life-giving home . january

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.

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we have a five-year strong family tradition of taking a picture like this on new year’s eve… and i think this year’s is my most favorite yet 🙂

 

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.

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candle lit quiet time
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and the white lights twinkling at night made me know i had nothing to dread…
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a strand of lights tucked into a bowl in our room

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.

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Big Snow by Jonathan Bean 

 

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I learn about so many of the good books that I check out from the library through Pinterest.

 

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. 😉

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that fur blanket is my winter-time favorite
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a cozy warm rug for bare feet was a nice addition to hadron’s nursery

 

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.

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Sally has turned me into a tea drinker – and this one is my current favorite. I add some honey and ooh la la it’s perfect 🙂 What’s your favorite tea?

 

 

 

life-giving home . an invitation

so, I instagrammed this :

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Instagram Post

“If there was ONE book I would recommend to you for 2017 I quickly read this book last spring and loved it – so much in fact I just knew I had to read it again.
This book builds a framework for “home” in part one, builds walls using each month of the year as part two’s chapter headings, and then fills each room with beautiful riches in each page. The solid frame, the sturdy ideas, and the beauty of God and Home on display in this book inspire me to build a house for the love of God and in order to love others, my family, my friends, neighbors, and anyone who may pass by.
For my next few posts, I am going to share with you from this fantastic read. (And say you’re not a reader,.. you’re more of a listener,… Sally has “life-giving home” podcasts.)”

This post led to a bigger idea – I thought, what if I could somehow do a book club of sorts for all of my friends, far and near, from all of the different places and seasons of life that we have become friends… and as I talked with Tyler and we plotted out what this would look like we said, well, let’s try it. Our “try it” on the table let to a flurry of Facebook videos – the first, an invitation, the second, a framework of the life giving home book and the vision set forth in this book, and the third, a video on the month of January …

All with the direct intent to create a life giving home in my own home, to encourage my book club girls to do the same in their own homes, and to engage the possibility of helping to eradicate the homelessness that Sally writes of in a place – Facebook – where often so many of us feel so very isolated. What if we could all be friends – family – home together?  What if we could seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness worked out in our homes, together!? I think – YES! Let’s try it. We can’t fail! After all, we are going after HIM! Jesus, who is Life, who is Home, who is the One to whom we belong.

So come on – join in! Let’s do this together. Let’s read this book – Life Giving Home – together and let’s dream of what it would look like to build a house that is full of riches, and let’s do whatever the Lord reveals to us in our dreams with Him.

And let’s begin at the beginning – January.

 

 

playing house + homemaking

I finally sat down at the end of another day, Tyler smiling at me. I asked him, “You know what I think is hard about this?”… as I sort of gestured at the room… “Your home is your work and your work is your home.”

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When you were a little girl, didn’t you just love playing home? Perhaps you had one of those plastic houses outside where you stirred soup made of water, twigs, and berries. Maybe you had a wooden doll house displayed along the wall of your bedroom where you spent hours upon hours with the tiny beds and even smaller wooden figures. There was even one time where my parents let a friend and me re-paint my bedroom walls! (Daddy had to finish…)
When we were little girls we played house.
And now as big girls, our playing home has become making home.
Making home is hard work. What used to be just play, easily abandoned at the threat of rain or in the need of sleep, has become the constant to do list. You cannot look out the window without noticing it needs to be cleaned. Simply walking up the stairs becomes a discipline in not noticing smudges, dust, and dirt. Laughingly I stated last night, “Our house is just one big smudge!”
You have it all – husband, home, children, you enviably work from home – but what was only play has become your all the time work. And because home and work are in the same place and there is no shift change or “see ya laters” at 5PM, it’s taxing.
If it’s not the housework that gets you, perhaps its the reality of raising your precious children. Your baby doll is actually alive, eating and dirtying diapers and needing a bath. Plus since your baby is real she needs emotional and spiritual care too. The on-call, 24/7 nature of being mom both invigorates -and exhausts – you. (Me too;)
Childs play has become your work and the home that used to be an easy refuge and retreat has become your grown-up responsibility.
Big girl, what are we to do?
Well, there’s a lot of soul work to be done here – we need to be made new. We need new hearts and new minds as we approach our people and our place. And the Lord takes care of that, through His Word and prayer, by the power of His Holy Spirit to the glory of Christ the Savior. He shows us that He is our Home and He is our Rest, Refreshment, and Retreat. He reminds us that the most important Work is done, that it took His life,.. so when we work, we can live & enjoy it.
What does enjoying the work look like? How do we get rest + refreshment under the constant demands of housework and the weighty responsibility of raising children?
>>>Surrendering to His design and His salvation, we engage Him in this renewal work.<<<
Sisters in Christ, in the sisterhood of homemaking and child-raising, I want to share with you some ways that the Lord has taught me to engage Him in my day in and day out. These are some practical ideas for enjoying today, for receiving the soul revival Jesus longs to give us, right where we sit at the end of a long day.
> Rhythm and routine go a long way. Say yes to the reality in front of you and no to what hinders and distracts. Create a skeleton of a schedule and stick to it, so in order to serve your family (not the schedule). Pray about everything, listen to the Lord, and DO what HE says.
> Within the framework of an intentional schedule, you’ll start to notice pockets of time where you can retreat without running away.
> The first pocket you may notice is in the morning before your birdies start chirping at you. A cup of coffee enjoyed in silence while reading scripture and listening to Jesus sing over you will refresh and ready for you the day ahead like no other time away.
> Other mornings it may be that God gifts you with extra sleep. Take it. Receive it. Enjoy it. And when you greet your babies and your husband at the breakfast table, smile at them. and thank them for the extra sleep.
> Then you might find a pocket in the morning to shower (at least once a week or so;). Honestly it’s sad how much I am negatively affected when I feel like my hair doesn’t look good or I think my clothes don’t fit. But when the Lord graciously gives me a shower… oh girl! it lifts me and refreshes me through this simple gift.
>There could be a time in the afternoon to enjoy dark chocolate- a coke – a walk. a neighborhood friend. Even all of these goods together!
> On certain days of the week you might pass a coffee shop,.. friend, go in for a latte. Sip it and remember, Jesus loves you. You are His Child. With littles loud in the back of the car, unraveling your nerves, let Him hold you together, heart, soul, and mind.
> I know I love just going outside at some point in the day. Sure I walk sometimes but mostly it’s simply to breathe fresh air, gaze far, and get some sunshine. I remember He’s big, I’m small, and He’s got me.
> At the end of the day, you might enjoy a cup of tea while the babies sit in the bath. You might put on cozy clothes and finish your housework in candlelight.
> After everyone is tucked in, hug your husband and share a glass of wine. Sit down.
> Thank the Lord for one more day to experience His Sovereign Goodness and Grace… and humbly ask Him for another.
These little-large actions to retreat, to find refuge and refreshment will go a long way as you work in your home, as you care for your children day in and day out. Soul-care will free you to enjoy the play of work and the people He has placed in your stewardship.
>>>
How do you engage His Rest in your day?
In what ways do you stop to listen to Jesus singing His love over you?
What moments of your day do you use to take care of yourself so you can serve others in joy?
I would love to hear from you, sisters. Please share!

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welcome to us 

Saturday is for sharing – a yummy breakfast. a walk. a good conversation. a fun game. an afternoon nap. a table for two. a slow dance under the stars…

and today I want to share with you a few photographs. We are husband+wife, daddy+mommy, & three little men – our sons – our children –

welcome to the new us. welcome to our family.

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unspecified“Joy shared is joy multiplied” – Tyler, our fearless and loving leader

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“You have filled our hearts with joy” – David, in the Psalms

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“Come to me, little children” – Jesus

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“I sing over you” – God our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer

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“Children are a gift, a blessing, a heritage from the Lord. Happy is the man whose quiver is full.” – Psalm 127:3-5

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“May these boys abound in brotherly love” – my prayer for them

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“My son, listen to your momma’s instruction, and live” – Proverbs 1:8

“I’d rather do nothing with you than something with anyone else”

>>> photographs . amy free photography <<<

 

 

Haddon, Homeschool, and the Holidays 

Haddon –

Here we are baby. Here we are boys. Here we are husband. Six weeks in and it feels (most of the time) like we’ve always had you; like you have always been apart of the family. What did we do before?

Here I was – two Octobers ago, clinging to the whispers of God explicit in this scripture : “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.”‭‭ Genesis‬ ‭30:22

And when we found out we were having another son, yes ma’am we did – we named him Joseph. The Lord added again.

“She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!””‭‭ Genesis‬ ‭30:23-24

As I hold little Joseph Haddon in my arms, he’s content and I’m listening to music and writing a bit, I think … not only does He remove reproach, but God also gives grace. Grace upon grace.

This third son – sure, I’ve had two others, sure, I may be a bit more seasoned, but this third son is a whole person. A new little. Someone we all have the privilege to steward well and love long.

Long suffering. Surely the most needed character trait of a mommy, of a daddy, of two bustling brothers. Of a husband and wife,.. for every person, from everyone else,

… suffer long.

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The Holidays –

I know it’s practically the middle of January but as we celebrated the holidays with Haddon in our arms,… two reflections kept rumbling around in my thoughts, 2 in the morning. 10 in the evening. At Christmas Eve service. Opening gifts for 3 days straight.

Mary on that donkey. Goodness gracious. Just imagine it! Then she finds herself in the leftover stable. Laboring Life Himself into the world. A hot sticky, stuck to mess of a new mom. Bloody. Bare. Only swaddled cloths to cover. Golly.

No matter the days I had to wait and the hours I spent in labor, it was nothing like bless her precious surrendered heart Mary. She suffered long, pondering all of these things in her heart.

Stinky shepherds crowded to worship; she sat, perhaps trembling, spent. Her life for His so He could give her His…

Nothing compares. And I can only say with Mary – bless the Lord.

And then look at him. Held like a prince. Dressed in fine clothes. Every need attended to. Clean and beautiful. Everyone washed their hands before they offered their praise – He’s beautiful! Worth the wait! Oh how healthy he is.

The stinky shepherds tripped over themselves to worship. Gotta love them.

But where were all of the other wait-ers to oooh and aaah?

Why didn’t anyone celebrate!? The dark days were over. Light had come!

Everyone happy to meet Haddon, the prince dressed and clean.

But for Jesus,… barely dressed. Dirty stable room. Nobodies were there. Not even Mary’s mother! Where was the proud grandpa!?

The world’s better Joseph had come! – a gift of grace to save not only from famine but from soul-starvation,…and the whole town crowded to count people didn’t visit the One who counted the most.

Haddon, our gift. Well received with open arms, laid in warm bed with a basketful of blankets beside. But Jesus THE GIFT + GIVER. Cows lowing,… Animal manger,…

O Jesus, I love you even more.

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Merry Christmas Morning

Homeschool –

What is school without Christmas and family and books, birthday parties and cozy movie nights? Sure,.. we took a break from curriculum, but only so we could press in to learning how to take care of a little, how to take care of our new family, together, and to celebrate. To sing Happy Birthday and to worship Jesus in a special way in this extraordinary season.

And here we are now. Snowed into rest. Six weeks into the rest of our lives. And ready for what King Jesus would have for us, for His glory, for 2017.

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first day of homeschool 2017

** for more photographs, follow me on instagram – everylittlejot **

Christmas Quiet Times

With the recent arrival of a newborn, life has changed!, my body has once again changed, and my schedule, too. Plus, it’s the Christmas season, which makes everything exciting & different from the normal. 

With all of these changes, my time with the Lord has changed too. 

Everyone assumes that with a newborn it’s hard for me to spend any time in the Word. And I know what they’re saying, but for me, it was the last several weeks of pregnancy that were so hard – hard to wake early (I was so tired!); hard to journal (my hands were swollen and numb); hard to take in any more (I was emotionally and mentally “full,” so I meditated and prayed with the scripture I know). And in those last weeks, the Lord was so faithful to me. He upheld me and strengthened me. He fought against and won the self-inflicted guilt about not having a “proper” quiet time. He used Sunday morning sermons to “feed” me all week. 

So after bringing Haddon home, I was ready to jump back into my quiet time. I missed Jesus! And my morning time with Him. 

Now, I wake at 6A to nurse Haddon… and this is when I spend time with the Lord in His Word. 

It’s the Advent + Christmas season, I have focused my quiet time there – at Jesus’ birthday. 

My quiet time looks like reading a bible verse or few about Who Jesus Is; today is December 14th and I read John 8:12 “Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'” 

I write it down. I try to memorize it, or refresh my memory. I pray/meditate on the verse. I want the scripture to stick in the forefront of my mind for the day. 

Then I read this little book “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas,” edited by Nancy Guthrie. It’s 23 readings from various authors, pastors, theologians on Christmas. The date is the 14th, so I read the 14th chapter. 

And in those quiet dark sweet moments in the morning with littlest love in my arms and bible in my lap, I take in His Word. I pray. I’m so glad to meet with Jesus. 

Throughout the day I read other little things, and we have moments as a family where we get into the Word. My next blog post will be about family Christmas devotions. 

Haddon’s Arrival + First Week

He’s here! He’s here! Joseph Haddon is <finally> here!

 

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welcome, new life

Haddon was born on November 26th at 3:16PM… four days after his due date. His “late” arrival took me by surprise, because my first two sons arrived on their due date. Of course, I should have known better, but instead I was surprised. And swollen, sore, and so ready to have this baby.

I had prayed he would come in the middle of the night, that my water would break (so the doctors had to admit me!); I prayed all sorts of things, but in the end, again, of course I know and should have known better, the Lord works out His perfect plan for us.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving with both sides of our family and we enjoyed a week at home with our big boys. It really was a sweet time, a time I wouldn’t trade for anything… except I was ready to have this baby!

<Finally> on Saturday morning, I woke to contractions that I knew were the real deal. Off to the hospital we went, and without going into too much detail ;), Tyler and I had our baby! We received loving care from the best nurse and a wonderful doctor.

It was so much fun to have Leland and Grafton come into the L+D room to see us, meet Haddon, and watch how they immediately fell in love with their baby brother.

Family had waited all day in the lounge, and it was special to have them meet and love on our third son.

We felt the particular blessing of God on our lives that day, in those precious hours and circumstance. He covered us and cared for us. He blessed us with another boy and now we have three little men. 

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How’s that for a party pony!? – Hi, baby Haddon! It truly is a party now that you are here!
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The boys get to meet the little boy and see the nurses take care of him.
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bright-eyed from the very beginning
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my love
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Yay! We get to take this baby and this party home!
I went home less sore but still swollen. The first few days I was hopped up on as much pain medicine as possible and could barely walk. But I was happy. Happy to be home with Haddon, this side of the womb. Happy to celebrate life with my four men. Happy to have Christmas decorations around the home, thanks to Tyler, Leland, and Grafton. They are quite the team!

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our three little men
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All five + decorated for Christmas 
After about a week – I am learning, just give it a week… or so… – I could walk! and move and be “normal.”

Something that started spontaneously with Leland, and then I planned for Grafton and Haddon is a “one week old birthday party.” We celebrate because precious life is here, because the good Lord got us through the first week, and we are alive to celebrate!

For Haddon, we had family Sunday lunch at our house  – a “man soup” made by Tyler, complete with hearty bread and Coke Life 😉 , then finished the meal with my mom’s delicious chocolate pie, Nana’s beautiful cream cheese spice cake, and my grandmother’s home made Russian tea.

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This super-fun dessert napkin communicates my emotions exactly – YAY!
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Tyler hung the banners that my sisters, Noelle + Christianne, used to decorate our house for Haddon’s baby shower; perfect, huh?!
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My sisters also used these succulents as the centerpiece at the shower, so of course, we had to use them for the party!
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‘ a party without a cake is just a meeting’ and we were not trying to have a meeting, so we had cake!
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hooray for haddon!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Praise Him, all creatures here below!

Praise Him, above ye heavenly host!

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Amen.