"…And she smiles at the future." ~Proverbs 31:25

Worst. Picnic. Ever.

I wake up this morning thinking, “What a gorgeous day! I should take the girls on a picnic.” So I pack up my two youngest kiddos and some grub, and we end up at this beautiful park.

minding our own biz

We’re minding our own business, just relaxing on a bench and watching graceful butterflies flit about as we enjoy our lunch in the fresh air.

And then it happens.

My twelve year old straightens suddenly and asks, “Is that…a RAT?”

And sadly, friends, it is. Yes, a RAT crouches just across the path from us, staring at us as we picnic in what now appears to be his territory.

He's watching us...

And if you know much about me, you know that this quickly becomes the shortest picnic ever.

I start yelling at the girls to “Hurry up and finish eating!” so we can get out of this ridiculously RAT-infested park. (Yes, I know we just see one at the moment…but there must be more, right? In fact, I’m seeing them everywhere I look now, and feeling them crawl up my legs, and they might even be spitting on me. Do rats spit? I’m pretty sure this one does.)

Although we can see our uninvited guest still lurking in the shadowy grass, at this point I’m thinking that maybe there’s still hope—that perhaps we can hurry up and finish and get out of here—when all of the sudden, the rat decides to leave his foxhole—and yes, that’s exactly what it is, as I’m sure he’s just waiting to attack us—and he comes right onto the path, not three feet away from my feet…or, I should say where my feet WERE, because you know I am up on that bench in no time flat.

Photo by Addison (I would NEVER have been able to hold the camera steady!)

Rat photos by Addison (I would NEVER have been able to hold the camera steady!)

Now I hear a lady from way across the park yelling, “What was THAT?” and looking in our direction. She proceeds to call out that she thinks she hears a bird that is sick or hurt. No, lady; settle down. That’s just me choking on my own screams. In the meantime, the rat is still moving toward us, and sadly enough, my five year old is cooing, “It’s OK, Mommy; it’s going to be OK.” (Hang on a minute…shouldn’t I be comforting her?)

But there is no comfort to be had. I feel sick now. My older daughter is delighted with this, because now she gets to eat my lunch. I just can’t down another bite.

He's coming! RUN!!!

He’s coming! RUN!!!

So maybe my shouts and squeals do disrupt the beautiful day at the park for every visitor within half a mile (or, as I prefer to think of it, they warn other park guests), but they also send the rat back into his hiding spot (temporarily, I’m sure). I take this opportunity to grab our stuff, jump down from the bench, and high-tail it out of there. I’m yelling to the girls to come quickly, as I’m pretty sure he’s chasing after us now. They shake their heads (as though this is funny?) but I can still feel those beady eyes boring holes through my legs and feet, which are now touching the same ground the rat is standing on. This makes me uncomfortable, to say the least.

As we rush to exit the park, I refuse to make eye contact when I pass the lady who worries about people only when she thinks they are hurt birds, but apparently doesn’t give a hoot about defenseless women and children, even after they scream, “A RAT! There’s a RAT over here!”

During our hasty retreat, my older daughter remarks, “Of all the living creatures on earth, I think the one most dangerous when frightened is YOU, Mom.” I just lock the car door, shiver, and try not to leave marks in the parking lot as we escape.

(Have I mentioned how I feel about RATS?)

The next time I wake up to a beautiful day, you can bet I’ll think twice about taking the kids out for a picnic.

Thanks for stopping by,

We were in the car, heading off to her weekly swimming lesson, when my five-year-old daughter broke out in this joyous, made-up-on-the-spot song:

I love my mommy!

I love her so much.

She takes care of me.

She feeds me yummy food.

She takes me places I need to go.

She doesn’t leave me alone.

Remi's flower

She plays with me.

She teaches me.

She makes school so fun.

She is the best mom ever…

On and on and on she went, and I’ll admit it: With each line, my heart swelled a little more. Oh, I know I’m not “all that”…but in HER eyes, I am! And it was really nice to hear her singing my praises.

  • It reminded me how much she truly loves me.
  • It made me feel appreciated.
  • It thrilled me that she was so sincere in her thoughts that she just couldn’t help but sing them out.

And then it hit me.

How must our God feel when we sing praises to Him?

          When we can’t help but shout about all the great things He’s done for us?

          When we list off all the people and things we’re thankful for?

          When we tell Him everything we love about Him?

          When we acknowledge that He is the BEST?

In God’s case, He actually deserves all the praise we can give Him, and it must warm His heart to hear His thankful children giving glory and honor to His name.

So…when was the last time you just couldn’t stop telling your Father in heaven what you love about Him? How long has it been since the list of what you are thankful for was so long, that it far outweighed all the things you asked Him for? I know I need to do better about that, and this experience motivates me to try.

Let’s make it a point today–and every day–to let our hearts and mouths overflow with praises for the One who does everything right.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;

Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.

(Psalm 98:4)

Thanks for stopping by!

Sweeter than ice cream

When we dropped my son, Connor, off at work, he insisted (No, really!) that we come inside and let him buy us some ice cream. As we waited in line to order, five-year-old Remington started pulling on my sleeve and pointing at the guy in front of us–a man we’d never seen before, whose arm was in a sling.

Just as I opened my mouth to tell her to stop pointing at strangers, she finally managed to get out (in a loud whisper) what she was trying to tell me:

“Mommy! We need to pray for him!”

{sweet girl}

Thank you, sweet girl, for helping me understand these words of Jesus:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

Thanks for stopping by!

Supermen

This past Sunday evening, like every Sunday evening, I attended a worship service. Walking into the auditorium at about ten minutes until six, I looked around…and what I saw impressed me.

OK, Amy, what did you see?

Glad you asked! I saw….

…men.

Men, everywhere.

Men who, had there not been a regularly-scheduled worship service, would surely have been glued to their TV screens, eating and yelling as they watched the Superbowl along with much of the rest of the nation.

http://i.i.cbsi.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim/2013/02/20/football_620x350.jpg

But they weren’t.

Because to these men–these men who love and follow football with the most avid fans–there was something even more important going on.

And men, please know this: We noticed!

No, that’s not why you did it. You did it because you are the kind of men who lead your families by example. You not only state your priorities; you live them. You understand that the sacrifice you made–while it was a sacrifice–was nothing, NOTHING, compared to what He did for you on the cross.

You get it. And you live it. And I thank you for that.

Your commitment to put Christ first, no matter what, inspires me. It sets an incredible example for my children. It reminds me to think about eternity, not just the here-and-now.

So thank you, men. You are heroes to me. You may have missed the Superbowl, but you clearly haven’t missed “the point.”

As far as I’m concerned, you are Supermen.

Thanks for stopping by,

Out with the old

2013 is done and gone. And frankly, I’m glad to see it go. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this past year has been one of the worst years of my life. But in addition to making one miserable, having a rotten year can also be an excellent and effective teacher. Here are three lessons I’ve learned:

First, I’ve learned to love the Psalms. They say misery loves company, and there is something very comforting about having someone else pour out his heart in words I can’t seem to find in mine. Just listen to a few of the many verses of the Psalms I’ve relied on this past year:

 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul. (94:19)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them. (34:7)

But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (73:2, 23-24, 26)

Psalm 37:24

Psalm 37:24

I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord,
I say, “You are my God.”
How great is Your goodness,
Which You have stored up for those who fear You,
Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You,
Before the sons of men!
Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord. (31:7, 14, 19, 24)

The Psalms have reminded me that this is not my burden to bear. God will fight for me if I allow Him to, rather than trying to control everything myself. I can’t do it; but He can!

When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You. (56:3)

Psalm 68:19

Psalm 68:19

And I can’t leave out an old favorite from Psalm 55:22,

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.

Second, I’ve learned the necessity of daily focusing on the positive. I’ve been blessed so abundantly, yet it’s easy to look past all the great people and things I’ve been gifted with if I’m focused on the rotten parts.  Spending time every day expressing sincere thanksgiving goes a long way toward helping keep the focus on what’s great about this life.

Four of my many, many blessings

Four of my many, many blessings

Third, I’ve learned to long for heaven. Yes, I’ll admit it: Sometimes my world is SO good, SO easy, SO comfortable, that I lose sight of the fact that we who are Christians are just passing through this world on our way to heaven.

But this year I have looked forward to Christ’s return like never before, and it has kept me going forward. In the words of Psalm 27:13,

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.

So, maybe it wasn’t such a rotten year after all, since I learned some much-needed lessons.

What about you? I hope 2013 was FANTASTIC for each of you reading this post. But I suspect I’m not the only one who’s had it hard this year. If it’s been a difficult one for you, too, why not take a moment right now to leave me a comment and let me know what YOU are truly thankful for? You may be surprised at how quickly it will put a smile on your face, just acknowledging one of the many ways God has blessed you recently. In fact, even if you’ve just had your best year ever, I still encourage you to share what you’re thankful for here. Maybe, just maybe, it will be the perfect reminder the rest of us need.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Due to the popularity of the New Year’s interview I created last year, I’ve updated it for 2014 so you can, once again, capture a slice of life from your child right now–whether that child is a new baby or is about to graduate!

You can find the updated printable here.

2014 New Year's Interview

2014 New Year’s Interview

Thanks for stopping by!

ConFOODsion

Young children pick up their native language at an astonishing rate. I am always amazed at how quickly and effortlessly they grow to understand vocabulary and syntax without any formal instruction. Of course, sometimes there are bumps along the way, which provide plenty of free entertainment for those witnessing them.

A while back Remi went through a stage where she often substituted words and phrases she knew for those that weren’t familiar or didn’t make sense to her. Here are a couple of examples:

She found a package of these ….

…. and asked, “Hey, Mommy, do you think Daddy would mind if I ate some of his Sesame Streets?”

A week later we went through the drive-through at Whataburger and got a vanilla malt, the first malt she’d ever tasted. Apparently, she liked it; the whole way home, she kept asking, “Can I have another drink of that Malt-O-Meal?”

Here’s where I’ll open it up to the rest of you: What funny things have you heard from the mouths of little ones? Please share them in the comments so we can all smile together!

(Note: Only your first comment on this blog has to be approved; all your future comments will show up automatically. So go ahead and share! It’s easy!)

Thanks for stopping by.

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