Raising Children During Chaos

Raising children in the midst of chaos can seem like a task of responsibility and accountability because our hearts are filled with thoughts of logistics, plans, & overwhelmed by circumstances. 
Pressing into Jesus while I admonish our children has made me the most aware and humbled by the gift of the Holy Spirit. 
While their behavior is filled with selfishness, tantrums, questions, and the need for training, it isn’t abnormal. It can feel like the greatest inconvenience, though, when my heart is reeling and my thoughts aren’t captive to Christ. 
I’m overwhelmed by the grace and wisdom the Spirit speaks into me and through me when I’m gently talking through life with my children. When a directive, a calm answer, or wise training comes from the depths of my innermost heart. I’m overwhelmed because Jesus speaks to me even more than whatever I’m speaking to my children. 
When I’m speaking hope and understanding to them (through the Spirit’s leadership), it’s actually me He’s speaking to…filling up my heart and mind to prompt me towards steadfastness. I’ll never stop growing, and the inconveniences of nurturing and training my children insure this and though I don’t always thank God for it, I am today. 
So today when my heart is very aware of the circumstances today holds, as we travel to another town to meet with an oncologist to hear pet scan results and chemo treatment plans, I’m asking the Lord to calm my anxious heart with moments of truth shared with my children that are ultimately for us all. 
Grace so free, washes over me. 

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It’s Port Day

We’ve added a lot of new words in the last five years to our everyday speak—“normal pain”, multiple sclerosis, relapsing remitting, ms “flare/episode”, degenerative discs, radiculopathy (that’s the best one 😜)…but I think the most recent ones are my least favorite. 
Cancer. Surgery. Port. Oncology. Chemo. 
I know SO many have walked this road (I wish that weren’t so), but this is new to us, and I frequently think…this is our life. We are “those” people. We have diligently prayed for “those” people—the ones fighting cancer. We are going to fight…but I mostly know, for now, we’re trusting Jesus. 
I have used the phrase “press into Jesus”, but until 5 weeks ago, I’m not really sure I even knew what that meant or how to go about it. 
Now I know, praise Jesus, now I KNOW. I don’t want to do this, but if it’s what it took to experience pressing into Jesus along with hearing my 6 year old tell us about a very personal and alone conversation he had with His Savior because he is also learning to press into Jesus….I would go to the ends of the earth. To hear my 4 year old pray “God please make a plan for my mom and Dad and if Dad dies, we’re going to trust you”. (You have no idea the flood of tears that revolve around our joy in hearing our 4 year speak the gospel. Praise Jesus!) 
The kind of freedom and empathy that comes with trial & suffering gives us new life. 

The kind of life that scoffs at hardships and trying circumstances because there is no room for the enemy. 

No room for his tactics, his maneuvers. He may ask for permission from the Lord to strike his hand against our response to our lot, but our hearts that are steadfast on God’s Sovereignty, will deny the enemy and press into Jesus. Sure we will give into moments where our hearts beat heavy within our chest and we entertain the what-ifs. We just rest here a moment, long enough to ponder hurtful outlooks, then we set our feet firm in the direction of wisdom. We walk long and hard in the same direction, towards grace. We hurt so much harder and faster for others—experiencing the hard parts—as well as the others we so desperately desire to know Christ and His perfect love.  

A Year Of A New Journey

We looked at each other, and for the first time, we were on the same page, we knew our family wasn’t complete. 

But there was a big appointment looming, and we weren’t sure what the impending diagnosis would mean for continuing to build our family. 

We ventured to UT Southwestern and met with an MS Neurologist and he said confidently that I have MS. The only real question on our list was whether or not having more children would be wise or even an option. Before we got to our questions, he asked “are you done having children?” We said that we didn’t want to be, but would follow whatever suggestions he made. He began to tell us that many women cease experiencing their MS symptoms and it goes into  somewhat of a remission during pregnancy. He said go for it! (He also threw in that with my age, we should definitely get finished having babies. I gave him the stink eye. Not really, but I did remind Brady he’s older than me…it made me feel better). 

Our boys had no inclination that we had wanted to have more children, but they had started praying every night for a baby sister (this was well before we thought about pregnancy). At first I just thought it was cute, then graduated to wondering if they knew something we didn’t, and eventually I secretly started join their chorus in prayer (not necessarily a girl, but a baby). 

They have been praying over a year for a baby, before we decided to set out on the journey. Pregnancy had not taken a long while of praying for or working towards for us before,  so I really didn’t know what to expect. We spent the next next year (that appointment was in July) learning a little about MS, learning how to give me the injections, radically changing our diets, and trying to minimize my episodes. 

By May of this year, we had really started to believe maybe the Lord was working in our lives and hearts in a different direction that involved growing our family…because pregnancy tests were coming back negative. I decided to quit taking tests and we started discussing and praying about fostering and adoption. 

After our vacation, I felt different and so very exhausted along with some ill fitting clothes. Which very much frustrated me because I had been losing weight and had been on a strict eating plan for a year. Brady advised me to take a test just so that I would know I wasn’t pregnant (he was so adamant and really was trying to ease my heart). Lo and behold that test was positive! I cried. He sat down out of shock. I don’t remember being so overcome with joy the first 3 rounds (including our first angel baby) but I just think each pregnancy is very different and reflects different experiences and understanding.


I could hardly wait for the doctor’s appointment. Given the dates I had, I just knew I must be so far along. Every momma’s wish I suppose. But, the sono showed a heartbeat and 5 weeks 5 days. Pregnant FOREVER was my first thought. But I didn’t care. I had a whole new understanding and joy about pregnancy. Once we went back the next week and heard the heartbeat, we told the boys. There joy and happiness was indescribable. We videoed them (Drake has intuition and had asked a few questions the week leading up which is so evident of his deep understanding and connection to his parents, if you know him well, it’s so who he is and we love it!). He said “really? For real?” And Holt immediately jumped up and kissed my belly. 

This has been the easiest pregnancy so far. I feel great and it’s such a different experience from my pregnancy with both of my boys. I’ve had no MS symtpoms. We find out the gender next month and the boys pray every night the baby would be ready to be born now. They just can’t wait!!! We cannot wait to watch Holt become the only one in the house to be a big AND little brother. Drake has mastered the skill of sacrifice and sharing so we have no doubt will walk in that role and teach his little brother. 


A funny note, in true boy fashion, Holt somehow literally stained his hands. On picture day. Brady scrubbed and washed them to no avail. 


Manic Monday->Evernote Sanity


I shared a little last week about how I use my Happy Planner. I love pretty things. Pens, paper, stickers, decorating, etc. It’s time consuming sometimes. Sometimes I need to be able to jot it down while I’m on the go and I also need to be able to share information with my husband immediately. I also need a safe place in the techno world to save vast amounts of information that is shareable with other places in the techno world. 

My husband loves Evernote. He uses his for so many different tasks, parts of life, jobs, notes, etc that it’s like a living log of his life that will forever record everything about him. He sold me on Evernote. 

I have used it for everything from homeschool planning, task lists for my children to check off themselves, grocery lists, our budget, files for pictures of our children’s artwork (that we can then trash!), planning my business classes and parties, and a safe place to store functional ideas from Pinterest. It’s a one stop shop. All saved. 

It also has a handy feature where I can create notebooks that can be stacked and notes within the notebooks. Um, organizing junkie dream. 

If you haven’t looked into Evernote, there is a minimal version for free and I’ve survived on that alone for 3 years. It’s worth a shot! 

My husband utilizes Evernote so well, I decided it was a great place to share love notes! I created a note and shared it with him. He doesn’t have to keep up with cards and such, and I can post cute graphics to go along with my notes! 

We have some serious health issues, so we also keep track of our medical visits, tests, results, bills, etc in Evernote. 

It’s become a one place stop for all of our records.  

Here’s a screen shot of an overview list when I click on notes. I can save pictures, notes, links, etc. It also has an option to “pin” from the web!

Homeschool Nature Study

We’re starting something new. It’s uncomfortable to me but totally natural to my boys. It’s already creating conversations, helping them make connnections, revealing their natural curiosity and inclinations, and helping tie together all of our academic disciplines. 

We’re doing a nature study. 

Here are our resources! 

  
We are starting with a basic field guide. 

   
 
This website has been invaluable! We even signed up for a “pen pal” nature friend where will exchange items from their natural environment from somewhere in the world with items we collect from our natural environment! 

You can visit the site here at Raising Little Shoots she even has an ebook for a year long nature study curriculum!

We’re about to add geocaching to our study. I’ve downloaded the app, watched YouTube videos and found resources on social media! 

We made a trip to a local garden and flower nursery to start out hand at green thumb. My parents are incredible gardeners and I’m not. With these boys reminding me, I’m sure we’ll make a go of it. Spring is in the air and so is learning. 

How do you naturally learn with your children?

How do I find my voice

  
In a single minute we have more access to technology than many of our ancestors would even know what to do with much less care to utilize. I could look up the statistics, but that would be in direct opposition to what I’m thinking on today. 

I’ve seen several posts regarding national women’s day which have mostly included pleas concerning their own daughters finding their strength, voice, wisdom, etc. I don’t have a daughter, but I am a woman. 

I love people and learned how to do that from my husband (after deep conviction from the Holy Spirit that this is a main crux of the gospel). I don’t love as well as I would like and find myself frantic to invest into my children, be active and helpful for our parents (however, they’re honestly STILL doing this in our season of life more than I would have chosen), and to come alongside my husband’s endeavors whatever that may be (him being out after or before work to serve/minister, giving him time alone to rest and Sabbath-though he’s stubborn there due to his lively & passionate desire to be with us, pushing him to take time away with friends, etc). 

I don’t feel neglected or lost in my identity. I know Who I belong to for eternity and for whom I’m living here on earth. My husband is steadfast in ministering to me in so many ways–sleeping in (my love language), encouraging me to have a day for the boys to go to grandparents and I spend time alone (again, my love language) and so many other ways. 

Because sleeping and being alone are my (jokingly) love languages, I am hampered in building friendships. My new diagnosis (Multiple Sclerosis) has given viability to those loved activities (sleeeeeeep please) and anything alone to refresh. There is a take on energy called “spoon theory” and it is referenced by most chronic autoimmune disease sufferers (MS has been thrust into that category, though, like all things MS, still mostly unknown). It basically means you have only so many spoons of energy a day and you have to choose wisely how they are used for the day. Let me just say, on a rare day filled with fatigue, a shower and getting ready is pretty much ALL of my spoons (and it makes me so angry because I’m learning how this does not equate laziness but goodness it so FEELS like it). But, I’ve learned how to maneuver that and make it work for our life because I cannot slow down and won’t. 

Finding my voice takes energy. Finding my voice takes thought and action. I have preferred the written word for much of my life. Want to know what I’m thinking? May I send you an email? Some of my best friends have said “can you just call me?” Because I can text with you into the depths of my heart and you will get more of my soul than anyone on earth standing face to face with me. It’s a flaw for me, I know. It speaks to my heart when you’ll take my test conversations. I have learned that if I want to be loved by a friend understanding that I would rather text, I have to live by understanding they’re a verbal processor and I need to call them. This will land on the hearts of some of my people and make them think I never want to talk in person or on the phone, ever. That’s not true, this is how we grow in finding our voice. It’s not about me being heard. 

Finding my voice is about me growing and taking baby steps to be stronger. These same friends now text and let me process via text and allow me, in my own time, to call them! And I do. I’m much faster to pick up the phone now. It’s not about being awkward or uncomfortable like some of my introvert friends. I’m the most outgoing introvert there ever was and continue to enjoy being around and with people. But, I have a “recover time”. Anyone else? 

This is still my happy place. Writing. Conveying my thoughts, ideas, convictions (risky, given the absurd speed at which “opinion” travels and the backlash that can ensue before you can ask “I can’t have an opinion?!) and hopes, dreams, and fears. 

Scripture tells us the heart is deceitful above all things. I have a love/fear relationship with one of my giftings (prophecy). It prompts me to think beyond the heart and feelings (which is healthy) but sometimes keeps me in my head (my momma always said I had common sense 😂) and out of my heart. It has proven to me that I must seek to be like Christ because a prophet sees the hard and real and sometimes misses the mercy and grace. 

Today, on national women’s day, I’m finding my voice by admitting that I have some serious steps to take in building deeper friendships. Our culture of women keep talking about “my people” and “my tribe” and though it sounds wonderful, I want to make sure mine knows I’m just as much a part of being honest and vulnerable in having a voice to share as much as I ask and wish from them. 

It seems ironic to say I’m going to talk and not just listen, but to reciprocate friendship I have to be known, too. It seems arrogant. I have wisdom that tells me many of my closest friends who know me and value me will be elated to know I’m ready to be known, too. I won’t just be asking the questions anymore. I won’t just be saying “I’m okay…how was that….the other day that we prayed about?” 

Finding my voice will be a work in process. When most of us process, we start where we’re comfortable.  I’ve started where I’m comfortable but it’s vulnerable and I’m trusting the Lord to move mountains in my heart and flesh. 
  

On being rooted like a tree

So many of my ideas really do start with good intentions. The threats of others opinions, fear of failure, distraction from more important priorities, and laziness are but a few of many excuses & road blocks to following through with my good intentions. 

As a senior in high school, I felt deeply motivated to follow through with my inquiries of others. If someone was hurting, confused, frustrated, lonely, or even on a mountain top high, I wanted to be the one to encourage their spirit. If I asked, I would continue to check in. If there was a need, I wanted to meet it and continue being a place of provision and comfort. I quickly learned that this wasn’t a task I could complete on my own. This was a learning curve in my walk with Christ, and my walk was a fresh one. I began a sanctifying (being very challenged and refined) process of understanding what it means to be like Christ as well as share Him. It was very uncomfortable. I started missing opportunities and letting people down. It seemed very ironic that in the midst of seeking the only Perfect man and pursing to be like Him, I would actually start feeling disappointed. There are an array of reasons why that happened (and still happens). I started seeing my own needs, and that really got in the way of meeting the needs of others because I began to feel caught up in my own shortcomings. The Lord told me on a few occasions to not meet needs, and that felt wrong, but He knew better. I learned that sometimes we meet the needs He reveals, versus the ones seen by our fleshly eyes. I had to learn that, because I was inadvertently becoming a crutch in the lives of those I was trying to help. I started seeing that walking like Christ and trying to be like Him required complete surrender. 

I think once I started to “master” (that is just such a human way to describe my misunderstanding) how to process through meeting the needs of others, I began to see serious insecurities and needs of my own. This process has continued and evolved. I will elaborate on that in a future post. 

Coming to a place of surrender has been a combination of learning spiritual disciplines as well as a life-giving lesson in standing firm. A wonderful aid (beyond my life-source itself::the Holy Bible) has been “Living by the Book” by Dr. Howard Hendricks, “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster, and 2 very crucial verses. One has always been a life verse for me 1 Corinthians 15:58 and a newer addition for me has been Psalm 1.

I hope you have a moment to look into Scripture today. Even if you read one verse, our hearts know how to tuck Truth so deeply inside that it will always be a place of trust, faith, and courage in Christ. Being rooted means we go much deeper than what appears on the surface. Plant your heart deep today in Truth and trust in the One who gives such abundant life that we won’t quickly wither. 

When I shared with my oldest son that I was learning to be planted like a tree, he told me he loved the trees in his grandparents front yard. So here is a picture of my boys looking very courageous 😍

  

A Fresh Take

I rearrange. A lot. It keeps things fresh and new. However, it also usually creates a huge disaster that I barely finish getting cleaned up before I start another rearranging project/mess. 

With both of my boys having birthdays in November  before  Christmas, I knew we were about to have an onslaught of new toys. It was time to purge and redistribute. 

I purged and purged our school things and toys. I loved several things to their bedroom and decided it was time for the play room to be school room too! I wish I had before pictures of the 2 areas we combined, but I’m not sure you could imagine it anyway. 

Here is our playroom and school room. 

  
    
    
 
One pic of how I managed to pull EVERYTHING out and use every piece of organizational tubs and storage we own 😂

  
So it’s not this clean anymore, but we had room to add in new toys and have to make adjustments before Christmas. But it’s our place!

Inspiring Christmas

We had a Christmas open house for our church leaders & volunteers.  It was a good time to freshen up & change some things in our home. We had chocolate brown walls, and I’m kind of shocked at all of the “oh I loved your brown wall” comments we’ve received. However, the following comments are usually “but I do love this new color!”. Our first change was a new color for the front room! 

   
   
Then we moved and updated our “S” wall. It can’t really called that because I only returned one “S” and made it more of a Christmas wall this time. 

   
 
Next, we put our IKEA picture ledges back up but I went with more Christmas decor instead of pictures. Also, I added some festive banner and garland!

  
I still have a few things to add. 

I had purged and given away so much that this hand built (by my talented husband) furniture was completely empty! So it was fun to temporarily decorate with Christmas duds!

  
   
   

Adding to the mantle is always a delight! I change it up every year. 

   
 
   

These and are handmade stocking that my mother in law helped me create a few years ago. They are still a treasure to me 😍
 
I updated a beautiful shelf as well as created memories with my boys while we assembled our Nativity. 

   
 
And last, but not least, our front windows and tree!

  
   
 

A Celebration of Handmade 

 

 I have to share these adorable shirts my boys are show casing here. 

There is a delightful vintage mercantile in downtown Wichita Falls, TX called Alley Cat. I have some beautiful handmade items left over from our sale this summer that were donated for our sale with the prayer we would raise some money to help with out medical bills. We did make a lovely dent in those bills, but could continue to use funds. I envisioned this sale based on my MS diagnosis and continual tests and medicines required. This sale happened before my husband’s diagnosis and surgery for his ankle even happened so we have used those funds, thankfully with God’s provision! 

So I paid a small booth fee and set up all of my items at Alley Cat! While I was walking through the 4 stories of antiques, handmade, & vintage delights, I came across a shop called “little h creative”. Oh my stars. These shirts were among the goodies. Prints, sewn items, shirts, galore. Go check her out on Instagram and Facebook!  I love having Christmas shirts for my boys that are easy and not over the top dressy. And they love dressing like some of their favorite young adults at our church and on our staff 😂

little h creative https://www.facebook.com/littlehcreative/