Potty training

Hi! Today I am going to diverge off my normal path. I recently had one of the young mom’s God has placed in my life ask me about potty training.  So I gave her my tried and true used on every child tips and I thought it would be a good blog post.   I have no desire to tell you how to do it but just share what I have done and what always worked and what did not. Potty training is a big job and with our busy schedules these days it can be a real challenge to get it done. It is wonderful when they are trained so I was always a proponent of the earlier the better. There are so many techniques but you really have to put it before God and do what will work best for you and your child, each individual one.  You need to know what you will and won’t stick with because consistency with potty training is the key.

1. Kids are able to be potty trained earlier than you think.

2. When their diapers are dry for longer periods now is a good time to start taking trips to the potty.

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3. NEVER ask them (especially boys) if they need to go. When they start they will almost always say no. Once they get in the routine of potty training and as they get a little older in the process, they WILL say no. No doesn’t mean they don’t have to go just that they don’t want to.

4. When you go to the potty see how long they are willing to sit there and then make it a little longer. If they dictate when they get off the potty training process will be really long.

5. When I knew my kids were ready I took them once every hour to just sit on the potty for a period of time. (sit them backwards it feel more stable) Little separate potties never worked for us. I was thankful because cleaning those was worse than a diaper.

6. The reward that worked best for us was a sticker chart right by the potty. Little presents for big achievements I would not have kept up with and candy was a no when you have 5 kids under 7. I did not need to deal with that energy boost. They got a sticker on the chart when they went on the potty. Once the chart was full they got a small toy or treat.

7. Deal with wet pants sometimes. Underwear works way better at training than pull ups. In fact I think pull ups are a deception they feel independent but they an pee when they want to if they want to no consequence. Besides it costs more.

8.  I would take them potty when they went to bed. Then I would get up early and check for a dry diaper, if it was dry, off to the potty we went.  I would begin to learn what time this was for each child.  Here is where you see what is important to you.  This is not a have to but I was motivated to get it done so I did this and it always worked.

9. In the potty training years I did not do the drink of water before bed.

There you have it my most tried and true worked with everyone tips.  I hope something resonates with you.

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The Sanctuaries of Man and of God

Recently I was blessed to experience two kinds of beauty; two kinds of creation of sorts.  I have always been fascinated with comparing creations of man to true creation, the world around us that God created.  I had the unique experience of one day being in and surrounded by a stellar example of man’s creation and then a day or so later being out in a place so undeniably beautiful there was no comparison.

My husband and I had been trying for years to have a get away weekend around our birthdays because they are exactly a week apart. This past year we finally succeeded and Hearst Castle was our destination.  We chose an evening tour and sat in a bus winding our way toward the castle surrounded by heavy fog.  It was really neat but there was definitely no opportunity to take in the landscape surrounding the Castle or “Ranch” as Mr. Hearst like to call it.  As you walk in and out of the different areas of the castle there are objects of beauty one on top of another. They were all created at different times and in different places. While I admire it and it was quite fascinating to see it all, a few thoughts came to mind. The ostentatious display of wealth was unavoidable and overpowering. Mr. Hearst clearly needed to display his wealth and power through his possessions.There were so many religious pieces I wondered if he was trying to prove his devotion to God by the unending artifacts. He displayed them despite the fact he lived here with his mistress for more years than he did his wife. As you walked through on the tour it all becomes heavy instead of beautiful.  I was also struck by the fact that this was created and filled in one of this countries deepest times of deprivation The Great Depression. I did find Hearst Castle incredible and beautiful on it’s own merits but it cannot in my opinion compare with what you find when you step into a castle created by God that anyone can enter and enjoy at any moment no matter their current circumstances.

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Just hours away from this man made sanctuary is a true sanctuary of beauty. Incomprehensible beauty you could see again and again. You would never be able to get enough and you would never be burdened or bored.  Yosemite is an amazing place!  It brings peace and release to the soul. You can go from corridor to corridor and never get bored of the story God is telling. You could see scenes again and again and never feel weighed down by what surrounds you.  You never find yourself going ugh more of this.

As I reflect on all of this I am struck by what fascinates me.It is not as if I am not intrigued by what man has made, I am.  I always find myself intrigued and wondering what did they build and why did they build it.  But when I get there I am always left empty especially when the purpose was to glorify themselves. Hearst claimed or wanted “The Ranch” to be a retreat so ostensibly to benefit others but that is not what comes across. On the tour you learn he was constantly building even when he was going bankrupt .  He was clearly seeking something and never finding it when all he had to do was step outside and find peace for his soul in the castle of God created all around him.
More and more we are being enticed to stay indoors, slowly, in a fashion we don’t readily recognize.  There is peace outside our doors and off of our screens.  It is amazing how much we, as people seek what is right outside their door. “Of books (blog posts and social media sites) there is no end”. Even I who love and deeply feel peace and strength when I engage in the castle and creation of God get caught and become enslaved.  I run in and out of the house, to and fro never noticing or really taking in the peace that surrounds me, the freedom He created for us! We can try to create our own peace but it is never the same and it never satisfies. So step outside today and just be, soak in what He freely gives that you don’t have to create. It is there even in the city.

Mary and Martha

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Each day I am working through this illness. I am trying to be quiet and stay open to what God has for me.  As I slowly get better I once again find myself chomping at the bit.Okay Lord I got it I am ready to be done thanks for the quiet time!  I am ready to move on. I am determining how my life will go and putting it before God.  The funny thing is this is what I was supposed to be learning about through this quiet time.  I am supposed to be sitting quietly at His feet watching Him work instead of me. Yet here I am as I regain a tiny bit of strength ready to move on and get back to doing things myself.

One day last week I woke up and I felt strong, I felt like I had energy.  It was the first time I had felt like that in weeks and despite the amazing time I had been having with Jesus I was ecstatic to finally be moving on, or so I thought.  For all my talk of being open to what God had for me each day the moment I received a touch of my own strength back I was planning my recovery and everything I would now be doing.  God had other plans.  I am thankful for this now but the next morning when I woke up and the days that followed where I was struggling with strength and body breakdowns I started to shut down.  I started once again to question everything.  Why was I doing anything I had been striving for, what is the point? I couldn’t accomplish anything on a regular basis. The thoughts just kept coming, each day more questions and peace was quickly left behind me. I was in the Word less and I had been diving deeper than I had in awhile. I prayed for others less and that is what a lot of my time had been spent doing since I physically could do nothing else.

Finally one day, I was still reading and praying just not the way I had been.  I was reading, I don’t know what at the time, but the Holy Spirit broke through and told me I was leaving Mary behind to be Martha again.  Not only that, but a lot of my concern was what other people were thinking because it was taking me so long to get better.  He has been working on me for a few years knowing my desire to get back to Him, to get to the intimacy I once had.  For the first time when my body broke down I was at peace to take it day by day and spend time with Him. In this a whisper began to emerge and get louder. I was thinking of all the Martha’s out there saying Lord why isn’t she working, why don’t you make her serve.  We are and we have physical issues.  I started to question the quiet, and the battle was on.

That day Jesus turned the light on. He reminded me once again that He loved what Mary did sitting before Him listening and learning.  He loved that I was doing this and He was not looking for me to assuage Martha and make her feel better, not the Martha’s in the church, nor the Martha I had cultivated in myself.

Now I write this as if this battle is over and since the light got turned on I can see, but let me be honest the battle is still going.  I am trying once again to rest and sit before Him in peace.  I am trying once again to take things one day at a time.  Today I felt better and I tried not to jump up and spend time doing things but I tried to spend my time with Him.  Was I successful? Not completely but when God put something before for me I have learned the path that He takes at times. Very rarely does He turn things around in an instant. Usually with me He points something out. Then I begin to notice I am doing it and I pay attention to what He has pointed out.  Then I make a change, small at first and then little by little the transformation and renewing of my mind happens.  It happens in such a way that I look back amazed that I once made other choices and I wouldn’t think of making those choices now.  Not because I have to or was told to or I am conforming to some law or code somehow, but because I have been transformed by God. The old has become new.  That part of me does not exist anymore and I am so thankful.

So as I begin this transformation, if you are reading this thanks for being a part of His process.  I hope you look to Him and see the amazing ways He is transforming you.  Below I have included a song of worship that speaks to His work of transformation in our lives.  I hope you enjoy it!

Mercy Me ~Shake

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New direction and New paths open up in 2017

God is always stunning and amazing to me when I let go and put my life in His hands.

January came and went and a quiet start was God’s plan for this new year. As I sat recovering from pneumonia and with lots of time to think and put the coming year before God, I felt a deeper call to be quiet.  I began to understand He had started the year in this way on purpose. I mean of course He had, He has a purpose and a plan for everything but once again it all came together.  He had been preparing my husband and I for changes throughout 2016 but we were not sure where He was going or what He wanted us to do.  We just faithfully listened and kept moving forward.

God is always stunning and amazing to me when I let go and put my life in His hands. In 2016 we had a record year of travel it was amazing and wonderful to outstretched-cupped-handsconnect with so many family members and friends and to see many beautiful places.  I could feel life making great shifts and I vacillated throughout the year between scared and excited but mostly excited.  We were on a new path with significant change. My adult children were pursuing new directions and hearing God in their own lives,that in itself was exciting to watch.  God was doing things with my husband and his career and his view of it. He was changing where I put my focus and what I pursued day-to-day as I moved forward.  I think throughout the year we would stop and go “Huh, where is God going with all of this.” As I reflect in writing this I see each of us saying to the other throughout the year “Just do what is in front of you today, you don’t know where God is going with this but He loves you and has a plan.” Even that in itself is amazing and one of the reasons I know God had me start writing this blog. He reveals new things to me each time I write. He always has through writing this is just a new dimension. Now as 2017 opens and new horizons appear before us I don’t feel scared but the fact that big changes are actually before us makes me pause and take a breath.

I have spent so much time of my life fearing what was coming and how I would handle it.  I would try to look at all the scenarios I would possibly face and in some way try to prepare for them mentally or by the way I handled my life.  In different ways throughout the years God has been trying to get me to loosen my grasp on this way of doing things.  Often I would find my mind thinking on some disaster that might occur,this way of thinking came to me early in life.  Throughout my life there were these huge ,somewhat out of nowhere, events that would happen changing my life diametrically and in some ways not for the better for a time.  This left me always trying to prep and avoid the unexpected.  The thing I learned over the years is life does not happen in the way you prepare for it.  While you are looking over here something pops over there.  In little steps God held my hand as I walked this road and tried to navigate all these twists and turns on my own.

Looking back I can see Him asking me to follow Him let Him take the lead.  It is funny to think of the times I did and the times I didn’t and the differences of where I ended up each time.  Having my 7 kids was one of those following moments transitioning from teens to adults was one of the times I took my own path.  I have the results of both displayed before me one has beautiful and amazing results despite the inherent difficulties throughout the years and the other was fraught with confusion and heartache.  As I came out of this and surrender myself to following Him again the paths before me began to open up but my instinct to plan and protect myself hung on.

God is so amazingly faithful despite all the little dances we do to orchestrate our own life.  So as I sat healing and being quiet learning on a deeper level to take one day at a time,news came.  Here is where we can miss His provision. I am thankful I have not been fighting with Him about being incapacitated with this illness. I am thankful I have been sitting quietly as He asked and waiting on Him.  In this valley a new vista opened up and word came down that after 28 years with his company and moving with many, many changes over the years,permanent changes were in the works.  The company was selling his division.  It is unheard of to be with a company almost 30 years these days but it has been such a gift from God as we raised the 7 gifts.  There was so much God had been showing us throughout 2016 preparing us for this change without saying exactly what it would be. There are so many options before us now as we look at the changes but we both feel ready and understand God has been preparing us and He has a plan.

So now as we look at 2017 the path looks very different and the quietness makes sense. We will not be proceeding from where we werjoroy500ncc-toni-lluche in 2016 but on a whole new road. We will have huge decisions to make as career and life take a new turn. As things we have done for almost 30 years associated with one large company changes. On one hand I want to close my eyes and I don’t want anything to change; as much I have been craving change now that it is here I feel a bit daunted my how many areas of our life this will affect. This is not just a job change at this point and at this stage of life. But this year of letting go and trusting God happened for a reason.  Last year all year I could hear Him urging me trust me look at your heart you aren’t trusting me you are relying on your own abilities. Little by little in His sweet gentle way He has led me along and now we stand here looking out at a new horizon and I want to follow. I don’t want to take control and try to guide this. I have done that too much in life and as I look back I am firm in my understanding that, that way does not work. I am clear that the worlds way of doing it ,experience it yourself, you have to go through these things to know, is the lie that started with Eve. For the moment and I hope forever I am done with that path; I have seen and experienced the difference of trusting Him and there is no comparison. Each holds difficulty and struggle but one has joy and strength and amazing gifts attached and the other has just heartaches and confusion. 

A month and a half has flown by in our journey through 2017. I am thankful for the quiet brought on by illness. Thank you Jesus for the time to reflect. Thank you for all the change and thank you that we can look to You in the face of it all.

Aging vs. Wisdom

How do you define close minded and what makes it different from standing firm?

ulz8elesybm-lotte-meijer.jpgAre we set in our ways, and closed-minded or someone to turn to and look for wisdom as we age?  I don’t know if that is even the question.  God has given me the opportunity to deal with both the young and the old intimately in my lifetime and I have learned so much.  Is an older person close minded or standing firm? How do we stand firm as we age based on our knowledge and wisdom and still show the love of Christ? There is so much pride wrapped up in all of this on both sides, as always we need to go back to where God calls us. What does He have to say about age and open our hearts to what He wants to show us.

As I have read my bible over the years, verses about aging have crossed my path and being that I had older people in my life that I loved very much they stuck here and there. On being led to write this blog post I sat down to look up the references to age in the bible and while I knew they were there and I could marginally quote a few, the number I encountered was unexpected and so cool really!

Proverbs 16:31

Isaiah 46:4

Job 12:12

Psalm 92:1

Proverbs 23:22

Job 32:7

Psalm 143:5

We are called to honor age. We are called to look to the wisdom of those older than us. Now as I age this seems stupid and self promoting really.  “Listen to me because I am older and God tells you to”, but that is not my heart. I am really listening to the speak around me about people and aging. There is much thought about people being set in their ways or unwilling to change, and looking at my own heart I had to ask, where do I stand? Am I getting more closed as I age? Am I unwilling to listen and change? The Holy Spirit began to point me in a direction as I thought about aging. He asked me questions about why I stood where I did? Why do I take the position I have on certain things? As I answered these questions I began to understand that I don’t stand because I have to be right or because I need someone to do things my way but rather because I have often  been there, done that and I am not doing it again.  I know the path I am on and why I have made certain choices over the years and I don’t need to question or back track. With this in mind the Holy Spirit opens the doors of my mind even more. I had already had a respect for those older than I out of obedience to God. This is what originally led me to listen and as I did to learn amazing things but now He has added a new dimension.

stoneHow do you define close minded and what makes it different from standing firm?  What He brought to mind is close minded is being unwilling to listen.  God created all people, He crafted them especially for a purpose. Everyone has something of value to say. We may not agree with everything a person is saying but still there is something God wants to teach us in what they are saying.  Often times I have found He is teaching me where I actually stand on something or why I think or feel a certain way.  He takes the opportunity to take me into a deeper understanding of something I may have only briefly thought about. I am always so grateful for this and grateful for the different people God has placed in my life. I love going deeper and get a more rooted understanding of why I think and feel the way I do. So even if I disagree I can listen and participate in conversations where I don’t necessarily agree.  Standing firm, He showed me, is knowing who He created me to be and the events and circumstances He has placed in my life that brought me to the point I am in my thoughts and actions.  I have spent time looking at Him and time looking away. I have done things my way and I have done them His way. Year upon year rolls by and I know why I am making a certain choice and why I am not. There is no question. I am not going to turn back so I can seem or feel that I am being open. I have 47 years at this point of choices that brought me to my conclusions about my choices. So with this same view I am now able to see the wisdom of those people He has put in my life. I can seek out these people and listen to their stories and opinions with an open and loving heart.

God has continued over the years to put older people in my life and as He opened the doors of my mind to love people and see what He created in them I began to see a beautiful garden of wisdom before me.  I began to sit and listen to what they had experienced in life, poppy-381589__340the choices they had made and how and why they made them and put them before God.  I was stunned at what I saw. I am learning to ask questions about why they say the things they do or the choices they make, what led them there.  I have been excited to see how even though some approach God very differently then I do they have an amazing faith. I have seen and heard how they have worked through and endured things that I did not really think people faced too much way back when. I have learned that some of their reactive statements came out of fear and by asking clarifying questions when they were saying something caustic or accusatory so much more was revealed about their thought process and why they come to certain conclusions or what made them say something in just that way. What it of course has come back to is the love of Jesus.

When we approach things with the love of Jesus our perspective changes. We are open and listening. We see who God created the person in front of us to be. He reveals some aspect of their heart we need to see in that moment and we He gives us the ability to love them and learn from them. We don’t need to approach age with fear and close the doors of our mind no matter what side of the age door we find ourselves on.

How are we set apart with regards to age? I know what God is sayirise-1503340__340ng about age, we are to honor it. I know He says there is wisdom to be found there and I intend to look and see. I intend to dig deep and know Him more by talking to and listening to the people He puts in front of me.  As I age I intend to love and be open but still  at times I will stand firm because I have come to my conclusions  as I walked this path with God and I know the outcome of certain choices. I will stand firm in love and make my choices based on experience and not pride. I will open my heart to all of God’s creations so I can learn all the lessons He has for me. I will seek wisdom and pursue it.