Thursday, February 6, 2014

Heavenward

I'm a thrill seeker (for those of you who laugh- look it up- I may not jump out of planes or like dark places, but I am- check it).  I'm an Adventurer.  I like to go out in the unknown and discover new things.

Jon and I don't really like the idea of settling.  The thought of permanent freaks us out a little.  We've talked a couple of times about buying a house and thought- nah, not really our thing.  Ok- there's more to it than that, but lets just leave it there, shall we.

Anyhooooo...

We've recently come to a stage in our lives where we have to make some pretty important decisions.  Decisions that will decide whether we settle for a while or start something new, and we've come to a crossroad: unsure where to go.  So we've taken a lot of time to really consider the options.

And for me, I realized that I'm afraid that anything having to do with settling means there isn't anything else better.  Like this is it.  I already know what to expect and can predict what my life will look like.  I'm afraid that settling means unsatisfying.  I'm afraid settling makes me a part of the norm -  and I've never really been part of the norm.

I look at some of my friends lives who are off doing things I had always dreamed of doing, and ask why can't I?  When can I be a part of something great like that?

I sat at my journal doodling away at a verse that stuck out that night:

Granted- there's is a deeper context to this verse- but still- I felt a sense of grace saying, "You've asked, and I've given.  I've delighted in you and I've given you beyond what you are choosing to see.  The desires of your heart are the desires of mine, you just need to see what I see."

I forgot that each day I get a chance again to breathe.  I wake up with another moment to take pleasure in what is in front of me.  Although it may seem predictable, its something new.  A fresh scent of second chances with the sweet savory taste of glory divine.  When I choose to see each day, each moment, and each choice as a way to rejoice in the One who has given me all that is good, whether simple or extraordinary, I begin to live a life full of thrills.

My days of packing up everything and traveling to unknown lands may not be for the here and now, but the adventure of what My King has given me to taste and see that He is good is one step heavenward.

So whether we home school or public school, sign Jon back up for classes or put in new applications, commit to projects or wait them out, each one has its own sense of adventure.  For the thrill is in the choice to make each one Eternity minded.  For our eyes are on heaven and the Glory of His Kingdom now.



Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Haven


"Picture yourself as an artist.  Crafting beauty, color, aromas, tastes, fun and humor, love, and comfort - these are all aspects of creating a life-giving environment in your home.  The point of keeping ahome is not to be a perfectionistic or neurotic about cleanliness and order but to create a life of balance that brings joy to your world and those around you. " ~Sally Clarkson

 When you live on a humble income, you learn to get creative... real fast.  But thankfully, due to some creativity, I haven't had to let my home scream "part time income for a family of four."  I hope to share those tricks, but for now, one of the more important aspects of creating a space that brings joy is fresh flowers.  They make me happy and lighten a mood on a gloomy day.  But when flowers aren't a priority in a budget, I scrimp and save some extra pennies (ok, more like quarters and dollars) and head straight to Trader Joe's or Fresh and Easy and swoop on their "almost-expired-but-still-on-sale" flowers.  Although the are on their last breath at the store, I can usually bring them home and revive them for another week or two.  And it's so worth it.

Because my home is where I spend most of my time.  And I'm a visual oriented person.  An artist at heart.  So my home is my haven.  It helps to have spots of beauty and inspiration around me to keep me sane in the chaos or lighten a cranky mood.  And, well, in a house dominated by girls, pinks and flowers are a must.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Dance of the Mundane


I hear the tip toes and the little crinkle of her pull up as she makes her way out of bed and into the living room.  I sink a little in my chair with the hope that maybe, just maybe she'll look around, not find me, then go right back to bed, for when she wakes, we start the dance of the same ol' same ol'.  Or so it feels.

I used to get down on the floor and interact with the child I was with.  I understood the importance of intimate interaction for a young child and I always envisioned that would stay with me well into motherhood.  But today, I'm tired.  Too tired.

She likes to put music on and dance around the room as if she's performing a ballet in front of thousands, and she'll reach her hand out to me, while I'm nestled comfortably in my chair, and ask "dance with me mommy."  And more times than not, I turn her down as gently as I can because mama is just too tired.  The thought of getting down on the floor to play legos her way sounds exhausting.  Or setting up her dolls on the couch means that we'll have to take them all down and put them away and my mind goes straight for "no baby girl, mommy's too tired to for that, lets just read books."

And, well, lets be honest... the mundane of child play can even be... boring.  Its the same ol' same ol'.

At 28, I imagined I'd be doing adventurous things off saving the world.  I'd always wanted to be a mother.  I wanted (and still want) a home full of children, where my life oozed purpose.  I imagined a life that others would look at and be inspired by or challenged.  I just imagined I'd be doing something great.

I recently came across this quote.  I read it a couple of times.  Even pinned it.  Then decided it was worthy of doodling in my journal which then lead to pages and pages of thoughts on the words that stung my heart a little.

"Children are not a distraction from more important work.  They are the most important work." ~ John Trainer, M.D.
I so often get caught up in the same routine every day that I forget just how urgent my life really is, and just how purposeful each day and moment can be.  I've seen those meme's float around facebook calculating just how many days we get with out children.  I know, I know... they are only with us a short while.  But guess what, THEY ARE ONLY WITH US A SHORT WHILE.

At a marriage conference Jon and I attended recently, we went over our love language and were encouraged to speak the other's language in order to "fill our cups."  Then of course, the following day, Christine Caine, one of my favorite spunky Authors to follow on facebook wrote this:

"There is only one love language, it's called 'die to self'."
All love languages lead to one purpose, and that is to "die to self", they are just different translation of the same meaning.  Die to self.  Whether it's with my husband or with my children, my duty, my desire, and my purpose is to love them and loving them means stripping away at selfishness.  It means getting down on the floor to play legos even when I'm tired.  It means sacrifice.

So although it may appear that my life is mundane and lacks the thrill of adventure, I've got a great task that is full of such risk.  See, my little girl doesn't see playing legos as mundane, or barbies and baby dolls as the same ol' same ol'.  Her life is anything but ordinary.  She sees each day as a dance.  From her first tip toes off the bed to the time we tuck her in and say her prayers I can join in as her partner and dance in the mundane.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Confessions of A Broken Mom

It's 2am.  I'm on my phone with a newborn resting on my chest after a nighttime feeding and I can't seem to shut my mind off. 

I survived today with almost little regrets.  Almost.

I had always imagined motherhood to be full of moments where I picked up my child each morning from bed and swing her around and sang big band songs as the sun beamed in.  I imagined breakfast to be made each morning and aprons being a part of my everyday attire.  I imagined a day full of baking with my children and moments of quiet time to myself as they self played perfectly in their room.

But there is a reality...

She wakes up and calls for me and I beg her to find her way to me on the couch as I just can't find the energy to get up yet again after a long night of feedings and diaper changes.

In the business of getting us ready for our errands I forgot to feed breakfast so I promised I'd make it up to her with a McDonalds visit that included the play place.

I had to turn on the tv just to keep me laughing so I wouldn't break down and lose it making much of our free time being spent on the couch.

I didn't get to sit on the floor and play imagination with her today.  I didn't get to shower, for that matter.  I didn't get the laundry done, let alone even attempt to tackle the dishes.  

But I did manage to do something right, something that started the minute I realized I was a broken mom...

I prayed with my daughter... For me.

After having my second child, I internalized a secret I was afraid would blacklist me as a mother.  A secret I feared would set me apart.  

I had always believed that when the second child is born, my ability to love would grow so much and I would have this abundance of love that would just naturally appear.  But when it didn't for me and each morning I would have to muster up my ability to cuddle my first born when all I wanted to do was stare at my second and take in each piece of her, I hid away a guilt too afraid to even think about.  I was a terrible mom.  Did I just replace my child with a new one?  Where was this over abundance of love everyone talks about?  I was lucky of I only yelled at Joss a few times, let alone tell her I love her and carress her cheeks like I used to.  

I remember going to bed at night crying wanting so badly to take back each day knowing I failed her at what she needed from me, but even though I knew I had done her wrong, the next day I would do it again.  A cycle I was afraid would never break until I decided to reach out to someone.

I realized something about myself when I finally allowed my secret out.  I was not alone.  

There is so much freedom when you realize you aren't the only one to mess up, and that freedom does something amazing.  It opens your eyes and heart to a better reality.  

As time went on, things got better.  But I was still broken.  And I never realized just how broken till my daughter would follow up a "mommy I have to go potty" with a "and you aren't frustrated with me" statement.  Broken.  Or when she would say "mommy, why are you always mad at me".  Broken. 

But freedom was still working.  And it hit me while reading a book another mom shared with me... My daughter doesn't need me.  My daughter needs Jesus through me.  I couldn't muster up the love, gentleness, kindness, and patience on my own.  I needed Jesus.  She needed Jesus.  We needed Jesus. So I did something.  I admitted I was broken.  Then I committed to starting each morning with my daughter praying for me.  

I wanted her to see that mommy doesn't got it, but Jesus does and through Him mommy could do right unto her.  So I sat at the edge of her bed and reminded her how cranky mommy gets and that I needed Jesus to help mommy not be so cranky then asked of we could pray.  And we did.  We prayed for Jesus to help mommy be a better mommy to Joss and Joleen and not be so cranky.  

Guess what?

Jesus showed up, pulled through, and beyond my own ability made it happen.

My day wasn't perfect.  Remember, no breakfast and tv watching, but we cuddled.  We giggled.  And something happened.  I desired my first born again the way I hadn't in a while.  I desired her heart and I desired to give her all of mine.  My temper was gone and I could find peace in time with her again.

See, as much as I had wished I was a super mom, I like being a broken mom that allows Jesus to be the one to shine.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

She's Here!

Well, she's sort of been here.

Almost two weeks old, our little stunner has been an absolute blessing to our lives.  She has a big sister who absolutely in love with her!  She has a daddy who is googoo over her and a mama who can't seem to find a reason to put her down.

We are so in love with our newest addition to our family and from the moment I got to first lay eyes on her as they handed her to me, all the struggles of pregnancy were worth it.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Quiver Full

I remember the words Levi Lusko spoke as he shared the story of his little girl his family recently lost to an asthma attack.  "We hit a bulls-eye."

He was referring to the verse in Psalms 127:
"Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." -Psalms 127: 4 & 5

His little girl had gone to be with the Lord.  Bulls-eye!

It really struck a chord with me.  Of course, I was freshly pregnant with number 2 and my emotions were full force.  I sobbed and sobbed as I heard him speak.  But the words soaked deep into my heart.

Despite all our choices and open doors and doors that were clearly shut, one has remained tried and true: being the mother to Josselyn. Yes.  Being Jon's wife is my ministry.  My passion.  My life.  But being Josselyn's mother is my job.  I only get a limited number of years before she's off.  And ultimately, that's my goal.  Send her off.

As hard as it is to think that one day she will leave the nest, I have to keep thinking of that end result.  She will leave.  She's supposed to leave.  She's an arrow in my quiver and one day, I'll have to release the bow and send her off flying.  And my only prayer; Bulls-eye.

There are a lot of jobs I have to do.  Jon's secretary for youth group.  Taking high school girls on one on ones.  Designing the graphics for Church.   Making sure our home is kept.  Having dinner ready each night.  But none of these compare to the task God has, without a doubt, put before me; raising Josselyn (and hopefully soon, Joleen).

Being a mom is a powerful job.  One with great influence.  She watches my every move.  She listens to the way I speak.  She sees me at my weakest and at my strongest.  She's learned the rhythm of my moods and is learning how to respond to situations.  She is with me constantly and I have a great task at gently loving and nurturing her precious heart.

There are many who desire the task but haven't been given the opportunity.  There are others who have been handed the job, but take it for granted.  And each and every one of us mess up along the way.  We're imperfect.

But when we grasp the beauty of the job granted to us, whatever that job is, we get a second chance at meeting grace in its face and giving it a big kiss on the cheek.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

NEW BLOG. NEW DAY.

I couldn't sleep.  My mind was full of thoughts of recent events from these past few months.  I tossed and turned, rolled out of bed, walked around, got back into bed, and tossed and turned some more.  Things needed to change.

It was last spring when we began the foster to adopt process.  And we knew it was going to be tedious.  After multiple interviews and paper work through a private organization, we received the phone call that would give us our long list of "to-do's" before we could proceed any further.  It took us a while to process our list.  We even contemplated switching to county instead of private so we could avoid the list.  But we eventually realized that the list was made to best protect us and the kids in our future care.  So we began the steps to check off our list.

And so we have this past year many of you have been a part of or had been following.  Crazy moves that an outsider wont understand, or if they try, seem absolutely ridiculous.  But to the intimate ones who walked it with us, knew that each choice had a specific purpose- to get us to where we had aimed to be.

Along the way I got distracted.  And it can happen easily when I'm surrounded by people who don't see our goal and encourage it.  Or it can happen when I just selfishly forget and desire my own motives or wants.  I forgot our goal which was:


I don't remember the first time I heard it stated that way.  Probably some pinterest quote.  But either way, it summed up what Jon and I had always wanted to do.  And I lost track of that.  I began to try to keep up with the "next best thing" or fit in with the crowd of who's who and what's what.  Which in the depth of my heart, I really don't care about, but easily got caught up in.

Which lead me to the other night of tossing and turning.  I had recently closed this blog to private.  I wanted to be less out there for people to critique.  I was tired of outsiders taking one post and deciding that was the definition of who I was.  I was tired of being constantly concerned with what others thought of me.  So I ripped the band-aid off and closed it down.

It was easy.

We live in a home without cable or internet.  So the temptation to blog or stay on social media is easily removed.  I get my "dose" whenever I head into work and swoop on some "free time".  But when I'm home, I'm learning to fully be HOME.  

Which lead to the change in this blog.  Simply Living.  I wanted to document the growth and learnings of our family as we continue to strip away things that aren't necessary and learn to live off of minimal.  This is the blog of how our family is learning to strip away of ourselves so that we have much more to give back to others.  

"We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.  So we also out to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion- how can God's love be in that person?  Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions."- 1 John 3:16-18