Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Most Stubborn Person in all the Land?

Lately, my husband and I decided to get serious about our son's pickiness when it comes to eating. He is almost 5. We decided that that is old enough to eat what mama fixes. He is good with fruit, okay with meat, but put a noodle in front of him, and he comes unglued. He will eat apples dipped in ketchup, but ask him to eat a plain, buttered noodle, and he thinks you're are trying to poison him. (No, I did not make that last part up. He actually says that they are probably poison!)

Our plan to attack the pickiness is to set a time for supper. I usually give him about 45 minutes to eat whatever food I have put on his plate. (Note: we are not trying to make him eat weird foods. We have yet to push green vegetables and foreign cuisine. We are just talking spaghetti, folks! )We found that the time factor is necessary because he would sit there until it was time for bed, no matter what fun thing the rest of us might be doing. Nope, sitting there all night did not phase him.

So, in the time allotted he is to eat a small portion of whatever I have made for supper. If he does not complete the task, he gets it for breakfast. Basically, he won't get anything else to eat until he finishes the food he was given.

We have had to enforce this two times now. Both instances have concerned noodles. Day 1, he finally finished his 6 penne noodles at 12:50, right before nap time. Day 2, he finished at 11 a.m., just in time to get to help dad with some farm work.

The goal of this is to take the pressure off of my husband and I. We were getting so worked up because our son was not eating! It drives me absolutely crazy! I cannot understand the sheer stubbornness of the kid!

Yes, friends, I have the most stubborn kid in the world!

This is the kid that will forego eating noodles, even if that means he misses out on a brownie with ice cream. This is the kid that would rather sit at the table, not eating, and therefore not get to eat pancakes and bacon. This kid would rather sit at the table all morning than eat 5 bites of spaghetti!

My husband keeps saying, "Just relax. He'll get hungry soon enough. He'll eat it. Let the hunger do the work."

I cannot hardly stand it! First of all, I have to make sure he stays at the table all morning. Secondly, I can't take the sheer ridiculousness of it all! Plain noodles! I'd be like, "A brownie sundae? Sure, I'll eat 5 bites of noodles. That's easy!"  But no, not this kid. I can't even stand the whole ordeal!

He'll learn, right?

While this is a good lesson for me on patience and the trial and error nature of parenting, it's also a good lesson on being spiritually stubborn.

I immediately thought of Moses and the children of Israel.

God had done so much for these people! He performed miracles before their eyes. He rescued them from a life of slavery. He traveled with them to the Promised Land. He had chosen them for His own.

Instead of being grateful, the people complained. They even claimed to miss their life of slavery! They refused to fully trust in God. God himself told Moses to tell them, "You are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I were to travel with you for even a moment, I would destroy you" (Exodus 33:5). Some versions say the people were "stiff necked."

As a mom, I can relate! I mean, I just wanted to scream into a pillow all morning. But, as I was thinking, I wondered, "Does God ever see me as stubborn or stiff necked?"

When I have a stiff neck, it is painful to turn my head from side to side, or even up and down. Have I been spiritually stiff necked? Have I been unwilling to turn my head and change my ways?
  • How many times have I clung to my own plan, only to end up hurt, disappointed, confused, or frustrated?
  • How many times have I missed out on a blessing because I refused to be obedient?
  • How many times have I chosen to sin and therefore, had to reap the consequences?
Ok, I guess I have been stiff necked too. Like my son, there have been times that I have chosen to miss out on the brownie sundae.

Later in Exodus, after Moses pleads for God to continue with them through the desert, a new covenant is formed. God reveals some things about His true character. He passes in front of Moses saying:
"Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin" (Exodus 34:6-7).
With a God like this, we have no need to be stiff necked. He is trustworthy. He is merciful. He is forgiving. He is slow to be angry. And, He is generous with His love.

We all have choices to make. We can choose to hang on to our stubborn
 ways, refusing to partake in what is good for us. Or, we can choose to do things God's way. I pray that I will let go of my stubborn tendencies and embrace God's plan. I don't know about you, but I'm going for the brownie sundae.

(NOTE: No child was harmed in the process of this new eating plan. My son engulfed a huge lunch and took a nap, happy and full!)

Linking up this week at: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory, #Reflect

Friday, August 14, 2015

Why Vacation Bible School is not for the Weak

My church just finished our Vacation Bible school today. It was a great success, I'd say, with 187 kids in attendance, give or take.

I volunteered and was put in charge of a group of nine kids, ages 2 - 6. Yikes!

First of all, this age group is way out of my comfort zone. I taught English to high school aged kids in my past life. If I was asked to teach below 9th grade, I was unsure. I mean, those 7th graders are like another species!

Secondly, not only was I with my 9 kids, but we traveled from station to station with 3 other groups. Little kids were everywhere! I was slightly overwhelmed. Thank God for my 3 helpers! We all needed each other, that's for sure!

Within minutes of the start of day 1, I knew I was going to have to suck it up. These kids were here. They were expecting fun. Their parents were expecting them to learn something. Ready or not, I was on!

Why Vacation Bible School is not for the weak...
  • Some crafts can take a high level of concentration. It's hard to make binoculars, ok?
  • Game time may or may not involve rubber balls bouncing off your person.
  • The visiting animals may become violent and spit or kick.
  • Food allergies are real, folks. (What is really in green Jello?)
  • Story time with young children is a battle of wills.
  • Songs have enough actions to qualify as a Zumba workout.
I came home every day this week and practically beat my kids to nap time. I was exhausted!

What I Learned from Vacation Bible School

Of course, when I participate in something that God wants me to do, I learn something from Him. This experience was no different.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling tired and not all that excited to begin day 3. God quickly put me in my place!

I was reading in my First 5 devotional for the morning (from Proverbs31), and the verse jumped out at me. It was taken from the passage of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Quite an unpleasant job, yet here was Jesus, the Son of God, doing it anyway out of love. The verse was, "I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).  This passage reminded me of another.
"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others" (Matthew 20:28).

Yep, I was humbled. I didn't think I was above helping with VBS; I just had a stinky attitude about doing it. But, as Philippians 2:5 reminds us, "You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had." So, I knew what God was calling me to do. He wanted to me serve the kids in my group out of love and with an attitude worthy of a Christ-follower. Even if some of the kids in my group were difficult, it didn't matter. Because, by the way, Jesus even washed Judas's feet. The man that He knew was about to betray Him.

I can say that I am blessed to have served so many kids at VBS! One of the kids in my group even prayed the prayer of salvation! It was a great, busy week.

At the end of the day today, I found myself wondering, 'how did Jesus do so much ministry? Wasn't He exhausted? Wasn't He worn out mentally, physically, and emotionally?' I knew I was!

God again gently reminded me of something that I had been missing this week. In Luke chapter 5, we learn that "Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer" (verse 16).

Jesus often needed to be alone to pray. He knew that communion with God was the key to refreshment and renewing.

Why is it that when we are busy, the first thing to go is our quiet time with the Lord? Busyness and stress should prompt us to burrow deeper into God, to spend more time with Him to be refreshed and ready to face the stress or the demands of our busy schedule.

So, while my kids learned some great Bible verses and completed some cool crafts, this lady learned some things at VBS too. Isn't it amazing how God works on each one of us exactly where we are at? While kids learned the basics about God's love and Jesus's work on the cross, this mama learned a thing or too as well.

Linking up this week at: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Blessing of a Mess

We just arrived back home from my sister's wedding and a vacation. We were gone for about 2 weeks. It was a wonderful time with family and a relaxing time at the beach with our own little family.

Almost immediately, I was shocked back into the realities of life.

My husband became busy the very next morning. We didn't even get the car unloaded. The entire duty of unpacking was left to me. Plus, after being gone that long, I felt like the house needed to be cleaned.

I don't mind cleaning, but it's the attitude I take on when I do it that I dislike. I'm not sure why it happens. It can only be described as a cleaning frenzy. It's like I'm on a mission, and if my kids get in the way, whoa, watch out for the fury! So, I try to clean where they are not. This results in even more messes. I always laugh (a little hysterically) when my husband comes home to a messy, toy cluttered house, and I tell him I've been cleaning all day.

Is there anything more frustrating?

Because I had been out of my normal writing routine for so long, I felt like all my thoughts were jumbled with no organization. So, yesterday morning, I prayed that God would give me some organization and direction. Then I did my devotionals and read a chapter in the book The Best Yes.

And God did speak to me.

The first words in my devotional were, "You are living in a time of abundance." Huh, I thought, really? Well, I know that is true, so why don't I feel like that?

The chapter in The Best Yes continued this theme. It was the chapter entitled "The Joy of the Unrushed Yes." It was all about leaving space in our schedules and lives to enjoy and work on relationships.

Ok, Lord, I get it.

I often let myself go head over heels into a frenzy. I realized I had not been enjoying the gifts I had been given, and was being given each day. I was allowing myself to get caught up in the unpacking, the cleaning, the stress of the upcoming school year and MOPS year.

I was not allowing myself the time and space to see the blessings around me. I thought of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I love this book and agree with its message of counting our blessings to experience joy whole heartedly. I had just let myself get too busy to put it into practice. And by doing so, I was missing out on the joy of life. I have been missing out on abundant life.

When really...
"My cup overflows with blessings" (Psalm 23:5b).
"What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:31).
"O Lord, my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal. If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them" (Psalm 40:5). 
"You have endowed him with eternal blessings and given him the joy of Your presence" (Psalm 21:6). 
 So, even though it is against my personality, I am going to fight the frenzy with thankfulness. I pray we can all allow ourselves time to notice the blessings and gifts around us.

Lord, help me to stop and realize the blessings that my children are--that the mess means I'm blessed.

Oh, yeah, and this little song too. Totally applicable to a busy, rushed life. "Slow me Down" by the Robby Seay Band. Click to enjoy!

Linking up this week at: #soulsurvival,  #intentionalTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #threewordWednesday, #livefreeThursday, #belovedbrews, #dancewithJesus, #fellowshipFriday, #graceandtruth, #coffeeforyourheart, #TellHisStory