Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Where there is no vision, the people parish...

Lately, I have been reading through the book, "Finding Your Purpose as a Mom" by Donna Otto with a group of women at our church.  We are 5 or 6 weeks into the study and it dawned on me that I have never intentionally explored my role as a mother and home-maker.   I have done many-o-study on having a healthy marriage, or being a better friend, having courage, or breaking chains... but  have never taken an intentional Biblical look at my role as a Mother.  (Side Note: I say the word "Home Maker" not as a job title, because even women who work, are essentially still the ones who "make the home" for their families.  I just don't want to confuse that phrase with the "job title" some SAH mother's give themselves.) (Moving on.)  I have really enjoyed this book and digging to the roots of motherhood and my role in my home.

First off, I think society has put the cart before the horse when it comes to our homes.

Girls, we must take back our homes from Pinterest, we must take back our homes from HGTV, we must take back our tables from The Food Network.  Instead of spending hours preparing the perfect croque monsieur (which is a fancy French grilled cheese) to present at our dining room table, we must first have a vision for the laughter, the manners, the conversations that are to be had there!!  The beautifully painted canvases and charming mason jars mean nothing if you do not have bonds of friendship and trust between family members.   I would choose a self confident child over a hand made "quiet book" on Pinterest that took me 16 hours to make.

When you close your eyes and picture a vision of your home, does it go deeper than the color of the walls, the dream of marble counter tops and the smell of Ina Garten cooking her famous slow-roasted-filet-of-beef-with-garlic-parmesan-mayonnaise in your kitchen?  (which sounds kinda gross to me, but I googled "popular Ina Garten recipes" and this was at the top of the list...)

I am going out on a limb here and sharing something with you that I feel is a little private...."My Vision".  Nothing is on this list that I want to hide from you, and maybe it will be an encouragement to someone.... so I am posting it anyways.  (I still feel like I am sharing a page out of my diary with you; your'e welcome.)

This is my vision for my house.  Sketched out for all to see.  You may agree with it, you may not... that's okay with me.  (that rhymed, *sigh*) Your vision for your home might be completely different, or it might look parallel to my own.  But, the question I am going to ask you is:

Have you purposefully and intentionally mapped out a vision for your household?

Until last week, my answer was "no".  I would defend that "no" with excuses like:
  • My vision is in my head...
  • I want it to be full of love (and warm fuzzies), laughter and joy... (the more vague the better)
  • The vision for my house is ever changing... 
But to be frank, I had never been asked to write my vision down, and I have never had enough self discipline to do it on my own, I am too busy washing clothes and changing diapers!!  In chapter 4 of Finding Your Purpose As a Mom, the author asks you to specifically map out a vision for your house hold.  She asks you to ask yourself questions like:
  • What does it smell like?
  • What do people notice when they walk in your home?
  • What is heard in your home?
  • Who do you want to see in your home?
Questions I haven't let enter my mind.  Besides my husband, I am solely responsible for setting the tone and the atmosphere of my home.  This task is up to me, and me alone.  There are few things in this expansive world that are totally dependent on me, and my home is one of them.  Am I viewing it with this much importance?   I have been viewing the "keeping of my home" as a chore, rather than a responsibly or a privilege, and to be completely transparent I haven't really had an "end goal" in mind.  I am in need of a serious reformation.

This last weekend we went to my husband's grandparent's house for the day.  The drive is around 45 minutes and since I have had motherhood, homemaking, parenting, etc at the forefront of my mind I started to consider his grandmother's home.  

His grandparents live on approximately 5 acres in a valley nestled outside of a small town in southern Oklahoma. It is the epitome of peaceful.   Mammy (his grandmother) is an avid gardner and in the summer time you are greeted with overflowing impatience and caladiums.  She is also a talented home decorator, in her day she would probably have given David Broomstead a run for his money on HGTVs "The Next Design Star".  She has perfectly hand picked every decoration, piece of furniture, and picture hanging on the wall with intention and purpose.  They live frugally, but have an abundance of wealth.  Their relationships are rich, their hospitality priceless and their love is genuine.  The moment you walk in the front door you are greeted with a smile and warm embrace, you smell the fresh clean air, and you could eat the comfort up with a spoon.  If his grandmother has any forewarning that you are coming over, something is baked and waiting for you. As the homemaker, she has created a legacy within the walls of her home.  This atmosphere of peace does not happen by chance.  She has poured years of her life into her family and her home, making great sacrifices along the way because she knows those whom she loves are worth it.  

My husband's grandparents have been married 55 years (I think?), and her home is still ministering to people.  (specifically to me)  Her vision for her home did not stop when her children grew up, married and moved out of the house.  Her relationship with her grandchildren runs deep because the time and energy she invested in them, opening her home to them for weeks in the summers, and attending nearly every sporting event each of them had.  Now that she has great-grandchildren, her home is filled with new toys for babies, toddlers and kids.  In the summer, they fill up the kiddy-pool days in advance so the water can be warm upon the kids arrival.  Her home is her ministry.  (And as a side note his grandpa is a saint, but I am specifically focusing on the womans' role in the homemaking today

Do you know someone with a home like this?  A home that someone has poured their life into?  A home that is grander than a house, one that exudes acceptance, grace, and love the minute you walk in.  A home that ministers?  (I know of several, this one has just been on my mind recently

Proverbs 29:18 says "Where there is no vision the people parish."  Maybe this is why the "family" has perished in our society.  As mothers and as fathers we have neglected to sit down and make a vision for our homes, a vision for our family, a vision that extends past the years our children are at home?  The culture we live in requires our nose to be constantly on the grindstone and when it comes to our families, either we are too busy to be intentional, or we are just too.dang.tired.  (I understand! Mee tooo.)  We must pause and consider to what destination we are leading our families?  That direction directly affects the generation you are raising and can set a path for future generations to follow.  You, as a parent are the catalyst in your small nuclear family, where are you taking them?

Let's get serious for a second.  Would you be aimless, half-hazard or reckless if you were given a longterm task at work?  


If you were starting your own company, would you write our a 15 page business plan? (Well, you would have to if you were applying for a loan.)  

If someone tasked you with planning a community wide event; the planning process begins with a vision, and then it takes months and months to execute.  

Or say you were given a longterm goal to reach, would you sit down, map out where you want to go, and devise a plan on how you will get there? Of course you would. 

Maybe you respond by saying, "Um, hello Heather... I am NOT a CEO or an event planner, or a community strategist.  Why is that relevant?"  

I respond by asking, how much more significant are our homes and families than the "important" events, goals or businesses these jobs are created for?  If an "event" requires that much planning and forethought, shouldn't we put a tiny amount of mental effort into the strategic planning of our homes? 

In Donna Otto's book, she provides an example of how to map out the vision for your home.  I simply started by drawing a little house in the middle of a piece of paper.  From that I listed the things I most wanted to see happening in my house.  The smells, the noises, the sounds.  Some of them will not be a reality, like "no trash" or "no plies", but it is a vision I have, nonetheless.  (I value a clean and open house, over clutter and junk; that is my preference.)   When putting pen to paper, I dug through memories I had as a child, experiences I have had as an adult, things I value, people I love and I considered what I want my children to remember, and what I want my future granddaughter-in-law to feel as she walks through my doors.

I challenge you to do the same.  Write out the vision you have for your home.  It can look like mine, it can be a list, it could be an interpretive dance if you are so inclined, but do it.  DO. IT.

It sounds cheesy, (I know, I felt that way too.) but it is therapeutic and so helpful.

Thanks for reading.

2 final thoughts: 
- You don't have to be married or have children to have a vision for your home.  Young couples, one parent homes, grandparents or singles should have a home with a purpose, just as much as homes with small children should.
-I am sure over time, my vision will evolve to fit the needs of my maturing family, but for now:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Toddler Sized Devotions

Now that I have a 5 YEAR OLD son, (I just cannot believe it!) we have started having short little devotions around the breakfast table each morning.  Don't be too impressed, they take 5 minutes and really I do it for multiple reasons.  
  1. Biblical Foundation: I believe the younger you can talk to them about The Bible, God and Jesus, the better.  Deuteronomy 6: 6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 
  2. OFFENSIVE Parenting: As the mother/father you know the anatomy of your family.  You know what your children are struggling with.  You can use this time to bring up issues that you want to have healthy dialog about when it is NOT in the heat of the moment.  IE: your child easily loosing their temper, not sharing, hitting, etc  Direct the conversation in the direction you think it needs to go, and explore why they are resorting to specific behavior by talking about it in a controlled environment.  I call this offensive parenting... Not "Offensive" by offending, but "Offensive" by playing the offense.  Strengthen your offensive approach to parenting so you don't have to always resort to defensive parenting: "parenting in response to a negative action". 
  3. Prepping them for School:  This is a great time to train your child to listen while you are talking, to take turns, and to know when to interject.  It is great practice for their patience  while a "lesson" is being given, and sets them up for success in school.  At times you might have to redirect them 3, 4, or 5 times, but finishing the devotion is the most important. <<<--- This is why I think it is best to choose a SHORT and SWEET devotion.  Nothing to long or in depth.  Start small, and feel out the dynamic of your family. 
Right now we use the very short, very direct, very cheap "30 Very Veggie Devos...".  I believe the price tag reads $4.99 and I bought it on sale.  So I didn't even spend $5 on our book.  And even though it is a "30" day devotional, we've been reading out of it for 3 months.  The kids have no clue, and I just haven't gone to get a new book yet, ha.    I love this devotional because each day has a scripture, devotional reading, 2-3 topical quotes and a short prayer.  Honestly it takes up less than 5 minutes to read through it.  

At the back of the book is a list of "memory verses" which we recently started implementing. 
Cheap and easy, what could be better?!?
How We "Do" Devos:

The kids eat breakfast at the table, and after everyone has their food we begin.  This is what works best for us:
  1. Read the devotion through.
  2. Child led discussion of the devotion. 
  3. Finish eating breakfast.
  4. When they are ready to leave the table they must recite their memory verse to be excused.  And, yes, my 2 year old can even do this!!  The memory verses have always been very short, it is not a chore.  
I usually write their memory verse on the chalkboard fridge in the kitchen.  This week I drew pics for them to remember.  Daxx and Zadie begged me to draw Dutch, and after stepping back and admiring my art work, he does look a little inappropriate, eh?   

My children have such big muscles. 
I just wanted to write this to encourage you to implement something this easy and short around your kitchen table.  It takes little (to NO) planning, but what a sweet precious time it is.  This is one way to "train" your child, by exposing them to the word and having active dialog about things that are eternally significant.

What do you DO? Let me know if anything has worked well for your family.

Thanks for reading.  :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To My Gamma-Phi-Beta-20-Year-Old-Sorority-Self

I went to Target the other night, ALONE!!  I would almost choose a solo trip to Target over an hour massage these days.  I had a Starbucks gift card, which I used for a piping hot spice vanilla latte, and I spent my time par-oozing the aisles. Of course, the time was 8:00 pm, and I looked like I had wrangled three children all day.  I am sure my shoulders were crusted with day old snot and baby food, and you could probably bet large sums of money that my hair hadn't been brushed since 6:30 am, possibly not even then.  Honestly, I really wasn't thinking about my appearance when I left the house.  I was, after all, venturing out into the dark of night to find solace in the aisles of retail heaven.   As I was meandering the clothing department, dreaming of all the fashionable clothing I could be wearing if I didn't have to buy formula, I saw a cute, skinny college girl wearing the most darling grey hoodie with floral Gamma Phi Beta letters sewn on the front.  I wanted to impress her by busting out my secret Gamma Phi Beta handshake (since I too am a G-Phi-B), BUT...I didn't want to scare her.  I am sure she would have left Target and called up her roomie and said, "Some weirdo 30 year old WOMAN cornered me between the rack of maxi-skirts and flannel button-ups to tell me she was a Gamma Phi too.  Uhg, hopefully I am not that wierd when I am 30.  Oh, and she had boogers crusted all over her shoulder.  Gross!!"

My mind immediately worm holed back to my college days. Ahhh.  What bliss.  Back then I would take therapeutic trips to Target too, but the reality I was escaping was much different.  

I began to think of my former-sorority-self.  If I was magically presented with my future, what would I think?  (I must admit my reality is pretty amazing, but still VERY different than what I ever pictured.) I have eaten SOOO many words since those days, and life is much more difficult than it was back then.  Not in a bad way, in a more "grown up" way.  

I laughed.

If I knew then, what I know now, I might have run in the opposite direction.  That is why God is good enough to not show us our future. (Amen?!)  We would melt on the spot if we knew what lay ahead.

I have been working on a list of "You know you are a Mom when..." things that have actually happened to me.  The little sorority cutie that I saw at Target that night has no idea the fun and excitement that is in store, even though on paper (or computer screen) it looks ugly, it really is an adventure.

I decided to write her a little letter to let her know a tidbit about the life she will soon live.

To My Gamma-Phi-Beta-20-year-old-sorority-self,

First of all, Hi... You are so cute, even when you are unshowered and in sweats! (Enjoy that while it lasts) I have a few exciting things to tell you. 

These things will happen to you...

When all the kids are sleeping and you will sit down on the couch and still be watching Barney, and maybe even singing along.

When you and your husband are out to dinner your conversation will be about what is going on in Gabba Land this week, and you won't care. 

You hop in the car, sans kids, you will not even hear the Wiggles singing until you arrive at your destination.  Your ability to tune things out will impress you so much. 

Your third child's first food will be a giant fair turkey leg (I kid)

Boogers don't bug you, and you will willingly stick your hand in a toilet full of pee to pull out a random toy that mysteriously appeared so you don't have to call "Mr. Rooter", again.

You will view snot as the least disgusting of bodily fluids you encounter each day.

You could bet your 3rd child that you can now win Super Market Sweep if it was still on bc you know every nook and cranny of your local grocery store.  (Seriously, can this show please come back on television... I would SOOO dominate!)

You can put spaghetti in boiling water, set the timer, give a child a bath, dress them in PJs and a fresh diaper, all before the timer buzzes.  (You only thought you could multitask before you had kids)

You will make bets with your husband making wages like who gets to change the dirty diaper, wipe the kid in the bathroom, or clean up the vomit. 

You will hide in your kitchen eating chocolate covered Hostess "gas station" donuts so you don't have to share with your children.  (Oh, and twinkies will no longer 

You will then lie to your children when they bust you eating the chocolate covered donuts, and tell them you are just eating bread for a snack. 

You think you are cool because you have forced your children to eat disgusting experiments you learned on Pintrest.  Like this..

Coffee will run through your veins so that your eyes will stay open on their own, AND you will never sleep 12 straight hours again.  Unless you are on a vacation without your children, then when you have the opportunity to sleep, you will keep waking up thinking about your children...thus, still not sleeping. 

This will be a picture of torture:

You will go to the ER with your 3 year old child and receive an X-ray worthy of framing! Heck Yes!
(Thats a penny stuck in there folks!)

Holiday road trips will  consist of crying children and bags of pee... 

You and your husband will willingly paint your face in the theme of the party and sport it all day long, even out in public because to your 4 year old son, YOU ARE A SUPER HERO. 

These are just a FEW of the many unexpected adventures coming your way, and yes, yes, yes... I do see a recurring theme of pee/poop/boogers on that list... yuckola, but tis my reality sweetie,  :)

Okay, now I want you to lean in close and listen.  Even though these events will happen, you will draw nearer and nearer to the Lord.  He will refine you and sharpen you.  He will use you to raise up three beautiful children. He will give you an unconditional love for your husband, that goes deeper than any love you have felt.  He will bring sweet friends into your life that will pour into you and you will NOT be alone.  His Word will inspire you, fill you up, and give you a hope for your future.  God will be near. 

Enjoy these moments of kid free trips to Target and study groups lasting until 2:00 am.  Go on trips with your girlfriends and sleep in until noon.  Live up the life that you have, and don't waste a minute, because soon, your life will no longer be your own.  

YOUR 30-year-old-Mommy-self

Thanks for reading friends. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Teaching Obedience is Not About Behavior

This weekend I loaded up my three kiddos and took a short road trip to visit my grandmother.  My mom also accompanied myself and my husband, Denver so we could have a 1 adult : 1 child ratio.  My grandmother's house is a life sized menagerie.  She is an avid "collector" of all things, varying from vast collection of tiny spoons to a large accumulation of live animals, the fowl species particularly.  These birds currectly reside on her 5 acre plot in NW Oklahoma:

-chickens, geese, ducks, guienea, emu, peacocks, banty roosters/chickens (which she seriously sent me home with 10 dozen eggs... thats 120 eggs people!)

Yes, this happened.  That's my grandma on the right and my oldest son Daxx when he was 2 riding her pet Emu, Myrtle. 

It is a mental chore going to see her with my children because inevitably they want to see the animals, play with ALL her cool toys, and eat the candy that has been sitting in the candy dish since 1988.  But, the short trips are worth every painstaking second because she is worth it.  Much of who I am is because of her.  I was able to spend many days and nights with her as young girl, and her chaos is comforting to me.

I, of course was assigned to the youngest child, since I wear him like a necklace these days.  (I don't do infants well, I like my space!)  Since, the littlest man is crawling (fast, faster than lightening) I was kept on my toes watching for him to get into something life threatening.  We were not there long when he found the baby kryptonite in a large bowl under the piano.  PLASTIC GRAPES, lots and lots and lots of plastic grapes; big grapes, medium grapes, teeny grapes, red, yellow, purple and blue grapes, all piled up in a ginormous antique dish on the floor just waiting to be chewed by little baby gums.  I already knew that this was a weakness for the Duncan offspring, my other two children had the same fascination.  Due to their thick layer of petrified dust, the very fact they are a CHOKING HAZARD, and once saw a snake slither out of the very exact bowl, I don't allow the kids to play with them.

This is an example of the decor that graces my grandmother's living room.
Cabbage man!
So, Dutch spied the giant bowl of grapes calling his name.  I said no.  He crawled to them.  I picked him up, placed him away from the grapes, and said, "No Touch!".  He looked at me, smiled and crawled back to the grapes and grabbed them.  I picked him up, said "NO Touch!" and sat him back down.  He looked at me (a little mad) then looked at the grapes, then looked at me, and started crawling back to the grapes.  I said "no", but allowed him to keep crawling to see where he would go... of course to grab the grapes.  (Did I mention he is a fast booger?)  Well, this time I picked him up, patted his hand, and said "NO Touch!".  Of course he screamed, cried and threw himself back like his life was over.  What else did I expect him to do?    Look at me, smile and OBEY?!?

I started pondering this question: What would the purpose of my role as a mother or parent be if my children came into this world obeying every word I said, never seeking their own desires and requiring little to no guidance and direction?  

Void of the responsibility to train and discipline my children I would simply exist to feed, clothe, and bathe them.   How boring would that be?  But it seems the very thing we avoid most often is the most important.  If our only duties were the bare essentials we might as well work on an assembly line, manufacturing little human robots.   Instead, we are tasked with the greatest responsibility of them all: "to train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6).

I say all this because we should not act surprised when our children throw tantrums, we should not act blindsided when they run away from us, and we shouldn't take offense if they don't want to do what we ask of them.  Why do we get so frustrated and upset, when they are just acting the way they are supposed to?  They are, after all, tiny humans, with a tiny (but mighty) human nature.  They are inclined to do what is fun, what feels good, what they want, because they are not born with a moral or safety compass, we must intervene if not for sole reason for saving their life (i.e.: choking on petrified grape decor from 1977 at my grandmothers)

Its amazing the expectation I put on my children.  When my kids are acting out I will say things to myself like, "They should know better!", "We do not tolerate behavior like that!", "Where did they learn to throw a fit?"...etc, then I get tense and mean.  But honestly, they are just acting the way they were designed.  It is the job of the parents to intervene and direct/discipline so we can train them up in a way that is "right".   Why do we dread this part of our jobs so much?  The job that is the most vital?  Why do we put the blame back on our children, when really the responsibility lies in our own hands? (Oh, because Satan is sneaky...that's why.)

The Bible gives us many scriptures on parenting, (some listed at the bottom of this post) mostly focusing on discipline, talking about the Lord, making disciples, but NEVER does it say to make sure your children eat organic veggies, wear Baby Gap and have wooden chew toys. Think about all the mental effort and hard earned money we put into those things, yet we look the other way when we see our child misbehave or we are just too tired to follow through with the threat we scared them with minutes before.   (obviously my threats don't scare my children, maybe yours do?)

So.  Today I resolve to move direction and discipline to the top of my priority list.  I will make a conscious effort in following through with the consequences I set before my children and I will not make threats that I cannot keep.  (For example:  "You are never watching TV again!"{yeah right!})

WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?  You might be asking...

Because, not only does our hard work and determination pay off by producing well adjusted adults, BUT most of all, teaching a child to be obedient at a young age prepares them for the most important relationship off all, their relationship with the Lord.  We must prepare the soil of our children's hearts so that when the time comes for the Holy Spirit to lead them, they will be obedient and follow.

Obedience is not simply about behavior, it is an issue of Salvation.  

When we look at parenting through the lens of eternity, we must prioritize our efforts.  Even though the grape incident with Dutch was small, I now realize its a tiny building block in laying a foundation of obedience.  A foundation that I hope will be strong and stable, so the Lord can take it in due time and build a great man of faith.

Deuteronomy 4:9-10 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Proverbs 1:8-9 Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Proverbs 6:23 For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right.

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Proverbs 15:5 A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.

Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.

Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Self Sacrifice Through the Eyes of Motherhood

Do you ever have times when God gently slaps you in the face with the same lesson 3 or 4 times in a row.  Then finally after the 3rd or 4th smack you realize that HE might be trying to make a point... Yep.  That has been me this last week.  God has slapped me right upside the head, gently, albeit still a slap.

I mentioned before that I had been reading through the wonderful book, Finding Your Purpose as a Mom, by Donna Otto.  This week I finished chapters 3-4 and also did some extra reading on the side, along the lines of motherhood.  Lately, God has really brought me to a place of refocusing my role as a mother and a wife.  This path came as a complete surprise to me, as I have shared before.  I thought I had this "motherhood" gig figured out, but obviously I had some fine tuning that needed some attention.

Can I be honest?  (Yes, Heather, this is YOUR blog... )  Well, sometimes I feel like I am made for grander things than parenting.  (I know.  Gasp if you may.)   But there are times when I picture myself far away from home, scaling the Himilayas with a baby strapped to my back so I can stumble upon a village of blind people  and fit them all with glasses or I was meant to be giving "those other pair of TOMS that I purchase when I purchase a pair for myself" away to someone in Africa.  (Seriously though, who has that job?!?  How cool.  Sign me up!)  The humanitarian and adventurer in me begins to twitch just typing this.

When my mind wanders and I "go there" for just a minute, I have a teensy pity party, but God is good and HE gently takes me by the shoulders and leads me back to my reality.  Quietly, He shows me how great of a work HE is doing in me and in my house because I am being obedient to this seemingly simple, yet significantly influential calling.  Motherhood.

Being a successful parent requires multiple attributes, but the 2 that are being sharpened in me during this season are: discipline and self-sacrifice.

Just reading those words makes me want to grit my teeth and RUN in the opposite direction, but instead I must look them boldly in the eyes and say..."Okay.  Let's do this!".

"self-sacrifice through the eyes of motherhood"

Yes. Yes. Yes.  Motherhood is thankless, it is ugly, it is booger-y, it is wrapped in a dirty diaper and handed to you on a tray with moldy cheese and curdled milk.   No matter if you are home all day long, work part time or full time, have 1 kid or have 8 children motherhood is a HARD JOB.  (Especially if you have a nursing baby, amen?!)  Not one mother out there has it easy.  No one.  So, automatically before you make a conscious decision to "sacrifice your self" for your children, they have already TAKEN a piece of you and ran. (And probably left fingerprints and crumbs in the process! ARG!)  (Is it called a sacrifice when you have no choice?!)

I love the following scripture:

Romans 21:1- Therefore, I urge you brothers (and "Mothers") in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

Okay.  Pause.  Put that in your back pocket as we dig a little deeper here.

In church when we are called to "lay down our life", "pick up our cross daily", or to "offer yourself as a living sacrifice", we sit in the pew and genuinely consent that this is our duty as followers of Christ.  We instantly agree to putting our desires and dreams for our life behind us to actively pursue Christ's call. And we do it with a smile.  Period.
Why do I know this is a lie?!  First and foremost if the entire church did this, we would LOOK insanely different to a lost world.  It is almost ridiculous to agreeably commit to this lifestyle because it goes against every grain of our being.  We have a selfish ambition, we live in a self pleasing, self seeking, self obsessed culture,   It is hard to live counter culturally.  Guess what, that's okay, and sometimes to admit something is difficult can be freeing and liberating.  (Girls, Satan wants us to suffer in silence, and hates it when the body of Christ can experience unity.)

When God finally brings us to that place of living a "sacrificial life" we can respond many ways.  One way is to kick and scream and want someone to rescue us IMMEDIATELY, or we will willingly place our lives on the alter, EXCEPT we want to be wrapped in flashing Christmas lights with a giant neon arrow pointing to us saying, "#1 SACRIFICE" or "LOOK AT ME, WHAT A SACRIFICE I AM MAKING!" for all the world to see.

Mmmm, you mean it's kinda like when God calls us to a role that is overlooked, under paid NOT PAID, and thought of as an obligation (eh-hm, motherhood) we cross our arms and stomp our feet because NO ONE is thanking us and patting us on the back for a job well done?  We fight against the desire to be validated, affirmed and doted on, because this IS our human nature.  This is the battle between spirit and flesh.

Matthew 26:41- "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the message translation of Romans 12:1-2 (the verse I quoted earlier) (Did I mention I LOVE it!?)

"So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. (embrace it Heather, DON'T FIGHT IT!) Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."

YES!!  Take my everyday ordinary life God.  Take my tiny house, take my budgeted grocery list and off brand bread, take the time I spend reading your Word to my children, take my unshowered body and greasy hair, take my walgreens makeup and Fructise shampoo, take my dirty kitchen floors and very stained loved couch, take my TV antenna and mostly take my GIANT MOUNTAIN OF LAUNDRY, take these things that I am doing and living everyday, TAKE MY LIFE and I offer them to you as a living sacrifice so that you may do your will IN me.

Yes.  I may want to buy all my make up at the MAC counter, but I cannot.  I am a mother.
Yes.  I want to get a pedicure and manicure once a week (let's throw in a weekly massage too) but I cannot.  I am reading with my kids because I am a mother.
Yes.  I want cable.  But I cannot afford it because I am a mother.
Yes.  I want a clean house that is decorated like pottery barn (but with wall paper and dishes from Anthropologie)  But I cannot.  I am a mother.
Yes.  I want to go to Europe, Hawaii and Africa.  But I cannot.  I am a mother.
Yes.  I want to sleep 10 STRAIGHT HOURSE EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. But I cannot.  I am a mother.
Yes.  I want to go out to eat for every single meal.  But I cannot.  I am a mother.
Yes.  I want to wear expensive clothing, wear high heels, work out in cute yoga pants and take a hot shower.  But I cannot.  I am a mother.

(you get my point...)

Colosians 3:23- 

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people tiny children.

These dreams, these desires, these wants... I lay them at your feet, Lord.  I embrace the role I have been given.  I will not pout, I will not look to the mother on my left or my right and dream of her life, I will not make mountains out of mole hills, I will live in peace with my neighbor.  I accept this life and I will let YOU make it great.

As hard as the sheep fought against the Shepard as he laid him on the alter, we fight equally hard against the Lord.  Scripture does not say, to "sacrifice" yourself, instead it says to "OFFER" yourself.   The worship is not about being the sacrifice, it is about the journey to the alter.  

Today am I fighting God to the alter?  Or today am I being lead readily and quickly?

And they are SOOO WORTH IT!! !
Thanks for reading.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The big chop

This past Wednesday we encountered a few traumatic minutes at the Duncan house.   We were having a normal peaceful day.  The kids were being themselves.  Zadie played all morning, Dutch was a little cranky, but he is teething, so that is to be expecting.  

About 3:00 I got Dutch up from his nap, I laid him down to change his diaper when I noticed a wad of hair wrangled around his little middle toe.  I went to pull the hair out, and as soon as I touched it, Dutch let out a loud scream, yanking his legs up.  Immediately, I knew this was going to take a little more effort and upon examination I realized that the wad of hairs was wrapped around, around, around, around and around hit teensy toe.  

My mind was reeling with thoughts, and within a few short seconds I pictured Dutch in high school, running track with a missing toe.  (I am not sure why I pictured him on the track?)  My heart sank and I burst into tears because the fate of my babies toe was to be determined in the next few minutes or hours... (This is the panic I felt at least.  I know it wouldn't have fallen off, but it goes to show you how ones mind can race so quickly!

I immediately called the nurse triage unit at our pediatricians office and left a message.  Then I called my husband, and he laughed at me.  He told me to simply pull the hairs out from between his toes, but what he couldn't see was the more I pulled the hairs to free the toe, the tighter they wound.  (My poor baby!!)  Luckily he works just a few minutes away from our house, so because of my panic, he came home to free the toe. 

He walked through the door and I was standing at the door holding Dutch. He pulled up his toe, and immediately began yanking the hair off.  He had no concern that the hair would slice into his skin, it seemed as if he could not hear the screaming coming from our poor child; he was in "rescue mode".   In a few short seconds he had the toe freed, and was in his car back to work.  

So because of this little toe incident (after I called the pediatrician to cancel my message to the nurse) I picked up the phone and called my trusty hair cutter person... And scheduled an appointment to chop off my hair.  

Because of this nasty post pregnancy shed I have been meaning to cut my hair for some time.  Hairs are floating around our house like leaves falling in late September.  It's all pretty gross. As beautiful as my long locks were, it was time to put the health and cleanliness of my family above my vanity and chop it off.  (Plus, it took almost 30 minutes to blow-dry, I have NO time for that!)

Below is my instaframe collage of the whole experience.  I think it pretty much sums it up.  

Thanks for reading. 
Left: Before shot
Right: After shot 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Legos... I mean LEGO! Learn a little bit about yourself and take my LEGO Personality Quiz

Hi.  I am a mom of a KFOL who is also commonly known in the LEGO world a KSB.  If you have no idea what I just said, please keep reading.  
Are you an AFOL (adult fan of LEGO)?  What about an AFFOL (adult female fan of LEGO)? Or maybe a TFOL (teen fan of LEGO)?  Are you a parent of a KFOL (kid fan of LEGO), also known as a POKFOL?  (Do you feel smarter yet?!)

Are you lost in translation right now?  Let me fill you in.
Haven't you ever heard of the "Bricktionary"? Gah.  Where do you live?  Under a rock?!  I was trying to look up a slang term for LEGO obsessed, my Google search failed me, but I stumbled upon the "Bricktionary".  I couldn't help but have fun with some of the terms I discovered, like Gr├╝schteling the word in German used to describe the sound of rummaging through a bucket of LEGO bricks.  (If you have ever played with LEGOs you know exactly what I am talking about!!) ... A whole new world was opened up to me, and I suddenly realized I had a lot to learn.  This Mom needed to be "LEGO-cated". 

First if you are a parent to a KFOL (like me) why don't you take the LEGO personality quiz.  I whipped this bad boy up after a 12 hour LEGO binge I assisted my son in.   We were quarantined in our house for 72 hours due to the influenza plague striking our nation, so I had some extra time on my hands.  Forgive me.  (But, I hope you enjoy.)

Created by: Yours Truly (you're welcome)

1.  What is your role when you play LEGOs with you child?  Are you:
  • (3) The Builder- You exhibit many OCD tendencies and you must be in control at.all.times.  If there is one piece missing you look relentlessly all day to find it, even turning the entire house upside down because you know that you know, that you know, you saw it by the couch 2 days ago.
  • (2)  The Parts Monkey -One who selflessly finds LEGO elements for another during build time. If building sets, parts monkeys are permitted to help with sub-assemblies, but should be aware that their main duty is to provide the builder with what he/she needs**.
  • (1)  A Luggle- Non-lego folk** (adapted from term Muggles from the Harry Potter Series) (Which *gasp* I have never read, so I don't really get this, BUT I like the word anyways.)

2. What is your LEGO building positioning?
  • (3) At the table, with a magnifying glass table lamp, checking the security of every brick as you build piece by piece.  You. Are. A. Lego. Master. Congrats.  Stop now, and proceed to the Purist aisle. Thanks for coming.  
  • (2) On the floor, sitting criss cross applesauce, so you can reach LEGO bricks within reach, building on the unstable carpet until your knees go numb and you can no longer wiggle your toes.
  • (1) On the floor, laying on your stomach.  The longevity of this position is the shortest, eventually the small of your back will feel as if it is bearing the load of a baby elephant and your neck muscles want to give out. Any LEGO enthusiast can tell you this is only recommended when building "Vigs".  (the lego term for small Vignettes**) (Duh)

3.  When your child asks you to play LEGOs with them do THEY:
  • (3) Build along side of you, picking out the correct pieces as you help assemble.  (muahaha, yeah right!  If you answered yes, you are in complete parental denial.  Now this may hold true for the first 2 minutes of play or if your child is older than 12.)
  • (2) Play with the 2 men the "Bignette" (larger version than a vignette**) came with, running around the house, screaming while you are losing your mind trying not to cuss.  But, still "technically" they are playing LEGOs
  • (1) Watching yo gabba gabba while you are in the dining room going insane because the lego set has collapsed 5 times since you started 2 hours ago. 

4.  Which type of 'blocks' (or sorry, pardon me, I meant to say 'bricks') do you use?
  • (3) LEGOs- the name brand blocks that you could eventually resell on ebay and send your kid to Harvard with all the proceeds
  • (2) Duplos- bahahahaha, you only think you are playing legos with your kid. bahahahaha. Just. Wait. 
  • (1) Clone Brand or Crap-o-Blocks- Any rival building system, such as mega blocks, Tyco or Coco **

5. What is your favorite color of LEGO?  (Now you have no excuse for not using the correct color terms.  Consider yourself enlightened.)
  • (3) Trans Invisible- Term to describe the color of a clear LEGO brick**
  • (2) Bred- Term to describe a brick that is brownish red **
  • (1)  Blaersk- The slightly different, new shade of Maersk Blue**
  • (0) Bley- The derogatory term given to the new grey colors introduced by LEGO in 2004**  

6:  Do you like adding personality to your MOC (My Own Creation, refers to original LEGO creations**)? If so, which best fits your builder fancy?
  • (3) Greeble: Adding small parts to make it look fancy ** If you like the little flowers pieces, doors, windows and colored clear "dots"(the pieces that are so enticing to pop in your mouth and chew the LEGO life out of [or does this just pertain to me?]), this is you. 
  • (2) BOLOCS: Built Of Lots Of Colors** (I like how this acronym doesn't identify the meaning of the last letter...come one Bricktionary!
  • (1) You like to sit on the floor and sift around in the LEGO box hearing the sound of the LEGOs mixing together, this sound is called, Gr├╝schteling**, for those of you who do not know.  Aka: LEGO sensory therapy. Ahhhhhhh....

7: Which is the correct term?

  • (5) LEGO
  • (0) Legos (Endearing (but utterly incorrect) term used by foolish Americans**)(Those Americans!)

8:  When assembling LEGO "Vigs" or "Bigs" for your children, do you REALLY want to:

  • (3) Literally throw an adult sized tantrum, screaming, cursing, throwing LEGOs across the room because the 8th time you try and add an intricate piece on the very top, you crush the entire set, thus sending you into a complete and utter LEGO tailspin, becoming the person you wish your children would never see.   (good, then you're a normal human being, whew!)
  • (2) Avoid the scenario by adding one or two bricks, looking like you care, but really, not so much.  You'd rather be watching Anderson Cooper or checking your e-mail.
  • (1) pshhht... I don't build the LEGO sets, my spouse gets that job.  

9: Which version of LEGOs do you own the most of?

  • (3) Star Wars- On shelves, right now, these are the most expensive.  I saw a teenage girl buy a set for $450 last week.  Seriously.  I am SO glad we are not at that stage yet,  yikes.
  • (2)  Super Heroes-  Of course you can buy super hero toothpaste, animal crackers, underwear, why not buy super hero LEGOS too? 
  • (1) Ninjago- hiiiii-yah!  You are supercool.  They have Ninjago EVERYTHING. Even a TV show. 
  • (1000)  Rocking Horse Poo: Very rare elements** that you buy on E-bay or on the LEGO black market behind the Mexican Flea Market on Saturdays at 10th and Penn. (This is an actual term in the Bricktionary, I cannot make this up)
Now... add up all your points... 

Congratulations.  Your LEGO personality is:

1024-25: Purist: A LEGO-fan who only uses official LEGO elements. Or a LEGO creation that only contains official LEGO elements with no modifications or custom parts. Contrast with Custom**

24-15: Customizer: a LEGO-fan who is not afraid to modify LEGO parts. Customizing may include painting, cutting, drilling, melting LEGO elements, adding other non-LEGO parts to a creation, or adding details with custom-made stickers and decals. These are all considered herecy by a “purist”.**

14-0: KSB: Abbreviation used in polite company to identify a less than brilliant builder among you. ** (and I have NO CLUE what KSB stands for?  You must have to be in the inner sanctum of LEGO nerdery to know this true meaning?)

Thank you for your time.  I am officially OD on L.E.G.O. (is that term allowed?) good night. 

All terms with a ** denotes that it was a definition derived from the Bricktionary at 

  1.  or

Your welcome. Now, please, have 

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