Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Best Birthday of All!

In our Sunday School class last Sunday, we talked about how we unintentionally make our children an idol (as a result of jealousy). We compare how our kids look, act, perform, etc. to other people's kids. We turn it into this unspoken competition. We do whatever it takes to make our kids look good.

We discussed the topic of Birthday Parties. How we feel like we HAVE to go all out for our child's birthday parties. We were saying things like, "I just CANT believe some people spend X amount of money or hand make their kids party favors and poop out a pinterest perfect party." Well....Um...That's jealousy too. We trash talk how other mom's choose to do things just to hide the fact that we've been outdone and want to make ourselves feel better.

In the midst of our discussion we kind of all decided that it's ok if parties are elaborately perfectly done, and its ok if you just put up one balloon, eat a cake, and call it a day. Then a wise lady said this...

We are making a bigger deal out of our kids birthday parties than we do out of 
celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

I've been so convicted about that all week. What have I been doing? Sure we have a quick discussion about how it's all about Jesus, we read the Christmas story. Then they go nuts opening presents. Here are some simple thoughts on things that I have done or will try to make sure Jesus is the biggest deal this Christmas season. THEN I want to hear your ideas!

1. Last year, after every gift that we opened we all would say, "This is good, but Jesus is better!"
2. Last year, we put $20 in each kids stocking with a note saying they had to find a way to use the money to help someone in need. Carley chose to buy shoes for Buckner. Colin chose to buy a few toys to put in the hospital play room at Scottish Rite hospital.
3. This one got a little loud in my car, but last year, every time we passed by a house or building with Christmas lights, we would shout, "Happy Birthday Jesus!"
4. Read the Christmas Story. Make it interactive depending on their age. If they are 2-3 years of age, have them jump up every time you say, "Jesus" or "Son of God." If they are preschool age, have them draw a picture of what they visualize while you slowly read the story.If they are school age. Have them write a summary or their favorite part or what they think is the most important thing that happened. Have them act out certain parts. Play cherades with things from the story. Anything!
5. We watched a video at our church from The Skit Guys about how this man stole baby Jesus from their nativity set and hid it. He left clues all over the house for his kids... making this a week or 2 long search for Jesus. The point was to make the whole season about seeking Christ.
5. Quit asking your kids so much what they want for Christmas. Our kids are fine. They have enough. Start asking them what they should give instead. 
6. Somehow try to explain to your kids (depending on their age) the connection between Christmas and Easter. That He was born to die so that we could someday pray for Him to save our lives.

I have absolutely nothing against Santa, buying your kids presents, and all that fun that comes with Christmas. I just know that I HAVE to be more intentional about making the biggest deal out of Jesus for my kids...and myself. 

Tell me your ideas/thoughts on ways to make this happen for your family. Whether you have babies or teenagers. I want to hear it all!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My how the tables have turned...

When we lived in Marshall, we had this teeny tiny dining room table that used to be my parent's. It was in my house growing up and it was passed on to us when Jeff and I got married. Such sweet memories. Colin and Carley ate their first baby food at that table, we ate many a meals there, Jeff spent countless nights studying at that table. But it was too little, and so rickety, and creaked at every wiggle of the table. I actually cried a little when I sold the table. So when we moved to our new house in Ennis, it was naturally time to look for a new table. We had a much bigger eating area and I knew we'd be fostering and needed something bigger. I knew exactly what I wanted. But what I wanted was expensive. So I searched for a few months online for a good deal on what I wanted and started saving. Much to my surprise I found the PERFECT table on Craigslist for about half the price I was expecting to spend!

Why would I blog about a table? There is just so much that happens at this table for our family. It's more than just a table. It's a place where memories are made, ideas happen, lessons are learned, and love is shared. Some of those moments are intentional and planned, some not.

I often think of big events at this table. The holiday meals and the signing of papers when we've received a foster child. But it's also the mundane that happens at the table that is important too. The helping of homework, the Saturday morning breakfasts with puffy eyed and messy haired children, the board games we've played with family and friends.

We "try" to have family devotionals together at the table. We don't have them as often as we should and some are not as successful as others. We've had a few conversations about God that assure me that God is working on my children's heart and other conversations that end with me saying, "Nevermind. Just go play..."

I love that we share this table with kids that aren't our own. Our first foster child spent more time at this table making Colin and Carley laugh until they couldn't breathe because he could burp on command. Then we had the opportunity to pull a high chair up to this table that held our second foster child. We called that her "happy place." She loved to sit there and eat and smile and talk.

I am not a cook. I don't enjoy it and I'm not very good at it. So we've shared some meals at our table that we've forced our way through. It's sometimes even hard for me to keep my own rule of, "Eat, whether you like it or not." We've argued at this table. We've all said words that we don't mean and raised our voices and cried at this table. Yet, we gather back the next day as a family and try again. Because that is what God wants us to do. To forgive and to love and to keep striving toward holiness as a family...together.

I look forward to more memories at our table. I pray for those moments...even the frustrating ones. I pray for more conversations where my children learn more about who God is. I look forward to inviting another foster child to join us at the table. I look forward to hearing cracking voices of puberty and even the rolling eyes of adolescence at that table. And I pray that God will teach me how to gracefully handle arguments that happen there. I even pray that I'll learn to cook more pleasurable meals that we can honestly say, "That was good!"

I just love the beauty of our table holding the messiness of our lives and the graceful times of life. The table is always there for us to meet together regardless of life's circumstances. God is the same way. He is constant and there for me to meet with whether I am loving life or not.