Thursday, October 17, 2013

promises


Praise The Lord, O my soul; 
all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 
Praise The Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits---
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 
(psalm 103:1-5)

I'm clinging to these verses lately. Life is so beautiful and so raw at the same time, and sometimes all you can do is remind yourself of these promises on repeat until they become so interwoven into your mind, perspective, and actions. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

influence conference linkup!




Today I am linking up with many, many lovely ladies that are going to the Influence Conference later this month!  I am beyond excited for the conference this year.  If you are interested even a tiny bit, I strongly urge you to just check out the conference website to see what it's all about.  I went last year on a brave whim and it was the best decision.  I am amazed at the community of women that I have gotten to learn from, have fun with, and just "do life" with through the Influence Conference and network.

We were asked to answer to questions.  So, without further ado, here are my "2 things" ...

2 things I will have packed in my bag:
1) dry shampoo
2) notebook and pen (I'm a note taker, list maker, and everything in between.)

2 things I'm looking forward to about the conference: 
1) Meeting friends (new and old) and having community together over the weekend.  Whether it be over coffee, dinner, late at night in our rooms ... I'm really looking forward to sharing stories.
2) The life sessions.  It's been a busy season for our family, and I can't wait to sit quietly and just soak up some wisdom + learning time.

I really can't wait to see everyone in only a few short weeks!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

going through God's story

We are currently going through the entire Bible as a church.  Every Sunday we have focused on a different section of the Bible.  The sermon this morning focused a lot on Paul and his final days.  I didn't expect it, but going through God's entire story chronologically has really refreshed my perspective and given me a different thirst for God that I haven't really experienced before.

Anyways, I feel like I've heard Paul's story so often.  It's the one story I remember most from Sunday School.  I didn't expect to really learn anything new from it this morning.  But, something just didn't sit quite right with me half way through.  Towards the end of Paul's life, he makes the comment that he's "fought the good fight".  He was already "poured out as an offering.... he gave it his all".  

All I could think about from that point on is how desperately I want to be able to say the same thing when that time comes for me.  What kind of a legacy am I leaving?  How am I using my influence and purpose right now to further His goodness? 

I guess it was a reminder for me to stop selling myself short.  To stop making things so complicated.  To know my story and know my purpose.  To believe that God takes ordinary people and gives them a purpose.

It's up to me to know who I was before and after God.  It's up to me to know the God-given purpose I have and to pursue God so much with that in mind that I develop such a passion for living it out.  

Some times I want things to be so easy, but I make them so complicated at the same time.  

Long story short, learning about God's story is giving me a passion for my own story.      



Friday, August 16, 2013

initial thoughts about honduras : part 1




My husband and I traveled to Honduras with Mission Lazarus and just returned home a few days ago.  We had an intense experience while we were there.  I've been waiting for the perfect words to come to me, but I don't think our experience can be pinned down and kept behind words that won't justify the emotions and thoughts I'm having.  It feels like an injustice.  I was hoping to document our days while we were there, but our wireless connection was limited up in the mountains.  It was a gift to have to put pen to paper and write the old fashioned way.  Some of my initial thoughts will have to suffice for now, but I'm not done sharing.  

God is working and moving in Honduras.  The integrity and dignity that the Hondurans have was enough of a lesson for me throughout the week.  Their gentleness and patience as I stumbled and stuttered through the little Spanish I knew brought an instant vulnerability to our quick relationships ... a vulnerability that is hard to come by in America. 

While we were there, we worked with local masons to build a brick house.  Apparently wood houses will only last about a year in Honduras because of the termite situation, and the mission that we were working with wanted to provide something that could last for generations and could be passed down from family member to family member.  When we weren't building, we went to a local school and loved on about 100 kids and taught them about Jesus' love.  During one of our sessions with the students, we asked "why is it important to have a relationship with Jesus?" and a 6 or 7 year old confidently said, "because He saves us".  There is such an innocence and joy that these children possess while living in such dire situations by our standards.  

We visited a trade school were local Hondurans were risking their reputation (and basically their livelihood and live) by teaching youth absolutely beautiful leather and wood working.  These students walked 2 - 3 hours one way to get to school every day.  The effort and determination that they possess is convicting.   

We also spent much of our week discussing Honduran politics and the state of their country.  We had many discussions about how to keep the dignity of the Honduran people while being an American.  It was quite evident that there is great, great work happening in Honduras, but that we as Americans weren't *needed* as we desperately think we are.  God is moving there with or without us.  I became more and more sensitive to the pride factor that some times gets wrapped up in mission work over seas.  

To put it simply, our trip to Honduras was the start of a bit of an unraveling in our hearts and was more of a trip for us than for the people we interacted with there (which seems so crazy and counterintuitive). Being involved in ministry with my husband is such a blessing, but also such hard work.  Working together on this trip opened our eyes to how we want to *do* ministry and what that looks like.

I'm still wrestling with a lot of experiences and memories and crazy thoughts that I hope to share as they rattle themselves out of my heart, through my brain and onto the screen.  I'm looking forward to opening up a discussion about mission work and sharing more about my thoughts and experiences.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

honduras

mission lazarus

I'm leaving for Honduras in a few days.  I haven't been sleeping much and my thoughts are jumbled and fuzzy instead of focused and crisp.  I'm emotional and sentimental and busy (and low on sleep!) ... all things that make things a little wacky when combined.

All I can think about is how much I am going to learn and feel through this trip.  This trip that is supposed to be a trip full of helping and serving others.  Who am I to go?  Who am I to teach and love and serve with these people across the globe?  People that have far, far less than me are going to show me love.  Show me devotion.  Show me service.  Show me community.

To tell you the truth, I'm scared to let myself feel all of these emotions.

Right now I'm a jumbled mess trying to make sense of life and all the thoughts.  But, maybe it's not all about "making sense" of the mess.  Of life.  Of the differences and our shortcomings.  I don't think it's supposed to be all black and white or easy to figure out.

There's a reason life wrecks us some times.

It's all about holding on to that reason and being changed because of it.

Prayers appreciated over the next few weeks.  I'll keep you all updated on our experiences and travels!

Monday, July 29, 2013

summer with a boy







To tell you the truth, I was so nervous to find out that we were having a boy while I was pregnant.  A lot of my friends that were Moms had daughters, I had an older sister, and the majority of my cousins (who are like siblings to me!) are girls as well.  The unknown was daunting and I had no clue how I was going to connect to this little guy that was growing inside of me.  

Now, with a year and a couple months under my belt as a Mom, I couldn't see my life any other way.  I would be lying if I didn't admit that there are days I wish Ramsey was just a little bit less active and daring, but when I'm honest with myself I realize how much of a gift having an active and adventurous boy has been. 

The summer is going by way too fast (as it always does), but my guy and I have really enjoyed every last bit.  I have really gotten to know him on a different level over the past few months and we have connected like never before.  We have spent more hours outside rather than inside and have explored almost every inch of our backyard and the trails by our house.  It's so much fun to watch him be so purely excited and full of joy.  There is always a hill to climb, some dirt to get into, and some bird searching to be done.    

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

devil's lake trail run

One of my prayers this summer was to say yes to things that make me nervous. I started the summer knowing that I want to stretch my "fearless muscle" and learn how to be more bold with living my life.

One of the first things on my to do list was to run a trail half marathon. I've ran quite a few races before, but never on a trail (and especially such a technical and steep trail that we would be running at this particular race). I was so excited leading up to the race. I trained on the mountain bike trails that you can see from our back yard (and even got lost a few times...). I still can't believe how amazing it feels to run on a trail. After running on road for years, I never want to do another road race! Being in the woods, dodging roots and rocks, trudging up inclines and flying down hills .... it's gorgeous and so freeing.

The race ended up going quite well. The first 5 or 6 of the miles were a pretty steep incline (I seriously thought to myself "what was I thinking?!!?"), but the view once you got to the top of the cliff and the rush of accomplishment when you came out of the woods and across the finish line was so worth it.  I ended up finishing near the top of my age group and pretty well overall.  I am officially hooked!

We have another endurance trail race on our list for in September. Are there any other trail runners out there?




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

courageous + bold

I just finished reading "Forgotten God" by Francis Chan and I just can't shake a few thoughts out of my head.  I love it when I finish a book and the inspiration that it evokes lingers for a few days.  "Forgotten God" makes the argument that Christians often down-play and ignore the impact that the Holy Spirit has on our every day lives.  Chan says that we're not here on earth to merely survive, but our fearful and self centered attitudes distract us from living out God's grand and ultimate plan.  I don't know about you, but I tend to be an overly cautious person.  I like control and order in my life.  Figuring out different systems for how to complete a task easier excites me.  I eat the same few things for breakfast and lunch almost every single day.  Clutter makes me feel like I can't breathe.  I like predicability and feeling safe.  

Reading this book really made me stop and think about how I love my safe and predicable life.  I realized I like to depend upon my how understanding way too often than I would like to admit.

But, man, do I ever desire to be courageous and bold.  

"God wants the praise for what we do in our lives. But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them? If we never follow Him to positions where we need Him, how can He show up and make His presence known?"

I desire such a needy and dependent relationship with God.  I want to walk with Him morning, noon, and night.  I don't want to get through a day without asking for guidance and listening to nudges. I don't want to just think and plan... I want to courageously act. 

My prayer is that I seek God way more than I seek my own answers and solutions.  That I choose to let Him weave my story into His grand plan instead of clenching the pen in my hand and not letting go of my own plans. I pray that His dreams become my dreams. I pray for His strength to seek, act, and follow. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

five minute friday : "listen"

today i'm linking up with lisa-jo baker and her marvelous idea of "five minute friday". every friday she gives a one word prompt. you write unscripted for five minutes flat. this friday's prompt was "listen". here goes!

--

i sit down next to my friend. warm mug of coffee in hand. we quickly get the normal questions out of the way--kids, husband, job, weather. we sink down a little deeper into our seats and hold our mugs a little closer. i prop my feet up on the edge of the chair. my heart feels like it is going to burst with all the thoughts and emotions i want to share, but i utter no words. i have an urge to fill the silence with random words strung together, but then i realize that silence is golden. and if silence is golden, listening is even better. my friend begins to unfold and share. and i listen.

i leave the coffee house that night with a different and outward perspective.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

the simple things

it's spring and starting to feel like summer!  hallelujah.  there is something that just comes alive in me when the temperature warms up, the sun shines, and the leaves begin to green.  i am an outside girl through and through.

i started thinking earlier this week about how fast summer seems to slip by.  it's almost like we rejoice when the temperature starts to warm up and then all of a sudden we trade our bare feet and iced coffee for scarves and spiced lattes.  just thinking about it gets me a little overwhelmed because i want to make sure i squeeze out every little goodness summer has to offer.

so, i decided that i'm going to focus on two little phrases during these summer months to ease the anxiety of it slipping by too quickly and to help keep me intentional about what really matters.

ready for it? (drumroll....)

keep it simple. 
and
be fearless. 

i love the simple things.  great coffee in the morning, getting dirty in the garden, a family walk to the park, fresh sheets on our bed.  some times i don't take the time to relax and realize the amazing goodness that god has already blessed me with.  i really want to stop and savor god's blessings as much as possible this summer.

and, this being fearless thing has me so excited.  being vulnerable and fearless has been on my mind for quite a few months.  i love adventure and community, but i don't always take the time to actually seek it out and foster it.  i tend to just daydream about my crazy ideas without actually taking a step forward with anything.  so, i'm choosing to be a little more fearless this summer.  when my brain says "no" or is hesitant about something fun ... i'm going to give it a whirl instead!

it will be fun to document a few of my thoughts on here throughout the summer months.  is there anything that you're focusing on this summer?


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

admitting my weakness.

image source
it's been quiet on here for a little while.  mostly because of life changes. transitions of sorts.

nothing crazy big, but just a lot of little things.  i didn't really think much of it.  we have fallen into a healthy routine and way of living as a family, so i thought the little things would be managed well along the way.

but, what i realized this past weekend is that a lot of little things add up to be a big thing. and big things make me want to stay in bed longer.  they make me thirsty for quiet when it feels like the entire day is filled with noise.  these big things sneak up behind me all incognito and knock me down when i least expect it.

and, for some reason, it was hard for me to get up this time.  i feel like i have been fighting tooth and nail to just rise above the tension.  the anxiety.  the long, tired days.

this morning, after a few random tears and a breakfast mishap, i walked upstairs to just catch my breath and collect my thoughts.  to sort of re-calibrate my perspective.  all i could keep thinking about was, "what is wrong with me?  i've got this.  i can handle this.  why is everything (and everyone!) being so difficult?!".  (oh goodness, my pride.)

and then it dawned on me.

i am striving to fight alone.  and all this struggling is causing me to feel all sorts of shame and guilt, which are all too heavy for one person to carry.

i like to be strong.  i like to pride myself on being an independent and healthy woman.

but none of these things matter when i don't have god.


i've been a this place.  many times.  the place of thinking that i have it all together.  i have all the answers.  the fixes.  the solutions.

i look and act the part of the buttoned up, perfect woman.  but, in all reality, i am a mess.  i am anything but neat and tidy and i kind of like it that way.


what i'm learning is that to be christian doesn't mean that you have it all together.  it doesn't mean that you're always happy with kids that are cute and ready to please.  it doesn't mean that you have the perfect house (and you're the perfect host!) for community group.  it doesn't mean you know all the answers to the crazy questions life forces you to ask.

it means that you're weak.  and you're willing to be weak.

to be a christian means to own up to all this messy craziness and admit our need for a savior.

amen. thank goodness.






Wednesday, April 10, 2013

we went a swingin'

video
over the weekend, we decided to ignore the lingering snow piles and celebrate spring by taking a trip to the park.  ramsey tried out the swings for the first time and his reaction was priceless!  i wanted to just freeze time and soak up that entire moment.  i can't get enough of his chubby, little legs pumping and swinging and his contagious giggles.  enjoy the little video i captured with our phone.

here's to bare feet, future picnics + park dates, and hoping spring comes soon!

Monday, April 8, 2013

rainy run


I was able to sneak out for a long, slow run over the weekend.  It was exactly the thing that my muscles and mind needed.  I turned left at the end of our driveway and chose the open, rural roads instead of the city sidewalks to the right.  It wasn't raining when I left, but small drops started falling about halfway through.  I have such an (over!)active mind, so I usually try to use my runs as a time to clear my mind, be quiet, and just focus.  All that I could hear throughout the entire time was "I make all things new".  Over and over and over.  

I'm just so amazed that no matter how far I fall.  How messy I get.  No matter what crisis I think I'm in. God continues to make all things new.  Every day.  Every season.  

I know this is something that is often mentioned, but I think we go throughout life forgetting that we have a choice between the new and the old.  Some times it's hard to remember that we have a choice.  Some times it is just easier to stay bitter or lazy or disinterested for awhile.  We have to remind ourselves that this life is not all about us.  Our God is trustworthy and faithful.  There is so much beauty in how God always makes things new.  How every season starts, ends, and is made beautiful.  

I just couldn't keep these thoughts to myself.  Have a great start to your week.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

to write


lately i have started a bad habit of writing, deleting, then re-writing.  there are an abundance of posts in my drafts folder.  now, i know it's good to proofread and make grammatically correct phrases and sentences (oops...).  and there definitely is a time to be particular and intentional about what ever you're trying to accomplish and write.  i love both types of writing.  but, for some reason, i let my perfectionism and insecurities get in the way and i start to forget why i even write in the first place.

i write to sort things out. to process.
i write to share my story. to force myself to be vulnerable. 
i write because i feel most like myself with a pen in my hand, journal opened up, and coffee steaming next to me. 
i write so i can think.   

i don't write to have perfect endings and pretty sentences. 
i don't write to pretend that my life is perfect.  
i don't write to construct a made-up mask or wall that i hide my weird quirks and insecurities behind.  
i don't write because i should or because i have to. 

i write because i choose to.  i write because i would go absolutely nuts if i didn't. 

and, the cool thing is, when i allow myself to write about the crazy nonsense that my mind thinks up, other people don't feel so weird or crazy or different.  other people are inspired and encouraged.

all because i choose to write.  





Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's your day, Ramsey-boy.




Ramsey,

Today is your birthday. Your first birthday. A whole year has gone by ever since the moment you came into this world and were placed on my chest. As your momma, I continue to grow more and more entranced with you and your budding personality as every day passes. It's hard for me to even comprehend the complexity of growing you, nourishing you, loving you, and teaching you as you grow before my eyes.

We are starting to really form a relationship and bond. It's almost like we share secrets that no one else knows about. This connection we have continues to surprise me and is so precious to me. I promise you I will try my best to not take that for granted.

I'm finding that I try to prepare my heart and mind for all these milestones with you. But, I'm realizing that I just need to stand in the in-between and feel all the messy and the beautiful at the same time in order to experience it all.

You have changed me over this past year, little boy. I am blessed to be your momma and to have the amazing, challenging, and beautiful responsibility to raise you and love on you.

You are deeply loved,
your mama

Thursday, March 21, 2013

a day in the life


I met some amazing women through the Influence Network and started chatting with them monthly.  I am so, so blessed by this online community!  During our last chat, Cammie brought up how it would be fun to share what a typical day looks like in each other's lives.  We decided as a group to do "a day in the life" link up together.  We would love to get to know you better and have you join in!

After planning this post, I realized that there is no "typical" with our family.  Every day and night is so drastically different.  Not only is Ramsey rapidly changing his schedule as he gets older (no more frequent nursing and two-three naps a day...), but Sam and I are involved in ministry, so we have many different nights during the week that are spent with youth group or for a meeting.  We also have a weekly family dinner out at his parents house every Monday night.  Thursday nights are the only night that we guard like crazy and schedule absolutely nothing (if you have a crazy schedule, I highly suggest you do this).  Thursday nights have become our date night at home and mornings + meal times are coveted family time together.  This leaves our nights open for flexibility with our crazy schedule.

So, here's my attempt to write out what a day in my life looks like.  Enjoy the one picture I did remember to snap.  I think it accurately portrays the majority of my day.

---

5:00
coffee starts brewing downstairs (thank goodness for the automatic brew setting!) and our alarm goes off.  it hurts to open my eyes.
5:15
our alarm goes off again.  my husband, sam, gets out of bed and sweetly turns on all the lights, so I follow.  i try not to make our wooden stairs creek too much so our babe stays sleeping.
5:15-6:00
i sit in my favorite chair in our living room and leave all the lights off because it's WAY too early. i decide to light a candle instead.  i use this time to soak up the little quiet (energetic boy, extroverted husband, and playful pup = a LOT of noise all day long) i'll have in the day and pray.  lately i have been writing out my prayers in my journal.  i definitely process through writing.
6:00
sam usually will come into the living room and we'll talk for a little bit before our babe wakes up.  i treasure this one on one time with him.
6:30 
we hear babbling and pounding from upstairs.  ramsey is awake and probably jumping in his crib.
6:35 
i sneak into ramsey's room and try to surprise him in his crib.  i love seeing him in the morning with energy and curiosity already oozing from him.
6:45
i feed ramsey and then sam will take over and have some morning fun with him while i pump.
7:15-8:00
family breakfast time!  banana, raspberries and yogurt for ramsey.  usually kitchen sink oatmeal for me (rolled oats with as much fruit+nuts i can fit into it) and whatever sam is craving (eggs!).  there is a lot of excited yelling and talking going on during breakfast.  as well as nudges and noises from our pup, stella.  ramsey tries to feed stella some of his breakfast.
8:00-8:30
i quickly do the breakfast dishes and throw in a load of laundry while sam and ramsey have some bonding time. i run upstairs to assess whether or not i can make it another day without showering.  i then do a quick makeup routine (under eye concealer!) and throw on my usual skinny jeans and grey tshirt (i might throw in a scarf or a funky cardigan on days i'm needing a little creativity) with boots.
8:30
sam gets ready to leave the house and go to work (which is about 3 minutes away from our house... thank goodness!)
9:00-11:00
ramsey and i play like crazy.  i usually try to read with him, but he just wants to move and wiggle.  we play music and dance, play with stella, build (and destroy) block towers, make animal noises, and anything else that looks interesting.  ramsey is pretty good with playing by himself, so i usually try to spend a quick 5 minutes assessing my email for later.  i'll also switch the laundry over and make a list of to do's for later. after about an hour of playing, we try to get out of the house.  we'll go grocery shopping, check out the library or storytime, visit a friend's house, or stop by the local coffee house.  once it's warmer outside (soon?!) we'll go for a walk and play outside.
11:00 
lunch time for ramsey.  usually left overs or some kind of a deconstructed sandwich (bread, cheese, protein) with fruit and hopefully veggies.  he could eat cheese and berries all day if he had a choice. (i seriously have to hide the cheese from him.)
12:00-2:00ish 
ramsey naps (hopefully for 2-3hours). at 12:30, sam comes home for a quick lunch.  we eat together, talk about our mornings, and what our night looks like.  right after sam leaves, i'll run around like a crazy woman getting as many of the "to dos" checked off my list as i can.  then, i'll sit down to write, catch up on emails, and read.
2:30-6:00
these 3ish hours are usually packed. ramsey wakes up and has a snack. i try to make sure i have all the ingredients for dinner and a plan for how it is all going to come together while ramsey plays in the kitchen cupboards.  i make sure he stays out of the garbage.  we make up some fun game on the kitchen floor until sam gets home.  once sam is home, i talk to him about his day for a few minutes.  then i make sure i have dinner timed out perfectly for 6:00 and head out for a quick run while sam+ramsey play.  once i get home from my run, i'm a blur in the kitchen. (why is it so hard to make sure everything is warm at the same time?!)  i love putting together creative, fresh and healthy meals for us.  i really don't like using anything pre-packaged and i've found it's super easy to put together meals if i plan ahead.
6:00-6:45
we all sit down at the dinner table and let out a sigh of relief.  we made it!  a typical dinner for us is chicken or pork carnitas with corn+beans, omelets, or tilapia/salmon with tons of dill + lemon, couscous, and roasted veggies.  we typically have a rendition of these three meals and leftovers (so easy) every week.  we have just started eating together as a family of 3 (sam and i used to eat after ramsey went to bed).  it's hectic, but we absolutely love it.
6:45-7:30/45
bed time routine.  sam and i love to be a team and get ramsey ready for bed together.  we usually will read with him and try to cuddle (which usually turns into a tickle fight) until it's his bedtime.  sam then sings a little song and we lay ramsey down in his crib.
7:30-9ish
we stare at each other and give each other high fives for getting through another day. sam is finishing up seminary right now, so there are nights that he'll start to work on reading+paper writing for an hour or two while i get some other projects done.  other nights we have meetings to go to at church or we will get together with family/friends. on thursdays, we will try to have some wine together, sit on the coach facing each other and have some quality time before we dive into whatever tv series we're watching on netflix (currently we're watching "the west wing".)  thursdays are my favorite nights.
9:00/10:00 
i get ready for bed and pump again.  i have the hardest time falling asleep, so i'll usually beg sam to turn on npr or the latest jon stewart episode.  i'm learning to just let my mind relax in the quiet though (and sam's thankful for that!)



Here's the one picture I remembered to snap during the day.  I think it does a great job representing the majority of my day. I loved writing this while trying to remember everything.  I might have to do a post like this more often!

Feel free to join the party and link up with us below!



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

quiet mornings



I have been trying to get up in the wee hours of the morning these past two months for a little bit of quiet time and reflection. There are mornings that I definitely struggle to get out of bed (I'm so thankful for a husband that lures me out with coffee) and day light savings threw me off for a few days (how long can I use that excuse?!), but I feel like I've adapted pretty well to the new schedule.  I still have to convince myself to go to sleep at a decent hour, but that's another story.  It's starting to feel so indulgent to sneak down our creaky stairs with our shaggy pup and pour myself a steamy cup.

There is something so pure about the start of a new day.  I'm so thankful that every day is new.  I know that is such a common concept, but I can't get it out of my mind lately.  Have you ever really meditated on the fact that we can choose to be renewed in God every morning?  God's right there--even if we're weary, even if we feel like we're falling, even if we're confused or just plain tired.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23 


My time in the morning has started to soften my heart around the edges a little bit and my safety walls are starting to crumble bit by bit.  There are many days that I need to recommit myself mid morning to choosing patience, joy, and love instead of bitterness, anger, and laziness.  And then there are those days that I need to refocus every hour.  And that's okay.

Every morning, God is ready to pour out love and grace all over me.  I might feel depleted and ready to throw in the towel by the time it's 8:00, but he never tires of me.

The thought of it all just leaves me speechless.     

Monday, March 18, 2013

not so tiny anymore

Ramsey and I (about 6 months ago)

My little boy turns one this month. I know babies grow up and many mothers have been through the "oh my goodness, they're one!" stage, but I'm still in disbelief.

It's almost like the day Ramsey unexpectedly made his appearance was yesterday, but it also feels like ages ago. After looking at pictures of myself that day, I feel like I don't really know who that woman is holding a tiny newborn staring back at me with tired eyes that haven't even experienced true exhaustion yet.

My son came at such a transformative time in my life -- I just didn't know it. Yes, I know, children change everything. They make you think deeper and re-evaluate who you are and how you act. You have a little human watching you now. You realize the influence and responsibility you have.

But, there was more that changed inside of me. It was more than needing to deal with selfish desires and struggling with having to be responsible for another little human being 24/7.

You see, I wasn't ready to change my priorities. I wasn't ready to balance life or create boundaries.

I wanted to fight the changes and convince myself that life could go on just as it was before.  I could do everything and be everything -- I would just be able to do it all with an adorable little baby now.

I wanted to throw pity parties.  I wanted to wallow in having to let go of "my things", "my time", my views of how life should be lived.  And I did.

Over the past year, God have loosened my fingers and grasp one by one on everything I held tightly.  Let me tell you, it hurts.  At times I want to fight back, battling to taste the sickly sweet feeling of control once again. But, it always results in me laying it all down (or, more like falling) again, desperate for Him.  He continues to graciously soften my prideful heart and shifted my perspective.

This past year has shook me and rocked me and blessed me over and over.

I'm not the same woman.

I don't have the same views or even the same goals.

And I am so ridiculously thankful for that.

Later this month, I won't only be celebrating my little boy turing one.  I will also be celebrating and worshipping this precious, gracious and patient God that continues to bless and mold me beyond comprehension with lessons, trials, and sweet rewards.

I wasn't ready to learn lessons from my baby boy and it was a struggle to accept the change that motherhood would bring into my life a year ago, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

storytelling.

do you ever feel like there are times when you have thoughts and ideas bouncing around like crazy in your head?  almost like there is inspiration every where you look?  this happens for me quite a bit (usually after my second cup of coffee).  i'm always finding myself pondering about community, self reflection, the latest inspiring photos in the kinfolk magazine, and other inspiring topics. 
instead of letting the thoughts take stock up in my mind, i decided to start recording them.  
maybe they'll spark something inside of you. maybe not. 
so, you could consider this a new series titled "inspiration fueled by coffee" 
("or, meg is a crazy person that needs to shut off her brain once in awhile...").
enjoy!



the stories we tell ourselves.

stories of falling short.  of not doing enough, being enough, saying enough, creating enough, or accomplishing enough.

i have defined myself by these stories for much of my life.  some of the stories are about situations that have happened in the past that i think still define me.  some of them are manufactured by my ever buzzing brain.

it's time to own these stories.  to recognize them.  to reconcile them.

to own our past.  to accept our past.

to realize the place they have in the bigger story.

to stop living in a place of fear and regret.

it's time to close the last chapter and start a new book.

a book brimming with life and beauty.

a book authored by the one that gifts us with grace, abundance and freedom when we identify and define our stories in Him.

because if we never allow ourselves to move on from one chapter, we'll miss out on the acceptance and freedom to start another.


--




Wednesday, March 6, 2013

influential meetup

Today I'm linking up with the wonderful women over at The Influence Network. Click the link to see what the network is all about ... you won't be disappointed!

We were asked to introduce ourselves, post 3 things interesting facts, 1 thing I have learned since joining the Network and one picture of ourselves that we love.  So, here goes!

Here's a quick little background about myself ... I started starting journaling on Homemade Bliss about a year ago, which was right after my itty bitty son was born. I needed a creative outlet (and a place to hash out all my crazy emotions + new memories) and writing has always been the way that I process and the balm to my soul. Little did I know that I would find such an amazing online community.

Anyways, here are 3 facts about myself that you might have not known already:

1. I wear scarves probably 5 out of 7 days of the week. Trademark? Perhaps.
2. I love making anything with my hands. (food, art projects, gardening)
3. I worked in one of the oldest architecture firms in downtown Chicago while I was finishing college.

And one thing that I'm loving/learning about the Influence Network:
(Besides the fact that online friendships are real and life changing.) I think I have really learned that I have influence that way that God made me and I need to trust that.  I have influence with my son, my husband, the person bagging my groceries, the women I speak with out in the community ... etc.    


Well, there you go!  Thanks for stopping by. I'm excited to dig deeper + deeper in this community of women.  
***


Monday, March 4, 2013

the choice



I sit down and try to write.  It's almost like I have so many thoughts just bouncing around in my head and I'm trying to slow down to catch one of them to savor and put down on paper.  But, alas I'm too slow.  The thoughts escape out of my hands before I can grasp them and I sit there, feeling overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed, but excited.

I have emotions and inspirations pulsating through me.  I'm starting to see beauty and life and purpose in things that seemed dormant before.

I feel alive again after a season of hibernating.

I want to sit and savor.  Savor the streams of sunlight hitting the wood floor.  Savor the baby coos that are quickly turning to babbling + talking.  Savor the endless inspiration I have for creative project after creative project.  Savor the courageous vulnerability that is daring inside of me.

So, that's what I'm choosing to do.  I'm slowing down to savor.  To taste.  To see.  To feel.  To appreciate.

And to prepare myself for the moving part that will follow.  The part where the pen hits the page.  The brush strokes the canvas.  The details and determination come into play.  Action.

Because, I'm so good with the inspiration.  With the thinking.  And the over-thinking.

But, the action is another story.  With intentionality comes vulnerability.  

Some times it's safe to stay in the thinking part.  But, I don't want to stay safe.  I don't want to be comfortable.  So often I've complained of being paralyzed, creatively dry, lacking purpose, searching for beauty with no beauty to find.

I'm deciding that action is a choice.  A choice I want to be daring enough to make.

So, I'm going to allow myself to savor for a little while.  Soak it all in.

And then, I'm going to step out in faith and out of fear.

Because this life is meant to be lived.

And I'm going to live it.




Monday, February 25, 2013

times files



my husband was out of state last week for work, so i got to spend a lot of quality time with this little love bug.  everyone says that time flies when you have kids.  it's almost like my little boy is a daily visual of how fast time is flying by.  it's causing me to really want to press pause and savor every little moment.  

next month, ramsey turns one.  

one. 

(cue freak out). 

i can't believe that last year at this time i was preparing to bring a little babe into the world.  i also can't believe how many misconceptions i had about being a mom.  i read and researched as much as i could and i was dead set on a lot of things.  

and then, ramsey came along.  and he was the one teaching me

i have never learned as much in these last 11 months than i have my entire life and i would never change a thing.   

this little boy is a mirror into how i act and love.  (... and that has been so hard to swallow at times.)  

i am so thankful for the ups and downs.  the adventures.  the laughs.  the middle of the night thoughts.  

i'm so thankful that god has entrusted me to be the one that loves on him and teaches him.  

i'm your biggest fan, baby boy.  



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

granola. the best ever.

Every week I try to make a batch of granola for my husband and I to eat for breakfast and snacks. Not only is it way healthier than something you might buy at the store, but it also saves us money and is so unbelievably good. I made another batch the other day, and while I was eating copious amounts of it right off the baking sheet, I thought to myself ... "other people NEED this recipe!!".

So, here you go.



Ingredients
* 2 cups old fashioned oats
* 1 1/2 cups nuts/seeds of your choice (we love a mixture of almonds + pumpkin seeds)
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (i'm a cinnamon addict, so i add a little bit more)
* pinch of nutmeg
* pinch of ginger
* 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
* 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/4 cup dried fruit (optional)

Directions
Mix together the oats + nuts/seeds in a large bowl.
Add the olive oil + honey (or maple syrup) and stir.
Add in spices + vanilla. Stir well.
Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. (Stir every 10ish minutes to make sure everything bakes evenly.  I have forgotten to stir once or twice, and the granola comes out in larger chunks--which is nice for snacking on.  Either way you're good ... experiment!)
**If you are adding dried fruit, add it during the last 10 minutes of baking.

This kind of recipe is my favorite --- You can experiment with what different combinations of nuts or fruit you choose to add in. I usually make it with whatever we have left in our pantry. Feel free to great creative.

Also, it's so stinkin' easy!!  I can mix it together quick with a little babe playing around my feet for a few minutes during our mid-morning "search through the bottom cupboards and use bowls for hats" routine.

Enjoy!

FYI: I found this recipe about a year ago via Emma.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

this week's inspiration


Playroom teepees.  I know, I know.  They're everywhere.  But I just can't stop thinking about how much fun it would be to have one!

Great post about "personal style and pinterest"via Hollywood Housewife.

Recipe: Delicious recipe using brussel sprouts from Cup of Jo.  I've made these about 4 times now.  I crave these in my sleep.

Tutorial: Super simple photoshop tutorial from Rebecca of Mable Kate. I greatly appreciated this since I am a self-taught photoshop lover and user! (Also, Rebecca is a just a sweet, sweet friend... love her and her blog.)

Favorite iPhone Picture of the Week: 
I am soaking up any kisses and snuggles I can get from this active and adventures little boy.




Happy Weekend-ing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

ephesians 2:10


for we are god's masterpiece. 
he created us anew in christ jesus, 
so we can do the things he planned for us long ago. 
eph. 2:10
***


this verse continues to come to me while i'm running.  showering.  writing.  making dinner.  when i'm trying to get comfortable and fall asleep at night.  

for some reason, i can't shake it.  it's a verse that i've heard time and time again, but it's starting to take on a different meaning to me.  

we are his workmanship.  his masterpiece.  
masterpiece?  really?  do i really believe that and live that out? 
we are designed.  we have unique purpose.  unique perspective.  unique lives, characteristics, quirks, and passions.  (and, let me tell you, i've been blessed with many quirks.  endearing quirks as we like to call them in our house.)

i'm starting to realize the power this verse has when i meditate on it and believe it.  i'm realizing that my mind has such power over how i feel and live.  if i think about myself and my life in a certain way, i'm going to start to believe whatever it is my mind is telling me.  the version of myself that god sees is still there, it's just buried under layers and walls of other lies and stories i've told myself.  and living from behind all those walls and barriers is so suffocating and destructive.

our minds are so powerful. 

but, thankfully, god is even more powerful. 

i'm finding that this has to be a daily reminder for me.  a renewal of my mind right before my feet hit the chilly floor.  

also, how amazing + beautiful is the book of ephesians?  i've always felt a tug towards it, but i'm loving it more and more each time i come back to read through it. 

have a wonderful day, everyone!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

love day

Today's the day. Whether you like it or not, hearts and chocolate are everywhere and love is in the air. My husband and I don't really go all out for Valentine's day. We tend to write each other a little note (which, I LOVE. Written words are make my heart melt.) and I eat some crazy amount of chocolate (so stereotypical, right?!). Last year, I was gifted with a dozen cupcakes. That was glorious. Wow.

Anyways, I guess today has me thinking a lot about relationships. Now, I've only been married for a handful of years, but I've learned quite a few lessons none-the-less. Here are my 'top ten' reminders and love lessons. These were so great for me to write out ...

1) My husband does not, and will not, complete me. He won't always make me happy and make me feel like I'm walking on clouds every where I go. Thinking through this perspective only sets me up for hurt and sets him up for failure. (I learned this the hard way.) He's human, too! God is the only one that can fill me, give me purpose, and light me up.
2) He doesn't see with the same eyes I do. I see a messy kitchen, he sees a fun family night cooking together. I see my postpartum, soft body and he sees a strong woman that he is more attracted to than ever before.
3) Ice cream is so much more fun when it's shared. and eaten out of the carton. in bed.
4) In his eyes, I'm always beautiful. Always. See it, feel it, believe it.
5) He can't read my mind. (I still forget this ...)
6) Sharing a calendar together and setting weekly tasks/goals has to happen weekly/daily.
7) Elaborate dinners don't always have to happen. Cereal with peanut butter is a life saver.
8) Raising a little boy that has the same spunk and crave for adventure (not to mention his smile!) as your husband will make you cry and melt, time and time again.
9) Believe him when you ask "are you okay? what's wrong" and he replies "Yeah, I'm fine. Nothing's wrong". He means it. Digging deeper will only frustrate you and him.
10) Have intellectual conversations over coffee, at the dinner table, and late at night in bed. Ask the hard questions. Talk about politics, faith, life, art, inspiration.
10.5) Coffee always helps any situation.
11) He doesn't mind that I don't fit the typical wife and mom mold, so I should stop trying to fit myself into it. He supports me and wants to me to be my unique self.
12) I don't have to be everything. I just need to be me. He loves me when I own that.

Monday, January 28, 2013

fake it to make it.

There are two situations that I get a lot of ideas during--running and showering.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to write anything down during these two times. I'm working on ideas to solve this.  In the mean time, here is something that came to me this morning while on a run ...

***

source


I used to tell myself this phrase all the time.

"Fake it to make it."

It was a phrase that got me through a lot of uncomfortable and self conscious situations.  During the year and a half leading up to opening our coffee house, I repeated this phrase over and over to myself.  I was meeting with city officials, business owners, and tons of volunteers that wanted to help out with the renovating and planning.  I was fresh out of college and felt like such a little girl.

I remember repeating this phrase throughout the beginning weeks (months?! ... It's all a blur!) of having our first little babe.  Me?  A mom?

In the past, I remember feeling inadequate while meeting up with different women or talking with random people out in the community.  I wanted to appear polished, put together, and poised.  Ask anyone that knows me, and these 3 words definitely do not describe me.  I am as messy, chaotic, and random as they come.  

I think that uttering "fake it to make it" can definitely help boost our confidence when we're in a situation that requires us to truly believe in ourselves and our capabilities. But, you know what, I also think it sucks us dry of the ability to be vulnerable with others.

Vulnerability. It's real. It's hard. It hurts.

But it's where honesty collides with humility. It's where we extend ourselves and let other people in.  When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we take our masks off and the handful of security walls we've built tumble down.  

When our masks come off and our walls fall down, we make ourselves available.  Available to extend and receive love.  We free ourselves to grow and connect.  Form community with others.

We free ourselves to experience the beauty of our lives.  Beauty that comes in all different forms.

I honestly still struggle with what a good balance is of all of this.  But, I know one this is true.  I want to look back on life and know that I took risks while still being my crazy self instead of pretending to be someone else. I want to experience life and all the beauty (and hurts) it has for me instead of living behind a safe phrase or various security walls that keep me safe. 

So, maybe I'll have to utter "fake it to make it" a few more times to get me that boost of confidence I need while trying to cross a goal off my life life, but I also want to remember the importance and freedom of truly being ME.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lately...

I don't know about you, but it is so incredibly cold here.  Pair that with it being the middle of January and it's easy to get the winter blahs.  Here's a little update with what we're doing to have a little fun and stay cozy lately.  


Enjoying baths while dreaming of the ocean and warmer climates. 


Planning our little kitchen garden and hoping to have as good as a harvest as years past. 


Getting inspired with so many different art projects. 


Warming up with strong lattes and the occasional crumbly scone.

---

Feel free to try one or all of the above to add a little coziness or warmth to your day.  I guarantee you'll be in a happier mood than when you started!

  


Monday, January 21, 2013

a little inspiration

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” 
Mother Teresa

I read this quote a few days ago and I just can't forget it.  "Be the living expression of God's kindness...".  
I just love the emotion + inspiration that phrase evokes in me.  It doesn't get any better than that, does it?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

grace for the good girl :: #TheSamePage final week



This post is continuation about the book, Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman.  #TheSame Page started reading this book a few months ago.  I finished Grace for the Good girl just last week.  ((I cannot recommend this book enough.  Such a truth-filled, amazing read, especially if you've struggled with living a life full of high expectations + perfectionism.)) 
---



It's been difficult to write out some of my thoughts that are lingering.  I knew that I wanted to wrap up my thoughts about the book, but I also wanted to sit with them for a little while and just be quiet.  I wanted to allow everything to soak in.

Before this book, I was constantly exhausted and left wondering what I was missing in my life and in myself.  Why I couldn't just be better, accomplish more, and be more disciplined?  I thought I was missing something that everyone else had.

Before this book, I met any concern or struggle with a fix and a lot of worry.  Almost like a quick bandaid that wouldn't stay put for too long.

Before this book, my relationship with God was extremely surface level.  I had a deep thirst and longing for Him, but I felt like I just couldn't meet un-said expectations.  As much as I wanted to connect with God, I often prayed, read, and journaled with my focus turned inward instead of outward.  It was often done out of obligation.

Before this book, I was a different person on the outside than on the inside. I had a closet full of masks.  I rarely let people in and I would allow other people + situations to determine what mask I wore when.

This book ministered my soul so deeply.  It took biblical truth and explained things in a way that allowed me to see + understand God's heart and intentions.

This book allowed me to change my tight, clenched fists into open hands.

----
Interested in participating in the next #TheSamePage book?  Check out both Rachael and Blair's blogs for information!

Monday, January 14, 2013

His inheritance


Baby boy, when I hold you, the world stops spinning.  My mind slows down.  Everything feels right.  Tears sting my eyes, my shoulders relax, and my heart feels so full and heavy of love.  My arms melt and my chest aches.  I pray that you are able to see a real and true love through my eyes, my actions, my words.  It isn't a mystery that this world is hard and we're both going to make plenty of mistakes along this adventure together.  It isn't going to be easy, but I pray that I'm able to guide you more out of love + grace instead of fear + pride.  You are His inheritance and such a blessing to me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

the pendulum between grace and determination



A few days ago I posted about my thoughts about New Years resolutions.  I expressed how I was hesitant to make any resolutions because I didn't want to take my focus off of God, his strength + his plan and put it on myself and my own grand plan for my life.

A little back story -- If you've been reading my thoughts and notes here for a little while, you probably can gather that I struggle with being a Type-A planner and perfectionist.  2012 was a huge year for me.  A lot of amazingly, beautiful + God orchestrated things happened in my life that led me to a place where I was faced with the decision to either deal with my perspective on life or to be perpetually unhappy and exhausted with myself and my expectations.  Of course, this is something that I will always carry along with me because I'm human, but there was definitely a healing process and a perspective shift that I had to go through.  I realized I needed to actually accept God's grace instead of just understand it.  I also needed to offer myself grace.  {{side bar: Influence (the women I met, the speakers, the Word that was shared, the community, etc.) was a catalyst for all of my thoughts about this. I can't say enough about the community. Simply amazing.}}

Ok, back to the point.  I couldn't get the thoughts about 2013 that I wrote about out of my head after I hit publish.  I thought about them in bed at night, when I woke up in the morning, in the shower.  Finally, I realized I needed to really sit down and pray about it.  I put the babe to bed last night and sat cross legged on the floor with my journal and bible ready to just be.  I felt like I was in the tension of wanting to be gentle on myself, but also feeling inspired and wanting to move forward with life.

I realized by trying to protect myself from expectations and perfectionism, I essentially was paralyzing myself from committing to anything.  I was living in a state of not really owning anything.  I definitely think there are times in our lives where we need to turn our brains off and accept rest and space from God in order to heal and restore ourselves.  I think I needed that for a few months.  But, now I want to actively love and live my life fully and freely as God intends and moves through me.

I now realize that commitment is needed.  I can't live on the fence while trying to protect myself from failure, mistakes, hurt.  God intended me to accept rest for awhile, but now I'm just paralyzed by fear.  My fear of failure.  Fear of unknown.

I realized I was so paralyzed and protected that I wasn't allowing God in to show me his purpose for me.  I was seeing His beauty, but I wasn't experiencing it.  

This is such a sensitive tension in life... the pendulum between offering yourself grace, but also being determined and setting goals.  I know one thing for sure, I want to life, breathe, feel, + fully experience God's beauty and plan.  I want Him to move me with what ever he intends.  And, He can't do that if I'm  paralyzed.

Friday, January 4, 2013

It's 2013!

source


2013.

When did time suddenly start to go so fast? It seems like the older I get, the faster time ticks by. It makes my mind spin if I stop to think about it. I swear just yesterday I was the nerdy girl playing the spoons in our 4th grade music production (I thought I was so cool) and now I'm all married up with a baby boy and a shaggy pup while living in a little bungalow.

I found myself thinking about the new year throughout the past few days. I love the feeling of a fresh start; a blank slate so to speak. It's fun for me to think back over the past few New Years. The parties, people, resolutions, and hopes while ringing in the new year. I've made so many different goals over the past couple of years. Goals that made me feel like maybe, just maybe, if I tried a little harder and reached a little further, I could attain more.  Be more.  "This year is my year," I would think to myself.

Needless to say, these goals never really stuck (surprise!). I maybe made it a week or two, but then something would cause me to get distracted. After a while I stopped even making goals because of past failures. I knew that I couldn't keep up with what I wanted to attain, so I didn't even try. I thought I kept myself safe that way.

Now today, as I sit curled up listening to my little boy sleep, all I can think about is how thankful I am that I have a relationship with God where I don't have to keep trying to prove myself to others or to myself. I don't have to prove anything or do anything on my own. I don't have to come up with complex fixes and plans to becoming a stronger, prettier, smarter, more accomplished person. I now realize (and often have to remind myself) that I will continue to fall short when I depend upon my own strength and resources. I always feel like I'm missing out and not good enough when my thought pattern and perspective is only focused on myself and my own strength. The cool thing? When I strive to aline ourselves with God and his perspective + mind-set, he's right there.  Helping me.  Providing strength.  Picking me back up again and again.  Re-directing me again and again...

and again.

Because my strength alone is definitely not enough.

All of this to say, I'm still not sure what resolutions I have for 2013. To be honest, I'm hesitant to make any. I know that I want to grow stronger as a woman, a wife, a mom, a friend. But I also know that I want to trust that God has the best scenario and story for me to live. I want him to be the author of that... not me.