Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Deep in the Trenches

And just like that ... I'm off track again.

In all the years I've been blogging, I have hesitated to ever promise I would do anything {like post regularly for a series}.  With the exception of our February series on God's Relentless Love, too much 'life' happens and I can't seem to carry it out.

It is what it is.

So, what is 'life' all about right now?

On any given day, you'd find us rounding up soccer cleats, running shoes and water bottles, as I'm sure many of you are.  'Tis the season.

Emma just finished up her Middle School Cross Country season but has two more weeks on the High School team, with the State meet a week from Friday.

Not going to lie ... we talk a lot about that Saturday after.  As in "it's almost over, it's almost over". This has been an interesting season trying to juggle both schedules, so we're pretty pumped about the end.  She wants a day where she comes straight home from school to hang out with us instead of heading to practice and I want that too!

Olivia, on the other hand, is soaking up every second she can of her soccer season.  She has had the most fun the last couple of seasons being on a team with her closest friends and the BEST coaches. They'll all go separate ways next season because of age, so she NEVER wants this one to end.  She's having a blast.

Emma and I are stepping WAY out of our comfort zones this Friday night and welcoming ALL the 7th grade girls in our home for a monthly bible study.  Eric and I talk about it and always end up laughing because God has to be showing off His deep sense of humor when we realize what He has me doing.  I'm an extreme introvert found doing very extrovert things these days.  It's fun, exciting, exhausting and scary all at the same time.

And, if that's not enough, Olivia and I have been invited to participate in a monthly Mother/Daughter bible study for 4th grade girls.  Our first meeting is this Sunday at a Mother/Daughter tea.  So fun!

I feel like my deepest spiritual lessons and studies are always with Emma, so this time with Olivia will be invaluable.  Best of all, other women are leading it and I couldn't be more thankful for the influence they will have in my Olivia's life.  It's going to be a fun time.

Though all of this takes up a big portion of our time, the one thing consuming most of my thoughts these days is our church's Ladies Retreat.  It's time ... with only 3 more weeks to prepare.  This week is a study week and I'm about midway through.  I'm at the point where I sit down to study and become overwhelmed with the subject.  I laugh when a thought comes together and cry a lot because of the grace He pours out in His Word.  These are special days.

So, yes we are busy {loathe that word} but God has us in some unique places ... new places ... doing new things.  We wouldn't choose half of it, but have learned through the years, it's a lot more rewarding to follow Him scared than to hide out at home.

We're just along for the ride, excited to see what He has in store!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

{Gratitude} Lately

Lately, I'm grateful for ...
Days off from school spent playing golf {on a GORGEOUS day that felt like FALL} ... 

.... and when school is in ... we'll squeeze in a game before soccer practice.  We're kind of addicted.

Saturday mornings when little girls stick to me like glue ...

Living close to the lake and enjoying beautiful sunsets with my girls ...

Noticing Olivia's hand after a soccer game.  "It helped me to not be anxious", she says.

While substitute teaching, I find a packed lunch and note left by my Emma ...

Always having help in the kitchen .... 

What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Having a Vision

I had a post all written for today, but I woke to this one by Sally Clarkson and had to share it instead.

This is exactly where my heart is right now.  I tend to get discouraged, wondering if I'm making the right decisions when it comes to raising my girls.  Sally always shares such wisdom.  I truly hang on her every word and have for years.

"Many days were weary ones and at all stages along the way, I found challenges. But I felt that the Holy Spirit would fill in the cracks and that if I obeyed His call, He would make my work more than the sum of all of my efforts, because I had trusted Him to raise my children through me."

"Consequently, the foolish woman tears down her own home, not intentionally, most women do not mean to leave a legacy of broken children with scars of anger, lack of training and purpose. But they never knew how to build and were not willing to do what it took to build, because they were side swiped by the storm of it all. And honestly many children grow into broken adults because their parents were passive and gave their children over to the voices and temptations of culture."

Planning must not be based on the emergency and immediate need, in the midst of a crisis, but on the long term building and work and endurance until the project is completed.
Planning is the key to what will be built and planning requires thought and time.
Click here to read the entire post.  And, bookmark Sally's blog for future reading.  She will bless you and encourage you in your walk.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

This week has been wonderful as far as weather goes.  It was chilly enough for a jacket most of the week and that makes me happy.  I know I'm fortunate to live in a state that experiences all four seasons.

That reminds me of my brother, John Patrick, who is still stationed in Hawaii.  We have no idea when he'll be back home {I can't talk about it much without getting completely bummed out} but one thing he did tell us the last time we talked was he had no interest in coming home until it's COLD here.  He is tired of waking up every day to the same {hot} weather.

Isn't that odd to imagine? We take for granted here what a nice thing it is to experience all seasons.

Anyway, enough of that.  Here are some of my {completely random} favorite things ...

Lindor's Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

I'm a sucker for anything dark chocolate/raspberry ... and lately, these are my favorite.  I allow myself two every day.  Well, ...  at least two :)

Gapfit Breathe Long Sleeve Hoodie

I think this is my new favorite hoodie to wear to run ... or to the grocery store ... or to lounge around. I bought the beach plum color and actually bought it in a size larger so it would be extra long.  With thumb holes and a loose hood, it's perfect.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

I am sooooo not an expert on nails.  In fact, if you look at mine most of the time, you'd see they're often neglected.  I love it when they're painted but it just takes up so much time to only have to do it again in a day or so.

A friend told me to try a gel-coat and that has been hilarious! I've had some pretty unfortunate incidents BUT this product is amazing.

I realize you can do more steps with this, but if you just use this gel on top of your nail polish, your polish doesn't chip.  I've gone for at least 5 days without having to touch up at all.  And, the best part ... you can remove it with normal polish remover {most gels, you have to use 100% acetone}.  I just use it over any brand of nail polish.

I haven't been able to find it in stores yet, so I ordered mine off Amazon.  I love it.

Failing at a meaningful transition here, and on a less frivolous note, my family and I can't watch this video without bawling like babies.  We understand a little more about the sacrifice.

And, now one of our favorite things to do when we're out in public is to spot a military veteran.  We take the time to thank them, pay for their meal and most of all LISTEN if they want to talk about their time in the military.

Now all I can think about is seeing my little brother.  That would be a favorite day!

Have a great weekend, friends!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mom ..... or Friend?

I have some disturbing news.

Or, maybe not disturbing, but shocking in an I-don't-even-know-where-the-years-have-gone kind of way.  Anyway ... 

I'm going to be the Mom of a teenager in two months.

BIG {sigh}.

I still look at Em and see my high-spirited, fiesty 3-year old toddler that twirls and sings and constantly says "Look at me, Mommy!"  It seems I blinked and ten years passed.  

The twirling has slowed down, the singing has picked WAY up and the "Look at me, Mommy!" moments are somewhat the same, just manifested in different ways like endless stories of classroom conversations and silly jokes about her friends.

In other words, she still wants my attention.

I do miss those toddler days but I have a confession ... I'm really looking forward to my girls' teenage years.  Both of them are growing into the neatest young ladies and I can't think of any others I'd rather be around more.

Before I misrepresent our lives here, let me also say not every day is a walk in the park.  We get frustrated, frazzled and exhausted with endless decisions and the battle for their hearts.  The main question at the end of the day is "Do I want to be her friend or her Mom?"

This is a tough one.  I want my girls to want to be with me.  I want them to think I'm cool.  I want them to want to have their friends here instead of going somewhere else.  I want their approval.  

But, parenting based on my 'wants' comes with a huge price at this age.

I've witnessed some of my friends make the decision to be their kids' best friend, most often saying 'yes' and keeping some pretty blurry boundaries.  A lot of confusion ensues and it's hard to determine who's the grown up in the relationship.

In a world where we seek instant gratification, having everything 'right now' and rarely having to wait, this is the one area I must be patient, keeping my eye on the prize.  

After taking every thought captive, I decide the 'prize' is to raise girls that not only walk closely with the Lord, but that turn out to be my genuine friends.  Kind of like ... to have peace later, I must be uncomfortable now.

I try to have a lot of 'yes' moments but when it comes to 'everybody else is doing it', my answer is almost always 'no'.

I keep clinging to the promise that one day, they will see I had their best interests and guarded hearts in mind.  Until then, we're sure to have days of frustration and confusion ... though, God {lovingly} extends grace and gives us some very uplifting, fun days in the midst of the hard.

In this season, being their Mom has to come before being their friend.  I want them to feel comfortable and safe talking to me about anything.  Finding that healthy balance is a chore at times, but I have to lean more towards discipline at this stage.  And, though I know I will be offering wisdom to my girls even as adult children, I'm praying that 'friend' thing works itself out in the long run.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites {Fall Front Door}

We don't have much of a covered area in the front of our new house but we do have lots of steps.  I am sooooo ready to decorate the entrance for Fall.  I already see neighbors putting out mums, though I think it's still too hot for that.

I've been looking at magazines and pinterest for ideas ...

It's no secret I love chalkboards.  Love this topiary too ....

I think this is so pretty, though it would never work here.  Mainly because we've been clearing lots of LOTS of ivy away from our home.  It's been a J-O-B and a half.

Mums inside pumpkins ..... so pretty.

I think I'm developing a thing for white pumpkins ...

I LOVE, LOVE lanterns on a front porch.  (FYI - the best place to buy lanterns to use outside is IKEA) ...

Classic and pretty .... and who doesn't need a personalized pumpkin ... and a polka dot one at that? I love me some polka dots, too.

I have looked at this photo for years now.  I have a space for just this sort of thing ..

My friend, Lara, just started selling burlap door hangings.  She made me this one ...

Can't wait to use it! If you're interested, you can look her up on facebook at Burlap Barn.  She makes everything from pumpkins to birthday cakes to owls.  So cute!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

{Gratitude} Lately

Lately, I've been grateful for ...

A dozen roses from a stranger .... just because.  
Changed my whole day.
Kindness matters!

Lessons from Isaiah.
My stability comes solely from the Lord, not my circumstances,
others' opinion or my feelings.

Sweet melodies that fill our house every morning and afternoon.
Emma's 'release' is playing music and we all benefit.  Beautiful!

Homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls ... on a day that actually felt like Fall

Soccer shoes .... 'tis the season

Morning devotions while one of my favorites snuggles under my blanket to read

Mawmaws that drop by to help study for tests

Gratitude gets us through the week ... what are you grateful for?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Still ... Raising Future Esthers {A Weekly Series}

One of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life is parent my girls.

Maybe I should clarify .... purposing to parent them with biblical principles, nurturing a close walk with Christ while living in a fallen, sinful world .... that is one of the most difficult things I've ever done.

I tell my husband often "We simply can't take an hour off from parenting.  The moment we do, I feel we've let down our guard and sin has crept through the cracks of our home and gotten a foothold".

With a 4th and 7th grader, my prayers have changed.  I used to pray for energy to keep up with a toddler and newborn, hoping they would learn the name of Jesus and realize He is an important part of our home.

Now, I feel like we've stepped into intense battle ... hoping we wake up on the offensive instead of the defensive end that day.

At this stage, our girls are quirky, hilarious, inquisitive and FUN ... yet, they're still in a battle.  This world, with its distractions and low moral standards, is doing everything imaginable to capture their hearts.

I have to remember they are the Lord's and He will ultimately protect them, though I must also remember Eric and I have been given an enormous responsibility to direct them towards Him.

They won't choose Him by accident.  Standing at a daily crossroads, He will have to be the choice they make on purpose.

And, they won't choose Him if they've never heard what He can do, seen evidence of Him in my own life or if I haven't called out to God in prayer to show Himself to both of them.

Though we've become more protective of our girls and their stories as far as this blog is concerned, I still want to stay with my original idea ... Raising Future Esthers ... and write about how we're muddling through this parenting gig.

I'm really praying this won't be a mess! However, I've decided to post every Tuesday about issues specific to parenting ... what works for us, what I'm struggling with, prayers I'm praying, etc., all in an effort to keep myself sane :) Our girls' struggles and stories will still be safe within our home. These posts will more than likely just be prayers that I'm praying for that particular week, though I hope to link to posts or stories I've been inspired/encouraged by or simply write about a particular struggle asking for wisdom.

No perfection or expert advice here! I come solely from the idea that I always find such positive encouragement from other blogs and from other Moms that are in the same season as me {or have already walked this road and can offer invaluable wisdom}.

I'm still very deep in the trenches .... learning what God wants for them and how to parent them in a fallen world and one thing is certain, I can use all the encouragement I can get!

This won't be your go-to spot for parenting advice {that's for certain!} but maybe it will be a place we can encourage one another in this particular walk.  Even if it ends up just a space for me to dump all these consuming thoughts on what it's like parenting through this season, and it remains a one-sided conversation ... well, that's okay too.

And, really, that's my sincere intention.

Therefore encourage one another
and build up one another,
just as you also are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 {NASB}

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites {Fall Outfits}

As if I haven't said it enough here, Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the smells, the colors and the cooler temperatures.  I also love Fall clothes ... maybe because of layering.

Pinterest is a great place to find Fall Outfit inspiration {you can follow me here}.  I could totally see me wearing these outfits ...

I have a pair of leopard flats {from Target} that I wear A LOT.  I really need a new pair but I want to find some that are comfortable.  Until then, I broke down and bought my first pair of Toms during Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale ...

I LOVE these! They're the natural burlap style and they're so comfy! I have really weird issues with my feet {it's like I'm 102 and hurt if I do such things like ... walk}.  Anyway, I wore these all day shopping last week and my feet didn't hurt at all.

I'm also thinking I need to find me a puffy vest.  I love these outfits ... 

A MONOGRAMMED vest would be even better, right?

{Sigh} I need to go shopping!

Happy Friday! Eric took the day off so we could celebrate my birthday with just the two of us {whoop! whoop!}

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

{Gratitude} Lately

 Lately, I've been grateful for ...

A free morning to sit in a bookstore ... with no interruptions.

Afternoon walks with Em

Playing golf ... just my Dad and me

'Walking' Olivia to her friend's house

Blueberries {I'm kinda addicted}

Homemade biscuits

And .... grateful to celebrate 44 years!

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