Things I Don’t Want To Forget {Installment 2}

That my oldest takes pretty good selfies

That my oldest takes pretty good selfies

My sweet middle child still loves to cuddle

My sweet middle child still loves to cuddle

When my yougest smiles, his entire face lights up

When my yougest smiles, his entire face lights up

That he calls dessert: suh-dirt

That he calls dessert: suh-dirt

That she would wear her princess pj's 24/7 if I would allow it.

That she would wear her princess pj’s 24/7 if I would allow it.

That he can pull his socks and shoes off faster than i can say his name

That he can pull his socks and shoes off faster than i can say his name

How quickly he is learning to sound out words!

How quickly he is learning to sound out words!

Her love for dinosaur puzzles

Her love for dinosaur puzzles

The way he walks swaying from leg to leg

The way he walks swaying from leg to leg

His love for lego blocks. He is a master builder.

His love for lego blocks. He is a master builder.

Her incredible fashion sense

Her incredible fashion sense

That he acts like a big kid even though he's not...yet

That he acts like a big kid even though he’s not…yet

That he is a natural encourager

That he is a natural encourager

That she can count to 10...sort of.  1,2,3,4,5,7,9,10!

That she can count to 10…sort of.
1,2,3,4,5,7,9,10!

That he can say momma, dada, uh-oh and knows that when the garage opens it means daddy is home!

That he can say momma, dada, uh-oh and knows that when the garage opens it means daddy is home!

That he treats every day like it is Christmas Morning

That he treats every day like it is Christmas Morning

That one day she will be potty trained but today is not that day.

That one day she will be potty trained but today is not that day.

His joy.

His joy.

this

this

Life is beautiful

Making Beautiful Day Ten {Ready}

Our house has been on the market for 43 days now. There’s a multiplicity of reasons why we are selling but the main reason is we need more walls. We have three kids ages 5, almost 3 and 1. We’ve tried a multiplicity of ways arranging the kids to make our simple but beautiful 3 bedroom home work but the personalities of our kiddos has made it a bit of a challenge.

It’s  a really interesting time to be selling a house. In our area of the globe, multiple large companies are moving their corporate offices this way making the demand for a home pretty significant. And yet, our home hasn’t been snatched up. That’s hard for anyone…add three little kids who have two-thirds of their toys in boxes in the garage, a little boy who currently sleeps on the pull out couch, and the need to keep the house pristine all. the. time. and it’s hard.

Making the decision to sell our home is one we thought and prayed a great deal about. We sought wisdom and the prayers of others and truly believe it was the right move to make. Unfortunately our timeline doesn’t appear to be a very quick timeline. We are so READY to get to a more stable place. Being totally honest here….given the current layout of our house means when the kids go to bed we are pretty much banished to our bedroom for risk of waking kids. On top of this challenge, every time there’s a house showing (we’ve had approximately 35 in 43 days) we have to leave the house. Sometimes it’s just an hour. Other times it’s the whole day! Since the weekend is the popular time to go look at homes, we haven’t had a weekend uninterrupted at home in 6 weeks. The kids are worn out. Marshall and I are worn out. The stress of keeping the house clean and being out of the house for long stretches at a time is draining.

We are ready to move on. We trust God. We thank God for a smart realtor. We hope for good news….soon.

Devin’s First Birthday!

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On January 7th we celebrated Devin’s first birthday. 1st birthdays are always an enigma for me. I truly believe that every birthday is worth celebrating and will always find a way to celebrate each of my children in a special way. When your child is one, however, he doesn’t exactly have a lot of friends and he’s not exactly in to anything yet.

So as we’ve done with each of our kids on their first birthdays we invited our LifeGroup over to help us celebrate in the festivities.

We did a Hot Chocolate Party…an idea I saw on my instagram feed. Everyone had fun and it was bar none the easiest party I’ve ever hosted and literally no stress was involved!

Disclaimer. Some photos were taken with my phone while others on my nice camera (my amazing husband got the awesome photos). I’m kicking myself for not getting some good pictures of the food set up.

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My sweet birthday boy!

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A blurry pic of the spread. We had chocolate and white chocolate covered pretzels and little bundtlets from Nothing Bundt Cakes

For our hot chocolate toppings, we had chocolate chips, dark chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, marshmallows, whip cream and peppermints.

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Hot Chocolate in the crock pot.

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Our guests getting their toppings!

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Pretty proud of the mini birthday banner.

IMG_1650Singing happy birthday to sweet Devin! (and a semi-flattering picture of me!)

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He really wasn’t sure what to think!

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I love this precious little boy!

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Gifts were fun but the people were better!

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He put on a show for everyone: walking!

It was a great party. Devin felt loved. The kids played and the adults talked. I loved having people in our home*

We had party favors but I forgot to get pictures. The adults received coffee mugs with a packet of hot chocolate, marshmallows and a peppermint. The kids got a color your own mug I picked up at Hobby Lobby.

Note to self: Must do this more often than just birthdays. 

 

Dom is 5!

I’ve heard it said about life, more specifically in regards to raising children the cautionary advice: “Don’t Blink!”

Daddy loves Dominic

Daddy loves Dominic

Today we celebrate the glorious and long awaited arrival of our eldest which took place five years ago. How could it be five years? 1,826 days have passed since our little guy took his first breath and I saw him for the first time after 42 weeks, yes 42 weeks, of having him near to my heart.

Our new family

Our new family

He has not left my heart, however, he is as the saying goes just my heart living on the outside.

Our little Linus

Our little Linus

Even with 2 additional beautiful babies my heart has not divided but rather multiplied in size and affection for him. Dominic our gift “from the Lord” bestowed upon us the most honorable title of mommy and daddy.

blessings

dom for fairy tale dayHe has taught us the joy of embracing a new day. He has raised us as much as we have raised him. He is smart, passionate about life and so thought-ful. His memory reminds me of my own once upon a time before children. His laughter can sweeten even the most sour of moods.

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Dominic Truth,

The one who seeks to understand…who treasures God’s word more than any other book on our shelf. Little man who challenges me daily to live my life to the full. We pray that you will continue to place your trust in Jesus. We pray that others will see Christ’s love radiating from within you and will fall in step with your exuberant quest to know Christ and make him known in the world.

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wear your goggles

I am so thankful that God chose you to be our son, our first born, our introduction to parenting. May you always see goodness, crave learning, build others up and embrace life with a contagious enthusiasm.

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Happy 5th Birthday Dom.

We love you!

Mommy and Daddy

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blessings 2

Margin

It’s been a busy few years. In the past five years, Marshall and I have brought 3 beautiful children into the world. That’s a really cool thing. But also…3 kids in 5 years. Actually 3 kids in 4 years is better math as our youngest just turned 1 this month!

I’m tired. Marshall is tired. The kids are….bouncing off the walls.

I love being a mom. Marshall adores being a dad.

Unfortunately, being a parent means giving up quite a bit to take on these roles. At least that’s what Marshall and I have come to understand in the past few months. It took us almost 5 years to figure out that you can’t live like you did when you didn’t have kids when you do have kids. Profound huh? But we’ve tried to do so anyway. Marshall with cycling and work and volunteering and me with work and volunteering and just about anything I could convince someone to let me do.

Then our church did a series called Crazy Busy. Being on staff, I was privy to the coming series, and the book that inspired it. I started listening to the audio version while doing laundry one day. It took me a week to get through it but at the end I was convinced there were things in our lifestyle we needed to change.

When Marshall and I got married, he used to joke that we wouldn’t make the typical mistakes newlyweds make. No, we would make brand new never-attempted-before mistakes. This would make me so mad. Of course I knew we would make mistakes but I felt that if we paid enough attention to those who had gone before, if we were sponges and soaked up the wisdom and advice of others that we would make less mistakes and definitely not new mistakes! Alas 8 years later, we’ve made a ton of mistakes and ironically Marshall, in all his humor and wisdom, was right. We have made some pretty impressive mistakes. Even when we did the first born, type A, pros and cons lists and have made what we thought was a well thought out decision, we’ve looked back and saw the things we didn’t think through and often exclaimed: What were we thinking? Were we thinking?

I remember sitting in a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class a few months back. As we watched the video, Dave was remarking on how those with debt are attempting to maintain a lifestyle that they can’t afford. They are living like they don’t have debt except…they do have debt. Although he was speaking about finances, I realized that Marshall and I had been attempting to maintain a lifestyle that we can not afford either because we’ve been living like we don’t have three small children except…we do have three small children! 

Marshall and I talked about this and so began our adventure in learning to find and value margin. Remember we are list makers, planners, chart makers. Through many talks, dry erase board sessions, praying, more talking, more mistakes, lots of tears, reading another book called Addicted to Busy, we started scaling back our lives. We started owning the fact that we have three small children and they have certain needs and nap schedules and stimulation thresh-holds. It was hard. Giving up activities we love, giving up events we wanted to support through service, stepping down from my job. Very hard stuff. *

We are still scaling back. We are still learning when to say no. But the more we scale back, the more margin we have to do those things that really matter.

We want margin to love our children and each other well. We want margin to serve and give to the right causes with exuberance and joy. We are about 5 months in to this journey of simplifying. We make new mistakes often…that’s just how we are (I think it’s funny most of the time). Thankfully, we are also learning to create some boundaries that are helping us to enjoy our children and each other. We are learning to love others well instead of living in the hurried frenzy where nothing gets done and good intentions sadly stay only good intentions.  Saying no to good opportunities is hard but as we learn to say no, we gain the ability to say yes to the right things.

This year we look forward to margin. Room to do and room to just be.

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*some of the things we’ve scaled back on, we hope to add back in time in reasonable doses, but for now we will embrace our lives filled with the precious demands of littles

 

Making Beautiful Day Nine {Trust}

My son Dominic is a pretty phenomenal kid. I see a lot of me in him. I see a lot of his daddy in him. Some of that is good and some of that is not so good.

More than anything I hope that as Dom grows and matures that regardless of who he favors physically, what talents and abilities he has, and the type of personality that continues to emerge that he will love Jesus with everything that is within him.

Fortunately and unfortunately that is not up to me. I can be a good example. I can talk about God and read the Bible to him and in front of him. I can quote scriptures like “be kind and loving to each other and forgive as Jesus forgave you” until I am a proverbial shade of indigo but I can’t make Dom love Jesus. I can’t make him surrender his life to Christ. I can’t persuade any of my children to follow Christ.

I have to rely on the Holy Spirit to draw my children to Himself. I have to pray and depend on God to move their hearts. And I have to trust that as my husband and I raise our children that they witness first hand the goodness of God.

I have experienced His goodness. It’s why I’m convinced without reservation that no one can come to the father except through Christ. It’s why I know that I know that I know that every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

We are teaching our children to pray. This has been such an incredibly neat experience for me. We started by praying for our children. After that we moved to encouraging our eldest to “repeat after me”. For a season Dom did not want to pray and so we regressed back to praying for him. And then we moved on to singing our prayers. And then suddenly, Dom is praying from the heart these beautiful prayers that he ‘thought up’ himself. And I find him tucked away praying silently for this or that. He’s asking to read specific Bible stories because they hold a special meaning to him. In small ways, he’s beginning to experience the goodness of God by communicating with his creator.

I’m amazed as I watch something begin to happen inside of him. Will he follow Christ? Oh how I pray he continues to own his faith and surrender his life completely to the calling God has on his life but I can’t control that.

As my mom prayed for me and my brother, I now pray for my precious children. I work hard to be that witness that compels them to Christ…but I must trust that the Holy Spirit will do his job. And of course He will… in a more amazing way than I could ever imagine.

 

Making Beautiful Day 8 {Purple}

He has my heart!

I love my baby boy. When he smiles, his entire face smiles. I feel like even his eyes smile. His laugh is so joyful. And his toothy grin melts me.

His cry, however, is gut wrenching like fingernails on the chalkboard.

One day, when he was feeling the upset/angry emotion, he started crying. Has your child ever started crying and then got silent before crying even louder? Just like the gap between lightning and thunder the longer the gap the bigger and crazier the tears that follow will be when they start crying again. Well, my Devin had a really long gap…and as I now know…during that gap he was holding his breath….to the point that he almost passed out.

It was a scary moment. The time my child almost turned purple all because he was upset.

Reminds me of the oxygen mask speech we hear every time we fly. “In the event of an emergency, please secure your oxygen mask before taking care of your child or dependent.”

My sweet baby boy, who feels so extravagantly, was so focused on his anger that he forgot to breathe. Whoa!

But how often do we do the same thing? We get caught up in whatever seems more important that we fail to care for ourselves. To breathe in and out. To put that oxygen mask on before worrying about our to-do list.

Mommies, especially, are guilty of this “caring for others and if there happens to be any leftovers, steal a few moments for ourselves” way of living. Unfortunately we forget that we can’t give what we don’t have.

I’m learning to take care of me. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I do take care of me, I can do a much better job of taking care of my family and showing love to those that mean the world to me.

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Photo Credit: Captured Photography by Emily

Making Beautiful Day 7 {Love}

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It’s been a rough weekend at the Parker Household.

I’ll spare you the details but lots of laundry, gatorade and cuddles are taking place as everyone except sweet little Devin has experienced food poisoning or a stomach bug or something!

Dom literally threw up on Marshall’s back. Twice.

Oops. I said I would spare you the details.

But I share this specific incidence because of what it illustrates to me. When Dom was born, we saw this beautiful human being who was absolutely perfect. 10 fingers. 10 toes. I checked at 3am the night he was born. I needed to be sure. Fast forward almost 5 years and we would not have been able to articulate how much we love that kid even when he loses his lunch all over us. Parenting can get very messy. Literally. We wouldn’t, however, change our plans to have kids based on the amount of spit up, dirty diapers, lost sleep and lost lunches we have and will continue to experience.

Love is deeper and greater than our messes. I’m thankful that God doesn’t wince when we lose our lunch on him. He takes us in his arms, cleans us up a bit and tells us that he loves us.

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Making Beautiful Day 6: Possible

My dad on my wedding day.
My dad on my wedding day.

My dad on my wedding day.

I’m sitting here watching the most recent version of the Cinderella story. I have to say it is both beautiful and heart wrenching.

I always knew that Cinderella lost her parents. I always knew that her stepmother was mean and her stepsisters were a bit nasty but wow! This movie brings so much perspective to the reality of dear Ella’s plight as an orphaned girl left in the selfish and neglectful care of people who neither wanted her nor deserved her.

There’s a scene where she is thoroughly exhausted and broken. Tears streaming down her face, she leaves her house to ride her horse. She comes across a stag and although she is in the depths of heartache she shows great compassion. As her mother told her in her dying days: “Have courage and be kind”.

And so she finds courage despite her difficult circumstances and she shows kindness to her evil stepmother, her stepsisters, a frightened stag, even little mice. In her darkest moment, she still shows kindness to an absentminded old woman.

My dad’s birthday was Wednesday October 14th. He passed away nearly 5 years ago. In my heart I hold many memories. Some are so precious. Some are painful.

On his best days, my father knew no stranger and his deep belly laugh would turn heads.

Sadly on his darkest days, the very ones deserving of his greatest kindness were often the recipients of words and actions that cut deep leaving scars that continue to seek healing.

For me, it has been a constant battle to wade through the realities of my dad’s mental illness and the very real hurts that I experienced.

On the day my father passed away, my mom found a handwritten note posted in the bathroom with a quote from one of his favorite movies: “I choose to be pleasant”.

I may not have been able to fully experience on earth the daddy I hoped to have but I know that he wanted to be that person.

I can choose to be bitter or choose to honor the beauty that was his laugh, and hold with great fondness our mutual affection for Boston Creme Donuts and treasure his Donald Duck impression that would have kept my kids in stitches for days on end.

Life, indeed, is not always easy. And we all have a past that may not be as beautiful as we would care to admit.

The future, however, is full of promise…full of the most wonderful possibilities. I can love my children with reckless abandonment, I can join my husband on this grand adventure of marriage, I can suck the marrow out of every sunrise and sunset and have the courage to be the woman God has called me to be.

And that’s beautiful.

 

The Conductor

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piano-933554_1920Although I started my college career as a music major, I’m not much of a musician. I played the flute in middle school, participated in multiple choral groups in high school and played keyboard in our youth group band. When I started college, I realized how very little I knew or understood about music. I went from little fish in a small pond to smaller fish in a big pond. I took a lot of music classes along the way before I changed my major one semester before graduation. (Yeh. About that? Maybe another blog.)

During the course of all my music classes, I learned a lot of music theory, aural theory ( I had no idea what that was until the first day of class), and I was immersed in a multiplicity of technique classes. My one and only C in college was barely achieved in String Techniques. But I digress.

I learned to read music, how to keep tempo, the different ways to play a song like staccato and legato. I grew to understand time signatures and rhythms. I learned about melodies and harmonies. All of these were and are so incredibly valuable but not more important than the other. In fact, I could read the notes on the page all day but if I didn’t know the time signature or understand the value of quarter notes and it’s relationship, it would just be random sounds without purpose.

If I could play each note and keep time adequately but slurred the notes when they were meant to be clear and distinct, I could miss the point of the song altogether.

Rhythm and notes and melody all working together.

Then there’s the most important ingredient: the conductor. The one who knows the song inside and out. The one who has perfected the rhythm, the one who has brought together all the right people playing the instruments that best suits them.

When a concert begins, all eyes are on the conductor. With a wave of his hand, the notes and tempos, and time signatures and rests and melodies and harmonies are melded together to make one glorious sound that develops in to a most exquisite symphony.

Today during our MOPS meeting I had a proverbial light bulb moment. As we talked about finding rhythm in life, my definition began to morph. What I would have defined as routines and schedules, and plans and tasks was turned into something so much more.

Rhythm is what keeps the song moving. A rhythm without a melody, however, is just the tapping of one’s foot. Just like a poorly played musical composition, we can become as monotonous and rigid as the clicking of a metronome if we spend too much time consumed with routine and miss the spontaneous beauty that accompanies the daily life.

Granted, our lives most assuredly need a time signature and a clear understanding of the notes but as any musician will tell you: mastering the notes is just the beginning. You have to feel the music, embrace the melody, and play the song from deep within.

That’s a scary place both on stage and in real life but the conductor is there to guide you! He’ll lead you in the melody if you’ll allow him that place in the busy of your life.

But what if I mess up?

I’ve yelled at my kids too many times today. 

The kitchen is a wreck and I have no idea what dinner will be.

What happened to the sparkle in my eye that was so prevalent before kids? 

He’s there. He’ll lead you in the difficult parts of the song. Remember you are not alone. There are countless others taking their place on the stage right beside you. The conductor has a masterpiece in mind that is stunning. Music to your ears. Join me, if you will, as we let God take his rightful place center stage for the performance of a lifetime that also happens to take a lifetime. Motherhood.

 

photo credit: tookapic

 

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