Turning it Around

So it’s Monday.  I’ve always felt like poor Monday’s have notoriously gotten a bad rap since I have mostly liked the whole idea of a fresh start to the week.  Then this Monday hit.  It started at 4 a.m. when Mark had to get up to go out of town which made me  struggle to get back to sleep.  When I finally got out of bed, I realized that I didn’t charge my phone and that it was dead.  I plugged it up only to see that I’ve missed 1849 calls.  The laundry is behind.  Their are dirty dishes in the sink.  The kids are fighting.  The dog is furiously barking.  Someone burned eggs so that the whole house stinks and I found a cup left on the wooden furniture that left a nasty ring. 

Nobody understands their piano theory assignments and I am completely unable to help them because I’m as clueless as it comes when it involves reading music.  My back hurts.  My legs hurt.  Ok, most everything hurts.  And the Dr. keeps telling me to keep my stress at a minimum for these last few weeks.  Laugh. Out. Loud.

I could go on…. oh, could I go on.  But then I remember that it’s this stinkin’ thinkin’… this snowball effect of negativity, that caused me to start this 31 Days of Thanks in the first place. 

Yes, it’s been a rough morning, but I swear, it’s so much easier to focus on all that is going WRONG once I get started than it is to turn the tide and make the effort to give thanks and focus on the good, pure, noble and praiseworthy, ect., things.  Yet it HAS TO BE DONE.  God is too good to me (and to all of His children) for us to sit in our whiny, entitled, complaint-ridden filth expecting things to always go the exact way that we think it should.

So today, starting at 10:41 a.m. CST, I am going to turn it around.  I am going to FOCUS on the blessings in all of it because HE is worthy.

1.  I am thankful that Mark has a good job and that the reason for this trip out of town is because he has the potential for a ton of business for the company.

2.  I learned A LOT about the behavior of chimpanzees during my awake time between the hours of 4:30 and 6 a.m.  Thank you, Animal Planet.  It was truly interesting.  :D

3.  Dead phones are not exactly a bad thing in the morning because, half the time, if I get on the phone (or the internet) before school, the chance of me getting no quiet time or shower or anything is very good which can mess with the whole day (even though that’s always been my favorite time to chat, as most of my friends know!).  ;)

4.  The laundry and dishes are behind because we had a very productive and fun weekend.  I got the girls’ room completely done, which was a big deal.  The crib and bassinet are put together and all of the paraphrenalia is in it’s place. YAY!  Plus, I washed all of the baby blankets and sheets and put them up.  We also ate well this weekend.  We determined to enjoy each other and the season, so that left a few dishes over from last night when we were all too pooped to get up and deal with them.  It was worth it.

5.  The kids’ fighting is one of my big triggers.  I know I can be thankful for the sanctification process that it causes in me.  I always get tickled (or ticked depending on the day ;) ) when someone says “I don’t know how you do it with all of those kids home all of the time.  I could never because I don’t have the patience”.  Well, guess what?  I am STILL learning patience and if it weren’t for the Lord using my kids to teach me, I’d still be in the negatives for that little character trait.  He knows what He’s doing.  I also know that with every battle, I have the opportunity to train them rightly. We are all a bunch of sinners here in the Westie abode and I’ll never try to hide that.  Is the process time consuming?  Yes.  Is it wearisome.  It can be.  Is it my calling?  Definitely.  And it’s worth it, too.  

7.  I’ve said it before, I love to hear my kids practice their piano.  The theory is hard, but I know that they are getting good, quality teaching and that makes me happy.

8.  I know that all of the aches and pains and sleeplessness of these last few weeks are just because I have a precious gift of God growing strong inside of me.  My physical comfort can be put on hold for my baby girl to be as healthy as possible before she makes her arrival.  I know that the contractions are toning my uterus for the hard work of labor and delivery and that is important.  I know that these are all signs that we are so close to the end of the pregnancy part, and very near to holding and snuggling  her in our anxiously waiting arms.

9.  This wasn’t on my list of frustrations above, but while I’m thinking about it, I’m so thankful that we are far enough ahead in school that we should be able to take off the month of December without getting behind.  That was the goal from the start, so mission almost accomplished!   I really wanted for all of us to have a period of adjustment after the baby is born without having to add in the stress of school.  Another great thing is that almost every single one of our extra-curricular activities are off for the month of December, too.  I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to that month!

10.  Finally, I usually listen to Charles Stanley as I get ready for church on Sunday mornings.  He gave a good sermon about resting in the faithfulness of God yesterday morning and the one part that really stood out to me was the reminder that He will empower us to do whatever He has called us to accomplish.  You know, the old “If He has called you to it, He will see you through it” sentiment.  I needed to hear that!  I’ve been holding on to it over these last 24 hours (and I am searching for that elusive verse that speaks of this, but can’t, for the life of me, find it so if you know it off-hand I’d love for you to share!).   I am clinging to it as I live out my calling as a homeschooling mom who is about to bring a newborn into the mix.  He is FAITHFUL!  Here is a verse that I did find in my searchings that I am holding to, as well:   “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6  A-MEN!

Phew.. I really and truly feel better.  It took me forever to type this post, but it gave me a chance to ponder each of the things that I was turning around.  I am so glad for that.  I am about to go fix some lunch on this beautiful Monday and do some Bible time that I missed with the kids.    Hope you are having a good start to your week friends, and if you’re not, turn it around!  

Love to each of you reading this.

Cozy Day

It is SO cold outside!  It’s hard to believe that it was 90 degrees on Monday and tonight, we just came in from 40 degree temps.  Talk about VAST change!  I was thrilled, to be honest, when our meteorologist mentioned that we would get a cold snap because I have been crazy hot this entire pregnancy.  However, it does feel drastic.. haha!

This morning, I woke up to the heater on and the smell of coffee brewing since my sweet hubby is thoughtful like that.  I put some Pumpkin Spice creamer in it and pulled on my fuzziest, warm socks and really enjoyed my morning.  The kids got up and knocked out a big chunk of their schooling first thing since I had a Dr.’s appointment, so it was nice when we got home to be almost entirely finished at lunchtime.  We had a lazy afternoon bundled up in front of the t.v. or Wii, and it was nice.  Sometimes, you just need an afternoon like that.

Mark and I had some important matters to discuss that didn’t need to wait, so we went out for some soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden rather than go to church tonight.  After a quick trip to Walmart, we came home to the kids and made a fire outside where we roasted marshmallows and ate candy corn while enjoying the nip in the air.   It was a great day and night!  I can’t wait until this weekend (if I can wait that long)  because they finally put out some mulling spices at the grocery store, and one of my absolute FAVORITE things to have in the Fall is mulled cider.  It smells up the house so nicely and it tastes so delicious.

This is pretty close to the recipe that I usually use (mine is buried in the kitchen and I’m too lazy to get up..haha!):  Cider Wassail  But, it really is easier with the packages. You can find them near the spices at Walmart, or maybe even near the coffee?  This is what I got: Freida’s Mulling Spice  

With these packages, I just tie up some of the pre-made spices into cheesecloth and throw a gallon of apple juice in the crockpot and let it go all day.   Everyone can just ladle some out as they want it.  It’s a big favorite for holidays around here.  I’m really excited to start breaking out some of the recipes for things we love to eat this time of year.  It’s my favorite for food, hands down!

What is something that you are loving now that Fall is here?

My JuJu

Today is my girl’s 11th birthday.  I get so choked up even typing that (and it’s not because she is getting older at all).  I have just been so immeasurably blessed by God to have been given this child, that words will never do for an explanation.  She has been such a sweet little light to this family, and up until next month, our only girl.

She is one of the most kind-hearted, hard-working and determined (in a good way) kids that I know.  She LOVES Jesus, and honestly, I can’t think of a time when she hasn’t.  She’s has just always had an understanding and an acceptance that I can’t explain.  I can’t wait to see her with her baby sister.  She is so excited and already adores her.  She whispers it to my belly every single night before she goes to bed.  ;)

We celebrated her birthday over the weekend so that her Nana could be here.  She woke up Saturday morning determined to help make her own cake, so I just handed over the reigns.  She even frosted and sprinkled it and put fresh strawberries on top.  She did such a good job!   I’m so thankful for her!

Happy Birthday, JuJu!!

You are SO loved!!

Teenagers

Today has been a dreary, overcast day here in my area of Mississippi.  But I’m not complaining.  I have a lot harder time wanting to stay indoors and do the necessary work when the weather is beautiful outside.  I miss those days when school was easily completed in just a few short hours and my big boys were fascinated by taking nature walks to gather pinecones or what-have-you.  Not that I don’t have younger ones to still do that with, or that my boys don’t still enjoy those walks, but school takes so much longer now.  It’s an all day affair if it is to be done well. 

This is a reminder to me to enjoy each season with my kids because so many times when they were all  little, I couldn’t wait for them to reach that next milestone thinking that it would make things easier.  It didn’t.  Parenting has the lion’s share of work no matter what stage they are in.  The stages are just different.  And they are here and gone before we can even blink just like we’ve always been told.

So today, I’m thankful for this season of life.  I love having teenagers.  Yes, I just said that. ;)   I really do.  There have been challenges and adjustments, naturally, as my boys have grown into young men, but honestly, I enjoy them so much.  I love having deep conversations with them.  I love to hear their thoughts and am often amazed at the things that come out of their mouths as they process things.  They are interesting and keep me thinking.  It even thrills me when their understanding of something surpasses my own (Hello, Algebra?).

I am beginning to see more clearly who they will be as grown men, and possibly the career paths that God will take them on.  But, one of the things I love the most, is that we LAUGH.  My oldest has a sense of humor that is just like my own, and my 2nd born finds things funny much the same way that his Dad does.  We think things are funny together and I just don’t know of a better bonding thing than sharing humorous moments.

I know that things are flying by, and I know that these years are short, so I am seriously determined to focus and am asking God to keep my eyes wide open to all of the blessings before me while my family is under this roof.  I don’t want the distractions of this world to knock me away from this, the most important thing I’ll ever do.  He is so faithful.

Pregnancy Necessities

There are a few things that I have found I cannot live without during this pregnancy, so to say that I am grateful for them would be a gross understatement… haha!   Here they are, in no particular order of importance (because they are all highly favored!).

My Body Pillow

I can’t even imagine sleeping without this glorious thing now.  As my belly has grown exponentially, naturally, so has my sleeping discomfort.  My hips ache very badly if I can’t wrap all around this thing at night for extra support.  It is quite the earth shaking event when I change sides during the night though because, not only do I flip, but my great big ole pillow comes with me.  The funny thing is, I usually have a regular sized pillow stuffed up against my back, and one nestled just so under my head, thereby creating a nice little “nest” effect.  It’s quite the ordeal and I can’t believe Mark hasn’t relocated yet.. hahaha!

Next on my list is this little sweetie:

This is my mini-massager.  One of the kids got this for me at the beginning of my pregnancy and I. LOVE. IT.  It is great for those lower back massages because you can push the little button and it vibrates, so with some pressure, it really seems to ease up some of the soreness of your hip/lower back area while pregnant.  I know it will be a gem for around the shoulder blades after the baby is here, too.  The best thing is, they are CHEAP!  I think this thing was only $5.oo!

About a month ago, I started to get heartburn like I have never experienced.  It was even making me very sick to my stomach and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it to chill.  A friend of mine suggested this:

It has been a LIFESAVER!  It is the ONLY thing that has touched my heartburn and I am so thankful.  You only take one a day rather than 50 like with Tums or whatever, and it does the trick like nothing else.  I even introduced Mark to it and he is a believer now, too (maybe that will make up for all the rolling at night? :D )

Finally, I was told about these recently and I am loving them alot, too:

It is the Gilligan & O’Malley Nursing Tank from Target.  They are cut for maternity wear, too so they don’t feel extremely tight around my belly like the regular tanks do.  I wear these constantly and they will obviously be worn after the baby is here to nurse with.  Everyone swears by them because they add a layer over your stomach while nursing allowing a little more modesty.  I’m a fan already!

There are a few other things like bottled water that I can’t live without, but these are the big dogs.   What was on your list of ”must-haves” when you were expecting?

Full Weekends

Oops.  Did I say 31 “consecutive” days?   Well, this is me having to make a modification. :)  I definitely will do 31 days, but I may miss a day or two for which I will make up.  Life just took over from Thursday on through today, which caused us to be extremely busy, but with GOOD things.   We had out of town family here because we were celebrating my JuJu’s birthday (more on that on Wednesday), and we had several church functions to attend over the last few days because it was our Fall Bible Conference.

Today, after a great fellowship meal, and after our company left, we took a much-needed nap and then Mark and I went for a Sunday Drive.  Growing up, that was one of my favorite things to do with my Grandparents.  We would just set out with no real destination in mind and drive, drive, drive.  Fall is probably the very best time to do this because of all of the beauty, but it’s also nice when the winter cabin fever sets in just to get a change of scenery. 

We made a pit stop for some ice cream and then played “connect the roads”.  Since we are still relatively new here, it’s fun to figure out where all the roads lead and connect.  The kids weren’t really interested this time, so it was a date!  We drove and chatted for about an hour and then finally came home.  I was so grateful for this weekend and for the chance to celebrate our precious girl.  I am so thankful that we had a full schedule rather than being lonely (even if I do get tired easily nowadays!).  And I am extremely grateful to be able to break away to spend some uninterrupted time with my very best friend.  I love that man so much. 

Everywhere I look in Scripture now, it seems to point to giving thanks.  Isn’t it funny how God opens up our eyes to things that we may have looked at a thousand times before, but for the first time are really seeing?  I love that because it means that He is speaking!  And gratitude is extremely important to Him!

Today, for example, we had a guest speaker for the aforementioned Bible Conference for our Sunday sermon.  His text was Psalm 100, which reads as follows:

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

  Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 
Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs
Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his;
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

   Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise
   give thanks to him and praise his name. 
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

I hope to get a link to the sermon on this text put up here just as soon as it’s on the website.  It was so encouraging, and it even spoke of the importance of giving thanks even in the very, very hard places (because He is good!).  I will let you know as soon as I get it.  I pray that we all have a week with our eyes wide open to His daily gifts. 

Lakeside Lunches

Today, I had my 32 week routine OB visit and everything checked out just fine, as usual.  Baby Girl is measuring right on track and I have had no problems.  Here is a picture taken today after lunch:

 After my appointment, I took everyone out to the park so that we could enjoy a picnic lunch and the beautiful day.  Every now and then it’s good to break away from the normal routine to just “be” and enjoy each other.   The boys immediately went to “sword” fighting:

   

 And scavenging for stones to skip (which wound up turning into big rocks before it was over because the “KERPLUNK” noise is apparently so much more enjoyable)  ;) :

My sweet girl wasn’t as into all of that, so she did what comes naturally to her, and scavenged for much prettier, less destructive things:

Then, as is often the case, after a few minutes, I was presented with this:

These are so beautiful to me.  They are currently displayed on my kitchen sink along with a few of the brightest red leaves that we found, too.  I am hoping to do this with them later this week (you’ll really want to click that link for a fun and easy Fall activity!). 

How could I not be thankful today?   There are so many blessings in just the few hours represented here that they are too numerous for one post.

Grateful:

Warfare

Let me just be very real here and say right out of the gate that if you decide to commit to live in gratitude and blog about it, YOU WILL BE FOUGHT.  Whoa.  The warfare that has been going on from every direction since I started this has been overwhelming.     There have been real things that have happened over the last day, but there is also this heavy cloud of  burden that seems to be hovering and pressing relentlessly that is past the point of logic.

It’s like I can hear the enemy whispering his lies in my ear.  I even woke up in the middle of the night to an almost instant feeling of panic and could not go back to sleep last night, but here’s the thing:  This ain’t my first rodeo.  I’ve been here many, many times before, and over much, much worse.  I know what this is, and simply having that knowledge is half the battle.  I know that pressing in and being EVEN MORE THANKFUL to God, rubbing against the grain of what the enemy is pushing for me to do, is the only way to battle this.  i know that my faith will be strengthened and that eventually he will flee because my Father says he will, and He doesn’t lie.

So on that note, today, I am thankful for heat on cold mornings and children who circle around the table to pray wrapped in blankets just minutes after getting out of their warm beds.  I am thankful for God’s Word and the wonderful people who followed the calling to write excellent Bible curriculum.  I am thankful that the state I live in is the easiest state in this country to homeschool in (I only have to turn in an index card for each child every year with my intent and that. is. it.).  I am thankful for a library that has a great children’s section with lots to choose from.   I am thankful… so thankful… that all of my children love to read.  It’s an answer to prayer.  I am thankful that we can be outside without burning slap up for the first time in months. 

I am thankful that I can feel my baby kick and move when I lie down in the afternoon for a few minutes to rest.  What a precious, precious feeling.  One I don’t take for granted.  I am thankful for a full table of family and food each night.  I am thankful for helping hands when it’s time for cleaning up.  I’m thankful when it’s all clean.  ;)   I am thankful for hot cups of tea and comfy recliners.  And finally, I am thankful for the outlet of this blog to put it all down at the end of the day.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,  whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

 9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. 10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.   James 1: 2-12

God is good.

Practicing Piano

I am really squealing in on 2 tires with this day’s post since it’s just a few hours from being “tomorrow”, but I was not going to let it slide. ;)

This is what I am thankful for today:

3 of my Crew are taking piano this year and are loving it!  There is rarely a moment when someone is not plunking away on it, so it’s no longer a quiet house during school hours, but it is a joyful noise.  Julianna had already had a year of lessons, but when we moved to Mississippi, we had to take a hiatus of a year because the piano had to go into storage (we were in a 3rd floor apartment).  But right after we moved into this house, we found a great teacher and quickly added Jake and Andrew to the lessons since they were interested  (Ty will hopefully be taking guitar next semester when a slot with his teacher becomes available) . 

Anyway, I really enjoy listening to them learn and play their songs every day.  Neither Mark nor I know nothing formal about music, so I really am grateful that my children have this opportunity for themselves and for our family to enjoy.  Such a treasure!

Sundays

My Facebook status today is “I love Sundays.  Love ‘em!”, and I really do mean that.  From the moment I wake up on Sunday mornings, things are just different.  Generally, I am the first one to rise and shine here in the Westie abode, and I really like to take that time to sip my coffee and turn on the television to listen a good sermon in an effort to prepare my heart for the day.  I will usually poke around the internet for greetings from those excited to fellowship with the Lord and other brothers and sisters, too, as the Crew wakes up and gets moving.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bliss.   Inevitably, there will be lost shoes, mismatched or wrinkled clothes 5 minutes before we are to walk out the door, or any other form of chaos that you could conjure up in your imagination that follows a big family trying to make it to church intact.  But, there is a sweet feeling that I think God gives to His children, despite all of that, knowing that we are about to enter into the sacred obedience of corporate worship.

I love my church family.  There is nothing more beautiful than being able to walk into a place knowing that you are yours are welcomed, needed, and treasured as part of that body.  It’s the way He intended it, afterall.  I love concentrating in prayer for brothers and sisters in Christ without the distractions of everyday life.  I love listening to the Word of God being taught and voices being lifted for His glory and honor.  I love watching the children from the oldest to the tiniest knowing that they are part of our extended Covenant family and that they are all blessings.

I love worshipping.  I love singing the songs that echo what my heart feels with the well-written words (even if we are called “the frozen chosen”, we still worship… ;) ).  I love learning something new from the living and active Word of God.  I love to feel the affirmation of what He has already been knitting within my heart, and I even love the sting of conviction because I know that it is only handed down because He loves me too much to leave me wallowing in something so foul as sin.  I love church.

Oftentimes, after the service, we will share a meal with various friends, where we linger over conversation that ranges from the very deep to the silly and frivolous, but it is nevertheless, highly treasured.  There is something so special about breaking bread with God’s people.

 Eventually, this happens:

And in stark contrast, this:

 But, I love all of that.  We mostly wind up our Sabbath Day by going right back to where we started:  church.  The evening service is so much more casual in appearance, but deeply steeped in fervent, unorchestrated, Spirit-led prayer.  Once it’s over, you will find the children running amuck outside and the adults taking in that last little breath of relaxation before the week begins again.

Tonight, after evening church, we are heading to our friend’s home for s’mores and flashlight tag.  Things went just a little differently than the norm here today because Mark and the boys were camping this weekend with the Scouts, so it was just the younger 2 and me that made it to the morning service.  It has been an afternoon of stinky camp laundry and chilling out while listening to the plethora of stories after such an eventful weekend, but I am still so thankful, nonetheless.  I imagine they will all sleep WELL tonight.. haha!

If you all are interested in participating in the 31 Days of… blog carnival, it’s not too late!  Here’s the link, and seriously, check out some of the entries.  They are really informative!  Happy Sunday, friends.