Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hemming Me In

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. Nor is just being a woman who follows Jesus.

My life has been given it’s fair shake of ups and downs, bringing out my best and my worst.

I’ve known full well my areas of struggle, those spots tender to the enemy’s prodding. And it seems over time that slimy snake has figured them out as well. I’d blame the enemy or my children or my circumstances but I know right where the responsibility lies.

Like I tell my daughters daily, your mommy is a sinner. You are a sinner. Your daddy is a sinner. Everyone is a sinner. I realized the other day that I needed a change of definition when she posed that Nana and Papa couldn’t possibly be sinners because they don’t yell. And we began again, deconstructing sin.

We need to see our sin if we are ever to grasp the overwhelming grace from Jesus death.

That’s my area of struggle. Keeping my tea pot of a temper from screeching to a boil.

I’ve been a mother now for the past 3.5 years give or take. I assure you, there has never in my life been a period of time so sanctifying. The years of hemming me in.

There was a time in my life when I thought I had gotten my tea pot under control. And I guess I did for awhile. Until everything in my control was really not in my control. Nothing in motherhood is truly under my control. Well maybe the choice of lunch is. Or  whether or not my Bible opens.

But these littlest ones, the ones the Lord created for me to mother. ME to mother. He knows me better than I know myself and He still ordained for me to mother. These little ones cannot be controlled. Meaning they will not always do just what I want when I want them to for my comfort and my convenience.

That’s not really the meaning or intent of motherhood anyways.

They make my desire for order and cleanliness and introverted freedom a chaotic and beautiful mess. 

They boil the water in my tea pot.

Thank God they boil the water.

Thank God they hem me in.

Brings tears to my eyes that He loves me so much to give me these girls and for them to sanctify me deeply. For me to wear my heart on my sleeve. There’s no hiding from God. And there’s certainly no hiding from these little ones. They know who I am.

I’m not sure when I’ll get this water to just simmer and not boil over. Or even for the water to remain still. Never probably.

But there’s today, and the next minute. The next hour. The next part to pray.

Pray that God will help me keep my water below the boiling point. That He calm my heart. That 
these girls will obey their momma with the intent of obeying God.

Slowly but surely, because He said he would, God’s hemming me, in all the right ways.  A nip and a tuck and a gather. He’s bringing up the grime and removing the grit. Cutting it off.

Growing me closer to His image.

And as my daughter reminds me, because I remind her, every day is a new day.

New mercies are ours come the rise of a new dawn.

That’s true balm for a mothers heart and soul.

New mercies.

Sweet momma, girl, woman, daughter…God’s hemming us in to make us more like Himself.

He’s trimming the yuck for holiness.

Reminding myself to cling to new mercies. New chances.

Our days are filled with them.


Thanks be to God!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

2.75 Years and 4 Months

It’s high time for an update. I’m still in denial that in 4 short little months Elizabeth will turn 3. In the past 4 months since Meghan was born she has gone from toddler to full fledged little girl and it’s been a joy to watch. And then there’s Meghan…already 4 months going on 5 and we are watching her grow, mature, and learn new things every day. Before we know it September will be here and she’ll be one!

Elizabeth at 2.75 years:

34.5 pounds, 39 inches tall, solid size 4 in clothing & size 9 or 10 in shoes, potty trained

Elizabeth, you are a joy to parent. Even when you are at your worst. You have an incredible memory probably due to the fact that you are very observant. You take in all aspects of the world around you. You love to be outside riding your bike and just enjoying God’s creation. You wish we could go to the playground every day! You LOVE to do art projects and create things and you are always singing. Your appreciation for music makes my heart soar and you sing, play instruments and we often hear you singing wherever we go. The addition of family dance parties at night have made your heart burst. with joy This year you go to Super Bible Club for MOPS twice a month and to BSF “church school” every week. You love to play with the kids there and always come home having learned something new. Next year you will be in 2 day preschool every week and I know you will enjoy the structure and open ended play.

You have so many of your daddy’s traits it’s almost uncanny. You try just about any food and love most of daddy’s favorites: olives, pickles, scrambled eggs, raw vegetables, sour things like lemons and limes, and candy. Other favorites include chipotle, guacamole, any rice dish, tacos/fajitas, colby jack cheese and sandwiches from Jimmy John’s and Potbelly. You are also an avid fan of milk, shakes, apple juice, and sparkly water (la Croix).

You are a great sleeper for the most part although you have managed to figure out how to extend bedtime! You sleep from about 7:30pm-7:00 am and take a two hour nap every day. You are a very good helper and want to be in on the action no matter what we are doing. Your favorites include cracking eggs, spreading things on bread, helping bake, and washing your own hair in the bath tub.

You are confident, have become far more sociable, and have a sensitive heart when it comes to others. You can share pretty well and hold your own when others are bothering you. While you can test the limits we’ve found it’s more for attention or to really see what happens. And my oh my, you say the funniest things. And lastly, you LOVE your sister. You run with gladness when she wakes up and you are always asking where she is if she’s not with you. I can only pray that the two of you continue to have a close relationship!

 

Meghan at 4 Months

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14 pounds, 24 inches, size 3-6m clothing, size 2 diapers

Oh Meghan…I’m so glad you joined our family even though it’s far more chaotic and a good nights’ sleep has evaporated before our eyes. When I first found out I was pregnant I’ll admit I had my apprehensions but now at 4 months we’re through some of the hardest days and I couldn’t imagine our family without you.

While you are somewhat of a textbook baby, you have definitely had your moments of frustration. For awhile we thought it was colic/reflux/dairy, who knows, but after your frenectomy you are almost a new baby. You still have your moments but they are definitely fewer and farther between.

You, like your sister, love to be around other people. For instance yesterday we headed out with friends and you didn’t nap at all but then came home and slept for 3 hours. I’ll take it. While we’ve tried to get you in more of a routine you do tend to be pretty flexible when it comes to changes. You are at the end of a wonder week so sleep has been erratic and you’ve been waking more but mommy remembers this from Elizabeth so it didn’t throw me so much. We’re just riding it out and hoping more sleep in on the horizon.

You can roll from front to back and are on the verge of figuring out the opposite. You can wiggle your way across the floor…somehow. We haven’t quite figured out how you get where you do but you are always moving. You can lift your head really high and move toys back and forth between your hands. You love to jump in the doorway jumper even though you are a bit too small still.  You coo and talk and shriek all day long and love it when Elizabeth interacts with you and gives you snuggles. You are such a peanut and we love to cuddle you so much!

As far as eating…well that definitely has improved. The fix of your lip/tongue tie has definitely made eating easier and has made you happier as you are taking in less air. As far as bottles, you are still incredibly resistant which is killing me. You take a pacifier gladly so I haven’t quite figured it out. For now we will roll with it but we will definitely keep trying. I’m not sure you will ever take one because you definitely are more of a comfort nurser than your sister ever was. And that’s okay since you are our last…

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On the mommy front

Things are going well for the most part. I’m slowing down, trying to enjoy the little ones in front of me, and trying not to wish these days in the trenches away. Definitely grateful for new mercies every morning as I need them. And I’ve been finding ways to catch up on sleep and get in the me time that my introverted spirit needs. I’m just so grateful for these girls. When I think of the days ahead and our family, my heart just bubbles over at how good God was to give us these gifts to hopefully accompany us through the future.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

In Search of Mommy

I've been doing quite a bit of thinking these past couple of months. Watching myself for signs of postpartum, taking note of where I'm at and most of all trying to communicate well just what I need.

I have a bit of a give too much personality and then get super frustrated that no one is taking care of me. If I'm honest, it's just a sign that I need to start taking a bit more care of me.

I really do adore motherhood, even the not so fun parts, but after Meghan arrived I realized just how sacrificial motherhood can be. And while I'm all for sacrificing, I'm also all for making sure the sacrificer is well tuned as well. Life with two little ones caught me off guard a bit. I lost a bit of my mobility during the day, I get out less because Meghan won't take a bottle, and as an introvert there's just less time, less quiet, and fewer opportunities to recharge. It seems just as one falls asleep the other wakes and my daily temptation is to whine, stomp my feet and bang my head on the wall because I just need a bit of breathing room.

Alex often is the one to speak truth to me. The outsider who can see just what needs to be done. He's never failed to offer up any option to make the hard days easier. He's open to just about anything...going back to work, putting the kids in daycare/preschool, cleaning service, babysitters, you name it. Because most of all he wants a fulfilled and less stressed wife. Happy would also be a bonus.

Last month he told me flat out to stop martyring myself. But that's what we good mothers often believe. That we have to give and sacrifice, and put everyone first before ourselves. But I'm still not quite certain that's true or really even good for anyone.

So while I know I'm in the trenches with our youngest still under one, but we've been planning and putting into place some things to help make life better for all of us.

Meghan under went a frenectomy the other day for a very significant tongue and lip tie in hopes that nursing and taking a bottle may get easier. After 24 hours things are markedly better. Elizabeth is signed up for two morning preschool for the fall. Right now she's in childcare for MOPs and BSF so it won't be any more time really for her and the bonus will be that she will have more consistency. I'm still debating what I will do but I may just find joy in having 2 mornings alone with a napping Meghan to spend taking care of our house and myself. We enlisted the help of a cleaning service once a month to help keep tackle the deep clean items. And I've been trying to pull back and really focus on my New Years goals which really have made things better.

Even just our short night out last night as a couple to enjoy some good food and jazz helped me de-stress. And I've finally come to realize that putting myself and my marriage at the forefront really is better for all of us. 

So I'm curious how do you take care of yourself?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Giveaway winner

On this super cold morning, picking a winner for the giveaway was a treat. Winning comment was #6, belonging to…

Crystal Bowers!

 

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

6

Monday, January 5, 2015

Resolutions for the New Year

 

*Last day to enter to win the movie “The Promise”…enter here!”

discipline & intentionality

Today we spent the morning putting away Christmas and getting things back in order. The New Year always reminds me of the third trimester of pregnancy. Nesting instinct goes crazy trying to purge and organize. With all the chaos and mess and fun and joy of Christmas, the New Year always makes me want to put things back into order.

I’ve spent the past few weeks reflecting a bit on 2014…the year we started thinking we’d always be a family of three and ended as a family of four. The year of my last positive pregnancy test, my last pregnancy, giving birth to my last baby, the last newborn snuggles. So much joy intermixed with so much sanctification. There’s nothing like having a baby to show you who you really are. I remember so many years ago it seems praying as we waited that God would grove our family because we needed more sanctification. Truly I did. And we’re in it. Being more sanctified than ever as we face our full out selfishness. And now 2015 is beginning.

I’m not one to make resolutions because I know they won’t fully be fulfilled. Instead I just make note of some areas I’d like to improve on and leave it at that. On top of that for the past couple of years I have chosen a word to guide my year. In 2013 it was grace. 2014 was prudence. And 2015 is DISCIPLINE.

Since 2013 I can truly say that I have grown in the areas of grace and prudence. Maybe not enough for others to notice but enough to impact our little family and our home. And for 2015 I hope to grow in discipline. Particularly in reference to our home, to my mothering, and in being present. I’ve found this past year that there are so many times I just want to hide away. The first 6-12 months of having a baby are SO hard for me. Give me all your 2-4 year olds and I will happily enjoy them. But this two kid thing…it’s been a sanctifying and soul stretching endeavor. The lyrics “I need thee every hour…” have been sung in this house more than ever lately. I realized slowing down when I want to speed up and finish something already is just what the doctor ordered. My get out of the house and push through has been replaced with stay home and push through. I’ve had to reorder a few things, reconfigure normal, and to be honest, it’s been hard for me.

So in 2015 I’m striving for discipline and intentionality. Sometimes I find that I’m too spread out…too many things I want to learn about, grow in, and conquer that instead of finishing anything, they all get done half-heartedly. So I’ve narrowed the focus, honing in on what I really want to accomplish, and will be praying to that end. That the Lord will grow me in discipline and intentionality for His glory and for the good of my family and my home.

So here are some of the improvement areas I’m focusing in on:

The Girls

-memorizing verses with Elizabeth

-reading her Bible with her and praying with her

-creating a more structured learning/art time by planning in advance

-starting some chores around the house (with a chore chart)

-continuing to be flexible when it comes to Meghan and her “schedule” – something that is so different the second time (for the better)

-Get outside this winter every day that it is 30 degrees or above.

Our House

-get back into having a better cleaning schedule

-continue with my monthly meal planning

-have some restraint with purchases and be more discerning about what comes in

ME

-prioritize time in the word and finishing my BSF study. I have plenty of time to finish this but I happen to be the queen of procrastination and super good at finishing under pressure. Instead I’d rather find the time daily to do each day so that I can actually enjoy studying instead of rushing through it. My mentor is holding me accountable for this one and because I know what my days look like, I’m not giving myself the excuse that two small children make it difficult.

-get off my phone. I’ve decided phones are the stay at home moms way to zone out/catch a break. Enough said.

-start using my sewing machine again, read more, and learn about oils/use oils on a more regular basis

Family

-continue with once a month kid fun days

-dates with Elizabeth

-movie nights

-be intentional

-serve together. we are thinking of doing meals on wheels as a family and trying to participate as we can in the Big Serve opportunities at our church.

Marriage

-we used to go out and then we had another baby. go out more together and plan intentional time to spend together at home post-bedtime.

-pray together more often (a goal of both of ours)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Christmas Recap & A GIVEAWAY!!

Another Christmas has come and gone and it seems like everything else lately it went by so quickly. In my mind it feels as though we just set up the tree, hung the advent calendar and began talking about the precious gift of the baby Jesus.

2014-12-07 16.00.00

We started out the season by putting up our Christmas tree a bit early this year, on my birthday in November. It was so much fun as Elizabeth was finally old enough to participate and get excited. With our house decorated we began advent with Advent gifts (new Christmas pajamas and a new book to add to our collection.) I also wrapped all of our Christmas books thinking we would unwrap one each day but that only lasted a week tops. Someone in the house was too excited and couldn’t quite comprehend the “one a day” reality. In truth, it was nice to have them all open! Though we have a good collection of our own I followed Jenny Rigney’s advice and checked out quite a few from the library in advance.

2014-12-07 15.57.26

I love that we are starting our own family traditions…things to look forward to as a family. We didn’t do something everyday and I definitely didn’t plan themed activities. We’re still working on getting this two kid thing down. But we did do some. We did the Advent Box, worked through our felt advent calendar, lit advent candles, read Christmas books, had movie nights every Friday night through Advent (more on this in a bit), celebrated the life of St. Nicholas, made Christmas cookies, read through Ann Voscamp’s Advent book (which I’m sad to say I didn’t really enjoy), and had a few fun friend outings.

2014-12-23 23.30.33

This year we spent Christmas in Minnesota and it was our first Christmas Eve at our new church. They have a time during the service when they invite all the kids up front…which is a LOT of kids and I took Elizabeth down. I wish we had it on tape but after she sat for a few minutes she proceeded to take a tour of the stage, weaving through all the kids. There were so many people so I wasn’t able to grab her but she eventually made her way back. It was so stinking cute!

2014-12-23 23.50.22

While all the traditions are fun, I loved how this year Elizabeth really caught on to the meaning of Christmas. She knew who it was about and what happened. Throughout Advent we spent each Friday night watching a Christmas themed movie. We started with Veggietales Legend of St. Nicholas on the eve of St. Nicholas day. We also enjoyed A Charlie Brown Christmas, Winnie the Pooh Christmas, and two Nativity themed movies. In years past Alex and I have watched The Nativity on Christmas Eve so I was on the hunt this year for a good nativity film aimed at kids. We were blessed to receive two to review on the blog from a friend. I actually bought one of them before we were given the ones to review so I have one to give away to one of you!!

The two nativity films we viewed were The Promise and Greatest Heroes and Legends Nativity.

Here’s my review of The Promise:

This came recommended from a dear friend whom I highly respect and it did not disappoint. Elizabeth is only 2.5 so she had a bit of a hard time sitting still for the movie which could have been due to plenty of different things. It should be noted unless she’s watching Super Why, it’s difficult for her to sit through any movie. But this movie, from a mom and dad perspective ,was pretty accurate, very entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. It feels a bit like a Pixar film in terms of animation and most of the movie is done in song, similar to Disney. The film follows the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus pretty accurately and starts by showing the oppression of the Israelites by the Romans. It then portrays the budding love story of Mary and Joseph which is so touching. One thing I really appreciated about the film was tender way it portrayed the family relationships. It was very endearing. Everything was really well done and it was hard to remember that we were watching a “Christian” film if you know what I mean:)

One of the reasons I think it failed to hold Elizabeth’s attention is due to the fact that most of the movie is done in song. But I can tell you that next year she’ll probably be all over that and will be catching on to all the songs. It was such a well-made film that I’m glad to have it in our film collection and will be delighted to pull it out year after year on Christmas Eve as a new tradition.

And as far as the Greatest Heroes and Legends Nativity:

Well that one surprisingly kept the attention of our 2.5 year old while not quite capturing the attention of dad. Alex watched this one with her one afternoon and so I’m taking his opinions for the review. The story was somewhat accurate, the nativity included the visit from the Wise men which really didn’t happen until some years later. Also this was more your average “Christian” movie. The animation was far more dated and choppy, the songs and commentary were a bit distracting to adults but Elizabeth didn’t seem to mind them, and there is a longer commentary in the beginning by Charlton Heston which we forwarded through. Overall this was also a great option for viewing the Nativity story and is by no means a bad choice for Christmas. It is fairly accurate, held the attention of our daughter, and told the story of Jesus’ birth which when it comes down to it, is all we were looking for.

So there you have it – two new movies you can try out next year during the Advent season or on Christmas Eve like we do at our house! We really enjoyed The Promise and we’d love for your family to enjoy it next year as well.

TO ENTER: Leave a comment with your favorite Christmas Tradition!

giveaway ends 1/5/15

*This film was bought by me for the giveaway. I did receive two movies from Fish Flix for the review*

 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

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2014

the year of small but significant moments as a family

our days were spent shaking our heads in amazement that our family was expanding, cuddling our second daughter Meghan Joy (9/25/14), dancing to the music at the farmer’s market on Saturdays, eating the best bismarks from Sunrise Donuts, enjoying lazy days at the pool, celebrating Elizabeth’s 2nd birthday, building sand castles at the beach, stomping our boots through the rain and the snow, washing mud covered hands from overhauling our yard, wearing ear muffs at mealtimes as Alex renovated our kitchen, teaching Bible verses and singing Jesus Loves You, rocking babies to sleep, reading story upon story, celebrating 8 years of marriage relaxing with friends and family, climbing all over the playground, walking around the block picking up leaves, wiping tears and issuing discipline, being sanctified, playing multiple rounds of golf, laughing with girlfriends, wondering what on earth we were doing…the list could go on.

because for us these little moments throughout our days were creating the life we always longed for…

the life as a family.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

{if you received our card, please excuse the spelling error. the first set of cards had a spelling error and the second set had no errors but was too wide for the card. I’m obviously sleep deprived!}