John Turns 11

I’m not even sure where to start. John is 11. How did that happen?! He is the one that paves the way for the girls and where Aaron and I learn new things in parenting!

As John prepares to start 6th grade next month, I am reminded of dropping him off for Kindergarten. I remember visiting APA when he was still 4 for a tour, seeing the sixth graders in a line and the tears welled up in my eyes thinking I wasn’t ready for that yet. I IMG_0729also was not happy at the thought of dropping off my little 5-year-old kindergartener off at the school where there were super big 6th graders! But now, my mama-heart is so happy that he’s not yet headed into junior high and that I have another year to prepare for that milestone.

John is a great kid. He has an infectious laugh and reads… all. the. time. And he reads quickly too! If I had to buy every book he read, we’d be poor! We lived at the Sandy house for most of this past year and if he wasn’t in the house, he was more than likely on the hammock, reading.

He also loves Minecraft and Civilization, Star Wars, Adventures in Odyssey and LEGOs. He loves to make other people laugh and will try to find the best jokes to repeat! Oh! And he loves science. One time he had a friend over and they burned a CD (with parent permission) just to see what would happen. He has a curious mind and a great imagination. And while his sister annoys him quite a bit, he also plays really well with her. He is a great big brother!

While it’s hard to let go as your kids get older, you know it’s necessary. We can’t make them stay small forever. So I keep stretching my limit of what I’m comfortable with when it comes to letting go and giving him new responsibilities. One day, Lord willing, he’ll be a man providing and protecting his wife and kids. I can at least let him ride his scooter around the block! 🙂

Advertisements
Published in: on July 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hannah Turns 3

Hannah is incurably happy. That’s what Aaron always says. She really does have a smile on her face more often than not!

FullSizeRender

Dancing on the table!

Highlights from this past year have been:

  • Dance with Me – A mommy and me dance class that was the highlight of our week.
  • “My best friend Wade.” Hannah and Wade have a love-hate relationship! They are always so excited to see each other, but then get upset because one doesn’t want to share a toy — especially when that toy is, specifically, Wade’s doctor kit.
  • Speaking of doctor kits… Hannah’s favorite toy was her (or even more so Wade’s) “wishenscope.” Better known to everyone else as a stethoscope. 🙂
  • She loves being Super Hero Hannah! “I’m here to save the day!” She loves wearing capes and masks and pretending to have super hero powers.
  • She left behind Daniel Tiger as her favorite show and instead prefers Doc McStuffins and PJ Mask.
  • Hannah LOVES music! She always asks for music in the van. And at night when I sing a song (the majority of the year it was Twinkle) she’ll sing at the top of her lungs right along with me!
  • Hannah is also officially potty trained! While it took longer than I thought, we made it and there are no more diapers in our house.

My sweet little Hannah! How I have loved every minute of her growing up. She is so talkative and smart! She is adorable when she gives me a thumbs up – which is quite often. She loves twirly dresses, dress ups and pretty shoes. She loves puppies and always asks to pet them when we see them in public. She is a sweet girl with a happy attitude and is quick to change her bad attitude when it appears. I can’t imagine life without her!

Published in: on June 30, 2017 at 6:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lydia Turns Nine

Lydia is my bright, bold, beautiful little girl. She is silly and active and social. Every time we’ve moved these past few years she finds a friend as quickly as possible! Then she begs to go play with that friend as soon as homework is finished. She likes having other people around and playing games together or doing some activity.

FullSizeRender (1)

Lydia being silly with frosting on her nose!

Lydia is finishing up the 3rd grade with Mrs. Provstgaard. She has worked so hard this year. We’ve studied for history and science tests together and worked hard on math homework. She loves reading A-Z Mystery books, but she’d rather be playing games with a friend.

She has been taking ballet classes from En Pointe School of Ballet and this year gets to be horse and pull the carriage in the ballet Cinderella. She has been so excited about her roll since the beginning of the year. Soon she’ll start track and she’s super excited about getting to run!!!

Lydia loves animals and takes our neighbor’s dog on a walk when she can or brings the dog to our yard while she plays outside with his son. She loves Splashlings, Shopkins, Littlest Pet Shop, and American Girl doll stuff. She had a great birthday party at All Stars with laser tag, bumper cars, and arcade games! She has some good friends Olivia D, Olivia F (who she doesn’t get to see often enough), and Evangeline.

I’m excited to watch this little girl grow up over the next few years.  To see the vivacious young woman that she will become. I pray that the Lord helps me to raise her to be a woman who loves Jesus and lives to serve him.

Published in: on May 18, 2017 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Envy of Eve – Quotes

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World by Melissa Kruger should be required reading for all young college/career women! While coveting and lack of contentment are not sins only women struggle with I do think women struggle with the comparison game more than men. I’m pretty sure that’s why there are “Mommy Wars” and not “Daddy Wars.”

 

I know I have struggled with lack of contentment in my life phases: when I was single I wanted a boyfriend, once I had a boyfriend I wanted to be engaged, once married I wanted children, etc. The cycle continued. I recognized my lack of contentment but struggled with what the secret to contentment was that Paul talks about in Philippians.

 

Years ago as I awaited the adoption of my 3rd child my covetous heart was out of control. Thankfully God eventually got a hold of my heart, but when I think back on those dark years I think about the wasted time and energy. I’m not sure if I could have been saved from the pain of my coveting had I read a book like this, but if young women could read this book in preparation for a life that, without a doubt, will bring trials in one form or another maybe it could prepare their heart and they could walk with God in a much better manner than I did.

 

There is so much Biblical wisdom in this book! It ministered to my heart in so many ways. It stretched me, convicted me, and encouraged me. I highly recommend it!

 

Let me share some quotes:

“Coveting is the antithesis of Christ’s command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ because our neighbor becomes our enemy simply by possessing what we desire. We cannot love well those whose lives or belongings we covet.” pg 29

 

“Our lack of contentment primarily flows from unbelief regarding God’s sovereignty and goodness in our lives.” pg 48

 

“A heart softened by the Spirit can respond to the Word preached. However, a heart hardened by sin’s deceitfulness will only grow harder still upon hearing the tidings of God. Only God’s Spirit can awaken a heart to believe the message of sin and redemption.” pg 49

 

“The serpent tempts Eve to doubt God’s Word and His goodness to her. He stirs up discontentment in her heart, as well as a longing to rule, rather than be ruled. Do not miss the fact that Eve, even in the middle of all the goodness of Eden, finds herself longing for the one thing forbidden. In the midst of perfect circumstances, unbelief can still arise.” pg 73

 

“Satan wants us to believe that we cannot control what we long after or that if we have a longing, it must be good, in spite of God’s instruction. It is one of his most damaging lies, keeping us enslaved to years of worthless pursuits. Although we cannot always choose what we see, we can choose what we set our heart upon.” pg 75

 

“Our incessant cravings suggest to others that we worship a God who is not able to satisfy.” pg 88

 

“If we desire to fight Satan’s attacks, we must immerse ourselves into God’s Word and seek to understand the full counsel of the Bible.” pg 100

 

“Our joy, peace, and hope do not flow from perfect circumstances or gaining all that this world has to offer. Instead, these items are fruits of spiritual growth. They are often born in the furnace of trials and afflictions, but they lead to a hope that is imperishable.” pg 104

 

“Our outward grumbling is a sure sign of inner coveting.” pg 134

 

“We need to bring our good and right desire for relationship together with an understanding that no earthly relationship can mend the brokenness in our lives. Pg 147

 

“A content woman can share with friends and the Lord her honest struggle. However, she does so in a way that demonstrates her belief and trust in the Lord. In contrast, the covetous woman believes her outward circumstances are proof of the Lord’s failure to be good to her. She complains and grumbles, seeking others to join her in her lament. She cultivates discontent and soon, she becomes a woman who takes from those around her.” pg 209

 

“Such a person hides her own sin as she thinks to herself, ‘My situation is so uniquely difficult that I am allowed to be miserable. Anyone facing what I am facing would be just as discontent as I am.’ Paul speaks to the fallacy of this type of thinking when he writes, ‘No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful’ he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’ (1 Cor. 10:13)” pg 211

 

“As we spend time with the Lord each day, slowly our desires will transform and grow into new hopes. Even as we long for circumstances to change, our greater longing will be for contentment in any and every circumstance.” pg 215

 

“As we sacrifice our own lives to give to others, we should expect to feel worn out, tired and spent. The call of the gospel is not one of self-protection, but of self-denial.” pg 243
There were so many more quotes I could have added or ended up deleting from my list to make this shorter. I’m telling you, this is an amazing book… Go read it!

Published in: on April 29, 2017 at 7:25 am  Leave a Comment  

A Failed Adoption – Two Years Later

We are coming up on the 2nd anniversary of our failed adoption and I still think about it.

Almost two and half years ago we were matched with a birth mom in Florida. We spent 5 months thinking about this baby, anticipating, praising God that he had heard our cries and that He was, after such a long wait, growing our family. While I do believe that God protected my heart during this time, I still got attached to the little boy. In my head I call him Matthew James. Aaron and I had definitely agreed on Matthew and I figure I would have won him over to James as a middle name. 🙂 So, Matthew James is the name of the little boy that I was expecting to raise.

However, his mom decided to keep him. And that’s ok! We knew that was a possibility. And she had every right to do so! I do not begrudge her in any way. But, I do think about Matthew James, sometimes – at random times. I think about how he’d be almost two. I wonder what his exact birthday is. I wonder what he looks like. I wonder if he’s happy. I wonder what milestones he’s hit. I wonder if he’ll grow up to know Jesus. I wonder what his favorite toys are. I wonder how big he is. I just wonder about him and who he is.

God has healed my heart from the pain of the loss of this expected child. He gave us a daughter instead, only four, short months later. God has blessed us immensely. I can imagine that these years – wondering about Matthew James – would have been harder if we didn’t have our joyful Hannah Pi. But God also reminds me to pray for little Matthew James. Wherever he is, whatever his real name is, he is still on my heart. I hope he is safe and knows that he is loved by the creator of the world. He’ll never know about me, but I’m here, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never forget about him.

Published in: on February 8, 2016 at 6:17 am  Comments (1)  

Do More Better

As January rolled around, making it a new year, I decided to go ahead and join Tim Challies’s 10 Days of Productivity, thinking it couldn’t hurt. In all honesty it was a promotion for his new book Do More Better. You didn’t have to buy the book to participate, but the Kindle version is only $5.99 and I’m glad I did. So, I spent the first 11 days reading this book about productivity (1o chapters + bonus chapters).

I absolutely loved this book and I am so glad that I participated in the 10 Days of Productivity. Challies’s definition of productivity is effectively stewarding your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm, for the good of others and the glory of God. (location 185) OR Productivity calls you to direct your whole life at this great goal of bringing glory to God by doing good for others. (location 193)  Boiled down, I’ve kept repeating to myself, “Doing good to others for the glory of God.”

As a stay-at-home-mom, this definition is extremely freeing! I have struggled with not feeling productive at home. My house is somewhere in between clean-freak perfect and looking like we should belong in an episode of Hoarders. I often tell people that I’m a type A personality stuck in a type B body. I like having everything just right, clean, organized, etc. but I can just never seem to pull it off. (For the record, I don’t know if a type B personality exists… but my statement makes sense to people. 🙂 ) So, sitting down and stacking blocks with Hannah is doing good to the glory of God. Doing a load of laundry is doing good to my family to the glory of God. Even when I take a nap I am doing good to… well pretty much anyone I come into contact with… for the glory of God. (Of course if we’re actually glorifying God depends on our heart attitudes, but you get the point.)

On Saturday, during Hannah’s nap time, Aaron and I were playing a new game with John and Lydia. Aaron made a comment about doing something productive once we finished the game and I was able to look at him and say, “Spending time with our kids is doing good to them for the glory of God. We are being productive.” See what I mean by freeing?! We, well at least I, I beat myself up over the 100 things that never get marked off  my check list, but I forget about the 50 things I do each day that are doing good to others for the glory of God.

On top of Challies’s definition of productivity, he gets down to the nitty-gritty with practical tips to increase productivity. He suggests three tools: a task management system, a calendar, and a place for information. While I already understood my dependence on Google calendar (read: if it’s not in the calendar, then I will forget or double book), I was introduced to  Todoist and Evernote. Both offer web and smart phone app versions.

I’m pretty sure that Todoist has changed my life. Every time I think of something that needs to get done, it’s typed into the app… and guess what?! It has or will get done, because it’s there reminding me. Also, after you have finished all of your tasks for the day the app gives you a big check mark and says, “Enjoy your evening.” Whoa… as someone who hates procrastinating, because I hate having things hanging over my head, this small, silly message set off the reward center in my brain in a huge way!

So, it’s 15 days into the new year. I’m working the program that Challies sets forth and I’m really enjoying it. I get more done each day, I spend more time with Hannah and I have a clear understanding of where my day and my week are headed. I highly recommend the book! Picking up a book on productivity wasn’t on the top of my list, but I really feel that this book was beneficial to me in a large way! So go buy it! 🙂

 

Published in: on January 15, 2016 at 10:14 am  Comments (1)  

Unconditional Love

While the Bible never mentions the word “trinity” the concept is in there and with it we learn about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. They each share attributes, but also have different roles. We are taught about God the Father’s love for us in that He loved us so much, that he sent God the Son to be the once and for all sacrifice that was needed to cleanse each of us from our sins. If we trust in Jesus as our savior, we are no longer held liable for our debts (sins) and are now seen as righteous (sinless). The Father loves us. He loves me.

23582436689_2e803cffc8_o

 

The Bible draws analogies for God the Father and our earthly fathers. In Matthew 7 Jesus reminds us that we as parents (fathers) know how to give bread instead of rocks to our children, and asks how much more would a holy, perfect Father in heaven know how to give good things. And so our relationship with our earthly father becomes an analogy for our relationship with our Heavenly Father. If we feel loved by our earthly father than we should have some type of understanding of the love our Heavenly Father has for us.

That might be easy for those of us with good earthly fathers. Unfortunately, we live in a broken world. A world where kids don’t have fathers or they have abusive/neglectful fathers and so this analogy can be difficult for some people.

However, there are three people who have taught me more about God’s unconditional love for me than my earthly father has (and I’ve got an amazing earthly father). Those three people are my children.

Children love their parents unconditionally. I can really mess up. I sometimes get really angry at my kids and yell at them and say things that may be true, but in an unkind way. I’m being sanctified in this area. However, when I do mess up, I ask my kids for forgiveness and they instantly forgive me, and not only is their forgiveness immediate, our relationship is instantly repaired. They truly have forgiven and forgotten. They don’t keep a record of wrongs. And I’m not alone in this. Even children of abusive and neglectful parents love their parents!

Now, I understand that these children will continue to grow up and at some point in time it becomes harder to forgive quickly and forget easily but for now they do. And right now they are teaching me about my Heavenly Father’s unconditional love.

My children don’t care if I’m slightly overweight, out of style, and wear no makeup, they love me and think I’m beautiful. They are happy when I’m happy and show compassion and comfort me when I’m sad. They love spending time with me and would love for me to give them even more attention than I do. But even when we just don’t get a whole lot of time together, they still love me. And like I said earlier they are so quick to forgive me, even when I have a hard time forgiving myself.

All of those qualities are true of my Heavenly Father. He doesn’t care about my size, my fashion sense, or how much makeup I wear. He loves me and thinks I’m beautiful. He wants me to have an ultimate happiness and has compassion and comforts me when I’m hurting. He loves spending time with me and wants to spend even more time with me. And he’s so quick – so quick – to forgive and to see Christ in me.

So if you’re having a hard time feeling God’s love, think about your young children. Think about how they love you. How their eyes light up when they see you and how they long to spend time with you! Even if you don’t have a tangible “feeling” of God’s love, know that He does.

 

Published in: on December 23, 2015 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Gap

No, I’m not talking about the store nor am I giving tips on how to get a thigh gap… I’m the LAST person you should ask about that! Rather I am speaking of the gap in age between my 22016565916_1263a2f476_o children. I have a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old and an 1-year old. So you see, there’s a big, 6 year gap between daughter #1 and daughter #2. It wasn’t my choice for there to be such a large gap, but as most Christians know… God ways are not our ways.

This is what I’ve learned from that gap:

  1. I enjoy the gap immensely! I always wanted my children close in age. My brothers are 3 1/2 and 8 1/2 years older than me and growing up I always wished that we were closer in age. Naturally, I then desired that for my children. However, God knew I needed a break. When Hannah, my youngest, came to us the older kids were in school. This gave me a lot of one-on-one time with my baby. I was able to enjoy her and the baby stage of life without also struggling with a major life trauma. That first year of babyhood with little Hannah was more than I could have ever asked for.
  2. It gets easier! (At least in a sense.) Don’t get me wrong, there are still some major challenges as the kids get older and some that aren’t as easy to deal with. Discipline and scratched knees at age 3 is pretty straight forward, but when you’re dealing with an older child lying regularly or being treated poorly by others in the neighborhood, your heart breaks and you often find yourself at a loss on how to handle the situation. But, the constant demands of having small children goes away. And those constant demands are HARD!!! My house got to a point where it stayed pretty dang clean (and quiet) and I have to admit…  I liked having a clean house!
  3. You forget how hard those toddlers are! So #2 is nothing new. Every mom of young children has heard, “It gets easier!” I’m not sure how helpful it is to hear that, even if it’s true, because little ones take a lot out of you. Here’s something that most moms don’t realize. They forget just how hard it was! Last year, having a baby, was easy peasy (she was an easy baby.) But man! Having a one-year-old is non-stop work! She is all over the house and can navigate the stairs well! She gets into everything: I’m folding laundry while she’s taking clothes out of drawers. I’m sweeping the floor while she’s taking all the books off the shelf. I’m cleaning the toilet while she’s unrolling a roll of toilet paper down the hall. I get tired just thinking about it! Would I trade my toddler for a clean house? NOT EVER! But, see, I just thought I had finally gotten a hold on this whole mother thing. Ha! In reality, my older kids were just at school for large portion of the day!
  4. I no longer regret the passage of time. I know how fast time flies, from experience, so I am more willing to stop what I’m doing and read a book, stack blocks, or give raspberries now than I was with my older two. At the same time, I also know just how many awesome childhood experiences are coming up. While I miss my snuggly baby times, I LOVE my babbling toddler times, but also look forward to the conversations I will have when she’s 7. This also helps me to slow down and better engage with my older kids. I enjoy who they are at 7 and 9, they have really neat individual personalities.
    4432498681_99a1b2cb11_o

    See how cute they were?!

    And when I see their baby/toddler pictures, I smile and love that little person. But I’m glad that John is no longer 1, I’m glad he’s reading novels, writing Star Wars songs, loving science and asking questions about the Bible. I love that Lydia is a social butterfly, who loves crafts, friends, and playing outside. This is good and it is right.

Sometimes I call Hannah my “dangly baby” because the first two are so close together and then there’s the 6 year gap. And while I didn’t plan to have a “dangly baby” I’m glad I do, and I highly recommend it! 😉 I can’t imagine life any other way. I’m so glad that God blessed me with Hannah and if having Hannah means having a 6 year gap, I’d do it over again in a heartbeat!

Published in: on December 11, 2015 at 9:14 am  Comments (1)  

Journal December 7

2015

Philemon:

  • Did Paul change the slave’s name to Onesimus, since Paul says he was once useless and is now useful and Onesimus means useful?
  • See Deut. 23:15-16!
  • So much a picture of the gospel in this short book. Onesimus’s life changes after conversion. Paul appeals to Philemon to receive or welcome Onesimus as though he were Paul – just as God will receive us just as though we were Jesus. Paul “pays” Onesimus’s debt. Paul is an advocate – just like Christ is our advocate. Paul is calling for Philemon to treat Onesimus as an equal, a brother, rather than a slave.
  • http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-paul-worked-to-overcome-slavery
Published in: on December 7, 2015 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interdependence

As Americans we’re taught that being independent is a great value. And in some ways it is. It is important to grow up and become an adult and take care of yourself.

However, the Bible teaches us that God made us to be dependent. We depend on Jesus for our salvation and we depend on the Holy Spirit for our sanctification. Not only that, but we know that the triune God — Father, Son, and Spirit — are social. Part of us being made in His image is that we are social beings.

The Bible also teaches about the church and our community within the church. Over 50 times the Bible gives us a “one another” command. For example John 15:17, “This I command to you, that you love one another.” and Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (emphasis added) We’re also told to rejoice with those who rejoice and morn with those who morn. The Bible commands us to live in community.

I’ve lived in Utah for almost 10 years now. Ten years of adult life without any family nearby or long-time friends. I’ve learned to just get things done. My handsome husband is a hard worker and has faithfully provided for our family. But, he works full-time, and I can’t ask him to help me with everything that comes up. When I’m sick and the kids are sick, we muddle through. When my back starts acting up, the kids get to watch a lot of TV and I drive around in pain. Date nights were at a minimum (babysitters are expensive, and we don’t pay ours enough!) As the kids have gotten older, it’s gotten easier, but I’ve gotten really good at being on my own and just figuring it out.

Last month my parents were visiting for an extended period of time. We all arrived in Utah on the 18th (after quite the road trip) and on the 19th I strained my calf muscle so badly that I couldn’t walk. I woke up on the 20th and as my husband left for work he encouraged me to call my mom so that she could help me. I was hesitant. My parents had been stuck in the car with myself and my children for days and I wanted to give them a break. So, I hesitated to ask my parents for help. MY PARENTS. The people who gave me life, fed me, clothed me, wiped my bottom, paid for my college, the people who love me selflessly and unconditionally. I know that may not be true for all people, but it’s true for me. My parents love me. And without my asking, they came over. My mom watched my kids and my dad took me to the doctor. I was helpless, and they helped me.

But what struck me was not only that I was hesitant to ask for help, but I was hesitant to ask my parents. In the 10 years I’d lived in Utah, I had become so independent, that I didn’t even want to ask my parents for help. This is not OK. This is pride. When we’re not willing to live in community and ask for help, we’re being prideful. In Utah, there are a lot of people who don’t have family nearby. We, as the church, need to be family for one another. This means that we not only need to be willing to ask for help, but we also need to be willing to be inconvenienced and offer help whenever possible.

I’m very blessed. After almost 10 years, we’ve made some good friends and have attended churches where other people have been willing to be inconvenienced for my sake, for the sake of the body of Christ they have practiced the “one anothers” and been hands and feet to me.

Thank you Jesus, for creating us to live in community. Lord, humble me and give me willingness to ask and receive help when I need it. And give me a heart that leaps at the opportunity to help others.

Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 9:49 pm  Leave a Comment