Hope this Christmas

So I’m sitting here in my living room, finishing up a cup of hot chocolate with the fireplace on, and I’m thinking about Hope. Here we are in the first week of Advent already, the week of Hope. I honestly don’t know where to start or what to write about. I’m having a little bit of writers block to be honest! So I started Googling, because that’s what we do when we have questions right?!? I came across a couple definitions that really got me thinking about Hope this Christmas.

Advent- the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Waiting for Hope this Christmas

Hope at Christmas

The dictionary defines Advent as “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.” In this case, the arrival of Christ. But that happened over 2000 years ago… where’s the hope in that? Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” We can’t have a feeling of expectation or desire for something that has already happened. That doesn’t make sense.

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” 1 Peter 1:13 NIV

Our hope, this feeling of expectation of the arrival of a notable person, this Advent; we wait patiently for Christ to return again. He came once, God in the form of a human baby, to live among us, forgive our sins and give us eternal life. Our hope is in the fact that He will come again! He will fully restore this world to His original plan and design.

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas which reminds us of hope

This Christmas as I reflect on Christ’s first coming, I also wait with expectation for His second coming.

So how do we do this? Especially with our kids? How do we describe the hope we have in Christ?

How to Teach our Kids about Hope

Last year, we bought our girls Shepherd’s Treasure. It’s like Elf on the Shelf, but not. Instead it’s the story of a little shepherd boy and his journey to find the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Kids learn about God’s great love for them when he sent his son into this world to save us! Each day a new verse from God’s word is read on the Advent card.

So, basically you hide the Shepherd Boy each night for your child to find the next morning. When they find it, you can all read the Bible verse on the card, as well as the explanation or activity or action on the back on the card. I was flipping through them today and came across the one based on Luke 2:8-16 (the birth of Jesus). On the back of the card it says “We are almost there! I can’t wait to see Jesus!” The Shepherd boy is talking about Christmas, but isn’t that an amazing thought for right now as well… we’re almost there!

Jesus is coming again! I’m going to read this card with my girls in the morning and we can talk about the Hope we have in this time leading up to Christmas and always of seeing Jesus.That is the true meaning of Hope this Christmas!

Candle with Hope this Christmas

Related posts:

Fighting a Panic Attack: 4 Practical tips

Trip to Calgary

This past weekend my husband, Pete, and I went to Calgary. It was a quick trip and we did A LOT of driving around. He showed me where his childhood home and elementary school was in North Calgary, we caught a movie at the VIP Cinema in South Calgary. On Saturday afternoon we decided to take a drive out to Chestermere just East of Calgary. It’s a beautiful little community, there’s a gorgeous lake with cute little parks and beaches. Unfortunately, I had to use my 4 practical tips for fighting a panic attack.

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I was really looking forward to looking around when I started having a panic attack. It started out slowly and I was just trying to control it with deep breathing. It wasn’t long before it turned into a full fledged panic attack, heart beating super fast, nausea, sweating. I told my hubby to pull over and puked in the parking lot of one of the cute little parks. I haven’t had a panic attack like that in years. Pete and I have known each other for over 7 years and he’s never seen me like that.

So, what do I do when I’m having an attack? Here are some very practical things I do to get through my anxiety.

4 Practical Tips for Fighting a Panic Attack

4 Practical Tips

1- Ginger Ale, Gravol  and Gum ~ I’ve never gone onto any fast acting anxiety medications like Ativan, I haven’t felt the need to especially in the last few years as my panic attacks have been fairly well controlled. I take my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant every day, but nothing to take when I feel an attack coming on. So Ginger Ale and Gravol are my go to’s. They both help cut the nausea and the Gravol helps me settle down and pass out for a little while (see tip #3) I get very physical reactions to my panic attacks, so gum is always helpful after throwing up.

2- Remind myself of what I can control ~ The only thing we can truly control is ourselves. How we react, what we think, what we do. When I feel so out of control I find it helpful to picture myself in a box and remind myself over and over that I can’t control what people think of me when I’m like this, I can’t control the circumstances that led to the panic attack, I can’t even really control whether or not I throw up, but I can control myself and my thoughts. I had an instructor once explain it as the hula hoop. We can only control what happens in our hula hoop, not in anyone else’s.

3- Go to Bed ~ Getting some sleep make a world of difference for me! Thankfully the Gravol leaves me sleepy, so if I can get an hour or two of sleep, I usually wake up feeling refreshed and with a better outlook on life. I find having a weighted blanket or at least a heavy blanket or comforter helps me settle as well. I tried just throwing a small blanket over myself at first, but it really didn’t help. Once I put something heavier on, it seems to help control some of the reaction to anxiety (shivering, shaking, wakes of panic etc.)

4- Pray ~ Prayer helps to remind me of the bigger picture. God is ultimately in control of everything… the small things and the big picture things. It also reminds me that I am not alone. I am never alone, God is always there walking with me through the good times and the bad.

What Does the Bible Say?

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” ~ Psalm 139:7-10

Final Encouragement

Finally friends, I want to remind you (and myself) that anxiety does not define you. Let me say that again, because if you get nothing else from this post, you NEED to know that anxiety does not define you. I was really worried I would have another panic attack the next day, but I didn’t. I was fine, my anxiety attack did not define me or how the weekend went. Even with having a panic attack, we still had a great time. I am just a regular person who has panic attacks sometimes. There is nothing wrong with you if you have anxiety like me. It’s a sickness and it can be dealt with and overcome to live a happy, healthy and fruitful life. Don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it, it is nothing to be ashamed of.

What are some of the ways you cope with stress/anxiety or panic attacks? I’d love to hear from you! The more “tools” we can have in our belts to fight these kinds of things, the better! We’re in this together.

xoxo,

  Caroline

Woman with face in hands. Fighting a Panic Attack: 4 Practial Tips

Obsessed with Picture Perfect

Fall is here and that means Pumpkin patch season!! I love going to our local pumpkin patch to get pumpkins and pick apples. I’ve been twice in the last week! As long as it isn’t raining, I’m game to go! Shopping local is awesome and I love to support local. Plus, the fruit always tastes better and lasts longer as it’s straight from the farm! It’s also a great season for taking pictures. But, I wonder lately if we are becoming to obsessed with picture perfect.

Pumpkins in obsessed with picture perfect

Field Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

The other day I was on a field trip with Lily. I was struck by how many people were snapping photos after photo after photo of their kids. It seemed they were doing this rather than just enjoying the time with their kid. Moms were stuck behind their cameras or cell phones. They were moving their kids around and telling them to sit still to get the perfect picture. Kids were fidgeting and trying to run away making moms more and more impatient.

Girl running through trees in Obsessed with Picture perfect

Obsessed with Picture Perfect

Are we so obsessed with picture perfect in today’s world trying to get the perfect image to put on our social media? Do we take pictures rather than spending these special moments making memories with our loved ones? We’re so concerned about portraying our perfect life on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes I think we forget to enjoy the time we get to spend with our kids. I’ll admit, I’m guilty of it too. As soon as I snap a cute picture of the girls I start thinking about how I can put it on social media. If I don’t like the picture, there is no chance I’m posting it! We “airbrush” our lives to make them look how we want rather than actually connecting to people on a human level. We no longer relate to others in our struggles and weakness, joys and strengths.

Authenticity

God wants us to be authentic. It’s sad really how disconnected our world is becoming. There are more and more ways to connect with others, but is having a device in our hands or in front of us really connecting with people?

Beautiful girl in flower field with Obsessed with Picture perfect

When Christ died for us, He did it so He can have a relationship with us; and we can have one with Him. God is all about relationships, that’s why He’s 3 in 1, that’s why He created us in the first place. He wants us all to live in relationships. His greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31. There is nothing more important to God and there should be nothing more important to us.

I pray that as I snap pictures my images won’t be more important to me then the subjects I’m taking pictures of!

Lily and I on her field trip to the pumpking patch in Obsessed with Picture perfect

Overcoming Mom Guilt

This is the time of year my “Mom Guilt” kicks into high gear. It’s almost Lily’s birthday, she’ll be 4 next week. I still can’t believe that, but it’s true! You can read all about her miracle birth story in my post My Preemie Miracle. Each year, I feel like I’m getting better at overcoming mom guilt that I feel this time of year.

Picture of me holding my preemie miracle in Overcoming Mom Guilt
First time holding my precious baby girl!

Lily’s Birth

4 days before Lily was born, I was in the ER with severe upper right abdominal pain. It was my third time in the ER in the 6 and a half months I was pregnant. I had gallstones and the way Lily was sitting in my tummy was causing them to be pushed out. Talk about pain! I was 13 weeks pregnant when it first happened and I was sure I was miscarrying. The pain was unimaginable. Thankfully it was just gallstones and not the baby!

Anyway, when I got to the ER that third time, they did the standard tests of temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. My blood pressure was through the roof… I remember seeing 184/something. When I was in at 19 weeks, the nurses had told me that after 20 weeks any woman who comes into the ER with stomach pain automatically gets sent up to the maternity ward. Even though I was almost 29 weeks, I was not. I was kept in the ER. That was my first mistake.

I knew they had said that to me on my last visit, but everyone just kept putting my high blood pressure off as being from the pain. I should have pushed to go up to the maternity ward. Both of my sisters also had early deliveries due to preeclampsia (Don’t know what Preeclampsia is? Read my post: What is Preeclampsia?) Not 11 weeks early, but still early. I should have known better knowing the symptoms of preeclampsia. I wasn’t having some of the more common symptoms, such as headache and vision problems, so I guess I just ignored it.

The “What ifs” of Overcoming Mom Guilt

There are so many “what ifs” that run through my head! What if my preeclampsia was caught earlier? Would they have been able to keep Lily in longer? What if I didn’t have a routine prenatal appointment 4 days later when it was finally caught? What if I had a seizure or a stroke? I was at home by myself for those 4 days. Anything could have happened in those hours Pete was at work. What if, what if, what if…

Woman with head in her hands with heading Overcoming Mom Guilt

What if’s cause guilt. We second guess what we did. We think of all the ways we could have done things better. We strive to be perfectionists (at least I do!) and when something doesn’t go perfectly as planned, we heap on the guilt. I believe we are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else. We need to learn to have some compassion for ourselves as well.

So, how do we overcome Mom Guilt? Thanksgiving.

I am Grateful printed on heart in Overcoming Mom Guilt

Thanksgiving overcomes Mom Guilt

I am thankful Lily is a lively, active, smart and challenging. She is a completely typical 4-year-old! Thankfully nothing happened in those 4 days between when I was in the ER and when Lily was born. Thankfully I had that doctors appointment set up already four days later. I am thankful for Lily’s safe delivery as well as for my safety that day.

I am thankful for our time in the NICU, I really am. It’s not how I would have planned things to go, but we were so blessed by our time there by seeing our family and friends come around and support us. We felt God right there with us. We were completely confident He would provide for us no matter what the outcome was.

Ours was the best possible outcome, but I know there are others who do not get that. But there is always something to be thankful for. There is always something other than guilt that we can focus on and be thankful for; even if it is just the fact that God is walking through this time in our life with us. He will never leave us or forsake us and for this reason, we can be strong and courageous (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So, if you are feeling Mom guilt today, think about all the things you are thankful for. Write them down! Start a gratitude journal! Tell them to someone! Tell them to God! The more we are thankful for, the less we feel guilty for. Overcoming Mom Guilt is possible!

Why Focus on the Rock?

Do you do daily devotions? I try to. I’d love to say I do it every day, but I don’t. I should, but it doesn’t always happen. Lately I’ve been using the First5 App. I set the alarm on it to go off at 7:30am. I’ll admit though, I am NOT a morning person. My First 5 minutes of my day are not my best minutes to give to God! So, I usually do my reading at night, I’m much more coherent then. I find I need to be focused on the Rock, my God. Why do I need to focus on the Rock?

My Devotional

The other night the devotion was based on Psalm 42 with focus on verse 5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Basically it was about not fixating on our emotions or anxious feeling, things that are forever changing, but instead to fix our eyes on God who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8.)

Lesson Learned while Whale Watching

When I was in my early 20’s, I went off to Bible School (Capernwray Harbour Bible Centre) for two years of Biblical studies. That was a big time in my life of learning about the Bible and myself as well as a time of God revealing His character to me. As part of my second year of studies (Leadership Training) we went on a retreat to Tofino, BC (which is one of my favourite places in the entire world! The beaches are gorgeous and there is so much to explore!)

One afternoon we went on a whale watching tour. I’d been on another tour out of Victoria before, but not Tofino. Tofino boasts seeing some amazing grey whales and we saw one after a bit of a bumpy ride out of the sheltered cove.  Now, I tend to get a little sea sick from time to time. I was fine on our whale watching tour in Victoria, so I thought I’d be OK on this one. I was wrong, terribly wrong.

Picture of whale jumping in Why to focus on the RockWe were quite far out, so after I got sick, we had to go all the way back with frequent stops for me to “feed the fish” as they say. As we headed back, our tour guide told me to keep my eyes focused on the mountains on the horizon. He said the more you keep your eyes focused on something that was not moving, the less sick I’d get. He was right, if I focused on the waves around us, or my friends on the boat or the other boat, I’d start throwing up everywhere.

God is our Rock

The Bible often refers to God as being our rock (2 Samuel 22:3, Psalm 18:46, Psalm 40:2, Psalm 94:22, Isaiah 26:4.) As I was focusing on the mountains, those beautiful unmovable rocks, I was reminded of this. God is our steady rock. As long as we fix our eyes on Him, it doesn’t matter what else is going on around us, we won’t “get sick.” God is like a rock, unchanging, steady and immovable. His character is always the same, and He is always faithful, even if we are going through emotional turmoil or an anxious time in life. Keep your eyes on the Lord, He is our refuge in times of trouble.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:2-3

Picture of Rock in Why Focus on the Rock

What are some things you do for daily devotions? Is there anything you use to remind yourself or keep yourself accountable? I’d love to hear what you do… it’s definitely an area in my life I’d like to improve on.

Loving Discipline

I wrote a post a few weeks ago called 3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler. I feel like I’ve gotten into a bad rut of yelling at Lily and Maggie when I’m “disciplining” them. That’s not real discipline, they get nothing out of it, I just end up feeling bad for yelling. It makes me feel even worse when they are playing house together and whoever is playing the Mom yells at whoever is playing the child. So what does loving discipline mean? Why loving discipline?

Picture of angry child with Caption "3 words to stop arguing with your toddler" a previous post I wrote that inspired Loving Discipline

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Disciplining my Girls in Love

Anyway, one of the techniques I’ve been using lately to diffuse the situation, both for myself and the girls, is taking a little breather and reminding myself and them that I love them. Just saying I love you makes a huge difference.

Here’s a little piece of what I wrote:

“Rather than yelling or getting upset, I stop and tell them I love them. It doesn’t mean they don’t get a time out or have to say sorry for their actions. There are still consequences. But it really just resets the whole situation. It reminds them that I am doing this because I love them, not out of spite, or being mean or just because I feel like it.

I love them and I want them to know right from wrong, and I want them to learn to be kind to each other and others. I love them and I want them to know whining is not going to get them what they want in life and that sometimes they’re going to have to work really hard to get what they want. Again, I love them and I want them to be able to share with others and make friends. I love them and I want them to learn to be responsible and work hard at whatever tasks they are given.”

God’s Loving Discipline

My Aunt, one of my most loyal followers, sent me an email the next day. In it she said, “I am currently in the prophets for my daily Bible reading, and reading your blog this morning so resonated as to the heart of God for us – His love is always at the core of necessary discipline and consequence.” I hadn’t even thought about that when I wrote the post. It’s absolutely true though.

“My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord
Or loathe His reproof,
For whom the Lord loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” ~Proverbs 3:11-12

Image of the word Love in Loving Discipline

“Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” ~Job 5:17
I’m not going to pretend that I understand God’s discipline. How can a loving God allow bad things to happen to us?
How can I discipline my children? I love them! If you are going through a rough patch in life, in no way would I ever suggest it’s God discipline on you. Have you ever read the book of Job? Yeah, his friends got quite the scolding from God for suggesting Job’s struggles were because he had sinned against the Lord, even though Job insisted on his innocence throughout. Besides, who am I to judge. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in life.
We live in a fallen world. Bad things are going to happen. But, God uses those things for our good. Was Lily born prematurely as God’s discipline to us? I have a hard time believing that. But I do know that God used that extremely difficult time in our life for good. God taught me a lot about Himself and His character during our NICU stay. He showed Himself as love, peace, healer, provider, a miracle worker. He loves us and He wants the best for us. We were created in His image and He wants us to grow into that more and more each day.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Picture of hearts with Caption Loving Discipline
If you don’t already own a Bible, here is one I recommend: Life Application Bible (New American Standard Bible)
It’s easy to read language and easy to understand and apply to life.

How the Lame will Walk Again

I don’t often write about my Dad. I guess I’m still in some sort of denial. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease the week before Pete and I got married. In the 5 and a bit years since then, his health has drastically declined. He’s got dementia and they believe he has some other neurological diseases that have contributed to how fast he has gone downhill. My Dad was always the big 6’6″ gentle giant. He was my hero (he still is, it’s just different now).

He is now confined to a wheelchair as he is a severe fall risk. When he was standing up before, his blood pressure was dropping so low he would pass out. He went into the hospital after my mom called 9-1-1 when he passed out in March of this year. They transferred him to a care home as soon as a bed was open. So, yeah… seeing your Dad who was always larger than life to you now wheelchair bound and hardly able to communicate has been difficult.

How the Lame will Walk Again

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” ~Revelations 21:1-4

 

Picture of my Mom and Dad in How the Lame will Walk Again
My Mom and Dad

Wheelchair-Bound

Lily and Maggie really don’t know my Dad any other way. It makes me so sad that they didn’t get to spend time with him before this disease stole so much of his life. I know my older nieces and nephews have memories of my Dad when he was still relatively healthy (looking back now we see some signs that he’s probably been sick for a while). I wish so bad my girls had this!

A few weeks ago after we had visited my Dad, Lily was asking about Pake (this is what my kids call my Dad. It’s Frisian for grandpa) being in a wheelchair. I explained that it wasn’t safe for him to stand anymore. Honestly, it’s been so long I doubt he’d have the strength in his legs to get up anymore. She seemed OK with that answer and we just carried on. Later that day as I was putting her and Maggie to bed she asked if we could pray for Pake to walk again. Talk about breaking my heart!!! She’s so precious and thoughtful sometimes, it just blows my mind coming from a 4-year-old. I almost said no, we can’t pray for that, it won’t happen.

But, God is the God of miracles and I don’t want to doubt Him or her faith in what God can do! We talked a bit about it and I said that Pake likely wouldn’t walk again until Jesus came back and healed all the sick. We still prayed Pake would walk again, even if it was when Jesus returned.

Picture of person walking with caption How the Lame will Walk Again

“But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall.” ~Malachi 4:2

Faith like a Child

Earlier this year there was a major bus crash involving a hockey team here in Canada, the Humboldt Broncos (you can read about it here if you don’t know about it). We’re a big hockey family. I have nephews and nieces who play hockey and we grew up on Hockey Night in Canada. Hockey was one of the things that Pete and I instantly bonded over when we first met, although he, unfortunately, cheers for the wrong team (I’m a Vancouver Canucks fan, he’s a Calgary Flames Fan.) That’s a whole other story though.

Last week, the Broncos played their first game since the accident. I was glued to the TV, it was just so emotional, both sad and happy. Most of the surviving players were there in attendance. A few of them are now paralyzed and confined to wheelchairs. Lily was watching with me and looks at me (I was probably crying) and says “He’ll walk again when Jesus comes back, right Mom?” Talk about faith like a child. For her to put those conversations we had together, is incredible.

I personally cannot wait for the day I see my Dad and these young hockey players walk again!

 “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” ~Isaiah 40:31

Getting through the Scary parts of Life

.It’s been a bit of a rainy week here in BC. On rainy afternoons, especially when Momma needs to get some work don, I sometimes put on a movie for Lily and Maggie to watch. Right now they are obsessed with the Barbie- Dolphin Magic movie. It’s a cute little movie about mermaids and dolphins and I don’t mind hearing it in the background as I work, unlike some of the shows they choose! Watching my kids watch this movie has shown me how to talk to my girls about getting through the scary parts of life.

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Scary Parts

This Barbie movie is not a scary movie by any means! At the beginning, one of the dolphins is captured. Lily and Maggie both get a little scared during this part. I always have to remind them not to worry, they know the end of the movie (dolphin gets saved… blah, blah, blah), they know what happens, so there’s nothing to be scared of.

I got to thinking today as I reminded them of this yet again, isn’t this so true of our lives as Christians? We know how the story ends, we know Christ has victory over sin and death! No matter what happens in this life, scary or uncertain, we can walk through it with the knowledge of what happens in the end.

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Boxing champion with caption Victory is ours through Christ Jesus

Our Scary Parts of Life

We’ve got a lot of things coming up in the next few months, a lot of uncertainties and unknowns. Pete is scheduled to have surgery on his elbow in the next couple of months. He’s been in constant pain for months due to his arthritis and damage to the joint from him being a hemophiliac. So, he’ll be off on disability for a while recovering. We have no idea how long that could be. They’ve said anywhere from 3-6 months, and that’s provided everything goes as planned. Him not working will change things financially for us again. I’ll likely have to look for work again as we can’t afford to live without his full income.

We’ve been praying about and exploring different options for months now. It’s scary not knowing what lies ahead of us. I’m a planner, I like to have things organized and know what is happening. Spontaneity is not my strong suit.  I make checklists all the time, especially for big events! But I can’t for any of this. I can’t plan if I don’t know what’s going to happen.

The Ending of our Stories

But, I do know the ending of my story. Christ has given me victory over sin and death. Whatever else happens between now and the end of my story, no matter how unknown or scary parts of the movie might be, in the end, there is victory! He offers this to all of us. All we have to do is believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. In His grace and mercy, He offers us this amazing gift of eternal life! Death will not have the victory over us, Christ has already taken the punishment for us. What amazing comfort! It’s easy to get caught up in the details of our lives (and I’m not saying those details aren’t important, they very much are) without looking at the big picture.

Turbulent sea with caption Getting Through the Scary Parts of Life

“We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.” ~Psalm 20: 5
“O sing to the Lord a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.” ~Psalm 98:1
Take comfort, my friends… we know the ending!

3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

It’s been a long, hot, smokey summer here in BC. Our province has literally been on fire and the smoke has basically taken over. I’ve lived in BC pretty much all of my 36 years and I have NEVER experienced smokey air like this. For those of you with toddlers, you know what staying inside for multiple days means… lots of whining, arguing and tantrums. But, through this experience, I have learned there are 3 words to use to stop arguing with your toddler.

Forced to Stay Indoors

The air quality has been so bad, we’ve been forced to stay inside on many occasions. I’m still a little cautious with Lily’s lungs because of her being so premature (read that story here ) She’s at a higher risk for asthma and other breathing problems because she was born with underdeveloped lungs.

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler. Image of smoky Vancouver An Image of Vancouver in the smoke from CTV News Vancouver (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/dramatic-difference-vancouver-skyline-transformed-by-smoke-1.2456182)

My girls need to burn (bad word choice, no pun intended) off energy and they LOVE being outside. There’s only so much energy they can burn off while playing inside. There’s less room, so they’re in each others space more, which leads to more arguing. It’s an endless cycle some days.

Bedtime is the worst here in our house. The girls still have pent up energy and try to get it all out before going to sleep. Getting them ready for bed is exhausting. I started to feel like I was just yelling at them all the time and they didn’t listen anyway. I’d end up with 2 streakers running down the hallway while I threatened “don’t make me get Daddy up here!!” Some nights Pete would just have it with the screaming and arguing and talking back he’d come up anyway. They usually smarten up a bit when Daddy’s around.

One night I was at my wits end! We’d been stuck inside for 2 or 3 days. Our only outings had been grocery shopping and to PetSmart to get them out and see the fish (they love the fish!) I was on the floor, close to tears, after fighting with them for what seemed like FOREVER over which pajamas to wear and then actually putting those pajamas on. They just would not listen.

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler, angry child

The 3 Words to Stop Arguing with your Toddler

I couldn’t help but think to myself “this is not working…” I took a moment just to take a breath and regain some composure. Then I looked at Lily and I said “Hey Lily, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” Then I looked at Maggie and said “Hey Maggie, you know what? I LOVE YOU!” I think they were a little shocked at first! I brought them both over for a little hug and snuggle and from them on, the whole getting ready for bed routine went a lot smoother.

I don’t know if it was me taking a moment to gather myself and remind myself that I love them, or if it was me reminding them that I love them. Maybe I’d been yelling too much for too long and they’d tuned me out. But those 3 simple words made such a difference to our night. I’ve tried it a couple other times when we’re having a tough time dealing with big emotions.

Rather than yelling or getting upset, I stop and tell them I love them. It doesn’t mean they don’t get a time out or have to say sorry for their actions. There are still consequences. But it really just resets the whole situation. It reminds them that I am doing this because I love them, not out of spite, or being mean or just because I feel like it.

I Love Them

I love them and I want them to know right from wrong, and I want them to learn to be kind to each other and others. I love them and I want them to know whining is not going to get them what they want in life and that sometimes they’re going to have to work really hard to get what they want. Again, I love them and I want them to be able to share with others and make friends. I love them and I want them to learn to be responsible and work hard at whatever tasks they are given.

What are some ways you deal with whinny, overtired toddlers? How do you and your family cope with big emotions and tantrums?

3 words to stop arguing with your toddler. I love you

Related article:Loving discipline

Mermaid Give Away!!

Update September 10, 2018- The mermaid was donated to the Surrey Memorial NICU to give as a gift to an older sister of a NICU baby. Our neighbours in the NICU when Lily was born already had a little girl. She would come on visits and try to play quietly, but it’s hard for a toddler to do that.  A stay in the hospital is hard on all family members, especially older siblings. If this mermaid can bless one of those little girls, I’m a happy camper!

Mermaid Give Away

The making process is almost done!!  Just a few finishing touches left on this gorgeous little mermaid! Originally I was making her to donate to an organization that makes care bags for people (including kids) undergoing cancer treatments here in BC. Unfortunately, the lady organizing the bags had to take a bit of a break due to family reasons (totally get it!!)

Anyway, I still want her to go to a deserving little girl. So, do you know of a special little girl who would absolutely love and deserves this little mermaid? Drop a comment or email me at caroline@lilymags.com with your nominations.  On September 10th I will decide on one special girl to receive this. (Canadian residents only- not affiliated with Instagram or Facebook)

Picture of crochet mermaid for mermaid give away

Click bellow for some great crochet patterns from Craftsy

Everything you need to knit, crochet, spin and weave at Craftsy.com

BeyondBeanie ~ Brand Ambassador

Becoming a BeyondBeanie Brand Ambassador

I’m super excited about this latest partnership I’ve made! I am now a proud Beyond Beanie Brand Ambassador! A couple weeks ago, someone contacted to see if I wanted to become a brand ambassador for BeyondBeanie. Honestly, I’d never heard of them or their mission before. I was intrigued though. After looking into it some more, I fell in love with their concept! All their products are handmade by Bolivian artists; each artist signs their work and receives a fair wage for what they’ve created!

BeyondBeanie Hand crafter by Bolivian artisansThis post may contain affiliate links. Through no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission. You can read my full disclosure statement for more information.

As if that wasn’t enough, each purchase made goes to helping kids in Bolivia! Is that not the coolest thing ever?!?

BeyondBeanie sale of 1 beanie feeds 5 children BeyondBeanie purchase of 1 bracelet gives dental care to 1 child in need BeyondBeanie sale of 1 bag gives 1 set of school supplies to a child in need

After reading all this, I was totally onboard with being a brand ambassador for them! Not only are they providing jobs and fair wages for women, they are also helping children at the same time!

beyondBeanie Hector Alvarez and Paty Lucero

About beyondBeanie

“beyondBeanie was co-founded by Hector Alvarez and Paty Lucero in 2014. The company was the result of a backpacking trip that Hector did to Bolivia to visit Paty. Together, they discovered beauty in the rich and colorful textures of Bolivia. They also witnessed the harsh reality of severe poverty in Bolivia… Using an awareness of both the beauty and the not-so-pretty, Hector and Paty dedicated themselves to combine their expertise in business and design to create a fashion line to represent the colorful spirit of Bolivia” (https://beyondbeanie.com/pages/media-kit)

According to World Vision, Bolivia is

“One of the poorest and most underdeveloped Latin American countries, Bolivia faces declining economic growth while drug production and usage climb… Bolivia has one of Latin America’s highest rates of gender violence, affecting women at home and in the workplace. Many children are threatened by exploitation from human trafficking and cyberbullying.”

I am honored to have been asked to be a part of this. I would LOVE if you wanted to be a part of this amazing mission with me! You can shop directly through this BeyondBeanie link and use my code HULTGREN77 for 25% off!! Happy shopping and happy sharing!

love,

Caroline

Getting through a NICU stay

Being in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is hard, it’s a roller coaster. No one’s birth plan involves spending extra days or weeks in the hospital. You expect to have a healthy baby and go home. Well, it doesn’t always go that way. Here’s a verse from the Bible and a quote I found helpful during our stay in the hospital with Lily.

Proverbs 16:9 NASB

We had a birth plan and it did not go that way. We can make all the best laid out plans in the world, but at the end of the day, it’s the Lord that directs our steps. It may not be the steps we expected or wanted to take, but He walks through with us every single step of the way. I would wish the NICU on no one, but we did see a miracle or two happen while we were there and it’s a privilege to have experienced that and I wouldn’t change it for anything!

This is a line from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Nights Dream” (Act 3 Scene 2) This is so true of my sweet little girl. She was so little! (Read her story here) She was only 2lbs 3oz when she was born. Her diapers were the size of a small women’s maxi pad! I have one still, I should post a picture of it sometime. But she fought, and she fought and she fought. She overcame so many things in our time there. How this little girl could be so feisty and full of fight was incredible to me every single day. I still marvel at it! This quote was a part of my daily mantra. I have it on her birth plaque and any time I find a shirt that has this quote on it, I buy it for her!!

If you or someone you know if going through a tough hospital stay right now, leave me a comment or contact me by email. It’s so hard, but there are others who have been there. Connecting with others at the hospital in the same situation and with others who had been there before was HUGE for me as well. You don’t have to do this alone, you  shouldn’t do this alone!

 

     love,

       Caroline

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The Lord is My Anchor

I have a cousin who has been going through what I imagine would be hell this past year. She lost her youngest daughter in a car accident last summer. Her grief is palpable, but her faith is inspiring, she is holding on to the Lord as her anchor. She has written through all her range of feelings and emotions and it has been incredible to read. I haven’t asked her permission to share her blog post, so I’ll be keeping her anonymous. However, what she wrote the other day was truly amazing. It was based on the verse from the Bible Hebrews 6:19.

Hebrews 6:19 The Lord is my Anchor
Hebrews 6:19 The Lord is my Anchor

From https://www.bibleref.com/Hebrews/6/Hebrews-6-19.html:

“Just as the anchor which holds a ship is not in the exact same place as the ship itself, our hope is not in this world. Rather, it is in a holier, greater place. Since Christ has gone ahead of us, in order to secure our salvation, we should have absolute confidence.”

I’m thankful my anchor is not in the same place as my boat. My boat gets tossed and turned by the waves of this world. But my anchor is secure with Christ in heaven.

Love,

Caroline

[social_warfare]