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!
I didn't grow up praying daily and now that I'm an adult I struggle to make it a priority. Sure, I pray throughout the day, but I know God wants me to spend dedicated quiet time with Him every day. In an effort to change this for my children, I'm teaching them to begin the morning in prayer. I'm hoping that if my kids learn this routine as toddlers, then they will easily carry it with them into adulthood. In our previous two homes, I had a prayer closet where our then two-year-old joined me every morning. When she turned three, we had yet another prayer closet in yet another home (thank you, Army). Now that our daughter is four and we're in annnoooother place, our current house doesn't have room to create a prayer closet. Hence, the creation of a prayer journal.
Welcome to our family. I know you are overwhelmed with the life you are about to face. You have a seemingly endless list of questions (and an even longer list of concerns!). You are eager to embark on exciting and unknown adventures that will come your way. But you are more worried about the deployments and separations you will no doubt endure. The love for your future spouse is deeper than any hesitations about his or her profession, so you are open to the risks this life presents. You have now been called to serve your country. And we are here to help you succeed in this unpredictable, emotional, honorable, and blessed endeavor.
On New Year's Eve, I read Joanna Gaines blog post about looking back at 2016. I decided to do that same that night, to reflect on all our family experienced during the last twelve months. To help remind myself, I logged onto my Google Photos account. I pretty much record an image from every day so it was the perfect way to recap. As I began looking through the photos, I started a list of all our trips and major events that took place. In short, 2016 was an incredibly hectic, transient, and trip-filled year. I was exhausted once I reached the last photo from 2016. I can't believe all that we've been through and done, and now all I want to do is stay home in 2017! Below is a slideshow with captions to illustrate the list I compiled that made up the major events for our family in 2016:
Christmas is here! Just as much as I enjoy taking down all the decorations in January, I look so forward to decorating the house in late November--the day after Thanksgiving, to be precise. The holiday additions make our home feel wonderfully special for the short time that we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ. As a woman on a budget and one who is keen on simplicity, here are ten ideas you can use to spruce up your home for the holidays.
As usual, God's plans for my life in New York have turned out different than I expected. I thought I would be living on West Point, but instead, I've made our current home in a log cabin off post. I thought I would be volunteering each week at a crisis pregnancy center, but instead, every door on that front has been shut. I thought we were going to wait until after this assignment to possibly try for another child, but instead, I am now four months pregnant with our third baby. And as always, God's vision is more purposeful and beautiful than my own.
The INSTANT a father learns he's having a daughter, he begins wondering how he will protect her. At least that's true in the case of my husband. Tim's very first comment when we learned our first child was a girl came in the form of a question: "What are we going to do about prom?" Ha! I couldn't believe it. There he was worrying about prom when I was only five months pregnant! He immediately went into protector mode, completely skipping over the first 17 years of our daughter's life. If you are a father, it's in those precious 17 years (before prom) that your choices have the opportunity to protect her.
Sometimes I wish I knew why God chooses to heal some people and not others. But, I don't have the capacity to understand His perfect choices, so I just trust Him in the unknowing. Mostly, I think of my father when it comes to this topic. For 20 years he suffered from horrific back pain and despite decades of prayer, God did not provide relief for my father. For the last three years, I've been asking God to heal me, and just like my father, His answer thus far is "No." I honestly trust God's wisdom and the circumstances He can create through my health issues, but I'll keep praying in case He changes His mind!
Last night didn't go as planned. But how many of them do when you have kids? It took me over two hours to get my children to sleep. Our (semi) peaceful, structured 30-minute bedtime routine turned into an 180-minute scream fest. Our one-year-old cried hysterically every time I left his room, with no recovery in sight. I tried rocking him, singing to him, rubbing his back, and even laying in the crib with him. But the second I left, he turned into an active volcano. Tim wasn't home to help with Adeline so I had to factor her in too. She couldn't fall sleep amidst all the screaming and was confused about all the back and forth. When Lincoln finally succumbed to sleep I felt like a failure for all the chaos that I couldn't soothe.
This one is for the gentlemen. Men, what do you do to intentionally turn on your wife? Do you have a plan? Or, do you just wing it? Are you as successful in your sex life as you hope? Let's be honest, most of you probably answered "no" to the last question because if it went your way you'd be intimate with your spouse every. single. day. (multiple times a day!). If you could use a little help to up your percentages of positive results in the bedroom, check out these 20 tips, that actually work!