Wonder, Magic & Joy

Wonder, Magic & Joy

There’s a question I’ve been pondering the last week or two. It’s one I’ve asked several times, one that’s been asked of me multiple times.

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

This question usually means, are you ready for December 25th? Do you have your gifts bought and your menu planned?

I get that.

But this question has made me think that we’ve {I’ve} relegated Christmas to just one day and that makes me sad.

When I relegate Christmas to just one day, I stress about the planning and “getting things done” instead of enjoying the entire process as “Christmastime”.

Christmas is about the preparation, the decorating, the cookie baking… not just having those things done before December 25th.

So in these last hours before December 25th, let’s commit to enjoying the journey. Let’s remember that Christmas isn’t just one day but a season of special preparations, generosity, wonder, magic and joy!

Black Friday Shopping Frenzy

Black Friday Shopping Frenzy

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers!

We will be celebrating at home with just the five of us… missing our oldest daughter as she’s away at ministry school. It’s a new season in this household, one I’m still getting used to.

But I’m looking forward to turkey dinner with the fam and hopefully some board games and movies before the kiddos head out with friends for Black Friday shopping – which now begins on Thursday. **rolling my eyes and shaking my head**

I haven’t joined the frenzy for several years now. I prefer my laptop and Amazon.com for my gifts shopping as much as possible.

If you’re like me, check out this list of things I’ll be browsing and pondering the purchase of, in about 48 hours…

 

Minecraft is new to this generation but Legos are classic. There’s a whole selection of these kits worth checking into.

Boys and girls of all ages would have fun with this crafty loom to make cool rubber band bracelets.

My four-year-old has been asking for roller skates for months. They’ve come a long way since I was young!

One of my teen daughters has Disney shirts on her list. Amazon has lots of them!

We love TOMS! In fact, it’s the only brand of shoes that my husband loves to wear daily {read: comfortable}. They have come out with so many new and cool styles over the last couple years.

Books on the Kindle don’t add to an already cluttered home. 🙂 This one is sure to please audiences of all ages! Great read aloud to kids but profound truths adults will love.

Who on your list is organized (or maybe isn’t and needs a little help?) and needs a planner to start 2017 off right? There’s so many to chose from – with prices varying.

Looking ahead to Christmas break in a few weeks, board games and puzzles are a great idea!

Movies are always a hit! One of our favorites that came out on DVD this year is “Finding Dory”. What about you?

I’m thrilled that Amazon is a one-stop shopping place for people like me, that don’t love the frenzy of the crowds on Black Friday. Great deals on gifts but low stress on me. Maybe I’ll have my Christmas shopping done by Monday – without leaving my couch!

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Write 31 Days… Year Three!

Write 31 Days… Year Three!

In 2014, I was just a couple years into my Whimsy in My Cup blog journey, though I had blogged off and on for our ministry and on a homeschool site for six years. I was getting a bit more serious about my writing – in the amount of time I put into it and with thoughts of earning somewhat of an income with my written words.

When I came across the Write 31 Days challenge, I was intrigued yet daunted by the task. I prayed about it, mused about it, thought about and ultimately jumped into that challenge in October 2014. (Find that 31 day topic and beginning post HERE) Again, last year, I pondered whether I would join in again – and I did. (Find last year’s beginning post HERE)

And here we are again, just days away from October 1st – day one of another Write 31 Days challenge. And here I am once again, excited, yet a bit daunted by the challenge and commitment. But, after much consideration and evaluation of the time commitment, I’m ready to jump in to another year of Write 31 Days!

I hope you’ll join me as I journey through some “not-so-famous” quotes and how the wisdom of the composer has affected me. Beginning on Saturday, October 1st, I will have a daily post up here at Whimsy in My Cup for the entire month of October. They’ll be quick reads but inspirational, encouraging and full of insight into life. See you on Saturday, y’all!

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Day 1: Relentlessly Kind

Day 2: Be a Path Clearer

Day 3: A Night Owl

Day 4: Fear of Arrogance

Day 5: Are You Impressed?

Day 6: Wine For the Drunk

Day 7: Rules and Relationship

Day 8: The Sin Factor

Day 9: Redefined

Day 10: Don’t Worry About It

Day 11: What Love Can Handle

Day 12: No Smoking

Day 13: Questionable Leadership

Day 14: Love Well

Day 15: Promises and Character

Day 16: God Calls it Control

Day 17: Minus Love

Day 18: Where Are You Sitting?

Day 19: Creativity

Day 20: Controlling Behavior

Day 21: Get Up!

Day 22: What’s Scary to God?

Day 23: How’s Your Performance?

Day 24: Far Better

Day 25: Not Just Healed, Whole

Day 26: Long Days

Day 27: God is in Control?

Day 28: The Same Story

Day 29: What’s the Problem?

Day 30: Too Busy or Prioritizing?

Day 31: The Play is Over

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Tips on Maintaining Connection in Relationships

Tips on Maintaining Connection in Relationships

Recently, I taught at a local ministry school on the topic of “connection”. As I was preparing for that service, I asked my Facebook friends to give me their best tips on maintaining connection in relationship.

I had over 30 comments on that Facebook post and there was a lot of wisdom that was shared. Here’s a few of my favorites, compiled, to encourage us all in the area of connection in our relationships!

1. Vulnerability is your greatest strength. We are not whole until we are in community.

2. No matter how long it’s been since you last saw them – pick up where you left off. Laugh, giggle, whisper, cry… do all the things you did that started the friendship.

3. Don’t become too busy that you let your friends and family go.

4. Authentic, vulnerable, purposeful communication and interaction. Looking into someone’s eyes… actually seeing their face.

5. Time is so valuable. Time, unconditional time.

6. Selflessness. Connecting with the other person in the way they need connection, rather than your mode of connection.

7. Intentionality. Without it, life just goes by and we forget to connect.

8. Creating a safe place where people feel they can trust and be trusted. In that place, vulnerability happens and somehow communication seems easier. 

9. Connection is being with the person in their moment of happiness, sadness, etc… not trying to put your agenda first, but seeking to understand what that person needs in the moment. 

10. Sometimes it was late at night when our son REALLY wanted to talk… so we stayed up!

11. Boundaries for me are crucial in maintaining healthy relationships.

12. Eye to eye connection… So many people are lonely because God created us for heart to heart, soul to soul connection – not a wi-fi connection.

13. The hardest part of communication for me is the first step. Pick up the phone and ask to get together. I procrastinate or think I’m too busy to do one of the most important things Jesus asks us to do.

~By: my wise Facebook friends 😉

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Parenting with Resentment or Servanthood?

Parenting with Resentment or Servanthood?

When our kids are young, we serve them because we’re ‘forced’ to. We love them and know they need cared for, so we serve them by taking care of their needs. It’s often not very many months into this act of servanthood, that we realize how hard parenting actually is.

As the kids get older and more independent, we gladly and, often, quickly, shift some of those things we do to “serve” them, onto them. They now feed themselves, dress themselves, use the potty by themselves (somebody praise Him), and even can clean up after themselves. And there’s nothing wrong with this.

What I have seen and what I know from personal experience, though, is that resentment has often settled in by this point. At the root of our hearts, is a resentment for all the years we had to serve them and we now have a you owe me so do it yourself attitude. Oh, I don’t think we would ever voice this or even pay any attention to it. But if we honestly dig to the bottom of our hearts, I think it’s often there.

It wasn’t until the Lord put His finger on my heart about it a few years ago that I had that aha moment of “oh my gosh, I DO have resentment in my heart towards my kids.” No one really wants to admit that.

As I was pondering parenting and applying the 5 love languages in order to love my kids well, I was thinking about acts of service and what that really looks like in parenting. And I realized that it looked like sometimes showing my kids my love for them by doing things for my kids that they can do themselves.

I wrestled with this for a while. I don’t want to be an enabler. I do want to raise kids that can take care of themselves when the time comes. I don’t want to continue to do every thing for them that they can do themselves. I do want them to be secure and confident in my love for them.

And so, I do want to serve them. Jesus said, “…Among you, the greatest must become like the youngest and the leader must become a true servant.” (Luke 22:26 The Voice)

I am the parent and the leader, therefore I must become a true servant. Besides demonstrating my love to them, I am teaching them how to be servants.

I looked up the word serve in the dictionary. One definition really stood out to me, “to be favorable, suitable or convenient”. This is a definition that I don’t automatically apply when thinking about serving my kids, but I think it’s the kind of serving Jesus has in mind when He tells us to,

“…Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35 The Voice)

As believers, we like to think about outreach to the homeless or those in other countries or even those that don’t attend our church, but what if it starts with demonstrating our love towards our kids? In ways they can receive it. If we have to try to convince our kids that we love them, maybe we should re-evaluate the way we are loving them.

My kids clean their own rooms, make their own lunch, do their own laundry… so when I jump in and fold their clothes, I’m demonstrating my love for them by serving them – being favorable and a convenience to them.

Sometimes we’d rather serve the whole world than serve the ones we are ‘the boss of’. But, it’s in those moments of serving the youngest, that we are becoming great in the eyes of the King.

 

“So Jesus called the disciples together. Do you want the Kingdom run like the Romans run their kingdom? Their rulers have great power over the people, but God the Father doesn’t play by the Romans’ rules. This is the Kingdom’s logic: whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant; whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as the ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28 (The Voice)

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From Hopelessness to Dreaming Again

From Hopelessness to Dreaming Again

Many of my readers know, in the Spring of 2015, I miscarried a son at 20 weeks gestation. At that time, I had already oriented to what life was going to look like come that October. My oldest would be completing her senior year of high school at home, mostly self-taught. Our middles would be attending public school for the first year in a while and our toddler would be doing preschool with mom as teacher, while being big sister for the first time.

I was already preparing myself for life with a toddler and newborn, as well as three teenagers, and I was happy about it.

So, when my pregnancy ended abruptly and with no baby in my arms, my life was shattered, as well as the future I was already dreaming of. I had no idea how or when I would ever be able to dream of a different future.

journey through the door amazonBy mid-summer, though, the Lord was stirring an old dream in my heart. Write and release a book. By His extravagant grace, that book was completed and then released just four months later, in November 2015.

 

But at the beginning of this year, I knew there was more to my future and I had absolutely no idea what it was. Of course, I enjoyed being wife and mama and the ministry capacities I was already serving in, but I struggled with hopelessness, that bordered on depression, for months. Until the Lord met me once again and began to restore hope. And a dream.

Holy Spirit rekindled a dream from a few years ago, of a ministry to women, for women. Honestly, I am still dreaming of all that it will be. But, for now, I have little pieces, little glimpses of what the Lord has for my future – the plans and purposes He has for me – to impact the world around me. Specially the world of women.

Part of that dream and that future is the launch and continued development of a new ministry and community called Wholly Woman Fully Alive. 

Wholly Woman Fully Alive is all about empowering women with the tools they need to thrive in life and walking alongside them in their journey to wholeness and freedom – body, soul and spirit.

The first piece of this ministry is our Facebook page, Wholly Woman Fully Alive, that went live TODAY. Please go “like” our page and share it with all of your female friends!

The second piece of WWFA is our website and blog that will launch in less than two weeks, on Tuesday, September 13th! To make sure you don’t miss that launching or any future WWFA blog posts, please sign up for our WWFA mailing list HERE. Share this link with all your friends, gal readers!

A third piece of WWFA is still in the dream stage. That is the launching of a 3-session seminar, empowering women in finding wholeness and freedom, body, soul and spirit.

There is much more swirling around in my spirit for the future of Wholly Woman Fully Alive. And that, dear friends, is really the point of this post.

I went from having my future and dreams dashed to pieces that led to a season of “what the heck” and hopelessness to a season of the Lord breathing His hope and dreams into me once again.

No matter what season you may find yourself in today, He is near and He is faithful. His dreams for you and in you are beyond all that you can ever hope and imagine. Hold on tight, you may have no idea what is just around the corner for you!

Join the WWFA Community:

Facebook

Instagram

Website

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P.S. What’s going to happen with Whimsy in My Cup? Well, I will continue with my “Whimsical Wednesday” posts through September. In October, look for my participation in “Write 31 Days” for the third year! 🙂

 

 

The Best Parenting Years of My Life

The Best Parenting Years of My Life

Let’s look at the question of sending your kids to public school versus homeschooling them. For many of you, this is a no-brainer. There is not and never has been any other option than sending them to public school. Normal  American people send their kids to school. And most send them to government-funded public education buildings.

But for me it’s different. I was raised a very scant minority in the later 80’s but a growing minority into the 90’s, by being homeschooled from 3rd grade on. It was a new thing for our era. Not many did it. But it was my normal. So, after I got married and we started having kids, it was just normal to think I would homeschool our little people. And I did for a couple years.

When we moved to a smaller community a couple years later and continued to homeschool that year, I began to feel like we should maybe put the kids in school. Our oldest was approaching her 3rd grade year. Our middle daughter would be ready for kindergarten. It was a scary thought, homeschooling had been my normal for most of my life. I heard all kinds of scary things about public schools from those that thought homeschooling was THE ONLY way for true Christians. I had no argument, as I hadn’t stepped foot in a classroom since 3rd grade and most of my friends were homeschoolers too.

But the Lord was speaking and we obeyed. We put our kids into one of the rural schools near us. And let me tell you, those were the best parenting years ever. Not because, my kids were now gone all day and I could sit on the couch and eat bonbons (is that too old school cliche?) but because my relationship with my kids began to strengthen in ways that it never would have while homeschooling. Not that homeschooling parents can’t develop and have great relationships with their kids but I was not doing that. For me, after I was teacher for a few hours, I was done with my kids. Go play, go… do something. I. am. done.

But now that someone else was teaching them, I had the energy and the heart to get to know them better. To hear about their day, to know their struggles. We drove the kids to school nearly 20 minutes every morning and then back home 20 minutes every afternoon. Those were some of the most precious times of my life with my kids to this point. Then our lives transitioned. We would no longer be pastoring but my husband would begin to travel full-time in ministry. We had two options – let him go alone or take the kids out of school and go with him. For the sake of the family (and obedience to the Lord), we took the kids out, moved to a tiny apartment back in my hometown and traveled the world, homeschooling our kids for another season.

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My 3 school girls (2016)

We are now over seven years into this itinerate life and made a change last year once again. Our oldest daughter finished out her senior year as a homeschooler and we put our two middles back in public school once again. This year, our youngest joins them at the same school for her preschool year. And they are all thriving. WE are thriving (though it was a VERY rough start last year. You can read about it HERE **).

ju preK
Gah! My happy preschooler (2016)

As I have learned about breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, SAHM vs. career woman, discipline methods, and all the other stuff that goes with parenting… these are only the methods to get to what truly matters. The true issue is not how your kids get an education but that you are being intentional about building a relationship with them.

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**This linked article was written for Her View From Home.

 

Finding Strength in the Psalms

Finding Strength in the Psalms

I’m like many – the book of Psalms is my go-to when I don’t know where to read in my Bible. As a busy mama, I know that I can always nourish my spirit with even one verse or short chapter of this book of poetry and truth.

A couple years ago, someone introduced me to The Passion Translation (TPT) of the Bible. The entire bible is not yet translated but they have released several books that come just like that, in individual (or a couple) book form.

The Passion Translation is one of my most favorite versions to read the Psalms from. Here’s a few verses that have ministered to me over the last few weeks. I pray they minister to you and I encourage to check out “Poetry on Fire”… TPT of the Psalms!**

“God, you’re such a safe and powerful place to hide! You’re a proven help in time of trouble; more than enough and always available whenever I need you.” (Ps. 46:1)

“Lord, as we worship you in your temple we recall over and over Your kindness to us and your unending love.” (Ps. 48:9)

“The life that pleases Me is a life lived in the gratitude of grace…” (Ps. 50:23a)

“For the source of Your pleasure is not in my performance or the sacrifices I might offer to you.” (Ps. 51:16)

“But the Lord God has become my wraparound Shield. He leans into my heart and lays his hands upon me!” (Ps. 54:4)

“So here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Leave all your cares and anxieties at the feet of the Lord, and measureless grace will strengthen you.” (Ps. 55:22)

 

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**Affiliate links are used in this post. This means if you use these links to order, your price remains the same but I earn a few pennies to put towards my coffee budget! 😉

Is it Even Possible to Have a Quiet Time as a Christian Mom?

Is it Even Possible to Have a Quiet Time as a Christian Mom?

Blogger’s note: Whimsy in My Cup is not purely a ‘women’s blog’ or a ‘mommy blog’ but today’s post is geared to all my mama’s out there! 

I’ve been a Christian since I was 7 years old. I’ve been a mom for nearly 18 years. All of my life, I’ve heard that, to be a good Christian, you have to

read your Bible,

pray and

go to church.

We don’t always use that wording but it seems that these are the three things Christianity is often boiled down to.

I think these are three very good things to do. I also think that this narrow view of what a Christian is and the ability to check off (or not) these things, is actually a detriment to, what is supposed to be a very real and experiential relationship with a very real and near God.

The days we cannot tick off the “big three”, we judge and condemn ourselves and, because of the shame, pull away from the Lord. The more this happens, we can find ourselves feeling a million miles away from the One with whom we long to have a relationship.

Throw motherhood into this equation and we have many women feeling as though being both a “mommy” and a “good Christian” is pretty much impossible. We barely have time for a shower, how do we have time to pray and read our Bibles and, some weeks, even get to church on Sunday?

I know incredible women who have woken up earlier than their children all their lives to get that daily Bible and prayer time in. I admire that and wish I could have been disciplined enough to do that, but it’s not been my experience. Does that mean there’s no hope for me, as a busy mom, to be a good Christian as well? A big fat no!

Because, here’s the deal – though we need to spend time in the Word, we need to pray and of course, go to church – it doesn’t have to always have to look like 60, 30 or even 15 minutes of uninterrupted “quiet time”.

If being a Christian truly is a relationship, not a bunch of rules or behavioral standards, we can totally do relationship in the midst of mommying. Here’s a few keys…

Don’t read your Bible to check it off the “good Christian” daily list. Read it to feed your spirit. Sometimes you only get a verse or two read. And that’s OK! One simple, yet profound, truth from his living Word can nourish your spirit all day long (or even a couple days if that’s the way life rolls).

You don’t have to hide yourself in the closet to pray. Prayer truly is “having a conversation with God”. It’s lovely to have an uninterrupted conversation – I don’t get many of them as a mom, how about you? You can have a running conversation with God all. day. long. Prayer doesn’t have to be a religious, bow your head and close your eyes, time. Just talk to Him throughout your day, telling Him how you’re feeling, asking for His wisdom and help, and expecting Him to talk back!

And the last of the big three… Going to church. I highly recommend being involved in a family of believers – we need each other. If you miss a week because… you know, life… don’t get condemned, go the next Sunday. Can’t be involved in every service or small group throughout the week? Embrace the season you’re in, and connect where you can.

Our relationship with the Lord is an eternity-long connection. Don’t let crazy human standards heap shame on you. Connection doesn’t look the same for every body and every relationship. The important thing is you don’t disconnect or pull away from Him. Draw near, any way you can, in the midst of the craziness of life and parenting. He promises, if you draw near to Him, He’ll draw near to you! (James 4:8)

 

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August Challenge: Four Steps to Starting the School Year Right

August Challenge: Four Steps to Starting the School Year Right

The other day, while beginning to clean off my desk, I became painfully aware of the need for the “end of summer regroup”. It happens every year, about August or September, I become more goal-centered, organize-savvy, and just all around feel a need for a regroup. Last year, I called it Operation: Get My Sh** Together (read about it HERE).

This year I don’t feel as it’s near as drastic as that but I definitely feel the need for the re-organizing and re-evaluating on what’s up in my life right now. And I certainly need to get on top of my home management – finances, cleanliness and the like have been put on the back burner all summer.

I’m not too sorry about that, as we’ve had a wonderful family-centered summer but now that school’s about to start back up… it’s time.

Here’s what I’m doing over the month of August to start the Fall season off fresh and clean. Join me!

Clean out my space. My little office area consists of a desk and a few drawers right in the middle of the family living area. It collects not only my home, business and ministry things but often, everyone else’s too. Time to clear the clutter… most of which will hit the garbage can!

Dust off my planner. Most of the summer, we’ve been on the road so there hasn’t been much need for a planner to keep track of activities and appointments. But now, school open houses, dance lessons and youth activities are ramping back up,  and I’m not going to make it through the next several weeks without writing it all down!

Make my “kids are in school” to-do list. I don’t know about you, but any sort of cleaning or DYI projects I have on my list do not get accomplished when the kids are home. (mainly because if the kids are home – we’re on the road!) But now that all kids will be gone at least half the day, I’m ready to tackle our overgrown storage room – among a few other projects this fall and winter!

Create a dreams and goals chart. This is often a beginning of the new year task but I find this back-to-school season actually seems more fitting to goal-setting and dreaming. This summer, I started a new business so I’m ready to get my business goals on paper. I’ve been dreaming of launching a consulting/coaching business for years and I think this Fall is the time. Where’s the poster board and gold sharpie? “Write the vision, make it plain…” ** has been shouting at me!

Who’s going to join me in these 4 steps this month? What other tips do you have for getting life back on track after the summertime break? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

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P.S. The books linked below are catalystic in my life as I jump into this month of organizing, dreaming and achieving! If you order through the links below, your price will not change but, as an Amazon affiliate, I will receive a few pennies for your order. 🙂

**Habakkuk 2:2