Entries RSS Comments RSS

Posts Tagged ‘Family’

Counting My Blessings–Family Vacation

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I have been blessed since I last posted for counting my blessings!  Just haven’t taken the time….and that needs to change!  I should always take time to count the many blessings–the “benefits” God loads me with–daily!  (Psalm 68:19 )


We were on vacation this past week–and I am so grateful for many things!


We originally planned to camp at Silver Lake, MI.  When we made reservations for the campsites, we found out that since we have 3 daughters over 18, and there were already “so many” of us, we had to reserve two campsites.


Even though we have one camper, and we would all be in it.


Even though we honestly wouldn’t use the other campsite!  At.All.


I do understand there is a reason for rules like this, but it did seem a bit over-the-top!   Added to that, we would have to pay an entrance fee daily.  Per vehicle.  We always need to take two vehicles because the van can’t pull our camper safely.


I have to admit my attitude was not very grateful at the time! :P


But we all came around to accept it– it is what it is!   So with renewed zest, we planned our vacation!


The Wednesday before we were to leave, a few of us happened to be at a friend’s, and one of the girls had shared about our camping plans.    As we were getting ready to leave, our friend waited until the last of the girls went on out, then proceeded to offer their lake cottage to us!!!


To say I was floored would be an understatement! :D


He showed me pictures of the “cottage”….





Truly a delightful place!


We were beyond grateful for this precious gift, so close to Lake Michigan and about the same distance to another lake near Holland, MI.   I could sit in this lovely sunroom and watch the sunrise over Lake Macatawa:





(The rocker in the right corner was “my” spot!)


The whole cottage was decorated simply, yet with beauty that fed the heart.









With beautiful porches and balconies….














And a very short walk to Lake Michigan!



Where children (and Daddy and Mommy!) could walk in the sand and along the cold, but refreshing waters….










Make “sand angels”! ;)





Play tag with the waves….




“Surf” on an old board that washed up….



Or just hang out with some of your “best friends”!







Bury your children in the sand?!




Do “school” (sandwriting!)….



And build sand castles (engineering and architecture)!





Watch a sailboat


Listen to the surf crash up onto the shore–don’t you love the blue, blue water and sky?



Peek at something wonderful, just around the corner….




Watch sunsets over Lake Michigan (sigh…..)










Counting my blessings:


13.  A vacation

14. Beautiful gift of the cottage from dear friends!

15. Quiet times on the sunporch

16. Watching the sun rise over Lake Macatawa

17. Beauty to feed the soul

18. Porches and balconies for sitting, relaxing and dreaming

19. Lovely walk to the beach

20. The beach!

21. Lake Michigan

22. Walks along the water (and sometimes IN the water!)

23. Watching the children enjoy the sand, sun and water

24. Helping them dig and having fun with them

25. Fresh air

26. Watching sailboats on the blue waters

27. Watching sunsets over Lake Michigan

28. Spending time with friends

29. Eating ice cream every day! :)

30. Seeing God’s beauty in His nature

31. Rest

32. Good weather!


And the best blessing of all–



33. Spending time with family!





Thank You, Lord, for Your many, many blessings this past week!




Fabulous Family Friday–They Grow Up Too Soon!

Friday, August 5th, 2011


Cassia, Susannah, Leah, Jessica, Christmas 1993


My daughters are always so good about getting pictures up for their sisters’ birthday posts. They go through old pictures, scan them, and make a post, with a picture for every year.

They recently did this for Cassia, then someone put this picture as wallpaper on one of our computers.


Cassia is 3, Leah is 8 and Susannah is 5 in this picture.



Cassia, Leah, Susannah


They are now 18,  22 and 19-almost-20!!!


Mamas, they grow up TOO fast!





I almost have bittersweet  nostalgia seeing the older ones so small again!  I wish I could go back and enjoy them more!  Quit worrying about if I was parenting just so, or my homeschooling was up to par, or my homemaking was good enough!


Fifteen years later…..that stuff really doesn’t matter as much!   Oh, yes I know, we  need to educate our children and train them in Godliness, to love the Lord, and we need to keep our homes clean and orderly (well, somewhat….. ;) ), but….



Jessica and Cassia



I recently read a devotional by Nancy Campbell of Above Rubies about keeping an orderly home.  It’s true, God does all things decently and in order, but He doesn’t expect us to keep an “orderly” home at the expense of relationships.  As in so many things in life, we add rules and regulations on where He never put any.  We add so many things to our “list of things to do” that we are more focused on the task needing done than the people around us.



Jessica and Leah, 1988


After awhile, our children become a means to an end, instead of the chores becoming a way to knit our hearts together!  We are more concerned about being “efficient” and “good stewards of our time” and such, and we miss the whole point.


The point is not for my home to be clean and orderly, everything in its place.  Surprised?!


The point is for you to have relationship with your Abba Father and to gently lead your little lambs to Him.



Dallas, Trisch, Jessica-5, Leah-3 and Susannah-4 months


Chores and school can be a part of that, but don’t ever trade “doing school” for relational matters.  Marilyn Howshall has a saying:


“Character training adds time to every duty, and every duty should stop for character training.”


The problem is, we really don’t want to stop our “agenda” for character training—sometimes because it’s really our character that needs training!  We can become so busy with all that needs to be done as a young mama of littles, that we lose sight of the fact that the chores will always be there….the littles will not!





Here is a quote from the devotional I linked to above:


“I would also encourage you to cut corners—not corners of cleanliness, but unnecessary tasks. I remember when I first started homemaking nearly 50 years ago; I kept to the traditions of that time. Every week, without fail, I changed the bed sheets. We used to take the bottom sheet off the bed and put it in the laundry, put the top sheet on the bottom and a new sheet on the top! That was the norm back in those days. But now we have fitted sheets and it doesn’t work that way. Plus, I don’t believe that we need to change sheets every week. I have digressed from that tradition. If children bath or shower, you can keep sheets on the beds for two or three weeks at a time. That saves a lot of laundry, especially if you have a number of children.”



Susannah and "Molly"


“What about ironing? I also started out ironing about twice a week. I even ironed pillow cases (I had friends who ironed their tea towels!). Help! How did I do that with four children under four and then six young children? I certainly don’t do that now, even though my children have grown. I have better things to do. I try to purchase clothes that don’t need ironing. I iron only what is absolutely necessary. I try to hang up clothes from the dryer immediately so they don’t crumple. I will even throw a dress in the dryer to unwrinkle if it needs an iron.”



Charissa and Bekah


“Remember, you are responsible to keep your home clean and in order, but not to do unnecessary tasks. Make the use of this time to spend more time with your children, reading to them, teaching them and doing creative things with them. That will have far more impact than unnecessary household tasks.”


Jessica--a "little shaver"! ;)



I would highly urge you to go before the Lord, and ask Him for His “pattern on the mount” for your family.   So often we add to our housework, our schooling, our outside involvements out of a sense of duty that God never gave us.   There were many lepers and widows in Elijah and Elisha’s day, but they didn’t heal them all.  Jesus said He had completed the work the Father gave Him to do.  But weren’t there more lepers to be cleansed, sinners to be forgiven, lame and blind men and women to be healed?


Jesus spent time with His Father, yes, even after a long night of ministry!   I’m not advocating you deprive yourself and ruin your health, but perhaps write down what all you do in a week.



Jessica and Leah


How much time is spent running errands?   Are you running more than you should?  Has it become a “diversion” to avoid dealing with your flesh?


How much time is spent in cleaning that might truly be unnecessary, especially at this stage of your children’s lives?



Jessica, Leah and Susannah, Easter 1993



How much time are you spending doing formal school?  Are you adding and adding out of fear, vs. what is “the one thing needful”?



Jessica and Cassia



I think one of the hardest things to realize, is how much we parent and homeschool out of fear.  We as women want security, and because of the sin nature, we will try to maintain “control” of situations to help us feel secure.


But it doesn’t work!



Jessica and Susannah


Usually it stresses us out, whether it’s the way we like the dishwasher loaded, or the way we want the books to be put away in a bookcase.  Or the way we want to have all the budget nicely divvied out in its place so there are no surprises….


Maybe it’s the way you do school.  You can’t let go of a curriculum because you “paid good money for it” or “what will my friends/neighbors/parents/in-laws think?”




Jessica, Leah, Susannah, Cassia

I’ve learned over the years that letting go is the way to peace!


Sometimes God has had to pry my fingers off, like a parent does a foolish toddler hanging onto garbage instead of letting go and receiving a treat from the Father’s hand.



Charissa and "her" baby, Noah!


I have had to let go of a lot of “normal ways to do things”.  I have been laid low with miscarriages, health issues, sick parents, a husband with a major head injury…things that kept me from being able to “just push through” and do my agenda.   I had to cry out to Him, to look up for HIS agenda, His plan for my days.



Jessica and Leah


There are so many things I wish I had taken time for!  What was so important, that I didn’t have time to….


*write in a journal often what we did, what we ate….things they said…..that would be so much fun to read today?


*keep up with reading to them every night?


*pray with them as much as I should have?


*take them to see grandparents and great-grandparents more often?  (Oh, but we had to do school…..)


*take them to the park more and swing on the swings with them?


*keep up our hymn singing we started?


*make them more doll clothes?


*have tea parties with them?


*just sit and hold them?



Mama, my “little girls” are now 24, 22, 19, 18, 14, 12 and 10!!!  This time has flown all too quickly, and although I did do a lot of things well, I have regrets.   No one is perfect, I realize that.


But I also know the Lord nudged me different times to focus on relational things that would last for Eternity, and I was “too busy” with temporal things.


I wish I had made fewer issues of things, which turned into power struggles, and only made discipline for true issues.


I wish I would have quit worrying about what others thought of me, or my homeschooling, or my homemaking, or my parenting…..




….and just enjoyed them!


Mamas, take time…take time. Don’t let the tyrrany of the urgent steal your time with your little ones.    Don’t be “too busy” with things God has not called you to do, and be like the parable of the servant in I Kings 20:39-43, who was “busy here and there” and his charge “was gone”.



Anna :)


As the song “Goodnight Kiss” by Steve and Annie Chapman goes:


“For I know too soon they’re up and gone, and walking out the door,


and I’ll never have a child to kiss, good-night, anymore.”


Yes, too soon, they’ll be grown up–and even though they may still be in your home, still love you dearly, still kiss you goodnight and still call you Mommy….



They’ll never be little again!




Jessica, Leah, Susannah--The Three Musketeers!






Before the time is gone!


Isaiah and Charissa


An Adventure–and Then Some!

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

How do you describe the wonderful time a family can have on a 5283 mile trip “out East”?!

My girls have done a much better job keeping up–both on their blog as well as in their visual journals!  I wish I could have worked on mine in the van as we were going, but that never seemed to work out!   Guess  they have had more experience working in tight quarters than me!  ;)

It was definitely worth all the packing and planning and persevering to make it happen!

I really have to give the girls a LOT of credit—I became extremely ill the Saturday before we left.  In fact, even until Thursday I was beginning to wonder if we were going to have to postpone the trip!  But I started feeling better and well enough to get my stuff washed and packed–nothing like waiting until the 11th hour!!!!

We knew it was an ambitious trip and that we couldn’t “see it all” no matter how much we wanted to!    It was great, though, to do what we could and at least hit the highlights.    And learning continued to take place–the girls would look things up on the internet when we got to a hotel or McDonald’s (for free WiFi!).   Road Scholars, indeed!  :D

We were gone 19 1/2 days.  We only stayed at hotels 7 of those 19 nights!  The rest we stayed at the homes of wonderful family and friends, and even had a few quick visits with family and friends sprinkled in between those!   Sometimes it made it hard to leave in the mornings, though, because we enjoyed the fellowship so much!   And a few times, it meant we bumped a few things off “the list” to be able to enjoy that fellowship!

Was it worth it all?!

A resounding YES!!!!

Happy Birthday Isaiah!

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

I can hardly believe my “baby” is 4!

Daddy and Mommy (and of course all your sisters and Noah, too!)

love you very, VERY much!


Sorry to my blog readers for being so quiet–we’re on our family trip with just the laptop and 4 of us vying for it!!! :)

For updates with pictures and videos, be sure to visit my daughters’ blog!

I’ll be back next week (hopefully!) to tell you all about it!

Fabulous Family Friday–Road Scholars!

Friday, September 17th, 2010



From Wednesday’s post–several of you guessed my mom, and you were right!  On the right is our 13 year old daughter, Anna.  When we  were at a reunion this summer, a cousin gave me this picture of my mom.   Later, when I was looking at it at home, I realized how much Anna resembles my mom at about the same age!!! (We’re guessing Mom is 14–she got her ears pierced at 13, I believe!)

What makes it special is that Anna has two middle names….we already had her name picked out when my grandma (Mom’s mom) wasn’t doing well.   Dallas and I talked it over and decided to add my grandma’s middle name to Anna’s.  It just so happens my dad’s mom has the same middle name!    That is why I thought it extra special that not only does Anna share my grandma’s name, she also resembles my mom!

It’s really neat to see how your parents looked at younger ages–of course, back then, they weren’t taking 10,000 pictures a year!  So there aren’t as many photos to compare.  

I really appreciate having this photo!


It’s been a crazy month or so!   Between getting things for all our canning and running to Chicago and getting ready for our trip East….well, it’s been busy!

About a month ago, some newer homeschoolers were asking me when I start school.

“Define school!” I smiled.

“Well, when do you start with the books.”  The mom asked.

“Usually after Labor Day, but this fall, we’re planning a trip out east and THAT will be school!”

Yes, my children will be Road Scholars!  (pun intended! ;) )

What are they learning?




Geography!   What states were going through, how they’re connected….and putting together maps and finding our points of interest on them.   Mapquesting each “leg” of the trip (there are 25 legs now…we’re 1/4 of the way to being a centipede…. :D )


History!   One daughter is quite into the Revolutionary War and has found out more and more about different battles, soldiers, etc.

Another daughter or two really got into lighthouses and learned a lot about their history (including Cape Hatteras, the tallest lighthouse in America.  Yes, we’re going to go see it!)

Math!   Can we fit in 3,500+ miles in 14 days?!   (No, we are taking 16 days!)

Actually, I think *I’m* getting the math!   Figuring gas mileage and costs, how many nights we need to stay at a hotel, how many hotel rooms we will be forced to get.  Some have said three–I mean honestly!  Just because we have ONE more child than each room is supposed to hold?!   (Five max in most rooms.)   Okay, then we’ll stay at Homewood Suites  2 bedroom suite–we did that when we visited the Creation Museum  last year, and they even have a yummy HOT breakfast!  That alone saves us $50-60!!!

Two of the girls were writing down how much it cost to get into some of the lighthouses….



Language Arts!   One daughter has blogged about it!

Problem-Solving Skills!   How to fit 11 people plus needed stuff into a 15 passenger van with the back seat taken out.   We were going to rent a motorhome, but we have more people than seatbelts, so that is out.    Deciding if we have time to really see Jamestown.   Do we go ahead and go to Arlington National Cemetery  or cut it out?   (You’ll have to wait and see what we decided!)


There is also the “problem-solving” of what Susannah is going to eat, since many places are NOT gluten free!

Of course, there is also the problem of who will take care of the animals? (Thankfully some dear friends offered to do this for us!  Thank you, W. family!)


Computer skills!   Looking up info (all 3 computers were busily in use Sunday night!) for attractions, maps, eating places, hotels…..

Social skills!  Reconnecting with old friends and family to try to squeeze at least a quick visit on our way through.

Character development!   While we patiently wait to hear back from aforementioned old friends and family…. 

AND we will also be developing character while  traveling 3,500+ miles together in close quarters with NO air conditioning….



Auto Mechanics!   Fixing all the things on the Big Red Bus that  needed fixing….just weren’t planning on fixing them all at once!  (Guess that’s more Dallas’ department.   But you can bet the boys were around observing!)




All kidding aside, truly there is a lot of learning going on right now.   No, it won’t be recorded in workbooks–but it will be recorded in blogs and visual journals!

Don’t underestimate the power of real-life learning!   So many times we are spending our energy worrying about “getting back to the books” that we can’t enjoy the learning that is taking place through the “real life interruptions” that come up.

This is something we have wanted to do for several years.  We actually wanted to go “out West”, but reality is we’d need a month, and we just can’t get away for that long.   We decided to “go East” and see as much as we can.  We won’t be able to see everything historical–and there’s a lot of history along the east coast!   But the main reason for this trip was to spend some time together as a family before everyone starts marrying (no, there are no prospects in the wings nor are we looking for any on this trip!).

Which, of course, brings me back to what I “preach” all the time–




Wordless Wednesday–Nice Night for a Swim!

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010




Fabulous Family Friday–Friends Part 2 & The Great Escape!

Friday, July 2nd, 2010


First thing–please pray for some dear friends whose 5 year old daughter has meningitis.  She is in the hospital and last I heard with a 104.9 temp.   I also don’t know if it’s bacterial or viral.   Her name is Susannah.  Thank you for your prayers!



One area of friendships I didn’t address last week was–mama’s friends!

We need to be just as careful to not form closer relationships outside the home than we have with our family (and it goes without saying with the Lord first!).   I have had times where I had to pull back from calling or going to things with friends.   Again, you can both be the most Godly of women, but after awhile…well, we are fleshly and all it takes is one wife who needs to deal with God about her attitude towards her husband, but it’s soooo much easier to talk to her friend(s)….and before you know it, you have devolved into a husband bashing session! 

Oh, we’re quite spiritual about it!  We wouldn’t say, “That no-good bum!  He expects me to do ____ and _____ and all he does is ______……”  

But we can “ask for prayer” even for “my attitude” and still paint our husbands in a less-than-favorable light.   There are times when we may need to bare our hearts to one trusted friend to pray with us.  But not every friend you have in exquisite detail!!!

I challenge you to honor your husband, even when perhaps he is not acting honorably.  Of course there are times to seek counsel–I’m not talking about abuse here.  I’m talking about the usual “he doesn’t pick his socks up” or “he doesn’t lead us in Scripture reading” or “he doesn’t play with the kids enough” or “he doesn’t discipline the kids enough–he’s a big kid himself!”

That’s just about our husbands–we can do this about our mother-in-law, our other friend, our children.  Again, there is nothing wrong with being honest and asking for prayer!  But if around certain people you start griping more than just sharing, and come away feeling more bitter instead of better, and if they “take your side” vs. praying with you and encouraging you, even in a difficult situation, then you might evaluate how much time you spend with those kinds of people (whether in person or on a phone or e-mail).

If our friends aren’t encouraging us in our walk as Godly women, wives and mommies, then those should not be the people we spend the most time with!

Even if you have great friends, you can end up spending lots of time interacting with them, then you  might be less content to “just be with the kids at home” or your husband.   Those are just some warning flags to watch out for!   We can’t expect our children to turn their hearts toward home if ours isn’t also turned toward home!

Of course, friendships can also become a part of something else I’d like to talk about….


What do I mean?!

Escaping our mundane, routine duties.  Oh, a vacation or little break is quite nice!  But when our heart would rather do something else than train and nurture and face life head on, we might evaluate whether what we are really doing is escaping.


The phone (cell or otherwise!).  Facebook.  Twitter.  Blogging. Texting.  Visiting.  Play days at the park.  Homeschool get togethers.  Field trips.  Eating out.  Shopping.  Educational opportunities.

None of the above are sinful actions by any means!  Unless….we are turning to those things to fill the God-shaped vacuum inside.  Many times, especially as mamas at home, homeschooling, training children 24/7, we feel we need a break.  And again, a little break is nice.  But when we’d rather have lots of breaks and very little time at home or taking care of the task at hand….then, we must question where our hearts are.

I heard Marilyn Howshall 10 years ago talk about too much running.  When you have to leave for an activity, you obviously need to quit early enough to get around to go.  Then you go to the activity, then when you get home it’s hard to get everyone corralled again to do chores or school or work on projects (or work on character!  ;) ).   One day of that is one thing, but when every single day is spent running all the time (I’m not talking about a short season of extra craziness!), then we–and the children!–start looking forward to the interruption and only half-heartedly apply ourselves to “doing the next thing” at hand.

I have been guiiiillllttyyyyyyyyy of this one more than I care to admit!   And it starts out so innocently!  “Just checking e-mails really quickly” turns into an hour (there’s a time warp in front of the computer, I’m sure of it!!!).  Or just a quick text to someone, and they reply, and you reply and…..well, you get the idea!

Even books can be an escape!  I’m not talking torrid romance novels, either!  I remember on one Mom’s list I used to be on,  a mom sharing how we can read all these good books about being a good wife, a good mom, a good homemaker, a good homeschooler, etc…..but eventually we need to put the books aside and just go be those things!

I think the hardest “escapes” to nail down are the ones that look so “responsible”.   If you are a very servant-hearted person, you can find yourself “ministering” to a lot of people….but not so much your family.  Or you’re not home to catch the little foxes before they destroy the vines.

With the advent of all our technology, it’s easy to even get caught “ministering” too much via e-mail, texting, etc. 

The best thing to do is to set some limits, allowing of course for emergencies!  Don’t get in bondage over this!   Someone may truly need you right now and other things can be put on hold.  But that should not be the norm!  :)

Another good thing to do is to be accountable.  Either write down how much time you spend on the phone/computer/texting/etc. or maybe a friend at church can ask you from time to time how you are doing in the areas you are most tempted.  Your husband can also hold you accountable, if that works for you.

Be very careful–the enemy may know he’ll never get you to rob a bank or leave your husband, but if he can get you busy “serving” and not realizing you are actually avoiding the character issues and tasks at home–and especially if it can be cloaked under the “serving” category–then he still wins some battles in your heart and home.

This is not something you “outgrow” or overcome once for all!  I still fight it! 

And one of the biggest ways to fight it is to make sure you are keeping intimacy with the Lord–seeking His face and staying close to His heart (vs. checking off your Bible reading list and prayer list).  Truly the “things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace”–but we must be meditating on, beholding and pursuing His glory and grace for its light to loosen our hold on earthly things and praise!

If I have thousands of people extolling my virtues and how I helped them, but I lose my own children–what will it profit me?

I’m not naive enough to think my work is done!  I still have some younger children that need nurtured and guided, and to be honest, it’s somewhat harder now because of all this technology tearing us away and apart, if we let it!

My prayer is that we will all stay focused on the most important work–keeping our hearts focused on Him and our families.





I believe I have shared about this website before, but I decided to again!


Belinda Letchford is from Australia, and she has a wonderful website that really covers a Learning Lifestyle quite well!   I will warn you–you could spend a lot of time there!  ;)


I love her “motto”:


“Homeschool:  Live Life with Your Kids!”


She has a wonderful e-zine that you can get in your inbox, too.   She and I must be kindred spirits!   Like me, she believes their walk with God and character are more important than academics.   Not that academics aren’t important, but they are after the other two! 


Click on Lifestyle Homeschool and be prepared to be refreshed!


I would just go systematically through the pages you are intersted in.  She has many links on each segment, so again–plan to spend some time or keep track of where you left off!  Easy to navigate and just a wealth of good stuff there!


Belinda has also written a few e-books which I’ve ordered and enjoy (need to get them printed off so I can enjoy them more!)


Do start by reading the first homepage and then click on the links!  :)


Mamas, whether your children are little ones, a mixture, or mostly grown, my best advice to you would be to keep focusing on relationships.   My older daughters and I have a wonderful relationship, and I intend to keep pursuing this with my younger ones, too!  My “middle child” will be 13 in 6 weeks, and I’m so pleased that we are good friends, too!


Next week I want to cover something I’m sure every mama does but always wants to do better–praying for our children!


Have a blessed weekend and remember to thank the Lord (and all the time!) for the freedom we have in our nation to train our children for Him!



(A cellist outstanding in her “field”!  :-D )



Fabulous Family Friday–What About Friends?

Friday, June 25th, 2010



It’s been a whirlwind week–well, a few nights ago, literally!  ;)

Susannah and Cassia were at orchestra camp this week, so Monday was taking them there, last night was the concert, and today I went to get them.

Then we practiced for the Relay for Life we’re playing for tomorrow night (and that’s after a graduation open house that is 2 hours away!).

THEN I took them to the llama farm so they could work with their llamas, since they didn’t make the two meetings this week.


Oh, and the “literal whirlwind”?  Wednesday night Dallas and I drove home on the edge of a bad storm….well, I’ll post more about that next week!



What about friends for our children? 


Friends are wonderful!   And they can be terrible! 


I’m going to share a few nuggets of wisdom, which I’ve learned over the years and now see the fruit in my children.


I wish I could give credit where credit is due, but years ago I heard someone advocate being best friends within the family before having friends outside the family.


I took that to heart.


When Jessica and Leah were small, we had a neighbor girl that would come over a lot.  She was (and is!) a very nice girl, and I honestly had very little problems with her. 


But I made it very clear to my girls that if they did not treat each other kindly, that I was willing to send their friend back home, and I would tell her why (so she didn’t think it was something she had done!)!


Did I have to follow through on that threat?


Yes!  But not very often!


My girls knew I was serious when I said, “You must be best friends with each other first.  Friends come and go throughout your life, but your family is forever.”   Unless, of course, you destroy those relationships in childhood (or let them destroy them with each other). 


NO friend should ever be more important than a sister or brother.   My children have many good friends.   Some are real kindred spirits.  But their “bestest” friends, as we like to say, are right here at home.


That did not happen overnight or easily!


With the next two girls, there were times they had to sit next to their daddy or me during a church fellowship time after dinner instead of playing with their friends, because they had not been treating sisters kindly.  They get plenty of warning on this, but at some time, I had to make good my warnings and follow through.


You know what?  It is just as hard on me as it is on them!!!


And that is really the crux of the matter–


Are we willing, as mamas, to sacrifice our fellowship times to help develop this family unity? 


Let me tell you, it will be worth every sacrifice!


I quit going to a Take a Break for moms when my oldest two were younger.  It wasn’t that the church was a bad influence, or that the other children were so terrible.   No matter how Godly other people are, the fact is, we are all sinners and somehow, “familiarity breeds contempt”, or, “all our bad character will rub off more than the good if we spend too much time together”!


We quit taking the girls to a homeschool group’s meetings because the activities they had for the kids always centered around the gym, and my girls were put in awkward positions at times.


I don’t tell you this to make it seem like I was so wise and wonderful!!!  I had a hard time letting go of some of the things I had to let go of.  Remember, this was back in the dinosaur age of NO internet, NO e-mail,  NO texting, NO unlimited long distance, and we had the distinct privilege of being a GTE (now Verizon) strip right between two Sprints (now…I don’t know?  Who are they now?!), which meant–everything was long distance!!!


It was hard and lonely sometimes.  But of course, on this end of things, it was worth it!


That’s the way it is with so many things, isn’t it?  We have a hard time “sacrificing” something we think is for the greater good (and what God wants), but it’s hard.  Does it really matter?  Will it be worth it in the long run?


I’m here to tell you that YES!  YES IT IS!!!


If there is a common denominator in situations I’m aware of where the young people’s hearts are not with their family, it is they are very attached to their friends.


Again, friends can be good.  Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”


Let’s be honest, though.   The best sharpening will happen through the best friends who know you the best—your family.


There are many ways to “run away” from the character lessons God is trying to teach us through our family.   But mark my words that if you do manage to get out of “Family Character Training 101″, you will meet “Roommate Character Training 201″ without the benefit of having passed the first course!  Meaning–it will be harder!


Or you  might run into “Tough Professor 301″, or “Neighbor Doesn’t Like Me 401″.   Oh, and don’t forget “Employer Is Tougher Than the Professor 501″!  God will bring those character training opportunities back to you again and again until you learn them. 


Only they get harder each time.


We have to have a long-term vision for our children. We have to be willing to sacrifice present “peace” for what is best spiritually in the long run.


I would encourage you to work on family relationships–even if it means you have to let some activities go.    When you’re always “going”, it’s easy to avoid the character training that “boredom” will bring out of your children.  And you!!! *eek!*


I have been at functions where young people are surrounded by friends, but they are texting other friends!   ???


I have watched siblings cut each other down in public as if it were a great pasttime (getting a bit too comfortable with doing that privately and apparently caring more that their friends see they don’t care about their siblings so they can be “cool”?)


Unfortunately, I’ve also seen wives cut down their husbands in public!  That is NOT a good role-model, mama!  :(


What consistently comes out of our mouths shows where our hearts really are.   We might think we’re really not “that way”, but what is the “aroma of the heart”?  The fragrance from our words should be the same as as our Savior’s. 


That is really the litmus test, isn’t it?  Would Jesus cut down His brothers and sisters?  Would He rather ditch His siblings for His friends?  (Let’s remember He spent the first 30 years of His life with His family.  He spent 3 years with His disciples!  And His siblings could have been His disciples, too, had they believed.   We know James eventually became a “servant of the Lord Jesus Christ” as did Jude. )


Would Jesus be texting His friends while sitting next to His family?


Tough questions.  What are we allowing?  Are we avoiding it because it’s just the way it is?   Or it’s too hard to change or say no?


It isn’t easy to say no to our children.  Oh, it’s easy when they’re going to get burned on a hot stove to say, “NO!  Don’t touch!”


Can we see that they are burning family relationships?  Can we see the long-term “benefit” of saying no to too much time with friends to reap lovely fruit of family relationships?


My children are truly each others’ best friends.  Yes, they get on each other’s nerves.  Yes, we yell at each other (well, all but Leah! ;) ) And yes, we ask each other’s forgiveness to restore that relationship.


I encourage you to do all you can to keep your children’s hearts, and one thing you must be prayerfully vigilant about is who are your children’s friends, and how much time they spend with them (and with the advent of our technological age, that includes “spending time” with them via texting, e-mailing, on the phone, facebooking, twittering, etc.).


And that includes “good friends”, too.


Once again, I am NOT saying “Don’t let your children have friends!”  


I’m just saying, “Family First”!    Psalm 68:6 says, “God setteth the solitary in families…” not “God setteth the solitary in a circle of friends”!    (And yes, that would include only children!  They still have their parents to develop relationships with first!)


We are called the friends of God, true, but we’re even more the family of God.


The picture God has of marriage and of our relationship to Him and each other is that of a family.


(I think I see a pattern here….. ;) )


Let’s start with ourselves, and do the right thing in building relationships at home.


For from that platform, we will be better friends to others and better witnesses of His family!


Oh, and by the way—-my children are my best friends, too!


May God give you wisdom to keep (or get back) your children’s hearts and bless you as you do whatever it takes to be best friends with each other!


It will be worth it ALL!


The Ring: A Testimony of God’s Love

Thursday, May 27th, 2010


I promised a story to go with yesterday’s picture of  “The Ring”.

By the comments you probably have figured out that it was my mom’s ring.

Here is the story!

31 years ago I was a 16 year old girl working as a waitress for a small town restaurant.  I made a whopping $1.50 an hour, plus tips!  

I wanted to buy my mom a “Mother’s Ring”.   At $1.50 an hour, that took awhile!  I put it on lay-away and paid on it for 3 months!

To say my mom was surprised when I gave it to her would be an understatement!   Since my brother and I are the only children, I chose to have Dad’s and Mom’s birthstones put in there as well.

Mom wore that ring all the time.  I remember once she had a window slam down on that hand, and her fingers swelled up.  She was worried that the ring would have to be cut off.  Thankfully it didn’t!

Imagine my sorrow when she told me,  about a year ago, that she lost the ring.  :(    She wondered if she had lost it at the house before she moved, but I was sure I had seen it on her finger since then.  Then she thought maybe she lost it in her apartment.  She had lost so much weight that I feared she might even have had it slip off her finger unaware–which meant it was truly lost.

I did pray that it would be in her apartment, that we’d find it somehow.  

The day after she passed away, I was at her apartment looking for clothes for the viewing and papers I would need, when I found a check box with a tangle jumble of jewelry.   She really liked using check boxes for things! ;)

I brought it home, and was looking for a pair of matching earrings to put on her for the viewing.  Susannah took over looking so I could do something else, and I off-handedly said, “While you’re at it, you should look for that mother’s ring.”

“What does it look like?”  she asked.

So I described it to her.

Not much longer, she asked, “Is this it?”



And I saw what had happened–Mom’s stone had fallen out, and the rest of the prongs were wore down (you couldn’t even tell there were prongs on the outsides of all the stones!), so she probably took it off and “put it away” so no more stones would be lost.

Let me tell you, if there was ever a day I needed to find that ring, that day was it.  Mom’s death was unexpected, I was reeling from that plus feeling guilty I wasn’t right there,  that I didn’t know CPR (I now understand that it wouldn’t have changed anything)…..

What are the “odds” of that ring showing up on that day?

Well, there are no “odds”.  But there is God!!!!

There are many things He has done for me in the past 3 weeks that show His personal, loving touch.   This was truly a hug from Him and a testimony of His love!

I had it fixed and now wear it sometimes.  I’m not really into jewelry, but this isn’t a fashion statement.

It’s a FAITH statement and a TESTIMONY of a God who loves me, who is my Abba Father, who cares about the smallest of things in our lives and wants me to invite Him in to everything I need, want, do, think and say.

He wants to be an intimate part of every facet of our lives.

What are you struggling with today?

However great or small–might be a lost item, might be a lost relationship. 

Either way, your Abba Father cares.

He wants to be a part of it.

Won’t you ask Him?

Then maybe you will have a wonderful testimony to His greatness, faithfulness and love.