Maybe Life’s Biggest Moments Are Really The Small Ones

Waking up to my little girl in bed next to me.

Good morning kisses with terrible morning breath.

Leftover birthday cupcakes for breakfast.

Piles of dishes in the sink.

Asking him to turn down the music. Again.

Catching my kids swinging together.

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A teenaged daughter walking out the door with my favorite sweater on.

His cowlick.

Her first manicure.

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Breaking up a sibling argument by being louder than they are.

A tween boy on the way to school coming back into the house because he forgot to tell you goodbye.

These are all the small moments in a day that would normally frustrate me or be missed. 

But today I saw everyone of them.

I have a friend who is dying-a friend that sees every moment as the last-because it may be.

And I’m realizing something that every person who faces eternity knows:

Maybe life’s biggest moments are really the small ones.

All of our days are numbered. But when they send you home and say they can’t offer you any more days, you long for more of those small moments.

Five names are written on the chalkboard on our pantry door. They remind us to pray for a miracle. But it’s more than a reminder to pray for those who are fighting for their lives, it’s a reminder to live.

We circle weekend trips and fun events and parties and career positions and vacations on our calendars like they are the big things in this life. We scratch off the days and live from one big day to the next. And we often miss the moments in-between.

But if you asked those with numbered days what their number one day was, they probably wouldn’t answer a dream vacation or a step up the corporate ladder. They might answer

Watching the sunset on a Tuesday

Cooking dinner for my family

Hugs after an argument

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Listening to my kids tell me about their day

These are things you see differently when you look at them in a new way.

We can’t wait until someone numbers our days to realize each one is a precious gift.

Don’t miss them.

I Have Everything I Need {The Psalms 23 Family Project}

“We need to find a place to serve.”

 

I whispered these words to my husband, five days after Christmas.

He nodded his head. He could hear the kids arguing and nitpicking upstairs, too. Ah, Christmas break. Presents had been worn, plugged in and played with and a dose of perspective was next on the list.

Twenty-four hours later, we sat on a blue tarp in the inner-city of Houston with a bunch of kids at a Sidewalk Sunday School event.

It was so cold it didn’t take long for children we didn’t know to crawl into our laps and lean close for warmth. Terrell passed out the extra sweatshirts and throw blanket we keep in the car.

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Pastor Scott, the faithful man who drives his colorful truck to low income apartment complexes nearly every day of the week to teach children about Jesus after school, told the children to sit still, listen close and cup their hands in their laps and open them for the blessing they were about to receive.

I looked over at my daughter sitting in-between girls she didn’t know. I got a lump in my throat when I saw  her little hands cupped, waiting for her blessing.

I’m pretty sure she was hoping to catch the small toys and candy in her open hands like the rest of the kids. And I couldn’t blame her really.

But when she leaned over and whispered, “If I catch anything, I’m going to give it away to the other kids,” I wanted to shout yes because looking around at her peers without shoes and coats, she could see her hands were already full.

She could see she already had everything she needs.

Perspective for the win, again.

I’m learning we need constant perspective reminders and by we, I mean, me.
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download this free printable here

Giving to others is s-l-o-w-l-y changing my family. We can’t always feel it when we grow, until we turn around and see how far we’ve come.

Before the Bible story, Pastor Scott told the kids he had new backpacks for those who could recite all of Psalm 23. Hands shot up in the crowd and one by one we listened to precious children recite the life-changing verses.

I  blinked back tears listening to these disadvantaged quote verse after verse and I whispered prayers over them. God, provide what they need, be with them when they walk thru the valley of the shadow of death. Comfort them. Help them to know that goodness and mercy will follow them all the days of their life.

My son leaned over and said, “Mom, I don’t even know Psalm 23.”

I know. We are going to fix that.

My kids are advantaged and yet they need the truth of the words these children quoted over and over.

They need to be reminded the Lord is their shepherd and they have everything they need.

 

If you’d like to join us, we will be memorizing Psalm 23 together in the next few weeks.

Psalm 23 Family Project:

Week 1: Verse 1

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
    I have everything I need.

  • Write down needs that have been met in your family

Week 2: Verse 2
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
    and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.

  • Take a day of rest with your family-unplug, go on a long walk, play worship music in your house.

Week 3: Verse 3

He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
    as he has promised.

  • Talk about your family’s journey- When has God guided your family?

Week 4: Verse 4
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
    I will not be afraid, Lord,
    for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.

  • Comfort someone going through a dark time-with a card, a visit, a meal

Week 5: Verse 55

You prepare a banquet for me,

where all my enemies can see me;you welcome me as an honored guest and fill my cup to the brim.

  • Fix rice and beans for dinner for a week (or a month) and talk about the blessings on your table

Week 6: Verse 6
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
    and your house will be my home as long as I live.

  • Find a way to serve others: feed a meal, collect coats and blankets, change your children’s perspective

What Really Happens When We Give Kids Everything They Want

“I want it.

Why?

Because everyone else has it.”

It’s a conversation we’ve had countless times in our house. It doesn’t matter what it’s about–the newest technology, the latest fad, the most popular shoes- it’s treacherous ground to add it to our want list so we can be like everyone else.

These five dangerous words are turning homes upside down. When we give our children everything they want (because everyone else has it), it speeds up their childhood: We have six year olds addicted to technology, carrying around their own ipods and iphones without limitations; eleven year old sons playing bloody battles of Assassin’s Creed over the Internet with strangers instead of playing ball outside; And 13 year old daughters shopping at Victoria’s Secret, wearing angel wings across their bums, looking far older than they are.

But worse than losing a generation of children, this choice breeds a nasty virus. Because maybe if we keep giving them everything they want, they might just drive a new car intoxicated and kill four people and be diagnosed with affluenza.

What Really Happens When We Give Kids Everything They Want

The psychologist testifying for the 16 year old boy who did just that, defined affluenza as this: children who have a sense of entitlement, are irresponsible, and make excuses for poor behavior because parents have not set proper boundaries.

And when you write a little post about the warning signs of entitlement and it’s shared nearly 800,000 times, perhaps we’re all a little scared of our kids catching the same bug.

“I am an RN working on a psych unit, and I see everyday the effects of entitlement. I see adults in their 20′s and 30′s who always had everything they ever wanted given to them while growing up, and now they just don’t get it. They are unemployed, either living with parents or with one friend or relative after another, or on the street. Having been given everything they ever wanted without working for it while growing up, they don’t feel that they should work for anything now. They were raised to think they could do no wrong, but instead of growing up to have high self-esteem, they have grown up unable to function. They cannot take disappointment of any kind. So we have a generation of kids that don’t want to work and can’t function as adults. Because they have no coping skills of any kind to deal with life, they become depressed and often turn to drugs and/or alcohol to feel better. Then, they end up on our unit, depressed, suicidal, and addicted,” a comment on this post.

Why are we saying yes to our children too early, too soon and pulling in the boundaries? I’m not sure, but I think it starts here:

  1. We don’t understand the future implications of giving them everything they want right now
  2. We want them to have the life we didn’t
  3. We are afraid to tell our children no because we know there will be backlash or because we think they will feel loved if we say yes.
  4. We want them to fit in with their peers because it’s hard to be different.
  5. We feel it’s often easier just to give in
  6. We struggle with a bit of affluenza ourselves

This excellent article shares the symptoms of this nasty virus:

To conquer the affluenza virus, though, one must first recognize it within himself and ask why and from where it comes. Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you frequently buy things you do not really need?

When shopping, are you unable to control how much you spend?

Do you envy the lifestyles of the rich and famous?

Do you feel bad when your neighbors have things you do not?

Do you measure yourself by what others have?

Do you ever use shopping as a means of escape?

Do you use your possessions to impress others?

Do you compare your possessions with what your peers have? If so, do you experience a feeling of superiority that yours are better?

Do you speak often about the things you want?

Do you find yourself complaining about the things you want but cannot afford?

Do you think of spending your money more often than saving it?

Do you often think your life would be more complete if you had more money and possessions?

“Jesus, speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” Luke 12:15

So what’s the cure? 

Maybe it starts with the little word no. We aren’t going to buy, get, do that just because others are. It’s okay to want things, but there’s a big difference in getting something because you love it and getting it because you want to be loved.

Maybe it starts with deciding why you do what you do. Don’t let the culture lead your family. Because it certainly will. I heard this week the most popular word among teens in 2013 was twerking. Do we really want society guiding our children?

Maybe it starts with reality–no, not everyone has, does, gets ____ (fill in the blank). We’ve discovered other people who don’t have ____(fill in the blank), but we’ve had to look for them and pray them into our lives. The world will tell you (and your kids) you’re completely alone. But that’s a lie. There are other families swimming upstream against our society and affluenza.

Maybe it starts with a dab of old fashioned failure (I love what this teacher said below).

“Some parents don’t wish their kids to fail. I admit I want my children to. I want them to fail, so they can learn how to get back up. I want them to not get every gift they want on their Christmas list, so they can appreciate what they have and work for what they don’t. Lastly I hope all of them get at least one or two teachers they hate. That way they will learn that in the real world, they will have to work with people (and bosses) they may not like,” a teacher who left a comment on this post.

Maybe it starts with exposing them to how the majority of the world lives. Affluenza is a first world problem. Hunger is a real world problem. Give them an opportunity to serve others.

Hebrews 13:5 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

I really don’t think our kids want the latest technology or the hottest name brand as much as they want something else. Oh, they think they do. And they will beg and plead (and drive us crazy) for it. But deep down, they are hungry for something deeper that satisfies and lasts a lot longer than just stuff. Giving them firm boundaries, love and perspective is exactly what we can offer them.

 

This week, I’m reposting some of my most shared blog posts of 2014 with you. Thanks for being a part of this community. I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

Christmas Is For Nobodies

I spent two nights in New York City with my man this past weekend, celebrating 20 years.

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It was my first time there and it was magical.

But nothing makes you feel quite as small as a big city at Christmas.

We pressed through crowds on the streets, in the subways, in the stores.

There were people everywhere: nameless faces, a melting pot from all over the world.

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Terrell and I are people watchers. We wondered at the homeless man’s story, the girl crying on her phone in an alley, the stiletto-heeled lady in front of Saks 5th Avenue, the waiter in Chinatown and the Muslim taxicab driver who chatted with us about long work days in a place like New York City.

In a crowd, it’s easy to feel like a nobody.

But I was reminded that’s exactly who Christmas is for. The nobodies.

I couldn’t help but think about  the question my youngest asked before we left for the airport, “Is it Christmas everywhere? Even in Africa and New York City?”

Yes, Christmas is everywhere.

Because He came for everyone.

He came for the huge masses. He came for little you.

We’ve been studying our way verse-by-verse through the book of Nehemiah at church. Nehemiah, cupbearer to the King, was the son of a nobody. His dad was unknown. He came from a long line of regular, insignificant people.

And he was cupbearer to the King–not because it was a secure job, but because it’s where God put him.

He had a dream and yet he served faithfully, quietly.

Sometimes we think waiting is meaningless.

Sometimes we think in order to do something great, we have to be somebody.

But Jesus became a nobody at Christmas–a helpless, dependent babe-to show us He came for the nobodies.

God used a nobody like Nehemiah to rebuild and reestablish the city of Jerusalem, in the perfect time.

Because the place God puts us may not be the place we would put ourselves and we may not like where we are or who we are, but He doesn’t waste any of it.

And this Christmas Eve, wherever you are, whatever you’re feeling, whatever you’re waiting on, it’s not a mistake. It takes faith to look past our present circumstances and see God has us right where you are for a reason.

God came to a stable as a nobody, so we could be somebody in Him.

Merry Christmas!

Dear Neighbor:

Driving around looking at Christmas lights is one of our favorite family traditions every December.

And we love the houses with Nativities the most!

Last year, we started a new tradition. Every time we saw a house with a Nativity in the yard, we put a note on their door. My kids loved sneaking up and blessing our neighbors with an anonymous thank you. Yours might too!

It’s a great reminder to our kids to keep Jesus the reason for the season and it’s really fun trying not to get caught.

Go, ahead, try it.

dear neighbor printable

Click to print letters of your own and start a new Christmas tradition today.