Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Intentional Joy

One of our kids has a very cute way of answering in the affirmative when asked a question. "Do you want to get something to eat. Almost every time, if answering yes, she'll say, "Uh. . .yeah. Okay, well you have to be there, cause it IS cute ;)

My husband and I were wondering aloud where in the world she had picked up the habit of saying it that way. Today, we got the answer. He asked me if I knew where a certain coupon was, and I answered, "Uh. . .yeah. We had a laugh over that, but later on in the day, I was wondering about other possible habits that the kids may have learned from my example, both good and bad.

Sometimes, when I listen to them, I smile to myself, and yes, even pat myself on the back, when I hear my words coming out of their mouth as they speak sweetly to another child, or offer an encouraging word to each other. Then there are the times that I cringe when I hear, yes, my words, in a sharp tone, a critical attitude, or a downright ugly response. They learn by example, and I'm sobered as I realize that my time with them is fleeting. In a few more years' time, they'll be preparing to make a life on their own, and what lessons from me will they take with them?

I have noticed that my joy has been largely missing these days. I suppose it might be attributed to what the Bible calls the cares of this life. At any rate, I seem to have lost my smile, my laughter, my fun. It hasn't been lost on me, what effect that has on my children. I don't want them to look back on these years and see a cranky, exhausted mom who was a stick in the mud.

So what to do? I guess that this relate to my last post about my chosen word for the year 2014. I will be Intentional in finding joy. The truth is, I have much to be joyful about in my life. Let me clarify, joyful, not mere happiness. Happiness often relies on circumstance, whereas joy is in the spirit, full of hope regardless of the external. And I know that there are many things for me to be joyful for.

Look out 2014, there's a new attitude coming your way!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Word of the Year

You may have seen this topic floating around over the past few weeks, The Word of the Year. It may mean different things to different people, but I think it's a way to kind of focus on specific areas of your life. I had a word for 2013, and now that 2014 is upon us, I'm ready for my new one.

So, this year, my word will be Intentional. It applies to many areas of my life, and captures what I hope to accomplish, or at least strive to, in these next 12 months.
These are the areas that have come to my mind in applying the word, although there may be more as the year moves on. . .

Intentional in:

My prayer life. This is my biggest one. I want to be diligent in seeking God in prayer this year.

My  Bible study. Next biggest one. I can't grow closer to God if I'm not consistently in His Word.

My eating habits. This is a toughie. I strongly desire to kick my sugar habit!

Exercise. I know I feel better when I'm in a routine, it's getting started that's so difficult for me.

Cultivating and maintaining the friendships in my life.

Being joyful! This is so hard for my curmudgeon kind of personality. I'm a half empty gal, and I want to reverse that. I know I have much to be joyful over!

Taking every thought captive. Garbage in, garbage out. Focus on the positive.

As I said, I may add more, although there is plenty for me to work through right here! Do you have a word for the year?

Friday, December 27, 2013

So, we made it through Christmas, and the new year arrives in less than a week. I'm thinking about the same thing that I do pretty much every year at this time- sugar detox. I fell for the lure of the many holiday goodies that tempted me from the covers of magazines, the shelves of the stores, and bakeries. Sugar, everywhere.

What reminds me that now is the time that I should grab a salad instead, is the annual push that can be found in those same magazines and stores. Replacing the sweets are energy bars, large containers of whey protein, and exercise equipment that feature photos of young, lean, athletic people and their rock hard abs.

You can say what you like, but there is not a doubt in my mind that sugar is a drug, and I am an addict. Who can blame me? It goes down so easily. It seems like a harmless vice. But I know it's not true, and I'm feeling the effects of it on my body, and not only as it relates to my jeans size. You would think that the answer is to simply put the candy bar down. But it goes deeper than willpower. It's an emotional thing. And when I' happy, sad, mad, or glad, I want the sugar.

Well. it has to stop. It will catch up with me, and I want to be in the best health that I can for my family, as well as myself.
I'm determined, but at the same time, I'm kind of dragging myself, kicking and screaming.

So with much prayer, I'm taking the first step. Pulling out my  beat the sugar addiction types of books and such. I figure that if I start now, I have a jump on things before the official New Year begins. And by then, I'll already be nearly a week ahead. So here I go, let's do this!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Foster Minute

When you decide to become a foster parent, you bring a child into your home, and do your best to provide them with a stable family. You want them to feel the love and belonging that a healthy family can provide.

There are constant reminders that this child does not belong to you. The many hoops that need to be jumped through, the constant need to get permission for anything from a medical procedure, field trip, and even a haircut, are all reminders of this fact.
Still, we are the ones who are in the trenches. We are the ones cooling a forehead hot with fever. We are the ones drying tears. We are the ones dealing with teething, potty training, tummy bugs, and tantrums.

On the flip side, we also bear witness to the many good things. The milestones, first steps, first teeth, first words. There are sloppy toddler kisses. We become the only one who will do when they need to be soothed. We are the ones who know that child. What their favorite fruit is. What makes them giggle with sweet abandon. What frightens them. What comforts them.

I don't say any of this to be judgmental on birth parents, or the system for that matter. I don't say this to imply that I have a claim on any child that is placed with us.

I say these things as a reminder that this, this foster experience, it's a privilege. It's a gift to be the one to experience life with these children. To be that safe place for them to grow, and to just be a kid.
There is enough that is hard about all of this, and it's good to step back once in a while and remember what we're doing this for.
These kids are with us for a lot of reasons. I frequently think about the fact that the birth parents miss so many ordinary moments, and it makes me sad.
Because of that, I don't want to forget how important the daily, seemingly mundane parts of life are actually important. And it makes me want to do this foster parenting, and biological parenting better each day.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Reindeer Footprint/ Handprint Craft

Here's a really cute last minute Christmas craft for your little one to make.
What you need:

White cardstock
Brown paint
Yellow construction paper
Red construction paper
Blue construction paper
Glue or glue stick
Red and gold glitter glue

To make:

Paint the bottom of your child's foot. Press on white cardstock to make print. This is your reindeer's head. Set aside to dry. Trace your child's hand, and then cut out. These are the reindeer's antlers. Glue on top of footprint. Use construction paper and/or markers to make eyes and nose. Take glitter glue and use on nose and antlers. Cute!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fa la la la la. . .

You know, I wish I had really taken some time to think about the timing of our kitchen renovation. I suppose there probably is never an ideal time to rip apart your house, but doing it so close to Christmas was not exactly brilliant.

It will be worth it in the end, and for the most part, I've tried to keep a positive attitude in spite of the fact that my dining room is filled with everything that was once kept in the kitchen.

But now I'll be real for just a moment. I'm tired of the house being in such a state of disorder. There's a layer of dust on everything. I'm tired of paper plates. I really want water in the kitchen again. And a counter. Sigh.

Enough whining. It's an enviable problem that many would be happy to have, and I am, to be honest. Soon, I won't need to do the dishes in the bathroom, and all will be well in the kitchen once again.

Here's a pic or two of the progress:


Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Foster Minute

I'm sure that I've mentioned that when it comes to my experience as a foster parent, I'm reminded of the quote from the movie A League Of Their Own, that says "It's supposed to be hard, it's the hard that makes it good".
I guess that I kind of use that phrase as a mental pep talk to myself when I'm struggling with a difficult day. We all need an encouraging word to stay the course.

Last night was our agency's annual holiday party for foster families. Honestly, I was kind of looking for a reason not go. Not because the gathering isn't any good. On the contrary, it's a wonderful event. A great catered dinner, crafts, games, and gifts for the kids, cookie decorating, fun fun fun! The girls look forward to it all year. I do too actually.
But this year, my husband was at a business meeting and would have to miss it, leaving me to get all of the kids, including a cranky toddler, to the festivities in arctic temps. I was tired. But, we did go, and I'm glad that we did.

Over and over, on this foster care adventure, I get the best boost and sense of renewed purpose when I have the opportunity to get with other foster parents. I always feel a sense of kinship with others that feel called to this purpose. It may sound corny, but its true.

So last night, I was introduced to a couple who were brand new foster parents, licensed just a few weeks ago, and awaiting their first placement. It took me back a few years when that was me and my husband. Newbies to the core, looking for advice and fellowship. Now here I was, with a little more experience - very little, I think- but still experience, offering my own advice. It was good to restate aloud the reasons we choose to do this. There's a verse in Scripture that says that he who refreshes others will be refreshed. It's true. I'm glad we went if for that purpose alone.

I would encourage others thinking of pursuing foster care to make sure that they are intentional in connecting with other foster parents. You need the support that sometimes comes best from those walking the same road that you do. Even though we have the support of family and friends, there are aspects of this life that they don't understand. And there are always other foster families that have been where you are, and can empathize. Likewise, you will be that help to a family in the earlier stages of foster care. We need each other, so don't go it alone.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Great Big Kitchen Remodel - 2013 - Making Progress

We are almost one week into our kitchen remodel, and I think we're on the upswing. Old cabinets are gone, most of the new ones are up, and just a little more to get that part of the project completed. Our new appliances have been delivered, with the refrigerator proving to be the most hair raising to get in through the door, and up the stairs to its destination. It's gonna be nice!

So here are some more pics. . .

Had to take off the railing to get the fridge upstairs. . .

Our new cabinets, awaiting set up.

New cabinets going up ! It's going to be so nice, loving it already :)
To Be Continued. . .

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Great Big Kitchen Remodel of 2013

It's been a long time coming, but we're finally ripping out our old, dated kitchen, hurray! So that means a lot of dust and clutter for a few weeks around here, but it's going to be worth it. I suppose that there isn't a lot to say about a kitchen remodel, so I'll just post some pictures of our work in progress.

The cabinets are going. . .going. . .


You find out how much is stored in cabinets once you have to empty them. Our dining room table is making us look like we need to be featured on an episode of Hoarders ;)

More pics to come soon. . .

Monday, December 2, 2013

Welcome December!

Hello December! The year is quickly coming to a close, and I feel myself already behind as it relates to the holidays. Maybe it's because Thanksgiving came so late this year. Whatever the case, I'm eager to get in gear and start the holiday preparations.

As far as everything else goes, the month is looking busy. There's a few more weeks of school before we break until after the new year. And because we're crazy, we decided that this would be the perfect time to replace our old kitchen. I'll be posting pics and the progress as we go. The finished product will be great!
I have several books that I would like to get started for read alouds for the girls, so I suppose we better finish the current two that we're in the middle of.

I also feel that it's a good time for me to take Nancy Leigh DeMoss' 30 Day Challenge to encourage my husband, which includes refraining from saying anything negative to him for that time. I think it will be a very good thing, but yes, a challenge. I'll update on that as well.

And of course, to round out the month that features Christmas, there are holiday parties, dance recitals, baking, family visits, special craft projects, and shopping! It's enough to overwhelm me, but I'll take it one step at a time.
Most of all, I'm hoping to make this season count, not rush through it in a frenzied, and stressed out manner. I want to create some good memories, enjoy my family, and enjoy the Christmas season in general.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a lot to get to, so that's just what I'm off to do!