Saturday, July 26, 2014

New and Improved website for Bird In A Tree Blog!

Attention! If you are looking for NEW posts from Bird In A Tree Blog you can kindly visit www.birdinatreeblog.com and enjoy the new and improved blog! Thank you so much for stopping in here on blogspot at the place where Bird In A Tree first started! You will still be able to read all past posts here!

Thanks!
Katy 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Potty training, book review and the Gospel.

Oh what a week! I've literally fallen asleep earlier, faster, and more deeply then I ever have. This week has just been stinking exhausting. I've been potty training Lily this week. So that translates into:

-So much urine. So. Much. Urine. (yea I said urine on purpose, because "pee pee" makes it sound like it's less gross. It's not less gross when it comes from your own child, it's just less avoidable when it comes from your own child.)
-Juggling bored-out-of-their-minds little boys who are looking for some negative attention if it's all they can get.
-Cleaning, cleaning cleaning.
-Emotional energy to cheer Lily on, to congratulate her, and finding the balance between correction and emotional support when she has accidents. (Lord, help her. She is just like me, she HATES it when she doesn't do anything everything perfectly on her own.)
-So much cleaning, and yet never enough.
-Patience.
-Poop.
-No going out. AKA no having fun.
-Coming to the end of myself....riding the cycle of "I"m not a good mom" all the way back around to "Thank you Jesus for your grace."

I've been reading the book Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home by Gloria Furman. It has been the perfect week for her gospel reminders. I wish I could share all my highlighted quotes and passages from this book but a couple stand out and they have pushed me away from my week and into the arms of Jesus...so I think that's worth sharing.

"But something inside me said that controlling my circumstances wouldn't fill the void in my soul. You can't organize your way into communion with God." Furman, loc 928

This ^ was crazy convicting to me. Organization and tidiness in my mind are the keys to a meadow of happiness and rainbows. I LOVE a well cleaned kitchen like a pig loves slop. But I can't control my way into the presence of God and I can't scrub my way into His Peace. I can't earn His love with a million gold stars on a million charts. 

"We have opportunities every day to delight in God. We're surrounded by the circumstances he has ordained for our sanctification. God's grace to us in Christ gives us assurance to follow him where he leads, even when it's into awkwardness, hard work, and pain." Furman, loc 876

-Hard things are often the best things (or in the case of potty training...the necessary things). Always so good to be reminded to delight in God and to keep a grateful heart that He would desire to sanctify me.

So if this was a book review...which I guess it's kind of a potty training review and a book review oddly rolled into one...I give it the highest thumbs up. Well better put, this book is encouraging me in the midst of potty training, and that's saying something.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Unfaithful Swingsets



This morning we woke up to a flood. Our (at least) yearly backyard flood from the creek behind our house struck again! We've seen it sweep away our play/swing sets last summer, but it didn't matter a whole bunch partly because we were in shock and also the kids weren't really old enough to enjoy it yet. But this morning, I was just short of devastated when I saw that our swing set had disappeared and our little plastic climber thing was wrapped around a tree next door. Unlike last time, this time around I'm not so naive to believe that our plastic swing set could survive an upheaval of that magnitude unharmed. We were able to repair the swing set to a point of reasonable safety the last time. This time I just really doubt we will find it in one piece.

*shaking my metaphorical fist* Darn you stupid rain! Darn you stupid flood! Darn you...playset. You stole my heart in one hundred moments of swinging and imagination and you didn't have the gumption to stay. I know it's a silly thing to be upset about, not to mention both pieces were generously handed down to us by friends. We haven't lost any money on our end, the flood didn't seep into our home. But that little booger of a swing set...when it sailed away it broke my little mommy heart. I tried so so hard to remind myself that we have so much to be grateful for, that in the big picture of the Kingdom our swing set is of little consequence, and that God is even sovereign over Lyric, Lily, and Fletcher's childhood (even if it does have to be swing less and that seems like a tragedy to me). But honestly, it wasn't until my husband turned his computer screen toward me and my coffee which was becoming cold, that I felt better. He found a swing set that we can afford in the relatively near future  and looks sturdy enough to be loyal to the family that dadgum loves it and gives it a home. Tsk tsk old swing set.

I hate that flood.
 ~and by the way I hate how freakishly long thunder rolls are around here...it just splits the nerves of us gals from Tornado Valley...at what point in world's longest thunder roll do I decide that wait...that is actually a tornado and I need to scoop three children from their beds upstairs and go hide in the basement? Oh wait....I would have been Dorothy-ed by that point. So. Annoying.~

But I've been relishing today's temperatures in the 70's on the first day of July and the sweet smells that permeated the air after the rain fell. I also finished a wonderful book today (the second one in two and half weeks, that's a record for me!) called A Broken Kind Of Beautiful. So today has had it's ups and downs. Now excuse me while I go hunt for a mangled swing set. 


Friday, June 6, 2014

Don't Dress Modestly




Ah life in the summer. Isn’t it glorious? Well if you are a reader in the Midwest you definitely think so, but if you are reading from my native homeland of Texas…you probably have mixed feelings. In the past couple of years I’ve noticed an Internet trend that arises with the onset of summer. The modesty posts. Perhaps it was a video or a cleverly written letter, or just a straight up old blog post…but we all saw those, right? Well here’s my version of just such a post. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Transformation Tuesday: Peter

Transformation Tuesday!

I’m starting a new blog series called Transformation Tuesday. One Tuesday per month you will find stories of transformation on Bird In A Tree. I’ll talk about all kinds of transformation, relational, spiritual, physical—really anything is up for grabs! For this first installment I wanted to feature Peter…as in Peter: apostle of Jesus Christ. I love Peter and I think he is perfect for the first TT post because he is so radically transformed!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grace & Getting Away With It

“Don’t play with the lamp.”
Click, the lamp turns on.
“Stop touching, it…now.”
Click, the lamp turns off.
“I said stop and then you touched it again. Now you have to get a consequence.”
“But I was just trying to help you and turn it off so it wasn’t on anymore.”
“This time I’m going to show you grace and I’m not going to give you a consequence. But next time you don’t obey the first time there will be a consequence.”

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Indoor (Survival) Activities

So being a writer who can't look at a computer screen is problematic. It's kinda frustrating, but out of my fear and trembling of another migraine I will not look at another computer screen today. I can tell my brain is still...tender. So I'm sitting here audio recording my next blog like a dweeb. Yes, a dweeb because nerds have become cool and I really really don't feel cool right now. But nevertheless, I've been thinking today about what indoor activities I do with my kids. A friend asked me recently to make a list and post it, and after my poor husband had to be stuck inside alone all day with our three littles I thought it might be a good time to share a survivors guide to indoor activities with little kids.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Keeping My Head Down

Remember that time that I love Easter a lot but I didn’t really tell anyone that there was an Easter post on the blog? Usually I share on all social media outlets whenever I publish a new post to the blog. But getting the word out was the last thing on my mind this year, I was too busy with a great Easter weekend and family time to remember to “share.” I haven’t checked yet, but I’m willing to bet that only a few people saw the Easter post and my stats were low, but it’s a price I gladly paid. Being present is so much more life giving than being popular.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter is here




It’s Easter. It is here. He was He is exactly who he promised he would be. More than that! He is who the prophets promised he would be! He is who God promised he would be! Easter is TRUE. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

You have sorrow now, BUT

Sometimes I just feel like giving up on this whole writing business. And with Easter approaching I somehow feel like if I skip out on my Easter posts, then I’m done for good. I can’t imagine a world of writing without an Easter post in it. So since I’m not giving up on writing just yet (I feel like this has to be a normal writing torment right?), here we are.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hosanna!/Crucify Him!

Today was glorious. It was glorious. Everyone was worshipping. Everyone had joy. Everyone knew we had been given a gift. Not everyone was aware of it, but you’d be hard pressed to find a soul in our community who wasn’t exponentially more joyful. Today creation held church and worshipped and invited us to join in our backyards and on bike paths and at parks and in cars, with windows open and homes refreshed. Today was just a Saturday.

I can’t help but imagine that this is what the weather was like for the Triumphal Entry. I love that people were so eager to praise and bless and honor Jesus. They grabbed their coats, whatever they had and they covered the way for him. They waved palms, which was symbolic of victory over an enemy. People expected Jesus to overthrow a government, but he had so much more victory waiting for us.* This is what we think of when we think on Palm Sunday, yes? A picture of joy and worship and expectations that would be far exceeded. But Palm Sunday should also serve as a warning for us, a cautionary tale of sorts.

Those people who crowded the streets and yelled “Hosanna!” they were the same people who yelled “Crucify him!” only a short time later. Did you know that? That’s crazy right? It seems absolutely asinine that people could so passionately swing from one extreme to the other. But friends, it could have been us. It still can be us if we don’t guard ourselves. You know what the difference was between those who stuck with Jesus and those who wanted him dead? True honest-to-goodness belief. People who "worshipped" him on (what we call) Palm Sunday did so because of what they heard about him around town. They celebrated him because of what they thought he would do for them. They celebrated him because they thought he might be the next big thing. Their adoration was fueled by motives about two inches deep. And when it stopped looking good, when the glamour had faded, when Jesus didn’t meet their vain expectations…that adoration crumbled. If our worship of Jesus is something to make us look better, if we use him to fit in, if we base our belief on our own plans…our insincere adoration will crumble too. And what’s most sad is that sometimes we don’t stop long enough to see that what we are offering is artificial, sometimes we even have ourselves fooled.

I want to be the real thing, to know down deep in my gut that no matter what I LOVE him and I live to see him gain glory upon glory. I want to have a growing disdain for “what makes sense,” for what can be controlled by me, for what I have planned. I want to live in complete trust, trust that grows my love and surrender to whatever God has. Come what may, I won’t find myself standing shoulder to shoulder with the status quo.



*I used the ESV Study Bible for historical insight and highly recommend it!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Release



We make life hard for ourselves at times don’t we? In a culture driven by self-motivation, ambition, and the American Dream…sometimes we get really caught up in our own minds. We start believing that the way we think is the best way, the way other people think is likely less enlightened than our way, and view everything through a critical lens. Everything is sifted through the tight filter of our preferences and our assessments. It’s so tiring. Wouldn’t it just be easier to let go for a day and let life be simple, to choose to enjoy rather than to evaluate. Releasing the constant strain for the potential perfection we have concocted and breathe in grace. Grace is here, now, illuminated by the imperfections and flaws and mistakes that engulf our reality. Don’t stop being who you are, but be the truest of who you are. Enjoy the fullness of who you are in Christ.

If you’re a thinker, think through grace and dwell on joy.
If you’re a free spirit, embrace grace and put down comparison.
If you’re straight laced, stand on the tension between what has come and the glory that will be.
If you’re just getting through life, look up at the clouds and be moved by the worship that even nature proclaims.
If you’re bruised and beaten, take heart. He has overcome the world!





Saturday, April 5, 2014

Love & Friendship

So I guess I’ll just keep writing about Jesus and either this blog will just eventually dwindle down and die or ? I know don’t even know the other side of that equation. Sometimes I feel so frustrated that we are so obsessively application oriented (myself included). Why are the viral posts and articles all about our roles? Why can’t we just enjoy community by way of enjoying Christ together? Is it that hard for us to look beyond ourselves and marvel at Jesus? Is it that hard to lay down my preoccupation with me?

Today I was reading in John 15 and realized that I’ve glazed over this so many times…
         “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

(John 15:12-17 ESV)

I’ve never stopped to really think through this. I’ve always just seen it as an instruction like “if you love me, do what I command” (which is still true), but I’ve never stopped to think about what happened before that. Jesus literally gave his life so that we could share friendship with God. And so now he is saying “look that’s what the love of a friend compels you to do. It compels you to lay down your own life. So stop doing life your way. Give up your way out of love for your Friend, and live God’s way. Enjoy a friendship with the only friend who has ever gone the distance to love you.”

That’s worth a thousand “Dear young mom” or “What I wish I knew” viral blog posts. I can live wholly and completely through that kind of love.




**I don't think that viral posts about women's roles or marriage or family or anything are bad. In fact upon publishing this post I'm reading through my blogroll all about cooking, marriage, ministry, family, and fashion. I just want to push past the surface temporal things periodically and know my focus hasn't changed. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Self-Preservation, Anxiety, or Jesus

Sitting down to write when you have no idea what you want to say. What a drag. So instead of conjuring up some halfhearted attempt to say something…I’ll be writing what I’m learning. I’m reading through the book of John right now, along with other women by using the IF Equip website for morning devotions. Lately I’ve been thinking about preservation, more accurately self-preservation. Jesus escapes those who want to arrest him and stone him time after time after time. Something he just straight up walks away from an angry mob, sometimes he hides but he always gets away. But then… Judas. Through him came the most life changing betrayal of all time and Jesus saw it coming. The bible is clear that Jesus was acutely aware of his betrayer. Yet, he does not preserve himself. Jesus even sends Judas out on his evil errand in John 13: 27. Why hadn’t he saved himself at this, the most crucial moment? Well that’s because although he may have escaped mobs and persecutors in the past, it wasn’t out of self-preservation. Every time he escaped it was to the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel. And the same is true as he is “caught” and murdered. He stayed and waited and was willingly captured for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel. Not even for the spread of the Gospel, for the fruition of the Gospel. He didn’t seek to preserve himself at all. He gave it all. And until it was the time for him to give himself for us, he anticipated that he would. He carried around the knowledge of his torture and death while we ministered. He carried around the knowledge of his torture and death even as he shared dinner with Judas. If Jesus doesn’t prove that we can truly lay down our anxiety for God to carry...nothing does. He didn’t self-preserve and he didn’t live in fear, he did the third thing. He humbled himself, trusted God, and gave every ounce of himself for the Father’s glory.


Such a humbling call to live each day the same way.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bored with the Radiance of Jesus

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger it’s this: if you want to see your views at an all time low, just write about Jesus. Even in spite of my suspicion that a large majority of my readers love Jesus, the numbers don’t lie. A large majority of people are bored with Jesus. I know that sounds harsh, but like I said the proof is in the pudding. Now I’ve also come to learn that as a blogger, it is incredibly easy to be driven by yourself and your page views. It would be so easy to write on one of the other topics I love to write about (marriage, family, motherhood, crazy shenanigans, etc.) and then just sprinkle in a little Jesus. But the most important thing I ever promised myself and the Lord when I decided to do this writing thing was that when I feel compelled to write, I write. I won’t let fear or greed or insecurity hold me back and I won’t let ambition morph my love for writing. So as per my promise, here I am.

I know that sometimes people think Jesus is boring, because at times I know I’ve been one of those bored people. But the thing about it is, Jesus isn’t boring. Maybe what I think of him, how I enjoy him, or what I do with him is boring; but not HIM. Jesus was wildly unpredictable during his time on earth. Even the men and women who traveled with him and learned from him were terrible at guessing his next move. Jesus spoke with love and frankness, which is something I think gets lost within the niceties of Christian culture sometimes. He outrageously loved, to the point of offending all the religious people who were watching him. He had his choice of crowds full of people, and yet he chose to spend his time in the home of a fraudulent thief? He showed love and kindness to hookers. I don’t even know a hooker, so this is way outside of my sphere of experiences. I’m sure he constantly overhead whispers of “You just don’t do that,” and if he didn’t I’m sure that complainers found their way to his friends to leave their proverbial comment cards. The vibrant and exciting life that Jesus led for the sake of the Gospel makes it seem silly that we constantly want black and white answers for our growing lists of do’s and don’ts. Jesus saw and lived by the big picture while the people around him constantly had their head pointed straight down at the ground in front of them. As I read through the book of John I find myself wondering how Jesus didn’t snap out of frustration and yell “Stop being so scared that you are going to trip on a bump in the road and get your eyes up. You’re missing it!” I wonder how he doesn’t scream that to me while I’m patting myself on the back for being so good.

While I’m grinning at the handy work of the life I’ve built, Jesus waits for me to throw down my little lantern, to look up, and to run into the sunrise. Jesus doesn’t bother himself with nice things or acceptable behavior, Jesus lives richly, abundantly, graciously, faithfully, vibrantly….and he wants me to join him. Can you believe it? He desires to share his abundance with me. So for when we think maybe Jesus is just boring, I wonder, what is your answer to His invitation? Maybe we haven’t taken him up on his offer for new life filled with color and promise. Maybe we settled for something a little duller and a lot easier to explain to people. Because Jesus gives new life, and he brings the hope of glory to come…he doesn’t do boring. No matter how glamorous or how routine your life is, you have the opportunity to live it in excellence for the glory of Jesus Christ. It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about how you are doing it and who you are doing it for. It doesn’t matter where you are called, it matters that you are loved enough to be called at all.


Answer him, look up, and live in His radiance.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter Writing: The Last One

So tomorrow the forecast is right below that dreaded little line…the freezing line.  So I will write my (hopefully, please please please) last Winter Writing installment of the series. Thankfully I did find myself saying “That’s one nice thing about winter” just the other day.

The nice thing about winter is that when you go grocery shopping you can still stop at a friends house after, or get coffee, or go shopping for other stuff and not worry about your food spoiling. Winter (at least in the Midwest) is like living in a refrigerator or sometimes like living in a freezer.


And that’s all folks. That’s all the good that I could possibly muster out of winter. And I hereby promise that if it gets below freezing again…I’ll….well…I’ll….just go…and…get myself a brown sugar latte AND a scone. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear, New Parent

Is it just my “news” feed or has there been a humungous baby boom over the past few months? It seems like everyday there is another newborn and new parents to congratulate! That’s awesome. But with all the newness that comes with adding a member to your family….there are a lot of new things that parents just had no idea were waiting for them.  Alright, listen…no I mean….LIST-EN. This blog is meant to be wholly and completely ENCOURAGING.  I refuse….REFUSE…to take a stance or use this blog as a platform for my personal convictions to become some sort of judgment on other parents. After much much soul searching and conviction over the past 4 years I can honestly tell you that I DO NOT CARE HOW YOU BIRTH OR FEED YOUR CHILD. When I say “I don’t care” I mean I don’t publically or privately concern myself with your family’s decisions. I do care very much in the sense that a wonderful thing has happened in your life and I can’t wait to hear all about it as a friend. And I’m so happy that you found what works best for your family, that is indeed an exciting discovery! Now you that you know what this post is not, let’s get into what exactly this blog is.

Mommies and Daddies of new children,

Congratulations! I know you are so so overwhelmed by the love that just swelled out of your heart and all over your life recently. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, whether your child came by way of biology or by adoption, whether your new child is a baby or a walking, talking, child with a mind of their own, life as you knew it has turned upside down! There are three things that I want to say to you, with my whole heart. First, even though you are totally overwhelmed by love you are probably also overwhelmed by the total recall of your old routines and lifestyle. It is ok and normal to feel those conflicting emotions! It isn’t selfish to miss the freedom and sleep that isn’t readily available to you right now. Now that you are a parent you will forever live in this vortex of tension and conflicting emotions and desires. The vortex is your home now, embrace it. Seriously though, learn to live with a balance of continual sacrifice and continual blessing. And it is a balance, because if you martyr yourself for the sake of giving your child everything, you will find yourself at a breaking point and your child spoiled with an entitled view of life. If you continue to treat yourself as #1 and treat your children as accessories for your life, you’ll miss out and raise defeated children who chase love from other people because they grow tired of seeking it from you. Learn to accept the balancing act. You will come to count the minutes until bedtime and hold your breath until they sleep, but then you’ll sneak in their room and risk it all just to kiss their adorable little sleepy cheeks. The more you welcome the tension (versus fight it), the more content you will be. But all of us out here in the world of mommies and daddies know what you are feeling and we have all felt the same way! Becoming a mom or dad is a huge adjustment! Continue to nurture your marriage and your relationship with God, secure in the fact that strength from those relationships will propel you as a new parent. Do not ever fool yourself into believing that cutting corners in your walk with God or your spouse will give you more time or energy to be a parent.

My second piece of advice is this (mainly for mommas): DO NOT allow yourself to get sucked into pinterest, instagram, and facebook. Social media and the like have been the down fall of many a mother. First of all, most of us are posting the highlights of our day. The HIGHlights, not the low moments, not the boring moments—the best moments. Don’t compare yourself to that junk. Comparison is TOXIC. Listen to the women and married couples in your life that you love and respect, but don’t go on an unending search for the approval of all your friends. Trust me, living for others is exhausting and joy-stealing. Don’t read peoples rants online about the best yada yada and the only way to do so&so. People have been having kids and screwing it up for a very very long time. You know who got it right though? Yep. The one and only perfect parent-child relationship is the one we observe between God and Jesus. By grace we are invited in to receive the perfect Father in God, but we are far from perfect sons. “And from his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16) Walk in light and enjoy the richness of a life spent knowing Jesus. Continually come to the table for grace upon grace and you will be satisfied.

My third little tid bit to impart is simply this: You will sleep again. It does get easier. I promise. We’ve been there!


Friday, February 28, 2014

Let Them Love You


Austin and I are reading a parenting book. It is amazing and so convicting about so much more than the way we parent. But all this parenting stuff has had my mind so centered on what I am doing, what I am teaching, what I am enforcing, what I am giving, what my role is in the lives of our kids, but I realized that being their mom is not just about what I do. I think our society has such a twisted view of parenthood, they see kids as a burden that we have to reluctantly take on in order to complete the “American dream.” I even came across this video, which is made for comical purposes…but what does it say about our excitement to raise children and include them in our lives?

Disclaimer: This video does have a naughty word. So just...yea be mindful. Also, I don't want to convey any sense of "everyone should have kids now!" so just calm down. I appreciate all stages and seasons of life and don't think that being a parent makes anyone "better." OK. So just...calm down.

Why does society view family like this? Partly it’s because without Christ as the center of anything…it’s only driven by self-seeking “me” centered ambition. But partly, it’s because as parents we have all been guilty of seeking to vent and commiserate about parenthood (because it is really hard work!) and have left out all the good parts. Any mom could write forever trying to explain “the good parts,” but instead I’ll just tell you two little bitty stories. The first story is what led me down this trail of thoughts, which will lead me to the second story.

A few days ago, my kids were a couple hours into their favorite pass time: taking all the cushions and pillows off the couches in the playroom and making a huge pile out of them. They invited me to come down and get a ride on their cloud. So as I was almost literally floating on a cloud with my kids, I laid back onto my sweet girls lap and she started playing with my hair. She was so sweet and gentle; she wasn’t trying to get my hair crazy (which is always so fun); she was being loving and affectionate. She didn’t want anything from me; she just wanted to love on me. Then I remembered a time, the only time, Lyric had done this. There has been one isolated occurrence of Lyric playing with my hair gently. Usually he is either trying to make my hair crazy and weird, or he is trying to pull out a ponytail (because there was a phase when he would start crying and saying “Not like that mom! I don’t like your hair like that!” whenever I would pull it back. I guess it’s not my best look?) But during my pregnancy with Lily, I had migraines almost every day for three months. Eventually the migraines had three categories. 1.Full blown, take me to the doc and get me that shot that makes me puke and feel drunk…it would be worth it right now. 2. Definitely a migraine, but if I turn off all lights I can bear to lay on the couch and let Lyric watch TV all day long. 3. The beginning of a migraine, if I go and sleep and do my ice pack and Tylenol #3 (with caffeine) I think I will be ok in a couple of hours. I was in a category 2 migraine on this particular day. I laid on the floor and put my head on a pillow and just cried. I was in pain all the time and missing out on so much time with Lyric and Austin and I felt so lonely because I never felt well enough to go on a social outing. Little bitty 15-month-old Lyric toddled over and sat down right above my head on the pillow. As he reached out for my head I winced and said “No no buddy! Mommy is hurting.” But he leaned over my forehead and kissed me and then stroked my head gently from my temples to the back of my head and smoothed down my hair. He sat there like that and did that for ten minutes...that's a long time for a newly walking little boy. (and by the way, I’m totally crying right now writing out this cherished memory). I felt so loved by my son. I felt taken care of. I felt less alone. That little boy, my little boy…he loves me. He loves me so much. And I almost missed it because I was just being a mommy and didn’t think that he might actually have something to offer me.

Most of the time I’m spending and giving and working hard. And it is hard, parenting isn’t supposed to be a blow off thing. But during all my toiling their love for me is the strong and pure. And on occasion they minister to me and give and share and those moments are more precious than rare jewels. Don’t let parental exhaustion (whether it’s experienced firsthand, or you just witness it in your friends who have kids) overshadow the bliss and blessing that comes from cuddling with those little people who love with complete abandon, who us give their whole hearts and build their whole lives on us…their parents.

Recently after I said I had three little ones, a woman reacted by saying “You are a rich woman.” And she was so right. And I’m so sad that everyone doesn’t see it that way. Children are a rich blessing and not one that should be taken for granted. In the midst of your working…let them love you.




Thursday, February 27, 2014

YUMMO

Ok, here we go digging deep to find my inner blog post. (but take note, I always keep my promises! And today it was a frigid 31 degrees below freezing. THAT'S 1 DEGREE PEOPLE!!)

I appreciate winter more because in the winter I make chili more often.

Because I make chili often, I have made an effort to make healthy chili.

Because we started Whole 30 on Sunday I scrounged up our "last meal" on a whim Saturday evening.

Because I generally love black beans, they were in said chili which was frozen from a previous batch.

Because I also really love french fries, I made sweet potato fries.

Because I had a flashback to college, I wanted chili cheese fries.

And that friends is how I found the most amazing, healthy meal ever. EVER.

Turkey chili over sweet potato fries (when baked and homemade are healthy).

Turkey Chili Cheese Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Through Your Pain, We Love Him More

Have you ever been around some one who is going through something really hard. Like really hard. I’ve had the privilege of walking along side some friends in hard times and I’ve been walked beside and held up by some wonderful friends. In those times, if God gets the glory, doesn’t it just keep you coming back? Doesn’t it make you stop and wait and want to see more of God? As much as you don’t want those trials for the ones you love or for yourself…doesn’t it just make you thirsty? Doesn’t it just show you the most raw and gritty picture of the need and desperation in your own heart? Maybe I’m alone in this, but something about the closeness of Christ in those trials…it speaks to me.

When we go through trials, we find ourselves wanting to know that it’s going to help someone one day. We want assurance that God will actually be glorified. But the glory for God is already there. For those who are hurting and reaching and needing God, for those who are seeking and finding Him right where He promised He’d be…you’ve glorified Him. You have shown so much of the Gospel, you have magnified His name, you have helped us…by your pain. You have helped us by your steadfastness in the face of suffering. It wasn’t perfect or pretty, but it was real and it was honest and it was the widow’s mite. When you sought to love Him as life bruised and beat you, you showed us how desirable Jesus is for us everyday. When you were carried by God and rung out the tiniest bit of faith from your broken heart, you challenged us. Just because there are no speaking engagements or coffee dates or viral blogs to tell your story…you helped us still.



Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5, ESV)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Winter Waiting

Made it! By the skin of my teeth I made it. From now on I promise to write a post when it’s below freezing, except on Mondays. My weekend = Mondays. That’s my man’s day off, so for the next freezing Mondays let’s just call it a happy surprise if there is a post, k?

So when I took to finding anything else wintery that I am thankful for…I came up with a big fat nothing. But when I remembered that I promised I would write about something good that comes from winter, I came up with this…

Waiting. Waiting sucks, but waiting is good. (yea people it sucks, and I’m allowed to say that now and if you want refined writing check back during spring. Oh also, check back when I’m no longer on a 30 day whole foods only cleanse, I might have a bit more snark until then.) Waiting is not ever ever easy. Waiting is hard, but it’s engrained into every part of our lives. Sometimes we try to force things to happen now now now, but that’s not how God intended it. Look for like a millisecond at the Bible and you will find lots of waiting. Waiting for freedom, waiting for children, waiting for a Savior, waiting is what makes the true stories of the Gospel so compelling.

Here’s one thing waiting is not. Waiting is not a cliché little game that God plays with you to make the end result “better.” I hate that. I hate when people tell a mommy without a baby that her waiting will just make her love her future child that much more. I hate when people casually tell singles that if they get good at waiting the right way, that God will give them their soul mate “when they least expect it.” I hate it when a hurting person is disregarded because “they just need to be patient.” Waiting is good, but it isn’t easy and it isn’t a game. Waiting is personal and hard.

Here’s how we are blessed in the midst of waiting. We are blessed with the opportunity to press in with all our might to the One who ends waiting. Through waiting we can connect with the longing with which all of creation waited for the Son of God to arrive. When we wait with our whole entire heart thrown into a trusting and authentic relationship with Jesus, we come to know Jesus and experience his love in rich and emaculate ways. When we wait we are forced to learn the one lesson that, given the choice, we’d never choose to learn. We learn the gift of contentment. We learn that contentment is the only thing that makes sense in the light of all that we have gained, once we have gained salvation.


Waiting for the wretched awful winter to finally stinking end, will not make the spring better but the way that I wait will determine the quality of my life now, today. Because today, I wait.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's Sunday

So here's the deal, when you follow a pastor's wife's blog...Sundays you probably aren't gonna get a lot of meat. For substance...I defer you to yesterdays post.

Today it's below freezing yet again....I'm mustering up some sort of thankfulness or positivity and here's what I've come up with.

1. Cold weather makes ice cream less appealing. For an ice cream addict like me, that's a good thing.
2. Cold weather makes me wear socks all the time and use lotion from the tip of my toes to the top of my forehead sometimes twice a day...therefore my toes and feet look way better and don't need the pampering they do in warm weather seasons. Also, who cares if I get a pedi or not cause no one ever sees my feet!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

When All You've Got Is Jesus

  
When your drained and running on fumes, and the days are long and the winter is cold. Sometimes in those moments Jesus is all there is. When your spouse is crashing down from the week and your crawling out of this week’s pit, there isn’t a lot you can do for each other but hope to meet somewhere in the middle. When the kids are being kids and swinging on your mood swings, the patience runs thin and the energy is low. When the sunset is dull and the coffee is inadequate, then excitement is trampled and survival is the goal. When “run down” and “worn” and “thin” and “empty” are the only adjectives in your mind, where do you go from there?

In those moments, I’ve found myself thinking  “I guess Jesus is what I’ve got today.” I think that to myself as if it’s a bad sign, as if on the days where all I’ve got is Jesus—I’m defeated. But He answers me sweetly Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)

In Jesus all needful things are laid up for you. Then enjoy your continual allowance. Never go hungry while the daily bread of grace is on the table of mercy.  ~C.H. Spurgeon



When all you’ve got is Jesus, you’ve got quite a lot.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

F is for Fletcher and Faith

It’s Fletcher’s first birthday, but I’m the one who got the gift. He is the most amazing little child, and in his infectious smile I see the gift of faith. I had never questioned or doubted or feared the way that I did when I found out I was pregnant with him just four months after having Lily. I had trusted God with my life and knew he was good, but until that point His plan had matched up with mine pretty well. But not this time. This time I was confronted with a question: “Do I believe that God really knows what is best for my life?” I don’t think I did. It seemed impossible that having 3 kids under 3 would be a life that I’d love.

I’m so gloriously glad that I was wrong. I was so wrong. Fletcher is the happiest, sweetest, most adorable and loving gift. He shows me every single day that it truly is best to throw myself into the faith that God has wonderful things planned for us. His little life symbolizes just how fervently I can trust God with my future. He shows me how wrong and how ridiculous it is to worry. He shows me that through Christ all things are possible, even happiness in a life with 3 toddlers. He shows me that God won’t abandon me, even when I’m at my most entitled and selfish. Fletcher broke down the walls of my heart and opened me up to gratefulness and freedom. Fletcher showed me how wrong the world is about children and never to give ear to scoffers. He revealed that even with the best intentions, advice or counsel apart from the (sometimes hard) truths of the bible are lies. He showed me that “I’ll be glad they are so close one day” is a belief that cheats me out of the joy I have in our kids being so close in age right now. There is not a member of our family whose presence did not change me for the better. I’m a rich woman.
           















Fletcher is literally the happiest person I have ever been around. He is so smiley and sweet and loves to make eye contact and then just giggle or wiggle. He has the most chubby little cheeks even though he barely has one tiny roll on his ankles and wrists. He loves to wave with both hands and clap. He already has some pretty cute little dance moves and takes a few steps. I love watching him follow his brother and sister around and he usually doesn’t cry when they try to force him to walk.  He is our sweet, happy, playful puppy boy.



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dance in Light

I’m pumped. Let’s get our worship on today. We’re alive! Fist pump it, jump, do that little one foot stomp…worship free and happy.  I’m thankful for the student ministries Winter Jam weekend today. It’s always a crazy insane weekend….but when we get to sneak up and join them for the dance party worship time (aka the first three songs of the night that my kids won’t risk yelling out and interrupting a serious moment) at the beginning of the weekend, I remember what it’s like to have fun and worship from pure joy.


Christians should be the most fun, most happy, most awesome people out in the world. We have the most to sing and dance and yell and raise the roof for. We can laugh at the days to come because the light is the future we walk into…not darkness, not fear, not shame. LIGHT!! Some days are serious and life is still full of trials...but let’s not pass up the days for dancing. I’m compiling an “Alive” playlist on Spotify, feel free to follow it and know that me and my kids are having a straight up dance off in our playroom this Sunday morning before we head out to church.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Lily in Winter

There are three winter things I am more thankful for than anything else in the world. In sequential order: my marriage (December 13), then Lily (February 15), and then little Fletch (February 19). And today I’m most thankful for that sassy pants sweet girl since after all, it was two years ago today that she made her way in typical Lily fashion. She is the only child that gave me totally debilitating migraines for three months of my pregnancy, the only child who broke my water at home, and she was the easiest and sweetest delivery. Very Lily of her. She caused a stink, made herself known, and then was so sweet that we didn’t mind at all. Because of all the migraines I had very strongly suspected that she was in fact…a she. Since I had only a handful of “normal” migraines in my pregnancy with Lyric, I just knew that there had to be a gal in there messing up my already fragile hormone/headache situation. As soon as our ultrasound showed us her little lady parts I started crying and said “I knew it was her. It’s Lily.”

My sweet and sassy (I’m not just saying that because it is a common pairing of characteristics, this girl is 100% sweet and 100% sassy) little girl has changed our family beyond what words could describe. In her I see my own strengths as well as some future “growth areas” for Lily and past/current areas for me to grow in. She is thoughtful and cautious, but still brave within her own timing. She is funny, but unaware of how funny she is. She is sweet and such a little cuddle bug and quality time girl. She is stubborn and sure of herself, but takes time to warm up to new people. When I look at Lily, I see a tiny peanut who loves the girly girl things of life: getting nails painted, having her hair done at my vanity in front of the mirror, dressing up like a princess. But she makes the best little sound effects for cars, trains, rockets, dinosaurs, and monsters. She keeps up with Lyric playing rough and tumble in the playroom, all while mothering baby Fletcher and keeping a close eye on him. Once I even caught her pointing her finger at both brothers who were sitting on the ground as she towered over them (all 2 inches of her) saying “Obey me. OBEY….ME!” I have no idea where she got that phrase as my children obey perfectly and by instinct, I never have to remind them to do so.

Lily has enriched our family, while bringing a little delicacy to the scene. When I picture her saying “Yeah” and her little grunty elongated giggle I can’t hide my grin. She is a precious and unique little girl and she is my very very favorite thing on this cold February 15th.





















Friday, February 14, 2014

It's All About HAIR!

Aaaannnnddd….we’re back! Yesterday was a glorious respite from the freezing temps (at a whole 34 degrees) and today the high is 21. So…here we go with the Winter Writing. Right now I’m basically in the most picturesque writing position one could be in. I’m sitting at our dining room table (which has been nicely cleared off from its usual piles because we have guests this weekend), sipping on a latte that a friend brought me, rereading a beautiful love note from my husband while I watch the sunrise. I wasn’t kidding when I said picturesque. This weekend of my life won’t be the most romantic because of church activities, but I will cling to this morning and all it’s wonder!


Today’s winter glimmer of gratefulness is all about hair! Haha and you probably thought I was going all deep since I’m in my nice cozy quiet place. A friend gave me the idea for this post last week at bible study after I was apparently having a rare wavy hair day haha! We got into a whole discussion of humidity, of which there is none during the winter. So I am thankful for no humidity for my wavy/shaggy/lion mane hair days. I’m also thankful for the cold dry air because my scalp just can’t take a bunch of washes without drying out. Therefore, I only have to wash my hair every three to four days, which is an amazing time saver! Woohoo! So winter, my hair thanks you (even though I do have to double up on moisturizing products).


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Friendship, A Warm Blanket For The Soul

It’s 4:09pm and even though there was a definitely warm front around here, it is definitely still below freezing. You might have thought I forgot about my promise, but I didn’t, I’ve just been up to my eyeballs in bulk shopping and laundry. But while I’ve been huddling in my sweats today (my JHHS sweatshirt is STILL the best sweatshirt for a lazy day), I’ve been thinking about one of the things I’m most thankful for this winter.

I’m extremely thankful for the friends who have braved (and I literally mean braved) the cold, snow, and ice for play dates and for friends who are beyond considerate of how difficult it is for me to run certain errands (cause of the whole three toddlers business) and so they lend me a helping hand. If it weren’t for these women, I think I would have lost my mind this winter.

After a couple of months of such severe weather, cabin fever is wide spread and just being around other people and in someone else’s home has the power to improve my entire week. Being invited into a woman’s home and welcomed to grab a cup of coffee is just the warmest possible situation I can imagine being in right now. Maybe it’s the southerner in me, maybe I’m just being sentimental, but I just adore opening homes, talking, laughing, and making the most of what we have to work with this winter. Quality time for me, is the best way to spend time. It’s the best medicine.

Also, a strong remedy for my grumpy winter disposition—help and kindness from others. I’m not typically the type to ask for help. In fact, just typing that makes me want to somehow prove that I’m strong and self sufficient and efficient and resourceful. Ah *sigh* will I ever get past all my apparent control freak tendencies? Anyway, on more than one occasion a couple of friends have made my day just so much better through thoughtfulness. If it weren’t for one of my friends, I don’t know how Lily would have such great (and cheap, this gal is THE best bargain hunter I know) winter weather gear. And another friend went above and beyond when she did a mundane but necessary task for me. Another friend almost always comes bearing lattes. I feel so loved!


And now it is becoming very obvious to me that I have basically been writing a post about my love languages today. Quality time and gifts, and my friends have delivered and thus delivered me from a very grumpy winter. Thank you ladies (and my husband and children thank you as well).