Tuesday, August 27, 2013

First Days & God's Grace





This morning I walked into Bella's room to wake her up for her first day of school and as she opened her eyes slowly, she said "mom, can you sing the "school song" Gigi used to sing to you when you were a little girl?"

So I did. 
And I had to laugh to myself, because I could still hear my mom singing it and I don't remember exactly loving that song as a little girl. 
cause it meant waking up. 
Early. 
And I was never a morning girl. 

But my Bella girl is. And always has been. 
She wakes up smiling. 

I've had a few moments over the last few days, when im looking at her. I'll suddenly see her standing in her crib bright eyed and smiling, or I'll see her profile and remember staring at that same one as I rocked her to sleep at night. I'll put an outift on Mia and can remember the day Bella wore the same one. 

I remember when Asher started kinder, I just couldn't imagine that Bella would ever get to that point. 
That she would be ready or old enough. 
She stayed home with me those days, most of it just she and I, since Mia was still so little and took a lot of naps. 
She was so perfectly content and happy to do whatever I was doing. 

but as the days have gone on and we find ourselves here, at this one, her first day of kindergarten, 
it's all so different. 

she is so ready. 





I keep thinking how good God is to us even in things like this. 
slowly, as days go on, he prepares our hearts. 
makes us ready for the next stage and season. 
when we don't even realize it, or recognize that it's happening, 
it is. 

and I love that about him. 
I think it's his grace, you know? 
part of what makes it easier for these things to happen.

I sat on our stairs last night and stared at the clothes and shoes they had laid out for the next day. 
they were both so excited. 
we'd done our nightly thing like always. dinner, bath, pjs, brush teeth, prayer and bed. 

I prayed longer last night. Only repeated out loud to them what i had already been praying for days in my spirit.
"lord, protect their hearts. make them brave. give them boldness.
let them be a light for you. 
prepare the way ahead of them. let it be one of their best and favorite days."




then I walked out of each of their rooms, made my way to the bottom of the stairs and sat down. 
people had been asking me for days if i was i ready to send bella off, and i sort of laughed, feeling like yes i totally was...
sort of amazed at myself that i felt so ready. 
and i did feel ready.
but it didn't stop the tears from flowing right out and down my cheeks, as i sat there on the stairs. 
looking at those little shoes and thinking of the feet that would wear them. 
how they were once the tiny baby feet i used to kiss. 

I looked at brandon with tears streaming down my face and said, this is just kindergarten! how will i ever send her off to college one day! 

my heart ached for those baby feet. 

but then, in those same moments of sadness, i felt such peace. 
 a stillness. 
sometimes you look back on days or months or years and you feel like they passed too quick, like they are a blur, or you can't remember the details..
i have some moments like that for sure but for the most part, in my heart of hearts i remember it all. 
the little details that i worried so much about forgetting. 
the sweet moments and facial expressions, and times she wore that sweater. 

i remember them. 
and i feel like God did that for me. 
helped me remember to soak it all in. 
don't rush ahead. 

im thankful for that. because it's what makes days like today easier. 
i can look at her big bright morning eyes, and remember the same ones peaking at me from over her crib rails, and i can remember the years in between and know each day was cherished. 
they weren't always perfect, and some were hard. 
bella has taught me patience more than the others. she challenges me and pushes me, and she makes me a better mom. 
but most of all she's taught me grace. what it really is. 

and today just felt like grace. 
like my heart had already been prepared for it. 
I have found that his time truly is perfect. 
and that his grace is sufficient. 

today, in this moment, maybe i can't imagine the day we will send her off to college. it's too much to even imagine.
but today she started kindergarten and the time was just right. 
it wasn't more than this mama heart could handle like i once thought it would be. 
it was the perfect time. 


That is really what God is showing me most right now. 

every day is a step forward, closer to those bigger things. 
it's his grace that guides us through. 
makes us ready. 
prepares us. 

im so thankful for that. 
Mia and I gave them a little surprise -after the first day of school- party. I don't think I could have been happier to see their smiling faces as they walked through the door. 
And I don't think Mia could have been either. 
She was so excited to yell "Surprise!" when they walked in. 

And then she kept asking where the presents were.....


They both ended up loving their day, and their class and their teachers. 
When I asked them what their favorite part of the day was, they said "EVERYTHING."
Sweet relief for this mama. 



Friday, August 23, 2013

New Devotional + Challenge


Hello lovely peeps! I'm dropping in real quick to share the devotional I'll be starting on Monday. I posted last week that I was looking for a new one. One that dug a little deeper and challenged me a bit.  I've always loved waking up earlier than the kids and having my quiet time before they wake up. Drinking my coffee, doing some writing, writing lists, and praying. It refreshes me and I feel prepared for the day. 

However, lets be honest, since summer started that little routine got totally thrashed. With later bed times, came later wake up times...including myself.  {Ahem} No shame here guys. This is a safe place. 

I'm looking forward to diving back into my routine and some new reading. I got some great suggestions from everyone and I know some of you mentioned you were also looking for a new devotional, so I thought I'd share the one I'm going with.


My sister recommended one called "Draw the Circle- The 40 day Prayer Challenge" by Mark Batterson. Just reading the introduction alone, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for and what God was calling me to:

"....the next forty days have the potential to dramatically alter the rest of your life. God is going to begin a good work in you, and He is going to carry it to completion. Miracles that happen in your life decades from now will trace their origin back to this season of prayer. Breakthroughs that happen during these forty days will become generational blessings that live on love after you die. 
If you press into God's presence like never before, you will experience God like never before."

I feel like this is the exact direction I'm feeling pressed toward. Brandon and I are going to do it together. We'll be praying for our church plant and our church people, among other things. 

It's recommended that you do this challenge/devo with someone. For accountability, encouragement and to just share in it with someone else. Talk about what God is speaking to you through it and how you're seeing him work. 

I'm so excited to start! Excited to see what God does and how he moves in our life in the next 40 days. It's a big season for our church plant, and I'm believing we will look back in awe of what He did. One thing I am doing for sure is writing it all down. The big and little things I'm believing for. 

If you have any questions, or think you might want to start this devotional also, I'd love to hear from you. I ordered mine off of Amazon for under $12 with free prime shipping but I'm sure you could also find it in any local christian book store. 


Happy Friday! Hope you enjoy your weekend---it's our last one of summer!


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

-Loving-



-Have you heard of the new Target Cartwheel app? Seriously, it's the coolest thing to ever happen to a Target loving girl like myself. Aside from an afternoon alone to meander the aisles with a pretzel combo, this is possibly the next best thing.

Basically, it's an app for iphone (no idea if they have it for other phones, but I'm sure they do) where you can get special coupons to all sorts of things at Target. From groceries to shoes to home decor. All you do is "check" the coupon you wan't and it adds them to your "cartwheel." You can add a bunch at a time and then when you're ready to check out, you just have to show the cashier ONE barcode to scan and it will automatically apply the coupons to what you bought. I love it!



-We went to see my sister in Houston for a day and whenever we go there, we have to go to Ikea. Because San Antonio doesn't have one, which is crazy, I know. But it's sort of a good thing, because it gives me time to plan what I want/need so when we go I know excactly what I'm going for. This is important when it comes to Ikea cause ya'll know how massive it is and it can be super overwhelming to say the least! Especially with 3 kids in tow. 

So, I sort of had a plan this time. I wanted the black and white throw (top left-ish) to tie in with the rug I'd got there a few months back. I've always loved the simplicity of black and white. And I love how these few items added that into our living room space.



+Speaking of decorating your home, I have to give a shout out to my friend Ashley. She is doing a "Living Small" series on her blog where she gives a tour of her 2 bedroom house. She gives awesome advice and tips for living smaller, with 4 kids. I LOVE her home and what she has done with it. Go check it out! 






This is a book I am currently reading and loving. It's a slow process because I find myself wanting to do anything else but read when I get a little quiet time (the irony of this is not lost on me) but I'm making myself read it and feeling challenged, in a good way, with every page.
 
On that note, I am looking for a new morning devotional. I want something a little challenging and not too short. I will have more time in the morning to spend on some bible/prayer/reading time once the kids start school and want something a little more on the deeper side. Jesus Calling is great, but it's pretty surface.  I would love some new recommendations! If you have any please share them! 

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Beach Love + Memories



Monday morning, bright and early, 
we woke the kids up at 6am and loaded them into the car to head 5 hours away to South Padre Island, Texas.
We met the rest of my family there for a little vacation.
My sisters and brother and their kids and my mom and dad, cousin and grandma.


We've been going to this beach since I was a little, little girl. I have so many memories of the beach. I'm a beach girl by far. The sound of the ocean and the sand and the waves. I love it all.  It does something to my soul to be sitting on a beach. 

Brandon and I told the kids the night before that we'd be leaving early the next day. 
He and I packed all of the suitcases and loaded the car while they slept. 
I will never forget how excited they were even at 6am when we carried them to the car.
In fact I told Brandon that the memory of seeing Asher's face with big 'ol eyes and a huge smile, as he woke up in Brandons arms realizing what was happening, is probably one of my favorite memories.

There's a bridge you drive over from Port Isabel into South Padre. 
I remember driving over it as a little girl and my mom saying "look kids there's the ocean!"
It was so crazy to hear myself saying it to my own kids now.  
I won't ever forget how Bella's face was pressed up against the window as she excitedly pointed out every bird and palm tree she saw. 

We were there for 4 full days and literally spent every day, all day, on the beach. We would have breakfast in our room and then meet my family out on the beach at 11am. We played the whole time. Building sand castles, swimming, jumping in the waves, digging holes, tracing words in the sand, eating snacks, playing with cousins....
My dad dug a huge hole, complete with steps going up and down, for the littler kids to play in. 
It worked sort of like a play-pen and was perfect for them. They loved it. 


We stayed every day until about 6-7pm. 
We would eat dinner and hang out in my parents condo that they'd rented and then head back to our own hotel room.  
The kids shared a queen bed and all 3 crashed hard, snuggled up together every single night.
I loved to see them all in the same bed. Tired and worn out from a full day of fun. 

As my kids get older and we are experiencing new things with them, 
I'm truly learning what it means to feel completely fulfilled in seeing your own kids so happy. 
This trip was so special to me and one that I really think they will always remember.

Usually after a trip away I am always ready to be home, but this time I could have stayed longer.  We were all sad to leave. 
The beach just has a special place in my heart and I hope to continue the tradition of going each summer and nurturing our kids love for it like my parents did. 
Who knows, maybe one day they'll be taking their own kids one day.



They were literally screaming "We love the beach!" in this picture. 

{sigh}
Me too kids, me too.

I'm missing it so much already. 
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