Monday, September 08, 2014

Faith and Patience

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:12 NIV)

I read this verse today and couldn't help but think about my mom, whose faith and patience I would be thrilled to imitate. 

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Why I am sold on Rhea Lana's Children's Consignment Sales

Hey, friends! I'm helping get the word out about the upcoming Rhea Lana Children's Consignment Sale in Siloam Springs. If you haven't ever participated in a Rhea Lana sale, you should check it out! I have been selling and buying at these sales for two years now, and it has really changed the way I take care of clothing my four children from season to season each year. 

For the first 6 years of Life With Kids at our home, this was my system for clothing my kids in a frugal way:

1. Scour yard sales for used clothes in decent condition.
2. Use coupons to combine with end-of-season sales at children's clothing stores and buy a year or two ahead (for example, buy next year's swimsuit for Maggie at this year's end-of-summer sale).
3. Keep all clothes from my oldest two kids to pass down to their little brother and sister. 

This system worked for us for those six years, and I am thankful for the way it helped up keep our kids clothed for a minimal amount of money. But there were some less-than-ideal elements of this system, including the storage hassle: all those huge Sterilight plastic bins with every size of infant and toddler clothing in both boys and girls varieties! We moved our entire wardrobe of infant and toddler clothing five or six times from house to house. Uggh. Plus the hassle of buying discounted clothes seasons ahead, guessing what sizes they'll need in which season, and having to get the purchased clothes into the right bin so that all the  3T clothes you bought last year are all in one place when it's time to wear them. It worked, but it was a hassle. 

Another downside to our old system was that with six years' age difference between our two boys and our two girls, by the time my younger son and daughter were ready for their turn with the clothes, most of the styles were looking pretty outdated, especially considering that I had bought many of the clothes used even before my older two kids wore them. So some of the styles were 7-8 years old. Current style is not the most important thing, but outdated clothes was a down-side to the system.

I also found it difficult to keep track of what I had and what I needed for each kid each season, and I sometimes ended up with random shirts or pants that didn't really make a wearable outfit. And I found that as my big kids grew out of toddler size clothes, it got harder and harder to find second-hand clothes in larger sizes in good condition (older kids stay in the same size longer than infants and toddlers and tend to wear through their clothes before they grow out of them.... this means less quality second-hand clothes in bigger sizes.)

Like I said, even with its down sides, our old system worked well for us, and I'm sure I would still be using it if we didn't have access to the Rhea Lana sales nearby. But let me tell you, Rhea Lana has now completely changed how I clothe our children! By buying and selling at Rhea Lana, I am now able to clothe all four of my kids for next to nothing, easily make sure that they each have the clothes and shoes they need,  pick out up-to-date styles for them that I love each season, and not have to store bins and bins of children's clothes that are not currently being worn. Here's how it works for me:

1. Each spring and fall, I go through closets and clean out all the clothes, gear and toys that my kids no longer use or need or have outgrown. At the same time, I evaluate what we have and what we still need for each child for the upcoming season. I make a list: Max needs 4 pair of pants, 5 long sleeve shirts, 4 pajama pants, 1 pair of dress shoes, etc. I work my way through all four kids until I have a complete list of what they all need for the upcoming season.

2. I take our outgrown clothes and toys and gear and spend a few hours at home tagging it all and entering it into the Rhea Lana online system and then take it up to the sale on merchandise drop off days.

3. I take my list of all of our needs for the season to the Rhea Lana sale and shop for all four kids. Within a couple of hours or less, I have done all the shopping to clothe my kids for six months. It costs FAR less than buying retail, and many of the clothes are in "like new" condition. Each time I've gone shopping, I've spent only about $100-150 total to buy everything we needed for the new season.(Granted, we have had some of what we needed already at home).  I go home with complete outfits for each child, not a bunch of hodgepodge shirts and pants like I often ended up with in my old system.

4. At the end of the sale, I pick up the check for our outgrown items I sold... and every time it has been about the same amount of money I spent shopping for the new season. Rhea Lana has allowed our family to clothe four children for two years now for almost no out of pocket expense! By selling AND buying, we are basically trading in what we no longer need for what we do need!

Rhea Lana really has been a huge blessing to our family. If you haven't checked it out before, you should! Check it out on Facebook  or  on the Rhea Lana website.

Enjoy the sale, friends. Rhea Lana is a fun and frugal way to take care of your munchkin's clothing, shoes, toys and gear needs. Hope you all find it as helpful as I have!

 Fall 2014 Rhea Lana of Siloam Springs Event
 October 8-11
700 East Granite ~ Siloam Springs, AR
Private Pre-Sale Event
for Consignors, Volunteers, and Moms-To-Be is
October 7

Friday, August 15, 2014

Conversations with Max and Maggie

(When I got into the van today, Maggie was already sitting in her booster seat, arms crossed and pouting. Before I could even ask what was wrong, Max jumped in to fill me in:)

Max: Maggie's upset because of Obama. She doesn't want to have to pay back all that money to China when she grows up. 

Mom: Maggie, you don't have to worry about that stuff right now. Besides, Maybe Jesus will come back soon. That would be the best anyway. 

Maggie: But mom, what will happen if someone finds out she has a baby growing in her womb and then Jesus comes back right then? 

Mom: Hmmm... I've never thought about that. I'm not sure how that will work. 

Max: Did you know that Jesus hasn't come back yet because there are still more people He wants to become Christians? That's one reason why we need to tell everyone the gospel, because we don't know who He has chosen, and maybe we'll tell them and they will be one step closer. 

Maggie: Woh, Woh, Woh. POINT OF FACT: God wants EVERYONE to be saved. 

(Just your typical minivan conversation on the way to Walmart, right? I seriously never know what these crazy kids are going to bring up... but they seem to specialize in hard theological quandaries.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Conversations with Max

Max: Mom, you know that verse in the Bible that's says there will be 'wars and rumors of wars' ? I'm getting ready for that. 

Me: oh, yeah? What are you doing to get ready?

Max: Oh, you know. Just getting prepared. Thinking about it. Like if I hear that someone bombed Hawaii or something. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

One Month Later: Thoughts on the Campaign

So. One month ago today was the Republican primary election in Arkansas. Many of you have been so kind to ask me how I am doing in the aftermath of our loss in Lucas' bid for the State Representative seat for Arkansas District 87. It really has taken me this entire month to process the experience and get back to a place internally that feels somewhat normal.

Lucas and I have believed for many years– really, since even before we were married– that someday if God opened the right doors and we believed He wanted us to do it, we would try to seek an elected legislative position for Lucas. Since I first met Lucas, I knew that he would be a great legislator, using his God-given gifts of intellect, analysis and most importantly the moral capacity to stand for what's right. We talked many times throughout our first decade of marriage about how an entry into politics might look or whether the time was right to take a leap.

Just over a year ago, I was pregnant with our fourth child, and some doors opened and circumstances fell into place that caused us to ask if this year was the time to make our bid for the state House of Representatives. We prayed about it, sought out wise counsel, and talked a lot about how the decision would affect our marriage, family, finances, etc. In the end, we really believed God wanted us to run for the district 87 State Representative seat. Even at the time, we were very aware that though we were completely convinced that God wanted us to run, we didn't know whether He wanted us to win. We announced Lucas' candidacy and from day one our constant prayer was that no matter the outcome, that we would honor God in every step of the process. 

We thought then that it would be challenging. I knew that putting our family out there in the public spotlight to run for public office– even in the relatively small arena of state politics– would be WAY outside my comfort zone. I knew Lucas would be gone a lot during the campaign year, and I knew that would be tough on me as I was trying to care for four young children. But we were in it together, believed God wanted us to do it, and so we took the leap. 

I can say from this side of the experience that the campaign and the loss were harder on me that I would have ever anticipated. Lucas and I have never worked so hard for anything. We spent just about every free minute of our life for over a year working on the campaign. We spent every penny to our name to try to make a dent against our opponent's massive campaign budget. We faced ethical quandaries and strained relationships and perhaps hardest of all, we leaned so heavily on our friends and family members to support us and work and give to the campaign as well. And then at the end of all that, we had to show up on election day and see if people would vote for us. With my immature, people-pleasing tendencies, the whole scenario really felt a little like a high school social nightmare. We were about to show up to school and the whole class was going to vote on whether they liked us and then announce it to the world. Ick.

In retrospect, I realize that, even though judging by political connections and campaign funding we were not supposed to win this race, I really believed we would. I prayed for God's will to be done and trusted His control and outcome of the race, but I also really thought that God was going to use the weak things (us) to overcome the strong. I was so aware of our weakness, both on a personal level and on a campaign level. I thought it would be such a great opportunity to give Him glory if we won- because we knew it would only be because of Him.

So when the numbers came in and the dust settled, I had some grieving to do. Everything we believed from the beginning was still true: we knew God had wanted us to run, and we knew that He was in control and His will was accomplished. But I was so disappointed, and I now had an opportunity to see if I really, really believed those spiritual platitudes that I'd been repeating to myself for the last year. I will say that the fact that two of the network news stations wrongly reported that we had won truly felt like the twist of the knife. We had to answer a lot of congratulatory e-mails, texts and conversations with a solemn reply: "Thank you so much.... but actually the news stations mixed up the numbers. We didn't win." I'm not gonna lie- that was tough.

In the aftermath, I've struggled with a pretty intense case of disillusionment. We live in the buckle of the Bible belt. My husband is an extremely intelligent, God-fearing man who truly wanted to serve this state in government and stand up for what's right. We worked as hard as two people can work and gave everything we have just to give him a shot at being able to do a job that it seems to me that he was made to do. And in the end, the people didn't elect him. 

In the end, it felt like none of that mattered compared to an opponent with a $100,000 campaign budget. It felt like it came down to money. And that really left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak. I feel like the system didn't work, that the dreams and the ideals that we say we value in America didn't play out... and that leaves me pretty disillusioned with our country and its direction. But perhaps every losing candidate feels like the system failed them? I hardly even feel like dressing my whole family up in red, white and blue and busting out all the mini American flags for the Fourth of July this year. And if you know that Roebucks, you know that's really saying something! 

On the other hand, we learned how truly rich in friendship we are, as so many of our personal community and circle of friends and family went WAY above the call of duty to give and give and give of themselves in this campaign endeavor. And I've come to realize that, in the end, we really shouldn't be that surprised when the systems of this world may fail, but that it should make us even more grateful when the heavenly systems, in this case for us, the Body of Christ, do not fail. We were held up in love and in prayer in amazing, never-repayable ways.

Behind all my disillusionment and sadness over the outcome, I'm thankful that what I knew to be true in the beginning is still true. God is in control. The most important place and way I can honor him is within the privacy of my own heart and within the four walls of our home. We can trust Him and the fact that He did not choose this for us. If He didn't want it for us, we don't want it either. It's hard to say, harder to believe, but it's true.

More than a year ago when we were actively seeking wise counsel about whether to run this race, Lucas visited with many politically savvy individuals, many of them Christians, to get their insights and thoughts. They crunched numbers, ran scenarios and all the rest. But of all those conversations, one he had with Jim Bob Duggar stuck with us and really became something of a lifeline to truth for me throughout this whole intense campaign year. When Lucas asked Jim Bob what insights or thoughts he had about the possibility of Lucas running this race, Jim Bob simply replied something to this effect: "Lucas, we can hash out details and discuss possible scenarios, but in the end, all you truly have to do is pray about this. Ask the Lord if He wants you to run this race. If He says "yes," then run it, no matter what anyone else tells you. You never know how God is working or what He'll do, or how He will use this even in unexpected ways." And then he proceeded to tell Lucas about a time when he and Michelle were faced with a similar situation, wondering whether he should run for U.S. Senate. All the pundits and experts said he was a fool for running- that he would get slaughtered in that particular race. But Jim Bob and Michelle had prayed about it and believed God wanted them to run, and so they did. And– not surprisingly– they lost the race. But on election day, a TV producer saw their family coming out of the polling place and had the idea to do a TLC television special on the Duggar family. And so began their connections with TLC and the ensuing world-wide fame and opportunity to spread the gospel that they never would have had from a U.S. Senate seat. 

So I'm choosing to believe that God will use this experience in ways we can't yet see. Perhaps that we won't ever see this side of eternity. I know that our desire has been to seek Him and honor Him and live for Him, and that's what He has asked of us. And at the very least, He has certainly used the challenges of the brief Roebuck family foray into politics to chip away at some parts of my character that needed quite and bit of work. And for that, I'm thankful. 

The morning after the election, Lucas came into the kitchen where I was making breakfast for the kids. He took both my shoulders in both of his hands and looked me square in the eye. He said, "I will NEVER ask you to do that again." And even in that moment, I didn't want him to say that to me. Because I thought maybe the campaign was a little like childbirth–  when you think "Why would anyone willingly go through that again??" But give it a little time and space, and the appeal slowly grows again. Because you see that though there's pain in the process, the outcome is precious and priceless. And if Lucas serving as a legislator is something God has for us someday, I think it will be all the richer for our difficult experience of this past year. 

Lucas and I have some friends who are running for a Pennsylvania state house seat this year. They didn't have a primary opponent but will face an extremely difficult race against their democratic opponent in the November election. After our loss on May 20, the candidate's wife, Michele, sent me this short message on Facebook. It was so meaningful to me that I would share it as my final thought on the subject: 

"You gave people an option. That is the great American way. We are so blessed to live in a country where we can choose our government officials. Luke will up against and established opponent in the fall. Like you said- we, too, leave the outcome to God. But at least the people have a choice."

And so we have closed this chapter of our lives and are already enjoying the next one: investing in our marriage, raising our four children to fear the Lord, working to impact our community and world for Christ and watching for whatever God has next for us.  

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Conversations with Max and Maggie

(Overheard while Max and Maggie were cleaning their rooms and calling out across the hall to each other)

Maggie: (overly dramatic). I JUST can't do it. It's going to take a THOUSAND years! It's IMPOSSIBLE to clean my room!

Max: (stoic) Everything is possible with God. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Conversations with Max

(Today I took max to the pediatrician for his 8-year-old check up. The Dr. mentioned that Lucas and I should not wait too long to have what he called the "Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll" conversation. I thought Max might have some questions about that so I brought it up on the way home.)

Mom: Max, did you have any questions about what the Dr. had to say?

Max:  Yes. What did he mean about the rock music? He said something about that the conversation should only take two minutes?

Mom: He was talking about some of the conversations that your dad and I are going to be having with you as you are growing up from a little boy to a teenager to a man. While you are growing up, you are going to be making more and more choices about what you  will do with your body, your mind and heart. The Dr. was reminding your dad and I to make sure you have all the information you need and also to make sure that you know we are the ones you can come to with absolutely any question or anything you don't understand, and we will always tell you the truth. 

Max: Mom, I do have one more question, but it's about a different subject. I don't know how to ask this. I'm not sure what words to say because I don't want to be disrespectful to God. 

Mom: It's okay. Being respectful to God is mostly about the attitude of your heart, so you don't have to worry as much about which words to say when you are really honoring God in your heart. I can tell you are doing that- you can go ahead and ask."

Max: If God is so powerful, why doesn't He just destroy sin?

< crickets chirping >

Max: Is it one of the mysteries? I've asked you this question before but it just keeps coming back to me...

Mom: That's a really good question. And You're right- there is a lot about that question that is a mystery to us, because God's true Word says in Isaiah that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways. Remember how your Dad told you it's kind of like an ant trying to understand everything about our world- science, art, politics, business, economics, government- an ant could never understand all that! Maybe 99% of your question is a mystery and 1% we can understand from what God has told is in His Word. 

Max: What's the 1%?

Mom: Well... One thing that we know is that God didn't want to create robots- he wanted us to love Him and obey Him because we chose to, not because He programmed us to love Him. Imagine if your mom was a robot... And every time I told you "I love you," you knew it was only because I was programmed to say it. That wouldn't mean as much, would it?

Max: No...

Mom: The other thing I know about the answer to your question is what I learned when I was in India. While I was there, I saw so many terrible, evil things- and I was asking the same question as you: "God, how can you allow this evil to go on and on?!" And you know what God showed me in His Word?

Max: What?

Mom: He showed me that our God is SO patient and SO kind, and He does not want anyone to perish but wants everyone to have the opportunity to believe and have eternal life. So because he is so patient and kind, He is holding back His wrath and His anger at sin so more people have the chance to believe.  In India, I saw many, many people bowing down and worshipping false gods. Many of them don't know about Jesus yet. 

Max: Did you tell them about Jesus?

Mom: No, I was doing other work. 

Max: (incredulous) WHY NOT??!!

Mom: Good question. Maybe I should have tried to find a way. But God is patient, and that's one of the reasons he hasn't destroyed all evil. He's giving us more time. Because He is powerful enough to destroy sin and make everything right again and HE WILL, and once that happens there won't be any more chance for more people to believe in Him. 

Max: The clock's ticking. 

Mom:  Yep. It could even be today that He comes back!

Max: But I think it will be more like a hundred years. He's leaving more time for more missionaries to go. 

Mom: And maybe you will be one of those who goes! Or maybe you will be a scientist like you've been thinking about- and you can tell the people you work with about Jesus. 

Max: Yes, that is my first idea. I really want to be a scientist and find the cure for the not-going-away kind of cancer. 

(.... And then we were on to another lengthy discussion about terminal cancer. :-). )

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Maggie and Chocolate

Maggie (6): Mom, I don't know why, but I'm not really liking brown chocolate very much any more. It's too creamy. You know, people's tastebutts DO change sometimes. My tastebutts changed so that now they are like Uncle T's.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Campaign Chatter

Maggie: You know, Max, you can lose votes. 
Max: How can you lose votes?
Maggie: By doing stuff people don't like. 
Max: Like what?
Maggie: Boys dressing up like girls, stuff like that. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Maggie (6): Mom, can I have mine the old-fashioned way, with a 
square of butter in the middle and syrup dropping down the sides?