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!
In under three months, we'll be celebrating Lincoln's second birthday. I'd usually say something like, "I can't believe he's almost two." But, I can believe it. Lincoln's life has been packed full since he arrived, and it does, in fact, feel like it's almost been two years since we brought him home. If he hasn't been at a doctor's appointment, he's been traveling through some state or another, and moving from one house to the next. Thankfully, he is healthy and seems to have adjusted well to all the changes that have come his way since 2014.
On August 23, I celebrated my father's birthday just like I have for 31 years. Except this year, I celebrated without him. On March 10, we were informed by the police department that my father had passed away, making the next 365 days a year of firsts: the first year he wasn't here to honor on Father's Day, the first year I didn't buy him a gift for his birthday, and the first year I won't find him sitting around the Christmas tree. However, just because my father is no longer present with us, does not mean I cannot continue to celebrate his life. A life that was created in God's image, a life that brought forth a son and daughter, a life that loved to the end.
Gazing at the ocean where we spread my father's ashes
Even though it's only for two and half hours, four days a week, my firstborn has left the safety of my nest--and I'm not ready for it! The night before Adeline's first day of preschool, I seriously contemplated keeping her home and foregoing the whole thing. She's only three, well, almost four. Is she really ready for this? Can't I teach her what she needs to know before entering kindergarten next year? What if she comes home with unfavorable new influences? And mostly, she's mine. My little girl. Mine to care for. Mine to love. Mine to guide. Mine to discipline. Mine to influence. Can I willingly give some of this over to a stranger?
On the 15th anniversary of the falling of the towers, I sat next to my husband in church as we listened to our pastor ask these questions:
"Why did God allow this to happen?" "Is there a God?" "Where was God?" "If God is so powerful, why didn't He stop it?"
Actually we can find ourselves asking these exact questions during every trial in our life. They're not specific to 9/11. At the end of the sermon, our pastor concluded that knowing the answers usually doesn't help. It's a matter of courage to trust God. His wisdom is far beyond anything we could ever comprehend. It's up to us to move forward in an attitude of hope. But how do we find hope and trust in God after such tragedy strikes? The answer to that question filled my spirit with such power that it moved me to tears.
No matter what move you are on, whether it be your first or fifteenth, the upheaval that ensues during a military relocation is exhausting. During our recent move (number nine!) I found myself more emotionally affected than our previous moves. I like change and I'm never too burdened by a PCS or TDY move, but this time I struggled to get through it with the right attitude. During the drive to our newest military post, the radio became my comforting companion. Some songs motivated me for this new season of our lives and others left me in tears--the good kind, where you feel better after a needed release. If you're a military spouse, I hope these songs reach into your soul and help you feel like you're not alone on this journey.
Crazytown! That's where we're living right now. Military move number nine has been straight crazy, and it's prolonging itself indefinitely. Apparently God needs me to grow in the areas of flexibility and patience because He's giving me PLENTY of opportunities to act Christ-like through the lengthy unknowns of this permanent change of station (PCS). And by the way, who thought the word "permanent" should be included in the title for a military move?!
It's been three months since our last move, and it's time to hit the road again. Bring on military related move number nine. It's hard to fathom that I've lived in eight different houses since Tim started his Army career, but it's the truth! Here's the breakdown:
Alright, so maybe it wasn't a meltdown. It was more of a slow collapse in defeat. A gesture intended to bring a little comical relief in the midst of planning our ninth military move. (Did I mention it's our NINTH move?!) But as soon as I fell to the ground, I sensed that my tears were about to betray my playful melodrama and the real emotions were forcing their way out, on the kitchen floor.
As I was perusing some blogs today, I came across an article by Matt Walsh. I recently learned about this blogger and have been captivated by his approach to moral, social, and political issues. As a woman who's aiming to love the world in a more gentle and approachable manner in order to draw others to Christ, Mr. Walsh is, how shall I say it, a tad intense and direct. But you know what? I really admire intensity and directness in a person because I'm all about getting right to the heart of a matter. And let's be honest, sometimes we need a point put bluntly before we finally get it. Even though I wouldn't choose to write about being a stay-at-home mom in this manner, Matt did. And he nailed it. Without further ado, here are my exact thoughts, in Matt Walsh's words, about being a SAHM. Sprinkle in a smidgen more love and grace and I'd wished I penned these thoughts myself.
After my recent post about my strong-willed child, I need to share with you her tenderness--and how I robbed her of the opportunity to be a blessing because I didn't take the time to slow down. This story starts a couple weeks ago, at the grocery store. Almost every time I shop, the kids are with me. Some weeks are easier than others, but both kids typically do pretty well. Sometimes it means I'm literally running through the aisles pretending the cart is a race car, but hey, you do what you have to in order to entertain and prevent a public outburst, and it's kind of fun for me too!
Have you experienced the breaking point with your strong-willed child? The one that makes you feel like a failure as a parent (even though you're not!) and leaves you begging God to show you the way? The one that makes your heart ache because you know your child doesn't want to feel this out of control? You're both aching and something needs to change. Where can you possibly find this desperately needed guidance? One place. On your knees.
Alright, I'm guilty. When I hear about something sweet that another husband does for his wife, I miiiiiight start to wish my husband would do that for me. Ladies, I know I'm not alone on this one. Often, I start thinking about the last time Tim did something romantic and get a little... ungrateful? When I begin to get a tad envious of another woman, I quickly remind myself of the reasons I fell in love with my husband and the thoughtful gestures he's done in the past. I also like to repeat Philippians 4:8--this Scripture is my daily lifesaver! It reads, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." And ladies, our husbands are praiseworthy, each in their own way.
We are currently stationed at Fort Rucker-- for the third time. Being that this post is the "Home of Aviation" and my husband is a pilot, we are bound to come back again, and again...and again. This probably won't be the last time we'll be here either. This time around we have two kids in tow and I was concerned about finding activities to keep us entertained. Luckily, we have found plenty of places and events to keep us occupied during our stint at Rucker.
I want you to think about this post as a memorial service for Al Ross. Let it be a place for us to gather in spirit. Think about the loved ones you would hug upon entering the church doors. Imagine the faces that would be next to you and found across the room. Picture the musical performers at the alter in front of you. Find a quiet time and place where you can be present with us and join me in remembering and celebrating Albert John Ross. Welcome, and thank you for coming.
After my children were in bed last night, I looked around the house and noticed all of the evidence they left behind from a day of curiosity and imagination. As a mother of a one and three year old, there is practically no time to clean and organize. In order to embrace this season of life, I want to stay engaged with my children, not burdened by household chores. Yes, I like a tidy house. Yes, I am a lover of organization. Yes, I see every item out of place and feel every crumb under my feet. Yes, I wish I could spend a whole day deep cleaning my house (knowing it will be marred within minutes of completion). But you know what? I'll spend most of my life in a neat house, one day, designed by Chip and Jo. A girl can dream, right?! Anyone else a Fixer Upper fan?