Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Embers of the Divine

Sometimes you can almost taste God. You are going about your business and then somebody near you dives into this delectable juicy steak (or whatever your meal of choice) and your mouth starts to water. You smell it, you see it, and it is almost like you can taste that steak and it just makes you long for a bite. Oh may he bring us to a place of longing for more of him.

Lately I have felt him stirring up something within me...these embers that have been smoldering but not doing much else. I know he wants to light this fire and use my life for his glory, but it seems that instead of stoking the embers into flame I have been content to just watch them glow dimly. There is something beautiful about the embers though, isn't there? It is like this could be a big, roaring, warm and toasty fire, if we just gave it a little prodding and a little fuel.

I am ready for that moment. My heart is pounding in my chest ready for more. More Jesus, more love, more passion, more depth and fire and life. When did I start living this life as if it was the thing? When did I forget that HE IS THE THING?! There is nothing else. It all pales in comparison to him and every last thing in this world we hold onto is like dust compared to the surpassing glory of knowing and living for the one who created all of it.

There is so much beauty and wonder in the world...I love admiring it. I love warm fall days and the first snowfall and spring flowers and summer break. I love a full moon and crisp leaves and sun-kissed cheeks. I even love hot showers, funny movies, and steaming cups of coffee. And all of this is okay--even good because he created beauty and warmth and tastebuds and laughter. But when did all the gifts replace the place in my heart that was meant for the Giver? When did I become content with the stuff when I've known that all of it is meant to bring me back to the Creator of it all? Adoration, worship, surrender...these should be my response to him--and not out of obligation, but out of an overflow of thankfulness and worship because HE IS GOOD.

God, forgive me for all the ways I have failed to live my life as a passionate dance for you. I love the gifts you have given me--my family and friends and community are dear to me. My home is cozy and wonderful. My life is full of your blessings. But God...I give all these things back to you. I know that likely, you will not keep them. Likely, you will return many them to me but I will no longer see them the same. I confess that I have so many gifts that I have begun to take them for granted. I don't want to live that way anymore. I want to live open-handed to you with my whole life. All of it, holding nothing back. So God, stoke the fire in my soul. Prod the embers and add the kindling that what has been smoldering quietly will burst forth as a phoenix from the flame. This is my prayer and my passion.

May it be so~

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Some Weekly Dinner Inspiration

Some days I just need somebody else to decide what is for dinner. I have been feeling that lately and after having almost two weeks of a meal train from generous friends and family after having a baby, I got a little spoiled and now it's like I've forgotten how to cook or decide what to eat! So here is a meal plan I made for my own sanity and I thought I would share it in case you have dinner-making block like I do! ;) You are welcome!

Monday- This wonderful Loaded Baked-Potato Soup from The Wicked Noodle. So good, my friends. Add in a loaf of toasty garlic bread and your taste-buds will sing.

Tuesday- Pizza. I cheated here, because I did plan on making dinner Tuesday but Papa Murphy's has a deal where you can get any pizza your heart desires for $10 on Tuesdays and I did not want to tote three children to the grocery store yesterday so The Murph won out. And when pizza is dinner, really everybody wins! 

Wednesday-These Baked Chicken Legs from Bless This Mess, Broccoli, Rice

Thursday- This fantastic and easy Cheesy Bacon Chicken from Joy-Filled Eats and a hearty salad. (One of my favorite meals, and seriously one of the easiest I make too. Win!)

Friday- Taco Soup w/ Chips. (I'll try and share this recipe soon!)

Saturday- Steak Salad and Bread

Sunday- Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Chips, & Fruit

Well, hope some of this inspires you and perhaps next time I'll have pictures to go with my dinner inspiration (but if I try that today I will never get this post up). ;) Happy Wednesday to you all and have a joy-filled rest of your week!

~Blessings to you my friends!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Happy September (aka the unofficial first day of fall and here's why) ;)

September is here is FINALLY HERE!!! September, for me, is like the start of something brand new and very exciting. For starters, I am a fall lover, people. Like, I start dreaming about fall in early August and by the time school rolls around I am all-in ready! So September 1st is like, fall kickoff celebration for my heart (even though I am well aware that fall doesn't officially start for twenty-one more days) and today I celebrated with a pumpkin/hazelnut breve! Oh yes! And not a medium but the biggest one I could find! Delightful to my tongue and soul I tell you. Delightful!

My husband is well-aware of my obsession with pumpkin spice lattes (aka: The Drink That Represents All Things Autumn) and so he posted this hilarious picture to my Facebook page the other day. This basically sums up my whole life. ---->

I have another reason for considering September 1st the unofficial first day of fall and that is this: There is simply not enough time in autumn to do all the autumny things I want to do! Football games, marshmallow-roasts, apple-picking (and applesauce-making...mmm!), nature walks, pumpkin-patch visits, gathering with friends and family for still-warm-but-not-hot evenings outside, jumping in leaf-piles, getting family pictures done, observing the stars, making a scarecrow (on my bucket-list for three years running and I have yet to do this one!), baking a cobbler (or pie...but I have my heart set on a peach-cobbler this year), reading a good book (When is it not a good season to do this, I mean really? My pick this fall is Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman), having a soup-salad-and-bread night with friends, focusing on thankfulness, and the list could go on! Not to mention the fun, feasting, and family of Halloween and Thanksgiving! Oh fall, you have so much to celebrate!

This year is especially great because my oldest two are finally able to get into celebrating with me. Last year my two-year-old had a blast but my one-year-old didn't really care. This year at two and three they will likely have as much fun as I do with all the festivities. Hooray! And so far my newborn is a champ at going-along-for-the-ride and I am less sleep-deprived than I was with my first two so I count that as another spectacular win! I could go on, but naptime is almost over and I am feeling a little crafty so I'm going to attempt a project in the next fifteen minutes. Wish me luck and happy unofficial first day of fall to you and yours! ;)

Blessings to you and a whole lotta love!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New Beginnings

As I sit here in a moment of quiet and type this with only one hand (my 7th-grade typing teacher would be appalled) my other arm envelops my newest wonder...a sweet 8-pound-4-ounce girl and a delight to my heart. Perhaps I'm just a slow learner but even the third time around I am amazed at how much love our hearts are truly capable of. We can be a selfish, arrogant lot and yet when it comes down to it our hearts were designed by Love Himself...and it seems He has created them with hidden spaces to be found and filled as He brings gifts (like my precious children) into our lives.

Perhaps in a future post I will share more detail, but the last few weeks of my pregnancy I struggled
Tired Baby, Tired Daddy
with doubt and anger and frustration at all the unknowns around labor and delivery and what our family would look like with our new addition. I was anxious and moody and worried and then...she was born. And as they placed her warm, squirmy body on my chest I was reminded of how big God is and how often my perspective is so small. Over the course of 9-and-a-half months God created this amazing human being right inside of my own body...and once she was done being formed and grown in my womb she was released into the world.

It reminds me of some impressionist art I saw at a gallery a long time ago. When you stood close-up the colors were beautiful but you couldn't always tell what they were supposed to be--they looked almost blurry. When you stepped back, however, it was clear that each stroke of the brush and choice of pallet was intentional and, when seen as a whole, created a breathtaking masterpiece.

How like life. Just like Jesus' friend Martha, who got caught up in her to-do list and wasn't able to see the beauty right under her nose, we get anxious and worried about many things...and we often miss the big picture. May we learn (and re-learn) to trust in the goodness of God, no matter our circumstances. And may we purpose to seek out the joy and love that is hidden deep within our hearts, waiting to be found.

 From my heart to yours~

Thursday, July 28, 2016


I should be cleaning and organizing because I have a million things to do before my precious third-born makes her debut. I have baby clothes strewn throughout the house and the nursery looks more like an oversize closet than a safe haven but I take comfort in the fact that she won't care about anything except boobs, a clean butt, and comforting arms for quite some time. Though there's a long list of things I should be doing,  I had to stop for a minute and write this post because it has been on my mind all day and I feel like if I don't get it out I might just burst! (Or maybe that's just the baby...who knows really). ;)

Friends, our world is a hot mess. Likely it's no less messy than it has been for thousands of years but since there are so many things that hit close to home (literally and figuratively) these days it feels messier, if you get what I'm saying? It feels rocky and unstable and though I'm not prone to a doom-and-gloom kind of outlook on life there are days when I look around and wonder what all this crazy is leading up to. And yet in the midst of all the chaos and hatred and the unknowns, I hear God's reminder that He is in control. Now I'm not one to propose that God is orchestrating the chaos, but rather that in the midst of our own choices to seek vengeance and hatred and one-upsmanship He resides. For me there is such hope in that. There is hope in the fact that though chaos reigns in our world it does not have to reign in our hearts. Fear is knocking at the door of our homes, but it can't get through our door unless we invite it in. I desire to raise children who live out love in a world full of hatred, but they won't learn how to do that if I live a life closed off to the outside and cloaked in fear. It can be a daily battle and I'm sure that as time goes by it will only be more so. Because of this, I know I need to purpose myself to live each day out of the depths of God's grace and love--knowing that if I'm not intentional about that, my mind and heart can be hijacked by all the what-if's.

How about this...what if instead of dwelling on all the things that could go wrong, we instead ask God what He wants us to do today--right now--to be His hands and feet in our world? What if instead of hiding or griping we moved into a position of believing He is capable of big things in our hearts and lives, as well as in the hearts and lives of our children, even in the midst of our chaotic world? How would that shake up our paradigm? How would that rock our worlds? I desire to raise bold children who will stand up for what is right and and kneel down to the One who is good. I don't want half-hearted children who cow to whatever somebody tells them they should think or do. I also don't want angry, hateful children who are looking for the worst in those around them. I want children who see hope and light even in the midst of darkness, and who grab a hold of whatever remnants of good they see and run with it.

I recently read the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and learned an amazing true story about the
bravery of the Danish people during the time of the Holocaust. In April of 1940 the Nazi armies invaded Denmark and Norway, and though both countries had declared neutrality in the war, they were no match for the Nazi's military might and had no choice but to surrender. For the next three years Denmark was occupied by the Nazis and lived under their authority. They did so peaceably for quite some time. Then, in October of 1943 the Nazis began arresting Danish Jews. The Danish government was informed by a German spy of a plan to arrest and relocate all the Jews in Denmark. Upon hearing this, the ordinary citizens of Denmark banded together to help nearly all the Jews in Denmark (numbering around 7,000) escape to the safe shores of unoccupied Sweden via fishing boats. The Danish people showed remarkable bravery and courage standing up for what was right in the midst of brutality and possible execution. They smuggled nearly 7,000 of their own countrymen onto boats in the cover of darkness over the next three weeks, and risked their lives (and in some cases gave up their lives) to do what they believed to be the right thing. The living out of their ideals did not end there. Of the approximate 7,000 Danish Jews, 481 did not make it to the safety of Sweden. They were among those who were found out and arrested or who were too old or sick to make the journey. These Jews were sent to a ghetto in Czechoslovakia and were tirelessly advocated for by their Danish countrymen, until their eventual release to the Swedish Red Cross in April of 1945. The Danes never forgot their brothers and they never gave up.

I realize this is a long story but honestly, every time I think of it, I get chills. Something in me rises up and makes me long to be a mama who raises kids like this. I want my kids to do the right thing even when it is scary and they don't know what it will cost them. I want my kids to lay down their lives for those whose voices have been stolen, and to advocate and protect the weak. I want to raise kids who live wholeheartedly for God through loving others and living with integrity and intentionality. May we, as parents, learn to live these things out ourselves first, and may we have the bravery to raise a generation of children who don't live lives of self-protection, but of selflessness, generosity, and love.

Blessings to you and yours~

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Meditations on Squash Bugs and Parenting

You guys...there is an all out war going on in my backyard this summer between me and the squash bugs. They have banded together on a mission to try and kill my plants and I am not having it. I always thought I was a bit of a peace-loving hippy but these suckers have made me realize that I have some sadist in me as well. I'm not a big bug-killer usually. My rule is simple...if you are in my house I have the right to squash you, if you are in your house (outside) I will leave you alone (unless you are a yellow-jacket hive in my backyard, in which case all bets are off). I even get stressed watching my kids handle bugs because I don't want them to hurt the little guys! Anyways, all that has changed since Invasion of the Squash Bugs 2016.

Last year I didn't make too big a deal about them because they seemed harmless enough...until my beautiful pumpkin plant budding with the promise of autumn splendor withered into a sad clump of misery before fall had even officially hit. (Moment of silence). Not. This. Year. This year it is game on. You guys, I look like a crazy person out there every evening scouring the leaves for these suckers and gleefully throwing them into a bucket of water whenever I find one. It has almost become a sick game...the way some people like to squeeze acne (so gross) and I just can't stop. All I can say is, if I lose the war it won't be for lack of zeal or commitment because I am pretty sure I am currently in the running for Master Squash Bug Assassin this year. Seriously, I've probably killed close to 100 of those things by now.

On another note, Baby #3 is due in about five weeks and you'd think by this time around I'd be ready for it and feel like a pro but wow, I am freaking out you guys. I don't know if you ever feel like you have your stuff together again after having kids. At least I haven't so far. This time around my anxieties tend towards the logistics of it all. Not so much "How do I take care of this tiny thing?" or even "Will I ever sleep again?" but more "How will I be a good mama to the kids currently running around like banshees while I am sleep-deprived and trying to provide for a newborn?" "Will our kids ever work into being able to share a room and not stay up too late and get up too early?" and "How in the world am I going to homeschool my oldest for the first time while also appeasing an easily-bored two-year-old and an I'm-hungry-RIGHT-NOW-MOM newborn?

It feels crazy...heck, it is crazy. But it also feels right and good. Does that even make sense? And I know it will all work out, I know we'll find a new normal in our house and it will be a chaotic beautiful mess and I will be broken and blessed and pushed to the max. And maybe that's why I'm so intent on eradicating squash bugs from my yard right now. Not because it really makes much difference in the world but because it's something I can manage and there is a rationalized outcome. With kids, especially little ones, nothing seems rational or organized. And each time around I have to re-learn to be okay with that. To find the glory in the mundane and the messy. One thing I've learned in my few-years-that-seem-like-forever as a mama (you know what I'm talking about) is this: The more you submit to the beautiful mess, the more joy there is to be found. Pushing back and wishing for more order or time or sleep is fruitless in these early years and only creates discord and anger. Accepting the grace of this slower, more mundane season of parenting allows for beauty to blossom in unexpected places. May beauty blossom for us all in whatever season we are in, and may we give it the space it needs to wrap itself around our hearts and pull us into it's embrace.

Blessings to you my friend!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Can't Pour Out What Hasn't Been Poured In

So I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning (At Home With Sally) and Sally asked an intriguing question that has stuck with me all day. She asked, "Are you a person of resource?" What she meant in the context of the discussion was, are you a person who, when people come to you with needs of a kind word or encouraging thought or perhaps a word of wisdom, are able to provide that? I want to be that kind of person, friends. But as I've been pondering this statement I have also been weighing out my own heart and realizing that in order to be that kind of person I have to have my life spotlighted on the One who is wise and discerning and kind. I can't pour out what hasn't been poured in.

My husband has a bit of an obsession with iced tea in the summertime. As in, he will drink an entire pitcher before lunchtime and then wonder where it all went. Sometimes when I want to be kind and pour him a glass of tea, and there's nothing but the dregs left on the bottom, I will fill that cup as full-up of ice as I possibly can and then maybe add a little bit of water so that it will at least give the illusion that he has more than a few sips to swallow. But when the pitcher is empty it doesn't really matter how much I want to pour him a glass of refreshing iced tea. It is, at best, weak and unsatisfying because that is what happens when you let the pitcher run empty.

It's the same way with our souls. When we don't keep them filled they simply cannot provide the life and thirst-quenching hope that we desire to offer up to others. It has been a bit of a season like that for me the past several months. In a slow progression away from the things that really matter--the things that fill me up and keep me satisfied--I have become dissatisfied with life, and in turn, have only theoretical backwash to offer up to others. (Apologies for the gross analogy...I have a toddler and a preschooler so backwash, boogers, and poop are part of our daily discussions!) ;) But seriously, why would I ever want to have only that to offer up to others? My longing is to be a place and a person who refreshes weary souls, not somebody who sucks life out of those around me!

So what do we do when we find ourselves in this place of emptiness and lack? Three things come to mind for myself, and they have been objects of my pursuit as I seek to be filled up once again. First, though it goes without saying, we must purpose to drink of the Living Water. Jesus is the only one who can bring the dead to life again and coincidentally he is also the one who turned plain ol' water into the best-tasting wine anybody had ever had. So I'd say it's a safe bet he is the best place to start when we are needing a little kick to our dry bones as well. Second, we must make time for the things that bring us life. We were made to be creators and innovators and I find that it is often when we become stagnate in our pursuits towards creativity and innovation that we become dry. Perhaps reading, writing, beautifying your home, or bringing a garden to life are passions of yours. Maybe travel or photography or becoming the best you can at some new endeavor is what sparks life back into your soul. Whatever it looks like, seek out the beautiful and it will return beauty to your desert places. Lastly, we must make time for rest. Taking care of our bodies and souls is not a selfish thing to do. When we eat good things, give our bodies the rest they need, and purpose to live active and productive lives we don't just feel better, we live better and more fully and we oftentimes unwittingly inspire others to do the same.

So for those of you out there who are dry and weary, take heart. It won't be like this forever and sometimes it is us choosing to put one foot in front of the other on the hard days that will help us work our way to the oasis that will quench our thirst and restore our lives. One prayer. One thankful thought. One act of kindness. One choice to be present in the lives of our loved ones even when we'd rather be checked-out. If you, like me, want to be a person of who others can depend on for a kind word or thoughtful insight...than let's purpose together to work on filling ourselves up so that we are ready to offer up refreshment when another weary traveler comes our way.

Blessings to you my friend!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Hello Again

I hop on here periodically and think, " has been so many months since I have blogged and now I don't even know where to begin." And so I hop off again, maybe having written words that I will later delete and never post or maybe having just stared at the screen for a bit. Lately, however, there has been a stirring in me to get back into the blogging world and try to find my niche once again.

As I type this I am humming the chords to "Do Re Mi" from Sound of Music, which begins with the words, "Let's start at the very beginning. The very best place to start. When you read you begin with A, B, C. When you sing you begin with Do Re Mi." So here I am, starting at the beginning of a new chapter in Messy Faces, Happy Families where my desire is to bring life, authenticity, and hope to both you and I as I travel my trying-to-be-intentional-and-seeking-out-the-joy journey alongside you.

I take it personally sometimes when I hop on a blog I enjoy and see that nothing has been posted for weeks or months. I wonder, "What happened? Was there a family emergency? Was there a tragedy? What went wrong, I thought we were friends!?" (I know, I can be a tad dramatic). Anyway, nothing like that happened here. I dropped out of the blogging vortex back in November because life gets crazy around that time and I just wasn't enjoying writing anymore. Then I lost my drive and felt like I had nothing to say and time went on and there was nothing pressing to drag me back into this world.

Lately, however, I have needed some motivation to pour life and joy and memories into my own family and I have often found that some of my best ideas come when I am trying to come up with ideas for blogging. So I thought, "Aha! Maybe dipping my toes back into the world of words will help me to be more intentional about being joyful and present with my own family!" So here goes the venture. ;)

Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of our summer plans, the beginnings of my "so I guess I'm a homeschool mom now" journey, & some book reviews. None of this is really for your benefit, good reader, it is entirely selfishly motivated to help keep me accountable and give me a place to process my thoughts (as well as a good excuse to read too many books!) So I guess I should be thanking you for being my motivation and accountability! ;) Looking forward to being refreshed and starting anew, as well as reconnecting with some of you!

Blessings to you today~