But Mommy Can I Have One More Chance . . . Please?!?

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My kids cannot tolerate much sugar. These past few weeks I’ve been noticing the effects of sugar on their behavior and as I have made a connection between them acting in extreme disobedience and their eyes glossing over when I try to discipline them I realized I am battling a similar battle as one trying to reason with a drunk. It’s not their fault, it’s the sugar. They can’t control it and help themselves and who gave them the sugar in the first place? Well I did of course and now here I am pulling my hair in frustration over these uncontrollable wild and crazy kids! So my natural response is to cut out sugar. Only on very special occasions and in smaller quantities. Now here comes the test . . . daily I hear “mom can I please have a piece of candy after lunch? Can I please have juice for breakfast? Can I please have dessert, I ate all my dinner? Can we please have a special drink, we’ve been really good at the store?” And these pleadings come from 4 different directions and they all gang up on me! Well, after all they did eat all their food. . . They have been doing good at the store . . . Okay you can have some sugar. Then all of that goodness and any clout I thought I had to my consequence goes flying through the roof and we’re back in that state of uncontrollable sugar high. Why can’t I just say no and stick with it?!? Why do they have to gang up on me and beg and use reasonable arguments to plead their case?!?!

I was reading this morning in Deuteronomy 3 and God blessed me with a little golden nugget of encouragement. In this chapter Moses and the Israelites are fighting their way to conquer Canaan and claim the Promised Land as their own. Moses was not able to enter the Promised Land because of an act of disobedience in Numbers 20. Moses is here asking the Lord to change His mind and give him a second chance to enter the Promised Land. After all it was Moses right? He did lead these people out of Egypt and spoke face to face with God and spent 40 years in near perfect obedience among a group of complaining idolators without ever faltering and just giving in to the majority rules. He really did deserve another chance right? 

Moses begins his pleading by trying to butter up God: “Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what God is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ ” I would equate that to my kiddos saying, 

“Oh wonderful mother, this dinner you cooked was so delicious. Thank you for all of your hard work, what mother is like you? You are so wonderful . . . now we beg you, could we please have some dessert, some delicious, mouth watering dessert that you baked so lovingly?” 

Um . . . Ok. My response: “Ok, just this time because you guys are doing so good. Now remember to show me you can handle your sugar.” And we all know where that leads. Now here’s God’s response to Moses’ pleading: “But the Lord was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the Lord spoke to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter.’ ” Wow. God you are so good. You are perfectly wise knowing when to extend grace and when to not falter on your word. There’s no changing God’s mind here. I also appreciate that Moses just took God at his word here instead of pressing the issue. This is my encouragement to stand up to the battle against sugar : ) My word is final. Do not beg and plead with me or butter me up. I can think of so many other areas of disobedience in my kiddos I need to extend this knowledge to.

Book Review: Ruth & Billy Graham

Book Review: Ruth & Billy Graham – The Legacy of a Couple

by, Hanspeter Nuesch

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I stumbled upon this book at Mardel’s in the clearance section. I have never read anything by or about Billy Graham but one thing I’ve been wanting to read more of is biographies and I thought this was a great place to start. I am so thankful I picked up this book. It was really good! Nuesch did a very thorough job of writing this biography and has wonderful pictures and stories and I love how he layed out the topics of the different chapters. If you want to read anything about Billy Graham I definitely recommend this book. I also am excited to utilize his reference index as there are a lot of books listed there that I want to read now!

“Nowhere are we able to express our deepest feelings better than in our prayers. That’s why there is no better recipe for a good marriage than to pray together frequently, because in this way you sense your spouse’s heart. That is what unites you as nothing else can.” p. 73 Ruth Graham

“Graham emphasized the fact that God does not say in his Word that we should ask for humility but rather that we should actively humble ourselves, and then God will grant us grace.” p. 81

“… all of their problems stem from one basic problem, which is the sin of human nature. The problems of the world are not economic or political; they are spiritual. We continue to wrestle with the problems of human iniquity and human failure. Nations have reached agreements only to have them broken time after time. Why? Because they were building their hopes and agreements on the cracked and sinking foundation of human nature… The only cure for sin lies at the foot of that cross.” p. 218-219 Billy Graham

“The ultimate possibility of lifting human nature to the place where it will love instead of hate and will practice honesty instead of deceit and will keep its agreements with integrity is found only at the foot of this cross. The reason we do not have peace in the world is that we do not have peace in our souls. There can be no peace in the hearts of men without reconciliation to God. … We can never build a better world until we have better men and the only way men can be made better is by the transforming and regenerating power of Christ.” p. 219 Billy Graham

“… the efforts toward peace and justice, however important they are, should never replace the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” p. 233

“He should focus more on what a person can become by God’s grace and the enabling of the Holy Spirit than on his or her present condition.” p. 252

“We must learn to listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit in order to assist him in his plans and not misuse him simply to fulfill our own plans.” p. 259

“Growth normally takes place slowly, nurtured by God’s Father-love. Our heavenly Father does not love us because we help to fulfill the Great Commission; he loves us for ourselves, even when we fail him again and again. If we lose sight of this fact, life and ministry become a joyless and fruitless struggle.” p. 315

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.” p. 316 Ruth Graham

“We look at death from the wrong point of view. We think of how much we are missing the one going home. We are not looking at it from God’s point of view: a child is coming home.” p. 323 Ruth Graham

“As personal pleasure and instant gratification have increasingly become the only purpose left in life, the main question has become, ‘What will I get out of it?’ and no longer, ‘What is right before God and man?'” p. 342

“The inflation of mere words has devalued them. People no longer believe our words and constantly question whether we are trustworthy… an individual’s subjective judgment of the sincerity and trustworthiness of the speaker ends up being the sole determining factor as to whether they listen at all.” p. 342

“We might still regard Jesus as our Savior but not as our master.” p. 346

“Christians need to develop the ability to see things and people not primarily as they are now but as what they can become by God’s transformational work.” p. 349

Book Review: The Women of Christmas

Book Review: The Women of Christmas

by, Liz Curtis Higgs

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I was looking for a book to read this Christmas season that would help me see a different point of view of the birth of Christ. I also wanted a bible study about Christmas to learn some more about the history of the time but I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for in that respect and not to mention having a newborn I wasn’t sure how into a bible study I could be. This book met more of the first aspect I was looking for and I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve never read a book by Liz Curtis Higgs. Her writing is very easy to read and follow with so this was a pretty quick read. Nothing too deep but some different perspectives and things to ponder this past Christmas season.

“Though it’s tempting to praise people for their goodness, it’s better to praise the One who made them.” p.7

“What made Mary worthy of her calling was not her virtue; it was God’s virtue. That’s why her story gives every woman a generous measure of hope. God takes us as we are and uses us as he will, for our good and for his glory.” p. 46

“Clearly it’s okay – more than okay – to ask God how he will accomplish something. Even if his answer is ‘Trust me,’ we can be sure he hears us.” p. 51

Talking about Mary: “As a devout young woman, she surely knew the prophecy of Isaiah… Did she begin to tremble all over, realizing Isaiah was talking about her?” p. 56

“To say yes and not be afraid of what others may say about our dependence upon God, about our abundance of joy. If people talk, so what? People always do.” p. 72

“… the first person to hold the newborn Christ was Mary of Nazareth, and the first person to touch the newly risen Christ, however briefly, was Mary of Magdala. God placed himself in a woman’s care when he came to earth, then entrusted a woman to announce his resurrection when he came back to life.” p. 122

Beyond Little Hearts and FIAR 2016-2017 School Year

Every year when I plan for the upcoming homeschool year I get a little more excited. I think as my children grow older and we get more into some of the meat of homeschooling and away from the colors and shapes I find more excitement in their progress and in myself dappling in different subjects with them. I am putting together this post to help myself make sure I’ve got all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed before we make 3 road trips and are gone for all of August and start school within days of returning so I’ve got to get everything ready before those trips. Here is the rundown of ages for this year:

Now this is my first year where I really feel like I am homeschooling multiple ages. I know a lot of moms don’t do any “official” school with their 3 and 4 year olds but I have persistent children who want to be at the table with their older siblings and want to have their own “workbooks” and also want to have a little bit of mommy time to teach them. I want them to be included and not get the continual “just go find something quietly to do” phrase. A few years back I extensively planned out our first ABC themed preschool curriculum using free online resources and since all the planning is done I’ve just signed that up for Lydia this year.

I also want to mention that I would have done Little Hearts for His Glory for Joshua this year as that is the age range he falls under (5) but he sat through the last 2 years of the manual alongside Amelia. While a lot of the reading and workbooks he did not do I wanted to give him a year break from it and do FIAR this year and next year when he is 6 we will re-do the manual so he can grasp better the history/science ideas and follow along with the workbooks.

I saw this great schedule idea on Pinterest and copied it to our schoolroom wall and will also share a few of the other schedules I have printed out to try to keep everyone straight (well, me straight and the kids with the least amount of distractions as we all know what a child’s attention span holds!).

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Here is the Pinterest calendar idea… a good way to teach time! (I would link to it from Pinterest but it is just a photo link)

I have decided this year to print out all my planning sheets and schedules and have them spiral bound. This is a big step for me as our life is always in transition and I’ve been nervous about doing this since it seems so permanent but when I was using my clipboard all my papers kept flying all over the place and I’d try to keep a few weeks at a time and file the rest but sometimes would want to look at the future and I just decided to try this and see how I like it! The first page is an Excel schedule… this was based off many lovely homeschool blogs and how they schedule out for multiple kiddos.

This is just more of a summary schedule… these I made more just to help my brain really grasp what I was trying to accomplish in the color coded time blocks of the Excel sheet.

My 4 months at a time calendar to map out our actual school days and time off for holidays/baby, etc.

This is a checklist for me and Joshua with FIAR. This helps me add in the additional curriculum he will be doing and also describes in detail what we will do during his block time of the Excel schedule.

This is the detailed FIAR planning sheet to go with each book. This way I know each day of the week which activity we will be doing and what supplies/books I need to gather.

And here is the BLHFHG planning sheet. I used this sheet I created on Word last year and it was awesome! It takes the boxes in the manual and turns them into a checklist for my list personality and then there’s room for her other extracurricular activities as well as notes on what craft supplies I need for that week.

For Amelia and Joshua’s supplementals we are doing the Logic of English for our phonics program and I am going to incorporate Play and Learn Spanish as well as some possible online Spanish programs like Salsa through the Georgia Public Broadcast system (we do not live in Georgia, it is for anyone) as well as Little Pim Spanish where our library carries all the DVDs for the program. We are also going to work through some Piano Adventures lessons.

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Here is a new Ikea bookshelf I scored at a garage sale with brand new bins for $20 and a globe we got at our church rummage sale : )

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I made this bible verse display to put the weekly verses so we can always be looking at them.

 

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I also scored these mailbox holders at Bed Bath & Beyond on sale for $6 each! And the wicker bins at a garage sale for free! I plan to put the kiddos loose papers in the mailboxes at the end of the day to file at the end of the week and the wicker boxes hold all the BLHFHG books in one, Logic of Enlgish (LOE) books in another and FIAR in another

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Here is my trusty file box from Wal-Mart I’ve used for a few years now… I have big dividers into months and then color coded loose papers for each kiddos lessons for that month (Units 1-3, 3 FIAR books, 3 ABC letter sheets, etc.)

Well I think that about sums it up. I absolutely cannot wait to start! We won’t start until the first week of September due to our travels but once we do we’ll be head hard into it!

Blessings on everyone’s 2016-2017 school year!

The Battle is Not Yours, but God’s

“Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord…
Then Jehoshaphat stood… and said,
‘O Lord God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven,
and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations,
and in Your hand is there not power and might,
so that no one is able to withstand You?…
Here they are, rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession
which You have given us to inherit…
For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against  us;
nor do we know what to do,
but our eyes are upon You…’
Now all Judah… stood before the Lord.
Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel… and he said…
‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude,
for the battle is not yours, but God’s…
You will not need to fight in this battle.
Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,
who is with you…
Do not fear or be dismayed;
tomorrow go out against them,
for the Lord is with you…’
Jehoshaphat stood and said… ‘Believe in the Lord your God,
and you shall be established;
believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.’ ”
2 Chronicles 20, selected verses

The Lord showed me some amazing things through this passage in regards to a battle I am in the middle of. The context behind this verse is King Jeoshaphat was coming up on a battle against the Moabites and Ammonites. There was a great multitude and he was afraid. The battle seemed too big for him and his nation and he did not know what to do. So he feared the Lord and remembered the amazing things God had done in the past and confessed his position of helplessness… and then he waited. Not only did he wait but all of Judah waited and stood before the Lord. And guess what… the Spirit of the Lord came. They waited and God showed up. And God gently reminded them that the battle is not theirs but His. He will fight for them. But they must believe Him. God didn’t ask them to stay inside and just hope for the best. God told them to position themselves so they may see the salvation of the Lord. They still had to go out against the army, but God would show up. And God did show up. In fact He ambushed the armies… no one had escaped.

He will fight for me. This was one of those still small voices moments for me about 2 years ago. God whispered this in my heart and brought the rest to my weary soul that Scripture talks about. In those 2 years I have often tried to take control of the battle myself and in doing so have experienced the weariness, stress, anguish and anger. These emotions come when the battle is clearly too big for me and I don’t know what to do. Instead of fearing the Lord I just keep trying different tactical methods all the while excluding God and just trying to get by on my own. God used this passage in 2 Chronicles 20 to remind me that the battle is not mine, it is God’s. He will fight for me. I just need to recall all the things He has already done and then believe on Him to show up and bring salvation.

Are you in a situation where you feel like you need to muster up all you have and fight for something… maybe to stay home with your kiddos, to earn more money at your job, to convince a loved one to believe your position about something, to instill obedience into your children? Have you been weary trying all you have to get these things to go your way? Are these battles too big for you? Let me encourage you… that battle… it is not your’s, it is God’s. He will fight for you… but you need to let Him. I don’t need to scream and yell and claw tooth and nail to try to get my voice heard and opinions changed and to try to advocate for myself… God will do that for me. I can do my part in sharing my voice and sit back and let God fight for that voice to go where it needs to and to affect what it needs to affect. I just need to stand before Him and believe Him and wait. All the while I will be resting, knowing it’s in His hands.

” ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude,

for the battle is not yours, but God’s.’ ” v.15

 

“What do you want Me to do for you?” – Jesus

“As He (Jesus) went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.’ And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’ The blind man said to Him, ‘Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.”

Mark 10:46-52

I went to church this week and found myself to enjoy our main service but God used my time volunteering in children’s ministry to really speak to me. Faith like a child, right? Sometimes it’s the simple messages that speak profoundly to us. This is what the children’s ministry message was about… blind Bartimaeus. Now while they focused on Jesus having power over sickness God spoke some great things to me.

I often feel like Bartimaeus. Not physically blind but spiritually blind. When God brings me a revelation about my sin or my relationship with Him and He opens my eyes I am in shock and amazed at how blind I was before. Bartimaeus knew he was blind. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t know how spiritually blind I am. Sometimes my sin is so extensive and complicated and overwhelming that I don’t know what to pray for and I’m left feeling somewhat blind to it. So I begin calling out to God to give me wisdom to see things clearly, to give me strength to persevere in victory over my sin and just like the multitudes told Bartimaeus to be quiet, the devil and my flesh and the world all tell me the same. Shhhhh. Don’t ask Jesus for something like this. He’s got bigger problems on His plate. You should be able to handle your sin on your own, after all you probably were the one who got yourself into this mess in the first place. And often those messages get the best of me and I begin to silence myself. God doesn’t want to hear me come again and again to Him with the same thing.

But Jesus stood still and called Bartimaeus to come to Him. Jesus had somewhere to go. He had people following Him who were now forced to stop and wait before they could move on. But nonetheless Jesus stood still. He stopped at the voice of Bartimaeus. Why did He call Bartimaeus to Him? Why didn’t Jesus just go to Him? Jesus may call us but if we don’t stand up and walk away from our old stuff and walk towards Him then we can’t receive what He has for us. Come to me Bartimaeus. Come all you who are weary. Come. Come. Jesus is there with an endless supply of whatever we need whenever we need it… but we have to come. This is where the victory or defeat comes. I have experienced both. I have chosen to stay put. Jesus I want you to come to me. I don’t want to take any steps and get up and do anything. Can’t you just change things from where you are and then I’ll get up and come to you? I want to be more like Bartimaeus when I am calling out to God and He answers and asks me to come to Him… “throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus.” He did not want to sit back and miss his one amazing opportunity to interact with Jesus. Bartimaeus knew Jesus had the power to heal Him. He had heard about Jesus and was thrilled that Jesus was walking right past him. This was it. The moment he had hoped and dreamed about for who knows how long. There’s no way he would just sit back and let Jesus pass. He threw aside what he was carrying and came to Jesus when he called.

“What do you want Me to do for you?” Hmmm. I’m pretty sure Jesus already knew. Why did He ask? I’m sure there are many reasons and one sticks out to me for how it relates to my walk and experiences. Humility. It’s along the lines of when we ask someone to forgive us. Forgive us for what? We need to tell them what we did wrong and ask them to forgive us. Not just “I messed up will you forgive me”. When we are specific it gives power and victory over those words. It lets us and those around us and Jesus know that we know what we are asking and what our expectations are. “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” He could’ve asked for more money when he begs. He could’ve asked for a comfortable covered home. But he knew Jesus was bigger than that. Heal my blindness! Bartimaeus had never seen the light of day. How audacious of him to ask that of Jesus. But he did and he should have and I’m glad he did.

“‘Your faith has made you well.’ And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” Can you imagine how Bartimaeus must have felt?!? Seeing for the first time and now a part of the multitude that had shushed him up on the side of the road. Walking in step with Jesus not even knowing where He was going and what they were going to see. Have you ever had your eyes opened from spiritual blindness? There is a power, a freedom, an excitement. I can see! I get it!

I am praying from this message that God will help me to earnestly call out to Him for my blindness and that I will shush up the world, the flesh and the devil when they tell me to be quiet and stop calling out to God. I am praying that the second Jesus calls for me to come to Him that I will throw aside what I am clinging on to and come to Him. I am praying that I will ask Jesus specifically what I want Him to do for me (according to His will) and that when He does it that I will receive it and follow Him.

It Is a Privilege to be a Nurse

This week I went back to work. Going back to work seems like the right and only thing to do to supplement our income and fill a financial gap that needs to be filled. I will only be working one night shift each week which is very manageable. I was very hesitant about going back to work because I didn’t want another thing on my plate and since my job is not a mindless job I knew it would be quite taxing even if only one night a week. But I am trusting the Lord to provide for me what I need by means of energy, strength, patience, trust and even knowledge for my profession and for running my home and homeschooling.

I have had numerous thoughts back at work this week. Let me just begin by saying I am a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s. I spent 5 long and very hard years at a great University getting my degree and I worked very hard for 4 years with my degree before I entered the arena of a stay at home mom and a homeschool teacher and have since been back and forth with working a little here and there for financial reasons. I absolutely love nursing because of this. When I go back to work it’s not Mon-Fri 9-5 and there goes our life. There are so many different areas of nursing and different schedules and different shift requirements. How many professions will allow you to work one night a week? When I am not working I struggle with my desire to be a nurse. I believe God brought that to my life and has gifted me in certain areas to be a good nurse and has maintained a desire in me to be a nurse. But it seems in the stay at home/homeschool world that it can be very frowned upon to work outside of the home. I have found opinions all across the spectrum but it seems more often than not there is a “oh I’m sorry” type of response if a mom talks about their work outside of the home. Because of this I felt a lot of guilt when I would even think about working and working because I wanted to instead of because I needed to. I don’t want to work to get a “break” from my kids or “do something for myself finally”. Although at this point in our lives I don’t get to go out and do much on my own as my children are with me all day every day every where I go (which is not a bad thing but it is true that for sanity purposes a mom does need a good coffee date with a friend once in a while or a date night with the husband or just a quick solo grocery trip).

I actually love being a nurse. I worked very hard to have the privilege to walk through the hospital with a stethescope around my neck and a badge clipped to my scrubs and to enter into the very personal lives of my patients and be there for them in ways more than medicine can define. And it is a privilege. It is not a right I received because I hold a degree… it is a privilege. This is my third time starting a new job in a new hospital with all the ooohs and aaahs of a new place and this is my second time going back to work after a period of being home full time and one thing never leaves me… this feeling as I walk through the hospital floors and enter various departments and pull medications out for my patients and touch very important medical equipment and devices that are saving the lives of these beautiful souls God created (some in the moment may not seem so beautiful but they are nonetheless God’s creation!) and it always hits me what a privilege it is! How thankful I am! Not just anyone off the street can walk through these halls and touch these things and know what’s happening. It is an honor and a privilege. I love being a nurse. I love being granted this privilege. I get butterflies in my stomach when I hear medical talk or get to assess a patient and get to see some amazing life changing medical procedures… even something as simple as an IV line.

I am so blessed and so thankful for what God has provided for me. I am so thankful that my parents instilled in me the importance of a good education and what a blessing that God used them to financially provide for me to attend a great University to get a really good education in this field. What a blessing that God showed me early in my life (and actually before I knew Him personally) that I wanted to be a nurse so I could enter straight into it before marriage and before kids and focus solely on it. I am so thankful I took that route that God provided for me so I wouldn’t have to balance family, work and school in my later years.

I am truly blessed and thankful and it is a great privilege to be a nurse.

The Discomfort of Grace

I don’t like to be uncomfortable.

Most of us don’t.

We try to correct situations where we feel discomfort. Pillow top mattress, a jacket in the winter, tylenol for a headache, a bigger house, a new car.

Grace makes me uncomfortable.

I try to correct that feeling. Working to earn it or refusing to accept it and rather opting for self inflicted punishment of shame and guilt. Because that’s what I know and sometimes what we know may feel comfortable just because we’re used to it. New things take time to get used to, no matter how good they may be.

Why not embrace the discomfort of grace? After all embracing the discomfort makes us all the more aware and grateful for the remedy. Once you choose to embrace the discomfort of trying something new, with time and devotion and trust that new thing will become a part of you. It will become your normal and while you may have hesitated at first because it felt awkward and you didn’t think it fit you or looked good on you, it will eventually become you and characterize you.

Think of becoming a mom or a wife. Or even a nurse or a college student. Or a licensed driver or an employee at a business. At first you may excitedly but hesitantly proclaim your new title. For me I struggled with unbelief that this was actually me now. How blessed am I?!? I still feel so young and not even worthy for these titles and this happened so fast and what if I mess something up, etc., etc. I was initially a little uncomfortable with the new title. But once I embraced it fully it changed everything. It squandered all my doubts and gave me the confidence to boldly proclaim my new title. And not because I worked so hard to earn it but because God gave it to me, allowed it for me, blessed me with it.

I want that for grace in my life. I don’t want to be hesitant to accept it or give it. I want it to be me. My new comfort. My title. I want my initial discomfort of embracing grace to become comfort and be replaced with a discomfort when I am disgraceful. When I choose in moments to not receive or extend grace and suddenly find myself uncomfortable with that and needing to find a remedy… and that remedy being the comfort of grace.

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

The Prodigal Son – Luke 15

Stuck in a Rut

I am in a rut. Have you ever been there? I know this rut that I’m in is because I am choosing to be there and my choosing is walking in disobedience. Disobedience to some actions I know God is asking me to take, disobedience in my attitude I know God is asking me to change, disobedience in my view of Him and trusting Him and in His promises that I know He is asking me to believe. I am trying to do this thing on my own and it is just digging a deep deep rut.

This morning God showed me a foundation of this rut… my pursuit of Him.

Why do I pursue God? Well… I am pursuing Him (if you could even call it that) to get something for myself. I want the external blessings. I want to pursue Him and walk in obedience so that my marriage will get better, so my husband will start treating me better, so that my kids will be more obedient to me, so that God will provide finances so I won’t have to consider working again, so that a best friend will just pop up on my doorstep for me, so that we will find a church that is awesome and has everything we’re looking for, so that, so that, so that… How selfish is that? If my pursuit of God is dependent on my external circumstances changing and then they don’t… well, it doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that equation. I will stop pursuing God. It just simply doesn’t seem worth it. If my life isn’t “feeling” and “looking” any better then what’s the point. After all it is a lot of work to pursue God. To try to mentally remember all the things He’s teaching me and all the areas I’m falling short and then the lists of what I need to do to fix those areas and make them right. And in the midst of that I’m breaking up sibling rivalry, and failing in teaching my daughter to read, and my husband and I just had another fight, and another woman I thought could become a good friend doesn’t have any time for me, and I burned dinner. What’s the point to all of this? Maybe I can do this thing better on my own instead of trying so hard to get things to change by God’s path and it not working.

Failure was never His plan.

Frustration was never His plan.

Ruts were never His plan.

Perfect external circumstances were never His plan.

Easiness was never His plan.

Okay. So God what is your plan? What is the point in all of this? What do I do and where do I go from here?

“One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.”

Psalm 27:4

“O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water.
So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,
                                                                       To see Your power and Your glory.                                                                        Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips shall praise You.
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,
I meditate on You in the night watches.
Because You have been my help,
Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.
My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.”

Psalm 63:1-8

So what is the point in all of this? Jesus. It has always been Jesus. Jesus never promised an easy life. He promised hardships and exertion and persecution. While I would not say I am being persecuted in the name of Jesus I would say my life does not meet up to the world’s perfect standards or my standards for that matter. So I need to stop pursuing that and instead pursue Jesus, simply for Jesus.

I want my soul to long for Jesus. I don’t want to long for a perfect homeschool day, for a full time gig at home, for a husband who always acts and responds perfectly. Because we live in a sinful fallen world. I will face disappointments EVERY SINGLE DAY. If I long for that then I will constantly be dissatisfied and discontent. But if I long for Jesus. In the morning when I rise if I ask for Jesus, He will show up EVERY SINGLE DAY and Jesus does not disappoint.

Then when I am faced with my little petty trials every day I can turn to Him to receive what He has to give me… strength in the moment to press forward when I want to give up (Phil 4:13, Romans 5:3-5, Isaiah 40:31), contentment when I am wishing for bigger and better or more (2 Peter 1:3-4), patience when the kiddos are pressing every last minute and the lock button on my bathroom door seems to be broken (Phil 4:13), a satisfied belly and a thankful heart when making yet another PB & J sandwich to save a little money (Matt 6:25-34).

Car Organization with Multiple Kids

I have been putting together a system for our car to keep me organized. We often will randomly decide to go to the zoo or to the park or somewhere that’s over an hour away from our home and I used to get really panicky and anxious that I would forget some important things (which I usually did) and I didn’t want to overstuff my diaper bag or pack a million other bags to take with us. I have had this dilemma multiple times and finally decided to look at an overlooked area with potential organization excitement… the car! We drive a Suburban and there are multiple little nooks and crannies to be filled! Even though we have 4 kiddos and often take our 130 lb. Great Pyrenees on trips with us, it is amazing how much you can pack in!

So I am going to share with you some tips and maybe it will be helpful. These are things that stay in my car all the time. And the very important thing to organizational success in the car is to make sure when you get home that you take everything out that is extra that you brought in (water bottles, diaper bag, food wrappers, etc.) and if you made a dent in any of these organizational areas in your car (snack bag, swimsuits, etc.) that you replace them ASAP. That way you will be ready for ORGANIZED SPONTANEITY!!! Often when we get back from a long road trip I take an empty laundry basket and go from door to door and throw stuff in it. Then I take it inside and sort and clean up. It’s best to do it ASAP so things don’t start growing!!!

Here is my dashboard. The gadget to the top R on the air vent is a $5 Target Spot phone holder. It is great for GPS when needed. The other little doodad is my bluetooth connector. It’s a little bit of a pain to use it everyday for your phone but if I’m on a long road trip and want to talk to a friend for awhile then I’ll connect it. Otherwise I use it to listen to audiobooks or kids music that I might not have cd’s for. Check out this post on my favorite free audiobook website and how I can catch up on my Jane Austen novels while cleaning the house! I keep gum, hand sanitizer and lotion in the bottom compartment and try to keep the other ones empty for anything I might need it for later.

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This is the glove compartment. I got a pencil box holder and put a tire pressure gauge and one of those window hammer things if your car goes in the water and a small flashlight. I also have one of those small accordian fold folders that I put our registration and insurance as well as a vehicle maintenance log and my tire receipts for when I get our free tire rotations from Sam’s Club. I like it being in the box because then it’s not floating all over the compartment.

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I try to keep our cupholders empty and add my coffee and water as I go : ) in between the cupholders are some pens/pencils and a nail file : ) I keep one of these wipes containers because it seems I am either always needing a wipe or needing to hand one to someone. When we get to the zoo or somewhere I take it out and strap it to the handle of my stroller for easy wipes access!

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This isn’t very pretty but this is what’s inside the center console… At the back is an envelope with coupons and the front right is a small bag for garbage and I have a ziplock bag of suckers/hard candies to keep me awake if we’re driving for a long time and our blue zipper bag holds quarters and extra change for horse rides at the grocery store!!!!

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This is a viser organizer from thirtyone. I downsized my wallet to a Vera Bradley wristlet which means I don’t have room for all the cards I own so I keep the extra ones that aren’t for everyday in here (IKEA member, walgreens, kids library cards, etc.). In the large zipper pocket I keep an extra charger for my ipod/phone/pad and one for my Kindle with an extra wall plug that can be used for both cords. This is nice if we stay the night somewhere then I don’t have to pack extra cords and worry about forgetting them. I also keep a pen that has a nifty pen light at the top and my chapstick.

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Right behind my seat I keep extra disposable diapers for my 2 youngest as well as an extra changing pad. I have used this so much as I usually use cloth unless we go for a long day somewhere then I like disposables as I can go longer in between diaper changes. This way if I forgot to put some in my diaper bag and only have cloth then I can count on my car to provide! Underneath the seat houses all the straps and bungee cords that we use when we travel and need to strap things on our hitch hauler or bike rack or the roof. These have to stay in the car but are far less annoying when put in a bag and hidden under the seat. In the bright blue box houses socks for the kids, a light pair of gloves and snow hats for each kid (even though it’s summer let’s face it… it’s Colorado and we have on more than one occasion used them!) I also keep a light sweater for each kiddo here and a small blanket for Baby Jo. This box gets utilized a LOT!

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There’s an up close of the blue box and Baby Jo’s little toy box next to it which is handy when he gets a little fussy.

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Another view of our middle row.

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This is another nifty organizer from ThirtyOne. I keep an extra water bottle on each side pocket and the pocket to the right is for wipes and has a nifty compartment where the wipes can hang out. I usually put sanitizing wipes here instead of regular ones. In the big compartment I try to keep fairly empty and end up filling it on long road trips with random things but there’s always a bottle of honey roasted peanuts for some snacking if needed!

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And here’s just a view of our third row being utilized by our two oldest. We keep this one seat in the middle row folded down for easy access in and out of the car and then when Meema or Beepa or anyone visits and needs a seat it is really easy just to pop up.

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All 4 kiddos’ seats

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And now for the trunk : )

This is why we opted for a Suburban a few years ago… even with the third row up we still have all this flat trunk space! It’s great for our doggie!!

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The green bag on the L houses an extra swimsuit and baseball hat for all the kiddos for random splashpad adventures! The green bag on the R houses extra paper plates, plastic utensils, bug spray, sunscreen and a quick first aid kit with tweezers, bandaids and neosporin. These bags are nice since our headrests don’t pop off but the bags are big enough I can just slip them off and hook them onto my stroller so I don’t need to take all the items out and put somewhere. Or you could sew some cute ones if you want to be crafty! The black bag is our snack bag with granola bars, PB crackers, fruit snacks, goldfish packages, etc. We use this bag ALL THE TIME. We seriously end up with crazy days and lots of random roadtrips and you never want to be out with hungry kiddos and no options so this is a MUST!! (Keep in mind not to pack with meltable items in the summertime!). The big green box on the left houses my bigger first aid kit as well as 2 fleece blankets (handy if you end up driving at night and the kids want a blanket to go to sleep with), my cloth grocery bags and my zippable picnic blanket. The red box in the middle has extra windshield wipe fluid, a gallon of water for refilling purposes, my on the go stroller bag from thirtyone, our zoo/museum maps and extra grocery bags. And that funky black thing is our Power Station… this sucker has jumper cables and can put air into your tires and has a large flashlight attached to it… it’s supposed to be able to jump your car so you don’t have to wait for someone to rescue you! And I always keep my umbrella stroller in the car. We have a single jogging stroller and a double stroller which do not stay in my car but get added in depending on what we’re doing. And you can’t see but behind all those things is a large golf umbrella and our snow scraper/brush. These never leave my car no matter what season!

0145b31aba5e83105a9191630d8562a1bf96ffc335  And there it goes. Happy car organizing!

Oh I must say that some things will change for the winter… my swimsuit/hat bag will probably house some more snow items like waterproof gloves and maybe snowboots/pants. We will see!