This Beautiful Inheritance

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Teaching Our Children Not to Awaken Love Until the Time is Right

I avoided it for as long as I could – the explanation of what a “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” was. My girls are young, and for as long as possible, I wanted to shelter them from those terms. The words themselves aren’t “bad,” but they usher in the desires to be noticed, to pair up, to focus on one's appearance, and much more.  I would prefer my girls to believe people remain single until God shows them the one they are to marry. But of course, in the day we live, it’s only a matter of time until our children are “enlightened.” Everything from Disney movies to children’s books and friends at school normalize boys and girls pairing up in relationships, especially this time of year.

I may sound like an old fogie to some, but my concern in this area is grounded in life experience. My husband and I started dating when I was 14 years old. I was a child. We dated for nearly five years before we got married and made wonderful memories along the way, but it was also very difficult. I learned through experience that growing in your relationship with the Lord is more challenging when you are consumed with a dating relationship.  Developing friendships, spending time with family, learning new hobbies and skills – these are important in teens’ lives but the time available for them is limited when so much is wrapped up in a boyfriend or girlfriend. But the biggest challenge for a dating, Christian teen is to remain sexually pure. No matter how devoted to the Lord a young person may be, spending extended time with someone they’re attracted to and have feelings for is inviting sexual temptation. Not to mention hormones are in full swing at this age! This can lead to guilt, confusion, and ultimately, sexual sin. That’s why it’s our job as parents to set firm boundaries for our kids as well as steering them away from dating and perhaps (if we feel led) forbidding it altogether. It is my hope that my girls will not date until they are 18. That may sound legalistic, but let me explain why.
There is a verse in Song of Solomon I learned around the time I got married.

“Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, not to awaken love until the time is right.” Song of Solomon 8:4 NLT

 
Other translations of this verse tell us not to “stir up” or “arouse” love until the time is right. When is the time right? I’m not a Bible scholar but my humble conclusion is – when we can act on it! If sex outside of marriage is a sin (and according to the Bible it is), then we should not awaken those feelings when it would be a sin to act on them. In society today, it is nearly impossible for a young person to get married while still in high school; they need to be able to work and support themselves. This is why I feel dating before 18 is unnecessary and dangerous.

Of course, this is not a Biblical mandate. For some the “right time” in life may be later or sooner. But I know for sure our kids today are awakening love too early.
My oldest started Kindergarten this year, and thus, it begun. Her friends at school already talk about who they like and who is their “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Believe me – I know these relationships are innocent. Still I wonder if we as parents do more harm than good when we encourage this kind of behavior.

In our house, we’re starting early discouraging it, in the most loving, light-hearted way we can. From the beginning, I want to set my girls on a different path with a different focus because I don’t want them facing the same arduous, uphill battle for purity that me and their daddy did. I want them to be free in their teenage years to enjoy their singleness, their friendships and their family. Free to develop their talents, skills and interests. And free to grow in their relationships with the Lord, without being bogged down by guilt, distraction, or confusion.
I look forward to the day when they meet the men God has for them, when the time is right and they can commit their lives to each other and express their love. But until then, I don’t want to do anything to arouse in them feelings that may make their paths more difficult along the way.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Our Walt Disney World Vacation, 2016

Friday we returned from a week in the most magical place on Earth, Walt Disney World. The next best thing to being a kid at Disney is being the parent of a kid at Disney. Experiencing the magic through them is, well, magical! Tyler chose to stay home and work this trip so I was the solo parent for my girls, but with my parents there as well as my sister and brother-in-law, I had plenty of help!

We arrived Sunday afternoon and went to Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) for supper and delicious Ghirradelli ice cream. Then we went back to our hotel to rest up for our first big day at the Magic Kingdom Monday.

We stayed off Disney property but nearby at a very nice Staybridge Suites (the same place we stayed last year). I loved our hotel. The rooms are spacious, very nice, and the hotel offers free breakfast every morning and even free supper some evenings.

After breakfast Monday we headed out for our first day at the Magic Kingdom. Thanks to fast passes and my mom's careful planning, we didn't wait in any long lines all day. We packed in multiple rides and covered about half the park. We also ate lunch in Cinderella's Castle and got to (re) meet Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine and Snow White.


 

Last year when we went, Cinderella's Castle was being renovated, and our princess brunch was at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort instead of the castle at Magic Kingdom. We actually loved the setting because we were one of just a few families there and it was quiet and intimate. This year, with our meal back in the castle, we were one of countless families and the atmosphere was a little more noisy and less intimate. We still had a great time, but it wasn't quite the same as before.

Tuesday we went back for Day Two at Magic Kingdom. We learned from last year that you just cannot cover all of the park with small children in a day. Two days is perfect. We were able to cover the things we hadn't gotten to yet, re-ride a few things, and eat lunch at "Be Our Guest" inside Belle's castle. If you eat at "Be Our Guest," I highly recommend the Braised Pork!

 



Wednesday we took an "off" day and didn't visit an actual park. But my mom booked us a brunch at the "Ohana" restaurant at the Disney Polynesian Resort. Oh my! This meal was amazing. I am a breakfast fanatic and this meal, served up family style, included all the sweet bread, fruit, eggs, sausage, bacon, waffles, and biscuits we could want. And Lilo, Stitch, Pluto and MICKEY were there too! The meal was delicious and so much fun.




Thursday we visited the Animal Kingdom. It was my first time at this park since I was a kid and my girls' first time ever. We had a fast pass for the Kilimanjaro Safari so we immediately headed there, where we saw rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, elephants, lions, cheetahs, and so much more. All the animals roamed free on the land, and we drove right by them as if on a real African safari. To my amazement, we later learned they actually have to bring all these wild animals into pens and cages each evening when the park closes, which can take up to three hours.




Unfortunately, my girls aren't tall enough for the roller coasters at Animal Kingdom and the river rapids ride was closed, so there weren't a lot of rides we could do. We saw both a Finding Nemo show and a Lion King show that were really good, but my girls' favorite part of Animal Kingdom was probably the gigantic playground they found at the end of the day! The park closed at 5 o'clock so we had somewhat of a short day and then went to a restaurant called "Uno" in Orlando with deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.

Friday morning I got my girls up early and we headed back to Disney Springs where I hoped I could get them into the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I hadn't made them an appointment this year, but a worker at the Magic Kingdom told me sometimes if you get there at opening, you can be a walk-in. I kept telling my girls it was a long-shot for us to get in, but sure enough, we did! I was just as excited as them. The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is so magical and special for little girls. It may very well be my favorite part of Disney. I let both girls choose whatever hairstyle they wanted so, of course, one came out with purple and blue hair and the other became a blonde! They looked adorable.




After that was our last Disney activity -- another character brunch at the Grand Floridian Resort. This time we met Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger. The meal was a delicious buffet with every breakfast/brunch food you could possibly imagine. I'm still not sure which meal was my overall favorite between the Ohana breakfast and this one.




After taking a few pictures around the resort, we headed to the airport to catch our flight home. It was a long, tiring week, yet so wonderful and magical. I have already been missing Disney since being home. It's hard to readjust to the daily grind and the cold temperatures after a week at such a special place!

For those of you considering taking your first trip to Disney, here is a post my mom wrote last year with some very wise tips and advice about Disney trips. And feel free to contact me with any further questions you may have. With the proper planning, all your dreams really can come true. ;-)

Also, here is my recap from our trip last year.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Breakfast Lunch Date at McDonald's

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

I'm going to be honest. I was planning to do a post this month about "healthy meal options" at McDonald's. We have been making an even more concerted effort to shop for and cook healthy meals at our house this year, and I wanted to show that you can make similar choices at McDonald's, which you totally can. (Order yourself a Premium Southwest Salad like I planned to or get a Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap or a Yogurt Parfait...)

But last week when Selah and I pulled into McDonald's for a late lunch before my baby doctor appointment... I was starving. It was 1:00, I had barely eaten that day, and signs everywhere reminded me McDonald's now serves breakfast all day! It was settled. I ordered a Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit.


Y'all, I didn't feel bad about it even a little bit.

I am crazy about breakfast food... eggs, bacon, sausage, gravy, all of it. But I rarely eat those things because my stomach can't handle big breakfasts early in the mornings. So the option to treat myself to some of my favorite guilty pleasure foods at LUNCH was a no brainer! My Bacon, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit was warm and delicious and gone way too soon. I ordered the meal, which also came with hash browns and a drink, and devoured it all before you know who could ask for a bite.


(Side note -- Cutie oranges are now available in Happy Meals again! My girl was pretty excited about this.)

In case you're curious, here are all the options available on the "All Day Breakfast" menu.

-Egg McMuffin
-Sausage McMuffin (with or without egg)
-Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit
-Sausage Biscuit (with or without egg)
-Hotcakes (with or without sausage)
-Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait
-Sausage Burrito
-Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
-Hash Browns

So whether you want a lite and healthy lunch or whether you want to indulge because you're starving or you're pregnant or just a little too crazy about bacon, call up someone special and plan a lunch date today. ;-)


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

8 Lessons Learned from Life's Curve Balls

For years I held an idea about what my family would look like. I remember being a teenager and sitting in the high school gym bleachers and saying out loud for the first time I wanted to adopt some day.

I remember sleeping over with some girl friends in college when one of them described how she hoped to one day have a house full of multi-racial children. "Me too!" I agreed.

I remember the relief when my husband told me on his own he had been researching adoption agencies and I knew I wasn't alone in my desire.

And of course, I remember the deep breath I inhaled when, just a few months ago, a baby we were close to suddenly needed a home. "Of course we'll do it," we agreed without much prayer or thought. "This is what we've waited for."


Currently, we are no longer caring for this baby full-time. But the last few months have taught me so many valuable lessons, which I would like to share with you.

1. God's ways are weird and crazy. At least to our human brains. And we know this already in a cliché "God's ways are not our ways" kind of way. But we never really get it until he throws a genuine curve ball to OUR life plans. Then it sinks in. His ways aren't predictable. They're not what we would have chosen. They're hard. But in the long run, we can see how they fit into a bigger picture that turns out oh so beautifully.

2. Foster families need our support. They don't just need our smiles at church and our casual "How are things?" They need our prayers. They need our money. They need our home-cooked meals. They need our listening ears and our genuine compassion.

3. We must focus on the family God's given us. Sometimes as Christians we can get so caught up in service and good works, we sacrifice our own children or our marriages on the altar of ministry. This is not ok. How can we be of service to those in need if our own families are bruised and battered? Of course I know many worry too much about their family's safety and prosperity so they never take risks for the Kingdom. This is not God-honoring either. But somewhere in the middle there is a healthy balance. We must seek to find it.

4. God's timing feels wrong. But it's not.
(See - #1) (See also  - "I'm pregnant now?!")

5. Your dream may have to die. This is probably the hardest one to type. I was a big time dream weaver and banner flyer when it came to how I wanted to build a family. But I finally had to ask myself if *my* dream was actually God's calling for my family... or if it was me wanting to build a shrine for myself.

6. Or maybe your dream was misinterpreted. Maybe the desire or passion God placed inside of you was meant for something other than what you thought. Maybe there's a different way to live out your "dream" that's unconventional but just as effective for the Kingdom... Maybe.

7. There is no model of a "perfect Christian family." You are no more or less Godly if you have one child, 10 children, biological children, adopted children, multiracial children, homeschooled children or children who love Taylor Swift. God calls each of us to different things. What is sin is when we choose our family's paths based on self-seeking desires. But when we follow His lead and His voice, He will call us each out on our own.

8. We should consider before we judge. It's so easy to judge our Christian brothers and sisters based on what we think they should be doing. I'm guilty of this too. But we never know what's going on behind closed doors. What we think is best might be very wrong for their family. Let's give each other the benefit of the doubt and know that if our sisters and brothers are seeking the Lord, He is leading them the way He wants them to go.

The bottom line is that God is going to weave our stories so that we lean on Him, have varied experiences, and become the wisest servants we can. Our stories will all look different. But we must be in tune with Him and obedient when He says to act, pull back, or be patient. Only then will we leave the imprint on the world He intends.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Biblical Worldview for the New Year

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.

Is your new year off to a good start so far? Did you set any new resolutions or goals for the year? I have never been much of a "resolution" person, but I am aiming to read through my Bible this year. I actually got a head start because I started in November with a group of ladies who are doing it with me, but I'm already a little behind and I'm sure I won't finish before December 2016! I've greatly enjoyed it so far though. Yes, there are some parts of the Old Testament that are tedious to read through, but I also find it fascinating. I want to know the full scope of God's story, how it all ties together and how it applies to me.

Having a Biblical worldview is so important to me and one of the topmost things I want to teach my children. Having a Biblical worldview means you view everything about the world through the lens of God's Word. What does He say? He says he made the world. He says men are sinful and need a Savior. He says there is eternal life and eternal punishment. He says there are angels and forces of darkness. Having a Biblical worldview isn't something our kids will just "pick up." Absolutely everything in our culture is contradictory to the Biblical worldview. So we must be very intentional as parents to teach and instill it in them.

We recently got some new books from Tommy Nelson that help us do just that. I got the book The Joshua Code and the girls got I Can Learn the Bible, which is the version of the book for kids. Both books have 52 scriptures to memorize. So each week you and your kids can learn the same memory verse and read short chapters that go along with the verses. All of the verses are ones foundational to the Christian faith that every believer should know. And the devotional text for each week teaches fundamental truths about how we should view the world and our spiritual lives. It teaches a correct worldview.



We haven't necessarily been doing one verse per week; we've just kind of done them as we had the time. And of course, it's flexible so you and your kids can go at a pace that works for you. But so far we have learned three verses and I have really enjoyed going over them in depth with my kids to make sure they really understand these truths of the Christian faith. If you are a new believer or maybe even someone who's been a Christian for a long time but has never really devoted enough time to growing in your knowledge of the word, I think the adult version of The Joshua Code would be a wonderful addition to your new year. If we don't have a correct view of God and of his word, then we can't correctly interpret anything that happens to us in life.

And of course, I'm giving away a copy of each of these books here on the blog. To enter to win both books, leave a comment telling me a goal or resolution you have for this year or tell me why a Biblical worldview is important to you. After commenting, be sure and enter via Rafflecopter below and earn additional entries by following me on Twitter and visiting me on Facebook.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Selah's 4th Birthday Party

We had Selah's fourth birthday party right before Christmas at Chuck E. Cheese. This is a (very belated) post that is mostly for my sake because I like to have a digital record of my girls' parties and the blog is just the best place for it!

Having a birthday right at Christmas is just the worst because no matter what, it's going to be drowned out by Christmas festivities. But I was determined to give Selah an awesome party this year, close to the time of her actual birthday, whether very many people were able to attend or not. And surprisingly, many were! It was our first Chuck E. Cheese party and it was definitely a success.


Parties here are a little chaotic and crazy but still so much fun. My girls were old enough this time that I didn't have to hold their hands, walk them to every game, and coach them through how to play it. I could just kind of let them go. They ran wild and rode rides and racked up tickets.

 
 

Isn't this the sweetest? :) Speaking of tickets... the birthday girl got to take a turn in the renowned "Ticket Blaster," and she invited her sister to go in with her. It was so funny to watch. Selah loved it but Eden was terrified! Which is pretty much the story of their lives.


I made a giant strawberry cake for the party (Selah's favorite), and it was so sweet watching her sit front and center as everyone sang to her and gave her all the attention. I know birthday parties aren't the most important thing in the world, but it sure is fun to make my girls feel special.

 
 

Since the party was Selah's "big present," I just got her a Shopkins body wash set and blanket for her gift. She must have thanked me 100 times for that blanket. "You knew I would like that blanket, didn't ya Mama?" she kept saying.

So there we are. My baby is four. Christmas has passed. And a new year is upon us. I hope you had a wonderfully blessed holiday season, and I look forward to spending 2016 here with you on the blog. My family is always first, so I'm never able to post quite as often as I would like. Nevertheless, thank you for being faithful to read when I do. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy Meals Have Shopkins!

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

Yesterday I went to the doctor (everything looked great!), and after that we took the girls to McDonald's because we had heard Happy Meals now have Shopkins! (You know what Shopkins are, right? If you have a girl ages 4-10, of course you do. If you don't, YouTube it.) Not that my girls actually *needed* any more Shopkins after getting stocked up for Christmas and their recent birthdays... but still, this was a Happy Meal toy we just couldn't resist.

On the way to McDonald's, the girls discussed which new Shopkins they were hoping for, and I told them I had a feeling the toys they would get would be exclusive, only-found-in-Happy-Meal Shopkins. I was definitely right.


The Happy Meal Shopkins are giant versions of the typically quarter-sized toys. But my girls didn't mind at all. They thought it was exciting. And of course they now have a whole new list of (giant) Shopkins they have to mark off and collect.

Each Happy Meal comes with one shopping basket and two Shopkins. Each of my girls got a "Tiara" and then Eden got a "Judy Jumper" and Selah got a "Teenie." They were very cute and the girls were proud.



Shopkins will only be available in Happy Meals until January 18. So hurry and collect yours before they're all gone!

And tell me -- do your kids love Shopkins as much as mine?

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