Monday, September 28, 2015

Solidarity Sisters

This past month, I tried something new in the blogging world. Well, new to me. I think it is pretty common for bloggers but it was my first experience. Anyway, I joined Susannah at Simple Moments Stick for Solidarity Sisters. What is Solidarity Sisters, you ask? It is kind of like pen-pals for the blogging world, but even cooler because you get to glean blogging wisdom from eachother (or in my case, glean wisdom from her, but really not have much blogging wisdom to offer in return. (Sorry Michelle!) ;) For a whole month you connect with your partnered blogger each week, sharing tips and tricks for a variety of blogging endeavors, as well as encouraging each other on your individual blogging journeys. It was wonderful to connect on a deeper level with a blogging friend, and it is something I would definitely do again (and you can to if you head over to Susannah's Solidarity Sister Registration Page (that's a mouthful)!

My FANTASTIC Solidarity Sister is Michelle who blogs at Grammie Time. She is wonderful, you guys. Simply wonderful. Seriously, you should stop reading this and go check out her blog RIGHT NOW! She is fun and encouraging, posts some delish family recipes, and I am always inspired by her reads! A few of my favorite posts by her are:
Honestly, there are just so many more I can't even tell you. I could pick a hundred more faves. AND she hosts a linkup on Tuesdays called Tuesday Talk which holds a menagerie of other great bloggers' posts, and is a great place to link-up your own gems! She is so sweet, and is going to be featuring one of my posts on Tuesday Talk tomorrow, so head over to her home page tomorrow and check it out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Capturing Autumn's Glow

There are so many things to delight in during the autumn season, and so much to celebrate! The colors alone can be breathtaking with such vibrancy and beauty it almost makes you breathless. Then there's the food and the festivals and the clothing accessories! Love. I just love it all! Sooo I thought it might be fun to share some of the small and large ways that we can bring the glow of Autumn into our hearts and lives (and tummies!) this season.

ANYWAY, I've already shared my family's bucket list (which you can read here), but I thought it would be fun to get a little more specific about the small ways we can celebrate autumn each day. For my home, I want to bring a touch of autumn's glow into each day of the season. One of my goals as a mama is to create a sense of celebration in the hearts of my little ones. I want them to grow up knowing that there is always room for a thankful heart and a warm smile, and I want them to seek out opportunities to delight in life and this crazy story our Jesus has called us to be a part of. Sometimes this is shown in big ways and mountaintop experiences, but oftentimes I find that cultivating hearts of joy, thankfulness, and delight are done one simple day at a time as we live with intentionality. 

  •  Apple Picking                     
  •  Apple Art Projects
  •  Apple Cider
  •  Applesauce
  •  Caramel Apples
  •  Smores by the fire
  •  Leaf collecting
  •  Leaf project
  •  Welcome fall banner
  •  Last picnic of the year
  •  Nature walk
  • Decorate front porch
  • Have a "Welcome Fall" party
  • Leaf rubbing projects
  • Make a scarecrow for your front yard
  • Go to a football game 
  • Make homemade soup
  • Have a pumpkin pie latte 
  • Visit pumpkin patch
  • Call a friend or relative you haven't talked to in a while "just because"
  • Buy or make fall-scented candles
  • Make or find Holloween costumes
  • Carve and/or paint pumpkins
  • Trick or Treating (or Trunk-or-Treat if you'd rather!)
  • Host a football party at your house
  • Volunteer as a family
  • Make a hearty Chili & Potatoes dinner 
  • Do something nice for somebody just because 
  • Take annual family pictures (who doesn't look good with a backdrop of  autumn leaves!?)
  • Send out annual family cards for Thanksgiving instead of Christmas 
  • Build a fort 
  • Bake pumpkin bread
  • Have a family board game night
  • Make pumpkin bread 
  • Family movie night (watch Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving or Free Birds)
  • Create a thankfulness tree
  • Thanksgiving 
This week I am linking up with Grammie Time, Women with Intention, Simple Moments Stick & Pat & Candy

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What if we didn't live in fear? (A call to be the light)

Fear. It surrounds us cloaked in so many forms, and it is insipid. I am heart-broken over the responses of too many of my brothers and sisters around the world towards the atrocities happening both overseas and at home. Why am I seeing Christians responding in such hateful and unwelcoming ways towards those in need? Whatever happened to us laying our life down for another? Whatever happened to us giving the clothes off our back to one who has asked for only a coat? Is this truly what we have become?

Clenched, angry fists ready for battle are too often the mark of my fellow Jesus-followers. Judgement has become the hallmark of Christians in too many instances. What if, instead, we had hands open and ready to give and to serve? What if, instead, we had hearts overflowing with kindness and mercy? Haven't we read that mercy triumphs over judgment? (James 2:13)

But fear. Fear of "the other" and what they will do to our comfortable lives. Fear of how somebody elses' pain and loss might taint our own rose-colored sky if we let them in. Are we so desensitized and so comfortable that we would trade offering our abundance for the insipid whispers of "what if..." What if we don't have enough to give. What if wolves come mascarading as the innocent. What if our life has to change and our hearts have to break and all that is just too scary.

We like our comfort and our order, don't we? Friends, sometimes our lives have to get uncomfortable. Sometimes our hearts have to break. Sometimes we have to take small steps that seem insignificant and clumsy to get the the place where we can be the hands and feet of Jesus. Fear holds us back from experiencing and offering real love. Where there is fear, love cannot exist in its fullness. "Perfect love casts out fear." (1John 4:18) The closer we move to Love, the less hold fear has on us and on the decisions we make.

So let us seek love. Let us push back against the excuses we have to look away or disengage. Let us push back against our selfishness. If we want to look like Jesus (and I, for one, desperately want to look like Jesus) than we need to run after the things he ran after. He did not run after comfort or security, but instead he put himself in uncomfortable positions time and time again, for the sake of love. And it looked flat-out crazy. Even his disciples were, at times, baffled by the way Jesus lived his life.

I don't always know what to do when I see brokenness around me. But I do know that God is faithful and when we let our hearts be broken and ask God what to do, He will give us a direction to go. If your heart is broken for something today--pursue it. Fall to your knees and seek God's wisdom in it. Find something to do about it, even if it seems small. Look around and see what you have that can be leveraged for the betterment of somebody else. Money? Time? An extra room in your home? An extra chair at your table? An extra seat in your car? A skill to teach? A kind word to give? Let your heart continue to be broken, because the alternative is developing a heart of stone. We live in a world full of pain. We can't fix it all. But we can be a light. And we can do something. We weren't called to shake our heads and cluck our tongues or to hand out unsolicited advice. We were called to be love in a broken world. What does that look like in your world?

Let's choose to be a light to the hurting and broken today~

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Adventure Beckons (and we can find it here!)

I have always had a longing in my heart for adventure. Going new places, seeing new things, exploring unknown territories--even in my own backyard--has always heightened my senses and sped-up my adrenaline. It thrills me to think of doing and experiencing and relishing. My poor husband has been dragged along more than a few times on some weekend expedition that his wife cooked up to satiate that craving for adventure.

There are times, though, when I lose that part of myself for a while. Something happens that reminds me of the frailty of life or my own vulnerabilities and fears and I hole up my heart and life in a fortress of safe normalcy. The fortress can't hold for long, though, and eventually I am reawakened to the truth that I was made for more. With that comes a desire to experience more fully and live more fully--squeezing every drop out of this life before it fades away.

Is it realistic to think that my simple life can be anything great and adventuresome? There are times when I feel like the monotony of life stifles any longing for adventure I may have...every dream is cut short by reality squashing it down. Yet even as it is happening something in my spirit rises up and says, "No! I will not live a ho-hum life of mediocrity. And I don't have to!" Because I know but I know but I know that we were made for more than that. Even in the potentially monotonous days of our present reality, opportunity beckons.

In early motherhood there is a season of sleepless nights and diapers, diapers, diapers--it can feel endless. And pointless. Yet perhaps in the quiet nighttime nursing sessions there is opportunity.  The middle-of-the-night heavenly conversations with the One who created the stars and the sky and perfectly made that sweet, hungry baby who interrupts your sleep--those conversations can be life-changing. In the monotony and repetitions of baby-tending there is a sacred space for God to move close and sit with your tired self and commune through being with you. Let him.

As time goes by and baby turns toddler there is a new opportunity, one that continues to grow with your child. It is an opportunity to wonder and explore the world baby-step at a time. Exploring the backyard may not seem thrilling to you, but if we can wear the eyes of a child we can see wonder in a rolly-polly or a pumpkin patch or a flower's first bud. It is in these small things, I am finding, that I can relearn how to savor God's creativity and His intricacy. He invented such a variety of flowers, and designed them to mix and invent even more. Each one unique and full of such variance of color and design! He wants to woo you with these simple beauties. Let him.

There are people off in exotic lands doing crazy-bold things for Jesus and I love to read their stories and live vicariously through them. There was a time when I thought that in order to live a crazy-bold life for Jesus you had to do it "out there" (and I still think that getting out of our bubble is an important part of being able to live out a God-sized life), but I no longer think that adventure for and with God has to happen "out there". There are a million adventures both big and small to have right in your own backyard. God wants to have those adventures with you. Let him.

So today, may we make it a point to get out of our comfort-zone and look for opportunity. Whether through a conversation with a stranger at the park, a smile and some change for somebody who is in need, or a warm and inviting meal full of conversation and love with your own family--may we live out adventure in the small things as well as the large. Our Creator wants to engage with us in everything from dish-washing to decision-making. May we let him.

Love you so much! 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Savor & Give Thanks

The warmth of summer is fading, but thankfully it is a slow fade. Summer clings on to its last few weeks as if it knows it is leaving, and it wants to leave a pleasant impression. The weather hovers in the eighties here, and it is absolutely perfect. Days like this make me want to soak it all in and hold on tight, because I know that in just a few short months we will be decked out in our layers and indulging in hot cocoa instead of lemonade. I love autumn, but for whatever reason this year summer is making it hard to let go.

Perhaps it is because I feel as if I am just getting into the rhythm of being lost in the moments, and I'm not ready for it to end. The laughter of children splashing in a creek and making friends with the ducks is magical. There isn't much that compares to the genuine shriek of delight from a young child. What I am finding in myself is a longing to be fully immersed in these moments. I want to breathe them in and let them fill me up with the magic and delight that my children seem to find so easily. I want to savor.

Each day holds so much to delight in, if we but see. When our hearts' default setting is thankfulness, the blessings that surround are absolutely overwhelming. It is when we get caught up in the schedules and the disappointments and all the things we don't have that our vision becomes dull and lifeless. I have this theory that the more we tune our hearts to thankfulness, the more we see our world with the eyes of Jesus. I want to see this world with my Savior's eyes, don't you? The colors are so much brighter when we live awake to the beauty and blessings around us.

When you eat too many carrots, your skin takes on an orangish hue. It's called carotenemia (I know it sounds like I just made that up. Google it, it's legit.) Anyway, it makes me smile when I think of this weird condition because I can't help but think that if I ever meet somebody with orange skin I will know that they have a major obsession with carrots (or pumpkin or whatever). They won't be able to hide their obsession. I want my gratitude and joy to show like that. I want to be colored with that when people interact with me there is no question that I am filled-up with thanksgiving. I want there to be no question that I am filled-up with Jesus.

May we be a people who overflow with color and warmth and joy. May we be a people who are wholly swallowed up in the delight and kindness and mercy and love of our God. May we teach our hearts (and the hearts of our children) the language of gratitude, and practice it until it becomes a language we know so well we dream in it.

Blessings to you this day. May you delight in Him!