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I struggle with being content. Most days there is at least something that I’m not really a big fan of in my life.  While I don’t always voice these out loud (thankful I’m growing in this area!) – I find that my heart can still be dark and ungrateful.  Being thankful for all the little things in my life is very helpful.  But I really enjoyed reading this list that my friend Rach passed along.  I’m considering framing it and putting it in my kitchen! 🙂  It has been so helpful to have some specifics to think through and realize “Wow, I’m really not content with our basement being unfinished in this house”.  I was able to pray through that, let it go and even tell my husband “I’m ok with this not getting done right now”.

Apparently God is working on my heart in this area.  It is hard, but it is good.  And I must say I nearly fell over when Jason looked at me one night at dinner and said, “You seem so much more content”.  Makes it all worthwhile. 🙂

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I came across the following from Neva Whitney (writing about what verse helped her the most in being a mother to her children) and it hit home today! I’m going to write this verse down to keep at my kitchen sink!

“And I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you the more, am I to be loved the less?”  2 Corinthians 12:15

Spend and be expended – that pretty much says it all. Moms lay down their life day after day, night after night, week after week, and year after year. They do this for decades. It’s hard work. Yes, there are rewards. But the work is hard, nonstop and relentless.

The verse says “gladly” spend and be expended. That always was a ‘check’ to my spirit. I did not always succeed, but I sure tried. I felt it was my responsibility to smile, as that’s what God always wanted from me. Being a mom is not just a duty; it’s a privilege. Being a mom is a work that can only be done well, if it is done with joy.

As wives and moms, we cannot fall into this world’s way of complaining about the time children take or the interruptions and inconveniences they can cause. We tend to hear so much complaining! Our children are our God-given disciples and they will define most of our daily schedule and when all is said and done – our life’s work!

A joyful mother should set the atmosphere in the home, even when sleep-deprived or buried under a pile of laundry and bathroom messes.

Being a mom is such a God-given privilege.  Our children are a blessing and a gift – from God’s own hand.

– Neva Whitney

Not sure what God is doing in my life, but refining me as a mom sure has been on His to-do list.

Not that I mind, I really do want to grow.

But sometimes it is hard, I don’t see that I’m making any progress and raising kids of character is sometimes exhausting and overwhelming.  This week is one of those such times.  It has been a crazy long month ending with an even crazier long week.  Jason has been gone for 4 days and I’m staring down a brand new week and haven’t seen my honey yet. Wowza.

I read this post last night and it was perfect timing on God’s part. Praying today that I can keep the long view in my sight.

Except for the fact,  that I have indoor plumbing, electricity and the availability of a drive-through carmel latte down the street. 🙂

But really, as I have s.l.o.w.l.y been on this journey to healthier and cleaner living, I have made several changes in the past three years.  Wow, three years already?  Baby Johnny was about 2 months old when I first realized what high fructose corn syrup was and we decided we would cut that from our diet.  Every few months I have tried adding in new things from clearing out my entire stash of store bought cleaning supplies to completely overhauling our menu ideas and trying my hand at making many things from scratch in order to control the cost and ingredients.

It has been a fun and exciting few years.  I’ve discovered I really do enjoy cooking.  While sometimes there is the dreaded question, “What are we going to have for dinner???” Most of the time, I enjoy creating real, whole food meals for my family that are healthy and budget friendly.  Sometimes the budget aspect creates some stress in my life (like wishing we could eat all organic) but for the most part I get a little kick outa making things taste good that my family enjoys eating.

(Let me also just say this before you read any further.  I have wrestled over, over and OVER with feeling like somehow if we are eating a particular way or living life free of chemicals then somehow I am “in more control” over my life and the life of my family.  This lesson is always a big one when I am pregnant.  But I am quickly reminded each time I read “safe”, “healthlier”, ect. that ultimately God holds my next breath in his hand.  I want to be wise with our choices here on earth, but I also know that we live in a fallen wold and that nothing I ever do can change that.   I found this blog post very helpful and challenging to make sure my priorities are where they should be.  However, this is a very real thing that I wrestle with on a regular basis!  I’ve still got a ways to go to completely give this entire area over to the Lord.  Or, at this point, I’m thinking I’m just going to have to learn to let it go day after day & week after week.)

One thing that I had yet to do in my quest for healthier eating was change out my cookware.  Part of me just tried to ignore the fact that there were some negative ideas about the safety of non-stick cooking pans, but then the other part of me kept thinking, “If there was another option out there, I think I would like to give it a try.”  I’m not a fanatic about this, (occasionally I still use a non-stick pan) but for the most part, since Christmas, I have moved all my stove top cooking over to this baby:

Enter my cast iron skillet.  We have actually had it since we registered for it for our wedding!  But only had used it for cooking breakfast over the fire.  In all my reading, it seemed like cast iron or stainless steel cookware would be the best options for us.  I requested a second cast iron skillet for Christmas from my mother-in-law and she gave me a HUGE one!  At first I did not like it because it was so. incredibly. heavy.  It was so awkward to use and my arm was not strong enough to hold it with one hand up over a pan or plate to scoop food out with my other hand.  Those tasks turned into a two man job.  But I was bound and determined to give these skillets a go.

And you know what?  I really really like them!  (Although cooking scrambled eggs is NOT my favorite- they do not come off of the pan very easily for clean up.)  It has been fun to use them as they are quite seasoned now… so cooking that french toast up there?  Tasted so good! And while clean up is a little more of a hassle (I’ve resorted to scraping them clean while they are still hot since the food comes off so much easier than if it has cooled), I have pretty much made the adjustment to cooking exclusively with these two skillets.  And I’m pretty sure I might be requesting a cast iron dutch oven this year for Christmas. 😉

Which brings me to my next reason while I felt a little like Ma Ingalls last week.

Yep, that is a grain grinder. (I have ready many, many places about the benefits of grinding your own flour- you should do a search for it… too many sites to list!)

Can I just take a minute and tell you how cool God is?  I have been saving for quite a while for a grain grinder.  And not just any grain grinder- I’ve had my eye on this one.  Well, finding room in our budget for that purchase has not been a priority (we are saving for a home at some point!) so I have taken it upon myself to save for this puppy all by myself.  That means I put a good chunk of my birthday money towards it, I have a survey company that I occasionally get $3 for surveys that I take, I work hard at SwagBucks and I usually end up putting over half of my discretionary money in this savings envelope each month as well.  It has been about 6 months and I’m a little over half way there I think.

Anyhow, I had been telling a new friend out here that I was saving for a wheat grinder. And she looked at me and said “A grain grinder?”  Yep, that is it! She then walked over to her pantry and pulled out the above picture grinder and told me that a friend who moved overseas had lent her that grinder to use.  She was not using it, so would I like to borrow it for a while?? MAN – O – MAN!  Would I?!?  Love to!  AND she had a bag of wheat berries that she had gotten from her mother-in-law that she gave me as well.  No charge!  So for $0.00- God gave me a grinder (for a while until I can save up for mine!) and wheat berries!  Isn’t that kind of the Lord?  I love the fact that I serve a God who cares about the little things in life.  And that He loves to make his daughter smile and tell me that He loves me just because.  So cool.

It was so perfect that the week that my friend Jodi had given me the grinder and berries, because  I was already planning to make some more homemade chocolate chip cookies .  I wasted no time that afternoon grinding those berries (thankfully I had the sense to take it out in the garage in case it was loud as to not wake up my kids from nap time!)  and get to making my cookies with my fresh ground whole wheat flour!  And last night for supper, we had scrambled eggs, turkey sausages and my first attempt at whole wheat waffles (with you guessed it, fresh ground whole wheat flour!) and they were a hit! I made a double batch to put a good number of them in the freezer for breakfasts around here.  I have a particular little *almost 3 yr old* little boy who thought waffles for a birthday breakfast would be a GREAT idea!

 


 

I am not a huge book reader.  At times I will read several books at once and then never finish them.  However, one of my new year’s resolutions is to start small in this area of reading one book (in addition to the Bible) each month.  I had asked for this book, “Choosing to SEE” for Christmas and much to my delight I received it!  I think I had it read in about 7 days.  It was that good.

I was first drawn to this book because the Chapman’s adopted three little girls from China.  In fact, it was at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Ames way back in the day… like 11 years ago when I first felt God tug at my heart about adoption. Once I saw that Mary Beth Chapman had written this book about their story, I was all over it.  I am still so excited to maybe adopt one day.  And the story did tell of each of their adoptions.  However, God seemed to have something else for me in this book.

There are many parts to their story, but the main one is about the day their son accidentally hit one of their daughters from China with the car and she was taken to Heaven.  It is quite the story of sadness and hope, pain and healing.  At one point in the book, Mary Beth (don’t quote me on this) was asking God- WHY? And a bunch of other questions that she just could not get past. God’s answer to her (among other things)-

“Love well those left in your charge”- God

Since I finished this book almost 3 weeks ago, I cannot get that statement out of my mind.  I think it is because I have this desire to adopt some day.  That seems like I will be doing something great for God.  Something huge.  I have also thought for many years that traveling to a different country to help run an orphanage would be amazing.  Now, that is even more huge!  Surely my life would bring God glory if I did that.

And yet… I keep hearing “Love well those left in your charge, Leah”.  I had lost sight of the fact that I am already doing something huge in the kingdom of God by loving my Mr. and raising my three little kids.  Somewhere in the piles of laundry, trying to cook healthy meals and 2 little boys in diapers, taking care of someone else’s baby seemed more important.  But of course it is not.  God also keeps bringing these verses to mind:

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” – Matthew 10:42

“Whatever you do work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”- Colossians 3:23

Do I one day hope to adopt? YES! To be involved in the work of an orphanage somewhere? YES!

But for now, for today, my heart has to be here in my home.  To love well those left in my charge with a cheerful and servant’s heart.  Yes, that is what God has asked of me today.

Ps.  You should really read the book!

Oh my goodness! This is me updating my post about 4 hrs after I originally published it.  Because due to my prego brain and the fact that my son woke up from his nap half way through me writing this that I TOTALLY forgot to mention my sister Amy and what a rock star she was that weekend we were moving.  I did not mention that we were simultaneously doing turnover AND  painting the interior of our duplex during those few days.  Yes, we are crazy, we know this.  But we could not have survived those days without Amy’s help with painting, watching the kids, delivering frozen snickers bars (yes, I am now addicted…), unpacking, cleaning, the list goes on and on!  From the bottom of our hearts Ruthie…. THANK YOU!!  We appreciate how you gave up your life those few days to make ours a little more manageable!!

We have been in our “new to us -month to month rental house” for about 2 weeks now and things are finally feeling like we are settled.  Yes there are still a few random boxes here and there and there is some work to be done in the basement yet organizing all our “store until we move again” boxes.  But for the most part the questions of  “Do you know where ___ is?” have ceased and I am quite pleased. 🙂

Our signed lease (that we received 1 week before we moved in) said that our lease began on Aug 1st, 2010 @ 9:00am.  We were headed out the door to house church that Sunday morning and decided to stop by the place to see it empty and get an idea of where beds and dressers would go.  Jason’s plan was to come right after church and start getting organized while I stayed with the kids for their afternoon nap/rest time.  Lets just say things did not quite go as planned.  I walked into the house that morning and the front door was unlocked and was greeted by the fact that the current tenants had not moved out yet.  The carpets had been cleaned the day before so everything was shoved into the closets, bathroom and kitchen.  Tears did not run down my face, but they was definitely some “welling up” going on on my face.  I was totally crushed. We had come to the conclusion that our landlord was “laid back” and just could not figure out what we were going to do.  We called him and he said he thought they were supposed to be out by noon.  We left and went to house church and it was so good for my heart to be reminded during worship that God is in control.  I have no idea what song we even sang that morning, but it was God speaking to my heart.  We returned after church to find the current people moving out and Jason was able to work around them and still get the beds and dressers in place.  They finally “were out” by 3pm– however my friends, they had not done any cleaning.  Now, we have been landlords for a good 5 years now I KNOW what checkout cleaning should look like.  It takes hours and hours – but nothing was done here.  I set to work sweeping, scrubbing and cleaning and quickly my attitude about our entire situation was going down the drain.  Here just a few days before I had been singing the praises to God for his provision and within minutes of walking into our “perfect for us home” I was muttering under my breath and frustrated beyond belief.  The place was by no means trashed, but it was dirty.  I opened the fridge and there was cat and human hair on the shelves, the cabinets were full of dead bugs and dirt, the “white” kitchen sink was yellow from neglect, the top of the stove was completely covered in grease and they had sprayed the oven cleaner in the oven but had not done any sort of elbow grease to get it cleaned.  Add to that the handle to the kitchen cabinet was falling off, one drawer fell into 4 pieces when I opened it, the fridge has a huge crack in the plastic shelf and has no produce drawers and both of the bathtubs were backing up.  I was not a happy camper.  It seemed as though the place was falling apart at my fingertips and our landlord is not to be found (he works a job laying carpet for his day job so turnover is a busy time for him) and I was left with my emotions calling the shots.  Not a pretty sight.  Somewhere in the midst of my grumbling I felt God tugging at my heart and I realized what the REAL problem was going on inside of me.  I am embarrassed to share with you all, I was being prideful. Seriously, the big, bad and ugly, I thought I was too good for living like this.  We came from a beautiful home and my husband takes care of us and we live on a budget and save and spend wisely (or try to!) and I just realized I never saw myself “stepping down a few notches”.  Which is exactly what this house was in my mind.  Once I realized that, I quickly was humbled beyond belief.  I suddenly stopped grumbling and realized how blessed I am to have a roof over my head, running water, air conditioning (yes it is a window ac!), a wonderful and healthy family, a God who loves me and is involved in my life and a husband who is the perfect man for me.  A little dirt- nothing!  Grime? No problem!  Living in a’ less than what I had envisioned for my life at the age of 28 home’?  Perfect for my heart.  And while I still don’t have my 4th kitchen drawer and the bedrooms are still hot at night, I am learning to love this little house we now call home and I am so thankful again at God’s timing and provision.  And a huge thank you to Steve and Charlotte Powers for coming over that first afternoon/evening to help us get settled and work hours on the cleaning with us.  We appreciate your help and could not have done it without you!

Without further ado- here is a little peak into our home.

Here is my kitchen, notice the missing drawer at the bottom. 🙂

With our one and only token outlet.  Notice I just unplug everything once I am done using it (including the coffee pot) so it is free for the next use.

This kitchen is about half the size of my former kitchen. So these shelves in the dining room where my solution. I have affectionately dubbed this the appliance garage. 🙂

Our dining room.

And our very large and open living room.  Complete with the window ac.

You didn’t think I was going to leave without a close up of this baby did you? 🙂

Anyhow, I am happy to report that my attitude has changed for the better and I/we are enjoying this new space very much.  Sure there are things that need work and improvements that can be made, but I just keep reminding myself that this house is “temporary”  (in the fact that we are in a transition at the moment) but also God keeps reminding me that everything I see and touch each day is temporary except the  for the people.  What a wonderful and good reminder each day that this is not the end, that our time here on earth is not our real home and some day we will be with Him for eternity.

Every time I get pregnant, I struggle with not being able to be in control.  Most of the time it is in the form of worrying about the child that I am carrying.  Worrying that things are not ok, that something will go wrong, that at the end of this journey of carrying a child, it will end in bad news for us.  Some of that comes from my personality, I’m always prepared for the worst outcome.  But recently I decided that some of it comes from the fact that when it comes to raising/taking care of my other two kids… I’m somehow “in control”.  I make sure they eat right and get plenty of sleep, I slather on the sunscreen when we play outside and make sure they watch minimal TV.  We watch and guard them all the time and are constantly doing “what is good for them”.  And somehow in my head that has turned into “Leah, you are in control of your kids”.  And while that is partly true, it is not completely true.  Yes, God has given them to me to do the best that I can.  But I am in no way in control.  I read the following verse last week and it has stuck with me:

“…God in whose hand is your breath…”- Daniel 5:23B

I read that verse and of course I believe it, however, it does not affect me on a daily basis.  Really, do I believe that for myself and my kids to have our next breath that God needs to grant that?  Wow… when you put it that way… I can do everything “right” in the book of raising healthy/safe kids, but it is God who grants them their next breath.  It is God who is knitting this child together in my womb.  It is up to him, it is his plan and his will to do what he would like with this child’s life.  I find that to be both terrifying and freeing at the same time.  Yes I would be crushed beyond belief if God ever asked of me the things that I hold dear to my heart.  But I am reminded that it is not up to me, it is up to him.  I want this to be my heart with everything in my life, my kids, my husband, our home, cars, finances, ect.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”-Job 1:21

I found myself questioning and doubting this last night.

There are several things right now in my/our life that seem “off”.  I wonder what God is doing and although I trust him, I have my moments of doubt.  Of sadness.  Of feeling hopeless.  That said, I spent time with Jason last night crying and praying for God to move in our lives and asking Him to help me trust His timing.

His answer came today.

He didn’t answer me in the form of granting my requests.  Instead, He showed me how perfect his timing really is.  And that is He good.  And that He is in control.

We went to story time today and had made plans with several other moms and their kids to go to the park right after and have a picnic lunch.  I was standing around talking to a few moms and noticed out of the corner of my eye a little boy maybe 2 years old in a bright yellow shirt wondering far off by the water slides.  The playground was pretty far away and I found myself thinking “I would not be ok if that was my 2 year old… that is pretty far away.”  I watched again as he kept moving further and further away from the play ground and how there was no mom near him.  I said something to Rach like “Should we be concerned at this?” And pointed to him.  We both looked around again and saw no mom.

I then walked to a group of about 4 moms and said “Do you have a kid in a yellow shirt?” They said no.  I went to the next group of people and asked the same thing.  Same answer.  By the time I turned around, that little guy was racing toward the lake.  And I mean he was trucking.  My kids were playing in the sand box (which I had walked away from to ask people if they knew whose little boy it was).  I had a thought like “Hey! Someone watch my kids!” But it never came out of my mouth. As fast as I could I kicked off my flip flops and went racing towards him.  I remember thinking while running: “There is still no one else coming after him… where is his mom?” (And yes, the play ground was very big and very busy… it would not have been hard to lose track of a little one.)  Down toward the lake he went and over a little hill and I couldn’t see him anymore.  I kept running harder and faster thinking for sure that he would have stopped by the side of the water, right?

Then I realized I saw his head bob up and down.

And then again another time.

All I could think was “O God, he is in the water!”  I came up and over the little hill to find him face down in the water about 4 ft from the edge.  He was no longer bobbing up and down. He was just face down in the water with his hands and feet thrashing all over the place.  I felt like I was in a movie.  A bad one.  I knew that I was going to get to him in time, but the split seconds that it took me to get to the edge of the water and deciding how to get him out seemed like an eternity.  I quickly jumped in and landed on a bunch of slimy, wet and jagged rocks.  I had to go out a few feet to get him.  I reached for his leg and pulled him back and up out of the water so he could breathe.  Thankfully a 2 other moms (and his caretaker) were now running down the hill after me.  One mom had brought her phone to call 911 and she knew CPR.  I couldn’t get out of the water though.. the rocks were all  angled and slippery.  I had to wait until the other mom got there and hand him off to her.  Then I climbed out of the water.

I was completely soaked  all the way up to my waist.  Even if the little man had figured out which way was up….. he never would have been able to reach the bottom.  They quickly took off his wet clothes and wrapped a jacket around him.  His caretaker said “I had no idea where he was… I couldn’t find him. Thank you.”  He was crying for his mom and was wet and cold.  But he was very alive and I am very thankful.

In the past 2 hours God has just continued to say to my heart, “My timing is perfect”.  “My timing is perfect”.  I know it is.  I know He is good and He is in control.  I keep thinking about the fact that my life is not my own and it is part of a bigger picture than I can see this side of eternity.    As was this little boy’s life.

I didn’t even get his name.  I wanted to give him a hug.  I feel like I’m going to walk around for the rest of my life and wonder if I will ever see him again.

Little dude, I am so glad you are ok.  I am praying for you, that one day you might know the God of the universe as your Lord and Savior and know that he has plans for your life.

As for me, I hugged my kids a little longer before I put them down for naps.  Belle and Johnny, I love you.