Thank you for visiting, I hope you stick around! This is a blog dedicated to encouraging women to rest in God's grace and righteousness. I pray that nothing you read or see here leaves you feeling discouraged or inadequate. The last thing I want is to contribute to the "I don't measure up to this blog" epidemic that is plaguing so many moms today! My prayer is that this blog helps any readers (and myself) be comfortable with the eternal and secure identity in Christ that is there for the taking. Here's to walking in His liberty!


Monday, November 4, 2013

why perfect mom syndrome belittles the gospel...

Picture this. Someone hands you a beautifully wrapped present...we're talking Nordstrom's gift-wrapping counter quality here. It's obvious they spent a lot of time making sure every corner was perfect, that no tape was visible, and that the hand crafted ribbon bow was just right. It's plain to see that they spend hours picking out the most aesthetically pleasing combination of wrapping paper and ribbon.

Now imagine opening this gift, and finding the contents of one of those little silver trash cans attached to each stall of a public women's restroom. Yuck. What kind of person would do such a thing? Who would think that slapping a bow on this appalling mess would make somebody want it?

This kind of person would. Each day, I present my own righteous works to King Jesus as if I can somehow contribute to His perfect atonement on the cross. I wrap my filthy (menstrual, actually) rags, filled with self-righteousness and pride, in a cute little bow and haughtily strut this little package up to the throne as if it's something the Holy One needs. How dare I. I have the audacity to do this everyday, several times a day.

When I try to claw my way to the top of that perfect mommy/wife pedestal that I've created, this is what's happening. I am dishonoring Christ's work on the cross. I am slapping the Lord of Lords in the face, telling Him "that's nice, what you did...giving your perfect, sinless life and bearing and becoming all sin, and letting me share in your glory; but I really don't need help with this. This I am amazing at...just watch." How dare I. How dare I push His kindness aside to adorn myself with rags and flaunt my self-proclaimed greatness to the world??

This is a lot to handle, I know. I've been listening to "Since I am So Sick" by Enter the Worship Circle on repeat, and I know it's showing. The thing is, daily I forsake Him. Daily I belittle Him. Hourly I forget Him. And yet, ETERNALLY  He is kind. Eternally He is on the throne. Eternally He is faithful, righteous, loving, merciful, majestic, beautiful. In light of this, why do I keep trying to prove to myself and the rest of the world what a great mom & wife I am? On what scale do we think it will matter that we have clean baseboards, or don't give our kids candy, or homeschool, or clean our houses with vinegar instead of windex, or cook gourmet meals for our families every night? Do these "successes" (as we deem them) have eternal weight? Do these works add to the all encompassing, perfect, sufficient grace of God?

Hear me real quick when I say that there is nothing wrong with having strong beliefs/convictions/opinions or whatever about any of these things. Surely it is beneficial to be a good steward of our bodies, our health, our time, our homes, our precious babies. This is glorifying to God right up to the point where we become prideful in our own abilities, and our motives turn sinful. If I think that eating all organic or homeschooling (the list goes on and on....and I definitely don't eat all organic) makes me better than anyone else, yes, this is pride...and pride is sin. My pride in my own choices, accomplishments, abilities, is what belittles the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ does not include my greatness. The gospel frees me of the bondage of trying to prove my greatness. My greatness does not exist....my evil and depravity is covered by God's greatness!

Weary mother, beautiful young woman serving Him single, gentleman who stumbled upon this post, listen to this:

No matter what I do, no matter what choices I make, I am not--CAN NOT BE--good enough. Christ in me is my only hope of glory. Christ in me is my only hope of being a good wife, parent, friend, daughter, sister, employee, whatever He calls me to be. Please, oh please, live and rest in this freedom.

Here's to making much of Christ by boasting in our weakness!


Friday, October 4, 2013

holiday humility...

Every year. Every single year, we all stress about the holidays and which side of the family we will be with on which day, which side gets Thanksgiving, which side gets Christmas Eve....do we even go to our family holiday dinners at all this year? If you aren't familiar with this stress, well...this blog post might not be for you, but please feel free to keep reading.

A few years ago (and as recent as last holiday season), my husband and I decided we were going to take a stand and "start our own holiday traditions." We decided we weren't going to be guilted into going to family holiday things...that we'd only go if we wanted to. I almost can't bear to read that as I'm typing it (Know that I just deleted and retyped this several times). The thought of my family reading this--and I know some of you will--just makes me want to cry. I'd like to take the time to publicly apologize for this attitude.

Let me hurry and say something real quick like before a bunch of people stop reading. This concept, in and of itself, is not bad at all. I think it is a wonderful idea to start traditions with your spouse and children...wonderful! I also understand that a lot of people have to travel to be with family over the holidays. Choosing not to cough up the expense to do so...well, that is definitely a choice we would have to make quite frequently if our families lived far away. 

What I am referring to, and attempting to repent of, is the attitude that often goes with these decisions; the attitude I have been guilty of acting with many times. I've shared before that I wrestle daily with not making my husband and children the gods of my life. That being said, as icky as this sounds, I don't want to share them with anyone. I want them to love me the most and the best, I want all of their special memories to include me and my husband....and no one else. ick. I hate admitting that, but in the hope of helping someone else realize the danger of this, I'm powering through! I'm also attempting to repent of being inconvenienced by my parents being amazing grandparents. How dare I?! How dare I have the nerve to be anything less than overwhelmed with thankfulness for their generosity and love?

Don't get me wrong. I'm right there with you, moms who read 7 and books n' blogs like it that talk about how spoiled our kids are. I think we should take steps to prevent this, however, being ungrateful and bossing our parents around is NOT the way to go about it. Dishonoring our parents by ordering them to only get our kids one present? Yep, I've done it, and I'm just going to come out and say it...it's disrespectful and ungrateful. On top of that, remember that your kids are watching you relate to your parents. I know. It's frightening.

If you want to set some kind of limit on the presents (which is a good thing, IMO), I implore you to try and come from a place of humility and respect. This is the kind of thing that requires a discussion, not an punctuation-less text saying "only 1 present for little johnny this year plz." I speak from experience. Yep, daughter of the century, right here.

If you read my post, "who do we think we are?", you might remember my talking about my conviction over not continuing to honor my mother and my in-laws as my adult life progresses. So let me pose the question, am I honoring my parents by secretly wanting to leave them out of my kids' special holiday memories and traditions? Personally (and I think this has to be a personal thing), I feel that I'm not. If I say "thanks for raising me, lending me money, helping me figure out how to be a parent (including at 3 in the morning when I am crying to you saying I can't do it), and trying your best to make the holidays special for me my whole life...but...I think we've got it from here. It's time for us to start "our" traditions now," what message is that sending to not only my children, but siblings and other young parents who are watching these actions?

I don't mean to wag my finger at anyone who makes that tough decision to keep the holidays within your new, precious family unit. It is so precious to have that time alone with your husband and kids! This is a conviction that God has heavily placed on my heart, and I don't have the audacity to believe everyone should follow suit. All I know is, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my mom. My husband wouldn't be here if it wasn't for his parents. Our incredible, breathtaking babies wouldn't be here if it weren't for these precious people. In light of this, I feel that including them in the new traditions we hope to build, and continuing to embrace the established traditions is a very practical way we can honor our parents. Honestly, is it that hard to do your own thing and show up at your family events? I promise, it's not as stressful as you might think!

Lastly, I won't tell you how long I sat and wept a while ago over the thought of my kids not wanting to include me in their holidays after they are grown....it's embarrassing. Let's just say you'd think someone died. I can't expect my kids to honor me into adulthood if I don't set that example; and I hope that--by God's grace--my example might resemble someone who is blessed and privileged  by the opportunity to honor my fantastic parents, someone who doesn't let apathy take over in how they relate to and love on those who made my family possible.

I realize there are some out there who will read this and meet it with bitterness toward parents who they feel failed them. All I can say is that if you've ever seen a holiday movie from the 80s or 90s, you know that the holiday season is prime reconciliation material. Give it a go, I think I will...but that's a story for another time.

Here's to creating a culture of honor in Him,


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

{allow yourself grace} mealtime...

Something sad happened as I was creating this post. I was looking for an image of a fancy, elaborate table setting (to use ironically in this post, mind you), and I would say that about two thirds of the images were from blogs that were encouraging other women to set their tables this way in everyday life. I don't mean to point the finger at anyone else, but I will admit that it almost stopped me from writing this post. In that moment, I felt inadequate...not only as a homemaker (I can count on one hand the times I've done an elaborate tablescape, even for holidays), but as a blogger. "No one is going to want to read this. Look at all these other blogs that help women be fancy. That's what people really want, to be told how they should and can improve." This is what was going through my mind as I scrolled through these photos, with this post in mind.

I'm hoping that since insecurity resonated like a giant gong (sorry, my kids are watching Mulan), it means I definitely need to write this post. Every time that has happened in the past, God has been able to use said post to encourage someone. So...do your thang, Jesus. Encourage someone with what follows...please!

Meal time in our household. Where do I begin? I LOVE to cook . Love it. I promise I'm not saying that to sound all domesticated...frankly it re-he-he-heally bothers me that it's now trendy to cook because it's trendy to be vintage and vintage means June Cleaver meets Julia Child. Pardon me for a moment while I gag. If you genuinely love to cook, own it...by all means. If cooking isn't a passion or hobby for you, but you do it anyway...OWN.IT!! That's awesome! Anyway, I digress...Oh yeah, I like to cook.

My gram and mom were and are fantastic cooks. I grew up eating some great food, and I am so blessed to have learned to cook from these women. That being said, last time I checked I had at least 4 kids...maybe more. Sometimes it feels like more. I ADORE that we are blessed with a large family, and I adore this adventure with my husband. I see the gospel everyday in my life, in my home, in my children. What a tremendous blessing! That doesn't mean that it isn't excruciatingly hard sometimes. It.Is.Excruciatingly.Hard.Some.Times. Sometimes I am just completely burnt out and done-zo. When these days/stretches of days come, you can place a safe bet on the fact that I don't feel like making dinner. Heck, sometimes it feels like an enormous chore to feed them cereal for breakfast and PB&J for lunch.

So, do I make dinner anyway, you ask? Um...sometimes. Sometimes my wonderful husband will make us a pot of pasta or pancakes, and sometimes we (bum BUM BUMMMMM)--gasp--eat fast food or grab a 5 dollar pizza. When this happens, I will admit that I don't feel as great about how I am providing for my family, but God faithfully allows me to see that while I may be lacking in the "providing sustenance" department, I am filling my cup in the peace and rest department...things that will overflow on to my family as we eat our Taco Bell. I know fast food/frozen pizza/sandwiches might not puff us up as much as we write them in those little boxes on our meal planning forms, but couldn't that be a good thing? I'm much more equipped to show my children the enveloping grace and sufficiency of Christ in my life if I have recently been humbled by admitting that I can't do it all!

Let me say, for the record, my husband takes the family table pretty seriously. I am blessed to be married to a man who longs to sit around our table and make much of Jesus as a family as much as possible. I don't always share this same longing, but it sure is a fun little way to practice that submissive spirit! ;) Even on those nights when our dinner might not be the most nutritious, and may not have been prepared with love in our own kitchen; rather than wallowing in guilt and feeling like a failure, I try to rest in my Jesus' unchanging love for me, and sit around the table with my better half and my 4 gorgeous babies and consume together, with love, the food God has so graciously provided...even if it doesn't include homemade bread or anything organic.

One more quick thing. I know some families are crazy busy, and can't always eat around the table together. While I would encourage everyone to try and make that a priority, please don't feel like there is any judgement here. For us, it's really only been the last couple years that we've, by the grace of God, been able to make it a pretty steady tradition in our home. Also, there are still plenty of nights this doesn't happen for whatever reason...we just try. That's good enough for us.

Oh, and sometimes we use paper plates and stuff. errmahgerrsh. I know.

Here's to being thankful, rather than egotistical, when it comes to our meals!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

{letting your husband lead you, part 2} submission: antiquated and oppressing, or timeless and freeing?

Believe it or not, I am not always a submissive and respectful wife. I'll pause for a second to let that sink in, because I know how shocking it is.

It's been a minute since I've posted anything, and it's because it has taken weeks of thought and prayer for me to be comfortable posting on this topic. I want to portray Biblical submission correctly, and that is a tall order. I'd like to start by talking about the more contemporary view of submission, because until a couple years ago, it was where I camped.

Chances are, if you ask someone who isn't a Christian or someone who goes to a more emergent (emergent: adj a church that focuses on being less institutionalized) Christian church, they will see this concept as a bit outdated or irrelevant. In fact, most people who attend a more traditional Christian church might even be leaning in that direction. I'm not sure, but I would guess that it stems from the fact that nobody wants to be bossed around. Husbands don't want to be told to sacrificially love their wives and give themselves up, or be commanded to cleanse their wives with the Word. In turn, wives don't want to be subject to their husbands. Therefore, "submission" begins to look like domineering husbands controlling their silently reverent wives. I get how that picture of marriage isn't widely accepted in today's society. I get it. Submission just doesn't come naturally to any of us, right?

The problem with living by that logic is that what does come natural to us is sin. When Jesus spoke about dying to self and taking up our cross, well...to me that speaks volumes about not doing what comes naturally to us! Submission doesn't come naturally to me (fo sheezy), but I trust that as I am sanctified by the Holy Spirit and made more like Jesus, that my will (what I naturally desire) will line up more and more with God's will. This command is defined by the Lord, and confined to what is honoring to Him alone. I think somewhere along the way, this slipped through the cracks of the world's view of a wife's role in the marriage relationship.

So what does submission look like, anyway? It seems to me that a lot of people (myself included) don't bother to find that out before just shrugging this concept off as antiquated. To my knowledge, and in my experience, submission looks like what the world might call "mutual respect." If my husband snaps his fingers at me and I bow my head, cower, and there is a childlike obedience there...that wouldn't be healthy for either of us. I would never feel close to my husband if our relationship worked like this, and what reason would he have to respect me? This model for marriage--Jesus and the church--was given to us for our benefit and to create a safe, intimate, mutually encouraging environment within our marriages. 

It seems that the term "submission" has gotten a bad rap, because it is said by many to be oppressive and dishonoring to women. I can definitely see where this idea came from, but I have found it to be completely contrary to my own experience. The Bible tells women to be subject to their own husbands, whether or not their husbands fulfill the counterpart of this command; which if you think about it, is probably why so many people have a problem with it. In my opinion, that is the beautiful thing about it! It's not saying that we should let our husbands treat us like we're nothing, and never say a word about it. I believe it's just saying what should be the most obvious part of marriage--love your spouse even when they don't deserve it. You can love your spouse the best when they are at their worst. This is how Jesus loves the church. I heard a very wise pastor say this once, and I was flabbergasted that it hadn't occurred to me before! 

Additionally, if we look at the part addressed to husbands, it is the most beautiful picture of love there is. Wives, shouldn't we be eternally thankful that God didn't place a condition on that part of it? "Love your wife like Jesus loves the church....if she deserves it." It sends shivers down my spine. Nobody deserves to be loved like that, therein lies the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Godly, Biblical submission (in my experience) looks something like this. If there is an area that I'm not seeing eye to eye with my husband, and what he is asking of me isn't dishonoring to God, I humbly lay my own desires aside (which in and of itself is honoring to God, and commanded by God) and show my husband love and respect with my actions...even if the honorable judge ME has decided he doesn't deserve it. 

What submission might look like:

My husband points me to the Lord when my focus or worship has shifted.
My husband holds me accountable in my relationship with Jesus. 
My husband holds me accountable in my stewardship.
I strive not to undermine his Godly authority over our household.
I don't argue with him in front of our children, and try not to be argumentative in general.
I approach disagreements with him from a place of respect and humility. 
I try not to use my emotions to manipulate him.

What submission is not:

I never give my opinion.
I only speak when spoken to.
My husband makes every decision for our family on his own.
My husband never has to lift a finger to help.
I blindly agree with everything he says and does.
I do not speak up for myself when my husband dishonors me, or asks something of me that is dishonoring to God.
I don't express my feelings to him.

(Please hear me that when I say "I, Me, My husband" in these examples...I'm not actually pointing to my own life...except that my husband is an amazing, Godly man who almost always does his part right! )

To close, I'd like to share a few insights from people much wiser than myself.

"A wife flourishes with a loving husband, and a husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife."
-Mark Driscoll, "Real Marriage"

"Submission is not the husband's to command, but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer."
-John MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians 5

"For husbands to love their wives as Christ does His church, demands a purifying love. Since divine love seeks to completely cleanse those who are loved from every form of sin and evil, a Christian husband should not be able to bear the thought of anything sinful in the life of his wife that displeases God. His greatest desire for her should be that she become perfectly conformed to Christ, so he leads her to purity."
-John MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians 5

Here's to lovingly offering our submission, in hopes of allowing our husbands to be courageous and love us with a purifying, cleansing love! 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

who do we think we are?

Is it just me, or does it seem that in this generation of moms (myself included), we think we know everything and that we are the only generation of moms who really want what is best for our children?

Take the "whole food" phenomenon that has swept the nation in the past few years. I just want to cry sometimes when I hear/see a mom feeling guilty that she isn't doing all natural/organic/vegan/gluten free/sugar free/taste free/fun free diet with her kids. Two thoughts plague me when I see something like this going on.

First, I feel like tracking down all the braggarts who claim that they care more about their kids because they spend $500 a week on food...and I just feel like giving them my two cents. "Your parenting choices do NOT make you better or worse than anyone else. Bragging about how healthy you are is totally tacky and rude...and even though people 'like' your brags posts, I guarantee they are subsequently--if not simultaneously--rolling their eyes. Get over yourself." Disclaimer: Sometimes, I'd be saying this to a mirror...but lately we eat about 99% inorganic food (some of it is even--gaaaasssssp--processed {oh the horror!!!}) ...and guess what...we're all still kickin. 

The end of my disclaimer brings me to my second plaguing thought in these situations. I have to wonder how these kids' grandparents are feeling about how they raised these bragging moms and dads....because I'd wager that roughly 84% of them were not raised on raw milk or kale salads or chia seed smoothies.

My husband and I were both raised by single moms...who are amazing women, by the way. We both feel that our moms did a great job of teaching us balance. We ate lots of filling, well balanced, home cooked meals AND fast food; we ate raisin bran AND cinnamon toast crunch; we ate white bread AND wheat bread. We were served and loved by wonderful mothers who provided nourishment for us from the time they were pregnant with us, to...well, they still cook for us frequently!

Would I be obeying the commandment ("the first commandment with a promise" in the words of the apostle Paul) to Honor my mother by showing her that not only am I not thankful and pleased with how she raised me; but also,having the audacity to imply that I care more about my children than she cared about me....because the ONLY sweetener my kids ingest is organic honey?? (What the heck is that, anyway? How do they tell which bees are organic?) WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?!

Take a moment today, and give yourself--and the woman who raised you--some grace. Aren't we all given the same impossible love for our children? Don't we all want to do right by them, and do what we believe is best? Isn't it okay if we all have different ideas as to what that looks like? I'm saying this to myself first. Self...next time, before you rush to post something that's a little braggy, consider whether or not I'm honoring my own mother and how she raised me; then consider whether or not this is going to make someone else feel like they aren't measuring up to the virtual world they see.

Here's to breathing encouragement upon one another as we await our precious bridegroom!


Friday, August 16, 2013

{letting your husband lead you} new series

The ebb and flow of biblical hierarchy in the home is something my husband and I have worked on constantly and consistently for years.  As with most prescribed things in the Bible, it doesn't seem to just come naturally to anyone...but is completely worth the effort.

Lately I've read in several different places something that disturbs me a little bit, so I wanted to address it in Part 1 of a series called "letting your husband lead you." Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be any kind of authority in this area. Just the opposite, I struggle in this area more than you could imagine. Along the lines of most things on this blog, I'm writing this for my own benefit, and hoping and praying someone else might be encouraged by it. 

What I've seen that disturbs me is the notion that we shouldn't "burden" our husbands with the fact that we have hard days at home with the kids. It's widely suggested in the mommy blogosphere that our calling as wives is to create a peaceful, idyllic, problem free sanctuary for our husbands to come home to each day. Now, don't get me wrong, I do feel that I am instructed in the Word to keep my home well, and that Proverbs 31 was written as a type of guide for me as a wife and mother...in which is does talk about my husband trusting me completely. I do believe all of this, for sure. What I'm not really jumping on board with is that it's a burden for my husband to bear my troubles.

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:22 - 33

My husband is instructed here to give himself up for me, to sanctify me, to cleanse me with the Word, to love me as he loves his own body. So let me present this food for thought. If he is to do all of these things in order to lead me, so that I can submit to him the way I am called to, how is it a good thing for me to hide myself from him? If I hide the fact that I am struggling and overwhelmed with our children when he comes home, I am denying him the chance to give himself up for me. If my husband is out of town and I am lonely and exhausted from dealing with everything on my own for a few days, shouldn't I express to him that he is in fact needed here? Or should I deny him the opportunity to love me as he loves his own body and say "everything is fine here, honey" through my teeth? 

Again, I'm not saying it's a bad thing to provide our husbands a place of rest when they come home from a long day at work. Not. At. All. I pray daily that the Lord will grant me the strength and selflessness to do just that. What I am saying is that some of the most precious moments in my marriage have been the times my wonderful husband has held me and prayed over me while I wept with complete abandon in his strong arms, or the times when I was just done-zo...hating the entire world...just done with everything, and my husband listened carefully and cleansed me with wisdom from the Word. 

There are times for holding back, out of love for him and appreciation for his being under tremendous amounts of stress. There are times when we are just being silly and emotional, and need to just pray through things ourselves, rather than feeding the monster by involving someone else in our silliness. I believe we have the ability to discern these situations. Please, oh please, don't keep part of your heart from your husband under the guise of being the Proverbs 31 woman! There is a balance that allows me to encourage him and let him rest and fill his cup, all the while embracing his God given strength and desire to bear my burdens...the way Christ bore ours on the cross. 

Here's to finding that balance, and resting in God's grace where the balance is lost...


no keurig? streamline your morning coffee routine!

sometimes, people want Keurig coffee makers. sometimes people don't get to have them (poor little me moment). 

In all seriousness, I'd love to have the convenience of a single serve coffee maker, but it's just not in the cards right now....so, most of the time I brew coffee sometime around 10 or 11 in the morning instead of when I wake up. This is obviously fine, but not ideal for me. 

I am not--let me repeat as to properly emphasize my tone--naaawwwwttt a morning person. I almost always wake up later than I was planning, and I'm almost always zombie-ing around the first hour or two of the day (only instead of slowly growling for brains, I'm growling for coffee). I decided to experiment with ways to get me my brains coffee a little sooner. 

Oh, and for good measure, here's my almost 2 year old running around in his diaper eating a pop tart. Breakfast.Of.Champions.

First, I decided to get super creative. I filled my filter with the right amount of coffee, then twisted the top closed and secured with a twist tie (tip: start saving twist ties off of things!). The result was a very weak cup of coffee. Drinkable, but not strong enough to de-zombie me. Here's what I finally landed on.

What you'll need:

A dinosaur of a coffee maker...at least 500 years old is best. 
(I kid, this is actually a pretty decent machine. She was a handsome woman back in her day.)

Coffee. Duh. I use half cheapo & half fanciful beans, which I grind to perfection myself. I know. How does she do it?

A container that will accommodate your coffee filters without cramping their style.

So...basically, you're just going to pre-fill your filters with the right amount of coffee and stack them in a container. Then close the container. When you want some coffee, open the container. Pull one out. Put it in your dinosaur coffee maker. Close the container. 

I'm not loving the word "container" anymore.

Anyway, you will of course want to froof up your coffee with some cream and sugar, right? Well, I'm digging the homemade coffee creamer right now. Just use a can of sweetened condensed milk, 1.5 - 2 cups of milk (try coconut milk instead of regular....NOMMM), and your flavors. My favorites so far are chocolate & caramel with coconut milk (samoas, anyone?), and vanilla caramel.

 Until next time!


Friday, August 9, 2013

techie-mama: rig up a video baby monitor for free...

So I've always wanted one of those video baby monitors, but I have a regular baby monitor so I can never justify buying one. Well, the other day my sweet little moose was napping on my bed, and he can roll over now so I got a little paranoid. I decided to get savvy. I signed into my hubby's Google+ account on my computer, and my Google+ account on my Android phone. By doing this, I was able to start a "hangout", and use the video chat feature to monitor my baby buddy while he slept in the other room. Awesome. Now, if you do this, MAKE SURE TO PLUG IN YOUR PHONE. It will perish in a blaze of glory in about 20 minutes if you don't (I mean the battery will die). Oh, and turn your computer's hibernate/sleep settings to "never" while you're doing this...otherwise your monitor will turn off, or your screen saver will come on, which defeats the purpose.

Skype's free video call feature could be used in the same way. The key with either service is having two accounts to sign into.

My husband might flip because I'm saying this (to put it delicately, apple products aren't his favesies), but you hip apple peeps could use your iPhones and iPads--come on, you know you have both--and do a little face time baby monitoring! Pretty sweet. Also, you could probably ask Siri to babysit, but I'm sure she charges outlandish rates...she is, after all, made by apple. :P

Until next time,


Saturday, August 3, 2013

{allow yourself grace} cleaning...

I'm not one of those women whose house is always clean, but I am one of those women who feels bad about myself because my house isn't always clean. 

I always hear other women talking about how they can't stand to go to bed without their house being spotless....well, for me it's more that I can't stand to clean my house before I go to bed. I am exhausted by the end of the day. After my children are in bed, the list of things I want to do is a very short one...and cleaning isn't on it. I wish I was one of those people who loved cleaning and found it relaxing, and I guess once upon a time I was. As a tired mom of four, I can't even fathom doing housework to relax right now. 

This is so hard for me to admit. In fact, I backspaced over the last couple sentences several times, but luckily God gave me the strength to rewrite them. Hopefully I'll make it all the way to clicking "publish." Deep down, I am shallow (ponder that one for a minute, huh? lol). The truth is, I want to be perceived as that kind of mom; the mom who happily frolics about my home in an apron and quietly and reverently serves without a peep. 

I'll just set the record straight right now, hoping someone finds it encouraging. I love vintage things, things from the 50's and such; and I want nothing more than to serve the Lord and my husband and kids by fulfilling the noble calling of wife and mother well! But I will never be a 50's housewife. I rarely get dressed before about 10am, and my house is definitely not perfect. It's not "Clean House" or "Hoarders" material by any means, but it's....lived in. My husband cooks on occasion because he does it well, and he helps with housework and changes diapers because...well...he's an amazing father and a gentleman to the core. 

Also let me remind everyone that most of those 50's housewives that so many women are idolizing right now were closet alcoholics because they cracked under the pressure of being perfect! Don't forget that there are usually martinis in those pictures too...not just curls, pearls, and aprons!

I am not called to be a perfect mother or wife, I am called to do it to God's glory...and by walking in His grace in the areas I fall short (even in my homemaking), I truly believe that brings Him glory!

Here's to making our hearts His home!


Friday, August 2, 2013

Mandarin Slow Cooker Chicken - LITTT-erally the easiest meal ever...

I can't even call this a recipe. Take a bottle of the Panda Express Mandarin Sauce (I have found it at several stores in the Asian foods section) and 4-6 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, and throw it all in the slow cooker. Fill the empty bottle about half up with water and dump it in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours. Serve over rice (minute rice if you really want it to be the easiest meal ever).

DEEEE-lish. Seriously.

Quick Cookin Tip - Cook & Freeze Meat

Now, I in no way claim to have come up with this idea...it's just something I like to do.

I like to have cooked meat, ready to go, in my freezer in Ziplocs or Tupperware (the latter being the more eco-friendly option, but the former meaning no dish to wash...toss up!).

Cook an entire bag of frozen chicken in your slow cooker. Just dump the whole bag in there with some water (I add a wee bit o' chicken boullion for extra good goodness), let 'er rip on high for 4 - 5 hours, take it out and shred it or chop it. Put it in the right sized portions for your family in ziplocs/tupperware and freeze! I use this SO much. Talk about 30 minute meals, just substitute one of those bags of chicken in any of your favorite chicken based meals! I commonly use it in enchiladas, casseroles, cacciatore, etc. It's also great for when you need to take a meal to someone at the last minute, it doesn't derail your own family's dinner!

Cook a few pounds of ground beef or turkey (we prefer turkey, cheaper and healthier!), or italian sausage in a skillet with salt and pepper (and I like to add garlic and onion powder), then cool it on a plate. Freeze meal-size portions, and you have recipe ready meat or sausage crumbles! This makes a spaghetti night about a 15 minute meal! Just cook your noodles, throw some sausage crumbles in a skillet with your favorite sauce and some frozen veggies, throw a loaf of store-bought frozen garlic bread in the oven (de-LISH...I like it better than fresh. lol), and you are so eating amazing pasta in less than 20 minutes. Also good for quick chili or tacos!

I've also done frozen sliced steak & chicken for fajitas, and frozen shredded pork for chili verde or Cafe Rio style pork that doesn't take all day!

The possibilities are....well, not really endless...but almost.

Recipes coming soon!



It was about 6 years ago, when my oldest was just a baby, that an seasoned mom of a few older kids said to me "when my kids were little I just felt so tired all the time...don't you just feel tired?" I broke into tears and said "yes!!! Yes, I am SOOOOOO TIIIIIIRRRED!" This wise woman then gave me what remains to be one of the best mom tips I've gotten...."take naps...whenever you get a chance and you feel tired, make sure your kids' needs are met and they have something to do nearby, and take a nap."

I'm definitely not suggesting that anyone should make naps a part of their daily routine forever, but I do think there are seasons where we are in greater need of extra rest. When I'm pregnant, nursing, or in a particularly stressful season of life, I nap frequently. Right now for example, I have a three-month-old moose of a baby who is relying on my body alone as his nourishment; so sometimes in the afternoon, I will put on a movie for my older kids and take a snooze on the couch while the babies have their nap. It's almost always interrupted by someone urgently needing to tell me a joke, or someone needing a snack, or they just want to tell me about the movie...but it's still some extra and much needed rest. Even if I don't sleep very much, just laying down and letting my mind stop racing for a few minutes helps tremendously.

I know some moms don't feel tired all the time, and I know some moms think it's absurd to put aside the mothering and wife-ing duties of the day for a few minutes and disengage, but for me it's necessary a couple times a week right now. I feel that I can better serve my family by resting when I really need to. If I leave that load of laundry to be folded later, or my floors don't get vacuumed until tomorrow, in my opinion it's a small price to pay for a rested, happy mom & wife who isn't overwhelmed and burnt out before dinner is even on the table.

Tired mothers out there, it doesn't make you selfish or a bad mom to let your kids play or lay on the floor and watch a movie while you replenish your energy stores and rejuvenate your soul by giving yourself a small break! Just like that morning cup of coffee, or that morning workout, sometimes what I need most is to serve my husband and children by just being Tiffany...and addressing Tiffany's needs for a short while. Mom & wife are still there, they are just the Supremes instead of Diana Ross for a half hour or so.  ;)

Here's to resting...just resting.


Monday, July 29, 2013

{allow yourself grace} I forgot.

In allowing myself grace in the area of blogging, I guess...because I forgot to post this Saturday's "Allow Yourself Grace"! Sad thing is, it was only the third Saturday, and I'm forgetting already.
Let me say though, the topic definitely would've been housework, and it's safe to say it might be next week's as well!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

mom on mom crime...

Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Co-sleeping or crib sleeping. Cry it out or cuddle it out. Cloth diapers or disposable diapers. Homeschool, public school, or private school. All organic, some organic, mostly processed (but prepared at home), or mostly fast food. Unmedicated, Epidural, or C-Section.

I could go on easily for another five minutes.

The worst part is, even though I feel strongly against parents judging other parents for the above and other choices--which is why I'm sitting here writing this--I found myself choosing where I stand in each area as I wrote it. It's nearly irresistible. I want to believe that my choices are the best choices. I want to say things like "well I _______ because I care about my kids' so much (subtext: "sorry you don't care about your kids enough to do it")."

I like to call this judgement passing and arguing "mom-on-mom crime." I have been the victim and the assailant in many of these situations. It's not good. Sometimes when I think of how I've treated other moms in the past, the little comments or looks because of differences of opinion, I just want to cry...and have.

Let me give a few examples. When my daughter Scarlett was about 6 months old we decided to try cloth diapering. I am very ashamed to say that I made myself right at home up on that high horse, and I always hoped that someone would see her diapers and ask me about it...so I could pat myself on the back for 5 minutes. I knew that when I did that, it probably made my friends who didn't cloth diaper feel uncomfortable or even like they fell short in that area...but it didn't stop me. It took awhile, and a big slap in the face with how arrogant I had become for this to stop.

Another example would be when I was recently told that two of my childbirths were "unnatural" because I had epidurals. Let me set the record straight. When women who have gotten epidurals, inductions or c-sections are made to feel like they don't care as much about their babies as those who have gone med free or had homebirths, I do not handle that well. I think it's very unfair that going med free is now known as "natural childbirth." Having an epidural does not make your birthing experience an abomination. It is not an unnatural way to have a child, nor is a c-section or an induction. Side note: I was also told recently by another Christian woman that her childbirths were more spiritual because she chose not to "dampen" the spirituality of it with medication. Dude...not cool. On the list of things that irk me most in the world, someone telling me that my Jesus wasn't present during my birthing experiences where I got an epidural is very near the top.

One last example. My husband and I have never chosen the institute the family bed concept. I am not against it at all, so co-sleepers, please don't click that X in the corner. I have always struggled with putting my children ahead of my husband...and even ahead of the Lord in my life. So for us, me choosing to bring my babies into our bed to sleep for an indefinite period of time doesn't sit so well in our marriage, or in my relationship with the Lord. Now, of course, when baby needs to nurse in the night and I fall asleep, there is some co-sleeping that happens there. It's just not a conscious and planned decision to always have our baby in bed with us...that's all. All that being said, I was the black sheep of my breastfeeding support group because of this, and I ultimately stopped going because I couldn't take being left out anymore. Luckily by that time, I was a mom of two and a breastfeeding veteran...but what if I hadn't been? What if I had been a brand new mom who was desperate to breastfeed her baby, but felt shunned by the "experts" I'd been urged to seek out for an unrelated decision?

Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Co-sleeping or crib sleeping. Cry it out or cuddle it out. Cloth diapers or disposable diapers. Homeschool, public school, or private school. All organic, some organic, mostly processed (but prepared at home), or mostly fast food. Unmedicated, Epidural, or C-Section.

We can coexist. We can be accepting, loving, and encouraging to moms who make different decisions than ourselves. I know we can, because God has been faithful to continuously teach me to strive for this in my own life, and I've seen countless other moms do it. In my opinion, what makes someone a good mom is devoting your time and energy to making sure that your children feel loved; and giving what you have to give. This won't always be 110%, it won't always be organic, it will sometimes come in a bag with golden arches on it, it will sometimes come from a bottle instead of a breast. Give them what you have to give, and point them to Jesus at every opportunity...that's what they will remember as they look back on their lives!

Here's to keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace!


Saturday, July 20, 2013

{allow yourself grace} patience...

As we speak, my sister and I are trying to manage our 6 crazy kids (two of which are young babies, mind you) by ourselves. Our manly man hubbies are working on my car...again...which I very much appreciate...but I'm finding it super challenging to be patient with my kids right now.
My three year old and I are in a constant battle over naps, and being that I'm not at my house today...well, there was just no hope of her taking a nap. She is a WRECK today; almost as big a wreck as I am after Vacation Bible School everyday this past week, oh and of course the car troubles three (count them...3) days this week! If you know me in person, you know that I am not a quiet person by nature. I wouldn't say I'm tremendously outgoing and talkative or anything, but I'm definitely not quiet. So maaaaaaybe--definitely--I yell at my kids sometimes...and sometimes a lot of times. This is a struggle for me, and has been since my oldest was about 2 (go figure!).
I am giving myself a little grace right now in this area, and resting in His calming presence. I might not always be a quiet, reverent, meek wife and mother, but I believe that the Lord is blessed by my desire and efforts to become one! I also find that each time I lose my temper with the kids, it's a chance to show them I need Jesus, pray with them, and to teach them about grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Here's to trusting in His faithfulness to complete a good work in me!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

cool new (and inexpensive) mommy products!

My children and I consider going to wal-mart a very exciting outing. Since we are a one car family at the moment (my hubby is building a hot rod, but I don't really count that as a second family car), you can bet that anytime the kids and I have the car, we'll end up walking around at wal-mart just to get out of the house. That being said, we did that this afternoon. I ended up having to nurse the baby while we were walking around, so we decided to hang out in the baby section. Go figure. Anyway, I came across some products that I thought were pretty amazing, so I thought I'd share them.

Munchkin Easy Squeezy Spoon - $5.76 

I will definitely be using this when little ham starts solids! Perfect for feeding solids while out and about...especially homemade baby food!

BooginHead Reusable Food Pouch - $7.96

I love this! I love those baby food pouches, and now there's a reusable option...again perfect for homemade baby food!

Parent's Choice Stack & Seal Cups - I think these were $1.88 but I can't remember!

I was going to buy these and spaced out, but I'll definitely get them next time. I love that they stack, so I'm not digging through the diaper bag for 3-4 different snack cups for my kids...I can just find the nice tall stack of them!

Playtex SmartStand Universal Lid Holder - $4.98

Oh my goodness. I think I have literally cried because I couldn't find any matching sippy cup & lid combinations before. Nuff said. 

Ziploc Spill Proof Sippy Cups (with twist on lids) - $4.97

These don't have valves, just like those little "take & toss" cups (which I swear by), so I don't know how spill proof they actually are, but I love the twist on lid aspect!

I hope this is helpful! I can't wait to try out some of these products. 

Until next time,


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

a little encouragement when I needed it most...

My girls are in VBS this week (at the church I went to VBS at as a kid...so cool), so I've gotten some much needed fun time with my boys. I can already see it benefiting my 22 month old, and it's definitely benefiting me!

Anyway, yesterday--the first day of VBS--I decided to go have a nice, long, relaxing trip to Target since I only had two kids with me. I figured, one will be sitting in the cart and I'll be wearing the other, so what could go wrong? The answer?? EVERYTHING.

Let's start with the fact that my 2 month old HATESSSS the heat, and it was around 104 degrees. Oh, and fun fact...the air conditioning in our car is broken right now. Fine holiday fun, as you can imagine. So I leisurely strode around Target for all of 3 minutes (long enough to get me a large Diet Coke and my big boy a snack) when my gentle giant just couldn't take the heat anymore. The sound of a thousand banshees being slaughtered burst forth from this child's lungs in supersonic capacities. As I danced around like a buffoon in any way that had previously comforted him and made every combination of every whooshing and shushing noise I could think of--while trying to get him to take his pacifier and put a game on my phone for the cubby--I suddenly felt "the stare" coming at me from every direction.

(You all know what I'm talking about right? The "shut your kid up, I'd like to look at these sporting goods in absolute silence!" or "whew, lady...you are in over your head...maybe you shouldn't go out in public with your children" look.)

I felt a huge surge of pride come over me. "I have four children, and most of the time I enjoy going out in public alone with all of them! How dare these people look at me like this!" Then it hit me. I might not do "the stare" but I definitely get all kinds of puffed up when it's someone else's kid screaming in the middle of the store and mine are behaving well (which--let's be honest--isn't all that much). My distorted version of judgement and pride is no different than the people who feel inconvenienced and offended by a mother nursing her child while they are trying to eat at a restaurant, or the dude who wants to look at ankle weights or fanny packs or whatever at Target in absolute silence. Owned. I get it, Lord. Thanks for the gentle-ish reminder. In those moments, I should be doing what I can to encourage and minister to that mom who is at her wit's end.

It was about 15 minutes later, and Jesse was still going strong with the supersonic banshee howling. I was buying a few small things, including a cheap pack of receiving blankets because I had NOTHING to cover up with to nurse him! For you breastfeeding advocates out there, I definitely don't think women have to cover up to breastfeed, and very often I don't cover up if the outfit I'm wearing allows for maintaining modesty. Well, this outfit did not allow for that, and all I had was a tiny burp cloth, so I bought some blankies to assist me. Holy tangent. Sorry. Anyway, I'm holding Jesse at this point because he just wasn't having the carrier, and I'm checking out with one hand. Meanwhile, my biggun is screaming "HEYYYY" at me over and over because apparently I put the wrong video of trucks on my phone for him, and he starts throwing my phone on the floor (thank the Lord for phone covers) and screaming at me to get it. Bahhhh.

At this point, I'm just dragging. I'm holding the baby with one arm, trying to calm down the toddler with the other arm, and pushing a shopping cart with my stomach. "Just a few more steps until I can sit down and nurse, give cubby a snack, and have a minute of quiet." I was repeating this to myself in my head as I struggled my way to the seating area, when suddenly I felt a hand on my forearm. Two women were standing at the wedding registry kiosks to my left, and one of them had stepped out and stopped me. "It's okay, mama. Don't worry, you're doing great. I remember these days, and now I'm here with my daughter registering for her wedding! Just enjoy these babies right now." I was fighting back tears. I felt so encouraged and like I had my second wind to get through the day, just because this woman took a few seconds to put herself in my shoes and encourage me!

Sometimes we are the "me" in this story, and sometimes we have the chance to be the lovely stranger who chooses selflessness in someone else's moment of need. I wish I could say that I make the effort to do this more often than not, but unfortunately I choose selfishness much of the time. I make much of myself by thinking my time is too valuable to give away. Oh, that I would make much of Jesus and use my time as He did, to reflect God's glory to the world!

Here's to using our precious time on earth to glorify Him!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

allow yourself grace...

"Allow Yourself Grace" will be a short post every once and awhile on an area I have struggled recently.  I'm hoping it will serve as a reminder for myself and my readers to let go and rest in God's perfection.

Sometimes after a long day, or often times a long stretch of days, I leave my house in shambles and go to bed. I know some of you cringe at the thought of that, but that is an area I allow myself some grace. I urge you, mother in need of rest, to do the same.

His righteousness envelops you perfectly whether you're waking up early to immaculate cleanliness or waking up late to breakfast being cooked by your husband in a messy kitchen.

Sometimes the best way we can serve our families is to allow ourselves to rest, take refuge in his grace, and pick up the slack later.

Here's to losing ourselves in his mercy,


Friday, July 12, 2013

am I homemaking for God's glory, or is homemaking my God?

"I'm going to start grinding my own wheat!!", I yelled in excitement as my husband walked through the door. "Um...okaaaaaay. Why, exactly?" He looked even more puzzled than when I told him we weren't buying store bought bread anymore, or when I told him I wasn't feeding the kids cereal for breakfast anymore. His puzzled expression continued as I opened my mouth to give him an explanation as to why I wanted to grind my own wheat, but struggled to find one. The only reason I could give was that I saw it on a blog.

Now let me say that I don't think it's wrong to think something that someone else is doing looks cool or fun, or to try it yourself. Not at all. I love baking homemade bread, and there's nothing bad about that. What can be bad about it is when I want to "win" at it. Catch my drift? When I decide that we WILL NOT buy bread from the store, because I WILL win the mom contest of bread baking...yeah, that's a problem. It's when it turns into coveting that it becomes a problem. Covet isn't a word that we hear much in this day and age, which may be why it may be a bigger problem than ever. I didn't want to grind my own wheat because of a strong personal conviction that it was best for me and my family...I just wanted to get closer to that unattainable (but constantly pursued), made up persona in my mind of the perfect Susie homemaker mom and wife. I am coveting someone else's life.

So where is the line? How do we find that balance? For me it had to be drastic, I had to take a long break from looking at blogs, get off of Facebook completely, and set boundaries for myself with Pinterest. I also had to pray everyday over specific friendships where I started feeling competitive. I'm not recommending this approach to anyone, really. This is what I felt God was leading me to after praying about it and discussing it thoroughly with my husband. What I would recommend is coming up with a short list of discerning questions to hold yourself accountable. Better yet, find a friend or two and hold each other accountable in this area if you all share the struggle.

Here are a few things I consider when I'm discerning my motives in relation to the "mommy blogosphere":

is this going to require a big change to our lifestyle; and if so, have I discussed it with my husband and prayed about it?

For example, I have been guilty of finding a new discipline and chore system on Pinterest or something, and just rushing to implement it without much consideration of everyone else, or even mentioning it to my husband first. For me this is a red flag, since my actions suggest that my motive is hurrying to measure up to what someone else is doing, rather than taking the time to consider what's best for my family.

when I saw this post/pin, was my initial feeling jealousy, covetousness, or inadequacy?

This should be common sense, right? Not so much for me. You're looking at someone who wept at the sight of another mom's perfectly painted red nails on a sewing tutorial, and then promptly painted not only my fingernails and toenails, but both my daughters' as well. Nothing wrong with that...oh, except for the fact that I was seriously coveting someone's FINGERNAILS.

when I look at and go about my daily "to-dos", do I see myself striving to bring glory to God in all I do--no matter what that may be? or do I think completing a checklist I made will earn God's favor?

My standing with a Holy God is not affected by anything I can do. My standing with Him is eternal and bought with the blood of Christ alone!! I just wish I could live out each day in this truth. Instead, I go down rabbit trails to justify my works based living. "If I don't have my husband's laundry put away every day before he gets home, I'm not honoring him...and by not honoring him, I'm not honoring God because the Bible says I should...so God won't be pleased with me unless I get all the laundry 100% done EVERY SINGLE DAY." Does this sound ridiculous? Because it should. There have been times where I make myself right at home in this thought pattern. I claim to believe that I'm saved by grace through faith, but I live as if I'm justified by my works. I measure my worth against a checklist of homemaking tasks (that I have foolishly created from looking at other peoples' lives online), and therefore have made homemaking my God. I trust my own broken heart and mind, and the broken hearts and minds of others to determine my worth, above trusting the inerrant and eternal Word of God to do so.

Please, oh please, tired mother, wife, single woman trying to do it all...PLEASE don't follow these tracks. Rest in His perfection, rest in His strength, His grace, His unchanging love.

Until next time,


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

3 stitch bubble skirt tutorial w/pics!!

Now, let me start by saying this: I don't think I have vast knowledge, mad skillz, or uber-creative ideas that just simply must be shared with the world to make it a better place. But sometimes I luck out and stumble upon something that doesn't stink...so this is one of those times. 
This skirt has only 3--yes, THREEEEE--lines of stitching! It's so quick to make, even for beginners (my sewing skills lie somewhere in between beginner and intermediate)!
So let's get started.

You'll need fabric and thread (thanks captain obvs), elastic, and all the usual sewing accouterments. Gotta love needlessly fancy words.
I used a silky lightweight material that's a little crinkly, and though it turned out super cute, I think the "bubble" effect would come through better with a cottony material...although, this is so easy, just experiment with whatever your heart desires!
Measurements couldn't be easier. It's just one big rectangle of fabric to start with. Measure your little gal's waist, double it, and add a few inches...that's your width. Then figure out about how long you want it, and double that and add about an inch, and that's your length. My rectangles were 48" by 26" for my girls who are 6 and almost 4. Yes, I just made them the same size so they can just grab whichever one they find and put it on. ;)
So fold your material in half right side in, so you have a long skinny (even skinnier than when we started) rectangle, pin, and sew with a fairly narrow seam allowance. 

 Then trim the seam and turn it right side out. 

 You should have this.

Now we'll make the casing for the elastic. Stitch down the long side of your rectangle/tube, right along the seam we just made, leaving room for the elastic (like 1/2 an inch or so). 

Now measure your elastic. For my girls' waists, that are each about 22", I used 18" of elastic.

Grab a big safety pin and pin it to your elastic, or get some of these fancy jobbies at Wal-Mart for 2 bucks:
tip though, if you use the jobbies (technical term, I'll have you know), tie the elastic after you thread it through. It will save you a woopsie-daisy. Also, if you cut your elastic before threading it through, for the love of Pete, wrap the end around your finger so you don't lose it. 

 When you have it threaded through, join the ends. You can sew them, but I am very fancy, so I tie them and trim the ends off. 

Then spread out the fabric nicely along the elastic until the unfinished ends meet. Turn the skirt inside out (which really doesn't exist with this skirt, so just pick a side to be the inside), and pin the sides together. 

Sew. Mind you, this is our third and final stitch!! Oh, and you might have to sew through the elastic a little bit, which is fine. Then trim the seam, turn right side out, and you're done!!

I might add a fabric flower or a cute button or something to mine since they are so plain, but let's be honest...probably not.

Here's to creating with the mind and hands he blessed us with!


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

there is seriously an overturned table...

Sometimes when you get overwhelmed and just need to disengage, you leave your kids to their own devices. That's when things of this nature happen...


Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere!

why we can't let our kids be the center of the universe...

As I knelt at the side of my bed, weeping prayers for my baby boy, I suddenly knew that the Lord was teaching me something very big.

My prayers always went down the same trail in those few days leading up to the surgery. "I just can't surrender my baby to you, Lord...I know I need to...but I can't." No matter where I was able to get through so  much praying, being in the Word and quoting Bible verses to myself, it was never there. To the place of complete abandon. I felt like I was in a game of tug-of-war with God, only instead of a rope there was Jude. The love of my life. My amazing, then 6 month old baby...who more than likely wouldn't survive without this surgery.

Then it came. That voice we know so well. That voice no one seems to be able to describe, even though it's the voice that tells you the most meaningful, life-changing, profound things you'll ever hear. "If what you really want for his life is for him to follow me, you have to surrender him to me completely." Talk about big. Of course I want my children to follow Christ...of course I do...but this has nothing to do with that, God. Right? This is BRAIN SURGERY, God...do you realize that?

This went on for awhile, until finally--taking it about a minute at a time--I submitted and trusted God with my boy (the best I could). Fast forward over a year, through a successful surgery and amazing progress with all of his developmental delays. We are beyond blessed. Beyond.

The past couple months, some friends and I have been going through a sermon series from Grace Covenant Church, an Acts29 church in Washington State, called Heritage: Parenting Wisdom for the Ages. This has been rocking my world. One of the most breathtaking concepts so far in this series is this. Our kids will fight and fight to put themselves in the center of the universe, and that if we truly love them, that is the one place we can never let them be. 

Now, I have struggled with this with all of my children. I worry myself sick almost daily that I might lose one of them someday. They have all been my idols, my functional gods that I can see and hear and touch. But it has been different with Jude, I guess because I think I have more of a reason to worry about losing him. I've always been sad when my babies weaned, but I cried (a lot) when Jude did. I've always been super paranoid about SIDS and the like when my babies were (and are) little, but I still worry every morning that he just won't wake up. It's been a tough battle, and it's still happening daily. I have to fight (fight him and myself) to drag him out of the center of my universe.

Our kids will fight and fight to put themselves in the center of the universe, and that if we truly love them, that is the one place we can never let them be. 

It sounds almost counter-intuitive, but it's one of the most startling truths I've ever heard. You are probably thinking what I thought when I first heard this. "This seems right, but....how do I go about that?? They are already there!"

He also says in this series that our kids don't need to be told ten times a day that they are amazing, they need to be told 100 times a day that God is amazing. This is a great way to take them out of the center of our little universe and put them back where they should be in relation to a Holy God! If we want to show our children their rightful place in the universe, and teach them why they were really created--to bring Him glory--we can start by teaching them how big God really is. I'm finding that everything that comes our way is a chance to teach them about our great and gracious God. Now, am I saying that I always take every single one of these opportunities? Certainly not. But they are there!

Here's to standing in awe of his vastness!


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