American Ninja Mama

I am a huge fan of shows involving obstacle courses. I love to cheer on the underdogs and, perhaps, I’m a little pleased when the overly proud ones slip early on and eliminate themselves. I am not even remotely athletic so I’ve always wondered why these types of shows appeal to me so much. Then, I took a shower last night and it all made sense. Every time I enter my bathroom it’s as if I’m participating in an obstacle course without ever signing up for it.

If you’ve ever gone to the restroom and realized (after the fact) that someone used the last roll of toilet paper and failed to replace it – then you know what I mean. You jiggle. You shake. You yell to see if anyone is within earshot. (They never are, by the way. Not unless you’re opening a candy bar.)

Then, there is the shower obstacle. You attempt to place your feet somewhere in between the Barbie dolls and the Hot Wheels. Just the other night, I pushed all of the toys to one end of the tub but failed to notice the white, rubber ball which blended quite nicely with the white tub. That was almost the one that eliminated me from any further competition.

A photo by David Cohen. unsplash.com/photos/wD5LMt3ElT4

My personal favorite part of the show is when I attempt to wash my hair and must determine which bottles actually contain shampoo and which ones have been filled with week old bath water. Trust me, getting that one wrong is quite unpleasant.

Let’s say, by chance, you are one of the superior competitors who survive the shower scene. That’s about the time you open the linen closet and find that the towels have all mysteriously disappeared. Oh, sure, there is one limp, slightly damp towel laying on the floor. Do you dare?

Why is the towel wet? Did it dry a clean body fresh from the shower or was it used to mop up an overflowed toilet? You take a quick sniff and go for it. This ain’t your first shake yourself dry on the potty, almost die from a rubber ball in the shower, wash your hair in dirty bathwater and dry yourself off with a questionable towel obstacle course.

No, ma’am. You can do this thing.

How to Raise Servants in a Serve-Me World

I can’t think of service without an episode of The Cosby Show popping into my head. Cliff and Claire Huxtable are in the living room and the little neighbor boy shows up. Claire stands up and offers to get her husband, Cliff, a cup of coffee and the little boy gets a shocked look on his face.

“I didn’t think you did that sort of thing, Mrs. Huxtable.”

“What sort of thing?” she asks.

“You know. Serve your man.”

Instantly, Claire is offended and proceeds to tell the boy, in no uncertain terms, that she is not serving her man. The mere thought of serving another person, even her husband, was offensive to her.

The Serving Saviorwashingdishes

Being considered a servant was never offensive to Christ. One of His final lessons to his disciples was one of service. As He knelt before each man and washed his feet, Christ instructed them to do the same for each other.

For I have given you an example, that you should do just as I have done to you. – John 13:15

The problem is that this is contrary to what the world teaches. We live in a what’s-in-it-for-me kind of world. How can we teach our children that there is beauty in servanthood? How can we raise servants in a serve-me world?

  • Teach them to ask, “What can I do to help?” When it is time for my girls to clean their room, my three-year-old sometimes is found wandering aimlessly around the room. She wants to do something, but she doesn’t know what to do. I have taught her to walk up to one of her sisters and ask what she can do to help. The fact is that, left to our own devices, we will be selfish. Servanthood needs to be taught.
  • Let them see you serving. If you have ever tried to sneak the last piece of a pie when no one was looking, then you have discovered that someone is always looking. If you want your children to serve others, then that is what they need to see you doing.
  • Get uncomfortable. I have mentioned my introversion. I have admitted being socially awkward. To serve others, however, we must step out of our comfort zones. It means meeting people where they are and our children need to see us doing just that. Always being comfortable should make us uncomfortable.
  • Serve with a smile. Mother Theresa once said that the miracle was not the work she did, but that she was happy to do it. If we want our children to be true servants, we must instill in them a love of serving. It should be a desire and not an obligation.

We want our children to be healthy and happy. We want them to be well-rounded and productive members of society. We want them to be safe and successful. We want them to take care of us when we are old. {Oh, is that just me?}

Ultimately, however, we should want them to follow Jesus wherever He leads them. If they do that, God will take care of whatever else they need.

But seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

Whether it was the hungry or the helpless, Jesus served them.

Whether it was a brother or a betrayer, Jesus served them.

If we want to raise servants, we need to be servants.

To the Mama With No One to Hold Her Coffee

coffeeThe other day, my three oldest children went to their grandmother’s house. That left me with only two little ones. A piece of cake, right? Wrong, y’all. Really, really wrong. So, for any of you who have ever looked at a mama with a thousand or five kids and thought, “I could never do that,” this is for you.

Join me over on Moms Magazine and I will tell you about the day I tried to take my two littles on an outing without any big kids to help me. It was every bit as exhausting as it sounds. See you there!

❤ Stacy

Children are Superheroes

I’m convinced children are born with superpowers.

They have super sonic hearing. You can open a candy bar wrapper while hiding in the bathroom with the shower on and they can hear it, come running and be banging on the door before your first bite. They wear cloaks of invisibility. They can vanish into thin air at the sound of you pulling a full bag of trash out of the can.

sara popsicle

They wander aimlessly through a house overflowing with toys, electronics and art supplies complaining of boredom. Yet, at the mention of chores, they can entertain themselves outside for hours with a stick and an old coffee can. Nothing grosses them out. They eat boogers, chew gum that has been dropped on the ground and share toothbrushes. {But green peas? Even superheroes have their limits.}

snow day sophia

They know the name and story behind every stuffed animal, but they can’t remember where they left their homework. {Lucky for them, moms are superheroes, too, and have the ability to locate anything, anywhere, at anytime.}

They have the power to make you do the most ridiculous things like rush to their school in your pajamas because they forgot some very important something that you told them to put in their bag the night before. With a sad little whimper, they have you crawling on your stomach under a stranger’s car in the Walmart parking lot because they dropped their very-favorite-can-not-live-without-it toy. {Also known as a plastic piece of garbage that came in a happy meal that they will lose in the car before you even make it home.}

Lost River Cave 1They flash a sweet smile and, before you know it, you are scratching their bellies and sharing your Starbucks. {Stop the madness!} You give up sleep, showers and sanity. They cause gray hair, weight gain and stretch marks but are so thoroughly enjoyable that you have another. {And another and another and another – maybe that was just me.}

Without any effort at all, they teach you humility, sacrifice and a crazy, unconditional, will-walk-over-a-floor-littered-with-legos-and-Barbie-shoes kind of love.

It’s true. Children are superheroes. They can solve puzzles, climb trees and hear an adult conversation a mile away. Now, if they could just figure out how to keep their room clean.

Because God Dreams Bigger

Family RulesMy oldest daughter and I were in the kitchen. I don’t remember exactly what I was doing – probably whipping up some gourmet lunch of peanut butter sandwiches and Spaghetti O’s. Suddenly, she turned to me and asked, “Do dreams really come true?” I paused for a moment; she was looking so serious. “Did your dreams come true?”

That will really get a gal thinking on a random Tuesday afternoon. I began thinking of some of my “dreams.” When I was in college pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice, I had dreams of practicing law and living in a studio apartment in New York City. I also went through a phase where I envisioned myself as a writer who spent her days sipping cappuccinos at a cafe in Paris. I was going to do big things.

I looked back at my sweet girl who was still staring at me. “I was just wondering if dreams really come true or if it’s just something kids pretend will happen,” she says.

I think of the artwork hanging on our wall declaring that we will be a family that “dreams big.” One of the things I love about my husband is that he is a big dreamer. I tell my children that there is no limit to what God can do through them. I looked that girl straight in the eye and told her that she can dream big things because she has a really big God. Yes, I told her, dreams do come true.

She went back to playing, but I thought about it the rest of the day. Did my dreams come true? I’m certain that I’m not the only one who had big plans for the future. I know that someone out there, like me, looks around and thinks, “what happened?”

This is the verse that God brought to my mind.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! – Ephesians 3:20

Maybe I imagined myself having a bagel on the streets of France, but God envisioned me sitting around a wooden kitchen table eating Pop Tarts and drinking milk with four of the sweetest little girls you could imagine.

Breakfast table

God’s dream for me was bigger.

Maybe I pictured myself hobnobbing with lawyers and judges, but God decided to surround me with girls and giggles.

myfourbabiesGod’s dream for me was bigger.

Maybe I thought I would be in a high rise apartment surrounded by fancy things, but God saw fit for me to live in the suburbs surrounded by toys.

toys in the floorGod’s dream, my friends, was bigger.

So, yes, dreams do come true. Sometimes, the ones you have dreamed for yourself. And, sometimes, those even bigger ones that God dreamed of for you.