Why Choose Motherhood?

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As a young woman, I never personally questioned whether or not I wanted children. I looked forward to marriage and motherhood with an excited longing, even in my teen years. Thankfully, this desire was balanced with a pretty high standard for what I was looking for in a husband, so I didn’t rush into mothering just for the sake of it, but I digress…

Lately I’ve had a few interactions that have caused me to spend some time thinking about the choice of motherhood. In this culture we live in, children are often seen as a hindrance, as an expense, even as a lesser-quality life (one complete with diapers, spit-up, messes, quarreling, and so much work).

While I would expect this in a world apart from God, what pains me so much to see this attitude in the church! I know so many Christian couples who don’t want kids because of the lifestyle changes that children bring, or the expense associated with them. I know of parents encouraging their children not to have very many children because of similar reasons.

My friends, this post may be a bit more blunt, but I really believe this message is important. I hope it encourages you to stand strong in your commitment to parenting, or softens your heart to it if you’re not sure where you stand.

Reasons Why to Chose Motherhood:

1. Refusing to have children is not biblical. People can argue this, but the fact is that God calls married couples to have children. He commands us to multiply (meaning increasing in number through the generations), He calls children a blessing over and over throughout Scripture, and has created the family structure for a specific purpose.

2. Because God has designed parenting as the natural outcome of marriage, it is a major source of development and growth that you were designed to have. I may catch some flack on this, but I firmly believe that nothing in the world can develop your character the way that parenting does, and if you chose to live your married life without children, you will never know the fullness of maturity and development that God intended for you to have. (Although if you have been unable to have children, you have grown through a unique trial as well.)

3. As a Believer, I also believe that life begins at conception. I may catch flack for this too, but this is so important and many people tiptoe around this issue: Practically speaking, this means that most non-barrier forms of birth control (including the pill and iud’s) are off-limits. Why? Because they all function, either primarily or secondarily, as abortifacients. They make the uterine environment such that an embyro cannot implant and continue to grow, causing it to abort without the parents’ knowledge. Heaven is full of tiny souls whose parents don’t even know they exist! If you are trying to control your family’s growth, please, please be fully knowledge about your method of prevention!

4. By avoiding children, couples are allowing fear and/or selfishness to rule their lives instead of God’s truth. Fear can take many forms – it can be fear of change, fear of not having enough (money, time, etc.), fear of society’s judgments, fear of personal inadequacies. And I understand this! Honestly, I do. We have worked through every one of these fears. But the truth is that God promises to provide. He loves us so much more than the sparrow! If He creates a life, He will provide for that life. Does it mean sacrifice? Yes, it usually does. But like I said earlier,parenthood will grow you and develop you more than you can imagine. It is well worth it!

To close, I want to say that I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of never limiting your family size, and I understand that we all have our limits! (If you haven’t read about our journey with family size, just go back a few posts!) I’m not suggesting that you should feel guilty about not having any certain number of children.

But I believe that we need to foster a culture of life – one in which children are always considered a blessing and couples are encouraged to have families without fear!

Thoughts?

Back-To-School With Essential Oils

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This week is our first week of school, and I’ve been thinking about the best oils to use for the school year. In the above graphic, I’ve picked the most helpful oils, and in this post I will talk about how to use them.

Citrus Fresh & Lemon

Wake Up Happy

These oils can be diffused as your children get ready for their day. Or, if you don’t have a diffuser, you can use a stainless steel spray bottle with water, a touch of alcohol (to emmulsify), and several drops of oil, and spray it in their room as they’re waking up. You can also add Peppermint oil to the mix for those extra groggy morning!

Valor & Clarity

Focus & Learn

These are great oils to apply to your children as they get ready to head out the door (or begin their schoolwork if you homeschool). They can be applied in many places; I put them on the back of the neck (base of scull) or behind the ears.

Valor is awesome for helping your children feel confident and relieving anxiety. It’s been used to help kids with ADD/ADHD challenges as well. (I also love using this on myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed – it helps instantly!)

Clarity helps with focus and clear thinking. It can be a great help in many ways – you just might find yourself snagging some too!

Motivation

Extra Homework Help

A little of this oil goes a long way! Recommended mostly for older students and parents because of its potency, Motivation gives you just what it claims! Have a lot to get done? This one will give you the boost you need!

Vetiver

ADD/ADHD Challenges

Do you have a child who struggles with attention and you want a solution that doesn’t require drugs? Vetiver oil has been proven to help with ADD/ADHD. Place a drop at the base of the big toes.

Thieves

Stay Protected Against Germs

Thieves is one of those oils I never want to be without! I’ll save the story of this oil for another day, but let me tell you this. Thieves had been university tested to show that when properly diffused, Young Living Thieves oil kills 99.96% of airborne germs. It is powerful applied topically too. If you homeschool, you can diffuse this, especially during cold season. If your kids are leaving home for school, you can apply some to the base of their feet for immune support. And don’t forget to send a bottle of Thieves Hand Sanitizer in each of their backpacks!

Melaluca Alternifolia

Keep Lice Away

Head lice is a nasty issue you’d rather not have to deal with! While lice are becoming resistant to chemical shampoos, they cannot become resistant to essential oils. To help prevent these little buggers from taking up residence on your child’s head, mix a few drops of Melaluca Alternifolia (commonly known as tea tree oil) into your child’s shampoo once a week.

Lavender & Peace and Calming

Relax and Sleep Well

Do your children have a hard time winding down after a full and stimulating day? These oils are known for their ability to relax the body and mind and help induce sound sleep. Apply on the back of the neck or the big toe. Great for us adults too!

So there you have it – my top oil picks for back-to-school! Many of these oils are in the Everyday Oils kit from Young Living, which I highly recommend if you’re just getting started with essential oils. Others are sold individually. If you have any questions or want to order, send me a message!

– Judy

The Curriculum Round-Up!

As we’re gearing up to begin our next school year, I thought I’d share our plans for the year.

This year I will have 3 “students” – my 7 year old daughter Eliza and my boys Judah and Caleb who are just shy of 6 & 4. I try to avoid grades, because quite frankly I just don’t think they really apply to the world of homeschooling very well. But for context, my 7-year-old is fairly advanced, doing mostly 3rd/4th grade work, my 6-year-old is reading and doing 1st grade math, and my 4-year-old will be doing pre-k/kindergarten work this year.

For those of you who don’t know me, I also have a 2-year-old and a newborn, which is quite a juggling act!

I thought and thought about how to best approach this school year. Last year, we took a very simple approach, focusing mostly on Bible, reading, writing, and math and only throwing in other subjects when we had time. But I know that my kids (especially my oldest) will need more than that this year. So I needed to figure out how to maintain a fairly simple, low-stress approach while adding in 2 full subjects: history and science.

So this is what I’ve decided to do. I am hopeful (and fairly sure) that it will work out pretty well for us. 🙂

First of all, we will be dividing our day into 2 parts: “couch time” and “table time”. Each will likely last around an hour.

“Couch Time” will be right after breakfast and morning chores. The oldest 2 will be required to participate, but I think the other 2 will probably want to join us most days. And the baby will probably be napping. 🙂  The format will be me reading aloud on the couch.

During “couch time,” we will do these subjects:

Bible – We are using The Child’s Story Bible, by Catherine Vos. I am really excited to go through this Bible together! It’s the perfect option for kids who are too old for a picture Bible and too young for a standard Bible. It’s divided into readings that should take less than 10 minutes per day.

History (only on M/W/F) – We will be using The Mystery of History, Vol. 1 this year, studying creation to the resurrection. We will be focusing on the read-aloud parts, and doing the timeline, but no quizzes.

Science (only on T/Th) – We will be using Exploring Creation With Astronomy (1st semester) and Exploring Creation With Botany(2nd semester). These books are a bit advanced for my kids, but I think they’ll enjoy them. We’re going to pick & choose what we do from them (and the activity notebooks) and go through each book in a semester instead of a year.

After “couch time,” we’ll break for playtime and lunch. Then I’ll put the youngest 2 down for naps, and we’ll do “table time.”

“Table Time” will be the time we spend on more workbook-type study. I also have a few pre-K/K books for my 4-year-old to do with us during this time, since he won’t have his sister to play with. 🙂

During “table time,” we’ll do these subjects:

Math – We use Singapore Primary Mathematics, which I love! We started using it when Eliza was in kindergarten and hating the math workbook we were using. I like the way the books work through the various math topics and builds on them each year. And the lessons aren’t overwhelming or redundant, so my kids enjoy them too! We go through the books at the kids’ pace, ignoring grade levels. Eliza is about a third of the way through the 4th grade level, Judah is about 2/3 through 1st grade, and Caleb will be starting the kindergarten book.

Language Arts – Language arts encompasses several subjects, and each child will likely do 1 or 2 per day, not all of them. I have 2 readers now, so I’ll have a year off of teaching how to read, unless Caleb decides to jump on it! I’m using Spectrum Language Arts for Eliza and Judah. For creative writing we’re using Just Write, book 1 for Eliza, and may be using their primer level book (Write About Me) for Judah later in the year. I like the way they give lots of guidance and ideas for writing. For spelling, Eliza will be keeping a basic notebook of words she doesn’t spell write, and review it regularly. And we’re going to use another book that I’m excited about, called Vocabulary Vine. It works through the most common Latin and Greek roots in a very clear way. For Judah, we’re doing Spectrum Writing in addition to LA, and he’s excited about a break from Handwriting Without Tears. 🙂 Also, for Caleb, we are using HWT Get Set For School and Spectrum Phonics K to teach him his letter sounds and get him ready to learn to read. If he takes it farther than that, that’s great, but no pressure!

Independent Reading – Each day I’ll expect my 2 oldest to spend some time reading to themselves or me. We frequent the library and I hope to fill this time with books that coincide with our history and science topics for the week, as well as great classics and other interesting books we find.

And that’s it! Four subjects per day, two after breakfast and two after lunch. Probably be around 2 hours of school per day, maybe a bit more with individual reading time.

I feel really good about our ability to take on this routine and the amount of playtime it still gives my kids. I’m a big believer in not “over-schooling” and I feel that this honors that conviction of mine while still giving my children the education the need in a way they’ll enjoy!

And last, but not least… my new planner!  I’m super excited about this beautiful book and it’s ability to help me track our children’s schooling this year!

This is The Ultimate Homeschool Planner, by Debra Bell.  Isn’t it pretty?!?  I like how flexible it is, and how it incorporates home management into the school planner.  Can’t wait to start using it!

What are you most excited about for this school year?

– Judy

My New Love – Essential Oils!

If you know me personally, you’ve probably already heard about it. I have recently been introduced to Young Living Essential Oils, and I am in love! I know that’s almost obnoxiously dramatic, but for good reason.

Our family tries to live as naturally as possible. We avoid prescription medicines and even OTC stuff as much as possible. And in our quest for health, we have used many different herbal remedies and even homeopathics. But nothing we’ve used compares to the concentrated power that these therapudic-grade essential oils have!

In the past couple months since I’ve started using them, they’ve become a part of our daily life. We use them to maintain our health as well as help with other challenges in our bodies.

In the weeks to come, I will be sharing about how we use certain oils specifically, but for now I want to share with you this graphic on some of the most common uses for the Everyday Oils Kit. (The Everyday Kit is how most people begin their essential oils journey and is an amazing bargain!)

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Priorities, Goals, and Passions

Earlier this week, I wrote a list of confessions I called, “10 Confessions of a Super Mom.”  I wrote it in response to a few comments I’ve received lately, as well as all the comments I get in passing from random strangers (“I could never do that!”).  Because the truth is, no one is Super Mom, and at the same time, we all are.  We are all doing the best we can with the support, knowledge, and well-being we have at that time.  But that post got me thinking.  How do we measure our success?  Do we measure ourselves by someone else’s measure?  Is it an arbitrary measure based on our feelings that day?  I think we can all agree that there are days that we really struggle with our own measure of success and feelings of failure.

So I wanted to write down a few thoughts I’ve had recently about measuring success.  Here’s the thing – my measure of success is not the same as yours!  Isn’t that a freeing thought?  Your success is going to look totally different than mine.  We will likely have some things in common, but certainly not everything.  And that is OKAY.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be!  God made us individuals – not made from a cookie-cutter mold!

I would like to propose that there we should measure our success by 3 things: our priorities, our goals, and our passions.

Our Priorities

We all have priorities.  Some of them may be well-thought-through, maybe some of them not so much.  I would strongly suggest that you take some time (with your spouse if you’re married) to figure out your true priorities and write them down.  You will have family priorities and individual priorities.

Here are mine:

1. Cultivating a heart that seeks God and finding my rest in Him.

2. Honoring my husband and passionate loving him.

3. Being an example of godliness for my children, demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.

4. Cultivating deep, intimate friendships with my children.

5. Creating a home of peace where hospitality is practiced regularly and freely.

 

Our Goals

Taking our priorities to a more practical level is done by making goals.  We should have a variety of goals that cover our priorities – short-term and long-term.  Again, this is a great thing to take some time to pray about (with your spouse if possible) and write down.   It’s also very important to re-evaluate these regularly and make adjustments as much as you feel you need to.  And also?  It’s totally okay to let go of your goals if you decide that they no longer fit in your priorities!  There is so much freedom in letting go of a goal, especially because we can often hold guilt over these.

Our Passions

This is another important area of life that I feel sometimes gets overlooked!  We focus so much on the “big stuff” – like our relationship with God and our family.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, those things are most important.  But many of our passions have been given to us by God and they are a big part of what makes each of us unique!  If you don’t realize that and understand that there is much life to be had in enjoying what you’re passionate about, you’re going to end up living a very unfulfilled life.

Now, maybe this should go without saying, but I’m talking about healthy passions here, not harmful or sinful ones.  They should be things that complement your priorities, not pull away from them.  Things like knitting, cooking gourmet, running, crafting, writing, gardening, etc. are what I’m thinking of.  These are ways that we renew ourselves, refresh our souls, find beauty in the everyday.  And as such they are important also.

 

When I am pondering how I’ve been doing recently as a mother, wife, and individual, this is where I go.  I go to my priorities, goals, and passions.  Am I living my priorities?  Am I working toward my goals?  Am I enjoying my passions?  When I can see myself doing these things, I know that no matter what my emotions that day tell me, I am successful.

On the flip side, when I’m not feeling good about my life and I can’t seem to pin down why, this is also a great place to start!  By looking at these 3 areas, I can usually figure out what is being neglected and can either adjust it accordingly (let it go and release the guilt!) or make a game plan for making it better.

In addition, this is a great filter for deciding whether something belongs in your life.  Whether you’re thinking about spending money, time, or resources on something, you can compare it to your priorities, goals, and passions to decide if it’s worth the expense.  As you make a habit of doing this, you will find that your life is where you want it to be, because even when things don’t go the way you’d like, you know what’s important to you and you are making those things your focus.

 

Blessings,

– Judy

10 Confessions of a “Super Mom”!

Hahaha… I’m chuckling as I write this.  I’ve recently had a few people comment on how amazing it is that I can parent 5 kids and homeschool them, or have home births, or something like that.  So I wanted to take a lighter look at my life as a busy mom.  I give you 10 Confessions of a “Super Mom”…

 

10. I do NOT dust my house.  Like ever.  If I pull a book off a shelf and happen to notice it’s dusty, I *might* just wipe it off, but the rest of the shelves?  Not a chance.

9. I am a perfectionist.  Ugh.  Do you know how hard it is to be a perfectionist when you have 5 kids ages 7 and under?  I have really had to work hard at not getting stressed out over things not being “perfect.”

8. I have horrible handwriting.  Seriously, it’s just awful.  If I concentrate I can make it nicer, but…  It is so unfeminine and I’m totally embarrassed by it.

7. We are late for everything.  It’s almost funny, except not…  😉

6. I don’t exercise.  I really don’t.  Every time I have tried to get into working out, it lasts a couple weeks at best.  I just don’t enjoy it and have a horrible time motivating myself.

5. I yell at my kids.  This is one of those more serious confessions.  I really don’t “believe” that there’s any benefit to yelling, but anger has always been a challenge for me and sometimes it comes out.  It just does.  Ugh.

4. I struggle with cooking dinner, hate lunch, and have delegated our breakfast oatmeal to Eliza.  My former love for cooking has died a slow, painful death.  Or it’s at least in a coma…

3. I can’t remember the last time I deep-cleaned our house.  I keep it surface-cleaned to a moderate level because I enjoy having people over and a messy house stresses me out, but deep-cleaning?  I guess it happens at Passover…

2. I have a major tendency to put way too much on my plate.  Then I end up doing a halfway job at stuff.  I’m currently working on weeding my life a bit – pulling out things that shouldn’t be on my plate at all.  (More about this soon)

1. I struggle a lot with comparing myself to others.  Comments about my parenting often make me uncomfortable because while I believe that God has given me to my children, I have a hard time not just seeing my weak points and struggles.

 

Truthfully, I think we’re all “Super-Mom’s.”  God has given each of us to our children, and He knows exactly what He’s doing!

How are you doing today?  Are you seeing yourself as God’s gift to your kids?

More on this later…

– Judy

Our Homeschool Year in Review

When we started our school year back in August, I posted what we were doing for the year (at the end of the post). Now it seems appropriate to give a year-end review to let you know how things went!

First of all, the year took an unexpected turn when I found out I was expecting in mid-September. I found myself exhausted to the core and struggling to stay motivated right from the start. That said, I think things went fairly well for the year in general.

Eliza enjoyed her second year of studying American history through the American Girl books. We spent 6 weeks in each time period, working our way through the civil war era through the 40s.  She also developed in her reading comprehension and cursive handwriting. In math, she progressed through her 3rd grade books and into 4th grade.

Judah’s growth this year was such a treat to take part in! He finished his kindergarten and 1st semester math books, learning basic addition, subtraction, place value, money, shapes, etc. (I love Singapore!) He has learned how to read this year. I think my favorite part of homeschooling is teaching my kids to learn to read – it’s just such a blessing to see the world open up to them! He has also developed in his penmanship (his least-favorite part of school so far).

Towards the middle of the year I got the idea to get a couple of preschool workbooks and tear all the pages out, putting them into page protectors and a 3-ring-binder.  I got a nice set of washable dry-erase markers and bada-bing!  A fun activity for Caleb to do when he wanted to “do school” with his big siblings.  He can do the same things over and over, making it cost-efficient for us and fun for him!  We focused on “pre-writing” type activities like tracing, mazes, and dot-to-dots.

 

As far as the year of school goes, technically we’re not even done yet.  We had to stop in late April for a little family trip, and never really got going again, thanks to another trip to Colorado and then all the birth/baby preparations.  Now that Micah is almost a month old, I’m feeling ready to start back in it again.  I’ve decided to shorten our school year (a standard year is 36 weeks; we are going to end up doing around 30 weeks, I think), which was a huge step for me!  But I’m happy we decided to do it.  Trying to get to 36 weeks was really stressful, and would essentially mean no summer break at all.  Anyway, we’re going to try to work through the last of our work over the next couple of weeks, doing just 1-2 subjects a few days a week.  It’s like a half-vacation.  🙂

This year has been a interesting juggling act.  It’s been a bit overwhelming to me at times, learning to teach 2 children at very different levels, while entertaining a preschooler and toddler, and dealing with the exhaustion of pregnancy to boot.  I guess it was a good “warm-up” for next year, which I expect will be even more busy and crazy!  Lol…

One of these days, I will do another post to let you all know what we’re doing this next school year, which I am super excited about!

 

Blessings,

– Judy

Introducing Our New Addition!

I’m currently laying in bed next to our beautiful little baby boy, Micah Jonathan. He was born last night, and now I’m going to write my final birth story.

**Warning, following is the birth story of our little Micah. There is some typical birth-style graphic content.**

Well, first of all, our birth journey – like all journeys – didn’t start here. It started 9 months ago when we discovered that we were expecting a surprise baby. That was the start of an emotional 9 months, filled with all sorts of trials and triumphs. (You can read more about it by clicking on the “About Me” link above)

These past few weeks were especially challenging, with a trip to Colorado, increasing pelvic pain, and sheer exhaustion from not getting very solid sleep. As my due date approached, I found myself thinking and praying often that the Lord would bring this baby close to his due date (May 22nd), and not 2 weeks late like his big sister was. When this day came and went, I decided that the weekend would be perfect – Mark already had an extra day off of work for Memorial Day. But alas, the weekend came and went too.

Once again, I found myself second-guessing things and grappling with trust. What if he was late like his sister? Would the birth go okay? Why was God “pushing the limits” of what I felt I could handle?  I lingered in the land of doubt and worry for most of the weekend. Monday evening, Mark and I took the kids to the aquarium, which was a good diversion – and even more, it was a lovely evening of focusing on enjoying the children I already have, which we all really needed.

In the middle of the night Monday, I awoke to contractions. They were eventually strong enough to get me out of bed, but then spaced back out and I went back to bed to awaken with nothing. Tuesday morning in my quiet time with the Lord, I took some time to try to realign my thoughts with His, remembering that He was watching over both Micah and I and would bring about labor in His time. That night, the same thing happened as the night before, only the contractions were stronger.

Wednesday morning I continued having contractions, but very far apart – every half hour or farther. I knew things were progressing, but figured it was going very slowly and started looking forward to my ladies Bible study that evening. But first, I decided to mow the lawn. 🙂 And we don’t have a power mower either – it’s a reel-style! I finished the lawn around 4pm and the contractions had picked up in frequency quite a bit. At that point, I figured it was probably just due to the exercise and waited to see if things continued. Around 5pm, I could tell that the contractions weren’t letting up, so I let Mark know how I was feeling (he was home) and started cleaning up around the house.

At 5:30, I began timing contractions and making last-minute preparations to our birthing space (master bathroom). They were around 5 minutes apart. Over the next hour, the contractions increased in intensity and became 2-3 minutes apart. I checked his heart tones, and they were good – around 140bpm. I filled the tub, and Mark got the kids settled with dinner and a movie, telling them baby Micah was on his way.

At 7:05pm, I got into the tub, which felt amazing. Seriously – water birth (or even labor) is so relaxing! After about 10 minutes, and a couple of longer breaks between contractions (which I desperately needed!), I started feeling a slight urge to push. I know that this is the final part of first stage, as the body is transitioning into the pushing stage, and I kept telling myself that I was almost done. It was hard though – the pain was intense and the anxious feelings of transition are near impossible to ignore.

I finally started pushing around 7:25, and it was a bit different than previous labors. I didn’t really have strong urges to push with defined contractions. It was more like a constant need to push, and I did as much as I felt I could without risking tearing. As I was pushing Mark noticed that his bag of waters was broken, but I had no idea when it had occurred. His head was born, then his body just a couple of pushes later, at 7:40pm. Mark supported my perineum as best as he could and caught Micah, lifting him immediately above the surface of the water (all while leaning over the edge of the tub because things went so fast he couldn’t get in!).

Both of us were immediately struck by how blue he was. Most water babies are a bit purple, or even blue in the extremities, but he was blue everywhere. We immediately set to work trying to get him to breathe, rubbing his back and soles of his feet, and warming him up. He had a very short cord, which made things especially tricky. After a couple of minutes, we decided to get him out of the water, so Mark helped me out and we resumed simulation. We sucked out his noise and mouth several times and kept rubbing his back. He was breathing, but not regularly, and slowly pinking up in his torso. I then delivered the placenta, which went smoothly with no hemorrhaging, praise the Lord!

About 20 minutes after he was born, he was almost entirely pink, and things were stable enough that we called the kids up to meet their new baby brother. What a sweet time that was! They were all so excited to meet their brother and see this little guy that we have been waiting on for so long!

Around 8:45pm, we cut our little guy’s cord and nursed for the first time, which he loved. His cord was short – only 17 inches or so, which might explain why it took so long to go into labor (that happened with Avigail too). Since then he’s been doing great! Loves to nurse and snuggle and had a few periods of wonderful alert time today.

We also chose Micah’s middle name today. Name meanings are very important to us, and this is what his name means:
Micah- “Who is like God”
Jonathan- “God has given”
We chose Micah because of the nature of our surprise pregnancy and it’s reminding us of the sovereignty of God, and we chose Jonathan because he is absolutely a gift to us!

I’m not exactly where to go from here. This journey of our 5th child has been such a road of growth for me, and I am so thankful for the grace of God in giving me another child! I’m thankful for the opportunity to have an unassisted birth, thankful that the Lord gave me the instinct to push him out quickly, thankful that he pinked up well despite his slow start. I’m thankful that I get a chance to tandem nurse, thankful for one more little boy, and thankful for the peace I have in closing this chapter in our lives.

But most of all, I’m thankful for the ongoing lesson of trust that He is teaching me, and pray I can pass this on to my children. Our God is so good, His love for us is never-ending, and He wants to give us good! But so often we don’t know ourselves what good really is, and that is where trust comes in.

Many blessings to you on whatever road the Lord has you on, and may you find trust and peace on the journey!

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Embracing Simplicity

The view from our friends’ home!

Last week I did something I never thought I’d do – I drove to Washington with my 4 kids, 34 weeks pregnant, without Mark. I was missing a good friend, and the time away sounded like exactly what I needed before this baby makes his appearance.

The trip was fantastic – the kids were content during the drive and I managed to stay awake with the help of my friend Red Bull. 😉

We spent the majority of our week at our friends’ home in the country. For 5 days, we had no internet, no cell phone, and no TV. But what we did have was priceless: the kids enjoyed being with friends they’ve known all their lives – with 5 acres to explore and play, the river to splash in, mud to muck around in, tepee-building, dog-chasing, and snake-holding. Inside, I was in heaven with the wood-burning fireplace in constant crackle, good food always cooking, yarn to crochet, books to read, and of course, wonderful conversations with my dear friend.

When we arrived home Sunday evening, I was unpacking the car, trying to hold my emotions in check. When I got to a pile of blankets that smelled strongly of wood smoke, I broke. I missed my friend, and I missed the peaceful, serene setting of their home. I missed the simplicity of our lives for that short week. My kids did too. They asked multiple times about moving there, wondering what it would take.

I spent yesterday unpacking our things and re-aclimating myself to our home. I spent a lot of time thinking about what made our friends’ home so special (other than the presence of our friends, of course!). The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the simplicity of their lives. There weren’t buckets of toys, but the toys they had encouraged creative play. No matter how hard I try, I feel like our home us taken over by toys! The kids were outside a lot, and dirt was embraced. That’s something I need to work on! Food was simple, but healthy and full of flavor! Mmm… I will dream about that steamed artichoke with roasted garlic goat cheese for weeks to come, I’m sure! And the flow of their days allowed so much freedom to be together and truly enjoy each other.

So, my goal these next few weeks is to harness my nesting urge that’s kicking in, and use it to simplify our lives a bit. How can I declutter our things and our time? How can I rearrange our home life a bit to make my priorities the priority again?

What about you? Any plans for simplifying your life a bit this spring? What are you thinking of removing or rearranging?

Blessings!
~ Judy

 

Here are a few more pics from the trip!

Playing at the river!
Cozy reading in front of the fire
Getting muddy in the pond

The Closing of a Chapter

This week marks the closing of a chapter of my life. My husband is getting a vasectomy.

For the past 8 years, my life has been consumed by motherhood. And this has been one of the greatest blessings I have ever known! Through my children, I have learned so much about myself and grown in character more than I ever would have imagined possible.

For the past couple of years, the size of our family has been on my mind almost constantly. When we first got married, Mark wanted 2-3 kids and I wanted 4-6. A few years into our married life, I was introduced to the “quiverful” teaching- basically the idea that since children are a blessing from God, we should desire many and not do anything to prevent them from being given to us. I was enamored by the idea of a large family and started imagining myself as a mom of 8+ kids. Mark, on the other hand, agreed that children were a blessing, but couldn’t find Biblical support to mandate or even push never limiting your family size. For several years, this wasn’t an issue, because we were both happy with the growth of our family. After having our second daughter (giving us 2 boys and 2 girls), Mark decided he wanted to be finished having kids. I, on the other hand, wanted more. I worked to come to grips with the fact that I was going to be a mom of 4, all while hoping that Mark would “see the light.”

Last year, we received quite a shock to find out that despite our “best efforts,” we were expecting baby #5. (Read all about it here and here) It was a major adjustment all over again. And this time, we started really talking seriously about doing something permanent to close this chapter in our lives. I studied and decided that I could not agree with the idea that Scripture teaches against limiting your family size. So we agreed that Mark would have a vasectomy done. And I was mostly okay with that.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I had an emotional breakdown about the whole thing. I realized that I still had a deep desire for more children, and didn’t want that option taken away from me. I spent an evening sobbing, then the next day sat down with Mark and told him how I felt. I felt like I was completely torn in two: part of me wanted to respect my husband’s desires to move on in life, and the other part couldn’t bear the idea of never having more children. He listened and said that he would be happy to postpone things until we were on the same page.

For the next several days, I took a lot of time to sort through my thoughts and emotions, and to pray for direction and peace. I searched out wisdom online, and was disheartened to find that it was nearly impossible!  I found plenty of horror stories, reversal stories, and women who were excited that their husbands were having it done, but what I was looking for was like finding a needle in a haystack!  I finally found one story that spoke to my soul.  It was entitled, “Loving Him Means Letting Go” (and apparently it has since been removed from the host website it was on, or I would link to it).   The dear wife wrote about her struggles with giving this area to her husband, and how much peace the Lord gave her about doing so.  (One of the biggest reasons I’m sharing this here is that hopefully, someday, my story will touch someone else as hers has touched me.)  Anyway, I was relieved and honored that Mark was willing to postpone the vasectomy despite his feelings, but over several days I became convicted that I was only listening to my own emotions and desires and not giving full consideration to Mark’s.

So one day I asked him point blank, “Is there any chance that someday you’re going to want more kids?” His answer was pretty certain. “No, I’m very happy with the children I have and am ready to move on in life, out of this stage.” His concerns were valid: having young children is exhausting, and we want to maintain quality relationships with our children, not simply get by. He wanted to have enough time to invest in our kids’ lives and not be so overwhelmed that we have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

At that moment, I had peace. Peace that it was okay to be done. Peace that I was going to be happy and fulfilled with the family I have. Peace that honoring my husband was going to strengthen our relationship and ultimately our whole family. So I told him to move forward with his appointment, that I was okay with it.

I’m currently in my 35th week of pregnancy, and I’m trying to savor every moment of it. Every little baby movement is a gift, and most days I sit and spend a few minutes in thankfulness for this last chance to experience pregnancy and birth again. Each of my children are such a gift to me, and I’m excited about moving into this next phase of life – childrearing instead of childbearing. And I know that with my wonderful husband at my side, this next chapter will be just as life-changing and priceless as the last one!

~ Judy