Sunday, August 31, 2008

Kingdom Prayer

Lord, we're broken, broken-hearted, tired of going our own way.
We've been proud and self-sufficient, but we're broken here today.
Lord, we need Your power within us, for we have none of our own.
Take this broken heart and mend it with Thy power, and Thine alone.

Lord, we're mourning, mourning children, mourning o`er the sins inside.
For they're always right before us, much too great for us to hide.
Lord we need Your power within us for we have none of our own,
Take this mourning heart and comfort with Thy power and Thine alone.

Lord, we hunger and we thirst for righteousness that's not our own,
For we see our selfish motives; we need you to take Your throne.
Lord, we need Your power within us for we have none of our own.
Take this hungry heart and fill it with Thy power and Thine alone.
Lord make us Your kingdom people, for we're nothing on our own.

Do Your will and bring Your kingdom,
Fill our hearts, and take Your throne.

*Words/Music by Dan Adler
From his "Heart of the City" worship CD

Sunday service

The announcements at church this morning caught my attention when "service opportunities" were mentioned. I've been thinking a lot about how I want to be involved in serving at a homeless shelter or something of the sort.
But the service opportunities were all within the church - you know, extra help for the nursery, check out this new program or that new group.
What about the service opportunities outside the church? The "least of these"?
Those weren't mentioned.
Our pastor then proceeded to preach a message on service opportunities - nothing specific, just how we need to always be ready for God to shake us up a bit and to embrace the changes and opportunities this brings.
At the end of his message, the congregation was invited to donate to the benevolent fund - money which goes to help those in need in the congregation and out. I'm not sure if he meant this as a tie-in to his message or not.
I think that part of the church's responsibility should be to point the congregation toward real live service opportunities - OUTSIDE the church - maybe even as part of the announcements. Some people - like me, for instance - would just love to help out if I was just shown "here" "do this". Rather than having to search this out on my own. Maybe this is spiritual laziness, but I still think that the church is missing the boat in many cases with this issue. Focusing too much on the inner needs of the church (and I'm not denying these are real) and not much, or at all, on ministries outside the church. And not just, "so and so is involved in the such-and-such ministry - here are some pictures". But, "These people could really use some extra help organizing clothing, or serving meals, etc. Why don't you sign up?" The church needs to be the encourager here for the body of believers to get involved in a community that has become the "church community" and no farther than that.
And when believers experience the joy of service to others who are lost and who we are able to show Jesus to, I believe it provides the rejuvenation, refreshment, and unquenchable joy needed to fulfill the other responsibilities of the church, like teaching a Sunday School class or rocking babies. Like turbo power or something when you're playing a video game - you start radiating the turbo light and suddenly you can go faster, jump higher, resist all injury.
The pastor talked about how when you serve in the capacity that the Lord has designed you for, you will find yourself in a place of happiness and complete joy that you haven't fully experienced before.
Christian turbo power. The Holy Spirit Glow.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Never alone

Sam once again told me that I didn't have to wait for the bus with him today. He could do it all by himself. I explained that I had no doubt he'd be able to do it alone, but that it was a matter of safety.
"I don't want you standing on the corner all by yourself." I told him.

"I won't be alone. God will be with me. That's what the Bible says. Right, Mom?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eye exam

I enjoy People. The magazine. Glossy gossip and all.

Had to go.

I had the headlines of stories from magazine on my homepage, and maybe I'm weak, but when I see headlines that interest me - in a good or bad way - I cannot help clicking on them.

So they had to go. I actually clicked and closed those headlines yesterday.

I don't need to be reading about Ellen and Portia's wedding and L. Lohan and lover. And this is just the obvious garbage. Bottom line - there is nothing edifying about any of the headlines in People. If it is truly newsworthy, I'll see it on my CNN headlines.

Made me realize that Satan is using mediums such as this to just get us used to the garbage in a nice, glossy, comfortable way. How long will it be before Christians are acclimated to gay and lesbian weddings, and decide, hey it's not so bad - they love each other after all. It is subtle, but I believe that this is how it happens - through seemingly innocent reading curiosity.

"Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word." Psalm 119:37

"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light." Matthew 6:22

It hit me that a woman's eyes are more readily drawn to gossipy types of garbage, as a man's eyes are drawn to a Victoria's Secret display window.

Monday, August 25, 2008

No nap today!

The innocence of a fresh kindergartener:

"I can't believe it!!! I'm going to school!!" Sam burst out with this several times as the hours drew near for him to board the bus.

As we are waiting (all 5 of us) at the bus stop, Caleb says, "Oh yeah, I need to give you hugs and kisses before you leave!"
Sam responds with, "Not now. Wait till the bus gets here."

"Mama, you can just stay here. I can handle it." Sam said to me as we were eating breakfast and I was telling him how we'd walk with him to the bus stop.

"I don't need a treat after lunch. My snack at school will be my treat."

"Look, I drew a picture of my first day of Kindergarten at school. See, I'm holding an ice cube!"
"Oh!" I say. "What did you do with ice today?"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's in the Genes

Sam saw a picture of the Statue of Liberty the other day.

"Daddy, why is she holding an ice cream cone?"

Friday, August 22, 2008


So, here's something to think about. Do electronics praise God? Don't stop reading, I'm not about to start a debate on video games here. I was wondering though, while mindlessly listening to the radio the other day, if when I'm not engaged in worship when the radio is playing, is it just noise? Or does God still receive this as praise? I know he receives praise from the hearts of those who praise Him, like when recording artists are singing for real, but what about the CD's and the radio and such? And I know He is praised when I am praising in my heart as I listen and am caused to praise Him, but what about when I'm not engaged? Are the songs still considered praise to God when it's not real, per se?

Just a bit of a random thought to contemplate over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Save the bananas!!

A 10-minute trip to Cub. Perfect length. Especially when each of my 3 children is munching on a free apple. Took about 10 minutes for them to get down to the core. Bless the free apples. BLESS THEM!
The only problem we had was the issue of the red button. You know, the one at the end of the conveyor belt? What kid isn't attracted to that? Too bad, even after many gentle warnings (I was still in my blissful state of not needing to discipline) my food wasn't the only food that got squished. They just go right down the line and push all the red buttons.
And why red anyway?
Usually, a red button is the one you don't want to push at all costs. The one where you wonder, "hmm, I wonder what this does? And you push it, with everyone screaming a silent "NO-o-o-o!!" behind you and running in slow motion. Then everything blows up.
But now they know red buttons as the fun grocery store button that makes the food come closer.


At least they have free apples...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Iron Man

Sam has been choosing healthy cereals lately, scorning Caleb's choice of Strawberry Chex. His reason is practical. He wants to be as strong as Gaston, whom he recently came to know after watching "Beauty and the Beast".
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 18, 2008

Camping with the stars

Things I learned while camping:

1. If you're a woman who does not pee in the woods, the bathrooms are always far, no matter how close to the campsite they actually are. Especially at night.

2. I WILL hear wild animals when I get up to go to the bathroom and it's dark, even if there are none in that particular area.

3. Contrary to popular thought, my children are not tired enough to conk out from all the fun right when they go in the tent no matter how late it is.

4. More than 2 or 3 desserts after meals is always more acceptable while sitting around a bonfire.

5. I can comfortably go a lot longer without a shower when camping than I ever could at home.

6. Food tastes great outside cooked over a fire. If it tasted like that at home, I'd never eat it though.

7. It's possible for kids to be too loud, even outside.

8. My children are capable of falling over everything. And they did, believe me.

9. When little kids are the same size, they tend to think they're the same age too.

10. Sleeping in a sleeping bag is like confining yourself inside a gigantic nylon all night long. By choice.

11. My 1 1/2 year-old really doesn't know what a boob is, that's just his word for "tube". Thank goodness!

12. My cleaning compulsion extends to camping.

13. So does my obsessive weed pulling. Do I need to seek help?

14. My 5-year-old does not get embarrassed at anything - even holding a pair of wet undies to dry under a hand dryer in the women's restroom. He could stand there all day. "Yeah, these are my underwear - what's it to ya?"

15. There will always be things that don't get used, but there can never be too many pairs of underwear. I'm talking about the kids here.

16. Chili is better than prunes. (I'll let you put #14-16 together)

17. Apparently my 3-year-old has no shame either, stripping down to all his nakedness as we were about to leave the beach because I told him to dry off.

18. Naps? You've got to be kidding!!

19. My boys love exploring.

20. Camping is exhausting! Even if you don't do all that much.

21. I'd actually do this again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yep, That's Me

No thanks, I'm just looking...

How do you deal with the child who casually looks down the tops of the female mannequins in the department stores?

What do you say to the child who asks if the gas we put in our cars is the same as the gas that comes out of our bottoms?

What do you do with a child who vehemently argues that you did not tell him not to blow on the whistle again, only not to do it loudly - and then realize he's right.

My Caleb.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A wretch like me??

God's grace has been shown to me lately in 2 very different scenarios.

1. Our neighbor recently lost her brother in a car accident. She came over and told me about it and asked me to pray for her. I realized that God's grace washes over me when I am used by Him even in this small capacity.

2. Today, 3 strangers stopped and helped me when I hit a large hubcap from a truck dropping tires. One, a woman, actually went back to her home and got her cell phone so that I could make some calls. The others worked to get my spare on - a task that, due to the state of my front wheel, took about a half hour. The woman stayed with me until I had things under control and was about to leave with my police escort. There is no reason for me to believe that these people are followers of Christ (other than this kindness), but God used them to show me His grace in another way. I was left overwhelmed by gratitude and speechless with the desire to do something for them in return.

This just amazes me. And reminds me how much I am loved by God.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Start `em young

Good things to start at a young age:

Global awareness - there are people of other nationalities in the world. Tonight, while watching the Olympics, Sam pointed to a member of China's gymnastics team and asked if he sold Chinese food.

Potty training - Some kids really won't just automatically ditch the diaper.

Reading of Scripture - from the real Bible! The other night, we were reading from Mama and Daddy's Bible, a well-known story for the boys of David and Goliath, and Sam said very skeptically, "Did that really happen?" I guess the description of Goliath according to Scripture is more impressive than in their children's Bible story book.

Cleaning up - kid's can help with the never-ending chores, and the good thing is that they like it a whole lot more than you do!

Saying "please" and "thank you" and "sorry" - even Noah, who is 19 months, is starting to use these words unprompted. Drill it into them.

Adults are to be respected - we have taught this in little ways, like having them call most adults "Mr." or "Mrs." and by not allowing for certain obnoxious behavior and ways of talking to adults

Talking respectfully to their siblings - this is something I've been lax about for awhile and have recently tried to crack down on. Sometimes the "work it out" approach is great, but some things just should not be allowed to be said to a sibling. Or said in that tone.

Enjoying God - and enjoying worshipping Him. Not just a required prayer before meals and bedtime, but a teaching of worship that is very personal. Like teaching them to close their eyes and think about how wonderful God is while singing a well-known worship song. Or dancing in worship. The other night, we did "Jesus, you are____" for our prayer time, rather than the typical "Please help..."

Any other good things we should teach early?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Camp cook

So in a week and a half, we're headed off into the woods for a weekend of camping. Anyone want to share a list of must-have camping equipment? Especially in the area of cooking utensils? How about a good camping breakfast or dinner recipe?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Not flaming, just a little toasty on the pants

So, do your kids ever lie? We've tried to treat lying as a serious offense around here. Lying gets a punishment reserved for pretty much only lying.
But should every untruth coming from your child's mouth be treated the same way?
I had a situation with Sam today where we were all outside and he and Caleb were riding bikes and having a good old time. No fighting, no problems at all. Caleb rode up to me and asked, "Why did Sam get a spanking?" "Huh?" I was confused. "Sam didn't get a spanking." Being 3, he actually tries to contradict me in this, "Uh huh! He said!" And sure enough, Sam had casually told Caleb that he'd gotten a spanking - don't ask me why, I have no idea - and then when Caleb told him that "Mama said you did NOT get a spanking!" he rode off singing, "Yes I did, yes I did, yes I did!" For this he got called off his bike and was made to sit on the front step for awhile - this is not our usual punishment.
Now, Sam most definitely knows what a lie is, but sometimes he's a little confused with teasing versus lying. He'll claim, "But I was just teasing." This in situations when he obviously is being deceptive.
I'm a little at a loss to how seriously all untruths should be taken.
On the one hand, I want to really send the message home that no lying will be tolerated, thought funny, or be called by different names.
On the other hand, there is the love of a little boy to tell fantastical tales of woe and gore.
I've started making them aware that there is a distinction between pretending and setting out to deceive someone. In pretending, everyone is in the light. In deceiving, someone is being led to think something else, and this is not honoring to God in any way.
So, any other suggestions?
Any situations you've run across in this department that you didn't quite know what to do with?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

And then!! Part 2

We allowed the boys to jump to different parts in the story at will, as long as they remained in chronological order. For instance, Darius made a new law...then Daniel was thrown to the lions. We didn't make them hit every single detail.
This could even work as a broad overview of Scripture, naming stories and then seeing who can name a story that comes after that one.

And then!!

The Bible Story Game:

One person starts the story with one sentence.
The next person adds the next sentence to the story.
And so on.

Great way to see how much of those Bible stories your kids are actually absorbing.

Make sure they understand that they need to remain true to the biblical text though.
We were making our way through Daniel and the lions at brunch today and when it was Caleb's turn to add something, he said, "And then the lions ate Daniel all up!"

If little boys got their hands on the Bible:
The big fish would have chewed Jonah up with its long fangs before spitting him out on the beach.

Goliath would have made David into a shishkabob.

Job's problems would have ended quickly with the attack of Leviathon, who would have carried Job off to his cave and ate him limb by limb.

A wild lion would have come out of the woods and eaten Cain after he killed Abel.

Wolves would have taken over the ark and locked Noah and his family in a dark room where they could only hear the howling for the voyage.

Maybe this is just sinful nature responding to sinful nature, but the boys seem to be drawn to the evil characters more than even the heroic characters in the Bible. Maybe this is something that'll go away when the Holy Spirit gets ahold of `em?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Home again, home again...

Well, all the boys are back under one roof.

Noah was very distraught, not crying, just very serious, refusing to look at me when I picked him up yesterday evening. He would just gaze at me very seriously when I wasn't looking at him and then look away when I did look. And he wouldn't respond to anything I asked and wouldn't even accept food from me for awhile (I was trying to share the cheese from my french onion soup - we were at Friday's).
By the time we got in the van to go home, he'd done a complete turnaround and was almost giddy with joy. When we got home, we called Daddy on the cell as he was en route to home after picking up the other two from Des Moines, and Noah was sitting on my lap cuddling almost frantically with me. Like a cat purring and rubbing up against an owner that's been gone for several days. He was reaching up and stroking my hair and rubbing his head against me and smiling. When I rocked him before bed, he held on tightly and kept trying to climb up closer to my face. He wanted his face pressed against mine.

Maybe just one night away for him from now on until he can understand that I'm coming back and when.

On the other hand, Sam and Caleb had a wonderful time in Kansas and I think they could have stayed another month and not been bothered. Even when we talked on the phone, they would say a few sentences and then want to get on with their day. They said they were glad to be home though, and they especially missed Noah. He was pretty happy to see them too!