Because It Is True

“I want you to read the Bible to me because it’s true.”

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Nearly two weeks ago Ron and I adjusted our bedtime routines with the children. Before bed we would read a chapter book with Emily and three or four picture books with Joshua prior to reading a Bible account. Our dearest Emily has fallen in love with reading. She will sit for hours listening to us read; that is until we reach for the Bible at bedtime.

Ron decided it was time for a change. Our desire is that the Bible would be the most treasured book for our children. Therefore we reserve chapter books and picture books for nap time and throughout the day, but give the Bible center stage at bedtime.

This Wednesday we were home late from church. It was bath night and we were tired. So what if we skipped one night of reading the Bible before bed? There is always tomorrow right?

Emily did not share our sentiments. She was crying and asking Ron to please read a chapter of Luke to her.

As Ron joined me on the couch I joked, “What kind of parents send their kids to bed begging for them to read the Bible?” He was simultaneously thinking, “What kind of pastor am I to not read the Bible to my kid when she is asking?”

When I tucked her into bed (for the second time that evening) Ron picked up his iPad and said, “I am going in there. I cannot send her to bed when she is asking me to read the Bible to her.”

Through tears Emily says, “I wanted you to read the Bible to me because it’s true. I wanted you to read the Bible because you said you would read it every night.”

What if we were at the mercy of some literate adult to read the word of God to us? Consider how starved for the truth we could be.

Tonight we are attending a high school graduation. I know that in fourteen very short years our Emily will be walking across a stage, receiving her diploma, and completely responsible for choosing to read and follow God’s word on her own. Then two years later, Joshua will follow her lead. After that point we will not know what time they go to bed, where they have been all day, nor exactly what temptations they are facing.

Sowing the seed of God’s word now prepares them for the independence that lies ahead. Because it is true, this home and this time we have is temporary, it is our desire to equip them to live for Jesus all the days of their life. After all, we are planting wheat fields, not beanstalks.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

~Deuteronomy 6:4-8

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6 Things I Said I Would Never Do As a Parent

What was it I said we would never do as parents? Oh yes, I seem to remember a few things.

I/we will never…

1. Have kids’ toys in our room.

2. Install DVD players in the car.

3. Allow our children to be unresponsive when people talk to them. I find this difficult to say with a straight face. 🙂

4. Let our children sleep in our bed. (Still only happens when Daddy is out of town.)

5. Bribery. (Didn’t make it two years before I began using this “disciplinary methodology.” I must say I try to use it sparingly.)

6. Homeschooling. I am not sure that I ever said I wouldn’t home school; I do know I thought it.

Let me give it to you straight. Today we are leaving to drive an hour and a half to our state’s home school convention. Our kids will watch DVDs in their portable DVD players that we bought them for their birthdays while playing with toys they probably grabbed out of our room prior to ignoring the neighbors who tell them they look so cute this morning. Then they will ask for the gum that was promised if they dressed without complaining.

Ah, confession is good for the soul. At the very least this may be therapeutic for fellow parents, right?

Be careful what you say you will never do for surely you will one day be given the opportunity to make yourself a liar.

Concerning these 6 Things I Said I Would Never Do As a Parent, I wouldn’t have it any other way my friends… okay, so I would have both my children respond when people talked to them. That is the only thing I would change for the present.

Enjoy your weekend and while you are doing so please read these fabulous, point on posts. They may just be the best ones I have read all year long.

Downward Mobility by Shaun Groves  click here

One Thing That Will Make Your Soul Explode by Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky click here

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Planting Wheat Not Beanstalks

The well-known fairy-tale of Jack and the Beanstalk tells of a young boy who sells the family’s last cow for three magic beans.

While Jack’s beanstalk reaches the heavens in overnight success simultaneously gaining him adventure and wealth it does not provide him lasting value. Yes, he obtains a hen that lays golden eggs and a harp that plays beautiful music, but his adventure is quickly ended and only his temporary needs met.

What of Jack’s soul?

In planting the seed of God’s word in our children’s hearts we desire to plant a kernel of wheat that will one day produce “much fruit.”

Truly, truly, I say to you,  unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and  whoever  hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must  follow me; and  where I am, there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me,  the Father will honor him. ~John 12:24-26

Many parents might look at their job as watering the planted word of God. Perhaps they consider the pastors and directors, the volunteers and teen workers at church to be the planters of the seed of God’s word.

I believe that some parents have Jack and the Beanstalk mentality. Sunday, Wednesday, and VBS+ Youth trips  then voila!…A fully matured fully devoted Christ-follower by age 18.

This is not the case.

Our job concerning tending the soil of our children’s hearts is an utmost priority. The church helps water the seeds we plant but we are charged with the task of cultivating the soil, planting the seed (on a daily basis), and ensuring that “weeds” (e.g. ways of the world) do not kill our crops.

Christ will make sure that the seed grows and matures. He has commanded us to tend it. Families and the church are the team God uses to do His work in the lives of our children.

  I planted,  Apollos watered,  but God gave the growth. 7 So  neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each  will receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are  God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field,  God’s building. ~1 Corinthians 3:6-9

4 “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[b] 5 You  shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And  these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. ~Deuteronomy 6:4-9

We as parents read the word of God to our children and our lives are the Bible they first experience. How we live conveys what we believe concerning the Bible, God’s grace, and the importance of living in obedience to His commands.

Noone and no family is perfect. Even in our imperfections the Lord chooses to redeem the souls of our children. Amen!

Last Wednesday Emily graduated from her first year as a Cubbie Bear in the Awana Program. She excitedly dressed for the final awards ceremony in a Sunday dress, Princess Aurora clip-on earrings, and a glitzy heart necklace. She and her fellow Cubbie Bear’s ecstatically received their awards complete with a painted glove conveying the gospel message.

Each week the Cubbies had been taught the corresponding verses with the gloves and they cherished their own glove awarded to them as if you had given them keys to their first car.

Thank you Ms. Diane, Ms. Melissa, and all the Cubbie leaders for watering the seedlings in your care each week. Our Cubbie Bear loved it!

Grandmom was one of Emily’s room leaders in Cubbie’s. Emily knew Grandmom would be there with a piece of gum to accompany each class.

  Next year Joshua will start Puggles. For now he is happy being the Lone Ranger… or Lighting Maqueen.

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Looking Back Over A Decade

Today we remember our covenant we made 10 years ago. The merging of two lives spiritually and emotionally did not happen overnight, but rather transpired as we stayed the course and trusted God. This life provides the only opportunity to experience a relationship of husband and wife. I too often neglect this truth. In this temporary home, Ron Cooney is my best friend and lover. Over the last 10 years we have grown together and matured.

In celebration, I believe some reflection is in order. Here are 10 lessons that we have learned together the past decade:

1. Faithfulness is a choice we make that blesses our own lives and the lives of all we touch.

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?~Proverbs 20:6

Ron quoted this verse to me just before he said “I love you” for the first time. He desired to be a faithful man. He was so well thought out. I, conversely, had not experienced the unfaithfulness of man to a large degree and quickly, though not entirely thoughtlessly, quipped back, “I love you too.”

Now 10 years later I have experienced the aftermath unfaithfulness leaves. I have seen the destruction that broken covenants inevitably produce and I am all the more aware of the gift that Ron continues to give me.

2. Patience is love waiting.

An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end. ~Proverbs 20:21

Waiting to consummate the marriage on the marriage night and not rushing in the development of our relationship were both aspects that we desired in dating. Ron presented this verse to me, and in true Ron style practiced patience with us, with me, and in the progression of our lives from the start.

3. Purity in singleness prepares us for purity in marriage. Likewise, weaknesses in singleness carryover to our marriage.

To keep the marriage bed pure is not only a task of a single but an ongoing work of the married .With the rings is made a promise, with determination a commitment is kept. A good marriage takes work. Otherwise, we produce a relationship that is hardly working.

4. Perfection is a lie and a snare. “Be holy as I am holy.” Not, “Be perfect as I am perfect.”

You never arrive at the perfect marriage because it is a life-long marathon – not a sprint. We are imperfect people in need of purification by Christ which leads to holiness.

As with everything practice makes… almost perfect. Seek a holy relationship not a perfect one.

5. Differences can enliven or divide.

For example… ideals on money, child raising, and the use of our time and talents. It is hard but necessary to communicate our ideas to one another and arrive at a point of mutual agreement and practice.

6. Think before you speak, but speak before you fall apart.

If you think it and expect it, then project it. No man is a mind reader. We must convey our desires to avoid disappointment and conflict.

7. Marriage succeeds as a triune relationship.

It takes man and wife with God at the head to produce a healthy marriage.

Again, if two lie together, they keep warm,  but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

8. Keep it fun!

Continue to be playful and flirt with your mate! Try new things and continue to grow together.

9. Keep learning

… about your mate, marriage, and God via prayer, the Bible, and godly counsel.

10. Work as a team… know who to fight against.

For  we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against  the rulers, against the authorities, against  the cosmic powers over  this present darkness, against  the spiritual forces of evil  in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 6:12

 

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Celebrations

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

New life comes in many forms. On March 26, 2012 we welcomed our newest addition to the family, my niece, Anna Bell B. Seven pounds and ten ounces of joy stretched 21 inches long will forever change us for the better.

Emily has cried, “I miss Anna Bell” for two months. Now she holds her precious cousin in her arms while helping feed her bottles of milk.

This week amidst our travels we have celebrated new life and the last two years with Brooks. We gathered with extended family to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of a beloved cousin.

There is a time and a place for everything under the sun. This week was a time to laugh and a time to weep, a time to embrace and a time to love.

 

 

May you make memories in celebration this weekend and live for the home that will outlive the present.

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10 Reasons Why I Like Being a One-Car Family

 

  1. Added family time– The four of us rarely enjoyed family time in the car prior to becoming a one-car family a year ago following our devastating car accident which you can read about here. Being a (youth) pastor’s wife means Sunday is not family day, but a work day. It took some major adjusting on this mama’s part to remember that getting our children to church was my mission as a helpmate to Ron and his vocation. Now that we are a one-car family I continue to be a pseudo single mom on Sunday and Wednesday, but after church we return to our family of four status as we now enjoy riding home together most Sunday’s.During the week the kids and I enjoy taking Ron to work even though this means everyone is ready for the day a little earlier than we might be if this responsibility was omitted.  Together time in the car allows us to confer about scheduling, work out any early morning spats, or just enjoy our coffee and kids together for a few more minutes.
  2. No payments– We have enjoyed payment free cars for several years prior to our accident and had even entertained the idea of converting to a single car. After totaling my Rendezvous and purchasing the Trailblazer, Ron decided that he would sell his truck to pay the difference for the new purchase and therefore leave us with no payment. This is one of the examples of servant leadership that I so admire about my husband and saw modeled in my dad prior to marriage. Dad drove an old Chevrolet pickup for years so that mom, my sister, and I could ride in a newer reliable mode of transportation.
  3. Less maintenance– With only one car we have one to maintain including tires, oil-changes, and, as our luck has gone this year, minor fender-benders (one where an ambulance backed into us at a red light and another where a pickup truck busted my back taillight).
  4. The clean factor– Ron has the car on certain days of the week and I know this means he will more than likely being transporting coworkers at lunch. Therefore, I try my best to have the car clear of trash and most toys. This means we start our days with a clean car.
  5. Shared bedtime duties– As I mentioned earlier, on church days in the past I would arrive home before Ron and have the added responsibility of lunch or dinner preparation plus bedtime routines for both kids. Now since we arrive home together my work load on those days has been reduced by half. What a blessing!
  6. Community-With only one car this makes for carpooling with friends on a regular basis for Ron and occasionally for me. Anytime we spend with others develops relationships and furthers the bonds of community.  It is both humbling and encouraging to find that so many are willing to extend a helping hand to us. In fact, this week as I visit my family with the kids, a generous friend has loaned his second car to Ron for two weeks. We are so thankful for this act of brotherly love.
  7. Rising to a challenge-I have to admit contemplating the transition from one car to two and actually doing it are two different things. The reality is that an accident kindly forced our hand. While some have jested, “Why don’t you just buy another car?” We have found that though planning is required the truth is that one car makes life a bit simpler than two. We can actually do without the “more” we believe we require. Thankfully, rising to this challenge has required planning not pains.
  8. Added margin– Owning one car requires that we simply stay at home more. We find that there are certain days that play dates and outings can occur. This is good for me because otherwise the laundry would be neglected all the more and the toys we have at home would be played with all the less.
  9. A steady rhythm to our days – I love Jamie Martin of Steady Mom. She wrote the wonderful book Steady Days that speaks of having a rhythm to the schedule of our days. Being a one-car family has definitely enforced a rhythm into the dynamics of our life.
  10. At least one bicycle is used– Yes, this last point may be pathetic, but it is true. If Ron were not forced to ride his bicycle to work on Sunday’s it most likely would sit next to mine rusting in the sunshine. However, I am going to lean into the curves and bike our county’s trail if it is one of the only things I do in the next two months!

What about you? Do you think you could share the car with your spouse for a day or two? Maybe even a week? If you do, let me know your experience. Perhaps you too would find that the benefits outweigh the inconveniences.

Shotgun!

 

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Our Garden State Adventure Part 2

First, I am unsure which is the greater task, seeing as much as possible of New York City in one day with two preschoolers or blogging about it in one post. Regardless, prior to landing in the Newark airport, this 1994 Pace Picante Sauce commercial is as close as I came to New York City.

Not anymore. Chinatown, Little Italy, Broadway, and Central Park were all on the list as we spent a day traveling New York City with Ron’s godmother, “Momo” and her husband, Sal.

We were treated to the downtown loop of our Gray Line New York double-decker tour. Travel to and from the city on public transportation was the children’s most memorable part. Riding public transportation packed with commuters and complete with a slow drive through the Lincoln Tunnel was our kids idea of a good time in the city. What was not Momo’s idea of a good time was Ron and Emily’s failure to exit the bus when we did. Needless to say, this native New Jersey lady was needing a large cup of coffee when we met Ron and Emily a few floors down in the bus terminal.

Off to a memorable start don’t you think? Look at the worry in Momo’s face. Then note the sympathy in Ron and Sal’s. We all had a good laugh…everyone but Momo that is.

Next we had the pleasure of watching Sal heckle the bus personnel of the New York bus tours to get what he considered a reasonable price. Ron and I snapped pictures and recorded the comical exchange like the “country” folk we felt we were. I will not incriminate Sal by posting the video here. Needless to say, we were pleasantly entertained.

You can see the gentleman in the red jacket followed by Sal and Momo as he convinced Sal to follow him to the bus stop to purchase the tickets.  Cue Picante’s “New York City?”

Now for the shots of a few of our favorite spots. We primarily enjoyed the outward view of the buildings. The vast beauty and variety of the architecture in the city was my favorite part. Manhattan is rich with history and art. To experience it all within one day was a fast paced dream come true.

First up…the Empire State Building.

 

Followed by a quick visit inside Macy’s for some Starbucks and people watching. My personal favorite were the men turning over every price tag in the handbag section as they trailed their wives.

 

We traveled in the bus top for a few blocks and I was smitten with this store, but did not request to stop. Can you say NERD?

We accidentally missed the exit for China Town so we proceeded to the site of Ground Zero and the new Freedom Tower. Freedom Tower reached its 100th floor during our visit. On the way we passed one of my favorite buildings, the Flatiron building. It is built in the form of a triangle and so named for its resemblance to a cast-iron clothes iron.

Much to Momo’s dismay, we turned around and walked the 10 blocks back to China Town as the bus only travels one direction in the loop. On the way we stopped and viewed the outside graveyard and architecture of one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan, St. Paul’s Chapel.

 

Next stop. China Town! Joshy’s most memorable portion aside from the city bus ride. He called out the next day as we were driving through New Jersey, “Look mom, China Town!” I am not sure what he saw, but it reminded him of China Town.

Sal persistently pestered Momo by attempting to cheaply purchase a Rolex in China Town. One such attempt ended in a standoff for my camera. I was filming Sal’s transaction when the store clerk quickly informed me that no photography was allowed. To which Sal whispered, “She works for Immigration.” As the gentleman’s temper grew, I deleted the portion of video in-front of him. No, even that would not suffice. He came toward me and said, “I know how you people work!” To which Momo quickly told me to get out of there.

Sal, Sal, Sal, I cannot believe you would try to get me into trouble all for a Rolex. Immigration!

It was time for lunch in Little Italy.

 

 

We ended our tour at Battery Park, Central Park, and the final stop before loading the bus home…the M&M store.

This stood in the entry of one of the World Trade Tower’s and now is a monument in Battery Park.

The view of Lady Liberty from Battery Park.

Our 20 minute tour of Central Park. My desire is to one day return to the city and spend an entire day in Central Park.

Two 2 pound bags full of M&M’s, not to mention, $34.00 later,  and we were purchasing a bus ticket back to Elizabeth.

The following day we visited Liberty Science Center and Liberty State Park were we viewed this final shot of the city.

Thank you Momo and Sal for this wonderful adventure!

 

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Our Garden State Adventure Part I

Perhaps you live in the same town in which you were born. Likely, you do not. Ron was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, earning him the name “Florida-Yankee” from my father.  A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of traveling to Ron’s hometown where we listened to snippets of past events that shaped my husband into the man he is today.

Hearing Ron describe the way things were I sensed a chapter in his childhood unfolding before me and a glimpse into the boyhood of my man.

Driving through town we came to the schoolyard of Ron’s earliest childhood education. The children and I kept pace with him as he talked of a flag that his father had donated to the school, his school day routines, and one incident in particular:

Little Ronnie’s mom came to pick him up after school. Not noticing the paper he proudly held bearing an A, his mom became quickly mortified to find that he had spent the day with his shoes on the wrong feet. As promptly as dismissal, his mother spared no time in correcting the blunder. As soon as he and his brother were piled into the family’s red Pinto, poor Ronnie changed his shoes returning them to the proper places.

It may be that memories of shoestrings abound, however the pictures of the donated flag made the photo album.

 

 

Looking at the flag once more, I pondered how our Garden State journey had only begun but the memories we traveled spanned a lifetime.

More to come…

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Simply Rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Today I must confess, I am tired. There is much to tell of our recent travels and of the truths I am studying as I continue to memorize the Sermon on the Mount. Yet today I am seeking rest.

Jesus offers refreshment for our souls in each stage of life if we will but ask. On the ride home after a few hours work I prayed, “Lord, please help me to love my husband and children as you would have me to this day. Please help me to be ready to do whatever activity they want and participate with joy.”

As I approached the house Emily, Joshua, and Ron were coming out in their bathing suits ready to water the yard and head for the pool. We had planned to either go to the pool (the family’s favorite) or head for the beach (my favorite) so I knew I needed to be prepared.

I so loved seeing the children splash in the water, venture out to swim on their own, and laugh as their daddy tickled them. It was indeed a time of refreshment to simply observe the joy and thereby participate in it with them.

Thank you for reading these scratchings each week. Thank you for taking part in the joy that is mine to share life with you.

Today I am tired, so I will rest. I wanted you to know that I was thinking of you dear readers. It was encouraging to me that some of you were stopping by for a visit. I wanted to make sure you knew our door was open and a refreshing glass of water awaited you if you should bless us with your presence.

Rest in Him this weekend.

Linking with Rachel:

friday favorite things | finding joy

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Easter 2012

 Celebrating on Saturday with our extended family suited everyone’s busy Sunday schedule allowing us to enjoy each other with out the after church rush. Additionally we were able to eat lunch at Olive Garden after the third Easter service on Sunday. In case you were wondering, Little Italy serves up a tasty Easter dish! We hope you enjoy this picture recap of our celebrations.

We dyed Easter eggs on Friday evening and the kids acted as if they were going to Disney world. To say they loved it would be an understatement. I am considering buying more discount egg-dye at Walmart to surprise them.

Easter service ready then a kiss and out the door.

 

He lives, he lives,

Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life’s narrow way.

He lives, he lives,

Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know he lives?

He lives within my heart.

 Happy Easter 2012!

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