Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Parenting Makes Me the Student

We took Micah to his genetics checkup in Cincinnati yesterday. His doctor always orders labwork to check his amino acid levels and that's not Micah's idea of fun. I told him that I would not let them do that unless it were necessary to keep him healthy and that I was sorry that it hurt.  But as much as he hates it and I hate to see him cry, I don't ever stop them from drawing his blood. Why? 

Because I love him. Because I know that they need to check his leucine levels so we can make adjustments to keep him healthy. Because that's the only way we can take good care of his health. 

I can see the bigger picture. He sees the immediate: his brief pain, his fear. 

So often when things happen in life that I don't like I act just like my three-year-old. I react in panic thinking there must be some mistake instead of remembering that God loves me. God loves me much more than I can ever love Micah and I can rest in His love.  

He loves me. He's making the adjustments in my life to keep me healthy spiritually. He can see the future goal while I see the disappointments. He sees the purpose; I see the pain. 
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.  2 Corinthians 4:17
God is continually at work in my life because He loves me.  Psalm 138:8 states, "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me:" Philippians 1:6 reminds me, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." 

Micah runs to me after they draw his blood. He is calmed by my assurances of love for him and remembers how we always take care of him. I can run to God in my problems and be reassured by His promise of love toward me and remember what He has done for me in the past.  Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

Micah should mature and handle the labwork better even though it will never be something he looks forward to. I should also mature spiritually and rest in God's sovereignty and love even though I don't long for problems. God is allowing it because He loves me. Just like we let them draw Micah's blood because we love him. 

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side; 
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; 
Leave to thy God to order and provide; 
In every change He faithful will remain. 
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

"Be Still, My Soul" by Catharine von Schlegel

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tune My Heart, Turn My Hands

Mondays are our big housekeeping days. We clean the whole house, we do laundry, and we try to do most of our normal things as well. And by normal I mean reading to the boys, playing outside, quiet time, piano practice, and eating. Eating's pretty much non-negotiable. 

I don't dread Mondays but there is a lot to do. So what helps me? The right attitude of course. My main priority is training my children not cleaning the house. I will gladly leave some of the work for Tuesday in order to concentrate on what's really important. So what helps me have the right attitude when I'm training and cleaning? 
So will I sing praise unto thy name forever, that I may daily perform my vows.  Psalm 61:8
I praise God. I thank God for my day and praise Him for His goodness while I'm cleaning toilets and instructing Micah. While I change diapers, wipe little hands, and change out the laundry, I can be thankful for disposable diapers (props to you people who use cloth!), babies in my house, and a washer and dryer!

photo courtesy of sakhorn38/

Praising God- recognizing Who He is and what He's done for me- gives me the strength and motivation to do my work.  God wants my heart and my hands every day. He wants my heart tuned to Him. I need to be sensitive to His direction for my day and let Him live through me. And then I need to turn my hands to the work He has given me for the day. 

Tune my heart. 
Turn my hands.  
And in that order. 

And I am to perform this work. Make it beautiful. Pursue excellence. Recognize the value of my work just like any artist's work.  Homemaking, mothering, being a wife- it's anything but boring.

This life that I've given to God is my vow. It's unquestionable, just like our marriage vow is supposed to be. It's not a question of whether or not I feel like it in the morning. God demands my everything. 

So I'm going forth today with praise. Knowing Who God and reminding myself of Him encourages me to continue.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Favorites

I love pianos. I love piano music. I love to play the piano (although sometimes it's very frustrating.) If we ever add on to our house I dream of a room with huge windows, built-in bookcases, a comfy couch, and a baby grand piano! A girl can dream, right?? 

photo courtesy of salvatore vuono/

I'm not quite at the three songs a week in my technique book to finish it by August but I am making steady progress through my book. And I'm working on my scales book too. It's very helpful. 

Thankfully, I don't expect significant changes day by day. But I do year by year. Just pushing through practice some days will pay off in the long run! It's nice to have something to work on for personal growth too. I finally admitted this year that I do intend to become a good pianist. 

What's something you're passionate about? I told Justin that I want to really concentrate on learning three things over my life. My Bible and how it applies to life, piano, and cooking. (And if I picked a fourth it would be writing.) We had a great discussion on what we really wanted to learn in life. We really need to have some direction to not waste our time aimlessly working on random things. 

Have you ever considered defining a focal point for your learning? 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How Do I Obey?

The boys and I are reading through the Gospels and Psalms at breakfast and I was stopped in my tracks yesterday. Or stopped in my reading.  Here's what I read. 
I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. Psalm 119:59-60
How much thought do I really put into my life? I remember our Pastor preaching about this one time. There are Bible verses about considering my paths. It makes sense to consider what I am doing. But what's my purpose in this consideration? This verse tells me what my purpose is supposed to be: I am supposed to be aligning my life with the Bible. 

I need to evaluate my life by the Bible and change what doesn't match. Constantly consider if I am following or violating Biblical principles. Turning takes effort. It might not be easy- probably won't be easy- to change because I am going against the flesh. But I am to turn my feet. God isn't just going to zap me from heaven and change me into a Bible-living Christian. I have to turn myself when God reveals a digression from His Word. 

There are endless "ways" to contemplate and compare to the Bible. My speech. My mothering. My marriage. My priorities. My love. You get the idea; I will never arrive. I can apply this verse every single day. 

photo courtesy of geww/

How quick am I to obey the Bible? Micah and I have been continuing to work on obeying "right away." It's a habit I want to form early in his life so that when he grows up (hopefully- he has to make his own choices) he will obey God right away. Nothing good comes from delaying obedience and frequently bad things come from disobedience. (Delayed obedience is disobedience.) 

But what about me? How do I obey? When God reveals something to me, whether in Bible reading, personal rebuke from a mentor,  or the preaching, how quickly to I obey? Do I make excuses for why I don't have to obey right then? I need to form a habit in myself of immediately doing what God tells me. Nothing spooky here- what He tells me in His Word. There's more than enough there to last me a lifetime without adding weird stuff. God will bless my habit of obedience. 

This was not in my personal reading yesterday but it stuck with me all day long. Writing about it helps cement the idea in my heart and mind so that it is more likely to become part of me.  I've commented to Justin before that I learn far more than my children in their training and instruction. And let me tell you, I really need it. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Work of a Homemaker

Home is the true wife's kingdom. There, first of all places, she must be strong and beautiful. She may touch life outside in many ways, if she can do it without slighting the duties that are hers within her own doors. But if any calls for her service must be declined, they should not be the duties of her home. Those are hers, and no other one's. Very largely does the wife hold in her hands, as a sacred trust, the happiness and the highest good of the hearts that nestle there. J. R. Miller
As homemakers we are blessed to be able to experience a small part of the work of God.  We fulfill a role that is often undervalued by society and yet so necessary to sustain it. 

1. We get to prepare places of beauty and order. Just as God did. I marvel when I look at the physical universe. It's so beautiful! I can't begin to imagine what it looked like before it was marred by sin. And God created stunning visions that humans will never see. He put beauty in outer galaxies where humans will never go. There is a world at the depths of the oceans that we will never know. Why did He do this? For His own enjoyment. Because He loves beauty. He had them decorate His temple (and the tabernacle) with beautiful things (2 Chron. 3:6). The priests wore clothes for glory and beauty (Ex. 28:2). There is beauty in His sanctuary (Ps. 96:6). Just do a Bible search on the word "beauty" and see how God expresses His design for beauty. 

God created things in order. He tells us to do things "decently and in order." (1 Cor. 14:40)  There is a time and a place for everything. He has an order for the home, the church, the seasons, the ocean. God loves order as well! 

We have the opportunity to create beauty and order in our homes. We are the ones who will create meals. Meals that we eat with our eyes first; food should look appetizing.  We will select the wall colors, how the furniture is arranged. We will decide to put the soft blanket in the chair where we read with our babies. We will follow a cleaning schedule; teach the children to pick up their toys; order our lives to better serve God.

2. We prepare for others. God prepared the world before He created man and woman. He had a physical environment perfectly suited to their needs. We may not be able to copy the "perfect" but we can copy the plan. We are to prepare our homes for the people who live in them. Our homes are not museums or showplaces. They aren't for the purpose of impressing others or puffing up our egos.

My husband needs a place to rest, be rejuvenated, enjoy his family. He needs a place to concentrate on his work. My children need space to learn, play, read, be children. My first concern is to prepare the place for the people.
The preparation and care of the family shelter are important enough for God Himself to assign that responsibility.  Dorothy Patterson
God is still preparing heaven for His people. His work will be done when He takes us home. Our work will be done when we are taken home. Never grumble because the work is never done. The home is a living work to create every day, not a piece of art to hang on the wall.

3. We are living examples to the faithfulness of God's love and care. God faithfully loves and cares for us regardless of our sin, failures, mistakes, and shortcomings. The people who live in our homes are not perfect. They will disappoint us. They will fall short of our expectations. They will even perhaps make us look bad. But we are to still love and care for them. 

We are to care for them when they are ill or we are tired. We are to remain faithful to our duties even when "something better comes along" or "the grass looks greener" somewhere else. 

Our families should be followed by our prayers and our love no matter where they go or what they are doing. Hopefully they will be serving God's purposes but even if they are not they are never out of God's reach. 

What an amazing work we are privileged to hold in our trust. May we always take it seriously and offer it back to God.  Hebrew 13:16: "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday Favorites

As I read I keep lists of books that I want to read in the future. Often I like to look at lists of books that other people recommend and try some of those. I saw this book on a list and was skeptical about the title. However I respected the listmaker and when I found the Kindle edition for $1.99 I couldn't resist. And am I ever glad I didn't! 

"Don't Make Me Count to Three!" has nothing to do with counting to three or time-out. But it has everything to do with not only teaching your children what-not-to-do but also what TO DO.  I completely changed several things that I do with Micah and I could see the difference in only a few days. 

I don't intend for this to be a review for the book so suffice it to say that I LOVE it. It will be reread frequently and I will be buying this book for my close friends that have children and recommending it to everyone else. 

(Am I the only person that really prefers to have a hard copy of the book instead of the Kindle version? I love being able to hold the book, see it on a bookshelf, mark in it, and all that crazy stuff book lovers do. And yes, I know there are benefits to the Kindle. They are cheaper and I can take a whole bunch with me and only have my iPad. So I buy them, but I would still rather have a paper copy. I'm weird, old-school, whatever. I love books.)

Oh, and I was in no way compensated for this review. Ginger Plowman has no idea who I am. I just loved the book and wanted to share. :) 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Current Rhythms of Life

I love a schedule. It's really more of a rhythm since it's constantly being thrown off by the needs of a husband and children. Gone are the days are doing a task at 10:30 sharp. Someone's going to need to sit on the potty or we're going to clean food off the floor get the idea. My little people are always more important than my to-do list. 

And yet, having a rhythm gives everyone stability. I know what to expect. I know when the work is going to be done so I don't have to stress over it. I'm getting really good at saying, "Oh, the rug needs vacuumed. That's ok because I'll do it on Monday." 

There's a lot of research (google it) about how having a schedule helps children. They know what to expect. They learn there is a time and place for activities. They grow in self-discipline as they follow a schedule. 

But our schedule is constantly changing. It changes as children stop napping or cut out a nap. It changes when things are added to your schedule. It changes as children grow and start doing new things. It changes as seasons of life change. Moves, job transitions, new babies, and new responsibilities all affect the rhythm of life. That's why I prefer to call it a rhythm. 

photo courtesy of samuiblue/

So what does our rhythm look like now? 

Mondays are cleaning day. We do all of our major cleaning on Mondays now. I really like this change and it's still pretty new. While it does make Monday a full day it frees up time on other days.  It typically takes all day to clean the whole house because I stop frequently to read books, practice piano, play outside, cook, snuggle the baby, do laundry, etc. That's the whole point of being here! 

Tuesdays (over the summer) a teen girl from church spends the day with us. We bake, play with the boys, and chat. It's a lot of fun! 

Wednesdays (every other week) are shopping day! And I mean groceries. I do NOT prefer to go clothes shopping with small children and the budget prefers I don't do that every other week anyway :) Shopping typically takes us out of the house from after breakfast to just before lunch. 

Thursdays alternate. One week we have a playdate with a friend and her little boy. The other week (after shopping day) we have kitchen day. We bake, freeze meat, make chicken broth; generally we prepare the food we bought the day before. Again, this takes all day because we are doing all of our "normal" activities too. 

Fridays we go to Toddler Time and then have Date Night once the boys are in bed. 

Weekends don't change that much. We are pretty busy at church and then Justin does yard work and sometimes parents visit. 

We make it a priority for the boys and I to be home as much as possible. How else can we read stacks of books, play games, go for walks, swing, snuggle, and learn new things if we're not here?  It you're going to be a homemaker you have to be there! If you are going to train children, it's easiest at home.

Home is Micah's favorite place right now. It's not unusual for him to ask when we are going home soon after we arrive somewhere else. I want to make home a place they enjoy the entire time they live here. Our rhythm helps us do that. And of course the rhythm benefits my husband too. He enjoys a clean house, clothes to wear, yummy food, happy children, and plenty of fun! 

Of course we have a daily rhythm of when we eat, play, practice, rest, read, and all that other stuff. But this has gone on long enough! 

What's your rhythm? What's your secret for making it work for your family?

Monday, July 15, 2013

10 Things I Learned Last Week

Last week my husband took a business trip to Atlanta. He's never been gone for a week before so it was an interesting experience for everyone. His training went well and we learned some interesting things. 

1. I have the utmost respect for military families. I have friends and family who have had husbands deployed for parts (or all of) a year! I cannot imagine how much courage and stamina that takes. 

2. We're so country. We were very impressed by the 19 floors in one of the office buildings. Sad, I know. 

3. Justin knows about my food love and therefore took pictures of all his food. He's a good man. He ate at an authentic taqueria and from a food truck! And let's not talk about the Chick-fil-A every morning. 

4. Facetime is awesome.  Awesome! 'Nuff said. 

5. If Justin were gone often I might gain weight because I bake to console myself in his absence. 

6. I only checked the closet once the whole time he was gone. Points for me. 

7. However if something falls in the bathroom cabinet in the middle of the night it is scary. 

8. Apparently I stay up late and watch movies. I meant to go to bed early. I love nighttime. Why, why must I love evenings? 

9. Home really is where the husband is. 

10. One last thing...I just figured out that I place higher expectations on myself for attitude and work ethic when Justin's gone. Mostly because I know that I have to handle it.  I want to work on being dedicated to my "work" when he's here so I can be a blessing to him as well. Higher expectations for me instead of for him. 

And I don't mind if he never goes away again :) 

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Justin snapped a few pictures after church tonight. I love my boys! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Favorites

I'm still working on my reading program for this year and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Except for when I read something convicting. Then I'm not so sure about enjoyment...

Right now I'm reading "What Is A Family?" by Edith Schaeffer. She has an unusual writing style but this book is engaging and thought-provoking. I want to share two quotes from the second chapter. 
How precious a thing is the human family. Is it not worth some sacrifice in time, energy, safety, discomfort, work? Does anything come forth without work?... Somebody has to get up early, stay up late, do more than the others, if the human garden is to be a thing of beauty. 
The family is even more important than rare species of birds, and taking on the career of being a mother and wife is a fabulously rare lifework in the twentieth century, and a very challenging job.  
As I copied these two quotes down I flipped through the book I found several others that were equally compelling. The book is worth the money just for the second chapter alone.  I love the "fabulously rare lifework" as a description of marriage and motherhood.  It's starting to really soak into my heart instead of just being in my head. 

A few weeks ago I attended a business dinner with my husband and we sat at a table with two lovely career ladies. We had a great conversation about their jobs and the work they did and not once did I feel the slightest bit bad that I was "only" a wife and mother. Progress is slow but progress does happen. I'm glad God is so patient with me. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Early K-3

I said a few weeks ago that we (Micah and I) were in unofficial school. And I really meant unofficial. I never call it "school" to Micah. I want him to think that learning is fun and normal, not shoved into a small corner of time called "school." However despite all that I did put some supplies in a basket. (Actually, it was linen bin I had in Kevin's closet.)

The Contents

We have our Bible story book and our "God Made the World" book in our basket. We read through this storybook when Micah was little but haven't use it for a while. He loves the other book. 

There are three number books. He especially likes "Ned's Number Book." It's very cute. And old. 

We have four alphabet books. He really enjoys them all but especially the big flip book at the bottom. 

Our Bible principle notebook that I made (and haven't finished- need some applicable stickers.)

A coloring book and a tracing workbook. We'll probably start "tracing" with our finger to begin with. 

I stuck two little books for Kevin in there. Micah loved the Mommy book when he was little and he really enjoys "The Hungry Caterpillar." We just bought it for Kevin.

Two little sets of flashcards. This is how I know Micah knows his colors :) 

And a color/shapes puzzle and an alphabet puzzle that we haven't really used yet. 

We don't work out of it every day but we read the number and alphabet books almost every day. He really enjoys reading so it's a fun way to teach him! We'll gradually add in more work with some of the other materials as we progress. 

The bin sits by the couch so it's easy to pick something out of it when we're reading and he frequently looks through it when the boys are playing. I like having it in the bin instead of the bottom of the bookcase because really, who wants to sit on the hard floor to read? Although it might help me stay awake...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Growth in Discomfort

When I pray for God to make me more what He would have me to be I'm often picturing some miraculous zapping of my heart that occurs while life is going just the way I would like. Comfortable. Easy. Expected. 

That's not really how it works. See, we have to be faced with discomfort to grow. We have to be pushed, stretched, bent to change. If life is all roses then I don't have to practice being longsuffering. I don't have to take a stand against wrong. I don't have to choose my priorities and base my decisions on them. I don't have to count on God to come through.  I can just coast. 

And coasting is not growing. 

Growing is dying. Pushing through dirt. Enduring the hot sun. Suffering though downpours. Being pushed around by weeds.  And then you get  to be something useful. Or beautiful. I'd prefer to be useful and beautiful. 

-I grow as a mother when I choke back irritation and show the toddler how to do it correctly again. 

-I grow as a mother when I get up cheerfully (or at least without sighing and rolling my eyes) to care for a needy little one when I wanted to rest. 

-I grow as a wife when I deny myself again to help my husband. When I smile and ask what I can do to help him when I want to complain.  

-I grow as a pianist when I work and work over a passage or technique that is uncomfortable or unfamiliar. 

-I grow as a pianist when I play in front of people and *eek* mess up again. 

-I grow as a lady when I practice being gracious and bite back sarcasm. When I reach out to that person I would rather avoid. 

-I grow in discipline when I chose to get out of bed instead of keep sleeping. When I chose to workout instead of sit on the couch. When I stop looking at Pinterest and change the laundry. 

It would be much more comfortable to go with the flow. To sleep in all the time. To do what everyone else is doing. To give in to pressure. To stop when things are hard. 

But I would stop growing. 

Growing is uncomfortable. But I want to grow. At the end of the year, month, week, day I want to be farther along this path of being God's lady. I don't want to be the exact same person I am today. 

So I should not be surprised when God gives me (uncomfortable) opportunities to practice what He's teaching me. He's helping me grow.

photo credit: zirconicusso/

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday Favorites

Micah couldn't find the right book while I was practicing piano....

My favorite raspberry bars

Micah helped clean the tub. He really did clean part of it but I think his main goal was to get wet! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Teaching Mamas

Psalm 25 is one of my favorites! Over and over it says that God will teach us. God is my teacher!  That's very reassuring to me! Number one, I need a lot of teaching. I'm glad God expects me to need teaching and knows I don't know it all. Number two, well, there is no number two. 

And you know what? Mamas are teachers too. Regardless of how you school your children it is one of your responsibilities to teach them. I feel that this concept is largely missing from most people's ideas about parenting. And it shows. Some of these children who ride our bus to church don't know anything practical! 

photo courtesy of stuart miles/

I love being able to stay home with my children! If I weren't here all day my time with them would be very limited. I would not have time to teach them all the things that I wanted. I usually feel like I'm running out of time now. 

The wonderful thing about teaching our children is that we have to spend time with them to teach them! They need our time and attention and our training. 

So teach those babies. 
Teach them about Jesus.
Teach them the books of the Bible. 
Teach them to pray. 
Teach them to make bread. 
Teach them to do laundry. 
Teach them to ride a bike. 
Teach them to play the piano. 
Teach them to be kind. 
Teach them to work hard. 
Teach them to love Jesus. 
Teach them to help others. 
Teach them to garden. 
Teach them to dice an onion. 
Teach them to shoot a basketball.
Teach them whatever your "thing" is. 
Teach them everything you can possibly find time to teach them. 

Why don't we teach our kids? 

1. We're too impatient. We can do it faster ourselves. True. Do you know how much longer it takes to vacuum if the three-year-old is helping? Just try it yourself. But it's worth the result. I want my little boy to love spending time with me, to love to work, and to know how to vacuum (or whatever we're doing.) 

2. We have the wrong priorities. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to make our children as comfortable (spoiled) as possible. We aren't their servants. They don't need to be waited on. But we can be determined to make them miserable as adults by never teaching them to do anything for themselves. We are here to teach our children to be effective servants for Christ. Lazy is not in the definition. 

3. It takes too long. Sound the same as number one? It's not. Rarely does a small child learn to do something the first time you show them. You have to do it s-l-o-w-l-y over and over every day. 

4. We're too busy doing other things. What is more important than preparing your children to grow up and serve God? I can clear up my priorities really quickly by asking myself that question.  I don't want to just park them in front of the tv all day. Or park myself in front of the computer all day. 

Invest in their lives; the payoff will be worth it. 

Yes, you are a mom. But you are also a teacher. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

5 Reasons I'm Glad My Blog Isn't Big

I've been reading an Ebook by a blogger who was offered a book deal because of the success of her blog, actually a three book deal! She was so excited and took the offer; then she realized she was missing the important stuff. Stuff that was more important than blogging or books or money or fame. 

 It made me realize that I'm glad that no one hardly anyone reads my blog. Why? Well, I thought of five reasons. There are probably more but these were the essentials. 

1. There's no pressure. If I were to not post for a month because life got busy or I had nothing to say, no one would be emailing me asking where I was. 

2. It's my own little world. If I want to post pictures of my adorable kids in every post, I can. If I want to tell you how I feel about drinking Dr. Pepper or eating pretzel bread, I can. 

3. My writing style definitely needs improving. And I think it is! Don't believe me? Go back and read from the first year I blogged.

 Actually, don't. It's that bad. 

photo courtesy of stuart miles/

4. I never worry about how many people "like," "share," or ignore my  posts. I do nothing to promote my blog. (Actually, that's one of the reasons hardly anyone reads my blog.) The most I do is on occasion link a post to Facebook, but I rarely do that. 

5. I don't get hate mail. And there are plenty of people who hate what I write. But they don't know it's here so they don't read it and then they don't email me about it! Or comment on it. Pretty great, right?? 

I truly enjoy blogging. I like the thought that I have to put into ideas to make it understandable. I like having the record of our family and different things we are doing. My goal is for my posts to line up with the Bible and it's fun to share that. But I'm glad that, at least for now, it's just for fun. 

So if you're reading this, I'm glad! If you're not, well, I'm glad of that too.