Monday, April 21, 2014

Reflections on my Lenten challenge

Well, since Easter has come and gone, it means my Lenten challenge was completed.  I'm still amazed by how easy it was to come up with 3 blessings every day.  138 blessings in all.  The thing is, that's not nearly all of the blessings I could have listed during this time.  I could have listed 10 a day, or probably more.  This challenge has changed me.  It has helped me look for the blessings in ALL situations, to drive negative thoughts out of my mind, and to remind me of God's handiwork in all things.  When you slow down, look around you, and pay attention, it's amazing how God speaks to you.  How he reveals himself in the most usual and unusual ways.  How he tugs at your heart, lets you wrestle with the tough stuff, opens your eyes and makes known HIS plans, HIS control over your life.  I'm still a sinner, I'm not perfect, and I know that I missed blessings along the way.  I probably miss blessings every day because I'm too focused on things that aren't important.  Distractions that pull me away, take up my time, keep me from noticing and being thankful for God's blessings.

I know this blessing challenge isn't over.  I know I'll slow down and look for blessings every day.  In fact, I'll probably still record them in my journal daily, as that's now become a habit.  And maybe I'll even share a few with you now and again.  I pray that God has used my journey to challenge and inspire you to see the blessings around you.  To avoid negativity, to see the positive and God in all situations.  And my prayer for all of us is that God helps us grow closer to Him, and uses us to be agents of change for this world.  To be an example, to radiate God's love all around us.  That, my friends, is what life should really be about.

And of course, I couldn't end this post without a few blessings :)

Nothing better than a ride for a penny at Meijer.  It's a blessing when you can use that as bribery to get through the food store.

Yup, they're mine.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

We are SO blessed to be able to celebrate Easter today.  Today we celebrate the amazing sacrifice that Christ made for us.  He sent his son to die, making the biggest sacrifice of all for us.  Yet today, we celebrate new life in our Risen Lord.  We had such a beautiful day today.  Church in the morning, dinner with family, and time spent enjoying a beautiful sunny day.  I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Happy Easter!

 Brian & Kelli enjoying the sunshine

Baby Sawyer wasn't so sure about the grass yet.

Kaden taking a break from all of his running around

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lent- Day 46

136. Easter Egg hunt!  We went to an Easter egg hunt at the church we used to attend.  It's always a blessing seeing familiar faces and catching up with people we haven't seen in awhile.  Sometimes, you don't realize what a blessing those people were until you don't see them every week.  

137. Kaden's 1st lost tooth!  Kaden has had a loose tooth for a few weeks now, and it was barely hanging on yesterday.  When he came in our room this morning, he pushed it with his tongue and then couldn't find it.  He hadn't even realized it fell out and was still in his mouth, nestled nicely by his gums.  I think he was nervous about losing a tooth because he didn't know how it felt, or what to expect.  But, once he did, he was SUPER excited.  Now he makes sure that he shows everyone he sees his new grin.  I think it's pretty cute :)

Picture when we first discovered it was loose:

And after...

138. Church.  We attended the Saturday night service at our church tonight since we had to serve in nursery tomorrow on Easter.  It was a great service, and a blessing to be able to celebrate our risen Lord with other believers!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Lent- Day 45

133/134 GOOD Friday.  I mean, it was a really good start to the day.  I joked with a few people today that God must have been on my side today.  I know he's on my side everyday, don't worry.  I don't find it coincidental that my morning went as it did.  I was a bit worried about my car issue yesterday, and my ideal plan was for the car to make it to school for chapel, and then from there to the mechanic to get it checked out.  I was worried about Kaden going on the bus, getting stuck on the side of the road, and mostly just the unknown of what was going on.  Well, we decided we would all walk Kaden to the bus stop, and he was pretty calm and confident and GOT.ON.THE.BUS.  This was huge!  Then I loaded up the girls in the van- along with the jogging stroller and my sneakers in case I got stuck and had to walk home, haha!!  I started up the van and quickly drove to school praying we wouldn't get stuck.  We made it to school ON TIME for chapel, and I parked in the last row in case my car wouldn't start later.  The smile on Kaden's face when he saw that we made it to chapel was priceless.  After chapel, I loaded up the girls again, and prayed that my car would start and get us to the mechanic down the road.  It did!  And the best part- they couldn't find anything wrong with the car.  This was a good, good start to the day.  A reminder from God, that He is good.  When we put our trust in Him, all anxiety and fear are gone.  I almost dare say that He was trying to teach me something.  My day was thrown yesterday- I was anxious and concerned on Maundy Thursday.  Yet today, Good Friday, He made all things new.  My heart was in the right place this morning.  I felt humbled, renewed and refreshed- exactly as I would want to be on Good Friday.  (And yes, I counted this as 2 things- Kaden going on the bus, and no car issues :)

135. Things they say.  We ran to Costco tonight to grab a few things.  On the way home, we drove past the horses that we drive by almost daily if we're out and about.  We usually all place bets on whether or not the horses are out- we live an exciting life :)  So tonight, we placed bets and Kaden and Daddy were right- the horses were inside.  I said to the girls, "The horses are inside.  What do you think they're doing?"  Makenna replied, "Eat."  I asked her what the horses were eating for dinner.  Her reply- "Tacos."  We busted out laughing!  I asked her what else they were eating and she said "Cows."  She grinned from ear to ear as we all laughed about it the rest of the way home.  I could probably post daily about the things they say that make me laugh.  I try to remember/record some of them, but I know I miss a lot of them.  It's a blessing to laugh together with our kids!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lent- Day 44

130. Opportunities for negativity.  Today, I had several opportunities for negativity.  One of the major ones was a car issue this morning that made the day not start as planned.  It wasn't that it was a huge issue at the moment, but it was the unknown of plans in the coming days.  How will I do this/that, or get here/there without a car?  How much will it cost?  The inconvenience of car issues so close to the weekend, etc.  As I was driving home from work, God moved my heart to think about this.  Satan is working so hard to try and pull me away from this Lenten challenge.  He wants to see me react to frustrating situations with negativity, anxiety and annoyance.  But God's power is stronger.  Driving home, in the silence, I felt God speaking to me.  Reminding me that it was all under control, and eliminating the negativity about today from my mind.  I felt an overwhelming sense of peace amidst my troubled, weary heart.  I'm blessed by the random prompting to turn off the radio and drive in silence.  It's amazing how God seeks you in just the right moment, and meets you right where you are.

131. Tonight was another blessing.  I had the opportunity to get together with another great friend (I know, 2 nights in a  row!!).  We enjoyed pedicures and catching up.  I'm so thankful that God has blessed me with friends who have known me forever, who have seen me through the good, the bad and the ugly, and who continue to offer listening ears as I share my heart.  Thank you God, for moments like this that uplift my spirit.

132. My slippers.  Yes, I know, kind of a crazy blessing, but my slippers are a big deal.  Some of you know that I can't go anywhere, or really even walk at all without my slippers on.  I love my orthaheel slippers, and maybe they're granny-ish, but without them I wouldn't be able to walk.  Ever since December when I got them, I've kept them on.  When I have to get up in the middle of the night to deal with the kiddos, I wear them.  When I go to someone else's house, I wear them.  I'm not kidding when I say that I can barely walk without something on my feet anymore.  To be honest, what would be a huge blessing, would be to wake up one day pain-free in my feet.  But for now, I'm blessed with good slippers that help me keep on movin'.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lent- Day 43

127. "I guess they were hungry."  Today was kind of a crazy day/night, so pizza was on the agenda for dinner.  I put the pizza on the island and then went to grab plates to cut up pizza for the girls.  I turned around and found this.  I guess they were too hungry to wait for me to cut it up and put them in their seats.  So I embraced the moment.  I let them eat their pizza as a whole slice, with no bib on, sitting by the island.  I chose my battles in this moment, and boy, was it freeing.

128. The influence of a brother.  Kaden thought it would be a great idea to dress himself up, and make his sister look like a knight.  But he didn't stop there.  He thought it would be great to push her down the little roller coaster on the lid of the toy chest, just like that.  I have to admit, it was hilarious.  I find myself saying at least several times a day- "Kaden, please don't do that, because now your sisters are going to do that."  He goes outside, they go outside.  He jumps on the bed, they jump on the bed.  He climbs on the counter to get a cup, they do.  The girls are so impressionable and want so badly to be like their older brother, that they imitate EVERYTHING he does.  This is a reminder to me of how we bless others through teaching our children.  When we instruct our children in how to act, what is safe/isn't, how to treat others, not only are we doing this for them, but we're doing it for the people they'll come into contact with.  We're helping raise individuals who will interact and form relationships with other individuals.  Even though I feel like a broken record sometimes, continuing to remind Kaden how to act because his sisters are watching, I feel like I'm doing something right.  I'm reminding him that people are always watching us.  Others notice how we act when we say we are Christians.  God sees what we do.  I want people to see me and imitate my good behaviors, or see God in everything I do.

129. What's amazing to me is that when God knows we are weary, he sends help.  Help in the form of good friends who listen to us, talk to us, laugh with us, and share life with us.  Today I'm thankful for a night with a wonderful friend, cooking together, and sharing our hearts.  I know God knows what he's doing when he blesses us with good friends and times like that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lent- Day 42

124.  "I love you, girls."  I think I heard Kaden say that at least 4 times to the girls today.  He kept chasing them around, hugging them, and kissing them.  He is such an amazing older brother, and I know he'll always have their backs.

125. Spring snow.  Yup, it snowed today.  I'm not sure I could say it was a blessing to pull out all of the winter gear again.  Maybe it was God's reminder that He's in control, not us.  Maybe he's teaching us patience.  Patience for an amazing spring and summer to come.

126. Weary.  I feel weary.  I feel like there are so many things on my heart and mind right now.  I've been tossing and turning a lot during the night lately, which makes me physically weary.  My plantar fascitis has flared up in full force again, causing excruciating pain with every step I take.  Besides being physically weary, I feel mentally weary.  So many things on the to-do list that just keep getting transferred from one day to the next.  A few major things lie on my heart.  As I reflected on my weariness today, I couldn't help but think about how Jesus felt during this time.  He was weary.  His heart must have been heavy knowing what burden he was about to carry for us.  In only a few days he would leave his disciples here on earth, face extreme ridicule, and die.  For us.  I can't imagine making such a huge sacrifice and taking our burdens and dying to save us from our weariness.  I'm thankful that I have a Savior that carries me during my weary moments.  Who knows my heart.  Who hears my prayers.  Who watches over me, encourages me, and died for me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lent- Day 41

121. "No Daddy work, Daddy home me."  There's nothing sweeter than hearing a little voice say that to her daddy after crawling in bed with us early this morning.  These girls have a heart for their daddy.

122. Speaking of Daddy, I'm especially blessed by him today.  We knew that this morning was going to be rough for Kaden.  It's been rough getting him to go to school for awhile, and  after a break from school for 10 days, I knew the transition back today wasn't going to be pretty.  I am thankful that Andy was able to go into work a little late today so he could be another set of reason to help with the rough, rough morning.  I'm thankful that I'm not in this parenting thing alone.

123.  I'm not really sure what to call this picture.  Makenna is in her pi's, taking her doll for a walk, wearing her coat and my Uggs.  She's a piece of work.  And a huge blessing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lent- Day 40

118. Negativity and our kids.  This morning part of Jeff's sermon hit home.  He addressed how as parents we have to make sure that we're not speaking negatively about others in front of our kids.  He talked specifically about church leaders, or church events, and how this negativity can affect how our kids look at church as they grow older.  Kids are so impressionable, and what they hear us saying and how they see us acting pave the way for how they will react to certain situations.  This was just the thing I needed today.  A reminder of why I'm taking on this lenten challenge.  Why I feel so strongly about negativity and the power it can hold over us.  How it takes away joy.  How it fails to let others see God in us.  How it misses opportunities.  I don't want my kids to see me, or anyone else complain.  God calls us to do everything without grumbling or complaining, but instead to embrace opportunities with a heart of joy.  Maybe we can embrace the next challenge with a servant heart.  A heart that says, "God, I don't know about this.  I may not even like it.  But I'll serve with joy because that's what you've called me to do."

119. "Beauty all around."  Yup, that's a beauty train you see.

120. "The beauty of a sister."  I only pray that they continue to be this patient with each other.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lent- Day 39

115.  "All kids on deck"  We re-arranged the furniture on the deck today and got everything ready in preparation for spring, including some new cushions- yay!  What I love most about my deck is the opportunities it presents.  Opportunities to sit and relax and enjoy beautiful weather.  Opportunities to play with the sand and water table.  Opportunities to grill, to read a good book, to take a nap, to share a meal together.  Opportunities to enjoy conversation and fellowship with friends and neighbors, as God has called us to do.  My goal this summer is to invite different people in our lives over and sit and enjoy the deck together.  Laugh, create memories, share stories, reconnect.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for us through our deck connects this year.

116.  "Sunshine."  I have no words for this photo :)

117. "Sunglasses and jeep rides."  Did you happen to notice that Makenna and Kaden aren't wearing coats?!?  They're wearing sunglasses and enjoying jeep rides together.  Blessings abound!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lent- Day 38

112. "They're supposed to be sleeping."  I'm pretty sure they were in their beds last I checked.  Yet, somehow it's way more fun to pretend to sleep right by the door.  Honestly, I think they just wanted to be next to each other.

113.  "Smiles."  These smiles are a blessing that I could list

114. "Boxes."  It's amazing how we spend our time wishing and hoping for more stuff to entertain our kids.  More games to load on the iPad.  More cheap plastic toys that will break within a few hours.  Birthday lists and Christmas lists of unnecessary junk.  Really, all they want is a large box.  This huge box has provided more fun than any of the toys in our house have this year.  It reminds me that kids don't need things to entertain them.  They want simple things that stir their imagination.  A box to take them to a new destination.  A box to play peek-a-boo in.  A box to sit in and pretend it's a boat.  Today's blessing reminds me to treasure these simple joys.  To be different than the norm of the world, filling our lives with unnecessary stuff for our kids that will find itself in a landfill someday.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lent- Day 37

109. "New scooter."  Kaden got this new powerwing scooter for Christmas, and we finally took it out of the box and put it together again.  It was like Christmas all over again today!  He LOVES it!

110. "Lil' Miss Independent Strikes Again."  I told you she does what she wants.  Including using her little chair at the table- clearly not the right size.  I'm blessed by her independence- it keeps me on my toes :)

111. "Snacks outside."  The girls are in their glory.  All they want to do is be outside  I know I've said it already, but the weather is a huge blessing this week!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lent- Day 36

We've been trying to do different things each day to make our spring break special.  Today was "visit Daddy at work day!"  We met Daddy at work for lunch, took a tour of the amazing building, and got to meet all of his co-workers.  Everyone had a fun time!  Today's blessings all come from our visit

106. "Daddy's Work."   We are blessed that Andy has a great job that he loves.  I know we take this for granted, and we're so blessed that God has blessed us through Andy's job change!

107. "Brave."  I couldn't believe how brave the girls were around the building.  They didn't even notice the see-through floor.  Everything in the building is very open and exposed.  They didn't even seem to care that they were high up and could see through everything.  They just saw it as a major playground! :)

108. "Lil' Miss Independent."  This girl has character.  Her smile lights up the room, and she roams around doing what she pleases.  Makenna is our independent soul!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Lent- Day 35

103.  Good times with friends.  It's such a blessing watching friends all play together.  Today we had the Batts over for a playdate, and the hex bugs were quite the hit!  We are blessed to have such great friends!

104. Playing outside!  We are blessed with beautiful spring weather these days!!!

105. "Our family."  Created by Kaden

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lent- Day 34

100. Up early.  The kids were all up early today.  At first, I was NOT happy about that.  However, we all just got up and going for the day.  Everyone played nicely together, and I was able to get some laundry folded and things put away.  I checked the clock and it was only 9am.  I couldn't tell you the last time that we were all dressed and I had gotten anything done before 9am.  Today was a blessing that I needed.  A good start to a relaxing week at home for spring break.  A boost of energy to get things done, and a blessing to watch my kids all play together without fighting for a change! :)

101. "Swimming."  Today Kaden and the girls went swimming.  Pretend swimming in the living room.  I love his imagination and the way he pulls the girls right into his schemes.

102. "Church windows."  I've driven past these windows hundreds of times.  This church is just down the street from our house, yet, I don't know if I've ever really noticed them.  On my way home from teaching tonight, the windows just popped right out at me.  They were lit up and took my breath away.  I pulled into the parking lot and snapped this photo.  Upon looking at them even more, I realized that the photos I took told the story of Christ's death (center).  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was like God was telling me to pay attention to these small things that normally breeze right past my view.  These little things that remind me of God, remind me of his presence in my life, and remind me why I'm doing this challenge.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Lent- Day 33

97.  Technically this picture was taken yesterday, but I couldn't resist counting it as a blessing.  These girls truly love each other.  They care for each other, watch out for each other, hit each other, and laugh at each other.  I pray they always cherish having a sister.

98.  So to be honest, I love dressing girls.  I love finding just the right outfit, shoes, etc., and putting it all together.  But really, I love how their smiles shine their internal beauty.  When I look at them I think about the little people they're becoming.  Their love, their tender heart, their care, and their laughter.

99. Survival.  Tonight we went to a kid's event at church and we saw a family there with twins.  I'm guessing their twins were around 5-6 months old.  They were pushing around their double snap and go stroller, with 2 older kids in tow.  Andy and I smiled at each other as we watched them juggle babies.  Taking one baby out for a diaper change, then switching for the other baby.  Making a bottle (ok, I can't relate to this part), feeding two babies at once while the mom took the other ones to the bathroom.  Balancing it all, working together as a team.  Honestly, I barely remember those days.  I know they weren't that long ago, but they all seem like a blur.  At times I felt like we were in survival mode.  If I could just keep everyone alive until Andy came home from work, it was a good day :)  Times like this remind me of the blessings we've had with raising twins over the past couple of years.  Amazing friends and family who have shown us support and care.  Who selflessly gave of themselves to help.  Who understood our unique situation.  Who gave us space, gave us ears to listen, held babies, and laughed with us.  I'm forever grateful for the blessings God has given us over the past 2.5 years!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lent- Day 32

Today we took the kids to the Michigan spring game.  It was a day full of blessings, and fun time together as a family.  My blessings are all moments from today, and I'm sharing a few extra pictures with you too :)

94. This precious face

95. These two (Kaden and Maya) couldn't stop going up to the fence and watching the game. I love how they were little buddies today.

96. Our little family.  These people mean the world to me.  I feel like these blessings should count for at least 5 spaces.

Here are some other pictures from our day together:

Kaden's reaction to The Big House

Andy, Kaden and Makenna

Mommy and Maya

Go Blue!

Silly Makenna

Daddy, Makenna & Kaden

The team!

Before the game/trip to Ann Arbor

Friday, April 4, 2014

Lent- Day 31

91. "Mr. Scientist"  Kaden loves to do "experiments."  He started off his first day of spring break sleeping in until 8:30am and then doing science experiments with random things, all while in his pjs.  It was a great way to start our morning!

92. "View from above"  These 2 blessings love to catch a ride on my feet whenever possible.  It's about the only workout I can get these days.  I couldn't ask for a better view of these babes.

93. "Ice cube air hockey"  Yup, Mr. Creative today.  At least he was dressed for this picture. He came up with this crazy idea to give both of us oven mitts and then we slid the ice cube across the floor like we were playing air hockey.  Even the girls got into it.  I love his creativity!