Friday, September 23, 2016

uninvited {book review}

I have to admit, when I began Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst my attitude was a little smug: I don't need this book! I like the concept of it, but I feel great about myself and I love my friends! I am so loved!

Then I remembered there are moms I hide from, or avoid, or don't try to get to know because they scare me.

Last year I needed almost the entire school year before I would talk to a mom because she seemed so put together. Turns out she's really nice! And I can now say "hello" to her without feeling scared.

This year I watch little ones while their mamas attend Bible Study and a fellowship group. The mamas all look so fresh, their clothes are so cute, and they all have ankle boots (booties? is that what we call these?) and now I think I need a pair ... but please don't expect me to wear makeup. Please. I just can't. I don't know how.

And there I go again - assuming other moms won't like me because I don't look or dress like them.

So yes, turns out I needed this book, because maybe all of these feelings and thoughts inside of me come across on the outside without me realizing it and maybe, just maybe, people are scared to approach me.

Feeling rejected is hard.

Being rejected is hard.

In Uninvited Lysa steps into that hard, raw, really painful space of rejection and applies Biblical truth to deep wounds.

I read Uninvited as an e-book, which was really hard for me because I wanted to write all over it. I took four pages of notes instead. I know, I know, you can highlight and mark passages in e-books, but it's just not the same!

A few things I LOVED about Unvited:

The reminder that "people can't be our soul-oxygen." We have to fill our hearts with the truth that Jesus loves us, because expecting love to come from outside ourselves will just leave us feeling disappointed and rejected.

We need to be in His word before we get into the World and its messages so that what is at the forefront of our minds is His message. I've been getting up in the morning, leaving my phone on the nightstand, picking up my Bible and starting the day with that. I am not allowing myself to touch my phone until I get the Word in front of me, and the kids, because I want His word to be the first thing I encounter every day.

Scarcity Thinking vs. Abundance Thinking: We think, if she gets that - house, job, car, husband, life - what is left for me? whereas God promises He has a plan and path uniquely set out for everyone.

Being given Biblical tools and resources to help me understand rejection, relationships, and how to communicate better. I am not in the middle of any friendship crisis right now - YAY!! - but if I am ever again in a place where things are falling apart with a friend I am going to use this book as a guide to get us both through with intact hearts and souls. Uninvited has useful and applicable advice on how to handle challenging relationship situations well.

I received this book from BookLook bloggers in exchange for a fair review 

Monday, September 19, 2016

when mountains move {book review}

I have to be honest: when I see a Christian publishing house imprint on the back of a novel I usually put that novel back on the shelf, but after reading When Mountains Move by Julie Cantrell I want to give more fiction put out by Christian publishing houses a try!

I didn't realize When Mountains Move is a sequel, so there were moments when I was a little lost, but I still found Millie's story engaging and interesting.

When Millie marries Bump Anderson she attempts to leave her past behind and begin a new life with him in Colorado. However, Millie is unable to bury the past completely and has to find a way to make her marriage survive the secrets she has kept.

Cantrell's honest writing about the difficulties of motherhood, especially in an isolated situation, rang true for me. The first year of a baby's life can be so hard on a marriage and Cantrell does an excellent job exploring the tension and troubles of that time between Bump and Millie.

When Mountains Move is a quick, enjoyable read. I was captivated by the story, and was surprised to find the story to be less predictable than I expected. I have to go back and read the first book so I can understand the full story behind Millie and her life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

thoughts on hearing loss, books, music and early intervention

 I was reading and singing to Ainsleigh before bed a few nights ago when the idea for this post popped into my head. When Ainsleigh was first diagnosed with unilateral hearing loss (she is profoundly deaf in her left ear) I didn't want to have anything to do with the community of parents raising kids with hearing loss. I was done being part of a parenting group that was set aside because something was wrong with their child. I'd been to Holland when I expected a vacation to Italy. I had no idea what country I landed in after Ainsleigh's brith, but I knew I didn't want to see that essay again. I wanted to raise my baby without being labeled a hearing loss parent. I was already a loss parent. I didn't want to add to my resume of perceived failures.

But even though I didn't want to join the community I was still pulled in because Ainsleigh needed support. Ainsleigh needed an audiologist and speech therapist. She needed regular testing and in home care to help her develop language. And even though I didn't want to need support, I did.

I thought I had to be fine with Ainsleigh's hearing loss simply because she was alive, but once we were knee deep in hearing aid battles and delayed development fears I realized being fine wasn't going to be possible. Raising a child with hearing loss is hard and frightening, even if you've been through harrowing parenting journeys before.

There are parenting networks for parents who have deaf/hard of hearing children. I haven't joined one. I lean on our audiologist and speech therapist as well as my family, friends, church and husband.

Even though I haven't reached out to anyone beyond a pumpkin patch visit last fall for parents of deaf/hard of hearing children (which was actually really good for Ainsleigh) I wanted to write about my experience a little bit. Because maybe there's someone who needs to know they are not the only one who has struggled with putting a hearing aid on a determined one-year-old (tip: flip your kiddo on their side across your lap, gently hold them down with one arm, and get it in). And whether or not I want to be in the deaf/hard of hearing group I'm IN. And Ainsleigh needs me to be IN so that she can grow and thrive.

Which she is.

Ainsleigh is doing remarkably well with her speech and language considering she has significant hearing loss in one ear. I think some of that is up to me because I am the one who sat with her day in and day out and put her hearing aid in over and over and over when she was a baby. But I am also the one who left her hearing aid out for six weeks when we moved, so it's not all me!

Early intervention as well as exposure to music and books has been instrumental in helping Ainsligh succeed.

If you are dealing with a child who has hearing loss READ to them. Every. single. day. For as long as they will hold still, and even when they're not holding still. Don't skip words. Don't stick to board books because they're not yet 1 or 2. Turn on audio books when they're busy playing in their room. Take them to the library, let them pick picture books, and then read when they're at the table, in the bath, before bed, before nap, playing on the living room floor, etc.

Read beyond picture books. Read non-fiction, magazines, early chapter books and poetry. This evening I read poetry to Ainsleigh while we slowly drifted off together. I eventually had to lever both of us out of the rocker and put her to bed because we were so sleep drunk on soothing words and calm rhythms we could hardly keep our eyes open. It's a soothing way to end the day and it fills her brain with rich language right before she drops off to sleep.

I am not saying I am the most amazing parent EVER, but I have seen so much benefit in my children's lives because we inundated them with books from birth.

Along with reading every day, sing to your kids. All day. Even if you are like me and cannot carry a tune. We have been really lucky to connect with an amazing music program and teacher (Music Together) but if your family doesn't have that option you can still sing and expose them to music every day. I love ending the night with Ainsleigh snuggled in my arms, or in her bed, while I sing and she listens. When the house is quiet and Ainsleigh is listening to me read and then sing in very close proximity she can glean far more information about words and sounds than she can when it's midday and I'm trying to explain something and her brother is rocketing around the house.

I often tell my children that every single human wandering this earth is experiencing some difficulty or challenge in their lives, but it is also up to each individual how they deal with and grow from their particular challenge. I am hoping to teach my kids they don't have to be limited by their challenge (food allergies for my son, hearing loss for my daughter) through exposure to books and music, which in turn exposes them to the wonder and beauty of the world we live in.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

we remodeled a bathroom!!

Well, okay, we are mostly done remodeling the small bathroom. We're still trying to find the perfect shower door, but we are otherwise done!

This is what we started with. This is the best complete before shot I could find - thanks honey! It looks really bad!!

Then Jon took everything out. Except the shower. It is a custom size (very small) which earned it the right to stay.

Then Jon worked and worked and planned and created and built and built and built and I stressed out about EVERYTHING and didn't like ANYTHING and worried we would never find flooring. And then this weekend it all came together beautifully and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. It's really hard to get a good picture of this tiny bathroom, so you'll just have to come on over and check it out!

Jon had so many problems with this shower! It is not what I had in mind, but it turned out great and I am so glad the brown and tan duck tiles are gone (unfortunately we do not have a before picture of that!)

I love the creative and beautiful vanity/mirror barn door solution Jon came up with. I couldn't find a mirror I liked so he came up with this idea. He built the vanity and mirror trim, then attached the barn door hardware. It required a lot of time and effort. I think he should be proud!

I was so happy when I discovered this multi-color and varying plank width floor! It was exactly what I wanted.

We extended the floor into the laundry area/hallway to the family room

We are going to take a couple weeks off and then it's on to the next bathroom!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

more than a mother {community post 5}

Tonight I am in awe of how much has changed and shifted in my life in the last year. Agreeing to listen to the Lord and be in community has led me to paths and trails I never expected to come across, or even knew I wanted.

Much has been written about how important it is to make time for oneself when one is a mother, but that is much easier said than done in my experience. Most evenings I am worn out and done. I don't want to go out. I don't want to find clothes that match, or put on anything other than pajamas.

And yet this week I went out after the kids went to bed last night and tonight. What's even more surprising is that I wanted to go. So often I make plans and then when the time comes to go I'd rather stay home and read. I love you friends, I really do, but I often prefer to be alone after a day of the kids hollering demands and smothering me with love (there is nothing as intense as toddler love is there?).

Last night I went over to a friend's house for our first Bible study meeting. For YEARS I've wanted to dive into the Bible with a friend who is more spiritually mature than me and learn more about my faith, but I have never made steps beyond praying to make it happen. I think it's rare that praying without doing leads to results, but in this case being utterly lazy eventually worked out for me.

And I met this friend through the community group that we learned about and joined when we met the pastor who hosts it when we moved into this house and discovered the left behind washer (full story here) See the thread? God is amazing at weaving those threads, but it takes so many years to get from one point to another I often forget to follow along and be amazed at His hands working in my life.

This evening I went on a walk with one of the moms I met through B's preschool program. A few weeks ago she mentioned we should get together without kids and I jumped on that idea. I invited her and another mother who lives close by to walk Tuesday evenings with me and I can't wait to keep going as long as the weather cooperates. It is so nice to have a conversation without being interrupted.

Knowing Bible study time, or an evening walk, is coming up helps me have energy to get through the day, and it provides a boost for the next day as well. My patience runs thin with the kids at the best of times, but when we're in the middle of a big project like we are now it's even harder for me to stay present, calm, and kind because I don't get a break when J comes home.

Adding time to my evening to walk and study the Bible with new friends adds another ring to my circle of community, and it's one I am really enjoying. I am hesitant to change and reluctant to grow, but following the Lord's prompting has led me to new experiences and opportunities. I still have the friends I did before we moved, before B began school, and before we joined our community group, but it seems like every few months another community ring is added and the work the Lord is doing in me increases.

I'm learning that what I want more than anything is to be known. To know my neighbors (still working on that one) to know the mothers I see at drop-off and pick-off, to know my closest friends, my family, my kids, my husband. It's not enough to move through every day with superficial words of greeting and surface conversations. I want to build relationships so when life goes sideways - or conversely when life goes really, really right and all the dreams come true at once and a cascade of answered prayers fall into place - I can be there and either show compassion or cheer loudly.

And I finally have the confidence to be honest, to ask the hard questions, to invite people into my life because I understand I am completely known by God. People may reject me, or my ideas, but He won't. So far every person He has encouraged me to approach, and every situation He has placed in my life as I pursue the idea of community, has yielded fruit and unexpected benefits. I'm excited to see where the thread goes from here, what God has in store for me next.

Do you feel known? Do you feel accepted in your community? Do you feel invited into other's lives? How do you feel about community and friendship? What role does it play in your life?

Friday, August 12, 2016

lost in the remodeling dust

I don't really feel like we've had a summer. We are in the thick of things on the small bathroom remodel, there's a lot of life stuff going on, and we haven't stopped to do anything fun.

So this morning I loaded up the kids and headed for the beach. I hate taking on solo trips by myself, but the beach isn't too far from us - just over an hour - and we have a great spot we go to that has a shallow stream. Chasing two kids around the roaring ocean waves isn't very fun, but finding a nice spot along a shallow river on the beach is perfect for me. Today my hands were very full, and the kids didn't care in the slightest about seeing the ocean, so we didn't even attempt cresting the small rise for a view. We walked straight to the stream and crashed with all of our things.

I went all out for our trip. I hauled every sand toy we own, as well as the giant beach ball, and packed extra outfits for everyone (although I forgot my extra clothes bag and had to buy an overpriced sweatshirt from the market so I didn't freeze while we waited for the fog to burn off). I stopped at the store for chips, chocolate and watermelon and let them eat that for lunch. I didn't even add turkey or cheese to the menu even though I packed it. I let them eat out of bags and containers, food mixing with sand and cold water from the stream. I let them be messy and busy, I let them wade a little deeper than I was comfortable with, and wander a bit farther than I normally do.

Instead of sitting at home searching for bathroom vanities and flooring while the Olympics played in the background and getting frustrated when the kids asked for snacks (every hour - seriously) I spent the day on the beach watching them splash, build sand castles and make friends.

By this time next month B will be 5 and we'll be back to the school year schedule. August is for beach trips and blackberry picking. Splash parks and hikes in the cool woods. Time spent outside before the seasons change and draw us back indoors.

Bathrooms can wait. Finding bathroom vanities and flooring can wait (I am SO ready to hire a designer). Dishes, laundry, and watching the Olympics can wait. My babies will be 3 and 5 this fall. Now is the time to soak them in and enjoy our days together.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

hope unfolding: grace-filled truth for the momma's heart {book review}

I feel like I've read a lot of books in this vein lately. Like it's popular to write about how hard it is being a mom and how we all feel overwhelmed, but with Jesus moms can do it!

Which is not to say there isn't truth in that!

I am a) a mom and b) overwhelmed and c) so glad I have Jesus to guide me as a parent.

And where some of the books in this category have been a little overdone, Becky Thompson does a nice job of being honest about her life while imparting Scripture based tips on how to mother with faith and joy.

I read through Hope Unfolding on my own, but I would like to go back through it with friends and talk about some of the topics Thompson unpacks. Thompson writes on everything from feeling alone, to feeling insecure, to comparison mothering, to how mothers can rely on God and learn to tune into Him and away from the negative broadcasting that comes from the Enemy.

Thompson's writing about her day to day life is engaging and fun which keeps the book interesting.  After reading Hope Unfolding I wanted to recommend it to my mama friends because it's a great reminder that while parenting young ones is lonely mothers are not alone.

I think this review would be more enthusiastic/longer if I wasn't so tired from getting up with Ainsleigh so many times last night! I guess it's the perfect book for me right now as I feel really worn out and ready to resume the fall/preschool/more scheduled routine in a few weeks!

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."


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