Sunday, February 28, 2010

He's Changing My Heart!

As I have reflected over the last week or so, I am encouraged to be seeing a change in my heart towards my children in regard to my tendency to be harsh in my speech and attitude towards them. I'm also seeing how He, himself, is showing me the way He wants me to build relationships with my issue I have felt an increasing urgency to address. What's even more encouraging is that I didn't realize it was happening. He has brought this awareness by way of the Spirit and I am so encouraged to know that it is HIM who is changing me...NOT myself.

For a little while now I have been increasingly convicted by my harshness towards my children in speech and attitude, the tendency to make them out to be burdens just with the tone I speak to them with, and the lack of having relationships with them. I felt the need to begin making some changes...the LORD brought different convictions to me regarding the use of my time and prompted me to make different choices in a few areas. I'm certain more changes are to come as I continue to seek Him, but I am finding great encouragement so far in what He has done within my heart and therefore my actions are changing.

It started with a conviction of the way I spend my time in the afternoons. The kids have "quiet time" each afternoon during Oliver's nap and I would use this time to either catch up on Facebook or watch some mind-numbing show on Hulu. Are these things bad? No, they're just not the BEST. I also began to see how I was treating my children during this "quiet time". If they came out and interrupted me I would speak harshly as if they are burdens and as if I'm entitled to have MY quiet time without interruption. Most days they didn't know how long "quiet time" would just depended on my selfish desires to please my flesh and of course this results in exasperating them by them not knowing what to expect. As the Lord revealed this to me, He also gently showed me what needed to be changed. I decided to forsake computer time in the afternoons during this designated "quiet time" and use that time to sit at HIS feet in prayer, reading, or writing. I sat the children down and confessed my sin to them in this area, shared with them the new plan for our "quiet time" in the them a time frame of 90 minutes (we even set the timer) and what was expected of them during this time and the consequences if they did not obey. So, now they know I use "quiet time" to seek the LORD, it will last 90 minutes, they are not allowed to play together, but do something quietly in their beds and no getting out of their beds unless to use the restroom. They have done fantastic! It is amazing what setting known boundaries can do for children's obedience! I am so proud of them.

The other area that came to mind was that of mealtimes. My usual pattern during these times, breakfast and lunch that is, I would make their meal, serve them, then get my food prepared and sit at the computer on Facebook or Hulu (can you see an idol here?) I would also allow the computer to delay the beginning of my day and the getting back into the day after mealtimes. This change has been more supernatural than the other. I don't recall making a conscience choice to not sit at the computer other than the thought "If I sat at the table with my children during mealtimes I would probably have opportunities for the building of relationships with them by means of conversations". Then without realizing it, I am no longer sitting at the computer during these times. I am here rarely and for less time when I am. I sit with my children during meals and no longer allow the computer to distract me at the start of my day. These changes have been an amazing work of the Spirit and God's grace.

Another opportune time the LORD has shown me to cultivate relationships with my children by means of bringing them into my activities is by praying in the car. It hit me the other day as Avrie and I were on our way to my appointment with my midwife. He was not accompanying me by choice, it was a consequence from complaining and arguing earlier in the day and therefore the consequence of hanging with our friends, The Millers, was taken away from him. Anyway, the commute to the Birthing Center to see my midwife is 25 minutes and my appointment was at 2:30 so I would not be having my usual afternoon quiet time with the LORD, so the thought came to me to invite Avrie to pray with me on our way home. I of course gave him the option to pray himself or just follow with me as I prayed. So we did, do I see relationship changes instantly? Of course not, but I do trust God to use it knowing that it is something pleasing to Him. All the kids and I had another prompting to pray while commuting the following day...they each (with the exception of Oliver) prayed aloud. It was a sweet moment and I am so thankful the LORD is moving in us to pray more. Praying together in the car is something we are beginning to make a regular thing.

Now, as I have shared before, I have a tendency to speak harshly to my children by my tone and the choice of words. I can probably say that before salvation "cursing" was my first language and "English" was my second. Therefore with that said, when I get angry or annoyed, I resort to cursing. Then there are the two words that roll off my tongue quite easily... shut up ... I have been praying, and so have the children...their prayer is usually "God, please help Mommy catch herself"...that the LORD would change my heart and help me to be gentle, soft spoken and more tenderhearted in my communication. Now this area of sin in my life is one that I have questioned whether or not I could change or not. It just seems like it would be impossible because it is a sin that so easily entangles me. Well, God's Word is true..."with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matt. 19:26 !!! As I was putting the children to bed the other night, they were not calming down and I responded quickly with "shut up" and instantly I was convicted, but at the same time God also spoke to me with the encouragement that I had not said "shut up" to my children in a least a week and immediately following that He sweetly encouraged me again with pointing out that I haven't been cursing either! I was awe struck. I can't even put into words how amazed and over whelmed I am by His grace. Now that's God changing my heart because His Word says in Matt 12: 34 "...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" so this assures me the change is in my heart and that it has been done in His strength not my own. Oh praise Him for His faithfulness and His grace that is poured out on me daily in abundance!

To close, I would like to share a Scripture that I heard in some teaching a couple weeks ago by CJ Mahaney titled "What a Mother Can't Do Without". It was again spoke by a lady at my Uncommon Vessels group last night on a whole other topic, but nonetheless, it was brought up again. When she said it, I thought hmmm...that's what I'm experiencing with regard to the changes in my heart and activities recently. So I asked her what the reference was and she took my Bible and looked for it...well, it was already underlined in my Bible, but I didn't have any recollection of why and when I underlined it. Then as I looked it up to type it here, I read it and thought I've heard that before recently...well duh! I heard is a couple weeks ago during that teaching and underlined it then. Now, I'm sitting here amazed at how God brought full circle something He was wanting me to learn and the Truth to His Word. Here's the verse

Hebrews 11:6 "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."

Don't you see? I have been praying, believing He can change me, asking for increased faith, drawing near to Him, forsaking activities to seek Him and He is rewarding me by tenderly transforming my heart. May He receive ALL glory!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Endless Fun in the Latta Home

I'm tellin ya...Oliver has a goooood time while we're doing school. In these first few pictures he is painfully making his way around with handy dandy tin can shoes...the fun is never ending in our home...

Now, these next few were not during school hours...even better...after supper while hangin out with Daddy...listening to music, dancing, and acting crazy...

These next eight pictures were taken in order to give you a little shot of Oliver's dance moves. I so wish we had a camcorder or something to record footage with sound of him dancing. He cracks us up! He does this thing with his head and really can bust a move. Love it! He loves music and can't help move when it's on...and you know his Daddy is way into music, so we listen to it often...

This is his newest move. My favorite now. Can't you see why?

Now for just some random shots taken throughout our school day a few days ago. Some days are just more entertaining than others. I try to catch them...but I'm not always successful.

Emma took a picture of Elise and I.
Look at Oliver's feet. Yes, you see correctly. He is wearing the girl's dress up heels. He initiated wearing them and really liked you can see.

I don't normally wear wigs, but you'll see in a few pictures whose idea it was...

Look at that face! When he smiles, his whole face smiles. Very contagious.

Also have to say...I love those rolls on his neck. Avrie had the same thing when he was Oliver's age.

Our future wig wearing doctor.

I couldn't help but take pictures of each of the girl's reading from The Word during our devotion time. They are so eager and excited to participate and's very encouraging. And their ability and excitement about memorizing Scripture is always an encouragement too.

Oliver is studying ancient history this year. He has very unique study techniques.
This is a big kiss for his G-ma & G-pa Jameson and G-ma Rosie & G-pa Mike.

And finally...the tub we got in the mail from Grandma Rosie. Had to share. It was full of no-bake cookies. Just's very self explanatory...and true :o)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

More Snapshots of His Gifts

Couldn't not share this one of him...he's just so stinkin cute.

Is this not just priceless! Can you see what they are doing? Yes, reading...I know, it's such a rare thing...NOT! They crack me up!

Here is a shot I took the other morning at the beginning of our devotional time. It just struck me that they were all sitting together on the couch listening...even I had to capture the moment of cushionless attentiveness. I'm simply overwhelmed by God's grace when I look at this picture...amazed...thankful...

Here's Daddy with his hat-head hair from a looonnng day at work sitting...watching closely as Oliver strategically places his little far animals on the cushionless couch...

A close-up of his careful work.

And another priceless picture. He LOVES playing with the girl's doll house. He's contemplating what to do right now considering he put everything in a what to do.....

My handsome young man...growing up way too fast.
Where does the time go?

Dress Up Shots

Go ahead and say it...she looks like me when I was younger during that goofy phase when I had those great glasses with Ziggy on them and then every other pair after that that was too large for my face. She wears goofiness much better than I ever did.
She is so much fun and so beautiful. Love her!

Oliver...dressed in Elise's cardigan...he liked it till he couldn't use his hands anymore because the sleeves kept falling down. I wonder how many different pictures I will have of him tortured by the girls before he gets a clue :o) At the rate they're going, I'm sure I'll have a plethora.

Here's Emma in her fancy little outfit she came out with on during school the other day. Having some fun all be herself. I love watching them pretend. Wish I had a little more child likeness in me...especially when it comes to my faith. Do you notice Oliver sitting with NO cushion...strange boy...but oh so cute!

Just a shot of her having fun filling up her wallet with her play money.

There she is again...had to get a shot of her in the whole outfit...Grandma Rosie sent her this dress in the mail the other day and she decided to put it on over her pajamas and add the glasses as a charming accessory...right before bedtime...

A close up of her beautiful face...couldn't resist. I love it when they put wigs on.

Of course she had to get Oliver in on the action...he wanted a hat too and he loves to have his picture taken... this one will be worth some money some day...don't you think? :o) When you see the back of him walking away he looks like ET. I love the smiles and laughter my children bring into my life. They are such sweet blessings and gifts I am so undeserving of...thank you LORD that I am not ultimately their Keeper, but He is and He loves them far greater than I ever can or will. And I'm grateful that I don't have to do this parenting thing alone, but have the help of my husband and my gracious Father in Heaven who carries me through each day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Belly Shot

Here is a belly shot. Travis took it his morning so we could update those of you asking for one... As of today, I am 31 weeks and 2 days. The midwife says things are great. I've only gained 12 pounds so far...after gaining 8 pounds in a five week period over the month of December, I thought I better make some I started working out at the beginning of January usually six days a week and began a Bible study called Uncommon Vessels by Elyse Fitzpatrick ~ A Program for Developing Godly Eating Habits. I've been successful in watching my calorie intake (with recommendations from my midwife), increasing my water intake and practicing portion control along with healthier choices! I've really enjoyed the study and have gained much encouragement through it. I love being fit and am loving the change the LORD has done in my heart towards food and self-control. I was very disciplined in working out during my last pregnancy and I believe that is why delivery was so quick and easy, I don't know if easy is a good word to use, but I was much stronger to bear the pain and push through the delivery. Those of you that don't know, from my first pain to delivering Oliver, it was less than 2 hours. That was quite different from the 5-9 hours of labor with all the others. I pray little Ira comes quickly too, but not so quick that I have him in the van on the way to the birthing center :o)

Sleepy Shots & Silly Shots of Oliver

Oh Oliver! He is so stinkin sweet! Do you notice the baby he is holding? Now how adorable is that? He likes to take different things to bed with babies, sunglasses, name it and he'll take it :o)

We found Oliver like this one morning when we went in to get him up.

Here's Oliver doing one of his favorite and frequent activities which is lining his toys up...this time he's working on his cars....and yes, those are our couch cushions...he loves having them off the couch to either sit on the couch or use them as a table.

Here's another thing he likes to use the cushions for...a slide!
Once again...standing up carefully each toy and strategically placing them on the floor...

Every night he goes through the routine of getting all his different types of building blocks out and dumping them in specific spots, then dumps his cars and lines them up strategically and then his little farm animals and miscellaneous toys...this must be a sign he is special :o) Love him!