May is the month of celebration – this is the running theme in the book, The Life Giving Home. One of the significant celebrations this month is Mother’s Day – only a week away! And as I celebrate my mom, all of the spiritual mothers in my life, and the reality that I have joined their ranks, I am asking myself this question : What kind of mom do I want to be? … today? for the next season of life while my sons live under my roof? What kind of mom-legacy do I want to give my children? What kind of mom do I want to be remembered as? This question “What kind of mom do I want to be?” motivates me to seek Scripture, to talk it out the Lord, to think back through the models I have been gifted with, including the ultimate example and ideal, Jesus Christ; to think about my own personality and gifts… and to ask the Lord to weave all of these aspects together into an inspiring image of the kind of mom He desires I be and become.
Lessons Learned in April . A List :
1. To remember to do the Life Giving Home live meet up earlier in the month (😏)
2. No, really.
3. When I get to a spot in life where I need to stare the problem in the face and solve it, instead of trying to solve it while engaging my children, which too quickly falls apart with a short tempered, hangry mom (me) and discouraged, terry eyed children(them😥), ask a grandparent to take my boys to Marbles (or really wherever)… and everyone would be MUCH happier + the problem might actually get solved.
4. Recieve all of the grace given to me in Christ,… and share it. generously.
5. I’m gladder than I can speak or know for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. THE monumental event in history means everything to me – is the reason I can realize any of these other lessons and provides the space to be loved, to love others; to give and to recieve forgiveness and grace. He is the Way & He is Freedom. The best way out is through the Cross and as we’ve walked through Easter this year, I’m happier than ever – a serious kind of happy – for the Cross.
“The best way out is always through*”… the CROSS. – *Robert Frost
In one of my all-time favorite movies, Steel Magnolias, one of my all-time favorite characters, Truvy, declares, “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.”*
Ten years ago at the very end of this month, Tyler and I were married. Golly – I remember it like yesterday. And when I think back I tear up and swell with smiles all at the same time. Laughing + crying at the same time is my favorite emotion, like raining and sunshine is my favorite weather – uncontainable, your heart, the sky, smiles and weeps simultaneously. The glory and the gravity of life, overwhelming.
Between days of celebration and sunshine, days of storms, dry spells, quiet snowflakes, flashing thunder, rainy downpours, seasons changing, years passing… all of these days connect and cause and string together the days of sunshine + raining, the moments of weeping celebration.
Nothing is any longer ordinary; all of the mundane works itself into the miracle.
And in the march of time, in the month of March, each day, all thirty-one of them, together. Enjoyed and forgotten; embraced and remembered.
When Tyler and I walked down the aisle to the Doxology, married, I jumped up and hugged him with all of my might. Praise God from whom all blessings flow
… these same words introduce each one of us to the Lord around the table as we hold hands and sing them before we once again sit to eat supper, jump up and down “let me get that for you, honey,” serving each other, enjoying life together, as the sun sets, the stars shine, later that night we settle into sleep, jumping up in the dark to answer the baby alive crying, settling once more, slipping back into bed, warming up with each other,.. time marching on.
And as we look at who we are today – Tyler, stronger, Rachel, much more gracious; Leland, our lion-hearted leader, Grafton, our kind and tender hearted good brother, Strength and Grace our heaven babies who tilt our chins to the sky, Haddon, our abundant gift, who already lives life to the full, hungry and happy and wholly alive (all of us, new creations)… I watch time march on,… I look in the mirror and see happy smile lines wide and cheeks tears have crashed down, one after the other, unstoppable. I see blue eyes that See – see Jesus, fixed on Him, see how Jesus sees, set on things above, see that we see dimly now, but one day, fully! glory and gravity, grace and glory.
I see that time is marching across my face, and I welcome the blessing of a new day, new lines, new wisdom, mercies new every morning.
In the ordinary-ness of life, in the all is a miracle and a grace, in the sunshine and the rain, in the laughing and crying all at the same time, The Lord is ushering His Kingdom into our hearts, ushering us into His Kingdom.
As we walk, as we march, as we are carried into the next day, the next minute, our next emotion, the next season, our next relationships, let us seek first the kingdom of God that we may See Him high and lifted up, our Righteousness, and the rest of these days will be added to us as well…celebrating and connecting and causing our path to lead us straight into Heaven, straight into His holy home.
“May your mundane March realities be the ground in which you plant the seeds of faith, beauty, and hope that sprout into a life mart by the goodness of God.” (100)
I woke up with a feeling of neediness that seemed strapped to my chest. As I unloaded my burden to the Lord, nervous and not sure, He answered me.
Yep, girlfriend, you are needy. And yep, I’ve got you.
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
— We don’t want to admit that we live lowly, but the High and Holy One says He lives with us… and don’t we want to live with Him?
Then I read this
“God has given you so many limitations because he loves you. He wants you to experience as much of his love, in as many ways as possible. And for that to happen, he must provide you a never-ending river of reasons, and an enormous range of diverse ways, to receive and give love.⠀
And this is just what he’s done! He has made you a very limited part of his body, the church, and he places you with other parts that are also very limited in different ways (1 Corinthians 12:18, 27). As the interdependent parts work together, the whole body functions (Romans 12:4–5) and it displays the love of God (John 13:34–35). Your unique strengths and weaknesses are indispensable gifts to this body. Without them the whole body suffers because unique expressions of God’s gracious love will be missed.⠀
If you’re frequently discouraged over your limitations, it’s an indicator that you’re looking at yourself from the wrong perspective, and looking at yourself too much. You’re not seeing what God sees; you’re likely feeling discontent from comparing yourself to other people, other parts of the body.⠀
A wonderful treatment for such discouragement is prayerfully meditating on 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. And also it’s likely time to reframe the question from ‘Why can’t I be more like that?’ to ‘What opportunities is God giving me in my limitations to experience more of his gracious love?’⠀
Because the truth is, you are so limited because you are so loved.”⠀
— Jesus, thank you for loving me.
I heard Him singing this song to and over me… Lord, I need You by Matt Maher
The Lord spoke to me
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.'” – 2 Cor 12:9
Your greatest need, forgiveness + life, was met in the greatest act of history, the Cross, by the greatest person ever, Jesus Christ. I am your Need-Meet.
One of the things I value in conversation is the sharing of resources. I so appreciate it when a friend exclaims, “Hey I think you would love this” and recommends a book, shares a recipe, or gives me new insight on how to get something done that i do every day.
So in an effort to love you in this month of love + in an attempt to engage homemaking together – I am going to share a few of my favorite resources with you.
- Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Books, girlfriend, are life-givers. And a good book gives good life. Francine Rivers fictionalizes the story of Hosea in such a compelling, tender way… you don’t want to miss this treasure. Sally’s book is for children, but every time we read it to our sons, I come away misty-eyed and full-hearted. She sings the good news of Jesus over my soul in such a precious way. In both of these fantastic reads, you hear “Jesus loves you”… Like we talked about in our LIVE time together. For all of the every day time and each special time you need to hear that truth, go to these books.
Need I say more? 🙂 Chocolate is one of those common graces from the Lord that I am so glad I get to enjoy and share. barkThins is a bag of “snacking” chocolate, thin slivers of the good stuff that is (a little too) easy to access. I love to share a piece with my boys after lunch and then savor another bite with some coffee in the afternoon. (Not to mention all of the other times…)
I am only just stepping into the world of meal plan+delivery service but the concept is strong to me. Hello Fresh offered $40 off of my first delivery and I took them up on it! It’s a referral based business, so my sister, who referred it to me, also got $20 off of her next box. I chose the family plan with three meals. In a typical week I plan three meals, so this was a plug and play decision. I am excited to receive my first box this coming Monday and get cooking. The time saved not planning and purchasing the groceries seems like a win! Plus Hello Fresh has an iPhone app, which I appreciate, because I utilize my phone at any point that I can (groceries; to do lists; email; writing blog posts… 😉
5. this quote and idea from the book : Sally writes in Life Giving Home, “I have realized over many years that crafting a culture of love – gracious, sacrificial, validating, forgiving love – requires a loving and generous heart… It also means choosing, again and again, to focus on what really matters in life.” (65)
Who is Love? Jesus Christ. And whoever we are, we are to fix our focus on Jesus Christ. He will gift us with a new heart, a heart like His, loving, gracious, sacrificial, validating, and forgiving…and in Him, we will live out love wherever we are, to whomever the Lord has placed in our lives. Sally writes in the chapter on month of February that loving one another looks like taking special time, celebrating special days, enjoying the every day together with your special people. She shows her reader that incarnational love is in all of these things as well as “keeping house – picking up those messes one more time – is a service of worship to God as we craft a place of beauty and comfort for all who enter our sanctuary of His very presence.” It encourages me so much that picking up toys, wiping down the counter over and over again, pulling up the sheets… all, worship, all praise to the Lord, our Dwelling Place. As she ends her chapter, I wrap up this post, “I can trust Him to transform (LOVE THIS!) all my efforts into the stuff of eternity. Love wins. Love always wins.”
O Lord, bless the work of my hands, and of my sisters’ hands, as they hold their hands high to worship You, as they hold their hands cupped on precious littles, as their hands hold their husband’s… picking up, putting down, pulling together, putting back into place…. Jesus establish the work of our hands and heart in eternity, that what we do in the here and now might be heaven-worthy. In your Holy Name, Amen.
“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony…” – Colossians 3:14 ESV
“Our rejoicing is this, … that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.—We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” – daily light, January 19, AM / 2 Cor 1:12; 2 Cor 4:7
early morning – I wake up to nurse Haddon. I wake up to begin my quiet time with the Lord. Sometimes I crawl back into bed… but most mornings I continue my quiet time and bible study after laying Haddon back down to sleep.
My men and I begin our day around 7AM. I love listening to them coming down the stairs, and hugging them the first second I see them! I like to cook breakfast, but sometimes they only want cereal. We eat together and read the Daily Light. Coffee is a must.
After Tyler leaves for work, we begin our team work. We clean off the table, empty the dishwasher that washed the dishes the night before, and move the wet clothes into the dryer. We take turns getting dressed for the day. I like it when I remember to play music, and sometimes the music is the boys pretending and laughing.
We begin school with a prayer, thanking the Lord for the privilege to love Him with our mind, heart, soul, and strength because He first loved us. We read books, color pictures, listen to stories, complete our work book pages, and at the end of our almost-hour of formal school, we thank the Lord for a good school day.
It’s only mid-morning … and of course we have a snack! We put on coats and go outside. We might meet friends or run errands.
I like it when we play until lunch time, break for lunch, and then go back to playing. The boys are always re-energized after a good lunch. We pick up our toys + I fold the load of laundry… usually, maybe… we read a story, we slip into bed for a nap. Leland likes to read a big stack of books. I like to rest. or have some dark chocolate. or both. Grafton’s hair curls as he sleeps. My favorite is when I get a nap with Haddon.
Once rest is over, we play! we prep supper! we pace with the baby and greet daddy in the driveway.
Dinner and devotion time is next.. then maybe movie night! perhaps game night! bikes! friends! camp fire! dance party! play and talk and read and color and paint and all of the things we love to do together. We clean up… bath. brush teeth. books. bed our knees in prayer. bed.
whew. we breathe. we smile. we have a couple more hours… of readying for tomorrow. of talking the entire time. of sipping wine and sharing chocolate and being bestest friends. playing guitar and reading the next chapter.
sure – arguments and disagreements, discipline and more arguing are scattered through the schedule. we stray from it and we wrestle with it and we come back together no matter what. messes overwhelm me. I don’t respond to my children the way I know Jesus responds in love to me. I forget the Design; I forfeit His desire. We sin, we confess, we come clean, we start again. Sometimes the entire day is one we are glad to just get through.
but, these are the days. these are them,… and i hope i steward them well… cherish the lives that fill them… glorify the Lord in whatever we are doing… these are the days the Lord has made. we rejoice and we are glad, praising God from whom all blessings flow.
“This is the day the Lord has made; rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24
As promised in the LIVE life Giving Home chat on January here is a little bit more on our January & inspiration I gleaned from the book…
We welcomed Haddon into the world, we celebrated Christmas, we traveled to Greensboro with MPB, and we bumped right into 2017.
As we entered into the new year, we wanted slow. We wanted to snuggle down and sip hot. We wanted to establish our new family’s life together.
We wanted to continue the theme that we began at Advent – Jesus in the Light of the World. So in the dark cold of January, we left our Christmas lights twinkling. We kept up our tree the entire month. I lit candles and strung a few more white lights around the house. The little lights glittered all around our home, filling dark corners with a soft glow. And as I read a picture book to my boys in the morning … and later sipped tea with Tyler after bedtime, Jesus enveloped us with His light. of love, of peace, of life.
As you well-know, friends, I love a good book. For any and every occasion I want to borrow books, buy books, and most especially read books. For the boys this January, I borrowed a pile of book on “snow” from the library, and then purchased two… one on the gifts of winter, and another written and illustrated by one of our favorites, Jonathan Bean.
For reading, I kept cozy blankets on the couches, and cozy pillows on beds. I piled books on godly character and all of the children’s bibles and devotion books we have into the boys’ room’s book basket. I thought starting the year with a focus on godly character might be a good idea. 😉
As we entered into our new normal, I considered the questions Sally asks on page 45 of the January chapter of Life Giving Home. We had a rhythm pre-holiday, pre-very very pregnant, and the biggest task was just getting back to it now that the holidays were past and the baby is here. We wanted wintertime to be a ‘home-time’ so we have tried to keep Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as home-days, with bible study on Tuesday, and Leland goes to CLUBS on Thursday.
When it is sunny and warm, which we have enjoyed a lot of those days this January, we go outside! And when it’s cold and dreary, we eat soup and drink homemade hot chocolate.
It was fun this year because it snowed so shortly after Christmas… which gave our family much desired time together to do nothing. Praise the Lord for His great grace – I was feeling the desire for time together, alone, with nothing to do, but I didn’t know how that was going to happen. Well, the Lord gifted me with snow, and time sequestered in our home, just the five of us.
I love how Sally talks about establishing routines, and I talk a lot about that in the Facebook Live January video. I invite you to watch it and get involved in the discussion.
I’ve been using this monthly calendar free printable & the coordinating weekly to do sheet. I stick it inside my pantry & refer to it almost daily.
At the end of the January chapter, Sally writes, “So plan your days, allow flexibility, and keep moving in the direction of your ideals a little at a time. I believe you’ll see that your intentional investment of time will promote valuable habits in the lives of all those who share your home – you included.” (p 58)
I couldn’t agree more… So, let’s do this holy homemaking thing together, seeking first His Kingdom, looking to love others well and love Jesus with our all.