{Mommy Journal} The Difference 15 Minutes Can Make

imageWell, here we are almost into February, and I’m still working on my list of 2017 goals. The New Year took me kind of by surprise, with a new baby and all. So far it’s been a stretching and fulfilling one and I am so eager to keep growing over the next twelve months.

I thought I would at least share one specific goal I came up with a few weeks ago, in case it resonates with other mamas. I am purposing to, whenever possible, leave the house 15-20 minutes before I actually need to. We live in an apartment, a flight of stairs and two doors from our parking garage, which makes getting two kiddos and their paraphernalia to the car a bit of an ordeal. Leaving really early will allow for my mom brain to go back inside for things I have forgotten, and give me time to address correction with Caleb if needed, without arriving late.

But more importantly, I want to stop rushing Caleb. When I leave with only minutes to spare, we have to hurry. Caleb likes to stop and pick up leaves on his walk down the steps. He spots bugs and wants to discuss them. He gets distracted by the construction across the street. He is two and he will only be two for 10 more months. I want to leave time for him to be a child, and for me to enjoy that. Our trips will be much more pleasant and peaceful if we can take our time walking down to the garage.

I’ve been implementing this simple goal, and already it has led to much happier treks to the car. I can interact patiently with my little man over his observations and discoveries. We make small memories and Caleb learns new things. It is a very simple and realistic decision that is already bearing sweet fruit.

I hope that one day when I look back on our LA apartment life, I will remember getting out the door with my little ones with a fond smile and a full heart.

{Mommy Journal} A 20-Month Letter

FullSizeRender-11DSC_3446DSC_3518Dear Caleb,

Life is going so quickly right now and I wish I could keep up with writing down all your dear little antics. You are an absolute joy and thrill to our hearts. We could not imagine a more lovable, feisty, energetic, silly, affectionate, relational 20-month-old than the one God has given us. Every day with you is a new adventure and I am just smitten with the little person you are becoming.

I realized the other day, as I was cooking and you were busy pulling dishes out of your cupboard, that somehow, wherever I am, you end up there and find something to keep you happy. If I am in the bedroom putting away laundry, you’ll be in the corner playing with Daddy’s reading light. If I am in the living room sending apartment emails, you will be at your book basket reading. If I am in the bathroom getting ready for the day, you will be at the counter, seeing what you can reach and asking to put on deodorant. If I am in your room picking up, you will be pounding your workbench. It doesn’t matter where I go…you are my shadow and you follow me and stay busy next to me. I know it won’t be like this for long, and I treasure those moments of noticing your constant presence and your desire to be where Mommy is.

We love so many quirks about you.
– your crowd cheer
– the way you run and jump onto the bed when Mommy’s making it
– your infatuation with clocks and smoke alarms
– the way you call stars “tinkle stars” and then start signing “tinkle, tinkle little star”
– your noise and hand motion for an elephant
– the way you still sign “bath” when saying it
– your love for playing Hop on Pop
– the way you ask, “shoulders?” when you see Daddy leaving for work
– how you’ve started adding “too” to words for emphasis… “too hot,” “too big,” etc.
– your passion for books. Right now your favorites are Lentil and Bread and Jam for Frances.
– the way you point out “Mommy’s oo-ee (smoothie), Cabub’s oo-ee”. You’re very intent on whose is what, and refer to yourself in the third person.
– your love for nursery
– the way you pull our faces in and give us kisses right on the lips
– your giggles as you run to get in between Daddy and Mommy’s hugs
– when you say “more neck” so I’ll keep kissing under your double chin
– your obsession with “blankie” and “other blankie” for naps and bedtime
– your love for puzzles
– how you chatter about everything you’re reading during blanket time
– the way you say “oh-gurt” (yogurt) and “pagetti”
– when you’re so excited about something, you say “oooooh, yeaaaaah!”
– your passion for all kinds of balls – beach balls, basketballs, footballs, tennis balls, etc…and your acute awareness of the difference between them
– when you say “happy” as we reach the shopping cart, because you’re going to have a happy heart when Mommy puts you in
– your excitement over time with Lukas and Emma
– your enormous appetite
– the way you ask for “eck-fast” each morning and sometimes after naps
– your hugs and kisses and “awwwwws” for baby Seggie
– your crazy dance moves and amazing sense of rhythm
– how you set your jaw when you are concentrating on something

We love you, sweet Monkey! You are going to be a wonderful big brother and we are so excited to watch you grow and learn. If I could freeze time, I would, yet I know that you will continue to delight us as you get older. We pray that God lays hold of your heart from a young age and that you follow Him with all that you are.

Love,
Mommy

{Mommy Journal} Monkey Vocabulary

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When you’re a mommy, and 95% of what you do is spend time caring for, playing with, and enjoying your baby/toddler, you think there’s no way you’ll ever forget all the adorable little things he does and says. But then you do.

I’m so glad for what I’ve been able to write down, but wish I’d written more! This is a simple post to share with you and help me remember what Caleb’s vocabulary looks like these days. He says more, but these are the recognizable staples I can brainstorm right now. :)

Daddy
Mommy
Puff
Bick (book)
Wa-wa (water)
Mick (milk)
Yuck
Wow
Hi
Yeah
No
Emma
Nana (Banana)
Caw (car)
Daw (dog)
Kit (cat)
Baw (ball)
Uh-oh
Up
Bay-Baw (baseball)
Oop (hoop)
Baby
Wuck (walk)
Baff (bath)
Muh (more)
Bye-bye
Gock (clock, sometime socks)
Ish (George, as in Curious George)
Eees (cheese or shoes)
Ay-baw (rainbow)
Essh (glasses)
Ack (snack)
Bop (Popsie)
Nannie
Ama (Grandma – although this varies slightly)
Ampa (Grandpa – also varies each time)
Eat (street)
Ess (stairs)
Onk onk (honk honk)
Beep
Bup (button)
Bee (bird)
Knock knock

{Marriage Journal} A Baby Is Not An Escape

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Here are a few thoughts I drafted one month before Caleb was born, but never posted. 15 months later, I’m convinced more than ever that a solid marriage is the best foundation from which to begin adding children to the mix! =) 

Andrew and I are bursting with excitement to meet our first child sometime in the next several weeks. It’s truly a day we’ve talked and dreamed about for years, and it’s finally here.

Goodbye, Just Us

Saying hello to this beautiful new season of life called parenting has meant bidding farewell to an equally amazing time as just the two of us, and that makes me sad. Andrew is my very favorite person and best friend, and no matter how much one-on-one time we are blessed with, I could always enjoy even more. I’m never tired of his company, and when he is at school, I look forward to his return all day long. Sometimes we can’t even wait through his 20 minute commute and one of us calls the other when he’s out of class so we can start talking while he drives. =)

This is not to say that we do not sin against each other, behave selfishly, hurt one another’s feelings, have conflict, and hit bumps in the road, because we do. But thanks entirely to the grace of God, our relationship is characterized by unity and camaraderie. He has enabled us to establish the habit of keeping short accounts, so that matters of conflict are addressed quickly and willing forgiveness is granted regularly. This makes for an imperfect but oh, so sweet friendship. Praise God!

Hello, Parenthood

The natural progression of life is to start having children sometime after your wedding, and that’s a very good thing. But I think it would be easy to seek this “next step” of parenting as a means of escape from the monotony of a marriage that has become at best boring, or even downright unhappy.

Escape is never the right reason to begin having children. Adding babies to an unhealthy marriage is a sure way to make that marriage even worse. I cannot imagine navigating just the challenges of pregnancy with a husband I’m not close to, let alone trying to raise a little person(s) together. That sounds like the recipe for disaster.

If you happen to be someone currently married and pre-babies, I would encourage you not to crave that “next step” as a way to restore excitement or add a new distraction to your life. It may be wise to evaluate your relationship with your husband and take purposeful steps to help it flourish. (This is always a good idea, regardless of your season of life.) Pinpoint where you are sinning or slacking off in your marriage and ask the Lord to change you from the inside out and grow you into the wife He has called you to be. Communicate with your husband and work together to strengthen your friendship. Of course, all our people problems can be traced back to where our hearts are at with God, so this area of our lives must be addressed first.

Having children should be a joyful step that married couples decide to take as one happy unit. I don’t know this first hand yet, but I have observed that parenting is a team effort and should draw dad and mom closer to one another as they learn to lean on God through brand new challenges and responsibilities that children bring.

You’re Already a Family

Instead of thinking of “starting a family” as the morning you get a positive pregnancy test, think of your wedding day as that moment. You are a family, just the two of you. Soak up this precious season of life as “newlyweds” (even if it’s been years) and build into your friendship with your husband. After all, when the kids are grown and gone, you’ll be right back where you are now. If your littles were your escape from “just the two of you”, that doesn’t sound like a happy way to enter the “empty nesters” phase.

I know there are countless stories of unhappy couples having children, and God using parenting as a tool to refine the marriage and bring the husband and wife closer together. All is certainly not lost when babies are added to a rocky marriage. Praise the Lord! But it is ideal to work toward that healthy relationship before the kiddos come along, so consider how you might do that now. Never view a baby as an escape; instead ask the Lord to create a marriage you don’t want to escape from.

This World is Not My Home…And That Changes Everything

IMG_7707As I wrote recently in my 2015 recap, I did a lot of wrestling over the past year. Much of that wrestling continues as we are one month into 2016. It’s not necessarily a negative thing; wrestling is a necessary part of the Christian life. There was a time when I didn’t really wrestle the way I do now, and I know that I had nowhere near the relationship with Christ or the desire to make my life count for Him that I do now. With growth and sanctification has come more intense internal spiritual battle.

In reading Letters to Pastors’ Wives (which is SO good so far, by the way), I stumbled upon a quote that absolutely hit the nail on the head in articulating one of my biggest struggles. This quote is written of two godly Christian wives from years ago…

“They knew this world was not their home, and this knowledge gave them stability to enjoy good times without needing them and to endure hardship without despair.”

When I read that, my world was rocked. That is precisely where I so want my heart to land. I’m a pendulum, constantly swinging between being so caught up in not holding onto my gifts that then I don’t even enjoy them, to being crippled by fear that I might lose them because I’m idolizing them. But that simple sentence encapsulates the balance that I long to strike: applying the truth that this world is not my home by enjoying the good times, with a precious, healthy family and all my material needs met, while still having a heart that is prepared to see those blessings removed without sinking into despair.

This concept boiled down into one simple sentence hit me in such a profound way that I felt compelled to share it in case anyone out there wrestles with the same issue.

Believing by faith that this world is a fleeting journey taking me toward my eternal home with Christ has massive practical implications for how I live my life. I’m constantly begging the Lord to give me the discipline and vision to set my “mind on the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:2).

Because doing so changes everything.

{Mommy Journal} Where’s the Chocolate?

DSC_1763It’s been one of those long stay-at-home mom weeks, as my baby has had a drawn-out flu bug leading to restless nights and fussy days. My “tired” this week pales in comparison to most mothers’ tired, but I struggled with it nonetheless.

In many little moments of feeling emotionally and physically spent, I noticed thoughts like this skip across my head.

I need a few minutes to put my feet up and watch a grown-up show. Chocolate would make everything better right now. I really need a nap. I need a washing machine in my apartment. I need my mom. I need a husband who isn’t buried in homework. I need a break. 

But guess what? I didn’t need any of those things. We’re a little over halfway through Whole30 right now (a restrictive 30 day nutritional reset diet), and if nothing else, it has shown me how quickly when I’m feeling sad or at the end of my rope, I turn to food or something else for the comfort I’m craving, without even thinking about it! I didn’t eat any chocolate this week, and I said no to a lot of other desires as I realized that these small trials are meant to push me not to comfort food, a nap, or a break, but to Jesus Christ Himself. On good days and on bad days, Jesus and Jesus alone is what I need.

I long for my first impulse in the difficult moments not to be “Where’s the chocolate?” but a humble cry to my Savior. When life’s hard circumstances, big or small, have me down, I want to instinctively run to sit at His feet, by meditating on memorized Scripture, singing hymns in my head, or poring over an open Bible.

This week, as I’ve recognized my sinful tendency to skip Jesus and seek joy from material gifts, I have experienced the lasting benefits of instead denying my flesh and “seeking the things above, where Christ is” (Col 3:1b).

It takes surprising discipline to do this–to meditate on the gospel while I’m cleaning a sick little one, or praise God for Who He is when I’m getting up for the 10th time at night–but the reward of real peace and contentment is well worth the struggle to think heavenward.

One specific thought that has encouraged me this week came from a chapter I read from Here is Our God along with Revelation 4-5 a few days ago. I’ll leave you with this quote.

“Let’s never forget that this heavenly scene, with God’s throne at the center, is the center of the universe NOW, with this ongoing worship of our Creator God. There is a throne in heaven now, awesome and sovereign. Don’t doubt it. It’s right there right now as if just through a door. Let’s think of this throne when we wake up tomorrow morning… Let’s never think of our sufferings or our joys–or others’ sufferings and joys–without letting live in our imaginations the picture of this sovereign throne and our awesome holy God and this worship of Him ringing right now at the center of the universe.”

(Kathleen Nielson)

Clarification: Chocolate, washing machines, naps…they are all gifts from God that can be used and enjoyed. This post simply seeks to point out my tendency to start (and often end) with those things, rather than running to God with my troubles. 

 

{Mommy Journal} Facing My Fear (Pt 2)

DSC_0034It seems a terrible oversight that I did not specifically share any of the Scripture verses that have become precious to me in my recent battle with fear and anxiety. Many of these are becoming treasured old friends and I am beginning to memorize them without effort. It is a wonderful gift to have rich passages of truth hidden in my heart! I have found it amazing how God has spoken directly to my situation through HIs Word whenever I have opened it, so I won’t be able to list even close to all the verses He has blessed me with, but here are just a few.

Matthew 6:25, 27

“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?…And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

1 Peter 1:3-9

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

Psalm 46:1-2

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.”

Psalm 37:1-3

“Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”

James 1:12

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

Psalm 61:2

“From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

Philippians 4:6-7

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 34:4-8

I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces will never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them. O taste and see that the LORD is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!