Titus 2:11-13

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus."

Monday, December 14, 2009

6 Months, 10 Things, and 4 Reasons...

Where does the time go? December is already half over, 2010 is almost here, and my baby girls are 6 1/2 months old! On Friday I took them to their 6-month well child exam, and here is what we learned....

Length: 24 in (5-10th percentile)
Weight: 13 lbs (5-10th percentile)

Length: 25 3/4 in (50th percentile)
Weight: 14 lbs 2 oz (10-25th percentile)

Developmentally speaking, we are really getting into a fun stage with the girls. In addition to doing all the things growing babies do, they are starting to interact with each other and with Abel and Amariah; and that has been truly amazing to watch.

10 Things About Isabel at 6 Months
  • getting closer to sitting up without help
  • reaches for everything
  • laughs silently or with her fist in her mouth most of the time
  • loves to be "in the action"
  • stands on her tiptoes (with support)
  • busts her legs out of all snap-up sleepers
  • holds her toes
  • plays with her voice by gurgling or inhaling loudly (and subsequently choking herself)
  • moves around the floor by spinning and "crab walking" (lifting her butt off the floor and pushing with her feet)
  • sleeps on her side with her arms over her face
10 Things About Elliana at 6 Months
  • sits with help
  • strives to have her feet within reach of anything she can kick
  • stifles her laugh by stuffing her fist in her mouth
  • loves to be held or to lay at our feet
  • stands (with support) for a time before decidedly and heavily collapsing onto her butt
  • lying flat on her back, holds her arms and legs out stiff just above the floor and twirls her wrists and ankles
  • holds her toes
  • plays with her voice by loudly squealing, "coughing," and spitting
  • tries to scoot and/or express excitement by doing the "worm squirm" (writhing her head and body in a snake-like fashion)
  • sleeps and eats with her hands resting on the top of her head
And finally,...

4 Reasons Why I'm a Happy Mommy

(L to R): Abel (3 yrs 8 mos), Elliana (6 mos), Amariah (2 yrs 5 mos), Isabel (6 mos)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kids Say, vol. 4

On the heels of my last post, I just overheard this conversation and thought it would be appropriate to share.  You've got to love the brutal honesty.... :-)

Abel:  Sometimes we fight.
Amariah:  Yeah.
Abel:  And sometimes we be naughty.
Amariah:  Yeah.
Abel:  Sometimes we cry.
Amariah:  Yeah.
Abel:  And sometimes we throw fits.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Promise Realized

When I first became a mom, it didn't take me long to realize that there is temptation to sin even within the realm of parenthood.  How many times in Scripture are parents instructed to "train," "discipline," and "correct" their children?  And yet, as my firstborn (Abel) grew and the sin nature began to rear its ugly head in him, I often found myself growing weary of training, disciplining, and correcting; and at those times I was very tempted to simply ignore the wrong behavior of my son because it was easier than dealing with it.

I'm not going to claim that I've never given into that temptation.  I have.  It's hard to be consistent and persistent.  BUT, as I continually realize, it's worth it.

Tonight I was sitting in the kitchen with Abel, now 3 1/2 years old; and as we visited and laughed together, my heart was blessed.  His polite words, his happy countenance, his sincere laugh... it was pleasant to be in his company.  And I was reminded of a promise in Scripture that I have been clinging to for a few years:  "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul" (Proverbs 29:17).

I am so glad that God has given (and is giving) me the wisdom and the patience to persevere in parenthood.  I am glad that giving into the temptation to ignore wrong behavior has not been par for the course of my parenting, because as Scripture says, "a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother" (Proverbs 29:15).

I am thankful for a son who gives me comfort and who delights my soul.  My Abel.  I love him.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Eating and the Meeting: A Couple Updates...

It's 9:30 p.m., and all four kids are finally in bed. Three-part grocery list in hand, I head out the door for my weekly, kid-free grocery shopping trip. But this trip will be unlike others before. This time, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I arrive at the store and start in my comfort zone. Bananas... check. Apples... check. Potatoes... check. The "Non-Health Market" section of my grocery list is soon complete. As I make my way into the inner aisles of the store, I refer to the "Check Labels First" section of my grocery list. I begin reading labels and trying to recall what I've learned about high fructose corn syrup and refined flour and things I can't pronounce. Unsweetened applesauce... check. Spaghetti sauce... check. Baked beans... better not. Graham cracker pie crust... yikes!

Next I arrive in uncharted territory--The Health Market. I enter the first aisle where I am now officially out of my comfort zone. I look at the "Health Market" section of my list and then back at the shelves. I find myself standing there staring, lost in a foreign world of foreign name brands and foreign packaging. My eyes scan every box, carton, can, and bag, looking for something... anything... that might be on my list. With no possible way of even pretending that I know what I'm doing, I am suddenly thankful to be standing alone and out of sight. Bread crumbs... bread crumbs.... BREAD CRUMBS!... Check! Now for xanthan gum. What in the world is xanthan gum?....

And so, three list sections and two hours later, I finally arrived back home with my ($80 worth of) groceries. (Yes, it really did take me two hours to buy twenty items.)

Other than spending lots of time in the grocery store (Ha!), the past couple weeks since we started changing our diet have gone well! In order to help me feel less overwhelmed and more successful, I came up with some specific eating/cooking goals for November/December. These include
  1. Do not cook with sugar. Use natural sweeteners such as raw honey or real maple syrup instead. (I also bought some Stevia and some organic evaporated cane juice crystals so I will have a wider range of natural sweeteners on hand as I learn what works best in different types of recipes.)
  2. Make my own bread using healthy ingredients. (My bread-making deserves a post of its own, so hopefully there will be more to come on this.) :-)
  3. Find healthier snacking alternatives. (I'm still working on this. So far I've been snacking on gluten-free crackers (I don't even know what gluten is, by the way....), stovetop-popped popcorn with sea salt, homemade bread with butter or organic peanut butter and raw honey, and fresh fruit.)
  4. Make my own butter. ( I hope to try this sometime this week!)
  5. And, of course, break my sugar addiction! (The first week or so of not eating chocolate or ice cream--my primary sugar sources--was a little hard. I found that I had a pretty persistent dull headache and felt extremely tired and even a little bit depressed for several days--all of which I assume was from the lack of sugar--but now that I'm through that, my cravings for chocolate have weakened and become fewer and farther between!)
I have also tried a couple new recipes and hope to do more of this as I gradually get my pantry re-stocked with healthier items. I have to keep reminding myself to take this a couple steps at a time! All in all, I'm having a lot of fun re-learning how to cook (and how to grocery shop!). I'm gaining knowledge and humility and self-control, and I'm even losing a few pounds in the meantime. :-)


Also, some people have been asking for an update on our meeting with the Mormons who came knocking on our door. They did return on Saturday afternoon as planned, and I guess I feel that things went pretty well. Travis and I pretty much just let them do their first teaching, and we asked good questions along the way. I thought Travis did an especially good job of speaking Truth in his responses to the young men. Our discussion never became argumentative in any way, and they seemed to be very respectful of our beliefs. We left the door open for them to return with the thinking that more opportunities for us to speak the Truth will arise in future discussions. Thanks to all who prayed for us and them! I will update again if a second meeting is indeed scheduled.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Knock at the Door

Dear friends,

This afternoon a couple Mormon missionaries came knocking on my door.  When I opened the door and found two young, well-dressed men standing on the other side, I immediately knew who they were and why they had come.  As they began to speak, God filled me with a confidence that seemed to override my "fear of man," and I stood and visited with them for a few minutes before inviting them to return tomorrow afternoon for a friendly, spiritual discussion.  I ask that you please be in prayer for this meeting which we scheduled for 1:30 tomorrow.  Please pray that Travis and I will speak with wisdom and grace and that a seed of Truth will be planted in the hearts of these two young men.  May God be glorified....

"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."  ~Colossians 4:5-6

Monday, November 9, 2009

His Provision

How many of you have ever had an unexpected, not-bugeted-for expense?  The car breaks down, the sump pump quits, the refrigerator has to be replaced.... Large or small, the expense was not planned for and you have made no provision for it.

Travis and I have had our share of unexpected expenses in the four years we've been married.  We had to replace the A/C compressor on our car--and then replace it again a year later.  We had to buy four new car tires to replace the one-year-old ones that had worn so unevenly they were ruined.  We had to replace the control panel on our two-year-old clothes dryer.  To be honest, I can't remember all the unexpected expenses we've had pop up.  But I can remember this:  Every time we've had an unexpected expense, we've had an unexpected extra source of income.

Here's the latest example.  At the end of September, we privately sold Travis' commuter car (which happened to be the car I had brought into the marriage).  The buyer handed us cash, I signed off on the title, and the deal was done... or so we thought.  About a week ago we found out that in order for the car to be sold in Iowa (where we live), it had to be titled in Iowa.  Because there was a lien on my car when I moved from Nebraska to Iowa, the car still had a Nebraska title.  So when the car's new owner tried to have the title put in her name and couldn't, we found out that we would have to pay for an Iowa title on a car that wasn't even ours anymore (Well, technically it was still ours because a car titled in Nebraska can't be sold in Iowa....).  Anyway, I was immediately disappointed to learn of this unexpected expense and had no idea what it would cost or where the money would come from.

In the meantime, Travis was summoned for jury duty.  Because he is a salaried employee, he wouldn't lose money for the missed time at work; and he would be paid $30 a day for jury duty.  Thirty dollars times a couple days minus a couple lunches comes out to more than enough to cover the $34 title and registration fee.

Granted, the expense was much less than I had originally feared it might be, and it could even have been paid out of our normal salary; but that is not the point.  The point is that when we had an unexpected expense, God once again provided us with an unexpected extra source of income.

Why do I ever worry, even if only for a moment?  God knows what we need, and He has always been faithful to provide it.
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.  For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?  And why are you worried about clothing?  Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do no toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow in thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you?  You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, "What will we eat?" or "What will we drink?" or "What will we wear for clothing?"  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:24-33)
For more neat stories of God's provision, check out The Crunchy Mommy or ask my friend Melissa about the chapstick and the dish soap. :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Pressure is ON!

The month is over, payroll has been deposited, the cupboards are getting bare.... It's time to go grocery shopping, and I still don't know what I'm doing! :-) This transition to a healthier diet isn't going to be easy, is it! Thankfully, I'm in good company. Many of you who have "gone before" me have offered help and encouragement as I learn the ropes of a whole foods diet, and I'm betting I'm going to need it!

As I've been reading through Nourishing Traditions, I've realized a couple things: that modern conveniences have taken us a LONG ways from the culinary skills and habits of our ancestors; that pretty much every thing we eat--even that of the "healthy" variety--is JUNK; and that never before have I been concerned with what ingredients are in the foods I buy (Why would I be? I didn't know what all that stuff is, anyway.). As a little girl I used to say, "Technology will be the downfall of us (i.e. humans)." I'm pretty sure I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about at the time (Ha!), but perhaps I was on to something. It seems that the conveniences modern technology has offered us--including convenience foods and convenient food preparation--have certainly come at a price.

Something else I'm fairly certain of is that I'll need to take this transition to healthier eating one purposeful step at a time. To help myself be less overwhelmed, I've been trying to develop some objectives for this first month. Here's what I've come up with so far.... (You experts, please feel free to weigh in on this!)
  • Go ahead and use up foods that I have on hand, unhealthy as they may be; and as they run out, don't replace the things that shouldn't be a part of our diet. For example, I finished the last of my ice cream yesterday and don't plan on buying anymore (Did I just say that?!); our high fructose corn syrup-full ketchup is running low and will be replaced either by some from the health food store or by some homemade(!) ketchup; etc.
  • Replace sugar with natural sweeteners such as raw honey and pure maple syrup. (I bought a 1 quart jug of 100% pure maple syrup last night, and it cost $12.99. Yikes!)
  • Attempt to make my own butter, ketchup (if cost effective--Amariah likes her ketchup!), and breads.
  • Continue to learn!
For right now, I think that instead of learning new recipes I'm going to try to make appropriate adjustments/substitutions to the recipes I am familiar with. (Has anybody taken this route? Does it work?) My thinking is that as we gradually cut more and more refined/processed foods from our diet and as I become more familiar with various whole foods ingredients, it will become more feasible at that point to start trying new recipes.

It was only recently that I learned of the addicting nature of sugar--and even more recently of its destructive nature. Part of me wants to say that ignorance was bliss, mostly because the knowing has presented me with a lot of work! :-) But seriously, I've come to a point where I am actually excited about admitting my addiction to sugar and doing something about it. I'm excited about doing a better job of nourishing not only my own body and my husband's but also the four little bodies that God has entrusted to our care.

So... back to that grocery list.... Let's see how well I can work under pressure! :-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eating My Words

There seems to be a growing trend toward healthy, organic, whole foods eating. As I've come to know more and more people who have changed their diets to eliminate refined and processed foods, I've said, "I could never do it." I could never do it because... I like chocolate and ice cream too much... I'm too busy to learn how to eat/cook differently... I don't want to spend even more time in the kitchen... It would cost too much money... etc.

However, after making this decided statement, I couldn't help but notice that the topic of sugar and its detrimental effects began popping up everywhere--so much so that I decided maybe I should pay it some attention. So one night about a month ago I ran out the door to the library to check out Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. It sat on my kitchen counter for several weeks waiting for me to find the time to open it up and start reading; and with each day of not reading that passed, I started to talk myself out of even trying to find the time to read it.

In the meantime, there were several occasions that I noticed I felt poorly immediately after eating a bowl of ice cream or a handful of chocolate or other candy. The feeling was "off" enough that for the short while it lasted I thought to myself, That wasn't worth it. Why eat something that makes me feel so not good? And so I was re-inspired to open up Nourishing Traditions. The day after it was due (Yes, it was overdue. Oops!), I finally sat down and started reading and then promptly called the library to renew it for another month.

I still have a TON to read and learn; but with the beginning of a new month approaching (which means a fresh start on stocking the cupboards AND a fresh supply of grocery cash), my plan is to start making some changes in the way I feed myself and my family. I'm certain this isn't going to be easy (I've been snacking on chocolate chips while I write this....), but I feel like I wouldn't be doing the best thing for my family if I don't give this my best try.

I said I could never do it. I hope I was wrong....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Falling Apart Just to Hold It Together

I've changed... temporarily and necessarily.  There are some things about me that are different now than they were five months ago.  Becoming a mommy of twins has required some adjustments--neither good nor bad, just necessary.  I just started noticing some of the changes this season of life ("season" = breastfeeding and caring for twin infants and getting no more than three hours of sleep in any one interval) has produced in me.  Anyone who knew me pre-children would probably think I've fallen apart (lol!)--and maybe by the world's standards, I have--but the way I look at it, I've really just done some necessary shedding in an effort to hold it all together!

I've had to become okay with the fact that I don't look quite the same in my pre-pregnancy clothes as I used to (Granted, it's slightly easier to be okay with this since I plan on it being a temporary change! :-)), and the fact that an earlier bedtime has become slightly more important to me than a spotless kitchen (It can wait until morning, right?...), and the fact that I now need a little more help from my husband.  I've had to become okay with the fact that I cannot figure out how to fit a trip to the gym into my daily routine, and the fact that church and grocery shopping and doctor appointments are the only things I leave the house for, and the fact that I am tired all the time.  I've had to become okay with the fact that sometimes it's easier and more practical to wear the same outfit two days in a row, and the fact that I don't have time to fix my hair and makeup or even to take a look in the mirror on my way out the door.

In fact, maybe I've become a little TOO okay with that last point.  There have been numerous times that I've rushed out the door for a timed trip to the grocery store in between the babies' feedings and then realized while in route that I have no idea what clothes I even have on, let alone what my hair looks like.  And when the momentary feeling of panic passes, my next thought is, Who cares.... I'm on the job.

The funny thing is, though, that I used to care.  When we were first married I drove my husband crazy with my having to change my clothes and redo my hair and touch up my makeup before we could go anywhere.  So what has happened to me now?  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a total slob... most days.... And I really do care what I look like.  But I guess that in the process of trying to hold it together, I've had to temporarily--and necessarily--let myself do a bit of "falling apart."

Hear me right on this.  I'm not complaining.  I am totally content with and blessed by my circumstances (Well, except for the part where my clothes don't fit right. (Ha!)  My husband keeps reminding me, "Honey.  You just had TWINS.); and I am thankful that by God's grace I have been able to make the necessary adjustments to not just "cope" during this season but to manage it well and to thoroughly enjoy every moment of it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvest of Friends Blog Party: 20 Questions

My blogging friend Lynnette is having a blog party! If you would like to have a little fun--and maybe even "meet" some new blogging friends while you're at it--click on the button above to join in!

20 Weird Questions That Will Give a Little Insight Into Who I Am

1. What is your favorite thing to snack on while you're blogging?
I usually don't take time to eat while I'm blogging, but any other time that I might be snacking, it's probably on CHOCOLATE!

2. What is one thing you wouldn't want to live without?
I wouldn't want to live without my Bible. We are so privileged in this country to have such easy access to the Word of God.

3. Beach, Mountains or Farm? Where would you live if you had a choice?
I would live on a farm and take vacations to the beach and the mountains!

4. What's your least favorite chore/household duty?
I dread dusting the window blinds. It's one of the few household duties that I don't enjoy doing. However, I must say that my new cleaning rags have made this chore much easier!

5. Who do people say you remind them of?
In personality traits and personal habits, people say I'm like my dad (patient and persistent, perfectionist in some things, deep thinker--and thus, sometimes poor listener). In appearance, people say I look like my dad and my Uncle Curtis (and when I was younger, Mariah Carey :-)).

6. Prefer parties and socializing or staying at home with the fam?
I enjoy a healthy balance of both, and whatever I'm in the mood for probably depends upon how my day/week has gone. As far as social settings go, I prefer small groups to large groups.

7. What's your all time favorite movie?
Dirty Dancing has to be my all-time favorite movie! One of my childhood friends owned it, and we would watch it every time I spent the night at her house. At some (pre-DVD) point in time, my parents finally bought the VHS copy that I still have. There are several other movies that I could watch time and again, but I think I will always go back to Dirty Dancing as my favorite!

8. Do you sleep in your make up or remove it like a good girl every night?
I do not sleep in my makeup. But don't be too impressed--I wear it only about once a week (and even then, it's only eye makeup). :-)

9. Do you have a hidden talent or a deep desire to learn something that you've never had a chance to learn? What is it?
No hidden talents that I know of. But I have always thought it would be fun to learn to play the violin. They make such beautiful music....

10. What's one strange thing you're really good at?
According to my husband, I'm really good at ironing... and making nachos.

11. What first attracted you to your spouse?
Travis' relationship with Jesus is what first attracted me to him. I always remember one particular time in college that I was studying in the balcony of the library. When I looked out over the study cubicles on the level below, I saw Travis. He had a backpack full of textbooks, but the book he was studying was his Bible.

12. What is something you love to smell?
I love the smell of coffee. It's so... inviting!

13. Tell something about you that you know irritates people.
I get lost in my thoughts--especially when I'm reading or writing--and therefore tend to space people out when they talk to me (see #5). It's irritating--and hurtful--so I have to be cautious of it.

14. When you have extra money (HA!) what's the first thing you think to do with it?
My first thought is usually to pocket it until something comes up that I really want. I like to think through purchases before spending my money; and even once I decide how I want to spend my money, it takes me a long time to actually do it.

15. Are you a silent laugher or a loud laugher? What makes you laugh the hardest?
I'm more of a silent laugher than a loud laugher, though most of my laughs are at least audible. I think my mom and my sister probably make me laugh the hardest, but my kids are close behind!

16. Where is your favorite place to shop?
I buy almost all of my clothes from Maurices. Usually any "extra" money that I get to pocket (see #14) ends up getting spent there. :-)

17. What's one thing you'd do more often if you had more time?
I would love to read more.

18. Are you a big spender or frugal?
I am definitely frugal, but there are times when I wish I could be a big spender!

19. Who is your favorite character of all time (from a movie or book)? (Can't be real)
I don't know if she's my favorite... but I really like Meg Ryan's character in the movie You've Got Mail. She's so real and laid back. And, of course, the romance.... :-)

20. Would you want to be famous?
I think it would be okay to be famous as long as I could continue walking in a manner worthy of the One who called me (see Ephesians 4:1).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Remember

Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. People all over the world are invited to light a candle at 7:00 tonight in remembrance of babies lost to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, still birth, or infant death.

We will be lighting a candle in memory of our baby Ande Lynn whom we lost to miscarriage on July 14th, 2008. The pain of our loss was very real, and although time has brought healing, I still sometimes find myself thinking about and missing this baby I never knew. I see babies who were born around the time of Ande's due date, and I catch myself thinking, That's how big Ande would be now. I wonder what he/she would be like at this age.... But, despite these momentary sad feelings, I can honestly say that I am okay. I am okay because God has used this loss for our good... and because I know that we have a baby who is already with the Lord.

To my many friends and family members who have also experienced the loss of a child--whether it be due to miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy or infant death--my thoughts and prayers are with you today, and I am remembering your babies as well. May our God be your strength, your hope, and your joy today and always; and may you find comfort in His promise.
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kids Say, vol. 3

During supper, Abel asked me what ketchup looks like; so I turned the question back on him, encouraging him to describe it to me.

Abel:  Ummm... it has tomato juice in it.
Me:  What color is it?
Abel:  Red.
Me:  And what does it feel like?
Abel:  Hurt.
Me:  Hurt?  What does that mean?
Abel:  If you don't like it, it gets hurt.


Abel has become quite the problem solver.  Often when I give him a reason why we can't do something that he asks to do, he comes up with a "solution."  Following is just one example of his problem solving skills.... (*Note:  Amariah has a pair of sandals that light up when she walks.)

Abel:  Mommy, can we go to the park?
Me:  Not tonight, honey.  It's already dark.
Abel:  Well, we could take Sissy's shoes--they have lights on them....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Still Singing...

One year ago today marked the beginning of my knowledge of one two of the greatest blessings I've ever known. On October 13th, 2008, just three months after having a miscarriage, I found out I was pregnant again. Little did I know then that in a year's time I would have 4 1/2-month old twins! Knowing what I know now, it's fun to go back and read what I wrote shortly after seeing the appearance of The Second Line....

A year later, I am still singing, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award (and 7 things you might not know about me...)!

I got a blog award from one of the neatest women I know! I "met" September McCarthy in the blogosphere earlier this year and have been very encouraged by her love for God and for her family. I am so glad that her blog is on my "reading list," and I am humbled that she is passing an award on to me.

THANK YOU, SEPTEMBER! (Click on her name below and visit her blog.)

My friend September over at One September Day gave me an award and asked me to pass it on to 7 of my "Kreativ Blogger" friends. Here are the rules:

Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.

Copy and paste the award and post it.

Tell seven interesting things about yourself that people might not know.

Pick 7 Kreativ Blogger Friends to pass on the award to, link to them, and ask them to list their 7 things and to pass on the award to 7 of their friends, and to link back to you.

Okay, here we go! I've already done the 100 Things and the 10 Things, so let's see if I can come up with...

7 More Things You Might Not Know About Me!...
  1. I enjoy doing laundry and ironing. There is something about having everything neat and clean and in its place! :-)
  2. The change of seasons always gives me the urge to spend money on new clothes for myself. Even so, I usually don't buy anything unless I really need it. (Honey, I just had twins four months ago. I might really need some new clothes this winter!) ;-)
  3. For having four children under the age of four, I think I keep a pretty quiet and peaceful home (most of the time!).
  4. I wish I could remember everything I read.
  5. I like to make up songs and sing them to my kids. I guess my kids bring out my weird silly side! :-)
  6. I never paint my fingernails because I can't stand the fingernail polish looking any less than perfect. (And it never stays looking perfect for very long!)
  7. I love city living way more than I ever thought I would. It's so nice to have people and places in close proximity to home!
And here are 7 of my blogging friends!...

Isabel and Elliana's Four-Month Check-up!

On Friday I took Isabel and Elliana in to the doctor for their four-month well child exams.  As a breastfeeding mother, I was excited (and proud!) to learn that both girls are growing well and that Isabel is still closing the gap in size between her and her sister.  Two months ago Isabel was approximately two pounds smaller and two inches shorter than Elliana; now the difference is only about one pound and one inch!  Isabel is continuing to grow faster than the average growth curve, and Elliana stayed on about the same curve.  Here's their stats....

Height:  23 in (just over the 10th percentile)
Weight:  11 lbs 6 oz (10th percentile)

Height:  24 in (between the 25th and 50th percentile)
Weight:  12 lbs 3 oz (between the 10th and 25th percentile)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Let It Rain

"...he who waters will himself be watered." (Proverbs 11:25b NASB)

Do you ever feel like you are in a sort of "spiritual drought?"  I, myself, go through a dry season every now and again, and I am realizing that the cause always tends to be my circumstances the way I handle my circumstances.  All too often, I let my circumstances determine the fullness of my spiritual rain gauge.  When my circumstances lead me to--or are favorable for--spending time in the Word and in prayer, my rain gauge is full; but when my circumstances do not lead me to--or are not favorable for--spending time in the Word and in prayer (and I therefore fail to spend time in the Word and in prayer), I enter into a drought.

Sometimes when this happens, God, by His grace, allows a storm--a trial--to come my way (for certainly He knows that in times of trial I draw nearer to Him).  Other times, He sends another source of water:  a Brother or Sister in Christ who is joyful and strong in the Lord.  God recently used a couple such Sisters in my life to "water" me; and when I came away from talking to them, I thought to myself, "Wow, that was refreshing!" 

Proverbs 11:25b says, "He who waters will himself be watered" (or in the NIV, "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed").  I am so thankful for the people who are sources of water in my life.  I wonder if they realize how refreshing it is to be in their presence, where their joy and strength--the products of their own time spent in the Word and in prayer--are like water to the soul.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kids Say, vol. 2

Yesterday I rearranged Abel and Amariah's toys, moving a lot of what was in their bedroom to the basement.  I've noticed that every time I move toys around, there is a new level of excitement in the kids--almost like they are discovering each toy for the first time.  This excitement combined with unfamiliarity of where each toy goes (Have I mentioned before that I'm particular? :-)) creates ample opportunity for mess-making.  Tonight, as I observed both bedroom and basement toys lying all over the main level of the house, the following conversation ensued.

Me:  You guys have gone through this place like two tornadoes making a mess.
Abel:  I'm not a tomato!  I'm a pickle!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Highlight of My September!

Where did September go?! I guess time flies when you're having fun busy! :-) Anyway, it's been awhile since I've posted, so I decided to make time for it today....

This past Monday the kids and I returned home from a week-long visit to my parents' house. With them living six hours away (or more like eight hours when traveling with two infants!), we don't get to see them nearly as often as we would like to. So when Travis suggested that I load up the kids and go visit Grandma and Grandpa, I was super excited!

My vacation visit to my mom and dad's was so fun and refreshing! I got to hang out with my parents, see my sister and both my grandmas, engage in adult conversation, eat my mom's delicious cooking (which boosted my milk supply!), watch a little television, see an old friend, video tape my Grandma Arlene reading Bible stories to a very curious and attentive Abel, and watch my parents interact and bond with their grandchildren. It was a truly wonderful trip--definitely the highlight of my busy (but fun!) September!

Mom and Isabel

Dad and Elliana

Grandma Arlene with Isabel (left) and Elliana

Grandma Arlene with Amariah and Abel

Grandma Arlene and Elliana

The Rice side--(L to R) Amariah, Grandma Arlene,
Elliana, Angela, Isabel, Terry, and Abel

Dad pulling Abel and Amariah behind the mower

Grandma Verla with Elliana (left) and Isabel

(L to R) Grandma Verla, Elliana, Mom, and Isabel

The Chambers side--(L to R) Amariah, Angela, Abel,
Grandma Verla, Elliana, Isabel, and Tammy

Abel and Amariah playing with Grandma and
Grandpa at the park

Dad with Abel, Amariah, and dog Bear

My sister Rosanna with Isabel

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Becoming a Better Mommy

I've been realizing lately that I need to rethink--and revamp--some of my Mommy behaviors. There have been a few things that have triggered these realizations: our recent sermon series on the home, the birth of my twin daughters which quickly propelled me from Mommy of Two to Mommy of Four, the recognition of some of my own sinfulness in my children, the realization that my kids are growing up no matter how much I do or don't invest in them. These things (and probably others) have made me realize that some "Me" changes are in order.

Pastor Todd's spring teaching series on the home was taken from Psalm 128, and it was his teaching about the "vine" in verse 3 ("Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house...") that still sticks in my mind: as a vine runs along the ground and reaches into many areas, so is a woman's influence within her home. This left me pondering, How far-reaching is my vine? Am I covering all the ground that I should be covering? Or are there some corners in my home that I'm failing to reach?

When Isabel and Elliana were born in May, I suddenly became a Mommy of four. It was like adding two more children to our quiver suddenly upped the ante. I kept thinking (and still am), What a high calling.... The Lord has entrusted me with four lives. I better get this right....

As Abel and Amariah continue to get older--and as the sin nature continually becomes apparent in them--I have at times witnessed behavior sin that makes me feel as though I'm looking in a mirror... and it's not a pretty sight. Pride, selfishness, disrespect.... What kind of example am I setting for my children?

The latest thing I've realized is the excessive number of times in a day I say "No" to Abel and Amariah's requests. "No, not right now." "No, I'm busy." "No, we're not going to do that." It's not that "No" is always an unacceptable answer, but I'm realizing that often times my reason for saying "No" is based only in my own selfishness or laziness. Is it right for me to say "No" to playdough just because I don't want another mess to clean up? Is it right for me to say "No" to drawing with markers just because I don't want to take the time to oversee it? About a week ago, Abel got out the glue stick that Travis bought him a couple months ago (still un-used due to Mommy's many "No"s) and asked if we could do a craft. When I said, "No, we're not going to use glue right now," Abel started crying and said, "But Mommy, Daddy bought this for me to use." Well, you've got a point there, I thought. And then I realized, My selfish "No"s are hurting my children. I have to start investing more of myself in them. (Needless to say, we did our first craft project--with glue--that night.)

When I consider the importance and impact of my influence within my home and the degree to which God has entrusted me with His children--and when I see my own failures and shortcomings--I can't help but desire to be a better Mommy. I am becoming more conscious of my own attitudes and behaviors. I am becoming more purposeful about spending time with my children. I am becoming more careful to have good reasons to say "No." And I am nourishing myself in the Word so that I in turn might nourish my family and my home. I definitely don't "have it all together" (and probably never will!), but I pray that God will help me to become the wife and Mommy He desires for me to be.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

So We Don't Forget: Alone Time

I'm doing my first "So We Don't Forget" post today! This week we are blogging about our favorite alone time activity. To join in, click on the button below!

Alone time... isn't it wonderful?! Okay, maybe not for everyone; but it is for me. I need my friends, and I need adult conversation, but I also need my alone time. As a stay-at-home mother of four children three years old and under, I don't get a whole lot of time for any of these things (i.e. hanging out with friends, engaging in adult conversation, spending time alone), so what time I do get usually comes when the kids are sleeping.

So what is my favorite thing to do while the kids are sleeping (besides eating a bowl of ice cream ;-))? Blogging! I love to write, and blogging gives me the perfect place to do so. (I actually blogged about my love of writing--and blogging--here about a year ago!) I remember when my husband told me he had started a blog. I said something along the lines of, "What's a blog? I want one...." And now that I have one, it's like my outlet to the adult world. Through blogging I am able not only to satisfy my desire to write but also to share encouragement with others. Often times I even feel as if the Lord teaches me through my own writing--probably because writing forces me to take the time to think through things. This is probably why, for me, blogging has to be an alone time activity. I tend to become so deep in thought while I'm writing that I'm nearly impossible to talk to--just ask my husband! :-) While I do have some alone time every day, I obviously can't always devote it to blogging. But I can usually find a way to at least fit a bowl of ice cream in! :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Veggie Tales, part 2

Remember this post?  Well, I'm beginning to see that we've come a long way since then!  I was afraid the day would never come, but it has:  yes, my picky eater Amariah has decided that vegetables aren't so bad after all.  I think the turning point came several months ago when Amariah was watching me cut up a head of fresh broccoli, asked for some, and proceeded to eat numerous bites of what I think is probably one of the least kid-friendly veggies out there.  And then there was a night a few weeks ago when I told Amariah she had to eat her vegetables before she could get down from the table, and for the first time ever she did it without any repeat requests, retaliation, or regurgitation.  When we put her plate of food in front of her at supper last night, she went for the steamed carrots first and ate them all before moving on.  And just tonight, she ate all of her steamed peas without me telling her to and then asked for more!  Now, after months of diligently serving vegetables to Amariah night after night and making her eat at least one bite of them each time they were presented, she seems to have finally acquired a taste for them.  I'm so glad I didn't give up (and that my husband is now the only pea-hater in the house ;-))!...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kids Say, vol. 1

Abel and Amariah have reached a stage where they talk all the time.  Amariah is still pretty hard to understand at times, but Abel converses very well.  I am continually surprised at the expanse of his knowledge and understanding.  Some of the things he says, though... I don't know whether to call it foolishness or wisdom.  Whatever is it--wise, foolish, or just plain cute--it needs to be remembered....

Me:  Abel, look at the moon!  Do you suppose it's a full moon?
Abel:  No, it's a hungry moon.

Me:  How did your bed get wet?
Abel:  God had a hose.  He turned it on.

Abel:  Mommy, can I have a snack?
Me:  I thought you said you were full.
Abel:  God made more room in my tummy.

Abel:  Mommy, can I have some pop?
Me:  No, honey.  Kids don't need to have pop every day.
Abel:  Yeah, just Daddies do....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Embarrassed and Humbled

Why do children choose the most inopportune moments to disobey?  Are there any other mothers out there who are diligent in training and disciplining their children and yet have been utterly humiliated by them in public?  I think I have pretty obedient children (though they are definitely a work in progress!), but from time to time, even though they know what the consequences will be, they decide to make a public display of disobedience that must certainly make bystanders believe there is no such thing as training and discipline in my house.

Yesterday I took Abel and Amariah to the pediatrician for their (delinquent) well-child exams, and it was there that Abel attempted--and may have succeeded--to convince the nurse and doctor that my home is in complete disarray.  (It's not, but you would have thought so yesterday!)  It all started when the nurse asked Abel to take his shoes off and step on the scale.  For whatever reason, he had made up his mind that he wasn't going to do it; and he changed his mind only after Amariah went first.  If that wasn't embarrassing enough, he then literally refused to comply with the nurse's next request to lay on the table and get his length measured.  (As a side note, don't you think they could treat a three-year old like a three-year old instead of like a baby and measure their "height" standing up instead of their "length" laying down?...)  After my failed attempt to lay my writhing son on the table, I took him to the bathroom (where I would have disciplined him had we been in any other setting) and talked to him about how I wanted him to behave.  When we returned to the exam room, he proved the truth of Proverbs 29:15:  "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother" (emphasis added).  Indeed, reproof alone did not do the trick; and I was most certainly ashamed as the nurse and doctor and I resorted to using force for every bit of the remainder of his exam.

Let me say here that it is so against my principles to use coercion and force in place of the rod and reproof.  Though I did appropriately address the issue when we got home, I hated that I felt trapped by Abel's disobedience because of the setting we were in.  I hate that I couldn't deal with Abel biblically at the time due to the fear of what the doctor might think.  I hate that our society has equated spanking with abuse and that parents have become paralyzed by the fear of being reported or having their children taken away.

Obviously, I write this post in some frustration; but I also write in humility.  I much prefer to look like I "have it all together" (even though we all know I don't!), so I was admittedly a little hesitant to share this story.  I decided to, though, partly because I'm curious how other Christian mothers out there would have handled this situation.  Is it wrong or unnecessary to be fearful of what society may say?  Is it detrimental to be inconsistent in an inopportune setting?  Truly, I am in no way looking for justification for my child's behavior or for the way I chose the handle it, but I would like to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Amen to THAT?

One of my favorite things to do as a mother is to quietly observe the way Abel and Amariah interact with each other.  Just a moment ago I was listening to them having a tea party.  (Actually, according to Abel, they were having Carrot Strawberry Lettuce Soup with broccoli in it.  Yummy....)  After getting the table all set, Abel asked Amariah if she wanted to pray.  She said, "No, you pray," and so he did.  "Dear Jesus, thank you for this food.  Amen."  A moment later I heard him praying again.  "Our Father, please help Daddy to get home.  Amen."  This prayer was immediately echoed by Amariah:  "Dear Jesus, Daddy home 'night.  Amen."  And another moment later came one final prayer from Abel:  "Dear Jesus, help Mommy's tummy get smaller.  Amen."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blog Hop--10 Things About Me

In thinking about how the blogging community can be a source of godly fellowship and encouragement in this busy, technology-driven era, my blogging friend Lynnette is hosting a blog hop to facilitate the "meeting" of us bloggers. In order to help us get to know one another, she has suggested we share ten charming, interesting, fun things about ourselves. So, here's mine!...

1. Ten weeks ago today I learned that God had spared my life. Upon being opened up to deliver my twins via the repeat cesarean section that I so did not want, my doctor discovered a complete separation of my old uterine scar. The only thing holding my babies inside my uterus was the unbroken bag of waters. Had I labored for the VBAC that I so earnestly desired and prayed for (and for which I was denied) or had my water broken, both me and my babies would probably have lost our lives. Praise God for doing according to His will and not mine....

2. Summer is my favorite time of year. Warm weather, fireworks, sweet corn... all my favorite things!

3. God has blessed me with an amazing husband. We celebrated our fourth anniversary one week after the birth of our third and fourth children!

4. I am a perfectionist who isn't very good at organizing things.... Does that make sense?... :-)

5. I have shaved my legs (almost) every day since I got married.

6. When I was getting to know my husband (before we started dating), I purposely didn't wear makeup because I wanted him to see the real me (and as it turns out, the Me he would have four years of marriage and four children later!). :-)

7. I was baptized in India while there on a three-week missions trip.

8. I am known by my family as being a long teeth brusher. The joke is, "She'll be ready in five minutes. She just has to brush her teeth." :-)

9. I was diagnosed with writer's cramp, a focal point dystonia of the forearm, after gradually and mysteriously losing the ability to write with my right hand. I have since taught myself to write left-handed and to use the computer for as many things as possible.

10. When I am home alone with my kids, I can often be found dancing and singing silly songs to them. (Please call before stopping by.) ;-)

My Growing Babies

This morning I took Isabel and Elliana to the pediatrician for their two-month check-up.  It's hard to believe they are already--to be exact--two months and one week old!  Since we don't vaccinate our children, today's appointment really just consisted of getting their measurements.  I was looking forward to seeing how much they've grown since their last appointment at 12 days old.  Since that time, Isabel has graduated from preemie size diapers and preemie size clothing to size 1 diapers and newborn size clothing; and Elliana has graduated from newborn size diapers and preemie size clothing to size 1 diapers and (some) 0-3 month size clothing.

Today's measurements confirmed all this growth!  Isabel, who was 3 lbs. 15.8 oz. and 17 3/4 in. long at birth, is now 8 lbs. 6.5 oz. (5th-10th percentile) and 20 1/2 in. long (3rd percentile); and Elliana, who was 5 lbs. 10.2 oz. and 18 in. long at birth, is now 10 lbs. 2.0 oz. (25th-50th percentile) and 22 1/4 in. long (25th-50th percentile)!  Both girls are growing faster than the normal growth curve and are reaching developmental milestones right on schedule.  (In fact, my little Isabel has already rolled over from tummy to back!)

I'm finding that it's exciting to watch my children grow.  While it would be fun to keep them as babies forever (okay... maybe not forever...), it's also fun to watch them learn and develop and discover their world.  I've heard parents of older children say that each new age is more fun than the last, and I'm beginning to see where that could be true.  As I've begun to accept the new reality that Travis and I are most likely done having children (see this post), I find myself somewhat excited to move into the next stage of life.  This past Sunday I was watching one of the "grown up" families in our church, and I thought to myself, "How rewarding it will be to one day fellowship with and worship alongside my grown children."  It was like looking at the eventual fruit of all the work that goes into having a young family.  And it was like God was showing me through the simple sight of a mature, godly family that it's all going to be okay.  I may not have more babies to look forward to, but I have so much to look forward to with the beautiful family He has already given me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Girl Time

Last night the girls and I welcomed Travis and Abel back home after their three day trip to St. Louis.  While they were away watching the Cardinals play baseball, we...

...ate hot dogs and baked beans for supper (one of Amariah's choice meals--and mine, too!).

...turned the air conditioner in the house from 73 to 75.  (Unlike my husband, I'm not a big fan of rooms that feel air conditioned.)

...had a chance to talk to each other (because Abel wasn't here to fill the air with his incessant chatter). :-)

...took a long walk and enjoyed the sounds of the outdoors.  (You should have seen me--carrying one and pushing two, I must have been quite the sight!) :-)

...worked on potty training...

...and obedience training...

...and attitude training.

...prayed together that God will make us into the women He desires for us to be.

...went shopping without spending money.  (If I would have had a dollar for every "You've got your hands full" and "You're a busy mom" comment I heard, I could have spent lots of money.)

...slept through the night!  Oh, wait... that was only Amariah and Elliana.  (Isabel, our time is coming soon... right?)  ;-)

How thankful I am that God has blessed me with a "handful" of daughters!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kids Live Here!

About a month ago my blogging friend Lynnette challenged her blog readers to take pictures of all the out of place things around the house that signal, "Kids live here!" I didn't take part in her challenge, but as I think about all the misplaced things I've just recently discovered, I'm beginning to wish I would have!
  • sidewalk chalk laying on the bathroom floor
  • multiple pairs of socks--and shoes--outside in the sandbox
  • toys in the dresser drawer
  • costume jewelry--and a cabbage patch--on my closet floor
  • baby doll outfits hanging in the nursery closet
  • crayon markings on the front storm door
  • my stark naked son running through the backyard
These little things that might be annoying--and sometimes embarrassing (see last bullet point)--at the time are, I must admit, kind of funny in retrospect. I have to wonder what prompted Amariah to strategically place her toy kitchen stuff in Abel's dresser drawer, what Abel was thinking (or if he was thinking) when he decided to strip and head to the backyard, etc. I guess these things do more than keep me busy cleaning and training--they keep me smiling (in the long run, at least!), too. :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Four Gifts

We are blessed.  I knew that children are a blessing, and I knew that twins would be a double blessing, but I never could have imagined how great that double blessing would be.  When I look at my two babies I am awed by the goodness of God.  If we must be done having children, what a way to go out--with not one baby but two to love and enjoy.  Last night, as I looked at them lying side-by-side on my lap, I said to my husband, "My joy couldn't be more full...."  They are incredible gifts, and I love them.

And then there's Abel... probably the only son we'll ever have.  He is such a big little boy.  He's smart, attentive, caring, and responsible.  He's my companion and my extra set of hands.  He is a gift, and I love him.

And Amariah.  She has such a love for life.  She's sweet, cute, silly, and fun.  She'll steal your heart in an instant.  She is a gift, and I love her.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3)

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