Hello, Fall. I’ve Been Waiting For You – 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

Hello Fall. I've Been Waiting For You - 5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hello, fall.

I’ve been waiting for you.

By far, Fall is my favorite time of year. This year, the Minnesota weather has been cooler than normal, so it started feeling like fall in late August.

While some are still mourning the loss of summer…I am celebrating fall.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall

5 Reasons This Mama Is Grateful For Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

ALL. The. Apples.

By late August, I am ready for orchard apples. While Pink Lady apples are my choice when it’s not apple season, they simply do not compare to orchard apples.

I wait ALL year to pick those first apples so we headed to the nearest orchard on September 1st. It was lovely – we went early on Friday afternoon and were alone in the orchard picking a bounty of McIntosh (my favorite) and Zestar apples. Now the kids are running to the fridge for an apple after school and we don’t have to fight over what constitutes a ‘healthy snack’. I’m grateful our favorite orchard is just 10 minutes away. We’ll buy apples as long as they have them (and hopefully stock up just before they’re out).

An apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it does make all of us rather HAPPY.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Boot Weather

A former life guard, I used to love baking in the sun. And, after all those winter indoor pool hours, humidity never bothered me. That is, until we had kids. I’m not sure if I changed and can’t handle it, or if it is caused by becoming a walking pack-mule who hauls kids and their stuff everywhere we go. Either way, I loathe the heat and humidity and love the 70 degree days with a cool evening. Cooler nights mean no bugs – in Minnesota where the running joke is that the state bird is really the mosquito, a no-bug evening is a gift.

And, finally, fall marks the return of boot-wearing weather. Tall boots, short boots, rain boots, leather boots…so long shorts! Oh, how I love boot-weather!

Routines

While I miss the kids while they are at school, I love the repetition and structure of the fall schedule. It feels like we’re shaking off lazy summer days and stepping into productivity. This summer was less structured than ever before and it was wonderful. But I was also very ready for it to be done. Actually, I was ready about a month before it ended. While the lack of structure is rejuvenating and relaxing, I just don’t thrive in an unstructured environment for an extended period of time. I find I accomplish less and lack motivation without deadlines or places to be.

After this first week of the fall schedule, I’m exhausted, but I am loving the return to BSF, kids in school, and my morning routine of waking up before the kids. In the morning I feel ready for them to get up. At the end of the day, I feel so much more productive and like more has been accomplished than on the majority of summer days.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Fall Fun

Bonfires, apple, raspberry and pumpkin picking, hiking, collecting leaves and taking in the colors, cooking soups and baking pies, football, soccer and more! There are so many activities on our fall bucket list, there just isn’t enough time to do it all. Fall activities make up some of our most treasured family time of the year. We’re off to a great start but have much more to do fit in before fall ends.

5 Reasons This Mama Loves Fall | thisgratefulmama.com

Hot Cider, Tea, Coffee

I love sitting outside on a cool morning or evening holding a warm mug of hot tea, cider or coffee. It’s kind of silly, but the smell and warmth of the mug in my hands is just better in the fall. In fact, I’m going to go get a cup of something hot right now.

 

What do you love about fall?

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6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt

 

Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com

Mom guilt is very good at stealing our joy.

Some days do not go as planned. Some days are filled with joy and success but as night falls, I find myself dwelling on my failure – big or small.  

Failure to accomplish everything on my TO DO list
Failure to exercise and eat as healthy as I should
Failure to be patient with the kids or my husband
Failure to love and connect in a meaningful way with my husband
Failure to play and be the fun mom our kids needed
Failure to apologize for my failings

Oh, how the list could go on! I’m sure you get the point. Hopefully I don’t fail in ALL of these ways in one day, but some days it sure feels like it.

Why IS it so easy for moms to focus on failure instead of success? 

Perhaps it is because we just love our kids so much, and we see the effects of our failings in their hurt and in their behavior.

It is good to hold ourselves to a high standard, but we often go too far.

When we focus on just failures, we lose important perspective about what really was accomplished that day – the kids felt loved, fun happened, chores were completed, and relationships were tended to.

The truth is, even the worst parenting day is filled with mostly success.

Instead of focusing on big and small victories, we focus on big and small failures.

Instead of recognizing that we are GREAT moms, we focus on that weak moment when we lost our temper.

You guys, that weak moment probably lasted about 5 minutes. In 12 awake hours (we likely have more), that is just 0.69% of the time spent with our kids.

Less than 1%, but we’re fixated on it.

As we reflect on the day, failing areas stick out like a sore thumb while successes are minimized or ignored completely. If this kind of self-critical thinking isn’t actively battled, it can become a painful, self-defeating habit.

While honest self-reflection and evaluation is helpful and necessary for growth and healthy relationships, over-critical thinking benefits no one. 

Did you hear me? Mom-guilt benefits no one and it steals your JOY.

Instead of motivating us to do better or to grow, mom-guilt leaves us discouraged and defeated.

What if we chose to move past mom-guilt and self-judgement and actively sought out a true and right perspective of our days? I believe we’d find motivation and encouragement to do our job better tomorrow. And our families would benefit from a JOYFUL mom.  

Reclaiming JOY when stuck in mom guilt takes concerted effort.

Can we try together?

6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt

Adjust Your Focus

Focusing on failure alone creates a mindset that is all about me – and how I can’t do anything rightThat is exactly what the enemy wants. Satan is the accuser (Rev 12:10) and right now he is prowling around like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour (1 Pet 5:8). When we carry mom-guilt, Satan is the only one who wins. 

When we allow it, failures can consume our thoughts. We go way past honest reflection and desire to learn our lesson. We replay failures, think of what we should have done, and it consumes our thoughts. When we continue to beat ourselves up, dredging up past failings to build a case to prove we are failing as moms, we are much too focused on ourselves – we become our own accuser. Our guilt changes the way we parent and we aren’t giving our kids our best. Time to adjust our gaze. Jesus has already died for our failure AND our mom-guilt. 

Turn your eyes upon His face and recognize how He sees youBeloved. Worthy. Forgiven. And exactly the mom your children need.

Battle In Prayer

Do you ever think God’s view of you is wrong? That you are simply a failure He cannot love? When we can’t accept His TRUE assessment of us, our pride says His sacrifice isn’t enough for us. Believing we’re just too far beyond His reach is the worst kind of lie we can carry in our souls. This is a spiritual battle that needs to be fought with spiritual words – not fancy, well spoken words, but honest, raw words spoken from a heart desperate for God’s love and peace. Pray when mom-guilt rises. Even when you don’t have the words – He knows your heart. Lay it all out at His feet. Tell Him your doubtAsk Him to show you His love and help you believe it. 

Accept Grace

As you recognize how God sees you, it is time to accept His grace and give it to yourself. Why is it so easy to tell other moms their failures and mistakes are no big deal? We encourage others to give themselves grace and then give ourselves NONE. Jesus didn’t die so we could live in bondage in our minds. There is NO life in mom-guilt. We need to do the work of forgiving ourselves and then move on.

Practice Gratitude

When we live in the light of forgiveness, we have so much to be thankful for! We see our children as precious gifts, and our motherhood as a calling. We begin to see our successes and are grateful God gave us the patience, skills and ability to achieve them. WHEN we fail, we see with true perspective that we can do better, but are able to apologize, take action to not repeat the failure, and move forward without dwelling in guilt.

Model Authenticity

There is no place for perfection in parenting – there are no perfect moms. Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com

Did you get that? None.

We will continue to grow and learn from our mistakes, but we will never, ever be perfect. And it is OK. Showing our kids we are not perfect gives them room to not be perfect too. Kids learn by example – if we beat ourselves up for imperfection, they will have a false and unattainable expectation that they be perfect too. Demonstrating how to handle our own failure starts with forgiving ourselves. Then, and only then, can we help them learn the same lesson when they stand in the shadow of their own failures. 

Hope

What if we viewed our failings as a chance to grow and for our kids to see the transforming power of Jesus in our lives? What if we thanked God for letting us fail so we could learn and help our kids learn lessons of eternal value? We can trust Him to be faithful to use our failings for His glory and to plant truth in the hearts of our kids. Start and end this day holding tight to the promise that His mercy is new every morning. And His faithfulness is greater than our failings.

Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com    6 Ways to Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | thisgratefulmama.com6 Ways To Reclaim JOY When Stuck In Mom Guilt | Thisgratefulmama.com

How I Became A Human Vending Machine

How I Became A Human Vending Machine | thisgratefulmama.comOnce upon a time I began giving our kids snacks in the store – a welcome and needed diversion, providing extra time and distraction. And, a more pleasant shopping experience for all.

The goal of the store snack is time.

MORE time.

Now, I’m not saying my kids are unruly or unmanageable without snacks. Most of the time, they are great. I can count on one hand times our kids have melted in the store – with or without snacks. They know how to behave. But when it comes to kids, even with the best laid plans, melt-downs do sometimes happen so we need to be prepared to deal with them with grace and move on.

Every child, even the most pleasant child, has a time limit. That limit may vary but could be caused by boredom, hunger, fatigue or some unexpected issue. Whatever the looming threat may be, we’re always on the melt-down clock when running errands.

For us, snacks keep the peace while warding off the real and serious problem of the hangries.

Tick-tock.

At first, the kids slowly ate and talked while we shopped. It was really quite lovely. Foods that take time to chew are first on the list: carrot sticks, snap peas, apple slices, etc.

These bags of healthy goodness were a win-win – they ate without complaint, and stayed happy longer. Generally, appetites for lunch weren’t ruined, and if they were it was OK – they got the good stuff in first.

For a while – it was almost foolproof.

Gone were the days of running through the store at break-neck speeds tossing things in the cart to get in and out before the melt-down clock ran out.

Our pace was just right. Leisurely, even.

I seemed like a brilliant solution. And maybe it was

But the glory-days of snack shopping was limited to about one year. As the kids grew older, that shiny brilliance has faded.

It isn’t that snacks don’t work anymore. They do. But trips just aren’t leisurely anymore.

Snacks can be a slippery slope. If there’s one snack, why not another, and another?

We’re back on the clock – but now it’s the snack clock. Better get everything done before the snacks run out.

My now older children scarf down even the chewiest snack in 2.2 seconds. They don’t want to chat and eat, they just want the next snack. Fast. So they inhale them – I mean, do they even chew them? At dinner, the same foods would take FOR-EV-ER.

Bottomless pits, I tell you.

I delay the next snack by requiring that we find a garbage to get rid of our trash first. It’s kind of a game, but more so just a tool for getting a few minutes between snacks. You can find us easily, my kids are the ones shouting at the top of their lungs – mom, I see a garbage!

Hooray (note sarcasm)...now you can have more snacks.

It seems that the store snack solution has slowly made me into a real-life human vending machine. For the payment of quiet, happy children, I fork over snacks while I get my workout pushing a cart loaded with 3 children and all our stuff at record speed.

It’s a mad dash, but, generally still a pleasant one.

Now that the kids are older, snacks still include healthy veggies and fruit. To try and slow the bigger kids down, they get beef jerky, raisins, roasted chickpeas or sunflower seeds (no shell), and mini bagels. The chewier, the better.

As you may assume from that list, sometimes snacks become lunch. It isn’t ideal, but does work out well if you need to do a lot of errands in a row. 

Plus, returning home and immediately plopping them in their rooms for a rest still feels somewhat shiny and brilliant. Unloading groceries in peace is a gift.

Don’t tell my kids, but I may also keep a bag Dum-Dums in my purse for emergencies (ahem – when snacks run out). IF the kids were good the whole trip, they just might get one.

I’m not above bribing them.

But one could argue that giving kids snacks in the store is bribery – I prefer to use the word incentives. 

Although snacks no longer provide a luxurious shopping experience, they are still effective in making our errands happier on a regular basis – and for that I’m grateful.

The human vending machine – yep, that’s me. Or perhaps more like the genie from Aladdin – Poof, what do you need?

Either way, I’m OK with it.

How do YOU feel about snacks in the store? 

How I Became A Human Vending Machine | thisgratefulmama.com

Gifts Moms With Little Ones Will Love

collage-final

Do you know a mom with little ones that you would like to bless this Christmas?

Well.

Then this list is for YOU! Whether she’s your mom, wife, friend, or daughter, here’s some gift ideas she’ll love.

*Note – I am not affiliated with any of the gifts below, these are simply some of my favorite items that I think other moms could use and would like.

thermosNo Spill Coffee Mug – You guys, this Thermos Stainless King 16 Oz Travel Tumbler is the best. Ever. I’ve been using mine daily for 3 years and it’s still in great shape. Why so great? I just throw it right in my purse or diaper bag because this lid DOES NOT leak (as long as you close the lid – a grievous mistake). Keeps coffee piping hot for 5 hours, or cold things cold for 9.

 

coloring-book

Color-therapy – What could be more soothing than coloring while pondering the character of God? The Color the Names of God: An Adult Coloring Book for Your Soul by Marie Michaels and her other books will help the mom in your life to do just that.  The illustrator is a friend of mine and her soul is as beautiful as her art work. And, you can ‘Like’ the Marie Michaels Art Facebook page and find free Coloring Advent pages.

mattress-padFor the freeze-baby – I am so grateful a friend told me about the heated mattress pad. At first, my hubby was not a believer, but ours has dual controls so he can set his temperature to low and turn it on only when he wants to. Turn on for a few minutes before bed and the sheets won’t be ice-cold. AND, if the mom you’re buying for has to get up in the night to nurse a baby, she can come back to warm sheets. Trust me, it is the gift she never knew she needed, but DOES.

necklaceTeething Necklace  I have several silicone teething necklaces from Consider it Maid. These are my go-to gift for new moms. They hold up well, baby loves them and they look great as a colorful accessory. I love being able to use it to distract the baby when we’re out for coffee. Friends often ask where I got mine and are shocked when I tell them its a silicone teething necklace. I plan to wear mine long after baby stops teething.

coffeeCoffee gift card  A gift card to a coffee shop is sure to please – a hot tasty beverage and some treats? Yes, please. I suggest picking one with a drive-thru to make the gift even better. Not only does she not have to get out of the car, but she can enjoy the coffee while it’s still hot. I call that winning. Planning to buy more than one? See if you can buy it at SAMs Club or Costco for a discounted price.

 

diy-photo-pendant-beaded-necklacesPhoto Pendants – Why not make a gift using photos of those little people she loves so much? Creep her Facebook or Instagram feed and make your own DIY Photo Pendant Beaded Necklaces using her favorite pictures. This is one gift she is guaranteed to love forever.

 

journalA Gratitude Journal – Find a great journal and nice pens or markers. Make it extra special by writing what YOU are grateful about her. Or, even better, have her kids write in it. She’ll know how loved she is every time she picks it up.

 

 

snow-day-survival-kitA Snow Day Survival Kit – Give the gift of activities for her family to enjoy together on a snow day. It will help entertain kids when she needs something to do, and provide a tasty, fun treat.

 

 

anchorString Art – A fellow blogger is selling string art on her new Etsy site, TheBurlapNestShop. I’ve been following her creations in my Instagram feed and I’m in love! Check it out for a unique, whimsy gift for the mom you have in mind.

 

life-verseCustom Necklace  – Moms love necklaces with their kids names on it and you can find tons of them on Etsy. However, maybe the mom in your life isn’t the photo or name-wearing type? How about a Custom Life-Verse necklace by Deirdre & Company? Keeping God’s word close to her heart is sure to bless.

 

a-good-bookA Good Book – I’m always a fan of a good book, especially one that someone I know has actually read and loved. I just finished ‘The Best Yes – Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands‘ by Lysa TerKeurst. Doesn’t that topic seem like something many of us moms could use? Take a look at your book shelf – anything stand out that you’ve read lately?

 

mealsMeals – Make her job easier by giving her the gift of meals. Give one meal, or maybe even one per month for the next year. You will bless her by taking one of her daily jobs off of her plate. Make it a healthy one and she’ll be even more grateful – that way she can save the easy pizza meals for nights she has to come up with dinner on the fly.

 

engagedGo Out – Whether she’s your mom, friend, wife or daughter, the best gift you can give is to take time to be with her. It can be simple, like lunch or coffee. OR, you can get dressed up and do something spontaneously fun. Whatever it is, doing it together is what counts. AND, if you arrange for childcare ahead of time, she can go care-free.

patinaStill not sure what to buy? In the Twin Cities area, head to your nearest Patina gift store. My personal favorites are the handmade jewelry, shower bombs, slippers, books, and MN-inspired gifts. You cannot go wrong in the store and with an eclectic variety, you’re sure to find something even the most difficult-to-buy-for mom will love.

 

Gifts Moms With Little Ones Will Love | thisgratefulmama.com

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent – 5 Ways to Help Older Children Cope

Infant 'Silent' Relux is NOT Silent - 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope | thisgratefulmama.com

Adding a baby to the family is a big adjustment.

For everyone.

And when that baby hurts and has perhaps more needs than some other babies do, it can be an even greater adjustment.

The newest sweet addition to our family has silent reflux and had a tongue tie and lip tie that caused feeding issues which caused pain and crying for much of each day for three months.

Despite the challenges, we are so grateful for our growing family. We are grateful that even though our baby hurts, she is healthy and thriving.

But watching a baby cry in pain gut-wrenching. It motivated us to seek treatment and to research everything we could find. This is our third time around with silent reflux and we are still learning. Every baby is different. There is no magic recipe for treatment that works for all babies.

For a while, it seemed like nothing could help her. But we kept praying. Kept searching. God has been faithful throughout the journey. When I have time to process the past months I’ll share what did help our daughter. She is still medicated for reflux, but it is now under control most of the time. God is so good. And His timing is perfect.

While we waited for the solution to control her reflux, we did our best. Many days we carried everywhere, all day long.

Often, she cried whether we held her or not. At least when she was in my arms, she wasn’t in pain alone.

If you’ve spent time around a baby who cries a lot, you know even the most seasoned parent can get frazzled – even a mom who cared for two other reflux babies.

A frazzled mom is simply not at her best, even when she is giving her best.

This frazzled mama has two older children who were not getting my best. Given the volume of crying, most interactions with my kids was done at an elevated volume and tone. I am not proud of some of the sharp replies and responses they got from me these past months. It is not surprising that our older children also struggled to cope. 

Our son had severe silent reflux, but he was our first child, so he had our full attention. Although our second child also had reflux, her symptoms were present more so at night than during the day, and were never as severe as her brother. Her older brother did not have to cope much with her crying because he slept through most of it.

While we are so grateful our third child has been a champion sleeper, her symptoms are expressed mainly during the day. And the pain and crying expression of that pain has been profound. In the second and third months of her life, it was not uncommon for her to cry for 5-10 hours of the day. She was either eating, sleeping or crying. There was little time or energy for anything, or anyone, else. For any of us.

If you are a parent of older children and a hurting baby, here are some tips for helping your older children cope with what is going on at home.

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent – 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope

1. Don’t Expect Too Much

When frazzled by a screaming baby, we seems to expect older children to be on their best behavior. However, kids get just as frazzled as we do. I often found myself dismissing them, or asking them to wait for unreasonable amounts of time for basic needs because I was overwhelmed. But being overwhelmed does not mean they don’t need me as their mom, nor does it give me the right to expect them to not need anything while the baby is crying – especially when the baby is crying for most of the day.

If I am not at my best, it is not fair to expect our children to be at their best. But how should we expect them to behave? It is certainly OK to ask them to follow already established family rules – we wont’ be encouraging bad habits or lowering our standard of discipline because  that would have to be corrected later. However, it is appropriate and important to extend grace to an emotionally frazzled child who may just need more attention. Is your child’s misbehavior a cry for attention, or simply from frustration and confusion about what is happening in their home? If so, they need your help to cope.

2.Carve Out Quality Time

If siblings are struggling to behave or are emotionally frazzled, MAKE time to spend with each older child. This doesn’t have to be a big event. Take advantage of baby’s nap time and spend it with older children – household chores can wait, no matter how messy the house is. Sit down, read a book out loud, play Legos, or color. An amazing attitude adjustment can be seen in our kids after just 15 minutes of dedicated time. They need more of us. We need to make the time for them, no matter how old they are, or how much the baby cries.

3. Recruit Other Adults

After quality time, your children may still struggle. If so, it might be time to recruit some help. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and trusted family friends are perfect to lavish love on older children. Often, they do not know you need help and are more than willing to help. Or, those who don’t want to overstep may just waiting for you to ask. Not good at delegating? Check out this post for some ideas of ways others can help and have graciously helped our family. Then go ASK!

4. Talk About It

Siblings may not know if it is OK to feel frustrated, sad, or confused about what is going on at home. The crying, and decreased attention from their parents on top of the normal adjustment to a new family member can be hard for them to understand and may need help sorting through their feelings. One way to get them talking is to share how you are feeling. Tell them you are aware you’ve been spending less time, that you miss them and cherish the time you do have together. Gently, kindly share what you have noticed about their behavior and mood. Give them time and assurance that it is alright to share their feelings and that it is OK to have those feelings. Assure children that this season will not last forever, and be sure to make sure to tell them how much you love them and how proud of them you are. Repeat.

5. Get Out Of The House

It can be easy to just stay inside when baby cries most of the day. But isolation is not helpful for anyone. Resist the urge to stay inside and get out of the house. Don’t worry if people look when your baby cries – most of them think you are doing a great job. They may look only because they heard a noise. What they see is a mama who is doing her best. You don’t have to go far to escape the house. Go for a walk, to the park, the zoo, or anywhere that is out of the house and out of routine. Even if baby cries the whole time, go anyway. Crying never seems as loud when you’re outside, and you never know, you might get a break from crying if baby gets some fresh air.

Infant 'Silent' Reflux Is NOT Silent - 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Kindergarten Happens.

 

Kindergarten Happens | thisgratefulmama.comSchool supplies, backpacks, and school forms – we have them all. Obviously, I knew it was coming.

And yet…

How. Did. This. Happen?

In just one week our oldest child will begin kindergarten. And he is so excited. So ready.

While we can savor these last few days at home together, Kindergarten is happening – whether I am ready or not.

Kindergarten is happening

Life will be forever different. Instead of spending most of his time home, with us, he will spend most of his school year days with classmates and teachers.

I will miss him fiercely.

And so will his sisters.

It is hard to not dwell in sadness of what I will miss out on in his life. I will no longer have the front row seat for his school challenges and achievements. I realize this was true in preschool too, but he was only going two days, and now…FIVE!

Most of his activities and experiences at school will be learned only when he or a teacher shares it with us. Second-hand, after-the-fact.

I pray he loves school so much he can’t contain his excitement and wants to tell us ALL (and I do mean ALL) about it.

But as this new season begins, despite sadness and a little bit of fear, I just cannot hold back my joy and excitement for all he will learn in this new adventure.

New friends. Personal responsibility. Art. Gym. Newfound independence. Social skills. Letters. Math. Science. New challenges. History. And oh, so much more!

And my favorite thing to think about?

Reading.

Whether in kindergarten or first grade, he will go to school, and someday, when he is ready, he will READ!

Our son will take all those carefully practiced letters and sounds and something will click. He will start to see how individual letters link together to make words. Then he will begin to read simple words, and then sentences, and…suddenly…he will read for himself.

And he will be able to write those words and sentences.

A profound, life-long set of skills for communication and learning.

Instead of needing parents to read and write for them, our kindergarteners will soon do this for themselves. Suddenly, a wealth of information is available to them, in black and white.

Books. Magazines. Newspapers. Posters. Billboards. Instructions. This grateful mama’s blog (whoa that is a strange thought)…And SO. Much. More.

But what excites me the most?

The Bible.

Our son will have the ability to read and study the Word of God for himself.

Take that in.

How exciting is THAT!? 

No longer will he have only heard the stories of the loving sovereign creator of the world. No longer will he have to rely on verses we’ve helped him memorize (although we will continue to memorize more as a family).

He will be able to read it ALL for himself. He will experience how God speaks to His children through scripture.

The Bible will become alive, personal, and precious as he explores it on his own. It is my prayer that the Bible will become our son’s most treasured possession, and favorite book.

I am SO GRATEFUL he has the opportunity and gift of going to a safe, academically strong, public school in the United States.

We are so, VERY privileged.

And so, with apprehension, sadness, joy, gratitude and elation, I am preparing myself to send him off on the school bus for his first day of school.

He is so excited to hop on that bus. Ready to learn. Ready for the independance. Ready for new friends. Ready for kindergarten and all that is in store for him.

And so, grateful for and expectant of how he will grow this year, I pray I will also be ready.

I choose to surrender my sadness and worry while trusting God with our son’s safety – He’s got this.

As I watch our son’s excitement and joy, I choose to dream and hope right alongside him. Ready or not, I can’t wait because he can’t wait.

Our son will do just fine out there in the little part of the world called kindergarten. In fact, I know he will thrive.

I will likely be one big mess of emotion as he steps onto the school bus that first day. I will do my best to keep it together for his sake (and my neighbors).

Kindergarten, ready or not, here we come!

Hands FULL. My Cup Runneth Over

Well hello there. Wonder where I’ve been these past months?

On May 11, 2016 at 12:34 pm, we were blessed by the arrival of our daughter Audra Grace at 7 pounds 9 ounces.

Audra Grace

To say things have been busy…is an understatement. In fact, I don’t have time to be writing this now, but my soul and my brain are in serious need of writing therapy.

While I expected an adjustment period, I was unprepared for what a third child adds to the mix. Our hands are FULL.

One month in, I was just starting to get used to three children. We started getting out of the house on time, and figured out how to grocery shop with a baby and toddler in the cart, and 5 year old in tow…

But when silent reflux showed up at 4 weeks, it threw me for a loop and I’m still playing catch-up.

Many days are a blur. In some ways it seems like we’ve had this baby forever, and in other ways I feel like I blinked and she’s 7 weeks old.

How can that be? The newborn period is so very short.

My hands are literally FULL. Most everything is done with one hand. The other is holding a baby… shopping, cooking, cleaning, reading to the kids while they hold the book…

At times I feel like everyone needs a piece of me, and there aren’t enough pieces to go around.

I feel worn out, and fear I am not giving the older two enough attention. I am grateful  as they throw their arms around me without judgement or resentment. But as my 3 year old snuggles in with me at night and says, “I need you, I miss you”, I feel the pang of mama-guilt mixed with the joy of being loved unconditionally by our children.

And so we snuggle tighter, and a little longer.

Despite challenges, what I see looking back on the past 7 weeks is  an abundance of blessings.

A big brother and big sister falling in love with their baby sister is one of the most precious things I have ever witnessed. I love how they are ready and willing to help grab diapers, pacifiers, and burp rags, or to just sit and talk to her. They are my second set of eyes, alerting me when she spits up, is crying, or needs something. This baby is VERY well tended to! It is fun to watch the older kids play together more than ever because their parents hands are often full. I am grateful to see how easy going they have become and how they are growing in responsibility and love.

And then there’s my husband. My hero, yet again. My rock through pregnancy and delivery. My encourager. The tenderness he has shown as he cared for me and our family after delivery is inexpressible.

Selfless. Persistent. Loving. Enduring.

This man took over so much around the house and with our kids. He entertains and plays with our kids, filling our home with giggles and squeals of delight. He brings me beverages and snacks while I feed the baby. He cooks, cleans and runs errands, all while working full time. Thoughtfully, he recruited help for me when he had to go out of town on a work trip so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. He is a full time, hands-on daddy and husband.

When we’re having a rough reflux-day, he comes home from work early to give me a break.  In the middle of the night, he takes over rocking the baby when she can’t fall back asleep. And he encourages and compliments, while graciously biting his tongue when I’m not doing the same. I am so grateful for his faithful, patient, selfless service to me and our family as he loves us through actions.

Words can simply not express just how grateful I am for him. Words fail me.

Our family and friends have blessed us beyond measure. Gifts, meals, visits with helping hands and loving arms have been given in abundance. We have been so generously cared for, the thank you card list keeps getting longer an longer (some day they will actually get written and be mailed!).

I feel the prayers of many lifting our family up as we adjust to being a family of five, and as we pray for Audra to feel better. We are so well loved, cared for, and covered in prayer. When I think I’m at my limit holding this sweet, crying child, a phone call or text message comes through checking in on us, or to tell me they are praying for us – always in perfect timing, bringing tears of joy and the feeling of being known.

And I feel no doubt that the Lord who created these precious children sees me, knows our struggles, and is carrying us through. We trust in his healing of Audra’s reflux, and that it will happen in HIS perfect timing. We trust that any present suffering is being used for good, and we expectantly wait on Him to show us exactly what He is doing here. I feel his loving, comforting arms as others selflessly step in to serve us and to lift us up.

He withholds no good thing from us.

We just have so much to be grateful for. I refuse to wish these days away, reflux or not. So we focus on gratitude, on our family, and keep our gaze on Jesus. Time is flying by, and we commit to soak it all in, no matter how busy or exhausted we are, or how much this sweet hurting baby cries.

Our hands may be full with these three precious children, but our life, and hearts are overflowing.

My cup runneth over.