Category Archives: Keepin’ It Real

Tips for Bible study when you have small children

I remember as a teenager having oodles of time for Bible study. After school or work, I would head up to our loft with my two Bible (one for each language, of course!) a pack of highlighters, and my favorite commentary by Charles Spurgeon. I would read for hours and loved every second.

Fast forward a few years and I’m a wife/mom/missionary combo with a pack of children and very busy days. I miss my hours up in the loft with my Bible and Spurgeon.
What is a mom to do?
My Bible study habits have had it’s ups and downs. There have been good seasons and bad seasons.
In interest of full disclosure, two years ago when on furlough I, the missionary wife, was asked in front of a group of ladies at a church’s missions conference how I found time to read my Bible.
My answer? “I don’t. I’m not sure if I even packed my Bible in my suitcase for this trip. I think I forgot it.” It was not an answer I was proud of, but it was the truth. I went on to tell them how happy I was that I had committed verses to memory as a child and teenager because many days that was all I could do was say a Bible verse over and over in my head. I told them I had been blessed and encouraged by reading my kids Bible storybook to them. I also told them that biggest lesson I had learned during that very busy, hectic year was that my children are not a distraction.
On the rare occasions that I did get up early to read my Bible and found a small child had woken up too, the best thing to do is pull them up on your lap and read it aloud to them. Don’t huff, don’t puff, don’t get angry. Seize that teachable moment. No, you won’t be reading for hours with a squirmy toddler on your lap, it will most likely only be minutes, but it will help.
A few things I’ve learned in list form (because I LOVE lists!)
1. Do your best to get up early before the kids and read your Bible. Or read it when they’re napping, if you’re not a morning person. Maybe it’s just one verse, but read something!
2. Leave an open Bible on your kitchen counter, dining room table, or someplace prominent where you can walk by and get a quick glance. This will help instill the habit and practice of seeking out God’s Word.
3. Have a plan. Plan to read through God’s Word in two or three years. Take it slow and be realistic.
4. Have help! The Busy Mom’s Guide to Bible Study – A 15 Minute Daily Plan by Lisa Welchel was a big help to me when I had two babies. I was hesitant at first, the cover looked “fluffy” to me (I know that makes me sound snobby. ugh) but it wasn’t sweet nothings in the book, but more of a diving board for you to jump off of. Tips and tricks for how to study your Bible. I really enjoyed and was pleasantly surprised!
5. If you find your day whisking by and you haven’t had personal quiet time yet, gather the littles around and read two or three verses to them. Explain it simply and pray. Five minutes may be all you have, but God can work wonders with five minutes.
6. Memorize, memorize, memorize. We love the Fighter Verse app and are having a great time learning verses together as a family. Next time you find yourself standing at the sink with a mountain of dishes recite your verses. That time is not wasted.
7. Saturate your home with Bible verses. It could be pretty print-outs or just scribbled on Post-it notes on your bathroom mirror, but put His Word everywhere.
8. Don’t feel guilty when it doesn’t happen. God loves you and knows where you are right now. He sees the spit up stains on your shirt and dirty socks all over the floor, and he knows you’re oh so very tired. He loves you anyway and will be waiting.
A few more devotional books and helps I have found and loved for Bible study:

Now things have settled down a bit for us, I am able to wake up an hour before the girls and read my Bible. I am reading through one book at a time, one chapter at a time, until I read the whole thing. It may take me months, it may take me years, but I’m in no rush. I keep a basket with all my Bible study supplies in it so that when an opportunity pops up, I don’t have to rush around looking for my stuff. Pencils, a journal for my thoughts, my Bible, and whatever devotional or theological or helpful book I am reading through at the time. I usually only read about a paragraph or two before it’s time to make breakfast. I’m currently reading through Standing on the Promises by Doug Wilson.

While I would like to say that I read it every day, it simple isn’t true. If I was up too late the night before, I sleep in and the day slips by awfully fast. But I’m trying and every week is getting better.
So let me hear it from you. What works? What doesn’t? Any tips?
(And if you’re reading this and thinking…”uh…it’s been a long time and I’m not even sure where the Bible is…” trust me, I’ve been there too.)
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On loss and grace

Last Sunday I had my first miscarriage.

Miscarriage is one of those things that so many women have gone through, and every woman hopes she doesn’t have to go through it. Prior to this I have had three healthy, full term babies. I assumed I would never have a miscarriage, until I got pregnant with my fourth. And somehow, after the first two weeks, I just knew that this baby would not be here on Earth with us. My symptoms left suddenly, and I just knew. I was at peace with this and felt God’s grace washing all over me. On week nine, which is when Baby is supposed to be as big as grape, I had the miscarriage. It was hard, and sad, and yet…I’m amazed at how many blessings God gave me through the experience.

I saw my church family gather round and show me love and care through emails, text messages, phone calls, and many prayers.
I received emails, Facebook messages and comments from people all around the world. Kindness abounded from everyone.
I met a wonderful Christian gynecologist who took the time to hear me, respected my decisions, and then gave me wallpaper for my bathroom. Random, I know, but I walked into her office, told her much I loved her wallpaper and then she gave me some extra rolls of it she had in her cabinet. This almost made me cry. Here I am going through a miscarriage and receiving a pretty gift from a total stranger, a gift that I had secretly been hoping for and knew we could not afford anytime soon…God is kind and loving to me, even in the little things, like wallpaper for my bathroom.
All the food I had stocked my freezer with, the food I had made and frozen and planning to use for after the birth of the baby, came in handy for those days while I recovered.
I’m thankful I didn’t miscarry two weeks ago while Brian was at camp. I’m thankful it didn’t happen while we were in Asuncion doing paperwork.
Thankful that, as Elena put it, “This baby gets to spend his or her WHOLE life with Jesus and will never sin like we do.”
Thankful, that when it happened, we did not get angry at God or question Him.
Thankful, that no D&C was needed.
Thankful, that I’m healthy and feeling well again.
God is good and sovereign! What a truth to hold on to.

Life is now

Feeling overwhelmed and distraught today with the condition of my house. It’s never clean or organized and I’m always looking for my keys. I know what’s for dinner but I forgot to get it out of the freezer and we don’t have a microwave (but I’m starting to really want one!)
I spend all day wiping faces, making sandwiches, filling cups and changing diapers. You know, the basic survival stuff.
And like every other woman (person?) on the planet I convince myself that if I could just freeze all the little people around me for a day I could catch up. I could clean up the mess around them, find those crazy keys, and organize my desk. Oh, and thaw dinner.
I start to feel snippy and desperate and head over to Ann’s wise words (there are so many to choose from…) and I am reminded by her that this mess is life. Life is not waiting for me to get organized so that it can start, life is here…now, all around me.

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It is all from Him, it is all good, and it’s happening now.
(But I’m still glad Brian took the girls to the pool for the afternoon so I could make a nice dinner in a quiet house.)

Some messes are not nice, but some look cozy. Like this scene in the girls room. Pink, sunshine-y, and glowy. It makes me happy to see remnants of their creativity and playfullness laying around.

(Most of the time, anyway. Some days it drives me crazy!)

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I’ve been organizing, tidying up, cleaning out and sprucing up the house. I always seem to struggle with finding the balance between home and others. On the one hand, I realize the importance of making my home a haven for my family. I can glorify Christ through welcoming others into my home, helping them enjoy their stay, feeding them,etc. On the other hand, should I really care about hanging pictures on my wall? Should I spend less time inside and more time walking around the neighborhood with my girls finding people to encourage and help? When do you stop one good thing and move on to the other?

It reminds me of how important the Holy Spirit is in a Christian’s life. Every day is so different, and my role as wife, mother, missionary can change on an almost daily basis. I’m learning to follow His leading and enjoy the balance only He can give.

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New Years Eve around these parts

Isn’t my new kitchen artwork beautiful? My friends gifted it to us for Christmas and I couldn’t possibly love it more. That constant reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for me and the growth that He gives us, placed in my kitchen. The room of the house that gets the most use.

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I hope your New Years Eve celebration was a sweet as ours. We kept it simple with all of our littles running around. They did get to stay up late. Ten o’clock. Wow!

I am thankful for:

The look on her face when she sees ice cream being served.

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The joy these two have. Their excitement is contagious!
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Homemade ice cream cake to ring in the New Year

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Because what could be better than ice cream cake?
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A Crazy Costume Competition to end the evening? (Lexi decided to wear her Birthday Suit)
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How did you spend your New Years Eve?
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Farewell Christmas! Hello 2012!

Goodbye Christmas, see you next year. And may I just say, good riddance? I love Christmas, but I also love seeing it go. I love how BIG my living room feels after I pack the tree up, I love how clean the house looks without piles of odds and ends everywhere.
Christmas this year was interesting for me. We had planned for almost six months to bring my brother and his wife down as a Christmas surprise for my mom. I had very big expectations for Christmas. All my girls with all my siblings and two of my bestest friends.
But, oh, the girls were sick! For weeks. And still are.
Cough, cough, cough.
No long cozy afternoon at my mom’s…it was more like one hour of eating bites of delicious food in between puke buckets, and mopping up piles of goo. There was also a lot of tears and whiny children who just didn’t feel good. We left my mom’s house and went back to my house where we tucked all of our little sickos into bed, and then stared at the wall in a daze.
I had wanted Christmas to be “perfect” and do advent and make sure my girls were focused on Christ more than gifts. Turns out it was I who really needed the lesson. My perfect Christmas dreams were shattered as I wiped runny nose after runny nose. A constant reminder that Christmas isn’t about fun and games and advent reading but about a perfect Saviour who came to an imperfect world.
His Holiness meeting our earthly sin and sickness.
As it turns out, Christmas was perfect after all.
And now the New Year is upon us, which in this house means lots of fruits and veggies to clean all of those Christmas carbs out of our system.
My only New Years Resolution is to keep reading through my Bible till I’ve read every single word. And I won’t get there in a year, but that’s okay.
What are your resolutions?

Take them OUTSIDE.

What I remember most about my days with two babies was how long those days were. I was the sole source of…everything, for both of them, and it was beyond exhausting.
One of my solutions was to take them for very long walks.
I would put 5 month old Abbie in the Baby Bjorn, and grab 2 year old Elena by the hand, and we would be off.
We would walk for hours.
It gave them a chance to breathe fresh air and me a chance to talk to other adults. It would make their little legs tired and give me some exercise.
We would get home dusty, sweaty, but hey! It was dinner time, bath time and then bedtime! Another day finished: Woohoo!
Now, I feel like the days fly by, there’s so much to do and yet, not much of it is getting done. So what happens is we all start snipping at each other. What’s better? A clean kitchen and picky people or a sink full of dishes and happy people?
I try to choose the latter (but oh, how I love a clean kitchen!) and so many times, when I find that everyone is getting a bit clingy, grumbly, and droopy, we head outside.
For hours.
We drink terere with neighbors, we make new friends, we see a new bug, and we come home tired and happy.
I know it doesn’t always really make sense, to leave the long to do lists behind, but it’s so much better.
Seriously, grab some shoes and go outside.
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Chicken Run!

The other day we had quite the adventure. I’ll let Elena tell you about it in her own words:
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“Okay. Once upon a time, there was a chicken right next door and it came into our yard, and Alice was chasing it and I was screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Save the chicken!” And then Daddy stopped Alice, and I picked up the chicken. I was so proud of me! Then I was five years old, but now I’m six. And that was a very funny day. My Daddy was laughing very hard when he was chasing the chicken.”

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Abbie’s view on that day:
“I was thinking if that chicken would get dead by Alice. I was sooo worried. I screamed very loud. And laughing too. And I thinkded that I would have to take it back to the man that the chicken belongs to. Because I was scared of the chicken. And that’s it.”

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Captain Alice’s view:
“Chicken. Get in my belly.”
The End.

Graduating in Brazil

I was homeschooled from pre-school till 12th grade. One of the few, though the number is growing in the USA, that never attended a traditional school. I’m always asked if I felt that I missed out. No pep rallies? No friends? No graduation? My answer? Nope. Some homeschoolers miss those things but I never felt that I needed them. If you know my family then you know why. We are good at entertaining ourselves.
My grandfather is the pastor of a church in Florida full of lovely, kind people who decided to throw me a surprise graduation upon my completion of High School. I was 16 years old and got to experience wearing the silk robe, walking down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance, and eating lots of cake afterwards. I was the only graduate and it was still fun.
Last weekend we were able to attend the graduation of a dear friend. It was his college graduation in Brazil.
It started at 7:30 PM and we did not get home that night till 1:00 AM.
Thankfully I had a long nap and a sip or two of Brian’s cappuccino before the ceremony.
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I have to tell you, if you think American graduations are fun , you’ve never been to a graduation in Brazil!
There was music! I can not verify this but I do believe the theme song to Star Wars was one of the melodies chosen for the walk down the aisle. Awesome.
There were balloons! Bull horns! Vuvuzelas.
It was all very fun and cool.
The graduates were color coded…as in Medicine graduates wore yellow sashes, International Relations wore red, Computer Engineers wore blue, etc.
The graduates were very proud and joyful. None of them appeared to take for granted their hard work and accomplishment.
All this to say, I never really felt that I “missed out” in not graduating from College, or being in a large graduating class in high school, until…
I went to this Brazilian graduation.
Now I wish I could graduate…Brazilian style. 🙂
And as for our friend, who graduated top of his class, we’re so very happy for you! And thanks for letting us share with you that night.

His grand entrance:
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He and his wife: Happy, happy, happy!
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Felicidades!
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Why I blog

Sometimes I forget why I blog. Why do I feel the need to post something as often as possible? It isn’t to make money, obviously. And I don’t really do it to interact with people although I LOVE getting comments. I blog so that one day my girls can remember what they did, said, and acted like “way back when.”

So…to my three little crazies, on this day, September 8th of the year 2011 this is what your day looked like:
Mornings are slow….Angry Birds on the couch while Mommy makes oatmeal for breakfast.

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It was a rainy, drippy day and Elena had the best idea yet – put on rain boots and play in the mud. She ran around in circles, splashing in puddles and shouting out “BEST.DAY.EVER!!” (For those who don’t know, that’s a line from the movie Tangled)
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Then it was time to make dinner…a new recipe, Potato Pizza! It was yummy and they were both sweet in the kitchen.
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My big girls helped by sprinkling rosemary on to the pizza and then feeding leftover bits of fresh parsley to their pet caterpillar named Pasqual, who I am sorry to inform you blog readers, passed away this afternoon. Caterpillars don’t like to be pulled apart into two pieces, this was Abbie’s lesson of the day.
Except for a long game of Ring Around the Rosy with Lexi before bed, those are all of the highlights of today in pictures.
Just little snippets of our days for my girls to remember, I usually only write about the good stuff. There were also some bad attitudes, laziness, and whining today.
(Mostly all from me, and that’s the truth.)