Tuesday, November 26, 2013

40 Days of Being Still

I was so encouraged by friends last week on my "40 Days" post. So thank you. You know who you all are.

I'm noticing some really good changes in my every day life from starting the "Being Still" challenge. Every morning I've been letting the kids climb into bed with me and we cuddle for a good half hour- even the baby. Warm, under the covers, and just being together. These moments are so sweet. Lots of kisses and giggles. Inevitably though someone's tummy starts growling and we are headed downstairs for breakfast. But I am less grumpy (I am NOT a morning person) and that's made a world of difference in how I start my day.

Before I let myself get frustrated for the day with spilled cheerios on the floor, fighting over the t.v. channel, or being late for preschool---I've started some really good habits. Instead of pouring the apple juice, the first thing I do is grab my box of matches and light the candle on the stove. And as the match is burning the wick, I am praying that the Lord would help me stay focused on Him throughout the day. I usually pray for patience too because we all know that is not one of my spiritual gifts, ha. I am seeing how much more focused I am in prayer as I am doing something. Reminds me of when I read Brother Lawrence's writings about communing with God in the mundane every day things.

Another change is in my voice. It's amazing how when you shut down technology for most of the day how much quieter it is! We aren't yelling over each other and I'm not getting frustrated and short tempered with kids while trying to get that "really important email" written.

Confession: Sometimes I told my kids I was "working" when I was really checking out posts on Facebook. I know seriously. I really should have been honest and said, "Mommy needs some mindless reading time when you are all getting along and being really quiet."

I have simplified my Bible time and therefore have MORE Bible time. Instead of having a couple of different notebooks, a variety of writing utensils, etc. out to have my quiet time- I literally have two things. My Bible and a pencil.

Ya'll ...or ...You Guys (depending on which side of the family you are on)!!!

How could something so simple have so much more depth? Why do we complicate things that aren't meant to be complicated. Instead of a notebook I have taken to just writing like crazy on the passage that I am reading. This means I am never "missing" that certain notebook and not searching for just the right colored pen. I bought four packs of Ticonderoga pencils and an electric sharpener. This means there are sharpened pencils every where.

Sidenote:  I love a bouquet of sharpened pencils.

So the conclusion of this week is:

simplify+ quiet= depth, calm, and content

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Monday, November 18, 2013

40 Days of Being Still- Week 1 & 2

You know when you commit to something, especially if that something is in the realm of being closer to God -all crazy breaks loose? Yeah, that.


Being still has been a huge struggle these last two weeks. I started out going strong. I lit my candle, prayed my prayers, read my Bible. I felt less stressed, enjoyed the calmness in my home, and even read THREE books. 

And then week two...

And I realized...

That for the first three weeks of this challenge, Hubs would be traveling. 


And as I let the phone creep back into my hand, the computer migrated back down to the living room, and the t.v. came back on...

I felt it all slip away.

And today I was just frustrated. I wanted to be stronger. To not be the one that caved and gave in. But the loneliness and stress of single parenting won. The t.v. was on a lot today. My phone had to be recharged mid-day. And we all know that there was no such thing as a calm and patient mama. 

But tonight I realized something. It's not about me. It's not about how strong I am. It's not about how good a mom I am. And it's not about how in-depth of a quiet time I have. It'

All I'm supposed to be doing is listening. Waiting for that voice, that nudge, that calm presence to guide me through each moment. 

So tomorrow I am starting over. The phone goes back to the docking station. The computer goes back upstairs. And I am going....

 to just listen. 

Don't forget to check out Kendra's updates as well at: Preschoolers and Peace

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Friday, November 1, 2013

40 Days of Being Still

One of the most profound moments of the Allume conference for me was during Sarah Mae's breakout session. At the end of her talk she told us how she was on a "40 Days of Seeking God's Face" challenge. She had basically eliminated technology from her daily routine. She wanted more quiet throughout the day so that she could hear God's voice. Then she challenged us to do the same!

Wow, that's what my heart needed. Since the beginning of my pregnancy  I have had my phone next to me 24-7. And guess what? That's stressful! People expect immediate responses to emails, calls, and texts. My inbox is flooded with useless emails each and every day (I woke up today with 638, really???- I'm a SAHM not an office manager. Why do I need that many emails? Ridiculous!).

Forty days brings us right into the season of Advent. I want to enter Advent with a calm peaceful heart that is focused on Christ and not on the rush of the season. I am going to keep it very simple.

Here's some practical ideas of how to accomplish this. I am going to give you a list of how I am doing this through out the day. Keep in mind that everyone's list would be different. My list is even different from Sarah Mae's!

1. I am leaving my computer in my office and not bringing it down during the day.
2. My cell phone will stay in the kitchen and I will not carry it around with me.
3. I will unsubscribe to the ridiculous amount of emails I am receiving.
4. No online shopping unless I am ordering Christmas gifts.
5. I will not watch GMA in the morning.
6. Eliminate t.v. shows that do not give a wholesome message. Bye Bye RHO...

So what am I doing? This list is even more important! This is where the "being still" suddenly becomes possible. Through out the day I want to actually notice all the gifts that God has given me. Anyone read Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts? My new journal is ready to start recording the beautiful things that I am not noticing because I am so distracted.

1. Find my eucharisteao again. 

2. Specific time in the word each day with journal entry.

3. Light a candle in each room. This is my physical reminder that I am in God's presence! I read this many years ago in a book called Beautiful in God's Eyes. 

4. Fill up the time spent with t.v., cell phone, emails, etc with more fun activities with my children. How about we actually play Creationary, Trouble, or Candy Land.

5. During our homeschool time-making Bible time our FIRST priorty. Even when I am stressed out about getting enough done!

***A little story, wonder why this mama craved the words Sarah Mae was saying? Because I was there with my four month old. Who wouldn't nap at all! Who started fussing during the session. And this mama was tired. And when I walked out of the room 20 minutes into the talk, a tall dark haired women came up to me, took Lorelai out of my arms, and said to go back into the session. And I did. Umm, seriously that was a God moment, because what mother in her right mind would hand her new baby over to stranger and walk away for 30 minutes. So when Sarah Mae issued the challenge my tired grumpy heart was more than eager!***

Each Friday I will post about my progress and if you are interested feel free to comment about how you are living out 40 Days of Being Still. Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace and Stef at Educating Laytons are doing this challenge with me. Feel free to read through our posts each week.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Post Allume

I drove the four hours to Greenville (with a sleeping baby! woot woot!) nervous, excited, and craving. I wasn't even completely sure what I needed out of the conference. I just knew that blogging wasn't fun anymore. I had lost me a long time ago and I needed a new purpose.

Now that I am home from the Allume Conference I have A LOT to process. It was an amazing weekend and just what this tired, restless soul needed. So here is a very brief summary of what I received from the weekend.

My soul had a big hole in it. It had been emptied in the Spring. A rough pregnancy, an exhausting three year old, and then a newborn. I quit all activities. Even gave up teaching bible study and running women's ministry at church (although I really wasn't able to give my best to that anyway). Serious thoughts of "what's my purpose?" or "this isn't enough for me", "am I pleasing God at all?" Yep, just some light pondering.

The thing is... the whole "I'm just a mom thing" freaks me out. Because although that is my number ONE priority and focus right now-- it's not all of me. And the Bible is clear that being a mom isn't all that I am. I am first to LOVE HIM and LOVE OTHERS. It doesn't say focus all your time on your kids and forget that there is a whole world out there. Because let's face it... those kids grow up. And someday they won't need me every minute of the day. Although I will always be there mom and always be involved in their lives whether they want me or not. I figure if I carry battle scars from them being inside me, that gives me permanent involvement status (in a non overbearing obnoxious way of course).

Ok, back to the point and to Allume...

Remember I said I wasn't sure what exactly I needed? Well, I found it. I love being a mom and I love homeschooling. But those two things left me very disconnected to the world. The world that's hurting. And being that homeschool mom- I didn't have a lot of options. With nursing a baby, I can't go on lots of trips to Africa, with homeschooling- I can't volunteer at the crisis pregnancy center. So how can I teach my kids to serve God by serving others if we are home all day? That has been the question that I have wrestled with for a couple of years. (And yes homeschooling is a ministry and I love being a stay at home mom.)

And finally.. (back to Allume yet again)...

I found PRACTICAL ways that I can serve God. That I can take care of orphans and widows. And even more amazingly, I can do it WITH my children. Alongside each other, serving our Lord and not just each other.

***side note*** I say that last sentence with care. I'm seeing the effects of staying home a lot. My kids have become demanding, materialistic, and completely out of touch with the rest of the world. And all moms need to be sensitive of this. ***

Ok, off my soap box... how does this look exactly. Because like some of you reading, I have felt this tug for awhile but was at a loss as to how it could change.

Allume did an amazing job of bringing organizations to light that need help. Help that involves stuff people can do in their homes. Yes, you heard me. I can stay in my pj's, nurse my baby, and serve Jesus with my kids.

So here's the plan for us over the next couple of months....

Please see this list as a guide and not as a post bragging about how spiritual we are. I just know that I needed some practical ideas and I hope this list can just help point you in the right direction for some ministry opportunities for your family.

1. I am doubling up with Kendra from Preschoolers and Peace to write a series called 40 Days of Being Still.  More on that coming this FRIDAY.

2. Our family will serve at Micah's backpack in December. This is an organization that packs bags of food for needy kids to take home over the weekends so they don't go hungry. We did this last year and it was amazing. Even Ellie who was two at the time could fill up bags in the assembly line.

3. We will be cutting out "shoes" for Sole Hope. A ministry that makes shoes for children plagued by jiggers in Africa.

4. As a family we will fill FOUR boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This will be a big commitment financially this year. But I am committed to doing a box for the ages of each of our own kids. They will "shop" for the box they fill. Last year Shane and I split up the kids in teams at Walmart and shopped. It was awesome to teach our kids that for a lot of kids this is their only Christmas present.

5. Make enough baked goods to deliver to FIVE neighbors we have never met. We also want to deliver a meal to a family that recently had a baby.

6. When 40 Days of Being Still concludes we will be into Advent. Ann Voskamp spoke at Allume and gave everyone a copy of her new Advent book. We will be doing this as a family starting December 1. By the way, I will be writing an entire post on meeting Ann Voskamp. All I can say is WOW!

So this long and breathy post is almost at its end. Anyone still reading? I know that words and attitudes can often be misconstrued in social media. So please know that this is what fits my family. This is what finally gave my restless heart peace. The "thing" that I had been searching and struggling with for so long. It may look completely different for you and your family.

If you have any more ideas please comment! I am always looking for practical ways my kids can serve.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Month Four

Month four is definitely the month that babies go from newborn to infant. Lorelai is reaching for things. Pulling herself up in her swing. And interacting so much more with us. This may be my all time favorite age! They don't move anywhere, but are engaged too.
Loving her Jeep walker! Her feet barely touch, but this girl loves to sit up and see what's going on. She also loves (unfortunately for my heart) to put pushed around at fast speeds by her siblings.
Here she is pulling herself up for the first time in the swing. Couldn't believe it when I looked over and saw her!
Obviously very proud of herself!
Here we are hanging out at Avery's ballet class.
First time in the walker at Auntie's house.
After a week of crying and finding out she had an ear infection, she collapsed on me after some meds. Poor baby. I felt horrible!
Color coordinated with her carseat!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sister Love

I think Ellie took these pictures. And although the quality isn't good, it does show how much Avery enjoys taking care of her baby sister. These two are both laid back and CALM and will probably be very best friends when they are older.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Last Week

Made a roasted chicken for the first time and even used the heat thermometer that I inherited from my grandma. Isn't that bird a beaut? I was so proud. But I have a confession. Shane did all the prep! I opened the bag and started getting light headed and almost threw up. So my knight in shining armor swooped in and prepped the bird. I just walked him through it and he did an awesome job! I am still having a hard time with raw meat (obviously). So once the chicken browned up I took over and was able to cook it. Meaning I checked on it periodically so it didn't burn, ha!
This is my favorite lunch right now.
Flat Bread
Kalamata Olives
Feta Cheese
Pine Nut Hummus
Drizzle Italian Dressing (very lightly)
My new organization set-up for school supplies.
Brought out the Autumn wreath and added the Indian Corn. I still need to add a cute bow but I haven't been to the craft store yet for ribbon.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sonlight Curriculum

I am so excited about all the literature we will be reading this year!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Three months old!

Oh how I love those chubby little thighs. All the other babies I've had have been scrawny, so I am enjoying squeezing these little legs.
She is almost always happy.
You talkin to me?

Lorelai, You are bringing us such joy. You are so laidback and have a happy disposition. You love being held and sleep through the night. You're a great eater and have been on a three hour schedule since you were born. Seriously you are such a sweet baby and the perfect baby for mommy to love on all the time. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Future ballerina?

Last week I was able to take Avery to ballet with just Lorelai. It was so fun to watch my 8 year old twirling across the ballet studio.
And this cutie was the perfect date.

See that cute blonde ballerina twirling by the teacher? That's my Avery.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ellie belly

Oh this girl is CRAY CRAY! She is almost always a hot mess. She doesn't care if she has different shoes on, her hair is tangled, dirt on her face, marker all over her arms. She lives life to the fullest. She is energetic and fun. She is really high or really low. And she wears me out! :)
Here she is showing off the 25th piece of gum she stole from my purse.
"Reading" a poetry book while I was organizing Lorelai's new room. Notice no shirt on her? Yep that's totally normal.
Love this little foot up in the air.
Wrote her name completely by herself. Was so PROUD! And she's only three.
Always loving on Lorelai. Which usually means Lorelai is being tortured.
Again, love from Ellie often hurts, ha!
One morning she straight up cried for TWENTY minutes because I wouldn't make her bacon. Trust me after that meltdown I would have wrapped it up in gold if I had some.
Here she is so proud that she got herself dressed. I am impressed that she at least matched!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Birthday weekend

Look what Shane got himself for my birthday. Just kidding. It just so happened that the day we got his man car (he was driving my honda civic which doesn't exactly seat four kids or pull a trailer full of mulch) was right before my birthday.
And this is what I got with all of my birthday money. I use one side for Lorelai and one side for me.
And here are two of my sweeties. Notice the green yarn? My birthday present from Reece.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Shane got one of my absolute favorites! Black Tie Mousse Pie from Olive Garden.
Brought out my September tea cups. The one on the left was my grandma's and the one on the right my mom gave me. My sisters and I each have one.
Reece as the cameraman. Basically a horrible shot, but here I am blowing out the candle. To which the kids told me the piece of pie was way too small for that many candles so they just put one candle on there!

Shane gave me a new bookshelf for my birthday. He was so afraid I would think it was a lame gift. Umm, seriously did he forget he was married to an English teacher?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Two months old

Princess didn't like laying down. But I wanted to see how long she has gotten. Only a month or so longer in the bassinet!
Lorelai with the bunny that Mimi got for her at Build-a-Bear.


You are such a sweet laid back baby. You are a champion eater (as evidenced by your chunky little thighs). You smile a TON and have slept 6-9 hours a night since you were a week old!!! I am so in love with you sweetheart.