Tag Archives: Christian living

Give Me Words to Speak: Part 2

Five years ago, we moved our family almost 400 miles away from the place we called home. We left our friends, our family, life as we knew it, behind. It was a completely fresh start. We knew no one, and no one knew us.

It was like having a completely clean slate. No one defined us by our past mistakes. I thought it was great! No judgement! But as time passed and continues to pass, I realize that if people don’t know your past, they don’t truly know you. Can you have a meaningful relationship with someone, without revealing those life circumstances that have defined you and made you who you are?

I’m not sure you can. I have shared bits and pieces with a select few people, but even then I find my temperature rising, my heart racing and those feelings of “what are they going to think of me” creep in.

I learned some time ago, that I am much better at putting my thoughts down on paper than speaking them. That’s why I started blogging. It’s my outlet to release all of those thoughts that I can’t get out verbally.

So, I have decided that sometime in the near future, I will share my testimony here. The holidays are coming, so it might take some time, but it’s coming.

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Give Me Words to Speak : Part 1

Was there ever a time in your life when you had a strong sense that one day God would call you to a do a certain thing for Him? You didn’t know how He would work it all out, but you were confident that in His time you would do this great thing for Him?

I did. I was 18 years old, and I was sure that God would use my life to touch other young girls who found themselves in my situation or to help prevent them from finding themselves there. I knew, or so I thought, that God would use me to further His kingdom in this way.

I find myself, at nearly 32 years of age, wondering if I missed it. Did I miss my chance to do great things for Him. Was He calling me, but I wasn’t listening? A flood of thoughts and reasons run through my mind as to why I never heard this calling.

And then I think I was never called to do this because I am not capable. It’s not my area of strength. My thoughts are turned toward Moses. Moses thought himself incapable of the task that God had for him, but he did it, not by his own will, but by the will of God working through him.

I was so sure that one day I would stand before a crowd of teenage girls and give my testimony and share my trials and struggles, and the triumph that I found when I placed my life fully in God’s hands, withholding nothing.

In reality, I have a hard time having a one-on-one conversation and getting my words out. I have been made more aware of this recently. I have known, pretty much forever, that I get nervous speaking in front of people. But it’s become more clear to me that I even have a difficult time
speaking with a close friend or family member, and clearly expressing my thoughts verbally. It’s in my head, it sounds good up there, but when I open my mouth, it comes out wrong. I don’t say at all what I’m trying to say and I end up feeling like a fool. When there is confrontation about an issue, it gets really bad. I know what I believe and why, but for me to get that out seems nearly impossible.

In October, I started leading a Moms in Prayer group. I had no idea how stretching this would be for me. I have been very humbled by this experience thus far. Even in a small group of 6-8 women, I cannot verbalize my prayers. The words just don’t come out the way they should. I find myself stumbling through the prayer time. I’m so thankful for this non-judgmental group of ladies.

If I can’t pray in a small group setting, how on earth did I think that God would call me to minister to large groups of girls? What was I thinking? Have I been fooling myself all this time?

I have recently been reminded of one event when I did share my story and talk with a group of girls. I never thought of that as being the “calling” I had been waiting for. I was probably about 22 or 23 years old and I shared with a small group of girls at a summer youth camp our church had started. I suppose I never thought of that as counting, because I didn’t feel like it reached anyone. I thought I said all the wrong things and left out the most important points that I had really wanted to get across. But honestly, I have no idea. That talk, with that small group of 10-12 girls, may have touched someones life that night. Maybe I did fulfill the calling that God had for me…one of the callings.

At this point in my life, I believe that my calling is to be a wife and mother. Some people are judgmental of stay-at-home moms, especially “in this economy”. But I believe there is no greater calling. Hearing your child sing along with a song like “ God’s not dead He’s surely alive, living on the inside roaring like a lion” is an awesome thing. Hearing your child pray for a child in their class that can’t speak or that has an anger issue is such a blessing! To know that I have raised my children to serve the Almighty God, gives me such a sense of “Yeah, I can do this. I’m right where I need to be.”

My prayer as of lately has been “Give me words to speak”; to my children, my husband, family members, friends, acquaintances. I find myself searching for the right words to say, but my words alone will never amount to anything. My words mean nothing without Christ in me.

Thankful Hearts

I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November!  My mind is spinning toward Thanksgiving and thoughts of  how to make this holiday season particularly special. This year has been so crazy, that I really want to slow down and take it all in.

Here are some things I have chosen to create a memorable Thanksgiving season for our family this year.

Countdown to Thanksgiving 

To get the kids excited about Thanksgiving and to help them focus on others instead of themselves, I have decided to do a countdown to Thanksgiving.  I had the kids give me a list of things they are thankful for. I took the list and compiled activities to go along with each “thankful”.  Then, I made paper baskets and put some string on them so they can be hung. I made little pumpkins to go inside of each basket. On the pumpkins, I wrote the “thankful” and the activity to go along with it. I put them in order and strung them up in a large doorway.  We will begin on November 7 and have a 15 day countdown to Thanksgiving.

Here is what are “thankfuls” and activities look like.

We are thankful for….

Nov. 7     Freedom to worship God

–Pray together as a family and take turns thanking God  for His blessings.

Nov. 8     Jesus‘ Birth

–Come up with a new Christmas tradition. Make a decoration.

Nov. 9   Our family

–Family Game Night

Nov. 10   The things God has given us

–Donate to those who aren’t as blessed.  (OCC)

Nov. 11 Our church leaders and teachers

–Make a special treat or gift for Sunday school teachers.

Nov. 12   Our mom and dad

–DATE NIGHT!!!

Nov. 13   Our friends

–Make a special treat for friends. Acorns and pilgrim hats

Nov.14 Our clothes

–Donate extra clothing to those in need.

Nov. 15  Our food

–Donate to the church food pantry.

Nov.16 Our school and teachers

–Make a special card or treat for our teachers.

Nov. 17 Our home

–Decorate for the season.

Nov. 18 God’s creation

–Take a walk or drive and admire God’s creation.

Nov. 19 Our grandparents

–Call or send a special note.

Nov. 20 Our extended family

–Call or send a special note.

Nov. 21   Family memories

–Make a Thankful Journal. Family Game Night.

Nov. 22 THANKSGIVING

–Read  “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving”

Our Thankful Journawill be a simple journal where each member of the family will record what they are thankful for this year. It will be kept and brought out each Thanksgiving to record what we are thankful for that year.  It will become a family tradition and a great keepsake for years to come.

We will also be doing a Thankful Wall.

For the Thankful Wall, we will use post-it notes and every day, each of us will write one thing we are thankful for. We will stick the post-it to the wall. Viola! Thankful Wall.

Make Great-Full Jars for each member of the family

For the Great-Full Jars, we will get a jar or cute decorated box for each member of the family. Grab some cute paper and cut it into slips. Write down things we are grateful for about the recipient. We will write each memory, reason, gift, on individual slips of paper. Fill the jar with the great notes of memories and joys and love, noting why we are so grateful for that person. They can go to the jar anytime and pull out a note of encouragement.

For our Family Devotions, we will intentionally focus our prayer time on praise and thanksgiving.

Another thing we are going to do is throw in some “fun” days.

No Complaining Day: Dare to go all day with no complaining. Slip a rubber band on your wrist and every time you complain, move it to the other wrist. Dare everyone in the whole family to go the whole day without moving their wrist reminder. We will celebrate with a special treat when the whole family can go the whole day with no complaining!

Random Acts of Kindness Day: This is a character trait I have already tried to instill in the kids, but how fun to have a day when we intentionally do random acts of kindness. At devotion time, we will share what we have done!

I am excited to really take time this year to intentionally Thank God for all his blessings to us. Sometimes in the busyness of life, and the trials and struggles  that we face, we forget about all the amazing gifts we have.  I encourage you to spend some time today to look beyond the pile of laundry, the fussing kids, the stack of bills, the long hours at work, or whatever those things are in your life that wear you down, and open your eyes to the many gifts that God has given you.

On to the next stage…

It doesn’t seem like long ago, my parents were sitting me down and talking to me about being cautious to not make hasty decisions. They wanted me to use the things they had taught me, to make wise decisions regarding my life choices. I remember feeling as though they could never understand what I was thinking or feeling. At sixteen years old, those conversations never ended fast enough.

Now, I have a teenager of my own, a wonderful thirteen year old son whom I am proud of. He is kind and caring, and is always thoughtful of others. He’s a friend to the underdog and stands up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. He’s a hard worker and a great athlete. He has grown to be a wonderful young man. And yet with all of these great qualities, he is still a normal teenager who struggles to make the right decisions.

Last night for the first time, I felt what my parents must have felt nearly 15 years ago. As we were talking with him about the choices that he is making, his eyes were glazed over. As soon as I saw it, I quit talking. I knew that nothing I could say at that point would have any effect on him. He didn’t say it, but it was written all over his face. “Are you kidding me? Are we really having this conversation? You have no idea how I feel or what I am thinking. Can we be done yet so I can go to bed?” There’s no way to express how I felt at that moment, knowing that we have arrived at the point where it’s time to let him make his own choices and suffer the consequences. We can guide him, but ultimately he has to make his own decisions. We have sown the seeds and now it’s time to watch them take root.

I struggle when thinking about how he will respond in different situations, feeling as though if he makes a poor choice it reflects directly on me, that I have not done a good job parenting. And yet I think about the poor choices I made as a teenager and don’t think of it as being a parenting issue at all. We like to think that if we do everything right, our children will turn out okay. We may cling to Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We can be great parents and there is still a chance our children will stray from the path they know is right.

There is no such thing as perfect parenting. We are all going to make mistakes. There are many areas that we question ourselves as parents. Did I make the right decision? Maybe I overreacted. Was I too hard on him? Was I too easy on him? And the list goes on. We only get one chance. We can’t dwell on the mistakes we have made. We need to acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.

No matter what choices our children make, if we give them to God, we can find peace and comfort in Him.

God, I have done my best to raise my children in a way that is pleasing to you. I have not been perfect, I have made many mistakes. God, I give you Justin. He is my son, but ultimately he is Your child. You know the desires of his heart, God. Bless him, raise him up as a man of God who is willing to take the narrow path for You. Give him courage to stand up for You when faced with difficult circumstances. Give him strength to make wise choices that will be pleasing to you, give him a hunger for righteousness and a thirst for salvation through Your Son. God, give him a passion for Your Word and give Hunter and I strength and wisdom as we continue on this parenting journey. Give us peace in times of chaos. Bless our home, God. In Your Name, Amen.

Finding Pure Joy: Week 2

God has a way of getting your attention, doesn’t He? Just when you think you have it all figured out, He throws you a curve ball to let you know who is really in control. The true test of our faith, is how we handle these things.

Week one didn’t go as I had planned. I considered it to be a complete failure. When I looked closer, I realized that even though the week didn’t go the way I wanted it to, God had His hand in it. Although I didn’t complete everything on my agenda, He gave me a new agenda that I did complete.

Week two went pretty well. There were of course some unexpected events but, all in all, it was a good week. I managed to get up on time every morning. My goal is to be in bed by 10 p.m., and I’ve been getting there between 10 -10:30, which isn’t too bad. Hopefully this week I will conquer that.

Choosing healthy is proving to be a daunting task. This week, I plan to make an extra effort in this area.

The house has been kept tidy. You notice I use the word tidy and not clean. Our house is very seldom what I would call clean. Even though I am home all day, I still can’t seem to get that “clean house” thing down. But it is tidy.

I really started with the decluttering this week. I tackled the hall closet upstairs. Our upstairs consists of four bedrooms for the kids, and a closet. We haven’t really used it since we lived here, and we’ve been here over four years now. It has housed old paint and whatever else the kids have chosen to shove in there. The doors to the closet were in bad shape, they were slat doors and a good number of the slats were missing. In order to clean the closet, I took the doors off. After I got the doors off and looked at things a little, I thought, wow I should just use this as shelving, without the doors. But what should I put there? I got side tracked to help Garrett and Ryan clean their room. While doing this, I realized they have entirely too many books for their poor book shelf. I immediately knew what I was going to use that closet for. Now instead of a closet, I have built-in bookshelves. It’s a central location for all of the kids, so there’s no fussing over who’s book is who’s and why it’s in that room and not someone else’s. All of the books can be easily accessed by everyone. There is even enough shelving that I have room for games on the top shelf. It’s ridiculous how excited I am about this small change, but it feels great to have that cleaned out and functional!

My daily quiet time this week was eye opening. I tried to sit down and really dive into the Word, but it wasn’t working for me. I don’t think that’s what God had in store for me this week. Instead of reading and meditating on the Word, I was quiet before God. When I tried to pray, I couldn’t find the words, so I just let Him speak to me. He already knows my heart, I needed to be still and listen to what He was trying to say to me.

Yesterday in church, we had a guest speaker. He brought a great message. It was along the same lines that our Pastor preached on the week before. It was a message I needed to hear again. It’s amazing how God works it out.

I have always been involved in some type of ministry or another. Many times I have had my plate full and overflowing. For the past two years, I’ve pretty much just been going to church. We have been attending our church for nearly two years and yet we still are not connected. For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why. Do we have something stamped across our heads that says “beware”. Why can’t we seem to fit in? Why can’t we build some relationships? This has really been bothering me. Why God? Why can’t we connect?

Over the past month, this has been weighing heavy on my heart. Recently, my eyes have been opened. We have been waiting for other people to take the initiative. Hunter and I are both quiet, (until we get to know people, then watch out!) and we are both uncomfortable in new situations. We aren’t bold and aggressive when it comes to new things, even little things. God is bigger than that! He’s bigger than my anxiety over how to dress for praise night or where to park at the church picnic. He’s bigger than my fear of what people think of me. I often have thoughts and ideas, but i’m afraid to speak up, because I don’t want to sound like an idiot. God is so much bigger than that. I can’t remember a time in my adult life when it has taken me this long to get connected.

Just last night Hunter and I were talking, and we’re done with this! We’re ready to take the initiative and be bold! We are trusting in God to give us new boldness for Him. Thank you so much, God, for quieting my heart, our hearts, to hear the things you have for us.

Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It’s amazing the way God can speak to us, if we only quiet our heart enough to hear him. I encourage you in the coming week, to be still before God and really seek Him and listen to what He is trying to say to you. He was saying to me, “I am in control. You can’t do this on your own. Trust in me and I will make all things new.”

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Finding Pure Joy: The Journey Week 1

My “finding pure joy” journey is off to a not-so-good start. Often in life, there are times when things don’t go exactly how we planned. Originally, I thought I would begin my project on September 1, but then I decided … Continue reading

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Gotta Have Faith

Faith is believing without seeing, or without having ‘proof’. There are some areas of my life in which I don’t struggle with having faith, while other areas it is a constant struggle. I have faith in Jesus Christ as my … Continue reading

Finding Pure Joy

After some consideration, I have decided to rename my happiness project. So from here on, I will refer to it as “Finding Pure Joy”. The idea of being happy is great, but why settle for happiness when you can have joy. I am on a quest to find pure joy.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

How I long to have a heart that rejoices in the Lord even in the midst of calamity and chaos. To have a heart that is joyful in God through times of trials.

James 1:2-6 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

God, teach me to “consider it pure joy” when things get tough, that I might persevere when my faith is being tested. Guide me on this endeavor to find pure joy.

Mom Time

My children consume my life. Most of my time and energy are geared towards them. Does this sound familiar? With all the time that I dedicate to my children, sometimes life gets a little crazy.

Here is a look at a normal day in the Cook household during the months of November through about April or until spring arrives. They say it’s here, but I haven’t noticed yet.

6:00am My alarm goes off.

6:30am I get out of bed. (It takes me a while to wake up. I’m not a morning person.) Justin and Darren are up doing their morning chores. Garrett and Ryan are usually up now too. I brush my teeth and then pack Hunter’s lunch.

6:45am Hunter leaves for work. I pack school lunches and get the kids breakfast.

7:20am Justin and Darren get on the bus.

7:30am I realize Taylor isn’t out of bed yet. I go wake her and tell her to get dressed for school. She doesn’t know what to wear. I tell her to get the clothes out of her Wednesday box.

7:45am Taylor is ready for breakfast.

8:00am I make sure Garrett and Ryan have brushed their teeth and combed their hair, then I have them put their shoes on.

8:15am I do a double-check to make sure the backpacks and lunch pails are ready to go and everyone has everything they need.

8:20am I have the kids get their coats and backpacks on. Ryan remembers it’s show and tell and dashes upstairs to find something. He comes down with something of Garrett’s. Taylor immediately makes it known that Ryan has Garrett’s toy. Garrett doesn’t want Ryan to take it.

8:25am After much discussion, Garrett decides to let Ryan take his toy. Taylor remembers it’s her snack day. I run to the kitchen to grab the snack.

8:27am I am stuffing Taylor’s snack in her backpack and we see the bus coming down the road. The boys run out the door. I finish zipping Taylor’s backpack, give her a hug and tell her to hurry to the bus. Ryan gets halfway to the bus then turns around and runs back to the door because he forgot to give me a hug.

8:30am The children all made it safely on the bus and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

8:30am – 3:00pm I am home alone! I turn the radio on to my favorite Christian radio station, start the laundry, take care of any dishes in the sink and then sit down for my breakfast. After breakfast I try to have my quiet time, although I admit that it doesn’t always happen. While the kids are at school, I busy myself with my daily chores. I do laundry every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday’s I run all my errands for the week (or try to anyway). Wednesday’s I bake bread, and make snacks for school lunches. Every Thursday morning I volunteer in Taylor’s class and Friday’s I pay the bills.

3:00pm Darren gets off the bus. He bursts in the door yelling “MOM, Hello” and he continues yelling until I have replied. He is very happy, he asks me how my day was and typically he says his was great, terrific, or awesome. Occasionally he says ok, but this is not normal. He does his homework , has a snack, completes his afternoon chores and heads for the Wii. (The Wii is their favorite winter past time. We don’t have any other gaming systems and we do not allow them to have hand-held gaming devices, so the Wii it is.)

4:00pm Garrett, Taylor and Ryan get off the bus. This is when things get crazy. Coats and backpacks are flung, children are racing for the bathroom, and “What’s for snack” are the first words I hear.

After they have put their shoes away, unloaded their backpacks and hung them up along with their coats, and emptied their lunch pails, they may have a snack. You would think that at some point they would catch on and put their things away without being prompted, but this hasn’t happened yet.

After or during snack, depending on their moods, they do their homework. Some days this goes smoothly, especially if they have something to do afterward. Other days one page of math review has turned into World War 3. I prefer the first scenario, but nearly every week we have one day when World War 3 is looking very near.

4:20pm Garrett and Ryan make their way to the living room and inform Darren his time is up. Taylor is in the kitchen with her school papers. She is either still doing her homework or she’s quizzing me on papers she has completed at school.

4:45 By now, Taylor is usually looking for something to do. The boys are all occupied and she is left alone. She goes up stairs to Garrett’s room, randomly grabs a toy and parades through the living room with the toy of choice. She marches directly in front of Garrett and says to the toy “I love playing with you.” Garrett is upset that Taylor has gone into his room without asking and begins yelling…you guessed it, “MOM”. I head to the living room. Taylor takes the toy back up stairs, whining all the way.

This doesn’t happen everyday, some days, it goes more like this.

4:30pm Garrett and Ryan have just now chosen a game that they have agreed on. They begin to play. Suddenly, Garret has done something. I don’t know what because monster truck racing isn’t my thing, but never the less, he has done something that has upset Ryan. I begin to hear bickering in the living room.
“Garrett, STOP!”
“Ryan, don’t do that.”
I go to the living room and say in a not-so-nice voice, “That’s it, you’re done, turn it off.”
To this I hear “but Mom.”

4:45pm Since Garret and Ryan are already unhappy, Taylor chooses to go upstairs. A few minutes later, I hear a commotion. Taylor has barged into Darren’s room. This is Darren’s biggest pet peeve. He cannot stand this. It infuriates him. I leave the living room and head upstairs. I tell Taylor not to go in Darren’s room without permission and I ask Darren to be kind to his sister. I ask Taylor “What would Jesus do?” I leave her to think about things and head into the kitchen, where the pot of water I was boiling has gone dry as a result of evacuating to the living room, followed by a hurried retreat up the stairs.

5:15pm I start dinner over again. I hear fighting, yet I choose to ignore it. The water is boiling, the meat is in the oven and I need a vegetable.

5:30pm Dinner is going. I happen to notice the clock. Oh no! Justin’s practice just ended. I hurry to turn off the stove and make sure nothing will burn. I tell Darren to watch the kids while I go get Justin.

5:50pm I arrive at the school to pick up Justin. I wait in the car for him to come out.

6:00pm
Justin is not out yet, evidently practice ran over. Taylor calls me.
“Mooooom.”
“Yes, Taylor”
“When are you coming home?”
“I’m waiting for Justin. I’ll be home as soon as he comes out.”
“Okay.” She pauses a moment. “Mooooom.”
“Yes, Taylor.”
“I’m sorry I was being whiny.”
“I forgive you Taylor. I love you. I’ll be home soon.”
“Moooom.”
“Yes, Taylor.”
“I’m hungry.”
“We will eat as soon as I get home. Why don’t you set the table so it will be ready when I get there.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“Bye honey.”
“Bye.”

6:15pm It is 8 degrees outside. Boys are starting to come out of the school. Suddenly, I see a crazy child running out of the school in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Wait a minute, I look closer, that’s my child!! “What?” he says, looking at me as if I am the one who is crazy.

6:30pm We arrive home. The table is set and no one is in sight. It’s quiet, but why? Did someone break in and kidnap the kids? I go upstairs. I look in Taylor’s room. That’s odd. There are no blankets on her bed. I look across the hall into Justin’s room. Hmm…there are no blankets on his bed either. I go down the hall and look in Garrett’s room. What happened? Someone broke in and took my children and their blankets? I go across the hall to look in Darren and Ryan’s room. Aha!! Every blanket in the house is in there and I assumed that the kids were also, but who could tell. I announce loudly “Time for dinner.” Suddenly, a stampede appears out from under the enormous heap of blankets. I am nearly trampled.

6:45pm We are all finally at the table for dinner, but we are not all happy. It begins.
“I don’t like chicken.”
“Do I have to eat the rice?”
“I don’t like green beans. Do we have any corn?”
Ahhhh!

7:00pm Three of us have eaten dinner, three of us have picked and complained and are contemplating starting to eat now if they can have a slice of bread afterward.

7:05pm Taylor gets in the shower.

7:30pm I go check to see whether Taylor was sucked down the drain, because she has not come out yet. She’s fine. I make her get out and have Ryan get in. Ryan doesn’t think he needs a shower because he took one the other day.
“Yes,” I say “you did, but that was 2 days ago and now you need another one.”

7:45pm Ryan is finally in the shower.

7:55pm Ryan gets out of the shower, Garrett gets in. I have Taylor and Ryan head for bed, an hour past bedtime.

7:56pm Garrett gets out of the shower. I make him get back in.

8:15pm Garrett gets out of the shower again, clean this time, and I head him upstairs to read. I go tuck the others in and as I walk down the stairs, I release a huge sigh of relief.

8:17pm Ryan comes back down stairs to go to the bathroom. Taylor sees him walk down and decides she needs a drink of water. I send them both back upstairs.

8:20pm I send Darren to take a shower and then sit on the couch with Justin and he begins telling me about his day.

8:22pm Ryan comes down stairs.
“Mom, Taylor came in my room.”
“Ryan get back to bed. I will take care of Taylor.”
Taylor peaks her head around the corner, “I just wanted to give him a hug!”
“Both of you, back upstairs, now!”

8:30pm Darren is out of the shower. I send him up to read and ask him to let Garrett know it’s time for lights out. Justin gets in the shower.

8:40pm I have just begun to relax, when I see headlights pull in the driveway. Hunter is home and he’s hungry. I go to the kitchen to get his dinner and sit with him as he eats.

8:45pm Justin gets out of the shower and sits down with us.

9:00pm Hunter gets in the shower. Justin heads to bed.

9:20pm Hunter gets out of the shower. We are both tired and decide to go to bed ourselves.
Once in bed, I try to start a conversation. I haven’t had any adult conversation all day. Hunter, however, has been dealing with people all day. Although he is trying his best to listen, he can no longer stay awake and falls asleep in mid-sentence. I end up falling asleep as well.

I have possibly exaggerated slightly, however, we do occasionally have a day like this.

With all of the commotion of everyday life, sometimes we forget the important things. It is important as mothers, that we don’t forget to take time out for ourselves. We need to have to time to relax and remember who we are. Sometimes we lose our identity in our children. There are days when I am Ryan’s mom and I lose myself. We need to stay rested and maintain ourselves so that we can keep up with the fast pace of motherhood.

Along with mothers taking time for themselves, it is important that we make time for our children. Children also need time for themselves. They need special time, which is focused on them. In our house, we call it “mom time.” It is a time, when I take one of the children and do something with them. Usually, it consists of getting picked up early from school and having a special lunch out. This time should be centered around the child. I give them options and let them decide where we go. Taylor will choose the bookstore and Ryan loves Wal-Mart. Garrett just loves being with me. He has learned to handle the grocery list well. On this day, I spoil them more than normal. On a normal day, when I am asked to buy small treasures, I say no. But on this day, I say yes. They a get a quarter for the gumball machine and they always come home with a special treat. They usually get ice-cream on the way home.

When your children are young, sometimes it is better to choose something at home. Taking a toddler out can be a tedious task. Here are some things my children have enjoyed. If you have more than one child, make sure the other children are down for naps or ask a friend or family member to watch them for a couple of hours.

Girls love tea parties. Taylor has an inexpensive tea set. If your daughter doesn’t have one, it would be a great investment. Instead of your normal lunch, plan a special “tea party” lunch for you and your princess. Make a big deal out of it and be sure to have foods that she likes, along with a special snack for dessert. She will love this! This would be great to do once a month or so with your special girl. It will create memories that will last a lifetime.

For your toddler boy, Lego’s or train sets are great. My sons love Geo Trax and so do I. They are well-built and very durable, which is a plus in our house. My boys have always been hard on their toys. Take time to sit down and just play with him. Make sure it is a time when you focus your undivided attention on him. Don’t jump up to switch the laundry or check your email. This is time for you to focus all your attention on your little man.

Boys and girls alike, love helping mom in the kitchen. For this, it is fun if they have their own apron. They think this is great! My children love baking cookies. Cutout cookies are their favorite. They are more work than drop cookies, but the kids have so much fun with the cutouts. We have a great recipe for sugar cookies that I got from my Aunt Cora. Look for it in Remarkable Recipes. It makes a large batch of cookies. You can make what you want and freeze the rest for later, or you can make them all and share them with your neighbor or a shut in. This is a great way to teach your children to think of others. Let them help you decide who to share them with and have them color a picture to go along. Be sure to allow your child to join you for the delivery. This really makes them feel good and elderly people love getting visits from little ones.

If making your own cookie dough is more work than you would like to do or have time for, buying a mix or dough from the store is fine too. The kids love rolling out the dough, but they do need guidance. We have a large assortment of cookie cutters they can choose from. Cookie cutters are relatively inexpensive. Cutting them out is the most fun. When they are baked, we ice them and put sprinkles on top. This is another part they really enjoy. Don’t let this become a chore. Relax and allow it to be a fun activity. If they don’t get the maximum amount of cookies out of the dough you have rolled out, it is not a big deal. The sprinkles will not be evenly spaced on the cookies. I’m not sure at what age they really get the art of cutting them out “properly,” because my children have still not figured this out. It can become aggravating if you let it, but remember this is supposed to be for them, not about you making perfect cookies in minimal time. It will take you considerably longer to do this with your children than it would take you to do it alone, and they will be less pleasing to the eyes, but your children will be proud of their creations. Take a deep breath, relax and have fun!

Play-doh is always a big hit too. Play-doh is not one of my favorite things, but kids love it. No need to buy special play-doh toys, you have plenty of things in your kitchen they can use. Remember, the point is to be spending special time with your child. Look in Remarkable Recipes for a recipe for Homemade Play-doh.

Children love the outdoors. If the weather permits, you can pack a picnic lunch and head to the park. After lunch, you can go on a nature walk. Make sure to bring a basket or bucket of some kind to collect your special treasures. They will love collecting colorful leaves and funny shaped rocks. This is also a great time to teach them about nature.

Enjoy spending time with your kids and don’t forget to take time for yourself!

I would love to hear your ideas for special “mom time.”

Love to Last a Lifetime

Do you remember when you said your wedding vows? When you looked into the eyes of the one you loved and vowed to never leave them or forsake them? Do you remember feeling almost giddy with joy for your new lives together…forever?

I remember that day well. I remember thinking how happy we would be. I expected hard times. I did not think that we would always agree. I felt as though I had realistic expectations of what marriage would be. I was wrong.

Yes, I expected disagreements and arguments, but I did not expect to feel lonely. I had no idea that I could be married and be lonely. To have someone who is supposed to be by your side and support you through your ups and downs, and then realizing that they aren’t there is a heart-wrenching feeling.

There have been times in our marriage when it would have been easy to walk away. Neither of us is without fault. Marriage is a two-way street. The first couple of years were very difficult for us. They were tough. Life is tough.

God never promised that it would be easy, but He did say He would help us through the storm. If we could only get past our sinful nature and follow His Word, what a difference that would make. I recently heard a radio broadcast asking the question “what is it like to be married to me?” What a thought! I obviously know what it’s like to be married to Hunter. Some days are easier than others. Some days are just difficult. I am not sure that I have thought about what it’s like to be married to me. In my own logic, I feel that if he only knew how I felt and could see things through my eyes then he would understand. But, have I ever tried to see things through his eyes?

We teach our children to put others first. We go over and over the concept of thinking of other people’s feelings, but do we truly model this in our marriage?

As the years have gone by, our marriage has gained tremendous strength. There are days when my love cup is overflowing, and I don’t know how I could love him more. Yet, there are days when I wonder why I am still here and my heart feels so empty.

My marriage continues to grow daily, and we continue to learn new things about each other. I have been digging into God’s Word, reading books and listening to programs and sermons on marriage and the family. I want to be equipped for whatever comes our way because I am not backing down. With God’s loving hand guiding my life, I will not fail. With Him by my side, I can face the storms.

I long for a love to last a lifetime.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”

Hunter and I Fall of 2010


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