Category Archives: Elijah

Remembering the Gift – A Deeper Waters Guest Post

Recently my friend Denise Hughes reached out to me and asked if I wanted to participate in her study of the book of James over at her Deeper Waters site. It is always an honor to be asked by fellow writers that I esteem to join in their ministry and so I happily said yes.

We each had to choose a set of verses in James to study further and write on. I knew immediately which verses I wanted or should I say needed to write on.

James 1: 19-25 specifically addresses anger. This has long been a struggle for me. My temper has caused hurt and pain and I continue to have the opportunity to practice a different response.

It just so happened that I learned from one of those opportunities recently and I am sharing my heart over at the Deeper Waters site this morning. I would love if you would join me over there and I encourage you to sign up for the daily emails and keep walking through the book of James with us!

Happy Monday!

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Deeper Waters website

My Warrior Boy

My posts here have been few and far between it seems. I have had lots that I could share but no time to sit down and tap out a post. So I am stealing away a few minutes at work to share an incredible story about our youngest son.

Elijah is seven and in the first grade. Like most kids his age he is starting to lose his baby teeth. It started with his two bottom teeth. Getting the baby teeth out has been painful. Not really painful for him, but for me. I can’t stand seeing loose teeth. When I was little and would get a wiggly tooth, it would be out. I worked it until it came out.

Elijah was filled with fear over the pain that might happen if he let us pull the tooth. So back in December he had a VERY loose tooth on the top. He refused to let us touch it. It was ready to come out around Christmas….it actually came out 2 weeks ago.

It was dead and grey and crooked and he refused to let us touch it. When we realized how much his new tooth had descended and that the old tooth was pushing on it in a bad way, we told him it was time. Dominic tied a string around it and it came out so fast. He had built up this fear of pain so much and in reality it was hardly anything.

Once that first top tooth was out the one next to it seemed to get more and more loose. It detached on one side completely and was crooked hanging in his mouth. In addition he had a tooth on the bottom that was also ready and on Monday night Elijah bumped it while eating and it was hanging on by a thread.

Last night we tried to convince him to pull the bottom tooth. I told him that he was a warrior and he could handle the pain. Dominic remembered an old favorite song of ours from the 80’s (The Warrior) and started playing it on the computer. (I’ve shared a video below in case you want a trip down memory lane!)

So we were all dancing around and acting goofy. Elijah and I were going around the dining room table and all of a sudden our dog, who has become a bit excited over all the commotion, came running out into the kitchen and into Elijah. Elijah falls to the ground and the dog apparently swiped her paw on Elijah’s mouth and BOTH of his teeth popped out!

It was so unbelievable.

Elijah started freaking out because his mouth was bleeding and one of the teeth was missing. It was an interesting sight seeing all of us on our hands and knees in the dining room crawling around with flashlights looking for the missing tooth. It was found and Elijah started feeling pretty proud of himself.

I told him that he was my warrior boy and that I don’t know that anyone else in the world will lose two teeth at the same time, because of the dog’s paw, AND on Valentine’s Day. What a story he had to tell today at school! 🙂 I thought I would share it here so that we won’t ever forget what a crazy Valentine’s Day we had in 2017! 🙂

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Three Truths Experiment

ThreeTruthsExperiment

There seems to be something changing in our family. A few weeks ago we started naming truths about our kids and they are claiming them for their own. It has been incredible to watch them step into a belief of who they are in Christ instead of falling to the whispers that they are not good enough, or bad.

I am challenged by what I have seen, especially with Elijah, and want to start claiming some truths for myself.

I am 41 years young. I have spent the majority of my almost 15,000 days on this earth believing more often that I lack value, than days standing firm on who I am in God.

When my daughter cried that she was a terrible person I rebelled at the notion for her, but when I really think about it, I know I have claimed that for my own life time and time again.

Well it is time for a change and so I have decided to do a “Three Truths Experiment.”

I am going to choose 3 character traits that I believe God has created me with and I am going to start living in those truths. Looking for ways to use His gifts to be a blessing to others.

I was asked by a friend how we chose the three truths for our kids. It all started with Elijah. He had received a note home from a teacher saying how kind and compassionate he was. I knew that about him but this solidified it for him too. We added brave because I told him it takes bravery to keep making good choices, to be kind to those who may not be kind back.

After naming Elijah’s, we moved on to Karlena. Elijah was very helpful in picking out good qualities in his siblings.  And so adventurous, kind and brave were named for our girl.

Gabriel was given hard-working, caring and generous and Isaac – funny, helpful and creative. I loved that the younger kids wanted to help in choosing positive truths for their older brothers!

We told our kids that these three truths aren’t the only things that we believe they are gifted with…but 10 truths per child for me to remember was going to be too much! 🙂 As I shared already, Elijah has added helpful to his list on his own. He is starting too see these positive traits in himself and others and is owning them!

Isn’t that the whole point?

Recognizing the positive things about ourselves and walking in those truths instead of being weighed down by lies that we aren’t good enough, we are failures etc.

So I am going to do this little experiment myself, and I’d love for you to join me.

Will you join me in establishing three truths for your life and then start walking through each day in full acceptance of those truths?

I have a sneaking suspicion that if we do this we will start to see a change. A change in how we see ourselves, how we see others and interact with our fellow man.

I have seen it in my son. Especially in those difficult moments. He is still six, he too can be selfish and sneaky, naughty even. But recognizing the truth of who God created him to be has changed how quickly those negative moments turn to good.

I want the freedom that he has, I want to walk in truth instead of being weighed down by lies. I know that God created each of us for a specific purpose, it’s high time we start living into that calling.

I will be praying over my words and will be back soon to share what my three truths are.

Are you in?!

Empowered to Choose

Choose Elijah

I shared last week about how I had given my kids 3 words. Words that might encourage them to see how God created them. Words that would inspire them to be a blessing to others. I saw it working right away…it is pretty amazing actually and I only wish I had figured this out years ago.

I guess it has been born of my own recent self discovery.

I have been stuck for so long in a place where I felt defined by my failures, where I wanted to be defined by my accomplishments, seeking man’s approval and not considering how I was created in the image of God.

I have walked through life making choices, having responses, laying blame and not taking responsibility for who I was because I wasn’t able to see who I was in Christ. Yes I committed my life to Him and believed I was saved, but I always saw myself as the messy sinner that I was.

I thought I had an understanding of grace, but never really for myself.

But I am realizing that living in this way, full of lies and weighed down by past sins isn’t the life giving freedom that God wants us to walk in, through Him. It is exactly why He sacrificed His son…so we didn’t have to live this way.

I see my own kids responding to life in many of the ways that I have, and I wanted it to change. Yes they would continue to make mistakes, we all do, but what if they could fill their minds and hearts with truth instead? Would it make a difference?

It has and it does.

Elijah has been the most impacted. He held the door again after school for his classmates. He apparently volunteered in the classroom when his teacher was out for the day and his substitute sent a note home and said he was her hero.

Do you know what it does to a young child to be called a hero?!

This morning we were talking on the way to school and he said he wanted to add a 4th word to his list! He called himself helpful. Then he proceeded to name some strengths he saw in me.

He is looking for the good in others and then telling them. He is six. Imagine what a lifetime of hearing and affirming the truth about who God created him to be will do?!

In choosing 3 simple words for my son he is now empowered to choose more truths for himself and others.

He is choosing to see that God created him for good. At six he has a purpose, he believes these truths about himself. He won’t always get it right, but he is embracing the positive instead of believing the negative lies.

Oh how I want everyone to be transformed in the way my son has. We need to start claiming the truths of who God created us to be. Stop believing the lies that you are too dirty, too broken, too sin-filled to be used by God.

Name 3 truths about who God created you to be and start walking in them today. {<====Click to Tweet}

I have maybe shared this song with you already, but it is such a powerful song that I wanted to share it today. It is called Clean by Natalie Grant and the words so speak to who I have seen myself to be, and the the reality of who I am in Christ.

God is restoring my heart and my life piece by piece. I can see it in even the smallest of ways and I am just humbled by His grace in my life.

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Email subscribers watch the video here.

Kind, Compassionate and Brave

Elijah kind compassionate and brave

Last week I shared a little about a parenting failure I had. And I shared that I had decided to start encouraging my kids with 3 words that would describe some of the gifts God had created them with.

So every morning when I take Elijah to school I have been reminding him that he is kind, compassionate and brave and that God made him special that way and he should keep his eyes open for opportunities to use those gifts to be a blessing to others.

As parents we hope that the wisdom we are trying to impart to our kids sticks. Sometimes it feels like it goes in one ear and out the other…but in this case the simple things I was telling Elijah were making a difference.

In addition to these truths, I want to make sure that they know that regardless of how they behave they are loved no matter what. It is a message they need to hear, over and over again.

Yesterday Elijah was being a little naughty. He was supposed to write 100 words for his homework and the 100th day of school coming up here in a few days. He had been playing for the majority of the day so I thought a short break to write 10 more words would be a good idea.

He wasn’t thrilled.

He started squirming in his seat. He wrote with poor handwriting and pretended not to know how to spell a few words I knew he had down. So I took it away from him and sent him upstairs. I was angry yes, but clearly we weren’t getting anywhere.

A little while later he came down to apologize to me. He said “I know you are angry at me…” I grabbed his hand and reminded him that he was kind, compassionate and brave. I told him that I know how good he does at school and I felt like he wasn’t trying very hard on his homework. Yes it made me angry but it doesn’t change how much I loved him. I asked him to forgive me for being angry and then he went to finish his words.

We finished the last 40 words in no time. And I could tell he was proud of the work he did. This scenario could have played out so much differently, my response can make all the difference and I am seeing just how true that is recently.

Today started like it has the past week, we talked about Gabriel’s 3 words on the way to the middle school and then I gave my encouragement speech to Elijah as he left the car. What a wonderful way to send then off to their teachers, head held high with 3 truths of who they are in God.

When I went to pick him up from school he was a little late coming out. He asked me if I knew why he took so long…no buddy, what happened?

I expected something negative, but then he said this.

“I held the door for all of the 1st and 2nd grade classes mom, you know why? Because I am kind, compassionate and brave.”

Yes you are son, yes you are.

He was using those truths, that in less than a week he has embedded into his heart, to be a blessing to someone else.

God is moving in that boy and I am blessed to have a first hand view of it.

What 3 words might make a mighty difference in the lives of your kids? Look I am NO expert at parenting. I could write a book on all the mistakes you want to avoid with your kids because I have pretty much made them all. But this 3 words idea has already made an amazing impact on my kids and on me. So maybe it is worth a try?!

The New Face of Brave

Elijah pool 1Elijah has been taking swimming lessons every Tuesday and Thursday evening for a few weeks. The first night we got there they had him in level 3. We aren’t a huge “spend the summer at the pool” family…so he has been in a big pool maybe 3 times.

He didn’t know a thing about it.

They thankfully moved him into the Level 1 class after the first night and it has been fun to watch him swim. He works hard, and even when it is tough, he smiles and keeps going.

He is one brave boy, my Elijah.

Tonight the teacher asked at the beginning of the class who wanted to jump off the diving board at the end of class.

He initially didn’t raise his hand and I was secretly relieved.

I had visions of a drowning accident, what if he let go of his noodle…what if she didn’t catch him. The water is 13ft deep and he doesn’t know how to swim yet without assistance.

Quite honestly, the whole idea seemed ludicrous to me…what was she thinking?! 

At the end of the class they headed towards the diving pool….and there was Elijah right in line with the rest of the kids.

Was he going to go through with it?

Elijah Pool 2He walked out on that board and put his toes on the very edge just like his teacher said. She was treading water ready to catch them as they jumped.

And then he just went for it.

Elijah Pool 3

What I loved most was that he didn’t timidly jump in, he leaped.

He trusted the noodle float, he trusted his swim instructor and he went for it.

My brave boy Elijah is such an example to me. He shows me how to be brave.

Elijah Pool 4

So often I won’t even step up to the ladder.

I know that I am going to be scared looking down at the unknown. I feel unsure of the next step and so I quit before I start.

And taking that leap? Heavens no. I am not brave like that…

But my boy reminded me today that sometimes we make a choice to do something even when we feel afraid.

Elijah told me later that he initially didn’t want to do it, but then he decided to be brave and try.

We all have that choice don’t we?

When we are facing a big decision, a job change, an unknown situation of any kind…we have a choice.

We can make the choice to stay stuck in fear, or we can choose to jump anyways.

Elijah trusted he would be ok, he choice faith over fear and became the new face of brave for me.

What a gift to watch it all unfold before my eyes.

Next time I am faced with something that induces fear, or worry or doubt I will remember my boy who lept into the scary and came out a little bit stronger from the experience.

A Chapter Ending….

school bus

We have made some unexpected decisions (well unexpected to me) in the last week which means some changes are ahead in our family starting next fall.

We had conferences this week for both Elijah and Karlena. If you remember we made the decision last year to hold Elijah back from starting Kindergarten and gave him another year in preschool. We chose to send him to Preschool FT so that he would get school every day.

It is a decision that I struggled with only because my niece, (my sister’s daughter) who is only a few days older than Elijah, was starting Kindergarten. I worried that as cousins they might discover the difference as they got older and Elijah might be upset. The reality is this was way more about me because Elijah will likely NEVER care!

Our decision was affirmed when we had conferences. Elijah has grown and matured this year. For the most part he thrives as a leader and he is all over better prepared to head to Kindergarten next year.

And as we talked about Karlena, we started considering sending her FT next fall to best prepare her as well. Karlena is a December birthday so the decision of when to send her to kindergarten is a bit easier. But we still want to make sure that she has the best possible start.

After discussions with both her current teacher and Elijah’s teacher we decided that we will send her FT next year. This in itself is a big deal, but my heart strings hurt a little at the thought of not bringing her to her daycare anymore.

Before we even placed an offer on a house we signed a contract with Markel. I don’t even really know how I found her originally (GOD), we had started considering a move here to MN but I wouldn’t even commit until I knew there were quality daycare options available.

I spent hours searching online, making calls and nothing was open. Nothing. We had a 2 year old and a newborn and no one had an opening for both. It seemed hopeless and then I got Markel’s name and called her. Apparently she had a family that had 2 children the same age and just that week had announced that they were moving unexpectedly.

Here was the opening we needed. But of course you can’t make a decision over the phone so we scheduled a time to meet her the next weekend we would be in MN house hunting.

We knew she was the perfect person to take care of our kids and immediately signed a contract. We didn’t move for 5 months and there was a time we didn’t know if we would…but knowing we had Markel available if the move happened, gave me peace.

I haven’t regretted that decision once in the past 4 years.

Markel is family to us. And while I knew this change was coming eventually, I honestly didn’t think it would happen for another year.

I know she is just blocks away and I know we will see her (and likely use her to help with Karlena as needed)…it is just a little sad for this chapter to be closing.

I can’t tell you how grateful that I am that Markel has been such an amazing provider for our kids the past 4 years. She has loved our kids as her own, she is a blessing through and through.

Thank you Markel. Thank you for loving our kids, for potty training them in 3 days (seriously she is a miracle worker when it comes to that!!!), for praying for us and supporting us in so many ways when we were both unemployed. You spend your day providing the best environment for our kids when they can’t be with us and our thanks don’t seem to be enough. We are blessed to call you family and praise God for orchestrating our meeting. You are a gift. And while this chapter closes, it isn’t the end. My prayer is that God pours out His blessings on you and your family because you have done the same to ours. We love you!

Do you have someone you are extra grateful for? Why don’t you take a moment today and let them know!

Photo Credit: redjar

Just Paint – A Riches of His Love Parenting Series…Advice from the WORST mom ever!

Parenting Series

I hadn’t even been home from work for 5 minutes and I was ready to go back.

Yes it was Friday night and I should have been excited about the upcoming weekend, but the reality was that I walked into kids fighting and I could feel my blood pressure rise immediately.

What is it about fighting, screaming kids that can push you over the edge?!

The past two days had been especially bad. Elijah spent the early part of the week away at a fun camp with his grandparents and cousin Isabel. Apparently he cried every night for us but once he came home, the “missing mom feelings” wore off and his temper and sass were back in full force.

I tried some calm and positive correction.

His response?

“I don’t like your attitude mom”

Excuse me?!

Anything I or his brother Gabriel said to him he repeated in a taunting voice. He was testing the waters big time!

Then he told me that he couldn’t stop being naughty because they devil was making him do it and because the devil was making him misbehave it wasn’t really his fault. (Seriously?!)

I could feel myself getting more and more angry and it was work to keep my voice from yelling back at him.

And then I decided to ask him what he wanted to do. What was it that would help him to behave?

“Paint, I want to paint.”

He has asked to paint before and usually I find a reason not to bring out the paints. It always seems like such a hassle.

But for some reason this night I thought it was worth a try. No he hadn’t “deserved” the right to do something he really wanted to do. He had been nothing but naughty for almost 2 hours straight, but I was desperate for a change…so I said yes.

Just Paint

We got out the watercolors and a few sheets of paper, a cup of water and he was ready to go.

He painted for maybe 10 minutes. 10 blissful, sass-free minutes and it was wonderful. 

Within a half hour he was right back to burping at his brother and chasing his sister. Short-lived peace, yes, but I learned a good lesson.

Sometimes we have to be willing to try something new. We need to say yes to things like painting if it means we will be able to regain some of our sanity, even if just for a few minutes.

What have you said yes to, in order to get some peace from your kids?! I’d love for you to share your stories in the comments below!!

Five Minute Friday – Grateful

Elijah 2

Welcome to Five Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo! The day that writers gather in this online space to write for 5 minutes, no edits, with a single word prompt!

Today’s prompt: GRATEFUL

Oh this little man of mine, how can he be almost 5 already?! On the 18th we will celebrate his birthday, another year, and today I remember the miracle that he really is and I am grateful!

Dominic and I struggled to get pregnant with both Gabriel and Elijah. I was tired of the negative pregnancy tests, tired of the no’s and just wanted something to “fix” what was wrong with me.

We went to see our doctor after over a year of trying and got the same news that we had with Gabriel, for various reasons the likelihood of us getting pregnant on our own was very very small.

There were a couple of things that we thought we would try though and scheduled a “routine” and minor surgery to have some endometriosis removed and to check out the condition of everything inside of me.

It is standard that they run a pregnancy test before the surgery, just to make sure and like every month prior, it was negative. I was holding onto the littlest hope that I had that this procedure might just do the trick.

The surgery went well and I went home to recover. I had the normal after-symptoms from a procedure like that and felt confident that in the next few months we could start trying again…

And then several weeks later I got heartburn.

One thing I have learned about myself is that I don’t ever get heartburn, except when I am pregnant. I was out in Colorado visiting Karlena and we had to stop at a Walgreens to buy some tums…she knew something was up but I was in denial – it was impossible.

But through God all things are possible and boy did He show off with this one! 🙂

I went home and took a pregnancy test and sure enough I saw the 2 pinks lines. I figured I must be like 2 weeks along based on when I had the surgery but I called my doctor and she had me come in for an ultrasound.

When the technician came in she started the scan and then said “Congratulations, here’s your baby and you are 6 1/2 weeks along!” 

I started crying, it didn’t make sense…that would mean that I would have been pregnant during my surgery. It wasn’t possible! I had taken a pregnancy test…they wouldn’t have done the surgery had they known I was pregnant because the likelihood of loosing the egg would have been too great.

But God…oh how grateful I am that He is bigger than any “likelihood” in my life!

The doctor believed that the egg must have implanted on the day of the surgery, my HCG levels would not have started to really increase yet, thus the negative pregnancy test…and somehow even with all they did inside of me, my Elijah hung on and now we celebrate another year with him in our family.

Life is a gift. Being a mother is hard, and my Elijah tests my patience on many days but he is a sweetheart and a gift and I won’t ever stop being grateful for the blessing that he is in our family.

Happy Birthday a few days early my son, I am so grateful for you.

**Disclaimer…this post took me an extra minute or two to finish, but I figured my Elijah was worth breaking the rules for this once** 😉

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Tough Parenting – A Lesson in Honesty

Pirate Treasure

Parenting is hard. And I realize that this isn’t a new idea, especially to those of you in the thick of raising a 3-5yr old child. But there is just something about those ages that is TOUGH!

And quite honestly, I often get lazy. I know that I am not always the best example but last night I needed to be a good example, even when it would have been easy to let this one thing slide.

Elijah dug some items out of his backpack before dinner. A pirate’s treasure if you will (see picture above).

I asked him where he got it and he said that his teachers gave it to him. Something seemed fishy about that so I started asking him some more questions.

When I came out and just asked him if he was lying…well his face turned down to the ground, he sighed and said yes.

He didn’t have to tell me…I already knew.

So I asked him to get a baggie (which he did reluctantly and with pouting) and told him that we had to bring the items back to school.

“But I really just wanted them mom!!”

Oh son, I know! I get it, I really do. And if I were judging this situation on the value of the items…maybe I would justify letting it slide.

But on principal alone it is important that he learn this hard truth about honesty.

I told him that God wants us to always tell the truth, that we can’t take things just because we want them…and that we were going to have to tell his teachers the truth.

He asked me if he could just sneak them back into the classroom. Oh yes he did!

I told him that wasn’t being honest either.

He knows it was wrong to take them, and he needs to admit what he did. I promised him that I would stand with him so he didn’t have to do it alone…and said that I was pretty sure his teachers would forgive him.

But telling the truth was necessary.

So tomorrow, on the day that they are also celebrating his birthday a few weeks early, we will be bringing cookies to class for treats and a little bag of pirate treasure and learning the heard lesson on being honest.

Hopefully, if he ever feels like taking something again that isn’t rightfully his, he will think about this experience and remember that there is a consequence when we don’t tell the truth…when we steal.

But he doesn’t have to do it alone. I will stand with him, encourage the good behavior and remind him that I love him even when he makes mistakes.

My God has done the same with me time and time again.

Sometimes the sting of my actions hurts and taking responsibility is something that doesn’t always come easily…but when I do, there is forgiveness and lessons learned.

I don’t expect Elijah or any of my kids to be perfect but I can work to teach them right from wrong. As parents it is all we can do to stay afloat most days, so have faith that you are not alone.

Yes parenting is hard, but I am so grateful that God is standing beside me encouraging me along the journey!

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