Rules for Dads of Daughters

I'm up early this morning (as I usually am).

I noticed the light coming from beneath the door of my bedroom, meaning Brad is awake too. Then, I see my Emma sleepily walk to our bedroom door, open it and walk in to him.

I love that she has no hesitation. She knows she can approach her daddy and he is available to her. He is a good daddy.

She comes out of the bedroom and tells me he's going to teach her how to play chess. This morning. While it's still dark outside. Before she has her first chess club meeting at school today.

He is there for her. Her strong daddy who knows everything and can do anything (we'll enjoy this while she still think it *wink*). There aren't many things that warm my heart more than watching the man I love love our children.

I found this on pinterest this morning.

I read it through teary eyes.

Good reminders and sweet thoughts.

You can find the original post here.


I Shouldn't Cry Over Spilled Milk

but I really want to sometimes.

We have on average 5-6 mornings a week when we sit down for breakfast as a family (Sundays we eat and go to church in shifts depending on who's serving that day) and I think 3-4 out of 6 days someone spills their milk/cereal/drink/yogurt. This week we're 2 for 2 so far.

Our mornings can be chaotic...someone can't find socks, didn't finish homework the night before, is out of lunch money, throws a fit at the table, needs a paper signed, needs a pumpkin/costume/stuffed animal, needs some coaching on their attitude...

I know I should prepare for school mornings the night before. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I'm too tired or I was out late with people or I forgot what we needed or I just...didn't.

I don't know why I expect things to go perfectly. And that's really what it comes down to. My expectations. I wake up early, pray for the atmosphere of our home, for our attitudes to be right, our motives pure. Then I expect my prayers to work like magic and thwart off any arguments, stresses, dirty looks, last minute somethings, accidental spills. I am actually thrown off when we don't have a peaceful morning full of worship and scripture and hugs and lots of love.

Well, the love is always there. But sometimes I have to stop and breathe to give it the attention it deserves.

Life is life. We live in a fallen world with all it's irritable imperfections.

And I have to remind myself that my kids are in training...

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

Are there areas in which I'm still being trained? Yes, of course. So, why do I expect that if I've corrected the same poor behavior twice...three times...17 times my child will never struggle with that issue again?

It's all about expectations and seeing these things as normal life, rather than as surprising disruptions to the perfection I long for and envision.

Tomorrow we will do it all again. There is joy to be found in the hashing it out, in the going the extra mile, in the diving into these incredible relationships the Lord has blessed me with. I will choose to lean into the struggle and maybe see how God is training *me* through these beautiful, sometimes hectic, mornings...


What's Working For Us...

I found this method for memorizing scripture last spring.

Memorizing scripture allows it to invade your heart, your thought processes. It allows God's Word to become ingrained in your actions.

Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
~Psalm 119:33-35

We have been at it for 6ish months now. And it's working!

We work on them at the breakfast table. Some come quickly, some take more time. And it's all okay because we are memorizing scripture!

You can read all the details here.

Have you found a good system for scripture memory?


On Relationships

I'm reading "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp (for the second time. This time with an amazing group of ladies from our choir. It's a must-read, in my opinion).

This last week we read and discussed God's grace and how it applies to our relationships. I am in my 30s and I am still learning so much in this area! I went through the typical, painful relationships of junior high and high school and then had one or two close friends during my college years. Then I got married and, for years really, my husband and my kids were the only ones close.

Now, here I am, a grown woman, and I feel like I'm having to learn how to be a friend all over again in many ways. Having an amazing, healthy husband has been a huge benefit to me...he has taught me so much about how to be healthy in a relationship, whether it's friendship, marriage, or child to parent. If only I could put those lessons learned to use all the time. *wink*

Here's a few things I know...and am still preaching to myself...

Don't place unrealistic expectations on the other person. Don't expect them to be your one and only, bestie, sole confidant. A healthy person has a few, trusted people in whom they can place trust. Don't expect your husband/wife to fill the void a same-sex friend should. Likewise, don't confide all your marital problems to your best friend and expect her help. Let your kids be kids...they are not perfect and they are not your best friend. Evaluate each relationship for what it is and let it be that.

Communication is key. Don't expect them to read your mind. Say what you need to say with love. Start sentences with "I" rather than "You". And no name-calling. Ever. Remember that those words don't go back where they came from, even after apologies. Words stick. Let them be healthy and life-giving.

Be the first to say I'm sorry and quick to forgive. Ouch. This one is so hard for me! A little humility goes a long way. Don't let stubborn pride come between you and those you love.

Be the kind of friend, spouse, child, parent that you want to have. If you wish someone would call out of the blue to see how you're doing, do that for someone. If you wish your spouse would hold your hand spontaneously, reach for his or her hand. If you hope people are praying for you, pray for them. If you wish your children were more attentive to your instructions, be more attentive to them. This doesn't guarantee your desired outcome right away, but it protects your heart and helps you to invest in those around you. People will show love when they are loved.

Observe the 10 year rule. Have a friend who is 10 years older than you. You will be amazed at the comfort that comes from having a friend who's been there. Have a friend who is 10 years younger than you. You will laugh more and see the world in a different way.

Let it breathe and be what it is. There are not many things more frustrating than trying to make someone into something they're not. If he's not ready to commit, he may not be your husband. If she seems unwilling to spend time with you, she may not have time to invest in your relationship. If that family member hurts you over and over, you may need some space. If your 3 year old won't potty train, remember that we all get it eventually...wait, maybe that's another post...

Remember that Jesus is the only perfect One around. He really is the best friend who will never hurt you. He always has the best intentions and will never take advantage of you. Even better...being friends with Him guarantees that you will be a better spouse, parent, child, friend.


The Messy Side of Ministry

"Sure, have her come over"...I almost regret the words as soon as they leave me.

The house is a mess. I'm in my mom uniform, not near the cleaner, more put together me that walks through the doors on Sunday. It's most likely pizza for dinner. And I'm tired.

Sometimes it's all I can do to keep it together around here...and barely at that. With a husband who continually gives and 5 young children who giggle and run and fall and cry and have an amazing ability to turn my daytime neatness into joyful chaos within 10 minutes of after school fun.

The walls of this house are comfort to me. It is our sanctuary. Not a quiet one, but a safe one. A place where life is messy and loving and forgiving.

I have perfected the art of protecting our time. Early in our marriage I fought hard for that privacy, that desire to have time to ourselves. The pressures of ministry can be strong, I had heard. I took on the role of defender of our schedule...partly out of wisdom, partly out of fear.

It is important to be wise with our time. Our children find safety in family time, in undivided attention from us. We laugh and cry and argue and make up and we love and hug and tickle and play games and we are here.

And hasn't He created all of this in us so that we can share it? To not only tell of the fun, of the unconditional, sometimes hard, love that happens within these walls? Could it be that some of the most real, most powerful ministry happens here?

For me, it is the harder, more personal side of what we do. To let people in. To let them see the mess, the imperfections. To not only be transparent, but to be vulnerable.

But He sees and He knows and He takes my weaknesses and turns them into something beautiful.

So she comes. And we talk. And she sees messy bedrooms, evidence of a rushed morning. She observes bickering and hugs, scrapes and kisses. We laugh over coffee. It is stretching for me and if she knows she doesn't say. I see the connection spark in her eye, the longing for friendship in a new city.

And I'm thankful. Thankful for a God who covers for me. Who desires willingness over perfection. A God who uses me to touch another life.

And transforms mine at the same time.


There is Nothing

I had a great weekend at Women of Faith. I learned a lot, made new friends and came home with renewed vision and excitement for what God holds for me and our family.

One of the things I recommitted to is waking early. I try to do this most of the time, but with the craziness of life I've been, well, tired.

Sunday night I set my alarm (which I hate doing) so I could wake early and have some quiet, early morning time to read and pray. And drink coffee, of course.

The alarm went off and I had a great, quiet hour. Then, the rest of the day happened.

I strained my neck, resulting in a lot of pain. I fought with my husband. I was too hard on my kids. My littles had meltdowns all. day. long. I didn't get near enough done. I bailed on 2 opportunities to catch up with friends.

Ugh. It was a rough one. By last night, the dust had settled. I went to bed at peace, but exhausted.

I am very aware that there is an enemy who HATES that I'm waking early. And he will try to discourage me from doing it. But none of this changes who I am or who I serve. I am the child of an amazing, merciful God who has enough grace to cover my 'ugh' days.

So, I woke early again today. I had this song going through my head...

I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Rom 8:39