Tag Archives: Jesus

You ARE going to miss this

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Yesterday at church a few ladies and I were talking about how we knew we were going to miss these days (you know the ones – the diaper days, the sleepless night days, the wiping butts days, the holding sick kids days) but right now it just doesn’t seem like it. One day we will miss the mess.

Can I admit something? As I was letting our one year old eat yogurt by himself, I realized I missed a lot during my older kids’ younger years. I look back and think about how I didn’t cherish their snuggles and their need of me or their messes like I do now. During those first years of motherhood and trying to figure it out and trying to be super mom (which just left me irritable and exhausted), I missed a lot. I didn’t take the time to slow down and soak in the moments of littleness like I do now.

I was consumed in the laundry, in the making everything from scratch, carrying two non-walkers on my hips, cloth diapering, and cleaning up the perpetual mess in our tiny house.

But now I now have a seven year old who freaking reads chapter books. By herself. Without needing my help. And who helps her brother go through his sight words each night. I now have a six year old who can climb trees and who builds crazy awesome things with legos and who enjoys golfing with his dad. I now have a five year old who will fetch her one year old brother from his pack-n-play at nap time if my hands are full (and she does it with such joy!) and will hold a crying newborn with such tender love and care. I now have an almost four year old who can memorize lyrics to a song like no ones business and rarely needs me to cut his food up for him.

They grow up fast. I can attest to that and mine aren’t fully grown yet.

These little people will always be my babies but they sure do grow up fast and need me less and are becoming capable human beings. Gah!!!!!!!

If only I could go back and just savor those first years of motherhood a little bit longer, a lot bit harder than I did, I would. Because those first few years were more awesome, more sanctifying, and more worthy of the mess than I give them credit for.

bennett

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Part of our story

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Today I was walking into the gym with Nora by the hand, Bennett on my hip, and my belly bulging under my shirt. It was very reminiscent of the days just before Ella joined our family (minus the “working out” part of course) and I was reminded yet again to not pray for the life I want but the life God knows I need.

Most of my friends know this but I’m not sure how many people outside of them do. When I found out I was pregnant with Ella I cried. Not happy tears but tears of what the heck??? See while I was pushing out Cooper I declared (in my head of course) that I was never going to have another baby ever again. Yep. Out loud it sounded more like “lets wait a few years and reevaluate where we are”, but I was donesky. Because, you see, we were dirt poor since I had quit my job to stay home with my babies not too long before that. We weren’t struggling but things were tight. Very tight. And I wanted a more relaxed life, not counting our pennies in and out so carefully (looking back these were some of the sweetest days ever). Maybe a life with more vacations and nicer stuff and new clothes every once in awhile.

Fast forward many years and more babies later. Here I sit living the life I never prayed for but would never trade for the world. Seriously. It’s simply the craziest, most humbling, exhausting, best thing I never knew I needed. And if it weren’t for God knowing what life would humble and sanctify me the most, I wouldn’t be able to share this next story because Ella (none of our other wonderful kids after her) would exist.

Garrett and I have prayed for big things for our kids (and little things, don’t think we haven’t/don’t pray for more sleep or better attitudes). We have prayed and talked to them about loving Jesus and what he’s done for them. We talk regularly with them that Jesus is a friend to sinners and a friend to those who the world says aren’t worthy of friendship and even a burden to this world. We have prayed that they would be a friend to those people because of Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Anyway, a few weeks ago Ella’s preschool teacher shared with me about what a wonderful friend she is, especially to a little boy in her class named Evan. Evan is completely wheel chair bound and has delays and can’t verbally communicate. He has an aid with him who takes care of all his needs.

God has given our Ella the sweetest, most nurturing heart (maybe not so to her siblings or always to her cousins…she is still a work in progress, right? 😉 ). Her teacher explained that most kids in their class are apprehensive around Evan but Ella is his best friend. She talks to him like a peer and plays with him and can now tell when Evan is getting a bit overwhelmed in class and needs to be left alone. She genuinely loves being his friend and told us all about Evan and didn’t mention anything to us about him being different except he didn’t eat snack with them every day.

God has given her a heart to just see people for who they are and that they have value. God is already answering the prayer that she would be a friend to the outcast. If God had answered my prayer for a more comfortable life over five years ago, I wouldn’t have this to share but I might have fewer ruined things and fewer stained clothes and a cleaner car. But all the praise to God that He knows what I need before I even knew I needed it! Praise God that He can see my own selfishness and need to be softened in ways I didn’t think I needed to be so I could see His command at work in the lives of all my children. Because, trust me, there are endless stories of how awesome the kids God has given us are and I only share any of them because it is truly the work of God in His goodness and kindness, and not us as parents.

So pray for the life God wants for you because His will is better. And if God gives you children, pray the big stuff and pray it hard because He hears the cries of us selfish parents but He knows better than us what we need because isn’t that true of any truly, good father?

“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4

 

Stuff our family loves

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I am always on the hunt for stuff other people love for their families. So I thought maybe it would be fun to share what we love and use in our home. We have so many different organizational systems, cleaning systems, meal planning, and food storage that I would love to share but I’m going to start with what is most important at our home…Jesus!

We have used many different tools to help teach our kids about Jesus, knowing it is ultimately God who will choose to turn their hearts to him. BUT, here are some books and such that we have loved (and even had to replace because we love them so much).

  1. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name  –  This was one of the first non-gift Bible we ever bought our kids years and years ago. It was a game changer. No more corny stories or unbiblical truths that we had to manipulate. Straightforward stories that show us the love God has for us and the plan He put forth, even in the old testament which is hard for adults to grasp and even harder for children.
  2. My 1st Book of Questions and Answers  –  I tacked this book on to an Amazon Prime order a couple of years ago. We were looking for an easy way for our kids to learn the basic catechism, since it is rich with information that all Christian’s should know. It was recommended by John Piper and RC Sproul, so I knew it was something we had to get. Since then I have ordered all the other little books for our kids. We go through this usually at dinner on nights when it seems we can handle the fun (yes, it’s fun!) and actually answer the questions.
  3. Ronnie Wilson’s Gift  –  We actually bought our kids all three of Francis Chan’s children’s books last year for Christmas. But, Ronnie Wilson’s Gift is my absolute favorite. I can’t get through reading it without shedding tears of joy over God gently reminding me that doing something for the “least of these” is doing something for Him. We don’t have to be doing something flashy or overseas for God to see our hearts of compassion for others. I love that this book gives the parents the opportunity to share the gospel story and not rely on prewritten text.
  4. Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress  –  Pilgrim’s Progress is a book that I feel like every Christian is told to read…but I haven’t read it. I know. I should. But I have read the kid’s version several times. It opens them up to a lot of questions and exposes them to true underlying sin. I know not all our kids understand, but it is a great place to be speaking the truth that following God’s path is not easy, in fact it’s quite hard, but God will be with you through each tumultuous turn. (I just bought the pre-teen version of this book this summer that we will be reading soon.)
  5. Chalkboards  –  Give me all the chalkboards. For real. These have been a wonderful addition to our home’s decor. We tend to write verses or hymns on them that we want to surround with. The main one we have in our kitchen has our family’s mission statement on it right now (Grow to know, love, and serve God with everything you have.). We try and have our kids memorize some very basic scripture in hopes to have it written on their hearts for them to lean on as they grow. God’s Word is so important and there are things we can teach our kids (the importance of regular bathing, teeth brushing, butt wiping, and reading and knowing God’s Word).
  6. Prayer  –  This one seems so simple but it is so hard for me personally. Not because I don’t see the value in praying but because I know God has ordained the days of my kids lives and I know that I’m just a tool He is using. Anyway, I’ve been feeling the weight of my lack of deep praying (I’m good at the surface stuff or the immediate stuff), so I’ve been praying through scripture. If I don’t have the words…GREAT! God does! Just open up His Word and not only does He tell us how to pray, there are AMAZING prayers already written. So, pray the big prayers for your tiny people. We have seen God answer prayers for our children that bring tears to our eyes because of the kindness He has shown us by answering them when they are so little. So, pray, pray, pray. Pray the important, big prayers.

We have a bunch of other books that we have liked but they aren’t necessarily the things our family reaches for on a regular basis (yet). We also think a valuable resource for us as a family is just good old fashion opening of our Bibles and praying with our kids. Nothing fancy and easily doable.

Crappy foto Friday

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This has been a whirlwind week with school starting. Maybe sometime I’ll tell you are decision to send our kids to public school (I hear all you Christian homeschool moms gasping at the fact that I love Jesus and send them to be taught by someone other than me – chill out.), it’s actually complicated and simple and we feel at peace with our decision.

Anywho…we had family visit for the weekend while my hubby performed at Brucemore. I had a dentist appointment and we ran a ton of last minute (oh crap! Schools starting!) errands and I sprayed waaaaaaaaay too much dry shampoo in my hair. Oopsy daisy! Oh, I also spent an evening getting certified to sell alcohol. Yep. That happened. But don’t worry. It’s for our church. I mean for a college ministry. Well, it’s so our church’s college ministry can receive money to support itself. But it’s really not as bad as it sounds. I’ll only be selling beer to paying customers, not at our church or like at a lemonade stand type of thing. I’ll be helping at the concessions at Iowa University. See, it’s not as bad as seems.

So, here are some of the random photos on my phone:

You don’t go unnoticed

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Our church is renovating a building. It’s a very exciting time for our church family! Our church is saving money by having our peeps lend a helping hand to get stuff done. It’s a wonderful opportunity of service and sacrifice.

My awesome husband has been spending as much time as possible there helping do whatever needs to be done. It’s great! I mentioned to him the other day how it kind of stinks that I never really get to do any of the “fun and exciting” stuff because I’m at home doing the “necessary and ordinary” stuff. Finding a babysitter and then shelling out the cold hard cash isn’t easy or doable most of the time just so I can partake and feel like I’ve done something to help.

BUT, since my husband is so awesome and wise, he said the exact words I needed to hear…that my time at home doing the “necessary and ordinary” was more important than doing the “fun and exciting” stuff (and that stuff is important too, so don’t get me wrong).

I’m sure I’m not alone in this longing to go and do the things that I see all over instagram or Facebook but can’t because of little people needing to be watched and cared for.

So (and it’s a big SO) if you are a mama out there wishing she could do more than just the “necessary and ordinary” stuff, know that it’s more important to be home doing the nitty gritty every day stuff than it is helping out with a new building (you can insert just about anything in its place). Because I will stand by this: raising children has more eternal value (and is seen by our Heavenly Father as something far more valuable and of great importance) than any building a church can build. Buildings will fade and need repair but children are a one shot deal.

You may never be on a recap video or in a picture montage of the people who helped make the building what it is today BUT I see you when I see your husband’s picture. I see your hard and tiresome work alone so he can help. I see you doing something more amazing than painting walls or hanging lights. I see your sacrifice of his help at home.

So thank you workers for all you have done and thank you mamas for all you are doing.

Crappy foto Friday

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The crazy never ceases to slow down. This week we had some work done on our floors – so for two whole days we had to stay in our basement and hang out. We did go swimming at a friends pool and caught a poo-ton of tadpoles. We have been trying to be outside for short bursts of time (to burn off energy!!!!) because it has been so stinkin’ hot out. Bennett had a well baby check up and has dropped in height to 27 inches (fifth percentile for height) but because he is so short he looks uber chubby and I love chubby babies. So here are a few of the photos I took (plus a sneak peak of the cute gluten-free cupcakes I made)!

I’ve also been reading my way through the Bible. My sister-in-law and I decided to try and do a 90 day plan and it was a bit too overwhelming to read that much (with kids) and truly comprehend and sit on what you read. So I found a 6 month plan which is much more doable but still requires quiet time to sit and really read and know and learn and meditate on it. But right now we are reading through the OT and would like to point out verses that made me laugh – one where God totally invents the male boxer (v. 42) and one where a breast is being waved (v. 14).

On being community

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This post is going to be all over the place but I decided to write it because I got all sappy tonight retelling God’s goodness and kindness of answering a prayer in His perfect timing that I had prayed sooooooo many stinkin’ times it felt like I was speaking into the wind where the words were just blowing behind me instead of the Person in front me that they were directed to.

What’s the prayer I prayed? Friendship. True friendship. In all honesty, this prayer started in college. I had friends in college but not the kind of friends who were my besties . (College people, this little snippet goes out to you – it is FAR better to not have any friends in college than to have many friends who don’t push you toward Christ. This is coming directly from someone who went through four years of schooling longing and praying for just one friend to call my BFF while there. (Lindsey, you don’t count in this because you have always and will always be my first BFF)). Then I got married and before I knew it we had a baby and had settled back into our hometown. We went to church on Sundays. I tried to get involved in MOPS and other mommy groups. I tried “dating” other moms on play dates but it all fell flat. Most people I met had all their friendship connectors filled and I had arrived a minute too late to really plug myself into anyone. I was desperately crying out to God for one friend. Just one. It was a pretty easy prayer to answer – at least I thought so. Plus Jesus is my bestie and He died for me, so what else did I really need. Queue this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iUU6jTqB6k

Well, long story shortened (‘cuz who knows how short this will end up being). We switched churches and were plugged almost immediately into a Connection Group full of people we knew nothing about and it was amazing! But this isn’t where the story ends and I raise up my hands and say I got my friends! These people were awesome and great and there will always be that bond of that group but half of us were sent on to start up Connection Groups in Cedar Rapids that would be the beginning of Veritas Cedar Rapids (which is another God story in itself). Anyway, years past and more babies were born…

I still remember the moment. And it still brings those happy, sappy, God is too good and kind to me tears. It was the moment I realized my prayers (the desperate ones, the ones that were lonely and felt like they were directed toward deaf ears) were answered. It was when I realized that God hadn’t been turning His ear from me but telling me all along to wait, that He had the perfect friendship waiting for me but that the timing of it would be the sweetest gift. One that I will always hold deeply too (just like the gifts of my husband and children and healing of our sweet boy).

I’ve written about it before but when Garrison was born, we spent the first three-ish months of his life back and forth from the U of I Children’s Hospital. It was exhausting. Our wonderful community set up meals and watched our kids and did everything they could to make those months smoother.

I still remember the day that Alexa came to my house to bring our family dinner. She remembered me telling her that hospital days were exhausting and how I never had the energy to feed my family by the time we got home (and this was well after the initial weekly trips to the hospital had stopped and when life had calmed waaaaaaaaaaay down). It feels like just yesterday that I heard God telling me “My sweet child, I heard your prayers. ALWAYS! I wanted you to wait for the friendships that I knew would be perfect for you.” And He was right.

This friendship (and all the friendships He has graciously given to me the years since – shout out to all my homies!!!!!!*), was so worth the wait.

The point of this post isn’t to gloat over my bestie (although she is pretty great) but really to say, if you are lonely, keep praying. Keep praying. God is faithful and He listens and cares and your cries out to Him do not land on deaf ears. And if you are lonely (or maybe you don’t even realize you are lonely because you have filled your life with busy-ness to distract you from loneliness), I am willing (me, Karlee Sue Hufford) to step in and be the community you need. You know, the one you call when you are sick and need diapers or medicine or chicken soup or someone to watch your kids or to bring you Starbucks or just listen and pray with and for you. We might never be BFFs but I’ll stand in until you look up one day and see your best friend standing there and you get to see answered prayer. Because when you see God answer prayer in His perfect timing, you always realize the wait was worth it. Loneliness is always worth seeing God’s work in your life. Always.

So if you are not willing to ask (I know the most humble of us struggle with pride (raises my hand) and it SUCKS to admit you are in need of friends – believe me, I’ve been there, done that) and I see you looking lonely, please accept my offers to lighten your load (motherhood is a heavy thing to carry all by yourself) and to be your friend.

*So I was totally going to write homommies (you know, a combo of homies and mommies) but I realized after getting mad at autocorrect for changing it to homilies a dozen times that homommies looks and sounds like ho-mommies and we don’t want any of that.