Recently, I have found myself in need of seeking. Seeking for a home, a grocery, gas stations, home improvement type stores, plant stores, playgrounds, a bible study, social groups, playmates for my kids….really the list goes on and on. In all that seeking and (thankfully, mostly) finding; I am reminded of the grace and goodness of the Lord. That no matter where I am, He knows me.
He knows me.
He searches me and knows me.
That knowledge is overwhelming…
It overwhelms my fears, my complaints, my negative self-talk. It overwhelms me with gratitude, unexplainable peace and love that know no bounds.
We sang this hymn our first Sunday in Germany…
O God, you search me and you know me.
All my ways lie open to your gaze.
When I walk or lie down, you go before me:
Ever the maker and keeper of my days.
You know my resting and my rising.
You discern my purpose from afar,
and with love everlasting you besiege me:
In ev’ry moment of life or death, you are.
Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,
you have known its meaning through and through.
You are with me beyond my understanding:
God of my present, my past and future too.
Although your Spirit is upon me,
still I search for shelter from your light.
There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:
Even the darkness is radiant in your sight.
For you created me and shaped me,
gave me life within my mother’s womb.
For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:
Safe in your hands, all creation is made new.
Paraphrase of Psalm 139
Composer: Bernadette Farrell (b. 1957)
Maybe you have found yourself searching and in need of Christ’s overwhelming presence in your life. I am finding that I need to seek Him continually…. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13. Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7
I love that the promises of God are true. From the times of King David to Jeremiah; to when Jesus walked the earth; to me and you today….His promises are true, His Word is truth. Be encouraged; seek and you will find.
I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across a hilarious time-hop video of my oldest from a couple years ago. In the video Ren is telling the best version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I loved it…he however was embarrassed and immediately asked me to delete it….not the reaction I was expecting as Ren is a jokester, however I honored his request and deleted the video. We then sat down and talked about what is on my Facebook page, what I share and what is on my page that is of him. I showed him my friends list (many people that he knows casually) and explained who sees what and why I use Facebook. I then asked him if he would feel better if I asked his permission to post pictures/videos of him instead of just doing it. He nodded and then was off to build another Lego machine.
That conversation left me thinking for quite a while about the world my kids are growing up in. When I was Ren’s age the internet was just created…(mind blowing…really)…and there was no such thing as social media unless you count Polaroids and the notes that people wrote on them. I didn’t have to navigate instant…instant anything really. The best thing I can do for my kids is keep their day to day lives theirs. They get weirded out when someone asks them a question or makes a statement to them about something (that I put in FB) that that person was not a part of. I kinda like that they are weirded out (in a healthy way) by that…because it keeps me from over-sharing and helps me to be a more in-the-moment mama.
As a blogger and a mama who writes about being a mama…and my kids are 3 parts of that 4 part equation; I will have to figure out how to navigate my sharing with their privacy. Honoring Ren’s request to not post without asking his permission gives him the assurance that his life is his and he gets to choose what parts of it are shared. As a mama of young kids I have to use my judgement of what to share and not share. When they become aware of social media and their place in it; I have to honor their right to privacy. I want to teach my kids to guard themselves and their privacy; to know that their lives are precious, protected and not for all the world to see at a moments notice.
Have you had a social media and privacy talk with your kids? What advice would you give if you have? These are new waters for me and I would love to hear from you!
It’s been a while. I have been super busy here. Prepping a family of five for a move to Germany is no small feat. We are leaving in June, our countdown is officially on. Hopefully this week, we will get the official orders that we need to have in order to schedule the shipment of our family vehicle and the packing of our household goods. Once those dates are on the calendar things will start to move super fast.
I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I have read or was reading the KonMari Method book…The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While I have not completed each category in my home, I do see the value of keeping things that bring me joy and ridding my home of the things that do not. As a military wife the purge part of a move is so important. Not taking things that weigh you down, things that your family does not need, that bring you stress, that your kids have out grown…etc, etc, etc. The countless trips for donations, items for sale and simply putting something at the curb for a treasure hunter to take away; this has been the bread and butter of cleaning and prep this past month. This month, I am sorting through what is left, categorizing into bins and storing it on the shelf space that I will have with me in Germany. Thankfully the military will store stuff that we are wanting to keep but cannot take with us to Germany. Now it is the deciding what goes, what goes to storage and what goes to Germany….all.the.fun.things.
Speaking of fun things…I have to test for an international drivers license and I can start 60 days before we arrive in country. Ed and I have traveled in Europe and rented a car while on vacation several years back. No special license needed then. Since we will be living in Germany and not just vacationing there we have to have a special license….one more thing to my ToDo list. Oh and German language courses online. I started one of those…I can’t hold a conversation in German yet…but I do have good word (written word) recognition so far. I am adding German language to our homeschool curricula this week and I’m pretty sure Ren will pick it up pretty quick.
Add preparing our home for the rental market…and ALL.THE.THINGS. We found a property manager and just finished updating the kitchen this past weekend. New appliances (except the refrigerator) are in and a crisp white tile backsplash is up. The wallpaper is down and I am loving the white cleanliness of it all. Once we are all packed up and moved into a hotel (May calendar) we will have painters come and new carpet laid down.
Our sweet Guinea Pig girls have a new home waiting to receive them as do our 5 chickens. We will miss the wide open spaces of this home, the sweet pets and fresh eggs. I never viewed the “American Dream” (for myself) as a home with land, chickens, a big garden, etc. I certainly do now. Living here in Ohio has given me a glimpse of the life and type of home I want for my family when Ed’s military career is over. I am grateful for the time we have had here, the insight it has given us and the lessons we have learned.
Any advice, ideas, helpful suggestions are welcome. Wish me luck, send happy thoughts, pixie dust, prayers and a spoonful of sugar will all be good…We have a lot to do this month…April, I hope you are kind to me!
We received news recently and are preparing for an overseas move. My plate is FULL of all.the.things. that a Mama must do to prepare a home and a family for a huge transition. Because of that full plate I will not be posting very often here. I hope to share with you how we prepare for an overseas move, when I have time. Once we are over the pond, I plan to write about our adventures, the day to day workings of a homeschool mama life, recipes and copy-cat recipes (there is some food you just can’t get overseas) and all the things that gives me handfuls of life.
Until then, I have more spaces to go through and organize, a home to prepare for rental and suitcases to pack and re-pack. Say a prayer for me…Wisdom and peace would be my top two. Wisdom in packing smart, packing up things my kids need to make this a smooth transition and deciding the timeline for our trip and visits to family out of town. Peace for my heart (moving is tough) and my family (moving is tough).
Chris Tomlin’s song Here I Am To Worship is, for me, a perfect Lenten song. Imagine a completely darkened room, no light from any sources (have you ever been in a cave and they turn off the lights, you place your hand directly in front of your face and you cannot see your hand…or anything). That is a life without Christ. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4 & 5). Now imagine a light, slow and steady growing and filling the room, illuminating every corner, every crevice, until the darkness is overcome. That is Christ, into the world, into our hearts, our lives, every hidden place in us. Lent for me is creating intentional time to allow the Light of Christ to illuminate my life. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter Sunday). This time, for me, has become a season of reflection and pressing in. Most of the time when someone hears about Lent they think it is about giving something up (chocolate, social media, coffee, etc..). I believe that it is a time to gain. Gain perspective, allow Christ to show me the hidden places in my heart, Psalm 139:23 says Search me God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ~Gain a greater understanding of who Christ is and His plan for my life… For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ~Gain greater peace and wisdom for the days ahead… If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5
Spending intentional time for the forty days leading up to Easter has opened my heart more, to the wonder and excitement that is Easter. The sacrifice that Christ completed on the cross, that sacrifice is for me and you. On Ash Wednesday receiving a sign of the cross on your forehead is an acknowledgement and outward sign that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. The priest says “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15).
Time spent in worship, study and prayer, seeking God and asking Him to reveal more of who he is to you. Asking Him to show you the hidden places of your heart and change you to become more like Him. Forty days of seeking, repentance, praying, worship and allowing God to illuminate your life; preparing you to be the light of the world. This is why Lent matters.
There is no magic formula, no perfect Lenten study, say these prayers, abstain from these things, do this, not that. I can’t tell you what time of day to seek God (all day, while you go about your life, is best) or what translation to read, or what church to attend. What I can tell you is this, you seeking God and Him being found by you and in you, that is what Lent (and our whole Christian journey is about…even after Easter celebrations are over). Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Take that picture of you standing in the darkness, with no light and one candle is lit and then another and another and another and another and another….until the whole space is filled with light, dispelling the darkness that is all around. Each of those candles is a person, a full of the Light of Christ person. If we, with the Light of Christ burning inside of us; go out and shine our light for Christ….think about what the world around us can be transformed into. Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 said: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Do you participate in Lent? How do you celebrate Easter?
Five minutes of thoughts, words on a screen, fingertips to keys. My thoughts, my emotions, my life, just write.
We had a speaker at my MomsNext group yesterday. She spoke on taking time for ourselves, taking care of our spiritual health, physical health and finances. One of the questions for table talk was, What is holding you back from taking your Me Time? I sat there and thought for a while, the only thing I could come up with is me. I sabotage myself again and again. It’s the most consistent thing about the core of who I am. Which is sad. Why would I do or rather not do the things that I know will bring me a better life? Last year was a wash when it comes to taking care of myself and I never seemed to surface long enough to make a change. The crazy thing is that 2015 was awesome. I worked out on a daily basis, ate (mostly) healthy, I spent time in the Word and in prayer…and then 2016 happened. I don’t know what even happened…I just stopped. So here I am. Seven and a half weeks into this year and I don’t want to be consistent with myself…I don’t want to sabotage myself again. Life and the days of life don’t get longer; if anything they get shorter. There is so much to be done and my ToDo lists seem never-ending. As soon as one box is checked three more appear at the end of the page. So this is my proposal to myself.
~Daily Bible readings (Proverbs and Bible App daily readings) ~ Daily Prayer and Worship times before my kids are up ~ A Bible Study for Couples with Ed ~ Worship Music on Pandora
~ Water, daily intake to 1/2 my body weight in ounces ~ BeachBody workout stream online daily ~Cut all processed food and eat clean, whole foods ~ Snack on fruits and veggies
~ Stick to the budget plan that Ed and I have agreed upon ~ Make it a goal to have more money left over for savings at the end of the month, more than is budgeted ~ Cut out emotional and impulse purchases
That’s the plan. I know I am not the only person that struggles in these areas. I have a diary for the No Spend challenge that I started in January that I will be posting at the end of this month. I hope you can share this journey with me. Accountability is a powerful thing.
One of the verses that the speaker shared, to help us give permission to take time for ourselves was Proverbs 4:23, For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If we are not taking care of ourselves and staying in communion with God than the words that we speak and the life that we pour into others will be empty and we will become empty. I don’t want to become empty. I want to be able to encourage and speak life to those around me. I want abundance to flow from my heart.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you struggle in any of these areas? What have you found works for you? Do you have a plan in place to take Me Time? I hope we can encourage one another this year. I’m looking forward to 2017 continuing to be the year that brings great things…even the ones I have to work hard on myself for.
Did you just cringe or sigh reading that heading? Traveling with kids can be rough and it can be fun….yes, both. We do a lot of traveling by car and we travel without electronics too. No DVD player in our vehicles and the kids do not have tablets. I get asked frequently, when friends find out that we travel without electronics, what the kids do for the long rides and how do they not drive me crazy. Thankfully, we are just passing the toddler stages with our kids (my youngest is almost 3) and all three of them are good travelers as well. By good travelers I mean they are no longer crying and screaming their heads off for no reason (those earlier baby years are rough!).
The day before we leave for a long trip, I ask each of the kids to bring me what they would like to read and what small toy or activity they would like to take with them. Ren packs books, activity workbooks and magazines (mazes, search-a-word, hidden pictures, etc). Sam gives me his favorite books (he loves Curious George, Dr Seuss, Usborne Activity books) and he also grabs little cars and gadgets that fit in his backpack. Alexandria brings me all.the.things. so, I carefully sort through her assortment and pull things that will keep her attention and can fit in the space we have in the car.
Kids are always hungry and on the road it seems as though they want to snack the whole day. I have a small travel cooler that fits perfectly in my car. I pack it with apples, oranges, mini-carrots and string cheese. In a small travel bag I put popcorn, Chex mix, raisins, nuts, jerky etc. I try to stick with fresh fruit that can be eaten with little mess and other snack stuff that is not overly-processed and is also minimal in crumbs. Each of the kids have their own water bottle and I pack quart size ziplock bags (for handing out snacks), napkins and baby wipes (I will always have baby wipes).
We try to leave early in the morning and so the kids sleep for a good couple of hours at the beginning of a drive. Stopping at Welcome Centers for each state is great for potty breaks and stretching our legs. We have a small soccer ball in the car for a little game of kick ball at the rest stops. Along with reading and little imagination play, the kids tell jokes, Ren talks about what he is reading, they make up stories and we talk about different things that we are planning for our family.
On average we drive 8 hours and stop for the night; we try to make sure that the vacations we plan fall with in that eight hour window. We have not yet flown with all three kids…I’m sure the planning and packing for a plane ride will look a lot differently. Do you/did you travel often with your kids? What were some of the things you would never leave home without?
If I could have one social media app on my phone Instagram would be it. My love for Instagram runs deep. The little window into worlds that are not my own, quick thoughts, fashion and make-up, decoration, craft and cooking ideas, not to mention the fun shopping that Instagram brings are just a couple of the reasons why I use Instagram. The opportunity to tell my story in picture form is a fun creative outlet for me. Instagram helps me to see my days in a new light…moments that are not so golden become golden. Sweet captures remind me of my many blessings even on the hard days.
That is why I was excited when my friend Stephanie at WifeMommyMe decided to host a 31 day Christmas 2016 challenge. Of course I jumped right on board to participate.
One word prompts each day’s post and it is always interesting to me to see the different subjects and pictures that people post; interpreting the day’s word for themselves.
Do you Instagram? I would love to follow you if you do. Please find me on Instagram and follow me and I will follow you as well. If you are so inclined you can join Stephanie and myself starting December first for #2016ChristmasMoments challenge.
There are days of Mama-hood that bring me to my knees. I question everything; my ability to mama, to teach my school age kids, to keep my house clean, to manage this little home and our children. This morning was rough y’all. It’s crazy how a couple hours of kids being kids (rather my kids being my kids when their dad is out of town) can make me doubt my ability to adult and mama. The self-talk that I battle with in my head really gets to me on days like this morning. The you are not good enough, should have never been a mama, you aren’t smart enough to teach your kids, look at this house…you can’t even keep that straight, why are you so lazy, why are you so mean….and on and on…it spirals me and overwhelms me. Thank the Lord for good friends who call (even when I don’t answer the phone because I don’t want to cry about my morning…I mean really…my life is good) and snap me out of self destruction. Then I see it in a message I sent…”Pretty sure I’m not cut out for this”…I see that….written there, and see how the devil defeats me again and again in mama-hood. Makes me doubt everything. And then it makes me mad. Mad that I would let darkness overcome the light, that I would spend half a day not liking my family, my home, not seeing my blessings and our abundance.
How can I turn this day around, how can I change the outlook of this Monday for me and my kids…One word…DONUTS. We pull on coats and shoes, pile into the car and head to a local bakery. One donut for everyone and some cold milk. Sweet surprises like a Monday afternoon donut run lifts everyones mood. After stopping at the grocery for a couple things, Sam notices the big black and yellow sign for the Dollar General. “Can we go to the Whoopie Cushion store Mama?” and I can’t resist. One Whoopie Cushion, one package of Booger Slime and a Princess Tiara and Wand package are purchased for my wild things.
It’s now bedtime, homemade potato soup is warm in their bellies, bath time has come and gone. And I am ready to close out this Monday. I still have dishes to do, rooms to straighten and vacuum, laundry to fold and a bathroom to clean. I am grateful for these things. Grateful that I can…I can Mama and my kids know that I love them. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara….
It’s the end of the month. I can hardly believe that September 2016 is closing out. Ninety-one days until 2017. When I was a kid and heard the adults around me talk about how time flies I always wondered what they were talking about. Now.I.Know. I put out pumpkins and owls, made my first simmering pot of deer chili, pulled the cozy sofa blankets out of the linen cupboard and am enjoying the cooler days that the Autumn season brings to us in Ohio.
We are two full months into our homeschool year. Ren and I are enjoying the new curriculum that we are using. Finding curricula that fits both the learning style of the student and the teaching style of the mama is very important. Sam is starting to show more and more interest in “school work” as we gather at the table mid-morning and Alexandria loves to write worms (scribbles), play play-doh and sort colors into muffin tins. I am finding my groove with house-keeping, meal prep and all the non-school stuff that must be accomplished through out the days.
Finding my groove in writing has proved a bit more difficult. I find that I have ideas for posts and things I want to share with my readers. Then when I finally get the time to sit down and write; I find myself wondering if it is even worth the time. The value of sharing my world with the world (those of you who visit here) is something that am trying to figure out. I want this to be a place of value. I am finding more and more that we (as a society-as a whole) put so much value on things that really have no value…no eternal value. The Bible tells us in James 4:14b Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. Please bear with me while I navigate these waters, this season. I hope my space will be a place of encouragement, a resource to let you know that you are not alone and above all a place that points to Christ. Sharing our life, recipes, challenges I go through and grow through, things I love and things I struggle with is what I want to do here. Handsful of Life is what God has graciously given me. Jesus said in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. This fullness of a life rich in Christ is what I hope to share with you in the posts to come.