The Lid Is Coming Off The Box

Pink boxes 2

(FreeImages.com/NathalieDulex)

It was two years ago this April that the Lord did some major healing in my life.  I had a broken image of my identity and calling, and God restored that.  I remember when He showed me a picture of this beautifully-wrapped, pink gift.  He spoke to my heart and told me that He had a calling upon my husband’s and my life that was more beautiful than I had ever imagined!  I remember the tears and the healing those words brought to me.

The calling wasn’t because my husband and I are so wonderful or qualified in ourselves.  Rather, He qualifies the called. 

This year, I am seeing the lid coming off the gift of His calling upon our lives.  I am a bit nervous but also excited!  Humbled by the privilege of serving with Him! Humbled with the honor of bringing others to Him and sharing Him so that the “captives might be set free!”

Jesus has a calling upon each of our lives — a purpose that far exceeds our wildest dreams!

The calling is wrapped up in Himself — in His image.  Our destiny, worth, and image is tied within the gift of Jesus Himself!

Recently, my husband and I were having a conversation, and the Lord revealed with burning clarity the truth of why we need to know that our worth, identity, and purpose is in Jesus.

If we are looking for worth and identity in ministries, in missions, in a church, in relationships, in appearance, in education, in vocation, etc…, we will encounter a lot of rejection that we will take on as our own.  We will struggle with a lot of pride, comparisons, envy, judgment, hurt, and insecurity.

On the other hand, if we understand that our identity is in Jesus, we will be completely secure, fulfilled, and “whole.”  Why?  Because we will know this…

Jesus is our identity! 

Because Jesus is eternal, perfect, and unconditional, we can rest secure in Him — never feeling that our reflection is marred or rejected because of the opinion of someone else!

Let me restate that:

We can rest secure in Him — our true identity — because He is eternal, flawless, and secure, full of unconditional love!

Our identity is in Jesus!

Who He is is who we are in Him!

Advertisements

Gift Ideas For The Couple of Young Children

Since Christmas is not that far off, and I am already starting to think of Christmas gifts, I thought it might be helpful to give a list of gift ideas for the couple of young children.  Here’s the list that they don’t have the courage to give you but would love nevertheless.  The list contains everything from free to expensive so surely there is a gift idea in here that you may have never thought of you but that your adult children have.

1. Option A: Gift certificate to their favorite restaurant with $ for a babysitter.

2. Option B: Gift certificate to their favorite restaurant and you offer to babysit (if you can physically and live nearby)

3. Gift certificate to the young mother’s favorite hair-dresser and spa

4. Gift certificate for a pedicure

5. $ for Blockbuster Express rental and box of popcorn and option of adding a warm fleece blanket (couple size)

6.  Offering to babysit while they Christmas shop. Another option: $ to pay for a babysitter so they can Christmas shop and have a date night.

7. A homemade gift certificate for ironing their clothes (You could make a few of these to be redeemed at their choice.)

8. A homemade gift certificate for mending

9. A homemade gift certificate for weeding their gardens (if physically able)

10. A gift certificate for flowers and mulch. Additional option: A homemade gift certificate, offering to plant the flowers for them.

11. A homemade gift certificate offering to watch children while young mother cans fruit, jams, or veggies (if she likes to can)

12. $ to pay a babysitter so young mother gets a day off to clean, run errands, sleep, or do whatever

13.  Gift certificate for the young mother’s favorite clothing store (Moms need a new wardrobe piece every so often to feel energized.)

14. Gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret (for young mother).  Your son or son-in-law will be thankful.

15. $ discreetly given to your son or son-in-law to buy a piece of jewelry or roses for the young mother

16. $ for your son-in-law to attend a game of his favorite sport’s team

17. Gift certificate or $ for a Bed & Breakfast stay for the young couple, along with an offer to babysit or $ to pay a babysitter.

18. $ for them to hire a professional cleaning service to clean their windows once-a-year or offer to do this yourself

19. $ for hiring a professional cleaning service to come once-a-year to scrub hard areas: ceramic tile floors, light fixtures, radiators, fridges (behind them), stoves (tops, behind, inside) or Option B: Offer to do this yourself.

20. Offer to do touch-up painting.

21. Homemade gift certificate, offering to help your son or son-in-law with whatever household projects he wants to get done on a Saturday.

22. Homemade gift certificate, offering to trim bushes and hedges

23.  Spending $ for both — a lot of young couples don’t have any extras to feel like they can buy stuff like flowers, mulch, clothing, games, movies, toys, shoes, accessories, decorations, hobbies, books, etc…

24. $ for grand-children’s college accounts.

25. A well-written note of encouragement — no criticism is allowed.  In fact, avoid criticism as much as possible or altogether.  At this stage in the game, you are a resource for them to seek when they have questions.  If they come with a complaint, sympathize, very carefully offer advice, give lots of support and encouragement.

26. Notes of encouragement to your grand-children, along with specific prayers.  Avoid criticizing or “parenting” them.  Your relationship will stay positive as you do what grand-parents should do: “spoil.” “Spoil” in the sense of being generous with your time, resources, praise, love, physical affection, words of encouragement, prayers, play-time, and gifts.

27. Avoid any gossip about your adult children or grand-children among other family members or among outsiders.  “What goes around comes around.”

28. Homemade pre-mixed cookie ingredients (minus cold items) for easy making and baking or Option B: Pre-make cookie dough that they can freeze and use at their discretion.

29. Avoid giving grand-children over-doses of candy and sweets.  Some sweets are okay though (like homemade cookies).

30.  Offer to take a grand-child on a special outing (e.g. ice cream or to park). Even one less child can make a mother’s day easier.  Plus, it is connecting with your grand-child.

31.  Always affirm your adult children and never correct or criticize their parenting in front of the grand-children.  If there is an area of major concern, pray heartily and then with much wisdom seek to positively help in the situation.

32.  If there are major discipline issues, when parents are talking about it, you can offer to pay towards counseling sessions if they feel that would be a help.  Again, avoid any implications that you are criticizing them or their parenting or their children.

33. The dry ingredients pre-mixed or prepared for a soup meal, along with $ for meat to add if the recipe requires it.

34. $ towards a family vacation for them

35. Gift certificate for their favorite pizza place

36. Gift certificate for a game of mini-golf (couple or family)

37. Gift certificate for ice cream (Ritas, etc…)

38. Gift certificate for bowling (couple or family)

39. Gift certificate for a new set of towels and wash cloths and her favorite scent of body wash and lotion

40. $ for a new electronic gadget for the young father

41. Gift basket of fresh fruit, snacks, and chocolates

42. A new set of sheets for them (You’ll have to know their bed size and what colors/styles they like. Don’t go for the cheapest.  Go for quality.  They’ll appreciate the difference when they crawl between the sheets.)

43. A family Bible if they don’t have one.

44. $ for family pictures.  Go professional — not the cheapest available.

45. Pay attention to any comments about furniture, rugs, whatever that they apologize about.  It may mean they feel badly about that item and would really appreciate a replacement.  You’ll know whether this is something they could use or not. Offer $ to replace, if this is within your budget.

46.  Homemade gift certificates to offer babysitting (there could be a few of these for them to redeem).

47. Homemade gift certificate to make supper for them sometime (if you live close-by)

48. Homemade gift certificate, offering to do a day’s worth of laundry

49. Homemade gift certificate, offering to clean bathrooms

50. “His” and “Her” mugs, with hot chocolate packets or tea packets.

51. A packet of 10-20 crafts or more.  You assemble the supplies, cut, paste, whatever needs to be prepared, type instructions, and then put them in Ziploc bags with titles written on them.  This is a great idea for the busy mom who would love to do crafts with her kids but dislikes shopping, preparing, planning, and paying for them.

52. Two new dishcloths and two new dish-towels, with a homemade gift certificate attached.  The gift certificate should be an offer to wash a meal or day’s worth of dishes.
These are just some ideas.  Don’t feel that you have to do these or you are a terrible parent/grand-parent.  Just do what you can and are able to do/give.  The giving is all about the joy it brings to the receiver.  Give with an attitude of love and joy.  The best gifts you can give are your love and encouragement.  Have a Merry Christmas!

So My Kids Are Incredibly Creative

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I just love how creative kids can be!  I give them a lot of freedom to play, create, and craft as they like.  I am surprised sometimes at how much the boys love crafts.  I think it’s adorable how they love to make gifts, cards, games, etc… for the other members of the family.  They then love for us to go on a hunt and to find their creations.

This afternoon, Drew made a maze game for everyone.  He made little paper people and then rules for the game.  His rules were “Take turns.”  So cute!

Will made a game too that has a whole list of rules.  I loved all the funny spellings, but I could understand what he was trying to say.

Luke decided to make a dinosaur from a styrofoam bowl.  I was very impressed by how he decided to create his dinosaur.  If you look at the picture I am going to include, you will see the beginnings of his dinosaur.  I think his creativity is impressive!

Tonight, the boys had us go on a hunt to find all the Valentines they had created for us.  We found their gifts in the microwave, freezer, fridge, behind the fish tank, etc…  Each of their gifts were exclaimed over and received with great joy.  I love how the boys are learning to give generously and by using their own creativity.

We recently had friends over, and I was impressed at how the boys went through their toys and found books, stuffed animals, and other toys to give to their friends.  One of my sons even gave away a Christmas present we had given to him to his uncle at Christmas.  My eyes were a bit misty when I recognized this desire to share their very best with others.  Sometimes, they are so generous I have to reign them in a bit, or they’ll give away things we need.  🙂

Watching my children use their imaginations reminds me of those happy care-free days of my own childhood.  I can still remember vividly how real our play seemed.  It was almost as if we could taste the salty breeze and feel the wind whipping sails on our imaginary journeys.  I am so glad that my kids will have their own memories of imaginative play to recall.  How precious these “short” years are when my boys are still so little and my baby is still cradled in my arms!

A Genie Or A God?

The other day as I was considering Jesus’ time on Earth, I thought it was interesting how He had the power and abilities that fairy tales try to imitate and of which dreams consist.  How many fairy tales are about a fairy godmother, genie, prince, magic frog, magic fish, magic wand, etc.?  The dream is that some ordinary person is transformed into someone extraordinary.  Why do we all gravitate towards those stories?  Because, we all want to imagine it happening to us.  Why do people spend money at the lottery?  Why do people fill out sweepstake’s forms?  It all comes down to that we hope to have that one-in-a-million winning lottery ticket or have that one-in-a-million winning sweepstakes.  Why?  Because the thought of being a millionaire sounds like the answer to all our present woes.  Right?  Doesn’t money solve most problems?  Ask the former winners.  They just might show you something different.

If it’s not wealth, we all wish we were extraordinarily beautiful.  But wait!  Why then do the celebrities, if they marry, have marriages that normally end within the first year, if that.  Those who act like they have it all have so little in what really counts.

So if happiness isn’t found in beauty, fame, or fortune, what then?  Why then do we seek it so much?  Why then is wealth, prestige, and beauty what fairy tales present as the answer to “living happily ever after”?

Compare fairy tales to what Jesus did on Earth.  He had the power to grant those human desires of everyone.  I found it interesting though that nowhere is it mentioned that Jesus bestowed gifts or money upon the adoring crowds.  He did send Peter to find a coin in a fish’ mouth to pay taxes.  He did feed the hungry.  Mostly, we read that he healed the sick, dead, and maimed.  Above that yet, he always sought to heal the crowds spiritual needs.  By observing what Jesus did, we find what He found truly important and necessary to man’s true well-being.  Jesus showed that our spiritual well-being is the most important.  He also demonstrated that in order to meet spiritual needs, you also have to meet genuine physical needs often.  He didn’t spend all His time meeting physical needs, but He did a lot of that in order to then meet the individual’s spiritual needs.

Perhaps, we can learn from this that it’s not about the gifts we receive, it’s not about who has the best job, it’s not about having the nicest things, it’s not about being the prettiest or most popular.  Perhaps, it’s time, we made the change from fictitious fairy tales about genies to faith in a living God.  What do our dreams and priorities reveal about us?

As Christmas rapidly approaches, may I be reminded that my happiness is not found in the gifts I receive but in the best Gift of all — the Lord Jesus, my Savior and God!

Do Not Forbid Them!

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that from time-to-time, we all “miss the boat” when it comes to viewing children the way God does.  Do you remember reading how the disciples wondered why Jesus would bother with the children — how they tried to keep these less “worthy” or bothersome individuals from Jesus?  No wonder, right?!  I mean kids are noisy.  They are embarrassing at times.  Kids are inefficient with their time.  They make messes.  They negatively reflect us. I bet there were a number of parents that told their kids to stay in the back of the crowd and to be quiet and to put on their best behavior so Jesus would be impressed (with their parenting skills).  As the hours passed and the children grew restless, tired, and hungry, I bet the adults started to grumble, to whisper, and to make disparaging remarks.  I bet there were comparisons going on — among the parents present.  Parents were probably trying to compare how well their kids did, would have done, or were doing under the same circumstances.  The children continued to do what children do — play noisily, remind their parents that they were hungry, make messes, and fall asleep. Yet, Jesus seemed to be more impressed with the children than with the adults. The irony of it all!  Those who were trying to impress didn’t.  Those who weren’t, did.

What did impress Jesus concerning the children?  He mentions their faith.  Children have the ability to love without hypocrisy.  They trust without doubting.  They are transparent, unreserved, vulnerable.  It is their passions that reveal our own.  It is their transparency that reflects back to us what is in our own hearts: our own sins that we guard so closely.

Children are inconvenient for these reasons.  They create waves in our well-ordered days.  They create messes in our orderliness.  Theycreate chaos in our quiet.  Yet…  Jesus said, “Do not forbid them!”  In fact, He commanded us to become like them…  to be transparent, trusting, vulnerable, and unreserved in our devotion to Him.  Jesus in one simple sentence peels back the protective layers we have built around our hearts to reveal what is in them.

Perhaps, this is why our society perceive children as a burden.  We try to limit them, forestall them.  We feel they are better in small “doses.”  Horrors if we should have more than the quota or closer together than the formulas our professors have calculated is best for spacing!  What a bother if we should be inconvenienced by them!  We want them in our timing, in our spacing, in our numbers!  Yet in a twist of irony, God sometimes intervenes and “messes” things up a bit, letting us know He is in control.  This doesn’t mean we don’t make decisions that we feel God is leading us to make and that are best for His leading for our family.  What it does mean is that our hearts should be treasuring one of the greatest gifts that God has given to us: the gift of life that enters so vulnerably, so beautifully, so innocently, so trusting…

May He find within my own heart, a child-like heart that unreservedly throws myself into His arms, desiring just to feel the pat of His hand on my head that whispers to the deep aching depths of my heart the words of my Heavenly Father say, “I love you completely, perfectly, without any criteria.”  As I raise my head to gaze up into His eyes, the darkness of my own doubts, fears, frustrations, and sorrows melt away in the brilliant, glistening light of His love!

Car for a Wedding Gift!

My sister-in-law is getting married in just 15 days!  Of course, her wedding has been a topic of conversation lately with making plans for the happy occasion.  At one point while we were discussing the wedding, Will asked, “Is she getting a new car?”  We were slightly confused until we asked a few more questions.   We realized that our son thought when the happy couple rode away in their decorated car that the car was a gift too (presents always have bows and ribbons, right?).