November 30, 2012

an appointment for sabbath

I sit staring at the blinking curser and too many words swirl in my head so that none can make it on paper.  I feel the pressure to write.  The pressure from myself.  From my commitment to do so.  From my desire to grow this area of my life.  But, at this moment, the words seem to be best suited for my journal.

I've been go-go-go all week, without much rest.  The weary heart nudges me that right now, I need to be filled before I try to pour out again.

Going to the kitchen for a drink of water, I glance at the Ann Voskamp printable I have hanging on my fridge.

Just slow.

I've spent much of this week in hurry.  Some days going many places and others at home, doing nothing, yet still living as if each thing were an emergency.

I'm feeling convicted to take my own advice, and be still.  Slow.  Wait.  Quiet myself before Him.  Just listen.

God is teaching me this lesson.  But I'm not being a very good student.

Jordan texts me to tell me that he does indeed have Christmas Eve and New Years Eve off work!  This is amazing considering he didn't have a single day off last year when Christmas fell on Sunday.

I text him back and tell him to take the three days between the two holidays off as well.

This whole family needs sabbath.

It is something that does not just happen on it's own.  Our rest needs to be scheduled into our plugged-in, on-the-go lives.  So, now.  Tonight.  This weekend.  This season.  Sabbath must be an intentional goal here.  Rest in our spirits.  Quality in our time spent together.  Slowing down and just being here.  God does not hide that this is important.  

I, for one, plan to read my latest book.  Sleep when boys sleep.  Listen to Christmas music.  Get on the floor and make lego trucks.  Stay in my pajamas for too long.  Eat pancakes in the morning (gluten-free, of course).  And dig into the word.  Be filled.

I pray that you have a weekend of rest and rejuvenation.  That you'd find peace in your spirit even if you are on the move.  That you'd slow and find joy.

November 29, 2012

the search for the perfect Christmas card

'Tis the season.  For snowflakes (we saw our first this past weekend!).  For peppermint mocha.  For bundling up.  For christmas cards.

I love cards and letters and sweet hand-written notes.  Something about a hand-written card is so much more thoughtful than an email or facebook message.  If you want to light up my day, go back to the olden days and send me some snail mail updating me on your life.  I'd love it.

I'll admit, I'm not a huge fan of most of the Christmas cards you find in the stores.  They're all glitz and glam and not my style.  I like simple.  Modern.  Thoughtful.  Yet, creative.

Enter Red Letter Paper Company.  

I was super exited when I learned of Red Letter Paper Company and their modern, Christ-filled Christmas cards.  I really do love these cards.  The design is edgy and clever and perfect for so many people.  Plus you will find a lot of Jesus.  Win. Win. Win.  Take a look for yourself.

I just love the twitter references.  So clever!

The designer/founder is Stephanie and I love her creativity and her passion for her work.  She is the real deal.  And this girl's heart is in the right place.  Ten percent of the Christmas card sales goes to World Orphans as a donations.  There is so much I love about this.  

So, check them out.  I do think you could find a perfect card for any situation.  She sells way more than Christmas cards also.  So once this season is over, I know I'll be coming back.

This was a sponsored post but my words and opinions are my own.  And if you are a friend of mine, keep a look-out in your mailbox for one of these cards to possibly make it's way to you. ;-)

To learn more about Red Letter Paper Company find her blog, Facebook page, or twitter page.

November 27, 2012

making room for stillness - at Pearl

Hi friends!

Today I am taking over for Chrissy at Pearl, talking about making room for stillness in this fast-paced, plugged-in world.  So, hop on over there and let's encourage Chrissy and say hello. :-)

In the meantime, I have a free holiday printable over here for you.  A memory verse as we prepare to remember Christ's birth!  I really hope to keep adding scripture to my walls, praying it makes its way deeper into my heart.


Luke Two Thirteen

November 26, 2012

saving Christmas for Jesus

Jude's first Christmas (2011).

The other week I took the boys to Target partially to pick up some much-needed groceries and partially to get out of the house (and what better place to go).  It wasn't even Thanksgiving yet, but of course Christmas decor overwhelmed the place.  Red and green.  Snow and sleighs.  Santa and reindeer.  Toys and toys and toys.

I needed more stickers for my boy who stickers everything.  The walls.  The windows.  Me.  And I found stickers of Santa.  Of reindeer.  Sleighs and gifts.  And finally, penguins and snowmen.

I found myself struck by the lack of truth.  The lack of Jesus and the story of God's son coming as a babe.  Of course, this is nothing new.  But for me, as a mother, I am finding myself viewing this in a new way.  As a child who is just learning and growing might view it.

So I bypassed the Santa.  We went with the penguin and snowman stickers instead.

I have friends who will celebrate differently, and that's fine with me.  Everyone has their own memories and traditions and ways to enjoy the season.  I don't judge if you chose a different way to celebrate.  Not one bit.  But we aren't going to do Santa.  

We won't pretend he is real.  We won't do Santa gifts.  We won't have Santa decor.  And we probably won't make much mention of Santa except to say that it's a fun story that people entertain during the Holidays.

So, you may think I'm ruining Christmas.  You may not like what I have to say, but that's okay.  You may disagree with me and think it's no big deal.  But, to me, it is.  And I am perfectly okay having a different tradition than you.

In my opinion, we are battling for truth in this world day in and day out.  It takes focus and intention to continue filling ourselves with the word.  To maintain a kingdom perspective on life.

And, to me, Santa just doesn't fit in there.

The message of you better watch out and be good versus a message of grace.  The message of being good equals material reward versus gratitude, contentment, and treasures in heaven.  

So what will we be doing?

We'll be reading about Jesus.  I was so excited to find this advent reading schedule using the Jesus Storybook Bible.  If you don't have the Jesus Storybook Bible, you must get one.  It's perfect for kids and ties the entire bible back to Jesus.  I love it probably just as much as our kiddos will.

We'll create new traditions surrounding advent.  Instead of doing the whole Santa and reindeer thing, we'll do advent and find a way to may it interactive and fun for my boys.  I like the idea of a crafty advent calendar with a different family event every day leading up to Christmas.  Simple things, like reading Christmas stories together.  Singing together.  Baking cookies and taking half to a neighbor.  Coloring a nativity scene.  Drinking hot cocoa together.  Cutting down a Christmas tree.  Christmas movie nights.  On and on and on.  I've started an advent board on Pinterest where I'm keeping my ideas.

We'll make it less about things and more about gratitude.  I can't remember where I first saw this, but I love the idea of doing four gifts for each child.  Something you want.  Something you need.  Something you wear.  Something you read.  And I would also like to add, something to give.  Whether it is angel tree or a holiday food basket or a bag to goodwill of toys we don't need, I hope to making giving have a strong emphasis during the holidays.

We'll still have a Christmas tree.  We'll still do some gifts.  We will not shelter our children and shun Santa or our friends who entertain the story.  We'll just take a different approach than most of the world.  We are just beginning to create these traditions with our family.  I don't know exactly what it will look like and it may change over the years.  But one thing I know.

In everything I do, I have the opportunity to point my kids toward Jesus.  

That is the lens from which I must view parenting.  And Christmas.  And discipline.  And life, in general.

How do you keep Christ at the center of Christmas?  What traditions do you keep in your family?

November 23, 2012

i owe my gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving from us to you.

We spent the day at my parent's house and was joined by my hubby's three younger brothers, and some of my parents long-time friends who drove up from Indiana.  It was a random mix of people, but I'm so glad that the table was full.  I'm glad that all who were there were welcome, loved, and considered family in one way or another.

A last minute, "hey, we need a Thanksgiving photo" photo.  Squirmy boys and all.

I don't think there has been a time in my life more marked my gratitude.  I owe some to reading Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts, for opening my eyes to the joy at the other end.

I owe some gratitude to my children.  For giving me child's eyes that see the world in all its newness.  Life is so beautiful and so joyful when viewed from down low.

I owe some gratitude to my husband, who daily expresses his own gratitude to me.  He is thankful for me, and I him.  More than he will ever know.  

I owe some gratitude to the ladies in my life who spur me on and encourage me to view the world with a WORD perspective.  The ladies I see weekly and the ladies whose words I read and I never see.  All of you are such a tremendous encouragement and are so special to me.

I owe all of my gratitude to the Lord.  For choosing me and saving me and giving me eternity with Him.  For the blessing of the life I have, for which I am so very grateful.  

So much that I don't deserve.

But I am blessed.  There is no doubt about that.  

Thank you thank you thank you.

November 21, 2012


I don't know Jami Nato, but I like her already.

From what I hear, she will make you cry. Either from laughing so hard or from her raw testimony (which I have yet to hear). But she's also an awesome blogger and has hilarious ideas. Like this one. 


A challenge to find the gospel in pop music. Growing up in a musical family, this is right up my ally. So I had to participate.

Here's my contribution.

I know.  Old School.  But that was one of those songs that was played all. the. time. when I was in middle school/high school so it is permanently burned in my head.  It popped into my head for no good reason at 3am when I was up with Isaac and I thought, hey, there's a lot in the bible about rivers and lakes and water.  So it was a #letsgetpraisy must-have.  

Seriously, though, these are hilarious.  If you are on Instagram or Twitter, just check out the #letsgetpraisy hashtag and have a laugh.

But on a serious note, I love that Jami has the WORD-view of the world.  Looking for Jesus in all things.  I just love it and love this idea to do with my kids someday.  

And if you decide to check out Jami's blog, this little challenge is also a giveaway, so if you feel so inclined to vote (for mine) go ahead!

November 20, 2012

a night marked by motherhood

The clock reads 2:30am as I stumble into the littlest's room for his first feeding.  A bit earlier than most nights, but I quickly feed him.  Perhaps he is beginning (another) growth spurt.  I secretly treasure these mid-night feedings because I know that one day they will end and these tender moments will be only a fond memory.

I'm not back in bed two seconds when I hear the coughing from the big boy's room.  And again.  And again.  I sneak in his room to mother him and give him a drink of water, but he's out cold.  Dead asleep to the world, yet coughing enough to keep his concerned Mama awake.  I elevated his sleeping head and even broke the cardinal rule and tried to wake him enough to take a drink.  No luck, and the coughing didn't stop.

Somewhere in the middle of the next two hours of coughing, the littlest needed the pacifier returned.  I hear the heavy breathing of my husband beside me, but my sleep is continually interrupted by my needy children.  And I think, this is motherhood.

I remember as a child, being sick and yelling for my own mother to get me a cup of water and knowing that that is what Mamas do for their sick kids.  They work around the clock.  Serve when they feel they have nothing left.  There is nothing better than the comfort of a Mama when you are a sick kid.  The rubbing of backs and the singing of soft songs.  Soaking up the sleepy snuggles of squishy children.  The mark of motherhood.

In the moments I once would have felt frustrated and entitled to a nights rest, I find myself feeling differently.  Maybe counting my thanks each day is doing something deeper.

Somehow, even though I am exhausted from lack of sleep and monitoring runny noses and sore throats, I find a sense of gratitude in these sick moments.  I feel like a mother.  I am meeting my kids needs in a tangible way and it is a blessing to do so.  I gladly wipe the noses and bring the cups of water and rub the backs of my restless boys.  Thank you Lord for this gratitude.

At 4:45am the littlest needs to eat. Again.  And so he does.  As I return to bed my husband's alarm rings and I think this morning has come too soon.  But my night wasn't wasted.

I think that naps all around are needed on a day like today.

November 19, 2012

when hope is shared

I got the text.

I just found out I'm miscarrying. Thanks for your prayers.

And my Mama-heart is stuck in my throat.  The tears well in my eyes as the devastation of this loss is all too familiar.  The age-old questions of why, Lord, why linger in my prayers.  And I wonder, no, I know that her heart breaks the same as mine did.

I remember the advice that I rejected at the time.  The truth that was spoken then that I hated, is now true in my life.

It was necessary.

Why God?

In my weakness He is made great.

But, God, it hurts.

So, trust.  He is sovereign and He has a plan.

The truth that was spoken said if it weren't for my loss, I wouldn't have the one I labored over for hours upon hours.  And it is true.  My sweet Jude is the one I was supposed to parent and raise.  I want to tell her this.  Of the gift that comes after the suffering.  But those words are hard to swallow when you haven't met your one yet.

I know what the Lord told me.  That He is more powerful than science.  His plan is greater than this event.  His will be done.

And I wonder if it happened to me, so that I could be a friend to her.  Sharing my story.  Sharing in pain.  Sharing in waiting.

The stories shared were medicine to me.  The survivors who thrived and told me of the days to come.  The women I will never forget in their raw comfort.

I wasn't alone.  Neither is she.  Neither are you.

Friend.  This is not the end.  He does not allow pain carelessly.  And your story will one day bring light to anothers' dark place.  This is what happens when pain (and hope) is shared.

November 17, 2012

November 15, 2012

when my coffee is lukewarm

Sipping my lukewarm morning coffee, I hoped that if there was a smidge of caffeine in my cup of decaf that it would make it's way through my veins and wake me up.

I don't wish these days away, but the day when I have two children sleeping through the night will be a glorious day.

But watching my two little punkin boys reminds me of the sweet season we are in.  Jude not-so-gently grabbing Isaac by the face to lay a smacker right on him.  Isaac squealing with delight as he watches his brother run through the house flapping his arms like a duck.  Jude's vocabulary growing by the minute and his complete joy when we affirm what he's said.  Isaac just being a 4-month-old.

I think four months old is one of my very favorite ages.  I'm not entirely surprised I (whoops!) allowed myself to get pregnant when Jude was just six months old.  I adore the baby stage.  Absolutely adore it. But those babies turn into toddlers (who I LOVE) that begin to exercise their will and demands and this combination of baby-not-sleeping-through-the-night and my toddler-risk-taker-wild-man-testing-the-boundaries is what leaves me feeling run into the ground this morning.

And don't worry.  I'm fully aware that my body needs a break from being pregnant and I don't plan to have any sort of announcement in the next year (or so).

I sip my coffee slower.  Taking the moment in.  Watching my boys interact and remembering how desperate I was for them only a few years earlier.  God is good.  And I am challenged to take my mornings slower.  We have places to go, people to see.  But I want my boys to remember me as someone who was always present with them.  Fully present.  Not zoned out on my phone (guilty).  Not too much of a zombie to listen to what they're telling me (guilty).  But slowing down.  Looking them in the eye.  Being there.

I do hate being rushed, but I'm so often the one doing the rushing.

Thank you Lord for my sweet children.  For mornings I can sip my coffee.  For moments you sustain me so I can give enough.

Linking up with Just Write.

November 13, 2012

when the task at hand seems daunting

I tend to over-complicate things.  

In fact, I am so over-complicating this post that I can't even spit out easily what I mean by things.  You know.  THINGS.

All the things.

Menu planning.  Crafting for kids.  Blogging.  My schedule.  Reading my Bible.  

You've heard me talk time and time again about picking the few best things, and giving up the rest.  And if you are a fellow sister (or brother) in Christ, spending time in the word is something that is on that list of the best things.  

But after talking to the ladies in my Monday morning bible study, it is clear that this is something that is hard for us busy, in the trenches of toddler-and-a-baby-hood-Mamas.  It is hard to devote the kind of time we want to getting in the word.  To being still before the Lord. Listening.  Finding rest in Him.

And we need rest, Lord.

But why is it hard?  

For me, it is mostly because I tend over-complicate what my time with the Lord should look like.  As much as I do love really getting into an inductive study of the word, there are some seasons in which that is just hard.  You might only have 15 minutes, if that, before the little one wakes up or the big one starts jumping off couches.  Sometimes, I get it so worked up in my mind that I need at least 30 minutes for an adequate devotional time, and since that seems impossible, I don't do it.  But 30 minute devotionals every day aren't asked of us.

My Monday morning Mamas and I all agreed that the key is to just do it.  Just get in the word.  Fill your heart and mind with truth.  You will not walk away with time wasted.  

Lately, I end up reading just 10 verses a day.  I am loving the daily she reads truth study.  Those gals get it and have broken down the chapters into Mommy-sized bites, just packed full of truth.  If I only have a little bit of time, I simply list truths found in the scripture and then pray it into my life.  If I have more time, I also list promises and commands.  

And then some days, I don't even open my bible and am simply praying for patience to get through the day.  Yes, those days happen.

And there is grace.  

Keep it simple friends.  If the task is too daunting, keep it simple, and don't let it get in the way of it happening at all.  The Lord asks us to draw near, NOT to add yet another thing to our to-do list.  But he wants to fill us.  He desperately wants to know us, and for us to know him.  He wants is to rest in Him.  The only way to get this is to be in the living Word of God.  I too often let excuses get in the way of that happening.  

If there is anything I'm learning as a Mama of a 19-month-old it is that sometimes the simplest things bring the most joy.  

Today, my son spent nearly two hours painting with water and then coloring.

You heard me.  Two hours sitting at the table playing while I cleaned up and cooked dinner.  If you know my son, this is unheard of.

It was just water and paper.  But he LOVED it.  

Simple times can still be fruitful.  Don't overcomplicate to the point of inaction (what I tend to do).  Keep it simple.  Exercise a bit of creativity.  Know what is important to you and make it happen somehow.  In all the things.  

Is there a thing you tend to overcomplicate?  How do you keep things simple?

November 12, 2012

Space for Joy.

As hinted to yesterday, my little space on the internet has undergone some changes.  I just want to give a little explanation of what's happening around here.

Loving the Little Things is now Space for Joy.

I made this change because I'm approaching this blog with new intention - to make it something more than just a place I post pictures of my kids every few weeks.  This is a place for me to practice my gift of writing, to work out my faith through words, and to build a community of like-minded Mamas and women.

So, why Space for Joy?

I resonate with space in this season.  Needing it.  Creating it.  Owning it.  Making room for it in my life.  Approaching life with gratitude.  Using this space to share my life.  The ins the outs, the ups the downs, the sorrows and the joy.

So, along with a change in domain and blog name, I also created a facebook page!  It is my hope that through this Facebook page, my readers can have a bit more interaction with me and other readers.  More community.  That's always a good thing.

I really love all my readers.  You all value honesty and realness just as much as I do, and I am so encouraged by every comment and follower that I gain.  It's not about me.  It's about sharing our stories, encouraging one another, and ultimately pointing toward Him.

So, there you have it!  I have big hopes and goals for my blog this next year, but this is the first step.  I promise to keep you updated as changes occur.  For now, like my facebook page, and say hello!

November 11, 2012

Un-planned Sunday

First of all, I know things look different around here.  Don't be surprised if you notice some changes on the blog (like umm... new domain name or blog title?).  It might be a little weird for a week or so, but I plan to highlight my vision and what changes are happening later this week.  So, stay tuned and thanks for all of your support and encouragement!!


I was finally prepared for once.

Getting out of the house with two kids at the break of dawn is no easy task you know. But I was ready.  I had gotten up at 6am so that I could shower and be fully ready for church before the boys woke up at 7am.

Boys were dressed, fed, changed, happy, and ready to go when grabbed for my keys heading out the door.

My keys.

I remembered going on our family outing to the grocery store the night before (isn't that how you spend your Saturday nights?).  I remembered leaving the diaper bag, with my keys, in the car to make my arms free for other things.  And then I remembered my husband, as always, locking the car.

I never lock the car.

Shame on me.

I ran outside to look out the window and sure enough, my diaper bag, keys and all, were locked inside the car.

On another Sunday this wouldn't have been a big deal, except my hubby was playing guitar in church, so he was already there.  There would be no church for us.

I was instantly crabby.  And instantly wanted to blame someone.  Grr.  Jordan if only you hadn't locked the car like I never do!  It's all your fault for being so responsible!


I realized how ridiculous that sounded.  But I was frustrated.  We were all dressed cute, and now I had another long morning by myself with the boys.  I love my boys, don't get me wrong, but I value my me-time as well.  After a long night, I was also running low on energy.

But that's no excuse for my horrible attitude.

I had to make a mental shift as I remembered what I so often preach.  Lord, guide my steps today.  Let us spend our time as you would see fit.  Today, it wasn't going to be church.

I saw the sun streaming through the windows.  A beautiful 60-some degree day.  And my sweet boys, looking adorable in their church-ready outfits.

Isaac went down for his morning nap that he would have otherwise missed, and I got down on the floor with my big boy.  Dishes would wait.  They would have anyway.  But the new trucks we got him yesterday needed some breaking in, obviously.  And lego towers needed to be built.

And then once the littlest one woke, we took advantage of the sunshine.  My double stroller was also locked in the car, so I strapped Isaac to me and threw Jude in our single stroller.  I needed some exercise anyway.

It's easy to surrender your day to the Lord when things go as planned.  I'm embarrassed how quickly my attitude went south this morning as I realized my plans weren't going to pan out.

But I think that our time spent was still pleasing to Him.

November 10, 2012

A week in gratitude.

I'm back with 30 days of life-changing gratitude.

What are you grateful for this week?

November 8, 2012


It started out as inspiration.  Encouragement.  Innocent enough.  Propelling and motivating me toward my goal.  I dared to dream.  I dared to exercise my gifts.  To make way for the things I really love deep down that I was too busy or too fearful to do.

Maybe I could write.  Maybe I could write and people would read it.  Maybe I could reach out and encourage someone.  Just maybe. 

Because it happened for me that way.  Those dark days back in 2010 when my arms were child-less and my heart was ripped out of my chest.  Pregnancy and loss.  Nobody understood.  Not one.  Of course, that is what I felt in those moments I couldn't catch my breath.  Until I heard the stories of woman after woman after woman who had miscarried their sweet babies.  Stories of women who had lost, but survived.  And I found hope again.  Hope in reading stories.  Healing through reading blogs.

So, when I felt that little tug on my heart to just write.  Just share.  You have something to say.  I listened.  Writing makes my heart happy, almost as if it allows my soul to breathe.

But I often find, when God gives you something to really go for and get excited about, that is exactly the thing in which Satan wants to breed insecurity.

As I read my blog roll, what started as inspiration started to become littered with comparison and insecurity.  I'll never write as eloquently as her.  She has thousands of followers, who am I?  And THAT blogger wrote three books!  

With a good dose of doubt.  A blog?  Really?  Isn't that for nerdy people?  It's JUST a blog.  Don't take it so seriously.

(Just being honest.  That's how we roll 'round here.)

But here's the thing.  I am writing for two reasons.  One, because I love to.  My heart needs it.  Two, because I feel like I should.  In the sense that I need to speak truth, joy, and encouragement and this is my little piece of the internet to do so.

And I'm not going to let Satan steal my joy in this.  Or dirty my intentions.

Instead, I'm going to pray that when jealousy sneaks in, I choose encouragement.  When comparison sneaks in, I choose to thank God that there are so many other women out there who share this heart.  I'm going to pray and believe that those who need to read what I have to say, will.  If that is 50 or 500.  Makes no difference to me.

Putting yourself out there requires frequent heart-checks.  If it isn't for God's glory, it simply isn't going to happen.  Not here.

November 6, 2012

Politics and the Gospel

I almost didn't post this, but I'm going to anyway.

I wonder if there was ever a day when politics wasn't so seemingly divisive.

I can't be the only one who sees it.  Maybe it is my utter awareness of what is happening politically, or maybe it is ease in which people can be in-your-face-but-not via facebook and twitter, but this election has been harsh.

The topic can immediately cause defenses to go up.  It puts the other person in a category, either of camaraderie or opposition.  I might argue that there is little aside from politics that is so revealing about one's beliefs about life.

That, and faith.

I'm going to put my neck out there and share some thoughts.  My husband and I talk about this frequently.  He is a bit of a political nut.  My interest is growing.  If there is a topic you want to get an earful about, just ask him about the state of our country.

But in certain circles, we find we often hold our tongues (with the exception of people who we are close to).  Because in our conversations, we want Christ to shine instead of a political party.  We fear that saying something will start a debate we would rather not have with people we are trying to show Christ to.

I don't know if we are right in this.  In this season, we have often said, "I would love to share my belief or stance to this person or that person... but... the gospel.  The gospel first."  Because, these days, politics seem to breed nastiness.  And we want to love.

Politics and the gospel.  How do you speak on politics to the people in your mission field?  Or do you at all?  

In any case, my hope is that you just vote today.  Know what you believe, and put your civic right into action.  And be respectful of the result.  Because we serve a sovereign God.  He holds the ultimate power regarding who is in office.  It is in his plan... even if it isn't in ours.

I really am curious how my brothers and sisters approach this.  Please share!  



November 5, 2012

The scary faces.

In this season, the years are short and the days are long.  Usually, the good kind of long, but still somehow too short to fit it all in.  I have a curious, rowdy boy who is all loving and generous and mischievous and inquisitive at the same time.

There really is so much joy when you're looking through an innocent pair of eyes.  Everything is new.  Everything is fascinating.  Every car that drives by must be announced.  Every task accomplished is applauded.  Every good-bye goes with a kiss (no matter who you are).  Sweet, new, innocence.  

Last week, we went out to eat to my favorite local restaurant for my birthday.  All four of us.  We sat next to the window and Jude gleefully looked out at every truck and bus and car that drove past (vehicles are all the rage these days).  Then, he glanced up.  He saw this horrendous, creepy, giant face on the wall.  (Poor taste in decor, if you ask me.)  But he was terrified.  And then started the lip.  The fearful glances to Mama and Dada, as we tried to convince him, "look at that silly face, it's so silly!!" He screamed.  Loudly.

There was no consolation except to cling to Dada with his back to it.  He would absolutely not turn around.  And he would not eat his dinner.  At first it seemed a little sweet.  But who can enjoy their dinner with a 30lb toddler crying in their lap?  But the kid had apparently just met his biggest nightmare.

Finally, after some coaxing and distraction with the beloved cars out the window, Jude sat back down in his high chair.  But only if I was between him and the face.

I had to step in the gap for him.

I know this won't be the last time.  My Mama-Bear heart wanted to talk to the restaurant manager and tell her, "That face is too scary to have in a restaurant where kids eat!"  But of course, that is ridiculous.  But, I know this is only the start of me protecting my kids.  Standing in the gap for them to make wise decisions for them.  To protect them.  To advocate for them.

But at some point in that crowded restaurant with screaming child, I realized that there are going to be things in this world that I can't protect him from.  He's going to learn that not everything is fascinating and exciting.  Not everything is safe and there is a real thing called evil.

It saddens me.

But as much as I wish I could keep my kids in a perfect happy little bubble, that does absolutely no good either.  Not for them, and not for the sinful world that I pray they have a heart to change.

So, as I feel choked up thinking of my sweet boy growing up and seeing our twisted world for what it is, I rest in knowing that I also know the creator of the world.  And the creator of my boy.  And I know that He is sovereign.  And my perception of control and protection is only within His arms anyway.  The conquerer of evil.  Of fear.

And that is Someone I pray my children will always know.

There will be no creepy, scary, horrible faces in heaven sweet boy.

November 3, 2012

30 days of Gratitude & What I Read: One Thousand Gifts

There are some books that are just so captivating you can hardly pry your eyes away to get a break.  Then there are other books that you must read word by word.  Sentence by sentence.  Take it in.  Mull it around for awhile.  Process.  Pray.  And keep reading.  Some books, like the one I just finished, just are too good to read quickly.

I think it took my sister and I about 6 months to finally get through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  Granted, in that time she was adjusting to being a new missionary in Jamaica, and I was in the final months of pregnancy, gave birth, and then had a newborn.  But, we finished it.  And we would both agree that we finished the last page with a new perspective and challenged to live life with more gratitude.

I know I'm a little late on the One Thousand Gifts bandwagon.  People were telling me to read this book a year ago, so I know that many of you have already read this.  If so, maybe this will serve as a little reminder of the goodness you found there.

This book is so chock full of nuggets of inspiration and truth, that I couldn't possibly write a review to cover all the facets with justice.  In one word.  Eucharisteo.  In two.  Gratitude.

Here are three (of the many) takeaways I got from One Thousand Gifts.

"This act of naming grace moments, this list of God's gifts, moves beyond the shopping list variety of prayer and into the other side.  The other side of prayer, the interior of His throne room, the inner walls of His powerful, love-beating heart.  The list is Gods list, the pulse of his love - the love that thrums on the other side of our prayers.  And I see it now for what this really is, this dare to write down one thousand things I love. It really is a dare to name all the ways that God loves me.  The true Love Dare."
I am challenged to do this same love dare.  Could I?  Could I live life with thanksgiving in the forefront of my mind?  Looking for it?  How much more deeply would I understand God, if that were true of me?

"To wear his message in moments, I'll need to read His passion on the page; wear the lens of the Word, to read His writing in the world.  Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world..."
What lens am I wearing?  Am I in the Word enough to know the difference?

"God is relationship and He woos us into relationship and there is nothing with God if there is no relationship."
How are we doing, God?

That.  And also about joy. Taking life slow. Being in the moment. The facade that is worry.  The awareness of our blessings bringing us into life's holy potential.

So. Much. Good. Stuff.

And ever since reading this book, I have never been so aware of the hundreds of times we are told to "give thanks" and "with thanksgiving..." in the Word.

Just as Ann experienced, I'm convinced that if I put this into action, I'd find my heart much more in tune with the Lord.  I'd find life change.

The timing is perfect.  Thanksgiving is three (three??) weeks away.  All over facebook and instagram I see people counting their blessings, and I'm going to join them.  Every Saturday this month I'm going to post and express my gratitude from the week before.  Starting today, here.

If you are counting your blessings this month, let me know!  I'd love to follow your thanks as well.

November 2, 2012

Firm in truth.

Hi friends.  Let's have a little chat.  A little heart to heart.  Because there is something that I feel burdened with this morning.  Sorry if I get a little preachy.  

There are so many things swirling in my head and on my heart this morning.  After hearing some sad news last night, my heart is tender.

Without going into detail, know this.  There is an absolute truth.  It is called the bread of life.  The word of God.  The sword of the spirit.  Get in this, friends.  Use it.  Put on your armor and be clothed in righteousness, truth, salvation, and let the gospel be on the tip of your tongues.  And the word.  The sword.  This is our defense.  Knowing and being in this will slay the evil one!  

This is real, friends.  I may step on some toes when I say that this post-modern whatever is right for them is their own truth is for the birds.  It's the foolish man who built his house on the sand.  It gives you nothing to stand on.

We read truth, and chew on it, and swallow it hard, and pray that it overflows into our lives.  Even the difficult conversations.  That we would be gentle and firm in truth.  

That is my prayer today.  For my friends.  For my kids.  For my marriage.  For my brothers and sisters in Christ that I don't even know.  That we would be rooted and secured in truth.  That we would be ready with the gospel.  That we would be bold.  That we would speak that truth in love. 

That we would point to Christ with our lives and our words.

November 1, 2012

Giving up good.

I was first inspired by the concept of "giving up good" by one of my favorite bloggers over at Naptime Diaries.  I think I gave an "amen" or two as she was sharing how she gave up on showers and her life has changed thanks to dry shampoo.  While she was doing that, I was busy having Isaac, so I wasn't exactly blogging (or showering) regularly at that time.

But the idea of giving up good has really freed me from the need to be that mythical "do it all" Mama.  I really struggled with that shortly after Jude was born.  I constantly felt like I was behind and never fully present at any one thing I did, because my mind and my heart was too cluttered to enjoy what was before me.

Like I said last week, I just don't think we're supposed to live in that kind of suffocating heart-clutter.

So I've given myself freedom.  Grace.  Making room in my life.

I've given up perfect, 100% clean, eating.  I can be a bit of a nutrition nut.  Especially after I had Jude, I would obsess over giving him the best food, the best milk.  Organic.  Clean.  Real food.  Whatever you call it.  I know how important nutrition is, but it is a big, expensive task to eat that way one hundred percent of the time.  I remember feeling guilty when I'd buy a box of mac & cheese for Jude.  But lately, I've given my nutrition-nut side a break.  It's okay if Jude has mac & cheese in moderation.  And if we eat processed food once in awhile, everything will still be okay.  Health is important, but so is a sane Mama who doesn't spend all her time in the kitchen.

I've given up DIY projects.  I could have taken the time to sew my couch pillows myself.  But, instead I supported another Mama on Etsy.  Right now, sewing just doesn't have a spot on my list of priorities.    It is embarrassing the number of half-finished sewing projects I have laying around my house.  It used to hang over my head.  The scrapbook too.  Each week that passes I get further and further behind.  But now, I'm giving it up.  It's okay that I have two un-finished baby blankets.  And forget the scrapbook all together (hello snapfish photo books?).  I am going to be okay with not focusing on this stuff right now.

I've given up having the best wardrobe.  I have more solid colored t-shirts than I care to admit.  But that is the wardrobe of a stay-at-home mom.  When snot or spit or who-knows-what could ruin an outfit, looking cute isn't worth it.  T-shirt and cardigan?  Yes, please.  And my hair is in a pony-tail 90% of the time.  Such is life.  It's okay.

I've given up doing it right by-the-books.  I was asked recently by a new mama-to-be about any advice I had for babies.  My advice was, don't listen to every piece of advice you get.  The Lord gave us Mama's an intuition and nudges of the Spirit to guide us in what is best for our babies.  Sure, advice is great and can be helpful, but don't feel like you're doing it wrong if you don't do it their way.

I've given up having a spotless house.  This is easier for me than my husband.  I'm the messy one in the family.  But I still cringe at the thought of having people over and seeing my mess.  That has been my struggle with hospitality.  I feel like my house is never good enough.  But I'm giving myself permission to not be good enough in this area.  I focus on the basics.  Dishes.  Laundry.  Sweeping the floor from time to time.  But we have two babies.  The house is going to be messy.  And that is okay.  And these days, if you come over, chances are you're going to see a messy house.  I'm calling it an exercise in real hospitality.

Giving up good is not about laziness.  It is about recognizing what is important in life and making room for it.  It is about asking the Holy Spirit to lead the direction of your days and being willing to let go of, or push pause on, good things in order to do what is best.  And giving ourselves grace and freedom to me imperfect.  To let go of good so that we can seek and cling to truth.  

I know I'm not the only one who has given up on doing-it-all.  Or failed miserably trying to.  What good have you let go of to make room for best?