Feb 21, 2014

Flashlight Stories

What is it about kids and their LOVE of flashlights? You can take a normal activity that you do with your kiddos, add a flashlight to the mix, and BAM, it's an automatic hit!

Case in point - I like to read bedtime stories to my nieces and nephews when they're over for the night. My sister and her family came to visit us and stayed for about a week. During their visit, I had the idea to turn all the lights off and use a flashlight while reading a bedtime story to my niece. This was an automatic hit and I was asked to read a "flashlight story" every night she was here. How easy is this?

Whatever your bedtime routine is - maybe you sing a special song with your kiddos (I know my sis-in-law, Stacy, has a special song for each of her 5 children that she sings to them every night), maybe you read a book together, maybe you pray together. It doesn't matter what it is, just try it with a flashlight this weekend and let me know what the kiddos think. I bet they'll love it! Remember, it's the LITTLE things that make a BIG difference! Oh, and we don't make any $ for recommending this, but one of our FAVORITE bedtime stories is Nighttime is Just Daytime With Your Eyes Closed by Mark Lowry.

I have a NEW flashlight story idea that I'm going to try out during my next family visit - more on that tomorrow!

Feb 14, 2014

Peculiar Jewel

I've had this post swirling around in my head for a bit and was waiting for the right time to sit down and write/post it. What better day than Valentine's Day!

Let's start with a confession - I have journal envy. That's right - I am so jealous of those of you who take the time every day or once a week to write something sweet in your child's journal. I've had that desire for my children since before I even had children. I remember sitting in the living room of my parent's house with my mom and her friend, Amy. Amy was talking about how she'd kept a journal for her 2 boys since they were tiny - she'd write the funny things they said or did, things that made her proud, thoughts she had - whatever. What an absolute treasure, right? I remember thinking - that is SO awesome! I wish I had a journal like that from my parents (who are the parents of 9 children mind you, HA!). At that time I knew - I am going to steal that idea and have journals for my children.

So...umm...my boys are now 13 (almost 14) and 11. I DO have journals for them. I mean, I have the physical book you can hold in your hands. I DO have a few posts in them - most posts are in January of each year since their birth and pretty much say the same thing - this year I have decided to make it a point to write in your journal at least once a week. They may have a couple posts in there from February, March is highly unlikely, and hey - we have pictures to prove what they did in the summer so I really don't need to journal all of that. Pause - shout out to all of my fellow sanguine personalities!!! We love to jump into things with both feet - we're excited about it, we have great intentions, we do it for a bit, and then we get bored with it, right? Yep, story of my life. So, sadly, my boys don't really have great journals that I will be able to give them when they're 18.

Side note (I'm also a little A.D.D. so just smile and jump with me here) - there are a couple GREAT apps I know of that can help with journaling. There's an app called Posterity (pictured below) - you can create a "book" in their app for each kid and every time your kid says something funny you just type in their quote and it will save it for you, and even date it for you. What a GREAT idea! Also, there's a program that my friend, Angela, shared with me that helps with journaling (Penzu). You can type your journal right online AND you can even set it up to have the program send you email reminders to write in your journal. You'd think those things would help me, sadly...no. 

Ok, so here's where I'm going with all of this. I was reading a few weeks ago and came across this verse. Hebrews 6:10 - "For God is not unrighteous to forget or overlook your labor and the love which you have shown for His name's sake in ministering to the needs of the saints (His own consecrated people), as you still do." So, this gets me to thinking - God does not forget the things we do. Why is that? Well, He must be keeping a journal about us. He must be writing down the things we do that make Him laugh, what we do that makes Him proud, the unique things about us that He absolutely loves. Of course, the verse didn't say anything about a journal, but wait - there's more! 

Around this same time my sister, Dawn, posted a passage on her Facebook page. Here's the passage - Malachi 3:16-17 - "Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worship-fully feared the Lord and who thought on His name. And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him." Ahhh - He DOES write a journal about us. I don't have to be jealous because some of you have journals from your parents - God's got one on me! What?!? Beat that! Not only does He have a journal about me, did you get what He calls me? I'm not just Shari, I'm His jewel! His special possession! His peculiar treasure! :) You know what's great? Jordan and Justin are His special possession and His peculiar treasure too - so He's got a journal on them (so why am I worried about it)! Seriously, how cool is that?

THIS Valentine's Day, I pray that you will know HIS amazing love for you! His thoughts about you! His adoration of you! YOU are His precious jewel! Live like it, speak like it, believe it!!!  He's put some people in your life that can demonstrate His love to you, but they are not the answer -HE is! They will fail you, He will not! They will not fill every single void inside of you, HE will! Happy Valentine's Day - don't forget to make it the best Valentine's Day ever by spending some quality time with your TRUE Valentine!

Feb 10, 2014

I Love You Because...

One of my favorite Valentine traditions that we do with the kids is our Valentine placemats. I made ours with Heritage Makers, but you could really just let the kids decorate some pieces of construction paper (lighter colors would work the best so you can see the writing), laminate them, and do the same thing. I change out our placemats the first of every month - so for the whole month of February these are on the table along with a dry erase marker so we can write different things we love about each family member. Even my teenage son looks forward to reading the things that are written that we love about him. I like it because there are so many things I love about my boys, but I know I'm not the best about telling them all the time. This makes me be intentional about filling up their love tank! :)

Feb 8, 2014

2014's 100 Most Beautiful Women - How to Get Your Name on the List

Do you guys ever find yourselves in the comparison trap? We can compare ourselves to others in so many ways, but as women I think one of the biggest comparison traps we fall into is with our outward appearance.

I took some time to look at the magazine covers from January of this year. Here are some of the article titles - I Lost 172 Pounds, Wrinkle Fighting Snacks, Magic Meals for a Speedy Metabolism, The 5 Day Slimdown, Hot Looks Under $50, 5 Cellulite Fixes That Actually Work, Get To Your Best Weight Ever, 5 Super Skin Fixes From Your Fridge...and the list goes on and on. You're probably familiar with the list of the most beautiful men and women that comes out every year. These messages are all around us, yelling at us, begging for us to pay attention, and I know I'm not the only one who can get caught up in all the hype.

Here's a question - who gets to pick the 100 most beautiful people? And if they really ARE the 100 most beautiful people, why aren't some people on the list that I KNOW should be? I have 5 sisters and 5 sister-in-laws that I am 100% sure should be on that list, yet I don't see their names anywhere. I have an amazing mother and mother-in-law - I don't see their names anywhere? What is the criteria used when these people are trying to decide who should be on this list?

Oh friends, we can get so busy thinking about and putting our time and attention into the wrong things, can't we? I'm sorry, but somebody who has the time and money to botox their face 4 times a year isn't going to make my list. Somebody who's a size 0 doesn't necessarily make the cut. If I'm defining beauty the way God defines beauty, you know who should be on that top 100 list? How about a mom with dark bags under her eyes - she's up all day taking care of her kiddos, and up almost all night cuddling, feeding, loving on and trying to calm a fussy infant? How about a woman who drops in bed completely exhausted at the end of the day because she now finds herself not only taking care of her household, but also taking care of aging parents who truly need her help every day? How about a woman whose husband cheated on her, who went through an awful divorce, but is still using her voice and her life to praise God? How about a woman who walked through the dark valley of losing one of her own precious children, but still has the strength to make sure others know that God is her rock? How about the woman that was sexually abused as a child, but now has the strength, through Christ, to forgive her abuser? How about the woman - the single mom, who works her butt off all day so she can provide for her kids, comes home exhausted, and still makes dinner and plays games with her children because she knows quality time is important? How about the woman who kisses her husband goodbye and willingly takes on the role of a single parent for 9 months or longer while that husband goes overseas to fight for our freedom? How about the woman that ___________ (your story here)? We all have heard the phrase - man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart, right? Haven't we? Do we believe it?

Beloved, God looks at your HEART - that is the true measure of your beauty! Oh, that you would embrace that and believe it! Proverbs 31:30 speaks to this - "Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain (because it is not lasting), but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!" Who shall be praised? A woman who fears the Lord! So, if that is true (and if you believe the Bible, you know that it is), can I ask you something? Are you spending as much time beautifying your heart as you do your face and body? How much time do you devote to working out? How much time does it take you to get ready in the morning? How much time have you spent with God today? Yes, it's convicting - it slapped me across the face! We all need to be working on actively beautifying our HEART! When we do, we will be on God's list of most beautiful women (and I'll take that over a magazine cover ANY day)!

Feb 7, 2014

I Like Warm Hugs

I absolutely LOVE Disney's movie - Frozen. I love the characters, love the story, love the music and especially love Olaf! I was THRILLED when I found this free Valentine printable from The Idea Room! Isn't it absolutely adorable? I'll be making some of these to hand out and might even keep one for myself! :)Thank you Amy!

http://www.theidearoom.net/2014/01/frozen-olaf-valentines-printables.html

Feb 5, 2014

A Picture of Grace

Amazing grace - do we truly grasp how amazing? I've chosen the topic of grace to dig into and learn more about over the last couple of months. I've learned so much and have been awakened to what God's grace really is about. Now, isn't it just like God to show me a perfect picture of His grace while I'm studying and trying to learn more about it? 

As a family, we use Heritage Builders for family night ideas. During one of our family nights, we talked about some not so good things that had happened that week (fighting with brother, bad attitude, chores not done, etc). Eric and I made a list of these things and we assigned a payment/consequence with each one - no technology, rake the back yard, clean out the garage, etc. We talked about all of this with the boys and let them know what their payment was for each item. You can imagine the reactions from the boys and how fun that part of the family night was for them (NOT). They were so upset as they thought about what their weekend was going to look like. After going through all of their consequences with them, Eric said - "you know what, because I love both of you so much I'm going to take care of every payment on this list." Of course, this was to lead up to talking about how Jesus paid the price for every sin that we have committed or will commit. That's a great picture, right? Something that the boys will remember probably for life, but that's not the part that really stood out to me. Eric went through each item one by one and said - "Jordan, I will clean the garage for you this weekend. Justin, I will take your grounding from technology for the weekend," and on and on down the list. Here's where it gets good - every time Eric said a consequence that he was going to do for the boys, they immediately offered their help. Eric would say - "Jordan, I'll rake the leaves for you," and immediately Jordan said, "I'll help you!" Eric said - "Justin, I'll clean the garage for you," and Justin immediately said, "I'll do it with you!" 

This may not seem like much to you, but this reaction brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but think of people who are somewhat fearful to preach/teach about God's grace, because won't people take advantage of it? Won't people keep doing things they shouldn't do because they know it's been taken care of? Here's the deal - knowing how much God has covered for you doesn't make you want to take advantage of that. The boys response to Eric taking their payment for them was to turn around and help, to do what they could for their father. Their reaction was an overflow of the gratefulness in their heart for all that their father was doing for them. This should be the same with us. God has covered our sins and that is GREAT, He's poured out His grace on us and once we truly start to grasp the concept of His grace, our natural reaction is to want to live our lives for Him, to be devoted completely to Him, to do whatever He tells us to do. An understanding of God's grace only deepens our relationship with our Father and creates within us a desire to live in a way that is constantly showing our gratitude to Him.

I smile because God was a part of our family night that night, and He was whispering to me - "Shari, this is what grace looks like. This is what a heart that understands grace looks like." I've said it before and I'll say it again - I just LOVE God winks - those times when you know that God allowed something to happen JUST FOR YOU!" Amazing grace - I pray that as you continue to grow in your relationship with God you will truly understand why His grace is so amazing!