Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

Yes, It is the middle of the night...

and I am awake. Sage is awake and crying/screaming for who knows what reason. She does this about 1-2 times a week. She will usually wake up sometime between 2:30-3:30 and it usually takes her anywhere from 90 minutes to over 2 hours to go back to sleep.

We stopped giving her a sippy cup of milk to take to bed, thinking maybe she hasn't learned to put herself back to sleep without it. That was about a week ago, and here we are still battling the same dilemma.

Regan was so easy, as far as sleep habits go. Once we decided we weren't going back in anymore when she would cry at night, it took three nights and then she was done waking up. After that, you knew something was really wrong if she did wake up.

With Sage, we have been battling the sleep habits for a year! I don't go in a lot to 'check' on her, because I think that just creates bad habits of wanting to see mommy in the middle of the night. She sure has a stubborn side though, and has me baffled on how to break this habit!

Thank goodness for coffee, PBS (for the big kid in the morning) and not having to go to work! I am so thankful that Paul is a much better sleeper than I am, and pretty much gets a good night sleep, despite the screaming!

On a totally different note, I was thankful for our park date this morning with the moms that I will be leading in Bible study this fall.

First, it was great to get out of the house. We needed to, or it was going to be 'one of those days'! We haven't had park dates for about 3 weeks because of weather, we have had indoor playdates instead.

It was also great to see a lot of the moms and receive encouragement that they are looking forward to the study this fall. They have had the same leader for I don't know how many years, and they have loved her. So, it is a little scary going in, filling her shoes, changing things up a little bit. The moms were so kind and seem excited for some change, so I was blessed by that.

Now you lay me...

Down to sleep,
I praise the Lord
myself to keep,
the angels watch me,
through the night,
until I wake,
in morning light.

Thank you Jesus, for the food and... (mind you, this is bedtime :)

Does it get any cuter than that? You know what they say, 'kids say the darndest things'.

Regan's things that come to mind lately:
"If you buy the purple vacuum, mommy, I will do all the vacuuming!"
"I like to do the laundry!" - in response to mommy telling her she couldn't change her clothes because mommy doesn't really like to do more laundry than she has to. Regan pushes the buttons that start the washing machine - that is her version of 'doing the laundry'.
When clothing doesn't fit any more, she says "it needs to go in the too paul smile" - instead of the too small pile.
At the zoo tonight - "Mommy, that bear scratches his buns just like me!"
"Mommy, I like to push your buttons!" (on the safe that is!!) - if she only knew what she was saying :)

If the cute things like this were the only thing that came out of her mouth, I would wish for her to stay this age forever!

An ordinary day...

Today was pretty much an ordinary day, which is just fine by me. Now, by ordinary, I don't mean boring, just nothing extraordinary, astounding, or spectacular!

We spent the morning at home, just playing around the house. This, in itself, can have it's ups and downs. Sometimes the girls play so nice together, it brings me such joy to watch them. Other times, it's pure pandemonium. Sage is at the age right now where everything is a melt-down if she is not getting her way. She is becoming the little girl who cried wolf. One of these days, she is going to be really hurt and not get the attention she needs right away.

We picked up Mima and headed to Panera for lunch, before bringing her to the hospital to be with Paul's dad. Papa is back in the hospital with breathing problems. They pretty much have never got to the bottom of the problems he has been having all summer. Mom went up today to stay while he had a biopsy taken of his lung and they ended up draining lots of fluid off his lungs as well. It is very difficult to get a grasp on the situation and what the severity of it is.

Sage was in rare form while we were at the hospital. She must have given Papa at least 6-7 kisses. She is usually very stingy about giving them, so I know this was a nice thing for Papa before heading into surgery.

We headed home for afternoon naps, which didn't quite go as planned for Sage and I. I have stopped giving her a cup of milk to take to bed at nap and bedtime, so she is having to learn some new habits for falling asleep. After about 90 minutes, she finally slept for about an hour. I managed to sneak a little 'rest' in during the crying, but it just didn't fit the bill. It will definitely be early to bed tonight, for both of us.

With the warm weather and humidity setting in, the pool provided some nice afternoon playtime for the girls. You never have to ask either of them twice if they want to get nudey!

After dinner, I decided it was time to do some baking again. I have been somewhat neglectful in this area lately (too absorbed in digi-scrapping!). Regan and daddy were out mowing the lawn, so Sage and I made a couple of treats, cookie bars and granola bars. Cooking with a small child around always proves interesting. I often end up messing up the recipe, as well as the kitchen. Tonight wasn't too bad. I only had to clean up a handful of chocolate chips off the floor after Sage dumped them out on the counter. I don't think she even had a chance to eat any before she was busted!

The night is winding down for everyone. There are lots of giggles coming from up in the bathroom, where the girls are, once again, nudey - for bathtime!

I cherish these 'ordinary' days, it's what being at home is all about.

Thought for the day...

Our churches motto is 'Relationships, not religion'. In our pastors message today he was talking about how 'the God of the universe wants to have a relationship with you'. This is a concept that I have been slowly learning over the last few years as I sort out what a loving, functional relationship looks like. Today I was pondering these things and an analogy came to my mind...

Imagine trying to have a relationship with your children if they didn't come to your house, wouldn't speak with you and wouldn't read countless love letters that you have written to them. It would be pretty difficult to have any sort of 'relationship' with your children under these conditions.

The same is true for our relationship with our Heavenly Father. In order to have any kind of relationship with Him, we must be in His house (church), speaking with Him (prayer), and reading the countless love letters He has written for us (Bible).

I am slowly learning the value of investing in this relationship and that the returns multiply when I go beyond a weekly meeting with my Savior. (Can you imagine only talking to your children once a week??) I pray that you, too, will be challenged to spend a little more time with the One who loves you like nobody else.

A 'Girls' Day out...

Yesterday, I was blessed with a whole day out with some ladies from our church. Thirteen of us made our way to the Birch Run Outlet mall to do some shopping. I didn't have a lot of money to spend, but that left me with lots of time to spend...connecting with the other ladies.

We had four of us in our car and I don't think the conversation ever lagged. We had such a good time discussing parenting, cooking, couponing, shopping and many other things. The weather couldn't have been more perfect - 70's and sunny, only raining when we left to head for home.

We found lots of bargains, did lots of walking and talking and finished the day off with deep dish pizza at Uno's. Our table of eight shared a huge warm peanut butter cup topped with ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauces, complete with eight spoons! YUMMMMY!!!

It was a great time connecting with people I knew and meeting people I didn't know. It is so good to get together like this, it really recharges the batteries!

The zoo...

Wednesday, we went to the zoo with Aunt Crissa and cousins Harrison and Miranda. Regan has been asking for some time to go and was bouncing off the walls when I told her we were going. (We are still at an age where you don't tell a child these things until right before going, because bad weather or anything else that changes plans creates great heartaches.)

John Ball Zoo isn't a huge zoo, but it is the perfect size for Regan and Sage. We also didn't have to pay to get in, as it is part of a cultural exchange for the Children's Museum membership we have.

I asked Regan on the way home what her favorite part was...the penguins, feeding the birds, playing on the train, the otters, brushing the pygmy goats, the monkeys she saw with Aunt Crissa while mommy was in the bathroom, the tiger, writing her name on the chalkboard, and I think that was about it!

More on Contentment...

I am still working through 'A Woman of Contentment' by Dee Brestin. From today's study..."Truth is the key to contentment. We have an enemy who whispers lies to us for his own purposes. He will steal our contentment and the days given to us to glorify God. We must use the sword of the Spirit to defeat him, daily breathing biblical truth into our souls."and later in the lesson..."Each circumstance has its own joys and sorrows, and we must learn contentment in each new place that the Lord leads us."

I have experienced the truth of these two things in my own life. I have seen first hand, especially over the last 3-4 years how satan loves to whisper lies to me...'you could be doing something more important that just being a stay-at-home mom'...'your home is a disaster, don't you see all the things that need to be done?'... 'wouldn't you be better of moving to a different home?'...just to name a couple. I have learned how important seeking biblical truth DAILY is in fighting these thoughts. I can tell the days when I don't spend time with my Savior and Lord, because my attitude usually reflects it.

I have learned, too, that I must find contentment in each new place God leads me. Even when I don't understand God's purposes, like Paul's work schedule, I still need to seek contentment while I wait for God to change the situation. If I don't find contentment, then I am filled with frustration and bitterness and can't reflect God's greatness and faithfulness to me. I am learning to find that contentment in God alone and not in people or things. I am learning that I need daily reminders, by being in His word and spending time in prayer, in order to maintain that contentment.

As I spent time in conversations yesterday, with some other young moms, about finances, staying at home, etc., I reflected on how it seems like the 'grass is always greener' for everyone. Whether your home is big or small, there always seems to be a better situation 'out there'. I know that is how satan tries to work in our lives, by making us not happy with what we have.

I pray that I can use the things God is teaching me about contentment to continue to find joy in my own life and to be contagious to those around me in doing the same.

Social Desires...

We are coming to that stage in life where Regan is starting to want to make friends. One of the neighbor girls, Madeline, is 5 1/2 and is the object of Regan's desires for a friendship. We go over to Madeline's house periodically and the girls sort of play together outside.

Earlier in the summer, Regan would ask several times a day to go and see Madeline. She hasn't asked for a while, probably because we have been busy. A few days ago, she started asking again. Between nap times and mealtimes, it seems hard to find a good time to go over there. Tonight, we finally made our way to Madeline's. I think the neighbors could probably hear Regan's delight when I suggested we go.

It is interesting to watch the dynamics of the girls when we do go there. Usually Madeline is not alone. There are lots of girls in the culdesac by her house. They range in age from 4-8 years old. Regan is not usually at a loss for words, but when she gets around those girls, she can actually be reserved. It is strange to watch her not rambling on aimlessly!

Tonight, there were lots of kids out playing. A couple of teenagers were organizing games of hide and seek, duck duck goose and playing sidewalk chalk. All things that Regan loves, but not tonight. She wouldn't jump in and play and wanted me to come over with her.

It's hard to say what goes on in that little head, but my guess would be that she can sense being a little bit of an outsider. These kids see each other all the time and have grown up together over the last couple of years.

It's difficult, as a parent, to watch and wonder if your child is going to fit in or be accepted. You want for them to have a friend come over, take them by the hand and draw them into the group. Regan did finally do sidewalk chalk, but was never really drawn into the group.

Once most of the kids left and only Skylar and her mom remained, Regan finally came out of her shell. Skylar is kind of shy, but her and Regan had a ball just laughing and being silly together.

I pray that Regan can find some close, Godly girlfriends to grow up with. I know that friendships are work and the people you are close to can hurt you the most, but I have learned, as an adult, the value of a good friendship. I pray that Regan doesn't have to wait so long for that to happen.

God Keeps His Promises

When Paul leaves for work at 6:00 a.m., I try to force myself to get upright and spend some time on my prayers and devotions. My preference would be to roll over and go back to sleep for another hour before Regan gets up at 7:00.

This morning, after finishing my devotions, I was laying there reflecting on something God had done for me this week and if I should share it here. About that time (6:45) Sage woke up. I changed her diaper and brought her to bed with me for some snuggle time. As we laid in bed, this is what I saw out the window....

I called Regan out of bed to see it. This is the second one we have seen this summer. I found that odd, since I have not seen one for 3 1/2 years and don't know when the last time before that was.

I immediately thought about how God keeps His promises...that is what the rainbow symbolizes. I continued to remember how he was faithful to me this week.

I have been working on redoing a line of credit we have at the bank, to reduce the interest rate and payment. To make a long story short, it looked like we were going to be charged $250 for something that I was told I could cancel.

Normally in these situations, I tend to get very upset, and in turn, get very ugly. Not something I am proud of and always regret after the fact. This week, while waiting for phone calls to be returned, I spent some time doing my devotions and praying about the situation. I felt like God was telling me that presenting myself in a Christ-like fashion was far more important than the money.

God gave me the patience to deal with the situation and also provided us a legal out when mistakes were discovered on the paperwork we had signed. In the end, we were not charged the $250 and were still locked in at a lower interest rate.

I know that God heard and answered my prayers this week. I know that without Him, I would have handled the situation very differently and probably had a different end result. I am so thankful to worship a God that is in every detail of my life and cares enough to listen and answer every concern. I am so thankful He is patient with me and continues to grow me to be more like Christ. I am so glad that He shows me how He works for the good of those who love Him.

Family, Friends, Food, Fun....

It doesn't get any better than that!

This is our 5th year of having our annual Pig Roast, except this year, it was the 'Un-Pig Roast'. Typically, we host everyone for the weekend at our property on the Muskegon River. We feast and fellowship all weekend and do a little tubing. This year, we scaled down to a backyard cookout on Saturday afternoon. This 'season' of life for us just didn't lend itself to all that was involved in hosting the whole weekend. Maybe next year!!

We still had a great time, catching up with people that we might only see once a year. We had hamburgs and hot dogs and corn that was to die for, along with everyone's dish to pass. The food was great, as it always is at a pot-luck!

The kids, and some of the big kids, had a blast on the aqua tramp! At one point it looked questionable whether the tramp would handle everyone that was on it, but it seems to have survived. The big kids had a blast sending April flying off the blob. It is difficult to find the right combination of weight and bravery that results in a good projectile, but April fit the bill!

Of course the night would not have been complete without a few rounds of washers, a campfire and a couple of s'mores. We finally said goodbye to our last guests at midnight and reflected on the evening for another hour before heading to bed ourselves.

We are so blessed to have good friends and family and to be able to spend these fun times together.

Only God Knows...

the understanding of a child. Tonight's devotional with Regan lent itself to a discussion about having Jesus in her heart. I asked her if she would like to have Jesus in her heart and she said yes. So, we prayed together...Dear Jesus...I Love You...I want you to come into my heart...Sometimes I do things that are wrong...But you forgive me...And you love me...Thank You Jesus...Amen.

I told her we need to tell Mima and Papa that she asked Jesus into her heart and the conversation went something like this.... "Why Mommy"..."Because Mima and Papa will be very excited"..."I think I will forget by tomorrow"..."Do you think God will forget?"..."No"..."Does God ever forget anything?"..."No"..."Do you think God is smiling?"..."Yes"..."Why is he smiling?"..."I don't know"..."He is smiling because you will live with him in Heaven when you die."..."I don't want to be there ALL the days when I die"..."Well, some people don't go to heaven when they die and that makes God very sad"..."Yeah...There will be toothbrushes there...and toothpaste"..."I Love You Regan...Goodnight"

Hmmmm....salvation and toothbrushes in the same converstion. Only with a four year old I guess!! God only knows....

A Night at the Beach...

On Tuesday nights, Paul plays volleyball at the Grand Haven State Park. When there was only one kid to keep track of and de-sand at the end of the night, we used to go as a family. This year, Paul and Regan go by themselves.

We weren't sure how Regan would do, having to entertain herself for about an hour. For the most part, she has done pretty well. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Paul bribes her with a Frosty reward from Wendy's on the way home, if she behaves.

This week, I decided to brave it with Sage. We dropped Paul and Regan off and ran an errand before we returned to play. Sage loved it! I couldn't distract her from seeing Dada while we were court side, so we headed to the swings. When dada was done playing, I pulled her, kicking and screaming, from the swing and we all headed down to the water.

This was Sage's first time in the big lake. She wasn't quite sure what to think. It felt a little cold, until you go used to it, so that might have been half the problem. After about 10 minutes, she was big stuff, walking in and out of the water by herself with a grin from ear to ear. I hadn't packed a swimsuit for her, so she played in her onesie and diaper. Her cloth diapered bottom looked like it was carrying quite a load!

Everyone had a blast in the water, until it was time to clean up. Apparently, the bathrooms no longer have the foot bath that we were counting on to rid the girls of all the sand in places where there shouldn't be sand. I didn't have swimwear on either, so Paul was left to fend for himself cleaning up both wet girls. This didn't fly so well.

A short drive to Wendy's, a frosty bedtime snack and a quick bath before bed quickly cleaned up children and attitudes. Now we are left with another fond memory of summertime in Michigan and the beautiful beaches that we have to enjoy.