Monthly Archives: November 2011

“Be very careful never to forget what you have seen the Lord do for you. Do not let these things escape from your mind as long as you live. And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. “Deuteronomy 4:9

 

By: Melissa Pope

Did you know the Bible contains 242 references with a form of the word “remember”? How are you remembering what God has done for you? How do you pass that on to your children and grandchildren?

I like to scrapbook! To me it’s fulfilling and rewarding. I love knowing that the stories of my family are safe in albums for my children to have, enjoy and remember. I make a point of mentioning God’s blessings, provisions, creation and care for us. Giving handcrafted gifts that include pictures and memories is also rewarding.

Scrapbooking is one way that I develop my interests. It also requires that I plan pockets of time to do something that I enjoy. I’ve found digital scrapbooking to be quick and fun without the mess and baggage of traditional – which I still enjoy less frequently.

Dear Mama, Rest… Love, Me

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” Genesis 2:2-3

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Matthew 11:28-29a.

Dear Mama,

You need a break. You need some time to pursue your interests. You need to rest. Yes, you. “How?” you ask. I’ll give you some suggestions.

Love, Me

HOW

1)      Your husband CAN handle it. He’s not a babysitter, he’s the dad. If he does things differently than you would it’s not wrong. As a team you should agree that both of you need “you” time. Figure out the best way to make it happen.

2)      Partner with a friend or neighbor. You watch her kids; she watches yours.

3)      Babysitter! If you can’t afford one find a younger girl that can be a mother’s helper. Give her firm guidelines and have some activities ready.

WHY

1)      You need a break from your kids, and they need to learn they can get along without you. They can learn to trust.

2)      It’s important to maintain or develop interests apart from your children. Yes, being a mom is consuming in good and bad ways, but it shouldn’t be the entire definition of who you are.

3)      It’s important that you are a good example to your children. Taking time to exercise, maintain your health, read the Bible and trying new things are good things for your children to see you doing.

I know that I’ve made it seem simple in this short post. In some ways it is, but in some ways it isn’t. For some mamas it will take more work than others. The moms at Mosaic of Moms can try to give you specific suggestions if you want to send us your questions. And I’m not just talking to new mommies, you moms who have been at this for a while may need to re-evaluate.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:10-12

It might seem a little early to talk about Christmas presents, but since “the biggest shopping day of the year” (aka “Black Friday”) is in two days I thought I’d share how we do Christmas presents in our family. I know I am always looking for new and better ideas.

Before having kids my husband and I made a Christmas gift-giving commitment. After seeing the amount of presents our nieces and nephews received from grandparents and aunts and uncles, we decided we didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on toys for our children. It just isn’t necessary with the amount of presents they receive from the rest of the family.

After doing some research I found what I think is an ingenious idea of giving just three gifts like the Magi brought to Jesus. What a great way to not only prevent excess in the amount of presents we give but also redirect our kids back to the “real meaning” of Christmas! I originally found this idea in a book, but then I found this great article that expands the idea and takes into account the true symbolism of the gold, frankincense and myrrh Jesus received. (Go read it for more information and know that I acknowledge this can be kind of tricky with preschool-aged children.)

So, tweaking the gifts of the magi to work for our own family and combining it with some other family traditions, this is how our Christmas gift-giving goes down: 

We love our Christmas Pajamas! (Christmas Eve 2010 with my family)

 

On Christmas Eve, we all open one present and that one present is always brand new pajamas we immediately put on and take pictures in (see the picture above from last year). Then we sleep in them only to wake up and look cute as we open our presents on Christmas morning. (This idea comes from my side of the family and is something I don’t remember ever not doing.) Sometimes we get matching pajamas for the guys and matching pajamas for the girls. Sometimes they all coordinate. Sometimes they don’t match at all. Either way, it’s a long-standing tradition that I can’t imagine not continuing.

On Christmas morning, each of my kids gets three presents from daddy and mommy: one representing gold, one representing frankincense and one representing myrrh.  Because they are all six and under, they also still get one present from Santa. This present typically isn’t wrapped, which distinguishes it from the other three gifts and gets it out of the way first. (I know everyone has a different opinion about Santa, but my husband and I agree that as long as we are making it clear Christmas is about Christ there is no harm in allowing our kids to believe in Santa for as long as they choose to do so.)

The other thing we do– which is unrelated to Black Friday shopping—is, prior to Christmas, each family member chooses a charity or non-profit for us to give to on his or her behalf.  For example, last year my kiddos pooled their money and gave a goat to a family in Africa through World Vision.  I love all the options World Vision and similar organizations have for giving because they’re a great way to help your kids understand just how much for which they have to be thankful. When you explain that a child in Africa will be thrilled to get a goat so he can have milk to drink while they are getting toys for Christmas, it puts it all in perspective!

That sums up our Christmas gift-giving. The thing I love the most about this plan is I always know what my plan is. There is no worrying about buying the same amount of presents for each kid. It all evens out. And that alleviates a lot of stress.

So, whether you’re a Black Friday shopper or not, my prayer for you as this Christmas season officially begins on Friday is that you will remember in all the hustle and bustle to rejoice in the Christ Child and the Giver of all good things! Happy Thanksgiving (and happy shopping on Friday)!

 

Green-eyed Monsters

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30

Last Friday after picking up my first grade daughter from school, I asked about her day like I always do. With a a wistful voice and a sad look on her face, she told me her friend had gotten to a certain point level in Reflex Math. Noticing the envious tone, I asked her how many points she had. Not as many. She then informed me they keep track of their points on a white board in her classroom so they can see what everyone has achieved. I told her I was sorry and the subject changed.

But she didn’t forget. That weekend my sweet girl spent every free moment begging to use my laptop. When we told her she couldn’t be on the computer all the time (I don’t care if it’s math or not), she whined and cried and it became very clear that her motivation for doing Reflex Math had nothing to do with learning. She wasn’t going to be content until she surpassed her friend’s points.

After listening to her moan and groan most of the weekend about catching up with her friend, I opened up my Bible Monday morning and providentially read Proverbs 14:30. “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” I immediately thought to myself, why do we spend so much time comparing ourselves to our friends instead of focusing on what really matters? And even from such an early age?

Think about it. While at a play date we can do all of these things at once without breaking a sweat: Check out the fashionable and perfectly accessorized outfit of our friend and feel frumpy and fat in our jeans and t-shirt with the mommy badge of baby spit-up and slobber on the shoulder; watch said friend’s little girl–who is the same age as our own—politely share her toys and actually remember to say “please” and “thank you” without prompting while our two year old runs all over screaming like a banshee uttering unintelligible shrieks and grabbing the other kids’ toys; marvel at another friend’s ability to juggle being a doting wife who still puts love notes in the lunch she makes for her husband each morning, mothering three mildly mannered, always smiling children, keeping an immaculate and beautifully decorated home and baking up delectable and adorable Thanksgiving cookies that look like turkeys as we show up with a plate of store bought cookies and two kids in mismatched outfits full-knowing there is a tower of several days of dishes in the sink and a week’s worth of laundry on the floor at our house. Before we know it, the play date is over and we’ve missed out on a wonderful opportunity to participate in encouraging and edifying adult conversation because we were too busy stacking up our own weaknesses against our friends’ strengths.

Let’s be honest. We have all compared ourselves to someone at some point in our lives. And this comparison has sometimes driven us to take action that we might not otherwise take. Whether it’s working feverishly to gain more points than a friend, trying to dress more fashionably, attempting to bake from scratch, or even just getting the dirty dishes out of the sink before going to bed; acting out of envy eventually wears us out.

Maybe you do it every day. Maybe, like my daughter, it only happens when you are forced to stare at it in big, bold print on the “white board.” Whatever your “white board” may be, this week of Thanksgiving I want to encourage you to be thankful instead of comparing yourself to the people around you and feeling like you don’t measure up. Let’s not miss out because we are too busy coveting what everyone else has (which is a sin by the way; see Exodus 20:17). Let’s set ourselves free from our own expectations and the lies we have told ourselves (you know what they are) so we are open to what God has for us this holiday week.  Remember, a heart at peace brings life, but envy will eventually steal all our joy. Jesus came that you might have abundant life, in your mommy sweatpants and all! I pray you rejoice in that and in Him today!

We Have a Winner

We wrote down the names as people submitted their entries and assigned numbers to the names.  We used random.org to generate a number and the winner is Laurel Holler!  Here is what she said that she has to be thankful for:

“I am thankful that God uses the times when I am disciplining my children to shed light on areas that he wants to correct in me. So often I am convicted of what I am trying to teach my kids. So awesome though that God loves me unconditionally and has patience with me.”

Thank for all who participated and to Courtney of Living Peacefully Less Stressed for donating this great Little Carry-All Caddy from ThirtyOne.  Look for more giveaways in the future!