Friday, November 30, 2012

Tranquility in the Home


Readers, you know me. You know that 1) I have a passion for keeping my home and 2) that I am a teacher and that 3) those two things usually don't reconcile. I've been thinking about a dear friend, and reminding myself that much of the feeling of our home can come from us as the keepers of it. There are little things that we can do, that don't include having a spotless house, to promote a feeling of peace and tranquility in our homes. To remind myself and you, especially at this time of year, here is a list of a few things you can do to generate peace in your home.
  1. Light candles. This time of year is so dark, so candlelight can really take some of the shadows away in the evening. Plus, the scents of holiday candles are delightful, calming and welcoming. If you have little ones, like I do, a couple candles high on tables out of reach are all that you need; I'm not suggesting you cover your kitchen table with votives.
  2. Play music (and turn off the TV). I came from a music home; my dad was always playing some kind of music, especially during dinner. On the flip side, our family is not really a TV family. We only have one TV, and it is not on the same floor as the kitchen and dining room.  Playing music allows conversations to occur, it allows your children to imagine and play, and it keeps our senses from becoming overwhelmed. We have many different types of music, even Christmas music, in our collection. If we're stressed, flustered or upset, I'll play something mellow without words: smooth jazz or classical. If we're happy and in good spirits, I'll play something upbeat that the whole family likes. If you don't know where to start, consider starting with worship music. You may be amazed at the impact of worship music playing in the background, both the beautiful melodies and the beautiful words.
  3. Serve graciously. We as wives and mothers often feel drained, like if we don't do something, it won't get done.  That attitude, unfortunately, can sometimes make us bitter and begrudging toward the people whom God has given us to serve.  Pray for humility, knowing that every day is better than we deserve, and serve your family with love and grace. 
  4. Speak kindly. On one of the blogs I follow, a blogger noted that Michelle Duggar said (and I paraphrase because I tried to find the quote and I couldn't) we need to build up our children with kindness twice as much as we admonish them. TWICE! Not that our children don't need correction; they do. But that much more we should be encouraging them, teaching and instructing them, asking them things and listening to their thoughts. That advice is sobering to me, and I think about it a lot. The impact this could have on our homes is extraordinary.
  5. Pray fiercely. This is not a cop-out item. We as wives and mothers must pray fiercely and earnestly for our homes. For our husbands and their leadership. For our children and their salvation/sanctification. For our own spirits of humility, gentleness and realistic expectations. Often, we underestimate the power of prayer, or we forget that prayer isn't for its own sake, but to the Creator of the Universe. If anything can bring peace and rest to a home, it is our Heavenly Father in Whom our souls have found their peace and rest. 
Be encouraged, friends. Soli Deo Gloria!

P.S. Drinking in the Word was not stated, but implied. Look here or here for an Advent Bible study to start tomorrow, and maybe try a family Advent calendar.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Birthday, Birthday

I can officially say, after preparing all week for Charlotte's fourth birthday, that I am exhausted. It was, however, very worth it to make her day so happy and exciting. 
We blew out candles on Tuesday night since we had church Wednesday night. 


 Then, Charlotte woke up on Wednesday and got dressed for school.
 When we got home, we opened presents from Aunt Liz first.
 (The smile for the clothes WAS bigger, I just pushed the button at the wrong time)



There are a couple videos (including one of Jonah fighting with/eating a gift bag) but this one is the best. This is Charlotte opening a present she really wanted: a Lalaloopsy notebook.
video

Monday, November 19, 2012

Work

We, as Americans, are very conflicted about work. Working. We want to work; we're thankful we have jobs. We go to college so that, eventually, we can work. But it's hard, it's time-consuming and it gets in the way of life. If only we didn't have a job, we would....

I've been pretty convicted about this attitude in myself lately. If you know me, you know that it's taken me about four years (and A LOT of God's grace) to make peace with the fact that, in our family, I need to work outside the home full time. This may not always be the case, but it might be, and that has been difficult for me to come to terms with, to say the least. I am not ashamed to admit that I still struggle with this, though far less than I used to. Too often, I look at my job as something that gets in my way of really living, and no one would blame me: I have two small kids, a husband, a house we're trying to sell, papers to grade, dinners to make, baths to give, you get the picture. The problem is that this way of looking at my job is wrong. So wrong. Instead of seeing my job as something that gets in the way of my life (because, from a time viewpoint, my life gets in the way of my job), I need to switch my paradigm to seeing my job as part of the circumstances God has given me. Something to be thankful for, yes, but not something to be simply tolerated. Not something to try to get out of or get around. Something to be accepted gratefully and completely with open arms, eager for the opportunities God has for placing me there.

God has been convicting me a lot lately about this idea of work. The book of Ecclesiastes, especially, has shown me that God's plans are perfect and mine are futile. His purposes are greater than mine, and it is His will for me to be content with what I have. That means my faith is not determined by my circumstances. I have said this over and over again; I remind myself of this all the time. All of my life is a gift of grace, even the trials. Even the work that I do. Even the fact that I am in the position I am in in the building I'm in, and so on and so forth.

(Caveat: No, my job is not my entire life. If you know me, you know that. But it is part of my life, and a pretty significant part of it. So why would I dread/waste/complain about it when it has been entrusted to me by Almighty God? How foolish would I be?)

And I had forgotten that. I had lowered my vision from Heaven where it belongs to this earth where all of the tiny, dramatic details weigh us down. I have forgotten what I deserve and who I was.
Scripture says in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." This includes working in the jobs where we spend most of our time (and probably do most of our ministry, whether we know it or not.)
And so, friends, be encouraged. It all comes back to the gospel. And grace. And not our strength.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tales in Infant Mobility

 You see, because of Charlotte's feet, we didn't really have to worry about mobility until she was over a year old. Obviously, we are not having the same problem with Jonah. Just some different problems. :)
 He is into EVERYTHING. Every single thing he is not supposed to get into or have, he finds a way. Stinker.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spoiler Alert


Family Pictures Preview

Thanks Shannon - With His Light Photography

Monday, November 5, 2012

Messing Around Monday

  Tonight for dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup that was already prepared and frozen. So I had some time to mess around and take some silly videos. video
video    video

After dinner, we played Cootie. After much trying not win, I wound up winning. But we still had fun.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Evening

video
Too cute to not videotape. :) Soli Deo Gloria, y'all!

Fancy Birthday Party

 Saturday afternoon, Charlotte went to a Fancy Nancy birthday party for her friend, Ansley. All the girls came in fancy attire, had their makeup, hair and nails done, put jewelry on and had a fashion show. Hysterical!


 Just to clarify, this outfit wasn't technically "fancy," just kind of a normal Charlotte outfit.
 Getting her makeup done...
 So fancy!
 Her fancy braided hairdo (not done by Mommy).
 Ansley's dad, Brett, was a good sport. He filmed the girls as they came down the stairs, one at a time, for their fashion show. The picture I took of Charlotte coming down the stairs had her blocked by that column, but I will tell you that she savored her time in the spotlight, sashaying with her hands on her hips, not smiling like Victoria Beckham. :)


And some videos. I think this party will be the talk of our house for quite some time. I also think that Charlotte and Ansley may be exactly the same because this was Charlotte's perfect party.

Why We Took Charlotte Out of Dance


So that she could do more of this.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Just a Season

I have a spare second, so I took a couple of videos to post. 
We are so busy right now. Seriously. As if our time is a commodity just like our money that we must conserve at all costs; there is literally nothing else in our schedules we can cut. Yet we are strapped for time at all times, it feels like.
Adam's parents came to visit last weekend; more pictures of that later. :) video
And do you know what? This is just a season. It will not always be like this: two small kids, busy, stressful jobs, long drives to everywhere we need to be. This is just a season. And we must fight for joy. And if you are in a difficult season, then so must you.

video
P.S. As a funny side note: Charlotte has started saying "Negative" instead of "no." Not in response to direction, but if I ask her if she wants some milk, she'll say, "Negative" instead of "no." Hilarious.

video

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homecoming Game

Charlotte helped out at the Homecoming Game last night. She gave the scepter to the queen, but we just called it a wand. It's tough to explain what a scepter is to a three-year-old. :)



Sunday, September 23, 2012

There's nothing like it.

There's nothing like getting waylaid by the word of God and the Holy Spirit during a sermon, praying, confessing, repenting and being forgiven, loving on the saints in the body, grieving with those who grieve, and on the ride home from church, a little voice in the back sings very softly:
All is well
With my soul
He is God
In control
I know not
All His plans
But I know
I am in His hands.

Praise you and thank you, Lord. I will worship you all the days of my life. Amen.

Today's Pictures

I don't know why, but for some reason, today was a very picture-worthy day. Here is a summary of our day...
 Like every Sunday, we went to church this morning (which will get a whole lot easier when Jonah stops waking up in some kind of agony on Saturday night). Charlotte wore a new dress and tights, and although she's making a very strange face, the outfit was worth the picture. You can't tell, but the tights are navy and white striped, and Charlotte LOVES tights.
Charlotte decided that she didn't need a nap after church, but Jonah, on the other hand, zonked out for a good three hours. I went in to put some laundry away and thought he was so cute sleeping that I couldn't resist taking a couple pictures.
 That's some good sleep. :)
 Right before dinner, I brought a chair from the basement up to Charlotte's room so that she could sit at her desk. I had meant to do this for a while, but now that Jonah's crawling AND pulling up (all within four days!), I moved her coloring books and crayons into her room. It made sense, then, to give her a chair so she could color. As I was making dinner, I peeked in on her, and took this picture covertly.
 There's a lot to this last picture. Charlotte brought me this notebook and showed me some of her writing. I asked if she wanted to try to write her name, so I modeled it for her at the top of the page. I also explained to her where the letters start when we write and where they finish (I also told her that, since she was left-handed, she wouldn't like that very much). She went to her desk and tried very hard to copy what I wrote. She did a good job, huh?
And that was our day. Now the kids are in bed and Adam and I are finishing up school work so that we can start the week a step ahead. Soli Deo Gloria, y'all. Really.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday update

I love Thursdays. I really do. I love the anticipation of the weekend without the dread of going back to work. I love looking forward to relaxing that we don't usually get to with all our weekend to-dos. And for some reason, I have a renewed energy on Thursday night to get things done. Like today, I took some pictures. Enjoy.

 Oh, and this was in Charlotte's room. See what it is? It's a chalkboard. :)


And look at this guy. :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dance Class

 So, here they are: the pictures from the first dance class. Charlotte is taking a 45 minute ballet-tap class, and she had an absolute blast today. What's funny about Charlotte is that she always starts out something new being tentative. I think that next week, she will be significantly more excited than she was today, just because she will know what to expect. You can see her above holding the peanut butter crackers I packed for her for after class. Then, a picture of her on the way home - exhausted. :) Since we can't take pictures during class, this will have to do for now.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Being an English teacher


Ah, Pinterest...where have you been all my life?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Don't Panic.



Everything is fine. BUSY but fine. So busy, I can stop to type this for ten minutes before I go do something else.  We are adjusting. That is something you need to know. It is a difficult adjustment, but we are getting there.  Charlotte is starting dance classes in a couple weeks, and I can't wait to post about that. :)

I talked to a dear teacher friend at church yesterday, and she said something very innocent to me: "It must be hard to be a Christian mom and a teacher at the same time." Honestly, that simple comment laid me out for a moment. I had nothing to say. I almost started a pitiful downward spiral into...but no, I didn't. I responded by saying something like it is hard, but it's doable.

So here it is, what I should have said: God has called me to teach. He has not called me to any other vocation but teaching. Did you know that it is awful to be in public education right now? It is. But it's my calling, and my Lord who knows all things has equipped me to do it. Is it tough to have two little-little kids and teach high school English of all things? OF COURSE! Isn't anything worth doing tough at times? Marriage, parenting, homeowning, functioning as a human being, deep-seated faith in my Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, it's tough, but we run the race faithfully, running the course that God has given us. And this is the course God has given me. The last thing that I will not allow our family to forget: this is a season. We will not always have two kids this small. We will not always be pressed as hard as we are pressed. If you'll recall, we were much harder pressed three years ago at this time.
So don't worry about us. If you don't hear from us, give us a call. We are fine and happy, albeit busy, running the race that God has called us to. I hope you're doing the same. Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Oh, yes...

I've been playing on Pinterest when I should be doing work. :) Happy Saturday night.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Pictures Catch-up

Here are much anticipated summer pictures. Sorry that it took me so long.




 At the Columbus Zoo
 The unsuspecting prey of the polar bear in arctic climates...
 The polar bear meets its worthy adversary...












Uh oh...looks like someone is ready to start moving...
 Hanging out with Grandmother and Grandad

 Pace faint at Dollywood

 Hook 'em Horns...