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

Posts tagged ‘blessings’

What I learned when she sang my praises

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!

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!

 

Evidence

If you are like me—and I suspect you are—you can look around your home at any given time and see the “evidence” of the people who share that home with you.

Sometimes the clues are kind of cute.

Oh, did you need to use the stairs? Sorry, those are taken.

You didn’t want your laptop, did you? I’m kind of using it.

Pie? What pie? What makes you think I touched the pie?

Other times, those “clues” are not really that cute at all. Like the other day when our four year old went to the bathroom (and I mean REALLY went to the bathroom) and then decided to do us a big favor and clean the toilet…only she forgot to flush it first. (That was not on the list of why Amy smiles. And don’t worry, I didn’t take a picture.) She was just trying to be helpful, but…  AGGGHHHH!!!!!

Finding sticky spots on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, shoes all over the living room, and crumbs on the couch are all evidence of the people who live in this house. And while I don’t exactly consider those things fun to find, I do try to remind myself often that these are simply signs that I am surrounded daily by the people I love the most.

I will always remember sitting in a Bible class one Wednesday night and listening to an older lady who had lost her husband. Her advice to those who were married was this: “Be thankful every time you have to bend down and pick up your husband’s dirty socks from the floor. He may not have thrown them in the hamper the way you’d have liked, but be glad he’s still around to get them dirty.” I think I was in junior high that year, so of course it didn’t apply to me then. But to this day I still think about her wise words when I catch myself gritting my teeth as I clean up a mess I didn’t make. Because she’s right: I would rather have them AND their messes than to not have either!

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
    but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.

(Proverbs 14:4)

I hope you are smiling as you look around at the “evidence” of your loved ones …even if it’s on your floor. Aren’t they worth it?

Thanks for stopping by!

FREE PRINTABLE: Capture your child’s life now with this New Year’s interview

Kids grow and change so fast, and those of us who are parents or grandparents often wish we could somehow capture a slice of life from each stage to hold onto forever. So today I am offering you an opportunity to do just that!

The changing of the calendar year is a great time to reflect on the rapid changes in our kids’ likes, dislikes, and personalities. I created this interview sheet to use with my own kids, and decided to share it with you here. There’s a download link below, but first, here’s how the interview looks:

Interview p1Interview p. 2

It’s two pages long so you’ll want to print on front and back. Keep in mind that in our family, we have four kiddos ranging in age from newly four to seventeen, so I included questions to fit preschoolers through teenagers. I purposely started out with the easy questions like favorite colors and foods, then progressed to the more thought-provoking ones.

If you are using this with toddlers, you have several options for adjusting it to their level:

1. Print the first page only, and use the empty space on the back to stamp a handprint or let the child “draw” pictures. (Read: scribble)

2. Selectively answer whatever questions from both pages you feel apply to your child.

3. Make changes to the questions that don’t fit your child’s age. For example, with my youngest I’ll cross out “youth group activity” and replace it with “things to do with my friends.”

Even if your child or grandchild isn’t talking yet, you will want to fill in favorite songs, toys, foods, etc. to have a record of this stage in your baby’s life. You might even want to fill one in for yourself while you’re at it!

Of course, you also have the option to use my idea as a starting point and create your own interview to fit your family’s needs. But for those of you who want to skip the hassle and use what I’m sharing, here’s the link:

New Year’s Day Interview Sheet 2013

Our family always has a special dinner on New Year’s Day and that’s when I plan to go over these sheets. Our older kids will fill them out on their own, and I’ll let our youngest dictate her answers to me.

Won’t it be fun to look back in a few years to see how their answers have changed?

By the way, this is my very first FREE PRINTABLE offer, so please leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

I wasn’t looking for these

Those of you who visit here regularly see a lot of our youngest daughter, Remington. At age three, it seems everything that rolls off her lips is funny, and she’s definitely the most willing of all our kiddos to pose for the camera.

But don’t misunderstand.

Our other three children may not be as likely to get in front of the camera, or to allow me to post the absolutely hilarious things THEY say…but they definitely make me smile. Every. Single. Day. I am so thankful for all three of them, too!

Take Addison, for example.

This morning I came downstairs to find this on the dining room table:

It was a surprise from Addy…a little gift for no reason at all…and it has been making me smile all day long.

Then, there’s Chandler.

With the smile still on my face from finding Addy’s bouquet, I ran upstairs to put something in Chandler’s bedroom, and I found this on his whiteboard:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

I’m not sure what prompted it, but he wrote it right by his desk where he’ll see it continuously…and it’s making me smile.

And, let’s not forget Connor.

If you enter his room the first thing you’ll see is this:

He assures me it’s “just a silly drawing.” And clearly, it’s not something he spent a great deal of time on. But even though it wasn’t created for artistic purposes, the fact that a “silly” picture of his family is something he wanted to frame and hang in a prominent position in his room just makes me—you guessed it—SMILE! (And how could I not be happy about the title?)

My favorite smiles are the ones that I wasn’t even looking for. I hope you are noticing all the many things that have the potential to make you smile today. They are everywhere! As usual, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. (Hint, hint…)

Thanks for stopping by!

My imperfect life

It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking I have “the perfect life.” (I giggled just typing that phrase!) But just in case I’ve given anyone that impression, I want to set the record straight. Right here. Right now.

This is a blog about why I smile. I share with you the happy parts, hoping they’ll make you happy, too.

But trust me: Things aren’t always all “sunshine and rainbows” around here!

I have bad hair days.

I  oversleep.

I  lose my temper.

I  let the laundry pile up.

Less than HALF of what is waiting in my laundry room at this very moment…..

I  miss deadlines.

I  lose things.

I  let the house get way too messy.

I eat junk.

I  run late.

I  spend foolishly.

I  get my feelings hurt.

I  make bad decisions.

I  waste time.

I have, on more than one occasion, found things growing in our fridge that I could not identify. I have been afraid to look under my child’s bed. I have lost things that weren’t even mine.

I get discouraged. I get overwhelmed. I get frustrated.

Many days I am surrounded by dirty dishes and sticky floors and overdue library books and at least one cranky kid.

But I am fully convinced that, even on those days, there is always something to smile about. ALWAYS. And that’s why I continue to post to this blog.

I love these words from Melissa Wiley, which perfectly explain the way I think and write:

“Every day is complicated, messy, and full of friction. And every day has glorious or cozy moments worth celebrating. I seldom bother to chronicle the friction and the mess because writing time is fleeting and precious—and childhood even more so. I’d rather capture the small joys that I might forget—or take for granted—if I don’t take time to set them down in words. I don’t want anyone to be under the impression that things are always perfect around here! Heaven knows we are anything but. Perfect, frictionless, orderly? Nope. Happy? Most of the time!”

My other reason for sharing “the good parts” with you? In Mark 5:19, Jesus said to a man He’d just healed, “…Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”

My God has shown me great mercy, which I do not deserve, and He has done many great things for me. I want to share some of them here. He’s done much for you, too, and I want to remind you of that.

I want to daily look around me for blessings to acknowledge, for reasons to give thanks, and for excuses to smile. And I want to motivate you to do the same.

I am just like you, living with struggles, with sadness, and with sin. But together we can be on the lookout for the joy in everyday life…..the small victories…..the smiles and successes we might not notice if we aren’t actively looking.

So let’s keep looking!

“I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me…”   (Neh. 2:18)

Thanks for stopping by!

Fake Fall Fun

When the doorbell rang, we opened the front door to find a box on the porch. A BIG box.

The mystery box

The kids were intrigued, but I already knew what was inside, so I—being that kind of mom—made them wait a whole hour to open it. (Yes, that’s right. An hour. You have to let the anticipation build, right?)

That hour was filled with a hundred different questions:

Is it alive?

Can we eat it?

Is it flammable?

Are you sure we can’t eat it?

Can we throw it?

If we eat it, will we die? 

All they knew was that it came from our friend April, in Kentucky. Yes, Kentucky…where they happen to actually have a season called fall. But April once lived here, in South Texas, where it will still be a while before we get anything that resembles autumn.

And knowing that, she decided to share theirs with us. (Everyone should have a friend so thoughtful!)

By the end of the hour their curiosity had skyrocketed, so finally, I gave them the green light to tear open the mystery box.

And inside was a little taste of autumn.

The box was big enough for our dog to fit inside…

…and they let her for a minute…

…but only for a minute. Because they were ready to have some fake fall fun of their own!

When you have four kids who range in age from three to seventeen, it can be a challenge to find something fun for all of them to do together…

…but judging from these looks on their faces, I’d say this fit the bill perfectly.

After playing together for quite a while, the girls continued to play in the leaves…

…while the boys—being boys, after all—switched over to a game of “Destroy the Box They Came in With a Brick.”

(Thankfully, they at least moved to the other end of the yard from where the girls were playing.)

From our family to yours, Happy Autumn!

Thanks for stopping by!

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