Thursday, July 6, 2017

Deep Calling the Too Messy

Today is one of those days that I feel the dynamics that make up this woman's heart. The days where I feel like I can pull out a quote from "Captivating" and check off the boxes as I go because I can be so many things all wrapped in one:

"I am not enough and I'm too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy,  too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy." -Staci Eldredge, "Captivating"

Today has been one of those days where everyone seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, including me. A night of no sleeping and everyone getting up bright and early at 6am does not bode well with this non-coffee drinking Mom. We get ready and head out the door for Week 3 of our "Entrusted" by Beth Moore play-study with a couple other Mom friends.

As we get home and everyone is down for a nap at the same time, a rare thing with our still two-nap-a-day Liv, I'm thinking, 'this is awesome,' because I am toast.
I can't even rest for all my racing thoughts. Beth Moore wisdom is enough to chew on for days. All the things I need to examine in this messy heart of mine and all the things I feel God is teaching me and stirring in me are set before me, so I decide to get up and write.

It's the heart that seems to reveal us deep down. Deep down where the Holy Spirit is chiseling those secret spaces that you don't want anyone to see, even sometimes we are afraid to see ourselves; to dig, to do the work.

As I look at myself in the mirror, do I really want to see inside, not just what the outside is trying to keep up with in appearances and approvals. But trying to be vulnerable enough to let everyone see and to see myself. Can I name the places in my heart out loud? Or do I subtly ignore them and cover them up in the busyness of life.

There isn't a bar of perfection that I've matched like everyone seems to be after.
There's not really such a bar as social media likes to have us believe.
That bar only requires more and more of you and you never reach the top.
There's never any amount of perfection that can be reached within ourselves.
I don't have it all together or have all the answers, although I do want to look like I have it together with my clean least that part of me put together...where I feel like I have order in the chaos of everything else.

It's the same place in life where marriage and kids is an adventure.
The best adventure but the hardest adventure.
This place that shows me I'm so selfish, but the most selfless all at the same time.

This part of our lives where I see the neediness of kids, work, promotions, and getting across this 30s finish line can really add the pressure to every day l.i.f.e.
Decisions that seem like they can make or break you the rest of your life in this era.
Where the pull of home, kids, time as a couple, finances, and jobs all create forceful tugs away from each other and the priorities of the God center.

It's this place where I never thought love in marriage could last farther beyond but finding it going deeper even on the days you have to cultivate it and work at it.
Intimacy and connection increase.
But also being more aware of the enemy as the years become stronger.
I'm learning that I need to be praying for my spouse from head to toe, checking in on his needs and happiness level more, praying not only for our marriage, but our friend's marriages.

It's this place where I am thankful and see my husband get up day after day to go to work even when the house is quiet and everyone is still sleeping when he leaves the house each morning. He puts his best foot out every day, provides, and is faithful. He comes home and empties out the dishwasher and sink full of dirty dishes, plays with our kids, tucks them into bed, and still manages to make time to do the little things and read C.S. Lewis to me before bed. He gets the courage to lead our family even as more and more responsibilities add to the mix. He's stronger than the man I knew he was in courtship and when we said 'I do.'

There's also this stirring in learning 'I can't do 100 things for the Gospel*'. I'm in need to step back and re-examine all these yes's and where I'm investing and finding peace where I don't always want to say, 'no.' There's this stirring to find out exactly where and what God is calling me to in the bigger picture of life, not just in our home, but in our home too, dreaming BIG with God, but at the same time where I'm learning Summer days in the pool with my kids is the best 'yes' to many days.
Living life with them. Putting words on their heart. Writing on their empty tablets, or as one of my favorite quotes puts it:

"The very presence of our children is supposed to remind us of the covenant love that we share for each other. Their hearts become tablets on which husbands and wives write their love letters to each other." -Kris Vallotton

My heart stirs and is overwhelmed with the little people my kids are becoming. The twins are almost Six and I see glimpses of their sweet souls and beauty and the harvest I'm currently sowing into. It's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and my heart is mush. I want their hearts to stay as ever pure as they are now.

I never thought I would be that 'religious' Mom having my kids memorize Scripture, but I'm finding it's an emotional thing to teach them sweet verses that I feel like I'm passing down onto their souls for a lifetime. Ones that I know I have lived true even in my wanderings. It's like hidden messages on their heart for later.

There's also discontentment and peace swirling around in the same space this season.

I'm discontent with trivial things, fleeting things like our 'almost renovated' house and finally making it a home after 6 years of saving and working on it piece by piece in the middle of kids and life, all while I learn to be content with those 'popcorn' ceilings, wobbly kitchen chairs, undecorated walls, and faded paint on the exterior of the house a little longer.

There's the restlessness of the twins starting Kindergarten and Little Man starting preschool and trying to wallop up every moment I have left in these preschool aged days. It's all only a month away!! My heart can't be still enough.

Then there's unsettledness of always wanting the next thing, the better thing, especially before completing the first things. : Eeek face::
And God just wrestling with me as I speak them out loud.

It's learning that sometimes I may try to bypass the 'Jesus' part of the trinity in my prayer life when I don't want to look at the ugly within myself or see my need for Him. Ouch!
(Shauna Niequist talks about this more in her book, "Present over Perfect.")
It's learning I will always need Jesus, every single day. More than I ever thought I did.
But that I want Jesus even on the best of days.

I'm seeing how sin is sin and there's no amount of pride or excuses that can cover it up.
I have control of the things I feast my mind on and when they aren't heavenly, it brings up those heart issues I try to hide from.

But in all this discontent gives way to places of freedom and peace.

It's in this place God has been showing me His faithful hand. He keeps mapping out all the details of our life, or as my husband says, 'God watches us closely.' He keeps weaving the smallest details together piece by piece and has been showing off a bit. I'm starting to learn for the first time in my life what peace looks like when my fears give way to Him. It is a place I want to continue to remain and experience more of.

Then, there's freedom where the enemy no longer holds me down by my past and this place is the most foreign. I've shared my testimony many times before, but it wasn't until a few weeks ago with a couple ladies that I shared, but this time it was different. Shame, condemnation, guilt didn't riddle me as I shared ugly details of my past. The parts I usually hide when I do share. Parts that I usually try to skip over because they will forever change the way you think of me, but for once there was peace in I'm not that person anymore, nor who I ever was. Those pieces don't make up my identity, although part of my journey. Those parts no longer have claim over me, chains are broken, and now I can see where some of the deepest ugliness of my life has brought me to experiencing a much bigger God in much bigger ways and that was worth all of it. Healing comes after all.

*Quote from Beth Moore, "Entrusted"

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Weaver

What is God weaving together in you? That is the question that keeps rolling around in my mind throughout today. I can't seem to let it go. The words keep repeating like a broken record.
What is He calling out into your destiny? 
What is He speaking into your life?

When you look over today, last year, or through your lifetime, do you see God weaving His hands through your life; just as the day He knit you together with such precision and care. (Psalm 139:13)

I'm always in awe when He shows Himself. Sometimes it's in the little small voice inside, or in the way my Littles love on me (especially when I'm undeserving), or the way my husband forgives me with abundant grace, or sometimes in the big undeniable ways that He is God.

Today is another one of those days, where He was showing His hand. He's still there, weaving out all the details, big and small

He's still knitting, still speaking even when life feels messy; I feel messy, like I'm not enough, or maybe I'm just too much. When marriage seems hard or energy runs short keeping up with daily Momhood...He's there.

My husband recently took Facebook off his phone. He hated how it was an automatic response when he was bored. It's kind of like going to open up the fridge to see what's inside even when you're not hungry. His description, of course! He started replacing his instincts to pull out his phone, by looking around to see what he might be missing if he had otherwise been glued to his device. 

One evening this week, he stopped at Costco on his way home from work. We've been trying out a bunch of new recipes and he was thinking about Salmon and really wanted to know the best way to cook it. He felt the need to pull out his phone and Google all the ways to prepare salmon, but instead he looked around and saw a woman standing there with package of salmon in her hands, so he asked her advice on the best way to make it. She not only told him a simple and tasty way that left us wanting more, but then continued into more conversation. It was a moment to connect with a person instead of a screen. 

What are we missing in our every day? Are we paying attention to the details? To what God is doing today or in our tomorrows? He brings everything together to completion. (Philippians 1:6)

I have felt so overwhelmed with life. There seems to be too many irons in the fire in our household. There have been a lot of decisions, lots of change, lots of uncertainties. I know God is not quiet. He's still speaking, but I still feel pushed out to the end of the plank, not sure if I'm jumping into the known or the unknown, although I know He knows, I'm left feeling insecure

Then God takes my heart and pulls me close. The details matter. The threads of the garment interlace together and I start to see glimpses of the garment [my life] being made together by the Maker.

Today, I sat in a pediatric ophthalmologist office with our 8 month old. I looked around and felt so blessed. I shouldn't be here, I thought. Our Livie has had a plugged tear duct since birth and we had been referred out. It's a minor thing, obviously, and her eye had even seemed to improve days prior. I sat there thinking the appointment was such a waste as I waited in the waiting room with a restless, on the move baby. But knowing my Maker and how this appointment or date and time was not set up by me, I went ahead.  

They dilated her eyes and found that her left eye is much weaker than the right in vision. There is a distinct difference in astigmatism and left untreated much longer, she was looking at having a lazy eye that may require surgery in the future, much similar to my husband and sister had when they were younger. 

And all those times I thought, 'Why can't the Lord just heal this tiny thing. Healing a tear duct is nothing for Him.' And there is the details. The answer. 

The Lord was showing me He's still in control. He is in the details. He knows the number of hairs on my head details. He knows my heart and fear details. He wants to show us how much He loves us details. 

Then it goes back to all those irons aren't uncertain to Him.

As we are go on week 2 of illness in our house and so many little stresses start rising up before the day begins, as I start to buckle under the pressure, I can ask and look to the Lord, "What are you doing?" "What is going on?" 
I know today is a small thread of the woven garment. 

So again I ask....

What is God weaving together in you? 
What do you see? 
Do you see the details? 
Do you see our Maker intertwining the good, the bad, the ordinary? 

It's all there. 
The One who created this world and your heart is weaving together something in you. 

What is He calling out? 
What is He speaking? 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Red Ribbon & Blessings

Today, as we put away our Christmas decorations and I began unwinding the red ribbon from around our tree, I was reminded of how far the Lord has brought us in just 2 year's time; how good & faithful the Father has been to us.

Today, as the kids helped take off the ornaments from our tree, breaking a few more balls of our already small collection, I think back to that same year as I had to pass on the post Christmas sales of new glass ornaments.

Just 2 years ago, I remember standing in the aisle of Hobby Lobby with that same ribbon in my hand as we frustratingly made a decision whether a purchase of $13 was too much to add a little beauty to our Christmas tree. This small, simple purchase was causing unnecessary tension. I didn't know the extent of this confrontational purchase until we finished buying Christmas gifts for our kids and family (not big purchases, might I add).

That December in 2013, I remember a week I was staying at my parent's house with the kids while my husband was away on a month long work trip and one night crying on the phone as we frustratingly argued about taking back Christmas gifts. He had just informed me we had $500 left in our account after the mortgage hit.

For anyone who knows us, we don't live extravagant lives. We purposefully live a debt free lifestyle (outside our 15 year mortgage & just completed paying off Esther's NICU bills). We live on a pretty tight budget so that I have the privilege of staying home to raise our kids; a decision we both agreed on before the surprise of our Honeymoon twins. I don't even own a smart phone and we always shop at Aldi if that gives you a better idea of our lifestyle.

We aren't ones to live paycheck to paycheck and like to have the appropriate Dave Ramsey suggested amount of emergency fund set aside into savings, so I knew this was bad....

Taking us all the way back to about a month before the twins were born, we went to a birthday party of one of our dear friends. We were more blessed than the birthday boy himself as everyone asked if they could gather around us to pray as we were about to start our new journey of little ones. The Lord gave a word (among others) that 'we would never go without.'

Today, I think back on that promise and how we indeed have never gone without. We never went without when my husband lost his job shortly after the twins were born. So much so, the very first day of my husband's current job, was the same day his severance pay ran out from his previous employer. What a praise of the Lord intertwining everything together for us. We never missed a beat.

Today, I think how this year He has blessed us immensely. He has not only provided for every one of our needs, but He has put into our hands so many of our much blessing to include the extra budget to finally remodel our home. Woot!

This year, we stepped out in faith to register our twins for preschool two days a week to begin preparing for Kindergarten. The Lord provided the exact extra amount we needed each month in our budget for their schooling with my husband's merit increase this year.

My husband also received a job promotion this year, which included a company car. We sold my 2009 Honda which is helping fund our home remodel. :) And saving us a good chuck on car insurance, maintenance, and gas expenses.

Today, I don't have to think twice about running out to get those ornaments on sale to replace our not so kid proofed decor or also adding some new storage containers for the holiday toy-nado that has just invaded our home.

Today, we have been sooooooo blessed!
We have such a good, good Father.
He holds our needs in His hands.

Friday, December 18, 2015

We Do Jesus

Christmas always carries fond memories of childhood. Christmas was a sentimental time of tree decorating with my Mom, crafts, anticipation, gatherings at my Mamaw's house, cookie baking traditions- that I now carry on with my husband on Christmas Eve while we watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and wrap presents...the smell of Christmas

And, of course, SANTA WAS COMING!! My favorite year being the year I wanted a Starbrite Sparkles doll, for any of you 90's kids out there. I don't remember wanting anything so much in my life!!

After setting out my best decorated cookies with a cup of milk for the big guy, himself, my parents agreed that I could sleep out on the couch next to the Christmas Tree so I could try to catch Santa in the act of delivering our presents [and to make absolute sure he was leaving me Starbrite Sparkles under the tree]. I fell asleep under the light of the tree thinking every noise and thud was reindeer on my roof.
I never did catch him.

I loved the tradition of Santa, so much so, I believed in Santa to almost the age of 10 when a kid on the school bus thought it was ridiculous I still believed. While turning to my younger sister for defense, she basically told me I was too old for such shenanigans and she had been advised by my parents to go along with the covert until I figured it out on my own. I was crushed...

The Easter Bunny...
The Tooth Fairy...
Mourning it all at once.

As the kids are getting older, especially this year, the Christmas fun is truly beginning in our house. It's filling me with childhood anticipation all over again as I have been waiting for the childhood magic come to life....

Last year, we took the kids to visit Santa for the very first time. Of course, I had been awaiting this moment, but something just didn't feel right about this introduction into our children's lives.
I had a check in my Spirit.
And it wasn't the fact that my kids were crying as they sat on Santa's lap.
I walked away feeling unsettled, wondering....
How can you do Christmas any other way?

Truth in the Tinsel fun.

Soon after, a twin Mom friend shared a book called,"Truth in the Tinsel" that she was doing with her
girls. It's daily children's Advent stories with a craft for each day in December to keep the meaning of Christ shining through the Christmas season. The author of the book, Amanda, has a blog and she shared how she didn't want Santa to be the center of their Christmas. And there it answer to the stirring in my heart.

Jesus was going to be the center of our Christmas tradition.

The No Santa idea came easily last year since the kids were so young. They couldn't remember ever sitting on Santa's lap even a week after it happened or the significance of that moment in time. Unwrapping gifts Christmas morning didn't seem like any kind of mystery. Presents were there for the opening, of course! Ha!

This year is a whole new ball game. The girls are in preschool and in other environments where Santa talk seems to be everywhere. Songs, kid's shows, and even strangers we meet in the grocery store ask our kids, "What's Santa bringing you for Christmas?" At first, my kids didn't know how to respond, but it didn't take long for them to catch on.

We thought we would wait until the Santa questions came, but instead of questions, we got...
'Santa's coming to my house and he bring me presents.'
'If you don't get the Sophia castle for me, Santa gonna bring me it.'

I really didn't know how to respond to the Santa comments. We don't want to tell our kids the truth this early with the chance of them ruining another child's experience. We want to be respectful of everyone's traditions. 

As I started to feel defeated by Santa this week, even down to finding cute wrapping paper without the Red Suit decorated on it, a lady in our small group shared that they didn't do Santa with their kids either. It was such affirmation and peace to our decision. I gathered wisdom from her experience on how to respond to my preschoolers on their acquisitions of Santa.

"Some people do Santa, some people do Hanukkah, but in our home, "We do Jesus."

An answer my kids can relate and take hold of.

Santa is not right or wrong; He's not a Salvation issue, but it's what has been laid on our hearts in our family traditions and we want to be intentional with our holiday worship and honor the Lord.

We are exploring our new family traditions. It's the start of something new. It's a week before Christmas and I just ordered Ann Voskamp's, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, also at Helen's suggestion. It has a daily devotion and activities centered on the Jesse Tree (lineage of David). I'm a little late starting it, but I'm excited to see where this book takes us in this new terrain.

We want Christmas to be something that overflows from our hearts and not just a religious celebration, as well as, sweet family memories to carry in their hearts as they grow older.

Last year, my husband made a wooden manger to place next to our tree. Christmas Eve, the kids fill the empty manger with hay, swaddle, and place the baby Jesus in the manger.

Our kids get most excited about it being anyone's birthday. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E is required to have a party. Complete with singing, cake, candles, balloons, and presents.
Jesus isn't excluded. He gets His own party too.
There will be CAKE! 
And there will be presents!
And they will know our presents come because The Lord has been ever so good to us and loves us lavishly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Never Chasing Now

Almost 5 years into marriage and from moving into our home and you will find our house has yet to be decorated. I'm an aspiring photographer with a hard drive full of the cutest photos of our kids, but yet not one to grace our walls. I keep putting off my nesting instincts as we plan to remodel the e.n.t.i.r.e. house within the next year ::fingers crossed:: and I'm sure to change everything, but I'm dying to make this nest cozy, remodeled or not! So last Saturday, I decided we needed to hit up some neighborhood sales in our area for all kinds of wall goodies on a dime, which then turned into Hobby Lobby spending to accent the items I bought. Ha!

I had a plan. A plan to fit in as many sales in these 2 neighborhoods in the most skillful of time. I wanted to get and go home to enjoy the rest of our Saturday activities. One of these neighborhood sales happened to be in my in-laws neighborhood. The hubs wanted to visit their house first for coffee. After arriving, the kids could not be parted from Mimi & Papa's so the two of us ended up walking to each sale together. 5 minutes in and I was already discontent. Of course, that's when my hubs likes to chime in with his brilliant, loving wisdom:
 'Stop trying to chase the next thing. Enjoy this time we have alone together right now without the kids. It's not often we get these moments.'

After a few minutes of soaking in the fact he was right, I laid my expectations down and we had a great walk. It ended up being my favorite part of the day.

Had he not shared his perspective, would I have been able to see through the morning just as clearly?

So many times, that's all I (hemmm, hemmm, we) do. I'm always trying to chase the next thing. It can be in big or small ways. It can be waiting to make it to the weekend or that fabulous beach trip next month. Or I'll finally enjoy my house and making it home-y when it's all remodeled and pretty. Or I will only be happy when I can lose the rest of my goal weight and look fabulous again pre-baby era (but with the added curves).

As a SAHM, I often notice the enemy thwarting my ministry as a Mom. He messes with my contentment and tells me 'I'm not significant' and that 'I'm not doing anything of worth.' 'Look at that Mom who can go to work and come home, she's more fulfilled, rounded, and accomplished.' 'One day you can do something valuable too.' These lies cloud my vision. It deflects the most important accomplishments I have in front of me.

On those long, tiring days, where I'm just frustrated and spent, the enemy notoriously, like clockwork, comes along and tells me once again, 'I'm not significant,' 'Way to go on losing your patience with the kids, you need to learn to be a better Mom,' and with that I drop the ball on my Mom joy adventures. I find myself beginning to chase the next thing.
When the kids get bigger, I can do this...
                                             I'll be good at...
                                                 and accomplish this...
                                                            I can finally serve in my church & community...
                                                                          I'll start this ministry....
                                                                                    I'll be able to make a difference doing....

Sure, those thoughts are great aspirations and shouldn't be discounted. I'm a dreamer at heart and know they are God given, but I can't let them wish away the precious time I am currently living out.

I think Jen Hatmaker said it best in her new book, "For the Love:"

"To the Mama at home with a bunch of littles, you can live a life worthy right now. Your calling is today. God makes you worthy as you desire goodness for your children, meeting needs and nurturing little souls. No future calling is any more important than your current station. Every good, meaningful possibility is yours today."

I have to be able to chase today. I need to be aware of what the Lord is doing and has for me now in the present. This stage is as important as the next season.

A couple weeks ago, I received a note from a lady in our small group. It absolutely filled me to the brim. I want to share her words because they are just too good and puts everything into perspective:

"Dear Ashley,
        I wanted to write to simply encourage you! It seems not that long ago that I was in your stage of life, a tiring stage. In that place, it is hard to see beyond the day. Let me promise you the time and love you are sowing into your children...a harvest will be reaped! They will reap such confidence and a sure foundation. As you love them and teach them of Jesus as you walk with them daily you are imparting far more than you can realize from where you sit today. I will never regret one moment that I stayed home with my kids. We had less stuff and did without things others had. But now I am overwhelmed by the people my children have become. God has done a work in each of their hearts. The work is His alone but He granted that our home be a place of futile soil for the gospel to take root and grow. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and love those babies well! Before long your time will be more your own... I promise." 

Did her loving words wash over you the same as they did me? 

Gosh, how many times am I already ahead of the crop trying to reap the harvest. I'm not stopping to invest in the worthwhile moments. This also goes the same for how we invest our time, the choices we are make, or steward the things God has already given us. I've been so convicted on every one of these levels lately, not just with being a Mom.

(Or how we don't have the prettiest house on the block because we do choose to make sacrifices for me to be able to stay home with the kids and to pour into their souls. It puts contentment in it's place.) 

Some days may not seem significant when I am living the SAHM dream day after day, but I am imparting much to my kids. It is in those small seemingly insignificant moments or small acts of just talking with our kids or reading them a Bible story over lunch and asking questions. 

All of our small moments add up to a lifetime.

This time, whether with my kids, the food I eat, the words I speak, the relationships I make, the Facebook time I take, or the money I spend, these are all things that God has entrusted to each and every one of us. He is trusting us with our now moments to enjoy with Him, to reap, and to harvest. We just need to soak up our day and see what the Lord has in it. It is not to be wished away to chase tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

1st Day of Preschool

This week I was promoted to a Mom of Preschoolers with one toddler left in my nest. As this day approached, the more it pulled at my heartstrings. These milestones make me realize just how much this time is so fleeting and will be gone all too soon. Some days can feel never ending, but Preschool marks my numbered days with them. Realizing this, my ordinary days have just become my most treasured of time.

As much as I fight to overcome the tug in my heart, I'm also excited about this new adventure. It means 2 days a week, I get some Ty time. He being my youngest, we have never had that special one on one time. I can tell you he's all too happy to have all the toys & Mommy to himself.

I also get a taste of what it feels to have a Singleton on my hands. (This is going to be easy!) I'm looking forward to the chance of being refreshed. I feel I will be able to value and monopolize my time better when the twins are home with me, giving me better focus and quality time with them.

The first day went better than I expected. Although, not without tears. Anna cried and grabbed hold of me to stay. She was fine as soon as I made it out the door.

Usually, when one twin starts crying the other joins in too. They sense this in each other, but not today. Esther was cheerfully waiting to give me hugs bye as Anna's tears started flooding. Es has been excitedly counting down to this very moment. She was giving Anna a look as if to say, 'Don't ruin this for me! [I'm not crying with you this time.]'

1st Day of Preschool!!

The girls are in the same class together this year. We thought it would be best for them to have the security of each other in this transition time and split them up into different classes next year.

After orientation, I walked by to take a peek in their room before leaving home. The girls were happy sitting in Circle Time with all the other kids.

Since it was orientation day, Tyler went to stay with his Mimi, so I got to have a lunch date with my Hubs. I can't remember the last time we had one of those, so it made for a sweet morning.

At pick up, the girls were so excited to show me their papers from their day, but Anna hurriedly came over to tell me, "You took a LONG time." We're not used to being away from each other this long.

The school day included a story of the Gingerbread Man, a Gingerbread Man hunt, Gingerbread cookies for snack, and Gingerbread Man craft.
I was impressed with how well their craft turned out for the 1st day. There must be something to this Preschool thing. Esther told me her Gingerbread cookies ran away. Smiling, she continued to repeat, 'You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!'
I don't know about you, but Gingerbread makes me think of Christmas, not a 1st day of school theme.

Although, they were exhilarated the rest of the afternoon about their right of passage. The true sign came when we got in the car to run errands, they would ask if we were going to school
'No, not today.'
"Whyyy? I want to go to school."

This is all going to be okay. I have big girls now, little Preschoolers that is! ::sniffles::

Esther's Back to School Photo

Our Post 1st Day of School Photo

Anna's Back to School Photo

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Struggle

We are just starting to find a true normal in our household. We are starting to get out and do things again. Live life. Feel the breeze.

After Tyler was born, I dealt heavily with postpartum depression, and then found after getting through it, I still wasn't myself, but kept going, thinking everything was normal. I mean, what is normal after having kids, right?

Test results found that I had Hashimoto's, a form of hypothyroidism. It explained my constant energy deficit, depression, weight, and other symptoms. Parenting, or disciplining, during all of these times was whatever wasn't going to cause a fight. I was too exhausted to fight or push forward most days.

Fast forward now to the other side and there has been quite the power struggle in our house lately.
(Mmmph....I hate admitting, talking, discussing the dropped ball here because we are still picking it back up....)

We have such good kids. The best. I love them so, but there are certain discipline issues that have got out of hand. I have to repeat myself 10x to get anyone to listen. If I discipline for not abiding or bad behavior, it becomes the biggest meltdown, no one who has ever met our girls would believe, so it's easier to give in and negotiate. And then there is Tyler, who now has full blown, on the floor, tantrums almost every time we visit the grocery store.

I said, ' I will never be that Mom! '
But that's me. Yep.

Disciplining our kids or acquiring their respect has become my biggest challenge. The one I thought would come easiest to me.

We took our dilemma for prayer in our small group and they shared their wisdom and prayers. Someone hit the mark about disciplining them from a place of love. And there it was. I had listened to other's advice, but with no real basis from which I could start because picking a tactic was not supposed to be my starting point

I first had to realize I forgot my purpose. I lost myself in the every day. I forgot what I was doing. I forgot it's not about surviving through each day, or having my kids listen to me, or get through a store run without public stares. It's about loving them and honoring the Lord. 

And then, of course, comes the disciplining out of that.

Gary Thomas, in his book "Sacred Parenting," said it well, "When God does not supply our motivation. We may raise a more courteous and obedient child, but we won't pass on what is of ultimate importance. If parenting were only about behavior modification, Jesus would have praised the Pharisees and kicked dirt on the adulterous woman. In other words, I'm saying that our own spiritual quest must drive our parenting. Unfinished or neglected spiritual business inevitably works its way out through our relationships in a negative fashion: we become more demanding, more controlling, more intolerant, more resentful."

Those words have been a huge heart sinker.

This week, I'm starting at the bottom up, putting my hands back on the ball. I have been aligning myself to the Lord, asking Him for my purpose each morning and asking for Him to impart more of His love to me and for me to give, playing more, instructing less (Thanks, Dad).

These past few days already feel fuller (in the joyful, purposeful way). I'm noticing a little more listening and already a lot more love. I'm building new connections and communication with my kids that is hope to last. ::crossing fingers::