Monday, May 23, 2011

Married for Holiness

The hubby and I were fortunate enough to go on a marriage retreat this weekend.  We were so excited about it.  If I can be a little frank, we were beginning to need it.  Everyone knows what I am talking about.  There are highs and lows when  you go through in a marriage, times where you feel SO CONNECTED to that person, and others times you are left wondering “what did we ever have in common?”  It is ok, it is part of the process.  I am slowly learning that as we approach our 3 anniversary in about 2 and a half weeks.
At this retreat we watched a video study calledSacred Marriage by Gary Thomas.  While there were not a lot of “Oh my goodness, I’ve never thought about that before” moments, there were several thoughts that stuck out to me as being unique.  One thing he said and the statement the whole study seemed to revolve around was what if God didn’t intend marriage to make you happy, but to make you holy.  He was not saying that happiness isn’t important in a marriage and that God doesn’t desire that.  He was just stating the fact that happiness may not have been God’s first intent for a married couple, holiness is.
We were asked to think about it as a couple, to look back on all those things that bother us, get under our skin, or just plain make us mad, and instead of seeing them as flaws that we have to live with, seeing them as ways for God to make us holy as He is holy.  Perhaps you have needed to learn patience, and God is using your spouse to produce this character quality in you.  Perhaps your spouse is needing to learn self control in frustrating matters, and God is using you to produce that in them.  We were asked to reexamine these places and see them as ways God is using it to create holiness through our marriage relationship.
Gary also told us to treat each other as children of God which meant that God is would be (and is) our Father-in-law.  We should treat them as if our own earthly in-laws are walking around behind us watching how we treat their child!  What a concept.
Lastly Gary talked about how it takes work.  Studies show that it takes 9-14 years before the two married people begin to think of themselves as a couple and see themselves as a single unit instead of two individuals.  9-14 years!!  That is a decade or more!!! He was saying how it is so sad to see some of these marriages that are ending at like 7 years before they really have had a chance. It  was encouraging to me because I see my parents (who have a wonderful marriage) and other couples in our church that I look up to and  I say to myself “I want to be like them” but yet me and the hubs aren’t there yet.  I tell myself we have only been married 3 years, they have been married 25 or more. . . It is definitely a worthy goal to have.
I challenge you (and myself) to look at some of the issues you struggle with in your marriage or with your spouse as chances to become holy rather than to become upset.  Perhaps this will help as we strive to love each other as Christ has loved us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Organization for Cleaning

In the previous post I talked about how I have been learning to joyfully clean since I have become a stay at home mom.  I told you my story of how cleaning was not always a favorite of mine, something I actually loathed and hated.  If you missed that story you can catch it here  However, thanks to a good friend (and new mom) and a few books I have now began a process that helps me keep my home clean.
First I started by reading these books that the above mentioned mom leant to me.  She actually wrote a post about this same thing! You can find it here, we actually did things a little differently, so it might be good to catch both.
In it they outlined how they went from slob sisters to a crazy cleaning duo!  It was crazy how much of a messy they were, kinda unbelievable in fact.  However, there system really does work.
What you need:
  • A note card box
  • Neon colored and white note cards
  • divider labels 1-31
  • Monthly labels (still have yet to find these anywhere)
  • small calendar
After you have all this assembled, the book tells you to make a basic weekly plan.  The general idea of all the things you are going to do for each day.  Here is mine. I taped it to the front of my card holder.
Basic Weekly Plan:
  • Sunday:  Church, Couponing, Meal Plan
  • Monday:  Groceries/Errands
  • Tuesday:  Moderate Cleaning (2-4 hours)
  • Wednesday:  Family Clean day  (where if there are jobs my hubby needs to do or we have to do together we use this day)
  • Thursday: Moderate Cleaning
  • Friday: Free Day
  • Saturday: Family
Right now this works for our family because of its small size.  As the family grows, this will undergo some construction.  This is not always what my weeks look like either.  Sometimes the hubby and I will go grocery shopping and run our errands on a Wednesday when he is off half a day instead of Monday.  Or some one might come in to town and I need to go and see them, so a moderate cleaning day may not happen.  It is just a guideline so I can have a goal.
The next step is for you look in the back of their book and see what chores they say to do for parts of your home, combine them with what you are already doing, and then separate them into categories.  This is where the different colored note cards come in handy.
You will have things that you do daily and then things that you do every other day (EOD), these go on one color of notecard.   For example, one of my daily cards is for the kitchen.  On it I have all the kitchen jobs that I need to do on a daily basis (load and unload dishwasher, clean countertops, clean/polish sink, sweep floor).  Then there are the things that you do weekly (such as bleach the tub) on a different color, and on yet a different color you have those things that you do monthly (orange glow the kitchen cabinets), bi-monthly (change and clean out light fixture bowls), seasonally (clean out refrigerator), and yearly all on a different colored notecard.  You also have a separate colored note card for personal things (mine is pink, it reminds me to do certain things, such as print out pictures monthly.)  I have also written on the left hand side how often I do these things (daily, EOD, weekly, EOW, Monthly, EOM, Seasonally, Yearly), and then in the middle I have what it is (usually what room) I should be doing.
Here are the color of my notecards:
  • Yellow: Daily and EOD
  • Orange:  Weekly and EOW
  • Green:  Monthly and EOM
  • White:  Seasonally/yearly (On white cards I also write down the month at the top then put all the anniversaries, birthdays, and special dates I should remember and might need to buy cards for each year.  Helps immensely in getting things out on time!  Not to mention you look incredibly thoughtful!  If you ever find or make month dividers though, they will take the place of these.)
  • Pink:  Personal  (Side Note: I might have things on a pink card that I need to do Daily, EOD, Monthly, and so on that are just for me.  I just write what the time is (Daily, EOD, etc) in the left hand corner)
Once you have successfully labeled all you cards, you then need to put them in order by date.  This is where a small calendar comes in handy.  Take your numbered 1-31 dividers and place the cards you will be doing for that particular day of the month IN FRONT OF the day.  For example. if today is the 3rd, I will put all cards that need to be done that day in front of the number 3 divider.  The army does it this way and I found it really helps.  You just move the cards all the way to the back and then the divider all the way to the back when your day is through.   It is sometimes hard to know exactly where things need to go throughout the month, but here is where you can be creative and just play with it.
This system has been a lifesaver!  For me in particular I am a procrastinator, so I will just let everything pile up until the inevitable day before the in-laws come over and I am cleaning like a madwoman and mad at the world that it is so nasty.  Now my home stays company clean for the most part.  It helps me to not be lazy, to do little things like make my bed every day, cleaning my bathroom every other day (which I used to think my weekly scrubbing was good, but man was I wrong), going to sleep with a clean kitchen, which make me more at ease.  One of the best things the book tells you is not to stress over anything, if a card doesn’t get completed that day “file it and forget it” you will come back to it the next time it comes up.
It also helped me to get my cleaning supplies organized, but that is a different post for a different day.  This one is long enough.  Hope this helps someone else out a much as it did me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Joyfully Cleaning

There are many things I am not good at/ I don’t know how to do.  Gardening, sewing, cooking, things of the homemaking nature.  However, one thing I have gotten better on is cleaning.
When I was a kid I HATED to clean.  Literally just loathed it.  Have you ever seen a television show about hoarders?  I have told my husband if it weren’t for my mother, grandmother, and God’s grace I really think I would have been a hoarder.  I used to stash all kinds of things in my closet, until it was a huge massive pile (at least that is what it looked like to me as a little one) that my mom made me clean up.  It would then take me HOURS to do this, because I am ADD so every little thing I would find I would play with and then reminisce about before finally putting it away.  I also had a hard time throwing things away.  My grandmother and mom would come and help me from time to time, but then would get mad at how little progress I had made or what all they found in there.  Needless to say, even to this day, I don’t like people going through my stuff.
However, as I have gotten older I have gotten much cleaner.  In fact I actually find it a joy to do now.  Being home has definitely brought that out in me, because I have time to do it, in fact that is what I spend most of my day doing.  However, it wasn’t always easy for me.  It wasn’t until Reid was about 4 months old that I actually got on a system, thanks to another mommy friend who is also a stay at home mom.  This system consists of notecards and a master schedule for things you do each day, week, month, couple of months, seasonally, or yearly.  It is so wonderful.  I even now have boxes under my sinks that house all the cleaning supplies for each room in the house so I can just grab it and go.
In the next post I will show you pictures of my system and my baskets!  For now, the baby is sleeping and I have already wasted enough time not cleaning and updating.  Remember to come back to see the method to my madness.

Monday, May 16, 2011

7 Months Old!

Wowee has time flown or what.  I am now a 7 month and 1 week old baby boy!  I can't believe it!  That is way closer to being a 1 year old then it is to being a baby!  Where did the time go?

As usual we took our pictures by Mister Monkey
Isn't he so precious?

Then of course we had to eat him
I can't believe all the things he is able to do now!  It is crazy.  He is rocking back and forth on all fours. Can go backwards and forwards, and side to side when laid on the floor (stills struggling with forward motion.  Hey that kinda sounds like a good song lol, jk.  Any Relient K fans out there?).He is sitting up like a champ, and he so happy.  He is eating everything we put in front of him.  He even used his pincher reflex (thumb and pointer finger) to pic up little Gerber Puff things!  I was so impressed.  He loves fruits and sweet potatoes and squash.  He isn't too much on the green foods, like peas or beans.  I think when I give him the real deal on those he will like them much better.

Here are just some pictures of cuteness.  Daddy usually gives Reid a bath so mommy gets a break and daddy gets some one on one time with him.  This particular night he was just being extra cute so Daddy called Mommy in for some pictures.

I know we have the most adorable kid!  He is so much fun right no,I can't wait to see what the future holds!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lies From The Enemy

I have been pondering to myself lately over what does it mean to be a modern stay at home mom.  As many of you already know, I am having to learn how to do this stay at home thing.  Sometimes this can be a little scary, especially when you have the enemy lying in wait to whisper lies into your heart.
For the past couple of days I have been pondering many “what if” questions.  These are never good, I know that, as I know I should give my worries to the Lord, but I failed.  I allowed the enemy to enter into my thoughts and whisper lies to me about myself.  The main lie I heard and the scariest one was “What if I don’t love Reid enough?  What if I don’t like him the way I should?  What if I don’t enjoy my own child the way he is meant to be enjoyed?”  These thoughts crept into my mind, especially as I took pleasure in seeing my child interact with other people and the joy they had from him.  I thought, “What if I am missing it?”
Thank goodness for husbands.  The Lord was gracious to give me a wonderful man who is so wise (especially for being so young) and will take the time to encourage me.  He reminded me of the fact I hear everyone around me say “Oh he is so cute, he is a wonderful baby, you’re so lucky, you’re so blessed he is so happy, you just don’t know how good you have it” and while all these things are true, these people are not the ones who are with him day in and day out.  The ones saying these nice things are not the people who get up in the middle of the night a few times a week when he is teething, or who are there when he won’t fall asleep for nap time.
I am ever reminded that being a stay at home mom is a huge sacrifice.  One I joyfully and gladly make most of the time.  However there are those moments when life gets the best of me and I am not so glad or joyful to be up at 12:30, then at 5, and again for good at 6:30.  I am learning to take my thoughts captive and surrender them to God, to mediate on His word, memorize it, live and breathe it.  Hopefully I do not allow the devil to get into my heart and my head again with these thoughts.  I love my little boy dearly, and I do enjoy the days I get to spend with him, watching him grow and thrive.  I wonder if I am the only one who has had thoughts like this?  Are there others?  If you have and know other ways to fight the lies off and away from my heart I would love to know.  Just leave a comment.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Back At Home,Brother's Graduation, 1st Mother's Day, Reid's Baby Dedication

Today I am finally back at home!  I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back where I belong!  The past two weeks I spent up at the school were fun, but they were also so time consuming.  I had forgotten what it felt like to get up and have to be somewhere else for someone else every morning by at least 7:30.  No small feat.

So now here is what I feel like is the big question, do I miss it?  And the answer is (drum roll please). . . I thought I did.  You know it is so weird because after being back into the swing of things, I thought I did miss it.  A part of me did and still does.  When I actually got my heart and my mind right about being up there with kids 5 days out of the week, I really enjoyed myself.  But today, being back at home, back to wiping a poopy hiney, making upteen bottles, cleaning, thinking about dinner, doing laundry, and all those things I realized I am still right where I need to be.  Yes one day, I will probably be back in the classroom, because that is where I feel useful, where I am comfortable, where I am using the abilities I have naturally.  However, right now I am honing the ones that don't come naturally, the things I have to work at to become a better helpmeet to my husband and mother to my son.  I enjoyed subbing, but wouldn't trade places and go back, at least not right now.

So today has been fairly routine.  I have gotten the house somewhat back in order with the big things like deep cleaning the kitchen again and our bedroom.  I am grateful for a husband who kept things tidy around the house in my two week absence, otherwise it would have been quite atrocious.  Reid is taking his second nap of the day (hallelujah!) and I am taking a break to fill yall in.

My younger brother, Adam, graduated from ETBU on Saturday.  He too has a teaching degree, social studies 8th-12th grade!  We were so excited for him and his great accomplishment!  Reid did wonderfully during the ceremony, he slept through a lot of it, which is fine by me!  We all went out to eat afterwards.  I have a wonderful family!

Hugging the president of the University, Dr. Dub

His little mini me!

Waiting to walk

Handing his card to the dean (love her btw)

So happy for him!

Yea Adam!

My 1st mother's day was excellent as well.  Instead of the baby monitor noise doing it, I got awoken by a tap on the shoulder from my wonderful hubby who was holding a tray of breakfast!  He had gotten up and fixed me and omelet and french toast (I know girls, be jealous).  He, Reid, and I all enjoyed a semi quiet breakfast in bed before he had to get ready to go to church.  Mark was also kind enough to dress up for me!  He put on a nice shirt and tie (it helped we were dedicating Reid this morning as well).  I got dressed and then got the boy dressed and off we went to church.  Mark's parents met us for worship, along with his twin brother Blake (surprise) to all watch as we dedicated Reid.  It was so neat to say before the church "We give this child to the Lord, and will bring him up in a way that honors Him." Reid is also a 6th generation member, so that was equally special.  Mark also went down to the front to tell the church he wishes to be ordained!  It was special!  The pictures are all jumbled up, sorry!

Listening to the preacher.

Our music minister praying with Mark after his announcement!

Baby dedication!

Mark and his parents!


Can you tell he is just a little loved?
After church my parents had us and Mark's family all over to eat burgers and visit.  Everyone had a good time holding and spoiling that little boy rotten.  After they headed back to Tyler, we made the rounds visiting all the other mothers which live around here.  Of course he was loved on and spoiled all over again, so much so, he didn't take a nap at all.  Talk about your tired baby by the end of the day.  He went to sleep without a hitch that night!  What a wonderful and busy two weeks and weekend it has been, but I wouldn't have had it any other way!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Making a Difference. . .

So, I am sorry I haven't kept up with my promise to blog at least twice a week, but I promise I have a semi-good excuse.  For the past two weeks I have been up at the school subbing.  The first week I was helping my mom with the TAKS test for the last week!  The kids and teachers are all excited to have all subjects and tests over and done with.  However, I do not believe that anyone is more excited about this then my mom.  She works so hard for that silly thing.  She has not only the teachers and the students in their classroom to worry about, but she has to get subs and prepare them and the boxes and tests they will need for those students who need more one on one attention.  She is amazing!  Anyway, on to what this post is really about (believe me one for my mommy is coming shortly).

Like I said I have been up at the school for the past two weeks.  This past week I have been subbing for a teacher who has needed to be out for a little while.  It is in first grade again and it has been quite a ride. . . I am actually having a pretty good time though.  The kids are finally used to me after a week or so under my teaching which I am so thankful for.  There has been this one little girl though that has stood out this past week over all the rest.  This girl is incredibly incredibly bright, she thinks outside the box, and she is funny.    However, she also has a little bit of an attitude to go with her smarts.  She always has to have the last word and is incredibly stubborn.  Regardless I love her.  I think because she reminds me of my mom.  Good thing my mom taught me a thing or two about being more stubborn than a kid.  We have been working on telling the truth instead of lying this week.  Each time she has lied to me for one reason or another we have talked about how you always get in more trouble when you lie as opposed to when you tell the truth, and how I was not "turning her card" because of her action, but because she had lied to me about it.

However, today she turned a corner.  I saw in a reading folder she had that there were two scores (from tests she had taken over the books she read the previous night) that were not in my handwriting.  They were either the writings of a first grader or a high school boy that helped her test the other day.  I asked "Who wrote these down for you?"  When she didn't reply I asked her is if was the  boy that helped out that day.  She said "Yes, he wrote them down."  I then told her I was going to go ask another teacher if that was the boy's handwriting."  As I started to walk off she turned to me and said, "Actually it was me who wrote the scores down."  Now while you may not think anything of this other than "What she did was wrong" this is SUCH A BREAKTHROUGH.  She voluntarily told the truth!  I told her how proud was of her for telling me the truth!  I asked her if her teacher ever allowed her to write down her scores and after a while got her to where she said the answer she knew to be true, "no."  We then talked about how we aren't supposed to write down our own scores, but since she told the truth she was not going to be in trouble and to give me a big hug!  I was so excited! While I have not done anything special or significant, other than explain why her actions aren't acceptable, it is nice to know that I have made a slight difference.  This is why teacher's do what they do.

Another thing I saw happened today.  I was walking back into the school this afternoon and saw a mom unloading cupcakes and a present out of her car to take into the school.  Another mom came out to see if she needed help and as I was walking by I heard a part of the story.  There was a little girl in her child's class whose birthday had been this past week, but nothing had happened.  You see usually when a kid has a birthday on a school day the parents will bring up cupcakes to share with the class.  This mom had heard that nothing had been done and I THINK I heard her say that nothing had happened at her home either.  This mom was relating to this other mom "I just can't stand for someone not to have a birthday."

I walked back to the classroom thinking about this mom and her gift to this little girl, when I run into them again as they come into our building.  I then talked to the teacher of the child who was receiving the surprise birthday and she said this mom thought birthday's were special and how excited the child was going to be.  I got to thinking about how this mom, whether she is a believer or not was being the hands and feet of Christ in this kid's life.  This kid was told by this lady's actions that  he or she was important enough to be remembered on a special day just for them.  I thought to myself,  "How many times have I missed the obvious chances to be the hands and feet of Jesus?  How often have I concerned about me and not about getting out there and finding some practical way to make someone's day?" It has been my prayer this week that I would show love to these students (believe me, this happened ONLY because of Jesus.  Nineteen first graders (read, 6-7 year olds) can be highly annoying, especially as a group) instead of annoyance, that I would find myself enjoying them, and having a good time while I am there. You know what, I have.  It has been an enjoyable week.  It reassures me that not all classes will be like the one I had my first go around, and that teaching is actually fun.

This also brought me to thinking about this strapping young dude.

I pray he grows up to be a bright little guy, one who thinks outside of the box, and loves to learn.  More than that I hope he grows up to be someone who loves the Lord, loves people, loves his parents,  is strong, and thinks of others.  However more than ever I realize that many of those things I just listed lie with me as a parent.  It is going to take a lot of work on my part, I cannot be lazy and think he will learn to love and respect others by happenstance.  I will have to teach him the little things, like it is not nice to roll your eyes at someone because that is very rude and isn't nice to do, or he can't stomp off when he doesn't get his way because that is not honoring.  It will take multiple and umpteen explanations, but hopefully it will all pay off in the long run.  I also want him to know his mom loves people and to watch out for others who might need a little extra love.  No doubt it was another child in that class that alerted his mom to the fact his or her classmate didn't have a birthday.  I must lead this by example.  

With much prayer and searching through God's Word I believe we might have a shot at this parenting thing.  I know we will make mistakes, but we are doing all we can to get things right.