Monday, December 28, 2015

When you give a baby a book...

When you give a baby a book...

... you just might hear words transform from a simple muffin to something silly like, "moose-a-muffin". Story: Bean loves the book If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Numeroff so muffins are no longer called a basic, boring muffin in our house.

... you just might see a handful of favorites pulled from the shelf multiple times throughout the day. It might be "read aloud" alone or you might hear the question, "Mommy, read it?" 

... you might just capture adorable moments such as this...
Reading with daddy.
Reading with a friend.
Reading on a blow-up-pool device.
Reading in a ball play pit with friends.
Reading wherever and leaving a trail.
Wearing whatever while reading.
Making memories.
Reading with a friend at their birthday party.

Reading at the library.
Reading at a friends house.
Reading in a coffee shop.

... you might just find that with little or no effort your child begins to recognize shapes, colors, letters and words...

... you might also find that children's books are FUN reads and enjoy that time with your child so much that it's one of the best parts of your day...

... you have the perfect Christmas and birthday presents year after year after year...

... you might just become BFF's with the librarian who discards a book that's falling apart to give to Bean because she knows she loves it...

... you might just share a few favorites with your little reader like The Monkey Goes Bananas by C.P. Bloom or Wiggle by Doreen Cronin (Author) and Scott Menchin (Illustrator)...

Books have always been a major part of my life and it was my intention from the beginning of motherhood to make it a big part of my daughters' life as well. Perhaps that's why I chose to be a reading teacher early on in life? (wink, wink) If you're interested in seeing all that we do on a daily basis, read the post, How I Got My 18 Month Old Interested in Books and be sure to check out my Reading and Writing page as well. Also check out my teaching blog, RafiKey's to Success that's full of more tips for secondary English/language arts teachers.

I have no doubt that by simply reading, reading, reading and reading I'll see the same success with all my children, not just my Briella Bean. I think that by giving your baby a book, you might just see and hear and enjoy all books have to offer as well...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Spilling the Beans [October - November 2015 Edition]

She wanted the "Bally Cereal" when we went grocery shopping. We had no idea what on earth she was talking about so we had her show us. She lead us to the Trix. Haha, ball, I get it now!

She got Jasmine and Aladdin Barbie doll's for her birthday. Their magic carpet is a blue bucket.

She was obsessed with the bride of a wedding we recently attended, admiring her dress, stating, "She's a marry!" 
When the bride and her hubby danced their first dance as a married couple she explained,  "He's her prince!" Upon hearing that one of our friends asked her, "Who's your prince?" and she replied matter-of-factly, "My daddy." (Yeah, I cried.)

After burping or farting Bean always asks, "What is that noise?" She answered her own question one day at lunch with, "My mouth is growly!"

Bean: "Tomorrow I'm going to be Anna. And wear a cape!"
Daddy: "Oh yeah?" 
Bean: "Yeah. We are going to get my Anna shoes tomorrow."
Daddy: "Where are we going to get them?"
Bean: "Daddy take me to the store."
Daddy: "You want me to spend money on Anna shoes?"
Bean: "Um, yes, cause I'm going to be Anna tomorrow."
Daddy: "Bean, you're more expensive than mommy."

Bean: "Mommy I'm a girl."
Me: "Yes you are, just like mommy and ele."
Bean: "You're not a girl."
Me: "I'm not, huh? What am I?"
Bean: "You're mommy."

She was a robot for Halloween and she was absolutely adorable in it!

She began playing Belle and Quigley was the beast.

When we shopped for a newlywed couple Bean really, really wanted to give the bride a Rapunzel tooth brush. 

After my asking her to stop screaming she explained, "BUT Mommy. I'm getting silly!"

Mommy: "you have a booger hanging from your nose. Do you want to get it or should I?"
Bean: "how about we just leave it there."
Mommy: "that's gross!"
Bean: "okay, let's just get it tomorrow."

This girl LOVES shopping (especially for shoes). When my wonderful hubby took me shopping on my birthday, Bean joined in on the fun. When she tried on boots (with sparkles, of course) she was so adorable she had an audience.

The last day of her first ballerina dance class session ended this month. Her teacher complimented her by telling me that she takes dancing very seriously. I'm not in the least bit surprised.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Why We've Chosen to Tell Our Children Santa Is Pretend.

My three year old is Elsa obsessed. Elsa could easily become the most important figure in her life. Although we have zero issues with our daughter's liking for this character, we constantly remind her that she's pretend. Otherwise, for example, the snow outside is credited to "Elsa's icy powers!"

That is the very last thing we want for our household.

If we allowed her to think that the snow outside really was Elsa's icy powers, we'd take away from the true source of that snow: God Himself. 
"By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick clouds with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning.They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen." (Job 37:10-13) 
This is one example of God's sovereignty over weather, including ice and snow. We tell Brielle, all the time, that Elsa is pretend, but God - He's real - and so are His icy powers!

The same goes for Santa. During Christmas our central focus is Christ and the reason He came to earth as a babe. We have zero issues for our daughter's liking for Santa (in fact, she's told me on many occasions this Christmas season that she wants to be Santa for Halloween next year), but we are always reminding her that he's pretend. Otherwise the presents under the Christmas tree are credited to Santa, when in reality the earth and everything in it belongs to God. I often tell Brielle that Christmas is the time we celebrate Jesus' birthday and He is so kind and generous to give us presents on His day! (She likes that explanation, go figure.) But let me back that up with one example from Scripture. David understood this truth so well in his prayer after Israel made their freewill offerings so the temple could be built by Solomon, David's son,
"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. ... But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you." (1 Chronicles 29:1-12 & 14, bolded mine)
In other words, David recognized that what Israel was giving was God's to begin with; they were simply giving back what's His. We try to recognize this truth in our own lives, with all our possessions. They are His, even those presents under the tree HE has blessed us with and we need to give thanks and glory and honor to Him for all that He gives (including the means to buy those gifts under the tree). We do not want to take the glory away from God by giving credit to Santa. We will not trade what's incredibly real for a fantasy.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [What Mommy's Really Need]

You might be wondering what to give those mom's in your life this Christmas season. This list might help you with that, but I think you might be surprised by what a mommy really needs...

1. Friends. A walk-in-your-door-at-any-time, call-at-any-time, kind of friend. Those friends are the ones that will help you get through the tough days, months, years... by offering a shoulder to cry on, a meal, take your kids for a few hours so you can rest and expect nothing in return. Consider yourself blessed if you have a friend, or friendS, like that. 

2. Discipleship. Find an older woman you admire and want to emulate, ask her to disciple you and teach you how she does it. We do not become good at it the instant we become it (wife, mother, Christian); it is a process and one we must patiently learn over time. This is called discipleship: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." (Titus 2:3) 

3. Selfless Husbands. Who understand that this mommy job isn't an easy one. If your wife looks frazzled, instead of plopping in front of the TV the moment you get home, ask what you can do to help. A parentS job is a 24-7 job - do it together. A simple, "What can I do to help you?" means so so so so so much.

4. A Moment. This mom-job is a 24-7 job. It doesn't matter if you "take a vacation" because you still do the same job, just in a different location. Every mom needs a moment here and there to relax. Need a perfect gift? Give a busy mommy a massage/pedicure/manicure and then offer to babysit while she enjoys this hour of pampering.

5. A Long, Hot UNINTERRUPTED Shower. They're rare and when they happen, it's wonderful. 

6. Prayer Warriors. And I mean people who say, "I'm praying for you!" and actually do it.  Prayer is Powerful. We need prayer for patience, kindness, self-control, our ability to serve willingly, motivation and energy to get through the to-do list, &etc.

7. Encouragement. There will always be people (with or without children) who want to give advice about parenting. The last thing mommy's need is un-asked-for parental advice (they have friends, sisters, mothers, and teachers for that -- see 1 and 2), and when they need advice they have certain people they go to for it. If they didn't ask, don't give it. Instead understand that what mommy's really need are these things listed in this list. 

8. Books. For years, people have been writing about what has worked for them. There's no need to re-write the book, so research what you're doing (breastfeeding, discipline, newborn scheduling, etc. etc.) and find someone who's proven methods also work for you. I will forever be thankful for my breast-feeding book that allowed me to go into it confidently, for Babywise that helped me understand my colicky baby's needs, and Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart where I began to understand biblical discipline.

Also, the most powerful book in any mother's life is the Bible. Spend time in it every day. You'll begin to notice the Holy Spirit using His Word to guide you through your day.

9. Loving Husbands. And yes, I purposely put husbands twice. They do need to help the mother of their child, however, (and I'd argue more than anything) a mother needs to know she is loved. If her husband does not take the time to do this every day it begins to reflect the atmosphere in the home, and believe me the kids will notice. The authors of Babywise, Ezzo and Bucknam have a perfect quote for this piece: "Children need to see an ongoing love relationship that includes mom and dad enjoying each other as friends and not just parents. They also need to see their parents talking, laughing, working together and resolving conflicts with a mutual respect for each other. We cannot over emphasize this point: the more parents demonstrate love for each other, the more they saturate their child's senses with confidence of a loving, safe and secure world."

10. Jesus. "We need to acknowledge that our many failures only solidify our desperate need for Jesus. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses, and he will give us strength each day." ( We must also acknowledge the fact that Jesus told us a "Helper" was being sent and we cannot believe that the "Holy Spirit" is a myth or a ghost. He is real because Jesus said He was real. "... the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:26, Jesus was speaking to his disciples in this text, and John specifically wrote this to prove that Jesus is God - and that everything He said and did proved that fact (including what He said in this text, that His disciples would remember everything He said, hence why John wrote the book of John) - but as believers we cannot ignore the fact that we are offered the same help.) He came here to help us, guide us, and once you become a Christian you must believe that He is there with you at all times. If you believe in Him, believe everything that He taught. Once you begin to rely on Jesus and His Word, the Holy Spirit will help you remember it and when we're weak - HE IS STRONG; and when we are strong, it's because HE IS WITH US.

What every mother needs isn't necessarily a list of the season's must have items, but rather her Bible, trust in an all-powerful, mighty, sovereign God, a husband and a group of women who offer encouragement, love, and a moment here and there to relax or accomplish a task without interruption.  

P.S. I sincerely hope there are some items on this list that will jolt a Christmas gift idea for those mom's in your life!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Be Thankful in ALL Circumstances

Many years ago my sister Mel shared a story that inspired her to start a thankful journal: it was of a mother who's daughter was enduring a particularly difficult day of chemotherapy. She was encouraged by a friend to begin writing 5 things she was thankful for each day and on this day she found herself being uplifted rather than hopeless. Thankful for the medical staff, her husbands support, the love shared between her children, the bright full moon, and the unwavering commitment of family and friends. It was this story that also sparked a flame in my own heart; if this woman could be thankful in such dire situations, I could as well. More than 5 journals later, another 8 women joining me, and countless days that seemed I had nothing to be thankful for (examples: One of "THOSE" Days and 'Tis the Season {To Be Thankful}) I am forever changed. Everyday I'm thankful Mel inspired me to join her.

I encourage you to join us.

This Thanksgiving season is a perfect time to start. Find a journal, date it, and begin writing 5 things you're thankful for each day. If the above story didn't encourage you, here's 10 more reasons to start one. And if those 10 reasons don't have you convinced, perhaps the truth in God's Word will.

Be Thankful in ALL Circumstances

It was this verse that inspired Betsie Ten Boom to be thankful for the fleas in the barracks of her bed in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Corrie Ten Boom (her sister) wrote of this experience with wide-eyed-shock in her book, The Hiding Place. How can one be thankful for fleas?! Betsie's simple explanation was that God's Word said to be thankful in ALL life's circumstances. At that moment, they were dealt fleas. The reason they decided to list things they were thankful for was because they had a Bible and that morning they finished reading 1 Thessalonians. The story Corrie pieces together of how they were able to keep the Bible gave me goosebumps. It was one of the many ways God revealed Himself in their lives. So they were thankful for that Bible and Betsie was genuinely thankful for fleas. It came to be that every day the ladies in their barracks were able to read the Bible together, which in and of itself was a miracle, the guards would not allow that (had they been in their barracks). You want to know why the guards would not step foot in their barracks? Fleas. God gave them fleas so they could read His Word and pray together! Had Betsie not been thankful in ALL circumstances, this would not have been revealed to them. As a result of this story, this particular verse is one my heart clings to, and my prayer is often (with trembling lips), "God, make me like Betsie." I can only hope and pray that when dealt hardship I will be able, God willing, to give thanks in all circumstances.

Let's consider, for a moment, Paul, the author of the letter of 1 Thessalonians. He was dealt hardship throughout his life as well. His conversion (in Acts 9) resulted in his being blind and Jesus said of his ministry, "... I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:16) Suffer he did. Continue reading Acts and you'll find he was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and threatened. In each of his letters he is thankful for the audience, thankful to God for his circumstances and is content as a result. Read Philippians as one illustration. Despite his imprisonment, his attitude was one of rejoicing and contentment (Philippians 4:10, 11). He told his audience that he is thankful for their generosity and concern for him. He learned that in whatever situation his secret in the face of hunger, need, abundance, plenty and imprisonment is Christ.

We should live in the same way. In abundance or need, hunger or plenty, be thankful. Starting that habit now will help you rejoice in your blessings and give you a grateful heart on those rotten days; because they will come. Prepare your heart for rejoicing and thankfulness to God for ALL He gives and takes away (Job 1:21) - starting today! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

One of My FAVORITE Ministries!

We feel Operation Christmas Child is one of the best ministry programs out there for many reasons, here's 4 of them.

BUT before you read my reasons, understand that Operation Christmas Child is a program that offers children around the world two wonderful gifts. One is a shoebox packed with toys, candy, necessities, &etc. by people around the globe and the second is a 12 lesson journey where the children who received this gift learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ! The second is the greatest gift - one that is eternal, life-changing, and offers hope when there is none.

1. It's a ministry my children love participating in and learn about the value of giving to others who are not as blessed as they are. It took many explanations that the toys Bean was picking were not for her to take home. After the 100th time stopping, as we shopped, to explain, "These toys are for other girls who do not have a playroom full of toys to play with like you do. Many of them do not have any toys. In the Bible God tells us that when He gives us much, we need to share, and sharing is one of the ways we show love to others." she finally began to open up and excitedly talk about the girls she picked items for.

2. God uses this ministry in so many different ways. There are countless stories of children, now adults, who can point back to this ministry as being God's way of bringing hope into their hopeless lives. I LOVE reading these stories of how God used Operation Christmas Child to work in their lives. One of my favorites involve a couple, now married, who met because he packed a shoebox as a child, sent it off and years later the girl who received the box wanted to meet and thank the person who packed it because it left such an impression on her life. Upon meeting they fell in love and got married. What an incredible testimony of God using this ministry to bring two people together for His glory! There are so many stories like this that I could spend an eternity reading about them! (Follow this link to read some for yourself.)

3. Discipleship. If you didn't already know, I'm a big fan of Jesus' final commandment to His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." He told us to make disciples, teaching them what Jesus taught so they can teach others who can teach others and so on and so forth. That's the beauty of Operation Christmas Child: they equip children with the knowledge of Jesus Christ so they can teach their friends.

4. Gift giving! The joy of giving to others is better than the joy of receiving, even if you do not personally know the individual receiving it. Like I said earlier, this is a two-fold gift: children receive a gift of goodies, but they receive a more precious gift: the good news of the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

On an average month this blog receives a little over 1,000 views. Imagine if even half of those readers filled a box, reaching out to 500 children, who learned about Jesus and shared the gospel with one of their friends... 

Now imagine if you took me up on this challenge my family decided to undertake this next year: every month we plan on filling a box. That's 12 children who will receive a gift and hear the message of Jesus. If even a quarter of you decided to join us... just imagine the possibilities!

If you're interested in doing this, here's how:

Monday, October 26, 2015

My Top Online Shopping Spots for Cheap Children's Clothing

I'm desperately trying to get back to blogging. I have so many topics mulling around in my brain without the time to write them. When there is time to write them, my to-do list takes priority. Today, I crossed one of those things off my list and decided to take a much needed moment to write. Being a mommy and wife, with a house to clean and laundry to do, shoves my favs to the back burner (i.e. decorating, crafting, reading, writing...). I do, however, read LOTS of children's books (I can't complain, most of them are pretty amazing).

With that said, I thought I might use this time to share where I shop for my growing 3 year old's clothing for a super cheap price on this fabulous Mommy Monday. I encourage other mommy's to share their shopping spots and tricks as well.

There's one place in town called Connie's Clutter that I absolutely love. It's a store that takes after it's name; it is cluttered with used items galore. BUT the children's clothing is .50 and the shoes are $1. You simply cannot go wrong there. I do have to dig (cause there is a lot of junk), but I have found a few items worth bringing home (for myself too). I don't mind digging, haha, I joke it's like treasure hunting. There is a point for sharing this: I encourage you to check out your local junk stores, you never know the gems you'll find for super cheap. Children's clothing is one of those things that are either destroyed the first time worn or they grow out of pretty quickly, so I'm not willing to spend a fortune. Do not dismiss thrift, consignment, or cluttered junk stores. Ya just have to dig a little.

The Children's Place is #1 on my list. It has cute clothing that is perfect for little girls (nothing risqué, inappropriate, or weird graphics). PLUS they are constantly having 50% off deals or free shipping days. Not to mention their My Place Rewards, that gives points for items purchased, eventually leading to free items (can't go wrong there). In fact, they're having a 50% off - online only - sale right now using the code: TREAT50 (and free shipping). Also, if you sign up with them you get $10 towards your first order.

ThredUp is an online consignment store that also offers some good deals every now and then. I always, always, always organize my search with prices low to high. It's the best way to find a beautiful Easter dress (for example), brand new, with delicate flowers, ruffles, gorgeous embroidery, lace, etc. for a measly $5.

My last place is Amazon. Being an Amazon Prime member has its perks (the best being the 2 day free shipping). When I'm in a crunch, it's the first place I go, I can always find a good deal knowing I'll get it super quick.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Spilling the Beans [August - September 2015 Edition]

After spending quite a bit of time looking for the panties Bean was told to put on, we left my sisters house without them. She later called me, laughing at finding them in the play kitchen strainer, with a lid on it. I never would've thought to look there.

Mommy: "Bean! Your birthday is coming up and you'll be 3 years old!"
Bean: "I don't want to!"
Mommy: "You don't want to be 3?"
Bean: "No! I want to be Elsa!"

After receiving nearly 6 inches (or more) of rain in less than an hour, our basement flooded, which required quite the clean up process. Once everything was dry we began carrying things downstairs. Bean kept telling her daddy, "Careful! Be careful daddy! I love you and I don't want you to get hurt! Careful! Careful!" 

On our way home from our church's picnic Bean sang the entire time this silly song that had Kyle and I giggling for a long time afterwards. I didn't start writing down the lyrics until about half way home, but what I got was pretty awesome, "Goofy I love you so much. I love you so muuuuuch. Poopy song. Everyday. And Anna and kristoff and Elsa and Anna and Sven and prince and light and flowers and moon and poopy song. The poopy song. Icky. Elsa song. I ate my arm. Luuuuuunch. I don't know what you're saying. Kristoff song. I don't know what your saying. Elsa song. Anna song. Kingdom of isolation and it looks like I'm the queen. It's funny how some distance makes everything seem warm. Fears that was go me can't get to me. Let it gooooo! It's time to see what I can do, test the wimits and break frew. And breathe! Let it goooooo! Get my friend. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. Goodbye see the Elsa song! How about a mouse song. How about a sersy song. I don't know that song. How about the train song. I don't know that song. Goodbye!" 

After asking Bean to get dressed for bed by taking off her dress, she asked, "Can I leave my face on? And my mouth? And my nose?"

We got home from seeing my sister in Minnesota (after pulling an all nighter in the vehicle) and Bean immediately put on a princess dress, went outside, got naked and peed. She proudly told her daddy, "I peed outside!" (We joke that she learned it from those crazy Minnesotans.) 

I have been laughing for days at BreakWomb's YouTube video titled, "If Mom's Ate Like Their Kids" Mandy and I were hysterically laughing over it as Abi chucked a bean across the table. It was at that moment we decided we could very easily make our own video. I encourage you to watch it and then read what I'd add thanks to my Briella Bean.
I'd add...  sucking on my banana rather than taking normal bites and chewing (she also does this with sandwiches, rice krispie treats, and well, just about everything... gross), acting out movie scenes with my utensils and demanding others do the same, I'd eat (I mean suck) the middle out of my sandwiches totally getting peanut butter and jelly all over my face, I'd beg to eat - claiming I'm soooo hungry - stating that dinner looks good - and then refuse to eat.

One of our favorite activities to do together is going for a walk, both with a baby carriage, both with our babies, talking and giggling. 

Sprinklers are sprinkly's. 

She told me this story, "I petted a lion with my toes, but then the lion ate my toes, so that was not kind."

She let go of her dolly that she named Elsa, "I just dropped my icy powers!"

When she couldn't find the matching pair to her flip-flops she exclaimed, "My oder flip-flop died. Sorry." (oder = other)

She went outside to play, fully dressed. I heard her irritated cry and when I went to check on her, she had her panties in her hand. Her exclamation was, "My panties fell off!" Her shorts and shoes were still on as they should be. I still have no idea how this happened. Through my giggles I asked her what happened and she told me, "I don't know!"

She fell down and I heard this cute conversation with her doll:
Doll: Did you fall down?
Bean: Yes, I fell down.
Doll: Did you get an owie?
Bean: Yes, I got an owie.
Doll: Do you want me to kiss it?
Bean: Yes. (Doll kisses her owie.)
Doll: Are you okay.
Bean: Yeah, I okay. 
Doll: I love you!

"Cinderella, Ariel, Elsa and Anna are breast friends."

"The puppies are woofing."

Dance class started this month. She introduced herself as, "I'm Brielle, the ballerina." The first class was a success except for the tears over another ballerina licking her, "Hadley wicked my fumb!" (Hadley licked my thumb!) She also cried when it was over, she did NOT want to go home.

While on a run in the jogging stroller, we had the following conversation:
Bean: "Mommy, are you running?"
Me: "Yes, I'm running."
Bean: "You're not walking?"
Me: "Nope. I'm not walking."
Bean: "You're running?"
Me: "Yes, I'm running."
Bean: "You're not walking?"
Getting the gist yet?

She saw a boy swinging and commented, "She's swinging." 
Me: "He's a boy."
Bean: "Oh, he's swinging. He has a phone in his pocket! I have a pocket on my panties."

Instead of giddy-up or yeeee-haw she says, "Giddy-Haw!" 

Pretzel's are Rapunzel's (I think it's because I gave her pretzels while she watched Tangled one day.)

Floss is sloff.

Crying she told me, "I tooted in my panties!"
Me: "Everyone toots in their panties, why are you crying?"
Bean: "It stinks!"

She's wet the bed a couple nights in a row so I asked her, "Bean if you wake up in the middle of the night and have to go potty, what should you do?" Her reply, "Eat breakfast?"

I told her to hustle and she told me, "My tutu is going faster!"

She was absolutely terrified of one of her friends in a wolf hat. Screaming she told me, "Audrey doesn't want to wear the wolf hat!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [Words to Describe Me]

1. Passionate. I'm all in, or all out. Typically there's not a lot in between. (It's also the first word I used to describe me in my About Me page.)

2. Confident. I'm actually confident in very little, but what I am confident in is my salvation through Jesus Christ alone and the gifts He has given me.

3. Learner. I never want to stop learning new things. Ever. I'm constantly calling my sisters, friends,  and mom to teach me cooking tricks, the art of sewing, &etc. Learning the banjo, for example, is on my bucket list... and memorizing all the purpose verses to every book of the Bible is also on my list... I scour books for the sake of learning... and am constantly listening to sermons so I can (as you have surely guessed by now) learn.

4. Creative. Give me a glue gun, paint brushes, sharpies, crayons, scrap anything... and I'll come up with something...

5. Loyal. I am devoted to my faith in Jesus, to my husband, to my children and their needs, and to my friends and family. So I guess that pretty much includes everyone.

6. Enthusiastic. Enthusiasm just goes hand in hand with passion. If I'm passionate about something, I'm usually preeeeeetty enthusiastic about it.

7. Emotional. My tear ducts are directly intact to every emotion under the sun. If I'm frustrated, I cry. If I'm happy, I cry. If I'm angry, I cry. If I'm confused, I cry. If I cry, I'm angry at the fact that I'm crying, so I cry more. It's a curse.

8. Easygoing. For the most part.

9. Loving. Sometimes I can also be a bit harsh, so this is actually something I am constantly asking God to help me with. BUT this was a quality my sister used to describe me ('cause I was running out of ideas...). I'm honored this was one she came up with, but I would not have used it to describe myself.

10. Teacher. It's something I'm passionate about, and if I'm passionate about something I enthusiastically dive into learning more about it, the more I learn the more confident I become in it and creative ideas continuously pop into my brain, the more creative ideas I share with my kiddos to meet their individual needs, the more emotional I become about my job, the more emotional I am about my job because of my students, the more loyal I am to my job because of them and the more dedication I put into to seeing them succeed, the more I love them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Christians are the worst!

Everyday we drive by Pizza Hut on our way home from church and it always reminds me of conversations with two individuals in the business of serving. One was with a Starbucks Barista and the other a Pizza Hut waitress, both stated that the Sunday-after-church-crowd was the worst crowd to serve. They are the ones who complain the most, they are the most unforgiving, they are hateful, and they are the worst tippers. 

As someone who spent nearly eight years of my life working as a waitress, hotel maid, or bartender this angers me on so many levels. I think everyone should spend time working in one, or more, of these services so you know what it's like to pick up after someone and serve their every need. You'll have a bigger appreciation for how hard these people work, for you. But it also angers me because, we, as Christians should be the most thankful, the most forgiving, giving the most love, and the best tippers. Here's why:

We should imitate Christ's servanthood.
Christ came to this earth to serve, "... the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom to many." (Matthew 20:28) He illustrated this perfectly on the night He washed His disciples feet, the lowliest of jobs, and yet God Himself took the form of a servant to show us how we ought to live our lives. In fact, he submitted to this plan of servanthood to the point of death. He died on the cross on our behalf, taking the form of a servant, endured the wrath of God for our sin, so we could spend an eternity glorifying His name. Our chief goal in life should be to glorify His name in all that we say and do.

We are doing the exact opposite of that with our complaining-unforgiving-lack-of-generosity-hateful attitude towards those who serve us.

We should imitate Christ's humility.
Know this: we are more like our imperfect waitress than we are like our heavenly Father. He is perfect. We are not. Knowing the depth of our sin, and the lengths to which Christ went to accomplish the forgiveness of that sin, should leave us in such a deep place of gratitude and humility that we treat others with the same love Christ gives us - because we do not deserve it. 

We do not deserve any of the love Christ pours out on us and yet He gives it anyway. Our waitress may or may not deserve kindness, but we should give it anyway, because that glorifies His name.

We are a witness to the greatest truth in history.
This truth is that Jesus defeated death when He died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. This, my friends, is the gospel. We are called to preach it wherever we go. When it's necessary use words. Otherwise preach it through your humility, kindness, and loving kindness towards others. 

Rid yourself of the entitlement attitude that gives off arrogance and conceit. Be humble. Consider others better than yourself. Imitate Christ. Be thankful and kind. Most importantly, do these things even when you don't feel like it, because Christ didn't feel like dying on the cross*, but aren't you glad He did?

* Matthew 26:39 (His prayer at Gethsemane.) My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [If You're on the Fence About Being A Stay-at-Home Mom]

I was recently put on the spot with a question that I've been thinking about ever since: "Do you regret your decision to stay-at-home?" It was asked by someone who knew I was on the fence for a long time before I made a decision and was advising a mom who was obviously also on the fence. I'm not sure I gave a satisfactory on-the-spot answer to fully describe my "absolutely not and here's why" response. Since I can't stop thinking about it, I thought I'd write about it. I figure it's on my brain for a reason. So here's ten things to think about if you're on the fence and can't decide whether or not to stay home (I've also included statements I hear all the time as women debate themselves on whether or not to stay home); perhaps they'll push you over the edge like they did me...

By the way, much of this is written from a biblical standpoint. If you're not interested in hearing what the Bible states about your job as a wife and mother, I suggest you stop reading. 

1. As a wife and mother your first priorities are your husband, children, and your home. Read Titus 2:3 where Paul is explaining to Titus what women are to teach younger women in their discipleship relationships. Among the things listed is to work at home and love your husband and children. Whether you have a job or not, your priorities should look like this: God, husband, children, home, job. As a teacher I was pouring my whole self into those kids and neglecting my relationship with my husband; and God was most definitely put in my back pocket, pulled out only in times of need and convenience. I realized, once we found out we were expecting an addition to our little family, that I could not juggle my job, relationships, and caring for my children effectively. Knowing myself, I had to drop one. Reluctantly I temporarily dropped my job as teacher. (Read more about that in my About Me page.) I have not regretted it. Sure I have moments that I miss it, but for the most part, I am beyond thankful I have the time I have with my little girls, because the time goes too quickly.

2. Soak it up, it goes by fast. The Bible calls our life a mist, "What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14) You do not know what tomorrow may bring and I'm going to spend every day with the ones God gave me to raise in the knowledge of Him. The first 3 years of my first daughters life have gone by so incredibly quickly that I have no doubt the next 3 will be just as quick. I don't want to miss out on anything for the sake of a career. What eternal value does a paycheck have? 

3. What eternal value does a paycheck have? Um, none. Even if you have a job, you could wake up tomorrow losing everything. Read Job as one example of a rich man who had everything taken from him and then read this one incredible statement Job made just after he lost it all, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Recognize that the earth and everything in it belongs to God ("Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." Job 41:11) and that He provides what you need. (Read Matthew 6:25-34.) If Jesus tells you not to worry about what you'll eat, drink or wear because He promises to give you what you need (even if it isn't what you think it should be), why should you worry about a paycheck? If a paycheck is driving your decision on whether or not you should stay home, rethink it. If you can make the payments necessary to live on one paycheck (i.e. house/rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) I encourage you to stay home. Have faith that God will take care of the rest. I promise you, promise, promise, promise that staying at home - even on a limited budget - is worth every faith building moment you'll have hence forth. By trusting in His promises your faith will increase in a God who is sovereign all the time, and you'll be able to praise Him more for every prayer answered. 

3. In fact, it might be more financially reasonable to stay at home. Day care is expensive. Is it more efficient to use half a paycheck (or more) on day care or lose that half a paycheck to stay-at-home? I don't know your finances, so this is a decision you and your spouse must make.

4. You won't be bored. You have a relationship to focus on, a Bible to read, children to feed, clothe and play with, laundry, house clean up, etc. etc. There's a plethora of things to do and not enough time to do it. If you're bored, it's your own fault. Sure you have things that need to be done, but there's lots of options (even for small towner people like myself) on things for SAHM's to do. Here's a few ideas:
  • Find a discipleship relationship.
  • Ask your pastor how you can serve in your church.
  • Visit someone in the nursing home each week (they LOVE seeing those kiddos).
  • Plan one day a week to go to the library (most libraries also have a children's story hour).
  • Find other mom's and plan a play date once a week or once a month. It gives you and your children social time, which is extremely important for both of you.
5. Seek the advice of a woman you trust. As I was in the process of deciding on whether or not to stay home there were a few women who were instrumental in helping me make a decision. I trusted these individuals because I saw the fruit of their labor (beautiful marriages, kids, and homes). One such woman (who's husband I worked with in the school) was the most influential. She was a day care provider and had so much helpful, thought provoking advice. She said something I'll never, ever forget, "Sure! I can take your child, but she'll call me mommy." That hit my like a ton of bricks. She went on to explain that the kids she has for 8 or more hours a day call her mommy; she's constantly correcting them. My own mother stayed at home with us and now has a thriving career in the police department, loving her job in the courtroom and working alongside police officers. She offered encouragement that "... you can always go back to work, but you'll never have those years with your children back..." Another teacher, who taught for 30+ years, suggested the same thing. She stayed home with her children and went back to the classroom when her own children were old enough to go to school. She said she'd never trade those first years for a 100 years of teaching. 

Jani Ortlund, in her book, "Fearlessly Feminine" had another quote that was quite influential, 
"... will you pay the price of mothering? In Where Have All the Mothers Gone? Brenda Hunter cites numerous studies showing that every child needs someone to make an "irrational" commitment to him; someone who will be there when she is needed; someone who will not pack up and go home at 6:00 p.m. Additionally, this someone must love the child more than other people's children. Who can do this better than a child's own mother? Yet we hear the chorus swelling around us, "The care of children and home are inferior occupations. The marketplace is more rewarding. Find your worth there. 
And so we face a decision. Don't let me heap guilt on your head if you must work outside your home will your children are young. I have been there, and I know how hard it is. I am writing about a decision that a working mom makes who has a choice to cut back and stay home with her children. Are we willing to give up the pluses of the working world for diapers, doctor appointments, feeding schedules, and hurried showers? We enjoy the affirmations of working outside the home - a paycheck, pats on the back, exciting challenges, and new relationships - and yet we know that our home life suffers all the while. We begin to realize that all the tangible successes in the marketplace can never mask the potent pull of mother love. But are we women enough to yield to this powerful force?" (summary of p.113-126, bolded mine
If you want more from this book and what Jani Ortlund has to say about the Price and Privilege of Motherhood, read this.

6. Mother's are irreplaceable. There is no one who can comfort like mommy, cuddle like mommy, give "healing" kisses for owies like mommy, teach like mommy, play like mommy, or even discipline like mommy. They will receive these things at a typical day provider, but it will not be like mommy.

7. Mother's are valuable. One father recognized this and wrote about it, Fathers, you can't afford a Stay-At-Home Mom. His explanation of our value is pretty uplifting.

(Side Note: All mother's are irreplaceable and valuable, whether you stay at home or not, which is why #6 and 7 are on this list... no one can replace you... not even a wonderful, loving day care provider. My point in writing those points is to reiterate a mother's worth and not devalue our job as mothers, because that would/should come before our career any day. See #1.)

8. Discipline will be different. (Relating to #5.) Day care providers are pretty stuck on what they can or cannot do about discipline issues and the world will continue to go farther and farther away from what the Bible teaches. It will be different at home than it is at day care, if you want results, you need consistency. I encourage you to read Tedd Tripp's book, "Shepherding a Child's Heart" if you want a guide as to what the Bible says about biblical discipline and I can promise you, your day care provider cannot accomplish what mommy can accomplish (and the first few years are vitally important).

9. Less stress. I cannot imagine how different my life would be had I decided to juggle being a wife, mother, and teacher. I know I'd be extremely stressed out. The thing I love about being a stay-at-home mom is that I only have to "worry" about my children and my relationship with my husband. I do not have to add the stress of a boss, students, grading papers, meetings, coaching responsibilities, late nights, no sleep, and trying to be good at it all. 

10. You won't regret it. I'm 110% positive that you will never hear someone say on their death bed, I should've earned more money. They'll say things like, I wish I would've spent more time with my family, or I wish I would've taken the time to do _____ with my daughter/son, or I wish I would've enjoyed my husband more..."

I hope these reasons push you over the edge one way or the other. Not knowing your specific situation, I encourage you to seriously consider staying home if you have the support of your husband and you can financially afford it. You will have to make sacrifices (like using one vehicle for a year, or driving an old $1,000 grandma car for awhile, or giving up eating out, etc.etc.) but 

If you want to read 10 things society tells stay-at-home mom's and my arguments to combat them, I encourage you to do so. It might help your decision.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday's Top Ten [My Talents]

There are a few things I really enjoy doing, I guess I'll call them talents...
1. Decorating. I think I have an eye to dress up a room. I enjoy putting together colors, fabric, furniture arrangement, and decor items. I debated for a long time on whether or not to do this for a living, for now it's just a hobby.

2. I've been tootin' around on the clarinet for 20+ years. I still get it out occasionally and forget how much I enjoy playing an instrument. I'm not a Benny Goodman, but I'm not squeaky either. I simply love anything involving music, like harmonizing (just don't give me the lead). I'm also not all that talented at reading sheet music (I can do it, but it takes me longer than the average joe). 

3. Crafting. I love turning junk into something, or nothing into something. Give me popsicle sticks, ribbon, scissors, a hot glue gun and I'll give you something worth hanging on your wall. (Haha, I'm exaggerating a little, but I am pretty good with a hot glue gun.)

4. Doodling. Sometimes I enjoy picking up a pen or pencil and doodling to my hearts content. I do not consider myself an artist, but I do enjoy coloring up a blank piece of paper. I even have a Pinterest board for that: I just doodled.

5. Writing. My favorite classes all through school were the english courses where I'd diagram sentences, compose creative writing pieces, read and respond to whatever I read, any journaling activities, writing research papers (okay, call me a nerd)... so this "blogging business" is one of my favorite activities.

6. Shooting a basketball. Eye on the target. Elbow in. Keep your balance. Follow through. SWISH! Shooting a basketball is like riding a bike, I never forget how awesome "SWISH!" sounds. Just don't ask me to dribble.

7. Planning Parties. I enjoy eating, socializing, playing games, dressing up, decorating... putting it all together for one big shindig is fun, fun, fun. In fact, I'm in charge of baby and wedding showers for our church and I write about them here. I've gotten pretty good at throwing a baby shower on a tight budget: How to Throw a Baby/Bridal Shower for $75 or Less! I have a board for that too: Party Planner.

8. Teaching. I have a masters degree in curriculum and instruction, but I grew up forcing my siblings to play school. I was always the teacher. It's something I always knew I wanted to do, and I'm confident in my knowledge of the profession and my ability to teach a room full of students. 

9. Shopping. I find treasures for super cheap. I'm pretty good at eyeballing the good stuff. There's only a handful of items in my closet (like my running shoes) that I paid more than $10 for. Seriously. I scour the clearance racks, promo codes, coupons, and thrift stores like it's my job. And I LOVE doing it.

10. Stretching. I know it's a weird "talent", but I'm being serious. I have to know how to stretch well after my back injury in college when I experienced the pain of two slipped discs. If it wasn't for exercise and stretching muscles all the way from my neck, shoulders, mid-lower back, butt, hammys and quads, calves and feet I'd be visiting the chiropractor weekly. Stretching has done wonders in preventing further injuries. When I was a track and field coach my athletes knew this was something I was knowledgable in and always came to me for help. One of the best parts of that job was designing workouts and pre-workouts to help multi-event athletes - stretching was a BIG part of it. I loved researching it, reading about it, implementing it, testing it and after all that I believe in active stretching before exercise and static stretching post workout. As a result I can boast in very few muscle injuries.

On that note, I'm also very good at researching. That's come from my english/language arts background and my love for history. It's hard to do any of the above (like being a good teacher, or stretching, or planning a party on a budget) without a bit of digging.

I feel like I did a lot of bragging on myself. I'm not trying to be prideful, just simply sharing what I'm passionate about because I've worked hard to acquire the knowledge or the how-to on each of the items listed. Most importantly I must recognize the fact that God has given me each of these skills and my goal in life is to glorify Him in all that I do.