Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Favorite Disney Moments

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." Mark Twain
 
In December, we flew down to Florida to experience Walt Disney World for the first time. I am grateful for my husband's family who planned it and insisted we come.  I need fun people in my life who encourage us to get away in the middle of the busiest time of the year for us.  (Not a choice we would have made on our own.) They blessed us with their planning and enthusiasm.  I am sitting here going through the pictures, being reminded of the beautiful moments, so I had to post a few.
 
I love how excited my boys (and their cousin) were - especially my middle son. 
 He smiled and smiled and could not get enough of it all. 
I love how I was reminded that everything doesn't have to be perfect to have a great time.  We all look so happy in the picture, but my husband is running a fever and I cannot breathe through my nose - I had a terrible head cold and was recovering from three days worth of a fever.  But, still - we had a great time.  The whole family had been so sick for the two weeks before the trip, I was stressed about our illnesses ruining our possibly once-in-a-lifetime trip which had been in the works for years.  Guess what?  Two of us were still sick and we still had so much fun. I love when God reminds me that when He says in the Bible we do not have to worry that...we actually do not have to worry.  
 I loved dancing with my boys.  This is dumb.  Totally dumb, but I am trying to raise my boys to dance.  Because, ladies - don't we love when our men dance with us? We don't care if they are good at it or not, we just love when they get up, wrap their arms around us and dance. 
 I loved the fact that we flew down to Florida, away from all of our piles of snow...to...go...play...in...the...snow. 
My middle son is noticeably absent because of his aversion to Frozen.  (Read more about this here.) Instead, he was watching Iron Man clips on the phone with his Dad, clinging to  his manhood. ( In the photo, I added the snow overlay in Photoshop.  I got it for free here.)
 I loved that I got to see this every morning.  I see God's beauty in moments like this.
 I love that my oldest son stuck like glue to me. For whatever the reason he decided I was it.  He held my hand. He walked with me.  He sat by me. And he wanted me to go on the roller coasters with me. (The big ones - a first time for him)  I soaked it in. I also see God's beauty in moments like this.
 My youngest saw piglet coming and ducked under the table. He then came out sobbing to cling for dear life to his dad. Just a reminder that just because everyone else likes something (Piglet and the popular Disney character lunches) does not mean that you should have to (even if it seems like something you would really like.) Not everything is for everyone and that is okay.
I loved how much this trip connected us all. 
I loved how our youngest took Disney so seriously.  On the bus ride from the airport to our hotel, he sat up straight and intently watched Disney's video outlining the parks rules and information. He had that attitude the whole time, carefully checking his height against the required height signs and sighing with relief when he could join us.  Oh my. So cute.
This guy just makes my heart pitter-patter.  I had a fever when we were packing (he did not yet) so he took over and let me sleep off my chills. It's silly, but moments like that can be my favorite.  They make me feel loved.
And really, does this game ever get old?
Or does hamming it up for the camera ever get old?
And this lovely woman, she turned 40 on our big trip. She is a beautiful 40, isn't she?
This trip was a gift. Getting away is good. And important.  Once we have overcome the stress of packing and getting there - to be able to be away from all our distractions and focus on us as a family...
so worth it.
 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Moments lost and living your dream.

Passing time burdens my heart. 

I hate how fast time moves. Hours, days, months, years...how quickly they pass and are gone forever. My kids grow way too fast and I hate it. My heart holds a lingering sadness for the sweet moments with my children that disappear; especially when I didn't even realize the last time was over.  

I recently read this post (on The Wiegand's blog) that articulated how I felt.  She talked about how so many last times have slipped through her fingers without the realization that the moment was forever gone.  Like, the last time she held her oldest on her hip. At one point she put her oldest son down and didn't pick him up again. 

I also can't remember some of the last times with my boys. Moments that I didn't realize I would never do again.

I can't remember the last time my oldest son kissed me on the lips. At some point he turned his head when I went to kiss him and that is how it has been ever since.

I can't remember the last time my middle son asked me to snuggle with him to help him fall asleep. He used to ask me every night, then it became more sporadic until he stopped asking. The last time he asked came and went and I didn't realize it was the last time.

My baby. I can't remember the last time I held him as an infant all balled up on my chest.  At some point he grew too big and stretched out his legs and that moment was over.

My brain searches for perspective and I ask myself, what was biggest my dream?  Of all my dreams in life, I wanted most to be a wife and mom. To fully experience a dream you have to experience every aspect of it, the joy and the pain. Without the fear, you can't experience the courage. Pain and hardship can stir in you a deep and different kind of love and compassion. The top is made more beautiful by the challenge of the climb.  Loss can create a greater appreciation for what we have.

To fully experience motherhood and to truly understand what it means to be a mom, I have to experience it in its entirety. As much as we might hate the pains of motherhood, they can bless us just as much as they burden us. The challenges can make us strong, wise, courageous, and full of love and grace and compassion. The joys and the pain in motherhood has grown my heart and I like the change I see in me.

And in my search for perspective, my head tells my heart that what I really long for is not so much that my kids stay little forever, but is that the love and beautiful connection we share last forever.  It can. Of course, it can.

Because, I still have those sweet moments with my boys that connect us...they are just different.

My oldest sauntering into the kitchen with a slightly puffed out chest and pride on his face the first time he put on his full football gear. He lingered near for me to notice and declare how big and strong he looked.

My middle son wakes before his brothers, comes downstairs and asks me to play Clue with him. 

My youngest runs to me bursting with excitement to proudly show me the frog he caught.

The precious moments still exist. The connection and love is still there...they have just grown up with my children. And I know that someday, I will look back and realize how precious the moments I am experiencing right now were. The sadness I feel because of moments lost help me better enjoy the moments I have right now.

The hope in these thoughts shine brighter than the lingering sadness. God surrounds me and loves me through these encouraging thoughts.

Once again - in my life - God wins.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fear and Insecurities

 One of my biggest fears about going back to work after 6 years of being a stay-at-home-mom was feeling like I wouldn't have enough time with my kids. Instead, I feel like I have become more intentional with my time.

Like tonight, my son and I snuck out to enjoy some night skating - totally one of our favorite things to do together.

 I love when God shows me that He is bigger than my insecurities.

Friday, January 9, 2015

photography - my nieces

I absolutely love taking pictures of my boys, but - oh my - it is so...much...fun to take pictures of my little nieces. I wanted to take the photos outside, despite the cold, to get better light so I asked my youngest niece to pretend like she was Queen Elsa - you know...because the cold didn't bother her anyway.

It totally worked.  She happily dance around and posed for the camera despite the chilly temperature.

I am not used to Disney, or princesses, or Frozen being a motivator to get my children to do anything.

A few weeks back, we were all in the car and this conversation happened:

Middle Son: No one here better say the F-word.
We all went quiet.  My mind is racing.  How does he know the F-word, he is only in 2nd grade?  If he actually says the real F-word, I don't know what I am going to do.  Oh my goodness, please don't let him say the real F-word. My mind is spinning and I am thinking of what to say next. I finally settle on the obvious.
Me:  What is the F-word?
Middle Son: FROZEN!

The mention of Frozen sends my middle son running, but not my niece. Pretending like she is Queen Elsa gives her so much joy she will dance around in the cold so I can get good photos of her. I love that.

And my older niece had just lost her second front tooth, so was enjoying showing off her new smile.

They are both so cute. I love being an aunt.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Collect Memories

I love New Year's Resolutions. I have been reading other peoples' resolutions and words of the year and there is some good stuff out there.

But this resolution, by my beautiful cousin and mother of five, took my breath away:

"2015. My theme for last year will continue into the new one. Collect every moment possible and not worry, stress, obsess about things. When asked what my crew loved about last year it all had to do with memories, opportunities we had as a family and being with beautiful people we love. Jesus told the rich young ruler, do away with your possessions and follow me. He was not interested in others collecting things. He is and always will be all about people, passing down His wisdom through stories and His life and glorifying His father. We don't know what is to come in the New Year but building a foundation of memories and our faith in Jesus will help us with whatever comes our way. Galatians 5: 22-23 {LOVE.}"

Collect memories. Somehow this simplifies things for me. It seems attainable and realistic. It seems really fun. In collecting memories, think about how much more we are really doing: creating a loving home; getting to know our kids; spending quality time together; sharing stories and passing down wisdom; building a solid family unit; enjoying life; living in the moment; helping our kids to become best friends with each other; emphasizing the importance of family; and teaching our kids what Jesus taught us, that people and relationships are more important than things. If I read that list alone, I can wonder how that can all be done. When I hear, "collect memories." Well, that just seems fun. I can do that. 

Thank you, Jackie, for simplifying it for me. To all you moms out there - I learn so much from you.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A cute room and a cool free printable scripture art link.

I am down here visiting my sister and I have to share a photo of the room she homeschools in.  Her and her husband did everything themselves: flooring, walls, paint, trim and finding that awesome map in a dumpster and giving it new life.

Oh my goodness, isn't it cute? Doesn't it just make you want to drop everything and homeschool with her there?

I want to leave a note on my classroom door for my high school students that we will meet down here for class. My high school students, my kids, my sister's kids...it could work, right? I don't think it would be awkward. Because, really...it seems like only brilliant learning should happen in a space so pretty.
If you like me and are admiring her awesome decorative printables like the ones shown below, then here is where she got the free printable scripture word art: Home Life Blog. That blog has a big selection and I had fun going through and picking some art to print out for myself.
I want to also wish you a Happy New Year!  We are planning on bringing in the New Year in style with a big cousin sleep over. Hello, beautiful 2015! A new year. A fresh start. It always holds HOPE.

I am always grateful to link to Remodelaholic and these lovely blogs.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Decorating and Jesus Knocking

Decorating for Christmas always seems magical.

It doesn't matter how many ornaments are broken in the excitement of decorating or are pulled out of the box broken from not packing them well enough last year.  It doesn't matter if the Christmas lights work or not.  It doesn't matter if some of our decorations are lost in the abyss of our garage, so we don't put them up. It doesn't matter how many times my boys get distracted and wrestle by the tree, threatening to knock it over.  It doesn't matter when my boys decide to army crawl under the tree just for fun, really threatening to knock the tree over.

It always feel magical.

It is a place where Jesus shows up in our lives.  We feel the Holy Spirit in the room reminding us of how important the true reason for the season is. 

I don't know why it is a moment in our lives when Jesus' presence feels strong. After one really stressful Christmas, my husband and I learned to say no and made some decisions to take the holiday stress out of the season. Maybe that decision made room in our hearts where the stress used to be for us to better notice the One whom we are celebrating.

Because we see Jesus show up in the holidays. He shows up big.  Through giving. Through all the big love. Through celebrations. Through joy.

Jesus promises to get our attention in life.  He says: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me"  (Revelation 3:20, NIV).

I love that the verse says He stands.  He doesn't leave.  He waits for us to notice and invite him in. He wants an invitation in to our lives. 

I gave my life to Jesus as a little girl and have walked with Him since, but I still need reminders that He is there.  I need reminders that He is the Lord over my life and He loves me more deeply that I could ever imagine. I need reminders that Jesus can speak to me daily, in ordinary moments.

Because sometimes I think for Jesus to speak to me, it has to be through something big. Like how God used a burning bush to get Moses' attention.  (I love God's reply to Moses once He gets his attention. “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5, NIV). To feel God so strongly that you take off your shoes. Breathtaking.)

When God shows up in the big moments it is heart-stopping, but His presence is not reserved for only the big moments.

In the ordinary, Jesus shows up.

He daily knocks on the door of my heart and reminds me He is there: through a pressing on my heart; through a stirring thought in my mind; through a conversation with friends; through joy; through the grace that people show me; through the wisdom people share with me; through a good book; through scripture; through working out a situation I thought impossible to work out; through restored relationships; through the consistent support and unconditional love of family and friends; through seeing His strength in other people; through watching other people freely give their talents in service of Jesus; through a moments where I am able to let go of the stress; through comfort in the hard; through looking back on my life and seeing how God guided me despite feeling like He was silent when I was in the moment; through church; through gratitude; through a whisper to my heart; through a belief that He can use my life and the lives of those around me to do big things for Him....

Jesus shows up in big moments, but He also shows up in the monotony of our daily lives. He is always there. I often just need to pause and notice. 

May you also see Jesus and feel His crazy deep love and joy this Christmas season. 

And for those who follow my blog, thank you.  You show big love to me.  I don't know when this blog became so important to me, but it is. So, thank you for being a part of it.  From the bottom of my heart, Merry Christmas.