Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stress Be Gone!

I don't know about you, but when the seasons change...the stress seems to build around here. This seems to be a season with quite a bit of change as all the kids are now in school and I've been trying to figure out the right balance of work vs. family/home time.  And of course, what seemed like a simple transition got a bit more complicated when an unexpected job possibility popped up...and then ultimately dropped off the radar as suddenly as it appeared, leaving chaos and stress in it's wake.
Why is that?  You'd think after quite a few years of life on earth, us humans would be a little more adaptable.  I even claim to be a pretty laid back person, but a change in routine or even thoughts about change can send me into hyper-stress mode...

So I give you my solution: Stress Be Gone!  (Only $19.95 plus $7.95 processing and handling.  Act now and get one free and pay only the processing and handling fee.  A double blind study in Timbuktu shows fast results for 63% of participants.  Avoid where prohibited.  Not valid in New Mexico.  Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness and constipation.)

So I found myself generally freaking out with adjusting to the school schedule and suddenly filling out a job application and finding references and researching going back to school(for a PART-TIME job, mind you!)...when I had to stop and breath and figure out a plan before jumping over the edge.  Here are my tried an true stress relievers.  Feel free to add your own in the comments section!

1. Don't neglect your time with God.  It's so easy to skip that quiet time when the routine gets disrupted and life is overwhelming...or miss church a week or two...neglect serving at church or elsewhere...but DON'T DO IT.  If anything, it's time for me to spend a little more time in the Bible and prayer.  To keep at what I said I would do for church. To sit at the piano and just play and praise until the anxiousness fades away.

2. Share your stress; there are those who can share your burden even though vulnerability is hard.  I'm a bottler.  I will keep everything locked up inside sometimes until it explodes.  So it's good for me to schedule a time to meet a friend when I'm feeling pressured and we get to catch up and eat something yummy.  And there's a few awesome friends out there that I can share my worries with and I KNOW they will pray me through it!  And my husband is a great sounding board, too.  I may not always agree with his take on my decision, change, dilemma, worry, circumstance...but he certainly lends a more objective perspective that whittles down the mountains I make out of molehills.

3. Determine what kind of stress it is.  There are some stressful circumstances in which I have absolutely no control over.  None...nada...zilch.  With those things I can continue to stew, letting it steal my time, mind, heart and energy.  Or I can decide to trust God, give it to Him, and keep giving it to him each and every time my mind wanders back to worry.  Sigh.  It's my default setting.  God's been working in me a lot on this for the past, oh...20 plus years.  However, there are some types of stress that I have created myself and could do something that will improve it.  Sometimes I need to have a conversation I'm not looking forward to.  Sometimes it is doing a task that I have been putting off.  Sometimes it's simply making a decision.  When I act, the reason to be stressed is gone!  I know I've done all I can do!  Then like the other stress, I give it to God. Yet sometimes I'm tempted to play the dramatic stressed victim a little bit longer before I am pushed to action.  Woe is me!  I do declare, how whilst I ever survive this terrible stress?!?  That's just unnecessary.  And not Godly. I DO need to be careful and think through my decisions and actions.  But more than a day of contemplation for me usually just adds drama.

4. If I've worked through 1-3, my next step is to do "happy things." If I'm feeling pretty good, it's a dog walk or a bike ride.  A visit to somewhere pretty.  A little browsing at Goodwill.  Listening to my favorite music.  Reading something light. Talking to my hilarious kids.  Doing some porch sitting with my hubby. Drinking a good cup of coffee/tea.  Eating ice cream/chocolate/that stupid key lime Greek yogurt that has become way too much of a staple in my diet...  I'm fortunate to have lots of good "go-tos" I've developed over the years that keep my mind and emotions in a healthy place.  And I've learned to work them in here and there even when there's a LOT to get done in a day.

OK, all jokes and Greek yogurt aside, some stress is more than we can handle even with the stuff listed above.  Illness, death, heartache and tragedies are on many of our doorsteps.  The long term really tough and really real things in life require a network of supportive people, God's continual grace and encouragement, and many times professional help to overcome. And I don't want to minimize that.  I just know that much of my personal stress is not big things.  It's little things that inch their way into my heart and set up camp where the one and only, true, living and loving God should be. "Oh for grace to trust Him more," right? 

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I do have a part-time job.  Well, three actually.  1. A few music students one afternoon/evening a week.  2. I frequently watch a couple of awesome kiddos after school.  3. I will be starting to volunteer for AmeriCorps I think next week (training tomorrow!).  And although it's technically "volunteer" work, I will get a living stipend each month and money towards going back to school.  So all in good time, maybe that other job option will work out.  But for now, work plus school plus not quite enough money to pay for school guessed it...too much STRESS! :)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (I Peter 5:6-7)

Friday, August 16, 2013

34 is the new 34!

Today is my birthday!  I made myself blueberry pancakes, I am still sitting in my pj's at lunch, and I get to attend my kids' school open house tonight.  Probably not the birthday I dreamed about when I was a kid, but definitely a good birthday for easing into my mid-thirties.  Pardon me whilst I wax nostalgic.

At Sixteen.  My five best girlfriends in high school (In sixth grade three cousins sat at lunch with their best friends and the crew was born!) threw a slumber party for me and we had tons of fun.  By that time we spent less time together because boys and a million and one extra curricular activities had gotten in the way, but I have ALWAYS appreciated them doing that for me and I'm very happy to catch up with them from time to time.  They are an awesome, smart, and talented group of women who do some amazing things these days... Also, somebody teepeed my house for my sixteenth birthday.  I always have suspected the boys in my youth group but never proved it.  Outwardly, I was annoyed because I had to clean it up.  Inwardly, it was the best compliment they could have given me.  They thought of me enough to annoy my entire family and neighborhood.

At Twenty One.  I drove down to Frank's parents house in the wilderness outside Deputy, Indiana to spend my birthday with him.  We spent a lot of the day by the creek just hiking and playing around in the water.  So much for becoming an adult!  I lost one of the lenses out of my glasses and drove four hours home with one eye closed.  I was about to start my senior year at ISU and had no clue what the future held.  I always thought I'd go to grad school or something (Um, I had no real plan), but I quickly saw my future changing to include this guy named Frank Sabelhaus.  Less than a year later he would lead me, in the middle of the night, to that same creek to propose, the way illuminated by some kind of light he had to rig with a car battery because he couldn't find a flashlight. that man.

At Thirty. It seems odd that just four short years ago I was entering the thirties and my oldest child was starting kindergarten.  Now my youngest starts kindergarten on Monday, and I feel like a school age mom veteran.  While I'm wistful that there are no more babies, no more toddlers, no more pre-schoolers's hard to be sad when my newly minted five year old is "JUST. SO. EXCITED!" for school.  He is very ready for this and I can't wait to see how much he learns and grows this year!  At thirty I was soon to begin my awesome job as the Jobs for America's Graduates teacher in Vincennes.  I still had a pre-schooler and a baby. We were living in Sullivan but working hard with the church plant in Terre Haute.  Never ending work on the house. Frank was working for the city. I had no idea chronic illness loomed in my future.

At Thirty Three. It's been weirdly cold this August and I can't help but compare it to a year ago when we were still moving into the house in Terre Haute...and it was just so hot and so dry.  Everything was in upheaval with moving and remodeling the house and I was apprehensive about how changing schools would go for the kids, how I would adjust to staying at home again for the most part, what church we would attend, what lay ahead for my health...  Lots of question marks that God has turned into exclamation points of thankfulness this year.  Plus my Momma came to visit for a little chaos control and took me out to eat and shopping for my birthday.  She's the best!

Today. Just so blessed.  Just so thankful.  Even though I don't physically feel great this week, I now get infusions with medicine that is very effective for my ulcerative colitis and I know after my infusion next week I will be feeling better soon.  Chronic illness is a lifelong roller coaster learning process.  It is ever changing and the solutions must change along with it...but I have had so many ups this year and just a few downs.  We(read: Frank, poor Frank) are STILL working on the house...Annabelle's room will soon be completed and her stuff is strewn about the house at the moment, but I now have a beautiful living room, dining room, and kitchen thanks to my AMAZING husband.  I had a good year teaching some music students and am looking forward to teaching again this year with some returning faces and maybe some new ones.  Annabelle and Joey had a great year at their new school!  They handled the transition better than I did, probably, and it has been a very positive change. Also, the kids and I have truly had the best summer...being lazy when we want to, getting some things done when we had to, and exploring the world around us in some just plain fun ways.  I have dreamed of a summer like that since I became a parent and I finally had the opportunity to do it!  We've attended Maryland Community Church this year.  Not only have we grown spiritually and been challenged there, we have the extra blessing of meeting and becoming friends with some great people.  Friends I think I'll have for a very long time!  And I'm kind of in awe that Frank and I get to be a part of the worship team, too.  What a privilege and joy to serve on that team.  And the icing on the cake (Ooooh, birthday metaphor, watch out!) are yet even more things God has brought my the opportunity to watch some great kids after school and earn a little extra money for my family...or getting to reconnect with some of my college friends that live close by...or making a new friend who shares my same disease and "gets" me...getting to lead devotional worship at the House of Prayer each week...or bringing the perfect Assistant Girl Scout Leader to me who actually LIKES keeping track of the bank account! 

Thirty four is a fantastic place to be.  I don't wish I was younger.  In some ways I feel younger and freer today than a decade ago.  Wiser, more confident, and more fun.  I can more easily let the unimportant go and cling to the important and know the difference between the two.  I get full night of sleep now that the kids are older.  Highlights still mask my strands of grey. And I can rock some chucks without people giving me the stink eye.  I don't really wish I was the time next year rolls around...35 will be the new 35, and that will be cool, too.

The Future.  So, I can't just sit and eat chocolate and watch day time TV while my kids are at school this year, right?  (Well, maybe from time to time.)  But I don't really desire to enter the rat race of full time employment either.  So I've got some part-time AmeriCorps volunteering that's in the works for this year...along with music lessons, some watching kiddos after school, Girl Scouts, church stuff, continuing to take care of the home front...yeah.  I'll stay busy.  But hopefully not TOO busy.  And if health allows, I still would love to finish a half marathon by age 40(or next year!).  Maybe go back to school or back to a career or both...but all in good time...all in God's time.

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
(Isaiah 40:28-31)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Being Last

Do you ever have a day where you wake up and from the get-go, God seems to have a specific message for your day?  Like wherever you go- there it is!  That doesn't happen a lot for me, but when it does, I can't help but slow down and say..."Ok, God.  I'm listening!  Teach away."

So...Sunday morning I sat down to my bowl of cereal and my giant cup of coffee and a chapter or two of Genesis, which is what I've been reading in the mornings.  I'm pretty familiar with most of the stories in Genesis, but as I was reading Genesis Chapter 48, I found the passage is less familiar than most.  It is about how Jacob is blessing Joseph's two sons before he dies.  Strangely, he crosses his arms while putting his hands on the heads of the two sons.  He puts his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the younger son, and he puts his left hand on the head of Manasseh, the older son.  The right hand symbolized the bigger blessing and their dad, Joseph, gets kind of grumpy about it.  To paraphrase it, he calls his dad out on the mistake...Um,'re pretty old...maybe you didn't realize Manasseh is older...and then Jacob simply replies he meant to do it that way.  So end of discussion! 

Taken out of context this seems like a strange little occurrence, but a little side note in my study Bible caught my eye.  It reminded me that the younger brother had a history of getting the blessing in this family.  So it wasn't so strange!  After all, Jacob elevated Joseph, the second youngest son in his family, to be his favorite.  Jacob also tricked his older brother out of his birthright and received a bigger blessing from his father, Isaac.  And Isaac was given preference and inheritance over HIS older brother Ishmael.  It was a whole long line of the younger brother over the older, totally contrary to the customs of that day, I imagine. what?

Well, I would have filed this under interesting but not really relevant to my life(Hey, I'm the oldest!)...until...I was prodded with the concept of humility for the rest of the day.  There are certain modern day prophets that exist today, although I think they are pretty rare.  I am very fortunate to count Marvin Adams, the director of the Wabash Valley International House of Prayer, as a friend and one of these prophetic and spiritually beautiful people.  Shortly after my Bible reading on Sunday, he posted this on facebook (used here with permission!):

"I know of only one kingdom that isn't based on selfish gain, that is built on servanthood and that you enter through a cross. It's power is based in hiddeness and humility where the first are last and the last are first. I long for that kingdom to be fully manifest and restored to its rightful place. I have an ache til that happens."

BOOM!  And with that, the dots were connected for me.  Abraham and his descendants weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  There was a lot of deception and hurt in those generations taking blessings traditionally held by the oldest son.  BUT.  God had, and continues to have, a large scope of a plan and it was already unfolding.  There were principles already being established in book one of the Bible that would mesh with the coming of Jesus hundreds of years later far down the same family line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  Namely:

The last will be first.

I had to laugh to myself when we arrived at church that evening and I opened up my bulletin to the sermon outline.  First point: Humble ourselves.  Text: All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God apposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)
Of course!  A verse from the new testament on humility that quotes a verse from Proverbs in the Old Testament!  So, God has intentionally been putting an emphasis and importance on humility in his people for a long time.  I get it!  But...what's the application here?  For me?

Well, Peter was writing to the first century Christians being persecuted and killed for their beliefs.  And even though they weren't high on the social ladder, they were instructed to persevere and also serve each other, too.  My context is as a white, straight, Christian woman in her thirties living in the Midwest of the U.S.A. with her middle class (what DOES that mean???) family in the first part of the 21st century.  By the standards of most of the population of the world and most of the population of my own country, state, and city, I am beyond privileged.  I am no where near last in any measurable category.  Sometimes I feel pretty far down in the athletic ability...but last?  Probably not.  (Unless you count the many 3200s I ran in high school track.  I was last a lot.)

And if I'm honest, I do desire that other people would have the same opportunities as myself.  To have their needs met physically and relationally.  To have access to health and education and to pursue a career and family and not be persecuted and treated like someone without value.  God made everyone unique and valuable enough for his perfect son to die for specifically THEM.  Everyone should not just have equality but an infinite value placed upon their life.  But how do I show others everyday that they do indeed hold this value?  That they are beyond just equal to myself and that they can go first and I can go last?  That is simply hard to live. Extremely hard.  We struggle as a country to ensure equal rights for all and define what that even is.  So how much more is the struggle to put others AHEAD of ourselves?  I'm not trying to get political here.  Really.  I am just struggling to put into motion the huge challenge of Jesus of living a daily life where I put God first and others before myself. 

I don't know about you, but I am guilty of taking the last ice cream treat in the freezer and eating it secretly before my kids find me.  I am guilty of not doing a chore on purpose, and hoping my husband does it instead.  I can't even put my own flesh and blood first with stupid little things, let alone big important things of spiritual impact!  It's hard to get over myself and show others that I think they are valuable because God has made them of great value.  So I ask God to change me and continue to work in my heart so that a life of selflessness and humility grows.  It becomes natural and causes others to ask...why?  It's so backwards to what the world defines as success.  You can't help but stand out when you willingly become last.

So, along with this I think I'm going to study the life of Jesus for awhile to find examples of how he puts others first.  Which is good, because I'm running out of chapters in Genesis.  And I'll ask for examples from my readers.  How do you put others first?  How do you make yourself last (but not forget God has made you valuable, too!  Even Jesus had to take care of himself and rest up!)?

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (Matthew 19:30)
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mid-Summer Madness

Well, I was talking with friends during the holiday...and I said it out loud.  "I have written myself out...for the moment."  Not that I don't think about writing or have anything to say...I'm sure inspiration could hit again anytime.  But all my ideas are kind of...meh.  But, I did semi-promise an update on my big list of things to do to keep the kids from being bored this I can surely do that!  (If you want to check out the list, you can find it here: .)  Plus it gives me an excuse not to trim some weeds that have literally grown into trees around here.  (Last summer= death and dryness.  This summer= tropical rain forest. Ahhhh...Indiana.)

So. What have we been up to?  Here's what we've crossed off the list so far!

1. We've visited the library several times.  Annabelle and I tend to run of reading material quickly...and we went to the water show they had which was ok, but we'd seen the same one in Sullivan last year and it wasn't a very water show day.
2. We've made it to the Terre Haute Children's Museum once so far and I'm sure we'll be back before the summer ends.
3. We had a great picnic day at Dobbs park and looked around the Native American Museum, the Nature Center and took a nice walk on the trails.
4. We've ended up swimming at the pond at Fowler Park a few times.  Kind of reminds me of Price's pond where I grew up...little beach...some shady trees to throw your stuff under.  We like it, although I try to go earlier in the day.  It seems more crowded later on, and since it's free...some of the, ahem, patrons, can have some colorful language.  But I'm cheap.  And I hate chlorine.
7. We did some strawberry picking.  Very fun and the kids loved it.  Since we were just picking to have some to munch on at home, an hour was plenty to pick and we came away with over five pounds and no sibling quarrels.  I'm not sure I would take younger kids, though, as Jay continually wanted to pick berries from rows not assigned to us.
10. We attempted to ride bikes/walk on the Heritage Trail one day with our Parents of Young Kids group.  Two out of three kids had bike wrecks and Jay howled for a good 15 minutes about a skinned I haven't been plentiful in the energy department lately...that's been our only attempt! Can't win them all...
12.  We did read Bunnicula out loud at bedtime last month.  I forgot how funny that book is!  Joey and Annabelle loved it.  Jay still prefers picture books and made that fact well known. Loudly.
16. We took a trip to the Bouncin' Barn this week. I always feel like I'm on HIGH MOM ALERT at that place, but the kids always have a blast.
18. One of the first things the kids chose to do on the list was make recycling bins for the house.  They even printed out pictures of what items go in what bin and put them on the outside of each bin.  We have been doing a good job of sorting out our paper, plastics, glass and metal this summer.  I, for one, have been surprised about just how much we used to throw out that could be used again.  Lesson learned for mom more than kids, I think! We had hoped to take a tour of the recycling center at ISU but their only scheduled tours were during our vacation and on an infusion day for no luck on that so far.  But the kids have been extremely helpful in this.  I'm proud! :)
20. We did, in fact, see alpacas and nuns at the White Violet Center at Saint Mary of the Woods College.  We got a very cool behind the scenes tour from a nun who showed us where they store and work the alpaca fiber into yarn and then into objects we can use.  Then we wandered around to see the alpacas in the field, the gardens, and saw some of the pretty views/history markers on campus, too.  I got lots of questions about life in the 1800's around Terre Haute and Catholicism, so it was definitely a big learning day!
35. We did get to camp and have s'mores, too!  We took a four day/three night vacation to Ohio and camped for a couple nights followed by a spontaneous and more restful night in a hotel with a kid-friendly pool and a water slide.  We did some hiking in the park we stayed in, saw the US Air Force Museum in Dayton and the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus.  Pretty nice time for not a lot of dinero!  And of course, we ate well both on and off the campsite.  I tried Five Guys burgers for the first time.  Yum!
36.  I added this to the list after the blog post, but we made ice cream in a bag!  Very fun.  And louder than I thought possible with three kids shaking bags of ice violently on the kitchen table.

So...even though it sounds like we've done a lot so far...there's still many things on the list to choose from.  And I STILL have to fight the kids from complaining of boredom and fight in myself the urge just to let them play video games all day.  I think we're at the point in the summer where we're a little sick of being in each others' faces all the time.  But over all...good stuff.  I am so thankful that I have a summer with them like this.  Carpe diem, baby! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I was changing the bag on the vacuum cleaner the other day, and a funny thing happened.  Even with a sparkling clean new bag, the thing just did not have suction.  After poking and prodding and a little grumbling, my smart and more practically minded husband detected the problem.  The filter needed to be cleaned.  And how. Ewwwww.  I will never cease to be amazed at how filthy five people can be.  Now this may be a little bit of a mental leap, but take a mind base jump with me.  It got me thinking about the filters through which we view life.  What they are...and how they can make us effective...or render us pretty useless like my poor vacuum.

You see, I take each new experience, new person I meet, new opportunity, and run it through this kind of filtration system that's accumulated over my thirty something years.  What I choose to do with it or what I take away is based on past experiences, the people I already know, and the identity I've accepted about myself.  My biggest filters right now, in no particular order, are:

1. My parents, siblings and my childhood
2. My husband
3. The Bible, Christianity, my church
4. My educational and work background
5. The small town Midwest culture in which I grew up
6. Myself as a mom
7. Myself as a friend
8. Myself as a musician and worship leader
9. Myself as a person with a chronic disease

I'm sure I could find more and dig into the nitty gritty, but these are the main things that make up who I am and how I view my world.  Some of my filters have been around my whole life. (Hi, Mom!!) And some of them are fairly new.  Two years ago, I never filtered things through a disease...weighing whether the activity was worth precious energy,  the risk of pain, or the risk of getting sick, since my treatment makes my immune system about as strong as a newborn's or the elderly...but it's a filter I'm slowly adjusting to.

When we meet someone who shares a lot of the same filters, I think there's cool instant connection.  (Oh! You pegged your pants in the fourth grade and can sing all the lyrics to 80's and 90's Amy Grant songs! Rad!) But to me it's equally cool when I meet someone whose filters are pretty different from my own.  I can learn a whole lot from that person and maybe if we dig a little deeper, we WILL find a few filters in common.  Or not!  But it's a fun journey all the same.  I'm pretty sure I don't want my whole world to be full of Beth Clones. Yikes!  Imagine a world that's unable to have clean carpets because it's full of people who can't figure out clogged vacuum filters...

So it occurs to me that good communication comes from an understanding that the person I am interacting with comes to the table with a different set of filters than I do.  Thus two people sharing the same conversation remember it very differently sometimes. 
He: "I told you about that a week ago."
Me: "Oh, I don't remember talking about that at all."
He: "But you nodded and smiled and said yes."
Me: "Was it after 10 pm?"

Or through my filters, I thought I explained something perfectly clear!  Why doesn't that person get it?!?  How can they not believe passionately in the same things that I do?!?  Yeah...I catch myself being self-centric a whole lot.  And while most of my filters come from good, healthy things, the filters can easily start clogging with things like negativity, cynicism, worry, fear, envy...if I don't give them a good regular cleaning.  I quickly become ineffective in relationships and ministry, if not destructive.

So what's the cure-all for clogged filters?  Simply this: Love.  The perfect and pure love of God.  Did I just compare God's love to a vacuum filter cleaner? Why yes, yes I did...  God in the majestic.  And God in the mundane.  But God really does reach down and scoop out all the disgusting junk I let accumulate in my life.  Because I ask Him, and He loves me. 

I can't help but view life through the filters I have.  It's what makes me uniquely me.  But when those filters are full of love instead of sin, I am much better at reaching out to those around me.  I ditch the self-serving attitudes and the judgement.  I communicate more effectively.  I see people and situations much more clearly.  Now...I know there's a fantastic "sucking" joke in here somwhere to end this.  But I've been told that word is not very ladylike. How I do love a good metaphor...

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.   As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:8-10)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Dad, Dad, He's our Dad!

As Father's Day approaches, I am reminded of how blessed I am to have my Dad.  As my generation grew up, divorce became a lot more common...many of my peers grew up without a dad in their life every day.  Maybe they got to see him on weekends.  Or in the summer.  Or holidays.  And I've worked with so many children who had absolutely no father figure in their life.  Some children rise up.  But so many crumble and carry lifelong scars.  So, like my Mom post, here's ten parenting tips I learned from my Dad:

1. Model confidence in excellence.  There's no two ways about it.  My father is a very smart man.  Valedictorian of a large high school class.  Finished his undergrad in three years.  Is a doctor.  Teaches ethics and bio-ethics.  He's not arrogant about it.  But he doesn't apologize either.  He has a kind of quiet confidence that I've always tried to emulate.  The world doesn't always value the smart kid in the class.  So I try to let my kids know it's ok to be smart and confident in that.  (Just don't let it get boastful.)  Because with confidence in your God given abilities and lots of hard work, doors can open like scholarships and jobs and leadership opportunities.

2. Teach your kids to seek the truth.  Teach them to seek answers to the tough questions.  I don't think many kids grew up talking about apologetics at the Sunday dinner table, but I did.  I learned a lot about Christianity and why my parents believed what they believed just by listening and asking questions at the dinner table.  If my dad wanted to know something, he found out about it and learned about it.  And this was before Google.  Studying Bible passages...studying church history...taking things back to the Greek or Hebrew...these were not new concepts to me as an adult.

3. Treat your kids like valid human beings.  I always felt like Dad listened to us and our points of view like we were an equal and not a goofy kid who didn't know anything.  Even though a lot of times, I'm sure we were goofy ignorant kids and it took a LOT of patience!  I will say that this is a struggle for me now.  I am so glad my kids love to learn new things, but sometimes it's hard to be in the mood to listen about the burrowing habits of the Peruvian horned mouse.

4. Take an interest in their interests.  Some of my favorite memories of my Dad are when he would take time out of his day to watch my cross country meets.  That meant the world to me.  I know that many times it wasn't convenient, but when he came, I was so proud!  We would ride home in the car together just him and me and have good talks.  And many summers he would take just me to the big sports store and we would take our time picking out the perfect running shoes for the season.  I loved that!

5. Demonstrate to them the value of hard work. Family practice doctors work very, very hard.  Lots of long hours and paperwork and cranky sick people and nights on call where the phone rings at 3 am.  It may mean going in to deliver a baby...or telling Mabel Sue that her itchy toe can wait until tomorrow.  I saw it all, and for some reason decided not to go into medicine... However, I did learn that any job that supports a family is going to require work, and a lot of it.  Some of it is very rewarding.  And some of it...just plain work.

6. Be a leader in your church in front of them. Dad served in lots of capacities at church while I was growing up.  He was on the board. He taught a Sunday School class. He helped rewrite the church by-laws.  He searched for pastors.  But the thing I admire most is that he did it all with integrity and a peacemaking spirit.  I think being a peacemaker is a rare and precious gift.

7. Speak wisdom into your children's lives. There are a handful of times when I remember clear and specific pieces of advice my dad has given me.  One was that he told me to be sure enjoy my college years and take some classes just for fun.  I did, resulting in things like ballet and choir and going to Spain for a semester.  But on the more serious side, I remember him coming home from a Promise Keepers conference once (Remember those?) and he said he heard a lot about how racial divisions in the church need to be healed.  He knew that he did not always have the opportunity for that kind of ministry, but I happened to be volunteering that week at a camp for inner-city kiddos, and he prayed that I might be the one with that opportunity.  I feel like that was almost a prophetic moment.  I see many times over my teen and adult life that I have had the privilege to reach across racial lines that seem to keep the American Church so very compartmentalized.  I pray those opportunities continue.

8. Take your kids on adventures.  Maybe we didn't travel the world in a sail boat (Doesn't everyone know a family like that? I do.), but we learned how to build a fire, pitch a tent, and canoe thanks to Dad.  We hiked quite a few miles of state park trails in Indiana and beyond.  We saw museums and caves and made lots of cool memories on summer vacations.  Even if Dad's long legs had us kids scrambling to keep up most of the time.

9. Never underestimate the fun in a game of keep away.  Some of my very earliest memories of my Dad were when he would take a toy, ball, etc. and hold it juuuust out of reach.  We would lunge for it...and he would quickly switch hands.  Foiled again!  Hilarious!  Again, Daddy!  How loved and secure I felt when Dad was on my level.  I love that my husband does the same for our kids, and seemed to have a knack for it the second they were born.  Joy...overflowing.

10. Think through something before making a decision.  It's no wonder I'm a ponderer by nature.  Both my parents are big thinkers, but I think Dad is the greater methodical thinker.  No rush.  Weigh the facts.  Consider the options.  It can drive others crazy (Ahem, sorry, Honey).  Yes, we heard what you said.  We're just thinking about it.  And it may take us awhile to choose our words as a response.  Deal with it.  But it is a trait, especially in parenting, that will save you from some rather bad and hastily made decisions.

So I close with verses that remind me of my Dad.  And videos of two of my favorite sitcom dads just for fun. Love you, Daddy!  Happiest Father's Day!
Proverbs 14:26 - "Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge."

Proverbs 17:27 - "The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered."

Joshua 24:15 - "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Friday, June 7, 2013

And the Winner of the First Book Giveaway Is...

My friend Jessica!

Which is so fitting because:
A. She's a Media Specialist at a school.  She has the power to spread the reading love.
B. We drew the name out of a Colt's hat and she's one of the biggest Colts fans I know.
C. She lives here in town and now I don't have to pay shipping! (Okay, maybe that's an advantage for me and not her...but hey...this cheap girl celebrates any dollar saved even though I would have been very happy to send it elsewhere.)

Congrats, I think you'll love the book and thanks to all who entered!  Hopefully I will be giving more books away in the near future.  Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging program.

Don't forget to pick up a copy of the book!  It hits shelves on Tuesday, June 11!

When Mockingbirds Sing