Tag Archives: being a mom

1,000 years

Here I am again. Back to sending off a kindergartener, one of my boys who will never be home all day with me again. Perhaps you remember this post from 3 years ago…

I really, really, really didn’t think I would be emotional this time, and honestly I’m not (well, mostly:) ). However, I decided to go in and look at Elliott after he went to sleep on Kindergarten Eve like I did with Trevor. All these images of him flooded my memory like that Father of the Bride scene (which, by the way, my dad swears he still sees when he looks at my sisters and me. :) ) I remember when Elliott was three and I would say, “you’re my boy Elliott!” and he would reply, “you’re my girl Mommy!” I thought about all the times when he all out punches and attacks Michael when he pretends to “get” me. Elliott is my defender, my Knight in shining armor, my true little superhero. He’s passionate, which when he is angry means he is my little ticking time bomb. But I love that about Elliott, and I know God will shape that passion into great things for his future.

There is something bittersweet about Kindergarten. Elliott is an old five- he turns six in a couple weeks, so he and I both have been ready for Kindergarten for a while now. :) But as excited as we both are, there’s still a heart wrenching ache knowing that this is it. He never again will be home with me all day every day. I nurtured him, prepared him, taught him, and helped him grow for nearly six years, and now I send him off with a piece of me.

I am so thankful for the three souls I have been given to nurture. And in all honesty, I find that THEY nurture MY soul. They have made me less selfish. They have made me learn to embrace God’s plan for life instead of my own. They have taught me that life is designed to move along, not stand still, but to run with joy in each new step.

Whenever the song, A Thousand Years, comes on I tell the boys, “This is my song to you! I have loved you for 1,000 years!” To which Trevor replies, “Mom, you haven’t lived 1,000 years.” :)

But it’s true. The love I have for them gives me even just a glimpse of God’s great love for me. It feels like there was no beginning to it and there will be no end.

So here’s to you my Elliott, my kindergartener, my middle medium boy- may you know God’s love deeply and convey His love to others. May you be a light on a lamp stand, and the salt of the earth bringing out the God flavors of this world.

I have loved you for 1,000 years and will love you for 1,000 more. :)


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P.S.  These videos might be the death of me someday.  Two computers, 1,000 cables, and my blog host helping me with server issues later- video is up. This is where my stubborn determinedness comes in handy! Plus, it means so much to Christina who kept asking me when I’d have a video made.  Just kidding, I love the finished product too :)



Oh, “thefacebook.com”.  (haha, Tyler…)

How fickle I am with you.  I love you and your skill at keeping me up to date on what people are cooking in their crockpots and what they are washing their floors with, but I hate you for the competitive spirit you grow within me that I try so desperately to snuff out.

I love you for showing me pictures of my long lost friends, but I hate you for making me feel like I have to keep up with the Joneses.

I could go on.

But, in all seriousness, I like when I find serious and thoughtful questions posted by my friends. Larry, who I respect greatly, posted this question and I _seriously_ thought about it for hours and hours because I wanted to answer it just right.  Answer it just exactly how my heart really felt, but yet was so hard to put into words.

“What do you wish someone told you about being a parent?”

Oh my.

I knew I would love my child.  I knew being a parent would be ‘great’.  I knew that it would be sad when they left home forever.

But I didn’t know how deep my love for my child would actually be.  How my whole heart would ache for them to be strong, healthy, and happy.  How I would willingly sacrifice my whole self in any way possible to help them.  That I would conquer all my fears so that they would feel safe and secure.

I didn’t know that I would check to see if my sleeping newborn was still breathing multiple times a night.  Then still keep checking when he turned 1…and 7.  I didn’t know that I could jump out of bed to the smallest cry to soothe him, while only going on 1 hour of sleep myself.

I didn’t know just how unchanging my love would be for him. I would be spit on, hit by, yelled at, told NO by, talked disrespectfully to, and told I wasn’t their friend.  I would be cuddled with, slimily kissed, and told they loved me to the moon and back.  And the same hands that pushed me away, would reach up for me saying, “Mama, hold me?” and my love would grow even deeper.

I didn’t know that I would take on all their passions as my own, fighting in their corner, ready to “mother bear” anyone that tried to mess with them.  How I would launch into attack mode when anyone or anything tried to snuff out their Joy.

I didn’t know that my favorite Willow House hurricane would get shattered and my nicest Express shirt would get cut during their “art” project cutting phase, and that I would just think: “Eh, I’ll just go to Goodwill and find something new.”

I didn’t’ know that I would never _feel_ like I great Mom, that I would constantly be praying for God to grow me and keep enabling me to choose humility and extend grace.  That I would reach for every parenting book (albeit, not usually finishing them all) and research each new parenting craze.

But most heart wrenching yet heart thrilling to me: I didn’t know how desperately I would want them to know and love the Lord and bring Him glory in all that they do.  How I would regularly cry out to God to draw them to Himself and to meet them right where they are.  How I would pray that the Lord would enable me to hold them with open hands to Him and trust that He is sovereign, all the while knowing most of their growth will come from pain.

See, here’s the thing.  My love fails.  Yet, it is one of the deepest loves I know, the love I have for my sons. God’s love is unfailing.  For this beautiful relationship between a parent and child to even give us a glimpse of God’s perfect love for us makes me love Him, revere Him, and be overwhelmingly humbled by His faithfulness to me all the more.

Thank you, Larry. ;)

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The Great Scott Hodge says: “Change of Pace + Change of Place= Change of Perspective.”

I have to agree.

Recently I was gifted a [rare] day of relaxation-at the spa-with no children. :)  I was so excited for the time of pampering, but if I’m going to be honest, most of all a day free from whining, tattle telling, and baby butt wiping.  I arrived at the spa the minute it opened and stayed to closing.  I brought my journal and Bible and was eager to soak up some time alone and time with God.  I climbed into the pool and stared up at the sky and something unfamiliar happened- it was still and quiet. It felt odd!

This is what I journaled:   “I’m sitting here in the pool- there is no splashing, no whining- no one needing my help… This is how it will be 20 years from now…to forever.   Don’t wish these hard stages away.  They are temporary.”  I sat and pondered that for a while.  So often (very often) I rush through the day just to check things off my list.  How often do I talk with my children, not just talk at them?  How often do I think “if only they were a few years older, then ____ would be so much easier”….(hello grocery shopping and fine dining!)

It was convicting.  I was so thankful for my time away to be rejuvenated, but God helped me appreciate the chaotic little voices in my normal day to day life much more.  This stage of life is hard, and I don’t want to pretend that it is not, but I AM going to be more intentional about being present in the chaos- not five steps ahead in the future.

I kept looking at the sky at the clouds and watched them move (I HAD TIME TO WATCH THE CLOUDS MOVE- perhaps I was overly zealous with my newly found “me” time) :) and I pondered them.  And I noticed, clouds don’t just collide, they absorb each other.  So I thought about that more…How do I let God absorb me or where do I collide with Him?  How do I let Michael absorb me? My kids?  My ministry?  I wrote: “Yes, I need to replenish myself with time alone with God, food and sleep.  But other than that, I need to be willing to sacrifice myself wherever there is a selfish desire- I need to give myself away. ”

I still am going to seek time away from Michael and my children, still going to watch Netflix at night and still share with my girlfriends how the mundane wife/mother duties make me want to punch someone at times.  But, this cherished time by myself gave me new perspective.  This stage is hard, but every stage is hard and every season is a new opportunity for growth and to know my God in a deeper way. I’m going to try and pay attention to the small moments each day, and be less focused on the bullet points that get me to the next milestone.

Change of Pace + Change of Place= Change of Perspective.


Oh man, I’ve let a lot of time slide on here.  Here’s a quick summary of the past half a year:

-Simon turned one (and what a cute christmas cookie/hot chocolate themed party he had)

-Michael started to shave his head.

-The tooth fairy came to visit (and sometimes forgot to come to visit) several times in one month.

-my sweet nephew, little Cayden, (if that isn’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is.  The kid is 6 months old and 25 lbs) was born.  My sister Christina and I have very realistic hopes of him forming a band with my boys somewhat along the lines of The Jonas Brothers.  Or at the very least their own super Glee club.

-we hosted our 4th annual Birkeneder Brunch on Christmas Eve

-the boys helped Grandma Lanie tell her traditional story of the 3 kings and their gifts to Jesus

-the boys obsession with building forts started

-I lost 20 lbs.  Albeit, most of it was due to having meningitis.  But if I can put any positive spin on that wretched disease I will, so therefore I’m thankful for the weight-loss plan.  And that having it may have saved my close friend’s mom’s life.  (Her story: http://copelandcraziness.blogspot.com/2012/03/hope.html )

-our good friends from Texas came to visit and our boys were smitten

-Grandpa Bob came to visit

-the boys got all spiffed out for Easter

-we regularly practiced for our own glee club. (see reference above)

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-we were given an awesome Bible book.    If you’re looking for a good Bible summary book for children look no further.  The Jesus Storybook Bible is awesome. A friend of ours gave this to us a while back and we started reading it to the boys every so often.  I love it! Each story is a part of God’s rescue plan- each character pointing towards the Great Rescuer.  I’m not kidding, I don’t think I ended a single chapter without my eyes (and heart) welling up with tears of joy as we imparted these truths of God’s love for them into our children’s hearts. The stories came to life to me (the adult!) through this children’s version.  And the boys love reading it!  Each story is a piece of the Great Rescue- and being so into good guys/bad guys, sword fights and battles-the setup is very appealing to them.

Tonight we finished the final chapter, and this page struck me:

(from Revelation)  “I see a sparkling city shimmering in the sky: glittering, glowing- coming down!

From heaven.  And from the sky.  Heaven is coming down to earth!

God’s city is beautiful.  Walls of topaz, jasper, sapphire.  Wide streets paved with gold. Gleaming pearl gates that are never locked shut. 

Where is the sun?  Where is the moon?  They aren’t needed anymore.  God is all the Light people need.  No more darkness!  No more night!

And the King says, “Look!  God and his children are together again.  No more running away.  Or hiding.  No more crying or being lonely or afraid.  No more being sick or dying.  Because all those things are gone.  Yes, they’re gone forever.  Everything sad has come unture.  And see- I have wiped away every tear from every eye!’

And then a deep, beautiful voice that sounded like thunder in the sky says, “Look, I am making everything new!”

You know the part in movies where there’s a big crescendo of music and the good guy wins and everyone celebrates and your whole soul just cheers while watching it?  I told Michael recently that I think that is what heaven is like all the time.  Always that sense of victory, that everything is finally as it should be.

When I read this to my children my heart swelled and tears filled my eyes and hope engulfed me.  Whenever I have those moments, they’re my God moments.  Its like the Lord is washing over me and I sense His presence and I trust Him.  I don’t really understand heaven and I certainly don’t understand the mysteries of God, the infinite Creator.  But I do trust Him and believe Him to be faithful to do what He says He will do.  And each time I have one of these “moments”- where my while body gets goosebumps and my soul feels inexplicably overwhelmed- its a tangible reminder to me of His presence.

I love how this book ends.

“And he knew then that the ending of The Story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem like just a shadow that is chased away by the morning sun.

‘I’m on my way’, said Jesus. ‘I’ll be there soon!’

John came to the end of his book.  But he didn’t write ‘The End’. Because, of course, that’s how stories finish. (and this one’s not over yet.)

So instead , he wrote: ‘Come quickly, Jesus!’

Which, perhaps, is really just another way of saying…



Birth Story

I haven’t blogged in a while.   I have had so many things stirring in my heart, but I can’t seem to find how to organize my thoughts!  Hopefully I’ll be able to write something soon.  I have to be in a certain “zone” to blog. :)

I have been pondering a lot the love of a mother.  The moment I knew I was pregnant with Trevor I began to willingly sacrifice all that I am for him.  I gave my body during pregnancy (and my fountain diet coke).  :)  As my children continue to grow outside my body, my whole heart aches for them to know the Lord, love Him with all of their hearts and bring Him glory.  I resolve to give them my time, talents, energy- I know I would give my physical life for them if needed!  (I know all you moms can relate and are nodding your heads right now.  Or probably even crying thinking about it- that is what I’d be doing…)

Anyway, it dawned on me- man, if I’m this crazy about my sons- my mom must feel the same way about her daughters!  It made me in awe of God, yet again.  How perfectly He designs not only creation, but life in general.  Mothers pour their lives into their children from generation to generation in a beautiful cycle.  And what a reflection of the perfect Father’s love for us!  Oh!  My heart is full and continues to stir. :)

So all in all I asked my mom to write my birth story for me.  I want to have a better insight into her love for me from before the time I could even understand that love.  I have such deep love for her, especially from the perspective of now being a mom myself. She has such wisdom to share with me, I want to soak up as much as I can!

My birth story….

Dearest Jennifer Joy,

April 8, 1984. How little any of us ever realize what one day really holds…how God uses one small event in an ordinary day to open eternity and change life forever.

I was married to a wonderful man. My soulmate. The love of my life. Extraordinary joy. Strength. Fulfillment. We were so excited to welcome this new life into our lives and become a real family. I looked at Bob’s sleeping face, so peaceful. I felt sleepy myself, but 33 weeks of baby was pressing on my full bladder. My feet looked so swollen. 55 lbs and much water weight gain had taken its toll on my then small-framed body. My face seemed puffy, even more than recent weeks. The doctor had put me on strict bed rest. I had gained 10 lbs in the last week, all water, and my blood pressure was rising. It’s hard to imagine the kind of information we have flooding into our lives and brains on a daily basis now. 28 years ago this wasn’t the case. A little oblivion relieved Bob and me of much stress. This being our first baby, we had no idea that most pregnancies don’t go like this.

But then I saw it. Blood. Oh no. Lots of blood. This I knew, not normal.

“Bob. I’m bleeding. Something’s wrong with our baby.” I felt frightened, and confused. He cleared my mind, called our parents and rushed me into the car. He drove at rapid speeds hoping to attract a police escort. 15-20 minutes to the hospital flew by. The rest a blur. Wheelchair. Doctors. Bright lights. Emergency room. Sonogram (“please don’t tell us, girl or boy”). Heartbeat. Good. Our four parents, frightened, worried, “we love you Julie, everything will be ok!” Toxemia. Pre-eclampsia.

Dr. Uma Ramakrishna. A wonderful doctor. Intelligent. Skilled. Kind. Compassionate. Courageous. A gift from God.

“Julie, you are in labor. Your baby is going to be born soon, unless we can slow it down. I hope to stop it completely.” Bob and I were in shock. What? We were just looking forward to baby showers! Lamaze classes begin this week! Our nursery isn’t ready! Our baby’s not ready. We’re not ready. Bob and I hold hands and don’t let go.

“Please save our baby, Dr. Please don’t let anything happen to our baby.”

I didn’t know God then. I knew of God. But I did not know that knowing God personally was even possible. A little background…I am grateful to God for choosing the parents and family He chose for me. I am grateful my parents took us to church, and helped us learn about God as they did the same. We heard about God, we sang songs about God, but we never really learned much about His Word, the Bible. It all seemed very distant and impersonal to me. Bob grew up in a different church. He knew so much about the Bible, he loved Bible stories. As a boy, he hoped to become a pastor. But through college years, he began to question God and searched out various religions. We went to church together and seemed to think God and church were important. I believed God had sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for the world. I felt sorry for Jesus, as if He was a victim, and did not realize Jesus is God, and He willingly chose to die for me personally. I look back and realize specific times God was drawing Bob’s heart back to himself and softening my heart to draw me close to Him also. This was one of those times!

We began to cry out to God. I told God I knew I did not deserve His kindness nor forgiveness (I grew up learning/thinking we somehow must earn forgiveness and salvation, that if we prayed enough prayers and the right kind of prayers or if a priest interceded for us, all would be well; I had no idea that Jesus Christ is our Sympathetic High Priest, the perfect and only Mediator acceptable to God and that simply believing Jesus died for me personally and rose again to give me new life was the only way, God’s chosen way to be forgiven and enter into personal intimate relationship with the Lord). I knew I was steeped in sin, but I begged God to save our baby. I knew deep in my heart, that if there was a God, He was the only power that could rescue our baby. I begged God, I pleaded with God to mercifully save this life. I bargained with God. He could take my life, but I begged Him to please spare the life of this baby.

And then the roller coaster. The medicine worked! No contractions. No bleeding. But hospital. Nurses every 2 hours. Blood pressure. Blood work. Endless. I learned to get used to needles really fast once pregnant. That escalated and became my new normal. Our parents were frightened. My visits and phone calls were strictly limited. Complete rest, the doctor said. Bob went to work early in the morning, and returned about dinnertime every day. He looked so tired. I missed him. Loneliness set in. Pediatric specialist recommended they move me to a Chicago hospital. I begged my doctor not to move me. I needed Bob. I needed my family. Loneliness and fear mounted. Then it happened. Tuesday night my water broke. Labor returned. Dr. Ramakrishna stayed with me all night, sure the baby would come. Medication kicked back in. We kept praying. The doctor asked us if we would trust her to do something risky…but she hoped it would buy the baby some time so her lungs could mature. Dr. R kept me on antibiotic to prevent infection to baby and me and ordered my blood to be drawn every two hours for the remaining days to monitor that closely. She also did something Bob and I could only imagine being done in the jungles somewhere…siphoning out amniotic fluid to test it daily. Bob was a trooper, driving that amnio fluid back and forth to a specialized lab daily. The baby’s lung development was the highest priority. Next, the doctors wanted her to weigh at least five pounds.

Saturday, April 14. My mood changed. From lighthearted, hopeful laughter, I grew lonely and depressed. Sad. Fearful. Alone. God have you forgotten us? I missed Bob. I missed seeing our families. I felt afraid for our baby. Dr. Ramakrishna called, “the baby’s lungs have matured!!! Your baby can survive, he or she will be healthy!” I felt overwhelmed with gratefulness to a God I did not yet know. He had changed this course. He was rescuing our baby! I could not stop thanking Him. A few precious friends and family came to visit me that evening, they snuck in all kinds of yummy treats. I remember pizza and Fannie Mae pixies. Oh oh, unwise mix. I began to feel sick. Dr. Ramakrishna came dressed in full Indian style, radiant from an evening out with her husband. She confirmed at 8 pm, labor had started. Again. Intense immediately. I remember thinking, “if this is the early stages of labor, and contractions are this fast, this hard, this intense, I am never going to make it!” We were in this lovely labor and delivery room, soft lights, soft music, but we didn’t stay there long. About 10:15 pm, I had to push. They told me, no Julie, it’s too early to push, don’t push. Seconds, minutes seemed like forever. Dr. Ramakrishna returned, I was dilated to 10, none could believe it.

But something went wrong. Dr. suspected something. Whisked me into surgical delivery room. Bright lights. Sterile. More IV’s. Wires, cords, attached to me everywhere. Dr. Bob. Me. Two nurses running in and out. Nothing peaceful. Medical professionals working profusely to save our baby, and save me. I began to feel drugged. Confused. 10:57 pm. “It’s a girl!!! Julie, you have a baby girl!!” Bob kissing my face and thanking God. I just kept saying, “A girl. We have a baby girl!!!!!” I only saw her, touched her for a moment. But my life was changed forever. God. Goodness. Gratefulness. Five pounds and one ounce. Breathing on her own. Immeasurable grace. Mercy. God became real.

The nurses whisked Bob and baby away to the nursery for warming. I knew he would be a wonderful father! Dr. Ramakrishna became anxious. She worked tenaciously. I heard “I don’t want to lose this uterus!” ” She’s losing too much blood!” And I began to understand the seriousness of the situation. The drugs that had been used to miraculously delay our baby’s birth were now preventing my uterus from contracting back down, and hemorrhage was occurring. I became more and more drugged and delirious. But God had a plan. A plan that included two more sisters for this beautiful girl, to be born from this same mama. He intervened again that night. He used Dr. Ramakrishna to stop the bleeding and save my life.

Two days came and went before we named Jenni. Jennifer. Or Bethany. Everytime I held her, I could not let her go. She was our gift from heaven. God creates every life. Every life is a gift from heaven. But He worked miracles to save her and allowed us to know just how actively involved He was in this precious daughter’s life. She was beautiful to us in every way. We never knew a love like this until we gazed into the eyes of our child. If we had known then what we came to understand later…Jenni’s middle name would have been Grace. But Joy fits her beautifully. She brought us joy that we never knew possible. A radiant joy that flows from her heart. A true reflection of her Lord Jesus Christ.

Jennifer Joy Birkeneder Zielke. April 14, 1984. 10:57 pm. God sent you as a light, joy, an ambassador of peace to link us to Jesus to link us to Him. He is good! He is God! He saved my life, through yours. God revealed Himself through you.

Everytime I see you, hear you or think of you, my heart is filled with joy. I thank my God because of you!! I will never stop thanking Him for you. Nor will dad. We love you, Jennifer Joy!

I love you forever.
Humble and grateful to be,
Your Mom

Another year

Thanks to our friend Pamm Taylor, we had Trevor’s hands and feet casted when he was three months old.  We found them in one of our “memory” bins and all loved comparing the hand sizes.  I couldn’t help but shed a little tear!

Then I stumbled across this little gem in Trevor’s school journal from Kindergarten.  What a privilege it is to be these three boys’ mother, and I am thankful for the treasured relationship with each.  (I’m praying we are always close friends…I promise often that I will be a rockin’ mother-in-law to their wives!! :) )

Another August, another year of school.  This year we sent TWO off to school!

Our star first grader!

Our super preschooler!

Someone once said to me, “The hours seem so long, but the years go so fast”, and I couldn’t agree more.  Mothering my three boys has been the most challenging, rewarding, draining, amazing, frustrating, heart filling job God has given me.  It daily brings me back to my knees realizing I can only do it through God’s enabling (and my husband’s support).  The minutes of the day at this season of life may be exhausting most days, but I strive to do it with joy and humility because before I know it, they will be gone.


Then what can stand against

“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?

And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?”

Almost two years ago now, Michael and I felt really led to pour into the city of Aurora.  (See our initial thoughts)  Now here we are, two years later, right smack dab in the middle of where we felt God’s leading.  And I have had times of uncertainty where I needed God to remind me of His calling.

Fear can be a sneaky little thing.  It can rob you of your joy, it can mislead and deceive.  If I am not regularly seeking God’s voice, I easily slip away from what I know God has shown Michael and me. I begin to let fear and the desire to be “like everyone else” overtake me. When “everyone else” goes one way, it makes it so much harder to go the opposite. 

I realize that God has a different journey for each family, but very steadily and very clearly God has directed my thinking again, and brought me back to His heart for our family.

I love Aurora.  I love the diversity, I love the unique community, but most of all I love it because it has become the unlovable.  So many times Michael and I have heard things like “stay away from Aurora, the gangs are there”, or “go anywhere but Aurora for schools, the ratings are terrible”, or “it’s so dirty there”.  Instead of fleeing shaking our hands, shouldn’t we go to this place deemed unworthy and make it better?  Embrace it?  Love it?  “Be the change we want to see in the world”?

Not fear Aurora, but LOVE it.

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”   1 John 4:17-18

As this has been stirring in my heart, I have been doing Isaiah lessons that I missed during the year while on maternity leave.  The FIRST one I did, God filled my heart with His presence.

In Isaiah 36 (and 2 Kings 18:1-16) during Hezekiah’s reign, Assyria had attacked and captured the cities of Judah.  Assyria’s field commander sent the people of Judah a boastful, threatening message basically saying that God cannot save them and Hezekiah was deciving them in thinking so.  He taunts them repeating over and over not to listen to Hezekiah, that God cannot deliver them and their trust in Him in worthless.  He goes on to promise plentiful food and drink, and bountiful land if they surrender and turn their backs on their god.

Hezekiah’s people had a choice: to trust God would do as He said He would and deliver them, or to go with the Assyrians willingly and abandon their calling.

This was exactly where I was.

Was I going to trust God would carry my family, or was I going to willingly surrender to the taunting and let fear dictate my path?

For me, the hardest taunting is when it has to do with my kids.  The dreaded “low scoring Aurora schools” issue.  But you know what?  I’m okay with the low ratings.  When I think about my grown sons going out into the world, the number one thing I desire for them is that they know Christ and bring Him glory.  Michael and I are intelligent -for the most part :) – and involved parents, who look for ways to come alongside our children on a daily basis to foster their growth and learning.  But their intellect and academic excellence is NOT is what drives my heart for them.  I want them to love people- all people, not just people “like” them- and to embrace diversity.  And that I believe is the heartbeat of Aurora.

Later that day as I was letting God’s words flood my heart, I read this blog post by someone I have come to highly respect and be encouraged by through her blog, besozo.wordpress.com:  Betchya your kid is smarter than my kid

I could not have said it better!  God used Bre’anna’s writing to be an incredible encouragement to my soul and confirmation to what He has called our family to do.  Academics are great, but morality and character development are so much more…

The cry of my heart is for my children to fall so deeply in love with the Lord that everything they do displays His splendor.  In Aurora and beyond.

Peanut Wilkie Zielke

Way to go Annette Boatright for finding this onesie for our little Wilkie. :)

Simon, you are 7 months old!  The last two months have been filled with new and exciting things in your world.  You have two teeth popping through, but they are taking their sweet time.  Which makes you very sad at times!  Your budding sense of humor is a riot.  I think you’re like Daddy…it is hard to make you laugh, you don’t think just anything is funny.  But when you do laugh it is our favorite thing!  The whole family gathers around to watch. :)  However, you think Elliott is absolutely hilarious.  You always laugh for him!

You recognize your name and your brothers’ names.  When we call Trevor or Elliott you look for them, and you have a huge beaming smile when they enter the room!  This warms my heart.  I love that the three of you love each other so much already.

You surprised us by crawling way earlier than we thought you would!  All of a sudden one night you were determined to get the iPhone and pulled yourself along on the floor to get to it!  Just like a little sea lion. :)  Now you’re all over the place.  My favorite is when I’m taking a shower and come out to find you in our closet.  Hahaha!  Boy do you love cords and electronics though!  You can always manage to find those in the room.  You’re giving me a run for my money at childproofing since I haven’t done it in 4 years!

You like all kinds of foods and you’re easily soothed when fussy if I just put a bunch of cheerios or fruit puffs in front of you.  Watching you use your chubby little fingers to grasp each tiny one and find its way into your mouth (or at least in the vicinity of your mouth) is amazing.  I could spend an hour just watching you do that! :)

My favorite thing is your joy is still very much alive.  Even when you’re crying in your crib, you manage a huge smile behind the tears when I come in to get you.  Your joy is contagious and I pray often that no one ever steals your joy from you.

I love you Peanut Wilkie Zielke,  Eyeball Smart, Simon Isaiah!  You are a joy and a blessing!

Wild Things .1

I stumbled across this book and was crazy about it immediately. I mean hello, I live in the land of boys, came from the land of girls and have no idea what I’m doing. And check out the cover- it has to be good with a cover like that. So I read some reviews and bought it and three other ‘raising boys’ books.

That was a year ago.

Now here I am a year later finally picking up the book. I’ll just be honest and lay it all out there for you…I always have good intentions with books. I go on a book kick and buy several, (usually on Amazon because the super saver shipping on $25 purchase gets me every time) start to read one, then lose momentum and shelve all the rest.

I brought this book along with me to our annual trip to the Zielke cabins in Corny, and started reading it by the fire one evening. I.LOVE.IT. Right away I started spouting out quotes to Michael’s mom who was sitting by me. :)

I want to chronicle my thoughts so I can refer back to it often, hence the .1 in the post title. I might do up to .10 or I might continue in my book pattern and this will be my only post. Only time will tell. :)

But here are some of my FAVORITE things so far…

  • “All children are a divine gift.  Boys are no exception.”  (Can I get an Amen?!)
  • “Boys bear a unique image of our wild, playful, and imaginative Creator.”  (I love that illustration)
  • “How boys are nurtured directly affects who they will grow into as men.”
  • “How boys are designed often requires a different approach from what we would take with girls, if they are to find their way and mature into noble men.”
  • “Boys are (more than) a little squirrelly- but a whole lot of fun.”

So I am on my way!  All the way to chapter two!  Haha!

More thoughts later, xo


A first grading we will go

Trevor had a folder he took two and from Kindergarten every day this year that carried all his work and correspondence to/from his teacher.  We started with a shiny bright folder.

This is what he brought home his last day.


I had a little laugh when I saw this.  But as I continued to work through the pile of school paraphernalia, I came across this:

And my heart had a little tug on it.  Remember this post?  My initial thought was, uh oh.  But then as I kept staring at the title of the folder, a flood of memories of this past year came rushing over me.  I thought of how God has strengthened Trevor to be bold and independent and truly flourish in school.  I remembered one time when I was helping in his classroom, I watched Trevor as a quick, confident, funny little boy interacting with his teacher and peers and I thought, “Wow, this is my son!”  I was in awe of how God has really blossomed him and carried him through his first year of school.  Sure, Michael and I encourage him at home, but who he was when I was watching him in class that day was all God.

It wasn’t until I looked at this yellow pocket folder until I put that all together.  A reminder from God that He alone carries Trevor, He is with Trevor, and He already knows what is ahead for Trevor.

So to first grade we go.