Friday, July 25, 2014

Thoughts from the Bookcase and a Giveaway

My daughter, Melanie, wrote our post for the weekend. 

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. Abigail Van Buren

All we can do is add kindling to our children's lives, but it takes the Holy Spirit to light the fire. Taken from a man in Shawn's Bible class 

Coming to you live!..from the living room bookshelves of our home. 

For some of you sweet readers out there who know me personally, you would agree that this type of post/info is not something I share publicly. I share in our home or in small conversations, but this - this is a big step! People are so diverse, and their opinions -- I'm sorry to say -- bother me if they don't match up with mine. (Oh, the problems of a people pleaser.) I'm a speed reader and my comprehension skills are not that of a Harvard scholar. That being said, take what you can from these books and let the rest be. If you use what you agree with from the books, then it's worth it to forget the sections you may not agree with...Selah
(Before moving on, I cannot take credit for finding these words of knowledge on my own...friends and bloggers have lead me to these resources. And a shout out to my mom, who uses her well-earned money to purchase said books as Christmas presents or surprise UPS deliveries.)

Two things we (Shawn and myself) feel strongly about: raising our children to know God's Word/way and raising them with a strong work ethic. Jesus, help us!...and cover them with grace when we fall so short.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Let's just say that if you happen to be by a window while reading this particular book, then by all means make sure it's up. Wowzers! It will make you feel so challenged and convicted that you'll wanna hurl it out! Actually, on second thought, if you go ahead and read the book next in this line-up, then your kids will know how to work, and they may as well clean up the shattered-window glass for you. You're welcome. Problem solved. 

This book is hands down my favorite book for training your children to have a good work ethic. It needs no explanation. Once read, you are welcome to do a victory dance. Well, as parents we have an enormous job to maybe save the victory dance for when they leave the nest and maybe now just get right to work? (Smile) Oh, oops. First, the book To Train up a Child helped us the most with discipline. Even with me failing in being consistent in disciplinary procedures, God has been faithful in giving us obedient kids. With Shawn managing employees for 15 years, we definitely see areas that require firm foundations being established before our kids leave home. I love putting my kids to work, and I pray that God guides us showing them a healthy balance of work and play. Responsibility is a huge brick that gets dumped in a high school graduate's proverbial backpack once leaving home to be on their own. Starting now to train them that life is not all play, but includes responsibilities that have been placed upon them is the best advice ever. Nope. Didn't come up with that powerful revelation on my own -- I read things :-) My boys actually gobble up the time they get to spend with Dad on a job. In fact, just yesterday, from 5 AM until 6:30 PM, they were helping, and still begging, "Are we gonna finish tonight? Are we, are we?" Wonder when their enthusiasm will start to dwindle...btw, they stayed a bit longer and finished. A little child shall lead them...

Grandparents can help train! Mamaw always allowed my kids to enjoy washing dishes with soapy, sudsy water. Nana puts the grands to work in the yard or dusting in the house. One day, Ethan came home from Nana's, and I happened to mention, "Hey, you want to get some work done?" He gave me a look of utter annoyance and said, "But I've been working at Nana's!" Haha! Love it that they CAN work and they work because she knows they can. And before you fear they have unkind grandparents -- let's just say that their bellies are always kept full of chocolate milk, and other delightful things take place!!!

One author said something to the effects of: You may feel like it takes too much time to teach your kids to work, thus it's easier to do the tasks yourself. (I agree. It can take time, but it doesn't bother me in every area.) BUT, THEY SAVE YOU TIME ONCE THEY KNOW THE REQUIREMENTS! Woo-hoo!! Amen and amen! Case in point: The 10, 8, and 6 year olds have been having to help mom a lot in the house. Every week. But this week our schedule needed to change, so I declared a 'no work' day on our, well, normal work day. Happy kids! I believe it clicked with them that day. Keeping things up, being responsible, and working hard eventually pay off and we get extra fun time. An "Ah-ha" moment -- for mom and kids. Btw, they don't know that some mild work comes later this week...I just postponed it...

I'm not gonna give you a list of the things my kiddos do, but let me tell you, I am proud of them and I don't know why the good Lord has blessed me so much by giving me cheerful, hard-working kids when I fall so short of leading them. But I appreciate the help. It makes me feel like SuperMom. 

Shawn has taken this book and invested hours into our kids before bedtime. Proud of that man. By that time in the evening, I am in no frame of mind to recite anything spiritual or fictional.

Would you pray for Shawn and me to help our kids make it to Heaven? That they will be strong in their faith? And that they will one day glorify God in their workplace? I'm saying a prayer for you as you do the same!

Family training:
King Me (Shawn)

Other reads I really think are good knowledge resources:
He Loves Me (Shawn)
Crazy Love (Shawn)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where Beauty Begins

What's the whole point of being pretty on the outside when you’re so ugly on the inside? ~Jess C. Scott

There's a new buzz phrase making its way around Christian circles--She's pretty, inside and out. Really, the sentiment is sweet -- even a compliment. Unfortunately, like so many comments, as they get used over and over the words lose their conviction and meaning.

I'm sure if you've been around young people for long, you have found that a beautiful face and cute figure is often window dressing. And the window is quite frankly  smeared with finger prints, dirt and grime. 

Young girls today are intelligent and intuitive. Not only do they know what's in their own hearts, they usually have observed what is happening in the hearts of their classmates and those they worship with. When we put our stamp of approval on ugly attitudes, arrogance, and unkindness, our own influence is lessened in their eyes.

You know I'm passionate about encouragement and believe that our young people should be given a consistent dose. But when we base our words on what we wish a young person would be, it takes away their desire to be like Jesus. It's like they are celebrated for unkindness, immodesty and selfishness. 

I love young people. They need encouragement. But we are to be mentors, teaching and modeling the love of Jesus and the living of a consecrated, pure daughter of the King. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Vacation Packing Favorite Five

Vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in.

I'm a list maker, and packing for a trip requires a long one! I've found that especially necessary on our recent trips to Kansas City. While RB sits in seminar sessions all day, I get to party at the hotel. Which in layman's language is read, write and craft. So making sure I have everything I need is important. 

Packing is different from when my children were little. I'd pack their little dresses, hang their matching hair bows in a baggie over the hanger and lay them out with their shoes, slips and tights to make sure I had everything they needed. But life goes on, and my packing is easier. 

Sweet Camden Newton

Still, there are five things on my list that I can't vacay without. And I've been known to stop along the way to purchase them if I forget. 

1. Candle.  Now if you would ask the front desk if you could burn a candle, you might be told "no." I'm a big fan of asking forgiveness over asking permission. I have never been asked not to burn my candles, and the housekeepers are usually delighted to walk in and enjoy the ambiance while cleaning. A lit candle immediately warms the room's atmosphere.

2. Lighter. This may seem obvious, but I've left mine at home and what good is a candle without one? Since our overnight stays are more frequent with RB's on-site teaching, I just leave one in my hotel basket so I'll always have it. (And yes, I could do this with the candle, too, but I'd rather the scents match the season.)

3. Goblets. I don't like to drink out of water bottles, Coke cans or hotel glasses. It's not hard to wrap up two goblets and tuck them in your basket. I don't take fragile ones, but my purple ones are just right. I haven't broken one yet (although I still think the joy of using them would be a good trade-off even if I did).

4. Books.  I learned this the wrong way. I have 100s of books on my Kindle but I learned -- the hard way -- to tuck a few books in my suitcase. We were traveling to Kansas City, and I wore out my Kindle. The car charger wasn't working, and I had to spend the last couple hours staring out the window. We arrived in Kansas City in the middle of a tornado warning and the threat of no electricity -- again with no books. Now I just throw a couple in. How much room do they really take?  

5. Journal. It's when I am quiet that my soul wants me to record my thoughts. Not having my journal stifles my creativity. I usually have some sort of paper, but a journal seems necessary. Which really adds a sixth necessity but I'll join it with this one -- a handful of my favorite pens.  Yes, handful. (I may lose one or two.) 

My family would say I forgot the M&Ms, but I think the others are more important. Maybe since I added the pens with the journal I can add the lighter with the candle. In that case, number 5 is M&Ms. I don't know when the tradition began, but there's always a [large] bag in our suitcase. 

I really need to pack my camera (It almost made the 5). I need to pack our clothes and shoes. I need to remember to pack our cosmetics. But that's not as important as my Favorite Five. 

What are your must-haves for vacation? 

Travel Check List
Vacation Packing List
Warm Weather Packing List

Friday, July 18, 2014

5 Ways to Listen to Candlelight

The light of a candle welcomes, inspires and warms not only your soul, but the souls of the ones you choose to share it with.

1. Candlelight says, "Welcome Home." 
RB loves to look through the window when he arrives home and see candles glowing. He knows he's entering a place prepared for him to "come home." With allergies restricting candle scents, I use fruit or food scents -- especially his favorites of cinnamon or clove.
2.  Candlelight says, "Slow Down."
When candles are lit on the dinner table, you linger longer after dinner. Emily's Jonathon loves candles and is the self-appointed candle lighter. It's easy to sit and share our day, laugh, and listen to goals and dreams. Floating candles in a crystal bowl are Jonathon's favorites.

3. Candlelight says, "Calm Down."
A modern way of stating this is Calm down and light a candle. When your spirit is troubled, light a collage of candles and just sit. You'll find the frustrations of the day melt away as the flames flicker and the scent fills your space. Lavender and sandalwood are calming scents.

4. Candlelight says, "Let's Get Going."
Before I begin to clean my home, I light the candles. They give me energy and the rays they spread on my polished tables keeps me cleaning. Lighting a peppermint or eucalyptus candle will rev you up even more. 

5. Candlelight says, "Happy, Happy."
Candles give every celebration a little extra kick. Birthdays get candles on cakes, Christmas brings the merry with pine and gingerbread candles. Pumpkin pie and apple cider puts the gratitude in Thanksgiving and when winter seems eternal, scents like lilac and peach envelope us with the promise of spring.

The warm glow and refreshing aroma from all kinds of candles are wonderful, but the best candlelight to set the mood of your home is yourself. When you have spent time with the Heavenly Father, the light of His blessing shines in your soul, and radiates throughout your home. So before you light the candles, kneel and light your soul. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Shining with Sun-Joy

When I dwell on the goodness God has expressed towards me, my heart rises up like an artesian well, my eyes gush forth joy that waters my face and leaves the observer in wonder. Gary Amirault

Papaw, watching through the camera lens of love, captured the joy. It shone through little baby blues and was heard in the giggles of a tiny one made with snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.

I wonder if the world, looking through the lens of disappointment, pain and disillusionment, can see our joy. Do they see earthy, fleeting happiness purchased with a new couch, eaten with a six-course meal in a classy new restaurant, or worn with a way-over-budget pair of shoes? 

Or looking through their lens of regret and despair, do they see an authentic man or woman who is washed clean in the blood of Jesus, stooping to love those bound by Satan? 

Someone who will take the time even when they don't have the time? 

Someone who has clean hands and a pure heart who will get their heart-hands dirty to be Christ to them? 

Someone whose bank account was built through the sweat of their brow, willing to pay for a bowl of rice in a third world country or car repairs on a worn out car?

Do they see someone more concerned with those the Lord loves than with those the world worships? 

If our world is every-day-same little children do they see sweet momma-joy? 

Are we willing to get our hands dirty, our hearts stomped on, our love rejected so through the world's camera lens they can see our joy?

Vine-grown joy (Galatians 5:22).

Joy that gives us strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Morning joy (Psalm 30:5).

Exceeding joy (Psalm 43:4).

God-given joy (Ecclesiastes 2:36)

What photograph will the hurting world capture of you today?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Friendship Friday

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Style from God's Closet

I'd rather dress for the desires of the King, than for the desires of a man. ~unknown

She stole my heart the moment I saw her. A tiny bundle of joy with a head full of dark hair. So much hair her mommy played with barrettes and ribbons before she even left the hospital. (Grandma may or may not have been involved.) 

I love how God puts the love of all things girly into female hearts. Morgan can ride 4-wheelers with her brothers and play pirates with gusto, yet walk away to cuddle dolls and play dress up.

Last week Auntie indulged Morgan's love of dress up, letting her choose a dress and shoes, and styling a special grown-up hairdo. The photo shoot turned out awesome photographs.

Morgan was happy to be dressed in Auntie's clothes. And while there's nothing in Auntie's closet that would fit me, there's another closet that I've found that has clothes in any size. God's closet.

I slide the hangers across the rod, taking in the color, style, and the smallest detail. Each one seems tailor made. How can I possibly choose just one?

It's then the Master Tailor steps up beside me, the measuring tape around His neck. They are all made just for you, He whispers. I want you to have the whole wardrobe. He begins to pull the clothes from their hangers one by one, handing me a little red number named kindness. I try it on, then one by one -- compassion, humility, gentleness and patience. There's a lacy one named forgiveness, too. 

But it's when God takes the last garment off the rack that I gasp. So much sparkling gold and rich, deep purple. It's a gown fit for royalty. I hold it up to me and do a little swirl. The full skirt swishes around my legs. I look at God, questions in my eyes: Can I ever be worthy of wearing this gown?... What if the delicate fabric tears? 

God's love breaches the space between us. Put it on. It's the most important gown in the collection. I looked at the tag and read, "One size fits all." I turned it over and read the care instructions, Hand wash in love and tumble dry in unity.

So unworthy of this wardrobe sewn at Calvary and so freely given. In my humanness, often in my carelessness, I have torn, wrinkled, or pulled the hem out of one of these garments. Each time I take them back to the Master Tailor. He mends them gently and hangs them back in the closet, ready for me to wear again. 

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity (
Colossians 3:12-14).

Friday, July 11, 2014

7 Ways to Ease Fibromyalgia Pain

There are five million people who suffer with fibromyalgia pain. Even though the medical world is still trying to explain fibromyalgia, there are many unknowns that accompany it. Blogger does not even acknowledge it as a word (suggesting fibrillation instead) and many friends and family consider it a mental issue.

But if you are one of the five million, you know just how real the pain, fatigue, and other effects are. Here are six ways to help you cope.

1. Find a Sidetrack: My sidetrack is usually reading. I carry a book or Kindle with me wherever I go. I've found that when waiting, I am more keenly aware of the pain. When I watched my daughter's volleyball games, the time out or between sets were unbearable. But when I read, I could block it out. Your sidetrack may be a hobby or crossword puzzles. Whatever involves your mind engagement helps.

2. Buy a New Mattress: My daughter visited a sleep number bed store and was excited to share with me what she learned about fibromyalgia. The sales people are trained to evaluate what is needed for better sleep and pain control. I put one on my wish list! Good rest is important, and often I see a connection between my pain level and the amount of sleep I get.

3. Set an Alarm: My massage therapist (see #7) suggests I stand up once an hour. It's difficult for me because I get involved in my writing and don't think about moving. My husband takes care of that when he is home -- he sets an alarm for every hour. I don't always want to move, but I can tell a difference when I do.

4. Eat: Okay, so that one is qualified. It's thought that caffeine isn't healthy for a person with fibromyalgia. But there are other foods that do help with pain. Ginger and peppermint are good for muscle pain and turmeric for chronic pain. I may or may not have read that chocolate helps with fibromyalgia pain.

5. Socialize: Socialize with other fibromyalgia sufferers. I remember the first time I read an article about a woman who had fibromyalgia. With tears streaming down my face, I kept saying, "me too" as I read. There's a special bond between us, and I believe some of it is because most people don't see our pain. If your body isn't in a cast or you're not going through chemotherapy, it must be in your head. But when someone says, "I've dropped things all day," or "I looked at the stairs, and it's not happening today," there is an instant bond. There are several support groups online, too, that can help give you the "me too" feeling. 

6. Change Your Lifestyle: Stress has a large impact on how you function. Sometimes it means changing your lifestyle. For me, one thing I needed to change was entertaining. By the time I prepare for guests, I'm too tired to enjoy them. It also means limiting commitments by learning to say no. That's a hard one for most of us. Don't, however, sit home and do nothing. Find a balance. Yes, sitting on bleachers for my grandsons' little league games may hurt, but the positive mental vibes outweigh the pain.

7. Find a Rhonda: Rhonda has greatly improved my day-to-day living. When I first heard how deep tissue massage can make a difference in a fibromyalgia life, I didn't know where to find one. I called my health food store and they gave me Rhonda's name. I go every other week for an hour. Not only did God give me a fabulous massage therapist, He made sure she loved books and reading. I get a mental fix when I go, too.

I hope these few ways helping me will make a difference in your life, too. I don't want the disease to define me. I want to be joyful. These seven steps help me find that joy. 

If you don't live with fibromyalgia, here are a few ways you can help us cope:

1. Understand that some days I can and some days I can't. Don't take it personally if I can't do what you've asked. It's not an excuse for getting out of helping. 

2. I've tried every natural cure known to men. Just because I don't run out and try what you suggest doesn't mean I don't want to get well. It just means I am tired of spending money for fool-proof cures that just don't prove to be a cure.

3. "I'm fine" doesn't mean I am as fine as you. Quite frankly, you don't want to know my litany of pains. "I'm fine" means I'm  coping. I'm not being untruthful just because I define "fine" different than you.

4. When I turn down an invitation to socialize with you, it doesn't mean I don't like you as a friend or you aren't important to me as family. It means the thought of getting ready is overwhelming, and if I push myself I'll suffer the next three days.

5. Educate yourself. All you have to do is type fibromyalgia in Google and you'll receive 5,990,000 hits. If you spend fifteen minutes educating yourself, you'll understand me better. Just learning how to define fibromyalgia provides a basis on which to understand your friend.

I'm filled with gratitude as I sit here thinking of the friends and family who understand my name is not synonymous with fibromyalgia. I'm still Pamela. I still love my family. Friendships are still important to me. I'm a reader and writer, and I love the process of gifting. I'm passionate about encouragement. My heart is joyful even on the days I have trouble locating the joy. I like making crafty messes and lighting candles all over the house. I like sending and receiving mail. I obsess over new tablets and Pilot fine point pens, and can't leave the house without both. Dark salted chocolate is my vice, and I can relate to Cookie Monster. I have a creative soul and am more intentional about my time with God than any other time in my life. I am not fibromyalgia pain. I live with it, but it's not me.

Each day I remind myself of Philippians 4:8, and I meditate on things that are true, honest, just and pure, lovely, those that are admirable, virtuous and praiseworthy. It gives me soul strength even if my physical strength is limited. And I know God is good -- all the time.