Friday, September 26, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: 2 Timothy 3

I am studying Acts in a women's Bible study this year, and tonight I read a passage in 2 Timothy (3:1-5--I read more...) about the "last days" in order to gain a better understanding of the last days referred to in our Acts passage. I titled this post "Savoring a Cup of Tea," but I haven't been "savoring" this passage long since I just read it! However, it brings to mind all kinds of thoughts. I thought I'd copy it here for you and let you savor it with me as I sort of "think as I type."

2 Timothy 3:1-7 (ESV; emphasis mine)
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Wow! Does that make anyone else sit up and take note?! So much here to dissect. I am not one of those alarmists that is always going on saying the end of the world is nigh. But the message here is clear: "avoid such people"! A few thoughts on some of the specifics:
  • lovers of self: enough said, right? Aren't we all?
  • disobedient to parents: another reminder of what, as parents, need to be training our children to do--obedience is REQUIRED by the Lord, not just a convenience
  • ungrateful: remember this as Thanksgiving comes around--being thankful is not just a day out of the year, but a constant attitude we should have
  • without self-control: I've yet to write my final fruit of the Spirit post, but this one is a huge one!!! How many times have you (or I) yelled at your children, eaten something you shouldn't have, skipped doing something you should be doing in favor of something you merely want to do--so many times we don't control our self and give into whatever the flesh would like to do
  • having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power: to me, this means we are going through the motions of looking spiritual (church attendance, devotions, etc.), but are not really seeking the Lord and serving him wholeheartedly. Instead, we are just doing things that make us look spiritual....
  • always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth: this is worth an entire post in and of itself. There's an information glut out there (which this blog, admittedly, is contributing to) about anything and everything. How many more parenting books do I need to read? Shouldn't I be searching the Bible for answers and seeking the face of God? This applies to all of life!
Thankfully, the end of this chapter of 2 Timothy contains those glorious verses I was required to memorize years ago in my little Christian school:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man (or woman) of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

Go read that Bible!!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bandanas: a Going Green Extension

I wrote a small series on "Going Green" back in the spring and thought 10 posts would be enough! But, I've just discovered a new "must" for the mom of young children who wants to reduce, reuse, and recycle: BANDANAS.

I was fretting over the high cost of cloth napkins and lamenting the lack of time I had to sew any from old fabric to a friend who was visiting a few weeks ago (her mother has made them a bunch of cloth napkins from random calico prints). We have a small stash of "family cloth napkins"--the ones I never stain treat, iron, or barely even fold. They just get dumped in the next wash cycle after each meal. I'm also running dangerously low on bibs and know that as soon as my twins begin using utensils, we'll enter into another massively dirty eating stage: after every meal, the bibs they used will have to be washed because of all the stuff that dripped on it. Finger food can be brushed off, but a bib can only take so much cottage cheese, yogurt, and sweet potato.

Enter the bandana solution: these things are amazingly well adapted to my needs!!!! At Hobby Lobby, I picked up a bunch for $0.87/each. That's cheaper than most cloth napkins. They are bigger and come in lots of kid-friendly prints. They're poly/cotton which means they won't be "bleeding" all over lighter colors in the wash. They don't wrinkle much and don't stain. They work great as bibs--simply pull two corners behind the neck and tie. These "bibs" can't be pulled off by recalcitrant kiddos; cover the entire front, neck, and shoulders of the child; and can be moistened after the meal in order to scrub little hands and faces. I made sure I got at least 3 of each of the fun prints since I have three children. I'm also thinking these will make much more interesting napkins for the kids--and, again, plenty big enough to swab down aforementioned children at the close of the meal. (I'll probably still whip out the plastic backed bibs when I serve something really "wet" like cereal with milk or soup.)

I'm going to put a few in my diaper bag and in the emergency bag I have in the car. What a lifesaver! In addition, when I got home with the new stash, my daughter had great fun "wearing" them and dressing her dolls up in them. We wore them on our heads for a little while and twirled around the room with them. They make great capes for wee ones. Oh, the possibilities....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Resource Review: Treasures of Encouragement

Ok, if you have never read this book you need to. We just finished this book as a summer Bible study with my church. Fabulous. After each chapter there are questions to follow on a daily basis as a study. This is why the book is so good:

First: She uses so many real examples...women who have told their stories. The author herself writes from experience, having lost a son at the age of 16.

Second: If you want to learn how to be used as a tool in your church or community, this is perfect. As women we should all be encouragers, but we don't always know how to do it. She gives countless examples, practical advise, and most importantly, how to ask and know how God wants to use you. Each of us have different skills and abilities and God can use that in so many ways.

Third: It shows you how to look and see how God has used others to encourage you. It even tells you how to start a blessing book to journal ways you see him working.

This book is so great for any Christian. It doesn't matter what denomination you are, it just covers the basis of being biblical encouragers.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Be Prepared!

As a M.O.M. (mother of multiples), I've been forced to adopt the Boy Scouts' motto: Be Prepared. It's great advice for anyone wanting to run errands with wee ones in tow. For this momma, here's what "Be Prepared" boils down to:

Running Errands:
  • extra diapers/panties
  • wipes
  • snacks
  • sippy cups with water
  • small car toy
  • mental readiness to pay for a treat to get us through the line at the cash register
  • mental readiness to offer and try every sample we pass in the grocery store
  • an actual meal stop at Chick-Fil-A or similar eating establishment if we're going to be gone more than 2 hours
  • mental knowledge of every bathroom we may be near--including general state of cleanliness, size of handicap stall (can it take the double stroller, my toddler, and me all in the same stall?), location in store, and whether or not my toddler has actually used that bathroom before (that ups the chances she'll follow through when we arrive there)
  • a detailed shopping list, including listing items in the order in which they will appear in any given store--the less time spent perusing the list or searching the store for something I may have forgotten, the quieter the children....
  • cheerful attitude
  • willingness to speak to people in the store (when you're pushing a double stroller full of two kids and pulling a shopping cart with the third, you ALWAYS get stopped and asked RANDOM questions)
  • energy (sometimes that means chugging a diet Coke en route to the first store)
  • flexibility (sometimes you just have to cancel an errand or buy a substitution to avoid another stop)
  • Carpe Diem! (yesterday we walked the perimeter of the parking lot to hit up 4 stores--we got some fresh air, my oldest got some exercise, and I didn't have to load three children in and out of the car 4 different times)
  • NO OTHER PLANS (we spent all morning in the same parking lot/few stores, but that was a good day's work)
If I leave the house with all of that, then our chances of having a smooth morning are much, much greater than those mornings I try something on the spur of the moment....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Teabag Verses for Students and Moms

Ok, lets be realistic. I am never going to get all these verses typed in. So I scanned them in. These are the student verses adapted to fill in your student/child's name as a prayer for them for the year. I noticed some errors from scanning...just remember they all come from the NIV translation if you are confused. My scripture verese for moms is just not coming out....have to work on it. Enjoy.

Scripture for Students

Psalm 119:73·74, 76
Your hands made and formed him/her; give ____ understanding to learn your commands. May
those who fear you rejoice when they see for he/she has put his/her hope in your word. May your unfailing love be 's comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I kneel before you, Father, from whom your whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen ____ with power through your spirit in his/her inner being, so that Christ may dwell in 's heart through faith. And I pray that , being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that passes knowledge - that may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Psalm 32:8·11
I will instruct __ and teach him/her in the way he/she should go; Iwill counsel and watch over im/her. (Help me teach ) not to be like the horse or the mule, which have not understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you, Lord. (Let me remind that) any are the foes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him. (May ) rejoice in the Lord and be glad with the righteous. (May he/she) sing with all who are upright in heart.
Ephesians 1:16·19
I have not stopped giving thanks for___ , remembering him/her in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give ____ the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that ___ may know him better. Ipray also that the eyes of ____ 's heart may be enlightened in order that he/she may know the hope to which He has called him/her, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.

Colossians 2:2·3
My purpose is that may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that he/she may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that ____ may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Philippians 2:13·16
(May realize that) it is God who works in him/her to will and act according to His good purpose. (I pray that ) will do everything without complaining or arguing, so that he/she may become
blameless and pure, a child of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which
____ shines like a star in the universe as he/she holds out the word of life in order that Imay boast on the day of Christ that Idid not run or labor for nothing.

2 Thessalonians 2:13,15·17
Iought always to thank God for , loved by the Lord. So then, , stand firm and hold to the
teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage 's heart and strengthen him/her in every good deed and word.

Jeremiah 29:11·13
"For I know the plans I have for u declares the Lord, "plans to prosper him/her and not to harm him/her plans to give a future and a hope. Then __ will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to him/her. will seek me and find me when he/she seeks me with all his/her heart.

Romans 12:1·2
(I pray that my instruction and example will) urge ______ , in view of God's mercy to offer hislher whole body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God •as his/her spiritual act of worship. (Help me to teach_____ ) not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of his/her mind. Then will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will.
1 Peter 5:10·11
And the God of all grace, who called to His eternal glory in Christ, after he/she has suffered a little while, will Himself restore and make him/her strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 119:33·38
Teach ,0 Lord, to follow your decrees; then he/she will keep them to the end. Give _
understanding, and he/she will keep your law and obey it with his/her whole heart. Direct in the paths of your commands, for there he/she will find delight. Turn ____ 's heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn 's eyes away from worthless things; preserve hislher life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant so that you may be feared.
Psalm 138:7·8
o Lord, though walks in the midst of trouble, you preserve hislher life; you stretch out your hand
against the anger of hislher foes; with your right hand you save . Lord, you will fulfill your purpose for____ ; your love, 0 Lord, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 141:3·4
set a guard over ___'s mouth, 0 Lord; keep watch over the door of ___'s lips. Let not hislher heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evil doers; let not eat of their delicacies.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 7
I always thank God for , mentioning himlher in my prayers. I continually remember before our God and Father 's work produced by faith, hislher labor prompted by love. and his/her endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For I know, -'loved by God, that he has chosen you because the gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power. with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction ... And so you became a model to all the believers in _____ (city).

Colossians 1:9·12
I have not stopped praying for _asking God to fill himlher with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. I pray this in order that may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might, so that will have great endurance and patience. Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified____ to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Psalm 119:65·66. 68
Do good to your servant , according to your word, 0 Lord. Teach knowledge and good jUdgment, for he/she believes in your commands. You are good and what you do is good, teach _
your decrees.
2 Timothy 1:3,6·7
Ithank God. who Iserve, as my fathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day Iconstantly remember _____ in my prayers. Ihave been reminded of ____ 's sincere faith. For this reason Ilong for ____ to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in himlher. For God did not give a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
1 Peter 5:6-9
(0 Lord, please give the grace to) humble himselflherself under your mighty hand, that You may lift himlher up in due time. (Help to) cast all hislher anxiety on you because you care for himlher. (May ____ ) be self-controlled and alert. (Remind himlher that) hiS/her enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. (Enable ~ __ ) to resist him, standing firm in the faith because he/she knows that hislher brothers through the world are
undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Philippians 1:9·11
And this is my prayer: that 's love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that ____ may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to
the glory and praise of God.
1 Timothy 6:11-12,14
____ -', Man (or woman) of God ... Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love. endurance and
gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Motherhood Transcends All Barriers

I've been musing over this lately: it seems that no matter what the backgrounds of the two mothers are, the simple reality that they both have young children is an automatic bond. I attended a Bible study this morning for the first time, and several of the women in my small group had young kids in a similar age range as mine. We immediately had something to talk about--and moved onto other subjects as well, but our children were an immediate common interest.

But what if you can't even speak the same language? Motherhood is still a bond. I went to an Asian grocery store after the Bible study since it's in the same part of town. Once we were in the (very small) store, my almost-3-year-old "helped" me push the double stroller containing her two brothers around the store. We were in the store about 1 minute when a little Asian boy came up and started "helping," too. Now, I need not tell you that it took us a while to maneuver through the cramped aisles, but my daughter and the little boy had a great time. His mother asked me in broken English about the ages of my children (and I reciprocated) and then proceeded to get my daughter a lollipop once we were at the checkout (this is after my boys tipped over a big box of mangoes or some similar fruit and she cheerfully picked them all up for me). It was a delightful reminder that mothers all have similar concerns and loves, even when our backgrounds and language are so different from each other. It was also a sweet testimony that some women are born nurterers and love children no matter whose they are--I like that my little guys had a nice surrogate Asian mother looking out for them in this little store while I picked out my baby bok choy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Activity Bag Swap

Carrie and I have been busy this week coordinating our first Activity Bag Swap. She found these great books of instructions for filling gallon-size ziploc bags with activities for preschoolers (Activities in a Bag). The books give detailed directions not only for making the activity bags, but for coordinating your own "swap." Basically, we've got 15 ladies who are each going to make 15 versions of 1 bag. At the end of the month, we'll meet up at my house and swap bags, each going home with 15 different bags. These activities are great, and Carrie and I have each made up some for our own kids already. As the school year starts up, you may want/need something for your preschooler to do, especially if an older sibling is off at school for the first time or you are trying to homeschool that older sibling. (Or, in my case, you are trying to entertain two other toddlers at the same time.)

It's worth taking some time to think through how to keep your toddlers and preschoolers constructively occupied. I'm witness daily to the dangers of idle hands...paired with busy bodies and creative brains! My goal this fall is to train my young'un's and to keep them occupied (even if that's with a quiet independent activity)--it helps keep temptation to sin at bay. For a young child, the major commandment they must learn is #5: Obey your mother and father. It's so hard for them to follow through on that commandment if they're bored, unsupervised, etc. My husband and I were talking this through last night: essentially, how can we help our children obey us (and therefore the Lord)? What sorts of things can we put in place to facilitate that? What sorts of commands should we be giving (and expecting obedience in return for) and what sorts of battles are better left unfought at their current ages? I think toddlers and preschoolers can definitely learn to obey their parents (indeed, must learn that), but I'm also trying hard to figure out how I, as a parent, can best show them how to obey me and equip them to do so. One of the cautions given us as parents is found in Paul's epistles: Fathers, do not exasperate your children. Surely that means that we need to evaluate our commands and exercise self control as we interact with our young children (my mother, sister, and husband can all bear witness to my lack of self control this very week...sigh...).

That being said, I hope having a store of constructive acitivities in bags my oldest toddler can pull out to work on will help her stay occupied constructively when I must be dealing with her younger brothers or cooking dinner or even brushing my teeth!

I should give credit where credit is due and thank my sister for discovering these activity bags!!! Thank you, Carrie!!!