Thursday, November 14, 2013

I Didn't Know I Was Missing Out

When my children were small and my mom would make trips out of town, we would make it an “outing” to take her to the airport and send her off.  We would watch her airplane leave and mosey around the airport a little and head home.  Then 9/11 happened and security tightened up so we started dropping her off at the curb.  She eventually decided that she liked taking the shuttle, she enjoyed the ride in the bus and felt like she was well taken care of and really I think she felt she was making life easier on me.  I appreciated that as our family size increased and life got busier.

Now that my mother is becoming more fragile at the age of 85, traveling isn’t quite as easy for her.  She hasn’t made her long treks back to MI for her family reunions in the past couple of years.  Recently she decided she wanted to travel south to see my sister and we got her set up to fly to California.  The more I thought about her taking the shuttle and getting airport assistance to get to her plane, the more I felt it was time to watch over my dear mother and personally make sure she safely got to her destination.  I decided to take her to the airport myself for the first time in a long time, and when I got to the airport the fella at the luggage check in counter offered to give me a pass to take her to the gate.  I hadn’t sent someone off at the gates since before 9/11… that’s over twelve years ago.

Something my mom and I have in common is that we really prefer to get to the airport with lots and lots of time to spare.  For me it’s just part of the traveling experience that I enjoy, to spend time in an airport and for her it helps her to feel calm without needing to hurry.  And go along smoothly it did.  We got her boarding pass quickly and went through security with ease.  It was such a blessing to see the TSA agents’ kindness and gentleness towards my mom as they processed her through.  From there we stopped at Starbucks for a morning coffee, found a salad to share at a restaurant, took a bathroom break and then, before we knew it, it was time to line up for boarding.  I could have left her once we were there, but I felt a desire to sit with her and visit with her.  Soon they came to get her, pushed her wheelchair onto the jetway and she disappeared onto her plane.  I stayed for a little while and then casually walked back to the parking garage to my car.

I was a little caught off guard with a feeling I hadn’t really anticipated when I decided to spend the time seeing my mom off.  It was a familiar old feeling, that feeling one has when an enjoyable visit is over and your loved one is going away.  That feeling one has when we know we are going to miss someone.  I suddenly became aware that I had been missing out on that feeling for the past many years that my mom had been taking the shuttle.  There was no time of visiting, no sending her off and encouraging her to enjoy her visit away with other family, there was no memories in the making between her and I.  When she took the shuttle I was doing whatever it was that I was doing and I didn’t realize I was missing out on being present to my mom leaving town, and experiencing the emotions that come with a clear and concise realization as she boarded the airplane that she would be missed.

That was three weeks ago.  Today as I was getting ready to pick her up, and this time taking my daughter with my to help collect up Grandma and her luggage, I was reflecting on that familiar old feeling that I had been missing out on.  I was thinking that, yes, it really is a bit of a sacrifice to drive 40+ minutes (depending on traffic), to find parking, to go through getting a pass and going through security and all that would follow, and that yes, THIS is what “life” really is about.  This is what “love” is about.  There was no sacrifice in my mom taking the shuttle, and there was no “life experience to reflect back on” in it either, there was no relationship in it.  I was grateful for having this experience to reflect on. 

In addition, I was thinking about how my daughter and I were going to have a new memory together today as we left early together, just the two of us to make a few stops, to maneuver through the airport together (after getting lost twice driving there – don’t ask!), and having lunch together.   I was also thinking about what a blessing it is for us to be creating this memory of helping Grandma together as a team.  An additional blessing for my mom is that we dropped her off at my niece’s home to have dinner with them and then go home from there.  Lots of family time for my mom. 

As I have been writing this out, I was thinking how this trip has provided my mom with a more relational experience and memory of getting to and from the airport as an added blessing to the memories she and our family in California made together.  I hope she has several more trips in her to take.  Though her traveling is slowing down, as long as she is eager to travel I hope to be in a position where I can make the sacrifice and create memories and continue to experience that old feeling of realizing how much I will miss my mom while she is away.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You Are SO Blessed

“You are blessed.”  These are the words that I said to my son last night when I called him over to correct him.  He looked at me with a curious smile.

These are not words I would have said in years past when my children were not in agreement or unity over something, and my tone of voice certainly would not have had the kind tones my son was hearing last night.  In years past, there would have been irritation in my voice and a look of irritation along with words filled with shaming.  My main concern in the past would have been mostly about myself and what a bother it was to have to deal with their arguing.  I would have wanted to get this over as quick as possible so I could get back to what I was doing.  My parenting did not embody the idea that "Character training adds time to every duty and every duty ought to stop for character training," as quoted by Marilyn Howshall and that I wrote about in "Character Training Adds Time."    I am so grateful that my children no longer experience the impatient self- centered parenting I just described coming from me.  I am so glad they don’t remember being parented in that way. 

When I saw my son’s curious smile, I asked him if he knows why it is that he is so blessed.  He wasn’t sure, so I told him that the Bible tells us that we are blessed and happy when the Lord corrects and instructs us.  I told him I get the privilege of correcting and instructing him for the Lord.  His curious smile turned into a big grin.  I hugged him and then, knowing I had his heart, I began to ask him what was going on inside of him a little while earlier when he and his sister were having a disagreement.  It was so precious to see his willingness to explain to me what he thought and how he felt when his sister said certain things, at some points tears welling up in his eyes, and then to see his understanding towards her grow as we talked the situation through.  Previous to talking to him, I had already talked things through with his sister, so now they were ready to come together and reconcile, both hearts were pliable and yielded, filled with love for each other. 

It was a blessing to my heart to hear them express their sorrow for how they had treated each other, to hear them express their new understanding of how they had hurt the other and follow that up with asking for forgiveness and a tight squeeze hug and giggles.  Yes, my children are blessed... and so am I… beyond measure. 

With every experience like this I am SO grateful for the love of my Lord, who has helped me to let go of so much and who continues to teach me to love, to live out the overcoming life.  Along with that gratitude comes a gratitude for the ministry of Lifestyle of Learning™ that the Lord brought into my life to help our family learn so much about how to "love like Christ loves."  I am so grateful our family is being rescued by the Lord.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law
Psalms 94:12

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Character Training Adds Time

A highlight from grocery shopping not long ago was witnessing the loving kindness of a young mamma towards her children. She had two little boys maybe around the ages of 3 and 5 years. The little one did not want to share the little kid shopping cart with his big brother and began to cry as his mamma encouraged him to share.  I noticed she was encouraging the younger son to share even though the older son didn’t show and outward “need” to have a turn at the cart.  She tenderly scooped her youngest son up in her arms and gently talked to him as she snuggled him close to her. His response was to wrap his arms around her neck and sweetly say “I am sorry, Mamma” as his crying waned.  This was such beautiful evidence that she has his precious little heart. It was such a pleasure to watch this mamma in action and couldn’t hold back telling her she was doing a fabulous job with her little ones.

All through the store I saw her teaching her boys and speaking kindly to them, completely focused on them and their hearts. As I was getting ready to check out, her littlest one accidentally knocked over the little kid cart, spilling all the groceries he had collected out. His first words, were “I am sorry.” She kindly said, “It’s okay,” and they picked up the groceries and placed them back in the cart, all in sweet spirits with each other. All throughout the store, I saw her speaking words of kindness to her boys, giggling with them, talking with them, putting her arms around them at times, clearly teaching them about shopping as she pointed out where to take the cart next.  She was fully present with them. I didn't see her pull out her cell phone once, she was fully vested in her boys, they had her full attention. Her kind and generous affection for her boys was SO evident.

As I was leaving the store, she was also checking out and she smiled. I stopped and told her that I have friend who writes books about parenting and who says parenting taking lots of time. I told her it was a delight and a blessing to see her interacting with her children and taking such care and time for them, and I assured her that she is doing a great job with her boys. Her gratitude was so sweet and humble.

It was a true delight and blessing to see this mamma’s interactions with her boys embody Marilyn’s quote.  You can find Marilyn’s writings at Lifestyle of Learning™ .

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Examining Cob Webs

My 11 year old son just got his first job delivering papers to our local community a few weeks ago.  On his second week delivering we thought we would try to beat our time for the first week. 

As we got about almost a quarter of the way through I realized we might actually take an extra hour or two as the spider season has begun and there are many spider webs and spiders in the walkways to so many of the front doors of the homes.  Although my son enjoys bugs, he does not enjoy webs and he does not enjoy spiders in webs that he might walk through.  Each house delivery was becoming excruciatingly long as he examined each bush and corner in each walkway for potential spiders and webs.

After several very slow deliveries I realized I was at a cross roads.  I was feeling frustration, at being stopped up and slowed down.  I realized the cross road I was at was the choice to go down the road into irritation which would crush my son or down the road of love, sacrificially helping my son.  Of course I don’t want to crush my son and the only and best choice is always sacrificial love.  I was in the battle of pushing away my irritation with the help of the Lord, when I prayed about what to do instead and the Lord quickly showed me just what my son needed.  As I obeyed what the Lord had showed me, I used a stick we had picked up and became his advocate and cleared the way for him to deliver the paper to the doors.  I also wanted to encourage him to focus on the task at hand and thinking about getting in and out quickly. 

This helped speed things up a little and eventually I thought it was time to let him go on his own on the less “cob webby” walkways…  Though he was doing better, he still stopped and examined potential web hazards along the way some.  We then talked about how we can feed our fears without realizing it by looking for problems.  We talked about doing an overview of the walkway and then keeping our mind focused on the goal of getting the paper to the door, dashing in and out like Flash Gordon without looking at each and every potential problem, but getting the job done.  My son enjoys various super heros and Flash Gordon is someone he could relate with and develop a picture in him mind of.  Daniel, being a young boy of few words, didn’t have much to say, but just kept going.  I could tell it wasn’t easy for him though he just kept going and I kept encouraging him.  I continued to discern which houses to clear the way for him and which houses to let him press forward on his own.

Out of the blue, as we were about half way through what I call the “home stretch,” Daniel said, “What you said came in handy about just focusing on where you need to get to and not look to the sides and corners.”  At that moment his comment was evidence to me that, though he remained quiet throughout the majority of the delivery time, he was contemplating my words inwardly and applying them.  We talked further about how this is a concept that will serve him well through life as he matures and uses it in other areas.  In the end, we did beat our time from the previous week… by 7 minutes.

(My son holding the cob web stick and a paper to deliver)

This makes me think of Hebrews 12:1-2 where Paul encourages us to strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and every unnecessary weight, which often includes fears.  He encourages us to throw away each particular sin that clings to us, that entangles us, that stops us up from growing in the ways of love, that stops us up from loving like Christ loves.  Paul encourages us to look away from the things that distract us, that slow us down from our purpose, but to focus on the appointed course of the race, to our Jesus, who is our Leader, our Source of faith and the One who brings us into maturity, into perfection, who teaches us to love like He loves.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
                                                                                                                                ~Hebrews 12:1-3

I think of how this applies to my own life, of how easily I can get side tracked from running the race by stopping and spending time entangled in my fears, in my sin... but the thing to do instead is to remember Jesus.  It reminds me that I need to 'moment by moment' be looking to Jesus and not becoming distracted from Him, but remembering He is my Source of faith, that He is the Finisher of my faith, He is the One who is willing to teach me all to help my faith come into maturity and perfection.  I just need to be willing to cooperate with Him.  The question that comes to mind, “Am I willing?”  ... “Are you willing?” ...  Let it be so.

Update Sept. 14, 2013 - My son shaved 70 minutes off of our time keeping his focus on only the spiders in his way to the door.  Victory!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

All I Ever Needed to Know About Bugs, I Learned from My Son

My son will be eleven years old on Sunday and he just got his first job yesterday delivering papers a couple times a month for a local publication.  This has been an answer to a desire within him to work and earn money. 

His first day on the job took much longer than we anticipated as he spent much time stopping and looking at various bugs and pondering things about them. I am so grateful for his sake, that we have developed a more home base way of life that enables me to feel relaxed and able to let him explore his world and not be focused on rushing about life. 

For much of his life he has enjoyed bugs, looking at them and examining them and reading about them.  He has read many books from the library about bugs and I have bought him a couple of books too.  I remember last year, coming across an insect book at one of the local state parks and asking D if he would like me to buy it for him.  He carefully looked through the book and decided he didn’t need me to buy it for him because it didn’t offer him very much new information.  It amazes me, the information he carries around in his head and is able to share with me about bugs.   He often tells me interesting facts about different bugs.   It made me think about how much I have learned about bugs from my son.  I am so glad that we all can learn many things from each other.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Routines and Flying

This morning as I was waking up, my thoughts went toward my day and what needs to be our focus.  Yesterday I was in general “off track” and what I need to do today to get back “on track” with our routine.  The early part of our week got switched up a bit with a short road trip out of our little area and family visiting.  As I was thinking about this week’s activities and how our routine got broken up and modified, I began to think about how a routine is like flying an airplane.  It brought me back to the days, before kids, when my husband was building flight hours and I would accompany him, and be his co-pilot.

This was a flight we made from California to Oregon August 1991

We always filed a flight plan and when we got into the air our time was filled with many checks and balances to keep us going in the direction of that flight plan until we arrived at our destination.  We both were scanning for and identifying other aircraft in the air and my husband would regularly be checking his altitude and our direction.  I have only handled the gear for an airplane once and for a short period.  It surprised me how much work it was to keep the elevation level and to keep us on track, there is much correcting of the yoke done during a flight.  Pilots make it look really easy to stay on track and keep the flight smooth, especially as they gain more experience. 

I was drawn to how developing a routine can be like flying an airplane.  I have never really had a good routine throughout my life, but I have lived with schedules according to what was going on in my life (i.e. school/work).  This played a part in why I was drawn to the schoolish system and programs, to provide a schedule to be accountable to.  I had never learned of the difference between a schedule and routine as Marilyn Howshall explains it in her book, Develop A Lifestyle Routine.  Moving away from the schoolish programs and systems has been challenging for me in developing a good steady routine and I am glad for the help from the Develop a Lifestyle of Routine book that has given me some basis as I evaluate our specific family dynamics and our life situations as they come up.  I notice I have really great weeks and I have weeks where things get thrown off, and I don’t get flustered over it like I had in the past.  I use to see myself get off course and think of it as failure, and rather than correct and adjust, I kept going in a downward spiral… feeling defeated…  That was not the thing to do.  I have learned that the thing to do is to stop all the critical self-talk, self-condemnation, all the blame, all the self-pity I use to be trapped in.  The thing to do is to check my course and see what course corrections need to be made and then make efforts toward that. 

Sometimes a wise pilot realizes that the destination needs to be modified due to unforeseen circumstances and does so.  For example, last weekend my husband was flying home with a group and their schedule got waylaid which required a change of plans.  The pilot flying the airplane was not yet certified to fly at night with passengers and the plan needed to be changed.  They started in Canada and determined they could make it to Bellingham by dark (an hour and half north of home) and made arrangements with  me to pick up the passengers so the pilot could fly the airplane home.  Just like this situation, we may have plans and life happens (a move, a baby, a medical emergency, job loss in the family, etc.) and we need to readjust our destination as well.  It’s nothing to feel defeated in, but it’s something to make adjustments in and keep moving forward in.

This is the airplane that my husband was flying home in from Canada.

This week we had an activity that took us out of our little area for part of a day which changed around our routine, we switched our grocery day, and I have a relative in town that is adding the need to be flexible with how our days look so we can switch things up.  I got off track a little bit yesterday and today I am ready to make that course correction.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

But That He May Have You Wholly for Himself

Andrew Murray

In Surrender.  Let Him have all.  Give up your life to be as full of Him, of His presence, His will, His service, as He can make it.  Give up yourself to Him, not to be saved from disobedience, that now you may be happy and live your own life without sinning and trouble.  No; but that He may have you wholly for Himself, as a vessel, as a channel, which He can fill with Himself, with His life and love for men, and be in His blessed service.

I am reading through Andrew Murray's "The School of Obedience" and am finding that I need to read it slowly and thoughtfully with pen and highlighter in hand, as his writing is rich and causes deep thought.  "Give up yourself, not to be saved from disobedience, that now you may be happy and live your own life without sinning and trouble"  That quote struck me and caused me to think about how my motives towards God have so often been self-centered, making efforts to give self up to be saved from disobedience, sin and trouble.  That is "all about me."  As I read "No; but that He may have you wholly for Himself" there is such peace and warmth in that, to fully "belong" to God in full surrender with none of "self" - just Him.

 Yes Lord, my desire is to be wholly Yours, Your vessel, a channel filled with You, with Your life and love for others, to be in Your blessed service.

Yes, there can be none of self in surrender and full obedience, it cannot be about me but it must be ALL about Him.

For a free copy of 
"The School of Obedience" audio and pdf 
click on the above picture.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Strawberry Foibles

The past few weeks I have been reading Love's Actions - Patience and focusing in with the kids about "foibles" and the right response to have with them.  It's been really fun to do that... and last week S. "foibled" and dropped frozen strawberries all over... and then when she was trying to deal with those she dropped more...  I could totally "feel" what she was experiencing - remembering the many times it seems like I have been "all thumbs".... as I looked up at her and related (in my mind) with what she was experiencing I couldn't help but laugh and she looked at me and got the biggest prettiest smile on her face.  It was a beautiful moment that sticks in my mind.  She laughed and said something and then picked them all up... it was a beautiful response on both our parts to her foible, letting the frustration roll off like water on a ducks back rather than letting frustration give way to irritation.  Makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy all over.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
~Colossians 2:6-7

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Giving and Receiving Gifts (Part 3 of 3)

Learning to Live (Series)

Lately the Lord has been opening my eyes to my reality.  He has kindly and lovingly been showing me the areas in my life that have been void of correction and instruction of His ways, void of experiencing His love in the general activities of learning how to live.  This has included revelations that go back through my childhood up through my present relationships with my husband and children.  He is redeeming these voids a few at a time, here and there, showing me what is and has been missing and following up with what needs to be exchanged or filled in.  I have been lost and pretending to live, but thankfully the Lord has prepared me for this season of learning from Him, personally, how to live.

In Giving and Receiving Gifts – Part 1 I shared that the Lord has been showing how preparation and sacrifice are valuable character elements of giving gifts.  In Giving andReceiving Gifts – Part 2  I shared that the Lord has been showing me how presentation and heart-felt sentiment are valuable charcter elements of giving gifts.  Here I continue with more that the Lord has been showing me, but about receiving gifts.


Receiving a gift that has been given with such love as described in the past two posts ought to stir up a grateful heart for favor towards us which leads to an expression of thankfulness for the favor toward us.

It seems to me that receiving a gift involves a two elements. 

One part being that the gift exudes a feeling of “being known,” which is evidenced through the thought and preparation that noticeably went into the gift given.  When we feel “known” we feel loved and valuable, which draws us to have a grateful heart.

 (My daughter crocheted my son an Angry Bird 
knowing he likes to play Angry Birds in his free time)

Another part seems to include an attitude of having our eyes open and looking for the blessings, a willing and eager heart to “receive” blessing.  For example, if the gift was handmade, gratefulness includes noticing and paying attention to the details of the work done and receiving the love directed toward us with thankful expressions.  Being grateful seems to have an element of taking our eyes off of ourselves and directing thoughts of appreciation toward the one who gave so freely and sacrificially.

This makes me think of the Lord and how He gave us the gift of salvation so freely and sacrificially.  Do we have our eyes on Him, noticing the preparation, the sacrifice, the great details of the love He wants to pour out on us?  Do we have a grateful heart in all the details of life and are we expressing thankful sentiment toward Him?  He is the example of lovingly preparing and pouring Himself into the gift of salvation and continues to prepare our permanent home in Heaven.  My desire is to have a grateful heart in all things.


As I have worked through this series of posts, it all seems so very elementary, yet my understanding was so void and empty for lack of training in the ways of Love, in the ways of Christ.  In turn for these past years, I raised my children with an equally void understanding of Christ and how seemingly every day activities can model His love, but rather gave them experiences filled with empty flesh related ideas.   My heart is so grateful that His love is so good and so gently and never too late, that we have been given this opportunity to bring new loving ideas into our home that reflect Christ’s love.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Giving and Receiving Gifts (Part 2 of 3)

Learning to Live (Series)

Lately the Lord has been opening my eyes to my reality.  He has kindly and lovingly been showing me the areas in my life that have been void of correction and instruction of His ways, void of experiencing His love in the general activities of learning how to live.  This has included revelations that go back through my childhood up through my present relationships with my husband and children.  He is redeeming these voids a few at a time, here and there, showing me what is and has been missing and following up with what needs to be exchanged or filled in.  I have been lost and pretending to live, but thankfully the Lord has prepared me for this season of learning from Him, personally, how to live.

In Giving and Receiving Gifts – Part 1 I shared that the Lord has been showing how preparation and sacrifice are valuable character elements of giving gifts.  Here I continue with more that the Lord has been showing me.

Presentation the Final Step

Presentation is the final step in the process of preparing a gift to give.  Beautiful wrapping or packaging includes thoughtful, loving, sacrificial preparation, sometimes as much thought and preparation as the gift.  In addition to the wrapping or gift bag, the card provides an important final touch.  In many ways, it is the heart of the gift as what is written in the card can share a deep loving sentiment toward the receiver.  The words printed in the card may say just the right thing, but it’s the added personal words of affection and sentiment written by the giver that can deeply touch the heart of the receiver.

The wrapping and card use to be an afterthought for me that I often would scramble to put together at the last minute.  I remember thinking about the expense this added to the gift I was giving.  It would be just torn up and discarded, I questioned if it was necessary or appreciated.  My thought process was justification for self concern when it ought to have been on blessing the receiver.  The gift wrapping and card is that final touch that says you are valuable to me, you matter to me and you are worth every effort toward making this gift pleasing and special to you.   

One of the gift bags and cards my oldest daughter made

The Lord regularly teaches me through my children.  The Lord used my oldest daughter as an example to me, as she often makes or decoratively personalizes the gift bag and/or card for gifts she gives.  There have been times that she has taken several days beforehand creating and preparing her gift bag or card.  When the Lord was bringing understanding to me He reminded me of her and the precious time and effort she put into preparing and creating gifts and/or gift bags and cards.

Heart Felt Sentiment:

The final touch and I think the most important part of a gift is the written sentiment in a card toward the receiver.  A heart-felt sentiment is more than a birthday wish, but is a expression of what this person means to our heart and what a blessing they are and may include our hopes and prayers for them.  The card is the written expression of our love for the receiver.

Giving gifts in this way takes our eyes off of ourselves and focuses our eyes on blessing the recipient.  Giving gifts in this way is loving in a sacrificial Christ-like way and it is one of many ways that example Christ’s loves for us.  In John 15:12 Jesus tells us to “love like He loves” us.

This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. 
~John 15:12

Monday, April 8, 2013

Giving and Receiving Gifts (Part 1 of 3)

 Learning to Live (Series)

The Lord has been opening my eyes to my reality.  He has kindly and lovingly been showing me the areas in my life that have been void of correction and instruction of His ways, void of experiencing His love in the general activities of learning how to live.  This has included revelations that go back through my childhood up through my present relationships with my husband and children.  He is redeeming these voids a few at a time, here and there, showing me what is and has been missing and following up with what needs to be exchanged or filled in.  I have been lost and pretending to live, but thankfully the Lord has prepared me for this season of learning from Him, personally, how to live.


(Gifts my oldest daughter made for a friend)

One of my daughters and I were talking about her sister’s birthday as we were preparing to celebrate it.  She told me that she is beginning to enjoy giving gifts more than ever before.  She is growing and maturing in character.  This led to her and I discussing how “learning to give and receive gifts” can give us insight about the Gospel of Christ.

Due to religious ideas and family dynamics, gift giving is an area that was void in my upbringing.  My experience with celebrating holidays and birthdays, with giving and receiving gifts came from experiences outside my family life.  My interpretation was developed through watching others either from a distance or on T.V.  I am so grateful that the Lord is replacing my wrong interpretation with revelations about how His love is intertwined in every aspect of life.


Recently the Lord has been revealing Himself to me through a process of teaching me how to teach my children the deeper values surrounding giving and receiving gifts.

Giving in the Flesh Revealed:  As I think back over my life, I remember times of giving gifts with the idea that I wanted the receiver to enjoy what they received, but there more to that motivation, there was an added level of self-centeredness in the process of picking out a gift.  Would the receiver like the gift “I” gave them?  Did it seem like “I” spent enough money or took the cheap route (always being on a budget)?  Did the gift “I” was giving them seem creative or just right?  Is “my” presentation of the gift pretty enough?  Does the card “I” picked out impart the right impression?  Did “I” write the right thing in the card.   I remember a time when what to write in the card could sometimes be burdensome, particularly when giving group gifts, wondering if other people would read what “I” wrote and think it was dumb or lacking.  Oh, how focused on myself I have been.

When I began to be ministered to through the Lifestyle of Learning ministry, I remember hearing about the value of giving meaningful gifts that included meaningful and sentimental messages written on the cards.  I had never heard anyone in church ministry talk about this before.  I thought it was a wonderful idea, it was something I wanted to do and at a deeper level I knew it was beyond me to be able to do as I could barely comprehend what it would look like in real life.  That was a few years ago.  I am grateful that the Lord knows the right season to bring new understanding, and am grateful for what He has been showing me in this area.

Giving reveals a Christ-like Love : 


The Lord has been showing me that preparation is the beginning to gift giving.  God is the ultimate model of preparing.  The Old Testament shows us how He prepared to bring us the gift of Christ.  The New Testament tells us of how He is preparing a place for us in Heaven.  To prepare is to take necessary previous measures.  In order to take necessary previous measures to bless someone with a gift we would want to put thought into what we know about the receiver and what brings them joy, keeping our eyes on them rather than on our self.


Sacrifice is a needed element of giving gifts.  Sacrifice is the surrender made or occurred to oblige another.  We may sacrifice… or surrender our time, putting aside time with the specific purpose to prepare for the gift thoughtfully considering the receiver and what they enjoy, what would bless them.  We may then sacrifice money we have earned to buy a gift or supplies to make a gift.  Making a gift often requires sacrifice of both money for supplies and setting aside time to create the gift. 

When we make a gift there is often another ingredient that is added to the preparing and sacrifice of pouring out of our “heart” and praying for the receiver while we are creating the gift.  There really is a pouring out of love that accompanies a homemade, handmade gift.

We are not always able to make gifts, but it is something that I have been coming to see the real life value.  It has been becoming more important in my mind for my children and I to develop skills for the purpose of blessing others.  This is one, of many ways, we can teach our children to serve others.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sweet Daughter Turns Nineteen

Nineteen years ago we received the gift of our oldest daughter.  In so many ways it seems like such a short time ago and in others it seems like a lifetime ago.  The Lord knew exactly the person to give us as our first born, she has been the perfect blessing and challenge.  I add challenge, because I believe our children challenge the things in us that we need to examine and look at and change within ourselves, children are an exact mirror of us parents, after all   In addition this precious daughter of ours continues to inspire and challenge me in new ways as she grows older.  I look forward to this upcoming year with her, seeing what she will do and how she will grow and develop further in the things she takes on and in her heart.  I am grateful for her, she warms my heart.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
~Colossians 2:6-7

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Looking for the Blessings In All Things

While our country is experiencing many troubles and trials, which I believe is due to a turning away from the Lord, I try to keep my heart set on being thankful in the current circumstances that we are living through.  While our country has been on a long road to bringing us where we currently are, giving up our freedoms through ignorance, and more and more erosion of our freedoms being put upon us, I can be grateful that we still have the freedom to assemble on public property and express our thoughts and our disagreement with the choices of our government.  I was blessed by the friendly spirit of the police officers monitoring this event and who were moving about the capitol campus.  I was grateful to see many people stopping to listen for a few minutes to see what was being said.  While I am grateful for these things my prayer is for our nation to see it's wrong ways and turn back towards the Lord with a full repentance family by family.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
~Colossians 2:6-7

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fellowship Blessings

Another thing that has warmed my heart is a recent opportunity to meet together with precious friends and share the work and heart miracles that the Lord is doing in our families.  These ladies and their testimonies have been a true blessing to my heart.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
~Colossians 2:6-7

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Warms My Heart

Last year I came across Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and I want to make an effort to focus on the many things that I have to be thankful for.  I will share some of those things from time to time in a series of posts called "Warms My Heart."  In the meantime I thought I would look at what it means to have gratitude and to give thanks. 

  • An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received
  • a sentiment of kindness towards a benefactor; 
  • a sentiment of good will towards a benefactor
  • thankfulness

  • Gratitude is an agreeable emotion
    • consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor, and 
  • a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services, or
  • when no return can be made, with a desire to see the benefactor prosperous and happy. 
  • Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies 
    • a feeling heart and
    • a generous heart, and a 
    • proper sense of duty.  

The love of God is the sublimest gratitude.  ~Webster 1812

Thanks:   Generally in the plural.

  • Expression of gratitude; 
  • an acknowledgment made to express a sense of favor or kindness received. 

Gratitude is the feeling or sentiment excited by kindness;

      thanks are the expression of that sentiment. 
                                                                                                                    ~Websters 1812

To sum it up we express thankfulness from a heart filled and “overflowing with an emotion or sentiment of gratitude” for goods or benefits received according to Colossians 2:6-7.  In order to have a heart filled with overflowing gratitude we need to be purposeful in looking around us for favor and benefits received on a daily basis.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
~Colossians 2:6-7

Warms my heart… 

things that make me overflow with gratitude.

It was 16 years ago that we first met our precious second born daughter.  God created her special and unique and knew just who we needed in this position in our family.  He has used her to reveal things within me that He wanted me to give up and change and He has used her to teach me how to love unconditionally more than I ever have before.  She is a delight to my heart and I am so grateful to be her mamma, I am so grateful to celebrate her 16th birthday with her along with the rest of our family.

A friend once explained to me that children are forced into maturing prematurely when I told her how sweet yet so different it is in my mind (especially compared to my own experience at their ages) that my children enjoy “playing” in their teen years.  I am so grateful to see such sweet fruit developing between my four children from the work we have been doing, particularly during the past three years, in the form of them enjoying spending time together in so many different ways.  On this particular day it warmed my heart to witness my children playing together.

My husband was laid off work almost three months ago and he is taking advantage of the time he has available for various things.  Some thing that warmed my heart was the experience of going to the mall with him and some of the kids on a weekday (unfortunately our oldest sweet daughter stayed home with the flu).  His surprise at how different (empty) the mall is on a weekday and what he has missed all these years was cute.  I experienced a warmness of the heart excited by the benefit of being together when my dear husband normally would not have been with us.  I am grateful to be able to see the precious nuggets mixed in with the challenges of life, may we always be focused on the joys of life that the Lord brings to us in the challenge.

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