Friday, April 29, 2011

Loving Mom: Donna and Sharon's Excellent Adventures #1 {Mother's Day Free Printable}

"A mother is the truest friend we have…”
~Washington Irving
Mom and me making Apple Crisp on Christmas Day
This is my precious mom.  She lives a short 20 minutes away, and we see each other at all the birthdays, holidays and basketball games, but have a hard time making time 
"just for us."  So I have decided to start a little event called,
"Donna and Sharon's Excellent Adventures!"
Once a month, we are going to explore the city of Dallas. 
Our April adventure was to journey south of downtown to the 
Bishop Arts District.
 Coppell, our "Leave it to Beaver" community, is a great place to raise kids,  but we definitely lack  visually stimulating architecture and unique culinary businesses.
Bishop Arts has it ALL! 

We started with lunch at Oddfellows, a modern day diner of sorts, but SOOO much more hip than the Local Diner in Coppell~ and you will swoon over the coffee!!!
We ate the most amazing spinach salad and fried green tomato sandwich~ YES!  Fried Green Tomatoes!!
 Check out the cool outdoor coffee bar~ A DREAM!
The piano is located right outside just in case you get the urge to run your fingers up and down the keys!
After a walk around this little area of precious shops, we stumbled upon this treasure....
The Soda Gallery is the most nostalgic collection of new "old" bottled sodas~ 
Mom and I found great "talking points" for story-telling as we looked around...
As we sipped on an Orange Crush, we relived Mom's days as a little girl hanging out with her daddy, J.L. Newsom, at his Cotton Gin.  She would hang out with the guys at the Gin, watch them play dominoes, get a nickel for the soda machine from her daddy and drink an Orange Crush. When I came along, I went to the gin to hang out, too, and drank Orange Crush out of a clear bottle just like the one we're drinking from in the picture.  
But Mom remembered drinking her Orange Crush out of a brown bottle.
Robert, the manager of the shop, heard Mom mention the brown bottle, led us to the back of the store and showed us this vintage Orange Crush in a brown bottle~
 just as mom remembered!  We were delighted!
They have a wonderful collection of vintage pieces throughout the place.  
Take the one you love to the Soda Shop for some terrific story telling and memory making!
You might even consider starting a little event called 
Excellent Adventures with your mom!

{Mother's Day is May 8th}
So here is a little printable from the TomKat Studio so you can get a head start making something special for your mom~  Next week I'm featuring more Mother's Day goodness!
Or if you are really industrious, you might make this by Just Something I Made:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New Life! Austin's Journey of Faith {Free Printable}

"I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 
will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you."

At four years old, Austin asked us what the little song playing on the cassette player meant as we sang along to the words, "Bullfrogs and Butterflies have both been born again..." 
He said he wanted to be born again, too~  
At 9 years old, he heard a man in Sunday School tell of Jesus death on the cross~ that Jesus had taken our punishment,
that Jesus died for usthat Jesus came back to life as proof that he was God.  Right there in Sunday school, Austin prayed that Jesus would forgive his sins and committed to trust in God alone.  The next morning while I was drinking my coffee, he came downstairs and climbed into my lap.
"I feel like a completely different person~ 
Jesus has changed me!" he said.
Through the next several years, God pursued Austin through His people in the context Bible studies with his dad, mission trips, summer camp and Young Life.
  And on Easter Sunday, Austin was Baptized.
And Mr. Wonderful captured it on his iphone....
{Note the voice at the end, "That's my boy!" 
coming from big brother Blake!}
As the family shared our Pa Nang Salmon and Pad Tai Chicken at Baan Thai {a Mankin family favortite} the night before, Austin told us that he was looking forward to his baptism.  "Now that I'm almost a senior in high school, 
I see my baptism as a time where I can declare my faith as my own."  
And declare it he did!
I think I'll download this free printable from Good Gravy and put it in Austin's room as a reminder of the courage it takes to make that journey to manhood.
Building a foundation of faith in your child takes the work of ALL the Saints!  We are humbled and grateful for the investment of so many in the life of our boy.  
It is by the authentic, unconditional demonstrations of faith he has witnessed in the body of Christ that he has come this far.  For THAT, we will be ETERNALLY grateful!

Want to be more adept at talking to your kids about faith? 
You might read "Leading Your Child to Christ" for some ideas.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter JOY~ How NOW shall we LIVE?

{Yes, at our house, we did it all...}

In contrast to the darkness of Friday...
It was a day of laughter and JOY and family, 
food and chocolate.
Now it's Monday... and the plastic eggs are packed in the attic and the chocolate is haunting me from the candy dish...

And all I can think about is THE ONE who still remains.
 And unlike the momentary high I got from 
those pretty pastel colored M & M's, 
He is Ever Faithful, 
Always Present, 
Always Pursuing, 
Always Forgiving.
HE is worthy of our on-going PRAISE.
"And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God."
Luke 24:50-53

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Weight of Good Friday {Love Perfected}

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: 
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  
Rom. 5:8 

You took fire so we could walk free.

You took violence so we could be victors.

You took hell so we could be healed.

Sin hurt You far deeper than the spikes.

And You let the horrors of satan take a swipe at You so that all horrific sin could be wiped clean.

And You knew it all along.

You were conceived into skin for the Cross — 

the cave of that manger beginning glimpsing the cave of Your Messiah, martyred endings.

You who had no beginning, You were born for this, for the blood, 

that we might be reborn to life.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Loving Your Teenager: Communication Fail to Effective Listener

"The first duty of love is to listen." ~Tillich
My sweet Emily Jane, 7th Grade
Sometime during Emily's 7th grade year, the door flew open after school 
and in trudged my girl...she had a lot on her mind.  I stood behind the kitchen counter, ready to offer a snack as Emily hopped up on the bar stool, opened her metal adorned mouth and began to talk.  

On her mind, was the behavior of her dear friend, Courtney, 
who was, as she put it, "acting crazy."  
Tails of Courtney's antics with boys, diva attitude and questionable wardrobe spewed out in a frantic barrage of words that left me reeling.  My internal "safety" meter began to flail.  I reacted as if I was watching a scene from a horror movie~ my face contorted in panic and for added emphasis, I gasped, threw my hand over my mouth; and peered at her through eyes squeezed tight. 

Before Emily could finish, I joined her tirade, saying something like this,
 "Well, that is just INCREDIBLE.  What in the world is she thinking? She is obviously insecure, looking for acceptance and needs someone to tell her a thing or two!"

At which point Emily, equally shocked at my response, 
hopped off the bar stool and stomped up stairs as she screamed,
 "Oh, MOM! You don't even really know this girl!  She isn't a bad girl, 
she is just confused!

And that was the end of that!
Sitting alone, mouth agape, exhaling a sigh of confusion, I realized in that moment that I had a lot to learn about mothering a teenager.  And it had to do with LISTENING.   
So I began to pray for a second chance.

In the meantime, I consulted our dear friend and pastorCharley Hellmuth.

This was his advice:
"The best way to handle teenagers is to ask them questions that lead them to speak the truth for themselves.  Once they say the right things, they can't argue with their own defense.  This is the only way to discover if they are filtering life through a Christian world view."  

My second chance came a week later when Emily began to talk to me again at bedtime. 
I put on my "poker face," listening with occasional nods, interjecting  
 validating statements like:
"That must have hurt your feelings."
"I can tell you have really been thinking about this."
and a then a REALLY great question to wrap up the conversation:
"What do YOU think about this?"
As she considered the question, she answered me with great insight regarding her situation.
  I told her I was proud of her and that she was very wise.  
After a short prayer, I kissed her and turned out the light.
As I left her room, I was teary-eyed~  so very grateful for wise counsel and second chances.

My last teenager will graduate from high school next year and there are times when I still parent out of FEAR instead of FAITH.  Since Austin is the only one at home now, 
all of my parenting power is laser focused on him, bless his heart.  
Sometimes I have to put on a virtual "straight jacket" to hold myself back from 
telling Austin what to do.  But in the victorious moments when my "poker face" is in tact and my breathing is steady and even, my Austin steps up to the plate and I realize that he knows more than I give him credit for.  
Then I rejoice when I realize that all these years of pouring myself out like a drink offering have been worth it, 
and I am steadily working myself out of a job. 
My nearly grown up kids: Austin, Emily and Blake 
{Bottom LINE}
Don't panic when your teens open up {if you begin to panic, put on your poker face!}
Be an "active" listener and draw the answers from your teenager.
Before offering opinions or telling them what to do, ask this question, 
"What do YOU think you should do about this?"

There are still times when "Making yourself perfectly clear on a subject" is absolutely imperative, but investigate the heart of your teen before you shift into the mode of a dictator.
They really will love you for it!

{Tools for the Journey}
Here is a very helpful tool on my bookshelf regarding this subject:
by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish   

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Lesson on Love: First Corinthians Thirteen

"Now these three remain. 
Faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13 

I heard a great message on love last week by Alice McQuitty.  
It was a hard to hear, very good message on the reality of just how hard it is to love well.
Good thing is... God makes himself perfectly clear on the subject.

We often read the "love" passages as "feel good" poetry at weddings.  
But when you read it as a filter on your life, as a means of giving yourself a "grade" on your current status of loving others, it gets real serious, real fast.

For years, I have prayed for a tough skin and soft heart so I could receive instruction from God's word.  
The Holy Spirit's conviction often stings at first, but transforming your life in response to it leads to victory~ and THAT is something that feels GOOD.

Here are two tools for you if you are serious about loving well.

1. Listen to Alice McQuitty's message on love here.

This is Alice with her sweet grandaughter Madeline Mae.
{Even more precious... her grandchildren call her "Honey"!}
She love's God's word and is great at helping us apply it to our lives.
I think you will enjoy her lesson on love.

2.  Print out the following little reminder.

These pretty printables from Brooke will keep it front and center.  I love the second one, where you can put  your name in the blanks.  I did this {ever so cautiously} because I knew by doing so, I would be challenged to apply it all...

Find Brooke's printables from Playing Grown Up here

After you write your name in the blanks, read it OUT LOUD and consider it ALL.  Then make a plan for shedding those behaviors that don't look like love.  
Praying for you {and me} today, that we would embrace the challenge to do whatever it takes to show love.  In the end, it really is all that matters.