Friday, March 16, 2012

One of Many Reasons that I LOVE the Topeka Zoo

There really are a TON of things that I LOVE about the Topeka Zoo! I love that it is small enough that my little ones can walk all the way through in less than 2 hours. Today we did it in less than 1 hour as Daddy was with us and was hungry, but we still got to see everything and didn't even fell rushed (well I didn't, anyway).  The animals are CLOSE, so 9 times out of 10 you get to see ALL of the animals.  Today we could even see the claws on the black bear.  This is not something that we can often say.  All four of them were out and roaming.  My favorite memory from the day, though was watching my super brave 4 year old FEED THE GIRAFFE!  It was awesome! Sarah fed them as well, and I really tried to encourage Jake to feed them, but "I don't wanna feed the giraffe." was all he could say. Now he is telling me he wasn't scared, and in all fairness, he didn't cling to me and cry.  I so wish I had a picture of his face looking ALL of the way up at the tallest giraffe.  The memory is priceless!

Another great thing about the Topeka Zoo is it's close proximity to Gage Park (it's actually located inside of Gage Park) which might be one of the best parks in Kansas!  There are "statues" of animals that the kids can climb in, on and through.  The kids had a lot of fun getting eaten by the crocodile and climbing on the whale...The whale was my favorite, since I can remember playing on it as a kid!

The back of the whale

The head of the whale 

And the necessary swing picture from each trip to the zoo!

Monday, March 12, 2012

4th Birthday Party

On Saturday, March 10th, we held a birthday party for our 4 year old at our house. For the first time, EVER, I wasn't worried about the amount of kids in the house or the number of people brought together. All of my favorite people (that were in town at the time) were at our house, and it was WONDERFUL! I can only praise God for the sense of peace that I had leading up to and during the party. It was an extremely casual affair, 'cuz that's how we roll, but I thought that it was great! There was a pinata... 

There were presents. There was food. There was CAKE!!!

I only wish that I had gone around and taken pictures of my people! You know the ones...the friends that get you through all of the ups and downs in life. It was wonderful to have them all together and all of the kids together and just have some fun celebrating an awesome, amazing little girl that is almost 4!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Submitting to the enemy

Yes, you read that correctly!! Submitting to the enemy is something that I am becoming increasingly aware that I do on a regular (if not daily) basis. On Wednesday night, during bible study, Beth Moore talked about when we listen to the enemy. As she spoke, I heard her say that at first the enemy speaks softly to us, filling us with doubts, perhaps something more. For me, I think that he is even more subtle. The enemy repeatedly tells me that I am too busy, that there are things more important than that. And almost every day, I listen to him and submit to him. How else would you explain why we are 3/4 of the way through the best bible study that I have participated in, to date, and I have not even completed 1/3 of my homework?!? God must have something really important in this study for me to learn, something that the enemy wants to hide from me...

It hit hard when I realized what I am doing. I have been going in the wrong direction for awhile. Sure, I have had moments where I was so close to God that I could immediately discern the presence of the enemy (he spends a lot of time in the hospital), but lately, as the seeming urgency of prayer has waned, as life has started to return to "normal", as we are getting back into our day to day lives, it has become muddled. I ever so slowly started to listen to the enemy about more and more things. God wants me to have victory!! He wants me to have victory in all of the aspects of my life. This includes my prayer life, especially, but doesn't exclude my health or my home.

Beth also said that while the enemy is more gentle in his attacks at first, as we resist, he gets more and more forceful and more and more beligerant, turning to full-on attacks to our character, our hearts and our very being. I  have noticed that. Perhaps, that is why I have started to give in and listen and submit the first time, before he gets mean, before he gets outwardly confrontational... I do hate conflict, you know.  I typically throw in the proverbial towel the minute something gets hard of uncomfortable. I have played into the idea that life in Christ should be easy, after all, God is on my side. The problem is, God doesn't promise it will be easy. We will have hardships (Acts 14:22). We will have trouble (John 16:33.

I shouldn't take the "easy for now" path, I need to take the "path less travled"'s less traveled for a's hard!!! But as Beth said during the study, there are promises at the end of the path. Not just any promise, mind you...God's promises!  Just take a look at Jeremiah 29:11... "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. "  Tell me again, why I've been submitting to the enemy, when I could be submitting to THAT!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Have you ever had a moment when you were both proud and a little embarrassed?  I took 2 of the kids to Target to buy a birthday present for tomorrow's birthday party, and had asked my oldest daughter to clean up her room while I was gone. 

When I came home, she was online, looking at this... She was on step # 7. It was a proud moment, as she has seen me do this many times before, looking for a detailed list of how to clean the bathroom, kitchen or other room, so she was doing as she had learned by watching me.  She watches me!  :)

But, then the doubts started to creep up from that little dark place where doubts hide.  I was also a little embarassed.  I should have taught her the correct way to clean her bedroom, right?!? Shouldn't she know what she needs to do first, second and so on to get her room clean? 

After a moment, I realized that I am doing my job as a mom. I may not teach her everything she needs to know about how to clean a room, or cook a meal, or even everything she needs to know about God, but I have taught her where to find what she needs to know. She knows that you can look online to get detailed instructions for cleaning up around the house, but more importantly, she knows that you open up your Bible to learn about God. 

Want to know the best part?

Now, she can find her Bible!

31 Days to Clean: Day 2, Part 2

After the cookies were baked, decorated, and half eaten, the kids started bouncing off of the walls and decided to start playing with the couch cushions.  Ordinarily I would turn into "monster mom" and insist that they clean up the mess RIGHT NOW.  Instead, I made a suggestion.  I'll be honest. I had moments where I wondered what on earth I was getting myself into, I mean...there is still laundry to do and we really need to run to the store for a gift for tomorrow's birthday party, but I took a deep breath, joined in their play, and asked if they'd like to build a fort. Joy spread across their faces and through the house as they collected nearly every single one of the pillows and blankets in the house and created this...

The door is right there underneath Spiderman's foot.

But, check out the inside...

Their completed fort had 5 rooms, one for each of them and a "courtyard" area. The squeals of delight were wonderful to hear and the mess?'s just part of the work of homemaking AND play.

It's the smiles that make it ALL worth it!

Now, I need to get on with Martha's the fridge and freezer. EEK!

31 Days to Clean: Day 2, Part 1

Day 2's Mary Challenge from asks me to think about how I can make my home come alive...

Wow! With 4 children, it feels like our home is always "crawling" with life, but I think that the point is really trying to figure out how to "live" in the middle of our lives. How do I "create life" in the midst of the regular activities? How do I elevate our home from just getting through the day to day and toward LIVING?  I know that it has a lot to do with my priorities. It means letting go of some of my before mentioned perfectionistic tendencies and moving towards involving my children more in the  work of homemaking. It also means that I need to get more involved in the work of play.

So, today Auntie Ashley came over and we baked some "unvalentine" cookies.  We all had a great time decorating the sugar cookies with a sweet butter frosting dyed purple, yellow or pink. It was nice to let go and not worry about what the kids cookies look like or how much frosting ends up on the cookies...or doesn't and just enjoy the moment.

Sometimes when you let go, you get cookies like this...  

And sometimes, you get cookies like this...

 But you almost always end up with faces that look like this...

or this...

We all had a great time! I wonder if the kids noticed the difference...

Friday, February 24, 2012

31 days to Clean: Day 1

Yesterday, I started reading a book that I saw advertised on one of my new favorite blogs,  The book is called 31 days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way, written by Sarah Mae. You can find it here:  As I was thinking about the real message I want to convey to my friends, family and children regarding my wannabe quest to become a "true" homemaker, the Holy Spirit quietly reminded me of the Mary challenge from Day 1 of Sarah Mae's book. I think that is a great place to start for me...

So, why do I want a clean home?

I don't really want anyone who walks through my doors to bow down and praise me on my highly organized rooms and "so clean that you can eat off them" floors, do I?  No! Not really.  It would be nice to know where things are when I need them, but it is more than that!

What I really want is a haven. A clean home would free up my mind, so that I can get busy creating that haven, and the memories that come with it, without being bogged down with all of the to-dos dancing around in my mind.

I want our home to be the big sigh of relief at the end of the day for my husband and children, the place where all who enter feel welcomed, appreciated and loved. I'd like for them to feel so loved that they leave with an abundance of that love to give away. I want our home to be an ever so slight whisper of a hint of heaven on earth, so that those who reside here and those who visit can't wait to come back, whether it be for hugs, giggles or brownies.  I want those who don't know Jesus to leave with a hunger for knowing him, this is, if they don't exit walking hand in hand with him.  That home doesn't look a certain way. You can't find that home in Better Homes and Gardens, Contemporary Living, or even on Pinterest. That home has a feel to it that is God-breathed. The only way to get that home is for me to stay so close to God on a daily basis that His spirit flows through me and into all that I do.  Forget what I said before about a perfect home and the perfect woman. I don't really want that at all. That woman doesn't even know that she needs Jesus! That woman just might think that she is Jesus.  

Joshua 24:15 As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord... and I will start at home with a  servants heart for my family