{Making the 4th Matter}

I love holidays and I love the 4th of July.

There has always been something about lying on my back on a baseball field with hundreds of other Americans, watching fireworks booming overhead, that has made me so thankful that I was born in this land.

This year, we will be missing out on that great fireworks display since we will be staying local rather than visiting my hometown (The town we live in doesn’t really do much for the 4th).

However, I still want to make it special.  So, a church picnic and a fun BBQ with friends it shall be.

I also like to connect each holiday we celebrate to scriptures.  I like to provide our children with a connection to their Savior whenever we celebrate a holiday.  It is part of our family creating our own traditions.

So, here are some verses we will be focusing on this 4th.

What will you be doing?  Something fun and festive, I hope!  Happy Independence Day!

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{Camping – Summer 2015}

Oh, heeeeeyyyyyy.

I’ve totally been MIA, but SUMMER!

Vacation and teaching some school and back-to-back family weddings and friends in town from out of the country.  You get the idea.

But, I’ve been recording our summer camping trips for the last few years and wanted to make sure I documented 2015 as well!

Due to the drought we had to forego our favorite place and instead headed to a smaller lake nearby.  It was beautiful and peaceful and a total blast.

I just love being outside ALL. DAY. LONG.

I love seeing every sunset.

I love living in bathing suits and not worrying about clothes or hair or make up.

I love campfires and boats and pretty lake water and trees.

I love camping.

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{Three-Year-Old Train Party}

It has been a busy month!

I wrapped up the year of online teaching and started preparing for my summer courses.

We went camping for a week.

We’re prepping for a few family weddings coming up.

It’s been a fast and fun month with some exciting events.

Including . . . our Addie’s third birthday!  I can’t believe that I have a three-year-old!

I still remember bringing her home from the hospital like it was yesterday!

Our little one is a pretty cool kid and has an obsession with trains, so a train-themed party it was!

We even went and watched the train at the station in town and her present was a train set and books about trains.  she is THAT obsessed.

I found her train shirt at Old Navy and the “conductor” pants on clearance at Target.  Both were in the boys’ section, of course. HA!

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i found the train candle holder on Amazon for under $2 and I made all the signs with materials I had on hand. I bought one yard of train fabric at Beverly’s with a coupon and used it for the tablecloth.

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I used picmonkey to make the invites, cupcake toppers, and photo booth props and then just printed them from home.

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Addie found the favors at the Dollar tree.

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I hoard paper straws that I find on clearance various places.  They really just make a party a party!

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We have a little tradition of the girls wearing a different crown on their birthday each year. I’ve made all the previous ones, but this year I found one for $1 at Target, so I went with that.  I realize the photo of Addie with her eyes closed is less than flattering, but I wanted to show the awesome working train we found for free!

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It was a fun day celebrating our three-year-old.  She had a total blast and memories were made.  That’s the point, after all, isn’t it!?

{Today}

It’s 2 pm.

The littlest one just fell asleep for her afternoon nap.  The three-year-old is having quiet time and reading in Mommy’s bed.

I’m sitting here on the couch, just soaking up the silence and watching the wind blow the tiny clothes that are drying on hooks in the backyard after a morning of splashing and playing.

I’m tired.  But, that’s typical.  As I look at those tiny shirts and pants, I feel a deep gratitude for all I am blessed with.  Gratitude for the beautiful simplicity of this life of motherhood.

My day has been nothing significant:

Waking at 6 am with the oldest.  Playing trains. Bible reading. Packing hubby’s lunch. Coloring.

Gathering up the baby at 7:15 when she calls for me.  Eggs and waffles and dishes and laundry.  More trains and kisses goodbye for daddy.

Then, it’s books and potty reminders, more coloring and breakfast dishes.  The littlest takes a nap. More laundry.  A shower for mama. Markers and modeling clay. Decaf coffee and lessons on the letter “D”.  Bible story and more train playing.

The nap is over and it is snacks for the girls, then sidewalk chalk while mama waters, playing in the backyard while I rake and switch laundry and make lunches.  They play and eat and I sneak in some study time as I watch them run.  Prune a few roses and strip down the soaking kids.

In we go to warm clothes and books and more trains and lunch for mama.  A bottle, some clean-up, vacuum the floor.  Nap #2 begins, but the babe won’t fall asleep.  Reading books and snuggling with the big girl on mama’s bed and then sneaking out for a moment of silence.

Then . . . pitter patter . . . the big girl can’t sit still and thinks quiet time in done.  I hear the baby still chatting and singing in her crib.

It is so easy to lose that moment of silence.  Of gratitude.  And, so often, I do.  I lose it.  I sink under the weight of NO. TIME. ALONE. And never enough time for all my tasks.

But, it all matters.  The awesome days where the girls nap well and I exercise and we play and I clean and I get time to rest.  Those are great.  But, the days that those things don’t work out, don’t make me any less of a good mom.  in fact, I think surviving and loving and persevering in spite of those things is what makes us good moms.

Loving my children even when they don’t nap.  Being patient even when I haven’t had a moment for myself.  Trusting God and praising Him, even when things aren’t going well.  These things make me rely on Him, rather than my own “skill” as a mom. This teaches me, and my children, humility and submission to the one who is greater than I.

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So, whatever you are doing, whether it is listening to a fussing child who won’t nap (like me), or kicking your feet up and relaxing because your kids are napping perfectly, it is all by the grace of God.  Thank Him for it and Rest in Him.

Watch this video and be encouraged!

{Picking Blueberries}

Living near an Agricultural University has its perks.

This past weekend we rode our bikes down to the U-pick farm.

We picked and ate and picked and ate and had a blast!

The setting wasn’t bad.

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The blueberries were delicious and abundant and now I want my own bush.  How does one go about that, I wonder?

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This one put each one she picked directly into her mouth.  She was in heaven!  Food at her own height?  No waiting for someone to feed you?!  Also, I now realize that I no longer need to cut her blueberries in half.  I might be a liiiiiitle paranoid about choking.

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There were also peaches, which will be made into a delicious cobbler today!  Ellery was our taste tester.  I think she approved.

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It was a great family adventure!

{What my Two Miscarriages Taught Me . . . so far}

If you read my blog regularly, you know I suffered two consecutive miscarriages.  The first was in November at 8 weeks along and the second in January at 11 weeks.

Thus it has been a hard season of mourning, healing, and trusting.  Although hard, it has also been a season of incredible growth: in my marriage, as a mother, and in my walk with the Lord.

Since experiencing my miscarriages, I have learned of a number of other women who are currently experiencing similar losses. I want to use my heartaches for good and maybe, just maybe, something I have learned can bless another who is enduring a similar pain.

So, here is what my two miscarriages have taught me . . . so far.

1. Christ is Sufficient.

Growing up in the church I have heard this my whole life.  I have KNOWN the truth of it ever since I can remember.  However, knowing it, and experiencing it are two different things.  My human heart still longs for things of this world and my dreamer self still likes to plan for the future. I have always coveted Paul’s declaration that he had, “learned to be content in every circumstance” (Phil 4:11).

After my first miscarriage my every waking thought was on the baby I wanted and becoming pregnant again as quickly as possible.  So, I became pregnant immediately.  This, I thought, would lead to my contentment.  Then, we lost that baby as well.  I felt upset and frustrated and defeated at first.  But, I reluctantly decided to wait a bit for trying to become pregnant again and then I still didn’t get pregnant when I wanted to.

God has brought me to this point of believing and trusting that if His plan is to only give me two children, that is sufficient, “My grace is sufficient for thee; my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Cor. 12:9).  My joy can be in him.  I will not be unhappy forever if I do not have the 4-5 children I have always dreamed of.

2. God’d Ways are Best

I am a planner.  A dreamer.  I had it all mapped out in my head the age gaps between my children and my first miscarriage sent me into a panic.  If I took too long to get pregnant with the third, then the fourth would be postponed and then soon I would be too old to have children! I tried taking matters into my own hands, getting pregnant again quickly.  We miscarried again.  I began obsessively looking at fertility calendars and due date calculators to determine when the next child could potentially been born.  The stress of it all was intense and I was filled with anxiety all day, every day. Then, despite my perfect planning, i did not conceive again.  Something clicked in my brain and I realized I had to relinquish control.  I stopped checking the calendars and I stopped analyzing the next five years.

I truly understood that, “A man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps,” (Proverbs 16:9) and I believe that God has a specific plan and a purpose in this (Jer. 29:11). And, while I would sacrifice convenience for a child in a heartbeat, it is true that we are in a very difficult phase with our youngest and I honestly can not imagine adding another baby one month from now.  Part of me feels like a traitor to say that.  I feel like I am betraying the baby I lost.  It’s not that I wouldn’t want that baby, but that I can see God’s grace in the midst of the loss.  Grace abounds.

3. I love my Children More

Of course I always love my children, but us mothers know that they sometimes drive us bonkers. I feel as though I had entered into a pattern of impatience.  I tend to always have too much on my plate and, therefore, my patience was lacking.  I was not responding to or discipling in love as I truly desire to.  The miscarriages woke me up to this.  I thought to myself: Well, would I give myself another child?  If I can’t speak with kindness to the children I already have, why should I have another one? I’m not saying my miscarriages were a punishment.  I’m merely saying they revealed to me my faults as a mother and encouraged me to make a change.

4.  My Marriage is Stronger

Marriage can be tough.  There are always ups and downs.  I find that weathering the downs together brings us closer together.  My husband was a rock for me during my suffering.  He was patient with my anger, encouraging in my fears, and comforting with my tears.  This experience helped us to talk more about our vision for our family.  It led us to be on the same page.  It also reminded me to keep my husband’s needs as a priority.  I don’t want my desire for more children to eclipse my care of him.  My miscarriages encouraged me to work on growing closer to him and to work on making service to him a habit prior to adding another child to our brood.

5. I am more diligent

The loss of the two little lives I dearly wanted, reminded me of my dreams.  I have always dreamed of being a wife and mother.  Yet, at times I complained about my load of work and its difficulty. The loss of those children, reminded me that I am basically living my dream life.  How dare I complain?  After all, should I be blessed with more children, the work load will only increase.  So, I m choosing daily to “work as though working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23-24). Choosing that each day has led to my spirit changing and being genuinely glad to clean and cook and care for my family.  It is, after all, my dearest calling.

6. I am more Confident in Helping Others

I have always been very shy. It is not easy for me to reach out to others.  Something about enduring this pain has emboldened me.  I have wrestled with the darkness of it and have chosen the light.  This growing time, this going through the fire and coming out whole has encouraged me to share with others.  Thus, when I heard of another woman suffering a miscarriage, I reached out.  I usually avoid initiating conversations with people I don’t know, but I felt called to offer comfort if I could. In addition, I have had friends reach out to me with sorrows that I did not know existed. I am so thankful to have words to give these women and to be able to offer them hope and I feel as though I have been molded for, “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

So, while I would never have wished the death of my two babies in the womb, I am glad that the status quo has changed.  I am glad that I am not still walking around enduring, and striving, and complaining.  I am glad that God has brought me through the fire and has refined me in the process.  I am glad that He has made himself my focus rather than allowing me to stay focused on the things of this earth. I still have much to learn and many areas in which to grow, I know.

But, be encouraged.  In whatever you are walking through, there is great purpose and , “there is wonderful joy ahead” (1 Peter 1:6). Know, that I am not saying this from a place where I am pregnant again or with that longing for a third child fulfilled.  Instead, I say it from a place of brokenness.  The longing is still there, but is is overshadowed by a trust and a “hope for the future”.

{Living Life}

Hello there.  Remember me?

We’ve been busy just living life.

The school year is coming to a close and I am busy grading and planning for the online summer course I will teach.  I’ve also been doing some other online jobs.  Hubby has been busy with a side job here and there as well.

We’ve also been having tons of fun together. Here’s a little peek into what we’ve been up to lately.

 

These two play together more and more.  There is less frustration and more fun and I am so thankful for it!

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Hubby and I started reading “Unbroken” together. Sometimes we read right before bed and sometimes we make a fire and eat S’mores while reading.  It’s pretty awesome.

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This girl had a birthday.  My cousin, who is a mere two months older than me and is more like a sister.  We’ve been to every birthday party, sleepover, and holiday together.  We’ve camped together every summer and sat up late watching shooting stars and talking.  I love this girl!

 

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Hubby went to the mountains for a men’s retreat.  I was so happy that he was able to have this getaway to refresh, be challenged, and have fun!  So, it was just me and my girls and me and we did a lot of art projects . . . sometimes at 7:30 am!  Ha!

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I also had a girls’ night with my growth group girls while the hubby was away.  We did facials and nails and made these awesome macrame plant hangers! They were ridiculously easy.  I made 3.  Then I made a macrame yarn banner.  I can’t stop!

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I try to combine errands with a fun activity for the kiddos.  We stopped at a park after errands last week and the fields were carpeted with these little white flowers.  They were so fragrant!  It was amazing.  It also caused an epic allergy attack, but I am pretty sure it was worth it!

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I am hoping to have a garden this year that actually produces and then to maintain it throughout the year.  My in-laws came over to help us prep the first garden bed and to lasagna mulch it.  Have you heard of lasagna mulching?  I hope it works!  So far I’ve planted tomatoes and some zuchinni and sqaush as well as various flowers.  I want to add carrots, peas, Kale, and some more zuchinni. Time to get busy!

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Our church had a Ladies’ Night Out and there was an Italian Soda station, which was delicious . . . and pretty!

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Our adventures have been continuing and we took a bike ride over to the local University to check out the baby horses.  The littlest climbed up on the fence and, of course, big sister followed suit.

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The bike ride was made possible by this new contraption.  I’ve been wanting one for awhile, but knew we had to wait until the littlest was a year old and then I kept watching the price drop.  The price finally went low enough for us to feel comfortable with the purchase and we are in love! We’ve been out twice with it in the week since we bought it and have more rides planned for this weekend!

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How have you been living life lately?  Is it a busy time of year for you as well?