"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6

Monday, July 28, 2014

Declan's birthday

July 17 was Declan's 2nd birthday!!! We had a birthday party for him a few days before, so it was pretty low key with just our family on his special day.
Our big boy is 34.1 pounds and 3 feet tall!  Declan is a DELIGHTFUL child and such a joy.  He loves to be just like his daddy.  He loves protecting his little sister and trying to copy his big sister.  He is always trying to wrestle with Colt, so I'm sure they will be best friends one day soon.  Declan is a sweet sweet boy and recently has started to talk a lot so it is fun to see his personality come out even more.  We are so thankful for him!

It started out with breakfast at Joe's Farmgrill with a special date with Daddy!
Chocolate Milk for the birthday boy!
Blowing out candles on his French toast sticks
After breakfast Raelynn gave Declan her gifts.  She chose some things for him all by herself and she was so excited to give them to him.  She specifically requested that we go to Target to shop.  She chose a puzzle, a ball, a fish card game, and little goldfish snack.  She knows what he likes!!
Then we all went to Toys R Us for Declan to choose a gift.  I signed the kids up for their birthday club and they send a $5 gift card to them on their birthday.  Pretty awesome! 
He chose a new ball--no surprise there!
After our shopping trip we came home to get our bathing suits on and went to Someburros for lunch.  We thought it was $10 off, but FYI it is only one free menu item! 
We went to Perry High School Pool and it was so fun! It is really shallow for the kids and there is a splash pad there, too.  We stayed for almost two hours!

Before we left for dinner, we said good-bye to our three Elmo balloons! A good way for us to get rid of them before the helium was gone.  I was ready for them to leave our house:)
For dinner, Aunt Marissa met us at Joe's BBQ and we gave Declan his gifts.....Sunglasses and Thomas trains!

Stoked about his new toys
Finished off a busy day with dessert at Liberty Market.  The big man blew out his candles and we sang to him one last time.  What a great day!
This one is funny because I was telling Declan to open his eyes and instead he shut them real tight, hah!

Project 52: July 6-12

Sunday Snapshot:
What is Colt doing on the bench!?!  He is getting way too big!  Declan had brought his little chair over to the bench and plopped right down, so we went with it and made it time for a picture!  I love this second picture because Declan is smiling at Colt playing with his head:)

Someone thinks she is a big girl!! Raelynn and Declan always stand up on this ledge and have us look at them.  Now Elliana has joined in, too!
She thought she was so big because she could touch the roof too! She can't quite hang and swing from it like her big brother and sister though.

Colt moved from oatmeal and cereal to vegetables.  He loves avocado!

Colt got his first hair cut this week.  His hairs in front were reaching past his eyebrows in some areas so I just trimmed them a bit.

Wiggle Worms this week was so fun! The kids love pulling each other on this scooter.

The twins.  I love this picture.  I had recently been looking back through pictures and realized they had always been together.  But instead of us propping them up with bottles next to each other, now they choose to be together.  They have so much fun together.

Captured a great smile of this beauty!

Those moments I don't want to forget.  Those moments that I will miss.  Those moments that will go away too soon.....

They ALL wanted to hold my hand walking down the stairs.  I had Colt in one arm and three toddler hands on my fingers.  :)
Friday for Swim and Din we went to Chick Fil A for Cow Appreciation Day.  We got our food to go and went swimming after!

Made: Quiet Book

I added three more pages to the quiet book!

I love the way it is coming together.  SO incredibly easy!!

I have put them in a binder.  Only problem with that is the pages are a little bigger than what a piece of paper would be so it doesn't fit perfect.  I also will have to change to a bigger binder (this one is only a one inch binder) as I add more pages. 

Lacing Page:
I cut two rectangles and cut little slits along one side.  Used hot glue to secure on one side and used a lace from another lacing toy we had.
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Flower Page:

This is an idea I found online.  I pretty much copied it exact.  I eye-balled it and drew my own outline for the flower.  Glued numbers to each petal and then traced around each petal so there is an outline on the white page.

I cut a little curve in the bottom of each petal to help fit around the circle nice and tight.  The pink pot at the bottom is hot glued all around the sides and bottom edges, but the top is open so the petals can go inside.  I later added Velcro to the back of the petals.  The nice thing about this is it doesn't have to go in numerical order for it to still be a fun quiet activity, but it will help the learning of that!

Build an Ice Cream Cone:

I have seen this idea for pages before, so this was a copied one too.  Again, I just eye balled the cone and scoops of ice cream.  Cut, glued, and added Velcro. 
Later, I plan to add numbers to the scoops so they will go in order.  Or I was thinking even little dots so the kids will count the dots and put them in order that way.  But they aren't ready for that yet!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Mommy Minute: July 24

Hi friend,
There are more posts here than usual because they are all so good.  I hope you are finding joy in your full hands this week.  In your busy homes and in the moments that are repeated day after day.  Allow those moments to turn your heart to worship our God who has seen fit to fill your days with them.

"I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.  Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable." Psalm 145:1-3

A Mom's Battle Cry for Perseverance by Heidi Jo Fulk at True Woman
Her days sound A LOT like mine!

Our Children, Our Neighbors by Jen Wilkin
Oh, this one is SO good!!! Something I have been thinking about lately and she puts it so well.
"It is true that our children are God-given responsibilities we are to steward. But we will only steward them as we should by remembering that, first and foremost, our children are people we are to treasure. When we treasure our children as our neighbors, we remove from our discipline any hint of condemnation, shame or contempt. We alter our language to communicate love and value, even when we must speak words of correction. And we replace our prayers of “please fix my frustrating child” with prayers of “please help me to love the little neighbor You have placed in my home, even as You have loved me.”

Eek! Whose Children Are These? by Erin Davis at True Woman
A good reminder what an important role we have and how we need to step it up and not hide our head in the sand in the hard times.
Help Wanted: Looking for Someone to Make My Kids Love the Bible by Jessica Thompson at Crossway  "Why do we expect our children to be any different than we are?"

 When You Are Tightly Wound by Kate Baer
Love this quote: “Isn’t it funny how parenting works out? It’s just so loud, even when they are asleep. You can never turn parenting off. It’s a good thing it’s what we always wanted, isn’t it?”

Reversing the Downhill Trend of Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss at True Woman

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Do Not Fear

***I will preface this post with this:
I've had this drafted for a while and have been too fearful (go figure!) to publish it.  But recently I have had several things happen that I believe is providence and encouragement to publish this.  I know I'm not the only one who struggles.  And I'm not going to pretend I don't.  God is glorified though my weaknesses. I find so much encouragement others and we are called to encourage one another.  I know I'm not a good writer and that's why I wouldn't say I'm a 'blogger' by any means.  But I do have thoughts swarming in my head and I want to help build up other moms through these words on the screen--even if they are full of grammatical errors, lack proper transitions, and are completely inadequate. I am not one who is very wise and I am not one who is very experienced.  Though having four children, I've only been at this for just over three years.  I'm learning as I go and what I write is a result. 
'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Fear.  A four letter word that I didn't think I really struggled with in my life.  I trust God, I'm not one that I would consider really "scared" of anything (unless of course there is a closet door cracked just far enough for an eye ball to be peering out.  That I do not like!). I am aware that I must keep careful watch on my anxiety prone heart, but overall, I full rest in God's sovereignty and control.

Anger.  Another word that I didn't think I struggled with.  But wow, looking back over my life I see it has always been there.  Anger is an ugly sin and can be disguised and show it's ugliness in many ways.

My children are a blessing to me for many reasons.  One of the reasons is they bring me great JOY.  Another reason though, is they lead me to great repentance.  They are the instruments God has given to me in my life to reveal my sin to me.  Unfortunately not only is it revealed to me, but also to those that I love.  The ones that are dearest to me are the ones who are harmed the most.

My anger is put on display as I crush the spirits of my children.  I can rejoice that God is showing me more about the root of it.  By God's grace I am able to put off the old man and become more like Him.  It is a process that takes time and through it God reveals more of Himself to me as He conforms me to the likeness of Christ.  Oh, that's called sanctification.

I thought I was angry because I want control.
I thought I was angry because I'm selfish.
I thought I was angry because I'm impatient.

But I'm seeing there is a deeper cause for this sinful anger.


I am learning that a root of my anger is I am fearful.  I don't think I would have ever correlated the two.  Fear shows up in ways I was not expecting. Fear is driving my anger, which also leads into the desire to control.  It leads me to impatience.  

Now, hear loud and clear, fear is not the only cause.  My pride and lack of self control are just as big of a factor in my outpouring of anger, but recognizing that it can stem from fear is helping me overcome it.

My kids are standing and jumping on something, I yell for them to get down. I'm fearful they will get hurt.
My son is taking too long to get in his car seat.  I cut him down with my words because fear is driving my thought that we may be late.
My kids are playing happily but I get angry and take away their fun because I don't want them to wake the baby.  I'm fearful that I will be interrupted in what I'm trying to accomplish during his nap.
My daughter is so hungry for attention she will act like a fool to get it. She will do anything to get people to look at her and smile or laugh. I am not gentle with my words to correct her and instruct her. I'm fearful she will turn to worldly things and men for attention.
My child lacks self control in the little things. I'm fearful she will lack self control in the big things later in life.
My child constantly wants things she doesn't have. I fear she is discontent and will grow up to be jealous of those around her.

In all the above situations, my lack of self control has vomited out of my mouth the sinfulness of what is in my heart.  Lack of self control is a whole different topic, one which would make this far too long to read.  I want to focus on the fear.

I'm fearful of the present, but moreover I am fearful if the future.  Things that could happen in the next five minutes, five years, or fifteen years. But the future is not in my hands and the fear in me only displays the worry and lack of trust I have.

There are two types of worry: spiritual and material.  earthly and heavenly.
I do not struggle with fear of earthly things. I know God will provide and I know He will care for me and my family. 
It's the spiritual fear I struggle with. It is a temptation to idolize the salvation of my children. Yes, it is something I should and need to care about and be concerned with. Yes it is something I should be on my knees in prayer for pleading with The Lord to save them. It is something I should desire to see, but I am commanded not to worry about it.
In the childish and often foolish behavior they show, I see the sins of my children on display and it scares me.  It brings me great fear that I see the same sin that I struggle with or had struggled with before God saved me. Seeing the sin in them angers me.  why? Maybe it is because I forget they are fallen and sinful. I think it is partly that, but more so that I fear them living their life in sin and apart from Christ. Sometimes the sin of our children is a mirror back to us. Either a mirror to the current sin we struggle with or a look into our past. 

Why do I say no to my children's requests? As I ponder this I realize that often the requests are harmless, yet I in fear say no.  Being free from this fear would make life more joyful!  And the good news is that as a child of God, I AM FREE from this fear! I have all I need for life and godliness! (2 Peter 1:3) But there is still a struggle. Worry is a sin and stems from a lack of true understanding of God.  God offers worry free living, but we must understand the promises and purposes of God in order to have a worry free life. A life free of fear.

Scripture tells me in 2 Timothy 1:7,  "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." I need to remember that when I am fearful it is because I am leaning on my own flesh and strength, because that does not come from God.

Why do I fear the future for my children? Maybe because I know how I fail daily to properly love and train them.
Why do I live as if God's grace will run out? I am a living testimony of the work God can do in a heart and the transformation it can have on a life. 
Why do I fear God will hold that back from my children? I know that God knows who his elected children are, and I can pray my children are among the chosen. But worry and fear of the future will not add their names to the book of life. God is still in the business of saving souls and instead of me worrying about them, I need to focus more on the character of God, reflect Him to my children, and trust my heavenly father.

I want so badly to control my children's salvation, when in all reality I should be so thankful that I'm NOT in control of it because I'd be certain to mess it up and fail!! Praise God he uses us broken vessels and fallen people as part of the plan but that the control rests in His hands.

And apparently it isn't going to get easier as my kids get older.  My friend Wendy writes some wisdom and shares her personal story at re:flect-I.
So what am I to do?  None of these will cure anger.  It is a process.  Recognizing that the anger may stem from fear is a starting point.  Though it is a work of the Holy Spirit in me, Scripture tells me that I must work out my salvation as well.

"So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling" Phil 2:12

Trust in His promises:
"So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." 1 Cor 3:7

Raise my arrows:
"Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

For their salvation, for our patience, for joy in the mundane, for wisdom.
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him." James 1:3

Be Humble, Repent, and Ask for forgiveness:
Something that we are commanded to do and makes a noticeable difference is to truly humble myself and ask for forgiveness from my child--or even all of them at the same time.  I know my heart is only humbled by the work of the Holy Spirit, so I must be willing to be molded and humbled.  My children are always so quick to forgive.  It's amazing how it works almost as a reset button--if I am proud and do not seek their forgiveness, it is like I enter in a downward spiral and it continues.  The opposite is also true--when fellowship is restored and sin is confessed and forgiven, we can continue on in joy.  It is a beautiful thing.
"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you."  1 Peter 5:6-7

Put off worry, anger, and impatience:
Be willing to be molded.  Pray to see sin and recognize it. Remember who is in control. Am I getting angry over something that really matters? Am I impatient because we really need to go somewhere or just because I'm always in a rush? Slow down and enjoy life with my children. Laugh. Give a gentle answer. Trust in Him.

Put on love, mercy, grace, and kindness
 Reflect Christ in all I do and point them to Him. When I imitate Christ, He will be glorified as they are pointed to Him. And when I fail to imitate Christ, because I will, I will humble myself, ask forgiveness, and repent. In that He will also be glorified as that points them to Him.
As moms we need to get past the point of trying to be perfect for our kids--instead we need to let them see how imperfect we are as we point them to the One who humbled himself all the way to death on a cross for us.
Memorize scripture
Both verses that will help put on and put off.  If God's word is hidden in my heart, I can stop the fear inside me before it erupts into anger and a loss of self control.
"I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Psalm 119:11

Monday, July 21, 2014

Project 52: what should be the real week 52:)

June 29-July 5, 2014
We made it! One year of "project 52" complete! I started this last year on July 4 after Elliana was home.  It was a way for me to intentionally get my camera out and take a photo of each of the kids each week. (like I really need help with that, right?!) It evolved more over the last year of me documenting the fun every day moments of our life and a way for me to record our events and pictures. 
So, here we are at what should be week 52...so now I will start back at week 1! :) 
Sunday Snapshot:
All looking AND Declan smiling--this might just be a first!

Aunt Ashley and Uncle Kyle brought these BEAUTIFUL dresses back from Ethiopia from the girls.  They are extremely special to us, obviously.  And it will be so nice that Raelynn can pass hers to Elliana once she outgrows it. 

Say cheese! Elliana has really turned a corner with letting me do her hair! It has taken so much training and patience on both our efforts, but she is doing so well.  She knows when I have the squirt bottle in my hand that I'm going to do her hair.  She will lean her head over and sits still for me.  She did so well this time so I told her I would show her. I used my phone to reflect her picture at her and she got the biggest smile!
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Spending most of our evenings outside together! The kids are enjoying "popsicles" with water and fruit.
It's special to see my baby feeding the baby.  Elliana has definitely taken on the toddler role now and is no longer the baby!!  She kept pushing Colt's chin so he would look at her to eat.  :)
Something to remember....Elliana loves squeezing my nose because it makes my voice sound funny.  Her face is always so joyful when she does it and I don't want to forget it.  At night we pinch each others noses and say I love you:)

On Tuesday we loaded up and headed to California!!!

Road trip selfie is a must, right?!
We all LOVED the beach!! The kids had so much fun and loved the sand and water.
July 4, 2014--Happy Gotcha Day, Elliana!  I cannot believe it has been one year since Elliana's homecoming. We had a little cake and sang to Elliana before watching the fireworks on the beach.
We got breakfast on Cornado Island and then headed home.  It was such a fine time!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Project 52: week 52 x2

This is what should be week 51 in our Project 52...but like I said last week, somehow I got a bit off.  So we'll just call this the "extra week" :) 
June 22-29, 2014

Sunday Snapshot:
Sunday is pizza night!
Every Sunday night we make pizza as a family.  We use this pizza dough recipe.  I try to make it during the week in the bread machine or on Sunday afternoon.  We used to make only big pizzas, but recently we started cutting the dough ball in half and making one big one for mommy and daddy and three personal pizzas for the littles.
Don't have a bread machine? Here is a great recipe to try.
We love creating our pizza and feel so guiltless eating it--especially since I use some wheat flour in it
Mr. Blue Eyes is teething!!
How can I sweep the floor with three toddlers?!?!  Build a fort, of course:)
They liked walking around the outside then we had a picnic under!
Love the moments they all do something together.  And this held their attention for quite a while!

I used to not let the kids sit in this stroller in fear that it would break.  But they always play so well with it together and it is especially cute how they push each other around in it.  So one day I'm sure it will break.  But they will have made some fun memories in the mean time:)

"Mommy, we're going to Wal-Mart. Declan, you can walk next to me and hold my hand."

We enjoyed time at a splash pad with friends this week!

Even Colt enjoyed the water this time!