Friday, September 30, 2011

These days

These days have been SO full! K has been SO busy in kindergarten, she comes home exhausted!  She always requires a little down time, but is ready to be busy with her very busy little brothers within a half an hour!

D has wanted to do structured activities all day long also, so I've been doing a lot more "lesson planning" at home (which I love!)  So this week, we made Goop!

 Can I eat this?

Just a box of cornstarch, mixed with some water, and it made THE coolest sensory goop I have ever seen!  The kids were busy playing for almost 2 hours, NO fighting!  We played this many times this week.

And yes, it made a huge mess. totally worth it.

It's been so much fun lately, that being at home with the kids has seemed like such a huge blessing.  I know, I know, it should always be a blessing, but there are days that it feels strangely burdensome!  But these days... life is easier.  Warmer. More fun. Filled with love and learning.

There was a long stage we went through where I really didn't believe that my kids would grow up.  It sounds silly, but after years, 5 YEARS, of changing diapers, wiping noses, cleaning up endless messes, rocking crying babies, waking up every 3 hours at night.... I just could not foresee an end.  The messes are still there, the crying still happens, and occasionally we still wake up every 3 hours, and yes, I am still changing diapers and wiping noses.  But now, over night it seems.... they're not my babies.  They're my kids.  And I LOVE this stage.

It got me thinking about God of course.  How he waits and waits on us to grow up.  His patience never ends. He promises us so many things when we grow in Him, but we resist, drag our heals, we don't want to change.  But when we do, the blessings are just waiting for us, blessings that we could never foresee.  Blessings that we maybe don't even really believe are there.

  I think my thoughts of eternity parallel my feelings towards my kids growing up.  I know it's there, at the end, waiting for me, but there are days that I don't REALLY believe it. I don't live like I believe it.  My patience wears thin of the endless burdens, exhaustion, list of demands.  But it's there.  And I do believe that it will be even better than goop.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


My best of friends, v, is going through a bit of a rough patch right now.  Her and I both bounce back and forth between joy & exhaustion, and it seems like God always gives one of us the "right" perspective at the other's down moments.  It's one of God's greatest gifts to me, to have a friend who understands being up, and being down, and who knows the One who is greater than my feelings.

Yesterday, she came to me feeling a way that I have felt a million times before, and I think most moms feel a million times.  Adequacy.  Or lack there of.  How many times do we go through the motions, and feel like we aren't measuring up?  You unpacked the dishwasher (three times today) swept the floor (it still looks dirty) made three meals (and somehow half of it ended up on your shirt...) but the kids wouldn't eat it.  You ended up raising your voice and losing your temper, and now your husband's on his way home, and frankly, you think this could be all his fault, but aren't really sure how yet.  Don't worry, you'll think of a list of reasons while he's driving.

Our longing for perfection is deeply ingrained in us. And we all fall short. Every day.

I had the chance to attend an amazingly relaxing womens' retreat this weekend.  The speaker was Jane Rubietta (and most of my thoughts will pertain to her talks she gave from her book, Come Closer... though I have not read it so can't endorse it fully!)

She spoke of the longing we all have for perfection.  We were made for a perfect world,  and despite our attempts, we can't recreate it the way we want to.

When you think of "home" and what you had hoped for.... are you there yet? Are you the mom you thought you'd be? Are you the wife you thought you'd be?  The volunteer you think you should be? The perfect daughter, sister, friend?  Most of us aren't.

Jane concludes that at the root of our longing for perfection is actually a longing to be loved perfectly.  To be loved better by our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends.  But God's response to this desire is surprising.  Because He actually DOES Love us perfectly!  But, He loves us perfectly through imperfect people.

The Thief steals the joy from these moments by planting seeds of doubt, of frustration, of reminding you of the ways that the people in our lives are falling short.  The way that our life doesn't measure up to what we think we "deserved"... and we our emotions get taken for quite the ride. We get indignant, we feel tired, we try to distract ourselves by staying busy.

But there is a way to break the cycle, there's a way to draw closer to the One who can love us perfectly.  First, we have to cling to what we know to be true.  That means a) Knowing God's Word.  and b) Reminding ourselves of what we know about God when we don't feel like it.    Here is my go to list:  He is Creator.  He is All Mighty.  He is All Powerful.   He is Good.  He is a Potter, and I am His clay.  He wants good for me. His ways are better than mine.

Second, We have to create room for God to work.  This means taking a breather.  Giving yourself a moment to think, to reflect, to pray.  It means letting God do what He wants to do by not trying to overly control every detail in every moment.

Third, We have to Call Out.  We have to call out to our friends, family, our spouse... when we need help, we need people to turn to.  After creating all of the world, calling each and every thing Good, the very next thing God says.... it is not Good ... for man to be alone.  It is not.

Jesus tells us that he came so that we might have life, and have it in abundance.  Living life feeling like we are failing is no way to live life abundantly.  We can't experience God's peace and joy that He desperately wants for us if we are constantly feeling like we are Failures.

To continually draw on God's strength, His love, His grace... it leaves little room for feeling desperate, exhausted, joyless.

So who's voice is it that you hear when you feel like you are not enough?  Not a good enough wife, not a good enough mother, not a good enough house keeper, home maker, food preparer....not a good enough music leader, not a better teacher....  Is it a parent? a spouse? a friend? a teacher?  Maybe it's just your own voice, your own expectations that you can't live up to.

But God has told me who I am.  He has told you who You are.  We are His. We are loved. We are created in His very own image.  He wants what is good for you.  You are wonderfully and fearfully made (Psalm 139) You are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17) You are his treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7)

Who are you going to choose to believe?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meals, Projects, Fun week

We are in full swing of school and activities!

Expect no deep thoughts here, I have been literally too busy to over think anything, which sometimes can be a good thing!

In an effort to keep my kids eating healthy, I have been trying out lots of new fun meals.  Here are some of my hits and misses:  feel free to email me for any of the recipes, which I keep on hand!
* Carrot Muffins (YUM!)  Huge hit.  We shredded carrots together in our food processor, which the kids thought was very fun.
* Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies.  Hit!  I posted the recipe on facebook, and my kids ate them all up the first day.  I meant to freeze some for future lunches.... ah well.
* Raisin, Feta, Spinach Pizza.  Miss.  Except for me, I loved it!  I sauteed garlic and spinach, added the feta and soaked raisins onto yummy thick bread and baked it.  Kids thought it was disgusting.
* Fresh Apple Cake. Made with whole wheat flour, no oil, not much sugar. Delicious!  Kids loved it with some whipped cream on top.
* Honey Soy Sauce Pork Chops.  LOVE! You soak the pork chops overnight in honey and soy sauce (obviously)  and then bake it for about 30 minutes.  So good and healthy.  D ate an entire pork chop.

We've also been busy with the beginning of preschool, and K getting used to the routine of kindergarten.  Despite fears, K loves school.  She seems to be following the rules well, and the routine is really great for her. She is even playing with friends on the playground :)

D also loves school!  He had so much fun on his first day, he asked me to sign him up for every day preschool (not going to happen!)  But we did agree to sign him up for Awanas, on Wednesday nights, and he started Sunday School, which he also loves.  AND swimming lessons on Monday mornings. He is becoming such a social little butterfly!  He asked me today if we could do lessons every day (what kind of lessons, I asked?  Oh, any kind, he said)

C is very happy with how things are going also.  He does not have to attend preschool, he gets to stay with Aunt Aud on preschool mornings, and stay home with mama for the rest of the time.  He is much more of a homebody than D (for now)

We also had a fun family day on Saturday.  No plans, no obligations, just family time.  Love it when we have unexpected days like that.  We spent our day at the beach.  We swam, we hiked through the woods (that was an .... adventure...)  We fished.  Gibbs even caught a little sunny for the kids to hold and torture a little bit.... don't worry we released it mostly unharmed and alive.

We also had lots of fun creating our new "Me" Dolls.  D's is for preschool and K just wanted in on the fun because well.. it was just so much fun!

The kids did absolutely everything themselves, except for the lines for the shirts and pants.  I was so proud of them for their fun creativity in choosing things to use, and decorating so nicely!

Things are going so well.  So well, I just keep reminding myself how much I have to be thankful for. I know inevitably things will cycle around, like life tends to do, and I'm praying that God uses this "up" time to sustain the other less than up times :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

An on-the-go Teaching opportunity

Tomorrow is D's first day of preschool! He is growing up so quickly.  Today, as a special treat, I took him to the local variety store in town and told him he could choose whichever back pack he wanted. We both were having so much fun. He had his own little cart to push around, he "tried on" several back packs (to see if they fit right) and finally chose the perfect one.

Iron Man won out over Cars and Transformers! On our way to the cash register, I was watching him drive his little cart and thought to myself "he is such a good boy... I should take him to a special lunch after this."  As I thought this, he passed by a wooden train set.

d: "I want this!!"
me: "no, put it back, we're just buying the back pack"

We get up to the counter, and he sees a flashlight.
d:  "Please mom, I REALLY need this flashlight."
Now, the flashlight was only 2 dollars, but as a matter of principle, I felt it necessary to say no. He can't get everything he wants, though he is probably more used to hearing yes than no....
With people milling about the store, in a small town, of course we had some friends in the store, and probably will run into the cashier twenty times this year.... D begins to have a meltdown, crying, begging for the flashlight.  He promises to pay me back (hah!) He says he'll put the back pack away so he can buy this flashlight.

I REALLY wanted to give in. I was embarrassed. We were already standing at the counter with a back pack, with my credit card, with my camera memory card full of pictures of him trying on the back packs. The cashier was watching us, my friend with her four *well behaved* children were in the next aisle, and here my 3 year old son is, complaining that I'm not buying him enough presents!

Instead, in someone else's calm voice, I told him we weren't getting anything. Now, he had to put the back pack away, put the flash light away, and we were leaving the store.

I sound cliche, but this experience was harder on me than it was on D. Sure, he cried, was sad the whole ride home, but I was so mad that I could feel sweat beads breaking out on my forehead! I was humiliated in the store, and I REALLY wanted him to buy the back pack! He needs one for school tomorrow, and it was on sale!

When we got home, D had calmed down and wanted to talk it over, which we did.  He apologized to me, and said he wasn't being nice to complain about his surprise.

I see what a blessing the breakdown really was now.  How many opportunities do we have to really teach our children about gratefulness, thankfulness, being appreciative?

We are so blessed in my home.  We have all of the comforts and luxuries that being a middle class family in America affords. We have ample toys, food, clothing, educational opportunities that we all take for granted daily... but for my boy, today, he is one step closer to the man I hope to raise up.