Counting It All Joy

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  ~ James 1:2-4

I am on a journey…a journey to find joy in all things, ALL things.  And on this journey I’m learning that there is joy in the letting go and laying down — in the letting go of  perfection and expectations and in the laying down of busyness and distractions — expectations of who I should be, who my husband should be, who our children should be, and distractions that steal my attention from the truly important things in life.  I’m finding joy in trading the material for the eternal and trading perfection for what’s real.  Because it’s not a full schedule of extracurricular activities and a social agenda that makes a happy life, or a house full of all the latest must-have gadgets and toys.  It’s the rested mommy who has the energy for just one more story.  It’s the undistracted daddy who has time to throw the ball 5 more minutes.  It’s the family who gathers around the dinner table to share their day with their closest companions.  These are what make a happy life.  It’s the little things, the everyday things, the ordinary things, the monotonous things that matter, and it’s the sharing of these seemingly small things that turns a house into a home.  Day in and day out — caring for one another, sharing with one another, loving one another — it’s what makes a family a family.  And it’s what brings warmth to my heart, strength to my frame, and life to my soul.  It brings joy to my journey.

A New Perspective on Messes

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection recently and these are some of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over:

If I want my kids to grow up knowing that they can always come to me for help, should I ever refuse to give them my help now? Like when they have made a mess of their toys, for instance, do I really want to respond with “I didn’t make that mess; you clean it up.  If you made the mess, you can clean it up.”  Do I want them to become unwilling to help others with their messes?  After all, kids learn by example.

And why have I become so disgusted with messes anyways?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with messes.  Messes are good.  They are a sign that living has been going on.  I learned from Rich Mullins the proverb, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes abundant harvests.” (Proverbs 14:4)  You know what that means?  Life is messy.  The stall of an ox will get pretty nasty, but without the ox how will you reap your harvest?

And something else about messes…they provide the opportunity for much learning and development to take place.  How will my kids gain the responsibility to clean up after themselves without the mess?  And the bigger the mess, the greater opportunity for patience and perseverance exists.  They will achieve a sense of accomplishment and earn the right to be proud…the blessings of work.  Side note:  Work was not a part of the curse in Genesis; we were always made to work and to produce.  The curse was working laboriously.

So I’m learning to be thankful for all the messes that occupy my day, and that a perfectly clean house is not necessarily the sign of a good mommy; but rather the opposite is true.  The house of a good mommy will have toys scattered about randomly, and a trail of crumbs stemming from the Kitchen table, and perhaps a stopped-up toilet with too much toilet paper in it…all signs that there is living and learning going on.  The soccer balls and bikes might be littering the driveway and back yard, but a good mommy knows that there can be no fun without a little mess happening!

Each One Is My Favorite

I don’t have much time to spend on my blog today, but nevertheless, I still have a few thoughts to jot down.  Through all the hustle and bustle and the busy, busy, business of everything I’ve got going on this week, I must not forget the things that really matter…the small things, the seemingly insignificant things, the everyday things, the ordinary things.  Now it might seem that my cousin’s wedding that’s taking place on Saturday (in just 3 days) - the one I’m in charge of making look spectacular – would be the top priority on my agenda, but it, in fact, is not.  My most urgent task, the one of utmost importance, is to spend every moment I can with my children, and to not let them slip away without me relishing the joys of mommyhood.  My goal is to convince each one of my children that they are my favorite…because they are…each one of them is my favorite.

This is a short little video that is well worth your time if you are a mommy.

A Lesson in Parenting from Psalm 19

There is a passage in Psalms that I have been thinking a great deal on.  Psalm 19:7-11 says

The instruction of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, making the inexperienced wise.  The precepts of the Lord are right, making the heart glad; the commandment of the Lord is radiant, making the eyes light up.  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are reliable and altogether righteous.  They are more desirable than gold — than an abundance of pure gold; and sweeter than honey — than honey dripping from the comb.  In addition, Your servant is warned by them; there is great reward in keeping them.

I have recently felt the Lord leading me to spend some time in Psalms to have my joy and passion stirred.  When I came to this passage I couldn’t get away from it; I just kept reading it over and over, knowing that there was something more that I was supposed to get than what I was already understanding.  After spending a couple of days meditating on these words, my thoughts shifted from dwelling on myself and moved onto my children…

Are my instructions for our children perfect to the point of reviving their souls?  Is the testimony that I share with them trustworthy enough to give them wisdom?  Are my rules right?  Do they make my children’s hearts glad and give them joy?  Do my commands lead them to light?  Are they reliable and altogether righteous?  Is what I’m teaching my children more desirable than gold and sweeter than honey?  Will it lead them to a sweet, rich life?  Will it lead them to righteousness and keep them from evil?  Will they find great reward in what they learn from me?

So now, I find myself with the need to reevaluate my parenting – my goals, motivations, and priorities — and gratefully so.  I am thankful that I have The Good Father to guide me and teach me how to be the mother he desires me to be.


I’m feeling a little guilty for neglecting my blog.  Life has gotten eventful in recent weeks, and every time I would sit down to write, something would pull me away.  But, however bad this turns out to be, I promised myself I’d actually finish this time.

Bella played her last soccer game last night, which as fun as it was, I have to say I am relieved.  I loved watching her play (when she actually did), but in the meantime, T Ball started.  So for a little while, we had sports 4 nights a week.  But that wasn’t so bad…until Judah’s games were rescheduled on the same night as Bella’s soccer practice.  So I would have to tell myself it was okay to miss his game to coach Bella’s soccer team, but it didn’t make it any easier.

Also, during all of our running around Justice got strep throat.  Nothing to serious or anything we couldn’t handle.  We caught it early, and he was feeling better soon.  However, just a week later Judah got sick and we found out that he has asthma :( It was rough for a while, a little scary for this mommy, but all is fine now.  And he played awesome at his first game.

Mother’s Day was great this year.  After spending time with most of my family, I got to do my favorite thing…come home and get in my pjs and spend the night with my favorite people.

Last Saturday was the most eventful.  After staying up all night getting things ready for Justice’s birthday party, we headed to Radcliff at 8:30 am to the Walk for Life, a fundraiser we participate in every year for our local pregnancy crisis center.  My mom and I walked 2 miles, pulling a wagon that contained my 3 kids and weighed roughly 80 pounds.  We then grabbed something to eat before Judah’s baseball game, went to Judah’s baseball game, then ran a few last-minute errands for the big birthday party…all in the blazing heat.  I finally got home that evening to finish some yard work and decorating, so that, thanks to Brandon and Shannon, we turned our dining room into Elmo’s World for Justice’s Elmo Party.

Brought to you by the Letter J and the Number 2

So we had Justice’s big Elmo Birthday Party on Sunday, which was a huge success!  Everything turned our perfect, and we all had fun, especially the birthday boy.  But that’s a whole other blog that will come later.  Here’s just a preview

Also this month, Jason got sick, I got poison ivy (still have it :( ), and my dad had surgery.  We’ve had our fair share of soccer games, baseball games, doctor visits, hospital visits, weddings, birthdays, and everything in between.  It’s been eventful, and exhausting, to say the least.  But this month is almost over, and we just have 3 birthdays and 1 holiday weekend to go.  If I could, I’d hibernate for the summer…but as it is, I’ll just have to settle for letting this day be pajama day.

Bella’s Victory

The coolest toilet seat ever

I must take a moment and brag on my baby girl, Bella.  I had been fighting, what felt like a losing battle, for the past 2 years trying to get her potty-trained.  I first started trying when she was 18 months old but was already communicating to me that she had to use the bathroom.  It didn’t work out well, though, because every time she actually had to sit on the toilet she got scared, of falling in I guess.  And the traditional potty chairs were not a option as I quickly realized that using them was a bad idea when you have 3 little ones running around the house, and in and out of the bathroom all day long.  Crawling babies + busy little fingers + chair sitting on the floor that could have urine in it at in given time = grossness.  That’s why I was excited when I found the Bemis toilet seat that had a built-in potty seat.  It fits smaller bodies and holds them up, which takes away the feeling of falling in.  Bella was excited about it too, or at least the idea of it.  I got the new toilet seat right after her 2nd birthday and tried potty-training again with this new approach.  But she didn’t want to use the bathroom with this new toilet seat either.  She didn’t want to take time away from playing to use it.  I also tried rewarding her with everything I could think of.  I would set a timer to go off every 15 minutes, and then I would take her to the bathroom…sometimes she would, but most of the time she would just sit there with nothing happening.  I honestly don’t know how a little girl could drink so much, and sit on the toilet for so long, and still never pee.  Except for, of course, when I would finally get her off the toilet because her legs were falling asleep.  She would go as soon as I got her off the toilet and put a diaper back on her, however. 

So then I figured that she just needed to wear panties so that she could feel wet and uncomfortable when she peed, and hopefully, that would make her want use the potty.  Nope, wrong again.  She didn’t mind being wet; she just kept right on playing – wet panties and all.  I began to wonder if she had a physical ailment that kept her from feeling wet because who could be okay with just walking around in wet pants?  Nobody, not even little newborn babies, hence the nonstop crying.  But somehow she was.  This led to much frustration, for me and her, so I would take a break from the whole ordeal, and then try again after a week or two, and we carried on like that for more than a year.  I kept setting new goals:  to have her using the potty by her third birthday ~ but that came and went…before we moved ~ no such luck…before Christmas ~ another fail…by the first of the year ~ still nothing. 

Finally, I realized that this was something that was completely out of my control.  I could continue to do everything I was doing, but if she didn’t decide to do it for herself, it just didn’t matter.  She had to be ready.  So I brought the matter into our bedtime prayers every night and asked God to help her, and me.  And I noticed that she did start doing better.  She would keep a dry diaper most of the time, but she would still not use the potty unless I made her.  So then I decided to follow the advice of our pediatrician…I took her to the store and let her pick out something that she REALLY wanted, but I told her that we couldn’t get it for her until she went a whole week without having any accidents.  She’s in love with My Little Pony right now, so I made sure that we went down that aisle of the toy store.  And it was there that she found it, the thing she most wanted, a talking Princess Celestia.  This was not your average, every day My Little Pony pony either ~ this pony was much bigger, had wings that moved and lit up, and was a whopping $20.  And trust me, she WANTED it, real bad.  So we came home and gave it another go.  I bought training pants instead of diapers and prepared myself to just deal with whatever messes were to come.  I got rid of the timer and decided to just leave it up to her to tell me when the “pee pee started coming.”  And this time, any time she fussed I would remind her about Princess Celestia.  Before I realized it, we were 3 days into a week without any accidents. 

Sunday morning when Bella and I came downstairs, she asked me where we were going.  I explained to her that we were gonna stay home to work on potty-training some more,  (Justice was sick so I was keeping him home from church and decided to keep Bella home too) and when she started to complain and say that she didn’t want to, I reminded her that we couldn’t get Princess Celestia until she went a whole week without any accidents.  So she said okay and walked away.  But then, as I was walking away, I overheard her say, “Jesus, can you please help not to pee pee in my panties, and get Princess Celestia.  Please help me pee pee in the potty, please help me.”  I stopped and listened to make sure of what I was hearing.  And she just kept saying over and over “please help me pee pee  in the potty, please help me pee pee in the potty.”  She was still saying it as I walked up to her, so I asked, “Bella, are you talking to me?”  She replied, “No, I’m talking to Jesus!”  And then the next day while we were eating breakfast, Bella pointed at the calendar on the fridge and asked me how many more days until she could get Princess Celestia, and immediately started asking Jesus for help again.  And He did help her. 

So, on Wednesday we got up and celebrated a whole week that Bella went without having any accidents.  We went to the store and bought her her reward, and then we came home and had a Potty Party.  She did it!  She understood what she needed to do, she prayed and asked Jesus for help, all on her own, and she did it!  So after 2 years of working, and striving, and trying, and rewarding, and bribing, and trying again…I can say that Bella is finally potty-trained, but not because of anything I did.  She prayed and asked Jesus for help, and He did.  I am so proud of her, but not for using the potty, but for understanding, as a 3 year old, that she needed God.  So she asked Him for help, and won quite a victory.     

Her reward for going a whole week without any accidents

Justice River

Justice is our baby.  He was born on Pentecost, and we named him Justice River because he will walk in the righteousness of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit will flow from him like a River.  We believe God will use him as His voice for the cause of LIFE.  “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” ~Amos 5:24.  Like our other babies, Justice is full of song.  He began singing when he was just hours old and he often sings himself to sleep.  He gets extremely happy when he hears music and mimics us by lifting his hands during worship.  He adores his big brother and sister and is quick to smile and laugh.  He’s tiny, but very strong, and learns at an incredible rate.  From the time he was born he knew who his Mommy was, and he has formed a special bond with me.  He’s a sweet baby and will be a mighty man of God.

Arabella Jada

Arabella is our coveted princess.  She is the little girl that every mother desires.  Her name means beautiful altar, and she was born with the heart of Mary.  She is full of passion and desire and emotion, and is  full throttle all the time.  Whatever emotion she is experiencing, she experiences it in its fullness.  She is either extremely happy, or extremely upset, no in-between, and she has the ability to go from one to the other instantly.  She loves much, and therefore requires much love and affection.  She is tenacious, and I love that about her.  “No” is only temporary to her, she will not give in until she is satisfied.  She is not shy, but fearless.  She is full of song and dance, and she is an encourager to Judah.  She is gorgeous and full of life.  She is our princess, destined to be a queen.