This Beautiful Inheritance

Monday, March 30, 2015

On Being an Advocate For My Child

I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

My Mama Friend and I sat at her kitchen table, surrounded by windows that provided a view of our kids swinging and kicking a soccer ball in the yard. We shared Mama stories -- triumphs and defeats. She described one of those situations we've all experienced -- when she had to go to bat for her kid. A friend was putting him in a bad position. And the friend's parent wasn't seeing the problem.

But it's ok, she said mercifully. She is her child's advocate and I'm mine.

My wise friend's words stuck with me. That's so true, isn't it?

I am my child's advocate. It's a position I'm honored to hold.

If I don't pay attention to the quirks and beats of her personality and her needs, who will? It's not profound to point out that every child in the world is different. Even among our own flesh-and-blood, the needs can vary greatly. So who else to better pay attention to our children's strengths and weaknesses, joys and sorrows, triggers and love languages, than us, the parents?

I know for sure I have two daughters who are very different. I have one who's a leader and one who's a follower. Both positions present potential problems, for which they need their Mama to help level the field. Because I understand things about my daughters that others don't. I don't intend to remove all obstacles in their paths, of course. Problems are good for building character and resilience. But the Mama Bear in me does intend to be their biggest activist and defender. Whether it's an adult who doesn't understand that my spirited, energetic daughter physically cannot "just sit still." Or a friend who doesn't realize her remarks have the power to stab my sensitive daughter's heart in two. I will be their advocate forever.

And I would expect you to be for yours.

This month we received a new Tommy Nelson book called Henry Hodges Needs a Friend. I love this book because Henry's involved, intuitive parents noticed he was lonely, bored, and had difficulty making friends. They knew their son well enough to know that a new dog would bring the joy he so desperately needed. And his adopted dog, Hap, sure enough made him the happiest boy around.

I'm giving away one copy of this book to an involved, advocate of a parent, like you. :) Just leave a comment telling me a characteristic of your child no one else may notice, but you. Or tell me a time you've had to be an advocate for your child.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Donate at McDonald's "Day of Change" to Support the Ronald McDonald House

The FTC requires me to tell you that I am now a brand ambassador for McDonald's of Central Arkansas. But mainly, I'll talk about McDonald's because I (and my kids) love the place.

Our family loves simple ways to serve and help others. We also -- I'm not gonna lie -- love McDonald's. Always have. We love the menu variety, the kid-friendly atmosphere, and the partnership with the Ronald McDonald House, which provides housing to families of children receiving treatment at area hospitals.

Chances are you've heard of the Ronald McDonald House but may have never given it much thought. You may have even seen the donation boxes that hang on most McDonald's drive-thrus, but in your hurry just passed it by. (I'm guilty of that too.)

The Ronald McDonald House of Arkansas is located near Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock. It is currently a 28-bedroom home away from home for families of sick children who live 45 minutes or more away from Little Rock. Along with a place to stay, the Ronald McDonald House provides dinner every night, laundry facilities, and many other supplies for families who arrive to Little Rock in a hurry, all at no charge to them.

On Tuesday, March 24, McDonald's of central Arkansas will host a "Day of Change" to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Customers are encouraged to come to one of the central Arkansas McDonald's locations during the designated times and drop off their change in support of this worthy cause.

Click here for the donation times at your area McDonald's. And then watch this video about the heart and mission of Ronald McDonald House. (They're getting ready to build a brand new house!) You'll never hurry past one of the donation boxes again.

If you get to attend and donate at the "Day of Change," use the hashtag #forRMHC on social media to encourage others to get involved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Divine Friendships

This weekend, we had the joy of traveling to Texas to visit our friends we met at Pine Cove Family Camp last summer . In less than a year, this family has become dear friends to us. In September, we met them in Branson for some Silver Dollar City action, and this weekend, we got to enjoy their neck of the woods and spend a couple days in their home.

These friends of ours are so hospitable. What was theirs was ours over the weekend and they were happy for it to be so. They have generous, servant hearts. And their kids? Oh my. So sweet. Their bigs are such good role models for my littles.

And I was beyond thankful that they were all so understanding and gracious about our, um, "strong-willed" child. There were a few times that, if I had been with people a little less understanding, I would have broken down and cried over the embarrassment of my youngest's tantrums and blatant disobedience. But not around these folks. They took it all in stride and assured us that "this too shall pass." My sweet friend and mommy of three just pulled my little one close and whispered in her ear. "You are so special. God has great things in store for you!" When my stinker pulled away and pouted, my friend just kept lavishing love. That right there is a woman after God's own heart.

Despite those challenges, we had a wonderful weekend full of sweet fellowship. We enjoyed an adults only dinner at an amazing steak restaurant, visited the Dallas World Aquarium, visited our friends' church, and cheered at our first ever ice hockey game! And of course, we concocted plans of meeting up again.

I'm just so thankful for the divine way God brings people together and creates friendships you never expected. Until next time T family!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sick Day Snow Day

We're snowed in and on Day 3 of my babies being feverish and crummy. They are so pitiful. Hot cheeks. Droopy eyes. Tired smiles. As bad as they feel, though, they are just so darn sweet. Do your kids get sweeter and more loving when they're sick, or is it just mine? My goodness. I hate this for them but I really could just eat them up.

Selah crawls in my bed before midnight, shucks her shirt, and presses her fiery chest against mine. "I love you Mama. May I have some water please, Mama? Thank you Mama." In the dark, I feel her plant a wet, germ-laced kiss on my lips. I say a quick prayer she didn't infect me with The Crud and smile and say I love you Sweetie.

Boy, do I. There is something about my kids being sick that gives me a greater sense of purpose. Like all this nose wiping, medicine giving, and throw-up cleaning is WHAT I WAS MADE FOR. Like I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.

As much as I hate this for my babies and am praying hard for them to recover, I absolutely love caring for them. It is my joy to make them from-scratch chicken soup (which they barely touch) and homemade oatmeal cookies (which they devour) and watch Daddy Day Care an unofficial 14 times in a row.

So go ahead and fall, Sleet and Snow. I'm fine in here. I've got the sweetest of patients and the biggest of purposes.

(I'm a little low on milk and bread though, so by tomorrow, melt quickly.)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Three Tips for Raising Kids Who Won't Rebel

Looking back over my adolescence, I am so thankful that I never went astray and "sewed my wild oats," so to speak. I don't mean to sound arrogant or boastful. I know it is only by the grace of God that this is true. But I think back over my teen years, specifically, and don't even recall a temptation to partake in the activities that typically mar the high school years. So I have to ask myself, what did my parents do right? No, they weren't perfect. But there must have been some things they did that helped keep me on the straight and narrow when so many others diverge onto other paths. I ask myself these questions because this is what I want for my kids. My hope and prayer is that they too will stay true to themselves, their faith, and their family when all their friends may do otherwise.

After some reflection, I came up with three things my parents did that I believe helped me become a (though imperfect) devoted, non-rebellious teen and adult.

1. Time together as a family. When I think about my childhood and teen years, I see myself with my parents and my sister. We spent a lot of time together. Granted, my dad was self-employed and got to be home a lot. But even when he was at work, us girls were often there with him. As a family, we spent a lot of time at home together, watching TV, playing board games, eating meals, and doing nothing. We didn't stretch ourselves thin with 100,000 extracurricular activities, but when we did have ballgames or events to attend, we went together. We also took a lot of vacations together, which are some of my fondest memories. I know not everyone has this ability, but it shaped our family culture by creating shared experiences and adding glue to our family bond. Yes, I went to public school. But though I was there eight hours a day, it didn't "scar" me the way some people think it will. Because what I had at home was so much stronger. At home is where my security was, where my values were molded, and where my people were.

2. One-on-one time with dad. I have to say, my dad excelled in this area. Having daughters didn't stop him from taking us out for quality, one-on-one time. From the time we were potty-trained, he alternated taking me and my sister to Razorback basketball games, which were four hours away. We made these trips until we were... well we still occasionally go. A teenage friend of my sister once commented, "You spend that many hours in a car with your dad?! What do you talk about?" My sister was baffled. What would we not talk about? It was never awkward for us to spend alone time with Dad because we had just always done it. Research tells us that involved fatherhood makes a world of difference for kids. Those with involved dads do better academically, have fewer discipline problems, and become more responsible adults. This is true for both genders but I believe it is especially important for girls. Girls need their dads to show interest in them, to make them feel special, to show them affection. Research shows a strong relationship with Dad improves females' mental health, work performance, and relationships with men. Divorce and other family dynamics can sometimes make this a challenge, but it should not be an excuse. If you are a single mom, I encourage you to encourage quality time with your kids and their dad if at all possible. The two of you may have your differences, but him being present in their lives is unequivocal.

3. Faithful church attendance/involvement. My parents say they never remember me or my sister once saying "We don't want to go to church today." And the reason we never said it was because it never crossed our minds. Not going to church because we were tired, didn't feel like it, or because something good was on TV was simply out of the realm of possibility. If the doors were open, we were there. It's just what we did. I believe this was beneficial for us in so many ways. First of all, it taught us faithfulness and commitment. We didn't half-heartedly do things. And when we were committed to something we didn't flake out. Honestly, this is a lost virtue in today's society. People don't want to commit to anything that doesn't meet their needs at the time (church, marriage, friendships, diet plans). But if we can teach our kids that sometimes we do things we don't want to do because it's best for us... that is a priceless gift. Being actively involved in church also holds your family accountable. Old fashioned as it may seem, it may be more difficult for a teen (or anyone) to get involved in questionable behaviors if she knows her youth pastor, pastor, church family, etc. is keeping tabs on her and holding the standards high. Perhaps the best way, though, church keeps young people on the right path is through the fellowship and support of like-minded believers. It's comforting, especially as a young person, to know "you're not the only one" who's not gone off the deep end. Being a part of a church family that is making good choices, seeking the Lord, and moving in the same direction as yours may be just the moral support your child needs.

None of these "keys" are THE "key," of course. There is no magic formula. The only real key is the grace of God, and of course, fervent prayer. These are just easy, practical ideas you can implement into your family life that I do believe will make a difference. Do what you can do, and leave the rest to Him.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Love You Because... {A Valentine For My Husband}

I love you because… you are a caring, involved, playful, passionate dad, just like I always dreamed for my girls.

I love you because… you are the hottest, best looking man I know, and I’m extremely attracted to you. I wish I could make you believe this is 100% true; I don’t just say it because I’m your wife.

I love you because… you are so naturally friendly. You are a rare jewel in a busy, self-centered world.

I love you because… you’re compassionate. You see people, really see them. You notice the underdog, the overlooked, the needy. And they’re drawn to you too.

I love you because… you’re good in social situations. I never have to worry about “taking you out” into crowds of new people the way some women do. You’re never rude. You don’t say awkward or inappropriate things. You keep conversation going and make everyone feel at ease.

I love you because… you’re a manly man. You get dirty. You hunt and fish. You know how to gut a deer and bait a hook (isn’t that a country song?). You don’t get manicures and you don’t lay in tanning beds. I love that.

I love you because… you don’t play video games. I’m just sayin’.

I love you because… you work hard. So hard. You’re gone constantly and you do it all for us.

I love you because… you’re so talented. This is another thing you don’t believe but it’s true. From the time we started dating, I’ve been amazed you could sing/play guitar/build muscle/beat box/draw/write/swim/run/crack jokes/recite movie lines/imitate voices/etc. so well.

I love you because… you’re patient with me. You stick with me. When I criticize and nag too much, when our views on things are 1,000 miles apart, you hang in there and keep believing in us.

I love you because… you balance me out. You keep me from becoming too legalistic, too harsh, too narrow minded. Our kids will be more well-rounded because of you.

I love you because… you’re intelligent. You may be just an ‘ole country boy, but you know more about the world than I ever will. From world history to American history to the canonization of scripture to WWII to ISIS… you’re the man to ask when I have questions. And I’m thankful our kids will have you to ask too.

I love you because God gave you to me. And though sometimeswe fight and argue and wonder how God could pair up two opposites, I believe this marriage was meant for our sanctification. I love you because, before the beginning of time, God created you, knowing exactly what I needed to make me who He wants me to be. I trust Him, and I love you because you’re mine. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Duck Commander Devotions for Kids {Giveaway}

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

I'll be honest and tell you up front that I have never seen a full episode of Duck Dynasty. We don't have the station that it comes on, so I've just never had the chance to sit down and watch it. However, I know the gist of the show, and I know the beliefs and values of the Robertson family, and when Tommy Nelson offered us a kids' devotional from the Robertson clan, I knew I wanted it! I figured this would be a devotional my girls would love because I knew it would talk about things they enjoy: being outdoors, animals, getting dirty, and spending time with family. I was right and it was an instant hit.

The girls ask to do these devotions and jump at the chance when I suggest it. Each one includes a brief message with an anecdotal story from the Robertson family, a scripture, a prayer and an "action" step. My girls were amazed to find out that the "characters" in the book, like Bella and Sadie, are actually real people. Now I want to get some of the Duck Dynasty series on DVD so my girls can see the family they've been reading about. Here's a quick video about the book by its authors, Korie Robertson and Chrys Howard.


To win a copy of the book, just leave a comment telling why you love the Robertson family. Then enter via Rafflecopter below.

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