Monday, March 24, 2014

I Am a Work in Progress

God is so good!  He has given us two children who have turned our world upside-down while filling our cups with laughter, silliness, joy, innocence, dancing, singing, stories, imagination, crumbs, and --yes-- chaos! 

But He has also used them to inspire change within us resulting in more patience, humility, discipline, maturity, conviction, compassion, integrity, trust, and beyond all of that LOVE in our own lives.

Being a parent has convicted me to step up to the plate (or cup) that God has filled brimming full in my life, as I strive be the person I want my children to become. 

Are you following me?  

As a parent I have certainly become more aware of my own shortcomings and the need for the Holy Spirit to be the air I breathe.

Let me explain...

have never needed more patience than with my two eager and rambunctious little people, who have strong wills and ideals of their own.   This should speak for itself.  Can I get an Amen?!

Just as marriage has taught me humility, being a mommy has too.  So very much!  I have to humble myself and say "sorry" when I have messed up.  It happens all too often.  I've raised my voice (too loudly) when I've felt out of control. :(  I have misunderstood the kids and sent the wrong one to time-out...  I am guilty!  When I do these things, I always come and apologize sincerely to them to set an example and let them know mommy needs God's help, too!  I'm all too familiar with the taste of humble pie, and that's ok.  I'm a work in progress!

I not only discipline my children in love when they need correction, but I have had to discipline myself in my schedule and duties as a woman and mommy!  One way I do this is I set the alarm to go off before my kids get up in the morning.  This way I drink my first cup of coffee and talk to God as the sun comes up.  It's not easy, but it's better than waking up to "mommy, mommy!"  and getting quite literally a running start right out of bed.  For me this works better.  We're all different!  :)  I need my time to shake off my sleepy head and wake up.  There are too many examples to say of how a parent sacrifices and disciplines oneself to make sure they are doing what's right for the family.

want my children to see my convictions.  My faith in the Lord is everything, and what I believe He has called for me to do--or not do.  I need to acknowledge what these are as a parent... I'm still learning!  But I seek God to get a clear understanding of what He wants me to stand for and against, what is really important in life, and where my passions are.  Our children watch and listen to us intently--whether we know it or not--and I want to live a life of with intention and conviction.  As they grow older this will become even more important!

I'm learning what compassion is every minute as I'm beckoned to their little "needs".  Little minds can be distraught over such things as a favorite blanket being lost.  A boo boo that needs a prayer, and a kiss before getting back on the tricycle, or a little girl afraid of the wall "flashing" at night.  I'm trying to show compassion when I see my little ones needing me for what seems like nothing at all, because I was a child once.  I remember how sometimes I just needed to extra hug and "it will be ok" from Mom before I could go on.  So many times those things seem to arise at in opportune moments.   Like when I've finally fallen asleep, when they've finally fallen, or when I'm on the phone with the dentist office, but I am working on compassionate tone of voice instead of a harried one in response.  Compassion goes a long way in little hearts.  

am working on being a mama of integrity.  I want to walk the talk.  Even in the small things like if I said I would get all the birthday balloons down so my son could play with them right after he naps, I want to do just that.  If I tell them that we would have bedtime reading and rocking chair time, I want to stay true to my word.   It also applies, if I say that one more time and "you will be in trouble", I stick to my word.  I want them to know what mommy says, they can count on!  I especially believe a person who follows Christ should have integrity if they want anyone to listen what they say.  Integrity is what helps to build ...

Trust.  This has been a big one for us.  Since our children were adopted, Heath and I had to earn their trust, and they've had to earn ours.  This does not happen overnight!  After 10 months, we've established a bond of trust that is now strong, thanks to God answering our many prayers for this!  As you know, trust is a huge component for any healthy relationship, especially between child and parent.  It's almost everything.  I was pretty discouraged in the beginning, because most babies seem to be born trusting their mommies and we didn't have that bond.  God was faithful and gave us the patience and hope we needed to push through the difficulties in the beginning.  Now we know each other and they understand how much we love them!  We follow through with what we say and we've opened our hearts to them fully, so we've come to earn their trust.  It's a beautiful thing!  My trust in God, on the other hand, for the lives of my children is massive and probably another post altogether. 

Our cups runneth over with love for our son and daughter!!  This really can't be explained.  Love is something that I feel is continually growing and because of my great love for them, I seek more patience, humility, discipline, maturity, conviction, compassion, integrity and trust in my life.  

God's love overflows in my own life, and it's that outpouring that runs off and into my marriage and children.  He is the wellspring (of life)!  

I honestly don't think I would be even a good parent at all without Jesus in my life helping!  I'm not kidding!  

While parenting is hard work,  I have the ultimate parent in my father God to learn from!  As parents, we are learning and growing on the inside just as our children are.  I need God just as they do!  The more I see my similarities and my kids', the better I know how to parent.

I am a work in progress!!

As you can see, both our children just celebrated birthdays!  We now have a 3 & 4 year old!  I pray in Jesus name this by far their most joyful year yet!!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Marriage Retreat

Last week has been an incredible one for us and was a long time coming! 

I don't claim to have parenting advice since I've only been one for 9 1/2 months.  Saying that, here is one piece for those of you who are married with children, or planning a future including those things one day.  This is something that I've known all along, but now that we're parents it's quite valuable!

Keep your marriage and spouse your #1 priority under God!  

My husband comes first, and our children a close second.  Everything else is after them.

What good is it if you are super-hero, rock-star, "parent of the year", if you're failing to meet your spouses needs?  While some may think that is extreme, the truth is that my relationship with Heath lies so much of my little children's security.  

Please hear me.  This is not meant to be any sort of guilt-trip at all!!

I think we all go through times when our caring for our children overtakes our marriage, but I want to be intentional in taking it back.  Jesus Christ should be our family's cornerstone for us to not only survive -- but thrive together--and with His guidance, finding a balance is possible!  

Here are some reasons to carve out time for your marriage:

1. Our marriages need to be nurtured so that in turn we can set an example of what sacrificial, whole-hearted love looks like to our children, and hopefully they will love with the same passion in their own marriage one day.  

2. So we can be a team in parenting, and on the same page as we raise our children together.  It's hard to do when there isn't much communication flowing in a marriage, but it can be easier and fun to train children when you have a partner who will support you along the way!

3. We will be married --by the grace of God-- far longer than we will have children at home!  We need to water and tend to the relationship that was set in a covenant before God!  I want to go through the my entire life with my best friend being just that, even once we're empty nesters!

4. Those are just a few of the many reasons I want to keep our marriage so important in my life, but the most is probably because I love Heath soooo much and I simply miss him!  I miss the heart-connection during the chaotic, tiresome days that sometimes turn into weeks or months between his hectic work schedule and my full home life.  

I feel so thankful to the Lord that I married someone with whom I am so in love with, but we still need to put in an effort to make sure we don't over look one another.  We were at the point where Heath and I need time to focus primarily and solely on each other.  It had been several months.... Well honestly maybe years since we've had time like this together!  We're going to do our best to not let that happen again.

This week, our parents kept our little sweet peas so that Heath and I could have sort of a "stay-cation" at home.  This was actually a week of intentional-reconnection on a deep level, and while Heath did work during days, when he was home we made it all about each other and the other one's needs.  It was amazing!!  :)

Folks, you don't need to have the beach or a luxury hotel for this (although nice), if you need a time of refreshing with your spouse it can be done at home!!  We don't have family closer than 3 1/2 hours away, so that is one reason why we needed a chunk of time for this.  It's not like we have regular date nights right now, and so it was just easier in our case to make this retreat last few days.  Anywho, I wanted to share some pictures of the week.  I wanted to take more of each other since usually it's all about our children instead of ourselves.  Ha, I just can't take enough photos of our kids!! :)  I think they're the cutest things!

Let me share a few of the highlights of our week:

One night we watched a movie at home and made homemade popcorn.  Always so much fun!!! It snowed all afternoon and night, so it was awfully romantic to sit by the fire with my Love.

Another night, we decided to dress up and go out on a date to a really good restaurant we probably wouldn't take the kids to, at their age.  We wanted to try out something new together, and had so much fun!!

After all, food is our thing!  We have always connected over delicious, unique food and music!

We decided to go to a highly recommended restaurant in the heart of Louisville called, Eiderdown.  It was perfect!

The food is a Deep South interpretation on Bavarian (southern German) cuisine.  The food was down home and yet presented beautifully!  We ordered the German pretzel sticks with house made mustards... Highly recommend!  They were chewy and buttery.  

I ordered the roasted chicken on a bed of grits with collard greens and sausage and it came with a slice of crusty bread. -- shown here

Heath got the spaetzel with goat cheese and sausage.  Yum!!

Everything was divine... Even the coffee!

The atmosphere was cozy and romantic with a single flower on each table with a lit candle, and dim lighting by way of spotlights and chandelers.  It's located in an old inconspicuous building, but the inside is redone and still has exposed brick and original hardwoods in the main dining room.  Our kind of place!  We were seated at a two top by the window, and it was lovely.

The next night, I decided to make a nice candlelit dinner.  It's rare for me to go to such lengths for dinner anymore as a mommy, but since I enjoy showing my love through cooking, I knew a special dinner was in order for my man.

I got started too late on cooking the meal :( , so we had an evening dinner around 8:15.   Good thing Heath was fine with that, and was just so thankful for it at all.  I made an appetizer plate with sliced bread, assorted pickles, mustard, and cheese to munch on while it all cooked.  Yay, for improvising!

For the meal, we had a baguette of soft dark oatmeal bread and a crusty baguette.  The salad was a Bibb, strawberry and feta cheese salad.  I also added tomatoes and toasted walnuts with balsamic dressing.

Our entree was fall off the bone, braised short ribs with creamy Yukon gold mashed potatoes.  It turned out better than I had hoped!  They cooked low and slow in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours.  Both of these recipes come from the Pioneer Woman, and are relatively simple, but include good ingredients!

I'm not a "selfie" person unless it includes somebody else, but here I am in my bright pink coat about to go to Barnes and Noble to just browse the isles and read.  What a treat!

I snuck in a s'more cupcake at The Cheddar Box.  Did I mention, this was a week to splurge??!

Heath treated me to a surprise spa day on Thursday!!!  

I've never in my life had such a wonderful experience!  I left feeling like a goddess!  My body was so relaxed and refreshed, and my face was clean and illuminating.  Sigh... It was like a dream.  (Amazing... Especially for a girl who sometimes forgets to wash her face anymore.)

Honey, thank you with all of my heart!!!!

We also prayed together a lot, read in the Word, and just talked about our life, goals and shared our heart.  I love doing that with him!  I've never been so intentional with Heath, and I have loved it!  I absolutely love serving him, and listening to his ideals, concerns, prayer requests, and just whatever.  I'm constantly learning more about him.  We listened to music, he played guitar and we sang.  We did everything we have so been longing to do for a while, but never do.  

We slowed way down.  This literally hasn't happened in a very long time.  Life living away from family with a hubby in residency and two 3 year olds is usually fast paced, (but fun)!

What a sweet, loving, gracious heavenly Father I have.  He sure gives rest to the weary, and gives us our hearts desires!  Thanks to our parents for allowing us to nurture our marriage by keeping our kids, but I have a strong feeling that it was their pleasure!  I know the kids have had a big time!  I'm so glad they're getting time to really connect with our parents, too. 

I just had to share with you what God has done in our life this week.  I am walking with my life long love and friend, and we ride the waves together in every season that comes,  the calm and in the storm.  We have sure seen them all.  I want to invest time, effort, and love into him, even now that we have children.  He is no less important to me!

I truly want to date Heath forever!  I pray that as we place our marriage first, we're leaving a legacy of godly love to our children and for generations to come.  

Matt. 11:28
Phil. 3:19
Psalm 67:11
Eph. 5:22-28
Gen. 2:24