New Year’s Day questions for my kids

I have a lot to do today. We have not been operating at full steam around here, but the chaos caused by daily life has kept clicking right along.

On the list would be to make more of a dent in the laundry, clean the bathrooms (gag), start thinking about a menu and grocery list for the week, and check the calendar to see when we’re scheduled to resume homeschooling.

We’re going to fellowship with some friends in the afternoon, so I almost began strategizing about how to accomplish my tasks by lunch.

But I want something about this New Year’s Day to be special for the girlies. My six and four-year-old are old enough to sort of understand the concept of “out with the old in with the new.”

So my idea is to ask them questions about last year, and see what their opinions/desires, even goals might be for the New Year.

You never know with kids; sometimes they’ll really surprise you.

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Here are my ideas for questions:

*What was your favorite thing about last year?

*What was the worst thing that happened last year?

*What do you think you learned last year?

*What is one thing you really hope happens this year?

*What would you like to do more of this year?

*What part of obeying Daddy and Mommy do you think you should work on this year?

*How do you think you could be more loving to your family this year?

*How do you think we should try to help other people who don’t have as much as we do this year?

*What is something you would like to learn this year?

*Where is somewhere you would like to go this year?

*If you had a choice between Mommy reading to you more or teaching you music and piano more, which would you choose?

*What is one thing you want to work on this year?

*What would you like Mommy to do more of this year?

*What would you like Mommy to do less of this year?

*What do you want to pray for about this year?

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This is a very rough, in-the-moment sketch; but I really want to try it!

Maybe this could be a sweet New Year’s Day tradition?

Here’s to resolving to spend time asking and listening in the morning!

Happy New Year!

3 helpful posts on New Year’s Resolutions

imageIf you didn’t know this about me already, I guess it’s time you found out.

I love New Year’s Resolutions!

And for the record, I do tend to keep up with them at least a little better than the 92% who reportedly never do.

So for me, it’s that wonderful time of year to think and plan for changes and improvements for the new year. I did work on my list a little tonight, but it’s not quite ready to share.

Following are links to three posts I’ve read recently that I found to be helpful and thought-provoking:

When You Track Your Spiritual Progress by Jonathan Parnell

Trading One Dramatic Resolution for 10,000 Little Ones by Tedd Tripp

Your Most Courageous Resolution for 2014 by Jon Bloom

Hope you enjoy these!

In the meantime, we’ll keep thinking and planning! = )

My friend, Amy, already has a great list up here. I always am super convicted inspired by her initiative! And with four kids! In Africa!

Anyways, hope to talk more soon!

Christie

For friends and family: Two-year-old Mckayla

When I dressed Mckayla up and took her to the park for pictures, I imagined them coming out like Gracie’s. What was I thinking? I love these, though. They’re so her. = ) And it’s one of the things I want to do for birthdays!

The best one, if you're talking *still and looking at the camera*
The best one, if you’re talking *still and looking at the camera*

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She wanted to get up on the seesaw "uh-self!" I love the progression of these pictures.
She wanted to get up on the seesaw “uh-self!” I love the progression of these pictures.

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Gracie is patiently waiting.
Gracie is patiently waiting.
And she made it! ...after several minutes. This is how I'm supposed to do it, right?
And she made it! …after several minutes. This is how I’m supposed to do it, right?

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This picture is the most accurate depiction of Mckayla.

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Why not chew on a stick for a birthday snack?
Why not chew on a stick for a birthday snack?
Watch out world, here she comes! = )
Watch out world, here she comes! = )

31 days of training my kids: expectations and birthdays

imageMy sweet little Mckayla is turning two tomorrow. (today for those of you reading)

And boy did she ever finish off her year with a bang. = / But we won’t go into that.

So tonight I’m thinking about birthdays. What I want them to be, and what they end up being.

I love looking at pinterest and birthday celebrations just look so fun to me. But… I know that I can’t really do them. As much as I wish I was that creative, organized mom who could pull off an amazing event for her child and be happy and cheerful and actually spend time with said child on that special day, I’m just not. Lest you think I’m despairing, at some point I will hopefully get better. Thankfully for me, my kids are at the age right now where they do not care at all and whatever we do, they love.

I have one major problem when it comes to birthdays: preparation.

There are always tons of plans in my head, but somehow, it’s always the night before and I’m thinking, “Why? Again?!”

So, I have developed a few criteria for birthdays in our house that are well within the realm of something I can do.

1. Do something fun that they will really enjoy that day. I used to try to think of something that would be really cool, like the coolest thing of the whole year; but sadly, toddlers have no clue what a year is. Happily, this makes picking something fun for them to do a whole lot easier.

2. Make a special cake or dessert that they will enjoy. Again, my definition of special is probably a lot lower than most. However, it’s about pleasing my kids, not my unrealistic expectations. And they get very excited for cake!

3. Decorate in a way that the girlies will feel like something is special. We usually don’t do parties, but I still want the day itself to feel festive.

4. Take pictures to remember the day. This is a recent one. It is out of my comfort zone; so see, there’s improvement. = ) See Gracie’s pictures here.

Now with all that said, here are my desires/plans for Mickey J’s special day tomorrow.

1. Go play at the park. Take buckets and shovels and play in the sand. (we don’t normally do this) Be okay with getting all dirty and sandy.

2. Eat a Monkey Cake! (lovingly made by her sisters and Nana) There is no better choice than a monkey for Mckayla this year. = )

3. Decorations have been foregone, but homeschooling has been postponed. No school on birthdays! It’s a new rule. = )

4. Take pictures. I already have her outfit picked out. It’s her red fuzzy hoodie with a pink Minnie Mouse.  I want to remember when I look back at the pictures how much she loved that “Ginnie Mouse!”

And yes, that’s about it. More than anything, I want to look at her, and listen to her, and tickle her, and enjoy seeing how much she is loved by every person in this family.

Do I hope I do better next year? Absolutely. I’m already thinking about sweet Hopey’s birthday. Considering my preparation problem, I should probably start gift shopping for her day after tomorrow. = )

But this is Mckayla’s day and I don’t want to waste it wishing for things that aren’t.

So tell me (and this isn’t just one of those questions your supposed to ask at the end) how do you get ready for birthdays? It escapes me!

For family and friends: Gracie’s birthday

Hello all! We posted Gracie’s three-year old pictures here, and today you get to see her birthday fun.

Her first birthday date with Daddy. Three is awesome already! She picked fix-cha-lay, and had hash browns, little swamwiches, and lumonade. Mm-mmm.
Her first birthday date with Daddy. Three is awesome already! She picked fix-cha-lay, and had hash browns, little swamwiches, and lumonade. Mm-mmm.
Birthday presents from Dad, Mom, and sisters at lunch. A pin-y-ata and kite in the mix!
Birthday presents from Dad, Mom, and sisters at lunch. A pin-y-ata and kite in the mix!

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Fun poster/birthday card made by her sisters and supervised by moi.
Fun poster/birthday card made by her sisters and supervised by moi.
Birthday cake finally! This is what she's been asking for for so long!
Birthday cake finally! This is what she’s been asking for for so long!
Somebody's excited!
Somebody’s excited!
And somebody else!
And somebody else!
And somebody else!
And somebody else!
Mommy LOVES Gracie!
Mommy LOVES Gracie!
More birthday cards and gifts.
More birthday cards and gifts.
A raincoat so I won't get wet!! (Gracie hates wain)
A raincoat so I won’t get wet!! (Gracie hates wain)
The complete ensemble: raincoat, boots, umbrella.
The complete ensemble: raincoat, boots, umbrella.
And ladies and gentleman, it's piñata time! (Ok, the girls actually beat on it for an hour in the afternoon. Then beat on it for awhile in the evening; Daddy had to finish it off. = )
And ladies and gentleman, it’s piñata time! (Ok, the girls actually beat on it for an hour in the afternoon. Then beat on it for awhile in the evening; Daddy had to finish it off. = )
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The piñata was a rare treat indeed. Hope quickly went into protection mode.

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The best way to end a birthday.
The best way to end a birthday.

We love you, Gracie!

For family and friends: Three-year old Gracie

I love these pictures.

Possibly the first and best true smile I've ever gotten on camera.
Possibly the first and best true smile I’ve ever gotten on camera.
Sweet little girl
Sweet little girl
Thinking about something
Thinking about something
Another sweet smile
Another sweet smile
(it was hard to take pictures with the other girls running in and out of the shots)
(it was hard to take pictures with the other girls running in and out of the shots)
Like this background
Like this background
A more true-to-life camera smile = )
A more true-to-life camera smile = )
my favorite
my favorite

I actually dressed her up, fixed her hair, and took her outside for these pictures on her birthday. Yay for a small step towards the massive list of things I want to do with my kids!

Gracie, I’m going to miss you being two; you were about as perfect as a mom could want. So excited to see how three will be!

Amanda: In God’s waiting room

Happy Mother’s Day! I hope that you all have enjoyed the stories that have been shared here this week as much as I have. Janine and Kristin, thank you again, so much!

Today’s story is so special to me! Amanda and her husband have been a huge blessing to Paul and I. Their friendship is completely accepting and always uplifting; we learn so much from them. Amanda, I know this wasn’t easy for you to do, but I am so grateful and humbled that you shared. Thank you!

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

I have to remind myself of this verse often because I tend to focus on the things I don’t have instead of the many wonderful blessings the Lord has given me. This is especially true as Mother’s Day approaches. Mother’s Day is a wonderful time that allows us to celebrate and honor the sacrifice and impact our mothers have had on our lives. However, for me it is an emotional day that is bitter sweet because I long to be a mother.

Anyone who knows me would probably describe me as “planful and organized.” I enjoy seeing a goal and developing a plan to get there. I usually have Plan A, B, and C; I guess you could call me a control freak. So of course I had a “plan” for when my husband and I would start our family. My “plan” was for both of us to finish school (my husband was in Law school and I was completing my Master’s) and then we would begin our family. Little did I know, God had HIS PLAN.

In December 2009, after seven years of marriage, we began trying to get pregnant. Month after month we were met with disappointment. After a year and a half, we decided to undergo medical tests to determine the cause of our infertility. After many tests (sometimes I felt like a science experiment) and several cycles of Clomid we still didn’t get pregnant. I remember completing the last cycle of Clomid to no avail and discussing next steps with my doctor. She basically told me there were no physical reasons for our infertility and offered advanced medical procedures to help. We didn’t feel comfortable with that, so we decided to stop all tests/medications. I was so disappointed that the Clomid didn’t work and I felt I had failed as a woman because I couldn’t fulfill my purpose—to be a mom. Deep down I had hoped we’d find some medical reason so we could have a quick “fix” for our infertility and move on with “my plan.”

It has been almost three and a half years since we started trying to have a family and we are still waiting. The question that keeps coming to my mind is, “Will you trust the Lord even if He doesn’t give you the desires of your heart?” I want my answer to be, “YES, I will trust you Lord no matter what!” However, I’m ashamed to say that there are days when I have a “pity party,” feel sorry for myself, and begin to question the Lord–“Why me, Lord?” It’s humbling to see your true character as you endure a trial. Sometimes I deceive myself and think that my motives are pure and righteous. However, that is far from the truth. What I didn’t realize was that my deep down assumption was that the Lord “owed me” and I was entitled to have ALL of my desires met. After all, I had obeyed, followed, and served Him, so why wouldn’t I have a child like everyone else? I just expected Him to make it happen according to my plan.

I am so thankful for the Lord’s patience and renewed mercies each day because I am in need of them every minute! Even in the midst of my “pity parties” and my child-like demands, the Lord continues to love me and reveal Himself to me. Each time I’m at the end of my rope, He encourages and convicts me, whether through His Word, in a song on KLove, or through the words of a close friend. I stand in awe of his detailed care and love for me even when I am so undeserving!! I have discovered that His timing is always perfect.

I’m not going to say that every day is easy (because I still have my pity parties), but through lots of prayer and studying His word I’m beginning to see that He’s using this trial to purify and change me. I now know that “my plan” wouldn’t have allowed me to experience His grace. It’s His grace NOT my strength that allows me to get through each month. As I focus on Him, I can see that my purpose in life is not to be a mother or to have ALL my desires fulfilled. Rather, my purpose is to glorify Him even if I have unfulfilled desires and experience things that are painful. As I take my eyes off of my plans and desires, I can see that He is orchestrating every detail of my life for His purpose. I am beginning to see that sometimes we have to endure trials so that He can put us on display to show Himself to others. He has used this broken vessel to encourage those experiencing infertility and share Christ with women whom I wouldn’t have normally been able to reach. What a blessing!!

As I focus on HIS PLAN, I’m also learning to celebrate and appreciate the gifts and blessings he has given me, like my wonderful husband (who has been my rock), my family, and all my many friends. I have so much to be thankful for!! As we celebrate Mother’s Day today, I am anxiously awaiting HIS PLAN for me and I am confident that it will be perfect–whether he chooses to bless us with a child or not. My prayer is that He will strengthen me so I can continue to give Him control of all my desires and rest in HIS sovereign PLAN. For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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I want to encourage all the mothers on this Mother’s Day to not take for granted the children God has given you. They are a blessing and a responsibility. May we guide them with a constant awareness that we are stewards and not owners. Also, be aware of those around you. Friendships with people in different stages of life are so healthy, especially within the body of Christ. May our hearts reach out with love and compassion, knowing that we are also in need to receive the same.