Archives for posts with tag: Family

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. My family had a great day. We ate heart shaped pizza and chocolate chip cookies, cut lots of paper hearts and laughed through the taking of family photos. Like, I said, it was a great day, full of love and smiles.

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It’s funny how a good day can get you thinking about the bad ones. Last year was tough for my entire family. My sister and I lost her best friend and our Dad to cancer, just weeks apart, my pastor of over a decade stepped down unexpectedly…and those are just the things I’m at liberty to share. There were days that I found myself wanting to run away or hide, days full of anger and soaking wet with tears. But through it all I was held. The Creator of the world and everything in it held me in His hands and He held me together even when I wanted to fall apart.

The most difficult week I faced last year was in June. I turned 38 on Wednesday. On Friday I got the call about my dad dying. On Sunday my pastor resigned. A week that started with joy ended in devastation. But you know what…God was the same that Wednesday as He was that Friday as He was that Sunday as He was on Valentine’s Day as He is today. He is faithful and He can be trusted.

We’re now several weeks into 2014 and I’m hopeful that this year will be better but even if it’s not I still know that I am held.

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My dad is dying.

It was hard to type that. It’s hard to say it…or even think it.

But he is. And I’m not. And that’s weird. It feels weird to do dishes and curl my hair and do my homework while my dad is slowly wasting away.
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He has what we believe is a cancerous tumor in the very back of his mouth on his tongue. He’s refused treatment and is now under hospice care.

A little over a week ago my sister got a call saying he wouldn’t live through the weekend. His tumor had been bleeding and he was very weak. But it quit bleeding and by the time we arrived (less than 24 hours after getting “the call”) he was up and around, drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes like normal.

Like I said it feels weird to move on from those hours we thought would be our last with him.

We spent last Saturday evening and most of that Sunday just sitting outside together. We talked about his dog, the weather, his grandkids. He was willing to chat about anything, except what we needed to talk about the most.

He looked terrible. His complexion told the story of the blood he’d lost the day before. And it broke my heart.

I don’t really know my dad very well and I guess part of my heartbreak is that I never will.

And though it’s hard for me that life goes on…it does anyway. Time does not stop because I am in crisis. I cook for my family. I clean my house. I curl my hair. I try to do homework.

I remember that God is faithful and that He is my hope.

What did the snail say while riding on the back of the turtle?  Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

What did one lawyer say to the other lawyer?  We are both lawyers.

What do you call a poodle who likes to take a bath?  A shampoodle

What is smarter than a talking bird?  A spelling bee.

My family loves to laugh and we’re always trying to one up each other with a new (clean) joke! But it wasn’t always this way.

I personally always thought of myself as having very little sense of humor. I can’t think of a single movie that would be considered comedy that I love and I can’t stand slap stick. Also, I mostly don’t get it when other people are joking…I’m usually thinking, “Huh?” I guess I’m just slow that way.

In my old age (late 30’s) I’m finally starting to get sarcasm. And that has been quite fun.

Maybe that’s what sparked the desire for more. I just remember looking around one day and realizing that we (as a family) didn’t really laugh together a lot. It made me sad.

So I got a big fat joke book and read it cover to cover. Then I wrote down all the jokes I thought the kids would like and put them in a big bowl in the middle of the kitchen table. Each night we would take turns choosing jokes and cracking each other up. We had so much fun!!

It amazed me that with just a little effort, laughter and humor could become part of our lives and change the way we interact with each other.

So often we think, “This is just the way it is.” But it’s not always. Sometimes, this is just the way we’re allowing it to be.

I love that we have the option of taking charging and setting out a big bowl of jokes on the kitchen table!

It’s back to school day!

My youngest starts 4th grade today at a private Christian school down the street from our house. My oldest is in 7th grade, still homeschooling and attending a homeschool enrichment program 2 days a week. Today is the first day of the enrichment program.

So both boys have a new start today with the new school year.  And I begin mothering them, guiding them and praying for them on their new adventures.

I can sometimes get so bogged down with making lunches, washing laundry, helping with homework and double checking back packs that I forget what the other side of mothering is all about.

On one side the daily management of our homes matters. Last year I found myself buying fast food for breakfast and sending my kids to school with dirty jeans on far more often then I’d care to admit. (I can’t believe I just admitted it at all actually.) So I’ve committed to doing a better job of managing my home this year.

I want my boys to start each day with confidence and strength, not watching me scramble to get it together.

On the other side, I know that mothering is more than clean clothes and nutritious meals.

I thought I would make a short little list of a couple of the things that mothering means beyond the day to day duties, but I quickly realized that it’s impossible to sum it up.

There is so much to being a good mom…knowing when to solve problems and when to just listen, knowing when to cuddle and when they’re not in the mood, balancing discipline with grace. I could go on and on.

Parenting is such a big job, such a tall order. It can be overwhelming. We can sometimes feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders.

The good news is, it’s not. We serve a capable God…who is more than willing and able to succeed where we fail!

So as this new school year begins and each of us get a new start, the most important commitment I’m making is to be my children’s most diligent prayer warrior and to trust God’s promises for them and for me!

My pastor recently shared a story about a little boy who asked his dad how much money he made at work. The father was frustrated by the question but answered, “I make $20 an hour.”

“Ok”, said the little boy. “Can I have $10?”

The dad didn’t appreciate this request and sent his son to bed. After about an hour he thought he had been a little harsh, so he went into the boy’s room and asked him if he was still awake.

“Yes”

The father sat down on his son’s bed and apologized for getting so upset and then handed him a $10 bill. His son immediately pulled a bunch of ones out from under his pillow. He counted the ones and added the ten and said, “Hey Dad, I finally have enough! I finally have $20. Can I buy an hour of your time?”

As my pastor finished this story I had tears in my eyes.

I remember how tough it was growing up without my dad around. I remember my mom working long nights and sleeping all day. She worked so hard to provide for us and to keep us safe.

It was often difficult for her to find one on one time for us. But when she did, we had a great time. Some of my best memories with my mom are us doing crafts together! She loved crafts and I loved doing something fun with her. It was a win-win situation.

Nothing says, “I love you” to a child the way spending time with them does.

Knowing this I thought I’d share a list of 25 fun things to do with your kids.

  1. Read a great book together. (Or listen to it in the car like we do.)
  2. Play board games.
  3. Paint together.
  4. Make bleach pen t-shirts.
  5. Volunteer your time together.
  6. Go for a walk around the block.
  7. Build something with Lego’s together. (My youngest and I recently built a city together.)
  8. Have a video game competition with them. (We love Wii Sports.)
  9. Buy a joke book and take turns reading the jokes out loud.
  10. Fill the driveway with sidewalk chalk art.
  11. Visit an art museum.
  12. Play charades.
  13. Have a water gun fight!
  14. Bake a cake or cookies together.
  15. Plant flowers indoors or out.
  16. Make paper bag puppets.
  17. Play hide and go-seek.
  18. Make fruit juice popsicles.
  19. Play the license plate game.
  20. Give each other a back scratch.
  21. Read the Bible together.
  22. Take a couple of goofy family photos. (Be sure to print and display them right away!)
  23. Cuddle.
  24. Draw on the windows with dry erase markers.
  25. Make a list of things your family is thankful for. (Take turns adding to the list.)

Whatever you choose remember, it’s not the specific activity, it’s our time that communicates love to our children.

  1. to feed the poor
  2. to trust in God
  3. that racism is never OK
  4. to pray always
  5. how to handle anxiety
  6. how to conquer fear
  7. that reading is important
  8. that a smile is always your best accessory
  9. that keeping things simple is a good idea
  10. that stuff does not matter
  11. that people do matter
  12. that God’s word does not return void
  13. to show others grace
  14. that you can be friends with lots of different kinds of people
  15. to say no and not feel bad about it
  16. to say yes and not feel bad about it
  17. that we can be in control of our emotions
  18. to lead our hearts not follow them (borrowed from the movie Fireproof)
  19. that hard work is not something to be avoided
  20. that family matters
  21. good manners
  22. not to worry to pray instead
  23. that a happy heart really is good medicine
  24. to be a good neighbor
  25. to seek peace whenever possible
  26. to say sorry and mean it
  27. to exercise
  28. to eat lots of vegetables
  29. to be careful about what you listen to and read
  30. to practice hospitality
  31. to tell people the good things you know to be true about them
  32. that gossiping is not OK
  33. that our actions really do impact others
  34. to avoid debt
  35. to value the simple things in life
  36. that greed is an enemy of the heart
  37. that fear is the enemies greatest weapon
  38. to be bold
  39. to trust their instincts
  40. what a real friend is
  41. how to stay committed to and in love with your spouse
  42. how to have fun for free
  43. that too much TV keeps a family from enjoying each other
  44. that pity parties do not solve problems
  45. that actions really do speak louder than words
  46. that a job well done is satisfying
  47. not to depend on the “experts”
  48. that there is value even in those who annoy you
  49. that God loves us all the time
  50. that when we talk bad about ourselves to ourselves the enemy is delighted
  51. to believe the best about others
  52. that most problems prove to be temporary
  53. that God listens and cares
  54. that picking up after yourself is not a chore, it’s normal
  55. that serving your family can be a joy
  56. that spiritual warfare is real
  57. to put on the full armor of God
  58. to rejoice even in the midst of hard times
  59. to limit activities that keep you from your responsibilities
  60. that God loves the world
  61. to accept God’s grace
  62. that God rejoices over us
  63. the difference between being the boss and being bossy
  64. to look on the bright side of things
  65. to accept and learn from failure and/or defeat
  66. to look for the lesson in pain
  67. to take responsibility for their own actions
  68. that the world owes us nothing
  69. not to depend on others to save you
  70. that people make mistakes
  71. to forgive others
  72. to forgive themselves
  73. that good nutrition is not difficult
  74. to be entrepreneurs
  75. to choose their friends wisely
  76. to practice hospitality
  77. to be encouragers
  78. to plan ahead
  79. to look forward to the future
  80. to value people over things
  81. to pray when they are overwhelmed
  82. that making the effort to serve someone is a worthwhile thing
  83. that love does not conquer all unless it’s God’s love
  84. that learning makes life more interesting
  85. that we can see God’s glory in nature
  86. that anyone can be an artist
  87. that the world does not end at our back door
  88. that prayer is our best weapon
  89. to wait patiently
  90. to be an optimist
  91. to believe in their dreams
  92. to look for God’s hand in all things
  93. to embrace the hope of Jesus
  94. that just because something is hard does not mean it can’t be done
  95. not to over commit themselves
  96. to study the Bible
  97. to have compassion
  98. to love the Lord
  99. to love each other
  100. to seek to honor God in all they do

“Why don’t we celebrate the days of Creation?”

This was the question posed by our son Wesley a while back.  And what a great question!

“We celebrate Jesus being born, and we celebrate Easter. Why don’t we celebrate when God created the whole world?”

As we discussed traditions and why we celebrate this or that it became clear that God was working in Wesley’s heart.

So we started praying and planning and Wesley’s question became an idea. We were going to celebrate the days of Creation and we were going to invite all of our friends to do it with us!

Spring Break was right around the corner so we quickly planned seven parties for the seven nights in a row that school was out. Each party was themed around a different day of creation.

We kept it simple so we could focus on our guests and honoring God. The last thing we wanted was to be stressed out!

This was our schedule:

  • Day 1– Day and Night – Glow Stick Dance Party

We moved most of the furniture out of the living room, made a playlist on YouTube, turned off all the lights and passed out glow stick bracelets at the door.

  • Day 2 – Water and Sky – Outdoor Game Night

The boys chose their favorite outdoor games and we all played them until dark.

  • Day 3 – Land, Sea and Vegetation – Apples to Apples Night

If you’ve never played this game you should. It’s always good for a few laughs.

  • Day 4 – Sun, Moon and Stars – Design Your Own Celestial T-Shirt Night

Supplies for this night included bleach pens, solid colored t-shirts and star stencils. You can find tutorials for making bleach pen t-shirts all over the internet.

  • Day 5 – Creatures of the Sea and Birds of the Air – Finding Nemo Movie Night

It was so fun to watch this movie with a crowd.

  • Day 6 – Land Animals and Man – Animal Charades

We filled a basket with the name of every animal we could think of, set our egos aside and acted like…well, animals…all to honor God. It was one of our favorite nights.

  • Day 7 – God Rested – Family and Friends Campout/Sleepover

We envisioned tents in our back yard and sleeping bags all over our floors. What ended up happening was a camp fire and party but no overnight guests. (Which honestly, after a week of partying, we were ok with.)

Each night we gave away a door prize that somehow related to the theme of that night. A flashlight on day one, sunglasses on day four…you get the idea. We provided easy snacks and alternative activities for little ones…crayons, sidewalk chalk, etc.

This was definitely one of the coolest things we’ve ever done as a family!

We’ve decided to do it again next year. Actually I’m hoping this will become a tradition and that I’ll be celebrating Creation with my grandchildren someday.

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. She lived in the same town that we did. She babysat us a lot. She took us to run errands with her and always bought us McDonald’s. We played a lot of games together.

We played a lot of dominos. It seemed to be her favorite game. To this day when I even see the word domino I think immediately of my grandma.

Playing dominos with her was a family tradition.

Movie mattress night is one of my kids’ favorite family traditions. It’s a simple thing really. It usually happens on a night when the boys don’t have to get up early the next day. We choose a movie, drag a mattress (or two) out of the bedroom(s), turn the futon into a bed, shut off all the lights, lay down and press play.

Usually we fall asleep before the movie is over. That’s part of the fun. I love waking up with all of us in the same room together. And because one or all of us has fallen asleep during the movie we always watch it again the next day.

It’s important to me that we watch, read and listen to great stories. Movie mattress night is one of the ways that Wonderful Hubby and I make sure that happens.

It’s also important to me that we create lasting memories and have a sense of unity and identity as a family. I think traditions are important and help us do just that.

What are your favorite family traditions?