Friday, February 28, 2014

I Do Hard Things

Havilah Cunnington.

I had never heard of her, and maybe you haven't either, but I'm about to recommend her bible study, "I Do Hard Things" to you because she's awesome sauce.

She recently came to our church for a conference all the way from Redding, CA [Bethel Church] and I immediately liked her. She's hilarious, straight forward, but still brings the truth drenched in love.

Let's be real, anyone who has 4 little kids like myself, I worship with reverent understanding of their daily toil. Say all you want about your 5 hour alone time coffee, 4 bible translations and journals spread about on a Monday morning... but tell me you're still following Jesus after keeping 4 boys under 5 alive and I'm all ears.

Probably my favorite quote from the weekend was...

"Most days I met God between the washer and the dryer" #shehadmeatlaundry #momlife #realtalk

Or maybe it was when she said "We've had 4 kids in 5 years... Now we don't kiss, we don't hug, and we definitely don't get in hot tubs anymore." #shewasjoking #dontbeoffended

If you're looking for a very very very practical bible study on how to deal with and heal from the things life throws at us, I highly recommend this to you. Here's just a few nuggets I took away front the weekend...

  • Hard things happen to all of us. Some we ask for by our poor choices and some just happen to us [we didn't do anything to deserve them]. Understand the difference. Don't confuse the two. 

  • We all have a "yard" God holds us responsible for caring for. Boundaries are crucial to keeping the things in your yard [marriage, children, career, ministry, etc] thriving and alive. Lack of boundaries is often a sign of disobedience. You can't change others trying to get into your yard, or control your yard, but you can change how much exposure you have to those people.

  • It doesn't matter that you fail, it's how you deal with your failure. Repent quickly, and stop rehearsing what you did...He knows. Take the file out of the "failure" folder and put it in the "forgiven & learned from" folder.

Let me close with this. It's the only bible study I've probably completed since having 4 kids.

It was the perfect amount of homework and depth. There is a video series you can purchase to go along with it, but she also has a youtube channel where she does a daily video to correspond with each day.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Supernatural Dreams

I dream.

The problem has been... I don't usually pay much attention to my dreams. After all, it's just bad pizza right? 

Or is it?

The words: dream, dreams, dreamed, dreamer, dreamers, and dreameth are mentioned 123 times in the bible. Twenty-one of those are actual accounts of dreams God gave people in the bible...that He used for his purposes & glory.

Seems like more than bad pizza right?

I recently went to a Christian dream workshop that focused on educating me on how God might be using dreams in my life. I think the biggest take away I had was that I really needed to honor my dreams. I needed to make an effort to wake up, write them down, and ask God more about them.

When I read the bible, I don't just blow it off as some random document written for someone else, I believe He's giving me these living words right now for my right now situations. I chew on them, I write them out, I digest them, I ask Him questions about them... why not the same for dreams?

Clearly, they are biblical. Then, why are we so afraid of them? Why are we so afraid to pursue what was inside of them? Why are we afraid to talk about them in a serious way? Why have we let the secular community monopolize on something God created? Why do we brush them off? Why don't we ask God for more dreams?

I did. 

Immediately after the dream conference, I asked God to speak to me more specifically and often in my dreams and He did. And He's continued to. He spoke to me specifically about a person and when I checked in with them, what I dreamed, had happen to them. It was something I could never have known on my own. It was specific y'all. I believe God gave the dream to me because He wanted me to minister to that person and to wake me up to the fact that He still speaks through dreams!!!

I think God wants to use dreams in all of our lives, not just mine, to reveal His love & will to us.

Go ask Him.

When you wake up, write it down. Share with me too if you want!

Job 33:14-16

For God may speak in one way, or in another,
Yet man does not perceive it.
In a dream, in a vision of the night,
When deep sleep falls upon men,
While slumbering on their beds,
Then He opens the ears of men,
And seals their instruction.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 Resolutions

I have been writing my resolutions down publicly for a few years now. [See 2011, 2012, 2013 here] It's almost tempting to stop because it seems like so many are not accomplished, but then again I think some are frankly just because I wrote them down and it reminded me to go after them. Example... We attempted to try 13 new restaurants this year and we came pretty darn close mainly just because I had a goal I was trying to acheive. Others like lose 50 pounds fell short about... 100% ha ha. The first resolution may have greatly effected the second.

I was doing 11 for 2011, and 12 for 2012 and 13 for 2013, you get the picture, but for 2014 I decided to do it old school and go back to the wonderful number 10. So just 10 this year guys. Probably 7 to miss and 3 to hit dead on, but still--- attempting.

1. Lose 60 pounds
That's right. Pre-four-babies-weight. I did 4 months of three days a week personal training last year and didn't lose a pound even though I lost some inches. That was discouraging. I want to make another baby this year and shouldn't be trying that being so overweight and unhealthy if I want to continue low risk homebirths. So I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to do this, but in the past tracking my calories and exercising regularly does the majority of the trick. Going to bed earlier helps, Ha. I'm almost done nursing Heaven so that should help too. I'm assuming this will take me half if not most of the year to safely accomplish. But I'm open to miracles. And magic wands.

2. Go on 12 double dates with 12 different couples
I want to be intentional about going deeper with people this year. So, friends I already have as well as getting to know some new ones. I'm looking forward to making a point to say "hey, you two, let's grab some dinner and get to know each other." I love making new friends... and even getting to know old friends better. And I love food. Oh geez, this isn't helping resolution #1.

3. Once a month dates with each boy
Heaven and I already spend a lot of one on one time together, but it's hard to get one on one time with each boy for very long around here since they are always playing together. I started this last year and didn't do it often enough. I look forward to making a special date---of their choice---and just enjoying just them. Last year I was amazed at how much they talked my ear off---guess it's hard to get a word in with 3 other siblings everyday.

4. Get better at photography
This is one resolution I had last year that I actually accomplished. I did take a class and practice a lot. Took pictures of a few babies, children, and one family. Loved growing in this area and look forward to more growth.

5. Create and stick to a responsibility chart for the kids
This includes chores, brushing teeth, and vitamins. They kids do help me every day around the house, but I've never made and stuck with anything that they have come to expect and know as routine. Thus, I tend to get lots of grumblings when I "unexpectedly" ask them for help. I know this is all part of the training years and lots of character that is lacking, but I do think if they knew they were always responsible for XYZ on Monday, for example, they would grumble maybe a smidge less.

6. Read 6 Books
I usually have this on my list, and although tempted to put 12, I know realistically with ladies bible study at church homework and our small group how we love reading and homework I'll already be maxed out. I do love reading... I just haven't figured out quiet how to do as much of it with 4 kids as I did when I was single, ha. I want to read Daring Greatly, How We Love Our Kids, and Love Does, not sure about the other ones just yet.

7. Disciple one friend & Lead one family member to the Lord
I these people in mind. But I will take dozens and hundreds more of friends, family and strangers for the Kingdom if you will it Lord!

8. Get my prayer life organized
I've never successfully being organized with my prayer life since having kids, but I really want to again. Although spirit led and "drive-by" prayers work. I know things fall through the cracks. I'm thinking about resurrecting the good old prayer binder with the divider tabs for different sections of my life that need attention. This is a long shot, but I hope it happens!

9. Lead our small group well
This past year, leading a small group has been one of the greatest blessings. I have so enjoyed doing this with my husband and getting to know practically 8 other couples from scratch. My desire this year is to pray for one couple every day of the week, and be intentional about setting up double dates, and playdates, and guys & girls nights, etc. Just really forming a deeper community to listen and serve one another.

10. Write weekly
I say this the last few years too, but with homeschooling and adding a child, and leading a small group, etc etc. Life never seems to slow down. I enjoy writing and I think most of the time, others enjoy my writing too. I love when God uses me to encourage someone through my real life mom fail day stories. I love anytime I can make someone laugh too. I haven't started teaching Nation grammar yet, but maybe eventually my writing won't be so painful to the comma police either. Either way, I want to try to make time for me to sit and write what's on my heart to share with others. In the form of blogging I suppose...

Monday, December 30, 2013

A Merry End To 2013

My kids will probably wear these pajamas every week this upcoming year. For whatever reason, of all the pajamas they own, or should I say "jah-ma-zz" we own, the kids prefer Christmas ones most often. I don't know if it's the stripes, the red & green, or just how tight they are, but the kids love them. One child in particular is none to strip as soon as we get home from being in public and immediately put on some Christmas "jah-ma-zz". I won't name any names, but... Solomon.

December was full of all the usual [but still amazing] parties and holiday traditions. Minus the flu. We don't usually make a habit of doing that in December, but we did this year. Bahumbug!

Just a simple Christmas at home. No traveling, no company... it was nice in some ways and too quiet and lonely in others. I hope next year is a full house with lots of people.

Nevertheless, Thank you Jesus for being born. Happy Birthday.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

That Day You Dread Every Year... Family Picture Day

The year is almost over. Above is our family Christmas card picture. I'm thankful that is over too. Most stressful day of the year for me I think. Everyone has to be clean, dressed, match and in a good mood. Oh and we have to be on time. [We weren't] It's a hard day, but I'm glad I do it every year because it's so fun to see how much we have changed. 

There's always one kid who won't cooperate and this day it was Moses. He just kept giving this little smirk like "what? I'm not smiling". Nation was a good sport and Solomon's real smile lasted maybe after the first click. "Are we done yet?" Heaven didn't want to sit still much or smile at the camera, but she was pretty enough to get away with it all. I had to bribe them with a new toy AND ice cream.

I love my little tribe. 

We used a new photographer and she was great with our kiddos. All in all it's never as bad as I prepare myself for. I even bought a fart machine this time in hope it would make kids laugh, but for some reason even that couldn't crack Moses' smile, ha ha.

Thankful for another year with my wonderful [truly he is] husband, and 4 little ones. We never look this put together the other 364 days a year, so for once, it's nice. Mark your calendars people, our whole family showered that day.

Until next year.

Monday, October 28, 2013

God Teaches Me Math

i feel defeated
i feel a bit hopeless about the after-baby-from-three-other-kids-too-weight
i miss writing
i feel like i don't have anything to say
i like taking pictures, but nothing else that has to do with processing or sharing them
i'm thankful for friends who encourage me
i wish i wasn't addicted to sugar and processed carbs
i feel ashamed
i've been working really hard to train my child in the way they should go but some days make me question if it's all been worth the effort
i couldn't have properly IG today's events without scaring some people from having children
i'm thankful my husband has grown leaps and bounds in listening, validating and comforting me
i need to spend more one on one "fun" time with each kid
i needed that picture today Nation drew of him and I where he wrote "mom is good at teaching me"
i think i drank four cups of tea today to try to keep from comfort eating
i need my heart to be comforted so i don't over eat so much
i love that God speaks to me
i'm scared if He has big things in store for us, I prefer the small and manageable
i've really been enjoying American History
i don't like to write because i don't like negative comments
If it's's me. If it's's me. If it's's me. I'm trying to do so many things in my own effort. I feel like I'm short cutting it by doing it alone and not wasting time waiting years before a silent God...all the while my Daddy is sitting next to me waiting to show me the real short cut.
I see this all the time when I teach new math to my children and they brush away my hand and tell me to shush because they already know how to do it which results in crying, a blank answer, and me repeating, "Are you sure you don't want my help with this?"
I think that's what God is saying to me today regarding my health & rearing my kids...
"Are you sure you don't want my help with this?"

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Current Homeschool Schedule

This year I am homeschooling Nation, 7 years old [2nd grade] and Solomon, 5 years old [Kindergarten]. Our schedule usually looks like this:
Monday: 1-2 hours of school before noon then 3 solid uninterrupted hours while Heaven naps from 12-3
Tuesday: My sitter comes from 10-3 and watches the younger two while I school, and helps around the house [like laundry]
Wednesday: 1-2 hours of school before noon then 3 solid uninterrupted hours while Heaven naps from 12-3
Thursday: It's CC "school" day. Class is from 9-12, lunch/recess lasts till 1:30, we sometimes do a little school that afternoon [my sitter stays at home with my younger two]
Friday: Get a few hours of school in before my sitter helps from 2-7 watching little kids while I finish up any school left for the week, and helps me clean before small group
My sitter helps us about 15 hours a week, plus a date night, so if you ever wonder "how I do it", she's the Ace up my sleeve. She loves my kids and they love her. She's been working for us for over two years regularly and knows where my socks go, what I buy from the grocery store, and where everything in my house belongs. I am blessed. I have done it without her, and I could do it again if we had to, but for the time being, it's nice. I can focus on schooling for a few hours a week uninterrupted while my little ones are being paid attention to by someone loving.
We don't mind the cost because it's our version of a "mother's morning out" or "preschool" for little ones. Anyone can cook, clean, and do laundry, but, for our family, we feel I'm the one called to teach my kids. I'm so thankful she steps in and helps me during this season of lots of little ones so I don't burn out or get tired of not having clean undies. I know many moms do not have this luxury, and it is, a luxury, so hats off to you, I definitely don't "do it all" alone.
Our children usually wake up between 7:30-8:30 AM and go to bed between 8-9 PM. For the time being, I take the morning to: workout [this happens rarely, but hopefully more often], get dressed [just me, kids are known to be half dressed], nurse the baby, change the baby, make a hot breakfast [my boys need protein or you can forget school focus], take care of the other 17 things that usually arise [spills, butt wiping, a txt, cleaning up what the toddler got into, discipling, an email, discussing heart issues, you name it].
If we start school around 10 or 11, it's a good day. We have lunch at around 1, then back to school work. Solomon usually is done before Nation because he's younger so his work load is a lot less. The boys currently do Bible, History, Art, Language Arts, Science, and Read-Alouds together. They do separate Reading & Math. The state requires 4 hours of school a day, we easily do this with our curriculum as well as reviewing for Classical Conversations [CC]. I do expect a lot less out of my current Kindergartener than I did the first time I taught Kindergarten. First of all, he knows more just from listening to older brother be homeschooled. Second, I realized [like most first time homeschoolers] I over did it, and required too much from him. It's Kindergarten! So I try to cover the basics, and make it fun. It's an introduction to how amazing learning can be, not a time to create divisions in your relationship or show off to your friends how psycho you are with your 5 year old. 
Moses, my 3 year old, will have spent some of that morning time hanging out with me, and then during our school time if he can't sit quietly in the room with us, he might: go play in the backyard, play wii, play the iPad, watch tv, play in the playrooms. Anywhere he is I can either see him from the school room, or see him on a camera. Occasionally he does get into trouble, do I even have to say that? He doesn't seem to mind the independant time at all though. He rarely naps, if he does, he has trouble being tired at bedtime. In general my rule of thumb with him is, if he's behaving and happy I let him be, if he's grumpy and getting into trouble he has to having resting time in his bed at 3 for 1-2 hours even if he doesn't sleep. He's smart, he's figured this out and in general behaves to avoid this.
Heaven is almost 1 years old. She is very mobile so this creates the biggest homeschool challenge because if she's not getting into a cabinet, or eating something dangerous, or sticking her finger in an outlet, or climbing up the stairs, she's distracting her brothers from school with her cuteness. So for now, she plays at our feet, or walks around in the walker where I can see her, or sits in the high chair and has a snack. Someone suggested bringing in the pack n play which I might have to do soon. She's very good and isn't fussy, but her brothers do love her so much they can't seem to keep their eyes off her. Still, in that 1-2 hours I am able to get some things accomplished with her.
Daddy usually is off work between 5 and 6 and we spend the next 2-4 hours playing with him, eating dinner, attending activities and picking up before bed. Charles loves to do school with the kids too so a few times a week he will sit down with all of them, or one of them, and teach them.
Something new I am trying is to not let the older two have any rewards until their responsibilities [chores & school] are done. Rewards include: TV, wii, iPad, playing, or going outside. I'm still ironing this out as they are use to "morning cartoons" and maybe some TV around lunch or play breaks. I am currently testing some different scenarios. Seems like the little media and outside breaks were making it hard for them to want to let go and come back to school, even if only for a few minutes, so I'm trying to decide how to give them mental breaks without letting them do something so wonderful and distracting they have terrible attitudes about returning to their school work. But sometimes you just gotta go outside because the weather is so nice! Or let them watch TV in the morning because you were up with a teething baby!
Charles and I usually spend 9-11 together, usually talking. We are both night owls, but we also are both trying to get in the habit of working out in the morning so we are trying to go to bed earlier more often. During this time, I wish I wrote more blog posts, or read, but usually I find something to clean, or something to do online. I suppose theirs also hours of unrecorded comforting, listening, organizing, loving, preparing, scrubbing, and child training involved. That's a brief overview of our schedule. Of course, things do come up, and it's not uncommon for me to squeeze two days worth of work into one so that we can go on a field trip or have a playdate. I highly value both of those. We are flexible, but I always make sure we accomplish all of our work for the week. Not only do my children deserve that, but it's the law, and thus it's honoring to God.

What's your schedule like?


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