This Beautiful Inheritance

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.

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.)
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