Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Climb

I love music, but don't ask me who sang the song I'm belting out (usually with the wrong words). I don't usually go for the cheesy hit of the month like "Butterfly Kisses," but I've been captured by, of all things, a Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus song.

For New Year's Eve the past several years, we have watched a movie with the girls and had our own celebration at home. Last night, we watched The Hannah Montana Movie (which we also saw together in the theater a few months ago). I was totally suprised by the movie the first time I saw it and found myself moved again by it. Such a great story for my kids to see. It also makes me crave that simple life without the craziness of running around all the time.

But, as much as I loved the entire movie, the thing that moved me the most last night was the song "The Climb." This one just spoke to me after such a hard year (ending with a broken phone, camera and car in the last week). I'm also not one for a theme song, but I'm breaking tradition and naming this as my theme song this year.
Here are the words:

I can almost see it
That dream I'm dreaming but
There's a voice inside my head sayin,
You'll never reach it,
Every step I'm taking,
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking but I
Got to keep trying
Got to keep my head held high

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing,
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down but
No I'm not breaking
I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm going to remember most yeah
Just got to keep going
And I,
I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on, cause

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I'm gonna to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb (yeah)

There's always going to be another mountain
I'm always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes you going to have to lose,
Ain't about how fast I get there,
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb (yeah yeah ea ea)

Keep on moving
Keep climbing
Keep the faith baby
It's all about
It's all about
The climb
Keep the faith
Keep your faith

Whoa a oh oh

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Decorating

It's taken us almost a week to do it, but I think we are finally done Christmas decorating. The girls did decide to do without a "live" tree this year so that we could donate the money. I am so proud of them! Caroline wanted to put lights around the ceiling, which we did. Even our angel found a spot on the top of our mantle. The best thing was the garland "tree" Brian made for us on the wall--it holds ornaments and everything! Love that my girls were so excited about doing this and am praying that years from now, they will remember this Christmas as the one where their eyes were opened to the world around them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You're a toot!

As I was looking through Hope's schoolwork, I came across a page where she was asked to illustrate an idiom. I wasn't sure I even knew what an idiom was until I looked at her paper. An idiom says one thing, but means another. Hope's example was "You're a toot" and she illustrated it for us. In one picture, there is a little cloud of what is supposed to be a toot (the nice word in our house for passing gas)behind a girl. Did I mention that the cloud had a bow and frowny face? In the other picture, she described what the word really meant with a picture of her standing on our couch.

What would I do without that girl's spunk?!!! The funniest part of it all--her teacher gave her a 100% on the work.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

So, driving home from work last night, I had an idea. After we finished dinner, I posed the question to Brian and the girls, "What if, instead of buying a live Christmas tree like we do every year, we give that money on Christmas Eve to support some of the things Bent Tree is doing?"

Needless to say, the initial response was tears. After explaining several times that this was not a decision I was making, but, that as a family, we would each weigh in on it, they started to calm down and listen. It doesn't mean we won't still decorate--actually, our decorating will take on a new twist. We'll put ornaments in garland and find a spot for our angel that usually sits on the top of our tree (this was actually Caroline's biggest concern--where would we put her?).

The girls started getting excited about it. Brian is still trying to find a place we can chop down our own tree for free--which would be cool, but I think the girls are more excited about being creative with our decorating this year. We still have two 3 ft trees that usually sit in their rooms that we will use, but I will certainly miss the smell of a real tree--they make air fresheners with that smell don't they?

I logged onto the Advent Conspiracy website and let the girls watch a few of the videos. They didn't grasp the fact that Americans spend 450 billion dollars every year on Christmas, while just 10 billion would ensure that the ENTIRE world would have clean water to drink. What they did grasp was seeing the dirty water and watching the kids faces when they were able to drink clean water. When they looked at where those kiddos lived, the comments of "It's not fair for us to not have a tree" were forgotten.

We may not do it. Our family may decide we are not willing to give up our tree this year, but the bigger story is that it is creating conversation in our house. It's not the outcome--whether we give $50 dollars is not going to change the world. What will change our world is 2 little girls growing up with a mindset that it is not all about me and that God has a bigger call on their lives than to live in a comfortable house feeling safe all the time. While I pray they have those things, I pray even harder that He gets ahold of their hearts and they grow up seeing the world around them through HIS eyes.

Advent Conspiracy is helping us to do that.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Outwardly, Hope appears to be a child who fears nothing. She does not back down from bullies and is the first to defend if she feels someone is being wronged. Several years ago, she and Caroline were at the play area in the mall. Caroline was not quite 2 yet, so her walking skills were wobbly at times and a boy who was probably 2 times Hope's size accidentally knocked Caroline down. Hope immediately got in front of him, looked up into his face and told him that he had hurt her sister and not to do it again. I think she truly scared him! We explained (behind hidden smiles) that bullying wasn't okay in our house, but we were also proud of her lack of fear and protectiveness of her sister.

When it comes to other things, Hope is terrified. A few weeks ago, she had some physical issues and needed to swallow a pill. You would have thought we were trying to get her to swallow a watermelon whole--she was crying and shaking so badly! After almost an hour of convincing her that swallowing a pill was only going t o help her, she finally did and saw immediate results.

The same fear debilitated her last night. Her tummy was upset and she was scared to throw up--even though her throat hurt and she felt like she needed to. She refused to do any of the things that we suggested to help her. She was convinced she was hot--even though her body was visibly shaking and teeth were chattering from being cold. We were finally able to lure her out of the bathroom and into the living room where we watched a show about extreme waterparks (to which she kept saying, "Why do people want to do that kind of scary stuff?"). After about 30 minutes of calming down, we convinced her to go to bed, but even that was a challenge and I found myself sleeping next to her for the rest of the night.

What kept going through my mind as I was watching her last night, was that this was a visible picture of me and God. In my head, I believe that God is good and that He knows what is best for me, but I refuse to follow his instruction many times because I am terrified. I kept asking Hope, "What is making you scared? Don't you believe that Mommy and Daddy want whats best and wouldn't ask you to do anything that would hurt you?"

As I was laying in a twin bed next to a restless almost-8 year old, my mind kept replayng that comment but in a different way. "Dear child, what are you so afraid of? Do you not know that I want what is best for you and wouldn't ask you to do anything that would hurt you?" What if, it turned out for me that God failed and I could no longer depend on Him? Silly thought, I know, but I think that's the root of my fear. As a mom, I can't see in the future to know for sure that my remedy will be the best one, but God does see and know the next thing ahead for me. Again, I know my rationing makes no sense to those on the outside looking at me, but I totally believe the lie.

So, my choices are to stand here shivering, convincing myself of untruths, or trust Him to take me on the next step of the journey. He knows me better than I know myself and understands my trust issues. I think He meets me where I am and asks me to just trust Him for one step--He knows I can't comprehend trusting Him for the entire journey yet. I want to. In my head, I KNOW that He is faithful and wants only good for me. Just like Hope knows that her parents love her and want her to be healthy and happy. But, I still find myself standing with teeth chattering, paralyzed in my anxiety.

The decision is mine.

Lord, I ask that you would give me the courage to trust You. That I would be willing to get out of my cold bathroom and under the warm covers to snuggle with You.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caroline earns her movie!

A few weeks ago, Brian started a new allowance program. Hope, who typically really likes money, has been unmotivated to earn hers. Caroline, on the other hand, has even earned extra. All because of the latest TinkerBell movie. She saved for 3 weeks and between allowance and Tooth Fairy money, she purchased her movie on Friday night.

I'm sure the cashier at Walmart was a bit tired of her counting out almost $14 worth of quarters, but he was patient. So cute! She was so stinkin proud of her movie and excited to have her OWN receipt.

It's so funny to watch how Caroline spends her money. She makes her decision very quickly and never looks back--like the time she chose a Chicken Webkinz, bought him a tuxedo and named him "Docter." I am amazed at how goal-oriented she is. She filled up more sticker mats in her preschool class than any other child her teacher had ever seen.

At my baby shower for her, someone prayed for her to be a "light" and that is exactly what she is. She has such passion and loves those around her with her whole heart. She is confident in who she is and always wants to help make things easier for those she loves.

What a child! I absolutely adore this little girl and love watching her grow!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rowing in the same direction

Patrick Lencioni has a saying that paraphrased says, "If you could get a group of people all rowing in the same direction, you could accomplish huge things." Just getting a team or family to row in the same direction is not enough.

In our family, I have no doubt we are headed in the same direction. While Hope's goal is to have a ranch and that might not be the end that we come to, we do still all want the same basic things.

The main rowing is going to depend on Brian and I--and we can choose to put all of our effort into rowing and miss the trip down the lake, or we can choose to follow HIS current and let Him lead us where we need to go. There will be times He asks us to row against what seems to be the right course.

Also, as parents, we have a choice. We can row for our kids or allow them to be a part of the experience with us and pick up a paddle themselves. If they decide to row with us (which is what I hope happens) then Brian and I have to make a conscious choice to change the way we row. If we continue to do big stokes, their little arms will not be able to keep up. If we put them on one side of the boat and us on the other, we may end up spinning in circles. Both have huge consequences.

If we do not allow them to row, we rob them of the satisfaction of knowing they had a part in the journey. Also, it doesn't ensure that we get to our destination quicker--if they are not engaged, chances are they will find things to do that distract us (and them) and create chaos in our boat.

So, God, please guide our little boat. Give us oars of discernment and love as we move along in Your currents, guided by Your landmarks and blow gently in the direction we need to go. Remind us of the beauty along the way and keep us excited about the destination.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Motivation and a 7 year old

So, I have this incredible 7 1/2 year old daughter. She's one of those kids that you look at and are amazed. She is a talented soccer player, a skilled artist, a smart student and to top it all off, she is a born leader.

Most things come easy to her--she doesn't have to work very hard to be one of the best at whatever she is doing. Therein lies the challenge. Because she is so good at things, she has learned that she doesn't have to apply herself very much in order to do enough to get by.

As a parent, I want her to strive to do her best--if that is a "B," then I'm truly okay with that. But a "B" is not her best--in most cases. She has an excuse for everything, and while I don't want to brow-beat her, I want her to live up to her potential. This has been a learning process for me--I used to want the best kid. Now I just want my kid to do her best.

So how do we motivate her to want to do her best? We pray for her and with her. She sees both Brian and I striving to do our best. We don't put unrealistic expectations on her. So what else is there? How do you motivate a child without tearing down or inflating her self-esteem?

If it truly does take a village to raise a child, then we have an advantage--the DFW area is a bit bigger than a village. What do you do to motivate your child? What would you do if your child were like mine? I'd love your thoughts...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Honey if you love me...

This past week, I was researching games for work and came across several that I had totally forgotten about. One of those was "Honey if you love me." This is the game where you sit in a circle and the person who is "it" goes up to one of the others and says, "Honey if you love me would you please, please smile." The other person has to reply "Honey I love you but I just can't smile" without cracking even the slightest of grins.

On the way home from soccer tonight, I explained it to the girls and they played it with each other in the backseat. After @10 tries each, Hope was finally able to say it without smiling, but couldn't do it a second time. Tons of giggles carried us home. There is something about hearing your children laugh together that makes you forget about how hard the day was or the frustrations you're facing.

I don't often just live in the moment, but when I hear them giggle--or better yet--am giggling along with them, everything else just fades. I am engrossed in that place in time and all else fades away.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hugging in the hall

Brian leaves in the morning for Wyoming. He'll be gone for @ a week---UGH! After putting the kids to bed, we had a spontaneous hug in the hallway. Hope decided she needed something (I can't remember what it was--it's different every night) and got the biggest grin on her face when she saw us standing there with our arms around each other.

She and Caroline love when they catch us kissing or hugging or holding hands and I have to confess--it's not often enough. Their eyes light up and they ask us why we don't "long kiss" in front of them.

While I am so glad they like to "catch" us, I pray that this is as normal to them as buckling our seatbelts when we get in the car or washing our hair every day. And, I am praying, even now, that they are one day "caught" by their kids hugging in the hall.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nikuze Grace

Over the last year, God has been softening my heart toward the country of Rwanda. We decided as a family to sponsor a child from Compassion International. The four of us sat around the computer and looked at the little girls available in Rwanda--where our friends Paulo and Rose were born. We chose a little girl named Nikuze Grace (or Nikki Grace, as she's been dubbed in our house). She is 5 and is in kindergarten. What a different world she lives in than my Caroline Grace!

Darlene Zschech said "We have been filled up so that we can be poured out." How true! He does not bless us so that we can sit on our blessings; He blesses us so that we can bless others. It was fun to see Caroline draw a picture of her and Nikki Grace. And Hope wants to tell her about Jesus. They, at age 5 and 7, already understand this idea of "pouring out."
As a parent, I struggle so often with how to teach my girls about blessings when they are surrounded by the money and glamour in our world. I think Nikki Grace is God's way of providing that for our family. So, while our heart in sponsoring her is to share some of our blessings with her, I believe her life will bless us even more.
Welcome to the Royal family, Nikki Grace. God is already using your life in a big way!

Monday, October 12, 2009

I did it!

Okay--so I finally did it! After talking about starting a blog for years, I have finally made the plunge. Not sure what I will write on here, but was inspired by a friend of mine to leave some lasting memories for my daughters.

I have asked myself over and over what I hope to achieve by writing a blog. I'm still not sure, but I'm tired of letting that hold me back. I don't expect to inspire anybody or post valuable info, but I do plan to be authentic--you know--like the difference between "The Girlfriend's Guide" and "What to Expect." I'm the girlfriend who will tell it like it is. Oh--and hopefully not embarrass my family too much by doing it.