Friday, April 20, 2012

Organizing a Two Year Old :)

My mother always told me that they raised me with the kind of person they wanted me to be as an adult in their mind. As H gets older I have started to understand what she was talking about. There are a number of things that I want my daughter to be. I want her love God with all of her heart, to be kind and gracious, strong in her beliefs and loving, polite, and respectful of all people and organized. The last word on that list may seem a little out of place when talking about the other qualities but that is because you don’t know me. The short story is that I was adopted into a wonderful family. My mom (adopted mom, but to me she is just mom… my only mom) is neat as a pin. She was one of those people that you walk into her house and everything is in place and clean and organized. Poor thing, no matter how hard she tried to train me we didn’t realize that ingrained in my DNA was the messy gene. Later, when I was 17, we met my birth family. I was introduced to the brave woman that made the best decision for me (later post, I promise) and even found out I had siblings. I also found out that I inherited a few things genetically that you just wouldn’t believe unless you experienced this for yourself. A love of ketchup, pizza, diet coke, and messiness. In a way it was oddly reassuring that I was not alone on the messy island feeling like an organizational failure.

Fast forward to today. My daughter. I do not want her to struggle all of her life to keep things clean and organized. I feel like a fight a daily battle to keep my home halfway picked up and clean. Now that I know that we come preprogrammed to be messy I am trying to begin early by teaching her to have a place for everything and to pick up on a regular basis. I think that if my mom had known I was predisposed to clutter and mess she would have taken a different approach when training me. She is one of those people that is naturally organized and driven to organize and pick up on a regular basis. It makes me jealous. Even as I sit here writing I barely have enough room on my desk for my keyboard!

A place for everything.

I really think this may help H in many ways. I wondered if starting at 2 years old was too early but I thought you could probably never start too early. I bought clear plastic bins from Wallyworld and I created labels for them. Since she is not able to read I put pictures next to each item. I actually thought it might help her learn the words faster to have them around her room. I tried to keep it simple and put like things together. After getting her setup we went and got her clean laundry and I watched as she matched her socks (for the most part) and then put everything away. Added bonus, one less thing I have to do to try to keep organized. Now she is a contributing member of the family J. This also helps her pick out outfits when she is given the option (most days but not all days).

(we were a little heavy on the jeans and shorts... but at least she put them all away)

I did the same thing for books. I had read somewhere that the key to keeping a child’s room neat is the make it easier to put something back than it is to get it out. I wish I could remember where I read it because I would love to give them credit. It is so true! So with her books I bought bins big enough that she could see the front of the books as she flipped through them but then all she has to do is drop them back in the front of the bin and they are put away. I also added pictures and the word books on the front.

The last mini-room makeover was to hang an old shower rod that was taking up space in my laundry room low in her closet so she could walk in and see her dresses. Overall she has seemed very happy with the changes and her ability to do things herself. A phrase I hear about once every 10 minutes anyway but most of the time she doesn’t quite have the coordination to complete whatever it is in reference to. At least now she feels some success in keeping her room organized (me too!)

I know this isn’t rocket science and may not even seem like an accomplishment to most people, but for me and my messiness it felt like I had taken a big step in the right direction for H. If you would like my word doc pages that I used to create my little signs please leave me a comment with your email address and I will email them to you (since I cannot figure out how to attach to the blog, ugh!).

More than anything I hope to teach her to be a good steward of the wonderful blessings God gives us. James 1: 17 says that all good gifts come from God. I do not want her to take for granted the amazing life we are privileged to lead. Also, if you have any great tips for cleaning and organizing by ALL MEANS please post them in the comments below! I am always looking for a great way to organize and do a better job of keeping house.

With a Grateful Heart,
Amy

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It is well...

I read a passage recently that I am sure I have read at least a few other times, however this time it was like God reached through the pages and touched my heart. Maybe it is because I am a mother now but I cannot shake the story of the Shunammite woman.

Read 2 Kings 4:8-38 for the whole story or click here to go to the passage on BibleGateway.com. My ramblings below will make much more sense!

There are a few things about this woman that stand out to me. She was aware of who Elisha was. I am not sure how often prophets were noticed and cared for in the Old Testament. It seems like usually there were a handful of people that would recognize them but that the majority of people passed them by. This woman was present. I hope you understand what I mean by present. She wasn't so caught up in other things in life that she missed who God had put in front of her. She was so present that she knew who Elisha was and that by serving Elisha she was serving God. This woman did more than just recognize or feed the prophet, she made him a room in her home. It says in 2 Kings 4:10 that she asked her husband to make a room for Elisha so that when he passed by he could stay in comfort. It is one thing to be present and realize when opportunities are put in front of us, but it is another thing entirely to seek ways to serve. Especially to seek how to minister to someone that ministers to others. There are many people in this world that need the love of Jesus shared with them but it is also important to refresh those that are busy doing the work of the ministry on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. They are usually run down themselves from spending their time caring for others. The Shunammite woman was aware of this and sought to serve God through serving one of His chosen messengers. Now to the meat of the story.

Elisha wanted to do something good for the woman. She didn't ask for anything but his servant noticed that her husband was older and that she had no children. Not having children in those days was usually considered a failure of the woman. It probably heaped reproach from other women on her yet she didn't ask Elisha for a son. Don't you wonder why? Gehazi, Elisha's servant, shared with Elisha that the woman didn't have a son and so Elisha told her she would have one by this time the next year. Her first reaction was disbelief but when she conceived and bore a son I am sure the promise of Elisha became a precious memory.

We don't know how old the son is for this next part but I would assume still younger because he is able to sit on his mother's lap.

"Now it happened one day that he went out to his father, to the reapers. And he said to his father, "My head, my head!" So he said to a servant, "carry him to his mother." When he had taken him and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died."

Her son died. Let that sink in. This isn't just a story. This is a real woman experiencing a terrible loss. So what is her reaction? Does she rail against God? Does she go to everyone she sees and shares her emotional distress? No, she lays her son on the bed of Elisha, shuts the door and goes to her husband to get a donkey and a servant to go see The Man of God. On top of that when her husband asked her why she replied "It is well".

IT IS WELL?

How traumatic must it have been for this woman to hold her son as he died? Yet she goes to her husband and doesn't even share that their child is dead, in fact she says IT IS WELL. Fast forward to her on her journey. As she is riding to see Elisha he sees her afar off and sends Gehazi, his servant, to meet her to see if she is ok. Her response to Gehazi? IT IS WELL. Really? Twice this is her response to people who I would think would be in a trusted circle of confidants. Only when she gets in front of the man of God does she let her anguish show and she pours out her heart.

What an amazing woman. The faith it must have taken to believe that God provided this child and that He would take care of it. It is hard to believe that this woman doesn't fall to pieces when the most excruciating thing that could happen to her happens. First she lays the body of her precious son down and leaves it. That alone would be an almost impossible task for me to accomplish. Then, she goes to her husband. She doesn't take the opportunity to break down emotionally with him about everything that has transpired. In fact, when he probes her as to why she wants to go visit the man of God her answer is "it is well." When the servant of Elisha runs to meet her, she doesn't open her mouth to let the overflow of her hurt run out. She once again answers "it is well." Only when she is in front of Elisha, the man of God, does she share her deep heart break.

Before I go any further I want to make it clear that I am not writing this about how someone should act if they have lost a child or even have had a traumatic experience in life. I would NEVER begin to suggest the course of actions and words someone should have who has been through something like that. In fact, if you have experienced something like that my heart goes out to you. I am so very sorry. This is about learning more from this woman's example and about how to put it in practice in my life.

This story made me think about her faith and my lack of faith on so many levels. How often do I choose to blow off steam to my husband about things that are upsetting to me? How often do I feel justified in sharing things that are offensive or hurtful to me with other Christians and close friends? How many times do I spend more time talking and asking the advice of others rather than praying, seeking, and listening to God for the peace, guidance, and solutions needed? She was so focused on getting to the one place that could give her peace that she didn’t bother to stop along the way to make sure everyone knew how awful her situation was. Think about it, this woman didn't share her hurt with her husband or family, not with even with a trusted ally; she only went to the person that could speak directly to God for her. And this woman is able to do this WITHOUT the Holy Spirit inside of her. How much more should I be living to higher standard when God actually lives inside of me?

"In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise." Proverbs 10:19

Do I actually believe this scripture? If I did, I think that I would have a lot less to say on a regular basis. I remember first hearing this verse from Nathan and Jane Phillips at Battlefield Ministries in Rome, Georgia. This is one of those verses that is applicable in pretty much every situation. There are so many times that I should choose to be quiet. If I am always speaking how will I hear God speaking back to me? It is like when I am trying to enjoy a song on the radio and my toddler is pushing every button possible on her ridiculously loud, noisy toy in the backseat of the car. Everything becomes jumbled and I cannot make out the message. How often am I so busy talking over God that I miss what He was telling me completely?

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." Proverbs 18:10

Another great Nathan and Jane Phillips-ism. It is true. I think about people that go through life constantly complaining about their circumstances and relationships and they never seem to get a break from their bad life. I believe that, because of the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, our words have power. They shape what is going on around us. What kind of life would I have if everything I said and did came into being? What do my words say about me?

"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45

So, what I say and do actually reflects what is inside of me? I can’t say one thing than act another way? I know it is a silly question but how often do we do just that? I do not ever want to be one of those people that always have something bad going on with them always a negative answer when asked how I am doing. I want people to see God in my words and actions, every day. I am sure that if you asked my 2 year old if Mommy reflected Jesus on a daily basis (and if she could understand the question) the answer would not be flattering. The truth of the matter is I need to go to God in prayer every morning and ask for help to walk the path He has for me that day. That may include holding my tongue when I really want to vent, choosing to not dwell on a negative situation or simply to release the stress of the week into His care, knowing that my worry doesn’t add anything to my day. I think that as humans we can do a good job of faking a good attitude for a while, but at some point our facade comes crashing down around us. I believe that the only way to truly live the plan God has for us is to be supernaturally filled by Him and to ask for help every day.


Dear Lord,

Thank you for including the story of this nameless woman in The Bible. I know that everything in The Bible is good for Your use. Please quicken my mind to help me close my mouth instead of speaking out of unharnessed emotions. God grow me and change me so that in Your time my mouth can open and be a beautiful overflow of a changed heart. Most of all, thank You for the death and resurrection of Jesus so that I can call You Daddy.

In Jesus Mighty Name,

Amen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Physically Sick

There are moments when I watch something or hear something and it makes me physically sick. This video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZzcFTDQLq8 accomplished that. I highly suggest you watch it. For the longest time if something was difficult for me to see or hear I would avoid it, but then I discovered I was missing out on things that I could help make a difference in.

When I went to India it was to love on a group of women that had been thrown away. I wanted them to know that I loved them. That Jesus loved them, so much that He gave everything for them. I wanted them to know that they weren't trash but treasure. As I watched this video, which does a good job of showing the link between pornography and sex trafficking, I was sickened. Sickened because I know many good men that struggle with pornography, sickened at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual damage being inflicted on these girls (some as young as 4 years old maybe even younger), sickened because every woman and little girl on a porn site (whether by choice or by force) is someone's little girl. Someone that should be treasured and loved, cared for and protected. Instead they are traded, sold, abused, and raped, repeatedly.

Please join Rahab's Rope (www.rahabsrope.com) and other groups that fight sex trafficking and pornography and pornography addictions (http://www.xxxchurch.com/). Please do something, anything! Share this with someone, post on Facebook, Pinterest, Tweet about it. People need to know that there are more slaves in the world right now than ever before and that in the US as well as other countries women and children are being trafficked, abused, and raped daily, hourly. This isn't a pretty subject but if you don't do something, share, educate, who will? These are women and children without someone to take care of them... truly orphans and widows.

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" James 1:27