A Foundation of Personal Organization

A FOUNDATION of PERSONAL ORGANIZATION

You are still sleeping.  Maybe it because of the quiet rain.  Maybe its because you wore out yesterday with church and having fun with Daddy being home from work.  Regardless of why, it is a perfect day for sleeping in so that Mommy can get a bit of a head start on the week.  And I’m taking advantage of these minutes to write to you.  Organization is on my mind so we’ll spend a bit of time on that.  It is a many-faceted topic and is actually a foundation for so much else.  So it’s a good place to start.  This probably won’t be the smoothest blog post because I have to write fast.  Any minute you will arise.  The computer will have to close and life will turn into breakfast making and hairbow fixing (you currently like to wear at least 4).

Eventually I’d like to write you about developing a life philosophy (and a philosophy for your someday family) on how to deal with possessions.  And I want to share a few ideas that have helped me in organizing (I came from a background of not being organized.  So every step I make is quite exciting to me).  And just other random thoughts on life and possession organization.  There will probably be many many posts on this overarching topic.  But first I need to show you an underlying foundation of life organization.  It is this key that I think will help you with every other aspect of your life.

This is something Daddy taught me and it has completely transformed my life.  It is something that we want you to know and understand even as a child.  The inner peace (of knowing what you are investing your time in is what is most important to you) and direction it can give your life – even as a very young lady – has a wealth of long-term benefits.  Someday maybe you will find a different system that you prefer over this style.  But, as your Mommy, I want to at least have taught you this  way well.

In a nutshell it is similar (a little more simplistic) to that which is taught by Franklin Covey and I’m sure we will have you listen many times to our old audio cassettes going into depth on these concepts.

IDENTITY YOUR VALUES

We all have certain life values whether or not we have articulated them or even thought them through. What are your life values?  What are the things in life that are most important to you?  What do you cherish most?  If you had a day to focus on whatever brings you greatest joy, what would that be?

When you are a little girl your values are going to mimic ours since you are in our family and we are raising your purposefully in a certain way.  As you grow your values will take on a more personal meaning and you will come to own certain values as really yours.  Over time we want to help you make the transition from the values we have set to coming to own your own values.

Some people have many many values. Others have just a few.  Several years ago I first wrote out my values and found that I have 16.  Under each of those values I have various goals.  But, I only currently have 16 Life Values.  For example, here are my first 10.  I have them listed with a little bit of explanation.  Once you write down your values, place them in order (some things may be hard to place in an exact order, but generally line them up so most significant is on top and less significant tends toward the bottom).  This is very important and I will explain why in a bit.

  1. God… to delight in the Lord, orbiting my heart and strength and mind around Him. In all I do, think, and say glorifying Him and delighting in Him now and always and always and always.
  2. Nicholas… treasuring the grandest blessing in my life… never ceasing to value and strengthen this relationship, talking, having fun, working together in unity and joy and with purpose. Being the bestest of friends.
  3. Nicky and Lizzylou and Edmund… realizing they are the greatest gift we have been given, and the delight and responsibility it is to guide them. They are our foundational ministry, calling, work, joy. Engaging them in truth and joy and love and wisdom. Realizing this day with them is so valuable. We will never have this specific day again. Embrace it and use it to the best of my ability for teaching them God’s ways
  4. Wisdom through Bible study and Prayer… it is my strong belief that the Lord speaks to us through His Word and He molds us into His image through the Holy Spirit as we marinate in the Word. It is of utmost importance to take focused time to read the Word and to read it to our children.
  5. Home… Our home is our primary focus of ministry and growing as a family. It is our castle, haven, training ground, and joy. Others may enter, and we desire this for Christ has called us to hospitality, but at the end of the day it is us happy 5 and it is so good to be us.
  6. Extended family… God has given us a wonderful extended family and it is my intention to focus much on creating opportunities of good fellowship, grandparent times, and be able to help them financially or physically in the future as needed.
  7. The Church… My heart is for the women of the Church. I want them to walk in joy, hope, and security in their identity in Christ.  I want them to know God’s Word and have a strong theology that impacts every aspect of their life.  I think my giftings within the church are encouragement, coming alongside, and teaching.
  8. Financial… We desire to be wise stewards of what God has given us. We desire to cultivate and produce vs.being consumers. We want to be generous towards the Church and Kingdom work in which God is calling us to join.  We want to have a process of saving finances for longterm goals which also gives us the freedom to enjoy our current season of life.
  9. Learning… I want to always be learning and growing. Taking opportunity to purposefully and strategically strengthen my learning in various areas… languages, philosophy, vocabulary, reading, theology, music.
  10. Body… Realizing my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and I am entrusted to care for it well, I do this through what I eat, exercising, and protecting myself.

GOALS

Then with each value I wrote on my value list, I write out practical goals toward aligning my life with that value.

For example, value 13:

  1. PRESERVING MEMORIES… Taking time to record the God’s work in the life of my family.

These are some of the specific goals I have toward doing this:

Writing down funny things my children say and do (posting on Facebook, writing in Baby books)
Verbal recounting to them of God’s work in our family and their lives specifically in the past
Writing my values into a letter for Nicky and Lizzie
Writing my contemplations from time to time
Taking pictures
Creating photo albums
Family Christmas letter

Now that I have these goals written out, I can choose specific steps (and these steps will constantly be changing a bit.  It is good to go back to them about once a month when taking a bit of extended planning contemplation on the upcoming month). “Twice a month, spend half an hour preserving memories in one form or another.”  “By next Christmas, have made a scrapbook online/and order it of Nicky’s summer-winter 2013.”

Another example of goal making.  One of my values (number 5) is home.  My goal list under Home says:  “Cooking Well, Eating Healthy, Baking, Hosting people in my home, Teaching (my children), Organizing” Those are the things I focus on in that category.  Under each goal I have specific steps.  “By-weekly make Lizzie’s special baked goods to freeze” (since you can’t have certain ingredients).”  “Weekly grocery ship.”  “In February find the best sugar cookie recipe and work to master it.”

This can give so much direction. It also encourages me daily.  My 12th value has to do with possessions.  When I clean out a drawer, throw away socks I will never wear, or when I have you all work together toward tidying up the living room before Daddy comes home so that your time with Daddy can be more fully invested in special time with him (reading, playing, etc. instead of picking up toys), I am in line with my life values even if what I am doing doesn’t seem very important/won’t be on the nightly news.  Even in the smallest things we do, when we keep in line with out life values, we can gain a sense of great purpose and fulfillment because we know we are right where we are supposed to be.  Today wasn’t a “nothing day” afterall.  Noses got wiped and celery was sliced and tummies were tickled.  These things are all related to my values of investing in my children, caring for our bodies, and keeping order in my home.

I have found that much of the stress and discouragement of my life come when I feel what I am doing is not working toward what I think is important. When I clarify my life values and put my actions in line with them, I feel so much more peaceful, content, and good about myself and the direction my family is heading.

And it frees me from guilt when I have to say no to events.  It helps me choose to the best over just the good or better.  Back to having your value list in an order from greatest to least… Lizzie, this is important because, when a scheduling issue causes values to collide, you can make the right choice.  For example, if one of your values is The Church and you are asked to join a woman’s Bible study, you think might first think, “Oh wow that fits in with my value!  And in my goals!  Yes!”  But in this situation it will conflict with your child’s naptime and make the entire rest of the day a disaster or maybe it conflicts with the only evening your husband is home and has set aside free time to be with you.  In that case, remember how your children and husband are higher on the list.  But if it conflicts with a cake decorating class you were thinking of attending (under your “learning value), that value isn’t as high on the list.  So perhaps the Bible study is the best choice at this season of your life.  Or maybe you are already in 4 Bible studies and you are accomplishing your church value already and should be focusing on your learning value.  Or perhaps you can push the cake decorating class to a different day?  Just things to contemplate as you get down to the actual organizing of your calendar.

I know this probably sounds complicated.  But really it becomes a part of you.  When you are filling in what will be on your calendar you aren’t freezing up and saying, “Oh wow this is value 4 and I’m not sure if I am focusing enough on value 3! Panic!”  It isn’t like that.  It just becomes a general way of viewing how your use live your life and invest in that which is most important to you instead of feeling you are spending your time without really accomplishing what is of most value to you.

One other thing.  Your values may look different than your husband’s.  It is important to together talk through each other’s.  And, as much as possible, work your values around each other’s.  Meaning, if one of yours is Organization, make sure the other one also honors that by keeping organized and fostering that in your children (not in a stressed out way, but just doing your best to not be a mess).  If one of yours is The Arts, make a point of going to The Sleeping Beauty downtown even if you might not have naturally chosen that.  And I also want to mention here that it is important for you to, periodically, on your own/someday when you are married to do so both alone and with your husband, revisit your values/goals/steps.  Spend adequate time every few months to take a good solid look at these and re-orient yourselves if you are getting off focus.  You know how we periodically go out of town and you get your special vacations with Poppi and Nana?  While we are there one of the main things we do is re-focus on our values/goals/steps personally and as a family.  Also, daily (the night before or the morning of – I plan the night before and Daddy plans the morning of) organize your plans for what you want to accomplish the next day.

Oh and also.  Something great about this.  It gives you freedom to know you are “done.”  I’ll explain.  For this month my teaching goals for Nicky and you (you mainly just listen) are Westminster Catechism question 15 and 16.  And the hymns you are learning are,  “O Worship the King” and the “Gloria Patri.”  Nicky is learning his number flashcards 2s.  etc.  When  have these goals in mind, I’m not stressed that maybe I’m not teaching my children enough.  And I’m not tempted to try to be super teacher and make my children learn until they are burned out.  I stick with my goals and once we’ve worked on them for the day, that’s it.  I know I’m done with that part of the day.  And it gives me direction if I decide to suspend our normal learning (or normal any activity in our lives) for a certain time period (we are sick, moving, family is in town, etc.)  I know that we are on a certain path and its OK that I have decided to take a break (instead of me feeling like things are out of control and feeling guilty I’m not keeping up with something).  I know where we were at and will get back to it when the time is right.

OK.  Next let’s next start talking about your DAILY TO-DO LIST.

Household managing, buying things, ordering things, scheduling things, responding to things, cleaning things, saving one of you from the latest exciting idea you have that might end you up in the ER….  This list can feel like it never ends.

And I will stop here for a second to say I make a daily to-do list.  But then I also have a monthly to-do list of larger projects.  And I’m able to slowly move those off of that into my daily list.  But I don’t try to accomplish 700 things each day.  I once heard someone say about 6 things on her list works for her.  And that’s really about what I can accomplish besides just the normal feeding and watering and care of you and the boys.  And my 6 are pretty small (otherwise I notice I am not as on top of caring for my family).  Make 1 phone call.  Mail a check.  Research a sunscreen you can use with your allergies.  Update Amazon Subscribe and Save.  Spend a certain amount of minutes responding to e-mail (and if I don’t get all my emails responding to I just wait until the following day to finish… which might frustrate people but I’ve found its the way I keep our home the main focus and don’t get off track).  And if it is a day I happen to be able attempt one of those larger projects from my monthly list, that’s great.  But a lot of times it isn’t.

So we need a to-do list.  And when we look at the to dos. Here’s the deal.  First of all, remember that all of these to dos need to be in line with our major life values and goals.  If they aren’t, they shouldn’t be there.  And maybe, after you’ve gone through your values you will realize that some of those things that you have been doing or have been feeling guilt you aren’t doing, aren’t in your values list.  You can stop doing them!   Example… awhile ago some of my friends were part of a huge children’s consignment sale.  And it sounded great and I could have made some money and bought clothes cheaper.  But when I looked at the time involved (and that I hate big crowds) I realized that wasn’t the best for me.  It was the best for them maybe, but not for me (garage sales are more my thing or finding gorgeous clothes from expensive children’s stores during their 80% off clearance online).  So this is why I took a long time to explain the values and goals and steps.  There are some ways I specifically approach my to-do lists.  Maybe they will be helpful to you.  Plus I wanted to explain to you about having an overall life mission statement which some people write before they write their values but it helped me to think through my values first.  Also a family mission statement.   But I can hear you awake now and its time for your day to begin.

Until later then,  ~ Mommy.

The Golden 2 Hours

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In photography there is something called the “golden hour” which is one of the most beautiful times to take pictures.  Recently Grandpa Allen and I took portraits of our family during this golden hour.

I tell Daddy that our family also has a golden hour.  Actually it is two golden hours which are the first two hours after you wake up in the morning.  That’s when we seem to accomplish the most.  I remember my Greek professor used to tell us students to study Greek first thing in the morning for our brain works best then.  I’ve found that’s the same in your life.  The first to hours of our day are so important.  We try to not schedule anything first thing in the morning so that we can really take advantage of these hours.  This is when we have breakfast, do our Bible time (hymn, Bible story, Westminster Catechism), and then do school.  (“School” for you is putting stickers on workbooks or coloring or playing with our bear math counters as you listen to Nicky working on things such as numbers).  After that we move on to whatever else is planned for the day (playing, going to a church event, etc).

Having already accomplished the most important first thing in the morning is helpful if the rest of the day then goes a bit haywire. (Such as the other day when Daddy called us late morning and said, “If Nicky wants to see the excavator running, come now” and we all ran around swiftly…the exciting thought of seeing an excavator makes everyone get ready very quickly…and that was just such an thrilling event that we never seemed to quite get back to normal the rest of the day.  But since we had already accomplished a lot earlier that morning, we weren’t too worried about it.

I’ve also found, as the Mommy, if I am up before you all I am in significant more control of the day.  It makes a major difference to be already up and dressed and have read my Bible and done a load of laundry or whatever and had COFFEE.  I ALWAYS regret when I allow myself to sleep in and find myself waking up when I hear little voices on the monitor.  So in a nutshell…. make use of the golden hours of your morning.  Accomplish what takes most brain power and what is most important to you.  And, when you are a mommy, discipline yourself to go to bed early enough the night before (so that you have enough rest) and you can get up before your children.

Just a tip for you to remember in 20 or 30 years.

To My BeautyBea on Valentine’s Day

This is a long post.  Probably breaking all rules of the appropriate length for a blog.  But today I just had a lot to tell Lizzie so it is what it is 🙂

Tomorrow is “love day” as your brother calls it. And on love day I want to tell you some wonderful things about you.

Someday in the future we’ll probably discuss other things on Valentine’s Day…. about looking forward to marriage. About you hoping a guy will take interest in you.  About handling rejection.   About knowing Christ as your hope in singleness.   About loving the Lord and your husband well in marriage.  Those are heavy topics and we will look them squarely in the face and ask God for His eyes to see His hand on these things in your life… and we will take joy in all the happinesses associated with this part of being a lady.  Likewise we will ask Him for help in the heartache – to bravely and wisely go forward with hope even when it is confusing or profoundly painful.

However, today I want to talk about the foundational core of who you are on Valentine’s Day and every day. Know that it is one thing for me to just rattle off what I am going to tell you as a positive sounding list.  It is one thing for you to be able to parrot these truths back to me.  I imagine most Christians would mentally affirm these things.  Yet it is an entirely different ballgame for you to truly allow them to penetrate the heartbeat of your soul… that is not easy, not easy at all.  But it is worth the fight to let these into your deepest heart. It is very few women that truly live these as real to them. I hope you will be one of these women that come to know these as the foundation of who you are.  They will become a song out of which your entire life learns to sing.  This is one of my strongest prayers for you.

In explaining these things, let’s start with a fairy tale (you know by now that, if I try to explain anything, I love to run to fairy tales if there is even the slightest ability to somehow connect them with what we’re talking about ha!).   But this fairy tale is actually the loveliest of them all.  This is actually the original fairy tale; the one fairy tale that is completely true and is written about in God’s book.

The super exciting thing is that YOU are a member of this grandest of all fairy tales, Sweet BeautyBea! As you grow I want to help make this fairy tale alive to you.  I won’t re-write here what I wrote about this many years before you were born as I sat in the truck while waiting for Daddy as he visited a work project.  (You can find it on this link:  http://kindredgrace.com/why-i-believe-in-fairy-tales ) But just to sum it up, YOU, as Jesus’ radiant bride, are that princess.  Princess Lizzie.  And as His princess, these are true about you:

YOU ARE LOVED

You are loved, Lizzie. We love you because you belong to us and nothing can fracture our love for you.  And we know that our love for you is only tiny reflection of the vastness of your Heavenly Father’s love for you.  God loves you because you belong to Him and He has set His love upon YOU (Deuteronomy 7).  Nothing can separate you from God’s love.  Not height nor depth.  Not death nor life.   Remember Romans 8:38-39  Nothing.  Not what someone says about you.  Not what someone does.  NOTHING.  Daddy and Mommy want you to know this on Love Day and on every day of the year.  We want you to REALLY KNOW it.  We pray our hearts out that Jesus would help us show this to you well and that, in His timing, the Lord would make this come alive to you and etch it so deeply into your heart that nothing will ever shake it.

YOU ARE OF GREAT WORTH

If I were completely honest with myself I would have to say that often my mind and heart are tainted with believing that my worth or worthiness to be loved is because of what I can do or if I achieve. Naughty people in the past have told me as such.  I have listened to guys say mean things about me even when I shouldn’t have been looking to them for my worth.  Sometimes even people that loved me were saying things that weren’t true.  But you know where I think I most get this tendency?  It came with the fall – the spiritual fall when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve.  It is just lurking deep inside my heart and everyone’s heart as we face the reality of our neediness for a Savior.  We feel we need to “do” for God to love us (and from this faulty view can come the sproutings of seeking self worth from how others view us).  We have to fight to remember that our worth and our standing as Christ’s child is not about what we do.  Jesus accomplished all the “doing” when He died on the cross.  You and I are now heirs of all of Christ’s righteousness.  Now God sees us through Jesus’ purity and greatness.  Think on that.  God cannot not see you through Christ, His Son of holiness, majesty, and splendor.  But still, you might say, doesn’t this mean somehow I really better do something amazing for God so I don’t let him down?  No.  Your chief end in life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.  It is not to try to still find something to do to show yourself worthy of God’s gift of His Son.  God didn’t love you & choose you before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1) because He expected you to do something super smart or super amazing.  He chose you just because He loves you and He wanted you as His treasured lady through whom to display the riches of His love and the grandness of His glory.  In the Bible God tells the Israelites weren’t chosen because of anything they had done.  They were not a people incredibly mighty or magnificent (Deuteronomy 7).  Yet God chose them because He loved them.  And in His choosing of us to display His glory and love, we find our sure and solid worth.

YOU ARE CHERISHED

As ladies we have a deep desire to be cherished. When I was younger I wondered if I was “cherish worthy.”  I wanted so much to be cherished for who I was, for someone to say, “Wow you are so precious, Kathryn!  I cherish everything about you!”  But that seemed like a fairy tale.  Would someone actually for real take delight in taking care of me especially when they really knew me in all my faults?  I had this desperate soul hope that I might be seen by someone as a little golden tiara full of precious diamonds that a king would handle with utmost care.  How amazing it was for me to find that actually the Bible tells me that’s how God views me and that’s how He views you!  Isaiah 62:3 tells us we are a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.  But still I struggled.  Even though I knew God cherished me in that way since I knew the Bible didn’t lie, I still thought at times that, since no guy saw me like that, maybe I wasn’t  genuinely  worth being cherished.  I had to accept that, what God says about me, is the bottom line because that’s the authority.  God is our creator and the creator of all things.  What God says rules.  He says He cherishes you and me and that’s that. Regardless if you feel cherished by another person, you are a cherished woman because you are cherished by the truest Lover of your soul.  And if that doesn’t seem to be filling you with joy and confidence, start preaching that reality into your heart daily and ask God for strength to take hold of His grace and walk in that truth.  Plus, learn to be mindful of the ways God is daily demonstrating to you how much He cares for you.  His faithfulness is astounding if you just step back and reflect on how many ways He has shown His lovingkindness toward you, His daughter. When Daddy first took me out, he did things such as open the door for me and buy me earrings (and that hasn’t stopped – I hope God brings you a guy as much of a gentleman as Daddy). Once when I was staying at Nana and Poppi’s house he drove over and brought me a donut and coffee in the morning, my favorite kind even!   I was shocked.  I knew he was doing this because he really enjoyed cherishing me.  It pretty much rattled my whole world in the most delightful way.  He still does these kind things for me.  He brought me coffee in my special pink heart mug the other day when I was having a hard time waking up.  I feel so cherished by him.  But I have to remember that, regardless if God had sent me a man to show me such affection and treat me like a princess, God would still cherish me just as much.  And I remember, if Daddy is only a human and so an imperfect reflection of the Heavenly marriage analogy, how much greater does the God of the universe cherish me.  I hope that, someday, a man cherishes you like this.  In the meantime, delight in being cherished by Jesus.  One way to remind yourself how much the Lord cherishes you, is to start writing down verses you find in Scripture that talk about God’s love for you.  I think you will find it astounding how much is in the Bible about how precious you are to Him.

YOU ARE PURSUED

When I was growing up I wondered what it would be like to be pursued by a guy.  I could hardly wait!  I loved Anne of Green Gables and I wondered if there might really be a beautiful story like that (well, different characters and a different time period and a different place…. but that beautiful idea anyway lol!) for me.  And then it happened on a snowy day in Washington, DC when I was leaving church and walking in the falling snow and a guy ran out the door and called out my name and asked to walk me home.  There was something magical about that moment.  Although that engagement eventually broke when the guy needed to get some things in his life straightened out, I thought about that moment for many years.  Not because I missed that specific guy (I was grateful I was not married to him).  But because I wondered if I really was worthy of pursuit.  I would look in the mirror and wonder if there was anything about me that was worth pursuing.  Why had no one found me to be worthy of pursuit?  When I looked in the mirror I sometimes saw such a sad lonely heart staring back at me.  I knew that wasn’t healthy but it took a lot of discipline to, yes be honest with my emotions and allow God to hold me as I hurt, but also choose even if my emotions didn’t immediately follow, to place my hope in Christ the One who pursued me as His bride  (Isaiah 62). You know during all that time of despair and struggle that God had such an amazing plan!  He was saying, “Yes you are worthy of pursuit!  Don’t you know how much I have delighted in pursuing your heart as my precious bride?   And I’m waiting until the perfect timing to send Nicholas/Daddy to you.  You will be blown away by what an amazing guy I am going to send you.  But, in the meantime, I want you to find peace in me as the One who ultimately has pursued you.”  Lizzie, you have been pursued by the King of Kings the greatest lover of your soul, as His treasured bride.  Find security in knowing joyful truth!

YOU ARE CHOSEN

Lizzie, before the foundations of the world you were chosen (Ephesians 1). When Christ died on the cross He gave His blood for you.  In this great act He showcased His glory and proclaimed His love to YOU, Lizzie.  As God shows forth His glory, His love for His people is a theme that radiates through the Bible so profoundly.  And you, as His covenant child, we believe are one of His people.  We believe that the Lord will draw you to Himself and that you will one day understand and choose to be God’s friend by asking Jesus to be your Savior.  Until then we seek to teach you this true Heavenly Fairytale and one way we do that is by seeking to tangibly display His love to you.

You will someday know my story. You will know that I was engaged a few times and, each time for different reasons (that at the time seemed so out of the blue and hurtful, but now I see it was God’s sovereign hand of kind protection), the guy broke it off.   And you will know that I questioned who I was, especially as people would exclaim or whisper, “Isn’t that interesting that the similar factor in all of her broken engagements is her.”  And you will hear me tell you that my soul crushed in a thousand pieces when people would say that.  And the shame I felt.  One time I just sat and cried on the floor in the dark for a long time.  I couldn’t bear to have the light on as if somehow that would hide my shame even from God.  But I remember at a certain moment I knew I had cried enough. I turned on the light and looked in the mirror and I felt as if I should put on a little old tiara I had.  And I wouldn’t allow myself to go to bed that night until I could look in the mirror as I wore that tiara and say out loud and finally believe it, “God you love me.  You have chosen me even if I feel so unchoosable and have been rejected by earthly guys.  I know I am chosen by you and I am your princess.”  And you will hear me tell you about the night a few years later that I cried while in NYC at a conference (which was all about being Christ’s princess).  I sat there and realized I had forgotten that God did have a fairy tale story for me regardless if any earthly guy would ever see me as his chosen one.  Even though my soul felt barren, God had indeed chosen me (Isaian 54) and I was His treasure. And you will hear also how, at the exact same minute 1500 miles away, Daddy was writing a letter which brought about our marriage exactly a year and a day later.

You are chosen, Lizzie, by God and you are the princess in the true tale of the Prince redeeming His bride. No matter what you face in life, know you are His.

YOU ARE ACCEPTED

This ties in with our points above. But I wanted to make double sure you know that you are accepted by the Lord.  You may feel as if you don’t know where you will ever belong.  Others may not allow you into their circles.  You may be scoffed at or mocked or ignored.  But the Lord has accepted you.  He loves you just as you are even while He is continually sanctifying you to carve His character more deeply into your life.  He has designed your personality in His perfect way.  He really delights in the way your mind works and the ways you use your gifts.  And He invites you to fellowship with Him.  Anytime you can sit at Christ’s feet and know He just loves you as His friend.  Did you know He actually calls you His friend?  (John 15)  He calls Himself our husband (Isaiah 54).  But he also calls Himself our friend and He is glad you are His friend.

YOU ARE DELIGHTED IN

This also ties in a bit with the thoughts about. But did you know that you are delighted in?  I used to look upon God’s love as “well He sent Jesus to die for me so I guess He had to love me” but I didn’t understand how much that love was a love of delight.  Scripture says He delights in us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).  Can you imagine?  He sings over you, Lizzie!  He really delights in you His precious little flower, His precious little treasure of such worth and beauty.  Along these lines, know that you are liked.  You are really liked.  Sometimes love and like can mean different things.  Someone might say they love someone but don’t like them.  But know that the Lord really likes YOU, His special LizzieBea!  You are wonderfully and marvelously made and have brought great joy to the Lord by being you.  And know that we (Daddy and Mommy) like YOU.  We really like you our LizzieBea.  Your singing, your smile, the way you say cheerily, ” thank you Mama!”  Your desire to go potty like a big girl, how nicely you play with Nicky, and how, on your own initiative yesterday, you got out toy baby food and a spoon and went to sit next to Eddie and tried to help by “feeding him” imaginary food when he was hungry.   We like how you jump right into an activity with such gusto after you have taken quite some time on the sidelines contemplating it.  It gives our hearts such joy when you say, “I love you” and give hugs.  We delight in your pretty curls and long eyelashes, your great smile, and your desire to dress in your fancy clothes and shoes that have the squeaker in them so that you can squeak as you walk.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL

God sees you as beautiful. Remember, you are his beautiful diadem.  You are altogether lovely to Him, Lizzie.  The Lord speaks of how His children are like a radiant bride decked in beautiful clothing.  He very clearly speaks about us in terms of the beauty He delights in bestowing upon us.  Isaiah 61 is one place we read about this. Someday we will talk much about how our lasting beauty is what is inside our hearts.  That’s really important.  I thought a lot about that when I was recovering from being hit by a drunk driver and my face was scared.  I think that society has taken a good turn lately and tried to help girls know that a lot of what we see in ads is not reality.   It is photoshopped, which is a big fancy word we will talk about later.  But that’s for another discussion.  There is a healthy balance of knowing our ultimate beauty is internal but also being secure with knowing that, as women, we were made with a desire to be seen as beautiful outwardly as well.  And that is OK to desire to be outwardly beautiful.  That is good.  We want you to twirl around in your pretty dress and look to Daddy to see his delight in how lovely his daughter is becoming.  We want you to enjoy learning about makeup and hair and clothes that fit your body shape.  We want you to love shoes and Mommy’s “pretties” (my jewelry).  We want you to one day find such happiness when a man sees you as his beautiful bride.  It is written into the soul of a woman to want to be beautiful, love beauty, and desire to adorn herself with beauty.  We’ll talk more on that later because there is a lot to unpack in that and we need to guide you in a healthy understanding of what that all means.  But just for now know that we applaud your desire to put on mommy’s shoes and pretend the cocoa butter is makeup to make your lips pretty (when I get it out for you… not when you sneak it… seriously we must put an end to the sneaking). So today I just want to end by telling you that you are beautiful inside.  Your kind heart.  Your joy.  Your creativity.  Your willingness to be my helper.  Your determination.   And you are beautiful outwardly.  We love your pretty long eyelashes.  We love your happy wiggly toes.  We love how you have this amazing brown curly hair (we have no idea from where you inherited curly hair!)  We love your smile and your sparkling eyes.  We think you are so beautiful.  Sometimes I wonder how you will look as an adult.  I think maybe you will look like my very pretty friend Rebekah Lovelace or maybe like actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.  I tell Daddy how I think you are so pretty and the most beautiful little lady ever.  And Daddy thinks so, too.

Lizziebea, You are loved. You are worthy.  You are cherished.  You are pursued. You are chosen.  You are accepted.  You are delighted in.  You are beautiful.  These things will always be true of you and nothing can change that fact.

We are so proud of you Lizzie and wish you the happiest of Valentine’s Days today while you are 2 years old and I hear you right now giggling with glee while you play Thomas the Train with your brother. And the happiest of Valentine’s Days every year in the future.

Love,

Mommy

 

The Story of Your Name

In our family everyone has a song.  Nicky and I wrote your song before you were born as we drove around town on our adventures (Mommy actually wrote it as Nicky sang lalalalalayayayayalalalalayayaya and probably added in TanTan every so often which was his word for Santa who came up continually in conversations during that time period).  You’ve heard your song since before you were born and we still love to sing it to you at nightnight time.

Little girl, Our lovely lady.  Daddy’s princess, Mama’s joy.  A radiant crown in God’s hands.  Beautiful we cherish you.  Elizabeth, consecrated one.  Belongs to God and lives for Him.  Elizabeth God delights in you.  Daddy’s princess, Mama’s joy.

When we found out we were having a baby girl, I thought of Isaiah 62:3, “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.”  We knew you were our little beautiful crown in our family and God’s crown of incredible worth to Him.  He delights in you and calls you His great treasure just as a king would value his crown that is such a part of him and a reflection of his glory.

Daddy chose your name (we had a list of possibilities on the refrigerator and just couldn’t decide.  One day Daddy came home from work and stated, “You know.  I’ve been thinking about the list.  I like Elizabeth because I think it would look classy engraved on Crane’s stationary.”  And so that’s how you became Elizabeth!  Incase you were curious about your other name options, they were Natalia, Christiana, Claire, and Tatiana).

I love Elizabeth because it means “consecrated to God.”  We have entrusted you to God and know that He has consecrated you, as His covenant child, for His great purposes, glory, and joy.  And that makes us excited about the great work the Lord will do in your life as you grow to know Him and love Him.  Already at breakfast when Nicky and I work through the children’s Westminster Catechism each morning you like to answer the first question (Who made you?)  You yell out “God!” with such glee.  I look forward to when you begin to understand the depth of the truths of the catechism.

Your middle name is my name (again Daddy picked that out).  It means pure one.  We pray you will pursue a life of purity – a devotion to Christ and His ways as you meditate on that which is good and lovely.  We pray you will be a woman of noble and pure heart and that would make you a strong and refreshing light of grace to others around you.

Actually you have two middle names.  The last is Carol.  We wavered back and forth about adding that in.  Daddy was afraid your name might be too long.  But we liked that by adding Carol we would be carrying that name into the fourth generation.  Carol means “Song of Joy” and we love to hear you singing these days.  Already we see a joyful little heart welling up in you and we trust that the Lord will build within you a life that is a song of joy reflecting gratefulness in God’s greatness toward you.

And the Bea part?  Well that’s all Nicky.  He started calling you Bea when you were born.  And you have been our Bea, our little BeautyBea, ever since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little LizzieBea Needs a Blog

“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”  Psalm 145:4

These days it seems that every mommy has a blog.  We’re the mommyblog generation.  I’ve hesitated a long time to start one because I really don’t think the world needs another blog.  No one has time to read another blog.  Why would anyone care to read my blog?  And I don’t have time to write a blog (I’ve already been interrupted 3 times in 6 sentences – fixing shoes, oohing and ahhing about sticks found in the backyard, and passing out chocolate chips to little hands… so much for sending my children out to play so that I could write).

When I think of the blog world… its overloaded… blogs about crafts and cooking and child-training and confessions about failures as parents and and and.  No need for more of those.  Plus that’s not what I’d be good at blogging about anyway because that’s not me.  I don’t want to be the woman in Christmas in Connecticut who sits in her NY apartment typing about a pretend world where she is the domestic diva caring for her farm animals and cooking pies for her family.

This is the way I and the littles attempt crafts… the MOPS Valentines party was this morning and for Valentine boxes we dumped out K-cup boxes and taped construction paper on them and slapped on some stickers and neon straws.  “Beautiful work.”  “So creative.”  “Yes do add a drawing of Paul Bunyan’s axe.”  Done.  And I watch other women in my church who are gifted artists (like Heather from MOPS) and I’m truly impressed.  But that’s not my skill set currently and that’s OK.  So this blog is not about creative projects to do with you children.

And I’m not an amazing baker such as my sister-in-laws.  I buy cakes from my sister-in-law when I want my family to have a good cake.  And that’s OK.  So this blog is not about that.

And I don’t claim to be an expert on childtraining.  Was it OK that this morning my 4 yr old son ended up bringing a backpack along with four favorite shirts inside (the ones with trucks and boats insignias on them that make him feel like a manly man, particularly the one that has blue and orange so that he can pretend he is working at Home Depot and Lowes at the exact same time) and several different times during the Valentine party disappeared into the nursery bathroom and came out wearing a different shirt?  I don’t think it was particularly a parenting fail or win or any deep psychological anything.  And if someone has strong views I’ll listen to them but I’m not going to let it concern me because I know my child and he was just excited about shirts today.

I actually do have strong views on childtraining and really my husband and I are extraordinarily intentional in this area.  But this generation of mommys need to stop finding our parenting philosophies from other bloggers.  Run back to the Bible, find wisdom from your pastoral leadership and wise older women in your church, find your approval in Jesus.  And be confident that God gives you wisdom to be the exact parent you need to be for your child.  So this blog isn’t about that.

And regarding the confessions about parenting failures… I’m genuinely concerned about the current push (a reaction to the perfect Pinterest world?) to broadcast our “failures” as some sort of encouragement to other moms so that we all can feel better about ourselves.  Applauding failure isn’t good.   Authentic is good.  Humilty is good.  Openness is good.  Posting a picture of your house and there happens to be toys out of place in the background… sure!  That’s reality.  Don’t be fake.  But applauding failure just for failure’s sake so that we can feel better our own messy house or dirty car or losing our patience… that’s not cool.  Isn’t it better to glory in Christ’s greatness inspite of our failures, and encourage each other to continue to strive toward what reflects His glory?  Isn’t it better to say, “Yes the dishes are piling in the sink at my house.  But I’m going to keep striving toward order.  I will keep washing them.  Again and again and again and keep fighting to bring a tiny bit of order into this world even when it seems endless and I struggle a lot with keeping things organized while also being a mom of tinies?  I won’t grow discouraged and give up.”  Isn’t that having a more proper understanding of grace and purposefulness?  And there is a fine line here and people have become very offended at me in the past when I have mentioned this.  So to clarify.  I mean the difference between glorying in our mess because we think that’s the way we finally find security in who we are vs. glorying in Christ’s greatness.

So why, last night while drying my hair, did I finally decide that I would blog/attempt to blog?  Well back to how the world doesn’t need another blog.  It doesn’t.  But I have a tiny 2 year old lady now sitting next to me (playing outside got old very quickly) asking me to bite the skin off of her little apples from chick-fil-a (which I’m not supposed to eat these first two weeks of my husband’s and my yeast-free diet… but I’m willing to sacrifice for the team).  And she needs it.  She needs her mommy to write these words for her.  I believe it is God’s calling to parents to proclaim His praises and His character and His acts to their children.  There is so much I want to teach her.  Who God is, her identity in Christ (and the security and joy that comes from understanding those two things hand-in-hand), a strong theology that undergirds all of life, a healthy philosophy, understanding a well disciplined life, etc. etc.  And as I write to her I do not say that I have achieved any of this.  But I encourage her, as I do, to continue to strive toward the goal of knowing and loving Christ with her entire being.  And to strive to emulate the qualities we see reflected in God… such as order, patience, goodness, graciousness, love, trustworthiness.  I’ve always intended to start writing these things for her (and my sons).  But perhaps having a blog will be a tool to keep me accountable to actually do so.

I imagine, knowing my personality and my hopes for what I desire to tell Lizzie, most of these blog posts will be on spiritual things.  However, lately I’ve been thinking much about organization so I may start with some topics regarding that.

~ Kathryn