Thursday, May 24, 2012

Proud Mommy Moments: She's Ready!

I'm linking up this week with Emmy Mom for Proud Mommy Moments - a fun and easy post where I get to share what moments tickled my heart or made me turn red in embarrassment from my kids.  This week, I'm pretty darn tickled.

Two weeks ago, Grace went through some testing to evaluate her readiness for 1st grade.  In normal Jill-fashion, I stressed out about this test and began quizzing Grace nightly on things that she would be tested on.  Joel kept reminding me that it was just Kindergarten, and that I needed to chill.  But that's just not me.

Yesterday the results came home, and I ripped the envelope open as soon as Grace handed it to me.  And wouldn't you know, she did great!  She tested perfectly in letter identification and comprehension and interpretation.  She also tested near-perfect in phonemic awareness and mathematical knowledge.

Again, I realize this is Kindergarten... but when it's your kid, you're proud!  She's grown so much this year... she loves to figure out how to spell words and she loves "quizzing" Joel and I in math while we're driving around in the car.

I can't wait to see how her mind and heart continue to grow... 1st Grade is coming up way to fast!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Me in the Mirror

I know it's been a while since I wrote a legitimate post.  Sorry for the hiatus - it wasn't planned, but I needed it.

The last two months has been both equally great and difficult.  In so many ways, God has shown up and provided me with abundantly more than I've asked of Him.  In other ways, He has allowed me to go through some pretty muddy times.  Hard times.  And that's what this is all about.

For those who are Christians, you know there are too many times in our walk that we feel that everything is going pretty well.  There are no obvious tribulations.  Relationships are good.  We're pretty happy, and maybe even joyful at times.  There are no obvious sins in our life.  We're basically coasting through.

That's been me for the last while.  Joel and I are doing pretty well - no major problems or fights but we're not really growing a whole lot.  My friendships are good, but they could be better.  I'm pretty content most of the time, but still have moments when I want more out of life than what God has given me.  I don't have any major sins that I'm dealing with.  My relationship with God is good.  Steady.

But if you're mature in your faith, you know that our relationships should be moving forward.  Our relationship with Christ should be growing.  We should always be aware of areas in our life where God is pushing us to grow - convicting us.  We are to also be content all of the time with what God has given us now - knowing that God gives us what we need today, and we don't need to worry about the next day, month or year. 

Last month, I went with a group from our church to a church conference in Chicago.  It was amazing - our group really grew together and God showed up in big ways.  Lives were changed. The first night of the conference, we started with worship.  I mean amazing worship.  In normal Jill-form, I started crying pretty heavily.  A friend turned to me, gave me a hug and asked if God was peeling away some layers.  I told her, no, that I am just a crier.  But the truth was He was.  He was beginning the process of peeling back some areas in my life - bitterness, hurt, loneliness, pride...  Throughout the next few days, God continued to show me where I've put up walls and He was tearing them down.

See, during the last few months, I haven't seen obvious sin in my life.  I don't cheat, steal, lust... you know, Ten Commandment-type sins.  I haven't been dealing with the big ones.  But God has revealed so many areas in my where I am living apart from Him - apart from His perfection.

During times of conviction, I have found that you either flee from God or run to Him.  Well, I've been running toward Him.  My quiet times have been more consistent and meaningful then they've been in a long time.  And while it feels good to be in His arms and under the Spirit, it is hard.  The peeling back of those layers is hard.  It hurts.

In the mornings, I've taken a break from listening to my iPod in the bathroom and have instead started listening to sermons.  I listen to James MacDonald with the Walk in the Word app on my phone.  In the past few weeks, I've listened to sermons about guilt, fear, people pleasing, and living for futility.  Sometimes at church it's easy to space-out during a sermon and not allow the pastor's words to penetrate your heart.  But I've found that during my 25-minute routine in front of the mirror every morning, that it's impossible to look myself in the face - look at my reflection, while listening to God's Word be preached - and not be convicted.  And it's during those mornings that God has pushed on my heart the hardest. 

So, that's where I am today.  God is pushing on my heart - hard.  He is showing me the areas in my life that I've chosen to live, apart from Him. 

I'll write about those areas more.  I'm still trying to process through it all.  But there are some things that I've blogged about struggling with before, that God has shown me that I'm still struggling with. 

If you want to know where my heart is right now, read Psalm 139.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

10 Things to Smile About: April

Wow!  April is over - how in the world did that happen?  It was a crazy month around here - a good month, but a bit of a blur.  So here are 10 things that made me smile last month...

1.  Grace continuing to grow in knowledge and in her heart.  She came home with this handwriting work from school - this made my heart so happy.  God is growing her.

2.  Easter.  We had a lovely brunch with my parents, followed by an Easter egg hunt.  With all that's been going on in life, this was a truly sweet day.

3.  Lots and lots of time with new friends.  I'm amazed how quickly I've grown to love a group of people, I've only known for a short time.

5.  Continued success with our journey to become debt free. Our grand total since September 2011 is $10,900.  Lots of hard work to do still.  But we've made a ton of progress and I can't wait to know how it feels to be able to say "we are debt free".

6.  A new workout routine that I'm incorporating with my workouts at the YMCA.  The workouts are hard, sweaty, but somehow super fun.  I'm seeing some good progress in just one month... can't wait to finally be ok with swimsuit season.

7.  Going to Harvest University in Chicagoland with my new church... wonderful teaching, inspiring ministry and God-glorifying worship.  It was truly amazing.

8.  A sleepover with 3 Kindergartners.  It was crazy.  It was loud.  It was exhausting.  It was fun.  Oh, and thanks Mom, for putting up with all my sleepovers.  I had no idea!

9.  Our first trip to the zoo this season. 

10.  With only a month of school left, we are making fun plans for the summer - a trip to the East coast, a trip to Seattle and some horse riding lessons for Miss Grace.