Monday, April 3, 2017

Here comes THAT FAMILY

There are a lot of times when Im packing ALL of my kids up to go to a weekend of basketball or baseball and I think, whyyyyyyyy?!?! Why am I doing this?


It makes me giggle because sometimes I forget we are quite the circus. Im so used to the chaos and constant chatter that I can't even hear it. (Kdog doesn't do quite as well at this. ha).

This is how I envision us walking up in to a basketball or baseball tournament for the ENTIRE day:




We tend to take up a lot of room. And sometimes my little kids get whiney towards the end. But, Kdog and I decided it was worth all the inconvenience because of a few things that we have experienced in our lives as children and as young adults.

We are THAT family. The one who loads up all the litter and drags them across the valley.

We are THAT family who has dinner together on Friday nights and drags the entire crew to catch the last hour of baseball practice in the batting cages.

We are THAT family who actually likes each other.

Time is precious.

Unfortunately, when Kdog was 12 he lost his Father to colon cancer. When you go through something like that and then have your own children you really realize how time is precious. Tomorrow is never promised and while we have the opportunity to be together we are going to do it. Even if it's hard and inconvenient.

SO many times we've looked at each other in the car on the way home from a long day of sports and just smile (but a lot of times we look at each other and mouth cuss words). Our saying is "at least we were together!" (and sometimes that looks like Kdog yelling at our youngest to get out of the dugout and me chasing 1,436 pages from a coloring book across center field that our daughter decided to throw into the wind). But, hey...we were together!

For our family, being together is one sure way to help us stay together.

I know it may seem odd but Kdog and I actually like each other. We choose to spend time together whenever we can. He's totally hilarious and goofy. He's intense and loud. He's caring and selfless. And that's something I will never take for granted. But I also know we have to work at our marriage every single day. Because raising kids is HARD and DISTRACTING. Sometimes we find ourselves slipping in to a rut and routine that isn't where we want to be. So, we slap each other and get back on track (hahaaa, just kidding. I just slap him.).

This article below is such a great reminder to focus on the NOW and to cherish and build your relationships with the people you love. Kdog sent this to me this morning and I thought, how appropriate!!!


http://johnolearyinspires.com/2017/04/the-opposite-of-wishing/?utm_source=Rising+Above+-+Master+List+-+2015&utm_campaign=4f5f1c43aa-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_02_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_35d021a895-4f5f1c43aa-28627093


Spending time together as a family helps us keep our bond strong. It's so easy to run around in our own circles and wave to each other as we walk in and out of the door. Believe me, we have had to divide and conquer. Its a new skill we have acquired this past year with three playing on teams (and eventually a fourth! Thank you to my village, in advance, for all of your help.). We go in so many opposite directions during the week that it makes me dizzy. For our family, we can't go in so many opposite directions on the weekend too. It's a sure way to distance ourselves from one another even more.

Our promise to one another is that we are going to protect our marriage during this crazy, running around, busy, kid raising season.

Because it is a SEASON.

And, heck, when this season is over I still want to know who my husband is and get to enjoy him immediately!! I don't want to have to spend years finding out who he is and wondering if I even still like him. It happens all the time. (personally speaking, my own parents, so I do know first hand how hard it can be!).

And for us, this means being together on the weekends and at all day tournaments supporting our kids and dragging the entire litter along even when it seems absurd to everyone else. 

Our kids are with us for such a short time. And the amount of time I spend with them matter to me. I refuse to get sucked into becoming my children but I'm sure as heck going to show them that they are worthy of my time. Modeling this to my kids is important to me. I want them to know they are worth the struggle. And by golly...it's a freaking struggle sometimes.

I mean, don't you enjoy taking your four year old poop in a port-a-john at baseball games?!?

Having kids is certainly going to make you learn about sacrifice and compromise.

But, we've decided it doesn't have to make us sacrifice and compromise our marriage in the process.

To all of the families out there who are just trying not to completely go bonkers and keep your family unit a float...

I FEEL YOU.  And I also applaud you!!

This isn't something that a lot of people talk about. But it is a HUGE struggle for so many families.

There are so many families out there who have one parent that takes on most of the load. And I want you to know, that if that is you, your effort and consistency is instilling great things in your children.

I naively knew how hard it would be to raise a family and keep my marriage a priority.

I knew it would be hard. But I had no idea it would be THIS HARD.

You don't quite realize how complicated it is and how society as a whole doesn't quite understand families who prioritize their relationship ABOVE ALL ELSE.

We are all encouraged to enroll our kids in this and in that, more sports, more classes, more opportunities, more more more.

But what are we really doing?

What are all these activities really doing to better our kids and ourselves?

I just don't know.

Ok, yes, I do know.

Most of these activities are actually awesome. And they teach our kids self discipline, character building, how to have relationships with others, etc...

So don't get me wrong.

Activities are good!!

But we've had to really draw the line in the sand to say, ok, this amount is ENOUGH. And sometimes our kids are going to get backlash or less playing time. (Statistically the odds of one of my kids excelling in a sport outside of high school is pretty low. Sorry, kids! Genetically you are destined for mediocrity.).

But I hope and pray that in the end, when my kids are grown, that they can look back and realize their parents made family a priority and felt like they were worth more than an activity to run them to.

What can we really take with us when we die? Trophies? Social status? Job Title?

None of it matters in the end.

Except our relationship with The Lord.

Teaching my kids to love the Lord, their family and friends, and then themselves are my main goals.




                                             




The harsh reality in my life that nags me daily is that my kids will model my example. I can fill them up with all kinds of words. My advice means nothing if I don't follow it up with living it out in my own life.

If my life behind closed doors doesn't match up to the show I put on for other people then why on earth would they listen to my advice anyway?

SO, I'll continue to load everyone up, pack a zillion snacks, coloring sheets, and say a sweet prayer that I don't lose my mind too awfully badly (because I WILL lose my mind a little. And if you say you don't lose your mind on your kids, ever, then you are a liar.).

It will be worth it.

IT IS WORTH IT.

Making my family and marriage a priority is worth the struggle.

The advice I give my kids today surely should be visible to their little eyes tomorrow as they watch me living this crazy, chaotic, amazing life.










Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Best Mom Day of All

The world will tell you that the best days of your life will involve weddings and graduations and births and maybe even that day that your last offspring finally moves out of your house after returning twice. Those days are wonderful and important and life changing, but there is only one day that is the best day.

Today, both of my children shouted to the world that they choose to follow Jesus!!

Today was the best day.


When each of them was born, but even more so with Evan being my first, I remember looking at their tiny hands and feet. I sat in awe of the way that I could cradle their little heads in my hand so easily and I didn't really know how to protect them. I wasn't sure how to keep bad things from happening to them but to let them live life at the same time.

It's a terrible problem to have, but it's the same overwhelming feeling that any new parent feels. Especially mothers. For 40 weeks or so, you can carry them with you as they grow and develop. You know where they are, that they're fed, and that nobody is hurting them. 

But Jesus never promised us a life without troubles. What He did, though, is something amazing that surpasses all struggles, all fears, all hurts, all wrongs, all sins. ALL OF THEM.

Jesus Christ died on a blood stained cross to save us ALL. My babies, included. And they know. THEY KNOW! And today, they BELIEVE and have JOYFULLY told the world that they know that when they leave this earth - they will live forever in Heaven with Him.

That is protection, my friend. There is no greater.

That is what I was searching for eight years ago. That is how I know everything with be ok. These two sweet souls have just begun to explore the world. They have met some of the typical happinesses and challenges of childhood but they have no idea yet what God has in store for them. Undoubtedly, their hearts will break for many things, for many situations, and for many people in the years to come. Mine with break over and over along with theirs, I am sure. But we will all have the ultimate comfort in knowing we have the greatest love of all in Jesus Christ!

Understand that their will be no perfect in this house. Just as I still don't always get it right after 30+ years of being a Christian myself, they will not. Our lives will still be messy. But even on the worst of days, we ALL have something to hold us up. There will be more love and more forgiveness and more understanding. There will be lots of do-overs.

Because...Praise Him...Jesus gave us the best do-over in the history of time! And I am forever grateful to know that death will not be the end. When my protection of my children ends, HIS BEGINS!! And there is no more fear here...because we will all be together in His Kingdom forever! Amen!






18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”                                          
 ~Matthew 28:18-20

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Presently speaking.


The little people that run around my house on a daily basis bring me so much joy. I've really tried to stop and enjoy these little people all. summer. long.

I'm really trying to just live in the now. We know tomorrow isn't guaranteed. And, I want my kids to look back on their childhood and have a mixture of memories filled with laughter, discipline, structure, and FUN. 

“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. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”
Psalm 127:3-5 ESV

I want my kids to feel like they are a blessing to me.

Every. Single. Day.

Sometimes thankfulness gets lost in all of the chaos, activities and everyday shenanigans.  

I'm claiming my joy today. 

Too many times lately I've had to regroup myself and dig back in the Word to find my joy...

Parenting small children is so exhausting. However, this is the most important structuring time in their little lives!! We are laying foundations in their little souls that they will NEVER forget. God has made a promise to us as parents...

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 ESV

That doesn't mean, like little and big sheep, that they won't ever stray. But, it means the foundation you are laying is making an impression on them FOREVER. 

Make it a glorious, God serving, exciting, loving, foundation. 

My soul is in desperation for so many people who plant degrading and demoralizing foundations in their children day after day.

Words are powerful.

Every word we speak to our children trickles down to somewhere in their soul and stays. And it starts to make a footprint of who they will turn out to be...

Are you making your child's footprint one that is glorifying to God and building self esteem? 

Children need to feel loved. They need boundaries. They need structure. They THRIVE on consistency. 

We run a tight ship in our home. But we also run a ship driven by God. And His ways are always loving and just. 

Children are a gift.

Children are not a burden.

When you feel overwhelmed and ready to explode, dig in The Word.

Before you or I say that unkind thing to our kid...

PAUSE.

PRAY.

SPEAK.

When your toddler pees his pants for the 124 time in one day...

Pause.
Pray.
Speak.


When you are so tired you can't hardly sit upright and your kids want to climb all over your lap and fight while they are jockeying for position...

Pause.
Pray.
Speak.


Our kids LOVE us. Like, really really love us. And I was reading another blog post that said, 'we will never be this loved again by our children'. And in a certain way, I agree. They really really really think we are amazing. Because of this, we need to be living our lives in a way that is worth repeating. 

Would you want your kids to live their lives and raise their kids the way you have parented them?

I'm sure there are many instances where I can say no to this, myself! But I pray that in the grand scheme of it all, when my kids look back on their childhood they say, 'you know, my parents weren't perfect but they certainly laid a foundation worth following.'

These little, amazing kids are mine!! God sent them specifically to me for a purpose, and I pray every day that I help them discover Whose they really are...




Hanging on

There are only a few things in life that are certain. 

1. The Lord, My God, is real.

2. When I don't write I feel like I'm going to explode.

3. Donuts and ice cream are a direct tangible blessing from Jesus Himself. 

So, basically, I need to write more consistently and that is a new goal I've set for myself as of late. 

Also, I have another mini offspring starting kindergarten in September so this is actually just a warning post about the obnoxiously emotional post that will come with the beginning of school. (Sorry. But, not really sorry because it's just what I do.)

There are some big changes happening in the Keffer house! We are moving soon in to a new house, leaving our current neighborhood, where we have so many memories! It's sad and happy all at the same time. 

I can NOT wait to hang a tire swing, plant a garden, get some chickens, and start wearing amazing hippie dresses. The house is great, but my main excitement resides in our new creek and woods to play in.

“Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.””
2 Samuel 7:29 ESV

Leaving our current house will be weird. I love my current house so much! But, like we've told our kids all along, it doesn't matter WHERE you live. All that matters is, if all of your family you love are there too. A house is only a home with love and laughter...and God plopped right down in the middle.

Our new house will be a home. 

THAT is also something that's certain.






Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I'm No Angel

Today my Instagram feed was filled with images of women in their underwear.

Not my usual smiling babies and scripture with curly typeset and lovely background images; I was taken aback. With a few clicks, I discovered that Lane Bryant has launched a new counter-campaign to promote their Cacique line of undergarments. Which I wear. Daily. I have for years upon years because they are THE best bras I've ever worn. Truth. 'I'm No Angel' is a play on Victoria's Secret Angels line. One ad touts a feisty, plus sized model lifting up her shirt to show her bra and panties and proclaiming, 'This is the new sexy! I woke up like this!'

I follow Lane Bryant because I wear their clothes faithfully. I've been a plus sized girl pretty much since the day I was born. Give or take a few of my high school years. (The fad diets worked back then.) It is difficult to find plus sized clothing that is of good quality, stylish, and affordable. LB is, and will continue to be, my wardrobe staple.

The marketing angle has an applaudable secondary focus, which is to promote positive self body image in women. As any plus size girl can tell you, we live in a body-worshiping, air brushed, warped reality of a world. Actually, any girl, plus sized or not, can probably tell you that. If you think of five women that you know, I guarantee each of them can tell you multiple things they think are 'wrong' with their bodies. I'm willing to wager that one of those five has had some form of eating disorder at some point in her life.

The I'm No Angel campaign uses other slogans such as, 'How boring would it be if we were all the same?' and 'Beauty Is Beyond Size.' I couldn't agree more with both of those statements. God created us differently and we should absolutely celebrate that. And then, there is that whole issue of inner beauty. Do you have that? Because that is far more important than anything that is on the outside.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139:14

There's just one problem, though.

Even in their sincere efforts to help women to feel better about their not-so-perfect bodies (and to sell underwear), they are still making one huge mistake. The focus here is still on the hypersexualization of the female body. Lane Bryant is still flaunting busty pictures of scantily clad ladies. So, what I take from this, is that in order to be sexy - in other words, viewed as attractive by a man - I need to walk around with my midriff and my boobs hanging halfway out? Is this really what we want to see our daughters doing?

Yes, I get that they are advertising lingerie and therefore would need to use photographs OF the lingerie. I have nothing against pretty, feminine undergarments. Lingerie has its place. But its place is just not on a giant billboard in the middle of New York City. Nor is it in daytime commercials on my tv, nor in catalogues sent to my home that my seven-year-old son might lay his sweet little eyes upon.

Wrapped packages create far greater anticipation. Haven't we always known that? Why is it that that we keep uncovering more and more? The whole thing is backwards. If you've got it, flaunt it? No! Don't share your body with just anybody. Save it for the one that matters. Think about it. You know I'm right.

Modest really is the hottest. Now, don't go burka on me here. But please, just keep the girls covered and your booty contained. Your body is a gift. Don't unwrap it until the right time.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.   ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Be Still

Sweet Sister,

Please stop. Please take a minute to be still today. I know you weren't expecting this. Your schedule is off. The day is a mess...the week may even be a mess. But I promise you that this isn't the end of the world! It just isn't! Whatever was supposed to take place this week can be planned again. And whatever you missed may have been on purpose. The Mighty One knows our every need. Our every move. Our every everything. He knows!! Maybe you missed a car accident by being stuck at home. Or maybe you experienced a first today because you were THERE!! A first step or a first funny precious little smile...a first word read...or anything...just anything.

It's still snowing. I know. And they are crying for dinner. And you didn't get a shower today. I so, so know! But these days will be gone soon. Sooner that we'd like to believe. They will be driving and going to college and finding girlfriends. And worse...boyfriends.

We will be wishing for these days back.

And we will not get them.

Father God, bless these mothers. Bless them deeply. Bless them so that they know that the work they do is not just important and necessary but INVALUABLE. Father, let them be so full of YOU that their children can feel Your presence. Let them know that what matters today is that their children are alive. They are together. They are safe. And warm. And loved.

Father, please give them strength to mop that snowy, melted mess in the foyer one more time. Give them the energy to sled down the hill again. Give them the patience to referee one more argument and turn that xbox off when the time comes. Bless them with the creativity to come up with one more thing to do before chaos ensues.

And when the chaos happens, just allow them to bask in those noisy voices that are breathing fresh air with healthy lungs. Let them be thankful for Netflix and ipads and all things that blink and need internet. Help them to make one.more.cup.of.hot.chocolate.with.extra.marshmallows.

Because we will wish for these days back.

And we will not get them.

Amen.

Seize this day! Make it good! In reality, it may not be perfect. But there will be something you can love about it! Find that. Enjoy that. Bask in that.

Because you do not know what may happen tomorrow.

"Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’” (Luke 9:62 MSG)



Who needs make-up anyway??

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Make it stay.

Make it stay.

The clinging on to Joy. You know, Not taking a moment for granted. Realizing our days are numbered and savouring each and every precious moment together.

Make this feeling of thankfulness and most indescribable family synch, stay...

With the passing of Kdog's momma, we've been emotionally & physically exhausted. There were emotions that surfaced we were unaware exisited. But, that goes to show you can never really prepare for the passing of a parent.

We've been grieving for years. Slowly over time, as you lose your loved one the FIRST time, to Alzheimer's, you begin to grieve. 

Thank goodness we are on the other side of the hill and have found JOY in pain and earthly confusion. 

But, the most amazing part of this whole experience is that this scripture has come alive in our home:

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

I keep saying to myself over and over, make it stay. Make this sense of urgency and thanksgiving and love and savouring every. Single. Moment. Stay.

It's so annoying to be human sometimes.

We get caught up in the mundane. We drown ourselves in laziness. And hop right back on that 'take it all for granted' train.

I keep finding myself deeply pondering how to make these feelings of urgency stay.

There's only a few 'good' answers for this question...

Stay connected to God's word. In His presence we find urgency. 

John Piper writes about paradoxes of Christian life:
Let me illustrate some of the paradoxes of the Christian life by simply quoting the apostle Paul. He described his own life in 2 Corinthians 6:8–10 like this:
. . . as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
This is what I mean by the paradoxes of the Christian life. Paul says he is "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." How can you be always rejoicing if you are sometimes sorrowful? There must be some kind of "sorrowful joy" and "joyful sorrow." Indeed, there is—that is one of the deep paradoxes of life for those who rest in a sovereign God and live in a sinful world.
No matter what: God is sovereign. 

John Piper goes on to dissect Ephessians 5:15-20 and has such great insight on giving thanks and being careful and vigilant...

{But let us be very careful here. It doesn't say you should dance around the coffin. It doesn't say you can't cry if you have cancer. It doesn't say there is no place for anger against injustice. But it does say, "Always be thankful for everything." And this is the word of God, not merely the word of man. If it puzzles us, if it even provokes us, we must not become cynical or rebellious.}

If you'd like to read more on this article by John Piper you can do so here:


We can't go forward focusing on what should have been or what could be...we need to be present. Always.

As I watch Kdog twirl our daughter around the kitchen and chase our toddler tornado through the dining room I focus on THESE MOMENTS. Enjoy each sweet moment and let laughter echo in your memory.

I am seriously overcome with gratitude for all the lessons I've learned over the past 12 years as we watched my mother in law's body and mind deteriorate.

 Am I sad this had to happen? Absolutely.

 But, am I thankful for the impact it has had on my relationship with The Lord? 
More thankful than I can ever express.

We can't ever go back, in this house, the way it was before 'Nanna' passed away. And I wouldn't want to...we have been blessed with the knowledge and feelings of a greater joy that can only come from God. He has allowed us to glimpse into the eternal elation that will be forever our own when we one day join our loved ones in Heaven. 

Do you know that greater joy?
Are you really living the life God has planned for you?
Can you find peace and happiness in the midst of earthly sorrow?

This Hope can be yours, and it is found in Jesus.

The Lord doesn't care if you have a good job, He doesn't care if you've got a zillion dollars, He doesn't care if people like you.

But He does care if you have a relationship with Him, bringing others to know His love and spreading the indescribable joy that is eternal.

May we not focus on our earthly pain but remember...

'O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime, weeping may tarry for the night, but JOY comes with the morning. (Psalm 30: 2-5)

Dear Heavenly Father,
  May I NEVER lose the urgency to live each day as it is my last here on earth. Help me to focus on the NOW and be present in the every day life you have given me. Make me solid in faith and a studious servant to your scripture. My days are numbered but my joy is eternal because of Your power and relentless love for me. You are my hope and my foundation for each waking day. Thank you. Thank you, for You. Thank you for all you have done and all that you have yet to do...

Amen.

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