Grateful for those who see the good.
Monday, December 10, 2012

When you know someone well, you get to choose: You can choose to see the good, or you can choose to focus on the ugly.

People who know us well get many, many chances to decide which side of us they will remember.  Jonathan and I are just like anyone else; when we develop a close friendship with people, inevitably they get to see all our sides.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  We can put on our best face for a little while...but when you live real life with people for long, the real you has a way of showing up.

I am so grateful for our friendship with Matthew and Emily Hart.  Grateful that they knew us long enough and well enough to see us snap at each other...raise our voices at our kids in frustation...roll our eyes and complain immaturely about things in ministry that annoy us.  And yet...they choose to see the good.

We met Emily and Matthew when we first moved to Lubbock.  They were just young 20 somethings, dating and dreaming of a future together.  Jonathan had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony.  We celebrated with them as they started their family, having two of the prettiest little girls you've ever seen.  We worked with them in ministry, and watched them love children and pour their lives into kids; ours included.  They were there when our oldest was baptized, celebrating with us and praying powerful prayers over his life.

That's why it was so special to me when they gifted us with these beautiful, personally designed and created canvases when we moved to Georgia.  They chose to see the good.  I'm sure that over the years there were offenses rendered and times we weren't there for them as much as we could be.  But they celebrated the good they saw in us and the positive things we brought into their lives.  What a gift.  Thank you Lord.

They designed these signs for us and gave them to us along with beautiful letters, detailing why they chose these specific words, and explaining the ways we had played these roles in their lives.

Every day I see my canvas and think "I can be those things for someone today.  I get to choose."

This couple will always be super special to us.  Plans are in the works to get them out to Athens for a visit.  Can't wait!

Beautiful Harts!


people change.
Monday, January 23, 2012

people change.

It's inevitable.  We all change.  Hopefully in good ways but probably in some bad ones too.

Jonathan just shakes his head in silent wonder when I craft or sew or read internet tutorials on how to bring a dirty cookie sheet back to it's original shiny glory...because that is NOT the woman he married.  Indeed, 10 years ago I counted Martha Stewart as one of the most ridiculous people on the planet; now I admit to having watched a tutorial or seventy on her website.

I think those are good changes.

I have changed in ways that might be bad too.  I'm bolder, and quicker to speak my mind.  (Good and bad.) I'm more likely to hold grudges.  (Am I getting crankier as I age?  Working on that!)  I have accepted that some things about me will never change, that probably should change.  Acceptance can be good; acceptance of faults that need to change, that's maybe not so good. (My bed is currently piled halfway to the ceiling with laundry.) (We have 10 foot ceilings and I was being literal.) (I'm kinda nonchalant about the pile of laundry.)  (I'm pretty much okay with it actually. It's our normal.)

He's changed too.  For the sake of marital bliss, I'll stick with the good ways.  I can really only think of good ways:

He's slower to judge people.  He's quicker to say Thank You and I love you; to everyone, not just me.  He never says a word when he's forced to sift through the dryer for clean socks; manages to do it pleasantly in fact.  He sees some things in gray and not always in black and white; I think that's a good thing.  He speaks his mind but it's with less abruptness and more gentleness.  He's quick to offer a sincere apology.  He's an even better speaker and preacher, and he's always been my very favorite.

So people change. I think young love birds would do well to know that the person they marry will not be the person they are living with some 15 years later.  But the fun part is that you get to be a big part of shaping that change, you get to see prayers answers (just keep praying), and you get to enjoy watching a person become who they were created to be.


thinking about small moments
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'd love for you to check out my post today on Prize31:  small moments and spilled syrup

Join the conversation this month as all the Prize31 authors talk about purpose!

(That always feels like a word with a lot of weight to me, like it should be typed as PURPOSE. and imagined in your head with a resounding echo. If that word makes you cringe a little because you're not sure you've even figured it out, let alone are living it out, click on over and enjoy the posts this month! You are not alone.)


the rectangle
Sunday, December 18, 2011

A few Sundays ago, I did an activity with my small group (I hang out with the 3rd grade boys before and after Trinity Kidsplace large group service) that has stayed on my mind and heart these last few weeks.

I put a different name tag on each of the boys:

"Hello, my name is__________" tags, that we then labeled with all the things the boys' said that they loved to do.  Hello, my name is Wii.  Hello, my name is skateboarding.  Hello, my name is... Reading Books.  Art.  Play Station.  Television.  Bike-riding.  Playing with friends. Football.  Swimming.  XBox. Each boy got a label representing an activity.

I drew a rectangle on the ground with painter's tape, and explained that the rectangle represented the 24 hours each of us have in a day. Then I started putting boys in the rectangle.  Wii went in.  Skateboarding went in.  Television. Books.  Friends.  It was getting crowded, but I kept shoving them in the rectangle.  Bike-riding, playstation.  This was getting messy.  Not much room left in the rectangle now.   With some effort, the boys squeezed together to cram in Football, and that was it.  No room left.

Then I introduced a boy who had been given a tag that said "Hello, my name is Jesus."  Except...he wouldn't fit in the rectangle.  There was no way, with all the other stuff happening in that rectangle, that there was room for Jesus.

I had all the boys exit the rectangle and sit down, and we put Jesus in the rectangle first.  Then Jesus got to decide who else could join him.  We had a good talk about how we must make Jesus - praying to Him, and reading his Word - take first priority, and then let Him control the hours we're given.  Some of the kids acted surprised that Jesus asked Wii and Skateboarding to join him in the rectangle, so we had a good talk about having fun while honoring God, and how every good gift comes from Him.  (These unexpected conversations about the character and nature of God are my favorite!)

I've thought a lot since that Sunday about my rectangle and the things that crowd out Jesus.  "Hello, my name is...." Housework. Television.  Books. Cooking. Friends. Vanity.  Time spent cleaning the kitchen counter for the 15th time, watching a mindless sitcom, texting a friend a random story, spending too much time blow drying my hair and carefully applying make-up, and just like that the routine of a normal day can leave no room for Jesus.  He gets squeezed out of my rectangle more often that I'd like to admit.

What I've learned by experience but haven't fully embraced in practice, is that when I make Jesus priority - when He is the first thing allowed in my rectangle - then supernaturally the rectangle this is my day seems to expand, making room for everything else that must be done.  Except that it's not a place of chaos, with all the demands pushing and shoving to make room, it's a place of peace with plenty of time and space for all that He asks of me.

Thanks 3rd grade boys, for helping me learn a lesson, and thanks 252basics for great curriculum that teaches the teacher!


best foot forward
Friday, October 28, 2011

Growing up, I was concerned with being "the best."  Or at least "among the best."  Which was good in some ways - if I had a test, I studied.  If I had a performance, I practiced. Constantly.  If I had an interview, for a job or college scholarship, I looked up practice questions and practiced my answers in front of a mirror. (I haven't had a job interview in a while....but I might still do that when the time comes.  I have performance issues.)

It was good to want to do my best.  But it did have an ugly side.

If I couldn't be among the best at something, I didn't do it.  Period. Didn't even make an attempt. I never played an organized sport.  I never even considered cheerleading, even in early elementary school when all my friends were doing it.  I never took a dance class.  In High School I never took any advanced math or science courses that challenged me and might result in a grade less than an "A".  In doing so, I didn't experience the growth that comes with failure, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities.  There were careers that seemed interesting to me, but I wouldn't even consider pursuing as a college major, given that I might have to take classes that were too challenging.  

All that boring back story is to say that I see the same irrational fear of failure starting to sprout up in small ways in my kids.  And I want them to be braver than I was! Much braver.  And so...I take a deep breath and I let them see me attempting things that often result in "failure." 

When they ask, I try and draw a picture of an alligator fighting a monkey, even though I know it won't resemble anything close.

I dance around during our family jam sessions, (with the blinds tightly closed) even though I look like an idiot have virtually no moves.  

I play racing games on the Wii even though I have no chance of winning.  That one stings a little.  

I play kickball in the backyard even though my 6 year old is better at kicking than I am.  

I tried to boogie-board at the beach and nearly broke my tailbone when the waves immediately pushed me off and under.  I am not graceful flailing in the waves, but at least my kids saw me try!  

I hope, in all my small attempts to do something hard for me, that they are getting a message that it's okay to look like an idiot sometimes.  It's okay to be brave and try something that you might not ever be "the best" at doing.  I want them to get out there and have adventures and fail and maybe a make a "C" in a class or two.  If it's hard-earned "C"in chemistry, I'll be more proud than the "A" in English that comes so easy to them. (Okay, that's me projecting my own regrets...but I'm sure they'll have their own examples!)

So to my fellow moms with the same gotta-be-the-best-and-can't-look-like-an-idiot-issues ----- Be brave today.  Let your kids see you flop around ungracefully and fail at something.  Give them courage.


that nasty green-eyed monster
Saturday, October 22, 2011

Comparison is an ugly game.  It steals confidence and creates instability.  
Judging my life based on the lives of others makes me feel a bit schizophrenic:  I can't even decide from one week to the next whose life I should be jealous of....

Sometimes I look with jealousy upon the full-time stay at home mom, who can devote all her energy to the home and family.
Sometimes I look with jealousy on the full-time working mom, who makes a nice paycheck and puts her college degree to it's best use.
Then I remember that my part-time mom/part-time professional life is an incredible gift, and to live it with excellence I have to do so without comparing myself to anyone.

Sometimes I look with jealousy on my tall, thin friends, who can wear the lasest styles and look amazing while doing so.
Sometimes I look with jealousy on my friends who do not meet the standards of "beauty" that the fashion magazines foist upon us, but they nevertheless exude a confidence that makes them truly, truly beautiful.
Then I remember that it's me -- my 5 foot 4 inch self -- that my husband loves and finds beautiful, and to speak or think ill of myself is an insult to him and to my Maker.

There are days that I wish for an exciting, bigger-than-life personality that exudes passion and joy and is always the life of the party.
There are other days that I so long for a calm, humble and quiet spirit that exudes peace and wisdom.
Then I finally remember to be grateful that God has made my personality somewhere in the middle, and allowed me to be a good friend to many who operate in either extreme.

Envy is nasty.  It destroys gratitude, and creates a hardened and unthankful heart toward the plan God has for my life.  That green-eyed monster of jealousy has no place in the life of this woman loved by God!

How about you?  Jealousy ever rear it's ugly head in your life? 


tossed around
Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Feeling a bit unsettled?  Emotionally tossed around?  Me too.

Have things that you're praying for, but you've prayed those same prayers for so long you're not even sure if you mean them anymore?  Me too.

Love a person who is making choices that worry you?  So you pray for them... but then still worry?  Me too.

I'm asking the Lord for greater faith in my prayer life.  I'm tired of being tossed around.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:5

Ask and not doubt.  Uh-huh James, you make it sound so easy.  Just ask in faith with no doubting!  Hmph and hmph. That's how I feel about you today, Sir James.  Praise you God for including Mark 9:23-24 in the stories You've given us:

And Jesus said to him..."All things are possible for one who believes."Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"

I believe.  Help my unbelief.

I believe you are able to melt hardened hearts.  I believe you are able to draw people to yourself.  I believe you are near the broken-hearted.  I believe you have a plan for the most screwed up of lives. I believe you are writing a story of redemption even if the pages seem blank right now.  I believe you grant hope and peace beyond understanding.

"I believe Lord!  Help my unbelief!"

He answers that prayer.  Me and that dad in Mark who also cried out for help, we know for sure.  He answers that prayer.


On Being a Foster Mom part 2
Friday, April 8, 2011

Love is not self-seeking. 
                            1 Corinthians 13:5

That's what Father God whispers to me when it seems too hard.  When it seems like my heart won't possibly be able to take it.  When I think that I will never, ever be able to cope when it comes time for this foster child to be taken out of my home and given back to his parents, or to whomever he'll go to next.

When I start to feel that heaviness in my chest, and worry that the heartache of that experience -  of "giving him back" - that it will be too great a burden to put on my family, then Father God drops this verse in my heart again.  Love is not self-seeking.  And I know that this journey that He's called us to won't be free of pain....but simultaneously feel such conviction that living to ensure the absence of pain in my life is not the life I want to live.  And so we choose love and the likelihood of pain over self-protection.

I know this isn't the answer He would give everyone with that fear; that question that I'm asked nearly daily, "How will you ever give them back?"  But for me, this is the answer that He brings loud and clear: Love is not self-seeking.

There are foster children in this city that need love.  No one questions that fact.  To be able to provide that love, but then refuse it because "it will hurt me when I have to give him back", would be choosing to protect my own heart at the expense of withholding love from a child.  Choosing "me" over "them."  For me, to continue to say "I can't foster because I wouldn't be able to handle giving them back", meant I was knowingly and willingly seeking my own self-protection over offering love and hope to a child.   God changed my paradigm, and every time I tried to utter the words, "it would just be too hard to give them back", my heart translated those words to "making sure I don't feel hurt or pain is so very important to me, that I will not love these children."  And that refrain of "it would just hurt me too much" when uttered from my mouth, started to sicken me.  

I choose to love without regard for self.  I do it badly sometimes, with moments of self-pity and fear and worry.  But I forge ahead in my imperfection, and ask God to show me how to love like He does.  I ask Him to help me trust that He will be my comforter and friend in those times of pain.  I worry, "Is this too much of a burden for my children?  Is this unfair?  To let them love and care deeply for a foster child, then experience the pain of no longer having them?"  But I give those worries to Him and trust that He will use this time to teach my children from a very young age that He is a God of comfort and peace that passes understanding.  I pray my children will know that love is always the best choice, even if it hurts.  



One-sided relationships stink.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm writing about them today on Prize31.  

"Have you ever had a great relationship with a friend or family member….except for the rather disheartening fact that all the responsibility for maintaining that relationship falls on you?" (click here to continue reading....)


Resolutions for just today
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today I Will

savor my coffee
make sure I'm not the first one to release hugs
tell the kids to do their chores with a smile on my face
read my Bible
remember that kindness is the best response
pray for my leaders
read a few chapters of Little Women
refuse to pick up offenses
teach my five year old to fold and put away her own PJ's, socks, and underwear
be thankful for the things I do well
take a break from worry over the things I don't do well

I think it's going to be a good day.

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Faith Without Works is Dead
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Back on July 30th, my 20 year old brother-in-law posted this as his facebook update:

Thus began his 9 day journey as a medical-missionary to Bolivia.  It was an amazing trip that brought more opportunities than he could have imagined.  He has started to chronicle the trip here:  Stephen in College

Stephen's aspiration to become a Doctor comes from a desire to use his skills and credentials as an avenue to minister to hurting people, offering them hope and healing both physical and spiritual. I don't think the trappings of this world - the big house and nice car and right neighborhood - play a big role in his desire to have the letters M.D. following his name. (Although come on, "Dr. Stephen Cliff" does have a nice ring to it, am I right?)

I personally hope he someday has all those things - the big house, nice car, and beautiful neighborhood - because I know he'll use those things to bless others and reflect God's goodness.  But I'm glad he took this trip to solidify that those things, all that "stuff", aren't the real reason God has called him on this journey.  I'm going to pray that the purpose and calling he felt while in Bolivia remain the compelling force to make it through medical school! I know he can do it.

(Have I mentioned he earned, like, the highest grade EVER on his Chemistry final at Oklahoma State University? I didn't?  Oh.  I was sure I had mentioned it....)

 Stephen, I'm not sure when you morphed from the cute little boy who amused and entertained me, to the young man who inspires me.  It happened fast.  I'm proud of you.



We're widening the circle.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This is a concept that Jonathan wrote about a few months ago, and it's something we're trying to be deliberate about making happen in our kids' lives. He wrote about it here: Widen the Circle.

I remember being about 10 or 11, and beginning to think adults were interesting. My own mom was great (one of the parents that most other kids envied in fact), and we had a good relationship, but there was just something about other people's parents I found intriguing.

I'm sure in my immaturity there was some aspect of wishing my mom would be more like other people's parents: Sara's mom let her shave her legs....Jacob's mom let him stay up late playing video games and had friends sleepover every night of the week...Jill's dad bought her jewelry every single holiday. Names changed to protect the innocent. But I bet my mom knows who I'm talking about! (Of course now that I'm a parent I understand why mom would want me to wait longer than age 9 to shave, and would want me in bed at a decent hour. Thanks Mom. But you could still buy me jewelry every holiday if you want.)

Knowing that this time will come, when our kids will start to look for advice and influence outside of what me and their Dad think, we'd like to be strategic about who we have in our life. And more than just having these people around on the periphery, we'd like to be deliberate about giving our kids the message "Hey, these people love you. And they aren't drifting through life. They live their life on purpose. They love God. There are things you can learn from them. Listen to them."

Of course they will still find people all on their own to look up to and try to emulate. But that's no reason why we can't try to guide them toward some good choices.

Ryan was baptized last Saturday night, and afterward we had a "post-baptism" celebration at our house. We invited his current and former leaders from church, as well as others who have loved him and been an affirming influence.

There were several reasons we wanted to have a party:

1. We just plain wanted to celebrate! We prayed over Ryan and celebrated what God is doing in his heart.

2. We wanted Ryan to be aware of the people God has put in his life to help point him toward Jesus. There is a debt of gratitude that is owed. Both to God and to His willing servants.

3. We wanted the people who have been in Ryan's life to know the profound impact they've had, and that we want them to continue making an impact!

Some people have influence because of their position; small group leaders and others in children's ministry at the church.

Others don't have an official "role", we've just noticed that for whatever reason they have Ryan's ear. Ryan wants to share his accomplishments with them, and he gives weight to the things they tell him. (Hi Greg and Cheri!) We want these friends to know the influence they carry, and to know we trust them with that.

Also importantly, some of these people are inherently way more cool than I could ever hope to be. Matthew and Emily are in their early 20's, energetic and exciting, and Ryan thinks every. single. thing. they do and say is awesome. Mr. Matt can tell Ryan the exact same thing I've told him, and sometimes it just sticks better if it comes from Mr. Matt. I think it helps that mixed in with the Godly wisdom and love, they can talk about video games.

My prayer is that as my kids grow, these people will be around to give them the same messages I'm giving, but in a different voice and from a different perspective.

Thank you Lord that in the short time we've lived in Lubbock, you've made us a part of a spiritual family. Thank you for these people who love and influence our kids toward loving You. Bless them Lord, and keep providing opportunities for authentic relationship.

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More Serious Thoughts from the Laundry Lady
Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The following thoughts are rolling around in my brain courtesy of a Bible study I'm currently in and highly recommend: Breaking Free

We all have hurtful situations in our past or present. Our hearts get bruised by loved ones we've lost, friends who we feel have betrayed us, abandonment we feel we've suffered.

If I serve a sovereign God who loves me, why would he let this hurt touch my life? I don't know that I will be able to fully answer that question until I'm in His arms in eternity, but here is what God is telling me until then:

"...though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:7

I used to read that verse thinking that the glory would come to Him when He was revealed in His return. But now I see that He is glorified and revealed anytime my faith proves genuine in the midst of trials.

So when a 1st grader in my small group class at church looks at me with tears in her eyes and says, "I miss my Daddy. He left without saying bye. I don't have a Daddy any more...", I can take that sweet baby in my arms, look in her eyes, and say "You know what? I don't have a Daddy either. But your Heavenly Father is the best and most wonderful Daddy you could ever wish for, and he'll never, ever leave you." - and her eyes light up with hope, and with wonderment that Ms. Starr somehow understands; in that moment, His glory is revealed.

I am certainly not yet in a place where I can look upon any suffering I go through with gladness, but I am beginning to slightly understand how Paul can say "Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed." 1 Peter 4:13

Help us use our hurts to glorify You, Lord!

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From Center Stage to Back Stage
Monday, July 23, 2007

The following post is long and cathartic for me, but likely boring to you.

In my previous life, before becoming the wife of a Children's Pastor, I spent a lot of time center stage. As a teenager I was very involved in choir and drama... in college I helped lead praise and worship at our church and
Campus Christian Fellowship...I've served in churches as the leader of drama teams and vocal teams...basically I felt right at home in the spotlight.

When Jonathan first started working as a Children's Pastor, we knew we wanted to work together as a team. I dove in head first and started teaching preschool classes, organizing Vacation Bible School, learning about crafts
(I had touched a glue stick less than 5 times before the age of 25), and generally being the all-around go to gal for anything dealing with preschoolers. That left no time for my previous pursuits on stage. WOW. I have learned so many hard and humbling lessons about myself.

I never realized how much I depended upon the "praises of men" until I stopped holding a microphone and started holding glitter and glue.

Ask anyone on a praise and worship team; after singing on stage, it's not uncommon to hear "Oh, that song was such a blessing!" or "Service was so great today. Praise and worship was so moving!" or even just a simple "Thank you so much. Great job today."

But when you work for 2 hours on a Sunday morning with 25 four year olds, the praises don't flow quite so freely. I'm not really angry or upset about this fact; I have never in my life gushed to a children's worker, "Oh Wow! What a fabulous job you did this morning! You are so talented! Praise God for your gift!" People don't "experience" children's ministry in the same way that the ministry of praise and worship is experienced. I get it.

However...after working with kids for a short time, I was shocked at my own need to be recognized for the job I was doing! After working so hard all week preparing a lesson, arriving at church early to set up my classroom, teaching a rowdy group of preschoolers, I began to get a little upset when there were days I didn't get so much as a "thank you" from anyone. My pride was revealed. "How can they just pick up their kid from my class without so much as a thank you? How can people leave me here with their child for half an hour after service while they chat with their friends? How can these parents never volunteer to help me when they can see that I'm dealing with 30 kids all by myself?"

The extent of my bitterness was revealed when I was asked to sing a special during a Sunday morning service. After I sang, people were lovingly complimentary. People were graciously saying things like "I was so blessed by that song; you are really talented." I accepted their praises with a smile, but inside I was screaming, "WHAT?!? I teach your kids every week for hours upon hours, and I've never gotten so much as a smile from you! All I did was sing a simple little song for three minutes -- working week after week with your kid is immeasurably harder!"

Then, slowly and ever so gently, the Holy Spirit started to reveal my heart to me. On more than one occasion I heard him ask "Why are you teaching this class? Is it for your glory, or for Mine?"

I realized that if I were truly teaching out of love for Jesus, because I desired to teach kids about living for His glory, then I could go my whole life without so much as a "Thank You" and be perfectly content, and even joyful.

Then I begin to wonder why I previously got so much joy out of leading praise and worship. Was it truly just because I loved serving God in that way? Or was it because I loved being recognized for my "gift"? I suppose now I must admit that it was some of both, although I never would have know it if not for my time spent out of the spotlight with preschoolers.

Vacation Bible School is happening at our church right now. There were several roles I could have played. If I had wanted, I probably could have signed up to lead praise and worship time. I decided instead to work in the craft room. God is still teaching me lessons back stage.

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From Generation to Generation
Monday, March 26, 2007

This is another installment of Serious Thoughts from the Laundry Lady. It is in every way directed toward myself, for if it were only directed toward others I would be seriously ignoring the huge plank protruding from my own eyeball.

I am the wife of a children's pastor, so obviously it's important to me that parents bring their children to church. But more and more it is grieving me that parents think they are doing all they need to for their children's spirituality if they simply bring them to church every time the doors are open. I can search and search scripture and never find an admonition to simply drag kids to church and dump them at the door of the children's wing.

So then what is required? If just "living right" and faithfully attending church is not quite enough, what is expected of me as I raise my children?

"One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts."
Psalm 145:4

"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."
Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Love God with everything I am...teach of His commands in every natural setting that my children and I walk through each day. This is so much more involved and relational than just bringing kids to church and asking on the way home "So whadya learn today?"

Indeed, at my church the Children's Pastor does a wonderful job of communicating the truths of God's word - in fact I would say there is not a better communicator to be found. (I might be a little biased in this opinion.) He makes God's word relevant and exciting, he gives the kids practical ways to walk out their faith, and he shares the ways that God has worked in his own life. However, his words can not possibly have the impact on a child that the words of a mother or father can have.

What is more powerful...

...a children's pastor teaching for one hour about God's provision, or a son hearing a father joyfully praise God that the bills have once again been paid?

...being told by a children's worker that God wants to give you the desires of your heart, or a young girl hearing her mother sincerely praise God for giving her the husband and children that she had longed for?

...being taught that we are all called to serve, or giving sacrificially as a family to meet the needs of others?

My challenge to myself is to remember to seek God in such an authentic way that my love of Him will naturally flow into every interaction and conversation I have with my children.

My friend Lisa says this of her mission to raise godly children:

"First and foremost, to delight in the Lord my God daily, publicly, and personally within sight of my children--that they would see firsthand the pure joy of loving Him and living in His light; and to lovingly create a home in which the Lord's ways are authentically, beautifully taught and revered."

Awesome. And so much more infinitely important than perfect attendance on the Sunday School chart.

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Motherhood Mission Statement
Sunday, January 7, 2007

Serious thoughts from the Laundry Lady...

A good friend of mine shared that she was working on creating a "Motherhood Mission Statement." Mission Statements have of course been around in the business world and church world for many years. If you Google "What is a mission statement?", one definition is "an organization’s description of itself. The declaration of values, goals, and aspirations that authoritative groups agree upon as being the central account of the organization’s unique sense of direction."

I was challenged by this idea of creating a mission statement for my work as a mother, because honestly way too many of my days sail by almost haphazardly. If I am not careful, I fall into a mindset of thinking"Just let me get through this day with my sanity somewhat in tact!" Instead of doing anything with purpose and a goal in mind, I spend my time putting out fires. "Don't take that toy away!" "PLEASE pee-pee in the potty and not in the trashcan." (long story)"It's not nice to hit your brother!" "Don't put that in your ear." "Stop picking your nose!" "Elbows off the table!" and on and on it goes. But in reality, I have goals and dreams for my children that go beyond them having good table manners and not causing bodily harm to themselves or their siblings. I want my children to lead lives that reflect the glory of God. I want them to seek His plan and will for their lives. I want them to consider others over themselves. (I asked Ryan yesterday, "What is the golden rule?" His response: "Treat your friends like ya want to." Ummm....close, but not quite getting the spirit of it!) I want them to believe they can accomplish any goal they set for themselves. I want them to see God at work in the world around them. I want them to be blessed, yes, but more than that to be a blessing to others.

So, to create my mission statement I have looked at the definition above and asked myself: "What values, goals, and aspirations do I want to purposefully instill in my children? What is the unique direction I want to take this family? What is my central purpose?"

I am still working on creating a nice succinct statement that encapsulates my goals as a mother, but for now this is what I've come up with:

"To create a home environment where my children can give and receive the love of God daily, and are inspired to become fully devoted followers of Christ."

Thoughts? If you create your own mission statement or just have thoughts on the subject, be sure to share them!

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Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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