This Beautiful Inheritance

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Different Kind of Summer

It is our last week of summer before school starts, which doesn't at all feel right. It almost feels like this summer didn't exist. Since we added a new little blessing to our family, we (the girls and I) have been stuck in the house a lot. There are not many places you want to take a newborn in 100 degree weather. Plus, Tyler started a new job this summer and was gone most of the time. PLUS that forced him to quit working a second job, which means things have been tight financially. Which means (like I said) we've been home a lot.

I'm not much of a "homebody." I do think it's important to guard your time at home as a family, but I also love to go and do. I love to take my kids to "go and do"! I love to seek adventures and make memories as a family. So I'll be honest -- this summer has been a little difficult. Of course getting our sweet Ezra out of the deal makes it all WORTH IT! :) But I start getting a little "bluesey" when I'm cooped up in the house too much. (I know there was a whole half of the summer before Ezra was born, but it's like I can hardly remember that part! And I was extremely pregnant then and still not able to do much.) And I'm not going to lie -- it's hard seeing person after person after person after person post their beach pics on social media. You know what I'm talking about.




Eden asked me a couple nights ago what she could tell her teacher she did this summer. She said she knew she would ask the class on the first day of school. I felt a little sad for her that she wouldn't have much to say. She didn't get to do anything big this summer. But I told her she could tell her class she got a new baby brother and she agreed that was pretty awesome. The thing is, kids don't really know everyone on social media is posting beach pics. They don't play the comparison game we adults often do. I have to remind myself that elaborate vacations and the like aren't the marks of good parenting or a happy childhood. And giving my girls the gift of a baby brother is something they will cherish for the rest of their lives as they build relationships with him.



Truth be told, I'm ready for school and my part-time job to start back. I'm ready to have a routine and a reason to shower most days! I even think it's going to make me a better mommy. The kids and I have had a little too much togetherness this summer, if that's possible. They are on each other's nerves (and mine) and my patience is thin and my temper on edge. I hate to say it, but I think we all need a little space.

And (fingers crossed) I'm hoping we can get away for a day or two one weekend soon. I'm looking forward to that and already looking forward to next summer. Ezra will be one and old enough for more outings and adventures. I love summer, and I can't wait to experience it to its fullest with him and the girls next year.

Friday, July 22, 2016

We Still Do {Ten Years of Marriage}

We were around the six-year-mark in our marriage when he sat across the dining room table from me and had the nerve to say it out loud.

“We can’t stay together just for the kids.”
His eyes were cold. We were a mere six feet from each other but there was no warmth, no emotion, nothing between us but distance.

I knew our relationship had been stretched to the point of barely existing. But I was stubborn. I would hold onto the shards of what was left for pride’s sake if nothing else. And yes, for the kids. How dare he consider otherwise.
My heart and my tears hit the hardwood.

I thought back to our honeymoon in Mexico, which I’ve never been able to describe without using the words “perfect” and “paradise.” It wasn’t the resort or the beach that elicited feelings of perfection but being wildly in love and excited about the future.
Now, here we sat – smack dab in the middle of the years statistics say most divorces happen. The predictability of our situation was no comfort.

I researched marriage counselors and drug him there three whole times before he insisted we quit. “We know what we need to do,” he said. “We just need to do it.”

Life went on and our kids kept growing and I kept cooking dinner and he kept going to work and coming back.
Somewhere along the way we started laughing and feeling again, although the road was never easy. There were a lot of fights and a lot of making up.

I made up my mind that by our 10-year-anniversary, I wanted the “lovey-dovey” marriage I dreamed of. I would hold my tongue. I would show him respect. I would do my part to make sure it happened.

On our nine-year-anniversary, we took a weekend trip to Branson. With no kids and no stressors, all arguing ceased. And as we walked through the outdoor mall, he reached out and took my hand. It sent hope and healing through my being and made me wonder if we were almost there. Were we on the brink of the marriage I dreamed of?
But year nine didn't hold the mass improvement I'd hoped. There were ups and also downs. I read in a magazine article some of the biggest indicators couples are headed for divorce and grew discouraged because I saw many of them in us. The end of the article, though, threw me some hope. The last stage before divorce, it said, is complete coldness. There is no fighting because there’s no communicating. There is just distance and carelessness about the other individual. The fire is out.

Our continued arguments, followed by “I’m sorrys” and attempts at date nights showed me our fire was not out. It needed constant fanning, yes, but it was a stubborn, persistent flame.

I had dreamed of visiting another all-inclusive resort ever since our “perfect” honeymoon, and no matter what, I was determined to make it happen for our 10-year-anniversary. It did, but an unexpected pregnancy made us move our trip up four months early.
As we flew out for Jamaica, I couldn’t help but evaluate our relationship. Were we where I’d hoped we’d be? No, we definitely weren’t. But the next five days showed we weren't where we'd been at year six, either. They held little arguing, lots of hand-holding, and general good feelings about the other person.  Our progress was slow but present. The image of an anchor came to my mind somewhere over the Caribbean. It symbolized our relationship. Would I have liked butterflies? Sure. But this was more tangible and solid. We had survived some very difficult times, but on the other side of each difficulty was light. We had learned to always hold on, because though things sometimes get hard, they also always get better. And holding on is always worth it. Faith, children, family, values and commitment -- these are the things we fight for. We made vows we intend to keep.





Recently I purchased a wooden sign to hang in our bedroom that reads "We Still Do." As Eden asked what the words meant and I explained it to her, I felt proud. No, we have not always done things as we should and yes, she's seen her mommy and daddy fight more than she should. But she also knows that every night, we'll be here. We'll hug Daddy when he comes in from work and we'll pray for his safety the next day. We'll take family trips to Branson and make memories and snap pictures. Our life and our family and our marriage are not perfect, but we hold an abiding love and commitment for each other. I've seen many marriages over the years with couples who publicly gush and drool over each other but think nothing of packing up when things get tough. If I had to choose, I'd gladly take what we have. Anchored by shared history, vision for the future, and yes, love, we're in this for the long haul. We now understand the weight of the words we uttered at ages 19 and 21... "I do" means so much more than it did then, and in spite of the difficulties, we choose wholeheartedly each day to say it again.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ezra Is Here!

Our son, Ezra Tyler, was born Tuesday, July 5 at 5:36 a.m. As you can imagine, we are completely smitten. I still can't quite believe I am a #boymom... It has already been quite the adventure! His entrance into the world was memorable to say the least.

My due date was July 4 and in the days leading up to that, I was in a slight depression. I had been expecting him to come "any time now" for the past two weeks (since I had Selah at 38 weeks) so every day past that that I was still pregnant, I grew a little more discouraged.

Sweet boy took his time getting here, but when he decided it was time, IT WAS TIME! I went into labor in the early morning hours of July 5 and things progressed quicker than I ever could have imagined. On the way to the hospital, my pain intensified like crazy. About halfway there, I remember telling Tyler, "This isn't like the other times." I could tell I had reached a level of pain that I'd never gotten to with the girls (thanks to my epidurals). By the time we got to the hospital, the pain was more than I thought I could bear. I didn't know how in the world I would make it inside and up to Labor and Delivery on the second floor. My water broke in the parking lot and I felt like a bomb was about to explode in my body! When we finally got inside and the nurses checked me, my worst fears were confirmed. I was dilated to a 10 and there was no time for an epidural. I kept saying, "I can't do this. I can't do this." But of course, I had to. There was no choice. Thankfully, my doctor got there quickly and within thirty minutes and three pushes I had delivered a healthy, beautiful baby boy!


My labor with him was one of the most memorable, and yes traumatic, experiences of my life. But of course -- it was worth it. We have fallen hard for this handsome, dark-haired little guy.




I've done a lot of nothing since we brought him home. I haven't left the house at all. We have had kind friends bring us meals and amazing parents clean and help with the girls. What I have done is a lot of rocking, changing, kissing and feeding. Oh my, A LOT of feeding. I am attempting to nurse Ezra (something I was never successful with with the girls), and so far it's going fairly well, except that this kid would eat every half hour if I let him. Perhaps this is just another sign that we definitely brought home a BOY.

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes about our new addition. We are so thankful he is here and "healthy and strong," which is what Selah prayed for for months. God is good.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

When You Have To Tell Your Kids, "I Don't Know."

My six-year-old Eden is wise and intuitive beyond her years. She thinks deeply about things like God and faith and sometimes she springs questions on me I'm not prepared for. We've had a couple such instances lately.

The other night we were doing a devotion in her Brave Girls book and it led to further conversation on various topics. She wound up asking, "Why did God make hell anyway? And why didn't He just make everyone born Christians?" I was a little stunned. This isn't where our conversation was supposed to go. But out of my mouth, almost like a reflex, came the "Christian-ese" answer.

"Well, God didn't make hell for people. He made it for the devil and his demons. And people aren't born Christians because God gives us a free will, wanting us to choose Him." It sounded good, but she didn't seem overly satisfied. And to be honest, I wasn't either. I found myself wondering if I truly believed the cliché answers I spouted off. And I felt discouraged that my faith wasn't stronger deep down, no matter how solid my front appeared.

A couple nights later as I was putting the girls to bed, Eden told me that the night before she had prayed something specific. It was small and trivial (but not to her) and she said she had made "20 pinky promises" with God that it would happen. It didn't. She wanted to know why. Once again, I explained to her the truths I've come to believe over 20 plus years of serving the Lord... "God knows what's best for us, Sweetheart, and sometimes it's not what we think. It's kind of like when you ask Mommy or Daddy for something and we tell you 'no.'" She started to cry. I could tell this shattered everything she thought she knew about God, which perhaps is good, but it broke me too to see her struggle.

girls at "Construction City" VBS this week

The next day we were riding in the car discussing something a little less spiritual -- the influx of mosquitos that have invaded our yard and home, and once again the girls asked, "Why did God make mosquitoes anyway?" Before I could get out my boxed answer of "frog food," Eden stepped up her game. "Why did He make OUR blood their food?!" With that, I was done. I was all out of ready-made answers and had to tell the girls I just didn't know. Here is the *one* thing I knew I could tell them for sure.

"Girls, God is GOOD. We don't always know why He does the things He does, but we can trust Him." As if God was giving us a personal confirmation right then and there, the song "Good, Good Father" by Chris Tomlin was on the radio, so I turned up the volume and sat in silence. I had nothing else to add to the conversation, but I prayed God would use the words of that song to speak peace and assurance over my little girls' hearts and help them believe what they can't always see.

It's difficult as a mom to not have all the answers for your kids, especially when you want so badly to train them to love and fear the Lord. But the truth is, God is incomprehensible and faith is sometimes rocky. It often comes through doubts and trials. I have to come to terms with that and leave their seeking hearts in the Lord's hands. After all, I want them to develop their own tried and truth faiths, not become puppets for boxed answers that one day disintegrate with doubts. If the Lord is true and good and faithful (and I know HE IS because He has proven it to me!), then He will prove Himself over time in their own lives, and in a sense, I can sit back and watch it happen.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Be The Mom Who Does Devotionals With Your Kids

I am a member of the Tommy Nelson Mommies for Thomas Nelson, Inc. As a member of this group, I receive products for my use and to review at no charge to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my participation. All opinions are my own.

We do a lot of children's devotional books around here. As a Tommy Nelson Mommy, I get new ones sent my way almost monthly, and all of them are so good! I feel like doing devotional books with my kids is such an easy way to teach them about the Lord, explore different facets of our faith, and spur conversations. It's all laid out in the books. We just pick them up and dig in.

The book we're in right now I especially love because it's designed for a slightly older age group than the ones we've done in the past. The Brave Girls - Beautiful You devotional is designed for ages 6-12 so Eden is just old enough to enjoy and get something out of it. She and I have been doing these devotions lately (with Selah sometimes listening in), and I can tell Eden feels special because they are designed for "big girls." They focus on teaching what real beauty is all about.... that it comes from the Lord, that it's not about being like everyone else, and that it's unique to each person. So far in her young life, none of these things have been an issue for Eden. But I'm happy to be setting the stage for truth in this area. Because I know it's just a matter of time before she deals with perhaps a mean comment about something she's wearing or feels jealous of another or wants to change something about herself. She's a girl so it's definitely coming. But I believe having been taught Truth on the front end will make all the difference.


This devotional is part of the Brave Girls line of books, designed to help little girls grow up strong and healthy in Christ. Each book features tween girl characters Glory, Gracie and Hope who write the introductions to each section and are pictured throughout.


Like I've said before, I enjoy doing children's devotions with my girls because I inevitably get something out of them too. Something about simple explanations of Biblical truths remind me that God and the Christian life don't have to be so complicated. It is simple enough for a child and it should be for me as well. They also provide wonderful conversation starters and opportunities for quality time together.

So I encourage you, Mama, get a devotional book and do it with your kids this summer. Whether it's one of the Brave Girls books or one of the many others I've featured on this blog or one you find on your own, it is an EASY way to spend time with your kids and actually invest in their spiritual lives (not just their tan) this summer ;).

Of course I'm giving away a copy of the Brave Girls - Beautiful You devotional. So leave a comment on this post telling me what you think young girls need to learn about real beauty (and then enter via the Rafflecopter box below) and you'll be entered to win. Happy Summer and Happy Reading!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


This post is my last in the "Be The Mom" series I'm doing this summer with my friend Amanda Farris. Hop on over to her blog today to see how she encourages you to be the mom who's neighborly. If you missed any of our other posts this month, they were --

Be The Mom Who Plans Vacations me

Be The Mom That Eats a McDonald's Ice Cream Cone Amanda

Be The Mom Who Consecrates Downtime me

Be The Mom That Is The Right Kind of Busy Amanda

Be The Mom Who Teaches Giving me

Be The Mom Who Plans a Fun Day Amanda

And remember, any comment on any of our "Be The Mom" posts enters you to win the book "Be The Mom" by Tracey Eyster -- which means if you comment on today's post, you're entered to win TWO books! Thanks so much for reading our "Be The Mom" series this month. I hope it encouraged and challenged you to make the most of your mom role this summer!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Be The Mom Who Teaches Giving

Saturday I let the girls host a lemonade stand in our front yard. It was something I had on our summer bucket list and was glad we were able to do it before Baby Brother arrives. The girls loved it. When I told them the day before I was thinking we could host one, they were ecstatic. They care nothing about the money the stand brings in but just love setting up and serving customers.


So beforehand I suggested we give the money to The Call, an Arkansas organization that supports families involved in foster care. They were all for it. No hesitation. We did something similar last time we set up a stand; we donated the money to our World Vision sponsored child. So the girls don't really know what it's like to rake in a lot of money for themselves anyway. I'm trying my best to train them to give. And that it can actually be fun to raise money for others. They were very proud to put on their sign and tell their customers they were donating the proceeds to a worthy cause.


Turns out, people are very generous when you tell them you're donating your profits. We made about $70. I plan to ask our local Call leaders what needs they have right now and then spend our money accordingly. Maybe we can buy diapers or clothes or some summer toys for families. We'll see. But I have to say, I was very proud of my girls' willingness to give the money away. They began asking questions and making suggestions and I believe were genuinely concerned about the kids the money would help. I love having the opportunity to have these conversations with them. They are not perfect girls but they have good hearts.


Our family doesn't have tons of extra money, but it's not hard to find small ways to teach kids about the importance of giving. My girls see us put a check in the offering each Sunday. They get letters from our sponsored child. We pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. And we do lemonade stands. :-) I don't say this at all to brag but hopefully to encourage you to get creative and find ways to teach your kids about giving too. The amount isn't really important. But the lesson and the motives are. So go ahead -- before this summer's over, set up your own lemonade stand for a worthy cause. Share with me when you do and hashtag #BeTheMom!


This is my third post in the "Be The Mom" series I'm doing this month with Amanda Farris. We're posting each Monday in June to encourage you to be the best mom you can this summer. Hop on over to her blog to read about being the mom who plans fun days with your family. If you've missed any of our posts so far, they were --

Be The Mom Who Plans Vacations me

Be The Mom That Eats a McDonald's Ice Cream Cone Amanda

Be The Mom Who Consecrates Downtime me

Be The Mom That Is The Right Kind of Busy Amanda

And be sure to comment! Every comment on our "Be The Mom" posts enters you to win the book "Be The Mom" by Tracey Eyster.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Be The Mom Who Consecrates Downtime

Often as moms, we pride ourselves on being busy. Our husbands call and ask what we're doing and we don't dare say, "nothing" or "just enjoying the kids." Instead we tell them how we just got done with the dishes and we're about to do the laundry and we need to run to the store but the kids are out of control. It's all a badge of honor to us.

I'm guilty of this very thing. But what if our badge of honor was being wise enough to slow down and sit on the floor and play Barbies? What if we took pride in having nothing on the agenda all day -- nowhere to go, no place to be -- so our kids could be bored and use their imaginations and just be kids?

I believe we need more of this in our modern motherhood culture. We need to reclaim downtime.


As moms, it's easy to get swept up in not just our daily household chores but in whisking our kids to every possible activity. Especially in the summertime. There are pools to be swam in, ballgames to be played, and playdates to be had. We go, go, go. And I like to go as much as the next person. (I told you last week how much I love little get-aways.) But I also love time at home with my kids, when it's just us and no one else. Because this is when they are shaped into the people they will become.

This is when they come up with games that involve Littlest Pet Shop characters and Play-doh and intricate surgeries.

This is when their meals are controlled and they're not eating fast food because we're on the go.

This is when they fight and yell and learn to make-up and say they're sorry.

This is when they ask questions and their mama is there to answer them.

And this is when their intake of media, language and environment is most appropriate because it's their house with their boundaries and safeguards.

This is the beauty of downtime.

Like I said, I love to go and do too. This week I hope to take my kids to the Splash Park with their cousin on a day other than the two I work. We moms have many obligations we can't help and others we simply enjoy. And that's fine. But if we are constantly away from home or even entertaining others in our home, our time to really shape and mold our own kids is limited. As my kids' mom, I want to be the number one influence in their lives (along with their daddy) who shapes their worldview, perceptions, and beliefs. But I can't do that if they spend more time out of my sphere of influence than within it. Are they spending more time with coaches, teachers, and teammates than their own family? Are they spending as many nights away at friends' houses as they are at home?  Are we so busy and going so much that we don't really have time to talk? If so, I believe we have a problem. We need to consecrate downtime.

I chose the word "consecrate" for this post because according to Oxford Dictionary, it means to make or declare something sacred or to dedicate formally to a religious or divine purpose. And I really do believe it's that important, and sometimes that difficult. As Christian moms, we typically have no problem setting aside Sunday mornings for church (and often Sunday nights and Wednesdays too), but the idea of setting aside time to just BE at home with our kids is foreign. It almost feels lazy or like we're not giving our kids enough "fun." I challenge you to think about it differently. Think of downtime with your kids as one of the most important things you can give them because it's the time when your influence over them is the most heightened. It's a hidden gift opened slowly over time and not fully appreciated until the kids are all grown up. But what a worthwhile gift it will be.


This post is the second in my "Be The Mom" series running Mondays this month. I'm hosting the series with my pal, Amanda Farris, who today is writing about being the mom who's the right kind of busy. It's a little twist on my same topic discussed here. Be sure to hop over and read her post. If you missed last week's posts, I wrote about being the mom who plans vacations and she encouraged you to be the mom who eats a McDonald's ice cream cone. Leave a comment on any of our "Be The Mom" posts this month and you'll be entered to win the book "Be The Mom" by Tracey Eyster.
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