Christmas in Mountainville is coming to a close. Although it's not even December yet, this is the last one in our little New York hamlet. As such, I find myself feeling quite sentimental. For a girl from Tucson, the aura of Christmas in a log cabin set amongst the woods feels rather perfect. Twenty years of warm Christmases backdropped by saguaro cacti makes one appreciate the beauty of a real winter. Since we don't know what town we will be living in the next holiday season, I'm soaking in the essence of Christmas here in our cabin.
At every military post we say goodbye to, I find myself in deep gratitude to God as I look in the rearview mirror. As I glance back, I see His stamp on that season of my life and I can leave with peace and praise. At some posts, I find that God uses me primarily to bless others, and at the next place, He's at work using others to bless me. However, I have struggled to see His fingerprints while stationed here in New York. The large majority of my time has been spent battling one illness after another, and I feel like I'm missing God's plan in my sickness. I often find myself wondering how to be a strong woman of God when I feel so weak. The months left here in West Point are few and I don't want to leave His plan unfulfilled if my flesh is standing in the way.
As a military spouse, the possibility of losing my husband is a nightmare I have had to think on more times than a woman should have to endure. Sadly, I have witnessed other spouses lose their husbands to training exercises and battle. When Sara Bailey approached me about writing a guest article on grief following the loss of a spouse, I understood the relevance of the topic to my community. Sara created TheWidow.net to support her fellow widows and widowers. She is also the author of the upcoming book Hope and Help After Loss: A Guide For Newly Widowed Parents. Please enjoy her article below.
Like all moms, I am on a quest for some mysterious, magical concoction that promises to instill in my children the desire to obey and be kind, loving souls. Wouldn't that be something?! I've read the books. I've listened to the podcasts. I watched the films. I've scoured the blogs. I've taken the courses. I've completed the studies. I've attended the conferences. I've questioned the seasoned moms. (Did I mention I'm "slightly" type-A?) On this journey to craft my dream child, I came to the realization that in my pursuit to instill kindness, we're all just a kind mess. Oh, the grace I need to accept from that knowledge!
Before the leaves returned in early May, I was passing through our living room when a dazzling sunset captured my attention. Instantly, I thought when the trees turn green again, I will miss this glorious site. We live in the middle of the woods and that means that once spring truly arrives, any view beyond our yard is blocked by enormously bountiful trees. The Holy Spirit then touched my heart with this revelation: Embrace the "winter" because it brings a richness of beauty and appreciation that goes unnoticed in the other "seasons" of life.
We've all done it--forgotten a loved one's birthday or anniversary. Isn't it such a terrible feeling when you finally realize it?! Ugh! The worst part is that you usually remember the special date all month long and then, bam! The date actually arrives and it's the one day you don't remember what you've been forcing your brain to keep in the forefront for weeks. In hopes of not allowing the forgetfulness to occur again, I created a celebration sign to help our family remember all our loved ones' birthdays and anniversaries.
Spring is finally here! Literally overnight, the trees sprung their green and our woods are teeming with life. I am so thankful that we can get back to our morning walks, sans twenty layers of clothing and ten minutes of simply getting dressed. This morning we threw on our flip-flops and headed out the door, bucket in hand. The kids love to collect "discoveries" on our nature walks and Lincoln immediately announced that we should fill our bucket with sticks to make a bird's nest--genius!
Last week, my child's occupational therapist asked if my pregnancy had been particularly stressful. Initially, I recalled it rather uneventful, despite some bleeding and constant nausea. Then, as I discussed it with her further, she informed me that the pregnancy was in fact highly stressful and could have played a major role in the development challenges my child faces. And then I began to play this detrimental game we mothers know all too well. It's called The Blame Game.
Hi All, It has certainly been quite awhile since I have written on the blog, six months! Between three kids, diaper changes, nursing, preschool runs, therapies, a million doctor appointments, and minimal sleep (understatement of the century!), there has been no time to write.
Last year, I added the option on my homepage for readers to submit guest posts. I received my first inquiry recently and below is her post about disabled parents preparing for parenthood. Enjoy the read and hopefully, I will be back soon!
If you were to write a letter to your child that reflected your heart's desire for him or her, what would you say? Would it describe the dreams you have for your child? Would you detail the qualities you hope for them to possess? Or, would you simply express your love and devotion? I keep a journal of letters for each of my children and recently finished the first installment for our newest daughter. I hope my children read these journals again and again over their lifetime in order to feel loved, encouraged, and lead. Here is my first letter to our Isla Charlotte.
What special tasks are you doing to record your infinite love for your children? In our social media, Pinterest-perfect culture, the ideas are seemingly endless and overwhelming. We often find ourselves discouraged, thinking we're not doing enough to document and fulfill our kids. Or, we are working tirelessly to discover and create memorable ways to love our kids that cause us angst and exhaustion--I am definitely in this camp! Want to know the most meaningful and simple option? Keep a journal for your child.
As we approach the three-month mark, I wanted to take time to document Isla's life during her second month. As we near the end of this stage, a lot of peace and healing has come to our little girl who was initially struggling with several food allergies. It has also been filled with lots of joy as her smile emerged and giggles are beginning.
Are you failing your spouse? The truthful answer is yes. And so am I. We are all failing our spouse in some way or another. We are human. We are sinners. Thankfully, God offers us His grace and the exact manual for how to do this marriage thing successfully. (We just often choose to ignore His wisdom!) In the eight years I have been married, my desires still regularly get in the way of God's plan for my marriage, paving the perfect path for my failures to take foot. It is this false notion that I'm "fixing" my spouse where it becomes far to easy to point the finger at my husband every.single.time. he fails, in my eyes.
And just like that, Isla is one month old. It has been a whirlwind here, yet I feel like she's been with us much longer. For the first two weeks, she was in that dreamy newborn state that made me think she had a peaceful, easy-going demeanor, but she's added a little spiciness to the mix recently.
Carrying a baby for nine months in the womb is a challenge that God has given to women and one that most of us happily accept in exchange for the blessing of a child. The postpartum aspect, however, is a battle of endurance that many of us forget to prepare for as we image the sweet babe at the end of the finish line. While my body currently struggles to heal from the birth of our third child, I am keenly aware that a mother's body is closely connected to Christ's suffering on the cross.
On May 30th, 2017, we welcomed our sweet Isla Charlotte into the world. For nine months we anticipated her arrival and wondered about this little person that God was bringing into our family. The other night I sat down to write the beginning of her story. Although I am consciously entrenching myself in this stage of newborn snuggles and smells, I am eager to see how God crafts the rest of her story as she grows into a woman of Christ. For now, here is my letter to Isla describing her birth.
Growing up, I wasn't given a single chore. Seriously. Every time I began to put dishes away or vacuum my dad would sweetly, yet firmly, shoo me away and finish the job himself. I can't tell you exactly his reasoning, but I know he felt his children shouldn't be burdened with chores. The thing is, I WANTED to help. My, how my dad and I differ! As soon as my children were old enough to begin helping around the house, I encouraged their desire to participate and involved them in our household duties. Being the list maker and organizer that I am, I created a chore and commission chart for our preschooler, while I worked on one for myself, too.
I have been pretty quiet on the blog about this pregnancy, for no particular reason, but with baby number three just five weeks away from arrival I'm overdue on journaling the details. Above all, I'm ever-so-thankful that this pregnancy didn't start with a frightening first trimester. With both Adeline and Lincoln, I had intense bleeding around six weeks and was given only a 50 percent chance of carrying each to full term. Praise God they both survived and now they get to welcome another sibling into our family.
There are some days when I think I'm going to totally rock (or maybe it's more like simply survive) this three kid thing, and then there are the other days. On some occasions I am able to walk into, through, and out of a store with both kids in tow, respectfully following and obeying me. I imagine the nearby strangers looking on at me (with my growing bump) and my two young children thinking, "Wow, she's got a real handle on this mom thing. Her kids are so well behaved." And then there are the other days.
Just when you think you have a pattern of life figured out, the season changes. The wind shifts, the leaves fall, and signs of a desolate winter appear to move in for a long nap. As a mother, this is the perpetual cycle I live in with our children. As soon as I master one phase and allow myself to finally catch a breath, my kids seem to instantly move on to the next, leaving me baffled, exhausted, and desperately searching for answers on how to successfully manage the new stage of life. Thankfully, there's a way out of this tiring cycle and it all has to do with looking past the struggle.
Yep. I did that. The broken window? All me. The trigger? A sweet little four-year-old that goes by the name Adeline. You see, God decided to gift me with a strong-willed child. Did I just say gift? Yes, you'll see why later. I knew she was spirited from the moment she was born. From that day to this, she attempts to live life on her terms--every moment of every day! The idea of obedience isn't her thing. She is a deal-making, don't-back-down, deeply convicted individual. Or as my husband likes to say, "She takes the day by the balls." That's probably more accurate.
Do you need a little inspiration to boost your prayer life? Do you desire a more focused prayer time with God? Do you sometimes forget to pray for needs that should be lifted to the Lord? Does your home lack the space to set up a war room? If so, it's time for you to create your own prayer journal! This portable war room is perfect for traveling, homes with limited space, and to keep all your prayer requests in one place. Creating your own prayer journal can be as easy or complicated as you wish.
Since having children, I have been intrigued by the idea of homeschooling. Much of it has to do with my love of teaching, in combination with my desire to raise our children firm in the Lord. Throw in our transient military lifestyle, some special needs in our family, an infant on the way, changes in the culture, and New York's curriculum and laws, I'm ready to give this homeschooling thing a shot. I spent two days doing a mini homeschool trial and was pleased with the results.
Back in November, Adeline turned four years old and requested a "princess-fairy tea party" to celebrate the occasion. I let her decide all the details for her party and it turned out super cute. Our first stop in planning was a trip to the dollar store. We picked up tutus, crowns, fairy wings, and bracelets for the little guests coming to her party. Each place setting at the table was decorated with these items, waiting for the girls to get all dressed up for tea. The girls got to take home their little costume pieces, which served as a neat little "goodie bag."
After an insanely wakeful night, the only way I didn't lose my mind was to find the humor in the situation. Between a preschooler, a toddler, a pregnancy, a husband in the military, and an old house with baseboard heaters that pop louder than a firework, there's simply no way I'm getting sleep anytime soon. To survive, I often remind myself that this is but a season. A sweet one, but an oh-so weary one! Here is a sample of what my average night of sleep looks like (minus the heater outbursts every 30 minutes). If you're a mom, I bet it's ridiculously similar. All I can say is, God bless us!