Priorities

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Man, life gets busy.  Doesn’t it?  I mean, seriously.  I sat down to lunch with a dear friend yesterday.  She moved to Michigan almost a year ago.  But as we talked, we realized a full year went by between when I saw her last and their move.  Because as we also discussed, the years fly by, but the days go by so slow.  ‘Tis the season.  We have a four and a half year old, and a two and a half year old.  The hours between when room time is done and when bed time arrives are the longest of the day.  They typically include a lot of extreme emotions, too – lots of laughter, and lots of screaming and crying (and that’s just the kids… not to mention the rollercoaster I ride with them…)  And it’s honestly so hard to get up every day, knowing the rollercoaster awaits, and look at my to do list and to prioritize what is really important, and what is fluff that can wait til the next day.

Y’all!  Please tell me I’m not alone in this struggle.  Stephen Covey makes it sound so dang easy.  Oh, just put things into categories, and then go with it.  It doesn’t matter how many cute stickers I put in my planner, y’all.  Some days, I don’t just use them.  I don’t write down all the things that need to be done because they are just too many to write.  I don’t need to write “dishes” and “laundry” on my calendar every day.  No, they have become as inevitable to me as death and taxes.  Every single day of my life as a mom of two kids, those things will haunt me.  Until one day they won’t, and then I will wonder at how long it takes for the laundry to pile, and how many hours the sink will sit totally empty.  And I’ll miss it.  I know I will.  Because I spend time with friends who are empty nesters, and they tell me to treasure these moments.

So I’m trying.  I try to prioritize my kids needs first.  I’m trying to stop and take time to build with magnets and play with trains and push them on the swings.  Because work and housework and responsibilities like paying bills and planning church lessons are all a means to an end.  They are good things.  Things that need to happen because I have committed myself to them.  But those things will amazingly still be there to do when the kids are long gone.  They won’t be little forever.  As evidenced by the fact that we have now lived in this house five and a half years… we’ve been married eight and a half years… and our two beautiful babies aren’t babies any more.  Time keeps marching on.  As I sit and type this, the house is silent.  It’s just the hum of the refrigerator, the bubbling of the fish tank, and… the ticking of the clock.  Because time is marching.  Always.

This past week in my Bible study at church we heard some amazing words from Beth Moore.  She read a survey question from a mom that hit me.  This mom said “You’re only as happy as your saddest child.”  Beth went on to say that when we lean on God, “[He] can take our mourning and turn it to wild dancing.”  That really has resonated with me.  Because I so often get caught up in the fears and sadness of whatever emotional rollercoaster my kids are riding.  And then I realize that it’s my job to help them lean on Him to help get off the ride.  Granted, Gray is too young to understand, but Becca is very much in tune to talking to God and asking Him for help.  So I guess all of this is to say that this week I have started realizing my number one priority is to lean on Him, and to put my kids in a close second – teaching them to also lean on Him.  Everything else is just details.  They fall way down the priority list.  Because really, if I lean on Him, and teach them to lean on Him, everything else will fall into place.  No, the dishes won’t do themselves, and sadly neither will the laundry.  But I will find strength to do the things that need to be done when I FIRST place my trust in Him.  It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, but it IS the most important.

How are you prioritizing your life?  It’s a challenge to remember to keep God first.  Sometimes it’s hard to even put the kids above all the chores!  It’s a daily struggle.  As Beth Moore says (in her Esther study), “It’s tough being a woman who feels responsible for the ‘how.'”  But y’all, the beautiful truth she goes on to share is what has gotten me through this week.  She said, “Girlfriend, we are called to OBEDIENCE, not to figure out how to solve everything!”  Isn’t that beautiful?  Read it again.  We are called to OBEDIENCE, NOT to figure out how to solve every problem.  So put God first.  And let Him organize the rest of your priorities.  Because all those things are important.  Friendships are important.  But when you listen to Him, He will bring you back together with a long lost friend at exactly the right moment.  Trust me.  That’s exactly what happened to me this week.  It all works out because He’s got the details.  Let Him handle your priorities.  When the emotional and physical rollercoaster you’re riding is just too much and you feel like the drama is going to pull you into the deep, let Him come in and rescue you.  He promises He will.  And y’all, He KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Be blessed!

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A Letter of Love

Last night I watched the movie “Miracles from Heaven”… and it really got me thinking.  I wrote this letter to my son, and sent it to the special email account we created for him before he was born.  I’ve been emailing him (and his sister at her account) off and on as things come up.  And then, when he is old enough (probably 21, maybe older), I will share the email address and password with him, and he can begin to go and read these letters.  Some of them, I share here on my blog.  This is one I felt compelled to share.  I hope it is a blessing to someone.  Here’s a picture of my lil man playing with chalk paints taken this past week.  It’s hard to imagine him a grown man reading this letter, but I pray that someday he will read it, and that it will be a blessing to him.

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Hey sweet boy!

By the time you are reading this letter, you’ll be old enough to know the story of how you came to be.  The story of God’s miracle of you.  And how Mommy (and Daddy) learned that sometimes God’s answer is “no” before it is “yes.”

But this week, I’m thinking about it all over again, and I felt lead to write you this letter.  Three years ago this week, I felt you move inside of me for the first time.  It was almost like some unspoken covenant from God that THIS was the child I would carry to full term.  It was way too early for me to be feeling you, and yet, there you were – my steady kicker who moved ten times more than your sister ever had.  Your movements felt like a promise because three years ago this week was also when I was due with your first little angel sibling.  Thinking back to when we lost that baby, so very early into our pregnancy, and yet still such a raw and painful feeling… I was so desperately sad.  And then, when we lost the second just a couple months later, I was mad at God.  Why would He let me get pregnant and then take my babies away?  I’ll never understand the answer to that question.  But I do know one thing – YOU are a miracle, and every single day I treasure you just a little bit more than I probably would have if we wouldn’t have had that struggle.

Sometimes God walks us through the fire before He gives us the miracle we need… so that we will lean on Him more.  So that we will trust in Him and remember He is in control.  So that we will fully appreciate the miracle on the other side.  Because, if either of those other two babies had lived, we never would have had you.  YOU are the answer to why they weren’t meant to be.

So when you struggle in life with wondering why God’s answer is “no”… or maybe He even seems totally silent and the answer is “not right now,” I know it’s hard to be patient.  I know it’s hard to trust.  I know how easy it is to lose your faith.  Because I have been there.  But you have the distinct ability that not many people have to be able to just go and look in the mirror.  YOU were our answer to “no” and “not right now.”  Your LIFE is the perfect picture of God’s perfect plan.  Your life may not feel like it’s God’s perfect plan all the time.  But YOU ARE A MIRACLE!!  He created you with special purpose and meaning.  Back in the spring of 2013, months before you were even conceived, He had YOU in mind.  He knew YOU.  He loved YOU.  And He was planning for YOU.  He said “no” to two other babies so that YOU might live.

Also don’t lose sight of the strength that comes from the journey.  The Bible tells us that in this life we will have pain.  We will have sorrow.  But to have HOPE – because HE has overcome all the problems of the world.   And through the struggles, He gives us strength to overcome.  He teaches us to lean a little harder on Him.  And He teaches us to reach out to our brothers and sisters who struggle – to support them and be an actual physical leaning post here on this Earth.

I will never fully understand why God wanted me to have two miscarriages before having you.  It seems like everything would have been so much easier if I just hadn’t even gotten pregnant until it was time for you.  But when I look back at all of the women that I have been able to encourage when they walked through the same valley… and when I think of all of the women that I have been able to bond with by sharing my story and realizing they have walked a similar path… then I start to get a glimpse of the “why.”  When I realize how much stronger my faith became – BECAUSE I questioned God, BECAUSE I raged at God, BECAUSE I fell into a heap of emotional mess at His feet when I finally gave up – then I start to get another glimpse of God’s “why.”  When I realize how much stronger of a marriage your Daddy and I have because of the fire we walked through together, I start to get yet another glimpse of God’s “why.”  I learned that when I am weak, God has given me a very physical representation of His love right here on Earth to lean on.  Your Daddy will be strong when I need him.  He will lift me up and carry me when I can’t walk – both literally and figuratively.

Most of all, I learned that the old saying “everything happens for a reason” really is true.  But for us, we could modify it to say “Grayson happened for a reason.”  God has a reason for you.  He has a purpose for you.  Even if you don’t see it today or tomorrow or next week or six years from now.  Your life has meaning.  Your life has purpose.  Your life is special.  Go look in the mirror.  YOUR LIFE IS TRULY A MIRACLE.

I’m praying for you, my sweet boy.  Every single day.  That you will grow into the man God wants you to be.  That whoever is the woman to be your helpmate will be strong in her faith, and that she will build you up and encourage you.  I pray the two of you never have to walk through the same fires that Daddy and I have walked, but if you do, look in the mirror.  When you walk through different trials together, remember Who is in charge.  And remember that “why” doesn’t always have an answer that we can comprehend, but He is in control.  And He really does have a plan.  He loves you, and He created you.  YOU ARE A MIRACLE.  The woman walking beside you is a miracle who was created JUST FOR YOU.  Love her.  Cherish her.  And carry her through the fire.  Being broken together makes the bonds of healing so much stronger.  Your cord of three will never fully unravel when you lean on each other, and together lean on Him.

I love you, Baby Boy.  I love you, Little Bear.  I love you, Bubs.  I love you, Gray Gray.  I love you, Grayson Cody Hinnant.  No matter how old you are when you read this.  My love for you will never die.  “I’ll love you forever.  I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my Baby you’ll be.”

Love,

Mommy

Lessons from the Ironing Board

It’s been a while since I’ve had a new post.  I have lots to share, but very little time to share it in… can I get an amen?!  But yesterday I had some realizations that are so worth sharing that I’m starting writing before 6am!  Yup.  That kind of good.  At least, I hope that they impact you the way they did me.

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So I’m standing there yesterday, in my least favorite place (esp in the summertime) … at the ironing board.  I had Klove going on my phone in an effort to keep a positive attitude about my task.  But, as it will, my mind began to wander.

I started thinking about this friend of mine whose husband is a blue collar, commission based worker.  I was thinking about the times when she has mentioned that times are tough (though she isn’t a complainer, don’t get me wrong!!), and I was thinking, “at least SHE doesn’t have to iron her husband’s work shirts all the time!”  Wow.  Seriously ya’ll, that thought came to me.  And then God put that thought to work.  From there, I realized how thankful I should be for ironing those work shirts – because I don’t ever have to worry about how much Cody’s next pay check will be.  It is always the same, always consistent, always there to pay the bills.  No fear.  Wow.  We’re really blessed.

And then my mind began to wander to our other blessings – from the clothes, to the Starbucks coffee sitting on the windowsill, to the view out my window looking out over our land, and finally, to the iron and ironing board itself.  I began to think about the woman who made the shirt I was ironing.  (Hypothetically, of course, since I have no idea where the shirt was made or by whom.)  This woman – so thankful for a job to bring in money for her family, to feed her children.  How much money did she make when she made his shirt?  How much money did it take to pay the bills?  How many shirts would she have to make to come close to paying even one of them?  How old is she?  Does she have a family at 14, or is she old and frail and still having to work?

Yup, ya’ll, my mind was going deep.  Have you ever let your mind wander and sort of subconsciously said “ok God just take me wherever…”?  Sometimes it’ll take you scary good places.  Yesterday, through this mind wandering, I began to realize/remember that God puts each of us where He wants us – for a reason.  And while the grass may sometimes seem greener on the other side, we only have to look for a moment at the side we are on to start seeing the millions of wildflowers surrounding us.  They aren’t weeds needing to be pulled, they are tiny blessings that God has planted in our path to bless us!

Do I magically like ironing now?  No.  Am I looking forward to doing more ironing today?  Nope.  Do I like pulling weeds?  No.  Do I look forward to pulling the weeds invading my flower beds?  Nope.  But every. single. chore is because of a blessing, and I need only look beyond my own physical discomfort to start seeing that blessing.  What are you complaining about today?  And how can you change your view?

Just like my friend should be happy she doesn’t have to iron her husband’s work shirts, I should be thankful for consistency.  Just like I should be happy we can afford the clothes, the shirt maker should be happy that her job to make them provides for her family, however meager.  Finding joy where I’ve been planted is sometimes difficult.  When the rain and the clouds and the wild, crazy children threaten to take over my thoughts, I need only to stop and realize that the rain is a blessing.  The children certainly are blessings.  And all I really need to do is shift my perspective.

How do you need a perspective shift today?  I would love to have you comment and let me know on what things you struggle with your perspective, so I can pray for you.

 

Blog posts coming soon: Back to School, Sensory Learning for Toddlers, and Lessons from a Volcano!

A Little Bit… of Everything

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Whew.  Ya’ll, contrary to popular belief, I have not fallen off the face of the planet.  I have not blasted into outer space (though my kids HAVE sent me into orbit more than a few times lately).  I have not tunneled my way to China (though I have considered digging a hole and sticking my head in it – ostriches don’t pay attention to politics!).  Nope.  I’m still here.  It’s just been crazy around here.  The words for it might more likely be busy, insane, freakish, out of the ordinary…  And yet, through it all, we have been blessed.

My best friend was in the hospital 25 days.  Her sweet daughter who is 13 has been living with us.  In that last 25 days, we moved Grayson into his big boy room upstairs, partially set up the guest room back downstairs in what was the nursery (the rest of it is still in my balcony taunting me every time I sit at the bar or on the couch and look up), climbed Mt. Laundry more times than I can count, surfed the waves of dishes in the sink (again, more times than I can count), drove to visit my parents for four days to do a million and one fun things together, and drove across the worlds largest city (ok, I realize this is an exaggeration) practically every day we were in town to make hospital visits (and once, we even did it twice in one day!).  I’ve been prepping for back to homeschool, running my organization training on Facebook, I’m attempting to start a new workout routine (Beachbody PiYo with a friend, Kelly, coaching me!), oh, and did I mention I’m guzzling coffee like, well, like a Starbucks addict?

Yeah, it’s been crazy.  But wow.  We are SO blessed!  We have a home where each of our kids (including our adopted niece who is currently living with us) has their own personal space.  We have clothes to wear and dishes to eat off.  We have pets to snuggle with and parents/grandparents who love us and planned super fun stuff for us to do on our trip.  We have a very reliable vehicle who gets us where we need to go safely, and with some pretty great gas mileage.  We are blessed.

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And in it all, I am blessed with so many amazing friends who have been encouraging every step of the way.  Every time I walk into Gray’s room, I am reminded of the sweet friends I have from PWAT who came and spent a few hours with me to make his room simply stunning.  He is a very blessed little boy.  He has a beautiful mural to look at on his wall every day, and he has these women in his life who care enough about him to go out of their way and give up an entire day to do this for him.

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I have friends who have been praying for us multiple times daily.  That’s support that I can’t say thank you enough for.  I have friends who have simply been there to listen to my crazy stressed out self as I have vented about whatever the day’s stress is at the time.  I have friends on social media that I’ve never met in person who have stepped in and accepted the challenge to trust me as I teach them to organize their homes for homeschool.  My “adopted niece” is an amazing help with the kids, household chores, and just generally fun to hang out with.  I love her as if she was my own daughter, and our bond has gotten so strong through all of this.  We. Are. So. Very. Amazingly. Blessed.

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The heart of a servant is not one that is easily and readily available.  It is one that has to be earned through hard work and tribulation.  And yet, it is what I have been praying for.  My grandmother was a servant.  Through her passing back in February, I was reminded of how I always admired her willingness to put everyone else first.  Sometimes she did it so much that it became an issue of her not being able to think or act for herself.  I want to be an emotionally independent woman.  But I also want to be a woman who is willing to step aside and let God take the glory and do whatever work He has for me.  These last 25 days I have grown in ways I never thought possible.  I desperately pray daily for my friend to be healed.  More than once we have been given her release date only for something to come up and she has to stay in the hospital.  Then, yesterday she got to come home.  Only to have to go back today due to breathing problems.  I want to scream at God and ask Him why on Earth He would put her through this physically, and why He would put us, her family, through this emotionally.  WHY?

Why?  Because.  Sometimes He needs to hedge us in with thorns as He did the children of Israel in the book of Hosea.  Because when He hedges us in with thorns, we are reminded of He who is in charge.  We are reminded of His power.  And we are struck by the awe of Him.  We are forced to focus on the blessings because the stress is just too much to look in the eye.  So why?  Because God.  Because He has blessed us.  Beyond compare.  And it’s taken all of this for me to realize it and fully appreciate it.  And because it’s His way of teaching me how to become that servant that I strive to be. It’s not about being a Martha who daily is climbing Mt. Laundry and surfing the waves of dishes.  It’s about being a Mary and stopping in the midst of the chaos to sit at His feet and see His glory all around me.  It’s about seeing the beauty and not missing the moments of laughter.

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Mind Block

I’ve been in a slump.  A summer funk.  Enjoying life, don’t get me wrong… but seriously just not feeling like writing.  Perhaps it’s because the only thing I feel passionately about right now is something that I prefer to keep to myself – my political opinions.  I don’t like to get involved in messy confrontations or debates.  Because my opinion is my opinion, and I have it for my reasons… and your opinion is yours – for your reason.  Neither of us is going to persuade the other to be any different.  And honestly, I think that’s ok.  Because it’s important to stick to your convictions.  But when I sit down to write, it’s what pops into my head, and I just flat out refuse to take my blog to a political low.  I could go at it from the parenting angle of why I feel the way I do because of the future for my kids, but seriously, that’s still a political low.

SO, here’s what we are doing this summer.

Becca is driving me bananas because she wants school, school, and more school.  So I have pulled out some science review worksheets she can do starting tomorrow to occupy her and stave off some of that desire for school.

Gray is into everything.  And he’s talking up a storm.  He is rapidly discovering his world, and learning how to express what he’s learning.  He is easily frustrated when he doesn’t know how to verbalize his thoughts, and he cries easily.  It drives me bananas.

I have been working on reorganizing and rearranging much of the house in preparation for this fall, when we’ll be full-on officially homeschooling for Becca’s “Pre-K” year.  I decided that I never felt comfortable having toys and school stuff in the dining room, and that I wanted it cleaned out. So I did.  I have rearranged our family room, and cleaned up my office – so that my office can be our classroom – right next to where Gray can play.  But with all this rearranging and reorganizing comes the issue of all the stuff.  And, well, all the stuff we have is driving me bananas.

Notice a theme?  We could start our own zoo.  Or perhaps our own bakery. I’ve been making a lot of banana protein muffins, which the kids love.  And in an effort to cut my unhealthy snacks, I decided today to try the reduced fat cinnamon swirl bread at Starbucks instead of my usual banana bread… and I decided that it’s not worth it.  Either get the banana bread, or don’t get a snack at all.  The cinnamon swirl was ok, but slightly stale… or perhaps since it’s healthy it’s just that dry to begin with.  Either way, it didn’t fit my tastes.

I feel like I’m rambling.  But it’s good to write again.  I just wish I had a topic.  LOL.  Seriously, though, I’ve made some mini-posts on my Facebook page, so if you aren’t following over there, you’ll want to dive in and go ahead and hit “like” and “follow” – because right now the more educational content is over there.

This fall I look forward to diving back in full force over here as I work through units with Becca.  Gray starts Mother’s Day Out after Labor Day, but I may go ahead and start getting into some school routines with Becca before that.  We’ll see.  I love that we have some flexibility.

Also this fall will be our process of IQ testing and charter school lottery entering, and all kinds of other stressful parenting experiences that I’m sure to write about, so stick around, the good stuff will be back soon.  Right now I’m just working with a fried brain… the heat index of 110 tomorrow is sure to make me even more scrambled.  It’s hot, ya’ll.  Really hot.

So anyway, this was a totally random post just to write again and remind you I’m here… and implore you to stick around.  God bless, and stay cool!

This super fun and easy painting project was a mini-blog post over on my Facebook page today.  Check it out for more information!  And we'll be finishing up a project with our completed art work in the next couple of days and will share there as well!
This super fun and easy painting project was a mini-blog post over on my Facebook page today. Check it out for more information! And we’ll be finishing up a project with our completed art work in the next couple of days and will share there as well!