Thursday, March 29, 2012

Parenting a Perfectionist

"I'm a bad girl Mommy"
Ugh, break my heart in two.  John was out of town for the weekend and I had pharyngitis with no voice for the 3 days he was gone. Needless to say, my mothering was debilitated on several fronts ;)
Reese (my 5 year old) had been having trouble obeying, which she normally has no trouble at all. She is my child that if I ask her to clean her room, everything is put away, her blankets are folded on her bed and animals are arranged neatly in lines.  She is my first-born achiever child that if I ask her to help clean the table, she says "My pleasure, mommy" (thank you Chick-fil-A).  So needless to say, it was a rough weekend since my rule follower had already cut her own hair, colored on her legs with a pen, was telling me no, and if I even gave her the "you shouldn't have done that" look, an all out tantrum was in order.  So, in my best low whisper, I asked her to snuggle for a while and asked her what was going on, she was not acting like herself.
It was then that she broke down and said, "I'm a bad girl mommy! I don't like myself!"


I knew I had to get my parenting game on quick. That was a heavy one with major implications.

Here is the gist of my response, it was a dialogue of course but I didn't write it all out that way below. No I did NOT get it all right, but we had similar conversations that headed in this direction before, never with such strong statements from Reese, but similar when she gets frustrated with herself for messing up.

>> Reese, who does God say you are? God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Remember that verse in jeremiah 31:20?" Oh Reese is my dear dear daughter, my child in whom I take pleasure! Every time I mention her name my heart bursts forth with longing for her! Everything in me cries out for her. Soft and tenderly I wait for her."
Does is sound like your identity in God is a bad girl? No. Remember how you asked Jesus into your heart to clean out all of that yucky sin? Yes! He did it already. Forever it is cleaned out and when God looks at you he sees Jesus in your place, perfect and clean. So yes, we mess up sometimes. Mommy messes up TONS! Remember when I raised my voice at Wheeler the other day? That was so unkind of mommy and not how God calls us to treat each other. Remember how I told Wheeler I was sorry and he forgave me? We will mess up every day. Mommy too. But that is not WHO I AM. Because God took that old yucky stuff away. I am a new person in Jesus! So my identity is no longer a bad girl. I am a girl who God bought at a high price because he thinks I am worth it! Just like he thinks of you!
So we need to think about those words you said... Is it  TRUE that you are a bad girl? No.  And mean old satan is going to tell you lots of lies about yourself that he wants you to believe because he doesn't want you to remember how much God loves you.  So he will whisper to you that you are bad and not to like yourself. But we need to always remember who we are, and whose we are. You are God's child, you are clean and spotless because of Jesus in your place. And God made you so much like himself, we love ourselves because we know who made us and who we were made to look like! Lets tell mean Satan to stop telling us lies right now, tell him that we listen to Jesus and we know what Jesus says about us! (She had also written those two sentences on a piece of paper). Are the words on this paper true? No? OK then tear it up! Because that is lies on that paper! Yuck! You know what else? I love you even when you act unkindly! I will always forgive you too, just like Jesus! So you don't ever have to worry about Mommy not loving you because you have trouble making good choices with your behavior.  You can't ever lose love from God, me or daddy, because remember what we say about our family? Families love forever! That will be something we will have to remind brother and sister too, because they might think lies about themselves too! But our family will always love each other, just like God adopts us into his big family and loves us forever! <<

This response will change and evolve, it will hopefully get better, it will adapt to new lies Satan tells her and new struggles she deals with. But I pray we can tuck scripture away in her heart when she hears lies, so she can train her heart and mind to replace lies with truth. To remind herself what God says about her. Here are a few other verses we use in similar situations if you are in a similar place with your child or discipline...

For who they are in Christ- no longer a "sinner" but redeemed.
Jer 31:20 and Psalm 139 mentioned above
2 Cor 5:17- therefore if anyone is in Christ, you are a new creation. The old has gone and the new is here!
Phil 1:6- And I am sure of this, he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.
Col 1:13-14- For he has rescued us from darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the son he loves, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins.
Rom 8:1 Therefore there is not no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:7 He cares for you.

For fear
1 John 4:18- There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.
2 Tim 1:7- For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.
Deut 31:6 (this is Wheeler's verse I tell him a LOT)- Be strong, take courage. Don't be intimidated. Don't give them a second thought, because God, YOUR God, is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you.

For Kindness:
Prov 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath.
Eph 4:32- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as Christ forgave you.
Prov 17:17 a friend loves at all times.
1 Thess 5:11- therefore encourage one another and build each other up.
Gal 5:22-23 The fruit of the spirit is Love, joy peace patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control.
Col 3:12- Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

*Note, the scripture cards we use in discipline and for memory, they are an awesome tool for family scripture memory! See this awesome site here to order: Lil Light O mine

I hope that helps you! Please also comment with any suggestions or thoughts you have on this topic! I have a LOT to learn how to shepherd these sweet children! I know this is the first of many tough ones!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

why "On a Light Stand"?

Well its almost been 2 years since I launched my blog as "on a lightstand" and you can read that short intro here. It has been amazing to see God bring this verse to light in my life in so many ways over the last two years.
I thought I would revisit how I got here...

Matt 5:14-16 message translation
You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

God brought me to this verse as I prayed for a life verse, direction, focus and purpose. It was as if I had found myself, my passions, and my reason for existence when I read it. Although I had no idea how the story would unfold, I clung to it.

This is not because I, myself, am something extraordinary or special that should be put out for all to see, but if the savior of the world really redeemed my broken soul and bought my life at a high price, I am honored to bear witness to that with my life.

God answered several things with this verse, it gave us purpose for our home, it gave us direction with our finances, it empowered us to live a bold, un-safe life, and little did we know, it would call us to open up our lives and home to two sweet new ones to bring out the God-colors in our family.

Once we answered God's prompting to adopt, one big fear I had boiled down to "being on that light stand".  I knew we would be the target of stares, second looks, rude comments, and people not understanding why there are two sweet brown faces amongst four not so brown ones.  But God brought me right out of fear and slapped me with this verse again.  I'm not here to look the same as everyone else, I am not here to shut myself in my home with my 2.4 kids and 2 car garage.  I am not here to hold "things" with a tight fist.  I am not here to keep quiet about what Jesus has done in my life.  That is my default mode, but it is NOT what I have been redeemed for.

Accepting Christ, going to Auburn where I knew no one, getting married, having 2 kids, moving to NC have all stretched me.  It has all taught me something about the Lord, the depravity of myself, and the dependence on God that I should have.  But nothing like even just starting to road to adoption has challenged me more, grown me more, stripped me of more selfishness, or required ultimate obedience and reliance on my Father.

Finding my purpose in life has been a sweet journey, one that is still not finished.  I know there have been bumps along the way and there are many more to come, probably bigger than any I've had before.  But even in trial, I know I am here to point people to him. And although my little lamp is usually dim, or sometimes just even flickering, I pray that God uses our lives to invite people to know him like never before, to step out like never before, and to leave behind the "christian version" of the American dream that so many in the church have settled into.

So join me as I continue my journey, On a Light Stand, seeking to shine right back at the one who has called me, saved me, and adopted me.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Public school is redeeming itself

So I have been so impressed with our public school lately.
A few reasons why...
1. Reese is determined it is her mission field. Not her words of course but she has asked all of her class and teachers why they haven't asked Jesus in their hearts and told them about the night she did.
She also came home with this thing about what she would do with 100$ if she had it. Proud mom moment.

2. The kindergarten classes are learning about businesses these days. They had to investigate two and see the language they use, what they sell or what service they provide, what the customers do there and what keeps the business running smoothly. Of course she interviewed daddy...

And The kids have been working all week to build their own businesses for the parents to come shop Thursday morning. So last night we had to practice what she says to her customers (welcome ma'am how may I help you? Etc) and then they exchange our "gecko bucks" for whatever they're selling. Reese works at "portrait painters" so I think I'll be coming home with some new art...
3. They're actually learning some quality character lessons. They have to memorize the motto of their school "CLIMB" caring students, learning, intelligent choices, motivation and being respectful.
They also do puppet play once a day to work out peer problems (ie making fun of people, someone getting left out at lunch, accidentally knocking someone down, etc).

Also, yesterday she said they learned the difference between needs and wants. She told me at dinner-" mom u nEED this food but you only want a new shirt since u have so many." She told me needs are what we need to live, wants are just the extras.
Quality lesson.
Thanks a lot free education. You're even better than I hoped.

Monday, March 19, 2012

living out love

Wow. We have just gotten back from a little over a week in Brazil and it was amazing.  It was awesome to see a dream we have had for our family for several years become a reality.  As soon as we found out I was pregnant with our first, we began to dream about what we wanted for our children, the values we wanted to pass down, and what we wanted to communicate that had importance in our lives.  Beyond our faith, the missional love of Jesus was something we wanted to live out loud for our kids.  It is a value in our family to serve others, tell others about Him, and live out His love beyond the borders of our country.  This was our first family mission trip, I would say (we went to Brazil a few years ago but with a 9 months old and 2 year old I'd hardly call that anything beyond a chaotic vacation ;).
My fears going in was that the kids were not going to eat much, wouldn't adjust well to the language or integrate themselves in with the people.  Well that took all of about 4 hours for God to overcome all of those once we hit the ground.  The kids loved it.  They were barefoot running around on the farm, playing guitar with Jonas, learning the moves to some Portuguese kids songs, playing with the kids in Brasilia.  It was amazing to watch.

The Lord kept tapping me on the shoulder saying-- see, I told you I could do it, this doesn't have to be as hard as you make it out to be, this is what I want for your family, it is not hard to be missional as a family.

It was lots of early mornings and long days putting on a camp in a smaller, more poverty stricken suburb of Brasilia called Riachofundo.  God blew open our minds and the doors of the camp as he nearly tripled our attendance by the end of the week.  One moment for me was to hear what the kids wrote down as "joy-stealers" of life to the fullest: family members doing drugs, being hungry, parents that continually call them bad names, bullying, and parents that will not go to church with them.  It became very real then.  We were not just putting on a camp in a small community, but we were connecting 180 kids to a church, showing them God's love, and hopefully letting Jesus shine in hope on an often dark situation.

There were several amazing moments with kids that I connected with. Even just in my broken portuguese, telling a girl that she is a princess of God loved extravagantly by jesus.  Or just being silly as we sang, danced, hugged, and played hand games.  Reese clicked right in with the girls despite the language barrier.  It is amazing how you can still connect with no words at all.

Another neat moment was that John's best friend from the age of 8-12 heard through the grapevine that John was in town and came on the last night to visit.  He brought one of his daughters and we enjoyed chatting and catching up late one night.
  It is so neat to see a part of John's past in such an amazing way.  John definitely falls right into place there in a way that often makes me want that for myself or the kids so much.

I ended the trip with such a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity, for the kids loving it so much there, for four little feet stained with the red dirt of Brazil and for a fulfilled longing for our family.  I definitely told God on the way home, just to call us where ever and we would go. If that is Brazil, Chapel Hill, Congo or Uganda, I would go or stay if he asked.  However, if we stay here, we are committing for this to be a part of our lifestyle. I am not waiting until I have teenagers to take them overseas and expose them to another lifestyle. This will be part of our family forever. I am so thankful God honored that desire with such an amazing trip for all of us.

*You can read the team blog at if you want more details of day by day.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Brasil mi amor

So for those of you who don't know, my husband grew up in brazil from the ages of 2-12 as a missionary kid.  He lived in Rio for 3 years and Brasilia, the capital, for 7 years.  It has become part of our family as well.

We went there after we had been married a little over a year for a little over a month and worked with some orphanages down there. It was such a neat experience to see where he came from and the love he has in his heart for the people of this country.  We have been down there a few times since, even taken the kids once when they were 9 months and 2.
Well we will be boarding a plane this time next week for Brazil. The kids are going too! We will be participating in WinShape Camps (Chick-fil-A's philanthropy) International project which John's family heads up.
I am so excited to love on the kids of Brasilia again.  It was such a monumental time in our marriage. It definitely made an imprint on us to focus on establishing our family on missional principles, loving the people of the world, and having a heart for the oppressed and the orphan (all of the pictures above are at different orphanages there).
I am excited for the kids to experience it again now that they are a little older. They will be immersed in it, as they'll be attending camp with the Brazilian kids and hearing nothing but the Portuguese language!
Please be in prayer for us and the team as we head to Brazil! Pray that the kids hear the word of Christ and let it take root in their hearts. Pray our kids can be a light, learn a lot from the kids there, and adjust well! Follow along with our teams down there at

spending freeze

Oh my word, if you read my post from Feb 6 about living in excess then you will know what I am coming through.  The Lord has been rocking me to the core when it comes to how much we have and spending.  Not to mention I read the book called 7 by Jen Hatmaker which shook me all up.  So I have now just completed 30 days of a somewhat spending freeze.  No clothes for me, no clothes for the kids or John, no toys for the kids, no random target pick up as I'm on my way to checkout.  Nothing. (wait, i take that back, ok small confession, I did buy the kids new crocs because we are headed to brazil in a few days and the ones from last summer are not fitting...)
I thought this would be DRUDGERY, TREACHEROUS, FULL OF TEMPTATION for me... but surprisingly... it was actually the opposite.

First I started by unsubscribing from all advertising emails. Goodbye loft, zappos, j.crew, and yes even you my sweet mini boden.  Do not flood my inbox each day with little tempting "I can't pass that deal up" feelings. Then I proceeded to stop by the trash after I got the mail and didn't even flip through any catalogs, they went straight to the trash. Next, I canceled all credit cards, we don't really use them, some I just had to get points or whatever else, but it was the principal of the matter.  I stayed out of the malls, I only stayed in the grocery side of target, etc.  I took 70 items to platos closet and deposited the money straight into my account for Uganda.

It was surprisingly not that painful.  It was actually freeing. It didn't take up any of my mental capacity this month wanting for myself or my kids who have so much. I think it was not coincidental that we had such a better month in our house.  John and I's conversations were sweeter, the kids and I had a lot more fun and a lot less just trying to pass by the hours. "Wanting" and "stuff" was taking up way too much space in my heart.

This month I am taking it a step further.  I will only spend in 7 places (one of those being online bill pay, otherwise power, gas, cell phone bill, house payment, etc would eat up all my 7!). This will be a challenge for me because basically it is knocking out eating out.  This has been a big one for us.  This will take some extra planning. But it is so worth it. Plus, maybe it helps I'm easing into it since we will be gone for 10 days of the month ;)

This post is definitely not a "look at me, I am doing all the right things" post.  But more so of how I have missed the mark and wasted time, energy and money on the wrong things.  I have set the wrong example for our kids as far as stuff has gone.  God is changing my heart.  So I hope you hear that in my post, and an encouragement to start putting it on the altar if that is you. It hurts at first, it makes you realize how it is just habit sometimes.  But oh the sweet freedom that comes with less.

And I am not regretting the however many 100's of dollars I would have spent that will now go to a sweet Ugandan daughter and make her feel beautiful, loved, valued, special and worth of a gift just for her.
 (picture courtesy of about a similar trip and giving out headbands)