Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. The Potty Training Chronicles: Lucy stayed dry every night for a week, then the past two nights has woken up absolutely drenched again. Frustrating.

2. It's actually been a horrible week of sleep around here. Not only have I been changing bedding and pajamas in the middle of the night, I've been up with Lena multiple times every night. I really think she's getting some teeth. (Finally - she still only has the bottom two.) Her top eye teeth are raised and white but have yet to poke through. Come on, teeth! Just pop out and get it over with!!

3. We heat our house with an outdoor wood burner. All spring, summer, and fall my dad gathers, cuts, and stacks wood like the hardworking ant. But this year, thanks to our especially long, cold, brutal winter we're out of wood! We're gonna have to start burning our furniture if we want to stay warm! Fortunately, we have an indoor fireplace, but the heat doesn't reach upstairs in our bedrooms. Also fortunately, our barn fell down in a windstorm a few years ago, so Dad spent today chopping up some of that wood to get us by. Moral of the story: hurry up, spring!!!!! (And thanks, Dad, for working hard to keep us warm!)

4. I tried to make this breakfast pizza this week. 

Apparently crescent rolls go bad, though. I popped open a really old can and they all crumbled in a heap and smelled atrocious. So I threw the eggs, sausage, cheese, and hashbrowns in a pan, scrambled the eggs, then let them cook on the stove for 10 minutes. Accidental quiche! I was so proud of myself for improvising. I don't usually deviate from recipes. Haha. 

5. After reading that book last week I decided I want to be more intentional about placing scripture around the house - both to encourage me and to be something my girls grow up seeing and reading. It seems weird because it's not really my house to decorate, but I seriously doubt my parents will mind if I put a few Bible verses on the walls. I've been scouring Pinterest and found some awesome inspiration. Plus I actually made a couple myself in picmonkey. Not nearly as creative as the ones on Pinterest, but not bad for a novice. Now I just have to wait for some good shutterfly deals or something so I can get them printed!

This one isn't a Bible verse, but is still encouraging . . .

This is actually one of Lucy's drawings that I scanned onto the computer.

6. I decided to get back on the weight loss bandwagon. Ugh. I really don't want to, but I really need to. I've been having tummy troubles for two weeks and I've finally decided it's because my diet consists of purely sugar, carbs, and cheese. I realized this week that I only have one pair of jeans that fit. And, the piece de resistance: my mom is on a diet and weighs less than me for the first time in my life. Not okay. Haha. Anyway, I've never exercised a day in my life (other than the failed Couch to 5K venture of 2013), so I need to start slow. I found this on Pinterest and thought it looked doable. 

I did it yesterday and my stomach did not look like that afterward. Did I do it wrong? ;-) Seriously, though, I physically could not do a push up or sit up. I have no arm muscles and my core is completely destroyed after two pregnancies. So I did girl push ups and 20 crunches instead. And don't even get me started on the jumping jacks. Not the same since giving birth. :-/ Ugh. I'm not cut out for this exercise thing. 

7. It's almost the end of March, and our budget is pretty abysmal. I kept track of every cent we spent this month. It's very depressing. So far we've spent $131 more than what we made this month. Blurg. Gonna have to make sure not to spend any money between now and Monday (the 31st). It was good to see where all the money goes, though. I only went $3.27 over my grocery budget. That surprised me. I was also surprised to have over $80 left in the gas budget. Justin's new car takes seriously less gas than his old one did. But then there's the unbudgeted stuff: $77 in fast food and gas station snacks! $50 in gifts (pre-buying for Easter and Lucy's birthday, plus one small birthday gift for a friend). Stupid stuff like haircuts and prescriptions and a new bathroom scale.  Maybe next month will be better . . .

Friday, March 28, 2014

David, Goliath, Marshmallows, and Pizza

This week, we got back on the Bible Lesson bandwagon, and learned about David:

First we talked about David's occupation as a shepherd (and discussed a little bit how Jesus is like a shepherd too). I utilized one of Sally Clarkson's suggestions from The Mission of Motherhood and let Lucy work on the sheep craft while I read the story. Usually I make her listen to the story before beginning the craft, but she listened so much better when she had something to keep her occupied (gluing cotton balls to a sheep outline).

Lena got in on the action too. That white stuff above her lip isn't snot - it's glued on cotton. Haha. 
The Jesus Storybook Bible has a good story about how God chose David to be King over all his taller, stronger brothers, so we read that while Lucy worked on her sheep. Then we talked about how we don't have to be the fastest or tallest or strongest or prettiest or coolest. We only have to love Jesus to be used by him. And God chose David because he loved Him. I pulled out my stellar drawing skillz to make this picture of David and his brothers:

I had Lucy arrange them from tallest to smallest (which was actually a lot harder for her than I thought it would be), then asked her which one David was. She picked the smallest and we crowned him King. (P.S. I know David had 6 brothers. I didn't have room on my piece of paper. Haha.)

The next day, we started in on David and Goliath. I found a wealth of inspiration on Pinterest (including this post which really got my wheels turning).

I knew I wanted to illustrate for Lucy how big Goliath really was, so we rolled out the kraft paper, measured 9 feet with a tape measure, then drew a very formidable giant. We taped it with painter's tape to the wall in the dining room (the only room in the house with a tall enough ceiling - haha).
I couldn't back up far enough to get a very good picture. 
We each stood by Goliath and measured ourselves against his height. Lucy couldn't believe she only came up to his knees! As soon as Daddy got home from work, she insisted we measure him too.

We had a good talk about how David was small, but God gave him courage and boldness. I pointed out that all David's bigger, stronger brothers were too afraid to fight Goliath, but God used David even though he was little. And God can use us no matter how big or smart we are (or aren't). Then came the best part:

I told Lucy to find something to serve as her shepherd's pouch. (The link I shared above has an idea to make your own, but we're definitely not that crafty and have a plethora of bags lying around anyway.) Then I spread a bunch of "stones" (marshmallows) out on the table. I told Lucy to pick 5 stones and throw them at Goliath!
She loved it!
I let her eat the first five marshmallows, then she threw the rest of the bag at Goliath. Lena was happy to serve as the catcher:
Happy giant-slayers. :-)
I also found this cool David and Goliath maze for Lucy to do after the marshmallows had all been eaten by Lena picked up.

She's been obsessed with mazes lately, so I was excited to find this website with a bunch of Bible themed ones. She actually zipped through the first two "easy" ones so quickly, I printed off a "hard" one. She said, "This one is tricky!" but she finished it in less than 30 seconds!

We finished our lesson today with a viewing of Veggie Tales' Dave and the Giant Pickle. In the movie, Dave brings his brothers pizza for lunch. We figured it was only appropriate that we have pizza as well.

When we prayed for our lunch I thanked God for giving David courage and helping him to do big things even though he was little. Afterward, Lucy said, "Were David and Goliath real?" Wow. Parenting fail. Apparently she thinks I've just been teaching her fun fictional stories. We talked about how all the stories in the Bible actually happened and the people were real. I did clarify, however, that Goliath wasn't really a giant pickle. He was a giant man. Haha.

Our verse for the week was Philippians 4:13, "I can do everything by the power of Christ. He gives me strength." (NIRV)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Mission of Motherhood: Part 3

This is the conclusion of my series on Sally Clarkson's The Mission of Motherhood.

Part One
Part Two

The last part of Clarkson's book is titled "A Mother's Heart for her Children." She touches on being available for your kids, showing them unconditional love, and giving them affirmation and encouragement. But the part I liked the most was on giving them grace. This is kind of a trendy topic lately, and something my friends and I have talked a lot about. I have this book in my (virtual) "to read" pile:

Anyway, Clarkson wrote her book before this concept was trendy and I loved what she had to say. This was my favorite part, and so eye opening for me:
"One day, when my children were young, I was more frustrated than usual with the chronic messes around the house. I said to Clay, 'It seems like our training makes no difference . . . How many times am I going to have to tell them to pick up after themselves?' Clay gently responded, 'Honey, how old were you when you quit sinning? That's how old they will be when they learn to obey us perfectly!'" (133-134) 

I also loved her ideas for showing our children how to build loving relationships.
"Relational training involves teaching our children the value of honor - giving worth to another person . . . It often involves learning to reach out to others in practical, thoughtful ways and teaching them to be good friends. I have often said to my children, 'It is natural to be selfish, but it is supernatural to be kind and loving.'" (135)
Clarkson gives a bunch of ideas for how to practically show love to those around us - from our own family members to the homeless guy on the street. She points out that "Every day offers countless opportunities to teach thoughtfulness and compassion." (135)

On the topic of service, I enjoyed this passage:
"The home is a natural place to teach habits of seeing and serving. Encouraging a small child to take a cold drink to Dad when he is moving the lawn on a hot day is helping to establish a pattern of thinking about the needs of others and responding." (206) 
This is such an important skill that has been modeled for me thousands of time by my servant-hearted dad, but something I think most kids today don't see very often. Clarkson goes on to say, "Our children need to see us reaching out in love, and they need to be included in our acts of service." (207) Again, she gives many examples of how we can serve as families - including the ever controversial giving money to the homeless. Clarkson admits that it is important to have discretion, but she also says "I believe we will be judged more by our compassion and our willingness to give than by our caution and circumspection." (211) And she adds, "I would rather my children see me err in giving too much than to let caution be an excuse for callousness." (211) Such a convicting reminder. [Interestingly enough, I just read about generosity in my devotions a couple nights ago. (Proverbs 11:24-26)]

One part that was especially convicting to me came toward the end. Clarkson talks about how children learn about service and relationships by watching what their parents model. This can be a good thing, but it can also draw attention to the hypocrisy in our hearts. This story really resonated with me:
"We go to church as a family and listen to a sermon. On the way home from church we might comment to the kids, 'That was a great sermon . . . God really has called us to share our faith.' Often the parent fails to take the initiative to share his faith . . . or do whatever the pastor was recommending. The children then learn from their parents that it doesn't really matter if you obey God by actually doing good works. It only matters if you can articulate what you should do." (203)
Ouch. This is something I tend to be guilty of. In my quest to constantly be talking about the Bible and God and taking advantage of those "teachable moments" I worry my walk doesn't always match my talk. And Lucy's bound to notice soon!

Clarkson includes a few chapters on exposing our kids to culture, to good art and music and the joys of nature. I didn't identify as strongly with those chapters. Haha. Call me a country bumpkin, but I don't think it's spiritually pressing that our kids travel the world or listen to Beethoven. I was also a little bit irritated by her suggestion that it's financially feasible for the average Joe. There are countless stories throughout this book about their family road trips and their cross-country moves. She and her husband are both writers and speakers, so that works well for their lifestyles. Justin gets 2 weeks of vacation and we barely make enough money to pay our bills every month. We can't go jetting off across the nation to expose our kids to the wonders of the world. Maybe we'll just check some books out from the library about exciting places and historical monuments. Haha.

Anyway, she wraps up the book with an admonition for mothers to keep pressing on and to remember that "His strength is perfected in my weakness." I think I'm going to print that verse somewhere to place visibly as a reminder in my house. I was also encouraged by this passage:
"The Lord would encourage me to trust him, to wait on him and give him time to work, to hold on to his promises, to not compromise my convictions, to persist in my love and my prayers for the little ones he entrusted to my care." (228)
And, she cautions us, it's important to remember what we're fighting for. "When we understand Satan's plan to steal what belongs to God, we can recognize that one of our greatest tasks in regard to our children is to be a spiritual warrior for their souls." (229)

At the beginning of the book, Clarkson called mothers to "intentional parenting." She closes it by reminding us to hold onto the vision we have for our children - the vision we have for ourselves as mothers. To remember the reason we strive to be selfless, the reason we work so hard to point them to Jesus, the reason we don't just let them watch TV all day or tear each other's hair out instead of intervening in their arguments.
"In my own life, I know that what kept me going through thick and thin (besides God's grace) was this clear picture in my heart of what I wanted to attain. I nurtured this vision in my heart. I read books that undergirded it. I prayed through Scripture that encouraged me in my conviction. Whenever possible, I shared it with others, and I found that the act of passing along my vision helped solidify it in my heart." (225)
That last sentence is the reason I did this whole series on my reaction to her book. The more I study it and think about it and try to regurgitate it in a way that makes sense to others who haven't read it, the more I "solidify it in my heart."

A short word of caution if you're thinking about buying this book for yourself: I found Sally a little cheesy. I had a hard time relating to some of her stories about her kids because they seemed so perfect and scripted. Maybe that's how other families interact. I just can't imagine that ever happening in my life. Haha. She's obsessed with tea time and back rubs and sweet little notes - things that just seem cheesy to me. But aside from that, the book is full of useful ideas, practical applications, and scriptural wisdom. I highly recommend it! Thanks for sticking with me through my long-windedness to the end of my review!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Mission of Motherhood: Part 2

This post is a continuation of my thoughts on Sally Clarkson's The Mission of Motherhood. To see part one, click here

Part 2: Discipline and Teaching

I love reading about Biblical discipline techniques. I was raised a certain way and my sister (who I model much of my parenting after) parents largely the way we were raised. So I love hearing new ideas that I wouldn't have come up with by myself. 

I love how Clarkson started her chapter on discipline:
"I don't just want my kids to be moral. I don't just want them to know all of the biblical rules for behavior . . . I want them to leave my home with a hunger and passion to know God personally . . . I want them to personally hear God's voice and have his Spirit's gentle touch and impression on their hearts as they read the Scriptures and struggle with the issues of their lives." (82)
This is something I've always struggled with. I grew up in a Christian home, school, church, community. I know all the right answers. I like the rules and knowing what's expected of me. I feel righteous when I follow the rules. But I've always struggled with what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I somehow want to raise my kids to value the rules and obedience but not become little Pharisees!

Clarkson shared this quote which I'd never heard before, but was a huge eye-opener for me: "Christians are like people who are trying to straighten the picture on the wall while the house is burning down!" (81) We're so busy correcting our kids' behavior, we forget the big picture of pointing them to Jesus. Clarkson says, "Isn't that what we as mothers are tempted to do - to waste our energies trying to meet external standards while our children's deep spiritual needs go unmet and unnoticed?" (81)

Of course my big question (which is scribbled in the margins many times throughout this book) is "how?!" Never fear, Clarkson has lots of practical advice. But she prefaces it with this thought: "All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack." (83) Whew! That's a relief. I've got the first part down. I truly desire to serve him by raising my girls to know him. But I definitely need to remember that he doesn't expect me to do it on my own. He will use my efforts and fill in the gaps.

Clarkson's first suggestion for teaching and disciplining our children is simply to be with them. She explains that Jesus didn't just have weekly Bible studies with his disciples, he was with them all day every day, teaching them at every opportunity. This is something my sister is really good at - finding teachable moments throughout the day to point our kids to Jesus. And she points out Deuteronomy 6:6-9 reminding us that "[God] wants us not only to think about Jesus but to obey him and to speak of him often in our homes." (116 - emphasis mine)

I thought this passage was interesting. I'm not sure I totally agree, but it's something I hadn't really considered before:
"I have also tried to give my children sheltered and protected time at home during which they can become attached to their siblings and parents. Choosing to spend lots of family time together has given my children a close relationship with their siblings. Time together in our home, practicing our standards, has underlined these principles in their daily lives." (94)
She's not proposing we become hermits. She's just suggesting that in our fast paced, sign up for all extra-curricular activities, go home only to sleep society that we make a conscious effort to spend more time at home together building relationships and modeling Christian behavior. Interesting.

Of course before we practice the standards she discusses in the above quote, we have to make those standards clear to our children. This is something I've kind of already done with Lucy (as seen here). We made a list of 4 family rules to serve as a reminder of what's acceptable and what's not. Of course Clarkson and her husband are way better parents than we are and have a list called "The Twenty Four Ways." She shares it in an appendix in the back of the book. They're really great rules that I will definitely start to incorporate as Lucy gets older. I don't think she can handle much more than our 4 broad ones right now. I liked how Clarkson used the rules [ways] to reiterate the values that were important in her family as her kids were growing up.
"If one child hit another or spoke rudely or took away a toy, we would say, 'In our home we love one another and treat each other with respect. You may not talk to your sister that way. Please apologize to her. What is our family way?'" (91)
Talking like that does not come naturally to me, but it's something I'm working on.

I also appreciated her thoughts on family devotions. This can become such a legalistic, ritualistic, meaningless tradition if not done correctly. And especially when kids are little, it seems like it's more of an exercise in wrestling them to sit still than it is a meaningful time of teaching. Clarkson shares in that frustration and shares this idea:
"Over a period of time, though, I began to find other ways of establishing devotional times that really got through to our children . . . I shared with them a dramatic story beginning with their names: 'Sarah, imagine what you would do if a giant came to attack our country and you were the only one who could rescue us! Well that happened to a little boy named David many years ago!' If I cuddled up my children on the couch and had grapes or cheese and crackers to eat, they would pay rapt attention while I read Bible stories . . . Often I would give them markers and paper and let them draw while I read." (89)
I also thought this was a pretty good idea for older kids, although I doubt all of you will appreciate it. ;-)
"Next we began to show the kids how to use the concordance in their Bibles to study topics that were relevant to their own lives. For instance, when they were caught in immature arguments, I would have them look for three verses that addressed the issue of how to speak to others or the dangers of an uncontrolled tongue. Then I would have them write a paragraph about how these verses applied to the situation . . . By learning to search through the Bible for themselves, they became familiar with using it to give instruction for their life questions and issues." (106)
Honestly, she has so many ideas for how to teach your kids how to read, memorize, and apply the Bible - giving them the tools to make their faith their own. I really loved these chapters and could share so many more of my underlined passages, but I've written way too much already! I'll probably have one or two more parts to my series on this book, but really you should just read it for yourself. ;-)  And no, I don't get paid to say that, though I wish I did. I really need to figure out how to make money off my links and recommendations . . .

{Part 3}

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Mission of Motherhood

I bought Sally Clarkson's The Mission of Motherhood used for $3 on Amazon after seeing it recommended by one of my favorite bloggers (Jess Connell).  It took me a few months to actually pick it up and read it, but I'm so glad I did.

I'm going to break my notes down into a few different posts so as not to overwhelm you. Suffice it to stay I underlined half the book and have a lot to share. :-)

Part One

Clarkson is a huge proponent of "intentional parenting." This is something I've been working on for a while - having a plan and purpose, not just parenting mindlessly. She says, " ...being a mother is a full-time job . . . It is a responsibility that rightly commands our primary attention and calls for an intentional commitment" (49).

If nothing else, what I took away from this book was the call to selfless mothering. To setting aside my desires and selfishness to be present in my girls' lives. Clarkson uses the verse Romans 12:1 to remind us that we are to be living sacrifices. I loved how she relates this to mothering.
"How do we make the commitment to give the area of motherhood over to God as a sacrifice of worship to him? We yield our personal rights . . . we give up our time and expectations to him - and also our fears and worries about how we will manage. We trust him to take care of us and our family. We let him redirect our thinking and expectations and adjust our dreams. And we wait in faith to see the fruit of our hard labor . . ." (54)
Clarkson explains that by deciding ahead of time to be selfless, we are less likely to be ruffled by inconveniences. "I will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment" (67).  It's true that I'm less likely to be annoyed when Lucy asks for a drink if I'm sitting next to her playing than I would be if I was busy scrolling through facebook.

Later on in the chapter, Clarkson talks about a realization she had that strongly echoes my own thoughts of late: "God did not want me to resent my children for taking up my time. Neither did he want me to make them feel guilty for the sacrifices I had made on their behalf" (69). And a few pages later, she sums up so much of how I've been feeling for the past year: "I struggled irrationally with their demands and then felt guilty for struggling" (71). Her point is that we need to decide to be selfless instead of constantly trying to hold onto our selfishness and be a loving, involved mom.

One of the things I love about this book are the practical applications at the end of each chapter. At the end of the chapter on "The Servant Mother" Clarkson gives this suggestion:
"Make a list of some things your children like you to do with them but aren't necessarily fun for you - playing a board game on the floor with a young child, going outside to throw a ball . . . and so on. Commit to saying yes to their responses instead of no, knowing that if you invest in what is important to them, they will be open to believing in what is important to you." (77)
I tried this today. I fell asleep on the couch during Lena's morning nap and let Lucy watch "Frozen" in its entirety. So I felt horribly guilty upon waking up at 10:00 and realizing how pathetic I was. I decided to spend the rest of the day saying "yes" to Lucy. (Within reason.) All she wants to do is play "house and school." All day, every day. It drives. me. crazy. I want to play board games or do puzzles or read books - something with a concrete beginning and end. Something with some sort of purpose. She wants to just play the same pretend scenarios a thousand times. So we played for hours today. Honestly, by 7:00, I told Justin I needed some alone time and retreated to my bedroom. Haha. Maybe it takes practice. Or maybe I should scale back on letting her dictate everything and throw in a few structured activities here and there - for my own sanity. But I feel so much better about the time we spent together than I would have if I'd spent the day browsing Pinterest or scrubbing my floors. And Lucy feels loved. I can give up my selfishness once in a while for that, can't I?

Stay tuned for the rest of the notes on The Mission of Motherhood . . .

{Part 2} {Part 3}

The [Super Long] Saturday 7

1. I filled out two March Madness brackets this year. In one of them, I'm tied for first (go Villanova!). In the other, I'm in 6th out of 7. Haha. (Go Louisville!) I predicted the Dayton upset, but none of the others. (Seriously, Duke??) I don't follow basketball the rest of the year, and I only pick Villanova because they have a cool name. (Gonzaga also makes it far in my brackets. Haha.) I mostly just like competing against my friends and siblings in the bracket challenges. :-) (Especially when I'm winning!) 

2. I bought Lucy the movie Frozen as a pre-release from Amazon. It came on Tuesday and I hid it away to save for her Easter basket. That same day we went to Niki's house just as she was getting home from Meijer. She pulled out the Frozen movie she had just bought and said, "Lucy, look what I bought! It came with two discs. Do you want to borrow one?" Haha. So we've been watching Frozen practically on repeat. Lucy can literally quote most of it already. And we found the soundtrack on Spotify, so we've been listening to the songs when we're not watching the movie. Frozen overload! She better still be excited to get her own copy in a month! 

3. Lena has perfected the word "no" this week. She's known it for a while, but suddenly understands how to use it in context. She says it loudly and emphatically. Lovely.

4. At the beginning of this year Justin and I committed to having a monthly date night. I'm done breastfeeding, my parents are always willing to babysit (for free!), and we got a great deal on an Entertainment Book, so we don't really have an excuse not to make time for each other. Yesterday was his day off, so we decided to have a date "day." We went to the very exciting Ultimate Sport Show in downtown Grand Rapids. (Using our buy one admission get one free coupon from the Entertainment book.) We saw some lovely taxidermy, some live fish in a huge pool, about a million fishing poles and lures, and more old men in overalls and camo than I've ever seen in one place before. Haha. The highlight for me was the free samples of jerky. I liked them all - beef, turkey, chicken, elk, pheasant. Yum. We were there for almost three hours. 

5. After the sport show, we picked the girls up and went back to GR to see the butterflies at the Meijer Gardens. 
Lucy ran through the greenhouse, pointed out a couple butterflies and said, "Ok, let's go!" Lena started sweating immediately and seemed confused and unsure. Haha. Once she got used to it though, I think she enjoyed watching the butterflies flit around. 

We went outside for a couple minutes to let Lena cool down and to take a picture in front of this sign.

Afterward, we went across the street to Justin's grandparents' house for dinner. I love them so much. They love our girls so much and are just the sweetest, most generous people ever. Grandma is also an amazing cook and stuffed us full of food. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

6. Here are a few of the articles I read this week:

Stay at Home Moms Need Hired Help - sign me up!

Are Visits to Heaven For Real?- I've always been skeptical of people claiming to have died and gone to Heaven. The author of this article says that most people's accounts of heaven are completely narcissistic - focusing on how they felt, the good things they saw, the people they were reunited with - not the overwhelming, powerful, all-consuming glory of God. He goes on to point out that the Bible does not have a single account of someone going to Heaven and returning to earth. There are a handful of men who had visions of Heaven, but "All of them focused properly on God’s glory. They also mentioned their own fear and shame in the presence of such glory." Interesting.

9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help our Kids - This one went viral on facebook this week. I loved it. Here are some of my favorite parts:

"Overspending: I think it’s good for our kids to hear us say, “We can’t afford that” Or “We will have to save for it.” Because that’s real life." -- I just read an article in Parents magazine that says we should never say this to our kids. I disagree. I think it's good for them to realize Mom and Dad aren't money trees and we have to work hard to make money to buy things.

"Making our day-week-month, our world about our kids" -- Interesting, considering the discussions on my facebook page about my thoughts on the Mission of Motherhood. (More on that later.)

"The desire to make our children happy (all the time). If you visited my house, you’d find out pretty quickly that someone’s always unhappy. It’s not our job to keep our kids happy. Don’t carry that impossible burden." -- Amen!

Say Yes - another interesting one considering my recent reading.

7. I really appreciated the response to my recent blog post about The Mission of Motherhood. I wrote a lot about being selfless, but confessed that my day of selflessness (and letting Lucy direct our play all day) made me feel a little crazy. Haha. My friends had so much to say about finding the balance between giving of ourselves to our kids and not letting them think they're the center of the universe. 

Laura said, "When I'm not paying attention to my kids because I want to mindlessly browse fb, I'm probably doing something wrong, and the accompanying guilt confirms that. When I tell my kids I can't play right now because I'm making dinner or something similar-for the good of the whole family-that's different." 

Cara added, "There is SO much value in teaching our kids to be independent and not need constant reinforcement and also in seeing that we have other interests and things we need to do but also things we want to do! I guess I don't fall into the whole selfless camp -- I don't actually want my girl especially to see my role as mom as all about her and [her brother]. I want her to see that I love to do other things as well and enjoy spending time with my friends and need (and love) to talk to [my husband] without her interrupting . . ."

I do think it's important to model selflessness for our kids (although they probably won't even recognize it as that until they're much older). Selflessness isn't important just because we're moms, but because we're Christians following in Jesus' footsteps. Selflessness is a huge building block of active faith. But it's also healthy and important for our kids to be told no or "not right now" and to be able to entertain themselves. 

Whew! That was wicked long! Thanks for hanging on to the end!! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. I recently joined a facebook group about being a healthy, fit mom. Since I stopped breastfeeding I've noticed my jeans are getting a little tight. I'm about 15 pounds over my healthy weight. But I'm not sure I'm really ready to commit to eating healthy or working out. Haha. I like to stalk the people on facebook doing their workouts and eating their healthy food while I sit on the couch eating cookies and drinking 32 oz. Dr Peppers. I've got problems.

2. Last weekend we ran out of overnight diapers for Lucy. She has been totally day-time potty trained for almost 2 years and yet she continues to completely drench her diaper at night. For a long time I just thought she wasn't ready physically, but I finally decided to test it and see how much of it was willful. The first night she slept all night and woke up dry!! I couldn't believe it! Since then we've had 2 more dry nights and 3 nights of Lucy appearing next to my bed in the middle of the night whispering "Mommy, I went potty in my undies." Needless to say, I've been doing a lot of laundry. But we're going to keep chugging along and hope it clicks soon!

3. I've been working on Lucy's abominable eating habits again. I made her eat our dinner a couple nights this week. She surprised me by actually taking a few bites instead of flat out refusing to eat anything. And I discovered a new meal to add to her limited repertoire: pickle wraps without the pickles. Haha. Lena, on the other hand, continues to eat pretty much anything I give her. This week, I bought those squeezable fruit/veggie things for the first time. 
Like this, only the Meijer brand.
I was really hoping it'd be a way to get some vegetables in Lucy, but she completely refused to try them. Lena, however, is obsessed with them, and would eat about 14 a day if I would let her. 

4. I think this was the only article I read this week. It's about America's ungodly obsession with sports. This is one of those articles that is easy for me to share because it was not at all convicting for me. Haha. I hate sports. I'm not looking forward to my kids playing sports. I have no desire to be a soccer mom. I never played high school sports of any kind. At my tiny Christian school, the way to be cool was by being an athlete. You can imagine where I fell on the coolness spectrum, then. So I've always kind of resented sports. (Which is ironic, considering who I married.) I do understand that playing sports has value. It teaches discipline and teamwork and probably a whole bunch of other buzzwords. I do want my girls to play sports so that they can enjoy the camaraderie and built-in friendships of a team, and so that as they get older they can have a physical activity they enjoy so they're not total couch potatoes like me. But America's obsession with professional sports is so out of control. I saw something on pinterest once that said something to the effect of "It's amazing how a guy carrying a pig's bladder receives more money and recognition than the soldier risking his life in Afghanistan." Seriously.

5. I realized recently that next year (2015) is going to be a big year for our family. Justin and I will both turn 30, we'll celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (yes, we were young when we got married - haha), and . . . *sob* . . . Lucy will start Kindergarten!!! It's been a good realization for me. I'm horrified at the thought of her being away from me all day, so I've been trying to remember to cherish our moments together. (And no, I'm not horrified enough to consider homeschooling. Lol.)

6. I bought myself a book called The Mission of Motherhood (by Sally Clarkson) three months ago and just finally started reading it this week. I really like it. It has a lot of practical advice and ideas. This is one of my favorite lines: "All that God desires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up the difference for the things we lack." (pg 83) I feel like I lack a lot. I feel like I'm totally inept most of the time. One of our biggest struggles is Lucy's fits. She's so moody and sensitive. Everything sets her off. And I don't know how to handle it. I never give in to her desires. I think that's the most important step. But she will cry and wail and throw herself on the floor or stomp away screaming "you ruined my life!" Her fits last forever. I'm not against her showing some emotion, but I don't think it's appropriate for her to react so strongly and carry on so long. I don't know how to make her stop, though. I've tried spanking her - it just makes the screaming and crying worse. I've tried putting her in time out - she screams and cries in time out. I've tried taking away privileges. You can imagine how well that stops the crying. Ugh. I'm open to reasonable suggestions. 

7. I've noticed a few of my friends making "30 Before 30 Bucket Lists" and I was thinking about what I'd put on mine if I were to do one. When Justin and I were first married, I originally planned on being done having kids by the time I was 30. But that would mean having a baby next year. Whoa. Not ready for that. Also not sure I'm ready to be done after the next kid. I'm really hoping I do someday feel an overwhelming urge to be done. A lot of my friends have had babies recently and I'm remembering how much I loved giving birth and how much I love that newborn phase. I'm going to need to have like 30 babies. I can't imagine never doing that again!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wandering and Whining

I'm reading Numbers and need to write this stuff out to make it clear in my head. No one reads these posts if I don't link them to facebook, so I'm just going to ramble. If you happen to read it and have any insight, feel free to share. :-)

The Israelites have been freed from 400 years of slavery. They should be happy, right? We have been freed from sin through the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. We should be happy, right?

They're stuck in the desert though, and starving. We have to live our lives out on earth and have needs.

God meets their need and provides manna - a daily miracle.

God meets our daily needs as well. (Give us this day our daily bread.)

They get sick of the manna and cry for meat. Honesty card: I'd cry for something besides manna too. I don't even like eating leftovers from last night's dinner. The same thing every single day for years? Yikes. I'd be whining.

God gets MAD. Why? Because they're not happy with his provisions? Because they're asking for more? Does God get mad when we ask for more? When we're not happy with the basic necessities he's given us? Should I not pray for Justin to get a better job? Should I not pray for a vehicle that runs consistently? Honest questions. What about "Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you." (Matt. 7:7) Is that strictly about salvation? What about "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?" (Matt.7:11) What about "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine . . ." (Eph. 3:20)

God gives them what they want in the form of a sea of quail. But "while the meat was still between their teeth" his anger resurges and he sends a plague, killing many of them.

Does God give us what we want - what we perceive as blessings - but silently seethe? Are curses soon to follow?

In the following chapter God's anger burns against Miriam and he strikes her with leprosy. Moses mediates for her and her "sentence" is lessened to 7 days living outside the camp. Is that the key here? Our mediator has already come. He's taken God's burning anger once and for all. That's a relief, but I still don't want to displease God. God's character never changes. Do the things that made him mad in the Old Testament still make him mad today?

Should we be content with the blessings we've been given - with our daily bread - and consider any other blessings an added bonus? Or should we "approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Heb. 4:16) Maybe I should just be praying for mercy and grace instead of material blessings.

One more thought: maybe God wasn't angered by their desire for something more. Maybe he was just angered by the whining. Instead of saying, "God can we please have something besides manna" they said, "Why do you torment us by giving us the same thing over and over? It would have been better to stay in Egypt where we had meat to eat."

That'd be like me saying "I wish I'd never accepted your gift of salvation. I wish I'd stayed a sinner so I could keep doing all the sinful things that felt so good." Maybe he was angry that they cheapened his gift and forgot what he had saved them from. Now I think we're getting somewhere . . .

It's amazing how writing this all out clarifies so much. (Or maybe that's the work of the Holy Spirit . . .)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. I tried making roasted chickpeas this week. The internet raves about them and calls them a fantastic replacement for chips. The internet lies. They were disgusting. Mealy and disgusting. Fail. I'm going to try kale chips next.

2. I did pretty well with eating vegetables this week. Mostly carrots and spinach. I've been putting spinach in everything because it's so tasteless. I put it in pasta, in sandwiches, salads, etc. I also made dinner every night this week and tried to make sure it included vegetables every time. I really wanted to make roasted Brussels sprouts one night. Justin's mom makes them all the time and I love them. But I couldn't bring myself to pay $3 for 15 little sprouts at Meijer! Maybe I'll have to try frozen.

3. One of the meals I made was homemade chicken fried rice. It was so easy and yummy!
I am so NOT a photographer.
4. Last night Justin and I went on a date. We still had a Celebration Cinema gift card from Christmas, so we decided to go see a movie. The only thing that wasn't rated R and looked semi-interesting was Catching Fire. (At the cheap theater.) I'd never seen the first Hunger Games because that's totally not my thing. But for Justin's sake I looked it up on Netflix and watched it real quick. I actually really liked Catching Fire.  Now I feel the need to read the books so I can find out what happens!! 

5. Of course both Lucy and Lena were screaming as we left the house. Lucy was actually crying, "Mommy, don't leave me!" Ugh. I hate it. And then 10 minutes after we left she puked her guts out. Alllll over the place. My poor mom had to clean up piles and piles of puke. Lovely.

6. I actually don't think I read any articles this week. So much for the new "Articles I Read" feature. I did read something interesting in the Bible, though, that got my wheels turning. I'm in Mark 10 in The One Year Bible. One night this week I read the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus asking how to get eternal life. This story has always bothered me. I've never understood why Jesus didn't just say, "Believe in me." And I've always wondered if his instruction to the rich ruler to sell everything he has and give it to the poor is a requirement for all believers. Apparently the disciples felt the same way, though. When Jesus said it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich to be saved, the disciples replied, "Who then can be saved?" I know what they mean. How can anyone be good enough or give enough away or live up to enough impossible standards to be saved? Jesus answered, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (vs. 27) For the first time, I wonder if Jesus gave that instruction to the rich ruler to show how impossible salvation by works truly is. Which is why God doesn't ask that of us. He makes a new and better way to receive the kingdom of God: salvation by faith alone. 

7. The One Year Bible has me read part of the Old Testament, part of the New Testament, a part of Psalms, and a part of Proverbs every day. I just started Numbers in the Old Testament. Oy. I'm pretty sure that's when I gave up last time. Numbers is not the most riveting book of the Bible. I will say, though, that it makes me grateful for that salvation by faith alone and not through all those crazy laws and sacrifices! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Think Spring" Mural

The weather is horrible. I don't ever remember such a cold March. March is supposed to mean temps in the 40s and occasional 50s. It's supposed to bring sunshine and rain and thunderstorms. Not snow and more snow and below 0 temps. I don't know how much more I can take! So Lucy and I decided to make a "think spring" craft. It was inspired by this picture from Pinterest.

Here's our take:

It was a nice multi-step craft that we spread out over the whole day. First, Lucy drew on the flower stems with a green marker. Then she ripped up pieces of tissue paper, crumpled them into flowers, and glued them on. She got bored of "crafting" at this point, so we left it for a while. Later we came back and painted the sky and a paper plate sun. While we waited for those to dry we made coffee filter birds. This is one of her favorite projects. We've used this method for suncatchers, Easter eggs, and butterflies in the past. Color on a coffee filter with markers, spray with a water bottle, watch the colors bleed, let dry. We added some legs, a beak, and an eye to each bird, then slapped them on the mural. Voila! Spring on paper. Now if only we can get it in real life as well . . .

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Saturday 7

1. Lena turned 13 months on Sunday. It was weird to not write an update. Here are a few highlights: she's a total monkey. She amazes me every day with things she climbs on. Can't take my eye off her! She's walking everywhere. She tries to run, but her head is too heavy and she usually topples forward. Haha. She still takes 2-3 naps a day and sleeps 11 hours at night. She wakes up at 6 almost without fail every morning. Some of her new words are "amen," "no," and "up." She's a total hog and eats non-stop. We attempted to take some "one year" pictures today. So far we've got a lot of blank stares and arms reaching out toward me. We'll try again after her nap.

2. I'm making a goal for March to have 2 servings of vegetables every day. I know that's not near the recommended amount, but I have to start somewhere. Right now I have 0 servings of vegetables every day.

3. I'm thinking of devoting a point a week to "Articles I Read This Week." I seem to read so many lately thanks to Pinterest and Facebook shares. This week I read about raising our kids to be entitled over-encouraged brats.  I've struggled with this with Lucy. She seriously amazes me with what she remembers and how quickly she learns. I love to encourage her and tell her I'm proud of her. But is there a point where I take it too far? If so, how do I correct it? She's come to expect the praise now. 

I also read this Matt Walsh blog about the "anti-gay" bill in Arizona. When I first heard about the bill I did think it sounded pretty discriminatory, but that's so how the media skews it. It's also about religious liberty. These were a couple of my favorite parts:

[Because a company wouldn't make a gay couple a wedding cake, the gay couple sued and claimed they were dehumanized.] "DEHUMANIZED. Because some guy wouldn’t make a cake for their wedding. Dehumanized. Unborn babies butchered in abortion mills? Sorry, not dehumanizing. One bakery in the entire country decides not to make dessert for a gay wedding? DEHUMANIZING."

"Were any of these gay couples “harmed” by having to go back to Google and find any of a thousand other options? Perhaps their feelings were hurt. Fine. Are we saying that we have no right to do something if it might hurt someone’s feelings? Are we prepared to take that logic to its fullest extent?"

I'm not looking to start a debate. Just liked the article and thought he had some valid points. 

4. We continue to get slammed with snow. I really need to go outside and take some pictures. For now, here are a couple I snapped from inside:
I call this one "Sun Rising Over the Mountains" (aka the drift in our front yard).
We haven't been getting much mail lately. The poor mail lady has given up.
5. All that snow (and frigid, record setting, sub-zero temperatures) have incited a severe case of cabin fever. We did get out on Tuesday for a play date with Missy, Kelly, and children. That was glorious and much needed. I could've used another one on Thursday. Haha. I miss grass. And leaves. And being able to take a breath outside without ice crystals forming in your lungs. I miss going to the park and having picnics and playing outside! So on Friday, I decided it was time to quit wallowing and get out of this house. I killed two birds with one stone by telling Lucy that if she could quote all of her Bible verses she's learned to date we'd take her to Chuck E. Cheese. She rattled them off in no time and off we went. We spent 3 hours in the throes of childhood gambling. Just as we were starting to think about leaving our friend Ben showed up with his 3 kids. Lucy was thrilled to see them, so we stayed even longer! Lena was well overdue for a nap, but loved every second of the flashing lights, squealing children and dancing mice. She was also a big fan of the pizza. (Which comes as a surprise to no one.)

And then today my mom got us free tickets to an advanced screening of Mr. Peabody. She stayed home with Lena, so Justin, Lucy and I could all go. It was Lucy's and my first 3D movie. Lucy didn't keep her glasses on the whole time, but I did. Pretty schnazzy. The movie was nothing special, but it was cute, and Lucy loved being the sole receiver of our attention. :-)

6. Tomorrow marks one year since we moved in with my parents. It's been a good year, and if the recent budget revelation means anything it's that we'll have many more years here. Haha. It truly has been a good arrangement. At least on our end. I worry incessantly about being a burden to my parents, but until they tell us to leave, we pay off all our student loans, or we profit $50,000 off our house, I think we'll be staying here.

7. I saved my last point to say thank you so much for all the sweet words of encouragement and advice from so many of you after my meltdown post earlier this week. It's reassuring to know I'm not alone and encouraging to be reminded by so many of you that outward beauty is so trivial. I'm blessed to have such a great community of friends and family who love me despite my lack of tall, fashionable boots. ;-)
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