Monday, December 17, 2012

God's love.


The fact God loves me is incomprehensible. I try to wrap my mind around it, but I can't. I'm overwhelmed by it daily. As I get older the realization that he loves me grows and yet, it becomes more unbelievable to me. I read this in my morning devotions and thought I'd share it. 

"Because His soul delighted in them, He could not stay away from them, for His heart longed for them. They were never absent from His heart, for He had written their names upon His hands and had graven them upon his side. So the names of Christ's elect were His most precious jewels and glittered on His heart. We may often forget to mediate upon the perfections of our Lord, but He never ceases to remember us. Let us chide ourselves for past forgetfulness, and pray for grace that we might constantly and fondly remember Him. Lord, paint upon the eyeballs of my soul the image of Your Son."
Charles Spurgeon, from Morning and Evening. (one of my favorite devotionals)

I can imagine that God delights and thinks on great men and women of the faith, like Spurgeon, but it's hard for me to imagine that he takes such delight in me. I'm so humbled and forever thankful that he does. 

I'm find myself, like most of you, crying over what happened in Connecticut. As a mom how can I look at my children's faces and not think about all those parents who have empty beds at night. The evil of it all is more than I can take. I thought to myself, if that happened to me could I still say God is good? Could I still say, He loves me? Could I still say He is in control? I must. The bible says it is true and that is my solid ground. That is where I plant my feet and trust that His grace is enough. I find great comfort that He is there amidst the horrors of this world. That he is in control. That those precious lives are now in heaven with him being protected from this evil. I am praying for their families. Their lives will never be the same. 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

On gift giving...


Gift giving is one of my favorite things and limited funds is the only thing slowing me down. I daydream of gifts people would enjoy and love surprising them. Sometime in July my mind is already thinking about Christmas morning and what's waiting to be opened under the tree. What I'm not a fan of is the stress Christmas presents can bring and the way presents can cloud what we're truly celebrating. 

I cringe at the idea of our children caring more about the gifts and seeing Christ's birth as an afterthought. I want the month of December to be a special time of Celebrating Jesus' birth and the gift giving to be an outflow of that. 

So, Caleb and I have talked a lot about how we'll celebrate Christmas and the way we'll give gifts. Our kids are young and we're still figuring things out. I know we'll try somethings and find they didn't work too well and have to readjust the next year, but here are some things that help our family with gift giving.


(source)

I really do try and have all shopping done before December 1st. That way I'm not stressed. This is an important one because I believe that I play a huge role in setting the tone in our home and if I'm stressed about buying gifts and spending lots of time shopping instead of with my family I'm not a happy girl. This also helps with budgeting because a lot of planning has happened and I'm not running around like a chicken with it's head cut off making rash purchases.

I've heard of a number of ways people give...the three rule, something to read, something they need, something they want, etc. I think these are a great ideas and got me thinking on how we would do it. This is what we came up with....
We'll give two main gifts a year. One, is a gift that shows love and two, is a give of sacrifice. The possibilities are endless on what you could give, but what we're trying to get at is the heart behind the gift. That the giver has thought through what would bless and bring joy to the person receiving. The questions stem from the gift that God gave us in sending his son. He gave his Son to die for our sins, a sacrifice, and He did it because he loves us. This helps us keep Christ at the center of everything. 

I also buy them a book. I like to the idea of wrapping up 25 books and opening one each night as we count down to Christmas. I've started our collection with some being Christmas books and some just being favorite stories. Each year we'll add one book to the collection.

They get pajama's from their Papa and Yiayia on Christmas Eve.

Stockings are just fun. Mostly filled with the things that we grew up getting...candy, an orange, etc.
(source)

I'm not sure if this one will change as the kids get older, but we don't put presents under the tree until Christmas Eve. (We did this at first cause our kids are so small and they would tear them open way before Christmas morning:) But we ended up liking the excitement in the kids when they woke up Christmas morning and were surprised with presents. And we also liked that presents weren't the center of our conversations. 

These are some of our thoughts around Christmas presents...and like I said, they could change as the kids grow, but for now it works. I would love to hear what you do.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Elijah Michael.


My boy is four. I tried to see if we could skip four and just do three again, but he told me, "it's too late, I'm already four." How bittersweet it is to watch him grow. We enjoy every new stage, but I ache for him to stay little. As he grows it seems like time flies a little faster and I'll never get this time back. I love that little guy. He's who made me a mommy and he's taught me so much. 

He came jumping into my lap during rest time today and said he just needed to cuddle. I held him tight and told him four of my favorite things about him.

His tender heart. I pray that translates to a softness towards the Lord. 

His love for his family. He loves us all so so much.

His creativity and seeing his imagination at work.

His humor. He makes us smile.

As soon as I was done he asked me how old I was. I told him 29 and he said he'd tell me 29 things he loved about me. Things that made his list...

that I love him.

that I cuddle him.

that I tell him secrets.

that I was wearing a pink shirt.

that I have long hair.

and my favorite...a long neck. 


Happy Birthday Elijah. Mama loves you forever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

catch up...


Here we go...a random collection of pictures and a quick summary of the latest. 

You're not going to believe it, but surprise surprise we got sick over Thanksgiving weekend. It seems like the sickness never leaves us! But I have to say that even though it was a bummer not feeling well, I didn't mind too much. Caleb came home early on Wednesday and we spent the next four days laying low and just enjoy our little family. 

My sister and her family were in town and like always we enjoyed them so so much. We love our time with them and it makes us wish they lived close.

I took David and Elijah out for a special lunch. 

The kids were in heaven with their cousins for two weeks and Elijah learned some good lessons in sharing:)

The Monday after Thanksgiving Caleb's sister and family came to stay with us for a week. They are missionaries in Africa and we hadn't seen them in three years. We actually had never met their youngest, Hope, and they had never meet Vanessa or Amelia. Our time together was so sweet.

Caleb and I spent lots of one on one time with their girls, and Troy and Bekah spent lots of time with our kids. We had lots of time to make up.



(a date night...just the adults. family devotion time. 
playing together. and watching a movie, don't laugh. we don't have a t.v. so they watched it on our computer)


A week seemed too short, but it was easier saying good-bye knowing we'll see them at Christmas.



The last week was spent catching up after company. Comforting a teething baby. Getting ready to go out of town. and preparing for Elijah's birthday. He turns four on Wednesday. I can't believe it. 



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful for...



With Thanksgiving tomorrow "thankful lists" are popping up everywhere. I love it. What a good time to stop and reflect on the last year and count our blessings. Being grateful and counting blessing should be a daily practice, but I do love dedicated time to reflect. 

This year has brought many changes and I'm thankful for all of them...

For the way I've seen God's love in a way I've never known before. For His faithfulness. For the way He's grown our family...

For my sweet family and the addition of Amelia...
Amelia...the sweetest baby I've ever known. It's hard for me to find words for her. She's been this incredible gift that God placed in our arms. 

Elijah...he's my boy. He's tender and loving and I adore him. He's imaginative and bright and the perfect older brother. 

Nay...her personality is amazing. Everyone who knows her is so lucky, but very few get in. She's reserved and I can't believe I get to call her mine. Our little family means more to her than anything. Her joy comes from us being together. She thanks God many times a day for each of us..."God thank you for daddy, thank you for mama, thank you for IE, thank you for Mia." She says it over and over again. We love her.


Caleb...I'm not sure where to start. I guess with the fact he's taught me more about being grateful than anyone else. It's challenged my walk with the Lord and grown my faith. He's so content and I want to be like him... Grateful for whatever God brings into my life. 
I love him so much it hurts. I don't know what my life would be like without him, but he's truly my best friend and better half.


I'm thankful for our year in Idaho. We love living here.

I'm thankful for our extended families and am reminded of what a blessing they are as some of them deal with serious health problems.

I'm thankful for the beautiful friends God faithfully brings to my life.

I'm thankful it's my birthday...29 years. I am blessed. 


Friday, November 16, 2012

a heritage...


In July we made a trip to California to celebrate Caleb's grandparents 65th wedding anniversary. 65 is a long time. I try and imagine what it would be like to celebrate 65 years with Caleb and realize he'd have to live to 95 for us to be married that long. 

They've given our family a gift that's hard to describe. They've persevered  when many have given up. They've taught us about 
love and sacrifice and family.
 I can't tell you how blessed I am to be able to call them mine.








The kids were just a little spoiled with attention....
look at the lipstick on those cheeks.
















Caleb comes from a crazy Greek family...they're incredibly close and so fun to be around.

The siblings.

Their legacy...It's amazing to think how these two people have touched so many lives. 
(minus ten...some family members were unable to make it)

We love you. 

(This song makes me think of them...take a minute and listen to it.)

(source of pictures here)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

His mercy is new every morning...


I wrote this as a guest post a couple weeks ago and thought I'd share it here too...


 I stretch and slowly open my eyes. All I want to do is crawl back under my covers, but Amelia's cry pulls me out. I make it to her room and her sweet cry turns to a smile when she sees me. My heart is overflowing with love for her. She is pure joy and seeing her refreshes me. I can't believe she's seven months old already. 


As much joy as she's brought to our family it's been a seven months of struggling with sadness. My emotions have always run strong and deep. I feel everything passionately. 
But after I have a baby emotions get heightened and sometimes irrational. I'm completely exhausted and it's harder to tell if there is any truth behind my feelings. There are tears for no reason at all and right when I think it's getting better it hits hard again. I feel a weight that never quite lifts.

You have kept count of my tossing; 
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?...
This I know, God is for me.
Psalms 56:8

It's such a lonely place. 
An embarrassing place.
 A weak place.

 I like to pretend everything is fine and running smoothly. 
I don't like that I can't make sense of it. 
I hate the feeling of being out of control.
It's easy to look at how well other women are doing and compare myself to them.

 A bruised reed he will not break, 
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

I am the Lord;
I have called you in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you.
Isaiah 42

As hard as it's been to struggle through this, it's also been one of the most precious times in my life. It's because of this darkness that I see and feel the love of God in a way I've never felt before. I know His word is true and it is what guides my every step when I can't trust anything else. I know his love is not earned, but freely given. In my worst state his love is unchanging and his grace and mercy carry me through.

The Lord preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

 God's word is solid ground when everything around me can feel like it's falling apart. 
This time has become a huge lesson for me in trusting what I know to be true according to the bible instead of my feelings. Getting up and doing what God's called me to out of obedience not based on what I feel. Whenever I don't know what's true all I have to do is read his word. It's given me a peace and joy that remains.

Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Monday, November 12, 2012

for your monday....




Everyday the weather gets a little colder and this weekend we even saw a little white falling. Watching the leaves fall and knowing it won't be long before I wake up to a blanket of snow covering the ground excites me. I love making hot tea in the mornings and wrapping up in my sweats while I do my devotions. It's the changing that I love. Something new and unknown.

Over the weekend we spent most of our time doing yard work. There's a lot to get done even though our yard is so small. The children loved it...well Elijah and Amelia did. Nay snuck over to Nana's and missed some of the work:) I love my family and working along side them doesn't feel like work at all. 

Another change made it's way into our home recently. On Sunday's we've stopped using our phone and computers. (we don't have a t.v. or we'd stop that too) We felt we needed a day without the distractions that they bring. I've always said that I liked paper and pen better than my computer and a good book over a movie, but somehow the phones and computers were taking over. Sucking time that we would use for other things. Taking attention away from each other and the children. A quietness has replaced the noise they brought that is so refreshing. I'll admit sometimes I want to pull out my computer at the end of the day, but I'm glad that I haven't. I've read instead. Used a family cookbook over looking something up online. I've talked with Caleb and told an extra bedtime story to the kids. It's been a great change for our home. 



Thursday, November 8, 2012

don't forget thanksgiving...


With Christmas decorations up since mid-October and so much planning involved for the holiday, sometimes it feels like we just skip right by Thanksgiving.  I know that I like to have all my shopping done before November first so Christmas is on the brain long before I start thinking about Thanksgiving, but even though I like planning ahead, I don't want to forget about this time to slow down and just be grateful for all that God's done in our lives.




All the sudden it was November 5th and it hit me that Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I love this holiday. The food and family and as much as I love presents I kind of like that no gifts are involved. So, I got to thinking about a way to help the kids and I cultivate a grateful heart.
We made a count down to Thanksgiving Calendar.
 The kids helped write the numbers on the front and on the back of each day is an activity to do together. The activity is something to remind us of all the blessings in our lives. 



(this is obviously the day we found leaves outside and traced them. The kids loved playing outside and then coming in and coloring for hours.)

Here's so examples of how we did it, but I'm sure the possibilities are endless....

find leaves outside and trace them.
Thankful for the changing seasons.

write a note to a loved one.
thankful for friends and family.

give away a toy.
thankful for our imaginations and how much we've been blessed.

make dad lunch and bring it to him at work.
thankful for dada's hard work.

pray for our family.
thankful that we serve a God who listens and answers our prayers.




This is a taste of the things we'll be doing until Thanksgiving. Maybe this helps spark your imagination to find a way to remember Thanksgiving.
Leave a comment and let me know how your family celebrates. I'd love to know.

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