Observations At The Traffic Light

Cold Traffic Light

 

I wasn’t looking for a lesson or asking God to speak to me, He just showed up. What a crazy God we serve. Showing up in the every day like that. He’s so conspicious sometimes. It’s like He made the universe and loves each detail of my life or something.  Gotta love a God like that!

It’s no secret that I do not appreciate cold weather. I try to embrace it, really I do. It’s just that it’s so, well, cold! I’ve really been leaning on God this Winter and praying to find ways to appreciate it. So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise when I woke up that morning, the sun was shining and I just marveled at the frost patterns on the door of my car. Such delicate handiwork! I stood in awe over the way the sun filtered it’s way through the leafless trees clinging to the cold stoney mountain by my house. I was breathtaken at the way the mist rose silently from the creek as I drove over the bridge taking my girls to school. It was a freezing cold morning and I was enjoying every cold thing about it.

Those are the moments. Those moments when our hearts are open and we can appreciate His goodness. Those are the moments God waits for! It’s then that He takes his chance and speaks.

I was sitting at the stoplight among all the other frazzled and hurried drivers. All of us waiting on the light to change so we could continue to be busy at our jobs. I had my music on and was enjoying the moment, glad to be appreciating the wonder of the cold instead of cursing it. And I thought to my self, “Even the exhaust from the cars around me is beautiful in the cold.”

Have you ever noticed that? Have you ever noticed that when you’re sitting still at a stoplight the vapor just rises and almost seems to envelope everything around it. The mystery is when the light changes and we are able to move again. That’s when the mist disappears.

I am sure there is some science behind all of this. No doubt you could sit down and explain it all to me. But I wouldn’t listen. I don’t care, really. That’s because the lesson I learned that morning is far more important to me.

When I am still. When I am waiting. When I’m not driving around from one thing to the next. That is when I can actually SEE the Spirit move. That’s when I can almost reach out and touch Him.

When the light turned green and we all began to move again, it was as if the mist was left behind. It couldn’t be seen anymore. It wasn’t obvious that it was there. Although, it had to be there or all those cars were not functioning properly. Just like me. I simply cannot function properly without the Spirit there with me.

What would happen if we all just stopped for awhile and took the chance to notice the Spirit and how He moves? What if we just allowed ourselves to become enveloped around and through us? What if we could just be still long enough to hear His voice. What if we cared less about the destination and more about what God is doing here and now?

I think the answers to those questions would change the world and how we live in it.

 

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This Little Light Of Theirs

Every morning is the same. Get up. Shower. Make the lunches. Search for lost permission forms. Argue over who needs to feed the helpless dog. Referee sister fights. Peck my family on their precious cheeks. Dash out the door and pray we all return home safely to play the same game tomorrow.

Sometimes after I drop my children off at school slivers of worry begin to creep into my thoughts. I worry about the things they will see and hear from their peers. I worry about things they might be asked to do. And sadly, I worry for their safety. It’s such a scary world. I wish I could always be there to guard them from it.

I always tell my kids that good grades are wonderful, and I always expect them to do their best academically. They are both great students. However, the subject I am most concerned about on their report cards is conduct. No one is going to remember a ‘D’ in the 5th grade as much as they will remember how you behaved. They know this. Before my children get out of the car each morning I tell them 3 little words that I hope they listen to more than anything else.

“Be a light!”

My words are generally met with, “Ok.” Sometimes I get an “I’ll try.” But most of the time I wonder if they ever really heard me at all. I get that what I  am asking them to do everyday is probably the hardest thing any mother could ask of her child. Stand up for Jesus! Be a light in this very dark world! Have you watched the news lately? They are fighting a fight I never even had to imagine as a child. It’s hard for me to do it as an adult! Surely my 10-year-old must feel defeated so many times. And I wonder if she even gets it. I wonder if any of what I am trying to teach her and her sister is sinking in at all. I wonder if her little light just gets hidden under that bushel because she’s so young and this world is so incredibly oppressive. And that mother’s worry turns to defeat in my own eyes when I think of all the things my children see and don’t even tell me. It’s enough for me to want to quit motivating them each morning.

But my God is a God of such delightful encouragement. He loves to wink at me and sneak little blessings across the table if only I will glance His way.

The other night I went to tuck Lucy into bed and kiss her goodnight. She was busy rewriting spelling words for her test the next morning, so I didn’t linger. I just kissed her forehead, told her I was proud of her for studying and reminded her not to stay up too late. That’s when I noticed the word she had written in the margin of her practice sheet.Lucy's List

God.

She wrote it twice as if she had been meditating on His precious name and daydreaming of His sweet love. Perhaps she was praying and needed Him for something. Either way, He was on her mind and it was a precious gift to see it happen. I didn’t say a word to her about it and just left her room thankful for the fostering strength that maybe I might be doing something right. Maybe she does get it after all. Maybe she is listening.

Since God never stops working, and He is so gracious, He wasn’t finished reminding me not to give up on trying to instill faith in my children.

As you know from reading my last post, Abby Faith went on a youth trip last week. One of her sweet leaders sent me a picture of her during a worship time. To my knowledge she has never raised her arms in praise like that before and it brought tears to my eyes to see her lost in passion for the Lord. I mentioned it to a friend of mine and said I thought it was so great that she felt she could do that when she thought no one was watching. My friend’s wise response was, “Or that she didn’t care who was!”Abby Worship

Maybe you feel discouraged today. Maybe you haven’t noticed God winking at you in a long time. Maybe it seems like your kids just don’t care about anything you are trying to teach them. I just want to remind you that God never promised that raising your kids would be easy and it’s a life-long project. But he did promise in Proverbs 22:6 that if we are faithful about training up our children, even on the hard days and those days you think it’s not sinking in, when they are grown they will not depart from it.

And maybe one day they might even thank you.

 

I’d love to hear some of your stories about how your children inspire you. Let me know in the comments below.

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5 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Her Without Speaking A Word

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Abby Faith is on a youth trip this weekend which gave Cooper and I extra time with Lucy to do whatever she wanted to do. I could have planned the whole day for her without asking her first. Shopping! Naturally. She wanted to go out to lunch at the mall and then hit the clearance racks at the local department store. It’s better than the movies, skating, bowling and ice-cream all on the same day to Lucy. So we piled in the car and headed to the mall. It was a really great day together and we were able to find some really nice things at really great prices. Always a win!

Lucy gives the best hugs. She gets it from her daddy. So after we got home I hugged her and asked her if she knew that I loved her. She said, “Yes, because you buy me things.” That may seem shallow to you, but I know my daughter and I know that her love language is gifts. This weekend I spoke her love language which filled up her love tank to where she felt the most loved by me.

Maybe you are familair with the concept of love languages with your significant other and maybe you speak it well. But each one of us has a love language and it’s important to learn what it is in our relationships so they will flourish. This is true even with our children. It would be a travesty for me to think I was conveying love to my child the entire 18 years she’s under my roof only to learn that she spoke a different language and never understood that I truly love her. So, I’ve honed in and asked questions to determine what language my children speak. Whenever I ask Abby Faith how she knows that I love her, the answer is always the same; “Because you do things with me and take the time to listen to me.” Her’s is quality time. So whenever she comes to me with a middle school issue I make sure to turn off all gadgets and focus only on her. We also schedule dates together just the two of us where she will talk. my. ear. off! That is generally the only time when she’ll open up that way to me. She knows I’m all her’s for a couple hours or so.

How can you figure out your child’s love language? It might be a little difficult to pinpoint. And keep in mind that she may speak more than one.  Below is a list of the 5 love languages and ways you can begin to determine which one your child speaks.

Quality Time:  If your child is always asking for your attention, wants to show you something or opens up the most when it’s just the two of you she might speak quality time.

  • Plan a date at least once a month and don’t let anything else interfere with it. Let your child choose where to go and what to do (within your budget). If your child likes surprises, plan something you think she’ll like and do it! Be flexible with this and have fun! You only get 18 years!
  • Spend at least 10 minutes each day alone with your child. Don’t have your phone with you or any other gadget unless she’s showing you the most hilarious YouTube video she’s ever seen over and over and over again. Not that I would know what that’s like!
  • Be prepared to drop whatever you are doing when she says, “Mom, can we talk?” Those moments are priceless and rare. But they do happen. Especially if you’ve been intentional with speaking her language in the passed. She’ll know she can come to you and you will listen.

Gifts: Birthdays, Christmas and what she’s getting for Valentine’s day really matter to her. Even more so, she loves to give gifts to others. She is thoughtful about her gift-giving and excited about what others are getting too. Even the smallest things mean a lot if it is heartfelt. It may seem materialistic, but spoken the right way it’s a very loving language.

  • Buy something your child has been needing, i.e. a new hairbrush, new jeans or a new pair of shoes and wrap them up for her to find on her bed when she gets home from school.
  • Items from the grocery store can be a gift if you announce, “Lucy, I bought Cheerios for you today because I know you love them.” (With cut up bananas! Mmm!)
  • Budget for small “I love you” gifts throughout the year. It doesn’t always have to be “no” when shopping at Target. (But it also shouldn’t always be “yes!” More on that in an upcoming post).

Acts of Service: Your child loves to do for others and she’s constantly thinking of ways to help you.

  • Do her laundry for her one day while she’s at school or let her out of doing the dishes one night. (Yes, your children should have these regular chores).
  • Help her clean her room one Saturday so she can hurry the process and move on to the fun part of the day.
  •  Set out her breakfast for her so it’s easier for her to make the next day. Help her pack her backpack when you see she’s running late. Ask her where she could use the most help and then do it.

Physical Touch: Your child is always hugging you, kissing you, and needing to be in your lap. She always wants her neck rubbed, back scratched, or just wants to hold your hand. They can’t ever seem to get enough of your touch. This one is easy.

  •  Hug your kid! Hug your kid a lot! Those 18 years are ticking away.

Words of Affirmation: She is always looking for your approval. Did she do a good job? Do you like it, Mom? What do you think about this or that? And she’s always telling you that she loves you.

  • Tell her that you love her. It’s never too many times. I heard a woman at the mall this weekend telling her child in almost every sentence that she loved her. At first I thought it was kinda overkill, but then I thought, maybe that mom is clued in to her kid’s love language. She’d say, “I love you, but we have to go.” And her child would say, “But I love you better!”
  • Tell her that she looks beautiful today! Especially when she first wakes up. Tell. Her!
  • Even when she’s made you mad, give her a list of reasons why you think she’s fabulous. “I can’t believe you made an ‘F’ in Algebra! But what a good job you did in English!”

Keep in mind that even if your child mainly speaks one language she understands them all and still needs you to speak them all every now and then.

What is your child’s love language and how are some ways you speak it? I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.

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Memories Fall Like Tears

 

When I was a little girl I was lucky enough to be able to live at my Grandmother’s house for a year. My parents may have thought it was the most unlucky of days since we were living there because my Dad had been laid off. We were in limbo. But I didn’t care. What kid would? I got to live with my Grandma! And she was the best there was.

I can remember getting off the bus after school just in front of her tiny two bedroom house in Idaho and enjoying something delicious she had made for a snack. Almost always it was something chocolate. She loved chocolate! And I don’t know how she always managed to fit us all in her kitchen for dinner, but I always looked forward to whatever she was cooking. Her house may have been small, but her lot was HUGE. Countless days I’d wander all over that property playing Little House on the Prairie while feeding her chickens, climbing trees, or pulling fresh raspberries straight off the bushes and stuffing them in my mouth. Oh, how my mouth waters just thinking of all the berries I snuck out of her garden!

Summer nights were my favorite. Her little house did not have central air so it was more comfortable to eat dinner outside on the picnic table. Afterward, my brother and I would swing from the willow tree branches or ride our bikes until the sun went down. Exhausted from a long day of play, we didn’t argue about having to climb the stairs into her attic to sleep. We shared the space as a bedroom during that time and I can remember peering out the window pretending to be a princess locked in a castle many nights.

My grandmother was a musician too. Her baby grand piano took over her crowded living room. It was definitely not made for such a little space, but she was definitely made to play. I could listen to her play for hours. And she did. I would sit next to her on the bench while she played and I used to think that all she needed to do was glide her fingers over the keys and they would do as she commanded. She would never allow me to bang on the keys like many children do. I had to be intentional about what I was making up in my head. But she never turned me down if I asked to play it. Many afternoons when I got home from school she would give me a lesson and patiently wait as I tried to learn the notes. She taught me many things, but the appreciation of music is probably what I am most grateful for. To this day, I love a good piano piece and can’t help but think of her when I listen to it.

As with all good things, my time living with her came to an end. My dad got a job that moved us all the way to Alabama. I was only nine at the time. Old enough to protest. Too young for it to matter. My family would go visit most Summers. But it was never like being able to be spoiled rotten every single day. I wish I had held on a little more tightly to that time of my life. I wish I had appreciated my grandma’s cooking, her laugh and the way she loved the simple things.

She died two Summer’s ago while living with my aunt in upstate New York. She was 96 years old. And as was typical of her life there was little fanfare. No funeral. No memorial service. Her body was cremated and sent to be buried in her church cemetery in Idaho. Preceded in death by my grandfather, her home was cleaned out and most of it sold off. Including her piano.

I’m not really one who loves things, but I am pretty sentimental. And like my grandmother taught me, it’s the simple gestures, the thoughtful moments that fill up a life. So the other day when I got a small unexpected package from my aunt it piqued my interest. I hadn’t heard from my aunt in years. Anything could have been inside that envelope.

When I opened it up, I couldn’t believe how fast I could fall in love with something I didn’t even know I wanted. It was my Grandma’s handkerchief from the 1950’s. A friend of her’s had given it to her and even stitched her name in the corner. Helen.

The tears fell freely from my eyes. I blubbered like a baby. It was probably the sweetest gift anyone had ever thought to give me. Suddenly all the awkward piano lessons, raspberry-flavored summers,  and freshly baked cookies were set before me in my lap. I could feel my grandmother’s love wrap around my shoulders and I could smell her Avon perfume. It may have been just a hanky to my aunt who was cleaning out a box in her attic. But what she really gave me was one more moment with my grandma and a tangible way to remember that the smallest things in our lives mean the most.

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One Word Three Ways

3203975035_28b1119bbb_qPlanning is not something I enjoy. I do it because life pretty much requires it to some degree, but I pretty much just go through my days and take them as they come. And I pray my family survives it all. Sure, I schedule things and have a routine. I plan my meals out a week at a time. (And when I remember to take the meat out of the freezer that plan works better). I plan events and hope for the best. But life in general? I’m pretty spontaneous. I do weekends based on my mood. I do just about anything based on my mood. Maybe that’s the preschooler living inside my head.

I turn 40 this year. I’m getting pretty darn close to the halfway point of this earthly life of mine. My children also are not getting any younger. My oldest starts high school this year! (Eek!) So, I’ve really been thinking that I don’t want my days to just slip away and leave me holding her cap and gown in 4 years wondering where they went. Anxiety has begun to creep in.

Then I read somewhere on my favorite news outlet, Facebook, about claiming one word for the new year. Instead of a resolution that, let’s face it, will never be resolved, people are claiming a one word theme for the new year to transform their lives. One word? That doesn’t seem too overwhelming. Doesn’t sound like I will have to do much planning around that. I like it! Sign me up!

However, I feel like the word churning around in my brain is just a fancy word for planning. What do you think?

Intentional

That’s the word I can’t put down. Not love (my personal favorite and would be so easy). Not shopping (a close second), or writing, or rest. Nothing that sounds all that fun to work through. Intentional. It’s so broad and narrows things down perfectly at the same time.

Intentional with how I share my love.

Love is a decision we make, after all. There are too many people in this world to truly be able to love them and love them well. I tend to think it’s my resposibility to love ALL my neighbors as myself. But that is humanly impossible. And that is pretty much what I am. Impossibly human. So, I need to be intentional with the love I share. God has intentionally placed certain people in my life. My response should be to intentionally love them. This should begin with my husband and children and echo out to my closest family and friends. Intentionally loving those closest to me will allow more energy to love those neighbors too. However, I am still at a bit of a loss as to how I will accomplish this. Does it look like time? Acts of service? I’ll be working on this and get back to you. It is just the first week of the new year after all!

Intentional with my money.

I shared a couple of posts ago in Why I’m Sitting In God’s Time-Out Chair that I kinda got a little too relaxed with my family’s resources. I was selfish for several months and didn’t tithe and used the money for worthless things. I truly believe the lack of financial peace I experienced during those months was due to being disciplined. So this year I will be intentional with my family budget and our tithe. That is all. I expect God to handle the rest!

Intentional with my blog.

I am still not sure where this will go, but I feel God is telling me to rev up for a wild year in 2016 when it comes to this blog. I feel he is asking me to spend more time writing and being intentional with what I share with you. I am not guaranteeing that things will always make sense around here. But often what God asks us to do doesn’t make sense at all.

 

Tell me what you think! What is one word you could use to make 2016 better than ever?

How can I be intentional with loving my loved ones? How do you do it?

Have intenional money ideas?

What would you like to see at TrueBEDtimestories this year?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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