Dear Parents, Let it Go

There are problems.

And then THERE ARE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS.

Like these real comments left this week on Disney’s Facebook page by irate mothers who can’t find Frozen merchandise for their children (source):

I have been staying up late every night checking the site. I didn’t think the site would refresh during the day. SO irritated! My girl has been waiting for a classic Elsa doll since Christmas. She can’t understand why Santa didn’t get her one since it was what she wanted most. Now she is hoping that the Easter Bunny will put one in her basket. She has been so patient. I really think this might be what stops her believing in Santa and the Easter Bunny. I can’t afford to spend over $100 on eBay for a $16 doll. This whole situation makes me so sad and angry. Thank you Disney for killing the magic for my 6 year old.”

And there’s this gem:

WHAT IN GOD’S NAME IS THE HOLD UP, DISNEY? ARE YOU STAFFED ENTIRELY BY SOULLESS. DREAM-CRUSHING MONSTERS??[...]UGH. I AM FURIOUS. HENCE ALL THESE CAPITAL LETTERS. [...] UNACCEPTABLE, DISNEY. YOU’RE LITERALLY RUINING LIVES WITH YOUR EVIL WAYS. FOR SHAME.

These are just a couple of the hundreds of complaints against the mouse-magic-makers. And parents are in crazy bidding wars on ebay trying to buy $150 deluxe character dresses for over $1000.00 and $30 plastic dolls for $300.

Not to mention the speculation about how Disney is meeting this demand in some factory in another country…

So, this is what it’s come to, huh? Blaming a huge money-making empire for ruining Jesus’ birthday and His Resurrection because we can’t give our kids more stuff?

Y’all.

This is the culture we live in–we are waisting time and money on nothing. That doll or costume or whatever it is we chase and pursue and spend so much of our attention on won’t last. It’s embarrassing.

In an effort to create a magical childhood, we are forgetting what our kids really need: an intentional one. This isn’t about making our kids happy. That’s not even our job.

This is about the competition to keep up and the guilt that drives us to think that more stuff will make our kids happy. This is about winning some game that’s not worth playing. This is about scoring the latest fad or being the highest bidder that might fill some void in us.

I know most of you are probably like me and would never pay outlandish prices for the latest must-have thing. My 7 year old got some Frozen merchandise for her December birthday.

By the way, they are now for sale.

We can let them go… Kidding.

I get it. I really do—this urge to give our kids what they really want or what we really want for them.  But what price will we pay? How far will we go to create “happy” kids.

Because this isn’t just about stuff. It’s about making disposable things more important than they are.

How often do we freak out over the mess on the kitchen floor or try to control our children (impossible, ask me how I know) or waste hours on trivial things that are temporary.

Seriously, let’s remember what really matters–

And let the other stuff go.


Saying #Yes In My Mess

I’m a mom.

I have a lot of messes.

Currently: there is a science fair project involving 1000 paper clips most of which are scattered under my dining room table and an entire package of broken Girl Scout cookies on my kitchen floor. (One of these is more fun to pick up, by the way).

But there’s always been an internal mess too… struggling with who I am, what I’m supposed to do, wondering if I’m a good enough wife and mom…

After years of wondering if I was enough, I decided to say yes in my mess.

You just never know where your yes might lead.

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In 2010 when I introduced my family to the young African girl who I’d met on a Compassion Blogger Trip in Kenya a couple of months earlier, I didn’t know what God was going to do.

My life was a mess.

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And I’m not just talking about under the beds.

I was a home decor hoarder, I was ruled by mom guilt, my marriage was on the mend and I’d stopped dreaming.

I didn’t know God was going to take the broken pieces of my life– the inadequate and fearful me- my big mess- and ask me to say yes in it.

But He did.

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He didn’t wait for me to have it all together, to clean up my act, to finally arrive before He asked.

He looked at my wreck and asked me to obey anyway.

This is my story.

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And you know what’s crazy? More than two dozen rescued moms and miracle babies later — my life is still a mess.

My kids still misbehave, I still lose my cool. My husband and I still argue over stupid things, I still eat all the Easter candy I “put away for the kids” and there is still junk under my bed.

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I still get it wrong. I still have to apologize and ask forgiveness.

I am still messy me.

But I still keep saying yes.

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Because it not only unleashes other people to join me, but I’ve never felt more alive than when I say yes. We were made for more than just existing in our mess and complaining about it.

You have a purpose. You are destined for more.

You can say yes in your mess, too. Because life is messy. It’s imperfect and if we wait until we have the perfect family (picture) we will wait forever.

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If we wait until we have it all together to say yes to God, we won’t say it.

What is He asking you today? Call that friend, send that email. Visit that neighbor. Start something. Say something. Step out. Take a risk.

Saying yes is the hard part. He does the rest.

Join me in saying yes in your mess today.

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To download the free, full size printable to add a “yes to your mess” click here. Add (hashtag) #yesinmymess and/or #rhinestonejesus and join the YES MOVEMENT on Instagram.

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WFMW: The Most Appetizing Way to Give Your Kids a World Perspective

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One of our favorite things to do as family is eat together.

And not just because we are hungry.

We love to experience new foods and my kids will try just about anything. (Well, except for one of them who insists on chicken nuggets in every kind of culture). We love Tex-Mex and comfort food. We love cajun and seafood. And I love having my family around the table. It’s our time to slow down and connect together.

But what we love most of all? Trying food from different countries. Last month we ate outstanding African cuisine we couldn’t pronounce in Santa Fe, New Mexico, of all places. Two weeks ago, we feasted on German sausage and bread. Last week, we had Bosnian food in a little Houston strip mall.

And with every bite, we talk about the way the rest of the world lives, about culture, about differences, about how we are the same. We compare bread from the Middle East to chapati in Kenya and injera in Ethiopia and naan in India.

As my son ate leftover cevapi (a Bosnian sandwich) for an afternoon snack this week, he said, “Mom, I want to go to Bosnia. I really want to see the country that makes this kind of food.”

We love using this Food Network On the Road App in every city we go to, even the one we live in, to discover delicious, unique food.  But really, it’s about a lot more than food. We end up talking about different cultures,  about war-torn Bosnia, oppressed people and much more.

Sometimes we don’t like an entree, but we don’t know until we try. Yo. Life lesson.

And sometimes you are served Kenyan-style egg rolls for breakfast and they are your new favorite meal.

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Every time I visit my refugee friends an hour from me, I smell the most wonderful aromas coming from their homes…spices and scents from Nepal and Burma –meals I hope to share with friends some day.

The best way to give your kids a world perspective–when you’re not able or ready to actually travel the world-is to introduce them to different foods and people groups right where you are.

Sometimes perspective is exactly what we need to taste. It may even satisfy a craving you didn’t know you had.

Go try something new and different today.

Trying new food works for us!

 


The Gift of Yes (Pre-Order Day for Rhinestone Jesus)

So, I wrote this book.

It’s my story of saying yes to God–it’s imperfect, it’s soul-splitting, it’s funny (there might be a scary picture of me in the book holding a doll while also wearing an afro. So there’s that).

It’s the broken and the put-back-together story of my life. My yes to God.

I’ve spilled out the chapters on these pages- from the gut-wrenching shattering of my marriage to the hard hard days of motherhood to the sheer fear and unspeakable joy of wild obedience in my mess.

With every word, I tasted healing and I wrote it so you might, too.

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There are also sections on practical, intentional living that will inspire you to make every day matter with your family.

Several months ago on my Facebook page, we were discussing raising our children intentionally and I asked how many families had some sort of devotion time or read the Bible together. There were varying responses, but the overwhelming consensus was “Help, I don’t know where to start, what to read or how to keep the kids at the table.”

And because I’ve been there (and still am), I wanted to provide a practical, tangible way to get our families around the table to break holy Bread together and so I wrote a companion ebook: Saying Yes to God As a Family: 30 Lessons for the Table from Rhinestone Jesus

And today, if you pre-order my new book before it’s May 1 release, you get the ebook and  some pretty great thank you gifts for free:

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These 30 lessons can be done in 30 days or 90. There’s no pressure in this easy-to-use guide that encourages family togetherness, conversation, connection and fun around the table.

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It’s designed to be read on a mobile device or printed into cute colorful cue cards. We’ve been going through the ebook  for several weeks:

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There are icebreakers, reading passages, occasional memory verses and a corporate prayer to say together. And very cute unique prints are included at the end of the ebook to frame and hang:

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And this brand new ebook is free with your pre-order purchase of Rhinestone Jesus today!

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If you buy 2 copies of the book, along with the family ebook, you’ll also get the very popular and meaningful Love Mercy Prayer Bracelet. While everyone’s yes to God is different, our family’s yes looks like Mercy House.

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And we can only accomplish this great endeavor through prayer. It’s mostly a reminder to pray for the most oppressed people group in the world: girls.

And I’ve partnered with my longtime friend and generous supporter, The Vintage Pearl. There are a limited supply of these gorgeous “rhinestone” Jesus necklaces that would make a beautiful gift to keep or give for those who buy 4 or more copies of the book to share with family and friends.

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I wrote this book out of obedience to Jesus. And these words are for his glory. 

I used to live my life, trying to fit him into the gaps and small spaces. But when I began to fit my life into Jesus–that’s when I really started living.

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Just to recap this special pre-offer:

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Plus part of the proceeds from every book will go to the work of Mercy House.

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To receive your free gifts in the next couple of weeks, just follow these simple steps:

1.       Pre-order Rhinestone Jesus from any book retailer.   Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Christianbook.com

2.       Email your receipt to giveaways@tyndale.com. If you’ve already preordered it, you can send your order confirmation. (No links, please. This can be an order confirmation email, a pre-order cash register receipt or a screenshot of your order. If you want to send a photo of the receipt, please attach it to the email as a .jpg file.)

3.       In the email, tell me your name, email address you want the e-book PDF sent to, and mailing address—so we can send you all of these great gifts!  (United States residents only). This pre-order offer ends May 1, 2014.

 

And most of all, thanks for being a part of my yes to God.


15 Ways to Teach Kids How to Work Hard

It was the first day of summer in 1984. He was 14 years old.

His dad woke him up before work and said there’s a load of sand in the driveway and shovel. He told him by the time he got home from work, he wanted the low spots in the backyard filled.

There were similar projects all summer long.

That’s how my husband was raised.

(I was raised scooping dog poop in the hot Texas sun, so don’t feel too sorry for him.)

There was also summer fun for both of us -bike riding and baseball playing,  But there was also a lot of hard work. We didn’t sleep until noon or play video games until the middle of the night while mom fixed lunch everyday and did all the laundry.

We have come along way, huh? Maybe it’s time to backtrack.

Because when I declare it’s yard work day at my house, it’s like the End Times around here. We ignore the groans and moans and wailing and push through). Because hard work is good for kids. Not only does it teach them to be grateful for what you do all day long, it creates a work ethic in them that will carry them into adulthood.

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Here are 15 ways to teach kids how to work hard:

  1. Don’t do everything for them: It sounds simple, but kids will let you do everything for them as long as you do everything for them.
  2. Require them to take care of their own space. They won’t clean it up you say? Try the age old “you can’t do or have this (fill in the blank) until you clean up this (fill in the blank)” and I bet they will.
  3. Make them sweat a little. Like literally get their hands dirty picking up the busted trash in the street, washing the car, or the bottom of the trash can. It’s okay. They will survive.
  4. Start early.
  5. Make work part of your family routine. This is just something we do. We take care of what God has given us.
  6. Let them learn from their mistakes (don’t jump in to fix or redo everything they try to do) Let it go.
  7. Make work fun (chore roulette).
  8. Be an example of hard work-Let them see you working hard.
  9. Serve as a family (perspective is everything). This has been huge for us.
  10. Be an encourager (and not a control freak).
  11. Let your kids be in charge of dinner (from grocery shopping to putting it on the table). Last week my son prepared dinner for the family. I needed his help and he did a great job. He doubted at first, but ended up really proud of himself.
  12. Give them a chance to earn money, so they can learn how to handle it. This has been the single best thing to eliminate the gimme gimmes.
  13. Teach them to save and give a % of their money.
  14. Give them projects that require time management skills (like dirt on the driveway)
  15. Be consistent

I married a hard-working man. And I need to tell his parents thank you.