The Kitchen Can Wait

I am the worst for pushing aside my children so that I can get a task done. I feel guilty to be in my pyjamas at 9am (not to mention noon). I have high expectations on myself as an at-home mama.

Being 8+ months pregnant with a 2 & 4 year old does come with challenges. I’m sure I say this every pregnancy, but, ” I don’t think that I have ever been this tired!” And it’s only going to get worse – some things will be better, like having a cute newborn to snuggle, but the sleeplessness will not be better for a while.

So, how can you cope with times of excessive exhaustion or transitions in life? There are a few key things I’ve been learning and would like to share

Change your expectations:
Don’t mistaken this with lowering your expectations, that’s very different. Life is in transition and now is not the time for change or big projects. I often ask myself, “is this a reasonable request?” I have many projects that I feel should be done before the babies due date but I have to decide what is realistic. 4 sewing projects, organizing 3 main rooms of the house, and a freezer-meal marathon? Probably not.

Define daily goals:
Every day is different. Some days I have lots of energy and other days not so much. There are key things that HAVE to be accomplished. Feeding kids is #1. Getting dressed is optional. I like to have a tidy home when I go to bed to start the next day with a clean slate – that could be as easy as loading and running the dishwasher and doing a pick-up of things around the house. I am ok if I don’t wipe the table or sweep the floor.

Don’t make life harder than it has to be:
Remember KISS: keep it simple stupid (some, who are more refined than I, use sweetheart as the last “s”. I like the directness of the current statement). Even in good times we can overwhelm ourselves with high expectations. There is life after housework and meal planning. Remember to enjoy it!

Soon this baby will be here, we will be back to a regular running day, and life goes on. For right now I will focus on what needs focus and forget the rest.

I’ve been trying to focus my time on the kids these days. Soon a new baby will make them feel pushed aside. Also these are the last days of Oliver being the “baby” of the family so I’m just enjoying my kids.

This has been our week:
Dressing as a superhero

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Playing in the glorious outdoors

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Holding hands while watching a movie

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Baking together (went much better than past experiences)

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Social Media Musings

I have been thinking a lot about social media such as twitter and Facebook. I have now gone more than a year without being on Facebook and not even having an active account. I am often asked about this and what my thoughts are relating to it and to be honest I have said a number of things. Though I would say I do not believe that Facebook is evil or wrong, I would say that I believe it has the potential to be destructive. Now of course we know that there are many things that can be destructive but are not inherently evil, such as alcohol, sex, money, etc. Yet we still use those things. I think the more important question in relation to what we use is why we use it. The thing for me is that if I am going to use something I want to know that I have a clear “why” to it. Facebook for instance seems to me that the reason many people use it is because everyone else is using it. This is justified by statements like, “that is where my friends are” or “that is how we keep in touch” even as far as “we are closer with Facebook than anywhere else, cause people will share more personally on Facebook than they would face to face”. I am just not sure that those are legitimate reasons or that they are even entirely true (nor that this is an exhaustive list). Recently I attended the Simpson lectures at Acadia Divinity College. The research that was presented related in part to social media and it was discovered that people in the focus groups over and over stated that they believed they had closer relationships because of social media. I followed up by asking if this was even true, as we know saying we feel something is true and it actually being true are not the same thing. The answer was uncertain as the quantitative research relating to that question was not completed. Call me a skeptic but I am not certain that it is actually true.

This has all come out of a lot of conversation that Beckie and I have been having lately regarding intentionality in what we do. We don’t want to do something because it is popular, we want to do it because we see that there is clear intention and reason behind it. This relates to Facebook in the way that it can be something that sucks time away, but instead is used in a way that genuinely reflects the heart and truth of our family. That is why we exist, primarily for the Glory of Christ. If this is not the chief driving force behind why we engage in social media then it is a purposeless endeavour. Let me clarify though that I know it is fine to speak of things and mention things that we enjoy and think are humorous and the like it is important to remember that even those things reflect what we believe about God. I appreciated a book by Shane Hipps, though I do not agree with everything that he says in all places, I believe what he shared in The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture in regards to the famous statement attributed to Marshal McLuhan “The Medium is the message”. By this alone there is a distinct way in which we immediately say something about who Jesus is by saying that social media is a necessity even for the sake of the Gospel. Many times people say “we preach the same message just in a different vehicle”, however there is always a way in which the medium places things on the message and therefore in order to proclaim the same message we need to try and interpret what else the medium could be adding to the message so that we can indeed do the best we can to be faithful to the Gospel that we proclaim. It is the most important thing in existence so we should spend some time thinking through the implications of how the medium affects the Gospel.

Now before I am labeled someone who is anti social media and technology let’s be clear about a few things. I am writing this on a computer, it will in some form be posted on a blog, and anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of technology and its use. Even to the point where my physical handwriting has no doubt suffered because I write anything that I possibly can on the computer because my ability to remember where all my papers and notebooks are is sorely lacking. I also do maintain a twitter account currently and am in fact considering getting back on Facebook. I just want to be someone who intentionally asks questions of what we are doing and why we use what we do. I don’t want to be someone who uses something simply because it is available or because everyone else is on it. I want to be someone who carefully posits my motives and comes to the conclusion that I use it because it is a purposeful way to express the truth of the Gospel through proclamation in life and in voice (or type).

I have found myself even censoring myself when I consider who may or may not read something and thinking about my desire not to offend someone. Yet though I indeed want to approach things with as much Grace as possible I need to also profess truth, in love of course, but truth none the less. Faith seeking to understand is probably where I find myself at this point in my life. And that is not a typo I do not mean faith seeking understanding (though I do believe that) I mean faith seeking to understand. I want to seek first to understand things and speak with wisdom, dignity, and grace into those things. An article I read recently has made a massive impression on me huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windme… It, I believe, shows people with differing views come to a place where they disagree with dignity and grace and still show a genuine care and compassion for each other. I think grace and understanding is being sought here. What amazes me most is that in the church we don’t even do this that well. We argue and accuse and wound over secondary issues that don’t have to do with the primary essentials of the Gospel rather than seek to disagree over those issues in love and reflect Christ well in our disagreement.

I don’t know that I have made any real conclusions on anything except to say that I am asking the questions, I am seeking to understand, I am seeking to honour Christ and put any fear of man aside in light of fearing Christ and placing Him first. So I end with the verse that has been a staple here in our home for the coming year. “that in everything Christ might be preeminent” Colossians 1:18b

Top Five

Last year, around this time, I wrote a post “Is It Worth The Candy?”. This is somewhat a followup post to that.

I’ll be honest. I hate halloween! And no, it’s not because I’m a Christian and halloween is a  satanic/demonic holiday – although that is one issue. We are Christ followers and that does affect how we do life. However, my concerns with Halloween has to do with the current state of this widely celebrated festival and it’s negative implications. Plus, I hate people asking me, “what are you guys doing for halloween?” My answer is not a quick one! So, this post is a way for me to concisely put down my objections and create a clear argument to retort with when I am faced with “the dreaded question”.

Oliver, roasting pumpkin seeds October 2011

Here are my top five issues with October 31st and the events surrounding it:

Greed – this is the reason I don’t understand halloween. Why am I supposed to sit at home with an investment of chocolate waiting for kids (note: strangers) to come to my home and collect it because they may or may not have a good costume on? One word, greed. I often hear, “that’s the fun” or “it’s all about the candy”. Well I think it’s weird!!! If we were in the 1950s and I actually new and invested in my neighbours, and they in me, I may think differently. In our culture today this is self-serving behaviour and not something I like to encourage.

Over-spending – How much do you spend on halloween? Costumes, candy, decorations, the gas to drive to the “good neighbourhoods”, it all adds up! Do you budget these items? Did you know Christmas is around the corner? Let’s be honest, stores know we are big spenders. They totally take advantage of these ‘consumer holidays’. Those marketing executives are good at their jobs! Do you think your money could be put to better use – rather than feeding the poor chubby kids down the road?

Health concerns – First, have you ever wondered why the flu vaccine comes out around this time? When you feed your body too much sugar and don’t give it proper nutrition and rest (it’s probably hard to sleep because of all the high fructose corn syrup, fat, and salt you are pumping into yourself) it causes your immune system issues, and some people are effected more than others. You might come down with a scratchy throat or the sniffles or the full on “out both ends” situation. The flu is not a coincidence. Second, Isn’t there an obesity epidemic in North America? Is overconsumption something we want to ingrain in our children? Plus, I don’t even want to get started on all the GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that junk food contains and how they effect your body (encouraging obesity and other health complications). Side note: you are lucky, I’m going to stop here. I could make a whole post about this topic!!!! I am showing self control. Moving along…

Natalee, making pumpkin seeds Oct 2011

Child slavery/human trafficking – this breaks my heart! Many major chocolate producers turn a blind eye that children are the ones harvesting cocoa to produce our precious halloween candy. It’s a disgusting irony that children will be out all night in North America collecting candy while children in developing countries are denied their freedom to help produce that candy. A wonderful mom named Kristen wrote – better than I ever could – on this specific topic in her blog Rage Against the Minivan. I would REALLY encourage you to check it out. My note here is please be a responsible consumer if you are buying treats! Buy local when possible and buy Fair Trade. Yes, it’s more expensive but it is worth it!

Over-sexualization – there may be some scary costumes out there but those are clearly plastic, fake, and fairly easy to explain to a child. My issue is more with the sexual costumes – sexy cheerleader, slutty nurse, sexy kitty. And it’s not just adult costumes. I’m already horrified year-round how our young girls dress and are expected to be sexy and grown up (if you don’t believe me google Madonna’s tween fashion line, Material Girl; also this is her daughter Lola’s blog about halloween, she’s 15 by the way) wearing heavy makeup, short skirts, and even fishnet stockings. There is also a trend of baby string bikinis! When it comes to October, in Canada, let’s be practical: it’s COLD. Ladies, please clothe yourselves!

I want to pose this question to you: Why do you celebrate halloween? Is is bad to take part in these festivities? Of course not! But don’t just settle with, “well, everyone else does it.” Your mama taught you better than that! And my mama did too. Where do you think I got my “why”-mentality from? And I hope to pass that along to my kids.

Our Family October 2011

Because of our convictions Chris and I have decided to spend our October 31st differently. We have chosen to invest our time and money in our kids in another way. We have budgeted for a wonderful family evening of events. We will be bowling with the kids, eating out as a family (BIG treat for us!!), and then heading to the church to watch a movie on the big screen. We call it the Reformation Celebration (FYI Reformation Day is also on October 31st).

Our kids still don’t understand what halloween is. Natalee has been asking some questions and we tell her honestly, “many people enjoy dressing up and going door to door to get candy but we have chosen to spend our evening as a family.” As the kids grow and ask more we will honestly answer them with our clear convictions. I know this isn’t a “protective phase” that we will grow out of as our kids get older. We want to raise our children to question society and the status quo. Rather than blindly do what everyone else is doing we hope that our kids choose to do what they want, not following the crowd – in all situations.

I hope you take time to consider your  family traditions. Why do you celebrate October 31st the way that you do?

Happy 4th Birthday Natalee: I have a 4 year old??

Isn’t she breathtaking?

I love celebrating birthdays! I try to make them similar to Christmas for the individual we are celebrating. Lots of yummy food (picked by the birthday girl/boy), a relaxed day, and time spent as a family. I think it’s important to remember how each of our children (and my spouse for that matter) are an important member of our family and celebrate the blessing they are to us.

I made a massive post for Oliver’s birthday and I may do the same for Natalee today. I love my kids dearly. I can’t believe how God has blessed us

Natalee and her friend Molly who came for a “pre-birthday sleepover” last weekend

with these little ones and the way he uses them to teach us. Some days the “lessons” get overwhelming so I like to have one day (or a couple days) a year where I can celebrate them as individuals.

If I am really honest, Natalee is my “difficult” child. As she gets older she gets more determined in her decisions so it is harder to find reasons to be thankful for her some days. But when I stop and think of it there are lots!

Here are just a few. I am thankful for Natalee because…

1. She was a surprise blessing and God gave her to us at the right time.

2. She loves to dress up like a princess and “be pretty” – which at this stage means

This is what happens when Natalee gets the camera!

trying out mommy’s makeup and painting her nails. She is a girly-girl and I love it.

3. She is independent. She can dress herself (and chooses to often), brush her teeth and on occasion zip her own zippers. Because she is so efficient she takes the time to help her brother.

4. She has empathy for others who are hurting. I’ll explain this one: when she sees someone in a wheelchair, using a cane, in a cast, or today, someone with an eyepatch, she wants to know what is wrong. There’s not much she could do for the person but you can see her compassion.

Birthday breakfast – homemade Cinnabons

5. She likes to spend time with me; baking, reading; playing catch; you name it.

6. She can be a complete goofball when she wants to. She’ll break out in these funny song & dance combos. Her specialty is singing her version of “worship” music that sound blasphemous an somewhat heretical. That’s my little pastors daughter!

7. She just learned to stop by using the breaks on her bike petals. This may seem silly but its a BIG deal. She has had this bike for a year (she got it at her 3rd birthday party) and it has been a battle to try to teach her how to break. We haven’t been able to take her biking on our walks because when she would start going fast she would freak out and crash – one time she almost flew off her bike and into some rocks on the edge of the ocean. She is a child that has to learn it on her own (she will be an interesting child to homeschool). This week she got it! And has done it again and again 🙂

Some daddy time!

8. Natalee loves water! I love this about her because I don’t enjoy water and I hate getting wet. She’s a brave girl.

9. She’s daddy’s little girl. I love the relationship she has with her daddy. Chris has so much more patience and understanding with her than I do.

Today we have been enjoying Natalee. We have enough treats and sweet things in our home right now to severely harm a diabetic but it’s only for the weekend. I love to spoil my kids rotten every once and a while to show them that we love them and do like to give them good gifts – contrary to their opinion of us mean parents lol.

How do you celebrate the ones you love?

Blessed be the Name of the Lord

Aside

This last week we haven’t been updating our blog much. Let’s call it our “March break”. I don’t see many updates in the near future either.

This weekend has been one of great emotions. On Saturday I remember sitting at the table finishing my breakfast and watching the kids playing and watching cartoons. I mentioned to Chris that it was the most heart-filling vision to see and I was excited that next year we would be adding another baby to our family. The next day, Sunday during church I noticed that I had quite a bit of bleeding. I went immediately to the hospital and Chris followed after he made arrangements for the kids.

After some tests and an ultrasound the doctor told us that there was no heartbeat. They sent us home and said that I would “pass” the baby in the next 24-48 hours and to come back in the morning to do some more tests. Little did I know what “pass” actually meant. The hours to follow were excruciatingly painful – physically and emotionally. I think the hardest part was seeing Chris, that he was unable to do anything to help – other than watch the kids – and I was not able to relieve him so he could grieve. We were thankful to put the kids to bed that night and spend time embracing each other and what the days ahead would bring.

Today we spent most of the day in the hospital…waiting. Waiting for an ultrasound, bloodwork and to go in for a D&C. The day seemed to pass fairly quickly for me but I think it was hard for Chris. All of this has been harder on Chris. He has been the one to support me, find care for the kids and care for the kids when it was just us home. I don’t think he has had much time to process it all.

We are so thankful to Pastor Don and his wife Laurie and our friends Ann and Sandra and her daughter Jordan for helping with the kids while we were at the hospital. I am amazed and blessed by the church family we have here in Summerside.

Please know that we are completely comfortable with questions. Our belief is that we share the pregnancy early so that if something like this were to happen we would have the support around us. You may get the same answer, “I am doing well, today” but it is genuine.

It is amazing that a tiny life, that we’ve never met, has had such an impact on us the last 24 hours. Through all of this we are so thankful to have two healthy children. And we know that our little one is safe in Jesus’ hands until we are reunited again. In all of this we know that God has a plan. We don’t fully understand but we choose to glorify Him in all circumstances.

Through it all I have been comforted by several scriptures:
I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Psalm 40:1-3 (When I was in the Emergency waiting room I was desperately looking for a scripture and this is what I came across)

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:1-2 (Given to me by my wonderful sister)

I hope that these passages can also encourage others going through hard times.

Theological Lessons from Horton the Elephant

I have recently come across a wonderful book and as the title would suggest it is about an elephant by the name of Horton. I had know about the book Horton Hears a Who, however I did not know about Horton Hatches the Egg. After a recent library trip that Beckie made with the kids they returned with a few books one of them being, Horton Hatches the Egg. Upon reading this to Natalee I realized just how profound a book it was.

The book talks about Horton being asked to sit on an egg because the mother bird was too lazy and wanted to go and play and do other things. Horton promises to do so no matter what. The line that rings though the entirety of the book is this “I meant what I said and I said what I meant, and an elephant’s faithful one hundred percent!”. Despite all that would provoke him to go he refused and endured ridicule and danger and storm just to hold true to his word. It got me thinking about Horton Hears a who as well where he defends what he knows is true despite the fact that no one believes him.

As Christians in our culture today it is amazing how often we are pushed to compromise or back down from teachings of the Bible or about giving up on things. Reading this book to Natalee made me think of Paul’s words through several of his letters calling us to persevere, to run the race, to finish strong. What an amazing opportunity to say to my own children that God calls us to do the same things in regards to our faith, to tell them that there are those who would ridicule and make fun of them because they do not believe the truth of scripture but that we are called to be faithful, to have integrity and to stand firm with Christ. How amazing would it be to have children that grow and say “though people will speak against me I will not back down God is my strength”? How amazing would it be for us as the Church of Christ to stand and say the same thing?

Maybe we need to take example from Horton and say “I said what i meant and I meant what I said I will stand with Christ who is faithful one hundred percent”.

Something to think about.

Hello March!

We have some big news in the Keezer home:

If you can see, it says, "We're Prego" LOL

Yes, we are expecting our THIRD child! Can you believe that? I said to Chris, “This means we’re real grown-ups now!”

I am currently 8 weeks along (according to my calculations). So far I feel great, tired, but really good! No morning sickness with this baby. We are already praying that this is a sign that baby #3 will be different than our past two fussy-colicy newborns.

We are so thankful for how God has blessed us. His timing is perfect – in all things!

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth. Psalm 127: 3-4