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

What’s Next?

Tonight I’m wondering about my future.  Presently, I am deeply sunken in Mommyhood, spending all of my days taking care of our 4 year old, 3 year old, and 1.5 year old.  I am woken up at 7 am every morning, after having at least a couple of extras end up in our bed some time during the night, usually by the pouncing, and jumping, and laughing, and squealing of all 3 of our children…or by my husband who informs me that he’s walking out the door and our children are awake and waiting for breakfast…or by the screams that come from my extremely, melodramatic, 3 year old daughter, who is being antagonized by either one of her brothers.  There is, however, the rare occasion that I do actually wake up at 5 am, the time I set my alarm for to ensure that I have enough time to myself…to dress, fellowship with God, enjoy the quiet, and to not feel like a zombie.  So then my day usually consists of fixing our meals and then cleaning up the kitchen (at least 3 times a day), rushing my little girl to the potty and cleaning up the mess if we didn’t make it on time, making the beds, picking up toys and trying to get the kids to actually help (usually a dozen times).  And then, either vacuuming, laundry, or other cleaning, and trying to remember to stop and play with the kids, or read my Bible, or to just sit.  Then putting the kids down for their nap, picking up the toys (again), putting the kids back in their beds (a number of times), and then finally getting to enjoy the quiet with some solitude or a nap for myself.  And then, going to the grocery store, or meeting family for dinner, or a service at church, coming back home to put everyone in bed, trying to keep them in their beds, picking up the toys (yet again), and hopefully, if I’m not already asleep at this point, finishing up any unfinished chores and spending time with my Hubby.  It is exhausting, and sometimes overwhelming, but it is my life, and I love it. 

I do, however, have nights like tonight where I wonder, what will I do when this season is past?  What am I going to do when my kids are older and involved in things that don’t include me?  I know that they are not the sum total of who I am, but right now they take up so much of me that it’s hard to see anything different for me. 

I use to enjoy writing, and was actually majoring in journalism at one time.  I was also majoring in early childhood and special education when I graduated from the local college with a 4.0 and an associates in arts and humanities, having taken and aced chemistry 104 and 105.  At one point I was planning on going to the Hair Design School, not because it was the only other option outside of college, but because it was an actual passion of mine.  I have a harp, and used to take lessons, and I have self-learned to play the piano.  I’ve attempted, but not yet conquered the guitar, and one of my secret desires is to own and play a ukulele.  I sing and play for one of our worship teams at church, and help lead other worship/prayer sets that we have throughout the week.  I am a “Mary” deep down, in that I love to worship and just sit in the presence of Jesus. 

I love God, and I love my family, and I am very comfortable with my identity being in Him and in them.  But I still wonder some times, is there more that I’m supposed to be doing?  Should I be going back to school, or do something else to prepare myself for the other seasons that will come in life?  How do all the things that I love and have a passion for work together into an actual path for me to walk on? 

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:6

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~Isaiah 30:21

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. ~Proverbs 16:3

A few of my favorite things

The smell of rain* waves crashing on my toes* watching the birds outside my window* Judah’s hand on my face* the sun on my back* the wind on my face* Jason’s hand on the small of my back* the taste of homemade vanilla ice cream* the smell of lilies* reading a book in bed during a rainstorm* the feeling I get after watching a good movie* the baby smell* the sunrise* the sunset* a rainbow* any kind of baby animal* the smell of clean linen* the warmth of Jason’s body when I’m cold at night* the pair of doves that nest in our yard* floating in water while I’m pregnant* the smell of oranges* Judah’s voice in the morning* Kyle* Kayla* Keri*Jacob* holding hands with my husband* the sound of Christmas morning at my mom and dad’s house* driving in the car with really good music and really good friends* the smell of coffee* staying up late at camp* coming home to a clean house* looking up at the stars on a clear summer night* the smell of a swimming pool in the summer* sharing girl moments with my sister while in the hot tub* sitting in my daddy’s lap* the phone call with my mom every day* waiting for Jason at the door when he comes home* the way my brother-in-law looks at my sister* white billowy clouds in a beautiful blue sky* laughing with my baby brother*Arabella’s hair*Judah’s eyes* Justice face* jamming with Brandon*walking along the shoreline*the way Judah says “Sis Sis”*the way Justice squeals at Judah and Bella*the way they all laugh together* how excited they get over simple things* the way they squeeze in between me & Jason when we hug* and how generous they are with their loving affection…these are a few of my favorite things…may they keep my heart ever turned towards you God, for you are in everything

Seek first His kingdom

Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you; Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you; Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you…

As I was sitting here, trying to find the words to pray for a real need I have, all I could hear was “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” And I’m finding great comfort in these words — words reminding me to take my eyes off my “issues” and to just seek Him. I don’t have to worry and strive to find the solutions to my problems; He is in control.  And any effort on my part would be in vain anyway.   

So, I close my eyes and try to find what is on the heart of God…What’s on your heart God? What do you want my mind fixed on? What is Your Kingdom? What does Your kingdom look like?  And the next sound I hear is a cry, and the pitter-patter of my little one’s feet coming down the stairs, prematurely awakened from his nap.  Perfect, just what I need when I’m trying so hard to hear what God is saying.  But it was perfect, completely perfect, all too perfect.  It was God’ perfect timing.  Though I didn’t realize it at first, He was answering my questions.  Because the kingdom of God is in the face of my children, and every time I attend to them, I am going about my Father’s business; I am manifesting the righteousness, joy, and peace of His kingdom.  And let me never forget Jesus’s words, “…the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”  And to serve my children, is to serve the throne of God.  To be a home-maker is to be an ambassador of Christ.  And “To love another, is to see the face of God.” ~ Victor Hugo

My Beauties

On the way to a better me

Sometimes it’s easy to forget why we have chosen the path that we’re walking down, especially when we hear of other’s success and we consider what we could be doing, or when life’s frustrations seem to usurp our daily activities.  And how easy it is to compare what we have with what our friends have, even when circumstances are totally different.  Why is it so easy to do, and without us even realizing we’re doing it?  At Morning Watch this past week, I felt the Lord reminding me that our thoughts are not His thoughts; His thoughts are higher than ours.  And when we compare our lives, and our children, and our husbands and wives to something else, we are seeing things distorted, and with an unGodly perspective.  We have to learn to see things the way God does, without looking through the scope of envy and discontentment.  He has a unique and perfect plan for each of us individually, and to let our hearts be lured by anything else is unsafe and unwise.

God, thank you for the family you’ve blessed me with.  Thank you for the joy and the companionship they bring me.  Help me not to get bogged down with all the little frustrations that come along with raising 3 small children.  Help me to see my children as you see them, in the way that you created them uniquely and individually glorious.  Help me to see them as wonderful even when they aren’t getting along, and when they aren’t obeying, and even when they just can’t seem to be potty-trained.  Help me to not be distracted by what I see in other children.  Keep me focused on the children you have given me, and the plan for their lives.  And use every frustration that rises up in me to create a more patient and compassionate mommy.  And God, help me to never take for granted the husband you have given me…my companion, my support, my best friend.  Help me, even in the midst of those nerve-racking habbits, to see him as the one you have designed for me.  Take every expectation that has been built up in my mind that is not from You and cast it down.  Take every annoyance and use it to make me into a more patient and supportive wife.  And Father, when I start to feel overwhelmed with everything, remind me that these “momentary light afflictions” are working something bigger in me, and I am on my way to a better me.

A Reminder to Myself

So I decided to finally take some time today and dedicate it to my blog, and I discovered that my last entry was back in May, right before Justice’s birthday!  That has to be some sort of blogging crime.  The truth is, I got a little busy and neglectful, as we all do some times, but then I started to feel uninspired…like I really didn’t have anything significant to share.  And to be even more truthful, I still do.  I still feel like my thoughts aren’t complete and my ideas are vague, but I have decided to overcome this funk I have gotten into and just write. 

So…this Holiday Season has already been so wonderfully awesome with the purchase of our first home. YAY!!

Our Home
Our Home
It’s a truly amazing story with the way God worked everything out (but that’ll have to be another blog), and we are so incredibly happy with our “New Gray House,” the cute little title given by the kids.  (Fun Fact:  Meaning of Graham – from the gray house.)  And even as happy as we are, and how amazed at God’s Awesomeness we’ve been, I can still wake up on mornings like this one, and momentarily forget about all the greatness and start to feel weighed down.  And how horribly sad that is…that during such a happy and joyous season, I can lose sight of what’s important and eternal.  God has blessed us with a beautiful new home, and what’s eternally more important, He has given me 4 of the most beautiful people to share it with – 3 awesome kids, and THE most faithful and loving husband.  So…
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
   Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
   for I will yet praise him,
   my Savior and my God.
Surely you have granted [me] eternal blessings
and made [me] glad with the joy of your presence.
I am so thankful, God that you have blessed us so.  You have given me more than I could ever have wanted.  You have literally made all my dreams come true, and You have saved me, in every way.  I don’t want to lose sight of the important things, what really counts, and what’s eternal.  Help me to remember, help me to remember. 

Oh Happy Day!

     What a happy Resurrection Day we had this year.  With the presence of God filling the room and our hearts as we remembered our Lord and His Sacrifice, I was reminded of how blessed we are to be a part of such an awesome church family.  And I was even more blessed to have my own family in church with me as well.  It is my earnest prayer that my heart and my mind would come to fully know all the Jesus did for us when he died on the cross and arose 3 days later.  May I get a true revelation of His Sacrifice and never forget, but always, always remember.

All-time favorite Larry Coker quotes

“You’re not gonna find all kinds of good stuff about you; you’re supposed to look at Jesus — that’s freedom.”

“You change because you come face to face with the truth.”

“If you know what you’re doing wrong, confess it.  Don’t waste time punishing yourself — that’s not what Jesus paid for.”

“We are always producing fruit.”

“The only sin we can defeat is a forgiven sin!”

“Repentance is a gift, not a right.”

“If your brain is thinking the Truth, then it is working better than any other mind that’s not thinking the Truth.”

“This is not a comfortable process, but you can have joy as you go through it.”

“He pursued you until you think you caught Him.”

“What comes out of your mouth steers your life.”

Morning Watch

I want to share about Morning Watch and the joy it is to me.  Morning Watch is prophetic worship and prayer every Wednesday morning from 7-8 at our church.  Yes…prayer that early in the morning.  And it’s at the perfect time – right in the middle of the week, the perfect pick-me-up time.  I have attended Morning Watch in the past, occasionally, but was never able to make a regular practice of it.  However, at the beginning of the year, the Lord began to grace me with a renewed fervor for the first things (Revelation 2:5, Matthew 22:37-38), and early one Wednesday morning, after getting Justice settled back in his bed, I decided not to go back to bed, but to go to prayer instead.

I started that Wednesday morning praying for some things that were on my mind, but right in the middle of all my asking and seeking and knocking, I felt compelled to just stop, and kneel before the Lord.  And as I bowed down and laid my face on the floor, I heard Jesus say, “There you are.”  I was immediately taken back to the time we had our first ultrasound of our first baby.  I was staring at that little monitor, straining to make something out the images and, all of a sudden, he moved and peeked his little face out at us.  My breath caught in my chest as I said, “There you are!”  Jesus responded to me the same way I responded  to seeing my baby for the first time, reminding me of the way He feels when we turn our face to Him.  It had been such a long time since I had just placed myself at Jesus’s feet that I had forgotten.  But there, laying on the floor of our church, I remembered how it feels to hear Him call my name, how good it feels to just sit and cry in His presence.  As I left the church that morning and headed back home I thought, “This is going to be good.”   

I can’t express how much I look forward to Wednesday mornings now.  It is not a duty or a burden, but a joy.  It is such a sweet time when I feel the Lord so near.  “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”  ~Psalm 145:18  The Lord has begun to stir my affections for Him again, and I have returned to the things I use to do.


The Lord keeps speaking to me about Spring.  I say speaking to me, and what I mean by that is that I keep feeling this internal energy and liveliness surrounding the thoughts of Spring.  I woke up one morning to a quiet Spring rain, and I can’t really explain why, but it gave me a sweet joy.  It just felt like exactly what I needed.  The overcast, grey sky; the puddles of water gathering in all the low places in the ground; it all just seemed to bring me peace.  And then a few days later while we were eating breakfast, Judah looked out the window and exclaimed, “Mommy, our doves our back!”  Judah has grown a fondness of the doves that come and make their nests around our home.  We have always had a family of doves that make their home close to ours, and it touches my heart that even our children take note of their presence among us…I believe they are here with us for a reason.  So as Judah proclaimed the return of the  doves I heard “The winter is past [...] Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land” ~Song of Solomon 2:11-12.  And there’s a song by Jessie Rogers Goodman, Seasons, that keeps playing in my heart.  It says:

Summer skies, heaven’s opened wide, You make Your face to shine through the morning light

Autumn rain is crying out Your name, and though the colors change, Lord you will remain

Winter snow, bringing you so close, I know you’ll be here through the end

Lover’s spring, life to all You bring, and I can hear you sing the song of You and me  

Seasons by Jessie Goodman

Such a beautiful song, and it has brought such a lovely peace to my soul.  Everything in creation, even creation itself, goes through seasons of change — it’s the way of life — and through every season God remains faithful.  He’s the same; he never changes.  He is holy and righteous, and good, and true, and we can always rely on him.  In the good times and the bad, He is here.  He has always been, and He will always be.  But the season of Spring has come.  Winter is over, and the Lord is near.  His love is in the air, so close, you can breathe it in.  Read Ecclesiastes 3.