31 December 2014

Happy Birthday, Julia Star!

Julia's Big Girl Letter

Dear Julia,

Over the past seven years we have watched you grow.  You were born two weeks early and directly on New Year's Eve.  You answered Daddy's request and became our tax deduction baby.  Even though you were born early you were 8lbs and so alert.  We knew you were going to be a smart cookie!

As a baby you never cried.  You were such a good sleeper and eager to wake up and start a new day with bright eyes and expectation.  You loved meeting new people, going to new places, and trying new things.  You have always been a delight and joy to be around.  You make people around you feel welcome.  You are kind to strangers and great with babies.  You are such an awesome helper.

I have really enjoyed homeschooling you because you like to learn, and you are so bright.  Even if something is difficult for you, I love that you do not back down or give up, but keep on trying and searching for a way to solve the problem.

You have always been very verbal and a great questioner it is no wonder you excel in Reading and Science.  I love that you know that you want to be a Teacher, a Gymnast, a Surgeon, and a Scientist.  I have no doubt that you could be one or all of these things.  

Most of all, I am proud of you.  I am proud of the way you seek to help us around the home.  I am proud of the way you share with your brothers and sister.  I am proud of the way you do your schoolwork independently.  I am proud of the way you welcome and greet new children in your sunday school class.  You always have a smile for everyone, and you never want to see someone left out.  I even like the way you stare at people.  I will never forget telling you when you were 4 to stop staring at the lady in the mall.  You turned to me and said, "But Mommy, I can't help it, she's beautiful!"  I am so proud of the way you appreciate beauty in the every day things and how you are usually so care free and happy-go-lucky.

I am looking forward to seeing you work really hard the rest of the school year at Classical Conversations, and at gymnastics.  I can't wait to go to your recital and see how much you have learned and how much you continue to grow as an athlete.  I am also excited to see all that you are learning at Prims on Wednesday nights with the other girls at church.  I love watching you read God's word and hiding it in your heart.  I hope you continue to grow in your faith and cling to Jesus.  I love hearing you pray out loud because I can hear it in your words that you believe what you say and that you know God is with you and you are never alone.  He loves you so much.

I love you baby girl.  I am so happy I get to be YOUR mom.  I like when people say, "You're Julia's mom, right?"  Yup, that's me.  I am Julia's mom, and I am proud of it!


23 December 2014

Our 2014 Highlight

This has been the year of all years for us!

1. January 4, 2014 We found out that we would be needing another car seat in the mini van.  And John's comment to me when I told him we were pregnant, yet again, was, "It's fine honey, we have a mini van now, there's always room for one more!"

2. February- We got to spoil our sister in law Laurie at her baby shower for the twins.  Afterwards we sat her down and my mother in law and gave them two wrapped gifts.  When they opened the framed sonogram of our baby they had no idea what we were telling them.  They thought we were giving them a picture frame.  Then we announced...we are due Sept 3rd!!! I think people in China heard my in laws screaming.  Laurie kept yelling, "Get me up! Get me up!" (she was very pregnant and wanted to get out of her seat to hug us).  It was my favorite moment of all time.  My father in law just kept saying, holy s@#%! over and over and over. 

3. March-Micah turned 1 and was dedicated at our church Jacobs Well in North Brunswick.  A family dedication is basically a special ceremony where families with young children ask the people in the church to pray for them as they raise their family in Christ.  It's a really special day.  And we loved the support we felt as our MC (missional community) stood up front with us and prayed for us.

4. April-We continued getting our home ready to sell and put it on the market.  Staging our home with 3 kids was no easy task, but thankfully I have a great team mate who helped me through it.

5. May-On John's birthday we had a huge BBQ and gender reveal and we found out that the fourth baby mac was going to be a GIRL.  I wish you could've been there to hear Julia and Naomi Fields cheering, and see the smiles/shock on our faces, everyone told us it was going to be a boy...but God knew we needed another girl!

6. May-The twins Ava and Nik (our godson) were born.  They are the sweetest twins you ever did see.  Julia and I headed to meet them for the very first time at the hospital the second we were allowed.  And Cinzia my best friend baby sat my boys. (thanks chi chi)  Julia and I and all of us are smitten by our new cousins.  They are so perfect.  And Laurie and Kelsey are such great parents!

7. June-Last week of June was spent on our family trip to COTW.  On the first day we were there we learned our house was sold!  The only problem was we had no idea it would happen so fast and now we had to scramble to find the perfect home!  I will never forget how we looked every day at the TeePee (coffee shop) on the internet for our new home.

8. July-House hunting, packing, and being 8 months pregnant, not fun at all.  Putting a bid on a home that I personally felt very connected to, and then watching it fall through broke my heart, but all the while God had and even better home waiting for us in Freehold.

9. August-Celebrating 11 years of marriage and hearing our attorney finally tell us our mortgage was approved on this new home of our dreams was probably one of the best days of our life.  Especially since we would not be homeless...because who sells their home and buys a new one in 30 days!? I have fully learned that with man nothing is possible but with God ALL things are possible.

10. August 27 Amelia Susanna was born at 10:49pm...after a long 15 hour labor (only got intense around 3pm)  It was not my easiest labor but finally our very healthy 9lber was born!  And she had the biggest cheeks and sweetest face I have ever seen.

11. August 29 We move into our new home...literally John picked me up from the hospital and drove me to the attorney's office to sign papers so we could move in that night.  It was the longest week of our lives, but we LOVE our new home and we ADORE our Amelia.

12. September-although we live one house away from the elementary school, we began another year of homeschooling.  This in fact has been the hardest year of home school yet.  I have a needy newborn, an active toddler, and two smart big kids who need me to teach them and its SOOOO overwhelming every day, BUT with God all things are possible and each day I just tell Him how much I can't do this in my own strength.

13. October-connecting with our neighbors in Freehold has been amazing.  This is such a sweet community and we are making a lot of cool friends, and 4 kids seems to be a very common thing on our block, its rather awesome.  I don't feel like the crazy lady with the most kids anymore.

14. November-Amelia was dedicated at our church...it was kind of funny because we literally just dedicated a baby at the last dedication, and here we were again!  But it was so special and we had Amelia's awesome god parents and their families over after church.  It was the best day ever.  I loved just seeing everyone from my immediate family, and John's immediate family and our friends there in one place.

15. December-This month John finished another seminary class, he is very close to completing his degree, and our sweet Julia will turn 7!  Looking over this past year I just really see God's hand, His perfect timing, and His grace on us.  We didn't deserve all that He gave us, but He gave it to us.  He's been so good to us all along, and we are thankful.  None of it has been easy, and there were times that I was so frustrated and unsure of what the next month would hold.  But it was just one of those years that looking back it's amazing to see how far you've come.  And it's nice to know we were never, ever, alone.


15 December 2014

Tra-dition! Tra-dition! Tra-dition!

Christmas Morning Traditions

Have you seen Fiddler on the Roof?  I'm sure you have.  One of my favorite songs is when the amazingly wonderful Jewish Papa of the family sings Tradition!  I love seeing him explain why they do what they do in order to abide by and keep the family traditions.  After all, traditions are so apart of family life, aren't they?  What would we do without them?  They bring us safety and security, they create happy memories for a lifetime and in a way they define who we are and what the holidays mean to us.

This post is to share some of our favorite Christmas traditions.  Ones that you may do in your own home, would like to implement or start at some point, or just might find fun to read.  I always like hearing what other families do on their holiday to make it more meaningful to them.  I think traditions that moms and dads set and repeat year after year can be so special and hopefully loved by the kids so much so that they want to pass on the Tradition! to their family.

Christmas Eve

Our family makes it a point to attend Christmas Eve at our home church.  Usually this is not easy.  There is so much to do and prep for the next day with company coming.  John still has to work in NYC that day.  I am running here and there wrapping gifts, going grocery shopping, sprucing up the house, all the while watching our little kids.  But when John comes home I find it very important for all of us to put our energy and focus on preparing our hearts for the real reason for the season.  This is our third Christmas Eve at Jacobs Well in North Brunswick.  I love that Pastor Reid allows the whole family to sit and be a part of the service.  The kids get to worship with us, they get a bag of snacks and a craft book to keep them busy during the sermon, and they aren't expected to be silent, because we all know kids are noisy!  Of course we all do our best to keep quiet during the quick sermon.  It's so nice to just sit as a family and be together with all the other families!  I love it.

One gift

Christmas Eve we let the kids open one gift!  Usually its new pajamas, or a new coat, or maybe some fun slippers, sometimes it was even a family movie we could watch.  It's just something special we like to do before going to bed and it will keep the kids super excited all day knowing they get to open a prize, as we call them, a day early!

The big surprise

We don't put gifts under the tree until the morning of Christmas.  The kids don't know where we hide all of the gifts.  We just keep our secret stash to ourselves.  And no, santa does not bring them gifts.  Daddy and Mom have worked way too hard plotting and planning and saving to buy them their prizes, why give all the glory to SANTA!? Plus, John fully believes in telling the truth to our children.  (They even know the tooth fairy isn't real)  Before you get mad at us...just so you know, my children are forbidden to tell any other child that santa isn't real.  We would never dream of spoiling the fun for another family.  It's our little secret.

Christmas pajamas

Every Christmas morning we wear Christmas pajamas until noon!  Okay, this may not be a big deal to you, but for me (type A personality here) it is a huge sacrifice!  But it is rather comfy cozy!

Christmas brunch

My family comes over early christmas morning to open presents, and eat with us.  We've been doing this since John and I got married 12 years ago.  My mom and dad always make it light hearted and fun for us.  And it's really nice seeing my two sisters and spending the morning with them.  We eat waffles, bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit, french toast...whatever breakfast foods are carbalicious and tasty...we eat!  Then we all relax and watch the kids open gifts and we play with our new gadgets, play a board game or two, and just share how God has blessed us the past year.

McInerney Celebration

After my family leaves, we get dressed and head to our second Christmas celebration with John's side of the family.  One of the beauties of living close by everyone is being able to share the day and see all the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and this year the COUSINS!  Julia, Mark, Micah, and Amelia have twin cousins finally...Ava and Nik!  We are so blessed this year.  Three new babies were born in 2014!  My in-laws now have 6 grandchildren and that's pretty good since they only have 2 kids!  

The McInerney's have a feast awaiting us...turkey, ham, pasta, wine, and all the fixings, and grandma sue always bakes the best desserts...crumb cake, cheese cake, and plenty of christmas cookies from Aunt Laurie.  We love playing LCR and other family favorite games.

Our tradition after bedtime

By the time we head home, tuck everyone in, and put all the gifts away, we are exhausted.  John and I crack open a bottle of wine, sit by the fire and just relax.  This year we will have a new fire place to be in front of, just another blessing that God has given us.  I still can't believe we have survived four kids and a move this year.  I'm feeling very much at peace and content.  Life is crazy busy, but I'm sharing it with an awesome team mate.  God has been so faithful.  He has kept us happy, and healthy, and surrounded us with some really great people to share life with.

So, that was Christmas Team Mac style...what are your traditions? why are they important? How has God been faithful to you this year?

09 December 2014

The Mommy Ministry

What does it take to be in a ministry?

When I taught at a private school as an elementary school teacher I knew ahead of time that teaching was going to be my ministry.  I was getting paid peanuts compared to most school teachers even though I worked the same hours as public school teachers.  But that was ok. I wanted to do it.  I enjoyed every minute of it...even parent teacher conferences, and back to school nights and field trips...ok maybe not field trips (s-t-r-e-s-s-f-u-l).

But I loved my job. It was my calling.  I went to work early and came home late (life before kids).  I even did aftercare programs, and book clubs because I really wanted to get to know the kids better, be involved, and grow as a teacher, plus the extra money was nice.  I wanted to teach.  I loved my students.  I was ALL in.  I told John all the time I would teach for free.

Then I became a mom.

And I had NO IDEA how much this "motherhood" job was my ministry.  I mean I didn't expect to get paid, but a break every now and then would be nice.  You don't get sick days.  No one says thank you...I mean they can't even say thank you yet.  You just do all of this "stuff" because you want to touch their heart for eternity.  You cook for them, clean up after them, drive them to the doctors, bathe them, stay up all night when they are sick, teach them the alphabet, right from wrong, how to add, subtract, tell time, count money, save their allowance, how to share, and how to be kind.

Maybe I was naive but I didn't realize that a ministry would be this hard, or this tiring or even super frustrating.  Sometimes you think it's always going to be awesome, that there won't ever be bumps in the road.  You really think it's always going to be happy go lucky and finding a rainbow in every meadow, and when you don't find your rainbow, or you don't get much sleep, or you realize your ministry is a lot harder than you ever expected it would be...sometimes you want to give up, or check out.

Lately, I've just been praying all day long.  God, help me in this situation.  Lord, help me to be patient.  Jesus, please give me strength.  Have you ever felt so tired, so spent, so emotionally drained that you couldn't rest?  Like there was just so much to do and feel you couldn't even stop your mind from going a mile a minute?

I've been reading a book called: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.  And guess what?  She has 4 children too...two boys and two girls.  She lives in Tennessee with her husband and is involved in Campus Crusade and with women's and singles ministries in the US and overseas.  

I know that God has designed motherhood to be a "deeply meaningful role," but sometimes I wonder is it okay to want to do more when my kids are so young?  Sometimes I feel like I was made for more than motherhood.  I miss having a career, a pay check, a dream.

Today, God spoke so clearly to me through our guest speaker at MOPS.  Today I learned that I have been having a DRA...

A dirty, rotten, attitude...

And I was glad for her honesty, her advice, her guidance, and her direction.  She pointed all of us right back to God's Word.  She let us know that our roles as moms are valuable.  She reminded us that it's not about "us" and that we are held accountable for our response to others, especially to our families because so often they get the short end of the stick.  She was sweet, she was honest, and she was vulnerable as she shared stories of how life was like when she raised her 5 kids who were close in age...3 boys and 2 girls.

Hearing her speak today gave me so much encouragement that this is a season...that God has a plan for my life...that I am still allowed to dream, but that right now while my kids are young it's my turn to minister, and bless, and invest in their lives.  It's my job to do it with joy.  It's my choice and even though this ministry may be difficult it will be just as rewarding as my teaching ministry (if not more so since I have these 4 children of mine since birth).  How lucky are we as mothers to bring life into the world, watch it grow, and be a vital part of their growth?  It's a ministry for sure.  

I'm thankful for veteran mothers out there who encourage us newer moms and younger moms that are still in the thick of the raising and growing of little people.

So, what does it take to be in a ministry?

It takes a lot of dedication, hard work, and right thinking.  Instead of having a dirty rotten attitude I am going to embrace my ministry, ask for God's help, trust that His plan is better than mine, and love the heck out of my family! 

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