It’s a ……..

Standard

BOY!
Image 2

IMG_1825
IMG_1826These men and I are proud to announce that we will have another precious baby boy in our family!  This little dude, expected to arrive May 19 2014, will be blessed with 2 big brothers to love him, play with him, make him laugh, and I’m sure all kinds of unimaginables!

I have moments of feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having a newborn boy this spring, with a newly 4 year-old boy, and a 22 month-old boy.  The first two dudes daily surprise me with their capacity of energy and passionate personalities!  Yet I know that having another incredible little baby boy in our family is a part of God’s beautiful plan!  And I’m completely honored that He would entrust my husband and me to parent and shepherd this child who will change the world!

joy: Today my husband put his hand on my belly and felt our little baby boy kick for the first time!

Image

Comfort vs. Character

Standard

A series about entitlement on Pass the Bread got me thinking.

I don’t believe that we would intentionally choose to overindulge our children, but it can creep in.
I don’t think that we would  purposefully decide to let our kids feel entitled to things that they really haven’t earned, but it happens.
And sometimes it can be difficult to differentiate the best way to love them when there’s an opportunity for character development through discomfort.

Although there are many different circumstances that influence parenting, I believe that one of the biggest factors that feeds into entitlement in our culture is the glorification of comfort.  Actually, even in our adult lives, when we value comfort more than character development, we will feel more entitled to things that we haven’t actually earned.

For example, last night our Little Man gave us another opportunity to choose between comfort and character development.

Little Man: “Daddy, can I have a cookie?”IMG_3051
Daddy: “No.”
Little Man: “Mommy, can I have a cooke?”
Me:  “What did Daddy say?”
Little Man:  “He said ‘yes’.”
Daddy:  “Nolan, you were not honest.  So you definitely do not get a cookie.”

It would’ve made him “comfortable” to get the treat that he wanted.  And it would’ve made me “comfortable” to give him the cookie so he would stop crying about it!  But my husband reminded me that this was an opportunity for character development.  In this scenario, I hope that our Little Man learned that we value HONESTY!

Another time, Little Man gave us an opportunity to show him that we value patience. While shopping at Target a couple weeks before his birthday, he saw rescue claw that he’d wanted for a long time.  So I tried to secretly put it in the basket to save for his birthday.
But he knew it was there.
And he knew that I bought it.
And he knew that it was at home.
But he also knew, that it was for his birthday.
So almost everyday leading up to his 3rd birthday, he’d ask, “Can I have the claw now?”
And each time, I’d respond, “Nope, it’s for your birthday.”

That claw was a fairly inexpensive toy.  It would’ve made him feel “comfortable” if I gave it to him early.  It would’ve made me feel “comfortable” to get him to stop asking about it!  But I’m hoping that in those 2 weeks (which probably felt like 2 months to him), he learned that PATIENCE is important to me.

We can’t really expect our kids to value things like patience, honesty, generosity, and kindness until they consistently see that we value them ourselves, anyways!

Everyday I have multiple opportunities to choose between comfort and character development for myself.

And everyday, my kids present multiple opportunities to show them that I value character development more than comfort.

It’s tough, and it’s usually not very clear that I’m basically deciding between these two things.  So entitlement and indulgence can stealthily creep in.

But my hope is that through the times when I show my kids love through quality time, words of affirmation, and bear hugs, they will have a secure bond in my love for them and God’s love for them, and be able to trust that the times when I choose character development over comfort for them, it’s really out of love.

Invisible Work

Standard

Nolan pushing Micah on swing

Growing up as a babysitter, working as a camp counselor, being a Sunday school teacher, and a 3rd grade school teacher, I’ve always been fascinated by child development and excited about the incredible window of opportunity that childhood offers!

Kids have always been important to me.  But now that I know two little boys who call me “Mommy”, I have a new capacity for love AND a greater amount of pressure to nurture these kids than ever before!

To see the brightest grin and wiggly arms and legs when I walk into the room,
To hear the “I wuv you”’s and unexpected tackles,
To receive slobbery, toothless bites on my chin and gentle forehead nuzzels,
To be the chosen audience for any little thing, “Mommy, watch this!”, “Mommy, look at this!”
All these things and infinite more just make my pores ooze with gratefulness to be somebody’s “Mommy”!

But let’s be real.  Although I’ve worked with kids for a long time, they’ve never brought me to the level of exhaustion, frustration, and disgust over bodily fluids that I’ve experienced  in the last few years of being a “Mommy”.  Just as I felt an incredible responsibility as a babysitter and teacher to make the most of every opportunity, I carry that much more sense of urgency in the lives of my own children!

Childhood is a time that can seem to take forever on an especially rough day, yet weeks and months can fly by in the blink of an eye.
Childhood is a time when little people collect experiences and create habits that will most likely shape who they are as adults.
It’s a time when their world views are being formed and hearts are being fashioned.

Being “Mommy” means stepping into the most influential role in the childhood of these two special people!
It’s a role that I feel unworthy to take on.
It’s a burden that can become unbearable, especially when one is screaming and the other is whining.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to lead these little men into developing admirable character when there’s poop in the Buzz Lightyear underwear and vomit in my hair!  It’s exciting and pleasant to talk about raising children who love others, act peacefully, and stand strong for the values that we believe in.  Yet it’s truly the nitty-gritty work to live it out each day, being aware of the learning opportunities, and modeling love and peace in the moments of each day.

Thankfully, it’s not up to me to develop my children into who they are called to be.  That’s the Lord’s job!  And I can only trust Him and obey Him in the ways that He’s called me to nurture these boys!

I’m learning that teaching my children is actually requiring more self-discipline from myself than I ever expected!

Because the real work is invisible.

It would be easier to find ways to make them do kind actions, but the real work is in guiding their hearts into kindness.
It would be easier to manipulate them to say the “right things”, but the real work would be raising kids who know the Truth deep in their hearts.
It would be easier to bribe them to obey, especially when people are watching, but the real work is in teaching the value of obedience.

I don’t really care if my children say the “right things” and do the “right things” if their hearts are not pure.
Nice manners and kind actions mean nothing to me if their hearts are filled with anger and resentment.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I know that the nurturing of their hearts is far more important than manners, learning numbers or abc’s, or even potty training.

As I value the hearts of my children, I hope that they will know that they are loved, cherished, and heard.
As I value the hearts of my children, I hope that they will develop love and compassion.
As I value the hearts of my children, I hope that I will take greater care to nurture my own heart, too.

Like a camera zooming in to focus on the most important piece of a picture, I need to let my perspective focus in on their hearts, seeing them more and more clearly.  And less important things- like signing them up for lots of “activities”, waiting for the next developmental milestone, or even just cleaning the house- would fade out of focus.

Because as I value their hearts more than what they can do, I can have more patience, and I’ll be more capable of showing them God’s unconditional love.  As I value their hearts, maybe I can realize a little more each day, that God also values my heart, more than what I can do!

These children, the Lord has entrusted to my husband and me are priceless treasures that are going to change the world!  Each day and each moment, is an opportunity for them to grow into the godly men that the Lord has planned for them to be!  If it were up to me to shape them into these world-changing men, I would be crippled with fear and weighed down with such a daunting burden.  And to be quite honest, I don’t know exactly what the Lord has planned for them anyway!

Instead, I can embrace freedom in the knowledge that God alone can mold them into the individuals that He created them to be!  And I can trust that He’ll continue forming me, into the person He’s created me to be, too!

“You Can’t Be in a Hurry”

Standard

625d2f5859f311e2b09522000a1f9363_5It was about this time last year that I received some good advice that has helped me in my journey of counting joys.  As a pregnant Mama to an active, almost-2-year-old boy, I’d ask any other moms that I came across, “How do you do it?  How do you manage everything with more kids?”

That was my concern, because I like to finish what I start.  And I like to fully commit to my tasks.  With my busy Little Man, and playful puppy, it already felt challenging to balance quality time with my husband, our son, and then having my hands free for enough moments to finish cleaning, plan a tutoring lesson, work on our house search, or prepare for my preschool class.  I wondered how that balancing act would look when there would be two boys, a toddler and a baby.

“How do you do it?”  I’d freely ask other moms who were a couple steps ahead of me.  And the answer that has stuck with me the most has given me the most peace when I need to be reminded of what’s really important.

“You can’t be in a hurry.”

That’s exactly what I needed to hear.
Because when I’m in a hurry, interruptions aren’t important.  Sticking to a plan is.
When I’m in a hurry, the clock becomes my idol.  And that might require sacrificing a peaceful attitude.

I definitely think it’s important to honor time commitments that have been made to other people.  But as much as it’s in my control, I want the people who are in my life in each moment to know that they are more important than any personal agendas that I have.

As a Mommy to two little boys, I definitely find more joy in loving them than in accomplishing whatever plans I’ve set out for the day.  In fact, my most important plan each day is to love people!

And I want that to be evident by being peaceful instead of losing my temper, because I know that their noise and energy is a gift.

I want it to be evident when I don’t worry about being late after changing our Buddy’s clothes 3 times because he kept spitting up on them.

I want it to be evident when I cheer on our Little Man when he slowly, slowly climbs and scoots down the hand rails on our way out of church.

Being a Mommy to two sweet boys has changed my perspective on time management.  Every morning I must remind myself that it’s more important to have a peaceful, loving attitude than to be in a hurry.  Because at the end of the day, I’d rather rejoice in the memories I made with my boys, even if they started out as interruptions, than in getting somewhere on time.

joy:  My newfound freedom in not hurrying.

In Need of a “Good Samaritan”

Standard

In the gospel according to Luke, Jesus addresses the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” and answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?” with a parable.

A man was left on a road,
robbed,
beaten,
stripped,
and half-dead.
Although a couple, supposedly virtuous men saw him, they
“passed by on the other side of the road.”

Then a Samaritan entered the story.  A person who would’ve been despicable to the audience.
He went to him
and bandaged his wounds,
pouring on oil and wine.
Then he put the man on his own donkey,
took him to an inn and took care of him.”

The beaten man laid helplessly on the ground.
He had nothing to repay the Samaritan.
Yet this unexpected savior poured his costly oil and wine for him!

Just as the beaten man could never have been expected to repay his savior,
I know that I will never be able to repay mine.
Without Jesus in my life, I would be empty-handed.
Still He opens His generosity to me freely!

This generous traveler made it personal.  He put the injured on his own donkey.

I’m so thankful that Jesus is in my life!  Everyday.  Personally.
He cares about my thoughts.  My questions.  My frustrations.  And my joys.
He offers to take my burdens daily!

Although the Samaritan must have had an important reason to make the 6 and a half hour walk,
it became more important to take the helpless to an inn and care for him.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10, NIV
How humbling it is to realize that Jesus, the Son of God, made it his priority to come down to us

to give life!

It didn’t stop there!
He told the innkeeper, “Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.

“He has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment.  The Spirit makes us sure of what is still to come.” 2 Corinthians 5:5, NIrV

This parable shows us how to be a neighbor.
But I also believe that it shows us the way to inherit eternal life: to realize how desperately we need Jesus!

joy:  Since Christ has been so generous to me, it’s my joy to be available to help others!  I pray that the Lord will give me the courage to put myself physically near those in need, just as the Samaritan did.  And I pray that I’ll have an open heart to hear how He would prompt me to help!

Run!

Standard

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great could of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1

Sitting down at breakfast, this morning, I asked Little Man, “What did we forget to do?” Without hesitation, he answered, “Stacy’s house.”  (He has no problem telling us exactly what’s on his mind.)

The thing we forgot to do was pray.  So we held hands.  And after I prayed, “Dear God, you are our Lord.  We worship you.  Help us to walk in your way today.  Amen.” Little Man informed me,

“Mommy, Nolan RUN!”

Wow.  Sometimes my toddler really speaks truth and wisdom that makes me stop and think!

Little Man’s favorite thing to do is run, run, run!
He doesn’t run because he’s in a hurry.
He doesn’t even run to get to a particular point.
He runs because he’s filled with
energy,
joy,
and excitement
that can’t be contained!

If the race marked out for me was put their by my Loving Creator, who is with me along the way, cheering me on, and waiting at the finish line to catch me in His loving arms, then why wouldn’t I run with gusto?!

Let’s be honest, many days it’s tough to rally up any gusto whatsoever.  So where should I look when I want to “run with perseverance the race marked out for me”?

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2

joy:  When Little Man starts running laps throughout the house, instead of getting annoyed, I’ll be reminded to run myself!

And Then There Were Two

Standard

The time has arrived:  I’ve been “Mommy” to 2 fabulous boys for almost 3 months now!

After spending several pregnant months wondering what it would be like to be in this position, now I can’t imagine it being any different!  And now that Baby Brother is almost 3 months old, and falling into somewhat of a routine, I feel like a real person again!  Hello sleep and the outside world!

Leading up to Baby Brother’s birth, the thing that I was most anxious about was Little Man’s favorite hobby:  Being in the Middle of Anything and Everything that Mommy is Doing.  I wondered if he would just lose his mind and consequently drive me absolutely crazy when my focus had to be taking care of Baby Brother almost constantly for the first couple of months!

It’s with a thankful heart and lots of joy that I can say: no one has (completely) lost their mind and no one has gone (totally) crazy!  I truly feel like the Lord blessed us in many ways, and I’m happy to report these unexpected blessings that have helped me transition into being a Mommy of 2 a little more smoothly than I expected!

  1. Extra Long Naps.  While Little Man normally naps about 1.5-2 hours, the first month that Baby Brother was home, he actually napped for 3 hours, and sometimes more!  We’re back to the normal length of naps, but that was the perfect time to have my toddler sleeping extra long.  Thank you, Lord!
  2. Imagination.  One afternoon, while my mom was here, she introduced Little Man to the world of imagination!  Together they wheeled our cooler around the house, stopping to knock at each door, selling “ice-cream” to the “neighbors”.  Ever since then, his imagination has expanded daily!  Whether he’s driving a “truck” on our bed or chasing a “train” in the front yard, I’m so thankful for all the fun he has, even when I can’t be completely involved.
  3. Playing with Toys.  This is actually a BIG deal to me.  You see, my older son has never actually been very interested in playing with toys at home!  Unless another child is playing with them, of course.  So as I’ve been feeding, changing, and rocking Baby Brother, he has to my surprise begun playing with his toys.  On His Own!  Thank you, Lord!
  4. Abby, the Imaginary Friend.  This summer, before Baby Brother was born, we spent time with some friends and their niece, Abby.  Apparently, she left a big impression on Little Man.  He still talks to her often!  Sometimes he carries her around like a baby.  Sometimes she’s too big to sit in the baby’s swing.  Sometimes she’s fallen, and he helps her.  But she’s always available to be his pal anywhere!
  5. Duke, the Dog.  When we got our puppy about a year ago, it was really like having an extra baby in the house!  While he often has spurts of crazy-puppy-energy, Duke is mostly a well-trained friend.  Little Man helps feed him, let him out, and gives him the greatest hugs!  I often have to pull them apart, like rowdy brothers.  But maybe that’s a good thing!

    I’m gradually able to give Little Man more focused time again, and I’m excited about that!  Yet while he holds onto this newly found imagination and independence, his capacity for joy is increasing!  I’m cherishing these sweet, precious moments with Baby Brother.  But I also look forward to the day when these two will play together!

    joy:  Maybe this new shift of focus onto Baby Brother, has actually given Little Man the space he needed to develop his imagination!