Friday, July 18, 2014

Seven Reasons to Avoid Family Camp

This post sponsored by Renewing the Family Camp

I don't know who invented summer camp, but it was a good idea.  Except for the part that only kids get to go.

Our family has gone to Renewing the Family Camp twice and it was a great trip. We'd like to go again.  However, it isn't for everyone.  In fact, you may want to avoid it altogether.  Here are seven reasons not to go:

1.) Don't go to Family Camp if you're determined to spend a lot of money.  Not only are there affordable lodging options, especially for a large herd like ours, all the activities are free too.

2.) Don't go to Family Camp if you want time alone away from your kids.  Most of the activities can be done as a family and are suitable for different ages. My kids particularly enjoy the water activities and it's nice to see a reliable standard of dress around the lake.

3.) Speaking of activities, you really shouldn't go to Family Camp if you have a fondness for boredom.  Because at Family Camp you're liable to bump into a playground at every turn in the bend.  And if you are an indecisive person you will run into trouble deciding between the climbing wall, the water slide, the skating, the tubing, the old fashioned ice cream shop, family baseball games, archery and even impromptu astronomy lessons. Rumor has it there have even been dodge ball games in the gym at midnight.

4.) Don't go to Family Camp if you like to plan, cook and clean up three meals a day. Because we all know how relaxing that is for the ladies of the family. The meal plans are, again, affordable--just a few bucks per meal.  And the food is good!  All served buffet style in a cafeteria setting.

5.) Don't go to Family Camp if you like a highly structured, fast-paced schedule of organized events.  If you enjoy running around like an insane person, dragging your tired kids behind you, with all manner of quiet entertainments stuffed inside your diaper bag to keep them still so that you can listen to hours of sermons and seminars, well I'm sorry.  You will be disappointed in this setting. There is a lot of free time and the atmosphere is light-hearted and laid back.

6.) Don't go to Family Camp if you aren't interested in making friends and enjoying good fellowship with other families.  There is a lot of chin wagging that goes on at Family Camp.  And if you're not a chin wagger, chances are you will eventually run into someone like me who gives you no choice.

7.) Don't go to Family Camp if you are trying to avoid strengthening your family relationships.  Because if you travel somewhere, away from the distractions of regular life, making memories, gaining more time for interesting discussions, listening to sermons and learning new praise songs...well, I'm sorry.  But it's bound to happen. 

Renewing the Family Camp is scheduled for August 4th-8th in Maxwell, Nebraska. Our family may be there.  Let me know if I'll see you there.  I'll be that lady with a drool spot on my shoulder.

Monday, July 14, 2014

God's Provision for Another Homeschool Year

Last week I was a bit inwardly whiney. I was working on our homeschool schedule for next year and pining away after some books I was wanting. I don't use a ton of formal curriculum, but I do need to buy a few things each year.  Mostly, I just enjoy adding to our home library of good books to read, and with catalogs arriving in the mail often this time of year, the itch becomes almost unbearable. But there wasn't any wiggle room in the budget, even for the needs.

I prayed and gave myself a pep talk.  It's easy to homeschool for free.  And it's important to remember that we don't homeschool primarily for academic reasons, and the shiniest and "this year's best" curriculum, is not, ultimately, going to make a wise adult.  (Read: How to Produce Godly Children. From One Homeschool Zealot to Another).

But I wanted to share with ya'll how God did provide for our homeschool needs because I know many of you are probably in the same boat or could be someday.

I had prayed about it and resigned myself to making do, when out of nowhere I received a check from my home business, Lilla Rose, that blew my socks off.  Almost to the penny was the overage that I needed to buy the few things I had my eye on. Additionally, I was able to get it all deeply discounted by getting it used on Homeschool Classifieds. I'm so thankful to the Lord for providing in this unexpected way.

Like all of you, I'm running a race of faith here.  And tests come up often, don't they?  It is easy to get so concerned about material things that we crowd God out and just give way to worry.  When the truth of the matter is, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4.  Also the words of the apostle Paul are excellent: "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11- 13

Many times in our adult lives Kevin and I have had all that we needed ahead of time or else we could easily see when and how the needs would be met. Other times God has provided material goods far above what we would ever dream we'd be able to afford.  That's a great blessing.  But there have also been many times that we haven't known and couldn't see any hope of obtaining what we needed, yet "the Lord is faithful who has promised," and our needs are always met in one way or another. And as a matter-of-fact, I have found that many times when we have nothing, we are the happiest. During those times:

We are leaning most heavily on the Lord and His promises.

We are discovering how wonderful it is to trust Him fully.

We commune with Him in prayer more steadfastly.

In short, God has never wasted a financial trial, in the sanctification of our hearts. The reason many of us are irritable and miserable is because we have piles of this world's junk and we can't see God for the piles. I'm thankful for another opportunity to give Him glory, for displaying His faithfulness and proving His Word true to us, even in this small thing of homeschool curriculum.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

When You Need Grace to Make Chicken Salad

Motherhood is hard work. Much grace is needed. Just when you think you have things pretty much under control, it’s like the rug gets pulled out from under you. Last week was one of many such occasions.

I fed the baby and she went down for a nap. I was glad. I wasted no time heading to the kitchen to make the chicken salad for lunch. I had one hour before I was to leave to take the littles for a special lunch date. In those 60 minutes I had to prepare food for the other children staying home, make sure said littles were wearing matching shoes, as well make a rare make-up application to my face. Doable. Completely doable.

So when my big-little girl who never loses an opportunity to help in the kitchen asked to do the chicken salad all by herself, I hesitated only slightly. Taking a quick glance at the clock and knowing the baby would sleep at least 30 minutes, I judged that I had plenty of time to let her make lunch "alone."

After we retrieved the cans of chicken I took out the hand held can opener. And this is where everything started going wrong. Who knew can openers could be so evil. She tried, I coached. She tried some more, I gave pointers. She kept at it and I sensed that tears could appear soon. I began to beg God for supernatural intervention. Ten minutes later He answered. One can down, four to go.

The clock was ticking.

Soon the other kids discovered us in the kitchen and things officially began to spin out of control. One of the boys ran through cheerfully laughing as he pursued his brother with a sharp object. Toddler brought the gigantic Moses basket into our small kitchen and laid it down at my feet and then climbed inside, making it impossible for me to move. My phone started going off with texts from my husband, wanting my opinion on a business decision he was making. Teenagers came into the work area to loiter and give verbal notification of their impending death due to starvation. You know what happened next.  The baby woke up. Everyone needed me at one time. And we still couldn’t get the cans of chicken open.

I suddenly felt very hot and wanted a Frappuccino.

These are the Calgon moments of motherhood. The rock tumbler as one mom called it. We start to smash into each other and painfully get our rough edges knocked off. The surprise of it is like being in the wave pool at a waterpark. You’re having a great time and then out of nowhere one of those big waves hauls off and hits you right in the face, stinging your eyes, burning your throat and you’re having a difficult time finding your feet.

Overwhelming scenarios like these are when we must remember the gospel and choose to live in light of it. We must not think the gospel is too big for these little circumstances in our lives that present themselves without notice. The gospel is for every moment, big or small. Our homes are a mission field, after all. Just as important as what goes on in foreign mission fields. We must apply to our families what we know about God and our communion with him through Christ. Communion with Him means becoming like him. We must use what we know about God’s extending hand of mercy, grace and loving kindness. In times like these we make the effort to abide in the Vine, take the grace our Father has bestowed on us, and be a channel of that grace toward our children.

Being a mama is full of difficult moments that require extreme amounts of physical and emotional energy, sometimes when you least expect it. But because we are Christ’s we have everything we need to master these moments with grace. We can answer with a gentle tongue. We can press through the heat of the moment without sinning against our family, barking at them. We can have joy in the work that God has given us to do. We can give thanks in all circumstances. We can laugh.

The gospel is not just for Sunday morning evangelism updates or quiet moments of private devotion when we pour out thanksgiving for our salvation through the blood of Jesus. The gospel is also for times of contrary can openers, time deadlines, muddy shoes on freshly mopped floors and for when you just heard a tone in your child’s voice. It is for potty training, diaper blow-outs, midnight vomiting and for counseling teenagers. It’s for Daddies who have bikes to fix after a long day at work and for husbands who lead family devotions when their flesh cries out for downtime and ESPN. Because of the gospel we have fellowship with Christ who enables and empowers us to press on in the sometimes weary work of discipling a family.

And what’s more, God is teaching us, refining us, increasing our faith, through our kids. Not a correction or discipline do I give, that I do not recognize the same sin in my own life, and how my Father deals mercifully with me.

Of course, none of us will do this perfectly. There will be times that we fail and say things we ought not, give way to self-pity, grumbling inside about all the work we do and how no one notices. But when we sin against our children, we can ask their forgiveness. In this we aren’t detracting from the message of the transforming power of the cross. We’re illustrating why we need it. And so whether we emerge from the Calgon moment victorious or if we fail and altogether blow it, we still return to this truth: The gospel is for the everyday, in every moment because we live in light of it. Especially while we’re making chicken salad.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Birth Video of Selah Hope

"Fill the earth with,
 songs of worship
Tell the wonders of creation's King"

I will be 40 years old this week.  And if you had told me at age 20 that I would be shopping for nursing bras and buying diapers at age 40, I would have laughed at you.  But God.  Praise His Name, he changed our hearts and gave us eyes to see life as the miracle that it is and welcome little children in his name.  Lord, strengthen us to be faithful to the task, not growing weary in the well doing.

(Other birth videos:  Shiloh Knox and Serenity Brenlyn)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekend Links

For some weekend reading...

It is hard to choose an excerpt from this post because it is so amazingly good. Such an important topic.  Tim Challies keeps sounding the alarm. I hope Christians will listen:

"A lot of young people—too many young people—are growing up too slowly today. Their sexual awakening is coming far too early and amidst all the wrong circumstances, and it is delaying every other kind of awakening and maturing. It is especially delaying their spiritual maturation."
Read: Pornolescence

Feminism is alive and well.
"As a young woman with a shallow understanding of God's Word and a steady drip of feminist ideals into my heart, I didn't know it, but I was a feminist. I believed I was the captain of my own destiny, that the path to fulfillment was through a killer career, and that men were best avoided or controlled."  Don't miss Why I'm Not a Feminist or the follow up post, This Ain't About Throwbacks

This would be most of the young women I am blessed to know:
"Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own." Read: On Daughters and Dating

Great post about the myths concerning large family mothers.  Of which I am ;) I would have included as #8 however, the myth that the oldest children "raise" the youngers (this was said to me this week by a person who, of course, has no first hand knowledge.)  Help yes.  Raise No.  If it were true then why on earth am I so exhausted by the end of the day?  lol
Read: 7 Misconceptions About Moms of Large Families

Did you know you can download the ebook "Good", written by the contributors of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, for free?  John Piper wrote the foreword.  Get it here.

This is such a beautiful post.  Kevin and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage soon too.  Maybe that's why this post brought the tears, but I think you will love it too.

"I wasn’t ready to pack up and move all our hand-me-down furniture into a moving van for years of doctoral work in Louisville. I wasn’t ready for miscarriages. I wasn’t ready to hear that we’d never have children. And then I wasn’t ready for an adoption process that took us to the former Soviet Union and back with two very special-needs babies."  Read: What I've Learned in Twenty Years of Marriage

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Duties of Parents


“I have heard it said by some, that you should require nothing of children which they cannot understand—that you should explain and give a reason for everything you desire them to do. I warn you solemnly against such a notion. I tell you plainly, I think it an unsound and rotten principle. No doubt it is absurd to make a mystery of everything you do, and there are many things which it is well to explain to children, in order that they may see that they are reasonable and wise. But to bring them up with the idea that they must take nothing on trust, that they, with their weak and imperfect understandings, must have the "why" and the "wherefore" made clear to them at every step they take—this is indeed a fearful mistake, and likely to have the worst effect on their minds.” --J.C. Ryle

I just finished re-reading the classic book The Duties of Parents by J.C. Ryle.  This is one of my favorite books to read on parenting.  If your head is ever swimming from all the "advice" you're reading online, or if you have a kiddo that is just not easy to parent and you're constantly left scratching your head--it may be that this little book contains some wisdom that would benefit you.  When I read it, I always find some gem or I am stirred up by remembering truths that may have grown dim in my mind.

"See to it too, if it can be so arranged, that your children go with you to church, and sit near you when they are there. To go to church is one thing, but to behave well at church is quite another. And believe me, there is no security for good behavior like that of having them under your own eye.

  The minds of young people are easily drawn aside, and their attention lost, and every possible means should be used to counteract this. I do not like to see them coming to church by themselves—they often get into bad company by the way, and so learn more evil on the Lord's day than in all the rest of the week. Neither do I like to see what I call "a young people's corner" in a church. They often catch habits of inattention and irreverence there, which it takes years to unlearn, if ever they are unlearned at all. What I like to see is a whole family sitting together, old and young, side by side—men, women, and children, serving God according to their households." --J.C.Ryle

It is only 63 pages, easily read in a couple of hours or less, and you can even get it for free right here as a download. Otherwise this little book can be found at Monergism books.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

14 Things

Seth turns 14 tomorrow. I wish I could rewind the clock and spend another day with him as a little one.  But that season has passed.  I enjoy him now just as much, but in a different way.  When Seth was born, I thought he was our last.  We had capped out at the acceptable amount of children and now had both genders represented.  How thankful I am that the Lord shed light in that area.  Having so many younger brothers and sisters has been one of the means of grace God has used to teach Seth responsibility and self-sacrifice.

At three years old, Seth insisted that the training wheels come off his bike. He proceeded to zoom around our little church parsonage parking lot so fast he nearly gave me a heart attack. And yet I had to force him into giving up his pacifier at age 4.  Some of my favorite memories are trying to talk him out of that pacifier!

And so the years have gone. I've sat by to watch large, glorious pieces of fruit growing in his life that I never dreamed would have bloomed so early. And I've hit my knees beside his bed many nights, knowing he was fighting spiritual battles that seemed small in comparison.  Pacifiers he had yet to relinquish.  A man-in-the-making...a little boy still.

Glory to God, Seth was converted this year, and there are no words to describe the relief and gratitude in my heart, knowing that my son won't just be with me here, but he and I will spend eternity together.

Here are 14 things I'm thankful for in Seth:

1.) He loves the Scriptures and diligently takes notes on what he reads and hears preached.

2.) He has a tender conscience.

3.) He sees our flaws as parents, but forgives and honors us regardless.

4.) He doesn't let the sun go down before he makes relationships right that he has injured.

5.) He loves to read and reads for pleasure as well as self-discipline.

6.) He is fun-loving.  He never loses an opportunity to laugh. (Particularly if he can pester his older sisters, it brings him great joy ;) )

7.) He has had to obey us in hard things at times, tough calls for us as parents, and he has faithfully obeyed.

8.) He freely communicates with his mama.  I never have to wonder what is on his heart.

9.)  He is helpful, always asking what he can do to help Kevin.  Before he goes to his room for free time (usually to play on his guitar) he asks, "Do you need me for anything, Mama?"

10.) He chooses his role models and friends carefully.  He ponders the path of his feet and takes counsel willingly when it's needed.

11.) He takes his position as the oldest brother very seriously.  He will often take the little brothers hunting or fishing or to teach them some new thing.  They respect him and love him like crazy.

12.) He is content with little.  I cannot remember the last time he asked us for anything.  Except food.  (He eeeeeeeaaaattts.  Mercy does he ever eat. Bacon is his love language.)

13.) He's growing in responsibility.  He gets up early in the mornings to milk the goats, strain the milk and put it away.

14.)  He never loses an opportunity to work and he's learning more about stewardship as his opportunities to work increase. 

Daddy and I love you Seth and are thankful for your life.  May you continue to walk in a manner worthy of your calling as God's elect, increasing in knowledge and wisdom.

Forever etched on my heart and remembering you always in my prayers,