Friday, December 30, 2011

Alexander Values for 2012

As most of you know, Paul and I are planners and organizers by nature and we have even planned out some family values that we'd like to try and instill in our little monkeys! Now, we know that life surely does not go as planned; but we revised out family statement and hoping to be a bit more specific, beginning in 2012! Of course we still believe in our family statement that "God created the Alexanders to love Him, imitate Him and serve others first." But we have added another section. If we could have one wish for our kids or a snapshot of what we want them to grow into.........this would be it. Our desire is that the Alexander family:

Would listen to God's voice and obey Him (through His word and prayer), put others first, and attain a self-confidence in their identity that reflects God's image and a life-style that reflects what He created them to be/do.

What more can a mother and father ask for? Now that we have a target for them, it allows us to aim for something that is meaningful. Part of that is adapting a common language in our home. These are top statements that our kids will hear until we die.

Alexanders always tell the TRUTH.
Alexanders show COMPASSION to everyone.
Alexanders are RELIABLE. We keep our word.
Alexanders use SELF-CONTROL, no matter what.
Alexanders are HUMBLE. We don't brag or show off.
Alexanders are STRONG. We never give up.
Alexanders make WISE choices. We reflect Him.
Alexanders like to have FUN!

A Peek at 2011...........Top 10

A New Year means a Fresh Start. Imagine if there was never an end or beginning with years and months kept going and going?? God certainly knew what He was doing by giving us 12 months at a time and then allowing something new to begin again. As humans, I believe we need a fresh start, an opportunity to begin again. Each December, I begin to fill out my new calendar with birthdays, anniversaries and important dates for the new year. As I skimmed over 2011, I was amazed at all the transitions that took place. I found myself flipping back to the month of February of last year......can't believe it's almost been one whole year since our path changed in Atlanta. Even though there were some tough moments and difficult challenges to maneuver, I was able to find lots of blessings that also took place last year. So, here is the Alexander top 10 list of memorable (whether fun or challenging) for 2011........

10. Girls learn how to ride bike without training wheels in about 15 minutes
9. Experiencing snow days in ATL (out of school for 1 week)
8. Ringing in the New Year with Jason and Jacqueline Barieau!! Whoot Whoot
7. Driving with a dog, guinea pig, and 3 kids in mini van from ATL to PHX
6. Spending Halloween and Thanksgiving with Nanna and Pappa
5. Spring Break in ATL with the McGinnis Clan!!! Best time ever!
4. Closing on our house in Gilbert, AZ 1 month before Paul lost his job! LOL
3. Being Fired for 1st time ever.......from a church! crazy!!
2. Celebrating 15 years of Marriage and going to Hawaii!
1. Being asked to come serve at Sun Valley Community Church in Gilbert, AZ

So there you have it! Our lives in a nutshell in 2011. Bring on 2012!! What is in store for us?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Teeter Totter of Materialism

Balance, balance, balance. Why is that so hard sometimes? I'm so cool and calm all year about spending and buying toys for my kids...........I just don't do it. Then Christmas comes and yikes!!! It's so hard!! My 7year old daughter asked us for an i-touch and I about had a heart attack. Paul calmly looked down at her and responded "Kennedy, I don't even have an i-phone.....dream on." We give the kids 3 gifts on Christmas morning. So, it takes some serious thinking to decide which 3 gifts to give them. They do get stockings too and those have some pretty cool items but then that's it! Just 3 gifts!!! No Santa gifts under the tree; just 3 gifts from mom/dad and then some gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. I"m not gonna lie; it's super hard to stick to that agreement but I'm glad we do that. I'm so inclined to buy every cute thing out there for my kids.
Christmas isn't the only time in life to keep that balance. It's challenging all year. Each time we have company over, the kids want to give away a toy or some trinket from their room. Sometimes they go into their piggy banks and give their friends money. A few years ago, when they first started doing this, I was inclined to step in and politely ask them not to give. But then I realized that there isn't a toy in their room that they can't live without. They are just toys! They aren't always so giving when it comes to 'eachother', but so glad to see them sharing with their friends. Glad to see them letting go of their possessions so easily. Wish it was always that easy for Paul and I.
Two experiences that stick out in my mind and remind me to chill out, happened last year. We were at a friend's house and my kids were wrestling on someone's 'new furniture' and it bothered the owners greatly. I couldn't help but wonder what on earth the couch was there for. When kids visit our home, I try and remember that it's more important that the guests feel welcome than my house remain in perfect condition. People are always more important than my stuff. Another situation was when Linc. wanted to hold an older boy's book last year. The mother bent down and whispered for the boy to put it away cause Linc. would probably break the book. Wow! I know kids do have valuable possessions and keep those put up from toddlers. But when we encourage our kids to hold tight to those simple things that can easily be replaced, what will happen when kids have something more valuable, like money? Will they share it?
Of course these are random experiences and I'm sure both situations can be properly defended to the death; but generally speaking, you get the point? I think we can always find an excuse to hold tight and keep things to ourselves. It's hard to let go, share at all costs, and play adults. Our kids are direct reflections of us, often. They learn from us. We can be amazing teachers...if we want :)

Santa or Not

Well, before we gave birth to 3 wonderful kids, we "knew everything about parenting"; so we decided that we would not celebrate Halloween or do Santa. Okay, so 8 years later.........we trick or treat and allow our kids to leave cookies for Santa and sprinkle oatmeal/glitter on the lawn for the 8 tiny reindeer. Do we celebrate Santa? No, not really. Do we believe he is from the devil? No, not really. It's been interesting to see our opinions and customs evolve over the last 8 years. In fact, Lincoln LOVES to go see "Ho Ho". He calls Santa the "Ho-Ho" and it's pretty stinking cute. However, this year Linc seemed to be a bit disappointed with Santa; and because he has my sense of smell, he picked up on some beef and cheese whiffs. After he leaped down from Santa's lap, he said "Mom, Santa Sinks!!" which means, Santa Stinks! I guess he smelled like beef and cheese, as in the movie Elf!
Our kids have always been told the truth. Christmas is about the birth of Christ and Santa does not exist. Do I regret omitting Santa from Dec. 25th??? Sometimes. Whether you celebrate Santa or not, the important thing is that the kids walk away appreciating the birth of Christ, not just knowing that it happened. Santa can be fun, like anything else that is magical and/or pretend. It's just a matter of balance and moderation. As parents we get caught up in the minor details and can become distracted in any event, whether it's Christmas, bdays, Easter, or just plain old life! The birth of Christ can be celebrated every day of the year, not just Dec.25. We love the Jesus Story Bible cause it is always pointing the reader back to the coming of Christ. Everything we do with our kids including cooking, riding bikes, arguments, bdays, shopping, funerals, cleaning rooms..........whatever it is..........there is always time to talk about Christ and what He is doing in our lives today. So Santa or not? Does it matter? This year we want to take time to appreciate the birth and the resurrection in all we do and in all we have.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What Did You Say?!!!

Isn't it amazing what flows from the mouth of a child? Good thing I'm writing these quotes down, cause no one would ever believe me. I keep a little journal in my desk and write down quotes as the kids spit them out. They don't know that I write them down and can't wait to share them later in life. Then, at the end of each year, we put together a calendar for the grandparents with pictures and quotes from the kids. It's unbelievable. Not only do I journal, but the girls each have a journal too. They occassionally put them out and write down what they are thankful for. It's on-going and lasts every day of the year. The hope is to get 1000 items in each journal by the time they are teenagers. Lately, they've been writing some pretty cute things in their journals too. So here are some quotes and journal entries.......straight from thier mouths/hearts.

"Next week when I'm an adult, I'll charge my husband to go get me a coffee and muffin too!" Kennedy

"Mia, you can't be selfish all your life! You have to share with your sister!" Kennedy

"Relax Lincoln. Anything that you want....I'll get it!" Mia

"I'm not afraid of anything....except the dark!" Mia

"Man! I"m growing so big.....right now!" Lincoln

"I'm going to get very very mad if I go to timeout and I'm going to break your heart!" Lincoln

"I'm thankful for Dad; he tucks me in every night." Mia

"I wish I could turn time back." Kennedy

"I see the sun coming through the clouds and I think it's God's glory showing through- and the angels are returning." Kennedy

"I'm thankful that C.S. Lewis made the Narnia books." Mia

"After exercising, I'm going to throw up!" Lincoln

"I saw a dragonfly and so I piped up my courage to go and get it. He wanted to be my friend." Kennedy

"I'm thankful for Mrs. Clemson for buying me a banana at school. Everyone else had a cupcake and I can't eat them cause of my allergies and I had nothing." Kennedy

"I don't like when your muffins taste like earwax" Mia

"When no one is around and I have to obey, I feel something inside of me tell what to do- it's the Holy Spirit." Kennedy

"I'm thankful that I got sleep with my mom's blanket." Kennedy

"Why doesn't God talk to me now, like He did with Moses? I want to hear his voice now!" Mia

"I'm thankful for cake!" Lincoln

"I not a baby anymore...I'm a big boy! I'm a man!" Lincoln

"You know me, Mom! I'm an Alexander and I'm going to be okay!" Lincoln

After 15 Years and He is still Sexy, Inspiring, Interesting, and My Best Friend

It happened. Someone randomly walked up to me today and asked me an interesting question. She said "You're a pastor's wife right? Even though your husband is a pastor, does he still drive you crazy? Cause mine does!!" Well, I barely know the person but decided to just let it all out. I said "yes he does, but we still love eachother and selflessly work at it each and everyday. Marriage is so very hard!" We then began to converse about marriage and why her's was so difficult at the moment. She was open and transparent and I really appreciated that. Hard to get that from most Christians; but a complete stranger was being vulnerable with me and I was eating it up!!
After 15 years, does he drive me crazy? I think we both have days where we drive one another bonkers......kind of like a brother and sister. It's not mean, bitter, or full of spite. It's just 2 people living together who happen to be selfish. But yes, going to Hawaii with him and celebrating 15 years was worth it; and we are growing closer each day. I am still very attracted to him. I find his messages and dreams to be inspiring. I love our conversations. They are not filled with meaningless words and ideas of coexisting. They are words that touch and change our hearts. Conversations about changing lives, kids growing up, taking care of the less fortunate, helping our friends, and sometimes full of heated disagreements. At the end of the day.........we have learned more about one another and chosen to be on the same team. At the end of the day........he is still by best friend and I can't wait to go on another trip in 5 years!! whoot whoot!

Who Invites Their In-Laws for 5 Weeks?

Most of my friends thought I had gone clinically insane because we invited my in-laws to stay for 5 weeks. The most common response was "their not staying with you a hotel, right?" Well, after 15 years of marriage, many vacations together and many 2 week visits in the same home.....we decided it was time to spend some more time together. The fact is, both our families live on the other side of the country. Might as well live in Africa cause none of us can afford to come see one another as often as we'd like. We can understand and appreciate how much the grandparents mean to our kids! The LOVE their grandparents and let's be honest.....grandparents are not around forever. We want our kids to soak up as much wisdom and time with their grandparents as possible. Now, I have to admit; we have amazing grandparents. Living together is not as difficult as it could be. Things are not perfect; but we pretty much respect one another's boundaries and appreicate the time together.

The visit was filled with trick or treating, craft projects, sewing together (Nanna and girls), long walks to the park, teaching kids how to ride bikes, P.F. Chang visits, bday celebrations, Christmas shopping, tree decorating, Thanksgiving cooking, snuggles in the kids' rooms, late nights of card games, hot tub talks, putting up lights, making ginger bread houses,wrestling with Pappa, reading with Nanna, and many other endless memories. One just can't put a price tag on the memories that were created last month. We will all treasure those moments forever.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adding Up the Letters

Funny how letters are so infrequently written and texts and emails are abundant and endless. When was the last time you received an actual written letter or 'snail mail'? I enjoy receiving letters from my kids..........yes, the ones who still live under this roof! They will occasionally leave letters for me. I will find one neatly tucked up next to my sink, sure not to miss it. I thought I would publish a few since they are so stinking adorable!

Today was a bad day but I will fix it.

Okay, so this broke my heart. Yes, it was a full day of kids arguing, endless time outs and many talks.

Dear Mom,
Thank you for your note. I enjoyed it. I love you. gust for your inforemation- I love you more! Don't even copy me when I say I love you more. have a fun fall break. well, the rest of it. by by.

So yes, I save these notes and hide them away in my Kids' Book of Quotes. I
often pull it out and read the quotes and letters; it's good for my soul. Here is one last letter that KK wrote to Mia, right after we moved from Atlanta, back to Phoenix. Talk about a whirlwind for my kids!!!

Dear Mia,
I know your scared of going to church. I am but all you have to do is sit next to me at church or just stay home.

This one made me laugh. It took Kennedy about 6 weeks before she would go into her class without crying. She so desperately wanted Mia to go with her, but Mia in in the 1st grade room. It's not smooth as butter, but much better today.

Love to see my girls write about their feelings!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hiding Among Us

"It is the hidden heart, not the selfish heart, that is hardest to change." John Ortberg. How true this statement is. What is really going on in Mia, Kennedy, and Lincoln's hearts?? Only He knows. I'm constantly praying over their little souls and begging for His molding and shaping to take place, regardless of my ill-parenting. I'm hoping I'm always fortunate enough to know and understand their hearts, their passions, and my kids' fears. Hoping their hearts are never hidden from me. I love this age cause they hold nothing back and let everything go!! Kennedy has no shame in collecting bugs, Mia says everything outloud and Lincoln expresses himself in his gestures, voices, and touch. This is a great moment to be living in.

Breaking Away to the Mountains

Again, one of my favorite vacations and it was virtually free and simple. We escaped to northern Arizona and stayed in a friend's cabin. Thanks to their generosity, we were able to steal away and have some family fun. Each day the girls woke up to check their cardboard mailboxes for fun prizes. I stashed up at the Dollar Store. We went for a hike in the rain, had hot cocoa, a fire, watched new movies, played Corn Hole, played at the park, ate Red Devil Pizza, and played Uno Attack! The best part was having a fire at lunch time and roasting hotdogs and then putting kids to bed while we played Corn Hole and drank some ice cold beverages. Watching my girls explore the outdoors and thrive was vacation enough for me. We love to be outside, soaking up the fresh air and drinking the warm sunshine. Looking forward to many more vacations like this one.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yes, We Had a Guinea Pig Birthday Party

Kennedy insisted on a birthday party for her beloved guinea pig, Prince Terrian. So, we shaved carrots, peeled apples, and put together a salad of delight for the great Prince. We took pictures and had a blast. The best part was when daddy stepped into kitchen to find a scorpion staring him down. He froze and asked for a weapon. Instead of giving him the cutting board, I decided to smash the sucker myself. Well, I guess I threw the board a bit too hard and parts of the scorpion went flying towards daddy. Well, he freaked and knocked a glass off of the bar and we spent a few minutes cleaning up pieces of dead scorpion and broken glass...LOL

Books, Doors, and Paper Glasses

I can' believe how fast my kids are growing up. I found this sign posted on the girls' bedroom door the other day. They are making signs to keep their little brother out. It's like they are pre-teens or something. They even made one for Lincoln's door. Not only are they making signs but reading like crazy. Kennedy is reading through all of the Chronicles of Narnia and reading each book within 2-3 days. I think the librarian doesn't believe her.....LOL. Their school has a program called Accelerated Reader, in which kids read book and take reading test. Well, this is a great way of keeping track of their reading levels and how many words and books they have read. Kennedy, the only 2nd grader in her school, is trying to read 1,000,000 words this year. There is a Million Word club but it's mostly accompanied by 4th and 5th graders. Well I told KK I'd give her $20 bucks if she accomplished this massive goal; both sets of grandparents agreed to do the same. So, KK is saving up to buy another American Girl Doll and she is already at 400,000 words!! Everytime I turn around, she has a book in her face. I love it and Mia is starting to do the same thing. Speaking of Mia, she has been wearing these paper glasses and they just make our hearts melt. She couldn't look any sweeter!

And He's Preschool

Well, my baby has survived the first quarter of preschool and is loving it. He awakes each to ask if it's a preschool day. He is then very disappointed when it's not a preschool day. He loves his teacher, Mrs. Delongchamp. But most of all, I love how he says her name. He walks in and yells "hey 'delongchamp'!!" Oh gosh, gotta love him. When he is at home, he will randomly comment that he 'loves Mrs. Longchamp'. I love that he is comfortable and loving his preschool.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You Must First Kiss the Frog to Become the ..........................

I believe each and everyone of us share many things in common but one of the most revealing character traits about humans is PRIDE. John 3:30 says "He must increase and I must decrease" Phil. 4:12, Paul states that "I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound." Isn't it true that God does His best in us when we are truly broken before Him and feel as though we have nothing to offer? We must first come to a point in our lives where realize that, without Him, we do have NOTHING to offer. Read these statements about Proud vs. Broken People and see what side your heart falls on. I found myself in the proud side, more that I had hoped. So it's true, you must humble yourself and 'kiss the toad of humility' before you enter the Kingdom as a growing and maturing Prince/Princess.

Got this from a bookmark that was published by Revive our Hears by Nancy Leigh Demoss
Ps. 51:17 The sacrifices of God are of a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thous will not despise

Proud People = pp
Broken People= bp

pp focus on failures of others, bp overwhelmed with sense of their own spiritual need

pp have critical, fault finding spirit; look at everyone else's faults with a microscope, but their own with a telescope. bp are compassionate, can forgive much because they know how much they have been forgiven

pp are self-righteous, look down on others, bp esteem all others better than themselves

pp are independent, self-sufficient in spirit, bp have a dependent spirit; recognize their need for others

pp have to prove that they are right; bp willing to yield the right to be right

pp claim rights; have a demanding spirit. bp yield their rights and have a meek spirit

pp are self -protective of their time, their rights and their reputation. bp are self-denying

pp desire to be served. bp are motivated to serve others.

pp desire success. bp are motivated to be faithful and to make others succeed!!

pp desire self-advancement. bp desire to promote others

pp have a drive to be recognized and appreciated. bp have a sense of their own unworthiness, thrilled that God would use them at all.

pp wounded when others are promoted and they are overlooked. bp eager for others to get credit; rejoice when others are lifted up

pp have a subconscious feeling, "this ministry/church is privileged to have me and my gifts." they think of what they can do for God. bp heart attitude is "I don't deserve to have a part in any ministry" they know that they have nothing to offer God except the life of Jesus flowing through their broken lives.

pp feel confident in how much they know. bp are humbled by how very much they have to learn

pp are self-conscious. bp are not concerned with self at all!

pp keep others at arms' length. bp are willing to risk getting close to others and to take risks of loving intimately.

pp are quick to blame others. bp accept personal responsibility and can see where they are wrong in a situation.

pp are unapproachable or defensive when criticized. bp receive criticism with a humble, open spirit

pp are concerned with being respectable, with what others think; work to protect their own image and reputation. bp are concerned with being real; what matters to them is not what others think but what God knows; are willing to die to their own personal reputation.

pp find it difficult to share their spiritual need with others. bp willing to be open and transparent with others as God directs

pp want to be sure that no one finds out when they have sinned; their instinct is to cover up. bp, once broken, don't car who knows or who finds out; are willing to be exposed because they have nothing to lose

pp have a hard time saying "I was wrong; will you please forgive me?". bp quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness when necessary

pp tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin. bp able to acknowledge specifics when confessing their sin

pp concerned about the consequences of their sin. bp grieved over the cause, the root of their sin.

pp are remorseful over their sin, sorry that they got 'found out' or caught. bp truly, genuinely repentant over their sin, evidenced in the fact that they forsake that sin.

pp wait for the other to come and ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding or conflict in a relationship. bp take the initiative to be reconciled when there is misunderstanding or conflict in relationships; they race to the cross; they see if they can get there first, no matter how wrong the other may have been

pp compare themselves with others and feel worthy of honor. bp compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for His mercy.

pp are blind to their true heart condition. bp walk in light

pp don't think they have anything to repent of. bp realize they have need of a continual heart attitude of repentance

pp don't think they need revival, but are sure that everyone else does. bp continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with God and for a fresh filling of His Holy Spirit

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Caught in the Grip

Remember when you were growing up and someone would yell "hey, what are YOU staring at?!!" It would happen when your body froze, jaw slipped down, and your eyes went into a lazy tranz. Often you were off on another planet but appeared to be staring at the individual who was now poking you. I find myself just caught in my kids grip. I am completely mesmerized when they get to conversing and playing. Have you ever just become totally invisible in your kids presence and you find yourself soaking up their spirits as they flutter and fleet within the moment? The other night Kennedy got out of bed for the 10th time and came into my room. I was just sitting on my bed reading and Paul was in the kitchen blogging. My initial thought was to send her directly back to bed but for some reason I laid down my book. She just wanted to chat. She went on and on telling me how "she felt close to nature". She had been exploring in the backyard that day and was feeling especially cognizant of her earthly appreciations. Surely she is a scientist in the making. But anyhow, she went on to discuss lots of her feelings. She told me that she couldn't wait to grow up because "she could go to Starbucks whenever she wanted, spend money, and have kids.....having kids would be the fun part!" Oh my. I was completely overtaken with all the things she was saying and watching the rise and fall of each eyebrow and the flicker of all her sandy eyelashes protecting her chocolate eyes. I wanted that moment to last forever. I hoped she would sit there for an eternity. She leaned against my legs and just casually released all her dreams and aspirations. They floated up into the air like fairy dust. I was caught in her grip. It happens with all my kids. Either Lincoln is explaining to me how much he missed me while he was at preschool, or Mia singing one of her new songs about "Jan World" as her deep blue pools of blue captivate my soul. Capturing that moment and seeping in their countenance at that perfect time, hearing their sweet voices, and having the time to just relish the memory..........priceless