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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gives Good Gifts

Matthew 7:11 says- If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Sometimes I tend to claim the verses that remind me how much work I need to do.  It probably stems from my good Reformed heritage, knowing we are totally depraved and all that, I often feel the need to remind myself of all the work I need to be doing out of LOVE (not requirement, though sometimes I think we all forget) for Jesus and what he did/does for us.  But every now and then a verse like this will come to mind and just remind me how awesome our God is and how much he LOVES to love us.

During this season of anticipation, thanks, joy, and of course gift-giving, I am reminded of all the gifts we have been given and are going to be given by our Heavenly Father.  Particularly as I think about giving gifts to my kids.  This is one of those times when being a parent can bring your heart just so close to God's.  On any given day my kids can make me cry with frustration, jump for joy, laugh at their humor, yell with anger, and shed tears of pride at their accomplishments.  No matter the day though, whether it has been mostly good or mostly bad, I always delight in giving them a good gift!  Maybe it's just time- reading together, snuggling together, watching a favorite tv show, or maybe it's a literal gift- a new toy, a book, something I've crafted to give them a fun new activity to try, etc.  The point is, rarely does it cross my mind that maybe they don't deserve it (I say rarely because I can't be 100% sure it hasn't, but not in recent memory) or that I'd rather just withhold something that will bring them joy.  Parents love to bring their kids joy and there are few things that put that sparkle in their eyes faster than a gift, big or small.

This is the first year that I've been able to see my kids get really excited about Christmas.  I love that they talk about Jesus, that is my favorite part.  I also love that every morning when Evie comes downstairs she checks her stocking, she can't help it!  I've had fun finding them gifts I know they'll love, now that their personalities and likes/dislikes are so evident, and they have even been able to tell me what they hope to get. (Evie- Hello Kitty, Elijah- A car)  I also love that Elijah stands in front of the window every time we get a flake of snow and says "Mommy, it's Christmas!  Snow means Christmas! Merry Christmas Mommy, Ho Ho Ho."  And Evie says: "It'll be Christmas when my Hello Kitty comes, right mommy?"

All of this is to say that the giving of gifts to my kids is, in itself, such a gift.  To go out and buy virtually anything they want, within reason, and watch the smiles on their faces...to have the time, ability, energy, to give them the other types of gifts- time, food, even medical care(!), those are blessings!  There are a lot of mamas and daddies out there that cannot give such gifts to their kids, they struggle even to feed their children, and they deal with the type of decision we cannot even imagine- to have to consider actually giving your child up in the hopes of them getting a better life.  My heart and mind are with those mamas today, in addition I am claiming for them and for our family, that God gives good gifts to those who ask.  Can you imagine, how much more lavishly God wishes to shower us with "gifts" when it feels so good for us who are EVIL to give gifts to OUR children?  I pray that this holiday season we will learn to give good gifts, as well as ask for and anticipate the GOOD GIFTS our Heavenly Father wishes to give us.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

On all the things I SHOULD do...

I'm going to write this today, then I think I'm going to print it out and post it alllll over my house to remind myself on days that I'm not at my best.

Here goes.  I choose to embrace mediocre for once in my life.

I am tired.  Tired of all the things out there that I "should" do.  Things that if I was a good mom, wife, human, Christian, ___________(insert your own choice here), I would make time for.  I've never understood people who need to "take a break" from social media before.  I always thought they were responding to catty comments or rude "friends."  But today I am realizing that sometime the break might be from feeling badly about yourself.

On any given day here is a list of the causes and issues I feel I should research or spend time on based on my newsfeed, email, TV commercials, even the church newsletter or conversations with friends:
-Buying locally
-Buying consciously (no slave labor, no sweat shops, no unfair wages, etc.)
-Reducing consumerism in general
-Not buying on Thanksgiving or Black Friday
-Teaching your kids about giving and the excess we have in the US
-Making sure kids do not think Santa is the reason for Christmas
-Read with the kids 20 minutes per day at the minimum
-No TV before age 2, 1 show or less each day
-Vaccines, yea or nay?
-Having a vibrant prayer/devotional life
-Organic foods, GMO's, MSG, Food Dyes, Preservatives, Sugar Content, Fat Content oh my!
-Responsibly-grown and harvested foods
-Food allergies causing everything from digestive issues to insomnia to depression to behavior problems and of course, cancer.
-Antibiotics for my kids, yea or nay?
-Homeopathic remedies in general
-Recycling, finding creative ways to recycle what my local recycling center does not accept
-Homeschooling, should my kids go to mainstream school?
-Buying things vs. making them when everything has a pinterest tutorial
-Making food versus buying it, homemade is better!  Food not lawns!
-Exercise; daily, for a long time, while pregnant, sick, depressed, just DO IT! And if possible, make it hot yoga, spin, or zumba....  Also post selfies of self in gym.

Add your own list, I know there are more, and don't get me wrong, all of these things are things that can be very important.  The problem is that I cannot do it all!  These days we have more chemicals, more options, AND all of the information we could ever need to decide whether or not to subject our families to these things than ever before.  But unfortunately I don't think knowledge is power in this case, sometimes knowledge is regret, knowledge is guilt, knowledge is stress and grief and exhausting.  I want healthy food options for Andy and I and the kids but buying organic is expensive and you have to know the differences between all the symbols at the grocery store and have an app on your phone for the "dirty dozen" of produce.  You also need this scanner app that allows you to scan the barcodes of everything you buy to make sure it wasn't made by a victim of human trafficking or unfair wages.  But what about the items that aren't in the database?  I could be unknowingly supporting these things just like I have all my life, even if I spend an extra 2 hours at the grocery store scanning everything and trying desperately to get a wifi connection in a store that basically acts like a giant vacuum for radio waves or whatever it is 3G is connecting to.

It's a conundrum, it really is.  Because whether or not you choose to embrace any or none of these causes, you pretty much have to have an opinion on all of them or you won't survive your next dinner party.  (maybe an exaggeration)  Plus, maybe you spend several hours a week planning meals and a grocery list for your family to ensure healthy, sit-down, affordable meals together...but that means that you're not able to spend time at the gym right now.  One person will praise you for your efforts to feed your family healthfully, another will condemn you for not making enough time for your own health (what's YOUR excuse?)  This is why we are not supposed to try to please people, only God. We will never please everyone, nor should we try.  But how to balance when all of these things are worthy, they are all important, and all feel like things that could drastically change life for the better?

What do YOU do about it?  Well I'll be the first to say I am just not sure.  All I can do is what I can do.  Maybe it's a cop-out to say I can't lose sleep over this but I can't; I lose enough sleep from kids wandering into my room at night and worries about just the everyday life issues that arise when you have anyone in your life that you love and care about. 

So I'm deciding here and now to let myself off the hook.  I'm going to keep doing what I can- meaning I'll have days when I don't shop at Costco or Walmart, I DO workout at the gym, AND manage to purchase only organic items for our dinner.  Then I will take those items home and add them to my pantry full of stuff with ingredients I can't pronounce.  I'll also have days where I volunteer for an organization like Women At Risk, but I'll be wearing a shirt I bought at Meijer and frankly I'm not sure who made it because I grabbed 3 sizes off the shelf when I had a spare 30 seconds the kids weren't screaming and took all 3 home to try on because goodness knows I am not dragging my offspring into a dressing room since the Maurices Debacle of 2011.

I won't compromise on my kids' faith but there are nights that we forget to pray before bed and days that my kids think Santa was at the manger in Bethlehem.  In fact, I'm considering buying a little Santa to hang around the stable because in the end if they think he was just a nice guy that likes to give presents that also happened to be in attendance at the birth of our Christ I think I am 100% OK with that.  In the end the most important thing to me is that my husband and my kids know that I love them and that the only reason any of us are here to do anything is because we were put here for a purpose.  I also know that no matter how long I live, whether I get cancer, develop some other disease, keep the extra 20lbs I want to lose, or make it to the finish line 120 years old with nothing worse than a bad flu- it won't be because I added any additional days to my life than were already given to me.  Or my kids. 
Pressure is off, go enjoy your family, your home, God's people, and do for them what He has called you to do, not what others call you to do.  It really is the best we can do when we have faith that God will help us accomplish the things that he put us here to accomplish.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Conversation with Elijah

I have to share this conversation with Elijah while it is fresh in my mind.

While we got ready for bed tonight; tucking in, reading stories, singing songs, etc. I chose to sing "Cast All My Cares" for Eli since it's one of this favorites.

I began singing: "I cast, all my cares..."
Elijah: "Mom, what is cares?"
Me: "Well, it means you give God anything you are afraid of so you don't have to be afraid anymore."
Elijah: "Like if I'm scared of monsters?"
Me: "Yes, like being scared of monsters."
Elijah: "Are you afraid of things?"
Me: "Yes, everyone has things they are afraid of."
Elijah: "Like when I'm a monster, then you can give that to God and not be scared anymore."
Me: "That's right!"
Elijah: "Oh, my dad has things he's scared of.  And Ryan, and Trevor, and Evie."
Me: "Yup, they all have things, can I keep singing?"
Elijah: "Yep."
Me: "I lay, all of my burdens..."
Elijah: "Mom, what is burdens?"
Me: "Well, things that make you sad, what makes you sad?"
Elijah: "When you give me spanks I get sad."
Me: "What else."
Elijah: "When daddy gives me spanks I get really REALLY sad."
Me: "Yes, I bet it does, anything else?"
Elijah: "When Papa gives me spanks I am bad, and I get really upset, and then I am sad."
Me: "Right, and I bet you were sad when you lost your sunglasses too, right."
Elijah: "Oh yeah, losing my sunglasses makes me sad too, they were grey and maybe I can get new ones that fit me that are grey like they were."
Me: "Maybe, can I finish singing now?"

This conversation has been shortened for your reading pleasure, lots of stuttering and repeated words removed ;)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Reasons my Toddler is Crying

If you have not seen the blog of the guy that does a regular post of "reasons why my kid is crying," you should check it out.  I would link it, but don't really feel like hunting it down right now ;)

Regardless, I think it's a fantastic idea and right up my slightly sarcastic way of dealing with the stress of kids.  So here are a few reasons my toddlers were crying this week (or today, possibly just today).

1- I sang the wrong song.  While I had begun singing the correct song, I could not unsing the previous melody and this was not appreciated.

2- I refused to let my toddler poke me in the face anymore.

3- My toddler wanted to hand the item to the cashier, no matter if she had already scanned the item.

4- The nutrigrain bar had a slight bend it in.  aka  IT IS BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR AND/OR INJESTION!!!!

5- The sailboat we have at home is not the sailboat our friend had, nor is it "my size."

So, how many irrational 30lb crazies have you dealt with this week? :)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Three Year Old Thoughts

I want to get back into blogging.  I love reading back over stuff I blogged and remember things I honestly would have forgotten otherwise!  Today I got an email from a friend of mine who I had over the other night to talk "twins" as she is also expecting boy/girl twins.  We discussed nursing twins, the difficulties I experienced, expectations vs. realities, ideas for getting as much sleep as possible, products needed/not needed etc.  Then she left, and I thought to myself: "Did I say ANYTHING positive about having twins?!"
Praise the Lord she left feeling good about our conversation, she wrote me an email saying the evening had helped her prepare and feel a bit more confident, for which I was so thankful because I was really worried I needed to call and apologize.
I wrote her a reply, and upon rereading the email before I sent it I felt like I needed to post this because it was one of those moments where I had really said what I meant.  Had summed it up well, and the thoughts I'd been having might be expressed well as a little 3-year summary.  So here is what I wrote:

  Ok, I am so happy you sent this because you left and I was like "Did I say ANYTHING positive about having twins?!"  It's just weird because I'm on "the other side" now, in a lot of respects.  The first year is hard, the second year is a different kind of hard, and the third year, yet another kind. But with each passing month/year you just get better at it, and life becomes "normal," and so looking back I'm like- "yeah, I was kind of a crazy person for awhile there!" 
But seriously, I am SO. THANKFUL. that God gave us twins and that he gave them to us first.  I look at things a lot in how they have changed me or made me a better person and I think having these two has just taught me so much about who I am, and what kind of mom I really am vs. who I thought I would be etc.  So much of that has just been incredibly influenced by there being "two of them," as I often say.  I love that they taught me to chill out, to not be a helicopter mom, to realize that parenting does not always mean doing things the way you want, the way people tell you to, the way you thought you would.  I love that I've learned to be flexible. I have a feeling I would have been this way anyway, but having twins made it OK to just let the little things go, it gave me permission to be the mom I am and not that mom people think I should be.
It's brief, and perhaps a bit disjointed, but it's so true.  I feel like I'm a this stage in life where a bunch of my friends that had the first round of kiddos with me are now having their second round and suddenly joining me in The World Of Two Children.  We reminisce about the differences between 1 and 2 (um, yeah, I have no clue), being a first time mom and a second time mom, (again, no clue really!), and how laid back we've gotten.  But then I realize that I've lived in this weird limbo state of 1.5 kids.  Like yes, I have two, but I've only approached, lived through, and told the tale of each stage one time.  I haven't learned things and gotten to apply them to kid #2.  I've just done it, whatever I chose to do, to both kids, and prayed for the best. 
I love (some of) ever minute of it, I like to be different(sorta different, there are a lot of twins out there these days!), I like that there is no rule book, that every once in awhile I get to say- there are two of them and I'm playing the twin card!  But I also love that we are there, we are enjoying, we are seeing the benefits, we are breathing again.  I am tired and have days that I just want to run away, but more than ever before, I feel like the mom of two kids who is figuring it out.  I say I "feel like I'm there," but I know I haven't arrived.  Boy do I know to NEVER SAY THAT.  As soon as you think you've got it figured out, things change, and honestly, I'm sitting on my couch right now with a glass of wine watching HGTV.  The frustrations of the day are behind me, but those frustrations, (not the kids) they will rear their ugly heads tomorrow and I'll be back to feeling helpless and a little like a crazy person.  So all in all, 3 years old is looking great.  It's looking so different from 2 and I am so excited...