Category Archives: Mommyhood

Our Little “Miss”

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Monday we found out.  We were delighted to have the beautiful revelation that come this November we will welcome a little girl into our home.  A “miss.”  A bundle of bows, buttons, ribbons, and pink.

We weren’t even scheduled for an ultrasound yet, but I had decided that I wanted to check and see if maybe, perhaps, they had something available.  I was doubtful since we were a three p.m. appointment and I’m sure any ultrasound tech would be chomping to get out the door on a gorgeous, June, Monday afternoon if they could.

Our nurse walked Chris and myself back to our “usual” room and asked about the ultrasound.  Chris quickly piped up that we would love to squeeze into their schedule.  Bev, the fabulous nurse she is, sat us down and went away to see if she could get us a last-minute appointment.  She came back and let us know that unfortunately there were absolutely no openings.  They were packed.  In my mind I was disappointed, but I also happened to have worked in a dental office and know how quickly a schedule can change with fickle patients.  To our delight, not even five minutes later Bev came right back in and let us know that a no-show appointment was available that moment!

We walked into the ultrasound room, sat in our respective chairs (or laid…) and took a peak at the miracle growing in my belly.  Chris and I each held our breath as the tech took a look to see what she could see.  And there she was.  She.  Only one letter off, however completely and totally different than he.
 2013 June-182

I glanced over to see Chris’ reaction and I do not lie… he was shocked.  Like shell-shocked.  I think he may have said, “Wow.”  This man who hoped for a rowdy house full of boys is getting a sweet little daughter.  After the appointment we went to the store to pick out our sweetie’s first outfit.  Initially we got a couple pairs of sandals and a baseball hat for Noah and then went to search for the most adorable little girl outfit we could find.  And Chris stopped.  Right at the line between the boy’s and girl’s section he froze, like he wasn’t sure about crossing the line and entering this new frilly time of our life.  With a little laughter and teasing he came over, and suddenly he was pointing out pink pajamas and floral dresses.

That night it settled in Chris’ heart.  Let me tell you, it is darling to see how excited he is getting over our girl.  He’s bursting.  I’m sure he’ll be wrapped around her tiniest pinky by day two!  I think he already is.

Noah has quickly picked up the word “sister” and even went into our shopping bag, pulled out a piece of clothing and declared, “Dress!”  We didn’t even know he knew that word (he amazes me).  I can’t wait to officially introduce him to her and watch them grow into a new friendship.  My heart overflows just thinking about it.

2013 June-1792013 June-181

Our little girl will be named Alina Melody Pope.  We love the name Alina and it’s meaning is much of what we desire for our daughter: Noble, kind, beautiful, bright.  Melody, of course, is after my beautiful, amazing mother.  Her character is all I hope and pray that my daughter will become (what I hope to become!).  I would love our Alina to follow in the faith legacy that my mother has given to our family.  It is an honor to name her after such a simply fabulous woman.  This is only one way that I have the privilege to rise and call my mom blessed.  I cannot wait to hold my dear, sweet Alina Melody and introduce her to her namesake!

It amazes me constantly to reflect on where we are and the road the Lord has led us on to be “here.”  To think that by the grace of God a love and friendship with my husband has allowed us to experience so much fullness in our life and family.  We have an adorable, silly, sweet son who daily fills our home with endless energy and joy.  A daughter we wait to meet, excitedly anticipating her arrival in our family.  A baby we will only meet heaven-side, who has deepened our love and dedication to the Lord, our family, and each other in ways no words can possibly express.  We have each other, to laugh with, embrace, bury tears in shoulders, and grow further as one together.  We have the Lord, in all His omniscience, grace and mercy, Who pursues us, directs us and abides as the glue of our family.

We are full of contentment.  We are more than blessed.  We are consumed with the goodness of a God Who deeply satisfies.

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Teaching Kids to be the Church

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Oh, my!  It’s never good when the first thing you think logging onto a site is, “I hope I remember the password…” and this was my thought exactly this afternoon as I was coming to chat with you.  A month has passed by already.  Crazy.  I am definitely still learning how to juggle “life” and all that it entails.  Between cooking meals, prepping snacks, doing way more laundry than three people should ever produce, saving a toddler from death-defying jumps down slides, playing full-time entertainer, jumping full-swing back into ministry at our church plant, and all of the other lovely chaos that defines current life, some days I celebrate when I take a shower before 11 am.  Or at all, for that matter.  Thankfully, I have a pretty gracious husband.  I am hoping you are gracious too.

 

The adorable culprit to all my chaos.  I love this guy.

The adorable culprit to all my chaos. I love this boy!  Excuse me while I go kiss his cheeks some more…

I promise to be more faithful in the (near) future.  I don’t like to commit to anything more than three weeks out; otherwise I may have to eat my words, gravel, and start all over again.  It’s my own awful cycle.

I have so much to share!  Everything in good time, of course…  But a lot has been stirring in my mind, which I am excited to discuss with you.  Lots of good, wonderful stuff.

First of all, I want to share something I have been working on for a bit now for our Sunday school program at Journey!  It’s my own “curriculum!”  I have been working on this every Thursday (as my oh-so-fabulous mother watches Noah during the days for me.  Thank you, Momma!  Well, more like she watches him in the afternoons.  I typically spend the mornings socializing with her until I have only four or so hours to finish all I had planned.)  I’m not certain that I will always write our curriculum, but it seemed fitting for the young season we are in right now.   Besides, I wanted something deeper and more involved than a box curriculum.

At Journey, we have young families participating, leaving their home churches to help us plant.  And as we all have experienced in life, change is not easy.  Particularly for kids.  Especially when they may not understand what the implications are of what we are doing.  So I am writing a church planting series for children so that we can all be on the same page as a church family.

Because I have everything from kindergarten through 6th grade (or whoever else wants to join us) participating, much of what I am writing is geared to fit kids of all ages.  We’re covering great stuff, like how the church started, what the body of Christ is, how prayer affects what we accomplish, what kids can do to serve in the church, and telling people about Jesus!  My utmost desire is to establish a solid foundation for our young ministry and get the kids excited about what we’re doing together.

While working on this I began thinking about how essential it really is for all kids to be aware of this information.  Not simply during a church plant.  This truly is the calling of the universal body of Christ.  You and are I instructed to serve.  To fish.  As Ephesians 2:10 puts it, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  It’s not an option, it’s an expectation.  As such – as mothers, fathers, teachers, or simply disciples of Christ – it is our responsibility to represent this for all of the young eyes that are watching us.  Trust me, they are watching.  Closely.  It is also imperative that we teach this to them and involve them in our service.

Chris always talks about “doing life” together.  Really, that is what it’s all about.  It’s about following Christ, getting dirty, and letting others come alongside to learn and participate.  It’s about putting together props for VBS with a joyful attitude, allowing our children to observe and help (even if it’s not perfect).  It’s not shipping them off to a babysitter because they may get in the way, it’s allowing them to get in the way and get excited about what is at work and what God may (or rather, will) do.  It’s a testimony of life well-lived to our families.  Or sometimes it’s the same testimony to a young person who has no one else in their life who will stand in the gap and show what a God-glorifying life looks like.

All of this to say, I think it is absolutely important that all kids understand these concepts.  If they can grasp it at a young age, understanding all that God did in the Bible to allow us to accomplish what we do now, they will be leaps ahead of most adults.  We are a body.  Rather, we are the body of Christ.  We were established by God, called by the Spirit, and are equipped to do absolutely fabulous,astounding things.  Together.  As a family.  This is exciting stuff!

So with all of that laid out, I would like to offer my curriculum to you.  I’m sure it needs some tweaking, however I want to give it to you as a general outline (it’s linked below).  Of course, it’s intended for a Sunday school group, but there’s no reason it can’t be used with your own children at home as a small Bible lesson.  Or possibly an after-school children’s group for latch-key kids needing something to do with their time.  There are lots of opportunities when it comes to kids.

I’ll post a lesson every week or so (I’m still working on it, so I don’t want this to get ahead of me).  The lessons begin with Pentecost (perfect for this time of year – we’re almost there) and work forward from there.  I hope you and your family, Sunday school, or kids group enjoy studying this together!  I’m excited as we work together to sow seeds in our kids and help build heroes of the faith for our generation! (Or the next one).

Church Planting Series – 1. Pentecost

Good Gifts

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January seemed to be our month of sweet surprises, with our little family being especially blessed with a few unexpected gifts.  They weren’t for any particular reason like a birthday or holiday, which made them even more delightful.

We were particularly excited when one of Chris’ youth group families decided to start looking for a new home and get rid of a few of their extra  toys.

                                They have six kids, five of whom are boys.   I have a lot of respect for that mom! 

 Their family called Chris last week and asked if we would like a train table for Noah, complete with tracks, trains, and all of the props.  You know, no big deal…  just a little boy’s dream toy!

So much fun!

So much fun!

We have been having tons of fun since we received the train set on Friday.  I think the first day Chris and I played with it more than Noah.  Or, maybe I used it more than both of them combined.  Probably the latter.2013 February-1

Either way, Noah loves the train!  Every day he runs in and pulls out the parts to run across the table.  He plays with it with me.  He plays with it on his own.  He plays with it here and there; He plays with it everywhere!2013 February-4

Even my little brothers Dawson and Lucas played with it for hours tonight.  They arranged and rearranged the tracks, running their trains on just the right paths.  More proof (not that we needed any) that boys love things that move.  I simply love seeing the boys play all together.  It makes my heart happy.

So much focus...

So much focus…

Love this.

Love this.

This month we are extremely thankful for the fabulous gifts given our family.  Good gifts, bestowed with much thought and love.  We are so very blessed.

The In-Between Times

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“Praise Him in the morning when you see the sun arisin’;

Praise Him in the evening ‘cause He took you through the day;

And in the in-between times when you feel the pressure’s comin’;

Remember that He loves you and He promises to stay.”

2013 January-1

This is one of my favorite songs from my childhood.  The lyrics and the tune are both simple, yet the message is profound.  Praise God.  Period.  When times are wonderful, hectic, stressful, relaxing, and so on we are to keep our mind on the Lord and thank Him.

Well, I’ll be very forthright with you.  Today was very definitely one of the “in-between times.”  Noah woke up and went to bed an extremely emotional little boy.  I think it has something to do with the fact that in the last three weeks he has been cutting all four of his incisor teeth.  Two weeks ago the top ones popped right through without any issue.  The bottom ones are another story, protruding like mini mountains.  Those suckers are taking their sweet time and sadly, I have a feeling that they’re also giving him quite a bit of pain right now.

Noah’s emotional instability proved to completely drain me throughout the duration of the day.  I was excited to start the day by make our first-ever fort this morning.  I had great intentions however it ended (before it was even finished) with the sheets being torn down by Noah while he was crying angry tears.  Fail.  Then there was more crying, frustration, and hitting than I’ve experienced in a very long time – perhaps ever.  Of course, his less-than-one-hour-nap-all-day did not help circumstances.  By the end of the afternoon I was absolutely exhausted and at the end of my rope, worn by breakdown after breakdown.

Around five, I was preparing dinner, counting down to bedtime.  Noah was standing on a chair at the counter eating a snack I had set in one of his little bowls.  While I was pulling out veggies and chicken Noah’s spoon fell on the floor and I glanced over to see his bowl tipped on its side.  Noah was playing with the snack as it started falling off the counter.  I wouldn’t say I snapped… but I snapped.  I raised my voice and told him, “Noah, no!  You can’t do that.  Stop it!”  My frustration started pouring out.  But as I said this and bent down to pick up the snack I happened to look up at my half-naked baby.  He stood there looking down at his diaper and twiddling his hands, unsure what to do on his broken little pedestal.  Defeated.  I had just broken my child’s spirit.

My heart crumbled.  I picked Noah up and did what I should have done from the get-go.  I hugged him.  I told him I loved him and that it was okay because it was a mistake.  He laid his head on my shoulder, wrapped his sweet body around mine, and cuddled into me.  He stayed there for a few minutes, resting in the love and grace that affirmed who he is.  The love and grace we all need – especially in the middle of rough days.

As I’ve reflected on today I have realized a couple things I hope to be aware of from this point forward.  Although I knew I needed to have time with the Lord, all of the hecticness got the best of me.  I didn’t take the opportunity to lay everything out and ask for wisdom.  After all, I’m sure Noah’s Maker has much better intuition on how to handle his discouraged days.  Also, I want to be constantly aware that my mood isn’t dictated by his.  I am Noah’s mommy and I have the ability to choose how I respond when tough moments arise.  I want to model for him how to display self-control and to go to God when life is discouraging.  I want to set Noah up for success in living life triumphantly.

Singing our “Praise Him” song together helped me refocus on what is important.  As Chris reminded me in the middle of our day, I have been abundantly blessed with everything I could ever want.  I possess a beautiful little boy, the opportunity to stay home with him, a wonderful family, and a lovely home.  I have every reason to praise.

 

My Beautiful Boy

My Beautiful Boy

Simple Wonders

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Water.  It’s such a sweet, simple thing.  It falls from the sky.  It pours out of our faucets to fill up our tubs, pans, and glasses.  We see water all of the time, every day.  We take it for granted.

Truth be told, I am finding out how little I appreciate so many of the small things in life.  How little I take the time to marvel.  Wonder.  Sit in amazement.  My son, though…  He was born with an innate ability to appreciate the art of simple things.  Things like water.

2013 January-23

Noah loves water.  Whenever we go outside after the rain (or lately, snowmelt) he immediately walks to the broken crevices in our walkway.  He squats or sits and looks.  Then he lightly touches the water with his fingers or gloves. He doesn’t mind if it’s freezing or dirty or if his mittens need washing all over again.  Sometimes he tastes the rainwater.  Water from concrete tastes different than water in a sippy, I suppose.

2013 January-36

Or take bath time.  He loves staring at the faucet, watching the water slowly drip into the bath.  He will sit there for minutes on end, enraptured.  He giggles when the drops hit the water.  He thinks it’s amazing.

2013 January-37

It’s beautiful to watch him.  As I observe Noah, I feel like him in awe of the water.  I am transported into his world of magic.  I giggle when drip-drops fall from the faucet to meet the tub.  Water becomes sensational, a work of majesty.

My child daily gifts me with the precious opportunity to see the world through different eyes.  Through new eyes.  He sees the miracle in simple things.  He sees the reason to wonder and praise.

 

“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed,
miracles that cannot be counted.
He provides rain for the earth;
He sends water on the countryside.”

Job 5:9-10

More than Conquerors, Leaving a Legacy {4}

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With a child, everyday is an adventure, full of opportunity to discover something new.  This is at least as equally true for me as it is for Noah.  I am constantly trying, re-trying, and altering anything and everything I/we do throughout the day.  As soon as you are certain you have naptime nailed the baby talks through it for the next week, or when you think they know a particular word it suddenly disappears from the vocabulary.

I am constantly thinking about what I should teach Noah next: colors, the alphabet, animals and their sounds, how to keep his fingers out of the toilet, and so it goes…  At some point as a mom you can get absolutely caught up in this.  They learn SO quickly!  I’m also continually assessing what my attitude, speech, conduct, and body language are teaching and communicating to Noah.  I realize that every moment we are together he is studying me and learning how to view the world.  We got a quick lesson in this when Noah was only about 12 months old.  One day Chevy (our dog) was in the kitchen while we had food out (he knows this is not allowed) and Chris chased him out with a loud, deep voice.  Suddenly our sweet little boy bristled up as big as he could get and started running after the dog, all while shaking his little fists and shouting out at Chevy with every ounce of force that his babbling could muster.  It is shocking to see some of your traits come out in your child.

They really do love each other.
They really do love each other.

With this in mind, I believe there is an essential reason we need to seriously exemplify a victorious lifestyle.  We are setting a legacy for our children.  They see us at our best as well as our most frazzled.  As we engage in their lives they will learn what to value, why they believe what they believe, how to cope in rough times, whether character is important, and so much more about life.  While they are young, we are the lens through which they process the world.  Numbers and colors are important, but I desire most that he learn to love the Lord deeply and passionately.  I want him to be Kingdom-focused in life, able to discern what is of true and pure value and what is going to pass away like the flowers with this world.

A few days ago I initially wrote on conquering because of what I have been learning personally through my study of the Old Testament as well as through life experiences as we prepare to plant our church.  There is so much wonderfulness ahead.  There are also a whole lot of unknown giants.  We discussed the verses given throughout Deuteronomy and Joshua commanding the Israelites to take courage.  There is another set of verses that are repeated over and over again throughout Deuteronomy that resonate deep within me as a mother.

Most specifically, in Deuteronomy 11:18-21 the Lord tells the Israelites, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.”

When I read these verses I am convicted that God is telling me that it is pertinent that I use every single opportunity to educate my children in the teaching of Scripture.  It needs to be visible.  Of course, this visibility will come as I put up posters with verses or read Bible storybooks to Noah.  What will speak loudest, though, will be the way I live my life.  It will be how I handle personal triumph and loss.  It will be the way I react when I am disappointed or angry.  It will be how easily I incorporate the Word in my daily conversation.  It will be him seeing me studying the Bible throughout the day, with joy.  It will be a content and thankful heart.  It will be trusting God when things look harried.  It will be the respect I give my husband.  It will be a victorious life displayed because of something Christ did for me and the Holy Spirit is currently working in me.

As parents we have a heavy responsibility.  As believers, whether parents or not, we have a heavy responsibility, because I am learning that little eyes are always watching and whether or not we choose to, we are leaving a legacy to be lived out through those young lives.  My prayer is that through our lives our children will be exposed to the joy and delight that is experienced as true champions and will carry on our legacy of salvation and victory.

joy

Swim or Soak Through the Holidays

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Ever since Chris and I married and began our own Christmases, each Thanksgiving through New Year feels like I’m standing at the edge of a pool.  I take a huge breath, dive in, swim to the other side as quickly and efficiently as possible without coming up for air, and then pop up at the end, not quite sure what just happened.

Our family celebrating at the Olive Crest Christmas party with Mr. and Mrs. Clause (aka: my Nana and Grandpa Johnny)

Our family celebrating at the Olive Crest Christmas party with Mr. and Mrs. Clause (aka: my Nana and Grandpa Johnny)

I’m determined to figure out some way to savor these times more in the future.  To truly treasure the precious moments available with my sweet family and friends.  Spending time with the Lord, reflecting on the real purpose behind the pretty decorations. Simply sitting and soaking up the beauty and aroma of the season.

In that sentiment, this year I picked up a few great ideas from various magazines and websites.  Chris and I have decided to implement them for our future holiday seasons.  I thought perhaps I would share them with you.  Honestly, I meant to post them during their respective holidays, however I obviously fell off the face of the earth for about six weeks.  I was holding my breath.

  1. The idea is a Thankfulness Tree.  All you really need are: A great branch with other little twigs coming off of it (to represent your tree), a pretty pot or vase, construction paper, scissors, a hole puncher, ribbon or raffia, and pens or crayons.  To assemble, place the bare branch in the vase or pot (of course, you will want to secure it with some sort of filler so that it stands up straight).  Cut the construction paper into small faux leaves.  Place a hole where the stem would be located, and string your ribbon through to tie a little loop.  Everyone lists something they are thankful for on a leaf (or leaves) and hangs it on the assembled tree.  You can use the Thankfulness Tree as your Thanksgiving table centerpiece or as décor for the season.  You could do one a day during the month of November or wait until Thanksgiving Day and have each of your dinner guests fill a leaf out to hang up.  It’s a wonderful kid-friendly way express our gratitude.
  2. The idea is a Sparkle Box.  Chris and I read about this in the December edition of the “Guideposts” magazine we get each month and fell in love with it.  The mom who wrote the article expressed how she had become concerned with the consumerism that was expressed in the “receiving” portion of Christmas by her children.  One year she got an old jewelry box, wrapped it up in sparkly wrapping paper, and set it under the tree without a nametag.  When Christmas morning came it was the last present left under the tree.  She explained that the gift was for Jesus, since it was His birthday.  When the gift was opened her children found a slip of paper with the verse that tells us that whatever we do unto the least of all people we do for Jesus.  Our gift of love to the Lord.  Ever since then, throughout the year it is the goal of each person in her family to do all they can to serve, love, and minister to people in need.  Any time they do something they’re not to make a big deal out of it; they simply write it on a piece of paper and place it in the jewelry box.  On Christmas morning they open the sparkly box and read the collaboration of everything their family has done to serve the least as their fragrant gift to Jesus.  Not only is it their favorite gift to open, it has caused her children to be more outward-minded and focused.  She, her husband, and her children have given more of their own personal savings, belongings, and time in an effort to have a beautiful gift available to open Christmas morning to present to our Savior.  What a fabulous way to hold the true meaning of Christmas in your heart all the year.
  3. The idea is to give less and spend more.  More time, that is.  In the Family Fun magazine by Disney a mom related a similar desire to downsize the gift-focus in her children.  In an effort to be creative in guiding their children’s concentration, she and her husband began limiting three gifts per child.  Two were your typical smaller presents, such as a great book, a toy, and so forth.  The third one was simply a hand-made gift certificate giving their kids the opportunity for a new experience or trip, such as an outing to the zoo as a family or attending an off-Broadway musical in town.  They now do this every year and their kids have even started asking for experience-based gifts for their birthdays.  They customize the gifts according to the child some years, perhaps giving a child the opportunity to shadow a farmer all day on his property if his dream is to become a farmer.  Other years, gifts are given as a family-oriented present.

There are many other wonderful ideas to make the most of the Christmas season together, many of which I’m sure you participate in with your own family.  I love the diversity that comes with holiday traditions.  Perhaps these three unique inspirations will nestle their way into your home too.  We certainly plan to utilize them to re-focus our family on the elements that we believe truly make Thanksgiving and Christmas the beautiful holidays that they are: Christ, a grateful heart, and family.