Whose Clothes?

I’m not sure whose shirt I’m wearing today – I just know it kind of matches my skirt. The reason I don’t know whose shirt this is, is because almost all of my kids are now adult-size, so our clothes are easy to mixup. In some respects, it’s nice to have access to the extra clothing, but it’s challenging when I cant find my own clothes.
So I wonder if we don’t realize sometimes that we’re wearing the wrong clothes – grave clothes instead of resurrection garb. I say this because we live in a fallen world which overflows with death, despondency, darkness & futility. Sometimes, this kind of thinking can rub off on us, unknowingly, and then we walk around wearing the same mindset as the world around us.
Let’s be sure that we wear the resurrection clothing that Jesus provides & not the drab & droll grave clothes of the common thinking in the world around us!

Deeper Than the Surface

I’m noticing today that my intimacy with God hasn’t been as deep in the last few weeks & of course I want this to change. So I’m thinking back about what’s been going on in my life that could be contributing to this malaise. I certainly acknowledge that there’s the normal ebb & flow that happens in any relationship. In my walk with God, however, I want to pay attention really well so I don’t settle for shallow when I can have deep, intimate & flourishing. The recent things in my life that I’m observing include some of the ongoing challenges with the concussion recovery – sleep challenges, energy & focus struggles. I’ve also noticed that there have been some insecurity flare ups that have definitely sidetracked me some. There’s also the challenges of schedule changes with my kids being out of school. 
None of these things can break my relationship with God, but they can certainly distract my focus & reliance so that I don’t live in the deeps with God. So I’m leaning into God & asking for more Heavenly Help. I’m also endeavoring to listen & pay attention better. I’m also keen to be less independent & more reliant on the Holy Spirit. Anyone want to join me? 

Do a Good Job

Having my kids home for summer break is wonderful & challenging. I certainly enjoy their company & they have super fun personalities. As their mom, I’m also responsible to help them grow into healthy, responsible & productive adults – or at least encourage their decisions to move in those directions. 

Funny thing about this parenting gig: seems like heaps of what I tell them needs to flourish in my life as well. I find that my parental coaching has lots of application in my life & maybe this whole parenting thing is God’s parental efficiency plan. I most certainly don’t want to parent from a place of hypocrisy so I’m pushing myself to do well & live up to the stuff that I want to see my kids exhibit 🙂

Clutter & Chaos

I’m a taxi service for three wonderful children & I’ve had this honor for more than 10 years. So I’m kind of immune to my car being messy, full stop. I’ll not paint any sordid pictures for your imagination, but let it be enough to know that I’m endeavoring to train both my kids & me to be more orderly. Seems to me that we live in a world filled with clutter & chaos such that it could quietly seep into our thoughts & feelings to contaminate & confuse, leaving us unraveled & ineffective. 

Let’s keep the Prince of Peace front & center in our hearts & thoughts. Just because there’s chaos in the world doesn’t mean that it gets to dislodge Jesus’ preeminence in my living 🙂

Taxi Mom

  
“What are you doing?” 
“Driving, driving & then I’ll do some driving. This is my life”

This was a recent conversation with a friend since My kids have started school. Seems like I’ve transitioned into transportation service, possibly considering an uber career – jk ,)

But in all seriousness, I found myself being cranky about all of this running around. Now I’m thankful for an intervention: divine perspective. And here are the things I’ve he found helpful in this new season of life:

  • It could be worse because sooner than I want, I’ll have 3teenage drivers
  • Driving affords me the opportunity to listen to my kids & that is altogether golden
  • I get some high value God time as I drive
  • Education is a gift so treat it as valuable rather than an imposition ,)

hot topic: being practical

As I write, my kids are doing an amazing job of cleaning the house.  We divided up the responsibilities onto various checklists (laundry checklist, kitchen checklist, living / family room checklist, etc) & consequently, no one is thoroughly overwhelmed by the tasks that need to be done.  Furthermore, each of my kids brings their unique personalities to their jobs so it’s fun to watch them jump in & invest some “sweat equity” to our quality of living 🙂

It’s my responsibility to oversee & quality check against the checklists they’re using to ensure that everything is done well & thoroughly.  In some ways, this all reminds me of how God puts us together to bring the Kingdom of God into our daily reality.  Some essentail ingredients include:

  • teamwork: the lone ranger paradigm doesn’t generally fit into kingdom thinking
  • focus:  when my kids are distracted, they’re less effective & everthing takes longer; staying focused on God helps us to be more productive
  • oversight & integration:  God never leaves us to our own devices & efforts to see God’s kingdom realized
  • mutually beneficial:  a clean kitchen, clothes, bathroom and living areas are in everyone’s best interest & God’s kingdom is no different 🙂

Have an awesome weekend!

sometimes my kids don’t like me

This Summer, I’m undertaken the adventure with my children of training their weekly domestic organization skills, translation:  house cleaning.  To make progress on this adventure, I’ve organized some checklists so that it will be clear to the responsible individual when they’ve adequately completed their assignments.  Needless to say, the checklists aren’t popular & sometimes, they don’t even like the domestic organization adventure, imagine that ,)

All of that is to say that I guess it’s not really that strange on occasion that we may not like some of the things that God does.  At bare minimum, Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines us because God loves us.  Discipline, correction and training aren’t always pleasant but most of the time, we like the outcomes, just not the process.  So let’s stay in love with Jesus, keeping walking with Him through various processes, training and development.  For me, staying in love with Jesus helps make everything better, even training my kids through the exciting domestic organization adventure 🙂

So Cute!

I really love getting to visit my kids school when they do awards assemblies because all the kids are so cute!! They’re all super unique, smiley, engaged, fun & awesome to watch. As I think about these kids, I can’t help but fast forward to think about how God our Father sees us as His children – super cute! I can totally see how there are times when adults can be sketchy & questionable (like humans no matter the age), but it always helps me to consider that each one of us makes God smile – God knows that you’re CUTE!!

Praise Report!!

Last month, my son randomly got a metal splinter in his finger & we’ve had some difficulties trying to get it out. After he tried & I tried, we prayed & gave the dr a chance & the only result was that his finger became infected 🙁
During our 2nd visit to the dr, she did an xray & we discovered that he still had some of the splinter in his finger. After lots of medical advice, we decided that we had to get rid of the infection as our first priority.
Long story short, my son got the splinter out last night & here’s the picture we took of it!! Prayer works!!

20131219-132816.jpg

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone

I took my son to the eye doctor today to see what corrections he may need & guess what?!  His eyes have changed – ALOT!  Basically, his long distance vision is blurry at best & more often non-existent.  Thankfully, the eye doctor is extremely good & very patient, as my son can be kind of engergetic.  He’ll get some glasses in the next week or so and will probably be really amazed at the significant improvement that he’ll see.

I think that sometimes our walk with God can be a little bit like our natural vision: we can be near-sighted or sometimes far-sighted.  But no matter where we focus best, we can be totally certain that God is always with us regardless of what we see or where we focus 🙂

Pulling teeth :(

My son is getting some teeth removed this morning to make space for his adult teeth to come in better. My personal opinion on this is “no bueno”. Taking out teeth is a really good example of the opposite of how I feel when I’m with God during my morning prayer time. As passionately as I LOVE being with God in our quiet & still morning hours, I just as much LOATHE this tooth pulling stuff. Nevertheless, I get the opportunity to experience God in a variety of ways, if I’ll stop clenching my fists, take some deep breaths & be still. God is present in every moment, at peaceful, stressful, uncertain & neutral times. God is constant when life is not 🙂

Momma said there’d be days like this

Well dear friends, I woke up this morning at 1:30 to find one of my kids sleeping in the chair in our bedroom. An hour later, another one woke up & by 4:30, 3/5 of the Bowling family was completely alert thx to a healthy dose of jetlag.
Since I’m quite familiar w the adventures associated w jetlag, I’d give us until around 3-5pm before we hit the wall. So for this day, regardless of what it holds, I’m choosing to let the peace of Jesus guard my heart & mind. I’m not interested in having a day of anxiety, stress or struggle. There is enough grace for each moment in this day, no matter what transpires. Same goes for you 😀

scones & wisdom for breakfast ,)

 My ultra cool husband made scones for breakfast today & he makes a fantastic scone!  While we were eating, my kids & I had an interesting discussion about friendships with the importance of their various influences.  In my morning Bible time, I read Prov 13:20, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

Here’s a quick synopsis of our conversation, chose your friends wisely because they will have either a harmful or wise influence in your life – affecting your choices, preferences and values.  A companion of fools will suffer harm, but the person who walks with others who are wise, will himself be wise.  Let’s be sure to chose wisely who we allow to be close to us, with whom we share our heart & allow ourselves to be vulnerable 🙂

cavities, consequences & grace

I took my kids to the dentist today for the lovely Summer check-up.  Let me say up front, that I like our current dentist for my kids even though the last one was shady, but that’s a different story.  So today’s report from their check up wasn’t very whippy.  One of my kids (who will remain nameless) has more than 3 cavities – which gives evidence to them tuning out my daily reminders to brush their teeth  (maybe God has some similar thoughts when I blow Him off).
When the hygienist called me in to give me the report, I felt like I was being scolded for my kid’s negligence, just compounding my frustration level.   Grrrrrrr

So here are my take-aways from today’s dentist adventure:

  • even though I’m their mom, if they don’t cooperate with my instructions they will increase the probability of negative consequences, despite my best efforts
  • the point of grace isn’t to get away with something but rather to change our behaviors
  • even though I may be frustrated with my kids, this doesn’t give me license to be mean or insensitive to everyone around me
  • obedience is better than cavities ,)
All of this is on the heels of me leaving for Asia, to watch God work His wonders for @savingmoses in Cambodia – please don’t fight the urge to send up some prayers for us!  I’ll keep you posted with blogs, etc about what’s happening 🙂

don’t ask for patience ,)

My dad always has this saying, “Sarah, don’t ask a question that you don’t really want to know the answer.”  When I was younger & he would tell me this, I was always perplexed by why he would occasionally discourage me from asking questions – then I got some answers to various questions that were just TMI (too much info)!!!

Sometimes, I think this is also true with the idea of patience.  When I was younger, I used to ask God to help me to be more patient.  Then when He started to help me with the patience thing, I didn’t necessarily liked how He was helping me, so I stopped asking for His help with patience 🙂

I think I’m kind of starting to come full circle.  I can’t say that I’m just chasing God down on the patience topic, but I am most certainly appreciating the importance of developing patience.  Here are some things that I’m finding helpful for me with the development of patience (although I’m not even close to arriving at being patient):

  • remove the microwave mentality:  I’ve noticed that when I marinate meat for a long time (even a few days in the refrigerator), it just gets continually better the longer I marinate the meat.  In contrast, if I throw some ground beef in the microwave & nuke it for 2min, the flavor is lame at best (nothing compared to the marinated meat).  Immediate and microwave results aren’t always better than cultivated & marinated efforts
  • perhaps my kids are impatient with getting an answer from me because I’ve modeled impatience to them when I want them to clean their rooms, brush their teeth, empty the dishwasher, sweep the floor, etc in less than 4min.  I often hear the Holy Spirit whispering to me as it relates to my kids, “Slow down”
  • the journey versus destination perspective:  maybe I’m impatient because I don’t feel like “I’ve arrived” rather than considering that each day is an adventure to explore God’s love to me & through me
  • running late makes me impatient & I frequently run late – perhaps I should stop scheduling things to be so close together & give more “breathing” space between appointments rather than seeing that space as wasted time
  • something that really helps me is when I consider that God is in charge of my life – I’ve surrendered my life to God & because of this, He directs my steps, organizes my time & the demands on me.  I always find it to be so interesting that when I find myself backed against the wall with a deadline & worried that I won’t make it, He almost always comes up with some creative solution, either through eliminating a task / expectation or through making my efforts supernaturally efficient.
Being patient grows over time ,)

Village life

So today we visited a village in the countryside & I got to meet some completely beautiful & strong women. I met a grandma who survived the Khmer rouge regime by hiding in the jungle for 2 yrs. Her husband was the only person to survive in his family during the Khmer Rouge. I met a mom who is 5mnths pregnant, but very scared to deliver bc of the complications from her preceding deliveries & no resources to get medical help w her delivery. I met lots of little people who need toothbrushes bc their teeth are rotting out of their heads from eating the sweet syrup from the palm trees. Finally, I met a single mom of 5 kids whose husband abandoned his family 3 yrs ago. Her sole means to provide for her kids is to sell desserts to her village & surrounding areas. This is an amazing country & the people here never fail to grab my heart

grow charts

Over the summer, i’ve instituted “grow charts” for my kids.  Here’s the general vibe:  each child has their own weekly to-do list they’re supposed to work on everyday.  The plan has been for every box they check, they get 10cents.  At the end of the week, we count up the boxes & they get somewhere between $1-$3 / week for their grow charts.  They’re supposed to save their money every week, after tithing & at the end of each month, we deposit their money in their kids bank by my hair salon.  So far, this has worked pretty well over the summer.  The key to the success of this is consistency on my part. 

Today, i ramped it up a notch.  I circled about 3-5 “tasks” that are required everyday (brush teeth, clean room, etc).  For every circled task that is not completed for each week, i take away 10cents.  So far, i think this is working pretty well.  Its teaching my kids to importance of daily work & discipline, its giving them a constructive incentive to earn money, teaching them the importance of saving money (they compete w each other to see who has the most in the bank) & its teaching them the value of everyone pitching in to help & contribute to our family.  Personally, its helping me to work on being consistent w my kids.  With all of this planning & structure, i don’t really see a downside, especially if i stay consistent. 

Key word: consistent

some random thoughts

my daughter has finally grown into the skirt & jacket my brother bought her 2 years ago – she’s really beautiful & very confident! 

my son, Benji & i did a butt black yesterday.  translation:  we got on an expert ski run by accident & slid down on our butts

David & I had a “walking home together” date.  We discussed his friends, different books he’s read & kicking rocks

Reece & i took Benji skiing yesterday – he let me sleep in the car on the way home.  very peaceful!

Some spiritual thoughts / considerations floating through my mind of late:

  • when i feel cold-blooded, i look for the Son to get warm
  • contentment is internal & not external – so they say
  • God has life for me underneath the frustrations, worries & cares that will change tomorrow
  • doing is a consequence of being
  • I’m made to be w God

I’ve also been thinking about Jesus’ parable related to living a productive life, so i’ll be blogging on that over the next few days.  keep your eyes peeled!

insights on my kids

Watching my kids grow is simply fascinating – full of delight, awe, pleasant surprises & very astounding.  Here are some recent developments:

David – wants to buy a box of girlscout cookies & keep them for awhile & then re-sell them for more than he bought them for.  He COMPLETELY came up w this scheme on his own.  Furthermore, he also has the plan to sell part of the ABC juice (apples, beets & carrots – uber healthy) that we make to mimi (grandma) twice a month to make money.  This entrepeuner thing just surfaced recently.  Needless to say, I’m speechless bc i didn’t even consider thinking this way until at least high school & probably more like post college.  (pawns in chess are ponds)

Isabell:  the long hair is pretty much lost on me, given that i’ve enjoyed short hair & its simplicity for close to 2 decades.  She is growing her hair to cut if off & donate it to locks of love for kids w cancer.  Furthermore, its really cool to watch her confidence grow as she overcomes various insecurities to achieve goals that she has set for her self – selling girlscout cookies has been the recent platform for this personal growth.  I see her thinking, growing & living in the present w great contentment.

Benji:  everything he does has some wiggle (except now as I’m watching him play Reece in chess – take it back, he just went to the bathroom).  Anyways, he’s wonderfully generous & relational, with eyes full of life, creativity & happiness.  And today, we got to ski w Benji & he was simply fantastic.  I love that he watches his older brother to grow, learn & play.  I’m glad he’s a kind person because a mean person with his intelligence would be scarey.

I’m blown away by my kids.

holy cow!

Its been way too long since my last blog!  Recently, we were in the mountains w the fam doing some skiing & the place where we were staying didn’t have internet access – no it wasn’t a log cabin w no running water.  Its good to be back!!  We’ve spent the last 2 weeks w lots of fam activities:

  • took the kids skiing a few times – they can now all handle easy blue runs & here are their skiing profiles (reflects their personalities):  Isabell – Reece says she cruises along;  David – stays close to me & trying his skis out on jumps (I lead because its easier to go fast when you snowboard);  Benji – just fast & more fast.
  • cooking Christmas turkey – it was ok
  • having my friend Laura & her fam stay w us & doing some skiing together
  • I read “Into Thin Air” – true story about the very deadly 1996 Mt Everest expedition w various teams

Of course I’ve been thinking about some things w God & while I don’t have answers to many questions, I have a sense of His presence w me.  So, I hope your holiday season has left you well basted & ready to move into 2009.  May this year be filled w God’s presence in your life more than 2008, in whatever way He choses & may we rest at peace in His choices for us.