Sunday, March 23, 2014

Too Many Kids?

I joke with my mom that she has asked me if I'm pregnant every month since I was 15. Five times I've said yes. 

A couple of weeks ago my mom shared her heart with me. "I hope you don't have any more," she told me. She explained that she wanted me to have a life of my own, things of my own. "It's a big sacrifice being a mother," she remarked. 

My mom is seeing me be a mom. Seeing me struggle. Seeing me feel overwhelmed at times. Seeing me do without. And I know that's hard for a mom to see, because as parents I think we all want our children to have nice things, good experiences, and a happy life. It's pretty common for parents to want "better" for their kids than they had. For many, "better" means bigger houses, shinier cars, more stuff. If you haven't guessed by now, it's hard to keep up with the Jones with a large family.

There are a number of reasons I've heard as to why people shouldn't have "too many kids" but many of them go back to finances. They simply cost too much. (Believe me, I know. We have no money!) Some people have also said they just don't have the patience. Even my mom pointed out that I get frustrated and ill because there are "so many of them."    

To be honest with you thinking about it all can get discouraging. But it's during times of discouragement that I do best to take refuge in the Lord.  Sometimes it's best to turn a deaf ear to the world and tune in to what God has to say. 

The world says, "Children are a burden! They're hard work and cost so much." 

God says, "Children are a blessing. A reward. A heritage!" (Psalm 127:3-5) 

The world says, "Accumlate as much as you can. Not only do you NEED a new car, a big house, expensive clothes, and vacations, you DESERVE it!" 

God says, "Value what is eternal. This life is just a tiny stop on the journey." (1 John 2:17) 

As I remind the kids when they are fighting over toys, people are more important than things. A while back we noticed that someone had misspelled Ryland's name ON THE SIDE OF OUR VAN (hint: It was Ryland.) You know, the van where countless drinks have been spilled, kids have thrown up on the seats, and there's enough crumbs hidden to sustain our entire family should we be trapped in a Georgia snow storm.  But you know what? Even if I managed to keep our van nice and clean for 100 years, some day it will be garbage. Every single thing we own will! Don't waste your time and money loving garbage. 

The world says, "It's hard having a bunch of kids. They're loud and annoying and want to eat, like, every single day! Keep calm by removing potential stressors from your life!"   

God says, "Lay down your life for others. Be a living sacrifice." (Romans 12:1, John 15:13) 

"But you're just not a patient person!" the world reminds you. 

God says, "Be kind! Be patient! These are attributes Christians have because this is how I am!" He is the vine and we are the branches, remember? 

God doesn't give us suggestions. He gives us commands. He expects us to be patient and kind and slow to anger. But don't worry, we don't have to do it by ourselves! One of my favorite verses is posted on our fridge so I can read it every single day: "Surely God is my help, The Lord is the one who sustains me. (See also Philippians 4:13, Psalm 46:1 and a bazillion others) 

What an encouragement to know that there's more to life than just what you can grab as you pass through! There's more to you than what you wear or where you live or what you drive. You are eternal and important to the Creator of the universe! You can make a difference not only in other peoples' lives but their ETERNITIES by valuing them. The hardships you go through right now are worth it. They are not meaningless but have massive potential. 

And as a side note I'd like to mention something the Lord used to encourage me one day. We Christians are supposed to be fishers of men--making disciples! It's a lot easier to fish for men when you have a big aquarium at home! ; )

This post isn't really about children. It's about taking God at His Word. He has given us the answers; we don't have to look to the world or try to figure them out on our own. We can have so much peace and joy if we look at things from God's point of view instead. Wherever you are in life, whatever that means for you, try it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Toddler Logic

I read a blog post the other day entitled, "Toddler Logic." It talked about how like toddlers who don't want to share, adults often have a self-centered attitude. We expect everyone (spouses especially) to cater to our needs. If we get our feelings hurt, we take our ball and go home unless they downright grovel in apology. I have to admit, I am that way. 

The next day however I was feeling even more toddler-like. The kids were being difficult; it had been a hard week. At least one person in our family had been throwing up for seven days straight. I was tired. I was cranky. And I was trying to do more than I should have. 

During weeks like this I suppose a mama really should just enter survival mode. Lock down and wait for the enemy to retreat. I, however, didn't want to. I wanted things my way--perfect. I wanted to still do school. I wanted to play outside with our new kites. I wanted to maintain a clean house. I wanted to cook hearty suppers. And like a toddler who has been on the playground all day without a nap, I had a meltdown. I'll spare you the details because it was ugly. 

And it was so stupid. I should know by now that life comes with limitations. I should know by now that not every day has to look a certain way to be an okay day. Some days (weeks) we don't get school done--GASP! Sometimes we have to go get McDonalds for supper--GASP! Sometimes there are piles and piles of laundry to be folded and still no one has underwear to wear. Hey, it happens. And no one dies. We get through it. I just wish I could get through it more cheerfully. I don't want to be an insane wife or mother! 

So then I had another little breakdown to Jackie. "I'm an awful person," I cried to him. I even asked the kids what they thought. "Am I a bad mommy?" I asked. Don't ask Ryland something unless you really want to know the truth. "Yeah," he said, "But I love you anyway!" 

"What do you do," I asked Jackie, "To get better? To be better?" Pray, he told me. But I kind of felt like I needed more concrete answers. Aren't there instructions I can follow? Something with steps on how to be wonderfully perfect 24 hours a day every day forever?! I haven't searched Pinterest yet but I'm guessing there really aren't instructions out there like that. I have a sinking suspicion I am going to have to learn the hard way. Sigh.

My favorite verses in the Bible are in Pslam 51. Verse 10 says, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me." This is my life verse. Forget a clean house (or complete lessons and, yes, even healthy meals), my life's goal is to procure a clean heart. To do whatever it is I am doing for the right reasons. To love purely. To let go of my wants and the way I think it oughta be. To be more like Jesus. 

And to do that I've got to learn something better than toddler logic. Growing up is hard.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Baby Names

Don't get excited; I'm not pregnant. But a lot of my friends are. Several of them asked for name suggestions, and that got me thinking. I made a huge list of names that I like which I grouped into different sections based on type. (Because even when I'm making pointless lists I must organize!) 

One of the groups is virtue names. I really think if I had it to do all over again I would name my children virtue names. I love them so. Here are some of my favorites:

Mercy (#1)
Glory (#2)

If I have another baby, would it be weird to name them something totally different than the rest of the bunch? 

Did you have a theme in mind when naming your children?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Brooklyn and Braelyn's First Birthday

Brooklyn and Braelyn are one year old! 

Over the last month Brooklyn has learned to scoot around pretty fast and can now pull up on her own. She has crawled a very short distance on her hands and knees a couple of times. She still nurses throughout the day and night and eats solid food well. She is not picky at all! Her favorite toys by far are balls. She actually has a pretty good throwing arm!

Braelyn is a super fast crawler now! She has stood on her own twice. Braelyn nurses more frequently than Brooklyn often throughout the night. She still prefers sleeping with mama. Braelyn is a bit of a picky eater. She has to check out what we are offering her. She loves eggs and peas (though not necessarily at the same time). Like her sister she loves playing with balls. She also hugs and kisses her babydolls. 

We celebrated the Saturday before their actual birthday with a princess party for the twincesses! Lots of friends and family joined us. We served crown-shaped sandwiches, fruit kabob magic wands, dipped pretzel sticks, cookies with strawberry icing, and sausage balls. 

Guests began arriving at around 1:30 and at 2:00 when the party was supposed to officially begin, the babies fell fast asleep! We let them have a little nap while we took a bunch of cute pictures of the sleeping beauties! 

We woke them up after about 30 minutes for some cake. Their confused faces were hilarious during the Happy Birthday song! Brooklyn dove nose first into her cupcake, but Braelyn took her time. She kept looking at Brooklyn like she was nuts!

The babies received so many gifts including matching outfits, gift cards, diapers, wipes, two cute Mooshka dolls, and an activity table. 

It was a great day!

On their actual birthday, we celebrated with supper at Nana and Pappy's house. My mom had made them cupcakes arranged in the shape of a number one.

Then they opened two little presents-- their favorite toys.

I'm so thankful that God put these two little miracles into our lives. Their first year had been a challenge which has grown me as a mother. I have delighted in watching their unique personalities blossom. I can't wait to get to know them even more! 

What I Wore

I've been following a girl on Pinterest who posts "Modest Monday" outfits each week to give other ladies ideas on classy dressing that is both modest and trendy. Her style doesn't always match mine but I do find her to be inspirational. 

I have been pinning lots of outfits then attempting to put them together from items already in my closet. I thought I would share what I wore last Sunday in a similar way that the other girl does. 

My inspiration outfit from Pinterest:

My outfit:

Cheetah print skirt: free (given to me)
Red shirt: free (from the SWAP shop)
Black cami: $5 (from Walmart)
Denim jacket: free (from the SWAP shop)
Red heels: free (given to me)

So basically I had a $5 outfit that I felt really comfortable in! Obviously not everyone has access to a SWAP shop (it was on the seminary campus where we lived) but you could always host a clothing swap amongst friends. I bet all of our closets are full of things we hardly ever wear but that a friend would appreciate. I also love to shop thrift stores. There are TONS of treasures just waiting to be found!