I posted this a year ago on Facebook and thought y'all might enjoy reading it as well. The Vine can speak to you in mighty ways...
I have a muscadine vine in my backyard. It was here when we bought the house, but it is my pride and joy! I dream of having a garden one day, so I just pretend with this precious grapevine.
The Lord has used this to speak to me in such an impactful way. Just a couple of months ago there wasn't a leaf on it. There was, however, a leafy green something growing on the top of it. Not knowing much about plants, I asked a friend what it was. He told me it was a weed. To my untrained eye, I had no idea. The vines had no leaves, yet this weed was flourishing.
Fast forward a couple of months and I now have an abundance of leaves and a little bit of flowering has started. Last week I noticed that there were a couple of jack and the bean stalk-looking swirly things springing up about a foot above the top of my vine. They looked pretty, vibrant, and green. I thought perhaps they were new vines so I asked Richard and guess what? They were weeds!
Today I purposed to work on my vines and get rid of those bright green WEEDS. As I took my shears back there and began to work, the Lord began to speak to me. At the base of these "vibrant" weeds were large thorns. Way too many to count and they ranged in size from my thumb nail to smaller sizes. The base was wide, thick, strong, and thorny. What appeared as vibrant, green new growth on the vine was actually a weed stifling the vine's growth and stealing nutrients from the soil. On the surface with the other leaves, it was beautiful and interesting. On a deeper and closer level, it was just the opposite- ugly and a nuisance.
As my daughter Ava was helping me, it brought to mind her starting to build relationships with people now and in the coming years. She is young, naive, and impressionable. She may only see the surface level charm and beauty, and she may miss the heart of the person. This is what I have to guard her from... to teach her about...to give her scripture to reinforce.
The Lord called to my mind Matthew 7:15-20. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits."
This can be a warning to any degree on the character of people, ourselves included. Even the weeds flower and bloom, but guess what, they do not bear good fruit. They have no good thing to show from it. Let me tell you, it was WORK to clean up these vines and there is still work to do. The weeds act like vines and wrap themselves around the healthy grapevines to blend in. I have to literally rip and tear them off of each other. They are trying to become one.
Surely this sounds familiar to someone... Relationships can be life giving or exhausting. They can take from you and never replenish your soul. The Lord knows that! He warns us of these. What does a healthy relationship look like? What does it feel like? Who could love like that? Who gives, requires no work from us, and simply asks us to accept this gift? Jesus. God sent Him just for that purpose, so that we could abide in Him. Think about that.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me." John 15:1-4
Kids want to do what they see being done.
They want to be who influences them most.
They want to follow where their people lead them.
The above picture of me was taken by my daughter, Ava. She sees me taking pictures a lot and so she wanted to do it herself. She did a good job! I pulled it up and thought, good focus, good centering, (probably mainly good luck), but even still…good work!
…and then, hmmm, my mind began to wander…
What else does she see me do?
How else do I influence her?
Where else am I leading her?
My answer to each of these questions wants to point to Jesus! …wants to point to Jesus.
Unfortunately I know I get that wrong a lot.
At a baby dedication I attended this past Sunday, the pastor referenced the lyric “oh be careful little eyes what you see…”
For the majority of our children’s young lives, their eyes are looking at us, at what we are putting in front of them, or they are looking at who we allow into their lives.
What’s the common factor there? WE. We are responsible for what they see. We as parents, caregivers, guardians, etc. are the PRIMARY ones influencing our children for the majority of their time with us.
You may be thinking, I work, I’m not with them a lot. They’re in school, they attend daycare, they're just little babies…Well, unless some other arrangement is setup, you as their primary caregiver get to decide where they go to school, attend daycare, and yes even babies are impressionable, so what they see matters. In each situation children are exposed to things, to other people, that will influence them. “Be careful little eyes what you see,” is really more directed to the adult in that it should say, “be careful grown adult what you show them.”
Yikes! Does that feel heavy? Did I just put a lot of pressure on you? That wasn’t my intention, but I do want you to be reminded (as I was this weekend) that we have little eyes watching us all of the time.
Maybe you’re struggling as an adult to make decisions that are good for you, let alone worrying over how they influence your child(ren)…well, this is where we as Christian women have some major help. That help comes in the form of the Holy Spirit and is given to us directly from Jesus Christ. John 16:7 talks about how Christ was leaving but sending us a helper, an advocate who would come alongside us and guide us through conviction and hope.
So, yes, maybe you're struggling right now with decisions, and listen, parenting well is HARD. WORK. But we were never meant to do it on our own! Pray. Pray in the moments where you feel you are failing. Pray with a grateful heart in the moments where you're finding success! Pray all of the time, without ceasing, for your child(ren) and their future. The Holy Spirit will help you. He IS the helper!
Ok now let’s talk about what these little eyes see…
The obvious thing that comes to my mind is technology! Whether that’s TV, computers, or phones, kids of all ages are almost immediately exposed to one of them. It’s like the unholy trinity! Seriously.
So what does that look like? News, TV shows, movies, COMMERCIALS (for the love of PETE), games, You Tube videos (of about a trillion different categories)…
How about music? What are you listening to when you’re driving? “Oh it’s just (insert whatever)! They’re little, they don’t know what that means!” Suuuure. Until they repeat it back to you. Cause we all love when our 2 year olds do that!
What about what you’re reading? What’s on the cover? Who is it magnifying? What is it pointing them to?
There are so many avenues that influence our children because WE expose them to those things.
…oh right. So that number one area of influence is really who then? It's us.
We can’t always blame media, the schools, the neighbors, or who or whatever else we desire. WE have to take ownership of that which we expose our children to. We control what they watch, what they listen to, who they talk to (for the most part), what they spend their time doing, and the list goes on. For a good little while, we have control over all of that.
So now for the next BIG question. And this is super important...
If we are the ones controlling what influences our children, who is controlling what influences us? WHO influences US?
…The answer to this question is the most important, for it steers and directs our paths and the paths we put in place for our children.
Ponder the answer you think is right, and then think about the answer that is perhaps the real truth in your life...and then listen to this song. It is so encouraging and a great reminder of the opportunity we have daily to opt for the BEST influencer.
With love & laughter,
Over the last few months I’ve had several people look at me with all three of my kids and say, “man you’re in the trenches right now!” or “I remember those days-surviving the trenches!”
My first thought was like, my life doesn't feel very “trench” like?! Should I hate where I am in life right now? Should I be more exhausted? Are my kids being crazy? AM I CRAZY?…it didn’t feel that way.
But then each week it seemed I’d find myself dealing with more and more stress… my 2 1/2 year old started displaying new and undesirable behaviors. My 6 month old became more sick and more clingy. My 5 1/2 year old became even more argumentative than normal. What was happening? uh-oh…the dreaded trenches.
My inner monologue started rolling..ok THESE are the trenches they were talking about. I guess I’ll just have to do my best to survive each day…get through each moment. I know it’s not fun right now, but it’s only a season. I can’t enjoy playing with this child or that one, because of what this one or that one is doing. I’ll find time later. This is ONLY a season.
Ok let’s STOP. Let’s stop right there. All of the above are thoughts we have all had- I am sure of it! And we have all said or been told that whatever current difficulty we are going through is just a season we will “get through.” Well, guess what? That whole sentiment has been super convicting to me lately. Let me tell you why…
Life is hard.
Mom-ing is hard.
Wife-ing is hard.
Friend-ing is hard.
Work-ing is hard.
Love-ing is hard.
Change-ing is hard.
But they’re also all very rewarding.
If we get caught up in the middle of “getting through” any of them, we risk missing out on the JOY in every single one of them. Especially mom-ing.
And calling everything a season seems a little like a copout… Life is full of seasons. Like literally and figuratively… but I don’t want to just get through each season of my life. I don’t want to just survive the trenches. How about we stop referring to periods of life as seasons or trenches and just call it life. Cause I mean, that’s what it is…and when I think about my life... well, I don’t just wanna “get through” that.
I want to live my life…
I want to grow in my life…
I want to remember my life…
I want to experience my life …
I want to find JOY in each and every moment of my life.
I’m just not too sure that viewing a period of your life as a trench, season, or something to “get through” accomplishes that.
We all, especially us mamas, have to be so intentional. We have to guard our hearts. We can’t let what the world says be the loudest voice we hear. We have to intently listen for that still, small, yet true voice of the Father. What does He want you to learn, experience, or remember in this moment (difficult as it may be)? Cause, I’m telling you…that’s where the joy is.
There is joy to be found in all of the good and in all of the not so good that comes with being a mama. Whether your children are little or grownup, there is still so much joy to be had. We just have to put off more of ourselves and put on more of Christ. His love, grace, and mercy will help us find the joy we desire.
So for me, for this mama... I want to stop the trench-living and “getting through” seasons. Life will always have obstacles to overcome, and I surely don’t want to miss out on the joy because I’m too busy trying to get through the course.
How bout it, mamas...will you join me?
With love & laughter,
Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fear.
My children are all grown now and one son even has a child of his own. Not long ago, however, I was thinking about all the things I used to worry about when they were growing up. Will they be healthy at birth? Are they secure in their car seat should we have a wreck? Will someone make a comment to them that could destroy their self-esteem? Will their friends be a good influence? Will they be introduced to drugs and alcohol before they are wise enough and strong enough to say "NO"? Will they struggle with grades? Who will they marry? Will they be loved by that person as much as I love them? Will they grow into a person running toward Jesus and not the world? So many unknowns. I don't know about you but, in my opinion, raising a child is a job too important and too enormous to do by ourselves. Christ in His grace and wisdom gives promises and directions for us and for our children.
These are just a few of many He gives us to help in this very important job:
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."2 Timothy 3:16
"For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore, I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord." 1 Samuel 1:27-28
"For I have chosen him so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just" Genesis 18:19
"All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children." Isaiah 54:13
"For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" Jeremiah 29:11
Basically He says to:
Pray for them, their friends and their future mates from the time of conception
Use scripture and the examples of Jesus as your basis for training them
Be confident that they are His children and that He loves them
Provide a good and just model for them to follow
Always know His ways are the best ways when it comes to helping pave the road ahead. Defer to Him with every decision, being careful not to take away the job which is ultimately His anyway.
Fervent prayer and knowing scripture while gaining wisdom from other seasoned, godly parents can help us parent out of faith instead of fear. Our children need to see us confident in our Heavenly Father and they need to see us looking to Him for guidance. Should they see us in our mistakes and shortcomings? Sure. I personally think it's important for them to see our struggles to a certain degree but more importantly to see us looking up when we have doubts and questions. That way they see that our faith is truly bigger than our fears or failures.
Walking the road with you,
Here's some Mom Favorites:
For the 3 month old and beyond (maybe even through teen years!), moms love the Arm and Hammer odorless refill bags for their diaper pail. Your nose will love this investment especially when solid foods are introduced!
For the 6 month old, Allyson loves the Exersaucer by Evenflow. It strengthens Titus' fine and gross motor skills as it entertains him and gives her time to fold the laundry or grade papers for school.
For the 9 month old, Lauren loves the Portable Diner Placemat by Summer. It keeps the eating surface at restaurants sanitary and the small trough catches dropped finger foods so the waitress will welcome them back the next time!
Also for the 9 month old, Harper loves her Sit and Stand Learning Walker by V-Tec. It's very sturdy and supports a wobbly toddler as she learns to take steps independently. She also loves the activities for counting, shape recognition, and learning her animal sounds that are located on the front panel.
So moms and dads, consider this your sweet baby's first Christmas Wish List! Have a great and memorable Holiday and take lots of pictures!
On Christmas Eve, 30 years ago, my then future father-in-law put together a beautiful Bentwood rocker. The pieces had been carefully crafted and the parts carefully stored in the package it had been shipped in. The packaging (I would think) would have included the instruction manual. However, like all of us at times, the Kight men didn’t always like to refer to the manual. They liked to “figure it out” on their own.
When the rocker was eventually given to me, I was also handed a bag of washers. It seems they had been overlooked during assembly. It didn’t take many months of rocking our first born son before screws started working their way loose and falling on the floor. As you can imagine, it shortly became wobbly and unsafe to rock in. No matter how much I loved that rocker, it couldn’t be as strong and durable without the washers as it could have been with them. Following the instruction manual would have made the all the difference in longevity for that special old rocker.
This is a great and meaningful idea from our PSF friend, Darby Allen, and her sister, Lacy Adams.
Darby used it as a craft during our local MOPS meeting and it was a hit for sure!
Cut the following verses out in strips and mount them on cute decorative paper. (You may even want to laminate them). Display them in appropriate places such as by you child's bed for when they wake up, by their highchair when they are eating, by the door as they leave, etc. These will remind you to stop and take a moment to pray over them at that point in their day. Let them hear you pray for them aloud. Then as they get older, if they have heard you pray these prayers, they will be able to begin reciting them for themselves. To know our 7 year old or even our 16 year old child is praying for their own spiritual and physical well-being because they have heard their mom pray it over a long span of time would be priceless! Such a great "raising kingdom kids" idea! Thanks Darby and Lacy!
Have a wonderful day with your sweet children!
For generations my family has played around the beaches of SC. I wanted those same wonderful experiences I grew up with for my children and now I love nothing better than seeing our granddaughter begin to make that same love connection with the sand and salt water. I’ve learned a lot about what works at the beach with young children and what ideas I could throw out the window. Mainly, you don’t want your day at the beach to be a military operation but there are things that can help you enjoy your day to the max.
1. Remember the sunscreen, sunglasses and hat with an "under chin" tie for your toddler. Extra care now avoids an unhappy baby later.
2. Put “stuff” in a wagon or cart of some kind so you have one hand free to keep hold of your little guy. Going to the beach or not, toddlers love to run in the opposite direction of the way you are going.
3. Bring a large Ziplock bag for those beach treasures you know your toddler will want to bring home. Also bring one for your cell phone and camera. Sometimes the upcoming tide will surprise you!
4. Put snacks in single serving containers. Simple foods such as Goldfish, Cheerios or cheese and turkey cubes put in serving size Ziplock bags work well. (Avoid sticky foods as sand will attract like a magnet!) Small bottled waters or multiple sippy cups work well, too. It’s best to take multiples of everything so if one is dropped into the sand you won’t have a crunchy mouth or a toddler meltdown.
5. Pack baby powder to put on little arms and legs before heading to the car. The wet sand brushes off so much easier when you sprinkle a little on.
6. Meat tenderizer…. Yes, meat tenderizer! From years of experience, sometimes the unplanned happens and a jellyfish swims too close for comfort. One touch and any adult or child will come barreling out of the water for relief. Meat tenderizer combined with enough water to make a paste works best . If you forget and don’t have any tenderizer, make a paste with water and sand and put it directly on the area. The pack will draw out the sting.
Catch this really cute idea!
A friend was at the beach last week and told me of a smart idea for a toddler that they saw while there. They were beside a family who had a small pool under a tent on the beach. The pool was filled with ocean water. We’ve all seen that, right? Well, here’s the cute part. Around the pool they put a 3 foot plastic garden fence (with rounded, safe edges). On the fence they tied all kinds of little toys with cute little ribbons. They even had a frozen teething ring. She said the child played there happily for a very long time and never lost a toy to the sand! When they were ready to leave, they just untied the toys, folded up the fence, packed it into their cart with the tent and chairs and away they went. So creative!
Hope these ideas help make your vacation at the coast a safe and happy one!
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.” -John 17:1
Mom 2 Mom
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