Everyday I fail, I am human, I am a sinner, I am not perfect… especially in my role as a mother and wife … every single day my sinfulness and human nature will cause me to fail…

It seems so futile that my study verse the last few weeks has been ‘I seek You with all my heart do not let me stray from your hand.’ Psalm 119:10.  I had this verse in front of my eyes day in and day out and yet I still failed to truly seek God daily. Not the way I could have or should have.

How is it so easy to know in my mind something, but not be able to apply my knowledge through to my thoughts, words and actions?

Because separate from God I am weak! 

When I am not truly seeking God with all my heart then I am not strong in the Lord.  In these moments I am debilitated and powerless.  The enemy knows when I am weak and he takes full advantage and he attacks, pulling me even farther from Christ and consumed in my sinfulness.

Here are some of my needed reminders for this week…

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will perish.”  Luke 13:5

“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your suns may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:32

“My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.” Psalm 119:28

“Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62:6

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ the new creation has come.  The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

 

 

 

I will not be defeated by my mistakes or shortcomings.

I will turn to God with a repentant heart and accept His forgiveness and grace.

I will not beat myself up and dwell on all the ways I have failed this day or this week. 

I am so thankful for God’s love and presence in my life. 

I will truly seek God with all my heart and find my strength for each moment of each day in Him!

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Parenting success for 2017!

Towards the end of 2016 my husband and I spent some time discussing and reviewing the amount of time our children were spending on screen time.

Overall we have maintained boundaries around their screen time that we firmly believe in.  With simples things like these…

-No electronics after 8pm.

-No phones or electronics in their bedrooms they must be used downstairs out in the open.

-No using phones or electronics on the morning on the way to school.

However even with our boundaries in place we were feeling that with all time they were spending with these devices they could be putting a little more into reading. (Ok so they could be putting A LOT more into reading 🤦🏼‍♀️)

Tyler Emily Joshua Richard

None of our older thee children, Joshua 14, Tyler 12 and Emily 12 are super avid readers.  They each have gone through phases when they read for pleasure here and there but overall it is not their favorite leisure activity to do.  They have the same habit their parents have to pick out lots of books and start many but finish few books.  So we explored some ways we could help get them reading more regularly some really great books.

We discussed all the different ways we could come up with and implement an enforced reading plan. This is the simple plan that we came up with for each one of our older three children for 2017.

An ENFORCED READING CHALLEGE each child will be;

-Assigned and required to read one book that was chosen by a parent each month.

-After completing their book they were required to answer some simple questions about the book in writing, I had some worksheets I made for them.

-Required to keep a log of the books they read and how many pages were in each book.

To try and make things fun and a little competitive we put a challenge on it.  We told them they could read above what we assigned with parent approved books and the child who read the most books would win a prize and the child who read the most pages would win a prize.  Of course our reading choices were carefully selected to make sure they were reading good books.  This was done on top of what assigned reading they had in school and reading they wanted to do on their own.

At first they grumbled and complained…but they did it.  We were mean parents but our children were reading some great books!

It seemed after a few months in they were even starting to enjoy some of the books.  Some of the books were faith based, some were nonfiction, some were fiction.  We even through in some of the books we had to read as a child like ‘Where the red fern grows.’  Some of the months they were challenged more than others.  Emily did note on several occasions she felt this reading at home was helping her at school with her reading comprehension.  Hopefully it helped the other two as well!

Of course this meant work on our part as parents, following through with it.  Taking the time to select books each month and keep up with them and make sure they were actually reading.  We did let the month of September go by as a free month as they got back into school routine that month.

We sat down one night last week at dinner and pulled out all their reading logs and the questions they answered on the books they read over 2017.  Talked about their favorite books and least favorite.  Added up totals to find the winners of the most read and the most pages read.  Talked about what a successful year of reading they had and how awesome they felt for accomplishing this challenge.  And then came the reward…my husband and I told them that since they did such a great job we would find a weekend before the end of winter and take just the three of them to Great Wolf Lodge for some play and fun!  This is a huge treat for them and they are super excited and looking forward to this.  Our 6 year old who was not part of 2017 reading sat in on our reading discussion and got to see what all the fuss was about.  He will be jumping into our new and improved 2018 ENFORCED READING CHALLENGE.  Now he is excited too!

And of course the OCD nature in me has neatly filed away all the reading logs and questions so next year we can pull them out and compare and see how they have grown in their reading and writing.

We are super pleased with the way this reading challenge progressed however we have learned along the way and have made some adjustments to our plan as we take on 2018.

—–>First: we are adding a book of the bible to be assigned each month as well as their assigned book.  January they are reading 1Timothy.  We the parents of course will be reading the books of the bible as well.  Last year I did read some of the books before giving them to the kids to make sure they would be appropriate and beneficial.

—->Second:  Richard is joining the reading challenge this year so since he is an early reader as a 1st grader he will have some help especially the first few months as he gets the hang of this and his comprehension questions are scaled down to his level.

—->Last: When the 1st of the month rolls around if their reading from the prior month is not done they will lose all electronics and phones until it is complete.  I think after once or twice this will help encourage them to be more aware of having their reading and questions done on time which was a challenge last year we saw.   Hopefully this year they can be completing each month without being reminded.

As in most parenting moments this has been a learning experience for us this past year as well.  As a result I myself have increased the number of books I read and have been reading a wider variety—->Mom win!!!

I know felt super accomplished that we followed through and stuck this out even through all the grumbling and complaining. Even when it was extra work to keep up with during busier seasons.

I do believe the kids and the parents in our home are pleased with the outcome of this 2017 ENFORCED READING CHALLENGE.

Sometimes the parenting successes feel few and far between but this was a big success for us and I am excited to see how the children and parents in our home grow with our 2018 reading!

PS——>We are open to books suggestions for 2018!

(almost) ready

I had a brief conversation with a stranger last week. A sweet and kind middle age woman who was beyond the years of bearing children. She was just amazed to learn we had six children at home and that we have one on the way. Her eyes lit up as she pondered the busyness we see everyday.  Then when she spoke of how exciting Christmas morning must be in our home she was so excited. And she repeatedly told me just how lucky my husband and I were to have a large family.

Then the light in her eyes died as she spoke of never being lucky enough to have any children of her own and I could see the pain and heart break in her eyes. My heart broke for her.  The deep hurt and longing and emptiness she felt deep inside could be seen in those few brief moments of our conversation. I wanted to be able to say something, to say anything to offer her comfort or healing. The words didn’t come, I sidestepped the conversation into a different direction.

But her pain has not left me or my heart.

How humbling and startling at the same time. In all the chaos of this Christmas season to see our family through the eyes of another. I do know our children and large family are an amazing blessing but the day to day takes over and you in a way become desensitized to truly appreciate these blessings.

On a typical day when I am tired or sick, the kids are not getting along, not listening, complaining and bickering, full blown two year old tantrums, preteen attitudes in full swing, messes to be cleaned, never-ending to do lists are growing its hard to look at all that in the moment and think ‘wow I am blessed!’.

So in this moment, this conversation I was given the gift of seeing our super size family through the eyes of someone who longed for a family that never came.  To be reminded that all the mess and chaos and busyness is a blessing even during the hard days and moments.

Not to be taken for granted but loved, valued and appreciated.

I am thankful but not as thankful as I should be.

‘Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.’ Colossians 4:2

I am joyful but not as joyful as I should be.

‘But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God, may they be happy and joyful.’ Psalm 68:3

I am imperfect, a work in progress.  I will continue making progress and I will continue to grow.

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ 1Thessalonians 5:18

During this last week of December I will reflect on this past year and pray for the upcoming year.  This sweet reminder will continue to sit with my heart as I prepare myself to enter 2018.  I will study scripture and lean to the Lord to mold me and guide me to be a more thankful and more joyful momma-bear and wife during this next year and season in our life.

Bring God glory in all circumstances!  Bring on 2018!  I am (almost) ready.

Rising to the challenge

We had a heck of an evening.  One of those disaster after disaster days when you question whether or not you have done anything right as a mother.   

After several minor sibling problems and other behavior issues brewing amongst several of our children.  Our daughter especially presented us with quite the challenge as her preteen attitiude took rude and disrespectful to an entirely new level.  There have been moments of this attitude here and there but this evening her attitude exploded and crossed many lines.

I will not go into all of the details but reached a point a line was crossed and enough was enough.  It was not quite 6 pm when this situation peaked.  As an immediate consequence her youth activities at church were taken away and she was sent to bed without dinner.  And to bed without being allowed to complete her homework for the evening.  If you know Emily you know that not being allowed to do her homework is devastating.  

All this being done with discussion and further consequences to be given tomorrow.  These are the moments when parenting is at its hardest and most challenging.  Respond don’t react.  Don’t overreact.  I am human, I struggle in the heat of the moment with this concept, but today this situation I kept it together.  Calm face, no raised voices. Success, no yelling or arguing she put herself to bed.  Deep breath and I have time to collect my thoughts and prepare to sit down and discuss this with her tomorrow.  

Several hours later after I chopped up some fresh veggies for salad I slipped into Emily’s room to slip the carrot peels and lettuce heads to her bunnies.  I startled her out of her sleep as I was slipping back out of the room.  Half asleep, eyes closed and she says quietly to me “Mom I love you”.  That’s it, drifts back off to sleep.  

No pleading for getting up out of bed, no justifying her behavior, no apologizing, begging, arguing, just a sweet simple ‘mom I love you’.  

This is the first thought she had when she woke up.  Not angry with me for holding her accountable.  Not trying to get out of consequences.  Just that she loves me.  Oh despite her many flaws I love this girl’s heart.  This sweet heart melting moment does not change her consequences the following day.  She is still held accountable for her words, actions and behaviors.  


But as I lay drifting off to sleep I wonder what if that’s how I responded to God.  When I am dealing with the consequences of my own sin, facing the mess I have created trying to do things in my own strength and not turning to God.  Instead of rationalizing, justifying, complaining and worrying about the discussions of tomorrow.   To just stop and rest and tell the Lord I love Him.  Laying in bed after a day of trials and storms and just say “God I love You.”  How peaceful, simple.  

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”  ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭


Uncharted years ahead

My husband and I are entering a new season of parenting, our oldest is 14 going on 15 years old and in his first year of high school.  Over the next several years we will have several other children that will be following into their teenage and high school years.  I do not know that there is any way we can adequately be prepared for what this season in our parenting journey may bring us.  It almost feels like we just need to be braced and ready for the impact of what is next.  Oh Lord help us!
While my emotions and thoughts drive me stray with worry and anxiety.  My mind knows that what we need to do is to stay in constant and unceasing prayer.

‘pray without ceasing’ 1Thessalonians 5:17

However my struggle is really to learn to let go completely.  For so many years through child hood you have such a huge impact on what and who your children are exposed to but these teen years they are becoming young adults and need to learn to make their own choices.  To stand back and allow them to make their own choices even when I know they may fall is possibly the most challenging parenting role I have yet encountered.  My biggest fear is for our children to make the same mistakes that I have made, it hurts my heart to think of them having to experience what I had to go through to get to where I am today and it is my biggest desire to protect them from that.  The big bad mean momma bear in me wants to come out and keep protecting them.  I need to turn mama bear protection directly to prayer and not allow this fear into trying to control their actions and choices.

I have read dozens of christian parenting ‘how to’ books and I will have a fleeting wish for a more specific step by step instruction manual in how to raise our children and then remind myself we have one, God’s word, the Bible is where we need to be turning and studying and teaching our children from.


The most powerful tool we have as parents that we can do is to pray for them, constantly and without end.  We need to continue to love them, support them and equip them to make these big life changing decisions on their own.  If they make poor choices and fail then they will have to learn from their own mistakes, every child is different and going to learn things in their own way.    It really does not matter what are children do with the future careers, family, education as long as they are followers of Christ and find true salivation, God will take care of everything else.

Don’t get me wrong this is not an open ended, our teenagers get to make all their own choices and sink or swim.  Of course we will maintain some rules and boundaries but it is during this time that they need to learn to make choices and to be responsible members of our society and be accountable for their actions. We as parents need to equip them and allow them to make more and more decisions and then hold them accountable and responsible.

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”  Colossians‬ ‭1:3-6

As parents we are human, we are sinful and we will make mistakes.   Lots and lots of mistakes.  It is my natural tendency to beat myself up over my mistakes, especially when it comes to parenting.  But this does not help and something I am working on and praying over.  To accept the mistake and learn from it and move on.  Oh boy, so much easier to say that than to actually do it!

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  Ephesians‬ ‭6:4‬ ‭

14 years old and in high school and now the decisions they are making could and will impact the rest of their lives!  And these are the decisions we need to equip them and prepare them to make.  But most importantly we need to be praying they are following God’s will through all this.  Let go and allow God to takeover these uncharted teenage years we are diving into.  

Our oldest and I before his 1st homecoming dance!

Be still my heart ❤️

Cross country…. passion for running

Thank you sweet friend

This week a much needed reminder appeared on my desk the other morning.  It has been a challenging few months and weeks and days.  Taking things day by day, moment by moment.  I came into work and this beautiful figureine was sitting there waiting for me.

It really took my breath away.  And then I picked it up and read the inscription.





‘Help me heal

And use my gifts

As you command

With gentle hands’


     What a treasure this gift this is.

     This statute on this day 

     at this moment 

     was God’s perfect timing.  

I walked into work with the weight of the world, all of the trials our family is facing in this season of busyness and then the night before we had received news of a loved one who had passed away.  This morning  I was struggling and walked in to work this morning see this statue.  

During a time when I would be sitting down and diving into another busy day without a second thought I stopped as this quiet reminder caused me to pause and start my day in silent prayer.

“Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.”  ‭Psalm‬ ‭86:6‬ 

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”  Colossians‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭

What a sweet and precious reminder to me that I need to be carrying the presence of Jesus and not the weight of our trials and circumstances.  

I can rest knowing that God is in control of this crazy stressful fallen world.  I need to continually place my trust and faith in Him, He will not leave me or forsake me.  Even in the most challenging of our trials when I am blinded by my own emotions and sin He is there, steady and strong.  

In all things I need to be going first to the Lord in prayer, even in my work and caring for my patients.  Not trying to take control and carry all this on my own but I need to stay in continual prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭

On my desk is where this statue will remain to remind me day after day.  From the bottom of my heart thank you sweet friend for your thoughtful gift.

Organizing successes & wins for our super size family.

Keeping a home with our family of 8 (plus a grandmother) running comes with its fair share of challenges.   So as we are about to take on another busy school year I will share some of the organization successes and wins that we have experienced over the last few years.

 

 

The color system, this is something my mom did with me and my brothers growing up and has been a huge success with our crew. Each child has a color, this goes for theirs cups, tooth brushes, towels, anything that can be done in their color.  It helps the kids to know what is theirs and makes it much easier for us to keep track of many daily items.

Joshua is green, Tyler is blue, Emily is pink or purple (since she is the only girl this works), Noah is yellow, Richard is red and Nathaniel is orange.

 

LOCKERS IN THE GARAGE

Lockers in the garage have been amazing. We started off with the white plywood ones from Lowes but these did not last and were very expensive, so last year we found some metal lockers at Ollie’s and they are fabulous.  The kids have a place to keep their shoes, book bags, coats, sporting supplies and anything else they want.  They were allowed to personalize their lockers with stickers.  I cannot imagine the chaos we would have if they did not have this space to put their belongings.

These kids would be lost without these!

 

 

CUBBIES DOWNSTAIRS FOR ELECTRONICS

 

Cubbies downstairs, these functioned for a while.  We are actually in the process of phasing these out and taking on a room swap that is turning out to be a complete disaster!  The cubbies are downs stairs and the kids rooms are upstairs so instead of using this for storage of books or things they would be using daily it has become a catch all for things they do not feel like bringing to their room.  The big idea with these was a charging station and storage for their electronic devices.  We stand firm in no phones, tablets or electronics are to be brought upstairs.  These devices are limited in use and must be used in the main spaces downstairs where everyone is.  So while we are going to get rid of the cubbies my husband will make a small shelve with 6 slots to use strictly for a charging station so their devices remain downstairs.


 

WEEKLY FAMILY CALENDAR

 

Weekly calendar- we have been using this for a while now, I think I started this about a year ago actually.   This is awesome!  There is a row for ‘family’ for our family activities and events and then each person has their row.  I update this every Saturday and then everyone can see what the week will bring.  I used dry erase boards and put post it notes, I tried just writing in the squares with dry erase marker but that did not work very well.  The kids have really come to rely on this being there.  Next to the weekly calendar we have a plastic tray and in the tray if a folder for each member of the family.  This is used for kids to put papers in that need to be signed, trying to avoid being handed 15 different things the moment we walk in the door.  And then once the paper for school or whatever it may be is signed, we will put it in the child’s folder and it is their responsibility to check and get it out.


I also keep an update monthly calendar for the kids on the fridge. (MorMor uses this one too:)

 

 

MENU PLANNING

Menu plan- This is a must. We have used this for years, or the most part we stay consistent with using this. Not quite as good at using the menu planning over the summer while we are so off routine. On the weekend my husband and I will meal plan and then grocery shop based off of the meal plan. It is a piece of paper in a frame and I write in dry erase marker. The kids love being able to look and see what meals are what nights seem to love knowing this information. It is amusing when at times we do not have what is written on the menu, oh the looks of shock on their faces!

And yet they still ask almost daily…’what’s for dinner?’ 🤔

 

BATHTUB SOLUTION

 

Another thing that has worked well for the older children is shower caddies.  We have tried any things trying to minimize the chaos of bath products and sponges in the shared bathroom.  Especially keeping them out of each others things.  So we have gotten them each a plastic shower caddy to keep their shower supplies and they bring this to the bathroom with them when they go to shower.  No clutter in the tub and fighting over who touched who’s things!  Definitely a WIN 🙂

They will be ready for dorm life 😉

 

 BUSY MAMA—-> JOURNALING SOLUTION

 

This last organizational success is not used by my family directly but by me for keeping our family organized. This has truly been a game changer for me. I used to struggle with journal confusion and my husband would even tease me frequently because I was constantly getting a new notebook to try something different. I had a prayer journal and I would have a journal for taking sermon notes, I had my electronic and paper calendar and planner along with some form of running to do lists. At times it felt like I was trying to juggle six different notebooks. Juggling so many notebooks was complicated and caused more confusion than helping keep me organized.  About two years ago the bullet journal concept was all over the internet and that caught my attention. After doing some exploring and ‘pintresting’ thus began my journey and evolving of building my own organizational system that has worked so well for me.

I started with one notebook. I had ongoing prayers and running lists in the back. A yearly calendar in the front. And the after the yearly calendar I would do my months, weeks and days, sermon notes and daily prayers as I went. It was awesome! To have everything condensed into one flowing journal. I fine tuned this system and fell in love with the Leuchtturm1917 leather bound notebook. This was by far the best journal I found. I loved it so much and used it so consistently I started filling up one journal every 3 months! So having to change journals so frequently was becoming a chore because I would need to transfer my yearly information into each new journal to continue with my system that was working so well.

 

So several weeks ago I transitioned and transformed to a similar and updated version of what I was already using. I bought a 3 pack of the small moleskin notebooks and made a slipcover for them out of fabric.  There are elastic bands holding the 3 notebooks in place like binding in a book.  I attached ribbons in the moleskins to use as place holders.  I made a pocket in the front pocket for pens and then another pocket for post it notes and little papers I am needing to keep with or hang onto.  (I always keep a thank you card with me, just in case I need it).

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first notebook I use for my weekly/daily.  I have a list of tasks and events for the week, our meal plan, prayer requests from our loved ones, friends and church family, and a weekly verse to study/memorize.  Then I keep a page for each day with tasks/events, I log my miles, write out a daily prayer, keep track of my ‘wins’ for the day to help focus on the positives and write out the daily verse.  I keep two pages a week for writing out the prayers that I have written down prayer request for, writing them out helps keep me on track with actually praying over these requests.   I also like to tape and save any movie stubs or little momentoes I want to save as well. This is the notebook that will be replaced every few months, it fills up quick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second notebook is my yearly book, it is my constant.  I have my yearly tasks and goals, keep track of the books I have read, I have an ongoing list of things we have bought for Christmas gifts as well as ideas for Christmas gifts,  a list of all my log in and password information, basically anything I don’t want to forget gets written down.  I have a page with tasks/goals things to remember for each month and a monthly calendar. Each month is tabbed with tape.  I still keep my online calendar up-to-date, this is something that my husband and I use together.  However I still prefer to have a paper calendar to be able to write on so I keep a written one in my yearly book and up date as needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The third notebook is my prayer journal.  This is where I can keep my written prayers, for my husband, marriage, children, country, church and for Landy our compassion child.  I have this organized by sections so I can keep track of the prayers.  I love written prayers, I love being able to look back to weeks, months, years ago and see where my heart was and the ways that God has answered prayers and brought me to where I am today.  God s good ALL the time!