If you've followed my blog much this year, you know it's been a very hard year for me.
In January, after a couple years of trying to get pregnant again, I miscarried. I have been blessed that I've never experienced much tragedy in my life. All of my grandparents lived into my adulthood, and one set is still here to bless my children. It also was pretty much unheard of for anyone in my family to miscarry. Never even entered the realm of the possible.
It has been a year of walking through shadows and valleys I never imagined. A year of wrestling with God. A year of demanding to know the unanswerable why. A year of fighting to trust Him even when I couldn't see Him.
A year of reaching out as I grieved and learned. A year of yelling to be understood. A year of fighting through pain as I watched friend after friend have their precious babies.
A year of begging God to put the pieces of my fractured heart back together. A year of kisses from heaven as friends and acquaintances prayed for me and let me know I wasn't alone.
A year of learning just how many women live with the pain and grief of a miscarriage. A year of being determined not to let this experience be in vain. A year of begging God to redeem the pain. To turn it into good as only He can.
It's been a year of fighting through until I am seated at His feet. Sometimes with tears pouring down my cheeks. Sometimes with no words at all. Sometimes with my arms thrust wide, head thrown toward heaven . Sometimes bowed to the ground.
A year of anticipating grief. Each month of what should have been my pregnancy. The week I probably would have given birth. The due date. The events I should have taken a baby, too.
A year of being surprised by grief. Holding a friend's baby that was born around my due date. Being so happy for them, and so incredibly sad for me. Of gritting my teeth and groaning that it wasn't about me. Of holding that baby as a three month old and being socked in the gut all over again by fresh, unadulterated grief.
You see, I can know I have treasure in heaven. But right now, I still long for that treasure to be in my arms.
But through it all, I can see God's hand. And I am thankful. Thankful for the nurses who cried along with me during pre-op and recovery. Thankful for neighbors who held me as I cried. Thankful for a pastor's wife who has walked this road and could point me to the other side -- even before I was ready to hear that there was another side.
Thankful for the real way I have had to walk my faith. Thankful that God is good. All the time. Thankful that God will never leave me or forsake me. Thankful that God collects every tear that I cry. Thankful that Jesus stands at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for me. Thankful that the Holy Spirit knows exactly how to pray when my words are too bound up inside.
Thankful that I can now relate on a gut-level way with an entire group of women. Thankful that God uses everything for His good. Thankful that what the enemy intended for evil will instead be turned into good.
And I am thankful that someday I will see this little Gabriel/Gabriella -- even as I long to hold him/her in my arms now.
Cara C. Putman Canteen Dreams -- October 2007; Sandhill Dreams -- May 2008 and Captive Dreams -- September 2008 (Heartsong Presents) Deadly Exposure -- June 2008 (LI Suspense) http://www.caraputman.com Craftie Ladies of Suspense http://ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com Original Writer for Jake Tremaine at Scenes & Beans: http://kannerlake.blogspot.com
This is from The Christian Post. Survey: Many Christian Parents Choose to Satisfy Children Over God By Nathan Black (Christian Post Reporter Tue, Nov. 20 2007 11:39) I'd love to hear your thoughts, do you find the article's conclusion true or false?
Despite concern over the negative influence of media on young people, Christian parents are likely to spend more than $1 billion on media products this Christmas season, a new survey showed.
Seventy-eight percent of Christian parents had purchased DVDs of movies and TV programs in the past year for their teenagers and 87 percent had purchased DVDs for their children under 13, the latest Barna Group study found. Yet 26 percent of them did not feel comfortable with the DVD products they purchased.
About six out of 10 parents bought music CDs for their teen children but one out of every three of them had concerns about the content. Also, slightly more than half of all Christian parents had purchased video games for their children yet nearly half (46 percent) of parents of teens admitted to concerns about the content of those games.
Christian parents who were generally the least comfortable with the content of the media products purchased were non-whites and parents involved in a house church, according to the survey, which was released Monday. Those most comfortable were single parents, mothers and parents least active in practicing their faith. Moreover, the study found that the more media consumed by the parent, the more comfortable they were with all forms of media they bought for their children.
The survey results come at a time when prominent youth leader Ron Luce of Teen Mania says for the first time in American history, youth are saturated with media influence. And media culture today is more sexualized – with point and click pornography – and more violent than ever.
The Parents Television Council (PTC), a non-profit organization that focuses on family-friendly television programming, reported earlier this year that television violence has increased 75 percent since 1998 and that the increase may pose a threat to children who may mimic what they see.
"Millions of Christian parents want to appear to be relevant in their children’s eyes, and to provide gifts that fit within the mainstream of postmodern society," George Barna, lead researcher of the latest study, noted. "The problem is that many of the entertainment products that meet those criteria conflict with the moral precepts of the Christian faith. Parents have to make a choice as to what is more important: pleasing their kids’ taste and sensibilities, or satisfying God’s standards as defined in the Bible. When the decision made is to keep their children happy, the Christian parent is often left with a pit in their stomach."
Among other media purchases that Christian parents had purchased for their children were magazines (51 percent), with 31 percent saying they were not very comfortable with the content. Thirty-nine percent bought their teens computer software although 24 percent were not comfortable with the software.
Researcher Barna noted that selecting appropriate Christmas gifts is "a microcosm of the spiritual tension millions of Christian adults wrestle with."
"Many Christian parents are striving to serve two conflicting masters: society and God. They refuse to believe that they cannot satisfy both," he said. "Sadly, this Christmas season will produce enormous stress for numerous Christian parents who don’t want to disappoint either God or their children, but whose ultimate choices will disappoint both God and themselves, while providing gifts that are not in the best interests of their children. For Christians, the Christmas season should be a time of celebration and appreciation of the life of Jesus Christ. Instead, that joy is being minimized by the pressure and confusion introduced by our focus on material consumption and fulfillment."
The Barna report is based on a nationwide survey on 601 Christian adults who were the parents of children between the ages of 2 and 18.
And here are some foods that were NOT on the menu : ~~Ham: There is no evidence that the colonists had butchered their pigs though they had brought such animals with them from England. ~~Sweet Potatoes/Potatoes: These were not common. ~~Corn on the Cob: Corn was kept dried out at this time of year. ~~Cranberry Sauce: The colonists had cranberries but no sugar. ~~Pumpkin Pie: Hard to make without sugar, plus the recipe didn't exist at this time. However, the pilgrims had recipes for stewed pumpkin. ~~Chicken/Eggs: We know that the colonists brought hens with them from England, but it's unknown how many they had left at this point or whether the hens were still laying. ~~Milk: No cows had been aboard the Mayflower, though it's possible that the colonists used goat milk to make cheese.
So what will be on your table tomorrow? A contemporary or an historic feast? I'd love to hear the oddball things that end up on your table every year...like frozen fruit salad --what is that?
Also, don't miss the recipe for cookies Amy's got on her post! I'm wondering how I can subtly hint that she should whip up a special batch for her good friend...do you think it would work if I offered to pay for the overnight shipping? :)
There's a Veggie Tales song about Thankful Hearts. One of the lines goes something like, "a thankful heart is a happy heart, I'm glad for what I have, that's an easy place to start..."
Let me wax philosophical for a moment here. I am a poli sci major after all. Somewhere along the road, as a nation we've lost the ability to be thankful for what we have. I remember seeing news clips where people on welfare state that cable TV is a staple, a necessity of their lives. It's an American way of life.
How often do we step back and cultivate an attitude of being thankful for what we have? Happy with what we have? Blessed with what God has granted?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines thankful as: Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful. The Random House Unabridged Dictionary compares thankful and grateful in the following way: Grateful indicates a warm or deep appreciation of personal kindness as shown to one: grateful for favors; grateful to one's neighbors for help in time of trouble. Thankful indicates a disposition to express gratitude by giving thanks, as to a benefactor or to a merciful Providence; there is often a sense of deliverance as well as of appreciation: thankful that one's life was spared in an accident; thankful for the comfort of one's general situation.
I want to cultivate a life that is grateful for what's been given to me. I drive a nice, dependable vehicle. Why should I covet what somebody else has? God has provided a wonderful job to Eric that in turn provides a great roof over our heads. The home is large, and allows us to host many different groups, something that is important to me. Why should I want for more? My closet is full of stylish clothes that fit. My bookshelves are lined with books I love and movies I enjoy. What more could I ask for.
Yet it's easy to slip into an attitude that covets the house my friends has on two acres in the country. (Do I really want to live in the country?!?!? Me thinks the yard might be overwhelming). Or I think I need more clothes, more books, more fill in the blank here.
And as I raise my kids, this sense of entitlement to more is placed squarely in front of my face. I want to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in them. A spirit that turns to their heavenly Father to provide all of their needs. A spirit that can distinguish between needs and wants. It's a challenge, but I want to rise to meet it.
So as Thanksgiving approaches here are a few more things I am thankful for:
A husband who provides very well for his family.
A husband who works hard so that we do not want for anything.
A God who provides all of our needs according to His riches and glory.
A home that more than adequately shelters us.
A home that can be a ministry tool as we open it up to others.
Vehicles that are dependable to get us to jobs and ministries.
A God who loves me without abandon, and who's mercies are new every morning.
A God of second chances.
A God who does not waste any experience that I have.
So what do you do in your family to cultivate thankfulness? And what are you thankful for this year?
Basketball has begun and John and I have decided it's our favorite season of they year. Why? We get to watch our kids play. Get to hang out with cool homeschooling families. Get to sit side-by-side in the bleachers and chat about nothing and everything. (When we're not screaming our heads off, that is!) Get to travel all around Montana for games (up to five hours away for one game!) Hang out with our kids in the car, talk, eat out, stay in hotel rooms and have fun as a family!
Here are photos of the first scrimmage. We lost but Cory (#15) did GREAT! It's his last season and he's giving it his all.
The cool thing is when we got in the car.
Cory: That was sooo cool.
Mom: Yeah, you played really good.
Cory: No, not that. Did you see that guy guarding me? He was in my face and rude when we started, muttering all sorts of things under his breath, but I helped him up when I knocked him down. I high-fived him when he had a good play. And by the end of the night he was smiling and patting me on the back.
Now THAT put a smile on this mom's face.
It was totally cool because the school we played against was a boarding/rehabilitation school for kids who've been in trouble and are under treatment. They've had hard lives brought on by bad choices, and I like to think that after we left they wondered just what was different about these players.
And, in this mom's opinion, that was a WINNING game.
On Wednesdays nights I lead a Ladies’ Bible Study at church. Right now we’re discussing Get Out of that Pit by Beth Moore (great book, by the way!).
There’s a fantastic group of women who participate in the study, and I love the intense and vulnerable discussions we have.
As I was sitting there last night, I had to smile. You wouldn’t believe how many times someone would give an illustration for a point and it would include an antidote about kids.
Now this is a room full of mothers - of all ages. Some of us have young kids, some of us are grandmas. Some of us are just now looking at an empty nest. But I think all of us have at least one child.
And frequently when we’re discussing what God does with us - especially related to His loving discipline, we’ll start by saying something like, "now think about what you do with your kids…" I’m probably the worst offender. As the leader I get to kick off discussions, pull the comments others make into the framework, and keep things moving. So often, I’ll use me as an example. And if I love my kids enough to allow them to experience the consequences of some of their decisions or to yank them back from the edge of danger, how much more God does.
So how have your kids revealed part of God’s nature and character to you lately?
Trish Berg featured this great resource for late-in-life mommies on her blog!
This week, I want to introduce you to Beth Vogt. She is a mother, author, speaker, and dear friend of mine. Instead of just reviewing her awesome book, I wanted to let her answer some of your questions in a sort of "blook" tour...an online book tour on a blog.
So, here are a few to get you started. And if you want to ask
Beth something, anything (except maybe how many dust bunnies are under her bed or if she dies her hair...) just post a comment here, and she will chime in throughout the week and answer them.
As for my two cents - Baby Changes Everything is a wonderful book full of wit and wisdom, and hope for moms of every age. Post your comments by Sunday 5:00 EST and your name will be entered in the drawing to win a SIGNED copy of Baby Changes Everything.
That’s right! I went Dutch! I had the great honor of going over to The Netherlands to tour with the Dutch translation of The Splitting Storm, Storm Gathering, Storm Surge and Boo. It was an incredible experience. The people were very warm, friendly and TALL! Along with my Dutch publisher, Kees Bezemer, my husband and I went from bookstore to bookstore. I think we nearly covered the entire country! And it paid off. The Splitting Storm was #1 for June, July and August. It doesn’t get too much more exciting than that.
While I was there, I did a lot of talks on tornados. As you know I have a great interest in tornados. It was especially fun in the Netherlands because they don’t have tornados! So you won’t believe what happened. While I was over there, they had a tornado! It made front-page news because it is so rare. I was teased that I may have brought a bit of Oklahoma with me. Ironically, their beloved and well-known meteorologist was over in my part of the country chasing tornados! He comes over every year. I bet he was mad that he missed the one tornado in their country!
I toured Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Urk, Gouda, just to name a few! We even went up to the northern tip of The Netherlands to view the North Sea and get to know the people of Friesland, who speak an entirely different language than Dutch. One of the highlights was seeing Madurodam, which is a miniature version of the entire country.
However, the best part of the trip was meeting Dutch readers and introducing new readers to my books. It is a little mind blowing to know that on the other side of the world people are reading my books! It is such a blessing.
We spent many days drinking (very, very good) coffee and visiting with new friends. The experience was wonderful!
I’ve included a photo album with a few of the 1000 (yes, 1000!) pictures my husband and I took while over there. We got some great pictures of the sights, but for the newsletter I just included the book signing photos. If you ever get a chance, visit the Netherlands! It’s a beautiful country!
Not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God (Mark 12:24) is the biggest hindrance to kids growing up today. Yet it's not a new problem. Two generations after the Israelites conquered the Promise Land a whole generation grew up who didn't know God. Judges 2:10 says, "After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel." Whose fault was that? The kids?
Kids want to know--their minds are made to understand the things of God. They are led astray because the loudest voices out there aren't tell them the truth. And those who know the truth are timid about speaking up.
For the past 10 years, my husband and I have volunteered at children's church "acting out" the Bible for children. It takes us five years to act out Genesis to Acts, and these kids KNOW their Bible. The tough thing is I haven't found a fit with a publisher yet because our program doesn't "fit" with current "curriculum." There is no flannel graph, no crafts, no snack time--just dynamic drama. Improv, actually. (Although I'll keep trying, because we've seen it impact kids!) Breaking out of the mold works with the Nintendo generation. We all know this. It's just hard to get publishing houses to risk what's not tried and true.
The best way to connect with today's kids is to be bold and creative and to proclaim the truth and the power of God. I've been blessed two write two books for teens. My Life, Unscripted just came out last month. In it I shared my teen experiences through "scripts." I also have quotes from dozens of teens in the book. And I share God's transforming power. Different. Impacting.
So far I've gotten tons of great feedback from teens. They are smart. They are savvy. They can tell if someone's being real with them (or not). But mostly they want to experience God. They want to know that if they're going to live for something that it's worth living for.
Many adults today claimed to believe in God’s power, but they do not put stock in it. Kids and teens can spot this. The greatest thing we can do as parents, leaders, and writers is study the Scriptures in light of God’s miraculous power and live our lives like we believe He can do what He says He will do. Kids and teens need to know about God’s ability, abundance, and meaning. Only then will they too be “fully persuaded that God has the power to do what he has promised” (Rom. 4:21).
Today, I'm going to post something a bit different. From time to time you'll read me thinking about my parents and what they did right. Often, if I ask them point blank for parenting advice, they kind of shrug and move the conversation on. This weekend my mom sent me an article that will run in the North Plate Grapevine, the local homeschool newsletter.
It's about a topic that I think is critical: teaching our kids to dream.
This is something my mom and dad did very well. They RARELY pooh-poohed our dreams. When I decided I wanted to go to college at 16, they never said that was impossible. Instead, when I turned 16 and still wanted to do it, my mom marched me down to the local community college's counselor to see how we could make it happen. That guy didn't know what hit him :-) Crazy homeschoolers!
When I finaled for the Harry Truman scholarship my junior year, I ran into a blizzard driving from Lincoln to Denver. Called my parents absolutely hysterical because I knew if I did not get to the interview the next day, my chance at the scholarship -- and the rest of my life (grin) -- was over.
Once my parents were assured my friend and I were still in one piece, they moved into plan mode. My Dad was going to drive to Grand Island (in the blizzard) and then drive us the six hours (in good weather) to Denver if that's what it took. Instead, they bought us two plane tickets on the very last flight out of Grand Island. It was snowing so hard, Jocelyn and I had our windows rolled down trying to stay on the road.
That's what my life growing up was like. So here's Mom's take on teaching our children to dream. And Mom and Dad...if I haven't said thanks lately, THANKS. I wouldn't be the woman I am without you two pouring into me.
Just ThinkingBy Jolene Catlett
I went to a Women’s Retreat last month. The speaker was very good and I was challenged in my own life on some issues.
One thing she shared was that her children did not know how to dream. This family never had extra money for anything-she never took her children into the toy area of Wal-Mart because they couldn’t get anything anyway. So when these children could basically ask for anything they wanted they had (or couldn’t verbalize) any dreams. How sad!
This got me to thinking about my own children-were they dreamers-did they have goals and aspirations? Did they reach beyond what they could see?
Fortunately, my answer was YES!! Then I thought what as a mother did I do or not do to make this happen?
As many of you know, our oldest daughter, Cara, just had her first novel published. This has been very exciting for our whole family. We are her biggest cheerleaders and proof-readers!! But this dream didn’t happen overnight. She has been journaling since she was in 3rd grade. Who bought her those journals? She would write letters to everyone-including authors she was reading at the time. Who bought the stamps and helped with spelling? Having a book published didn’t happen overnight-it has been a dream for a long time.
My other children are dreamers too-Janna had dreams of going to a Christian Arts School and then on to Broadway. The Christian Performing Arts School happened, Broadway didn’t-because she choose marriage and family for this time in her life. But she was active in Community Playhouse and now ministers to many children weekly through music and dance. And God isn’t done helping her dream big things.
Josh wanted to be a NBA star. Someone took him to lots of practices and games and cheered and shot hoops with him. God even put Godly hoop-shooting men in his life when his Dad was in the Gulf War. At some point we had to tell him he had a couple things against him in his dream for the NBA-he was short and white. So he switched to soccer, in which he excelled, later was a coach and was able to touch many young people, and I don’t believe his days of coaching and dreaming are over.
Joel perhaps could be the next Steven Curtis Chapman-he tried it, made a CD (I have extra copies if anyone wants!). Entertainment didn’t work out at that time, but he is able with his voice and guitar to lead others to praise and worship our God. And he isn’t done dreaming.
I’m not a dreamer-I’m a realist. I don’t want to see my children or grandchildren hurt because they set goals so high they can’t be achieved-BUT we need to let our children dream and dream BIG.
I heard a mom say recently, she couldn’t stand to see her children disappointed, so she only let them try things she was sure they would excel in. I’m not sure this is wise.
There is a difference between dreaming and being discontent. We need to teach them to dream with God. God will give dreams and desires. What does God want for me? Where is God opening doors for me? God has a plan for my life-am I preparing myself for what he has for me? Our dreams will never be disappointments, if we dream with God.
Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.