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Planting or Pruning?

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I am a farm boy and I love planting things.  We live in the suburbs, but I have a house with a half-acre lot.  We have a decent sized garden, and I have planted blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, blackberry bushes, and pear trees.  I have also planted dozens of decorative trees, bushes, plants, and flowers.  I love planting things!

I am getting ready to attend a Ransomed Heart event called “Become Good Soil.”  We received a few assignments to complete before we came, and one of them was to plant a tree.  So naturally I was stoked!  Permission, no, the requirement that I plant a tree!  “Morgan told me I have to buy a tree and plant it,” I told my wife.  As you know, God often uses the Holy Spirit in your spouse to break through to you.  “Where?” she asked.  I won’t go through the whole discussion, but after that conversation I opened myself up to God’s leading and realized that I didn’t need to plant a tree – I needed to cut one down.  We have a big yard so I could have easily planted a tree, but any additional trees I would plant would be in the way of our baseball/football/soccer games. Continue reading

Parenting and Changing

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Elephant

Parenting is a very difficult job that is always stretching me and demanding new levels of efficiency, concentration, relational wizardry, and self-control.  Because of this, I am often needing to improve and to change.  If you have read any of our posts you have probably noticed that they speak of our desires to keep growing and learning and changing.  We believe strongly that we are on a journey and not finished yet.  And that requires change.

But ‘making changes’ is not only focused on me – it also is a big part of my role as a parent.  Think of it – each child (4 for us) has about 18 years for us to lead them through the process of learning…everything!  Of course they will continue to learn after they leave our nest, but the sheer magnitude of helping my 4 kids prepare to enter the world as fully-functional adults can sometimes be pretty overwhelming.  How do I get them to change into the people that God wants them to be?  We want them to be leaders.  We want them to change the world.  But today, I’d be happy if I could get the middle two to stop annoying each other and our youngest to start going potty in the toilet!  The amount of maturing and changing that takes place in those 18 years is mind-boggling.

To summarize, I daily feel the need to change myself and to teach my kids how to change. Continue reading

Pruning

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PruningTitle

Jesus is a man of metaphors, analogies, and stories.  One of my favorites is His last:  The Vine, the Branches, and the Fruit.

To truly understand this, you have to understand what a vine in a vineyard looks like.  We’ll break it down into 3 parts:

  1. The Vine:  This may seem obvious, but it is the part of the grapevine that is rooted to the ground.  What was surprising to me is that it is more like a tree trunk, because it is thick and is trained to go straight up the fence.  You could call it The Stem.  This is God.
  2. The Branches:  The vine is very thick, and the branches come off of the vine at various points.  There is a very clear delineation of which is the stem and which are the branches.  This is us.
  3. The Fruit:  This is the actual point of the whole operation – vineyards were not grown for their beauty.  This is what we are here to do!

vine

 

There is so much beauty and meaning in this metaphor…one that God used throughout history to describe His relationship with His people.  But for today’s post I want to focus on just one small part of the analogy:  Pruning

John 15:2 (NLT)

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. Continue reading

Slowing Down at Christmas

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ChristmasTree

Slowing down?  At Christmas?  Sounds impossible, right?   Like yet another Christmas fairy tale?

We love Christmas.  A lot.  We love doing fun things and living out our various traditions.  But as you know, Thanksgiving to New Year’s can be an incredibly busy and hectic time.  There are a thousand other things that happen this time of year – programs, recitals, and parties, to name a few.  Oh, and we have to buy gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and teachers.  And send Christmas letters.  And, and, and…you get the point.  (Sorry if I induced some anxiety there.)

The point is that we all know it is a busy time, and our family will at times make it even busier with our many fun and important Christmas traditions.  So we need balance.  Here are a few ideas and compromises we have made to take the hectic out of the holidays: Continue reading

How Would You Answer These 5 Time Evaluation Questions?

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Think about how you spend your “extra time.” What do you do? Who do you do it with? Can you live without it?

It seems like in today’s world that we have become a me-focused, justifying, entitlement society.

Have you ever thought any of these thoughts?

  1. “I’m the mom.”
  2. “I do so much around here.”
  3. “I deserve it.”

Or

  1. “I’m the dad.”
  2. “I work hard.”
  3. “I deserve it.”

I know I have thought these thoughts, but when you really break it down, I am actually saying:

  1. “It is all about me.”
  2. “Here are my reasons and justifications on why I am more important.”
  3. “I am entitled to this and you will not stop me.” Continue reading

Girls’ Devotionals

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As you have probably have gathered over the course of this last year, I am not a morning person. I try to stay in bed until the last possible moment. Since the snooze and I are best friends, I hardly ever allow enough time in the morning to do my quiet time before the day is off and running. This is something I hope to not pass on to my kids.

This school year the girls decided they wanted a schedule for what they are to do in the morning before school. I have no idea where they would come up with such an idea! 😉 In the schedule, we allowed for time for them to do their own devotional. They have loved that time, and I am excited that they are starting to form a great habit at such a young age. I pray they continue to enjoy this time with the Lord for the rest of their years.

Here are the girl’s current devotionals:

Rebekah (age 6) is going through Sheila Walsh’s “Shine Your Light Devotional.”

Hannah (age 8) is going through Elizabeth George’s “A Girl After God’s Own Heart: A tween Adventure with Jesus.”

I have really liked both of these and I feel they are perfect for where the girls are at. They can understand what they are reading and answer the questions on their own.

I am going through Joyce Meyer’s “The Confident Mom” It is excellent!!!! It isn’t technically a devotional but I am making it into one. It was so good that I could not put it down the first time I read it. I wished she would have written it earlier in my career as a mom, but I will gladly take her insight now. The other thing I love about this book, is that it is chock full of scriptures. There is no better thing to do during this season of life than to put the Word into your heart!

I would love to hear what you are reading as a devotional? Or if you do not like devos what book of the Bible are in studying? What devotionals have you liked for your kids? I know we will need another one for both the girls towards the middle of the school year. I am completely clueless on what is good for a boy, so moms of boys, what did your sons enjoy and learn from?

Verb Tense

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VerbTense

Words are important.  We use them to shape our future and to direct our thoughts and our actions.  We all probably know that.  But did you know that your verb tense makes a difference too?  I will always remember the lesson that the ICU attending physician gave us.  Once in a while a new resident doctor (in training) would go through a patient’s labs and say, “His potassium is low, so we are going to give him some IV potassium.”  The attending physician who was in charge would say, “You know what to do.  Why isn’t this already done? When you report to me I want the IV to be going already.”  The residents only made that mistake once!

The wiser, older doctor wanted the resident physician to use a verb that was past tense.  “His potassium is low, so we gave him 40mEq of potassium this morning.”  Ah, much better.

Here are three verb tenses for you to compare, exemplifying the way that your verb tense can make or break your effectiveness at work and in your relationships.   Continue reading

Your 5 Limited Resources With Unlimited Potential, Part 1

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Hourglass

I don’t know if you have ever thought of it this way or not, but you have 5 very valuable and very limited resources at your disposal.  I’m not talking about the kind of natural resources you might be thinking of, like coal or gold or cadmium – the resources I’m talking about today are even more important than those.  Each person on earth is given access to these 5 ‘natural resources,’ and how you handle them will shape literally everything about your life.

I first started thinking about this concept because of Jason Womack.  Jason Womack is a public speaker, author, executive coach, and ball of energy.  I attended one of his seminars a couple years ago and have continued to learn from him ever since.  He introduced me to the idea of purposefully managing my Energy, Time, and Focus.  In his book, Your Best Just Got Better, Jason Womack lists “Tools” as the fourth limited resource, and stresses the importance of managing your relationships.  With that background, here is my list of your 5 limited resources:

Time, Focus, Energy, Money, and Relationships   Continue reading

Time Investment: Elizabeth Saunders

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Elizabeth

Today I have the pleasure to introduce you to Elizabeth Saunders – time management and effectiveness guru. We went to college together and stayed Facebook friends through the years, and so I was happy for her when she announced that she had written a book about time management. “Cool,” I thought, “Someone I know has written a book…and actually gotten it published!” I would have been satisfied if it was a typical time management book – a quick read that compiles a dozen helpful hints that let you save a few minutes a day. Let me tell you, friends, this is not your typical time management book! Instead, it is an incredible book that fundamentally changes the way that you think about time, effectiveness, and success itself. I won’t try to summarize the book here. For one thing, you need to read it. For another, she has already summed it in up a Teacher’s Guide and Book Club Guide.  These give you a pretty good idea of the basic outline. Continue reading

C13 Mom: Is not Jealous

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C13MomNotJealous

Good Morning C13 Moms,

Last week we finished the two positive expressions of love: patience and kindness. Today we start the next group of characteristics. In this group, God teaches us 8 different verbs that tell us what love is not like or does not do. The first 5 verbs explain the turmoil that goes on inside our minds. The last 3 talk about how we respond to others.

Today the topic is jealousy. In Proverbs 27:4 it says Anger is cruel, and wrath is like a flood, but jealousy is even more dangerous. Jealousy can cloud our thinking and force us to focus on the wrong things. It causes us to become fixated on one specific thing and unable to see or do anything else. Continue reading