Back in the Day–Mama Mia Monday

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It is so easy to read verses like the ones shared in my last post. Verses like, “Let us encourage one another,” and “Let us draw near to God.”

But if we keep reading in Hebrews 10, the next bits of text aren’t exactly the things of Dayspring cards. But they are things that we need to read for the days when things get hard and we feel like giving up. Things like:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for our sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” verses 26-27

“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” verse 31

“Remember those early days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.”

Mama Mia!!

In today’s church we often skim over passages that remind us, in the American church, of this part of the call to discipleship. The Hebrews writer even reminds the people of that day of their life, “Back in the Day.” The suffering, the trials and persecution produced a joy for those mistreated for the sake of the name of our Savior, and they knew the consequence of falling into hands of the living God as an enemy rather than a friend. Things today’s western Christians are somewhat out of touch with.

In fact, we are often easily discouraged when things get even a little tough. We want to give up, give in and walk away. All reasons, I believe, the writer of Hebrews wrote these encouraging words:

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will receive what He has promised.” verses 35-37

Mama Mia!

We serve a God who keeps His promises. Yet, we must remember that one of those promises is that we will suffer for the gospel. And even so, He reminds us, encourages us, and spurs us on to not give up.

“He who is coming WILL COME and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” verse 37-38

Then I absolutely LOVE how the chapter finishes with this powerful reminder of who are:

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” verse 39

And when this truth is firmly planted in my heart and soul, I know that I can face anything. For I am not of those who shrink back and are destroyed. I am of those who believe and are saved!

As I write this I am reminded of the Chris Tomlin song, “Whom Shall I Fear?” which says:

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The One who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.

With God at my side, I never need to shrink back again.
Mama Mia!

Snow Cool–Mama Mia Monday

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It’s almost here. Another possibly big snow. People are excited. They are buying up everything on the shelves–well, not everything–I did notice a lot of brussel sprouts still in the produce section. But, everywhere you go the talk is “snow, snow, snow!”

I’m pretty much a snow lover as well as a snow day lover. I happen to be fortunate enough to work for a church with a steep, sloping parking lot!!! That means when it snows a lot it is very hard to get in and out of it. Because we are a church and not a business, we are lower on the plowing priority list, which means my wonderful, super considerate, awesome boss (yeah, he often reads my blog) tells us to just stay home!!!

So what’s a mom to do when there’s no school, no work and no lack of snow. What else? Remember the old saying, “When life gives you snow, make snow ice cream!”? Okay, I know the saying is really, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” But c’mon give me a break, after all once you try the snow ice cream recipe posted at the bottom of the page, you’ll be saying it, too!

While you gather the kiddos to begin scoop of a bunch of the wonderful white stuff, why not dig into what God’s Word has to say about snow. You and your kids may be surprised and some of the “cool” things you find. For example:

Daniel 7:9 says that “the Ancient of Days took his seat and His clothing was as white as snow
Job 37:6 “He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’, and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.'”
Job 38:22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail. . . ”
Isaiah 1:18 “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow;”
Proverbs 26:1 “Like snow in the summer, or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool.”

There are more, of course, and snow days give us a chance to search out God’s Word like an indoor treasure hunt with great riches at the end like cool new info from the Bible, time spent with our kids, and SNOW ICE CREAM!!!

And just in case you don’t have your own great recipe, you can try this one. (It does take raw eggs, but I have never, ever gotten salmonella from eating it. However, if that’s a concern for you, just leave the eggs out.)

IT’S SNOW COOL SNOW ICE CREAM
2 cans evaporated milk or 1 can evap and 1 can sweetened condensed
1 1/2 Cups sugar
1-2 Tablespoons vanilla
3 well beaten eggs
1 large pan of snow (maybe 2 gallons worth)
Beat the sugar and eggs with a mixer. Add milk. Then stir in the snow and eat it up right away–like you’d do anything else with it!

I love how God allows us to see Him in everything. I love how He gives us opportunities as moms to help our kids find Him in places they might not expect, and I love how He takes somewhat ordinary things, like snow and makes them into something extraordinary, like snow ice cream!!

Mama Mia–That’s snow cool!

Pretty Woman–Mama Mia Monday

I never want to be a basher of people. There is just no good that can come from a hateful spirit. I was reminded of just that the other night as I was surfing through the channels and landed at Dance Moms. There simply isn’t enough room to go into what is wrong with this show. And I don’t want to bash it . . . but I can share my observations. I can share my thoughts, my feelings, and my ideas. After all, it’s my blog!!

Honestly, I saw what appeared to be some fairly sweet little girls. No diva-ish behavior or the throwing of tantrums or whatnot. Wait! Let me reword that. None of the girls were being divas or throwing tantrums, but the women. . . .

Mama Mia!

It was simply sad to see so many beautiful, well dressed, well groomed women acting so ugly. And that’s all this mama’s got to say about that.

Because at the same time I was watching the debacle before my eyes, (and, yes, I did wind up turning it off–I know, I know, I don’t have to watch it!) I was doing my multi-tasking, time wasting American duty to also surf through my Facebook page. What I found there was the picture of a lady named Peggy Doty. Underneath the picture were the words, “Pretty Woman.”

Peggy and her husband, Melvin, were our young couples’ Sunday school class teachers back when we lived in eastern Tennessee. They also served in the nursery at our church, watching over our most precious possessions. Peggy is without a doubt, not just a pretty woman, but a beautiful woman–inside and out. I remember her grace, generosity, kindness, love and patience like it was yesterday (but trust me it wasn’t), and after seeing her picture posted, I can only believe that she is still all those things.

Just in case your mind is now playing the “Pretty Woman” song or you are thinking about Julia Roberts in the movie, you need to know Peggy isn’t any Roy Orbison, Julia Roberts kind of pretty woman (although I would take Julia Robert’s character over the women on Dance Moms). She’s a Proverbs 31, noble character, need tendin’, wisdom speakin’, God fearin’ kind of pretty woman. The kind of woman we should be dancin’ about!

Mama Mia!

When did we lose sight of what pretty really is? When did the things modeled to us on television like success, achievement, and the top of the pyramid become the things we set our sights on rather than the things modeled to us by the Peggy Doty’s of the world?

I hope all our daughters learn to dance. I just hope they learn to a different dance–one that reflects the true beauty of a pretty woman.

Just a side note. . . I don’t yet have permission to post a picture of Peggy, but if I ever do, I’ll be sure to add it in. As I went back to her FB page I realized that she has moved into my state just a few hours away, and I’m overwhelmed with excitement at the possibility of getting to see this oh-so-pretty woman again!

That’s Not Fair–Mama Mia Monday

unfair

Sometimes the kids at our church just crack me up, and yesterday was one of those days. We were talking about fairness and unfairness and it seems HiSKidZ have some pretty interesting ideas about both.

Our lesson centered on “the twins,” brothers Jacob and Esau. Jacob had treated Esau unfairly and it could have seemed fair for Esau to have wanted to get back, be mad or hold a grudge again his brother Jacob for all he had done. We talked about how sometimes we need to let go of what we think we deserve or what we think is fair, value the person more than the thing, and be thankful for what we have.

We ended the day by playing a little mix up game of fair and unfair where HiSKidZ chose either the “fair” side of the room or the “unfair” side of the room based on the statements I made. For example:

–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that your parents get to pick the toppings on the pizza? (Mostly unfair)
–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you get to pick the toppings on the pizza? (Mostly fair)

–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that kids have to help with chores around the house? (Mostly unfair, but quite a few fair)
–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that moms have to do most of the chores around the house? (Mostly fair, but a few even verbally stood up for their moms!)

–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you have to go to school tomorrow? (Mostly unfair)
–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that kids in other countries may not have a school to go to at all? (Practically all unfair)

–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you have this great church to go to (All fair)
–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you have friends that don’t have a great church to go to? (Unfair)

–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you don’t have the electronic devices that you want? (Mostly unfair, some happy they have them)
–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you have electronic devices? (A classroom divided-lol)
–Do you think it’s fair or unfair that you have so much when other people have so little? (We sat down on this one, because we had so much discussion going on!)

We had a lot of fun with this, and all in all as we talked it through many of our kids began to express how much they had to be thankful for–even things they didn’t always think were fair. One mentioned that even if they didn’t always get to pick what went on the pizza, they were getting to have pizza. And even if they didn’t like school, they were getting to learn. If they didn’t like doing chores, they should be happy they have a house and a family. If they didn’t always like their clothes, they still had lots of clothes to wear. One little girl, stood up and adamantly declared, “Moms shouldn’t have to do all the work!” (I wonder where she heard that!)

thankful2

Through our lesson and game, we began to see that it isn’t always about “fair.” It’s about people, and being thankful for what we have. And although I never used the entitlement word, we gained a slightly greater sense that we aren’t entitled to everything we think is fair.

In the book of Proverbs, chapter 31 the words of an oracle King Lemuel’s mom (that’s probably Bathsheba) had taught him are written down. A few of them speak to “fairness” and those who aren’t treated fairly. It says:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Proverbs 31:8-9

That’s some pretty fair advice whether your son is about to become king of the Israelite nation or he’s just a kid in your typical school classroom. As moms, we have great opportunities to remind our children that God calls us to care for those in need. To speak up for them and treat them with respect and concern for them as a person, treating them not only as we would want to be treated, but as God would want us to treat them. Because, after all, nothing really seems fair about how God has given us so much more than we could ever deserve. Grace is surely not fair, but I’m oh so thankful it’s been given to me, and that I can pass it on to those God brings across my path each day.

So let’s keep on using the moments God gives us to help our kids learn to look for ways they can show compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and love to those that come along their path each day. None of us “deserve” what God has given us and well, honestly, the way He loves us and treats us, well, y’know, really, “that’s just not fair!”

The Opportunity Idol–Mama Mia Monday

trophy_goldenI had lunch with a friend Friday. She and I have some of our best talks over a good grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of soup. Friday was no exception, and we found ourselves discussing the opportunity/church dilemma. Simply put, when an opportunity arises between (fill in the blank _________________________) and church, ____________________ is chosen. Understand, I’m not legalistically saying there is never a time when you can’t miss church because of another commitment, however, as a mom, a Christian and a Children’s Ministry leader I believe that due to the exponential increase in this occurence, there is cause for alarm. I take a risk saying those words, let alone putting them in print, but I feel like I take an even bigger risk if I don’t.

Several times through the years I have taught the Biblical account of King Saul trying to kill his son-in-law David (I Samuel 19:11-16). In this passage we read that David’s wife, Saul’s daughter, Michal, let David down through a window so that he could flee and escape. “Then she took an idol and laid it in the bed, covering it with a garment and putting some goats’ hair at the head.” (Makes me wonder about David’s hair a little.)

Saul sent his men to get David, and when they got to the house they found the idol, not David, in the bed.

WAIT! WHAT???? HUH??? What in the world was an idol doing in the house of David?? Let alone an idol big enough to pose as a person sleeping in a bed. Every time I taught that lesson I had a hard time with that little fact. Understanding that idol worship had a hold on parts of Israel, I would always find myself baffled at the fact that the King of Israel’s daughter and the future king had this idol in their house.

Until God not-so-subtlely asked me to look around my own home. Could it be that I had an idol or two around that I had never noticed before? Did I need to cut David and Michal a little slack? No! I needed to get the idols out of my house!

Exodus 20:3 clearly states that nothing is to come before God.
Luke 10:27 says to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”
Hebrews 10:25 reminds us to “not stop meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.”

Yet, I continue to hear families saying, “But they have wrestling, dance, football, basketball, gymnastics, baseball, tournaments, scouts, family outings, 6 Flags, concerts. . . . . . and it’s a great opportunity.” “If they are going to be on the traveling team, they have to play on Sundays (or Wednesdays). “They made a commitment to the team, and I want them to learn to keep commitments.”

Hello!! We’ve made a commitment to Christ!!! To put Him first, to be a part of His team, His family, His purposes and His plan. And that commitment isn’t being kept. Yet, for some reason that seems to be okay.

When we teach our children to put a commitment to a hobby before a commitment to God and His family, is it any wonder that these same children are totally walking away from their commitment to Christ as they get older?

Certainly there are no guarantees that our children won’t choose the world even if they are in church every Sunday. Which is why it’s important to note that I’m not just talking about church attendance here. I am talking about lives committed to following Jesus Christ. Lives, personal preferences, fleshly wants that are being laid down so that we can pick up a cross. Why aren’t worried about them missing out on that???

Mama Mia!

Today I would like to ask you to take a sincere assessment of your home and see if it is at all possible that there may be an idol or two lying around that are in need of being destroyed and cast out.

If you have heard God speaking to you about these things, but maybe you haven’t wanted to listen, listen today. If you are just hearing Him now for the first time, listen. Maybe you’ve been fighting the battle and are just about ready to give in, if so, then my encouragement to you is to stay the course. If you have chosen to make activities and opportunities a part of your life, but not first place in your life, then I want to cheer you on for not only putting God first, but for being a light in what is becoming a darker world. Because of all the things I would never want to have your kids miss out on. . . of all the things I would never want my kids to miss out on, it would be the opportunity to be part of God’s team, God’s family, God’s bench, God’s kingdom. All in, 100%, totally committed, for all eternity.

It’s sort of like the old saying that at the end of his days you never hear the executive saying that he wishes he had spent more time at the office. Neither is it our experience that we hear Christian parents saying as their kids grow up that they wish they had spend less time with God and more time on the field.

Luke 18:26-30
“Who then can be saved?”
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Peter said to Him, “We have left all we had to follow you.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Mama Mia Monday–Hide it in Your Heart

I’m trying to shake things up with the blog here lately. So, at least for a little while, each day of the week  will have it’s own theme. My thought process here is that it will keep me blogging more, and that the things I blog will become a bit more compartmentalized beyond all the tagging and labeling, etc. So Mondays have become Mama Mia Mondays, filled with a tasty tidbit of something for each of the Mamas who read. (Dad’s may like it, too, but it’s really for moms!)

So we are jumping right in today with a topic that has been on my heart for sometime. Scripture memorization. Truth–I stink at it. I’m much better at Scripture paraphrazation. I generally remember the gist of a verse, enough to google it and get the whole thing. Or I have memorized where it is in my Bible (like “I know it’s near the middle somewhere on the left hand column of the right side of one of the pages.”) But ultimately getting it to really stick in my brain is really hard for me.

And of course, anything that is hard we are allowed to just skip over, right? WRONG! Often in my mothering, I like to treat myself like I would treat our sons. And I would not let them get away with just not doing something because it’s hard. We tackle hard things. We embrace challenge (often with a Diet Coke and some Dove Chocolate in hand). We jump the hurdles and we finish the race marked out for us.

It’s almost February y’know–The month of LOVE!!! So  let’s ask God to give us a love for His Word, to give our kids a love for His Word, and to begin to make intentional strides to memorizing, not just paraphrizing, His Word.

I found a great little site www.theflourishingabode.com with free Scripture printables. There are tons of these kind of sites out there, where you can find fun artwork to blast around your house, keeping the verse you are working on in front of you in style! Here’s a free printable I got recently–it’s always been a favorite prayer verse of mine.

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I also picked up a CD of Scripture songs by the Justin Graves Band last week when I was at the Children’s Ministry Expo.

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And I’m looking really closely at a program from Impress Kids to help our families in the Memorization Adventure Journey!

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There are so many ways to start getting God’s Word into our hearts, heads, spirits and souls. Post it notes, apps, drawings, songs, etc.

What great resource are you using right now to put God Word into your life and the life of your kids? Or what struggles do you face as you try to hide God’s Word in your heart?

I’d love to hear what you are doing at home for yourself, with your kids or in your church. Post below or drop me a note letting me know what’s working for you!