Spring Cleaning

Ahhhh, feel that breeze? Smell those flowers? Feel that sun? It’s Spring. It’s cleaning time.

Spring has always seemed to me to be a better time for resolutions than January. Maybe it is because I am emerging from my hibernation hole sometime in April and am ready for new beginnings. This year winter was especially long because it got a bit of a jump start when I broke my foot and was 8.5 months pregnant. There hasn’t been a ton of leaving the house (for exciting, fun things) in the past few months. So not only am I ready to welcome nicer weather and more outdoors time, but I am ready to clean house- with regards to me. I am ready for some positive changes. I tend to be a person who takes on too much at once, fails, and then gives up and buries my head in the sand, or the covers. But for the sake of setting a good example for my kids, especially my daughters, I want to make some changes and stick with them even through the inevitable fails. No more all or nothing. Lot’s more grace. Lot’s more circumspectness. Lot’s more appreciating who God made me to be. Lot’s more diligence and perseverance.

I have started by (re) committing to making spending time daily in God’s Word a priority for me. I was so convicted a month or so ago by the verse “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,  now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:1-3). I have prayed that God would give me a craving for Him that I would satisfy in Him. I think it really resonated with me because these days I spend so much time nursing a baby who needs my milk to survive. I want to rely so heavily on God and His truth that I need it for sustenance. I have vowed not to check my email until I have read the Bible, and I have found that feeding Royce in the morning is a great time to do it.

Along with the Bible I want to always be in the progress of another edifying book. This is so much easier that I am no longer taking classes and bogged down by required reading.

I am trying to be very purposeful with how I discipline and instruct my kids-always having it go back to a heart issue with a Biblical basis. No more empty corrections.

A good friend showed me the Orange Rhino Blog, where the woman challenges moms to not yell at their kids anymore for a year. I didn’t realize how often I resort to this as a tension release. Yikes. It’s so ugly. And my kids’ are way too emotional and quick to raise their voices…wonder why!  So for this challenge: I am in! I am so thankful to have friends along with me to hold me accountable and support me we strive together to be better mommies. Seriously, I would be a puddle without these girls!

I am trying to reach my kids with a much more grace based approach. I want their obedience but mostly I want their hearts. I am trying to look at it with a more long term perspective which is very challenging when you are in the thick of a standoff over something as stupid as picking up toys. God is using wise and wonderful woman to teach me how to maintain my standards without compromising my patience, love and grace towards my kids. I am learning to meet them more where they are instead of having them rise to meet me and my sometimes lofty expectations.

I am trying to eat healthier: less carbs and sugar and salads for lunch each day. I am so sick of being exhausted, bloated and not losing this weight. I know eating healthier will help me be a better wife and mom. I also need to be better about following through on my meal plans so we can have healthy dinners at home, together as a family. Sometimes with Peter’s work schedule this can’t happen but I need to just plan and execute better so we have less thrown together meals. I also need to perfect cooking with beggars on each leg!

I am making excersize more of a priority. I want to get to the gym three times a week. I am being realistic here within my constraints and recognizing that there are times I am going to have to make myself go…okay most times I am going to have to make myself go.

We are being more disciplined about tithing first. This is something I am ashamed to say we got away from a bit when Peter’s company was not paying him. We need to get back into the habit of giving to church before we pay any bills.

We also are being more diligent about saving our money and trying to live below our means. This is not easy because we are a one income family and don’t have much extra, but we are trying to make the effort so that hopefully someday we can purchase our own home.

Until then we are in a rental and that leads me to struggle with discontentment a lot. I am praying and praying about this all the time. I want to be thankful-as I teach my kids, rather than greedy or discontent. I am also trying in small ways to make the most of where God has us living now. I have done a few little decorative changes, made a number of organizational changes which helps a lot (we are still in the process of some major spring cleaning/throwing away), and am trying to keep up with the housework. Emphasis on trying. Each day the kids and I spend two different 15 minute stretches tidying up/doing chores-one in the afternoon right after lunch and once in the evening before or after dinner. My goal is to have our home kept up with enough that it is always within a 15-20 minute cleaning session of being welcoming to a surprise guest. Some days and weeks are better than others…


Anyway, this post is super rambly and uninteresting, but this is what I am up to now! I am trying to enjoy life where God has me. I am trying to find joy in the everyday. And I am trying to make small but significant improvements!

A few photos of my spring babies to leave you with (I know you were dying for them! ):

038 copy

045 copy
 
017 copy

052 copy 059 copy 149 copy

Jesus behind door number three

 

017 copy

 

Ever been to a seeker church? You know, one that is all about the experience and a little short on biblical Truth. One that is all about God’s love but doesn’t mention why we need God’s love so much (we are a pretty sin soaked, messed up bunch.) I am talking about churches that so badly want to fill the seats that they put God in a box and only talk about the “appealing” or politically correct aspects of God. I have been to one or two of these places in the past. I  left feeling a little icky-kind of like I had been part of a superficial game show event-“Let’s see what’s behind door number three…Jesus! And He loves you! Come on down! We will be back with more surprises after the break.” Or maybe with more of a hippie vibe: “Jesus totally loves you, man. Raaaad. Church feels so good. Can you feel the love?” Anyway, these churches only touch on part of the truth, but tend to leave out the parts of the Bible or the Christian walk or even the character of God Himself that they think won’t win people over. In a sense they are putting the responsibility of evangelizing all on themselves and leaving God out of it. Their approach basically says that “if people really knew that God hated sin, or that God expected people to love and give sacrificially and generously, or that in this life we continue to have struggles, they would not be so into this whole song and dance.”

 

In my very consuming task of parenting my children and reaching their hearts I have started asking myself: am I a “seeker parent”? Do I hide from my kids the parts of God that I don’t think they will like? Do I try to make God’s word fit into my own parenting agenda? Do I put too much into my own skills or words or efforts in evangelizing my kids?

 

When explaining why certain behavior is right and wrong I try to tie it back to scripture and biblical truth/morality. I want them to know why. I want everything to come back to a heart issue so they see their need for God and why grace is such an awesome thing. Sometimes I think to myself, “am I making God sound like a big bossy guy with a long list of rules?” Because there are some days where I feel as though I am saying over and over again things like “God wants us to obey our parents.” “God teaches us to be honest because He is truth and we can always believe what He says.” “The Bible tells us to love one another and be kind to each other.” “The Bible tells us that love is not rude.” Sound like a broken record much?! It is times like this where I wonder if my kids will still embrace God if they hear about the standards He has. Does this make God sound unappealing?  I tend to get a little “seeker church-ish”. Should I water the Bible down a little? Should I try to cram God into a box that my kids can play with when they want to and ignore Him in the corner when they don’t like what He has to say? Now don’t get me wrong, God’s idea of right and wrong and how we should live is not at all the only thing I share about God with my kids. We always talk about why. We talk about that out of God’s love He gave us right and wrong . We also talk a lot about how God made everything (so much so that the other day Braxton saw a “digga” truck and said “Spring is mine favorite season pecause der are diggas and dump twucks everywhere. God made wots of twucks.”) We talk about being thankful for what God has blessed us with.  We talk about that God comforts us when we are scared, that God made our bodies to heal themselves from scrapes and bruises, that God loves to hear us pray and sing to Him. We talk about that God made us special and loves us just the way we are.  We talk about loving others because God has loved us so much. We talk about that sometimes up in Heaven God is laughing at the the funny things we say and do. We talk about how God forgives us when we mess up. As I try myself to embrace the gracious and gentle nature of God more-or rather let Him embrace me more- I am trying to give my kids more and more tastes of God’s grace and love for them by structured teaching and also my example in front of them.

 

I do think it is so very very important to stay far from legalism. I don’t want my children to honor God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. (Matthew 15:8.) I don’t want them to view my teaching, and certainly not God’s teaching, as a nagging list of dos and don’ts. I want to leave room for grace, but at the same time not compromise the standards. It is a tricky tight rope for me to walk. And sometimes I wonder if, for fear of my kids misinterpreting God, for fear of them rejecting God, I take it upon myself to censor Him. When I write it I can see the blasphemy, and the futility,…oh and also how this would definitely screw up their perception of God much more.

 

I need to take the pressure of myself  to save their souls and win them to Christ. The pressure never meant to be mine anyway. When we are driving and Hayleigh asks a question about Heaven and Hell and I am trying to shout the answer over a screaming baby, I don’t need to be discouraged when she loses focus because we passed by a pink garbage can on the curb. My words won’t win them to Christ-Christ will. He may use me, and that would be my greatest honor. But ultimately it is God who wins people to Himself. Why then would I not paint a complete picture of who God is, who we are, what reality is? Why would I hinder them from knowing the truth, knowing God as He really is? Because I think I know better? Because I am scared? Because I obviously don’t trust enough?

 

What I really need to do is boldly present who God really is (in a way they can comprehend) without diluting or molding the truth.  I need to not leave pieces of God out because I think they won’t accept a God who expects obedience. They have a mommy who expects obedience and they need to know why: because God teaches it. It is as if I would rather be “the bad guy” then put it on God. So in essence I would be deceiving my kids and also confusing and frustrating them, by not giving them the basis for the standards we hold in our home. I need to share with them God in His entirety-his grace, his justice, his hatred of sin, his standards of right and wrong, his patience, his provision, his sovereignty, his wisdom, his goodness, his bigness. When people really know how big God is and how puny and yucky we are, God’s love really is miraculous and inviting. (Isn’t it true anyway that the Gospel is simple enough for a child to understand with “a childlike faith” and it’s adults who make it all convoluted and more to it than there really is anyway?)

 

Ultimately it is not about me, what I say, what I reveal behind door number three. It is about God. I can’t sugar coat Him. I can’t edit Him for my kids. It is not my job. It never was. My job is to give them the truth whether they accept it or not, to model the love and the truth, to pray for them, and let the chips fall where they will. It might sound harsh but my kids need to take God as He is or leave Him. They need to accept the complete truth of the Gospel and who God is, accept reality or reject it. But accepting an incomplete version of God is not an option to leave open to them. This is a bit scary, but honestly it is so freeing. It doesn’t depend on me or a magic formula of words said at just the right time. It is in God’s hands, his capable, gentle, powerful hands. God has certainly won more people over in this world than I have. He is God after all, and I am trusting that He will help me get out of the way so He will win my kids’ hearts for Him.

 

 

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:14-16

Royce’s birth story 4 1/2 months later

 
IMG_6830 copy

I really should have written her birth story while it was still fresh, while I still felt swollen and sore from the labor, while I could still hear the sounds of the hospital and remembered every detail. I should have written it all down when I could still close my eyes and as I drifted I felt as if I was back in the room, while I could still smell the hospital and the bouquets of magenta flowers and the new baby smell. I could cry for the new baby scent. I mourned it even before it was gone. Since it seems to be a mystery to me when babies actually lose that scent I would bury my head in her almost hourly checking to see if she still smelled new. I still am not sure when she stopped smelling that way exactly. It got more faint as days and weeks went on and one day when I couldn’t really decipher it anymore I just crumbled down and cried. 


IMG_6766 copy2
IMG_6758

Her birth story isn’t out of the ordinary, per say. It isn’t dramatic and doesn’t pull at your heart strings, unless you know her, unless you loved her before you even knew her. For me, every birth story is important. To a mother there is only one first time you meet your child-the child you came to know from their kicks and the steady music of their heartbeat on the monitor, the child who you will comfort and feed and read to and share from the depths of your soul what is important in life, the child you will love more fiercely with each passing day-through their victories and failures which also become your own. Every time a baby is born a person is born and so are infinite possibilities and infinite beauty. Even if no one outside the delivery room knows it, when a baby is born the world changes just a little bit. I have always known this. I came to know it more after the births of Hayleigh and Braxton. I desperately wanted someone who shared that belief to deliver Royce so I left my former obgyn and entrusted myself and Roycie Girl to the care of a midwifery. It was one of the best choices I have made. Not only did they make my pregnancy better but they helped make Royce’s birth story even more beautiful.


IMG_6819 copy

Royce was the first of my kids to (officially) be “late”. I had had an ultrasound four days before she was born and I almost reluctantly clung to the picture they had given me. I would much rather have been clinging to her. Sunday morning I woke up with a painful contraction. This was not unusual for me as I had been having contractions, even painful and patterned ones for literally months. In fact I was 2 cm dilated for almost ten weeks before giving birth at 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant. We had already made the decision not to go to church that day because I was so miserably uncomfortable with how low she was sitting, was hobbling along on a broken foot (nothing like waddling and limping at the same time) and really was actually pretty sick of the pity glances and barrage of questions I couldn’t or didn’t want to answer. Plus we had an induction scheduled for the next day so we were planning on spending a family day lounging and enjoying each other’s company. I had also made it clear in a (kind of) joking way that I was going to plop myself on the couch and not move until the baby came out.

The contractions continued about every 15-20 minutes for a few hours. Then they got to be about ten minutes apart. Peter was watching football, but as I had been every evening for the past couple weeks, I sat all afternoon watching the clock waiting for the next contraction wondering if maybe this time they weren’t going to just fade away. They were the painful, ripping contractions. There was no doubting when one was ramping up and my whole body right down to my fingers and toes would tighten with each one. Around 4 o-clock in the afternoon they got to be 7 minutes apart. They were the type of contraction that I needed to just double over and swear-in my head of coarse. The kids were around. (Funny thought-we didn’t start calling Hayleigh and Braxton “the kids” until Royce was born. In comparison to her I guess Braxton suddenly seemed to have graduated from toddlerhood to kid-dom. Or maybe we are too lazy to say three names now so it’s just “the kids and the baby”.) I was thinking that this might be it. I prayed that I wouldn’t need to be induced, especially because it decreased my chances of a successful VBAC. At 7 o-clock the contractions came to a screeching halt.  I remember just crying. Peter tried to console me. I think frankly he was a little bewildered as to why I would be so disappointed because the induction was scheduled for the next day, ya know the whole “end is in sight” thing. It just felt like a tremendous, exhausting let down. It also felt like a waste because I didn’t get to spend my “last day” really enjoying the kids because of my contractions. If I had to spend the entire day in pain at least I wanted it to be labor.

We put Hayleigh and Braxton to bed reminding them that Nana would be taking care of them the next day while we went to the hospital for the induction. Hayleigh especially was giddy with excitement knowing she would soon meet her sister. I kissed and hugged each of them knowing that soon their little lives would change. Braxton wouldn’t be the baby anymore-how could he be a big brother? And Hayleigh just seemed so much older, like a little mama-child, that night as I tucked her in. Peter took our dog Paisley over to his brother’s apartment since he was going to be watching Paisley while we were at the hospital. While Peter was gone the contractions came back-strong. They were still 7 minutes apart but I couldn’t talk through them. I decided to call my midwife and see what she thought I should do. I was curious as to why they were so far apart, and wanted her opinion as to whether or not she thought this was another false alarm. While I was on the phone with her I had 3 piggy-back contractions in ten minutes. I told her I would wait an hour and call her back before going to the hospital because I was emphatic that I did not want to get there only to be sent home. I called Peter and told him between patterned breathing that maybe he should come home from his brother’s. By the time he got home about ten minutes later the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute. I could barely walk. We called my midwife and my mom who hurried over. I went a woke Hayleigh to tell her we were actually going to the hospital that night. I told her that tomorrow she would meet her sister. I felt like I was giving her the best news of her life: the long awaited words. She smiled so big at me with sleepy eyes, but I knew she would be too excited to go back to sleep. We left her with my mom and Peter and I headed to the hospital.

I sent a couple close friends partial gibberish texts communicating the contractions were back and we were headed to the hospital. We got there at 9pm. We entered through the emergency room. I sat there with the bags while Peter parked the car. I am a pretty reserved person when it comes to public displays of pain, but it’s pretty hard to hide your pain when you’re in labor. So I sat through a few contractions amongst people not in labor at all at the emergency waiting room, trying to mask my obvious discomfort. The hospital we delivered at is relatively small so no one in the emergency room was dying or even close. They actually all looked pretty healthy to me, and apparently they had nothing better to do than stare down a woman in labor. We got up to triage and a few minutes later my midwife arrived.  She joked with me that I had told her I would call her in an hour and it was really about 15 minutes. We laughed as she told the nurse I had demanded that once I was at the hospital I did not want to be sent home. She checked me and I was 5cm. This was at 9:15. I was admitted right away and in delivery room by 9:30.

When we got in the delivery room it looked like any other, yet each time, I have been struck when I see the little basinet and swaddling blanket waiting there for my baby. I looked with love at the first bed made for my baby.  The baby that is currently inside of me is going to come out. I am going to meet her. There is going to be another person in this room in a matter of hours and minutes. That bed is empty but soon there will be the sound of screaming, healthy lungs coming from that bed. They are going to put that hat on my baby, wrap her in that blanket and she will be mine. In my arms. And she will be so real. Soon it will be like I have known her forever.

My midwife advised me to put in a request for an epidural since she thought, as she told me numerous times, “this is going to go fast”. By 10 pm I was 7cm. At 10:30 they began the epidural. I remembered this process being simple with Hayleigh and the spinal being relatively easy with Braxton's c-section. It was not simple this time though. I was progressing so quickly that my whole body was trembling uncontrollably. I just couldn’t will myself to sit still. My midwife came over and put her hands on my shoulders, which I am sure were up to my ears. She told me to bury my head in her-and I did, right in her bosom. It is a little awkward thinking back, I mean I was face first in there, but hey, it calmed me down and after an hour of the two different doctors trying, I got my epidural. I asked for only a half one because I remembered with Hayleigh hating how heavy and useless my legs were. I was then able to relax a bit except for the uncontrollable skin crawling and burning. They gave me hot packs to hold and I clenched with in my fists through each contraction. Then they gave me meds for burning and finally I was able to dose off in between contractions-which were now about 3 minutes apart. An hour or so, at 12:45 I felt an strong urge to push. I shot up in bed and told Peter to go get my nurse because I couldn’t hold the baby in anymore. My sweet nurse, who was a mother of five young kids herself, came in, checked my papers and said she could tell I was already bearing down without trying to on each contraction. She paged my midwife and at 1:00 I started pushing. This time I felt everything much stronger than I did with Hayleigh-it was probably the half-epidural, or maybe the fact that Royce was incredibly low. At one point, after about 3-5 pushes I felt the strangest sensation. At first I felt something shift, a pop, then excruciating pain. I wasn’t sure what had happened. Had her head popped out? The look on my midwife’s and nurse’s face, and Peter’s horrified “What was that?!” told me the answer was no. My midwife suggested that she thought I broke my tailbone. I started crying wondering if I would have to have an emergency c-section after all of this. But really there was no turning back. I continued to push. at 1:18am on December 3rd  my sweet Royce Adelyn was born. She was 8lbs 3.5 oz and 21inchs of perfection.

IMG_6592 IMG_6609 IMG_6613 (2)

IMG_6620

They placed her on my chest right away. I felt the rush of motherhood. Hayleigh had been taken away because of meconium and my own bad tearing so I didn’t hold her until she was almost an hour old. Braxton was a c-section so I didn’t get to really hold him until I was in the recovery room. But this was so sweet, so unexpected, so hoped for. I looked at her through the tears. I am not sure if I said it or just thought it over and over, “It’s you. It’s been you all along.”  I could tell I was beaming. I kept wondering when they were going to take her over to check her. I am not sure how long I got to hold her, but I didn’t want it to end. 9 months of a miserable pregnancy was completely worth it in that second, just as I knew it would be, just as I told myself every day of the journey. There is nothing like meeting your child, even if you have already met their siblings before them. Each time you are meeting a new person who is going to become an integral part of your world. Each time has a beauty and magic all its own. Each time it is full of so much importance. Each time I knew my life was changing and I felt my heart expand to welcome in one more.
 
IMG_6767 copy2

IMG_6752 copy2 - Copy

I have seen many pictures of friends, family members and people I barely know meeting their babies. I have often thought to myself how different their facial expressions are in that moment. Some people are subdued as if they are in awe of the moment and its significance. Maybe they are really studying the face of their baby as the meet someone for the first time that in a way they feel they have known all along. This is how I felt when I met Hayleigh. I tried to prepare myself for how I would feel, how I would look in those pictures. I swore I would be gushing with joy and smiles. Yet, there is no preparing yourself for the magnitude of that moment when you first meet your first baby and it all begins. I think I was just taking it all in, not knowing what to expect or what to do, or even entirely who I was since I had instantly inherited a new identity. I was full of so much joy and wonder but still it felt like such an out of body experience. My mind was bouncing off the walls inside my head. I was numb and so I appeared subdued. When I met Braxton and Royce I knew what to expect-to a certain degree. I went into the experience with even more anticipation because I knew that the baby I would be delivering was so much more. I knew they would change my life-but I knew more than just those facts. I knew the way it would feel, not just in the moment, but in the months and years to come as my love expanded and deepened. I knew the joy and attachment and life-altering beauty that was coming because I had already lived it. I knew I was not just meeting an infant, but I was meeting my child who I would be intertwined with for eternity-no matter what the future held. I was meeting a person complete with a personality and talents and passions and quirks yet to discover. I was meeting someone with a future ordained by God and I felt the weight and the exuberance of being a part of it.

IMG_6776 copy IMG_6777 copy2

When I held Royce to my chest and kissed her over and over I knew, although I didn’t know the ins and outs of her yet, the journey was going to be magical. I knew it was going to be ours-our love story. Knowing all that made me love her even more than I had as she grew and squirmed and hiccupped inside of me. I wanted to whisper to her, and maybe I did, that I already knew I would love her forever whatever she was, whatever she became-that I was on her team. 

IMG_6861 IMG_6867 copy

I watched as Peter fell in love all over again. It’s funny how it happens for a dad. When he met Hayleigh there was instant love, but it was also clouded with a bit of fear and uncertainty that comes with first time parenthood. With Braxton love was coupled with the pride of having a son. With Roycie he just melted as they placed her in his arms. And so did I. I melted as I watched him smile and talk to her as if there was no one else in the room. I overheard him say to her “I would love to pay for your wedding.”

IMG_6622
 
                           IMG_6772 copy IMG_6774 copy
IMG_6823

I am always blown away by the thought that just as that precious bundle looks as you hold them in your arms, they looked moments before inside your belly. The same expressions they make while they sleep, the same long stretches or jerky little arm motions she made inside of me. Now we get to see those little fists, and kiss those delicate lips, and watch them perse to a smile while she sleeps.

IMG_6827
 
IMG_6837

After delivering Royce I felt such a rush that I didn’t experience with the other two. Hayleigh was a long and exhausting labor. The c-section with Braxton left me sick and immobile. But with Royce I was up moving around. I honestly felt so much better than I had just hours before when I was pregnant. I was euphoric. When the kids came to meet her I knew it would be one of the best moments of my life. They were the first ones to meet her. I was emphatic that this be how it was. My mom and sister brought them. I will never forget the way Hayleigh entered the room. She burst in ahead of the others. My usually tentative, self-conscious girl could hold herself back no more. She had waited long enough. It was time to meet her sister. Peter was holding Royce as they walked in and Hayleigh took no time to survey the room, to find me. She just bee-lined for Royce. She couldn’t help but put her hands on her little body and saw in awe over and over “She is so cutie. She is so beautiful! My sister is here! Oh I love her!” When she held her she couldn’t hold in the giggles of pure joy. She just oozed love, unconditional love with no thought for herself. She really didn’t even know Royce, except to know she was her sister, but that was enough. She generously smothered Royce with all the love she could muster, (sometimes the smothering was literal.)

IMG_6646 copy
 IMG_6651 copy2
IMG_6652 copy
IMG_6655 copy
 IMG_6657 copy

Despite being only 21 months old, Braxton seemed to know exactly what was going on. He took it all in stride. He held her briefly and kissed her. He was slightly more concerned with all the contraptions in the room, but he kept an eye on her while he got into trouble. Whenever she cried or sighed he would perk up to see what was the matter. It was as if he had known her all along too. Of coarse she is here. Of coarse I am her big brother. And he fit right into the role of protector.

IMG_6643 copy
IMG_6680 copy

The sheer excitement and unconditional love they, especially Hayleigh, had for her still brings me to tears. I can’t even put into words exactly what went on in that room although I have tried, but it was nothing short of one of God’s most beautiful gifts to me. The importance and meaning of the first time siblings meet is never lost on me. For the rest of their lives they will find it hard to remember a time without eachother. They will shape who eachother become. It is something never to be duplicated as two (or three) pieces of you connect with one another for the first time. Although it can’t be duplicated that place is somewhere  that I often close my eyes and revisit.

IMG_6720 copy - Copy


And now she is 4.5 months old! She brightens our days with her silly little faces, smirks and smiles, and babble. I can’t imagine my life without her. Some mornings because of Peter’s work schedule he gets up with the kids and I can stay in bed for a bit to feed Royce and get some one on one cuddle time. This is such a bright spot for me since quiet moments with her are limited. It never gets old to have your sweet babe light up to see you and “talk” to you with such excitement their whole body shakes.

Before they are born I always wonder what each baby’s nickname will be, but one always seems to emerge as we get to know them. We have often referred to her as our “little lady” but the past few weeks she has had a new nickname stick-thanks to her big sissy. Hayleigh calls her “my nittle”. I think using the adjective as a noun is pretty precious along with the way she says it to Royce over and over. Little is one of the few words that Hayleigh doesn’t pronounce correctly (along with hambooger, hop dogs, gegetables and bacuum cleaner). It’s funny because she has a vocabulary that sometimes shocks me. (Today she told me a character from Beauty and the Beast was conceited and spent too much time in luxury.) Anyway, “Nittle” has stuck and I kind of love it- even though Royce is quickly becoming not-so-nittle anymore.

005 copy2 020 copy

153 copy
143 copy

Each day you broaden our worlds and our capacity to love, sweet Roycie Girl. What would our home be without you? You are such a beautiful and precious gift from God. I can't wait to get to know you more and more as your personality develops. I can't wait to see the ways you will stretch and grow me as you in turn grow. I love you beyond words.

Privileged Parenting and a Grace Perspective


 031 copy
Yesterday I got to have a conversation with my Hayleigh that reminded me what a privilege it is to parent. We have been having a hard time with my typically very obedient, kind-hearted daughter lately. Nothing extreme, just a bit out of character and challenging. She was sitting up in her room after an incident and I went up to talk with her. After we talked about why what she did was wrong and gave her better alternatives for next time, I told her she needed a little more time up in her room and turned to leave. She very matter-of-factly said to me “ I think I need to start reading the Bible more.” I asked her why she would say that. She tearfully replied “Because I have been doing so many naughty things lately!” My heart broke for her. I knelt back down beside her bed and had the opportunity to candidly give her the comfort and good news of the Gospel, right there in her weakness and despair. I got to hear her pray, “God, I am so sorry that I________. I don’t know why I did that. Thank you for loving me and forgiving me and dying on the cross. Thank you for helping make Braxton better (the incident involved a sibling altercation). Thank you for helping me to make good choices so that I never, ever, ever do naughty things again.” (Well….we are still working on that. Aren’t we all?) God gave me a glimpse into her heart struggle. He also let me witness her experiencing the freedom of forgiveness that only God can give!  I felt as if she was praying Paul’s words directly out of scripture; Paul’s words which express our universal struggle.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15-25)
 
God reminded me of the perspective I need to have more often as I parent my kids. Just as I struggle with sin, often times recurring sin issues, so do they. It was humbling to see my four year old be so honest about how sorry she was about her sin and how perplexed and frustrated she was by the ongoing struggle. It is my job, but also my honor and privilege to model God’s grace to them on a daily basis. Sometimes I get so caught up in how little progress we seem to be making in certain issues. I am often tempted when they apologize to say something to the effect of “I forgive you. Now don’t let it happen again!” I realize that it may (and often times probably will) happen again. That is why they have earthly parents. That is why we have a Heavenly Father. That is why forgiveness and grace-grace for each day, each moment, is such good news. God tells us to forgive someone who sins against us not just once or even seven times, but seventy times seven times. (Matthew 18:22). Right now in my life this principle is no more applicable than in parenting my kids. I am not saying there are not consequences to their actions but there also needs to be grace.

Yesterday I needed that reminder that sin is a struggle, and not just for adults. As I told her that I struggle the same way with doing naughty things and making bad choices over and over, I saw her demeanor change. It was freeing for her to know she was not alone in her struggle and that there is an answer. I try to do my best to be humble in front of my kids and apologize when I lose my temper or have a bad attitude. I want them to know that by no means do we expect perfection. By no means do we expect more from them than we strive for ourselves. I want them to know why we all need a Savior, and that that need goes beyond saving from Hell-that we all need saving from ourselves and our sin nature on a daily basis.  I don’t want my kids’ behavior to improve without any change in their hearts.

Sometimes I feel as though I am running on a hamster wheel parenting my babies. It is moments like this that remind me why God called me and gave me the amazing opportunity to be part of such moments. My mission field is not glamorous or flashy. I guess mission fields rarely are. My mission field is not made of the video footage that pulls at your heart-strings. Many people might not even know I consider myself a missionary. But I do.  I have never had the opportunity to as boldly and completely present the Gospel to any peer the way I have my kids. I have never been as much entrenched in someone else’s sin struggle as I am with my kids. This is where God has me to serve and to seek and save the lost.  I know as a Mommy who is prayerfully trying to reach my babies’ hearts for Jesus that my  “struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12).  My battle is not against bad behavior. My battle is not against my kids. My battle is for my kids.  Today I am honored that God chose me to fight on behalf of my kids and train them to fight their own spiritual battles.


Hello, old friend.

Could it be?! Is Spring finally here? No more snow and below freezing temperatures? I think I willed Spring here because last week I gave up on wearing boots and busted out the pretty flats. I braved 40 degree temps at the zoo in a light jacket and crocheted flats just out of principle. (I later came to regret this decision.) Anyway, I think (fingers crossed) that Spring is finally here and might just be sticking around. We went to church yesterday with sweaters on-no bulky winter coats and fuzzy hats and mittens, and I also took the “Bundle me” off Royce’s car seat today. We took a walk without our shoulders hunched up to our ears and our heads down bearing ahead. We could actually feel all of our extremities upon returning home. This is big people.

 

Then today we went outside for some good old fashioned “playing outside”. Royce was completely shell shocked by the sun and wind. I had to remind the kids they didn’t need to bundle up and I had to remind them it was okay to walk off the sidewalk without boots on, but eventually they got the hang of it. It all came back.  It’s just like riding a bike…or for them not quite. They aren’t quite bike experts yet. For them, it’s more like, well I guess, blowing bubbles.

 

032 copy

 

059 copy  064 copy 065 copy

 

                027 copy2 079 copy

 

080 copy

061 copy

096 copy 

 

           038 copy 103 copy

 

015 copy 018 copy

 

085 copy

 

              105 copy 109 copy2

 

110 copy

 

Yay Spring! I am pretty convinced this will be our best Spring and Summer ever.

Follow @ Instagram

Back to Top