb was very helpful. Thankfully we were only about a block away from home. I stuffed some tissues in Sam's mouth and then had Caleb ride his bike all the way home and run back to help with Sam's bike - which he wasn't able to ride.
The boys had a relaxing late morning sitting in the shade and sucking on ice chips together.
And he says he wants a motorcycle!!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chalk full of fun

Fun with sidewalk chalk:

* Make shapes close in proximity to each other and write letters or numbers in them. Player must jump to the shape that shows the letter or number you called.

* Make a maze for the trike or scooter to follow. Stay on the line!

* Walk the maze.

* Hop the maze.

* Crawl get the idea.

* Make a giant musical staff and have the player jump to the correct line or space as you call out letters from the musical alphabet.

* Be ready with a rag to wipe out the mouth of your 1-year-old when he discovers that the blue chalk is the yummiest!

* Outline a picture and then have the kids color it in.

* Quiz them on their shapes and have them draw some.

* Take turns drawing animals and guessing what they are.

* Make parking spots for all the ride-on toys.

* Write each kid's name on the ground and then call out names and watch them all rush to stand on the correct one.

* Also works with words. Write simple words for your beginning reader and call out different words for them to stand on.

* Write action words like "Hop", "Clap" "Stomp", "Jump", along a squiggly line, and have them obey the actions as they go through.

* With two children playing, draw a clock. Have one be the minute hand and one be the hour. Call out different times for them to make.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Scrambled Eggs

A conversation at dinner:

Sam: "What's this white part around the egg called?"
Mom: "The white. It's part of the egg."
Sam: "No it's not! This yellow part is the egg. What's the white part called?"
Mom: "It's all egg, Sam."
Sam: "No!" (Add a lot of inflection) "Then this is the egg and what's the yellow part then?"
Mom: "That's called the yolk, but it's still part of the egg."
Sam: "No it's not."
Mom: "Sam, yes it is."
Sam: "Well if this is egg," pointing to the yellow part, "then this can't be egg too."
Mom: "Yep, the WHOLE THING is an EGG!"
Sam: "NO!!"
Mom: "YES IT IS!!"
Sam: "No it's not!"
Mom: "Sam, your fingers and your head are all part of you, right? But they have different names."
Sam: "No my head is my HEAD. My fingers are part of my BODY! So you're wrong!! See, this white part is different, so it can't be an egg too."
Mom: "Yes, Sam. Who do you think knows more about this, you or me?"
Sam: "You. But it's NOT all egg!!"
Dad: "Just because it's not the same color doesn't mean it's not part of the same thing. Is the outside of your body the same color as the inside of your body? No, what color is your mouth inside? Red, right? Well, your body's not red, it's flesh color. But it's all part of you."
Sam: "Yeah."
And nothing more was said.
Sometimes it takes all of 2 people's patience to deal with this 5-year-old.

Another boy

I don't know if I've shared yet that we have a new addition to our family! His name is Tamirat, and he lives in Ethiopia. Sam chose to sponsor him through World Vision when he (Sam) attended a David Phelps concert a few months ago. Sadly, we're just now getting around to sending him photos and a letter. I was asking the boys what their favorite color was, what they liked to do, what some of their favorite things were, and I was getting responses like, "I like to play with Blue Bear!", "I have lots of toys! Do you?", and "I play pirates all day!"

So I had to gently guide them to some more appropriate answers. Something ten-year-old Tamirat would actually understand. Pirates?

They each drew him a picture. Caleb drew a magic whale, and Sam drew a colorful tapestry of different shapes, along with a picture of himself.

They're really excited to understand more about Ethiopia, especially the government's involvement in what people believe. Things like that are hard to explain to a 5 and 3-year-old!
But I have hopes that I'm expanding their world-view. It needs expanding greatly!!

Okay, how many of you clicked on the blog post expecting a different announcement?

Friday, July 4, 2008

I pledge allegiance....

Oh say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Who's broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O`er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming
And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O`er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We all recognize these as the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner", which will be sung at many, many fireworks displays and other venues tonight.

How many people will sing this lustily and even get teary-eyed, and yet these same people are afraid to show emotion while singing "Amazing Grace"? And I'm not talking about non-believers.

I tend to feel that such allegiance and devotion belongs only to my Lord anyway.

Kind of like Santa Claus and Christmas.

The flag and the cross.

What has done the most for our country anyway? Really?

The flag just happens to be a tangible and non-controversial symbol of that same devotion (toward different objects).

Many have lived and died for this country and all it stands for.

Many are not afraid to join the leagues of fighting men and women who are daily deployed to fight for what this country stands for.


I'm afraid to show my neighbor Jesus.

Where's your allegiance? And mine.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The story of Turtle and Giraffe

Listening to a conversation between Sam and Caleb in the car tonight:
(They had brought along a giraffe and a turtle - some new toys from Miss Leah)

Caleb: "Turtle, what did you do with your birthday money?"
Sam: "I spent it on sand spots."
Sam: "Giraffe! Did you get a lot of birthday money?"
Caleb: "Yeah, but I threw it away because I was too old because I became a daddy."
Sam: "Well, do you buy things at the store?"
Caleb: "Yeah."
Sam: "Then what do you use for money if you threw it all away?"
Caleb: "Different stuff."
Sam: "You're not an old daddy."
Caleb: "Yes I am."
Sam: "No you're not! Giraffe, you're an old woman rocking in a rocking chair and crying because you're going to die!"
Caleb: "No, I'm an old daddy. A very very old daddy. I'm five!"
Sam: "That's not old!"
Caleb: "Yes it is!"
Noah: "Heh, heh, heh!!" (Deep-throated chuckle)
Sam: "You're one million!"
Sam: "Giraffe, look out the window, quick! I see Wendy, and John and Michael."
Noah: "Heh, heh, heh!!"
Sam: "Giraffe!"
Sam: "Giraffe!"
Sam: "Caleb!"
Caleb: "What?"
Sam: "Get giraffe for me."
Caleb: "I can't. He's dead in his cave."
Sam: "Well, my turtle's Jesus and he's going to resurrect him from the dead."
Caleb: "No, he's dead `cause he's very very old."
Sam: "So? Jesus can heal him."

This is about all the conversation I can recall. Food for thought.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The best seat in the house

I was rearranging things on the entryway wall to make room for our large framed picture of the boys we recently got back from Flash Photography. One of the things I moved was a cross with the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace" written on it's surface. As I was positioning it to be hung on its new wall, I noticed that it would now be hanging above the "naughty chair"! Well, I hope that will be a good reminder, both for me and for the kids, that God's grace is great and mine should be too!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

To market, to market...

I had to go grocery shopping today with the boys. I was determined not to get angry at them, especially since they were well on their way to full-blown obnoxious as we were heading out the door.
Several things were helpful:
I gave them each items to be on the lookout for.
I bribed them with promises of the free cookie at the end of the trip if they were good.
Spoiler: The only one that got a cookie was Noah.

Here we have the trip divided into two obvious categories:

The bad - By the time we were halfway down the first aisle, they were already starting to pick things up and ask if we could get them.
The good - for the first three aisles the bribe of the cookie actually worked.
The bad - Sam squatted down and growled at a mother with a two-year-old and a newborn as she tried and failed to slip past us.
The good - Noah was happily gazing at all the different kinds of crackers and saying "gack-ah".
The bad - Sam would swing around with his arms outstretched and nearly belted a poor woman (not the same one, thank goodness!).
The good - When Noah got his cookie, we still had about 10 minutes of shopping to do, but he was content and kept saying ""
The bad - By aisle four, Sam and Caleb both lost their cookies for continued ignoring of rules such as "Don't push the cart until I'm ready" and "No running in the aisles!"
The good - uh....
The bad - Caleb shrieked "Don't leave me!!" twice when I was merely going a bit further down the aisle as he was getting some cereal.
The good - oh yeah, when it came time to check out, the boys were anxious to help in putting the food on the belt and then bagging it for me. We actually got quite a system going. Sam would get the can off the belt, hand it to Caleb, then hand it to Mom. Meanwhile, Noah was busy getting every cookie crumb into his mouth off his fingers.
The bad - the food we so carefully put on the belt, with the heavy stuff in front and the "squishables" in back was squished anyway when the boys found that red button at the end and pushed it until EVERYTHING was within arms reach. Now we just have to stick a straw through the banana peel and suck it out.
The good - we finally arrived home, Sam and Caleb decided they didn't want to play outside, I was free to make lunch, and now they're all asleep.