But I want it…

Daughter: “Mooooooom! She has my bear!”
Me: “Were you playing with it?”
Daughter: “Nooooo, but it’s mine.”
Me: “Well, since your sister didn’t take it from you, and you really weren’t playing with it, I think you can wait until she’s finished playing with it.”
Daughter: “But I waaaaant it…”

How many times have I had this conversation? Countless.
How many times will I have this conversation in the future? Countless more.
When will my children out grow this phase of selfishness, control seeking, and greed? Never, and honestly I haven’t ‘out grown it’ either.
Nobody has, nobody will, because it’s not a phase.

It’s not a behavior issue. It’s not a childhood issue.
It’s a heart issue. It’s a humanity issue.

As adults we are a little bit more sneaky about it. We want, typically, good things.
We want things to go well. We want to be secure. We want things just so. We want time to do what makes us feel good, look attractive, feel accomplished, appear intelligent.
We want to be in charge. We want control.

Here’s the problem, we want what we want no matter what.

My daughter is not as sophisticated as I am, so she readily admits: I want it, and I don’t care about anything, or anyone else.
As adults, we would never say that out loud! Maybe not even in our heads…
But that is the reality of our hearts.

How do you check this?
For, as Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Here’s some ideas of how to check your heart:
What makes you upset? What ruffles your feathers? What makes you anxious?

Our hearts are deceptive even to us!
The problem arises when the good thing we want becomes, as Paul David Tripp says, “a ruling thing”.
When you want that thing more than you want to be in God’s word, serve his people, and come before the throne of grace in prayer; more than you want Him, you’re heart is in the wrong place.

God must be first.

Here’s the other deceptive part. We think we can do Jesus plus ____________.

God is exclusive. He does not tolerate sharing first place in our lives. He is not neutral, it’s all or nothing. We either give him all the glory, all our control, all our desires, all our work, all our everything, or we are giving it to something else.

How can a loving God be so greedy, jealous, selfish even?
That’s what we think, but here’s the deal, it’s not ours to begin with. Everything belongs to God, our lives, our stuff, our family, all of the universe belongs to him. More than that, in our sin, we were dead, and separated from God. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross gave us what we did not have: life.
Everything we have is from God, any sense of selfishness, need to control, or greed simply does not make sense!

As believers we do not have to be trapped in the deception of our own hearts. We are free from that! We still must fight as long as we are in these sin riddled, broken bodies, but we are not enslaved to sin any longer. Our victory is not realized yet, but it is assured, achieved, and indeed “finished”.

We are well equipped to fight, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the very Words of God in the Bible, our lifeline, and intimate communication of prayer, and our fellow soldiers in our local churches, our band of brothers and sisters.

I encourage you, as I encourage, exhort, and instruct my own heart, and my children’s hearts. Fight the good fight.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Confident in what?

Yes, she chose every item of her outfit.

This is my sweet, silly, second born daughter.
She sings at the top of her lungs, love the feeling of the wind in her hair, and longs for the day when she can put on makeup with mommy.
When I look at her and see her confidence, I wonder, is this really my daughter. Confident is not a word I would ever consider in describing myself.

My daughter’s confidence often exposes her heart and where that confidence comes from. Pride.
You see, she is so confident in herself that she is furious when she does not get her way. When Mommy tells her no. When her siblings aren’t playing the game she wants to play. When she doesn’t get to watch her favorite movie. When she can’t go play with her friends because one of her siblings are sick and we have to stay home.
“But I want it” is her new favorite phrase. Pride.
I want it. I deserve it. I cannot be happy with out it. Pride.
It’s all about me.

I struggle with pride too. I want my own way. I just don’t ooze with confidence like she does. I tend to go the “poor me” route. The result and the heart is still the same. It’s all about me. Pride.

So what is confidence? Is it really pride in disguise? Or is it something else?

The bible uses the word confidence in both positive and negative ways. The psalms speak negatively of those who put their confidence in their own ability, strength, or military power. Paul speaks of the confidence he could have in the flesh, but that his true confidence is in Christ (Philippians 3).
When I think a biblical definition of confidence, I think of Hebrews, really the whole book, but chapter 13 has a great summary of the concept conveyed in the rest of the book.

“…be¬†content¬†with¬†what¬†you¬†have,¬†for¬†he¬†has¬†said, ‚ÄúI¬†will¬†never¬†leave¬†you¬†nor¬†forsake¬†you.‚Ä̬†So¬†we¬†can¬†confidently¬†say, ‚ÄúThe¬†Lord¬†is¬†my¬†helper; I¬†will¬†not¬†fear; what¬†can¬†man¬†do¬†to¬†me?” “
(Hebrews 13:5b-6)

So the key to confidence is this:
Where is the root? What are we confident in?

Confidence in anything other than Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is pride. We must look to Jesus Christ alone. It’s an all or nothing deal. Christ is either our all or we really don’t trust in him at all. But we can trust him with everything!

The powerful creator of the world, lived the perfect life for us, died our rightful death for us, resurrected assuring life eternal for us, and is with us moment by moment giving us grace to live and bring him glory.

This is where I want my little girl, and me, to find confidence, because Jesus will never give up on us, never fail us, and is always with us.
We will fail. We will mess us. We will be inconsistent. We will lose. We just simply can’t.
When we put our confidence, faith, hope, and trust in an unchanging, good savior we have something that nothing else on this earth can give us (even ourselves!).
Peace.

Peace because he knows.
Peace because he hears.
Peace because he sees.
Peace because he understands.
Peace because he is able.
Peace because he is willing.
Peace because he is good.
Peace because he came.
Peace because he conquered.
Peace because he lives.
Peace because he will complete what he began.
Peace because he is coming again.

This world, our own flesh, and the devil cannot give us peace.

“For¬†to¬†us¬†a¬†child¬†is¬†born, to¬†us a¬†son¬†is¬†given; and¬†the¬†government¬†shall¬†be¬†upon his¬†shoulder, and¬†his¬†name¬†shall¬†be¬†called Wonderful¬†Counselor,¬†Mighty¬†God, Everlasting¬†Father,¬†Prince¬†of¬†Peace. Of¬†the¬†increase¬†of¬†his¬†government¬†and¬†of¬†peace there¬†will¬†be¬†no¬†end, on¬†the¬†throne¬†of¬†David¬†and¬†over¬†his¬†kingdom, to¬†establish¬†it¬†and¬†to¬†uphold¬†it with¬†justice¬†and¬†with¬†righteousness from¬†this¬†time¬†forth¬†and¬†forevermore. The¬†zeal¬†of¬†the¬†LORD¬†of¬†hosts¬†will¬†do¬†this.”
(Isaiah 9:6-7)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

Soli Deo Gloria

Wherefore, therefore Joy

I just recently finished C. S. Lewis’ book, Surprised by Joy. Throughout the book, I couldn’t really figure out what he meant by joy, because the way he described it was familiar, but not how I had ever heard joy described.

I actually listened to it, for free from the public library!
(not a plug or ad, just an awesome fact!)

“All Joy reminds.” Lewis states in the book.

He goes on to say that whenever we identify an object, experience, person, or whatever, is the cause of our joy, we miss it entirely. Joy, he says, is a sign.

In thinking about it now, I can see his point. For example, the joy of Christmas is more often in the excitement before, and build up to the day, but not actually the day itself.

Being the thoughtful, introspective, introvert that I am (enneagram 5, if you keep up with the trending thing), I was thinking about Lewis’ definition of joy while at the park with my children.

Clearly, from their expressions, they are enjoying themselves. Why? All three are feeling something they crave, and intangible thing that causes them to meltdown and throw tantrums when it’s time to leave the park.

For my son, it’s the joy of doing something with another. Togetherness is his favorite. You can’t touch that, it’s incredibly hard to manufacture it, and fake togetherness does not spark that same feeling of joy he wants.

For my youngest daughter, it’s a simple thrill. The little g-force of a swing, delight of being tickled, or playing peek-a-boo. Again, an untouchable thing, an emotion, which can be caused by several different things.

For my middle child, she’s a little trickier than the other two. She enjoys things that strike awe. How do you capture that? She finds joy in music, drawing, dancing, funny faces, the feel of the wind in her hair, a flower in bloom, a bird flying, a rain shower. For her, joy is a mystery. It strikes when she least expects it, and she does all she can to replicate it, usually resulting in frustration and the occasional tantrum.

All three of my children love the feeling of joy, they seek it, they crave it, they get very upset when they can’t reproduce it.

I have the privilege, as their mom, to show them that joy is not an end all. That feeling, that rush, that high, is rather unattainable, but it points to something better, something that is everlasting.
The togetherness my son craves is ultimately satisfied in relationship with the never leaving friend of his Savior Jesus.
The thrilling emotion my youngest loves is caused by the Creator of the world, the God of the universe who made her to have emotions.
The awe my middle child feels points to the fall-to-the-floor awe we will experience when we see God face to face.

Joy is a pointer to the ultimate, to God.

My prayer, as a parent and follower of Christ, that I would not look for joy in this world, and that I would point my children to the Lord of Joy. I pray that one day, I would be able to stand side by side with my children and make a joyful noise to the Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria

Education Opportunity – Limitless Learners Contest with Education.com

Ok friends, this is exciting!
Education.com is doing a contest for students Kindergarten through 5th grade (in the coming school year), where they can win $500 towards their future education, PLUS $1000 for their elementary school or library.
How awesome is that!?

Disclaimer: The pictures below are from the Education.com website and correspond to the links provided. They are not mine.

Click here to go to the contest page for ALL the details: https://www.education.com/contests/

Here are the basics of the contest rules

Students will need to do the following by October 31, 2019 to apply:

  • Obtain a completed consent form signed by the applicant’s parent or legal guardian.
  • Respond to the following prompt in the appropriate format (listed below): Describe a time when you were having so much fun, you didn’t realize you were learning something new!
    • Kindergarten students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write about what is happening, or ask an adult to write a sentence or two describing your picture.
    • 1st grade students: Create a piece of art (e.g. draw or paint a picture) and write 1‚Äď3 sentences about it.
    • 2nd grade students: Write a short story (5‚Äď8 sentences) and create at least one picture to illustrate it.
    • 3rd grade students: Write a short story, journal entry, or comic strip.
    • 4th grade students: Write a short story, journal entry, poem, or comic strip.
    • 5th grade students: Write a personal narrative, short story, poem, or comic strip.
  • Submit the above to our judges (via one of the following two ways):
    • Via email to contest@education.com.
    • Via standard mail to:
      Education.com
      401 East Third Avenue
      San Mateo, CA 94401
      Attn: Limitless Learners

Ta Da! Such a great opportunity!

My kids are not old enough for this contest, but Education.com has some great (and fun) resources for Pre-schoolers, too!

I’m excited to try some of the worksheets with my son, like this one!

Education, to the glory of God!
Soli Deo Gloria!

Finding My Style – A New Beginning

This post needs a little intro.

The last time I really felt confident about my personal style was when I was in college, about 5 years ago.
Since then, I’ve gotten married and had three kids. A lot has changed for me in a relatively short time. I am in a very different phase of life, and my college-student-style no longer works for me now as a mom-of-three-littles.
So, yesterday, I took my sister shopping with me to figure out my sizes (I have never actually shopped in women’s and didn’t know what size I am!) and get a better idea of what my style is.

After our trip, we decided two things:

  1. My style has definitely changed to something more “grown up”
  2. It’s still a work in progress!

I have a better idea of what I like, what is out there, and what fits me, but I haven’t really nailed it down yet. Maybe I never will, but that’s fine with me, because that keeps me from settling and pushes me to keep being creative.

I am not a big shopper, but I love a great sale, and there are some really good ones going on right now, including the Nordstrom’s Annual Sale coming up next week!

Here’s what I found that I liked:

First up, Francesca’s (which is having an online only sale of 30% off full-priced items site wide, and is having their semi-annual sale. You can really get some good deals on clearance items with this sale.)
This is my sister’s go-to store, so this was her pick to start us off. She pick out this top and mini-skirt. She really wanted to see me in a jean skirt! I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The fact it’s a mini-skirt and I’m bending down to take care of my kids all the time is a big reason why this length is a no-no for me right now. The shirt, however, I loved! The style, the material, and the color were a yes for me.

Up next, Nordstrom! (Their Annual Sale is coming up next week!)
My aunt worked at Nordstrom for a long time, and I kind of grew up shopping here with my family, so it’s kind of a favorite of mine. I feel pretty comfortable browsing here, and I like a lot of what I see.
We found pants at Nordy’s. I’m a fan of cropped, green pants apparently! Love the style of both the cargo pants and the printed drawstring pants. They are a bit on the casual side, comfortable, and cute.
The shirt looks cute, but, for the record, it is partially see-through (which is why I was trying on the black) yet the material traps your body heat and within ten minutes I was uncomfortably hot!

Finally, was Loft. Whenever I pass this store, I love what I see. I’ve just never been brave enough to go in and really look around, like to was “too grown up” for me. Well, lesson learned, I’m grown up enough for it, and I loved what I found here! It was definitely motivating to see that they were having a huge sale, too. Extra 60% off sale items! Yes, please.

Clearly, red and polka dots were the winners at Loft. I liked the polka dot wrap skirt as soon as I saw it, and once I put it on, I was in love.
The shirt is also a wrap style, not too low cut, and the flared arms just won me over. Oh, and the polka dots and stripes together? Yes, yes, yes.

Okay, now for the shocker (well, shocker for me). The last time I wore flared pants I was a pre-teen, and I hated the style. It made me feel even more awkward and skinny, like a literal bell. Hated it.
So, when my sister picked out these bright red, cropped, wide legged pants for me to try on, I was super hesitant. I almost just said “no, forget it, not putting them on”, but I did it. You know what? I liked them!
They make me look taller (rather than skinnier), hug my form in a flattering way, and I even liked the bright red color on me. Now, go figure they are a best seller at Loft too.

Thanks sis for pushing me out of my comfort zone!

I learned a little about myself on this little sister shopping trip, too.
I learned:
I like to be creative with clothes.
I like to shop for myself.
I tend to like a more sophisticated style, but comfort is still of primary importance to me.
I like the way I look in red.
I am a size smaller than I thought.
I need to work on my mirror selfie game.

And I should even seek to dress for God’s glory.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Family Vacation – Big Bear Lake, CA

Mountains, forrest, lake, great weather, small town feel with (all the amenities), and family friendly to boot! I’m not even kidding. We just spent a week up in Big Bear Lake, California, and it was a blast.

First of all, I love spending time with my family. There is literally nothing I’d rather be doing. We are so blessed to have such a close family. My siblings and I are so close, both in age and in relationship. It’s really a blessing. This past week, it was so sweet to see my kids playing with their cousin, she’s not quite 1 yet, but she is walking and she followed them all around. They kept calling to her to “catch me!” and she’d laugh and toddle down the hall after them.
The range of properties available to rent out in Big Bear is amazing too. We were able to fit my entire side of family under one roof, and we weren’t on top of each other. From little cottages to three story cabins, they have it! We stayed in the lovely, Evergreen Manor and all four generations enjoyed the house. I asked around and our favorite thing about this home in particular was the space in the living rooms and kitchen. My son loved that everyone had their own room, and that he could go from room to room and spend time with each person every morning.

Gorgeous! And this is just what we saw on the drive up!

Second, this location is awesome. I love the mountains, and this lake is in the heart of a beautiful valley about 7000 feet above sea level, so it’s just perfect to me. While we were there, the hottest it got was maybe 76 degrees, and the low maybe around 38 at night. My husband and I were day dreaming about living up there! So beautiful.
But not just that, the town itself is so cute, and really has everything.

  • Coffee shops (nearly 10 of them, including 2 Starbucks, but I like to stick to the places were the locals go, like Moonridge Coffee Company)
  • Breakfast places (a place called Dank Donuts was a personal favorite)
  • Restaurants (we had some good Thai food, and followed the locals to a burger joint that always had a line out the door called Get the Burger)
  • Groceries (we stopped by the local Vons at least once a day)
  • Parks and playgrounds
  • Hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities (skiing and such in the wintertime)
  • Ice cream parlor! (skip the Ben and Jerry’s and head for the local store “North Pole Fudge Co.” with their own ice cream and fudge! Yummy!)

You get the picture, there’s a ton to do for the whole family!

I think our favorite thing we did all week was the boat tour around the lake. Over at the Pine Knot Marina, the offer a tour of Big Bear Lake on a paddle wheel boat called Miss Liberty. During the ride around the entire lake, the skipper tells you all about the activities along the shoreline, the history of the lake and the valley, and even points out some lake front properties belonging to celebrities (don’t worry though, the boat if far enough away that everyone still has their privacy).
While on our tour, we passed by the home of Noel Blanc, son of Mel Blanc who was the original voice of many beloved cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and Barney Rubble. Noel Blanc was home as we passed by and came out on his deck with a mega phone! His father trained him to do the voices of all the characters he created, so Noel spoke to us like Bugs Bunny! He was super friendly, and turned out to be family friends of our boat’s skipper. Very cool! Really showed us the small town feel of this often popular resort town.

A close second for our favorite thing we did was visiting the Big Bear Alpine Zoo I’m an animal lover, and my kids, being so little, are big animal fans too. The zoo is all rescued animals, some are in the process of rehabilitation, others are permanently injured as to need human assistance for survival, or were found at such a young age that they never learned the skills necessary to be successfully released. It’s super cool!

We did tons of other family activities, too! Like game night after the littles were asleep, playing at the park, a water balloon fight, scavenger hunt, and a talent show! Ever seen Dan in Real Life? They do a family talent show in that movie and my family does it now, it’s super fun!

We want to go back during the wintertime! Although, I’m a little nervous doing snow with our kids so little. I’ve never done it before! Any tips, I’d welcome it!

How are you spending your summer? Hopefully surrounded by family doing fun, unique, “summer-only” kind of things!
Like boat tours with Bugs Bunny!

Special thank you to my family who helped me with all these pictures! I was usually holding a child and wasn’t able to get many pictures at all!

Soli Deo Gloria!