Monday, March 31, 2014

Lent- Day 27

79.  "Bathroom Buddy"  This precious babe was all smiles watching me get ready this morning

80. "Another rough morning"  Yup.  Another rough morning.  I don't really have any words for this other than, I'm thankful for the blessing of siblings.  Siblings who will comfort each other when they're just having a rough moment.

81. "Summer clothes."  Today we tried on a few summer things.  The pile of things to get the girls to try on is huge, so we have to take a few items per day.  I couldn't help but get excited for summer to get here.  For warm days of playing outside in cute little rompers, eating ice cream, growing friendships, and pure bliss.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lent- Day 26

76.  "Sunday sing-along"  Nothing makes you feel more blessed than sitting in the car in the garage, jamming to "God's Great Dance Floor"

77.  Mr. Mike.  I don't have a photo of him, but he's Kaden's small group leader at church.  Kaden was having a rough morning and didn't want to go to his class.  After Andy gave him a little pep talk and tried to get him to go back to class, Mr. Mike raised his hands and started cheering for Kaden- "Kaden, Kaden, Kaden."  Kaden grinned and went to his group.  The people at ABC are such huge blessings in our lives.  God knew who our kids would need, who we would need in our lives.  I can't even begin to explain how God has made us realize that this is what church is all about.

78. Good food.  I love an excuse to have people over and make yummy food.  Good food was meant to be enjoyed and a blessing to those who enjoy it :)    And trust me, it tastes way better than it looks :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lent- Day 25

73. "Saturday morning doctor visit"   This makes me feel blessed to have such a great pediatrician that's open on Saturdays for all of these ear infection visits :)

74. "Naptime snuggles"  This warms my heart.  I'm blessed.  I especially love the doll  :)

75. "Trust"   Learning how to rollerblade.  I'm blessed that my kids have an amazing daddy who will forget the agenda for the day and help his little buddy learn how to rollerblade.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lent- Day 24

70. "A little big"  This blessing reminds me of how much the girls have grown.  I had the high chairs out to clean and sell them, and Makenna climbed right in.  It makes me feel blessed to see them grow up, yet a little sad on how quickly they're growing :(

71. "Pizza night"

72. "Selfie soother"  I'll do whatever it takes to get them to stop crying :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lent- Day 23

67. "It's Come to This"   Handcuffed in the corner.

68. "Can you please just play so I can make dinner?!?" 

69. "Simple joys"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lent- Day 22

64. "How Does She Sleep in Here?"  It seriously looks like it should be inside an ispy book.  How many items can you find in the nap time pack-n-play?

65. "Remembering"- remembering the hymns I heard growing up, remembering the simple style I love about MWS, remembering my Grandpa Borduin and how he would have been singing his heart out right along with me.

66. "Real-life"  Enough said.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lent- Day 20

Today was a rough day.  A really rough day.  Mostly a rough morning with a major meltdown from Kaden, resulting in a knocked tooth in the car.  Don't ask.  The rest of the day was better, but not a ton better.  The kids were crazy, I felt like I followed them around all day cleaning up one mess, and then another.  I don't even really have the words to process it right now.  I ran to the store after the kids were in bed and grabbed supplies to make brownie sundaes and a bottle of wine.  Yup, it was that kind of a day.  But, this lent challenge is keeping me going.  It's keeping me focused on God in ALL things.  In the tantrums, in the messes, in the poopy diapers, in the spilt applesauce on the floor.  It's reminding me that I have to make a choice in each of these moments.  A choice to be negative, to lose control, to give in.  And a choice to embrace each moment as a blessing, as a gift from God, as a reminder of His presence in all areas of my life, as an opportunity to see the good in all things.  So, I'll move forward.  His mercies are new every morning, and I'm already looking forward to a fresh slate tomorrow.  My anger and frustration from today are already forgotten in God's eyes, and I've been redeemed by the blood of the lamb.  Hallelujah!

This week I thought I'd take a different approach and post my blessings in pictures only.  I could come up with a lot to write about, I'm sure, but my challenge is to share little blessings from each day through pictures.  I hope you enjoy this change of pace this week.

58. "The loose tooth"

59. "Me, Papa"

60. "A rainbow for Mom"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Lent- Day 19

55. Compliment from a friend- it's amazing how far a compliment goes.  Something completely out of the blue said to you that catches you by surprise and makes you feel really good.  I'm thankful that God knows what blessings we need, and when.  I've been kind of down on myself lately, and this was a compliment that helped make my day just a bit brighter! 

56. Convicting studies- I'm blessed to be part of an amazing small group through ABC.  We're going through a finance Bible study right now, and it's been great so far.  What struck me today was how convicting it is to be studying truths right there in my face, with friends who are there to support and encourage me on this journey.  We spent a lot of time talking about money, what God wants from us in this area, and how we need to change our mindset and remember whose money it is in the first place.  I know that God is using this study to move my heart, to challenge me, to convict me and things I put too much emphasis on at times.  It's a blessing to be part of the family of God as we grow together!

57. Fighting fires- Kaden came out of his room dressed like a firefighter after dinner tonight. He insisted that we all help him.  I glanced at the clock and knew that it was bedtime.  But I knew this was important.  I got the girls all dressed and ready to fight the fire, and I wore the hat Kaden bought me from his "store" at school this Christmas.  You should have seen the smile on his face when he saw that I was wearing it.  Once again, I'm continually reminded about taking joy in the little blessings.  The blessing of kids with imaginations, the joy it brings them when I put the normal routine aside for 15 minutes and take the time to play.  This goes a long way for kids, and I pray that I continue to embrace these moments before they slip away.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Lent- Day 18

52. A smile across the room- Kaden had tball training at a local church this morning.  He was a little bit nervous about it because he didn't know anyone else who was going to it.  Well, right before it was about to start, our friends and neighbors walked in.  Kaden loves playing with his buddy Cole, and I loved watching Kaden's face light up, his smile stretching from ear to ear when he saw Cole walk across the room.  I'm thankful that I wasn't distracted by anything else, and that I was attentive enough to watch Kaden's face, knowing he would be excited.  I know that God brought Cole there to help calm Kaden's fears, and I'm thankful for little blessings like this that warm our hearts.

53. Coloring- I spent 30 minutes coloring with the girls this morning at Kaden's practice.  It felt so nice to just sit and spend that time with them this morning.  I wish I could say I did this everyday.  Why does it take a time where I'm forced to stay in one location for a couple of hours, for me to sit and color for such a long time with the girls?  Maybe it's because at home we all have distractions, and it's harder to do that.  Maybe my priorities get out of whack every once in awhile, and I'd rather fold laundry while the girls color.  Maybe the laundry can wait and the coloring should happen more often.

54. Diaper changes- the girls have taken a liking to changing each other's diapers.  It's quite entertaining.  I managed to capture this moment today on camera.  Times like this remind me of how blessed I am to have these twinners.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lent- Day 17

49. Driving up to the mailbox- today I was able to drive up to the mailbox to put something in it on my way to work.  I couldn't even tell you the last time I was able to do that.  A hopeful blessing!

50. Energy and excitement- my students at Calvin were quite crazy during class today.  Energy and excitement filled the air since spring break would begin later that day.  I realized that it is so much more fun to teach a room full of students who are energized and excited.  I'm sure they would have rather been driving to FL than in class that afternoon, but they were there (well, most of them).  Happiness is contagious, and if we surround ourselves by people who are positive and happy, it can only have a positive impact on us.  However, if we surround ourselves with people who are negative all of the time, it can bring us down and cause us to be negative about unnecessary things.  This negativity can cause us to miss the blessings all around us.

51. Getting lost in the farmlands- I had to pick Kaden up from his friend's house this afternoon when I was done teaching.  I was running late and in a hurry, and decided to take what I thought would be a quicker, more direct route.  Well, I was wrong.  I ended up being lost for about 15 minutes (um, hello, why did it not occur to me to pull up the map on my phone??) driving around in the middle of Byron Center farmlands.  I've always been intrigued by the idea of living out in the middle of nowhere, where my neighbors are out of sight in every direction.  There must be something nice about having lots of space for kids to run, completely embraced by childhood, by nature, by a slower pace of life.  Don't get me wrong- I LOVE where we live, and I can still embrace these things.  However, I think that God forced me to get lost among the cows to slow me down.  To remind me that it's not a race, that life will go on if I'm 15 minutes late, that we need to embrace a simple life.  A life where we can run, play, and enjoy the beauty around us.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lent- Day 16

46. Clean floor smell- I love that my day started off by walking into the kitchen and seeing and smelling the clean kitchen floor that I had washed the day before.  There's just something that makes the day seem wonderful, even before the chaos of the day breaks out.  Our kitchen floor stays clean for pretty much the 12 hour night after it's washed, only to get milk drops, water stains, food crumbs, and pencil shavings all over it.  That's just the way it is with 3 kids under age 6.  So today, I'm blessed that I could start off the day with a clean floor.  It actually motivated me to vacuum, make the bed, tidy up around the house, and throw a load of laundry in all before 9am.  I'm amazed at how the small accomplishments can totally change the way I look at a day, so today I'm thankful for and blessed by a clean kitchen floor.

47. A load of laundry folded- As you've probably been able to figure out, this week has been a bit rough.  However, it started off pretty good, and this afternoon I was able to get a load of laundry folded.  One small dent in the large pile in the laundry room, but it made a big dent in my attitude today.

48. Making Sawyer happy- we got to watch baby Sawyer for a couple of hours today.  She didn't get a good morning nap so she was a little grumpy.  What was cute was watching the kids take every single toy out of the cupboard to try to make her happy.  The poor girl was probably overstimulated from all of the attention.  I love watching my kids interact with Sawyer.  They love their baby cousin, and I'm so excited to see how they grow closer as they grow up.  Especially since they'll be living right around the corner from us! :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lent- Day 15

43.  Knee surgery- My mom had knee surgery today, and everything went really well.  Today I'm blessed with doctors and health care systems that provide good care for loved ones.  I'm thankful for relief from pain, and for healing and restoration.

44. Pizza for dinner- Today I just really didn't have the energy to think about making dinner.  Nothing sounded good, and I hadn't thawed anything before I went to work today.  So instead, we ordered pizza.  Sometimes, the privilege of being able to order a pizza and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes without any preparation from me, really, truly, is a blessing.

45. Grace for the moment- Today started out a little rough.  Kaden had a meltdown this morning about a bunch of random things.  It was a rough start for him.  He ended up missing the bus, I had to bring him to school, go back home for the forgotten hat for outdoor recess, and drop him off to school late. As a result, I was late for my meeting at work.  As I drove to work this morning, recalling the events of the unexpected start to the day, I couldn't help but give thanks that God gives me grace for the moment.  Sometimes, on days that start off on the wrong foot, the only thing that gets me through is God's grace.  A blessing more than I really deserve.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lent- Day 14

40. An arm around me- Our nap time routine consists of me rocking Maya in her room, and then laying in our bed with Makenna for a few minutes before putting her to sleep in a pack n' play in there.  When I was laying in bed with her today, she looked at me, and put her arm around me, underneath my head.  She snuggled right up to me, and it was at that moment that I felt the warmth inside that only a parent's love can feel.  An inexplicable love, a strong love, knowing you would do anything in the world to savor that moment, and one that I need to remind myself of on the rough days.

41. Rough day- today was a rough day for everyone.  I feel like Tuesday are like that for some reason.  Maybe it's because Kaden doesn't have school and so everyone is home all day.  Maybe it's because I always have a to-do list of laundry, cleaning, etc.  I'm not really sure what it was.  Nothing on the to-do list got accomplished today.  Kids were grumpy, the house was in worse condition when the day was over than when it began.  I find myself trying to figure out the root of the problem on days like this.  In all honesty, maybe today didn't go very well because of my distracted attention.  Maybe I spent too much time trying to get other stuff done, that I didn't take the time to play, or distract them from getting into trouble.  As much as I don't like these days, I'm thankful that they come around every once in awhile.  They remind me to think about being the best parent I can be, and to make sure that my attention and my heart are focused on what's really important.

42. Grilled chicken- we fired up the grill again today.  It felt so nice to sit out on the deck, enjoying the sun's rays beating on me as I grilled dinner.  It gave me a sense of joy after a rough day, a reminder that summer is coming, a renewed sense of hope.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lent- Day 13

37. The list- I was cleaning up the message center today and Kaden's to-do list from this weekend re-surfaced.  What strikes me about this list (besides the literacy coach's writing lessons, haha), was what Kaden was really asking for.  The list reads- "Look at riding lawn mowers, clean the garage, play outside with my sisters, work in the garage, eat breakfast, lunch, dinner."  Clearly he is concerned about eating, haha!  However, the rest of the list screams one thing to me- time with family.  He knew he wanted to look at lawnmowers and work in the garage with his daddy, and he loves spending time with his sisters.  What he was craving was time.  Time spent with family.  Not busy activities to fill our day.  Not little tasks that "have" to get done on our to-do lists.  But, time.  This was God's reminder to me that our kids want us.  They don't want us to fill their schedules with activities to keep them busy, they don't need us to buy their happiness or entertain them from thing to thing.  They want us.  Our attention.  Time spent, one-on-one time, family time.  At the end of the day, this is what I want my kids to remember.  I want them to remember the time I took to play.  The time I took to laugh, create, read, relax, imagine.  Not the stuff I bought them or places I busied myself taking them to.

38. Brother's hugs- I wish I had been able to capture this moment on camera.  Maya was upset after her nap because she bumped her head on the chair.  Right as she started crying, Kaden walked in the door from the bus.  She immediately ran to him, he put his arms around her, and she buried her head into his shoulder.  He comforted her, rubbed her head, and helped wipe her tears.  It was precious.  It was one of those moments when you stop and remind yourself that maybe you are doing something right as a parent.  I hope that he never stops being the protective, loving brother that he is to his sisters.

39. Sisterly love- I guess my kids were just in a loving mood today.  They love to hug each other, comfort each other, play together, and fight with each other :).  I love how this picture shows their character.  This is completely their pose, 100%.  I told them to stand by the wall so I could take their picture and this is what I got.  It warms my heart.  I love seeing their relationship with each other grow, their love for each other deepen, and their smiles bring cheer to each other during the tearful times.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lent- Day 12

34. The touch of a mother- I'm glad that I slowed down enough to catch this moment.  Makenna really loves her babies, and I'll often find her sitting and feeding the baby or rocking her dolls.  Sometimes I use the opportunity of kids happily playing as a time for me to quick get something done.  However, I'm glad this time, I was relaxing (it was Sunday afternoon of course) and could savor this little mother doing her job.  It was precious.

35. Signs- I'm realizing that God gives us signs.  Ok, I've always been a "signs" person.  Back when I was in high school I prayed for a sign to help guide me in choosing a college.  The same day I got a scholarship letter from Calvin College.  That was pretty clear as day.  Yet, had I not prayerfully sought God in that situation, I may have missed the God sighting right in front of me.  God's signs are all around us, yet sometimes we're too busy to even notice them.  We ask for answers, we pray for guidance, and we selfishly try to come up with our own solutions.  Or we're too stubborn or self-centered to notice them.  Today I was reminded of signs that God sends.  Things fall into place, things just feel right, and yet we don't notice God's handiwork in them.  Maybe God wants us to slow down enough to notice His presence in our lives.  That we see everything as a part of His plan, that we trust him with the unknown, that we look with open eyes towards sightings of God all around us.

36. Special party juice- You really needed to be there in order to appreciate this one, but it was still funny.  Andy and I helped teach the girls' class at church today, and the lesson was on God turning water into wine.  We had to talk about special party juice and do a little experiment to show the miracle.  All of us adults in there had a lot of fun in there this morning.  It reminded me of how thankful I am for the teachers in this class, and how several of them dedicate to teaching every single week.  They know our kids, they love our kids, and they have fun with our kids.  I'm blessed that God used a fun lesson to remind me how thankful I am for the market volunteers at ABC.

Lent- Day 11

31. Naptime cuddles- The warmth and rosy cheeks of a child who just woke up from a nap are one of those things I wish I could bottle up and treasure forever.  When I get the girls from their room after nap time, I love their reach for me to hold them.  I love that they're still groggy, that their breath smells delightful, that they're still warm and cozy.  I love bringing them out to the couch and snuggling with them, waiting for the other sister to wake up, or for big brother to come home from school, or for the fatigue to pass and their energy to regain full strength.  There's something just so heart-filling about snuggling up and grabbing those cuddles when I can get them.  I savor these after nap cuddles, and feel awful when I'm unable to do that on some days.  I know these cuddles will end soon, and maybe it's me wanting to hold on to my babies, who are turning into little girls.  Whatever it is, I'll keep snuggling until they don't let me  :)

32. TWLF- Tonight we went to an auction for a friend whose family helps support an organization for suicide awareness.  What was amazing was how the family pours their heart and soul into this organization in order to help others who have experienced loss through suicide, just as they had.  Their goal is to provide resources for others who might have friends or family members showing signs of being suicidal, and support for families who have experienced loss as a result of suicide.  It was hard to not feel blessed sitting there.  Looking around, it was clear that every person in one of those bright yellow shirts was there for a reason.  They love people, they love showing support, their hearts are heavy, they want to help, they want to raise awareness, they care.  They care deeply.  They are an inspiration to all of us, an encouragement, a reminder to think outside of ourselves.  They are using a difficult situation and turning it around as an opportunity to help others.  All of us have gone through difficult situations.  I'm not sure if we can all say that we've used those difficult situations as opportunities to help others.  Maybe, just maybe, God has us go through difficult situations so that he can use those opportunities to change lives.  To open our eyes, to reach out to others, to call his children closer together.

33. Meltdowns- Ok, so maybe I'm not thankful for my children's meltdowns.  But I know something more is usually going on.  Tonight, before we left to go to the auction, all 3 of our kids were standing by the garage door crying their eyes out.  Poor Grandma Rysdam was trying to keep them all in the house, meanwhile dodging Kaden's kicks and screams.  I watched from inside the car as Andy tried to get Kaden to stay inside the house, as Grandma held the girls back from rushing out to the car, as the tears streamed down their faces.  After about 5 minutes of watching this sheer chaos, I got out of the car.  I picked up the girls, calmed them down, changed their diapers (which they did NOT want Grandma to do).  Andy got Kaden settled down, and we took 5 minutes to get things under control.  We reassured them that it was ok for us to leave every once in awhile, that we would be back, that they would be well-cared for by Grandma.  I think sometimes kids just need that extra hug. Yeah, we needed to get going.  Yeah, we wanted all of the kids to listen and stay inside.  But, they're kids.  They're human.  They remind us that they love us, they need the extra hug goodbye, and they feel safe and secure with their Mom and Dad.  It feels good to be loved, even if I need a meltdown to remind me of that sometimes.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lent- Day 10

28. Teeth brushing- Maya requested that Kaden brush her teeth tonight.  As a great big brother, he gladly took the time to carefully help her brush her teeth.  I'm amazed at his patience with his sisters and that in the bedtime rush, we let him help her.  We knew it would take longer and possibly make a mess, but we made the choice to let it be.  I'm learning more and more that in parenting, sometimes you just allow your kids to do things because it's the right thing to do.  It may take longer, it may make a mess, but it makes memories and good kids in the process.
29. Playing school- I couldn't help but smile as I played school with the kids downstairs today.  Kaden grabbed a Bible and told us a story, I played the piano for music time, we had recess, snack, and reading time.  I played school A LOT (ok, like most of my childhood... probably when I was in high school too, ha!!), and since school is in my blood, I clearly loved this.  I love that Kaden loves school and soaks it all in.  He insisted on calling me Mrs. R and that we had to do things JUST like he does at school.  I love his age and that he still loves school and craves routine.  I hate that he'll lose the "we have to do it this way in school because this is the only way to do it" mindset.  I don't hate that he'll grow up, but I love the childhood innocence that comes out in situations like this.

30. Singing together- While we were playing school, we had music time and I sat at the piano and played songs that the kids knew.  We all gathered around the piano and sang several renditions of our favorites.  Maya really loves playing the piano and tried to help me play.  It was certainly not our best performance, but we sang together, and that's what mattered.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lent- Day 9

25. Kids who played together- Some days it seems like all 3 kids do their own thing, other days it seems like they fight all day long.  Today, however, they all got along.  They all played in the basement together so well for about an hour.  Enough time for me to clean the basement and bathroom, shower, and get myself dressed.  It was glorious.  I'm feeling blessed that I can trust my kids to play house together, and I love seeing them interact with each other.  I love hearing their laughter and planning as they make baby food for the babies (haha, wonder where they got that from), took the dolls shopping, and even had the dolls help me clean the basement while they were playing.  There were times when I ever wondered if we'd get to this point.

26. Singing and rocking- At nap time today, Maya was asking for Kaden to rock her.  I was in our room putting Makenna down for a nap (we separate them for nap time), and I could hear Kaden rocking Maya and singing songs to her.  It was the sweetest thing I heard all day long.  There's nothing that warms your heart more than when you hear your 5.5 yr old singing "Jesus Loves Me" to his 2.5yr old sister.  Be still my heart.

27. Adult conversations- I was blessed to have adult conversations with some friends over dinner tonight.  We actually got to go out for a real dinner, and it was such a breath of fresh air to spend some time catching up, laughing, and talking.  I'm thankful for these moments that help me be me, and remind me that relationships are a blessing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lent- Day 8

22. Daily batch of cookies- This morning I was reminded about a person I know who chooses to do a specific action every day for someone.  Part of her morning routine is baking a batch of cookies for someone, and every day, someone else gets to enjoy this.  It's something she doesn't even think about anymore.  She just does it, and blesses someone else.  Even though I don't actually know this person, I've only enjoyed the cookies through a friend, it reminded me of some of our sermons during this satisfied series.  What if we chose to do something every day that brought us out of our own worlds into serving someone else that day?  How could we be a blessing if we were purposeful about putting others first every day?  How many more people could be blessed when we can look outside our own lives?

23. Perspective- Maya was playing with my phone while I was changing her diaper, and she happened to take 100 pictures of this same view within the 2-min diaper change.  I think she may have been my voice of God today, trying to tell me something.  This picture represents what she sees every.single.time I change her diaper.  What a lovely view.  When I change her diaper, I get to look at her pretty face.  She sees her feet, and a shelf on the wall.  I could change diapers in my sleep I've changed so many of them.  My point here is this.  What if we looked at a mundane task we've done SO many times from a different perspective?  Would it change how we viewed the situation?  Could we learn something from looking at the other perspective?  I'm going to challenge myself to look at something in my life that has become a routine task, from a different perspective today.  Maybe it will change my outlook on a lot of things.  What perspective will you change today?

24. Running around without clothes on- the girls decided it would be fun to strip down and run around with only their diapers on today.  They do this often.  They also insisted on trying on their new shoes and wearing them around the house.  And they posed like this completely unprompted.  I think that's why I love this picture.  It shows their joy from doing something so simple, yet they were completely happy.  And it didn't matter what they were wearing.  I'll admit that sometimes I worry too much about outward appearances- for myself and my kids.  When all is stripped away, who we are is still there.  We're still fun.  We're still uniquely created.  These girls are beautiful- their smiles and personality capture who God has created them to be.  I want to celebrate who we are more than what we look like.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lent- Day 7

19. Access to good dental care- I love our pediatric dentist, and Kaden loves it.  I'm blessed that we live in an area where I don't even think twice about good health care.  Going to a dentist, a pediatric dentist no less, where my insurance pays for my trip and my kids feel comfortable is a huge blessing that I take for granted.

20. Spontaneous mall trip- we were in and out of the dentist pretty quickly, so I asked Kaden if he wanted to run to the mall quick since I had to make a return.  He was pretty excited about it.  It turns out we had a pretty fun morning at the mall.  We window-shopped, took lots of rides down various elevators (since the main one in the center was broken), shared pretzel bites, picked out a new watch for Kaden, and had lunch at Panera together.  My phone even got to take a nice swim in a public restroom toilet.  Don't ask about that one.  This was a non-planned trip, yet the kids actually all enjoyed it and no one had a melt-down :).  On the way home Kaden said, "Thanks, Mom, that was fun.  We never get to do fun things like that at the mall!"  I needed this time spent with my kids today.  Not necessarily at the mall.  But a chance to just be in the moment and enjoy each other.  Otherwise I'm fairly certain that we would have gone home and focused on the "to-do" list for the day.  

21. Non-working internet- our internet wasn't working today, and that was a good thing for me.  It forced me to avoid temptations to check Facebook or my email every little bit, and attend to the things and little people that needed attention in my house.  God knows when we need clear reminders of what takes too much of our time on some days.  Thanks for the clear nudge today, God! :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Lent- Day 6

16. Come, Just As You Are- for some reason this song popped into my mind this morning, and I can't seem to get it out.  I think that God is trying to tell me that no matter how flawed or sinful I am, it doesn't matter.  I need to bring my whole self, as I am, to the throne.  Wow.

17. An unexpected blessing for a friend- I found out today about a friend who is having a baby.  She's had quite a few health problems, and they have one daughter already, but this pregnancy is quite a surprise blessing for them.  They never imagined they would be able to have any more children.  Her pregnancy is going really well, and her health is stable at the moment, too.  I'm reminded that God works in unexpected ways to grab our hearts and remind us of HIS plan for us, not ours.  God is good!

18. Girls singing in the car- The girls have really started to enjoy singing lately.  As we were on our way home from running errands, they just started singing some of the Bible songs we've been singing with them lately.  So for 10 minutes, the 3 of us belted out some fine renditions of "Jesus Loves Me," "Jesus Loves the Little Children,"  "God you've given us," "The wheels on the bus," "Twinkle, Twinkle," and "The B-I-B-L-E."  That was the best way I could have spent that trip home from Costco.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Lent- Day 5

13. "Sweet, Mom!  We're using the grill?!?  It's like it's almost summer!!"  said Kaden before lunch today.  The deck is finally cleared off enough where we can actually see/get to/use the grill again.  We haven't been able to use it in months because of all of the snow, and I'm glad we could fire it up again today.  My family tells me the steak dinner I made tasted good, even though I can't taste anything right now :(

14. Uncle Brian- Uncle Brian babysat for the kids when we had small group today.  The kids love playing with Uncle Brian, and we had a great time catching up with him over dinner.  We love spending time with Uncle Brian and we're thankful he loves our kids!

15. Balanced quote- our small group is studying the "Balanced" study by Andy Stanley.  This is a great follow-up to our church's sermon series on being satisfied.  The Balanced study walks us through some important financial concepts, and asks us to continue thinking about money from a Christian perspective.  Today during our study, this quote really popped out at me, and I can't get it out of my mind.  "Jesus doesn't need your money.  He's not trying to get your money.  He wants to make sure that your money doesn't get you."  I know that I'm guilty of this sometimes; thinking about the next thing we "need" to buy, or the next consumer product I'm certain I must have.  However, what Jesus wants is to make sure that our money doesn't get us.  That money doesn't control our thoughts, actions, or decisions.  Instead, that my relationship with Christ consumes my daily thoughts, actions, and decisions.  This is one of those reminders that continues to hit me hard during this Lent challenge.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Lent- Day 4

10. A church that is real: We went to a membership class today for ABC, and one of the things the campus pastor mentioned was that they aim to be culturally relevant.  They want the music to be culturally relevant, designs, media, issues, etc.  The pastor also made a comment about how no issue needs to go unhidden- we can talk about anything there.  Andy & I have talked about how much we appreciate this.  We all know that we all have issues- we are all sinners after all, aren't we?  So why go to church on Sunday, look pretty and pretend that everything is perfect in our lives?  I'm so over that.  Be real.  Be who you are.  Embrace those who are struggling.  Love everyone despite their faults.

11. Lotion tissues: My poor nose is taking some real abuse from this 2-week long cold.  I'm thankful that lotion tissues exist so they get at least some relief from this ridiculous cold.

12. Dirty melting snow: I really hate this part of winter/spring.  Half-melted snow piles on the side of the road.  Dirty, full of trash that's been scooped up by plows during those long winter months.  Despite the ugliness of these piles, I'm blessed because I know what's underneath them.  Grass.  Color!  Warmer temperatures.  Each day as I drive past these half-melted snow mounds, they get just a tad bit smaller, and I get a *tiny* glimmer of hope that spring is actually coming someday.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Lent Day 3


7. An uninterrupted night of sleep last night.  I couldn't tell you the last time all 3 kids slept through the night, and I've been battling a cold for 2 weeks now and really needed the rest.  HUGE blessing to me today!

8. Sun-warmed car.  The sun was shining today, and it warmed up my car enough for me to take my coat off in the car.  And the temperature on my car read 48*.  That's a pretty big deal in this snowy MI winter.  It gave me hope that spring is coming.  The changing of seasons and new life blooming as grass comes up and flowers sneak through the snow is such a refreshing feeling after such a long winter.

9. Kaden's Friends.  We had Family Fun Night at school tonight, and Kaden had so much fun running around with his buddies.  We were amazed at how quickly they all found each other and ran around together.  I was reminded of the blessing of community, how God calls us to live in community with one another.  I'm also thankful for the blessing of BCCS and how it has brought Kaden some great friends!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lent Day 2

Blessings continued on day 2....

4. Unexpected encouragement from a friend

5. Spilled cereal in the closet and broken makeup. I was rushing around this morning trying to get everyone ready for a playdate and I was already running late.  My patience was wearing thin, and after putting socks on the girls for the 3rd time this morning, I turned to grab their shoes from the closet and noticed that Maya had spilled her cereal on the floor in the closet.  Since I was already crabby about several incidents this morning, I normally would have lost it.  I sighed, LOUDLY, and turned to look at Maya.  Only when doing so, did I realize that she had knocked it over when she was trying to reach for her shoes.  She was trying to be a big girl, trying to help her frazzled mama, and accidentally knocked over her bowl of cereal.  

     Fast forward 5 minutes.  I was putting my makeup on before we walked out the door, and Makenna reached for my makeup holder and knocked it off the counter.  I watched as it crashed to the floor.  The plastic case cracked, along with my blush and eye shadow- cracked into 30 pieces all over the floor.  I have to admit.  I yelled.  I was almost at my breaking point by now.  However, I know this precious babe just wanted to be like her mama.  She's looking up to me as an example, and trying to get my makeup and put it on would make her just like me.

     On only day 2 of this experience, I'm realizing that a lot of the change happening in me is perspective.  I could look at the negative of these two experiences- two inconveniences this morning that created a mess that I needed to pick up.  Or, I could look at them as blessings.  Things to slow me down in my hurried, frenzied mess, to remind me that life goes by too quickly.  I have two girls who want to help, who are trying to grow up way too quickly, and want to be just like their mama.  I want to teach them the patience of Christ, the joy in all situations, and not yell and be quick to react to the "problem." As I reflect on this now, I can't help but tear up.  God is teaching me to slow down, to enjoy these moments, because before I know it, they'll be gone.

6. Neighbors who couldn't play today.  I know, it sounds funny, but hear me out.  Kaden had asked if he could play in the snow with his friends this afternoon, and when he went over to their house to ask, they weren't available to play.  He came inside, bummed, and asked, "now what am I going to do, Mom?"  I suggested he sled down the side of the house, like he always liked to.... but by himself. I took a look at my messy house, thought about the dinner I should start, and made a decision.  "Girls, we're going to go outside and play with Kaden."  Now, I have to tell you, this is a big deal.  Judge me if you want, but my girls haven't been outside to play in the snow yet this winter.  For awhile, it's been freezing, or way too much snow for them to play in.  They don't like being cold, and it's not like they've been begging to play outside.  They're pretty content staying inside and watching through the windows.  But on Tuesday, they were all asking to play outside and I avoided it.  I was selfish.  Honestly, I didn't feel like getting everyone all bundled up to end up back inside within 10 minutes.  But today would be different.  I bundled everyone up and brought the girls outside.  I wish I could have captured the look on their faces.  Mostly, I wish I could have felt Kaden's heart when he saw that we all came outside to play with him.  My heart felt warm for him.  He didn't even have to say anything.  The look in his eyes said it all.  Joy.  Had the neighbors been available to play, I never would have felt the spirit nudge me to take the time to play.  To put the messy house and my own agenda aside and just play.  To capture those smiles, and hear their squeals as they went down the little hill on their sleds.  I'll take that over a messy house any day.

 All bundled up!

Makenna and Kaden sledding down the hill together 

Maya trying to walk in the snow :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Lent- Day 1

Today, I'll offer some explanation to my list of blessings so you can see where I'm going with this.

1. Giggling children in the bathtub- I could have chosen to be mad about the fact that they splashed water everywhere and were yelling and screaming, but I chose to savor the moment.  Kaden was entertaining the girls in the tub and those giggles, man.. I could listen to that sound all day long.

 2. Note from Kaden- I told Kaden to get his pjs on about 3 times, and when I went in to check on him, and he STILL hadn't done it, I could have chosen to yell or be angry.  Instead, he was grinning from ear to ear and couldn't wait to show me what he made for me.  It says, "You're exhausted Mom and Dad.  But you're the best Mom and Dad."  I asked him about this.  He said he knew I was exhausted from cleaning the bathroom and the mess they made, but I was still the best Mom anyone could ask for.  Had I been upset and angry and pushing him to stop making a mess and get his pjs on, I would have completely missed this moment.  A moment God knew I needed.

3. My nap time snack.  Normally, I busy myself with 1,000 tasks that need to be done as soon as the girls are in bed.  Today Kaden was in school, and I was home early from work, so I chose to enjoy some much-needed chocolate and coffee and sit in a quiet house thinking and praying.  That was a gift.

Lent. Giving something up?

Around this time of year, many feel the pressure to "give up" something for Lent.  Many people like to post it on FB, or give something up, just to say they did it.  I've done some thinking about this.  I don't want to give something up just so I can post it on FB and feel better about myself.  Isn't the real reason we "give up" something so that we can then spend our time refocusing our hearts on the seriousness of this season?  Sure, I could give up Facebook.  But to be brutally honest, I don't know if instead of reaching for my phone to check FB randomly throughout the day, if I would actually reach for my Bible instead.  Of course, I should, but I don't want to set myself up for something that will cause more stress or pressure on me that I'm not sure I can actually achieve.  I think that would kind of defeat the purpose wouldn't it?  I could give up candy, or TV (which I hardly ever watch anyways), or soda (that would be the easy-way out since I've already given that up).  But really, truly, what will help me focus my heart on what's most important during the Easter season?

So this year for Lent, I'm not giving anything physical up.  I'm making a choice.  I'm choosing to see the positive in all situations, to keep negativity and judgments inside, to pray for God to make me more like him each and every day.  I'm a sinner, and I know I've been freed by the blood of Christ.  Focusing on eliminating judgment and negativity will make me feel more challenged to be like Jesus than giving up FB or candy or soda ever will.

In order to keep me accountable in this adventure, I'm going to keep a gratitude journal.  I'll record 3 blessings in my life each day, focusing on things I already "have" and being content and satisfied in my life.  Part of my inspiration has come from a sermon series we just finished up at church regarding being satisfied and avoiding the consumer-driven hungers of today's society.  I want to share my journey with all of you, so I'll be blogging my thoughts every day.  I'm hoping to capture some of these blessings in photos and just being real about my life.  I'm not perfect.  I'm a sinner who is sometimes a crabby mom, an impatient wife, a bad friend, a judger of myself.  However, I acknowledge these faults and give thanks that I've been saved and renewed by Christ my Savior.  His blood has washed me clean and my mercies are new every morning.  This is something I want to celebrate.

I've been hoping to blog more in 2014 and use my "real" camera instead of my phone all of the time, so I'm hoping this Lent season will help me stay focused on my goals, too.  I know I'm not all caught up in my blog posts from the past few months, but I'll keep working on that, I promise.  But for now, you know where my heart is.  I pray that whatever you choose to do for Lent, that you can say it really helps you focus on the sacrifice Christ made for all of us.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Upward Basketball

We've been spending a lot of our time this winter at Corinth Reformed Church for Upward Basketball.  Kaden played flag football this fall through Upward, and we really loved the program, so we signed him up for basketball this winter.  He had practice one night a week and then a game on Saturday.  He was a bit apprehensive in the beginning, but really opened up and did well by the end.  He was best at playing defense- there was no way the other guy was going to make a shot when Kaden was blocking.  He scored some baskets, and really developed a love for basketball.  I love seeing him grow through new situations and feel successful at what he loves.  The girls loved playing on the sidelines during practice, and we all loved being able to cheer him on.  Looking forward to next year already.  Thanks, Upward for a great season!

 Makenna enjoyed being a spectator

Maya hanging out :)