July 16, 2013

Letter of the Week- Letter Z

Well, friends, this post concludes our Letter of the Week adventure.  And I can't lie...I am thrilled!  It has taken me almost 3 months just to finishes the last four letters of the alphabet because I'm so burnt out.  I wanted to teach my kids that you need to finish the things you begin so we did.  We finally finished the alphabet.  We had lots and lots of fun over the past 10 months and I would gladly do it again, but for now, I'm thankful for the break and for summer fun we are already having.
Click on the link below for my Letter Z week curriculum.

Addi got to use a q-tip to paint stripes on her zebra.

As we are trying to get better about patterns we made a "Zebra" bracelet (alternating black and white beads).

We found this fun little book series about a Zebra who loves all different types of things.

Addi made her last letter activity:  Zig Zag Z

Josiah and Addi both practiced their handwriting skills and drawing zig zags.  Josiah was doing great...until I turned my head for just a second.

We made a few zoo animal puppets.  I only got a picture of the lion because my camera battery died on me.  Bummer!

We used our puppets to act out some of the things we read in our zoo books.

Finally, we wrapped up letter Z week by introducing a-z connect the dot activities.  Addilyn actually did really well.  I was so proud of her.

July 10, 2013

God Just Wants My Joy

Today I want to introduce a sweet college friend.  Lindsay is an amazing woman.  She's a military wife whose husband has completed several tours overseas, a mother of two energetic boys, and will soon be having a darling little girl.  She is an encouragement to me because of her dedication to her family.  She loves the Lord and I'm so grateful she took the time to share what He's been teaching her recently.

The thing I love (and dislike) most about motherhood is the way it consistently makes me confront my own selfishness. It never fails that whenever I sit down on the couch and just get settled into the cushions, one of my children will shout that he needs to be wiped, that he needs another snack or to fix something broken, and I have to get up again.

Ugh. Selfishness. It’s always there. Early in the morning when my 3-year-old walks in the room and says “I need breakfast” it’s there, and at 11pm when he’s coming back downstairs for the eighth time, three hours after bedtime, asking for a different blanket, it’s there. My desire to do what I want when I want is a battle more often than I’d like. I’m thankful that God is willing to refine me through my role as a mom, but boy is it ugly!

But that’s what becoming like Jesus is supposed to be--- horribly difficult but ultimately good. Necessary pain. …. Right? Well, that’s what I thought until a recent conversation with my oldest broadened my perspective.

“Ethan, it’s time to get dressed and go have fun with friends. We’re going to play in a fountain, have some lunch, and we can even get some cookies afterward!”
“Noooooooooooooooooo! I must stay NAKED!!!” (Imagine writhing in the floor with kicking and screaming.)
“Ethan, did you hear me? I said FRIENDS and COOKIES! I have lots of fun planned for us today, and I would really like for you to cooperate, so you can have fun, too.”

I paused. What in the world did I just say? I want you to cooperate so that you can have fun.  Isn’t that what God tries to tell me on a daily basis? I fight obedience for crazy reasons, even when God has been nothing but good to me. Twenty years as a Christian and I’m still the equivalent of a spiritual toddler.

But God had more to show me later that day when I watched my boys laughing hysterically during a wrestling match. Watching them play and squeal was so delightful and so refreshing! And that’s when it hit me:

God desires my joy.  Just as much as He wants obedience, He wants my complete contentment. And He wants my obedience so that I can actually have contentment. I’ve had  head-knowledge of that for years, but my heart didn’t until I was a parent.

Growing up in a church that emphasized the sacrifice and trials of Christian life, it was easier to understand “peace that passes all understanding” than it was to embrace actual joy. When I think of Biblical heroes, my mind immediately recalls the anguish they faced while following God’s will. I think of Abraham being called to sacrifice his son, Job’s undesired mission to Ninevah, Paul’s imprisonment, John’s exile, Jesus’ crucifixion. The list isn’t short, and I expect following Jesus to be difficult and painful, albeit full of unexplainable peace. The old saying “If God didn’t spare his son, why would he spare me?” comes to mind.

But when I find so much joy watching my boys giggle together until they can barely breathe, I more fully understand the heart of God. My heart feels like it might explode when I see them enjoying life together. I am truly the happiest when they are happy. So, how much more must God want our joy? How much more does He utterly delight in our happiness and contentment?

While an unbelievable amount of sacrifice is required while mothering tiny humans, I find so much encouragement realizing that God desires my heart to be full, bursting with laughter and enjoyment of the life he’s given me… not merely trudging through with sighs and martyrdom. I can’t claim to know the secret of always feeling happy to serve when my body is exhausted, but the knowing that He isn’t seeking to make me miserable to make me holy is revolutionizing.

God just wants my joy. And that makes Him much, much easier to obey.

"Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love;
just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be made full."
John 15:9-11

July 5, 2013


Back in May I was sharing with my small group that I felt so blessed because I just knew God was working in my heart. You see, I am normally very tempted towards anxiousness, but recently I’ve not been struggling with this at all. I had shared with them that although our family has goals and we are looking forward to the future, for the first time (maybe ever) I am perfectly content with my life and what God is doing, how he is doing it, and even okay with the time frame he’s doing it in. Whoa!

Well, I think Satan heard me boasting in the Lord and decided it was time for a little attack to shake things up. Over the past month or so I have been struggling with loneliness. This is something I’ve struggled with on and off for my whole life but within the past month, these feelings have just grown exponentially.

I wrote several posts about being busy. Some of you may have been wondering what could possibly be keeping me THAT busy. Or maybe you are wondering if I was keeping myself that busy, how in the world could I possibly be lonely.

Anyone who knows me could testify that I am pretty good at being intentional with friendships and over the past two years since I’ve been a stay at home mom I’ve been trying with much more intensity. I try to use my gift of organization to create opportunities for friendships to deepen. I’ve organized and hosted clothing swaps, busy bag parties, recipe exchanges, prayer meetings, bible studies, board game nights with other adults, birthday parties, wedding showers, baby showers, play date groups, and more that I can’t even think of right now. I’ve tried serving others through baby sitting, taking meals to others in need, hosting multiple people in our home for meals at least once a week, and running errands for others. I pray for others a lot (even when I don’t follow up with a card to let that person know). And I try being intentional in pursuing others through email, Facebook, texts, and phone calls on a regular basis for no particular reason at all except just to say hi.

I hope it’s apparent that I do all of this because I love Jesus and I love people. God calls us to love him and to love our neighbor as our self. Jesus Christ is the ultimate example of loving others greater than himself and he also promises to never leave or forsake us. He is our ultimate forever friend. However, God did not create us to live alone on this earth. His desire for us is companionship. We are not created to be independent but interdependent. No man is an island and especially for believers, we are called to live and be part of an active community not only for the glory of God but also for our sanctification. This is good news for me since I love spending time with people. I love deep relationships. I love getting to know how God has worked differently in every single individual. If you tried to find me on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, you would most likely see me dangling off the end of the extrovert side.

On the outside I may seem secure, independent, too busy to establish new relationships, or even like I have it altogether. But let me be real for a moment. Let’s peel back the onion layers and look at the inside. If I’m being truly vulnerable I must admit that in reality, I am still lonely.

How can this be?

Well, when you put this all together it does really makes sense. If we love others in the way we want to be loved it would stand to reason that I am doing all the things I listed above in hoping that others will reciprocate. You see, there’s an underlying motive (because Satan is tricky like that). For me, I plan events to meet women with similar interests as mine. I serve, pray, and pursue others to develop a deeper love and respect for them not chiefly because that’s what I am called to do but because that’s what I want someone to do for me.  Can you say twisted, manipulative, and selfish?

What’s so amazing is in the midst of finally realizing this was taking place in my heart, I saw God’s grace through this simple blog post that was shared by a friend on Facebook. The entire things is about what moms can do to encourage one another so that we are not lonely. After reading this it hit me, I’m not the only lady who struggles with this!

I’m sure we all long for a friend who loves us the same way we love her.

So, with that said, let me pause here and explain something. I do have friends. I have some really good friends who are incredible blessings in my life not because of what they do for me but because of who they are and who God has created them to be. I have friends from high school, college, and each of the places I’ve ever lived, worked, or gone to church. For the most part, I do try and keep in touch with many of them, even if it’s only on Facebook. I have friends living on six different continents. I have friends who live in over half of the United States. I have close girl friends that I can talk girl stuff with. I have friends from church who understand my convictions. I have friends who like the same hobbies I do. I have friends who are moms and even some who are grandmoms. I have my husband, who is my very best friend. So how can someone whose identity is rooted in Christ, with many good friends, and even with several really deep friendships ever feel lonely?

S. I. N. Yep, yet again- sin is the culprit. After much though, I figure it really just boils down to my sin. Discontentment. Unmet expectations. Greed. Whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is that I am grumbling and complaining about an aspect of my life that I have no control over. I am basically looking for someone to pour into ME and help ME so I don’t always feel so weary from pouring into others.

I am looking for a woman who passionately loves the Lord and see how he is working in every aspect of life. Someone who wants to talk more about what He is doing instead of the weather, the latest trends in books, clothes, or movies, or the shortcomings of others.

I am looking for a woman who respects her husband, speaks in a positive way about him, is real about struggles they have but never slandering him when seeking counsel. Someone who values spending time with her husband but does not make it an idol so much so that she can’t sacrifice time with him to invest in others.

I’m looking for a woman who has children and can understand the struggles and joys of motherhood. Someone who has similar thoughts about discipline, education, health, etc. No two sets of parents are going to raise their children exactly the same, but having some common beliefs about childrearing would be helpful when I need advice.

I am looking a woman who loves other people. Someone who is thoughtful and intentional about serving others and putting their love into action. This includes their family, their church, their friends, and the lost people around them. Someone who also strives to make sure others are included and will sacrifice comfort even if that means a few extra people join in what ever activity they are doing.

I am looking for someone who will reciprocate efforts to maintain and deepen friendship. Someone who will pray for me, text me, call me, or just stop by to see me without needing something (to do these things just because they want to spend time with me or are thinking about me). Someone who will answer her phone (even it’s just to tell me it’s a bad time). Someone who will occasionally sacrifice “husband time” for “girlfriend time.” Someone who won’t forget that my kids and I would like to be invited to play dates too (or goodness gracious, even over to someone else’s house to play).

Basically, I’m looking for someone who doesn’t exist. This is a reality for everyone of us. But here’s what we all need to realize: Although none of our friends will ever be able to meet every single criteria we have on our list of expectations, we have Christ who will never leave us or forsake us and who will NEVER let us down. In addition, we need to look at the friends we DO have and be thankful for each of their strengths and giftings. We need to stop giving Satan the small victories, we must push aside any self-pity we may be feeling, and delight in the Lord who loves us and is working ALL things for the good of those who love him!

Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood

A friend and I were talking one day.  I was telling her how I’ve been told by several married ladies without children that they are not really looking forward to motherhood because of how all their mommy friends speak negatively about their daily hardships.  This of course broke my heart because although I have some extremely difficult days, the joys of motherhood far outweigh the trials.  This was back when I wrote Be A Grace-Filled Communication Pioneer and the follow up post to that.  It was at this point that she told me, “I think there’s a book that just came out about that same topic.” And believe it or not, there was! Fit to Burst:  Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood by Rachel Jankovic.  I read the excerpt online and ordered it immediately.

Now, sometimes (okay, many times) I do things a little backwards. I read this entire book and LOVED it, and then I realized this was the second book she had written.  So, as I write this review please show me grace because I have not read her first book, Loving the Little Years.  I plan on ordering it very soon and I’m confident I will enjoy it just as much as I did this one.

With humor and sincerity, Rachel Jankovic encourages mothers to let Scripture define our theology of motherhood instead of the way we were raised, what our cultures deems as appropriate, or even how we feel in the moment.  She provides analogies and illustrations in every chapter that just about any American mom can relate to.  The chapters are short and simple but packed full of phrases, quotes, examples, and helpful tidbits that I want to tattoo to my forehead so I don’t forget them.    She covers a variety of topics from mommy guilt, getting our strength to endure from God, how to handle hungry kids and a home that just won’t stay clean, keeping perspective about nutrition, how to best help your husband love his children well, living a humble and vulnerable life in front of others (even when it’s a mess), and even how to have a sense of humor in the midst of discipline.  I really just can’t wait to get my hands on her first book.

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