Tuesday, December 16, 2014

MOPS Moments: Raising Brave and Confident Kids

Sometimes, you just need people in your life who speak the truth. It may not be new information, but oftentimes, I need reminders. Yesterday, at MOPS, I heard some of those truths that it is easy to forget.

I get caught up in the laundry, dishes, meals, diapers, lack of sleep...and I forget about the privilege I have been given to be the mom of two awesome kids. I could tell that the other moms in the room yesterday felt the same way. We all seemed to hang on to every work spoken. I was scribbling down notes as fast as I could.

When I got home yesterday, I had a text from a friend. She lives several states away. She's a mom of a little one. And she was feeling those overwhelming thoughts herself. Does my life mean anything anymore? Why does it feel like I am drowning in diapers and dirty clothes? Will I ever get a break? Am I the only one who can't seem to do it all?

And so, I sent her a copy of my scribblings from yesterday's meeting.

Our speaker, Bekita, who is the Women's Ministry Director at our church, shared great truth with me...and I hope that the truths she shared might resonate with and minister to other moms out there.

(And my notes are not super organized...like I said, I was just writing in any space on my paper that I could find)

3 John 1:4
"I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth."

Psalm 127:4-5
"Children...are like arrows in a warrior's hands. 
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them..."

A warrior would want sharp arrows when he goes out for a hunt. He would spend time preparing the tips, making sure that they were sharp enough to stick into the target (game) when shot. A dull arrow would make a failure of a hunter. 

I am sharpening my arrows (kids) now, while they are young in hopes that they will hit their intended target someday. What am I aiming for? If I don't have a target, I can't expect to hit it. 

Don't be devastated when your kid moves on to the next stage (big boy bed, going to kindergarten, etc.) It just means you are doing your job as their mom, moving them on to the next season in life. 

The Home Front
Describe your home right now?
  1. A home is a treasure to be used, not a trophy to be displayed.
    The enemy tells us we need to have a big expensive house in order to host. He (Satan) wants to keep us isolated. BUT have people over!! People are more important than the appearance of your house. 
  2. Your home is to be a haven.
    It's up to me, the mom, to create that safe haven.
  3. You, the mom, set the tone of the home.
    Conversation, music, what's on TV, etc. 
  4. Let them see me as a "Praying Mom"
    Pray at breakfast/on the way to school
    Pray at lunch
    Pray at Bedtime
    Let my kids hear me pray "God, thank you for picking me to be ________'s mom."
  5. What kind of heritage do you want your children to have?
    Long term goal
    You are creating their heritage right now. 
Deuteronomy 6:6-7
"And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.
Repeat them again and again to your children. 
Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are 
going to bed and when you are getting up."

You can't teach something you don't know yourself. Be in the Word!

Deuteronomy 11:18-19
"Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today,
so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. 
If you obey, you will enjoy a long life..."

Modeling vs. Monitoring
I want to be a mom my kids want to be like. I want to be busy knowing God. I want to show them how to live rather than just tell them what they should do. I want them to see me praying, in the Word, not complaining, working hard, etc. 

Ephesians 6:10-18 - Whatever God puts together, Satan is working to pull apart. Fighting kids. Broken marriages, etc. 

The Early Years (0-4 years)
  1. Begin praying for their spouses.
  2. Learn to mean what you say.
    Gives them confidence.
    Establishes better authority.
    Teaches them to obey.
    They learn they can trust what I say. They learn they can count on me.
    Before I give an answer, I need to take a minute to think it through - so that I don't have to go back on what I say.
  3. Disciple = love and correction
    Hebrews 12:6
    Remember discipline means correcting a bad behavior. May require punishment. 
  4. When they are little, use the spanking spoon
    Different than your hand
    A punishment they can remember
    For willful disobedience not childish ignorance
  5. Unacceptable behavior is what you are working to correct.
    It's a life lesson.
    Teaching them self-control
  6. When you need a break...take one!
    Hard because moms are "always on" even when sleeping. Always listening.
    Suggested driving around the block when your husband gets home from work, taking a walk, getting up earlier, etc. 
Surround yourself with Scripture in your home. Post it, frame it, write it on chalkboards, say it, sing it, etc. 

Ephesians 2:10
"For (your name) is God's Masterpiece. 
He has created me new in Christ Jesus so that I can do 
the good things He planned for me long ago."

She suggested the following books:

Dare to Discipline by James Dobson

Growing Wise in Family Life by Chuck Swindoll

PS: Hannah gets credit for the "MOPS Moments" title :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Big Silver Bow

For some reason, an oversized item makes cute decor. I have a large clock and large fork and spoon hanging in my kitchen. I love to make the oversized ruler as a growth chart. And I love my giant red C in the kitchen.

In my December 2014/January 2015 issue of Martha Stewart, I saw the cutest Christmas decor for my front door!

I had to enlist Jeremiah's help for this project. It was definitely a job for two people. He is always so great to help me with my crazy ideas.

We had some of the metal flashing on hand in the garage, but had to purchase some more to complete the bow. We already had the foil tape (and you do need it because that metal flashing is super strong), and we used some scrap wood for the base.

I cut five 32-inch pieces of flashing and five 28 inch pieces. These made the loops. I secured the loops with the foil tape.

You can kind of get an idea how to form the bow by looking at these instructions. Maybe eventually Martha will post her instructions online. Once the loops were formed, we drilled a hole and screwed them into the scrap piece of wood.

The center loop came from one 22 inch piece of flashing.

I'd love to try to make this from a stiff wrapping paper for some festive indoor decor. It would even be fabulous for a birthday party.

But for now, I'm enjoying this big metallic bow on my front door. 

DIY Advent Calendar Kit

For the Christmas Tea last week, I needed favors for my table. I thought about chocolates. I thought about ornaments. Finally, I decided on DIY Advent Calendar Kits. 

I simply cut flags from cardstock. I used two different shaped flags so that I could get the most use out of my cardstock. 

Each kit also got 10-ish feet of baker's twine and 25 clothespins. I purchased a large amount of this baker's twine over a year ago. I use it all the time - wrapping gifts, etc. and I still have so much left. It was a good investment, to be sure. I measured how much string would be needed to hang all 25 flags - across a doorway top, along the top of a hutch, or even just on the wall.

I stamped each flag using my date stamp. These stamps are pretty inexpensive and I use mine all the time. 

I hoped that the guests at my table could take this home and use it to count down to Christmas. They could write on the tag what Scripture they plan to read. Or clip a 3x5 card to each dated flag with an activity or scripture reference. They could even clip an ornament for each day, hanging them on a little tree as the days pass. 

I packaged the kits in plain brown lunch sacks. 

I thought I had come up with a fabulous way to make easy tassels. I figured it made a cute bow, added color and could be later used as an ornament. But alas, someone else had already thought of my cool idea.  I ended up making two tassels from one skein of thread.

This was a fun and simple favor to make. I hope it helped a few of these ladies as they count down to Christmas. 

PS: Hudson and I are reading the Jesus Storybook as our Advent reading each evening. And I am using She Reads Truth. There is a free app and you can buy the advent pack. I, however, have just been reading it all on the website directly for free. 

What are you reading? How are you counting down to Christmas? 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

When God Used my Dishes

I am always amazed at the ways the Lord wants to use me. I find myself often thinking that if I surrender to Him, He's going to give me some hard task that I will totally hate. However, time and time again, He gives me the chance to minister to others by doing something I love.

This past week, I had the opportunity to host a table for our church's Ladies Christmas Tea. I've attended my mom's tea for several years (see pictures here, here and here) and had always thought about how I'd decorate a table.

I was so excited to host a table. Many tables were decorated with exquisite fine China, but I don't own any. Instead, I used some of my Fiestaware and some of our everyday white plates.

I borrowed a black table cloth and the wood log slices from our MOPS supply closet. After all, this was a table for MOPS. I have, however, requested a set of these slices from my dad.

A burlap table runner, a lantern from my wedding and some faux greenery made a woodsy centerpiece.

I had planned to use the paper bows (just cardstock hot glued - pattern here) as napkin rings. But I had to leave my plate cleared, awaiting the salad plate. I was in love with my checkered napkins and hated to hide that pattern (napkins purchased here). So, the plates got bow ties instead.

Since the tea was to be candle-lit I was worried about not having enough light at my table. I could just imagine my guests having to guess at what food was on their plates. However, when I arrived, the tea-lights and lantern provided the perfect Christmas glow.

I also sprinkled some jingle-bell acorns around the table. I had collected the acorn caps from my parent's yard during my last trip home. Hot glue held the jingle bells in place.

I loved to look at all the other table designs.

We were made in the image of our creative God. It was so neat to see the differentl personalities and creative ideas implemented in the table decor.

I was also able to decorate an extra table with some woodsy decor. As I folded the napkins and placed the greenery in my crate, I prayed for the women that would sit in these seats.

I prayed that they would feel special and loved. I prayed that their hearts would be receptive to the truths presented.

After three nights of the tea, 1800 women were reminded of the treasure that they are in God's eyes.

Each of those 1800 ladies received a tea cup made of fine China. Different phrases were written on the bottom of the tea cups.

God's Child, Treasured One, Cherished, Forgiven, Unbound... As I handed out the tea cups to the guests at my table, I prayed that they would receive the word that they needed to hear. I love that they were able to take home a visual reminder of the love of God.

I am so thankful for the friends that were able to join me this evening. The Lord has truly blessed me with some amazing relationships.

I placed the same centerpiece on my kitchen table. It reminds me that God knows who I am and what my interests are.

I have learned so much from the Bible story of Deborah (read bout that here). She was a leader. She didn't just make casseroles for potlucks at church or play the piano. (And I know those things are needed) She had a strong personality and God used her to help lead the Isrealites into battle.

God gave me these interests and talents. Why is it surprising to me when He wants me to use those things to minister to others?

When I surrender to Him, He can use some everyday dishes, some acorn caps, a few pine cones and some silverware. He can use those ordinary items and my willing heart to encourage someone else.
Why do I ever question Him or His ways? He does what is perfect...every time.  I am just glad He uses me...all while I am doing something I love.