Monday, December 29, 2014

Mores and Lesses of the New Year

I have been absent from the blogosphere since the beginning of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season...and I just saw that my blog was featured on Mom's Morning Coffee's weekly link-up back in early December! What an honor and delight! Of course, I have neglected my blog for the rest of the month, haha! Isn't that always the way...but now I am back with (some) renewed vigor as I think about the new year and my hopes to come. There is something freeing about starting over and having an opportunity to refocus our minds and hearts. 

As I look out the window at the beautiful, pure, untouched-other-than-my-sweet-toddler's-footprints snow in our backyard, I am thinking that there is something to this gentle snowfall. It is fresh and beautiful and bursting with opportunities! Snowmen, snowball fights, snow angels, homemade slushies, not to mention the breathtaking scenes of untouched white-as-can-be blankets covering meadows and hillsides with picturesque loveliness. May our year start off the same. Whatever our circumstances as this new year begins, may we take time to create beautiful memories and bring joy-filled life to those around us. With this in mind, here is what I'm thinking for my new year...
 
For my FAMILY...
MORE laughing, LESS griping.
For my HUSBAND...
MORE praising, LESS critiquing.
For my KIDS...
MORE face-to-face time, LESS facebook time.
For MYSELF...
MORE contentment, LESS guilt.
For my COMMUNITY...
MORE taking opportunities to serve my neighbors, LESS excuses.
For my JESUS...
MORE living in His joy, LESS worrying whether I am enough for Him.

So there you have it, some of my hopes for 2015. May we create beauty and bring joy everywhere our feet take us this year. Happy New Year my friends!

This week I am linking up with some amazing blogs! Please check out these great bloggers: Mom's Morning Coffee, Mom's The WordWe Are That FamilySimple Moments Stick, & B Inspired Mama!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas...A Love Story














Advent is here...the season of waiting and hoping and delighting in what is to come. I have to be honest with you though, thus far this year the real meaning of Christmas has been far from my mind. I have been giddy with anticipation of Christmas trees and wrapping paper. I have bags full of adorable stocking stuffers and gifts for my wee ones. I have been covered with flour in my baking frenzy (and, consequently, have been eating far too many fall and winter goodies!) But...until today I have been almost flippant about the part the King of Kings plays in the whole season.

And then, somewhere between the list-making and the cookie baking, God showed up. I caught a glimpse of Him through the crowd of Christmas sales and holiday decor. He was so calm and laid-back, the antithesis of what much of this time of year can stir up in my heart...and I thought, "There it is. That's Christmas. He is Christmas." It was almost as if he was standing there waiting for me to notice him, and the twinkle in his eye when I finally saw him made my heart skip a beat.

It might sound crazy but today I was reminded that Christmas, as much as it is about a baby in a manger and spending time with family and finding our childlike joy...in the end it's really a love story. God's love so deep and intimate that He formulated and carried out an extravagant plan to live out the depth of his love for us. And he started it with that first Christmas morning.

So this Christmas, instead of getting caught up in how much we should (or shouldn't) do, may we stop and take a moment to notice Him. Perhaps the expectation he has for us this year isn't to get all the perfect gifts and do all the perfect things. And perhaps it isn't even to not get gifts and forget about doing the things. Maybe, instead, it's to let go of the pressure to get it "just right" in whatever way "just right" looks to us. And maybe, whatever we choose to do or not do this season, he's just asking us to start with him. Can we do that? If we don't, he will still stand there watching and waiting. But if we do, maybe this Christmas can be our story of love rekindled. May we fall in love with Him this season, whether for the first time or all over again. May we fall in love with Christmas.


This week I am linking up with Mom's The WordMom's Morning CoffeeWe Are That Family, and B Inspired Mama. Check them out by clicking on their name!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

These Beautiful, Holy, Crazy Days...Hold Onto Them

Mamas, let's step back from this blissful, crazy life for a minute and just take it all in. I need to take it all in ya'all. To remember what it's really about. Lately I have been finding myself getting swept up in my own self and missing the moments that I so desperately want to soak in!


I have to tell you this has been a difficult mothering season for me. Honestly, some days I have been wishing it away and missing the beauty that God has put right in front of me. And isn't it true that once we're in the muck of frustration and overtiredness and "if onlys" it is dang hard to pull ourselves out. I am sure I'm not the only mama who can throw a rager of a pity party. I might think I'm going to keep the party small but it is inevitably interrupted by party-crashers Anger, Selfishness, Ego-centrism, Jealousy, Self-Righteousness...the list could go on. By the end of the thing my heart is trashed and I am not exactly sure what happened! But one thing I do know? I don't feel better.

So what if we step back from the self-pity, step back from the busyness, step back from the overtired, worn-out, if-I've-said-it-once-I've-said-it-a-thousand-times diatribe we sometimes get stuck on. What if we take a big step back and see The Big Picture. The picture that those crazy puzzle pieces are forming...of beautiful, holy, curious, joy-filled little ones learning how to grow in the safety of our love.


The things I miss when I am focused on me are too many to count. The joyful lighting up of those precious faces when they delight in something (even if that something is running away from me, bare-bummed, as they attempt to avoid a diaper change). The smiles and giggles (especially those mischievous ones...where I know there must be a hot mess somewhere in the house because that face tells me so). The fresh baby-hair smell that I could breathe in all day long. The sweet sounds of my toddler chattering away about all she is seeing and experiencing (again and again and...wait for it...again). The baby toes. Ohh those baby toes...I can't even get enough! The messy kitchen table that shows I am making memories with my precious ones even if it means that my just-swept floor looks like it hasn't been touched in weeks...and is covered in sparkles that I know I will be finding for like the next five years. The heart-melting snuggles as I comfort my babies over some newly acquired bump or bruise or hurt feeling. The middle-of-the-night stroking of soft hair as I help my loveys back to sleep after a bad dream. The face my babe makes when he tastes a new food and tries to decide how he feels about it. The ridiculous way neither of my kiddos can end a meal without food from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet. The hilarious way my girl looks at you when you tell her no and she can not believe you would deign to say such a thing to her. The way my sweet boy scrunches up his face in agony when he sees me walk by and not pick him up...the nerve! These are the moments my friends. The moments. The ones that make that big picture I want hanging above my mantle when I am old and grey. And I don't want to miss them.

So enough with the annoyance at what is not. Let's focus on what is. Let's have thankful, attuned hearts that delight in this crazy mess of life. It will not last long. Whatever season you are in...whether you are in a season of littles or one where your babes have grown great big beautiful wings and taken to the skies...don't miss it. Step back. What do you see? What is beautiful and holy and good and right? What is fun and silly and crazy? What are the keepsake moments from this season that you see? Grab them tight and place them in your heart...let them stoke a fire and be reinvigorated to delight in these moments.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Little Pre-Halloween Fun!

Okay so I don't have much time but I felt like it had been far too long since I'd gotten a blog out. (Blame that on my new Netflix obsession with Royal Pains and Little Man's penchant for only napping in my arms...still.) I would love some mama advice on how to get your little ones to sleep solo! I have a stubborn one I tell ya...ven in a deep sleep he gets madder than a hornet when you put his sweet little self down so you might be able to get something done. The audacity of us mamas trying to do anything other than focus on our cherubs! ;)

ANYWAY, I have some exciting posts planned on marriage and mama moments but I might not get those from my head to the keyboard until sometime near 2020. So, until then, a couple of cute snapshots of my little loves at our church Halloween party this morning. My sweet Ladybug and my Little Lion...dressed as their nicknames. :)




What are your kiddos dressing up as this year? If you were their size now, what would you want to dress up as? (I feel like what I would pick as a "grown up" verses what I would pick if I was a cute and cuddly toddler might be different). Whatever you are doing, I hope you and your kiddos have a safe and super fun Halloween and make great family memories together! :)

This week I am linking up with Mom's Morning Coffee!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Be. Not. Afraid.

There are wars and rumors of wars. There are hurting people who can't find any way to deal with their pain except to hurt others. There are natural disasters. There are evil dictators. There is hate. There is chaos. There is jealousy, zealously misplaced religious fervor, anger, and leaders who will do anything to maintain or gain control. There are tests that come back positive. There is incurable disease. There are tragic accidents. There are feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and fear. The world does not always feel like a safe and happy place. And yet, in the darkness, a small voice whispers, "Be not afraid."


Recently I have been reminded of the freedom that comes from letting go of fear. I am a closet (and sometimes not-so-closet) worrier. I can worry about just about anything and turn the best of times into anxiety-laden experiences. Really healthy, I know. And in the midst of finding hundreds of things to fear, some valid and some not so much, I have been finding as of late that I don't want to be afraid anymore. I'm seeing all the ways fear has hijacked my life and really, I'm over it. Too often fear has sneakily reworked itself into something less concrete...a need for control, overbearing love, perfectionism...but these masks are just as stifling as flat-out fearfulness, and often I don't even see them for what they are. In fact, at times I convince myself that these fears are actually a thing to be proud of. How many times have I disguised fear for my child or my marriage or my finances as me being "diligent"? Diligence is important, but what is my motive? Am I acting out of wisdom or am I acting out of fear?

I love the verse in Matthew 10:28 when Jesus is getting ready to send his disciples out on their own. He knows they may encounter some pretty serious animosity and he doesn't try to sugarcoat what's going to happen. Instead, he says this: "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." I get that this verse can sound a little, well, daunting (what with the whole foreboding hell talk and all), but I don't think this verse is supposed to be taken as a threat. Rather, I believe Jesus is using it as an encouragement that no matter what happens in this crazy world there is one thing that cannot be taken away from his disciples, or from us. Even in the most terrifying of circumstances our hope doesn't lie in this unsteady world. Our hope lies in Jesus. Therefore, when we boil it all down, who do we have to fear but God?

When I imagine living an unrestrained life of fearlessness it puts new breath into my lungs. The things I would do! The adventures that would find me! The people I would meet! Can you imagine?! I think Yann Martel had it right when he wrote: "I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary...It goes for your weakest spot." (Life of Pi) How many times have I let fear defeat my life? I'm not sure what it all means, but I am determined to walk the path laid before me and, Lord-willing, become the brave, selfless, courageous person that God intends for me to be. I may never skydive or intentionally lie down in a pit of spiders (I mean, I want to be courageous, not crazy!) but I can, with God's help, become a person who fears Him alone.

Join me on this journey if you will. If anxiety or distress or any of fear's various forms hold you hostage, you are not alone. What is it you need to let go of so that you can grab a hold of what God has set before you?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Creating Autumn Memories (my bucket list)


Okay ya'all, as many of you well know, I love lists. So it shouldn't come as any surprise to you that when I saw someone create an Autumn Bucket List I absolutely HAD to follow suit! So here you go, in no particular order, all the fun things I want to accomplish this fall!
  • Go to the local Fall Festival Did this over the weekend with the fam, great way to welcome fall! :)
  • Take my little one Trick or Treating (for the first time!!!)
  • Take lots of fall walks (and collect lots of fall leaves)
  • Laugh a lot
  • Make pumpkin muffins to share
  • Get matching costume pictures of my littles (and, if I can swing it, hubs and I too...all decked out in our superhero wear)
  • Make homemade applesauce (Mmm! The smell is probably directly sent from heaven...so good!)
  • Paint pumpkins with my wee ones
  • Get together with friends
  • Burn lots of fall-scented candles (and maybe listen to Trace Bundy music while I'm at it...no music says fall to me like his guitar playing)
  • Make and send out my holiday/thankful cards
  • Rake up leaf piles and jump in them (take pictures)
  • Have a movie night with my little family and watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, complete with pajamas, treats, and snuggles!
  • Spend time with extended family
  • Cook up some delicious fall-inspired stews
  • Create a thankfulness tree
  • Visit a petting zoo (and if we have any, an apple picking orchard)
  • Celebrate Thanksgiving Day with family and good food...wear pajamas far too long the next day
So there you have it...some of the fabulous reasons I absolutely LOVE FALL!!! Look at all the great stuff that can be done!

What do you like best about fall?  

This week I am linking up with We Are That FamilyMessy Marriage, Simple Moments Stick and Mom's Morning Coffee!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Tired Mama's Search for Rest

I sit, eyes bleary and heart heavy as I nurse my sweet little boy. For a moment it is quiet, and my body and heart both need that moment desperately. It is only noon and it has already been a long day. I long for the sound of my husband's truck ready to rescue me, but we are not even close to that time. I ponder upon God's words written in Matthew, "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." Ah, rest. Even in the midst of days filled with crying and whining and an apparently infinite pile of needs that never quite seem to stop...I can have a heart that finds rest. The word is like honey on my tongue in those moments that the demands of motherhood feel most overwhelming.

God has given me high-maintenance babes who cry easily and often and need snuggles just about every second of their waking (and in my little guy's case, sleeping) hours.  I am quite sure this is all in answer to my own mother's prayers that I would have kids like me...payback! Through them I experience the beauty and burden of learning to love beyond myself and my own capabilities. There is no way by my own strength I could soothe an inconsolable baby for what seems like hours on end, while at the same time playing tea party with my toddler and giving her the love and attention she needs. And to do this with a joy-filled heart and words of gentleness and love while having far less sleep than this body prefers? Ha! No. Way.

But God, who purposely designed my beautiful, vibrant, high-intensity, deeply passionate children, knew that they would need more than I could give. And in my weakness He provides abundantly. It is an amazing thing, when I think about it, that every time I love on my babes it is not just my love they are receiving. They are getting a trickle of my love and an ocean of His. This brings peace to my troubled soul when I wonder how I can possibly have enough to meet all their needs. I don't. And that's okay. Because at the end of the day, God does. And He is more than capable.

Thank you God that when I have nothing left to give, I find you. On the darkest days and in the hardest moments may my heart find rest in you. 

You can find this, and other great posts linked up with Time Warp WifeMom's Morning Coffee, & We Are That Family this week!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mama Lessons: Turning Jealousy into Joyfilled Learning

Mama's, I am so amazed by all you do! I mean, I have to tell you that I am often in awe of all the things you juggle, seemingly effortlessly. (For you non-mamas out there, I am often in awe of you as well, but today I am focusing on the mamas). I'm not trying to dog on myself, but sometimes I wonder if I didn't get the mama gene. I mean, I love playing with my babies and could love on them all day long...but nothing else seems to get done! And if it does, it is difficult to keep a cheerful attitude about it because it probably means I had to stay up til near midnight just to end up with a semi-clean kitchen and swept floor!

 Some mamas seem to have it all down, don't they? I watch them (not even on facebook but in real flesh-and-blood life) and think, "How does she get that all done and still have a smile!? How does she get that all done and still get to bed ever? How does she do all of this and still have time to (fill in the blank here...read, blog, paint her nails, exercise, have time with her husband, journal,  breathe, etc.) I don't know. I like to think she has a secret maid hiding in her garage...although that would be a bit creepy and I'm not sure we can be friends if you hide people in your garage.

ANYWAY, I don't know how these mamas appear to do it all effortlessly. What I do know is that all of us mamas are gifted in a variety of ways. What if, instead of being envious of other mamas or trying to find their weaknesses so we can feel better about ourselves, we knocked it all off and focused on what we can learn from each other and how we can grow together?

I have a friend who is one of those mamas I am constantly amazed by. She's a great mom to her kids, a loving wife to her man, and her house is beautifully maintained. What's more, she seems to find delight in all of these things and I almost never hear her complain about something she has to do. If I chose to, I could be envious of how it appears to all come so effortlessly to her. I could compare my kids or my spouse or my house or my whatever. But what would that do other than alienate me from this friend I love spending time with? Instead, I have chosen to see her strengths (which happen to be my weaknesses) as areas I can grow in, and her as the perfect person to help me do that! I have learned a lot about organization and planning and schedules from her. It has helped me become more efficient in my areas of weakness and not dread them so much. On the flip side, I can encourage her in the areas she feels weak in. I can give my perspective or what has worked for me in some area or other of life or parenting and she is better for it. It's a win-win! Not to mention I love just being around her and delight in her company and how sad to give that up because of my insecurity and pride!

Mamas, whether you believe it or not, you have something to offer. Right now you might only see your spit-up-stained second-day-wearing-this-shirt-in-a-row-and-I-haven't-showered self, trying to keep your sanity while you prepare dinner with a screaming baby and sinkful of unwashed dishes. It might be hard to fathom what you have to offer. But you, mama, are working hard. You are in the trenches and it can be hard to see what eternal impact you are making on anybody right. You might even fear you are making a negative impact because you just lost your temper with your toddler...again. But you are a mama I would love to spend time with! I know you have something I could learn from you because we all have something to teach and something to give. So, if you're feeling insecure or frustrated that your life doesn't look like "her" life, take a breath. It's okay. You know, if you can step out of your umbrella of insecure jealousy, you might learn something...and you might make a lifelong friend. :)

This week I am linking up with Simple Moments Stick and West Coast Mama!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Broken Into Beautiful: Mothering When You Have Nothing Left to Give

You are stronger than you think. You are more kind than you know. You are brave and you are good...even in those moments when it feels like you have nothing left to give. Hang on. There is One who holds the burden of raising your babies even more close to His heart than you. He will equip you with the strength you need for each day.

It may not feel like enough to you. You may not feel like you are giving your kids enough...but the One who breathes life into our lungs also multiplies loaves and fishes and He will take the feeble offerings you provide and multiply them into an overflowing love poured into the hearts and minds of your little ones.

So, on those days and in those moments when you are not sure how you can fathom the strength to take another step, tame another tantrum, make another sandwich, change another diaper, or smile another smile, remember that you are not alone. And when you feel so defeated that you don't even want to turn to Jesus for help because you are ashamed and angry, it's okay. Because He will turn to you. He will replace the burden you put on yourself with truth. Instead of carrying a bag of all the ways you don't measure up he will give you a pack of all the ways you are perfectly designed by Him to be the mother of your children. He didn't choose somebody else, He chose you. And He will equip you to love those kids in exactly the way they need to be loved.

In Him, you are strong. In Him, you are kind. In Him you are brave. In Him you are good. And in Him you can mother those children with strength, kindness, bravery, and goodness even on the hard days. So open your hands and let Him take the scraps you have...and you will see a miracle. He turned water into wine and made man from dust, let's let Him take our brokenness and make it into something beautiful.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"I'm Pretty Sure I Forgot to Brush My Teeth This Morning" and Other Mom Confessions

I am pretty sure I forgot to brush my teeth this morning. They felt grimy a few times throughout the day but I didn't really think anything of it until I went to brush my teeth tonight and realized...oops. So apologies to anyone who had to be within a breath of me today, and a special apology to my husband who was apparently gifted halitosis kisses by me. Your welcome honey.

After I realized my faux pas, I began to wonder if I would have made this slip up pre-children. Don't get me wrong, I have had my share of dingbat moments throughout my life...some may even say I am a tad absent-minded at times. But something seems to happen when you have kids (tell me it's not just me?!) that permanently sidelines your brain. I think when you decide to have kids you should get a warning label:
 Sometimes I wonder how my non-parent friends now see me. I have to confess that before I became a mom I had all kinds of "opinions" on mothering and how it should and shouldn't be done. Am I the only one who changed my tune once taking care of little ones 24-7 became my reality? I eased up a bit on my stringent idealism and realized two things. One: being a mom can be a blast if I give myself some grace and learn to go with the flow and laugh at my mistakes and failed plans. Two: being a mom really does take up a ton of mental energy and physical stamina. It isn't as easy as it looks!

So there may be times I let my toddler watch too much television or don't feed her enough vegetables. I might overuse a pacifier with my baby boy because I just want him to go to sleep. Some nights I might go to bed with toys still strewn all over the family room and dishes still overflowing the kitchen sink. I have gotten snappy with my husband and huffy with my kids. There are days I count down the minutes until bedtime and I know I don't cherish the everyday moments as much as someday I'll wish I did. On occasion, I may even forget to do basic things like brush my teeth or remove the seven stickers I have plastered on my shirt and face before answering the door. I'm not a perfect mom, wife, or homemaker. But I love my family fiercely and, in the end, I think that matters more than the perfection I often seek. So, mamas, here's to learning to live in the grace and beauty of the journey as we seek to be the best mamas we can to our littles. And here's to letting Jesus make up the gap where we fall short.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hello Again (and) Simple Summer Thankfuls

When exactly is the best time to jump back on the blogging bandwagon after having a baby?  I sort of feel like three years from now might be a good option. Or maybe it would be better to wait a solid eighteen and get the kids out of the house so I can catch up on sleep and find some motivation then? Although, if we have any more kids I'll have to push that back a few years, and by then will blogging even still be a thing? It will probably be replaced with some super-techy way to communicate that I don't stand a chance at partaking in because it will be way too complicated for my middle-aged mind to understand. I can barely keep up with blogging technology at its simplest.

Anyway, all that to say, there's really no time like the present, right? Even if by "present" I mean that I have been up since four this morning, just put my crying toddler to bed, and am currently sitting in my own bed dreaming of the possibility of three hours of uninterrupted sleep (while continuously reinserting a pacifier into my little guy's mouth desperately hoping that he will decide sleep is as important to him as it is to me). Sooooo,  I can't really make any promises to you about this post being meaningful or impacting your life in some significant way. You might just want to skip it and go check your facebook feed again. I'm sure you could find something more exciting to read or watch there. But if you insist on continuing in your endeavor to read this in its entirety (whether because you have a need to complete what you start no matter the cost or because you have some sort of need to cause yourself pain) I will leave you with a few blessings from my last few months.

Simple Things I am Thankful For this Summer...
  1. The sweet smile my one-month-old little boy gives when he is sleeping peacefully in my arms.
  2. The belly laughs my toddler lets out when I tickle-attack her unexpectedly, and the way she sometimes just wants me to hold her and snuggle.
  3. The sense of humor my husband brings to those moments when I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, and just can't find the joy...he helps me find it.
  4. The thoughts of future moments to be celebrated and shared with my parents, sister, and in-laws as they have all decided to relocate to our area.
  5. The smell of freshly mowed lawns, the feel of a breeze tousling my hair, and those mornings that are cool enough to go for a walk or head to the park.
  6. The time I have been able to have doing "summer things" with my family. Swimming, swinging, eating ice cream, and playing together...this is the stuff summer is made of.
  7. The calm, sweet demeanor of my baby boy and the funny, feisty attitude of my sweet girl. Each of them is unique and I love their differences already.
  8. A husband who wants to spend time with me and the kids. I am blessed to have such a man.
  9. A house! I am so excited to be buying our first house...less than a week until we sign papers!
  10. God's grace...it has been busy and exhausting learning how to be a mama of two under two. I love it, but many days have been ended with God as an afterthought instead of the center. I love His gentleness and grace with me, and I love that He is showing me how He wants to be in the middle of the adventure with me and my family. Here's to learning what that looks like. :)
So there you go! Now I have a completed blog, a sleeping baby, and a warmed-up bed. It is time to say goodnight and sweet dreams. Until next time...whether it be a few days or a few weeks! Keep loving the people and keep cherishing the moments put before you!  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer 2014 Bucket List

Oh I have missed you! I have not even glanced at this blog in probably over a month and it has been way too long. I needed the break to focus on other things but every time I set my fingers to typing here on messyfaceshappyfamilies I just get giddy! And while I don't have a ton of time to share my meandering thoughts, I did want to hop on and share my summer bucket list! Some of these things are BIG...like having a baby and buying a house (oh my!) and some are smaller, but I figured if I didn't write them down than I might not do any of the smaller, fun summer activities I have been excited about. So without further ado...my summer bucket list!

1. Have a garage sale
2. Have a baby boy
3. Finish the buying process and move into our new home
4. Have a "bonfire" and make smores
5. Swim Class with my little one in the local pool
6. Visit Shoshone Falls and the lake nearby
7. 4th of July Firefighter picnic and fireworks
8. Get ice cream cones and play in the park in Boise
9. Make homemade bubbles
10. Try a new coffee shop
11.  Make homemade ice cream 
12. Go to a petting zoo or the humane society
13. Try a new restaurant 
14. Have a family barbeque get together with extended family
15. Visit a splash park
16. Go to the aquarium
17. Paint pots with Baby Girl
18. Make Confetti Pudding Pops and have a "tea" party
19. Go on a date with Hubs
20. Play in the kiddie pool
21. Have newborn pics taken of baby boy and his big sis
22. Arrange a "father-daughter date" for the hubs and Baby Girl
23. Feed the ducks
24. Make this ice cream cake
25. Sit outside at night and enjoy the warm summer air and peaceful quiet

What's on your list? I would love to hear!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Empty Out Your Purse

I am a bit of a collector. Before I had little ones I carried around a gargantuan of a purse (really, it was far more room than was necessary for any one person). I still found a way to fill it up with stuff, though. Anything you could think to need or never want to see again was probably hidden in its depths. Lipstick? Check! Notebook? Yessir! Chewed gum? Probably. *Eww!* There was so much stuff jam-packed in there that I could never find anything I needed! Fast-forward to current day and I have a much bigger purse (some people call it a diaper bag). I have had to pair down my extras to make room for the what-if-my-little-one-might-possibly-need-fill-in-the-blank extras that have replaced them. So no more chewed gum or lipstick...instead there are soggy cheerios and diaper cream. Still one jam-packed bag though! (I have NO IDEA how I'm going to fit the gear needed for baby #2...I might have to upgrade to a duffel bag!)

Anyway...the point of all this randomness is that I think I found my new mantra. It's pretty simple and I have to give a shout out to some friends for sharing it with me. Here goes: "Empty out your purse." Sounds simple enough, huh? Not too profound. And yet, as I was talking about this concept with friends the other day I was floored. Not because I hadn't thought about the benefit of cleaning out my purse-turned-diaper-bag, but because we were talking about the clutter we rack up in our minds and hearts and even our lives. How often do I keep adding things to my mind that I don't need in there? Or how often do I use my time in ways that don't offer me anything in return?

If I want to be a woman who finds peace and contentment in the life I live, than I need to be evaluating...what do I need to take out of my purse today? Sometimes it is an unrealistic expectation I have for myself (oftentimes in the realm of what I "should be" doing as a mom or wife) and sometimes it is an action that doesn't benefit me or those around me (like using my free time getting lost on facebook instead of doing something that makes me thrive, like reading a good book or getting crafty). So to my purse-filling sisters out there...what do you need to take out today? It is a freeing exercise...and the fun thing is that when I choose to "dump out" the things that don't need to be in there, I actually have a little room to breathe and find the things that I want. Now that is something worth celebrating!

Today I am linking up with Mom's The Word and Messy Marriage!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Story of a Man and His Bride...This is My Jesus

As Easter fast approaches I am thinking on how little time I've spent dwelling on the things of God this week. In the midst of checking off my 'to-dos' for each day, somehow I have neglected to sneak away and ponder the happenings of long ago in an ancient town far from here. The interesting thing is, I doubt much would have been different had I been living during the time of Jesus. As his time on earth drew to a close and prophesies of old began to fall into place, the Jewish people were busy with their regular routines. It was Passover week and there was much to prepare for, but I'm sure for many of these ancient men and women the customs and practices had become ritualistic and were done without much thought to their purpose or significance.

Yet, in the midst of the mundane, God was doing a great work. Perhaps it could even be called his piece de resistance...the most profound work the great Artist had yet to accomplish. For within this week there would be celebration, commitment, betrayal, sacrifice, death, mourning, and ultimately--victory. The Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) was sealing his bond with his Bride (us) and conquering the unconquerable...death. That we may have life. What could be a greater work than that?

In ancient Hebrew custom, when a man and woman were to marry, the two would meet with both of their fathers as witnesses. The man would make a duel promise to his bride and her father. First, that he would pay a "bride price" for her (and by doing this show that she was worth a sacrifice of time or money to him and also acknowledge the loss to her family). Second, he vowed that she would be provided for throughout her life and redeemed if she was ever taken captive. Once the man made his pledge to the woman, he presented her with a cup of wine. She had the choice to accept his proposal and drink of the cup to symbolize her "stepping in" to this covenant with her groom. If she made the choice to drink of the cup that was offered, the man and woman were considered engaged at this point. The man would vow to claim her soon (though often bride and groom would wait for several months and sometimes years before consummating their marriage and becoming husband and wife).

Why the long-winded back story? Well, on one Passover night long ago, a man named Jesus sat down to partake of the Passover meal with his disciples. Little did they know it would be his last meal with them. He washed their feet. He spoke into their lives. And he offered them a cup. "This cup," he said, "is the new covenant in my blood." He offered them a choice to step into a sacred relationship with himself. He didn't force it on them. He doesn't force it on us. But he asked then, and he asks now, "Will you be my bride? I will pay the ultimate bride price for you--my life. I will redeem you from those that would come to steal your joy. I will conquer death that you may have life. I will give my all to you and I will come back for you even when it looks like there is no hope. Will you be my bride, and will you drink of the cup of covenant with me?"

The next day, Jesus was hung on a tree by nails from his hands and feet. He was left to die, and die he did. As the clock struck three he cried, "It is finished!" and breathed his last. The bride price had been paid. And yet, this was not the end. For three days later he stripped off his burial clothes and stepped out of his tomb. There was no stench and no decay. Death had been swallowed up in victory. He conquered death and redeemed his bride, just as he vowed he would.

This, my friends, is the story of Easter. The story of a man and his bride. The story of my Jesus. May we remember this, and may we drink of his cup proudly.

I am linking up with Stories of Easter and Fellowship Fridays!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

30 Thoughts From 30 Years

I know a lot of people dread the big 3-0...but if I'm going to be honest, I have to say I'm actually a little giddy to be starting this next decade. I think of all the neat things I (Lord-willing) will be able to see and do and experience, and it makes me excited! To think that I get to see my babies grow into children and watch them begin to learn who they are and what they love is exhilarating to me. To think that I have the opportunity to grow in my marriage and invest in my mate makes me smile. So many of the woman I have admired throughout the years are 30 and up, and now I feel like I get to "join their leagues" and put into play some of the things I have been learning and storing up in my heart from them.

I have seen many lists of things people want to accomplish by thirty or whatnot, and I think there are lots of great ideas. But I look to the future and see all the possibilities that lay before me...in the way I choose to mother my children, in the friendships I develop, in the memories I make with my spouse, in the dreams I pursue and goals I accomplish...and I think, "Bring it on!"

So here are thirty thoughts from my thirty years. I'm sure if I have an opportunity to look back on this list thirty years from now there will be things I think differently on, but for now this is a conglomeration of things being learned by yours truly. Here's to the next decade!
My List: What 30 Years Has Taught Me
  1. Love passionately. You can never give too much love.
  2. Laugh deeply. It feels good and is contagious.
  3. Find joy in the unexpected. Splash in puddles, savor whipped cream, and bask in the sunshine.
  4. Do something silly once in a while, just because. Make funny faces at your kids (or spouse), make up silly songs, or choreograph a goofy dance move.
  5. Give physical affection abundantly. Eskimo kisses for your kids, snuggles for your spouse, and bear-hugs for strangers.
  6. Say "I love you" often. Remind your family of this truth every day.
  7. Smile. Even on bad hair days, it makes you look beautiful.
  8. Be thankful and live a life of gratitude. It changes your perspective in the most difficult of circumstances.
  9. Keep pursuing Jesus. He is worth every moment we invest in relationship with Him.
  10. It's okay to be wrong. Failure is part of the road to success. If we aren't failing on occasion, we probably aren't investing our all.
  11. When you're sorry, show it. Don't assume others know your heart, be an example of reconciliation and repentance.
  12. Find things to celebrate regularly. National pancake day anyone? First picnic of spring? Make life an experience to be enjoyed each day.
  13. Take time to get outside and enjoy the beauty around you. A little fresh air does wonders for a cooped-up soul.
  14. Prioritize family. Make sure they know where they are on your priority list and show them through the sacrifice of your time.
  15. Make the choice to serve others joyfully. Offer help when needed, think of others before yourself, and find joy in the giving of your time, money, and resources.
  16. Usually you're the only one judging yourself. That thought you think everybody is thinking about you? They're not..so stop thinking it about yourself.
  17. Don't take others' bad choices or mean comments personally. People lash out for a variety of reasons, and most of the time it's about them. Don't hold onto the hurt, let it go.
  18. Work hard and be diligent. A good night's sleep always feels better after a hard day's work.
  19. Be honest and trustworthy. Your integrity is sacred. Keep it intact.
  20. Take time to play and make memories. Sometimes this means make messes...they'll get cleaned up eventually. Just have fun and don't worry about it.
  21. Take lots of pictures (and be in some too). You might not remember this moment 30 years from now...capture it for you and your kids to enjoy.
  22. Think the best of others. Most people are doing the best they can with what they have. Give grace.
  23. Be kind to everyone...this includes yourself. Everybody deserves a little kindness.
  24. Live authentically. Just be real. Life's to short to be fake.
  25. Read good books. A good book can grow our brains, challenge our thoughts, and inspire our actions.
  26. Don't wait until tomorrow to do what you are excited about today. You might lose that passion or forget that idea when the time is "right". So just do it now!
  27. Use the "good china" (or whatever it is you think should be saved for a special occasion). Too often things expire or break before I've had a chance to use them for something "special" and they're wasted. So light the candles, make the cookies, and use the fancy teacup. Today.
  28. There's always more to learn. A nearly infinite amount of growth, experience, and knowledge lay before us if we but pursue it.
  29.  We can choose joy and hope no matter our circumstance. It is not always easy and it is not always fun, but it is possible to live with joy whether we are on the mountains or in the valleys.
  30. Life is what we make it. Each day is an opportunity to be the best us we can be and live with purpose. If we failed today, tomorrow is a new page to be written. What will we choose to write?

This week I am linking up with Susannah at Simple Moments StickMom's the Word!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Twelve Months of Loving: Becoming His Biggest Fan

Perseverance is not my strong suit. I'm great a coming up with goals and dreaming big. The follow through, though? Not so much. Grand intentions and lousy completions. So it's no surprise to myself that I am wavering in my goal of loving my spouse more richly and deeply this year. It's not that we're in crisis mode or a season of struggle (though all marriages go through those times). It's more that life's reality in our current season makes it easier to focus on work and kids than on each other.

That's where being intentional comes in. To keep our marriage healthy and strong I have to make a choice each day to intentionally put my spouse on my radar. It doesn't always come naturally, as much as I wish it did. I don't always get butterflies when I think of him and he doesn't always think to romance me the way he did when we were dating. But good-quality riches rarely come without sweat, blood, and plenty of personal investment, and lasting relationships are no different. 

So I continue in my pursuit of learning to love my husband well and kick off April with a focus on becoming his biggest fan. (If you missed January's goal of not holding onto things, February's goal of having fun together, or March's goal of communicating to connect (not to get my way) than feel free to check them out!) This month I am adding the goal of becoming my husband's cheerleader.


When I think of cheerleaders for sports teams, there are some qualities they possess that stand out to me as ones I might think to emulate in my relationship with my spouse.  

They are peppy and full of energy. I know that a positive attitude and energetic outlook are attractive to my husband. I obviously can't have boundless energy all the time (I don't know that any mother of toddlers can) but I can make an effort to give my best to my husband and reserve some energy and fun for him at the end of the day. Some days it may be a sacrifice I don't feel like making. But when I make the choice to save something of myself for my spouse, I am making the choice to show him he is important and worth my effort.  

They cheer for their team whether their team is winning or losing.
Let's face it. Some days our spouses are not in for the "win". Maybe they've brought home a bad attitude or made a lousy choice and they are no fun to be around.  I confess that my automatic response to my spouse in these moments is often one of sarcasm and pettiness. It is not easy to be his cheerleader when he's not "earning" my cheers. But I am humbled to realize that, if my goal is to be my husband's biggest fan, it can't just be in the good times. My faithfulness to our marriage and my choice to maintain a positive view of my spouse will have no greater impact than when he does not deserve it. It could be that in the most difficult moments it is my cheering for him and seeing the best in him that reminds him of the man he truly is. It could be that my loud and energetic "I believe in you!" from the sidelines brings him back from his defeat. Words are powerful and I have a choice to use mine to help my spouse become the winner that I know he is.  

They remember that its not about them...it's about the team. I don't know about you, but even on my best days there's a hint of selfishness in me. I want my needs met, I want to be happy, and I get mad when somebody (namely, my spouse) doesn't seem to have that same end goal in mind. But good cheerleaders don't focus on themselves. They focus on the team they are rooting for...regardless of their aching muscles or hoarse voices. In order to be my spouses biggest fan, I need to lay myself aside and focus on the "us". We must choose to put aside our own expectations when they are getting in the way of the bigger picture. Self-care is important and certain needs do need to be addressed with our spouse. But in the end, if he leaves his big size-fifteen shoes in the middle of the living room floor every evening or puts his dishes on the counter instead of in the dishwasher...it's probably not worth the frustration and animosity to nag him to death about it. The bigger picture? He's home after a long day. I can rejoice that he's sitting next to me with his bare feet propped up and his tummy contentedly full. I can simply enjoy his presence.

They actually cheer. It may sound obvious (since cheering seems to be the main job description of a cheerleader) but what am I doing to show my man that I am his #1 Fan? What words am I speaking to him and about him? How am I building him up? What ways am I make him feel respected? Each of our men are different and different things may light them up. Our job is to figure out what it is that makes our man feel like a million bucks. How do we say "You are my hero" with our words and actions to our husbands?

So here we go. An ambitious goal for one who is feeling a bit lackadaisical in her resolution but that's what blogging is for...to keep me accountable! May I (and you!) use the month of April to show our husbands how much they are loved, respected, and appreciated. So grab your pompoms, put on a cute skirt, and let's start hooting and hollering about how blessed we are to have these men as our very own. They need to hear it and we need to say it! Go get em tiger! :)

Monday, March 31, 2014

We Have But Today

How fleeting our moments, our years, and our lives. The time we have on this earth is but a drop in the bucket in light of eternity. Yet, what we do with that "drop" matters. How we spend our time and how we use our words have ripple affects that can change the course of the lives of those around us. What do we want to be known for? What do we want our children to remember about us?

I want to be remembered as a mama who laughed a lot and loved to play. I want my children to remember being wrapped in bear hugs and spoken over in love. I desire for my husband to remember me as one who reminded him daily of his worth and value, of how much he was loved, respected, and appreciated. I want him to remember what a hero he was to me. I want to be known as one who loved deeply and saw the best in others. I don't want to be remembered for a complaining heart or biting tongue. I want to be known for speaking life and joy into others, and living out my faith and relationship with Jesus authentically.

If this is my desire long-term...than I must make hundreds of choices each day to set my sails in the right direction. Each choice I make, the way I spend my time, the words I let come out of my mouth, and the thoughts I dwell on all affect the navigation of my heart. Each day brings me closer to or further from my goal of being the woman I want to be and leaving the legacy I want to leave.

There are days and even seasons I miss the mark and end up off course. By grace I have to realign my heart to match the destination I desire. I have to set my sails once again in that direction. I can do this through making a concerted effort to smile more and frown less. Let go of the grudge and extend grace. Speak kindness and love and hold back criticism and judgment. When I decide to make the choices that don't always come naturally, they begin to come naturally. We begin to become the person we desire to be remembered as, and the overflow is peace and joy flowing in and out of us.

We have but today to build bridges, instill values, leave legacies, and speak blessings. How are we choosing to use our today to bring life and chart the course we desire?

 This week I am linking up with Sharing His Beauty, Making Your Home Sing, Wedded Wednesdays,  and Wholehearted Wednesdays
(This post was inspired by a post I read on ITakeJoy.)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kicking Negative Feelings to the Curb...and Bringing Back Joy!

Spring break always throws off my blogging agenda...but I'm not complaining! It has been so nice to have the Hubs home for the week and enjoy some much needed family time together. Some of our highlights have been getting gigantic ice cream cones at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, playing at the park, getting to spend time with extended family, and having my sister move to Idaho...thirteen hours closer to me! What a great week!

I don't know about you all, but sometimes even in the midst of what is going well I can zone in on what is not going the way I wish it was. While on the outside my attitude may be cheerful and pleasant, too often I dwell on the "if-only's". I have found myself in that place this week...instead of focusing on all the ways I am blessed and the fun I am having spending time with my family, I have let nagging irritations or dashed expectations niggle away at my joy.

It can be hard to know how to combat those feelings when they pop up...they are unwelcome guests but it is difficult to kick them out once they find their way in my brain and heart! Three things that help, though, are timeless ways to refocus my heart and realign my thoughts to what is good. Number one: Spending time in God's Word. Whether it's reading through the wisdom of Proverbs ("A heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones." (Proverbs 14:30) or the truths of Philippians ("Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right...think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4:8) there is always something to remind myself to take off my pity party hat and focus on joy. Number two: Pray without ceasing. I used to think prayer had to be a down-on-your-knees-in-the-quiet-of-the-morning thing, but now I know that I can send up quick prayers for help and patience (and a better attitude) whether I am being tested by my toddler or frustrated with my spouse. It's not always a prayer to get my way, often a prayer to change my attitude or my approach to a situation is just what I need. Number three: Focus on thankfulness. Long has it been touted that focusing on thankfulness is one of the best ways to cultivate a grateful and joyful heart. What have I been blessed with today? A beautiful family? A safe place to live? Food for the day? What can I relish in the moment? A hot shower? A comfy pair of jeans? What do I take for granted? A spouse who loves his family and shows that love in his own unique way? The health and lung-capacity of my tantrum-throwing child? There is so much to be thankful for if we but open our eyes.

So there you have it, my plan of action to combat the unwelcome guest of discontentment. Thank you, God, for the joy you bring and the opportunities you provide for me to grow in peace and contentment. May joy and laughter be my heart's song this week, and may it be contagious!

This week I am linking up with Messy Marriage and The Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Take a Breath & Fix Your Eyes

Watching my precious girl sleep is one of my favorite mama moments. My frazzled nerves and frayed heart seem to unwind as I gaze upon her peaceful and relaxed body. She is confident in her safety and at rest in love. As a grown woman with responsibilities and expectations, it can be difficult for me to find myself in that same place of peaceful contentment. The list of things I should do, want to do, need to do...goes on and on. I pile guilt and expectation on myself in the areas I fall short and the peace of knowing I am safe and loved in the arms of God gets pushed into a corner.

How much I have to learn from my little one. Responsibility will always be there and life will always "happen". But when we shift our focus from our lack to our abundance we can approach each new hurdle with peace and joy instead of strife and worry. I think, perhaps, our society has it backwards. We work and strive and wear ourselves to the bone so that we can find the ever-elusive peace and happiness. What if we started with peace and spirit-filled joy, and went from there? How much more we could accomplish and how much more fulfilled we would be.

So today, may you take time to breath deeply and fill your lungs with life. May you take a moment to rearrange your priorities and stop running on the hamster wheel. May you fix your eyes not on what is seen (bills, chores, work, deadlines) but what is unseen (peace, joy, hope, life). For what is seen is only temporary...a drop in the bucket. But what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)


This week I am linking up with My Joy Filled LifeTime For MomMessy Marriage, and Simple Moments Stick.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Twelve Months of Loving: Communication

I have to be honest...I put off writing a marriage post because I was just not "feeling it" in my marriage last week. We all have weeks that are off, and last week was one of those for me. I felt a lack of connection with my man and instead of talking to him about it I just kind of let it grow and took each action or lack thereof on his part as "proof" that he didn't care to connect with me anyway. Oh how we save ourselves trouble and heartache when we choose to communicate!

When we finally did sit down and talk (after I had said some not-very-nice things that, to him, came out of nowhere) he had no idea I had felt a lack of connection. We were able to talk about ways we could be intentional about making each other a priority in the midst of the busy season of life we are in, and we were able to cheer each other on and fight for our marriage instead of fighting for ourselves.

Communicating will not always get us what we want. We won't always feel heard or understood when we try to express our needs or desires to our spouse. They won't always change the thing that we want them to change and there will be times we have to realize that we may never see eye-to-eye on a particular issue. When we let this get in the way of keeping open lines of communication with our spouse, however, we take away something vital in our marriage.

The end goal of communication shouldn't be to get our way. The purpose of communication is to connect and to navigate ourselves back onto the same team when we have found ourselves facing off in opposition. What's the end goal? Is the end goal to be right...or is it to be unified? Stubbornly and defiantly sticking with our way is not going to get us the end result we long for. I am finding that the more I make an effort to communicate with my fists unclenched, the deeper my relationship with my man grows. So here's to learning (and relearning) how to unclench our fists and re-tune our hearts to communicate not just to be heard, but to hear and to connect.



Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Scars on Our Hearts

I was talking with a friend the other day who is a brand new mama. She has a beautiful baby girl and she is absolutely in love...she didn't know her heart could be as full as it is for another human being. Yet, amidst all the love and fullness swirling around inside of her there is a place she notices that is not as full of life and joy as it once was. There is a place that feels weak and tired. There is a new sense of vulnerability that, some days, seems to actually ache within her.

They don't tell you about that ache in the baby books. Or maybe I just skipped that part. Maybe you
can't really grasp the reality of the ways being a mama messes with your heart until you become one. How it feels to have your heart literally seem to tear open and expand beyond what you thought possible as you hold your own vulnerable, precious, tiny baby in your arms and realize that you are the one who was chosen to care for this child. The greatness and beauty of the responsibility is awe-inspiring. Small, grasping fingers holding onto you for dear life--instinctively knowing that you are their safe place can cause a person to come absolutely undone.

I wonder, does that vulnerability ever go away? I have a sneaking suspicion that it does not. I think that once God brands us with the beautiful role of Mama, He also brands us with an ache for our children that never fades. I've talked to mamas of kids who are adults with babies of their own and mamas who's children have gone to be with the Lord and every mama I've ever met speaks tenderly of her little ones...they will always be her little ones to her.

I didn't like the ache at first. I didn't like feeling so vulnerable and exposed. And yet, the longer I am a mama (and it is a short time so far, no doubt I have much to learn) the more I see this dull ache in the background of my heart as a picture of God. He is the never-stopping, always-loving, never-gives-up-on-us Father, who has our names seared on the palm of His hand. He holds our precious tears in their very own jar and knows the exact number of hairs on our head. He hides us in the shadow of His wings and would ascend the highest heights or the lowest lows to come and rescue us from ourselves. The essence of True Love. Through our ache, we get but a small glimpse of the Greatest Love Ever Known...and yet, I doubt any human love can compare to that of a mother loving her child. It is an amazing picture of God.

So perhaps this vulnerability of being a mama is not something to try and outgrow. Perhaps instead, it is a badge to wear proudly. Our energy and vibrancy will return as our babes grow and we get more sleep. Our confidence in mothering will strengthen with each passing day as we learn the ins and outs of parenting our little ones. In many ways we will return to our "old selves" and we can look forward to laughing more and, perhaps, crying less. Yet, the beautiful scar on our hearts that appeared as it split open when we first held our little ones will remain as a picture of True Love. I think I will choose to wear it proudly.

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Weekly Goals

I am going to try my hand at setting weekly goals for myself. Inspired by MoneySavingMom and Inspired To Action, I am trying to get a bit more organized with my time and planning. Not that anybody in the blogosphere cares about my weekly checklist, but I figure accountability through blogging can't hurt!  So without further ado...my goals for the week!
My Weekly Goals 3/2-3/8:

For Me:
  1. Finish Deuteronomy & Joshua.
  2. Read Chapter 3 of "10 Gifts of Wisdom" by Sally Clarkson.
  3. Write 2 Blog Posts.
For My Little:
  1. Make finger paints, and do finger paint art together (take pictures).
  2. Play outside or go on walks at least 4 days.
  3. Read from "The Jesus Storybook Bible" each day, and say goodnight prayers with her together with daddy.
For My Man:
  1. Write him a love note.
  2. Speak words of encouragement and affirmation daily.
  3. Stop what I'm doing and give him a kiss and a hello when he gets home from work.
For My Home:
  1. Laundry...get those piles of clean laundry put AWAY!
  2. Deep clean family room (dust, vacuum, declutter).
  3. Mop kitchen, scrub cupboards, and install baby lock on cabinet under the kitchen sink.
Meals For The Week:
Chicken Tacos & Rice, Creamy Ham & Potato Chowder (dairy free) & Salad, Spaghetti & Salad, Chicken Kabobs & Persian Rice, Steak Salad



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Twelve Months of Loving: Have Fun Together!

Well, February is almost over and I have not blogged at all about my journey to love my husband better this year. The fun thing about making my husband my "word" for the year, is that I am constantly thinking about how I am keeping him a priority. This month, with our anniversary kicking us off in the right direction, the focus in our marriage has really been on having fun and enjoying each other.

Throwback pic: Trying on awkward hats. 
Sometimes, in the midst of work, chores, little ones, and just plain life, we can lose focus on enjoying each other's company and laughing together. One of my favorite things to do with my man is to laugh with him. And, coincidentally, one of his favorite things to do is to make me laugh. When I take the time to focus on him, engage in conversation with him, and not multitask every time I am with him, it renews my sense of awe at how lucky I am to be married to this man and it also rejuvenates me to just have fun.

Little ways we have had fun together this month:
  1. Went on a date...perused a bookstore and had dinner together at a fun restaurant neither of us had tried.
  2. Played card games together during a weekend nap time when the little one was down and we were both home.
  3. Played "The Question Game" (I had a jar of questions I wrote out and we took them out one by one and talked about how we might respond to each.)
  4. Instant messaged each other flirty messages on Facebook.
  5. Watched a Tim Hawkins stand-up comedy video we both enjoy. 
  6. Smiled at each other and laughed at each other's jokes. 
  7. Spent time talking about life, dreams, and rambling thoughts. (I am learning to take advantage of the times my husband wants to engage in conversation, and if at all possible I avoid multitasking when we do, so that I can really enjoy the connection.)
  8. Played together with our little one. It is easy to use the time our baby girl is playing with daddy to get things done, but sometimes it is more important for me to join in and spend "family time" together...laughing with him at her antics and enjoying the parenting experience together.
  9. Kept up goofy habits. My husband and I will do silly things like swipe each other with our toothbrushes when we are brushing our teeth or smack each other on the rear as we walk by. They aren't daily, but silly ways to flirt and acknowledge one another's presence bring a smile.
  10. Tease (in fun). Both my husband and I enjoy kind-hearted sarcasm, and we know how not to take it too far with each other. A little ribbing from him over the fact that my anniversary card to him was two-weeks late made me laugh and finding a Valentine's card in the garage that he never gave me from last year gave me ammunition to rib him right back.
Family day at the dunes!
So there you have it. My February focus has been on simply having fun together. When I make it a point to connect with my husband I almost always feel closer to him. It is so easy to focus on kids and work...but when we take the time to remember why we married our man and learn to laugh with him again, we can take a good marriage to great!
 



This week I am linking up with Messy Marriage and Marriage Mondays.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Seasons

It seems to be that a couple of times each year I have a strong pull towards thinking about seasons. Maybe it's the anticipation of spring and warmer weather, maybe it's smelling the changes in the air as winter slowly starts to fade and spring takes its first morning stretches. In any case, thinking about seasons inevitably gets me to thinking about the seasons of life. It is so like God to create a physical representation of what happens in the hearts and minds and even lives of his children. When in the midst of a dark and bitter winter we can know that, though we know not when, spring will burst forth in our future. When we are wilting in the dry and weary heat of summer we can know that autumn will arrive with its bountiful harvests if we but hang on.

In the midst of mothering a little one and wrestling with the ups and downs of pregnancy hormones I
find comfort in knowing that the season I am in won't last forever. I love watching my little girl learn new things and broaden her abilities and thought-processes each day--it is utterly amazing to me to watch her transform before my eyes from baby into toddler. I wouldn't trade these days for anything, and yet I also look forward to the days ahead...swinging side by side as high as we can go at the park, laughing as we share an ice cream sundae, getting mother-daughter pedicures together, and listening to her pour her heart out about her passions, dreams, desires, and fears. I look forward to the future seasons that, Lord-willing, await us.

 I find though, that in order to most appreciate the next season we have to fully immerse ourselves in the season we are presently in. For this California girl, it is easy to spend the cold and windy days of Idaho winters indoors wishing them away and pining for spring. I have to admit to my fair share of inward whining over the injustice of yet another wind-whipped day. And yet, when I get outside of myself and my own preconceived notions of how things "should" be, I find that I can appreciate the beauty of the wind swaying the trees, the frost adorning the branches, and the blankets of fluffy clouds overhead. I can even find ways to celebrate the season...through lighting candles on gloomy days, bundling up and letting my toddler experience the sensation of wind-blown cheeks, and having hot cocoa ready to come back in and enjoy after our fun in the cold is done.

There are days I still pine for spring, but if I find the things to celebrate in the midst of this season I notice the smiles come easier and a thankful heart bubbles up more quickly. So let us not give up hope on finding beauty where we are right now. It is all around, if we turn our eyes outward. And if the season you are in happens to be a long, harsh winter remember that spring is preparing to bloom underneath the layers of frost and snow. The sun will come out, the snow will melt, and the flowers will burst forth.