Christmas Gifts for Children… Precedence, Disappointment, and Gratefulness

I heard some mothers talking the other day about how their children were disappointed when they didn’t receive a lot of gifts for Christmas.  It saddened me.  I have a word that has guided my gift giving with my children.

Precedence…. What does that word mean to you?

I looked it up on http://www.dictionary.com/. As I was looking for definitions, most were related to law precedents. That tells me it’s a pretty strong word. I am most interested in the first definition that the American Heritage Dictionary presented:

“An act or instance that may be used as an example in dealing with subsequent similar instances. “
This is the definition that has been a guiding thought for me. In the past, my family has been much more affluent than we are currently. Nevertheless, I have always thought about the precedents that I am setting with my children when we give gifts for celebrate special days and holidays. For instance, even when we could afford it, and wanted to give my children their first bicycles, I would not buy such a gift for Christmas or a birthday. We don’t give many big gifts; we never have.

During the year, I look for gifts that I think they will enjoy. I put them away in a box until their birthdays, Christmas, or an I Love You day. Because I don’t give big gifts, they don’t expect them. Because I don’t give them often, they are thrilled when they receive one.

Does this mean my children are disappointed with their Christmas gifts?  On the contrary, they are happy with what they receive.  Thrilled in fact.

When we don’t set a high precedence of expectation, our children are free to be grateful for the gifts they do receive.  They can truly enjoy their gifts without thought of cost or quantity.

I love my children.  I am not required to give them gifts.  I want to give them gifts.  They know that.  They are thankful and enjoy the gifts because they know I am giving them out of love.

Just something to think about…
Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage
Laura
Keeping it simple for our Savior

“Do You Know What This Is About?”

 
 
I was a barren woman.  I know the pain and anguish of longing for a baby that I could not have.  It took about 2 1/2 years and fertility medicines to conceive.  The result was my son, Matthew.  I absolutely adored him.  I quit my job to become a full-time mommy.  Matthew was the kind of baby that really required full-time.  I felt like I was always nursing, changing, singing, and rocking.  He was a fussy baby and did everything early, very early.  He rolled over for the first time at two weeks old!  We had to take him out of his bassinet shortly after that because he would work himself from one end to the other in the night and end up with his head pressed against the end of the bassinet.  He required a lot of energy night and day.  We also went through some pretty significant financial troubles.  My husband and I were pretty stressed most of the time.  These things and a few others led to our final decision.  We were confirmed one child parents.  No cute little baby could sway our decision.  It was absolutely final.  But God.
 
The year I turned 30, I went to a regular monthly women’s meeting at our church called Women of the Word.  At the end of the evening, I went down to the altar to pray about some long forgotten problem.  What I do remember is the way God took the whole encounter in a completely unexpected direction. 
 
Me…praying along about whatever was on my heart and mind at the time…minding my own business
 
God…”You’re going to have another baby.” 
 
Me…”What?” (Surely I didn’t hear that right.)
 
God… “You’re going to have a baby.”
 
Me…”We’re confirmed one child parents!”
 
God… “You’re going to have another baby.”
 
Me…(A little slow in getting it, but understanding that God was messing with me.)
But….followed by every excuse and every reason why it absolutely wouldn’t work to     have another baby.  Every time I said anything, HE said, “I’ll take care of it.”
 
Finally, I gave Him the big one, “Lowell is NEVER gonna go for this.”
He just said, “I’ll take care of it.”
 
By this time I’m on the floor.  I tell him, “You’d better give me confirmation on this.”  The lady on the floor next to me rolled over and said, “God says you’ve got confirmation.” 
 
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS IS ABOUT?”
“No, but God says you’ve got confirmation.
 
Oh boy.  I went home afraid to tell Lowell what had happened.  The next morning, I woke up; and, it was just as settled in my spirit as if I’d taken a pregnancy test.  I didn’t like it; but, I knew it was going to happen.  BUT, I would NOT take any medications to help it along.  That afternoon, I decided I had to tell Lowell.  His response was “He didn’t say anything to me about it!”
 
Months passed.  Lowell agreed to go to the dr with me to find out what we’d have to do if we wanted to conceive.  More months passed.  Finally, the issue was settled…at a garage sale on top of a mountain!  Lowell was working in Branson.  I was there for the weekend and we stopped at a garage sale.  Lowell waited in the car with Matthew, then 5.  I saw a wind-up baby swing and remembered how sometimes that was the only way to get Matthew to sleep.  One night I slept on the couch and kept winding the swing every time it stopped.  Well, I went out and told him about it.  Lowell said he’d buy it if they’d sell it for $15.  He came back with it.  I knew then that pregnant or not, we were expecting.
 
I tracked temperatures and other important things.  It took two weeks!  God is certainly able to perform His plans in our lives in His timing.  Little Emily took her time getting to us.  She was two weeks overdue when I was induced.  She didn’t want to come out.  It was nice and cozy and warm.  So, after around 24 hours of labor, I had a c-section.  We were instantly in love.
 
A few weeks later, the doctor wanted to talk about birth control.  How could we say no to God after what we’d been through?  We decided let God decide about another child.  Big step very big step for us.  Over time, Michael and Amy joined our family.  They also have miracles surrounding their births.  Space won’t permit me to tell all.  Suffice it to say, that I look at our children in this way.
 
Matthew was the child we prayed for, our first-born.
Emily was the child of our obedience.  We obeyed God even though it wasn’t our will at the time.  God was so sweet though.  By the time I became pregnant, we wanted another baby so very much.
Michael was the child of our submission.  We decided to be submissive to God’s will regarding another child whatever the outcome.
Amy was our “exceedingly abudantly above all we could think or ask” child.  Mind you, when I was two or three weeks pregnant, I went to the doctor for my yearly exam.  Neither of us knew yet.  He asked if we wanted more children, I said we didn’t know.  We were praying.  After two babies born without the assistance of medicine  to get pregnant, he said I’d have to take something if we wanted another child!  A month later, I was in his office and we were laughing about it!
 
The biggest miracle was not the children being born.  The biggest miracle was the change that God wrought in our hearts.  We became much more open to His will for our lives, even if He didn’t fall in line with what we thought we wanted.  He conformed us and transformed us.  I am eternally grateful and blessed.
 
I know the anguish of barreness.  I also know the stubborness of heart when one doesn’t want children.  I also know the peace of surrendering to the Lord and His will for my family.  If you are barren, do not give up.  Continue to pray without ceasing while pursuing the care that your doctor prescribes.  Know that God loves you deeply.  He knows every tear you cry.  Trust in Him and His perfect timing. 

Music Fills Our Home

I had the great privilege to see my daughter, Emily, lead worship Sunday morning with her good friend Chelsea.  It was a joy to see the girls as they gave their attention and adoration to the Lord. 

Music fills our home. Someone’s usually singing; Michael, Emily, and Amy are all learning to play guitar; Emily is learning to play piano.  There’s just a lot of making a joyful noise in our house.  Along with all the talk and noise that kids make, I call it the sountrack of our lives.

Last week we watched the musical, Annie Oakley.  That set off a whole new set of songs.  Here’s one of the kids’ favorites.  I hope you enjoy it!

Laura

History Repeats Itself….

I remember when I was in college, I often found myself up late into the night studying or finishing an assignment due the next morning. Well, I have heard that history repeats itself. Tonight it did. I finished helping Matthew with his college math at about 12:15! A.M.! This is the first assignment he’s had to turn in. I do hope this won’t be a trend. I am a little bit old for this!

Blessings to You!
Laura

Two Heads are Better than One.

“‘But I’m getting old, Mother,’ said the banker wistfully. ‘It’s not as if I could begin all over again.’
‘So am I,’ said Mother cheerfully, ‘But Chris is young, and an old head and a young head together are more than twice as good as just a young head making young mistakes….'”

~Grace Livingston Hill
The Patch of Blue

We’ve made a lot of mistakes, Lowell and I. We both have master’s degrees from the College of Hard Knocks. We’ve learned a lot. We’re still learning a lot about life, business, and how debt can suck the life out of you. ~grin~ The question is, can we truly communicate what we’ve learned to our children? Will they listen? Will they insist on getting their own degrees? Our Matthew is starting college in another week. Will he finish without debt? The first semester will be paid for with a grant. Thank you God! He’s working to get money together for a car. Will he be patient until he saves enough to get a starter car? Will he listen to the wisdom these gray hairs (and lost hair) have accumulated? I hope so; I pray so.

May God grant our children ears to listen and eyes to see and wisdom to discern that which is best in our lives and best for their lives. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

Laura
Hopeful

Friday Night Date Night

Once upon a time, we had only little children. Four children ten and under to be exact. Date nights were far and few between. In fact, when Matthew was little, we only went out as a couple once or twice a year. Those were lean years for us, living on one income, and paying a babysitter and going out just wasn’t possible. I do remember the excitement of getting to go out on a date when he was about 3. The excitement turned to concern and disappointment as he developed a fever that day. I was not about to leave him when he had a fever. So, we improvised. I set up a little table in our bedroom and set it with a pretty tablecloth and china and candles. After I got Matthew to bed early, Lowell went for chinese take out. We ate our cashew chicken dinner by candle light, realizing we were really grown up and had responsibilities; but, our love could still be celebrated.

Fast forward a few years. Grandma Judy would occassionally watch the children; but, as the family grew, they outnumbered her! By the time we had all four of our children, we had started going out once a month with close friends. Matthew and her teenage daughter watched all their kids and all our kids together. Over the years, we went out once a month on a double date. It was a time that we could enjoy each other and our friends.

For about four years now, Matthew has watched the kids for us for a Friday night date night. We don’t always get to go; but, we really try to make it every Friday night. Last week, our date cost about $6. We went to Arby’s with coupons and had sandwiches, drinks, and fries. A few weeks earlier, we went to Subway and shared a $5 footlong and a drink. Yes, over the years, we’ve had some very fancy dates and gone to very nice restaurants. That’s not the season we’re in right now; and, that’s alright. I can enjoy my Honey for $6 just as well as for $30. It’s the one on one that matters.

So, if you’re married, plan to sneak away next Friday night, even for the dollar menu, if necessary. Can’t get away because of your children? Plan an early bedtime for them. Feed them early. Threaten them to stay in bed! ~smile~ Then slip away to set up a table on the porch, in the living room, your bedroom, someplace different. Then serve your meal there. It doesn’t matter so much what it is but who you’re with.

Laura
In Love with My Man
After All These Years

One More Step and He’s In!

I spent yesterday morning at the nearby community college with my oldest son. He’s all enrolled. They’re only waiting for the high school to send his transcript so that they can finish up his financial aid. If all goes well, it’ll all be done this week. He spent the afternoon at orientation for his new job yesterday. He’ll start that Wednesday. Life is going to get very busy very quickly for Matthew.