What I love about being a mom right now.

1) Judah’s excessively loud singing. Mostly he sings worship songs, sometimes mashed into a brilliant medley, occasionally sprinkled with a line or two from Frozen. We could all stand to “let it go” a little bit, right? Judah starts his day around 6:30, bellowing his songs from the crib – it’s hard to describe just how loud he is, our neighbors could probably add some adjectives here. He also plays air guitar on his crib, and wildly shakes his blonde, home cut locks.

IMG_62362.) The “joke” stage. If you have never experienced the joke stage, its a good place to practice all your different kinds of laughs. Some jokes are real (Ellie gets it most of the time) some of them are made up. (Judah, all of the time) Each requires an appreciative laugh at the punch line. It goes something like this.

Ellie: “Mom, I’ve got a funny joke for you. How do you make a tissue dance?”

Me: How?

Ellie “You put a little boogie in it.

Me: (chuckle)

Then Judah pipes in: “Mom, I’ve a got a funny joke for you. Why did the pizza get caught in the net?

Me: Tell me!

Judah: (looking around for inspiration) because the elephant was chasing it!!

Me: (Hearty har har har har)

3.) Caleb’s chub. This boy is almost 1. Skin so soft, cheeks still pudgy. I savor them. Thank You Jesus for making babies so squishy.

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4.) My husband who is such a teammate on this parenting adventure. Poopy diapers? He’s a champ. 4 year old irrational tears? He’s got it. Soft logical tones that bring rightness to the situation. Judah singing loudly at 6:30 in the morning? He often pulls himself out of bed so I can sleep a little longer. I also love laughing with him countless times a day (at the kids jokes) and at the things they say and do. When you plan a wedding, and walk down an aisle there is no way to anticipate what life will bring your way, or how together you will navigate it. I am so thankful for this man who takes life head on and is such a team player.

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5.) Being able to experience grace. Being a parent is crazy. You so badly want to be awesome. The awesomest awesome that ever was because you want the best for your kids. It doesn’t take too long to realize that the personal awesome level doesn’t magically increase in the delivery room when your baby is born. This can be an emotional and guilt filled roller coaster if you are constantly measuring your awesome level and never achieving awesomely awesome. One of the best things I have ever done as a parent is to start to study grace. God’s grace to me. This is life changing on a few levels. a) His grace changes me by focusing me on Him and all that He is, and off my not awesomeness. b) When I live in, and receive His grace, I am able to pour it out. It’s the proverbial cup over flowing. And man, do we not all need grace? My kids need grace! My husband needs grace. And I desperately need grace. Grace doesn’t ignore sin or brokenness. Truth is truth. Grace brings an overwhelming hope to the sin and brokenness. The blood of Jesus is enough. Man, I love grace.

There it is. Just my small smattering of thankfulness on these eve of Mothers day.

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Mother’s Day

My sweet husband crawled out of bed early this morning and left on a mysterious mission while I stayed in bed and tried to sleep a few more minutes. He came home and carried into the bedroom a tray laden with my favorite Starbucks drink, Starbucks breakfast, flowers and gifts. I sat up in bed and couldn’t keep the tears from slipping down my cheeks. Partly because I felt so blessed and loved, and partly because I missed my own Mom so much and the ache felt too big to keep inside.

My Mom has been gone almost 10 years and surprisingly this has been my most emotional Mother’s Day yet. Grief is a funny thing. So many times I have wanted to manage it. I’ve wanted to have a “grieving season” and then be over it, or just somehow organize it so it didn’t interrupt my life so much. It hasn’t worked that way, or fit into a neat little box. I find it at odd times. I will be driving somewhere and I will hear a song that brings back a memory or feeling and those inconvenient, sometimes embarrassing, tears fall smearing my mascara. Watching a mother and daughter, holding my own precious babies, any number of life events bring grief to the surface. And the more I go the more I am learning to embrace it.

So this morning as I sat in bed sipping coffee, surrounded by excited kids and a precious husband I let the tears fall. They continued through my morning and I found myself thumbing through a photo album looking for pictures of her. I found pictures of the day I was born and I marveled at how young she looked, how beautiful she was and how much she poured out her life for the people around her.

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The tears and the ache are accompanied by such a thankfulness and such an awe at what God gives us in moms. And so this ache and this joy coexist in me. And so the day went. I was able to stem the tide of tears and go to church without crying. We had a delightful lunch out and several times Troy made me laugh so hard I cried. Ellie crawled up in my lap after lunch and sat on my lap facing me and we made faces at each other and giggled.

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When we got home we sat outside on the patio and ate watermelon to try to cool off (97 degrees here today!) and I watched Judah chomp his “buttermelon” down and eat piece after piece. His blue eyes, his pudgy cheeks, his infectious laugh. I am so very blessed.

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I sat and felt this baby move in my belly and felt the anticipation of meeting. I can’t wait to kiss tiny toes and look into little bright eyes.

As I sorted through the mix of emotions, one of the things I felt myself longing for was simply to bless my Mom. To give her gifts, to make her breakfast, to treat her to a pedicure…  To just have time with her. So much we have to catch up on! I thought these things through and realized that Jesus is showering her with far greater love and gifts then I could ever come up with. He is spending time with her and what could be better than time with Him? I look ahead and feel so much joy and anticipation. Jesus and my Mom? Heaven will be so good!

This whole mix of grief and joy makes me more compassionate. I feel deeply for those who are experiencing loss. Lord let me feel and reach out with arms of love and comfort.

It makes me treasure the moments I have with the people I love.

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It urges me to encourage those who have mothers to love them deeply and enjoy the time they have.



Book Review – “Outrageous Courage”

I love books. My dream is to have a library someday complete with ladders. My husband also loves to read but isn’t attached to the idea of a book – he likes having books on his phone – and NOT having a lot of books. When we first got married he looked with dismay at the boxes upon boxes of books that I happily staggered through the door with. I had to stagger through the door into the garage with them because our little apartment had no “library” and certainly not any bookcase large enough to hold my treasure trove of books. They sat in boxes for a few years until we were able to move into a house. Then we were given a beauty of a bookcase which we moved into a room we affectionately call “the study” (a small uninsulated room off the garage). My books now have a perfect home and I love being able to locate them easily. (going through boxes in the garage was not very awesome)

Happy little books.
Happy little books.

Also notable was the first vacation we went on. Troy picked up my backpack and was shocked by the weight. Things came clear later when I unpacked my Bible, my journal, a devotional book (or 3), a work of fiction (or 2) and perhaps a resource book or 4. I like having options you know? It shouldn’t have been surprising this year then when I unwrapped a Kindle Paperwhite. Though I love my books I have loved my Kindle. Perhaps the greatest feature I have enjoyed is that it keeps a list of everything that I highlight. I can go back and reread everything i loved about any book.

Love my kindle.
Love my Kindle.

 

One of my first great reads on my Kindle was a book called “Outrageous Courage” by Kris and Jason Vallotton, published by Chosen Books. I was presented with an opportunity to review it for free and jumped at the chance because 1) I LOVE biographies 2) This book is about a person who is still alive 3) I’m passionate about missions and interested in anyone who is doing them sustainably.

This book was a home run. I was inspired, humbled, encouraged and absolutely floored by the love for Jesus that unfolds in the pages. It’s about a woman named Tracy Evans, though admittedly its not written to glorify her life. It has made me want to spend more time with my Jesus, to hear His voice clearer and obey Him no matter the cost. Tracy’s life isn’t perfect, nor did she come from a model family. Her story of grace and of Jesus constantly healing and making all things new is so strengthening and hopeful. Her pursuit of His Kingdom has led her through the slums of LA, Smoky Mountain (a giant garbage dump) outside of Manilla in the Philippines, and currently to Africa where she feeds babies and pours out her life for the broken.

Hands down you should read this book. If you are breathing and can read you should get this book. It goes on my list of top life changing biographies. You can check it out it here.



Hope in the moments

Vacation is happening at the beach. How glorious it is! I am so thankful for this time with my precious little family.

Judah is such a little chunk of deliciousness, and Ellie daily makes us laugh with the things she says. She persistently calls the elevator the “alligator” and everyday we ride the alligator down to the beach.

Clearly waking up at the beach is the best!

 

 

Sunset light

 

Sunset from our deck

 

Early morning

 

Reading books with Poppa
Love these boys

 

Sunset is an event worth pausing for here

 

Preparing for the beach

 

Sweet boy

 

Doing puzzles

I find myself trying to freeze moments here, never wanting to forget. Never wanting to lose “right here right now” and yet the moments go by.

I think this desire to capture moments stems from my own loss. I can remember one night not long before my mom passed away she went to bed early and hurting. I crawled in bed with her and gently rubbed her back sensing that my time with her was short. I remember desperately wanting time to stop. Never wanting to lose her soft presence, never wanting her quiet breathing to stop. Yet the same time that marched on and brought a death that I desperately didn’t want,  has also brought gentle healing. Time brings a buffer between the sharpness of grief and the raw heart.

Now as I watch my babies play, shrieks of joy, cackles of laughter, unaware of loss, I find myself wanting the moments to never stop. Never wanting them to experience grief or sadness. Yet I know almighty God holds them tight, makes a way through, will bring victory in all their losses. Oh I have hope! As I journey this road I purpose to teach these sweet ones to not fear the future, to not fear the moments but to live in them fully savoring them.

Hope in the moments. This means thanking God for the moments I have and believing Jesus for His mighty power to be seen in my future. God of the impossible. God of hope.

 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14 NKJ

 

 

 



God of the impossible

I sat outside this morning before the house woke up enjoying the quiet and my coffee. I found myself jotting down the thoughts that were rolling around in my head. Longing for justice in this world where injustice abounds. Crying out for healing where so much sickness is present.  And as I wrote I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart. “See as I see. You will see possibility where only impossibility resided”. And immediately He brought two scriptures to mind. Ezekiel 37 the valley of dry bones. What could be more dead or hopeless then a valley of bones? No life, no hope of life, only dead skeleton bones. And yet God speaks and bones come together, skulls find their vertebrae, muscles grow, skin forms and lastly breath is breathed into these new bodies. Life, hope, and an army is born out of the impossible.

The second passage He brought to mind was 2 Kings 6:14-17 the story of Elisha and his servant waking up one morning to find the city they were staying in surrounded by “troops, horses and chariots everywhere”. Elisha’s servant is understandably panicked:

 “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.

“Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.

I find so much life in these words and find myself praying that my eyes would be opened and that I would see. To see as He sees and to take heart. To not be afraid. To believe for the impossible.

 



My hope is built on nothing less

Cornerstone

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
but wholly trust in Jesus’ name

Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong, in the Savior’s love
Through the storm
He is Lord, Lord of All

This is the first verse and chorus of the song “Cornerstone” off the new Hillsong album. I listened today while I mopped the floor, enjoying the familiar words of the verses and my heart agreeing as we got to the chorus. There are so many different things to love about worship music, and about worshiping Jesus. One of those things is how when we sing the words we are reminded of what is truly true. We live in such a fallen broken world that sometimes we lose sight of truth. Being reminded increases our faith and I believe actually changes us. I have felt so broken by the unresolved things around me. People that I love hurting, sick, broken. I am drawn today by hope. He is the hope of all the brokeness that I can ever see or feel. Christ alone.

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Then He shall come with trumpets sound
Oh, may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
faultless, stand before the throne

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 



We should…. make POPCORN!!! (Thoughts on obedience Pt 1)

A few weeks ago we had a playdate with some dear friends. While the girls played outside my friend and I chatted. As I watched, Ellie went up to her friend and snatched the toy shopping cart she was playing with from her. I quickly separated Ellie from her prize and we moved aside for a chat. After we talked it through I asked Ellie “What should we do now?” indicating that this is where we go and apologize to our friend for taking a toy from her. Ellie looked and me with big brown eyes and said “We should…  make POPCORN!!!”

I think sometimes I do this to God. When He is bringing direction or correction in my life and asking “What should you do now?”  I, instead of responding in obedience to what He has instructed, respond with “let’s do something awesome!”. Avoiding obedience with an offer of sacrifice.

I am reminded this morning of how God prizes obedience more than awesome things. Sometimes it’s easier to give Him a “sacrifice” of an action than it is to simply obey His commands, and in doing so giving Him my heart. In Matthew 22 Jesus says:

“You must love the LORD your God with all your heart , all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “
 

In my life this avoidance has looked like a lot of different things. Perhaps clinging to an offense towards someone and offering a sacrifice of reading my Bible instead of addressing my heart problem. Perhaps giving my child kisses instead of apologizing. Making my husband a nice dinner when I have been in the wrong instead of repenting to him.

Often heart problems aren’t visible on the outside but how my Jesus sees my heart! How He requires honesty in the inward parts! As a parent I daily ask my children to “listen and obey” and am constantly trying to address the heart of obedience. How much more does Jesus ask me to listen and obey. In my heart? I’m finding that loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind is a daily choice. A moment by moment choice.

Much the way a marriage works. On your wedding day you vow to love each other as long as you both shall live and you are MARRIED.  But truly real marriage is walked out every day as you continually moment by moment chose to honor and cherish each other.

Thank You Jesus for always seeing our hearts. Thank You for always calling us to obey and walk in truth! Today we choose again to love You with all that we are and have.

 



Extreme Commitment Update

It’s been a month since I embarked on Professor Horner’s Bible reading plan and I am reporting back as promised. (original post) In a perfect world I would be telling you that I hadn’t missed a day of reading my 10 chapters and that I had found that amount of reading to be inadequate and had bumped it to 20 chapters a day. But that would not be true. What is true is that I missed more than a few days.

However. I have loved this adventure for a few reasons. The first reason I have loved it is the variety of scripture. Reading in 10 different areas is exciting because you never get bogged down. In other systems I have tried I have struggled to keep up in some of the harder portions of scripture. In Professor Horner’s system I feel like it’s easier to keep momentum going through those areas.

The second reason I love this system is because you are reading so much and in so many different places that you start to see scripture interpreting scripture. It’s extraordinarily beautiful.

Trying this has knocked a little perfectionism out of me. Because my commitment was word saturation it helped me keep going even when I didn’t complete a days reading or missed it entirely.

My conclusion? I will carry on. I will probably continue to miss some days, but I am committed to finishing the Bible with this system. Besides, my Bible has 10 very colorful cool tab markers in it that I really like.

 



Oatmeal Pancakes

Welcome to my new blog site! Check out my “about” page to find out why I named my blog the way I did and a little bit about who I am.

Today’s post is strictly business. Serious pancake business. Quite possibly the best pancakes I’ve ever had and I feel like I can say that because the recipe came from my mom, so it’s not bragging.

We have pancakes to commemorate special days. Special days include but are not limited to: Friday mornings (Troy’s day off), Saturday mornings (if we haven’t had them Friday already and if Troy is home), occasional Sunday nights, and any other day that seems celebratory. Ellie calls them “pancakers” and will usually eat at least one if not two. I have a few rules for you if you do make these pancakes. (only in order that you may have the best experience possible with my Mother’s pancakes)

1.) Please put real butter on these pancakes. Don’t substitute margarine for the real thing. Just don’t do it.

2.) Please use real maple syrup. I’m just sayin. It’s real. It’s from trees. Don’t substitute with the fake kind.

With out further ado, I give you:

Oatmeal Pancakes (pancakers)

1 Cup Oats

1 Cup Whole wheat flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Baking powder

1/4 tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Brown sugar

2 Eggs

2 Cups Buttermilk (can substitute 1 C. sour cream, 1 C. milk)

1/4 Cup Butter (melted)

Mix as you would any pancake recipe. (so many of my Mom’s recipe’s say that “mix as you would any _____ recipe” and I’m sure most people know what that means. I’m still working it out. I just mix the ingredients in the order listed unless other wise notated. Shocking, I’m sure to some.)

I have started cooking my pancakes in coconut oil and I love the light flavor it gives them

I hope you enjoy! Let me know how yours turn out.

Mom's recipe. Which originally came from Aunt Mary Jane and mutated into a special Mom recipe
"Mix as you would any such recipe"
Little pancakers cooking away in coconut oil
Yum!

 

 



Be Present.

I’m sitting on the couch with Ellie with her wild morning hair while she watches “Go Diego Go”. My world is as it should be. Troy and I got back last night from 2 whole days away. This is a big deal to me because we have never left our kids overnight since Ellie has been born (with the exception of going to the hospital to have Judah)

Catalyst!
We had the privilege of going to Catalyst West with our church staff. Catalyst is a leadership conference and we had a phenomenal line up of speakers. Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Donald Miller, Tony Hawk and Mark Burnett to name a few.  Worship was led by the North Point worship team and the Gunganater. There are few things better than watching my husband enjoy a Gungor concert.
Gungor

Though all these speakers are amazing my very favorite session was the one where Bob Goff spoke. His message was so full of hope and life. His premise was: When we are afraid we are not who God made us to be. When we are not afraid we do stuff. So simple but so powerful! The stories of his life reflect these statements and are inspiring.

As someone who has been very afraid, this message was like water to a thirsty soul. It brought the call not just of “Don’t be afraid” but “Get up and live brilliantly”.  I bought his book Love Does and am excited to read it! I’ll let you know how it is.

As I sit here and reflect over our few days away, I am reminded of how needed these times are. As someone who is a mom, a caretaker, it’s easy to be so consumed with my little world that I don’t come up for air. I have two precious little ones who need me, who I have the privilege of pouring my life into everyday.

I’m discovering however, that if I’m not intentional about feeding my spirit, if I’m not intentional about doing things that bring me life, I have nothing to pour out. Life becomes thin, narrow and exhausting. Somehow as a mama, there can be a sense of guilt for taking time away, or doing things that are just for you. I’m finding that it’s nobody’s responsibility but mine to make sure that I am getting this time. Taking this time makes me a better mom and wife.

I had this moment while we were at Catalyst after we had lunch one day where everybody headed off in different directions and I was left by myself sitting on the ground outside. I laid down in the sun and closed my eyes feeling the breeze and savoring the quiet. I had this sudden thought “I think this is the first time I have been alone in 2 years.” Sure, I have run to the grocery store while Troy watched the kids, or gone to dinner with the girls, but this felt like the first time I had been alone with nothing to do. No place to go, no one that needed me. For an introvert like me it was a little slice of heaven.

I have also noticed in my life that when I take time away from the daily routine of life my ears are a little more attuned to what Jesus might be saying. The theme for Catalyst was “Be Present” and it seemed so timely. In a day where social media can invade every part of our lives it can be easy for moments to be stolen away. I came home resolved to be more present. More attentive to the Holy Spirit. More alive in the moment.

You don’t have to go to a conference to have time to breathe or to have windows where Jesus can speak to you. It just takes intentionality. What are things that bring life to your spirit? What are things you can do to come away from your daily life and just listen – even for 15 minutes?

I am learning that I need time alone. It brings me life to flip through Better Home’s and Garden for 10 minutes in bed at night. I feel refreshed after spending time with Jesus. I am a better mom when I read books I enjoy. Time alone with my husband rejuvenates my heart. Buying a cool purse is a treat that I purpose to give myself every once in a while. And being alone with no demands makes it easier to hear whispers from my Jesus.