Mini Book Review- A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea By: Melissa Fleming

I couldn’t sleep the night after finishing the highly emotional and soul wrenching story of Doaa Al Zamel a Syrian refuge.

I read it in 3 days having to work hard to pull myself away to get stuff done and then thinking about it the whole time I was doing something else.

Lost at sea stories are the most terrifying to me. I can’t even think of that movie Unbroken without feeling kind of panicked about how terrifying that would be. This book chronicles Doaa’s horrific 4 days at sea on a child’s inflatable ring, holding and keeping 2 young children alive ontop of her and watching helplessly while almost 500 people including her fiancé drown.

If you’re anything like me and you haven’t spent much time paying attention to the head lines involving Syria, this book will give you a pretty good understanding of the war in Syria and why refuges are risking their lives to escape the neighboring countries.

Melissa Fleming gave this TED talk that sums up the story pretty well although she seems quite nervous and I believe she  misspeaks when telling the events of the murder at sea. Also, the book includes an epilogue that gives more information of what became of Doaa and her family than what is include in the TED talk. (Link below)

And here’s Doaa herself speaking..

 

 

This is a story of courage and bravery and confronts the reader with both the best and the worst of humanity. You will be left with more questions than you began with but will undoubtably be changed by Doaa’s hope and her unwillingness to give up.

 

Summer is in full swing around here! Living for the glory of God

swimming at our favorite swimming spot and jumping off the big rock? check!

Go hiking and swimming on top mount Nebo? check! (well E and daddy swam- it was too cold for me and T.J!)

participate in a VBS? We did two!

We even got to do something I’ve always wanted to do- go on a sailboat!

I’ve been meditating on this verse lately-

1 Tim 6:17 “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;”

There have been times in my life when I genuinely felt guilty for having fun. I mean, shouldn’t life be spent just working and serving and soul winning? Is there legitimately a place for fun in the life of a believer?

Did you catch the last part of that verse? God gives richly to us all things to enjoy. Just look at the extravagant way that He created the world we live in. So much of what surrounds us was simply created by God for the sake of beauty and enjoyment. Think of all the varieties of luscious fruits and vegetables for us to taste and the beauty of nature for our eyes to enjoy. Sin would be to enjoy these things above God or choosing to be unthankful towards God for these things. Sin would also be to neglect the commandments in the next verse to do good and be generous.

Enjoying these things rightly can focus our hearts towards God and can bring Him glory. When I hike with my children I breathe in the fresh air, and marvel at all He has done by His wisdom and power. I thank Him for the time with my family. I’m learning to see these things as gifts from Him to enjoy, not as things to feel guilty about.

Enjoy your Creator today, marvel at His wisdom and kindness and enjoy all He has given you with thanksgiving! Whatever you do, do it for the Lord! (Col. 3:23)

 

Happy Father’s Day to my husband

From the time we meet I remember how much you wanted to be a dad. I remember how so much of what you talked about centered around your hopes for having children in the future. Your desire for fatherhood is one of the things that made me fall in love with you.

We didn’t reveal to each other the wedding vows we had separately written before our wedding day but when we got to the alter we both vowed that any children that came from our marriage we would raise in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We were so looking forward to getting to be parents!

I remember the first month we got married you were disappointed we hadn’t gotten pregnant yet! The second month you were thrilled with the news that you were going to be a dad.

 

Fatherhood instead became a road of pain, grief and confusion as we both had to learn what it meant to parent a child that was in heaven instead of with us. You were and are a good dad to Titus by the way you cared for me and kept us together.

1 year and 3 months later you got home from a night shift and I got to tell you that you were a dad again. The following March your princess was born.

   

Tanner, I have never seen a father daughter relationship any where like the relationship you and her have. I remember all the hours when I was pregnant with her that you spent making her bedroom beautiful and picking out dresses and buying the best and softest cloth diapers you could find!

      

Because of the emergency situation that happened after she was born I couldn’t be with her but I felt a total peace because you were with her. Her first photos, bath and skin to skin you got to experience and I although I feel sad for me that I missed out on that I don’t feel she missed out on anything because she had you.

Everything you do in your day to day life and every decision you make you base off of what is best for your family. You truly give your life for your family.

Your patience and your kindness during the sleep deprivation of parenthood far outweighs my own!

I love the way it looks so easy for you to put aside everything and just be present with our children to do whatever it is they want to do. You are their favorite play mate.

When our second son was born I named him after you because if he grows up to be a man like his daddy, I will be a proud mommy and the future world will be a better place.

When T.J had feeding problems in the NICU, you lovingly syringe feed him one tiny drop of milk at a time.

Before going in for the c-section I said to you, “if anything happens and I can’t hold him after he is born please make sure you do skin to skin contact with him on your chest. That’s really important to me that he has that.” And as soon as you were able to you did and I love you for that.

I’m thankful today and every day that our children are being raised by a man of integrity like you. I’m thankful I can say to my son, be a man like your daddy. One day when our daughter is grown I’ll tell her to look for a man that will treat her as well as you treat her and me. You set a pretty high bar!

Thank you for all the hours and difficult shifts you work to provide for your family. And thank you that after getting up at 4:30 a.m, at 8:00 at night you are playing one more game of hide and seek before rocking our four year old to sleep like a baby because you just want another chance to hold her.

It’s so cliche to end this letter like this but the saying is true, the only thing better than having you as my husband is our children having you as their father.

Happy Father’s Day! I love you!

Psalm 103:13 “Like as a father pitieth his children. so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”

Bible time with little children

At some point during the day when things are calm and I’m not in the middle of doing anything- usually late morning but sometimes in the afternoon, I say to the kids, “Bible time!”

I have a toddler and a very active four year old. Sitting down for a Bible lesson just isn’t going to happen right now. Each day we go to the same spot- the nursery. It’s baby proof, there are toys and a rocking chair. I close the door so the baby doesn’t escape and I pull a bucket of toys out of the closet. They can play, the only rule is no talking during Bible time.

I start off by singing the same song every day. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” I clap my hands, act animated and they ignore me and play with their toys. I don’t ask them to participate. I read them a chapter out of the book of Proverbs. Today since it’s the 8th I read them Proverbs chapter 8. After I ask E, “Is there anything you want to pray about?” She always responds no. (one time she responded horses so I thanked God for horses.) I then ask T.J, “is there anything you want to pray about?” He can’t talk so he doesn’t say much lol.

That’s it. I then tell them we are done. It lasts about 10 or less minutes.

Why do I do this?

Because even if they are just ignoring me and playing with their toys I think it’s important that they see their mother reading the Bible each day. Even if they don’t participate I think it’s important that they hear me pray over them, I believe that eventually they will learn to pray by hearing my prayers. I don’t think they comprehend any of the Proverbs but I believe that the discipline of faithfully reading them the scriptures will eventually grow fruit as they grow in understanding. I don’t know when that will happen but I will keep offering it through reading it to them until one day they do understand.

A couple other benefits are they have to practice a certain measure of self control since there is the no talking during Bible time rule. Also, they are hearing a portion of good literature and proper english each day that from an academic stand point is important for language development.

One day maybe they will join in with me for the singing. Even if they don’t I know E knows the song after hearing me sing it every day and I know T.J recognizes it.

I don’t try and get them to participate in any way other than  making them be in the same room as me and not talk. Our Bible time gives them an opportunity each day to observe my relationship with God and I pray for them that they will come to know God themselves.

I’m not 100% consistent but most days we get it done. Sometimes if my husband is driving I use that time as an opportunity to read to my trapped audience. 🙂

Do you have a Bible time with your toddlers and preschoolers? If so, what do you do?

 

A morning routine and real life with kids

The other day I gave you a peak into using the checklist on the Flylady app for the evening, today I thought I’d give you a peak into our morning. As you’ll see we are not highly scheduled people at all. I like the app because there is no time frame on it. I just check off the next item as time comes up during my morning.

This morning we are getting a bit of a late start. We went out to visit my in laws and for me to do some cleaning for my mother in law and we were surprised by some family that we didn’t know was going to be there. It needed up being after 10:00 before we got home. I usually get up at 5:00 but I slept an hour later and got up as my husband was going to sleep for the day. (Night shift life)

I enjoyed the serenity of the quiet house as I sipped my coffee and read the Bible and spent time in prayer. It’s my favorite part of every day and always worth getting up for. In the list below you can see I added this to my Flylady app to do for each morning.

Morning Routine
Make bed
Get dressed to shoes
swish and swipe
eat breakfast
empty dishwasher
start a load of laundry
check you calendar
read Bible and pray (my addition)

Before the kids woke up I was able to get dressed, set up a couple activities from E’s homeschool curriculum, start a load of laundry, and I’m so glad it’s nice and cool this morning and that I can open the windows because I didn’t take out the trash yesterday and my house smells like a poopy diaper!

The kids woke up and I made them breakfast while dealing with their morning time fussiness and pulling clothes on them. (Is the first 30 minutes your kids are awake this crazy for everyone else?!)

Since I did not clean the kitchen last night instead of unloading the dishwasher I had to first load it. That’s the real life part of keeping a routine- it doesn’t always happen! About half way through cleaning the kitchen I had to give up and stop because T.J still had not stopped crying. I sat down and read the kids several books to try and calm him. As soon as I started into the kitchen again he started crying so I tried to get him down for a nap (that failed to result in a nap.) Meanwhile, E was looking for seeds inside some cantaloupe I had just cut up and got cantaloupe all over the floor and herself and she had to be washed and redressed. Some how through all this I did manage to load and start the dish washer!

I instructed E to turn over the laundry and for a good 10 minutes she dug in her heels and would not do it. I didn’t let her off the hook though and I calmly worked through it until she obeyed. After she finished and started the dryer her face lit up and she said, “I did it!” It reminded me that children do want help doing the right thing.
We did her preschool activities and cleaned up. T.J was acting really fussy (he’s teething) and I was getting really stressed so I packed up the jogging stroller, drove to a park and did a mile or so on a trail with the kids. We saw a rabbit and mushrooms and went to go check out a crane that was doing some work.

On the way home T.J finally fell asleep. I put him in his crib when we got home and then made lunch for E and I. Even though my baby is a year and a half I still need to rest when the baby does so I put on a movie for E and laid down on the couch.

I got up a little before T.J and managed to get the dishwasher unloaded before having to feed him lunch. I quickly made the bed since my husband woke up earlier than usual because he needed to run an errand before work.

I rocked E in the rocking chair and laid her down. I’m sitting on the porch supervising T.J play in the kiddie pool we have on the porch. I can’t bring him in the house right now to clean the bathrooms or E will not fall asleep for sure. I’m wanting her to nap so we can go to VBS tonight. If she doesn’t sleep I know she will be in meltdown mode instead of having fun and it won’t be worth going. Since starting this paragraph I have already had to put her back in her bed so we’ll see.

Anyways, today is a good example to share of having a routine but knowing that kids don’t always get on board with our plans. It’s after 2:00 in the afternoon and I still have not completed what should be about 30 or 40 minutes worth of things to do. Will I finish? Eh..  What about my afternoon routine? I think that’s going out the window along with the rest of the weekly chores I was supposed to have done over the last 5 days… keeping’ it real folks!

How do you balance house work and the needs of your children? What kind of morning routine are you able to stick with while meeting the ever-changing needs of your children?

Snow Family Summer Fun Bucket List

 

Since I started this blog in 2015 I’ve been doing a summer fun bucket list for my kids. I thought about not doing one this year because so many things about our life are just up in the air decisions that I’m waiting on and it feels like there is too much going on! I realize though that life and fun can’t be put on pause just because things are busy. So… drumroll please… here it is! The Snow family 2017 summer fun bucket list.

  1. participate in the summer reading program (already underway)
  2. attend E’s first VBS (she’s registered!)
  3. take a trip to CT to visit family in July!
  4. go swimming at our favorite swimming hole- long pool. Pack up snacks and all the beach stuff! Jump off the big rock!
  5. Go swimming at the pool at Mt. Nebo
  6. check out our city’s public swimming pool
  7. check out the aquatic center that is scheduled to open next month
  8. eat popsicles outside, make or find me a low carb version
  9. find somewhere for the kids to play in a sprinkler. Grandma and Grandpa’s house?
  10. sidewalk chalk at the park
  11. catch lightning bugs
  12. go bike riding as a family
  13. visit a farmer’s market
  14. have a water balloon fight with cousins
  15. see a parade
  16. go to the county fair
  17. make homemade lemonade
  18. do a fourth of july photo shoot
  19. go to story time at dog ear books
  20. celebrate, mommy and daddy’s birthday’s and wedding anniversary!

 

 

 

An evening with the Fly lady app

If you’re into reading homemaking blogs I’m sure you’ve heard of flylady.net. A few weeks back I downloaded the Flylady app on my phone. In reality it’s nothing but some to do lists but if you are a to do list junkie like I am then you’ll like it. You get a star next to and a line through each job completed. There is a morning list, an afternoon list, an evening list and a weekly home blessing list. Each job completed earns you points and your points earn you “jewels”. They mean nothing in real life, it’s kind of like a video game. You get so many points and then a new jewel. Sounds really dumb and it kind of is but for some reason it’s so rewarding to see the word “congratulations” and to get to another “level”. It kind of becomes a game.

Tonight I’ll show you what it looks like for me to follow the routine while also caring for two children.

Flylady has her list set up like this:

check your calendar and forecast
lay out tomorrows clothes
put things needed for tomorrow at the launch pad
spend two minutes clearing off a hot spot
shine your sink
wash face, brush teeth, bathe
go to bed at a decent hour

here’s a link although I just went to the app store on my phone and downloaded the free version which is not as detailed.

http://www.flylady.net/d/flyladt-messenger-app/

I do my routine in a bit of a different order to make it work as I ready the kids for bed.

After an impromptu Sunday after noon trip to the park where we played in the light rain, we came home and enjoyed hot bowls of leftover jumbalaya before getting to work.

It makes more sense to me to clean the kitchen right after dinner so I start there. I put on a Max Lucado movie for the kids since dad is working. I think I’m finally at the point in motherhood where I’m starting to accept my limitations and realize I do sometimes need to use the T.V and not feel guilty about it. (not that I don’t feel guilty about it! )anyways.. that’s a different topic!

After I cleaned the kitchen I worked on our “hot spot” which is a constant explosion of kids stuff everywhere. I used the two minutes to throw stuff in a laundry bucket to put away later.

The thing I lay out for the morning is my coffee stuff. I measure out the water and the coffee into the coffee maker and it’s ready to go!

I got the kids in the tub and while I supervised them I brushed my teeth and laid out my clothes for tomorrow since my closet is connected to the bathroom.

While they are playing in the tub is also a good time for me to check tomorrow’s weather on my phone and also the calendar and send off any text messages I need to. I added to my evening routine list that I want to send to my mother in law a text of what I ate that day to help me stay on my low carb diet. I sent off that text while watching them in the tub.

I brushed T.J’s teeth first, put his pj’s on, read him a board book and them rocked him for a little bit before tucking him in.

E claimed she was “so hungry” so I gave her some dry cereal before she brushed her teeth and then we got in my bed and read a few books. I don’t try and read the kids books at the same time any more because T.J ends up wanting to rough house and kind of ruins it for E who wants to pay attention to the books. I kind of like the one on one time it gives me with them as well. When my husband is on day shift usual I put one child to bed and he puts the other to bed. It also helps to speed stuff up that I can wash dishes while he supervises the kids in the tub.

After I got E to bed then I was able to do my nighttime stuff and take a shower. That’s it! It’s not a lot but when I am consistent it keeps things from getting too crazy around here and it is so much nicer to wake up to a clean kitchen, my clothes ready to put on and my coffee stuff ready to go.

Do you have any apps that you use to aid you in your homemaking? Tell me in the comments!

What do I want out of today?

What do I want out of today?

love. I want to give it and receive it. I want to feel it, to engage all my senses in receiving any bit of it my children or husband offer me. I want to be willing to receive it their way. My 1 year old gives love by feeding me pretend food and curling my hair and lately, giving me way too sloppy open mouth kisses. I want to not be too busy or too distracted to receive that love.

I want to give love how they receive it. My 4 year old wants me to engage in elaborate games of make believe. I will make what is important to her important to me because I love her.

I want to believe. I want to believe God loves me. I don’t want to just hope that God loves me or know intellectually that God loves me I want to experience and taste of the love of God.

I want to hope. I scan the sky for Christ’s return. I want more than that though, I want hope in God for today. If He does not return today I want hope in Him, trust in Him, experiencing Him to be what fills and delights this moment. I want this moment and this day to be wonderful because I am savoring the presence of a loving God who extends friendship.

I am not alone. I want to believe that today and I want it to put a smile on my face, a joy in my step and happiness in my heart. Loneliness is crushing to me. When I could find no one available or around to be with me yesterday I felt so alone. I am never alone though, Christ is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. He lives within me, is all around me. He offers to me fullness of joy in His presence. Did you read that!? Fullness of joy- as in it can’t get any better than this- He offers me all the joy in the universe and tells me it will be enough, it will fill me. Fullness of joy, my cup overflowing with happiness because I am in the presence of the living God.

I don’t want to complain today. I read a Psalm of Asaph this morning and he said that he complained and his soul was overwhelmed. My complaining is what is making me overwhelmed. God, give me Your grace and strength not to complain with my heart or lips but instead offer thanksgiving to You and those around me. With the help of God, I will not complain about child rearing, about messes, about those who have hurt me, about the sufferings in my life.

Instead today I say, thank You God. Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. Thank You that I am forgiven today. Thank You that You do not hold the sins of yesterday over my head in condemnation but instead You say that the righteous falls seven times yet gets up and keeps going every time. (Proverbs). Thank You that I’m not relying on my own righteousness because I am an ugly sinner. Thank You for blotting out the hand writing of ordinances which was against me and nailing it to Your cross. Thank You for wanting me to have life and have it more abundantly. I receive Your life today.