How He Loves Us

I was almost asleep last night when a lovely thought surfaced in my mind: ”God loves to love you far more than will ever enjoy receiving His love.”

I fell asleep with this truth wrapping my heart in comfort, and woke again with the thought fresh on my mind.

I have asked God recently to show me more of Himself, more of His character, and I believe this was a small part of His answer. I’ve been reading slowly through Galatians recently, and this thought holds hands with the truth I have found there.

God justifies me, because of His love.

He calls me daughter, not slave, because of His love.

He defines me as an heir because of His love.

Christ lives in me, because of His love.

I am redeemed and blessed because of His love.

“Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” Galatians 3:7

The magnitude of this cannot escape us. We are heirs. We: human, broken, fallen, and sick with the degrading cancer of sin; have been justified and declared sons and daughters of GOD.

I have to ask myself this question- do I identify more as a slave of the Most High; or as His beloved daughter?

How do I come before Him? Do I see him as capricious? Busy? Commanding? Or do I truly recognize Him as the Father who calls me His own? Do I see Him as distracted; or with a tender gaze directed at me, working all things well?

When I look at where I find my identity; all too often it’s in what others think of me; how my children respond to me, or how productive I have been. This is bondage. We were never meant to see ourselves as the gauge for righteousness, or for others to show us our worth.

What I’m finding out as I delve into the riches of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, is that seeing God as my Father was His intention all along. It’s time to step away from the bondage of a slave-identity.

He’s so kind to remind us: ”Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

We can stand up, stand firm, stand tall. We don’t have to be ashamed; and we don’t have to rely on our own rightness or goodness anymore. The righteousness of the Holy God is ours, and we are free! Don’t get wrapped up in an identity that wasn’t ever the intent. We aren’t slaves; but sons.

And oh, how He loves us. More than we will ever know, and more than we will ever love to be loved.

February Habit Recap

So! Another month of habits.

Health

White sugar/White flour free

This went well. My plan at the beginning of the month was to allow myself one cheat a week. This was a good plan. Foolproof, even, I smugly thought. Lo and behold, we had company, and I ate a small helping of apple pie dessert. (!) The kind with the thick, flaky crust, and a crumbly cinnamon sugar topping. It was good. Really good. And …after the company left, and Terry + kids left for a few minutes, too, I stood at the counter with fork in hand, and evened up the edges on that dessert. I mean, I really evened up those edges. And the result was that I ate a whole bunch more apple dessert than I planned. Basically, being a human means that stuff like this happens. And my plan still stands, though slightly revamped. I don’t really plan for a cheat dessert, but I decided to eat a bite of anything I want, and dessert on special occasions.

Steps

I aimed for 3500 steps a day. Sometimes I did more than that. Some days I did less. And I have decided that what I really want is to form the habit of walking. Outside. So my new goal this month is to walk 2 min. a day. I know!! I know! What good is that? But… I do not love walking. Or exercising. I know it is good for me, though, and this small goal is helpful just to get me out the door. Generally I walk longer than 2 minutes, and I’m always, always glad I did. Truthfully… I have attempted 30 minute walks. 15 minute walks in the past. These lasted for an embarrasingly short period of time. But I can honestly say that by having a tiny goal of steps/walking for just a few minutes, I have now went two whole months getting a short walk in most days! Never have I ever lasted that long. Which makes me very happy.

Water- 1 30 oz. cup/day

This went well. I have upped it to two for the month of March, because more often than not, that’s how much I’m drinking.

Reading

Read every day for 10 minutes

This, folks, has been life changing. I completed 5 books in the month of February, listed below, and a total of 11 books since January. I participated in the Brighter Winter challenge by Daughters of Promise, and it was hugely satisfying. I plan to continue this goal… and most times I read longer than 10 minutes. This is another example of small habits with big results. Likely, if I would have committed to 30 minutes a day, I would have talked myself out of it, thinking I didn’t have the time.

Any goal, if it feels very burdensome, will likely phase out before it becomes a habit.

Books I read this month:

Adventures in Prayer, Catherine Marshall

Once Upon a Wardrobe, Patti Callahan

A Day with a Perfect Stranger, David Gregory

All the Light we Cannot See, Anthony Doer

A Long Way Home, Saroo Brierly

Do you have any book recommendations? Please comment below if so.

Read to the kids 10 min./day

This happens every morning while we do Morning Time. And sometimes in the afternoon. Reading aloud is something I began doing consistently about 5 years ago. I sort of dropped the habit a few months ago and I’m glad it’s back into our routine. I can’t say enough good things about it. If you want read aloud inspiration, I love Sarah Mackenzie’s Read Aloud Revival blog and podcast.

Personal

Use my planner every day

This has continued as well. Other than the few days I was sick, thereby; not needing to plan anything, I used my planner daily. I felt like I was more productive. Apparently I do much better at getting things done if I write them down. I also *may* love to write things down I already did and cross them out. Ahem. Yes. I do this.

Delete 100 emails/pics per week

Did this. And I’m very happy to not have an insane-in-the-thousands number of emails plaguing my sight whenever I open my phone.

Work on my quilt

I did work on my quilt. One whole day. Maybe March is the month for the quilt?

Home

Declutter one day a week

I got a few things decluttered. Not enough to feel like I really made a dent in anything, but better than nothing.

Clean sink each evening

Did this. It was good. I would say it’s pretty much a habit.

So there ya have it!

March Goals

Health:

2 c water

2-5 min walk

White sugar/white flour free

Personal:

Get up early, with Terry

Delete 100 pics/week

Home

Declutter 1x/week

Read

10 min/day

Read Galatians several times through this month. (The way I’m doing this is by reading the 1rst two chapters approximately every day for a week, then the 2nd two the next week, last two the third week.)

Continue reading out loud to kiddos

These are the Days: February 2022

These are the days

Of winter sunrises coming over the horizon. A smidgen of light wakes the day, then flashes of buttery yellow, orange sherbet, lavender, grays, and all the blues dazzle my quiet morning with a silent riot of beauty.

Of coffee and tea at every turn. Miss A’s favorite has turned out to be every different flavor of green tea.

These are the days of dogs rollicking outside, and warm, fluffy kitty-holding… and Fern meowing at the fridge for a bit of milk. She has trained all of us, except perhaps Terry, quite well.

These are the days of a bit more light in the evenings, and a few warmer days teasing us into springy thoughts.
Of seeds sprouting indoors for the first time ever, and an inordinate amount of excitement on my part over the whole business. Tomatoes, basil, arugula, cherry tomatoes, dahlias, lupine, hollyhocks, poppies, and more seeds coming in the mail very soon. I’ve surprised myself with plant enthusiasm over the past three years.. who knew? (Those were my mom’s words. She is right.)

These are the days.. of Miss A grabbing a songbook for fun and just singing to herself… in her room, downstairs, wherever. Of girlies singing heartily in the bathtub, outside as they play, or in a concert they are pretending to perform. (Aaaaand NOW!! We have the grrrrrreat ANNIKA BRUBAKER!! cue trumpets, drums, and marching girls.)

Of playing ”vet” in the yard with old cat carriers and reluctant kitties, and of stopping by the animal rescue place in Rocky Mount just to pet the kitties for awhile.

Of Old McDonald over and over and over by Eva; How Firm a Foundation memorized, and all manner of various songs being played on the piano.

These are the days of roaring basement fires in the stove, Annika liking to build fires, and me liking to let her. Of laundry drying in the heat on the clothes rack, and cozy knitted socks. These are the days when my girls are beginning to help around the house so well, folding laundry, straightening, and emptying the dishwasher. These are also the days when I wonder if there will ever be an end to the bits and pieces of papers, pens, markers, fabric, yarn, stickers, trash, you name it that seems to appear magically out of nowhere. These days I have turned into my mother and wonder rhetorically, of course, why everyone can’t pick up after themselves.

These are the days of read alouds, of teaching reading, of Math and its hullabaloo of angst some days, and the days when ”this is EASY!” comes out. These are the days of black beans as math helpers, and learning to round and carry and add and subtract with ease. These are the days of Friday Coffee + Books, along with chocolate, curled up on my bed with one child at a time, and enjoying whatever readaloud we are going through. These are the days when I learned to read for fun again…

These are the days of teaching knitting stitches and that 3 tsp = 1 Tbsp., and that scooping flour and leveling is important. Oh, and how to double a cookie recipe.

These are the days where Chester the sourdough starter lives in the fridge and becomes bread some weeks. Where I think I may (fingers crossed!) have found the Perfect Sandwich Bread. The one that Slices Easily, Doesn’t Crumble, and Tastes Good. (Thank you, Sara!)

These are the days I don’t take for granted. They are swift, and they are precious.

Life Through a Lens of Praise


I read something yesterday that stopped me short. I’d read it before, loved it, forgotten it, and was newly impressed.

The writer, Catherine Marshall, in her book Something More presents the thought that we ought to praise God for everything.

Specifically, the things we most despise.

Wait, though.

That?

Surely not. Not that thing. Whichever ugly, awful sadness comes to mind. That irritating person. This grievous event. The chronic illness or situation that seems to have no solution or good ending. The diagnosis, the loneliness, the rejection. The confusion.

As I write, I am repelled by the thought. It seems so wrong. I mean, my prayers, when referencing that, tend to be more like .. complaints.

I am wholeheartedly not suggesting we limit our conversations with God. David, in the Psalms, makes continuous reference in open conversation with God about his problems. Yet – there is also a note of praise that routinely occurs in his writing. It seems many times that he is telling himself what the truth is, rather than be carried further by waves of dejection or self pity.

l’m wondering though, what it would be like to expand our prayers- telling God about our situations, being open with Him, and also.. praising Him for them.

Catherine Marshall speaks of Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie, and their ”flea story“. Huddled together in the barracks of the concentration camp they’d been sent to, they were both dejected and low. They prayed, and Betsie suddenly remembered a passage in 1 Thessalonians-“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus -“

“This is the answer, Corrie! We must praise him for all!”

They began to thank him for everything about the awful barracks. That they were together. That they had managed to hang on to the Bible they’d smuggled in. And finally, much to their chagrin, for the fleas that had infested the place.

In time, they became aware that there was very little supervision from the guards. They were able to conduct Bible studies with the other women, minister to them, and have a relative amount of freedom to do so! Finally, a supervisor commented that no one wanted to get near Corrie and Betsie’s barracks, because of the fleas. Amazingly, the awful creatures had given them freedom they wouldn’t have otherwise had!

I am so inspired by their story. If Corrie and Betsy can praise God for fleas – in a concentration camp, no less – what can I praise God for that He has allowed in my life?

There are things, even now, that come to mind. And I know that God works all for His good. Romans 8:28 promises it so.

Even as it goes against everything within me, there is also a measure of hope and freedom that wells up inside me to exercise this absurd, self-denying praise. There is a sense of triumph; a knowledge that circumstances do not have the final say in my life, and the agreement in my spirit that nods at God’s ways being higher than mine.

Praising God in this way says: ”Yes, You know all. I will follow and adore you for even the awful things I don’t understand, because I trust You. I choose to believe You. Because You are bigger than my circumstances and Your promise to make good from evil is sure.”

Magnificent, mighty God – the Able Solver of all problems, the One able to bring beauty from a flea infested barracks for two of his daughters, is more than capable to bring loveliness from the ashes of our own lives today.

January Habit Recap

Well! Here’s to a (whole!) month of habitty endeavors.

For those if you who make a plan, and alwayswithoutfail stick to it, I know, I know. But for me – this is an accomplishment. And to actually write about it is more so, for whomever out there is reading.

So, without further ado!

First of all:

Health

1 30 oz. cup of water/day.
This didn’t feel too hard. By the middle of the month, most days I was easily accomplishing this, as well as drinking another full cup. I also noticed being thirsty more often when I wasn’t drinking.
I’m going to continue this in February.

Gluten Free

This was a win! I gave myself one day a week to have a treat, and used all four days. I got through two Christmas gatherings, and my birthday, and felt quite satisfied.

3500 steps

I’ve hit this most days, and sometimes more. I’ve started trying to go on a short walk and this is exciting, because I’m not outdoorsy in the least. So: me, on a walk, outside, amid snow and ice, is a surprising situation. It’s good to get outside and feel the air; I just tend to gravitate towards the cozy inside. With coffee. And knitting. Or reading.

Which brings me to my next goal, which was

Reading

Read 10 min./day

I have fallen in love with reading again. Every day I read more than 10 minutes. But the knowledge that that was all I had committed to do helped me lay aside other stuff and begin. I actually completed five books this month!

First pictured, The Last Bookshop in London, was an audiobook. I’m telling you: this past month, I would sit down every afternoon with my tea or coffee and maybe a piece of chocolate, and listen to or read one of these for 10-30 minutes. It has become a truly delightful way to settle and relax my mind and heart. I don’t see this habit going away anytime soon. I’m participating in Daughters of Promise’ Brighter Winter Reading Challenge, and I’ve already got my books picked out for February! I was surprised that I finished this many books.

Reading makes me feel like a person. And after the last while with various stressors, that is a very good thing.

Next was:

Read to kids 10 min./day

This has been happening in Morning Time, or right after lunch. So far, so good. I think of when my mom used to read out loud to me… multiple times through the Little House series, and Grandma’s Attic… sweet memories. We are reading some of the Benjie series, and Little House on the Prairie right now.

Personal

Use my planner

So this is a good one for me. It means I …look at my planner. (!!) I try to write things down. (!!) I have tried all the different planners, I have even attempted to make my own planner. I like the one I’m using now, but it’s perfectly useless unless I look at it. (The profundity of all this has to be impressive, so far.) If I take the time to daily, and preferably weekly, do a review of what is going on in our lives and what needs to be done, I actually get a lot more done, simply because it’s written down.

Lastly:

Clean my kitchen sink every evening

This one felt a bit .. mediocre. I did get my sink cleaned out each evening, but I think I was already doing that more than what I realized. I usually clean up the kitchen before I sit down for the evening, so I was just aware of making sure it really was cleaned out before I went to bed. Most evenings I managed to do this. My dear husband even washed the dishes for me this past week while I have had a cold, and my evening and morning self both thanked him profusely.

So! That was January!

Now, on to February.

Health:

-3500 steps

-1 cup of water

-Instead of gluten free, I plan to do no white flour/sugar free.

Reading:

-Read 10 min./day

-Read to the kids 10 min./day

Personal:

-use planner

-delete 100 pics or emails/week from my phone

-Work on the quilt I began in 2020!

Home:

-kitchen sink clean

-declutter 1 day/week

One thing I have noticed, on a whole, is that small successes are extremely motivational. Success in reading a small amount each day as well as my screentime being down, created a thirst for more reading. (Hooray! I’m a bookworm again!)

Success with 1 cup of water each day led to naturally drinking more than that. Half (or most?) of the battle is getting started. So when I say I’m going to declutter or take a walk, and plan to do so for 2-5 minutes, I can’t say no to that. And then I get started, and nearly always do more than that. The satisfaction of a small win is incredibly motivating, and creates a desire for more. I’m learning not to discount minuscule changes, because those are the ones that last.

A Post on the Glory of Habits and their Sustainability

New year, new me.

Ha! Did anyone burst out laughing?

Seems like its the same story every year.

But I do have some goals for this month and some ideas for future goals that are rumbling around in my mind.

For now, I’m starting small.

So for the month of January, I’m doing three things that are relatively easy, and hopefully will help me to ease back into a healthy lifestyle.

1.) Drink 1 cup of water/day

2.) Get at least 3500 steps/day

3.) Go gluten – free

Basically, it’s like this. I have spent the majority of my adult life in one of two modes.

Full-on weight loss mode

or

I really don’t care.

So at this point I just want to feel better (and going gluten free basically means I don’t consume bread or noodles. I could say, white flour… same thing. Regardless, eating those things = I don’t feel well.) and this is an experiment to see how good I feel not eating them.

My theory? I can do anything for a month.

I think I’m commitment shy. Anyways, I want to lose weight- but truly: I just want to feel better. Can I get an amen?

There are also a few other things I’m doing that are not health related. But all are small habits I would like to cultivate.

1.) Read for 10 min/day for myself

(This one is fun. Every afternoon, tea or coffee, and my book. If an audiobook, then my knitting too.)

2.) Read to kids 10 min/day

(This one is easy, usually. But makes sure I do it.)

3.) Use my planner

Need I say more?

4.) Have a clean kitchen sink each evening.

(My morning self congratulates and mentally hugs my evening self each day)

Basically, I have goals to develop habits related to my health, for my intellectual side (read!) organization (planner), relationships (read to kids), and for my home (sink).

These things seem so small. Yet, they are relatively huge if carried out for a period of time that’s long enough to become part of my everyday routine.

By the way, did you notice I wrote 1 cup of water? (30 oz large cup) Not 4? That’s because I would really like to not fail. And 1 cup is more than what I have been drinking. So any improvement, is improvement.

For example: imagine 10 min./day, 5 days/week of reading, carried out for a year? That would add up to approximately 40 hours of reading. Perhaps around 7-8 books. Let me just say, my screen time stats have been lower lately – because I don’t think I have ever stopped at just 10 minutes. Usually it’s more like 20-30 minutes. Plug that into the read-that-much-for-a-year grid, and you have something around 14-16 books you’ve read in a year. All for a measly 20-30 minutes!

I would love to actually make sustainable changes to my life with these habits, as well as develop new ones as these become part of my routine. So, an idea came to mind. If any of you are interested, (if any of you still read my blog), I would like to do a monthly check-in post, and you guys could post your own Tiny Habits (tiny!small!micro!) or goals / how you’re doing with them in the comments.
Accountability is always a good thing. 😀

Last Week


It’s very early on Monday morning. A fresh new week: summer and all its heated glory is at our fingertips. I got up when my alarm went off this morning; for some reason Monday mornings find me more rested than the rest of the week seems to.

Last week was busy, going and doing, finishing up most of the CAT testing that should have been done in May (only one.more.child.to.go.) and we worked out in the garden a lot. Mulching done on most of the beans, tomatoes tied up and trained, cucumber leaves that were showing signs of bug damage sprayed with some stuff I found at Lowe’s that’s supposed to help. Our new garden area is filled up with squash, zinnias, pumpkins, canteloupe, watermelon and zuchinni. I’m wild with excitement at all the growing things.


I seriously can’t hardly believe that I actually care. And that things actually grow when I put them in the ground. For some reason, I always thought that was reserved for special, “green-thumbed” people. Turns out, it’s not nearly as complicated as I thought.
Just water, dirt, sun, trial and error, and stuff will actually grow. And this summer, so far, everything is doing well. If our beans and tomatoes do anything, I am going to be very busy in a month or so.

We went to the lake Saturday evening, spur of the moment. Grabbed swim stuff, towels, and a book, and let the kids swim for a few hours. Something about watching the water feels like exhaling. I read my book and they swam, racing and floating and playing games all the while. Ospreys flew above us, and a couple ducks as well. We packed it up before it began to get dark, trying not to get home too late, and ate supper like we have been lately: on the front porch.

These are the days we will remember. Mulching the garden. Basketball bouncing in the house, “Take it OUTSIDE..”, kitties sneaking in the doors and my call: “Somebody grab the cat!”. Tired kiddos sliding into bed after a big day and sleepily praying for regular and surprising things, both. Boiling 4 dozen eggs a week and having no problem getting rid of them because always, always, there are hungry people around here. Large boys glugging large glasses of milk, and the sound of the washing machine nearly continuously doing its duty. Load after load after load.

These days.


Summer days. Changing days. More taking-people-to-work days. Younger people in the driver’s seat days. Girl-time days.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I called my dad last night and heard the sounds of all the rest of my family together, laughing in the background while Dad cracked jokes on the phone. I cried a little when I hung up, at the beauty of family – together – yet missing two of us.
We spent the evening with Terry’s family, and it was a mix of ball-playing, ping-pong games, crazy kids dressing up, and The Best Popcorn Ever.

At lunch yesterday, we went around the table to say the things we appreciate most about Terry. There was the sweetness of the 15 year old’s comment -“You’re more patient than most dads I know…”, and “You spend time with us,” said the other teenager.

Oh, and Miss A: “Because you love Mommy.”

It was a good week.

The Day when my Coffee was Extra Delicious

My air-conditioning hums. I’m writing for the second time in a week (drumroll!) and enjoying a cup of fresh coffee while I do so. Spoiled kitty is sitting on my lap, and my people are separated for afternoon quiet time, doing their reading/singing-not-very quietly/finishing up the rest of math for the year things.

My cup of coffee is significant. I love coffee. Yes, I do. But let me tell you, pouring myself this cup and taking the first sip was pleasure that exceeded the average coffee joy. Yesterday morning I got sick. The kind of 24 hour bug that dominates everything, and for the entire day I laid in bed and felt like I had been hit by a truck. Slept off and on yesterday afternoon and evening, all through the night, and woke this morning with the beginnings of feeling like a normal person again.
It was actually kind of nice to rest. I was amazed at the weirdness of “I feel SO AWFUL” combined with “Oh wow, it’s so good to just lay here. I can’t do anything. And that’s kind of nice.”

Today, as I tentatively rose from bed, feeling the aches of the previous day, I began my regular life again. Getting my husband and oldest son off to work. Sorting and starting the s e v e n loads of laundry. Putting the cookies baked on Wednesday into the freezer. Checking my to-do list for the bridal shower I’m helping with tomorrow. Taking a couple phone calls. Watching my girls hold kitties and pull out the knitting they have recently gotten back into. Laughing with Mr. J at another of his hilarious observations. Handing out chores to everyone.
And as I surveyed with a bit of dread the mountain of dishes in and around my sink, I turned the hot water on and swirled dishsoap into sudsy bubbles. And then, I remembered: the simple exhale and promise that hot, soapy water brings with it. Dirty dishes will soon turn clean. Counters will soon be cleared, wiped, and my knitted dishcloth will hang merrily from my faucet.
There it is again- distaste, turned joy. I was surprised. This hasn’t been typical for me, lately. Perspective slipping, shifting from a focus on what is less than, to abundant blessing. Surely this is a gift from the Father. This ability to see good when what’s in front of me is mundanity and dirt. Surely it was He who tucked the sigh of pleasure I felt in my soft sheets, and the thankfulness for relaxation into a day of sickness yesterday. Thank you, Lord.

I’m newly aware of the fact that there’s always something good to find. Sometimes, the awareness of it blooms fresh and easy; most times? It’s a hard-fought battle to turn the barge of negative thinking in my mind towards goodness and light.

In my fog-dazed brain yesterday, I wondered- “How is it that I am so crazy busy that I am actually relieved to not be able to do anything?”

Whose “Well-done!” am I actually seeking?

I’ve known for awhile now that my brain is constantly going. Too fast. Constantly assessing. Constantly checking my phone. Constantly feeling so very behind. And a lump in my throat and panic in my chest because it just feels like I can’t ever catch up or get it right. There are things in our lives I am not at liberty to discuss, and along with that, an overwhelm that threatens the fabric of my sanity, at times.


Yesterday was a reality check for a couple things. First of all; it’s time to plan for times during the week where nothing is happening. Or where there are a few hours of resting/reading/napping/whatever. Where I sit on the front porch and knit. Or read to the kids. Or something – anything – that is restful. Times when I ignore the dirt and the laundry and just have fun. Sometimes with the kids. Sometimes by myself, if possible. That feels .. extravagant, somehow. (Cue the reason for stress, perhaps?!?)

The second thing these last few days have taught me is that joy is possible, and joy is a choice. This message is something my weary heart and mind have desperately needed these last few months. I also believe that it’s very difficult to choose joy when my mind is overwhelmed with busy-ness, time on my phone, or the need to constantly be “doing”. It is necessary to create space so that our minds have room to expand and breathe.

God intended for us to have a healthy balance- work hard, then rest. When we leave one out – only resting, never working; or working constantly with no rest, we are out of line with his intentions for us. We cannot see clearly. Blessings are ignored, and minor negative things become magnified in our minds. The mole hill of a child’s misbehavior becomes a mountain of a character flaw. Soon, all around us, is a mountainous terrain of problems, challenges, and things to be afraid of. I believe that for me, I not only need to make physical rest from work a priority, I must also take into captivity my thoughts, so that my mind is at rest.


Distaste. Into joy.
Sickness, an opportunity for rest.
Dirt, wiped clean.
Laundry, clean and folded.
Delicious coffee.

Beauty from ashes. It’s what He does..




Belief. Because He is Enough.

The house is quiet, scented with crockpot spaghetti and the fresh basil that tops it. I’m sitting here for a few minutes in the stillness, waiting for my family to come home from planting sweet potatoes and corn at my in-law’s extra garden space up the lane.
A cat rests on my lap, there’s laundry drying on the deck, and when I look around, there are remnants of afternoon water fights, daughter-made pancakes for tomorrow’s breakfast, and a sock I’m knitting, all within view.
I’ve not written on here in several months, but I keep getting pulled back. Perhaps it’s just easy to feel that there is nothing new to say, yet, who would ever write or speak if we all had that perspective?

God is good. He is enough. This echoes in my mind as something worth repeating. We may walk through difficulties but He is still good. And He is still enough. A book I’m reading had a quote that struck me this morning.

He isn’t looking for us to be perfect or even productive. Jesus explained that the work God desires us to do is “to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). When we believe in Jesus and accept him as our Savior, God sees us through the perfection of Jesus and calls us both holy and righteous—not because of what we do but because of who Jesus is for us. – Hope Prevails, Dr. Michelle Bengtson

I wondered, as I sat on my front porch this morning, what would happen if I filtered my thoughts through this question: “Is this thought/thought pattern/etc. rooted in a belief in Christ?”

Fearful thoughts? Belief says Christ makes all things work together for good. He is above all, in all, and through all.

Irritated thoughts? Believing Christ means I am willing to lay self down and die.

Self-pity? Belief in Christ makes the focus directed towards Him, rather than on me and my life.

Proud thoughts? Belief tells me that Christ is King. I am not.

Thoughts that are full of guilt/shame/condemnation? I am in Christ, and believing Him and His word means that there isn’t any condemnation towards me. He took all sin, gave me His newness, and anything I do wrong needs to be repented of and turned from. Not to be looked at or worried over again.

I’ve been preaching this to myself today. Meanwhile, this afternoon, during aforementioned water fight, an accident happened. Somebody got hurt and tempers flared. Including mine. But then – there was a coming together again… apologies made. Forgiveness extended. And we went on. There wasn’t extended, needed apologies necessary for anybody. We messed up, we said sorry, we moved on.
I don’t say this to minimize the need for repentance. But I wonder sometimes if we don’t over-worry about our mistakes, and lose the blessing of simply living life from a place of freedom? I don’t want to spend my evening repeating my sorry-ness. Or analyzing anybody else’s mess ups. I want to eat spaghetti and smile at my people and talk about our day.

Maybe when I sit down in the quiet with Jesus, He would like me to enjoy my coffee, enjoy the view, tell him what needs telling, and choose joy. Maybe instead of searching the Bible like it’s a puzzle I need to figure out, I should just believe it’s alive, believe His Spirit works, and read it with the expectant hope that He’ll show me what I need to see, when I need to see it.
Maybe life in Christ is less trying to be.. and trying to do... but simply choosing belief and trust, in every situation, in our every day lives as well as throughout the trials we go through.

Because God is good. And He really is enough.



Ordinary Today

   It’s just an ordinary Saturday. There are messy counters, laundry waiting to be switched from washer to dryer, towels hanging to dry in the living room.  The new puppy is running circles around our dog Trigger, enticing him to play. 

   I’m under a warm quilt and finding a bit of rest after feeling like there are 100  things to do and not knowing where to even begin. I started with a plan to spend 10 minutes each in my bedroom, laundry room, and kitchen. What actually happened was that my bathroom got cleaned, my kitchen got cleaned up and then dirty again, and eggs got boiled. I folded laundry, hung some up, and ended up decluttering one of my laundry shelves. Oh, and I menu planned for the month and fed the girls cereal for lunch. I had a kale salad with the.most.delicious dressing and now a half piece of hazelnut chocolate bar to go with my tea while I sit and write. 

    I write this all out and find myself surprised at what has ended up happening. I was feeling like I hadn’t done anything today. All around me are still messes. Dog blanket. Laundry folded but not put away. Bookshelves mid declutter and not completed. Laundry waiting.  All I was seeing was what wasn’t done-what wasn’t perfect.  The message playing in my brain was one of – “Why can’t you just get it together and accomplish something!”

    I thought over the events of the morning; which also included sleeping in and enjoying the soft flannel sheets.. making lattes for Terry and I.. delicious soft eggs with slices of bacon fried beside it…a sandwich hug with Miss A between Miss E and I. I realized again that a whole lot of life is lived well by enjoying the ordinary moments. Not devaluing the normalcy, but recognizing the richness of plenty of fresh eggs. The joy of a clean shelf, even if it wasn’t the one I originally intended to clean up. Clean laundry and children playing with leftover bills, mimicking their own store and bank. 

The fact is- when there is a house full of people, there is a house full of messes.  Just because it doesn’t stay cleaned up and clutter-free all the time doesn’t reflect on the amount of work I’m doing. If I choose to focus regularly on what’s not done .. what’s not right.. what needs fixed/cleaned up/righted that is wrong, I am prone to becoming a very negative person. 

   Sure, I’m all about tips and tricks and better organization. I pursue those regularly.  But living with a bunch of people naturally results in mess. And today, I’m going to do my best to be ok with getting done what I can get done, and letting myself rest as needed. The constant frenzy of attempting to accomplish the work that will never get done is not for me, todayIn order to be the best for my family- and for us all to enjoy one another- my heart needs rest and refreshment more than my house needs to be dust and clutter free.  

This passage in Ecclesiastes 3:1 comes to mind.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..”

    At this moment, it is time to sit under a quilt and drink my tea. It is time to not pay attention to the many things that pull me, whether it be more laundry, more dishes, more messes to clean up.  The time will come when cleaning up those messes is the right and good thing to do. 

   And the time will also come, in the not far-off future, where this home will be quiet, the messes will be less, and I won’t have little girls to sandwich hug, or hungry boys to enjoy feeding.  

And so for now- I choose to drink my tea, read my book, and revel in a bit of quiet. These ordinary, precious days are to be treasured and valued for the gift that they are. 

Also, here is the recipe for the salad and dressing:

Fabulous Salad Dressing

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 c. olive oil

1 T. red wine vinegar (I used balsamic because it’s what I had)

2 T. maple syrup (or stevia to taste. Equally delicious.)

1/4 tsp. onion or garlic powder

pinch of salt


Put this on top of lettuce or kale, and add any of these ingredients:

shredded carrots, pumpkin seeds, craisins, goat cheese or any kind of cheese, red onion, apple… the possibilities are endless. If you use kale, rub it together and massage it until it’s a darker green color. This makes it softer, as fresh kale is stiff and not as enjoyable to eat until massaged.