The Long, Sleepless Nights

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I don’t usually write on Wednesday mornings.  However, I skipped yesterday morning because nobody in our house slept Monday night.  Darling Daughter decided to keep us all up nearly all night long!

She is great sleeper.  In fact, she missed most of her first 8 weeks because we couldn’t keep her awake for anything.  In the evening when I ask her if she is ready for bed, she immediately goes up the steps and into the bathroom to brush her teeth.  If I don’t follow her fast enough, she fusses.  She loves sleep!

Monday night, when she couldn’t stay asleep, we knew something was wrong.  It could have been a tooth coming in, a hurt lip from a fall earlier in the day, or she could be catching a bug that made her feel bad.  I don’t know.  Her verbal skills are still very limited at only 17 months.  The fact of the matter is that the girl was up crying every twenty to thirty minutes all night long!

In the midst of a never-ending night, knowing there is a full day of work lying ahead, depression seeps into us.  It is one of those dark moments in the life of a mom when we call upon the strength of the Lord, because we run out of our own strength in the first few hours.  It can be so hard to hold a screaming child and feel helpless.  

When my nights are long, here are some things I try to remember.  First of all, God won’t give me more than I can handle.  That doesn’t mean it will be easy.  Sometimes I am only able to move forward because he allows me to tap into His power, strength, and might. Secondly, the sun always shines after the storm.  One of my favorite verses is Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

We all face our share of hard nights.  Usually they are due to trials with those we love.  What are our options?  I could give up my children and reclaim all nights as mine.  I could encourage others to not have children, or even get married at all, because both relationships mean extreme sacrifice.  I could tell others to not ever love another because love drives us to lose our “me-time!”  Hopefully you find these options as absurd as I do!

When we love, bring others into our lives, and live the life God designed for us, we will have hard, long, sleepless nights!  However, the joy that comes in the morning far outweighs the sacrifice.  

Blessings!

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Making Tough Choices With Courage

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Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our decisions could be based simply upon what is right and what is wrong? In a perfect world, the right decision would be easy to see, cause no harm, and always “feel” like the right choice.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the way our world works.  Occasionally we are faced with choices that will hurt others no matter which decision you make.

As a teacher, I often have to choose between devoting more time and energy to my job and spending time with my kids.  Putting in more effort at school, staying later, bringing home more work, and spending more money on my students can be very helpful to them.  I may be able to reach a student in a different way.  I may be able to take them further through the curriculum.  The added effort may be the difference in this kid passing state tests or failing.  But at what cost for my own kids?

When I stay late at school or bring home piles of papers to grade, my own kids lose their mom.  That extra time should also be spent folding clothes, cleaning house, and playing with my kids. Darling Daughter LOVES to spend her evenings reading books and singing songs with us.  Superhero Son wants to spend every moment drawing treasure maps, creating “movies” with his action figures, and reading his books about superheroes.  Don’t they deserve my time?

Then again, my students deserve the best teacher they can get, too!

Tough decisions face us around every corner.  It stinks when we know our choices will hurt someone no matter which direction we choose.  We pray for guidance, we hope for miracles, and we ask others for help.

Sometimes we even come across those choices that take great courage.  Jesus is a great example of a man who needed great courage to do what was right by God.  He also didn’t worry too much about hurting the feelings of others.  He was truthful and confrontational.  That takes courage!  For those of you facing one of these decisions, a choice that will require courage, go pray about it.  Take comfort in knowing you aren’t alone!

Blessings!

 

The Power in Positive Language

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A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1 KJV

The morning routine has changed for my students this year.  Many of them arrive in my classroom about 30 minutes earlier than they did last year.  I didn’t think the added thirty minutes would make that big of a difference, but it does for one kid.  

There is one young man who walks into my classroom every morning in a rage!  He barrels through the crowd of kids, pushes desks, knocks over water bottles, and yells at people to move out of his way, grunting and kicking the whole time.  Now, he isn’t a mean kid.  He can actually be very sweet.  This behavior surprised me, so I began to investigate his bus situation.  I wanted to know who he sat with, was someone picking on him, what was the bus driver doing, and was something happening during the walk from the bus into my room. I got nothing! In fact, his ride on the bus is very short.

After a bit more investigation, I realized that this kid’s mornings are crazy at home.  I imagine his mom yells at him to hurry up.  His step dad is the disciplinarian, and probably rubs the kid the wrong way.  This child starts his day in chaos, and then he can’t calm down.  

We all know that it doesn’t take much to put us in a bad mood.  One person can speak a negative thought to us and set us up for a bad day.  We also know that it can be hard to turn around a bad mood.  

I began playing soft music in my classroom.  I started requiring my kids to work quietly.  I now watch my words very carefully.  I know that I need to ignore his bad mood and say several calming, kind statements to him before he can calm down. I have noticed that other kids are beginning to react to him in the same manner.  They are using calming statements with each other and seem to enjoy our quiet moments before the instructional day begins. 

Those of us with kids know how important this is.  We all have had those mornings where our bad mood rubbed off onto our kids.  God doesn’t want us to walk through this life in misery.  He gave us an amazing world full of blessings to enjoy!  Whose morning can you influence tomorrow?  Can your positive language change the day for someone?

Blessings!

Home Sweet Home!

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Whew!!! Vacations are amazing!  I love spending days with my husband.  We just returned from our last trip of the summer.  I now have three days to whip this crew into shape before this momma returns to work!

My husband is an amazing man!  He spent the vast majority of our recent vacation doing things for the kids that he doesn’t normally do.  He changed diapers, poured cups of milk, fed Darling Daughter (not easy without a highchair!), played non stop, and put kids to bed.  However, he is now back at work!

Our normal routine is about to return.  In three days, I go back to teaching full time.  I am not sure my family is fully prepared for rushed dinners, laundry that has to wait until Saturdays, hours of Mommy grading papers instead of playing games together, and earlier bedtimes.  Yeah, I know!  I should have eased them back into those earlier bedtimes!

It is an odd feeling to see summer end and fall begin.  I have mixed feelings.  I adore spending extra time with my family, the freedom of not working full time, and all the fun summertime activities.  However, I also love fall.  I love fresh starts at work.  I love watching a new class of fifth graders settle in for an amazing year.  I love the food associated with fall.  (You know what I mean!  Baked cinnamon apples, soups, brown beans and cornbread!)  And then, of course, there is football!  We ALL love our football in this house!

So, today, I write with sadness as I say goodbye to another amazing summer.  But I also feel the excitement of returning to work, returning to routine, and welcoming fall into my home. 

Blessings!

Choices: What To Do with All of My Free Time

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I rarely have free time. My to-do list is always full. The kids keep me hopping. The house always needs to be cleaned. Laundry piles up. You get the picture. In fact, I bet you are in the same boat. However, every once in a while, I will steal a few moments for myself. I may find ten or fifteen minutes while the kids nap when I cannot vacuum or put away clothes in their room. I find little breaks when my to-do list hits a stand-still. So what do I do in my free time? Oh the choices!

When my kids were tiny babies, I slept! Now I can manage the day without a nap, thankfully! So what are my choices? I could spend my free time in a very productive way by working on school work or writing.  I could work on a task beneficial to my family, such as meal planning. I could mindlessly search Pinterest or Facebook. Better yet, I could mindlessly get lost in games of Candy Crush Saga. I could read or dream up new preschool projects for Superhero Son.

Oh the choices I have! Now, none of the choices listed are sins, right? I am not a bad person or participating in any wrong doing if I chose to spend my free time on any of these activities. Unless I put them before God. We are told over and over in the Bible that God must come first in our lives. So how should I spend my free time? My choices narrow to reading my Bible, working on Sunday School lessons, or simply praying.  By putting God first, our lives will remain focused. These quiet moments allow God to speak to our hearts and guide our minds. When we have committed our hearts and minds to God, we may see that spending time with Him is far more relaxing and renewing than time spent on Facebook.

Blessings!

The Calm Before the Storm: Times Filled with Hope and Motivation

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In just a couple weeks I will be back to work full time again.  That means early morning postings on the blog at 5am, the 5pm dinner rush, evenings full of preschool activities for Superhero Son, lots of papers to grade, and the stress of school work piled on top of cooking, cleaning, and caring for my family.

Since that first summer after I had Superhero Son, I have felt a sense of loss when the summer winds down.  I love our days of hanging out in our pjs, the summer activities, time with family at the lake, and not working on Tuesdays when my husband is off from work.

When the end of summer is upon me, I feel like I need to treasure every minute with my kids.  However, something inside of me kicks into high gear, and I feel drawn to my classroom.  I acquire this need to get it ready for anxious fifth graders.  I have an amazing amount of motivation to be supermom!  At this point on the calendar, I believe I can do it all.  I can be the perfect wife, mother, and teacher. Then reality sets in!

I wish I could bottle that energy, motivation, and confidence and use it when I falter in a few weeks. At some point I will have to remind myself that I am human and not perfect.  For now, I am off to conquer the world!

Blessings!

When Looks Really Do Matter

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Beauty is only skin deep.

Pretty is as pretty does.

True beauty lies on the inside.

We have heard all of the sayings.  We try to convince ourselves that our looks are good enough for God, good enough for the world, and good enough for ourselves.  However, do our looks really matter?  Did they matter to the Proverbs 31 woman?

Looks probably mattered quite a bit to her, but maybe not the way our society promotes beauty.  She would never grace the cover of a magazine in a bikini or revealing dress.  Modesty would have been a huge priority.  However, we know that she worked hard to prepare clothing for her family.  She tried her best to make them all look good.  She wanted to present her family to the world as a well clothed group.

13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes. (Proverbs 31:13, 22-24)

The chapter goes on to say in verse 30 that “beauty is fleeting.”  So should we value beauty or not??

Here is my opinion.  As always, my opinion evolves as I age and grow.  At this point in my life, my goal is to make sure my family dresses well.  I want everyone to have clothing that is clean, fits well, looks attractive, and is modest in nature.  My husband and I must look professional for our careers, so we pay attention to our closets.  We don’t spend a lot of money on clothing, but stores like TJ Maxx and Target keep us clothed.

We all know that when we see people whose clothing doesn’t fit, who appear dirty, and those who look disheveled, we form an opinion about them.  The Proverbs 31 woman tried to promote her husband’s social status by ensuring that her family was clothed well.  To me, that doesn’t mean expensive, designer clothing, but it does mean clean and neat.

What about the hair, make-up, nails, and jewelry?  As with anything else, an obsession with it would detract from our relationship with God.  We cannot spend our lives worrying about looking perfect.  It won’t happen.  We are created to look different, individualized.  We should embrace our differences and our features.

Having said that, there are times when I go to the expense of nice jewelry, professional hair coloring (shh…) and cut, and get my nails done.  My husband works in a world where looks do matter to many of his clients.  To some of his clients, appearances show a social status.  In order to make my husband look good, I need to look good. ( I know, rough life when my husband is forced to pay for a manicure for me!)

I remember hearing stories as a child of churches who wouldn’t allow women to wear jewelry.  I know there are sects of Christians who still believe and practice this.  They do not allow make-up or professional hair and nail services.  I disagree with them.  I do not believe that God considers valuing the way we look as a sin.  Only when we put beauty ahead of Him or treat others poorly based upon their appearances will God become angry with us.

I know this is a touchy subject.  I could go on to discuss weight and our family’s journey to fitness, but I will save that for another post!

Blessings!