Friday, June 28, 2013

This and that

I feel like I should blog more instead of all my thoughts just getting out through facebook status updates. Oh well, here I am.

Just a few things going through my mind and heart lately, all here in this post because I know better than to think I'll write an individual post all about each one.

* I am super duper happy about the small group of moms that has formed within our church. We have a facebook page to communicate about get-togethers, personal thoughts, etc. Play dates and meeting in one of the moms' home for fellowship, bible discussion and prayer has been a real blessing. As primary caretakers of little ones it's all too easy to get secluded and drown in motherhood, so it's incredibly important to build friendships with eachother. I'm hoping to connect with an older mom in a mentor-like relationship in the near future!

* Finishing kindergarten with Julia was hanging over my head so I decided to cut the stuff that wasn't working well for us and just plow through the rest so we could be officially done before the end of spring. Success! Of course, counterintuitive as it may seem, I already picked out and ordered some of her first grade curriculum for the fall. I'm looking forward to it and hope that she will continue to soar as she has been doing thus far. Although, I'm reminded once again of the truth that it's more important to sow seeds of God's word into her than academic education. Lord, help me prioritize this in my time with her! And Josiah, of course... Which leads me to the fact that sometimes I feel like he takes the back burner... like I'm just running along with her to help her grow and he just follows and copies and doesn't get as much personal attention as she does. That's so not how I want it to be! Lord help me focus on him more and meet his needs and teach him with the intensity that I give to his sister.

* I am really proud of the Summer Passport I made and gave to Julia as a kinder-grad present. The idea was inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, and it turned out to be even better than I set out for. It's super cute and Riley spiral-bound it and everything. It has pages of Places to Go, Places to Eat, Play Dates, and Fun at Home. With all kinds of fun stuff to check off. We've already done A LOT of it and it's only been 2 weeks. I will insist on at least a month break from school but we may be starting back early! Or not. We'll see. Life is learning, learning through life is joyful.

* I thought once I got down to one book, I would blaze right through it, but no, the real me is still here. I get all excited about a new book, dive into it, then plateau and ever-so-rarely pick it up to read the last 3/4 of it. And it's not because I pick boring or hard-to-read books, it's just me. I don't know if it's because I don't think I can get through a whole chapter or really focus on the topic, or what... but I wish I could just read all the books I see that look interesting, fast, learn and apply immediately, and onto the next one in a heartbeat. But no. Hmph.

* Josiah is crazy about playing with daddy, airplanes, helicopters, balls and sticks. Julia is crazy about reading. Reading, reading and reading. And I have zero complaints about any of that. What I really wish though is for them to love Jesus with all their heart. I want them to be what I want to be, what I have yet to achieve and what I sometimes doubt I ever will. Hmmm.

* The Lord has really been tugging on my heart lately, which is so good, but honestly, I haven't been responding like I should, wish I had the desire to, part of me wants to, and I know he holds out the strength for me to choose him over all other distractions, so I'm not quite sure what keeps me from running to His presence every moment that he invites me!

* Ok I guess I do know. Satan wants to sabotage my relationship with Christ. Duh. How can I sit by and let him have his way?! That's it, I'm publishing, closing the laptop and going to have some time with the Lover of my soul.

Monday, June 3, 2013

My baby girl is SIX!

We've been in California over a year now and this is the first blog post I've written. Hmm....

It's crazy that my little sweetheart, Julia Brynne, is turning six. SIX. SIX!!! I became a mom the day she was born and it has been quite a ride the last 6 years. We've had ups and downs, and being a mom has been harder than I ever imagined, but just as fulfilling as I always hoped it would be. But enough about me! 

This girl. This girl, I don't even understand how she can be so smart. She is constantly making our eyebrows raise and our chins drop. The way she discovers things and invents and creates and figures things out is absolutely astounding. The last time I checked, her reading and spelling level was that of a 4th grader or something. Woah. And her heart... oh how she LOVES to serve. Like, almost to a fault. I'm trying not to squash that in her... but sometimes she just wants EVERYONE (not just in our family, like if we're at a huge event) to have something to eat or drink, and wants to keep holding the door open well after the rest of us have already walked through, just in case someone else comes along.

And I can't forget to mention how affectionate and loving she is! I've lost count of how many precious "I love you Mommy" decorated notes she has written and given to me or hidden for me to find. She randomly comes over, gives me a hug and tells me in the sweetest, most sincere voice, "I love you Mommy"... and I know she means it, despite all my parenting failures. Julia is also INCREDIBLY curious! I am 100% sure she got that from me. People say she looks just like me, to which I always respond (either in my head or out loud), "Yep, a younger, cuter version of me". Personally I take it as a compliment because she is absolutely beautiful! I tell her that often, but I also hope she learns the value of inner beauty... gentleness, kindness, patience, humility, wisdom, bravery...

She's growing up so fast! They were right. There have been, and are still, days and weeks that seem so long but looking back the years have flown by. I almost feel guilty that I can't remember everything about her lifetime thus far! Maybe it was the sleep deprivation that blocked out some of those early memories ;) 

So right now, her favorite things to do are-- dance, sing, play games on the iPad, play with friends, swim, cook, go shopping, climb trees and READ. Her favorite TV shows are Curious George and Berenstain Bears, and her favorite songs are Ave Maria, I Would Walk 500 Miles, Jukebox Blues, Angel Eyes, Time Is A Flooded River, One Thing Remains, Happy Day.

The best part about the past year has been how her heart for God has blossomed. She's asked SO many questions about Jesus, heaven, being a Christian, etc. There were a lot of homeschool lessons at the beginning of this year that included salvation topics and I could see the wheels turning in her spirit, but didn't want to push her into saying a shallow prayer so I just waited patiently for her to make the first step. Well, on March 23rd, the Sunday a week before Easter, her teacher at church told me that during class she had raised her hand to accept Jesus in her heart. I had a lot of questions and wished that I had been there but regardless, it was the best news ever! She's still pretty shy about praying, at least in front of us, but I know that Jesus has her heart in his hands and will continue to draw her to himself and I look forward to seeing their relationship grow. The thing I want most for her is to know Jesus intimately and to walk with Him her whole life.

This little lady is a great buddy, too. I love taking her on dates and so does Riley. She's so much fun and has a great sense of humor. Her laughter is so pure and silly. She loves ice cream and just about any opportunity she has to pick where she wants to go you'll hear her say "Tutti Frutti!" (just like Josiah would-- it's our local frozen yogurt shop). It's been pretty nice getting free dessert the last couple times we've gone out to eat because of her upcoming birthday.

Julia still hasn't had her hair cut, but she does have a loose tooth! Well, two but the first one is really wiggly. Seeing that milestone come to pass will definitely be a dose of reality in how much she's growing up! We are finishing up her first official year of homeschool this month and will be moving up to first grade in the fall. Woohoo! She has been a great kindergarten student and makes my job pretty easy. Watching her handwriting improve, as well as her math skills, memorizing bible verses and learning science and history, has been so awesome. She got to go with Josiah, Lolly and Poppy to Disneyland for the first time ever in April and had a blast! I'm so thrilled that they get to live in a place of so much natural beauty. They see mountains (or at least really big hills) every day and we get to the beach every now and then too. Another highlight of her 6th year was being a flower girl in my dear friend Amanda's wedding last summer. Instead of petals, she got to scatter glitter down the aisle... how fun is that?!

The next couple weeks bring some promotion for her, too. Our church moves the kids up to their next grade class in mid-June, so she'll be moving out of the 4-5 year old class into the 1st-2nd grade class. AAHHHH!!! Also, she and Josiah take gymnastics and turning 6 will bring her out of the kinder class into the girls only 6-8 year old class. She is super excited about both of these changes!

Her friendship with Josiah has been fun to watch this year as well. Of course sometimes they scream and fight and hurt each other and refuse to share and what not, but seeing them help each other and entertain each other and work together to accomplish a goal and invite the other one to go to another room or outside to play because they have an idea and want a playmate, is so cute and totally warms my heart! I'm glad they are buddies and I hope they will always have a good relationship.

I'm so excited to give her her birthday presents! Especially her first full-length Bible! I look forward to watching her soak up God's Word =) She has requested donuts and orange juice for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch, swimming in the afternoon and burgers for dinner. As you wish, princess!

Here's a very quick trip down memory lane:
7 weeks old, first smile
2 years old
4 years old
about a month ago =)

So without further ado, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JULIA!!! You are such a blessing to our family and you bring a smile to our faces every single day. We love you so much and hope this year of being six is the best year you've ever had!

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Heartshaping Mother

---This post was a draft from February of 2012... yes, I haven't written in like a year and a half. I'd like to change that soon, blah blah blah, no promises. Figured I'd just go ahead and publish this even though it's oooold. I also attended this again in Irvine and it was just as great... but I gave my notes away so... you get last year's manna. But don't worry, it's not stinky. It's all good stuff!---

I went to the Mom Heart Conference this past weekend and it was so encouraging! This was my second year to attend and I'm so glad I did. This should definitely be a permanent event on my yearly calendar. Except next year I think I'll stay the night at the hotel. =)

Last year I blogged all my notes, and now I'm here to do the same! I hope something here will inspire you, refresh you, challenge you, and give you the joy and grace to carry on strong and passionate in your walk as a mom!

(Forgive me for any inconsistency in thought, as some of these are random, while some go along with certain themes that were spoken about in the sessions. Some are tips, some are reminders, some are words of encouragement. I'm just going straight through my notes from start to finish, not in order of importance).

The theme this year was "The Heartshaping Mother"... how to open, fill and hold your child's heart.

* Find an older woman who makes you want to love God more, and let her mentor you.

* Your children WILL mimic you-- Be, say, do what you want to see in them.

* When you feel like you lack support, make sure your hope isn't misplaced away from God-- HE is your help.

* Motherhood isn't just a sacrifice, it's a GIFT-- it's "the good works He has prepared in advance for you to do." Look at an "inconvenience" and see it as an opportunity. Embrace it!

* Entrust older children with authority to help with younger siblings.

*When they ask "Why?" say "Ill give you two guesses -- They guess right and you praise them.

* If you don't enjoy the moment while it's there, it's gone.

* They are not out to get me. They get hungry, tired, forgetful... but they DO want to please me.

* God is not finished yet! With me OR with them.

* Psalm 121:1 "Where does my help come from? The Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."

* It's never gonna get easy, but it's worth it and your capacity is greater than you think.

* Your children are your ministry. Serve as unto the Lord.

* Motherhood is the most powerful thing you can do.

* You are a supermodel! A rockstar! Kind of a big deal =)

* You have to be in God's Word, know it and share it with your kids- they WILL remember the verses you speak!

* Method for studying the Bible: SOAP- write Scripture down, Observation, Application, Prayer

* Satan lies to us when we are along-- have friends around you to encourage you and tell you the truth!

* Every morning we have to gather "manna" to nourish our souls and it will be exactly what we need for that day.

* Just as dads who are teaching their kids to ride a bike want them to get back on when they fall, and don't expect them to be perfect cyclists from the get-go, God feels the same way about us as mommies.

* Teach your kids how to write their testimony, and urge them to tell their friends.

* Teach them to read their Bible for themselves.

* Disciple them-- so they can do it on their own.

* Encourage them to serve and be exposed to pain in others' lives.

* TARGET: to walk intimately with God. Decide 1) When to have time with Him. 2) Where 3) Why 4) What you will read/study and 5) How (read, write, SOAP, mark, memorize, meditate)

* The iPod, iPad, iPhone may pacify, but only the I AM can satisfy

* Are you pacified or satisfied? Pacify = soothe agitation. Satisfy  = meet all requirements, fulfill all needs. What would happen if all we gave our babies was a paci and never fed them? Same with our spirit and soul.

* If you're not great, it's not because God didn't give you the opportunity; it's because the world gave you the opportunity to compromise and you took it.

* Do you want to build a condo or an estate? It takes years to build a legacy.

* God's goal is our heart, so our goal should be our children's hearts.

* Our goal is not morality, for them to mimic spirituality, to fill a bucket, but to LIGHT A FIRE!

* No one can live your life with integrity but YOU.

* Where are your kids going to learn unconditional love if not from you?

* I am a steward of my kids brains! "Love the Lord with all your mind."

* What do we want our kids to say about who we were as a Christian mom? We have to live that way NOW.

* God delights in using normal people to change the world, if they will just engage their hearts to be faithful!

* The wise woman builds her house (Prov 14:1)-- she has a plan! If you don't have one, someone else will give you one.

* She raises them in the Lord (Eph 6:4)-- You can't win the heart of your child if you're a Pharisee! They don't need to be indoctrinated. Don't live by rules, live by love!

* Lead them to show others God's love, to reap God's harvest. You can't live a radical life from inside a box.

* If we just don't know what do, we will follow the wrong people.

* Are you an adversary (in your face parenting) or an advocate (in your heart parenting)? Adversary is enemy based; advocate says, "I'm for you, I'm with you, and I believe in you."

* What is a heartshaping mother? She shapes with relationship that opens her child's heart with grace. She shapes with influence that fills her child's heart with truth. She shapes with culture that holds her child's heart with love.

* Our biblical model Jesus-- Our job isn't just teaching them all the facts they need to know, but to LOVE.

* A heartshaping mother's heart is shaped by God's Word-- every heart has two beats: intake and outflow. Deut 6:6-7 You cannot teach diligently to your child's heart what is not already in your own heart.

* The goal of a heartshaping mother is 1 Tim 1:5  "The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."

* Winning the battle is never easy, but it IS possible!

What makes this mommy-me-time-away different from other conferences or retreats is that instead of feeling like you don't want it to end, you spend the last session tapping your foot eager to get home and love on your kids with your fresh revelation, while simultaneously soaking up every last bit! I highly recommend you check out Whole Heart Ministry and plan to attend next year... Sally Clarkson is full of so much wisdom and grace, and I was very blessed to listen to her speak about the gift of motherhood. =)