Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tender vs. Hard-Hearted

Ephesians 4:32

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you"

Sunday September 23rd- I sat in our church- one wiggly 6 year old on my right, one whiny and over-tired 4 year old on my left.  Having numerous behavior problems in the short time we had been in church and to say I felt "tender-hearted" that morning would be a flat out lie.  Anxiety attack would be a more accurate description of how I felt.  

Off the boys ran to children's church-  Pastor Rod started his sermon- we read Ephesians 4:29-32 and are talking about how to be a good steward with our words.  My heart, however is convicting me to be tender-hearted towards my boys.  I sit next to my husband, letting the message sink in, scribbling notes, following along...  One note written at the top of my page is "Am I tender-hearted or hard-hearted in what God has called me to do right now? At home with my kids?"

You see- parenting isn't easy.  (I'll pause for a moment so you can let out your shocked gasp) Actually, anyone with kids knows all too well the challenges that go hand in hand with raising them just in the day in and day out activities. Breaking up sibling fights- teaching about kind words, obeying what mom and dad say, how to be responsible with their own things, how to clean up after themselves. Working with them on how to handle emotions they are faced with- especially hot headed little tempers.  Doing our very best to shepherd their little hearts to know Christ on a deeper level. For me- it seems that all too often I struggle with building up a wall of resentment towards my own little boys. I get weighed down with the struggles we have and don't offer grace along with the discipline. Not that I think that as parents we can turn the other way when it's obvious that we need to step in and help them make better choices- direct them and their behavior and help them grow to be respectful of others.  In fact- it's very important that we take our time to really instill all of these characteristics in their hearts while we have this awesome opportunity raising them.  

But I realized that morning, sitting in our church how much I have really fallen short with allowing that resentment to build up-  not forgiving them and moving forward with our day the way that we could.  Kind-of holding their sin against them.  How dare I do that?  After all- Christ shed His precious blood to cover that sin that they are struggling with- who do I think I am, that I can be slow to forgive?  I am humbly taking this to heart and thinking of all the times Christ poured His perfect grace down on me- for my own struggles with sin and how we as Christians are called to do the same.  I am called to forgive my boys- and move on.  Period.  I feel overwhelmingly convicted to pray about this and really allow Christ to take me, as a mom, to a deeper level of parenting.  I am tempted to be overwhelmed, to feel defeated on some days or to take the easy route.  However, that isn't the only option for me.  I can instead choose to rely on Christ to fully give me the strength to do this well and to change the areas that can be improved upon.  It is wrong of me to hold onto their mistakes and have a bitter hard-heart towards them.  

That being said-  His grace covers my own shortcomings and it's with sincere gratitude that I am soaking it up this afternoon and praying for a teachable heart, that through His perfect parenting He can teach me, His child, how to be more tender-hearted towards my own little boys. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

2nd Year of Etsy Giveaway

I am celebrating 2 years of having my little Etsy shop open for business-  I have learned a lot along the way, been both discouraged, and encouraged & met some wonderful people who have allowed me to make something cozy for their lives!  I want to thank my awesome supporters by offering a giveaway to all of my fans.  

One lucky winner will receive their choice of an item from my Etsy shop (excludes the blanket)

Just follow the steps below- get yourself entered and sit tight- I will announce the winner once the giveaway closes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here are some examples of the item you could pick if you are the winner!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

School Year 2012

We homeschool.

I know- a lot of stereotypes probably come to mind as soon as the word "homeschool" is said.  We honestly, probably fit into a lot of those preconceived opinions.  Some, but not all of them.  

Our heart:
We have chosen to homeschool for a few different reasons- the main one being our faith.  I do not see public school as bad, or evil.  In fact- We are very blessed to live in an excellent school district and look forward to when our boys are a bit older and we will plug them into a school that we trust with teachers I not only respect, but who I know have a true heart for the kids they are teaching.  I know my boys will be in caring, loving and well trained hands.  For now though, while they are still in the early years- we feel led to keep them home and teach them not only academics, but also help them grow their own faith and lay a foundation that has roots straight to eternity.  I love being their teacher- it is an inspiration to teach them and watch their eyes light up as they catch onto a new concept.  To be here to see how proud they are when they get words on their spelling quiz right, or to watch them work hard on a project.  I am not quite ready to share the joy of teaching my boys with someone else! 

It isn't always easy, in fact with boys ages 6, 4 and 2 the days can be quite a challenge.  That doesn't discourage me (most days) or make me question our decision to keep them home for now.  A lot of jobs are hard- and a lot of jobs come with challenges a mile long.  I am relying on Christ to give me the strength for the extra hard days, and resting in His grace.  I know that having them home has given us, as a family, endless opportunities to instill a faith that is authentic, applicable to daily life and more valuable than anything else.  Opportunities that may have otherwise been missed.  

I do not feel that every family under the sun should homeschool their kids in order to instill a foundation of faith.  I also do not feel that parents who choose public school are bad, or are neglecting their responsibilities.  I do, however, feel very confident in the fact that for the season of life God has us right now- He is blessing our efforts to homeschool.  I know that by having the boys here- it is growing all of us to rely more deeply on Him, and it is a step of faith to obey what we feel He has asked us to do, knowing that all too soon this season will come to an end and I will be waving goodbye through the school bus window.  I know that He will also be there when we transition to the next phase- and that He will bless our years with public school kiddos too!  

My boys are gifted to my husband and I and we feel blessed to be raising them.  Our prayer is that they will grow up knowing a Savior that will never leave them, that they will learn the power of prayer.  That from an early age they will begin a daily walk with their Lord and become men of courage, integrity, compassion and love.  For the years I have them home, my prayer is that they won't just learn how to read, how to correctly do math and the different parts of sentence structure.  I pray that they will learn about the God who made them, loves them, and has a purpose for their lives that will far out pass any other path they may choose to take.  That they will begin the process of learning how to walk with Christ in a way that effects every moment of their day- not just their eternal destination.  

We are diving into a new school year- with a sense of peace knowing that the time we are investing in these 3 little souls is a very worthwhile investment.  That my job as their mom is one I do not take lightly, and one that gives me great joy!  Weather you are homeschooling, private schooling or public schooling- may this school year be one that matters in the life of your child!  Keep praying for their days- and that they will choose to walk with God wherever they are.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Get fit for 30- 5 month update

Month 5- behind me. My present and future await. 

This month my weight loss slowed, as I am inching my way towards final goals- toning up and then on to the task and learning process of maintaining.  To date my current progress is a whopping 44 pounds!

Earlier this month I participated in my first 5k.  I proudly walked the 3.3 miles alongside breast cancer fighters & survivors.  
Me, Emily & Missy after finishing our 5K

One family touched my heart, a woman around my age, a baby stroller with a little one strapped snugly inside, her husband by her side… she was a survivor.  I thought about her story and the many others as I walked a glimpse of their world with them on that beautiful morning.  I thought about my own story- so much in this life is unsure- so much isn’t guaranteed.  We aren’t given a card of perfect health, we aren’t promised riches, fame, or no stress.  But, as children of the King, we are promised that His plan is perfect, and even though that does mean challenges with our health, struggles along the way, days that we will feel weary & times when in all honesty we do feel very alone.  The reality is that He is right by our side and when we learn to actively walk our life’s journeys with Him leading us, we get to experience peace in the midst of storms, victories in the middle of challenges and His joy, love and meaning to life that goes deeper than anything this world offers.  Authentic, saving faith.  

This month my weight loss meant I was able to participate in a Sunday morning walk with two of my friends and be reminded in a new way of all that I have to be thankful for.  My life is not perfect.  My kids fight- a lot.  I get overwhelmed.  I fall behind on housework.  I take for granted things and people that should be deeply appreciated & I am ashamed to admit how selfish I can be.  All that in mind- I have a Savior who loves me more than anything, just as I am.  I can never do anything to increase or decrease His perfect unconditional love… I can just accept His perfect offer of grace and soak it up every moment when I once again fall short. 

On to month 6!  Let my story continue to unfold.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Get Fit for 30- 4 Month Update

4 months behind me and 40 pounds off me. What I do not miss about that 40 pounds

  • Felt like carrying around my 4 year old all day and all night
  • Hauling 8 gallons of milk everywhere I went
  • Less energy
  • Bigger jeans
  • Self conscious
  • The mom who sat on the sidelines instead of chasing the boys around the yard
  • Missed opportunities to be active with my family
  • Feeling defeated instead of victorious
  • Overwhelmed
  • Like the goal of 40 pounds could never, ever, ever be reached
Looking forward to month 5 of choosing health over comfort food- and finding new ways to deal with stress than turning to chocolate.  Working towards a new goal & being active everyday. Can't wait to see what I won't miss about the next 10 pounds!!   

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Enjoy the Day You Have Been Gifted

What does it mean to enjoy the day you have been gifted?  

I thought about this as I made a simple list of activities I wanted to make sure to enjoy with my kiddos this summer.  The list somehow didn't include cleaning, maintaining a spotless house, or striving to live in "perfect-town".  That doesn't mean that daily clean-up routines aren't still in place,  that laundry isn't getting done, dishes are left on the counter or that our home is complete and total chaos.  What is DOES mean is that my kids are my priority this summer.  

That translates into popsicles in the sun, setting up a slip & slide and sporting my suit to enjoy it with them, hikes, campouts, bike riding, climbing trees & practicing bb gun shooting.  (which I can proudly say my 6 year old totally rocks at!)   I am actively making a point to be present in their days, to get to know each of them on an individual level... what they like, dislike, what really brings out that thrill of life in each of them.

Backyard sprinkler on a hot summer day

To talk about important morals, in a very laid back setting...  daily devotions on our porch in the morning sunshine while sharing fruit and yogurt smoothies.  Picnic lunches as we marvel together over God's beautiful creation.  Watching the lightening out our living room window and then playing hide and seek in the dark when the power went out!  Realizing the simple, plain and total truth that each day that passes they are growing up before my eyes- I have truly been gifted 3 little blessings who some how aren't staying little for very long.  I want to make the most of the days we share together-  to work our butts off picking up the house so we can get outside and enjoy the day together.  I am mindfully not just trying to "get through" the day anymore- but believe me when I say that place is very familiar to me in the not so distant past.  A place where I honestly treated my boys more like burdens than blessings... God is teaching me otherwise, but that means setting aside my own selfishness on a moment by moment basis. 

Bible reading and smoothie time!

It is an honor to share my time, energy, focus and attention with these little guys- an honor that will all too soon be a memory.  I want to actively build a foundation that lasts not just for this life- but build up a foundation that has roots running to eternity.  I want to teach, mold and nurture these little souls that mean more to me than words can describe.  

So far this summer I have learned that even during the super challenging days- there are little moments of peace.  I am choosing tho focus on these moments.  I have learned that my 6 year old can honestly out run me in races, and that I don't stand a chance if he is "it" while playing tag.  I have learned that my almost 4 year old is awesome at bike riding.  I have learned that my 2 year old can climb a pole to the top, do the slip and slide with more coordination than I could have guessed and is basically fearless-  not a totally good quality when jumping from high places.  I have been in on tender moments of prayer,  of witnessing true repentance when they are learning from mistakes and how to swallow my own pride and admit when I am wrong and ask them for forgiveness.  I have seen them buddy up and actually be really good friends to each other-  trust me, some days I feel more like referee than anything else.  Moments of friendship, concern or true brotherly love give me hope!  God's grace runs true and deep through our home-  we need it, depend on it and ask for it.  I truly am absolutely nothing without Him.  His strength is what gives me the energy to keep up with these guys and I am at a point in my life where I desire authentic faith more than anything.  I long to live a life that when the rubber hits the road, when things are rough, the days are long and challenging, we are still living in His perfect joy.  His peace is above our circumstances, and I am working on claiming that in my every day life.  

I look forward to all the things I know these guys will teach me as we share the rest of this summer together- and I am actively going to choose to appreciate each day I share with them.

My husband and boys enjoying the sunset while camping


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Get Fit for 30- 3 Month Update

Month 3 is now a thing of the past-  My weight-loss accomplishment to date is 34 pounds!  When I decided to give this my best shot- I never would have guessed that I would have come so far at my 3 month mark.  I was actually hoping for around 22 pounds by this point, so I am just thrilled that my progress is exceeding my goal!  

We went camping for Father's Day and I think what stood out most to me was how much I enjoyed being active with my husband and kids.  Every morning after breakfast we went and explored a new hiking trail and accomplished anywhere from one to two miles together.  It was just awesome to be out in God's creation with my family.  Even our 2 year old did the treks on his own (no backpack or stroller!)  3 months ago I would have opted out.  Stayed back at the campsite and missed out on 3 wonderful mornings with my guys.  I am so thankful for my new found energy and motivation and the very practical, every day, impact it is having on my life!  

On to month 4- a new goal is set- more camping trips are on our calendar and I am looking forward to the ongoing, daily enjoyment of life!  

Sunday morning hike around Star Lake- breathtaking!  

Thursday, May 31, 2012

How to salvage an otherwise bad day

I found this journal entry from awhile back- a time when parenting was very challenging for me.  Where homeschooling wasn't finding as easy place in the balance of being home with a 5, 3 and 1 year old. Since then, we have fallen into a better routine, where the challenges are fewer than the joys and the majority of our days have a sense of peace.  Reading this reminded me that hard days come and go- and that they do not have to be the norm, or the definition of life at home.  

November 2011
I don’t know the exact odds of 4 people getting up on the wrong side of bed on the same morning- or how specifically one crummy mood rubs off on those around you.  All I know is that this morning we had a case of the grumps: to. the. max.  I am talking about whining, pouting, and acting like brats: and that was just me!  We tried to settle down and do school- and it was one breakdown after another.  Teaching and learning don’t happen easily when both the student and the teacher are in this type of mood.  I think it’s safe to say we all felt overwhelmed, burnt out and just not really “into it”  this morning.  I literally hid myself and had a good old cry then picked myself back up after some prayer and went to plan B.  Forcing us to continue in this manor wasn’t benefitting anyone- we had to change things up and salvage the rest of our day- it was after all, only 8:43 am!  I packed away the school books (an option we have as homeschoolers- we can make up our hours when learning will actually take place!) 

Hard work.  I mean, deep cleaning, de-cluttering, junk tossing kind of hard work.  We started in the boys’ room.  It was a mess.  It was overwhelming to even step foot in there, much less actually be in there playing, sleeping or even having a time-out!  With the garbage bag in hand we tackled the disaster zone.  As we worked, we teamed up!  We used our frustration to our advantage and put all of that energy to work.  The result, a sense of accomplishment, a fresh start.  A recovered bad day.  Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves (this is an easy rut to fall into)  We switched focus for awhile and re-grouped.

Were the remaining hours of our day perfect? Not in the least- but our goal isn’t perfection.  Perfect days are not realistic- so we don’t even set the expectation that high.  The rest of our day was enjoyable- we were able to be here and not just throw the entire day out the window… we had a refocused perspective. 

What do you do when your day is just off to a bad start? Do you throw in the towel and just suffer through, or do you have a plan in place or some tricks up your sleeve so that you are able to shift focus and make the most of a hard situation?  Sometimes for our family, bad days are just plain and simple bad days- what can we learn through the challenging times?  What can we do different next time to have better results?  We don’t have to let the bad days define us- or overwhelm us.  We find our true guidance straight from the Word of God- and this is a verse that sooths my soul on the days where life is tough. We aren’t promised a life free from trouble- but we can still claim the promise of peace!  We can take heart and rest assured that we are in good hands. 



John 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Get Fit for 30- 2 Month Update

Month 2 is behind me- and 25 pounds (yep- that's right! twenty-five!!!!!) are off me! Along with following the plan every single day, tracking points and not cheating- I logged a total of 71.2 miles this month! (treadmill and outdoor walking with the girls) 

Things I have noticed about myself and quality of life:

  • My energy is high
  • I am feeling great
  • I am motivated to keep at it
  • I love the progress!
  • My clothes are loose- shopping trip around the corner when goal #3 is officially met

Reasons to keep working at it:

  • I have worked hard, and come too far to quit
  • I want to know what reaching my final goal will feel like!

My current favorite lunch 

Tortilla Pizzas

1 flour tortilla
2 tbsp. pasta sauce
garlic powder
onion & gr. pepper chopped small
green olives
1/8 cup feta cheese

baked at 400 for about 8-10 minutes.  SO delicious and only 6 points!  My kids loves these too- so it's been a great "go-to" lunch that I can whip up super quickly. 

I added green olives to this one for a different variety.  (add 1 point)

With the weather warmer as we enter late spring in Wisconsin- it feels great to get outdoors with my kids and be more active.  The more I do, the less likely I am drawn to the feeling of laziness.   A highlight for me each week is to take an evening trip into town- meet up with my girlfriends and walk the night away- we have seriously gone close to 2 hours and the time just flies! Here is to a great month ahead as I continue to choose health, one day at a time!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Get Fit for 30- 1 Month update

Goal 1= check!

5% of my body weight is gone.  g.o.n.e.  Not only do I feel lighter (obviously) but I have more energy and my clothes are starting to fit better too.  

I wonder how I will feel when I reach 10%? ... and beyond!  I am motivated but also very victorious with my results in the first 30 days.  Each pound is a celebration.  

Some of my very favorite plan friendly meals are

  • English muffin and fried egg- Prepared in olive oil spray. Only 5 points
  • Breakfast smoothie.  1/2 cup french vanilla yogurt, 1 cup strawberries, 1 banana and 1 cup spinach and 4 ice cubes- blended well.  2 points

  • 1 cup tomato soup- with basil and 1/8 cup feta cheese. 3 points.  Tastes amazing, but not photo friendly. :)  

  • Home brewed iced tea sweetened with Steevia.  0 points

  • Pistachios- 1/2 cup 5 points

  • Fudgecicle- 1 point

As a reward for reaching my first official goal I set up a hair appointment and got a little pampering. New style for summer complete with highlights.  Love it! 

Trying to decide on an appropriate reward for my next goal- maybe new shoes or a new flat iron.  I think the best reward will be increased energy, health and a better me to offer my husband and boys.    

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 

Monday, April 2, 2012

My "Get Fit For 30" Plan

Thirty. The big 3-0.  I am coming up quickly on an age that seemed so old when I was a kid.  Somehow- now that I am approaching it, it’s hard to believe I am standing right on the threshold of waving good-bye to my twenties.  2 weeks ago I officially kicked off my “get fit for thirty” game plan.  I took the plunge and signed myself up for Weight Watchers Online… Something I had never tried before- but had heard a lot of success stories about.  I wanted to take this seriously- and pick a program that I wouldn’t get burnt out with on week one.  So- two weeks in and so far so good!  I am finding it easy to stick to the daily points, and love that there are weekly bonus points built in.  I have seen progress and am, more importantly, feeling motivated to keep it up…  This is my year.  I am claiming it- owning it- and loving it.  The day I turn 30 is going to be a great day for me- lots of goals to reach before November 1st!

What are your current fitness goals?

Have you learned any tips along the way?

How do you fit it into your day?