Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Speaking the Fruits of the Spirit...

I have heard before that raising your kids basically takes "a village" and in many ways I think the Bible teaches this truth. Older women are called to teach the younger what they have learned and older men are to encourage the younger. In our family we are always on the lookout for biblical, creative and wise tactics that we believe will help us raise Asher and Zoee for the glory of the Lord. Proverbs continually says that wisdom "shouts" in the streets if only the simple will listen and heed her words. I have been meaning to share one of the best pieces of wisdom that was passed on to me but life gets crazy so I am just now able to sit down to do it. This nugget of wisdom has helped tremendously in our parenting in this new season with little ones that talk constantly and are now able to reason and think through situations.

A friend of mine shared with me years ago that her mentor tried as often as she could to use the words from the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) when she was parenting her kids. I tucked this nugget of wisdom away for a time but would often think about how brilliant it seemed to make this connection between reading God's word to your kids and actually using it in your daily parenting! In America we have these somewhat fluffy words that are often vague and hard to define (like "sweet" or "nice") and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with using these words when we parent, I was so encouraged by the wisdom that this older mother shared that encouraged me to use biblical words when trying to shape my children's character. I have found that using words from the Proverbs as well as from Galatians 5:22-23 (fruits of the Spirit) has been extremely helpful with Asher and Zoee. My hope is that they are being encouraged daily to have godly traits in their minds in hopes that one day they will come to be believers in Jesus and already have a grasp on the characteristics that are pleasing to the Lord. It has been so neat to talk with them about the difference between being foolish and wise and to see them talk about a movie character or book character that is being either humble or prideful. It makes it so much easier to take things in our everyday lives and relate them to the Lord when we are using His vocabulary on a continual basis.

This morning, Asher and Zoee were both being unkind and not treating each other with humility. We sat down to talk about why they were both sent to their rooms and it was so amazing to see the connections that Zoee made. I asked her why she was in trouble and she stated, "I was being prideful... like Mother Gothel (from Tangled). You know Mother Gothel, right mom? She is prideful and not kind. I was not being kind to Asher." I was so encouraged to see that she was making the connection and that she was able to see the prideful attitude in Mother Gothel (and herself).

This might seem like a very simple parenting tip that has been passed on, but for me it has been absolutely wonderful. I am so thankful for God's provision through the body of Christ. He is always willing to teach and encourage us if we will just be open to receiving His help.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE,  JOY,  PEACE,  PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL; against such things there is no law."
~Galatians 5:22-23

And just for fun and because I think they are precious, here are some pictures of our not-so-little kiddos!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Latest Mommy Convictions...

When we entered parenthood I feel like we entered a whole new arena of sanctification. When you become a parent, it becomes very clear to you how easy it is to be selfish and prideful yet there are so many new opportunities to grow in humility and selflessness. At first, the Lord gives you this precious newborn who is so small and fragile that you cannot help but love it. A few days after giving birth, you realize that you are pretty much on your own (as a couple) to raise this little human for the glory of Jesus! Wow! What a huge blessing BUT huge responsibility. The newborn stage can be pretty tough sometimes because at first children do not really "give back" much. They just cry and pee and eat... they don't really even smile that much. Once they start to smile and "talk" a little and giggle, you start to see that this really is a little person that you have been given to raise. My latest conviction comes a little bit from that reality...

I have been reading through 1 Corinthians lately and just the other day the Lord convicted and encouraged me so much in my perspective on parenting. 1 Corinthians 3:5-8 is usually used by church leaders to remind themselves that we are all working for the building up of the same kingdom. For us to find pride in being of one certain denomination or even one specific church is not what Paul (and the Lord) want. We should not become arrogant in following a certain leader or being part of the newest Christian movement. Our security and pride should come in us belonging to Christ. People are just vessels used by the Lord; He causes the growth.

While this is true for church leaders, this truth ministered to me in such a new way this past week as a mom. I am just an empty vessel for the Lord. I do not cause my children to grow... the Lord does. I am called to do my part to "plant" and "water" and give them the necessary tools so that the Lord can show Himself to them but I cannot change their hearts. With this being true, I was convicted again about not finding my identity in my children. If they know tons of bible verses or can spout out cute prayers- this should not puff me up and make me feel secure in my parenting. Christ is my security... finding my identity in anything else will leave me unsatisfied. If I live my life trying to see fruit in my children that I think I have "made," I know that I will make them feel burdened and enslaved to my ideas of what their lives should look like. I will find myself disappointed at times when I don't feel like they measure up to my standards and prideful at other times when I feel like they are making my parenting look good.  I know this is not God's heart for mothers (or fathers). Again, the identity of a mother still needs to be found in Christ. We are His workers, called to minister to our husbands and children with all of the strength that He gives. We must remember, though, that ultimately He is the one that grows and saves our children.

This truth was so humbling yet freeing for me. It also reminded me of the importance of praying diligently for my children. Their salvation is not in my hands. The way they live and the way they will live in the future is not in my hands. I must continually be seeking the mercy of God on their behalf. This is where the real power comes. We can work tirelessly to shove every bible verse into the minds of our children but only the power of the Lord can change their hearts. I pray that He would draw my little children close to Him and reveal His glory and power to them at a vey young age. I pray that He would allow them to love Him with all of their hearts and souls. Only Jesus can do this.

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each other? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters but God who gives the increase."
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Galvestion Trip!

Our kiddos love the beach. They love running through the waves. They love playing in the sand and building sandcastles. They love collecting sea shells and racing cars through the sand. They love all things "beachy" except the seaweed and getting salt water in their eyes! This past weekend we were able to go to the beach with some incredible friends and stay in an amazing beach house. We all had a blast. Even though it rained in little spurts, we had a great time and the parents even got to get in an insanity workout! A big thanks to Nana Burke for entertaining the kids while we squatted ourselves to death!! Here are some pictures from our little trip. Sorry there are not pictures of us doing insanity- that might have made for a great laugh but I wasn't thinking about photography at that moment =).

My big FOUR year old- Asher Sullivan!!

Lovin' the waves! Can't even tell it's Galveston here, huh? 

Zoee Scout!!!


Best friends!

 The Howard Kiddos!!

Love them!!

Uncle Burke treated the kiddos to ice cream from the ice cream truck! Brings back memories for sure!!

Life can be messy sometimes but it's much better to go through the messy times with great friends! =)

Dear Zoee...

Dear Zoee,
Oh my little spicy princess! I am so incredibly thankful for you! You are almost THREE years old and I cannot believe it. You make our whole family smile every day. You bring so much joy and excitement to our home. A few days ago you told Daddy the sweetest thing... Here was your conversation with him...
Zoee: "Daddy, Jesus makes me new. Jesus makes my heart sparkle."
Daddy: "Really, Jesus makes your heart sparkle?"
Zoee: "Yes, lots of sparkles! Jesus makes it sparkle a LOT!"

That's you baby girl! Our little sparkle. Here are some things going on in your almost 3 year old life...

1. You are very very affectionate. Pretty much everyday you will have a cuddle time with Daddy and me when you just wrap your arms around us and snuggle with us so tight. You make us stand up and "hold you tall" as you call it. I absolutely love seeing you snuggle with your Daddy. I pray that one day Jesus will bless you with a husband as AWESOME as him!
2. You love to dance, sing, and LAUGH! You and Asher have little "dance offs" quite often and it's definitely entertaining!
3. You love your friends. When Kinley had to go home last night after bible study you got this very sad face. We asked you what was wrong and you said that your heart was sad because you "love Kinley so much" and were going to miss her! I love the way that you passionately love others.
4. You make sure to give everyone a kiss and a hug before they leave. If anyone accidentally leaves without you being able to hug and kiss them, you get very sad.
5. You love to color. I got you some smelly markers and some glitter crayons and you seriously can sit there for 30 minutes drawing and coloring.
6. You love playdough. Almost everyday when I go running on the treadmill you will sit next to me at your table and make shapes and balls with playdough.
7. You love candy but not really chocolate. You are like your Daddy in that. You love starbursts and sour patch kids and sweet tarts- anything that is gummy or just plain sugar! You also love Krazy Kookie Dough ice cream (just like me).
8. You love to go to the splash pad and run through the sprinklers there.
9. You love making friends. You will say hi to almost anyone.
10. You love getting your nails painted, "wearing makeup" (sparkle lip gloss), and wearing your watches and bracelets. I am so thankful for a girl to share "girl things" with!
11. You love being Asher's sister and often remind him that you get to go first in most things because you "are a lady."

Baby girl, I could not have dreamed up a more wonderful little girl. You love others so well. You bring so much life and joy to those that you are around. At times you can be stubborn and selfish but overall you just overflow with spunk and love! We love you so much and pray that you will, by God's sweet grace, channel all of your passion into pursuing Jesus.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Dear Asher...

Dear Asher,
This one is going to be short even though there are so many new things going on in your life! You are 4 years old but sometimes you act like you think you are 30! You love to learn and you love to share what you have been learning. This summer has been so full for your little life. Here are some things going on with you lately...

1. You started soccer and are on team Argentina.
2. You started school and we are in a co-op called Classical Conversations. You have another friend in your class named Asher and you really love that! You really seem to enjoy both school and soccer very much. You are a very fast runner and seem to really enjoy being part of a team.
3. This summer you learned to swim and you read your first word- Dad! You were so excited when you learned to swim and you absolutely must have your goggles or you wont even think about it!
4. You still love sweets! Anything with sugar is right up your alley!
5. You love riding your bike and you are pretty fast.
6. You love to help and protect your sister. Sometimes you enjoy irritating her but mostly you enjoy being the "big" brother.
7. You enjoy art and especially love coloring with smelly markers!
8. You still love climbing and it keeps me seeking the protection of Jesus! I love that you are adventurous but I also want to make sure that you are safe- it's a difficult balance but I am certainly trying.
9. You love dinosaurs and dragons.
10. You love cars and trucks.
11. You love legos and building things with blocks.

You are "all boy!" I am so thankful for your sensitive and adventurous spirit. You love others really well and are great at showing affection to others. You are strong willed but we pray that the Lord will channel that in order to make you someone who is not swayed in the future. We pray that your determination and resolve will be used for the Lord's glory. Here are some picture from your first soccer game. Your friend Kinley came to watch and cheer for you! You did really well but it was very hot so you were pretty worn out by the end. Son, we love you so so much! You bring us so much joy. We pray that you will grow to know and love Jesus.