Saturday, October 30, 2010

All In A Weeks Work!:)

One thing that someone told me many years ago is that, often, a child's work IS his play! Through "play" they learn to explore the world around them, they learn to interact with other's in a way that honors God, and they learn to imitate their creative God by being creative themselves!

Of course, there is plenty of work to be done in our house, too! I need their help to keep our home up and running instead of just getting "run down". But I also LOVE seeing them play!!! I love hearing them giggle! I love it when they interact with each other in ways other than yelling, arguing, tattle-tailing, and blame shifting (and yes, all those things abound in our house, too!). So, here are a few pictures to give you a glimpse into the kids week of play!
Our kids have been watching the "Love Comes Softly" series the last couple of weeks (think Little House on the Prairie) and now they are spending their time recreating the days of wagons, bonnets, and sheriffs! Grace is the one who orchestrates the "events" to be played out and Faith, Titus, and Caleb are usually more than willing to comply (as long as Titus gets to be the sheriff!).


Nothing like knowing that our "teacher" is coming for her twice a year visit on Monday to get this non-crafty mom into high gear on a craft!:)


I got this dog treat recipe off of "All Recipes" and not only does Tessie love it...but it's a great "cooking" lesson for the kids...I don't have to worry about it turning out inedible and the kids love to cut out the dog bone shapes!


Faith blessed my heart one day after her school work was done by taking all our flannographs and setting up scenes of major events from the Bible...from the birth of Jesus till he ascended back into Heaven...it was just great and everything was in the right order!:)


"And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets."
Zechariah 8:5

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween


I knew just the title would make you wonder what I was going to write about this subject!:) Actually, I am going to let someone else write for me as I believe her article was better than anything I could have said and at the "heart" of the issue! You can read the article in "color" by clicking HERE or you can just read it below! Happy reading and praying!

October 31 . . . A Matter of Prayer

As a child growing up in a Roman Catholic family during the 1960s, we celebrated Halloween. That is to say, on October 31, we cobbled together homemade costumes of sad hobos, friendly ghosts, and fierce pirates so we could run from one house to another shouting “Trick or Treat!” as we gathered lots of candy.

I remember trading the less desirable pieces (peanut butter chews wrapped in orange or black waxed paper, homemade popcorn balls, and boring plain suckers) for something more exciting, like Smarties or Peanut Butter Logs or Tootsie Rolls with my trusting younger brothers. I always spent hours sorting my candy that night and always saved the best for last . . . some years my sweets stash lasted until the next autumn, hidden away on the top shelf of my closet. It was just a fun and innocent day in October, and I remember being sad when as a 7th grader, I deemed myself “too old” to go trick or treating anymore.

After I came to faith, after Bob and I were married and began having babies in the 1980s, I saw things differently. Now I could see that, perhaps, there was a darker side to Halloween—an evil aspect, even satanic overtones and influences. We decided that we would not celebrate this day. That our children would not go door to door. That if we happened to be home, we would turn off all the lights “that night,” and stay busy in the back of the house. We went to many “Hallelujah Fests,” Fall Family Fun nights, and Reformation celebrations—all of which were very much enjoyed by our game-playing, candy-eating, Bible-costumed children.

Tonight at dinner, we said to our youngest, David, “Do you wish you'd been allowed to go trick or treating as a child?” He responded that it didn't bother him at the time, but looking back, he thinks it might have been fun. (This child of ours likes to create costumes and craves candy, even at the age of 16.) I haven't asked, but I imagine our other children would agree with him. (Not that I'm suggesting that children set the standards for the family.)

And now I wonder . . . would we do things differently, if we had it to do over? Maybe. Our children do have fond memories of our October 31 family outings, but could we have—should we have—not for the sake of our children, necessarily, done something to engage those who knocked at the door of our well-lit house? Should we have handed out winsomely written gospel tracts with our candy? Could we have served hot cider for the adults as they supervised their children's fun? Maybe it would have been wise to walk the neighborhood with our kids in order to interact with those who live nearby?

So, what do you think? What will your family do this October 31st? Many Christians see Halloween as an evening of harmless fun for their children--a day for make believe and candy and a “Romans 14” issue. Others have strong personal convictions that it is wrong to acknowledge Halloween in any way. There is a very real, unseen evil presence in our world, and their view is that we should have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Eph. 5:11).

What you choose to do is a decision for moms and dads to prayerfully consider. And whatever you decide, be humble, charitable and gracious with sisters and brothers who come to a different conclusion than yours. By God's grace, we're all learning, processing, and growing, in many different ways--including this area of costumes and candy. -Mary Ann Lepine

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Unity Amid Diversity


Yesterday I wrote about the diversity we had amongst the group of ladies and how amazing it was to see all that diversity come together in love for each other because of their love for Christ. It was just beautiful!

But diversity doesn't always look so beautiful. In fact, diversity can divide like oil mixed in water and result in broken relationships (or non-existent relationships), hurt feelings, wrong assumptions, bitterness, and serious disunity amongst the very people who are supposed to make up one body...the body of Christ. And it can happen even after a wonderful weekend like we all just had!

The church of Corinth was struggling with division due to diversity (and division due to blatant sin, too)....eating or not eating food offered to idols, remaining single or getting married, looking up to one leader over another, spiritual gifts, etc...and it was causing massive problems. Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes without giving consideration to those around them...they were not having "the same care for one another"(I Cor. 12:25) and seeking the "good of his neighbor" (I Cor. 10:24) because they were not living "for the sake of the gospel" (I Cor. 9:23)and the "glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

Those divisions due to (non-sinful) diversity can creep up in our lives, relationships, and churches, too. Breastfed vs. bottlefed, schedule vs. demand fed, skirts vs. pants, King James Version vs. New American Standard, glass of wine vs. abstaining, home school vs. sending kids to school, public school vs. private school, choruses vs. hymns, TV vs. no TV, and I could go on and on! Though none of these decisions are sinful in and of themselves, in each of these decisions lies the potential for sin to occur regardless of what "side" we fall on. Because, ultimately, the Lord is concerned with the HEART! He is concerned with WHY we do what we do. He is concerned about WHERE our eyes are fixed. He is concerned that we make it our AIM to glorify Him (I Cor. 10:31) and adorn the gospel (Titus 2) in everything we do. He is concerned that, as we seek to follow His will for our lives and the lives of our families, we have NO DOUBT..."for the one who doubts is like a wave tossed by the wind...for that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8)

There is sweet freedom in our (non-sinful) choices as long as our pursuit is to hold high the Word of Truth and display the glories of Christ as women! Each of us must "set the Lord before us", "walk wisely" and "make the best use of our time". We must all "examine our hearts" and "take our thoughts captive to obey Christ". We must "delight in God's statutes", "meditate on His precepts and fix our eyes on His ways" as we "ponder" and "examine" our own ways.

And, then, we must stand confidently on the path we believe the Lord is calling us to walk without doubting..."for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught"(Proverbs 3:26)

"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised." Hebrews 10:35-36

But PLEASE note that being confident does not equal being right and all others being wrong. It just means that you have the joy and peace of knowing you are following what you believe to be God's best for YOUR family!

Diversity does not have to lead to disunity. Diversity can be an absolutely beautiful thing when it is held together by threads of love....a love that is patient and kind, not envying, boasting, arrogant or rude. A love that does not insist on it's own way and is not irritable or resentful. A love that does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. A love that bears with, believes, hopes, and endures all things. A love that never fails because it comes from the One who will never fail!

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING!!!!

After writing the above, I listened to a 25 minute "message" about "true womanhood" which pieced together last week's "True Woman Conference" a ministry of "Revive Our Hearts". It was so AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL and ENCOURAGING and so much at the heart of all that I just wrote above!!! I know I can't make you listen :)...but, if I could, I would hand deliver this to all of you, make up a couple of Starbucks Via Ready Brews, and listen with you! Yep...it's that great...and it whets your appetite for more of the conference which can be listened to online!!! Click HERE to get to the page and then click on the LISTEN tab and you'll have your options of how to hear this great message. I downloaded it to my Itouch and jumped on my treadmill...I was so excited listening that I walked faster than I ever have before!:) Really!:)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend Away Part 2


Before I left for the retreat I was reading in Hebrews chapter 11 and the following verses were my prayer for this past weekend:

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:19-25


My heart was so blessed to see that prayer answered! Hope in Jesus was so very evident on the faces of the ladies this weekend and, as a result, we were able to encourage one another. Pain is real, trials are real, hurt is real...but we can have an unwavering hope IN the Lord that leads to joy and an ability to stir up one another to love and good works!

The diversity of the group was just amazing...from college gals to great-grandmas, with "homelands" that span the globe and interests and hobbies that differ greatly. Women who had been going to Cloverdale for over 30 years and women who had been at the church less than 6 months. Yet, at any point, you could have looked around and saw all of the above mingling together, sitting next to each other, talking, laughing, praying or hugging because we had one thing...one relationship...in common that placed us in the same beautiful family and united our hearts with the same amazing love....our relationship with Jesus Christ.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28


One prayer of mine coming off of the retreat is that God would use this past weekend to grow more "Titus 2" relationships. That the sweet unity that was so evident on the retreat would "wiggle it's way" into the fabric of our everyday lives and that we all, as women, would just bless the socks off each other as we continue to "have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind" with and for each other!(1 Peter 3:8)


"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" Psalm 133:1


P.S. Anyone have some pictures I can add to the blog?:)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Weekend Away

I am home from a weekend away with the women of our church (90 of them, that is!). It was simply wonderful and I can't wait to share more this week! For now, though, you have to see this clip that was shown at our last session. It's beautifully unique and sums up what the cry of all of our hearts should be!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Visits, Puzzles and Limoring


The second half of last week flew bye in a big blur...thankfully, I still managed to snap a few pictures that were not blurry!:)

My brother Paul came and spent a couple of days with us. I was so blessed by his servant's heart towards my kids. One day he took the boys out for donuts and the next day he took the girls on an ice cream date! He played games with them, wrestled with them, and loved on them! He even took on the project of turning the doors on my fridge to the other direction! A huge blessing when it comes to the dynamics of my kitchen!:)

Most of us came down with colds last week, too, so it ended up being a weekend of laying low. God often seems to use sickness to slow us down!:) Faith and I (with some help from the rest of the gang) took on the challenge of doing every puzzle in the house!:) She was much more dedicated than I was...but it was a fun endeavor.


Bryan's creative mind was in overdrive and he used an old sled and made "skim boards" out of it. The idea was that if we couldn't go to the beach...the beach would come to our living room. He has named the activity of skim boarding in the living room "limoring" and the kids have been having a blast skimming across the floor (especially Titus and Grace). And I fell in love with him a little bit more as I watched him serve, play,and enjoy our kids!
So much to be thankful for this side of Heaven!!!!
video

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Call of Motherhood

It's 7:30 pm and I am exhausted!! This is the first time I have "sat down" since 6 am this morning. It's times like this where quotes like the following encourage my heart and remind me of the high calling God has given me in motherhood!

Webster’s defines call as a "a divine vocation or strong inner prompting to a particular course of action." In every generation mothers must answer the call to be what no one else can be and to do what no one else can do for their children. It isn’t that mothers can’t do and be many other things, but if they refuse to accept their calling as mothers, some child ends up short-changed. The empty space that mother leaves echoes for generations. -Jean Fleming "A Mother's Heart"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hodge-Podge of Great Stuff!

Here are some things to check out, watch, read, and ponder this weekend!

-"Every single thing that happens to us expresses God's love to us, and comes to us for the furthering of God's purpose for us. Thus, so far as we are concerned, God is love to us--holy, omnipotent love--at every moment and in every event of every day's life. Even when we cannot see the why and the wherefore of God's dealings, we know that there is love in and behind them, and so we can rejoice always, even when, humanly speaking, things are going wrong. We know that the true story of our life, when known, will prove to be, as the hymn says, "mercy from first to last" -- and we are content."

-J.I. Packer, Knowing God p. 123 (thank you Girl Talk for posting this!)


-I came across a blog a couple of weeks ago, spent some time going back to read the last month of posts to get a feel for it and walked away encouraged, teary, blessed, rebuked and so excited to pass it on to you in case you have not found it already. It's the "True Women" blog (all on Biblical Womanhood)...a ministry of Revive our Hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss). Right now they are in the middle of a conference...so the blog posts are about the conference...they are worth reading and so is anything else you dig up from the archives!!!!

-If you are looking for a movie to watch with your kids, I'd highly recommend "The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry" a christian film that is just precious! And, if your kids are like my kids, you might just want to go ahead and buy it because they will want to watch it more than once!:)

-"Life is full of hidden rocks, sudden violent winds of circumstances lying in wait for the believer. Every single one of them is embraced in James' word it. There is no trial, no great calamity or small pressure, no overwhelming sorrow or small rub of life outside that plan of God, whereby it is a stepping stone to glory. And it is for this reason that our settled conviction must be to appraise it as all joy, not because it is joyful in itself (for 'all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant' [Heb. 12:11] when it is in full flood), but because 'later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness' (Heb. 12:11). In James' words, it is the only way forward to become perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Alec Motyer
(Thanks again Girl Talk blog for posting this one too!)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Our School Day in a Nut Shell


Okay...here is our school day in a nut shell. Please know that I don't share these things with you because I think I am doing it the best way, the only way, or the wisest way. There are more ways to home school than there are recipes for chocolate chip cookies (okay, maybe not quite!) and this is just the way that is working for us. Having said that, we have come across some "resources" that I think are just great and worth passing on to you (even if you don't homeschool)!

We start out our school day around 8:30 am with about a 1/2 hour of penmanship (we are using Horizons Penmanship) and creative writing. I make the kids write 4-6 sentences about whatever question I ask them. For example, if it's raining outside I might say, "Tell me about your favorite things to do in the rain" or "If you could pick, would you rather have it raining outside or sunny and why?".

Around 9 am we take time for Bible (they also have Bible in their SOS curriculum). This is where I get so excited! We listen for about 10 minutes (about 2 chapters) to the Bible (New Testament) being "dramatically" read. The version is the ICB (International Children's Bible) which Bryan and I think is a great children's version. I found the CD set of the whole NT for $20 on CBD and I am SO PLEASED! It's amazing how the Bible comes alive through dramatic reading. Women playing the parts of women, sounds of the sea waves hitting the boat when Jesus was fast asleep, etc... It's been a special way to start each day!

Then we head over to my computer to sing along with YouTube.:) I found a "Books of the Bible" song...you might think it's a bit corny...but I relied too heavily on AWANA to teach my kids the books of the Bible and since the kids haven't been in AWANA for a couple of years...I knew I needed to do something about it! I want them following along with the messages on Sunday mornings!

Then it's on to school till 10:30. The kids do their SOS (Switched on Schoolhouse)which, by the way, I have become a huge fan of! It's working great for our family!!! Titus and Caleb work on their math. Once again, I am so tickled with the new program we are using for them...Math U See. They are "taught" by a teacher on a DVD and they are always using manipulatives which I think is extra great for boys!

At 10:30 we break for stretching, exercises, snacks, and reading. I have this cool old book from when I was growing up called "My Magnificent Machine". All 52 chapters (only one or two pages long each) talk about different parts of our body and how they work and why we need them...from a Biblical perspective. It's biology in a nutshell!:)

It's back to school after that...the kids continue wherever they left off on their computers (and that includes a typing lesson!) and the little men move on to Language Arts...I am using "Explode the Code" and love the simplicity but also the depth of it! I am also reading through "History for Little Pilgrims" with them. It's by Christian Liberty Press and by far my favorite way to learn history..because the basis is that history is HIS STORY...how God has worked in the lives of men, nations and the world to accomplish His purposes.

There are days when everyone is done by noon but, more days than not for some, it seems to go longer into the afternoon than I would like. The Lord uses those days (and they come often) to remind me that my days are not filled with MY time...it's the Lord's time!

Having said that, I often find my nerves frazzled and my brain mushy by the afternoon. I have tried to just "push through it" and keep going but often that leads to irritability and sin on my part. So, I am being extra diligent to take at least 30 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea and read or go walking on the treadmill.

The kids have music lessons/practice in the afternoon, chores that have to be done, and chapter reading to complete...but they still find plenty of time to play...whether it's turning our backyard into a mud bowl, begging to play the Wii or Playstation, trading hockey cards, or turning our house into a variety of play acting scenes...the most recent has been the border crossing. Titus and Caleb have decked themselves out in "cop gear" complete with Nerf dart guns and then they have fun detaining unsuspecting citizens (i.e. Grace) and making life a bit difficult for them!:) Grace has also missed Linnea so much that she has turned one of her babies into a miniature Linnea...complete with a diaper bag packed with all that was in Linnea's diaper bag. Grace's Linnea has a schedule and everything...eat, wake, sleep time...it's a riot!

So, that is life...or what we aim for each day! Most of all, I am learning to aim for the glory of God in everything we do and above all things! It's so easy to fix my hopes on a plan or schedule...only to have things not go how I planned in some way or another just about every day...leaving me joyless and frustrated! But, in Christ, there is FULLNESS of joy and pleasures forevermore!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!



Yep, you heard it right! Thanksgiving is a wee bit earlier in Canada than the United States. Monday was the official holiday but we celebrated it on Sunday with friend from church!

I'll be honest, it does feel a bit weird to be celebrating a month and a half early. I am used to putting up my Christmas decorations Thanksgiving weekend but I think Bryan would just about kill me and all my new friends would think I am a bit crazy if I were to attempt that right now! Every year, I have had a competition with a friend in California as to which one of us can get up our Christmas decorations first after Thanksgiving...Wendy...I am winning this year for sure!:)

We had a lovely day with friends, ate from a 28 pound turkey:) and enjoyed so many yummy side dishes! Thanks so much, Baergs for opening up your home to our whole gang!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our Decade Old Son!


It's hard to believe that Micah is 10 years old! I can still remember sitting in the theater watching "Remember the Titans" and leaning over to tell Bryan that we probably needed to head to the hospital soon because the contractions kept coming. We made it through the movie, though, of course!:)

Micah was born October 3rd...one year and one day after his older brother went home to be with Jesus. He was a tiny little bundle of perfect baby...and his weight of 6 pounds 8 ounces makes for a beautiful "life verse" (Micah 6:8):

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

From the time Micah was 9 months old until about the age of 5, he loved anything but kindness. He was a little boy full of anger and a desire for his own way at any cost. I remember him hitting me hard with his hands at 9 months old because the food on the spoon that I was trying to feed him was not what he wanted. He constantly had bruises on his forehead his first few years of life from banging his head on the crib because he was upset to be in bed. I could tell story after story...many I can tell with laughter today but there were many tears during those first 5 years. In fact, the tears came almost daily as my son seemed to be so much more than I could handle and I couldn't help but wonder if he would, sooner than later, disqualify his daddy from being in ministry.

I do not share those things in any way to make my dear Micah look bad or to take something as special as his birthday and turn it into a "bash session". But, I share what I share to say that God's grace is SO amazing(and if this is YOUR story right now with one of your kids...don't grow weary or lose heart...God is at work even when it feels like He is not!). Micah is not the same boy he was 5 years ago and I am not the same mommy that I was 5 years ago. We both have grown in the grace and knowledge of God and we both have been refined through the fire of trials.

I remember being on the phone with my mom almost 8 years ago, teary from another tough day of parenting my son and she said, "Kristin, God does not call you to produce fruit in Micah's life...that is His job...He calls you to be faithful."

Those wise words of encouragement still ring just as true today. I cannot produce fruit or change the hearts of any of my kiddos, that is for God alone to do. My job is to pray for them and faithfully train, exhort, correct, and teach them with all diligence and then find sweet peace as I rest and wait on God to do a work in their hearts.

I am so thankful that He has brought forth fruit in my son's life. Those who did not know him when he was young would never even imagine that he was what he was...and that is all the grace of God and the sweet fruit that He grows!

Back to Micah's birthday!:) Micah was blessed with an AMAZING gift ON his birthday! He and Samuel joined their friend Mark and his family to go and watch the Canuck's practice (yep...that's hockey!)! He was elated!!!! Aunt Kimberly made his birthday cake and we celebrated as a family when the boys got back from their big day out! He was so excited to open his gifts and it blessed my heart to see the intentional time he took to read his cards and to be thankful for the PEOPLE behind the gifts!




Micah,

Your daddy and I are so thankful for the gift God gave us in you! You are so passionate and so gifted in so many ways. Your love for learning blesses our hearts and we pray that God uses that knowledge to set afire your love for Him! We love to see you grow...in baseball, in patience, in playing the guitar, in loving your siblings, in self-control, in caring about others and in wanting to please the Lord! It's hard to believe you are a decade old...but we are so thankful that we get almost another decade of you in our home before you're "all grown up"!:)

Happy Birthday, dear son!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Visit to Remember



What a sweet gift it was to spend the week with my mom and sister (and niece!!!). There are not words to described the precious blessing it is to not only call them family...but sisters in Christ.

We enjoyed sweet times of fellowship, lots of yummy scones, good cups of coffee and cinnamon dolce lattes (thanks to my sister helping me "relearn" how to use my espresso machine), too much Mud Pie Mojo ice cream (if there is such a thing as too much ice cream!), games of "Hand and Foot" and lots of "Settlers of Catan" (which is NOT a "home school game" for the record!:)), too little exercise but lots of calories burned through laughter, a BLAST playing golf at "Poppy Putting Course" (I came out the winner...but just barely. A group of ladies sitting at the picnic benches at the end of the course said we must have been having a great time from all the screaming! We "Parkers" are not a quite bunch...especially when we are having that much fun!), we watched the boys play hockey, celebrated Micah's 10th birthday together and enjoyed some of the most beautiful weather we here in Canada had seen all month!

The sweet memories of the past week are already tucked away in my heart but I am so thankful for all the pictures that help to capture some of those moments...





Friday, October 8, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now....


At Faith's eye appointment last winter, the doctor noted that she was slightly nearsighted...but not enough to do anything about. In the last month or so, it has become apparent that we needed to take Faith back in. She was having a hard time reading the words on the screen at the front of the church during music worship time and was complaining quite a bit that her eyes were getting blurry a lot!

She was right!:) In fact, the Dr. said that if she was 16, she wouldn't be able to pass her driver's test without first getting glasses! Though she probably could just wear the glasses for seeing things further away, one eye is double the nearsightedness of the other eye and can make focusing on things "up close" a little harder. That seems to be the case with Faith and she seems very content to keep her glasses perched upon her nose all day.

She was so cute as we left the eye glass place and did a bit more shopping as she kept saying, "Mom, look at those words. They are blurry with my glasses off, but I can read them with my glasses on!"

So, as a dear friend of ours told her today, Faith now has some special "jewelery" for her face...and we all think she looks just adorable!:)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Still Humming Along!

I have been absent from the blog world but very much present with my mom, sister, niece, kiddos, and hubby this past week! What a precious time it was with my mom and sister (and my niece, who was loved on greatly by my children...especially Grace and Faith!). I can't wait to share pictures and memories with you...but, for today, I read a GREAT article by Jani Ortlund (thank you GirlTalk Blog) that is a wonderful follow up to a post I wrote last week about the "Dangers of the Spotlight". Thought your hearts would be blessed too...so, here it is:

"Being All There for Your Kids"

Being a mother is just plain, hard work. At times, it feels like slave labor! Moms can identify with the cartoon of a toddler looking at a wedding album with his daddy and saying, “So that’s the day Mommy came to work for us!”

In Titus 2:4, the apostle Paul instructs older women to train younger women to love their children. He must have known there would be times it would be hard to love our kids.

Do you ever wonder why it’s more rewarding for us to plan a themed ladies retreat for two hundred women than to plan an indoor picnic with our preschoolers on a rainy afternoon? I think it’s because the rewards are more immediate and the demands are not so relentless.

Remember, though, that God has called you to this ministry of mothering. He knows there are no neutral moments in your child’s life. Someone is going to influence your children, instilling values in their impressionable young minds. Let it be you!

God calls us to the ministry of character development in our children, and honors us with the position of a constant trainer in their lives (“train up a child in the way he should go . . .” Proverbs 22:6). Through your ministry, you get to pass on to the next generation all the values you treasure most: love, faithfulness, sacrifice, honesty, generosity, self control.

You have received this commission from God. As a mother, your privilege is to teach your children how to respect their daddy and be kind to their siblings; how to choose good nutrition and wholesome entertainment; why they should value courtesy and orderliness; and which causes are worthy of their efforts, their reputations, and even their very blood.

God has called us to love our children from home-base (Titus 2:4-5), and we can’t improve upon God’s design. This means more than staying at home. It means fixing your heart on your home. It’s important to understand that we as women can leave our homes through more avenues than work or outside ministry. Cell phones, emails, and chat rooms can all take a mother away from her primary calling.

Mothering means being “all there.” It means rejoicing that you get to show your children how to peddle a tricycle, make their bed, build memories, and share their toys. You serve your family—and ultimately your Heavenly Father—by helping your child do that puzzle for the umpteenth time, washing those sticky fingers, planting a little garden, acting out Bible stories, and praying together.

Your ministry is one of answering these deep questions in the heart of your child: “Am I a burden? Unwanted? Unappreciated?” Or “Am I loved with a love that can not be broken? Is someone totally committed to me? Do I bring someone joy?”

Remember this: you have the privilege of passing on to young hearts a knowledge of the very character of God, and that, ladies, is worth getting totally exhausted for.

Have you been “all there” for your kids this past week? If not, how can you begin to be more present in your home?