This Beautiful Inheritance

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Play Date With Ronald McDonald!

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.

We met him! Last week the girls and I met the guy in the big red shoes, Ronald McDonald himself! I'm 28 years old, and this was the first time I'd ever met Ronald. So the girls and I were all equally excited! When we showed up at McDonald's, we weren't sure what to expect. We didn't know if Ronald would just shake our hands and say hello, sit down and chat over some McNuggets, or what. But he ended up doing a whole awesome magic/learning show for all the kids. It was so fun!

During his show, Ronald emphasized three things: imagination, reading and sharing. He encouraged kids to use their imaginations to play and make believe anything they want! He also encouraged reading and visiting your local library to discover all different kinds of books. And sharing. Because when you share with others, everybody wins.

Ronald also did a lot of magic tricks that wowed me as much as the kids. He was pretty smooth!

Ronald also handed out paper smiles, played with the kids in the Play Place, and answered any questions their little hearts desired. My girls asked him where he lived. "McDonaldland." In case any of you were wondering!

We had a genuinely great time. My girls talked about Ronald for the rest of the day... and are still talking about him! "He was so cool!" They kept saying.

And I have to agree!

pictured with one of my girls' cutie friends :)

Friday, May 22, 2015

There Are No Perfect Families {What We Learn From Josh Duggar}

I'll be honest. I held the Duggar family up on a pedestal of perfection just like many of you did. In my eyes, they were the epitome of holy living and raising your family RIGHT. They may not have been Jesus, but they were as close as earthly possible... The kindness they showed toward each other. The respect their kids showed adults. The obedience. The love. I knew my family would never look like the Duggars, but it was a model worth striving for anyway.

And then yesterday, we learned about this. Josh, the oldest Duggar child (who is now married with three kids), had been accused as a young teenager of molesting several girls. The details are all still fuzzy, but we have reason to believe it may have been his sisters.

When I read the news, I was at a loss for words. This can't be. This is the perfect family! Each child has been taught so well. They love Jesus so much! What about the pedestal?!

But nearly as quickly as those thoughts entered my mind, others nudged their way in. "You've seen this happen before, Kelcie. No one is above reproach. There are no perfect families."

I reflected on another instance from just a few months ago. I was reading a blog post by one of my favorite bloggers -- someone I admired, looked up to, and shall I say it, held up on a pedestal. In my mind, she was a consistent, goodie-two-shoes, lifetime Jesus follower. And then in her post, she dropped a bomb. She had once had an affair. What?! I was angry. Hasn't ANYONE out there lived righteously consistently without any large stains or scars, I wondered. I was riled up, and I started planning my next blog post -- something about "living a life of integrity" where you never fall into "major sin."

But then God stopped me. What is "major sin," He asked me? I couldn't respond. Because I knew the answer was "all of it." Her affair, in the eyes of God, was no worse than my condescending tone and belittling of my husband. And though it repulses me, Josh Duggar's sin is no worse either. Sin is actually an old archery term, which refers to missing the mark (the bulls eye). Missing the mark at all, whether by a little or whether by a lot, is still sin. Plain and simple. Each and every sin misses God's mark of perfection.

So I'm realizing that (surprise, surprise) there are no perfect families. (The Duggars would be the first to tell you this and said so in their statement.) There is but one perfect person worthy of a pedestal whom we can pattern our lives after without regret or fear of misstep --

Jesus Christ. He is perfect! And He will never fail us!

You know that old saying that used to be posted on church reader boards: "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." Well, that's so true. The world is going to rip the Duggar family apart over this discovery, and it breaks my heart. They are not perfect. They are just forgiven. And yet, they are people of integrity. Despite trials, they have walked faithfully with the Lord, accepted His grace and guidance, and always done their best to follow Him.

That is my goal too.

(Please refrain from turning the comment section into a place to bash and degrade the Duggar family. I reserve the right to moderate/delete/turn off the comments if needed.)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ten Years Ago {My High School Graduation}

All the pieces of the puzzle had been laid out and fit together. Three years of honors courses. Twelve years of homework and studying and tests. More ballgames and laughs and projects and tears than could be counted. The work was complete, and it was the night of my high school graduation.

I was decked out: white skirt, white top, white cap and gown. Plenty of make-up and comfortable heels. As I made the trek across damp grass for our commencement ceremony, I scanned the sea of faces in the crowd. Did he make it? A handsome smile from behind the bleachers caught my glance. He cast me a small wave and walked hurriedly in, and I let out the breath I'd been holding. He was here.

We had been dating for four years, and just four months before, he'd put a ring on my finger and asked me to be his wife. But now? Things were rockier than ever. We were young and not sure what we wanted. And I didn't wear a ring with my cap and gown. But he was here. And I was finished with high school! Nothing was going to dampen my spirits on this night.

I and my 49 classmates, brothers and sisters actually, made our way to the 50-yard line. We took our seats and shamelessly wore our grins like earned badges of honor. A few kids pulled out the bottles of bubbles they had hidden in their gowns. Like kindergarteners they blew them over the heads of each other. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face if I tried. I didn't know graduation would be this fun.

Finally, it was my turn. I stood up from my seat, took my place at the podium, and prepared to give my valedictory address. A goal I'd set for myself in the sixth grade had come to fruition, and for the first and only time in my life, I had the full attention of my entire class, as well as the majority of the town. There was only one thing I knew to say:

"Jesus loves you. No matter what you've ever done or ever will do, He loves you."

I said more too, I'm sure, but I can't remember what it was. (Ten years, apparently, is quite a while.) I remember I spoke slowly so I could hear my words on top of the delayed echo in the microphone. And my stomach did backflips wondering if my Jesus-talk would be well-received.

I'll never forget mingling with friends and family on the field after the ceremony and hearing the football coach tell my dad. "That was perfect. She said exactly what needed to be said."

Again, I let out a sigh of relief. And I praised God for His faithfulness in my life.

Every night of my high school years, I had laid in bed and prayed that God would help me be a light in my school. Then I got up the next day and faced gossip and bullying and drama and depression and wondered whether a city on a hill really cannot be hidden. Because I felt bogged down, to say the least.

So it was humbling and joyous to think that I had finally taken full advantage of the platform God had given me. Whether I had always been a light in the daily darkness, I didn't know. But that night, I had approximately four minutes in the spotlight, and I did my best to reflect it back on Him.

Over the next year, all the frayed and ragged edges of my life got tied up into neat, pretty bows. I went off to college and made some of the best friends I've ever had. I grew closer to my parents and closed the chapter of high school angst we had shared. I received a message (on this new-fangled thing called Facebook) from a high school classmate who apologized for making my life a living... And I got re-engaged and married to the love of my life, with whom I'll soon celebrate nine years of marriage.

Over and over, God has proven Himself faithful. Looking back, I can see His hand in every trial, valley, and ounce of teenage drama. And though I was far from perfect, I'm thankful I served Him as faithfully as I knew how. And when it mattered most, on the night I'll remember forever, I was able to give Him a small bit of the glory He really deserves.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mommy Loves You So Much!

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.

Who loves you, little one? Who loves to play with you? Who loves to swing you up so high? Your Mommy does, that's who!

How does Mommy care for you? With soapy suds, my sweet! I love to wash your giggly face and clean your wiggly feet.

How does Mommy help you grow? By filling up your tummy with foods that make you big and strong and taste so very yummy.

What can Mommy share with you? Look all around and see- the starry skies and fireflies God made for you and me.

Why does Mommy teach you? Because it's so much fun! And when you learn to do new things, you light up like the sun.

When is Mommy patient? When things don't go as planned. I'm proud of how you like to serve and lend a helping hand.

How does Mommy comfort you? With hugs, my baby bear. Whenever you feel sad or down, you'll know how much I care.

What does Mommy love to do? Share happy times with you. You make me smile from cheek to cheek. I love to be with you!

What is Mommy thankful for? More and more every day. We have so many blessings- let's show our thanks and pray.

How much does Mommy love you? More than you can measure! My heart grows bigger every day- you're my greatest treasure!

The words on this post are from our newest Tommy Nelson book "Mommy Loves You So Much!" This is a super sweet book featuring adorable pictures of mommy animals and their furry babes. With Mother's Day coming up, this is the perfect book for you and your littles to read together. To enter to win, leave a comment telling me what you most love doing for your children. Giveaway ends Monday, May 4.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

The McDonald's Happy Meal: Making Generations Happy

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 still remember my firstborn's first Happy Meal. We were sitting at a table inside the Play Place. We ordered her a four-piece nugget. And I snapped a photo. Because Happy Meals are a hallmark of childhood worth celebrating.

I remember ordering many a Happy Meal from the back seat of my parents' car as a kid. And now, a generation later, my kids are doing the same.
I love how, in recent years, McDonald's has made their Happy Meals healthier too. The orders of fries are now smaller, and they offer healthy side options like apple slices, Go-Gurt, and Cutie oranges. We love all three. And I feel even better about ordering Happy Meals for my kids.
And maybe it's just me, but I feel like the Happy Meal has stepped up its game in the toy department. All the toys my kids have gotten lately are ones they actually want to keep and play with. (I can't get by with tossing these in the trash.)
And now, Happy Meal fun extends even beyond the smiling red box. Kids can access anytime or download the McPlay app (with the help of parents) for games, educational ebooks, previews of upcoming toys, and more. On the app, you can even scan your Happy Meal toy to unlock hidden games!
And did I mention that for every Happy Meal you buy, McDonald's donates 1 cent to the Ronald McDonald House? When you consider all the Happy Meals bought in our state in a year, that adds up to a lot of helping hands!
The memories, the toys, the healthy side options, the benefits to charity... there are so many reasons to smile when you buy a Happy Meal. Our family plans to keep creating smiles for years to come.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I Don't Judge You, Mom

We were surrounded by strangers, standing in line for a ride at Silver Dollar City when my three-year-old stamped her foot and yelled something to the effect of "No, I'm not going to do it!"

I don't even remember what the conversation was about. All I remember was the moment. It was the moment we all know too well. When that moment happens to someone else, other than us, we know exactly what should happen. That mom should yank up her kid and give her a good bootie-whoopin'! But sometimes, when the moment happens to us, we know better. We know our kid and we know what works for them.

Instead of beating her tail, which she does get often enough, I lowered my voice and offered her some choices. She doesn't always have to obey my commands. Sometimes she can have a say in the matter, because, to her, her opinion and her will are of upmost importance. It's hurtful to her to have them crushed.

The point is -- in that moment, I did not do what many moms think I should. I didn't even do what I (four years ago) would have thought I should. But I knew what would cause a bigger outburst and what would steer us down a calmer path while in a public place.

That's why, Dear Mom, I don't judge you.

Just like you don't know me and all the quirks of my children and situations, I don't know yours. So when you ignore your screaming child in the grocery store or give them the candy or feed them French fries for lunch, I don't judge you. Yes, it's possible you're just being a lazy parent. It's also possible you've had a day like I couldn't imagine. Maybe you're at the end of your rope, and maybe the way I see you behave is the exception, not the rule. Maybe you are a rockstar mom who's been at it all day, teaching and disciplining and praying and loving. But you need a little time so when y'all go to the park you scroll through your phone instead of pushing the swings. I don't know. But I don't judge you. Because I've been there, and I know what it's like. Parenting is hard, but parenting in public is even harder. When you feel like all eyes are on you, waiting to see how you respond, sometimes you freeze up or lose your confidence. Don't. Do what's best for you and your kids. And don't worry. I don't judge you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Salvation for Littles {Is My Child Saved?}

My chubby, two-year-old hands were outstretched, palms against the TV screen. I stood alone in my playroom. My head was bowed and my eyes were closed when my mama peeked around the corner to find me praying with "Mrs. Kathy," the host of the Kids Like You TV program I was watching. At the end of each show, she asked the kids if they wanted to pray to accept Jesus into their hearts, and apparently on that day, I had decided I did.

I have no memory of this event, but this is the story my mama tells.

I do remember being six and sitting in children's church watching Gospel Bill. Another invitation for salvation came at the end of this program, and since I had no memory of doing it before, I went forward to do so. My teacher took me and a couple others out to pray, and though I can't remember the words she uttered, I remember she squeezed my hand with fervency!

This was the age at which I got baptized in the lake. A lot of my cousins my age did as well. Our grandpa and uncle took turns dunking us in the chilly water. We all sang "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus." And somebody snapped pictures that we still cherish to this day.

Though I remember details about this event, I will be honest and say I have no idea what went on in my heart. That's no slam on its authenticity. But I was young and I have an honest-to-goodness bad memory.

In college, our student ministry encouraged us to hone and articulate our testimonies. They encouraged us to reflect and pray and pinpoint (with relative closeness) when we were saved so we could share it with others. After all, the Bible says that all were born sinners and that salvation means passing from death to life. (Romans 3:23 & 1 John 3:14) I fully believed that. The problem was that I had no idea when that happened for me. As far back as I could remember, I loved the Lord. I thought and reflected and prayed, but I never overturned any stone that told me any different. I couldn't remember a time when my heart was cold or indifferent to the things of the Lord or when sin didn't bother me. I'm sure there was a time. I just couldn't remember it.

What I know for sure is that I'm saved. I know I love Jesus and I can feel the Holy Spirit inside me. He's always been near and He's never let me go. I think it's great that some people have dramatic testimonies with drastic changes in their lives. That's just not me.

Because of my story, I've come to humbly think that maybe "praying a prayer" isn't so essential to salvation. Maybe the Holy Spirit entered me when I was two and my clammy hands were against the TV, or maybe He entered when I was six and a little too focused on my teacher's strong grip... or maybe He entered one of the other thousand times I believed and confessed He was Lord. Because that's all it takes, right? (Romans 10:9)

So I've thought a lot about how I would approach this subject with my own kids. Loving Jesus is a way of life for us. My kids are in church every time the doors are open. We talk about the Gospel all the time. And they're being raised pretty much the same way I was. At ages 5 and 3, they openly, boldly, frequently declare their love for the Lord. So is it fair or even reasonable for me to push them to say a prayer or perform a ritual just to make it "official"?

I really do not mean to sound haughty. For some people, I believe a prayer is the instrument God uses to transform. But then I talk to my kids and they confirm what I suspected -- that it's not necessary.

On Easter night, I was putting Eden to bed and she began talking about Jesus. She asked questions that were deep and meaningful -- things we've discussed a hundred times but she likes to hear the answers again because she's reflective and she likes to soak it all up.

"How could Jesus pay for my sins if I wasn't alive then?"

"Why didn't Jesus just fight the bad men off?"

"Why does God love us so much?"

She is so interested and perceptive, and I love talking to her about these things. She lights up when she talks about Jesus. I see in her eyes how much she loves him. After explaining again what the Holy Spirit does, I asked her just to see -- "Eden, do you feel like you have God's Holy Spirit inside you?"

"I'm not sure..." she said.

Then I felt silly for asking. Sometimes we adults don't even feel sure so how can I expect more from her?

We talked about baptism and how it's a way to show other people the change that's happened inside you.

"Isn't there another way you can show people?" she asked me. My girl has a fear of going under water.

"Well, you can show people by the way you live..." I told her.

"What if I'm in a crowd of people and I just start blowing kisses up to Heaven to Jesus? That will show people I love him, right?!"

Oh sweet girl. It sure will...

This five-year-old sweetheart shows me in every way she can how much she loves Jesus. Maybe in a few years, her understanding will grow and she'll tell me she's only previously had head knowledge and she wants to be saved. Or maybe she'll go to college and have no idea when it happened because she's loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. I honestly don't know. All I know is that we're taking this faith journey one step at a time, and all I can see is what's right here. And if Romans 10:9 means what it says, my girl is doing just fine.

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