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The Secret of Living Large

Lisa West - Saturday, August 13, 2016




I have a secret wish to stand beneath a giant Redwood tree in California and look up.  I want to lean into the tree and put my arms out as far as I can and feel the strength of an ancient beauty and wonder about its Maker.


LIVING AND LEADING


Our world is so complex and painful right now.  Most of us would see ourselves as caring, purposeful people. We are busy working jobs, caring for homes and families, paying mortgages, respecting the law. Giving to the needy where we can.


Sometimes this in itself is a pretty demanding process. Add to it the struggles of our nation and the nations of the world.  How do we navigate this intense passageway in our personal and national history?


I have been listening to Peter Scazzero’s book, Emotionally Healthy Leader, and pondering some of his words of wisdom.  He says our OUTWARD life is sustained and supported by our INNER life.


The entire structure of my living and leading in my home and community rests upon the foundation of my interior being. Speaking to pastoral leaders, Scazzero says it’s easier to lose yourself in the process of manipulating an institution (like a church or business) than it is to face and work with your own soul.


Ouch and wow.


WISDOM FROM A TREE


Which brings us back to the California Redwoods. These beauties reign majestic at 300 feet tall and live 500-700 years. It takes 8 people arm to arm to surround one. While this towering wonder of nature astounds the mind on the surface, I think there is something even more amazing and breathtaking to consider. 


All that 300 feet of height and 30 feet diameter and girth is COMPLETELY and equally matched BENEATH the earth’s surface by a MASSIVE root system.  


Maybe you have heard the analogy of the mighty oak tree clinging fiercely to the side of the mountain with a deep tap root that has pierced and smashed through the rocks to find the hidden aquifers. I love this picture, too. It has helped me weather some tough places in life.


It is interesting to know though that God has created different types of root systems for varying terrains.


Can you guess what type of root system is capable of anchoring and sustaining a Giant Redwood?  Amazingly true...that these roots are only 6 feet deep into the earth. The difference? They spread out all around the tree to the length of 100 feet along earth’s crust. This is a massive surface area for drinking in water and minerals. (For a profound scripture about this, check out Psalm 1 in the Bible.)


Ok, now comes the coolest part! The roots of the entire forest WEAVE together underground to create a powerful anchoring network of trees which sustains them together in fierce storms.


TWO BIG IDEAS


I see God has written two critical ideas into this ancient wonder for us.


1. We need a vigorous, vital inner life connection to the Sustainer of life in order to stand our ground and fulfill our purpose in this world.


2. We need to weave our lives together with other Redwoods for stability and strength.


TO PONDER


How is your root system today? Can you see areas where you might need to stretch and grow your inner life?


What will it take for you to connect to other Redwoods for stability and strength? 


Please consider sharing something from your personal story or habits or a comment to foster a conversation on this topic. We make each other stronger. 


Father, please help us to tend to our hidden roots as much as to the outward missions and responsibilities of our lives. You are the Creator and Sustainer of all things and You are for us. Amen


August Ideas for Kids

Lisa West - Saturday, August 06, 2016



Hi, friends! By this time in the summer your idea bank might just be starting to empty out a bit. That used to happen to me mid-summer and I would be scouring for inspiration.  Here are a few of our favorite thoughts to top up your tank…


ADVENTURES


Water table/Water Balloons/Water Sandbox


Creek walking/ Or a DIY MUD RUN – Make it the Muddiest Awfulest Best Day Eva’…towels, grungy clothes are a must


Free local concerts, Park Playhouse in Albany, Museum of History and Art http://www.albany.com/events/kids/


Dance/Instruments – make your own, rent some movies or DIY videos or invite a dancer friend to give you and your kids lessons


County Fair, Garden Tours


Pony Rides or Lessons – Saturdays at Camp Pinnacle http://www.camppinnacle.org/


Star Gazing – blankets, munchies, telescope and binoculars, constellation books, bug spray 


GAMES


  • Game Night – Bananagrams – fast paced racing word game like Scrabble without scorekeeping

  • Card Games - Spoons, Rook

  • Dice – Farkle, Quirkle, Host a Yahtzee Marathon

  • Take great pictures and teach them how -  https://www.shutterfly.com/23-kids-photography-tips


KITCHEN FUN


Kids’ Cooking – Get a kids’ cookbook at the library and teach cooking skills

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/recipes-for-kids/cooking-with-kids.html


Make your own Ice Cream Sundaes


Let the kids surprise you with making a family meal – smile and enjoy it, no matter what it is!


CREATIVE FUN


Make a Scrapbook or a collage of the past school year or all the summer fun you have had together


Frame Your kids artwork and hang it somewhere to show it off


Make Tie Dye Shirts for the whole family


We would love to hear one of your favorite summer activities in the comments today!  If you think this list could help other families, perhaps you would consider sharing it on FaceBook?


Grace to you, Lisa

Come, Let Me See You

Lisa West - Saturday, July 16, 2016



The 2010 version of the ancient fable, Robin Hood, had some interesting twists. Please know right up front, as a movie, this is not one to watch with kids or teens or without the remote. There are definitely disturbing, gruesome and immoral elements.


There is a particularly touching scene between Russell Crowe and Max von Sydow which sticks in my mind, though and brings us to our thought today.


Crowe plays a common soldier, Robin Longstride, come home to England after the death of King Richard in battle. Longstride carries the sword of a fallen knight, Robert of Loxley, to his aged and blind father, Sir Walter.


When Longstride arrives, he quietly presents the sword to Sir Walter along with the revelation of his son’s death in an ambush. Sir Walter is, of course, shaken by the news.


As it happens, in fairytale fashion, there is more to Longstride’s identity and history with the Loxley family than is publically known, which Sir Walter realizes when he hears his guest’s name. Dialogue reveals that Longstride’s father had died when he was a very small boy and there is some mystery to it, but the blind old patriarch does not disclose his secrets ‘til a bit later in the story.


Longstride stands before Loxley, ready now to leave having fulfilled his promise, when Sir Walter says to him, “Come, let me see you.” These are gripping words to hear from a man with no physical sight, as the only way for him to “see” will be to feel.


Longstride consents to this request and steps closer. Sir Walter places his hands first on the younger man’s shoulders to determine his height. From there he reaches up to slowly, tenderly feel cheeks and face and brow. Loxley remarks that the man before him has something of a noble Saxon brow and asks him to come into the castle and rest and have dinner with them.


I have wrestled with using this story from a movie which some might find offensive as a launching point, but choose to press on because there is something to be said for really seeing.


"Come, let me see you."


It makes me wonder today, about how well we are “seeing” the people in our lives. Are we "seeing" God.


Personally, I am practicing the art of slowing down to see. This involves both pouring out our hearts and listening and looking with the eyes of the heart.


Perhaps you would be willing to "see" for a moment with me...


****************************************


The radio announcer is telling of another killing in the streets. Ugg. Again. 


Next the news of a devastating international incident of terror in France.  I turn it off and feel the grief climb up my shoulders and neck. Air. I need air. I head out to the street to walk and talk with God.


Where are You, God? The world is on fire. It's awful. Where are You? My fist is clenched. Hot tears spill down.


Here. Right, here.


But my eyes can’t see…


Here, love. I am here.


I stand still on the side of the road. Close my eyes for a moment. Ah, that’s right. If I slow down, my heart can see.


Lord, our nation is in turmoil. Nations are fracturing and churning. Oh, God, it's so awful.


I know. I see, too. 


The nations need healing.


You are here. I start to breathe again. 


Don’t fret, love of Mine. People rage and contend. I am still here. I am still God.  I am still love.


Do you see? Here, let’s look.


Do you see the light and fire and joy in those young eyes? The delight and comfort between friends over a simple meal? 


Do you see the mercy extended through helping human hands to those who suffer?  I am here.


Do you see the mountains? The rivers? The sun rising? I am here.


Do you see the Cross? The empty tomb? The deeds and truths recorded by the writers of old?


I am here.


There will be hard days with the good. There are people who will need you to be present to see into their souls…wounded, anxious, paralyzed, disappointing or disappointed. We can work together to see into the story of years and relationships to understand them better.


You don’t need to know all there is to know.  Don’t have to have all the answers.  Don’t need to know all the questions, either. 


There is enough wisdom and love in Me for all of that. I will show you what you can do to make a difference. 


Come, let Me see you.


**********************************************************


He sees.  He knows. He is here. We can walk and work with Him, whatever the day brings.


Can we find some place in this day to slow down and respond to our loving God? To be seen? To see? To make a common place holy with our abiding? To be filled with the life and love of our seeing God?


He is grace and peace for all of us today, Lisa

The Art of Building Your Kid

Lisa West - Friday, July 08, 2016


These days, Bill and I find our hearts weighing which ideas and goals are the most important for our lifetime. We recognize there are more ideas than we can possibly accomplish with our own skill and strength. Do you ever feel like that? Lots of possibilities, just trying to decide and need a few more hands?


Coming from a background of hard work helped us establish a simple, comfortable life and home for our family. We can also see that in years past we often felt intensely responsible to control the work process to get the quality we desired. This often led to us doing the projects ourselves. 


It worked, but at times it made our world small, kept others from learning and ultimately wore us out. In recent years we have found that God empowers us to create trust and friendship and community when we decide to work with Him and share our skills with others.


TAKING TIME FOR ONE ON ONE


At the moment, I am having a unique opportunity for an eye-witness view of that process.


My husband is usually at work, but today he is off and his voice is filtering up through the floor boards of this old house this morning.


Bill is doing one of those so-simple-you-could-almost-miss-it things he has learned matters above pretty much everything else.  A teen aged friend has come over to mow our lawn and they are taking a few minutes just to talk about life.


When we get a chance to hire young people for some of the odd tasks around here, we try to pass on skills and knowledge to help fit them for their future. It’s been our practice to dedicate a bit of the paid time we have with them to gift them with some mentoring.  This idea came from Dave Ramsey, actually, who offered his staff a half hour of leadership training each week on the clock and they could stay for another half hour on their own time if they wanted to. If you know his story, he’s built a world-class team to help families get out of debt.


As I write, Bill is at the kitchen table having this young friend read aloud from a book on practical management and talking through the concepts with him.  Now Bill is offering to loan him the book. Among many things, I love my husband for caring and for seizing the opportunity to make this more than just a work day for this lad.


HOW TO GET STARTED


How about you?


Is there some place in your week for mentoring and talking with your kids, grand-kids or even neighbor kids, whatever age they may be?


It doesn’t have to be a drudge or a daily thing to have an impact.  It works best to keep it light.  You could say, “Hey, I have been thinking about you.  I have this cool book you might like. Could we spend a few minutes reading and discussing it?”


The idea here is to stir up their thirst for learning by your friendship. Keep it short. 10-15 minutes should be sufficient. It’s good to avoid lecturing or monopolizing. Ask a simple, open ended question like, “Do you agree with this author? I’d love to hear what you think.” Or, “Do you think this author’s idea could work in your life?” Sometimes kids need time to think. If it’s tough for them to respond, you can ask them to think about it and share when an idea comes to them. You may be surprised by their interesting thoughts.


When you are done, you could say, “That was fun. Maybe we could do this again. Would you like to use this book or possibly you have one you’d like better?” 


Maybe you already have a habit of helping your older children and teens in this way or have ideas for experiments of your own. It doesn’t have to be a book at all. You could share a hobby or home project instead. This works for all ages of kids and teens if you pick something age appropriate.


Can you see how this could help to build strength into a young heart? Can you think of someone who might be just waiting for you to make some time for a little one-on-one? Heaven knows, our world needs it now more than ever.


It would be a pleasure to hear from you about this post. Your comments might even be an inspiration to another family today!


PS - There are a number of good books linked to Amazon on the resource page that you may find helpful. A particularly idea-packed, short and delightful read is Parenting from Your Strengths by Tooker and Trent


What's More Important than Love?

Lisa West - Saturday, July 02, 2016




“Reduce me to love”...a tiny phrase, from I’m not sure just where, echoes around softly in my busy thoughts.


In my imagination, a pot of tomato sauce emerges on the stovetop and simmers all day. It’s steaming off the water, capturing the savory tomato goodness.  The sauce has been “reduced.” Now the flavor remains with the rich pulp.


"Reduce me to love."


THE MESSY, BEAUTIFUL REALITY


Our dining room table is covered with tool bags from my last job and scraps of wood needing to be drilled for a client to hang her pots and pans.


There’s a notebook of important papers and details for a friend working through a new transition in his life next to it. A flashlight. Some keys.


A pile of bills for June sprawls across my desk, needing to be paid before June is gone.


There’s an idea for a wild and colorful, personal invitation for the summer family event percolating in the back of my mind.


On the table by the door an enticing book about children’s small groups and my Bible wait for me to take my next walk.


On my bed, two loads of laundry invite me to fold them.


How are things at your house? Bet you have some piles sometimes, too.


In all the practical goodness of each object or task that beckons us today, may one thought continue to find its way from the depths.  There is a person on the other side of each one. A precious, “you-matter-more-than-anything-person.”


Teach us, Father. Your ways…Your kindness. Your love.


REDUCE US TO LOVE


Reduce us to love. The most important action. The most meaningful thought. The underpinning of all things.


Love.


Today, from Your Love. Today, for Love of You.  Everything, everything, everything.


Reduce us to the one thing that flavors all the rest with purpose and strength and grace.


Your matchless love for us and through us. To our own hearts. Our families. This great big world. In everything.


What task or conversation awaits you today that will be softened and flavored if your heart reduces everything to love?


It would be encouraging to hear your thoughts today. You never know what other mom or dad or grandparent might find comfort from your voice.

Finding Courage to Change

Lisa West - Saturday, June 25, 2016



Sometimes when I am thinking about what to say in the blog I will feel this quiet intensity in my heart. Like there’s an incubator inside and something mysterious is being knit together. Today was one of those days.

I got to spend this week with some kids who are pretty special to me. They are not mine, but we have been part of each other’s lives for 7 years now. We have been given the gift of bonds that will be lifelong.

When I am with them, I can’t help but think about who they are becoming and what they need to feel loved and grow souls that have depth and purpose.

AN EXPERIMENT

Today we did a holy experiment. We went to their local church this morning and sat on the front steps and talked about how people can be way too busy in the world we live in. We can feel like there is so much to do, and so much non-stop input that you feel like you are living the longest day of your life over and over again.

So we talked about slowing down and going inside and trying something different. We would spend 10 minutes in the church sanctuary.  No agenda. Nothing confining. Just go in, find a place and get comfortable.  Sit, kneel, lay down, whatever you want to do. They could pray or think or just sit quietly. When they were done they could go sit in the back row and read a book while waiting for the others.

We agreed not to rush and not to feel like we had to stay long either.  When your heart feels lighter, you are done.

Each one found a place…in the corner by the stairs, in a pew, under the communion table and laying face up in the center aisle. No rush. No hustle. Just being.

The sight of them resting in the quiet of God’s house is an image I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

My spot in the little sanctuary was at the base of a stone pillar looking up at the stained glass window of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I came for them, but tears were streaming down my face.  Oh God, let me be a good shepherd like You.

Time passed.  One by one we met in the back with a hush and peace and a knowing that it was good to do what we had just done.

COURAGE TO CHANGE

Change is not always easy.  In our hearts though, we know when something isn’t working.  May we choose courage today.  Courage to stop.  Courage to think and breathe. Courage to learn what we need to know. Courage to make good changes. Courage to “just be” -- for our sake and for the sake of our little ones who are following in our footsteps.


Where do you need to choose courage to change in your life?


As always, you are most welcome to leave a comment today. Your thoughts may even help another woman who is trying to find her voice.


PS – If you need a good book to help you on your journey, there are links to some of my favorites on the Lighter Loads resource page.  


MAKING SUMMER MEMORIES WITH KIDS

Lisa West - Saturday, June 18, 2016



Do you remember how you felt in June when you were a kid? Sunshine, warm breezes and a longing to be home?  NO SCHOOL! Yay!


Over the years our family has cultivated special activities for relaxing and making memories together in the summer. Here are 3 of our favorites: 


GROW SOMETHING


Kids LOVE to explore and work with their hands. They love to grow their own flowers and veggies. If you don’t have a yard, simple plants like lettuce, kale and cherry tomatoes will grow nicely in giant pots. Kids get excited about picking the harvest when it ripens!


Over the next few weeks most greenhouses will be reducing prices. With ample water and some TLC you could easily set up a small garden for your kids to enjoy this summer.


As a bonus, you might supply a clear, plastic bug container. Kids will spend HOURS catching and inspecting bugs.


For kid-friendly gardening information check out: http://www.kidsgardening.org/


LIBRARY, LUNCH AND SWIM


Just after breakfast we pack water, snacks and lunches in a cooler and head off to the library to arrive by 9:45AM. The kids will sign up to use computers and spend an hour choosing books.  


Sometimes we sit on the comfy couch and read a story together.  Around 11:30AM we’ll check out and choose a place for a shady picnic.  After this we’ll swim and dive into our books!


PICK YOUR OWN FRUIT


We have had so much fun doing this over the years it is an unmovable fixture in our lives now. 


We enjoy Fix Brothers Farm http://www.fixbrosfruitfarm.com/ in Hudson for cherries and peaches. 


We especially love Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont, NY http://www.indianladderfarms.com/pick/ for their low spray environmentally safe practices for berries and apples.


Each orchard has a website or hotline with picking information. We usually plan to get to the orchard by 9:30 or 10 AM before the day heats up.  We fill a cooler with ice packs and plastic containers to keep the fruit cold. Water, sunscreen and light colored clothing for the kids are also helpful.


After weighing and paying for the berries, we visit Rosy, the Highland Cow and feed a few friendly goats. Next we say hello to the rabbit, eat a tasty cider donut and then head for home. The kids can’t wait to make smoothies! YUM!


If you have never done it, it’s easy to flash freeze berries on cookie sheets and store them in freezer containers.  The delicious fun to be had from all these delights is only just beginning! Pancakes, granola, salads, pies and jams. You can even make your own frozen berry popsicles!


Do you have a favorite spot for summer adventures?  It would be great if you would post one in the comments today for our little community of readers!


You Can Do Anything, Not Everything - Part 2

Lisa West - Saturday, June 11, 2016


In my last post I wrote about the importance of recognizing when your life has become a whirlwind. It’s important to learn to slow down and make time for thinking about things that matter.


Today let’s look at a few next steps to creating a more sustainable pace.


UNDERSTANDING WHY WE TRY TO DO SO MUCH


Have you ever considered the possible reasons you have for over-committing to people and projects? We have reasons for the actions we take, though we may not be consciously aware of our motives immediately.


Try completing this sentence:  I am saying, “Yes” to too many people or projects or activities because…


What did you come up with?


Is it...because my life is complicated and full of responsibilities? because I want people to like me?  Because I am afraid to say, “No”?  Because I want to look good to my boss, friends, family…?  Because I feel guilty?  Because I am afraid of missing out?  Because I don’t want to disappoint anyone?


There can be so many reasons for trying to do EVERYTHING.


For the longest time I said, “Yes” to every request made of me with a smile, because I wanted people to be happy with me.  It didn’t matter if I was cringing on the inside or incapable or exhausted.  While I would have loathed the idea of deliberately lying to a person, I was actually living an internal lie, but not seeing it.


I remember in my 20’s and 30’s often struggling with feelings of guilt for taking time off for family events when it conflicted with work or church. This made my family feel that I valued work more than them. In addition, I would stay at work til 1 or 2 AM, because I thought completing the project earlier would make my boss happy.  All the while my family was suffering from my absence. 


The reality was, my boss hadn’t asked that of me.  I was asking it of myself.  A further truth… sometimes working on a project was also easier and more satisfying than the complex character issues of raising children. Do you ever feel like this?


It is possible to be confused and internally captive to some unreasonable expectation from within yourself or from others. Recognizing this is a big step towards God’s healthier perspective for us.


A BETTER WAY TO SAY, “YES”


I have come to see that some of my perceptions about God contradict the invitation of Jesus…”Come to me, all who are weary and weighed down and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28


When your perceptions conflict with God’s, it’s painful.  He is brilliant and kind and knows what we really need. Sometimes we need to change our direction.


Recently I heard an interview about breaking free from perfectionism that drew such a clear mental picture for me. Maybe it will help you too.

Business mentor, Michael Hyatt, and author, Shauna Niequist had a fascinating, transparent discussion about the problem of unhappiness that comes from overcommitting. Shauna explained that she has learned to change her tendency to do this. Shauna views her yesses in life as having a value similar to money. Each “yes” gets “spent”.


Shauna has to look at her calendar and daily rhythm of life and decide “where” she will spend each yes…on her husband, her two small children, her writing…all the things that work with God’s purposes and values. She does not have an unlimited supply to work with. She must choose wisely. After “spending” all of her yesses in the most important places, she can be at peace with saying, “No”.  Sometimes it means people will be disappointed. 

It is reasonable to accept that we cannot do everything or please everyone.


SPENDING OUR YESSES


What does this look like in our modern world? For me, it means choosing to value dinner time and not take evening appointments so I can cook and enjoy family time and be healthy.  It also means saying yes (most of the time) to a 10 PM bed time so I can rise early to start the day. What about you?


Could it mean choosing a hobby everyone can do together like hiking or karate?  Maybe it means consolidating your focus and becoming a coach on your child’s team or volunteering in a classroom. It could mean choosing to allow your kids to play one sport at a time, so the whole family isn’t pulled apart in separate directions. What would it look like if everyone is involved with cheering on “the star” one season and “another star” the next season?


It could mean dance or instrument lessons during the school year and Adventure Camp or horseback riding in the summer. It may mean making someone temporarily unhappy with waiting for a turn.  Can you find a way to convince your kids to see the big picture of being together cheering and helping each other succeed instead of being divided and scattered in ways that may be exhausting your emotional tank more than you have realized?


Can you lead a family discussion where everyone has a voice and find a way to co-create a workable strategy based on the things everyone values


WHAT IS BEST FOR MY KIDS?


Choosing to align your family in a world that’s pulled in so many directions requires courage.


Will you thoughtfully answer the following questions?


What do we value in life? Are we creating a life where those values are central?  What is best for our family atmosphere?  What is going to promote joy and maturity here?”


With these answers in mind, how would you like to spend your “yesses” this week?


We’d love to hear your ideas, comments and questions today!  You never know who it might inspire or who might have a thought that encourages you.  


You Can Do Anything, Not Everything - Part 1

Lisa West - Saturday, June 04, 2016



Sometimes we just need to stop.  Stand still.  Listen.  Think.


Breathe.


It is tempting to be moving and going 24/7/365 for some of us. Never have we lived in a time where more families are struggling with feeling frazzled, depressed and burnt out.  Even our kids feel it.


I have always been a high octane, love life, lots of ideas, go-go-go kind of girl.  My poor family has the scars to prove it. :) Oh, the projects I have gotten them into over the years -- helping people, making a fun time for others, but short on volunteers. My kids and husband became the work force.  Sometimes it was awesome and memorable.  Sometimes…well…


Can you see them rolling their eyes?  Actually, that was years ago and I have grown up a bit since then. Phew.


This post is not meant to advocate shutting down and living in isolation.  Celebrating holidays and life events in the community of a large family, school or church is inspiring, even exhilarating.  Sometimes, it can also be just too much.


Add to that all of the weekly commitments offered to kids these days, like drama club, soccer, soft ball, dance, music lessons, karate, church…oh boy! How do we get the homework done, the meals cooked, eaten and cleaned up and have time for anything else?


TIME TO THINK


Last summer my husband and I went berry picking for my birthday.  Sunshine, fresh fruit, my best friend.  Totally the perfect kind of day. We stopped in the orchard gift shop for a cookie and some tea and puttered around among the sweet country-style gifts for a while.

Mid-stride, this little sign caught my heart and made me squeeze my eyes shut right there in the shop. Yup, next it traveled to the cash register and now it lives on the windowsill above my kitchen sink. It is a liberating daily reminder.


It reads, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” Anything. Not everything.


Another unknown sage has said, "You can do everything, just not all at once."


So it comes down to this today.  How are you doing with the simple rhythms of daily life? Are you wound up tight, tight, tight?


Does your family have any built in time for the simple pleasure of THINKING about the things in life that really matter?  Do you ever stop? Do you slow down? Where could you create space for savoring God, life, your family?


Will you allow yourself to believe there is more to life than a perpetual whirlwind? Next week we will explore thoughts about how to create priorities and make choices in our busy world.


We’d love to hear your ideas, comments and questions today!  You never know who it might inspire or who might have a thought that encourages you. 


Are You Living an Inspired Life?

Lisa West - Friday, May 27, 2016



As parents, we give and give and give. We manage, work, guide, direct, referee, shop, cook, clean, teach, transport, bathe, oversee, comfort, provide.  There’s an endless list of tasks to be done. It can be beautiful, exciting and fun.  It can also be mundane and exhausting.


With the peace and spiritual development of our families dependent upon our leadership, we dare not neglect our own souls!!  We dare not give from a hollow, empty husk of a heart.  Dregs are the nasty after-bits at the bottom of empty barrels. Yuck!


Amanda Cooke sings this haunting beautiful line, “May we never lose our wonder…”


I have had seasons of pain where the delight God intends has all but evaporated. Distractions and distresses and parenting all in one big, messy jumble!


It is unlikely that any of us are lying awake at night cooking up ways to poison or embitter our children on purpose.  It happens more by drifting along in depression or driving hard for perfection. Extreme parenting is painful parenting.  Ever find yourself there?


THERE IS A BETTER WAY


Well, if you are, there is hope. Good cheer is a choice we can make. It is possible to fan the flames of our souls to see the goodness of God.


During the darkest times I have come to see my need to work at consistently making the same significant choice...the choice to assert my right and responsibility as a child of God TO DRAW NEAR...to trust and find inspiration in knowing Him.  


Friend, it is strengthening to remember who GOD is for us. He is the Source and Sustainer of all life! When He speaks, planets and stars erupt into being! He fills oceans with beauty and glory and makes them roar. He designed the intricate balance of air and water and sun, so plants grow and creatures breathe.  He gives us the gifts of family and friendship. It is a daily wonder. He is infinitely, amazingly more than any of us can begin to explain or comprehend!


WE CAN CHOOSE


With summer vacation just around the corner, can we build some time into our schedules for communion and inspiration? Can we intentionally slow our pace?


Will you choose to find a way to be regularly focused and encouraged as a parent?  How will you go about that?


What meaningful commitment can you make? What will a new habit look like for you?


Perhaps you could read a family and parenting book that is pertinent to your phase of life for a few minutes each day?  Could you pick up some CDs to listen to in your car? Will you attend a parenting workshop this year or find a family-friendly church or participate in a small group with other families? You may be unfamiliar with the path in front of you, but there are others who HAVE walked it before you who are sharing their stories.  


Will you write one simple statement of your intentions for your family this year and post it where you can see it often? Will you think about how you can implement it in simple, practical actions?


God’s supply of encouragement is limitless! You can drink from the spring of His goodness every day and not worry that you’ll drain Him dry. 


JUST IMAGINE


Can you imagine what might be possible in your home, if you make time this year to be regularly inspired?  What great opportunities for growth might arise? What powerful, meaningful legacy can you offer your family because you’ll be there with a full heart?


Let’s do it, friends! Let’s make our choices count!


If you would like share your thoughts in the comment section before you go, we’d love to hear from you!


PS - For a list of books that have inspired me over the years, you can click here.