How Do I Make Friends?

From a forum at the Homeschool Lounge:

Q. “I was just wondering how everyones kids make friends? I am a hsing mom of 5 and I know that it has not been easy for my children to make new friends at all. We live around a ton of kids but, they are not exactly the type that I want my children to befriend. I would love to hear how everyone elses children are doing on this. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.”

The best way to make friends is to be friendly!

This means allowing yourself to be vulnerable and inviting families into your home.

Your children will get to know the guest family’s children while you get to know the parents at the same time.

Inviting people into your life takes a lot of faith – trusting in God that even if people fail you (cuz they will!) that the Lord will comfort you, sustain you, and that you can work through broken relationships for God’s glory.

A safe way to get your feet wet in fellowship ministry is to start by inviting families over from church. You don’t have to make a gourmet meal – a large pot of spaghetti goes a long way, and you can allow the guest family to bless your family by having them bring dinner rolls or a salad. Jello with a dollop of whipped cream is an easy, tasty dessert. Think of ways to be a blessing to your guests whether they be adults or children.

From there, invite over neighbors, people from your husband’s work, people in homeschool groups… the list goes on.

It is through fellowship with others than lasting relationships are developed.

Sure, you might get to know people without inviting them into your home – but there will always be a wall there.

Face to Face: Meditations on Friendship and Hospitality by Steve Wilkins is a good resource for thoughts on developing deep, God honoring friendships.

Much love,
SJA :)

LATER that day….

Someone else responded to my post and included the line, “Playlands and parks are not permanent places to meet friends, just someone to play with at that moment.”

So I replied:

I am somewhat concerned, but at the same time we are to be the like the salt of the earth.

God closed all of the doors when we bought our house, except for the one that forced us to move to the city.

And guess what I found out? God lives in the city, too!!

Do you know what we do with our unruly neighborhood kids? We love them, invite them into our homes (and we do a “pocket check” when it’s time for them to go home) and we feed them lunch or snacks if the clock dictates so. Sometimes we send clothes home with them, when we notice that they have worn the same thing for a week straight.

Do you know else we do with them? Bring them to church with us to Pioneer Clubs! I also hosted a summer vacation Bible school (we did Peacemaker Clubs) last year with two other Christian moms in my neighborhood. We set out a lovely breakfast spread to encourage unchurched moms to stay and listen — and they DID! Not only did they hear the gospel, they also learned about behavior and conflict resolution. It CHANGED the way our neighbor kids – and we have a tough bunch! – related to each other, for God’s glory.

BTW, do you know where I met my Christian husband? At a bowling alley. God is there, and he’s also in neighborhood parks.

Ladies, I would like to challenge you to re-think why you choose to isolate yourselves from others and why you would say things like “I would never”. I really believe that you are choosing to miss out on opportunities to share God’s love with others.

Why wouldn’t you want to make permanent friends with people at a park? People at your neighborhood park are just that – neighbors. What does it mean to “love your neighbor as yourself” ? You can’t love someone unless you have a relationship with them.

May I also suggest that if you let non-Christian children into your home that you are RIGHT THERE to supervise the situation. As the lady of the house, you have the authority to send swearing, fighting boys home if you need to.

I have, at 9 months pregnant, stepped in (hey, I believe God is control and that no one will harm me without God’s authority – I cannot say the Bible is true in this respect and still live in fear!) and broke up a fist fight between neighborhood boys in my living room. It’s not like I could just sit there and cry! I had to DO something! Because I have been strict with them while they are in my house, I firmly told them they will stop and seek each other’s forgiveness – that they were sinning against each other and against God. Do you know what these tough little boys did? They obeyed me. And, they played very nicely after that. They knew that if they didn’t, that they’d get sent right home – a place they didn’t want to go because they are not loved there.

If you don’t like the kids in your neighborhood, PRAY for them fervently. Submit yourself to the Lord and beg him to bring you opportunities to share the gospel with them. Ask Him to work in the hearts of the little ones that He has put right under your nose.

Luke 18:16-17 But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”

Much love,

Taking Back the Day: Reclaiming a Bad Day for God’s Glory

Dear L&F,

How are you doing?

I hope you are enjoying each day that the Lord gives to you!

Sometimes, if I am having a particularly terrible day, Psalm 11:24 serves as a kick-in-the-pants reminder for me:

“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Reading this helps me to stop thinking (okay, the more specific words would be stewing or worrying) about my problems and to instead think about ways to apply this verse to my day.

When the day is so bad that I wish that I could just start it over, I look for ways to do just that. I call it, “Taking Back the Day”.

I might put on some pleasant music – especially music that is edifying to the soul, like hymns. I concentrate on the words, and I find it’s very hard to sulk after that.

Or, I might do something different from the normal routine like packing everyone up and going for a walk or to the Dollar Tree.

If there seems to be “nothing” (and I put it in quotes, because, really, there is always something – even if it is just the air we breathe) I try to actively find things to create or do to lift the dark clouds, thanking God for each step of the process. I might walk around a room and thank God for providing every little thing I see. It sounds silly but it works!

Another thing to do that is fun is to look through photos and thank God for happy memories and for the people we see in each picture. We can take a moment to pray for each one specifically or to thank God for allowing us the pleasure of knowing that person while they were still alive and for the influence they had on our family.

“Taking Back the Day” isn’t just to make us feel better, it is reclaiming it for God’s glory.

Sometimes days are bad, not just because of events beyond our control, but because of the way we have responded to them. If this is the case, reclaiming the day for God’s glory must include, and even begin with, confession of sin. This means attitudes we have or things we have said or done in selfishness, anger or revenge. Or, we may need to confess that we have not had a thankful heart throughout the day.

We must also go back and be reconciled to the people we have sinned against. We must never blame the bad day for our sin – though we can certainly explain what happened that day because the people in our life care about us and can give us a much-needed hug!

Remember, bad days only bring out things that are already stored in our hearts:

Matthew 12:34-35 says, “(34c)For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (35)For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. ”

We can reclaim the day for God’s glory no matter how late into our bad day by confessing our sin to God and to others, and by obeying God’s word. Meditate on things from Philippians 4:4-9. Notice how this passage begins with rejoicing?

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Some of the suggestions I mentioned before are helpful ways to find lovely things :)

I hope that this note finds you both having a good day – one where things that cause your heart to rejoice seem to be all around you and obviously so!

I love you both very much and I write these important things to you because I wish that someone had written them to me when I was your age. If you know and practice these things, not only will you be more mature than most adults, you will find that your life will be enjoyable because your relationship with God is strong and because you trust in Him during both good time as and bad times.

If I’m ever having a bad day, please remind me what I wrote okay?

[Noted personal prayer requests]

Let me know how I can pray for you!

Much love,
Mrs. Albrecht

Photo credit: Iheartlinen via Flickr

Differences Over Childcare; Thoughts on Temptation

Here’s a snip from a discussion I started on a public message board (over 1,300 members now!). In my post, I had asked for advice on hiring a mother’s helper – how much to pay, what responsibilities should be include, etc.

This was one reply to my question:

I have never used a mothers helper. I would never allow another female into my home around my dh and dc. Unless it was a family member. And there are some family members that I would not trust. I have seen too many movies and heard about too many real life situations about how these things turn out. I try to handle all things related to the dc myself. That is my job since dh works outside the home.

It may be a little hard to get everything done sometimes, but it is better than worrying about if someone else is treating my dc right. I have seen situations where the dc end up liking the mothers helper better than their own mother. No, I could not do it. I would not even trust a teen girl because there is so much going on nowadays and adults being accused of things.

I think my household would go much smoother without letting someone else interfere.

Below is my response. I hope that it will encourage others to think about taking risks vs. potentially isolating themselves from ministry opportunities because of a possible outcome.

(Please feel free to leave a comment as to how you have either grown in the area of reaching beyond your comfort zone or how the Lord has helped you overcome a temptation!)

Dear ——–,

Respectfully, statistically 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by family members. The only family members who are available to watch my children during the day are teenage boys. As much as I love them, and am in no way implying that they are perverted, I don’t feel comfortable with them caring for my baby girls because I know that some of them are at an age where they are very curious about the female body and it could be a temptation to peek. I love them so much I would not want to tempt them in this way.*

Honestly, It was hard for me to read your post. I thought it was kinda hurtful. “I would never” is an absolute statement and could imply that your way is the only way and that those who do otherwise are inferior. Your post also seemed to imply that it was shameful for a wife to seek help in order to keep up with her role-specific job.

When my husband is overseas for weeks on end and I do not have a break, I admittedly fall behind sometimes. In this situation, it seems like I can address the urgent chores and not the deep cleaning stuff. Yet, because of his travel, if I waited until he was home, I would perpetually never get the “deep cleaning” done.

During these time, I do need fellow Christians to encourage me in the Lord and walk along side of me. In the past, I have appreciated when friends have allowed me to borrow their dear Christian daughters to lend a hand with children so I can clean out the linen closet or give an extra effort to scrubbing the grout in the tub without worrying if my children are getting into trouble while I work. I don’t live in a one-roomed house – I can’t physically see them all the time! My 5 children are each about 14 months apart, and are not quite old enough to be self-governed if I need to concentrate on something for an extended period of time. Please consider that having extra help for children keeps them from being tempted to sin just because mommy isn’t looking.

I’m really am happy for you that you are able to manage to take care of “all things related to the dc and myself.” Praise God that he has given you this ability!

Please also consider that there are Christian sisters out there who may be suffering with migraines or physical problems, such as myself, or maybe are under a particular amount of stress – like not seeing their husband for over 40 days! – who could really benefit from your housekeeping and responsibility balancing expertise. I do hope that if you have that opportunity that you will do it with a servants heart, humble, loving and for God’s glory.

May I also suggest that scripture tells us that fellowship with other Christians is a necessary part of our Christian walk. Having a young woman in the home provides fellowship and an opportunity to mentor her, encourage her in the Lord, showing her first hand what a joy it is to be a mommy (how many GOOD examples do teenage girls have these days about motherhood? They are told, “don’t get married or have kids – you’ll never achieve YOUR CAREER!”). We must be careful not to become prideful in our faith and think that we don’t need to allow other Christians to use their gifts and talents on our turf.

It is hard to overcome fears of people interfering or fears of the things “going on nowadays and adults being accused of things.” However, our trust is in the Lord and we must realize that, to effectively minister to people, we are going to have to take risks. Think of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. Joseph was falsely accused, but we know that IT WAS PART OF GOD’S PLAN for Joseph to minister to Pharaoh. If it hadn’t been for being falsely accused, Joseph would have never been in the position to help his family avoid starvation.

All throughout scripture, we see people stepping outside of their comfort zone and taking risks. Think of the ultimate example we have in Christ. Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners, after all. That was pretty risky! When the Pharisees talked down to Jesus and chastised him for this appearance of evil, Jesus said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick!” What should this tell us about interacting with others? When I read this passage, it gives me courage.

Much love,

*I would say that we do have to be careful not to purposefully place ourselves or others in a tempting situation.

It probably wouldn’t be smart to leave a teenage girl home alone with a man as a “father’s helper”. And, we must think realistically here, if a woman struggled with lusting after teenage girls it probably wouldn’t be wise for her to hire a young girl as a helper, either. In these exceptions, dropping the children off at a trusted as-needed-daycare provider may be a better solution.

On the other hand, I have hired young men for lawn care when my husband was traveling and I was pregnant and physically unable to do the work. Sometimes there is no avoiding situations like this. Or, more recently, I had to hire someone to fix my boiler. Guess what? Heating and air condition repairs are jobs normally done by men. It’s not like I could say, “I’m sorry, I only let women into my house”. It was 18 degrees out and I needed my boiler fixed!

Wise women know how to deal with other people and treat them in a respectful and platonic way. I did NOT answer the door in a towel, nor did I speak of obscene activities. Duh.

I also made sure that my husband knew the repair company I called and the time the repairman would be at the house. I called my husband as soon as he left – not just to relay the cost of the bill, but to let him know that all went well and that he didn’t have to be concerned about me.

Who knows, maybe a woman reading this is sexually tempted by the repairman. Perhaps she could ask a trusted friend to visit for coffee during that time and keep her accountable so that she wouldn’t be alone.

God never places us in a tempting situation where we are FORCED to sin. He promises we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. Part of this process is seeking wisdom from God, and thinking of God-honoring solutions to get us through.

Deuteronomy 8:2 “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

I Corinthians 6:18-19; I Corinthians 6:23-24 “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” vs. 23-24 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

I Corinthians 10:12-13 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

Motorcycle Permit

I passed!

With a permit, I can only drive during the day and without passengers.

For those of you who don’t know, we bought a motorcycle (a royal blue Honda Shadow 600vlx) last weekend. There was no way I was going to be the wife who owned a bike but didn’t know how to ride it! Actually, I feel more comfortable with riding (behind Tom or on my own) after reading the safety manual. I think the trickier part will be just being more mindful of being seen by other vehicles.

The next step towards a license is taking a motorcycle class. Hopefully, I can get into the same one my brothers in law are taking! Bikes are provided for the class. They teach you how to completely operate the bike. It’s like a driver’s training class.

In order to get a motorcycle license through the class, one must pass the course and then take a written and driving test.

It’s hard to believe that I’m pursuing a motorcycle license.

Lately, I’ve resolved that I need to be less fearless of things. I also determined that, to overcome the fear, it was OKAY to yield my learning style and take classes. I’m the kind of person that needs to see something a few times in order to grasp a new skill. I am not an auditory learner! Rather than just make excuses as to why I can’t learn something, I decided I need to try to find a way to learn that helps it “stick”.

Heh. This being said, my hands still sweat when I’m getting on a tall, downward escalator. I don’t think any amount of classes will get rid of this fear ;-)

I Prefer a Shot of Grape Juice

Tara Barthel introduced me to this song on her blog.

Musically, the song is a little bland to my ears (Of course, when reading my opinion, you must consider that my favorite genre is classic rock).

However, lyrically the song is culturally relevant and thought provoking.

As I watched and listened, I was reminded of something I often take for granted: how scary it is to live without Christ.

Christ is the Prince of Peace. Without Christ, there is no true peace. Peace is not something that can be something manufactured by following rules of tolerance or political correctness. These things only mask hurt, worry, rage and feelings of loneliness within.

Trying to live without Christ is like moving through life with a migraine headache. Every sound, ever movement is painfully magnified.

This goes for both non-Christians and for Christians who refuse to humble themselves before God and view him as Lord of their life.

To this end, I appreciated how New Law mentioned communion. Churches are oftentimes more concerned about the tolerance of aberration, and set the example of disregarding scripture by leading people in this way, than they are about offending God by changing the way they serve the Eucharist. When we are fully submitting to God, we don’t have to rationalize our actions or look for the loopholes. Wine means wine.

How tiresome it is to try justify ourselves to God. How tiresome it is to take on the attributes of God. How tiresome it is to try to earn our salvation or to “be saved” on our own terms. If this is the attitude that characterizes our lives, how can we really say we’re saved? Saved means saved. If we could do it on our own, we wouldn’t need saving.

The Bible says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

When we trust in God, we no longer have to be “bossed around by our fear.”(< -- link to a practical application of this thought) 1 John 4:17-19 "By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us."

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