Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gut check...

The other day I took the kids to the doctor for Noah's well-visit.  On the "well" side of the waiting area there was one other mom and her daughter who appeared to be around three years old.  My kids immediately went for the basket of books and each brought me one to read, so we took turns.  I noticed that little girl was interested in the story so I read a little louder, drawing an annoyed glance from her mother.  The girl then went and got a book and took it to her mother, who this entire time was busy on her phone.  The mother read one page and went back to doing whatever it was on her phone.  The little girl just sat there with the open book in her hands looking at her mother until the nurse called them back.  No lie, it kinda broke my heart.

I will be the first to acknowledge that I have used technology to escape the pressures of motherhood.  There are times I get a little annoyed at my kids for demanding something of me when, frankly, I just want to check facebook, read this article, check a score, etc.  Then I get a reality check and feel shame for placing all those things, which are so unimportant, before the needs of my family.  What are we teaching our kids?

I came across an article claiming that American kids are found to be the most spoiled kids in the world.  No shock there.  It's easy to see that kids today are completely overindulged and spoiled.  What shocked me, and perhaps it shouldn't of, was that in the comments to this article I guestimate that 9 out of 10 commenters, mainly mothers, admitted that they spoiled their children.  They also admitted that they will continue to spoil their kids.  One commenter passed judgment on another saying that anyone giving their three year old chores was cruel.  Another stated that the guilt she felt for working long hours led to her spoiling her child and buying her whatever she wanted.

Wow people! What values we are teaching our children!  Not only do we see what we are doing is wrong, we continue to do it!  There is always a way we can justify our behavoir.   That justification we do just inhibits us from bettering ourselves and being better examples for the kids.

There are many directions I could go with this but I'll stop there.  I think you get what I'm trying to say.  In short, give your kids what really matters, you.  When they grow up and (hopefully) leave your home, they will not be lamenting over the lack of gifts, toys, gadgets they received as a child.  Instead, they will realize how very blessed they were to have you as a parent.

Blessings to you and yours today....I'm going to go enjoy mine now...

Here is a link to the blog that took me to the above referenced article.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lessons from toddlers...

Earlier today the kids and I were outside watering my plants.  As I was turning on the water faucet I got some water on my skirt and leg.  Knowing that we practically live on the surface of the sun out here, I was not too concerned about it.  I notice Noah had gone back inside the house and head towards the door to go in and see what he was doing.  He was already headed back outside and he had in his hand a towel, which he used to try and dry me off.  He went inside specifically to get something to help me out.  I was touched by his thoughtfulness.  At the tender age of two, he is already thinking of others.

What happens to us as we grow up that makes us so anethesized to the needs of others? There is a new show on television that my husband came across the other day.  I can't remember the name of it (help here Zach) but it is narrated by John Krasinski.  The premise of the show appears, after just catching a few episodes, to be about how the human brain acknowledges certain things.  For example they ran an experiment where they put a clown on an unicycle and had him literally ride circles around people who were on their cell phones.  These people never noticed the clown.  Later, the producers of the show went to the people and asked if they noticed the guy on the unicycle.  Their response was no, they didn't notice anything and they were certain they would have.  At this point the producers show them tape with evidence of the clown.  Those people were shocked to say the least.

Obviously we are so easily caught up in our own little worlds to the point of blinding us to the people around us.  How many people do we encounter on a daily basis that are in need of something and we never realize it?  And, if we are able to notice and recognize their needs, how willing are we to see that those needs are met?

Maybe I should start taking lessons from my toddler. 

Blessings to you all on this day.

Quite the role model if you look past the tantrums and nose picking.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Memories made...

Yesterday morning I had great plans for our day.  Funny thing about kids, they don't care about your plans. 

Zach got a bug in him that he needed to get a new pillow so we decided to head to the mall, grab lunch there, and then go rent a movie from Red Box.  We got to the mall and was picking out a pillow when Noah decided to throw a monster 2 year old tantrum.  Moments earlier he had been smiling and laughing, even prompting an older woman to walk by and tell us what a little gentleman he was and how she could just snatch him up.  He began screaming and before I knew it he was running down the aisle.  I leave Zach and Zoe to check out and begin the chase.  I literally chased that little monster around the entire store, all while he was screaming as loud as his little lungs could allow.  Finally I catch up to him and he goes boneless. After struggling for a few minutes I am able to wrangle him into my arms and he continues to fight me and scream.  I am beyond frustrated.  I go and grab Zoe from Zach, who is still in line to check-out, and announce we are headed to the car (much to the relief of every person in the store, I'm sure).  I see the woman who commented on wanting to take Noah with her and she wont meet my eye.  At this point she could of made me a very reasonable offer and I would of been tempted.

This guy...

We get in the car and once Zach gets there I tell him that I have reached my limits and it would be better to just go home and abandon all of our plans.  Noah continues to scream until we pull into our neighborhood, where he becomes quite pleasant once again.  Sigh...

We put the kids down for naps and crash out in front of the tv.  At this point I am wary of continuing on with the plans I had for a family movie night.  The patience I was forced to exercise in the mall has taken it's toll on me.  However, one look at my sweet daughter playing quietly changes my mind.  Plan on!

I have seen on Pinterest, in a couple of places actually, the idea to create a drive-in movie experience in your living room.  You can see one here and how far the idea can be taken.  We decided to keep it simple.

Zoe and I went to the garage and selected two big boxes, took them to the living room, and set about decorating them.  Zoe LOVED this and commented several times about how she was "just so happy."  Zach even got in the spirit and helped Zoe while I decorated Noah's box, as he was sleeping off the crankiness.
Zoe decorates her chick-mobile.

Zoe wanted her car to be a "girly" car and only pink and purple colors were allowed.  She drew windows on the inside of her box and clouds in the windows.  After the wheels were glued on she went and grabbed blankets and pillows and we made her "car" as comfy as possible.  When Noah woke up we all went to Walgreens for junk food and a movie.  Zoe decided the perfect movie snacks were popcorn, M&Ms, and Sprite.  I also grabbed a package of cookies to balance everything out.

All in all it was a great evening.  Noah loved sitting in his car as much as sister did.  They both enjoyed the movie and went to bed full of sugar.

Notice the M&M beard.

I'm glad that, even though my day didn't go as planned, I decided to continue on with this idea.  This past week I read an article (here) about a little baby with days to live.  As a memorial to this baby, his parents requested that parents everywhere serve banana splits for dinner to their kids.  In other words, give their kids a moment to remember, even if it's not healthy.  It's a way to enjoy the moment and not take any day for granted.  I must admit that was my inspiration for this evening of junk food, tv, and cardboard cars.

At the end of the day the tantrum at the store seemed trivial.  These moments at the end, the simple pleasures of a evening at home with my beautiful family, that's what will stick with us. 

May you all do something today worth remembering...

Monday, June 18, 2012


The Bechtold family had a great Father's Day.  Saturday was a late night and we had to get up early the next morning for church, so I was expecting many meltdowns.  I was proven wrong and the kids were great all day!  VBS was last week so on Sunday Zoe got up with the other children to sing in two of the services.  She did so well.  After church we took Zach out to lunch.  I was telling Zoe how proud I was that she is so willing to go up in front of the church and sing and dance.  Zach made the comment that that is something that I wouldn't have done when I was her age (which is true).  Zoe looked at me and said,"Don't worry mom, we'll practise and you'll get better." Thanks kid.

After I got a comment similar to Zach's from my mom when I was bragging to her about Zoe, it got me thinking.  When I was entering middle school I chose to follow my sister's footsteps and elect to be in band.  Like my sister I chose to play the flute.  Mom immediately enrolled my sister and me in private flute lessons.  Instead of the normal recital,s our instructor had us play before the service began at church.  I made it through only because we were able to "hide" a little in the alcove of the sanctuary while we played.

The church she had us play in was the church we sometimes attended.  Most Sundays that we went Mom would take us to Sunday School and then we would leave before worship.  When we did attend worship we would sit in the balcony away from the rest of the congregation.  I remember waking up many Sunday mornings hoping that Mom wouldn't want to go.  I hated going.

On the day of one of these recitals my Dad came to listen.  I remember this being one of the only times I had seen my Dad in church.  It was after this service that my Dad decided our family was going to be regular attenders.  NOOOOOOOO!  After my sister and I objected vehemently about having to attend this church, my parents made a choice to attend another, smaller church in town and we were promptly baptized and joined the church as a family.  We've come a long way since then.

As I was reflecting over this story I was struck with the idea of how different life would be if my dad hadn't come to listen to the flute performance.  It's obvious that God had been working in my Dad though I have no idea how.  It reminds me of that song "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going."

My Dad is one of the most amazing Christian men I have ever met.   I know that he has touched so many hearts, by his actions and his words.  He is a man that so many others can look up to and respect. 

My kids are very blessed to have this man as their "Riley."  No man has loved his grandkids more and it's so evident in every action and every moment he gives them.  Dad never hesitates to get down on the floor and put a puzzle together with them or to give them a boost into the tree outside.  Acts of love that they will carry with them their entire lives.

We are all blessed to have him in our lives and I know that he will continue to be one that my family and other will look to for guidance.

Thank God for flute lessons! 

Riley listens to Noah.

Zoe loves Riley cuddle time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

We don't judge

Several years ago I had the pleasure of getting to mentor a great group of teenage girls.  They were so much fun, they kept me young, and always had a style tip to share with me. ("Mikel, why are you wearing those 'mom' shoes?")  They taught me so much and I can only hope that I taught them a little something too.  A running gag that developed with this group was the saying, "We don't judge!"  This particular adage became a joke used between us. "You only like movies starring Mandy Moore? It's okay, we don't judge!" "You ate a pan of brownies for breakfast? It's okay, we don't judge!" Ah, I miss those girls...

This week has been another trial for me as once again I hurt my back and have been trying to take it easy.  Yesterday I tried to be productive and was adamant about leaving the house only to reinjure my back to the point I wasn't able to walk without incurring severe pain.  These days where I am frustrated and unable to do what I really want to do lead me to peruse the Internet.  I have come across all sorts of things this week.  Most of them quite disturbing.  There seems to be a lesson that a lot of people have yet to learn so let me drop a knowledge bomb on you.  Wait for it....

Christians can have fun.  There it is. Oh, and Christians can have a sense of humor.  We can enjoy life.  And we can live into the business of Christ without judging others.

 "God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?" James 4:12

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye." Matthew 7:1-5

How often have you seen this sentiment: "that's the problem with Christians, they're all hypocrites!" or "I could never be a part of a church because everyone who goes is so judgemental."

It's a shame that our own witness is keeping other's from discovering the great joy of living in Christ.  It's a terrible shame that our own actions are doing more harm than good.  Why is it so hard for us to just love? We can never hope to bring others into a relationship with Christ without first bringing them into a relationship with ourselves.  And newsflash people, no one wants to be around someone who is a judgemental hypocrite.

That's my rant for the day.  I pray that we can all look into ourselves and become the vessel that God calls us to be.

Blessings my friends!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Be Something

Be the Change.

There have been many moments that I have felt such a strong desire, a NEED, to make a difference.  I see something going on around me and think,"I have to do something about this!"  With all of my good intentions I look around and find no outlet for my efforts.  I want things to be better but I don't know what I can do to help.

This reality is most evident to me within the church.  I have been in situations where I really, really wanted to help, to be a part of something bigger than me, and just wasn't allowed in.  I have had conversations with pastors asking why the same people did everything.  I volunteered many times for many things, only to be overlooked for the veterans.

I have also seen people get burned out in the church because they were constantly doing everything.  These same people would become resentful of the church because they were the only ones asked to lead, provide, and instruct.

I want to be a part of the community.  I want the church to be bigger than itself.  I want to reach out to others.  I want to meet the needs of everyone.  Occasionally I think I even have good ideas.  I know there are other's like me, other's searching for a way to belong and assist, but they do not know where to begin.

If you are in leadership of an organization what do you do to reach out to those who may help you lead? 

If you want your organization to be successful, you must be willing to seek out ideas different from your own.  Be willing to listen to those who are searching for a way to make a difference. 

You also have to be willing to change things that need changing and help things that are in need of help.  We can't allow ourselves to be satisfied with mediocre.  We can't be okay with allowing things to fail because we were too afraid to speak up.

Don't be afraid to speak up, in a loving manner mind you, when you see something that could be handled differently.  We all have a purpose, and we are all worth listening to.

Be the change you desire in your world.  Be the difference your church needs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Point the way...

Zach is away at his first Annual Conference this week and the kids and I are at home, trucking along as usual.  We are pretty used to him being gone from his days as a Youth Pastor.  I think everyone underestimates how busy a youth pastor can be in the summer, or any time for that matter.  I know there are people in our lives who believed, and still do, that Zach only works one or two days a work and feel inclined to put work in quotations.

We have been so blessed to be able to do what we do.  We have met some incredible people and have gotten to be a part of some incredible events, all things we would have missed out on if we had "regular" jobs.  Sure, the pay's not great and sometimes the hours aren't either, but I know neither one of us would trade what we have done for all the money in the world.

Zach's trip to AC is sure to be the first of many and this fact alone gets me so excited for our future.  You see, we have a purpose.  God has great things in store for us and I can't wait to see what's next.  I know without a doubt we are on the right path.

Where is God directing you?  Are you able to see His direction through your own wordly desires?

Blessings to you all, my friends...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just ask...

If you know we well you should know that I love history and I love books.  I especially love books about history.  I love reading about things that took place way before my time and seeing parallels to my life.  It doesn't matter when you live, life is pretty much the same - hard.  You will always have problems, choices to make, and people to love.  Somethings never change.

This summer my Youth kids asked to study some stories from the Old Testament that they may have heard before but never really studied.  We are cruising through Genesis and last nights study was centered around Abraham when he was still Abram.  Here is a man that God chose to be the father of His people.  Abraham was chosen to bear a great responsibility and yet he was just a man.  He had choices to make and just like the rest of us, sometimes he took the wrong path.

We see other great men in the Bible who were chosen for great things and yet they really screwed up (see David and Solomon).  They were given everything they needed, anything they asked God for, He provided.  It was when they tried to do things on their own, without seeking God, that disaster ensued. 

We are human. We make mistakes.  We get caught up in our own lives and we forget to seek God's will in what we are doing.  When a problem arises, so often we try and fix it ourselves, instead of going to God in prayer or delving into His word to discern what path we should choose.

God gives us all we need.  All we need to do is ask...

"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." James 1:5
Thanks be to God.