Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or Treat

Today I want to share an email I received recently.  It had a "trick or treat" theme to coincide with the upcoming holiday, which is here today!  Happy Halloween!
But before I get into our Halloween activities...the email:
It started out by saying how relevant the phrase "trick or treat" is - not just for Halloween - but for our everyday lives.  A newborn sleeps through the night for the first time - trick or treat?  Workloads are reassigned - trick or treat?  A particular statement said on any given day - trick or treat?
I never really thought of life that way, but it's so true!  We're constantly questioning things around us and wondering if things are for real or not.  (At least I know I am!)  My kids wake up in a happy and in a good mood - trick or treat?  Someone does something nice for me - trick or treat?  Something good happens or I can see some light at the end of the tunnel I've been going through - trick or treat?
When I thought about it, I started feeling bad about all the things I question in life, but then I realized something:  Nothing about life on earth is certain, so no wonder we question it so much!
The email ended this way:
" 'I am the first and the last,' says the Lord God Almighty, who is, who was and is to come.
The trick is to put our faith in God and recognize our overflowing bag of treats!"
Don't you love that?  We really do have an overflowing bag of treats, don't we?  God is the only thing that is certain and the only person or thing we should place our trust in.  God does not change.  He is consistent, and He is good.  We can, and should, trust in Him, always!
Okay, so now on to the Halloween festivities!
First of all, my kids were little skeletons this year - they were so cute!
Our first Halloween activity was a Fall Festival and one of the churches here in town.  We ate hotdogs, played games, and watched a shadow box show, which the kids thought was really neat!
Then that same church had a Trunk or Treat later that evening...which we kind of missed...  We showed up with 30 minutes left, but they had already broken things down and left.  I guess the flow of kids came right at the start and died off rather quickly.  Luckily, a few of the volunteers were still around filled up the kids goodie bags even if we did miss the Trunk or Treat experience!
Yesterday the kids had a Halloween party at playgroup and had a blast!  ...Although by the end they were exhausted,  loaded up on sugar, and majorly acting out...SO much fun.
Last night we celebrated Halloween here in town.  We went to another Trunk or Treat (to which we actually arrived early!), and the kids loved it!  There were also a couple of bouncy houses and some games for the kids to play, and then they got their picture taken in front of a really cute Fall background - can't wait to see it!
After that we went trick or treating at my in-laws house, a few friends' houses around town, and ended up at another friends' grandma's house where we stayed the rest of the evening.  She cooks lots of yummy food and treats each year and friends are invited in to just sit and enjoy each other's company while the kids play.  It was so much fun!
This morning we went to story time where the kids got to feel the inside of a pumpkin and go "trick or treating" through the library, and tonight we're ending the Halloween season with some pumpkin carving!
It's been fun (for the most part), but I'm glad it's almost over.  Now I just have to figure out what to do with all the candy!
Here are a couple pictures from the Trunk or Treat:
Enjoying a sucker!
Checking out the Rt. 66 trunk.
Hope you all had/have a great Halloween this year, and remember what our real treat in life is!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Talk 'em Up!

The best kind of compliment I've ever received is the kind that's about me, but isn't said directly to me.
A few weeks ago, someone shared with me some wonderful things my husband had said about me in a conversation they had.  I had no idea they had even spoken, so I was genuinely surprised by this information.  I was flattered by what this person told me and was happy to know my husband thinks so highly of me!  Not that I didn't already know that, but it's one thing to receive a compliment straight from my husband's mouth, and a whole other thing to know he builds me up when I'm not around, when he could just say nothing at all - or even say something negative.
Just a couple days ago I listened to a friend gush over how much she loves her husband and tell me what a wonderful husband, father, and strong spiritual leader he is.  She was very obviously sincere in her sentiments and I really admired the way she built her husband up to me.  That is what wives are supposed to do!  Proverbs 31:12 says "She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."  My friend was definitely bringing good to her husband that day!
I hope that when I speak to others about my husband, I make it apparent what a great Christian man he is and how proud I am of who he is to me and our children!  I want to bring him good, not harm, always!  And anything that doesn't build my husband up is, indeed, very harmful.
James 3:5-6 says "...the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.  Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body."
Proverbs 18:21 says "The tongue has the power of life and death..."
Wow!  That's a lot of power!
Now I don't know any wife that just goes around saying awful and terrible things about their husband, but I have known some who complain about them a lot.  And you know, if we wives are in the habit of complaining about our husbands all the time, even over small things, how will anyone know all the good things about them?
How will they ever be "respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land," (Proverbs 31:23) if we don't make it a point to build them up to others?
Ephesians 4:29 says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
When my friend was building her husband up to me, she was doing it according to his needs, not mine, but it benefited me as well.  Her words were an example to me of how a virtuous wife speaks of her husband.  And her words benefited my husband, because now I am encouraged to build him up more, just as he deserves.
I don't know if my husband's words about me benefited the person he said them to a few weeks ago, but those words came back to me and they definitely benefited me, as well as our relationship!
Also, there's something to the power of positive thinking.  If we make it a point to speak positively about our husbands and stifle the negative words (no matter how bad it hurts our tongue when we bite down!), we turn our focus on the good in our men and actually begin to think more positively about them...which in turn leads to more building up of our husbands!
So here's the point:  No bad can come from kind words, no matter who they're about or who hears them.  So speak kindly to others and of others, and wives, talk your husbands up!
A great place to start is here - leave a comment building up your husband!
*If you're in a place right now where you find it hard to say anything nice about your husband, try to start small.  Pray to the Lord that your heart will be changed and your eyes will be open to the good in your husband.  When you find something, no matter how small it is, compliment your husband and then build him up to others.  Then do it again!  Soon you'll find yourself looking for and easily finding positive things about your husband.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: My Pride & Joy

My kids-
My pride and joy-
Aren't they too cute?!
Some days I just feel so overwhelmingly blessed and extremely honored to have them in my life!
So I just want to share a few things that happened this past week that filled my heart with pride and joy.
My birthday was last week, and my son couldn't understand why there wasn't going to be a party.  I finally conviced him there wasn't going to be one by saying that I'm the one who plans the birthday parties in our family, but I didn't plan one for myself and no one else had planned one for me either.
My sweet boy told me he'd plan a party for me - a brownie party - because he knows I like brownies.  He knew we already had a cake, so he said he'd decorate the house with brownie decorations.  He was so precious to want to plan a party for me!
Earlier that day he asked what I wanted for my birthday.  When I told him I'd like to go shopping, he told me in a very matter-of-factly way that I couldn't have clothes for my birthday.  Then he sat and thought for a minute, and proceeded to tell me he'd get me a stuffed animal to sleep with because I didn't already have one so I needed one.  He was so sweet to put so much thought into it!
And to top it off, before we'd even eaten breakfast that morning he told me out of the blue that I was a nice and fun mommy and that he loved me.
I love my son's kind heart!  It's one of the things I love most about him, and I pray it never changes!
And my little girl...  She brings me so much pride and joy too!  I'm a pretty plain, consistent, play-it-safe kind of girl.  My daughter, on the other hand, is full of surprises, and I love this about her!
I know it's the nature of a child her age, but she's always doing or saying something new, and she's kind of unpredictable.  She's still so young, but I think she's going to keep us on our toes for years to a good way!
Tonight at her gymnastics class she spent the first 25 out of 30 minutes trying her hardest to do nothing she was supposed to do.  But just as I was thinking I may not keep her in gymnastics anymore, she decided to be great.
It was her turn to do the balance beam.  Normally she holds my hand, and sometimes her teacher's hand as well, while she balances her way across.  Tonight she defiantly pushed our hands away, threw her arms up into a perfect gymnast pose, and walked the beam like she'd been doing it for years.  She was so adorable!
Here she is:
The picture's a little blurry - it's from my phone - but I still love it!
(And we were being festive with the skeleton jammies since Halloween is this week!)
I hope you've enjoyed reading about my little ones for a few minutes - I think I could write a book about how wonderful they are!  But it's late, and my Mommy Moment Monday is about to be a Tuesday, so I'm off to bed, feeling SO grateful for my pride and joy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

So Serious!

I've been thinking about my blog, and it seems like all the posts have been so serious lately!
If I remove myself as the writer and think about the person behind the blog, I just want to purse my lips, furrow my eyebrows, and say, "Aww, so serious!" in the same way I say it to my 4-year-old son when he's all worked up over something so small.
Now I know when he gets worked up it's over something very important to him, so I don't want to belittle his problems.  And I concede that while my problems are a little bigger than his, they're pretty small too in the big scheme of things.
So today I want to laugh.  I don't want to write another serious post about changing my perspective, appreciating what I've got, or focusing on the important things.  There are also a lot of people around me who need prayer right now - and they'll get it.
But right now, I just want to laugh.  I have to laugh.  And there's plenty to laugh at.  Believe me, this list is not comprehensive! 
Like when the kids and I went to our old house a couple days ago:  as soon as we got there my son had to go to the bathroom with some tummy issues.  I got him cleaned up, and then (forgive me for disclosing too much) I had to go to the bathroom with some tummy issues...during which my son had to go to the bathroom again.  He was in the hall bath yelling at me in the master bath, and I was yelling back at him to hang on.  Then my daughter walks in and informs me she's got a dirty diaper.  What a way to start our last day there!
Or yesterday, when we were at the title company in the middle of closing on our house:  with tummy issues similar to the day before, my son had an accident in the bathroom.  I got him cleaned up, ran out to the car about 10 times, rummaged through our loaded-down car, and finally got him changed and everything taken care of.  Then my daughter, right on cue, informs me again that she's got a dirty diaper..and I'm out of wipes, of course!
The day continued with frequent potty breaks on the drive home, and a short trip to Menards with 2 incidents of my son screaming, crying, and running full speed to the bathroom yelling "I'm about to have an accident!"  I think every eye in the store was on us!
There seems to be a theme here...Let's move on!
These next things are not really things to laugh about, but they're an example of how things just don't always work out like I want them to.  (So I guess this is my little serious note I have to add in - be careful with expectations...they can set you up for disappointment!)
I won't go into a lot of detail about either of these things, so long story short:  my birthday was earlier this week (and by the way, I LOVE my birthdays), and I got to see my husband for about 5 seconds.  He had to work all day and then something very unexpected came up he had to go do that was way more important than my birthday.  Definitely NOT how I expected my birthday to be, but that's the way it goes.
And my parents were visiting last weekend and I was so excited for them to visit the church my family's been attending.  Well, some big things have happened in the church recently and the morning had a very somber note to it.  Again, not the way I pictured it.
Most things these days aren't the way I pictured them - and all I can think of is the quote, "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans!"
I think God's getting a real good belly laugh over me right now!  And as per instruction from the pastor Sunday morning, I think I'm just gonna shrug my shoulders and have a belly laugh myself :)
What else can I do?!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Tribute to My Favorite Season

Although Fall is here and I am loving everything about it, I'm not talking about Fall today.  My favorite season is not a season of the year - It's a season of my life.  A season that has just recently ended:  the season of my life spent in Southern Illinois.
The most meaningful part of this season are the people who were in it.  Wonderful, loving, supportive people!
Many of you have come across some version of the poem "Reason, Season, or a Lifetime."  It's a poem that provides a neat perspective on the people that come in and out of your life.  The author talks about people who come into your life for a reason and then move on, people who are in your life a season of time and then move on, and people who are in your life forever.
The poem suggests that the people who are in your life for a reason fulfill some need you have expressed, and when that need is met, they move on.  When someone is your life for a season, they usually bring you great joy and your time with them is very meaningful...but seasons change and your time with them comes to an end.  And those who are in your life for a lifetime are with you until the very end.

Now while I know our season of life in Southern Illinois is over, I have no doubt our friendships from that season are for a lifetime.  Our friendships have obviously changed, but they will never end.  Those people are my family, and family doesn't quit being family when someone moves away.

I'm feeling very sentimental about that family today because the kids and I are getting ready to travel to our old house and spend one last day there before it's not ours anymore.  Tomorrow is closing day, and a part of me feels like everything about that season of life is about to officially end forever.  But I know in my heart that is not true.  Our relationships are not over, they're just different now.

And while I'm sad for the end of the season, I'm also excited for the new season to come.  Not only do I get to keep those frienships and have a plethora of great memories to look back on, I get to start making more lifelong friendships and creating more memories with my family.  We've accepted the changes, adjusted to our new lives here, and can finally enjoy the new people and things around us.

But sometimes it physically hurts that I don't get to be a part of my old friends' every day lives anymore.  I am so very grateful for the Southern Illinois season and everything about it will always have a special place in my heart.  That season marked the first five years of my marriage and all the growth that comes with those first years.  That season marked the birth of my children.  During that season, my husband beat cancer.  That season was full of spiritual growth because of a wonderful church, a great preacher, and meaningful Bible study and fellowship with our church family.  It marked the birth of many of those people's children and grandchildren, the amazing people I got to raise my children with.

I would not trade those years for anything.  And I will not let those friendships slip away.  They mean so much to me and again, I am so very grateful for those people.  Each and every one of them!  I sure hope they know that!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

eBook Review: 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life

Last week I wrote a post about my struggle with patience.  I shared Galatians 5:22-23 which says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." and I professed my desire to be fruitful. 
I am working on becoming more patient, but a big part of any personal change is self-control, which also happens to be listed in the passage above.  It seems to me that patience and self-control go hand in hand. 
To make a change in your life you need self-control and self-discipline.  Then, of course, you need patience to persevere to the end.  And to keep yourself from regressing to your old ways, you again need self-control and self-discipline.
An eBook on self-discipline has come my way and I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to read and review it for you.  It's called 21 Days to a More Disciplined Life by Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom
It challenges readers to own up to their lack of self-discipline, admit fault instead of blaming outside factors, feel confident their being the solution, and determine to make a gradual change.  "Gradual" is the operative word here.  That's where the 21 days come into play.
Crystal offers an easy-to-follow 21 day plan to become more self-disciplined.  It is not a plan through which you'll be completely self-disciplined in all areas of life by the end, and Crystal doesn't claim that it is.  The plan simply provides practical steps to make a change - a small change - but an extremely important change. 
Crystal points out that becoming self-disciplined is largely psychological.  She says, "...moving in the right direction - even at a microscopic rate - is always faster than standing still.  Tiny changes can add up to major differences over a long period of time.  These differences are not only physical, but psychological as well."
The idea is to tackle one small change first, and then feed off of your success.  Making a change, however small it may be, will first prove that change is possible and then encourage you to make more changes. 
Crystal encourages readers to set goals, but to start small and make sure they're realistic.  She suggests breaking goals up into "small bite-sized pieces" as to avoid feeling overwhelmed.  She says, "If you never let yourself experience small wins, you'll be much less likely to experience the big wins.  So don't let yourself become burnt out or defeated with big, overwhelming goals.  The small wins quickly add up to significant, measurable accomplishments, and before you know it, you reach your big goal."
So here again, we need self-control to take things slow, and patience to achieve big change.  Then we need self-discipline to continue the pattern.
The eBook goes on to encourage readers, among other things, to keep a positive thought process, find a support system, write goals down on paper, to not overload yourself, and to not compare yourself or your goals to anyone else.

21 Days to a More Disciplined Life provides very practical, easy-to-follow advice for achieving more self-discipline in your life.  I definitely recommend this eBook. 

But I think it speaks on more than self-discipline and would be a beneficial read to anyone.  It encourages living a more organized life overall, placing your focus on what's important to you and your family, embracing your uniqueness, showing yourself more grace, and becoming more confident in yourself.

The 21 day program is believable and feasible and I, personally, am excited to start utilizing it and making some changes in my life!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Mirror Mirror

My son is just like me. 
He looks like me.  He talks like me.  He moves like me.  I'm pretty sure he even thinks like me.
Sometimes it's like looking into a mirror!
It is so sweet!  ...Most of the time.  I say this because while I'm filled with joy that I have this special bond with my son, he didn't just inherit my good qualities, but my negative qualities also.  Well, let me clarify:  my self-perceived negative qualities.
I have always struggled with a negative self-perception.  I am my own worst critic.  And unfortunately, sometimes I catch myself being overly critical towards my son - my 4-year-old son.  
One day I realized that the things I was overly cricital of my son about had nothing to do with him.  Nothing at all.  They were the very things that I disliked about myself.
My heart dropped and I stopped dead in my tracks.
My sweet little boy.  I had been seeing myself in him and rather than embracing it, I was disappointed.  I've never felt like a worse mother than at that moment.
I've mentioned this before, but I think it's amazing how God uses children to reveal things to us as adults.  God showed me that I still have a negative view of myself that I need to change.  And fast.  My negative view of myself is affecting my son. 
And here's the truth:  Not only did God create me in his image, he made me the way I am for a reason, even if I don't know what that reason is.  I don't need to know.  I just need to trust God.  He loves me for everything that He made me to be.
And that's the love that my son deserves.  Just like me, he is made in God's image.  He is beautiful in every way.  And I've been making my issues his.  That is not only unfair, but it is shameful.  God has entrusted my son to my care and I need to do better.
I will not continue to be disappointed in myself through the similarities I see in my son.  I will not miss out on the opportunity to take those characteristics I find in my son and help cultivate them into what God meant for them to be.  I will not let my son see any more of my negative self-view for fear of him having the same negative self-view some day.  And most importantly, I will actively try to change my self-view so that none of this will be an issue and so God can better use me.  Because I know that He cannot use me if I'm too focused on my own perceived shortcomings.
God doesn't make mistakes.  I am not faulty - I have weaknesses.  Unfortunately, my son has some of the same weaknesses, but luckily he's not alone.  God uses His people through their weaknesses, so once I allow God to use all of me, maybe I can show my son how God can use him too.
But right now, I'm going to go look at my beautiful son, see a flash of myself, hug him tightly, and appreciate him for everything he is...and isn't!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Perfectly Impatient

That's me.  Perfectly impatient...trying to become imperfectly patient.
I know that sounds a bit confusing, so hear me out:  I am a very impatient person.  It's one thing I'm really good at.  I'm perfectly impatient. 
I can drive myself crazy waiting to see how things will turn out.  (I can also drive those around me crazy - just ask my husband!)  When I get a new book, I have to read the last page first.   I usually have about 7 different tabs open on my internet browser, because I can't just look at one thing at a time.  I get so worked up when a TV show leaves me hanging.  And an open ended movie - that's the worst!  I don't like surprises...even good ones!  And I've been known to give a present to someone early or tell them what it is because I just can't handle keeping it a secret!
We're still a few days away from closing on our old house and I'm going crazy trying to figure out where we'll end up next.  What our house will look like, where it'll be, what color paint we'll use for which room, blah blah blah.  I'm so impatient that I'm taking the good and valuable information I'm learning from Financial Peace University (which is suggesting we wait a while before jumping into buying another house while we get some things in order first) and trying to justify doing things out of order.

It's ridiculous how much time I spend (aka waste) impatiently waiting for something.  I let myself get so ahead of myself and so consumed by what if's, I wonder's, and maybe's that I often miss out on what's right in front of my face.

I don't want to miss out anymore.  I don't want to live my life in a constant state of anxiety because I can't relax and just see what happens.  It seems easy enough, but I know making the change will be hard.  It's going to require a lot of praying, reading God's Word, self-control, and ironically, patience.

When I looked to the Bible to find some scripture on patience, I found that it's mainly spoken of in times of suffering and hardship situations.  It made me realize how unimportant most of the things I get worked up about are.  But while I may feel anxious over trivial things, my struggle with impatience is real and something I need to get a hold on.

The one verse that really seems to fit here is Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." I want to be fruitful, and patience is a key part of that. 

But I'm not expecting that someday I'll reach a point where I'll never feel anxious about anything again. Let's be real. I'm never going to be perfectly patient. My impatient tendencies are a part of my God-given personality and instead of trying to get rid of them tall together, hopefully I can channel them into something positive (may God reveal what that is!). Until then I'm ready to work hard to become imperfectly patient.

God's grace lets us be imperfect.  God knows we can't be perfect, but He expects us to do our best and lean on Him all the while. 

And being imperfectly patient is better than having no patience at all.  So I'll take it one day and one situation at a time, and someday I'll be imperfectly patient rather than perfectly impatient.  (But I'll probably always read the last page of a book first!)


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Organized Chaos

The subtitle of my blog is "My Crazy Beautiful Life."
It may as well be "My Crazy Beautiful Chaos."
Things are always a little chaotic around here, but that's what makes us,
But that doesn't mean that everything, as a rule, has to be chaotic.  Like my home organization.
Although I love things to be organized, I must admit the way I manage my home is anything but.
At one point I had a weekly cleaning schedule which I followed closely for a few months...but then we moved, and that went out the window!
I'm trying to get back on a cleaning schedule, my husband and I have been trying to get our finances organized, and we're still just trying to get life back to semi-normalcy after moving, but I'm looking for a place to start and a way to bring it all together.  Luckily, there are other ladies out there that want the same and have offered some wonderful help! 
I was first inspired to create a weekly cleaning schedule by Darlene from Time Warp Wife.  She provides a basic cleaning schedule that you can print and use for free.  I loved the concept, used some of her suggestions, and then tweaked it a little to suit me better.
Today I came across a blog called Organizing Homelife.  The author, Ginny, is doing an October series called 31 Days of Home Management Binder Printables
 I know, right?! That is awesome! Ginny offers free printables on all aspects of home management, from a calendar to a cleaning schedule, from a bill schedule to contact lists (9 so far!). She even starts with the binder cover. This girl has thought of everything! The series is only on day 16, and I can't wait to see what's still to come! (I'm also thinking this would be a neat Christmas present to assemble for someone else!)
Now maybe I'm kind of a nerd, but I think a home management plan is a great idea.  And I love that there's so much room for personalization, because you and I both know what works for one person doesn't always work for another.  And that's okay.  If nothing else, the resources from Time Warp Wife and Organizing Homelife can serve as inspiration to creating your own home management plan, whether it's on one sheet of paper, on 50 pages in a binder, or even just some key ideas in your head.
Another thing I love about the idea of home management is that it is a way to be dilligent and good stewards with the things God has given us.  And I've been pleasantly surprised that the resources I've found so far have all had that in mind:
  • Crystal from Money Saving Mom, a blog which offers tons of home management tips (and where I get a lot of my coupons!), shares on the blog's Facebook page that the purpose of the blog is to help others "live simply, save aggressively, and give generously." 
  • Darlene from Time Warp Wife's blog and everything in it is inspired by Scripture.
  • Ginny from Organizing Homelife is a pastor's wife and shares in her 31 Days of Home Management Binder Printables that her family uses a budget based on Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, which also uses Scripture to support his teachings.

So it's obvious I believe home management is important, not only because it makes daily life easier and more enjoyable, but because I want to take care of what God has given me.
I haven't been doing a good job lately, but now I have no excuse.
Even chaos can be organized!

Today I am linking up to Time Warp Wife.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Goodnight Moon

I'm sure any parent reading this has heard of the children's bedtime book Goodnight Moon, and has probably read it themselves.  I know I've read it many times!
My son received his copy of Goodnight Moon as a Christmas present from his Aunt and Uncle and has loved it ever since!  Before my daughter was born we used to read it every single night, and one of our favorite things to do was to look for the little mouse on each page.  He's in every picture of the room the story takes place in, but he moves around from place to place. 
Now my daughter likes the book too, and tonight we looked through it about 20 times (not an exaggeration!) looking for the mouse.  She would furrow her brow and repeat "bouse? bouse?" until she found him, and then would giggle each and every time he was discovered.  It was so precious!
Then my son grabbed the book and said, "Here, let me read it to you."  And read it he did!  My sweet boy had most of the pages memorized and proceeded to "read" it to his sister.  They sat together on my bed reading and looking for the mouse together, and they made me so proud!
There are many evenings when I'm exhausted and frazzled and even look forward to putting the kids to bed, although I hate to admit it.  Tonight I wish it could've lasted forever.  I could've listened to Goodnight Moon a thousand times.  My kids bring so much joy to my heart and tonight was a tiny, simple moment in time I'll remember always.
"See, children are a gift from the Lord.  The children born to us are our special reward."
(Psalm 127:3)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Today I have been challenged.
While I was reading Monday's post from the Good Morning Girls' blog, I read these words: 
"Who or what is your identity rooted in? Pray and ask God to show you if your identity is rooted in anything else but God." 
*Gulp*  The answer to that question was easy.  Not God.  I'm trying to get there, but it's questions like these that show me how much farther I need go.
If anyone read my post from yesterday, it's easy to see I had pretty strong roots in our old home, old life, old church, and old friends.  And let's not even talk about how I don't know how to act when I'm away from my children!  I've often felt we "uprooted" ourselves from there and I've been desperately trying to root myself here.  I need that connection.  I need those ties.  I need those bonds.
Well, yes and no.  I do need to be firmly rooted somewhere.  But not anywhere or in anything of this world.  I need to be rooted in God.  It's obvious I've found much of my identity in the things of this world that I've rooted myself in.  God has clearly shown me that.
Now don't get me wrong, it's perfectly alright to feel connected to things, places, and people.  In fact, I think it's a good thing to have those long as we keep our eye on the prize - Jesus!  And as long as we remember that all good things come from God (James 1:17). 
Colossians 2:6-7 says "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
Verses 9-10 say "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness.  He is the head over every power and authority."
Now I don't know about you, but I want to be built up and strenghtened by the head over every power and authority!  I want to be full like Jesus!  And you want to know the great thing?  I can!  We all can!  And I am overflowing with thankfulness that we have been given that opportunity!
Paul even tells us how to do that here in Colossians:  Root ourselves in Jesus.  Live our lives in Him, every day.  Be thankful.
I can do that.  I know I'll fail sometimes, but I won't give up.  And God won't give up on me.  He will show me love and grace, and fulfill His every promise to me.
And I will "fix [my] eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  (2 Corinthians 4:18)
And when I fix my eye on the prize, "the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace*."
*Quoted from the hymn Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


...A little piece of the past preserved, while everything around us is forever changing.  Some are good, some are not.  Memories are powerful.  They can make us feel emotions we haven't felt in years, and there are little triggers all around us, everyday.
Today, I am so grateful for memories.  I have a lot of great ones...and a lot of not-so-great ones.  But they all have helped make me who I am today, and they remind me that things don't last forever.  That means difficult times don't last forever.  Whatever the outcome, they do end, which I find comforting.  But it also means good times don't last forever.  While I find that a little depressing, it reminds me to appreciate the good times a little more.
Last night in bed I started thinking about all the things that have changed in my life recently as well as the changes to come.  I started thinking about our old house, church, and friends and it really upset me.  We are about to sell our old house, and last night that made me feel we were about to lose all ties to our old life and all that went with it.
So as I laid there, eyes burning, I started to pray to God for comfort and peace about all our life changes.  That's when He assured me that my fears were unwarranted.  Yes, it will be a little less convenient to visit without our old house to stay in, but it won't be impossible.  And there are so many different means of communication available, there's really no reason we can't keep in touch with our friends.  But the most powerful tie to our old life are our memories!
I remember signing those papers with my husband and moving into our first home together.  I remember our first visit to our church and meeting who would become some of our lifelong friends.  I remember the fights my husband and I had and the growing they led to.  I remember bringing our first child home from the hospital and the family there to welcome him.  I remember the roller coaster ride of being new parents and how we got to go through it with our friends.  I remember the pain of two pregnancy losses and then the joy of bringing our second child home.  I remember welcoming home so many of our friends' newborns.  I remember taking care of my husband when he had surgery after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, and the outpouring of love and support from our church family.  I remember countless cookouts, bonfires, Bible studies, and times spent with amazing friends.  I remember laughing, crying, worshipping, and praying with those friends.  I remember my son's first day of preschool.  And so much more!
What a beautiful season of life, so full of blessings!
While that chapter of our life is over, it's still a part of our book and always will be.  I think I'll revisit that chapter often and smile at all the wonderful things in it. 
Today, I am so grateful for memories!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Their Story, My Truth

"[My kids] will tell my story and their story will be my truth."
(Written by Courtney, from Women Living Well )
What a sobering thought!  I just read today's blog post from Courtney, and let's just say, God is convicting me to be a better mom!  He has given me revelation that I will be held accountable for my behaviors around my children and the way I raise them (or don't).  I know that sounds kind of obvious, but this concept has really just clicked recently. 
God knows all.  Every. Little. Thing.  But He's not the only one keeping me accountable.  My kids keep me accountable too.  Or at least they will.  They may not have formed many opinions on the type of mother I am or fully understand how I've impacted their lives yet, but one day they will.  One day "they will tell my story and their story will be my truth."
When my kids are older, I want them to look back and say that I was a gentle, compassionate, attentive, gracious, and nurturing mother.  I want them to say I always had time for them.  I want them to say I took care of them and the house without grumbling.  I want them to say I put their needs above my own.  I want them to say I loved them and their father very much.  I want them to remember me as a good mom.
But more than that, I want them to say I loved Jesus and I loved others.  I want them to say I taught them about God's Word and that I lived my faith out every day.  And I may not be the one who gets my children into Heaven, but I do have an impact on my children's salvation.  I can do everything in my power to lead themt o Jesus.  I can show them the way to eternal life.  And I can pray that they choose that way.
So maybe I shouldn't focus so much on the kind of mother I want my children to remember me as, but on being the mother my kids need me to be.  They may need me to be exactly as I described I want to be, but the focus is on them.  And if I strive to be everything they need me to be, their story and my truth will be good.  I pray that their story and my truth will ultimately be that I helped lead them to Jesus.
I'm never going to be the perfect mother.  But God gave me my two beautiful children, which means I am the perfect mother for them.  God doesn't make mistakes.  God knew that I was the mother my children needed.  God believed in me as a mother, and that encourages me!  That gives me confidence in my abilities as a mother!  It also makes me fully feel the responsibility of being a mother.
I am so grateful that God has entrusted two precious children to me and my husband.  But I recognize that they belong to Him, and that it's my responsibility and honor as their earthly parent to lead them back to their Heavenly Father.
Thank you, God, for giving me such an important job!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dave Ramsey Would Be Proud!

Well, I'm proud anyway.  My husband and I have made it through 5 weeks of Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University classes!  But I've actually felt a little discouraged through it all, until last week.  We're not deep in debt, we don't use credit cards, and we already watch what we spend - so we haven't seen any major changes in our finances yet, although we have made some changes.  So really, there's no reason to feel discouraged - I should feel proud we've done this well so far!
But last week I had a breakthrough.  Friday was my husband's birthday and he requested a pecan pie.  I went grocery shopping and found a barely expired bag of pecans, and stepping totally outside of my comfort zone, I asked the cashier if I could have them at a discount.  He said yes!  I got a $5 bag of pecans (nuts are expensive!) for $ .99!  Then I went to another grocery store, having read the weekly ad, and purchased 2 lbs of grapes for cheaper than 1 lb at the next cheapest store.  Score!  I called my husband and said, "Dave Ramsey would be proud of me!"  He didn't seem quite as excited over the nuts and grapes as I was, but he humored me anyway :)
And then this week I discovered these things called coupons.  Ever heard of them?  I think it's a fairly new idea.  *wink wink*  Anyway, today I went shopping with a coupon for $1 off 2 packs of toilet paper, and happened to find that toilet paper on sale too!  I told my husband all about it over lunch.  Again, not quite as excited, but he listened eagerly nonetheless.
So the doors to saving have been opened!  While we are already doing an okay job with our finances, I've found an area that I know I can do better in.  My plan is to search for coupons and deals (mainly at and Money Saving Mom), read the weekly ads from my local stores, and shop the sales and menu plan around them.  It's really pretty easy and doesn't take much time.  And now that I live in town and I'm kid-free twice a week, it's not a big deal to hit up all the stores in town.  I can't wait to see the difference in our grocery bill! 
I also can't wait to see how our finances change once our house sells.  I really want to start giving more for offering and I'd love to start supporting a mission, ministry, or charity of some kind.  We don't do a good enough job in the giving department and I hate to say it, but I don't think we're going to do better until some more money frees up.  I hope that happens soon!
Until then, I will revel in my tiny victories at the grocery store!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mommy Moment Monday: Will My Children Go to Heaven?

Yesterday morning in Sunday School we had a very intense discussion on who would and would not be spending an eternity with Jesus in heaven.  We talked mainly about what happens to those individuals who had not heard and may never hear the good news of the gospel, and what the age of accountability might be in children who have been taught about Jesus' sacrifice.  As you can imagine, raw emotions surfaced and ran wild!
If there was ever a Mommy Moment which elicited strong emotions about being a mother, this was it.  A fellow mommy in my class was in tears by the end of class, and my eyes burned as I fought back tears a few times too.  Let me tell you how it started.
We recently began a Bible study called The Gospel Project.  The first part of the curriculum is about the ways in which God communicates.  Last week we talked about how God audibly spoke to some in the Old Testament (can you imagine God audibly speaking to you?!), and how he speaks more subtly through answered prayers, his Word - the Bible, strangers, friends and family, and even something like the radio.  Our God is a speaking God.  Isn't that wonderful?!
This Sunday we discussed how God speaks through creation.  There were so many neat things the study guide and our Sunday School leader had to say, but what made the subject so intense was one verse in Romans:  "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (vs. 20)."  Let's break it down.
God's invisible qualities have been revealed and seen from the beginning.  And the Bible says they have been "understood," which means (as defined on people have regarded it as fully communicated, have clearly apprehended the character, nature, and subtleties of God, and have grasped the significance, implications, and importance of God.  "From what has been made" means what God has made, which is everything, as described in Genesis 1 & 2.  Therefore, "people are without excuse".  Wow.  That's where it gets tough.
Our leader, simply reading from the Bible, had every question and raw emotion in that room thrown at him.  I have never heard so much discussion in class!  People were on the defense!  A lot of the class felt it was unfair for those people who have never heard about Jesus to automatically go to Hell.  A lot of the class was concerned about those people who might not have the mental capacity to understand the gosel.  And many of us wanted to know what that meant for children, infants, and unborn babies.
But I think many of them missed a vital point.  As I sat in class listening to the questions and defenses from others, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmingly convicted.  My heart was unbelievably heavy.  We believers from the beginning of time to now, have dropped the ball.  We have not spread God's Word like we are supposed to.  It is a sad fact that some people may not be saved because we didn't spread the gospel.  Romans 1:18 tells us that men "suppress the truth" because of their sins.  My heart hurts for the people who have not known and will not know Jesus on this earth.  I pray Jesus will reveal himself to them when they die and that they will get the chance to choose Him.
Even more than the conviction I felt about spreading the gospel to others, I knew that I was not doing good enough in my own home.  My children are young, buy they understand so much more than I give them credit.  I love my babies so much and I can't imagine the possibility of them spending an eternity away from Jesus.  It is my honor and responsibility to teach them about Jesus and His sacrifice for us.  I don't know when they will fully understand the ramifications of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins or when they'll be able to truly accept Him as their Savior, but I do know I want to do everything in my power to help them get there. 
That responsibility weighs heavily on me and I definitely have a fear of failure.  As moms, we sometimes experience "mommy guilt" and worry about messing up our kids.  But failing in this way means eternal death for our children.  It makes me physically sick to think about that.  I pray I can be an example of Christ's love.  I pray I can be an example of strong faith and a heart on fire for God.  I pray I can teach them about Jesus in a way that they will understand that they are sinners, Jesus died for their sins, and they must accept Him as their Savior to have eternal life with Him in heaven.  I pray that they never reject Jesus.  I pray for God's guidance.  And I thank Him for His amazing grace!