Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Great Expectations

I've lived a pretty easy life.  School was always something I enjoyed and I excelled at.  I didn't accept my first "B" until I was a junior in college, married and working a part-time job 20 hours a week and even then I didn't swallow it well.  I graduated high school as Valedictorian, was awarded the Top Sophomore award together with another young lady at Culver-Stockton and graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors from TCU.  From the beginning of my working career, I experienced great work environments that always provided me ample promotion and growth opportunities.  I have always enjoyed the ability to do things well and accomplish any task set before me.  Several years ago as I transitioned to the position of a stay-at-home mom, I approached the new "position" with the same great expectations I have in each and every transition in my life.  I had high hopes of highly organized schedules, closets, bedrooms and living areas.  I had dreams of cooking new and exciting meals for dinner each night.  The June Cleaver picture, if you may, as I welcomed my wonderful husband home each day to our clean and inviting home wearing my freshly pressed dress, pearls and high heels and most importantly...my smile - because as we learned from Annie - "you're never fully dressed, without a smile."  After a few months, I came to a rapid realization that I was living something completely opposite the dream I had conjured up in my mind.  My days were beginning to resemble the frantic antics of Lucy Ricardo instead of the collected June Cleaver.  I have spent the last 4 years trying to attain the "June Cleaver" persona only to have my hopes dashed on a daily basis.  Over the last couple months I've come to a new conclusion.  I'm not June Cleaver, I will never be June Cleaver and most importantly...I don't have to be June Cleaver.  I've learned a few new techniques (thanks to FLYLADY) to help calm the chaos that ensues in our home on a daily basis.  More importantly, I'm learning a new attitude and the need to de-clutter my life of the great expectations I have placed upon myself.  My Jesus is teaching me that the best expectations are those that He has appointed for me and all other expectations are holding me captive and hindering the abundant and effective, spirit-filled life God has planned for me.  It's a process, a long process...a process I'll call "breaking free."

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~John 10:10

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More chicken, please

Yesterday at noon, preacherman and I tried to figure out something to do for a fun family night with the girls.  Lunch time came and went and we still had no solid plans for the evening.  As the afternoon continued, I remembered a book I had titled, 199 Fun Family Activities.  I began perusing the pages looking for something quick, simple and certain to please.  I landed on Chicken Day.  It was supposed to be a whole day of chicken...eggs for breakfast, chicken nuggets for lunch, chicken for dinner.  Since it was already afternoon, it would not be a Chicken Day, but we'd have a Chicken Night!  I began gathering my supplies...a toddler cd with the Chicken Dance tune, a YouTube video of how to do the chicken dance, a long list of chicken jokes and I borrowed the movie, Chicken Little, from a friend.  I cut up the list of jokes into single jokes, folded them and placed them in a tupperware dish.  I placed the jokes, cd and movie in a gift bag, taped it closed and left it on the table with this note attached:  Inside this bag are the contents for tonight's fun family activities!  Absolutely, NO PEEKING!  Here is your ONE clue:  (below was a picture of a cartoon chicken). When preacherman arrived home I told the excited children and somewhat scared preacherman that I needed to leave home and would be back in about 30 minutes, all I needed them to do was set the table and have ice in the glasses.  I left and went to Dollar General to pick up soda and ice cream pops, then to McDonalds for the 50 piece chicken nugget meal with two orders french fries.  I arrived home to the table set and an uncontrollable amount of excitement.

We all sat at the table and ate our McDonald's meal while telling our chicken jokes.  Crazy Horse pulled her first joke out of the bowl and pulled the one and only chicken joke with a horse in it!  Even little Princess had a joke or two to tell.  We laughed and smiled.  When the jokes were read and dinner was done we headed to the living room computer to watch the next surprise, the video of the chicken dance.  Once we had it down and the video was over, we used the toddler cd of the Chicken dance.  It was loads of chicken fun!  Next up was pj time to get ready for our movie.  Once our pjs were on, we had a devotion time where we acted out the story of David and Goliath (the VeggieTale version) because we all know that David was no CHICKEN!  After our exciting devotion we camped out in the living room to watch Chicken Little, followed by ice cream and bedtime.

It was a night like no other and the best McDonald's meal I've ever eaten!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's just a game

Last night while dinner was cooking, Preacherman and I sat down at the table to play a game of Farkle.  Before long we were joined by our children.  Rockstar had a tremendous streak of luck and could roll high numbers with one toss of the dice.  Crazy Horse was not as fortunate at the start of the game.  Crazy Horse soon took on the "I'm bored, this is no fun" attitude at the thought that her little sister was going to beat her (and the rest of us) in record time.  Rockstar on the other hand, was so excited to roll the dice that many times she chose to roll the dice and forfeit large scores that added together would have quickly ended our game.  As the game continued, Crazy Horse banked some conservative scores and also hit a few big ones.  Before long Preacherman, Rockstar and Crazy Horse were all tied.  As the game was nearing the end the attitudes had made a complete flip.  Rockstar was now singing the blues and Crazy Horse was elated to be in position to win the game.  In the end, Crazy Horse won the game in record fashion that no one could match.  Rockstar had much difficulty in losing and the realization that she lost the game largely in part because she liked to roll the dice.  Preacherman and I tried to reel in the team to the truth that it is only a game and it is meant for family fun.  After a few tears and a couple hugs everything returned to what we have come to call normal.

This morning I was thinking of our little game last night and the reality that our lives are much like that game.  We all make choices, some are good and some not-so-good.  Each time our turn doesn't provide the expected outcome we must choose our next move.  Do we continue to dwell in the last not-so-good play or do we look forward to our next turn in anticipation that it will be better?  Maybe life as we know it really is "just a game."  Sometimes good things happen.  Sometimes not-so-good things happen.  Sometimes we made the choice that created the outcome.  Sometimes it was just "luck".  Which ever way the ups and downs come, our response to the ups and downs remains our choice. The game of life has one big difference.  In the end, each one who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior WINS the game.  Since the "winning" is not a result of how well we played the game, I think the important part of this game of life is our response along the roller-coaster to eternal life.  Did people recognize our game was different?  Did we invite others to join our winning game?  Did the choices we made throughout our game reflect the sacrificial choice Christ made for us?  Maybe we should be less concerned about bringing our "A-game" and more concerned we are bringing our "J-game".

Time to go get my game on...until next time...pray hard, play well and praise HIM!

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  1 Corinthians 9:24-26

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mom on a Mission

This morning I set out on an adventure with my two youngest children, Princess and Rockstar.  We had discussed before leaving home and heading to the local grocery store that this was going to be a good and quick trip.  Mommy had made a list and we were sticking to it.  Get in, get it done and get out...that was the mission.  We got to the store and got in, loaded Princess in the cart and began to pick up the items on the list.  As we were traveling down the milk and cheese aisle of the store - second to the produce where we began, the girls began speaking to each person we met along the way in a very pleasant manner.  There were many who smiled and cordially said "hi" in return and then exchanged greetings with me. Then there was a woman who stopped and began to engage in conversation with Princess and Rockstar.  Rockstar being totally excited to have someone's attention kindly introduced the entire family - 2 of which were not even with us.  Then she told the woman how old she was, when her birthday was and even invited the woman to her birthday party and sleepover.  The woman kindly smiled and thanked her for the invites.  I then suggested Rockstar could also invite her to join us at church.  Rockstar did not miss a beat as she invited the kind lady to church.  The woman asked where she went to church and Rockstar did a stellar job of telling her the name of our church (with a little help from mom) the woman was certain of the church location and even inquired about service times.  Rockstar told her that if she would wear her hair in a ponytail and wear the same coat, she would know her when she showed up at church.  The woman's name is Melanie.  She works nights at the store and to top it all off, she lives outside of town and owns horses!  That alone began a whole new topic of conversation with my horse crazed children.  It was a first impression like no other and a treasure in this momma's memories.  I had a mission and God had a better one.  I wonder how many times I've gone with the get in/get it done/get out mission and missed the real mission of my day.  Tonight Rockstar prayed for Melanie and I prayed thanking God for the sweet spirit of my little Rockstar.  May she always be in tune to God's calling on her life.

 “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."  Matthew 11:25-26

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cookies, anyone?

So...the fall season came and went and I never got my chili cook out with my neighbors to become any more than an idea...a good idea...and by no means a fleeting thought.  Unfortunately, I think it will have to wait a little while longer...maybe a spring fling?  

With that said...I did use Christmas as a great excuse to meet my neighbors.  I spent a Saturday baking, baking and baking cookies...some for church and some for our neighbors.  The girls went with me and we delivered the cookies to the houses on our street that we knew had little feet running around.  It was a great way to meet the neighbors and also a great opportunity to let my girls show some neighborly hospitality.  It was a very quick trip up and down the street, door to door.  I'm excited to at least have faces and names (at least the ones I remember) to go along with the houses.  A couple days later, I delivered some bread to our remaining neighbors.  It was a wonderful time and not nearly as quick.  Each house I stopped at cordially invited me in, and with a couple exceptions I felt obliged to do so.  I had some great conversations with some lovely people and am pleased to have such friendly neighbors nearby.

As 2011 dawns...I hope to allow myself to see many new ways and opportunities to impact the world around me in positive, God-honoring ways.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year...New Creation

This new year brings with it new creation, new excitement and much joy as we had the wonderful opportunity to sit together at the table over Sunday lunch on January 2nd, and watch the excitement unfold in the eyes of our 8 year old daughter as she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.  We've tried to be very cautious and not "push" her to a decision before the Holy Spirit spoke to her heart.  As we discussed the day's events at church, including the Lord's Supper we had observed in morning worship, Daddy looked at her and began a brief conversation about what it means to be a Christian and how one becomes a Christian.  She looked at him with wide eyes and excitement as she realized that a simple prayer and an open heart was all God requested.  She was elated at the simplicity and excited to begin her new journey as a Christian.  She then called both Grandmas to share the good news of her decision, as mommy stood by listening with tears of joy.  

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  2 Corinthians 5:17