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6.28.2012

Giving Up On Good Again

"I have to do it all.
I can’t do any of it.
But Christ in me can." - Jessi from Naptime Diaries.
 
My friends ask me often, "What did you do with Amelia today?" They know I keep busy with her. But my answer is always something like, "Oh, I don't even know. We just kinda hung out. I didn't do much." It felt braggy to talk about it all.
 
So the other day I kept a mental list of all that I did. Everything from the morning diaper change and breakfast, to play time, to bath and bedtime. Not to mention chores and self care. Reality is, I do a lot. And I don't give myself credit. A bigger reality is that I can't do any of it well on my own anyway so Christ should get the credit. And Jessi hit that straight home for me today with her "Giving Up On Good" post. 
 
I'm confident of what the Lord wants me to be doing these days. The things I do daily are good. The fact that I don't recognize all that Christ is doing through me as I lean into Him is ridiculous though. As crazy as life has been lately, I've never felt closer to the Lord. BUT! I'm realizing more and more how much I still discredit the work He's doing right now as I learn about having to do it all. But not being able to. But realizing Christ can. And He's in me. So I can. Craaaazy!
 
This isn't the best thing I've ever written in my life. I just needed to say all that. I especially needed to reiterate those words written by Jessi and how much they just speak to my mommy soul. 
 
I'm giving up on my attempt at humbleness and embracing the fact that I actually do do it all. Because of Christ. So I'm still humble. :) Or something like that. 

6.26.2012

Waiting Without Complaining

"Rejoice in our confident hope. 
Be patient in trouble and keep praying."
Romans 12:12 {italics mine}

As far as life has gone for us recently, it's been pretty darn pleasant! We are having a blast watching Amelia learn and grow. Danny has steady work which means we have a fairly steady income. I've been a stay-at-home mom for over a year now and I still love it. Things are just going well. 

But of course, because I am who I am aka human, there's another side to it all. Today's scripture {see above, Romans 12:12} for the reading plan I am doing this month hit me square in the forehead. Now, I'm not saying we have "trouble" in our lives right now. We really don't. There's trouble in my heart though. And I know I don't pray about it enough. 

In all the loveliness around me, I'm finding myself impatient about a few things...

Like moving.
On August 24th, we're moving from our apartment {which we've lived in for over three years} into the bottom story of our friend's home. We are VERY EXCITED about this. The space we'll be living in is bigger than our current place. Not to mention the money we are going to save so that we can buy our own house next year!! But you see, it's still two months away. We have started sorting and packing all of our stuff. We may live in a small place. But dang, we have some stuff! Photos are off the walls. Decor is down. It's all in boxes and walls are bare, which I already said. I really love my photos, can you tell?. Suddenly, I feel like I'm living in a box... not my home. The thing is, nothing compares to the time spent here as a family. The walls may be empty and stuff may be stacked all around. But Danny and I have some awesome memories in this place. We were just newlyweds when we moved in. As we move out three years older, three more years into marriage, two job changes, and a child later... we see the way God has walked with us and grown us.

Then there's baby.
This is me when I was 26 weeks pregnant with Amelia. The ultrasound, taken at 18 weeks 2 days, told us we were having a girl! And on the date my midwife told me I was due, our little bug, Amelia was born. I have not been on a more challenging journey than motherhood. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a mommy. But oh man, there's been days and nights when I didn't think I could go on. Weeks after Amelia's birth, I certainly remember saying that I didn't even want more children {difficult labor and delivery paired with the natural exhaustion of having a newborn did the trick}. Just like everyone said would happen, I eventually decided that I do want more children. At least three more. Some days I wonder if I could be a mom to four {or more if that is God's plan}. Really, I don't think I can. Today for example, has been an off day. Amelia had a few moments of crazy emotions and so did I. My knee-jerk reactions on these off days remind me of how much I need Christ. When I cling tight to Him, I am assured that I can be a mom to four. I've made it this far, right? It's only by His grace! All that to say, I'm ready for the journey of having two kiddos. Danny is not. And so I wait. I don't think that needs much more explaining.

Another thing: Danny's job situation.
I promise you that you will never meet a man more dedicated to serving people than this guy. It's totally his heart. And he carries that into his job well. His customers love him. The only thing is that in the sales world {especially commission based sales}, you can't be super concerned about people. All that matters is that you meet your goals by selling the product. Therefore, you make money and you make your boss money. Of course, when you don't make your goals, higher ups get irritated. They want their cut because they have lifestyles to uphold. Danny's manager told him one day in an effort to motivate his sales, "I see your paycheck. I see what you make in a month. Honestly, I don't know how you support a family off that. Once you get that first big commission check, you won't settle for anything less." Danny has NEVER been driven by money. You're talking about a man who watched his Master-degree-holding-career-driven father immigrate their family of six from Brasil to America for better opportunities only to deliver pizzas. Danny has seen the hand of God throughout his whole life. He's always had a solid faith that no matter what, God will provide. Guess what? He has! This guy is driven by faith and his family. He is a hard worker in a job that he doesn't really like. But he does it to the glory of God. He also does it for his girls. As his wife, I want nothing more than to see Danny in a career that he loves and feels secure in. We know he is capable of many great things. This guy got a bachelors degree in Biology for the fun of it. He wanted to be a doctor, a veterinarian, or forensic investigator. He chose marriage and family first. I praise God that He has provided so faithfully for us through Danny's hard work. But I get impatient as I see my husband come home frustrated about his job, knowing he could do so much more. The hardest part is knowing where to go from here and how to best support my husband. By the way, isn't he handsome??

Wow. Do I have some praying to do or what? It's a wild ride, no doubt. I'm impatient, you know it. But I'm truly excited for the way God is growing me through this journey. As Cindy Beall puts it in her devotional, "You see, it's in those days, months and years of waiting where we start to look a lot more like Christ. A good friend of mine describes patience as 'waiting without complaining.'"

What things are you finding yourself impatient about? 
What are you learning as you go through this time?

6.22.2012

InstaFriday

Our little phone cameras see a lot of life throughout the week, don't they!? Here's a look into our last week.

I'm linking up with Jeannett!



I have finally begun to let go of "baby Amelia" and embrace the "toddler Amelia". This means lots more crafts and activities and mess throughout our day! This week, she enjoyed stringing beads onto pipe cleaners. Her coordination is quite impressive.
 

On Saturday, Amelia and I drove with Jason, Jessie, and Tim up to Battleground, WA (about 40 minutes north of our hometown). Our friends, Brandon and Karrie, hosted a yummy BBQ. We had a great time visiting with some of our dearest friends. We do youth ministry with all of them through out the school year. Now that summer is here, it's nice to just hang out with no agenda. Just great fellowship!


 See what I mean? This kid loves her beading. And her Dada. While I got ready for church on Sunday morning, Dada made bracelets and necklaces with Amelia (such a stud, he is). Best daddy ever, right?


Amelia has been loving Elmo lately. So after church while I took care of the strawberries (see next photo), she watched some Elmo. This may sound silly but it was the first time I sat her down in front of the TV and didn't feel guilty. I never want the TV to be a babysitter. But hey, 40 minutes of a toddler sitting still. That's huge! I'll take it. No mommy guilt here. For now.


Delicious looking, right? These bad boys are farm fresh berries that were prepared for my first ever canning experience. They are sitting frozen in our freezer now, just waiting while I find time and build up the courage to try canning. I'm thinking in the next few days I'll get to it. They were SO yummy though!


On Sunday evening, we had a great dinner at our pastor's home. Alan and Jill are some of the most loving and generous people we know. Amelia adores Mr. Alan. He played with her for a solid 40 minutes! We had great conversation and left feeling very blessed.


As a Father's Day celebration a day late we enjoyed a family breakfast date at Heidi's. It's our favorite place to go for two reasons: 1. The food is so yummy and inexpensive! and 2. There's an elderly waitress that we love to visit. She knows us by name and we have "our seat" in her section. The second booth on the left when you first walk in. :) The waitresses adore Amelia. She gets coloring stuff, plastic animals, and juice! We loved celebrating the most amazing man we know. He's so loving. Danny works really hard for his girls. We couldn't say enough words to express how blessed we are by him!


After our breakfast date, Danny let me spend time doing crafts! What a blast that was! I rarely do stuff like this anymore because it's a lot to handle while you chase a 16 month old. Thanks to Pinterest tutorials I made a canvas print using one of Amelia's photos from our family shoot with Anthem Photography back in April. I made an "I love you because..." noteboard. And then WE (that's right... Danny helped me) made alphabet magnets from the lids of baby jars and foam letters. Amelia loves them! She even knows which letter is "A". Smarty pants.


On Tuesday, I hung out with Annika (aka "Ka" if you're Amelia). Then we took Amelia to Bruce and Starla's house (Annika's parents). These are two people we love very much. And more importantly, they love Amelia as if she was their own grandchild. They babysat her every Tuesday this last school year so I could still serve in our church's high school youth group. Naturally, they have grown to enjoy their time with Amelia quite a bit. After a two week break since youth group got done for the summer, they were super excited when I asked if they could watch Amelia while I had my first bible study with Jessie and Linda (we're doing Breaking Free by Beth Moore this summer!). Lots of book reading, giggles, and games on the iPad followed. 


We went to the park with Jessie on Wednesday! Mama got sunburned. The park was quiet since we went around noon. That was perfect for Amelia! She roamed all over the play structure, eventually settling at the slide. Going up and down. We made a quick stop at Target where I got her these SUPER CUTE glasses. For only $1. Thankfully we got home before it got too hot! I love Oregon. I do not love that it's 60 degrees and raining one day. Then the next day it's 83 degrees and sunny! We need time to adjust! end rant


I went to the doctor on Thursday morning because I woke up with a sharp pain in my sternum. Turns out I have costochondritis. Cool sounding, not cool feeling. Basically I sprained my sternum. The doctor didn't give a real reason as to how I did such a thing. But I did and there it is. Danny took the day off since doctor's orders were, "Put your feet up and watch Netflix!" They say, with rest and such, it should be healed up in 72 hours. SO! Danny is home until Monday. Family days FTW! I'm still hurting a bit. But my feet are up and I'm going to enjoy the relaxation as best as I can. I also started the newest #SheReadsTruth study, Living the Surrendered Life on the YouVersion Bible app for iPhone. 
I think God is trying to teach me something... Breaking Free, Surrendered Life, "depend on Husband for a few days while you kick back and heal". This next week should be interesting and growing as I don't do "surrender" well.

What did your week-in-photos look like? Link up with Jeannett and comment here to let me know you did! I want to see your InstaFriday. :)

6.16.2012

Coffee Date {Slight Chaos}

If we were to have coffee together, I would first apologize that I'm a day late. But our day was super busy yesterday! We would be sitting in my living room where there's laundry piled on the couch. The floor is crumby and needing a good vacuuming. But there's worship music playing and a toddler running around who actually just requested her music (Toddler Radio on Pandora). She's a busy girl at 16 months old. She loves coloring with markers. She usually colors on her paper but she has recently discovered that her body is fun to color on. And her kid table. And our recliner. It's super washable though, thank goodness. Her bum is covered in marker since she runs around half nakey (we're doing some potty learning these days). How marker gets there, I'm not even sure.

If we were sitting here in my living room, I would be wanting to share so badly about all the things God is doing in my heart. But I would be hesitant. It's hard to share anything anymore when I'm so distracted by my bundle of joy, Amelia. I would tell you that it's nice to be able to go out for coffee while Amelia spends time with her Daddy. It's easier to share in those moments. But Danny works a lot.

I would want to share about how I'm feeling less fearful as I trust the Lord more. I would want to tell you about #SheReadsTruth and how these women have been such a huge inspiration to me this last month. I would want to tell you that I've read my Bible more in the last month than I have in the last year.

I would want to keep chatting but Amelia would be climbing on me, asking me to read her a book. I would tell you how I can't wait to have coffee together again. I would keep talking because inside, I am thinking how nice it is to have some kind of adult conversation. But that thought would get interrupted as Amelia climbs onto her craft table and takes a seat. I would say my goodbyes. And you guessed it, keep talking. But Amelia would climb on the couch, all over the laundry, and into the window sill to hang out with our cat and to see outside. Did I mention how she would be in just a t-shirt and leg warmers, no diaper?

I would finally say goodbye for reals and apologize that it was a little chaotic here. I'd close the door and begin my full day, excited for when we could talk some more. Even if it would be another short, interrupted, and uneven conversation. That's life with a little one.

 I'm linking up late with Alissa over at Rags To Stitches. :)


6.14.2012

Keep Dating ♥


engaged us. August 2006.
Early September of 2004, Danny and I had our first date after being best friends for nearly two years. It was fun and casual. We saw a movie and grabbed a bite to eat. I was 16, he was 18. Such kids, right? :)

We have never been the type to go on extravagant dates. The fanciest thing we ever did was when we celebrated our first anniversary. We dressed up. I wore white, of course. Dinner was in downtown Portland at the amazing Urban Fondue. We reminisced about our first year. Then we drove to The View Point Inn for a romantic overnight stay in the Columbia Gorge! It was great. But if I must be honest, that wasn't my favorite date in the history of our dates. And we dated a while (almost four years before we got married). Heck, we are still dating! ;)

The best dates are casual, inexpensive, in the middle of everyday chaos. I've only grown to know this well since becoming a mommy to our 16 month old cutie, Amelia. Who knew your dating life would take such a toll after becoming parents! (I know, duh...) We had to get creative when she was a tiny baby. It would be midnight and she would finally be asleep! So we would grab a bowl of ice cream and watch our favorite show on Netflix.

Some of my fondest date memories are from our more recent last minute date ideas. A cup of coffee, talking about us, minimal "parent" talk, and playing footsie under the table. It's all wonderful and so refreshing.

love love love him!

It has taken time but we finally see why it is so important to keep dating each other. Even after "I dos", babies, and chaotic life. We have a "Date Night" envelope in our cash spending plan. There was one month recently where we went on a date once a week for the whole month! It was amazing!! But we do have the challenge of not being able to have a babysitter that often every month. We date as much as we can.

And on every date, I feel like that 16 year old girl again. Just sharing life with her best friend.






6.10.2012

Something Far Better

About two months ago, I wrote a post sharing our plan for the next year as we prepare to buy our first home. It was a good plan. We were excited and felt confident about our decision to live with Danny's parents for a few months. Shortly after posting that plan, I had a conversation with a dear friend and sister. It threw our plan into a screeching halt and made us wonder if it was wise to go forth. Within our family, there were concerns brought to our attention. We felt quite a bit of tension amongst these people. The last thing we wanted to do was cause any kind of division in our family. So the day after that conversation, I sat down with Danny to tell him how I had come up with an idea on what it would like to stay in our apartment for a longer period of time while we saved. It could work but it would be a while before we could purchase a home. As I started to share he said, "Wait. I have something I need to talk to you about first." Danny went on to tell me how our friend, David, had called him during his lunch break to tell Danny how they (David and his wife, Lindsey) wanted to have dinner and talk over the possibility of us living with them. They knew very little about our situation, only that we had planned to live with Danny's parents, that it was up in the air now, and that we were praying about other options. They recently bought a home and did lots of beautiful work to it. It is much larger than what they need in this stage of their life and they wanted to share the space with someone from church. Danny told David, "You have no idea the timing of this phone call." This was not even twenty-four hours after the conversation with my sister-in-law. It was very evident to us that we had a lot of praying to do. Not to mention some relationships to mend, conversations to have, and wise counsel to seek.

For a solid two weeks, we prayed about the following living situations:
1. Living with Mom and Dad.
2. Living in our apartment.
3. Living with David and Lindsey.

Through many conversations and even more prayer, conflict was resolved and concerns were addressed within our family. In sharing with close friends and family, we received positive feedback about living with David and Lindsey. We were realizing quick that all of our options were good ones. They all lead to us buying a home. Some required more faith in the area of finances. Others required more faith in the area of relationships and family. One of our dearest friends and our community group leader, Jay, said a prayer one night that rocked my thinking about all of this. He said, "Lord, if You don't care which plan they choose since You have provided all three of these options, help Danny and Shelia to choose the best one for them." It was no longer, "Which plan is right or wrong?" It was simply, "What's best for us?" We had our mind made up pretty quickly after that. But we still needed to talk details with David and Lindsey.

So we did just that! WOW! The conversation was relatively short but so affirming. It was undeniably obvious that God had already begun weaving this situation together. Many of the concerns they brought up were ones that Danny and I had already talked about amongst ourselves. And our conclusions were the same. The most amazing part was that the amount they asked us to pay for rent/utilities was exactly what we figured we could afford while still being able to meet our savings goals. At the end of our conversation, it was agreed that our family living with them would work out and that it would be hard but totally worth it. :)

As I've thought about all of this, the following verse came to mind:

"We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
   but God's purpose prevails." Proverbs 19:21, The Message

Over and over again in our life, we have made plans. They have been good plans, even God honoring. We have prayed about them and felt confident that we were in His will. Then at the eleventh hour, our perfect Provider comes in and says, "MY Child, I have something far better. Trust Me." I just love that! We went from this idea of living with the parents, renting 2 bedrooms, and sharing all rest of the house (i.e. hardly any personal space). Along with that, we would have had to pay at least $100/month for a storage unit. At David and Lindsey's, we will have a basement space larger than our current apartment! It has two bedrooms, a bathroom, the shared laundry room, and a super wide open living area with a little bar area off of it (which we're going to use as a "kitchenette"). We have a sliding glass door to a cute backyard (kiddie pool anyone?). We have a fireplace mantle to decorate (yes... I'm more excited about the mantle than the actual fireplace). Along with the laundry room of course, the only "shared space" will be the upstairs kitchen. OH! And we can store stuff in their attic! Another blessing is that David and Lindsey are flexible with how long we stay. So there's no pressure to move out by a certain date. Of course, we have goals of when we want to move out by. We don't want to be squatters! ;)

So now, we think the plan is this:

June - Deposit $100 into our matched savings account through Portland Housing Center (get matched $300). We have already deposited $200 into our IDA account. Begin sorting and packing this place. I'm so not excited to pack!

July - Deposit $100 (get matched $300). Continue sorting and packing. Celebrate my 24th birthday! ;)

August - Deposit $100 (get matched $300). Begin putting things into our attic storage. Begin preparations for a moving sale in our apartment. Move all of our needed belongings into our basement home. Have an awesome sale. Clean the apartment. And the first BEST part of it all... tell these guys at this not awesome apartment complex, "See ya, suckers!" BOOM! the second BEST part is beginning the "trying to conceive" conversation. Oh yes. ;)

September through May 2013 - Deposit $167 monthly (get matched $501-ish monthly). Save at least $400/month into our own personal savings. Continue paying down my student loan. We want to pay it off so badly but we feel like a larger amount into our savings will be wiser as we move into our own home. Celebrate Danny's 27th birthday and Amelia's 2nd birthday! Depending on our tax return for next spring, we might throw a large amount of that towards my loan. Begin searching for a home to buy. Maybe get pregnant?!?!

May-June 2013 - Continue searching for a home to buy. Buy a HOUSE!! A house. Our first home. OURS. Not an apartment. Our very own love nest. Of course, this is subject to be later in the summer as we can't predict the housing market. Nor can we say that we will find OUR house right away. This is why a flexible move-out date was such a huge blessing.

Danny and I have thanked God over and over again for the generosity of David and Lindsey. It will be a challenge no doubt living with another family. But we all feel so confident that God is weaving this together. We are really excited to see how our friendship with David and Lindsey develops as we embark on this journey.

And if you feel so led, pray with us in the coming year. Pray that we remain focused on our savings goals, that we may keep open lines of communication with our housemates and each other, that any conflict would be resolved immediately, that the Lord would bless David and Lindsey for their generosity, that we would continue to be open to the Lord's plan and re-direction (if necessary), that we would find a lovely home, and that this future home of ours would be a place of refreshment for all who enter from day one!

6.09.2012

Amelia Went Potty... Now What?

For the last two months, Amelia has been really interested in the potty. She will occasionally tell us when she's wet by saying "meh-me" (messy) or "bye-per" (diaper) while handing us a clean diaper and laying on the floor. She will also randomly sit on her potty while fully clothed. Lastly, we have started having her sit on the potty in her birthday suit right before bath time.

"YAY!"
Tonight she sat on the potty off and on for an hour! She wanted to read books and sit. So that is all we did. She even moved her potty to the kitchen, sat down, and played with her fridge magnets. Then she moved her potty back to the bathroom. At several points I could tell she needed to poop. She would grunt and all that. After she moved her potty back to the bathroom I asked her if she wanted to take a bath. She said, "No no. Book-uh (book)!" and promptly plopped herself on the potty while handing me a book. I started to read and she peed!! She also tooted so I for sure thought it would be the full thing. But she seemed almost startled as she realized she was peeing. So she very quickly stood up and said, "Meh-me! (messy)" over and over again. I assured Amelia it was ok because the "mess" was in her big girl potty. We did this for about ten more minutes before I finally put her in the tub.

I guess I'm wondering what all of this means?! And how we should proceed. Amelia is not even 16 months old yet. So I would think she's too young for potty training. But she clearly has an interest in learning! I've read a few things about "signs of readiness". She definitely shows a lot of the signs. It just seems too soon...


I'm interested in some feedback. What are your experiences with your toddlers and the potty? Another thing: what's the difference between "potty learning" and "potty training"?