Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Simon's Birthday Party

Here are some pictures of Simon's party with Dave's family. He wasn't much for the chocolate cake, but he sure likes tissue paper!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Little boys

Someone told me today that I seem to have incredible patience with my boys. As I laughed and shook my head, I realized her comment probably had more to do with how wild my boys were being at that moment, than because of my supernatural tranquility. It was a zoo around here today, especially in that last hour before Dave got home. This isn't unusual, but some days it hits me harder than others. This was one of those days. A wake up call really, when I finally realized that my children need a lot more correction than I'm doling out.

Hmmm...sometimes I wonder. How am I going to survive this?! And is the goal really just to *survive*? No, of course not, but honestly, I am constantly amazed at how much work this whole parenting thing takes!

I have been meditating on John 12:24 recently:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."

Becoming a parent is a call to die to self, isn't it? No one knows this better than the mom with the brand newborn baby, after being up all night trying every trick in the book to get that little one to sleep. We could just leave them in their cribs to figure it out on their own, I suppose, but we don't. We give up our greatest desire (at that moment) for precious sleep, and we pace the hall cuddling their tiny bodies and singing lullabies. It's definitely self-denial.

And from what I hear, things don't get any easier as kids get older. We can't always blame their behavior on teething or gas. :) We're responsible to teach them and train them in the ways of the Lord. Yikes. I want to go back to the baby phase!

So maybe I'm just thinking about all these things because my baby is turning 1 tomorrow. Or maybe I just had a bad day. But regardless, Amy's posts about Life with 3 under 3 have been a real encouragement to me this evening (I am typing on my MacBook, so I can't link to them...still figuring this thing out! But I link to her in my sidebar: Amy's Humble Musings). She had a lot of encouraging things to say about our reactions to, say, bad behavior, that makes us want to "go nuclear." Her advice was to stop everything for a few days and focus on getting things under control. The way she describes it makes me laugh. Go check it's too good!

In her comments, a lady named Tina responded with this: In order to have a “plan of attack” and “consistency” and the ability to “put things on hold”, you must stay home as much as possible when the children are all very young. When my twins were little, (#S 3 and 4 of 5 under 7) I remember telling a godly older woman that my children seemed to disobey more in public than at home. She replied,”No, they don’t. You simply don’t notice the behaviours at home because you aren’t being watched and you’re more relaxed. Attack the character issues at home that bother you when you are in public. Be consistent and you’ll begin to notice that your children don’t disobey at the grocery store anymore!” She was right. We developed a plan of attack and soon I could count on them behaving anywhere (usually)! One other thing that comes to mind is importance of transitioning to “WHY” we behave. In the early “3 under 3″ stage, children must learn to obey because Daddy and Mommy say so. As the children grow,they must obey because God says so.

So anyway, tomorrow is a new day, another day to start fresh, and raise those kiddos right! I'm encouraged to keep at it, and really focus on my little boys' hearts. I may not be the most patient momma out there, but I do know that the Lord chose me for the job.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hint of spring

The weather has been warmer than usual this week, and so yesterday we decided to head outdoors for a little backyard fun. This is Simon's first experience with playing in the backyard, as he was still very much a baby last summer. It was so fun to watch the boys interact together; they are becoming such friends, and I love that! I love hearing them giggle together as they pick up sticks, and I love watching the horrified look on Ethan's face when Simon tastes a handfull of sand. These are the precious moments, and yesterday my heart just cherished them!

So you think you're having a bad day?

This was Ethan after his nap a couple days ago. He fell out of bed the night before and hit his forehead on the edge of a drawer. Poor little Ethan!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Becoming God's Woman, session 2

A couple weekends ago, some of my friends and I drove to a women's conference for a day of encouragement and refreshment in the Word. The speaker was Nancy Rolinger, and her topic of the day was Becoming God's Woman. It was interesting because she shared that she had not intended to speak about this topic, but the Lord convinced her to at the last minute. And I knew--I just knew!--it was because He wanted to speak to me that day! Oh, of course I believe that He spoke to all of us women, but have you ever heard the Word of God preached and sensed the Spirit of God pricking your heart and ministering to YOU? I am so in awe of how the Spirit does this. Our God is so personal and intimate with us, and He longs to supply all the strength and encouragement that we need to face each day. His Word is available to us every day!
"Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him!' The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." Lamentations 3:22-26

I posted about session 1 here. Session 2 was about becoming God's woman in my character. We studied the widow indeed from 1 Timothy 5:5-16 for our checklist on character that pleases God. Here are my notes:

Fixed hope on God v.5, 1:1, 4:10, 6:17, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 John 3:3
Is my expectation set on God? (Not people, things, etc..)
Am I alert and waiting for the Lord's coming?
How can I fix my hope on God more?
This really spoke to my heart, as I thought about all the expectations I have as a mother.

Continues in prayers night and day
Is prayer a habit?
Does it touch every area of my life?

Above reproach
Am I carefully making every choice?

Wife of one man v.9
Am I pure in my marriage?
Am I doing the job of a wife: respect, submit, help, being a friend?

Reputation for good works v.10
For what am I known? What good works should I do now?
Do I have long patterns of doing good?

Brought up children
Am I raising godly offspring? It won't just happen.

Hospitality to strangers
Is my home open to people I don't know?

Washed the saint's feet
Am I serving the saints? (seeing the needs, caring for them, sharing the Word)
We are all needy people, but the way to have our own needs met is to meet others' needs. If you are depressed, bake a cake for someone, etc...

Assisted those in distress
Am I caring for the sick, sorrowing, distressed around me?

Devoted to every good deed
Am I pursuing all of the above?

Not idle v.13
Am I busy at my own things? Am I lazy?

Not a gossip or busybody
Is my nose in everyone else's business?

Keep house v.14
Am I managing the household and its affairs?
Am I able to give up selfish interests for all of the above?

Lord, I want to love what You love, and hate what You hate.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sugar and stickers make everything better

Grandma saved the day today! Ethan had just spiked a fever and was crying and moaning for all who would listen, when in walks Dave with the mail. Grandma R's valentine packages came in the mail today, and not a moment too soon! Of course, he instantly stops crying and tears into the package. How did she know he needed pages of stickers, a pencil, lots of heart suckers, and a stuffed dog?!!! She's amazing!

Simon enjoyed his dog too!

We don't call him "Slimy" for nothing!

Thanks, Grandma!

Snow day!

We got lots of snow this week! Ethan has been so excited and begging to go out, but I am just not ready to venture out in the snow with Simon. And it's dark by the time Dave gets home. So one morning, when Ethan woke up, Dave said to him, "When I get home for lunch, I want you to have eaten lunch and have your boots, coat, hat, and mittens on, okay?"

"Why, Daddy?" said Ethan, perking up considerably out of his early morning sourness.

"'Cause we're having a snowball fight at high noon!"

So all morning long, Ethan walked around the house talking about the "eyeball" fight he was going to have with his dad! I thought that was hilarious!

Here are some pics of the fun:

Baking cookies

Last week was a particularly "trying" week with Ethan, so on the advice from a parenting website that I frequent, I decided to keep him by my side pretty much all day long. This way, I can really work on his attitude and train him to obey me promptly and with a willing heart. It seems to really help him. I'm laughing under my breath as I type this because OF COURSE it helps, because, left to their own devices, how many kids grow up kind and obedient to authority? Um, of course not. :) Who are we kidding?!! Our children NEED for us to train them to respond the way God wants us to-it does not just happen!

And yet, when you keep your kids by your side all day long, it is a little harder to get things done around the house! :) I find that I have to stay constantly engaged all the time, keeping my mouth moving and directing Ethan to the next thing he can do. This kid moves a mile a minute, so if I pause for 2 seconds, he is bored. So anyway, we had a lot of fun. Late in the day, to pass some time until Dad got home for dinner, we decided to make cookies. Ethan loves to pour the ingredients into the mixing bowl and flip the switch to make it mix. Here's a picture of him getting a spoonful for the cookie sheet:

Apparently he also loves to share with his brother! I had no idea that he had given Simon the mixing paddle, but Simon was in heaven!
Next stop: bathtub!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Be mine, Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! It's that day again, the one we all used to groan about. Or maybe we still do. :) In my house, it has already been a big hit. This is the first year Ethan picked out Valentine's cards for his friends, and he actually signed his name (E) on the back of each one. And it looked like an E! I was so impressed!

My husband is also a huge fan of this holiday. The day that the stores start pulling out the Valentine's items, he wastes no time in purchasing those chalky tasting candy hearts with the messages on them. He LOVES those things! We have recently discovered that they are highly motivating to potty training little boys as well. Like father, like son, I guess.

Well, for Christmas, Dave bought us tickets to a dinner theatre for a romantic comedy play, which we'll be going to on Saturday. I am so excited! We love to go out for Valentine's Day, because this is the time of the year that we have chosen to evaluate our marriage and plan goals for the upcoming year. It is always so encouraging to look back at the things the Lord has taught us and how He has shaped and molded us!

So what is on your agenda today? Do you do special things with the kids or with your spouse or for friends?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Becoming God's Woman, session 1

On Saturday several girls from my church drove an hour away to go to a women's conference. The speaker was Nancy Rollinger, and she talked about Becoming God's Woman. I went to the conference fully expecting to be encouraged and uplifted, but once again, the Lord really exceeded my expectations!

Everything Nancy spoke about seemed to me to be just what I needed to hear. I was shocked at times, just knowing that she MUST have been inside my house last week! Several times she said, "Honey, think back on last week. What was your attitude? How did you do?" and then she would say, "Well honey, start today. Becoming God's woman starts today!" I was reminded of Paul's exhortation in Philippians 3:13, 14, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Nancy began the day encouraging us to ask God how we could each arrange our lives in order to be more like the woman God wants us to be. And then, using the Word of God as our guide, we came up with checklists of what God desires in our lives.

Session 1 was a check list of what God desires of us in the church. 1 Timothy 3:14,15 and 2:1-15

The two things mentioned are:
  • Our Dress - there is proper clothing for women who make a claim to godliness. Am I wearing it? The word "propriety" or "shamefacedness" indicates that a woman's clothing is not to be the first thing you notice about her, not bold and out there. The word "decently" is connected with the idea of self-control or restraint. Do I have self-control in this area? Am I willing to hold back on wearing something if the Spirit of God convicts me about it? Is my emphasis on my inner spiritual life or always on my outer appearance? Also, at the end of verse 10, we see the second thing that woman are to put on - good works. I have never noticed that phrase before, but it really spoke to my heart to see it there. Nancy asked, "How familiar are you with the needs of others in the church?" This is God's desire for us as women in the church, that we would put on good works and meet the needs of others. Ephesians 2:10 says that God prepared those things for us before we were even saved.
  • Our Learning - we are to quietly receive instruction. Say to the Lord on Sunday morning, even if I've heard this passage taught on a million times, "Lord, teach me!" And 1 Timothy says "with all submission." Do I approach the teaching of the Word of God with a heart ready to submit to the Lord and confess any sin He reveals. Am I ready to leave the sin behind? And twice the passage mentions silence. This is sometimes hard for us women to swallow, but God tells us why right there. (1) Because of the order of creation, and (2) because Eve was deceived. God designed the order in the church to bring glory to Himself, and when we as women fall in line with His plan, it is a glory to Him! I want that! And the passage goes on to say that a woman's role or work is to be in her home raising her children. She is to CONTINUE there, in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. That verse just popped out at me...I so need those qualities on a daily basis around here!
So here is the checklist Nancy gave us for Becoming God's Woman
  1. My clothing - is it modest, discreet, characterized by good works?
  2. My learning - do I come on Sunday to LEARN? (i.e. not just fellowship!) Do I do it quietly?
  3. My homelife - am I raising godly offspring? Am I WORKING at it? Am I continuing in faith, love, holiness, with self-restraint?
I have been so motivated to pursue these things in my life, to look to the Word of God for what He desires of me, and to just seek after those things. Nancy was so quick to encourage us that, even if you don't find yourself doing these things, ask the Lord to help you make adjustments and arrange your life differently so you can...and then get to work! Start today!

Binkie Boy

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Why does potty training take so long? :)

Thought for the day:

If I wonder why something trying is allowed,
and press for prayer that it may be removed;
if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment,
and cannot go on in peace under any mystery,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

--Amy Carmichael, If

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Pics from the trip

We borrowed a friend's mini-van for the trip to Dallas so that my sister and Austin could ride along. The boys thought it was great fun, and since we had hours upon hours of time on our hands, I took a few pics of the excitement. Here's Ethan eating one of Lydia's no bake cookies...yum!

Don't forget Simon! What a mess!

And last but not least, my favorite shot of the weekend. The fly-away hair!

Many of you have asked about how our weekend went. It was such a nice time with my grandma. She was doing well, and was relieved that Grandpa had not suffered. We spent some time with my Uncle Stuart and his girlfriend Susan who graciously invited us all to dinner in their very beautiful home, and it meant a lot to Grandma that everyone came to support her. We continue to pray for Grandma that she would have a desire to be sure of her salvation, especially now that Grandpa is in eternity. I personally didn't get to talk to her much more than 5 minutes or so because of the kids, but I know that others in my family did. We will keep praying!

This morning I read this in Amy Carmichael's book If:

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection,
or lest the one concerned should say,
"You do not understand,"
or because I fear to lose
my reputation for kindness;
if I put my own good name before
the other's highest good,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Date Nights

We trade off Friday night date nights with our friends, and I thought I'd share a cute picture I captured one night when it was our turn to babysit.

Of course I was sitting across the living room with my feet propped up, sipping a mug of hot cocoa while my husband did all the work. Or feeding Simon a bottle. Or some other easy task. My husband is the best!

The coupon lady strikes again!

When I first learned how to coupon and bargain shop, I was overwhelmed with the vast quantity of coupons that I accumulated over just a few short weeks, just by getting one Sunday paper. Someone gave me the idea of using a binder to sort coupons into categories, and that kind of organization is EXACTLY my cup of tea. :)

Here is a picture of the binder I purchased at Walmart (yes, Walmart...and I'm proud to say that I haven't been there since! Doesn't that place give you a headache?)

Inside I have a pair of Lydia's scissors (yikes, I need to give those back to her!) for clipping coupons, my handy calculator, and all my dividers and pages of coupons.

I have divided the coupons into these categories:
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning Products
  • Toothpaste
  • Toiletries
  • Paper Products
  • Household
  • Baby Items
  • Medicine
  • Freezer
  • Baking Needs
  • Grains
  • Meat
  • Canned
  • Breakfast
  • Dairy Aisle
  • Snacks

Behind each divider, I placed a coupon clear plastic trading card protector sheets to house the coupons. This allows me to see what coupons I have as I am shopping.

That works for me! So now it's your turn. How do you organize your coupons?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We're back!...that was quick

We had a good weekend, and thanks for all your prayers and encouraging emails and comments. We're very tired from all the driving, and lack of sleep (Simon thinks he is a 6 week old or something!)...but we were so thankful to be able to go and spend time with Grandma and my parents. Thinking about someone dying without the Lord always makes me so thankful for my salvation, and the hope and security of it, knowing that my future is with Him. Let's live in the light of that today, shall we? We may not see tomorrow anyway!

I have to direct you to my friend Lynn's blog to read her post on the struggles of being a mom with young children at church. It's so encouraging! Just didn't want you to miss it!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

My Grandpa

I have a prayer request.  Today we got this email from my mom:

Grandpa Renes seems to be in his last days here on earth. He
has not eaten or drank anything for two days now. Hospice
nurses are with him in the Alzheimer's unit and according to
Uncle Stuart he is not responsive and is breathing erratically.
Please pray for Grandma. Love, Mom

Several months ago, after a surgical procedure, Grandpa became confused and
has never been the same since. He had to be placed in an Alzheimer's unit for
his own safety. Grandma has been living close by, and watching him deteriorate
has been difficult for her. As far as we know, Grandpa does not have a personal
relationship with the Lord, and we have all prayed for him and Grandma for years.
I remember as a child, wondering why they refused to believe the truth of the
Bible. When my dad got saved in college, he was very open with them about his
new beliefs, and they have definitely heard the truth. Pray for my dad, as he
watches his father pass away. And pray for Grandma, that she would think about
eternal things.

I am thinking of this verse in 2 Peter 3:9, which says,

"The Lord is not slack
concerning His promise,
as some count slackness,
but is longsuffering toward us,
not willing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance."
update:  Grandpa Renes died at 5:30 pm this evening.  We will be traveling to Dallas
to be with Grandma, so pray for us!