Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Parenting

Thank You, Jesus, For My Daughter

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My daughter is a priceless treasure. I am thankful for her smile, her sweet giggle, and her amicable nature. I love her tiny little pig tails and the way she proudly shows them off to her brothers. I love the way she wants to show daddy her cute little dresses. I love how she carries her baby dolls around the house, trying so hard to love her baby the way mommy loves her. I love when she says, “Nails!”, wanting me to paint her nails a bright sparkly pink. I absolutely love it when she sings, talk about my heart skipping a beat! I love the way she tries to do everything her mommy does amd loves me despite my failures. I love her little voice, her temper, her dramatic effects, I love the way she looks up to her brothers! I love the way she jumps up and down, runs throughout the house, and squeals in simple delight! I love the way she folds her hands, when it is time to talk to Jesus! I love the way, she talks in sentences at the young age of two. I love, love, love my daughter! Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of my sweet daughter Caroline!

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Family Bonding Time, Learning to Love Your Husband, Motherhood, Parenting

Few Days Away From Facebook

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I deleted Facebook applications from my iPhone and my iPad for several days. I felt my spirit needed a break. My break only lasted a few days and that’s okay. All I needed was a few days.

A few days to realize a few VERY important things.

1.) {EVERYTHING IN MODERATION} goes for Facebook, too!

I was too focused on everyone else’s business and not focused enough on my own business ( my family, my self, my spiritual life, my friends).

2.) {NEEDED TO SET LIMITS} I needed to establish much needed boundaries and set time limits. Too much, is too much!

3.) {SILENCE IS GOLDEN}. When the children were napping, outside playing, or I was resting before going to sleep, I would check Facebook. Guess what? Facebook is loud! Not loud in the decibel sense, but loud in the mentally over-stimulus sense. So much screaming for my attention and I wasn’t taking time to listen to God, to think, to feel regular emotions from my own world. Facebook must not overtake my quiet times! I NEED quiet time, like the air I breathe!

4.) {MY TANK WAS EMPTY, I NEEDED TIME TO REFUEL}. Spending inordinate time on Facebook maintains the potential to leave me suffering from extreme burnout. I believe God knows we are human and we can only {handle} so much. To be anything for others, we must be certain our own tanks are full, otherwise we will crash and burn. We don’t think of Facebook as being too much, but for those of us who take things to heart and truly care about the needs of others, Facebook can throw too many emotions in our direction and if we’re not filled ourselves, we can deplete our resources and prove invaluable to our husbands, children, family, friends, and others in our physical presence. Word to the wise, take time to refuel!

5.) {FACEBOOK IS A BLESSING}. Facebook allows me to stay in contact with good friends from Korea, Boston, St. Louis, local friends, and people I love all over the world. I am thankful for this form of social media which allows me to stay in contact with people I care about.

There you have it, what I’ve learned from a few days away from Facebook.

Oh, and I decided to homeschool my sweet Daniel who is currently in kindergarten. He is excited! I am excited! His books came in the mail today, we’ll see how excited he is tomorrow, when we begin our work! Here’s to being able to have the best of both worlds! My older two are in public school doing well, and I have the opportunity to experience the joys and struggles of a homeschool mom. I’ll keep you posted on how homeschooling is goes!

Now for a few minutes to rest before the older two monkeys get home from school!

Blessings, Crystal

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Family Bonding Time, Learning to Love Your Husband, Motherhood, Parenting, Trusting God

Taking a Break From Facebook

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I’ve decided to delete my Facebook apps. Those of you who know me personally, know that I am a true advocate of Facebook. I have friends all over the globe and Facebook allows me to keep in touch. Lately, for whatever reason, I’ve been feeling “blah”. I haven’t been able to pinpoint what is causing the feeling, and decided to pray. The Lord has put it on my heart to take a break from Facebook. I’m not sure why, but I’m certain that God’s will is where I want to be. I look forward to learning the life lessons God wishes to teach me throughout this time.

It’s been about 6 hours since I’ve deleted my Facebook applications. I keep picking up my iPhone and iPad fully expecting to see a Facebook notice and remembering, “Oh, yea, I deleted my Facebook apps!” In six hours I have realized how much my mind tends to wander to this addictive blue and white app. I’m not sure, but in a way I can escape my own world and enter into the worlds of all my friends on Facebook. The problem is, I need to be “here” in my world. I must be fully present in my relationship with God, in my own home and in my relationships with my husband, my children, and my friends.

How long will this break last? To be honest, I’m not sure! It could be a few days, a week, a month, or a year! I know I need time to refocus my attention back on my primary priorities, God and my family! I’m truly expecting to experience a revival of my spirit. I can’t help but ponder the way Satan will use anything in our lives to distract us from focusing on God. I refuse to allow Satan to use Facebook to distract me from focusing on Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, often God speaks to me through Facebook, but right now I need to spend time allowing God to speak directly into my heart. Don’t worry, you know me, I’ll keep you updated on what God teaches me through this time!

Blessings,

Crystal

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Praise God

Sweet Contentment

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This morning, I am lying in bed, the house filled with the sound of pure silence and my husband (the worlds best daddy) is quietly playing with the children somewhere in this house. He thinks he’s letting me sleep in (which is the SWEETEST thing in the world), but I am wide awake contemplating life. I’m absorbing this awesome feeling of contentment, I feel right this very moment. Everything is perfect! Peaceful home, sunshine gently beaming through the windows, quiet children, madly in love with my husband, blessed with four of the sweetest kids, and a home that makes me smile everyday!

In a few minutes, the bangs and thuds will begin above my head in the playroom. The whining, screaming, squealing children will emerge, and this peaceful feeling will be threatened. However, right now this feeling of contentment is pure bliss! A simple moment, often taken for granted, is permanently etched on my heart and on my blog.

Well, gotta go… The cabinets are now slamming, piano playing, and the sound of a herd of elephants above my head is my alarm to… Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!

Happy Saturday! Take time to allow yourselves to feel moments of pure and radiant contentment and say thank you to the Father in Heaven, the giver of all good gifts!

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood

Cherish These Days… They’ll Be Gone Before You Know It.

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Feisty little red-head boy…

His birth completely changed our worlds.

We were young… Supposedly adults.

This child forced us to second guess our maturity.

Long nights… With little or no sleep.

Tantrums… Made me question my own sanity.

Kind hearted women…

Said, “Cherish these days… They’ll be gone before you know it!”

All the while, I’m thinking, “Cherish…?”

With each additional child…

Came sibling quarrels…

Ganging up on the parents syndrome.

Unique new parental challenges.

Despite the difficulties parenting threw in our direction.

Despite the long nights in the hospital… Praying and worrying over my children.

Despite the breaking up of fights.

Despite the constant worrying over their well-being.

I heeded these wise women’s words.

I cherished the good times.

I held my babies tighter.

Made mental notes of child-like humor.

I observed beautiful moments of sibling bonding.

Took simple everyday moments… And taught my children about God’s love.

I held their hands.

Laid in their beds and rubbed their tiny backs.

Cupped their chubby cheeks in my hands…

Looked into their eyes and informed them of my love.

You know… Those women were right!

I couldn’t love enough…

Hold tight enough…

Cherish enough…

The harder I tried.

The faster they grew.

I’m now an older… wiser… more experienced mother.

My advice…

“Cherish these days… They’ll be gone before you know it!”

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Parenting, Trusting God

Independence Blvd

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You’ve grown up too fast.
Before my eyes… so hard to grasp.

I’m sad… I’m happy…
I’m frightened… I’m excited.

Walking behind… Your little five year old legs.
In the direction of that big yellow school bus.

Transportation to get you where you need to go.
Out into the big world.

Independence Blvd.
That’s the destination.

I fight my yearning to hold you.
Anything to keep you from taking those gigantic big bus steps.

As much as I want to keep you close.
I realize God is your father and your boss.

I will watch you go.
I will hold back the tears.
I will step back and let you find your way.
I will pray.
I will always be close… No matter how far you may go.

Sweet child… Please know “I only let go” because I love you so.

God has big plans for your life… little man.
Go… Discover Independence blvd.

At the end of the day.
That yellow school bus… Will bring you back into my arms.

Where I will love, encourage, and enjoy our special time.
Where I will do my best to prepare you for another day of Independence Blvd.

Family Bonding Time, Learning to Love Your Husband, Parenting

Lessons I’ve Learned From Temporarily Single Parenting

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My husband has been teaching in China for a little over four weeks. We have 12 more days until he will be home. Lessons I’ve learned from my six week stent of single parenting.

1. Dads are needed!

Despite what the world teaches about men being useless and continually making men out to be dumb… I tend to differ. My man is wise, respected, and loved by each member of our family. I am not near as good of a parent alone as I am with him by my side.

2. Single moms have a tough job.

Folks, this single parenting thing is for the birds. The pressure has all been on my shoulders and I’m truly on duty 24/7. Talk about stressful. If you come across a single parent, be God in flesh to her. Simply, knowing someone is thinking about you is an awesome encouragement and makes a big difference.

3. I’ve realized how much I’ve taken my husbands support for granted.

On a regular basis I have found myself frustrated with things I feel my husband hasn’t helped adequately with around the house and with the kids. The lack of his presence has reminded me, that his presence is EXTREMELY helpful. I’ve also been reminded of how wonderful of a father he is to our children and what a supportive husband he is to me.

4. I realize how many wives, critique everything their husbands do and don’t do (myself included), rather than praising and being supportive.

I have a whole new appreciation for the place in our family my husband holds. His absence has helped me to see how helpful he is around the house. I am going to make it a point to praise him for being a wonderful and Godly man.

5. Life is boring without him.

The kids and I miss his upbeat demeanor and his humorous nature. Often I take his humor for granted. I miss the continual joking and laughter dad brings into our home.

Say thank you to your husband today! Take a moment to hug him and tell him all that you appreciate about him. I can’t wait to hug my husband and tell him how much we have missed his presence in our home.

Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Trusting God

To Go or Not to Go?

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My oldest two boys were all signed up and ready to begin packing for camp. However, something inside my spirit didn’t feel right about them going to camp.

I couldn’t pin point and particular reason, however the feeling wouldn’t let up.

My husband is teaching abroad in China for six weeks and we all miss him terribly. I thought to myself they might be extra homesick, I will miss them more, and my younger two might have a hard time with daddy and their brothers being gone.

However, it still didn’t add up.

I spoke to the boys. A few days ago and they “REALLY” wanted to go. I relented and thought, “I’m just being goofy!”

Several situations continued to rise that made me rethink camp. For example, Christopher got some kind of bug bite that swelled his entire inner thigh. I took him to the doctor and he needs to be on a five day dose of steroids. A kid on steroids, is certain to not the get camper of the week award?

The Lord spoke to my heart and lead me to call the woman who runs the camp. He said… “Just call and see if there are any boys on the waiting list?” I thought to myself. If there are boys on the waiting list than maybe that is my answer and if not that may be my answer.

I called her and discussed my current situation and inner struggle. I asked her if there were any other boys on the waiting list. She answered, “You won’t believe this, there are two other boys on the waiting list, who’d love to be able to go to camp.” Hmmm? Interesting?

I asked her if I could call her back after speaking to my children. She said, “Certainly!”

I spoke to my boys. I told them it was their choice and there were two other boys on the waiting list. My oldest son looked in my eyes and said, “I want those boys to be able to go to camp.”, And Christopher agreed. I asked, “Are you sure?” Once again my oldest replied, “Those boys need to go to camp!”

I don’t know why Holy Spirit began speaking to my heart. Or why, The Holy Spirit immediately revealed to my oldest son, that those boys were supposed to be at camp?

I would love to be a fly on the wall of camp! God’s up to something! I know it and I would love to be there to see it!”

The woman offered to return our non- refundable registration fee. I told her, God wanted those boys there and this is our gift to them. No problem!

I would love to see what God has up His sleeve! He’s amazing and I know it must be awesome!

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Family Bonding Time, Motherhood, Parenting

Crystal’s “Turn the Table” Over Moment

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I’m frustrated.

You thinking… Wow… Not like Crystal to blog about something negative or out of frustration?

Let me clarify: I’m not saying I never feel negative or frustrated, just ask my husband and children.

However, right now I have a bone to pick.

Usually, I decide to wait until my frustration passes but right now… This is a “Jesus turns over the table in the temple” kind of moment. My husband has been in China for almost three weeks and will remain there for three more weeks. I am a mother of four children ranging from 11 – 1, not to mention a graduate student perusing a degree in counseling, and this is the LONGEST I have ever been away from my best friend and help mate. Needless to say… I’m missing him like crazy, feeling terribly lonely, and not getting the regular breaks my husband blesses me with. Since he left, I have had a few bad moments as a mother, I have cried a few tears, but all in all I’m hanging in there. Simply, trying to make the best.

Well, if you care to proceed… Here’s my soap box saga for tonight.

I’m sick of “certain “people dogging mothers.

A recent article I saw was something like, “Hey, that mother with the iPhone, put down your phone and swing your Kid.” Revealing a picture with a mom pushing her baby in a park swing and looking at her iPhone.

SERIOUSLY?

How in anyway is this uplifting, encouraging, or helpful?

Hey, is the baby taken care, is the mother beating her child, is there any obvious signs of neglect surrounding the child?

You know what I say, and I don’t ever say this… I say “Shut-Up!”

(Sorry – for the current day profanity that was not profanity when I was brought up.)

Give mothers a break! Stop looking for “something”…. “anything” to criticize.

Do you know how many children would love for their mothers to take them to the park and push them in the swing?

So what? The mother is multi-tasking… I’m certainly guilty of that.

Another article I read tonight that I found infuriating was titled… “The Worst Trend Ever”.

This article talked about how mothers are starting to post funny stories about their failures as a parent and how we need to take our sin more seriously! Mother’s shouldn’t admit failures but take them to God and take them seriously before the throne.

The worst trend ever?

Really?

I think not!

I think the big holes through the earlobe, the over abundance of meth labs, women showing EVERY part of their skin, sagging britches, and of course the mullet were TERRIBLE trends.

How is it that mothers being authentic and genuine in the face of their friends and mentors is the WORST trend?

How does the author of this article know the heart of “all” the mothers she’s writing about and their Facebook posts? As for me… I take my sin “very” seriously! (I admit it… I yelled at my child tonight… While preparing them “boxed” macaroni and cheese for dinner. I lost my temper… I actually made my son cry.).

However… Guess what else I did. I called my little boy down the stairs, sat him on my lap, squeezed him tight and I cried with him. I did… I told him I was soooo sorry. I ask him to forgive me. I asked God in front of him to forgive me and help me to be a better and more patient mother. I had taken away his swimming privileges… And guess what? I extended that naughty little boy grace and I still took him swimming, even when he didn’t deserve it. Just like Christ continually extends grace to me.

Guess what else I did? I read to, laughed… hugged… kissed… sang… prayed… encouraged… and loved my children.

Lord, help me! (No, I’m not taking the Lord’s name in vain for those of you “thinking” bad of me.). I’m actually praying!

Here’s the heart of the matter.

There are some SUPER terrible mothers out there.

STOP… STOP… STOP… Putting down the good ones, the ones who are willing to admit their weaknesses in order to become better moms.

The ones who get off their butts (Oh, sorry… I forgot, I’m a Christian, apparently I’m not allowed to say butt.) and actually take their kids to the park and gently push their baby in the swing. (Even if they are on their iPhone)

STOP… STOP… STOP… Putting down the moms who can openly admit their frailties (You know… the ones who don’t beat their children to a pulp and actually love… care… and provide for their child’s needs)

DO… DO… DO… Let mothers be human. Allow them to make a few mistakes (without additional ridicule).

DO… DO… DO… Encourage mothers who give every ounce of their energy…and prayers to their children.

So what? Moms sometimes post stories about their failures and maybe add a bit of humor.

So what? Moms are realizing that all mothers aren’t perfect!

Back in the day… People went outside more. They mingled with their neighbors. The older women spent time teaching the younger ones. Now… We have the Internet. Now… Younger moms have few helpers and mothering role models. We no longer hang out with fellow friends on our block. We no longer look for ways we can help the struggling mother with four children.

Now… Society has provided another resource for mothers…albeit not nearly a suitable substitute to warm and caring human bodies extending a helping hand in love. Society has offered mothers social media sites such as Facebook.

Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

Could it be that God is meeting the needs of mothers through this present day venue?

Do we help young mothers… Or do we sit back and judge?

We refuse to offer a helping hand… A word of encouragement. A sit down over hot tea to pray for strength and wisdom.

Guess what?

None of us will EVER be perfect on Earth.

Guess what?

Your a mom.

Guess what?

God loves you!

He sees your heart and knows the time and energy you exert while raising your children.

I feel better now!

Blessings,

Crystal

Encouragement for a Weary Heart, Family Bonding Time, Trusting God

Good Ole’ Lemonade Days

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Everyone has bad days.
Today was one of my “bad days”.
I opened my eyes and felt the nasty pang “I’m going to cry!”
Went to church… All in attempt to serve God… And feel better.
Yet… I escaped to the ladies room to secretly wipe away the unwanted drops of emotion.
The last thing I wanted was for people to see my vulnerability.

You see… We live in a world of “individuality”.
We’re Americans.
We’re strong… Independent.
We’re Christians.
We’re strong… Independent.

We’re taught to smile and nod.
Never show weakness.
Never give in to defeat.
We need nothing or no one.
We’re never to ask for help.

We’re told to put a smile on our face.
To strive for more.
This need for more…
Leaves us lonely.
Reaching for empty securities.

What happened to the good old days.
The Andy Griffith kind of days.
Mingling in the streets.
Neighbors helping neighbors.
Singing to a softly strumming guitar on the neighbor’s white picketed porch.

Maybe I’m discontent.
Attempting to attain an unreachable level of friendliness.
I yearn for simplicity.
Drinking lemonade in the shade.
Swimming in the ole’ creek bed.

Today feels so complicated.
Can’t say anything.
For the fear of offending another.
Can’t do anything.
For the fear of being judged.

Simple… Lemonade kind of days.
Are they too much to ask for?
Maybe… I’m longing for Heaven.
Desiring the “belongingness” of my Heavenly home.
To be in the God’s Holy presence.

For now…
I’ll take time to drink “sugary” lemonade.
I’ll rest in the shade with my family.
Scripture in hand…
I’ll take time to soak in the pleasantries of the gift of life.