"Here comes da judge!"

Once upon a time I did consider a career in law. And I have been told I missed my calling when my 'overdeveloped sense of justice' kicks in. Every once in a while though I get the opportunity to play judge (like in Mrs. Nieschultz' 5th grade class when we were learning about the judicial system and did a mock trial).

This one is a lot more fun though. My sweet friend Julie Carobini writes wonderfully 'beachy' books. (I am completely envious that she gets to hang out in some of my favorite coastal towns soaking in the atmosphere as 'research.')

In honor of her latest release, her publisher, B&H, is having a contest. The prize is two Adirondack chairs similar to the ones on the cover of Julie's book "Sweet Waters." All you have to do is take a photo of where you'd put the chairs, and email it to B&H. You can find all the details here.

And here's the fun part (for me). I get to help judge the contest! It's not about right and wrong, and won't do anything about that sense of justice, but hey! I do love being asked for my opinion, so it still scratches an itch for me!

So snap away and send in a photo. You might not live near the beach, but maybe you can sit in one of these cool chairs, read one of Julie's books and imagine yourself there on the sand, the waves lapping at your feet. Ahhh...what a great way to end the summer!

Getting it right

This parenting business is Hard.

I always knew it would be. That was part of the reason we waited so long to start a family. I honestly wasn't sure I'd be up to the task.

Now that we're 6 1/2 years in, sometimes I feel like I have more days when I miss than get it right. Every once in a while though, it all comes together and I know I got it right.

The boys were being their typically rambunctious selves after church, so I suggested they go run around outside instead of tearing across the platform or up and down the aisles. My parting shot as I prepared to follow them, "and no playing with the rocks!"

So, as I rounded the corner to head out the door, what do I see through the glass panel? Bug grabbing a handful of landscape gravel and scattering it across the sidewalk!

Normally I'd end up shouting after him, "Hey! I said no rocks!" But in one of those rare flashes of wisdom, I said "You're going to have to clean that up." I got an over-the-shoulder, "Ok," as he scampered off.

I located a broom and retrieved him from the playground to sweep the gravel back into the border. He didn't do it perfectly, (he is only 6), but it was one of those times he got to see the natural consquences of his disobedience.

It wasn't a big thing, but for at least that moment of the day, I thought, "Hey! Maybe there's hope for me after all!"

I bet you've had a moment like that recently too. A simple situation, no fanfare, no pats on the back; just one instance in a day that might have been otherwise frustrating, annoying or just ordinary, where you knew you got it right. The right word of encouragement, the right correction, the right life-lesson. A confidence-building moment for you as a mom. Share it here, tell a friend...make note of it and give yourself the credit you deserve.

5 Minutes for Faith--Wilting in the Shade

Mom Blogs
I'm posting today at 5 Minutes for Faith. I'd love if you'd stop by and let me know if you get enough 'natural light' in your spiritual life, or do you settle for 'artificial illumination?'

"I want what I want."

After a full day of fun summer-vacation things--free movie at the theater, meeting Hubs for lunch, a train ride through the forest (twice) and an unexpected bonus dinner with Grandma and Grandpa--you'd think (at least, I did), that the kids might be tired and cooperative.

Well, their energy seems to know no bounds, but their obedience definitely does. And I get tired of the sound of my own voice "Stop that!" "Come here!" "Don't!" "Quit!" "Time out!!!"

During the short visit with my parents I had to sit between the boys because I couldn't get them to stop wrestling at the booth. I couldn't get Boo to say "Sorry" to my mom when he stepped on her foot. Bug went dashing across the lawn (which was ok) and then crashing through the bushes (which was not) straight toward the 8-lane road on the other side--all the while completely ignoring my tactful, peaceful instructions to "STOP! GET OUT OF THE BUSHES! COME BACK HERE! NOW!!!"

At that point I gave up. I buckled them into their car seats and went to my parents car across from us to get something from my mom. Next thing I know, both boys are unbuckled (only Bug can do that) and they've opened the door of the van and are headed into the parking lot. And thus ended our visit.

Although the mayhem didn't end there. Boo wandered off in a store and didn't answer when I called--loudly; I'll spare you the play-by-play because I know you have other things to do today.

That evening at bedtime with Bug, I was reviewing just how disobedient a day it was.

M-"Did you hear me yelling at you to stop?"
M-"Why didn't you stop then?"
B-"Sometimes I just want what I want." That pretty much explains it, doesn't it?
I gave him speech #27; the one about "I don't say those things to spoil your fun or just to keep you from doing something you want. Almost all the time when I tell you to stop, or don't, or no, it's to keep you safe or keep you from making a mistake. Sometimes I can see that what looks like a good idea to you is actually going to be a bad thing."

I shouldn't be surprised at it any more, but it still catches me off-guard when God uses my own voice to lecture me. How often do I disregard His warnings--"Don't watch that, it's only going to lead to discontent." "Don't eat that, it's going to undermine your efforts to be healthier." "Don't read that, it will set up unrealistic expectations..." Those are some of the little things, but there are certainly bigger ones as well.

He doesn't send me these prompts to spoil my fun. On the contrary, His warnings are always because He can see the big picture. And in His desire for me to have all the best, He wants to keep me from the things that will take away from that.

Lord, help me replace my "I want what I want," attitude with "I want what You want for me."

Not a Pretty Picture

I put on my best Super-Nanny impression, "Do you know why you got a time out?" I asked my six year old.

His summary for the punishment for using the window-painting kit after I specifically said, "Not right now," caught me off guard.

"Because I didn't make a beautiful picture?"

He completely overlooked the mess on the walls and curtain and window, not to mention the plain old disobedience he and his brother exhibited. But it kind of broke my heart to hear that he thought I was upset that his artistic efforts didn't meet my expectations.

It was another of those moments where my mom-heart got a glimpse of my Father's heart.

How often do we try and try to "make pretty pictures" to please Him and mistakenly feel the same way when our efforts fall short, when in truth, it's really the sin/evil/wrong in our hearts that grieve and displease Him.

I recently wrote an article about holiness (for the August issue of Exemplify Online). One of the overarching themes I found as I studied the topic is that it isn't our actions that keep us from God's approval, it's our hearts.

It's not that we don't serve in church enough or feed the homeless enough, or read the Bible or pray enough. The problem comes when we do those things looking for brownie points. We serve to look good to those around us. We study the Bible so we can have all the answers with our study group or because we feel like God will look on us with more favor when we do.

In the process, we miss the point that He probably wouldn't care if each day we got nothing more done than feeding our children and keeping them from harm if we do it from a heart of stewardship over the lives He's entrusted to us and the weighty responsibility to raise them "in the fear and admonition of the LORD."

We take our very human tendency to be people-pleasers to an extreme and apply it to our relationship with God too. But in the same way I wasn't concerned with the "beauty" of my sons' artistic attempts, God isn't concerned with the statistics of ministries we lead or hours logged in study.

A friend recently summed it up, "God doesn't care about what we do as much as He cares about who we are." Couldn't have said it better myself!

(Now, does anyone know how to get window paints off walls, curtains and aluminum window frames?)

A warm welcome to Exemplify Online readers! I'd love to know if you stopped by from the magazine.

And to my faithful friends and followers, I'm back from various trips that kept me offline. I'll be doing a much better job keeping up with things around here--there'll be more kids' devotions and recipes, book reviews, and a modified Ruby Tuesdays will return in September. I look forward to reconnecting with you here and at your place(s). I've missed you!

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