My love affair….with gluten

Before I even begin this post, can I just say that I fully believe everyone is a bit sensitive to gluten.  I don’t know a single person who can eat a ton of pizza or large plate of spaghetti with garlic bread and feel amazing after.  If you’re that person, consider yourself lucky!

 

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Growing up I ate A LOT of bread and pasta.  I was constantly involved in sports and my mom worked her butt off to chauffer me everywhere along with my little brother while my dad worked nights.  That meant a lot of quick meals and going out to eat with whatever sports team was currently in season after our game.  I remember going to Burger King with my cousin often after volleyball games and getting a King size fry and pop.  As a matter of fact, I related most of my fun experiences with food, especially food containing gluten.

Going to the mall? Better get soft pretzels and cheese.

Movie theatre? Popcorn with lots of butter (and the oil that contains gluten!)

Dates with my boyfriend? Pick up pizza/breadsticks and head to a pond to go fishing.

Friday nights? Pizza, pop and babysitting with my friend

Eventually, when I was in college we would go out for a beer and then later grab some beer nuggets (GO NIU!) which is pretty much just fried bread. 

College? Beer nuggets

It wasn’t until that college/early 20’s period in my life that I really started suffering the consequences of my diet.  My husband (then fiance) deployed to Iraq for more than a year during that time, there was a terrible shooting at my college, we had some tough divorces within our family, and the stress just kept coming. My stomach was a mess and I was getting severe migraines often.

I couldn’t figure out why I could go to a cookout and have one beer then be completely ill the next day and my friends could drink a few without any consequences.  It wasn’t that I wanted to get trashed but the logic of it didn’t make sense to me.  It was as if I couldn’t function normally until everything I had eaten was out of my body.  I could almost feel it going through my system.  Stomachache/bloating, then pain in my lower abdomen along with fogginess and horrible headaches.

The years following were random doctor visits, gallbladder removal, frustration, more visits with migraine specialists, hormone specialists, GI specialists, until finally I felt like someone listened to me.  I had some testing done that revealed I did not have celiac disease (thank you God!) but after a trial and error type diet my doctor and I figured out gluten was the culprit.  I was “diagnosed” with a gluten sensitivity and I was so glad to have found an answer.

Everything started to make sense to me.  I was always terribly ill when my husband left on deployments, military schools, whatever.  That was no doubt partially  because the night before we would go out for a dinner which usually involved pasta, bread, chicken wings, or other yummy breaded appetizers.

It never failed that I would wake up with a migraine and feeling flu-ish after a night out with my friends even if I only had one drink.   Regardless of my active life style, I often felt sluggish and extremely bloated.  So, I had to take control.

That might sound easy, okay, so stop eating it.  No biggie.  Except, gluten is in EVERYTHING. At first, I was very careful, I learned to read labels and was determined to take care of myself. I did research and bought some helpful books.  I felt like “The G Free Diet” by Elisabeth Hasselbeck chronicled my life. It was nice to not feel alone. I remember being so happy to find that I could have white rice, broccoli and chicken from my favorite Chinese restaurant, until I got home and became sick.  Apparently, the sauce is filled with gluten.  I was overwhelmed, frustrated, sad and angry.  This is going to sound crazy, but I had to take time to grieve my previous lifestyle.  I had to reprogram my brain and it’s associations with food and fun. (Which is still an ongoing process!)

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I became extremely anxious when traveling because I never knew when I would become sick.  My husband stopped MANY times for me to run out of the car after eating something I shouldn’t.  I still always prefer to drive myself places for that very reason.  I tried buying everything gluten free which became very expensive and honestly not that healthy. I much prefer just eating “real” food rather than items labeled gluten free.

So, the reason this post came about is my recent chapter in this affair.  My 3rd pregnancy I could eat whatever I wanted.  I loved it.  Bread didn’t bother me, pasta was fine, pizza, chicken wings, you name it.  I wasn’t having migraines, and my stomach felt good, so I went back to enjoying foods I hadn’t enjoyed in a long time.  I wasn’t extreme but it was nice to not have to watch every little thing and then be consumed with the worry and guilt that follows.  I know this wasn’t a great choice as it was still damaging my system but I did it.  Now, after baby it’s been tricky getting back to my old lifestyle, especially during the colder months when fresh fruit and veggies are hard to come by.  If I have a piece of breaded chicken on my salad, I’m usually okay, but spending the day eating gluten containing foods doesn’t ever work out well for me.

This past week I had a day where I had a bagel for breakfast.  ( I never eat these because 1. they used to be one of my faves , 2. I begin my morning feeling sleepy after eating them) I was thinking okay, I’ll have this and no more today.  Lunchtime rolled around, we were in a hurry and I had dino chicken nuggets with my girls.  My mind is saying SERIOUSLY Jami, you know what is going to happen if you don’t eat well at dinner.  I have dinner planned out and change of plans, we go to a friend’s house ….and order pizza.  There it is, the day is a loss!

I’ve learned that no matter what the situation compromise almost always leads to more compromise.  In the food/workout world this takes me right on the path to destruction.  If you are compromising with your spouse, or a partner at work, that’s great! As a matter of fact compromise is necessary in many situations for success.  When it comes to taking care of your health, it’s the complete opposite.  I have no doubt that if my day had started off with a better choice than a bagel, the following day wouldn’t have involved feeling grouchy, tired, being nauseous and a migraine that was so bad I had to take prescription medication to get rid  of it.  So, here I am, continuing to work on self control, and remembering food is fuel for my body and it will run based on what I put into it.  I”d love to hear what you do to take care of your body or any experiences you have with gluten sensitivity or celiac!

Thanks for reading and be well!

 

Two of my favorite books related to gluten sensitivity and how it affects your body:

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I’m not a morning person

Instinctively, I am much more of a night owl than a morning person.  I can stay up late and enjoy cleaning in peace and I generally don’t get too tired for awhile.  The problem with that is, whenever I reach the point of extreme fatigue, it’s too late to just lie down and it takes some time to get my mind to slow down.  When we got married, my husband insisted that we go to bed at the same time, which we didn’t do much until we had children. Growing up my parents usually worked opposite shifts so I hadn’t ever really even thought about that as an option.  I love ending my day by chatting with him and getting to bed early is more practical for us with 3 little ones.  Which means….now I am a morning person. My little man tends to get up at about 4am and it works perfectly for me.  I’m loving his longer stretches of sleep and the fact that I’m feeling back to myself and have energy to get going in the morning.  Today has been one of those mornings that went perfectly.  Rising before my family sets a peaceful tone for the day.  I’m not rushing around or feeling lethargic and frantic all morning.  I truly feel like I’ve created more hours in the day.  For me, staying up late, I don’t accomplish nearly as much as I do when I rise early.  And I have a lot to do! I thought I’d share with you what the mornings look like around here.

  Mind you….at least half of the time this schedule is interrupted with any of the following options; baby crying, dog puked somewhere in the house, dog got into the garbage, I’m super tired and need more sleep, we don’t hear the early alarm, getting cleaning or schoolwork completed takes priority, I need to take care of something I forgot to do yesterday, our day necessitates an early morning Walmart run, and there are many other options trust me!

3:52a.m. I’m only writing exact time on this one because I clearly remember glancing at the clock and it being just a tad earlier than normal.  I hear my little guy crying (which is more like making random noises until someone hears him) and sneak out of bed to get him.  He and I play downstairs with his wheels, I feed him, get some dishes and laundry put away, and before I know it it’s 4:45 and my phone alarm is going off upstairs.  I feel bad about waking my husband to ask if I can head to the gym this morning because I know he’s been super exhausted this week.  But he gets out of bed and takes his turn with our little man.

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I just LOVE my babies’ morning faces.  It’s my favorite time of the day, they are still a bit puffy from laying on their pillows all night. So cute!!!

4:57a.m. I head to the gym, thinking “Man I wish it opened at 4:30, when I worked at a gym, I used to have to open at 4:30, I would totally go then, I wonder if they would get enough people to go then?” See my mind wakes up busy! 🙂 I do some weights, run 3 miles and get ready to go home at about 6:00. I try to win a free coffee mug by texting a local Christian radio station, no luck. I was a little extra excited today because I finally got some new workout clothes.  I hate buying clothing post baby until I feel like I’m close to the size I want to be, so it’s been a long time since I purchased anything new.  But I am loving these new shorts and the shirt!

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I just ordered this shirt from Carrie Underwood’s line, CALIA and it’s awesome.  I’ve worn it to the gym and on runs outdoors, it’s super thin and comfy and not too short!  I told my husband I want one in every color! I also got these Nike shorts which I was hesitant about b/c I have a favorite pair of Under Armour running shorts that I have worn for years but I loved the cheetah print on these.  They are great to run in, just like my other pair!  Thick headbands are best for me.  I think the tiny ones are so much cuter, but they are often so tight that I have a terrible headache after wearing them.  And of course the Brooks.  Love my running shoes.

6:10a.m. Get in the truck to head home. Hear on the radio station they are giving away a coffee mug if you text and say what you have done this morning.  I decide to wait until I get home.  When I get home I text my morning activities so far, and receive a text back that I didn’t win (should’ve texted while driving lol) but it said God bless you for waking up with your little boy.  I thought that was nice!

6:25a.m. When I return home, my husband and son are resting on the couch.  Baby asleep, Daddy almost asleep.  I quickly make some breakfast for the hubby, put little guy back into his crib and get to take a bath! Usually this is a quick shower but I felt ambitious and wanted to attempt taking a bath.  My older girls usually wake up between 6 and 7 so I wasn’t sure if I had enough time.

Indigo Wild’s Zum line is one of my favorite items to keep in my house.  Their room sprays are awesome and a friend of mine just started working at a wellness center/spa nearby and they had these bath salts.  Perfect way to get refreshed after a workout!

http://www.indigowild.com

6:45 a.m. Just as I got out of the shower and got dressed for the day, my oldest woke up and I let her know I was working on a blog but was almost done.  By the time she came down her sister was awake and they went to check on our ducklings.  (the ducklings are for another post, ha!) By 7:00 my son is awake and they are all playing in the living room.

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Blogging time. Coffee and computer at the kitchen table. I considered cleaning this off before I took the picture but thought, nah, let’s be realistic here.  We played the ninja turtle version of “Trouble” last night and it stayed there all night. Yes, there is dirt on the table from my girls watering their live resurrection garden.  I”ll clean it up when I’m done. 🙂

7:15 a.m.I thought that would be the end of my post and I would let you know what my day would entail but nope, couldn’t be that easy.  Right about where I was adding the workout clothing pic, my little man came up to me for a hug.  I stood up and held him for a minute and realized his leg was wet.  Weird, because I had changed him before I went to the gym so I knew he hadn’t peed through his diaper in that short amount of time.  Then I smelled my arm….a blowout.  ALL down his pj’s and now on my arm.  See? I told you, it’s ALWAYS something!  So took a break from the blog for a bath for the baby while I did my hair and makeup and returned. None of us are stinky and we have our new clothes on for the day. This is why it is now 7:51a.m. and I am just finishing!

We have a busy day ahead of homeschool, a trip to a museum and visiting some family members.  I’m so thankful I woke up early and got a jumpstart on my day.  I’d love to hear any tips you have for getting yourself going in the morning or manage your time throughout the day.  Have a fantastic day, poopy diapers and all!

Lost sheep

We were fortunate to receive a 6 week Bible study to complete with our children from their Sunday School class and I’m loving the focus on following Jesus as the shepherd. ( Can I just say that the children’s ministry team at my church is FANTASTIC!)  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is John 10:27. It gives me goose bumps to read the part that says “neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” That’s a pretty confident statement.

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I just think it’s so profound to imagine living in this world and being able to decipher what is God’s voice. That’s a skill that needs practicing. We are being thrown messages from SO many other places.  People at work, friends, magazines, the radio, television, the internet, Facebook, blogs ;), and not many of them go along with what I think Jesus wants us to believe about ourselves or how we should live our lives.  One of the activities we have completed with this study was to blindfold the girls and see if they could follow each other’s voices in order to get to safety.  They did this pretty easily without a problem, but as I was watching them I thought about the way adults try to get through life and all the background noise that accompanies that.  Stress, physical illness, financial hardships, temptations with money, food, or anything else.

My youngest little lady is also working on the nursery rhyme “Little Bo Peep”  in homeschool.  One of her activities for the week will be creating a poster for lost sheep.  As we were working on her craft for the day, I was preparing some materials for her poster that she will be creating tomorrow and I was trying to plan some descriptive vocabulary I could give her to add to the poster to distinguish her missing sheep from one another.

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Using reinforcement stickers for sheep wool

This made me start to think about how well the One who created each and every one of us would be able to create a poster for us if we were missing.  Not only could He literally add the numbers of hairs on our head and describe us using physical characteristics, He knows our hearts.  He could describe us perfectly …..

  • this sheep struggles with reading my Word
  • this sheep isn’t always completely content with what I have given them
  • this sheep doesn’t quite have their priorities straight
  • when these sheep get together, they make very bad choices
  • this sheep acts differently depending on what flock it is with
  • this sheep doesn’t even know their shepherd or care to
  • this sheep is about to leave their spouse
  • this sheep is an alcoholic
  • this sheep is looking for attention in all the wrong places from all the wrong people
  • this sheep is holding grudges

The list could go on and on.  The cool thing about it is, that He NEVER stops pursuing His sheep, no matter how far they have gone.   I can’t begin to wrap my mind around God’s grace. How frustrating is it to keep warning your child to not run on the wet floor over and over only to see them wipe out and get hurt.  We know what’s best for them if they’d only listen.  I know we don’t love thinking about our weaknesses and struggles or talking about them but as it’s the week before Easter, I encourage you to at least think about what your missing poster would look like.  Do you need to add something to your life or take some things away to make room for goals or priorities you have set?  Then, understand that regardless of what your poster says, someone is looking for you and has never stopped.  That’s pretty awesome.

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Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful Easter.  I’d love to hear any stories of how grace has impacted your life! I know I’m seriously working on learning my shepherd’s voice!

One year postpartum

To say I have been extremely hesitant to write this post would be the biggest understatement of my life.  I’ve actually begun writing it a few times only to get sidetracked and delete it all.  However, I’m writing this because I think it’s just the kind of thing that mamas desperately need after having a baby.  I know it’s what I needed.  I wanted to show a picture of what it’s like for an average mama to try to get back to her shape-ish after having a baby.

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 November 2014, still have 5 months left to go.  Apparently the more babies you have the faster you show!

Before I begin….a bit about me.  This was my 3rd pregnancy and each one was completely different.  I carried my babies different, my exercise level during each varied, but regardless of my activity or lack thereof during pregnancy, I am always accompanied by 40 pounds as I carry my little bundles.  Getting rid of that weight is a big cause of anxiety for me during pregnancy.  Don’t get me wrong I LOVE having babies, as a matter of fact I would love the entire thing if it wasn’t for months 2-6 postpartum.  I have been encompassed by pure joy after each of my babies arrived.  It never fails that a few months later, when that new baby excitement is gone, lack of sleep is kicking in and summer is going on (all of my babies have been early spring/summer) that I have to keep a close watch on depression.  I don’t like how I look, I don’t know the body I’m in, I don’t feel I have the time or energy to workout which leads to a buildup of stress and frustration. I feel incredibly selfish and then have guilt about desperately wanting to take care of me.  Needless to say, postpartum isn’t fun for me.  I feel far from God because I know I’m being selfish and have unrealistic expectations of how my life should look, but this time it was different.

About a month after I had my little man I began working out hard core.  Jillian Michaels DVDs each morning.  It became way too much for me especially as I tried to figure out the whole nursing a baby thing (which I had never done).  So I took a break from exercise for awhile.  I knew I needed some time to just soak up my new life with 3 kids and enjoy that cuddle time that is so short lived when you have a darling infant in your life.  By putting my little man first at this point in my life I was putting myself first.  That snuggle time was so important and I am so grateful that I made being present for my children a priority.

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This is what it’s all about 🙂

Here’s how exercise fits into my life.  I haven’t ever known life without it.  Growing up I played softball, volleyball, soccer, participated in gymnastics and dance team.  Being athletic is all I know and it’s a huge part of my life.  That being said, I am not at all someone who is continuously training or someone who works out a couple times a month.  My life fits somewhere in the middle. I’m determined to do my best to take care of the body I have been given.  Fitting that into my life can be a bit tricky at times.  My husband works full time for the state and can be called in at any time (although this year wasn’t too bad for snow!) , he is also in the military so he attends drill weekends and military schools at times.  I homeschool my 2 girls (and little man makes himself known throughout our school day!)  and they are involved in various activities as well as myself.  It’s hard for me to justify paying for a sitter to workout, so for me early morning or naptime is what seems to work best.  I cherish the time with my family after my hubby gets home from work so that’s not something I’m willing to compromise right now as we only  have 1 night a week completely free.

I knew this time around I wouldn’t be able to just exercise.  I eat better than most people but honestly, in this country that still isn’t that great! I made a conscious effort to eat foods that were created to fuel my body; fruits, veggies, and meats.  I figured if these are the things God created; fruits, veggies and meat. He created my body so He knows best right?  That was a huge help to me as I ran short on time to exercise.  I began reading “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst and started practicing some serious self control.  I had always thought about my issues with food as vanity that I had to deal with but this book has completely changed my point of view.  Lysa talks about how your struggles with diet/exercise can actually lead you closer to God.  Practicing discipline, self control and gratefulness for your body are all fruits of the Spirit and when I look at this journey as practicing so that these skills will flow over into other parts of my life, it brings a much bigger meaning to losing the baby weight.  If my body is a temple that is to be used to further God’s kingdom, I am being selfish when I fill it with junk food, or when I am too lazy to get up and go for a run.  It completely changed my perspective.

(I HIGHLY recommend this book! Even if you aren’t a Christian, you will learn so much from it! Here’s a link to order it on Amazon. Made to Crave.)

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So for the past year, I took it slow.  I didn’t jump into any program.  I took care of myself and my family spiritually, physically and mentally.  I’ve grown more than ever and I feel amazing.  I’m back to my weight pre-baby and have just now been getting enough sleep to get back into my morning workout routine.  I have become more self-controlled, more disciplined, more patient with my body, and feel at peace.  (Galatians 5:22 anyone?)

Here’s the hesitant part…..pictures.  As much as nobody loves doing this, I encourage you to take pictures and set small goals if you are really trying to lose weight.  I am only sharing these because this is what I needed to see after each of my babies.  A mama who worked very hard to take care of her body.  Not a website with extreme weight loss from a pill, not someone who gets paid to run marathons (btw if that you I think you are awesome, but it’s just not realistic for me) and surely not pictures that don’t even look like the same person.  I’m sharing these to encourage you, that slow progress, is progress.  I had months where I gained weight, and months where I worked my butt off  and lost only a pound.   So here it is, the pictures I took along my journey, I’m almost at my goal!

(PS-For the record, I have swimsuit bottoms on in these pictures! Not trying to be inappropriate here!)

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17 days postpartum, wasn’t happy with taking this one but glad I did!
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2 months postpartum, I can tell I was bummed at this time b/c my hair is lighter.  That always cheers me up!

 

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10 months after baby

 

 

“When I get all caught up in how unfair it is that my friend is skinny and doesn’t have to work at it, how she can eat what she wants when she wants, and how much it stinks that I can’t be like her, I remind myself that God didn’t make me to be her.  You see, He knew even before I was born that I could easily allow food to be an idol in my life, that I would go to food, instead of to Him, to fulfill my needs.  And in His great wisdom, He created my body so that it would experience the consequences of such a choice, so that I would continually be drawn back into His arms.  HE wants me to come to Him for fulfillment, emotional healing, comfort-and if I could go to food for that and never gain an ounce, well then, what would I need God for?”

from “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKuerst, pg. 105

My favorite part of this quote is that it’s our choice.  We can choose to live in self pity and let food control our lives, or treat our bodies like the temples they are.  So don’t be discouraged, you’ve got this.  And if you want a buddy to pray for you, I’m her!

Time for insects!

 

Homeschool has been a bit overwhelming lately around here.  Our home is a tri-level and I have a little man who is crawling like a maniac and working on his walking skills.  His favorite past times are….crawling up the stairs and attempting to go down, emptying out all the drawers in the kitchen then taking off like a bandit, attempting to climb up onto the couch so that he can look out the window, eating dirt, poking the dogs’ eyes and also touching their teeth, loving the fact that he is just able to reach the piano keys and play then pulling the piano bench over on top of himself, and the list goes on and on.  This week he’s mastered waking up every hour to scream as his new teeth are coming in.  Needless to say, I am currently living in a busy season of mommyhood. Finally on Thursday I slept in his crib with him so I could get some sleep.  Yes, I actually did that, good thing I’m barely 5 foot 3!

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Back to the point.  I have been blessed with 2 daughters who LOVE the outdoors and critters.  My oldest is especially interested in bugs.  (I’m not being sarcastic here, I truly find them a blessing, I wouldn’t know what to do with ladies that were disgusted by all things outside!) We have reached the point in our 1st grade Abeka curriculum for science that contains a unit on insects.  Knowing my children, I couldn’t only use the content contained in our book.  So we now find ourselves in the middle of a full blown unit on insects.  This was one of my favorite things to do as a Kindergarten teacher, follow the childrens’ interests and do somewhat of a project approach unit for as long as they wanted.  I loved integrating the theme into math, reading, science, writing, social studies, and all parts of our day.  It’s even better with homeschool as I can integrate the unit into our life when we are getting groceries, out on a walk, or just about anywhere!  This led me to Amazon to order a butterfly kit.  (You can order the same one here ) I knew my girls would be excited but had no idea how much!  Their excitement as our package arrived really made my week and made me so thankful that my family is able to explore education at home.  I’m planning on updating you on our unit but here is what we have done so far with insects!

 

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We are on week 2 of creating this map.  My 4 year old likes to made additions to it herself as you can see she wrote “SMALL”. 🙂 Each color represents a new date, blue sections contain the information we knew before beginning the unit.

I absolutely love the book “Ten Little Caterpillars” by Bill Martin Jr.  It’s a bit of an easier read than I usually would choose for first grade but the content is excellent.  The book shows several different butterflies and what they look like as caterpillars.  It also gives information on what they eat. And I just love how Lois Ehlert illustrates books and uses labels.

 

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The caterpillars we ordered should turn into painted lady butterflies.
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Containing the beast in his high chair!

And here it is the excitement! My girls love when we get packages delivered to our home and this is the one we had been waiting for.  A whole week is a long time when you are 4 and 6!  I loved that when it came the box had a tiny butterfly printed on it and a sticker letting us know we had to open it right away which was cool for the girls to read.

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The kit was well worth the money to me! It contained:

  • Spray bottle to fill with water
  • Live painted lady caterpillars
  • A hanging habitat for the live butterflies
  • An eyedropper to feed butterflies
  • 2 sugar packets
  • A brochure with a ton of info on our specific caterpillars/butterflies and directions
  • Coupon to order more butterflies
  • A worksheet on the life cycle of a butterfly

 

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My ladies got right to work on their page about the life cycle of a butterfly.  They worked together to color and I added the time frames for each stage. 

I have also been using a bug unit bundle from a blog I LOVE www.teachertothecore.blogspot.com

If you are interested in checking it out visit her site here.

I”ll try to add some updates as we move along into this unit, please share any ideas you have or activities you have used that focus on insects.  We are really enjoying the sunshine and what seems like an early spring around here. Perfect timing for this unit.  Have a fantastic weekend and thanks for reading!

Just so you know…

My husband and I have been contemplating getting a will done for the past 7 years.  I know that he had something pretty basic put together each time he deployed but we hadn’t ever gone into this task together, because….who in the right mind wants to think about death?!   That being said, minor health scares and 3 children later, we decided it’s probably time.  I’ve talked to several friends about this and each time I enter into a discussion on this topic I’m met with the same response…nausea.  Any person whom I consider to be a fantastic parent becomes literally sick thinking of the idea of leaving their children behind.  I don’t believe for a second that God created us to be put in this situation but it happens and I feel immensely responsible for my babies and their future.

We have high expectations for our children and it breaks my heart to think of what would become of them if we weren’t here.  They would be taken care of but not by us….and that’s not okay.  After all, we were created to be parents to these little ones.  Our experiences, advice, families, behaviors, and talents have been tweaked and tailored throughout our lives to meet the needs of these babies. So, I thought, why don’t I tell them what I think? Just so that if something happened they would know.  They would know the importance of their individuality and have no doubt that they have a purpose in this world.  I decided I would feel a bit more settled if I wrote it down.  Just a short letter to my children, something I felt they could only receive from me.Fair warning, mamas may tear up ( I cried as I typed this)  but if you’re interested, read on…

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Monkey: It seems silly to call you this because compared to your siblings you aren’t at all the monkey of the family, but this has been your nickname from day 1.  You were my first real love after your daddy.  Your life is such a gift to us.  I have no doubt you have already made a difference in the world by your kindness and thoughtfulness.  You are smart, caring, funny and gentle.  God knew what he was doing when He placed you as the oldest child in our family because being a caretaker comes naturally to you.  Don’t ever become upset when you feel that people are taking advantage of you for your kindness.  You are a light my love, and the shine that you give to the world is a piece of heaven, so nobody here can take it from you.  Your sensitivity is a gift that many people don’t have and will benefit from you sharing it.  Be quick to listen and don’t forget that just because you’re a tomboy and critter loving girl, doesn’t mean I don’t expect you to act like a lady.  Ladies like to go fishing and hunting too 😉

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

1 Peter 3:3-4

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 Kealybug: You are my little sparkler.  You’re strong willed, determined, and hilarious.  I have no worries that one day you will be able to take care of yourself with no problem.  You remind me a lot of your daddy.  It gives you pure joy to make other people laugh and you’re good at it.  I am so appreciative of your giving spirit.  You take your time and put so much thought into the small gifts you make for mommy and daddy.  I love that you pay attention to details and remember them.  No matter how well your life is going be sure not to become so confident in yourself that you forget to lean on God for your needs.  You are a gorgeous little girl but know there is so much more to you than beauty.  Cooking with you is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world to do and I hope that you remember it and do the same when you are a mommy one day.  Keep on dancing, keep that feistiness but be sure to have respect, and keep that red hair 🙂

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

Proverbs 31:25

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 My little man: My son.  Anyone that knows me well knows that my life plan included 3 boys for children.  I was terrified of the difficulties that I was sure would come with raising girls.  Drama, dealing with body image issues and I feel like a ton more.  So when I became pregnant for the 3rd time we were sure God had a sense of humor and we would raise 3 lovely little girls.  You are such a blessing.  When we found out you were a boy your daddy and I cried like babies in the hospital parking lot.  You were an absolute gift to us after a ROUGH few years (to put it very lightly) It was no wonder we found out at your baby blessing that in some translations your name means “Peace”. You’re only 11 months old but you are completely full of joy.  You have it and you love to share it.  You’re silly and are catching right up to your big sisters.  You make our family so happy and I know that one day you will be a strong leader like your daddy. Be sure to recognize that when you are behaving like a leader, whether you know it or not people are following.  Give them something worthy of following.  I can already tell that you are going to love taking things apart and rebuilding them and I can already see the wheels in your head turn as you take it all in.  You made me realize what an enormous gift God gave us by sacrificing his one and only son and I can’t ever thank you enough for that.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

I encourage you that as difficult as it may seem, to take the time to do this for your children and even your spouse.  Keep it somewhere, pray it over them, print it out in your home, read it to them if they are old enough or even if they aren’t.  There is such power in letting those you love know your expectations and the faith you have in their future.  Each one of us was made to fill a purpose in this world and I want to be positive that if I’m not here, my children have no doubt of their value.

Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward from Him.

Psalm 127:3