Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Oh those happy holidays, and the tantrums in between!

I love the holidays.  I always have, and I always will.  I love the smell of fresh pine in the air, the lights that glitter in the night, and the feeling of getting just the right gift for someone special. I also love the opportunity to spend time with loved ones and the compassion people show towards one another when they normally might not. Now that Mikaiah is getting older it thrills me beyond belief that she too loves and anticipates all these things as well, the lights, the trees, and the family traditions.  It literally brings a huge smile to my face (and to Seth as well, though I think it's a bit of an ironic smile because he does not at all get caught up in this stuff, though I do think he enjoys that we do.)   I am a gift giver, and this is my favorite season.  I just love it. With Christmas only two days away (two days!) and with the gifts purchased and the house decorated (the house meaning this beautiful old farm house that we are house sitting in until January, and thoroughly enjoying!)  I am in my element and loving it!
    However, there is one part of this season that I don't particularly enjoy however, in truth I despise it.  It comes in many forms and disguises, but it has one name...greed.  We can call it materialism, or the "giveme's," or a million different things, but greed is what it really comes down to.  Earlier this month we went away for the weekend with Seth's family and celebrated an early Christmas, like we do every year.  While we were away both my girls spent hours playing with these little Disney princess magiclip dolls that my mother in law has.  They absolutely loved them, and played so well with them that Seth and I both agreed they would be a great gift.  Now Seth and I have very purposefully not bought any Disney things in the past.  We are not at all anti-Disney, our daughter is as in love with the movie Frozen (which is the only Disney thing we own) as any other girl, but we get a little disgusted by all the paraphernalia and commercialism that seems to accompany it. After talking about it however, we decided to make this exception.  There was one problem however, we are not the only ones seeking this particular toy.  They had a set of 8 of these dolls earlier in the season at Costco for $20, an amazing deal since they are typically $5.98 or more a piece, but by the time we decided to get them they were long gone.  Since we could not get them all we thought we would just get the Elsa and Anna dolls, but these too were elusive and sold out everywhere I went.  Then this past week as the girls and I were checking out our groceries at Fred Meyer Mikaiah bent down and there next to the magazines and candy bars were both dolls!  She showed them to me and asked to buy them, and not wanting to lose the opportunity, but also not wanting to let her know why I was getting them, I fibbed.  I said "Why don't we get them for Elowen for Christmas?!?"  (This was a mistake, but it was what I said in the moment, so I had to go with it.) We had already finished checking out, but did another transaction and purchased the dolls, while only moments after we had done so the tantrum began.  Mikaiah is not given to tantrums or huge fits in genereal, but this day she truly outdid herself. She began screaming and yelling, begging and crying to have the "Anna" doll (this means Elsa, she is thoroughly convinced that Elsa is Anna and Anna is Elsa, and that Seth and I are just plain WRONG) for herself.  Furthermore she was adamant that Elowen would NOT get it, she wanted it.  She would not be calmed.  I stood there next to my cart with this screaming child for 5 minutes trying to get her to calm down so that I could go home with my long sought after gift.  I knew how much she wanted these dolls, and I wanted to get them for her maybe even more than she wanted them herself.  I pleaded with her, but to no avail.  I looked at her in the midst of this fit and knew what I needed to do, though it really truly pained me (still pains me as I think of it) to do it, and I slowly turned towards the customer service counting with my screaming child in tow.  (Praise the Lord that he knows how much we can handle and only gives us that much, as Sequoia contentedly sat in the Ergo carrier on my back observing it all.  I waited in line hoping Mikaiah would turn a corner and we could leave, but as my turn approached and the fit continued I walked forward and returned these two dolls that I longed to give to my daughter.  As the clerk handed me my money back she looked at me and told me I was doing the right thing even though it was hard.  It was encouraging to hear, and I knew she was right, just as I had already known, but it didn't make it any easier.  The fit continued as we made our way out to the car, the wind and rain slapping me in the face as I buckled the girls in their carseats.  As the storm continued to rage inside my car (I closed the doors and stood outside the car for a good 5 minutes, and called my good friend Evie for support - thank you Lord for giving me such amazing friends) I thought to myself that this is how the Lord must feel when he longs to give us gifts that we can't calm down enough or get over ourselves enough to be ready to accept.  We can get so focused on what we want that that it becomes our sole focus, and for our own good he can't even give it to us.  Over the next hour as I finished up errands (painfully as Mikaiah's tantrum contined the entire time) I pondered this even more, and was brought to mind all the ways that I myself can get consumed with greed.  I don't think of it that way, I think of it as the things that we "need" or could really use or enjoy, but it's still there.  A self-centered mind not focused on what the Lord is asking me to do, or who he is asking me to serve but simply consumed with myself and my own family.  I repented of this, this is not how I want to live, or how I want to teach my children to live.  And so as the Christmas season continues, and on into this next year I am trying to focus on what the Lord is asking me to do and what he is saying to me and not focus so much on what I want myself.  How can I even begin to teach my own children about selflessness and serving the Lord when I am not showing this to them in my everyday life?  I conclude that I cannot.  So while I am still sad about this situation, and still want to get this special gift for my daughter (though she will NOT be receiving it for Christmas...we will have to see about her Birthday, you never know) I am grateful for the reminder it has been to myself.  In a season that is torn between complete self-centeredness and celebrating the simple most selfless act in the history of the world (the gift of Jesus, sent to this earth to sacrifice himself for us) at least I have remembered which side I am on.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Motivated by love

      Over the past weeks and months there are many things that I have been thinking about, but one that keeps coming back to me is motivation.  What drives me to do what I do?  What do I base my decisions upon?  Should I homeschool my children instead of putting them in public school?  Why would I do this, is it because I have a heart for it and feel like the Lord is calling me to or is it because I am afraid of what they would face in public school and how it would affect them.  There are a lot of reasons that are good to choose to homeshool, or put your children in private school, but I am convinced that doing so out of fear alone is not a good motivator.  That is me saying that I cannot trust the Lord to protect my children, I must do it myself.  That is a dangerous place to be.
   I think most, if not all of us would say they want to be motivated by love rather than fear, but in practicality we often do the opposite.  In fact, fear surrounds us so completely at times that we don't even recognize its presence or its motivation in our lives. It keeps us from helping people financially, and physically.  It stops us from traveling and keeps us from exploring God's creation.  It causes us to hoard our things and resist sharing, lest we not have enough.    I am not saying that it is bad to want to keep our children safe and well fed, but as a Christian I say that I have faith in God to provide.  I say I can trust him and if this is so, then it should be shown by every decision I make.  I want to do things because I hear the father telling me to do so, and not because I'm afraid of the alternative.  Sometimes the decisions I make are the same whether I've made them from my own wisdom or by trusting the Father and listening to what he is telling me, however it is the motivation behind them and the driving force that makes all the difference.  When I am making choices based on what I feel is best (which is an idea pushed onto us from every direction these days, that only we can control our own fate and know what is best for ourselves) or based on what I feel will make myself happiest, then I am admitting that I believe that I know and can determine what is "best" for myself and my family.  That I, Michelle Kristine Finley know better than the all knowing, uncreated God, creator of the universe, what is best.  I think we come to this sometimes because we know that God's ways are not our ways, and his interests are often not the same as our own, and we don't like that.  God is not all concerned with making us successful and prominent and popular.  His number one goal is not that the world know how great and wonderful Michelle is but that the world would know him, and love and serve him alone.  These ideas do not mix.  I cannot live for the Father and at the same time live solely for the safety and happiness of myself and my family.  They are conflicts of interest.  For this reason many people stop even trying.  They deny that God exists or ignore his existence and pretend it doesn't matter.  If that doesn't work for them then they take the idea of God and try to create in into something that fits their mold better.  However, these are flawed because again they rely solely on their own knowledge and their own self interests, which are both extremely limited.  When we try to do things on our own strength and wisdom there is no end to the unrest.  We don't know what our actions are going to cause to happen, we can only speculate. I don't think we will ever know the full extent that our actions affect the people around us.  We think they only affect ourselves, and so we only take ourselves into consideration and this is a dangerous thing my friends.  It is playing chess with only one move in mind at a time, and that simply doesn't work.  (This is one reason I will never be good at chess, I can't see more than two moves ahead and it's simply not enough.)    Even if the most important thing in the world really was our own happiness and safety, with our own knowledge and all the resources in the world we would not be able to provide these things for ourselves no matter how hard we tried, and the reason is simple.  We were not made to.  We were made to worship and serve our father, and whether we acknowledge him or not, when we choose not to do this, our world is thrown entirely off kilter.  Most of our world makes decisions based on fear or the effects of fear, and we feel its force everyday.   So what can we do when we don't even know half the time where our decisions are made from?  We can break it down and come back to the place where we ask the Father about every decision we make, and whether it seems to make sense or not, choose to serve and obey the only one we can truly trust to have our best interests really in heart.  In 1 John 4:16 it says

"We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them."
  So by choosing to listen to and obey God, we are choosing to make decisions based on love, not fear. No one loves us more than he does and no one wants good things for us more than he does, we just don't always know what those things are, so how could we know to look for them?  Let us choose to once again turn from our own wisdom and knowledge and trust the Lord with our lives and the lives of those we love.  Whenever I have cognitively chosen to do this, the Lord has always made things clear to me (we all struggle with how to hear the Lord at times, but it is a practice that has to be developed) and has blessed me by my decision.   So as we head into this wonderful new winter season I would encourage each of us to re-examine our motivations for why we do what we do, and to trust the Lord with what he is doing in each of our lives.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Someday I will miss this

    All my life I wanted to be a wife and mother, and stay at home with my children.  Today as a mother of two and former teacher/nanny I am privileged to do exactly that, and I love it.  I can't imagine doing anything else.  As I nanny I watched other peoples children, whom I loved, but who weren't mine, and I waited for the day when that job would be mine.  I haven't been disappointed, though at the same time it has been harder than I ever imagined.  Disclaimer, I am a stay at home mom but even if I wasn't I think I would still feel this way.  This is all a part of being a mom, period.   Caring for and thinking of your children 24/7 even when you are not there with them.  I have so much respect for working mothers, and though I have moments where I wish I could "escape" to work just for a little while, I know that most of these mothers (many of whom I am pleased to have in my life as doctors, teachers, etc. ) long to be home with their children just like I am, and that when they go home each night their work goes on and on.  Kudos to you working mothers, and thank you for all that you do and the many sacrifices that you make. As I work with my children day in and day out I try to remind myself that someday not so far off, I will miss this time.  Some days as I go about cleaning up sticky messes (for the eighth time that day), running errands with tired and hungry children, mediating between a 3 year old and a 15 month old, getting up in the middle of the night to calm a frightened child, change wet sheets or fetch a bottle and then wake up early to do it all again, I can't wait to be past this needy stage.  These are things I will not miss.  But then it happens, as it does pretty much every day, you experience a moment that you wouldn't miss for the world but will never happen in exactly that same way ever again.  Maybe it's your toddler reaching for your hand as you walk side by side in the rain, and then looking at you and smiling, or when you see your children, even for a moment, loving each other and playing well together.  This is what makes it worth it, and why even with all the exhaustion and stress, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I will miss this.   I will never tire of holding a sleeping babe in my arms, or watching my daughter sleep peacefully in her bed.  I will never tire of seeing my child show compassion to someone else, be it another child, adult, or complete stranger.  I will never tire of hearing them say "I love you."  I will never tire of belly laughs or Sunday morning cuddles in bed.  I will never tire of seeing them figure something out that they have been working at.  I will never tire of the cute things they say or their impeccable timing. I will never miss the silence of a well earned nap time.  Of these things and many others I will never tire, and I will always miss them when I no longer have them.  And for all those other not so pleasant moments I am so grateful that the Lord has given me the grace to overcome them and be able to really appreciate these moments.  I am also grateful for the many friends and family that he has placed around me to offer me love and encouragement on those very difficult days and to help me make even more of on the fun days.  Over all though, I am truly blessed to be able to share these times and these little lives with my best friend and love of my life, Seth Finley.  He is a really amazing husband and father and I love seeing his personality traits come out in my little girls.  It makes me smile.  The Lord knew just what I needed when he put him in my life.  So grateful for the gentle reminder he can be to me when he comes home tired at the end of a long day and then happily plays with the girls. It reminds me to really savor this time we have. It won't last long and soon we will move into a new stage, but for now this is where we're at and we're loving it.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Walking a mile in someone else's shoes, and caring enough to remember it.

      That time has come again. The time when thousands of college students return to OSU and flood our little town.  Many of these students are international students coming to live in America for the first time.  In theory, I absolutely love this.  However, the other day as I was driving and trying to make a left hand turn (from a two way street) onto a busy one way street I found myself feeling rather annoyed.  Three very happy international students were also crossing this street on bicycles, from the left side of the street (instead of being on my right where I could have safely turned left at the first opening and they could have crossed when all three lanes of traffic were free.)  I kept looking for an opportunity to just turn in front of them, since they couldn't go, but they would nudge out there.  It was around 5 pm and my children were getting grumpy, as was I.  I kept thinking, "Don't they know they're on the wrong side?" And then I remembered, probably not.
      Flash back to nine years ago to where I found myself living and working for a family in Switzerland for six months, before moving to Germany for another six months. I did not know the language even a little, and even though I had been driving for years in very similar situations with similar laws (yes, they drive on the right side, just like us) I often found myself flustered and alone trying to figure out how things worked as I drove through town, adjusted to the new culture, and in general adapted to living abroad.  My host family was very helpful but it was clear that some of the things that I struggled to understand (often simply because of the language barrier) seemed so obvious to them, and I often felt slow or slightly mocked (mostly by the little boys.)  One day I was helping 7 year old Nikola with his math homework (it was a work sheet with picture problems using simple math.  For example, if Olga has 3 brotwurst and Hans gives her 4 more, how many will she have?) He was having a little trouble with it, but after a while I was able to help him understand how to do it.  At the end he turned and looked at me and asked me how I knew math, since I couldn't even speak very well.  His comment made me laugh, but it also revealed to me how he had perceived me (as I had probably perceived other very intelligent people who didn't speak my language well) to be of below average intelligence.  While I was grateful he started to see the truth behind it, I was felt hurt and embarrassed.  Besides the language barrier, I had other obstacles to conquer. I had never used public transportation at all really, let alone in a new place with a new language.  I also never ironed clothes (at least not more than 1 item every few months) along with a thousand other little changes I had to adjust to.  I longed for someone to know me, to know that I was a normal, intelligent person with thoughts and feelings and to understand all that I was adjusting to.  My host mother had lived in England for a year when she was younger, and did understand to a certain extent, but I longed for a peer to understand and to just be my friend.  Along with all of this I had just come from a very busy time in my life filled with going to school full time, working two jobs and an internship as well as leading a youth group and hanging out with friends and wishing I had a little time to myself.  All of the sudden I had none of that.  I worked during the day, but after 7 I was free as a bird and had nothing to do, and almost no way of making friends it seemed.  I tried to connect with people at church, there was a large group of college age kids and it seemed like it should be easy but they all knew each other and didn't seem to need new friends, let alone the quiet (yes they thought I was quiet, that happens when you can't speak the same language) American girl who doesn't speak much German, let alone Swiss German.
       That first month was very hard and lonely for me.  My host family did their best to include me and we did some really fun things together, but it was hard.  I remember thinking back to times where new people had come to my church and I had hung back by themselves (sometimes from a different country and sometimes just new to the area or church.)  I had often wanted to go and meet them, but I felt awkward and didn't know what to say.  I felt bad about it, but in the end I usually opted to stay where I was comfortable, with my group of friends, and let someone else include them, or not.  As I looked around at church I remembered those times and felt ashamed. If only I had known how hard it could be to be that outsider.  After this, I vowed, I would be different.  After a few weeks a couple of girls started to talk with me regularly at church, at first just a few minutes and then later they would start to invite me to youth outings and a college group, which I started to attend.  After I had been there about a month I found myself in my room one friday evening around 8pm, already in my pajamas and getting ready to watch a movie on my computer and then go to bed, when my host mother came in with the phone for me, I was invited to go spend the night at a friend's house and watch a movie. I am not sure if I have ever been that excited before.  It wasn't a big deal, we hung out, we watched "Remember the Titans" and laughed at how certain things just didn't translate, they really wanted to know what a fruit cake was and why the other football players had called the long haired hippy one.  It was a pretty funny conversation.  That evening we just chatted and laughed (even though I didn't speak much sGerman, they (two sisters) were learning English and were really rather good at it.  I had a really great time, doing something I had done on an almost weekly basis back home and never really thought of as I big deal.  I don't think those girls will ever really know how much that meant to me. Thank you Tabitha and Salome.  That was a turning point for me that year.  Though I still had a lot of lonely times, I had some friends who cared, and through them I gained even more friends along with some great experiences, and a lot of good memories.
      I would love to say that coming back to the states I stuck by my resolve and that no new person to cross my path has ever been ignored, but it's not true.  Although I have had my moments, I too have fallen back into the patterns of this familiar, comfortable life, and all to often choose to just keep to myself, or even worse, as shown by my example with the cyclists, totally lose my understanding of their situation and find myself frustrated and annoyed with them.  If I, someone who went to live in a Western European country had so many difficulties, when much of the culture and daily life was similar to my own, how much more difficult must it be coming from an Asian or Eastern European country.
     I write this today, mostly as a reminder to myself to exercise grace, understanding, courtesy and love when encountering people in these situations, but also to encourage others to as well.  I might find it awkward to have a few people over for dinner that I don't know at all, but I will never know how much it might effect them and help them along.  I might even be blessed by some great friendships, and even if I'm not, isn't it worth the chance?  I know I have lots of excuses for not doing this, we have a small house and our children go to bed early, but even just sharing a smile and a kind word can go a long way.  I am not sure how I can truly say that I love (or even try) to love as Jesus loved and yet ignore those who don't look and act just like me.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Learning the art of discipline

      Over the years I have worked with many children.  I grew up babysitting a lot as a teenager and then after graduating from high school I got my associates degree in Early Childhood Education, then going on to work in several class rooms as well as nanny 15 children full time over the course of four years, and in three countries.  I have become well accustomed to the art of setting boundries for children in many different ways and circumstances and have become rather adept at disciplining children, however there are always situations that make you feel as though you know nothing at all about the subject.
       If you go into a bookstore you will find tons of books on disciplining children.  Unfortunately many give opposing information, making it very confusing to know what to do. For this reason I steer clear of these books almost entirely (though if you're going to read a parenting book then I would highly recommend "Loving your kids on purpose" by Danny Silk. http://www.amazon.com/Loving-Kids-Purpose-Heart---Heart/dp/0768427398/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411364885&sr=1-1&keywords=loving+your+kids+on+purpose He gets to the heart of the matter, restoring and keeping the connection between ourselves and our children, in the same way that we ourselves must do this with our heavenly Father to be whole and healthy.) He also reinforces many of the methods I had already been putting into practice, while giving some new and helpful tools as well. 
     For myself, through all this experience I have discovered the power of consistency, doing what you say and saying what you'll do.  I also have found it extremely useful to try whenever possible to make consequences relevant to the offense. For example, Sally stuck her gum in the carpet, and as a result Sally gets to clean the gum out of the carpet (using an ice cube of course - never too young to teach these tricks of the trade).  No matter how many children I work with however, I never seem to stop being stumped from time to time as to what to do in certain situations.   My oldest daughter, Mikaiah is three years old and has developed this horrible habit of destroying books.  Not all the time, but every now and then when she is bored or frustrated she would rip them up.  I had tried hiding books (this usually happens during nap or bed time) but our house was too small and I ran out of room.  I tried guilt trips (yes, it's true) "Oh Nooo!  Look at our book!  We can't read it anymore, isn't that soooo sad?!?"  But nothing seemed to work.  Finally this last time it happened I waited all day to come up with a consequence, trying to come up with a solution that would actually work.  Finally I told her that she would have to buy a new book with her own money from her piggy bank.  Since she didn't have any money in it at the moment, I told her she would have to earn it.  Every time she helps me with a not already required chore she earns $.50.  This has been one of the slowest, most drawn out (almost painful) consequences I have ever given.  The reason for that is that since Mikaiah is just learning to help me it takes much longer with her help than without it.  However, I know that this is two fold. Not only will she (hopefully) think twice before tearing up another book, she is also learning how to do many of our daily chores. (Washing dishes, switching over laundry, folding clothes, baking, sweeping, raking, etc.) It has been two weeks and she is halfway there, but I do believe it will be worth it in the end.  I even heard her telling her friend Elowen the other day as she was putting clothes in the dryer in a very matter of fact voice "I'm putting clothes in here to earn money because I ripped Molly Lou Melon."  Yup, it's true and at least she remembers why she was doing it! 
      I have learned (and continue to learn) that there are no short cuts in raising our children right.  Usually short cuts create months and even years of struggles.  I know I am still young and have so much to learn in this area and in all the areas of mothering and life in general, but I am grateful for the wonderful women around me from whom I can glean lots of wisdom.   I make mistakes all the time, but there is grace for me and for that I am so thankful.  It reminds me to have grace for my children as well.
     We all have our good days and our bad, but occasionally I will see something start to click and be encouraged, or have someone come up to me in the post office or the store and tell me what a good job I'm doing (many times when I don't feel that way at all!)  What a powerful impact we can have on not only our own children, but on the mothers and fathers all around us.  How wonderful to be able to change someone's day simply be giving a few encouraging words to a stranger.  As odd or uncomfortable as it may feel I want to challenge you the next time you see a parent staying strong with a pouting child or following through with something they told their child, to make a quick comment or gesture letting them know they're on the right path.  At the worst it will be ignored, and at the best it will encourage them to continue in making these difficult decisions and give their children the boundries they need.  I know I have appreciated these gestures in the past more than I can say.  It is so nice to know you're not alone and that you're doing the right thing (at least in one person's eyes.)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bumps in the road, thoughts on the seasons we go through.

Perhaps it is like this everywhere, or perhaps we just like to complain a little bit more, but here in Oregon you can never seem to have the right weather.  Everywhere you go people will say “It’s way too hot out there,” or “I just wish it would be warmer.”  “If only this rain would go away and we would have some snow” and then “Please Snow, just go away!” About two days a season people will find the weather just right, and right now is not that time.  With a long warm streak around us and my AC broken you would think I’m one of those people (and some days I am) but mostly I like “strong” weather.  I like my summers warm, my winters cold, my spring wet and my autumn’s crisp and breezy.  I guess I like the promise that each season brings and how unless the summer’s get really hot I don’t truly appreciate a cool autumn day in the same way.  When seasons start to wear out their welcome that’s when I start physically and mentally preparing for the next season to come.
This summer has been much the same for me emotionally as it has been physically.  Some very fun enjoyable days, some very busy days, and many slightly uncomfortable challenging days.  Days where you don’t feel like doing anything, but that doesn’t mean that nothing needs to be done.  Days where you can see big changes ahead, but you can’t do anything to prepare in the mean time.   I have had a lot of ups and downs lately, but I’m determined to look back and grow from all of these situations, even the unpleasant ones.
In a few weeks or a month, or a year it sometimes seems (not really, it should be before October) we will (finally) be moving into a bigger space.  Our family of four plus our business (one that requires the ownership of many large tools) plus hobbies that require much gear, like camping and canoeing, have truly outgrown our 600 square foot trailer and we will be moving into a lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Philomath, OR right next door to a few of our friends.  I can’t wait! And yet leaving the trailer park means packing up (which I hate), and saying goodbye to the close knit community there.  Though I will still be in close relation with many of those people, it does change daily life more than it may seem.  It has been really fun living in the same park as my sister, two brother in laws and a sister in law, as well as many close friends, including Mikaiah’s bestie Elowen.  Over all however, I think this change will benefit our family in a big way and will finally give me a place to host people again.
Aside from the upcoming move I have had a few of life’s “speeding tickets” as I call them, incidents that could have been avoided by being more careful or aware but that happen anyways and we just have to suck it up and pay for them, one way or another, in the end.  The first of these involved my Yukon, a couple of bikes and a bridge and resulted in a patched up bike for me, a new bike for Seth as well as a big whole in our bank account. You do that math.  The second incident involved my daughter Mikaiah, Seth’s work computer and a cup of water and resulted in a dead mac book.  (We are waiting to hear if it can be revived, but even if it can it sounds as though it won’t be cheap.) 
 My tendency in these situations is to beat myself up overthem, or get frustrated with myself, but this is not helpful.  We pick ourselves up, we learn from our mistakes and we move on.  I cannot say for sure that these things will not count against me in other’s eyes in the future (particularly my husband’s)  but I can choose to stop feeling sorry for myself about it and, as my daughter would say “Let it go.”  This takes effort, every day, every time I face another of these situations, but I’m working on it and it’s helping I think.  Every time I think of the grace that the Lord has for me, and how much he paid to free me from myself and my sin, I realize how ungrateful and truly selfish it is to choose to wallow in my own faults.  I choose to see myself as the Lord sees me, a new creation made in his image.
I don’t want to just survive these unpleasant encounters, I want to learn from them and grow, and just as it is when you have three weeks of 90 degree weather, I want to use them to help me really appreciate the times ahead.  
So whether you, like me, live somewhere with seasons like the Pacific Northwest, or whether you live somewhere like San Diego where the difference between summer and winter is about 5 degrees (just kidding – kind of) I hope that you are able to appreciate the season of life you’re in right now and easy or hard let it prepare you for the time to come.

Just a note:  If you ever have any questions for me or topics you’d like me to write about in a blog, let me know in a comment or email them to me at michelles72@gmail.com. I’m always open to suggestions and appreciate new ideas to write about.  Otherwise I will continue to write about whatever whim comes my way. Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Regaining the mind of an athlete

     Growing up I was a classic middle of the road kind of kid in pretty much everything.  In school I did well, but not amazing.  In sports I was never the best,  but not (usually) the worst either.  I lacked the dedication of a perfectionist and preferred to "just have fun" rather than really pushing myself.  Some of that is great, though I wish I had pushed myself just a bit more.  I loved to play soccer, baseball,  softball and swimming as well as camping, canoeing, and various other outdoor activities.  I just enjoyed being active and hanging out with friends.  I had always been strong, even as a toddler, it just came naturally to me. (Look at my children if you don't know what I'm talking about - they get their build from me!  Grace and coordination was a different thing (which probably proves why my stint in ballet only lasted 6 months) but I loved it all anyway.  Never too competitive as a child, I just loved staying active. 
      As I got older this trend continued though I eventually had to limit my sports down to swimming since it was all year and five times a week (though I usually only actually went 2-3 times.)   I remember being in middle school when I first started really being aware of my bigger body type and being a little self-concious of it, but at the end of the day I was still stronger than most of the boys around me and stayed pretty busy, so it didn't really bother me (I was more concerned with raging acne anyway.)  I just considered myself athletic, and I was okay with that.
       A strange thing comes with age however and your body begins to change.  Along with this, responsibilities change as well.  I first noticed the beginning of a big change when I was in college, taking 12 - 18 credits and working three part time jobs (one of which was a pizza job with free food) staying active and eating right was a lot harder than it had been.  The pounds slowly piled on and the muscle began to slip off.  After college I spent a year over seas and made a strong effort to get back to that healthy spot, and for the most part I succeeded.  It felt great.  When I got back to the U.S. I moved to Bend  and started working as a nanny while sharing a duplex with my wonderful roommate Alycia for two years, and then moved to a townhouse with yet another awesome roommate, Beth. Over these hree years I continued to have a very active lifestyle rock climbing, playing lots of ultimate frisbee, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing among other activies.  Then in 2009 my life changed once again and I was blessed to marry my best friend and move back to the valley.  Like many women that get married, my body suffered while the rest of my world thrived.  The price of working full time, plus keeping a home, and sharing my time and energy had just begun to show...and then came baby number one, and after a couple of years, baby number two with three miscarriages in between, and one since, it all took a huge toll on my body.  Suddenly I found myself looking around wondering what happened and how I had gained 40 pounds in just 5 short years.  To say that I had stopped trying would be in accurate, I just simply couldn't keep a consistent enough routine to lose the baby weight (and more) that I had gained.   After working out and burning out time and time again I began to feel pretty depressed about it, and although I still haven't lost that much of it (though I'm beginning to) I am choosing not to give up and to keep working to be the healthy person I know I can be.  I'm was still active, but until this last year I really felt like the athlete part in me had slowly slipped away.  What a sad feeling, to lose the identity you had always had of yourself.  But now I have a new identity, as a mother, a wife, who still did many adventurous things and that was okay, but I still wanted that athlete back.    I decided to give myself the goal of a triathalon relay.  I would love to do a whole triathalon, but with my bad knees it seemed like a bad idea.  As I began to train however, something changed in me.  I have continued to swim laps off and on for years, but somehow having this goal changed something in my mind and helped me get up and go to the pool, girls in tow and all (as my sister faithfully watched them for me as I swam laps, what an encourager she has been to me!)   I noticed this slow shift in my thinking affect not just my body but my attitude over all. 
     Last weekend I spent a wonderful, encouraging day competing in my first (of many I hope) triathalons.  Along with two dear friends who helped me out and amazingly filled in with just a weeks notice as my other team mates had to drop out for various reasons.  Wow, to just get up and one week later participate in this is amazing!   Thank you Dawna and Kim!  I really have to give special props to Kim, who only recently even started running and then agreed to take this on, she really did an amazing job - bronchitis and all! (Somehow both Dawna and Kim happend to have brochitis and competed anyway!)   I had challenged myself to swim the 9/10 of a mile in 40 minutes and I did it in 36.25.  Pretty happy about that.
    Our team took second place in our division, and though it turns out there were only two teams, I still think we did awesome.  Most of the teams were composed of runners with friends recruited to swim and ride, but we did awesome anyway.  What a lot of pressure for Kim to be running with so many seasoned runners when she herself had just begun, but she handled it like a pro.  So proud of our whole team.
     All this to say that I want to challenge myself to continue in this renewed mindset I have found.  I can't wait to take on even more challenges and not only get healthier for myself, but be an example for these beautiful young ladies I am training up.   It doesn't come easily for me to share all of this, it's actually rather embaressing for me, but I realize that whether in the area of weight, or self esteem many of us struggle with these same things and it's nice to know you're not alone.  If you've ever wanted to do a triathalon but don't know where to start a triathalon relay is a great place to begin, and the Rolf Prima Tri in Cottage Grove is an excellent one.  I'm hoping to return next year and bring a few more teams with me.  The more people we have training the more encouraging it can be.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Watch out ballet, here comes Mikaiah!

         Mikaiah's been wearing tutu's and leotards for over a year now and her ballet shoes are almost worn out.  She's plied and curtsied and twirled and leapt through our little house to the sounds of the Nutcracker on almost a daily basis for months.  Taught only by her own imagination and what she's seen on Angelina Ballerina, Mikaiah was made for ballet - at least in spirit.  In actuality she is about as light footed as an elephant (just like her mother) but unlike myself, she still manages an essence of grace and it truly brings joy to my heart to watch her dance.  She loves to dance to worship music, Nutcracker music, country music (believe it or not that is her papa's influence, though he might not admit it) and slow rock from the earl 90's.  
      She has been talking about ballet lessons forever but I was a little unsure if she would actually like them once she went or if it would be a let down since it was so built up in her mind, loved it!  With her good friend Elowen in tow the two of them took on this class twirling and leaping with the utmost of enthusiasm - so much so that Amelia and I were trying not to laugh (not very successfully I might add) almost the whole time.  We were the only parents who seemed to have this problem, but at least they didn't kick us out - yet.  Can't wait for next week!

I needn't have feared, she

Monday, June 9, 2014

For my dad, for all that you do.

    Tomorrow is my father's Birthday.  We won't however be doing anything special for it, at least not with him because he is either traveling to or currently working on a ship on some far off ocean, but he will be thought of on this day, as with most days.
       My poor father has always kind of got jipped when it comes to Birthdays, since his falls close to father's day we usually just "bunch them all together" which most of the time amounts to doing very little for either.   My father however is a very practical man who just shrugs his shoulders and brushes it off.  What was he going to do with yet another set of screwdrivers from his youngest daughter anyway? Wait for her to borrow them and then lose them? Most likely.  One thing I have found though is that when it comes to "it's the thought that counts" when it comes to my dad, that really seems to be true. So dad, this posts for you.
    When I was a child I adored my dad (still do by the way.)  I would wait for him to come home from work and play catch with me or attempt to beat him at a game of gin rummy.  I loved to go for bike rides with him or try to convince him once again that it was my turn to go out for breakfast on Saturday (it usually worked.)   As I got older he was always the one I went to when my car broke down or when I needed someone to go canoeing with.  If I had any questions about the bible or just needed encouragement, he was there.   My father has always worked a lot of hours, and has often traveled a fair bit for work, but when I thought of my father I never thought of the things he missed but rather the things he was there for.  It takes a lot of energy and a lot of sacrifice to give of yourself so much and to really be there for your wife and kids, even after a very long day.  Even as a child I remember appreciating him help me with the dishes even though he hadn't come home until 7:30 at night.
     The older I got the more I started to think of a future spouse and found many of the attributes I wanted in a man were already found in my father.  As it turns out I did indeed marry an amazing man with many of these same qualities.  Thank you dad for being such a great example of a loving and faithful husband and father.  I will always be grateful for both of my amazing parents who really did a great job raising the four of us.
     Now that I have children of my own I find it pure joy to watch my father connect with his own grandchildren - my two as well as my niece and nephew.  He loves to spend time with all of them, even as babies.  I don't know a lot of men who are more than willing to tote a fussy infant around in a baby carrier for hours on end, circling the campground over and over in order to soothe one unhappy little girl, but he was.  There is also no doubt who will be making breakfast when we come over for the weekend - Mikaiah is very likely his number one pancakes fan! 
    My mother is one of the most giving, compassionate, loving people I know but she doesn't do it alone.  You may not see him, or hear him, but behind almost every fundraiser donation, fixed set of quizzing lights, or week my mother spends at bible quiz Nationals, he is there.  He is my mother's biggest fan and source of support and she could not do half of what she does without him, and she knows it.  That's what makes it so beautiful.  They are a truly great team working together to show the Love of the Lord to many.  Thank you mom and dad, I love you both.  Happy Birthday Dad and Happy Father's day too,  I hope they're good ones even though you're worlds away.  Can't wait until your return!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A life of discipline

      It never ceases to amaze me how much different my day looks when I manage to start it early.  Some quiet time with the Lord, a cup of coffee in a still house - miraculous.  It also never ceases to amaze me how difficult this is to continue, even having experienced the amazing benefits just the day before, though once a pattern is formed it does help a lot, it's just the forming of that pattern which is such a challenge to me.  I'm not just talking about waking up early, but most areas of discipline, be it exercising, eating right, going to bed early or even keeping a budget.  I have found it to be true however that the more disciplined I am in one area, the easier it is to be disciplined in other areas, thus expounding on how important discipline truly is in my life.  
      Seth and I are entering into a season of forced (by ourselves) discipline.  For us this is going to cause a lot of change in the way we do things day by day, even where we do them, but I think it's going to bring a lot of good into our lives, not just as an end result, but even now.
        In case you are not aware, Seth and I are feeling called to go serve Dan and Regina and the others at Love's Door 4 All Nations in Zambia, Africa.  We will be there for about nine months and will be serving as hosts to the short term teams that come, as well as doing car and other maintenance type things.  We will be living in Livingstone near Dan and Regina (hopefully, we will need to find a flat to rent once we get there and are hoping to find one nearby.)
         For a long time now Seth and I have had a heart to serve overseas for a season, but we (I specifically) have been overwhelmed by the finances it takes to do so, not to mention all the unknowns which seem to me so much bigger when bringing young children along.  But who am I to stand in the way of what the Lord is wanting to do in and through us?  The Lord has really been softening my heart and teaching me to trust him completely.  I am daily reminded of

2 Corinthians 12:10 "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."  
    Just this past week we found out that Seth is most likely going to have six or more months of work coming up on a big house he has been asked to help build.  We are working at simplifying our lives as much as possible and cutting out many of the extras which are nice to have, but really not necessary.  We still have more than $20,000.00 to earn/raise before we leave (hopefully in January or February 2015) but I am excited to see how the Lord provides!  We would appreciate all of your prayers and encouragement as we take this step forward as a family.   If you feel called to help support us financially as we go, you can contact me at michelles72@gmail.com
   You can find out more information on Love's Door at http://lovesdoor.org/leadership-team/
      In the meantime, I have more areas than getting up early and saving money to be disciplined in, I also have a tri-athalon relay to prepare for!  I'm doing the swimming portion of a tri-athalon at the end of July.  Exciting times ahead my friends, exciting times!
 We are still planning on going to Zambia, but it will most likely be closer to January 2016.  Trying to rush everything and get the money together just seemed like too much.  We are still very excited to go, but feeling better about this plan.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday

Here in a America Easter and Christmas are the two biggest holidays we have.  If you work somewhere and you get only two holidays off a year, those are it.  So why don't these holidays feel their own equal, at least to me.  
      As long as I can remember I have known the true meaning of these holidays.  Christmas is when Jesus was born into this earth, and Easter is when he died and rose from the grave to save us from our sins.  Both of these holidays have their somewhat irrelevant, though fun pagan traditions that we have grown to know well, Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, Christmas cookies and easter baskets, egg hunts and opening presents, and as always with our holidays, copious amounts of food.  To their credit, my parents really tried to bring the focus back to Jesus and what he did for us.  And honestly, they did a great job.  I enjoyed (and still do) these traditions while not letting them override the significance of these holiday.  Celebrating new life and giving are not negative things in my view, though their commercialism and scene stealing can be more than troubling.  But personally, I've never had a huge problem with this, we choose for ourselves where we place importance and what we let fill our hearts and minds - though on a broad spectrum of how these side things water down the holidays, I admit it's troubling. 
       What I have really been thinking about with these two holidays, has nothing to do with that.  I pondering the pure emotions I associate with the two holidays.  With Christmas I am filled with Joy, Love, anticipation and thought for others.  Warm fuzzies fill me up when I think on this time of year.  A baby in a manger, family gatherings, snow falling all around (not in Jerusalem or even Oregon most of the time, but it's still a Christmas association I have,) and lost and forgotten people everywhere being cared for and loved.  Simply wonderful.  I can't get enough of it, and neither can my three year old daughter. She is still talking about Christmas and wrapping up pens and blocks with her drawings for me to open.
       With Easter I have often thought of spring flowers, laughing children hunting for eggs, and death of a perfect man paying a price for the sin that was brought into this world and has been carried out by each and everyone of us, most specifically in my own musings, by myself.  My failure, that's what I have been stuck on.  Now I know that it doesn't end there, that Jesus didn't just die, but that he rose again and conquered death!  This is our hope, that now we can live with him for all eternity!  My problem seems to be that while it is necessary for us to acknowledge that we are sinners and need a Savior, I get to this point and stay there.  I focus more on the wrong that I have done than the wrongs he has wiped away.  A clean slate.  Not a chalkboard wiped clear but with residue of the past as I have seemed to see it, but wiped pure as snow.  This is where I need to live!  We have been set free!  Rejoice! Jesus has conquered the grave and given us new life.  All those new flowers I see and baby chicks represent something vital I have been overlooking, this new life that I need to be living.  So as you watch your little ones hunt all those eggs or simply see signs of them everywhere, be reminded that as we have been forgiven we are called to live a new life!  Have a wonderful Easter my friends.

1 Cor. 15:55-57 "Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[a]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The power of our words

      Over the past few days I have been thinking a lot about interactions I have had over the years.  It is amazing to me that something that happened in just a few minutes way back when I was five, or six, or seven can still affect me today, for better or for worse.
       When I was in the first grade we had a reading circle and each day one child would read a book out loud to everyone else, and while they were reading they were allowed to put others names on the board.  I don't know how public schools deal with discipline these days, but when I waslittle the "naughty" children got their names put up on the chalk board, supposedly to embarrass them into submission or something to that effect. What a horrible idea, but I won't go into that now. 
On this particular day during reading time I was feeling a little extra chatty, no shocker there, and the reader called me out and had my name put on the board. have always hated conflict and strived to obey and please those around me, and thus I was a pretty good student, as six year olds go, unlike all those "evil doers" with their names on the board.  However, now, in one mortifying moment, I had been called out as a "naughty" child.  I was horrified.  In a moment of frustration at my interrupting chatter (understandably annoying) this six year old did something that has haunted me ever since. To this day I still occasionally see Sarah around town when I am visiting McMinnville, and though I harbor no bitterness towards her, we were only six at the time, her actions of that day still have lingering affects on my life, though I am sure it is something she has forgotten years ago
        This story could be told a thousand times, with different names and circumstances, but I think we have all experienced momentary instances where someone hurt us, or offended us, often without thought or even intention, and it changed our lives, maybe in a small way, but changed us it did.
        There is however another side to this.  I also have many memories that pop up from time to time of similar situations that had an entirely different effect on me. 
    In 2005- 2006 I spent a year living in Europe, half the time in Switzerland and half the time in Germany.  This year was a life changer for me, and though I had some of the best experiences in my life there, as many times happens, I also had some of my hardest times.  When I first arrived in Switzerland I knew absolutely no german, and though my host family was very patient and helpful I spent many hours feeling very alone.  I had gone from living in the same town my entire life and seeing familiar faces of acquaintances and friends everywhere I went, to having not one single familiar face.  I had no idea how difficult this would be for me.   One day I was on my weekly grocery shopping trip for the family when I heard my name being called.  At first I ignored it, I had gotten used to people saying names that sounded like mine, but talking to other people, after all, I knew almost no one.  But then I heard my name again, and turned around to see a smiling face waving at me.  It was a middle aged man from the the church we attended in the town next to ours asking me about my day.  I had met him a handful of times but honestly didn't even remember his name (probably because I couldn't understand it!)  But it didn't matter.  I was known.  I was recognized and I was remembered.  This was a major turning point for me in my stay there, and a small insignificant comment on his part.  What a difference we can make in people's lives.
       The thing about it is this, not only can we make a difference in people's lives, but we do make a difference whether we want to or not, but it is up to us what kind of difference we make. 
        As a sarcastic person, I am all too familiar with how easy it is to unintentionally say or do things that tear people down in an instant, usually without intent. You can apologize until you're blue in the face, but to a certain extent the damage is done.  You cannot unsay the things you have already said, we all know this.  We all think back with regret on things we have said that we wish we could take back, but that is not the point of this blog.   The point of this blog is the potential we have to encourage and lift up those around us by being aware of the things we say and do, and speaking to others in love. In James 1:19 NLT he says "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry."    I want to be aware of the people around me and to connect with them in a positive way.  Even in my busyness I want to slow down enough to really listen to the answer from the cashier at the checkout counter when I ask "How is your day going?" and to offer a kind word of encouragement if needed, but mostly just to listen.  As a clerk myself I can remember when people would really listen to me and care, and what a huge affect they had on my day.
     In a world that is speeding up all the time, and turning everyday personal interactions into electronic ones, I want to choose to slow myself down, choose to connect with others and to be aware of more than just my own wants and needs.  As David says in   Psalm 19:14 "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer."  I want this to be true, that everyday I would turn the little nothings throughout my day into somethings that would plant seeds and bring God's love to earth.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mikaiah turns 3

When I was a child my mother had (and still has) a very special way of making me feel like the most treasured little girl on my Birthday.  I always felt loved and accepted, but Birthdays were an amazing treat, full of fun and surprises.  She didn't have piles of presents or gobs of treats (though we definitely had some) but it was evident how special we were, and we felt it!  I still remember my mom running up to my room on my 9th or 10th Birthday, early in the morning and covering me with a huge hug and saying "Happy Birthday Michelle!" and I remember thinking "She is as excited about my birthday as I am" and I was right.  I loved it.  My mother would ask me weeks before my birthday what I wanted to do, who I wanted to come, etc. etc. Anticipation galore!  For years I always wanted to have a pinata, and my mother (a do it your selfer before DIY even became cool) always made her own.  They were wonderful.  My favorite was this awesome frog she made, I don't even know how she did it, but it was amazing!  
      Now as a mother myself I naturally wish to pass on these amazing experiences to my own daughters as well.  Everyone knows that Birthdays are special (or at least that they should be) but something happens when you become a mother that changes how you view birthdays forever.  All of the sudden they are not just the day that you turn a year older, but they are a testimony to the day you (or your mother) experienced a miracle.  The day Mikaiah was born was one of the most painful four days of my entire life.  I have never experienced so much pain, so little sleep, and so much agony ever before.  It was truly excruciating, but unlike any other pain you will ever experience this one has not just a light at the end of the tunnel, but a whole new world.  It is truly amazing.  I will never forget how that felt.  Although I confessed to Seth while in labor that I did not want anymore children, I knew even then that it was a lie, once she was born I knew I would do it over and over again if it only meant that I could have this little one in my life.
    So each year as Mikaiah's birthday approaches (and I am sure this will be true for Sequoia as well) I find myself counting down the days and remembering that most painful St. Patricks day ever that led up to her birth two days later.   Now I can see that although Mikaiah loves her Birthday, there is no way she could possibly love it as much as I do! But this is not the only reason I love Birthdays, I also love to create and to plan  and to host,  however as a mother of two living in a small house, I don't always get a lot of opportunities to do so. 
    As Mikaiah gets older Birthdays only get more fun, this year was the first year she really understood what was happening, but that also means she has more opinions about how we will celebrate.  I have no problem with this, but forseeing years and years of ballerina princess parties I took the opportunity to throw her a kite party.  So much fun running around Martin Luther King Jr. Park here in Corvallis with all her little friends flying kites, playing on the playground, and hitting a pinata (yes, it was made by yours truly - with a bit of help from my dear old mom of course!)  It was truly a success (even though Mikaiah was coming down with a cold and coughing up a storm on the way to the party, she survived and we made it there.)  Although the weather was the cloudiest of the week, spatterings of rain mixed with rays of sun, it turned out to be (almost perfect) providing us the wind we needed for our kites to really soar.  I could have used it just a few degrees warmer though!
     The thing that really made the day complete though didn't happen until I arrived back home to a disaster, exausted beyond words but determined to clean up so I could enjoy relaxing, when my sister and my mother in law showed up, did my dishes and helped me put stuff away in record time.  I also had several people help pick up at the party, I really am surrounded by amazing people in my life.
   Thank you all for joining in with me to celebrate one of my favorite days of the year! Happy Birthday little girl!

  What you can't see in this photo is that there was a big playground full of sand, right in front of this swing set, thus my daughter took off her shoes. 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mikaiah my sweet little experimenter

My daughter is creative. My daughter is curious. She is energetic, experimental, hilarious, thoughtful and always wants to help.  She's not afraid to get dirty and jumps right into things.  In a word, she is two (almost 3.)  I love all these things about her, until the moment I don't.  Today we have had many of those moments.  Actually, even in those moments I still love those things about her, they just exhaust me sometimes!  It's not even 10 am and I feel like throwing in the towel for the day (that even with my younger daughter asleep!) 
      In an hour or so I am going to pick up my friends three little girls to have a play date all day (she watched mine on Monday) and I decided to make play dough for the girls to play with.  I got out the gluten free flour (they can't have gluten in their house due to sensitive allergies) and went to put Sequoia to bed, when I came back Mikaiah said "ooh, it's so soft!"  I look over and she has dumped my whole bag of gluten free flour onto my pot on the stove (overflowing into all the burners - at least they weren't on.)  If you have ever purchased this kind of flour you will understand this cost me more than a mess and a couple cups of flour!  Arrrgh!  I had Mikaiah go take a time out and when she came out she said to me (in a regretful tone) "I'm sorry I was so funny."  Children really do look at things differently then we do. 
       As the morning progressed she got flour all over the carpet and play dough everywhere, but every time I would start to get mad I would look at her and realize she's not trying to be a pest, and she had a good attitude, she just wanted to help and have fun.  That doesn't mean I didn't get frustrated, I did, but I took a lot of deep breathes and turned on some worship music.  All the time pondering "how do I support my daughter and her curiosity without just throwing in the towel and letting her take over the house?"  I have lots of ideas of how to do this outside, but on cold days like today in our little house it seems like the battle never ends.  I don't have an easy answer for this one, I don't really think there is one, at least not one I like, but I do think that continuing to come to the Lord as I clean the counter (again) and pull out the vacuum once more and asking him to help me Love my daughter as he loves me, unrelentingly is where I always need to end up.  I do have Mikaiah help me clean her messes but at this age it still takes more energy for me to do this than to have her do it herself, though I believe one day it will all work out. 
       Now that I have had a few moments to refresh I need to go pick up those girlies, I believe this is going to be a good day - I have to!  I also believe we will be outside for much of it, cold or not!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Growing up

I love watching Mikaiah grow up. I never tire of seeing her learn something new, she amazes me everyday.  I get excited just thinking about what she might learn next.   I can't wait for her to ride a bike, read, and clean her room on her own. =) But though there is much for her to learn, there is so much she already knows that I hope she never forgets.  She is quick to apologize when she's done something wrong and even quicker to deal out forgiveness.  She shares like a a pro and finds joy in it (most of the time.)  She takes joy in the little things, whether it's dancing ballet in the living room or swinging at the park.  She never stays mad for long and doesn't dwell on things for more than an hour or less.  She is super creative and loves to paint and draw and isn't hindered by fear of failure.  She knows what she likes to do and isn't afraid to do it.  She is never too shy to deal out compliments and hugs.
    I think we could all learn a lot if we took lessons from two year olds, I know I do. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Beds for my girlies!

   I am married to a very skilled craftsman, he can build or repair just about anything I can think of, and he does it with style.  There is a saying that states "The cobbler's children go without shoes."  I am happy to say that is not true in this home...it just takes a while sometimes.  This week Seth finished an on going project that has been nagging at him for some time now, the crib for Sequoia.  This is no ordinary crib though, it is twin sized bunk bed with (removable) crib attached on top.
    We live in a very small house and when I found out I was expecting our second child I immediately started researching different styles of bunk beds to accommodate a crib and found surprisingly little information out there.  My older daughter was only two, so I wasn't ready for her to be on a top bunk and also did not want Sequoia to feel too caged in, with a roof over her head.  Finally I decided to come up with my own design of sorts and then Seth took it and made it much better. (Though my version had more storage options on the right of the bed, including a rod for hanging clothes - maybe that will happen in the future!)   Anyway, the gist of it was to have Mikaiah on the bottom and Sequoia in a crib on top with storage on the side.  When the girls grow out of them  they can become two separate twin beds, complete with head board and foot board.  I must say it was worth the wait, they really are beautiful.  The ironic thing is that Mikaiah loves it so much she has been begging to sleep up top in the crib.  So last night we finally gave in and had Mikaiah in a crib and Sequoia (who does not crawl or move much) sleeping on the bottom twin bed.  Funny girl!
    I thought I would mention (in case anyone is concerned) that the bed is not quite finished, we are working on a latch to keep the girls from swinging the door open and falling out.  For now we are putting something in front of it to keep it closed.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bucket List

      Last Sunday Seth and I were able to go see the movie "The Secret life of Walter Mitty."  I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to, not knowing much about it.  It made me laugh but also inspired me, leaving both Seth and I discussing it and laughing about different scenes for a long time.
      When I told my sister how much I enjoyed the movie she asked me "How did you relate to it and what does it make you wish you could do?"  I had not really thought about it that way,  I am not a nerdy office worker and I don't live my life in daydreams instead of really living it in real life, but then she commented that it seemed to her that often when things impact us it is often because we can relate to them in some way. I think there's truth in that, and spent a little time trying to figure out why this movie impacted me so much, and how I do relate to it.  Maybe that's obvious.  We all have things we wish we could do, but one thing or another keeps us from doing them. As I thought about what those things were that I wished I could do I realized that most of them weren't so much things I was afraid to do, but rather things that were logistically challenging, taking a lot of time and or money, or were difficult to do or not ideal, with small children.  All this led me to make a bucket list of sorts, writing down those things I have always wanted to do, but haven't gotten around to yet.  (Some of them I have done - like live in another country for three months, but would like to do again, somewhere else.)

-Learn to scuba dive and go in a tropical location
-Go sky diving
-Live in another country for at least 3 months
-Visit all seven continents (Antarctica optional, but difinitely a plus)
-Attend the Olympics and attend at least one event (preferably Winter Olympics.)
-Visit New Zealand and Australia
-Try sea kyaking
-Live somewhere that gets a lot of snow during at least one winter.
-Live in a yurt of our making (possibly several yurts grouped together.)
-Learn to knit competently
-Take a community college class and learn glass blowing and/or pottery
-Ride on an elephant
-Compete in a triathalon
-Ride a snow mobile

    I have often thought about writing a bucket list, but have resisted because it seems easier not to write down things that don't seem attainable, after all, what's the point of talking about something you will probably never do.  I think though that really that is the point of a bucket list - putting aside all the fears and obstacles that hold us back from attaining our desires and throwing out there the things that excite and inspire us so that we never stop striving and pushing ourselves. That's how I want to live in every area of my life, trusting not myself but Christ in me to help me do what he has called me to do and not be discouraged because of the challenges that stand in my way.  I never want to look at life as a list of things that I can or can't do by myself, but to listen the Lord and his leading and trust that he can and will do in and through me all that he has called me to do and to be.