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Monday, January 31, 2011

It's All In The Approach - Stickers for Good Behavior

The Canelos clown car made it to its destinations and back over the weekend. It was a busy one with basketball and school projects.

The past few months, we have been working with Sam on manners. Instead of “get me this or that,” we ask that he say, “May I please have …”

The 4-year old tries to “joke” you into doing something for him. Little does he know, we have “his number.” I reinforce that it’s all in the “approach” and that if you are “genuinely” nice to others and ask politely, they will be nice to you. If you ask nicely, it’s likely the answer will be “yes.” 

Last week, Sam brought home three stickers from pre-school for good behavior. We were so proud, as was he. On Thursday, we received a note from the teacher saying that he didn’t have his “listening ears” on that day. He just didn’t feel like being polite and showing good behavior that day … he forgot his manners and lapsed into his old behavior.

How do we approach God?  What is our motive when we ask Him for something?  If we are “genuine” with God, it deepens our relationship with him. God already knows our hearts and our motives. Of course, there are moments when we lapse into old behaviors. Then it’s time to get on our knees and remember … it’s all in the approach.

I hope you all get stickers for good behavior today!!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Canelos Clown Car – My Cup Overflows

It’s the weekend!  Get ready … the weekends for a family of five can be quite chaotic – as you can imagine.  I always wonder what the neighbors are thinking as they witness all of the activity at the Canelos house. Olivia is playing basketball again this year, and yes folks, there are only (count them) two home games this season! 

So, that means every weekend we all “pile” into the car* with all of our stuff: duffle bags, boots, gloves, coats, mp3 players, headphones, papers, Jen’s big purse, a Ziploc of barbecue chips, cups of coffee … and then, we HIT the road to some exotic locale like Panora or Anita. This week it’s Fontanelle!  Oh boy!

Because he is such a wonderful, thoughtful husband, Paul always asks on the way home, “Would you like to stop anywhere?” I just sit there and “blink” at him. The mind just “reels” at the opportunities to “stop” in rural Iowa (I was raised in rural Iowa, so I can say that). As politely as I can, I give him a simple, “Um, no thanks.”

On Sunday mornings, we once again “pile” into and out of the car - Dad, Jen, three kids and all of their stuff. The sight is almost comical. We look like a clown car as we get in and out … five people and their mounds of “stuff.” 

But, those closest to me can tell you how long I’ve waited for the “clown car” full of husband and family. God has been slowly “filling my cup” and now it filled to overflowing

I have learned that when you discover a point in your relationship with God, in which you stop dwelling on the things you think you want, and your relationship with Him becomes one that’s “exclusive of anyone or anything else, exclusive of any other desires or belongings” ... He rewards you beyond anything you can imagine and fills your cup to overflowing

Psalm 23:5-6 
My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

*As a side note: yes, I know we need a bigger car, but I am just not a minivan kind of girl!

My Daily Portion

How was your sticky, messy, sweet life yesterday?  To be perfectly honest, mine was more sticky and messy than sweet! But, I know that God used “my mess,” because He has given me a new day.  

I’ve been grappling with the “weight struggle” since the holidays. Ugh! After all these years, I finally learned that for me, it all comes down to portion sizes and eating "pure" foods (no white flour/sugar - processed foods).

As I looked in the mirror this morning (which leans back on an easel and I’m convinced it makes me look wider than I am – but that’s another blog waiting to happen) it led me to think about “my daily portion.”

We have learned through experience that God gives us exactly what we need for each day, just like the Israelites and their manna. He doesn’t give us too little or too much – but our exact “daily portion.”  If we become greedy and try to “take more" of the portion than God has provided, you can guess what the results are…we are miserable. If we don’t take enough … we find the Lord challenging us. The good news is that He gives us a steady diet of "pure food" through His Word!

He is our daily portion. In Him, we live, breathe and experience every messy, sticky, sweet moment of our day.

So, as I sit and watch the kids eat leftover candy canes, pizza, barbecue chips and whatever else those skinny, little bodies (what portion control?!) can handle … I’ll be content with my crisp, juicy apple … “my pure food and daily portion,” because that’s all I need.

Psalm 73:26
My flesh and my heart faileth; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life is Dee-licious!!!

So here it goes … I never thought I would be “blogging.” Interesting term, but that’s another “blog” for another time.  In my 20+ year career, one thing I have discovered that I really love is writing. My head is so full of “stuff,” that it’s time to “empty it!”  I also recently acquired a whole cast of characters who teach me daily lessons and give me really good material. 

As a new wife and mother of three, I am still making adjustments to this “new” life … trying to fit everything in between daycare pick-ups, basketball games, updating I Pods … you get the idea. One of the things I haven’t been able to accomplish at the end of my day, after many years of faithfully doing so, is my daily Bible reading. However, as I listen to my Christian radio station in the morning, I am given a scripture each day. Since my commute to work is now 45 minutes, I have a lot of time to meditate on that verse.

One of my favorite lines from a movie is “… I just chew on it until all of the flavor is gone and then stick it in my hair.” That’s what I have been doing for the past few months with my verse. I have a lot of time to think on my drives to and from work. I decided to blog some of the lessons that the Lord has taught me through my family and my life.

Let me introduce you to my cast of characters … my husband Paul, 15-year old Joe, 12- year old Olivia and 4-year old Sam. Daily life with these “characters” brings fun, blessings and challenges … joys and frustrations. God uses it all for His glory.

It’s amazing how much wisdom you can gain from a 4-year old! Sam loves Star Wars and barbecue potato chips … oh, and candy! Let’s not forget the sugar. I think 4-year olds are 10% chocolate milk, 30% barbecue chips and 60% sugar.

We saved some candy canes from the Christmas holiday and have been “rationing” them each night to the children. Last night, we reached the bottom of the box (insert jumping child here). Since we’ve been working on manners, Sam, in his most polite voice asks …”Dad, may I PLEASE have the last candy cane?” I sat on the other side of the table and watched as his Dad handed him the candy cane and since the jumping continued, he bumped Dad’s hand and the candy cane fell to the floor and broke.

Instead of tears, we heard Sam's matter-of- fact voice say, “It’s still dee-licious, we don’t need to throw it away.” As I was replaying this scene in my mind this morning (and laughing to myself ) … I realized that’s a wonderful illustration of our lives. We come to God "hard and broken." Yet, He sees us as “dee-licious” and makes us whole. He would never "throw us away." He savors our lives even when we feel less than “dee-licious.”  

So the last, broken candy cane made for sticky, little hands, face and furniture, but it was played with and delighted in until the last little piece dissolved into a sweet, little smile … savored right to the last bit of “dee-licious-ness.”  As you go through the day today … remember how sweet and “rich” you are in God’s sight and that He put you where you are right this minute for a reason … He is relishing your sweetness and using every last “bit” of you for His glory.