Thursday, October 27, 2011

"We're Both Being Raised" Webinar

Six years ago, I started writing about the ideas that strengthen me the most.  These are the ideas that draw me closer to God through my mothering and help me to see who He is.

While I have taught several of these principles at religious conferences over the years, the majority have never been published or recorded, and I recently felt impressed to produce a series of spiritual webinars for this blog (and perhaps The Power of Moms).

I don't claim to have all the answers, but if the thoughts I've put together in this webinar can help others to feel how much God loves them and give them the tools to make positive changes in their lives, then it's well worth the investment of time and energy.

Simply fine-tuning this webinar over the past week has been a powerful experience for me.  I've felt lifted, comforted, and inspired by the Lord, and I can tell you with 100% surety that He loves all His children.

This webinar is called "We're Both Being Raised."


I'll share five stories with you from my early years as a mother and discuss the patterns that exist between the way we raise our children and the way the Lord raises us.

Click here to watch the webinar, "We're Both Being Raised."

Much love,
April


Monday, October 10, 2011

Creative Activities at Home

We've been focusing on The Power of Fun this month at The Power of Moms, and I've been trying so hard to be a "fun mom."

Yesterday, Spencer was breathless as he said, "Mom!  I want you to walk out in the hall, go down the stairs, through the living room, into the kitchen, out the back door, and go jump on the TRAMPOLINE!!!"

Wanting to be a spontaneous, in-the-moment kind of mom, I said, "Sure!  Let's go jump."

Then I heard Spencer mutter under his breath, "But it might break."

We ended up jumping for about 20 minutes (no broken springs, fortunately), and I loved every minute with him, but I've noticed that most of the fun happening in my home is the spontaneous stuff my children do on their own (while I'm busy doing all the "mom stuff").

Life is 100 times cleaner and quieter when my children are "plugged in" to a screen or completely out of the house, but there's a certain level of creativity that's only reached when the electronics are turned off and our schedule is cleared of errands and appointments.

Walt Disney once said, "Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children."  I love that.

And sometimes, the best thing I do for my children is give them space to create.
Alia is almost 12, and she makes the most creative snacks for the kids--like these little mice nibbling on some cheese:


When my children visited with their cousins recently, they all dressed up in Halloween costumes and just played the whole afternoon (it wasn't even close to Halloween):


My sister told us about this fun idea--using rain gutters as car tracks.  The boys spend hours lining up the tracks and racing the cars across the living room.


And whenever I get out the kitchen food (found at a garage sale for $5), they have such a great time playing restaurant.


This is Grace, taking my order:


I was reading a book on the couch while they were playing, but I had to stop and take a picture of this cute meal.  Honestly, I know I'm going to miss these kinds of scenes popping up all around me.


One day, I walked by a little end table in the living room and saw that Grace left me this:


They looked so cute, lined up with big smiles.  Then I went in the kitchen and saw Spiderman hanging out on someone's plate of pretzels:


Alia wanted to teach Spencer how to type using the "home" keys.  He couldn't see the letters when his fingers were in the right position, so she got out a marker and wrote "A-S-D-F and J-K-L-;" right on his knuckles.  It worked!


Family life is a beautiful thing.  It's messy and noisy, and there's plenty of whining and tattling going on, but the more I recognize the fun around me, relax our schedule, and give my children opportunities to create more fun, the more I enjoy this whole process of motherhood.

What inspires you to be creative?  Do your children participate in any creative projects you think my children would like?  (I'd love to hear!)

You can also see what my girls are up to by visiting Alia's Ideas and A Place for Gracie.  Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Reason Life is Hard

My home has been in a bit of an uproar these past couple of weeks.  It's been a good uproar because we've been doing some home improvement projects, but I've been trying to mother in a construction zone, and it was much harder than I thought. 

However, living with extra dust, noise, and confusion isn't the kind of "hard" I'm talking about today.  I'm 100% positive that every person who happens upon this blog has something really hard going on.

Maybe it's something you can't tell anyone else because it's private to you or your marriage.  Maybe it's a challenge that's been eating you up inside, and when you wake up in the morning, you instantly feel sick to your stomach.  Maybe it's a steady challenge you've had for years, and you can't even imagine life being "normal" for you. 

One of the reasons I haven't been a huge fan of "the mommy blog world" is because whenever you're reading about someone's vacation/day at the beach/flute concert/birthday party/family activity, you aren't able to see it in context. 

I know of far too many women who get depressed when they see the beauty of another's life, and they wonder why on earth their life isn't that way, too.  

Of course, many bloggers do their best to acknowledge the hard stuff and admit their imperfections, but still--there are just some things that no one can blog about, no matter how badly they want the rest of the world to know that they're normal, and so I'd like to offer a little perspective that has been invaluable to me. 

Last week, after taking Spencer to preschool, I went to my "special spot" in the house to have my morning devotional to God.  I opened my Google Docs to "My Questions," and I looked through my list of 40 or so topics until I found the one that I really, really wanted answered. 

This is one of those subjects I can't talk about on my blog.  It's the one that I've struggled and struggled with for years.  It's that one that strikes me at my center, and I would give anything to have it solved. 

As I looked at that question, I saw all the partial-answers I've already received.  I have it formatted like this:

Question 17: This is where I write my question.

4/6/05: This is where I write the first part of the answer I received.
1/19/06: And here is where I add a little more insight from the second time I pondered the topic.

11/1/07: And then a little more . . .

Today's Date: This is what the Lord tells me today.

(Maybe you didn't need to know all this, but since it works so well for me, I thought I'd share the details.)

As I wrote the things I felt the Lord wanted to tell me, I learned a little more about why life is hard.  

I was going to include a copy of a couple of paragraphs I wrote that morning, but as I read them over again, I realized they're still too personal to post.  Here's the essence, though:

I love God, and I am willing to give all I have and all I am to serve Him.  Honestly, I'll give Him 100%--no question.  But then I thought, "Why does He give me these challenges?  Doesn't He already know that I am His?"

That's when the answer came.  Yes, He knows I'm His.  But He needed my conviction and my devotion to deepen all the way to my core. 

It reminds me of my favorite C.S. Lewis quote:

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked—the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.”

Isn't that beautiful?  I can't read those words without getting choked up.  My mother first shared that with me more than 10 years ago, and I feel its power every time I think of it.  The hard times we go through are for our benefit.  The Lord is shaping us so we can receive Him.  (I think we all know that, but it's so easy to forget!)  

When I look at myself, I see my 10 extra pounds, my non-pedicured feet, my graying hair, and my many, many weaknesses.  But then I feel Him.  And He is Glorious.  He is so meek and merciful that He would consider using someone like me--who is nothing--to act in His name.  To be a mother.  To cherish my children and love them and create a home that is a heaven (well, I'm trying).  

I see all the heartaches around me, and I have no idea how to overcome it all, but HE does. He is Wonderful, and my prayer for you today is that you will let Him heal you, love you, and care for you. Because no matter how hard life seems sometimes, He has the power to make it beautiful.

Blessings,

April




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