Friday, November 30, 2012

Tis the Season!

I have seen a few blogging ladies write out a list of their plan for the Christmas season. Things and activities they desire to do during this beautiful, cozy month. I, myself have never made a list but I love the idea. Besides the fact that I am a big time planner and I love to make my lists, I find this to be an awesome idea. This season is a season to especially be intentional with our children, as we are drawing their hearts nearer to Jesus and feeding their hearts with the reasons we believe. So here goes mine, I know its not going to include everything but most.

  1. Birthday Cake for Jesus- This will be a first for us this year but I have already been talking to Cayden about baking and decorating a cake for Jesus. The entire process will be so fun. I am sure Camden will enjoy taste testing ;-) And on Christmas day, we will sing Happy Birthday to Jesus (as we do each day) and cut the cake to share.
  2. Cookie Cutters: I have a set of cookie cutters that tell the birth story of Jesus. These were gifted to me last year and we will get to make them this year!
  3. Gingerbread House Party: I love to make gingerbread houses (hot glue them together everyone!)...we will get together with a couple neighbor friends and enjoy decorating mini houses and playing. I have decided to make it small and quaint this year.
  4. Our Annual Baking Day: My mom, sister and I love to select the cookies we will make each year and we enjoy a day of christmas music and baking. This year Cayden gets to join in on this tradition as he LOVES to be in the kitchen helping. We also build a big ginger bread house together each year too. This day is a favorite tradition of mine.
  5. Christmas Party: Cayden has a few friends he has been with since birth, they will all come over and we will have a day of cookies, crafts, singing carols, and play. They are all the best of friends, all five of them.
  6. Naples: We love to walk the canals of Naples all bundled up looking at the beautiful lights and houses right on the water. We do this usually a couple times, great fun!
  7. Warm Home: Our home is decorated and the white lights are shining. The more white lights the better!
  8. Nativity Story: This year we are enjoying our stuffed animal nativity set. Its been fun to create the birth story of Jesus with these. Cayden can tell the story now, a big goal I have set this year for him and us. To learn it every day. To sing Happy birthday daily. And to talk about why Jesus came.
  9. Car drives: Cozying up in the warm car, singing songs and looking at the lights. Plain and simple and a blast.
  10. This year we have been invited to a party at our neighbors which will include a visiting Santa. It will be fun to have the magic! I remember a neighbor of ours doing this as a young girl and it was so fun and magical for my sister and I.
  11. Church Party: We love having great friends over often and this is our annual dinner and white elephant that we do. We will have awesome food, desserts, white elephant game and sit by the fire with hot drinks.
  12. Ruby the Elf: Hide our little fun Elf each night for the boys to find. We started this last year and it turned out to be fun. I dont do the whole Elf gig as I am not to keen on it, but the hide and seek part of it is adds to the fun.
  13. Advent Calendar: Each day we will read part of the Christmas story and of course a little surprise will be there for each day along with a tiny ornament to hang on the tree.
  14. A Christmas Story: Ryan and I cozy up on the couch each year and watch this movie together. Its something we do and have done since we were dating <3
  15. A Charlie Brown Christmas: We started this  fun to watch show as a family last year and we will have popcorn and goodies to go along.
  16. Christmas Eve: One of my favorites since a tiny girl. Christmas eve service at church followed by an Italian dinner at my parents house. A wonderful night. 
Okay, I better stop there! I know many other little flings and crafts will be mixed in there, but these are the ones on my heart tonight. I so love this season, and as a family we are so excited about it.

Tis the Season. 

Thank you, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Don't Turn the Lights Out

This past Thursday, at my moms group at church, our pastor, who has such a shepherds heart, spoke about marriage. It was awesome and I think all that he shared resonated to each and every wife present. He shared wisdom, studies he has done, biblical truths. I walked away feeling so rejuvenated. One of the many things he touched on was something about parenting. It was rather a tid bit or tangent that he just threw into his speaking time. He said this, "By the way parents, don't ever just put your kids to bed, turn the light off and walk away. This is a special time with your child to sit and talk. They will open up to you, and it happens at bedtime." SO profound, so true and I agree wholeheartedly.  I shouted a big AMEN in my heart and told him after I loved that he shared that.

Thinking about bedtime with my children. I love it. It's the end of a day filled with excitement, learning and love and to be cozied up with freshly bathed children, warm jammies and dimmed lights, well it just brings on a big sigh. A sigh of rest. A sigh of closeness together. A sigh of a day well spent. A sigh of quiet time.

I love our nights together with my family. We all pile into our big bed, kiddos and all. We all get under the warm blankets, I dim our overhead light and we pray together as a family. And now that my oldest is 3 (dont forget the 1/2) ;-) he loves to talk while we all lay in bed together. I love it. His latest concern is shadows and  having bad dreams. While these aren't the biggest concerns to say a 13 year old opening up and sharing, its a concern to him. Showing my son that we can talk about our bad dreams, that we can pray about them-that we would have "sweet dreams" and to encourage him that he doesn't have to be is priceless. While my youngest is just one, he gets to cozy in with us and share hugs.
I know many moms who do/have done this and have wonderful relationships with their precious older children now. Relationships of openess. My mom was one of them too. I still remember laying next to her and talking as a little girl. To this day, my mom is the person I can share anything with. Because she allowed bedtime to take 30 minutes instead of 5. Its the best. And to experience this now with my boys, is something I cherish so deeply.

I love bedtime because of hearing their little hearts express their concerns. Their love. Their excitement of the day and what's to come tomorrow.

I love bedtime and I hope you do too! Take 30 minutes or more and just love and listen to them. Stroke their hair and face and marvel at them as they drift off to sleep. Investing in them, is a beautiful thing.

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Deut. 6:6-9


Sweet dreams.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Captivating Fall and Growing a Heart of Thankfulness

Fall is here is So Cal and our neighborhood leaves and the trees in front of our church are beautiful. The feeling of thankfulness is abundant and my goal to ingrain a thankful heart into my children is a mission I dont take lightly. Back when I taught preschool, each Fall we took a "Fall Walk." A wonderful time of giving thanks to God, observing the changing leaves, singing songs and collecting some nature. I have done this each year with Cayden, but this year, as he is older and understanding the world more, we truly enjoyed this time. Last week, the boys and I journeyed out for about an hour walking around our neighborhood saying hi to neighbors as we do, stopping to chat, sang songs and talked about God. I was reminded of this verse,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
 and with all 
your strength. These commandments that I give you today 
are to be on your 
hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when
 you sit at home
 and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when
 you get up. 
~Deut. 6:5-7

As Cayden and Camden held fall colored leaves, pine cones and the like, the importance of cultivating a 
thankful heart is HUGE. We sang, "Its good to the give thanks to the Lord," "Autumn leaves are falling down,
" and "Praise Him, Praise Him all you little children."

We held hands. It was sweet. I love our daily walks, but this one is particular stands out in significance. I
 prayed before we left for our walk that God would fill our hearts with a desire to thank Him in all we would 
see that day. And He never ceases to fail us. Eyes lit up as we observed leaves, acorns and as we sang. God
 is so good to give us these moments with our precious gifts, our children.

We came home, washed up and sat down with fall scrapbook papers, glue and scissors and our bowl filled 
with autumn blessings. The apple designed paper was chosen and as Cayden cut leaves and squeezed the 
glue and positioned each blessing just so, I was so thankful. So thankful for the simple things God gives us
 such as a little acorn for the squirrles. Oh how He loves even the tiny animals in our world.

Thank you God for loving us even with all of our blemishes.

Cayden's list of thankfulness  was this, "our house, me, Camden, Jesus, shows, Daddy,
Mommy, Pop Packages,
 trains" All things in his world that are so important and vital to him. Precious
 from a three year old. I love seeing through his eyes of wonder and love for life.

Camden was thrilled to hold a simple leaf, a tiny pine cone. He is thankful too.
And his eyes
 light up just the same.

Let us not grow weary of teaching our children of thankfulness. Let us talk about our
 out loud daily.
"Thank you God for this cup of cold water." "Thank you God for a plumber who
can come fix the bathroom sink." I think its so important to live out loud for our children
so they may see and
know what being thankful to Him looks like.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at 
the proper time 
we will reap 
a harvest if we do not give up. ~Gal. 6:9

Thank you God for these moments.

"Thank Him, Thank Him, all ye little children, God is love. God is love."

(P.S. blogger is acting up I think, so this post is posting funky...sorry!)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"The Rip Current of People Pleasing"

My neighbor and I were just talking about this yesterday and then I read this devotional today. For myself, people pleasing used to be big for me. It nearly ruled me in a lot of relationships. But as I have prayed and as I have focused on Him, asking Him to remove it from my heart, people pleasing in my life is slowly but surely diminishing. I think it takes great confidence in Him, great focus on Him to move away from this rip current that can hold us so captive. I am thankful to the Lord for building me in confidence to steer clear of people pleasing in my life. Its such a strong hold, and to release it from our lives is so peace-FUL. A daily prayer indeed!

Here is a devotional written by Lysa TerKeurst, president of proverbs 31 ministries:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10 (NIV)
Bring up the phrase "people-pleasing" in a group of women and the responses are interesting. Most will quickly say they struggle with this to some degree. Those that say they don't struggle with people-pleasing eventually admit before the conversation is over that it's present in at least one of their relationships.
People-pleasing is something we seem kind of resigned to having to deal with rather than determined to overcome.
Why is that?
We all want to be liked. There's nothing wrong with that. But as we travel the path toward love and acceptance let's take a look at two of the possible motivations behind people-pleasing.
One motivation is to give love out of the kindness of our heart. In giving love we feel love. That's good.
Another motivation is to give to others out of what we hope to get in return-love. In getting love from what we do, we feel desperate to do more to get more. That's dangerous.
It's the second way that gets us into trouble with people-pleasing. It's not wrong to want to make others feel loved, happy, and pleased. But if we are doing it with the motivation of getting things in return, we will set ourselves up for trouble. Being in a constant state of trying to get love by doing more and more will lead to exhaustion.
Exhaustion for the giver. Exhaustion for the taker. Exhaustion in the relationship all together.
Ephesians 5:8-10 says, "... for at one time you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord." (ESV)
I like the explanation of what the fruit or evidence is of us walking as children of light — doing what is good, right, and true — as we discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
I am challenged to make this a filter for the decisions I'm making today. You see, I know I'm in the rip current of people-pleasing when I dread saying yes but feel powerless to say no.
If I'm seeking to please the Lord, I will ask some questions before agreeing to do something for another person: Am I doing this with good motives, right intentions, and true expectations?
Or am I doing this with:
Fearful motives ... They might not like me if I say no.
Skewed intentions ... If I do this for them will they be more likely to do that for me?
Unrealistic expectations ... I just know if I give a little more, they'll affirm me and I'm desperate for their affirmation.
Wherever we focus our attention the most will become the driving force in our lives.
The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please people, the more of a magnified force people-pleasing will become in my life. The more I focus on trying to figure out how to please God, the more of a magnified force He will become in my life.
My focus. My choice.
Dear Lord, help me break away from my people-pleasing tendencies. Guide me in my daily decisions as I battle fearful motives, skewed intentions, and unrealistic expectations. I want to make You the focus, Father, so that You continue to become the magnified force in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's the simple things..

...that make all the difference!

You know that pile of laundry waiting to be folded? It can wait.

You know that dirty sink filled with dishes? It can wait.

You know those crumbs and cheerios all over the carpet? It can wait.

You know the plants that need to be watered? Yes, it can wait too.

You know those tiny, adorable, precious kids pulling on your clothes asking you to play? They cant wait. For tomorrow they will be off to college. That moment, that precious moment when they want you, cannot wait.

Many days, and today was no exception, I looked at my house that had a hurricane performed by my sweet boys...cheerios thrown about, trains from the living room to the kitchen to the bedrooms, laundry that needed to be washed and folded, a sink that needed to be scrubbed and a phone call that needed to be made,text messages that were buzzing...I told all of that to just wait today. Because guess what? Its all still there tonight, but I am blessed that I got to play with my kids, and don't forget about hiding under the blanket for over an hour hiding and looking for the bats! It was and always is a  treasure and I am so glad I chose to put off everything else. My children and I created giggles, memories, and used our imaginations to play for hours; I looked into their expression filled faces and smiled back saying, "yes" to them. Nothing like it. And I am blessed that my husband can understand and know that these moments and days are fleeting.

I love this quote..."A clean house is a sign of a wasted life." Because one day will our children say, "Gee I wish my mom kept our house tidy and clean more often." And do you ever hear a mom wish she had spent more time cleaning? Nope. The seasoned moms who have gone before and have parented from the heart say, "Cherish every moment, it goes so fast."

Now don't get me wrong, we shouldn't live in filth and this isn't to justify laziness or saying we shouldn't teach our children how to pick up from time to time. And yes some things must get accomplish. But, much can wait. Wouldn't you agree?

"Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty..." Proverbs 14:4

I am so glad my manger is full and is being used to "express and not impress" others! I often times tell my oldest son, "we make messes and it's okay!" I always told this to my preschoolers and now to my kids. Through messes, I see learning taking place, I see fun times, I see expression. Messes are blessings! Not once does my son cringe at the thought of what I might say because he made a mess, either by accident or purpose...its okay and he knows that! I didn't learn this overnight. My mom allowed us to have barbies sprawled about through the entire house, she allowed us to bake and make a messy kitchen. I learned it from a sweet grandma friend who I taught with. I have adopted it for my own and am living it.

Here's proof: raw coverage of Hurricane C Squared (Cayden and Camden) ;-) 

I remember growing up, my mom would let me make "concoctions" in the kitchen. I would get a bowl out, and go to town. Rummaging through the fridge and cupboards and pouring a little of this and a little of that into a bowl. It looked so gross after all was said and done, but I had so much fun "cooking!"  Thank you mom! The other day Cayden and his friend did the same thing, they called theirs a "potion." They had soda opened, cookies, you name looked so gross, but the fun that was had and the laughter I listened to was priceless!

I encourage you moms, to think of messes as learning, its proof that a fun childhood is all its cracked up to be! To look at your house and say it can wait. I encourage you to run outside with your kids, to get dirty and end it with a bubble bath. To pull out the blankets and hide under them! To not be afraid that someone might stop by and judge you, I will admit, I fear this thought with a few people we know, but I no longer apologize for the toys all over, and you shouldn't either! After all, the way we parent and live life in our God given home, is between us and the Lord and no one else! Blessings! Rest assured at some point, the house will be tidy, for me it's in the evenings before heading to bed. Then the morning comes and we start playing again!

Go play and make fun messes!