Thursday, November 29, 2012

Letters to my Kids Day 1/1000 Gifts

To my youngest...
In just a few weeks you will turn one.   I remember this time last year.  I was so ready to hold you, so sure you would be here any day since your brother had been early and I was having early contractions.  The anticipation was incredible...and we spent most of December sure that you would come any day.  
And then you were induced.  :)  You came home on Christmas Eve.  You were the best Christmas gift I could ever imagine (except for Jesus).  
Your pregnancy was stressful...there were several complications that concerned us along the way.  Someday I will tell you more about them.  Daddy and I just wanted you in our arms, to be able to whisper how much we loved you.  To know that you were healthy.
And then you were here.  And you were healthy.  And you were perfect.  And you are perfect.  Perfectly you.  And I am in awe of the awesomeness of God.
I look at you today, learning to hold your own with your big brother.  You love to take his toys and then crawl as fast as you can away from him.  You are so playful, always wanting to get a smile from someone.  And you give your smiles so freely.  You adore your big sister, breaking into a smile the moment she walks in the room.  Your Daddy holds your heart.  As soon as he gets home, he has to hold you or you are very angry.  And you love your Mama too.  You recently learned to give pats and kisses...and oh buddy, you can melt my heart with those.
My sweet Cole baby (how long can I call you that?), I was in love with you the moment I knew you were going to be.  I will love you for always.  And I will always thank God for the miracle of you.  
Love, Mama

1000 Gifts
192.  My sweet Cole baby, who will not be a baby much longer.
193.  Clean sheets.
194.  A washing machine.  The stomach flu has been going through this house.  Let's just say the washing machine has been used a lot lately.  A lot.
195.  Unexpected lunch date with a friend!
196.  Letting T pick out a new snowman for our collection yesterday and seeing his excitement over showing his sister and Daddy "Frosty".
197.  On days I feel like nothing is working out the way I planned it to be, I'm reminded "The Truth is that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me.  What a freedom...there is time for me to do everything that is on God's "to do" list for my day, for my week, and for my life!"  (Thanks Nancy Leigh Demoss)
198.  For my E, who laughs in the chaos with me.  He is my best friend and my greatest earthly love.
199.  For my dad, who checks on us every day with a text.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1000 Gifts...a Thanksgiving version

168.  Thanksgiving...a time of reflecting on all that God has given to us.
169.  Enjoying time with family.
170.  My mom...she works so hard to make Thanksgiving awesome.
171.  Bonding time with my mom and sis in law while Black Friday shopping!  One lady told my SIL and I..."You guys are family AND good friends?  You are so lucky!"  Yes, we sure are.  My sis in law and my mama are two of my closest friends.  Who could ask for more?
172.  Finding some good deals!
173.  An unexpected day off for Em from school while family was here!

174.  Snuggles with my little sis
175.  A boy who loves to ride the tractor with his Papa!  

176.  And a girl who does too!  (Wish I had a pic of this!)
177.  A full, crowded house.  Yes, it's packed to the brim and loud and sometimes crazy...and we love it!
178.  Fire in fireplace, family all around, good food, and football on tv!
179.  Running with my dad on Thanksgiving morning.  He is one of my best friends too.
180.  Celebrating my brother and my mom's birthdays.  
181.  Big gathering for E's side of the family...seeing lots of family we don't get to see as often...
182.  And good times with family we DO get to see often.
183.  That we have plenty to eat and a warm house.  
184.   Remembering this time last year...C's pregnancy had its scares.  I was so anxious to get him here and hold him.  So thankful that he is here and healthy and for the blessing he is to our family.  He's such a sweet, happy baby.
185.  For my parents and E's parents who love and dote on their grandkids...
186.  And their kids!
187.  Great cousin times.  
188.  Tate's excitement over EVERYTHING "Kissmas". 
189.  Everyone pitching in to cook and clean.
190.  SNOW!
191.  "Kissmas moosic pease pease?"  I hear this many times a day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving thanks

"I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun. Not because I can see it, but by it I can see everything else."
C. S. Lewis

  I've been thinking about this quote a lot this week, as I prepared for Thanksgiving and went about my daily routine.  As you know, I've been participating in the Joy Dare.  I've been quite literally counting my blessings.  
  In doing so, in seeking the lovely in the daily routine and the blessings in the chaos, I've drawn closer to God.  I am learning that when I look through at the world in a way that I am seeing the blessings, in a way I think God looks at it, then my faith is strengthened.  
1st Thessalonians tells us:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Paul knew that the secret to living a life that MATTERS, a life that GLORIFIES, a life that POINTS TO JESUS is in the thanksgiving.  

What if...we kept counting our blessings, long after Thanksgiving and after we reached 1000?  What if...we got caught up in what we have instead of what we don't?
What if...we learned to thank God through the hard times, even when the only thing we can think to say thank you for is Jesus?
What if...we knew that Jesus was enough?  That even if every worldly pleasure was gone, that He would be enough?

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  May you have many gifts to count.  


Thursday, November 15, 2012


This morning while I was loading the kids in the car, shivering and wishing for my hot cup of coffee that I didn't have time to grab in my rush, my daughter prayed, "Thank You God, for the cold and for the frost.  The frost is so pretty."  When I stopped to look around and got past my selfish thinking, that frost really was beautiful!  And with the cold weather comes some of my favorite times of the year.

Sometimes it takes our kids to remind us of the blessings all around us.

200.  For colder weather...anticipating the holidays!
201.  My sweet babe who just wants to snuggle right now
202.  For my daughter's teachers and the love they show
203.  For that look E and I share when our kids do something crazy or cute or funny...the look of parents who are thankful for their kids.  Knowing that we share that pride.
204.  For a warm house!
205.  For being able to be home with my children and take Emma to school and pick her up each day.
206.  For a husband who holds down the fort in the evenings so I can Zumba and teach flute.
207.  For the Bible...a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
208.  For learning to be courageous
What can you thank God for right now?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are you listening?

"Mom, are you listening?"  I hear my six year old ask as I am trying to get the two year old to sit on the potty and wrestling my ten month old at the same time.  No, I am not listening.  Most of the time I have heard her, but I am not truly listening.  No one likes to talk to someone that isn't listening.
I teach my children what I have learned in school that active listening involves your eyes, ears, hands (still and not a distraction), and your heart.  But how often do I give them that?
My husband is a great listener.  I know when I talk, he is really paying attention to what I say.  It's one of the things I love most about him.  It frustrates me too, because he is not always a great responder in my eyes.  Many times I don't think he is listening because he doesn't respond the way I would, but I have learned over the years...most of the time, it's because he is still listening and digesting what I have said.  Then he puts a lot of thought into how he will respond.
How many times in our "listening" are we really just thinking about what we are going to say next?  That's not really listening.  I get very nervous in empty silence...but lots of times silence just means people are focused on others and not on themselves.
Proverbs 18:2 says "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions."  Later in Proverbs 18:13, "He who answers before listening-that is his folly and shame."

We read this in our Bible Study a few weeks ago...words of truth..."A wise parent talks when the kids are in the mood.  Every so often, they will ask a question, make a comment, reveal some little aspect of their heart. In those times, when their conscience is stirred, you need to talk.  This may require dropping everything else to seize a critical moment...You will miss precious opportunities when you only half-listen to your children." (Ted Tripp...Shepherding a Child's Heart)

Oh Lord, I am a fool lots of the time.  Teach me to be a better listener.  To my friends, to my husband, and to my children.  And to You.  Shut my mouth, and open my eyes, ears and heart to the needs and thoughts of those around me.   I don't want to be a half listener anymore...Help me to actively listen!  

Still counting those gifts...
190.  For a husband who really listens.
191.  Time with my sweet girl last night, time to really listen.
192.  For God who really listens and who cares about every detail of our lives.
193.  For the anticipation of seeing our family next week!
194.  For thankful, grateful children.
195.  Getting to visit Emma's school again yesterday and seeing an opera!
196.  For those who serve our country and protect our freedom
197.  And for their families.
198.  Going into a store yesterday with all three kids JUST to look at the Christmas display...
199.  And seeing their complete and utter delight.  Oh the simple joys!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1000 Blessings

181.  Reading many thankful posts during this Thankful season
182.  Getting to eat lunch with my 1st grader yesterday at school
183.  Snuggling with that first grader this morning for a few precious moments.  Miss my one on one with her.
184.  Coffee on cold mornings
185.  A day off for my husband
186.  A good school for my 1st grader with caring teachers
187.  My family...I am so lonesome for them!
188.  Jesus.  My reason to live.
189.  That His mercies are new every morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Two articles you should read!

Two of my cousins have great articles out right now, especially for younger readers.
My cousin Kim writes about sexual purity here.  It is an excellent of my fav things she says is "Short term pleasures are Satan's territory.  Long term joy is God's".

My cousin Holly writes about God using young people and that being young is not an excuse for sinful behavior.  Love her "Say Not That I am a Child".

168.  An impromtu play date at the park...complete with Starbucks for the mamas.  :)
169.  Good visit with my brother in law, sis in law, and nephews.  I love and cherish family.
170.  Church thanksgiving!
171.  My kids SO excited about Operation Christmas Chld
172.  Zumba...sometimes ya just need to burn some major calories!
173.  Much needed date with my hub...the fact that we can have fun together just going to Target
174.  Cinnamon rolls
175.  Unexpected warm days!  No coat needed!
176.  Kids who are thankful

177.  My baby boy saying "Mama"

178.  My baby boy saying "Dada"...that boy loves his daddy
179.  A hard working husband
180.  Healthy children

Monday, November 5, 2012

1000 Blessings

153.  Extra snuggles with my teething baby
154.  Talking to my mama on the phone
155.  A Starbucks date with a good friend
156.  Kids so excited over riding the combine

157.  Good soup on a cold day
158.  Our Sunday School class...watching God grow us as married couples
159.  Relaxing, stay at home weekend
160.  Unexpected short weekend shift for E
161.  Apple pie
162.  Forgiveness
163.  Daylight savings extra hour (even though it wreaks havoc on children's sleep!)
164.  Cold evenings...beautiful skies
165.  My son singing "Me and my mama..." a little diddy he made up.  :)
166.  My kids' prayers before school.  T always seems to work in "Help mama make cookies"
167.  Good friendships between brother and sister

Saturday, November 3, 2012


"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."  Romans 4: 7-8  (said by David)

152.  Thanks be to God for forgiveness of my sins.  

"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins...who could stand?"

Do you ever read Scripture and it's like God is speaking right to you, piercing your heart?  When I read this, I just have to pause and say...Certainly not me, God.  I couldn't stand.  Thank You, Thank You that I don't have to stand without You.  That Your blood paid the price for me.  


Friday, November 2, 2012

1000 Gifts

146.  Movie night
147.  A brave little girl after a skinned knee.
148.  A not quite potty trained two year old making progress
149.  Brother and sister playing board games together
150.  Caramel corn
151.  Laundry almost caught up!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pursuit of the heart

Yesterday I failed as a parent.  Big time.  You know that feeling where you wish you could do it over?  Where you'd do everything different?   Yep, that was where I was at.   The to do list was miles long (it was Halloween after all), we were already running behind, and my girl was dragging her feet in the slowest way.  Instead of trying to get to the heart of what was going on, I went immediately to a consequence.  And it broke her sweet heart.  You see, she was out of line, but if I had stopped to explore why she was out of line, instead of just trying to fix or change the behavior, I would have gotten somewhere.
This is a concept we have talked about in our small group over and over again and seems to be a theme of Christian parenting studies.  The way it's presented is often different, but the idea is the same...
When we parent, we need to seek to change our child's heart toward Christ, not just change the behavior.

This is no easy task.  It's hard to do this in everyday life.  And certainly there are some scenarios that warrant immediate behavior changing action.  But the heart is our goal.

And isn't that how God loves us?  Isn't that the whole faith/works relationship?  We are saved by accepting  Christ, by our heart being His...but if our hearts are His, won't our works and deeds be pleasing to Him?  (As pleasing as humans can be!)  I'm reading Romans right now and at the end of Chapter 2, Paul talks about being a Jew inwardly and circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit.  It's not enough just to do the "right stuff"...God wants our heart.  He wants obedience out of love and devotion.

Thank GOD He seeks our hearts, and not our works because we could never measure up!  And neither can our kids...we can't be surprised when they sin.  They are human after all.  :)  But we have to seek to point their precious hearts to God.  We have to pursue their hearts relentlessly.  

And what I'm finding lately is just how little I let my kids see that I fail too.  I want to have everything together for them, so that they know that I will always take care of them.  But they need to see that their mama needs God's grace just as much as they do.

So after school had already started and I was sitting in the living room with a tear stained little girl who had finally calmed from her complete melt down... after I realized that being late to school was nothing compared to the complete and utter fatigue this little girl was feeling (I sent her back to bed for awhile in between),  I said, "I'm sorry.  I punished you before I talked to you and I didn't know all the facts.  I shouldn't have done that.  I still believe you deserved a consequence, but I also believe that I should have listened."  And she looked at me with her big brown eyes that still had a few tears in them and said four words that melted my heart.  "I forgive you, Mom."

And I'm still counting...but I'm behind. :)
123. A trip to see Meme and Granddad.  Safe travels on the long drive there and back.
124.  Meme and her "cinnamomomom rolls" 
125.  Trick or treating...several times.  So fun to see the kiddos in costumes!
126.  Good talks with E in the car.
127.  A neighbor who spoils my kids
128.  Riding on a pony at the carnival!
129.  Good times shopping with my mama.
130.  A lot of spoiling by Meme and Granddad
131.  God's grace.  That He doesn't give up on me.
132.  Answered prayers for a good friend.
133.  Hot coffee on cold, dark mornings
134.  A trip to the farm/playground...awesome place for kiddos in Kansas
135.  That no matter the results of the election, Jesus is still the One in charge.  :)
136.  For awesome in laws that help us when we can't be in every place we need to at once.
137.  For my husband's funny texts he sends me during the day.  Keeps us both sane.
138.  For E's job.
139.  A little sister who is growing up to be an awesome young lady.  
140.  A week off from teaching.  Love teaching but it's nice to have a week where evenings are free (or at least free-er)
141.  Friends who pray for me.
142.  A family member who is recovering
143.  That croup is gone from this house
144.  A big brother who looks out for his little brother
145.  Coats and warm clothes in the cold

Monday, October 22, 2012

No more Mommy Wars!

Mom.  I think it's my favorite title ever.  I love being called Mom.  And I will say openly, it is absolutely the best job I've ever had, one I believe I was born to do.  But I gotta tell you, this Mom stuff, it's not easy, it's not for the weak or the faint of heart!   It's without a doubt the hardest job I've ever had.
That's why I get so frustrated when I find myself playing the Mommy Wars game.  It starts innocently enough, talking about diapering or staying at home or breast feeding or making your own baby food or whether to let your baby cry it out or homeschooling...and everyone has an opinion, and it's usually different.

I love to hear everyone's opinion, but so quickly it can turn into a "well my way is better than yours".  Here's a secret I've learned:  Everyone thinks their way is best.  That's why they are doing it.  :) Yet sometimes I still find myself wanting to participate in these back and forth discussions that really aren't building anyone up.  They are tearing, tearing down and hurting hearts and there are so many more important things to unite us.  I get that some of these issues are really important, and to be honest, some are very important to me too.  But they aren't worth hurting others over.  

Why can't we as moms build each other up?  Why can't we have friendships and relationships that are real instead of trying to convince others (or ourselves) that our way is the best way?

I believe this is the reason...At the heart of it, we are all insecure about if our way is really best.  We think it probably is.  But motherhood is the most important job we have and we are so invested in it... doubt creeps in. 
And I believe that insecurity, that doubt is what makes us great moms.  

The fact that we question our decisions, that we absolutely want to make the right choice for our kids...that's what makes us great moms.  But when we waste our time comparing and get caught up in why someone else's decision is wrong...that's where we run into trouble. 
We're all trying to raise our kids the very best way we can and that's no easy task. Every child is different and has different needs, just as every Mom is different.  No method is perfect and right for every person.  Except for One.  :)
I couldn't do it without God. I think we all could do it better without Mommy Wars!  Let's surrender!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If onlys...

This morning I was running late to get my daughter to school.  We're talking really late.  Spent too long trying to make the teacher's treats for Teacher Appreciation look better.  E needed money at the last minute for book sale.  T couldn't find his shoes.  C pooped.  Again.
On the way out the door my phone dinged for my appointment reminder for C's doctor's appointment.  "I know, got it!" I thought and then looked at the screen in disbelief.
9:00??  I thought it was 9:15!  The last appointment was for 9:15.  WHY would I have scheduled it for 9???  I can't possibly make that!  
Drove my daughter to school, called doctor's office on the way, pulled in to school only to miss the "not late" status by one minute so she needed to be signed in.  The doctor's office told me if I could get there by 9:10 I could still be seen.  A PTO friend saw me and yelled out, "I'll sign her in!"  Bless her heart.  Emma ran in, and we drove off.  I was due to arrive at 9:10, maybe 9:11...but when I turned on the road I needed, it was closed.  Then my detour was closed, so I had to take the real detour.  C had thrown his socks in the backseat, so when we finally pulled up at 9:16, I ran in with a sockless baby and a two year old who couldn't wait to see the fish.  As I walked in the door, my phone rang.  I saw the nurse on the phone.  She was gracious and sweet, but they couldn't fit us in.  Drove back to the school to drop off my treats quickly...
I walked out the door feeling totally and utterly defeated.
If I was only more organized...
If my house was neater...
If I could bring myself to wake up a little earlier even when C was up in the night, not feeling the best.
If I could just bring myself to be a better house keeper, play with my kids more, have energy left to hang out with my husband, work out and be in great shape, cook awesome meals every night, coupon for all our grocery shopping, do great pinterest projects (seriously, the people on Pinterest...where do they find time to do these things??)...
The list of if onlys overwhelms me as I drive down the road, the boys having a who can growl loudest contest at the top of their lungs.
Then I was reminded of these words by Nancy Leigh DeMoss...
"There is virtually never time in a twenty four hour day for me to do everything that is on everyone else's to do list for me.  There is seldom time to do everything on my own to do list.  I cannot meet with every person who wants to meet, call every person who wants to talk, tackle every project that people think I would be good at, keep each room in my house presentable for guests who drop in...It's just not physically possible.  What a relief that I don't have to do all those things!  The Truth is that all I have to do is the work God assigns to me...there is time to do everything that is on God's to do list for my day, for my week, and for my life."  
Don't let your if onlys take over.  You are enough, He is enough, and all you have to do is the work that God has given you for today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The downward cycle of sin

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools..."
This passage from Romans 1 goes on to describe this downward cycle into sin and eventually, Godlessness. It's a scary passage to read, because like lots of sin, it's starts with something small.
And where does it start?
"...they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him..."
I believe Paul was speaking specifically toward turning to the sin of idolatry in this passage at first, but he goes on to talk about sins of various kinds being a result of this downward cycle.  
It makes me wonder...does lots of sin, sin in my life, start like this?  
When we forget to glorify God, when we are too busy to give thanks, sin starts creeping in.  
In our Sunday School class on marriage, we talked about temptation this week.  We read Psalm 119:  9-11.  "How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." 
If we were to look at the sin in our lives...wouldn't it start by not seeking God like we should?  Or not being "up in the Word" (as a girl in my small group put it)?  Or not having a thankful heart?  
I think so much of sin in my life creeps in when I'm not thankful, when I am not glorifying God for what He has done for me.  When what He's done isn't always on my mind because I'm too busy to be in His word. When He and I haven't been speaking much because life is in the way.
What would my life look like if I could live in a state of thankfulness, of ongoing communication with God, and of spending time daily in His Word?  
I am a work in progress, but the older I get, the more I am constantly aware that this is where it's at.  This is what it's all about.  Whatever stage of life you are in, this is what life is all about.

1000 Gifts
111.  A visit with good friends

112.  Relaxing this weekend...lots of good food and football.
113.  Laying in bed with the windows open
114.  My two year old singing Jesus loves me.
115.  Meeting Em's good friend from school
116.  That God's mercies are new every morning
117.  My 6 year old begging each morning for the "Good Morning Song" followed by T asking for more "Oh my Soul pease pease".
118.  For forgiveness and second chances.  And third.  And fourth.
119.  Pumpkins everywhere!
120.  Crisp, autumn air
121.  A clean house...well, it was clean for awhile
122.  Seeing T snuggled up to E in our bed last night.  T has been sickly the past few days and waking up in the night.  He doesn't usually snuggle, but he sure was with his Daddy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm a dreamer, Mom

"I think I'm a dreamer, Mom,"  my daughter said to me.  "Does a dreamer want to sometimes just imagine and pretend even more than playing with other people?"
"I suppose that is what a dreamer does."
"Then yep, I'm a dreamer.  And sometimes I even like to take naps because it means I can just lay there and imagine and pretty soon my dreams turn into real dreams you know, cause I'm asleep."

Keep dreaming, sweet girl.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So much love

He runs to me, lays his head on my shoulder, and folds himself up in my arms.  His little, chubby, 2 year old hand pats my shoulder the whole time.  A soft kiss on the cheek, and he's off to play again.  Be still, my heart.

She gets in the car, full of energy, and guess whats, her eyes dancing as she talks a mile a minute.  Every day is a new story, a new thing she learned, a funny thing that happened...and she wants to tell me all of it.  And I've been waiting all day to hear it.

I'm awakened at 6:30 to my nine month old crying.  As I drag my sleepy body into his room, he holds his arms up to me and breaks into a big, toothy grin.

There is so much love here.

"How can I thank You?  What can I bring?  
What can these poor hands lay at the feet of a King?
I'll sing You a love song, It's all that I have.
To tell you I'm grateful for holding our lives in Your hands.
You are holding our lives in Your hands."

Monday, October 8, 2012

1000 Gifts

Why count 1000 Gifts?  From Anne Voscamp's blog...

When thanks to God becomes a habit, so joy in God becomes your life.
Because those who keeping a gratitude list:
1. Have a relative absence of stress and depression. (Woods et al., 2008)
2. Make progress towards important personal goals (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
3. Report higher levels of determination and energy (Emmons and McCullough, 2003)
4. Feel closer in their relationships and desire to build stronger relationships (Algoe and Haidt, 2009)
5. Increase your happiness by 25%(Who wouldn’t want a quarter more happiness!) (McCullough et al., 2002)
Who doesn’t want all that?

Are you counting??

99.  Tate going to bed without crying.  The past few nights have been brutal!
100.  E having today off...made the weekend so much more relaxing!
101.  A good, warm nap on Sunday, a very cold day.
102.  An evening of burritos and running around at the park
103.  Lunch out with E's family yesterday
104.  A daddy and daughter lunch date at school
105.  Friday night...donuts and movie family night.  Sleeping bags on the floor, lots of cuddling.  So perfect.
106.  Cold nights
107.  Our small group.
108.  The many many children God has blessed our small group with over the past couple years.  What a blessing, one I do not take lightly.
109.  Women at church who have blessed me with their friendship, love, and advice over many, many seasons of my life.  They are precious to me, though I seldom have words to express it.
110.  My church family who loves my kids and who treats my children so well, they never want to leave.  (And sometimes they lay on the floor of the church entry and throw an all out sad, crying fit about having to leave church)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The best of me

This morning I finished reading 1 Thessalonians amidst my boys running around like hooligans.  :)
At the end of the chapter, in Paul's last instructions, he says...
"Live in peace with each other.  And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  

(italics added by me)

In reading this, I was interrupted at least three times by my babe putting something in his mouth he shouldn't and my 2 year old telling me all about the Lego bird he was building.  I really need to get back to my quiet time before my boys wake up.  But that's a blog post for another day.

Anyway, I'm reading along, thinking...yep, I'm pretty good at those.  Yeah, I mean I have stuff to work on but I really try.
And I look at my two year old needing my attention and my baby wanting to be held.  

And I heard my husband's voice from a few nights ago, "Just give me a little bit of grace, L.  Just a little bit of grace.  I cannot do everything."

And I heard my six year old, "Mama, can you please please please play school with me?"  And me tell her, "No I can't.  I'm cooking dinner!"  

And I heard my two year old having a major meltdown last night in front of all my husband's coworkers and me picking him up, embarrassed, and carrying him quickly to the car. 

"Uhhh God, you don't mean my family in this right?  Cause God you know I'm doing the best I can.  But I can't do it all!"

"Always try to be kind to each other..."  
"Live in peace with each other..."
"Give thanks in all circumstances"

"I'm doing the best I can!!"
This is my classic response.  But is it true?  

So often I let others get the best of me, and my family (the ones I love the most) get the worst.  
It's hard...I argue in my head that they get the best AND worst of me because they get the most of me too.  
But that doesn't make it right.

"O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me.  Hear my voice when I call to you...Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door to my lips."  Psalm 141

"Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.  Change my heart O God, may I be like You."

I want my God to get the best of me (lots to work on there too).
I want my family to get the second best.  God has put me here to be their mom and his wife and I want to serve Him and serve them.  Joyfully.  :)

Join me in counting 1000 Gifts this year...I just recently started, but am determined to count 1000 by the end of the year!
91.  T saying, "Mama, give Cole a kiss?  Pease pease?"
92.  My baby boy learning to give love pats.
93.  Good laughs with E last night over our crazy kiddos
94.  Getting to visit with some of E's coworkers last night at his work picnic.  Those don't happen often!
95.  Talking about our dreams for our future last night...yep we have three kids and are settled, but we still have big dreams!
96.  Second chances...and thirds...and fourths!
97.  Hearing my student play a sonata she's been working on for quite a while...prepping for a college audition.  She blew me away.
98.  A good night's sleep.  Mr. Cole, you are getting back to sleeping well again.  :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The choice we all face today

We are running late for school...again.
My first grader's throat is sore; tis the season for sickness and germs.
My two year old who is almost potty trained (most days) had an accident all over his sister's chair.
The baby is still asleep and we need to get in the car.
I had a list of things I wanted to talk to my husband about last night, but by the time the kids were in bed, dishes done, toys picked up...he had a pile of cases to go through and I could barely keep my eyes open.

I face a choice.  I can let these things make me rush through life and stress me out OR

I can choose joy.

No, I cannot control my circumstances, but I CAN and WILL control my attitude. There are some circumstances that will inevitably bring us all down.  But the daily happenings of my life should not be one of them.  I don't want my children to see a mom who is constantly worried, stressed out, and hurried.  I want them to see a mom who chooses to find the joy in everyday because true joy comes from God.

In my planner that I use daily, there is this quote:

Today I'm going to live fully right where I'm at.  I'm going to choose joy.
That's the reason I'm doing the 1000 Gift challenge.  I'm not sure why I didn't start counting on this blog, but on my personal blog.  After some thought on this, I'm going to continue counting on this blog.  This is a more fitting place to document.  I may get around to transferring #1-82 to this blog, but if not, know they are there.

Want to join me?  If you too are counting gifts, please be sure to link your blog in the comment section.

83.  Listening to my oldest two play Memory.  My two year old clapped and cheered anytime anyone got a match.  He is every bit as excited for his sister as for himself.
84.  Em telling me she wanted to give her tooth fairy money to church.
85.  Beautiful trees with golden leaves
86.  A flute student determined for her future
87.  These girls that make me smile.
88.  My dad texting me, my mom calling me, and my 7 year old sister facebook messaging me this morning.  I love my family!
89. Tate running over to me pleading, "Hold you Mama, hold you!"  I know that in another year, he won't be saying this.  I cherish that he still needs his mama to pick him up and hold him close.
90. Hearing Em count aloud as she practices piano.  I can't explain why I love this so much, but I just do.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Loving Others

Loving others...what God's love is all about.  Sometimes though, it's hard to know what that looks like.  Sometimes, I want to show love and I commit to doing something that shows love, only to figure out that in doing what I need to do, I have to stick my child in front of the tv for a little bit, or sacrifice making dinner for my family, or put my children to bed later.  Now there's nothing wrong with that in my opinion once in a while.  But in serving/loving others, I never want my children and husband to feel like they are not the people I MOST want to serve.  So sometimes that means saying no or saying I can't do it that way, but I can do it this way...
Anyone else struggle with this?  
And my conversation with God when these things come up often sounds something like this..."God is this an opportunity You want me to pursue?  Because if it is, I want that.  But if it isn't, will You show me that?  I want to serve You the way You want me to."  
Let's face it, it's a lot more fun (at least for me) to get together with a friend who needs to talk than to load my dishwasher, change diapers for an hour.  And it's tempting to want to volunteer to help with youth group and let someone else put my kids in bed that night.  And I'm usually more eager to write a blog post (haha) than start dinner or do the breakfast dishes.  
But what is the work God has called me to?  
Sometimes the work God has called us to is mundane, ordinary and even causes us to wonder...would it really matter if I didn't do it?  Would anyone notice?  
How many minutes a day do I spend putting my sons' clothes on to soak because they both are crazy messy?
How many times do I put laundry in drawers only to have it come out again the next day?
How many dishes do I dirty only to have dinner consumed in 20 minutes and all those dishes sit staring at me?

Oh Daughter, don't go there.  
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men...It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

See I love my kids and husband more than life...but even with that love for them, it's not always easy to serve them.  Sometimes that sweet child isn't ahem very grateful.  "MOM!  We're having that AGAIN for dinner?"  Or that man of mine leaves his clothes on the floor and takes dishes upstairs where I find them days later.  Or the baby spits up on the fourth outfit of the day.  And my mind starts going places like...don't they realize how hard it is to keep the laundry up, floors swept, dinner on the table? 
Then I remember that I'm doing it to serve Christ...then the laundry, the dishes, making dinner, vacuuming.  It all seems more important, less mundane, and yes, Someone notices.  
So in seeking to serve others I have to ask myself, Is this something God wants me to do?  Or is this something I want to do to procrastinate or to get out of what He has already called me to do?

Friday, September 21, 2012


Her words are like a red light on the highway.  They stop me in my tracks, make me put on the brakes; although she has no idea that is the case.
My children have been praying in the morning on the way to school now for a while.  (Remember my Prayer Promise last year?  Still going this year!)  This morning, my 2 year old wanted to turn on his movie in the car, and I said, "Nope, remember we pray before school?"  This started a conversation on when we can pray to which my 6 year old chimed in, "Yep, remember we can pray anytime!  Before we eat, before bed, before we do anything really.  When we want to tell God thank you like if we are on a walk.  And when we are scared like if we are at school and we feel scared, we can just pray in our heads.  I pray at school when I'm worried.  And Mommy prays when she's worried too!"  
Oh Lord, is that what You were trying to tell me?  
Just this morning when my heart was breaking for someone I don't even know all that well.  Someone who's world is completely rocked right now and I was searching for something I could do for them...make them a meal, a gift...what could I do?  I kept running into road blocks with all my ideas and let's face it...when you have three kids and time is crazy, sometimes you feel like WHAT can I do that wouldn't be more harm than good?
What was it I read in my morning time with God?  "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."  (Colossians 4:2)  Devote.  Am I devoted to prayer?  
Beth Moore said something about this in my last study of hers.
Went something like this..."When God has brought you to a situation where all you can do is pray, then that's what you are there pray."  
How many times have I said to my friends, "I will be praying about that.  Let me know if there's something I can do."  As if praying wasn't DOING something. When will I learn?  When will I DEVOTE myself to prayer?
On Facebook, so many times I see people who say, "I'm praying for you" or "Prayers!"  Am I the only one who wonders how many people are REALLY praying?  I say it too, and I'm telling many times do I utter up a quick prayer and then that's the end of it.  And it's true, I am technically "praying" for them, so I'm not a liar here, but it feels like deception.  Because prayer is important, it's crucial.  And when we really love someone, the BEST thing we can do is pray for them.  It's way beyond anything we can physically do here on Earth.  I cannot make light of it, I cannot make it less than what it is.
My desire is to be devoted to prayer.  Lord, make me your prayer warrior.
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, 
I will call on him as long as I live.
Psalm 116:  1-2
(Just trying to remove my picture of Resurrection Eggs that always comes up!  We shall see if this works!)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It is beautiful...

"Though the world is ugly, IT IS BEAUTIFUL."  That line really stands out to me in this video.  That and "Moments...this is all we have.  Microscopic, fleeting moments."

*A woman I taught with is sitting at her mom's bedside at this moment, holding her hand as she dies of cancer.  Broken hearts.
*A 7 year old girl is fighting cancer, her days filled needles poking and treatments that make her sick and not seeing her family members (because they are far away).  Her parents are overcome with sadness, stress, and...hope.
*Another friend I have lost her mom in an instant a few months ago.  She didn't get to say goodbye.
*Children are dying from starvation and my children have plenty to eat.
*Some children, even some right here in our country where so many have so much, have no one tucking them in each night, no one caring enough to put healthy food in their bellies, no one reading them a story, and sometimes much worse.
*Women get pregnant and it's an inconvenience while some precious ladies I know would give ANYTHING to have a baby.  They long for a baby, while some view their children as anything but a blessing.

This world is ugly.  There is so much hurt.  The injustices and the hurting can be like an ocean and completely overtake you if you let it.
And I don't want to be light about it...I'm not walking any of the roads I listed above.  I don't want to pretend to understand.  I don't want to say what I would do if I was in their shoes.
So often when I am praying for these things that weigh on my heart, I think...what is the point of me counting these trivial little tiny things that are blessings through the day?  Why count blessings when the world's hurt is so overwhelming?  Doesn't that seem like I'm ignoring the ugly and just putting on a happy face?
Because...though the world is ugly, IT IS BEAUTIFUL.  Though this isn't Heaven, it IS earth.  It is our chance to enjoy the blessings God is giving us today, and long for the day the promise of Heaven will be fulfilled.  The day with no more cancer, no more death, no starving, dying children, no more infertility and miscarriage and loss.
Because if we let us, the losses and the hurt will overtake us and the truth is...even in the hurt, there is still beauty and blessings and the everyday things ARE really the big things.  And when we start to see the little things, the blessings through the day, we see how God is truly there through it all.  Not just there, but He is the everything, the reason we do what we do.  The reason there is joy and blessings, and the reason that one day the hurt will all be gone.
And when it's hard to count, when it's hard to see the joy because the hurt is blinding...then thank Him for the one thing that He has given that is far more than we deserve...salvation.  The best gift of all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Church family

This morning church was a juggling act.  My hub and I lead a Young Marrieds Sunday School class and my man has been on a trip for the past four days.  Sooo...getting three kids ready for church was a task in and of itself.  Then my oldest's SS class wasn't meeting so she was in a different class, I didn't want the youngest in the nursery because he is a snotty mess right now (and I don't know if it's teeth or cold), and the middle child was not real excited about me leaving.  Fast forward to me finally getting in to class.  First of all, I'm not comfortable teaching without my hub anyway, second of all I realize I don't have our book with us (no materials at all with me!), and THEN my baby just cries and cries the whole way through class.  I pretty much just wanted to give up!
But...BUT, there's a part of the story I haven't told you.
One of the guys from our small group met me at my car to help me carry stuff in.
Another single mom for the weekend started leading discussion when I had to leave the room.  And the dad I spoke of before chimed right in with her.
The gracious ladies in the nursery loved on my kiddos like you wouldn't believe...even though they had a huge room full of kiddos.
Another mom in my small group walked my baby around for awhile just to give me a break.
All the people in our class had to go get their own chairs.  And they got one for me.  And I don't even think I ever said thanks!
And my inlaws took my big kids out to lunch when we got home!
I don't like to be needy.  At ALL actually.  I would say I hate to depend on others (besides my husband who I am more and more aware that I depend on a LOT!).  But sometimes, we just can't do it all on our own!  We need help!
It was really humbling to me all the people who stepped up to help us.
That, to me, is what church is all about. Serving God which means serving others. Being a family.  Loving God and loving each other.
So blessed to have my church family.

Friday, September 14, 2012


Today is my oldest's half birthday.  She is six and a half which is apparently a pretty big deal.  When we were talking about it, she shyly asked, "Will we get to do anything to celebrate?"  Now we don't usually celebrate half birthdays in our house, we just haven't made a habit of doing that.  But lately my thinking has been challenged on celebrating and enjoying and cherishing and making memories.  Not every day has to be a big production, but what if every day we celebrated somehow?  
She didn't want a party or a present or even a cake.  (Which is good because I'm not sure we would have done that.)  But when I asked her what would be a great celebration, her response was, "A donut.  And maybe a trip to the park."  
She won't always get what she wants.  She won't get to celebrate everyday with a donut and a trip to the park.  But for today, we're going to go celebrate turning six and a half.  We're going to eat a donut and play at the park and embrace today for what it is...a gift.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

With Thanksgiving

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

I have been reading this verse for years, memorized it a long time ago, and consider it to be a great "life verse".  However as many times as I have read it, I think I have missed a crucial part of it...that little line that says with thanksgiving.  With thanksgiving.  In everything with thanksgiving.  Perhaps it is just because I am doing the 1000 gift challenge, but it seems everywhere I go, this message is coming through loud and clear.  The key to joy is in the thanksgiving.  The GIVING thanks.
As a wife and a mother there are a hundred little things that threaten to rob me of my joy, my ability to give thanks during the day.  And the big things, there are those too.
But those little things, those pesky little things like picking up Mr. Potato Head for the 100th time so the baby doesn't chew on it and choke, the laundry that still needs to be folded being dumped all over the floor by the toddler, being in the middle of Walmart when the 2 year old decides to have a meltdown to end all meltdowns, the getting up in the night for a sick child or infant...all of this threatens to rob me of my joy.  But what I am discovering is that when I choose to see these things for what they truly are, a gift, then my joy cannot be taken away.
As a woman, I have chosen life by bearing my children, but I also choose to nurture that life every single day.   Life is a gift, a precious gift.  So when the baby is crying, and my toddler is screaming, and a little old lady is telling me Oh these days go so quickly, I rest in this.  That when we choose to give and nurture life, to find the joy even in the pesky little things, to give thanks...we bring joy to the Father.  The secret to a joyful life?  It's not in the getting.  It's in the giving.