Giving Thanks in *all* circumstances {even the tough ones…}

The day has come and gone to give thanks.
December does not carry the expectation of giving homage for that. one. day.

but Thanksgiving is more than a Thursday, it is a lifestyle.

The scent of turkey and stuffing has dwindled.
Full of goodness, the pounds have been gained.
The dishes are washed up and put away after holding the delightful meal.
Loved ones have gone back to work, school, or their own home, some miles away.
Murmurs echo… ‘Who were the Pilgrims?’

The flood of thankfulness on social media has all but vanished…
and we are left with a decision. 
To give thanks in *all* circumstances {even the tough ones…}
To give thanks *all* the time {even when it is no longer Thanksgiving…}

When the tingly thankful touchy turkey feelings have diminished, and we are left with the reality of going back to work, school, chores, appliances breaking down, car trouble, stressing about money, caught up in Christmas drama, kids screaming, spouses arguing, sickness, depression, loneliness, losing loved ones, missing family far away … we are left with a decision.

When the voices shout ‘You are entitled! 
There is a whisper … Give Thanks. 
When the stores scream ‘Buy this!’
There is a pull … Give Thanks.
When the culture displays ‘It’s all about YOU!’
There is a draw … Give Thanks.
We live as if we are entitled to everything.
We glorify selfishness and call it success. 
We expect good things because we are ‘good people’.
The truth is – we do not deserve anything. I pray we will be content.
The truth is – selflessness is honorable. I pray we will be humble.
The truth is – ‘good people’ do not exist. I pray we will be grateful people. 

Give Thanks in *all* circumstances {even the tough ones…} 
When you are angry.
When you are full of hope.
When you are worrying.
When you are full of worship.
When you are weeping.
When you are full of joy.
When you are drowning.
When you are walking.  
When you are empty.
When you are fulfilled.
When you are sowing.
When you are reaping.
When you are in bondage.
When you are fully free.
When you are existing.
When you are fully living.
When you are scraping.
When you are fully thriving.
When you are dying.
When you are fully renewed. 
When you are lost.
When you are fully found. 

Give Thanks Always.
and this is tough to truly live, but. we. can.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in *all* circumstances {for this is the *will of God* in Christ Jesus for you}.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

In Him, Leslie 

Halloween

Boo. 

It’s that time of year for costumes, candy corn and creepers to come out of the closet.  

Orange lights are blazing and fake spiders are spinning webs all over my neighborhood while kids everywhere are gearing up for the night of their lives, dressing up and skipping from door to door asking their stranger neighbors for candy which will eventually lead to the demise of their teeth.
aaaand…It’s that time of year for some of us to debate about whether or not we will allow our kids to trick-or-treat gather and hoard loads of candy they receive from the stranger neighbors.

In years past our family has celebrated 10-31 as just another day where we hibernate making our home into a cave from the hours of 6-8pm. We close all the doors, turn off all our lights, lay on the floor and tell our kids not to make a peep. So no one will know we are home.

Low and behold, we would still get knocks on our front door. Our neighbors weren’t fooled. The darkness and silence didn’t stop them from knocking on the door. Still, we ignored them.

We have also avoided the neighborhood trick-or-treat dilemma by truly leaving the house and attending a harvest party or trunk-or-treat at our church.

This year our family is doing something different. We are hosting a party in our garage and decorating with a carnival atmosphere. We are dressing up, passing out candy and popcorn. We hope to engage with our neighbors beyond the ring of the doorbell, opening the creaky door, hearing trick-or-treat and flashing them a smile while throwing candy in their bag. We hope to see our neighbors hidden under costumes, masks and makeup. We hope to invite our neighbors into our lives and begin to know them beyond the facade of fun.

Hmmm… but our family doesn’t even like Halloween. Our kids don’t even care about costumes (well, sometimes they dress up), or candy (well, sometimes they eat it), or creepers (well, never). We don’t even consider 10-31 a holiday. It’ll be just another manic Thursday… oooh wee oh.  (You’ll get that reference later)

So. You might love Halloween, you might hate Halloween, or you might fall somewhere in between. I don’t care. 
What I do care about is considering the craze of Halloween. 
This year, consider…

Consider the candy. 
Can we pass out healthy candy? Well, no. It doesn’t exist. But don’t freak out about what your passing out. And consider what your kids are receiving. Our kids know their candy limits. We usually throw most of it away by Thanksgiving. What a waste. Consider the waste and limit the intake.

Consider the costumes.
Seriously, consider the costumes. Their cost. Their effort. Their energy. Most people have already planned or purchased their costumes by now… but if not, consider recycling something you already have. Consider a costume swap. Consider what you allow your kids to dress up as. Are they appropriate costumes? Okay, I’d better stop there or I’ll be labeled as (gasp) judgmental (if I haven’t already).

Consider your convictions.
10-31 is just another day for some. They give it no more thought past buying the costumes and the candy. For others, it is greatly debated whether or not they will be involved a little, a lot, or at all. At what level are you celebrating Halloween? Consider what it means to celebrate this day. You can google the meaning behind the roots of this particular day and the celebrations of its origins. Consider your convictions. Don’t do something or buy candy and dress your kids up, just because everyone else is doing it. Maybe you need a night to shut off the lights, and lay silent on your living room floor.  Maybe you love spending your money on costumes and candy.  Maybe your family is being called to take a greater part in your community beggars night.

Consider the craze.
There is a craze in anticipation of 10-31, with sales close to the shopping craze of Christmas. Nothing is worth stressing over. Especially this day of the week we call Thursday. So Consider… 
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colosisans 3:17 

In Him, Leslie

What are your plans on 10-31?

 

Strict Parents

yes.

we are those parents.
the ones who won’t allow their children to watch certain movies. even some cartoon movies
the ones who won’t allow their children to play by themselves in the front yard. (sorry. don’t even trust the ice cream truck).
the ones who won’t allow them to have dessert until after they eat their vegetables. every. single. day. (thankfully they actually like vegetables…and dessert).
the ones who won’t allow them to go into public restrooms by themselves. no way.
the ones who won’t allow their bedroom doors to be closed. especially when friends are over.
the ones who won’t allow them to have their own cell phone. or computer. or television.
the ones who won’t allow them to have an intagram, facebook or any other social media account. until they are (at least) 30 years old. 
the ones who won’t allow their children to have sleep overs. (with the exception of very rare occasions)
we are those parents. 
the hyper parents. 
the over-protective parents.
the controlling parents.
the boundary setting parents.
the strict parents. 
yes. we are. 

most of the time, we feel like our family is out of this world, like we don’t belong here. [and we don’t]. 
we don’t live under a rock. or wear amish clothing. 
call us old fashion.
call us weird and different.
we are living opposite of mainstream culture. and glad to be.
when i was in the 5th grade, my parents allowed me to have a sleep over [after i begged them]. a small group of my girlfriends came over and the fun began. later, we went into my room and closed the door. unbeknownst to me, a few of the girls had invited over a few boys (one of them was my neighbor) to my house. my bedroom was at the front of our house with two slender windows. the next thing i know, they are in my front yard, tapping on my window, sneaking into my bedroom, thru the window. it happened so fast, i didn’t know what to do. i was internally panicked. i felt uncomfortable, but didn’t have the guts to kick them out. 
thankfully, my mom did. 
she knew. she came to my door and knocked, “Leslie, I’ve made some popcorn. Come and help me with it.” 
whew. she came to my rescue. 
she came in the way of grace, compassion and care. 
she knew.
she knew i was uncomfortable with the boys being there. 
she knew it was not my idea. 
she trusted me enough to know it would never happen again.
she took me out of my room so i would not be embarrassed when she confronted me about the boys being there. 
she then cleared them out and made them go home. 
she bore the weight of the whining and complaining from the girls whom (i thought) were my friends.
freedom was not my being allowed to have a sleep over with boys sneaking in my room and us girls being able to do whatever we wanted. 
in one bold move, my mom showed me what rescue and true freedom look like. 

so yes. 
we are the parents who won’t allow our children to have or attend sleep overs. (with very rare exceptions).
we gladly rock the label of strict parents. 
we know our kids. we communicate constantly. we answer their endless ‘why’ questions… to help them understand the fullness of our decisions. we are protecting our family and our home. kids need boundaries. our kids are not being denied freedom. they are freely living under grace-filled guidelines. deep levels of trust, honor and respect are being built between us.  
even as adults, we need a rescuer. we need a protector. we need JESUS. and we need to be parents who will protect and set boundaries. no one else will be that for our children. in HIM, rescue, boundaries and protection will bring true freedom. a freedom that comes from death and brings forth a life we can truly, freely live.   
In Him, Leslie
*It’s your ball – What are your thoughts on strict parenting? Please share… 

What kind of Mom am I?

Most Moms, sometime during their motherhood, have a complex (or Mom-plex) with their identity as a Mom.
What kind of Mom am I?
As soon as the baby is born, the crisis comes. Must. Decide. Right. Now.
The pressure is on. The expectation is there. What kind of mom will I be?

Beeecause…In 2013, you can be any mom you want to be – ALL the MOM magazines say so:
the best Housekeeper
the most Organized
the Designer
the Scrap-booker
the Baker
the Runner
the Seamstress
the Photographer
the Writer
the Farmer
the most Fashionable
the best Documenter
the Angry mom
the Weary mom 
the Funny mom
the Kindest mom
the Friendliest mom
the going to School mom
the Working mom…

Aaaand… adding fuel to the fire of a Mom-Plex is you must also be a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest Mom.

Aaaand… the labels we attach to the Mom-Plex crisis in acronym form:
SAHM – stay at home mom
MOPS – mother of preschoolers
WM – working mom
MOT – mother of teenagers
OM – older mom
GM – grand mom
(YGTP – you get the picture…it’s enough to make every mom want to hide in the bathroom. forever.)

We tend to attach to the label we identify with when we are at our best and worst.

WHY MOMS???
Why do we do this to ourselves???
Stop the madness. 
It’s a WOT – waste of time. WOM – waste of money. and WOE – waste of energy.
(These are acronyms Adam and I made up a long time ago to make ourselves laugh in the face of situations we like to put labels on)

This week I had the opportunity to speak to a lovely group of MOPS ladies (who also happen to have preschoolers… and other children of various ages) at their MOPS meeting.
I was dressed up and ready to go as a fashionable mom, looking super ‘put together’ with my scarf and all. I packed up my kids, dropped off the two oldest at school, and headed to the meeting with my preschooler. As soon as I was on the road, I realized I only had one earring in. I almost turned around to go back home and get it, but I didn’t want to be late for the meeting (I’m late for almost everything, and this time I was trying really hard to be on time). So I turned around from almost going back home and ended up behind a tractor. Going 2 mph. Seriously? And it was raining. People in Ohio can’t drive in the rain. Oh well. 

It wasn’t worth getting angry. Years ago, I would’ve flipped out.
I had done that prior to a MOPS meeting once before…

When Soleil was a year-ish old, I was involved in the MOPS group at our church. I was running late to one of the meetings (no surprise) and stressing out (also, no surprise) when my stress was heightened to the point of anger (again, no surprise). I boiled over in a temper tantrum much like a two year old and kicked our kitchen cabinet. I thought I had broken my toe. I was angry enough to kick my kitchen cabinet because I was running late to a MOPS meeting? Really?! It made no sense what.so.ever. The last place I should be stressed out because I’m running late because I can’t pull my mom-crap together is a meeting. FOR MOMS. 

When I arrived (late), I hobbled in, looking weary and much like a stressed out mom. Perfect. I’m at a Moms meeting. So I confessed my plight to one of my mom friends. She laughed at me and told me it made her feel better to know I had anger issues, and to know she wasn’t the only stressed out mom who runs late to Mom meetings.   

Whew. This time was different. Miraculously I made it on time to speak at the MOPS meeting, in spite of the tractor and the rain… with my one earring, my one preschooler, and my heart to share my story. 
Me. And my one earring.

Just be who you are created to be… a mixture of all (or none) of the above… A Beautiful Mess. 

Moms. You’ve heard it and read it before. But you don’t believe it. We don’t have to have it all together.  In fact, if you do (supposedly) have it all together (which I highly doubt is even possible), it’s probably because you’re spending too much time on yourself and not enough time with your kids. Being a MOM.

The more honest we are with ourselves, the better Moms we will be. Today, we can proudly wear any kind of mom label we want to… but there’s something deeper… A stirring to be the Moms we are created to be. Maybe it’s something as simple as admiring the kind of mom your Grandma was, or aspiring to be a Little House on the Prairie Mom, like Caroline Ingalls. You don’t have to have a Mom-Plex. Shed the Mom labels you’ve found yourself tagged by, if they don’t reflect who you truly are. There is freedom. Ask. Pray. Seek. to be the Beautiful Mom-Mess you are created to be. 

In Him, Leslie

Facebook for 30 year olds …

I signed up for Facebook in 2007. When I was 30 years old. 

Like most people, I signed up for Facebook to compare myself to other people… aaaand to be compared to other people.  
After all, that is how Facebook started… Comparing one college girl to another.
I just love that part of Facebook, don’t you?
hahaha…
Really, I signed up for FB because one of my close friends had just taken a trip to Alaska. As we were talking on the phone about her trip (remember the good ol’ days of using the phone to talk with your friends?), she told me about her trip pictures being on her FB account, and once we became FB friends I would be able to see her pictures.
My first response was, “Is this like having a Myspace account?” because that seems like a huge waste of time. [little did I know…]

Our very first FB profile picture. Awe… #memories.




So. As with every major decision in our lives, Adam and I discussed having a FB account. [and yes – to have, or not to have FB – was a major decision.] Wisdom, people. 

We decided on a joint account. A few friends have called us lazy… but we know better.

Shortly after signing up, we made lots of new “friends”.
At first, we were friended by and friending family and friends who lived in Oklahoma, NYC and other places we have lived. It was fun and exciting to share our lives and photos with loved ones we didn’t see or talk to every day.

We accumulated more friends… more and more friends who lived near us and were already involved in our lives. That’s when FB really changed for us. I even warned some of my friends (the ones I talk on the phone with) who didn’t have a FB yet…
Warning: Use FB with caution – It will change things. 
Now, I’m the first to admit I’m not always a very good friend, but I tried to warn them.

Whether you are under (or over) 30 years old…
It will suck you in.
It will waste your time.
It will change things…
It will change the way you see people.
It will change your expectations of people.
It will affect your emotions, your thoughts, and (for some) even the way you live out your day to day activities.
It will impact your curiosity (and we all know what that did to the cat).
I wonder what Susie Q is up to? Hmmm… I’ll just check her FB page.
How many ‘likes’ did my picture get?
How many comments?
Look how many friends I have!
Click. Click. Click. Accept. Accept. Accept.
Isn’t my status the best. status. eeeeever???

Facebook will cause you to compare and contrast your life – to others lives – in ways you never thought were lurking inside your brain. 

I do know of a few people in 2013 who are over 30 years old without a FB account… Yes. these people do exist. They are my friends. They live in houses (not caves). In America. They have the internet. They know full well that FB exists. And they live without it. And I applaud them.

I applaud them for resisting the temptation and cultural pressure to join FB. 
Facebook gives us access to each others lives with a freedom we were never meant to have (and certainly don’t need). And we freely give the key to each of our FB friends to unlock the door and peer inside our lives, leaving comments and likes, or sometimes just perusing and never commenting or liking, whenever they please. 

I don’t think Facebook is a good idea if you’re under 30 years old… or over 30 years old.

[Sooo, if you’re so annoyed with FB, why do you have a Facebook account?]

My sentiments exactly, I’m getting to that…

Can I live without FB? I’ve asked myself… and the answer is No.
I still want to use our FB account. But I want to use it wisely.
I don’t want to be caught up in the comparison trap FB originated from.
We have changed the way we use our FB account to include more wisdom
Wisdom for what we allow ourselves to see and react to.
Wisdom for how much time we spend posting and perusing.
Wisdom for the amount of time we spend scrolling down the screen.
Wisdom for who we give our FB page key to.

Having FB wisdom will look different for every user… 

So. Proceed with caution and use Facebook wisely.

C’mon. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about Facebook…
What ways are you using FB wisdom?  Share your ideas!

In Him, Leslie