When you get a snowcone machine for Christmas, you invite the street over.
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I was in bed the other night, almost asleep, when she came into my room, her voice was full of excitement. She had been in her room reading a book called, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. She asked if she could read something to me.
“What words does God want you to treasure in the deepest part of you?
“Be good”? “Do it better”? “Try harder”? Are those the words God wrote in the Bible for us, to rescue and free us?
No. Those words only show us what we can’t do.
The words God wants us to remember are just three small ones: “I love you!”
They are the words that stop the terrible lie that Satan whispered to Eve in the garden: “God doesn't love you!”They are the words that heal the poison in our hearts that stops us from trusting God.
They are the words that Jesus came to tell us with his whole life.
They are words he died to prove.
What words will you treasure today?”
My eyes almost filled with tears as she and I discussed this beautiful message. My heart was full. I was filled with so much faith and love as I heard her say these words out loud. I want her to believe and live her life in light of these three words. I want to live my own life, holding these three words close to my heart.
He loves us. Something so simple, yet incomprehensible at times. He will show us, always, even when we least expect it.
There are so many things in today's culture fighting for our children's attention and time.
Organized activities, music lessons, clubs, sports, and playdates.
Digital devices with endless games, music, and social media.
These things can all be great and utilized in amazing ways, but I think it is so important for children to have time to be free. Time to be bored. To explore. To play. To imagine. To be by themselves.
Some days its easier to say yes to the other stuff, but every time I say "no, go outside and play", I am so grateful.
It was a cloudy warm morning. I saw her through the back door, still in her Frozen night gown; running up and down the yard with sticks and flowers. She was singing and dancing as she played.
I smiled. I know that feeling so well. That feeling of childhood; where you can go as far as your imagination takes you. I watch her like this often, hours spent in our yard; living a world she creates so beautifully.
This is my reminder. Some days they will fight for everything but this solitude of "nothing to do"; yet the feeling of boredom can inspire amazing memories and creativity.
Tonight you went on a dinner date with just you and Daddy. You have such a beautiful bond with him. I am so grateful for all the time Daddy invests in our family. He has such a love for Jesus and he pours that into each one of you. We are blessed to have him leading our home.
I share these words from Emily P. Freeman, because I believe that there is at least one person that needs to hear them.
"You were born to make art. But that's not all..you were born to live art. It's time to live as though we believe we have something to offer."
We were born to create. Each of us has this desire deep within our soul. We all create differently. Our mediums vary; yet none is more beautiful than the other. Some create art in the kitchen, while others live their art on the sports field. Some create with a brush or pen, while others use their voice. The ways in which we create are endless. What makes you feel alive?
Somewhere along the way, in this media driven world, people have become paralyzed. So many are frozen; afraid to start or afraid to keep going. Self-doubt has crept in. Comparison has a sick way of killing our joy and we forget that we each have a gift to give this world. Silence the noise and remember these words.
There is a place for every one of us. Nothing or no one is off limits. Find your canvas and go create.
“Don’t wait until tomorrow. Pick yourself today. You already have everything you need. Embrace the art alive within you, and believe in the little ways God wants to release his art into the world through you.”
The life of soccer siblings.
This photo captures the life our children have grown to love during soccer season. Our team families have spent countless practices and matches together at soccer complexes around our state. The siblings, who are not playing soccer, have become the best of friends as they wait for practices or games to finish. The kids play on the field sidelines, play-park sets, or wherever they can find room to run. These team families have become like family to each of us. It is something special. I am so grateful that our younger children enjoy this time at the fields. They may never know if Big Sissy won or lost; but they have a great time while waiting and always ask when is the next game.
Today, we said goodbye to our beloved dog Buster. Fifteen years of memories flood my head and heart. Each of us feels broken as a part of us is gone.
I was looking through pictures from the last month and I kept coming back to this moment. Over and over. Not because it is the best picture or memory we have of him. I stop, because this was our ordinary, our mundane, our everyday. Him, by our side. Him, as part of our world. For fifteen years, he was there.
There are parts of our life that are so normal, so every day, that we forget to even notice them. We take them for granted, almost like the breath that comes from our lungs. And then one day we wake up and something has changed. The normal; whatever it was, is different. I don’t want to notice the beauty of the everyday only when it is gone. I want to embrace it and appreciate it. I want to see it. The everyday; the habitual, the predictable, is what makes our life a complete story. Life simply isn't made up of grand picturesque moments. I want these seemingly insignificant moments to be etched so deeply in my heart and eyes that I never forget them.
I am grateful for all of the years we had with Buster. I am thankful that his life was full of joy and good health until the very end; yet, I long to have him with our family again. I wake up each day and feel such a void. There is nothing to take away this hurt, but I find peace in knowing that he is now without pain. These images will serve as an important reminder to me. A reminder to slow down, to notice and be grateful for all of the beauty God gives us in each day.
I love to watch how our kids can find wonder in such simple moments in their days. I strive to live like this. I want to stop and be in awe daily of this world we live in. Life gets busy and some days I get so focused on the moments we are living that I lose sight of God’s glory and my part in His amazing story. Yet, our lives here on earth are so short. Whether we are given 4 or 94 years to live; they are so brief, in light of eternity.
Where do we each fit into His story? What do we do with the years we have here on earth? This is something I have been thinking about a lot. I met with 5 young women last night as we wrestled through this question. Each of us has dreams and visions that God has placed on our hearts, yet many of us fear others and what they think about us. Many of us are scared of failing. We are scared to move in obedience. And we seek affirmation, approval and love from the world. It is an internal fight so many of us face. But ultimately, it is a fight to love God the most.
And then this morning, I came across these words from Jennie Allen, “Our God is worth this fight. And if there is a sober, honest bone in your body you'll admit that this is a fight! It is a full-on war to love God more than any visible thing or person on this earth, even more than ourselves."
I pray we will all keep dreaming for Him.That we will boldly and bravely follow Him. That we will seek Him and His glory and our small part in His story. I pray we live our lives with the knowledge that His love and affection are far greater than anything we can create for ourselves.
And I pray that when I come to the end of my life I can say these words: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” John 17:4.
I don’t ever want to stop living in awe of Him. I don’t want to stop seeking my part in His great story.
I love to get outside with our children and spend time exploring. No agenda set. Just time together. Recently, we spent some time at one of our favorite local spots. The kids spent hours exploring and imagining. They each had their own island in this fun world they created. I sat next to the water and listened and watched as they played together.
In a world that competes with electronics daily, I know without doubt that the real magic happens when everything is unplugged.
Head on over to the 5 minute project to see the rest of these images together. Josh Solar and I have collaborated using the word Explore; one of us in the warmth of Florida and the other in the cold of Kansas City.
You got new sneakers for Christmas and have been determined to learn to tie them by yourself. This week you mastered it and you were super excited. My mama heart loved this moment for you.
I really don’t listen to pop music. The truth be told, I couldn't name three songs on the mainstream radio right now. A couple of weeks ago my husband spent the weekend at a conference in Atlanta for college students called Passion. Somehow during the course of the weekend, he was introduced to the song Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. When he first mentioned the song, I didn't pay much attention. But then as it was played and replayed in our home, I found myself singing along. And then I found myself dancing with our kids to this song.
There’s something really awesome about the message Taylor shares in this song. In a recent interview she says, “The message in Shake It Off is a problem we all deal with on a daily basis. We don’t live just in a celebrity takedown culture, we live in a takedown culture,” she explained about the insanely catchy track. “People will find anything about you and twist it to where it’s weird or wrong or annoying or strange or bad. You have to not only live your life in spite of people who don’t understand you — you have to have more fun than they do.”
I have spent many years as a people pleaser. I dislike confrontation. I enjoy peace and comradery . I try to love all people and embrace that we are all different. It hurts when people don’t take the time to know below the surface and make judgments based on their own assumptions. Sadly, I have spent way too many hours of my life worrying too much about other’s opinions and I don't want our children to have these same wasted hours. I want them to love others fully, but realize that others will not always love them back.
It’s a new year and I keep coming back to these three words. Shake It Off. Perhaps, they are three words you need to sing as well.
As Ann Voskamp once said, “People will always have opinions about you. But you live for God because He’s the only one who has intimate knowledge of you.”
If I could capture the way love feels, this image would be it. Our eyes and hands connected. Her smile that forever reminds me that grace abounds. I’ve often thought how the love I feel for our children is the closest I will ever know to the love of Christ. This girl of ours is strong willed. She challenges me throughout each day. Yet, she will never push too far, she will never lose my love. I will never give up on her. We will always come right back here to this beautiful spot, where grace abounds, where love never fails.
Today, I read these words from Paul David Tripp. “He never mocks your weaknesses or throws your sin in your face. He never gets tired of you or gives up on His relationship with you. His love isn't conditional and his grace is never temporary. He doesn't ask you to earn what you can never deserve, and He never makes you feel guilty for needing His good gifts.”
I am always amazed and always humbled. This incredible overwhelming love I feel for our children; it is only a small portion of the love He has for me. It’s amazing. It really is.
A week with nothing on our schedule was just what we all needed. It seems like no matter what we do to slow down, the weeks leading into Christmas are always so busy. I have savored the time we have spent at home this past week; just being together.
As we look ahead in 2015, I can't help but look back on the past year. I am so grateful for God's provision. There have been joys and challenges alike, but He is always faithful. He is always here. There is always light to be found in Him.