Fall soccer begins.
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Birthday wishes. It's hard to believe she has spent five birthdays in this home. Before moving back to Florida we had never lived in one home longer than about two years.
Every time I see these four cousins together I am reminded of what a blessing this time is. I have three siblings ranging in age 13 years from oldest to youngest. Starting with the birth of our daughter, we each had a girl every six/nine months. Now these four girls all live on the same street, growing up together. I will never take these days for granted !
I hope this is how they remember their childhood; simple, yet so full.
On Saturday, our kids were super excited to have their grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins over for a gender reveal party. Pink and blue was worn by all as each person made their guess. Our sweet three did a great job keeping the secret until the big reveal! Rain coming down, lots of excited squeals, and pink flying everywhere!
IT'S A GIRL!!!!
So grateful and blessed for this gift of life growing inside of me. Praising God through it all.
I love Easter. Not because of the eggs or hunts or family gatherings. I love Easter because of the Cross. I love this time of the year because it really makes me pause and reflect on what Christ did for each of us. I love the reminder of His amazing, sacrificial love for us.
Ann Voskamp sums up so much in these words,
"And this week, Jesus looks you right in the eye, and He takes that yoke off your back, He takes that weight off your mind, He takes that heaviness off your heart -- and He carries it because He wants to carry you.... to carry you right through.
He looks you right in the eye & says, "I did it for love..." (Jn3:16)
He takes your hand & takes that crown of thorns & says, "I did it because I had to take you..." (Jn14:3)
He takes that Cross you've been carrying & He lets you walk weightless -- *grace is weightless* -- and He says, "I did it because I desperately wanted you..." (Ro.5:8)
Who in this world has ever wanted us like He has?"
He is waiting for each of us. Today. And every single day. He pursues us like no other. It all comes back to one thing. LOVE. That weightless walk. That grace. We don't have to travel the roads of life alone. We don't have to carry our burdens and our brokenness alone. He is waiting. He is here. He is a hope that defies all darkness.
Yes, I love Easter, because it celebrates a freedom, a grace, and a love that I know only through Him.
It is through Him that I can find joy in all circumstances. It is through Him that I can know the meaning of grace. It is through Him that I can know the depth of selfless love. It is through Him that I am renewed each day. It is only through Him that I can live. Without Him, I am broken and lost.
My prayer is that each one of you would know Him too. It's so easy to depend on our flesh, to think we can do life on our own; yet, each day I am reminded of my need for Him and His never ending grace. And I'm so grateful He never stops pursuing me.
Only four months apart, these girls are such a gift to one another. I remember the day they met almost 11 years ago. Our daughter, only 8 weeks old, meeting her "big cousin" for the first time.
They would continue for years, seeing each other during the summer and at Christmas; growing closer with each visit. Tears were shed every time we said goodbye. They dreamed about one day being neighbors and getting to see each other every day. We all dreamed about one day moving "home".
In 2011, this dream became a reality. It has been such a blessing to watch them grow the past four years, together and independently; each with hearts full of love for others and God. They are on the brink of so much change and it is something special to have one another to share these un-navigated waters.
As I look at both of them, I can't help but think back to all the years we waited. We dreamed of these days surrounded by family. A vision I thought would always be a dream, yet here we are. I am forever thankful for God's provision in our life. For His plans, in His time, always. And it is a reminder to wait on Him.
This will be our fourth Christmas in Florida since moving home from North Carolina in 2011. This time of year, I often miss the first snow of the season, Christmas tree farms with fresh trees, daily fires in the living room, and friends who lingered in the yard visiting while our kids played. Truthfully, there is a lot I still miss about the life we left behind.
This weekend we spent the day at a community wide event for our small hometown. We visited with friends from our childhood in 80 degree weather and sunshine. We saw grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins as we walked around the event. We came home and spent time on the lake and dinner surrounded by family. This is December, now in Florida. There is so much to be thankful for. I know that this is right where we need to be and I am grateful for God’s provision.
Perhaps, you are also missing a place or a person during this holiday season. I would love to say there was a magical way to make that pain or void go away. Instead, I urge you to look around where you are, see who you are with, and find the beauty in this season of your life. It isn't always easy, but it can totally change your perspective. It can totally change your life.
(On a side note, if you look closely, you will see our daughter is almost in tears in this picture. Yes, this is the reality of this time of year; busy days, not enough sleep, and sometimes extra grumpy children.)
There are days when I see you playing and I long for that feeling again; a feeling completely free of worry, a carefree feeling with no stress, no burdens, no pressures, a feeling of living completely in the moment. Yes, sometimes, I long for that.
Trials of life will not go away while we live here on Earth. Our lives are filled with hurts and struggles that define who we are. Disappointment happens. People let us down. We let each other down. We work hard, as we have commitments and jobs. We have responsibilities we must fulfill. We can let all of this completely encompass us or we can experience a beautiful freedom.
That freedom is one we can only know through following Christ. In Andy Stanley’s Follow study, he describes “a faith so big it overwhelms and shadows all fear.” He asked, “What would I do in light of what is going on in my life, IF I am absolutely confident God is always with me?” I couldn't help but really think about this. If I am truly following Him and know His amazing love for me; then, why don’t I live like it? Why do I let circumstances around me affect how I live? I should live daily, with the same freedom I see in my children. I should set my burdens, my weariness and my fears at His feet and trust.
My continued prayer is to not only believe this, but to live it. To let go and experience a life that is fully in Him. I am thankful that I can have this freedom through Him and that I can know this peace. There is no greater gift than His love.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Today, you were playing with your cousin Cha Cha when Aunt BB stopped by unexpectedly. I was super excited to see her; I always love whenever we get time to visit. I noticed immediately that you began to act in an unkind way to your other cousin. In your own words, you explained that you were already playing with Cha Cha and wanted to play with her alone. You didn't want to share. I explained that this wasn't a nice behavior and I apologized to Aunt BB. I was embarrassed and disappointed that your heart was so selfish at this moment. It didn't take long before all three of you were playing and the conflict was behind us, but I have thought about that afternoon a lot. It really bothered me that you would act so unwelcoming. I never want anyone to feel left out or hurt because of your behavior.
This weekend as I was thinking about that afternoon, I came across a post by Lisa-Jo Baker entitled How To Get Over Cliques and Get Real Community. In her article, Lisa-Jo discusses how as women we often want nothing more than to be needed and invited in by other women. She shares how we often feel left out and not a part of the inner circle.
She shared this quote from C. S. Lewis. “The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it.”
Lisa-Jo continues, “But friend, just blink. Blink and see that it’s a mirage. The illusion that there’s an inner circle we've been left out of; the lie that we've been left out on purpose. We’re built for friendship, yes. We have community in our bones. And when we’re desperate and blinded by the taunting mirage of the inner circle we will end up drinking the sand- angry, gritty, bitter and confused. We can fight to find a way in or we can love on the women where we’re at. We can obsess over who didn't talk to us or we can focus on the woman we’re talking to. We can keep looking for a seat at a more popular table or we can pass the bread basket and an introduction to the women sitting right where we already are. Everyone is on the outside of something. But that is only half the story. We are all on the inside of something often without even realizing it. Do you see? Blink. Do you see them? Your people. Look around. Wipe the mirage out of your eyes. Now, who do you see?”
As I read this, I thought about you, only 5, unknowingly creating your own “inner circle” of sorts and how damaging these behaviors can be the older we become. I thought about the many times I have felt left out of one “inner circle” or another. And then I realized all the times I have unintentionally left others out as well. Who haven’t I seen?
I really want you and your sister to grow into women that can be confident right where you are. Women, not seeking the inner circle, but loving everyone around them. There wasn't anything wrong with your desire for one on one time with Cha Cha, but Christ’s desire is for us to love all of those around us, not a select few, at a select time. This is a reminder to me to open my heart to each woman God has placed in my life right now. It is a reminder to me, the next time I feel left out, to stop and see who is already sitting next to me.
Your first fall soccer season ended today. You loved getting to play with two of your cousins and we all loved watching the three of you on the field.
“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in the quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.” –Mary Jean Iron
This week I will celebrate another year of life. Birthdays have become bitter sweet for me. I am so grateful for another year of health and life, yet there is a part of me that is also a bit nostalgic.The years seem to pass with such speed. As children we tend to race from one year to the next; and then, all of the sudden, we realize the urgency to appreciate each day we are gifted.
On Sunday,we gathered with all of our family (aunts, uncles, cousins) at Mimi and Popi's house for dinner. You could say this is our “ordinary”, as Mimi and Popi host us almost every week for Family Night Dinner. I couldn't help but pause and be so grateful for this normal. Admittedly, life with 10 adults and 10 children is not always perfect. We all have our differences and there are times where grace is lost, but I see so much beauty and love in each of them. I thank God that we can experience life together. Having one another to share the celebrations, the sorrows, and the everyday is certainly a treasure.Please, normal day, "let me never pass you by in the quest for some rare and perfect tomorrow." Let me see the beauty in each moment, each day.