Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Enjoy your Children -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Twelve)

This is Part Twelve of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

12. Enjoy your children -- It's afternoon. The first day after a nice three day weekend. The weather is cloudy and the children are... off. The youngest three are boycotting their naps, the oldest four are just plain loud. And somehow completely incapable of hearing me. And as I was meeting with my school-aged children's supervising teacher today, my mostly potty trained child left... uh, well, yeah. And now he seems to be having difficulty keeping any clothes on (not that this will shock anyone who knows the child). I'm tense, irritable, and ready to escape.

And I have one final blog post to write in my series on parenting. "Enjoy your children." Yeup. Cue the "God has a sense of humor" lines. Maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead!

As I've been writing this series, I've noticed a trend. Really, it's been a series about how to get through the difficult times in parenting littles. We have to face it. There are difficult times. And nobody really wants to know how to get through the easy times. Nobody really asks about how to handle the times when life is simply blissful.

You might even be looking around you right now and thinking, "there is absolutely nothing whatsoever that is blissful about this."

And you might be right. I'm not in your shoes right now. But it is entirely possible, too, that you just need to look harder. There are difficult times in parenting, but they're not ALL difficult.

Really, life is full of amazing. When we're looking for it, when we're practicing being thankful and rejoicing always, it's easier to see God's mercies and blessings sprinkled throughout our lives. Really look at those kids that are driving you crazy right now.  How much do you love that child? Yeup -- the one making white hairs grow as you think about him. How could you even begin to quantify that feeling deep in your heart as he climbs into your lap and lets you squeeze him?

"This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."

This article by Desiring God was both encouraging and exhorting to me: Be the Smile of God to Your Children.

Kids are fun! And I'm not talking about the endless opportunities for re-watching "Cars," either. Stop and look at the world for a second through their eyes... Listen to the ways they try to express what's going on in their heads. Marvel at the amount of love they hold in their hearts and their eyes for you, in all your imperfect glory. Dream about the person they are and who they are growing to be. They are gifts. We can get caught up in our grown-up world of to-do lists and precautions, or we can make a choice to see what blessings our kids really are -- today. And we can enjoy them.


Ta-da!! All done! =) Thanks for hangin' in there!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Love Other People's Kids -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Eleven)

This is Part Eleven of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

11. Love other people's kids -- I've always loved kids. When I was five, I wanted to have one hundred children when I grew up. I'd imagine all the beds I would need. I enjoyed babysitting growing up. After a long stint of wanting to be a veterinarian, I changed my plans when I was fifteen and decided that I wanted to work with children with special needs and challenges instead. And for as long as I can remember, I dreamed of being a wife and a mom.

The concept of childhood amazes me. These foundational years of personhood, as these little people are developing and exploring and experiencing life, have so much impact on the rest of their lives. For good or for bad. All children should have a safe place to grow and be loved and nurtured.

And then God blessed me with a husband and children of my own. And I am so, so thankful for this role in life. But I noticed soon after having Eliana that my focus had quite quickly gone from loving children in general to loving my child and the idea of my children more specifically. As I prayed for her and thought about her future, I prayed that she would grow up living in a community of people who loved her, and that she would be safe and secure in that community. I never wanted her to feel any lack of love and go searching for it in dangerous places. I prayed that she would know how much her family and church family loved her, and that she would see the fullness of God's love for her reflected in such love.

And I realized that I wanted to be a part of that community -- that community that loves children and gives them a safe place to see and know the love of God. But as I mentioned before, my heart and affections for children had already started to focus more specifically on my own children, and I noticed that my affection for other people's children was waning.

So I prayed that God would grow my heart's love and affection for other people's kids. That the children around me would know how much they were loved and wouldn't go searching for love where it is falsified and abused for self-satisfying destruction.

I've struggled with how to write this post, and whether or not I should confess to my own waning affections, because I don't want people to think that I have an agenda when I am kind to their children -- that I just want their children to have the illusion of being cared for, and that my actions are in any way disingenuous. There is such a joy in knowing that others truly love and care about the well-being of your children. I am so thankful for all the people who love my kids and express that love in so many ways. This is a great gift to my soul. And I want my friends to know that I do truly love and care about their children. They are in my heart and in my prayers and I am amazed by how precious and how beautiful and how amazing they each are. They are blessings not only to their biological families, but also to me.

But I share this post with you because I want you to know that I do truly love and care for other people's children because God was so kind, so generous to change my heart and answer my prayers. He's given me a heart to not only care for the future of my children, but for the future of other children. He's given me a desire to want to get to know these little people in my community and to pray for their future and to, well, just love them. I enjoy watching them grow into their personalities and seeing how precious each of them are. And I love praying for them and seeing how God works in their families.

And I share this to encourage you -- whoever this might be relevant to -- to pray that God will not only be building a community around you that genuinely loves and cares for your children, but that He would help you to be a part of such a community that blesses other parents by genuinely loving and caring for their children. I still can be pretty "my family" focused at times, but I am thankful to see God's work in my heart in this area, and I am confident that it is His desire to do this work in many hearts. So please, if any of this resonates with you, pray for God to build communities like this. That we would love others the way He has loved us.


This series has one more post before it's conclusion, so come back tomorrow for the grand finale!! ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Embrace the Simple Things, Despite Their Imperfections - Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Ten)

This is Part Ten of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

10. Embrace the simple things, despite their imperfections
-- I have one room in my house -- the living room -- that is very simply adorned (the rest of the rooms are adorned in a modern, busy family fashion called "cluttered"). The only things that belong in the living room are three couches, an area rug, a coffee table and two end tables. There is a basket that is used to house any stray toys and a magazine holder to house any stray books that might find their way into the room. There are a few things on the fireplace mantle and one lamp on one of the end tables, but the other tables are bare. A couple of throw pillows belong on each of the couches.

The result? This room is really easy to straighten. It takes less than 30 seconds to make it look presentable and on a cleaning day, I can get the dusting done in under two minutes in that room. I love that room.

In this season of life, simplifying, as much as possible, is key. Now there are reasons that things are complicated, and often simplifying carries it's disadvantages, so knowing those disadvantages is important. But often the benefits of simplicity outweigh the costs.

As I share some of the ways we've simplified life for this season, I recognize that each family is different and what works for some won't work for others. If you have any other ideas or things that have worked for you and your family, please feel free to share in the comments!

  • I love a good book. Problem is, I tend to get engrossed in what I'm reading and during this season, there are many distractions and interruptions that make prolonged concentration difficult. Now there are many good reasons for deep study, but I've found that my "go to" for reading edification these days are good blogs and articles rather than books. They are typically written in a more concise fashion, so I can get the main idea in bite-sized chunks.
  • As referenced above, finding solid reading time is hard. For this reason, I love having a Bible app on my phone. It's so easy to pull my phone out and do a little reading when the quiet moment happens instead of trying to predict when that quiet moment will occur. Of course, making plans to spend time in God's Word is also necessary, but during this season, our plans are held more loosely and are often interrupted. Giving yourself more options helps.
  • While I'm on the topic of quiet times, I have to share my sleeping secret. Mamas often have trouble quieting their brain in order to get much needed rest. We get so used to taking care of babies and our sleep getting interrupted that we can preempt the interruption by not falling asleep in the first place. For me, praying helps. When I'm trying to sleep but find my brain all a-whir with plans and anxieties and such, I take the opportunity to turn these matters over to God. And then I start praying for the people who are on my heart. The result? I get some precious time in with the Lord AND I typically fall asleep doing so. I sometimes hesitate to share this tip because there are times that I actually pray for the specific reason that I know that it will probably put me to sleep and this, to me, sounds like a bad motivation. But I trust that the Lord knows my heart, the time is well spent, and that the rest He gives me in the process is a gift from Him. And He's quite capable of keeping me awake longer if I need to pray more, too.
  • Social media has its hangups. I get that. I don't recommend using the computer as a substitute for all human interaction. But it also can be very helpful in keeping you involved in other people's lives during this more home-bound season of life. Facebook is great for giving you a sneak look into what's going on in other people's hearts and minds -- it gives you freebie conversation starters for those times when you have a moment to talk, and it can be a great way to let you know how you can care for others. Emails and texts are a WONDERFUL substitute for real life phone calls when you have a screaming toddler in the background. Know the weaknesses of these mediums, but embrace the ways they can help.
  • Choose your battles with your children. Try to focus on one or two things you are working on with them and know there is time later to work on other issues. They don't have to be perfect overnight. We certainly aren't.
  • I stopped shopping with all my children during the day when I had our third. I've never liked shopping much, anyway. And I know that I have an amazing husband who is willing to do shopping for me. We also are happy to use some of our date times to shop. We make it work. This obviously sacrifices some family time, but the trade-off, for this season, of not having to shop with all my wee children is well worth it to us.
  • is a wonderful, wonderful thing. We do diapers, wipes, kiddie protein bars, and a zillion other things through Amazon Mom paired with the "Subscribe and Save" options. It saves us money and is delivered right to our door. It's almost too simple.
  • Running the dishwasher and the washing machine on a daily basis helps to keep me from being buried in dishes and laundry... though I can't say that these burials don't still occur.
  • If a baby is leaking through diapers during the night, a size-up at bedtime can often solve that problem and reduce middle of the night flounderings!
  • I'm slowly growing in the "kiddie chores" options as some of my kiddies get older. It takes longer to teach a kid to do a chore than to do it yourself, and often the result is lower quality if the kiddie does the chore, but on the flip side, it's really, really nice to be able to tell your kids to "clean up for Roomba" and know that all the toys will be put in their proper receptacle while you are busy doing something else. Just takes some training. And you're helping them develop good life skills and attitudes in the process. Bonus!
  • If while you were reading the last point you asked, "Who is Roomba?" you really should find out. Roomba = sanity. And what price tag can you place on sanity? (I do recommend, if you go the Roomba route, to buy it at Costco -- just in case you get a flakey one. Costco has an excellent return policy if you find that, say, six months after a purchase, the item is not working like it should be working considering the $$ spent.)
  • Costco. Also amazing. Really, if you can't buy it at Costco or, do you really need it?
  • Really, finding about three stores that cover all your needs helps in the simplifying aspect of this season. For us, it's Raley's, Costco, and Walmart (with the semi-annual Kohl's or trip thrown in for good measure). I know that shopping around can save big money, but it also takes a lot more time. It's one of those things you have to weigh out for yourself.
  • Costco commonly has coupons for paper plates. What says "simple" like paper plates?
  • We have gone paperless as far as shopping lists go by using Google Tasks. David and I can each update lists from multiple locations which helps keep lists current and available to whoever happens to get to the store first. We also use Google Calendar (Eliana even has access so she can see daily chore updates!) and Google Drive to help us coordinate and schedule on-the-go. Google isn't quite as awesome as Amazon, but it's close.
  • David and I have enjoyed having one-on-one "dates" with each of our children. We schedule these as we can and it's nice to be able to spend some time with the kids individually and to do something that would be time or cost-prohibitive (or sanity diminishing) if we tried to do the same activity with all of the kids.
  • We have a couple of storage cubes that the kids have learned to put their shoes in when they get home and are taking off their shoes. We still have the random "missing shoe" mad search at times, but it is much more seldom that it was pre-storage cubes.
  • Reducing parental irritations is a worthy investment. In our house, we have installed door closers, motion sensing lights, and LED bulbs. These "investments" have reduced repetitive lectures that can make the lecture-giver's blood boil after having to say, "turn off the lights!" or "close the door!!" one too many times. (We also installed a smart controller on our sprinkler system -- with a rebate! -- which reduced "Less water!", "More green!" squabbles between David and me.)
  • And I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Ask for and accept help where you can. You don't have to do it all.
Now it's your turn, friends! What have you done to simplify life?


My outline says there are two more posts to go. Hang in there. =)

Continue to Part Eleven

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's a Season -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Nine)

This is Part Nine of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the Introduction, Part One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

9. It's a Season -- As mentioned in Part Eight of this series, the phrase "it's a season" has special meaning to me thanks to the gracious counsel of a couple of precious older women in my life.

We each have individual talents, desires, hopes, and preferences, and often we have to give those up during this active part of parenting young 'uns -- for a season.

I've often found myself saying to one of these wise older ladies something along the lines of, "I feel so out of the loop..." or "I wish I could find the time to play my violin more..." or "My house is a mess" or "I can't keep track of all the new people anymore" or "I feel like I'm always distracted by trying to make sure my little family is taken care of." And these women graciously smile at me and respond gently, "It's a season."

And this is good to remember. I love, love, love the precious years of having little ones in my house. I try hard not to imagine a time when there will be no babies in the house to cuddle or little ones whose expressions and antics keep me constantly entertained. I'm amazed at how these little trouble makers actually are little people who are building their own memories and beliefs and experiences and goals that will all contribute to the type of people they are when they grow up.

But in the middle of this all-time and energy consuming season, it's easy to start thinking that this will last forever. And we can look around and see areas that we're failing in or things that we've given up for a while, and think that these deficiencies will also last forever. And wanting to fill the lack, we can become overwhelmed with our expectations.

So it's good to remember that expectations, and sanity, can often be over-rated. This is a season of life. It's a precious season that is unique and holds many of it's own challenges and joys. And it's good to embrace the joys fully -- as many people regularly remind us that these days will go by in a flash -- but it's also good to hold our expectations loosely. There will be time for the clean house and the weeded garden and the organized file cabinet... someday. And if there isn't time for it all, it all was probably over-rated anyway. Be thankful for today.

It's a season of life. A beautiful one at that.


Okay. Maybe Part Ten will have those practical tips I keep promising. ;)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Titus 2 -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Eight)

This is Part Eight of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the Introduction, Part One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

8. Titus 2
-- I've been doing a Bible study with a small group of ladies recently and in the process, I've been struck by the reality that this Christian life doesn't often come naturally to Christians. If it did come naturally, the Bible wouldn't need to give us so much instruction on how we should walk out this life. But it doesn't come naturally. We need God's help. And we need the help of others.

Titus 2:3-5 (ESV) says,
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Older women are to be conscientious about their own behavior and are to use what they have learned in this life to teach younger women how to navigate the path in front of them.

Now it is true that some older women are more encouraging than others. There are some very well-meaning women who, out of love for the younger generation, often give bad advice. It is important to remember that some sources are better than others in this whole mentoring realm. As I was contemplating this post today, I was reading through the blogs I typically follow and just happened to run into an article on the Girl Talk blog, How Can I Find an Older Woman to Mentor Me? This offers many helpful ideas so if you are looking for someone to fill this role in your life, I'd recommend that article.

Practically, there are several older women (who are not necessarily old, but older!) who I love to glean from in my life, and I'd love to share some of their wisdom here.

My mom often reminds me that parenting is more of a marathon than a sprint. It's easy to get caught up in a current "battle" -- getting a baby to sleep better or potty-training a toddler or teaching a young one to read -- and to lose perspective. The mission becomes all-important and all-encompassing. But really, these things are small parts of a much longer journey, and though each child approaches these hurdles differently, they typically, in time, master them and excel. Determining the best potty-training method isn't nearly as important as keeping our hearts and attitudes in check along the way. This is yet another opportunity for us to worship an amazing God amidst mundane duties in life.

I can think of several older women who often check up on me and pour out love and support and encouragement. Being around them is like a breath of fresh air. It is obvious that their joy is in the Lord.

And there are two older women who regularly remind me, when I start to feel overwhelmed by all that I am doing and all that I am not doing, that "this is a season." Being a parent of young children is a very different life-stage. I've heard these women encourage me in this way so many times that the phrase alone can re-orient me and bring calm and peace into my mental storms. But in Part Nine, I'm going to explain this phrase more and give some ideas that have helped me simplify this "season." So y'all come back for that!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Surround Yourself Well -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Seven)

This is Part Seven of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

7. Surround yourself well --  Sometimes we think we are all alone in our role and endeavors and hopes and dreams and fears and failings.

I'm super thankful to know that I'm not alone. I have an amazing God and the best husband. I have family that is always there to encourage me. My in-laws live nearby and are cheerfully helpful and pray for us often. I have a church family that is phenomenal. I have friends who freely give of their time (and have freely given of their children's time as well -- but I now count those "children" as dear friends, too) and love to help me and love my children. I have sisters in Christ who are in similar life stages that I can be open and transparent with and who point me to Christ often, both through their actions and their truth-based words. I have friends who have walked through difficult seasons with me. They are the types of friends who are always there to listen and process with me when I am confronted with difficult realities. I have people I can trust who have already raised (or mostly raised) their children who often have good counsel for me.

Honestly, I'm very blessed by the people who are in my life, and I do know that not everyone has the same level and quality of encouragement and support. And I hesitate to even call this section "surround yourself well" because I know that these people who are around me are undeserved gifts from a very kind God, and I can take very little to no credit for their presence in my life.

So the first and foremost way that I can encourage you to surround yourself well is by committing to pray for you, that God would surround you with quality people in your life who will care for you, encourage you, help you, and love you and your family. And I encourage you to pray and ask God for people like this in your life.

Secondly, if you don't already have a church family that is busy growing in love for God and love for others, find one! There are many, many reasons to find a good church. (Though I have to add here one of my favorite quotes that I can find no source, "If you ever find a perfect church, leave quickly before you mess it up.") No church on this side of heaven is perfect, but finding a church that is growing in love for God and love for others helps us grow in love for God and love for others. And a bonus is that God uses people who are growing in godliness to help sanctify us, and these are the kind of people who will love you and encourage you and support you in this path God has given you.

Thirdly, be a good friend. One of the best ways you can build open, transparent friendships is to be open and transparent yourself. Now this does require some discernment -- people are all at different levels of maturity and trustworthiness. But look for people who are growing in the direction that you want to be growing and work to build real relationships with these people.

Sometimes these relationships fall in your lap. David told me before I moved to Sacramento that he had found my "future best friends" and introduced me to a couple of gals that were also getting married that year. These, and other, gals are now definitely among my closest of friends -- and I thank David for the introduction -- but the depths of these relationships have grown through time, effort, honesty, love, grace, patience, forgiveness, and above all, the kindness of God's hand in it all.

Keep your eyes open for such "kindred spirits." Pray for such relationships, and when you find them, thank God often for such sweet gifts. They will be the people you first go to when it's time to "rejoice with those who rejoice" and "weep with those who weep."  They are precious, precious encouragements as we press on in this life.


Part Eight is somewhat of a continuation of this concept and starts branching into some more practical applications, so come back soon for that!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Repent Early and Often - Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Five)

This is Part Five of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

5. Repent early and often -- There is no getting around it. God uses children to help us see our own sinfulness. They are a sanctifying tool in our lives. One dear friend regularly confesses of her children, "They are just copying what they see me doing."

Certainly I could say that my kids each have their own brand of sinfulness, but honestly, where the rubber meets the road, I can't say that any of my kids has ever shown a form of rebellion that I can't find somewhere in my own heart and deeds.

This realization helps me have more grace and patience with my kids, as I am often reminded that God has responded to -- and continues to respond to -- my sin with much grace and patience.

I really don't like seeing my sinfulness boiling up in my life or being replicated in my children.  But do you know what? Seeing my sin is much, much, much, much, much, much better than not seeing it.

We. Have. An. Awesome. God.

God exposes our sin to us out of His love for us. Hebrews 12:5-10 says:
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives.' It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
If we accept that we are sinful and that God exposes our sinfulness out of His love for us "that we may share in his holiness" (I LOVE this!), then we can altogether rejoice in the means that He has given us -- repentance through faith in Jesus Christ -- to obtain His righteousness. 1 John 1:9 says:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We really have two choices when, out of God's love for us, we see our sinfulness exposed. We can hide our heads in the sand and ignore it until our sin grows and the discipline is more painful, or we can repent. Early and often. And we can rejoice in the joy of being forgiven by a God who paid the price for all of our sins and is still at work to grow us into His likeness.

An added bonus? Our children, especially as they grow older, are going to see our sinfulness, too. If we are modeling humility for them by confessing to them when we have sinned against them and asking for their forgiveness, and freely forgiving them when they acknowledge their sin, they will know that we are a safe place to share their struggles and burdens.


Come back soon for Part Six!

Friday, November 1, 2013

These are First World Problems -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Four)

This is Part Four of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

4. These are first world problems -- I like a nice, orderly, clean house. David likes a nice, orderly, clean house. I really like clean floors. I like to be able to walk around barefoot without dirt and legos sticking to the bottom of my feet. We also hate running out of toilet paper. We like good food and we have good friends that we like to be around. I like sleep. I love quiet.

The problem is that I often elevate my desire for a clean house or good food or to hang out with people that I like over my desire to have a good and right heart and attitude toward the Lord. 

And really, a bit of perspective can go a long way. Many people in the world have both dirt floors and bare feet as a standard way of living. Many people in the world don't have flush potties and toilet paper is a complete luxury. Any food is good food when you rarely know where your next meal is coming from.  Really, most of us are well taken care of in that we have regular and complete access to sufficient shelter and provision. We're not even being challenged, commonly, as to where we will lay our head tonight or where we will be able to find enough to feed our children today. 

Now I do know that some of our problems and stressors in this life are not merely first-world problems. There are times that we are over-whelmed with the trials and griefs that come from living in a fallen world. I'm not addressing those times in this post, but in the same breath, I don't want to trivialize them. There is a time for grieving and a time for longing for heaven.

But what is it that stresses you out? We each have our different triggers. Commonly, when we boil it down, many of those triggers could probably be thrown into the "first world problems" pot. 

You might rightfully argue, "But, uh, Christina, don't you realize that we live in a first world?" True. We do. And our problems are real and significant in our world. But sometimes realizing that much of what we are complaining about and getting worked up about aren't really as big of a deal as we think it to be helps. We can laugh at the absurdity of getting overwhelmed by three kids crying at the same time over different non-emergencies. We can find amusement in the irony of us yelling "STOP YELLING" for the umpteenth time. We don't have to take ourselves and our preferences so seriously.

Our houses may not often be magazine-worthy (or in some of our cases, may never be magazine-worthy!), but we can choose to be thankful for God's provision and blessing in giving us a home for our shelter and children to make a mess. 

And we can take the time to check our attitudes, triggers, and stresses at the door before we dump them on the ones we love. I know my husband enjoys a clean house, but even more, he enjoys a happy wife who isn't a stress-basket case over the fact that the floors are dirty and the kids are noisy. 

I have a friend who requested practical tips on caring for one's home. I'm not necessarily the right person to ask as I'm typing this from an unmade bed and there are currently dirty dishes in my sink, but there are a few tips I have picked up over the years.

  • Just do something. It's easy for me to get overwhelmed by all the jobs I see around me. I try to think of a time that I'm going to be able to get everything done right and seeing no such time possible, I can just throw up my hands in frustration. But really, it's amazing at how much you can get done in five-minutes-here, ten-minutes-there time slots. Don't get paralyzed by the mountain of work -- just pick something to work on and do what you can.
  • I don't tend to stick with any specific organizational system for too long unless it is something that I've made myself for our family, but I have gotten some helpful hints and ideas from It could be a useful tool for some.
  • Ask for help and be willing to accept it. There are probably people around you that have already offered their help. You may have a whole list of reasons in your head for refusing them. This very well might be pride manifesting itself in your life. Or maybe this is just my issue. I'll let you think and pray about that one.
  • Learn to be okay with unfinished jobs. This is a season of life. (I'll get to that more in another post.) There are going to be many aspects of life that aren't going to meet your previous level of approval. That's okay. And at the end of the day when you're lying in bed thinking of all the things you weren't able to accomplish and all the things you really must accomplish the next day, learn to stop, turn these things over to God, and be at peace. Ask God to help you to prioritize your time and realize that if you just aren't able to get it all done, it probably wasn't that important anyway.
  • Remember your attitude. This is a lot more important than the cleanliness of your bathroom. I find it very helpful to remind myself that my job -- and whatever it entails at the time -- is an act of worship before a holy, awesome, loving God. This life He has given me is much better than I deserve. I pray my attitude reflects that, more and more, in all that I do.
I'm guessing others might have some helpful hints in this category. Feel free to chime in by commenting! And tune in tomorrow for Part Five!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Remember Your Second Love - Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Three)

This is Part Three of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the Introduction, Part One, and Part Two for context and disclaimers.

3. Remember your second love -- You know that birthing class I referenced before? As I remember it, David and I were the worst students there. We were young (but far from the youngest in the class), in love, and eager to goof off and have fun before our little one made an appearance and changed our lives forever. We joked around with each other and often cracked up at completely inappropriate times.

In particular, I remember the doula scowling at me as she suggested we come up with a calming mantra to help get us through contractions. I quickly looked at David and started chanting, "It's all your fault. It's all your fault."

I was joking, and David took it in that light, but I've discovered that in this journey of parenting that often, it is easy for us as wives to look at our husbands and think that they are the enemy.

We don't start off thinking that way, but it can come out as our emotions progress. We're tired after several nights of interrupted sleep. We've gotten through a day of caffeine-fed survival techniques. We're hungry and trying to pull together a meal. One part of the meal is burning and the other part is refusing to cook in a timely fashion. Our house is in disorder and our kids are taking turns coming to us, asking us what we are making for dinner, and then telling us what a horrible choice we made. And our husbands? They are "hiding" in the bathroom. Again.

All of a sudden our frustrations and irritations, fueled by our fatigue and hunger (a bad combination for sure) start to boil over. And the source of all our worldly problems? This man that God gave us. And it is our God-given duty to enlighten him about all the ways that he is currently failing!!

But before we fly off the handle, this is a really good time to take a step back and get our thoughts and emotions in control. Eat something. Even if it'll ruin your appetite for the dinner that still isn't ready to be put on the table. Go hide in the other bathroom for a minute. Take your thoughts captive and remember your first love. And then remember your second love.

God gave you an ally in this battle. He's your husband. You love him. God gave you exactly the right person to help stretch you and grow you and encourage you. He's here for you and you're here for him. You've got each other's backs.

But he's not perfect. He's not going to always know intuitively what you need. Sometimes you are going to need to ask. And sometimes he's going to think that you've got it wrong. Sometimes he'll be right and sometimes he won't be. But he's not the enemy. He's on your side. He loves God, he loves you, and he loves your kids. He wants what is very best for your family. Just like you. And what's even better, both of you have an Advocate who goes before the Father on your behalf.

You both are growing and learning together. Sometimes those growth patterns are painful, but they are also beautiful.

So when you start to aim the fiery darts at your husband, stop yourself and remind yourself who he is. And replace your thoughts and emotions with truth.

Feed your relationship with your husband -- it's not only what you will have once your kids are long grown, it's also what will help you in the process of growing your kids.

Enjoy your husband -- he's a blessing from God. Be thankful for him. God is good and He gives good gifts.

Communicate with your husband -- share your burdens with him and ask him for help. Humble yourself and admit your weaknesses and struggles with him. Ask him to pray for you. Pray with him. Let him be a means of grace that you see evidenced in your life.

Love your husband well -- your relationship with your husband is a picture of Christianity that God has given this world so they can better see God. Remember to pray for your husband and to encourage him and to care for him. You might start to look at him and think: "He's grown up! Can't he take care of himself? My kids need me -- he doesn't."

But one of the very best ways you can love your children is by loving your husband well. Again, the relationship between your husband and you is a picture of Christ and His love for His people. We want our children to see that in all of the beauty it entails. You can't do this perfectly, but you can pray that God will enable you to do this well. And He is faithful and generous to answer such prayers.


As I'm writing this series, I can see how God has taught me so much in this process of parenting, but also how very much I have to grow. I'm thankful for God's promise to me that He will complete the good work that He's started. Let's be praying for each other, sisters, that God will continue His good work and that we will quickly and eagerly submit to His good plans for us. And come back soon for Part Four!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Be Anxious for Nothing - Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Two)

This is Part Two in the series, “Three in Diapers: Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years.” If you’re tuning in now, please see the Introduction and Part One for context and foundation.

2. Be anxious for nothing -- As women, as moms, it’s easy for us to let our anxiety rule the day. I remember being in a birthing class when I was pregnant with our first. The doula teaching the class was giving helpful advice for managing pain during labor. She said one thing that has stuck with me through each labor and delivery since. She said something like, “Don’t think about what might happen or how much longer it might take to get through labor. Just focus on getting through the contraction that you are in. Most women usually only get in a bind when they start asking themselves, ‘How much longer is this going to take? What if it gets worse? I don’t think I can handle this much longer…’ They get overwhelmed by their imagination of the future instead of their present reality.”

I’ve always felt that that doula gave sound, even biblical, advice in what she said. The Bible exhorts us in many places not to worry, to be anxious for nothing, to trust God for our care and provision. And yet so many of our life decisions are based on the “what ifs” that we can imagine with dread.

I remember one book I read several years ago that asserted something to the effect of “God’s grace is not sufficient for our imagination; it’s sufficient for our reality.” In other words, we can so often look at other people’s circumstances, combine them with other possibilities, superimpose them on our future, and then cower, paralyzed by what we've conjured up for ourselves.

In doing this, we neglect the very real truth that God’s grace is sufficient for today and that He is glorified and strong in our weakness. Life is not easy. There are many unforeseeable events that wait around the corner of our futures. Yet we can trust that God not only foresees these events, but He is sovereign and capable to walk us through whatever path He has laid in front of us. We might stumble along the way (we probably will), but His grace is sufficient, and we are just called to be faithful right now.

And when you do feel overwhelmed and your anxious thoughts seem to be coming to life in front of you, remember Part One. My pastor has a phrase, “Look at your circumstances through the lens of the cross instead of looking at the cross through the lens of your circumstance.”

And for good measure, here is one of my favorite Spurgeon quotes: “Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.”

These two first points might be the very hardest for me to practically apply each day. It's easy to just get into life and to forget to take my thoughts captive and surrender them to God's governance. But thankfully, His mercies are new every morning and it really is quite simple truths that can calm and strengthen out hearts when we approach despair. We just have to pray for help and practice returning to these truths in our hearts and minds.

Stay tuned for Part Three!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Remember Your First Love - Parenting Through the Little Years (Part One)

Today I begin my series, “Three in Diapers: Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years.” If you missed my introduction yesterday, please see that for explanation and disclaimers.

I often hear from moms, “I don’t know how you do it. I can barely manage my life with two kids.” My typical response is, “Two is hard!! I remember that. Very much. And my second child wasn’t a particularly hard baby, either. I imagine that one kid is God’s way of saying, ‘You’re not in control.’ And two kids is His way of saying, ‘No, really. You aren’t in control.’”

Some of us take a long time to learn that lesson. But really, grasping the truth that God is God, God is good, and we are not in control goes a long way in this life, and specifically for this post series, in parenting.

To my friend who asked for my thoughts and advice, here are some ways that God has helped me to learn to focus on this truth while parenting.

1. Remember your first love –  God has given you enormous blessing and responsibility by making you both a wife and a mom. You are to help your husband in his endeavors to love, protect, and provide for your family and to raise them to know His love and truth. You are to care for your home and to love your neighbors and others. You are to train up your children in the way they should go, recognizing that they, as all people, are born with sinful rebellious hearts against God and that He has lovingly, graciously given His Son to bear the cost of their sin and to cleanse them from unrighteousness.

You nurture your babes through pregnancy and infancy, care for their every need, sacrificially give of your time (and sleep) and hopes and plans and goals for the purpose of being the mom that God has called you to be.

But don’t forget in the midst of doing these good and right things that first and foremost, you are a child of God. He is your first love. God is God; He is good; He loves you, and He has called you from darkness and covered you in the blood of His Son.

God is for you. He has given His Son as a ransom for your sins and has given His Spirit to strengthen you and aid you in the process of you growing in Christ-likeness. He loves you. When He looks at you, He sees His precious Son and the price He paid to redeem you. He withholds no good thing from you. And He works all things for good for you, in conforming you to the image of His Son.

Remember His goodness. Remember His grace. Remember the way He drew you to Himself and forgave you of all your sins: past, present, and future. Dwell on these things when your heart wanders to anxiety, frustration, fear, or discouragement. Love Him. Praise Him. Enjoy Him. Be strengthened and renewed by Him.

Preach the gospel to yourself and ask Him for the strength and grace to show His love to your children, your husband, and those around you.

This point is pivotal and critical in life, and foundational for any other thoughts or points. Parenting has a way of stretching you to the depths of your ugliness. Stare it straight in the face and then dump it at the foot of the cross, and bathe in the love of God that is found there.


Continue to Part Two

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three in Diapers: Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years (Introduction)

I recently was asked by a friend and sister in Christ for any thoughts or advice I could pass her way. She is about to make the jump from having one very young man toddler to THREE little ones in diapers, as she is expecting twin girls soon.

When I saw her message to me, my first thoughts (aside from the quick moment of envy at the idea of her having twins. TWINS!! Yes, I know I’m crazy. But if you’re reading this, you should know that before you get too involved in my writing) were that I didn’t really know what I could say to her as far as advice goes. I mean, I could come up with some quick response to specific questions, but I’ve never had TWINS (at least not yet. I’ll keep praying). And my friend’s situation is unique to her. Everyone’s situation is unique to them. So what can I really say other than “take one day at a time and remember God’s grace along the way?"

Well, the second thing you should know about me before you get too involved in my writing is that I can say a lot. (Really. About just about anything. Be warned.) The night after my friend sent me a message asking for my thoughts, while caring for a nursing infant in the middle of the night, I started to think about many of the lessons God has taught me and highlighted to me during my past nine years of active parenting.

And then I started wondering if I should write a book. Then I remembered that I have seven kids nine and under and decided that I don’t have time to write a book. But maybe a blog post… series. (This will help me avoid my husband telling me that I need to write less in a blog post). Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep after that point.

Before I get started, I’d like to make a few qualifications since I will be posting this on the world wide web and just about anybody might read it.

One, my thoughts are aimed mostly at a sister in Christ – someone who is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for her salvation. Some of my thoughts are universal to everyone, but some of them won’t make sense unless you, too, are believing in Christ for your salvation and for the grace and strength to grow to be more like Him during this time you have on earth.

And some of my thoughts may not be relevant to you at all. If they’re not relevant, feel free to disregard them. I’m not assuming that what has been an issue for me is an issue for anyone or everyone else. And God has different plans and stages for each of us. Though these overlap in many ways, if they don’t, please don’t feel offended or hurt by my statements. Just realize that for that part, I’m not writing to you. God has you in a different spot for His good reasons.

Finally, I have not yet arrived. Anywhere. Many of these lessons I’m still preaching to myself every day, some of these lessons I’m learning right now, and there’s not a single point that I have down perfectly. I’m in a process. So please forgive my imperfections and pray for God’s grace for ME as I continue in the path entrusted to me.

So, with all that ado, please come back soon for PART ONE of “Three in Diapers: Thoughts on Parenting Through the Little Years.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy happy birthday, Danny!

You're SEVEN!! YAY!!! =)

Danny, you're a delightful child. You have more energy than a chipmunk with a caffeine patch, and you can talk laps around me, but this often points to the joy that regularly overflows your character. You love to tell jokes and you often have unique views on life about which we love to hear.

You pour your heart into whatever you're doing (especially if whatever you are doing involves the Wii, ahem), and we love that you are so exuberant about life.

I'm excited to see how this next year goes for you, my sweet, affectionate child, and I hope that as life continues to speed along, you take the time to revel in the love that God has poured out for you.

Press on, my caffeinated chipmunk! We love you and hope you have a very, very happy birthday!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Family Photos from 2012

Somehow we neglected to share our family photos here last year... our apologies! But better late, than never, right? :)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Happy (once again, belated) Birthday, Mikey!!

When you start talking, I think you're about to turn 27 or so, so it's no wonder that 8 almost seems to young for you. But no worries -- sometimes, you still act like someone that has a few years left in the training department. =)

With your new glasses and your great ability to articulate your profound thoughts, it's been a lot of fun to watch you become the young man that you are now at the ripe old age of eight.

You're a good kid. You have a heart to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and self-control. And we're sure that if you keep asking God for these things, He'll keep answering your prayers.  We love your faith that ponders deep thoughts yet keeps it simple. When asked what you should do to get to heaven you smile and answer confidently, "Nothing. Jesus did it all."

At 8, your favorite hymn is "Jesus paid it all." And your favorite line from that song? "Sin had left its crimson stain, He washed it white as snow." Simple. Elegant. True.

When I was sharing my kids' birthdays recently with someone, I mentioned yours and she replied, "what a horrible day for a birthday." I paused and then simply said, "He brings a lot of joy to a very sad day." You'll hear more and more, as you get older, about the day that terrorists attacked our country and killed many of our people. It happened four years, to the day, before you were born. But I'll tell you this, son. I'm very thankful that God gave you to us on September 11. You're a reminder to me that God holds this world in His hands and that even though people, in their wickedness, bring destruction and pain, God's gifts are good and reflect His perfect love.

Enjoy His good gifts to you, Mikey. Remember that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17) And remember that you are a gift from God. And we are so, so thankful for you.

Happy happy birthday, Mikey. May you continue to grow into a man who loves God and loves others. We're proud of you, and we love you.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy (belated) Birthday, Eliana!

*I'm a few days late on writing this post. Just been one of those weeks... I'll blame it on school starting or something.*

I feel like I always start your birthday posts with some sentimental ramble about how quickly time is flying and how big you are getting.

This year is no different. You're my ground-breaker, and with that, I get a wee bit nostalgic.

Nine years. Nine years of active parenting. Halfway to adulthood. Sometimes, I just can't believe it. But then I look at you and how beautiful you are becoming and how quickly you're maturing and I have to admit that it's happening whether I like it or not.

I asked you (on your actual birthday) if you'd do me a favor and take the next nine years a bit more slowly than you have the last. You just gave me your grown-up grin and said, "But Mom, I'm not in control of the time."

You do enjoy taking things very literally in life and pointing out any contradictions in our language. Unless, of course, you are in one of your delightful yet rare silly times. You still love many of the things that you have always loved... art and animals and random facts. You're a fabulous big sister, especially looking out for the smaller children... how you light up when you see Jeremiah!

I've watched you this year step out of your comfort zone to love and spend time with a sibling who you sometimes have difficulty loving.  And I am so thankful for this in your heart.

I feel like we are on the cusp of some of life's great changes for you, Sweet Girl, and I sometimes feel inadequate and unready.  That's when I turn and remember the good and loving God who is orchestrating these events and preparing us for this path, and I'm so thankful for His patience and grace. We'll get through, Sweet Girl. His mercies are new every morning.

Keep looking to Him, Eliana. He knows your heart better than I do, better than you do yourself. And He's good and trustworthy. Keep looking to Him.

And have a very, very happy tenth year!! We love you!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

'Lijah, 'Lijah, 'Lijah

You are three years old. Well, at least you will be as of 11:59pm.  Even then, you had to keep us guessing...

Of all my kids, you are the one that leaves a big cloudy question mark in my head when I dream about all the things you might do with your future. Mostly, this question mark just drives me to pray that you use your cunning for good and not evil.

At this point, I'm the mother of five boys, but you make it feel as if I'm the mother of eight. I always say that you are four boys wrapped into one.

You are the first of my children to put a hole in your birthday cake before I got a chance to frost it. You are the first of my children to be returned to me by a neighbor. You're the first to fall into a pool unexpectedly. You are the first of my children to carry a full box of Bisquick up the stairs to me, with a steak knife in hand (and a few complimentary holes stabbed in the top. I guess you really wanted those pancakes!). You are the first to learn how to light my gas stove. You are the first to discover where I hide the lighter for the candles, and put the two together. You are the first to figure out how to rescue treats from the top of the fridge. And of this morning, you are the first to both find the hidden (up-high) paint and use it to paint my carpet, half of a stuffed dog, and my right big toe bright green.

Actually, you're not only the first of my children to do any of these things, you are my only child to do these things (as of yet, at least!) And all before turning three! Dare I wonder what next year's tally might look like?

You are responsible for 95% of my (of course non-existent!) white hairs, and yet oh, how you have me wrapped around your chubby little fingers. You are smart, quick, and quiet but also sweet, cheerful and exuberant in your love. I think you love to sing more than any other child your age that I know. Your blue-green eyes twinkle and you make my heart sing.

With all the mischief that comes with you, I am so, so thankful that God gave you to us, as our son. And I pray that as this next year grows you even more, that you will know His love and enthusiastically love Him more than all the things into which you pour your joy.

We love you, Son. Happy, happy birthday.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, SammySam!!

HEY, YOU GUYS!! It's your birthday, Sammy! And "HEY, YOU GUYS!" is currently one of your favorite things to yell through the house. (Thank you, "Electric Company!")

SammySam, Dude, I love you. You are one of the most delightful kids that I know. (Please do note the "one of" in that statement. While I do have favorites, I have a collective of them. ;))

What I remember most about your babyhood is just what a delightful, quiet, sweet baby you were. You were chubby and you were late, but you weren't the chubbiest or the latest, so that's not what I first jump to in my memories.  But you were sweet and contemplative and good-natured. A dream baby, for sure. As you grew into a toddler, I remember you sleeping. A lot. I even asked your doctor about it, and he assured me that you were just growing a really smart brain in there.

And then in this past year, you really started talking. And Sweetie, when you really started talking, you REALLY started talking. And when you REALLY started talking, your entertainment value grew. Exponentially.

I love hearing your thoughts come out of your mouth. Most of the time, you just have really funny, random things to say -- like that you want to be a fireman so that you don't have to cut your hair. Or that the new baby is "Wijah's baby," and that "Wijah" is your baby. Or a number of other things that either I can't remember at the moment or that I refuse to put in a public blog post.

The other dominating thoughts that come out of your mouth are super sweet. I hear "I wub you, Mommy" randomly and often throughout the day. Or, "Mom, you are the best mom in the WHOLE world!" Or, "Good singing, Mom!" (loudly at church, with an enthusiastic thumbs up). Thank you, Sweetie. You encourage me!!

And then there's your sweetness to your younger siblings. I love how you generously share your prized cars and trucks with Elijah. And I love how you run up to me to say, "Mom, Jeremiah is SO CUTE! Can I kiss him? I want to carry him!"

I can't wait to see what kind of man you will grow up to be. Right now, I'm loving watching your kind, protective heart grow into action. Watch your daddy, little love. Follow his example as he follows the example of the One who laid down His life for him.

And have a wonderful, wonderful year. Happy, happy birthday, Sammy! We love you!!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

He's (finally) here!!!

Nine days late, and worth every second of the wait!

Jeremiah Joseph
8 lbs 5 oz
20 inches
March 26, 2013

We praise God, thanking Him for His kind mercies to us!

But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, "I am only a youth"; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord ." Jeremiah 1:7-8 ESV

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Honey!

So, there's this guy. He's actually pretty cute. And today he turns an age that can officially be rounded to another number that could be deserving of black balloons and "over-the-hill" jokes. But I'm not really here to tease him about how old he is getting (nor about how he robbed the cradle).

Today, I'm just... thankful. I'm thankful for this man. I dreamt about him long before I ever met him. And after I met him -- now more than thirteen years ago -- I still had no. clue. what kind of man he was. What kind of man he would be. I had no clue that God had designed, in His abundant love and provision and generous kindness, to give this amazing man... to me.

David isn't perfect. I'm really good at letting him know how very, very far from perfect he is. Probably too good at that.  But do you know what? He wants to be, and prays to be, like the One Who Is and Was and Ever More Will Be Perfect. And he embraces the truth that he's not perfect... and that Jesus is perfect in his place. He is thankful for the grace and mercy that God has poured out on him, and in that gratitude, he pours out grace and mercy on his imperfect wife and children.

He loves us well, fully, generously, patiently, sacrificially. He shows me a picture of strength in my weakness. He shows me a picture of grace when I'm in need. He loves an imperfect wife in a way that reminds me of a God who loves and chose -- in full knowledge of -- an imperfect church to be His bride. David is not God, but because of his faith in God and the active work of God in his life, he shows me glimpses and pictures of a very awesome God in his very character.

And he always, always encourages and points me to Jesus when I am weak and struggling. Which is often.

So today, I thank God for this man.

Thank you, God, for making David and for ordaining his path. Thank you for giving him a love for you at an early age and for growing him in wisdom and stature over his many years. Please bless him this day and this year. May he know Your love more fully and be blessed by those he loves so well. 

Happy, happy birthday, Sweetheart. I love you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Happy Birthday, Selah Girl!!

*Note: Yes, Aunt Danelle. I know this post is late! Sorry -- we had her "pretend birthday" a day after her real birthday. That's my excuse. This time. ;)*

Dear Selah,

For a just-turned-five-year-old that is fourth in line of what even I am starting to call a big family, you are anything but non-descript.

Some people think that you are quiet and shy... you do love hiding behind your daddy's leg or snuggling into your daddy's arms when you are in new situations or around people you don't know well.

But I know that is just an act. You remind me much of my little sister, back --way back -- when she was a kid. You're vivacious and sparkly and energetic. And loud.  You love people and have a sweet spot for little ones. You regularly fit in well with the big kids, too. But when you don't get your way, you certainly are not afraid to speak your mind and make sure that no one misses your point!

Your daddy always holds your birth up as a model for future children. You were born on a Friday (much like your birthday this year!).  I had an appointment with the mid-wife that morning, and we thought you might be making your appearance soon.  But not soon enough that I couldn't go home and walk with Aunt Charity and your siblings over to the park to play with some friends.  I called your daddy shortly after that and asked him to come home, and we headed to the birth center about 5pm. By 8pm, you were born, and by midnight, we were all back home and in bed. We had a nice, quiet, full weekend to enjoy with you at home.

What I remember about your birth is cuddling with you at the birth center, in bed, after you were born. You were so sweet and plump and quiet and content. And I was feeding you, and at one point I went to change your position. You yelled so loud that the midwife and doula came running from the other end of the building to see if I had dropped you or something. Like I said before, you know how to be heard when you don't get your way!

This next year has exciting adventures for you. You're five, now! You'll be starting school and learning new things. You're making a transition, and you'll be encouraged and growing in new ways. I pray as you grow, you'll always remember how much we love you, and that though our love is enormous, it pales in comparison to the love that God has for you. He loves you so much that He gave His Son to cover your sins, if you put your trust and belief in Him.

We pray that your life holds the peace and confidence and joy and thankfulness of knowing this truth, deep down, and from an early age. We love you and and we pray for God's greatest blessings in your life!

Happy, happy birthday, Sweet Selah!