Life in Lape Haven

Archive - August 2017

A Simple Change That May Keep You Safer in a Parking Lot

Life in Lape Haven: The Simple Change That May Keep You Safer in a Parking Lot. The end of a rough grocery shopping day with my boys ended up with a bit of a scare when I was caught off-guard in the parking lot. That's when I realized that a simple choice earlier made the incident even more dangerous for me and my children.

The incident happened quickly, and even though I’ve read all the tips, I was caught off-guard. Thankfully nothing bad happened to any of us, but those split seconds and that moment stayed with me. I realized that one different choice earlier that morning might have left me and my children less vulnerable, and I resolved to change my habits for the future. Months later, I was glad I did.

It had been one of those rough days.

My boys were tired after a morning of grocery shopping, and 4-year-old Josiah was in an especially nasty mood since he didn’t like his temporary seat in the last row of our SUV. We were still praying and looking for a new vehicle that would fit all three car seats better. But as it was, he was relegated to the far back, and he hated it.

So the entire time I loaded the car, he was throwing an epic fit. It continued, gaining intensity and volume while I stood half-in and half-out of the SUV, trying to cinch his straps, leaning over the middle seats and Isaiah’s car seat to do so.

Isaiah had been easier since he was barely 3-months-old and still staying in his infant carrier. All I had to do was click it in. Thankfully.

In the midst of threatening Josiah with punishment if he didn’t settle down, I heard,

“Excuse me, ma’am.”

Whirling around, I saw him.

The man was only a few feet away, standing near the back of our vehicle.

And I was immediately on alert (and praying).

Where had he come from? What did he want? Was he dangerous? Why was he bothering me when CLEARLY I was busy (Josiah was still crying in the background)?

In a split second, my mind was assessing everything from where my keys were (in my hand) to his size and build (my height or shorter, slim) to noticing if anyone else was nearby (not that I could see).

And that’s when I realized how I had made this situation even more dangerous for myself.

(Besides being completely distracted from my surroundings by my squalling child)

It was in how I had parked in the parking lot.

Even though I had a parking space fairly close to the store, I had parked so that my driver’s side, the side where I would be putting my kids into their seats, and therefore spending the most time, was facing AWAY from the store entrance.

No one could see me from the store.

My big, tall SUV with darkened windows was between me and my most likely source of help in a bad situation.  It was something I’d never thought of before.

When I didn’t say anything, the man continued talking, “I’m sorry. I hate to bother you, but my girlfriend and I are trying to get to Canal (a town about 30-40 minutes away), and our gas light is on.”

I mentally wondered where the girlfriend and car were. (While the small town we were in is relatively safe, it has a tragically big issue with drugs. Having served Grand Jury duty in the county a few years ago, I learned just how huge the problem is.)

So, yes, I was suspicious. Plus I had two little ones to consider, not just myself. I wasn’t leaving them to go verify a story, and I wasn’t inviting this man any closer for our own safety. (Had Brad been with me, we might have offered to have the guy follow us to a gas station, but by myself, I just didn’t feel that was the wisest choice. Of course, had God prompted me to do something, I would have.)

“Sorry, I don’t have any cash on me,” I replied honestly.

The man started to back away, “Alright, well, thanks, anyway.”

Watching him as he walked away, I was entirely aware of where he was headed as I closed the side door, climbed into the driver’s seat, and locked the door.

He ended up a few aisles over, talking to a couple coming out of the store. I watched as he walked around the parking lot, stopping when he found a person to talk to. I never saw him go to “his” car, even though that particular parking lot isn’t that big.

And I sat there, thanking God for His protection.

I decided to change my parking habits from that day on.

Life in Lape Haven: The Simple Change That May Keep You Safer in a Parking Lot. The end of a rough grocery shopping day with my boys ended up with a bit of a scare when I was caught off-guard in the parking lot. That's when I realized that a simple choice earlier made the incident even more dangerous for me and my children.

FAST FORWARD 5 MONTHS…

Last week, I had all three of my boys with me for a quick stop into the store, and as I pulled into the parking lot, I specifically thought about my encounter with the guy there. In fact, it was a rather STRONG nudging, the kind that come from God.

And I parked differently because of it.

I made sure that my side of our new-to-us minivan was facing the storefront. With Isaiah all but walking now, he rides in the cart, and we have the challenge of strapping his wiggly, grabbing-onto-everything-self back into his seat (behind the driver’s seat) when we’re leaving. It takes a lot longer than it used to.

Life in Lape Haven: The Simple Change That May Keep You Safer in a Parking Lot. The end of a rough grocery shopping day with my boys ended up with a bit of a scare when I was caught off-guard in the parking lot. That's when I realized that a simple choice earlier made the incident even more dangerous for me and my children.

While no one was having a tantrum as we got back into the car to  go, it was still a very déjà vu feeling when I was tightening up Isaiah’s straps, and I heard,

“Excuse me, ma’am.”

It was the same guy. Standing the same distance away. And he told me the EXACT same story (which even my 7-year-old, who wasn’t with us before, remembered me sharing about. It lent some credence to my prior suspicions that this guy probably wasn’t really looking for gas money, sadly.)

Only this time, I felt safer because I knew that he hadn’t been a real threat last time and also because I could clearly see people going in and coming out of the store – and they could see me.

All I could think of was, “I’m so glad that I listened to God’s reminder about our previous meeting with this man and parked differently.”

After sending him on his way yet again, I got back in my van, feeling much more in control than I had the last time I’d met that man.

I know that the simple change of how I parked (and having felt God’s reminder to do so) is what made the difference.

Now I know that we don’t want to live in fear or distrust of people around us, but the truth is that we live in a fallen world. Not everyone CAN be trusted, unfortunately, and we need to be wise in every situation, for us and our children.

As moms, it’s especially easy for us to be distracted or have our hands full at pretty much any given moment, but perhaps implementing this little tip will give you a little more security in at least one part of your hectic day.

For more tips on being safe in parking lots and public garages, check out these sites: Parking Lot Safety and Staying Safe in Parking Lots.

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How I Sabotaged Myself and Made A Bad Evening Worse

For Such A Time As This: Placing Our Children’s Future in God’s Hands


 

Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build a Legacy of Faith for Your Children

Life in Lape Haven: Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build a Legacy of Faith for Your Children. In her new book, More Than Just Making It, Erin Odom shares how God provided during her family's financial struggles. In my own childhood, my parents' faith in God's provision is what built a solid foundation of faith in my own life.

Inspired by More than Just Making It by Erin Odom, The Humbled Homemaker

(This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I may receive a small commission when you use the link.)

 

MORE THAN JUST MY STORY

“We arrived in Charlotte with next to nothing: two bags each, a Pack ‘n’ Play, a stroller, and each other.”

When I read those words in Erin Odom’s new book, More than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, the story of her family’s season of financial struggle reminded me of my story.

Or rather, it sparked a look back at my parents’ story and gave me an appreciation for how it has affected my own.

In her book, Erin, better known by her blog name, The Humbled Homemaker, writes about how she and her husband had planned for their family to be heading to Mexico as missionaries. Instead, circumstances sent them to North Carolina, where they would face their “most hopeless financial season.”  Having come through this time of struggles, both financial and in the heart, Erin shares about God’s provision and faithfulness as well as offering hope and advice to those who may still be in the midst of financial (or other) hardship.

My story, like Erin’s, starts with a move, only it was when my parents were following God’s leading for their music ministry group all the way from Ohio to Alabama.

Even before they were married, my parents had been called into ministry and have been serving for most of their lives. While life in ministry has been amazingly rewarding, those rewards aren’t always tangible things, like material wealth.

During the season when my dad was ministering with his singing group, many of the churches where they ministered would give their visiting speakers a “love offering.”(For those who didn’t grow up in church, a love offering is a special passing of the collection plate for the congregation to give to something specific, such as a guest minister or missionary.)

However, love offerings weren’t always as generous as the name might imply, especially when split between the three families represented in my dad’s band.

As it was, during a good portion of my childhood, my family was living on “less than,” even when my father served in specific positions at the churches we attended because not all of them were able to pay their pastors or music ministers a full salary, if they could pay them at all, and even though my dad (and sometimes my mom) worked a regular job in addition to pastoring or ministry.

So, when my parents prepared to move to Alabama with that music ministry group, it wasn’t for financial gain or stability. It was to pursue God’s purpose.

Life in Lape Haven: Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build a Legacy of Faith for Your Children. In her new book, More Than Just Making It, Erin Odom shares how God provided during her family's financial struggles. In my own childhood, my parents' faith in God's provision is what built a solid foundation of faith in my own life.

 

MORE THAN JUST STUFF

I was only a couple of months old when my parents loaded up their tiny car with whatever essentials they could and headed down south with: a crib for me, an Army-type sleeping cot for my soon-to-be 3-year-old brother, pots and pans, linens, clothes, and my dad’s guitar.

That was it.  (See why Erin’s words caught my heart?)

My parents slept on the hard linoleum-covered floor of our apartment with only their sheets and blanket. No beds, no mattress. No couches, tables, or chairs. For months. (My mom recalls that she didn’t even have a broom and had to borrow one from a neighbor.)

I’m sure it wasn’t easy, especially with two little ones. I’m sure it was humbling.

But yet, they knew they were where God called them, doing what He asked them to do.

And there was joy and contentment in that obedience…just not a lot of money or furniture.

“At the time, we didn’t know why we couldn’t find affordable furniture when we got down there,” my dad once told me.

However, God was not withholding His provision.

About 6 months after they’d moved, one of the band members brought a very well-to-do friend from a very well-to-do family to visit one weekend. Like everyone else who came to our apartment, they had to sit on the floor the entire time.

This man left amazed by what he had witnessed, saying that he never realized that you could have nothing and still be that happy.

And wouldn’t you know it? A week later, a random stranger knocked on the apartment door, offering my parents a houseful of furniture from a friend who was moving, but not before my parents’ testimony and witness had left its mark on the heart of that one man.

Looking back on that time, I think my parents could echo what Erin says of her family’s own struggle, “we walked there so God could use us here.”

That always-on-time, God-glorifying provision became one of the cornerstones of my childhood and my faith.

MORE THAN JUST FAITHFUL

There were times in my childhood when, just as Erin shares about her family, God’s provision came in the form of government assistance and food stamps.

I remember what it’s like to only have powdered milk for your cereal or only a couple pieces of toast for breakfast.

I remember being on the “free lunch” roster at school and the little card we had to use in the cafeteria every day.

I remember NEVER eating out unless it was a very, very special occasion, and then it was a huge treat to even get a cheeseburger from McDonald’s.

However, I don’t remember that being a sad thing. I don’t remember feeling defeated or deprived.

Because hand-in-hand with all of that, I remember all my parents’ answered prayers & God’s faithfulness, those times when God showed up in surprising ways, or as Erin calls them, “kisses from Jesus.”

I remember checks coming in the mail at exactly the right moment, beautiful clothes handed-down to me from random people just as I grew out of mine, a Christmas or two when “Santa” showed up early and unexpectedly, surprising even my parents.

Basically, I remember that even though we didn’t have a lot, we always had enough, and I always knew that we were never without the hope and the peace that God would take care of all of our needs.

Having experienced first-hand God’s unfailing provision and witnessing my parents’ faith as they lived in absolute dependency on and trust in God’s goodness has given me my own foundation of faith in His faithfulness and the confidence to trust that He will always make a way because He has good plans for me, even when I can’t see it yet.

 

MORE THAN JUST MANNA

In the past, when my husband and I have talked about my childhood, I’ve mentioned to him that in some ways, it was like the actual children among the children of Israel in Exodus, like that generation who were born in the wilderness.

Because there were among that second generation of Israelites coming out of Egypt those who didn’t know anything of Egypt, except in stories from their parents. From the time they were born, they knew only a cloud by day, a fire by night, and manna in the morning. Their Source, their Provider had always been God.

And just like those Israelites, I always knew that ultimately, God was our provision. He was taking care of us.

Sure, the children of Israel might not have had sumptuous feasts in the wilderness. But they had manna. Always the manna.

(In my case, sometimes the manna tasted like government cheese. 🙂 Haha)

But it was still miraculous provision.

When Erin compares God’s provision in her life to manna, she also reminds us, “The manna or ‘bread’ from heaven in Exodus 16 wasn’t what the Israelites wanted, but it was what they needed.”

Life in Lape Haven: Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build a Legacy of Faith for Your Children. In her new book, More Than Just Making It, Erin Odom shares how God provided during her family's financial struggles. In my own childhood, my parents' faith in God's provision is what built a solid foundation of faith in my own life.

For those who remembered Egypt, the “want” versus “need” could be a problem, but the only way that their children would have known to be discontent with what God was providing was through the complaints of their parents and those around them.

For my family, while God’s manna was a constant, we didn’t take it for granted. I’m sure it wasn’t always what my parents (or my brothers and I) wanted, but thankfully my parents are more of the Joshua and Caleb type – they trust God despite the circumstances and what they can see.

That’s because they’ve walked through the wilderness with Him, and He has ALWAYS been faithful. Through every need. Through every struggle. Through every triumph.

And Erin has walked there, too. She says, “we could trust the Lord to meet our future needs because He showed over and over that He met our present ones.”

Growing up in a home that trusted God to provide, growing up on His “manna,” I have lived Psalm 37:25, which says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”

God always supplied for our needs, and thankfully at some point, our family began to prosper more financially, although never to the point we would be considered wealthy by American standards.

 

MORE THAN JUST US

As I read my way through Erin’s book, I became more and more excited, not just for Erin and what she learned through their time of financial hardship and not just for how her experience and advice will empower, encourage, and equip others who are facing difficult times. I wasn’t just excited because of the challenge to look beyond ourselves, our attitudes, and our preconceived ideas so that God can use us to bless others, as we align ourselves with His heart, His Word, and His purposes.

I was most excited for her children and the children of those who read her book and begin to look for God’s faithfulness.

Why? Because Erin and those other parents will be leaving their children an eternal legacy of God’s goodness.

In a recent podcast interview she did with Becki Rogers on “Not Quite Supermoms,” Erin shared about talking to her 9-year-old daughter, who had been quite young when Erin and her husband were struggling financially.

Having heard her mom talking about the book as Erin was writing it, the little girl asked one day, “Mommy, were we poor?”

And Erin’s answer made me tear up and shout praise to God as the same time.

Because Erin was able to say, “Yes, we were. But look what God has done!

(And it wasn’t just that God was blessing them financially. It was that God had provided in every area of need – wisdom, relationships, resources, and more.)

 

Oh, parents. Don’t be like the older generation in the wilderness who lost heart or complained in the struggle – whether it’s financial, spiritual, health-related, or whatever. Be among those who trust in God to lead them through difficulties, putting their hope in His plan and His provision, even when it seems like “just manna.”

Not only will He be faithful to you, not only will He provide exactly what you need when you need it, but you’ll have an opportunity to be like my parents, like Erin, and like that next generation of Israelites, who had the faith to take the Promise Land.

Let God use your struggles and the overcoming of them to become a memorial to God’s power and faithfulness, like the rocks from the Jordan River in Joshua 4.

In that chapter, God held back the river so His people could cross on dry land as they headed into the Promise Land. Then God charged them to create a memorial with stones from the river. He wanted them to have a reminder for themselves and future generations of what God had done for them there.

Because I had parents who trusted God to make a way, I’ve trusted and seen God make a way. No, my faith isn’t perfect, but when I face my own difficulties, I don’t have to be overwhelmed because I have reminders of His provision in their life and in my own. I can look expectantly for God to show up as He always has.

And when He does, I can now tell my own children, “Look what God has done!” and I know He will continue the legacy in them.

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Life in Lape Haven: Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build a Legacy of Faith for Your Children. In her new book, More Than Just Making It, Erin Odom shares how God provided during her family's financial struggles. In my own childhood, my parents' faith in God's provision is what built a solid foundation of faith in my own life.

MORE THAN JUST MAKING IT

It was such a “kisses from Jesus” thing to be a part of Erin’s launch team for her new book, More than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated, which releases September 5.

No matter where your family is financially, this book has something to offer you. As I mentioned above, this book is part memoir of her family’s most hopeless financial season and part mentoring to help those still facing a struggle, Erin’s desire is to bring hope and allow God to bless others through their story.

As she says, “We walked there so God could use us here.”

In More Than Just Making It, Erin shares her heart and her experiences with a transparency and vulnerability that let you know you are not alone, and she reminds us that we can trust in God’s provision and His plan in every situation. Her book offers encouragement and inspiration as well as a plethora of simple, actionable strategies and habits for saving money and provides readers with a stocked arsenal of resources to help you go from financial stress to financial success.

This is definitely a book that I highly recommend.

In fact, I recommend that you pre-order it NOW (before September 5) so that you can claim over $200 worth of amazing bonuses, including the What’s for Dinner Challenge (a 3 week e-course on meal planning), a printable Gratitude Journal, a 2-month subscription to You Need A Budget, and more, as well as access to the first 3 chapters so you can start reading immediately!

Plus, pre-ordering qualifies you for Erin’s special MEGA-GIVEAWAY, where one lucky entrant will win a prize package worth over $2,000! (Yes, $2,000!) You can see the complete list of prizes here: Mega-Giveaway.

READ THE FIRST CHAPTER: Sneak Peek – 1st Chapter

You can follow Erin on her blog, The Humbled Homemaker, and also on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter.

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Life in Lape Haven: Growing Up On Manna: How Your Struggles Can Build a Legacy of Faith for Your Children. In her new book, More Than Just Making It, Erin Odom shares how God provided during her family's financial struggles. In my own childhood, my parents' faith in God's provision is what built a solid foundation of faith in my own life.Congratulations to our giveaway winner, Denise! 

To quote Erin, “When God’s people help others, they’re demonstrating His love and kindness. When we receive provision from other people, we’re able to witness God’s generosity in our lives and praise Him. Both giver and recipient can worship god together…

I am honored to be the giver this time. One happy reader will get the joy of being the recipient of their very own copy of Erin’s new book, which comes out on September 5. (The giveaway winner will receive their copy within that week.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for entering! This contest is open to residents of the U.S. only and runs from Monday, August 21 (12:00 a.m.) through Sunday, August 27, 2017, at 11:59pm EST (I know, specific.).  The winner will be notified by email within 48 hours of the contest ending. Winner has 48 hours to respond before another winner is selected.

 Note: I was privileged to receive an advance copy of the book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest opinion. My positive review is based solely upon on how much I enjoyed this book.

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The Most Important Thing My Child Learned from His 1st Grade Teacher

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Important Thing My Child Learned from His 1st Grade Teacher & How It Challenged Me as a Mom. Some lessons are more valuable than reading, writing, and arithematic. My son's teacher definitely had the right priority when it came to what she wanted her class to remember most.

And How It Challenged Me As A Mom

It was Elijah’s last day of first grade. He came home, excited for summer and with creative plans for using up all his leftover school supplies (no way, kid – those glue sticks are unopened! You can take them to second grade!).

 He also had a letter for us from his teacher.

While it was mostly a summary of the year and appreciation to parents for working with her to help their child excel, one of the paragraphs near the end absolutely gripped my heart.

“On my board at school I have a sentence written. It’s simple, only a few words, and reads, “She loved me.” I’ve kept this on my board for years as a reminder to myself of my top priority – that they would know how much I loved them.”

Maybe it was because I was already emotional thanks to life with a young infant and all the sleepless nights and hormonal fun that brings.

Maybe it was realizing that my first baby was growing so quickly and already preparing to head into the second grade.

Or maybe, and most likely, I was blinking back tears because not only did Elijah know that his teacher loved him, I KNEW that she did as well.

(We mamas know when someone loves our children. And it blesses us.)

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Important Thing My Child Learned from His 1st Grade Teacher & How It Challenged Me as a Mom. Some lessons are more valuable than reading, writing, and arithematic. My son's teacher definitely had the right priority when it came to what she wanted her class to remember most.

Even if I gave you a play-by-play of the year, I don’t think I could list all the times and ways this teacher went above and beyond just teaching my child reading, writing, and arithmetic; all the times she helped him through a tough morning (he had some anxious moments as we got closer to Isaiah’s due date and those days when Mommy was at the hospital); all the special smiley faces she put on his schoolwork when he referenced God, Jesus, a Bible verse, or church, encouraging him in his bold faith; and all the extra hugs and prayers she sent our entire family as we all adjusted to our new normal after Isaiah was born.

And I know that Elijah wasn’t an exception. She poured her heart out for all her students (or as she calls them, “her little buddies”).

Often. And joyfully.

As I looked at that note from his teacher, I was challenged.

Because my top priority as a mother is pretty much the same, and then some – that beyond everything else that my children know about me, they’ll know without a doubt that I love them.

That they are the most important people in my life (along with God and Daddy ;)).

That I will pour my heart out for them always. And joyfully.

But some days that message may not be as clear, when I’m frustrated, or exhausted, or overwhelmed. Those moments when my patience is wearing thin from answering yet another question, or refereeing yet another argument, or having to repeat myself and threaten punishment when they just aren’t listening. Those can be hard days for a mommy

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Important Thing My Child Learned from His 1st Grade Teacher & How It Challenged Me as a Mom. Some lessons are more valuable than reading, writing, and arithematic. My son's teacher definitely had the right priority when it came to what she wanted her class to remember most.

So, I let those three little words from his teacher’s board – “she loved me”- be not only a challenge to make sure that they KNOW my love, but also to inspire a prayer to the One Who is Love.

A prayer that God would help my words, actions, responses, and body language to continually remind my boys of how much I love them.

A prayer that my energy, time, and focus would be spent where it has the most eternal impact (on my family & others) and not be so easily diverted to distractions (social media, television, random projects).

A prayer that, even when they are being disciplined, my children would always know that it is out of love (and that it would never be out of irritation or for my convenience).

A prayer that they realize that they are treasured by Mommy for exactly who they are – unique, precious gifts from God.

And that in those moments when it’s hard to find the joy or hard to continue to pour myself out, a prayer that I would rely on God alone as my source of strength and let His love flow through me even more.

A prayer that my love would, most importantly, point them to His love and be the reason that they can easily understand what it means when the Bible says that nothing can separate us from His love.

Life in Lape Haven: The Most Important Thing My Child Learned from His 1st Grade Teacher & How It Challenged Me as a Mom. Some lessons are more valuable than reading, writing, and arithematic. My son's teacher definitely had the right priority when it came to what she wanted her class to remember most.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  – Romans 8: 38 & 39


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