Wednesday, March 25, 2015

When The Sky Falls

My heart was at peace.  The sun was shining, the kids were all happy, the laundry was folded, dinner was prepped,  and although there are things that are not going well right now in our lives, I was keeping my focus on the One who has everything in control.  I was expressing this to my Daddy, letting him know that I was surrendering to the Lord and not allowing my thoughts and fears to overtake me and then... after I hung up the phone, the sky fell.

Doctors appointments did not provide answers for questions, they only yielded more appointments thus more bills.  The dentist appointment also led to more appointments and more bills.  The vehicle appointment led to future appointments and... you guessed it, more bills.
Image from TheGraphicsFairy

That peace I was feeling earlier was no where to be found.  Anxiety, fear, frustration all crept in.  The sun was shining outside but I was not seeing it.  I began to focus on all of the papers, quotes, and appointment dates staring at me.  I checked our budget and began to freak out.  Enter my darlin' husband.  He puts his hand on my shoulder, looks me in the eye and says "It's going to be okay, honey".   I should have thanked him for his encouraging, Godly words.  Instead I looked back at him and said "You go ahead and keep thinking that.  I am just waiting for the other shoe to drop."  Yup.  That was me.  Miss Positive... Miss. My Heart is at Peace.

Why is it that when we feel like we finally have a grasp on things, that is when life throws a curve ball at us?

After taking some time for self reflection I realized that this is a testing ground.  Will I continue to let it be well with my soul even with this new information that is staring at me in black and white, taunting me, threatening our financial security?  Will I live out what I believe deep in my heart, that the Lord will provide for us in ways that are beyond our understanding or will I continue to shake my head in disbelief at how so many things can go willy nilly in 24 hours?

It is all about focus.

I allowed my circumstances to distract me. 
 I took my eyes off of Him... and I fell.  
I fell from peace and contentment and entered chaos and insecurity.

I decided that I was not going to allow this new found information rob me of my peace.  I had sulked and whined long enough (several hours if you are wondering).  I directed my gaze back to the heavens... the sun was still shining, the children were laughing, and my God was still on the throne.  I prayed over the situation at hand, apologized to my husband, and got back to life.  I pushed my blue eyed, giggling toddler on the swing.  I had a tea party with a Princess.  I played chess with my six year old and I embraced my teenage son and told him how special he was to me. I chose to have joy in the moment. Mind you there are plenty of times where I do not choose joy and I wallow in my pity party. The results are vastly different and I wish I had the mindset to always choose "the path less traveled" because it truly does make all the difference.

Are there areas in your life where you are trying to change your mindset?

Praying for you today,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Surviving the LONG Days With Littles

Ring, ring, ring... I pick up the phone and talk to a friend whom I have not been able to connect with in over a month.  As soon as I wander to the kitchen fighting ensues.  You know... the kind with screeching at decibels that make dogs whine.  Yup.  As I nod and listen to my friend I calm little ones and wipe tears.

Then the baby poops.

Then the toddler poops.

Then my six year old son runs into the corner of the couch bruising and scraping his face.  I grab some ice, wrap it in a washcloth and tend to his boo boo.

My four year old princess tugs on my sleeve and motions me to come close.  I put my nose next to her nose (phone still attached to my ear) and she says softly with twinkling eyes, "Can you help me brush my teeth?"  Her dragon breath begs for an emphatic yes so we saunter off to the bathroom where she stands on the stool and giggles as she squeezes copious amounts of blue sparkly toothpaste onto her Cinderella toothbrush. I glance at the clock and think "It is almost noon and I am just brushing kiddos teeth now.  My, oh my, I am running behind today".  I proceed to help her when there is a crash followed by screaming in the kitchen.

My two year old had been running on the linoleum with stocking feet.  He was now face flat on the floor and when he lifted his head up, blood was gushing from his mouth.  I fetched another washcloth with ice cubes and plopped little man on the couch and as I was doing that there was yet another crash and screaming.  Princess  had flipped off of her stool and was now on the bathroom floor, wedged between the legs of the stool with a gash in her foot and a scrape on her belly.

It is truly amazing how many children can get hurt in the span of 8 minutes.

I hung up the phone as I proceeded to get the last washcloth in the house... of course all of the accidents happen on the day when I am washing towels and trying to squeeze in a phone conversation.  Reminder to self... we need more band-aids and it is okay to hang up the phone in the middle of chaos at home.

I would like to say that the day got progressively better... I guess in the accident department it did.  There were no more injuries.  But there were plenty of attitudes that needed tending to, arguments that needed monitoring, and temper tantrums that ensued because my two year old is going through a clingy phase.  Add in the everyday stuff of cleaning a home, teaching the children, wiping up cat puke, and constantly pulling things out of my one year old's mouth (no... it wasn't the cat puke), ...the day was LONG.
Fruit of the Spirit- word Art by mercyrains
Image by mercyrains under Creative Commons license
It is days like this, when I am worn out and weary, when I have to be on guard and remind myself of the fruits of the spirit.  Self control... patience... kindness... gentleness, these things often go out the window when I am bombarded with the chaos of everyday life in a busy household.  My blood pressure rises and I can feel the heat creeping up my neck, my whole body tenses and I feel like I am on fire.  The little ones testing their boundaries, the older ones frustrated and overwhelmed, everyone at their breaking point... and I need to guide them.  I need to be the one to speak the kind word rather than hissing out orders.  It is at times like this when I need to gather them up and love on them - freely giving hugs, snuggling on the couch and just calming everyone down rather than crumbling and spouting about how frustrated I am.

They don't need a Momma who is hollering, 
they need a Momma who is helping.

Some days I succeed... I stop and process before I open my mouth and the loving mother I so long to be shows her radiant face.  She wipes the tears, comforts the hurts in a soothing voice, corrects lovingly, and at the end of the day... it is well with her soul.  It is only by God's grace that the loving Momma exists at all... and I need to remind myself that it is not by my efforts that I am a Godly parent, it is only by His grace and love.

Other days I am not as blessed.  My mouth rushes ahead of my brain, the tears spill over and we all end up an emotional heap trying to grasp some semblance of sanity. Can you relate?  I just want you to know, whoever you are, that we all have days like this.  

There are days where we are going to do it wrong... 
and what makes the difference is what we do 
we have done it wrong.

Do you apologize to your children?  Do you let them see you raw, before the Lord, with a contrite heart?  Let them come before Him with you.  Usher your family alongside you, ask forgiveness and then try to laugh.  Try to regain the ground you lost and start anew.  We are not perfect, we will mess up, there is no magic formula to raise our children perfectly or to be Super mom, but we do have a Super God and you can count on Him to get you through these trying years.

In the trenches with you,

Friday, January 16, 2015

Be A Champion For Your Children

As mothers we make a huge impact on our children... for good or for bad.  Our children view themselves often times through our eyes.  Is your Mommy lens focusing on their flaws and faults or their strengths and gifts?
The World Through A Child’s Eye by Steve Corey, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Steve Corey 

There are enough people in this world who will tear our children down, who will taunt them and ridicule them, who will demean them and try to take away their self worth... we do not need to be added to that number.  Moms need to be their child's cheerleader, their champion.  When the whole world seems like it has turned their back on them, we need to be there with open arms willing to pick up their broken pieces and mend them back together... because if we don't, then who will.

I have seen the effects of Moms who have not stood beside their children.  Moms who wanted to forsake embarrassment and have turned their cheek and let their child be dragged through the mud for something they may not have even done.  I have known Moms who have held their tongues rather than defend their child because it was easier to say nothing at all rather than becoming tongue tied and looking like a fool.  I am daring you to play the fool because what may cause you embarrassment for a few minutes of your life will save you a life long relationship with your son/daughter.

Hypothetical situation:
Your son Jimmy is playing on the playground with some new friends he just made at the park.  You join the the other Mommies who are standing around talking, holding their Starbucks coffees while bouncing babies on their hips.  The other Moms welcome you into their circle and you join the discussion about rising grocery prices, how to pinch pennies, and small talk about where your kids go to school.
  You watch as Jimmy interacts with four other children around his age.  The other Moms are talking about affordable places to get a manicure while you notice a scuffle breaking out among the children.  Jimmy gets pushed down and the children's voices start to escalate.  The other Moms stop their talking and go to see what has happened.  One of the boys (Mike) accuses Jimmy of swearing at him.  You know your son and you know very well that he would not say such things.
   Jimmy is wiping dirt off of his pants and  tears are  threatening to spill over from his eyes.  Mike's Mom walks over to you and demands that Jimmy apologizes for saying such foul language to her dear boy.  Do you decide to flesh things out even though it will take time trying to get the truth out in the open (and it may not be well received) or would you make Jimmy say he was sorry and then promptly leave the park and talk to him in the car saying "Sometimes it is just easier to apologize and be done with it, even if you did not do anything."  It may be a hypothetical situation but I have seen variants of it happen on several occasions leaving damage in it's wake.

Make sure you are listening to your children.  Give them the benefit of the doubt, let them explain themselves and hear the whole story before judging, if you do so it will save you a lot of regret later.

Be a champion for your children.  Let them know that you are in their corner. Enjoy building that road of trust and love that will last a lifetime if it is tended with care.

"the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down." 
2 Corinthians 13:10

Some ideas on how to build up your children:
* Look during the day to see what they are doing right and take hold of that opportunity to celebrate those victories no matter how small. Example: "Wow, you did a great job making your bed.  It looks really nice."  "Thank you for playing so well with your sister.  You are a great big brother."

* Leave an encouraging note on their pillow or in their lunchbox.  "I'm so proud you are my son/daughter."

* Listen to them when they are talking and look them in the eyes.

* Take them on dates and let them know they are special.

* When things are not going right (messed up during the big game, did not do well on a test, was made fun of because of their style of clothes,...) remind them that you are there to support them, to listen, and to help.

Let your children know that you believe in them.

* What is a way your parents encouraged you as a child?* Leave a comment below.

With love,

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

20 Affordable or Free Date Night Ideas

You don't have to spend a lot of cash, or any at all, to have a memorable evening with your spouse. With small children in the home we are not always able to leave our lovely abode to get out with each other, which is why we savor those special away moments all the more when we get them. Here are some ideas that you may want to try out for your next date night.

1. A candle lit dinner for two at home.

You can set up a picnic for the kids in their bedroom while you and your darlin' have a romantic dinner for two at the table. Or... if you are able, send the kiddos off to spend a few hours with a friend/relative and take advantage of a quiet meal just the two of you. Set out a tablecloth, nice china, wine glasses with a sparkling beverage, candles, and flowers. Make it special. Soft music provides a nice background and you can dance after dinner if you'd like.

2. Go on a picnic.
Pack cloth napkins, pretty plates, wine glasses, candle, a blanket, and something delicious to eat. Then drive off to a special site and enjoy dinner together. It is fun and free!

3. Count the stars together.
Bundle up if it is cold and head out to explore the evening sky. We did this in the fall time and packed a blanket and a thermos of hot cocoa. The sky was brilliant with stars. We watched and marveled at God's creation while snuggling and reminiscing.

4. Go to the park and act like a kid again.

Whether swinging, sliding, playing hide and seek or playing tennis, sometimes it is just fun to be a kid. Enjoy the laughter that such simple pleasures bring.

5. Stay home and have a movie night.
Once the kids are tucked into bed it is nice to snuggle up and watch something other than CARS.  (I love Cars  as much as the next person, Pixar makes great movies, however sometimes it is nice to watch something that is not animated once in a while.)  Maybe pop in a black and white classic or snuggle up to a romantic comedy, with popcorn and your loved one by your side, you can't go wrong.

6. Give your sweetie  a massage.
Nothing relaxes me more than a nice foot massage and it is even better when it is a surprise. Grab some lotion/oil, light some candles, and give you darling a massage to say "Thank you for loving me".

7. Games!
Grab a board game for two players or a deck of cards and enjoy beating your honey over a bowl of ice cream.

8. Dream/reminisce together.
Make a list of questions to ask each other when you have a few moments to yourselves. This is nice to do at night when the kids are in bed. Some questions might be:
* If you could go anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

* Talk about your first date together.

* What is your dream job?

* Where do you picture yourself/us in five years/ten years?

* Tell him/her about the first time you saw them.

* Tell me about something you have always wanted to do but have yet to do it? What is preventing you from doing so?

* What charity/mission is most near/dear to your heart and why?

9.  Dance together.
Whether you sign up for swing classes, teach yourselves how to tango (yup, the local library often has "how to" videos for dancing), or just crank up the radio in your car and dance in a field - grab your darling by the hand and have fun!

10.  Mini golf, bowling, billiards, roller skating or some other fun, affordable "sport" that will get you laughing together.

11. Take a bath/shower together.

12. Make a list of your spouse's best qualities in alphabetical order and read them to him/her.

13. Take a walk/hike together.

14. Go to a museum/zoo/art gallery.

15. Go camping on the living room floor. :)

16. Take a tour of a local brewery or winery - they are usually free and sometimes there are samples along the way.

17. Go sledding/ice skating/build a snowman.

18. Go window shopping together.
We like to visit Home Depot and dream about the things we would like to do with our house... we don't spend money we just enjoy having time together and dreaming.

19. Rather than going out for a meal, share a dessert together. It is affordable and fun!

20. Find ways in the every day to show your spouse that they are loved and cherished.
Leave him a note in his shirt pocket or mail him a card at work unexpectedly. Pour her a bubble bath so she can have a few moments to herself. Make him his favorite dessert. Buy her flowers. Compliment and encourage one another. Invest your time into each other and your marriage will flourish.

I know many of the ideas above are centered around conversation.
Conversation will make/break a relationship. It is so important to communicate with the one you love. Here are a few books that we have used in our home.

The Language of Love by: Gary Smalley

10 Great Dates by: David and Claudia Arp

Creative Romance by: Doug Fields

For women only by: Shaunti Feldhahn

For men only by: Shaunti Feldhahn

The Five Love Languages by: Gary Chapman

Now all that is left to do is to grab your calendar and plan a special night with your help-mate Have a blessed time!

:)  Dawna

Friday, January 9, 2015

Everyday Chaos and The Joy Found Within

I was going through my "drafts" and I found this post that never made it to the blog.  It is from December 2013 and I thought it a worthy read for the beginning of a new year.  Happy 2015 and enjoy the journey!

The snow clings heavily to the branches of the trees outside my window like His redemption that clings to my soul.  

White.  Pure.  Simple.  Just like His gift.

I am so grateful for His grace and mercy that are new every morning.  I fail so often and I become weary but as I change my perspective, and focus on His love, I regain joy and peace.  It IS well with my soul even when chaos threatens to swirl and spin around me.

Be it known that this is not uncommon chaos, it is the chaos of every day life that threatens to overwhelm and consume me most days.
The butter that exploded in the microwave AFTER I cleaned it.

Contractions that keep me awake at night so I wake up groggy.

Helping my toddler potty train and thus burning the bagels that are under the broiler for breakfast... for the second morning in a row.

My beautiful new dish, shattered on the floor because of little hands that were not paying attention.

Another argument to referee and provide direction with.

Dishes to wash, laundry to fold, a floor to mop.

Little ones screaming because they don't get their own way.

A boo boo to mend.

A friend who calls who just needs a listening ear and someone to tell her she is loved and all will be well.

Making dinner while my wee ones tug at me wanting a story, wanting a snack, wanting to stop and have a tea party.

A dirty diaper to change.

A last minute glance at the calendar that tells me... tomorrow I have a group of ladies coming over for a Bible study and I am not prepared, I don't know what I am serving for a snack, I skipped vacuuming the library (where we all meet) because I had to wipe up a spill and became distracted, and I cannot remember when my last shower was.

Sometimes I throw my hands up in the air and with tears in my eyes I let the children know I need a few minutes and I lock myself in the bathroom.  I just need to still my racing heart.  To focus on what is true... to focus on the BLESSINGS in this crazy, messy, beautiful life.  Life can rush at me so quickly at times I forget to focus on the JOY.

Satan loves to distract us with the mundane and try to make us feel like what we are doing is not worthy.  But beloved readers, these seemingly monotonous tasks of feeding/caring for our children and our home are MORE than we realize.

“No act of kindness, no matter how 

small, is ever wasted.”

― Aesop-

Changing diapers, doing daily tasks around the house to help keep our homes tidy and orderly, making meals, kissing boo-boos, reading the same book over and over as your little one squeals of delight because they recognize the word "cat" now... these are all acts of kindness.

  Each time we place clean, folded laundry on our children's beds we are saying "I love you",

 each runny nose we wipe and dirty diaper we change we are telling our children "we care". 

 Each tea party we have, game we play, coloring page we color, story we listen to... we are telling our children " you MATTER to me".

It is easy for me to lose sight of the big picture and become inundated with these daily tasks of life.  I can become the worst version of myself, losing it over the little things, like the Christmas tree. In those moments my children see the real me... the  imperfect, sinful Mommy who NEEDS a Savior.  They see me make mistakes, they watch me fail, they see me ask forgiveness and repentance and they KNOW it is going to be okay, they KNOW they don't have to be perfect to be loved and cherished by their parents or by their God.  It is good and healthy for them to see I don't have it all together - that Jesus died for Mommy's sins and failures just as much as He died for theirs.

I exhale and let go and allow God to move.

I gaze out the kitchen window, across the meadow to those beautiful trees, glistening white.  Redemption is here.  I look back at my day and see His hand in the midst of those crazy moments - holding it all together and bringing the beauty.

He loves us... right where we are at.  What a beautiful Savior we serve.

 Praying that you have JOY today in the midst of whatever life brings you.

With love,

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Centerpiece Toilet Paper Roll Dolls

While putting a new roll of toilet paper onto the holder I tossed the toilet paper roll into the air and had a sudden urge to make a craft.  :)  I scrambled around the home school room looking for more cardboard tubes and came across one from a paper towel roll so I cut it up and ended up with four tubes in all.

I then did a google search for Toilet Paper Tube Turkey and came across this adorable idea from Preschool Crafts for Kids.

Our finished craft that adorns our window sill.

The kids enjoyed choosing a character to make... we decided to add a turkey because, well, it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without a Gobble, Gobble.

 Just click here to make your own adorable centerpiece for your Thanksgiving Day table.  Happy Crafting!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Disorganized Order

I walked up the spiral staircase to the children's playroom to find a mess.  I was frustrated.  How many times had I asked them to pick up their toys?  How many times had I meant to go check and see if my request had been carried out but I had been distracted by something/someone else?  As I scanned the room I sighed in irritation...

I tripped over Lego pieces, saw stacks of board games in the middle of the room, a half empty seltzer can was on a bookshelf... I hollered down to the kids "Hey guys!  Could you please come up to the playroom please."
As I waited for them to come up the stairs I glanced around a little more closely and saw that this mess, as I perceived it, actually had an order to it.  Each little pile had a story.

A guard trying to protect his fellow "good guy" from being further injured.

The base of the bad guys, guarded by a ferocious warrior.

A paper robot invented and built by my six year old for his four year old sister. He had asked to use tape, scissors and paper and he disappeared for a while and I forgot to ask about what he created.  in fact... I was a bit put out that I could not find the tape and scissors the following day when I needed them.

As I surveyed the creativity around me my eyes began to get teary and the anger and frustration melted away.  This was not a mess, this was imagination, fun, and creativity at it's best.  

A painted wooden truck filled with small animals that are being transported to a nearby base.

Gold pilfered from the Dragon Lord.
The children made their way upstairs and asked if everything was alright.  They scanned the room and apologized for the apple cores, the half drunk cans of seltzer water, and the crumpled paper in the corner.  "We were going to pick that up but we were distracted by our game".
"Yeah... I was looking at that, your game, that is.  It looks like fun.  Can you tell me about it?"  And they explained each base, each guy, and each creation with excitement, plentiful sound effects, and lots of pride.  

When you enter into an area that seems chaotic this week, try to look a little closer and see if it is perhaps a highly organized assortment of bases set up for the protection of all that is good.  :)