May 10, 2016
1. You find random sports equipment in odd places around the house. A football has to be removed from your pillow at night. Shin guards are beside the toothpaste on the bathroom counter.
2. A majority of statements directed to you begin with the phrase, “Hey, Mommy, watch this.”
3. Understanding that buffets are meant to be conquered. “I’m getting our money’s worth” has been declared by your child.
4. Collections abound: Pokemon cards, football cards, rocks, small toys redeemed with tickets at arcades, etc.
5. Your children are bilingual. Native language and potty talk are fluently spoken..
6. You provide answers/explanations for things like: Why do we always have to take a bath? Are you making us clean up because someone’s coming over?
7. You know that socks do not like to be held captive by the hamper. They prefer to hang out on the floor, under couch cushions, or best of all, directly in front of the hamper.
8. Browsing the make-up aisle or fingernail polish section causes your people to whine, moan, and/or sit on the floor in protest.
9. The lesson has been learned: trying on clothes equals torture for both mother and child.
10. One of the best lines to your ears: “Mommy, when I grow up, I’m going to live with you forever.” (*Disclaimer: the child must be under 10 years of age for this statement to remain adorable. Anything over and a lesson on responsibility and maturity ensues.)
Need more evidence about your crew?
May 3, 2016
“Don’t let me forget to go to kindergarten tomorrow,” I exclaimed as I shot up from my reclined position on the couch.
The next day, I needed to take my youngest for his kindergarten assessment. Although I’m trying to deny it with my whole being, he’ll be headed to big school in the fall. Perhaps my denial allowed the appointment to temporarily slip my mind.
It’s not that we weren’t excited. We had covered some of the wonderful things that big school offered. We had used our fingers to count the remaining months. We had implored big brothers to convey the fun bus stories they had experienced.
It’s just that the preparation starkly differed from the regimented practice that went into the two older boys’ assessment day. I hadn’t sat Walker down asking him to repeat his address and phone number twenty times a day. We hadn’t studied shapes in workbooks or practiced writing his name a skillion times.
He was ready. He had been loved on, smiled at, and reassured a ton. (He did great, by the way.) Maybe he didn’t have his phone number or address down pat just yet. He will. We’re working on it. But you know what I’m trying not to do? Stress about it. Because he’ll go to kindergarten and most likely do awesome.
As a mama, it’s tough to sometimes live in the moment. It’s difficult to not get stressed over milestones and accomplishments. Quite frankly, it’s even tough to enjoy the everyday moments, especially when they often consist of mud and messes. It’s easy to long for the next stage.
Hoping they’ll sleep through the night.
Moaning through another pack of diapers.
Trudging to get a cup of water at bedtime.
Praying they’ll start using a napkin and not their sleeve.
Wishing for calm and quiet and neat.
Trying to skip over the tough phase to make it to an “easier” one.
We’ll get there. To the next stage that is. Certainly we’ll arrive sooner than we had once hoped. We’ll look back and wish we had listened more to the little old ladies who told us it’d go by in a flash.
But in the meantime, I’m making a valiant effort to do more snuggling than studying. I’m trying to read more to him than recite. I’m longing to count more memories than numbers right now. Because what I’m learning is that he’ll get it. And I’ll help him. But time (that thing that my oldest could tell you all about at age five) passes so quickly.
After a big test, donuts are appropriate!
Yes, the beds need to be made and the underwear washed, but somehow, we’ve gotta slow down and savor some moments. Stay in the now. Stop looking back and begrudging the past or daydreaming about the future.
Appreciate the toothless grins instead of stressing over the braces to come.
Find contentment in the house we’re living in, not the one we’re dreaming of.
Be generous with the stretched budget rather than giving when we’re comfy.
Jump in the pool with our muffin tops because waiting until they're gone leaves us sidelined.
Excel in the workplace and stop counting the days to Friday or vacation or retirement.
Serve in a place where we’re called even if it’s not a glamorous duty.
Thank God that He’s given us today. And that His grace is sufficient to get us through all our days.
What do you need to stop and savor today?
Is there a stage of life you’re longing to complete?
Let’s encourage each other to find joy in the present. In the comments, share a little life smile you’ve had from living for today.
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118: 24
April 19, 2016
Dishes, towels, and kitchen appliances covered the gift table at a wedding shower I recently attended. The most unique gift I saw was one that had been given to the happy couple by one of my good friends. A water hose. My friend learned a lesson years ago that she likes to pass on to brides-to-be, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water it.”
In his recently released book, “The 7 Rings of Marriage,” author Jackie Bledsoe makes a plea for married couples to do just that: keep their eyes on their marriages with plenty of “watering,” which includes attention, time, and prayer.
Prayer and the Word of God must compose the foundation, Bledsoe instructs. No matter where a couple lands on their marriage timeline, these components are essential ingredients for a lasting and fulfilling marriage. However, couples can avoid plenty of heartaches if Biblical principles are instituted even before the vows are recited. Bledsoe openly shares the struggles his own marriage went through because of previous shaky foundation.
Because laying a solid foundation is crucial for a healthy marriage, I would suggest that this book is best suited for engaged couples or those newly married. Of course, its principles can be applied for any couple, as Bledsoe offers practical methods for strengthening marriages. Date nights, one-on-one conversation time, and even playful fun are some of his suggestions.
“The 7 Rings of Marriage” is divided into seven stages or “rings” of marriage, beginning with the “Engagement Ring” and following through to the importance of “Mentoring” other couples in their relationships.
Other sections include: “Wedding Ring,” which calls for husbands and wives to lay out a vision for what a fulfilling marriage looks like. “Discovering” defines the importance of always learning more about a spouse. Agreeing to never use the word “divorce” is emphasized in the chapter on “Persevering.” The chapters on “Restoring” and “Prospering” guide the reader through practical steps of righting wrongs which may occur in marriage and thriving along the way.
Bledsoe’s style is conversational and the organization of the book aids in the ease of reading, as well as, using specific chapters as a reference tool. Though strongly recommended for those couples in the early months or years of marriage, “The 7 Rings of Marriage” offers any husband or wife with encouragement to view their marriage through a hopeful lens.
*I received a copy of this book courtesy of B & H Publishing. Opinions in the review are my own.
April 12, 2016
Are we the only family who practically eats our weight in chips and salsa at a Mexican restaurant? Match up our love for Mexican cuisine with an affinity for snacking on crunchy things, and before you know it, we’ve scarfed down chips by the basketful.
So it should come as no surprise that when I solicit the boys’ recommendations for dinner, tacos always make the request list. I cannot begin to guess how many tortillas we’ve consumed.
When I want to change up our traditional taco menu, I make enchiladas. For years, I bought canned enchilada sauce. Little did I know that making the sauce is simple!
Try it and you’ll be quickly converted. You can adjust the spices to fit your family’s taste buds.
Eat ‘Em up Enchiladas
1 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp flour
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
**optional, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I don’t add cayenne because I cannot handle spicy foods!)
Salt and Pepper
3 cups ground beef or shredded chicken or pork, cooked
1 ½ cups shredded cheese, Cheddar or Monterey Jack
Heat oil in small saucepan. Sprinkle in flour and cook for about a minute over medium heat.
Whisk in tomato sauce and spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes.
Spoon a layer of sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Scoop meat on tortilla and roll up. Place in baking dish. Repeat with other tortillas.
Cover with remaining sauce and cheese.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with sour cream and guacamole.
These enchiladas are a perfect way to use leftover meat. They work with chicken, ground beef, or pork.
Fill them with this leftover pork and they are irresistible!
Want them extra cheesy? Add a little cheese along with the meat inside each enchilada.
April 5, 2016
"He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." Matthew 28:6
As an official way to wrap up spring break, I asked my boys to condense all of their Easter candy into one bucket. They each had bags and buckets strewn all over the place. Eggs from the hunts. Goodies from school parties. Empty calories from the Bunny. Treat bags from Grammy. Candy for months. Time to collect all they had gathered and do something with it.
Seems that Easter involves a good amount of collecting things and seeing what’s inside. Opening the eggs and baskets to see the treasure inside.
While wading through the hunts and traditions, we make efforts to seek out the True Meaning. Through Scriptures. Songs. Devotionals. Sermons. Our own reflections of what the season of Easter really means. A gathering of remembrance and gratitude.
This year, I asked the Lord to show me something about Easter. To cause me to gather more than another recitation of the familiar.
And as I wanted to grieve the events of Good Friday and celebrate the resurrection on Sunday, I was sidetracked by news of bombs blowing up in an airport and politicians behaving badly and people crying out hatred against His Word. And there it was, my Easter take-away, “This world needs a Savior.”
And then the theme for the world, came home.
“These kids need a Savior.”
My boys’ behaviors and spunk combined with my attitude and lack of energy just made it all too glaringly apparent. Home from school, sugared up, sibling rivalry, and a sick mama cancelling plans didn’t equate peace. For several days, it seemed that the only thought about Easter that I could conjure up was “These kids need Jesus.”
Of course, as I churned their need over in my heart, my own need became glaringly obvious that I, too, need a Savior. I need Jesus. Every second.
And I realized that if we could wade through the attitudes and debris and remember back to that Friday, we would see Him. Our Savior.
And that if we kept going until Sunday, we could find what we were really searching for in the empty tomb.
Yes, our every longing filled by emptiness.
A lacking so frequently leaves us with an unquenchable thirst. Empty seems negative. So often it is.
We’ve all been there at some point.
Empty bank account.
All of those things leave us longing. Longing to be filled.
Yet the emptiness of the tomb leaves us full.
Because in this emptiness we find a living Savior. Redemption. Restoration. Victory. Hope. Fulfilment of life.
As the time comes to put away the bunnies and eggs and consume the remaining chocolate, be reminded. You have a Savior. I have a Savior. And I have a renewed longing to empty myself so that my life can be filled with only Him. Because the emptiness of the tomb completes us.
"So come and empty me
So that it's You I breathe.
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me."
Jeremy Camp/"Christ in Me"