Saturday, January 30, 2016

Love and Disobedience in Parenting

I'm sitting here on a beautiful Saturday morning. My house is empty...Ryan is at a conference and my children are in the loving care of grandparents...bliss. I should probably be taking a shower but I felt compelled to pull out my computer and write.

I recently started a new Bible study, Seemless by Angie Smith. By recently, I will share that my study technically started 12 days ago and I began actually doing the study yesterday. Why is it so hard to jump into something that you know you will enjoy? Anyway, the beginning of it is going through Genesis, the stories of creation and Adam and Eva and the generations that follow...all stuff I've read and studied before but this morning it was SO GOOD.

Backstory: life with a four year old has been rough. I love my daughter. She is kind, compassionate, generous beyond expectation, funny, smart, and incredibly passionate in all that she does. She is also a sinner, just like me. Our days have been hard and ridden with disobedience and consequences. Imagine whatever a four year old might do to disobey and I'm sure it has happened. At the heart of it is her desire for control. Umm, probably the same struggle that her mother has...I'll move on. Just know that if you are having parenting issues with a small child, you are not alone.

This morning I read the following passage from Genesis 6:5-8. Do not skip over this passage. It matters.

The Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

I could have easily skimmed through this and been like, "Yeah, blah blah blah, people were bad. Noah was good. Next passage." But God in his goodness had me fully read it and it hit my heart.

God knows what is is like to have disobedient children who have hears far from what He planned, designed, and created them for. My heavenly Father feels the pains of parenting. Wow. All those days...years...that I have cried out and asked for help during way too short breaks in the days...and He has been like, "Yep. I get you. I've been there. Look at all these people I've created who don't want to love and obey me." My intentions for Eva are always so wonderful. Learn fun things, play, laugh, enjoy life together, go places. If she could see my heart and the depth of my love for her and how I always am thinking of ways to bless her, surely she would trust and obey me. Even after days when I have been so frustrated with her, I find myself planning lessons for her in the evenings, or looking up which kind of new cup she might enjoy me ordering from Amazon, or figuring out ways to afford taking her to the zoo. And even when I fall short of how God created me, He is always working things for my eternal benefit.

God is my father.
God created me. God created Eva.
I'm a sinner. Eva is a sinner.
God loves me unconditionally. God loves Eva unconditionally. I love Eva unconditionally.
God knows how to parent and discipline us when we disobey. God's heart knows that frustration and how to respond to us in love.
Lord share this wisdom with me!
Be slow to anger and quick to forgive.
God can relate to all of my parenting struggles.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pursing Passions

A few months ago I was meeting with my counselor and she was talking to me about figuring out what I'm passionate about. At first I was just like, "Umm, I mean, I guess I'm a mom so I'm passionate about mothering?" I wasn't sure how to respond. It's like when someone (usually not a fellow Stay at Home Mom) asks me what my hobbies are. I go blank. Does washing massive amounts of dishes count as a hobby? Surely not. Ugh. It can make you feel lame.

So I've been praying for God to show me more about what I am passionate about. What stirs my heart? What are areas where, even if I'm not the greatest, I find joy in sharing and talking about with others? In some crazy way, I feel like this "list" that I've come up with actually captures so much of me. Putting it in a list seems a bit silly, because it's not like you just have separate, ranked areas of your heart. But for blogging purposes, this is what I've got.

1. Family. I am intensely focused on the idea behind raising a family that spends time together and loves each other. Yes we fight and drive each other crazy. But one of my desires is to create such a strong bond between Ryan and I and our children. This also extends to our other family. I want my children to grow up really knowing their grandparents. Lucky for us, we have some awesome parents who love our kids like nobody else.

2. Jesus. Okay, before you write this one off as a typical pastor's wife answer, let me share more. I am passionate about a Savior who offers redemption. I am in love with God sending this hope into my dark days. I want my children to know him. I want my friends to know him. I want to encourage my friends that do know him by reminding them to keep seeking him even on the hard days. I want to share Jesus with more and more people. Nothing can change generations of a family more than a heart in love with Jesus.

3. Learning. I almost wrote this one out as home school. Some days I love doing school with Eva, some days I'm kinda ready for her to go somewhere. I don't know. But I am passionate that she gets the opportunity to learn. I enjoy creating lessons. My heart goes pitter patter as I find lessons on Pinterst and print them out and cut things and put little pieces in ziplock bags all in the name of learning.  I enjoy teaching. Usually. Watching her put letter sounds together to figure out words last week was AMAZING.

4. Health. I am super interested in the inter-connectivity of the body. I don't understand the science behind everything, but I am a believer in holistic health. Along with this, I am passionate about nutrition. I've been gluten free for over 3 months now. I almost caved when I saw the latest Olive Garden commercial, but my passion for putting the best in my body to be the healthiest I can be for me family won out. I want to raise kids who are knowledgeable about the foods that fuel their body and not fill them with junk because it's easier. I kinda wish I could go buy a farm and grow all my own fruits and vegetables. Maybe one day. I also think the evolution of food is both fascinating and terrifying. There is so much fake food going into our bodies...ok, stepping off my soap box for now.

5. Finances. Our small group has been going through a Dave Ramsey curriculum and I am passionate about learning to be wise with money. Ryan and I did a similar study early on in our marriage and some of the baby steps we took early on have allowed me to stay home, even though we live off a comparatively small salary (as in compared to the area we live in, not compared to the global economy). I feel empowered when I find ways to stretch dollars and save. I would love to do financial counseling for younger couples or college students...not how to get rich but how to live wisely off what you have.

6. Mom Life. I love the movement for moms to connect to other moms. Mom friendships look different than other relationships. You find yourself chasing children in the middle of conversation, or chatting to your friend on the phone while realizing your are both nursing babies at the same time. I love opportunities to be transparent and share real life with other moms. Almost three years ago I read THIS BLOG POST by another blogging mama where she shared her real, difficult, experience of deciding to take medication to help with post partum anxiety. Even though her story was slightly different from mine, her writing still echoed in my mind when I was deciding whether or not I wanted to try antidepressants after having Jensen. Her open, honest writing helped me make an important decision years later that greatly benefited me and my children. How awesome is that? Which brings me to my last passion...

7. Sharing my voice. Whether through writing or speaking, I feel really called to use my life and my stories to encourage others and to testify of Jesus. Right now that means blogging and sharing when I'm with other moms. In the future...who knows? Sometimes it is a bit scary, but it is also freeing.

These days I am doing everything I can to shift all my focus into these areas. I want to live purposefully for God, and that comes through living out the passions He has laid on my heart.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How does a mother pray?

When many people think about prayer, they probably envision a solemn scene. Maybe you think of the type of prayer in a traditional church, full of a serious tone and rich vocabulary. Maybe you picture a priest saying the prayer, or maybe it is something you think you have to have a special set aside time for. And maybe all of these preconceived notions keep you from actually enjoying the act of prayer.

In my view, prayer is more simple. It is merely the act of sharing my heart and talking to God. It can happen in church, and it can be serious. Or it can happen anytime, anywhere, and about anything! That is how much our creator God loves us. There are no barriers for coming to him. I know little children are often taught to pray with their eyes closed, but sometimes even the act of talking to our God with our eyes open and seeing all He has created can bring praise.

So how then does a mother pray? How do I pray? I love the idea of having a perfect set aside time to read the Bible and talk with God at the same time every day. For me, this just doesn't always happen. You might be saying, but couldn't you wake up extra early and have this special time with the Lord? Yes, I can, and sometimes I do, but honestly my kids have this intense radar. Their radar senses the moments I am awake. It's like their little hearts worry that I will be lonely if they don't wake up as soon as I do. For me to get anything do in the morning, I have to move around like a ninja spy. So early morning quiet times don't always work for me. I try to be intentional about having a quiet time when they are both resting, sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't.

I pray most going throughout my day. The Bible teaches us to "pray without ceasing" and to me this means to keep talking to God all day long. When I'm washing dishes, I pray. When I'm folding laundry, I pray. When I'm mad at my child, and I'm not sure how to discipline in the best way, I cry out to the one who made her and knows her soul even more than I do. I even pray in the bathroom, because sometimes that is the quietest place for me to be. Yesterday I was ready to sit down and read my Bible and pray while my kids were sleeping/playing quietly and Eva started making a lot of distracting noise from her room. So I turned on our bathroom fan, and went and sat inside our bedroom closet so I could have some precious time to talk to God.

My point in sharing all of this is to simply encourage you to pray. It doesn't matter if you know all the right words. Just share your heart with God. Pray out loud, or quietly in your heart. Pray in the car or in the shower. God just wants you. Your worries, your sadness. Your praise, your love, your time, your attention.

This morning I read the Psalm 22 that teaches that God inhabits the praise of his people. I know I need God right beside me all day long, so the best way for me to call upon Him is to continually praise him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

11 Months Old

 Jensen at 11 Months Old

Jensen, you turned 11 months old today! I can honestly say that this past month with you has been one of my favorites. You are so full of your own personality! 

We didn't have a checkup this month, but I would guess you are around 25lbs. You have definitely stopped expanding at such a rapid rate now that you are crawling. You are wearing 12-18 month clothes, size 4 shoes, and about to bump up to a size 5 diaper. 

Daddy and I LOVE your chubbiness. You are usually in clothes a lot more since it is winter but anytime you are in your diaper or playing naked in the bath we just giggle at all of your rolls.
Words you can say: Dada {your favorite word.}, Mama, Uhh-uh {uhh-oh}, hi, and maybe bye-bye and night-night {it sounds like Nana, but I think you mean go to sleep}. Tonight when we picked up your toys before bedtime you said "Bah-bah" and waved your hand at your toys so I'm pretty sure that's what you meant.
Your photos are a bit blurry this month because something is up with my camera settings that I need to work on, but your expressions so perfectly captured your personality. You are still my happy, easy baby. You sleep from 7:30-8:30 AM and then take 2 good naps a day. I typically nurse you 4 times a day, although you love some Mama snuggles and milk so you tend to want to sneak in more. You have 7 tiny teeth that you use to munch on any food that comes across your high chair tray. The other morning Eva took a strawberry off your tray and you stared and grunted at her. Hahaha. I guess she took your niceness too far.
Blowin' raspberries! You like to make your "silly sound" and anybody who does it back becomes your new best friend. 
No walking yet, buddy. You have just started standing for 5-10 seconds at a time but haven't taken any steps. You do crawl super fast and like to cruise along furniture. You are just the right height to reach just about everything in our house so we have to work to stay one step ahead of you...or come back behind and clean up everything you knock down.
Haha, I like the pose above because that's what you look like when you dance. You've got some baby rhythm, little man. You like music and to do your moves. 
You are very content to sit and play with toys. I've started using the pack and play in the living room more to contain you when I need 10 or 15 minutes to get something done without chasing you and you are pretty happy in there with your toys. 
So blurry, but OH THAT SMILE! You have the best baby chuckle. The other night you say yourself in the bathtub handle and spent 10 minutes looking and laughing at yourself.
With your best sistie! You laugh at everything she does. Where she is, you want to be. What she wants to play with is what you want to play with. You are quickly catching up to her in size!

As we approach your first birthday, I'm excited to celebrate but it's sad that you won't be my little infant anymore. I know you will still be sweet and squishy, I just want to keep you little as long as I can. You bring me such joy with your big smile and personality. I love the way God created you. We are so thankful for you, Jensen.

love, Mama

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Musings {}

Today we started back to our regular life routine. Homeschooling. Ryan working. Housework. As I've gone through this morning I keep feeling like we just can't quite click into a rhythm or routine or whatever that works just right for our family. I love planning out our school and our days, but so often my well intended thoughts turn into a day that feels like we are just tumbling down a hill instead of making slow steady strides up the mountain. Do you know that feeling?

Here's my honest thoughts. I love the idea of homeschooling. I want to be the mom that gets to teach her children and create in them a love for learning and a love for Jesus. I want to be the one teaching Eva how to read and crafting little projects with her. I want to see her face light up with discovery. I really, truly want all of that. Eva's God-given personality of half Tigger, half Eeyore, mixed with Jensen's stage of getting into everything, make doing school hard. In my mind I would like each day to look like this: breakfast, playtime, school time with Eva while Jensen naps, playtime, lunch time, maybe a bit more learning, afternoon rest time, play time, dinner time, family time. That seems simple enough. I believe little kids need tons of time to play so I want to balance it well with more directed learning time. Also when Eva is working on school stuff she usually needs me to be with her. So much of her activities are interactive so it's not like I can expect her to work on much independently at this point. We are doing science experiments, or playing games with numbers, or reading stories, or talking about letter sounds. It's all great, but it takes a lot of attention on my part. I know other moms have done this, and have done this with lots of more children running about, so why can't I figure this out?

I do put off big chores during our school days, but there are always little things that need to be done. I have to change diapers, or wash dishes. Today I felt bad because after our school time Eva really wanted me to play dollhouse with her, but I wanted to cook a batch of soup for lunch and I knew that needed to be done prior to actual lunch time. I told her she could go play or she could help, so she chose to mostly just sit on the counter and watch me. I know that isn't bad, because she was still enjoying being with me, but it makes me feel like I can't take any time for things like soup making without it coming across like I don't want to play with her.  Plus then Jensen is either crawling around like a wild banshee or contained to the pack and play. Today he was ready for a snack so it worked out a little better but that was just luck.

Also some times during the day, I'm all played-out. I love my kids, but making dolls pretend to be real life babies who need to be changed, fed, put to sleep, and walked is only exciting for so long. The firetrucks can put out pretend fires. The blocks can be made into a house, or a tower. We play kitchen and I eat pretend food. All fun things...until your grown up mind is done with it. I really want to be able to be home with my kids, to play with them some, and to let them play without me for some time for me to take care of other things. This seems realistic right?

Right now Jensen still takes two naps a day, so it feels like most of our day revolves around feeding him, playing, nursing, and getting him ready for his next nap. I know it won't be like this forever. It just makes it hard to even find time to get out of the house without it being a marathon to get out the door only to need to return an hour later. 

We've considered putting Eva in preschool, but really any good program around us is too expensive for us right now. I would love for her {and Jensen...} to get to go play with other kids like 2 mornings a week from 9-12pm, but even that costs a lot of  money when you live off of one income. 

I've prayed a lot about all of these things and I feel like probably the best thing is to keep it all in perspective. We are just in a season with a busy kid and a curious {almost} toddler. In a six months they will each be in a new stages and we will have to find the balance all over again. Really I have always dreamed about the stage in life when I could be home with two little kids, watching them learn and become friends. I really don't think I would want a job outside of the home....but some days I just wish I felt better at balancing everything. Maybe there isn't a perfect rhythm. Maybe you just do the best you can do with each day, love your kids a ton, and thank God for the moments in the day when you're all headed up the hill together. I realize that every day can't be Maria VonTrapp marching through the hills of Austria with her seven coordinated children laughing and singing behind her...but I sure would enjoy more moments like that.