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When You’re Jealous of My Alone Time…..Think of This

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“What are you going to do what all that time?”

“Um, I don’t really know.”

“You don’t know?!?!? I know exactly what I’d do without my kids for five days. I’m so jealous. You’re so lucky!”

Luck.  That’s not exactly how I look at my life.  Have I seen God’s hand of provision pulling me through? Absolutely.  But lucky? Not so much.

And yet, I get this all the time.  Every Wednesday that my daughter is with her dad – “Oh, I kill for one day a week without my kids!” Yeah, I get it.  It is nice to have a day to do the grocery shopping alone and make my doctor’s appointments.  But that also means no Wednesday library activities or playdates with our friends at the park while everyone else is getting together (and for some reason, it seems like they are always on Wednesdays!)

We get it every other weekend when the triplets are with their mom – “Wow, I’d love to have a date night scheduled with my husband every other week.”  Yeah, but how often do we actually get to go out? Not very.  And when you factor in how many birthday parties, family functions and other special activities they miss, is it really worth it? Not to mention that we only get to all go to church together once in a great while because daughter P is with her dad every Sunday.

So you see, my “free” time comes with a lot of sacrifices.  To be honest, sacrifices I don’t really want to make.  This week my whole family is gone for 5 days.  Sure, it was really nice to go to IKEA and shop.  Then I ended up going to the movies by myself.  But you know what I saw? Cinderella.  Because all my girls had already seen it with their other families.  And while it’s kind of a luxury to go to a movie alone, I would have given anything to have my three daughters there with me.

On day three you know what I did?

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I cleaned my fridge.  High excitement here, folks!

I’m not trying to be too hard on you moms.  I get it.  Being a mom is hard.  We all need time to ourselves. Heck, sometimes just to go to the bathroom! I am all for Mom’s Night Out. and getting a chance to unwind.  But understand, those of us who have to be without our kids, we miss our kids, and would give anything to have them here with us all the time.  We will gladly give up every free moment to have what you have.

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I Don’t Care About Your Leggings or Your Vaccines…

loveI can’t be the only person tired of getting on my Facebook feed and inwardly (or sometimes audibly) groaning at seeing another link to an article about leggings or vaccines (hello Kristen Bell – I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance to hold your baby anyway, but thanks for the heads up!) or 50 Shades of Grey. 

The crazy thing is, it’s not even because I don’t agree with what’s being said.  I have definite stances on each of these issues.  I am tired of them because of the hateful responses the topics bring out.  And from brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am appalled at the language and verbiage and utter distain I have seen being shown toward those we are supposedly going to be spending eternity with.  What must our Heavenly Father be thinking? Over leggings?!?

It’s almost as if we want to be able to form a mental checklist of our friends – well so and so agrees with me on vaccines.  Ohh, that friend from church doesn’t.  She thinks I shouldn’t wear leggings?!? Why are we doing this to ourselves? What is the real point?

I am not saying that we shouldn’t discuss matters of sin – although I question whether or not the internet is really the right forum for that either.  In Matthew 6-7, Jesus talks a lot about the hypocrites going about their worship in public to be seen – how they would pray standing in the street corners.  To some extent, I feel that’s how some of these blogs and topics are being spread.  I don’t know the hearts of the people, and it’s not for me to pass judgment, but what is the point of writing or passing on a topic condemning someone – is it to “inform” them of their sin to change them? Does that ever  work? Jesus shared with people in a relational way to bring them the Good News, shouldn’t we do the same – not blast them anonymously or long-distance over the Internet?

There was a recent study done at the Beihang University in China that shows rage goes viral faster than happiness, pride, or disgust.  RAGE.  ANGER. HATE.  That’s what we’re promoting online.  And at record speeds.  And I believe if we’re honest, it’s no different in the “Christian” community.  What comments did you read about the leggings issues? Vaccines? 50 Shades of Grey? I know the ones I read.  They were filled with rage and anger and hate. 

John 13:35 says, “By this all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Are we showing that when a Christian mom in Oregon shares her thoughts on why she will no longer wear leggings in public and we verbally crucify her publicly on website after website? Are we loving each other when we mock women for their “mundane” sex lives when they state they will not see 50 Shades of Grey? WHERE IS OUR LOVE FOR EACH OTHER???

The study did show there was one emotion that went viral faster than rage – AWE.  That’s right, awe. 

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Psalm 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.”

Let’s stop spreading the rage and start spreading awe.  Like some random acts of kindness.  Or showing how God has answered prayers.  Or miracles – He still does those you know!

 

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Avoid the Valentine’s Day Trap

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Valentine’s Day really snuck up on me this year.  I just finished hurriedly rushing Daughter P. through writing her name on the back of Princess Sofia cards for her homeschool party tomorrow, which is the equivalent of a major written exam for a six-year-old.
I’m sure it’s no news to you that Valentine’s Day has become this huge high-pressure holiday – especially for men.  I went to the jewelry store the other day to get my ring checked for insurance and the sales lady kept pressuring me to fill out a “wish list” for my husband to fulfill for me for Valentine’s Day.  She just couldn’t believe I didn’t want any more jewelry.
Sure, I appreciate nice gifts – what woman doesn’t – but I don’t get putting pressure on our husbands to fulfill this perfect romantic image society has put on them on this day every single year. And don’t even get me started on this 50 Shades of Gray business.
Last year we had an amazingly romantic Valentine’s Day in Chicago seeing Phantom of the Opera and eating at Twin Anchors, the restaurant from the movie “Return to Me.” It was perfect.
Other years we’ve celebrated with all of our kids and had a “fancy” dinner all together in our kitchen with tapered candles.
This year I’m hanging out with this guy
bigbirdThat’s right – Valentine’s Day is all about Andy this year, and heaven help me, I’m going to Comic Con.  Andy is a big Jim Henson fan and we are going to meet Carol Spinney who is the man behind Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.  But it will be perfect, because the man I love will love it.  Isn’t that what the day is supposed to be about – loving each other? Since when did it just become about the women?
I guess it’s really hit home for me this year because Daughter P’s dad is choosing not to spend the evening with her so he and his girlfriend can go out – even though they have the whole weekend together.  That’s hard, because I am going to have a hurt little girl on my hands Saturday night.  So, after Big Bird, Andy and I have reservations at our local Chick-fil-A where they are having a fancy plated dinner and carriage rides, so her evening will be special no matter what.
Don’t fall into the Valentine’s Day trap ladies – don’t ruin the day over a gift (or lack of one). YOU set the tone for your home.  Even if you’re
surrounded by kids, make the day special.
Check out The Dating Divas website for some great ideas or look for The Second Chance Wife on Pinterest to see what I’ve found!
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Serving Others – A Call to Action

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Tonight I attended the memorial service for my dear friend’s mother.  She lost a hard-fought battle with cancer, and praise the Lord, she is now in the arms of her Jesus!

But as I came home, I kept mulling over the testimonies of her life that her family and friends gave, and the one thing that stuck out to me was the stories told about her attitude of service.  It was repeated over and over again by each person that stood up and spoke.  And it was true.  She was the kind of person who never met a stranger – her home was a haven to all and she went out of her way to make everyone feel like family.

Two stories in particular were really challenging to me.  Her daughter told a story about a time they were eating in a restaurant and the waitress mentioned how much she liked her mother’s purse.  So before the meal was over, her mother got a brown sack, emptied her contents into it, and gave the server her handbag.  She told the lady, “It seems like you like it much more than I do.”  Now I don’t know about you, but I like my purses, and it has never crossed my mind to just give one away to someone who has complimented me on one!

The second story was even more telling about this precious lady’s heart.  The pastor said just two weeks before she passed (and she was already in Hospice care), she called him inquiring about how she could help a family in need in their church.  Even on her (literal) death-bed, she was wanting to know how she could be a blessing to others.  This lady didn’t just serve others, she served sacrificially.  What a Biblical example of service!

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Acts 20:35 states, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

We mothers are usually good at sacrificing for our children.  If we have to choose between us getting what we need or our children, it’s a no-brainer.  Same thing for our husbands.  But do we serve sacrificially outside of our home?

I have to admit, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot in this area just by making a meal for someone or giving a homeless person on the corner some money every once in a while.  Sometimes I send out a card of encouragement.  Those things are all well and good, but they certainly didn’t cause any amount of sacrifice on my part.

I wonder what our giving and our service would look like if it really cost us something? Imagine the blessings we could bestow on others – what we could teach our children! What would you be willing to sacrifice?

– would you give up vacation $ to pay for another couple to have a much-needed weekend away?

– would you give up the chance to go to this years home school convention so another mom could go?

– would you not eat out for a month so you could give someone else grocery money?

I just can’t help much imagine what an impact we could have on the world for Jesus if we really loved and served the way the He did.  In a way that actually cost us something.  What will they remember about you at your funeral?

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What Our Children Don’t Know Won’t Hurt Them

We don’t have cable TV in our home.  The only shows we watch are when we have family movies nights, or very occasional PBS cartoons during lunchtime.

So I was appalled this week when Son I. came home from school with this Time “for Kids” Magazine with Malala Yousafzai on the cover.  In case you are not familiar with her, Malala is a young woman who was shot in the head by the Taliban on the way to school in 2012.

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The article talks about how her friends sold her out to the Taliban fighters before they shot her in the head.  According to the article, Malala was voted person of the year over Taylor Swift and Peyton Manning.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather my children vote for a singer or football player and not have any idea about a girl on the other side of the world being shot in the head on the way to school.

Another article in the same magazine talked about the terrorist attacks in France.  It said, “The week before the rallies, gunmen had shot and killed 17 innocent people in three separate attacks.  The victims included eight journalists and three police officers.  The gunmen are believed to have had ties to the terrorist groups of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.”

Son I. is in third grade.  He is nine years old.  Does he really need to know about al-Qaeda and ISIS? More than that, with Common Core, my children can barely figure out multiplication and division, much less write a cohesive paragraph, but they are spending time on this?!?

I know some of you will just tell us if we don’t like public schools to pull them out.  We already homeschool Daughter P, but due to the nature of Andy’s divorce, we have no choice but to keep our other children in the school where they are.

Secondly, I don’t advocate keeping your child naïve of all the wrongs in the world.  We strongly support missionaries in Ghana and our children understand that there are people all over the world who suffer in various ways and don’t have as much as we do in America.

But do our children need to know about terrorists and school shootings and other adult issues? And then we wonder about why childhood anxiety is on the rise.  Time magazine itself had an article suggesting up to 25% of children have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.  From scary dreams to being unable to sleep to general worry – why are we forcing our children to deal with issues that terrify us as adults?

Let our kids be kids!

Dawn

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Why MLK Day Meant So Much to Us This Year

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I grew up in Indiana, literally surrounded by cornfields.  It’s a great place to grow up, but not the most culturally diverse play(especially in the 80’s and in the rural areas).  My entire elementary school had 100 kids in it.  I grew up and went to a Christian college that had maybe a total of 10 African-Americans enrolled (and to say “African-American” is probably not accurate, because many of those students were probably foreign students actually from Africa).  I say all of that to point out that although my parents taught us to be accepting of all races, my experience and knowledge of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was relegated, like most white American children, to that one day in January when we would do some sort of craft or read one book about him.

Once I graduated with my teaching degree, I began teaching in Florida with a more diverse student population and really began focusing on incorporating more African-American history into my lesson plans and book selections.  I purposefully carried that over once I started homeschooling Daughter P, but since she was only in Pre-K last year, the books on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were a little over her head, and I didn’t feel like they made much of an impact.  But I was so wrong.

Last year we decided to go to Atlanta for our family vacation.  Mainly it was because it was only a day’s drive and there were lots of great Groupons available.  We had planned on going to the Aquarium and the Zoo, but Daughter H had recently been bringing home lots of books from the school library on famous African-Americans, so I suggested that we also go to the Martin Luther King Jr. historical sites.

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I have to admit, I wasn’t sure how we would be received – a white family with four kids walking through these historical sites that are so sacred to the African-American community, but everywhere we went, our family was warmly received and we were complimented on how well our children behaved.  But seriously, it was because they were engaged.  Without really lecturing them too much, they just got how very important it was to be where we were.  I will never forget sitting in the empty pews of the Ebenezer Baptist Church with just my family and listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preaching over the loudspeakers.  Or how we stood to leave when the sermon was over and the singing began and Daughter P said, “Can we just wait until this song is over?”

It was a scorching hot day, but we walked to each site, ending with the MLK homesite.  We had missed all the tours for the day, but the kids stood on the porch for a picture.  We walked around to the back of the house and were shocked to find the backyard was unfenced and wide open.  My husband and I stood in awe as we watched our four precious young children play in the same backyard that the great Martin Luther King Jr. had once played in as child himself.

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On the way back to the car we talked to the kids and told them maybe someday our home would become a historical site because of something great they do.  What an awesome thought! That visit became their favorite part of the trip, and they are already asking when we can go back to go inside the house.

So, this year for MLK Day, I really want to incorporate some neat activities into Daughter P’s school day.  She’s only in Kindergarten, but I found these great age-appropriate activities online, and they introduced some great discussion (I have included the links when appropriate).

We began the day by watching the “I Have a Dream Speech” on YouTube.  (Yes, Rosie the puppy dog watched too.)

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Next, we read the book “Martin’s Big Words” by Doreen Rappaport and completed this “I Have a Dream” worksheet.

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Lastly, we used this “I Have a Dream” form to examine two differently colored eggs and make some observations.

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We still live in a mostly Caucasian suburb in Indiana.  And no, I don’t believe for one second that such simple activities mean that racism won’t ever be a part of my children’s thoughts or behaviors.  But it’s a start.  Are the race problems in our country solved? Absolutely not.  But I am proud that we have come so far.  I am proud that my children can’t imagine a time in our country when white children and black children weren’t allowed to go to the same school or site together in a movie theater.  I am glad that they don’t pick friends based on the color of their skin, but based on how much they get along with them.  And I pray that I can teach them how to fight injustice, so they will teach their children, and one day perhaps we will live in such a nation that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of.

Dawn

  (p.s. Although MLK day has passed for 2015, these would be great activities to use for Black History Month as well!)

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When the Marriage is Over, but the Wedding Dress Remains

When I got married the first time, I had one of those pretty big, fancy weddings most brides have these days.  I was never really one of those “it’s my day – I must have my way” kind of brides, but I was pretty insistent on my dress.  As soon as I got engaged (like, that night), I went to Wal-Mart, bought a magazine, and picked it out.  The dress.  A few months later I went with my mom and Grandma to David’s Bridal, tried it on, and it fit perfectly.  I did not need a single alteration.  It was meant to be.  I seriously loved that dress.  But alas, a wedding lasts only a day, and all to soon the day was over and the dress was put into storage.  I thought for a while like most moms that maybe I would save it for Daughter P to wear, but once my first marriage ended in divorce, I just felt weird keeping it around.  It wasn’t really the symbol of marriage that I want for her to wear on her wedding day.  It doesn’t represent what it should.  And, let’s be honest, styles will be totally different by then, and she will probably hate it.

So I opted to keep my “crown” that I wore for her instead, but I could never figure out what do with the dress.  I tried to sell it at a few garage sales, but no one bought it.  I thought about having it turned into a quilt, but I never had it done.  I just couldn’t bear to give it to Goodwill, so it’s sat in my garage for almost 9 years.

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Today, a friend of mine shared a local newspaper article on Facebook about two infants without any family buried in a joint ceremony given by members of the community (source The Indy Star).  As a mother of four, I was deeply affected, as a always am, not only by the deaths of these precious babies, but by the fact that they died and were buried without any loved ones around them.  Although I know they now rest in the arms of their Heavenly Father, the world is just so cruel and unfair sometimes.

And yet in the midst of these tragedies, my old wedding gown, with it’s own reminders of betrayals and sin, I find can now be repurposed for good.  Little Angel Gowns is a non-profit organization takes donations of not only wedding gowns, but all formal dresses (hello hideous bridesmaid gowns!) and first communion dresses, and makes them into burial gowns for infants who either have no family or whose families cannot afford to bury them.  They then work with other local companies to provide all the components for a complete burial for these children.

I looked up their website (they are also on Facebook), and I will be donating my dress this week at a drop-off center in my town.  Although I live in Indiana, they have sites in Alabama, California and Iowa as well.  If there is not a location in your state, perhaps there is a similar organization.

I am overwhelmed once again at how God continues to take the dirt and sin and mistakes from my first marriage and provides the grace to transform them into something redeemable and useful for something else. Truly nothing is too broken for Him!

Dawn