Saturday, December 31, 2011

The ultimate fresh start


I love having a fresh start. I love starting the work week on Monday morning after beginning the week with a refreshing Sabbath. I enjoy beginning new months and new seasons. I love going to bed at night knowing that, should the Lord continue to sustain my life, I will have a fresh start in the morning. And, I love starting a new year.

So often, I fail. I waste time. I snap at my children. I nag my husband. I burn the biscuits. I add too much liquid to bread dough and don't realize it until the rise cycle in the bread maker is done. While most days in my life gratefully go reasonably well, some days are just plain bad. Fallen, sinful creature that I am, I really do thrive on new beginnings--there's something so refreshingly splendid about having a clean slate to work with.
23And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.
24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
~Ezekiel 36:23-27
Once upon a time, I was in rebellion against God. I always claimed to love Him, but my actions proved the opposite to be true: I hated Him. Inspite of myself, God graciously saved me, through faith in the work of Christ. He cleansed my filthiness and cut down my idols. He changed the desires of my heart so that I wanted to obey His law.

Salvation is the ultimate new beginning. From Hell to heaven, darkness to light. From hateful rebellion against God to loving submission. The Lord saved me about 8 1/2 years ago.

Since then, I've fallen more times than I can count. I fail in my obedience every day. But,
22It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
23They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23
Like I said, I love having a fresh start. All around us, folks are talking about the beginning of a new year. They are full of hope as they write lists of resolutions. They want to change. They want a new beginning.

As you all consider the beginning of a new year, I want to encourage you all to examine yourselves.

Has your soul experienced the fresh start of salvation? If not, don't delay in repenting and believing the gospel of Christ, Who is indeed powerful and mighty to save. Are you serving the Lord faithfully with your life? If you are, consider what you can do to serve Him better, by His grace. If not, why?

Happy New Year to you all. I truly hope 2012 is your most fruitful and blessed year yet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

To my sweet Benjamin on your first birthday

My dearest Benjamin,

Having grown up as an only child without any boys around (at least not at home), though I was thrilled, I wondered if I would know what to do with a boy when we found out your gender in the middle of my pregnancy. As you grew in my womb, and even more once I held you in my arms for the very first time (after a beautiful, peaceful home birth), I fell completely in love. It's hard to believe it's already been a year--and as much as I loved you then, without a doubt, I love you even more now.

You are an inquisitive little explorer. You're not walking yet (though you did take a step the other day--but you quickly fell down, primarily because of a lack of confidence, I think), but you can crawl quite fast and you cruise around a lot. And you love to climb--which puts you in interesting predicaments at times. Strangely, you are also always finding ways to pinch your fingers. Hopefully someday you'll learn to avoid this!

You are also a sensitive little man, often seeking the approval of others. And with your adorable smile, you usually get it. Sometimes your feelings get really hurt when you are reprimanded. Hopefully that means you won't need too many spankings!  You love your big sister. It brings so much joy to my heart to see the two of you playing together. These days she helps me keep you out of trouble, but I bet one day you become a wonderful protector for her!

You don't say a whole lot of words yet (perhaps it's a boy thing?). Mostly, you says "Da-da" and more recently "Daaaaddy." Occasionally, you'll humor me and muster up a "Maaa-maa," which I love! You have also said "Doggie" and "Baba." You also like to point at things you want to see. And, when you raise your arms up signaling for me to hold you, it's really hard to resist!

You love to nurse and didn't start eating three solid meals per day until this fall. I am so thankful for all the good nutrition you've gotten through breast milk, and I wonder if that is part of the reason you have yet to get sick! You were much more attached to me than Katie was and still don't sleep through the night consistently (though you are getting there!).  However, your laid back and sweet disposition and irresistibly adorable four-toothed smile adds so much sweetness to my days.

When I look at you, I am amazed to think that one day, Lord willing, you'll be a man. My prayer for you today and always is that you will repent and believe the gospel at a young age, and that you'll grow into a godly man (like your daddy, whose name you bear)--one fit to provide for and lead a family of your own in advancing Christ's Kingdom.

My firstborn son, I could not be more thankful that the Lord gave you to me. I love you more than words can even say.

With all my love,


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." 
~Isaiah 9:6-7 

We hope you have a very blessed and joyful Christmas! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Bloggers wanted to review cloth diapering products

As I've mentioned in the past, we started cloth diapering when Benjamin was just a couple weeks old. He is approaching his first birthday, and we're still at it. I love it and don't have any plans to go back to disposables! We just recently had a few diapers added to our stash, and now we have enough that Katie can use them too (she is mostly potty trained, but still sleeps in a diaper). 

Here is an opportunity I thought some of you might be interested in.

Kebbie's Diaper Bag, an online cloth diaper store, is looking for cloth diapering Mommy Bloggers to review products. If you are interested, go here for more information.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prioritizing housework when you're tired

I became a mama in June of 2008 when Katie took up residence in my womb.  Without a doubt, the last 3 and a half years have been the best years of my life. Bringing two precious little people into the world (Katie's birth, Benjamin's birth) and having the joy of being their mama has been an incredible, beautiful, amazing, sanctifying, awesome experience. I wouldn't trade life with my babies for anything!

But, I'd be lying if I said it was easy. Caring for a young family really is hard work. I have spent most days in this season of life in varying degrees of tiredness. These past 3 and a half years, I have gone through two pregnancies and labors/deliveries. I've lived through the newborn fog twice. I've either been woken by a baby kicking me in the bladder or one who wants to nurse for the vast majority of nights since becoming a mama. I look at my two-year-old running laps around the house and wish I had half of her energy.

So often, I excuse disorganization and messiness in our home because I'm tired, saying to myself that I will be a better homemaker in the "next" season of life, when I'm not pregnant/nursing/chasing toddler(s). But the other day, I had a thought:  

We don't believe in birth control* and I'm only 21. There is a good chance that, in God's providence, this season of being tired will last another 20 years or more. Perhaps I should just accept it and try to do what I need to in spite of my sleepiness.

Thinking about this over the course of a few days was pretty motivating. In truth, I don't feel any less tired when I neglect my housework. I find that, more than being too tired to do the work I need to do around our house, most days I'm just too tired to feel motivated. 

Lack of motivation is a lame excuse for not keeping our home with excellence. God has ordained that I be tired during this season of my life, and He has also commanded me to industriously keep our home for His glory and the benefit of my family.

I am definitely not saying that tired mommies of little ones shouldn't give themselves some slack (it's unlikely you'll come over this week and find me scrubbing baseboards, washing ceilings, or moving our big bookshelves to vacuum underneath them), but we still need to our best, even if that's not quite as good as it will be when we're beyond this season (and also have older children who can help us).

I have found that having a prioritized to-do list works really well for me right now. Keeping our bedroom and the kitchen clean and the clothes washed are pretty close to the top of the list. A quick bathroom swish & swipe every morning keeps our bathrooms looking clean enough in between deep cleanings. A 5 minute pick-up in the afternoon keeps the toy clutter down in the living room.

One of the best things about a prioritized to-do list is that it leaves plenty of space for me to drop what I'm enjoy my babies. I can read books or get down on the floor and play because the most important things on my list are done first.

Whoever said, "When you're a mother, the days are long and the years are short," was right. Rather than exhaustion and chaos defining this tiring season of life, I want it to be defined by God-honoring simplicity and treasured times with my babies.

How do y'all deal with doing what you need to do when you're tired most of the time?

*We believe that, barring some unusual situations, Christian couples should not try to avoid having children. In short, this is because God commands us to be fruitful and multiply and to take dominion. One of the best ways to take dominion is to raise up godly children to advance the Kingdom in the next generation. Since God promises to provide for all our needs, He can be trusted to plan our families well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu Plan, December 5-11

Hi, y'all! I've missed blogging, and am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things this week with a few posts. Thanks so much for sticking around during my time away.  I just needed a break to refocus. My house and family still aren't perfect, but I think my perspective has changed a bit and I am working towards a more simple and organized life for my people.

I can't believe it's already December. This year has really flown by at lightening speeds. I'm attributing it to closing out last year by giving birth to Benjamin and spending a good chunk of this year in a sleep-deprived state. :)

Anyway, here's what I'm planning to cook this week.

Soaked baked oatmeal with apples, raisins, and carrots (which I promise is not as weird as it sounds--think carrot cake!)
Banana bread, scrambled eggs
Potato, spinach, bacon, egg, and cheese skillet

Smoothies (if we get a warmer day!)
Taco corn fritters (from the freezer), black beans

Church children's Christmas party
Sherrie's Aussie Chicken (this is SO good!), mashed sweet potatoes, salad
Baked nachos (with leftover shredded chicken instead of beef)
Potato soup (with cooked, crumbled bacon instead of ham and chicken broth instead of water/bullion)
Beef burritos on homemade tortillas
Homemade pizza
Dinner at the farm with Ben's family

What are y'all fixing this week? If you need some meal-planning inspiration, but sure to check OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!