Thursday, September 29, 2011

homemaking with little children

photo credit
I roll over in bed, awakened by a bubbling one year old ready for the day ahead.  On a good day, I wake up, change her diaper and pop her in her high chair to have breakfast.  While she feeds herself breakfast and starts the day off with either Baby Einstein or Praise Baby, I get myself somewhat prepared for the day; brushing my teeth, changing, etc, etc.

And then it begins.

My day is now full of chasing my little one around, constant redirecting and teaching as well as lots and lots of cuddles and kisses.  It is the most rewarding job I've ever had, yet the most challenging.  This beautiful role I play isn't just rewarding, it's so time consuming I find myself having little time for anything else.

This part my friends is a Catch-22.

I remember the advice people gave me while Aaliya was a newborn.  "Don't expect your home to be clean anymore, you'll no longer have any time to clean."  "Make use of that nesting period!"  And on and on and on it went.

No offense to any of those people, but I really don't know they were very right.  Having a clean home while Aaliya was a newborn was relatively easy.  As an infant, the attention she demanded was minimal compared to the attention she needs now.  When she wasn't mobile, life was pretty much cake and keeping a clean was the icing on top.

photo credit
Now, I'm working from sunup to way past sundown and feel like there's always still such a long to-do list for the next day.  Although I'm no time-management pro, I tend to be pretty focused when I'm at home.  And still, the house is just not clean enough, laundry is never done (we have entirely too many clothes), and I just can never get to those dirty toilets and vacuuming that floor.  Occasionally, I try to get motivated to do things like Sarah Mae's 31 Days Challenge and such, but I just can't seem to do more than a couple of days at a time. Between working outside the home, working inside the home and then the few ministry roles I've taken on with the House of Prayer (these are all very minimal roles that I fulfill after the baby's asleep), I just can't commit to the exact same schedule daily.

So, what do we do?

  1. Set goals and work to achieve them, but keep homemaking responsibilities to a minimum during this season.  Loving our husbands and babies is far greater than homemaking.
  2. Take care of yourself;  When mama isn't taken care of, mama can't take care of anyone else.  I don't necessarily agree that Mama should take care of herself first but I do believe that prioritizing ourselves is of the essence.
  3. Keep It Simple, Silly;  At this point in my life, it is simply realistic for me to take on extensive organization projects and to do anything more than basic upkeep cleaning.  Even though in my overachieving mind this isn't ideal, I have to understand the beauty found in Ecclesiastes 3... There is a season for every activity under the sun.  This season is devoted to that active one year old that has stolen my heart, not to purging and focusing solely on my home.
  4. Become an excellent steward with your time; Needless to say, with the litmited time we have for anything other thn child-rearing, this is an excellent time to reevaluate how we spend our time.  Cutting out TV, Facebook and any other time-traps in order to achieve more at home, during our time at home may be the solution.
  5. Kick off laziness!  I am such a lazy person by nature.  Yet I find that when I purpose my mind and heart to kick off every ounce of laziness, I (obviously... hehe) get so much more done.  I find that the pros of being proactive instead of being lazy far outweigh the pros of remaining lazy.  And that keeps me motivated to keep goig.
  6. Find rest in Christ; I have realized that I was depending on that 5:15p time to show up on every clock of our house because I knew that's when Caleb would get home.  I wanted rest, and would often attempt to find it in front of the TV.  It was almost like when he got in through the door, I clocked out of the mother and homemaker role (mostly) and would use the excuse that rest was needed.  Yet I have found that when we actively set our minds and thoughts to Christ, I am well rested throughout the day and I am able to manage our home a lot better.  Now, instead of mindlessly vegging in front of the TV after Aaliya goes to bed, I clean the kitchen and get ourselves ready for the next day.  It's made for an easier clean-up routine and I am very content.
How do you maintain a consistent cleaning routine and parent little ones at the same time?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

the heart behind the ministry at home

editor's note: Once again, it's catch-up day for me in cyberspace, so don't be surprised if I have a couple of posts up today. =) 

photo credit

Proverbs 31 and Titus 2:4-7 are two portions of Scripture that are quoted to and by women when it comes to the ministry at home.  I have found that it causes one of two responses; either a woman embraces it full force and makes it her life goal to embody these Spirit-filled descriptions, or a woman disdains it and passes it off to other women stating that Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 is simply "not her ministry."

I can't tell you how many women have spoken to me and have mentioned that Titus 2 is "my ministry" and "my calling."  They go on and on encouraging my heart (and I am so very grateful for that) yet neglect their own in the role and calling of Proverbs 31 and Titus 2.  Beloved wives, mommies and homemakers, Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 aren't just a specific ministry some of us are called to, it is a guide to how He will establish holiness and love in our hearts as women in these roles.  If we've said "I do" to that man we've loved, then we are called to be Proverbs 31 and Titus 2; if we have little ones or elder ones running around or running off to college, then we are called to be Proverbs 31 and Titus 2; if we stay at home, work in a secular place or serve the ministry outside the home, whether it's part-time or full-time then we are called to be Proverbs 31 and Titus 2.

These precious portions in Scriptures (along with many others including 1 Samuel 1-2, Ephesians 6, 1 Peter 3 and Malachi 4) are clearly written out for our benefit, it is an introduction to our identity.  Not because of the works we do, but the condition of our hearts.  It is possesing the heart of Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 that causes holiness to grow within us as wives, mothers and women.  It isn't the works and the acts of the Proverbs 31 woman, but rather that her actions demonstrate where her heart and her priorities are.

Matthew 6:21 teaches us that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  The impossible-to-attain-personality of Proverbs 31 had her heart set on the very gifts and blessings Jesus Christ gave to her to steward, shephard and serve while on this earth.  So really, when we serve and prioritize our home with a Titus 2, Proverbs 31 heart we are setting our hearts on eternity, understanding that our home, our husbands and our beautiful children-filled hearths are really the way we establish treasures in heaven.

There is a unique grace for us wives and moms and it is a glorious thing to partake in it.  I am convinced that His grace will transform me into the Proverbs 31 woman with every Titus 2 quality.  It is a glorious ministry and if that is all I've achieved at the end of my life ministerally I will confidently meet the Father knowing I have been a good steward of the talent which He has entrusted to me.

* this post is linked up with Titus2esdays and Women Living Well Wednesdays

a [late] menu plan

It's catch-up day in the Arrazolo household (web-wise at least).  It's no secret life's been slightly crazy and busy these last few weeks.  During my transition to becoming a working mom and homemaker, I think I'm getting a pattern down, but it's leaving less room and time for blogging and such.  I promise I will get back into the swing of things eventually.

I'm loving this menu-planning business.  This week our grocery budget was cut in a little more than half and my first instict (truhfully) was to panic.  However, after an hour of Copeland, FM Static and various worship artists, I was finally able to figure out a menu that would accomodate our budget.  In the past, this would've never worked.  I would have panicked; cried; yelled; and etc etc. Seriously.  I would've made the exact same two meals just because it was all we had.

I can now (proudly) say that through the art of cutting corners (in such fabulous ways!) we are eating well and with somewhat of a variety this week.  One of the ways I discovered cutting corners (besides couponing! woo-hoo) is making things from scratch.  Granted, ya'll may have been doing this for years, but I grew up in an instant sort of family.  This is all new to me.  And may I say, I love it!

This week was a little hectic (what else is new?) because my friend Rachel was in labor Monday and Tuesday and I was in the hospital with her both days.  Monday I ended up making an instant-dish that was quick and easy and Tuesday Caleb sadly fended for himself.  I didn't leave the hospital till about 10p that night.  But what a joy!  I find that having a back-up "instant" dish is a great help for us because in times like this past week when I was beyond exhaustation and it was super late, we still ate a decent meal without a great deal effort.  It's what works for our family. :)  Anyway, without further adeau, here's our week's menu (including what he had yesterday and Monday)
Cornmeal (x3)  It's very affordable, easy and the family loves it
Eggs with Sliced Turkey, Cheese and Salsa
Amish Friendship Bread (x2)
Waffles Today's breakfast

Tuna Sandwiches Yepp, I still have bread. Lots of it
Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches

Chipotle Salad
Vegetable Soup Helloooooo Fall! :)
Tomato Basil Chicken with Garlic Noodles One of hubby's favorite.  He's having a rough day, so I'm gonna surprise him tonight! :)
Brown Bag Burritos
Arroz with Gandules and Salad  Puertorican Signature Dish... yeahhh
Mama's Mac and Cheese w/Crabcakes and Salad
Open Sunday Dinner

Cold Cereal

What are ya'll eating this week?

this post is linked to Keeper of the Home's Plan-It-Don't-Panic Series

Sunday, September 18, 2011

menu plan and an update of week one.

Week two of menu-planning and I've got to say... I'm already loving the money-saving bits and pieces.  I went grocery shopping today and spent $85 and got *everything* we needed. (Woo-Hoo!)  This included more fresh and fruits and veggies than we've had in quite the while and enough meats and snacks to get us through the week. 

Even though I'm excited about this coming week, I didn't exactly follow the full menu plan this past week.  I had to improvise one night (or two) because of a Memorial Service (always a bummer) and then it's been absolutely hectic the past week around these parts (which means a very, very messy house) so a couple of the meals I was oober excited about trying, I didn't.  And honestly, as usual, I think I tried to take on too much at once.  This week, our menu-plan is a little more familiar, a little more modest but a whole lot yummier. :)

I did however try and make the Honey Muffins and the Homemade Corndog Muffins. The corndogs were pretty good.  Aaliya enjoyed them a lot which is always a bonus for Mama! The honey muffins on the other hand... Well, let's just say, I'm pretty positive I missed some kind of ingredient because they were salty as all-get-up. Yeahhh.

Anyway, here is the menu for this coming week.  It should be a pretty calm week, outside of the usual work, prayer room hours and Aaliya's got an appointment to get blood drawn (poor baby!) Thursday.  Okay, so not so calm, but calmer.

- Cornmeal (x2)
- Waffles (x2) (I got a great deal on Van's Organic Waffles this week at Publix, so they'll be great for quick bfasts)
- Scrambled Eggs
- Amish Friendship Bread (x2)

- Turkey & Cheese Sandwiches (x3)
- Tuna Fish Sandwiches (x2)
- Hotdogs and Raw Veggies
- Sunday Lunch with Church Family
(I got a great deal on homemade bread at the Farmer's Market last week, so I bought 3 loaves and froze two of them.  We'll be having sandwiches a lot over the next few weeks. Hehe)

- Crab Enchiladas with Mexican Rice
- Stuffed Chicken Breast with Garlic, Pepper and Tomato Penne-Pasta
- Chili & Cornbread (Hoorahh for Fall!)
- Baked Potatoes with Chicken & Vegetables (Crockpot Dish.  I just cut up potatoes, chicken, and veggies, season to taste and let them sit in the crockpot all day.  Super-easy!)
- Chipotle Salad (My version of it.  I'll write a post about it soon)
- Mashed Potatoes with BBQ Chicken and Salad
- Bean Burritos (We're normally still full from our lunch with Church Family)

- Nuts, Fruits, Granola and Cold Cereal (Hubbers' Fav!)

What are you cooking up in the kitchen this week?

this post is linked up with Keeper of the Home's Plan-It Don't Panic series

Friday, September 16, 2011

transparency and honor: the line is drawn

I sat Tuesday evening listening to a group of young ladies.  Most around the same age as me, some a little younger; most in a completely different phase of life.

I was the only wife and mom sitting in the room.  The purpose of the group was one simple, profound and incredibly terrifying word; transparency.  The group is intended to edify, exhort one another as women of God in the very journeys we walk.  It is a group of godly women coming together and whispering in the other's ears; "You can do this.  You're already doing this."  Our purpose is community, maturity and growth.  That's all we crave; community with one another, maturity in Christ and growth in His Spirit. 

And as I sat there, I decided I would be vulnerable.  It's not my forte, but I'll give it a try.  Then the Spirit gently tugged at my heart.  I knew He was speaking.  And what He was spoke was about as unexpected as the sun refusing to shine.

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." --Proverbs 31:11-12

Uhm. Lord?

It suddenly dawned on me that I would be the only married person in the group potentially sharing and expressing transparency in regards to marriage.  And He was reminding me that even in transparency I am to honor and respect my husband.

As women, we have a nasty tendency of gossip that comes all too easily.  Prayer meetings and "venting" sessions with girlfriends become events where gossip and slandering is covered with a spiritual facade, but the Lord our God is not mocked and we will give reckoning for every word spoken.  As a wife, I am commanded to honor and do my husband good all the days of my life. In the name of transparency and healing, we verbally assault our husbands, our families, our friends and any one else we may be offended with, without a second thought to what that may do to their hearts.

"Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit." --Proverbs 18:21

It isn't about hiding away and not being transparent with our sisters in the Lord.  It isn't about pretending that everything is honky-dory and our marriages are perfect.  It is about watching the words that come out of our mouths and being women that can be trusted.  It's about asking the Lord to pour grace upon our lips so that we may always speak life into our marriages, into our families and children and into any and every other aspect of our journey that we struggle with. 

I desire for my husband to know that although I am incredibly transparent about the glory and the challenges to our marriage, I will always speak words that bring life to him and will never dishonor him, ever. I am hardly a pro, but have been diligently praying about this for several days and feel a strong urge to share the little practicals to what all this entails.

  1. When being transparent, choose your friends wisely:  There will always be someone with an ear to hear.  Especially a girlfriend.  However when sharing things in regards to our marriages, we should be very picky and choosy as to whom we share it with.  It should be just a few Spirit-filled women who will counsel you with the Word of God and not emotional support.  The purpose of transparency isn't venting, it's correction and growth.  Be careful that you do not choose women who will merely tell you what you want to hear, but choose women who live and dwell in His Word that will support your spiritual growth more than your emotions.
  2. When being transparent, choose your words wisely: My general is this; if I wouldn't feel comfortable saying it with Caleb within earshot, I probably shouldn't say it.  I understand that a portion of transparency is to figure things out together by the Counsel of the Word of God, however, if the manner which I'm describing the situation is said in a way that I know would make my husband angry, uncomfortable or etc, I shouldn't say it. 
  3. When being transparent, BE transparent:  Be honest with your mistakes and your downfalls. That's the whole purpose!
What about you?  What are some guidelines and boundaries you've established when being transparent in regards to your marriage?

P.S. We will be taken a short break this week from The Devotional with Littles series. It's been a very busy week and I'm not sure I'll get an opportunity to post again today or tomorrow with our series.  Thanks for your patience! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

He is the potter, I am the clay; a song of praise admist a sea of thunder

It has been quite a breaking few weeks.  Little Avery is a member of our Church family who has been fighting for his life since the womb.  K. Steffens passed away last Saturday after a devastating fight with cancer.  The Johnson family, one of our dearest friends are moving away about 2,000 miles away. (Leaving us. Here. Alone. So alone... hehe. Hope you're reading this Jess!)

Sometimes it just feels like our world is crumbling.  Too much too soon, so to speak.  Seems like some measure of brokeness meets me no matter which way I turn. 

And at first, I was angry, hurt.  Then, I became complacent and accepting.  Now I feel like rejoicing.  It seems Christ, in His mercy, desires our eternal good more than our earthly good, and although I can't explain to 15 year old Felipe, whose best friend was his father, why he passed, I can rejoice in knowing that Romans 8:28 surrounds him and all of us.  I can't explain to Jenny why her son has to fight for his life (with Christ leading the way) but I can rejoice remembering that He is our deliverer both to life and from death and He has made everything beautiful in its time. 

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." --Romans 8:28 

I often hear the excuse that too many bad things happen in this world for someone to believe or to trust in God.  Oh, but if we could just see the eternal perspective we would rejoice and praise that these events take place for our chastening and our good.  He truly is Sovereign and not a sparrow falls to the ground without His knowing and His approval. I can trust that He will bring all things to His good purposes and that He will not fail me.

Glory to God in the Highest! May the Son of God live forevermore and be exalted in this weak and trembling heart!

I encourage you today.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

Praise in the storm.  Dance in the storm.
Acknowledge and embrace Him in the storm.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Me? A menu-plan?

Okay. I have to fess up. I've never been good at menu-planning.  As a free spirit, I find it constricting.  It's true.  I mean what if I just don't want the chicken burritos today?  I don't want to have to eat the chicken burritos.  I refuse. I refuse. I refuse.

What a baby! Sometimes I have the tendency to act like a very misbehaved toddler. :P  Well, not anymore.

One of my goals as a homemaker is to reduce the cost of weekly food as well as provide natural and organic foods as often as possible.  We'd also like to be a little more self-sufficient, but that's for when the Lord blesses us with a house that has a garden-able (is that a word?) backyard.  Living on the third floor of an apartment complex doesn't make good for chicken keeping and gardening... just sayin'.

So, when  I saw Keeper of the Home's new Plan It-Don't Panic series I was inspired to join in on the fun and be effective in stewarding all of our resources.  My goal was to take all the things that comprised of my grocery shopping list (aka the things that were on sale and I had coupons for!) and come-up with a menu that would incorporate all those items.

Caleb and I have also decided to purchase our meats in bulk once a month and visit a local farmer's market for our weekly fruits and veggies.  I'm currently looking into partnering with a chicken farm (helloooo fresh eggs and chicken!) and hopefully get into some kind of co-opish deal.  Pray that I receive wisdom and revelation on how to go about doing this, please!

Personally, I've also decided I want to try (at minimum) one new recipe a week.  I find myself making the exact same things over and over... and over... and over again.  Gotta keep it fresh in the kitchen fo' my man! (Okay, that was cheesy. I may have to go back and delete that statement).  Brace yourself because this week I'm attempting two new recipes AND some freezer cooking.

So, without further adieu, here's my Menu Plan for the week of September 12-19

Cornmeal (x3)
Amish Friendship Bread & Fruit (x2)
Honey Muffins (x2)

Sandwiches (x2)
Corndog Muffins (x2)

Mexican Crab Enchiladas (Mmm! Sooo excited to try these!)
Marinated Chicken Breasts with brown rice & steamed veggies
Pastelon (the one I make is slightly different, but it's close)
Rice & Beans Burritos (freezing a ton of these, hopefully)
Chicken Carbonara
Lime-Baked Tilapia with salad
Rice with Gandules (chick-peas in english?) and ground beef (leftover from making pastelon)
Fruits & Vanilla Wafers

What're you cooking up in the kitchen this week?

P.S. Thanks Mary Jo for letting me "steal" some of the recipes on your blog and for the coconut flour, hehe.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Devotional Time for Littles: The how's to the what

writer's note: This is part three of the Devotional with Littles series. If you've missed it, here's part one and part two.

So one week ago, Caleb and I decided we'd teach Aaliya the concept of praise first and foremost so that she will always accept His Word, whether stern and painful or gracious and joyful, with an attitude of praise. It's a great concept... in theory. But this week, we spent a lot of prayer time trying to figure out exactly how to do this. Aaliya is one and not very still very often, so incorporating a devotional time that would keep her attention was, is and has been, a task of gi-normous proportions (okay, I may have slightly exaggerated). Nevertheless, armed with Jesus in one arm and faith in the other, I've dove in to see what it is He requires of us.

Here is what the Lord has required of us during this season of our lives as our devotional time with Aaliya;
  • Start off with a praise song she can really dance to and enjoys and stick with it! We want our children to know that praising Jesus is enjoyable, fun and worth every bit of our attention and abilities. We also know children crave routine and we desire to create routine even during our devotional time.
  • Read a Psalm (or portion thereof if it's a long one) quickly thereafter. Little Miss has a very short attention span, but by keeping music in the background (lower than when we're praising Him with songs, of course) she stays focused long enough for us to read at least 6 or 7 verses. We've decided to just start at Psalm 1 and make our way through. We're not sure how long this will take, but we know it'll keep us tied over for a while (or until the Lord leads us elsewhere).
  • Choose a verse or two to focus on and pray them over herself and her family. Though Aaliya's vocabulary isn't ready for her to utter tangible prayers, we want to teach her how to pray, and even more, how to pray Scripture over herself and family members. I do most of the praying, but Aaliya sits with Mommy (okay, sometimes wiggles with Mommy) and I say a 20-30 second prayer focusing on those Scriptures so that she can be exposed to praying Scriptures.
  • We finish off by choosing another fun praise song and praising. This time though, we bring out the "big-guns" and we play the djembe, her tambourine and any other "instrument" that will make a joyful noise unto the Lord! She loves it.
Sometimes, depending on how many wiggles Aaliya's got going on, we'll play an additional worship song and I'll read her a story (enter in Noah, David and all that jazz). We get to do this maybe once or twice a week, depending. Eventually, we'll incorporate it into the daily routine, but we're still introducing her to Devotional Time and getting her used to the consistency and routine of it.

What does your devotional routine look like with your kiddies? Babies or young kids, it doesn't matter! I'd like to know. =)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

my not-so-funny "aha!" parenting moment

It was Monday night and we were celebrating Labor Day.  Not sure what exactly we celebrate during the holiday (call me un-patriotic, go ahead), but we were celebrating and spending time with some friends nontheless. 

And then 9:30pm hit.  And I'm not entirely sure what all happened then, but Aaliya went into an all out meltdown.  We don't normally stay out too late past her bedtime, but had decided to do so this one night.  Well, right at 9:30-9:45ish some kind of trigger went off and enter in total and complete meltdown.

The meltdown came complete with back-arching tantrums, high-pitched squeals and a bucket of tears for every offense held against her.  Mommy's humiliation and embarrasement was an added bonus thrown in for the overall cost of just one night out.

I attempted everything in the book I knew to do to calm the little one down.  Shhshhing, holding, bouncing, but in the last twelve and a half months Aaliya has been with us, she's grown exponentially in strength and now even gives Daddy a run for his money when it comes to holding and keeping her tight and still when she doesn't want to be. Basically, our kid man-handles us.

Ugh! How did I become that parent?  The parent you almost feel embarrased for because they can't calm the tantrums down mid-store.  I was mortified and made the executive decision that game night would be cut short on our end.  My dear, dear husband was, I'm sure more mortified of my behavior than the baby's, mumbled his goodbyes and walked us to the car.  Baby securely tucked into the carseat and five seconds later, I find myself biting Caleb's head off sternly expressing my feelings (though I have the very annoying tendency to talk in circles over and over and over again until I finally realize what it is that I'm trying to say, much less give any semblance of a hint to my poor, very confused husband at this point... see, I think I did it again?).

It was a rough, rough night and I essentially cried myself to sleep giving myself the "Worst Mama on the Block" award along with a dozen others now safely tucked away into my "Self-Pity" shelf (hopefully never to be seen again).

Fast forward to Monday afternoon, on my way home.  I was passing through those really unecessary toll booths and I feel the impression of the Holy Spirit upon my heart... "Nicole, as you parent, you cannot parent from a place that regards fear of man."

That was it.  That's all He said.  No details, no specifics.  Just... get over what people will think.

As I meditated this past week on what exactly He meant by it, I realized that everyone will have an opinion on the way the Husband and I choose to bring up our children.  There will always be someone who thinks she's spoiled, someone who thinks we're tyrants from Hitler's regime, someone who thinks we shelters our kids entirely too much and someone who thinks we don't shelter them enough, and then there'll be someone who thinks we're doing a fabulous job with the little bit we got.  There will always be someone, but I need to regard The One

At the end of the day, only grace will carry us through these formative years in our children's lives and only His voice will know the answer to the toughest questions; but the answers may mean that Aaliya will cry consecutively for 40 minutes while she soothes herself to sleep at someone else's house.  It may mean that she screams and cries because she's been disciplined and it may mean that she'll be the child left out because our family doesn't watch that movie or doesn't listen to that song.  But that's ok. 

Because in the end, it's the Audience of the One that really matters in this child-rearing business.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Devotional Time with Littles: What to teach?

writers note: I know I'm a week (or two!) off from this series, but I do want to continue it, as I believe devotional time with our families is very important. If you didn't check out the first part of this series, you may do so here. :)

As I began to think about what exactly I would do with Aaliya during our daily devotional time, I started to think of all the things we would do. You know... crafts, music, an assortment of activities.  But as I sat in front of my computer armed with stickies for notes and my swagbucks search bar ready for action, I realized that the what we would be doing isn't as important as the what we would be learning or talking about.

That's when I sat in front of the computer and felt quite the silly.

I mean, of course Nicole!  As a teacher, how could I ever have put together lesson plans if I never actually know what the content of teaching was?  Bleh.  Well, I blame it on staying home for a year. Hehe.

So, I began my journey as a mama and asked the Lord what He'd like me to teach to my kids.  Typically speaking most parents I know choose to start with the basic Old Testament Stories; Noah, Abraham, David & Goliath then move on to Jesus and His works, etc, etc.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with that method, but Caleb and I desire to raise our children the way Christ has specifically designed for our family and for our children.  If that meant David & Goliath first, well then that would be the perfect way for our family!  But for our family it meant one thing...

"From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established praise, because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease." -- Psalm 8:2

photo credit
Yes, I know I've used this Scripture already... a lot.  But it's true.  It's such a beautiful Scripture and such a defense for little ones against the raging enemy.  That was the Scripture that both Caleb and I bore witness to when praying for our children.  We will teach our children to establish praise in their hearts.  We will teach them to dance and sing and be quiet unto the Lord meanwhile exalting everything that He is; His Holiness, His Love, His Beauty, His Grace, His Favor and His Mercy (and that's just the getting started list).  We believe that as we teach this, everything else will slowly follow suit.  Our hopes are that as Aaliya gets older, and we teach the Law and the Gospels to her, her heart will receive the Manna with a song of praise and gladly receive the Truth.

But. How do we do this?  She is after all just one.  Well, we believe that by the reading of the book of Psalms to her daily, her little heart will be tenderized and begin to praise.  We also (of course) desire to model a lifestyle of praise for her to glean from.  But that's all on the next installment of this series. ;)

Thanks for tuning in!

What about ya'll?  What are some of the basics you teach your little ones?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm rambling

I have been MIA from blogging for a little bit.

Yeah, sorry about that.  I've been tending to two babies with ear infections (yuck!), a husband with a drippy nose (aka runny nose) and still learning the balance between work, home, ministry, myself.

Aww, fooey! Yes, I said it... FOOEY!

I've been at witt's end and trying to find my way back.  I've been in a sort of wilderness/transition/not-really-wilderness season if you know what I mean.   Umm, how can I explain it?

photo credit
I-am-bei-ng-bro-ken.  Ve-ry-ve-ry-bro-ken.

The last few books I've read I've felt a grace to read.  (I know this was quite a jump, but it's related to the statement I just made.  I promise!)  One was a fiction book by Francine Rivers.  I've talked about it before (but I can't find the post where I did, so just trust me!).  I re-read it and gained so much from it.  I love how the Lord speaks to me through fictional stories. :P  But, this last book I picked up is called The Breaking of the Outer Man and the Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee.  The title alone will rock your world, but it's content even more.

It is so ironic like God to give me the grace to read this book now. 

I believe our family is in the middle of a transition. Don't ask me to what.  Don't ask me what kind.  It's just... that feeling.  In the air.  That suffocates and breaks the will to cause His spirit to come forth. 

Yeah, that one.  The one that cause holiness to seep through every pore in your body. 

It's either that or rebellion. And since my God is a Jealous God, I know the rebellion won't stand much of a chance against Him. 

Anyway, here's a few of my favorite pieces from the thirty-nine pages I've read from this book.  I gotta take this one easy... slowly.  His breaking is mercy but too much too quickly will seemingly destroy me.  So, I will continue to self-preserve by masking my fear of the breaking with the spirituality behind needing to "digest" the truth found in this book. 

Yepp, I think that works.

"How could he (Brother Lawrence) maintain God's presence in the midst of his hectic work (dishwashing)?  The secret is that no outward noise could affect his inward being.  Some people lose God's presence because they are inwardly affected as soon as they hear any noise around them... God is not delivering us from the "plates"; He is delivering us from being influenced by them.  Everything around us can be in turmoil, but within we can remain untouched... Once the outer man is broken, a man does not have to come back to God because he is with God all the time...God has to break the outer man before He can use the inner manHe has to break our love before He can use our love to love the brothers."