Gratitude and the Hard

gratitude 1The other day I was at a birthday party with my boys and while they were happily enjoying pizza and cake, I began chatting with another mom.

We talked about our kids and then I asked her to tell me the story of how she met her husband.  She spoke so sweetly about her man and went on to say what an amazing dad he is.

I asked her if she and her husband wanted to have any more children and she said, “Well, we have been trying but that just hasn’t worked out for us.”

My heart squeezed.  I know all about infertility.  It was 4 years before God gave us the Happy Buddy.

I said, “Girl, I am so sorry.  That is so hard.”

And you know what she said?

“Yeah, it is, I guess.  But I don’t like focusing on it because I don’t want it to seem that we are not thankful for what we have.”

She gestured to her adorable son who had cake icing and crumbs all around his mouth.

“He’s so great,” she said with a smile, “He’s enough.”

gratitude 2gratitude 3As we were driving home from the party I couldn’t stop thinking about her words.

I feel like I have become a very fussy person in the last couple of years.

At least in my heart, I know I have.

Whenever something difficult crosses my path (which is about 700 times a day) I find myself muttering, “UGH!  Really God???  This is SO hard!”

I humbly confess to you that in the most private pockets of my heart I think I have this prideful attitude that feels I have been through enough hard things and  deserve some kind of break or period of ease.

Ha!!

Life is not that way, is it?

There are still lunches to pack, kids to discipline and train, a husband to love and serve well, dinner to make, laundry to fold, toilets to scrub (oh wait, I don’t do that)…  There are still ants procreating in my car, bills to pay, my full-time job, sick kids, and the burdening business of figuring out how to reduce the size of my pores.

There’s still that UTI that came upon me suddenly while on my church’s women’s retreat and then the stomach bug that came only 2 weeks later.

There’s still that thyroid problem I have to deal with for the rest of my life.

Ah, but this precious woman’s words rang in my heart like the final chord of the worship team at church on Sunday.

Focusing on the hard of our day can close our eyes to all the good.

gratitude 5Yes, life is hard.  No doubt about that.

But I have to ask God for eyes to see.

Eyes to see that I HAVE KIDS.  2 precious ones.  Oh, raising them is no picnic and they make me frequently mentally escape to private islands in the Bahamas, but they give me purpose and joy every morning.

Eyes to see that my job, while it is a different life than the one I had as a SAHM, it is still a good one.  I am able to see my kids and my husband throughout the day.  I am able to relieve my sweet, hard-working husband of financial stress.

Eyes to see my messy house as a place that is a reflection of a full and busy life being lived with people that I love.

Eyes to see that those $4.99 rotisseries from Costco are the blessed answer for those nights when I am mentally and physically unable to make sense of a recipe card.

Eyes to see that a persistent thyroid issue is simply another reminder to fix my gaze on Christ and the perfection and glory and hope of heaven.

Thank you, God.

gratitude 6gratitude 7My favorite story in the Bible is from Acts 16.

Paul and Silas have just been stripped of their clothes, beaten with rods, and flogged because of the Truth they were sharing and the miracles they were performing in the name of Jesus.

They were then thrown in jail – to the furthest, most inner cell – and their feet were fastened in stocks.

{{At this point, my fussing about exceptionally large pores and ant problems seems KIND OF FRIVOLOUS.}}

Paul and Silas could have sighed and cried and hung their heads and complained about how hard it was to be follower of Christ.

But do you know what they did?

Verse 25 says at midnight – at the darkest hour, in the furthest cell – Paul and Silas began praying and singing hymns to God.

They weren’t focused on the hard.

They were focused on the GOD.

The God who had saved and rescued and comforted them time and time again.

The God who had given them {{given us}} His Word, His Presence, HIS SON.

The God who was and is absolutely enough.  Even in the hard.

Can we focus on that?  Can we stop grumbling about the things that we have been entrusted with and can we find something to sing about in the midst of it?

gratitude 4Like our little boy with the mouth full of cake.

And possibly a portable vacuum cleaner for my car.

:-)

Yes, thank you, God.

- Julie

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

*You can find the FREE Printable ‘We Are Thankful For You’ tags and delicious pumpkin bread recipe over at The Larson Lingo.

Sharing is Caring – Teaching Kids to Share

Teaching Kids to Share by Happy Home FairyI teach a class of nine 2 year olds and we spend a large part of the day navigating the treacherous waters of sharing.

At any given moment throughout the morning, there is probably a tug of war going on somewhere in the classroom over a beloved item – like a pair of pink plastic sunglasses.

Because what 2-year-old can live without a pair of pink plastic sunglasses?

Or the purse that looks like Todo.  Or the Snow White dress-up dress.  Or the talking tea pot.  Or the Dora the Explorer Lift-the-Flap book.

Often the parents of my students come to the classroom hoping I will teach their kids the alphabet and Mozart and how to appreciate a dictionary.

While we are are busy learning about colors, shapes, and numbers, one of the main benefits of preschool is learning how to simply LIVE LIFE ALONGSIDE OTHER PEOPLE.

So as I encounter students fussing over a toy in my classroom or my own boys in a squabble over a small bar of soap in the bathtub (sharing is slippery business, people), I like to have a few key phrases to help them learn how to live life alongside others in a way that pleases God.

You might be surprised to learn that teaching our children about sharing is NOT about who had the wanted item first, it’s actually a matter of the heart that needs to be addressed.

Over and over and over again.

Here are a few key phrases I use and some ideas that I have found to work when it comes to sharing.

God’s Word

When it comes to behavior, I look to the Bible for wisdom on how to address it with my kids.  Usually I will share a verse with my boys and then make up a song for it so that it will get into their hearts quicker and hopefully for forever. :-)

It also comes in handy if they are in the middle of an escalating argument because I can interrupt with a cheery little tune of correction and we typically end up laughing (or the husband ends up rolling his eyes because he is a professional musician and thinks my original songs are sub-par).

This verse from Hebrews 13:16 is especially helpful as I am training my boys about sharing.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16.

Here is a little video of the song so you can learn it too!  (Email subscribers click HERE to see the video).

*Key phrases to encourage sharing -

Recite the verse together and then say, “It pleased God when you gave that toy back to your brother,” or, “It pleases God when we share.”

Treasures in Heaven

What we really want is for our children to develop a generous heart.  Luke 12:33 says, “Sell your possessions and give to those in need.  This will store up treasure for you in heaven!”  I love encouraging my kids to think about eternity and live with their eyes focused on the bigger picture – with the bigger picture here being that in light of eternity and the glorious gift of salvation we have been given through Christ, our stuff doesn’t really matter.  As we get overwhelmed by the love we have been shown by our Father, then our grateful hearts want to overwhelm someone else with the same love and generosity.  And that is how treasures in heaven are acquired.

When we fight to keep the toy we want, we get the treasure on earth.  But when we sacrifice the toy and give it away, then we are blessed with the treasure in heaven.

*Key phrases to encourage sharing -

“Who wants the blessing now, and who wants it in heaven?”

“People are more important than things.”

“Who are you loving most right now?”

 Great Expectations

I like to give my boys a little pep talk before we go into a situation where a potential sharing problem could arise.  We make up scenarios and practice how we would respond.

Say we are visiting Luke’s house.  I might say to my boys in the car on the way, “What would you do if Luke grabs a toy out of your hands?” or, “What if Luke has a toy that you would like to play with?”

You can get silly and make light of the bad behavior by saying, “Would you turn into a scary monster and roar in his face??” or “Would you snatch it away from Luke and then bop him on the head with it?”

Then I try to direct conversation to the encouragement of Luke 6:30-31, “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

It’s also a good idea to set up a consequence in advance if your kids fail to share well.

*Key phrases to encourage sharing -

“May I have a turn when you’re done please?”  *HERE is a good article about these magical 9 words.

“I see how upset you are right now.  It’s hard to give up something you like a lot.  But you are a kind and loving boy/girl.  I know God can help you make the right choice here.”

“How would it make you feel if someone wasn’t willing to share with you?”

“Remember, if you make the choice to not share well with Luke, then we will need to leave the play date early.  Let’s make the right choice so we can have fun and bring glory to God!”

Model

It’s SOOOO unbelievably easy to fuss about our kids’ behavior but what about OUR behavior?  Are we being good examples?

When my husband has a plate of fries in front of him, do I swoop over and grab a handful without asking?

When my child is using the bathroom, do I command him to get out or do I politely ask for a turn?

When your kids ask for a bite of the chocolate chips you are wolfing down by the handful do you snap and say, “NO!  These are MOMMY’S!!!!”?

When one of my friends asks to borrow a book or purse or cute top and then they don’t return it, do I talk about it in front of my kids with frustration?

It might not always seem like they are paying attention to how we, as adults, share, but those little boogers are and we need to be humble and willing to grow as Share-ers, too. :-)

*Key phrases to encourage sharing -

“I am happy to loan you my ___________.”

“I love sharing with you!”

 Super Share-ers

In my classroom, when someone remembers to love a friend well and sacrifice something or handle a situation without screeching like a banshee and lunging for the other kid’s neck, I make a big deal and give them the title of, “SUPER SHARE-ER.”

So when your kids get it right – THROW A PARTY.  Seriously.  Woop and holler and toss confetti from your pocket.  We want to reinforce this behavior, right?  So lavish your little hero with praise.

And possibly some glitter.

*Key phrases to encourage sharing -

“I LOVE the way you shared your toys with Luke today!  I see God working in your life!

“YOU ARE A SUPER SHARE-ER!!!”

“Super Share-er Alert!  Super Share-er Alert!  This kid is awesome!”

“I’m giving you a hug this instant for the beautiful way you just loved and served your brother.”

A lot of these concepts are hard for small kids to grasp, but you just keep singing it in their ears and one day they will be so great at sharing that you will have to bribe them to ‘pretend fight’ over a toy for a photo shoot about sharing for your blog. :-)

Lol, just kidding.  3 seconds after I was done taking the photo, the Happy Buddy abruptly let go of the toy which sent the Happy Baby flying backward and onto his bottom which made him so angry that he stood up and slugged his brother.

Next ‘parenting’ post will be called Helping Hands, Not Hurting Hands.

- Julie

*I found a TON of great inspiration for this article from Jodi, over at Meaningful Mama.  I really love her counsel on parenting!  Check out her precious blog and tell her I sent you!*

Just Another Perfect Day at the Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch 1 pumpkin patch 2 pumpkin patch 4Well, we went to the pumpkin patch on Tuesday.

For some, it was a very emotional experience.

pumpkin patch 3pumpkin patch 5 pumpkin patch 6 pumpkin patch 7 pumpkin patch 8 pumpkin patch 9The Happy Baby wasn’t exactly thrilled about our ‘fun’ family outing.

Although he did stop crying once someone gave him the stickers (note above).

But by then the Happy Buddy was losing interest (note facial expression).

Ha!

You know every year I give it the old college try and every year someone cracks under the pressure of having a camera in their face.

My children clearly do not have a future in child modeling.

They are just way too cooperative. :-)

Even with the Happy Baby’s fluctuating mood, I decided to be ambitious and go for the whole family shot.

pumpkin patch 10 pumpkin patch 11 pumpkin patch 12And that was as good as it was going to get because then the memory card on my camera was full and I’m pretty sure Happy Baby got a pumpkin stem in his eye.

Ahhh… Who needs perfect photos when these ones are so much more entertaining?

Of course as soon as we got in the car the Happy Baby said with an enormous grin,

“Pumpkin Patch?  Again????!?!?!”

Did you get the ‘perfect’ pumpkin patch shot this year with your Happy Home?

Happy {{early}} Halloween!  Don’t forget to add these FREE Printable Witnessing Stickers to your Halloween candy!  And you might want to try some Trick or Treat Practice before you head out tomorrow! :-)

- Julie

Why We Say Grace

why we say grace at happyhomefairy.comWhen the Happy Buddy was born I was completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for a HUMAN.

There were ridiculous amounts of what I thought were life or death decisions to make.

I would go online to try to find information about how to best care for my baby and I would end up walking away from the computer ready to take a Valium.

A simple Google search brought me tons of articles about the atrocities of GMOs, the shocking truth about pesticides and the Dirty Dozen, the ever-evolving conversation about carbs are bad vs. good, why diapers could cause cancer, how Johnson and Johnson corporation is run by the devil himself, why breastfeeding and making homemade baby food is the ONLY WAY, photos of kids happily guzzling green smoothies, and detailed horrific videos about where our grocery-store meat and milk actually come from.

The pressure these ‘voices’ put on me to do the perfect right thing for my kid was a very large burden in my life.

And I am already a bad combination of Perfectionist and Person-who-used-to-have-an-eating-disorder, so the level of fear and expectations I had going was kind of nuts.

I found myself frequently wishing that I was an Israelite who never had to wonder if manna had antibiotics in it.

Then one day I was hanging out at my in-laws’ house and was feeling quite depressed that I wasn’t doing what I thought was a good job of feeding my family.  I think that one of my friends had just started grinding her own wheat for bread and making her own yogurt and was also considering buying a cow for her condo and suddenly the Publix-brand sliced whole wheat bread and vanilla yogurt from the tub I bought seemed insufficient and downright toxic.

Seeing my despair, you know what my father-in-law said to me?

He put his hands on my shoulder and said this,

“Julie.  Everyone is going to die one day.  GOD knows that date and what you feed or don’t feed your family is not going to change that date.  You do the best you can to eat a balanced diet, and then you trust that when you pray before a meal – He hears it.  He is in control.  He loves you.  The end.”

I guess somewhere along the way I had gotten the idea that what I did or didn’t put into my child’s body (or my own body, for that matter) was going to determine his future health.

Like he’d become terminally ill if he didn’t have organic this or straight-from-the-cow’s-udder that AND IT WOULD BE ALL MY FAULT.

But my father-in-law’s words opened my eyes to an aspect of faith and trust in God that I had let go of in my quest of what I perceived to be the ‘perfect’ mom, wife, and homemaker.

God will not say to us when we get to heaven, “Did you grind wheat for your child’s sandwich bread?”

God cares about the condition of our hearts.

When my heart gets filled up with fear about things like the pesticides and refined flours in this world, I am no longer trusting Him.

Most of the time, we cannot afford to buy organic meat.  So I am learning to buy the regular kind, prepare it faithfully and lovingly for my sweet family, and then when we hold hands around the table and say grace, pray that God will have the final say on how that meat is processed in our bodies.

Now, hear me out.  I am NOT saying you should just scrap everything, buy KFC every night and think that grace will cover all the blocked arteries you have coming in about 10 years.

No, we still need to be responsible.  We need to make good decisions for our families and feed them the best we know how.  We need to strive for balance in our eating.  We can learn to listen to His voice if we think He is calling us to try something new (like making bread from scratch, cutting back on processed foods, exploring Paleo, or the Mediterranean Diet, or finding the best menu options for an ill child’s struggling digestive system – like Happy Buddy had to go mostly dairy free after THIS happened and I was having a ton of tummy trouble awhile back, so gluten free helped me get back on track).

But we cannot get into the idol of thinking that WE carry the burden of our loved one’s or our own health for the rest of life on this earth.

Because what happens when you see things on the news like those bags of organic frozen berries from Costco that made 119 people sick with Hepatitis A?

Or what happens when you hear of a bunch of people who were enjoying some spinach (SPINACH, for crying out loud) and ended up with E. Coli?

Or what happens when you take all-natural pre-natal vitamins and eat 98% organic food during your pregnancy and your child is born with life-threatening health issues and has to stay in the hospital for 96 days?

Are we going to shake our fist at God and get angry at Him because we thought we were doing everything ‘right’???

Our world is BROKEN, dear ones.

BROKEN.

The point is, eating (like driving a car, getting on an airplane, and pretty much everything else) is an act of faith.  We could eat as ‘clean’ as we possibly could and there would STILL be disease and sickness.

At the end of the day, our job is just to do our best to be good stewards of the body Christ has given us (and those of our children) – the bodies that Christ died for – and then we allow GRACE to fill in the gaps.

Remember, whenever Jesus sat down to eat, He gave thanks to His Father.

He acknowledged the Giver of ‘daily bread.’

How awful would it have been if the people on the hillside said to Jesus as He passed out miraculously multiplied loaves of bread and fish, “Does that bread have gluten in it?” or “Does that fish have mercury contamination?”

Instead, they were thankful.

So when you sit down as a family to eat peanut butter sandwiches on store bought bread, don’t forget to bow your heads, close your eyes and truly give thanks.

He’s got this.

The whole baking your own bread works for some super amazing people.

But this mama prefers to buy hers at the store.

I’d rather use the time I’m not kneading dough to blog. :-)

- Julie

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29-31 (NLT)

We Win In the End

happy babyThe Happy Baby was freeeeeaking out the other day because he lost his favorite DVD and as his cries escalated into hysteria I found myself frantically searching the house and praying, “Oh, Lord please help me to find my boy’s lost DVD!”

And then I was immediately plagued by this thought -

“How can you pray about something so silly? There are women in parts of the world whose children are being beheaded.”

I get grumpy because I have to wake up early and make lunches for school…

“But what about these women and children in Iraq??!”

I fuss about the tornado-like state our house is constantly in…

“But what about these women and children in Iraq??!”

I find myself longing for that cute lamp I saw at Target.

“But what about these women and children in Iraq??!”

Lately it seems like there is pain and evil and tragedy and darkness growing in leaps and bounds across the world.

These horrific events that pour out from every channel and website make me feel so unsettled and I find myself wondering why is God letting this stuff happen and what is my place in the midst of it?

Then the Holy Spirit whispers across my soul…

Read my Word.

And instead of spending so much time glued to the news channel filling my head with more things to fear, He invites me to spend time filling my head with Truth.

Light to obliterate darkness.

As I read, I am reminded that this wickedness we are hearing about in the news, it really isn’t anything new.

happy baby 2At the time of Moses’ birth, hundreds of Israelite babies were thrown into the river at the hand of an unrelenting and proud Pharaoh.

Then again when Jesus was born we read about the hundreds of baby boys under the age of 2 who died at the hand of jealous King Herod.

No, this evil – it’s not new.

And while I do not know the pain of losing a child to a heartless, wicked act, I vividly recall the feeling of watching my child suffer.

The night that we walked in and saw our child looking like this, I remember the gasp – the sob that racked my body and made me physically lean into my husband.

We watched in horror as a machine pumped hard and steady blasts of air into our tiny baby’s lungs.

I remember feeling so troubled by the way the machine pressed his nose upward – almost like a pig’s – and how the nurse casually said it might get stuck that way.

It was torture – to me.  And to him, no doubt.

But that same evening the elders and deacons and pastors of our church were coming to pray for us.

So I stumbled from the room, anxious to go but yet longing to never leave my baby’s side, and the hubs and I headed toward the hospital’s conference room.

And as we walked down a long, cold corridor feeling utterly defeated and without hope, there was a sudden shift in the air.

I raised my head and saw about 20 men – tall and strong – walking in our direction.

It was like an army of God’s angels were making their way toward our desperate, thirsty souls – their presence alone tangibly redirecting the downward spiral of my weak and weary flesh.

While we did not receive an immediate miracle that night, nor were specific prayers answered in an instant, our spirits were reminded that we were not alone in the battle.

And that the battle we were fighting alongside our little baby was a battle already won.

Because He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).

That same power that conquered the grave was the same power with us in that NICU room.  A power that filled us with confident hope that God was, indeed, doing something in the midst of the CPAPs and chemotherapy treatments and feeding tubes and misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis.

Just as He was doing something in the midst of all the lost lives of innocent Hebrew babies -

God was raising up a deliverer named Moses.

Just as He was doing something in the midst of the deaths of all those innocent boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity -

God was raising up a once-and-for-all Deliverer named JESUS.

first day photo 2The enemy is doing what he does best – deceiving, confusing, hurting, destroying and making it seem like all hope is lost.

But his acts of cruelty WILL NOT destroy or interfere with the greater picture – the Greater Power that is at work.

Because He is a Father, after all.

The feeling of compassion and desire to help my boy find his lost DVD – the hurt and agony I felt with him in the NICU – on a small scale, is reflective of the way our Lord is stirred when ANY ONE of His children suffers.

first day photoSo, dear readers, let’s put one foot in front of the other, faithfully carrying out the duties He has called us to at this time – in this season (like searching for lost DVDs and making lunches and raising little warriors of Light and Truth and possibly staying away from Target for a little bit). :-)

And while we are doing these things, let’s pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters – pray for our broken, messy world.

Then let’s rise as Moses’ mother, who during a time of great uncertainty bravely trusted in God’s power.

Let’s rise as Mary and Joseph who chose to listen carefully for direction from the voice of the Lord rather than panic about the disturbing events around them.

And let’s remember that the battle is already won.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1 (NIV)

My Free Babysitters Are Leaving

SONY DSCOh, I kid.

(Well, kind of.)

:-)

But it’s true.

My parents are moving to Georgia.

Right now I am doing a great job of stuffing my feelings on the matter wayyyyy down deep.

I’m sure that sometime soon there will be a volcanic eruption of emotional chaos that might involve ugly crying, fist pounding, binge-eating… lots of fodder for a therapy session.

But for now I am trying to stay strong and civil for the sake of those around me (and because I can’t afford a therapist).

Ha!

In light of their departure, I thought I would share a few things about these important and precious people in my life.

Last summer the hubs was away taking classes at a seminary in St. Louis for 2 weeks.

While he was gone, I managed to find myself in a state of utter panic because my head was abnormally itchy.

Of course I convinced myself over a period of several hours and frantic Google searching that I had lice and even found the ‘nits’ to prove it.

This is what happens when my level-headed, un-fearing husband is not around to help me tame my inner beast of anxiety.

I called my mom at 10 o’clock at night completely undone by the fact that I probably had a scalp full of bugs and was threatening to torch every surface in my house that had potentially come into contact with my infected head.

I may have even said things including (but not limited to),

“THIS WORLD IS TOO DANGEROUS FOR MEEE!”

“IF THE BOYS GET LICE I’LL JUST DIEEEEEE!!!!”

“I CAN’T GO ONNNNN!!!!!”

My mom somehow talked me off the ledge and offered to drive out with my dad to take a look through my hair.

At this point it was almost 10:30.

But they came anyway.

My mom wasn’t afraid to touch the bugs and my dad offered to run out and get me some dandruff reducing shampoo at the local 24-hour pharmacy.

Because that’s all it ended up being.

Just some dry, itchy scalp.

And for some reason this whole story has become one of my favorite memories of my parents.

Maybe it’s because it accurately sums up the whole Parenting gig:

Even when your child is 30 years old – you are still obligated to check their head for lice.

:-)

In all honesty, though, being a parent is a never-ending job that often calls on you at random times of the day or night to be there for your kids – especially when they’re adults.

Like maybe the Holy Spirit wakes you up for a middle of the night prayer session on behalf of your child.

Or maybe you know your daughter could use a therapy trip to Target to buy new underwear or shoes.

Or maybe when you stop by to see the grandkids you bring a roll of paper towels or toilet paper just because.

Or maybe you wash the dishes while your daughter and her hubby are on a date.

Or maybe you help them paint the nursery (and the master bedroom, and the porch, and the dining room…).

Or maybe you show up at your daughter’s speaking events even when you have a full time job.

Or maybe you take your daughter to see that new chick flick her hubby refuses to be subjected to.

Or maybe you pick up a Costco rotisserie for her whenever you’re there shopping.

Or maybe you take the kids for the day because you know your daughter needs to get some extra sleep (or simply stare at a wall for 3 hours without interruptions).

Or maybe you put an encouraging note on your daughter’s pillow one day when you are over.

Or maybe you mow the lawn for her when her husband is out of town.

Or maybe you drive down to the church at 10 pm to help your daughter finish decorating for an event.

Or maybe you accompany your daughter at the school’s talent show.

Or maybe you build closet shelves for her.

Or maybe you help tighten the teeny tiny screws on your daughter’s glasses whenever she comes over.

Or maybe you host sleepovers for them when her hubby is on the church men’s retreat.

Or maybe you replace the burned out light in the garage.

Or maybe you come over to clean the house and dust the ceiling fan blades when your daughter is 400 pounds and 42 weeks pregnant and can’t move.

Or maybe you go with her on a trip to Ikea just because it is safer for everyone involved that a 2nd adult be present.

Or maybe you give really great bear hugs when things are hard and there just aren’t any words.

Or maybe you arrange a trip to Disney for your daughter and her husband using your timeshare points and you watch their kids.

Or maybe you have an awesome paper shredder and offer to shred all of your daughter’s old documents that are taking up 13 bins in the garage.

Or maybe you’re there for birthdays, holidays, and Grandparent’s Day at the grandkids’ preschool.

Or maybe you drop off a new shirt from Macy’s on your daughter’s doorstep.

Or maybe there’s the Easter Dress Tradition.

Or maybe you take her to get a surprise manicure a few weeks after her NICU baby finally got to come home.

Or maybe you hear that the Toys R Us by her house is going out of business so you rush in time for the liquidation and buy 50 new things for the grandkids.

Or maybe you get tears in your eyes and tell your daughter how proud of her you are after she sang the solo at church.

Or maybe you brought a check by to help pay for your grandson’s swim lessons this month.

Or maybe you offer to babysit again.

And again.

And again.

And all the love and all the time and all the presents and presence you give your child gives her the strength and vision she needs to keep pressing forward in her own calling of parenthood.

That is what my parents do for me.

They show me how it’s done.

The feeling I get when they save the day – when they come to my house at 11 to check my hair for imaginary lice – that is the feeling I want to pass on to my own kids.

Mom, Dad…

Even though you won’t be 15 minutes away anymore, I know that a 10-hour drive won’t stop the love and inspiration you pour out on me and my family on a forever basis.

And there’s always FaceTime for the scalp checks.

:-)

Georgia – our loss is your enormous gain. <3

Love you so much and miss you already.

- Julie

“Let the Lord watch over us while we are separated from each other…” Genesis 31:49

Provisions

When we got back from this trip we were greeted by the squishing of our toes in the corner of our dining room carpet.

Somehow water had leaked into the house while we were away and soaked through the dining room carpet as well as part of our tiled pantry.

Personally, I preferred the squishing of my toes in the sand of the Bahama beaches, but whatever. :-)

The hubs pulled the carpet back and set up a fan and we thought we had it all figured out.

Until a few weeks later when I went in the pantry to pull out my craft bin and low and behold discovered a garden of mold growing.

This led to the discovery that the outside of our house had a bunch of cracks which led to the unveiling of more mold that stretched all along the left side of the kitchen which led to the ripping out of cabinets which led to the relocation of waffle makers and mixing bowls and utensil drawers which led to the entire pantry needing to be stored on the dining room table which led to my children thinking that our home was now a Grand Corral buffet open all day long which led to the realization that we had absolutely no money to fix anything which led to us contacting our insurance for help.

As much as the water damage and mold was a big pain, the prospect of getting some financial assistance to fix things up was kind of exciting.

So I did what anyone would do.

I started a board on Pinterest for a kitchen remodel.

I’ve always been pretty happy with our kitchen.  It’s old and it has some funny quirks, but they never bothered me.

That is, until I began pinning.

Then I became hopelessly troubled that I didn’t have granite countertops and 42″ cabinets.

Armed with the knowledge that our insurance adjustor was ‘busy working behind the scenes’ with the claims department, we visited Home Depot and started dreaming up our perfect kitchen.  I began praying that insurance would give us a specific amount so that I could get my granite countertops AND possibly throw in some updated appliances AND maybe have a bit left over to replace the carpets.

**You know, totally and completely not selfish prayers.**

7 weeks later and we received a call that our insurance would not be helping us.

Not one little bit.

And I found myself feeling kind of grumpy.

What about my beautiful new kitchen?  What about my stainless steel things?  What about my granite?

And the Lord whispered to my spirit,

“Insurance is not your provider.  I AM your provider.”

Talk about a swift kick to the knees.

I repented of my selfish prayers.  The ones that didn’t take into account all the people in the universe who live in homes with dirt floors and no kitchens AT ALL.

I thanked God for giving us all that we could ever ask for or need in Jesus Christ.

Then something amazing happened.

Over the next few days, a man at church approached my hubby and said that he felt the Lord telling him to help us fix the leaks on the outside of our house as well as help repaint the exterior.  Then another man approached the hubby and said he could help rebuild the damaged cabinets.  Then another man took care of all the mold.  Then a few friends showed up with casseroles.

Then a friend of my neighbor’s found out about my Summer Bucket List and told me she worked at Benjamin Moore and could give us paint for my beloved yellow front door.

And we found ourselves completely and utterly in awe of the Lord’s provision.

In reflection, I am so humbled by how quick I was to exalt money to a position that was equated with my happiness.  As if receiving a large sum of money would fulfill the deepest desires of my soul.

As if a double oven could even do that.

When I look around our home, I see my Father’s handprints. I see the dining table that my parents bought for us.  I see the bookshelves a dear friend in college gave to us as newlyweds.  I see the crib and changing table from a former student’s mom.  I see a playhouse from my mother-in-law.  I see a couch we bought for a steal because the manager felt moved to accept our offer.  I see a bed given to us from another friend.  I see a dresser that we found in the garbage.  I see the mirror that a friend bought for me as a happy gift when our baby was in the hospital.  I see the dresser that used to be my brother’s.  I see the piano given to us by a girl we knew at Florida State.  I see our bedroom furniture that belonged to my parents when they first got married.

Provisions.  Needs met.  Every single one with a story behind it.  A reminder of GOD’s faithful provision through precious, obedient people.

Like the Church as described in Acts 2.

That is the stuff that works itself into our souls.

So as we face these ‘trials’ – these fallen world problems – I’m trying to train myself to see things with eyes fixed on a different home.

A home that is way more perfect than any of the ones in Southern Living.

A home that won’t ever have settling cracks or mold or damaged cabinetry.

A home that is full of glorious riches far greater than a check from insurance.

A home that is eternally provided for us through the perfect work of Christ.

This perspective gives freedom to be patient while it looks like your kitchen vomited its contents all over the living room (going on week 8).  It gives peace in knowing that He sees what we need.  It gives overwhelming gratitude when needs are creatively met.

And it gives joy to be fully trusting in the One who knows best.

Which reminds me…  I picked out a color for our front door -

pure joyBenjamin Moore – Pure Joy #327.

:-)

- Julie

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 (NIV)