Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Brielle's Development (4 Years Old)

Happy 4th birthday to this sweet girl! She turned 4 on January 25. 

Personality: Brielle continues to be our sweet one. She loves her baby sister (as is evident with all the pictures), to the point that she overwhelms her. She's helpful and caring. She is really great at sharing. She loves to just sit with people, and she will give anyone a hug. She struggled with good-byes and goodnights, and she usually gives hugs over and over until you pull away and tell her you have to go! She has lately become quite the tattle-tale. She loves to tell on people and get them in trouble #notsosweet. She is our clumsy one. She has hurt her lip pretty badly three times this past year! 

Funny/Sweet Things:

-To Sophie: "I don't want your dreams on my cup. I just want my dreams on my cup." (she meant germs, haha!)

-Me: "What do you want for Christmas, Brielle?" Brielle: "I want baby Jesus."

- Brielle: "Where is baby Jesus now?" Grandma: "Well, he grew up and was a man and then he went to heaven, and now he sits at the right hand of the throne of God." Brielle: "How did he get there? Did he take a place?"

-I'm drinky right now." (She always says drink instead of thirsty!)

Education: We still aren't doing any formal education with Brielle. We have family time every morning, where the girls and I together learns hymns, poems, verses, and folksongs. Through that time, Brielle has learned parts of many songs, poems, and verses. She knows nearly all of Psalm 23 and several poems. She knows and can write the letter B. She also knows i and l, so she writes her name as "Bill" hahaha! We better keep working on the r and e! She can count to 12, and then she starts skipping numbers and eventually says "a billion!" 

Loves: Her family, hugs, candy, being fed (so that she doesn't have to do it herself), holding Violet

Dislikes: Saying goodbye, Not getting to be with a person she likes, Not getting her way

For her fourth birthday, we just did a little celebration with the Miller grandparents (who we are living with right now), and then we went to the circus again, so we did a celebration with the Walton side of the family that night.

(Brielle really struggles to make decisions, so she took forever to answer some of these! She also has some very silly answers)
What's your favorite food? Applesauce
What's your favorite thing to play with? Toys ("be more specific") A door ("okayyyyyy")
What's your favorite movie or show? Peppa Pig and Daniel Tiger
What's your favorite song? The Wheels on the Bus
What"s your favorite verse? The Lord is my shepherd... (went on to say the rest of the verse)
What's your favorite book? A Bible story
What's your favorite color? Purple
What's your favorite Bible story? God (she's really got the classic answer down)
What do you like to do with Sophie? Play with her shirt ("Play with her shirt?!? What?")
What do you like to do with Lyla? Socking with her ("Socking? What is socking?") Like where you throw a ball to a sock ("What? Do you actually play that with her?!") Mmhmm
What do you want to do when you get older? Go to Alan's House (What? Does she remember she said that last year? We don't even live by Alan anymore!)
Okay, what do you want to BE when you get older? A firetruck man and I want to have a firetruck
What's your favorite animal? monkey
Who're your best friends? Weston and Calvin and Daisy ("What about your other friends?") Oh yeah, Calvin and Daisy's mom and dad and Weston's mom and dad." (haha! I was trying to get her to say Jaeda and Emma because that's who she usually says)
What makes you happy? People smiling at me
What makes you sad? Someone jumping on me
What are you really good at? Making Violet smile at me


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Word of the Year: Rejoice

Last year I decided to have a word of the year. Really, it was just a word that was on my heart that I felt the Lord asking me to focus on, and so it became my word of the year. This year I wanted to choose a word as well. I realized that choosing a word helps me to focus on that area. So last year, when my word was believe, I focused on believing the Lord in the big and small things, and I was reminded quickly when I wasn't believing.

This year, I didn't feel any particular word being pressed on my heart, but the word rejoice came to mind, and I knew that would be a good area to focus on. Isn't it so easy to ... well, so easy to not rejoice. Maybe it's because we do the opposite and we complain. But sometimes it's just because we go about life and we miss the little good things, or we forget to recognize when God answers a prayer, or we are so focused on the future that we forget the good happening now.

As I was thinking about the word rejoice, of course the first verse that came to mind was Philippians 4:4. Rejoice always. I certainly don't do that. I love how, if you keep reading in Philippians 4, it says, "do not be anxious about anything." This spoke to me because anxiety is usually my first warning sign that I'm not focusing on the Lord... and therefore, not rejoicing. The interesting thing is that this verse commands us to make our requests known to God. Rather than being anxious, we should make our requests known to God, and then peace will guard our hearts and minds, and we can freely rejoice. 

But, of course, we also have to know why we are rejoicing. As believers, we rejoice because Christ died for us and as a result has provided reconciliation with God. There are a lot of reasons in our world to not rejoice... a lot of hard things, bad things, mundane things, sad things. But when I keep my mind on Christ and not on this world, I can rejoice despite what's going on in the world and around me.

So, this year I want to focus on rejoicing. Right now, we are living with family and don't have our own house. We've had a lot of sickness this fall and winter. I really want to be able to go to Papua New Guinea and visit and help some of my friends there, but the Lord hasn't opened the doors financially for me to do so. I am a mother to four children five and under, and it's exhausting, not always rewarding, and I often fail at it. I want to live in the circumstances the Lord has put me in, believing he can accomplish big and beautiful and incredible things, but rejoicing when things aren't as I wish. Rejoicing always. 

If you've never heard the song Rejoice by Dustin Kensrue (or if you have), you should listen to it below. I love this song and find it incredibly encouraging. Here is the third verse: 
All our sickness, all our sorrows
Jesus carried up the hill.
He has walked this path before us,
He is walking with us still;
Turning tragedy to triumph,
Turning agony to praise,
There is blessing in the battle
So take heart and stand amazed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lyla's Development (2 1/2 Years)

Lyla is now 2 1/2! In the past six months, she has potty trained, transitioned to being a big sister, learned to talk more, and continues to be silly and loud and throw tantrums.

Potty: She potty trained around a month after she turned two, just like her older sister Brielle. With both girls, when they turned two, I felt like they would never potty train. And they both trained just one month after! It's amazing how it eventually just clicks!

Words: Her words have really taken off lately. She talks a lot! Not all words are understandable, but her words are becoming clearer. She says her sisters' names much clearer now. She also no longer calls her blanky a "mimi"... she now says "blank." She says "pa baa" ("potty bad") for when she has to go to the bathroom. She realized when her sisters said they had to go bad that they got taken quicker to the bathroom, so she says it everytime now. She's a smart one. Some of my favorite words she says are "jumping," "my bedroom," "baby," "my turn now," "upstairs/downstairs," and "and me."

Likes: getting her way, holding hands, ring around the rosy, talking (loudly), baby dolls, hats, blanky, running in circles, doing everything her sisters do

Dislikes: being told no, not getting her way, having something taken from her

Wake: Around 8am
Nap: Between 1-2pm, Sleeps for at least two hours usually
Bedtime: 8:30pm. She isn't sharing a room with her sisters right now, and she's so good about just laying quietly in bed until she falls asleep.

Personality: Lyla is loud, stubborn, silly, sweet, and controlling. It's often hard for me to hear her sisters in the car because Lyla is talking to herself... loudly. She is very set in her ways and struggles when things don't go the way she thinks they should. She can be the sweetest, quietest girl one second (usually playing with her baby dolls), and the next second she is screaming and kicking her legs because her sisters took a toy she wanted. It's really hard to calm her down when she gets upset. She loves to be silly and to make others laugh. Sometimes she's my sweetest little girl, and I could just sit and watch her play forever... and other times I'm on my knees begging the Lord to show me how to raise this little one.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Violet's Development (4 Months)

Oh, wow... the 4th child. It sure is hard to keep up with you, sweetheart. I already decided I would only do updates every other month for her in the first year (I did them every month for my other babies)... and I'm struggling to keep up with even that! Life! It just goes so fast.

But anyways... On December 12, Violet turned 4 months! The months sure do fly, and I have to say, I'm really just enjoying her. I'm a lot less strict in scheduling, and I hold her as much as I can (which is never enough, seriously!)

3 Months
She started giggling this month! Sweet baby giggles <3 She's outgrowing newborn clothing. She got her first cold this month. She's really a great baby. I can lay her down in her bouncer seat whenever I need to get things done, and she is content. We dedicated her to the Lord this month in front of our church family.

Typical Schedule:
4am - Nurse
8am- Nurse
11am- Nurse
2pm - Nurse
5pm- Nurse
7 or 8pm- Nurse
10pm- Nurse
(Typically up for an hour and 10 minutes before getting sleepy)

4 Months
She's getting close to rolling over (both ways), but hasn't yet! She wasn't the best sleeper, but she made up for it with lots and lots of smiles. She's a really smiley baby, and people make comments about her smiles all the time. She's ticklish under her chin, and she has a sweet little voice.

Typical Schedule:
2am- Nurse
5am- Nurse
8am- Nurse
11am- Nurse
2pm- Nurse
5pm- Nurse
7pm- Nurse
9pm- Nurse
(Typically awake for an hour and fifteen or an hour and half)
(This month was exhausting. She had a cold that was making her eat more often, and I also think she was having a growth spurt... plus, we moved). All of it combined, she was often eating 8 or 9 times a day rather than 7 like she had before. I desperately don't want to have to use formula even if it means tired nights.)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Even When I Cannot See

At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post about how my word for 2016 is believe. It's proven to be a very fitting word.

In March, we found out we were expecting a fourth girl. I had felt really strongly that our fourth baby was a boy, and so I was very surprised. I wrote about it here, but there were a number of reasons that I believed our baby was a boy and I had a lot of emotions and beliefs wrapped up in those reasons, and it took a while to unravel them. It took a lot of looking to God and believing to unravel those thoughts and emotions and to see that a girl was what was very best for our family (and man, now as she lays sleeping next to me as I type this post, I can't imagine a life without her... I just love her).

In August, I had a home birth. I prayed frequently for this birth, and I believed that the Lord would be with me through it all ... and I also believed and trusted that this was the right birth plan for me. And it was so perfect.

In September, we decided we were going to sell our house. We had quite a few renovations left to do, and I knew it was going to be crazy town with young kids and a newborn and homeschooling to finish them, but I trusted the way the Lord was leading my husband, and I believed God would care for us in this time, and He did and we were able to finish them and stay sane.

In October, we went ahead and listed our home for the price the Lord put on our heart and for what we thought our house was worth even though an earlier appraisal made us uncertain about this price. We weren't in a hurry to sell, and we believed that God would bring along buyers if it was meant to be. We had an offer within two days (and a number of people on a waiting list)!

In November, the inspection and appraisal all went better than we could have hoped, and we closed on our house at the end of the month. And we believed that the Lord would provide our next home for us.

And that is where we are now... Here we are living with Ben's parents while we wait for our farmhouse. When we sold our house, we had two potential farmhouses that we were looking into. One of them was a "sure thing" as they had definite plans to move in the spring... we visited their house before listing and loved it. We were still keeping our eyes on the market just to make certain there wasn't something else more perfect, as we had no signed contracts, but we really loved the first farmhouse we looked at and were happy that we could have that house in the spring as it was really perfect for our family and as farmhouses are literally pretty much obsolete on the market in our area (the Amish snag them all up... and actually, that is who owned this first farmhouse). So, the second potential farmhouse was not and never has been a definite. It's only a possibility right now. We have talked to the couple who owns it and they know our interest... they do not live in the farmhouse, but they do not know if they want to sell it. And so with this farmhouse, we have just been praying a lot about it because the Lord seemed to quite randomly throw the potential of it into our laps, and we can't get it off our minds.

Yesterday, I sat down with the girls to read their Bible story with them from The Child's Story Bible, and it was the story of Jesus walking on the water.

Peter was filled with the wonderful power of Jesus. He felt that Jesus ruled all the world, and that He could do all things. And if He could do all things, He could even make a poor, weak man like Peter able to walk on the water.
So Peter called to Jesus, "Lord, if it is You, tell me to come to You on the water!"
Jesus said to Peter, "Come!"
Peter got out of the boat. For a few minutes his heart was so filled with the thought of Jesus' almighty power that he, too, was able to walk on top of the waves. But soon Peter looked around at the howling storm, and as his trust in Jesus weakened, he began to fear the storm. When Peter stopped trusting Jesus, he began to sink. In a panic he cried out, "Lord, save me!"

I read that story and it spoke to me. When I enter hard circumstances, I typically begin by strongly believing that the Lord will come through and that he can do anything. But as time goes on and I'm praying the same prayer a year later (or even just a month later), my faith begins to waver. I doubt myself. I doubt my God. I grow weary. It seems hopeless and impossible.

Later in the day, after reading this story, my husband came home and told me that the first farmhouse... you know, the one that was definite... that the owner told him they had decided they were no longer selling. That left us with no definites. No certainty for our future. And I realized this was my chance to look at Jesus and not at the storm howling around me... to look straight at Him and to prove that I really do believe what He says and trust in Him. I don't need to worry or be anxious or controlling because God holds my future in his hand and already has a plan better than I can create on my own (and boy, has that truth taken me a long time to learn). And this isn't the only thing I'm praying for. There are some things I am praying for right now that I have been praying for a long time. There are times I grow weary and lose my faith. But I read stories like this, and I remember God's faithfulness in the past, and it stirs me to continue believing and continue praying.

So this year of 2016 has been a year to believe... a year to walk by faith even when I cannot see. My hope is that the more the Lord asks me to believe and have faith, the easier it will become and the stronger I will believe.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Bigger Than Me (A House Story)

A year ago, we started dreaming farmhouse dreams. It wasn't our intent when we moved into this house a year and a half ago. We thought this house would be long-term. Or, to be honest, I was still struggling to think of any house long-term, as I still had my heart completely set on overseas missions. But if we didn't go overseas, I thought maybe our kids might grow up in this house. So when we renovated it, we did it with that in mind. So this house is everything I love. And yet, it feels right to be selling it.

Because we are so excited as we dream about our next house: a farmhouse. We both grew up on farms, and over time we have realized we are farm kids at heart. We want to be able to have land and a big garden and animals. Sophie is a huge animal lover, and she's already five, so we realized getting a farm sooner rather than later was the best plan.

We planned to sell next spring, but ended up deciding that selling this fall was best, so we worked quickly to finish the renovation work on our current house, listed a few weeks ago, and had an offer in two days! We feel so very thankful for how smooth everything has gone so far and pray it continues to our closing date.

But with a house that is pending, it's hard to not start thinking a lot about that farmhouse. We had decided ahead of time that we would move in with Ben's parents until we found the right farmhouse. We didn't want to rush as this may be a house we live in for many, many years. But we've been checking the market for a couple months just to see what's out there, and there has honestly been nothing that meets what we are looking for. There are two potential houses that we are looking into that may be for sale in the next six months. But at this point, they aren't for sale so they are just dreams and possibilities. I haven't become overly anxious about it, but I realized I was starting to worry about it some. If there has been nothing on the market for months that meets what we are looking for, will we be looking forever? And I really love these two house potentials, but what if neither works out and we have to settle for something that is less great?

The other day I was thinking on all of this, and the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that this is much bigger than me. This is much bigger than just a house. At one point, just a couple of years ago, we planned to move to Papua New Guinea to live in a small house in the middle of the jungle, and we were so excited to do so because we wanted to share the gospel with the people of PNG. And the other night the Lord reminded me that this is no different. Our goal is still the same in many ways. We want to share the gospel with the people around us. For now, the Lord has closed the door for Papua New Guinea. But at the same time, He has opened the door for Warsaw. And so, these are our people. The house that the Lord has planned for us is with a very specific purpose. A purpose of placing us where we will have opportunities to meet and interact with and live among people who need to know the God of the universe. Because whatever house we buy will send us down a path in life that would be very different from a path of buying and living in a different house.

I believe God gives us passions and talents and jobs and interests and tastes for a purpose. My husband has a talent for fixing up homes, we both have an interest in old farmhouses and acreage and farm animals, and we have a home church and job that we are committed to that keep us near the town we currently reside in. And all of those things narrow our house search greatly. And from there, the Lord works in other lives to put the right house on the market at the right time for the right price so that we can be exactly where we are supposed to be at the right time in history. Isn't it all so very incredible and overwhelming when we really think about the way the Lord orchestrates history? It's all so much bigger than I can even comprehend. And so, I am reminding myself of that today. Buying a new house is much bigger than me. God has an agenda that is much more crucial than mine, and He won't delay in carrying it out. And because of that, I can wholly trust that God will provide the perfect house for us at just the right time.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Violet's Development (2 Months)

Two months with this lovely babe <3 She's such a blessing! I typically do these updates every month, but I missed last month, so I'll be doing a two-in-one update in this post :)

First, some pictures to show you how much she's grown :)

Even though it's so nice when they sleep all the time and through everything, I love when they become more alert and more interactive! She certainly has become more interactive this past month. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are some month-by-month updates from the first two months.

1 Month

In the first month, Violet started smiling. She actually smiled super early... at 6 days. She is for sure my earliest smiler :)
She weighed 6 lbs 2 oz at her 2 week check-up which was up 5 oz from birth weight, which was excellent.
She nursed well from birth, and she has also been a great sleeper. From the beginning, she has been able to do a 4-5 hour stretch between nursing at night, and she even did up to 7 in the first month!
She struggled with pooping, and I often had to help her because she'd get uncomfortable. She went over a week without pooping!

Typical Schedule:
4am- Nurse
7am - Nurse
11am- Nurse
2pm- Nurse
5pm- Nurse
8pm- Nurse
10:30pm- Nurse
(Awake for 50min-1 hour and then down for nap)

2 Months

In her second month, she continued to smile and started smiling more! We love smiles!
She has started trying to talk to us, and she sometimes does get sounds out! Mostly she just tries though, and it's so sweet watching her move her mouth!
She learned how to poop without needing help this month :) Yay! I'm celebrating poops on a potty with my two year old and poops in a diaper with my baby. #ohmotherhood
We found out at her 7 week check-up that she had only gained one pound in 7 weeks of life which is on the low end, so my midwife gave me a list of things to do and came back a week later to check her weight again. By 8 weeks, Violet was up to 7 lbs 7 oz, meaning she gained 11 oz in one week! I am so happy that I am able to continue exclusively breastfeeding. It was a stressful week for me though. I felt like my body was failing me and really had to work to combat the lies. I never had a problem with my first two babies gaining weight. I had problems with Lyla, but not until she was a bit older. And now Violet was so young, and I was already having problems. It was disheartening, but I listened to my midwife and ate fatty foods, drank lots of water, and pumped... and had lots of prayer warriors on their knees... and the Lord was kind and she is gaining well now <3 Thank you, Jesus!
Violet recognizes her family now and smiles at us, even when we aren't talking to her but are simply looking at her! After Mommy, she seems to have taken to big sister Sophie the most. Brielle loves holding and being with her the most, but I think B is a bit too much for Violet sometimes.
Violet has gained good head control this month. When I hold her against my chest, she loves to hold her head up and look around. She's not nearly as floppy, but she still does have to be held with gentle care :)

4 or 5am- Nurse
7:30 or 8am- Nurse
11am- Nurse
2pm- Nurse
5pm- Nurse
7 or 8pm- Nurse
9 or 10pm- Nurse
(Awake for an hour and then typically sleepy)
(On the week where we worked to get her to gain weight, she often started nursing 8 times a day- sometimes even 9. I'm a sleep trainer, but I realized I needed to let that go to get her to gain weight. We are back to 7 nursing sessions on most days, but occasionally she'll nurse 8. I pump once or twice a day on top of that.)