Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Parents, Let's Be Kind to Ourselves

Mamas and Daddies, do you take care of yourselves? If you're like most of the parents I know (including myself), you probably don't. You're always putting yourself last and those sweet babies first. Thinking of them above everything. It's certainly a noble cause.

You know how that makes you feel after awhile, though? Like old, chewed up gum, stuck on the bottom of someone's shoe. You don't see yourself as very important; those smiling, red cheeked, sometimes whiny little people are the ones who are important. But you know what? So are you! And I would like to propose that you can take care of them and take care of you, too!

It might take a little bit of planning, but it could take none at all. My kids got a whole box of brand, spanking new clothes for winter in the mail today. Of course, I didn't order myself anything (I don't think they make Gymboree in my size anyway), but that doesn't mean I have to sit here in my holey yoga pants and feel sorry for myself. I can go to my closet and find something I already have that makes me feel good about myself, go buy myself a little something new, or just put on some make up and fix my hair.

Sometimes, we just need to get moving! Find a yoga video on YouTube, pop in those dusty exercise DVDs, or go for a walk. I guarantee you'll feel better about yourself when you finish, even if you're a little sweaty.

Cut out the negative thoughts about yourself! I'm always telling my kiddos how smart they are, how handsome/beautiful, kind, but my thoughts about myself are far from the same. Remind yourself during the day how valuable you are to your family and friends, what a good parent you are, and how hard you work (outside and inside the home). Find verses from the Bible that talk about how valuable you are to God (John 3:16 and Psalm 139:14 come to mind immediately) and post them around your house, in your car, or on your work desk. Tell the devil to get out and make room for the Holy Spirit to encourage you and strengthen you.

Do something that makes you a little nervous (in a healthy way). Attempt something that sounds challenging, but exciting. I just applied for a job as a part time writing coach because while I don't get to use the academic part of my brain very much (and the thought of exercising that muscle gives me butterflies), doing something like helping parents and students learn to teach writing and write sounds like a perfect fit for me. And if it's not, I'm going to be proud of myself for taking the time to try. Apply for a job you really want to do, but haven't had the confidence to even approach. Get involved in a new group, hobby, or craft. Challenges can be exciting!

It's ok to take some time away by yourself, with friends, or with your other half, too. Call it a plug to share some of my pictures with you, but last weekend, Michael and I took some time for ourselves. The end of December is our 10 year anniversary and we wanted to do something special. We went back and forth about it because we (mostly me) felt guilty about leaving the kids and doing something extravagant. We don't often even go on dates, but after this weekend, I think we should really start!

We love being mom and dad, but it was nice to just be "us" for a couple of days. We missed our 3 babies like crazy, but we also enjoyed being together and doing something fun.

Take care of yourself today, parents. Be kind to yourselves, love who you are, and take care of you while you're taking care of others. I can bet you'll be better people and parents because of it!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Santa Claus-yum!

We decorated our tree this weekend, which was--as always--delightful!

I think the kids broke 2 or 3 ornaments and at least one of them got stabbed with an ornament hook; they hung bunches of ornaments together in one spot on the tree (which drives my somewhat OCD self bananas), and Grace decorated and undecorated the bottom part of the tree several times. But hey, what's tree decorating all about anyway, if not fun?

They definitely look more angelic in the soft glow of a couple hundred twinkling lights, though, don't you think?

In all seriousness, it's always fun to get into the Christmas mood when you have children. It was so sweet to watch Grace get the hang of decorating and hear her sweet little voice say, "Priii-ty!" every time she put an ornament on a branch. The boys wanted me to put on some Christmas music and they were all singing and dancing. I cherish evenings like that with my precious family.

Anyway, growing up, Christmas was a wonderful holiday at my house, but we didn't do much with Santa. It's not that my parents were all like, "Hey! Santa Claus isn't real, kid. The presents come from us, so don't be thinking some magical guy in a red suit is going to fly through the air with your presents on Christmas Eve." I just remember always kind of realizing that Santa was pretend. We watched movies with Santa and read stories with Santa in them, so we definitely weren't anti-Santa. Just neutral, I guess.

I know that some Christians are firmly in the anti-Santa camp, because they say what if they tell their children Santa is real and then they get older and realize he's not? What if they think mom and dad lied about Jesus being real as well?

When Kade was little, I remember telling Michael, "Let's not really do Santa. Let's keep the focus on Jesus" and I think I probably even told Kade once or twice, "Now, remember, Santa is just a fun story we talk about." If you think that's terrible, oh well. I was new at the parenting gig.

As the kids have gotten older, we have *ahem* kind of gotten more into the Santa thing. For some reason, Kade, all on his own, decided that he thought maybe Santa was real. What was I supposed to say? I didn't want to shoot him down and say, "No, he's not! Don't you remember? He's just pretend!" I think I just smiled and said, "Oh, do you?" Then, my parents took the boys to one of those Polar Express train experiences, where they got one of the bells from "Santa's sleigh" as a souvenir. They came home and kept testing me to see if I could hear the bell, too. So sue me! What's a mom to do? I had to play along! I would say, "No! I don't hear that bell at all. I think it's broken." They would smile sneakily at each other and say, "Oh, mom you must not believe anymore!"

Then, Michael (who didn't grow up in a neutral Santa house) got into the spirit of things. He found this app where you can have Santa "call" you and tell your children certain messages. He has Santa call the boys all year round. We now live in a fairly pro-Santa house. We still keep the focus on Jesus and giving but Santa is hanging out here, too. It's just another one of those issues as a parent where I have once again had to eat my own words. "We're not going to do Santa Claus!"  Yummy!

So what do you do with your children? Are you pro-Santa, neutral Santa, or anti-Santa? Share!


Sunday, November 20, 2016


Election season--and now post-election season--has been so fun to watch on social media (NOT). The only thing I am thankful for is for managing to stay out of the fray, not because I don't have an opinion, but because at this point in the game, no clever meme or even well-phrased argument is going to persuade someone with an opposite point of view from me to see things my way. It's just not happening, y'all. I've seen Christians arguing with other Christians, Christians being ugly or smart alecky to nonbelievers, and nonbelievers being ugly to Christians.

Which brings me to something I've been kind of holding close for awhile. I've had a tough time growing up the last several years. Yes, I know I'm way, way into adult life and have been married for almost 10 years and have 3 children, but I never felt like a grown up, with a weight of worldly experiences from the school of hard knocks. I never had bad experiences with people, definitely not anything that might leave me bitter. I've always had so many people in my life, from birth, who I felt treasured me and I treasured them as well. I always felt like I grew up in this really safe cocoon. I didn't really feel like a grown up adult.

 I've learned something in the last few years, though. I've kind of been forced out of that safe cocoon. I've realized that as an adult, other adults don't always make you feel treasured. They don't always watch out for your feelings or treat you with kid gloves--not even (and sometimes, especially) Christians. Now, you're probably thinking, "Really? You're just now figuring that out?" and the answer is yes.  I guess I should consider myself blessed that it took me this long. For awhile after I experienced some things that made me feel, let's say, not so treasured, I felt really jaded. I felt like blinders had been torn from my eyes and I didn't like it. Not one bit. I didn't feel so treasured anymore. I felt kind of distrusting toward people in general.

Now the question is, even if this is a common experience for everyone at some point, is it ok? I don't think it is. We are all treasures--to God and to each other--and we should treat each other as such. The apostles spent a large part of the New Testament admonishing the church to live in peace with each other, to love each other, to avoid controversy and arguments, and to take care of each other. Do we do that? Sheesh, we as Christians don't do that to each other, much less to unbelievers. Maybe we would be a much better witness to the world if we did, though.

Starting right now, you have a chance to treat everyone you encounter (face to face or online) as a treasure. We all have different gifts and talents, various callings, and unique perspectives to bring to the table. Each one of us was hand crafted by God. Even if you can't find one good quality in someone, even if every one of their opinions differs from yours, they are a treasure to God.

Ask God to give you His eyes today, so that you can see other people the ways He sees them. Then, ask Him to fill you with His love so that you can treat others as the treasures they are, even when it's hard. This world is our home, for now. Make a difference.



Thanksgiving is coming! We've been trying to make thankfulness the theme of our homeschool days this month. Our verse of the month (sometimes, when I feel really motivated, we do a verse every week, but often, we stretch it out) has been Psalm 107:1--"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Kade has been keeping a thankfulness journal and every day, he has to write about something he is thankful for and why. They have been very sweet.

I'm not going to pretend that every day, he says, "Oh yes, mom! I know exactly what I'm thankful for today!" because sometimes, he writhes around in his chair or on the floor, saying, "I don't know what to write!" in a very whiny voice. Sometimes, when he gets really aggravated (or just doesn't want to write), he says, "I don't have anything to be thankful for!" 

Don't we do this as adults? There are days that we think, "I don't have anything to be thankful for! Everything is all wrong. We want to writhe around in the floor or lay in bed with the covers over our heads because truly, it feels like everything is wrong. If we sat down and made a list of all the things we have to be thankful for at one time, I'll bet we'd be really surprised--and feel much more thankful. 

And sometimes, our children are more thankful than we realize--

I love this one! It's so simple, but I'm glad he doesn't take having food for granted.

I'm thankful that even on the days we don't feel thankful, God's love still endures forever. It's the same yesterday, today, and for all of eternity. His love doesn't ebb and flow with the times and seasons. It's certainly not some ooey, gooey feeling he gets by looking at us, our imperfections, our sins, and our ugliness. It's a fierce, protective love that wants to see all of us--because we were all created by Him and for Him--come to Him. It's a love that never gives up.

And that is really something to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Always Something...

I've thought many times about changing the name of this blog. I started "A New Thing" at a time in my life when my world was absolutely rocked by the birth of the most precious gift I never knew I wanted. Everything I thought I wanted in life changed. God did this crazy, wonderful new thing in me and I wrote--and WROTE--about it. He showed Himself in my life everyday, in a thousand, big and small, incredible ways. Despite my lack of trust or desire to control everything, He proved faithful to me.

Then, I had two more children and started homeschooling and dealt with some tough adult-ish things  and over time, that passion in me--for writing, for sharing my experiences with anyone--kind of waned. Most of you mothers know how it is. Sometimes, you get to a point where you almost feel like you've lost yourself. Either you pour everything you have into your children or if you work outside the home, your job and your children. Sometimes, the real you seems lost to fear and anxiety. Or maybe you're just too darn tired to care.

Then, you have a moment (or two) of crisis. You think, "Who am I?", "Do I even like who I am?" and "Who am I supposed to be?" I've had those moments this year and I'm still not exactly sure of the answers. I do know that God is at work in me, though. He knows exactly who I am when all I feel like is worn out mom. He's always wanting to do something new in me, if I'll let Him. I want to be here to tell you all about it and I'd love to hear how He's working in you, too. I don't have all the answers, but I know Who does. And I'm a good listener. :)

Stay tuned.