Thinking and Acting

Friday, August 1, 2014 

Thinking without acting?

I like to think, ponder, consider. And sometimes I think more than I act, unfortunately.

Acting without thinking? Oh, yes. I’m a redhead; I’ve been known to react a time or two without thinking.

It seems thinking and acting are best when they’re joined; fused with a foundation of truth, they’re a powerful combination. More about that later, with my fifth favorite, a quote.

I’m linking up with Susanne today for Friday’s Fave Five, my favorite exercise in being thankful.

Here are my favorites from this week: 

1. Having lunch with my husband. This is one of the joys of summertime. It’s great when he comes home for lunch and I get to spend an extra hour or so with him.

2. Friends’ books! I have two friends launching books today. One is Heather Strickland, who has participated in Friday’s Fave Five. She has just finished a devotional book called At the Master’s Feet. It’s available for Kindle, on Amazon!

And a friend and former student, Nicole Lataif, has just released her second children’s book, I Forgive You: Love We Can Hear, Ask For, and Give. I love that concept—that forgiveness is love we can hear. Nicole’s book is charming and, most importantly, full of truth. Nicole's book is available in hardcover and for Kindle, on Amazon.

3. Lunch with friends. That’s what I’ll be doing today, and I’m looking forward to it! And on another note, although going back to school to teach has its down sides—like getting up earlier and bringing grading home—I’ll get to spend my lunch with friends from Monday to Friday. I’m thankful for my school buddies.

4. Finding gold amidst the pages. I mentioned last week that I’m embarking on the Ph.D. adventure, and basically, that means I’m doing a lot to keep Amazon in business. I am so excited about some of the books I’ll be studying. I’m finishing up a last course for another degree, and I’m in the thick of Fyodor Dostoevsky right now. Dostoevsky is an acquired taste, but once you love him, you LOVE him. Listen to this: 

“It was a bright, warm, still July night, a cool mist rose from the broad river, we could hear the splash of a fish, the birds were still, all was hushed and beautiful, everything praying to God” (Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov, 273).

What a beautiful description of creation!

5. A quote:

“Faith is not the absence of thinking, but it is thinking and acting on the basis of the Word and promises of God.” (Tim Keller)

This is a great reminder for me as I plunge into more study. The melding of faith and thinking and acting upon God’s Word and promises is what it’s all about! 

All my thinking and reading are pretty much useless unless they have some connection to His Word and promises…and they do no one any good until they come to life in what I do every day.

Wishing you time to think and act, with faith, this week.

The Wonders to Come

Friday  July 25, 2014

The wonders to come—that’s a glorious subject, isn’t it?

More on those wonders, even amidst a rocky path, in my fifth favorite, a quote.

Join me as I recount the blessings of the past week…and a couple of the weeks before that, too.

I’ve been “out of pocket” for quite a while, busy with summer and traveling and family and study. Feeling thankful, I figured Friday’s Fave Five was the best time to jump back in. Each Friday, we share our favorites of the week. Won’t you join in?

My favorites this week:

1. Study—lots of it. My summer began with study, as I attended a summer residency toward my new Ph.D. program. It was inspiring and scary all at the same time. I met some wonderful people, students and professors alike. My introductory class went well, and I’m signed up for more this fall. (Along with teaching  high school, of course.) Right now I’m finishing up an independent study course to complete another program I began a while back. I’ve not lacked for reading and writing this summer. The great thing is, that’s what I love to do.

2. Family time. We’ve been back a couple of weeks, but I haven’t had a chance to post about our family time. I got to see my mom and spend some quality time with our grandson, Aiden. In fact, we got to travel with him and his parents to New York state to see family. (He did not lack for attention the entire vacation, as you can imagine.) We got to see him catch his first fish, and we even got to keep him a whole day by ourselves while Mom and Dad explored the city. We were also blessed to have our youngest and his girlfriend along. A blessing all around.

3. Planning ahead. Yes, I’m already thinking ahead to the holidays, planning to have them ALL together. My son and daughter-in-law are adopting a little girl from India, and the long process is getting shorter. I’m praying we’ll have her home for Christmas. Wouldn’t that be something?

4. Long-time love. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in June, complete with roses and an evening out, then we took off across several states together, as we’ve done so many times. More times than not, it was with a van full of boys and a dog and, yes, times have changed—but some things don’t. He’s my favorite traveling companion, the one I love to come home to and with. I’m thankful for him, maybe now more than ever.

5. This quote:

“Your future is signed and sealed by grace. The wonders to come will make the hardships of the journey worthwhile.” (Paul David Tripp)

We’ve all walked bumpy roads and smooth ones, and if truth be told, we prefer the easy road. But when you know grace holds your future, it’s easier to hang on. 

And realizing that the wonders to come will give meaning to the rocky path is like seeing the sun over the top of a hill.

Wishing you grace that levels out the road,

When Mom Loses It: The SIBLING RIVALRY!

Tuesday June 24, 2014 

I heard that too familiar sound again…boys bickering in the living room.

Chances are you’ve heard it, too.

And what’s the fighting about?

Probably something that’s not too important in your world, but it’s obviously at the top of a boy’s list.

Summer is so nice – having no school schedule, time together. But sometimes that can lead to too much togetherness. Toes get stepped on, tempers flare, brothers bicker.

What to do? Here are some of my favorite strategies.
  • “Divide and Conquer.” Just get them doing something different—apart for a few minutes. Change the focus. 
  • More Mom Time. If you look and listen closely, you may be able to figure out that one of the boys just needs a little more Mom Time. Sit down and play cars with him, read a book, do something with just one for a minute. 
  • Time to Talk. You may just need to talk it out. Let the boys have a say; try to find out what’s really going on. They’ll feel better that they had a hearing, and you may learn something new! Teach them a new negotiating skill. Rock Paper Scissors is a big hit at our house. Once in a while, I even hear our adult sons say, “Okay, let’s settle this. Rock Paper Scissors.” It’s kind of like flipping a coin, but much more fun. And for some fun, you can even learn the game by pitting yourself against a computer here
The boys’ battleground can be disheartening for a mom. I’ve always said, “I don’t want anyone to hurt one of my sons – especially another one of my boys!”

But it’s important to remember that all our boys’ experiences are training for the larger picture of life. These are teachable moments that can help our boys learn about conflict management. They’ll need those lessons long after they step out from under our roof.

Proverbs 17:17 tells us, “A friend loves at all time, and a brother is born for adversity.” I know that’s what I want – brothers that will be there for each other in good times and bad. But that doesn’t happen magically; we have to train them toward that.

Don’t give up, Mom. We all endure those times of sibling rivalry, and they can light a mom’s angst if we’re not careful.

Instead, take a moment. Delve a bit deeper.
De-escalate by talking, playing, teaching. 

Turn them into teachable moments, and you’ll all be happier.

When Mom Loses It: The MESS!

Wednesday May 28, 2014 

In my years of mothering four boys, the mess morphed from blocks to trucks to balls and stinky shoes.

No matter what the age, the potential for mess was there.

And why did it bother me? 

Expectations—mine and the expectations of others. 

What if someone came over and saw what a mess the house was? (In retrospect, they’d realize I was a normal mom with normal boys…)

Why didn’t the boys do what I asked them to do—mainly, pick up after themselves? (Because they were kids—little fallen creatures who imitated their mom sometimes…she definitely didn’t always do what her Father told her to do.)

But it wasn’t just expectations. Some of us just work better, think better, in organized situations. I grew up in one, and that probably predisposed me to wanting some order. 

So, how to deal with the mess? 

How can I reduce the likelihood that the mess will trigger Mom Angst?

Realize some mess is simply to be expected. Ease up.

Try to contain the mess. I remember insisting that toys were played with in the family room or in one’s room. (Then I could go to the living room, take a deep breath, and pretend the rest of the house looked as organized.)

Come up with a Clean Up System. Do what works for you. My boys would go into toy overload when absolutely everything they owned was in the floor. So before naps or before we went anywhere, we’d do a quick clean up. Then when we returned or they awoke, they started fresh—and I felt fresher.

Organize the toy-keeping and teach the kids how to keep it. Involve them in the process. Kids always buy into something when they feel they’re a part of it. Ask, “Where should we put all the trucks?” or “Should we put Lego people with the blocks or keep them in their own spot?”

Kids need creative chaos, but they also need to know how to organize. Believe it or not, the times you spend encouraging them to put the blocks where they belong correlate to the (hopefully) organized backpack they’ll carry to school.

The mess will crop up again; some days are just messier than others.

Take a deep breath, Mom, and thank God that your kids are mobile, that they do play, that they can make noise.

Any ideas, Moms? How do you handle the constant mess of childhood? 

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

Friday May 23, 2014 

It’s Friday, and it’s time for some gratitude. 


It's amazing what gratitude can do.

Stayed tuned for my fifth favorite, a quote that will inspire gratitude.

I’m linking up with the ladies of Friday’s Fave Five today, where we recount our blessings of the week.

 Here are my favorites: 

1. The end of the 2013-2014 school year. With graduation tonight, the school year closes for me. It’s been a good one, and it signals some later mornings (yay!) and the time to jump into my studies. Can’t wait!!

2. Graduates. It’s such a bittersweet time for parents and teachers. We hate to see them leave, but what a blessing to see these young people moving into their college years. And to think that I have the privilege of being a little part of that!

3. Friends. I’ll be sitting with some great ones tonight, all decked out in our stoles and gowns. It will be the last year I’ll sit with some and I’ll miss them terribly. And it’s the first year for another, one who was a student ten years ago and now is a colleague. Very cool.

4. Essays. Yes, exam essays, believe it or not. I read a few that were just awesome. Makes you feel like they really “got it.” Love that.

5. This quote: 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” (Melodie Beattie)

The fullness of life—where we see that we have enough, where we revel in acceptance, and where we celebrate order and clarity we didn’t see before.

Simply being thankful can help us relate to yesterday, today, and tomorrow in the shadow of the Giver of all. 

Wishing you gratitude that transforms this week,
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