Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hudson's Snow Adventure

Here in Tennessee, we don't get a lot of snow. And, being a summer loving girl, I am ok with that. Last night, there was a little bit of accumulation.

I could hear the neighbor children out playing in the dark - because snow melts pretty quickly around here.

Luckily, the ground was still white when Hudson woke up this morning.

We bundled him up, took him outside, and realized our yard was one giant sheet of ice.

It made for good sledding though.


Hudson got to make snowballs...

And figure out how to walk with four pairs of pants on.

We had to bribe him to come inside.

Hudson definitely loved his adventure in the snow.

And I can almost guarantee that he is going to beg to go back outside as soon as he wakes up from his nap.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Stamping the Image of Christ

I've always loved to read, but once I had children, my "free" hours seem to be getting fewer and fewer. I tend to be a lot more selective with my reading choices. I always have a stack of "waiting to be read" material. Last week, I picked up a book that I have had on the waiting list for several years. I'd fallen in love with this author in high school (she has the best book ever on establishing Biblical guidelines for dating and waiting on God's best - Lady in Waiting). I love that her writing style includes so much Scripture. I was excited to dig into "The Mentoring Mom: 11 Ways to Model Christ for Your Child." Before kids, I might have breezed through this book in a day or two, but now, I tend to "chew" on a chapter for a little while.

I've been contemplating that first chapter for about a week now. The privilege I am given as a mom to stamp the impression of Christ on our kids is overwhelming. I love teaching Hudson Bible verses and singing Christian songs with both kids. We read Bible stories, watch Biblical cartoons and try to reinforce the lessons they learn at church.

I know the impact my parents had on my spiritual growth, and I am excited and scared to death that I have that responsibility with my own children. I think that's why I've been putting off reading this book...If I didn't read it, I wasn't responsible for implementing these truths. The task felt overwhelming. But after the first chapter, I am excited...I want to model Christ to my kids and help them see the importance of devoting their lives to the Lord.

One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God
than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit.
Oswald Chambers

I think I felt that I hadn't been mentored enough. I felt that I needed to gain more Biblical knowledge and be under someone else's instructions longer before I would be able to adequately train my children. But then I read this sentence...

The good news is, being a mentoring mom is a learned science, 
and as long as you are teachable, you will be able to stamp good images
 on your children's lives.

Mentoring doesn't need to be a formal "sit down and let's talk" weekly appointment. It's simply "making disciples" like Jesus talked about in Matthew 28:19. It means to "stamp and image" on another individual...and I can start stamping the image of Christ on my kids everyday. Hudson asks to pray at meals and before going to sleep. He lists people he wants to pray for, and we are often surprised at his tender, observant heart. The simple activity of praying consistently with him has taught him that prayer is important and necessary.

I began reflecting on those who have stamped the image of Christ on me. Throughout my life, I have been greatly influenced by several key individuals...

I thought of my mom's gentle spirit and dedication to the Word of God. Her desire to encourage others and make her home welcoming to others has helped form who I am today. I remember a modesty talk that my youth pastor's wife gave at a retreat. A professor in college took me under her wing and taught me so much. I find myself asking, "What would Mrs. Martin do?" often. My roommate in college had such a consistent quiet time. Her devotion and dedication stuck with me. Another friend, though older, is memorizing entire books of the Bible. She's taught me that there is always something for me to learn. The Lord prompted me to send a certain Scripture verse to a friend via email after she'd had a miscarriage. That friend told me, "Always follow through when the Lord prompts you to share a verse with someone...It was exactly what I needed." The list could go on and on...

In this "Stay-at-Home-Mom" phase of life,  I often find myself falling into a trap, though. I tend to think that my days of being mentored are over or on pause. But the first chapter in this book addressed that too! Some mentors are even found in the pages of a book. And so, being a list maker, I started writing down influential books in my life. 

I've been mentored by Elisabeth Elliot in Passion and Purity. Rachel Scott's testimony in this book encouraged me to keep journaling. Henry Blackaby in Experiencing God. Nancy Leigh Demoss in A Place of Quiet Rest. Carol Kent in Becoming a Woman of Influence. A.W. Tozer in "The Pursuit of God." Francis Chan in "Crazy Love" and Beth Moore in "Jesus the One and Only" and "Stepping Up." The list could go on and on...and I will continue to add to it because I want to remain teachable. I am so thankful that I can be encouraged and influenced by another Christian's written word. These authors will never know it, but they are mentoring me. 

And so, at the end of those days where I picked up toys and changed diapers and wiped noses, I will keep having my time in the Word and my time with a Christian author. Because in order to stamp the image of Christ on my children, I need to make sure I am continually surrounding myself with material that stamps the image of Christ on me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Read with Me

I love having lots of different Bible story books for my kids to read. The Sweetest Story Bible for Toddlers is an excellent addition to our collection. It's pink cover with sparkles and girly illustrations are bound to make my little girl love this book. I appreciate the fact that it is a board booking, making it perfect for little hands. It's great to not have to worry about pages being ripped.

The illustrations are beautiful. There aren't too many words per page. And I love that the Scripture reference is included for each of the eight stories.

I received this book from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. 

 Supermarket Healthy by Melissa D'Arabian is a great resource for those wanting to eat healthy on a small budget. I enjoyed the colorful pictures and glossy pages included in this paperback book written by the Next Food Network Star winner. 

Some of the recipes looked easy, but it didn't seem to be meals that my kids would enjoy. The foods would be better suited for an adult pallet. I did, however, appreciate that these recipes were quick and easy. 

Pictures weren't included for every recipe, but the recipes were presented in an organized, easy to follow way. Calories and fat content were also shown for each recipe. 

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. 

Reading Little Pilgrim's Progress has brought back many memories for me. I remember reading a simplified version of this classic tale in the third grade. I loved the characters and locations and adventures this time as much as I did before. Although different, this rebelling of John Bunyon's Classic was just as encouraging and relatable. I enjoy identifying with and applying the struggles and triumphs experienced in this tale. I look forward to reading this paperback to my son when he is a little older, helping him to understand the allegory and comparisons to our spiritual journeys. It is a classic, for sure. This author has re-written this tale, making it easier to understand.

I received this book from Moody Press in exchange for an honest review.

What a blessing to have writings of Nancy Leigh Demoss compiled into a year's worth of devotionals called The Quiet Place. Bound in a blue faux leather book, I am thrilled to have 365 readings to implement into my daily quiet time. It's a little thin book which would be easy to slip into a purse or book bag. Each entry is one page in length, beginning with a Scripture passage and ending with a call to action/application.  Over and over again in my Christian walk, the Lord has used Nancy's writings to challenge and encourage me. Like her other books, these truths are based on the Word of God and meant to push you into a deeper relationship with the Lord. This is a devo I will treasure. 

I received this book from Moody Press in exchange for an honest review.

How refreshing to have a book written to help "reclaim the lost art of romance. The Old Fashioned Way is a book written by Ginger Kolbaba based on the screenplay by Rik Swartzwelder. The movie "Old Fashioned" is now in theaters, and this book helps outline some of the dating principles illustrated in the film.  I think it is a refreshing idea to guide people back to opening doors, holding out chairs, and taking things slow in relationships. By comparing romantic love to the love God intended us to have, readers are encouraged to enjoy doing things the "old fashioned way." Regardless of your past, this book helps you realize that God wants you to find a love that will last for a lifetime. Even though I am already married, it was great to be reminded of the way God intended for our love relationships to be.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review. 

Snuggle Time Devotions that End in a Hug is a great addition to our Bible Story books. I usually read to my son each night before bed. I let him pick and a book and then we end with a Bible story. The stories included in this glossy paged hardcover are short enough to keep his attention span. There are activities present to help the parent further enforce the truths learned. I really appreciate that there is an application point, and my son likes that there is always a suggestion to hug your little one. The pictures are adorably illustrated and the format is a little different than most Bible story books, making this a book we will re-read over and over.

I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review. 

Sabotaged is the fifth book in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series. I am thoroughly enjoying this authors suspenseful style. So many fiction books these days are predictable and boring. These books, however, are filled with plot twists that keep the reader guessing. Like the other books in this series, I did not want to put the story down. I love a good suspense/romance fiction. I also appreciate that I never have to worry about language or inappropriate behaviors in books from Bethany House. It's great to be able to trust a Christian publisher.

I received this book from Bethany in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Somebody's watching...So, Make Each Moment Count!

I'd love to tell you that I always spend my days at home with the kids doing well-planned, educational activities. I'd love to tell you that we always eat balanced meals, my kids never watch tv and that my house is super clean. I'd love to tell you that the toys are always organized and in their place. But that's not how it is.

Especially during the winter months, we have watched a lot of Buzz Lightyear and Daniel Tiger. We've eaten the same quick meal over and over again. And my living room often looks like a daycare - toys covering the floor.

But last night, I decided that I wanted to try to be intentional with the moments I spent with the kids. Hudson woke up early...he must have sensed my plan and wanted to get a head start. So, when he requested eggs for breakfast, I was happy to cook them.

As we sat eating our eggs and toast, I realized something. I tend to put my scrambled eggs on top of a piece of toast and eat them together. Little did I know, Hudson was watching my every move. Before I knew it, he too was trying to balance his eggs on top of his toast. As I helped him eat his breakfast like I was eating mine, 4,000 thoughts ran through my mind.

What other behaviors or habits is he picking up while watching me? Will he copy my bad attitudes and lazy moments? What things could he be learning if I would just take the time to teach him?

Sunday morning, as I packed Hudson's nursery book-bag, I came across his verse card for the month of January. I just said it with him a few times, and before breakfast was finished, he had memorized the verse. When we came home for lunch, I tried the verse again...and he still remembered it. I had been selling him short! He is capable of much more than I thought...and that means I need to take a little more time to teach him.


I realized that being "intentional" about my time with him meant more than just planning a few activities...It meant making each moment count.  It meant that I was making decisions, all day long, that I wouldn't mind my kids copying. What a responsibility! I think this little realization made me a better least for today. I really tried to make each moment count. And by the end of the day, I was worn out!

As we played with Play-doh, I tried to teach him to roll balls and snakes.

I tried to remind him that we put things back where they belong when we finish playing with them. And we sang a few songs and built a few snowmen in the process.

We practiced naming shapes as we used our cookie cutters too.

He was so proud to tell his dad that he had made a snake today!

Since we had emptied an egg carton this morning at breakfast, I decided to use it for lunch. After rinsing it out, I filled the little sections with finger foods.

It was fun to watch him decide what to eat first. Naturally, the Captain Crunch was gone before anything else.

He counted each spot. And when we prayed and thanked God for our food, he called out the names of each item.

I have to give my sister credit for this idea. I had seen her fill little plastic eggs with foods for Pippa.

She used this tactic to introduce her daughter to some different foods. Eating new foods outside and out of plastic eggs helped Pippa to try everything!

Hudson ate almost everything (there were a few tortellini pieces and a couple raisins left). We will definitely try this again! I might even pick up a colorful ice cube tray to use.

As I took Nora's four month pictures this afternoon, I prayed that the Lord would help me as I invest in my daughter, as well.

She is growing faster than I want her to! At her check-up yesterday, she weighed 15 pounds 11 ounces and was 26.5 inches long! She is off the charts for her height, measuring the length of an average 8 month old!

We love to watch her learn new things. She loves to have her ankles crossed, like a little lady, and she is rolling from her belly to her back now.

She loves her big brother, watching his every move.

As he told me every letter on her shirt, she never took her eyes off of him. He can make her squeal in laughter, and he thinks that is the coolest thing. This also made me think that the cycle continues...what Hudson learns from me, he will pass on to others. Someone is always watching!

Once the baby was done with her pictures, Hudson laid down in the basket and said "Baby...waaaaah (fake crying)....need hairbow!" He was pointing at his head and adamant that he have a hairbow. He wanted to look just like the baby. He told me to take his picture too while he was pretending to be the baby. "yeah...I baby...waaaaah"

I am so glad that the Lord picked me to be these two awesome kid's mom.

I may have to remind myself quite often of the need to be intentional. Trying to make each moment count sure wore me out today...but it also felt like one of the most rewarding days I've had in a long time. I'm ready to try it all again tomorrow.