Remember “Where’s Waldo”?

img_2020Do you remember the ridiculous scenes surrounding him? When I searched for “Waldo” with B, B, & G, I realized I had never noticed them – like the boat pulling the snow skier in this pic. or the guy in the tree!

I was so consumed with finding Waldo that I completely missed the hilarity around it, until my kids pointed it out.

It’s easy to be overrun by our schedule, the errands, the decisions, the big things. But, I don’t want to be consumed by the “Waldos” of my day that I miss the simple joys, the small things, the moments that bring joy and laughter.

My kids constantly notice the small things and take their time with. Everything. It would do me well, us well, to slow down and see through our kids’ eyes.

If that means rising ten minutes earlier so we (I mean, I!) don’t rush out the door, let’s do it. If it means asking our kids “Would You Rather” questions for some giggles and slowing the minutes, go for it. If it means letting the dishes linger and reading a book together instead, dive into a book.

While everyone says how fast this life speeds by, we can slow it down by noticing and enjoying the small things.

[You can find 30 Would You Rather Questions by searching “Would You Rather” in the right sidebar.]

The Power in Parenting with Stories

I learned about the power in parenting with stories after sharing one of my own imperfections with my daughter. Here’s my article about it:

The Power in Parenting with Stories

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Pursuing Your Dreams & THAT Question I will Always Remember

While my article LifeWay published is geared toward young adults, whatever season you’re in, I believe it will inspire you to pursue your dreams right where you are. 💫 Happy New Year!!!

Pursuing Your Dreams & THAT Question I will Always Remember

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Pondering & Treasuring the Greatest Gift of Christmas

The moments of Jesus being born and known were captured by Mary. As Luke tells us, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)

IMG_1630God actually came here! He came as Jesus to show us what love looks like and to make a way to have relationship with him now and forever.

The King of this world, born in a small manger, where animals ate from – able to be born in a palace – yet choosing to be born in a feed box, clothing himself with humility. Came here, to be with us.

The prediction of Isaiah hundreds of years earlier came alive: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him ‘Immanuel’”, meaning “God with us”. (Isaiah 7:14)

When Jesus came, he showed us how to put others first; how to care for the poor; how to love the outcasts; how to grip hope; how to look at selfishness and pride and see emptiness, and how to embrace selflessness and humility to know life; how to notice the things of this world, but to long for more; how to see that through him, we are offered a glorious means to God.

Jesus made a way – he didn’t have to, but chose to. To be with you. To be with me. To be with us. Immanuel. God with us. 

I pray this Christmas, even if we don’t feel it, that we would choose faith. Choose to believe that God is with us. That he loves us. That he came to this world through Jesus to be with us.

Let’s lift our eyes to the stars, and remember the great Star that led the Wise Men to Jesus. The star of hope, that says all will be okay because a Savior has been born to us.

And as the pace of the days attempts to quicken, let’s slow it down as Mary did by pondering and treasuring the moments. When the perfect morning we planned unravels, when the day turns out just as we hoped, when our kids argue incessantly, and when our kids play seamlessly, let’s ponder and treasure the moments. All is well because a Savior has been born to us.

Let’s celebrate that through it all, God is with us. Immanuel. As the stars shine above, let’s ponder and treasure Jesus, the king of kings, born in a manger to lead the way, to offer salvation, to give us life now and forever.

All is well because a Savior has indeed been born to us. He is Christ the Lord!  

Merry Christmas, friends!

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5 Refreshing Words as Christmas Approaches…

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I thought this was a great quote for us parents, reminding us to be goofy in the little things, instead of  grumpy. The quote is from Eric Blehm’s book, Fearless, and comes on the heels of a tough week.

48237142_2697996370226765_4012527411936624640_nMy son, Bates, got his tonsils and adenoids removed November 29th. Two weeks later during school, my girls ran across the hall where I was subbing, frantically saying Bates needed me. When I ran in Bates’ classroom, he was coughing up so much blood. It was awful. He continued doing this for fifteen minutes. I prayed for my sweet Bates as the ambulance approached, my heart racing. Thankfully, the bleeding slowed down a lot as the ambulance arrived.

At the hospital, we waited to see if he would need another surgery or if the bleeding would stop on its own. After a night at the hospital, the bleeding stopped. The ENT Doctor said that when the scab came off it probably opened up the artery. But his body fought hard to close it, and that’s when the bleeding stopped. Thank you, Lord! 48246017_2698289450197457_5017004779390369792_n

Even though that day was traumatic, I am amazed by Bates’ strength and good attitude dealing with everything. He is just about the happiest person I know.

Our daughter, Brooklyn, had to go to the ER a few days later because of not being able to hold anything down for three days. It was a long week, but I’m so thankful that Brooklyn, along with Christian, are doing great now! I’m so so grateful to our awesome friends who jumped in to help with meals, watching our kids, and praying.

I know you’ve had your difficult seasons too. When we go through these things, it sure puts a lot in perspective. It makes me want to treasure the small things and enjoy them. To be grateful and goofy with my kids, rather than grumpy.

After Mary gave birth to Jesus, it was as though she inhaled the moments in slow-motion. She reflected on the big and small moments, taking it all in. “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

Let’s also treasure the daily moments in our lives and walk in goofiness and gratefulness! 

 

A Fun “12-Days ’til Christmas” Countdown Activity!

0-3Have fun making a 12-Chain Link Christmas Countdown that creates the story of Jesus and has a question each day!

  1. Turn a paper sideways and cut 12 strips, or “chain links”, each one about 2” wide.
  2. Print out 12 parts to the story of Jesus that are at the bottom of this post. (It’s easier if you copy and paste them onto a Word document and then print them).
  3. Then, cut the story sentence strips out (MT 1, LK 1-2).
  4. Glue each sentence strip onto a colored “chain link”. On the opposite side, write what number it is to keep them in the correct order when you staple them together.
  5. Make a circle with sentence strip #12 and staple it closed.
  6. Weave sentence strip #11 through #12, and then staple it closed. Do this with all the “chain links” to make the “Chain Link Christmas Countdown”!
  7. Hang it on the wall, with #1 at the top. 0-1
  8. Each day, remove a chain link and read the story and answer the question. Then, tape it on the wall. If you start this countdown late, just pull several off in one day to catch up. On Christmas, you will have the 12 parts of the story of Jesus on the wall! Have fun reading it and see if your children can tell the story from memory, or even act it out!

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STORY SENTENCE STRIPS:

  1. Mary was engaged to Joseph, a righteous man. They would soon be married! (What do you think Joseph liked about Mary?)

 

  1. Gabriel, the shining angel, appeared to Mary in Nazareth announcing, “Greetings, you, who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Why do you think God was pleased with Mary?)

 

  1. Mary was scared when she saw the angel, but he said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” (So, why didn’t Mary need to be afraid?)

 

  1. The angel said, “You will give birth to a son and you are to name him Jesus (which means Savior) … for nothing is impossible with God.” (Why do you think the Son of God is named Jesus?)

 

  1. Mary knew it was an honor to carry God’s Son and said, “I am the Lord’s follower. May it be to me as you have said.” (How did Mary put God first? Do you think Mary was nervous at all or just excited?)

 

  1. Mary hurried to Elizabeth’s home and shared the exciting news. Mary said, “… the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name.” (How did Mary show her gratefulness to the Lord about carrying Jesus?)

 

  1. Mary and Elizabeth celebrated the great miracle together of Jesus coming into the world through Mary! (Who is a friend you like to celebrate special moments with like Mary celebrated with Elizabeth?)

 

  1. Later, Mary and Joseph traveled about 80 miles to Bethlehem for a Roman census, or counting. (These days, traveling 80 miles only takes a few hours if you’re riding in a car or bus. Back then, how long do you think the 80-mile trip would have taken riding on a donkey or walking?)

 

  1. Once Mary and Joseph arrived to Bethlehem, they were probably tired from the long trip. They searched for a place to rest so Mary could have her baby. (We’re getting closer to Jesus’ birthday! Yey!!! How do you think Mary was feeling at this point?)

 

  1. They searched for a place to stay, but there were not enough rooms in the inns. Jesus would soon be coming into the world. They had to find a place soon. (Where do you think they stayed?)

 

  1. It was now Christmas Eve, and Mary would soon have Jesus. They eventually found a manger for Jesus to lay in after he was born. A manger is a trough, or long open box, where animals would eat from. (Since God could have Jesus, our Savior, anywhere, why do you think he chose a manger?)

 

  1. On Christmas day, Jesus was born! Mary wrapped him in cloths and placed him in the manger. Jesus was also called Immanuel which means “God with us”. God loved us so much that he came to earth to be with us through Jesus. (What is one way you can celebrate Jesus’ birthday today?) One idea is to bake a cake to celebrate his birthday together! Merry Christmas!!!

 

 

The Wise Words of a Young Widow

FF_pic01I met Jennifer at a writing conference last summer. She lost her husband when she was only 36 years old with two young kids. I asked her the best way to support widows, and she shared these memorable words:

“Aside from serving, just sit and listen to her; for many of us, we want and need to talk about our husbands, our kids, our hopes, our dreams, our fears. But, after time goes by, people stop asking and assume it’s time for us to ‘move on’. Check in with your friend emotionally and be a ‘heart with ears’ for her. Asking and listening are things people tend to stop doing as time passes.”

With George H.W. Bush passing on, many of us have probably reflected on our own lives. Repeatedly, people said he led a life of humility and love. In what ways can we also lead with humility and love? How can we point our kids to loving in this way?

Making meals (with our kids) for friends going through difficult times, watching their kids for them, and sharing stories of Jesus loving first, are just a few ways our children can see what it means to ​love. And, as Jennifer said: Be a “heart with ears” so our friends know they are not walking alone​, but that we are in it with them. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Jesus

To all of you missing a loved one this holiday season, just like Jennifer, we remember you. To another young widow, Kelly, who lost her husband in service to our country, we remember you and are praying for you also. I pray the Lord would comfort each of you, show you his love in an unexpected way, and fill you with his presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.

You can read about Kelly and Adam’s inspiring story in their book, “Fearless”. THIS day, let’s choose to love the Lord with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds, and love our neighbors as ourselves. Today, who can you surprise by loving them in a simple way? “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa.