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Most people who know me, know I am not a big crier. I didn’t cry at the Titanic or any other movie I can think of at the moment. I have went through several funerals without crying, weird, yes I know. It’s just me. I see the joy in death, especially of a saved person. Getting to meet our Lord and Savior, I am jealous. I have no fear in death. All that to say this Sunday at church, I teared up a bit.

Hearing our Pastor tell us that he was diagnosed with a very rare, very aggressive, very deadly cancer and that the doctors told him maybe 20 months, 5 years on the long side, it was difficult. Hearing him say he accepts God’s plan, but wants to live to see his grandchildren, it was so powerful. I loved when he said that God had already saved him from the most deadly disease that exists..his sin! How true, God already sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins! He has already saved us from the most deadly disease on earth.  Please join me in praying for Brother David. He is such an amazing man, a gifted preacher, and a husband and father. I pray wisdom for his doctors, strength for his family, and healing for him.

Everyone should watch this video!

http://vimeo.com/61556118

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In our home, the birthday parties are fun, but getting older also means change and responsibility. When the boys turned 1-bottles were no longer used, at 2-we got rid of sippy cups, at 3-they are responsible for completely cleaning their own rooms. When Kyson turned 3, Josh and debated who had to enforce his room cleaning. If you know Kyson, he’s a little….independent 🙂 To our surprise, Kyson is the best room cleaner we have! Rarely do I even have to tell him to clean his room. When he puts his jammies on or gets dressed for the day, he goes straight to the laundry basket and puts in his dirty clothes. He picks up his toys when he is finished playing. Just this morning, he picked up Maddox’s shoes off the living room floor and cleaned up his breakfast plate. I love when he helps out and does kind things for his brothers.

I am personally not a huge fan of the television. I think about how much family time is lost and sucked into a stupid device. Don’t get me wrong, I watch a few shows, I love a good football game, but seriously I don’t think people realize how much “down” time they spend in front of the tv. I am not judging anyone, because I have the same faults. It amazes me that we don’t make time to read 5 pages from the Bible in a day, but we watch a tv show for an hour, or several shows totaling many hours! I think we just get stuck in a routine. Josh comes home, we eat, put the kids to bed, watch tv, go to bed…exhausted.

I tried to get all of the tvs out of the house, but I was overruled. That is a little extreme, but I would really do it! I did succeed in getting “No tv Monday”. It is amazing how many things get done around the house on Mondays. Seriously, I get tons accomplished! And..I really have never watched much tv. It’s just a little news in the am, maybe a little news in the afternoon or turn something on while the boys are resting. On Mondays, we just spend time without the tv…or other electronic devices (iPod, leapster, wii, whatever). It’s amazing that I don’t have to say “not right now guys, mom’s busy”. I am not busy because I have everything I need to do finished. Josh has been coming home on Mondays and getting things that were long overdue done around the house. This week, he fixed some cracks in the foundation outside. Next week, I think he is going to repaint the foundation. It’s so much easier when the there isn’t a choice of sit on the couch and watch a good show or do something productive. It’s much easier to just be in a mind-set that there is no tv so we may as well do something productive. Monday, I designed Carter’s birthday invitations. Something I haven’t done in a few years for the boys because “there is never enough time”.  Truth is, even with 3 kids and a husband, I just need to manage my time better.  The hours in the day really are enough, we just have to plan and use them wisely.

I am still campaigning for no tv 5 days a week, not sure if that will ever happen. I will take what I can get though!

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.  Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.   –   Proverbs 4:20-22

 

It is my belief that in order to live life with a purpose, we must do it with intention.  I often hear, I didn’t do it on purpose, I didn’t mean for that to happen, I didn’t mean to forget.  Not that I don’t mess things up or forget things; I do!  However, I try to be intentional about remembering things, intentional about reading my Bible, being a good wife, praying, raising our boys, and more.

One day, many months ago, I was leaving the child care area at church with my three boys, a diaper bag, my Bible, keys, phone, and about 10 pieces of paper from their church activities some of which were dripping paint.  I always take the stairs, it’s healthy plus I don’t have to worry about carrying everything and keeping Kyson from pushing buttons in the elevator. Why the put the emergency call button is on the bottom row, closest for little ones to reach is beyond my understanding.  Anyway, Carter and Maddox are begging to PLEASE take the elevator.  I hesitantly said yes.  As we are standing at the elevator, a sweet Godly woman walks up and says something to the effect of all of these “men of valor”.  I smiled and said thanks or something.  I continued on juggling papers and Kyson and finding my keys, etc.  When we finally reached the van and all the boys were buckled in I sat there and thought about that comment.

I thought, are we raising men of valor?  What is valor exactly?  I looked it up…

val·or

noun
boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery: a medal for valor.

 Hmmm….will my boys be bold or show determination when facing great danger?  I then thought, what characteristics do we need to build up in our boys so that they will grow up to be men of valor?  A strong relationship with Christ, integrity, confidence, independence.  I decided since they were only 3 and 5 (I wasn’t really thinking of applying this to Kyson at the time) that I would start with that list.   So, first things first, a strong relationship with God.  I was reading through the Chronological Bible last year, as I am this year, and I thought…..I don’t really read the Bible to my boys.  I decided to be intentional about doing that more often. I was amazed at how they listened and how much knowledge they retained. Two examples, we started doing an allowance with the boys last year, they get “Jesus money” and turn in it at church every week.  They also get “share money” where they give to a need or a cause or something.  One week at church a flyer was sent home about sending extra money with the kids to help build a playground for the children at our church’s orphanage in Haiti.  The boys got all of their share money to turned in, as Carter was counting his money he said “Mom, I wish I had more money to help build the kids a playground.” I responded to him that was all we had and that God can do a lot with a little.  He says “Yeah, I know, just like the lady in the Bible who gave the least money and God said she gave the most because she gave all she had”.  I was blown away, not only that he remembered the story, but that he was able to apply it to our lives and his situation.  Then, last fall we drove by the TN School for the Blind.  I decided to make it a teachable moment and talk to the boys about people who are blind.  When I finish, Carter says “Why don’t they just rub that stuff on their eyes”.  I responded “What?”.  He says, “you know mom like in the Bible when the man was blind and Jesus spit on the ground and made mud stuff and rubbed it on his eyes and he could see”.  Wow, again his application, although Jesus isn’t presently here to do that and he didn’t see why they couldn’t just rub stuff on their eyes and wash it out, I was still amazed with what God has been doing through our reading!

Next we needed to work on instilling integrity, confidence and independence.  I prayed over how we should do that as parents.  I prayed for God to open opportunities to help us teach these things to the boys.  A few days later, the elevator at church again. Big boys want to ride, I say no we are taking the stairs, we get into the van and buckled in and I almost could have heard God say….You want them to have integrity, confidence and independence yet they cannot ride the elevator up one flight in a safe environment?  Wow!  So, I prayed that the boys would make good decisions and that they would be safe. I spent the next Saturday preparing the boys for riding the elevator alone.  I talked to them about being independent and going in and only pushing the one button to do up or down, I talked to them about how I was trusting them to do the right thing and come straight down the elevator and straight to me.  I told them that since I could not see them they would have to be honest and be boys of integrity.  Oh, how their self-confidence grew from the moment they stepped on that elevator with no adult.  I ran down the stairs to be there when they got out.  They were both beaming from ear to ear.  This has since become a bit of a tradition, but it has not lost its luster.  We continually talk about those big character words and making good choices, even when we think no one is watching.

So, I write this partially to say that before you judge what someone is doing as a parent…consider that maybe they are being intentional about their decision. 

What things do you do with your boys to raise them as men of valor, or to intentionally instill good qualities and characteristics in them? I am constantly reminding myself to parent with the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that God parents us with.  Constantly because I forget and mess up daily.  Of course we all do, we are not perfect and we all fall short of the glory of God. I am also continually reminding myself to parent with Josh to please God, not other moms or friends or family.  What freedom we experience when we try to please God and not every other person in our lives.  It is a blessing!  Please know, I still respect and covet the caring advice and comments from fellow moms.

I began this blog in 2008 to have a record of moments I did not want to forget and to share them with family.  It began with the story of Carter locking himself in the van at Walgreens.  He had the best time in there!  You can read about it here in my first ever post to the blog.  It’s funny because Carter was 24 months old, and to follow in his footsteps, Kyson (25 months) did the same thing on Sunday.  I know, you would think we would have learned the first time! 

These moments are so strange because there is a fear for your child’s safety as well as an incredible humor in the matter.  Kyson had the best time getting into everything.  He played with my makeup, drank a soda, brushed his hair, pushed the lock button on the keys…continuously, he was driving with the steering wheel, and everything else he could think of doing.  So, as funny as his actions were, I was still a bit panicked about getting him out of the car.  Josh eventually got into the van with a coat hanger, denting the door in the process.  Oh well, here are a few pics from Kyson’s 30 minutes of FUN.

Drinking a coke.

Going through my wallet.

Pushing the lock button on the keys.

 

Celebrating Christmas…simply.  Each of our children have 3 presents from us, they draw names and spend their own money to buy (or make) each other a present, and santa does one family present.  We chose 3 so that we always remember why we celebrate Christmas.  It is not about getting gifts, or a man in a red suit, or elves, or stockings.  We celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   Matthew 2:11 says this…”And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh”.  Gold and frankincense and myrrh…3 gifts for my Savior, therefore 3 gifts for my boys at Christmas.  The gifts they do receive are nothing lavish…one of Maddox favorite gifts was his $2.00 clearance Thomas sticker book set.  Kyson’s was his $3.50 Mickey Mouse.  Carter’s was his Ben 10 guy that Maddox bought him.  Still, many people would people would question what we consider simplicity, after we all we have a home, a tree, decorations, heat, beds, gifts, and so much more.   I think what is important is what we are teaching our children.  Every day in life, are opportunities to teach our children about Jesus…

I can say this, our boys are far from perfect.  As are Josh and me.  However, they know why we celebrate Christmas, they are truly thankful for gifts they receive, and love giving to others.  I am thankful to God for our family.  I am thankful for every trial and challenge.  I am thankful for our strong-willed boys.  Because, I know God didn’t give me the task of molding their personalities, He already has!  He created them, He designed them, He knows their flaws, and He knows their strengths.  He has taught me that is for Josh and I to train them in the ways of the Lord, not the change them and to conform them to the world’s idea of perfectly behaved children. 

As with so many of my posts, this went from Christmas to something completely different!  It’s just that with visiting different family and seeing so many friends over the holidays, we are so often judged and compared for how we parent our kids.   Sometimes we are judged by disapproving looks, sometimes by smiles or nods of affirmation, and sometimes by spoken criticism or praise.  What I want parents raising their kids to take from this, is that you need not worry about the world’s approval rating for how you are doing; concern yourselves with God’s approval.

So, this issue of when Carter will start kindergarten has plagued Josh and me for say 5 years now.  It has been a difficult decision.  We have went back and forth-from starting him now, waiting a year, letting him go to kindergarten then repeat it, etc.  Our final decision was made very recently.  We are going to wait to enroll Carter until next year.  On to the reasons….

1. Although I support everyone who homeschools their children, in a manner where they are socially active with children their age and they receive the education they deserve, it’s not for me personally.  That being said, Josh and I need to prepare our children spiritually to be in the public school setting.  I think we have failed at this so far.  So, we now have a plan and we hope to have Carter spiritually equipped for kindergarten next year.  Carter is a big follower, he does anything big kids say.  We hope to better prepare him to say no to peer pressure in situations that will inevitably get him into trouble.

2. I was a young starter in kindergarten.  As an October baby, my mom started me at 4.  I couldn’t drive when my friends could, couldn’t work, couldn’t date, etc.  I also went to college at 17.  I think I would have been more emotionally mature later in life (hs) if I started kindergarten at 5, who knows.  I do think as a boy, it will benefit Carter to be older.

3. We do not feel Carter is socially and emotionally ready for kindergarten.  He is having “fits/outbursts” I have no idea what to call them, behavior problems.  I think he needs some time to mature. 

So…what are we going to do?  I am going to stay home with the boys in the day.  I will keep Carter’s education up to par. We will have a schedule of library days, field trip days, etc.  I think he will be more than prepared academically for kindergarten next year!  I also hope to get some quality time in with Carter before he begins this process of school that he will be in for the rest of his life at home.

Controversy, wow!  People are VERY opinionated about this topic.  I have read some articles about “red shirting” your kids.  Yes, it has a name, it’s called red shirting.  Apparently many parents of boys are doing this to give their sons an athletic advantage. I have never even thought of this until I read the article yesterday. 

Carter’s opinion….I thought Carter may be upset about not starting kindergarten.  So, we talked him about the decision.  He was thrilled to wait until he is 6.  He is excited about being one of the oldest in class.  This made our decision easy.

So, it’s finally done!  The decision is made. No more stressing, researching, etc!  We have prayed for clarity in the right thing to do, and we have made a decision.  Nothing like waiting until the LAST minute!  Praise the Lord we only have one summer baby!

 

Hmmm…the complete title of this book is What are you waiting for? The one thing no one ever tells you about sex.  Therefore, it is a bit more difficult to review than books in the past.  I think it is very well written.  I like the layout, the order of topics.  It is not a book to just hand over to your 13-year-old.  However, I do think it is a great read for all women, and men.  I loved learning about yada love.  I truly enjoyed the scripture and Biblical references in the book.  I loved this passage from the book…

The ache in your heart to be known by and to truly know one man was placed in you to be a revelation of a much deeper love.  When you are in intimate physical and emotional communion with your husband, it will be a mere picture of the passionate love of a God who has been seeking your heart since before you were born.

Perhaps you have been seeking too–but somehow you missed hearing Him call your name.  A lot of counterfeit loves lurk out there.  After all, just as you have a Hero fervently seeking your heart, a Villain in eager to stomp on your soul.  He will stop at nothing to see the picture of God’s great love destroyed in your life.  The Villain will woo you in kindergarten starting with seemingly innocent boyfriends, will magnify your dad’s weaknesses so you will hate men, will put a microphone up to your parent’s mouths when their relationship is struggling so you will hate marriage, will lure you into sexting, and will carelessly trample on your virginity and then tell you that you are used goods. He doesn’t play fair.  He introduces lies and counterfeits to us in every shape and form.  He will do his absolute worst to rub out the true picture of God’s love in your life. 

So we keep seeking.

Searching for God.

Searching for true human love.

I wish I had these words as a young girl, a young adult, I love reading them now.  Although it’s too little to late.  As a parent, I hope to train my children in the ways of the Lord that they will be able to recognize the villain and when he is working in their lives.  I think this book is compelling, necessary to be read.  I cling to the understanding that it is the VILLAIN, not a promiscuous girl or a disobedient boy, but the VILLAIN who is trying to steer our children in the direction of forever losing God’s plan for them and keeping them feeling as used goods.  We have love and forgiveness in Christ.  We must fight to lead our children and to love them through their trials.

I will begin this post with the information that I have often thought about an age that children should be saved; as in wondering when is too young and when is too old (yes, I know you are never too old to be saved, but I also wouldn’t want for my children to resist salvation after they knew and understood the details).  Additionally, I didn’t want them to pray to receive Christ just because everyone else was and they didn’t understand what they were doing.   So, although our family often talks about being saved or having Jesus live in our hearts, and we pray for the lost and explain to the kids what that means, we never ask the kids to make any decisions.  I think they are so young!

OK, on to the fun stuff. This afternoon Carter is walking down the hallway with his hands firmly pressed together at his chin, and he says “Dear Jesus, please come and live in my heart forever and ever, I want to stay there always and never go away.”  He repeated the prayer again (he gt a little distracted fumbling over a toy so I guess he wanted to start over to make sure Jesus heard everything 🙂  After I heard those precious words, I sat down with Carter and explained the importance of what he had just said and to make sure that was what he wanted.  We talked about sin and he mostly said “I know what this means mom.”   For those of you who are of a  religion different from Christianity or none at all, here is what our church, we, believe about salvation…http://www.longhollow.com/im_new/the_good_news

I am so happy for my sweet Carter.  He is growing up so fast, and I am so thankful that the Lord has given him to Josh and me to raise.  I love watching as he is being molded into this compassionate, loving, independent, confident little boy.  So, we are rejoicing with the angels for Carter’s decision to ask Jesus to live in his heart and to forgive him for his sins.

I am thinking that as we have talked to the boys about adoption that maybe we left out a few details.  They have been told that children who are adopted typically do not have parents or their parents cannot take care of them. This is a common topic in our house since we know so many people in the adoption process.  Of course, the boy’s Aunt Leslie and Uncle Brandon are adopting from Korea right now, making the topic even more talked about.  (you can follow their story here www.1lessorphan.com

As we are leaving church today, Carter runs over to the infant room and is checking out all of the babies.  Followed by Maddox, they began discussing which little boys they like.  This is followed by them saying “Mom, can we have this little baby?”.  Of course I proceeded to tell them that little boy already has a mom and dad that love him and we cannot just take him.  I don’t really think they liked that answer.  But Mom, he is waving to us and smiling at us. 

I love their sweet spirits and innocence, even if they wanted to kidnap a little brother 🙂