Biblical Affirmations to Speak over yourself and your Children

Biblical Affirmations to Speak over yourself and your Children

It has begun. The girls (2 and 3 years old) have started repeating everything I say. They’ve even started mimicking the way I do things. If I pick up a broom to start sweeping, they immediately start looking for their broom so they can “help” mommy. When I yell at the dog, they yell at the dog (working on that). If I hug their Daddy, they want to hug him even more.

They are watching us, listening to us, and repeating what they see and hear. Since they are paying so much attention, I am trying to incorporate biblical affirmations into our speech as much as we can. In this post we’ll go through seven affirmations for you, and seven for your children.

I’m realizing that this is just the beginning. They are learning from us. Not just when we sit down to teach them something, they are learning by simply watching us. What a blessing it is to teach them by example… but what a scary thought as well! I have put a lot of pressure on myself lately to do things right and say things in the right tone. I know these little people are imperfect and will make mistakes, but I want to be the best example I can possibly be. The goal is not perfection – but to be a better version of myself each day.

My heart would be broken to hear my daughter say that she wishes her hair were different, or to look in the mirror and be filled with feelings of disappointment. What am I saying when I look in the mirror? After I get myself ready, I’ll usually come out of the bathroom and say, “Well, this is as good as it gets.” I laugh through it, but what kind of message am I sending to my girls? My confidence is not built upon the fact that I really need highlights and I wish I had a few more curves. My identity is in Christ alone. Through His strength, I’m working on the way I speak over myself and to my children. Here are a few helpful examples of how we can biblically affirm ourselves and our children.

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Affirmations to speak over yourself

  • I am accepted. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:4-8
  • I am secure. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
  • I am significant. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
  • I am unique. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
  • I have a purpose. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  • I am His. “But now, this is what the Lord says — he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1
  • I am forgiven. “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” Isaiah 44:22 

Affirmations to speak over your children

  • You can do hard things. “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:13
  • God has a plan for you.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
  • God is always listening to you. “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12
  • You are special. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
  • You are kind. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
  • You are chosen. “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.” 1 Thessalonians 1:4
  • God loves you unconditionally! “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” 1 John 4:16

What a joy it is to raise these little people. What a gift it is to be a mother. They are watching us and they are really paying attention. Before I react to what may seem like a disaster in the moment, I’ll think about how I would want my girls to react in that situation. It’s changing the game for sure!

Do you have any other suggestions? What do you try to speak over yourself and your children? Tell me in the comments below!

 

Some other posts you may like:

https://raisingthemkind.com/2018/03/05/10-ways-to-simplify-your-life-this-week/

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Please Stop Telling us we are “in for it” when the Teenage Years Come.

I was a teenager once. I had an attitude problem. I disobeyed. I was unkind to my parents. I made bad decisions. I didn’t have a full on rebellion, but many of my peers did. And I know it’s possible. I have no doubt that raising teenagers is going to be extremely difficult.

With that said, let’s talk about what we, as young moms, keep hearing from moms of teens. We are constantly being told that we are “in for it” when we hit the teenage years. Whether they are raising teens or their kids are out of the house, not many people have anything good to say about the dreaded teenage years. And again, I know they will not be easy. But when someone tells me that I should enjoy this time now because of how bad it’s going to be, it puts fear in my heart and is very discouraging.

I’m raising two toddlers. It is a daily challenge to keep a good attitude, be patient and speak kindly to my children. When I hear that it’s going to get so much worse, it crushes my spirit. I already feel like I’m in the diaper and tantrum trenches at times. I need to be encouraged during this time, I need to hear that we are not all doomed because one day our kids will be teens.

Emily Ley, Simplified Planner, Grace Not Perfection

My prayer and my hope is that these words will not ring true. I know my kids will struggle through the teenage years, but my prayer is that the investment I am putting into them now, will come to fruition as they grow. That our relationship will have ups and downs, but the foundation will be strong. I pray that when those hard moments come, they won’t define who they are. They won’t define their teenage years. I have hope that as their parents, we can somehow turn the hardest moments into teaching opportunities. I pray that we can show them the forgiving, understanding and loving characteristics of Christ.

Now, if you have teenagers and you’ve got a good eye roll going on, bare with me. I do not fully know what we will deal with in those years. I know that it will be tough. But since we do not know what it will be like, let us have hope. Let us keep a positive attitude instead of speaking negatively about a season we’re not even in yet. Instead of telling us we’re “in for it,” just encourage us. We know you’ve got some wisdom up your sleeve because you have more experience than we do. Share it with us. We already know it’s going to be hard, we hear it all the time. But instead of treating kids getting older as a downward spiral, give us some hope we can hold on to.

Please know that as a mom of young children, I am enjoying it. What I normally hear is that I should “enjoy it now, because it’s going to get so much worse.” I cherish the moments I want to remember and try to forget the ones that made me cry in the grocery store. We are soaking it in. And we know it is going to fly by. I’m not sure that any season of motherhood is easy. Let’s try our best to encourage each other, no matter what season of motherhood we are in.

With love and donuts,

Jenny

Being a Stay at Home Mom while Pursuing Your Dreams

It’s ok to be a stay at home mom and pursue your dreams!

Can we have an honest moment? I thought being a stay at home mom meant that I literally take care of my kids 24/7. No working outside of the home. Playdates a couple days a week, max. When I had my first child, I assumed that meant everything else was on hold. I’ll raise babies, then pursue my passions when they’re older. At that time I had only been a nurse for about two years and wasn’t ready to give that up completely. I found an amazing sitter for my daughter and worked one day a week until I had my second child, then worked two-three times a month after that. Initially I felt bad about that choice, but slowly realized I wasn’t making a mistake. I also had a photography business on the side, but didn’t fully dive in until about a year into my motherhood journey. There were always so many dreams and passions inside of me, I just didn’t know how to merge them with my biggest dream, which was being a mom.

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I’m only three and a half years into this motherhood thing, but God has been showing me some things that I never thought were possible. I’m realizing that when I leave my kids with someone I trust to go do something I want to do – it makes me better. I love being a nurse. Leaving my daughter once a week to go pursue something I love did not make me a bad mom, but a better mom. 

When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I knew I wanted to stay home with my kids if at all possible. My husband is a big supporter of that and works hard to make sure that can happen. But when these dreams came up in me I had a hard time understanding what to do with them. I loved photography and am now falling more in love with blogging each and every post, but is that ok? Will my kids be disappointed that Mom may be gone a little more than I was before?

We’ve made some major adjustments in our family. My husband went from working swing shift (12 hour shifts including days and nights) to working from home. That’s another post for another day, but the story of how we got here is definitely something I want to share. Having that kind of flexibility has opened so many doors for our family.

Here’s what happens when I spend time doing something I love:

  • I am refreshed
  • I am more kind
  • I am more patient
  • I am more understanding
  • I am more thankful
  • I feel accomplished
  • I am the best version of myself

I cannot even being to tell you the amount of joy I get from raising these two little girls. I love being able to stay home with them, love on them, clean up after and with them, take care of them. I genuinely do love fostering their gifts and holding their hands through the trying times. What I’ve realized is that along with being a mom, I have other dreams and passions I didn’t even know existed. Figuring out how to merge all of these things together has been difficult, but one thing rings true: I am a better mom when I do something for myself. And it is not selfish, by any means. Our children deserve the best version of ourselves we can give them, and if that means you start a blog, a business or another endeavor – go for it. I’m thankful we live in a world where we can pursue our passions and still stay home with our babies. Thank you, internet. I do my best to make the most of nap time and wake up before my kids so I can be present with them throughout the day. Spoiler alert – I am far from perfect at that. I’m currently nursing my youngest back to sleep so I can finish this post. You just do what you gotta do!

Gymboree Sale On Now!

Meg Meeker said, “The most powerful way to teach a daughter how to enjoy life is for her to see her mother doing the same.” I want my children to see me living a life that is full and focused on running this race for Christ at my highest potential. As I get a clearer perspective on this, I feel more and more at peace with the decisions I’m making for my family.


 “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.” Romans 8:28 (VOICE)


If you are in the same boat, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What are my hopes and dreams?
  • Are they in line with what God wants and what the Word teaches?
  • How will pursuing them make my family better?
  • How will they make me better?
  • What will it teach my children?

To sum it up – taking time away from my kids makes me a better mom. And friends, that is ok. Let go of the guilt, let go of the pressure. You are doing a great job, and you are making eternal differences in the lives of your littles. Keep pursuing your goals, dreams and passions. There are so many ways to merge them into Motherhood. You were created this way for a reason, dreams are put in our heart for a reason. Motherhood is not a hindrance, but an open door to see what else God has for us.

To the Mom Who is Scared

As a mom of a one year old and three year old, fear has never been stronger. We need to talk about it. The enemy is attacking my heart and scaring me to raise these babies in a world like this. In a world full of so much tragedy, and so much pain.

Someone told me when I was pregnant with my first, “I don’t know why anyone would bring a child into the world we live in.” They didn’t know I was pregnant at the time, but I truly felt taken aback that someone would even think that fear would stop them from starting a family.

Now I am scared every day. The “what if’s” happen every time I leave my kids with someone else, every time we are out in a crowd somewhere, and every time I put them to bed. Fear is trying to take over my parenting.

All I can do is pray. I pray for peace. I pray for wisdom. I pray for protection. I pray for for the strength to tell fear that it is not welcome here. I will not live in fear. I will not be robbed of the joys that motherhood brings. I do not know what my children will go through in this life, but I know that if I live in fear, I will miss out on so much.

As a mom of two toddlers, I make a choice daily to focus on raising them well. Raising them kind. And raising them to know Jesus and His extraordinary love for us. There are things in this world I can’t control, but I am in control of how I raise my children and how I can love them well. I choose to focus on that. Let’s encourage each other to not live in fear. It can be tough raising babies, toddlers, teenagers. It can be scary. Let’s do our best to raise them well, raise them kind, and to tell fear it is not welcome here.


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34


This calling of motherhood is not an easy one. But we need to remember that as we are doing dishes, picking up clothes, wiping noses and making sure everyone is fed, we are doing kingdom work. We are fulfilling the call placed on our lives to take care of our family. And what an honor. What a joy it is to be a parent. What a joy it is to have clothes to fold! And noses to wipe! Mamas, we are called to this. We can’t let fear take over our motherhood.

I will still worry, because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. But I will not let it take over my motherhood. I will do my best to focus on what I can control, rather than the things I can’t. We can’t control what is happening in our world, but we can love our families well. Let’s start there.

 

 

What does the Bible say about Self-Care?

“As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” Luke 5:16 (MSG) 

How many times have you wanted to go to a lonely place to pray? Sometimes I go to my prayer closet, also known as my bathroom. The problem is that a toddler usually needs something every 0.5 seconds when I’m in the bathroom. What is that?

I have been hearing about this “self-care” concept for a while now. It’s all over the internets and especially in the blog world. I tend to breeze through these articles and think that one day, when the kids are older, I will do this again. But not now, not with two toddlers. They need me too much and I will set myself aside. But something I had to teach myself is that self-care is NOT selfish. It is necessary. How can we pour into our family if we are not filling ourselves up?

I don’t think self-care is something we can put on the back burner. I think as moms, it should be one of our highest priorities. The stresses that come from parenting fluctuate like the seasons, but one thing we can be consistent in is how we take care of ourselves.  I’ve missed those pedicure days, but what I’ve missed most is my “me time.” The time that left you feeling refreshed and like a better version of yourself. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate that into motherhood. But mamas, there is a way. There is a way to still have “me time” and do self-care even when you are parenting toddlers.

We’ve heard it over and over again. We cannot continue to pour into others if we are not filling ourselves up. But what does that really mean? How do we fill ourselves up? I think this looks different for everyone. The truth is that God wants us to rest. He talks about it all throughout scripture.

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) 

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2 (NIV) 

Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 (MSG)

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from hisLet us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV) 

I am constantly asking the Lord to teach me to be more like Him, that my thoughts and actions would reflect His. God leads us in example by showing us how to rest, just as He did. Mamas, this is so important. We are commanded to rest.  I feel like we often miss it in the busy and sometimes chaotic seasons of parenting. But it’s a necessity. How and when we rest will be up to us. But here are a few quick examples that can help you get started:
  • Go to bed early
  • Read a new book (currently reading Whispers of Rest – a 40 day devotional)
  • Take a walk
  • Take an epson salt bath
  • Journal
  • Do yoga
  • Treat yourself to a cup of coffee… maybe even a donut 🙂
  • Turn off your phone for a few hours
  • Pray
  • Say no to something
  • Declutter (so refreshing!) Check out this post to see how it’s changed my life.
  • Watch a movie or your favorite show
  • Workout
  • Take a nap
  • Call someone you love

These are all easy things that can be added into your everyday. Of course a spa day would be nice, but let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So for now we can focus on what we can do. Let’s get more rest and fill up our cups. We are called to give of ourselves, but we are also responsible for being the best version of ourselves.

Let me know how your self-care journey is going. Are you filling yourself up so you can pour out?

An Open Letter to my Husband From Your Stay-At-Home-Wife

To my husband,

Thank you for giving the kids a bath, even when you feel like you have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

When we are wrangling kids and trying to get out the house and you say, “What can I do to help?” Thank you for that.

I am constantly needed throughout the day. When you come home and see that the house is a hot mess – instead of saying, “What did you do all day?” You start picking things up and putting things away. That is what I need. That is what our family needs. Thank you.

I can’t tell you how much it means when you say, “Go take a break, I’ve got the kids.” It is very difficult for me to say “I need a break” when I know you’ve had a long day too. Words cannot express how much I need you to say it.

Thank you for loving me, even at my worst. I try so hard, so stinkin’ hard to do this mom and wife thing well. When I fail, I appreciate you being there as a helping hand, rather than being disappointed in me.

The kids are dying to spend time with you. Thank you for prioritizing time with each one of them. And thank you for treating them like the gifts that they are, rather than a bother.

Thank you for listening when the kids tell you about their day, even if you have no idea what they are saying. Thank you for being excited with them.

Please know that I don’t need much, I just need to know that you appreciate me too. Thank you for letting me know that I am doing a good job. It keeps me going.

Thank you for doing the dishes. When I hear that you’re doing them and I didn’t even have to ask you to do them, I get those same butterflies you gave me when we first met.

Thank you for not letting your job stop when you are done working. And thank you for understanding that just because I’m not away at a job everyday, I am working very hard.

Thank you for showing our kids that I am first, and they are second.

Thank you for leading us in prayer throughout the day. And thank you for showing our kids what it means for you to love me like Christ loves the church. You are setting the standard for their future spouses.

Thank you for loving me so well, day in and day out.

Thank you for supporting my dreams.

Thank you for hearing me, really hearing me when I need it most.

Nothing makes me happier than watching you play with our kids. Thank you for being a horsey, helicopter and every Disney character under the sun to put a smile on their face.

Thank you for being an honest man. A hardworking man. And a godly man.

Thank you for going along with my crazy ideas – like going camping for two nights with two toddlers. It’s going to be fun, I just know it.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful, when we both know I’m on day three of dry shampoo and sweatpants are my jam.


I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.

– Your stay at home wife

Pictures c/o Lindsey Cassidy Photography

Ergo 360 Baby Carrier

Every Friday, I’m going do a blog post highlighting a product that I absolutely love! I’m really excited about this, because there are so many things that have made my mom life easier, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

First up, is the Ergo 360 Baby Carrier. We have been a fan of Ergo from the start, but when they came out with their 360 version, we couldn’t contain our excitement. We were dying to find a safe, ergonomically correct carrier that held our babies front facing.

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Pictures c/o Ergobaby

We used the Ergo 360 with our second daughter, and she absolutely loved it. I also loved it. Here’s why:

  • It is ergonomic
  • Forward facing option
  • Privacy hood (50 SPF) for nursing and/or nap time!
  • It has a wide waistband for extra back support (yes, please!)
  • Adjustable padded shoulder straps
  • Made for 12-45 lbs. But also has an option for a newborn insert
  • It is SO comfortable
  • Very easy to breastfeed
  • Four positions: front carry (facing in), front carry (facing out – 5 months), hip carry (6 months+), back carry (6 months+)

My girls are 18 months apart, so this really was a life saver for me when I had my second! It gave me more confidence when going places because I could easily hold my toddler’s hand. It’s structure is so well made!

Make sure you don’t miss any of my Friday Favorites! Subscribe below! 🙂

10 Ways Simplifying has Changed my Life

10 Ways Simplifying has Changed my Life

Simplifying has changed my life is so many ways. In the past year, I have intentionally simplified our family life, our home, our schedules and my motherhood. We still have a long way to go, but I just have to share how simplifying has benefited our family.

I have listened to podcasts, read books, and “Pinterested” way too many articles on simplifying and minimalism. I first started implementing strategies after listening to Allie Casazza’s podcast. Game changer. It wasn’t a new concept to me, but it really gave me the practical advice I needed. You’ll want to follow Allie. Her knowledge and wisdom has been instrumental in my motherhood and marriage. Emily Ley has also been a great wealth of knowledge. She is raising three kids and rockin’ being a business owner and a mom. Her book, A Simplified Life, has some of the most practical advice I’ve ever read! It was a great addition to our simplifying process. Keep reading to see 10 ways simplifying has changed my life!

I always thought that because we didn’t have a lot of stuff, we were living simple. We have a small home and live frugally.  But here’s the deal. We did have a lot of stuff! I just didn’t realize it because it was usually tucked away. If you were to come by to visit about a year ago, there would be a 50/50 chance that you were about to walk into a toddler tornado, or a mostly tidy and clean home. I cleaned when I could, and when our schedule allowed. If I had a few days of just staying home, I would clean consistently. If our calendar was full for a few days, the house was let go. It wasn’t terrible, but I always found myself wishing I could get a system down that would simplify our home and cleaning process.

Turns out, there is a way. I’ve learned a lot from my research, but also from practicing these things in my own life. One things I try my best to live by is something that Emily Ley talks about in her Book, A Simplified Life: only keep the best, the necessary and your favorite. This was the foundation for my simplifying and decluttering process.

Here are a few ways simplifying has changed my life:

  1. I spend less time cleaning. It’s incredible. I thought to have a clean home I would literally have to be cleaning all the time. That or hire someone. Not the case at all. Since we have gotten rid of the things we don’t need, there is not as much laundry, dirty dishes or overflow of stuff lying around. Things can’t pile up like they used to because we only have what we need. Which means there is not as much laundry or dishes to wash. I’ll go into this more on the practical post I’ll be making soon!
  2. It gave my kids the opportunity to give. My girls are only 3.5 and 2 years old. But those girls LOVE to give. They love helping and I want to foster that as they grow. My two year old can’t quite understand, but I’ll explain to them that there are other kids in need that don’t have a lot to play with, and since we have extra, we can share our toys with them. It’s hard to explain, but when my three year old understands the why behind this process, she is so excited to be a part of it.
  3. It simplified my cleaning process. Emily Ley recommends doing a load of laundry a day. We don’t have quite enough for that, but we have implemented doing a load every other day. I try to throw in a load in the washer in the morning and fold it as soon as it’s done so it’s not weighing me down. Incorporating this into our schedule is key. I am not perfect at it, but I try if at all possible to be consistent. When I have to do the more time consuming tasks like mopping and vacuuming, I include the girls when I can. Sometimes they have to find ways to keep themselves busy, but when they are included they feel such a sense of accomplishment. They just can’t wait to tell Daddy about it!
  4. Our home is more peaceful. My goal from day one of starting a family has been to cultivate a peaceful home. I am in better spirits when things are clean. My husband and myself both feel less stressed when the house is in order. We slowly added things like picking up after ourself every time into our everyday. It may take more time at the moment, but it saves SO much time at the end of the day.
  5. It is consistent. Most of the time. There are definitely times when life happens and things are thrown off. But it makes it so much easier to play catch up when you’re just picking up from a few days of busy, rather than weeks of things piling up. Being as consistent as possible is key to keeping things simple.
  6. I am a happier Mom. When I first became a mom, I kept hearing “It’s ok, the dishes can wait. Enjoy the moment.” And I 100% agree with this. I cherish moments with my babes everyday. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t ever clean. I realized that I am happier and I am a better mom when things around me are in order. And that’s ok. The dishes can wait, but not forever.
  7. Simplifying gives us room to enjoy our everyday. It allows for the things that matter. If we want to spontaneously go somewhere, it doesn’t stress me out anymore because we are not drowning in mess.
  8. Routines and structure work best for kids. It’s a chance for me to teach them how to keep a home. They know that before we move on to our next activity, we have to pick up the one we just finished. When I first implemented these things, there was a lot of push back. After a lot of repetition, they have finally caught on and most of the time it is not a fight. They know that this is how we do things in our home.
  9. It became easier to say “no.” I’ve never been much of a shopper, but after we decluttered, it made me realize that I only need to purchase something if I absolutely love it. I want to surround myself with things that are life-giving and make my home better. The same goes for toys and clothes. A few questions I ask myself: Do we need it? Do I love it? Is there room for it? Before I purchase it, I have to answer yes to all of these.
  10. Everything has it’s place. No more “junk piles.” Raise your hand if you have a junk pile by your back door. We still struggle with this, but are definitely getting better. If I notice a pile starting, I try to jump on it as soon as I can so it doesn’t get out of control.

I try to use the decluttering and simplifying process to glorify God. God has given me a family and I want to take care of them as best as I can. I look at cleaning and organizing as a way of giving to my family.

These may seems like little things, and by themselves they are! But if you can start to slowly implement them in your home, they will really make a difference! I am very passionate about how this has changed our life, so if you have any questions at all please let me know through the Contact tab! Thanks so much for reading. Good luck simplifying!

I’ll be doing a practical post soon on how I simplified and decluttered. Be on the look out! In the mean time, read this book!!!

Update! Here is the practical post: 10 Ways to Simplify Your Life This Week

What I Wish I knew as a First Time Mom

What I Wish I Knew as a First Time Mom

First time Mom probs. I had a lot of them. It was so hard to see when I was in the thick of it, but I was having a tough time adjusting to motherhood. I loved being a mom, I loved (almost) every aspect of taking care of my baby. But just like many first time moms – I struggled.

I struggled with control.

I struggled with worrying.

I forgot about my husband.

I isolated myself.

When I was pregnant with my first, I received so much advice on how to do this mom thing well. Good advice, bad advice, advice that made me go… “say what?” All kinds of advice. But it didn’t matter what I heard or read, nothing could prepare me for what motherhood would be like. No one knows what they will be like as a mom, until they are a mom. So regardless of the advice you hear, remember that your journey is just that, it’s yours. Take the advice you like and leave the rest. And if you need to adjust or seek different advice once you are a mom, you do that!

I was so caught up in preparing to be a mom. Like most of us, I dreamed about what motherhood would be like. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mom. Needless to say, I put A LOT of pressure on myself. I just wanted to do this mom thing right. But man, when you put those kind of expectations on yourself, you’re bound to fail.

Here are some things I wish I knew as a first time mom:

  1. Things will not go as planned. From the time that baby is out of you, things will probably not be the way you pictured it. When I first became a mom, I found myself feeling so disappointed with the smallest things. I was striving for perfection, and it is not even close to attainable. Grace on grace on grace. There’s beauty in the unpredictable moments. Rather than letting those moments stress me out, I wish I would’ve seen them as opportunities to lean on God even more.
  2. Take a minute, or thirty-seven for yourself. I was so fearful of something going wrong if I left her with someone. She was used to me and how I did things, what if the person watching her didn’t know those things? It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to benefit everyone. I needed time for myself that I didn’t think I needed. The baby needed time away from me. Grandma got some one on one time in. It was hard, but it got easier each time.
  3. Include your significant other. I read all the books. All the blog posts. All the articles. I was ready to tackle whatever this baby would bring. My husband couldn’t possibly know what to do because he didn’t read the books. Turns out, he did know what to do! He’s Daddy. He knew how to love that child and bond with her. At times me and my internet knowledge got in the way of that.
  4. Grandparents want and need to help. My biggest regret from early parenthood is that I pushed them away rather than welcomed them in. I was so over-protective that they felt like they were walking on egg shells. That was their grand baby and I was just sitting there keeping her to myself! Goodness, I wish I could go back to those early days and share her with the people that love her so much.
  5. You will fail… daily. I wish I could tattoo grace on my forehead. Maybe I’ll run that idea by my husband and see how he feels about it. I failed daily and I still do. I used to beat myself up over it and feel like such a failure if things didn’t go as planned. I’ve learned to give myself grace in those moments. All I can do is all I can do. And as long as I’m doing my best, that’s all that matters.
  6. FIND MOM FRIENDS. I can’t emphasize this enough. As my daughter got older, I made this a priority. But I didn’t realize how important it was until I developed those friendships. We are all in this together. Put yourself out there. Go to MOPS. Go to Chick-fil-A where dreams come true. Invite another mom over for a play date. We need adult conversation and our kids need to interact with other kids. Get out there, mama!
  7. You will sleep again. I remember being in zombie mode for months. I was trying to enjoy the early days, but I was just so dang tired. The whole “sleep when the baby sleeps” didn’t make sense to me because there was always so much to be done. But looking back, I should’ve just slept.
  8. Do what is best for YOUR family. Oh the opinions that come in. It never stops. We are all doing what’s best for our family. Mom shaming is real, don’t let yourself go there. Don’t compare what you’re doing to what other moms are doing. Do what is best for your family and know that they are doing what’s best for their family.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “No. We are ok. Thank you though.” My classic response as a first time mom. “It takes a village” is a real thing. When someone offers help, take them up on it. You deserve a break and if you don’t want to leave your baby, have someone come over so you can take a nap while they watch them.
  10. Try really hard to cherish the moments you want to remember. I was so worried about every little thing that I forgot to stop and really enjoy those sweet, subtle moments. Was I doing the right thing with the schedule and nursing and diaper changes? Who knows. I just know I was doing my best, and I’ve learned to recognize those sweet moments, and stop to really cherish them.

11. It’s not about the pictures. I’m a photographer, so I am all about the pictures. But I also think there’s a time for it. Sometimes it can really take away from those moments. You don’t have to take a picture of every little thing. My fondest memories aren’t on my iPhone, they’re in my heart because I was really present for it.

12. Nap time is your time. Tired? Sleep. Want to read a good book? Do it. Call up a friend? Go for it. Whatever you do, do not let yourself feel bad about it. Nap time is an opportunity to take care of you. Without self care we can’t be the best version of ourselves. So take the bubble bath!

What a gift it is to be a mom. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Be the best mom you can be and call it a day. Don’t let yourself overthink every little thing from that day. Tomorrow is a new day with new mercies. And if all else fails, get yourself a DONUT.

5 Reasons We Had a Home Birth

Woahhhh. I had no idea the responses I would get when we started telling people we were having a home birth. I was confident in my decision, but sometimes people wondered if we were on the crazy train. We had a hospital birth with my first, and overall things went well. I was induced (10 days overdue) and was able to have a natural birth which I was thankful for. But there was something about the idea of having your baby at home that seemed so comforting to me. We decided to use a local birth center. Originally we were going to have the baby at their facility. We currently had an 18 month old that had not spent a night away. I hated the thought of her first night away being when her sister entered the world. After talking with the birth center, we found out they offer home births as well and decided to deliver at home.

The story goes a little something like this. My husband had been up for almost 24 hours. He was working swing shift at the time and had just come off night shift. He was up the whole following day. We were getting ready to go to bed around 11:00pm, and I started feeling something. I looked at my husband and said, “I think it’s happening.” He said, “Are you sure? Can it wait until morning?” I tried not to laugh but I know I did. I told him I don’t think it works like that and we should probably call the midwife. Poor guy was so tired. But I was also getting ready to birth a baby so I could only give so much grace in that moment.

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We had a friend come stay with our toddler. She was in and out of sleep all night. So it was wonderful having our friend there to help keep her company. She also came in to say “hi” to Mommy and Daddy before things really got going. Those were some special moments.

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I loved doing the “slow dance” motion during my contractions with my first birth, and I followed suit with the second as well. I just wanted to stand and sway. Things really got going around 3:00am. Intense contractions with small breaks in-between. Which I never got when I was induced. What a relief to have a break! Even if for just a few minutes. My water broke around 4:50am and I was ready to push right after that. Olivia was born at 5:05am. She was twelve days late, only to be born on Leap Day!

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  1. I didn’t have to go anywhere. Being in the comfort of my home was incredible. I didn’t have to ask if I could do anything. My midwife was calm and gave me confidence that I was doing a great job. Also, not packing a hospital bag was the cherry on top.
  2. My toddler didn’t have to go anywhere. I remember finding out we were pregnant and immediately thinking about how she would adjust to this new addition. She was able to meet her little sister at home. Shortly after Olivia was born she came into our room and got to hug and kiss her for the first time. It was one of the sweetest moments I can remember. It’s a moment that will forever melt my heart.
  3. Comfort in knowing that if something were to go wrong, my midwife would be on top of it. The biggest question we received was, “What if something goes wrong?” Midwives are very well trained and are definitely aware of what to do if something does go wrong. They are not shy about that. We were well aware that if they think anything may be wrong in any way, they wouldn’t hesitate to get us where we need to be. Not once did I question if we were in good hands. My husband did just admit to me the other day that he was “freaking out” the whole time. But I was fine. Must’ve been his sleep deprivation.
  4. Sleep in my own bed. Y’all. After everything was said and done, we took the longest family nap ever. It was so needed. No one was waking us up. We just slept. I felt so much more rested this time around, and I credit it to the fact that we could sleep when we wanted to. Aside from the feedings every 2-3 hours of course.
  5. I could do whatever I wanted to do. I remember looking at my friend, who had also had a home birth, and asking her, “Is it ok to eat a banana?” She assured me I could do whatever I wanted to do. That was a good feeling. And that was one good banana.

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I am thankful for the opportunity to have a baby at home. It was a beautiful experience and we hope to have all our future children at home as well.

Do you have any questions about home birth? Have you had a home birth yourself? Let me know in the comments below!

The Best Marriage Advice We Ever Received

When my husband and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us some advice that definitely helped our marriage get started on the right foot. We were given many resources on starting a healthy marriage, keeping each other first, among other great advice. But one thing that stood out to me the most was this: “Only speak highly of your spouse.” 

I know some of you are cringing, but hear me out. When we first got married I thought, well I’ve got this one in the bag. I would never speak poorly of my husband because he is the most amazing person to ever live and I get to marry him! Right? Totally my train of thought. It’s very easy to say what we will and won’t do in marriage until we’re actually… married.

I found myself at times going to complain about something my husband had done or ask another wife if her husband struggled with something similar. It’s only natural for us to want to voice those things. Now, there’s a difference in saying, “His snoring keeps me up all night,” and “I am so tired of picking up after him.” The snoring is something he can’t control. Picking up after himself is something he can control. I told myself if it is something that he can control, then he should be the one I’m talking to about it. If I ran to my girlfriend and complained about him not picking up after himself, who would that benefit? No one. If our husbands don’t know that what they are doing bothers us, how can they fix it? I quickly realized that they cannot read our minds… unfortunately. We have to communicate… over-communicate.

My husband and I both agreed to make this a priority in our marriage. We have both slipped up at times, but for the most part this rings true. What comes out of our mouth is an overflow of what’s in our heart. My heart is for my husband, my words need to be as well.

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When I feel myself getting frustrated or bothered by something my husband is doing I ask myself a few questions:

  • Does he know this bothers me? 
  • Is it something he can control?
  • Is it something I need to let go? 
  • Is it worth bringing up? 

If he doesn’t know it bothers me, I try to kindly and respectively say something. That way he is aware, and I’m not letting it build up and continue to bother me. If he does already know that it bothers me, I speak up. I like to call them “friendly reminders.” If it’s out of his control, I try to adjust. If it’s something that will continue to bother me if I don’t say anything? Then yes, I will bring it up. If it’s something silly that can easily be let go, I try my best to let it go.

There are things in marriage that I will want to complain about. I try to turn that focus to what my spouse is doing well rather than complain about what bothers me. What a great feeling for your spouse – to know that you are only speaking highly of them. We all have our faults, but our spouse should always have our back and our best interest in mind.

We are not perfect at this by any means, but the more aware I am of how I am speaking about my spouse has saved me many times. I never want to put my spouse in a negative light or put him down to others. We are a team and we are called to build each other up.

I do this in hope that he is doing the same for me. I put myself in my spouse’s shoes. Would I want him complaining about me to others? No. I would rather him come to me with whatever is bothering him so we can tackle it together.

Check out this post to see a list of our top ten favorite marriage books!

Let me know if this is something that you try to do or something you’re working on! I’d love to hear from you. Comment below! 

 

*This is a general overview or how speaking highly of your spouse can be beneficial for your marriage. There are definitely times when something needs to be said. This post is in no way referring to abuse situations.

Don’t Wish Moments Away…

Don’t wish moments away… but what about the hard moments? I really want to wish those away. I want to skip through those and get to the good ones. The reality is that there will be hard moments throughout our motherhood journey. There most definitely, without a doubt, be hard moments. I’m only 3.5 years into this thing and the hard moments are much more present than I would prefer. I find myself thinking: “This will be easier when she’s 4, or 5, or 12.” What I’ve realized is that each age is going to be challenging. Each age will have wonderful moments and hard moments. The beauty is that those moments are just that – moments. Moments that will pass. Moments that will probably get harder before it gets better.

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I have to stop wishing these moments away. What an opportunity we are given when these hard moments come. An opportunity to lean on God and seek his face when we feel like we have nothing left. It’s such an honor to raise these little people, but it can also be a daunting task at times. I have cried out to God so many times because of these moments. He reminds me that this will pass. He surrounds me with the peace that passes all understanding. And turns out I can never understand it. How does He do that? He just wraps us up and this overwhelming peace just takes over.

Instead of wishing those moments away, I’m trying to see them as opportunities. Opportunities to hear from the Lord. To feel His presence even when things are hard. He’s teaching me that these hard moments are an opportunity to get closer to Him. I’m learning more about myself (especially my weaknesses), and in the midst of disciplining toddlers and trying to stay sane – I’m learning how to be a better person. How to be more patient and understanding. While I definitely do not enjoy this hard part of parenting, I can see what God’s doing there.  We’re disciplining our children, while God is giving us chances to grow. Now trust me, I fail at this daily. More like hourly. But when I can do it well, I can look back and thank God for giving me that opportunity to teach my children, as well as grow as a Mom.

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I’ve learned that it’s ok to not like the hard moments. That phrase, “Enjoy it, it goes by so fast” is most definitely true. But I have had some really long days, some really hard moments. And during those times I am not enjoying it. That’s ok. I remind myself often that it’s ok to not enjoy the moments that are frustrating and confusing. I remind myself that these children are just longing to be heard and understood. They want us to hear them so badly. Am I? Am I really listening to their heart? Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp talks deeply about this. The root of the problem is in their heart. So many times when I want to react to a behavior, I try to stop myself to figure out what’s really going on. Number one, are they hungry? Number two, are they tired? If we rule these out then we can really start searching.

In those hard moments when I really don’t want to search their heart, I’ve realized that’s when I’m missing it. I’m missing an opportunity to learn more about my child and their heart. My oldest is three and she able to let me know what’s going on. I may have to translate it for someone else, but I totally get her. I try to take that opportunity to hear her, really hear her and figure out what the root of the problem is. Because their behaviors are just that – moment by moment changing emotions that take over and come out through their behavior. But what about what’s underneath that behavior? Sinful nature, yes. But what else? I’m diving deep into this, and I pray that you will come along with me. Share what you’re learning about this things called motherhood. Let me know how we can better search our child’s heart instead of just the surface of their behavior.

Thank you so much for being here and hearing my heart. Comment below and let me know your thoughts on this topic. We Mama’s have to help each other out!

photography by Love + Covenant

4 Ways to Stay Connected In-between the Date Nights…

Date nights. I think we can all agree that they are from the Lord. There are all kinds of date nights – the few and far between, the monthly, the weekly, the bi-weekly. Whatever your date night of choice is –  we know that they are sacred. Adults of small children love to spend uninterrupted time together. We have gone through seasons of weekly date nights, and then we’ve had moments when we say, “we should probably go on a date night since it’s been a little over three months.” We’ll set a schedule and then life happens and date nights get put on the back burner. Right now we are doing twice a month date nights. It’s working out well. It definitely gives us something to look forward to. But what about the time in-between date nights? How are we getting quality time in? I find myself craving time with my husband, but have a hard time making it a priority.

Let me just say that this time is precious. These moments with our littles are fleeting. And I know it is flying by. But I think something that we should also be talking about is the everyday struggle of focusing on your spouse in the midst of parenting babies and/or toddlers. They are all consuming. Spending focused time with your spouse can be difficult at times. What if the kids don’t nap at the same time? What if they’ve given up napping altogether? What if you are so exhausted by the end of the day that you can barely keep your eyes open to focus on your spouse?

I ask these questions because we are in the throes of it. We have a one year old and a three year old. Spending time with my husband is something I desire, but feel like I fail at often. To be honest, I’ve deeply struggled with keeping my husband first in the midst of all-consuming toddlers. I want to give him the best of me, but there are days when I feel like there’s nothing left. I’ve prayed through this, and reached out to others but haven’t gotten any solid answers. Pinterest even left me feeling disappointed. Which can only mean one thing – it’s time to get creative.

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1. Couch Time – Allie Cassazza (http://alliecasazza.com/) talks about this on her podcast. She and her husband spend time together at the end of the day and just catch up. We are trying to incorporate this into our everyday. We want to have just a few minutes to sit on the couch together and try to connect. We talk about how we’re doing and bring up anything that may have been on our heart throughout the day. We pull out an activity for the girls (1 & 3 years old) that we know will keep them busy for at least a few minutes so we can have this time. Ideally we would have this type of conversation before bed, but we are both so exhausted at that time and want to give each other as much focused time as possible.

2. Daily Devotional – Whether you have time with your spouse in the morning, evening, or during the day – a daily devotional will change the game. These devotionals will start the conversation for you, so there’s no pressure to figure out what you’re going to talk about. We are currently going through The Love Dare Day by Day. It’s wonderful!

3. Car Ride – Depending on the age of your kids, a car ride might just be the perfect time to spend time together. We have taken advantage of this many times. After the babies get past the “I hate the car seat and nothing will make it better” phase, it can definitely work. Coloring books are usually involved. Oh and side note –  Color Wonder books will change your life. They have markers that only write on the page of the coloring book. These people are geniuses. Snacks are also a winner in our book. It’ll give us at lease 10 minutes. If we are feeling a little out of sorts or that we just simply aren’t connected, we will take a car ride. It’s good to get out of your house and in a different environment for a little while, even if it’s a short conversation. It’ll be focused time to reconnect.

4. The Nap Time Quickie – Like a quick(ie) conversation. Sheesh, it’s not that kind of blog. But listen, it can be whatever you want it to be. Let’s just keep it to ourselves. If the stars align and your children nap at the same time and your husband is home – do not pass up this opportunity. I will say it again – stop what you are doing and go find your husband. There will always, ALWAYS be something to do. I am so guilty of not wanting to deviate from the to-do list. But in these times of being parents to small children, you have to jump at these opportunities. I never regret putting everything else aside to spend time with my husband.

It took a while to figure all of this out, and we’re still figuring it out! Is there anything you do with your spouse everyday? Anything that helps connect you quickly instead of waiting for a date night? Let me know in the comments below! 

Give Your Toddler More Responsibility!

Toddlers. Let’s talk about them. The good, the bad, and the smells. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I think of my oldest as our guinea pig. In the most loving way of course. I tend to feel like we are constantly winging it because every day is something new. She’s always changing and curve balls happen often. It’s an adventure and I adore her, it just takes some time to really learn who she is and who she’s becoming. She is currently 3.5 years old and I am starting to enjoy this stage. There are challenges, lots and lots of challenges. But overall I am enjoying the fact that she can communicate and understand better.  I am seeing who she is and really trying to hone in on her gifts and positive characteristics.

When I had my second child, my oldest was only 18 months old. My saving grace was that she became my little helper. She loved being able to help even if it was just grabbing me a diaper. I feel like kids are naturally wired to be helpers, but it is such a big part of her life now that I’m starting to see it as a gift. If someone falls down at the playground, she’ll be running to make sure they’re ok. If I drop something on the floor, she wants to pick it up right away (and hopefully not eat it). She loves every chance to help. While at times this can be inconvenient, I’m trying to foster that characteristic rather than allow it to bother me.

In the past year or so, I’ve tried to include her in everyday chores and activities (rather than treat her like a bother so I can do something). I’ll be honest, when she helps me with dinner – it takes twice as long. I have to slow down and remember that these days are flying by. If dinner takes twice as long, that’s ok. She is learning and she is loving every minute of helping Mommy. Here are some examples of ways I include her in our everyday tasks:

  • Folding laundry – This is our most recent chore. I need to stop thinking of her as “little” and remember that she is so capable of these things. It may not be the best folding job, but I taught her how to fold shirts, pants and hang up clothes. And she can totally do it! Those kids learn fast, faster than we may realize.
  • Cooking dinner – You can either lay out a sheet, or just let them make a mess and remember that it can be cleaned up. I choose to let her make a mess. If we are making dough, she is totally capable of pouring and whisking. And you guys, she lights up! I mean she thinks she is captain cool in our house when this is going on. It’s a joy to see, and also added work for me, but it’s so worth it.
  • Picking up after herself – this is one we’ve worked on for a while, and are still working on. She is by no means perfect at it, but when she does remember to do this on her own – I give her all the praise. I make it a huge deal so she knows that when she picks up after herself, she is doing something awesome.
  • Feed the dog – A little responsibility can go a long way. My toddler knows that this is her job and she feels such a sense of accomplishment once it’s done. We also implement a chore chart that involves stickers. The stickers may be the only motivation, but I’ll take it.

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These are just a few examples. I try to include her in as much as I can. My almost two year old is starting to catch on as well! I give her smaller tasks, but she still has that same sense of accomplishment when she completes a chore.

 

Thank you for reading! Does your toddler love to do chores? What else could you add to the list? Comment below and let’s talk about it!