Thursday, February 26, 2015

From Fairy Tale to Real Life: Why It's Ok to be a Prince and Princess

Recently, I have had to dig deep and find my inner thespian. I have had to clear away the cobwebs and dust off my imagination. In a matter of a day my toddler jumped full force in to pretend play. “Mommy you are a frog” he says. He waits and watches with those big eyes as I attempt to act like a frog. 

Pretend play is nothing new to me; it’s just been a while since I have done it. My son wants to act out every single book that we read and if he doesn’t understand something he will ask. Recently, he asked me what a prince was. I was a little tongue tied and was scrambling to come up with a simple and accurate definition that would make sense to a 2 year old. 

After giving a pretty lousy definition he of course says “let’s play it!” I start explaining that he is courageous, brave, and confident. I tell him that represents the King and has an important job to do. I tell him that he can do whatever he wants, as long as it is good.  

I start thinking to myself that I could turn this pretend play time into a great life lesson. Bring God into the picture and these are the kind of traits we see in men who follow Jesus. 

Then I remember. My son copies everything I do and everything my husband does. He learns how to act like a frog from me, and he learns to act like a prince from me. If I am not treating myself like a princess, how can I expect my son to treat himself like the prince he is to God? 

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)

God loves us more than we could ever fathom. He made us and he commands that we love and take care of ourselves. This does not mean that we should be prideful, conceited or self-centered. In fact, we should be the opposite of those things. What I mean, is that we should love how God made us, care for the bodies and minds God gave us, and always be striving to have a better soul. 

When we are born we have a body, a mind and a soul. It is our job to nourish and care of each one of these parts.  We nourish the body by exercising, eating right, and sleeping daily. We nourish our mind by being self-aware of our feelings and emotions, studying the word of God and praying. We nourish our soul by inviting the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and giving every ounce of will power and energy into becoming more like Christ. 

If we let any one of these things go then we are not capable of being all God made us to be. God’s kingdom is huge and God has big plans for all of his princes and princesses. Are you treating yourself like a princess? Are you teaching your son or daughter to love God, love themselves, love others, dream big, and take care of their body, mind and souls so they can get on their horse and fight for God’s kingdom? 

It’s never too late to start. You are never too old or too young to achieve your dreams and nourish your mind, body and soul. 

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Even if your children are grown and living out of the house, they will still be inspired by you. Even if your child is an infant and has no idea what you are doing, it’s never too early to start good habits. 

Precious is a word that is commonly used to describe babies and little children. Well, I’d like to use it to describe you. You are precious, you are a princess. Treat yourself like one and your little ones will learn to treat themselves like one. Then, hopefully, they will be fully equipped to give their life over to God and humbly be the hands and feet of Jesus. 

“Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to its neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lent: Making a Bold Move Towards God

Every day I could find something in my life that I wish I was doing more of or less of. Yesterday afternoon, I wish I had done my awesome new Christian yoga DVD instead of clean the bathrooms. Last night, I wish I had read instead of watch mindless TV. It takes a whole lot of discipline and prayer to do exactly what we (God and us) want and should do on a daily basis. We can’t beat ourselves up for not making the best decisions but we should always be aware of any area of our lives that pull us away from God.

To me, the season of lent is a time when I force myself to make a bold move in the right direction. It’s a time when I reflect on the things in my life that I feel are getting in the way of my relationship with God and then actually do something about it. Instead of thinking to myself “I wish I had read the Bible last night instead of watch TV, oh well” I can say “I am giving up TV completely for the next 40 days and will read the Bible every night”. Giving up TV forever would be difficult for me, but 40 days is doable. 

Is there something in your life that you do a lot of, and then afterward feel empty? If so, give that up for lent. Do you feel bored on the weekends or in the evenings and feel like God is not using all you have to offer? If so, commit to help someone or volunteer somewhere during this time. Lent is all about making bold moves towards God. God likes it when we pray big prayers and take big steps towards getting to know and serve Him. 

Yes, we should be striving to serve God and love Him daily, but once a year why not take a REALLY BIG step in the right direction?
Some may disagree with me on this but I will say it anyway. The act of giving something up or taking something on does not have to happen during the specific days of lent laid out by the Church (which is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter). They can happen for however many days and during whatever part of the year you want it too. 

The purpose of lent is to strengthen your relationship with God, repent of your sins, and give up worldly things that are tempting you to sin. What matters is that you actually do that, not when you do it.  Celebrating Easter is so huge to me that I like to spend the 40 days before Easter giving all of myself to God. Therefore, I do follow the specific dates of lent, but you don't have to.

You may be thinking to yourself “well I already missed the Ash Wednesday service at Church and I don’t really have a relationship with God so how can I participate in lent?” My response to you is this. There are people who will show up to the Ash Wednesday service, get a cross of ashes wiped on their forehead, will decide to give up eating sweets for lent (for the sole reason of losing weight) and will not grow at all in their relationship with God because for them, it was all about going through the motions of what they are supposed to do this time of year. 

Then there is you, who did not go to an ash Wednesday service and who is thirsty and hungry for more meaning in your life and for a relationship with God. For you, it’s all about wanting more God in your life, not following a tradition. If this sounds like you, but you are not sure where to start then begin with prayer. Commit to pray to God daily for the next 40 days. If you can do more, try going to church (any church) once a week or reading a proverb or psalm every day. I promise you will be blessed. 

God has blessed me tremendously during lent in the past and I am thrilled to see what will happen this year. Will you join me? 

Bible Reading: Read Matthew Chapter 4. Here Jesus was tempted by the devil while he was fasting for 40 days. “Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”(Matthew 4:10)

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Daily Prayer for the Man in Your Life

Father God, today I lift up ______ to you. I pray that you would…..

Give him peace that radiates through the most twisted up knots in his body.

Give him strength that comes from Your promises and truth.

Provide him with the self-control that he needs in order to stand firm against worldly temptations. 

Surround him with protection from the harshness of the world, and equip him with a suit of Godly armor when he faces his biggest battles. 

Fill his heart with overflowing joy and happiness. Fill his home with so much laughter that his wrinkles come from smiles instead of stress. 

Lay your hand upon him when he sleeps, and ease his mind of worry.

Remind him that the closer he is to You, the more satisfied he will be. 

Reward him financially when he works hard, and gives his money over to you.

When he looks for his identity in his money, in his job, and in his physical appearance, gently turn him away and bring him back to You. Remind him that his self-worth comes from you alone.

Keep his body healthy and his mind set on You.

Give him wisdom and help him make good decisions. 

Help him to live in the present, experiencing the joy of all of his blessings

When he gets worn out, give him comfort, nourishment, and rest.

Equip him with the tools he needs to be Your hands and feet today, and every day.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Teaching God's Love in the Playroom

I will be honest and say that I used to be one of those anti-Valentine’s Day people. My only reasoning for this was that I preferred to be surprised with something special on a random Tuesday, rather than on a day where celebration for love was expected. I am happy to say that my views have since changed for two reasons.

One reason is that life has changed completely since having children. My husband and I used to have all the time in the world to go out to dinner, go shopping for gifts, make each others favorite meals and show spontaneous expressions of our love for one another. While these things can still be done, it takes more effort and time now that we have a family. Now, Valentine’s Day forces us to make special time for each other, which is critical if we want to put our marriage first.

The second reason why I now love Valentine’s Day is because it is a perfect opportunity to teach my children an important life lesson: that real love is God’s love.  

When my son thinks about love, I want him to automatically think about Jesus. Our society teaches love in a completely different way than God teaches love, so it is my job as a mom to ingrain in my children (in a fun way) the real definition of love. While every day is a great day to model and teach our children about God and love, the weeks before Valentine’s Day make it easy and fun to teach them this important concept. 

Children learn best through play and every day activities. So I love taking advantage of holidays and the decorations that can be found in stores across America, to emphasize my teaching points. 

Here are my top 3 activities to do with your young children this Valentine’s day to teach them about God’s love. 

1.       In 1 Corinthians Paul teaches that love endures forever. The concept of loving someone, even when we don’t feel the love, is a hard concept for even adults to grasp. We are expected to love, regardless of our feelings, because God loves us all the time. His love never fails. I came up with a fun, hands on way to teach this concept to my toddler. I found objects around the play room which were light weight and placed them on his table. I then brought out a very heavy rock which I had painted a heart and cross on. Surprisingly, the rock was entertaining just by itself. I then placed the rock next to the light weight items on the table and pulled out my hair dryer (another thing which my son thought was awesome). I explained to him that the rock represented God’s love and the other objects represented false love. Over and over again I would turn on the hair dryer and he would watch all of the objects (except for the rock) fly off the table! After doing this numerous times and repeating my point over and over again, my two year old understands that God’s love is the strongest and it will never change. 

2.       Teach your kids the meaning of Christian symbols and words through art by making God centered Valentines. Tell your children that you are going to make paintings or cards for people you love that represent God’s love. This can be anything you want it to be and can be tailored to your child’s age and desire for art. For my two year old, drawings consist of lines, dots, and scribbles. I turned his lines in to crosses and let him tell me what his pictures represented. I also made a picture and described the meaning behind my words and symbols. Older children can really get creative with this and can make their Valentines unique. 

3.       God’s love is not proud or self-seeking. One way to teach this concept to young kids is to spend your Valentine’s Day doing acts of kindness for others. Once again, this can be anything you want it to be and can be tailored to your kids ages. Some ideas are baking cookies for a neighbor, washing dad’s car, making breakfast for mom, volunteering at a homeless shelter, handing out bible verses at the mall, to bringing a meal to a family who may be in need of some extra love. Find a day where you can spend time that you would normally be playing, doing one of these acts of kindness. Make it fun and exciting, and hopefully, something your children will want to do again and again.

Every day we spend with our children is a precious day to teach them about the one who loves them the most: God. People will fail them, relationships will fail them, life will fail them, but God's love will never fail them. I want my son to not only know how much his dad and I love him, but also how much God loves him. I hope these activities bring inspiration to your playroom this Valentine's Day!

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

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