Five Minute Friday: Prepare

Prepare

Five Minute Friday is a weekly challenge for bloggers where we are given a prompt and write for five minutes. Then we share the results with the Five Minute Friday community on Kate’s blog. Come join us!

When we think of Christmas, we think of preparing:

  • Preparing food – like special cookies, fruitcake, pecan pie (a tradition when I was growing up), turkey and all the trimmings
  • Preparing with decorations – like Christmas ornaments, stockings, Christmas trees, red & green, mistletoe
  • Preparing for guests – cleaning our houses, making beds
  • Preparing special programs at church – angels with halos slightly askew, shepherds who get lost on their way down the aisle, Christmas carols, choirs
  • Preparing for time off – no school, time off work, family time

When I read the prompt this morning, the first thing that popped into my head was, “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” – the words of John the Baptist whose job it was to get people ready for Jesus. As we prepare for the Christmas season this year, let’s not forget to prepare our hearts – to be still and know that He is God, to revel in wonder at how much the King of Kings loves us, to ponder the amazing gift Jesus gave us in His coming to earth and dying for our sins.

Are you prepared for Christmas? Are you doing anything different this year to help yourself “get in the spirit” of Christmas? Share with us 🙂

Starting on December 14th, I’m giving myself a challenge to help prepare my heart for Christmas. Each day I will share the story behind a Christmas carol and the person who wrote it. I’ll also be giving away some books and other resources. Enter your e-mail on the left so you won’t miss any of the posts.

Christmas Countdown1


Choosing Joy

For the past week and a half I’ve been participating in Pam Farrel’s Red Hot Wives Challenge. This morning I woke up feeling BLASE:

bla·sé
bläˈzā/
adjective
adjective: blasé unimpressed or indifferent to something because one has experienced or seen it so often before.
God’s timing is always perfect. This morning, the challenge focused on choosing joy. Pam reminded us of Nehemiah 8:10, “The joy of the Lord is my strength,” and encouraged us as wives to enjoy a “Joy Splurge” – doing something simple that revives us and restores our joy. The day is young, but I’ve already experienced several joy splurges:
  • Although I’m on a journey to healthy living, I enjoy a rich, steamy cup of hot chocolate every once in a while. Joy splurge number one this morning – relaxing in my favourite comfortable chair with a cup of hot chocolate before the rest of the family woke up.
  • Instead of writing this morning between 6-6:30, I focused on reading and “refilling” my inspiration tank. Joy splurge number two – reading a few pages in Practice by Practice by Kathleen Gibson.
  • Every morning I choose to put music on while I’m preparing breakfast. Joy splurge number three  – Awesome God: A Cappella Worship (Keith Lancaster & The Acappella Company)
  • Getting our five children out the door to the school bus is often a challenge. This morning I glanced up between wiping the table and putting my daughter’s hair in a pony tail. God gave me  joy splurge number four in the beautiful sunrise. Here are the pictures I snapped, after I pointed out the window and encouraged my family to join me.

Alberta Sunrise

 

Alberta Sunrise Dec 2014

Alberta Sunrise 2

What energizes you? Have you experienced a joy splurge lately? Tell us about it 🙂

 


Adoption Blog Tour: My fears, hopes and dreams for our children

Adoptive Parents

Adoption is a challenging journey. (You can read our family legacy story here.) An adoptive family experiences many joys and sorrows. Here are some things I celebrate as an adoptive parent:

  • The day we brought each of our children home
  • Hearing, “I love you!”
  • Holding adoption orders in my hand and knowing these are legally our children
  • Hearing, “Your daughter has your eyes.”
  • Watching our twins, who were never supposed to walk, talk, or feed themselves, run with carefree abandon and gulp down ever increasing amounts of food.
  • Hearing, “You’re the best cook in the whole world!”
  • Coming home and being met at the door with hugs, smiles, and “You’re home!”
  • Walking into a room and seeing all of my children reading by themselves.
  • Hearing, “Your son knows his Bible well.”

Like any parent, I also have fears, hopes, and dreams for my children.

I Fear:

  • Our children floundering with their identity.
  • Not having the answers or ability to meet our children’s unique needs.
  • People being distracted or distressed by our children’s special needs and refusing to take the time to get to know who they really are as people.
  • The future, wondering if our children have the skills and ability to be independent.
  • People taking advantage of our children.
  • What will happen to our children when we are no longer able to care for them?

I Hope:

  • Our children will find security and significance in a personal relationship with God.
  • Our children will lead lives that are privately happy and publicly useful.
  • Our children will know that we love them no matter what.
  • Our children will persevere through the difficulties they face.
  • Our children will have the support and encouragement they need.
  • Others will treat our children with respect.

I Dream:

  • That our children will be able to set goals that are meaningful to them and achieve them.
  • That others will be able to look beyond our children’s special needs and see the special gifts they bring to the world.
  • That our children will be able to have healthy relationships with their birth families.
  • That our community and the larger world will make a place for our children where they are accepted, nurtured, and productive.
  • That there will always be a safe place for our children.

Adoptive and foster parents need support and encouragement. I’m thankful for:

  • Extended family members who love and accept our children
  • Teachers who go the extra mile to include our children
  • Specialists who listen and give helpful advice
  • A church family who celebrates our children’s unique gifts and abilities
  • Friends who pray for me and listen when I just need to vent

What are your fears, hopes, and dreams for your children? Are they similar to or different than mine?

NOTE: For the month of December, I’m giving away a FREE copy of a Christmas short story – Hope for Jimmy, to everyone who follows my blog. (Fill in the form below)

Ruth L. Snyder and her husband, Kendall, have five adopted children ages six to seventeen. Besides looking after her family, Ruth enjoys teaching Music for Young Children and writing. She currently serves as the editor for In the Loop, a quarterly newsletter for foster, adoptive, and kinship families in northeastern Alberta, Canada. (Read more of their adoption journey: Our Family Legacy Story.)

Adoption Blog Tour

 

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Free Christmas Short Story!

Beggar boy sleeping on cardboard sheet

 

This month I would like to give you a Christmas short story called Hope for Jimmy. All you need to do to receive this story is fill in the form below with your name, e-mail address, and tell me what you’d like me to blog about in the coming year.

I hope this story will remind you that there are people who need our help at Christmas time. Ask God how He wants you to reach out and give hope to someone this Christmas.

Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

(From The Bible Gateway)

Merry Christmas!

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Parenting: Motivating with Rewards

In August at my Music for Young Children professional development session, one of the presenters shared that she doesn’t offer practice incentives to her students. Instead she challenges parents to talk to their children and figure out what will motivate them. I remembered this piece of advice a few weeks later when I sat down to help my own six-year-old daughter practice piano. It seemed like she resisted practicing. There was always something more interesting to do; practicing was hard work.

A week or so later I bought a ceramic tea set for my daughter to take to a friend’s birthday party. My daughter told me she wanted one just like it. I knew that my daughter could save her allowance and purchase her own tea set. However, I decided to offer the tea set to her as a practice incentive. At first I thought we would track her practice for a month or so and then give her the tea set when she practiced five or more days for at least four weeks. However, I ended up with a different plan.

I purchased the tea set at Toys-R-Us. My daughter was with me when I purchased it, so I explained my plan. Every week she practiced five or more days, I would give her one piece of her tea set. She happily agreed, and it has made a huge difference in her practicing. Since we started this arrangement five weeks ago, she only had one week where she didn’t earn a piece from the tea set. (Sometimes children want to know if we will stick to our guns!) We still have at least seven more pieces of the tea set waiting to be earned.

Although I would rather have my daughter intrinsically motivated, she seems to need some extrinsic motivation right now. She does enjoy music, but piano lessons are my choice not hers. I’m hopeful that once I help her develop consistent practice habits, she’ll enjoy the thrill of music making and the pleasure it brings to herself and others enough to be self-motivated.

 

Tea Set


NAME Conference: Men and Women Relieve Stress Differently

What kind of lover are you

“The right amount of stress allows you to be everything God created you to be. We need to keep stress at a level to be productive.” Bill & Pam Farrel

The following information was shared by Bill & Pam Farrel at the 2014 NAME Marriage Conference.

Women de-stress by talking things out (Stress = like having a meatball land on her pile of spaghetti; she needs to get all the noodles back in place and figure out how to fit the meatball in as well.)

Men create a new box (an easy box), figure it out, put a lid on it and don’t go back there.

Women need to find some REALLY good girlfriends 🙂

  1. Give some type of warning that our stress level is rising to dangerous levels (Pasta Princess)
  2. When one thing is wrong in a woman’s life, everything is wrong. Take your thoughts captive. (Stop. What’s the truth? Something I love about my husband is something that’s irritating me.)
  3. When we look at our husbands and it seems like they’re doing nothing, we have to remember they are recharging by going to their “easy” box.

Galatians 5:13 Serve one another in love. When you bring down the stress in your partner, your needs aren’t necessarily met. Take turns helping each other de-stress.

Bill plays basketball while Pam prays and journals through her feelings.

One way to lower stress is to raise the energy level – motivate one another. Everyone is motivated differently. We need to figure out how each person is motivated:

Extrovert: Act and then wonder if they should have done it based on what happens. Tip: Carry an iPad or smartphone around and write it down so you can read it before you say it. Ask – are we doing what we agreed to do?

Introvert: Constantly holding onto thoughts, get their feelings hurt. Introverts need to remember: Sometimes conversation is just conversation. When we spend time together, do we connect?

Task oriented people: would rather spend time with people AFTER the work is done

People oriented people: Get things done, but are constantly sidetracked by people.

Finding your uniqueness:

  1. Lover #1 Knight in shining armor; queen of hearts
  2. Lover #2 The hopeless romantic
  3. Lover #3 Wind beneath my wings
  4. Lover #4 True Blue Lover

Lover #1 – Knight in Shining Armor/Queen of Hearts

  • -Power
  • -Dominant
  • -Task oriented
  • -Love control
  • -Love cooperative environment they create
  • -Get on with a decision

Romance: love adventure, no guided tours, hiking, anything they decide, make a list and check it off.

Motivated by control of decisions

Give kids like this options and give them responsibility

 

Lover #2 – The Hopeless Romantic

  • -People
  • -Party
  • -Popuplar
  • -extroverted
  • -new adventures
  • -center of attention
  • -like lots of people
  • -fun, not boring
  • -Like new experiences

e.g. Peter

Preferences in Romance: anything new, entertainment that is personal and touches the heart, human drama, adventurous outings, exotic getaways

Motivated by public attention

 

Lover #3 – Wind Beneath My Wings

  • -introverted
  • -Like to help others succeed
  • -Take it as it comes
  • -Stress free
  • -Time to talk
  • -No problem solving
  • -Not over-scheduled
  • -No high expectations
  • -People time

Preferences in Romance: Light schedule, simple activities, time to relax, best event is good company, atmosphere of acceptance, entertainment where there is plenty of time to enjoy it

Motivated by acceptance/respect

 

Lover #4 – True Blue Lover

  • -Routines
  • -Task-oriented
  • -Predictable
  • -Significant
  • -Learning
  • -Talented artists and musicians, but also have a dark side

Preferences in Romance: Do what you said you’d do, events that are discussed ahead of time, guided tours, meaningful entertainment, education outings, museums, historical tours, constant encouragement with flowers, notes, and sincere feedback, honest and complete discussions, long conversations, exploration of the emotional complexity of life, remember significant dates and details.

Motivated by structure/order

Hint: Turn the energy from negative to positive with an exercise routine or friend you call

Suggested resource: Wired That Way

“I’m proud of you.” – need to say this to men.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season. God planned them in so that we can grow.

Every 7 years we have a change in our lives. These changes can be opportunities to grow. Marriages are made and broken in the transitions of life.

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven”
from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

 

This is my third post of sharing information from the NAME Marriage Conference. You may want to check out the first and second posts as well.


A Blue Day

Foggy winter day

This picture was taken last year, but this morning the view out my window is similar. I need to leave for work in 30 minutes and have many things I could be doing right now, but God has impressed on my heart that I need to write this post. Maybe it’s for you.

As a general rule, I try to keep my posts positive and uplifting. I acknowledge my feelings, but I don’t let them rule me. Today’s post will be a bit different.

Not only is the weather outside dull and (in my mind) depressing, but in my heart and soul I identify with the blue day today:

  • One of my acquaintances phoned me the other day and let me know that a very close friend was killed in a vehicle accident. She’s grieving, but I’m not sure how to help her. She doesn’t share my belief system. I carefully picked a sympathy card and wrote that I am thinking of her and praying for her. I hope she’s not offended, but takes comfort in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Two of my friends are working through some differences. I love both of them dearly and understand both of their perspectives. I pray that they will both allow God to work through their differences to make the body of Christ stronger. I pray that they will not see each other as enemies, but will band together to do battle with the true enemy of our souls – Satan.
  • The stack of papers on my desk is growing, not shrinking. I wanted to have the stack sorted by now. I hope I’m not missing something important.
  • I think we have some kind of invisible shoe monster living in our house. I put my son’s running shoes in his backpack after breakfast. It took him 10 minutes to get socks on his feet. Then he dawdled making his lunch. While he was getting his jacket on, I checked his backpack to make sure everything was there. No shoes. I looked in his bed room. I searched the shoe rack. I made sure there were no shoes lurking in our coat closet. No shoes. Poof, they’re gone! I put another pair of shoes in his backpack and put it on his back. Just when I think everything is good, his boots are missing. Sometimes they fall down the stairs, so I run down to check. No boots. I search the boot rack upstairs. I peek under his bed. No boots. I tell you, that shoe monster has been busy this morning! Thankfully his older sister is willing to let him wear a pair of boots she rarely wears.
  • Getting my kids ready for school is often a challenge. This morning I barely had time to say goodbye after we walked down the driveway before the bus came to take them away to school. Two of my children have coughs and sniffles. They probably would be happy to spend the day at home, but I’m not going to be home. I send them off, reminding them that this is the last day of school for this week and they will be able to rest and relax this weekend.
  • My sister’s update from Facebook this morning: Our pregnant cat just came in (after only an hour or so outside) with a severely broken leg (bone protruding at the shoulder). No vet here…. Sigh. And then an additional comment: The vet in Kumba (nearest large town) doesn’t deal with this type of thing, so the next closest might be at least a 3 hr. drive. The cat has cleaned herself up well, there is no ongoing bleeding, and she is hiding herself. BUT… the man who helps us in our house (cooking/cleaning) just said he knows about a man (who knows what training, but still knowledgeable) who has come to the village to help people with their dogs (including stitching wounds), so that is probably the best way to go right now – even just to get his opinion. Oh, and did I mention we’re in the middle of a busy translation week (with 8 men working in our house)?!! BTW, the cat damage might have been done by a machete – sigh…
  • Lately my schedule has been very full. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather. I long to be still for half an hour with no expectations. No schedule to keep. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but God knows. The God who created us and knows us intimately. The God who sees everything. The God who knows when you lose even one hair off your head. The God who created the universe.

Yes, I feel “blue” today, but I enter my day confidently because God goes before me. He’s the one who arranges and rearranges my schedule. I fall back on a verse that has been special to me since the early 1970’s:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

 

 


NAME Conference: Thoughts on Marriage from Dale & Loredanna Reddekopp AND Five Minute Friday

Marriage is

This is my second post about the NAME Conference my husband and I attended in November. The first post was about how men and women relate differently.

ReddekoppsDale and Loredanna Reddekopp shared in the second main session. They are a committed husband and wife team, the parents of two incredible adult children and one great son-in-law, partners in pastoral ministry for over 27 years, and BEST FRIENDS! They love hanging out with each other, going for walks and having breakfast dates. Their great desire is that all couples would have the loving and forgiving marriages that God intended for them to have.

Here are some ideas they shared:

Marriage is a work in progress. How are you working on your marriage?

  1. Be intentional (date nights, talking)
  2. Practice good things
  3. Be willing to change; the more you change, the better things go

Expectations are often developed because of the experiences we’ve had.

We come into our marriage with default settings. We need to change the default settings to something we both agree on.

Dealing with conflict:

  1. Acknowledge that it is there; Everybody has conflict!
  2. Allow yourself to feel the tension

Philippians 4:2 – Because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.

When you are sending your teenager out for the night: “Remember that you are representing yourself and remember that what you say and where you go represents your Mom and I. Represent us well. Even more importantly, you belong to Jesus Christ. You have a responsibility to represent Him well!”

Dale shared that he has a Skype date with his daughter on Fridays even now after she is married.

Dale also shared a story. He and Loredanna have made it a practice to kiss each other every time they are in the car together and they have to stop at a red light. Their daughter and son-in-law have adopted this practice. Recently their daughter and son-in-law drove to the States for a conference. They took two other guys with them. When the two guys asked about the kisses, the son-in-law quipped, “Dude, it’s not about you.”

“Instead of getting bitter, we want to get better.”

Romans 12 – Don’t just pretend to love others (your spouse); hate what is wrong, hold to what is good.

Ideas to try:

  1. Open the car door for your wife
  2. Write notes for every day when your spouse is gone on a trip and make sure your spouse will find them.
  3. Leave a note on the door – “I left you 5 notes to find”
  4. Meet your spouse at the door and give them a hug and kiss
  5. Go to marriage enrichment opportunities with your spouse
  6. Give your spouse a pedicure
  7. Love Value Appreciate – LVA notes. (Send a text or write on a mirror) Do this even if you’re ticked off with your partner. (LVA – you go to work for us; LVA your tender kindness to me etc.)

Matthew 6:33 – Seek God first, even in your marriage.

Suggested book (Click on the image below to purchase the book from Amazon.ca):

How to Argue

Thanks, Loredanna and Dale.

Five Minute Friday – Still

Still – peace, quietness, perseverance, something that endures and continues for a long time.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”

In our busy world, we need to teach ourselves to be still and quiet. It’s easy to get caught up in too much busyness, too much people pleasing, too much doing, too much emptiness. Instead, we need to be still. We need to ground ourselves in God and His word so that we can serve with a full heart instead of running around with an empty heart.

Still – You’re still eating healthy? This still speaks of perseverance, endurance, grit, determination, stick-to-it-iveness (is there such a word?). I believe this still grows out of the first – being still and knowing God.

Still – I can hear a groan with this still. Do I still have to wash the dishes?

Time’s up. Which still will we focus on today?

Want to participate in Five Minute Friday? Here’s Kate’s description:

Welcome to another week of Five Minute Friday — an online community where bloggers who mostly don’t even dare to call themselves writers put their brave on week after week and bring the internet alive with their beautiful words.

It’s a place where we write free and deep and wide, where we let it all spill onto the screen in all its messy, jumbled up glory. It’s a place to link arms with others, to lift them up, to shine a light, to give hope.

Link in on Kate’s blog here.