Monday, January 31, 2011

Expectancy

*Note: I can finally re-post this again.  It was on for about an hour the day before mom and dad left Egypt, but I pulled it when I realized that even a hint of their plans to leave was confidential.  Mom and Dad are safe in Houston.  You can check out her blog to learn more about what their evacuation was like and the days preceding it! *

Let's get one thing straight right away.  No, I'm not expecting... at least not the way you're thinking.  See, I'm preparing for unexpected house guests.  With "deadly" blizzards in our country and deadly riots in another, I'm seriously hopeful for some unexpected guests to be arriving unannounced.  While I doubt that anyone will take me up on my offer to escape the blizzards and come where it is 60s and sunny, if you are reading this and you are in that part of the country, consider this your invitation to hop on over and say hello.  While I have been hoping the situation in Egypt would not erupt into anything too dangerous, I am also preparing for the possibility that my parents would be evacuated and need somewhere to sleep for a while.  It feels unlikely, yet I am hopeful and preparatory.  The guest room is cleaned, though the bed is not yet set, and I'm an incredibly thankful for the spring cleaning bug I've had that recently sent 6 large bags of "I have no idea what's in there" to Goodwill.  If someone calls me up tonight and says they'll be here tomorrow, this place will be ready as if I've known for months of their visit.  I wish I had the money to make it feel like a 5 star hotel, but I'll take my best shot at a cozy B&B.  Bathrooms are spotless, floors are steamed, and I'm itching to go purchase the blackout curtains I've been thinking about for years for the guestroom.  Afterall, if mom and dad arrive, jetlagged, exhausted, confused, and a little bit bewildered, I want them to have the best night's sleep possible (or David and Leilani, or grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends...)  I have no clue at all if anyone is coming, but its worth it!

And all this eager, hopeful anticipation got me thinking... Someone IS coming!  Christ will be returning!  I don't know if it will be in my lifetime.  It could be tonight.  I often think about this with excitement, but honestly it is not with the heart-racing enthusiasm I feel right now.  Honestly, its killing me to sit here and write.  I just want to get back to cleaning baseboards and clearing out a dresser!  Lord, give me the kind of anticipaiton I feel now about YOUR return.  Give me the excitement and energy necessary to labor for preparing my own heart and those around me for that exciting day!  Search the depths of my heart and get rid of the "junk" and help me to make more space for you to permeate and inhabit every corner.  Make me pure, spotless, holy.  Help me to make the most of each moment in preparation for eternity.  And come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Everyday Miracle

        I was part of a meeting this week with some of the people involved in our Childrens' ministry.  A Sunday School teacher shared about a boy who this week prayed for the first time.  Another woman commented how everyone wants to be involved in a miracle, how she would have loved to be there to witness that boy's prayer.  I have that boy in my class during second service and I would have loved to have been there too!  Yes, everyone loves to witness a miracle.  Those are the moments that keep us going in ministry when discouragement creeps in.  I am praying for a similar miracle with a young lady I mentor.  Oh, how I want to see her in a relationship with Christ and witness Him change her life! 

    About an hour ago I was driving home listening to the radio and the song "Do You Hear What I Hear" was playing.  I was suddenly hit by the desire to have been a part of that special night when Christ was born and the angels declared the good news to the shepherds.  Not just the "oh that would have been neat" type of desire, but the kind of yearning excited desire I had at the moment Eric proposed to me 6 years ago; or the joyful to tears desire I have to hold, cuddle, and play with my new niece or nephew that keeps me reading and re-reading my sister's latest blog.  New life is always a miracle and we are so excited about this new life in our family!

    I just can't stay away from new babies.  I'm one of those (possibly annoying) people who just HAS to talk to pregnant women I don't know.   I want to know when they're due and if they have chosen a name.  One of my favorite date memories with my husband was a time that our waitress was pregnant and we ended up going shopping for her baby after our meal and taking a gift back to the restaurant.  I just can't get enough of being involved in a miracle.  
   
   So I was listening to this song and almost mourning the fact that I'll never be a shepherd "living out in the fields, watching my flocks at night".  I'll never cradle or rock God Incarnate as Mary did.  BUT, I do KNOW him.  In fact, I have a relationship with him. And its not like, "oh, he friended me on Facebook", but the kind of relationship like "he lives life with me and we talk all the time".  As I thought about this I got a growing, renewed excitement about my Jesus, and I realized, I get to be part of a miracle every day.  The miracle of Christ's birth was a one-time event in a specific place and time, but there is a miracle of new life now that is for all people, everywhere, for all time...

"For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
     He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. ..He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together... For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross...
   ...the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints... which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. "  Colossians 1



   

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tipu the Tiger Goes on Vacation

I'm excited beyond words about the completion of our Super Summer Challenge.  And when I say "completion", I mean its prize time.  We are by no means retiring the challenge just because vacation has arrived.  We'll keep it up for sure, with new challenges and new prizes!  We've had amazing behavioral changes result (see previous post), and I thoroughly plan to continue this amazing manipulative tool for all the best intents.

But, today we escape to Wisconsin and Emmalia gets her hard-earned prize - a suitcase full of goodies for our long plane, boat, and automobiles trip!
She is especially excited about the book of photos of people and places she will be seeing on our vacation.
But this suitcase isn't just any suitcase!  It's Tipu the Tiger!
The one and only pack, pull, and ride-on suitcase for kids!  (cue superhero music)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

SSC Progress Report

Well, we have been going with the Super Summer Challenge for about a month now, and let me just say that it has been AMAZING!  Emmalia earned her 11th flower yesterday, offically breaking the half-way point to earn her big prize (conveniently also about 1/2 way between start of the challenge and our trip to Grandma's!) 
 She gets a "mini prize" each time she earns a flower.  So far she has won several small toys from the grab bag, a new pool toy, a new puzzle, a tea party, baking cheesecake together, and nail polish!

Since beginning this point system, we have smashed the bad habits of screaming while washing or combing hair and crying when left at the gym or nursery.  We have also seen dramatic improvement in her eagerness to make her bed, have her hair done, playing nicely with Kaira, memorizing Bible Verses, etc.  Instead of "I don't like chicken today" I'm hearing "thank you mom for making this"!  WOW! 

Here is Emmalia sharing one of her Bible verses... please forgive the wardrobe...
video
She has also learned to blow bubbles in the pool.  Usually she only does it once or twice, just to get the point for it, but she is becoming more comfortable with the water every day!
video

I'm practicing self-control in not spoiling the big surprise for all of you.  We've ordered her final prize and it came in on Friday.  I am SO EXCITED about it.  It is one of the awesomest little kid travel things I've ever seen in my life.  Better than the monkey backpack "leash" that I swore I'd never make my kids wear... until the first time I traveled cross-country with my kid...  I'd post a photo for you, but the suspense will just make it better in a couple weeks : ) 

Suffice it to say that the Super Summer Challenge will be an integral part of our summers.  Probably more like all year long.  I don't see Emmalia giving up making rainbows and earning flowers just because summer ends.  We'll keep adjusting the goals and prizes!

And now, for the grandmas, here's a short video of Kaira too!  She's finally getting more comfortable with the water!
video

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

29 Reasons to Marry a Youth Pastor

Last week we celebrated Eric's... "29 again-th" Birthday and a few of us at CREDENCE made "29 lists" for him. He thought I definitely needed to post this here! Enjoy!

29. Even your oldest child has big brothers and sisters
28. You can show up at church and forget about your kids. They’re with one of the teens.
27. Endless supply of qualified baby-sitters.
26. You’ll have plenty of time for chic flicks when he is gone on mission trips
25. You’re sometimes taken more seriously than he is.
24. You don’t have to cook much, there’s almost always leftover pizza in the church fridge.
23. Hanging out with teenagers keeps you looking younger.
22. Your kids can watch Veggie Tales on big screen in the youth room anytime.
21. Every adult wants an excuse to play laser tag.
20. There’s bound to be a fingerdart nearby when you need revenge for something.
19. Youth pastors notoriously have really cool cars
18. You don’t have to grow up either.
17. You get to practice raising teenagers before you really have to.
16. You have exclusive access to the newest popular media.
15. You can easily find an accomplice for any pranks you want to pull on him.
14. You have a key to the candy cabinet.
13. You can get a second shot at senior prom by being a chaperone.
12. You can stay at the party as long as you want, or go to sleep whenever you want when the party is at your house.
11. You get to relive junior high without the awkwardness and zits
10. You just might get a discounted ticket to the best concerts and conferences
9. When there is green stuff growing in your fridge it can be used for truth or dare before throwing it away.
8. He has an extroverted outlet that doesn’t have to involve you
7. You save money because leading youth group is better for adult ADD than any medication
6. Sometimes you get to “store” the group’s cool gadgets and games at your house!
5. You can use the church as a place to store all the “toys” he won’t get rid of
4. The junior high girls envy you because they secretly have a crush on him.
3. You can plan parties on a Wednesday night and know all his favorite people will be there.
2. you’ll always have the satisfaction of being married to a great man.
1. No matter how many times he turns “29”, he’ll always look hot in his black ARM tee-shirt

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just Like Mom

It is fun as a mother to see some of the ways that my daughters are already so much like me.  Sometimes I'm frustrated with something, like Emmalia's room being such a mess of stuffed animals and dolls... I used to do that ALL THE TIME!  Yeah, up until I got married pretty much.  Well, minus the dolls, just a few million pillows, a featherbed (which my hubby couldn't stand) and that red teddy bear on top of this pile, shipped to me in Indonesia from my love.  Emmalia is in there somewhere - can you find her?

Today, Emmalia won another flower in her Super Summer Challenge (see previous post) and her prize was playing dress-up.  She wante dto paint everyone's toe nails, including Kaira's and her baby doll.  Eventually it escalated to getting out my old baby dolls and having a big doll tea party (something I did all the time as a kid).  Mom, you'll enjoy this flashback:

The doll is a little worse for wear now than she was 25 years ago or so, but Emmalia will enjoy the special times that she will get to play with "Punky".  I may even share the doll with Emmalia's children some day.  By then, her hair will probably have fallen out!  Some things endure a little better.  As a teen I remember an adult in church telling me that I was so much like my mom.  I remember thinking what a wonderful compliment it was!  I felt very honored that someone thought I was even just a bit like her.  As a mother I find myself becoming (hopefully) more and more like my mom, who is like her mom.  What a great woman!  I hope to be like her too someday.  I don't remember my great-grandmother, but when it comes down to it I'm probably a bit like her as well.  (note to Momma Susie - you ought to start a blog to record some of your lifetime and family memories and share them with us!)  I'm just rambling, but in short, thanks mom and dad for your wonderful legacy!  I'll be very proud if my girls grow up to be like me, like their grandmothers, and great-grandmothers!

Mom made a comment on Skype last week that Kaira looks a lot like me as a baby, so I thought I would share a few pictures for fun!

And one with Emmalia for fun!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Super Summer Challenge: Take 1

Growing up in the Hampton Family, the first day of summer break meant the beggining of the "Super Summer Challenge". This sometimes anticipated, sometimes dreaded means of motivation and boredom-busting has finally made its way into our little home : )  Right up there with the hula hoops, finger paints, and water balloons, this Super Summer Challenge will be keeping us busy (and hopefully happy) when its 120 degrees outside.  I'm not sure where this idea originated, but a good friend of my mom's has written the concept into her book:

The basic idea is that mom would pour hours of thought and creativity into a point system by which we would earn some kind of prize by the end of the summer, usually coinciding with a family vacation or other anticipated event.  We would earn points by doing chores, reading books, memorizing scripture, etc.  The words "I'm bored" were never allowed during the summer because we were then pointed to a long list of chores and other activities and told we had no excuse to be bored. 

With Emmalia nearing 3 (with the temperament to match) we decided it was time for a little external motivation to get mommy through the hot summer days.  I created a list of chores Emmalia is capable of helping with and decided which ones are things I just expect her to do when asked and which things she can do to earn points.  She can also earn points by doing kind things for a friend or neighbor, not crying when left at the kids club in the gym, memorizing a bible verse, praying out loud at dinner, putting her head underwater in the pool, etc.  This helps me too in remembering to take the time to do some of the challenges with her, like her bible verses, riding her bike, etc.  The difficulty with creating her first Super Summer Challenge is that she can't read or count, so how do I motivate her to earn points and rewards when she can't read her list of options or count up her points?  So, here's how it goes...

Throughout the day I remind Emmalia how she can earn a point here and there.  She's getting pretty good at remembering some of her favorite ways she can earn points.
When she earns a point, it is in the form of a piece of a rainbow (laminated construction paper) that fits into a neat little cloud pocket.  Each color is an individual laminated piece that stacks on top of the previous one to make a complete rainbow.
When she earns 6 points the rainbow is complete, and upon earning her 7th point she gets to choose a flower from a flower pot she painted and adds it to the bottom of the rainbow picture. 

Each "flower" also has a special reward or activity on it, to keep her motivated along the way!
Most days this works pretty well.  Some days we get a lot of attitude ("NO.  I don't WANT points on my rainbow chart.")  But when we remind her that the big prize when she earns all of her flowers is a special bag of toys and goodies for her plane trip to Washington Island, she happily brings me the dishes while talking about the ferry boat! 

Thanks, mom (and Linda), for this wonderful tradition!