Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where's my Apron?

10 years ago I would have told you I was going to be a high profile lawyer who was unmarried and had no kids. I would be traveling the world telling others about Christ and making a huge difference. I majored in English Education for the sole purpose of having the freedom to live anywhere in the world I wanted to and get a job.

5 years ago I would have told you that I would soon be moving to China with my husband. We wouldn't be having kids anytime soon; we were going to tell others about Jesus and change the world. To quote my best friends and I from college "life is to short to live boringly" would have been my mantra.

Currently, I am married. I have 3 kids, I stay home, I drive a mini van, and I have found a new love for cooking things from scratch. My how dreams and life choices change in 10 years!

But as I sit here enjoying my home made granola bars and my home made whole wheat bread while listening to my girls giggle at each other, I wouldn't change it for the world. Well, maybe I would change taking out the poopy diaper trash, but other than that, praise God that He leads my life and not me =)

Book Review

When I first began reading this novel, I was a bit skeptical. "Another cheesy way to share the gospel" was my initial thought. Let me just admit up front that I was completely wrong.

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart is a cleverly written story about a young Knight to the Prince. The story parallels the life of a Christian in service to our Savior. Throughout this knight's journey, he is faced with a lot of doubt about who exactly the Prince is, why bad things happen in the world, the authenticity of the "Code", and many other important questions. This knight attempts to ignore the doubt and fears he has about his service to the Prince and so eventually is overcome by Lord Drox, representing the evil in the world. It is only through an encounter with Mister Sejus (the Prince) that the young knight becomes strong enough to fight and overcome Lord Drox.

This novel eloquently deals with the doubts and fears that most young Christians have. It shows such a vivid picture of what the Christian life looks like when you live in apathy and what the Christian life looks like once you have truly encountered and submitted to Christ. While it targets young adults, I couldn't put the book down. My husband made fun of me more than once as I tried to sneak into the back rooms of the house to read without disturbance.

Overall, I personally think this story is so well written and the message it tells is so important that I hope parents buy it for their teenagers. It shows the spiritual battle involved in Christianity in a way where even the most apathetic teenager will understand. I loved the novel, and I hope you get a chance to read it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Spiritual Journey

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" Matthew 12:34

I've been meditating on these verses over the past few days. I think these were some of the first verses I learned as a kid, but yet, this week they have spoken so much truth into my life.

Its almost like the Lord has taken such a simple concept I've learned a million times and given me a visual in my mind as I walk through the day. The visual picture of submission to the Holy Spirit in the midst of the pressures of life. A vivid reminder to get out of the way and let the Holy Spirit refine my heart.

Such a simple truth....

Such a freeing truth...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Family Fun Day

I think we failed on the "family" part of the title! We generally try to make Friday a day where we enter into the girls' world and just have fun at their level. Not for the complete 24 hours of course, but for most of the day, we just relax and play.

Not this week...the dreaded stomach virus attacked me on Friday so all plans were forfeited. Instead Brent finished some home improvement projects that have been on the back burner since little guy was born.

Yup, this week our house got a face lift with some new wood and a fresh coat of paint

and Brent finished it off with the trees on Friday. The girls had a blast "helping" daddy, and the little guy and mommy had a blast sleeping through all the noise of the chain saw. Definitely a "Fun Day" but not necessarily a "family" day!

Saturday we went to Day in the District and tried to be a fun family but I was still a bit sick, the kids activities stopped early, and a tumble into an ant hill by Aves made us all eager to just be back home. Oh well...can't win every time =) We'll try again next week!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tender Hearted

2 am was when the drama started.

After a bath, a couple trips over a trash can, and some fresh PJs, E was finally asleep in a sleeping bag next to my bed.

Not for long though. The drama persisted every 30 minutes until about 4:00am where she finally fell asleep for an hour without throwing up.

About 6am, she stood up next to my bed, grabbed my hand, gave me a hug, and said

"Sorry for waking you up in the night mommy."

In all her misery, she was thinking about me.

Makes me hope I'm that selfless when I'm dealing with them all day

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Spiritual Journey

Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth

I Corinthians 5:7-8

Repentance, spiritual growth, testing, spiritual growth, conviction, repentance, spiritual growth.....

This seems to be the cycle in my life so far. The Lord brings me to a point of conviction and repentance. Immediately afterwards, I begin to walk through a season of intense spiritual growth. This growth usually results in some circumstance where what I am learning begins to get tested. The testing results in more spiritual assurance and growth. But the closer I get to the Lord, the more my eyes are opened to my own sinfulness...and the cycle continues.

Its a good cycle. Its a cycle of sanctification, becoming more like Christ. Becoming more like Christ is so desirable; the path to get there is just sometimes not as attractive.

I think the past 2 months have been one where I'm walking through the testing cycle. Its been tough at times, but I'm beginning to see the growth as Christ continues to draw me to himself. I love being drawn closer to Him.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing
James 1:2-3

Monday, September 21, 2009

Groceries, Groceries, Groceries

I have an issue with our grocery budget. Since we started buying diapers for Justus, I always seem to go over budget. This is the week I decided I was going to figure out how to spend less on groceries and come under budget. The google searches began....

After searching out ways to reduce grocery spending, it looked like my 2 options were going to be to give up shampoo or to start making more things from scratch. I know giving up shampoo seems a little extreme, but apparently its all the rage now. Something about using baking soda and water and eliminating chemicals from your body or something like that.

I went back and forth between the two options. Initially I decided to try giving up shampoo. It would take less time than baking huge stockpiles =)

But pretty sure my husband would not be too thrilled about this option and would eventually insist on counseling for me which would probably be more money than our grocery bill currently was so I decided to tackle making things from scratch. Monday after everyone got up from naps, they all got cooking T-shirts on, we played some music and we made 2 dozen banana muffins, a dozen blueberry muffins, and 2 loaves of banana bread (I had just bought a large supply of bananas on sale that I needed to use) The mixing everything up only took about 40 minutes so it wasn't too much time. The flour fight, the sugar dropped on the floor, and the nursing Justus was what made the experience a little lengthy.

We now have a nice little baked good stockpile in the freezer. My thought is to use these for snacks and breakfast and see if we can reduce our bill that way. I'll let you know if I actually follow through or if in 3 weeks I suddenly remember all the baked goods in my freezer that I forgot to use and then end up throwing them out b/c they've gone bad.

So if you happen to see me with greasy hair, you'll know this whole freezer stockpile thing didn't work for me.

Good Night

Said while getting off the potty after going #2

"Good night poo poo"

she turns around to wave good night to it and says

"Oh look, it has its own blankie. Sleep good poo poo with your blankie"

(the "blanket" was the toilet paper in case you were wondering)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Family Fun Day

The morning hours consisted of Imagination Land. We built "houses" and then just played.

Alphabet Puzzles

"Singing" lessons with daddy

"Swimming" lessons
(the blanket was our swimming pool if you couldn't tell)

and Hide N Seek.
After naps, we used the rest of a gift card we had from Elliana's birthday to take a trip to Incredible Pizza where we ran around, played games, drove race cars, ate pizza, and finished the night off with ice cream. What could be better than that =)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gentle Reminder

Dinner Tonight:

Me: "What was your favorite part of the day today?" (fully expecting to hear how wonderful a mom I was b/c I took them to this incredible 2 story playland place and let them play for a couple hours)

A: "Running and riding bikes with you this morning."

E: "Yeah, that my favorite too."

Me: "You liked that better than the playland?"

A: "That was a lot of fun, but I liked just playing with you best."

My gentle reminder of the important things to my kids...30 minutes of individual mommy time trumps 2 hours of playland time. Thanks Father for using the gentle voice of my kids to remind me of this valuable fact.

Monday, September 14, 2009

North or Be Eaten

Our family's favorite kid CD is Slugs, Bugs and Lullabies.

We all enjoy this CD by Andrew Peterson so much that I decided to get on his website to see what else I could buy of his. I was so excited when I discovered that in addition to writing music, he also writes fiction! He is such an incredible word smith that when I was asked if I would review his latest book, I knew that if his fiction was as clever as his CDs, I was going to be hooked!

His latest novel is the 2nd book in the Wingfeather Saga. Here is a short synopsis of the novel.

Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls, over the Stony Mountains, and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.

Normally, I don't gravitate towards fantasy. But this book I couldn't put down. There's fantasy elements mixed with drama mixed with action/adventure all put into one. This whole series will definitely capture the attention of any age kid or adult. If you are looking for a good novel to read aloud to your family or just looking for a book to hide away in for a couple days, I would highly recommend this novel.

You can order this novel for $12 or you can order both book 1 and 2 for $20 by clicking here.

I hope you get a chance to sit down and read this series. I'm definitely going to be one of the first in line to buy book three when it comes out!

(sidenote: I do not earn anything from the sale of this book. I just simply enjoyed it so much that I wanted to pass on the info to all of you)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Family Fun Day

Family Fun Day was relaxing and low key this week. And believe it or not, I took no pictures the whole morning =) But we started off the day with Norwegian pancakes. If you've never had Norwegian pancakes, you'll have to invite yourself over next time. You can't have a bad day when you start it with Norwegian pancakes!

We then took a trip to the gym to work off those pancakes =) Then spent the rest of the morning at Dunn Bro Coffee. Twice a month they do free kids activities in the coffee shop and this Friday was card making day. The girls had fun. I was even talked into getting them this Vanilla Crema something or other for them to split. I clearly did not think that decision all the way through however. While it did not contain coffee, it contained tons of sugar. The time between the coffee shop and nap time was spent running the kids in the backyard =)

After naps, we went over to our great friends house for dinner. Not only are they are friends, but our kids are the best of friends. We got in the car at the end of the night and Avery got really quiet. Suddenly she said, "I'm gonna miss Connor." He is her very best friend.

Their oldest kid is 3 months older than Avery.

Their middle kid is 1 week younger than Elliana.

And their baby is 2 months younger than Justus. We have so much fun when we're all together!

They move on Tuesday and we had to spend one last night as families together. We'll just say I only cried once at their house, twice on the way home, and three times on Saturday. But more about that at a later time! We love you McManus family and will miss you greatly! Thanks for spending Family Fun Day with us!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Girls Night

Every Wednesday, we have girls' night at our house. Brent has rehearsals so he doesn't come home until 10pm which means its just me and the kiddos for the evening. Out of pure laziness, I decided to create Girls Night. See Girls Night is our excuse to put Justus to bed early, make hot dogs or peanut butter sandwiches, pull the table in front of the TV, watch a movie together, eat a special treat, and just be lazy. This summer we skipped the movie and danced to So You Think You Can Dance every week. We're all waiting for the fall season to kick off again! I didn't think the girls were all that into girls night until last week when my parents were here. Avery told grandma and grandpa that it was our girls night and that we usually dance together. She then told grandpa that she thought it might be okay just this once for a boy to be there =)

I guess my laziness has turned into a fun night for all 3 of us. I don't have to do baths and a big dinner and playtime after dinner by myself and the girls get a fun treat in the middle of the week.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My Spiritual Journey

The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
Psalm 45:6-7

Lots of things I'm praying for this week. Lots of things that are heavy on my heart. Friends are moving, mentors for all the women who need mentors, my kids, my husband,... But as I trust God and keep walking, my prayer is Psalm 45. To approach this week with gladness, the gladness that God is more than able to give.

If you see me this week, ask if I've been living as if I've been anointed with the oil of gladness. I think I might need the accountability =)

Goals for this week:
  • Get up by 5:50am to spend time in the word (I'm slowly getting back to the 5:30 wake up time)
  • Finish reading Meditation by Jim Downing
  • Get back to consistently spending time in prayer in the afternoon once everyone is down for a nap. I think this is crucial for me to be able to continue to leave everything at our Father's feet so that I can walk in trust, gladness, and thankfulness throughout my week.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Just Because...

it made me smile

Family Fun Day

Yeah for parents! My parents drove down from Iowa on Wednesday evening and have been spending the weekend with us. I think the older I get, the more I desire to always be around my parents. I thought the opposite was supposed to happen =) So needless to say, I was ecstatic to share the weekend with them.

For some reason, we have never taken my parents down to the stockyards, so that was our adventure this Friday. My dad loves stuff like this so I was surprised when we discovered they had never been.

Avery, my little animal lover, loves the chance to pet all the horses. She is so enamered with animals, I know the endless requests for a dog or a pony are never going to stop. Its always fun for me to watch her interact with animals though!

We had fun walking through the little shops and seeing all that Cowtown has to offer. My dad even posed for some good touristy pictures! The weather was perfect and overcast and not so humid too. It was a perfect day to tour the stockyards.

After naps, we stayed close to home so the kids could just play with grandma and grandpa. My dad is the legendary story telling to the kids. He sits with them for hours and makes up stories. The girls will just sit wide eyed and listen to him forever. Whenever they hear he's coming to visit, they start talking about building forts so that grandpa can tell them stories.
Grandma is the girls special friend. Anytime something exciting happens, they want to call grandma so she can hear about it. When she's in town, they know they will always have someone to color and play with. Have I said I love my parents yet =) I love watching my kids interact with them as well. What a great way to spend family fun day!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sweet Moments

Its times like this where I'm so thankful I get to stay home with the kids so I can witness these moments.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

You Know Your Kid is Stubborn When...

Let me set the stage...

Walking through Walmart. Both girls are in the back of the cart. They start pushing and arguing. I give them their warning and tell them if they argue again, they'll both be walking.

10 minutes later...

Pushing and arguing begins again. I pull them both out of the cart and tell them they made a poor choice and they would now be walking. They both start screaming. Elliana thinks about falling to the floor while screaming but sees me walking away and decides to run after me screaming instead.

10 minutes later...

Avery's screams have weakened to a whimper. She's old enough to know that I'm not going to change my mind. Elliana is still in full volume.

Walk up to the cash register. The nice checker hands both girls a little gift card with some cartoon something or other on it. I think he felt sorry for me, and it was his way to get them to stop crying.

Me: "Avery, what do you say to the nice man?"
Avery: "Thank you"
Me: "Elliana, what do you say to the nice man?"
Elliana: Silence and a stare that could kill
Me: "Elliana, say thank you or you will have to give the toy back."
Elliana: Silence as she hands the toy back, raises her chin, and looks the other way.

Yup, she would rather give the toy back than let momma win...that's my Elliana =)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

My Spiritual Journey

From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.
John 1:16

Disappointment. Definitely been battling disappointment lately. Shattered dreams, canceled getaways, squashed plans...

I don't say this to evoke pity. Life happens. I write this to explain my battle. My battle with FEELING what I KNOW is true. After so many disappointments, its impossible to feel "one blessing after another." But its still TRUTH.

So this week, actually its been a few weeks, but especially this week, I'm moment by moment reminding myself of the TRUTH of eternity and not allowing myself to live in the disappointment of temporary circumstances.

Yes, mediating on John 1:16 has been good for me. God has been more than good to me.