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).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter Sunrises

So there is one thing that I’ve loved from the earliest days of this winter. I know this as fact, because I wrote it about it in my spiral on October 17th, long before I knew what I was in for this winter. The thing I’ve loved this entire winter is that in this season I can see the sunset from my dining room every morning. During the other seasons of the year I can’t really see it because there is too much foliage in the way and also because it comes at an unspeakably early hour during the summer. I love the leaves and I miss how promising and lush and bright they are in the spring. I love how the summer breeze blows them around so they look like shiny green sequins. I love how resilient and bold and beautiful they are in autumn. But even though all that is true, I love when they fall in the winter because I can see everything so clearly. Because in winter, when my heart inevitably breaks a little saying goodbye to the colors, my view becomes clear and I experience the best sunrises. I know that it’s only because of the desolate barren of winter that I appreciate the sunrise so much. When the trees have full branches of leaves for my eyes to feast on, I don’t even look for the sunrise. Yet, even the most gorgeous trees cannot compare to the morning fire ablaze in the sky.






I need that fire burning low in the sky floating just above the ice. I need the reminder that even in the most bitter seasons there is beauty, even if I can only see it through one window. And surely if such radiance can show its face on the worst days, then how much more can I find joy in the day-in an day-out annoyances. Surely I can get past the bulky coats and the constant losing of mittens and the tantrums thrown because “No, you can’t walk on the ice by yourself,” and the cabin fever and salt stains everywhere. If God can evoke such paradise in the sky when it feels like the clouds themselves might be frozen, then I think I can endure the herding of children to be loaded into the car. (Seriously, someone should do an experiment. Which is harder, herding kittens or toddlers?) I’m so thankful for the sunrise on winter mornings. I’m so smitten with the myriad of colors in the sky when everything else has been stripped of its shade.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Winter Is Reflective


One of the weirdest things I’ve ever experienced is the bright reflection that shines off the snow and illuminates everything…even in the middle of the night. Yep. It’s SO weird. The snow reflects even the softest moonlight times like a bazillion. It still kind of freaks us out. But one thing I kind of love about it is that I can see my favorite person lying in bed next to me, pillow talk is so much sweeter when I can dimly see his smile.  And on the days where the sun is out, the reflection from the snow makes the sunlight in our house all the more bright. I love that we get natural lighting from sun and earth during the winter.


I find myself reflecting on times in the past, the winter seems to illuminate them and makes me keenly aware of both past happiness and past sadness. Just today I was gazing out the window and remembering when body image was a daunting shackle for me, and when I discovered that green stuff was still growing even in winter, the time when I achieved my goal to run a 5k, and when I was blown away by a surprise pregnancy, and of course I can't forget all the Easters we have spent together as a family. There has been so much richness in our life. For the hard times and for the sweet times, I’m grateful.

This is 11pm

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Winter in Contrast


Today is the beginning of Baptism Weekend at our church, and then we will celebrate with our friends. I adore baptism weekends. I’ve always loved witnessing baptisms and hearing testimonies of believers, but in the last few years I’ve come to cherish them. When we had our miscarriage, I found myself desperate to hear testimonies of God’s work. I knew in my mind He was still good and still at work in my life, but it didn’t feel that way. The first thing I said to my husband in the car after our doctor explained that our pregnancy was over was the phrase “I just really didn’t want this to happen.” It’s so plain, but it was all I could muster in that moment and it was so true at the deepest core of my heart, no matter how simple it was. That day I began to crave the testimonies of others. I just needed to know that the God I was relying on was living and active, not an idea or a figure of history, but ever present in my time of need. Through scripture and the Holy Spirit and the love of others and the testimonies of people around me, God proved himself over and over. The glory of God shone in my heart with such persistence, and yet on the outside I was mourning and experiencing death in an unfamiliar way (literally as well, we found out I miscarried on February 17th  during our first winter here, and in Iowa that is guaranteed to be a cold day). Strangely enough I don’t remember one day of winter in February or March, because what was happening in my heart was so vibrant. Sometimes it was vibrantly dark and sad, sometimes it was white hot, sometimes it was a soothing warm, but God was molding me and moving mountains in my life.


I love celebrating new life while it’s so dead outside. What a picture of grace, what a picture of the passionate love that saved us from our sin. I’ve always loved things in contrast. I love warm soup with something crunchy, I love my hot apple pie with a scoop of ice cream; I love wearing my hair wild and shaggy when I wear a button-up shirt with a preppy cardigan. I just love life in contrasts. But seeing baptisms, especially of five people I care about, during the coldest winter of my life. Favorite contrast by far.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Real Life With Coffee In Hand

Yea, so here's the deal. My baby did not sleep much last night so neither did I. So here's what's good about winter. Straight up, this is real life and sometimes a momma has to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find a little honey for her yogurt (that started as a metaphor but ended as a real life testimony about my breakfast).

1. I love that because it's cold, when Austin gets up with the kids and lets me try to catch up on some sleep, it is really easy to do under my big fluffy down comforter.

2. I love coffee. I love it all the time, but something about winter time makes my love multiply. Which isn't great for the budget, but alas here we are. 

This is the 4am picture I took of us to see if Fletch's eyes were still open. And yep they were. No such luck.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Simplicity


This year I declared our family theme to be “Simplicity.” Last year our theme was “Endurance.” So today while the kids build a fort and watch Sesame Street I am collecting all the unused or unwanted clothing and junk and the Salvation Army is picking it up. I have winter to thank for this boost in productivity. If it weren’t for winter, I would never spend so much time in our home without interruption. No matter what time of year it is I always find myself staring away into our yard while I wash dishes. And now that I am no longer allowing myself to stare and wallow and wish for spring, I'm appreciating what I see out there. When I look back in our backyard I can see so far during the winter. There is nothing but bare trees and white snow, so my view is unobstructed. Hi there neighbors whose house I can only see when the couple of acres of leafy trees are naked!

I want to feel that same way when I look in our closets and cabinets. I don’t want to have to scoot around the stuff we never touch and the clothes we never wear. Since I’m powerless to make the weather change, I’m asserting my power to make our home feel more comfortable. Also, I’m one of those types, the type who loves cleanliness and organization. If I were a character off of FRIENDS I would like to think I would be Monica. So going through our house and freeing myself from current clutter and junk that will inevitably turn into to future clutter just makes my heart sing. I love it, but it still isn’t something I would have put on my top ten list to do this week. Winter gave me the inspiration to mirror its simplicity and the push I needed to make it happen. So for that, I am thankful (and to be honest kind of giddy about seeing so much stuff leaving our house!). Bye bye junk, you no longer have the power to make me feel overly Americanized and greedy and gross and cluttered. Simplicity, I love you and this winter is showing me that this year’s theme will bring forth a beautiful year for our family!



Thursday, February 6, 2014

I'm Aching


 Any person in the Midwest is ready for spring at this point. Now take a couple of Texans and plop them into this never-ending frozen tundra. We are ACHING for spring.  When I stare out our back windows and imagine what glory the spring will bring, I could cry. I could seriously cry. In the spring my kids and I can exercise together by going on long walks to the park from the bike path behind our house, we can have play dates out on our deck and in our huge yard, I will finally have 100% of my children old enough to take advantage of our huge yard, Austin and I can sit out on the deck with the fire pit going and read and talk while the sun sets, we can invite “after bedtime” guests to relax on the deck and enjoy the awesome lighting Austin put up last summer, we can take mini road trips to visit friends who live a couple hours away, we can go play at all the free fun Chicago places with our kids….the list never ends. When I think about spring my heart just breaks with anticipation. I love spring so much, I just want it to be here already.


What if I wanted God the way I wanted spring? What if I ached for time with Him with the same anticipation? What if I put all my future hopes on the promise of the bright future He will surely bring? I know I love the Lord. But sometimes I take something as trite as springtime and I think to myself (and…sometimes I maybe say it out loud to every mom of littles I run into) “Once it’s spring everything will be better.” I want to have the same hope and faith and gratitude for the one who made spring, the God who is only good and has only a disposition of goodness and love toward me. I want to have that deep assurance that through Christ, all things are possible, even happiness in winter. I want to live in the faith that in the fullness of His love there is life…but actually really really live that out. Lately, I’ve been living as if it’s ok to be half empty and run down because it’s really really cold out. I’ve been living like all I need is a few consecutive warm days and I could have joy. When the truth is, no matter how cliché it sounds, all I need is Jesus. I’m making the decision. I’m replacing my ache for spring with an ache for steadfast joy, with an ache for Jesus. If you are physically living in the frozen tundra as I am, join me in my quest for joy! If you are stuck in a season of life that is bitterly cold, I’m so sorry and I’ve been there. Know that Christ offers warmth in seasons of mourning and darkness and difficulty that far exceed the frigid wind of life whipping around you. You WILL feel the sun on your skin again. Until then bundle up with the Word of God and find treasures hidden in the snow, they are there. I promise.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Writing


I hate winter. I HATE it. So I’ve decided that I’m going to do a small series about the good things that come from this awful season. Because there are good things, in the winter I have to chase them and hunt them and fight for them. But there are still good things, so I’ve decided that every day that its below freezing where I live, I’ll find one good thing. I’ll write about that good thing here, it may be two sentences it may be a short novel. But I WILL WRITE. 

If it weren't for winter, I would never have set this ambitious writing goal. I've already noticed myself seeking the silver linings and finding them. I'm hopeful that this series will help thaw out my frozen heart and dreams and light a fire of ambition and excitement!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

knowing and being known

The kids are eating clementines (actually Lyric is currently amazed at his ability to “open” them on his own!) I’m taking a quick break from cleaning the kitchen, and we are jamming out to “Glory Is Yours” from Elevation Worship. I can’t help but get psyched out of my mind while I listen to this song and think about a week and a day from now. In a week and a day literally half of our small group is getting baptized, and Austin gets to be the dunker (dunker: a spiritual term for super spiritual people, obviously).
For a period, I didn’t totally love the idea of small group. I guess, what I really mean is that I didn’t really see how it could be something that would make me excited. But now I finally get it. I’m experiencing biblical community who “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Being allowed into someone’s life, knowing their story, knowing their darkest and brightest times of life, knowing the burden’s they carry, being invited in to share those burdens and pray together…it’s so challenging and life giving and edifying. Being there for the happiest moments, experiencing the life changes, hearing good news, being giddy for surprises yet to be revealed, laughing together…it’s so encouraging and life giving and fun. Being one of those people for somebody is amazing, but selfishly having those people for myself is the biggest gift.

to know and be known


That’s got to be what all of us want most. We want it from our relationship with God, we want it with our friends, we want it with our significant other, we even want it from our social media feed. I’m so thankful for the ones who know me and the ones that I know.