Our Family Date Marathon

The kids had been crazy lately. Mean really. They argued over every thing. Who opens the chili. Who rides the hoverboard. Who takes the dog out. I was full-time referee and done with it.

First, I prayed the desperate prayer of a tired Mama. These are the 2 verses I focused on-

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)–God, give us one, just one, peacemaker among these 5 hoodlums.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)–God, help our kids to unite with You and each other as one not many.

Jeremy and I also wondered if maybe the kids needed a break from each other. Maybe there’d been too much togetherness lately. But how do we get all 5 of them on individual dates at one time?

Here’s what we came up with:

1.We need a sitter to keep those who aren’t “dating.” (For us that was Stephen…how do we have a kid that old?)

2.It has to be a big deal. Unexpected. “Guess what everyone…we’re having our first ever family date marathon tonight.” Followed by blank stares.

3.Every child gets to pick his or her restaurant but it has to be quick and close by.

4.Kids left at home get to pick a Netflix show for everyone else to watch (and to help Stephen).

Then we did it.

I took Kenan to Moe’s while Jeremy took Esther to Wendy’s.

We met back at home and switched dates. I took Jonathan to Wendy’s and Jeremy took Caleb to Moe’s.

Lastly, Jeremy went home and started bedtime while I took Stephen to a local taco truck.

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And for bonus these are the 3 questions we ask our big boys on dates:
1-What is the hardest (worst) thing in your life right now?
2-What is the easiest (best) thing in your life right now?
3-What is God teaching you right now?

In total, our family date marathon took 2 hours, cost less than taking our whole family out, and Jeremy and I ate samplings from different restaurants. And more importantly, our kids went to bed feeling cherished as an individual not a group.

Has the arguing gotten better? Some days yes. And some days no. Our kids fight the same sin nature as me and Jeremy so I’m not expecting a date night to fix that. But we’re still praying and trusting. Knowing that God has good plans for all of us because of His steadfast love and compassion.

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:10-13)

 

 

 

 

 

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The Wrestling Match of Parenting

I toggle between two words when it comes to parenting.

Pride and Fear

On good days, I feel pride.
Yes, we’re doing something right.
Yes, our kids will make wise choices.

On bad days, I feel fear.
No, we’re not doing anything right.
No, our kids won’t make wise choices.

It’s a sticky spot. There’s a balance between pride and fear we can rest in. And honestly, our feelings aren’t up for the task of telling us where to land.

When I’m in the wrestling match between pride and fear, our kids get the punches. They get the mood swings. They get the “here’s a little freedom” versus “do what I say” versions of Mom at various, unpredictable moments.

I have the power to create a home in limbo or at peace. And it’s settled by my choice to rest in the stableness of God or the movement of my emotions.

The days will change. The kids will change. But He won’t. It is finished. For my kids and yours.

We fight our pride with prayer and our fear with faith. Because He is listening. He is steadfast. And His mercies are new every morning.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22,23)

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10 whole years ago today…The Yes over the No

10 years ago today we were in revival services at church.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

Jeremy came down and poked his head in the nursery where I was serving. He had a sly grin on his face.

“David from the Summit Church just called and asked me to pray about being their Kids’ Pastor.”

I laughed…out loud!

“You’re a Student Pastor. Not a Kids’ Pastor.”

And we forgot about it. Didn’t pray. Moved on.

Because we were somewhere special. Somewhere sweet. Surrounded by people who had cared for us the past year like we were blood relatives. (Union Grove…we LOVE you!)

And who in the world would move from a place like that?

A week passed and he called back. And Jeremy and I began to figure…huh…maybe we should actually ask God about this.

So we did. Over and over again.

“God, we don’t want to leave. Really. We love these students. Their parents. This staff. We’ve seen You move. We’ve got events planned. Surely this is some kind of test.”

But it wasn’t. And time made it clear. God was calling our family to the Summit Church.

Stephen was 2. I was due with Caleb in 8 weeks. The timing was bad.

We went to Lifeway and purchased a book about Kids’ Ministry. We poured over it like a college textbook.

A few months later we said some hard (really hard) goodbyes. And joined the Summit family.

And holy moly…only God could have known what He was doing!

10 whole years!

It’s been fun and hard and I’ve cried some and we’ve been stretched lots and I love the people here and still love the people at Union Grove.

Too many emotions and grace to even put down.

God has been faithful. He’s changed us. He’s taught us. We’ve gone deep in the Gospel and tried to impact wide.

To all those who journeyed with us before 10 years ago. We love you. And to those who believed in us while we struggled through new town and new ministry. We love you. And to those who still hold our hands and believe in God’s good plans for us. We love you.

What a 10 year ride it has been!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20,21)

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The week we moved.

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Where has the time gone? (And where did all those kids come from?)

An Epic Anniversary…

Today is post-14 year wedding anniversary. It was epic.

Last night Jeremy had a meeting (plus we celebrated last week). The kids and I stayed here…

We ate Kraft mac and cheese, cleaned the house, played with water balloons, and all things happy anniversary!

Despite the 125 degrees outside and my 150 degree attitude (not kidding), we took a pre-bedtime bike ride.

We stopped to talk to a neighbor. She takes care of her paralyzed husband every day, all day. Never leaves. Can’t. And she tells me he’s getting worse.

I could cry.

Then I blurt it out. Tell her it’s our 14th anniversary. Ask for wisdom. How does she do what she does day in and day out? How does marriage work after 42 years?

And she asks me these 2 questions: 1-Do you love him? Yes, I answer. 2-Aren’t your kids little? Yes, again.

Then it’s simple. This is a season. It will pass. Marriage takes hard work. It takes prayer.

That was it. Timely.

In “The Meaning of Marriage,” Tim Keller writes, “This means we must say to ourselves something like this: ‘Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think, ‘I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.’ No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us-denying him, abandoning him, betraying him-and in the greatest act of love in history, he stayed. He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely. That is why I am going to love my spouse’.”

Then that. Wow. Happy anniversary!=)

And walk in love,as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

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We found a waterfall on last week’s anniversary trip!

Notes From If-Part 3 (Prayer doesn’t work)

Thoughts from the day we left Austin to fly home. I was kind of a mess!=)…

What did I learn this weekend? My immediate response-“Prayer doesn’t work.”

We prayed Jeremy would get better. Trusted each new Dr and medicine would work. But a week later, now on a plane home with a still very sick husband, my faith is weak. “Prayer doesn’t work.” That’s my honest feeling right now.

If thinking clearly, my answer would be much different. It’s not something new I learned but a reminder. A smack in the face reminder-“God is only good.” I don’t want to swallow it because the fresh thoughts that “prayer doesn’t work” are colliding with the Spirit.

But my soul knows it. Deeply. In car wrecks that have haunted me through Jeremy’s weak eyes this weekend. In failed plans to serve God in Austin this weekend. He is good. Good.

When my prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling of a quiet hotel or the ceiling of a noisy plane He is still good.

Unanswered prayers suck. And hurt. And make me want to scream. But God is still good.

He listens as I complain. He holds me as I punch the air. He asks me to dance, to trust Him, to keep praying in the pain. He is good.

I will keep saying it in hopes I will one day believe it no matter the state of my prayers.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31,32)

…And thankfully, Jeremy is much better now that we’re back in NC!

130 (Beating the Red Dragon at Great Wolf Lodge last December…notice Jeremy’s smug look of accomplishment, and Caleb’s hands in the air!!)