JOCHEBED

Waking up to the sound of someone throwing up is never encouraging, but I will say it was expected. It is Mack’s turn to encounter the full brunt of the flu. Ruby and Molly have already done so. It was only fair that he get started with this dreadful sickness, and I suppose the sooner he starts, the sooner it will be over.

So this morning, in the middle of laundry and Lysol, I found some encouragement in God’s Word. Lord knows I needed it!

I started the book of Exodus. The second chapter begins, “Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.”

Of course, that little baby boy was Moses. We know Moses and all that he did for the Lord over the course of his life. But we aren’t even given his mom’s name here in Exodus chapter two. We learn it later in a geneology passage.

Jochebed is her name. It means “YHWH is glory.” In what ways did Jochebed show her family and the world that Jehovah is glory? How did Jochebed give glory to God through her life as a mom? Wonder how she handled three kids with the flu in the middle of a frigid winter while she was trying to house train a dog and home school her kids?

Several things stand out:

She loved her children.
She did not fear the king, but trusted in God.
She wasn’t selfish.
She listened to the Lord when He let her see something “goodly” in her baby boy, and she surrendered him to the Lord.

So, I asked the Lord to help me show my love for my kids today as I serve them through their sickness. I asked the Lord to give me confidence in His leading with my kids— that I wouldn’t fear what the world says is right for my kids, but that I will trust in the ways God leads me with Ruby and Molly and Mack. I confessed my selfishness and asked for forgiveness. The Lord sure uses motherhood as a sanctifying tool in my life! And I asked the Lord to give me wisdom on how to raise my kids in order that they might fulfill His purposes for them. I want to bring God glory that is due His beautiful name. And I can do that by how I raise my kids. It’s a big deal, this rearing children business.

G. Campbell Morgan wrote this in his commentary on this chapter of Exodus:

“We shall certainly hear stories of men of conspicuous ability and adventure, who have led and directed the movements of the hosts of God. But we shall surely then also discover that these men were often provided and preserved, begotten and nurtured, by men and women of faith. What the whole world owes to the strong and simple fathers and mothers who wrought with God by faith…It is surely a great thing thus to see, at the back of all the subsequent story, this mother hiding a baby, her heart free from the fear of the king, because she believed in God.”

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So mamas (& daddies), let’s keep on striving to bring God glory in all we do —even, and maybe especially, while we disinfect the bathrooms for the tenth time this week. Even, and maybe especially, while we wash clothes and change bed sheets. Even, and maybe especially, while we serve our kids their medicine and make sure they’re drinking enough water. Do you believe God is with you always? Do you believe He sees your work? Do you believe He has purpose in pain? Let’s show it by how we live.

Ours is not usually a glorious life, but it is one that can bring glory to the only One that deserves it!

Book: WHY I DIDN’T REBEL by Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach

While I am fully convinced that there is no formula, no 2+2=4 that produces a close-to-perfect kid, I did find this book quite interesting. Rebecca shares much of her personal challenges growing up and how her parents helped her navigate life and grow into a mature young adult, able to make good decisions and be a contributing member of society. She shares other peoples’ stories as well, bringing to the surface how kids who rebel and kids who don’t, grow up with some key differences in their home lives.

I will share some of my take-aways from this book, the first book I’ve read in 2018. You can decide if you want to read it for yourself!

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—Having rules is great, but not if they aren’t ever up for discussion. “Because I said so” might be ok some of the time, but do I make room for my kids to express their opinions and desires even if they challenge a rule I have put in place? Am I open to sharing reasons for the rules in order to foster understanding and give my kids the “why” behind our choices as parents?

—I was challenged to voice my confidence in each of my kids’ decision-making skills and to validate when they make good choices that reveal good character. (quote from page 35 “My mom used to remind us, ‘Children have the Holy Spirit as much as adults do. You are capable of hearing His voice as anyone else.’ She trusted us to seek Him out on our own.”)

—Talk about everything and anything and LISTEN to my kids when they talk. Show them they are worth my time.

—There is value in having ‘ritualized communication spaces.’ As I think of our family, I see that dinner times are major connection times for us. We all come together and we eat and talk about so many different things. I also see our morning time in the sitting room by the fire as a vital time to our home school. Josh is long gone by then, but the four of us connect and study school stuff, but also just talk about all sort of topics. And in the late evenings we are all together…though usually just all in the same space while doing separate things, we are still together and some good conversations usually occur off and on throughout that time. Sometimes a child wants some “me-time” and that is fine, but the child shouldn’t do this whenever they want to and isolate themselves from the family on a regular basis.

—Family should be a place where kids know they belong! Where friendships are. Where fun takes place and where the kids learn how to think of others and work together. We play games. We sing together. We laugh together. We take vacations together with the intent of connecting and being together as a family.

—Also, providing other places for the kids to belong…like youth group! My kids have found their place in their youth group and love being with their friends and serving at church.

—It’s important to be honest with your kids about the direction the family is heading or challenges you are facing. Throughout the move, I feel like we have been really honest and open with each other about our struggles…Josh would share openly, I would share, and as a result the kids would share, holding nothing back. We knew how to pray for each other and would have more patience with one another if we knew someone was having a particular hard time. And the kids felt more secure knowing why I seemed sad, instead of worrying about what might be the matter with me. And knowing Josh was learning a new job and staying late some days to keep up, they would be understanding and not frustrated that dad was coming home later than we were used to.

—Josh is much better at this than I am, but coaching kids through their weaknesses is a huge deal. I am tempted to grow impatient and just send challenging kids to their room to get over themselves! Josh has taught me about talking pointedly to the kids about their weaknesses. Here’s a quote from the book when Rebecca said she was having a hard time managing her emotions: “By using my outbursts as a chance to help teach me emotional regulation skills, my parents gave me a chance to growth I simply would not have gotten if I had just been punished instead of coached through my emotions.”

—“Reality-Based Parenting” was one chapter title. Basically, be honest with your kids about what they’re good at or help steer them in the direction that best suits how God has made them. “You can do anything you set your mind to” isn’t true. Let them fail and grow through the failure instead of saving them from any and all hardship. Let them know it is more than ok to not be the best at all they do. Do your best. Leave the rest to God.

—Work together as a team on projects…whether dinner prep or washing a car or remodeling a part of the house, make it a team effort!

—Give my kids opportunities to see the bigger world, outside of themselves…show them that they aren’t the center of the universe. That God is at work in a vast, big world and that they can be a part of that.

I was encouraged by reading this book and hearing the author share why she doesn’t believe “rebellion is inevitable.” Again, she doesn’t present her research as a formula to follow in order to produce non-rebellious kids. She just shares what rises to the top as common denominators for those kids who didn’t rebel as a teenager. I enjoyed hearing her out. Maybe you will, too!

Happy Reading!

Rolo’s shenanigans

Rolo is about three months old now.  She is a good dog! She sleeps ten hours at night, which is a blessing!! The kids love her and do a good job taking care of her. She likes to go on walks and play in the backyard. And she loves doing things that earn her treats– like sit, down, come, and shake. We are helping her learn how to stay OFF the furniture and to NOT jump up on people.

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It’s going to be interesting to see how we manage our school day next week with her around. She has gotten used to lots of attention and love and exercise. She is super cute!

New Year, Old Disciplines

Some years are hard to say goodbye to, while other years can’t wrap themselves up quick enough.

2017 is a year I am happy to see come to an end, if I am honest. If I had to choose one word to describe my year, it would be “struggle.” As a verb, struggle (with) means “having difficulty handling or coping with.” As a noun, I would choose “a determined effort under difficulties” as the best definition for my struggle in 2017.

Struggling with the challenges of living in an older home (the plumber has been to my house 7 times in one year).
Struggling to find a church home.
Struggling to find my place within that church home.
Struggling to find some answers with the help of a counselor.
Struggling with two car accidents.
Struggling to help my kids adjust (and since learning that this is their struggle, not mine).
Struggling with connection.
Struggling in my time with The Lord (Are you there, Lord? And yes, He was and is.)
Struggling with my weight (can anyone say, “emotional eater” ?!?)

There were victories and growth all along the way, but if I absolutely had to boil it down to one word, “struggle” would be the one.

Josh challenged us to come up with some goals for the New Year. Spiritual goals, physical goals, mental goals and relationship goals. As I have thought about these areas, the spiritual goals came to me the clearest. I plan to go back to reading through the Bible and memorizing scripture. When I think back on the last decade or so of my life, these two things spur me on in my walk more than anything else.

I signed up for the Bible Project read-through-the-Bible-plan on YouVersion. I went ahead and started because I wanted to! And I was so encouraged by the large doses of God’s Word. Reminded that God’s Word is POWERFUL and able to change people and circumstances. Reminded of His faithfulness in the midst of unfaithful human beings. Reminded that His ways are always right and good and perfect.

A new blank journal always helps, too!

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I plan to choose a memory verse on the 1st and 15th of each month. And I bought my index spiral yesterday and put Psalm 40:16-17 on the first card:

“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘The LORD be magnified!’ Since I am afflicted and needy, let the Lord be mindful of me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.”

I look back at the old scripture memory cards from years past and it makes me excited about this coming year!

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I am thankful for the struggles in my life…they make me stronger and are a part of life! But I am also looking forward to experiencing more joy in my heart as a result of seeking The Lord with a revived effort. It’s all His grace in my life, and for that I am so thankful!

All the best to each of you as we wrap up 2017 and look forward to 2018!

CHRISTmas 2017

Another Christmas got here way too quick! We were able to see Irvin last week, and he took the kids to the mall for some Christmas shopping.

They each got a pair of shoes and then the girls spent some more money in Altar’d State, their favorite store. It was a fun time! And PawPaw and Rolo were able to do some bonding.

There has been a lot of lying around this Christmas break. Lying around with Rolo close by.

Molly thinks Rolo’s bed is super comfortable.  It’s concerning, actually…but sometimes Rolo gets to sleep on her bed all by herself.

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My parents came by on the 23rd to spend the night and head on to their Christmas destination. We enjoyed having them here and exchanging gifts…and of course, there was time for bonding with Rolo.

 

Christmas Eve was filled with breakfast with my parents, then a Panthers football game, a Christmas Eve candlelight church service, and then a surprise visit from friends.  What a sweet day!

 

Christmas Day has been sweet as well.  Gifts and food, a walk with Rolo, a fire, naps, movies, time in God’s Word, and time together. We are grateful to be able to celebrate Jesus’ birth together as a family and with friends throughout the weekend.

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Ruby and Mack had cake for breakfast on Christmas morning…I mean, why not?

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Mack has been wanting a ping-pong table and a pool table.  He obviously doesn’t pay attention to his surroundings.  We don’t have any sort of extra space for such tables. So, a table tennis net that would fit on any table would have to do.

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Ruby wanted sunglasses because she wears contacts most of the time and was excited that she could wear non-prescription sunglasses.

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Molly has been eyeing this sweatshirt for a while.  It is “lit.”

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Mack has been asking for UGA stuff for his room, so we started that process. He will get to pick out some UGA wall decor as he finds what he wants. But let’s just say, for now Mack is super happy!

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Molly is upstairs playing her guitar, Mack is playing with his electric card deck and taking walks back to his room every now and then to admire it, and Ruby is watching a movie in her new Georgia sweatshirt.  It’s been a good day. Thankful!

 

Pupdate

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Rolo has shaken things up around here. The kids love her, but they also said it has been more work than they initially thought it would be. I do my very best to not say “I TOLD YOU SO” in an annoying sing-song tone. I just smile and say that they are doing a good job taking care of her.

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Mack and I took the early morning duties the first two weeks, but I could see right away that I was feeling ill towards this dog when this dog is the kids’ dog, yet I found myself standing out in the cold, dark morning saying, “Go poo-poo, go pee-pee” over and over again. So now Ruby goes out with her in the morning…anywhere between 5:30am and 6:30am. Usually Josh and I are up then as well and if we are feeling nice, we let Ruby go back to bed while we watch Rolo. Let’s just say she has put a damper on my morning quiet time. I am trying to keep a good attitude about it though. I think this season of constant watching over her will be short-lived and eventually we will have a sweet dog that doesn’t need to be watched 24/7.

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I did enjoy chatting with Mack on those early mornings. He is a funny kid.

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I hired a professional dog trainer, though. You know, since I don’t know what I am doing, but I need a good dog. Not an annoying, bad dog. The first session was awesome and gave me such HOPE that we can actually teach this dog to obey! Our trainer comes every 21 days or so for six months, and I am thinking hiring her is the best decision I made this year. She gave me two words to hold on to during our first 21 days of training: SUPERVISION and CONFINEMENT.

We are taking her on walks at a trail a few times a week and the other days we walk her up and down the street in front of our house.  She is scared of cars right now, so the trail provides a better atmosphere for actually enjoying our walk. She rides in a booster seat for dogs on the way to the trail.

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One afternoon, the girls and I took her out to “socialize.” We went to Starbucks and then walked to Petsmart. And I went in a few stores while the girls sat on a bench and let people come up and talk to her. It went sort of well….if you don’t count that she spent quite a bit of time hiding behind a pot of flowers.

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She is a cute little puppy. I am glad we got her, most of the time.  But I also know that having a dog doesn’t equal being a dog person. Maybe it will come in time…we shall see. I am proud of the kids and how they have stepped up and done a lot to take care of her. They are definitely becoming dog people.

NEED

I have been quite aware of my need for Jesus in this season of life. It’s such a good thing, but it is also disturbing when you get glimpses of your mean self. The self that really envisioned me pushing a lady down who was super rude to me at the mall.  I didn’t actually push her down, but the desire was majorly there. Her need for Jesus helped me become aware of my need for Jesus.

Sometimes I am short with the kids, selfish with my time, impatient with Josh’s schedule, frustrated with my ‘to-do’ list, lazy, cranky, judgmental, sarcastic, prideful….need I go on? Gracious. What a broken vessel I am. And I encounter many other broken vessels throughout my day. And you are a broken, needy person that also encounters many other broken, needy people throughout your day.

I read Psalm 86 and could agree with the Psalmist in verse 1, “I am afflicted and needy.”

Yep. That’s me.

Then, the chapter goes on and describes God as being a listener, being gracious and good, ready to forgive, abundant in lovingkindness, the one true God, great, doing wondrous deeds, my teacher, deliverer, loving and merciful and gracious, slow to anger, faithful, helper to me, and my Comforter.

Yep. That’s God.

And the Gospel is that He came to this earth for broken, needy sinners–like me. Sometimes I wrongly find comfort in my good attitude or kind responses to mean people or I feel more lovable when I am seemingly doing the good Christian things. That is simply not true. Jesus loves me even in my sin. There is nothing I do to earn His love and nothing I do causes His love for me to diminish. This is so upside down from how we humans tend to think.

“There Is A Mountain” is a song by Caroline Cobb that expresses our need and Jesus as the meeter of our need.  This Christmas season I am most thankful that Jesus humbled Himself and set an example of walking in humility and graciousness. And I am thankful this is a gift anyone can receive. Even if you have received the gift of salvation years ago, we sometimes need reminding that we didn’t do anything to get to Jesus. And we don’t keep His love by our ‘good Christian deeds.’ He did it all and offers us all we need for all time.

“Come with open hands, in need. Come hearts broken, bended knee. A gift can only be received. Come to the mountain; He carries the crippled to the feast. Come to the table. Come sit, He has saved you a seat. Come eat and drink without money, without cost because He has paid it on the cross.”