We are so excited to welcome Ashley Cook to our PSF team.
She married her high school sweetheart and together they have three children. In addition to raising three busy children, she also serves part time as Children’s Director in her home church where she also sings on the Praise and Worship Team.
Ashley confesses that she has wanted to be a writer since elementary school and she uses blogging to fulfill some of that desire. She has a love for storytelling, photography, and music. She loves to help people find humor in the craziness of life and she is passionate about making God’s grace and love tangible for people.
Visit our Mom 2 Mom page to read her blog, Resolutions, Rambles & Roles.
I am cross-eyed this morning as I begin to write this letter to all of you because I stayed up through the entire coverage of the 2016 election results. I wanted to go to bed, but I couldn’t tear myself away. I will probably pay for it today. Pray for your brother still living at home!
This has been such a heart wrenching process full of anger, hostility, and fear. I am aware more than ever of the tremendous division in our country and it is truly heart breaking. As I watched the election process unfold, as I watched the response of the media, and as I watched the wide range of responses from the American people, I felt a mixture of emotions that I don’t think I have ever experienced before in the aftermath of any presidential election.
As your mom, my heart wants so much for all of you. I want an America that is once again great and stable and safe. I am so keenly aware this morning that Donald Trump will not be able to provide that for you in the next four years; neither would have Hillary Clinton or any other candidate that ran for office been able to. It is a task too great for fallen man.
But, there is a God in heaven.
I want to share with you what I do believe to be true about my God - your God. He is sovereign above all things. He will accomplish what He intends to accomplish, with or without the cooperation of man. Because I believe Him to be sovereign, I believe that He has chosen the next president. You have just witnessed something that many are saying, “defies human logic”, and is “a miraculous event”. What I want to make sure you recognize is that you have just witnessed first hand God actively steering the course of history. Daniel 2:20-22 says this:
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are His.
He changes times and seasons;
He deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
He knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with Him.
Don’t miss this, guys. He is still in control. While some are saying that this will be a time of great revival in our country, others fear that this will bring about our destruction. But don’t you ever waver in believing that He is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. He has His eyes on you, always. You are precious to Him, the apple of His eye. He alone holds your future in His hands and He is a good, faithful Father to all generations who love Him and obey His words.
One last thing, if we truly believe Him to be sovereign, then we are to act on that belief. If our choice for president did not win, we are not to grieve or be fearful because we know He is in control. If our candidate did win, we are not to gloat or act disrespectfully, but compassionately and lovingly. Instead, we are to continue to pray fervently for our country. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus, loving people where they are and proclaiming the truth of God’s word.
We need to pray for unity in this country so fractured by hate and indifference. But we have to put feet to our prayers. We have to be the instruments though which God heals this land. We have failed miserably. He is giving us another chance. Let’s get it right.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment was, “To love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” But then He added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 36-40) Sadly, Christians are not known for their love. Jesus also told us that other’s would know we were His by the way we loved one another.
Let’s take very seriously our responsibilities as His disciples. Let’s not let Him down.
I love you all,
I have a theory that I think you will find fascinating, especially all you boy mommas. I have had years to develop it and I really believe it to be accurate and reliable.
So here's my theory. I have come to believe that when a boy begins to notice a girl, really notice a girl, he will take a shower and use soap. He will probably use shampoo, too.
It’s true. Let me give you some evidence that I believe supports my theory.
When my oldest was coming along, I had to tell him to go upstairs and take a shower… and use soap…. on all body parts. I tried saying things like, “Get all the way in the shower” or “Get everything wet” but those directions were not specific enough because night after night, he would come down smelling like a wet dog.
I would ask, “Why do you smell like a wet dog?”
He would say, “I dunno.”
I would ask, “Did you use soap?”
He would say, “You didn’t tell me to use soap.”
I would say…well never mind.
Anyway, I had to learn to be very precise with the bathing instructions. And yet, somehow, he just never seemed to be able to get it right.
Then one day, he started using soap – and shampoo without me uttering a word. Not only that, but he started caring about whether or not his clothes matched. He even cared about how his hair looked.
I was dumbfounded.
Then, there she was.
She evidently thought cleanliness was important. She also had a good eye for style, and because of this, his clothing style changed. He went from a camo, boots with gym shorts kinda teenager to a white polo with yellow shorts kinda teenager.
Who would have ever thought it? Certainly not me.
Well, he married her, and I will be forever indebted to her. She did in just a few months what I had tried and failed to do for 16 years.
Was this all coincidence, a maturity thing that sets in around age 16?
But lately, I’ve noticed a change in one of my other boys. He, too, has struggled with the whole soap concept. At one time, he thought that if he squeezed the bottle of shampoo onto his head, stood under the shower, and let the suds trickled down that it would count as washing with soap.
I want you to know that he has started to shower without me uttering a word, twice a day, sometimes three times. I, of course, had to put a stop to that because according to my water bill, either there are too many showers going on in my house or I am watering every yard in my neighborhood.
Even more startling than the number of showers is the fact that after the showers he smells, well, like he took a shower…and used soap.
But the last few days have brought unprecedented changes. The other night he did his homework without me threatening bodily harm. Actually, I don’t threaten bodily harm anymore because apparently, the loss of the cell phone is way more traumatic than bodily harm. I didn’t even ask him if he had homework. He just grabbed the laptop and started working.
Then this morning, he came down stairs and with an all grown up, serious-like attitude said, “I think this conditioner is really helping my hair.”
I don’t even know what to say to that.
So, is this new attitude due to age or has he noticed a girl? If it is because he has noticed a girl, then she obviously takes school and personal hygiene seriously…and the conditioning of one’s hair.
So my theory is that when a boy notices a girl, something in his brain says, "Hey, why don’t we start taking showers and while we're at it, let's use soap?" And then he does.
I will give it a few weeks and let you know if my findings confirm my theory.
All I can say is that if there is a she, I sure hope she loves Jesus.
Have a great week!
Our friend, Allyson Sons, is a 4th grade teacher turned mom. She grew up palling around with my two sons and doting on my daughter. In fact, our families were part of each others' village to the point that while i was pregnant, we let her decide on my daughter's middle name... Allison, of course! So you see, she's very special to us as I hope she will become to you through this blog series.
After getting married and teaching a few years, our friend and her husband, David, had the most precious little boy you've ever laid eyes on. Since his birth she has developed her version of what she terms "Tot School". The motivating factor behind this was to not only stimulate him for learning but to give her an extended purpose as she transitioned into being a stay-at-home mom.
During the month of January, instead of our normal blog, we will be bringing you some of her ideas. Hopefully, the activities she uses will help you get your toddler off the Christmas sweets and back into a simple learning routine without a lot of effort. We hope you enjoy what she has shared as much as we did!
You can follow ideas and posts by Allyson beginning tomorrow and continuing throughout January under our Mom2Mom tab.
Oh, and have a blessed and fun New Year with your toddlers!
Walking the road with you,
“Mom, they sank the boat," came my very frustrated daughter's voice from the other side of the phone.
Philip and I were on the way to Columbia for a concert when I got the phone call.
Sam and his friend Lathan were coming in from duck hunting behind our house when Philip and I pulled out of the driveway. Becca, my daughter was waiting to take them to get something to eat. Everything was under control, or so I thought.
Really, when one has teenage sons, nothing is ever "under control." Sometimes we just have to slip into a semi-delusional state in order to preserve our sanity.
Anyway, we were less than 15 minutes down the road when Becca called with the news.
“What do you mean, they sank the boat?” I yelled into the phone as my heart rate began to climb to an unsafe level. “We’ve been gone less than 15 minutes. How do you sink a boat in less than 15 minutes?”
This past Friday, National Daughter’s Day thoughts were posted all over Facebook. Even though I wasn’t sure whether or not it was a real thing, I decided to post a picture along with everyone else. As I looked for a picture to post, I found myself thinking back over the years spent with my little girl who is no longer a little girl.
I remember when Philip and I decided it was time to start our family, I wanted four girls and no boys. I grew up with three brothers, all boy cousins, and mostly boys in my neighborhood. I did not want a boy.
I got three of them - and one girl.
Let me assure you, I am most grateful for my boys because I came to realize that raising up the boys was a whole lot easier than raising up the girl.
Summer is done. It’s over. I know this because school starts tomorrow. I am just devastated. I’m not ready. My brain has not recovered fully and now I have to throw it right back into the chaos of learning? I cannot do 10th grade for the 5th time.
I cannot even…
I did it once personally then 3 other times on behalf of my three older kids. Now I am being forced to do it with my youngest, least interested in school child.
It might kill me this time, it just really might.
He and I have had a sort of partnership over the years when it comes to all things “school”.
I do all the worrying. I keep up with what is due and when, though I don’t always know why. I devise study strategies, none of which have ever been successful. I develop very close working relationships with his teachers, which might explain why they act like they don’t see me when I wave at them in the grocery store.
His part in all of this is to somehow make it to school and back home. What happens in between is somewhat vague because he never seems to be able to recall when he gets home.
Teachers, I’m sorry. That’s all I know to say. And I will give you a very nice Christmas gift. VERY NICE.
I have another child getting married.
ANOTHER CHILD GETTING MARRIED.
I’m sorry, but when did this happen? I was just trying to convince her to leave the ginormous bow in her hair because it matched her outfit. Never mind the fact that she kept falling over from the weight of the thing. And now, she’s trading in her bows for a veil?
“How exciting!” Everyone keeps saying.
OK, you know what? NO. It’s just not all that exciting to me. It is to her, just not to me. I’m just being honest here.
I’m not real good with change, never have been. I find myself even less good when the change involves my children growing up.
I think being a mom is the best job on all the earth…ever, and I’m just not ready to retire yet. I can remember being a little girl who wanted nothing more than to grow up and be a mom. While others were aspiring to be lawyers, doctors, teachers, Wonder Woman (seriously? I personally would have never admitted to that one), I just wanted to be a mom.
But time stands still for no one. So here I am, child number 2 just graduated from college and in just a few weeks, she’s getting married and moving to another state. Granted, it is the one right next door to my state and only a few hours away, but it’s still, “away”.
So I was kinda in a mood the other day and I found myself telling God that I really needed His help because I wasn’t really happy about His plan. How sweet is it that we can confess that to Him and He just loves us even when we’re being bratty?
Anyway, I asked Him to help me change my heart so that it aligned with His. I asked Him to help me remember all that I needed to be thankful for because it was all a gift from Him. I asked Him to help me remember that my joy and peace and contentment were found in Him alone and not in a house full of children.
You know what He did? He gave me the sweetest of blessings.
That morning, after my time with Him, a chain of events happened and all of a sudden I realized that all four children were going to be home for supper that night, like years ago. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.
Philip had put two and two together also and he may have been almost as excited as me…almost.
When night came, each one straggled into the kitchen just like they used to and sat where they used to sit. As I watched them while I was getting supper ready, my heart was so full I thought it might burst.
When Philip got home, he rounded the corner into the kitchen with a huge smile on his face and said, “I’ve been waiting for this all day long!”
While we were at the table, Philip posed this question, “What is the best memory you have of growing up here?”
And the stories began…
We laughed and reminisced for quite a while. There was a lot of ground to cover because this family tends to do a lot of stupid things, which in turn makes for lots of stories.
I want to make sure you understand that I absolutely love my daughter that I gained through marriage and my future son that I will gain in a few weeks. My joy wasn’t in them not being there. My joy came from being able to go back in time and experience that sweet feeling of having all my chicks under the same roof. Even though none of them are “chicks” any more.
But as we sat there, I realized that there was a little emptiness, like things weren’t complete. You know what I realized it was? Sarah Kathryn and Tony weren’t there. Even though I loved remembering what it was like being a mama with her children around her, I missed my new children and our family wasn’t complete without them.
So God gave me this sweet taste of the past, but in doing so, He showed me the preciousness of the future. And I found my heart aligning with His.
What an awesome thing it is when we ask Him for help and He answers so perfectly!
Have a great week!
Here is a great video for all Mom's. Saw it this morning and came home and looked it up on Youtube. Wanted to share it with all of you. Go get the kleenex! Happy Mother's Day!
If I asked you, “What is the heart of your home?” what would you say? It’s really an important question, and it is deserving of some deep thought.
Some of you, I’m sure, answered right away. Some of you might need a minute to think. It’s okay. Take your time.
The heart of my home would be the kitchen. Not because there are elaborate meals prepared there, though we are quite fond of food in my family…a little too fond. It’s not because it is an awesome room that once Southern Living Magazine discovers it, they will be calling me for an interview. Nope, don’t think there is anything about the kitchen that would intrigue them at all, though it does have a fireplace, which is the other love in my family.
We like to eat and we like fires.
Doesn’t get much better than that.
In my family, we are masters of setting fires. We could start a fire on a glacier without wood or matches. I hate to brag, but we are just really that good. We’re just not so good at controlling them or putting them out, but that’s for another story.
Yeah, we like to eat, we like fires, and oh, how we love telling stories.
That’s the real reason the kitchen is the heart of our home, because that’s where we do life together. It’s not the food. It’s not the fires. It’s the time spent together. It’s the stories we tell; the adventures we revisit, the things we pass on.
There in the kitchen, as we sit around the table, we nourish our bodies.
But it’s more than that…so much more.
There’s the laughter and the storytelling that feeds our sense of family, that reminds us of who we are, where we came from…maybe where we’re going. Sometimes where we probably shouldn’t have gone and had better not go back again.
It’s the building of memories – the reinforcing of memories so that when we’re apart, we can remember. It’s the glue that keeps use together.
Now that my family is getting older and feet are slowly vanishing from under the table, I realize something about the importance of my supper table that I didn’t fully realize before. For those of us who have been called according to His purpose, time spent around the table, after the eating is done and the chairs have been pushed back, can be nourishment for our souls. The real nourishment around my table happens when the stories turn to the One writing the chapters of our lives. The One who intricately weaves story lines of grace, mercy, and redemptive love into those chapters.
I wish I had fully realized this when my kids were younger.
You know, if I had it all to do again, no discipline would ever have been issued at the supper table.
To the ones who left home before I had this epiphany, sorry I’m just realizing this.
There would have been no fussing about grades, or lost things, or fires set that required several fire trucks and a backhoe. Not that these things shouldn’t be addressed, just not at the supper table.
All that would have been reserved for another room in the house. Instead, the supper table would have been reserved for stories both old and new. It would have been reserved for diligently teaching our children about the faithfulness of God toward His children with more intentionality.
We would have recanted stories of old. I would have talked of things – amazing things – my God did long ago. I would have talked about things – amazing things my God was still doing. I would have shared more of my first hand experiences with my Father. The times He rescued me from my stupidity. The times He showed me mercy or lavished me with His grace. I would have been painfully honest about my shortcomings and ecstatic over the victories through His power.
I would have remembered that it’s not the meal that is of greatest importance, it’s the time spent around the table, the legacy of faith passed down to the next generation.
We talk about the importance of sharing our faith stories with others, but before we take those stories to others, we need to talk them out with our children or anyone else He sends into our home. And what better place to do that than the supper table?
When we remember, we gain strength. When we share, we offer hope, and others gain courage. When we warn, we protect; we give an opportunity for another to be spared the hard road we walked as a result of poor choices or flat out disobedience.
We make sense of experiences through our stories.
Painfully honest, vulnerable, miraculous, grace drenched stories.
Start the tradition of sharing stories when your children are young. If they are older, introduce it to them anyway. Just do it.
We are changing the name of our Domestic Diva page to “The Supper Table” because we believe with all our hearts in the importance of sharing our faith stories around the supper table. And because we don’t believe that elaborate meals are necessary, we want to give you suggestions for great meals without all the fuss.
We want to help you just get them to the table.
Then when the meal is over, linger at the table a little longer. Don’t rush off. Talk about your day. Share what God showed you, taught you. Talk about your experiences with Him. Revisit those old stories of the Bible.
Be intentional until it becomes unintentional-just a part of who you are and what you do as a family around the supper table.
Invite others to sit at your table, often.
Years down the road, it’s not the food they’ll remember; it’s the stories.
It’s the legacy of family and faith.
Have a great week!
“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Ronald Reagan
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