Sundays and New Beginnings

This entry is a little dated.  I originally wrote it on the first Sunday that we had animals on the farm, but it is just as relevant now.

DD seemed to have a tummy bug over the last few days so she couldn’t go to Sunday school.  She and I stayed home while DH and DS went to church.  Since DD is not even 3 and always loves to be doing something, we only had a short time of worship together – we read a Bible story, her choice, Noah’s ark, and talked about how wonderful it was that God gave the world a new beginning with the ark and an even better one with our redemption through Jesus.  Then we prayed and thanked God for those new beginnings and for our new beginning here on the farm.  We then spent some time singing praise songs together while she played.

Then I busied myself with things around the house.  It hit me as I thought about everything that always needs to get done that now more than ever, I need to remember to rest.  God commanded the Israelites to “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8)  Jesus reminded the Pharisees “The Sabbath was created for man…” (Mark 2:27) (yes I know that I am taking that a little out of context but just go with me for a moment) 🙂

God created us and knows that in our crazy, fallen, need for control lives, we over do, over commit, and STRESS about everything that WE have put on our plates.  He created and commanded a day of rest so we could recharge.  So our families could recharge and reconnect.  I don’t think that God needed to rest on the 7th day of creation.  I think He, in His infinite wisdom, was modeling what He wanted us to do.

God does everything and creates everything for His glory.  We can use our days and times of rest, no matter how long or short they may be, to glorify Him.  We need to slow down and thank Him for providing an inborn need for rest and be willing to make it a priority.

I need to remember this and show my kids that rest is important.  Spending time just being and not always doing is more than important, it is essential.  Without it, we get crabby and tunnel-visioned, and make ourselves sick.  We alienate ourselves because we are so tired that we are poor company.

There is always work to do on a farm and in a family.  I need to be willing to stop and let some of it go until tomorrow.  Those dishes and dirty clothes will be fine until tomorrow.  Those baskets of clean shirts can go unfolded for 1 more day.  That grass won’t grow too much overnight.  We only have so much time to cherish the ones we love.  Carve out time for them.  Join me in making a fresh start and taking time to rest.

Grocery Shopping with Kids

Grocery Shopping with Kids

Ok, I know a lot of you out there will think that I am probably crazy after reading the next sentence.  I really like going grocery shopping with my kids.  I know, I know.  You are all thinking that I have lost my mind or been out working in the sun too long today.  I really do enjoy it (most of the time). 🙂

I try to set up stopping points around the store where the kids can do something fun.  We usually stop in the toys and look at a few things.  Both kids are earning an allowance every week now, so they usually have enough for at least a $1 car.  One store in particular is great because they have a fish tank at the back of the store and a lobster tank near the produce department and a penny pony ride at the front.  We do some shopping.  Stop and look at the toys.  Do some more shopping.  Stop and say “hi” to the fishies.  Do some more shopping.  Go say “hi” to the lobsters.  If they are good during the whole trip, including check out, then they get a couple penny rides on the pony.

Things don’t always go smoothly (kids are kids) but usually things go fairly well.  They like to be part of things.  DS helps put cartons of milk in the bottom of the cart.  DD helps me count how many boxes or cans or cartons go in the basket.  They both love to scan the groceries at check out.  It took less than a minute to teach them what a bar code looks like, and now they scan everything that it’s breakable or damageable (we’re still working on being gentle with stuff).

They also feel like they have some control because they are part of some of the decisions.  Simple questions teach them to make decisions.  What type of macaroni and cheese should we get this time?  We only are going to buy 2 boxes of cereal today, what kinds should we get?  What color peppers would you like to eat this week?  It also teaches them about consequences.  When they complain about having to eat the same type of macaroni and cheese several times in a row, I simply tell them that that was the only kind that they wanted to buy last time.

It also teaches them about budgeting and money management and setting purchasing priorities.  They are learning that just because we want something or we are out of a favorite cereal, doesn’t mean we always buy it.  If it’s not on sale or we don’t have a coupon, we usually don’t bring it home.  They also seem to be learning that groceries don’t magically end up at home.

Beyond teaching them, it really can be fun.  We have “friends” who always work on particular days or in particular departments and we try to go find them to say hello (which also teaches them about outreach and taking time for others).  We race down an aisle then stop suddenly.  We look for numbers and letters.  We sing songs and dance as we walk around.  We see if we can find things that make us think of nursery rhymes or songs.   We just get goofy and laugh.  They learn (and I am reminded) that even things that have to get done in life don’t have to be boring.  We get a few hours of quality time while I get a necessary chore done.  They learn life skills without even knowing it.  It’s a win all around!


DS had a friend over a few days ago.  That afternoon, the three kids and I went down to the big metal barn to fix the ponies’ dinner.  The two boys discovered the shavings pile and started playing king of the mountain.  My first (but momentary) reaction was to panic over what DS’s friend’s mom would think about her son being covered (I mean head to toe covered) with shavings.  Then I looked at the faces of the two boys and couldn’t help but snap some pictures and send them to her.

All this got me thinking about how afraid I am to be the real me.  I have been so guarded for so long that I am scared to be authentically me.

I wasn’t always this way.  I still remember a time when I was in 4th or 5th grade.  My mom loved to buy me tube socks, and I loved to wear them. 🙂 I proudly wore them pulled all the way up to my knees.  I wore them until they had holes everywhere.  I had a classmate look at me one day and tell me that my holey socks were ugly and disrespectful.  I proudly her that those were the socks that I had and that I didn’t care whether they had holes or not.

I have no idea why this encounter is so ingrained in my mind but it is.

Okay, back to now.  I am sure that I am not the only one who struggles with this.  It is a big part of one of my favorite the movies Mom’s Night Out.  (By the way, if you haven’t seen that movie, you really need to.  It is awesome!)  God loves us.  He knows how messy and frazzled and control-freakish and disorganized we can be, but He still wants us to come to Him as we are.

Repeatedly, in the Bible, we read about God using broken and messed up people, as they are.  Look at David.  Look at Paul.  Look at Naomi and Ruth.  Look at Jacob.  Look at Rahab.  I could go on and on.

If God can use them, why can’t He use us?

When we are always trying to show everyone our best side, no one gets to see the real us.  When we only talk/post/text/tweet/blog about our baking or house or yard or kids on the best day, we miss out on letting God use us to reach everyone who needs to see that they are not alone.  In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis said that “Friendship…is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’”  We have to be willing to be our true selves to let other people in.

Beyond showing our true selves, though, we also need to let our God-given gifts shine.  If you can cook, feed those who are hungry (be it a neighbor or a soup kitchen or church function full of people).  If you can bake, make something to cheer up your kid on a bad day or a friend who needs a pick me up.  If you can sing, join a choir.  If you love babies, volunteer in the nursery or find an outreach that cares for young children while their parents are working or trying to find jobs or give a new mom a break so she can take a nap.  If you love to garden, find someone who needs help in your neighborhood or church.  If you are a good listener, be an ear to someone who needs to talk.  If you like kids, offer to watch someone else’s for a few hours while they take a break, go to the doctor, or run errands.  If you can sew or knit, make blankets or clothes and give them to shelters or new mom’s.  Whatever it is, however God has gifted you, use it.  Don’t be stopped by the thought that you are not good enough or that there is someone out there who is better than you.  So what if there is!  God gives us gifts for us to bring glory to Him not to win a comparison contest.

I love to story in Luke about the widow who gives her last two mites.  (See Luke 21)  No matter how small and imperfect we feel like our abilities are, God will use them.  Just look at what he did with 5 loaves and 2 small fish.

Let’s all try to be more authentic – both in the good and the bad.  Our bad side is hardly ever as ugly as we think it is, and we are surely not alone in our flaws.  Our gifts used for Him can accomplish so much to further His kingdom.  If we all just let a little more of ourselves see the sunshine, imagine how much lighter we would feel.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun. 😉 Imagine the difference we could make.