What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match?

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

Standing in front of a mirror in June, getting ready, I found myself displeased with how my clothes fit. I sighed, wishing I had bought something new to wear for family photos.

The image I saw mirrored my own self image, not just my outward appearance:

  • A wife who still forgets her husband sees her as beautiful, despite his words and compliments
  • A tired mother, wishing she could have slept later than the baby who woke at 430 am
  • A mother of two whose body is different than it used to be
  • A woman who doesn’t spend time to get ready or to reflect on how she sees herself most days

On a normal day, I usually manage to put on mascara, face lotion containing sunscreen, and a little powder before a child needs something. On that particular morning in June, my husband was graciously taking care of the kids so I could spend a little more time getting ready.

But in this case, those added moments staring in the mirror weren’t doing me any favors. I was certainly NOT feeling pretty, no matter how many times I changed my clothes or makeup.

Instead, I was doing something very unproductive; sinking into the pit of self-loathing.  I was annoyed with myself and my lack of exercise, healthy eating, and the realization that my body is simply DIFFERENT than it used to be.

I’m sad to admit that this problem didn’t start that day – it was bigger. Let me tell you how I got to this point. This moment was several weeks in the making.

During the weeks before our trip, I searched my closet and several stores for the perfect outfit. I was supposed to wear something navy, white, and/or khaki. Sounds simple, right? I had 3 tops, and own 2 pairs of white pants and several pairs of khakis.

These clothes are all in ‘new’ condition, but were all purchased before our second child (some before our first). I like them, but frankly, I felt like they didn’t like me! They no longer FIT as they did when they were purchased – a common problem these days and the reason why I wear the same few outfits over and over despite having a full closet.

After finding new clothes in the store also didn’t fit as I desired, I decided it was a problem with me, and resorted to wearing Spanx under my pants. You know, to just make something I had ‘WORK’.

Yep.

So as I stared into the mirror in June, I was squeezed into spanx (which are NOT physically comfortable), in order to ‘FEEL’ comfortable in my BRAIN, in a navy shirt and khaki pants.

I thought this strategy would give me peace of mind so I could relax during photos.

Right.

Relax in Spanx. Ha.

I could hardly breathe. But at least I wasn’t having to focus so hard on sucking in my stomach?

That was my frame of mind as I coated my hair with hairspray to make it ‘stay down’ and put on more makeup than usual, in a weak attempt to cover my perceived tired eyes with mascara and concealer. As I applied mascara, my eyes caught words written at the top of the mirror in black marker.

“What do you see? What does God see? Do they match?”

I immediately felt the pang of conviction and mixed emotions. First, remorse that I had yet again forgotten this truth. And, at that same moment, I was overjoyed by the remembrance that God sees me as useful, beautiful, and of eternal value.

I can’t take credit for those words. You see, I was getting ready in my niece’s childhood bedroom. We were staying at her parent’s home as we gathered to celebrate her wedding day. She is an amazing woman, niece and friend. She wrote these WISE words long ago.

I stood there, pondering the words as my son and daughter tumbled into the room a few moments later as my husband tried to rally them for a bath and to get ready.

They both had wicked bed head and mismatched pajamas.

Beautifully imperfect.

Still struggling with mixed emotions, I saw the joyful sparkle in their eyes, high energy movements, and simplicity of my emotions as I watched them.

If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them?

He made us. Every detail. With loving care we can’t even imagine.

If you’ve given birth, you know that a tiny baby can only be made by a loving creator. They are too perfect. Tiny toes, fingers and noses. These children are EXACTLY as God made them, and their days and birth were all ordained beforehand by Him.

All these thoughts remained with me as I finished getting ready.

I put on a necklace and forgot to care what I looked like to the world and was just glad the necklace was a great distraction for my daughter to play with.

Because of truthful words on that mirror, I was just me. As I was that day; wife, mother, woman, and child of God.

We had fun taking pictures. There was much laughter, play and joy. My daughter had one outburst of tears, but that is expected from a 1-year-old. Everyone was relaxed and after taking some posed pictures, the entire family went down to the beach to wander and let the kids play.

Had I not seen those words, I am not sure I would have relaxed or stopped worrying about how I looked.

I would have missed out on having fun while preoccupied with my own perceived inadequacy.

Instead, I spent the day with a refreshed view of how God sees me, reinforced by how I see my own children.

Here’s one photo from the day that thankfully doesn’t look like I am slathered in makeup and fully doused in hairspray.

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

Not long after returning home, I came across this passage, and was reminded of that moment.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Matthew 6:25-34 (RSV, emphasis added)

The next time you struggle with your body, clothes, hair, or skin, remember to check if your self-image reflects that of your maker.  

What do you see?

What does God see?

Do they match? 

When we know our true identity is defined through God’s eyes, self-critical thoughts are seen as what they are.

Lies.

What Do You See? What Does God See? Do They Match? | thisgratefulmama.com

If you don’t know who God says you are, will you commit today to make time to find out?

This question will be written on our daughters’ mirrors when they are old enough to have one in their rooms.

And since this experience clearly demonstrates my own struggle with identity, it needs to be on mine as well.

 

This post was shared on the Salt & Light Linkup (#16). Head on over to see a wealth of  encouraging posts by a great set of bloggers. You’ll be so glad you did!

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DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

I recently stumbled across this picture of coffee beans that appeared to be painted.  I searched further, hoping for DIY instructions or at least where to buy some but was disappointed – it was just a photo with filters applied so the beans appeared blue.

Inspired by the photo, I was determined to recreate the look with paint and coffee beans. Initially, I thought spray paint would be best, but could not find metallic spray paint in the color I wanted. Instead I bought some metallic craft paint and decided to experiment.

DIY Metallic Coffee Beans are inexpensive, can be used to make a variety of accents, centerpieces, gifts and more. Even though I love the way they look, the best quality is they smell like coffee! Comforting, warm and homey.

Here are 4 good reasons to make your own: 4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans.

Happy Painting!

DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

Materials:

  • 10 oz Whole Bean Coffee – $3 (bought with a coupon, cheapest brand)
  • Metallic Craft Paint in color of choice (I used Folk Art Metallic Acrylic Paint in Aquamarine and Ice Blue) – $1.99 each
  • Foam tipped paint brush – $1
  • Plastic bowl, or disposable aluminum foil tray
  • Paper cup
  • Baking sheet lined with aluminum foil

Steps Used:

Preparation

Start with 10 oz whole coffee beans

Start with 10 oz whole coffee beans

Metallic Craft Paint

Metallic Craft Paint

Pour coffee beans into a large bowl or tray

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil

Transfer paint to a paper cup

IF mixing paint colors together, stir to mix using a foam paint brush

I couldn’t find the color I thought I wanted, so I mixed 2 parts Iced Blue craft paint in 1 part Aquamarine craft paint. In the end, the mixed color was washed out so I ended up adding Aquamarine paint, without mixing to brighten the beans up.

Paint the Beans

Coat the foam brush with paint

Coat the foam brush with paint

Stir the beans with the brush

Stir the beans with the brush coated in paint

Add more paint and continue to coat the beans by stirring

Re-coat the brush, and continue to stir the beans

Stop when coated as desired

Stop painting when coffee beans are the desired color

Coat the bottom half of the foam brush with paint so it is coated, but not dripping

Transfer the brush to the bowl of beans and use the brush to ‘stir’ the beans

(The more you stir, the thinner the coating on the beans)

When it appears no more paint is being transferred, re-coat the brush, and stir again.

Repeat steps until the beans are coated with paint as desired

I coated with the mixed color paint first, but it wasn’t bright enough. I then switched to the aquamarine paint and re-coated the brush more often, stirring less for a thicker coating

Allow to Dry Fully

Transfer to a foil coated baking sheet

Transfer to a foil coated baking sheet

When the beans have the desired amount of color, transfer to the baking sheet and allow to fully dry

(Mix them up every now and again to expose them to air and speed-up the drying process)

Mine seemed to be dry quickly, but I allowed them to sit overnight on the tray just to be sure

Use them

Once they are dry, they are ready to use! Feel free to share how you use yours in the comments.

Enjoy!

This post was shared on the Something To Talk About and Do Tell Tuesday Linkup Parties:

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10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home

In recent years, we have been blessed to have out-of-town guests. We love the chance to catch up, show them around the city, or to host celebrations. Our family has also been guests of many thoughtful and gracious hosts.

Whether your guests are family or friends, here are 10 simple ways you can help them feel ‘at home’ in your home during their visit.

10 Simple Tips to Help Out-of-Town Guests Feel ‘At Home’ in Your Home

1. Provide bulky items

If your guests have small children or babies, they may require use of bulky items (Pack N Play, car seat, or stroller). If you have an extra or know someone you can borrow extras from, offer! You guests’ sanity and backs will thank you! Be sure to inquire what items they will need ahead of time so everyone knows what IS and IS NOT available. If borrowing, do your best to have everything washed, and setup before they arrive.

Also consider asking if you can swing by the store to pick up bulky items like diapers. On our last trip out-of-town, our hosts picked up diapers and wipes and a few ‘baby’ necessities. We packed just enough diapers and wipes to get us there, saving space in suitcases.

2. Give a tour

One of the best ways to help your guests feel at home right away is to give a quick home tour. Include the entire house, and where your guests will be staying. It is a good idea to show where you’ve hidden extra towels and linens and any quirky things they need to know about your guest bathroom. My 3-year-old son LOVES to give our home tour and proudly parades everyone through the house. Guests think it is cute, and it lets them know where things are so they can start settling in.

3. Provide a ‘extras’ basket

Seems like every time I travel, I forget a simple necessity. We keep a basket of ‘extras’ for guests in the guest bathroom closet. We only take it out when guests are here, and replenish it with fresh stuff after they leave so it is ready to go for next time with minimal effort.

Create a guest ‘extras’ basket:

  • Q-tips
  • Mouthwash and small disposable plastic cups
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss
  • A NEW loufa
  • Body wash (actually not in the basket: include a full size bottle in the shower)
  • Travel size shampoo and conditioner
  • Body lotion
  • 2 travel size deodorants (one men’s, one women’s)
  • Travel first aid kit
  • Chapstick
  • Travel tissues
  • Travel size lint roller
  • Disposable razor
  • Nail file

4. Buy grab-and-go snacks and containers

Whether your guests are visiting family and friends, working, or exploring the area, it is a good idea to have some foods and beverages that can be eaten on-the-go. I always set out disposable coffee cups and lids, and let guests know what ‘quick’ foods are in the house.

Grab-and-go ideas:

  • granola bars
  • bananas or washed fresh fruit
  • bagels or cinnamon toast
  • cheese sticks
  • lunch meat
  • cut up veggies and dip
  • sparkling water or soda
  • bottled water
  • disposable coffee cups and lids

5. Accommodate special diets

Do your guests have any food allergies or do they have a special diet need? It is a good idea to ask ahead of time so you can be prepared. Consider things like allergies, lactose intolerance, diabetes or Celiac. For guests with little ones, have some baby and toddler ‘friendly’ food on hand; asking if you can pick up a few of their children’s favorite items can help little ones adjust to new surroundings.

As a general rule when making food for someone with food allergies, save the packaging or set it aside for easy access so they can read the label themselves. Even if you are great at reading food labels, an extra set of eyes is never a bad idea.

6. Give them their own space – and stay out of it

If your house is ‘full’, this can be tricky. BUT, if you plan ahead, it can be done! If you have a guest room, set everything up ahead of time and move items you need to use during the week to other locations. For example, our guest room closet houses our vacuum cleaner and ironing board. I know I may need them while guests are here so I move the ironing board to the laundry room and the vacuum to the entryway closet.

If your guests are staying in one of your children’s rooms, grab a few outfits and their favorite toys so they aren’t likely to wander into the room, or want something in there while your guests are resting. IF you HAVE to go in, try to make it as little as possible.

Do your best to make your the room comfortable, even if it is not a dedicated guest room. Remove as much clutter as you can so they have room to just BE. If using your child’s room as a guest room, consider buying a few nice guest pillows and ‘adult’ bedding during ‘back-to-school’ sales or Home Goods or TJ Max. Use a large plastic storage bin to store loose items and some favorite toys; it makes room for guests, and gives your child access to some of their favorite things they may want to go into the room to get.

Additional guest room items include:

  • alarm clock
  • extra blankets or pillows
  • hangers
  • an extra universal charger for a phone or computer, if you have it
  • portable fan (We live in a new housing development and workers begin clunking around at 7 am. A good fan can create some much-needed white noise and drown out sounds of kids and allow guests to cool off if they get warm during the night)
  • pass code for wireless internet
  • mirror (full length is a bonus!)
  • spare key or garage code
  • large or bulky items, if needed (Pack N Play, etc.)

7. Offer use of appliances

When guests stay, I make it clear that the washer, dryer, iron, hair dryer and anything else appliance-related is available to use. No one wants to wear dirty or wrinkly clothes, or have wet hair!

8. Work around their schedule

Most travelers have an agenda to accomplish during their visit. They may have special errands, sight-seeing, or appointments for work or with friends. They have made a special effort (and spent money) to come and stay with you, so whenever possible, adjust your schedule to theirs.

  • Meals: If they aren’t sure how their schedule will work out ahead of time, pick up a few easy meals that can be made quickly and don’t require a set timeline. I usually grab some lunch meat, chips, fruit and vegetables for lunches, and grab buns for hot dogs, burgers, frozen chicken, and a few easy sides. This way, regardless of their schedule, we have food on hand, or can have freedom to choose to pick up food or eat out.
  • Your schedule: If YOU have set appointments, work, kids who nap and/or go to bed early, or other scheduled activities, let your guests know your schedule. Your guests can then CHOOSE to make adjustments, if needed. If you stay home like me, let them know if you can offer use of your car or be available to pick them up or drop them off somewhere. A spare key or the garage code will allow them to come and go as needed.
  • Sleep: Do your best to reduce noise during the evening and early morning when your guests are sleeping. Regardless of the purpose of your travel, it is nice to think of any trip as VACATION from home. One perk of vacation is sleeping until YOU are ready to get up. I listen in the morning for my kids so I can quickly bring them downstairs so they don’t wake our guests.
  • Events: Don’t schedule anything for your guests. If planning a large event while they are visiting, consult them on the timing of that event. It is not your job to pack their schedule or to pressure them to do what YOU want to do. Too much in too little time can leave everyone exhausted and reduce the amount of time available to have some quality conversations and actually enjoy their visit.
  • Expectations: Don’t expect anything from them. Be glad they are here, and be grateful for WHATEVER amount of time (large or small) you have with them.

9. Provide distractions for little ones

If your guests are traveling with kids, a small basket of toys in their room, or in the living area where everyone is visiting can help the parents relax and the child get in some play time. Even better, go for quality time with the kiddos and play with them so the parents can get ready in peace, take a nap, or visit with other adults!

10. Enjoy your time with them

Remember that being a good host isn’t all about food, cleaning, or organizing! While it is great to have a clean house and do nice meals and events, the best thing to do with your guests is RELAX. Enjoy them.

Do what it takes to keep your house from being FILTHY, but feel free to allow a few dust bunnies or crumbs to stay on the floor. Accept help when your company wants to hang in the kitchen with you and help you load the dishwasher. Your friends and family did not come all this way to watch you cook and clean. They came here to spend quality time with you and your family. Plus, if your house is TOO clean, they won’t feel like they can LIVE in it.

No matter how long or short the visit, be grateful for what time you DO have with your guests. Don’t preoccupy your thoughts with when they are leaving or coming back again so you can be present in the moment.

 

What other tips do you have for hosting guests?

10 tips for making out of town guests feel at home in your home

4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

Last week I made some Metallic Painted Coffee Beans; easy to make, inexpensive, and smell lovely.

I was inspired when I stumbled across this picture of coffee beans that appeared to be painted. I clicked on the photo in hope of some DIY instructions, but instead found the beans only appeared blue due to some fancy photo editing. I was disappointed, since I had already thought of a bunch of ways I could use them in my home.

I decided to try a little experiment to make my own.

I will soon post a little tutorial on how to make your own metallic painted coffee beans, but first I thought I’d give you a few reasons to want them!

4 Ways to Use DIY Metallic Painted Coffee Beans

 

1. Vase Filler

Use metallic painted coffee beans as vase filler in a clear glass container.

These two examples show the painted beans in a mason jar with some other DIY accents (Crackle Painted Glass Bottle, Spray Painted Wine Bottle and Votive), and as a stand-alone accent in a round glass vase.

Use beans to fill a Mason Jar and group with other glass accents

Use metallic painted coffee beans to fill a Mason Jar. Group with other DIY accent pieces

Use as vase filler

Use metallic painted coffee beans as vase filler

 

2. Create a Centerpiece

Use the painted coffee beans to create a centerpiece and display on your dining table or kitchen island. Three examples are shown below.

  • Place a large candle in a small metal bucket or other container and surround with metallic coffee beans
  • Spread metallic coffee beans on a platter and place a handful of votive candles throughout
  • Fill different glass containers with metallic coffee beans and place in a line on a dining table (Depending on the occasion, you could create different colored sets of beans – red, white and blue for 4th of July OR green, red and silver or gold for Christmas).
Bucket with candle

Place a large candle in a metal bucket and surround with metallic painted coffee beans. Use as a centerpiece or accent.

Spread metallic painted coffee beans on a platter and place votive candles throughout to create an easy centerpiece for a dining table or center island

Spread metallic painted coffee beans on a platter and place votive candles throughout to create an easy centerpiece for a dining table or center island

Fill various sized glass containers with metallic coffee beans and create a long, skinny centerpiece

Fill various sized glass containers with metallic coffee beans and create a long, skinny centerpiece

 

3. Give a Gift

Wrap metallic coffee beans in a clear cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon, and bring as an inexpensive, homemade housewarming or hostess gift. Maybe I’ll make these to give hosts this year during Christmas…

Wrap metallic coffee beans in cellophane and give as a gift

Wrap metallic coffee beans in cellophane and give as a gift

 

4. Dress-Up a Fake Plant

I have some fake plants in my house. That fake ‘grass’ or dirt in them is never convincing and gets dusty and weird. One way to change that is to just cover it up with something decorative like these metallic painted coffee beans.  Would be cool in an even larger pot!

Dress up a fake plant with metallic coffee beans in the pot

Dress up a fake plant with metallic coffee beans in the pot

 

Other ideas

There are many amazing decorative ideas for plain coffee beans on the internet. Here are a few of my favorites. Any of these could use either plain coffee beans, metallic painted coffee beans, or a mixture of the two.

 

What would you do with them?

Feel free to post to your favorite link of how to use them, or a quick comment.

 

Thoughts on Christian Persecution in Iraq – Please Pray for the Persecuted

I know I just posted this morning, but these thoughts have been bouncing around my head all day and I need to get them out. I know this is a heavy topic, and not one I usually feel compelled to write about, but it is also a relevant and important one. I don’t know why, but I know I am supposed to write this today.

I spent most of this morning at a loss for words. Broken as I read the news stories coming out of Iraq. Struggling to fathom that the words I read are true and not part of a terrible work of fiction or from a history book.

I know evil is rampant, but the news coming from Iraq magnify evil in horrific fashion.

Stories of Christians, forced to flee with nothing or convert, and of men and women slaughtered before their families, neighbors and friends. Hateful. Ignorant. Unacceptable.

Photos of the dead. Graphic. True.

Stories of children. Beheaded. Heads stuck on poles in a public park. I can’t believe those words can even be written or that those things have happened. Terrifying. Barbaric. Violent. Medieval. Inhuman. Evil.

How can these things be happening? On what planet is any of this OK? How can another human being EVER even think of doing these things let alone DO them?

To ANYONE?

To children?

Defenseless. Caught up in a spiritual and physical battle they likely do not understand.

I think it is the stories of the children that grip me so tightly. That make me look at mine and make it hard to breathe as I realize how blessed we are to be HERE and not THERE. It makes me want to scoop my kids into my arms and never let go. Ever.

But in these stories, their parents’ arms provide no protection.

My mind cannot seem to find rest. My soul HURTS over this, and cries out. As a believer, news like this requires a response of prayer.

Lacking words to pray, I find myself boldly praying, over and over, “Come, Lord Jesus”.  This world is so dark, so evil, and so in need of Jesus. How long will evil rule on this earth? How many times will people hate others based on physical traits, beliefs, and well, anything that makes another person different from the next? How does hate grow so deep in a person that they think they are justified in taking the life of another? And how do GROUPS of people come alongside and join in these actions?

I’ve been praying all day long, and yet still can’t put my prayers succinctly into words.

Words don’t say enough.

The problem is too atrocious, too violent, too hateful for me to fathom how to effectively cover it in prayer. I’m not sure the words exist to express this FEELING.

But I keep praying.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.- Romans 8:26-27

I am grateful that God knows the desires of our heart when words can’t seem to describe the sour sickening pit in our stomach. Even in our silence as we just feel our emotions, He receives the unutterable prayers from the deepest part of our soul.

I know that in many countries across the globe, atrocious things happen on a daily basis. Of most of these things, I am ignorant because I live in the United States. I am ashamed to say that I have not been faithful to keep up with the persecution of the church, except when I get the pamphlet in my church bulletin and even then, the prayers are far too brief.

But never have I been affected like this. Like the truth of these things never penetrated this deep below the surface before. The burden is heavy. Dark. Oppressive.

Perhaps it is because I’ve been praying for a softer soul; that my heart would break over what breaks God’s heart…perhaps it is because I took the time to read the stories in detail.

I am often guilty of turning the horror off. Of changing the channel (not just when my kids are in the room – which I will continue to do), of choosing not to read the news stories, choosing to be oblivious to current events. I am not faithful to lift these people up because I do not know what is going on.

The stories seem endless. Repetitive. They keep coming. I think along the way I lost confidence in the effectiveness of my prayers and attention since these horrible and evil things keep happening.

But my prayers are effective and must be offered. He hears them ALL and it is my disobedience NOT to be praying them. Even when I don’t have the words.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. – John 5:14

I need to be more faithful in prayer. Not just that God would intervene, but that His presence would be known to both the persecuted and the persecutors. That He will shelter those fleeing from harm, provide for them, and move non-Christians in Iraq to aid them, hide them, and usher them to safe places. That God will give peace and comfort in supernatural abundance as only He can, and that those whose lives are lost in HIS name will be remembered as faithful servants.  

I pray that this uprising of persecution will bring CHANGE to the hearts of an exponential audience. 

It is hard to see any good that could come of this. I struggle to see how this can be. The word ‘good’ mixed in with this type of horror hurts my brain.

But when you read the Bible, start to finish, you see the story of redemption. You see that there is ALWAYS hope, and how God is ALWAYS working even if He seems silent.

The truth remains, good WILL come even if we can’t see how.

I am sure that in all of this; God is NOT silent. He is not unaware. He IS working, loving, moving, protecting, providing, comforting, sheltering, burning with righteous anger, and is hurting over the mistreatment of His beloved. His plan is bigger than this, bigger than those committing these offenses. They have claimed the position of judge and executioner. They have rejected the true God and have made a grievous error that will curse their eternity.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

Despite the atrocity, I have to cling to hope that there will be stories of the miracles God has performed and IS performing as I write this. There will be stories of those He sheltered, provided for, and led to safety. There will be stories of comfort, peace and forgiveness. Of the HOPE His children are clinging to as they flee.

But for now. I continue to struggle. To hurt. To be confused. To be ANGRY. To be grateful for where I live, and where my children live, and at the same time, feel guilty that we are so sheltered, so unaware, so callous to the news stories we hear every day that we turn away and don’t even say a prayer when we hear or see them.

I don’t know what the answer is to stop this. We know from the Bible that persecution will always exist, until the end of days. I don’t think anyone wants to go to war, I don’t think adding loss of more life helps anything, and I also think doing nothing is just as bad. I am grateful it is not my decision. I pray for those who have to make decisions like these.

I do know that today, this story, and others like it, has awakened something inside me.

A fervor and understanding that it is my job to pray for the persecuted on a regular basis. Not just when I catch the news, but with endurance, and with intention. For now, this is my role, my measure of obedience, as I stand with the believers around the world. To be AWARE of what is going on…not to be consumed with it, but to be informed enough to pray for specific places, not just in general.

Today I am SHOUTING that this has to stop. Imploring God to intervene. Standing with the church around the world, interceding on the behalf of those in harm’s way, in Iraq and elsewhere.

 

Thank you,

Elaine

6 Strategies to Keep the Peace When Your Child is Ill

We all know those days…your normally well-behaved and easy-going child becomes an opinionated, cranky, and whiny little person. As the day goes on, symptoms of illness that were not at first obvious, present themselves and the sensitivity of your little one is magnified even further.

Pretty soon you, and your family are walking on eggshells around an emotionally unpredictable tiny child who doesn’t feel well.

In our house, it’s not the days the child feels the worst; those days, they want to snuggle up, sleep, read books and watch TV. The hardest days are the day the child falls ill, and the day they start to feel better. They have a spark of energy and desire to play, but are frustrated by feeling badly and are emotional and hyper-sensitive.

It is obvious they do NOT feel well, and as a result, they are no longer equipped to cope with simple frustrations.

Whether home all day with the children, or spending time with them after work, you need a strategy to smooth out the rough edges and keep the peace of your household.

6 Strategies to ‘Keep the Peace’ When a Child is Ill

1. Lower Your Voice

These days can also frustrate you, so intentionally lower your voice. Speak more softly than normal, and encourage siblings to do the same. Quiet words are more likely to be received calmly and are less likely to be mistaken as yelling by a sensitive child. As a general rule, the quieter my voice, the quieter the response from the child (sick or not).

2. Run Sibling Interference

When one doesn’t feel well, tension between siblings can run high. A sick child is more inclined to perceive normal interactions as ‘unfair’, and be less equipped to graciously deal with the occasional ‘butting of heads’ (figuratively and literally). Helping the well child understand the other child isn’t feeling well may diffuse a few arguments, but if too many, the well child may feel slighted.

Let them play nicely together as long as it lasts. When the peace has ended, efforts to keep each child occupied and perhaps in their own space can pay dividends. Try keeping the other sibling busy building their OWN Lego tower, if possible, try staggering their naps/rest time, or see if they will play nicely in their OWN rooms for a while. Some alone time may allow them to miss the other and play nicely for a while later in the day.

3. Get Creative with Restful Activities

Fill the day with quiet activities that require your child to SIT: play-dough, books, coloring, puzzles, blocks, and that indoor ‘fake’ sand. For most of these activities, each child can have their own space and activity. I can buckle the little one into a high-chair (which allows for easy sibling interference), and the one who doesn’t feel well stays busy in a way that promotes REST. A few other ideas include:

  • bath time with plenty of toys – make it extra special by putting on swim suits, playing music, and adding sunglasses for a ‘pool party’
  • build a fort (or let them play in their closet so you don’t have to keep rebuilding it, fill it with their bedding and pillows and give them a flashlight and some books
  • build a tape road on your carpet and supply the trucks
  • any type of sensory play at the table
  • making cards or craft presents for grandparents or daddy using water-color paint, glue and cut paper, pipe cleaners or whatever else you have on hand
  • setup a ‘zoo’ with all their stuffed animals and give them little people to come and visit
  • sit and play doctor, restaurant or other pretend prop activity
  • paint a steamy mirror in the bathroom-keeps them busy while loosening congestion
  • play a board game if they are old enough
  • practice numbers and letters and writing them at the table – even better, use flashcards or a magnetic drawing board and do it snuggled up on the couch

4. Lengthen rest-time (if possible)

Plan ahead! Make sure they’ve eaten if hungry, have some water and tissues nearby, and if necessary, have had a fresh dose of fever reducer or paint reliever a little while BEFORE the rest. Do what you can to help them rest. My son no longer naps, but I TRY to get him to sleep when he is sick. Usually, if I do some extra work, he will sleep (which as a bonus gives ME a needed break!).

If helping them sleep means you need to sit and read a few extra books, or rub their back to help them fall asleep, DO IT! The longer they rest, the quicker they feel better, and the quicker your family can stop walking on eggshells. If the other sibling wakes first, spend some dedicated time with them as they may be getting less attention than usual.

5. Give in to Technology

I generally try to keep the kids away from TV, but am willing to use it liberally when someone is sick. They see TV as a treat, so getting to wrap up in a blanket, snuggle up with mommy and watch Mighty Machines on Netflix is special and exciting. Try to sneak in snuggle time with each child so no one feels left out. As they feel better, reduce TV time accordingly so you don’t have a battle when they feel well.  Try giving them a turn using the tablet loaded with a new kids app, scroll through family pictures on the computer, or play their favorite CD and let music distract them for a bit.

6. Adjust Discipline

The whine – you can’t mistake the sick whine because they’re laying it on pretty thick. Usually, I respond to whiny voices by asking the child to say it again, nicely and I get a chipper, smiley response. It may be over-the-top FAKE happy, but it is un-whiny nonetheless. When the child is sick, my request to say it nicely is often met with tears, and a MORE whiny and insistent request (aka demand). If the child was healthy, I’d  reinforce that crying and whining to do not get us what we want. EVER. Except when you’re sick. A little whine isn’t going to do much more than hurt my ears and test my patience. The sick child gets a minor whiny-pass, with gentle reminders to try to use a ‘happy face’.

Actively course correct – In addition to giving a break on whining, readjusting discipline to focus more on course correction instead of punishment can help avoid meltdowns. This does not mean ignoring a major offense, but trying to head off a behavior before it needs to be addressed. This can be done by suggesting something else to do, distraction with music or simply by scooping them up in a hug. If you can break their train of thought, you can usually prevent a behavior that requires discipline. On a normal day, I let them figure out where their actions are leading, so they can learn cause-effect of behavior; but when one is sick, I simply try to keep the peace.

Switch methods – You know your child best. Avoid using discipline that you know will amplify their emotions. When my son is sick, I try very hard not to give him a time-out because he hates being alone when sick. A time-out that usually takes 2 minutes becomes an all-out meltdown, sometimes inducing worse behavior that then requires even further discipline. SO, if the offense is minor, I try to adjust how I discipline so we still address the issue, but do so without a time out. For example, if he is takes a toy from his sister, inducing tears, he needs to apologize, say he is sorry and kiss her on the head (avoid kisses if you think they are contagious). OR, I might have him make her a ‘present’ to say sorry by coloring a picture, which can interrupt activity so he doesn’t do the same thing right away. I will then tell him that if the behavior happens again, I will have to put away a toy for the day (his favorite digger or dump truck are the first to go). When sick, confiscating toys works better than time-outs, BUT when he is feeling WELL, taking a toy usually induces a tantrum, so we start with time-outs. Don’t be afraid to try something new if your standard discipline isn’t working.

6 strategies for keeping the peace

The good news about minor illnesses is they go away. A little extra effort from you, and you can help keep the peace so the illness doesn’t set your house into a perpetual whiny and tear-stricken place.  Good luck!