img_0519Someone new has come to live in my house. This resident hides under the beds and jumps out to bite my feet when I walk by. She has chewed holes in the living room carpet and shredded the kitchen rugs. She ripped a Hillary Clinton doll to pieces within minutes.

I think it is my job to teach her about good behavior -- how to sit quietly and remember that socks are not snacks; but the truth is, her only job is to teach me a few things.

So far I have learned:

img_0732Blessings often arrive disguised as messes. When I dumped a quart container of buttermilk on the kitchen counter and floor, she didn't complain about the milk dripping onto her head and running into her eyes. She enjoyed the unexpected windfall fate had delivered and quickly took advantage of the situation. I could be more aware and appreciate the unanticipated gifts that often fall into my path.

Opportunities often appear disguised as obstacles. The first time she tried to leap onto the sofa cushions, she bounced off and hit the coffee table. After repeated attempts to scale the couch summit, she scrambled to the top and was rewarded with a soft, comfortable resting spot and a better vantage point for viewing the room. I need to remember that success may be preceded by several falls; but if we keep returning and trying, eventually we jump high enough to reach our goals.

img_0589Learning usually looks like playing. Every morning walk is an exuberant chase after falling leaves and a noisy crashing through the crunching drifts. She enjoys exploring this colorful, loud, and aromatic world. I am realizing it is alright to slow down, notice the changing seasons, and enjoy the glow of the early rising sun. I am recognizing that I need to make more time to have fun, enjoy new experiences, and see wonder in the world; because life is short, and children (and puppies) grow up fast.

What are you learning from the residents in your home? What lessons have they shared with you?

 

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  1. Select an age-appropriate book.
  2. Curl up together on the couch, bed, or another comfy spot.
  3. Open the book and read.

I will be honest and admit that I don't remember reading to my daughter much when she was small. I was busy. I worked all day, and I came home tired. By bedtime, I just wanted to be quiet and go to sleep; so if I read a book at all, it was one quick bedtime story and then lights-out and good-night.

But as I pursued my degree in Elementary Education, I learned there are many good reasons to spend time reading books to our children. If I had those years to do over, I would make more time to read to my daughter, and I would make more effort to enjoy and appreciate reading to her when she was young.baby-316214_1280

Why we should read to children:

  1. Children learn language by hearing language. Small children who are read to develop greater vocabularies, learn to read more easily, and generally do better in school. Children who are read to develop an appreciation for reading and are more likely to enjoy reading later in life. Children learn how books and words work by turning pages and following text. They learn to process ideas, explore, ask questions, and find the answers to their questions by thinking about the words they hear.
  2. Children learn about relationships by spending time with adults. Reading together can be a special, cozy time of sitting close and being the center of another's attention. Spending time with adults makes children feel safe and secure and helps maintain those close relationships for the future. Reading together is a time to appreciate being a family and being present with each other. It is time to have fun, laugh, talk, ask questions and share ideas.
  3. Children learn about the world through books. Television channels and computer screens don't teach children to think critically, form opinions, ask questions, or consider possibilities. Reading encourages children to use their own imaginations and question information. Children learn how to talk with adults through active conversations, and they learn about the world from adults who share their experiences.

Moms can make a few preparations to help make reading together part of the regular routine.

Build a library. Children's books are inexpensive at thrift stores, yard sales, and library book sales. Buy as many as your house will hold.

Use the public library for greater variety. Help children get their own library cards and select their own books from the children's section.

Don't stop when they're too big to sit on your lap. Older children can enjoy reading chapter books with their parents, too. Continue spending reading time together and talk about the stories you read.

img_0705When I ask my daughter now, she remembers reading Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. In this classic, Max learns that exploring the world alone is not much fun, and he is happy to be home where he is loved and dinner is waiting on the table.

 

I have also learned to appreciate the home and love that are waiting for me at the end of a busy day.

Other favorite books include:img_0707

 

 

 

 

 

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How do you enjoy reading with your children? What are your favorite books to read together?

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While I'm enjoying a week away with other YoungLives campers, enjoy this repost from my previous blog lizology101.

We waited for an hour, standing barefoot on hot sand, sunscreened against the July glare. When our turn finally came, we stepped into heavy wet harnesses, tightened the waist straps, loosened the thighs.

Then we walked to the other side of the lake, barefoot over grass and gravel, carrying the double-webbed straps with heavy cable clips slung over our shoulders. When we reached the zipline tower, we climbed uncountable steps, up and up and up -- to the top, where we were greeted by a teenaged kid wearing a harness clipped into a spider web of safety lines.

He clipped our harnesses into the web, and again we waited, eye-level with the tree tops. The tower swayed gently in the breeze, just enough to be slightly nauseating. Then came the awareness that we really planned to jump off from here.

"Stand on the box," the kid told us.

We stepped to the edge of the wooden platform, toes hanging off into air. The kid attached our clips to the zipline. He unhooked our safety straps from the web. We stood unsteadily on the edge.

"I can't do it!" my companion called.

"There's nowhere to go but down!" I answered.

I counted, "One, two, three, jump!" but neither of us moved.

I leaned back against the line to put tension in the harness, counted to three again, and lifted my feet.

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? . . . If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there your hand shall lead me, And your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7,9-10).

God always knows where we are, and he is always with us. Nowhere we go can escape the reach of his protection and love.

Sometimes we wait, wondering, for days or months or years for God's call to jump. Sometimes the call comes as a gentle nudge, sometimes a hard shove. At some time God calls each of us to take a big step. Then we have to trust in him and ride the line wherever it goes.

The zipline was a few screaming seconds before splashdown in the cold lake. Kicking, splashing, spitting water, I looked around for my companion.

I heard her beside me laughing, "Let's do it again!"

I pray you have faith to jump eagerly and often. What step is God calling you to take today?

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Someone I love very much has accused me of saying "Whatever" too much. 

"You wouldn't use that in your writing," he said.

Actually, I thought. Maybe I will. 

Whatever emotions you are feeling today are important. Emotions are the barometers of our souls. Listen to your feelings, respect their message, and honor the truths they tell.

Whatever lessons you are learning today are necessary. Failures are only course corrections to redirect our journeys. Decide to learn from what goes wrong and choose a way to make it right.

Whatever gifts you receive today are worth opening. Blessings often arrive in disguised packages. Appreciate and give thanks for every experience that comes your way.

Whatever you seek is available.

Whatever God shows you has meaning.

Whatever place he leads you has purpose.

Whatever challenge you face will help you move forward.

Today may you find whatever it is you ask and seek. Know that whatever your prayer, God hears every word.

IMG_0253And to my Loved One: Remember you are loved, whatever you say.

 

What is God saying to you today? Where is he calling and leading you?

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I bought a new duffle bag to pack for this summer's trip. Stacked on my spare bed are the piles of clothes and bags of toiletries I plan to take for seven days at the campground in Michigan.

Among the items I consider necessary for seven days away from home:

*Two swimsuits

*Two beach towels

*Two pairs of flip-flops, one for the beach and one for the shower

*Two pairs of sunglasses, or maybe I need to take all three

*Sunscreen

*Tennies because I hope to tackle the high-ropes obstacle course this year

*A good book to read on the almost-14-hour bus ride. This year I am taking Room by Emma Donoghue.

*GinGins ginger candy because I tend to get car sick when I read on the bus

*Pepto Bismol in case the GinGins aren't enough

*Snack bars and string cheese, because if I don't get car sick on the way, I will definitely get hungry.

I will be making this year's journey to camp with 11 teen moms from our YoungLives group, their children, and five other mentors. We will spend seven days together swimming, ziplining, dancing, singing, and praying.

I will be packing other necessities to help make camp a fantastic week.

*A sense of adventure to try new things like the ropes course and paddle boarding

*A sense of humor to laugh at myself when I fall off the paddle board. Hopefully I won't fall from the ropes course.

*An open mind to get to know new people, accept new assignments, and develop a new attitude

*An open heart filled with forgiveness, abundant patience, and positive energy

*The belief we are making this journey together to share an awesome experience and build caring relationships

*The knowledge this week will be wonderful, no matter what happens!

I'm also leaving space in my new duffle bag to bring back fun memories, renewed confidence, stronger friendships, deeper faith, and hopefully all three pairs of sunglasses.

Where are your adventures taking you this summer? What will you pack to prepare for your travels?

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13397058_871715679623257_2007666293_oThis week I asked my friend Heather to share the story of how she chose her daughter's name, Alice. These are Heather's words.

 

When Alice grows up, I'm going to tell her the story about why I picked her name. I hope she likes it.

In fifth grade I had to do a report about Teddy Roosevelt, but when I Googled him, I was more interested in his daughter Alice. While her father was in office, Alice worked to help people with tuberculosis, even though her family told her it was dangerous. Alice was rebellious and did things like climb on the White House roof. She was fearless and had a pet snake. But though she was a rebel, she was kind too, and she cared about other people.

I chose to name my daughter Alice because I want her to be strong, independent, and outgoing like Alice Roosevelt. I want her to be self-confident and fearless, but also caring and kind.

I hope my daughter Alice will stand up for what she believes in. I want her to know that every human life has worth, and I hope she will help others because it's the right thing to do.

My daughter inspires me because I have social anxiety, and when something bad happens, it shuts me down. The other day Alice fell off the kitchen step onto the carpet. She cried for a minute, but then she went back to what she was doing. She didn't let it ruin her whole day.

13389266_871715692956589_1637685165_oAnd she's happy to meet new people. Since she turned a year old, she's not afraid of meeting new people anymore.

I want to tell my daughter that it doesn't matter where your family's from, you can still do your own thing.

My prayer for Alice Marie is that she will be fearless, confident, happy to be herself, and appreciative of all that makes her unique.

"A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1).

How did you choose the names of your children? Do you  have an interesting story about what makes them special?

 

 

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DeDe works patiently. She has carefully cut out the fabric, rearranged the pieces, and pinned them together in new and unexpected ways. The hum of the sewing machine in rhythmic and soothing. DeDe works slowly to create the quilt that will cover her bed and wrap her in warmth.

Every quilt represents the embrace of a relationship. In a quilt, as in life, we collect scattered pieces and random moments. We stitch together the frayed edges and join with other battered hearts. At last we hold a completed covering of colorful shapes and textures. One day we look back on our lives, and we can see the whole pattern of the time we shared with others.

To construct a quilt, we need a few tools:

IMG_0063Fabric gives warmth, comfort, and color.

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Batting adds softness and depth.

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Tee shirts hold special memories of shared experiences.

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A ruler measures the edges and keeps the seams straight.

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Scissors cut away what doesn't fit.

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A pincushion protects our fingertips from sharp points.

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Thread holds all the parts together.

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And a seam ripper helps us correct our mistakes.

We could invest in expensive fabrics and tools, but we don't have to. We can use what we have available and appreciate that we will always receive what we need.

DeDe works patiently, because a quilt can't be finished in a day. A life can't be built in a year. We work together slowly to join all the pieces and enjoy the intricate tapestries we create.

I'm enjoying the time we spend making this quilt! Keep watching this website to see what happened when these pieces started falling into place.

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What is falling into place for you today? What tools are you using to bring the pieces of your life together?

 

 

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