Immanuel: God With Us

Merry Christmas! I love Christmas time. The traditions. Decorations. Music. Parties. Even the gift buying. It’s a joyful time. Every year, the day after Christmas, I purchase the next year’s holiday clothing for my grandkids and look forward to handing them out at Thanksgiving.  They are still young enough to let me pick out something for them to wear. Kate and Haddie are beginning to express personal opinions about clothing however but here they are frolicking happily in the dresses they received. So fun. Christmas feels precious to me this year.  More so than previously. I think it’s because my perspective is changing. This year, as I ponder the familiar biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus, I am seeing it in a different light.  I am seeing Jesus as Immanuel-  God WITH us. “He will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.  All this took place to fulfill what the LORD had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.” (Matthew 1:21-23) Immanuel is an amazing word – It’s three words put together into one: “GOD WITH US”. This speaks deeply to my heart. What a gift.  Not only did Jesus come to earth as our Savior but He came to be with us and His spirit remains with us forever. “You know him, for he dwells WITH you and will be IN you.” (John 14: 15-17) No matter what our circumstances may be, God’s presence is WITH us in the midst of them.  Stressful...

He is Always Reachable

The sound of a quick afternoon nap sounded so refreshing but just as I buried my head into the pillow, my iPhone beeped. It was the memory care facility calling to inform me that my mom had bitten a nurse.  Ouch.  I was embarrassed and worried that they would terminate her stay but at least the nurse was OK, the woman on the phone was assuring me. Before I could end the conversation, my youngest daughter ran in frantically looking for her dad, who had let our large, chocolate labradoodle loose (again)  – and he was harassing a friend who had just pulled up in his truck to return our cement mixer. Knowing how scary Rufus looks and frightening his growling bark sounds, I ended the phone call abruptly and rushed outside.  “I can’t reach Glen,” our friend said, “Is there someone around who can help me unload this?” Fortunately he seemed less concerned about Rufus than I was. “Of course, he couldn’t reach Glen,” I grumbled silently to myself, “he doesn’t carry his phone with him.”  I ran down the hill and around our guest house calling for my husband. With his truck in the driveway, I knew he was around somewhere. I crisscrossed the property calling for him in vain. “Was he lying somewhere hurt and unable to respond?” I wondered.  My worry turned to anger however when I found Glen chatting peacefully with Cam and Erin inside their home next door. “You let Rufus out again unsupervised,” I complained rather angrily, “and there are times – like now – when you really need to be reached.”...

Blog by Tim Elmore: Do Smart Phones Make Us Smarter?

Earlier this week, I asked Joey, my oldest grandchild if he thought the presence of an iphone, even if merely set down and unused, would distract him from doing well on a math assignment.  Unlike many students, who insisted that they are immune to any affect, I was surprised and delighted with his emphatic response, “it would definitely distract me from doing good work because even seeing it is too tempting for me.” I could tell by the conversation with Joey that he had gained knowledge that helped him recognize the downside of having a smart phone.  Already this information was useful in determining better practices for himself. As guardians of our young kids hearts and minds, we must remember to share with them reliable, up-to-date information. Here’s a great blog by Tim Elmore that is well worth reading and sharing with your kids. Dr. Elmore summarizes several recent studies and shares information that is helpful and important for all of us living in this tech-driven world.   Do Smart Phones Make Us Smarter?  ...

Spiritual Heritage is Now Available

Last week I met with a sweet but very discouraged couple trying to hold on to hope for their children and family. They had grown angry and disillusioned with each other over disagreements on how to parent through difficult issues and choices their children were making. I couldn’t help but remember a similar season when Glen and I quit talking and instead allowed an icy wall to grow between us. Just like this couple, many of our disagreements rose out of how to parent our children.  Parenting is often fertile ground for conflict between two individuals who enter into this vital role from two different home environments and experiences. In writing a book together, I have thought a great deal about Glen’s and my journey as parents. We come from very different backgrounds and while we shared the same vision for our kids, we had entirely different perspectives on how to get there.  We frequently disagreed, yet neither disunity, nor mistakes, stopped God from furthering His work in all of us. In hindsight, I see it so much differently now.  I think of a cement mixer that blends cement and water together into a mixture that forms a strong foundation for a home.  With concrete, good outcomes result from the right proportions – a good mix design. Over the years, Glen and I finally grew willing to place ourselves into the “cement mixer” and blend our ideas and perspectives together. We learned that too much of Ellen wasn’t wise and neither was too much of Glen. This took humility by both of us.  This realization made a significant difference...

Mentor Confidence in Your Kids Through Mistakes

“Mom can I borrow 4 eggs?” Alisa asked as she and Asa, her five-year-old son, entered our kitchen this morning. “I brought Asa along so that we would have four hands to carry four eggs.” Asa held out both hands with a big smile on his face. Being trusted to help his mom in this way was a big deal to this little guy. “Hold them carefully because they will crack if you drop them Asa,” Alisa added as they walked out the door and headed back to their home next door. But he didn’t make it far with one egg slipping out of his small hand as he skipped down the sidewalk.  Asa stood there, frozen, looking down at the broken eggs and glancing up at me, standing in the door way. Many thoughts whirled around in my head in those few seconds… …. of how tempting it would be to say something like “You were told to be careful. Look what you did”  – to lecture him and point out how he had messed up. But I was reminded of the importance of affirming kids right when they mess up… – of being more vision driven than authoritative and that mentoring belief and confidence into my grandkids is a worthier goal than managing their behavior. So I cheerfully invited Asa back into the house and told him “Here’s another egg. This time I know you will get them both safely back to your house.”  And he did.  While it seems like a trivial issue, it was a moment when I could have easily chosen a judgmental “you-were-not-careful”...