Wednesday, December 26, 2012

merry christmas! :: a quick little recap


Happy day after Christmas! 

We celebrated the last few days by enjoying long, drawn out meals and conversations with family, 
reading + meditating on the Christmas story and celebrating with community,  
playing in a crazy snow blizzard, and 
remembering memories of Christmases in the past and thinking about Christmases to come. 

Our last few days have been so simple and restful.  

From our family to yours, I wish you a beautiful, beautiful time as we close out 2012 and look ahead to 2013! 











Tuesday, December 11, 2012

our cozy week


as life changes for me, i'm learning to appreciate the simple things.  the way hot steam come off my first cup of coffee.  the way my baby's little toes sound as they scoot around on the wood floors.  our pup's loud sigh as she settles into a mid-morning nap.  the beautiful, white and heavy snow hanging on tree branches.  i'm so thankful i'm able to slow down in this busy season to really see everything around me.    

it is a chilly and cozy week so far for us.  


we're learning how to climb and stand on literally anything and everything.  (i just love that cute little baby booty)


we've started lighting candles every morning while we get ready for our day.  our house is full of the scent of pine + evergreen + cinnamon.  


i'm not really one to go shopping all the time, but lately we've been taking little trips to the store to get out of the house.  i may have purposely forgotten milk the last time we went to the grocery store so we would have to take another trip back later in the week ... 


every afternoon, i find myself indulging in cup after cup of hot tea.  i haven't found a favorite yet, but this holiday blend is pretty good.  (especially when paired with an oatmeal cookie ... )

i hope you're all feeling loved and blessed this week!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

grace for the good girl: #thesamepage week 3




while reading grace for the good girl, one word keeps popping back into my mind -- fear.  fear of not being enough. fear of unknown. fear of failure.  chapters 6-8 really hit on a lot of different masks i have hid behind throughout life because of certain fears i have.

chapter 6 : the rule follower {fear of not being good enough + falling short}
growing up, i was taught that you follow all the rules.  for some reason, i never rebelled against this.  i had this innate fear of not being ___ enough (fill in the blank), so I tried to control my life and any outcomes or situations by abiding to "all the rules".  usually, these rules were ones that i made up in my head at the time.  a "good girl" always smiled and never had anything negative to say.  a "good girl" always was extra helpful to those in need.  a "good girl" should always look nice on the outside, even if she wasn't feeling so nice on the inside.  the author, emily, talks about rules being a "fickle friend and burdensome".  we all know it's hard to keep all the rules, all the time.  and, when we just feel like we don't measure up or we fall short, it's like a heavy weigh is put on our shoulders.  for some reason, along the path of becoming a christian, i decided to adapt my way of "rule following" to how i lived my new christian life.  this mask of discipline and rule following robbed me of being able to see and experience god's true character and understand my need for a savior.  i'm just starting to realize that i can never live up to the expectations and rules i put on myself, nor does god want me to.  i have been shown that this life is about becoming less and accepting shortcomings, failures, and messes.  it's about accepting that we are never enough, but our savior is and we desperately need him.  there is such great, great beauty in this realization!!

"the law was designed to expose our heart condition, to make us see our guilt.  it was never meant to make us righteous." (62)

chapter 7 : hiding behind strength and responsibility {fear of weakness}
oh boy, this is a big one for me.  who doesn't want to appear strong and put together?  who doesn't want to take care of everyone else?  this tends to turn into an unhealthy area of my life for me and i think it stems back to my childhood.  my older sister is autistic, so i felt this intense need to be extremely responsible and mature from a very young age.  i didn't want to cause any more trouble or worry for my parents and i needed to prevent any stress that could potentially happen.  so, i was the sweet, little girl that was quiet and read a lot of books by herself.  whenever i had a problem, i struggled because all i could think about is how i couldn't struggle or complain because i had it so much better compared to my sister.

man, this is a hard act to keep up.  i really didn't want to admit or appear weak.  after becoming a christian, i learned how this world is backwards in thinking about strength.  emily stated it well by saying, "... weakness is the door to strength and jesus calls us to a life of weakness so that he can be strong." (72)  at first, i wasn't able to give up my control and need to be strong and responsible because it gave me a sense of importance.  but, i've gradually realized i'm only serving myself through this perspective and when i allow my weakness to come through, i am able to be closer to jesus and show others more of him.

this walk with jesus and understanding our true sense of self in him is so intricately humbling and vulnerable.  i feel so incredibly blessed and speechless that i don't have to keep "all the rules" or be "all the things" because he is enough and he is the one that wants my attention and life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

our weekend :: the holidays are here!

i keep pinching myself ... really, did thanksgiving just happen?  is christmas less than a month away?

i just love this time of year.  i feel so giddy about everything.  i find myself making mental lists of different gifts i want to make for people, bakery treats i want to make, and family traditions i want to start with our tiny family this year.  i have multiple different plans for our decor and christmas tree ... not to mention the different ideas i have to celebrate advent throughout all of december.  the lists, christmas music and extra sugary treats sweep me up in a euphoria of tinsel and craziness.

thankfully, last night i had some quiet time in a still house.  i found myself thinking of past christmases as a little girl and all of the new traditions to come.  the to-do lists and expectations began to sort themselves out as i realized the importance of slowing down.  slowing down to actually soak up and enjoy this time of year.  slowing down to actually contemplate and understand advent.

---

this weekend we had some much needed family time.  on friday night, we went to our town's christmas celebration called "dickens of a christmas".  all of the shop windows are full of people in costumes acting out various classic christmas scenes, traveling musicians are caroling or playing instruments walking up and down the streets, and there are plenty of christmas cookies and hot cider.  it definitely feels like you are transported back in time.  i love it.


then, on saturday we went out with my husband's family to search for some christmas trees.  they have gone to the same place for 20 years to cut down their christmas trees.  it's fun to hike through the woods and try to spot the best tree.  my husband's favorite part, of course, is cutting it down and having to drag it to the car.  :)




our tree is currently up in our dining room, waiting to be decorated.  i'm looking forward to tackling it tonight!

i hope you're enjoying the beginning of this beautiful holiday season.  



Thursday, November 29, 2012

settling into motherhood





oh, boy.  oh, baby boy.

motherhood is quite a trip.  a beautiful, beautiful trip.

i thought i half-way knew what to expect with motherhood.  oh, was i wrong.  i didn't think it was possible, but never in my life have i had a deeper understanding about being tired, hungry and in love.  the exhaustion, oh the exhaustion.  i can't even explain it.  and the hunger!  never did i realize i would be able to put away an entire dinner and then be famished again only an hour later.  these are important things, ya'll!  but, nothing matters when you hear little squeals and those chubby baby hands reach up to hold your face as their warm body molds to your chest.

another thing i didn't really know what to expect about motherhood?  the infamous 'mommy guilt' and the overload on information about how to parent.  i often times find myself wanting to make all the right decisions and do all the right things.  {which is crazy because who even defines what's "right" or "wrong" ... }

i'm realizing that the moment i release whatever expectations, pressures + guilt i have into the hands of the only one that matters is the moment i am able to rest in his grace and see intricate beauty in the mess and vulnerability of being a mom.  the moment i let the pressure go of making the best decision is the moment i'm able to actually enjoy being a mom as well.  because, as hard as this is, it is such a privilege to be able to love on and teach a little being.

i can't do it all or be it all.  and the moment i try, is the moment i forget that a gracious god sacrificed it all for me.  {gulp, swallow down that pride of mine ... }

i'm so grateful for every day that i'm able to spend with this little tiny nugget of energy and life.  by trusting and letting go of control and fear, god is unveiling his plans for how he wants to use me to minister to this tiny boy.

i pray that the days i'm struggling to make things work and look pretty on the outside, i'm able to learn to continuously let go and allow god to shape and mold the story he has for me.  i want to show this little one how being okay with messy and vulnerable and real life is so healthy and beautiful.

this story of motherhood is such a tender + humbling experience.

Monday, November 19, 2012

black bean + spinach enchiladas :: good eats

my husband and i love to eat simple and healthy.  it hurts to admit it, but we are definitely foodies.  i'm always on the look out for recipes that don't take too much effort to throw together, but still use whole and healthy flavors and ingredients.  last night we made black bean + spinach enchiladas (in the slow cooker!!) and i knew it was a recipe i had to share with ya'll.

i found this recipe in an issue of real simple magazine that was gathering dust next to our couch.  i'm a lover of spinach and my husband will eat anything with black beans + salsa, so i knew it would be a winner.  also, let's just focus on the amazing-ness of the slow cooker.  i love, love, love being able to prepare meals ahead of time instead of rushing around during the evening hours.

image source


Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mash half the beans. Add the spinach, corn, cumin, 1 cup of the Cheddar, the remaining beans, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and mix to combine.
  2. Spread 1 jar of the salsa in the bottom of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Dividing evenly, roll up the bean mixture in the tortillas (about ½ cup each) and place the rolls seam-side down in a single layer in the slow cooker. Top with the remaining salsa and Cheddar.
  3. Cover and cook until heated through, on low for 2½ to 3 hours.
  4. Before serving, toss the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, and cucumber in a large bowl with the lime juice, oil, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the enchiladas and sprinkle with the scallions.

we added some additional cheese (we're from wisconsin, of course) and some greek yogurt on the top.  so good.  let me know if you try it out and what you think!  cheers! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

grace for the good girl :: #thesamepage, week one

today i'm linking up with blair and rachael for #thesamepage.  
we're currently reading emily p. freeman's book, Grace for the Good Girl.  feel free to join in!  
---

"my idea of who i should be is at war with who i am. i want to be perfect in every situation. i just do" (17)

"not only do i want to do everything perfectly, i want to look perfect while i do it. ... all the time." (17)

"my solution to the disconnect between my perfect, imaginary self and my real-life self is to force life to look the way i want. ... and so i work and i labor and i do the right thing.  i stay strong when i feel weak and i fake happy when i want to cry because my ideal image has everything to do with put together and nothing to do with falling apart." (17)

"i desperately want to manage your opinion of me.  nearly everything i do is to convince you i am good. ... i must have worth, and it is up to you to give it to me." (17-18)

"fear of rejection drives me hard, eating away at my courage.  and so i am cautious in my love. ... i long to be seen, but i feel safe when i'm invisible." (18)

"i want to let go, rest, and believe, so that god can hold, refresh, and redeem.  but what if i do and he doesn't?" (19)

"my fear becomes my truth." (19)
---

oh, my goodness.  i could just keep listing quotes upon quotes, but my list would quickly become exhausting and so overwhelming.  while reading this book, i'm continually underlining, circling, and writing (!!!!) next to lines.  this book is wrecking me in such a major way.  

i always knew i was a "good girl".  i grew up in a loving home with parents that cared about me, but we had some unique struggles (like every family ... more on that later).  on the outside looking in, it seemed like i lived a "storybook" life growing up.  i was voted into student council more times than i can count.  i was always the girl that gave the speeches at assemblies or graduations.  i was on sport teams and i got good grades.  i graduated in the top few of my class.  i was president of key club and president of our senior class.  i even spent time outside of class and sucked up to our vice principal by filing papers for her.  i was on homecoming court and was voted prom queen.  

listing all of that makes me so uncomfortable and feel ashamed.  i thought all of these things were so important.  and i definitely acted like they were important!  i was the nice + quiet girl, but i definitely thought i was better than everyone else because of my long, running list of "good things" and accomplishments.  i could befriend anyone (and was friends with everyone), but i neglected to build many lasting friendships.  i felt alone.  all of these things and hard trying catapulted me into a full-blown eating disorder throughout all of high school + college.  if i couldn't "wow" people with my achievements, i sure would do it with good looks!  when that didn't work, i continued to work hard throughout college by acquiring internships every semester in lofty businesses in large cities.

i graduated college scared and worried.  worried that i didn't "live it up" enough during my 4 years there because i was so busy chasing and achieving and proving.  this fear drove me to volunteer to open a coffee house.  (because, of course, to make myself feel better and i had to achieve more. then, people would like me and i would feel better about myself. ugh.)  our church was wanting to open a coffee house in our downtown, and they needed someone to step up and take charge with all the planning, implementing, and actual running of the business.  after careful prayer, i really thought i was the best person for the job.  i could do it.  

(cue freak out.  what?!  open and run a business at the age of 22?  i had no idea what i was agreeing to.  i was out of my mind, but thank goodness god graciously had his hands in this mess.)

today, i still wrestle with where i find my worth and identity, but it is evident how god is working through my story.  he continually pulls me closer and closer to him and his view of me + my life.  i struggle with regret for how i lived my life in my past, but the freedom i feel when walking right along with god breaks me down and reminds me how empty that way of living is.  it's a daily battle.  

i'm only through the first two chapters of this book and i can't believe the feelings and realizations it is unearthing in me.  i can't imagine what the next few chapters will bring.    


Monday, November 5, 2012

loving the fall season

i have to admit, i am a true summer girl.  i love bare feet, the hot sun, iced coffee, fresh produce, and living + eating outside.  when fall rolls around, it's hard for me to let go of my summer ways.  it always seems like summer flies by way to quickly.  but, this fall seasons is different for me.  i'm finding myself falling in love with crisp mornings, wrapping up in scarves {i may have a mild obsession...} + tights,  coffee dates with strong + foamy lattes, autumn scented candles, and roasted squash + apples.  watching the change of seasons is beautiful and i want to soak up the beauty of it all.  

well, what's fall without pumpkin carving?  right?!  we decided to have a little fun this year with our pumpkin ...   



oh. baby boy.  if you only knew. 

well, hello there.  snuggle bug. 

phew!  he likes it.  

yep, you're in a pumpkin.  the weird things parents do, i know. 


have fun celebrating these fall days with family and friends.  
sending you some cinnamon-scented + leaves crunching + warm loving.    





Friday, November 2, 2012

living life in the fast lane

image source



life continues to move.  if you don't hang on tight with your eyes peeled wide open, you'll wake up one morning confused and with your mind swirling thinking about how you ended up where you are.

life moves so fast.  so fast that's it's some times hard to slow down.  it's easier just to ride along and keep the pace up.  one foot in front of another.  moving from one place and thought to the next without hesitation.

i truly believe there are seasons in life.  ((cliche, but true.))  seasons for fast paced living--seasons for getting projects done, deadlines met, and meeting people.  but, hopefully, there are also seasons for moving slow.  appreciating the way the sunlight filters through the kitchen windows.  the sound of your babe giggling and babbling in the next room over.  the way a warm cup of coffee feels in your hands.  the way your lover feels laying next to you in bed.  the smell of dill that reminds your of your grandma's gardening hands.

some times living life in the fast lane is needed.  there's a project happening with a big end goal right around the corner.  there's a big life change that you're gearing up for.  or, it's just a busy season.  i like living fast.  running from one thing to the next.  it makes me feel energized and important (oh goodness, if only we could stop using "busy" as a badge of honor).  but, as i get older, i'm realizing that living life like this without allowing slow times isn't all that meaningful (or healthy for that matter).  i want my family and friends to remember me as the person that would actually stop to listen when they spoke.  i want to remember as best as i can how my babe felt in my arms as an itty bitty baby with his head nestled up against my chest.  i want to take the time to create a home full of life and love and community--not being concerned about perfected walls and furniture neatly placed.        

i hope with all my might that i'm able to return back to living simply and slowly after a fast season.  i am blessed.  it's so nice to be able to slow down and remember this before it's too late and my life it too far ahead of me and i'm unable to catch up.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

fear of approval + owning your story

owning your story.  what does that even mean?

today i sat down with the intent to write about 'my story'.  i wanted to write about who i thought i was and the experiences i've been through that i think make up who i am and what i stand for.  basically things that have happened in my life that make me, me.  i definitely believe that we are all living out different stories for a purpose and a reason.  ((read a million miles in a thousand years by donald miller if you want to dive deeper into the 'living out a story' thought. great, great book.))

so, i sit here and stare at the computer screen.  i'm unable to adequately put into words what my story actually is.  i'm unable to articulate the purpose and passion i'm trying to live out.  the purpose that god has uniquely designed me for.

and it hit me.

until recently, i have let other people determine my story.  i possessed a deep and heavy fear of approval.  it was so strong that i didn't let my true self out from under the different masks i wore.  i adopted stories from people that i admired and i let other people determine what my story was based on their assumptions of me.

you know what i realized?  it's so easy to live in fear.  it's so easy to just please others and do what you think is expected of you.  it's easier and less challenging to live out someone else's story.  to act like them.  make decisions like them.  we think that if we do this, we guard ourselves from hurt.

the truth is, by wearing a mask and living our lives as someone else (or a bunch of different people), we are essentially telling ourselves that we aren't worth it.  our story isn't meaningful or "special" enough to be known.  in the end, we do more hurt to ourselves by going down this fearful road.  the sad this is, the longer you let fear and other people define you, the farther away you get from your true purpose.  it gets harder to unearth who you really are.  god designed me in such a beautiful and specific way.  when i trust in him and believe in that truth, i am blessed beyond belief.  why would i want to shy away from that?

and, i guess, this exploration of all the years i was too afraid to live out my own story makes me unique and forms my story more than i'm giving myself credit.  i guess it's a "preface" to the rest of the story of sorts.

so, all of this to say that i'm striving to take the mask off.  with god's help + strength, i'm taking a time-out and not playing the game of fear any more.  if this means being uncomfortable, so be it.  i would much rather live in discomfort, rest in god's grace and strength, and feel confident in the woman i am than live in comfort while hiding who i am.

phew.  that felt great to get out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

offering grace

Ok.  I'm about to get real.

I'm so judgmental.

There. I said it. ((deep breath))

I'm so quick to judge others.  I easily can criticize myself.  For some reason, "real life" just isn't good enough.  That woman at the coffee shop with her screaming baby? -- she totally should leave the room instead of sitting there and letting it echo (been there, done that).  That man sitting next to his wife, but barely putting his phone down long enough to even give her a loving glance across the table? -- he is so selfish.  Don't even get me started on myself.  I should dress a little cuter, make healthier dinners (perhaps granola with a side of cheese and crackers the 3rd day in a row isn't that great?!), I should pursue my husband more, and be present with R when he's wanting to play.

Grace.

What a beautiful word, right?  I thought I understood this word for years.  But, surprise!, I really didn't.  Our family is in a crazy (but good!) season right now, and these messy & ugly little realizations are bubbling up.  God has a funny way of making that happen.  We go through different situations in life (good and bad), and some times deep, dark things about ourselves are unearthed.  I'm so thankful for this.  Thankful that I'm provided with a chance (or 2... 3... 6 chances) to be able to learn more about myself through God's character.

I think my focus on "perfectionism" is what influences my judgy outlook. Vulnerability is scary.  And, in order to be vulnerable, you need to accept the messiness of life. You need to accept the brokenness of yourself and everyone around you. We can't be perfect. We have fallen. Time and time again.

Grace.

God's whole plan. God's grace is beautiful. Life takes on a different light once we accept his grace and live/act out of his grace. I don't think I really ever took the time to stop and receive God's grace until recently. I thought abut it a lot, but i never accepted it. Maybe because deep down I thought I was "good enough"?  I ignored the mess and desperate need for him.

So, today (and every day to come) I'm going to try to accept vulnerability and God's grace. Accept the beautiful, beautiful mess that we are as humans and the crazy lives we live.  I want people to see Christ when they interact with me -- not a "perfect" or put together Meg.

I'm going to pray that the second my eyes open in the morning, God moves through me during the day and I shut off the thoughts in my mind telling me that I need to be better and try harder.  Those "p words" will be the end of me (perfectionism and pride...).  I know I will fall and fail time and time again -- but that's the reality of it all.  Accepting grace is a totally different thing than just understanding grace (which is still quite important).  

Grace. Grace. Grace.  Rest in grace.

Rest.