Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I'm Reading

I love reading. The moment I finished my classes this spring I headed to the library and got a stack of books. This summer I've read a lot and I have two books that you need to read!!

- Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker. 
 This is a quick read, I read it in a day and a half. The first half of the book is about why a family should simplify, and what is in our hearts that makes us desire stuff. It was really good and convicting. The second half of the book helped address specific areas of clutter and how to simplify. I'm not a naturally organized person when it comes to my house- I have piles of stuff laying around and it doesn't bother me. We have a garage full of junk that just sits there 90% of the year. This book encouraged me to de-own not declutter, and to make sure I am being intentional about what comes in my home. I feel that Will and I do a good job of not bringing too much into our home because we are living in a rental home. I am aware that this is not our forever house so I don't put too much pressure on myself to have it be picture-perfect. Areas where my home is prone to clutter: TOYS, clothes, and picture files.

Notable quotes: "The first (and most important) step in keeping your home clutterfree is to remove the excess possessions that are stealing your life, time and energy." (p.56) He explains that removing stuff from your house is a way to see what you value and what you are investing in. He argues that investing in people and memories is more important that things.

"There is far more joy to be found in pursuing less than can be found in owning more." (p.185). He explains how our patterns of living and spending will be passed on to our children. Are we teaching them to be content in what they have or that they need more stuff? I was very convicted on the amount of toys my kids have, and how they don't really appreciate them because there are so many to choose from.

There were really a lot of gems from this book. It's not necessarily targeted at parents, even though the title may suggest that. I would recommend it to others as a way to evaluate your heart, spending patterns, and your value of "stuff." Check out Joshua Becker's blog Becoming Minimalist for more!

-Treasuring Christ when your hands are full by Gloria Furman. 
This book!!! It was so refreshing for me. Such a good reminder about the gospel in motherhood. I was encouraged to be intentional in my relationships with other moms, and that we would be building each other up in the gospel and not just having girl friends who can relate to us as moms. I was convicted that my main role as a mom is to prepare my now-toddler kids for adulthood and a life devoted to Christ. I was encouraged to look at the daily ins and outs of motherhood through the viewfinder of the gospel. I was reminded that no sacrifice or hardship that I make as a mom compares to that of what Christ has done for me in It was so good, yall.

Notable quotes: "The world is brimming over with false hopes and nearsighted dreams for motherhood, but Jesus endures forever." (p.47).

"We need other Christian women in our lives to help us grasp how wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Jesus. Compartmentalizing our spiritual life away from our interactions with other women is unhelpful and spiritually damaging. When we relegate our fellowship with other women to discussions of fleeting things and avoid talking about how eternity is pressing on our heart, we're not doing ourselves or our friends any favors." (p.43).

"There are times when we are not motivated by the love of Christ, and we fume at our children not because they break God's law but because they break ours." (p.89). Wow - ouch. This chapter hit me as I was reminded that so often I serve my family without grace and on my own terms.

"More relevant than our mothering choices or strategies is whether we are walking in a manner worthy of him, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10)." (p.98). This was particularly convicting to me as I am processing how to wean Edith. I've been very caught up in it, but am I spending as much mental effort in knowing God?

Both of these books are ones I intend to revisit regularly. Check them out!

*I wasn't paid or perked to post about either of these books. Amazon links included are NOT affiliate links, just thought they would be helpful.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Engage JSU Leaders Retreat (End of Bday Celebrations)

Last weekend we had the joy of taking 20ish of our college leaders (small group leaders and band) from our ministry to Loachapoka, Alabama for a leader's retreat. From Friday night to Saturday night we had the opportunity to "retreat" from the world and just pray, soak in scripture, and prepare for the upcoming year. It was very special because two influential college pastors, Matt Dean and Trace Hamiter, came to teach our students. Matt married me and Will and he and Will are kindred spirits. He was able to share his story with our students and I think we were all encouraged in different ways. Saturday morning, Trace came over and reminded us of the importance of knowing scripture and how to make a plan to memorize it. Both sessions were so encouraging to me!

I am thankful that I was able to participate in the retreat a good bit. I (and the kids) traveled back and forth to my parent's house in Opelika. The upside was that we were able to have one final birthday celebration with my family and I got to see both of my brothers. I didn't take a single picture in Opelika but it was fun, and I learned that I am awesome at bocce ball!

After naptime, I took the kids back to the retreat and it was great time spent with such special people. Will and I are so thankful to be involved in this ministry and we are really excited to see what the Lord will do this year. Of course, traveling with kids is always complicated. There are interruptions (an unnamed child passing gas during the pivotal prayer moments) and more baggage but it is such a blessing to me for my kids to be around students that love the Lord and love us. This is a good season for us and I'm really thankful for God's goodness to us here. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Edith Bday Celebrations: Smash Cake Fun

Will's mom made Edith's smash cake and sent it home with us when we met in Birmingham. We decided to let her have her cake last Sunday afternoon while it was still nice and fresh! She loves the icing and was already into her cake before I was ready with my camera!

 Will was worried that she wasn't getting messy enough. So he put her face in the cake! This was her reaction.

Thanks for the cake GaGa! Edie you definitely inherited your mama's sweet tooth!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Edith Bday Celebration: Birmingham with McGees

Edith received a true "birthday week" of celebrations! Last Saturday we met Will's parents and sister in Birmingham for a trip to the McWane Center Children's Museum, and then we went to his Gran's nursing home for a little party.

 According to McGee tradition, Will's mom made Edith's cake! It was a really fun day with family and I'm thankful that we could make some good memories with the little cousins and extended family.

What a good start to our Edie birthday celebrations!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Aging Out, Special Ed, and Spiritual Slacking

I've talked about this a little bit before... but Israel is approaching his 3rd birthday and thus he will be aging out of early intervention. I'm so incredibly thankful for United Cerebral Palsy and the amazing team of therapists and teachers that Israel has worked with over the last two years. It's daunting to think about moving forward without those women.

I have recently begun meeting with our local school's special education program. It never gets easier to talk about milestones your child isn't meeting or how your child is behind socially or developmentally. Filling out forms about what your child can/ cannot do is a hard thing emotionally. I fought tears during our referral meeting because I was enrolling my child in special ed. I don't want to think about how other kids could make fun of him or how I can't always be there to support and protect him.

I'm hopeful for Israel's future - I have to be. I want him to walk, talk, interact with others, play appropriately with toys, etc. It is hard to think beyond this season right now, but sometimes I let my mind drift to the future. I am reading Treasuring Christ When your Hands are Full by Gloria Furman. In chapter 3 she reminds moms that our children will one day be adults and although it may be hard to remember that our kids are little image-bearers of Christ right now; we are entrusted with nurturing our kids to love God and honor him (rephrased, page 51). I had to stop and think about that when it came to Israel. I fail so often to think of what part Israel will play in knowing and honoring God. I make it about his journey - how God is/will be glorified through Israel's miracles and development and redemption story. But do I take it seriously that Israel can one day understand salvation and be able to share it with others? It's hard to be in that place when he can't talk and our conversations are one-sided. I was explaining this to my friend Robin and she encouraged me to still speak the gospel to both of my kids, even when they can't understand or talk back, because it is a reminder for my own heart as well, and I have no idea what Israel is actually comprehending. In sum: I wonder about Israel. I wonder if he will get married, if he will go to college or ever care that he is adopted... and I wonder if I will hear him confess with his mouth and believe in his heart that Jesus is Lord. With my whole heart I hope that both of my children will know and love God.

So I guess this is just a hodge podge of where my brain is regarding Israel. This approaching 3rd birthday and transitions into the school system (with new therapists and a new schedule) is a little overwhelming to me. I'm choosing to trust in God's sovereignty in all of these areas. I know that no amount of worrying or planning will change how things shake out in the next year. We would appreciate your prayers for all of us in the transitions ahead and as we work towards our goals for Israel (developmental and spiritual!). 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Walk in the Park

We're trying to get out and about more with Israel's new walker. It's difficult for me to do it alone because Edith is not yet walking independently, and Israel needs some guidance in his walker. I'm looking forward to the day Edith is able to walk so that I can help Israel. The other day Will and I took the kids to the park. Israel walked around this big wooden train and even walked from the train area to the swings (which is pretty far!). I'm really, really proud of him. He got a little tired of walking at the end but he persevered. It was a sweet reward to get to swing after all that work!

I'm really thankful for the progress he's making, and thankful for sweet memories with both of my kiddos. 
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