Sunday, June 29, 2008

You Might Be A Mommy If...

Someone using the potty causes you to clap your hands and have great hope for the future. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

To Train Up A Mother

Maybe the last entry kind of seemed like a no-brainer to some people, but I'm still figuring this whole mothering thing out :). I need a reminder every once in a while. I need to refocus, realign myself with the heart of the Father. Intentional and purposeful training of our children. The dedicated and continuous seeking of the Lord for what He has specifically for our kids and how to prepare them for it.

I believe that Richie and I do this as we seek God for the names of our children. As we search out their names, God begins to reveal our first glimpse of their personalities to us. (That's a whole other blog entry in itself.) In other areas, I find myself, in the heat of the moment, all too often relying on my own strength/knowledge or consulting a book more quickly than I consult God. Obviously, my strength and knowledge get me nowhere. Christian books have their purpose and are good and edifying, but if it's not directed by the Lord, it will fail also.

You see, my freedom in parenting, really my life, comes from my reliance and dependence on God, or lack thereof. The more I lose my life to Him, the more life I actually gain. The more I become His servant, the more freedom I actually experience. He states these things over and over again to us in His Word, but when you really begin living it out, it's amazing how real it becomes. You can begin to "own" it.

I am not called to be a mother exactly like anyone else. When I have sought the Lord on challenges with my children and I begin to have a "divine game plan" to address them, that's when I have confidence as a mother. That's when I stop comparing myself to other women and wishing I was different or my kids were different.

That's a step in becoming secure to who I am in Christ. That's a step in raising children who are secure in who they are in Christ.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To Train Up A Child

The last few weeks I have been joking around that I wish God had included a detailed instruction manual with each of my kids because honestly, some days I find myself at a loss and feel like I am failing as a mother. (Side note for you super-spiritual ones- yes, I do know I have the Bible as my manual :).)
Samuel playing with Caleb's hair.

After almost 8 years of parenting (quite a few that I would love to have a do-over with), I am more aware than ever of my need for God and His wisdom - and yes, I am fully expecting this awareness to become deeper every year :). Lately, I have really been chewing on the question of what am I really training and instructing my children in these days? Am I making each day count to the end or am I just counting on making it to the end?

Time is short. I know, how cliche...but so true. Before I know it, they will be behind the wheel of a car and waving goodbye. Will we as their parents have prepared them in the ways of the Lord so that they can stand strong in this world? So that their Light shines through. Will my children know how to act with integrity and kindness? Will they be prepared for what God has for them?

Abigail at 2 days old.

Each child is so different and unique. They are wonderfully and fearfully created and He knit them together in my womb. Called by God for His purposes. And as their mother, I have a responsibility to prepare them for those purposes. I have read two different things this month that helped give me new insight into Proverbs 22:6 :

Train up a child in the way he should go...

What has been confirmed for me is that this isn't just talking about following the Lord. It's about training them specifically in the path that each child should go, in the unique way that God designed them - personality, interests, strengths, weaknesses, etc.

When I think about this verse now, I am finding a new freedom in my parenting. How many times do I beat myself up because our family doesn't quite look like another's that I think it should? How many times have I unintentionally constrained my kids in a "box" (figuratively speaking!) because we had to be a certain way?

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of areas in our lives that we need to improve and many ways that we could glorify God better in our family, but it needs to be His way for our unique family and each of our wonderfully individual children.

I become truly excited when I think of my children's futures. Abigail is so new and we are just beginning to get to know her. Both the boys have such strong personalities and as much of a challenge it can feel like, I know that God needs people like them on this earth. That ultimately, with the proper training and guidance and the grace of God, the issues that we seem to have to work with daily, will be their strengths as they step into His path for them. What a blessing to be their mother and to have a front row seat!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Fun

We love summer!! Thank You, God, for each season and the fun they bring!

Watermelons after waterslides!

Always longing to be outside...

rain or shine!!!

Oh, the joy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Hoo" Knew Learning Was So Fun...

We have really enjoyed our homeschool journey thus far and the various learning opportunities it presents us with that we wouldn't normally have if we were in public school, especially as we focus on God's creation. To cap off the "end" of the year, we had a friend over and dissected owl pellets together. Owl what, you say? Owl pellets.

No, it's not owl poop, it is owl throw up. I know, makes it soooo much better, right? :)

Caleb learned about owls and food chains and this was how we ended his study. It actually was a really great project and the boys found some really cool bones, including whole rat skulls. I can feel the cringes and collective winces now - don't worry they were fumigated by the company that collects them. Oh, the things you do for hands-on learning experiences...seriously though, we will do it again in the next couple of years.

Caleb dissecting his owl pellet.

My mom did this with my youngest brother and was excited Caleb would do it. However, she failed to mention a few things. She claims to have forgotten, so okay, we'll give her the benefit of the doubt... ;) She also said I would forget and someday someone would blame me for not telling them a few things, so with that in mind...

I would now like to document for the record for all future participants of this activity...they have a distinct odor. It's not overbearing or anything - it actually took quite a bit of time for me to actually get a whiff. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaning very closely to the thing to help Caleb pick something apart (while still pregnant-but I don't think that mattered), took a deep breath, and BAM, it hit me. Now, Caleb's friend had already mentioned the smell, but I hadn't had the pleasure of it wafting through my nostrils. Perhaps I was too caught up in the all the rodent fur and not letting myself gag and look like a sissy in front of my first-born. :)

Anyway, there you have it. I highly recommend doing this activity - just thought you should be prepared if you do! Happy dissecting and bone picking!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Someone Hit Pause...

Oh to be able to stop time just for a little bit. Not life, just time. That I could soak in everything going on and hold onto these moments a little bit longer before they fade. So here are some random snippets I want to remember, hopefully I'll be able to add some pictures soon...

Abigail, the small miracle that God has added to our family. She is so tiny and sweet. The wonderful newborn smell. The soft coos and fussing. Her bright, alert eyes. The minute I looked at her I knew the name we had chosen was definitely meant for her. It was like her name resonated through my whole being when I saw her face. I knew it wasn't just a mother's bias about her beauty when the nurses began talking about how cute she was and she hadn't even been cleaned off yet. Richie's voice when he saw her dimples in the delivery room. The amazing love I have for my daughter already.

Caleb's whole demeanor when he holds Abigail. It is priceless. He loves her so much and is so proud. Very protective. He is certain that he knows exactly what she likes and needs already. He is so gentle with her. He loves to hold her and lay with her.

Samuel's laugh when he watches her. His intrigue by this little person and the things she does, the noises she makes. He asked to have her sit by him in a chair and asked her what movie she wanted to watch with him. He is constantly offering her whatever he's snacking on at the moment.

The strange, yet wonderful and somewhat overwhelming feeling of now being a family of five. I have to be honest and admit that the thought of me out with the three kids is somewhat daunting - which I will probably laugh at one day. I also have to be honest in admitting that I am concerned about making sure each of my kids has enough mommy time and knows and feels mommy's love.

The extra measure of patience God has blessed me with for my children during this transitional time (hoping it will last!). Seeing the hands of Jesus at work in our lives through our friends and family - meals, watching the boys, mowing our grass, gifts. What blessings! I cannot even begin to put into words what it has meant to us.

I know there' s so much more, I'll have to get them down as I remember them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

She is Here!!!!

Abigail Ruth

Born: Thursday June 12, 2008 at 8:32 pm

5 lbs. 15 oz. 18 in.

I will post pictures as soon as I can. We are all doing well and she has already added so much joy to our family! Both big brothers are in love! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Progress Continues

The past few days have been so busy as we await our impending arrival. I don't even think I can remember everything we've gotten done, but I know I feel better about what has been accomplished. Still so much to do, but I guess that really never ends. Laying the carpet got postponed again - it will be after baby comes now. And no word on the kitchen cabinets. What can I say, I like living on the edge. Babies, renovating, you name it, we'll try it and all at once apparently.

I have been having contractions for a period every day and find myself often wondering, "Is this it?" Obviously, not yet. With the heat, I have begun wishing it would be soon. You know, I was supposed to be able to miss out being extremely pregnant in 100 degree weather. What's up with that?! :)

We got the kiddie pool set up and the boys have enjoyed cooling off in that. I finally bought popsicles and have to admit, yesterday I think we ended up having three throughout the day. I was so hot and couldn't resist. Great mom, huh.

Saturday, I finished getting the kids' closet organized. Lifted way too many boxes on shelves though. I froze 13 pints of strawberries and made three dinners - two to freeze for after the baby and one for that night. I'm hoping to get a couple more frozen, but we'll see. Finally started packing the hospital bag.

Caleb enjoyed a break from the normal routine as he went away for two nights to VBS camp with church. Samuel was up to his normal business of making sure I had more than enough diversity in cleaning. "Flooding" the bathroom was on the top of his to-do list.

Trying to stay cool has been on the top of mine. I splurged and took the boys to "Pump It Up" for their summer drop-in play time on Monday. I thought air conditioning for me and energy outlet for them. Can't beat that! What I did not realize is how much help Samuel would need on the slide and that I would have to go with him. Yes, picture my pregnant self climbing up that thing and then sliding (very quickly) down. Add the fact that we flew over the edge to a two foot drop every single time...let's just say I had visions of delivering the baby on that slide. Not pretty. My body has still not recovered. Ah, the things you do for your kids.

I woke up at 5 am this morning with contractions and decided to get a few things cleaned up, just in case. Laundry, sweeping, cleaning, making sure diapers for Samuel are stocked, etc. Yeah well, she's still not here. I'm beginning to hope all these contractions mean that when she does come, the majority of the work involved with labor will be done. :) Wouldn't that be so efficient of my body - spread it out of a period of time instead of all at once. Hey, doesn't sound bad to me!

I am thankful at the end of each day to get a bit more done, but I think I'm beginning to get a bit impatient. Just when will she join us? It's like I'm ready, but another week would be okay I guess. Weird, huh? I'm 38 weeks now, so it could be two more weeks or if she's late...four. Ugh! I have to remind myself, how many times in life do I get to feel this sense of anticipation though? Not very often, so I'm trying to enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Last night we helped Caleb discover that, while laying on his stomach, he could touch his toes to his head. He was in wonder that he could actually do it and that he had never known. He did it on his own with a little instruction and encouragement from us.

Isn't that how life is? With some stretching and courage to try, throw in some guidance and encouragement from others, we discover things that we didn't know we were capable of doing...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Attention: If you have a thing against feet, well other people's feet (like me-usually), you may not want to read this... :)

Okay, little known fact about Jo Ann, she can pick up many amazing things with her toes. Richie declares them to be monkey feet because I get good use out of them. He basically thinks it's abnormal to be able to spread my toes as far as I can. I think he's just jealous... ;)

I prefer to think of it as a blessing and have been very happy to see that Caleb has inherited this trait. He's currently learning how to pinch with his toes, a family game passed down from my mom. :)

Anyway, when you're nine months pregnant and the thought of bending over one more time to pick something up makes you shudder, it's especially handy!

Samuel dumped the crayons all over the floor the other day and I helped him pick them up. Instead of bending down, I used my feet. He was intrigued! He just stared at the process and then laughed. I decided it would be quicker if I just sat on the floor and helped and that was it. Or so I thought.

Last night before bed, the crayons were on the floor again and I told him that they needed to be picked up. The first thing he started doing was picking them up with his toes! He was successful and mommy was so proud cheering him on!! Daddy just stared in disbelief.

Once again, I am reminded of the weighty role as a parent. What else are my children picking up from me? When my kids do something that I find unacceptable, is it mimicking a behavior they've seen me exhibit before? Becoming more Christ-like always feels more urgent, more pressing. I desire to be more like Him, He desires me to be more like Him, but these impressionable minds need me to be also.

I find myself falling short so often. Having to apologize to God and the kids for my behavior. Letting them know that what I did or said is not okay, that mommy messes up too. That's the only thing I know to do, to be real with them about my many shortcomings. I don't want them to look back one day and think their mom was a hypocrite. Or worse, that it would turn them off from the things of God.

You know, people talk about their ministries or callings all the time, but it seems like it's so often forgotten that our own children are our greatest ministry. We have a calling to our families. Their are people all around us that we probably don't view as a "ministry", but God has placed them within our sphere of influence. What do they see when they see me? Do they see Jesus? Do they hear Jesus? Do they feel Jesus?

Lord, help me. Cleanse me, Father, and change my heart. Help me to be more like You, that others would feel Your love flow out of me when I am with them. That I would be a light to my children and that they would know You and be in relationship with You. Help me to be the mother and wife You have called me to be and that they need.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Laboring in Faith

I am experiencing a stirring in my spirit. Excitement. Faith. Courage.

Don't get me wrong. This week has presented several opportunities that I have had to choose between giving "it" to God and leaving "it" there or picking "it" back up. I have wrung my hands, experienced worry. Leaving me to ask myself, just exactly what is the status of my faith these days. In the end I keep hearing, "This is where the rubber meets the road, Jo Ann." This is it. This is where my talk meets my walk. :)

We all experience situations where our faith and trust in God is shown or not. This is where I get to live out the things that I proclaim. God is my Provider. God is my Shield. And the innumerable other things that He is to me and anyone who calls on Him.

Isn't it strange how it's easier to totally surrender some circumstances compared to others? At least, that's the way it is to me. Anyway, I could go in about a gazillion different directions with this and I don't want to.

This is what I want to share. I believe that God can give me a pain-free birth. Let that sink in a minute. Pain-free birth. Yes, say it with me, pain-free birth. Jo Ann's very short version of the basic premise is that the curse of painful childbirth over Eve (Genesis 3:16) was broken when Jesus died on the cross.

About a month and a half ago, I felt the Lord was building faith in me to believe that I would have a childbirth that involved minimal pain. Then yesterday as a good friend and I were talking, she asked if I had thought about a pain-free birth. What? Is that even an option? Seriously though, I have heard a little bit about it, but I just couldn't really answer her because I wasn't sure where my faith fell.

Can I possibly have enough faith that it will involve no pain? I think I'm up for the challenge, as long as baby girl waits long enough for me to cover and soak in God's Word concerning this. I'm the type of person that likes a good stretching, a good toe stepping :), anything that brings me closer to God. And if I can trust God with this, something that the world and most Christians would say is impossible, why would the other situations in my life pose a faith issue?

I know I'm putting myself out there and some will scoff and doubt. Okay, just don't expect to be in the delivery room, you will be asked to leave (Mark 5:35-42). :) A long time ago, I told God that I wanted to be radical compared to this world. In Romans 12:2, we're commanded to not be conformed to it. I don't believe in any way that a pain-free birth is radical when it comes to the things of His Kingdom.

Rubber meet road, road meet rubber...

Update: Don't you know that immediately after I post this, the enemy of my soul begins to bring doubt and unbelief to me, my flesh wants to reject this transplant of faith. What ifs and ideas of failure, both public and private, abound. Not only that, but this is the second time that I'm trying to type this because for "whatever reason" it didn't post when I just tried. Deep breath, that's okay. Look, I'm just being real here. I'm making my choice to stand. Let's walk this thing out.

I Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

II Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Mark 8:33-36 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ready or Not

WOW - Three weeks until our baby girl is due to make her world debut! I haven't felt so unprepared for any of our kids as this one. Not because I haven't had to enter the land of all things pink and lacy before :), but because I feel like there is so much left to do before she comes.

The house is full of half-finished projects - painting, washing, wallpaper, you name it. We have appliances waiting to be installed, so there's more clutter than usual. The everyday (and thankfully, not so everyday) messes to be cleaned when you have two extremely active sons. Closets to be organized...the list goes on.

But in the midst of it, I am keenly aware of my two boys and the precious time that I have to be with them. Our family is about to change. A good change, a blessed change, a joyful change, but a change nonetheless. The reality is that there will be adjustments and mommy is going to have less time for a while to be one-on-one with each of them.

I am striving to find a balance between all the things that I want done before we enter babyhood once again and making sure that Caleb and Samuel are having opportunities to have fun with mommy, to be kids. That we are making memories and that I am building strong relationships with them. It puts a whole new perspective on wants and needs for me.

The boys during a recent, spontaneous
picnic lunch at a local park.

In the end, I'm finding the real needs to be a whole lot more fulfilling. The beaming smiles after catching a crayfish, the loud whoops of sword fighting in the yard, the word of thanks for making a favorite treat, the sweet snuggle as they sit with me to read. There will always be things waiting to be done around our house, but I'll never be able to regain these moments when my children need me the most. I don't want to stand before my Father's throne one day and have to explain why cleaning was more important than attending to my child.

I'll pray to be a better steward of my time. Perhaps I need to set myself on a task schedule or something like that. BUT, I am not willing to let the clutter of all that needs to be done invade my time and joy as I train and enjoy these special gifts from God.

So go ahead and keep swinging in the wind for now, Mr. Cobweb...I'm going outside to blow bubbles! And baby girl, we eagerly await your arrival whenever that blessed time will be!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You Might Be A Mommy If...

* A trip to Wal-Mart by yourself actually feels like a treat.

* On above mentioned trip, you receive two calls on your cell phone before you have even parked your car at the store. ;)