Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Sky Ranch family to Yours!

Merry Christmas...It is all about Jesus!

Luke 2:15-20

The Message (MSG)

15-18 As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20 Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Gift

Last year I was brainstorming for a new and creative way to celebrate Christ in Christmas.  Gifts seem to be a major component in the Christmas celebration, don’t they?  Who’s getting what?  Who wants what?  How much to spend? Even though my girls only get 3 gifts Christmas morning (just like Jesus got), we still put a lot into the gift giving.  I’m not that creative, so let’s just get that out there from the start.   But I pictured in my finite brain a gift at the front of the tree that we would put out every year that signified the true meaning of Christmas.  An empty box, covered in bright, white paper, with red ribbon and some greenery.  As I started to “create” such a box, I began to tell the story of Jesus. 

            “Jesus came into the world one night because of God’s plan for salvation.  Sacrifices and commandments had fallen short.  God needed to provide a Savior and the only one who could save us was His Son Jesus.  We celebrate His birth every year on December 25th.  It’s His party, yet many times we forget to invite Him, don’t we?  This box that sits at the front of our tree symbolizes the gift He gave us.  His life.  He lived a perfect life on earth and died for our sins, so that we might live forever with Him.  The white paper surrounding this box symbolizes His perfect, blameless life.  He was the precious lamb of God who died for the sins of the world.  He had no sin.  The red ribbon symbolizes the blood that was shed as he died on the cross.  Without the blood there is no remission of sins.  The empty box is a picture of the empty tomb after His burial.  God’s word tells us that 3 days after his burial He arose from the dead and the tomb was empty.  The greenery symbolizes our new life in Christ.  God’s word tells us we are “new creatures” after our rebirth in Christ.”

Each and every time we look at our tree, we see The Christmas Gift at the front of all the other gifts.  A beautiful reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

~Lisa Clark

Monday, December 18, 2017

The TRUE REASON for the Season!

Dear Sky Ranch Family,

Let’s together, celebrate the reason for each season!  My prayer for your family is that every Christmas be filled with His presence and joy as you share the love of our Savior.  Enjoy a special time with your family that is full of tradition.  If you do not share many traditions, that’s okay because it is never too late to start a tradition.  It becomes a tradition when you start it! 

Our family has enjoyed many traditions over the years. Christmas is by far when we share many of our favorite traditions. I’d like to share a tradition with you.

“Happy Birthday Jesus”

Since the first child was born in the family, the Happy Birthday Jesus Cake has been a tradition in our home for Christmas helping to reinforce the TRUE REASON FOR THE SEASON.

Up until the youngest child at our annual family gathering no longer believed in Santa Claus, Santa himself would deliver the Happy Birthday Jesus Birthday Cake on the Eve of Christmas.  Santa would come into the house with the cake and everyone would sing happy birthday to Jesus, blow out the candles and listen intently with wide eyes as Santa Claus would share all of the symbolism of the cake. 

Today, the tradition remains, but Santa Claus no longer joins us for the Christmas Eve gatherings.  One family is designated each year to make the cake and lead the tradition.

The cake is a Chocolate Cake made with cherry filling inside. It is frosted with butter cream frosting, decorated as noted below:

Chocolate Cake – This chocolate cake symbolizes our sin nature through and through.
Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 53:6)

Cherry Pie Filling – The red symbolizes the blood of Christ shed for us. (Ephesians 1:7 and Hebrews 9:22)

White Cream Icing – Symbolizes the righteousness of Christ without blemish which covers up our sin.  When we put it on, God sees our sin no more.  It still does not change our basic nature though.  The cake is still chocolate. (Romans 4:24 andIsaiah 61:10)

Decorations On The Top Of the Cake –

1.     Place a star for Bethlehem, Christ’s birthplace.  (Matthew 2:1-12Luke 2:1-6)

2.     Place an angel to symbolize the herald of Christ’s birth. (Luke 1:26-382:8-20)

3.     Place 3 red candles on the cake.  The number 3 symbolizes the trinity.  (John 14,  John 1:1510-1418Genesis 1:26,3:2211:7Isaiah 6:8)

4.     Place evergreens around the cake or cake plate to symbolize the eternal life we have through Christ.  (John 3:161 John 5:11-12

~Linda Paulk

Friday, December 1, 2017

Getting Wisdom is the WISEST thing you can do!

Hello! I’m Stacy. I’m excited to share with you a series of excerpts from the 2017 Sky Ranch Summer Devotional I’ve written called Boom Town, Sifting for Truth.

This year we’ve done things a bit differently. My son Taylor, also a Sky Ranch “Lifer,” has joined the team to add an element of fiction to the book. Each section will have part of an ongoing fiction story to help illustrate the devotional messages.

We have also added overview questions at the end of each section called “Golden Nuggets of Truth.” These provide a recap and highlights so that you and your family can be sure to remember the most important parts of the message.

We encourage you to use these different study methods to communicate with each member of your family in the way that they learn best. We pray that your family will grow in the Lord as you go through this study on seeking truth!

I’m praying for you,

Stacy A. Davis

Section One Story - The Boy and the Prospector

by Taylor A. Davis

Over the mountain range, through the thickets and trees, a gentle wind traveled its way through the woods until it found a low-lying stream. The cool air had seen the trials and hardships of a hardy few who would strike rock, dirt, and sand to find a new way and a new life. With sweaty,

coarse hands, mankind hunted for the finer things, most seeking treasures wherever the stars guided, while only a few knew to look in the small places hiding alongside them.

Along the Shasta River rested a settlement known as Boom Town. It was home to a happy bunch, for they’d found the most precious of metals. A prize most prospectors had searched for, yet found none. However, the “Boomers,” as they called themselves, knew the secrets to finding what others could not. They knew where to look and how to look. Gold was their trade, the life of their community. And if you failed to find it, then you were just an outsider, a lonely seeker of dirt.

“Could you tie up the tent flap, Curly? That breeze is killin’ me,” groaned a kooky old man sporting a thick, white beard and wearing a brown cowboy hat atop his head. The chipper fellow adjusted his reading spectacles and scratched his large nose. He leaned over, fidgeting like a

squirrel away from its tree while he laid down a large leather book with a golden crucifix sewn in the center of the cover.

“You need to be sure none of that wind blows through. If you let that cold stuff in, you won’t survive the evening in this winter.”

“I’m doing my best, sir!” whined the boy. Smaller and younger than the men at Boom Town, the young lad did his best to shut the tent. The wind catapulted the wool cap from his head and into the old man’s wrinkled face. Curly’s blonde hair levitated as he mightily pulled the two pieces of

cloth together, battling the gale forces of nature pounding against his skinny frame.

Once the boy had finally closed the tent and the old man removed the cap from his face, they sat down together. The old man dusted the grimy item and then leaned forward to place it back on Curly’s head.

“You know the reason I called you here, boy?” the old man mumbled. “I can’t find gold?” Curly replied under his breath. His head sank low. “It’s not that you can’t find the gold. You just don’t know where or how to look for it…” The old man’s response was followed by a lingering pause.

“Well, how do I even know it’s real? All I do is hear about it; I never seen it.”

“Ahh,” the old man chuckled, “What a mistake it is to believe only until you see. For you to find the gold at the bottom of that river, you must know it’s there. Then you must be patient. You must be still. And then you will find what’s buried beneath all that dirt and stone.”

A befuddled look spread across Curly’s face. Annoyed, he lacked the patience to find wisdom in the old man’s words.

The boy cried in a raised tone, “How am I supposed to know that you know what you’re talking about! For all I know, you’ve been searching longer than me. For all I know, none of the Boomers in Boom Town have even seen gold!”

“Then what is this, boy!” the old man sharpened his voice. He held up a closed fist before the grumbling child. His palms remained closed. Withered and frail, they shook violently to stay afloat.

“They call me the Old Prospector for a reason. I’ve been here. I’ve been back. I’ve seen it all, and I’m trying to show you the way. For there is only one way to find the gold. Only one way to find that sweet treasure buried beneath. You must believe.”

Before the boy, the old prospector released his hand and revealed what was hidden. Out rolled a dazzling chunk of rock. Ripe and true, strong to the core with a beauty that could not be recreated or destroyed. Purest of all things, that tiny speck of gold struck Curly in the hardest of ways. He believed.

The Old Prospector closed his palm and shook his head. “Emptiness is to doubt what you know is truth. If you’re gonna join the Boomers, you must know it’s there before you can find it. Meet me in the river tomorrow, when the sun breaks the plane of day.”

Nodding, Curly got up, grabbed his gray jacket and cap, and then made his way out of the tent as the wind grew, pushing harder than he’d ever known.

Section One Topic - Truth

The story begins with a young prospector named Curly. Curly is having trouble finding gold. An older wiser prospector reveals that for Curly’s search to really begin, Curly has to believe that gold really does exist. After sharing his experience of finding gold and even showing Curly a nugget of real gold that he found in the river, the older prospector convinces Curly of gold’s existence. This begins Curly’s quest for gold. In a similar way, to begin a search for truth, you have to believe that truth really exists, that there is truth just waiting for you to find it. There is an old proverb that says, “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get,

get insight” (Proverbs 4:7 ESV). It is saying that the beginning of wisdom is recognizing that you need real wisdom and then, whatever you do, find the truth. You have to recognize your need for truth to begin your search for it. The Sky Ranch family devotional, Boom Town, will take your family through the process of seeking truth by breaking into five sections that will lead you to real truth. In this first section on truth, your family will discover that truth is real, whom the source of real truth is and the evidence that supports whether your source really is giving you truth.

Excerpt from the Sky Ranch Devotional -

Boom Town, Written by Stacy A. Davis and Taylor A. Davis

© 2017 Stacy A. Davis, Inc. and Taylor A. Davis. All rights reserved.

Check back next week for the first guided Family Devotional complete with scriptural devotional time and questions for the whole family!

For more Sky Ranch Family devotionals and information on the author, visit

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Heart Full Of Thanks

It’s the THANKFUL month! We normally think more about what we’re thankful for in November because, well, we’re supposed to.  But truly thanksgiving is a heart issue that we should practice year-round. 

Opportunities to be thankful are in the mundane things of life.  And by expressing those things to each other, we’re encouraged to be thankful in our hearts day to day. 

When I was in high school, I had several cars.  I started with a great car I bought for $800 cash and wrecked it 5 months later. The car situation took a drastic downward turn after that!  In fact, my younger sisters passed on driving anywhere with me.  That experience led me to car thankfulness.  Still to this day, I’ll be driving down the road and thank the Lord for a car that runs. 

Our experiences in life drive us towards thankfulness.  And it’s also modeled.  A thankful heart is contagious.  Saying “thank you” breeds thankfulness.  Stopping and saying “thanks” turns an ordinary moment into a God moment.  Because we honor the Creator of all things and give Him glory by simply saying “thank you.”

As you look at the beautiful, changing leaves, mutter, “Thank you, Lord!” When your fireplace provides heat and beauty to your family sitting around the den, “Thank you, Lord.” As you gather with friends, eat good food, watch football, dress in layers, and meet new neighbors, “Thank you, Lord.  You are good!”

Thankfulness is a heart issue.  And God’s in the heart changing business.  Thank you, Lord!

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life!”   
Proverbs 4:23

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

If Satan Loves To Isolate, Then God Is In Community

Are you in community? It’s an IN word right now, isn’t it? It just rolls off your tongue...

It’s biblical.  Did you know that? We are to be IN fellowship with other believers.  It’s good for us.  We were created FOR community. 

Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

All of this took place after the church was established, and THEN what happened as a result of their obedience? Shock and awe.  That’s right.  They were AWED by the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  (Acts 2:43)

So we (the church) have these marching orders:  Study the word.  Fellowship together as believers, break bread, and pray. 
Our marching orders are COMMUNITY. 

October is such a great month for community.  It’s chilly outside, there’s chili inside, and our hearts are full. 

And yet when we experience heartache or trouble, we lean towards isolation. 

Isolation makes us a sitting duck for the enemy’s attacks.  And he will pounce.
When we’re down and out, feeling less than, hurting, needing help, we MUST reach out to our people.  We need them, and they need us.  We were created for each other.   

Do you have community? Do you have a body of believers with whom you fellowship? If the answer is no, then do something about it.  Pray for God to bring you to a place (church body) for you and your family.  There’s a place for everyone.  And there’s no perfect place.  We were created for community.  Not for isolation. 

I heard it said recently, “When things are going bad, God is up to something good.”  I like that perspective.  God cares.  And He gives us each other to remind us. 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sometimes Community Means Making The First Move

Something a bit unusual happened to me today. I received an invitation to coffee from a new mom at our school. We’ve attended this school for five years, her kids have been there for a hot 30 minutes, and she invited me to coffee, though we’ve never met. Something seems backwards here.
She wants to connect though. So she is willing to make the first move. There aren’t enough words to express how much I love this.

My husband and I are both connectors of people. We’re always planning, initiating, inviting, hosting, introducing, and glad-handing, everywhere we go. Often when we’re guests at an event, people mistake us for the hosts. It’s just the way God made us, and it serves us well in ministry. A few years ago, though, I honestly began to resent this aspect of God’s design for our lives.

Instead of being the pursuer, I wanted to be pursued.
Instead of being the inviter, I wanted to be invited.

Instead of being the planner, I wanted to be the guest.
I was lonely. In need of community. And feeling sorry for myself. But then I recalled Paul’s words in Romans 12:6:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.

I may have wished to be pursued, but God made me a pursuer. If I wasn’t willing to lean into this gift and practice hospitality, wasn’t I missing an opportunity to be a reflection of God’s image in the world?
Now fall is upon us. And with it, comes so many opportunities to practice hospitality and build community.

So we can do one of two things.
We can sit around waiting for an invitation, or we can be bold enough to make the first move.

What we can’t do is listen to the voice of Satan telling us no one invites us because no one likes us. It’s not true! Despite the fact that my husband and I are rarely invited by others, when we invite them, they most always say yes!
So if we’re wanting to connect with our neighbors…If we’re feeling isolated from friends…If we need a Girls Night Out, or we’re just wishing for a coffee date to connect at the new school, are we going to sit around a whine about it? Or are we willing to make the first move?

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:13

Monday, October 2, 2017

Do You Need To Kick-Start Your Community?

October is the beginning of the holiday season. Pumpkins, lattes, gatherings ‘round the fire…aaaahhhhhh. It seriously is MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR.  I love FALL so much that when Brad and I got engaged in December 1985, I begged him to wait until the FALL to get married! And he said apprehensively, “okay.” October 4th will be our 31st anniversary!
Yea US!

With the coming of the holiday season comes opportunities to gather, reflect, celebrate and open OUR doors. 

In Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” he devotes an entire section to COMMUNITY.  We were created for each other.  We need each other. 

         "We discover our role in life through our relationships
with others."
Rick Warren
Community.  It’s vital. But it’s not always pretty.  And it takes work. 

Why does community take work? Relationships are hard.  And when we do community right, the masks come off, and we discover that no one has it all together, that no one has a perfect life, and that no one doesn’t have baggage. 

But that’s the good stuff.  We are more alike than we think we are.  Relationships are messy.  But they're OUR mess! Let’s get messy!
Here are some ideas to get you started:

Invite someone over today.  Put a pumpkin on the front porch.  BAM! You’ve decorated for FALL! Put a pot of coffee on and serve it with PUMPKIN SPICE creamer! BAM! A FALL LATTE is served! See? That was so easy! Don’t try to be THE PIONEER WOMAN overnight.  Just invite.  Open your doors.  And fellowship.

Get involved in your church home group, Bible fellowship class, or small group.  Don’t just sit back and WAIT for someone to call you! Call them! Plan a get together.  Most likely, everyone is looking for friends but everyone is waiting on a call.  Be proactive!

Plan a get together for your kids and their friends.  Buy a dozen pumpkins and host a pumpkin carving party! Serve cider and a place for fellowship.  This shows your kiddos how to be hospitable and form community.  My friend, Sara, hosts one every year for her kids and their friends.  It’s become a tradition! I love it.

Bake some pumpkin bread and bless your neighbors.  Our Bible fellowship class is learning how to be a good neighbor right now, and Becky is leading the way.  Her blog is full of “good neighboring” ideas.  Check it out, here! 

Enjoy this month of cooler weather, sweaters, s’mores and more…and be a blessing!

"A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God-shaped life is a flourishing tree." 
Proverbs 11:28 (MSG)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Teaching Contentment At The American Girl Store

As a little girl, our daughter was never really into dolls. She was more of the tree climbing, dirt wearing, always up for an adventure type. Different from most of her friends, she spent the bulk of her free time outside, climbing to heights unknown and rolling in whatever dirt she could find.
So when she was invited to the American Girl Doll store for a birthday party, I was curious to see how she would respond. All the little girls had their American Girl Dolls in tow, sidling them up to the table in high-chairs, combing their hair, and introducing them to one another. And our daughter brought “Diamond,” her one and only doll that she dug out from the depths of her toy box. Hair amuck and half-dressed, it was obvious how long it had been since Diamond had seen the light of day.

The party rooms at American Girl Doll are in the back of the store.

Making it past all of the merchandise and to the party room was a non-event. But after sitting with 15 little girls who were doting on their American Girl Dolls for 90 minutes, getting back out to the car was an entirely different story.
Suddenly, our daughter wanted what she did not have. Sage, the American Girl Doll who was the star of her favorite movie at the time.

When she asked me if we could buy it, my first instinct was to say yes. She rarely asked for anything, we never bought her toys, and she was a good kid. But then, my common sense returned.
I knew our daughter.

And she didn’t play with dolls.
“Yes, you can have Sage,” I said. “If you pay for it with your own money.”

“How much money do I have?” she asked.
It just so happened that a few months prior, we had opened a bank account for her. She had accumulated some birthday and allowance money, and we wanted to begin teaching her some very basic things about personal finance.

So I pulled up her balance on my bank app and used my calculator to subtract the amount of money it would take for her to purchase Sage. And then I explained:
“You have ________ money now. If you buy Sage, you’ll spend ________. And that will leave you with ___________.”

I could see her wheels spinning as she thought about it for a few minutes. And then she decided she didn’t need Sage after all.
No fit, no fight.

We left the American Girl Doll store without Sage, and Diamond went right back to the depths of the toy box!
I don’t think it’s wrong to buy things for our children, nor do I think it would have been wrong for me to have purchased a doll for our daughter under these circumstances. But I do think I would have missed an opportunity to teach her a valuable lesson regarding contentment.

She wouldn’t have given contentment a moment’s thought if Sage had been purchased on mommy’s dime. But by allowing her the freedom to make the purchase with her own money, she began to ask herself an important question:
Do I need or want this doll badly enough to use my own money to get it?

By allowing her the freedom to answer this question for herself, I gave her the opportunity to choose contentment. Contentment is a choice, after all, and it's a life skill we must all learn.
And if she had decided to purchase the doll with her own money? I'm guessing there would have been lessons of a different kind in that too!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

An Alternative To The "Life Isn't Fair" Lecture

I often describe our children as characters from Winnie The Pooh. We have two Tiggers and one Eyore. Each of them uniquely made in the image of God with their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. They’re as different as the colors of hair upon their heads!
With our Tiggers, there’s boundless amounts of energy, which means they’re always up for an adventure, but they also have trouble sitting still. They’re everywhere, all the time.

With our Eyore, there’s a need for lots of downtime, which means I always have a snuggle buddy, but the motivation to stay active is harder to capture. We have to drag this kid outside if it’s the least bit warm.
The differences exist in the emotional realm too. Our Tiggers tend to be optimists, and our Eyore tends to be a pessimist. And though our culture would likely place more value on being an optimist, rest assured both tendencies bring opportunities and challenges to the table.

I recall a season not too long ago when our Eyore was in a constant state of discontent. It was score keeping at its finest, and the number of times I heard the phrase, “that’s not fair,” I don’t even know. We’re talking about injustices like the size of a dessert serving, the number of pages read from a bedtime story, the amount of free time given between homework and dinner.
You get the picture.

My frustration was at an all-time high one evening, when this kid bounded down the stairs to report yet another injustice in the story of life.
I took a deep breath as I prepared to launch into a speech about life and fairness, when I had a Holy Spirit moment.

In a parenting class my husband and I took years ago, we spent some time discussing how to deal with the hard days. You know the kind. The kind when our children wake up, saying to themselves, “I think today is a good day to die!”
And they fight us at every turn.
He suggested that on these very hard days we take a time out to be still and to meditate on all the things we’re thankful for about the children we’re struggling with. He proposed that engaging in this exercise would lead to a deeper sense of gratitude, help us channel our frustration, and address the issues with our children in more positive ways.

I’ve done this exercise a thousand times, and it works like a charm.
As I stood face-to-face with our Eyore at the bottom of the stairs, it occurred to me that if this exercise can work for parents, why wouldn’t it work for kids?

So instead of launching into a speech about life and fairness, I went to our office and came back with a blank piece of paper and a pencil. I instructed our Eyore to find a quiet place to sit and to write ten statements of gratitude.

“I am thankful for …”
Our Eyore was gone for a long, long while. But by the completion of this task, this kid’s disposition had completely changed! Because we took the focus off of what we didn’t have and redirected it towards our blessings, we created an opportunity for this kid to discover that the purported "injustice" was really no big deal.
And that made all the difference.
A good exercise to do any day of the week, and certainly more productive than listening to a lecture from mommy!

So if you have an Eyore in your family, or if you find yourself in an Eyore kind of moment for that matter, consider taking a stab at this exercise. It’s never a waste of time to count our blessings, and I’ve found it to leads to a greater state of contentment every time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

To Moms Who Can't Wait For This Season To Pass

A mother's thoughts...
0 – 3 months:  I can’t wait until he sleeps through the night.

6 – 9 months:  I can’t wait until she starts crawling.

9 – 12 months:  I can wait until he starts climbing up the stairs.

2 – 3 years old:  I can’t wait until she starts preschool. 

3 years old:  I can’t wait until he is potty trained.

5 years old:  I can wait until he starts kindergarten.

8 years old:  I can’t wait until she can do her own math homework.

12 years old:  I can wait until she’s a teenager.

15 years old:  I can’t wait until she can drive herself.

16 years old:  I can wait until he graduates high school.

19 years old:  I can’t wait until she comes home for the summer.

25 years old:  I can’t wait until I’m a grandmother.

It seems we’re always in the I Can/I Can’t Wait time of life. I can’t imagine this is what God had in mind when He gave us life.

What we don’t see while we’re wishing away each stage is the days releasing from our grip at lightning speed. 
Tick tock. 
Tick tock. 

We have today.  We don’t know what tomorrow holds. 
So rest easy sweet mama.  Today is your day to love and be loved.  Today is your day to kiss a boo boo and read a bedtime story.  Today is your day to hug a middle school-er who didn’t get invited to the party.  Today is your day to remind a 6 year old that Jesus loves her.  Today is your day to take a Big Gulp to a high school-er who didn’t make the A Team.  Today is your day to help finish a project that should have been started weeks ago.  Today is your day to skip a GNO because your hubby got looked over for a promotion.  Today is your day to celebrate a 100 on a spelling test. 
Today is your day.

Live today.  Love today.  Choose contentment.  Tomorrow will be here before you know it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Is The Secret To Contentment?

Two years ago, our family took a sabbatical from extra-curricular activities. Yes. You heard that right. From August 15, 2015 to January 4, 2016, our children participated in zero activities outside of school. No baseball. No music lessons. No activities at the church we serve.
My husband was going back to school to get his doctorate, and we were in the middle of a busy time in ministry. Staring that in the face, and wanting to protect our family time, we decided it would serve our family best to eliminate all non-mandatory commitments.

When I look back on that bit of decision-making, I remember being scared to take the plunge. It sounds silly, but “Fear Of Missing Out” is a real thing, and I suffer from it. It wasn’t that I was concerned our kids would fall behind but that we would miss out on the fun. I’m hard-wired for connection, and connection happens when get out into the world and spend time with other people.
And yet deep within my soul, I knew we were entering a hard season, and I knew it was going to take everything we had to get through it.

Baseball could wait.
Our sanity could not.

Recently, I listened to a podcast about the secret to happiness. In one segment, the host interviewed a man who was conducting a science experiment on happiness, using an app to gather data.

It works like this:
App subscribers receive several texts each day, asking them to rate their happiness at that very moment.

Next, they are asked what they were doing immediately prior to receiving the text.
Then they are asked if they were thinking about something else while doing that activity.

And finally, through a series of follow-up questions, the app compares the overall happiness of people who were present in the moment with people who were mind wandering.
The results were striking.
The people who engaged in mind wandering were significantly less happy than those who lived in the moment, even if the people living in the moment were doing something they didn’t enjoy.

The conclusion?
Being present leads to contentment and happiness.

If this is true moment-to-moment, then might it also be true season-to-season? Might we all be more content if we assess the season we’re in, accept it for what it is, and live fully into it until the season changes?
When our kids were all under the age of seven, we didn’t eat out much. I, for one, am not a big fan of paying money to eat a cold meal, and that’s precisely what happens when you take three little kids out for dinner.

Your meal is cold by the time you get to eat it.
On occasional Friday nights at home, my mind would wander, wishing for different circumstances that would allow us more freedom. Circumstances in which our kids were old enough to handle their own plates, behave at the table for extended periods of time, stay out late, and engage in stimulating dinner conversation. These mind-wandering thoughts cast a shadow over what should have been sweet nights at home with young children.

But over time, I learned to treasure Friday night pizza deliveries, movies on the playroom sofa, and game night, realizing that all too soon, memories of Friday nights at home would be fleeting.
I chose to be present in the season we were in. And my contentment increased dramatically.

The same was true for this exceptionally busy season in which my husband was returning to school and burning the candle at both ends in ministry. We could engage in “business as usual,” enrolling our kids in a slew of extra-curricular activities and die while trying, or we could acknowledge the season we were in and adapt accordingly.
After handing my FOMO over to the Lord, it was one of the sweetest fall seasons we’ve experienced as a family. Weeknights were easier, and Saturday mornings became a welcome respite after a grueling work week. Our family functioned well during a time we had anticipated to be more difficult than most.

We chose to be present in the season we were in and experienced a heightened sense of contentment and happiness.
So with school less than four weeks into session, and the sign-up opportunities coming in day after day, slow down. Take a deep breath. Pray about the season your family is in and consider how you can best adapt to thrive within your context. I’m not suggesting complacency, but rather flexibility.
Contentment is a choice. 
Resisting the waves of changing seasons can bowl us over. But riding the waves of change can lead to growth and contentment.

 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, September 4, 2017

Is It Possible To Be Content In 2017?

a state of happiness and satisfaction.

It’s an interesting word in 2017.  Contentment.  Is it just me or do we not use this word much any more?  Being content today seems to paint a picture of an under-achiever or one who is lazy.  And yet by definition, contentment is a “state of happiness and satisfaction.” 

Isn’t that what we want in our lives and for our families?

Contentment certainly isn’t synonymous with September and the start of school.  We are all too eager to get back in the swing of things and bring on the activity!!! Games, practices, homework, lessons, meetings, luncheons, extracurricular, and the list goes on!

A collective sigh of relief that “we’re back to normal!”

But I learned a great lesson from my friend, Anne, one day as I was going from lesson to lesson and practice to practice with my eldest daughter and baby on board, along for the ride.  We dropped by Anne’s house to hang out for a few minutes while we had a break between guitar practice and gymnastics, and the strangest thing was happening. 

She and her kiddos were playing a game in the middle of the living room floor.

What? Why weren’t they out and about pursing their dreams? For heaven’s sake, her children were 8 and 5! It was go time!

“Anne, Is this your daily afternoon routine? Or is this just an off day?” I asked.

She replied in the softest voice ever, “You know, Lisa, I choose to cherish the days.  There will be plenty of time to do all those things when my children are older and can choose for themselves what they’d like to pursue.  I choose today to enjoy our little family and make memories together.  I just don’t think the rush is right for us.  We’re choosing contentment.” 

It’s a choice.  We have a choice.

Consider this:  Pray.  Pray over your schedule.  Pray over your family’s schedule.  Pray over all those activities.  Pray over the teams you join.  Pray over what you say YES to and what you say NO to.  It’s all a choice. 

Choosing to be content isn’t choosing for mediocrity.  It’s choosing joy.  It’s choosing happiness.  It might not look like your neighbor’s choice.  But it might be right for your family.

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content
 with whatever I have.” 

 Philippians 4:11