Tuesday, April 30, 2013

my heart overflows

As I near the end of this pregnancy, I find that along with my body that is beginning to slow, so are my words. My thoughts are many, but my words are few. Gratitude for this simple life that I have been so blessed with is filling up all of the extra space that is not being filled up by my sweet new son.

My heart overflows.

You all know that we recently moved back home into staff housing (a darling little duplex) on the children's home campus where Boss works, where we previously served as houseparents for five years. Only now we live across the street from our old house where we used to live with our foster girls. And you want to know something? I used to sit across the street, in my old living room, and stare at this little duplex. Towards the end of my house parenting days I was a bit overwhelmed. My heart was torn in so very many directions. I loved both my family and our foster girls with all that I had, and I never felt like there was enough of me to go around. If I was being a good foster mom, I was not always being the mama that my own children needed. And if I was being a good mama to my three, I went to bed feeling as though I had not met the needs of the teenagers that day. I loved with most of my being, and finding balance was not my strong suit. So I stared at this little duplex. At the time, my friend (who is an exemplary mother) called the duplex home. And sometimes, if the blinds were left open, I would see her sitting on the couch chatting with her teenage daughter, sharing life together in the same way that I want to share life with my own daughters when they are teenagers. And I secretly told God that I wanted that. I wanted to be here in this place, on this campus which is our home, and I wanted a season to be just mama to my children. It was more of a wish, but I knew that God knew the longings of my heart. And today here I am.

God's blessings are not lost on me. He heard my heart longings and he provided. It was not on my timing, but it was in his. And it has turned out so much better than I ever could have imagined. Because today I sit here, full term with my second son. And Boss is asleep downstairs, our first son resting soundly next to him. And the girls are upstairs snug in their beds. The school room is almost put together, the crib has been assembled, our table is small, but with just enough space for our family of six. Tiny newborn clothes await a washing and my hospital bag sits by my bed. And it all feels like a dream, this blessed life that I am living.

There are hard days, for sure. Boss is running all over town, keeping Fieldcrest Lane market ready while continuously putting our home together here. Emotions are running high with all of the change that has taken place and with the anticipation of a new brother to be added to the bunch any day now. And there are still financial stresses. But mostly there is peace. Peace and gratitude. Because the baby will come when he is ready, and when we leave the hospital? We will bring him home. To this place. This place that I longed for, perhaps without really knowing that I longed for it, but God provided it for our little family anyway.

My heart overflows.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

a tale of twenty five dollars

So, he did it again.

Remember this story? The one where I shared that God so generously provided for all of our needs, right down to the very last penny? Well, he did it again. God came through for our little family once more. I don't know why God consistently shows up. I am certainly undeserving of the constant reminder that he hears, he cares, and he is in control of all things. But there is nothing cooler than when we can see God at work in our lives. Of this I am convinced.


Boss and I know of a family in need, so I suggested that Boss pull out an extra twenty five dollars last Wednesday evening when we were at the bank. My thought was to gift this other family with the money, so that perhaps they could buy a meal out this coming week. My hope being to ease a bit of their stress. Obviously twenty five dollars is nothing big. It would only be a little something, but I am into 'little somethings' these days. Little somethings are a good place to start. And who is to say that little somethings will not one day turn into big somethings? But I digress.

So, I asked Boss for the money. Boss hesitated. Not because Boss is uncaring, but because he is the one who handles our finances and he knows how much is currently in our account. Or isn't in our account. Things will remain a bit tight until our property on Fieldcrest Lane sells. To be honest, Boss and I argued a bit over whether we should pull the twenty five dollars out or not. It was not our best moment, but in the end, giving to others won out and the money was withdrawn. We both desperately want to become people who are faithful with little, so out the money came, with us specifically discussing that God is faithful and able to provide for our needs right down to the very last penny.

Fast forward two hours and our family entered the church building for Wednesday evening services. A sweet woman, whom I have recently loved getting to know, approached me and handed me a card. She told me (as she always does) that she had been thinking of and praying for our family, and that she wanted to give us a little something. Some fun money to buy pizzas for an easy supper after the new baby arrives, or to use sooner for whatever need we had. We chatted a bit more, I thanked her, and then she walked away. As we got in the car to drive home that evening, I opened her card. Care to guess how much money was inside? You guessed it.

Twenty five dollars.

The exact amount of money that Boss and I had been arguing over taking out of the bank to share with another, this sweet lady so generously shared with us. On the very same night. Feel free to call it coincidence if you like. But I prefer to believe that it is just another way for God to show that he hears, he cares, and he is in control of all things. Right down to the very last penny, God will provide.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

the very real me

(This post is linked to Raising Arrows Welcome Home Wednesday)

Oh, goodness me, I am a dreamer.

I dream of a happy marriage and many children. I dream of making our home a haven. I dream of family adventures, a cute little camper to travel the country in. I dream of writing words that make a difference in the world around me. I dream of living a life that matters, of serving others until it hurts to do so. I dream of being more, of doing more. I dream big.

And sometimes, if I am being completely honest, those sweet children that I said were part of the dream (and they are), and that home that I want to make into a haven, sometimes I feel as though they get in the way of me finding the real me. Because surely there must be more! I sometimes feel that if only I could push it all aside, if I could lay the responsibility down, then maybe I could really shine! If I could peel back the layers of motherhood and homemaking, then maybe I could find what it is that I am meant to do. Who I am meant to be. Maybe I could find the very real me. And it's true. Sometimes I am so busy living in the land of my dreams, that I forget to live life well in my reality.

But God has been teaching me. He is always teaching me.

This motherhood and homemaking is for but a season. And a short one at that. God, in his infinite wisdom, designed it that way. There will come a time when my body will no longer be capable of carrying a child. I will always be a mama, but one day my chicks will leave the nest (and then I will sob like a baby). And I will always be the keeper of our home (wherever that may be), but the day will come when my responsibilities to our home will be less. The load will lighten. And then I will be free to pursue other callings. But for today, for right now, my calling is here. In my home and with my children. And there is no other setting that I am better suited to shine than this very setting that the Lord has placed me! For this very season! I am doing exactly what I was meant to do. Mama is who I am meant to be.

And I can't tell you how freeing this lesson learned has been.

My current job is to live the life I have been given well. To love, nurture, and care for my husband. To raise my children to be disciples for Christ. To make our home a haven. These roles make up the very real me and they are enough. I don't have to keep searching. My calling is clear.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

brilliant, and beautiful, and brave

I recently made a new friend (love that!). We drove home together from an event the other night and as we rode along we went through the usual 'get to know you' small talk. My new friend began to tell me of  her young daughter. Her face lit up when she shared with me all of the qualities that she loved about her girl. She used words like brilliant, and beautiful, and brave. And I could actually feel the love and admiration that this mama had for her child flowing right out of her heart.
And I wondered, do I speak of my beloved children often enough in a positive light?
Being a mama is hard work and our sweet children often get a bad rap for being, well, for just being children. As mama's, we talk about how noisy they are, how much bickering can happen amongst siblings, how our little one still won't use the potty consistently (this is a current in my world). And sometimes the talking is okay (though do make sure your sweet children are not within ear shot!). It's nice to know we are not alone in the mama world. But for all of the negative talking that we do, we need to make sure that positive talk of our children, their behavior, their unique gifts is happening all the more. And sometimes we need to positive talk where our children can hear us! Our children need to know that we are proud of them. That we are privileged to be their mama. Every child should have the honor of hearing his or her mother say that they are brilliant, and beautiful, and brave. 
So tonight I am going to shine some love on my sweet Kate. My middle child that I never want to feel as though she were overlooked.

Somewhere amidst the crazy that has been this past month, my Kate turned into a reader. Every day she wants to read! The same books over, and over, and over again. And she always laughs at the same silly parts. (I love her laugh!) Teaching Kate how to read took two whole years. It did not come easy. But it was important to her, so she never grumbled, complained, or gave up. And now she is soaring and is so, so proud of herself. I am proud of her, too. And I find her to be brilliant.

My Kate has twinkly eyes and the very best smile. She has a tender heart. She loves nurturing small children, playing with dolls and stuffed animals, skipping and laughing with her little friends. Kate loves all of God's creation, every animal and person. As we were moving, she collected all of the change that she found (under couch cushions, behind the fridge), so that she could give it to Jesus to help another in need. (Lest you think she is perfect, she also announced that she would be keeping the dollar bills that she found for herself...) Kate's heart overflows with compassion for this world. I find my daughter to be beautiful.

This world can be scary. People, especially other children, can often be mean. But Kate sees the best in everyone. If a child is left alone on the playground, Kate will be their friend. If Boss or I say something that is not nice about another, Kate is quick to remind us about using uplifting words. If Kate is ever unkind, her heart truly grieves over her sin. Including others, being a good example, admitting when you are wrong... all of those things are hard for most adults, but they come easy to Kate. She is not scared to walk a different path than the rest of the world. My daughter is brave.

Our children are not a season to be endured. They are amazing gifts to be celebrated! Crafted and given to us specifically by our Maker. Our children are brilliant, and beautiful, and brave. As their mama's, let's make sure that they know it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

a story of hope

I first met Brittnie in the early nineties.

You know. Back when perms and Keds were rockin' the planet. (Is it true that the Keds style shoe is making a come back or are my eyes deceiving me?) Brittnie had just moved to our town with her family and she became a fast friend to our little gaggle of girls at church. We shared secrets, and sleepovers, and silliness. It was at her house that I plucked my eyebrows for the very first time (and I am not sure they have ever fully recovered). Brittnie was a part of my life until high school, but after that we parted ways. I began attending a different private school and my family began attending another church.

Fast forward fifteen or so years and I discovered Brittnie's blog. She was now an adult! Just like me! Duh. But I still find it weird that we are now the grownups in life. I loved catching up on the years of her life that I had missed. We were now both wives and mothers. And we shared something else that I had no idea about until I read her words. We had both walked through the darkness that is an eating disorder and had come out on the other side.

We both now shared a story of hope.

Brittnie's blog is a beautiful place. She writes there of her joy renewed. And today she asked me to share in her space. It is an honor to share my story of hope.

To visit Brittnie's blog and to read my story click here. And as always, thank you for sharing in my life. Life is so much better when we do it together.

(Eeek! I just read my words over on her site. Oh, the mess that was my grammar and spacing! Please ignore, as I was writing with fingers trembling....)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

sunday inspiration

Monday – Wash Day
Lord, help me wash away all my selfishness and vanity, so I may serve you with perfect humility through the week ahead.
Tuesday – Ironing Day
Dear Lord, help me iron out all the wrinkles of prejudice I have collected through the years so that I may see the beauty in others.
Wednesday – Mending Day
O God, help me mend my ways so I will not set a bad example for others.
Thursday – Cleaning Day
Lord Jesus, help me to dust out all the many faults I have been hiding in the secret corners of my heart.
Friday – Shopping Day
O God, give me the grace to shop wisely so I may purchase eternal happiness for myself and all others in need of love.
Saturday – Cooking Day
Help me, my Savior, to brew a big kettle of brotherly love and serve it with clean, sweet bread of human kindness.
Sunday – The Lord’s Day
O God, I have prepared my house for you. Please come into my heart so I may spend the day and the rest of my life in your presence.
- Author Unknown
I have seen this sweet poem floating around on several sites and I found it to be especially inspiring as I have been busy setting up our new nest. So many chores! My list is a mile long and if I am not careful I tend to become so focused on the project at hand (washing dishes, unpacking boxes, hanging pictures, folding tiny baby clothes) that I forget what is truly important.... being right with God and working on my insides before moving outward. If all of the clothes are washed, folded, and put away, but my spirit is full of selfishness, grumbling, and complaints, then it is all for not. I will still have failed at the task at hand.
As we enter this new week, let us fix our eyes on the things that are of most importance! And simply trust that everything else will fall into place.

Friday, April 19, 2013



I do believe that we are beginning to get settled into our new nest.

This darling duplex is smaller than any space we have ever called home, and ironically enough, soon we will bring our new family number up to six! Yet despite it's small size, I think that I am falling in love with this new space. It seems to be the theme of our lives so far this year, but as with everything else, our family is finding that less is often more. And already, this small space feels like so much more. More than we have ever had before. More peace, more bodies snuggled into one space, more smiles, more feelings of this is so right. Because it is so right.

I am so grateful for this chance to start fresh. I know full well that it didn't have to happen. A fresh start does not come along every day. So I will do my best to see each new day in this small space as a gift. To be grateful for the grace that was given, another opportunity to get this thing called life right.

Tonight at supper (cinnamon rolls, eggs, and homemade granola mixed with yogurt and banana), I looked across the table at my king. He is oh, so handsome to me. I looked at him and thought of this life that we are building together. And I laughed, because while most of the world is climbing up, we always seem to be headed back down. Back down to what matters most, we say. And I am good with that.

And if it is true? If any home can be a castle when the king and queen are in love, then there has never been a more splendid duplex in all the land. Because this man, these children, this space? They are all I need to feel settled. They are all I need to feel at home.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

moving day

This post is linked to Welcome Home Wednesdays on Raising Arrows.


Today we are moving, so it really is Welcome Home Wednesday for our family.

We are moving to our new nest (a darling duplex that is part of staff housing where Boss works). We are moving out to where the corn grows tall. We are moving to where life comes a bit slower and things feel a bit more plain and simple. We are moving to where the lake glistens bright and the geese honk loud. We are moving to where children can run free. We are moving so that I can stay home and pursue the role of full time home school mama to four. We are moving so that I can be a homemaker, a prayer I have prayed for a decade.

Today we are moving, so my words are few. Instead, I will let the words of others do the talking.

Happy Homemaking, Friends.






Tuesday, April 16, 2013

farewell life on fieldcrest lane

Tonight is our last night on Fieldcrest Lane.

(Fieldcrest Lane in February. Isn't she lovely?)
Tomorrow our new adventure begins.

Monday, April 15, 2013

lesson from the lady on the bike


We are moving Wednesday morning (as in the day after tomorrow) and this past week has been a frantic scurry of finishing up home school cooperatives, work, and packing. Packing, packing, packing. I will admit that despite this move being an answer to prayer and something we are incredibly grateful for, I have found myself becoming a bit nostalgic as of late. I really did like this silly old house and our life on Fieldcrest Lane. Our home here sits on a picturesque plot and in the land of nostalgia I tend to forget all about the broken heat pumps, the broken water pumps, the leaky ceiling, and the thousands of dollars we have poured into this place that we did not have. I close my eyes and all I see is charm. The children swinging high on the tree swing out back, cooking hot dogs over the fire pit, picking apples from our trees. And my heart gets a tiny bit sad that we are leaving. It feels a bit unfair that we have struggled so much with our finances this year, and I am tempted to feel sorry for our family and to feel jealousy towards those who have 'more'. Just keeping it real. But God is always so good at meeting me right where I am.

Yesterday morning our family was driving to church and we passed a woman on a bike. The bike was loaded down with belongings and the woman was wearing a furry white coat, peddling hard against the wind. Boss pointed out that the woman on the bike can often be found attending our church. I nodded and agreed that I had seen her before. And I felt slightly guilty for the 'woe is me' attitude I had been sporting this past week. There we sat in our moving vehicle (one of two that we own), our children nicely dressed, just going through the motions of getting to church. No effort or energy was being exerted on our part. To the woman on the bike, those speeding past in cars must look as though they have it made. I must look as though I have it made. Because the truth is that I do. I have it made. Only I  can't see that truth when I am pouting.

And then our minister? He did it. He preached on pursuing poverty. On laying everything we have at Christ's feet to be used by him in whatever way he sees fit. On valuing people over possessions. On not letting our desire for money and things be greater than our desire to do God's will in our lives. And then our minister challenged us to open our wallets. To take out whatever change we had. To come forward and put our offering, large or small, in the plate to be given to those who enter our church building looking for a hand up. To empty ourselves before God, trusting that he will provide when we have need. .

I opened my wallet and found a dollar bill. It didn't seem like much, certainly not worth walking forward for. I almost snapped my wallet shut when I saw her. The woman in the white coat, the one we had passed on her bike on our way in. She had shown up and she was walking forward. I have no idea what she gave, but that's not the point. The point is that she gave. Someone with so few earthly possessions found the strength to empty herself before God. And she encouraged me to do the same. My dollar went in the plate.

I left church with a different attitude. This house on Fieldcrest Lane is lovely, but it is not necessary. And the money we have poured into it this past year? Not at all how we desire to be spending our funds. There are people in this world, people right here in our community who are in need. And it is not God's desire that we should be spending all of our 'spare' change on our possessions as we have done this past year. He desires us to pour out ourselves, all that we have, before him, instead of pouring out ourselves, all that we have, on a picturesque lifestyle. Needless to say, my pouting has ceased.

I do pray that our property on Fieldcrest Lane sells quickly. And once it does, I pray that our family will have the courage to do with our funds what we should have been doing all along. Giving them right back to the one who so generously gave them to us in the first place.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

On Faith, Family, and Flat Stanley

I am kind of in love with our home school community. Okay. I am really in love with it.

Tonight, my oldest daughter was in the musical that she has been practicing for all year. Flat Stanley. My oldest daughter is a lot like me. Her diva comes out at home and in small settings where she feels comfortable and confident. But in a large crowd she is content to simply be part of the group. She loves showing up, working hard, having fun, and being involved. That is enough for her. She has yet to try out for a major role in a play, always happy to be in the background. Maybe someday she will try for more. Maybe not. Either way, she shines.

The play was cute. My daughter did have one dance scene that she has worked really hard on and tonight she rocked it. Her diva came out for the crowd for two whole minutes. But the play was not my favorite part of the evening. My favorite part of the evening was sitting in the church sanctuary with more than one hundred other like minded people. Every time we gather together as a home school community I get chills. And I feel so thankful and blessed for this community we have chosen to be a part of.

Here's the thing. I believe there are a million different ways to do life right (as long as you are walking with Christ). There is not a one size fits all method. God made each of us different. Unique. With different callings and different paths. And this is our path. The one we have chosen and feel so humbled to be walking down.

Sometimes I think homeschooling gets a bad rap. A few weeks ago, I was even called 'silly' (by a woman I respect and admire) for the choice Boss and I have made in educating our children. I hear all of the time that home schooled children are too sheltered. Unsocialized. That when faced with peer pressure or difficult choices in the future, home schooled children will crumble. Or rebel. And that parents who keep their children at home are not preparing them for the real world.

But I have to wonder, what real world am I to be preparing my children for? Because if I am preparing them to climb corporate ladders, to chase the world's standard of success, then I am okay with not preparing them for that. I would rather my children walk in the opposite direction. And it's true. My children could crumble one day. And they might rebel. Again, there is no one size fits all method. If homeschooling was sure to guarantee safety and success, I believe all parents who love their children would do so! Only there is no guarantee. But my hope and my prayer is that by being truly grounded, in both God's Word and in our family, that my children won't crumble when times get tough. That they would be rooted enough in family and faith to stand strong. And as far as being unsocialized goes, I suppose that depends on your definition of what type of socialization is important. Because it's true. My children are not surrounded by peers their own age day in and day out. But instead they are surrounded by a variety of ages and I love that! My daughters have friends who range in age from three to sixteen and they truly consider each one of them, no matter their age, a friend. It's kind of beautiful. And I don't think Boss and I are silly for sheltering our children. In fact, I am happy to do so. The real world comes at each of us eventually. And I am thankful that for just a little while my little ones hearts can be light. The heavy will come soon enough.

Homeschooling was not in our original plan. And had we chosen a different route it would not have meant we loved our kids less. Or more. It simply would have been different. And I have no doubt that no matter the route I would have done my best to be the best mama I could be. But I am thankful for this route. This path. This journey. And I am thankful that we are able to travel it together. As a family. And on nights like tonight, I am most thankful for the like minded community that surrounds and encourages us as we seek to raise our children to be disciples for Christ.

Yes. I am kind of in love with our home school community. Okay. I am really in love with it.

(image by Denise Owens Photography)

Friday, April 12, 2013

these are a few of my favorite things

Most people seem to enjoy planning and preparing for a baby girl more than a baby boy. Not me. I love my two darling daughters to pieces, but baby boy things have always called to me. Always. Perhaps it is because I think baby boys look like tiny old men, and I think tiny old men are darling. I don't know. But I do know that with only four(ish) weeks left in this pregnancy, I have all things baby boy on the brain.

These are a few of my favorite things. I keep pinning them on Pinterest in hopes that some of my crafty friends and relatives will get inspired. (Remember, I am only crafty when it comes to making people.) But maybe a better plan would be to introduce my mother to Etsy, so she could just buy my favorite things for me? Or perhaps I should embrace the less is more attitude in all areas of life (including the area of decorating, shopping, and preparing for our new baby boy) and realize that whether my son is wearing a plain white onesie or a colorful one with attached suspenders really doesn't matter. He will be darling and dapper no matter what. Because he is mine and I already love him more than words can say. 

But nevertheless, a few of my favorite things for your viewing pleasure....








 So there you have it. A few of my favorite boy things.

(And to address any questions or concerns you might have, yes, my son will be sporting leg warmers.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

thank goodness i'm crafty


According to the above picture, I am quite crafty. Awesome. Because my craftiness is all I have going for me at the moment. My brain is gone. Perhaps the current person I am making is stealing my brain cells? I have no idea. All I know is that my brain is completely shot. Seriously.

Some examples:

- My mom kept my children one afternoon last week. After they returned, I could not find my diaper bag. I searched for a bit, came up empty handed, and then just assumed I had left my bag at my mom's house. Three days later I found my diaper bag. In the refrigerator. Right next to the fruit cups. And what is most alarming to me is not that I placed my diaper bag in the fridge in the first place. What is most alarming is that for three days, every single time I opened the fridge (which is quite often these days), I never once noticed a giant bag sitting on the second shelf. I have no words.

- My sweet friends recently threw me a small baby sprinkle, where my super talented and crafty (in more ways than making people, although she did conceive triplets..... naturally) friend blessed me with an adorable handmade quilt for my new son. With his name on it. And my first thought upon reading the name on the quilt was that is not how you spell Jack. Obviously. Because my new son's name is Luke. And it was awkward because I shared this revelation out loud. At that point I wished I had had no words.

- Back in January our small group at church planned a video scavenger hunt. Celebrate Cincinnati. Cool, right? We set the date for April 13th. And if anyone had asked, I could have told them the date. My oldest daughter has been practicing for a play this entire school year. The date of the play? April 13th. And if anyone had asked, I could have told them the date. But never once did I put the two dates together. I assumed (until just a few days ago) that I was attending both events until a friend on Facebook mentioned that she could not attend the scavenger hunt because she was attending my daughter's play. Duh. Clearly, so was I. What if my friend had not mentioned the fact that both events were on the same night? Where would I have wound up? The possibilities are endless.

- Our children attend two different home school cooperatives on two different days of the week. On Wednesday I drove to Monday's cooperative without thinking. The empty parking lot alerted me to the fact that I was at the wrong church building, so I headed back out in a different direction and took a new route........ back to the very same church building with the empty parking lot. No worries. The third time was the charm and we eventually wound up where we needed to be.

I have no clue when my brain will return. Or if it will return. I am slightly worried that I will live in this perpetual state of crazy forever. But hey, at least I'm crafty. There's always that.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


(my beautiful girls. first and third grade.)
My children are incredibly happy that we are moving home.

It's sort of ridiculous how happy they are, but I get it. Because I feel the exact same way. Most afternoons and evenings these past two weeks have been spent working on our new nest, which means that we don't see our children from the moment we park the car until the moment that it is time to leave. They are off running, exploring, playing with friends, poking holes in the ground with a big stick (That would be Jack. I don't understand boys.), covering their bodies in dirt. And they come back to our new nest when the sun is setting low. Exhausted, smiling, and in desperate need of a bath. And I think to myself what a beautiful childhood they are living. And while I know this season of childhood will not last forever, I desperately pray that the beautiful part does.


I have shared before that the early years of my own childhood were beautiful. Idyllic, even. Family, friends, holidays, swimming, snow cones, dance lessons. I had seven years of sunshine. And I am grateful for the fact that the beginning of my story was strong. After seven years of working in the foster care world, I know that is not always the case. Many children only know darkness, so I will forever be thankful for the years where the sun shined brightly in my life. But the rain clouds were coming.

We moved to Texas when I was eight years old. We moved to the pink house, where our family would live until I headed off to college. I started second grade at Jane Long Elementary school and second grade was good. Second grade was where I fell in love with writing. With words. And I knew then that I wanted to change a small piece of the world through the writing of my words. Someday. Somehow.

But then came third grade, and along with it the first darkness in my life. In third grade I learned that children can be cruel. I learned that fitting in was more important than finding myself. Blending in better than becoming who God created me to be. Third grade was where I felt for the very first time in my life that perhaps God had made a mistake when he made me. In third grade there was no sunshine. I started to feel ill. All the time. And while I now know it was anxiety and depression induced, at the time it felt real. Nine years old and living began to feel too hard. I missed school more than I attended, and it was then that I learned the unhealthy habit of running away when life began to feel too overwhelming. Third grade started me down a path of darkness, and it would be years before I would be brave enough to let my light shine once more.


So I look at my daughters, one of them the very same age I was when the darkness came, and the sunshine they still have makes my soul sing. To be honest,  one of the reasons we home school is to keep the sun shining in our children's lives for as long as is humanly possible. Or to keep the Son shining. Really, it's one in the same. My children do not live in a bubble. Living alongside foster children has taught them that there is pain and darkness in this world. But there has yet to be extreme pain and darkness in their world. I know it will eventually come. I am not naive. But my prayer is that when the darkness does come, my children are able to be rooted and strong. Rooted in God's Word and strong in their faith, so that they will not be easily swayed by the words and opinions of others.

Childhood can be cruel. It can be crushing. But it can also be beautiful. It can be sisters, and swing sets, and summer, and sunshine. And that is the gift that I want to give to my daughters. It is my prayer that the Son will always shine brightly in their lives. That even through the rain clouds life brings their way, that their lights would still shine. That is my prayer for these beautiful daughters of mine.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

sprinkled.... baby shower style

Yesterday, I was sprinkled with love by five of my most favorite women on the planet.

The more children you have, the less you expect people to celebrate the news of a new baby. As my brother so kindly pointed out the last time we spoke, our announcing number four was on his way was a bit like Apple announcing they were coming out with the iPhone six. It's no longer that big of an announcement or surprise. (I think my brother was kidding. Maybe.)

But we have received nothing but an outpouring of love over the news of our latest blessing, and it has been such a gift for my heart.

Yesterday, five of my dearest friends got together and threw Luke and I a little shower. Or maybe it was more of a sprinkle. A little sprinkle of love and joy for baby number four. The 'theme' was vanilla coke, because in my world there is no other drink on the planet. Except for diet vanilla coke, but I try and refrain while I am pregnant. So kind of me, I know. We chatted, and laughed, shared stories, and they blessed me with gifts for my new bundle of a baby boy. I felt so blessed and loved.

And I have decided that while announcing a new baby is no longer a new thing for our family, it is still an awesome thing. A desired, highly anticipated, much wanted thing. And we cannot wait for our new gift to join our family next month.

Thank you, friends, for blessing me. Thank you for your sprinkle of love.

 * all photographs courtesy of Heather Matthews Photography


Thursday, April 4, 2013

missing the point

(Sweet Friends on Easter Sunday)

We enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday with grandparents and friends turned family. Worshipping together in the morning, followed by a delicious lunch, egg hunts for all ages, talking and sharing with old friends and new, and the traditional 'waffles for dinner'. (What, you don't eat waffles on Easter?) It is easily one of my most favorite days of the year. Hands down.

It was the days leading up to Easter that have me feeling as though I have failed in this mama thing.

Holidays in our home need to change.

The celebration doesn't need to change. The smiles, and the activities, and the friends don't need to change. But our attitudes? Those need to go. Our minds? It wouldn't hurt if they were a bit more focused on the meanings behind the days that we celebrate. Because my cute children? They just aren't getting the point of any of it. And it is my job to teach them.

My daughters spent the days leading up to Easter writing letters to the big bunny. The letters included gift selections they were graciously going to allow him to bring them. How nice. And on Easter morning? My kids spent the entire drive to worship singing a song they had written about arm pits, and unicorns, and jelly beans. I laughed a bit before my heart sank. But my heart did sink. Because as a family, we have totally and completely missed the point.

This year has been a big year of deep thoughts for Boss and I. Thoughts of who we want to be, both as individuals and as a family. Lots of reflection on where we have been and where we are going. Things are changing in our hearts and in our minds, and I feel as though God is doing some major reconstruction in the foundation of our family. Without a doubt, we want the point of our lives to be to point to Him. In everything. And that includes holidays.

So we are left wondering, how do we redirect our children's hearts? How do we ease away from the big bunny, and the man in the red suit, and the fairy who brings money for lost teeth? How do we make the special days more about family, and love, and Christ?

I am not in a place where I think the big bunny and his friends are wrong. I love seeing my children's eyes sparkle and their smiles light up, just like the next mama. I am just in the place where I find thinking about the imaginary holiday people (or bunnies) more than we think about Christ is wrong. I am bothered by the fact that as a family we talk more about the Easter bunny coming, than we talk about Christ's second coming. And in my heart I know that holidays in our home must change. Because I want my children to get the point of it all. To really get it.

Boss and I are not sure how we are going to go about getting our families focus where it should be, we are just sure that we are. And we are sure that it will start with us. If we are not pointing to Him in all things, how can we possibly show our children the way? Each day it is a choice. In the everyday and on the holiday.

Point to Him, or don't. But if we don't, I do believe we are missing the point.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The New Nest

(the new nest)

Hi, friends! Today I am linking up with Welcome Home Wednesdays on Raising Arrows.

Our family is somewhat nomadic. At least that is what people keep telling us, as they struggle to understand our decision to move once more. But I prefer the term adventurous. Or striving to get things in this earthly life right. It has always been our number one priority to have me stay at home while Boss provides for our family. It has always been our priority to have my number one roles be wife, mama, homemaker, and now home educator. And we will always do our best to make that priority a reality. Even if we have to move every single year until our last little birdie leaves the nest. It's that important to us.

We are set to move again before the end of this month, right before baby number four arrives. It will be home number ten in ten years of marriage. We have lived in two apartments, a season with my parents, a brand new cookie cutter starter home, three different homes on children's home campuses, one older farm house, and most recently our cottage on Fieldcrest Lane. Our new nest will be a duplex that is part of staff housing where Boss works.

As I was uploading the picture I took of our new nest, Boss told me there was not an editing preset in existence that could make our new nest look beautiful. But I told him that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me, the duplex will always be beautiful. The duplex is offering me the chance to do what I have longed to do for an entire decade. It is offering me the opportunity to be the wife, mama, homemaker, and home educator that I have always dreamed of being. And for that reason, the duplex is the most beautiful gift I have ever received. And while it may not look like much on the outside, we will appreciate the gifts that it does offer (like an awesome master bath with a whirlpool tub and original hardwood stairs) and we will work to bring beauty to the rest.

I believe that a godly home is a foretaste of heaven. Our homes, imperfect as they are, must be a haven from the chaos outside. They should be a reflection of our eternal home, where troubled souls find peace, weary hearts find rest, hungry bodies find refreshment, lonely pilgrims find communion, and wounded spirits find compassion. - Jani Ortlund

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


(my oldest daughter. she makes my heart happy.)

Today was happiness.

For the first time in who knows how long, the children and I had nothing on our agenda. Not one single thing. No school lessons, no work, no pressing responsibilities, no packing for our upcoming move. So I declared it happy day, a day for doing whatever we wanted. Not having an agenda is happiness.

For three hours this morning, all three children played together in the girls room. Nicely. There was only one crying spell, because Jack wanted to be Belle and his sisters would not let him. Hopefully having a new brother will one day cure Jack of his love for the Disney princesses. Children playing together nicely is happiness.

For three hours this morning, I sat on the couch with my feet up. I have not sat and done nothing during this entire pregnancy. My ankles look beautiful. Beautiful ankles at eight months pregnant is happiness. Come to think of it, simply having ankles at eight months pregnant is happiness.

After lunch, my parents came and picked up all three children for the afternoon. They do this every week, but usually I am working and do not get to enjoy the quiet. Today, the quiet was all mine. Happiness. So I did what I love most in this world. I took my large, pregnant self to the bookstore. I ordered my favorite drink, a White Chocolate Mocha with a splash of raspberry (today it was iced, as this baby is causing some serious hot flashes), walked through the aisles and breathed in the books (the smell of books is my favorite), and then claimed a large, overstuffed chair for myself. And there I sat for three more hours. For those wondering, that brings us to a total of six hours of sitting in one single day. It is quite possible I may never want to get up and productive again. Sitting for six hours is happiness.

While I sat, I read Mark Batterson's book Soul Print. Mark Batterson is currently rocking my world. He is not the most splendid writer on the planet, but his messages seem to be meeting me right where I am in my walk. Soul conviction is happiness.

Seven quotes from Soul Print that brought me a bit of happiness today:

When your life is over, the world will ask you only one question: Did you do what you were supposed to do? - Ziolkowski

In God's grand scheme, it's never about orchestrating the right circumstances. It's always about becoming the right person.

When you stop living for selfish purposes, the pressure comes off. And that's when your destiny comes into focus.

Until we experience death to self, we'll never come to life in the truest and fullest sense of the word.

If you want to find yourself, you've got to look for God.

Your real, new self.... will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.  - C.S. Lewis

If you aren't careful, your God-given dream can become more important to you than the Dream Giver Himself.

Life is busy. It probably always will be. But every once in a while it feels nice to pick a day, clear the calendar, and focus on the things that bring our soul's deep and fulfilling happiness in this life. For me, that day was today.

For me, today was happiness.