Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Counting down to Christmas

Now that my oldest is almost 4, Christmas traditions are in full-swing this year and I am loving it as much as she is!
I wanted to share a fun way we are doing our Advent calendar for the first time this year.  My mom made the adorable, little felt stockings.  I hung them up on the bulletin board in our playroom.  Each stocking holds a red slip of paper with various activities written on them such as....
-Decorate the Christmas tree
-Pray for the child who will receive our Operation Christmas Child shoebox
-Listen to Christmas music all day
-Write and send a Christmas card to Epen
-Drink hot chocolate (with marshmallows) in your Christmas mug
-Make a card for someone you love and send it in the mail
-Build a snowman with Play-Doh
-Find a toy you no longer need and give it to another little boy or girl
-Write a list of 5 things you are thankful for
-Make paper snowflakes
-Attend the holiday program at Mommy's old school
-Let's snuggle up together and read your favorite Christmas book
-Watch a Christmas movie in your pajamas
-Choose a gift from the Compassion Gift Catalog
-Write thank you notes to your Bible study teachers
-Bake a birthday cake for Jesus
-Read the story of Jesus' birth in the Bible
-Drive around and look at Christmas lights
-Decorate Christmas cookies with Mam
-Make a gingerbread house with Grandma
-Wrap presents
-Using your nativity tell us the Christmas story


I'm going to try  my best to write more consistently!  I enjoy writing and it is good for me to make the time to organize my thoughts and reflect on what God is teaching me, but making the time is the most difficult part!  My two Sweeties keep me busy!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Some Thoughts for Moms from Moms

A few months ago I asked my friends, via Facebook, if they would share some words of wisdom for a first-time mom.  I wanted to share these wonderful words with you...


CK: 1.Try to remember to enjoy EVERY moment - good and bad; because it is a "season of life" that will pass faster than you could ever imagine. 2. Write down the cute things that your kids say and do (even the things that they do over and over a million times that you swear you will never forget)...because you WILL forget.

DJ: 1- Trust yourself! You can read and research all you want if there are things you want some insight on, but YOU were MADE to do this, and you can! 2- Decide what would help you most (sometimes that means someone holds the baby while you take a shower or a nap or both, sometimes that means you and the baby hideout while someone does the dishes or makes dinner) and let people help you! 3- Your little one WILL cry and at times there might not be anything you can do about it but endure it. If you need a few minutes to step away and gather yourself, do it!

KT: In little ones, focus less on academics and more on love. I'd rather know a loving, respectful and compassionate adult than a genius. We are raising adults, instill the traits you would want to see in a friend. Academics will come, they will learn, but compassion for others is something not everyone soaks in.

TP: Something that affected me and many friends I know, is feeling great guilt over not being always gushy about being a mother to a newborn. Women make motherhood sound like a bed of roses, but the duties don't always feel that way so the guilt sets in, because you read how happy and gushy everyone is feeling over their child. Please don't get me wrong here, I LOVE my son and would do all of it over again, but the gush isn't in all of the exhausting days and nights. The gush is in an unexplainable connection that God truly blesses a mother with for her child. So my point is, it's normal to feel tired, frustrated or even cranky at times (for me due to extreme lack of sleep), but that doesn't mean that sweet amazing connection is not just as real.

ER: 1) Your baby is a unique individual with unique needs- listen to your baby and try to be sensitive to them. They are just trying to adjust to the outside world the best they can. 2) try to enjoy and savor more and stress less. Anxiety doesn't help anyone

NB: Your kids will have the most time for you from age 0-4. Guard it; it is precious.

AL: Advice for first time moms is simple, make sure before you get stressed, too tired, panic, or frustrated- to take a time out and breathe.  We often get caught in the trap of keeping things so tailored that we miss the silliness in those moments.

RP: 1) Go with your gut. I feel like God gives us mothers that instinct for a reasoning. If something doesn't feel right to you, don't do it no matter how many people "swear" by it! Listening to your baby's needs will never steer you wrong.  2) Enjoy the cuddles as much as you can. The laundry and dishes can wait. Our babies grow up too fast and those moments of snuggles really do end quicker than we would like.

LH: 1. Trust yourself...you will worry yourself sick thinking about the "how will I know's"...."how will I know why he's crying"..."how will I know if he's eaten enough"..."how will I know if he's too warm or too cold"... trust that your instinct is the perfect guide...we were made to do this.
2. Know that you will be tired for years to come, your hairstyle will now be a ponytail and your house will probably not be company ready all the time...but that's ok...you're working hard to raise a child...the other stuff is not a big deal at the end of the day.
3. A sound machine in the nursery is a must have!!!

RG: When you feel overwhelmed remember time flies. One day you’re holding that tiny crying baby and before you realize what's happening you're packing them for college. Time flies.

HD: 1. Nothing will last forever- whether it's the cute little dance they are doing or the sleepless nights. Meaning take lots of pictures and videos because they won't do that "too cute" thing for long and don't stress about the others because they won't last forever. 2. You can do more than you think you can on less sleep then you ever thought you could! 3. If you are a stay at home mommy remember your list will change. I am a checklist person and I had to realize some days my list just consisted of holding and comforting my baby. Feel accomplished everyday as you mold, teach, and love on that sweet baby! You can vacuum when they go off to school.

JL: 1. Just as too many people obsess over a wedding instead of a marriage, don't fixate on the delivery over raising a child to love the Lord. So many people make such a big deal about having the perfect delivery experience...including me. I spent too much energy being devastated over the fact that I had to have a c-section. What does it matter if the healthy baby is in your arms at the end of the day? 2. Trust that the Lord has a special place in his heart for tired mamas. He knows you're exhausted. And he knows your needs. You're stronger than you think you are and can keep going on very little sleep longer than you think you can. 3. Pray! Pray about it all. Give thanks for each little miracle and ask for help for what may seem like the most trivial thing. Then hug that little baby and laugh together!

KK: 1) Extend grace to your children and yourself often 2) Schedules always change - don't get overly excited when the baby finally starts napping well and don't get upset when he wakes up wide-awake at 5am. Each week brings something different and just when you think you've got everything figured out it changes. 3) Get down on your child’s level and talk to them while looking into their eyes throughout the day 4) There isn't a perfect way to raise a child and what works for the first may or may not work with the others. Seek God's guidance for each child above anything you'll read in a book. I feel like I've felt the need to search for the "perfect" answer to the numerous issues we've dealt with instead of first pouring into the Bible and prayer. 5) Every day I look at both of them and marvel at God's handiwork and thank Him for the miracle that they are. Even though I'm weary from an often times defiant toddler and a baby who still doesn't sleep through the night, I feel like God has given me a great perspective - I cherish these fleeting days when they still fit in my arms and I can kiss away any boo-boo. I try to play more, hug more, and listen more. The housework will always be there, but they are growing up so fast and I don't want to look back on this time and feel like I was constantly on the go doing meaningless tasks. 6) Keep your priorities all things unseen (this hangs on our fridge - http://www.aholyexperience.com/.../10-point-manifesto-of...). Yes, the dishes and laundry have to be done, but they should not be my focus. The unseen eternal impact I’m making on my children needs to be my top priority.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Is mothering what I thought it would be? 

Is it what you dreamed the moment you looked into the precious face of your very own baby?

I've thought about this question over the years.  My answer? 

It's more.

More love than I could ever describe.
More potential for sadness and pain than I knew possible.

More smiles and laughter.
More tears.

More "I wish I had my video camera for that moment!"
More "I'm sure glad I didn't catch that on film."

More creativity.
More messes to clean.

More books read.
More pages yet to be turned.

More discoveries of our world through child-like eyes.
More discoveries of who I am and who I desire to be.

More sleepless nights.
More feelings of being needed.

More boo-boos.
More hugs and kisses...even more as they grow taller.

More teachable moments.
More moments I look back on and wish I taught.

More asking forgiveness.
More forgiving.

More grace.
More truth.

More patience.

More fun, play, crafts, outdoor adventures.
More laundry, baths, and dishes.

More questions than answers.

More love and admiration of My Hero as he is a Daddy.
More desire and appreciation in My Hero's eyes as he watches me be a Mama.

More dependency on God.

More joy and thanksgiving for the gift of being a mother...when it's what I imagined and when it isn't.  I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A post worth sharing

This post was such a good reminder and couldn't have come at a better time.

Fill Me Up, Lord

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reaching her heart

After an unusually challenging day with my 3-year old, I went into her room after she fell asleep and gently placed my hand on her back.  Her blonde hair, still wet from a bath, smelled clean and fruity.  Her favorite stuffed bunny was snuggly tucked in under her protective arm.  I reflected back on the day.  With deep sorrow, I realized that the majority of my thoughts and words were directed at her less-than-desirable behaviors.  I felt like I had gotten no where that day.  How do I reach her heart and not solely focus on the behavior?  Feeling defeated I prayed for wisdom.  I knew that I wanted to think of something, right then, that I could do to dwell on and celebrate the many beautiful, noteworthy qualities that truly capture the essence of my precious daughter.  I began thinking about who she really is, at the heart-level.  I wrote down....

You are generous.
You are friendly.
You are my big helper.
You are thoughtful.
You are your brother's best friend.
You give the best hugs.
You are a delight.
You are a hard-worker.
You are an encourager.
You make my heart smile.
You are intelligent.

I then cut out paper hearts, wrote each truth down on a heart, and decorated her door with them as I dreamed about how excited I was for her to find them in the morning.  She did see them first thing the next morning.  I couldn't wait to read each heart to her and then tell her a specific example of when she showed that quality.  The smiles and obvious pride made my heart soar as I knew I was reaching her heart.  She seemed to claim each of these qualities as her own.

The next day or so she took the initiative to pick up toys throughout the entire house while I washed the dishes after dinner.  Getting down on her level I thanked her for being so helpful and reminded her about the heart that says "You are my BIG HELPER."  She smiled.  Then I used that as an opportunity to teach her what the word "responsible" means.  I told her that I wanted to add another heart to her door that says, "You are responsible."  She beamed.

We are now a few weeks out from that night I decorated her door.  I am still seeing huge benefits from this simple idea.  She's learned what it means to be generous, encouraging, diligent, and responsible and she loves finding ways to demonstrate these qualities.  I add hearts to her door every chance I get and I love it when she tells me something she did and what the new heart should say!

Not only has this re-focus been good for her, but also me.  I love finding every opportunity I can to encourage her and reach her on a heart-level.  Of course I still must address the issues that arise, but I don't want to dwell on those and I want to be ready to extend grace and mercy to her.

"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."
~Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Levi's 1st Birthday Party - Time Flies (vintage airplanes)

I'm still trying to grasp the fact that my baby is 1 even though his birthday and party have come and gone!  Still (and will forever be) celebrating his precious little self.

I had SO much fun planning a very special morning for my little guy.  I know he won't remember anything, but he will have these pictures to look at and I hope that every little detail spells love to him. 

Thank you to our dear friends and family who celebrated Levi with us!  We love you!

An in-flight breakfast was served.

The menu:
-blueberry muffins
-apple cinnamon oatmeal pancakes
-buttermilk pancakes
-chocolate chip pancakes
-breakfast casserole cupcakes
-hot drinks

 Bib and airplane shirt made by Tuckeroo's

If you look closely in the top right you can see the airplane flying by!  The kids loved these!  (Thank you Pappy!)

Happiest birthday sweet boy!! 

Party favors - I forgot to take a picture when the basket was full!

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake and Chocolate Butter Cake recipes...moist and delicious!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Celebrating Levi

Our precious Levi,

One year ago we met you face-to-face for the very first time.  An entire year…how is that possible!?  From that point on we have spent each day marveling at you and thanking God for entrusting you to us.  You are a masterpiece and “I sing for joy at the works of His hands” (Psalm 92:4). 

As you grow I love discovering how God created YOU…the only YOU in the entire world!  What elicits those contagious belly-laughs and melt-your-Mama-smiles?  What concerns you or makes you hesitate?  Are you animated, easy-going, observant, or spunky?  Are you silly or more reserved?  This year we’ve learned the answers to those questions, but the answers will change with the passing months.  Embracing who you are in this very moment is what I love most about each and every day.  The way God created you is simply breath-taking, inside and out.

I love you, all of you, my charming son.  I love your captivating crystal-blue eyes that twinkle with each smile.  I see both of your grandfathers in your eyes especially because Mommy and Daddy don’t have a hint of blue in our eyes!  Your silky blonde hair frames your handsome, tan face perfectly.  Your cheeks beckon to be kissed and I love the way my kisses sink into them.  I love when your strong, boy hands grasp my finger.  I love the wonder you have as you patiently observe the world around you.  Then I love watching you try and figure out how something works.  I love how you approach situations cautiously but gain confidence quickly.  I love the fact that you relax quietly in the car, the stroller, or Ergo.  You don’t have to be constantly entertained to enjoy life and I love that quality about you.  Our fast-paced, entertainment-driven world has much to learn from your constant contentment.  I prayed that you would be a cuddly baby and God certainly answered that prayer!  You always melt into my arms before bedtime and throughout the day you crawl into my lap and lay your head on my shoulder whenever you need a hug.  I love how special you make Addison feel.  She loves you and knows that you feel the same way about her.  She can make you laugh more than anyone and she is rightfully proud when she teaches you something new!  I love watching you read books – one of your favorite things to do.  You amaze me with your intelligence.  I love the fact that you are very social and wave and smile at everyone, but you are certain everyone still knows that I am your first choice.  Thank you for loving me back in such an obvious way.  I love cooking for you and watching you enjoy every thing I make (in less than 5 seconds!).  You make me feel like the best chef around!  I have yet to find a food that you won’t eat.  I love how you aren’t afraid to get dirty, crawl around in the grass, and splash in the pool.  You are rough and tumble and all boy.  I love that.  I love YOU.

From the day we found out that you were alive and growing inside of me, Daddy and I have been praying specifically for you, Levi Andrew.  We pray that your life would be a reflection of Jesus….a life that loves and trusts God, strives for integrity, wisdom, courage, and diligence.  We also pray that God’s covenant with Levi (as described in Malachi 2:5-6) would describe your life-“he revered me and stood in awe of my name…true instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips.  He walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.”  God has huge plans and a specific purpose for your life.  I cannot wait to encourage you as that plan is revealed.  Daddy and I are so proud of you and we celebrate every aspect of you.

And speaking of Daddy, are you aware that you have the best Daddy in the world?  He is fun, caring, involved, and loves us so deeply.  However, most importantly he loves Jesus and his life displays His Name.  Daddy is a man of integrity, honor, wisdom, courage, generosity, compassion, gentleness yet strength, and loyalty.  He serves unlike anyone I have ever known.  I pray one day you will become a man who loves and serves his family like Daddy does ours.  You have so much to learn from him.

Happy, happy, happy 1st birthday sweet boy!  I cannot wait for the many adventures we will share this next year!  Always reminding myself that the joy is in the journey so I don't get too sad about you growing up!

All the love I have,


We will celebrate his birthday at his "Time Flies" airplane party!  Can't wait to celebrate this little boy with our friends and family!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Mirrored Closet Doors

I remember the first time My Hero and I walked through the house that has since become our home.  As we made our way to the guest bedrooms I chuckled when I saw the mirrored sliding closet doors.  The highlight of my childhood summers was going to the beach.  We stayed in the same condo for years and the room my sister and I shared had mirrored sliding closet doors.  Every summer, without fail, she and I would stand half-in/half-out of the closet, lift our outside arm and leg up and down while we pretended to be flying.  Laughter from that little room poured into the entire condo.

Once the memories faded and I returned back to the present, I wasn't too excited that those eye-sore doors were going to be in my house.  Beach condo?  Sure.  My home?  Not so sure.  We liked the rest of the house enough that the closet doors weren't a deal-breaker.

Fast forward 5 years and two children later.  Those mirrored doors that I once ignored in hopes that they would disappear have actually become one of my favorite parts of my daughter's room and my son's room.

While I was pregnant with Addison, the closet mirrors proudly showed off my growing baby belly each time I'd linger in her room.  After she was born I remember holding her nestled into my chest, gazing in the mirror and thinking, "The picture I see in this mirror is exactly what I have dreamed of for so long."  Tonight, I snuggled in bed next to my 3 1/2 year old Addison, looked in the mirror, and saw a beautiful, freshly-bathed, blond-haired little girl reading books with her Mommy.  I noticed fingerprints on the mirrors.  How many times have I cleaned those fingerprints that are gradually reaching higher and higher with the passing years?  I thought back to all the times My Hero and I have tickled her, sang to her, and prayed over her each night.  The mirrors give a wonderful perspective into my treasured mothering moments.

After I nursed my little 10 month old Levi this evening I stood up to hold him and sing my favorite "lullaby," God is So Good.  As always, I held him close and swayed back and forth while his heavy head rested on my shoulder and the weight of his jammied baby body molded into me.  I looked to my left and took in the ceiling to floor image displayed on the mirrors.  My sweet, sweet boy.  A year ago I stood in this same spot, looked in the mirrors, and smiled as I saw how he rounded me and filled me.  Now he fills my arms.  His legs fall past my waist and the weight of him is evident by my upper body strength.  My mind raced forward.  I see an adventurous little blond-haired boy skipping rocks across a lake, trying to get his smooth stones to jump farther than Daddy's.  His once "Mama-only" eyes are now enthralled and in awe of his Daddy who is not only My Hero, but has become his too.  I imagine him coming home from soccer practice, sweaty, dirty, and smelly.  In my present moment I wrap my arms around my baby boy a little tighter, feel his velvety soft, smooth skin, and breathe in his Aveeno baby wash heavenly smell.  I envision the handsome face of my 12 year old boy-man fighting to be brave after he gets hurt and the sting and tightening in my throat as I know that a kiss on his “boo boo” won’t make it all better any more.  I see his kind eyes and gentle smile being extended to serve someone and show God's unconditional love in a tangible way.  I will continue to be his greatest cheerleader and encourager but it will be for far grander things than learning how to take his first steps and how to say "ball," "mama," "dada," and that a cow says "moo".  I imagine him proudly sitting behind the wheel of a car the day he gets his license and watching his hand wave goodbye as I slowly walk into the house, get down on my knees, and pray fervently.  I touch his baby hands…so squishy and soft.  They fit in the palm of my hand, but I can tell that he already has big, strong boy-hands.  I hold his hands tight and pray over them.  I can’t imagine this not-even-a-year-old baby of mine leaving for college or falling in love, so I stop my dreaming there and fully return to the present.  I cling to my boy and let the picture the mirror captures burn a forever image into my mind.  Oh this Mama's heart aches as I know one day I won't be able to hold him close and kiss his pillow-cheeks all day long.  One day I'll look in those mirrors and see a completely different image and I know that the present image will always hold an incredibly dear place in my heart.  Yes, the joy is in the journey, but these fleeting days are precious and I love mothering my baby.

Two weeks ago we joined my family for the highlight of the summer: our beach trip.  No, the fancy house we stayed in was not adorned with mirrored sliding closet doors, but that's okay because I have them at home.  One day soon I'll teach Addison and Levi how to fly.  Until then I'll continue holding my babies close and gazing into the images the mirrors reflect day after day.


Yet again, thank you, Mom and Dad, for a perfect week at the beach.  Truly, it was a perfect week.

Blessed beyond measure....