Monday, July 29, 2013

legacy

I come from a long line of believers. On my mother's side of the family I have had aunts and uncles and great-aunts and great-uncles that have been missionaries to places all over Africa, the middle east, and various countries in South America.

My mother spent the first portion of her memorable life in Liberia, Africa where my grandparents were a big part of setting up a Christian radio station. This station is still broadcasting today.

One set of great-grandparents spent over 50 years in French West Guinea, (currently Sierra Leone) ministering the to the muslim Fula tribes people.

My other great-grandpa was born in Syria, living in Egypt, when he became a believer through some Presbyterian missionaries. It seems to me a conversion that must have been rare and unusual in the early 1900s. Sometime during his young adult years, after his father abandoned the family and his mother and two siblings died, he emigrated to the United States where he married Great-Grandma and spent the latter part of his life as a pastor.

It is this set of great-grandparents, Charles and Mildred, that stand out in my mind as the patriarchs for a legacy of prayer that has been left to our family. Great-Grandpa had his faults, of course. He was known for being a somewhat opinionated male, and for giving long-winded blessings for the food while it got cold. But he and his wife began a legacy of prayer that is still living on today.

I am told this godly couple made it a priority to get down on their knees every morning and pray together. They prayed for a number of things, but it is said that they consistently prayed for their family, all 7 of their children, and all 30-something of their grandchildren by name. And although they passed on when I was around the age of 6, I imagine that they prayed for me too.

You may not believe it, but all 7 of their children became passionate Christ-followers. They each raised their families to believe and follow Jesus, and an incredibly high percentage of those 30-something cousins have raised their families to believe and follow Jesus too. It beats all of the church statistics. Out of this line came the numerous missionaries to countries all over the world that I mentioned above, as well as many others who are living out their beliefs on a daily basis.

My Grandma Grace is the 2nd in line of the 7 children, former missionary to Liberia, and is the first person I think of when I am in desperate need of prayers. This is a woman who knows how to talk to God.
Grandma Grace with 5 of her 7 great-grandchildren.

We had the privilege of celebrating her 86th birthday with her a few weeks ago. She is "retired" but still living out a life long passion to see others encouraged and exhorted as they walk with the Lord.

We timed Grandma Grace's birthday celebration to include a visit from my cousins and their 3 delightful children.


This precious family makes their home in the middle east and are traveling stateside for the summer only. We felt extremely privileged that their busy summer schedule allowed them a few restful days with us, to connect, to fellowship, to pray, to listen, to encourage, and to simply stop and enjoy the sounds of our giggling children while they played together. I wish I could say more about their daily lives, where each day they are confronted with tough choices about how to love people best and how to live believing in a counter-American culture. They are in the process of making some big life decisions that will affect the future of their family. Will you consider joining me to pray alongside them?



Spending time with my extended family often causes me to feel a convicting sort of humility as I realize what an undeserved blessing my family has passed down in the form of prayers. This rich and unusual legacy, begun four generations ago, has produced changed lives.

There are not very many wealthy people in the family, or any second homes or great vacation cabins we will visit with our kids, or valuable antiques that were handed down. But I would not trade the legacy of prayer for anything else I could have inherited.

I feel a strong calling upon my life to ensure that this legacy continues, so that my children, and my children's children, and my nieces and nephews and great grandchildren can identify the beginning of the powerful effect that the prayers of others have had in their lives.

Perhaps you desire a similar legacy for your own family? Don't think when you read this that it is ever too late. You choose the legacy you leave. You have the power to begin it.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

sisterhood

My consistent prayer for my two little girls has been that they will be great friends. One day when they are older there may be something Annike won't be able to tell me. My prayer is that she will always have her sister, and that the wisdom implanted in them during these young years will be accessible when they need it.

Having a sibling is a great way to practice doing life with other people. I will even dare to say that it is one of the most character shaping tools in a young person's formative years.


Together, my girls get to practice what it is like to be someone's friend. We all need practice with friendship. Right now, they get to do it in a safe setting like our home where Momma is usually around to intercede when boundaries are crossed.

First Tea Party

Interactions with each other help my girls to understand themselves better. So far we are dealing with one introvert and one extrovert. Even small children need alone time and self-discerning these needs for down time is a valuable life skill.


Daily they practice sharing. And not sharing. And then being forced to share when they don't want to. This is the real world on a small, slightly safer scale.


They practice understanding someone who has different likes and dislikes, playing with someone who is a different age, and trying to compromise with someone who wants to play differently. They practice arguing and defending themselves, and hopefully will come out of it all learning to fight fair. 

All of the time they are learning about forgiveness. Feelings are hurt, rules are broken, but with sisters there is always forgiveness. Sometimes miraculously, life moves on without grudge-holding. Sisterhood is a beautiful picture of unconditional love.


Almost nothing warms my heart more than seeing these girls enjoy each others company. In the last few months there has been noticeable growth in how they interact. Annike has even started to miss Sommer's company. Nothing shocks and pleases me more than hearing things like:

"I don't like it when Sommer sleeps because I miss her!" and

"Sommy is missing all of the fun! Maybe we should wake her up?"

No way. That girl needs to stay asleep as long as possible, but still, my heart is warm to think that one of my daily prayers for these two is already being answered... that they would be great friends.


Friday, July 5, 2013

independence day

I remember during my first pregnancy that the 3rd trimester didn't seem as bad as everyone talked about. My body didn't feel overly cumbersome until around 32 weeks, maybe later.


Today I am 28 weeks pregnant with my 3rd baby, and it feels like the 3rd trimester began a few weeks ago. I am starting to make grunting noises when I bend over to pick something up. Or deciding that I don't really need to bend down after all - I would rather stare at that toy under the table than crawl down there to get it. I am doing things like constantly under-dressing my children because I am so warm, though admittedly, they tend to under-dress themselves so I won't waste time worrying about it.


Despite it all, we have a barn that calls out loudly for the chance to host an annual Fourth of July party. And we have fun friends who love to come. And, thank the Lord, we have helpful friends who don't mind pitching in to watch the kids or carry loads of food and utensils to and from the house. And these fun, helpful friends happen to be innovative cooks, so we always have loads of delicious food.


The best thing about this party, besides the fun, helpful, innovative friends.... is that it is OUTSIDE! This translates to mean that watching 20 kids under the age of 7 run freely around is enjoyable and not chaotic. This means that everyone comes prepared to have some good clean all-American fun, and part of that is leaving a whole lot dirtier than they started. Especially those under the age of 2. Next year I will warn guests not to wear white. Stick to just plain red and blue.

The all-American fun includes a number of optional activitiess... like a wagon ride.

... a hay ride in the back of the truck. Pregnant women aren't allowed on this one unless they are trying to induce labor.

... a bucket ride on the tractor. Pregnant women definitely excluded.

... face-painting.


 ... roasting marshmellos.


... and Sparklers, of course! 

Maybe one day we will make it out to see the fireworks at night. California's budget cuts seem to have eliminated the official firework displays in our area. Ahhh but the local neighborhood displays can be viewed from the driveway until well after midnight. For this season in our lives, with tired little people always to think of, a barbeque in the barn suits us perfectly. We thank God for the freedom we have to celebrate when we want, how we want, with whomever we want.

This final picture is how I will forever remember my girls at this age. Being silly with each other, in show of love. Having a blast with friends, but the best time with each other.

God bless America.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

summertime

I have been trying to treasure up time with my children during these final summer months before Annike begins Kindergarten, and thus begins the daily commitment of school that won't end until she is 18, or 30, depending on which route she chooses to take.


Treasuring up this time, I have discovered, is strictly a discipline of my attitude.

In my summer blog-reading, I have come across quite a few posts on tips for "surviving summer" with the kiddos at home. Upon reading these, I have the general thought that I never want to be in the place where I feel like I need to survive summer.

But I admit, it can be a struggle. I am prone to those deer-in-headlight moments when I will do anything to peel the kids off my legs and engage them in something constructive rather than destructive. We have had days in this house when my kids have watched so much t.v. that even they don't feel like watching t.v. anymore. And I know that if we don't get out of the house in the morning, then our afternoons are unbelievably long and that dreadful hour before dinner is literally the slowest nightmare ever lived through. I relate with the mom who needs some additional survival skills to be equipped to handle children all day long, all month long, all summer long....

Aside: Can I pause here to say that for the mother of young children who is privileged to stay home or work from home (for instance: me) or the mom who has chosen to homeschool that this idea of having children home all day long is not just a summertime phenomenon?

Still.... I never want to be stuck in survival mode with my children. Because survival mode means I am not able to enjoy them. Shouldn't that be something that we mothers do best? Enjoy our children. If for no other reason than the reality that if we do not enjoy them, who else is going to?


Treasuring time with my children is a discipline of my attitude. It is my choice to see summer as a gift of time with my kiddos, or a dreaded pause in space which I need desperately to fill with some activity or other. I am not saying I am good at that whole celebrating the time we have with our children. But it does seem to me that the difference is a simple change in attitude. This time is an opportunity. It is precious. It is now or never.


Thus, my strategies for doing more than survive summer, for actually enjoying our final days of freedom from someone else's schedule (hence, school) are:

  • Make time to be present - I don't just love these kids of mine, I like them! It should be somewhat evident to them that I want to spend time with them. They deserve some real time from me each day when I am present. Being present is also known as: not talking on the phone or attempting to zone out on the internet or otherwise trying to accomplish something while I am with them. I understand that Mommas have things they need to do, and the house sure doesn't clean itself. But my children are worth spending time with, and I want them to know it.


  • Say "Yes" more often - In an energy-depleted state, I find myself wanting to say "No" all the time. I hear my friends saying "No" to their kids too, for simple things, and then I wonder if I am doing the same thing. When I say "No", I want it to matter. Like saying no to running around with sharp sticks, or to tying a leash around sister's neck. Those are bad ideas that require an emphatic parenting "No". But there are a lot of things we mothers say "No" to simply because we are being lazy. Summer is the time of year to say "Yes" to some of those activities that require more energy on my part. Like saying yes to getting out the paint. And yes to making a mud puddle in the back yard that will stand in for a kiddie pool. And yes to building forts and tents with every blanket or pillow that exists in the house. And yes to skipping rest time so we can go somewhere fun. 


The thing is that when I do these two things, I am the one who actually benefits. My kids are content. They rest better in the afternoon, they watch less t.v., and they have fewer discipline issues. It is a win-win situation that hinges on my attitude. Will I choose to enjoy or to survive today?



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