It’s Not a Game…

It's Not a Game...

If I post about parenting–  but ignore my child’s needs…

If I tweet about marriage–  but am too tired for intimacy…

If my Facebook status is for friendship–  but I’m too busy for my friends…

If I text about service–  but do not respond when my neighbor’s need is clear…

If I Pinterest-pin verses–  but don’t actually read my Bible…

If I say “I will pray”– but forget to follow through…

If I speak about love–  but fail to love in action…

If I– fail to love in daily-real-in-the-flesh-life?

Oh it’s not a game.
Let me live the walk I talk.

For little eyes are watching to see what truly captures my heart.

“…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” ~1 John 3:18

With Love,

Kara @The Chuppies

A Light in the Darkness (Especially on Halloween)

Moon

 

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
~John 1:5

According to the calendar, today is Halloween.

And while there may be some disagreement about whether or not Christ-followers should participate in Halloween, we know God asks us to live as light in the midst of darkness.

So here are just some easy-to-implement suggestions of ways to redeem this day– Halloween.

1)  As a family, research Reformation Day, which is also October 31st, and spend the day learning about and celebrating it instead:

–Read Martin Luther Little Lights: What Should I Do?

–Add in some fun crafts or activities that go along with Reformation Day.

–If you have older children, watch the movie Luther together.

2) Decide that your family (and your home) is going to be a literal light in the darkness.

–In a society where neighborhood relationships, community and interaction is becoming more and more rare, use tonight as an opportunity to leave on the lights and to connect with neighbors that you might never see or talk with otherwise.

–Make sure your porch is well lit and have a candy bowl that is full of “good candy”.  Take time to meet and interact with each parent and child who arrives on your doorstep.

–Consider making or purchasing little bags of pumpkin treats (muffins, bread, or cookies) to take around to give your neighbors.

–Make plenty of hot apple cider to hand out to the parents of trick-or-treaters.

3) Get a jump on the season of Thanksgiving.

–We know it’s God’s will that we “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18) so shift the focus to giving thanks– today.

– Check out these 7 Mini Challenges for helping your children become more thankful.

–Start your own collection of Jordan River Rocks.

–Print out a foldable count-your-blessings-card for each family member and start the counting today.

–If you’ve been in the Valley of Massah (grumbling and complaining)…read through this list of verses together as a family and ask God to grow an attitude of thankfulness.

4) As a family, commit to– “Letting your lights shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”   ~Matthew 5:16

–Buy or make seasonal treats to deliver to teachers at the your child’s school or to the staff at your church and make sure you include a note telling them how thankful you are for them.

–Choose one family that you know has been struggling with sickness or financial difficulties and bring them a surprise dinner tonight.

–As a family, use the afternoon to help a neighbor who needs some leaf-pick-up help.

–If you know of family with younger children that don’t have grandparents in the area, offer to watch their children for a fun movie-popcorn-trick-or-treating-night so that the parents can have a date.

5)  Above and beyond all, remember that God’s light triumphs over darkness.

…even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.  ~ Psalm 139:12

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.  ~ Isaiah 42:16

–  Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  ~John 8:12

May each and every one of us live as light in the midst of darkness, for Him, today.

Blessings,

How well are you listening? & Better Mom Monday’s Link-up!!

Howwellareyoulistening

You know that woman who manages to be heard above all the other voices in the group?

That’s not normally me.

I just don’t like fighting for attention. If I’m going to talk, I really want to be listened to.

Who doesn’t?

The people I respect most in life are those who ask insightful questions and lean forward to wait for the entire answer.

We all know when we’re not being heard — we know the signs:

  • There’s the distracted listener, mumbling “Mmmmhmmm” as they continue on with their task or scan the room for someone presumably more important.
  • There’s also the impatient interrupter, who can only take so much of our story before they jump in with their own.
  • And there’s the self-absorbed misinterpreter, who misses the heart of what we’re saying, because they’re just waiting for a springboard to make their own point.

One of my life goals is to listen well to others: to be fully present and hear them out even when I’m dying to offer my own “brilliant” insight.

I still fall short, of course, but something I’ve noticed is that I’m far better at this with my friends than I am with my own family.

When a friend is hurting, rejoicing, or simply sharing a humorous anecdote, I ignore the chaos around me, make eye contact, and show them they have my full attention.

After all, that’s a sign of respect and selflessness.

When my husband comes alongside me at the computer to share a thought or when one of my five kids wanders into the kitchen to tell a story, I fake listen far too often.

I keep right on clicking my mouse, or reading my recipe and offer “What?” “Really?” and “Hmm, that’s interesting!” with oddly inappropriate inflections.

My children’s stories can be long, winding, and somewhat anticlimactic. Their questions and issues often drain me. And sometimes my husband’s news doesn’t grab my interest either. I respond with a hasty courtesy laugh or a two-step solution to solve the problem at hand.

After all, I have a job to finish.. or a fascinating facebook post to comment on… perhaps even a list of chores to dish out.

But they notice. They’re quick to conclude that what I’m doing is more important than them.

And in so doing, I fail to obey the command to “regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NASB). I fail to model the virtues I long for my children to possess.

By my example, I raise distracted listeners, impatient interrupters, and self-absorbed misinterpreters.

Of course, modeling good listening is only half of how you and I teach our children.

We must listen well to them while also drawing their attention to how well they listen to others. We must be intentional in lessons on humility.

As parents, we are called to reflect and teach the nature of our loving Heavenly Father, whose “ears are open” to the prayers of the righteous (1Peter 3:12 NKJV) and who invites us to “pour out [our] heart before Him” (Psalm 62:8 NASB).

As you and I rest in the knowledge that we have our Father’s full attention, let’s listen well too — first and foremost to Him!

Then let’s be the woman in the crowd who draws others out.

And as the homeschooling or post-school clamour begins and as our husbands walk in from work, let’s give our loved ones our attention.

Let’s model and teach humility and respect through the discipline of listening.

Blessings,

Jennifer, JenniferEbenhack.com

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Raising Thankful Lepers

thankfulness-concepts-2

The picture Jesus paints for us of the final days for planet Earth in His Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 is hardly cheery. In this passage He warned His disciples of looming famines, earthquakes, lawlessness, “wars and rumors of wars”, and even martyrdom. These are dramatic and catastrophic events. We refer to them as “signs of the times”; Jesus referred to them in words we moms can better relate to as “birth pangs” or in today’s language, contractions. Again, not a cheery picture, to be sure.

Jesus offers another less dramatic, but bitterly painful sign of His return: “the love of most will grow cold”. Given this particular “birth pang”, it seems the Day is fast approaching. We live in the land of cold hearts we observe in a myriad of painful expressions from “road rage” to murder.

Another way this has manifested itself is through ingratitude and an attitude of entitlement. Many children grow up believing everything is owed to them. They “deserve” a Facebook account, a cell phone, an iPad, a trip to Disney World, a car, a college education, etc. Many adults have also bought into this thinking. In fact, they are the ones peddling this attitude of ingratitude to the next generation. And this seems to be the logical conclusion: if we’re entitled to everything, we don’t have to be thankful for anything.

But those of us who are Christians know this just isn’t true. We aren’t owed anything, except God’s justice. The only thing we do deserve and are “entitled” to is hell itself. The fact is, we owe Christ everything. What we should marvel at is not that we don’t have what the girl next door has, but rather the fact that God has lavished His grace and love on us through the extravagant gift of His Son, Jesus.

Ingratitude is nothing new. Jesus confronted this negative attitude in Luke 17 where ten men afflicted with leprosy sought healing from Jesus and received it. After He sent them off to show the priests they’d been healed, only one returned to give thanks for this miraculous gift. Christ’s lesson was simple; be thankful. I Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

So the task at hand is obvious: we need to teach our kids thankfulness. One meaningful way to do this is to teach them to write simple thank you notes expressing heartfelt thanks for gifts or acts of kindness. When our kids were young, we had them write these kinds of notes, usually the day after they’d received a gift. We made sure they mentioned the gift and the reason(s) why they were appreciative. We also made sure the notes were handwritten. It didn’t take long for this practice to become second nature and they continue it today even though they are in their teens and twenties.

It shouldn’t alarm us that our children aren’t naturally thankful; it’s part of our fallen nature. But we do them a favor when we work to diminish the effects of this destructive attitude in their lives. Let’s not let this sign of the times define our children. Let’s raise thankful lepers.

~Barb

Photo Credit: http://www.inspirationfalls.com/thankfulness-quotes/thankfulness-concepts-2/

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