Dear Diary

Mommy put me in my crib so I would fall asleep.  She does that every day, and I can usually fall asleep but today I don’t think I want to.  So I’m going to keep humming and talking to Bub and my bears.

I don’t really know what day it is either, because Daddy was home for another day this weekend and now he’s at work.  I guess it’s Tuesday, right?  Well anyway, yesterday Daddy got to come with me and Mommy when we went to see the cow!  We go see the cow and Mommy gets eggs in the store.  ‘Cept yesterday the cow wasn’t there, but I got to see the goat — and the pigs!  Have you ever smelled a pig?  They’re really, really stinky.

But I got to run around the pig pen and get rocks!  Oh yeah, there were chickens too and I tried to say hi but they didn’t want to say hi back.  They just wanted to walk around and eat the dirt.  They didn’t have to be inside a fence; I don’t know how they got lucky and the goat didn’t, cuz I wanted to see the goat outside the fence.

I’m starting to yawn a little so maybe I will take a nap…  But let me see, what else can I tell you?  Mommy took me to a store this morning to meet a friend and we had to sit at the table foreeeeeevvvvveeeeeeerrrrr.  I got to eat some of Mommy’s bagel but she had a drink in a cool cup and I really wanted it.

There was a guy who said hi and waved to me too and I waved back and nodded my head.  Hmm I need my pillow now — there it is.  Yeah, and I got to play with plastic eggs on the table ‘cept I just threw them off because I can throw far and I wanted to see where they would go.  So then Mommy had to get them.

My blanket is really snuggly, you know.  And the guy outside mowing the lawn is making a noise that’s making me fall asleep…  I’m just gonna close my eyes and keep talk—

(Sincerely,

Levi :))

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Daring To Hope – Book Review

A few days ago I wrote about a book I’ve had the privilege of previewing, Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors.  Now that I’ve finished reading it and had time to process it, I have the opportunity to share my thoughts with you…

It’s so rich, friends.  It’s a real-life, day-to-day example of what it means to follow Christ.  And not only in the easy, joyful parts of life — Katie shares many examples of hardship and how God worked during those times.  If you’ve ever wrestled with how a good God can allow bad things to happen, which I think most of us have, you’ll find a satisfying perspective through Katie’s experiences (which include watching close friends die and having a child taken away).

It’s not sugar-coated Christianity.  It’s the nitty-gritty, questioning God and truly finding Him to be all-sufficient even in the worst seasons.  It’s pressing in to know Him more, to know why, to find answers and see Him provide time and time again regardless of what that provision looks like.

You can see a video preview here, and I highly encourage you to pick up a copy when it releases in October.  No matter where you live, though you may not have the same daily life as Katie does in Uganda — the book is relatable and will touch your heart.

I may do a giveaway with a copy or two when it comes out, so stay tuned for that.  If you want a little more history and understanding of Katie’s story, click here and read through her blog posts from over the years.  :)

Enjoy, and have a great Friday evening!

Dear Diary

Mommy made a big pot of black things the other day and we had to eat them two times.  She and Daddy liked them and I spit them out cuz they were gross.  They had to go on rice, and I never liked rice.  Even with sauce and other stuff.  So I hope we don’t have to eat them again tonight.

Today Mommy took me to Gramma Linda’s and I got to play with another girl.  (I guess Gramma Linda isn’t really my grammie, cept I call her that…?)  The other girl was bigger than me and she really wanted to play with me.  And after a long time I tried to sneak out of the room to where Grampa Rob was because girls talk a lot.  I did get out, and Grampa Rob let me stand on the counter and watch the squirrel outside.  I wasn’t going to tell Mommy but then he did, and she was okay with it.  See, I don’t really get girls.

I played more with the big girl and she showed me blocks and all kinds of toys, and that was fun.  And she gave me pieces of her apple — I love apples.  Then Mommy dumped my whole bag of goldfish on the floor, and Gramma Linda had to use the vacuum to clean it up.  I didn’t even make a mess!

I didn’t know girls could talk so much and make so much noise.  Mommy is usually quiet and she talks with other people, but Gramma Linda likes to talk and the big girl likes to talk and make noise as she plays and I think my eyes just got really heavy.  I fell asleep on the way home even though Mommy opened all the windows so I’d stay awake.

But then I got to wake up and have lunch and play a little, and then I snuggled with Bub because it’s nap time.  And I’m too sleepy to write more, so goodnight.

Sincerely,

Me

Exciting News & Sneak Peek!

I have exciting news to share with you tonight!  Some of you are familiar with Katie Davis Majors, a young woman who moved to Uganda and founded Amazima Ministries many years ago.  Over the years she has adopted 13 girls, written Kisses from Katie, married her husband and had her first little boy.  Amazima Ministries has many facets but the goal is to educate and empower the people of Uganda with God’s love.  And they do just that!

Back on one of my first trips to Belize, a friend recommended Katie’s blog and I started following her journey.  She was fairly new to Uganda at that point, hadn’t written her book or adopted all of her girls.  She shared stories of everyday life, ways God was working and the amazing things He was doing.

For years I’ve followed along and watched from a distance as God taught her and led her, brought people to her and created a ministry with her.  It’s been so incredibly inspiring and encouraging; especially to see another woman around my age who craves to see God and His glory.  I’ve learned so much even from thousands of miles away.

You can imagine my excitement when I learned she’d written a new book, Daring to Hope.  The book comes out this coming October, but guess what?  I applied and was selected to be on the launch team to help promote her book — and it came in the mail yesterday!

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I’m thrilled and started on the first few chapters after I put Levi down last night.  Wow.  It’s inspiring and rich.  Seeing the things Katie learned ten years ago and how God taught and shaped her, the early chapters of this book are already showing how much more He has taught her and how humble she is before Him.  He has, time and time again, taken brokenness and made it beautiful.

I can’t wait to read through the rest and let Him teach me — and I can’t wait to share with you once I’m done (which will probably be soon:)).  In the meantime, the publisher has released a public sneak peek of the foreward and first chapter; I highly encourage you to read it.  Enjoy and stay tuned!

The Strength of My Life

The little one woke up early, getting grumpy quickly.

A grocery run had to be made, which meant a car ride for a quick nap.

We zoomed around the store, dodging people and waiting for countless others who figured standing in the middle of isles was best.

He slipped and fell in the parking lot, scuffing knees and bringing tears.

Fought and fought to get back in the carseat, yelled and threw toys on the way home.

We found activities for the rest of the morning, me desperately trying to keep him busy and out of trouble.

Lunchtime came and I spun in circles trying to spread peanut butter and not step on him attached to my leg.  The messy lunch, messy cleanup, little one who just wanted to help…

Finally, naptime.

But it was a screamfest, so I spent an hour putting him down instead of getting ready for our guest that evening.

My to-do list was long and dinner needed to be prepped.  The house was a mess; Mondays are my cleaning days.

When he finally went down I snuck out and looked at the clock — 1:00pm.  And he’d be up soon enough and then we’d have company at 4:00.  I held my head on the counter and prayed.  Somehow, Lord, please help me be efficient even though I’m spinning in circles.  Please, Lord, help me finish the things that are necessary and let go of whatever else.

I sat down to make the stuffed shells.  Well, actually not; I stood at the kitchen table and an hour later wished I’d sat.  What I thought would be an easy process ended up taking much, much longer than I’d anticipated.  It was frustrating and I was interrupted — even with the little one asleep.

My legs, feet, back, everything hurt.  The business work and other tasks I’d planned to get done got moved to the next day on my calendar.

Quickly I scrubbed the toilet and cleaned the sink; dusted, shook out the rugs, swept the floor.

Levi got up, had a snack, Josh came home, and our guest arrived.  It was a nice visit with good conversation and plenty of baby kicks.  Sitting back on the couch felt lovely.

After dinner and a quick bath for Levi, Josh pushed me into the bedroom and said I wasn’t to come out for 30 minutes.  I agreed, relieved.

I fell down on the bed and opened my Bible:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation;

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the strength of my life;

Of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1 (emphasis mine)

 

The Lord is the strength of my life.  How true that is, and how it took on a deeper meaning as I lay there exhausted.

I remembered my prayers earlier, tired and not sure if things were going to get done.  I thought of all my days of motherhood, the journey that depletes physically and mentally and emotionally.  But the Lord gives strength.

He gives strength when we can’t go any further, when we’re at our limit and don’t see how we can take any more.

It’s supernatural, it really is.  We ask and He gives; He gives abundantly, one step at a time, and we keep going.  He gives us rest, sometimes when we least expect it — like Josh sending me to the bedroom for some alone time.  And He refreshes and restores even in the exhaustion.

He is good, friends!

Seeing Beyond the Pebbles

“This way Levi,” I called.  “Let’s keep walking.”

“C’mon buddy,” Josh said.

Levi stayed bent over on the path, picking up little pebbles and trying to hold as many as he could fit in his hand.

I looked around; we’d barely made it onto the path and had a little ways to go to make it into the gardens.  We’d stopped at a historic house on our way home from a photoshoot so Levi could stretch and run around.  The old house is nestled amidst trees and beautiful gardens, right on the edge of a river.  A gorgeous, quiet nook away from the busyness of town.

“Levi,” I said walking towards him.  “Let’s go so we can see the water fountain and all the pretty flowers.”

But he was content to plop himself down on the path and play with pebbles, not noticing anyone or anything else.

I stood there thinking, and without taking the analogy too far I wondered — how often do I stop myself short?  Levi had no idea that there was more fun to be had if he kept walking.  He was too focused on the pebbles in front of him.  When we walked him into the gardens and he saw the water fountain, he lit up even more and had a blast exploring.  So much so that we had a hard time getting him to leave!

There have been countless times in my life where I’ve been so focused and consumed on one particular thing that I don’t see the rest of what God’s doing, or the other things He wants me to see.  He’s so patient and faithful to help me see things when I’m ready, but I wonder how many things I’ve missed out on because I’m too consumed with what’s in front of me.

We can’t go back and relive things, and dwelling on what could’ve been won’t help either.  The only thing we can influence is how we look at things to come.  As I watched Levi and saw how thrilled he was with the pebbles, I thought of even the times I’m thrilled with certain situations or life happenings and how wonderful they are.  And could there be more?

Ultimately that’s up to God to decide and show us.  We can pray that He will give us eyes to see what He wants us to see, when He wants us to see it.  We can pray that we’ll see the bigger picture and all the rest He has in store — we can pray that we’ll see these things sooner than later, and have hearts and attitudes to handle them well.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to see more of His blessings and His gifts — sooner?  He knows what timing is best, and we need to trust that.  Yet there are certainly times we block our own sight whether we realize it or not; those are the times I pray will change.

In my own life, I pray that I’d be humbled and full of thanksgiving and peace.  We see life much more clearly when we’re aware of our humble position before such a wonderful, mighty God.  I pray He helps me see more readily His glory and workings!

Dear Diary

Hi everyone, it’s Tuesday.  And I’m sitting on my toolbox with a maple syrup bottle because that’s what Mom gave me.  The bottle doesn’t have any syrup in it though, and I wish it did.

It’s raining a lot and Mommy was going to take me to the beach but now we can’t go.  I’m bored.  But, I figured out that if I sit on my car and push with my legs I can go places.  My feet get in the way sometimes but I’m pretty proud of myself.  I still wish we could go to the beach instead, because then I can run and chase birdies.

Mommy let me play in the window though — she holds me so I can stand on the towels, and then I can see all the cars and the trees and the birdies.  And the rain.  And she helps me open and close the window, and I can play with the stick on the shade thingy.  There’s a string that she never lets me play with, even though I try a lot.  Sometimes I wait till she’s looking in the mirror (she always does, because she likes to see the other side of my face.  I don’t know why.); then I go for it and get it before she can stop me.  Except then she stops me, and I have to put it back.

Mommy says my friend is coming over soon and I’ll have someone else to play with.  That’s nice, I like my friend and sometimes Mommy gets boring.  Oh and she said I have to share my toys but I don’t know if I’m going to.

Sincerely,

Me

Happy Saturday

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Whom have I in heaven but You?

And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.

My flesh and my heart fail;

But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

A Mother’s Dream

One of the fun things about being married is sharing friends.  Josh spent a few months at a school in Colorado before we started dating, and he met quite a few wonderful people.  One of these people is Katie, and though I’ve never met her she encourages me from a distance.

She and Josh have been “Facebook friends” for a while and every now and then he’d read me one of her posts — eventually I decided I’d give a friend request a shot and see if I could read her posts for myself.  For some reason, she accepted (thanks Katie!).

Katie has two sweet kids, a boy and a girl, and another baby girl on the way.  Her middle daughter was born with bilateral club feet as well as Shprintzen-Goldberg syndrome, which is a rare disorder that I’ll let you read more about by clicking on it’s name.

While every mother faces her share of challenges, Katie has had some unique and especially trying ones.  With that in mind, I’d love for you to read one of her recent posts; I’ve copied it below, and I pray you’ll be encouraged and inspired.

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KatieM

“I have a dream. In that dream there are sweet little children gathered about me. I look rested, smiling and happy. My hair is neat and my outfit is Instagram-worthy. My kids are smiling too as they gather around, looking up lovingly at me. In that dream my husband is proud of me, and his eyes and smile show it.

But in my reality, I look worn out, tired, and maybe even a little overwhelmed. My unwashed hair has dried syrup and vomit in it; my outfit consists of my husband’s t-shirt and oversized sweatpants that need to be washed two days ago. My little ones are gathered about me, but instead of smiling lovingly at me, they are pulling my hair and begging for more juice. My husband is in the background; he is home from a hard day of work and would love a home-cooked meal, complete with a beaming wife and quiet children. But instead, I beg him in between g-tube feeds and cleaning up my two year old’s poo from the couch to please order in pizza. Of course he does, and never complains.

Motherhood is the dream but the reality is so far from perfect.

I am far from perfect. My kids are far from perfect. All the preparation in the world couldn’t prepare me for even one day as a mom. Because the needs of little children go beyond just providing food and clothing, education, good experiences and lasting memories: they are souls – spiritual beings, whose hearts need shepherding and souls feeding. And I, along with my husband, are responsible before God to do this well.

This is the part you can perhaps prepare for.

Because nothing can prepare you for the need to be alert, joyful and available to little children and a husband while running on three hours of sleep. Nothing can really prepare you for the sacrifice of 9 months of pregnancy and 3 days of labor. Nothing can prepare you for doing it all over again the next year. And then the year after that. Nothing can prepare you for the day you look at yourself in the mirror, but can no longer recognize the person staring back at you. Nothing can prepare you for the intense love, the incredible joy, the shudder of tears that overtake your whole body when you stare at your precious little ones sleeping. The love is real, it’s deep, it’s raw and it hurts. I wasn’t prepared.

But I did prepare for this one thing: the knowledge that I can do nothing without a living, breathing, real relationship with God. I can’t lead my children in the right way unless I am being led in the right way. If I am to do more than just clothe, feed and maybe even successfully avoid a few tantrums, I need to be hearing from Someone greater than my own emotions and desires. Because they are many!

I need Someone who can comfort and direct me when I feel exhaustion, frustration and even anger at this beautiful, messy thing called motherhood. The kind of relationship that offers mercy and grace when I feel like a failure and need to start again fresh. I need Him to let me know when to be silent, when to speak. When to send them to their rooms and when to just gather them in my arms with kisses. When to say no and when to say yes. When to hold my ground and when to let it go. I never thought I would be so dependent upon God on a daily basis for even the most mundane decisions. He teaches me as I go. When I don’t know what to do, or what to say, His voice speaks to me. When I feel lost, unable to handle what the dream is bringing, His spirit can lead me in that very moment. I can talk to Him and He can talk to me. We have had many, many late night conversations, just me and my Lord.

When the dream has brought disappointment and failure, HE never has, not even once. I cling to this relationship, so grateful the God I knew in the days of my dreaming, is the God of my reality. He is the dream come true. He always has been.”

-Katie Millen

Memories & A Dear Diary

Yesterday I took Levi out for a little Mommy-Levi date at a nearby trail.  It’s a trail I walked countless times when I was pregnant with him; I’d get up early and go for some peace and quiet and fresh air.  Of course, I was the only pregnant lady there at that time and I had to remind myself that it was okay to just walk and not run like I’d rather have done.  :)

But yesterday was a sweet walk down memory lane, if you’ll excuse the pun — I reminisced all the mornings I huffed up and down the inclines and the moments I’d pause to look at the water.  All the time I spent thinking about and praying for the little one growing in my belly, praying for strength and increased faith for myself as my life was about to change.  Praying that the baby would grow up to love God and serve Him foremost.

To walk those same woods with that same little kiddo was so neat.  To see it from his perspective gave it a whole new look to me.  And this time, his brother is in my belly.  I have to admit it made me laugh, walking up and down carrying not one but two little guys.  The huffing this time was a little more intense!

What a great afternoon we had.  I’ll share some photos and then let Levi share his perspective in his weekly “Dear Diary”.  ;)

 

Dear Diary

Well Mommy already told you that we went on a trail.  She had me on her back while she walked and she let me hold rocks, and then I threw them.  When she put me on her back she had to bounce me a lot to get the strappy things to fit, and I couldn’t stop laughing because it was so funny.

I saw so many doggies!  And I got to say hi to a couple of them, they were soft and wiggly.  There were other little people too (that’s what Mommy calls them) and I said hi and bye.

When Mommy was done walking was the bestest part ever.  She took me off her back and I got to go wherever I wanted!  There were some stairs at a house that I climbed, and then we ran down a hill and then there was a path with a lot of bushes and flowers that I picked.  And when we went back into the woods Mommy let me walk and play with the rocks and bridge!

I hope we go back again soon because it was so much fun.  I love when Mommy lets me go wherever I want and play with everything.

Sincerely,

Me