Friday, January 31, 2014

What Does Your Favorite Bible Story Say About You?

My two oldest children usually get along very well. They play well together, and they prefer to be together rather than apart. Elijah (age 6) and Chastity (age 4) play better together than any mommy could ever hope. They are not perfect. They still sometimes argue, but it never gets out of hand.

One of the factors in this, I believe, is that they are very different. They often times will be playing the same thing together, but they will be doing it differently. It's quite amazing to watch.

Elijah, my first born, is cautious and careful. He is very deliberate about all that he does. He's mindful of his actions, and remembers to pray for things even when I do not. He feels strength in numbers and comfort in having someone with him at all times. He still takes his sister with him to the bathroom even, where they will talk about books or movies while he's stinking up the house.

Chastity is independent. She doesn't mind company, but doesn't always require it. She is my little girl who likes to do big things, always behaving in ways much older than her age. She does not like to be told to be careful, or that she's too young or little to do something. Her response is almost always, "I can do it." or "I won't get hurt." She will pray, and she loves Jesus, but she doesn't like to be told when to do so. She's more about action, less about thought.

Today, I was doing some research for Easter basket gifts. I am trying to have an all handmade Easter this year, so I'm placing orders early and even working out craft trades with fellow crafty ladies who make things I cannot. I stumbled across a woman who makes hand painted, wooden peg dolls HERE, and she is so talented! I thought a fun and engaging way to teach Bible lessons with the kids would be to have some of these wooden figures painted is biblical characters, but I was really torn as to which ones to order...first, because I can't afford them all at once. ;-) Instead of stressing about it myself, I asked each child, separately, "What is your favorite Bible story?"

They answered without hesitation.

Elijah: Daniel and the lions!
Chastity: David and Goliath!


My quiet, mindful, prayerful son, who desires to be obedient, and who finds comfort in knowing God is with him, loves how Daniel was protected in the lion's den just for being obedient to the Lord.

My independent, adventurous daughter, who loves to take action rather than sit and wait, and who wants to do and be used for big things, loves how little David took action and was protected from a giant.

So I took a minute to think about my all time favorite story in the Bible. It was tough to decide, but I narrowed it down to two: Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers, and Jonah and the whale. In one story people Joseph loved and trusted sold him out of jealousy, BUT God protected him and used it for his and even his brother's ultimate good, saving them from starvation. In the other, Jonah refused to listen to God and thought he could run away. Once tossed from the ship, and expecting to die, God allowed a horrible thing (being swallowed by a whale) to happen to Jonah, to prevent certain drowning, but spared his life and had the whale spit him back out on dry land to continue doing what God had asked him to do in the first place.

In both stories there is the hope for second chances. Joseph didn't do anything wrong, but his horrible circumstances led him and his family to a better life. God not only saw him through it, but brought them all out of it stronger and brought the family back together in forgiveness which only comes from the Lord. Jonah was disobedient, and rebelliously decided he wasn't going to listen to God. It was a mistake, and God still saved his life, and allowed him to repent.

I have always been a firm believer in second chances. I believe some things have happened to me because I was being disobedient, and others because, though they were difficult at the time, they were and still are, leading me to something better. These stories give me hope, just as Daniel and David give Elijah and Chastity each hope.

Maybe their favorites will change still, and maybe mine will too, but I am enjoying watching them grow, and growing along with them in the Word of our Lord.

What Bible story or character gives you hope? If your kids are old enough, have this conversation with them as well. I think they understand things better than we realize.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Making 14 Better Than 13

13 is my favorite number, and I always just assumed 2013 was going to be my favorite year. It wasn't, and mostly I only have myself to blame for that, so I have been collecting (in my brain) ways to make 2014 better than 2013, and thought, maybe my list could even help my readers!

1. Play with my kids MORE - I sometimes have to really motivate myself to get in the right frame of mind to play with my kids. I am with them all the time, but most days, I find I am only doing the necessary things, so really, I'm only keeping them alive and educated. Playing with them takes energy and patience and many things I run short on, but I have never regretted neglecting the cleaning to play with them, not ever. I have, on the other hand, regretted ignoring them to troll the internet, clean, crochet, or cook, but never have I ever regretted a moment spent on the floor, covered with toys, cuddles, and giggles. More of this is a requirement.

2. Spend less time on social media - There are many reasons for this. The above resolution being the most important, but also, I've discovered something. The internet wants us all to hate each other. I have read countless articles about what not to say to whom when they're going through any struggle from being a stay at home vs working mom, to miscarriages and infertility to single vs married friends, and it seems that every list out there really, desperately wants us to be offended by everything anyone says to us about anything...ever. Listen, as if we need any help at all misinterpreting someone's typed out words with no inflection or facial expressions with which to gauge them by, the internet is coaching us on how to be offended by everything they say! Seriously, there are very few, very few people out there who are actually seeking to offend, and I imagine most of us don't have friends like that in our circles, so no one is out to get us. And this brings me to...

3. Stop worrying about others' opinions - I actually don't get offended very easily and I enjoy hearing differing opinions, but I do tend to allow these opinions to consume my thoughts and take over my day from time to time. It's not just that someone's opinions differ from mine. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me and takes up space in my brain is how my differing opinion could have/might have/probably did offend them in some way. I am a chronic apologize-r. I tell people I'm sorry even when they were the ones who hurt me in some way. But I've learned a few things.
     a. I cannot control how my opinions or beliefs make someone else feel, no matter how diplomatic, kind, or loving I express them.
     b. I can, however, control how I allow them to make me feel. I don't have to be sorry all the time. I can be ok with being myself and stop worrying about those who are not ok with that (even if social media dictates that everything I've ever said to them should be viewed as offensive).

4. Angry less = Happy more - Contrary to popular belief. This can be controlled. If I stop allowing #s 2 and 3 to bother me and do more of #1, it stands to reason that # 4 is completely and utterly achievable. I find my children much less irritating when I am playing with them than when I am trying desperately and unsuccessfully to get some things done. Those things can almost always wait. Areas of my house were a disaster when we had guests over here for New Year's Day, and though they may have gone home and talked about my mess after leaving, everyone here still had a good time and ate some good food. And thanks to #3, I do not have to worry about their possible opinions on my cleanliness. :)

5. Take better care of myself - Aside from #s 1-4 helping in this department, I also need to spend more time in God's Word, and not just to get it done. I need to find time to exercise, even if it means getting up before the sun and finding the money to pay for decent running shoes. I need to make doctor's appointments for myself; see everyone from the family practitioner to the dentist regularly. And last, but certainly not least, I need to allow for time and money for regular hair cuts. I like long hair, but it's been nearly 2 years since I've seen a trim, and I get a little crazy and want to chop it myself when that happens, so this must get taken care of...soon!

Last but not at all least!!!!
6. Spend more REAL time with my husband - We get caught up in the exhaustion and have days when the only time we spend together is in front of the TV, and me with crochet hook in hand. That is nice and relaxing, but shouldn't be our daily norm, and it has been. The days when we've had guests, and had to clean up together after the kids go to bed are the most treasured times we've had all year, because the TV isn't on, and we're both in the kitchen, washing and drying and wiping things down. And we we haven't talked in months (probably because we really haven't, at least not about anything important). And in spite of the fact that we're cleaning, and our hopes and dreams now revolve around our children, it feels like we're dating again. Most days we do not clean together, because most days the mess isn't that big, so this happens rarely, and usually only before and after a party, but I hope to do much more cleaning with my husband in 2014. ;-) After all, he is never more attractive than when he is cleaning something. Seriously, he took it upon himself to clean and organize our small storage closet on New Year's Day, and I just couldn't take my eyes off of him the rest of the day! Mmm! You know I'm right, ladies! 

I hope I've given you some things to think about, and maybe you even have some you can add that would be beneficial to me as well! Thanks for listening. Thanks for being my metaphorical ear to bend, and I hope you'll stick around for more of my future writings. Happy New Year!