Full Term- Almost There!

I can’t believe the last post I wrote was in May! How is it almost July already?

The anticipation for summer always feels like forever and then somehow those three summer months fly by.

We are loving being outside. There have been many days spent in some form of water whether it is a pool or a sprinkler and several days spent at the park. I adore watching the girls have the freedom to run and selfishly I also like that the less time we spend in the house, the less messy it is ūüėČ

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Despite the happiness that comes from being in the sunshine, I have wrestled lately with choosing joy in one large area of this season of my life Рpregnancy.

This past week I have just felt done. I was focused on my large belly and the exhaustion that it brings, both physically and emotionally. I wrestled with body image issues. I concentrated on every little pain, hoping that it was labor. When it wasn’t, I had to fight discouragement. I nested like crazy. My hormones manifested themselves in the way of tears and an attitude of being on edge. In short, I was not very easy to live with.

I am so grateful for my husband’s response. He finally said to me,¬†” I am not surprised by what is going on here. You need to have a baby.” He is so gracious with me especially when I am undeserving!

Thankfully, the Lord has gripped my heart once again and reminded me that there is joy to be found NOW. Not just when my five senses would be activated by holding a newborn, but now. In the present.

Here are some areas He has helped me to choose joy in:

Joy in the beauty of growing a baby. Seriously, how crazy is it that the Lord has chosen women’s bodies to grow another life! Every time I feel her move I am in awe that there is a real, live person inside of me! I do not need to look at my body with contempt (although I need to continue to make healthy choices), but rather with a spirit of thankfulness that the Lord is knitting something together in my womb. Right now.

Joy in sleep.¬†Right now both of my girls take about a two hour nap at the same time every day. This means I get to nap too! At night I generally get to sleep all the way through the night. Most mornings, I find little ones in my bed, but I have no idea how they got there which means I did not have to wake up to soothe them ūüôā I am relieved by our current schedule and I am soaking up the sleep I do get right now.

Joy in alone time both with my girls and with D. Every time we have a baby our lives change monumentally, of course, so I want to soak up this seasons without rushing the days by.

Joy in perseverance.¬†I do not want to pretend to know more than the keeper of time, so I am satisfied with continuing to carry this baby even when it’s hard!

Joy in the end. Honestly, I love being pregnant. I have always loved being pregnant. This is the first pregnancy I have wrestled with wanting to be done which is a new emotion for me! It has been good to remind myself of that fact. I am blessed to be pregnant and to carry this child to term. There is so much functionally that develops in a baby these last few weeks, that I am thankful that she is still in my belly, growing and prepping for the real world.

Joy in the Lord. Pregnant or not, I am content because the Lord is good! It sounds so cliche, but I look at the above list and I am pleased that He gently leads my heart. That He reminds me of His goodness and does not desire for me to focus on the negative aspects of life. I am satisfied with where I am because He reminds me of all of these beautiful areas of joy.

What circumstance are you in right now? I challenge you to sit down and ask the Lord to reveal areas of blessing in the midst of discouragement to you, too!

I look forward to meeting this little girl, but until then, we wait, with joy!

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Goal Update- It’s May Already!!

How are we halfway through the year already?! This blows my mind. Life sure does move fast. As a means of accountability I like to glance back at the goals I made and see how I’m doing.

So far, as I strive to live intentionally the biggest area of growth for me has come out of reading. I”m a quarter of the way done with reading through the Bible in 100 days and this is rocking my world! I’m learning so much about the character of God and the way He sees us and desires for us to live. It’s really beneficial to my ability to be intentional in my faith. In addition to this, I have been focusing a lot on reading books that spur on intentionality in my marriage and parenting. This has been great and challenging all at the same time as I recognize the difficulty it is to put into practice what I have been learning. Finally, I have been reading fiction books on my Kindle while rocking MK or whenever I can sneak in time! I have been loving this. It’s so fun to dive into a book and it is diminished other unhealthy distractions in my life like Facebook and television. I’m excited to continue to grow and learn what living intentionally looks like!

1. Living Intentionally Personally- I want to grow this year and be refined in every way.

  • Read through the Bible in 100 days. I’m taking the challenge from¬†http://www.mercyisnew.com/2014/12/26/pray-read-bible-100-days/. Does anyone want to join me? I would love the accountability!–25 days in!!
  • Read in general! I love, love, love to read. But for some reason have chosen not to this past year. So, in order to grow my brain I have made a list of books I want to read that go along with being intentional (and some fiction, too!)
    • Sacred Marriage
    • The Power of A Praying Wife- in process, highly recommend!
    • The Mission of Motherhood
    • Grace Based Parenting- in process!
    • No Drama Discipline
    • Jesus, the Gentle Parent
    • Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again
    • Encouragement
    • The Night Circus
    • The Giver
    • Unbroken
    • Sabbath as Resistance
    • Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are
    • Found in Him
    • Better Than Before
  • Continue choosing joy!

2. Living Intentionally Physically- We have a baby on the way in case you did not know! I need to steward this life well and get back to nourishing my body (and my families!) with the right foods.

  • Eat Better! Cut out flours and sugars as much as possible. Ferment foods. Learn to make kombucha.- EH! This has been a hard one for me. Recently, I have been struggling with eating well and I’m fighting the battle to remain healthy this last month of pregnancy.¬†
  • Exercise. It is always a challenge to figure out how this looks with two littles, but I would love to take a prenatal yoga class, and I look forward to running again after baby #3 comes.-Yes! I can’t wait to run again! In the meantime, I have been aiming to workout out 2-3 times a week. Simple, short workouts that I find on Pinterest ūüôā My girls have been loving trying to do them with me…for about two minutes until they are distracted again. ūüôā¬†

3. Living Intentionally as a Family-

  • Pray and Read Together as husband and wife. Continue date nights ūüôā
  • Start regular date nights with the girls 1x/month.- I would not say we have been great with once a month, but have been intentional with taking them out on mommy/daddy dates.¬†
  • Be more consistent as a family with devotions.- Still figuring out what this looks like for us!¬†
  • Do the virtue training Bible with M.- In progress!¬†

4. Living Intentionally with Money- There is always growth to happen here!

5. Living Intentionally by practicing Servanthood-

  • Serve the Body- Start a Bible study at my house. Grow with other women as we dig into the Word.- Our life group recently started a ladies group and I’m loving getting to dig in deeper with these women and learn what being intentional in this setting looks like.¬†
  • Simply be intentional in friendship- Pray. Encourage. Call. Text. Email. Whatever it looks like! Just be intentional.- Always room for growth here!¬†
  • Be intentional with our neighbors as the Lord leads.- This is a challenge because of our neighborhood situation. Good to be reminded of this goal.¬†

6. Living Intentionally in our Home- I want to continue to purge and make our home beautiful for others to feel loved and for my family to be at rest.- I had my first garage sale ever this past month! I won’t be doing that again ūüôā ha! It’s a lot of work. I’m thankful though that we purged this house and I feel like most everything is useful to our family. There is always a struggle with perfectionism with our home, so I have to continually surrender my ideals to the Lord.¬†

It is fun to look back at my goals and see where growth is happening and where more is needed. I cannot wait to see what the next six months hold for living intentionally.

There is joy in the Lord, always. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say it, Rejoice!” Phil 4:4

What I’m Into- April 2015

A blogger I follow regularly links up with other bloggers to write a “What I’m Into” post. It’s always fun to read and glean ideas from, so I thought I’d try one myself!

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This month I am most into Spring! I am LOVING being able to be outside with these sweet ladies. I am moving slower these days because of a 31 week belly, but I am soaking up making memories just the three of us.

What I’m Watching

D and I just started watching Blacklist¬†together. He thinks it is “slow,” but I am enjoying the plot. However, I can only make it thru one episode (if that!) before passing out.

Also, if you are close to me, you may know that I kind of, sort of, really love Dancing With the Stars. We have life group on Monday nights, so I do not get to watch it that often, but I make sure to YouTube the dances. M, in particular, loves to put on her high heels and dresses and dance along to the songs. When it’s over, I love to practice my dance moves which D thinks is absolutely hilarious. Here is my latest favorite dance:¬†

What I’m Reading

The Invention of Wings- This one took me awhile to get into, but once I did, I could not put it down. It is a beautiful story of women fighting slavery while also detailing the life of a slave.

What Alice Forgot- ¬†I am in the middle of this fiction novel. I have to have discipline in putting it down when my children are awake! The storyline is about a woman who hit her head and forgot the last ten years of her life. I’m interested to see where the author takes me.

The Mission of Motherhood- I am slowly working my way through this one. It is one I need to read at least once a year as it reminds me of my role as a mother and has been incredibly refocusing for me.

What I’m Listening To¬†

Honestly, I’m not a big podcaster. I have listened to a few Java with Julis this month- they are wonderful! Highly recommend.

Mostly what I am listening to is the Sofia the First Pandora radio station which includes lots of Sofia, Tinkerbell, and Frozen. It is fun to enjoy music with girls who LOVE to dance and twirl.

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What I’m Loving:

  • Lots and lots of naps!
  • Playgrounds and picnics.
  • Open door for super fun date nights because of the weather being nice.
  • Persevering through life with my sweet husband.
  • The Lord gently teaching my heart about priorities, servanthood, and wise living
  • Feeling baby girl #3 kick- lots!! She moves more than any other baby I’ve had. I’m getting so anxious to meet her!
  • Easy summertime meals.
  • The sun peering in my windows filling my heart with joy.
  • Deeper community connections.

Linking up with Leigh Kramer¬†to share what I’ve been into lately.

The Greatest in the Kingdom…

Servanthood.

A word that has been swirling in my mind lately.

Why?

Because I am constantly staring selfishness in the face.

It is so easy sometimes to serve others, but internally, I think I put limits on how often I serve.

“Well, I let him sleep in yesterday….so isn’t it my turn today?”

“I have played with them all morning, I just want a break.”

“I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant and exhausted. I’m going to focus on me today.”

Eek. When I process those things out loud, I recognize how ugly and how foolish that is.

Isn’t it so true that we love being the beneficiaries of servanthood, but have such a hard time willingly serving others without limits?

John 13:1-7 is a passage I have been dwelling on as I move towards serving others better.

Now¬†before¬†the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that¬†his hour had come¬†to depart out of this world to the Father,¬†having loved¬†his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.¬†During supper, when¬†the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him,¬†Jesus, knowing¬†that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that¬†he had come from God and¬†was going back to God,¬†rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel,¬†tied it around his waist.Then he¬†poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Process that for a moment. Jesus, the God of the universe, put skin on. He stepped out of Heaven to love us, to walk with us, and to lead us back to HIm. This passage tells us that He knew the Father had given Him all things and that He was going to return to Heaven. He IS a King. He IS royalty. He IS GOD. Knowing all of this, He rose. He rose from supper to serve. He washed His disciples feet.

He, holding the most important position on earth, chose not to lord his position over others and demand service from them, knowing He was about to be crucified.

Jesus, who knew the weaknesses of his disciples, chose not to stand up and rebuke them or tell them ways they have failed Him in His time of doing ministry with them, but instead, chose to wash their feet. The dirtiest part of their body. He took the position of servant.

Mind. Blowing. Humbling. So, so beautiful.

And here is what He says to us,

When he had washed their feet and¬†put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them,¬†‚ÄúDo you understand what I have done to you?¬†You call me¬†Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.¬†If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,¬†you also ought to wash one another’s feet.¬†For I have given you an example,¬†that you also should do just as I have done to you.¬†Truly, truly, I say to you,¬†a servant¬†is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.¬†If you know these things,¬†blessed are you if you do them.

Not only did Jesus wash their feet, He called them to do the same. If the Lord can humble himself, kneel down, and serve others, I think I can, too.

This point is reiterated in an earlier teaching in Matthew 20.

25¬†But Jesus called them to him and said,‚ÄúYou know that the rulers of the Gentiles¬†lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.¬†26¬†It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.¬†27¬†and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,28¬†even as the Son of Man came not to be served but¬†to serve, and¬†to give his life as a ransom for¬†many.‚ÄĚ

At first, His statement can be a little shocking. The word servant or slave can be seen with negative connotations. Jesus did not mean for this to be viewed in a negative way. Instead, He is simply calling us to follow His example. And isn’t His example what so many people crave?

To be served generously when we feel unlovable or unworthy?

To be put first even when we deserve to be put last?

To be blessed by someone when we have been ugly towards them?

I can think of numerous times when people have served me when I did not deserve it nor ask for it, and it is beautiful beyond words.

I want to be that for other people. For my family. For my friends. A woman who is defined by servanthood.

And not because I expect them to serve me in return. But simply because the God of the universe did this for me and He asked that I follow His example.

And the surprise blessing is that when we DO serve others, our hearts are filled with joy in ways that we did not expect.

To add depth¬†to servanthood, I have also been dwelling on Philippians 2:14 where Paul tells us to “do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Because let’s face it- when I¬†serve while grumbling in my head, it is not really servanthood. ¬†It is mustered up action to make myself feel good or because I feel like I am supposed to.¬†I know I cannot serve in my own strength. It must come from dwelling on what Jesus has done for me.

The question I have been asking myself is, “Whose feet can I wash today (metaphorically?)”

What about you? Whose feet can you wash?

Sacred Marriage

For the year 2015, my goal has been to focus on intentionality. This month, I decided to dive into how I can grow in being intentional in my marriage. I did this in a few ways- by reading the book “Sacred Marriage, by attending an Authentic Intimacy conference, and by asking my husband intentional questions about ways I can grow in my marriage to him.

Marriage is a really beautiful thing. D and I have been married five years this October. I know this is not a long time, but it is a big milestone to me. It is important to me as I look at our marriage that I still view it as healthy. Two children (with one on the way!), broken relationships, hard times in business, and learning each other’s personalities in deeper ways has certainly brought challenges to our union, but I love that as I sit here and think about D, I am still madly in love with him!

We have so much fun together. He understands my humor like no one else. He seeks to understand me like no one else. He is wise, patient, and confident. He is my absolute best friend. Praise God!!

In reading the book “Sacred Marriage,” I have been reminded that a great marriage is not just something that “happens.” It does take work and intentionality. In addition to this, it is not just for D and I to enjoy, it carries so much weight when it comes to the kingdom of God.

Marriage calls us to holiness in deep ways. I am constantly being exposed to my selfishness and my attitude issues. If all I am seeking is happiness or for the ways in which D needs to change, I am headed towards disappoint me. The Lord desires to use marriage to change me, to make me more like Him. This has been exciting and a wake up call for me.

Marriage also teaches us SO much about the Lord. Referring to Ephesians 5, where Paul talks about husbands loving their wives like Christ loved the church, Thomas states, “As long as couple is married- they continue to display- however imperfectly- the ongoing commitment between Christ and his church.” As I seek to lay myself down for my husband’s needs, I can learn more about how Christ laid down His life for the church. He laid down preferences, rights, selfish ambition, sinful desires, all for the sake of His bride. Not only does this make me ooze with thankfulness for the Lord, it reminds me to take marriage seriously. I want my children, family, and the outside world to see Christ in our marriage.

Here are some other ways “Sacred Marriage” challenged me:

1. Honor. The book encouraged me to look at how I honor my husband. “We are called to honor someone even when we know only too well their deepest character flaws.” This led to a great discussion between D and I on how we both feel honored, both in the home and out of the home.

2. Holiness. Another question D and I asked each other was “Where do you see unholiness in my life?” This was sparked by Thomas stating, “We must not enter marriage predominantly to be fulfilled, emotionally satisfied, or romantically charged, but rather to become more like Jesus Christ.” This is hard. It is not easy to hear your spouse tell you where you may be falling short. But, it is also exciting. No one knows me as well as D, so of course I want to be spurred on into Christlikeness by the one who knows both my flaws and my strengths.

3. Fear. One of the biggest battles I wrestle with in life is fear. Fear of many things, but more specifically fear of the “other shoe dropping” in our marriage. Even in reading this book, I had to face fears as Thomas told stories of affairs and broken marriages. I catch myself thinking, “Well it is year five for us and things are going really well, when is it all going to fall apart?” Ugh. Such ugly thinking!! The Lord has come for us to have life and have it to the full. (John 10:10) I do not need to believe that we are one day going to enter something that will destroy our marriage. It has been great for me to fight this fear and also to pray for my marriage to teach me surrender to the Lord. Thomas talks a decent amount about how suffering in marriage does not always indicate a huge problem. It’s pretty likely we are going to suffer, but what if instead of running away we pushed through? We fell forward into each other and into Christ, because again, marriage is about making us more like Him. He states, “Perhaps he can set us free from the notion that a difficult marriage will hold us back rather than prepare us for our life’s work; maybe he can yet cut us loose from the chains that bind us to the seeking of tension-free lives over the building of lives of meaning and character.” I want to be a wife that preserveres, that continues to give herself to her husband, and to keep on loving and forgiving D even when it is hard to do so.

4. Vision. What is our vision for our marriage, for each other, for our children? This has been a fun question to delve into with D. One of D’s primary gifting is that he is a visionary. Several people have spoken this into his life and we have seen his visions come to fruition, but we do not always focus on a vision for our family. I am excited to see how the Lord continues to teach us in this area.

5. Mission. It was nice to be reminded that D and I have both been gifted in different ways. How are we going to use those gifting? What will our family on mission look like? How will we be intentional in our marriage so that we glorify God?

There is so much more that I learned, but I would write all day! I highly encourage you to check this book out ūüėČ

Marriage is a splendid gift. One I am immeasurably thankful for. One that brings deep joy to my soul.

I want our marriage to provide stability and places of grace for our children. I want them to see Christ in the way we love each other.

I am the only one who gets to love D in this way. I pray the Lord uses me and changes me and grows me to do this in a holy and God honoring way! 35773_1362935359570_4738823_n

Choosing Righteous Words

This morning my girls and I spent some time at the library. As they were playing, I skimmed Proverbs 16. There are so many nuggets of gold in there! But, the pattern that struck my heart this morning was how often the author mentions the power of our words:

Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
    and he loves him who speaks what is right.

The wise of heart is called discerning,
    and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
    and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Wow.

I want to be a woman that is known for sweetness of speech, who speaks what is right- even when it is hard, who brings life to someone’s soul and body, who can control her spirit. What a delight it would be to be around a person like that!

I was encouraged and motivated by all of this and as I sat in the beautiful sunlight I asked the Lord to make my words pleasing and righteous.

We had a great time playing. Since I had just been reminded of the power of my words, I was careful when speaking to my girls, trying to be gentle and intentional with what I said to them. The quality time with them was joyful.

As I was putting MK into the van, M insisted that she stand by the doors and wait for me to come get her since it was “too cold.” We had done this several times before so I trusted her to wait. This time was different,¬†however, because as soon as MK’s door was shut, I hear a woman yelling, “Wait, hold on!” as she holds M back from walking into the parking lot. She did not wait.¬†I grabbed M as I apologized to the woman explaining that I was coming to get her and was met with nothing but a disappointed glare.

Because my pride was wounded and I was frustrated over M’s ¬†and my decision making, I disciplined her by talking sternly to her. Now of course, discipline was merited. She did not listen and she could have gotten hurt. But, my words were not life-giving, they were shaming. I was not slow to anger. I did not control my spirit.

The incident raised questions in my heart for me.

It is easy to speak gracious words in times of joy, what about when strife hits?

What about when my pride is damaged?

When I mess up and need to recognize my error?

What about when I am scared?

Doubting?

Hurt by someone closest to me? What does it look like then?

How do I have the ability to change hearts and to change the way my children view discipline when I still speak righteous words and tell them what they need to hear but do it in  a way where I am slow to anger? When I am put in check?

These verses are not conditional. They don’t say “Gracious words are like honeycomb except when your emotions tell you it’s okay to use undesirable words,” or, “He loves a person who speaks righteously but understands when you spew out your feelings.” No. I believe there is a way to speak like this even when it is hard.

I am thankful for this reminder today. A beautiful reminder of the power of words even when it is not easy. A good wrestling match for me to have. I am grateful for grace and that He can and will transform my heart as I seek wisdom with words.

Beyond Five in A Row- Goodnight Moon

We completed our first week of homeschool this week!

A little behind the curve I know ūüėČ

I have chosen to use the curriculum from Before Five In A Row. It is meant to still allow a child to play and explore while learning through creativity and literature. It is based on children’s books which you “row.” This means you read them five times in a row- once a day- or more, and then the lessons are based off the book. It has worked perfectly for us because M keeps asking to do “schoolwork” but it is so play oriented that it is not super structured and stressful for anyone. Plus, MK can join in and she loves it!

In addition to this, we are learning our alphabet. I am using printables I bought off Confessions of A Homemaker.

Each day we listened to the song for our letter from Songs for Saplings. They put a bible verse to music and my girls LOVED it. It’s joyful to watch and hear them learn the Bible at such a young age. This week was “Keep me as the apple of your eye. Psalm 17:8”

I decided to start with the book Goodnight Moon because it has been one of M’s favorites since she was a baby. It was a sick week for us, so we did not do as much as I would have liked, but the girls still had a blast, and I am looking forward to diving into a new book this week.

Here is a glimpse into what we did:

During MK’s nap time, M explored the sensory bin I made for Goodnight Moon. It had a¬†comb, a¬†brush, some stars, three little bears, and pom poms for the red balloons. These are all “characters” in the book.

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Next, we did some activities with our “Do a Dot” paint, filling in the letter “A” and making an apple.

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On Wednesday, I poured salt into a bin and they used a comb and a brush to explore. They enjoyed this activity until M threw it and it got into MK’s eyes. Real life here!

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We sang more songs, practiced fine motor skills with tongs and our “balloons”, and drew A using our dry erase marker to practice writing.

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For the rest of the week, we played with different forms of mush imitating the bowl full of mush in Goodnight Moon, used clothespins to hang up socks and mittens, and painted with apples.

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Our first week was wonderful and I believe the girls enjoyed learning. I am excited to dive into “Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?” and the letter B this week!

Have you ever rowed a book?