Saturday, June 7, 2014

Today was our first time...

visiting our local homeschool convention. And all in all it was a good time. 

This is the first time I'm writing publicly about this. About a year or so ago God started prompting me that this might be the path for our little family. At first I kept it to myself, it isn't often I feel the Holy Spirit move me like that and I was nervous. I prayed and continued to feel that tug. So I approached Matt. He was open to homeschooling, but as we talked we both agreed that we will revisit the decision yearly to make sure that we are doing what is best for our family and he was also nervous for the demands it would put on me. His thought were mirroring mine so we talked a lot about it. We decided that for now, yes this is what we should do.
I've worked with Lauren at home for the past two years so this is really nothing 'new' per say but it feels more official since this coming year would/could be her first year in preschool and this is the first time I purchased "curriculum" and got a few books to read up on the whole thing. So I decided to continue my 'investigation' by heading to the convention. 

The association that puts on the convention also made an offer I couldn't refuse, if you were a first timer and your oldest kids was under 5 you got in for free! So I signed us up and headed downtown.

Now I had no idea what to expect, so it was hard to prep the kids. Lauren's personality just enjoys having a sense of what lay ahead- the more I prep her, often the smoother a 'new to her' situation can go. I think that is true of lots of personalities, no one really likes the unknown. So she seemed very apprehensive to drive to the city and do ??who knows what?? I did know that there were lots of lecture sessions on a large variety of topics and keynote speakers. I planned to avoid making my 16 month old and 3.5 year old sit through any of that. Then there was the vendor area and the used curriculum area, so those were on my agenda and also just walking around.

We first had to sign in since I had pre-registered and Lauren and Olivia both felt so special that they too received name tags (Olivia didn't figure out how to destroy hers for the better part of the morning, go her, or me?!). Lauren saw the escalators and the whole time asked if we were going to go upstairs- I kept informing her that our double stroller was in no way built for that, and neither was mommy! (I had a horrible flashback of taking the two sweet kids I nannied each summer all through college to the mall and leaving the eldest at the top of an escalator since she hesitated just a little when we were getting on- oh that was frightful, but thankfully there were people around to help!) 

We walked around the vendor area for over an hour, stopped to enjoy a small lunch, and then continued to walk around. So much to see. Lauren got out of the stroller for a bit to walk- some of the booths had interesting things for a little girl to look at, like books and such. She often directed where we went. Olivia just enjoyed the view and chilled, like she usually does- oh I wish she got the easygoing, laid back part of her personality from me! We then headed to the used curriculum area- it was like a huge garage sale of educator material. I didn't realize that you needed a ticket to get in and apparently I didn't get one- but a nice lady gave me an extra she had. (Afterwards I realized that was suppose to go in at 3 when it opened up to everyone- yikes, I didn't plan on staying that long so I was very grateful for the lady who helped us out.) I looked in a few sections, mostly the pre-k and didn't see much. It was interesting since things were priced for Friday and then had lower prices for Saturday, and in some cases much lower prices. So next time I know to go Saturday since it will be cheaper? But I'm sure everything is more picked over at that point. Again I wasn't looking for anything really- just browsing. 

The only things I paid for was parking (stupid city parking) and a couple hotdogs and a bag of chips. It would have been neat to sit in on a few of the lectures but maybe when the kids are older or when Matt comes too? All in all I'm glad we went and got a feel for everything. There is really so much out there and really lots of people, support, and product. So now I have to go through the huge stack of brochures and such that I took home for thinking about the future.

You see this past year, and still ongoing, we did a letter and a bible story a week. Well theoretically we did a letter/bible story a week I should say. Some weeks we did two letters, some one, some none. Slowly we've made our way through the alphabet. Doing calendar time, weather, learning new bible songs and stories, doing crafts, memorizing bible verses, going on field trips, learning how to write letters and their sound, coloring, and we've read lots of books. So I would call it a success because she has learned a great deal. 

For this coming year my goals are a little different. I've picked a curriculum that will allow me to involve Olivia in this time too. I wanted something that was more broad, yet more encompassing. Something that stressed the Bible and character development. But also had a little bit of math, science, and self awareness. I found all of this and more in the Bright Beginnings curriculum. I also see myself being able to use it for multiple years- so even though it was not at all expensive- it might prove to be even more inexpensive if I can use it for multiple years. 

One of the parts I struggled with this year was that I made the curriculum for all 26 letters. I pulled from multiple resources, including ABC Jesus Loves Me and 1+1+1=1 blog, and then added my own stuff in there. Well this created A LOT OF WORK for me. And after I got going I really didn't use some of the stuff I worked hard to create. At first it wasn't so bad since I got ahead, but then I caught up to myself and found it hard to find time to keep up with the lesson planning part. I'm still not done, hence why we're still not done with the alphabet quite yet, but we're getting there. We made it to 'T' and we're still going somewhat strong :/ I think.

Another thing that I struggled with was watching Brooke. There were a few times this past 'school year' that I had her regularly for weeks on end and yes she could do some of it, but my whole day flows different when I have her and it just added a different dimension to our activities. With this new curriculum it won't matter if Brooke is here or not, she'll just be able to join right in. Since part of what I'm learning is really the scheduling of the day and routine. Right now, I'm doing it during times when Olivia sleeps and it is Lauren's and my special time and I do naptime a little different when Brooke is here and whatnot. So next year since it will be involving both kids it will be just adding her to the activity I've already got planned. 

Just like anything until you do it and work out the kinks I'll never know just how much I'll like it. But I've prayed on this a lot and really like what I see- the short, interesting, easy to do lessons will allow some flexibility and we'll just figure it out as we roll along- 'tis life! Please feel free to leave a comment or email me if you have any questions- not that anyone has ever done that, but hey you never know! So we might be finishing up our letters just in time to start our new curriculum, but thats okay!

"Those who plan what is good, find love and faithfulness." Proverbs 14:22

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What I've Learned from Lauren...Again

First I have to start with the amazing events that just unfolded before me, which need to be recorded...

I think Olivia is phasing out of two naps a day. She will often need a day or two with both naps but she's doing much better with just one most days- she's getting so old. Matt and I are happy but a little sad for her being the big girl that she is. So anyway- this has created a change in routine around here. Lauren has enjoyed her "alone time" with mommy while Olivia napped in the morning, so as we grow and adjust I'm trying to find some time when her and I still get a little bit of one on one time. 

Since this change is very recent I'm still working it all out. So far my plan is to put Olivia down before Lauren, at around 1. She sure isn't going to be able to make it until 2, which was her old afternoon nap time and Lauren's 'nap time' as well. So it worked out rather nicely today. Lauren and I did some school stuff after Olivia went down and then we headed upstairs to play a game of candyland before I let her pick- nap or quiet time. She picked quiet time but wanted to play in her bed. I told her sure. So she found Pictionary Junior under her bed (where I keep all of our board games) and I gave her the gist of what to do and left her with the radio on, windows open and she seemed rather content. I did have to remind her mommy was planning for bible study tonight- so no calling mommy upstairs (this is a reminder that I need to make or quiet time is not very productive for either of us). I set the timer and left the room. When I finished planning and doing a few other little things and I headed upstairs to surprise her since I was done early and excitedly headed up to greet her with a snack and was hoping we could snuggle and read with our extra time. Well I walked into a room with a sleeping girl- in her bed, snuggling her lovey and under the covers as if I had put her down myself. What?!?!  Well I don't think this will happen everyday, which is why I wanted to get it down here but she is blowing me away today and yesterday with what a big girl she is becoming. Last night with Matt (I had a LebCamp meeting at church) she picked up the tub without being asked or without any assistance, got herself out of the bath, dried herself off, and started doing lotion while Matt was putting Olivia down to bed. This has never happened before! We have ourselves two sweet girls growing so big before our eyes. 

That leads me to my original story....

So Lauren is going through a phase in preschoolhood (I know that is not a word, but you know what I mean) where she wants EVERYTHING and she wants it NOW! She loves Thomas the Train- she has a good stash of the trains from holidays and garage sale finds from her Grandma. She just wants them ALL. She loves the Cars movie and talks about getting this car and that car too. She also enjoys reading and so many of the Clifford, Berenstain Bear, Franklin, and other books have pictures on the back cover showing other books you can get and she would love to have them ALL. So you get my drift- she's got a case of the "Gimmies" as they would say in the Berenstain Bear book. Please understand that I am fully aware that this is normal preschooler behavior and am in no way appalled or upset with her for acting this way- but it is a bit wearing on us, as you will see. 

We've been talking for a while now about not being able to have everything we want. How even if we just want "one more" it will never be enough because as soon as we get that "one thing" we'll find just one more thing to want. We've had this conversation over a dozen times. Well this morning it happened again...much to my delight (sorry I know that I'll have to have it two dozen more times and I'm okay with that but sometimes I just wish she get it so we can move on...on to what you ask...the next life lesson I guess, so what's the rush- oh bother, as Winnie the Pooh would say).

The morning starts with her wanting to watch a movie (another struggle right now). I said no we couldn't and that created an immediate temper tantrum and whining- oh the whining. Then we getting ready for breakfast and Matt, completely oblivious to her intentions, tells me that Lauren asked to go to Tractor Supply this weekend and Matt thought it would be fun. I informed her,yes that would be but we would NOT be getting a tractor (which I knew is what her little heart desired). Again with the temper tantrum and whining- have I mentioned how whining is my ultimate pet peeve and I can't stand it at all- scream, fuss, pound your feet- but don't whine!) This begins, again, our conversation about not getting everything we want and how she has two tractor toys and that is plenty. And again, if she's too busy worrying about what she doesn't have she's not enjoying the stuff she does have. Like the two tractors upstairs. And how we can't have it all. 

Now it's after breakfast- oh my brain and energy are still recovering from the last two meltdowns of the morning but Lauren has more in store for me. As I'm getting her dressed she informs me she needs a new Mater the tow truck, she needs ALL of them. I'm now envisioning in my head just hitting against a brick wall again and again as I once again start my speal. So I start back at the beginning of my and go at it again but this time add "how would you feel if all of your toys went away and you had no toys?" I told her mommy could take them all away and then she would miss what she had all along and how we need to be grateful for all that we have. Wanting stuff isn't going to make us happy, we're just going to keep wanting MORE and MORE stuff- that's why we need to focus on the things that really matter- love and family and friends. 

But it wasn't until lunchtime that this very long, exhausting lesson/conversation/discussion came full circle. I had finished eating my lunch before the girls, which is very normal in our house even though I feed them first. So I got out our Jesus Storybook Bible (great, great book) and read the second chapter to them (we've gone through it multiple times and had started over again- we rotate books and usually get in our devotional time at lunch) about God creating the earth and man. It was after reading it that Lauren asked why God didn't want them to eat from the tree. I said "Well God had created us with free will, or the ability to make choices. He created that tree to be extra special and asked Adam and Eve not to eat from it. He gave them all of the other trees in the world to eat from- all that God created was theirs, except that one tree. And Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God and have the ONE thing they couldn't. You see Lauren they had everything they could have ever needed or wanted- everything but they wanted that one thing they didn't have just like you. When they ate the fruit they did the one thing God didn't want them to do. That is why we are people who always want ONE MORE THING- that one thing we don't have. When all we really need is the love God can give us and the love our family and friends give us. That is what is really important."

My daughter is a thinker- she may not have understood all of what I was saying but let me tell you she got some of it and so did I. This is a lesson I'm still learning- for sure!! I know I'll be saying it again and again- and I might want to hit my head against that brick wall again, but she will get it one day. I feel so blessed to have this time to teach her, lead her, and instruct her. She'll someday understand that our hearts can NEVER be filled with things but only with LOVE, and most importantly the love our heavenly Father has for us. Oh how she teaches me over and over how I need to live my life. I'll be forever in awe of the wonderful child God gave me because he knew I would need her as much as she needed me!

"God is so good, God is so good, He's so good to me!" - Our school song this week!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"You're such a mother!"

This is a quote that came right from my sweet husband's mouth tonight as we were getting the girls out of the van at our local frozen yogurt shop (we tend to frequent there since they always have a dairy free option for Olivia). I was quite proud of him saying it, even if I knew it was a bit of a mocking tone behind it. Well you see I'm an over packer, I'll be the first to admit it- I've always been this way. From as far back as I can remember when we would head to dad's house every other weekend, my sister and I would pack up our bags for our overnight adventure. My sister's bag always looked sickly and deflated since it contained only what she needed in it- but not my bag, no sire! My bag was busting at the seams. 

So this crazy need to have anything I just might need at a moments notice has spilled over into motherhood. The diaper bag is always over equipped for most trips out of house. There have been times Matt says he doesn't even try and zip it for fear of breaking it. I on the other hand, I never have any problem because it's all about placement- if it's all in the right spot it closes with no problem. Esther recently went diaper bag diving for me when I was mid diaper change- didn't realize I needed some rash cream until after the fact- and she was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff I had in there. 

I know, you're thinking- where are you headed Jennifer?!? Okay, I'm getting there...so tonight we headed to the frozen yogurt place and it was in the evening after dinner, sun going down, so I sheepishly snuck some coats in the car without Matt noticing- for fear that he would mock me for bringing them. So it wasn't until we were unloading the girls that he spied my coat stash. He's laughing at my need to always be over prepared and teasing me about it. I do have to say I do this often, getting a chuckle from him every time. But do you know what... tonight IT WAS COLD!!! All three of us girls were nice and cozy in our coats while he was cold. So for that one time when I was saving our girls from freezing to death, I mean we were practically hypodermic here! Okay so not really...but if that makes me 'such a mother' I'll take it!  

I won't mention though that yesterday evening when the temperature was a little higher and I had Olivia and I in coats, Matt laughing at us again, and we might have been a bit over bundled- no I didn't just admit to anytime when Matt might be in the right ;-)

Good thing we can laugh at each other and ourselves- and if you ever need anything, ask and I'll just check my bag for you!

"...Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 7:20

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My Phil Dunphy Moment

I had a moment the other day that reminded me of a funny episode of Modern Family (such a funny show)- it makes me laugh now but it didn't then! I was upstairs straighten up so I could vacuum. The morning was getting away from me as I rushed around and started to make Lauren's bed. That's when I heard the beep, the unmistakable beep that a smoke detector with low batteries makes. I stopped what I'm doing and listened- it didn't seem to be one upstairs. So I head downstairs...

Matt had just put up all new smoke detectors downstairs the night before so I was confused as to how one could already have a low battery. So I listen again, I could still hear it but it wasn't them. It was louder though so I thought maybe it was upstairs and it was louder because it was coming through the baby monitors. So I headed back upstairs...

No definitely not upstairs. I was feeling so frustrated as it dawned on me that I had just taken the extremely stinky garbage out that morning, setting it just outside the back door and the old smoke detectors were in there. So I headed to the back door and that's where the noise is coming from!

I call Matt, who's on his way to work, and ask him what to do. He made fun of me for this later. But I tried to explain later that I was too frustrated to figure it out on my own since I was about to go dumpster diving into a very, VERY stinky bag of garbage that had a nice poopy diaper sitting right on top- yuck! Matt informed me that I just needed to take the battery out. 

So I sit down on the floor just inside the door and begin to open the bag- apparently it looked like a fun activity since Olivia and Annabelle decide to join in. So now I'm elbow deep in the garbage fending back a toddler who wants to sit in my lap and a cat who seeing the wide, wide world just beyond her whiskers. 

I found the first of the three detectors- no that one already had the battery taken out. Then I move everything around a find another half way down, nope after removing the battery I still am taunted by the beep. Of course it had to be the one ALL the way on the bottom of the bag- bless my heart!

Let's just say I had my Phil Dunphy Moment that day!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Snip-it of Life

January 2012 was the last time I write a "day in the life of" post and that was a whole year before Olivia graced us with her sweetness, so I was thinking that today would be a good day to record a snapshot of our life these days - just so I can look back and remember, like I just did with this post.

I'm not sure you can call today typical, since our days seem so random now. Sometimes were busy little bees and then there are days like today when we can enjoy life at a little slower pace. And today started at a real slow pace, since we all slept in! Unintentionally though;-) Matt had turned off his alarm yesterday morning and then forgot to turn it back on last night- oops. So instead of a beep, beep, beep- it was the phone at 7:45 that woke our sleepy eyes. It was the local police department sending a message of a missing elderly person who hadn't been seen since 10 pm last night, yikes, luckily we received a call an hour later letting us know she had been found and was reunited with her family- Amen!

After hanging up the phone I noticed that the monitor to Lauren's room was off, another reason we had slept in. She was awake, but just laying in bed, and I heard Olivia stirring too. So up we got- Matt to the shower and me to the girls. We played upstairs a little after getting everyone up- no need to rush today.

We made our way down for breakfast, where the girls busied themselves while I unloaded the dishwasher, made toast, cut up a banana and got cereal poured into bowls. As I did this Matt finished getting ready and made himself a sandwich and got some yogurt for lunch today. We all got settled at the table, but not without Lauren whining a little to inform us of how hungry she was and how Olivia got into her seat first- she stomped and pouted as we fussed at her, low blood sugar can cause children (and us big ones too) to melt down at the smallest of indiscretions. We prayed and ate. Matt rushed so he could make it out the door at normal time despite waking up over an hour late- we all helped. He was gone by 9 and by 9:15 breakfast was cleaned up and our day forged ahead.

My sister was in my hometown visiting my mom, so I had them it on my 'list of things to do'- to call and see how the visit was going. Any conversation that has all three of us ladies in is always one filled with crazy and laughs. They had called the night before while driving someplace to inform me of the nutty things happening, apparently my mom screamed for Shauna to stop the car so they could pick up an urn that someone had just thrown out of their car, only my family!- it made me miss them and glad we well see them coming up soon! But as the girls and I sat on the couch, phone ringing, awaiting someones answer I smelled some unpleasantries- my mom picked up with a mouth full of toothpaste to tell us they were busy and they'd call us back later. This worked out nicely because I noticed Olivia didn't smell so fresh- time for a diaper change! Afterwords, Lauren asked me to read her a book I had laying about, she wanted me to read it out loud to her- she wanted to hear a story all about mommy and daddy. I said 'well this book isn't about us but we could read the photo books!' and she loved that idea. So we started with our wedding album and made it through Lauren's first photo book before the girls got antsy and wanted to do other things. Lauren wanted me to get out the box of coloring books and a bag of stuffed animals we're borrowing and Olivia just wanted to be with us, doing whatever it is that we were into at that moment.  That's when I decided the opportunity for shower time was here!

They played about and wondered in and out of the bathroom as I quickly got myself together. I put the cloth diapers into the dryer and then Olivia pulled me to play bug bowling with her, only to be distracted by Lauren and we all came back into the living room, where we continued reading one more photo book. Then I noticed the sleepy girl next to me who was ready for morning nap- it was 10:30 already?! Diaper change, snuggles, and goofiness sent Olivia off to dreamy land and I headed back downstairs to see what Lauren had planned for our "alone time", as she calls it. She was coloring her books from earlier and we decided to do a quick school activity before painting. I checked email while she colored her "Q" sheet, cut it out, and pasted the "Q" items onto the big green "Q." By the time she was done with that I was done with email and we got out all the stuff for painting. She painted, we talked, and I typed some of this blog- of course stopping every 30 seconds to assist in any way I could. She finished painting a heart, a train, and then made fun shapes and hand prints on a big cardboard piece I had saved for just such an occasion as this. Then she cleaned up all the paint stuff and herself in the kitchen sink while I headed upstairs to get a little girl up from nap. Lunchtime!

We chatted and ate our lunches together- I was admiring how big the girls were getting, Olivia with her legs dangling out of her high chair. I'm sure it was because we were going though the photo books of when Lauren was just a 5 pound baby that caused me to just take in their personalities and size and sweetness as we all munched on peanut butter graham crackers, popcorn, raisins, and fruit. Olivia babbling what will soon enough be real audible words and Lauren rambling on about this or that. It was all of these emotions that prompted me to call Matt and tell him what big girls we have and see if his day had slowed down some. After hanging up, Lauren with a sad look of disappointment on her face, informed me she did not get a chance to talk to daddy, so we called him back so that she could inform him that she painted a train and how he needed to clean the bath toy walrus this weekend. I could hear the smile he had on his face, that mirrored Lauren's as they talked (he was on speaker phone).

Before I could blink lunchtime was over and I was cleaning the kitchen once again as the girls ran about and played with toys. Lauren whined from the other room, when I was almost done, "when is it time to play with me?" Oh she can be too much! We headed upstairs to put them in some clothes, do hair, and play. We picked out fun seahorse outfits and did hair. While I was doing Olivia's hair Lauren informed me she was going to make her bed- I was blown away by this action- she usually helps me by putting the animals back on and arranging them but this was the first time she did everything by herself and it was so sweet to watch. I ran and get the camera as soon as I was done with Olivia to document such a wonderful occasion. Let's hope she's inspired more often because she did a really good job, I was mighty impressed.

It was then I remembered the diapers in the dryer- the girls love stuffing the FuziBunz so I ran and got them out. Both girls smiled and did their part and the job was done in no time. Now I told Lauren I had a few fun games and she was super excited. We did a little game called 'stomp and clap' where I make up a pattern of stomps, claps and other 'dance' moves they repeat. They had so much fun- one move was a spin and Olivia isn't quiet ready for spinning in a circle so she would walk in a circle- it was too adorable. Now I wished I had video taped it! After that silliness we played 'freeze' were we dance and dance until the music goes quiet and then we freeze- they both enjoyed it but Olivia just kept dancing or roaming about and playing when the music stopped. We were super excited as one of our favorite songs by TobyMac came on, Speak Life. Love. that. song!

Then we played some more and read some books- today was Clifford. Lauren brought me a whole pile of them and she read one and I read one as Olivia sat on my lap and turned pages. It is too precious to watch Lauren "read" books (she just looks at the pictures and enjoys tell me what is happening) but this teacher knows that is a great way to begin to read, so you go girl! As Olivia snuggled into my lap more I realized it was getting close to afternoon nap time. For a slow day it sure was going quickly. So we began our nap time routine- which for many reasons is my favorite part of the day. I enjoy the routine of it and that it is the beginning of 'my time' but mostly because I enjoy just snuggling with them, reading, and talking. I'm NOT a night person and so often at bed time I am just out of energy and plain tuckered out. Plus, with Matt home we usually take a child each and snuggle so that means I don't get to have time with both of them. So nap time is better. I read both girls two books in the nursery as we rocked in the chair all snuggled together. We read Are you a Cow? by Sandra Boynton and The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle- Olivia is really into animals and animal sounds these days. Then we ready our prayer poem book together Really Woolly Bedtime Prayers. Then Lauren went off to use the potty and I snuggled and sang songs with Olivia. Once I had her in the crib I made my way to Lauren's room to read one more book to her- a Thomas the Train book of course. She tried to use her sweet ways to get me to stay but today I needed to plan for Bible study tonight- which I explained to her, so she released me from her cuteness. I headed down stairs grabbed a snack, my bible, and the curriculum binder so that I could figure out what God had in store for my high schoolers tonight. 

We're on our last lesson- Revelations. Not my cup of tea because of all the symbolism and all, but they need to embrace the end of God's glorious story and how it gives us hope and a future to look forward to. So tonight we're going to draw out what heaven might look like from our own perspective- who will be there, what it will look like, and anything else they want to add. Then we're going to talk about them, watch the video that recaps Revelations and read what John says heaven looked like when it was reveled to him. We've been meeting for 31 weeks and have gone from Genesis to Revelation and embraced God's story- Our story. It has been eye opening and faith building- I just can't believe it's almost over. 

Anyway...Olivia enjoyed a nice nap, while Lauren laid for a bit before calling me up there to see if she had laid long enough- and it had been 45 minutes so I let her up to play quietly in her room. That's when I grabbed some more time to write more on here and got everything ready for dinner and Bible study tonight. I'll be sad when Wednesday night dinners stop because: one, I'll have to make dinner 7 nights a week again but two because I'm a social person by nature and enjoy eating with 50+ members of our church family one night each week. But all good things must end- a lesson Lauren is struggling to learn lately. She's been might clingy and very sad when we leave people or people leave us. I think it has a lot to do with two sets of Grandparents coming down in the past month and then leaving- she was heart broken both times people left and she's been extra sensitive about Matt going to work each day. We're working on helping her and praying for her to trust these people don't leave for any other reason than we all can't live together in one big house- although I'm sure she'd have it that way.

Before I knew it Lauren's quiet time was up and she came down to hang with me while we waited for Olivia to wake up. My mom finally called back so Lauren and I made bead necklaces, bracelets, and just random stuff with B-beads as we chatted. My sister had already left for home- so it was more of a low key conversation. Then we heard Olivia stirring upstairs, so I hung up with mom and headed to get her up. I glanced at the clock and was shocked it was already 5:25- oops again- I'm usually in the car waiting for Matt to pull into the driveway at this time. I quickly got Olivia up, changed her diaper, and was putting on shoes when Matt called to tell me he was stuck in traffic and wanted to know what to do. We decided to just meet up at church since he didn't know how much longer he'd be. About midway through my conversation I noticed Lauren pretending to put on Olivia's shoe and then throwing it to make her laugh- Olivia was in stitches over this silliness- oh how I love seeing them grow into friends! 

We were walking across the parking lot at church when Matt pulled in so he wasn't that far behind. We all enjoyed the dinner, fellowship, and fun we had as we ate and chatted. Bible study came and we headed to classes. The girls enjoyed the activity and I enjoyed seeing their heavens. We read the account of heaven from Revelations. Our classroom was actually invaded by the middle school group, which made for lots of silliness and fun during the evening. 

I do have to say that I didn't enjoy the ride home as much as usually, since Matt met us there we drove separately home as well- Lauren and Matt in one car and Olivia and I in the other. I love how we usually chat about our study- what we all did and the rest of our day as we drive home. But today Olivia and I made silly noises back and forth on the unusually quiet ride home. As soon as we all unloaded from the cars though the volume level went right back to the normal and I felt better. We put stuff away and then found ourselves all in our bedroom- us laying and the girls jumping about on the bed. We decided to brush teeth and read books down there tonight just for a change in pace and we were all enjoying the comfort and closeness. So I grabbed books and pjs and Matt did the teeth brushing. We enjoyed a couple of books and prayer together as a family. Matt took them to their beds and I finished this post. But now it's time to spend with Matt before I pass out and we start all over again tomorrow. 

Nothing flashy or super exciting but these are the days of our lives and I wouldn't change them for the world!

Sweet Olivia
Crazy Lauren
Check out the beautifully made bed!
"He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children." Revelation 21:6-7

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I'm not perfect but my God is!

If I were to go back in time and talk to myself ten years ago I don't think I'd believe myself when I heard where God would take me in ten years. If you asked me ten years ago what my life would be like in the future- I'm not sure I could have even imagined my life as I know it now. Yes, I wanted to marry Matt and yes, we wanted a family, and yes, I wanted to be a teacher but I couldn't have written this story as well as God has.

Ten years ago we were coming out of another very cold and long winter, which looking back I find very ironic. After finish up with college and student teaching that winter- I spent the first part of 2004 living with my mom and stepdad, and driving about an hour to see Matt- although I remember him driving an hour to see me more often, he was wonderful even back then! That was such a growth time for my relationship with my mom and stepdad. They were there for me during a time when I needed their spiritual and emotional guidance. They really helped me grow in ways I only see now looking back. The time with them was one where I was starting to stretch my legs as an adult, and their gentle guidance was exactly what I needed. Trying to figure it all out, thinking I knew more than I actually did and being so naive to the wide world that lay ahead of me. God so wonderfully placed me in their care for just such a season and I can see that now. Good thing He knows best.

Ten years ago, in 2004, I had just finished college and the world was at my fingertips. I remember wanting a job so bad. I had worked so hard in college and I was so asking God to give me the job of my dreams- teaching at the elementary level with a good school system, where I would work and get my masters (which I believe I was asking God to put me at a wonderful school system that would pay for said masters degree...lol). I was putting out applications and interviewing. Oh, I didn't even have a full understanding then of what it meant to be a teacher, the hours, the long hours. The emotional strength you need to endure the needy children each year. The bureaucracy of schools and how that affects your classroom- oh I was so naive! But I thought I knew what I wanted- thankfully God knows best.

I don't think I could have imagined the road the Lord would take me on, us on for that matter. In 2004, on July 20th, Matt would ask me to be his wife- ten years later I couldn't imagine my life without him. I don't think then I had an inkling of how perfectly matched we were for each other. I didn't yet see how his strength and stability were exactly what I would need to make it through the rough roads that lay ahead. That his sense of humor and caring touch would allow me to grow into the 'me' God intended. I couldn't have possibly seen how perfectly paired we were for enjoying this life as husband and wife and as parents but most of all as best friends. I didn't yet see how God knew what I needed in a husband before I did. But I sure am glad that my blue eyes met his mysterious brown eyes and ten years later, the sparkle God created in those eyes would still be shining- and even brighter if I might add that! What a wonder His love is and how He knows best.

Ten years ago I couldn't have dreamed of the two girls who lay asleep upstairs. Yes I wanted babies...children but God knowing best blessed me with ones that complete our family in a way that only they could. There are some nights I lay in bed and wonder about the babies God is holding tight in heaven for us and I wonder about them, how they will make our heavenly family just as it should be too- they are perfect in a way that only God could have made them. I pray often for them and how if they weren't waiting for me in Heaven, then I wouldn't have the two girls I do here on earth- tears fill my eyes when I thank God for knowing best, which babies needed Him more than me and which ones need me to fill them up with His love first. Without the tears, I think I might not have seen His glory quite as bright as I do now. "His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Good thing He knows best. 

I know ten years ago I didn't yet realize that we were going to move away from home, and forge a life of our own. Looking back I see God walking next to us through the good times with smiles and laughs and the rough times with tears and broken hearts. I didn't yet see how my faith in Him would grow with each passing year- and that each struggle and each triumph would build me into the character I possess now. 

I wouldn't change a thing- although when I look back to my dreams of ten years ago, ones of being married to Matt and having a family and a career, all things that did come out of the last ten years- I wouldn't have ever imagined a story as wonderful as the one I call my life. I'm not perfect, far from it in so many ways, but my God is and he has written the most perfect life story for me...and the best part is the story isn't over...there is more to come! How awesome is that!!

Now, looking ahead for what the next ten years might hold just makes me excited. Like my daughter's wide eyes, filled with excitement and wonder on Easter morning- I think of what God's plans are for us.  I know they will be filled with struggles and blessings- as they should be. I wonder about how big our family will eventually be. I wonder how my role as mom will change as my family grows. I can't even begin to imagine how much stronger my marriage could be as Matt and I continue to navigate this world together- cords bound together by God. I wonder about the lives I could impact with God love if I just continue to remember that God's will be done in my life- that I can be his hands and feet in this broken world. It's a good thing I'm not perfect and God is- because I have a feeling He's a better story writer than I am!

 Matt and I ca. 2004
Matt and I ca. 2014

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7