Sunday, December 26, 2010

Carrots for Christmas

Not like this:
Like this:

I want my kids to be motivated to finish their school work and do their chores.  But I don't want to pay them for every little thing, let them watch oodles of TV or play hours of video games in exchange.  So for Christmas I bought some carrots (in the form of board and card games) for my little donkeys. 

So far we've played these games: Loot, Sleeping Queens, Rat-A-Tat-Cat, Haba Animal Upon Animal Stacking Game, Wig Out!, and Too Many Monkeys.  All winners!  The only one that the kids were kind of meh about was Monza - by HABA.  My plan is to promise them 30 minutes of game time after each school day, when all chores are done.  (And some of the games will hone their math and reading skills - shhhh!)

So what are your favorite family games?  We have a few more new ones (thanks Grandpa Bill/Grandma Cindy and Grandma Jean/Grandpa Warren!) to try, but we love hearing about new ones.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Part two

So I was mulling around about my last post as I tried to sleep last night (Philip had taken the five older kids on a camp out, so it was just me and Leah around here.  And I never sleep well when Philip is gone).  And I realized that the dancing lady at church doesn't have a testimony any more dramatic than my own.

Maybe in the world's eyes her deliverance seems more profound, but in truth, we are all miraculously ransomed back from Hell if we have chosen to become His disciple.

She just "gets it" more than most of us do.  Because we have deluded ourselves.  We have created a man-made hierarchy of sin that allows us to say one person's hellhole was worse than another.  That one of us more desperately needed God than the other.

But the fact is, we were all depraved.  We were enemies of God.  Apart from His hand of redemption, there is no good thing in us.

I'm reading an interesting book: Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.  I'm only a few chapters in (I've heard that it becomes more controversial later, so I can't endorse the whole thing yet), but I wholeheartedly agree with his depiction of our condition before God and his indictment of American Christianity.  He writes, "You are an enemy of God, dead in your sin, and in your present state of rebellion, you are not even able to see that you need life, much less cause yourself to come to life."

We want a self-help Christianity.  We want salvation on our terms.  I've heard so many altar calls that shill Jesus as "the man with the answers who can make your life better."  But that is NOT Biblical.  The Bible says that we can expect persecution as we follow Christ, and that being refined and made into the image of the Son can be painful.  The Word says that anyone who is considering following Him must count the cost (all that you are/have) before making the decision.

But we have cooked up a milquetoast Jesus and a watered down Gospel.  Walk into any Christian book store and you will see smiling "evangelists" on book covers declaring how Jesus has a great plan for you, and that if you just follow 8 easy steps your life and afterlife will be hunky dory.

I'm not denying that He has an amazing plan for each of us.  I am floored when I realize that God created me, amongst the billions on this planet, and prepared a destiny for me. 

But that is not the meat of the Gospel.  That is the icing on the cake.  The truly amazing thing is that while I was dead in my sin, He rescued me.  He came down and bore the just wrath of the Father for my sin before I even took my first breath. 

And that's what the dancing lady at my church realizes.  Her eyes are clearly open to her own sin and the extravagant grace that has been poured out upon her.  I pray my eyes can be just as open.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


So there's a lady at my church that I'm always a little bit embarrassed for.

She's a little too loud.  And a little too flamboyant.  And dresses a little too young for her age.  And she praises a little off key and "amen"s a little too often and dances a little crazy.

And I always kind of wanted to shush her.

Until I heard her story.

How she was deeply addicted to drugs.  And sold her body to buy them.  And was estranged from her children.  And how she nearly died in her pit.

Until she was amazingly, completely, totally delivered by God.  How He drew her from the miry clay and set her feet upon a rock.

And I felt like Michal.  Who was ashamed of David when he danced before the Lord as they returned the Ark to Jerusalem.  And was barren.

And I repented and asked God to forgive me and not let me be barren in spirit because I was ashamed of someone else's joy and abandon before the Lord.  

Hopefully I've learned my lesson, but I know that tendency is always there.  To be critical of others because I am secretly jealous.  Because I wish I could be that free in worship.  I wish I could dance and not be concerned about what those around me think.  But I always hold back.

Maybe when I'm old and gray I'll feel free to be the crazy lady who sings too loud because she knows the pit her Savior has drawn her from.  But I really hope that day comes much sooner.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How did I not know about these things?

So, I hate to shop.  Really.

Philip will say, "Let's go to the mall."

And I'm all, "Why?  What do we need to buy there?"

And he's like, "Nothing, I just want to look around."


Seriously.  Hate.  Shopping.

So I do most of mine online.  It allows me to combine two things I love: sitting on my butt and getting mail.

Well, apparently I've been missing out.  My sister Emily told me yesterday about  I could have been earning a quarterly rebate check for the things I buy anyway.

So, if you, like me, have been missing out on this cold, hard cash, just follow this link and sign up.  It's wicked easy.  Just go to the site and pick your store when you are ready to shop online.  Shop like you normally do.  Then get a check in the mail 4 times per year. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Another site I really like is Mamapedia.  They have national daily deal and specific deals for your part of the country.  Today I scored a 2 yr subscription to Family Fun magazine for only $10.  Sweet gig, no?

More real blogging to follow when the kids are in bed, but I didn't know about this and wanted to save y'all some bucks!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


We live in a strange world with skewed priorities.

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day about our hopes and dreams for our kids.  She was telling me how she hoped her children did well in school, went to good colleges, got great jobs and were happy.  Which all sounds great.  I mean, what kind of mom wouldn't want those things for her kids?  We all want our kids to be happy and successful, right?

Except I wonder what gauge we are using to measure success - the world's or our Father's?  Because I never see good grades as a prerequisite for godliness.  I've never read that making money or getting an education are things we are called to.  There is nothing wrong with getting a college education, to be sure.  But are we insisting on measuring our children against the world's yardstick when we elevate book learning?

One hundred years ago a man could be a success without knowing much more than reading and writing.  He could farm the land, love his kids and wife and serve his God and be considered a success.  Because character and reputation were more important than money or knowledge (the Good Book says knowledge puffs up, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom).

But now we have added requirements for success.  Standards that only suit a certain type of child, but are applied across the board.

I have one daughter who will be successful on the world's terms.  Susannah loves to read, loves to write and loves to study.  She's friendly and outgoing and easy.

And I have at least two kids who are quirky.  Reading is not coming easily to them.  They are kind and sweet and wildly creative.  Nate loves stories and knows far more about history than most boys his age.  Abigail is constantly making some new craft or invention to brighten our lives.

And I am saddened to know that if I hold them to the world's standards of success, they may fail to measure up.  They may never have the 4.0 GPA.

But I can hold them to the Father's standards.  I can teach them to follow Him wholeheartedly.  To love people with His love and serve others.  I can teach them to measure their success by their relationship to their Maker instead of on the false scales of academic achievement.

And if I can do that, I will have succeeded.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Make-it Monday: Sausage, beans and rice

I made the most delicious meal tonight.  Of course, my kids turned their noses up at it and told me it looked like snail slime.  But hey, more for me!

Sausage, beans and rice

1 lb pork sausage (I used Whole Foods brand garlic and cracked pepper sausage)
2 cans kidney beans (red or white)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups brown rice (I like brown jasmine)
4 cups water
1 tsp salt

Cut sausage into bite sized pieces. Brown in pan and drain.

Pour 2 cans beans into colander and rinse well. (This keeps you from being so gassy!). Add to crockpot or baking dish. Mix in chicken broth/stock, onion powder, garlic powder, and sausage. Cook in crockpot on low or oven on 200 for 6 hrs.

Cook brown rice with salt and water - I use a rice cooker as I always seem to burn it on the stove.

Add salt and pepper to the sausage/beans to taste. Spoon over rice and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

This is also delicious with spinach or kale mixed in. 

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

If you don't have anything to say.....

Abigail is a real chatty Cathy.  Last night she was lying on the bed next to me running her mouth nonstop.  All sorts of randomness.  Suddenly she stopped and looked at my quizzically.  "Mama," she said, "I just love to talk.  Sometimes I don't have anything to say.  But I really just love talking."

After laughing my head off (which irritated the crap out of her - she is very sensitive to anyone laughing *at* her), I had a talk with her.  About how even though I love to hear her voice, especially when she sings, I also enjoy quiet.  And when  we are constantly running our lips we cannot hear what others are saying.

Even God.

Because sometimes I am so busy rattling off my laundry list (why it is called a laundry list anyway?  Who actually has a laundry list?) of prayer requests that I don't shut my pie hole and just listen to God.  I love to talk so I miss out on real conversation.  And I wonder why I walk away and I'm not changed.

Maybe I need a dose of my own "shut up for a second" medicine.