Passing the Hat


“Be careful…that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.” 1 Corinthians 8:9 NIV

There is something about a daddy’s hat and a little boy…need I say more? It it’s Drew’s, Liam wants it. At the ripe old age of one, Liam was already copying his dad. He would even swing his arm when he walked…just like daddy did (who by the way picked that trait up from his dad). Kids are in many ways, their recycled parents. Scary thought, isn’t it!

Over thirty-five years ago, God allowed me to see how influential my actions were. I remember it like it was yesterday. My personal wake-up call came when I walked in on Gwen and Shannon toasting one another with water-filled wine glasses. Grant and I weren’t big drinkers, but even an occasional glass of wine was already being emulated by our two toddlers. That “reality snap shot” changed my life forever. How could I expect them not to drink alcohol if they saw me do it? What if they couldn’t stop after one or two drinks? What if my actions influenced them to do something that would later destroy their lives or marriages? I never took another drink of alcohol.

Today’s blog is not about drinking…it’s about influence. As parents, we will ALL be copied. When we “pass the hat” to our kids, it comes with our habits (good and bad), our traits and our character. We must take a long, hard look at ourselves and make the necessary changes, so the person we are is the kind of person we want our kids to become.

PRAYER: God, it’s not just about me anymore. My influence is shaping my children and grandchildren. There are areas of my life that need to be cleaned up and gotten rid of. I submit myself to You. You be the potter and I’ll be the clay. Mold me into the person and parent I need to be. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Good To The Last Drop

IMG_0048“For with You is the fountain of life, in Your light we see life.” Psalm 36:9 NIV

There are some things you hate to see come to an end…lazy summers, a good book, the coziness of a warm fire, vacations, a Scotty P’s chunky Oreo shake, {insert your favorite things here}…but nothing on earth lasts forever.

Too many distractions…even too many favorite things…keep you from enjoying any of them to the fullest. It’s impossible. There’s not enough time. A few years ago, a young mother in our church taught me a valuable lesson. She was interested in her daughter participating in our 4th and 5th Grade Leadership Program and wanted to understand the level of time commitment it required. After gathering the information, she said she’d discuss it with her daughter who would have a decision to make. Their family rule was you had to give up an activity before you could add a new one. Wow! What a mom!

This is Time Management 101 in a nutshell. Don’t put more on your plate than you can eat. And don’t fill your plate so full you can’t savor the taste and enjoy the meal. Simpler schedules give the mind breathing room, and oxygen is a good thing for brain cells – and your soul!

Busy schedules keep us from doing important things – like sleeping, exercising, praying and reading our Bibles – just to name a few. The pace you set your child’s body clock to now is the minimum pace they will run on when they grow up. Pray. Ask God to help you. Hard and counter-cultural as it may seem, set boundaries for yourself first, then for your children and family. A wise pastor once told me, “keep the main thing the main thing”.

I believe in living life to the fullest…but the older I get the more I realize “less is really more”. Teach your children that life is good to the very last drop. And make sure they aren’t moving so fast the drops get left in the bottle or fall on the floor!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me slow down and experience a life without regret…help me to stay focused on You and the important people in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Be Flexible

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:6 NIV

Very few things in life are free, but I’ve found one you never have to pay for…it just magically appears in abundance with every child you have…laundry!

When my four kids were little, they didn’t make laundry hampers big enough for the mountain of clothes we generated. The only way to possibly get caught up for 30 seconds was to load everything in the car and take it to a laundromat. And that wouldn’t last for long. Most days, my trusty Maytag labored nonstop, and the den couch served as a dumping ground as each load was pulled from the dryer. I folded what I could, but there were diapers to change, meals to cook, places to go…you get the picture…the only time our couch functioned as a real couch was when we had company.

One Saturday afternoon, a family from church arrived at our house unexpectedly. When the doorbell rang, I was horrified! I couldn’t let them see my piles of laundry on the couch…what would they think…where would they sit? I immediately yelled for everyone to help me. We each grabbed armfuls of clean clothes and raced to hide them in a bedroom. And all for what? It turns out, all that for our friends’ entertainment! They watched (and thoroughly enjoyed) the whole comical exercise through our living room window. After I got past the humiliation and embarrassment, I was able to laugh about it (sort of)!

In those days, I took myself – and my pride – way too seriously. I had a very rigid and unrealistic standard for what my house had to look like before any guests could enter. That put unfair pressures on all of us. It’s good to try to be neat and orderly, but insane to think it would ever be perfect as long as four little children were running around.

I was like Martha in the Bible (Luke 10)…consumed with my many tasks…trying to make everything just right. Jesus told her she was too worried and distracted by “things”. I needed to be flexible enough to let some things go…and enjoy more moments with my kids, with my husband and with my Lord.

Slow down. Rearrange schedules so your family has time to be together. Read a book. Take a walk around the block. Play cards. Bake cookies. Watch a movie. Allow yourself the freedom to let the laundry sit an extra day and seize a moment with your kids while a moment is still within your grasp.

Prayer: God, my kids are growing up right before my eyes and if I don’t slow down, I’m going to miss it. Teach me not to worry about things that can wait. Help me be flexible and smart enough to let the main thing be the main thing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Falling In the Ocean

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“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’.” Psalm 126:2 NIV

Texas may get hot in the summer, but in March it can still be a bit chilly. It was spring break and for once, Grant and I decided to actually go somewhere for vacation. We loaded up our four children and headed south, spending nights at my Uncle Don’s house in Houston, but taking day trips to see other parts of near-by south Texas. The kids begged to go to the beach and even with temperatures in the low 70’s, they insisted on wearing shorts. Minutes after we parked the car, their shoes and socks started coming off. Gwen and Shannon “just wanted to get their feet wet”. Famous last words.

Despite our strict warnings, the children continued to venture further into the water…a little at a time. “Please…just up to my ankles,” they promised. But they kept inching deeper until the waves were playfully dancing around their knees. If you know kids, you know where this story is headed.

Becky wasn’t nearly as tall as Gwen and Shannon and yet she kept right up with their knee height. Her culotte shorts were already getting wet. Suddenly, the water surged a little harder than before and it swept Becky right off her feet! At least that’s Becky’s story. But her delighted giggling was less than convincing. Since she was already wet, there was no reason to try to stay dry now…right? What’s a parent to say? Not to be outdone, Drew “accidentally” fell in next, followed by Gwen and Shannon.

We let them swim in the water until their lips literally turned blue from the cold. What fun they had that afternoon! The worst part was getting out. Covered in sand and dripping head to toe, there were no towels, no dry clothes, not even any dry underwear! Fortunately there was a nearby Wal-Mart.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to have fun. We made the mistake of not taking regular vacations when the children were young because we thought we couldn’t afford it. The older they got, the more difficult it was to coordinate their schedules to fit in even short excursions.

Plan simple getaways that let you relax and enjoy one another. The best times can be the unstructured leisure trips where there is no itinerary…no place where you have to be because you paid to go there. Sleep in, play hard and go with the flow…even if it happens to be wet and sandy. Just remember to pack extra clothes for “just in case”.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us such wonderful children! I treasure the memories of their childhood and the fun things we did together. Help them enjoy their young families and build special memories with them, too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.