Friday, November 7, 2014

Thank you, Addison

My dear sweet girl,

Thank you for asking me if we could paint today.  You don't think about the mess that will follow, but I do.  Maybe I shouldn't.

Thank you for asking me to play the ABC Letter game with you.  You don't realize that the moment I get your brother in his room for nap time (which unfortunately is usually just "quiet time" at this point, but it isn't very quiet at all...) is my springboard to getting as many items checked off of my to-do list as I can.  But that's ok.  I will make the time to play a game with you because you are more important than any empty checkbox waiting to be marked.

Thank you for inviting me to go on your pretend beach trip.  You know I love the beach, don't you?  Thank you for driving our imaginary car.  You let me sit back and enjoy the scenery.  I'm still amazed that it took us .2 seconds to get there.  :)

Thank you for asking me to dance with you.  You know dancing isn't a part of my daily routine unless you ask me to?  But I always enjoy dancing with you, especially when you smile and copy my movements and then you ask me to imitate you.  You are a better dancer than me.  Always have been.  I love that about you are so care-free and expressive.  You are beautiful, my girl.  I have a lot to learn from you.

Thank you for laughing at something silly that I wouldn't have laughed at if it wasn't for you.

Thank you for watching out for your brother when we went somewhere new.  You took his hand, encouraged him, made sure he was safe, taught him what to do, and never let him out of your sight.  You are the best big sister.  Ever.

Thank you for offering to help me make breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  You have such a servant's heart, and I will welcome your assistance and company any time.  Thank you.

And thank you for hugging my arm and telling me you love me while you were walking next to me at the grocery store.  That means so much to me.  I love you too, with every ounce of my being.  You are a precious treasure to me and Daddy.  You are a ray of sunshine.  God blessed us tremendously with you. 

When you were born I never realized how much YOU would teach me about what it means to become more like Christ.  Thank you for the hard days, the good days, the tiring days, the restful days, the sad days, the happy days, and every day in between.  Each moment of each day requires me to make a I choose to honor Christ with my actions, thoughts, and words?  Being a parent is wonderful, but also very challenging.  Nothing has made me depend on Jesus more and nothing has made me want to teach someone more about Him.

All of my love,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This Season

We've all heard the saying, "The days seem long but the years are short" as it relates to raising children.  With My Hero's schedule, these days can certainly seem very long.  All too easily, I find myself focusing on the exhaustion and messes and the constant desire to be alone for more than 30 seconds.  I am gently reminded that this is a season...even though it seems like some of the less-desirable characteristics of toddlerhood will last forever, they really won't.  This present everydayness of the everyday will soon just be memories.  Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture makes me appreciate even the messes and neediness of my children right now.  It won't be like this for long.


Focusing on the gifts of this present season...

Daddy walks in the door from work.  He's greeted with his little boy's delight, "DADDY!!!  HUG!", and left with a perfect vanilla yogurt handprint on his navy uniform.

An unusual 3:45am "Mama" wake-up cry simply because he wanted to be cuddled and rocked by his Mama and only his Mama.

My sigh of relief come 8:00pm when both of my babies are tucked in bed.

Holding hands across the street.  Feeling that little hand fiercely pull away from mine in an act of independence.  Training them in obedience and smiling as that squishy little hand returns to rest in mine. 

Singing and dancing together and performing a "choreograph" as my daughter requests

Asking, "do you want to go to the playground?" and seeing their obvious excitement by their jumps of joy and squeals. 

Knowing that even the simplest thing can bring the greatest excitement and happiness to their little lives.

Shopping like a crazy lady while they are peacefully eating their cookie from the grocery store bakery.  Fearing what will most certainly happen in approximately 2 minutes....the little one will soon be determined to get out of the shopping cart and the older one will have to go to the bathroom, immediately.

Baby voice saying "Wuv woo Mommy."

Hearing their morning wake up noises on the monitor and praying that God would help me through this day.  Dependence.

Reminding myself that they are young.  So young...less than the fingers on one hand.  What a privilege it is to guide and cheer for them as they grow up.

Photo credit: Mary Anne Morgan Photography

Photo credit: Mary Anne Morgan Photography
Letter magnets splattered across the refrigerator proudly displaying crayon masterpieces.

Inviting them to get the mail with me and bracing and mentally preparing for the resistance that will come when it's time to walk back inside.  A teachable moment (again).

Washing dishes.  Looking up one plate later and finding every couch cushion and pillow thrown across the floor.  Laughter.  Giggles.  Squeals.  A reminder to just let them be kids and have fun.

Remembering that a mess can also be called learning, creativity, and good for the senses. 

Sweeping crumbs, both big and small, after every meal.  We have more than we need.

Waking up very early (or earlier than early) so I can hopefully, maybe, possibly take an uninterrupted shower and dry my hair.  Relying on God for my strength.

Hugs....oh, the tight little-armed squeezes around my neck.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Children: A Gift

Like the vast majority of mothers, I love my children fiercely, unconditionally, and whole-heartedly.  I am not a "crier," but I find myself with tears in my eyes as I marvel at who God has entrusted to My Hero and me.  They are more than an answer to every prayer.

Above all else, children are a GIFT.

It hurts to reflect on the times my selfish lens has taken over and I've viewed my GIFTS as an inconvenience.  The reason my house cannot get clean.  The reason I'm always tired.  The reason I desperately want alone time.

If God gave my daughter to us as a GIFT and my son to us as a GIFT, then how would He desire for me to spend my days unwrapping these one-of-a-kind presents?

I know.  He wants me to marvel and to be overflowing with gratitude and joy.  He wants me to treat them with patience and understanding.  He wants me to use calm, gentle words.  He wants me to make the effort to connect with them on a deep, emotional level.  He wants me to lovingly correct their behavior and teach them about their Maker.

Recently I've been making an intentional effort to interact with my children while viewing them though the lens of a grateful heart for the most precious gifts I could have ever been given...

After singing songs, praying, and cuddling with my sweet boy before bed I hear his happy, toddler voice say, "pees tickcul?"  This is my cue to lean over and kiss his neck over and over until he laughs so hard he needs to catch his breath.  Then he holds out his baby hand and says, "pees tickul?"  Again, I kiss the palm of his hand until I can't help myself but laugh in response to his contagious giggles.  And I think.....God is happy.  He sees me fully loving and ENJOYING the gift He gave me.

I'm pushing my daughter on the swing.  She can pump her thin, long legs all by herself but she still asks me to push her.  I like being needed.  I like talking to her and listening.  We sing songs.  We talk about Who made the birds, blue sky, tall trees and the butterfly that flew by.  And I think....God is happy.  He sees me investing in the gift He gave me, getting to know her heart, and ENJOYING her.

This Mother's Day, I hope that you can join me ENJOYING the gifts God has given us...our children.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Through the Motions

The busier my days become the more I find myself going through the motions....

Bible study....check
tackle my long to-do list...check
do school with my daughter...check

Last week at Bible Study Fellowship, the teaching leader said "who wants to be loved like an item on a checklist?"

The answer: No one.

Not God.  Not my husband.  Not my children.  Not my family.  Not my friends.  No one.

The more I have to do the more I feel like the things I want to do become another item to be checked off.

I've taken a step back today, realizing and noticing what is occupying not only my actions throughout the day but also my mind.  It's easy to do a puzzle with my children while thinking about the work that needs to be done surrounding me.  I re-read this post (Wherever you are, be all there), took a deep breath, and felt myself relax.

I was reminded of Ann's words..."Don't I always have the choice to be fully attentive?  Simplicity is ultimately a matter of focus.  Eucharisteo, eucharisteo.  That keeps the focus simple - sacred."  And later, "Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention... 'Wherever you are, be all there' is only possible in the posture of eucharisteo.  I want to slow down and taste life, give thanks, and see God."

So today, prayerfully, I am slowing down and drinking up the beauty of my days.  I am seeing God.  I won't look back on this time as a blur because it won't be.  My to-do list will be prioritized and accomplished and yet I will be fully present wherever I am. 

I am spending time with God because I long to not because I need to finish today's Bible study lesson. 

I am genuinely engaging in whatever activities my children invite me to play with them.

I am counting gifts.

I am watching him while he sleeps.

I am taking pictures of the everyday-ness of my every day.

I am on the floor playing with my little loves.

We are taking family day-trips to places that feed our souls.

I am viewing this past week with sick babies who can't sleep all night as more opportunities to snuggle and kiss their soft cheeks.

I am putting my phone down.

Today my priorities will be all Things Unseen

I am welcoming the end of naptime.

I won't rely on my own strength.

I will re-read this often , "Glorifying and enjoying Me is a higher priority than maintaining a tidy, structured life.  Give up your striving to keep everything under control- an impossible task and a waste of precious energy." -Sarah Young in Jesus Calling

Monday, January 20, 2014

Addison's Winter Wonderland 4th Birthday Party

Addison says that her favorite season is winter.  Since we probably won't get any snow outside this year, we decided to bring some snow inside!  She was delighted with her Winter Wonderland birthday party! 

Thank you, friends and family, for celebrating our little girl with us!  She felt so loved and it was a very special day!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

New Year, New Word, 2014

A new year brings new excitement, especially as I think about choosing a new word.  It has been amazing to see how God has used each word I've chosen in a unique way over these past several years.  In 2014, My Hero and I are teaming up to gain more wisdom on parenting.  While we rely most heavily on the Bible and promptings from the Holy Spirit as our guide, we are making the time to read several books this year (which will be quite the accomplishment as there is little time in our schedules to actually sit down and read a book!). 

So, my word for 2014: Parent (as in the verb, not the noun)

Here is our bookshelf for the year (we will each read 6-7 books):
 How To Really Love Your Child
Discipline that Connects with Your Child's Heart
The 5 Love Languages of Children
Parenting Your Powerful Child
Give Them Grace
The New Strong-Willed Child
The Ministry of Motherhood OR The Mission of Motherhood
 You Can't Make Me but I Can Be Persuaded
Parenting Isn't for Cowards
Journey of a Strong-Willed Child
Parenting by the Book
Loving Our Kids On Purpose
That's My Girl

We plan to read these in the future:
Shepherding a Child's Heart
Bringing Up Boys
Bringing Up Girls
That's My Son
Intentional Parenting
A Man in the Making


I've started off the year reading "How to Really Love Your Child" by Ross Campbell.  My mom gave me her 1977 copy shortly after My Hero and I became parents.  I enjoyed reading it then, but now that our daughter is 4 I'm finding it much more applicable than it was when she was under 6 months!

Campbell explains, "By our behavior does a child see our love for him.  Our love for a child is conveyed by our behavior toward that child, by what we say and what we do.  ...But what we do carries more weight."

I've been thinking about this statement.  I love my children with a love that I never knew was possible until they were born.  I can't even come close to putting into words how much I adore them and am grateful for them.  Of course they know that I love them because I tell them all of the time and my days are spent loving, serving, and playing with them.  But what things do I DO on a daily basis make THEM feel loved?  I am sure my answer to this question is often different than their response.

Is there a disconnect between how I'm showing them love and whether or not they feel unconditionally loved?

In light of this, I've started asking my 4 year old daughter this simple question at the end of each day,

 "What did Mommy do today that made you feel loved?" 

 Her responses have given me a glimpse into her precious heart.  More often than not she has said exactly what I thought she would say, or what I hoped I did that day to convey my love.  I will be reading "The 5 Love Languages of  Children" next and I'm anxious to learn even more ways I can communicate my love to each of my children most effectively.