Sunday, April 29, 2012

God spins with joy?!

Did you know that God actually does happy dances because of His love for us? 

If you're anything like me, that sounds almost sacrilegious. I've always seen God's love for me as a more serious thing, a love based on the will, not emotions. 

During a special time of focused prayer/Bible study, I did a bit of a study on joy. My first surprise was just how much we are commanded to be joyful. My second, was that joy is actually a part of God's nature - which is why we are told to imitate it. My final surprise though, reduced me to tears. 

I read a passage that is very familiar to me, and that I've always loved, but this time I went a step further and dug into the meaning of the words a bit more. 

Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty. He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy. He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing." 

The first 'rejoice' means "to be bright, cheerful, make mirth". Honestly, I've never associated brightness, cheerfulness, or mirth with God, and it was amazing to think that not only is this part of His nature, but it's how He feels about ME!

The next 'joy' means "blithesomeness or glee. Mirth, pleasure, rejoicing". Glee?!

The part that made me cry though was the meaning of the next 'joy'. It means to "spin around under the influence of any violent emotion". 

Now, those of you who know me well know that I can completely relate to a type of joy that involves spinning and violent emotion. However, I've always seen this as a more negative part of who I am, the part of me that makes other more "serious, and thus more Godly" people (my perception) see me as a bit on the less mature side. 

I can't begin to explain what it meant to me to discover that this part of who I am is actually a reflection of the character of God! 
And, this is how He feels about us! He actually spins around because of the violent emotion he feels over us and sings! 

Doesn't that make you feel special? And humbled?

This is just a piece of the journey God has been taking me on over the past few months to show me how much He truly LOVES me, and I hope it fills your heart with as much joy and awe as it does mine! :-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Moments in our week...

This week has overall gone much better than I expected, as my first week on my own. I admit, today has been a 'low' day in a number of ways. However, I've been telling myself that after two great days (albeit, containing a number of crazy moments), a not-so-great day is to be expected, and this one contains a few external factors as well (like a body that is NOT functioning the way it should considering how much Markus is nursing... :-P).

Here are a few glimpses of our week!

 Both boys were much more captivated than I expected by the simple exercise of practicing pouring. Peter worked with rice, and Timothy with pasta - kept both boys busy for quite some time!!

We finally made our snowman - as the snow was finally sticking together!! I think we pretty much used up the rest of our snow - it was replaced this morning, but melted again by this afternoon - crazy weather! 

 This activity we did today, one I was REALLY excited about, and one that worked out great! Peter matched each number with the correct amount of beans. I started out getting him to put them into groups of two, then realized that was information overload for the poor guy, so had him just put them in piles, then we worked on sorting by twos later.
 I anticipated Timothy wanting to imitate, so made him a sheet as well, although it turned out he was much more interested in grabbing Peter's beans than playing with his own. :-P

 So, we put it away and pulled it out again at quiet time when Peter could work uninterrupted.
 This adorable little munchkin is becoming so alert and responsive! I knelt down beside him to talk tonight, and he just beamed a great big smile - so sweet. :-D
This is how I've gotten a great deal done this week, and I love having him close but my hands free - really love the Moby Wrap!! 
Having a hard time believing it's only Wednesday... :-P

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Building memories

One of the things I've been working on recently is taking more deliberate time to just play with the boys, time that isn't focused on accomplishing or even teaching so much as just building memories, enjoying each other, and being a part of what is important to a 3yrs old and an 19mon old. 

This does not in any way come naturally to me. I can juggle a million things at once, keep a clean house, do paperwork for the business, feed and care for my children, but just sitting and playing with blocks for long periods of time? Not so much. I sit there for 10 min and my mind starts hopping over everything that I should be 'accomplishing'. And I forget to just seize the moment. 

It has been very good for me to have these 5 weeks of not being able to DO and ACCOMPLISH. I pray the lessons I've been learning will stick when I don't have anyone around to do the dishes, laundry, cleaning, and make the meals. That I will remember what is truly important. 

That being said, here are a few pictures from today and yesterday - memories built instead of accomplishments recorded. :-) 
Connecting neurons... :-D

A nod to my childhood love of building houses for our gerbil... We built a house for the hamster, Oreo

Nothing like the gleeful delight of a child with a fuzzy animal
I built Peter a fort for his quiet time yesterday, something he wanted repeated today... :-D

Enjoying Mousetrap with Papa!


Sometimes parenting is overwhelming. 

Overall, I feel pretty secure in who I am as a wife. 
As a general rule, I am confident in my abilities as a homemaker. 
But somehow, the more I learn, the more I see, the more I live, the less I feel like a good mother. 
Actually, if I'm perfectly honest with myself, I don't want to be a good mother. I want to be a perfect mother. Or, at least, I'd like to be able to ensure that I can pick my areas of imperfection and make sure that they won't negatively impact my children. 
Because, there is nothing that scares me as much as looking back in 15, 20, 25 years and thinking "if only I had done _____ differently, maybe he wouldn't be struggling with ___". 
Or of having a broken relationship with any of my children. 
Or of watching them live a life of rebellion against God. 
Or of seeing them making incredibly stupid choices and refusing to listen to input from anyone else. 
But there is so much I need to juggle in order to "do it all right"! 
I need to be...
Consistent in discipline, without promoting outward conformity
Building relationships with my children, while still requiring obedience
Knowing how to give wise consequences instead of merely punishing
Teaching them skills of math, English, etc, while imparting a lifelong love and habit of learning
Making a habit of prayer and Bible reading, without allowing it to become rote, dry, and meaningless
Providing structure and routine, but giving them time to explore and learn on their own
Spending time with my children, but also teaching them the skill of entertaining themselves.
Letting my boys rough-house and wrestle, but also to be quiet, gentle, considerate, and thoughtful
Teaching right behavior, but also teaching that without Christ we are unable to do right
Finding the balance between teaching consequences and giving grace
Making sure they always feel heard, even when I don't agree
Knowing when to instruct, and when to simply listen
 And this is just a smattering... there's making sure the 'atmosphere' is right (keeping the house clean AND beautiful), making sure I am being everything I want them to be (since they will learn the most from what I do, not what I say), exposing them to/giving them a solid musical foundation, teaching good habits (like remembering to wash their hands before supper, even though Mommy regularly forgets), establishing regular routines (something I find more challenging than I would have thought), making sure I'm making the most of every minute of these vitally important first five year of each child's life, and so much more... 

I have appreciated the opportunity to do more reading, planning, and researching over the past 5 weeks, but, as you're probably guessing, have found it a bit overwhelming. There is so much to be doing as a mother that it is easy to 'freeze' and revert back to responding to life as it comes rather than planning and anticipating each day. 

And, of course, none of this even touches on my very real humanity and sinfulness, the times I get frustrated and impatient, respond in a way that I KNOW isn't best, forget all the question mark responses... Not to mention having only so much time and needing to pick what is best out of all the good things to be doing... 
Somehow, I so easily lapse into thinking that if I can just do everything "perfectly", my children will 'turn out right'. I forget that God, not myself, is the one that changes hearts. I forget that my children are people with the responsibility to choose for themselves the path they will walk.
I am learning to accept that I am not and never will be perfect, that I cannot chose for my children, and that I cannot change their hearts. 
Why then do I try at all, and if it is God that does the work, what is my responsibility? My job is simply to live in obedience to God, repenting when I don't, and seeking Him when I'm unsure. 
I am not doing this because I have the assurance that if I do so He will protect me from heartache and make my children on-fire, sold out, soldiers of the Cross. I chose to sacrifice for my children, to pour out my life in teaching and raising them out of love for and obedience to my Saviour, Who gave His life for me. 
And I trust that He is good.