Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Project Life 2011

Hey my friends ..I have so many great ideas for LPLS in 2011 ..I cant WAIT to share them with you!

But ..for now, most importantly I wanted to share how much MORE I love Project Life than I even did before!

I decided to order the digital version of Project Life this year.  Becky Higgins has the same awesome graphics from the hard copy version, but in a clickable format where you can just drag and drop your digital picture files.  It has the added benefit of being able to use various sizes and layouts for my pics. Also,  even as easy as it was printing pictures every couple of weeks, it was sometimes a bit tedious (its all relative, it wasnt THAT tedious).

Becky Higgins' 2011 designs are beautiful! She has added two new designs (2010 and 2011 are both available digitally, but the 2010 design for the hard copy is SOLD OUT) and I had a hard time deciding. I went with the Turquoise design, since I think it fit me and my "boys" better.

I plan to use the digital version for all my 2011 photo journaling but wanted to get my book already set up and ready to add pics starting on Saturday ..I found something I had to share!

Right now, you can get the $99 digital version for 30% off ..making it $69 if you prepurchase it (pay before you actually make the book).  By signing up to get access to the book maker now, you get another $5 off!

I just ordered my 2011 Project Life digital book for $65!

I have already played with the template a bit and I love it! It includes some of her way cute fonts, all the journaling cards/title cards/dates stamps from ALL the available versions and a ton of versitility  with the layouts.

I just wanted to share this AWESOME deal!  ...see more about Project Life here!

UPDATE:  I have been using my new digital PL and I LOVE IT!  Its so perfect for me - I have been keeping up with my pictures (granted, we are only 6 days in) but its SO easy to drag and click my pictures into the digital book, add whatever I want to the page or to leave as is. This is TOTALLY worth the $65 I spent on it ..absolutely!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry {Less Stressed} Christmas

As you are spending wonderful happy times with your sweet families,
I am praying for each of you that your moments are peaceful and calm despite the busyness :)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor rests" 
Luke 2:14

May his favor rest on you this season.

Peacefully, 
Courtney  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

a friendly talk ...

I have a wonderful friend who allows me to use her as a sounding board for many, and possibly most of my deep thoughts :) Even though we live in the same town and see each other on a very regular basis, we use email to share things we are pondering, challenges we are facing and the way God is speaking to us at any given time. I often use my discussions with her as my quiet time in the morning, as a way to center my thoughts and get feedback in areas I feel God is instructing me. I wish every Christian woman had such a friend

Today, I wanted share a little bit of one of our discussions this week ..I think she had some great things to say and that it would be beneficial for more than just me :)


 Me:  ...I have found that closer I get to God and His Spirit the more aware I am of my struggles, making me more unsettled than peaceful!
It is just a natural growth thing, I know, but its interesting to me. The more I allow the Spirit to come through, the more I see myself in contrast. I am actually finding peace harder to come by right now - isnt that strange?
I see myself struggling more with everything ...I see my pride more, I see my impatience and my insecurities more clearly. I also find that my defaults in starker contrast to the nature I desire and so I find that I am frustrated with that.  I am having a harder time with finding that place of peaceful passivity because I want to overcome it all but in so many ways feel I am so far from being able to do that.

I know it the Spirit who does, not me but all the feelings of inadequacy are effecting my ability to really give myself over to Him ..and that may be the crux of the matter right there, now that I am writing it out.

 

My wise and wonderful friend:   I totally feel you on the "aware of inadequacies" thing when it comes to being close to God...One thing I am realizing, though, is that my self-sufficiency gets in the way of my relationship with God sometimes.  It's like, if He shows me all of these things wrong with me, then I freak and feel like I need to get a handle on them.  I am realizing more and more, though, that I can do nothing to improve my own situation.  I can only throw myself on God's mercy.  And I'm slowly (SLOWLY) learning how to do that. 

Referencing when we feel overwhelmed and behind ..." Today I realized that my mental fatigue and distractedness didn't have to weaken me spiritually at all.  That's b/c I am not the one powering my relationship with God.  God is.  And God doesn't have a cold today, and God is not sleep deprived.  God is just as powerful as He was yesterday.  And b/c I have His Spirit in me, I can be just as loving and oriented toward God as I was yesterday.  And you know what?  Today has been fantastic.  I am not mentally flogging myself for being so "behind," b/c what am I behind on?  Nothing.  My only job is this world is to glorify God with all of my being, and God does not care if my house looks perfect.  He cares that I am doing what I need to be doing in that moment.  And what I need to be doing in this moment is loving the people around me and talking about Him to you, and--soon--making treats for other people.  So I am resisting the urge to pile other imaginary obligations on top of that."

I hope you benefited today from these words, as I did ...and that you have a friend you can share such thoughts with :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Next Best Thing

I am reading a book that is really good for pondering. It is titled, Forgotten God by Frances Chan (author of Crazy Love, which I also have mentioned).  It is about the power of Holy Spirit, and has challenged me to really consider the power I allow to be exhibited in my own life.

He fell in line with thoughts I have already had mulling around in there, when he said "It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It's safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day." (pg 120)


Also, "I think a lot of us need to forget about 'God's will for my life'. God cares more about our response to His Spirit's leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year." (pg 120)

I find that thought challenging! To consider what the will of the Spirit is every minute of the seems daunting..right? I think yes, if you look at the big picture like that ...

But, what if you considered rather simply the next best thing? Even better, the next best thing?

Applying that to my own life, I think that I am in the place 100 times a day when I faced with making a choice about what to do with a limited resource ...do I do laundry, or read to the kids? Do I plan this weeks meals, or read my bible? Do I sit down and watch Sing Off with the husband or clean the kitchen?  Just this morning, I wrestled in myself to consider ...do I sleep a bit longer so I will be better physically prepared for the day (baby is in teething crisis, up ALOT last night!) or go ahead and get up and get my head in the game before the kiddos get up?

We are faced with these good choices, much more often than whether or not we are going to break one of the ten commandments. Really, these choices are the ones that most of us have to make constantly.

In the effort to live a life that is lead by the Holy Spirit, it is even possible to be guided one moment at a time? Can I offer the next thing to God, and trust that He will guide those moments to culmination of a daily life lived in His glory? I think so.

In Colossians chapter three, Paul gives what my bible titles as "rules for living". He reminds the church in Colossi to "...set your hearts on things above...put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature...rid yourself of such things...clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience..forgive as the Lord forgave you....be thankful..let the word of Christ dwell in you richly..."  That is alot of commands, and many things to add to our spiritual "to do" lists! :)

But, he sums all those things up with  ..."And, whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." 3:17

and, after some more instructions to wives, husbands and slaves he repeats ..."whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." vs. 23

We can surely give our days generally to God, as well we should. But wouldnt it be even better, and perhaps more effective if were to consciously give God each moment and ask for His leading for the next best thing?

Lord, we give you our days and ask for your leading in each of its moments to show us how you want us to use the each and every one. We ask for your Spirit's guidance to show us the best way to spend those moments. Center our minds, heart and spirits on your leading so that we are always living in  your will -no matter what we are doing today.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Trusted with Much

A new round of bible classes started at church yesterday ...I am in one that is a study of Jesus, based on the book of Luke.  The teacher took a different approach and started in chapter 16, instead of at the beginning (I like this guy already! :).

We started with a parable that I was a little stumped by initially, but found some interesting resource related thoughts be the time class wrapped up.

Chapter 16, vs 1-15 tells of a slave who shrewdly uses what he has (access to the master's financial records) to make some friends by cutting all their debts in half in effort to increase his networking potential in the event his master gives him the boot. The master is actually impressed with the dude's "dishonesty" ...the scripture didnt specify if he let him keep his job or not, but he did "commend" him :)

First, I had to be reminded (by my sweet hubby) that the "master" here is not our master.  Second, I had to be reminded that we are talking about a slave here ..someone who has no resources of his own, but has to use what he has access to.

Third, I made a powerful connection myself when we started talking about how Jesus was encouraging his disciples to be shrewd in the way they use what they have (he specified "worldy wealth").  Our teacher lead us in to a discussion about how our worldly wealth can be all of our resources - our homes, our time, energy, reputation, and other things..along with finances.

Of course, you can be sure my ears perked up to that! :)

In verses 10-11,  Jesus states "whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much, and whoever will be dishonest with little will be dishonest with much..So if you you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you to with true riches?"

Thinking of this challenge in light of the resources that we have been given "access" to ...what a challenge it is!  Having the resources that we do, given to us to manage but not our own, we are expected and encourage to use them for the benefit of our master. When we have done so, we are trusted with more. When we do not, we cannot be trusted with more.

One thing that I realized this week, is that I feel that when I manage what I have well - truly trying to use all the resources at my disposal for His glory, then it seems I do have more to give for the benefit of His glory!

When I manage my finances well, we are freed up to bless others through financial giving. When I manage my time, choosing to use it on the things that are bring glory to God (or work toward the purpose he has called me to today) then I find I have more time to give to other things that God has given me to do.

We have access to so much abundance ...as the shrewd manager, we must be purposeful in how we manage our master's resources. Unlike him, we must determine to use them for the benefit of the master and not ourselves ...then we will be deemed trustworthy, and will be "welcomed into eternal dwellings." vs. 9

Welcome ifellowshippers ..so glad you are here!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

By Default: Part 2

Continuing our thinking about defaults, I have been pondering what my own default settings are.

I have been keenly aware of those things that come the most naturally to me. These are the things that I do without thinking, that I without effort and my first and most base response to situations around me. My default settings may include what causes fear, what causes anxiety, what incites passion, what I consider my "strengths" ...these are the things that make up the "me" part of me, both good and bad,

For me I have noted that by default I love order, I am good a seeing another's perspective, I am laid back and not easily frazzled, and I am confident in who I am.  I have noticed, also though, that my defaults left to themselves cause me to be a bit controlling, interfering, undisciplined and quite selfish.

My defaults can be both resources, and the source of "evil desires" ...see this verse, just one after my favorite passage,  2 Peter 1:4 ..."..he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature (HIS nature, HIS default settings ..if you will) and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (aka, OUR nature, OUR default desires)."

How great that we can escape those things that do not bring glory to God ...which is what must happen for us to find True Peace. How great that we have "everything we need" to escape things that many would say are "just the way we are."

It kinna takes away excuses we make for doing things that are not glorifying to God, and weakens the case the world makes for doing things because they "feel good" or the constant encouragement around us to "follow our heart" doesnt it?    ...the truth is, if it doesnt fall in line with God and His laws, then no matter how "natural" it is for you ...well, it still is not what God desires you to be.

How often have you heard (or said yourself) .."well, that is just the way I am, you can take it or leave it?" How often have we been confronted with situations where what comes "naturally" to us hurts someone and our response is "well, you just have to accept that is how I speak/act/think?" ...or have you been the victim of this thinking? How often to we blame others for their reaction to us, rather than take responsibility for the fact that respond how we do by default, but that may not be the best way to react to something/someone?

I know I am guilty of using my default settings as excuses ...God doesnt give us the pleasure, though.

Thus, the need for those "fruits of the Holy Spirit". From this list, note which ones would be helpful in resisting/resetting our default settings to be more in line with God's divine nature ..."love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control." Galatians 5:20

Cool, huh? ..we really do have "everything we need...to participate in the divine nature"!  2 Peter 1:3-4

Welcome ifellowshippers ..so glad you are here!

Monday, November 29, 2010

By Default

{We are gonna take a break from Moms Like Us for a couple of weeks ..with so much going on with everyone during the holidays I would like to just offer some simple thoughts over the next couple of weeks instead...but no worries, we will come back to it!}

I have realized something over the past couple of months. Its not my own idea but rather a concept that several around me have used lately. Its a concept that has got me thinking about me and how the me-ness of me adds to my stress and my use/misuse of the godly resources I have.

Its this concept of "default settings"  ...who you are, when you arent trying to be anyone else. Its what you are doing mentally, spiritually or emotionally when you arent paying attention. It is what comes naturally to you, without thinking or feeling otherwise. Its your default mode. 

How well I relate to that!

There are default settings on our phones/computers/gps/cameras/coffeemakers, our tv's, our laptops..everything electronic that we own.  We can customize the stuff by making some changes,  we can add apps, tweek here and there to make the equipment fit us better ...but the default settings are always accessible by finding that little red button somewhere that wipes the slate clean and returns everything to the way it was fresh out of the box.  

I feel that way sometimes ...like I am working on being a better person, like I tweek and attend to and try to change but it will take one day when my guard is down and my default button is hit and all things are returned to my base line instincts!  Darn default button.
I think that without realizing it, Paul was talking about these settings when he said, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do and what I hate I do." Romans 7:15 
Who cant relate to that?
 
We are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him ..I think that another way to think about that is to say ..."ignore your default settings, sacrifice them and decide to replace them with God's customized settings instead."  

This week, I would like to explore this idea a little more, especially how it relates to stress and how those settings cause us to misuse our resources and lead to a loss of peace overall.  I hope you will join me in looking at those things about ourselves that perhaps God wants us to sacrifice for the benefit of his glory!

Welcome ifellowshippers ..so glad you are here!

Why Wait?

Okay, I know that you will hate me by my saying this ..I know because I would hate it if someone else said it but ...

Why wait for the new year?

I love the new year.  I love a fresh, new twelve months just sitting there stretching out all clean, uncluttered and ready to be ridden to the anticipatory betterment of me.

I have a whole list of things that I want to be, do and achieve over the next few months or a year.

I am in an exciting place right now.  I feel very much like I am floating in the ocean, with a strong undertow just at my feet ready to pull me in and take me away.  I feel God's power moving through my life, through my family's life and through my friend's lives.  I feel it.

Even still, some of the things I feel inspired to change, do, or work on  I am tempted to move them to the back burner of the new year.


I want to participate in the Radical Experiment ..a one year commitment to praying for the world, reading the bible, giving specifically, giving my time ...but I want to start my one year on January 1st!

I want to focus on getting my body healthier ...but I want to wait until after the holidays, of course.

I want to declutter my house and get rid of things that I dont need ...but I want to wait til the spring.



The New Year seems like a perfect time to start fresh and new...right?

Or, am I putting off the blessings those things will bring me by pushing them to the future?

I think I am gonna try not putting it off. It may throw my whole "new year" rituals off course, but really ..I dont want to wait for another month before I see the benefits of a healthier body, a nurtured spirit, or a decluttered home.

What do you think? ...what New Year's resolutions do you anticipate making that you can get started now?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Prayer Blog

I was using this tip this morning and I realized that I benefited from it so much I should share :)

I have a PRAYER blog :)  Its a blog that I have that is just for me and God to read ;p

It was what I came up with when I realized a few things ...first, I do better with my prayers when I write them down. I have always kept a prayer journal, since I was a young teenager. I have boxes and boxes of journals that chronicle my adolescent, teenage, in like, in love, engaged, just married, pre-kid years :) Since having kids I have had a hard time getting back into the swing of prayer journaling, though I have tried various and asundry methods to do so. I needed a more efficient way

Then, I realized that I type faster than I write.

My brain that loves order likes typed word better than written.

I kept losing where I wrote my prayers ..was in my Stress Less Journal, was it in my planner, a blank book? I dunno. I basically have lost my prayers of the past 5 years.

I find blogging and typing very easy, and have to resist not doing that more than I need to.

So, I set up a blog for myself, where I made it totally private and accessible only to me.The posts are my prayers and thoughts for the day, just between me and God. Some are short and sweet and some are long and drawn out, when I am working through our giving alot over to Him.

Some things I have noted since starting this a few months ago ...
* I love having my prayers dated and timed 
*I love having my prayers so easy to read and reference
*I love having the sidebars to keep a prayer list, personal goal and book list 
* I love being able to quickly type my thoughts
* I love that I can access my prayer journal anywhere, from any computer
* I love that I go back and "comment" on my prayers ..whether an update or a change of heart
* I can link to things, people I am praying for, etc. for future reference 
* I can link straight from there to the online One Year Bible, devotional or bible study sites
* I love having a secret place where God and I can talk amidst the choas that is often all around me while I write :)

 Now, I certainly dont need a computer to pray, worship or praise God. But, it is a great way to focus my mind and work within the resources that I have been given, and use so often! It is also a way I have discovered I can take a weakness (too much time on the computer) and turn it into a blessing instead!

Just thought I would share, in case it helps you as much it as it has me! :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Moms Like Us ..You!

This week, instead of having a Mom Like Us share her thoughts ...I would like YOU to share yours!

Are you a mom like us? Can you relate to the moms who have shared their hearts the last few weeks? Which questions did you most relate to?

For the next couple of weeks, I am going to as YOU some of these questions, and I would love for you to answer them ...we havent had a lot of comments on the blog, but I have heard alot of great feedback in other ways. So, I know that these answers are a great encouragement to Moms Like US!

So, this weeks question ...What do you feel is your greatest struggle as wife/mother?

See the links below to see some of the answers of our other Moms Like Us! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

One of those weeks ..

It is one of those weeks when blogging isnt the most important thing to do :)

I have thoughts but with the very infrequent blessing of getting to see two of my sweet sisters in teh past two weeks (one I hadnt seen in a year, the other in two) ..blogging just got put appropriately on the back burner :)

Hope to get back on the ban wagon soon enough but meanwhile, I am letting that no-see-em fly away and will look foward to some writing time in the next week or so!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moms Like Us: Jessica

 Our Mom Like Us of the week is a gal I met through the Seeds of Faith ifellowship (a weekly blog hop for christian women)...I have learned to appreciate and look forward to her wonderful ideas and thoughts on her blog, Our Family for His Glory. She has wonderful wisdom to offer in the area of teaching children and families to love God.  I have really enjoyed getting to know her better through this weeks post ...I know you will too!


{meet Jessica}


A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BROOD
My husband (Gabe) & I have been married for 8 1/2 years & have 5 precious children… Alyssa & Elliana just turned 6, Kayla is 4 1/2, Isaiah is 2, & Annabella is 1. After we were fist married, my wonderful husband had the opportunity to do an internship at an amazing church. About a year later, that same church was looking for an associate pastor, & now he has been working there for the past 6 1/2 years. We truly feel blessed! Often people will think we have the perfect life… loving family, hearts for God, happily married, wonderful children… but, we are just like any other family where tears & pain are intermingled with hope & joy!

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE AS A MOM/WIFE?
It is hard to choose a greatest struggle! I think for me, there are many things that (especially combined) become even a greater struggle! Finding balance is one…between housework, being a loving/respectful wife, loving & caring for 5 children, spending time with God, homeschooling our children, helping at church, having time for friends, etc. I feel quite overwhelmed.
So, this is definitely a struggle for me, there just never seem to be enough minutes in the day to accomplish all that I would like to. God has helped me prioritize my days, & I am very blessed to have a husband that is more laid back than me in a lot of ways… this has helped me to let go of a lot of my own expectations.
Raising godly children is another… I know how important it is for ME to be following hard after God, otherwise how can I expect that of my children? I need to be CONTINUALLY seeking God & His guidance while raising this family to one day be lovers of God… it is a struggle, as it gets discouraging, when no fruit is being shown, or when I am just plain tired of dealing with the “heart issues” of our children (& myself)! But it is a struggle well worth fighting for.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO?
I believe God has called me (& really each of us) to bring Him glory in ALL that we do! Right now, my purpose is to be the best mom & wife & homemaker that I can be… to train my children to love & obey God, to be a respectful, caring wife, & to make our home a place where God is truly glorified! When I first had our twins, I was so discouraged that I couldn’t get more involved in reaching others for Christ… a sweet friend lovingly told me that I had 2 precious souls that lived right in my house that needed to be won for Christ. I had never looked at it that way before, & was so encouraged by her words to pour my energy into leading the little ones God had blessed me with to Himself.

WHAT RESOURCES THAT YOU FEEL GOD HAS GIVEN YOU DO YOU FEEL ARE UNIQUE TO YOU?
I guess I’m not really sure! I know God has given me a love for children, & creative ideas to teach them about God. He has also given me 5 little blessings :) that I learn from every day, & 1 amazing husband that is a godly, loving father to our children! And He gives me strength & joy for each day… otherwise I would never make it through!

A YAY ME! FROM THIS WEEK!

I got (with my husband’s help) all the clothes switched around… spring/summer clothes packed away- fall/winter clothes washed, folded & put away in drawers. It is always such a huge endeavor (& I always hope nobody stops by during the process)… but, it is finished- HURRAY!! :) I don’t have to pull out all those bins for another 6 months (hopefully)! {And the kids felt like it was Christmas… getting all the “new” clothes!}

DO YOU MAKE YOUR BED EVERYDAY?

Yes, the house feels at least a little put together if I make sure to have that one chore done. Plus, I expect my kids to make their beds each morning (except for Sundays), so I try to be a good example… making my bed, even when there are a thousand things I would rather be doing. :)

ARE YOUR DISHES DONE RIGHT NOW?

Yes!! :) Well, they are at least getting cleaned in the dishwasher as I type. And, usually I have a couple little helpers that are just dying to come & put the dishes away for me… they’re so sweet!

IS YOUR LAUNDRY ALL CAUGHT UP?
Sort of! Laundry is one of the things at our house that I often feel I cannot keep up with (although I do have helpers for this as well)! With our 3 girls switching clothes 5 times a day (to put on their ballet leotards & wedding gowns, etc.) & with the fact that this has been a busy week for laundry with all of the clothes switching around we did… I’m OK with the fact that there are some dirty clothes awaiting washing (there always are!!), as well as some clean clothes sitting in laundry baskets waiting to be folded & put away! I like to do laundry on Tuesdays & Fridays, so that I can keep up on the laundry as much as possible, & I am not stuck doing it every day.


WHAT VERSE DO YOU USE WHEN YOU FEEL OUT OF CONTROL?
Oh, there are SO many! I like to have verses hanging around my house so that I can see them randomly throughout my day! One of my favorites is Philippians 4:6-7 (actually I think I need to memorize all of Philippians)… “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer & petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And, Colossians 3:23 is helpful for ALL of us (to remember who we are serving)… “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Stress Less Playdoh

 In our current Beyond Little Hands to His Glory unit, we are learning about Holland. Today, we talked about how the Dutch used a dike to protect Amsterdam from the sea. The book suggested we used playdoh to demonstrate the principle of the structure that was created to protect the city situated in a geographical bowl from the sea that was above it. 

We didnt have any playdoh currently (we buy it on a very regular basis but it seems we cant keep it moist for very long, as much as we play with it!). So, I had to in search of a super easy recipe that didnt entail cooking (I hate cleaning the pot after making that stuff!) or cream of tarter which we are also out of. 

I remembered a video on a friend's blog, Smockity Frocks where she made playdoh using flour, salt, water, oil and food coloring.  It was super, super easy.  The video was a big help to figuring out how it all comes together, and doing with lots of little hands to help :)

She didnt have a written recipe there so I thought I would supplement as my Tuesday Tip :)

Connies Homemade Playdoh Recipe 
 3 cups flour and 1/3 cup salt. Mix together, then add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Mix, then set aside. Add to a cup of water, 7+ drops of food coloring (we used like 25 or so ..we like it bright!). Pour the water/food coloring slowly into the flour mixture and  keep stirring until you cant stir anymore. Then, drop out dough and knead away until all the flour is added in and the dough is smooth and play ready. 

This was super easy, not too messy (we did it at the table) and a big hit in the Steedly house!
Thought I would pass on this great tip ..it worked for us!

Bring It.

It is one of those mornings, that I am hardly out of bed and I feel like my "everything I need" is already sapped up and run out.

We are all passing around a stomach bug of some kind, which may be the reason the baby was up 10 times last night. Then again, it may be the 7 teeth he is apparently trying to cut at one time. Hubby wasnt feeling well, but needed to fell better because he has a full day of clinical (he is in nursing school) and work today. 

At one point, I was in bed smashed between a three year old who was cold, a fussy baby and said sleeping husband. While there, I was having to feed baby, warm toddler, let hubby sleep, and was being screamed at by the cat to be let out.

I started feeling a bit sorry for myself.

I started in again when my 6 and 3 year old alarm clocks didnt get the message that mommy didnt sleep much last night and could use a bit of extra rest, when they were awake before 7am due to the time change.

This morning, their little voices arent sweet, they are grating. Their antics arent cute, they are annoying. Their requests arent a chance to serve, they are taxing, and my attitude needs an adjustment..clearly :)

I kinna feel out of resources for the day already.

So, I am taking a really deep breath.

I am using you (do you feel used?) to get my head, heart and spirit in order. I am calling on the gifts the Holy Spirit gives because I need each and every one of them this morning ..."love, joy, peace, patience (this may be my top request), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (#2) and self-control." Galatians 5:20

It is one of those days when my resources certainly feel less than other days, but yet my "everything I need" is still promised. My tasks are still mine, and will be amply supplied with the resources I need to complete them to the benefit of His glory.

Deep breath, coffee, some God time and we are good to go. Bring on this day! :)

Whew ..thanks, I needed that :)   Praying for a great day for all of us ...all of you resource sapped mommies, especially :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moms Like Us: Miriam

This week, our Mom Like Us is a mom I met via the bloggy world..we found each other through comments on ours and others' blogs here and there and yonder. I have been so encouraged by her sweet words of quiet encouragement on my blog, as well as her words on her own blog My Country Cupboard . I enjoyed getting to know her more through these questions, and I know you will as well.

{meet Miriam}

 A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BROOD:
My husband, Daniel, and I have been married 6 ½ wonderful years. We met when I was 11 and he was 14, but it was several years until Daniel realized he was interested in me :) I was 19 when we were married after dating for 9 months (engaged for 2 of those :) )   I am living my dream – I always wanted to be a stay-at-home wife and mama :)  Susannah is our beautiful (and smiley!) 8 month old daughter.   I enjoy cooking and baking from scratch, and love to read a good book when I make the time.  We live in a tiny house on 2 ½ acres and are about ready to break ground for a nice-sized addition onto our home (DIY).  We love the country and look forwards to owning a big farmhouse on several acres one day, Lord willing.


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE AS A MOM/WIFE?
Whew. I'm glad I'm not alone in this one: Time management :)  But I'm working on it.  I'll probably still be working on it 100 years from now if I'm still around! Ha!

PURPOSE TO WHICH GOD HAS CALLED YOU:
As I stated above, I've wanted to be a homemaker for as long as I can remember.  And I really feel like that is my calling.   But He's still working on me... I feel it every day.

WHAT RESOURCE DO YOU FEEL GOD HAVE YOU THAT IS UNIQUE TO YOU?
My growing up years.  I grew up on a dairy farm where I learned how to work hard and do a job well and completely, think logically, multitask, how to organize, direct and execute a mission, and a whole lotta other stuff that most people don't have the privilege of learning these days (and that's not saying I loved learning those lessons, but they serve me well now!). 

YAY FOR ME!
I got my homemade baby food supply restocked :P  I can procrastinate pretty good!

DO YOU MAKE YOUR BED EVERYDAY?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  Right now it is not made.  I don't “make” it every morning but most days at some point I like to toss the covers back up towards the pillows so it looks somewhat orderly.

ARE YOUR DISHES DONE?
HA!!!! <--- that means “far from it”  (But the kitchen is the first room I clean when I clean!)


IS YOUR LAUNDRY CAUGHT UP RIGHT NOW?
I'm on top of it in that I'm caught up on washing and drying.  The folding and putting away part... not so much.

WHAT VERSE DO YOU USE TO GROUND YOU WHEN YOU ARE FEELING OUT OF CONTROL?
2 Corinthians 9:8 
God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work.


{learn more about Miriam by visiting her blog My Country Cupboard}

...and meet some of our other Moms Like Us ...Kim, Brandi, Rachel and Molly 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Return to Center

{Our Mom Like Us of the week, Molly, is our guest poster of the day ...she shared this and I thought it was a great thought! ...see more of Molly's ponderings at Domestic Disarray}

I've taken up yoga recently. And I'm finding that what I've always heard to be true is actually true - what started as a way to lose the baby weight and strengthen my body is becoming a spiritual practice that bleeds over into every area of my life. And I have to say that I love it.

There's one aspect of yoga that has really been speaking to me for a while - it's the idea of returning to center. When you are moving through poses, you always start and end at your center, a resting pose where you can take a few deep breaths before moving on to the next pose. If you find yourself unable to complete a pose, you can always return to your center to regain your balance or rest a tired muscle.


In life, we often need to return to our centers, those resting places where we can compose ourselves, take a breath, and prepare ourselves to take the next step. So often during my day, I find myself tired, stressed, and snappy with my kids, unable to complete the tasks that God has laid before me. In these moments, I remind myself, "Exhale. Return to center."

For me, my "center" isn't a physical place (although we all need those places where we can feel peaceful to contemplate our lives). Instead, returning to center is an act of remembering what is most important to me, at the very core of I am.
  • My calling - to love God and others
  • My desire - to do small things with great love and so to show the world God's heart
  • My identity - to be a woman who lives honestly, embracing my strengths and limitations, without allowing the world's judgments to lessen my knowledge of my worth
  • My family mission - to create a home where 1) my children feel loved, accepted, and appreciated as God made them so that they can become adults who love, accept, and appreciate others in the same way, 2) where learning is loved and promoted so that my children will grow deeper in their understanding of God and His creation, and 3) where our family values are seen through our actions.
When I strip away all of the other stuff I dump onto my life, this center is what is left. And when I take a moment to return to my center, I am able to more clearly see where my time and energy and love should be placed. It grounds me and pushes me to give up the burdens I place on myself, bringing me peace from the self-inflicted stress I find every day. I can look at my messy kitchen and hear my screaming baby and remember that in the midst of it, my preschooler needs to me speak to her with love instead of anger.

So today when you find yourself straying far from where you want to be, I encourage you to take a moment to exhale and return to center.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No See 'Ems

They have these things in South Carolina that we call "no see 'ems" they are these super annoying gnats that buzz around your head, but they are too small to do anything about.  Throughout the summer there are always a couple in the vicinity of ones head, but on occasion you find yourself unfortunately amidst a swarm of the critters and its quite maddening :)

I have realized lately that I have alot of guilt about stuff ..more than I need, and more than I think God wants us to carry around..."This then is how we know that we belong to the truth and we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us.. God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. " 1 John 3:2

I have tried to be a little more atuned to those little things that I have unnecessary guilt over ..and try to get rid of them. I have found that there are alot of things that are like the no see 'ems of good ol' SC. They are buzzing around my head, small enough to not be 100% on my radar but annoying my spirit just the same.

It may be stuff like projects that I started but didnt finish, something someone gave me that I dont use or want or have a place for, it may be a book I need to read, or a pile of stuff in the garage that needs going through...these are little things that in and of themselves are nothing. They are just annoying and add to the overall guilt that we already carry in abundance.

For example ...(this requires a little back story) I am most blessed to be part of an annual Ladies Retreat for my church family. As one of the planners it is my role to help take care of those last minute little changes ..like when the speaker sees the agenda a few days before the weekend and mentions that she needs four sessions, instead of three and the whole agenda needs to shift and change to make that work. That is fine ..except that we just printed and cut 100+ of the cutest 4x6 agendas to be placed at each person's place.  SOO..those all have to be reprinted, and recut. 

My sweet friend, Tiffany was cool with that and did a great job to get that done in a short amount of time and to me so I could get those set out before all the girls got to our "retreating" place (If I recall, we also may have done the math wrong and printed 800 instead of one hundred of them and cut them all before she realized it ..).

When everyone arrived, it looked great! So cute. Unfortunately, I didnt noticed until we were well underway that I had accidentally picked up the WRONG agendas, and placed them at everyones spots. I felt HORRIBLE. All that last minute work under pressure and I didnt even use them! Argh!

Those agendas have been sitting in my guest room for three years now. No lie.

I feel sick to my stomach everytime I see that sweet little stack of love from Tiffany.  Stupid no see 'ems.

So, this week I ceremoniously threw that stack away. It was a little sad, for the same reason I hadnt done it before ..guilt. But, I feel that Tiff would think this was hilarious and not want me to feel this way, and really ...how does that help either of us?

ANYWAYS ..that is a long way to go to say, I would encourage you to keep an eye out for those things that cause you just enough guilt to be annoying ...those add up. Employ the Stress Strategies ...get rid of it, get over it ..whatever you need to do. They arent worth the resources we give them!

Stupid no see 'ems :)

{Welcome ifellowshippers!}

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tips On Tuesday: Worship Time

This tip was shared by my friend Kim (one of our Moms Like Us), who has incorporated it into her daily worship time to the great benefit for her and her family :)

Kim suggested taking a church hymnal or devotional song book and to place it where you can see it throughout the day while doing chores. She has her's placed on the back of her sink, just beneath her kitchen window.

She says ...I propped mine open, and had an amazing time of worship while doing the dishes!  There are so many old songs that I had forgotten or that I didn't know all the verses to, and it was so wonderful to sing those old songs while I did the dishes.  At first, I looked up my favorites, but that took too long, so I just started at the beginning and sang all the verses to the songs I knew.  And I knew more than I thought!  Plus, the first section was praise songs, so they were all really upbeat.  I would sing every verse to a song and then turn the page.  I was actually disappointed when all my dishes were washed because I wanted to sing some more--and I'm not even that big of a singer!  

I think this is a great idea! I dont have a kitchen window, but I do have a place near my sink where I can incorporate this tip. I thought about using a recipe book rack as a prop for the book, so I can glance at the book without having to get the book wet or messy.

I love it! ...what ways do you incorporate worship time into your day?!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Moms Like Us: Molly

I have been getting some great feedback about this weekly feature! I think you all are right with me when it comes to loving being able to see how we are not alone, or our struggles unique in this crazy job of wife/mom/daughter of God :)

This week ..
{Meet Molly}


A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BROOD
I’ve been married to my best friend Kevin for 5 years and am mom to two sweet, spunky, and hysterically funny girls, Charlotte (3) and Katie (almost 1). Kevin is in the Army and has spent half of our marriage (including most of Charlotte’s first 17 months) in Iraq. We moved last year to find a job that would keep him a little closer to home for a while. While he works, I stay home with my girls and our two cats, volunteer with the National Guard’s family programs, and ponder learning the craft of woodworking. 


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE AS A MOM/WIFE?
To balance all of the roles I play. I was Molly long before I was a wife and mom, and I struggle to maintain the delicate balance of dying to myself while still holding on to my identity outside of those roles.  I think it’s easy to swing too far in each direction – to demand that I be put first to the detriment of my family or to always put myself last, also to the detriment of my family. I’m learning that it’s in embracing who God made me to be that I can best fulfill the roles He has blessed me with.

 
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE YOU FEEL GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO?
Blessed Theresa of Calcutta once said “What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me can ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” I believe that God has called me to live my very simple life with great love and in doing so to show the world His heart.


WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU FEEL GOD HAS GIVEN YOU ON A DAILY BASIS, THAT ARE UNIQUE TO YOU?  
There are so many resources God has blessed me with, but so few are unique to me. It’s really the combination of all of them that make my life what it is. But for the sake of the question, one aspect of my life that I am blessed with is having an open mind, with the desire to continually learn more and to challenge myself. I am unafraid to question my deeply held beliefs and to change my understanding of things as I learn new things. I know that if I am truly seeking God, He won’t ever lead me astray. Another resource that I consider invaluable is my education - I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, focusing on interpersonal relationships, and a Masters in child development, focusing on applying current research to inform your work with children and families. For me, that means continually educating myself on what we know about how kids develop – right now I am reading Girls Will Be Girls (JoAnn Deak) and The Philosophical Baby (Alison Gopnik).


A YAY ME! FROM THIS WEEK
I have almost lost all of my weight from the second baby. As of this morning, I only have 5 more pounds to lose!


DO YOU MAKE YOUR BED EVERYDAY?
No. About 1 o’clock in the afternoon, an overwhelming urge to sleep combined with a nicely made bed makes me crazy. It’s just easier to never make it and then curl up in it guilt free while the kids sleep.


ARE ALL YOUR DISHES DONE RIGHT NOW?
ha. are yours?
{ha. NO.}

 IS YOUR LAUNDRY CAUGHT UP RIGHT NOW?
I wish. Laundry is the bane of my existence. I inevitably miss stains that then set in, and I always sneeze uncontrollably whenever I fold it. And as soon as I breathe a sigh of relief, my family brings me the 17 outfits the 3 of them decided to wear that day and I’m starting all over. I’m making steps to get it under control, but I'm finding it really comes down to willpower, which I strangely seem lack when I need it most.


WHAT IS THE VERSE THAT BRINGS YOU BACK TO THE GROUND WHEN YOU FEEL OUT OF CONTROL?
Honestly, it depends on the moment. My needs are constantly changing, and God speaks to me through different verses at different times in my life. Right now, God has been speaking to me most clearly through great Christian thinkers; the following prayer is by Thomas Merton and no matter where I am in life, I always return to it in times of distress:

MY LORD GOD: I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
 
{Thanks so much, Molly!}

Friday, October 29, 2010

Operation: SELF CONTROL

Last week, as part of our Kids of Integrity character training lesson,  we talked about Self Control.

We talked about how we are responsible for our hands and our bodies, and how we need to use control and be responsible for how we use them.

We used the verse, "resist the devil, and he will flee from you."  ....for the first time really talking about temptation, and what that means. We hadnt really talked about Satan alot, I guess, because there were alot of questions in that area. They loved the idea of "resisting" Satan.

We made a lion, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8 ..I am really amazed with how all our character qualities have been so tied together. We obey because we love God, we are alert/attentive so we know how to obey, we are are alert and self controlled so that we do what God wants and not what Satan wants.


Here is Ty "resisting" the devil, portrayed as a lion...he suggested a game where we offer scenerios and try to decide if it is from God or if we are being tempted and need to resist Satan. If our answer was to resist, we put our hand over his face. I was impressed :)

It was alittle more difficult to reward self-control because it was something they didnt do, instead of something they did. We put the nickles away this week, but we will use them again next week when we focus on Respect.

Oh..one more thing that we used alot of ..we had "forced self-control" when they were being out of control with their mouth (yelling inappropriately, talking ugly to siblings, etc) or their hands (hitting, hanging on someone, etc.). They would have to lace their fingers together for a time as a "hand time out" or put their pointer finger over their mouth for a "mouth time out". It worked really well, especially in the car.  We will keep using this one.

Good stuff, I cant wait to keep working obeying, being attentive and having self control. I can see real changes in these little men :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tips on Tuesday..er, Thursday

Okay, Okay..I am way behind all the way around this week..BUT..I had this great inexpensive tip I wanted to share!

I found these great giant push pins at Walmart, $3 for 8. I am LOVING them as a place to display all of our great art projects, color pages and some such stuff...

We just used two of the pins, tied a strong string of some sort (I had jute, so I used it) and clips ..I have aspirations of painting the clips different colors to represent each kid but hey ..we wont pressure ourselves too much for now, right?



This is a time line we made for school ..it is Ty's time line, which we started in 2001 when Mommy and Daddy got married :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Heart Power Tools

I like a good power drill. I dont mind at all putting furniture together, putting shelves up, hanging pictures and stuff ..but I wouldnt want to do any of that without a power drill.

I admit, though, I do get a little scared of most other power tools. I dont like the saws, or most of the really loud ones. They have so much power, and I dont really know what to do with it. I envision myself doing more harm than good (much harm, in fact :).

But, put into the right hands ..these tools can do amazing things! They dont even compare with their non-powered counterparts, even though they are created and designed for the same purpose.

A screwdriver can screw a screw ...which is what it supposed to do, very well.  You can hang pictures, put shelves together and hang them up too.  But, add some power to that humble tool, and you have just increased both your productivity and your efficacy x100.

Isnt that true of us as well?

We are created for a purpose, and promised to be given "everything you need for a life of godliness through the knowledge of him who called you."  (2 Peter1:3) ..so that you will be kept from being "ineffective and unproductive" vs.8.   

God has equipped us ..."to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms."  1Peter 4:10 ..."all these are the work of the one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one (of us) just has he determines." 1 Cor 12:11

He gives us what we need to accomplish the tasks to which he has called us. He gives you to be a mom, another of you to be a wife or a grandmother. He has called you and equipped you with the tools you need to do what he wants you to do for the benefit of His glory and His plan. He has given us everything we need to accomplish these purposes.

Yet, without the full power of his Spirit ...we are just a screwdriver.   A tool still designed for a purpose, still made to do what we do ...but lacking in what we need to be fully effective and productive.

Yet, the power is there ..."God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self-discipline."  2 Tim 1:7

He has not just made us a screwdriver ...but a power drill! His spirit is that super lithium battery pack that just keeps going..and going..and going.

Are you, like me, guilty of doing the job God has called me without using the Spirit to help power it? Are you trying, like me, to sometimes do the job he has given you with an antiquated tool instead one powered by the Spirit who gave you that tool?

I pray for myself, and for you today that you will tap into that Spirit of power! That we can be effective and productive in the things he has called you to today ...but be careful, he may start working in you to create one of those scary power tools that seems too powerful to handle! (wouldnt that be great?!) :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Moms Like Us: Rachel

Well, I have to say that last weeks "Moms Like Us" is a bit late ..I have not excuse than, I totally forgot! :) But, I wanted to make sure you got to share this mom answers asap...because we are so encouraged to hear when we are not alone in this whole being a wife/mom/christian thing ...

{Meet Rachel}

A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BROOD
I married my high school sweetheart, Jared eleven years ago. Quarterback meets band nerd, yeah I know kinda funny. We have two amazing children. Jared works long hours and very hard for us, but he is happy to do it. I love his sense of humor the most. He keeps me in stiches daily. He is an amazing husband and I am very blessed to have him.
I kept my job in retail after stepping down as the manager two years ago. I work two days per week for some fun money. I love to coupon and find it like a game to see how much I can save. I am an organizer for a meetup group for preschoolers, and the den leader for my son's cub scout den. I also homeschool our children.
Wyatt is 9 and has the most wonderful sense of humor. He loves to tell jokes and sing, and is fiercely protective of his little sister. Wyatt has had many problems over the years learning somewhat due to a medical condition. This year we have decided to homeschool, and I have not regretted that decision.
Abby is our very spunky 3 year old. She is incredibly athletic. She can already hit a softball across the yard. She loves to dance, and can be seen boogying around the house. She loves her brother and it warms my heart to see how much they really love each other.

We had a hard time getting a pic this week of all of them ..but these pics were taken this week of her little punkins at the Pumpkin Patch! :)

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE AS A MOM/WIFE 
Discipline. Discipline for my children and even discipline for my self. Not to say I don't discipline, but being consistent in it.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE YOU FEEL GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO?
I don't know. This is the question is always struggle with. I know that He wants me to raise my children to be godly children, and to be supportive of my DH. Some friends have said that I can be a good and objective listener, but I am not sure that is all that God has planned for me.
I also believe that God can constantly change what role he wants you to play. For instance, maybe this week He needs me to be there for a friend. Hear her out, support her, pray for her, minister to her, and to tell her that God wants her to come back. He fights for her daily. This month he could put me in a position that someone else is watching my responses to a situation. He could be using me to show that someone that we can go through difficult situations without reacting with anger.


WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU FEEL GOD HAS GIVEN YOU ON A DAILY BASIS, THAT ARE UNIQUE TO YOU?
The ability to multi-task. Sometimes I look at my schedule and wonder how I do it. I am also live near by both sides of our family. They are such a blessing. I also love that I have such wonderful godly women as friends to lift me up when I need it. Surrounding myself with these people constantly renews me when I am on empty.
{Courtney here ..I can back this one up, she can juggle more stuff than you would believe!:)

DO YOU MAKE YOUR BED EVERYDAY? Not a chance. Really? Do people really do that?

ARE ALL YOUR DISHES DONE RIGHT NOW? Yes

IS YOUR LAUNDRY CAUGHT UP RIGHT NOW? No, but it isn't out of control.

WHAT IS THE VERSE THAT BRINGS YOU BACK TO THE GROUND WHEN YOU FEEL OUT OF CONTROL?
Well what I read when I feel out of control is this Phillipians 4 12-13. It is so encouraging for me. It pulls me right back in and reading it works liking take a big deep breath.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
I also really like Psalm 33 20-22. It reminds me to put my trust in him.
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

YAY FOR YOU!
Well not really a yay for me moment,, but certainly a warm and fuzzy one. I told the kids we were taking them out to dinner. ( A rare treat). 
These were there responses:
Wyatt: Is it a kids eat free place? We want to make sure we are using our money wisely, and not being wasteful. (And yes it was-boy am I proud of him)
Abby- You are the bestest mommy and daddy I ever had! I love you! (Not sure if that is the best compliment-since Jared pointed out we are her only mommy and daddy, but I loved it)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Keeping it Real

I am easily motivated, I have decided.

I realized that I get inspired by the smallest things, and that I just assume everyone else is that way! :) If someone posts something on facebook about eating five meals a day to boost their metabolism, I am IN! If a friend talks about a new idea or concept that has helped them be organized or more peaceful ..I want the details, and I am ready to go! I love inspiring books, blogs and sayings on stuff! :)

Learning this of myself the past couple of weeks, I have determined that that is the reason that I love blogging. I love to put out those ideas for things that help me in one way or another, in hopes of inspiring those who may read it to greatness :) ...not greatness like ME, but their own greatness that is just waiting to be encouraged to action.

I know, because I do this, that so often the same people who inspire us also intimidate us or make us feel like they must have it SO much more together than we do. I know I feel this way about some of you girls' whose blogs I read and think "I want do be like that!"  ...of course we do, you are awesome!

I giggle to myself when I get sweet notes and comments that elude to this about myself ...because if you girls could come hang out with me ...well, lets just say you would see me for what I am, just a mom working to make this all work and hopefully doing it in a way that brings glory to God...just like you.

Just to prove it, I took a quick walk around my downstairs ... :)

This is my kitchen ..sink full of dishes, lunch stuff still out on the counter ...

 That is an open cabinet, jar of peanut butter, an uncovered cake from daddy's birthday this past weekend, and I shudder at the idea of who those grates on my stove look ..I hate cleaning my stove:)
 This is a peek inside my laundry room ...where a load that has been clean for about three days sits to be folded. There isnt any dirty laundry in there right now, but only because I havent brought the mountain down from the heavens (aka, upstairs) yet :)

 And, this is a back up view from the computer where I sit right now ..that is my afternoon cup of coffee and some dark chocolate because I am soo tired (baby up every two hours last night, cutting teeth..blech), some stuff left over from school today and a back door that needs cleaned.

So, I say this for my benefit as much as anyones ...remember to let great stuff inspire greatness, not guilt..let us strive for excellence in Christ, not to be like someone who we think is excellent.  Remember that God is the only True Measure, and that everything else is just supplement to our "everything we need."

I am so glad I have you all to encourage me on my way ...your being here is inspiring to ME ..so thank you :)

{I dedicate this post to my friend Molly, who reminds me to keep it real and that there is comfort in all of us being normal and not having it together}

Operation: ATTENTIVENESS

Our second week of the Kids of Integrity lessons we focused on learning about being attentive. This is big issue in our house, and since we learned last week that "if you love me, you will obey my command" (John 14:15) it makes sense that this week we will learn about how we find out what God's commands for us are!

We focused on the verse .."He who belongs to God, listens to what he says." John 8:47

The first day we made these "listening ears"  ...to relate the need to listen carefully, just like animals who are hunting do (thus this look of a tiger..or something :).


We talked about Samuel, who listened carefully to both Eli and God when they spoke. That story is ripe for kids lessons of so many kinds :)

Then, we followed the lesson from KOI but added a few little changes of our own, to fit these specific boys.

We learned that listening involved eyes, ears and heart - we talked about how we read God's word with our eyes, as well as watch others who are good examples. We listen with our ears to instructions, carefully so we know what commands to follow. And that one way we listen to God is through our heart.

We really stressed eyes and ears together ...HUGE stress on making eye contact, and we mentioned alot about where your eyes are, there your ears and heart will follow :)  We paid out from the nickel jar for making eye contact, listening and then obeying properly.  The boys got two nickels if they both paid attention with their eyes AND obeyed cheerfully.  This worked pretty well!

We played the "Pay Attention" game ...this is one we have played before, and the boys loved it. We took the timer that beeped, set it for one minute, and then I hid it somewhere in the room. They had to come in the room, and see if they could find it. They had to wait until they could hear the beeping, before they could locate it. We did this over and OVER ..meanwhile, we talked about we can look for something with just our eyes like that for a long time, but it is easier when we "listen" for it as well (aka ..listen to mommy's instructions so you know what to do to obey).

This week, we have moved onto Self Control ...another big one for these boys. I cant wait to tell you about the week! :)

Update: Operation: OBEY

Well, I am celebrating a three week "yay me!" because we are really sticking to the Kids of Integrity character training program!

We started with Obedience, and have moved through Attentiveness and now working on the Self-Control lesson. I cant stress how great this program is, being very thorough and giving some really great ideas of ways to incorporate these godly qualities in our children.

First, I wanted to update on Obedience ...I pretty much showed all our great activities on the previous post, except for this one ...this one is based on the verse "Listen, my son, to your fathers instruction and do not forsake your mothers teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head, and a chain to adorn your neck." Prov 1:8-9



 If you knew Canon, you would know how impressive it was that he kept with this activity for about 45 minutes. He was SO proud of his chain when it was all done :)


We are still working on the lessons we learned about Adam and Eve, Lot's wife, Noah and Jonah ..some of which obeyed, and some who didnt.

One thing we did a bit differently as the week progressed, is that we changed up the Nickel Jar a bit ...

Canon kinna started enjoying moving the nickels from from the "happy" jar to the "sad" jar a little too much :) SOO, we changed it up and poured all the nickels into the sad jar, and started earning nickels for good behavior instead of taking them away for bad behavior...seems like child psychology backs that one up somehow :)

We will keep this tool going, now that we learned how it works better for us :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Dont Run with Twinkies

I have mentioned that I am reading a book titled, Crazy Love by Frances Chan. 

I cant tell you how it has started my brain, heart and spirit moving in a passionate way toward God in my life, and the life of my family. It has truly initiated a renewing of my mind that is palpable, and involuntarily mobilizing.

The chapter I am reading/moving through (there are so many thought provoking thoughts I read, ponder, read some more, think, read...) right now is called, When You're in Love. It has had some most interesting thoughts, one of which is about Twinkies. :)

My husband loves Twinkies ..maybe that is one reason this metaphor stuck with me so much ...

pg. 104 - "Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies. Besides being self-defeating and sideache-inducing, it would also be near impossible. - you would have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies. 

In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you dont have the opportunity to wonder ..Am I doing right? or Did I serve enough this week?  When you are running toward Christ, you freed up to serve, love and give thanks without guilt, worry or fear. As long as you are running, you are safe."

I know that for me, and I believe that for many of us, guilt is something that adds to the gut level "stress" of our spirits. We are so burdened as Christian woman with a sense of desire to be all, do all, handle all, serve all ...we are overwhelmed with the desires that consume our hearts, and how we are to achieve them all...and guilt when we dont.

For me, the root of this journey to peace via less stress is about letting go of the things that God does not intend us to carry on our shoulders and in our hearts. Guilt, fear, expectations of ourselves that God didnt give us, unfair judgements of who we are or should be ...those are all Twinkies girls!

Ah, to pursue Christ to the point that I dont have time for Twinkies ...yes, that is where my focus needs to be!

What are your Twinkies?  ..mine are guilt, comparisons, self-doubt, pride, lack of focus, impatience.

I need to put those away, so I can pursue this Christ I am learning to love more every day. How about you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Moms Like Us: Brandi

I think that so many of our mommy stresses are related to the fact that we sometimes feel alone in our struggles and frustrations! I know that there is much relief for me those times when I am reminded that we are all in this together, and that we all struggle with these same things on a regular basis

So, for our second week of Moms Like Us ...
{Meet Brandi}


 A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BROOD ...
I have been greatly blessed to be Ben's wife for eight years and Riley and Wesley's Mommy for two. Did I ever imagine thatGod's blessings would bring me all the way across the U.S., far, far from family and friends....only to give me more amazing friends and family? Nope. 
But here we are, happy as can be! Ben is a teacher, as well as a football coach and after-school mentor. I don't love the long days of football season, but then I remember the wonderful payoff of summertime and lots of extra Ben/Daddy time forus. That, plus the great example he is for so many high school aged students who could use all of the good examples that they can get. 
I get to work PRN in Physical Therapy, which I am so thankful for. I still get to work now and again, but mostly I get to be home with our sweet little muffins. The boys are twenty seven months, and that
should be enough said as to their ever-busy, wonderfully exciting toddler-hood. (Are they even still toddlers? I guess they're almost preschoolers already.)
 

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRUGGLE AS A MOM? 
  ...time management. Nothing new there I know, as all moms have that struggle. But I have an image of the Mommy I want to be in my head, and I find it tricky to be that woman every day. (o.k., sometimes it's tricky to be that woman for hours in a row if I'm being honest.) I really try to remind
myself that chores like keeping the laundry up, or keeping the kitchen clean are important pieces to the whole of a happy home. Spending time with the boys is so important, and I do so much better at it when I've done the other not-as-exciting must-be-dones around the house. I do agree that Mommyhood is about self sacrifice, to an extent. I try to remember that God's reward for serving Him in the role of a
good parent is going to far outweigh the small self sacrifices like missing out on extra hours of scrapbook time for instance. I also think of what my good friend Courtney says in that these times are "a season" in our lives. These precious Mommy days will soon become
Mom days when the boys won't need as much, and I may find myself
missing all of the needing of Mommy. 
***I'll come back to this list during nap time!***
(Courtney here ...I had to leave that in because who cant relate to that?!)
 
 WHAT IS THE PURPOSE YOU FEEL GOD HAS CALLED YOU TO?
I sometimes feel that God's purpose for me is to truly be the quiet and gentle spirit in my family. If you knew my extended family, and my tendency to not be so quiet or gentle at times, you'd understand when I say that I'm a work in progress. Being the only girl in a family with three brothers, I can see now that I'm more of the sounding board, ear to bend, shoulder to lean on for my siblings. I'm definitely beginning to understand what selfless sacrifices my Mom must have made over the years and now enjoy her as a friend as much as my mother. When I think of Ben and my family, I also think of the role I aspire to lead...quietly and gently. I think about my boys' future and the girls they'll become friends with and especially the one's they'll marry and I pray that the character they'll look for in those girls will be God-centered. I further pray that they'll naturally be drawn to that because of the example they've been given from their Mommy, not inspite of their Mommy. The role of a quiet and gentle spirit in my marriage is again, a work in progress. Perhaps Ben could better answer about my success in that regard when looking for a true picture. I feel that real strength is sometimes being quiet and gentle, although that's not what the world would say. In the meantime, I'm still working on myself.

WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU FEEL GOD HAS GIVEN YOU ON A DAILY BASIS, THAT ARE UNIQUE TO YOU?  
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of "unique resource" is having twins. Now honestly, in the beginning, meaning most of year one, I probaby wouldn't have thought of 2 x everything as resourceful. But the beauty of God's timing is that we live in His unfailing patience, and after having been through a time of higher stress, or difficulty, He's sees us through and causes us to grow. By no means am I saying that I've mastered the art of Mommyhood, but I feel like I'm seeing now how 2 two-year-olds can in fact be a wonderful resource. Do I feel like that every minute? No. Do I feel like that when they are best buddies and learn and play together? Yes. Am I especially feeling that way when they have the same nap times every day? Absolutely.

A YAY ME FROM THIS WEEK?
My "yay" for me moment was Thursday evening when I decided to give the boys and early dinner, pack them up and take them out to watch Ben coach his Gators for their Thursday night game. Packing up the boys can be a chore that sometimes outweighs my good intentions of outings. (Silly perhaps, but true...don't judge me too harshly.) There came a point when I knew we'd be late to the game and I still needed to stop for cash to get into the game, ect. I made up my mind to go however, and we made it, better late than never. The game itself stunk for the Gators, but was a "touchdown" for the Greene team. The boys could not have been more well behaved. I love them, but they're two....I knew it could have gotten hairy. Riley sat on my lap, and Wesley sat on the bench for the entire second half, without a single whine, cry or complaint. They cheered for Daddy and the Gators, they ate snacks and best of all they snuck up and suprised Ben after the game as he didn't know we were coming. Ben said several times that that was the best part of his entire day. "Yay" for Mommy. :)

DO YOU MAKE YOUR BED EVERYDAY ? .. No. Do I wish I was that neat and tidy, yes. I'd say I average around 30 to 40% of the "make my bed each day" goal.

ARE ALL YOUR DISHES DONE RIGHT NOW? ...Yes. I am more of a dish fanactic than a make my bed fanatic. For some reason, (o.k. my Mom is that reason) I just have a need to have a cleaned out sink. If I'm at the sink to rinse, then I'm there to also get the dishes in the dishwasher and get it running. Then empited. My dishwasher is currently running.

HOW ABOUT YOUR LAUNDRY? Yes. I am on top of the laundry curve at the moment. There are times when I'm parting through laundry like Moses through the Red Sea, but today, I'm caught up. Ask me tomorrow, and I'd most likely have a different answer.

WHAT IS A VERSE THAT GROUNDS YOU WHEN YOU ARE FEELING OUT OF CONTROL?
 I like John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world."
Not to get into a political debate, but at times things in this present time seem to be overwhelming. I can't help but think back on OT times when nations rejected God and He let those nations fall. Our only guarantee is that because Jesus overcame the world, in every sense, with His Spirit we can have peace and courage.

Another favorite of mine is Jesus' prayer in John 17. In verses 19-21 Jesus says "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."  I've read it over and over and one day it just hit me in a way that highlighted the fact that this recorded prayer was Jesus praying for the apostles, and US....we are the "but for those also who believe in Me through their word" people. (perhaps not a revelation to you, but it just hit me as so personal) Jesus was praying for us, specifically, all of those years ago, just before carrying out God's will of the cross. It's a written account of His personal prayer to His Father and they were talking about us, AND wanting us to share in Their glory. Whoa. It just really stands out for me.


{Thanks for sharing Brandi!}
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