Monday, September 1, 2014

A few thoughts on marriage.

A couple of weekends ago, Brenner led a marriage retreat for Beale AFB and I was actually able to go with him thanks to my amazing mom who flew out here to watch the kids for us.
The retreat was in Reno at an all inclusive place where we were able to eat amazing meals that did not include the phrases 'take your next bite of food or you will go to timeout' or 'get your fork out from between your toes'; sleep in and not wake up 3 or 4 times during the night to a certain 2 year old who wants a hug and to be carried back to bed (her name may rhyme with Fara); go to the pool without spending 34 minutes lathering up tiny bodies in sunscreen and floaties and actually be able to READ A BOOK POOLSIDE (one of my favorite things ever); get a massage, eat frozen yogurt for dinner, and watch tv in bed.  
And Brenner made me go on one of those giant swing rides that takes you 180 feet in the air and then lets you go and you swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Yeah, I almost barfed all over Reno and never opened my eyes.  Not my favorite part of the weekend but at least Brenner loved it. 

All that awesomeness was nestled in between some really great marriage talk though. 
Brenner did an amazing job talking about biblical marriage and what that should look like in our lives. 
He talked on respect, honor, forgiveness, honesty, expectations, leadership, and more.  There was also so much time just to sit and talk with your spouse.  
And for me, when I take the time to pour into my marriage a little, it makes me realize how much I want to make my marriage and my relationship with Brenner grow. 
Brenner has really loved being able pour into other people's marriages as part of his role here as a chaplain.  He did some marriage counseling and weddings before entering the Air Force, but being able to lead these marriage retreats are something he really loves.  

Y'all, we had some hard times early on.  
Most marriages have been through tough times.  
Our tough marriage times coincided with our tough individual times too, which I also think is not that unusual.  When you are going through something hard personally, it is going to affect your marriage.  Getting married young, just as everyone tells you (but you refuse to listen), really does make some things a lot harder.  I was still in college, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, who I wanted to be, and all of a sudden I was supposed to share everything about my life with another person.  Brenner and I walked what felt like separate paths with separate goals for a long time.  We would go through ups and downs but looking back, a lot of the ups were not really what they should have been, nothing compared with the closeness and strong relationship that we have today. 
We did agreed on the goal of our marriage (to glorify God together) but we did nothing for to move closer to that goal.  
We did not work on communicating our needs, our hearts, 
our desires for what we wanted our life to be.  
And now, I as hard as those years were, where we were focused on ourselves and on our separate desires, they have made these years, the years where we openly talk about our hearts, where we communicate deeply, where we work towards our life goals together and where we have learned to respect, honor, and cherish each other deeply so much more sweet.  
Our commitment, to each other and our marriage, never wavered.   

I am thankful for our struggles because they have made us so much stronger.  I am so thankful for walking this journey with Brenner, that his passions have become my passions, that my heart is shared with his heart, where together we can work on bringing glory to God together and raise our kids to do the same. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Here we go: starting homeschooling.

Last week, Cole and I began our adventure in homeschooling!
About a year ago, God really laid it on my heart to homeschool Cole. 
I have really been looking forward to starting school and so has this little guy!
We are doing a Pre-K Letter of the Week curriculum as the basis of our reading/language arts.  A lot of what we are using is from the curriculum HERE.  
It is really fun and interactive and I know Cole will love it.  We also are doing other language enhancing activities I have found, a daily calendar/weather charts, and bible verse memory. 
Math and handwriting are incorporated into our curriculum but I am supplementing with other stuff as well. 
And of course we read a lot!  We read at least 30-40 minutes a day, which is our favorite part, and I think that kids learn so much through just reading lots and lots of books.  
Outside of home, we joined a Classical Conversation community and will go once a week, plus if course reinforcing all we learn at home too.
This was Cole's favorite activity of the week: gluing Applejacks to the letter "A".  
Why was it his favorite?
Because this was the first time that I have ever bought sugared cereal and he ate more than he glued!  He was not as thrilled at the elbow macaroni this week for the letter "E"!
(Jake also like the applejacks and we found him eating them off of Cole's sheets hanging up in the office :) )

(above: our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom alphabet tree
below: our by-weekly haul from the base library) 

I love teaching this kid so far and we are both looking forward to a great year in Pre-K!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Life lately in pictures.

A few photos from the past few weeks....
If you are around Clara Beth very long, you will know that she is obsessed and attached to her cow blanket, which she calls "moo".  This is how she likes to carry her blanket around when her hands are full.
Got to spend one morning with Brenner going to some ceremonies.  
It was kind of fun to look nice :)
Jumping buddies!
We actually had a date night!  
We went to Guy's restaurant in Sacramento which was pretty awesome.
Reading some books.
The girls love to play "night night" with everyone and last week's victim was our friend's teenage son.  
Y'all he did this for almost an hour.  
Best teenager award goes to Nolan!!!!
And this photo was snapped right before Elise started force feeding him pretend doughnuts :)
We went back to the children's art museum in Sacramento and learned that Clara has an intense love of glue. 
Music class.
All was quiet.  
This usually means I need to brace myself for what I will find them doing.  
But on Thursday I walked in on this.  
I love my little readers. 
Little bit hanging out with dad.
And of course, in this heat, we have had lots of time in the pool!  

And there is a glimpse into our life lately!

Monday, July 28, 2014

The two most important things.

I have been challenged recently in my parenting.  
Not because my kids are acting any worse or because we have hit a new hard stage.  
Because let's face it, every stage has its challenges and every stage of parenting is just hard.  
My challenges have come from me.  
God revealing things to me on how I need to be parenting versus how I am parenting.  
Through my summer reading and what I have been studying in the bible, I feel like I have honed in on the two most important things that we need to teach our children. 

1.  The purpose of our life is to glorify God.  
2.  We are sinners in need of a savior and the grace that only Jesus Christ can give.  

These are two things that I know myself.  
These are two things that affect me daily. 
But I do not think that they have been the two things that I have been focusing most of my efforts on in teaching my kids.
I think I have focused on obeying mom and dad, table manners, using kind words, sharing, respect and basic things.  None of which are bad things and all things that do need to be taught.  
And of course we teach our children about the love of Christ, that he died for us on the cross, that he rose on the third day, that we are cleansed from our sins.  
Cole memorized Romans 5:8 this past year which reads "while we were still sinners, Christ dies for us."  It is one of his favorite verses and he says it frequently.  
He also corrected me when I commented to someone that we were Christians, and he said "no mom, we are sinners!"  Well, we were both right:  sinners seeking Christ!
But am I teaching him that he is separated from God until he makes a personal decision to live his life for Christ?  
Am I focusing on the "you need Christ to transform your heart full of sin" part?
Because until he realizes that he needs Christ, not just that he wants Christ, wants to be a christian, wants to be like mom and dad, wants to obey to earn praise, but that he truly will be lost his whole life until he humbles himself before Christ, then his heart will be wanting to do things for the wrong reasons.   
I do not want these three to grow up obeying because they want to please me.  I do not want them to obey because they are scared of discipline.  I do not want them to obey because of social pressure or for physical/tangible rewards.  
I want them to learn obedience because in their hearts, they desire to be like Christ.  They want to submit to the authority of God because they know that they are sinners in need of a savior, and in need of immense grace.  
And when we submit to God, and accept his grace, the desire to glorify God becomes our focus, our purpose.  
Ultimately, the only thing that we will be accountable for is how we used our life, what God gave us, to glorify him.  From the way we used our time, our words, our money, our work, our faith, our everything....we will be held accountable.  
We will accountable on how well we raised our children and used our marriage to bring honor and glory to God.  
Everything we do falls under this umbrella.
And all the things that we must teach about sharing, respect, kindness, love, patience, manners, all comes back to giving God glory.  Using what we have and who we are to bring glory to God.
Like I said, these are not new ideas.  And they are things that I practice in my life.  
But do I talk with my kids about the choices that they make being for the sake of "because I told you so?" or do we talk about choices of the heart, about choosing to do things and say things that glorify God?  Do I tell them enough that the only way they will succeed in overcoming their sin is because of God's grace and because he conquered sin for us?
Many parents may think these things can be taught later, when kids can are older and can understand better, but I disagree.  Molding a child's heart starts at the beginning.  
And these two most important things are what matters the most and what we should spend time modeling for them, teaching them, and guiding them.

**Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick are the two books that I read that inspired this post.  Such good books! 

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