Emma Grace: 3.5 Years

17 Nov

Emma was 3 ½ years old on October 7, so I’m a liiiiitttttle behind on this update. How is Thanksgiving only a week away?!?!

img_1821img_1811Since my last update on Emma, she has not slowed down one bit. In fact, now that Annabelle is cruising around and causing trouble, the two feed off of each other and create even more and bigger messes and disasters than either one would do on their own. Or Emma will do things that she knows she shouldn’t, just because Annabelle is doing them (and is too young to know better). Thankfully their shenanigans have not yet destroyed anything valuable or ended in serious injury.

We like to say that Emma is 3 going on 13 because she has taken to growling when she gets frustrated (gee… I wonder where she learned that, mom?), frequently stomping off to her room while yelling “Leave me alone!”, and slamming her bedroom door. {insert Facebook Wow emoji here}

img_20160824_104737-largeThis girl seriously gives me a run for my money, and pushes my buttons. Oh man, I could tell you stories… and maybe I will one day. I’ve been working on a post about dealing with anger—MY OWN—in motherhood for almost a whole year now, but I haven’t published it because there’s no conclusion. I’m STILL struggling with it, yo!

Emma is just an extremely strong-willed, particular, won’t-back-down-for-nothing child, who will defy me while looking me straight in the eye. I’ve come to understand, though, that she does this for the exact same reason I am often strong-willed and defiant: she thinks her ideas are better than mine, and that she’s right. A chip off the old block, right there. It’s extremely humbling (and scary) when you see that your child inherited your personality, and is also learning your bad habits of dealing with that personality.

img_20160801_125539-largeThank God for His grace and the truth that “Love covers a multitude of sins.” I’ve started praying that even if I don’t stop messing up and doing things I later regret in regards to relating to and disciplining Emma, that at least God will continue to give me a soft enough heart to repent and apologize to her. It’s a daily occurrence in this household. Man, parenting is haaaarrrddd.

But I do love this girl. She has a big heart, and just the other day, when we went and played with friends at the new mall play area, Emma asked for a snack, but then shared most of it with her friends. She’s also hilarious, and thinks of the craziest things to do and say. She has a great imagination, and has started to play by herself in her room quite often, because she knows that if she is anywhere Annabelle can reach her, it’s game over for playing with anything in a particular way (Annabelle is the new Destructobaby). I do often remind her that it’s more fun to play with other kids than by herself, even if they don’t play how she wants them to.

img_1757-largeOverall though, Emma and Annabelle get along really well, and most days they are like two peas in a pod. They both seem to have very similar personalities (in that they’re both CRAZY!) and can often be found running circles around our couches, giggling in the pitch-dark bathroom doing God-knows-what, and making disasters out of books, water, toilet paper, markers, you name it whenever Mommy has been distracted for too long.img_1811-largeimg_1785-largeimg_1835-large

img_1754-largeSpeaking of destruction, Emma has recently gone through a book/paper ripping phase. We were at a loss for how to handle this type of destruction (since I refuse to put all books away or out of her reach). But after several instances of surprisingly intentional destruction (meaning she ripped A LOT of pages), we explained to her that she was no longer allowed to rip anything, under any circumstances, ever again. And if she did rip something, she would get a spanking.

After we explained that, she did rip a few more things (and received a detailed explanation of her disobedience and resulting discipline), but she hasn’t ripped anything since then—and that was about 3 weeks ago. She has mentioned a few times, and I have seen her do so, that she exercised restraint in not ripping something, and I have praised her for going so long without ripping anything. Maybe after a month of no ripping, we’ll take her out to China Buffet (her favorite restaurant) to celebrate.

img_20160922_131613-largeSince the beginning of September, we have tried to do some preschool activities at home (testing out the waters of homeschooling) but so far, it’s been kind of a flop. Emma was excited the first couple weeks, and still asks to “do school” on a semi-regular basis, but never wants to do what I suggest. She mostly just wants to color and maybe trace some letters. I tried telling her about Christopher Columbus while she was coloring a picture on Columbus Day, but she just kept interrupting me and saying “Mommy, stop talking. Mommy, stop talking.” So, we’re leaning toward NO on the homeschooling.

img_20160907_091425-largeAnd I shouldn’t forget an update on potty training… Ugh, potty training. Emma is mostly potty trained during the day, though she has been having a few accidents lately because she just waits too long to head to the toilet. She’s still pooping in a diaper. She pooped on the toilet a handful of times a few months ago but then got constipated and it was downhill from there. And she still wears a diaper to bed. I was feeling pretty discouraged about the whole situation but recently we decided to have her wear undies during her nap, even if there was a chance she’d wet the bed. But she’s only wet the bed once in a couple of weeks. So that encourages me that she’ll get there. I just don’t want this to turn into a daily battle. She really dislikes me wiping her after a poopy diaper though, so hopefully that will convince her to start pooping on the potty again.

20160921_104042-largeSome of Emma’s other favorite things at 3.5 years are:

  • iPad and movies—Of course!
  • Candy and ice cream – This may be her nightly bedtime snack…20160911_115349-large
  • Rock-a-baby in the chair—I rock her to sleep in the glider in her room fairly often, mostly for naps, but we rock a little before bedtime too when I’m the one doing her bedtime routine.
  • Jesus on the cross—Emma has really started to understand stories about Jesus, and loves to point out when she sees something making the shape of the cross. She also loves to hear songs about Jesus, and has started to really enjoy being in the church service with us (and behaves pretty well now too).
  • Dresses and flip-flops—This poor girl is in denial that winter is coming (and frankly, should already be here by Minnesota standards). She frequently doesn’t want to wear pants or a jacket, and almost always doesn’t want to wear shoes. Then she complains about being cold.img_20160801_115416-large
  • Getting dirty and wet—Emma still has a thing for dirt and water. She has loved playing in the leaves this fall (and we had TONS of them!) and on a few of these above-average-temperature days, we’ve had the water table out because both Emma and Annabelle just can’t get enough. One time at the beach this summer, Emma literally army crawled through the sand to the water. She was covered head to toe in sand.img_1599-largeimg_1269-large20160803_113747-largeimg_20160731_194850-large
  • Baths—When we say it’s bath time, both girls make a beeline to the bathroom. Emma usually starts the water and plugs the drain before we even get in there—and she even gets it the right temperature and everything now! *sniff* She’s getting so old.
  • Dance class—We put Emma in a 30-minute ballet class this fall, and so far she really enjoys it. She’s not always the best listener, and sometimes is pouty and refuses to do the moves the teacher’s doing, but overall, she’s doing well. Funny story: her very first class, Emma showed up straight from the daycare playground wearing pants and a t-shirt, with dirty feet, woodchips stuck to her pants and a band-aid on her head, while all the other girls were wearing cute ballet outfits. The teacher said Emma could wear whatever she wanted and didn’t need shoes, but after that first class, we bought her a leotard and ballet shoes.
  • Popcorn—Since both Emma and Annabelle go to bed around 9 pm, one of our near-nightly rituals is making popcorn after bath time and watching a show together. The girls really love popcorn, and Emma loves to help with measuring out the kernels, pouring them in, and plugging the popper in (with supervision).img_1656-large
  • The Striped Dress—Emma’s favorite dress of all time, only to be rivaled by her white Christmas dress from 2014 that she wore for a whole year until it literally didn’t fit her anymore, is a striped maxi dress we bought from Target this summer. She almost always wants to wear that dress, and I think I’m going to have to hide it when it does get cold outside so that’s she forced to wear all her winter clothes, instead of the same old threadbare, faded summer dress. Kids, I tell ya!20160803_132448-large
  • Elsa—Emma got a 16” Elsa doll from her aunt and cousin last Christmas, and LOVES that thing. We ended up buying Annabelle the Anna doll because they had started fighting over Elsa. Emma had been completely attached to a baby doll but Elsa usurped the #1 spot. Emma still likes her baby doll, though, and also likes a small 6” doll we bought Annabelle for her 1st Annabelle doesn’t play with dolls much yet, so she doesn’t care that Emma plays with “her stuff” but there will come a day…img_1774-large
  • Coloring—For the past month or two, Emma has been on a coloring/writing kick. She has learned how to write her name and loves to practice writing other letters too, though she gets discouraged quickly by the ones she finds difficult. She also enjoys “coloring pictures” (usually she means drawing freehand) for other people, and we often color pictures together. Annabelle likes to be near the action, but mostly likes to throw the colored pencils on the floor and uncap the markers.20160820_121429-large
  • Sleeping in her closet—We bought Emma a bed canopy and have it hung up in her closet so she likes to sleep in there quite a bit. And not just that, but she closes the door! This girl is not afraid of the dark at all.img_20160824_164232-large

And that’s Emma at 3.5 years!img_20160829_121553-large20160913_111857-large20160911_112258-large

A Response to the 2016 Election

9 Nov

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)

These are the verses that come to mind this post-election morning. God is BIG–BIGGER than this and He can use Trump to bless our country if He sees fit. So let’s pray hard that He would do just that. That Trump would rise to the occasion, put behind his childish and selfish ways, and that his presidency would be a surprise in a good way. 

If you say “HA, there’s no way he will!” I say “Well then what’s the alternative response? To seethe with anger and bitterness for the next 4 years? To wait hopefully for each blunder Trump will make in order to gloat ‘See, this is why I didn’t vote for him!'”

No, regardless of who you voted for, the way to respond to this election result is the same way we respond to anything that happens in life: we accept it from God’s hand. We humbly submit our lives, and in this case our country, to Him, with the knowledge that “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

And then we pray. We pray hard. We plead, beg God to help this nation change for the better, even perhaps despite who’s in charge. We CAN make America great again but it will be by being people sold out for God in Jesus’ name, full of love, compassion, and a willingness to work alongside those who do not share our beliefs or lifestyles. It will be by being bold in our proclamation of the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. It will be by laying down our own agendas, conveniences, and desires, and taking up Christ’s. What does that practically mean? It’ll look different for everyone, but like I’ve said before, we will be all united under the banner of

SATISFIED IN GOD ALONE.

We cannot change reality, we can only respond to it. Let’s make our response one that shows how BIG God is and how much we are ultimately trusting in Him to guide and protect our nation. 

Annabelle Lyn: 18-19 Months

1 Nov

Annabelle is already over 19 months old! She was 18 months on September 27 and 19 months on October 27. It’s hard to believe that when Emma was Annabelle’s age, I was already pregnant with Annabelle. She’s growing up so fast!img_1998Size

At Annabelle’s 18-month well-child check, she weighed 23 lbs 1 oz (54%), was 32.5 inches tall (68%), and had a head circumference of 19.78 inches (99.8%). This girl is setting the curve for head size. 😉

Annabelle is still wearing size 4 diapers and mostly 18-24 months/2T clothes. She has gone up in shoe size from size 4 to size 5—tiny little feet just like Emma had (which is nice because she can wear all of Emma’s old shoes…at least, the ones she didn’t destroy).img_1481Eating

Annabelle is still a pretty picky eater. The foods she likes to eat consistently are dairy and fruit, which is unfortunate because we discovered that she is most likely lactose intolerant. She had been having trouble with diarrhea and pooping 5-6 times a day, so I asked her doctor about it and she suggested limited her dairy to see if that would help. We stopped giving her any dairy except some hard/sharp cheese, and her poop has changed to be what we would expect. She was never a big fan of cow’s milk, so that won’t be a hard switch, but she loves yogurt and cheese. I’ve started buying Silk yogurt (which is actually pretty tasty) and Ripple milk for her, and being selective about which cheese we give her (apparently the harder and sharper ones have less lactose). Not a huge deal compared to other kids’ allergies, just something to get used to.20160914_141849Annabelle’s other favorite foods are bacon, banana, blueberries, applesauce, peanut butter on a spoon, honey, cereal, apple slices, edamame, suckers, and chocolate. There are other foods she will eat too, but they’re more hit and miss.

I think Annabelle is starting to get her 2-year molars because she’s frequently chewing on her whole hand recently, or sticking her fingers into the back of her mouth.img_20160922_162100Sleeping

Annabelle has been doing about the same in the sleep department as a few months ago. She will sleep through the night about 40-50% of the time; the other nights, she wakes up between 1 and 3 am, and I go sleep in her room on the floor with her.img_1302She is nursing to sleep less often than before–which is good, considering I want to wean her any day now, but hard because it means she cries in her crib before falling asleep more often. I just hate that! I will try rocking and nursing to get her to sleep, but sometimes she just isn’t having it, so crying it out it is. I remember Emma getting to a point like that too around this age. I know it’s a good thing for them to learn, I just wish it didn’t involve so much crying.

Anyway… Annabelle is still taking one nap a day, usually from about 1 to 3:30.img_1070Development

Once Annabelle learned how to walk, she took off and she is now getting into anything and everything. Put Emma and Annabelle together, and they come with some real hairbrained schemes, which usually result in the destruction of something. Annabelle has also learned how to retaliate against Emma, and push her buttons. Emma will be playing with something, and Annabelle will run over to either quick grab one of Emma’s things or scratch her arm, and then quick dart away. Emma has met her match. 🙂img_1490Annabelle’s favorite things to do the past two months have been:

  • Sit like a big girl at the dining room table (no more highchair for this girl!), on the couch, in recliners, on the piano bench, and in the big part of the shopping cartimg_20160903_174259img_20160922_084959
  • Run around screaming with Emmaimg_1444
  • Play with Emma’s fishing rod outside (almost every time we go outside, she asks for it by pointing and whining)img_1313
  • Pushing strollers, carts, trucks, etc. – she’d rather push them than ride in themimg_20160906_135151
  • Destroying things – knocking blocks over, ripping paper, throwing bowls out of a drawer, taking all the caps off markers and abandoning them, throwing crayons around, etc.
  • Playing with water – mostly in the kitchen sink and outside – all she wants is several vessels for containing water that she can fill up and use to pour water from one thing to anotherimg_1211
  • Rough-housing – Annabelle actually likes to be thrown up into the air (only when Travis is sitting down though, not when he’s standing up), body-slammed on the bed, steamrolled on the floor, held upside down, flipped over, spun in a chair, etc. There’s really not much you can do to Annabelle that she doesn’t like. She might have a look of fear on her face while you’re doing it, but afterward she gets a big grin on her face and whines for more.20160912_123148
  • Copying Emma—It is truly amazing how many things Annabelle picks up and copies from Emma. Emma sometimes gets upset that Annabelle follows her around so much and always wants to be doing what she’s doing, which is understandable, but it really is so cute. We tell Emma that Annabelle just loves her and wants to be like her.
  • Sitting on the kitchen counter—Annabelle always wants to be where the action is. Obviously, we only let her do this when we’re able to sit right there and watch her.img_1330
  • iPad—Annabelle and Emma have started fighting over who gets to use/watch the iPad. I don’t think Annabelle really has that big of an interest in the iPad for what it is, just that she sees Emma using it quite a bit and wants to be like Big Sister.img_1296

As far as talking goes, Annabelle usually defaults to whining to get what she wants instead of talking. We’re trying to encourage her to use words like “water” when she wants a drink and “more” or “please” when she wants something to eat. She has learned the sign for “please” so she does use that a fair amount when prompted—it comes out as “eeees” with her arm moving back and forth. She also says “eese” (Cheese) often when we’re taking a picture of her. So cute! She has started saying Mama again (yay!), and can also say Emma, Dada, Doggy, Nana (banana), and Wawa (water). She uses several variations of Dah Dah to communicate a number of things. She has said other words, but they’re rare.20160921_110554

img_101120160913_11311620160911_11343920160913_11450420160911_11543720160912_09275320160912_115707And that’s Annabelle at 19 months!

2 Ways to Take Back Your Day Without a Schedule

17 Oct

takebackyourdayA year ago, I went to a conference for moms in Rochester called Hearts at Home. It was awesome, and I took away a lot of thoughts, but one of the biggest was the idea that I needed to get our family life on a schedule. Staying home full-time with a 2.5-year-old and a 6-month-old meant that our days were big on crazy and low on sanity. I thought getting on a schedule would help some at least some of my woes.

The only problem was that I’m a spontaneous person. I can’t commit to the same schedule day after day, week after week. I like change! I like doing things differently! I like lazy mornings some days, and a fresh shower and dressier clothes other mornings. I like having the girls take a bath at night some days, and during the day other days.

Emma (now 3.5) is a wild card like this too. I tried and tried to get her to be more predictable and routined as a baby, but she wasn’t having it. It wasn’t until she was over 2 years that her naps finally became a consistent 2.5-3 hours long. Before that, she’d nap anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Drove me crazy! To cope, I stopped having any plans of what I would accomplish during naptime because then I didn’t get frustrated if her nap was too short.

Annabelle (now 18 months) was a lot more predictable as a baby than Emma was. She actually put herself on a schedule! Some babies are just like that. We were so thankful that it seemed we had gotten a mellow baby to balance out our first-born spitfire. Then Annabelle learned to walk and WOW, she has even more energy and chutzpah than her sister did at this age. She’s a climber, and doesn’t take No for an answer without a fight.

My desire to take a crack at homeschool preschool this year with Emma inspired another attempt at implementing a daily schedule/routine. An attempt that also failed almost before it began. Which got me thinking… do I really NEED a schedule?

I had several things that I wanted to change about the way things ran in my house as a full-time, stay-at-home mom, that I thought having a schedule or routine would address. I wanted to be more intentional with how I spent my time–my time with the girls and my alone time. I wanted to stay caught on cleaning, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping better, instead of waiting for bathrooms to reach an unprecedented ICK factor and the refrigerator to contain nothing but olives and maple syrup. I also thought that being on a schedule is what successful, got-it-together moms do.

But you know what? There’s more than one “right” way to do things. The real question is, is the way we’re doing things right now working for our family? The answer to that is Yes. Things aren’t as tidy or clean or straightforward as they would be if I were more disciplined in the Art of Structure, but I’d be constantly fighting an uphill battle against my spontaneous personality–and for what? Part of the benefit of being at home full-time is the flexibility and relaxed pace of life!

That said, I have noticed that there are two things that I not only enjoy doing, but that truly promote the goals I had with a schedule. Those are:

1. Get up before the kids.

When Annabelle regressed to waking up 1-2 times a night around 6 months (and ever since), I stopped feeling like a morning person. I was a zombie until at least 10 am and two cups of coffee. But for the past couple of months, I have been forcing myself to get up around 6 am anyway because I know that it is SO worth it. My day goes so much better when I’ve had time to drink some coffee and think some thoughts before kids start screaming, whining, and demanding cereal.

I also have more energy for Bible study, blog posts, and pretty much everything in the morning. By naptime, my energy is at about half-power (and I often take a nap with the kids if it works out), and after putting the kids to bed, I only have the energy for zoning out with Netflix, or talking to Travis. So the morning is my time to “get er done.”

2. Don’t get distracted by projects or technology.

I am notorious for thinking, “Oh the girls are playing so well together right now. I’ll just spend a few minutes tidying/organizing/sorting/assembling this thing over here.” ::45 minutes later:: “Mommy’s almost done! Then we’ll go outside!” I say as both kids are crying because they’ve started hitting one another out of boredom and their need for attention.

I’m also notorious for picking my phone up to text someone about something timely or important. ::45 minutes later, emerging from the Facebook and Instagram vortex:: “Mommy just has to text my friend about getting together tomorrow. Then we’ll go outside!”

I’m learning that even though organizing and tidying are good and necessary, and Facebook and Instagram are fine when used wisely, there’s a time and a place. Trying to do those things while the girls are awake almost always spells disaster…or at least a house that’s a disaster because the girls tore it apart while I was distracted.

What this one really comes down to is discipline and trusting God: discipline to wrangle my spontaneous and time-sucking habits into spending my time intentionally and wisely; and trusting God that when I prioritize what He prioritizes, I get joy and He gets glory. Even if that means I get nothing done but spending time with my girls because they were clingy. Even if that means I forego dishes and laundry to spend time reading the Bible. Even if that means I hardly ever blog anymore because I’m reading books about parenting instead (this is true).

Doing these two things gives me the foundation for the day that I need to manage the chaos and challenges of being home full-time with two young kids… without being on a schedule!

When Your Husband Hunts Out of State

4 Oct

About a year and a half ago, I posted the saga of the most horrible week of my pregnancy with Annabelle, which happened while Travis was traveling for work. There was another saga that happened about a year ago while Travis was hunting out of state, which I never told on the blog. Until now.

img_1156It was October, aka the beginning of hunting season. Travis and most of his family had gone elk hunting in Colorado for a week. The girls and I had stayed back, since having a 2.5-year-old and a 6-month-old in a wall tent for a week would be an extreme form of torture. We had just been up to Bemidji to visit Travis’ sister, Carolyn, who had also opted to not go elk hunting. After a long day of driving (two hours both ways), shopping at Hobby Lobby for bridal shower decorations, and eating dinner at Applebee’s (during which Emma spilled her entire water all over me and Annabelle swiftly knocked her full container of yogurt to the ground), the girls and I were heading back home in the dark.

Everything was going fine. I was staying awake, the girls were content… oh and did I mention that I had the dogs along too? They had spent the day socializing with Carolyn’s two dogs, and were worn out too.

But then Annabelle started crying.

And she kept crying.

We were almost an hour from home, and in the middle of NOWHERE driving on a two-lane highway with no shoulders at night on a Sunday. The nearest gas station was 30 minutes away. Travis’ parents lived only about 15 minutes away, but in the opposite direction as our house and they were in Colorado with Travis.

I hoped Annabelle would stop crying on her own… but five minutes passed. Then 10. Which doesn’t sound like much but when your baby is screaming in the backseat, it feels like an ETERNITY. I started looking for places to pull over, thinking maybe if I just nursed her a bit, she’d be content enough to make it home without crying the whole way.

But it was pitch black outside so I couldn’t see any of the pull-outs soon enough to slow down for them. Finally, I saw a sign for an intersection with a county road. Perfect. I’d be able to drive slow enough on that road to find a spot to pull over.

I turned down the county road and there was a wide grassy shoulder that seemed to be pretty level and even. It didn’t seem to be a road that had much traffic on it, so a ways from the highway intersection, I started slowing down and pulled over onto the grass.

WHAM!

I didn’t understand what had happened right away because it was so unexpected. All I heard was a loud noise and saw that my car was all of a sudden at a very odd angle and I was looking at what looked like corn stalks out my windshield.

Panic surged through me, but I couldn’t panic because I was the lone adult with two kids and two dogs out in the middle of NOWHERE. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god,” I started repeating. My hands were shaking as I started trying to think logically about what was happening.

My car has fallen in some kind of a hole. My first idea was to try to back the car out. I put the car in reverse and gunned it a little, but the only effect was to make my car lean over even more precariously, and make me panic even more about completely tipping over into the field.

Ok, Plan B. I would call a towtruck. Where’s my phone? Where’s my phone? Oh yeah, Emma’s playing games on it. I pleaded with her to give it back to me. She probably heard the fear in my voice because she didn’t fight me on it.

Then I realized, It’s late on a Sunday night and I’m in the middle of EFFIN NOWHERE! Who is going to help me at this hour? No one local, that’s for sure. My brain was scrambling and all I could think was, What’s that acronym for car assistance? AARP? That doesn’t sound right... I googled “car towing” and discovered, Oh yeah, AAA. But when I tried calling the 800 number, it assumed I was in Colorado because of my cell phone number, and I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to figure out how to switch it. So screw that.

Plan C. Call Travis. Maybe he could help me think because now I was on the verge of tears and FREAKING OUT. But Travis didn’t answer. Dangit! I can’t call my parents because my mom will freak out even more than I am. Who else is with Travis? My mother-in-law Beth. She didn’t answer either. Double dangit! I called my brother-in-law Matthew. He answered. FINALLY! I tried to sound somewhat normal as I asked to talk to Travis. When Travis got on the line, though, I completely lost it. I started crying and babbling on about how I drove off the road and fell in a hole and couldn’t get out and I was so scared and I was in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.

Travis’ first words back to me were, “Are the girls still alive?”

Ok, maybe I should’ve led with that. “Yes, they are. We’re all fine.”

As I was talking with Travis, I decided that I should probably get out of the car to see what was really going on. I discovered that my front passenger tire fell in a hole up to the bumper, and my rear driver side tire was completely off the road by about 18 inches.

Holy crap.

I’m sure I told Travis what I was seeing. I’m sure he suggested calling a towtruck or something along those lines. But after being on the phone with Travis not even five minutes, a man driving a pickup truck happened to turn down the county road I was on. Not only did he not hit me even though I was standing in the middle of the road, he slowed down to ask if I was ok. I sobbed that I wasn’t, and then asked if he could pull me out. He said, Yes, he could. As he got his chains out and set up, I told Travis about Pickup Man and said I’d call him back.

The man told me to get in my car, put it in reverse, and to gun it and turn the wheel when he said to. I did exactly that and in less than a minute, my car was back on the solid ground of the gravel road. I thanked the man profusely for saving us, and briefly thought about paying him, but I didn’t have any cash, and my brain was fried from stress. He looked my car over and said that amazingly, he didn’t see any damage. Then he warned me to not stop on the shoulder of back-country roads anymore, because they weren’t safe. I know that now, I thought.

Hands still shaking, I got back in my car, put my car in drive, and traveled a little farther down the county road before completing a 20-point turn to head east back to the highway. I passed Pickup Man, who was continuing west. I said a prayer of thanks to God, for the man who helped me (God knew who he was), and for God’s provision of a person, driving a pickup, with chains, who knew how to use them, to be there right then. From the time I drove in the hole to the time I was pulled out was probably only about 15 minutes.

After getting back out on the highway, I called Travis to tell him I was out of the hole, there was no damage to the car, and I was on my way home. Hallelujah! Oh, and I’m never stopping on a country road EVER. AGAIN.

A few weeks later, we were headed back up to Travis’ parents’ house for deer hunting. Travis was curious to see where “the incident” happened. In the broad light of day, we could see that the hole I drove into was really a culvert, and what I had thought was a cornfield was really a swamp. img_1155Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. And it only happens when Travis is out of town.

Thankfully, his hunting trip this year has been much less eventful… So far. ::knock on wood::

Why I’m Living My Book, Instead of Writing It

7 Sep

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about how I felt God was calling me to BEHOLD Him this year. “I need new eyes and new ears to see and hear God’s glory and power in my life. The glory of His presence already surrounds me; I just need help recognizing it.”

IMG_20160105_153553It has been AWESOME seeing God answer that prayer all year long, and I have plans to share all the different facets here on the blog. But today, I want to share about how God just recently answered this prayer of beholding Him, and of having new eyes and ears to see His glory in the life I already have.

I won’t mince words—this summer has been hard. Yes, full of fun things too, but mostly hard. See my meltdown post. See my posts on grief over my mom dying. Then one day, I was praying. I don’t even remember about what—maybe my desire to write a book? Feeling like I don’t have the time or energy for doing the things I’d like to do? Anyway, God spoke to me. He challenged me by asking, “Is this about My glory or is it about your glory?”

And I realized…

All this time I have been praying for the opportunity to write and publish a book because I feel so passionate about what I’ve been learning, and think that a lot of other Christians would benefit from these ideas. But truth be told, it has also been a lot about my glory. I spent years trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and finally a year ago, I had the courage to declare that I wanted to be a published author more than anything else. And the book I want to write is about how joy is found in embracing the life circumstances God allows.

I didn’t need my book to be a bestseller, or to make money, or be a household name, and I surely didn’t want to end up being a speaker to big audiences. I just wanted to hold a tangible book in my hand, containing my unique words with my name on the cover. Of course, I hoped that at least a few people would read my book, but I really just wanted to be faithful to God’s calling on my life. Whatever He chose to accomplish with it was up to Him. A noble, worthwhile purpose, right?

A few weeks ago, though, God showed me that even that noble, worthwhile purpose had to be surrendered to something bigger: His will. It may be His will that I am a published author someday, but the reality of my life is that I already have two daughters. I am already a mom. And in this stage of life, my girls demand it all. I have tried for a year to write a book in my free time, and I have discovered that for me, right now, it’s not possible. Trying to write a book only made me bitter, and made me feel like I spent all my time doing crap I didn’t want to do, with no time or energy left over for doing what I did want to do.

Because I have two kids, God has called to be a mom. And I feel strongly that He has called me personally to be a full-time, stay-at-home (and possibly homeschooling?) mom. Instead of viewing my two precious blessings as preventing me from what I am called to do, I need to see them as being what I am called to do.

It is the most humbling, soul-aweing challenge for God to show me:

If I truly desire to live for His glory, if I truly believe that God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him, if I truly believe that God is the one orchestrating my life circumstances, then I will be okay with whatever God has for me.

Being satisfied in God means wanting Him above everything. Even above my dream of being a published author.

God’s challenge revealed to me:

Is my life goal truly about getting more of God? Or is my goal being an author?

Nothing less than God Himself will satisfy.

So if my goal of being an author is causing me to be discontent in my current life, being bitter about the circumstances God has lovingly handpicked for me, I must lay even this good desire of telling about God’s glories in a book down at my Savior’s feet.

I must truly surrender all to get more of God. That’s the amazing truth in all of this: I can experience and enjoy God in any and every season of life, even amidst the challenges and mundanity of motherhood. The experience of God is not limited to doing big things. In fact, it might even be easier to experience God in the small things, because big things have a way of distracting. Even as “just” a stay-at-home mom, I can have as much of God as I want, because the curtain has been torn in two with Christ’s death and resurrection.

I was surprised to discover that surrendering this lifelong dream of mine into God’s hands was not discouraging or depressing, but freeing. I didn’t realize how heavy a weight I had been carrying around, feeling like every free moment I had needed to be productive because of all I was trying to accomplish. I felt jealous of other moms who seemingly had lower ambitions. Why couldn’t I be like them?

With the laying down of this dream came the freedom to just focus on mothering well. And as I focused on that, I realized it was what I had desired all along. Of course, I would still love to write a book, or ten. If it happens later in life, in a different season, great. And if not, that’s ok.

I have often found great comfort in the story of King David’s desire to build a temple for God’s presence and the Ark of the Covenant. In 1 Kings 8:17-19, King Solomon says, “Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’”

David had a desire to do something noble, selfless, BIG for God. But God told him no. David’s desire was good, but it wasn’t God’s will for him. The American Dream is still alive and well in our country, even in Christian circles. Somehow, the notion is that if we’re passionate about something and good at it, it must be God’s calling on our lives. And if we’re not doing something with those gifts, if we’re not using them for growing God’s kingdom, we’re not fully living out our faith. We’re taking our light and hiding it under a bush.

But even the desire to serve God doing good things must be subordinate to our love for and enjoyment of Him. Because often, God’s chosen circumstances for our lives don’t align with what we would choose, or what we envision. Am I serving God less by being a mom instead of an author? Am I serving Him more? No, I am just serving in a different way. I am serving God in the way He has chosen for me to serve Him.

The Christian life is not one size fits all. It is not rules across the board, applicable to every and all circumstances. We want it to be! We want the Christian life to be so cut and dry that we can take the rules and run off to accomplish the Christian life on our own without God. God knew that. So He made it necessary for the Christian life to be walked out in faith by depending on the Holy Spirit. The New Testament contains only general principles built on the solid foundation of the gospel; we need to walk with God daily to uncover what those principles look like specifically in our own unique lives.

God has called me to lay down my dream of being an author to truly embrace my calling as a mother. But He might be calling other mothers to take up their dreams and pursue them wholeheartedly. It is not about WHAT we do, it is about WHY and HOW we do it. Are we surrendering our lives to God?  Are we offering up everything we are, every dream, ambition and longing, to God and allowing Him to be the answer? Are we glorifying God by being satisfied in Him? The fleshed-out specifics will look different for everyone. There is a time for everything under the sun, and we are all in slightly different seasons and stages of life and sanctification. But we will united under the banner of:

SATISFIED IN GOD ALONE

The ironic thing in God asking me to lay down my dream of being an author is that He is calling me to put into practice the very ideas that I want to write my book about.

So for now, I’m living my book, instead of writing it.

 

“No good things does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

Annabelle Lyn: 16-17 Months

29 Aug

I am SO overdue on a post for Miss Annabelle! Annabelle was 16 months on July 27 and 17 months on August 27. I can’t believe my baby is almost a year and a half!IMG_20160725_20393420160824_104922 The big news this update is that ANNABELLE IS FINALLY WALKING!

Because of that, we’re going to start with…

Development

Annabelle started walking around the third week of July. She had been cruising around on furniture for a while, pulling up on everything, and mastered crawling up and down stairs around 12 months, so I didn’t think that her walking would really change anything, except make it easier to be outside.

I was wrong.

She gets into everything, and she is fast! Annabelle’s favorite things to do are:

  • Whatever Emma is doing
  • Putting tiny scraps of toilet paper into the toilet while Emma goes potty
  • Being by people, which usually means playing in the exact cupboard I’m standing in front of while making dinner or doing dishes
  • Doing whatever Emma is doing
  • Putting stuff in the kitchen garbage can, like Travis’ Bluetooth headset, Emma’s waterbottle, undies, socks, etc.
  • Pulling clothes out of Emma’s dresser (her clothes are too high for her to reach)
  • Somersaults (she saw Emma doing them—she can only put her head down with her butt in the air, waiting for Travis or me to flip her over—it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever)

IMG_20160801_115438Annabelle is similar to how Emma was at this age in that she likes to move things from one place to another, and she likes emptying drawers and bookshelves, but she’s different in that she’ll actually play with the mess she makes, instead of immediately moving on to make another one. I remember being so frustrated with all the messes I had to pick up with Emma (and… she still makes them and I still am).

Annabelle loves being outside and frequently brings me her shoes to put on. Her favorite things to do outside are play with water in bowls and pails, “draw” with sidewalk chalk, push strollers and trikes around, ride in our Little Tikes truck or wagon, and do whatever Emma is doing. I told Travis the other day that the benefit of having an older sibling is that Emma is so much more interesting and fun than we parents are, but the drawback is that Emma also hogs toys, takes over, pushes Annabelle out of the way, etc. Poor girl has had a couple of bloody lips and noses already, and taken many a bonk to the head (at least half are self-inflicted though). So we try to balance sibling time with alone time, and to teach Emma how to share and be nice. (Easier said than done with a 3-year-old 🙂 )IMG_20160629_163613FB_IMG_1468349202805IMG_20160822_104539Annabelle also has an independent streak. She will refuse to do some things (like drink her chocolate milk) if we try to help her. She still loves climbing, snuggling, being held upside down, being “body slammed” onto the bed or “steamrolled” on the living room floor (rough housing), being pushed/pulled, and taking baths.

Annabelle is learning new words every day, which is so fun! She understands a TON of what we say to her and can now say: Doggy, Dada, Nana, Cracker, Quack, Moo, Night Night (Ni Ni), Bye Bye, All Done (Ah da), Emma (En na), Hot (Haw), Water (wa wa). I’m sure Annabelle is pretty average for her age in terms of speech, but Emma was such a late talker, that it’s fun hearing Annabelle learn words so much sooner! Emma is a chatterbox now though.20160818_115112IMG_20160824_16400420160810_100748Size

I’ve been in denial about Annabelle getting bigger. I thought most of the shirts she had been wearing this summer were 12 months, but they’re 18 months. She has short little legs, so she does still fit into a lot of 12-month pants, though they’re starting to get a little short (but in the summer, who cares?). I pulled out the clothes that Emma wore the fall that she was Annabelle’s age, and I just cannot believe that Annabelle is old enough or big enough to wear them! Where did my baby go? So, Annabelle is in mostly 18 month stuff, but starting to wear 24 months and 2T. ::sniff::

IMG_20160817_143624IMG_20160809_095900Eating

Annabelle is a pretty good eater, but has started getting pickier. Many dinners require several attempts at finding something she’ll finally eat, usually in the form of fruit. Her favorite foods are: bananas, blueberries (she likes most berries but these are her faves), mandarin oranges (from a can), peaches, applesauce, yogurt, baby cereal, bacon, chicken sausage, chicken, macaroni & cheese, pasta with sauce, bagels, and cooked broccoli. Her favorite treats are suckers, fruit snacks, and Starburst, and the only way she’ll drink milk is if I add chocolate syrup, so she usually gets a cup of that each day.

IMG_20160819_102952I’m still nursing Annabelle 3-4 times a day, usually in the morning, before naptime, before bedtime, and in the middle of the night. I have no real plans for weaning at this point. I’m hoping it will work itself out naturally. That’s usually my approach to most transitions: Wait and it’ll happen on its own. 😉

20160817_183838IMG_20160806_203029Sleeping

Annabelle has made some progress at night in the just the past couple of weeks. I had been sleeping on a mattress in her room pretty much every night, but now it’s down to about 50% of the time. I get her to sleep and put her down in her crib, and she usually wakes up crying between midnight and 3 am. I’ve started trying to get her back to sleep and putting her back in the crib, with some success and some failure. But progress is progress! I’m trying to keep this in perspective. I know she’ll outgrow this. She has slept through the night in her crib several times in the past couple of weeks, so I know she can do it. It’s not ideal for me to be sleeping in her room, because I don’t sleep well, and I don’t think she sleeps that well either when she’s on the floor, but it’s better than listening to her cry. Again, I know it’s just a phase. Emma was over 2 before she really figured the whole sleep thing out.IMG_20160819_110931IMG_20160804_092259And that’s Annabelle at 17 months!IMG_20160801_124209IMG_20160729_182348

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