After School

{Photo 262/365}  Our days are starting to get shorter already.  I love this time of year — fall.  So much change.  Crisp mornings, leaves changing, sweaters, my favorite colors, hot cider, pumpkins…just all of it.  The boys played football outside, just the two of them into the darkness.  It wasn’t late, they didn’t want to come in, it just got too dark.  Nothing special about today other than these two. love them.

Corn Stalk

{Photo 235/365}  This afternoon we went for a walk.  Actually I power walked while he rode his bike.  I guess you could say we live out in the country — in a development, but surrounded by farm land.  So, as we walked, Zach noticed the development, the growth of the corn in the corn field.  He jumped off his bike, ran down with his hand stretched high and said, “They are taller than me now!”  Just a few short months ago, this field was dirt with standing water in areas and now it’s a maze of over 5 foot corn stalks.  His realization of this “growth” sparked great conversations for our walk.  He starts 6th grade in just 6 more sleeps — growth.  I love the free gift we can give one another, quality time, that’s his love language.

Anniversary

{Photo 234/365}  Sometimes, life happens and things have to change.  We had B I G plans to celebrate our anniversary this year, but they got cancelled — for several reasons.  Instead, this special day was just our typical summer day and some quality time when the kids were tucked into bed.  I’m grateful for my husband.  Through it all.  ”A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity.  The order varies for any given year.” – Paul Sweeney

Love

love [luhv] – noun; unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.  – verb; feeling or showing great care

God is Love.  “We love because He first loved us.”  (1 John 4:19 ESV)  How did He love us?  How much does He love us?  God in His matchless grace and mercy granted us – finite, imperfect, grimy – a chance to love.  He gave us the perfect example and bid us to follow in His footsteps. He loves us with an unfathomable love.  A love like, but far exceeding, a father to his son.  When we get a hold of that truth we are transformed!  We are changed from the inside out when we drink from the overflowing fountain of His love. When we are infused, when we are filled, it is then and only then that we can love as He loved with a passionate, consistent, undying love.  This love isn’t just toward the lovely.  It isn’t a respecter of persons or time.  This love is unmistakably recognizable.  Its countenance will be joyous, its smile will be genuinely ready, and its speech will be timely and edifying.

Reflect:
How has God demonstrated His love for you today?  What have you done to demonstrate your love for Him?

Think of someone in your life whom you find difficult to love.  How would grasping Christ’s love for you change your perspective toward that person?

How can you live in love today? How can you show love to those around you?

Verses:
Ephesians 5:2 “…and walk in love as Christ loved us.”

1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Quote:
“The secret of loving is living loved.” – Max Lucado

On July 11th we are starting a 7 week series –> Unpacking The Lord’s Prayer <– Consider joining us!  Learn more –> here Sign-up to receive post updates via email –> here and/or If you’re on facebook “like” our Choose to Grow Page –> here

I Love My Brother

{Photo 123/365}  I picked them up from school and from the minute they entered my truck they were at each other.  I did my very best to be understanding and compassionate – trying to get a glimpse into their day, but it wasn’t happening.  When we got home it continued, negative attitudes and fighting.  So, I decided to have them do a project to change their thinking.

I numbered 2 blank sheets of paper from 1 to 50.  I wrote ‘I love my brother, he is my friend’ on a pink post it note for each of them – sat them down at opposite sides of the center island and said, “Write this 50 times.  When you’re done, I want to you to write down 5 things that you love about your brother.  Do not talk or get up until you are both done.”  I was surprised they neither of them were objectionable about the assignment.  Their hands hurt a little bit, I let them take a writing break, but they still had to sit there and not speak.

When they were both done, I had them sit across from each other on the couch and read out loud, “I love my brother, he is my friend, he is _____” <– fill in the blank with one of the 5 things they wrote down.  They did it, they took turns and spoke to one another.  Now?  They are playing hockey together and getting along great and I am very excited!  I’m trying to instill into them the power of our thoughts, change your thinking = change your life!  I think they saw an example of this today.  yipee.

 

Father's Day

A few words to describe my dad:

Noble. Genuine. Respected. Respectful. Patient. Kind. Forgiving. Generous. Gentle. Comforter. Even tempered. Fair. Considerate. Worthy. Successful. Smart. Witty. Counselor. Wise. Full of grace and mercy.

I am blessed to have an amazing father who could not have been a better example for me growing up, and continues to this day to be a man of Godly character.  I now have a husband who is a father to my own children, and admire the strong character he brings to our family and models for our children.

A father, daddy, dad, papa… have an enormous impact on their children for generations to come. But what about those children who are now growing up without a daddy? What about children who have fathers who cause pain instead of comfort, hurt through words, or even their own hand. Even those of us who have wonderful fathers will likely be disappointed by them at some time. They may not live up to our expectations, or accidentally let us down. They are in fact, human. There is only one father who will never leave you nor forsake you. Who will ALWAYS have your back. ALWAYS. This, of course, is our Heavenly Father.

I have been going through a recent ‘ah ha’ moment and realized this is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. As important as our earthly fathers are, even more important is our relationship with our Heavenly Father. There isn’t anyone who is a better provider, counselor, disciplinarian, leader, comforter, teacher, healer… If we can fully understand the love our Heavenly Father has for his children (us), we can live more fully, with purpose and security.

James L. Christensen wrote, “The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes.  It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life.” I am not a father, but as a parent, I am certain of one thing. If we can teach our children about God’s character, to help create in them a desire to develop God-like character, we have accomplished much.

I challenge you this Father’s Day to recognize your father, whether it be a biological father or other. Let them know what kind of impact he has had in your life. And maybe, if you feel like it, share with a child (or grown up child) how much their Heavenly Father loves them.

Dad, I love you. I thank you for being the Godly man you are. I am so blessed.

Doug, thank you for being such an amazing father to our children. I love you!

Happy Father’s Day!

What does a "thumbs up" mean to you?

images-8I dropped my son off today after school at his dad’s house, so he could go to his hockey game.  As he walked in front of my truck I rolled down my window and spoke loudly, “Good Luck tonight buddy, call me when your game ends and let know how the game went, I love you!”  He smiled at me and replied, “OK mom, bye!” and with his hand he gave me a thumbs up.

A couple of years ago I was extremely sad that my son could never say the sweet words that I so longed to hear from his mouth, “I love you Mom.”  He was 7 years old when my mind started to race about this.  I had never had the opportunity to hear him utter the word LOVE.  His brother on the other hand is polar opposite, he absolutely LOVES everything and everybody – he’s my little Peace and Love child!   He loves to hug, snuggle, kiss, and love.  He definitely makes up for his brother in this area.

Forcing the words out of Zach didn’t work.  He would always tell me, “Mom, I can’t say that word.”  Understand something, when he says that he can’t say that word, he literally means it.  Let me share with you an example.  I sing to my boys quite often.  The one song that I sing frequently is, You are my Sunshine.  I’m sure you’ve heard it…….

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skys are grey
You’ll never know “Zach and Zane” (I always insert their names here) How much I love you!
Please don’t take my sunshine away.

I ask the boys to sing the song with me sometimes, you know, one big happy family (I know I’m a dork!!)  Oh well, I’m silly with my boys and it keeps us FUN!  So anyway, I ask them to sing and when we get to the line……….how much I love you……… Zach omits the word, he SKIPS over it.  He does this all the time – when he’s reading, singing Jesus Loves Me, etc.

I found myself asking Zach, “Honey, do you love me?”  He would always shake his head and say YES!  I know I’m sounding pathetic – I have to admit, I was insecure.  I couldn’t figure it out – it REALLY bothered me!  My expectations were not being met.  I was having a hard time accepting it and because he didn’t express himself like my other son Zane or how I saw other kids express themselves, I took it personal.  I thought….What in the world is wrong with me?  Did I do something wrong parenting him?  Hadn’t I raised both boys the same way;  to show love “properly”?

“Properly” I discovered was the lie that I was choosing to believe which had caused me the insecurity and unmet expectation.  Who am I to judge how someone else expresses love to another person.  In my desperate attempts to “make” him “tell” me he loved me, the way I expected him to, I was over looking how he was showing me love – the way he was capable of showing it.

I realized that Zachary shows love by being a helper.  He shows love by talking and visiting with me.  He shows love by wanting me to sit close to him on the couch and watch a movie.  He shows love by inviting me to go on bike rides, play hockey with him, shoot baskets, or by playing catch.  When Zach and I spend time together, he is telling me he loves me.

Through this process I have learned to open my mind and to be more accepting of others in all aspects of my life.  Just because others don’t do things the way I would necessarily do them doesn’t mean it is not done properly.  I am learning to become more tolerant, understanding, and patient.  I found that this doesn’t always come easy and natural for me – but I’m a work in progress.

As I worked through this insecurity I had with Zachary, we communicated and decided that it’s important to let those we love know that we love them.  We established a secret code – I guess you could call it sign language.  It’s a “thumbs up” and to us, it means “I love you.”