Monday, July 23, 2012

thoughts on blogging

This little blog of mine...we've been together for awhile now. It's strange to think that when I started it I really didn't know a thing about blogging or the blogging community. Seriously, I kind of have my head in the sand when it comes to all things technology. (It's a blessing and a curse and unfortunately I still understand very little of how blogger works:) 

I started writing for the same reason a lot of you did, to document our lives and keep in touch with far off family members. Elijah was a couple months old and it was a very convenient way of journaling our life with him.

Little did I know how much I would enjoy it. I look back to old posts and remember things I would have forgotten. It's been a good way for me to clear my head and get my thoughts straight. Sometimes I write out my thoughts and share them for anyone to read and sometimes I never hit publish. 

Somewhere along the way I made friends, some I've actually met in "real" life and they've become even closer. I found a handful of blogs I enjoy following and am encouraged by. It's been a fun and unique adventure. I don't feel a pressure to blog. You'll notice sometimes I blog everyday and there are times weeks go by with very little. 

But, I've found if I'm not careful I can get concerned about who commented or didn't and how many people followed along. (it's one of the reasons i got rid of my follow box. i don't want to worry about that) I've also wondered if I should make it private or stop it all together. Blogging is a unique thing and brings to light many things to think through. (or sin that needs to be dealt with)

I've learned many times when my thoughts are on who's commenting I've lost focus on why I do this. Like all things in life, I write to bring God glory, not for who reads it. I do hope it blesses anyone who comes across it, but I do this for our family. We love it and I enjoy writing. I don't know how long I'll do it for, but what I've documented so far is something we'll have forever. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

encouraging one another.

 I found myself in need of encouragement since Amelia's joined our family. She is so precious and seriously the sweetest baby you've ever seen. But even the sweetest baby wakes throughout the night for feeding, has dirty diapers, gets running noses from her siblings loving on her and needs attention. Three kids take a lot of work. 
I found myself tired and worn out, but afraid to admit it. I thought that if I said it was hard then somehow I was failing. I watched other mom's that looked like they had it all together and compared myself to them. Wondering why I couldn't do as much as they could.
I'm thankful for my mom. She's come along side me and encouraged me during this time. She takes the kids so I can nap and makes grocery runs for me. She helps me so much more though, by praying for me, sharing verses and sermons, and reminding me of why I'm doing this. And she always tells me I'm doing a better job than I really am:) 

It's shown me how important it is to continually encourage one another. I'm hoping that hearing from these other mom's this week was just that...and encouragement in your parenting. We're all in this thing together.

  When something really speaks to me I like sharing it with others hoping it will bless them as well. I recently listened to this talk and LOVED it. I don't know if you guys ever check out the sermons or books I recommend, but I promise this is worth your time!

Monday, July 16, 2012

a guest post from Karen....

I'm so excited to have a couple people guest posting this week. If you've read my blog for long you know that I'm passionate about being a mom. I love it, but I think it's tough work and we need all the encouragement we can get. I'm praying that these posts will do just that.
 Karen sharing her thoughts today. Karen is a friend from my old church in California and someone I look up to as I raise my kids. You should check out her blog here when your done reading.

I was honored and blessed when Jessica asked me if I could contribute something to her blog from the perspective of a mom who has “been there.”  She shared with me some of the struggles that she and other mothers she knew were facing, and asked if I could speak in order to encourage.   I didn’t think twice about it because one of my biggest joys is being able to encourage young wives and mothers in any way I can.   I don’t always feel that I have something to offer, but nonetheless I choose to offer what little I possess in hopes that it will build up another, and that God might magnify my meager efforts.  

I do relish an opportunity like this because I believe strongly in the importance of a woman being in her biblical role as a wife and mother in her home.  It is a difficult, challenging, tiring task as we all very well know, but one that is rewarding in a way that no other vocation could offer.   In spite of that, the blessings do run deep.  Our children bring us such amazing joy.  It is a privilege and an honor to be entrusted with children, which are an amazing gift from the Lord.   I have found no greater joy than being a wife and mother.
About 20 years ago, I was once the mother of three children under 4 years old.  By this I mean a newly turned 4 year-old boy, a not quite 2 year-old boy, and a nursing newborn baby girl.  Up to that point, motherhood hadn’t been all that hard, but adding a third child really amped everything up for me.  I remember just trying to figure out a time to go to the grocery store when one of my three wouldn’t need to eat, sleep, or worse yet – need a restroom or diaper change!  If you have multiples, you are likely nodding your head in agreement.   It wasn’t easy to get out, or stay at home for that matter - and I was exhausted every day.   My husband used to drive up regularly from work at 5:30 pm and sometimes I would watch out the window for him because I was so anxious to have help!  If he had an evening meeting, I would often despair and wonder how I would make it until 7:30 bedtime!  

But spiritual things were happening within me.  I really realized then that my life was not my own.  That most of my time was given up for others now.  I was being greatly sanctified in those years.   I thank the Lord for the pressure which caused me to see my own sin and deal with it.  I learned a lot about myself and some of my own wrong thinking about what my life should be like.

It is hard to not let motherhood consume you, when you are mothering continually.  During those years, I don’t feel like I was the wife I should have been.  Sometimes, as your family grows, you inadvertently shift your focus more to the children and less to your husband.  Motherhood is plain tiring.  And I probably allowed myself too many activities outside the home which further zapped my energy for my husband.  You shouldn’t feel obligated to have a “ministry” or many outside activities that draw you out of your home at this time of your life.   Your children are enough of a ministry and consume much of your time.  Figure out ways to reserve some energy for your husband.   Do your best to keep life simple and be careful how you spend your time.  It’s okay to say no to good things.

It is easy to forget that the priority relationship in the family is the husband-wife relationship.  All other relationships are subject to this relationship.   You may think you are being a good mother by devoting so much of your time and energy to the children.   But, it is very important to realize that you are no better a mother than you are a wife.  If your marriage suffers, your children will suffer no matter how good your “parenting” is.

I am not here to say, “have that weekly date night” or some other formula I think will work to keep your relationship strong.  Yes, it is certainly beneficial to have time alone away from the children, but that may not be feasible or practical at times.  I’m speaking more of a mindset and a heart attitude that puts your husband as the priority above the children.  You are still his helpmate and he should be the primary object of your affection.   You can look for ways to demonstrate this even in the midst of busy motherhood.  
A few years ago, I gave a talk at our church about loving your husband.  Here are a few points from that talk that you might find encouragement in.   These points can encourage us all practically how to love our husbands and make them a priority.

  • We ought to have tender thoughts about our husbands.

  • We need to measure our thoughts against Phil 4:8.   “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

    We should think this way about our husbands.  

    What we allow to occupy our minds will determine our actions and speech.

    Think about what attracted your husband to you in the first place.  

    Think upon it.  

    Our thoughts affect how we feel.

  • We ought to have tender behavior toward our husbands.  

  • Prize your husband.

    No person should be more important than our husband, and no one should be the recipient of our most affection.

    Our lives should be oriented around our husbands.

    In the Genesis account of creation, we discover we were created to be our husband’s helper.

    Gen 2:18 it isn’t good that man should be alone.
    I will make a helper comparable to him.

    God gave Eve to help Adam.

    Here is our job description as wives.

    I am my husband’s helper.

    The man needs the help, the woman needs to help.

    Marriage was created to provide companionship in the work which God has called man.

    He is oriented to the task, and she is to be oriented toward HIM.  

    Once the children come we do not center our lives around them, but our husbands shall remain first in our hearts.  

    We must prize him highest.  

    Incidentally this is best for the children anyways.  

    It provides security, and a biblical model for their future marriages.  My own children (now adults) have expressed this to us.  Our marriage and love for each other made a greater impression on them than any “parenting” we did.

    We want to model to our children that Dad comes first in the home, and we want our children to follow that biblical example.  

    Eph 5:33.  The wife must respect her husband.  

    To respect means that she reverences, honors, prefers, praises, admires and loves him exceedingly!  

    Does your husband feel prized by you?  

    Does he feel valued by you above any other relationship in your life?
    Nothing should rival this relationship.

    1. We should cherish our husbands.

  • A lot of us answered that we would cherish our husbands in our wedding vows.

    To cherish means to hold dear, to nurture, to tenderly care for.  

    Cherishing involves showing daily expression of this.  

    There are many ways we can cherish our husbands:

    -Praying for them.  

    No one knows our husbands more intimately than we do – his weaknesses and strengths.  

    No one could be more effective in praying for him.  

    -Being a good listener.  

    Our husbands don’t bare their hearts and thoughts if we are not interested in them.  

    We need to be consistently encouraging him and showing gratitude to him for all he does to provide for us and his care for the family.

    Show him physical attention…  being close, sleeping close, sitting close…  showing tender warm expression of your love.

    Verbally communicate your appreciation and love.

    Just do all kinds of things for him that demonstrate your care.

    1.  We should enjoy your husbands.

    Do you love being with your husband?  

    Do you enjoy spending time with him?

    There should be nobody whose company we enjoy more and our husbands should know that.

    There is nobody we should enjoy helping and serving more than our husbands.  

    We are not to be merely dutiful.  

    But our duties should be fulfilled with absolutely joy and delight.

    Here is a question to ask ourselves.

    Are we dutiful or delighted?

    What is our attitude when we are asked to do something for our husband?

    What gets my attention first?  

    The things my husband wants me to do or my own to do list?

    Does he know that out of all the people I serve, that there is no one I enjoy serving more than him?

    We need to enjoy and take great delight in serving our husbands.

    1.  We should take an interest in what he enjoys.  

    You do not have to duplicate his enthusiasm or enjoyment.

    You need to merely take an interest.  

    Take an interest in what interests him.

    Even if it’s not your preference, take an interest and be willing to possibly participate in something he loves.

    Loving our husbands with a tender, compassionate love, enjoying him, delighting in him, this is what titus 2 requires of us as wives.

    Hopefully I have encouraged us to consider how to cultivate this type of love.

    But let us go a bit deeper than just loving our husbands just because God commands it.  

    There is a greater reason to do so, which is found at the very end of the passage in Titus 2.  

    “So that the Word of God may not be blasphemed.”

    In the notes of Titus in the MacArthur study bible it reads:
    “This is the purpose of Godly conduct – to eliminate any reproach on Scripture.  For a person to be convinced that God can save him from sin, one needs to see someone who lives a holy life.  When Christians claim to believe God’s word but do not obey it, the Word is dishonored.  Many have mocked God and His truth because of the sinful behavior of those who claim to be Christians.”

    And lastly, let us turn our focus to the one who has called us to live holy lives.  

    We all have utter incapacity to fulfill perfectly God’s commands.

    But God is the one who promises to equip us and empowers us to do every good work.  Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    2 Cor.9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

    God is our strength and source.  His grace will abound to us so we can abound in loving our husbands with this tender affectionate love.

    So you can see that this all truly begins with a right relationship with God.   Nothing good will come from you.  It needs to come from the Word of God flowing in and out of you.  That means investing time to read and learn from God’s word.   I’m not talking about an hour-long study at 5:00 am in this phase of life.   I’m talking about an open bible on the kitchen table or reading a bit while nursing, a verse on a card on the bathroom mirror, an edifying conversation with a friend at the park while your children play, or whatever way you can get the Word of God in.  It means turning on music you can praise God to in the car or in the kitchen.  And most of all, it means making church a priority when you can.  I know that sick little ones do hinder Sunday mornings at times, but whenever you can, sit with your husband in church and worship!  Remain devoted to God, it is the path of blessing in your marriage and in your mothering.

    Friday, July 13, 2012

    never want to forget... sibling edition

    These kids really are best friends. They light up when the see each other for the first time in the morning or after nap time. They act like they haven't seen each other for days.

    Things I never want to forget...

    Vanessa running in the room and seeing Amelia starts yelling, Mia, Mia, Mia. Then smashing her cheeks together and saying, chubby cheeks. (i'm sure amelia just loves when she does this)

    How Elijah likes to teach Vanessa new things.
    He'll say, do it like this Nay, just like me. 
     Or sitting her down in his room and telling every story he remembers from the bible. 
    He always wants her in the room with him playing. 

    Amelia laughing out loud at Elijah. He makes silly faces at her and dances around the room. Her eyes follow him around and she giggles for such a long time. 
    Caleb and I were laying down on the bed with Amelia. We were trying to make her smile, but she wouldn't give us anything. The second Elijah and Vanessa came in she started smiling at them and only stopped when they left. 

    Nay and IE (what vanessa calls elijah) hiding under their covers and yelling at us to come find them, but they can't stop laughing making it pretty easy to know where they are.

    Elijah telling me that I don't need to do anything for the girls. He'll take care of them. 

    It's one of my favorite things as a mom to watch them interact. 

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    getting creative.

    Call me crazy, but my perfect day starts at 5:30. I love getting up early. The way the sunlight reaches across the grass and trees and starts a new day. The air is still and the only noise you hear is birds singing. I love the newness and freshness of it. It's my favorite time to spend with the Lord. 

    5:30 these days looks a little different though. I'm usually crawling back into bed after a feeding or crawling out of bed for a feeding. Not having my time in the mornings has forced me to get a little creative with my devotion time. I've learned that in this season I'm going to make it work with my kids awake and in the room.

    Even though it's not my ideal. God's used it as a wonderful teaching tool for myself and the kids. They're learning to sit still and be quiet. They're learning that it's important to stop and spend time with the Lord and they're able to observe how important my relationship with him is. We work on memorizing scripture together and they are learning it faster and remembering it better than I am! They've also learned a number of hymns...all the verses. It's so great singing with them and then hearing them sing the songs through out the day. 

    I've also learned a lot though. God's showing me how to worship him throughout my whole day. It's not just something I spend an hour in the morning doing. It's a relationship with him that continues through all the twists and turns our day takes.

    I have a number of things the kids can do during this time. I have books for them to read or listen to on cd. I have music for the to listen to or pictures for them to color. I have bible stories made out of flannelgraph that they can play with. It's all things bible related. 

    Even though I look forward to my 5:30 mornings starting again someday. I've grown to love this season of worshipping with my kids.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    our fourth of july

    Our forth was a blast. My parents told the kids there was a surprise waiting for them so to come over early. The kids had a hard time going to bed they were so excited.

    We woke up and put on our red white and blue.
    (getting a picture with Amelia's hands out of her mouth is close to impossible...she likes to see how many fingers she can fit in at a time.)

    Elijah loves to hug on his sisters. It usually ends up with them laughing and rolling around on the ground.

    Then we made it over to my parents for the surprise....the rented a huge water slide for the day.

    It was such a fun treat. And I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, the kids or the dads. 
    (nay wanted to go with granddad, but once they got to the top she wasn't so sure.)

    I think Elijah spent six hours on this thing...he kept going until the man came to take it away. 

    Celebrating holidays with little ones is a little different than just a few years ago when it was just us. They were so tired that they crashed right after dinner and didn't stay up to see any fireworks. 

    I watched for a little bit in our front yard. I love the fourth. It's one of my favorite holidays and I can't watch fireworks going off without imagining what the first Independence day was like. Imagining the bittersweetness of celebrating our freedom, but after such sacrifice. What a blessing to be an American.

    Monday, July 2, 2012

    man time...

    Elijah loves to be with his dad. He'll tell him, dad we need some man time. Caleb gladly gives it to him. On Friday they had a camp out in the backyard. 
    I know that at the end of a long week it would be easier for Caleb to just want to relax and put the kids to bed early. But Caleb always invests his time in his children. He enjoys them and happily chooses a bad nights rest in a tent with his son than the comfort of his bed.
    I'm so thankful for the relationship they are building. Elijah admires his dad and could not have been happier. He kept saying, this is so cool dad.
    He helped put the tent together...

    He was so proud of himself.

    He brought out his little tent too...

    You can't have a camp out without roasting marshmallows. 

    Caleb told Elijah stories of times that he went camping and mentioned that he usually fished on camping trips. Elijah said that if they were having a real camp out then they needed to fish. So, he grabbed his fishing pole and fished in his blow up pool.

    Elijah's great grandparents gave him a flashlight and now it doesn't leave his side. He loves it and loved being able to use camping. He starting shining the light all over and yelling, thank you Propa and Proyia.

    At this point I they told me no girls allowed. I went inside thinking it wouldn't be long before they came in, but I was wrong. They made it all night long and Elijah's only complaint was the Sun was too bright in the morning. 

    <bits of splendor monday
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