Monday, October 28, 2013

Ambition & Joy

I am not an ambitious person--at least not in terms of career or writing a novel or visiting every country in the world before I die. I always excelled academically but that was due to the fact that academics are pretty easy for me and so everyone expected me to excel. I was driven much more by the desire for praise and love than for a desire to become a famed or published scholar of any kind.

But over the last... decade? Oy. How old am I? Over the last "few" years, I have grown to have an ambition. I have no idea how to see that ambition a reality yet, but it is there. That ambition is to see Jesus heal people. The way He healed my life. You probably noticed in that first paragraph that my motivations were pretty selfish in a very insecure way. Jesus has healed that in my heart. He continues to heal me when ugly remnants rise to the surface. My ambition is that I would somehow find the words to express the immense *freedom* that God has brought me.

How do I explain going from living in a cage to living in open pasture? How do I capture the deep rest of knowing I am loved compared to the utter exhaustion of studying how to act and hoping I didn't mess up? How do I explain the release from the tyrannical words like "should" or "it's just you"? What can I say to those trapped in darkness that will open their eyes to the Light trying to break in and help them?

I have been reading in Luke recently and I am amazed how the opening chapters are _joyous_. Joy. Joy. Joy. The gospel is pure joy. Mary sings. Zechariah sings. Jesus proclaims the words from Isaiah have been fulfilled in Him. Joy. Joy. Joy.

How do you infect others with joy? Do I even live like that joy is real in my life? Do I let it get stolen by daily chores and petty irritations? Or do I remember and hold on to all these words that have been made real in my life: love, peace, community, forgiveness, freedom?

The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to [Jesus]. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come. ”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently.
Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (Luke 4:17-21 NLT)

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Autumn of My Discontent

There is a verse where Paul writes that he has learned to be content in all circumstances, whether with much or with little. I can't remember where it is (Philippians? Galatians?), and it is too late to take time to look it up. But I failed at this today. Utterly failed.

On the whole, I have completely loved being a stay-at-home mom. It is rewarding and more full of varied tasks and settings than sitting in front of a computer all day. I am usually as busy as I would want to be. And then today, whenever I turned my hand to a new task, I was almost instantly stymied. Hang pictures! Oh, I don't know where the hangars are. Maybe in the shed? I better ask David when he gets home. Unpack the last of the boxes! Except they are all buried in the mess of the guest room and there is nowhere for the baby to play safely while I am in there. Plant my plants! I need dirt. Take a walk! Oh, it's pouring rain. Wash a load of laundry! Well, at least I can do that... :P

I was bored, y'all. I watched a LOT of the Backyardagains and other kiddo shows with my baby. I basically had two hours of work to do in 12 hours. Booooring!

I have learned to be content in many situations, but not in transitions sometimes. The initial excitement of moving is over. I have a list of tasks that I can't do alone and a husband on 12 hour shifts. We have one vehicle so I can't go anywhere. I see ahead the daunting prospect of making all new friends and building a new community. I have a beautiful, mostly happy baby who I love, but who isn't exactly a great conversationalist yet.

I have so much. Many many things for which to be grateful. Even typing this all out has reminded me of the innumerable blessings in my life. And yet the new space is hard. The new phase of life before me is empty and yet messy all at the same time. There is much to be written, much to be done. And harder trials still to come.

Help me to learn to be content in every situation, Father. Amen.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why I Blog/Blogged/Attempt to Blog

Many moons ago, I kept a regular blog. I wrote regularly and at length. For about two years. Then I met someone, got married, had a baby, and moved across the country. Blogging definitely fell by the wayside. When I was pregnant, I had the urge to blog again and attempted it for a little while (see the previous fifteen posts). Then I had visions of writing posts with DIYs and step by step guides and serious thoughts scattered with beautiful paintings from the Artchive. Y'all, I ain't got time for that shizzle. I can barely keep my bathrooms clean and cook dinner regularly. I am not even sure how to punctuate properly on this silly iPad keyboard. But the reality is that I consistently feel the urge to blog again.

When I kept a blog before, it was during a pretty major time of upheaval in my life. God was doing some crazy digging up of old wounds and healing them. I felt like I was constantly having my mind blown. I needed a place to write my thoughts down, to organize them. Sharing them on the internet also made me feel connected. Some of my friends even read my blog and then we talked about it. Mostly, I blogged for myself, to make sense of the chaos in my brain. Which leads me to my current situation.

My life is dominated by housework and caring for a baby--shockingly involved and overwhelming jobs, by the way. But that doesn't mean my brain is dead. As in my prior blogging days, I have undergone major transitions in the last two years with more on the way (hello, 30). In addition, I have moved away from friends and family and find myself with a paucity of outlets for my active thoughts. I fully intent to seek out and strive to build a community here in my new home, but that takes time. What to do in the meantime? I return to blogging. I will probably write sporadically. I probably won't ever proofread. I have no time to find pretty pictures for my posts. (That's what having Instagram on the sidebar is for anyway, right?) Despite having honors in English in my college days, I don't even promise to write in complete sentences. I don't even promise to write anything anyone cares to read. But I have thoughts, y'all. Being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) only makes me yearn more for the deep things of life. I hope I can dig out fifteen minutes here or there to write about them.

P.S. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out what SAHM stood for. Oooh, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Moving on. I need sleep.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Trust & Fear

Fear is a funny thing. I feel like every time I "conquer" a fear, I forget about it for a while and then suddenly, there it is again. Unconquered, rearing it's ugly head, oftentimes disguised as a new fear, but still the same old "frienemy." I was thinking tonight how Trust is the opposite side of the same coin. Someone may earn my trust, but that trust can be tested, tried, broken, undermined, or simply fade. I may have to repeatedly give someone my trust. It's no wonder many succumb bitterness and distrust. Trusting, loving, being unafraid, these things take work. Lots of work. Especially when we are trusting human beings who are guaranteed to let us down at some point. We all make mistakes. We all sin. We all must constantly trade fear for trust, time and again.

But what about God? He is perfect, unfailing, unchanging, just, merciful, gracious--in fact, completely and totally trustworthy. So do I trust Him? Always, in all ways, at all times? No. Seriously. I live the most blessed life on earth, as far as I can see. I have more than I need to meet my needs, and in fact, my family and friends bring me deep joy on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. How could I ever doubt God's goodness? How could I ever be afraid when He is in control? How could I ever do anything but fall to my knees in adoration and gratefulness for all that I have been given?

Sometimes I just don't know. Sometimes I am very afraid. Afraid that I am not the loving wife and mother I want to be, that my precious baby be tragically lost to something like SIDS, that I will lose my own life and have to finally face the incomprehensible thing called death. I know that God is good. I know that He loves me. I see the evidence of that in Jesus, the visible representation of the invisible God. I see the evidence in every day filled with wonderful blessings. Yet still, I must fight to trust God again and again.

As long as I am a human being living in a broken world, I'm not sure that trust will ever be easy or that fear will ever be completely conquered.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (Psalms 118:5-9, 28, 29 ESV)

Friday, June 7, 2013

On Being a New Mom

Wow. I just typed a really broad and overwhelming subject line on this post. Maybe I will make this a series of posts. Of course, I probably won't even get to finish one since I hear the little one waking up from her nap now. She'll be hungry and want to eat, need a new diaper, want to be entertained for a while, then I'll realize the kitchen is a mess and try to clean it. In the middle I will get distracted because I will realize that I haven't watered my plants in ages. And what was I supposed to add to the grocery list? Oh, the baby is fussing again. Is it time to nurse her again already? How is it 3pm? My husband will be home soon. I should start planning dinner around the baby's feeding times. Darn it! I forgot about that load of laundry I put in yesterday afternoon. I bet it smells now and I'll have to wash it all over again. Wow, my toenails really need to be cut; I need to remember to do that the next time she falls asleep. Assuming I don't fall asleep too, of course. Throw in a little worrying about random uncontrollable events, some happy baby talking, and that my friends, is what my life looks like every day right now. Being a new mom is weird and crazy and overwhelming and fun and hard, hard work. 24/7. I want to blog more but somehow every day slips away before I even realize it. We'll see if I can make it happen...

P.S. This post seriously took me four hours to type and post. My point is made. LOL.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Best Sheep & Goats

I was reading I Samuel 15 today. How this story strikes at my heart. God tells Saul to destroy the Amalekites down to the very last sheep, but Saul leaves the Amalekite king alive and his men only destroy the seemingly worthless things and kept the best cattle, sheep, etc. for themselves. When Samuel confronts him, Saul, in a truly human way, argues that he did obey God, even though he didn't obey God, because they kept the best animals for sacrificing to the Lord.

This passage of scripture is heartbreaking to me:
When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”
“Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.
“It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”
How often do I do this? How often do I say, "I'm obeying God, but in this area where I'm clearly not obeying Him, it's because I am still serving Him. Truly. Honestly. I have a good reason." What are your sheep and goats? For instance, I wonder about this in regards to how I deal with money. Do I really believe in Jesus' way of poverty (Luke 12:13-34), or do I convince myself that I am better able to serve God by holding on to the money I have? Where is the line of a servant's responsibility (Luke 19:11-27) versus my sinful, Saul-like excuses that I need to save the good plunder for God instead of doing what He told me to do with it? I wonder.

Saul's actions lead God to reject him as king of Israel and to this beautiful verse:
What is more pleasing to the Lord:
   your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
   and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
God wants our obedience and submission. He does not delight in our sacrifices, but delights in our hearts when we show mercy and seek His heart (Matt 9:13; Hosea 6:6). How often do we instead stammer out excuses like Saul before Samuel, convinced that we somehow are doing something better for God than simply obeying Him?

Back again. I think.

My baby turns four months old today. It has somehow simultaneous been the longest and the shortest four months of my life. Every day is similar and as I pass day after day being at home with an infant, doing five thousand loads of laundry, I am somehow surprised to find myself in the middle of May. Perhaps the fact that it is still snowing is also playing tricks with my sense of time. Anyway, that is all to say that I am starting to settle into life with a baby and I am hoping to steal away for a blog post during a nap here and there. We will see how it goes. I make no promises!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blog Share: A Beautiful Mess

If you don't already follow this blog, do it. Projects, recipes, fashion, photography. They cover it all and they do it beautifully. It is the most inspiring blog I have ever stumbled upon.

A Beautiful Mess

Friday, January 11, 2013

Inspiration Board: Wood

I love wood. Seriously. Anything made out of wood will make me stop in my tracks and want it. Just look at all these beautiful things...

Clockwise from the top left:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughtful Thursday: Women's Bodies

When I was at my 38 week pregnancy appointment last week, the nurse-midwife looked at me and said, "We can begin sweeping your membranes at 39 weeks if you want." This is basically the first step in artificially inducing labor. I just stared at her. Why was she even suggesting this? I have had a textbook perfect pregnancy. I am healthy. My baby is healthy. Why would this even be suggested? It is a completely unnecessary medical procedure. More importantly, suggesting it subtly attempts to undermine my ability to trust my body to deliver my baby at the right time. Her reasoning was that some women just get impatient. Well, yeah, I can't say that having a 15lb squirmy medicine ball where my stomach used to be is particularly easy, but isn't it more important to encourage me to believe that my body is capable of triggering labor at the correct time for me and my baby?

Women's bodies are in incredibly complicated. Think about how complicated the human body is in general, and then add to the fact that women's bodies are actually designed to replicate, build and sustain another human body. Our bodies are complicated. Because of this, I have often felt challenged by my body. Between hormones and reproductive cycles and pregnancy, sometimes I feel like I have no idea what is happening in my body or how to respond to it. It can be incredibly frustrating. Yet, as I have traveled through this pregnancy, it can also be incredibly encouraging. My body is amazing in its capabilities. Truly amazing.

Unfortunately, I feel like Western medicine has bought in to this strange idea that women's bodies are perpetually broken and in need of fixing. Our bodies are viewed either as objects of lust or confusing mysterious machines that never work quite right. And there is also an utter disregard for our emotions and minds and how they affect our bodies. Lots of people will joke about how women are more emotional than men, but why aren't our feelings even a factor when discussing our bodies with doctors?

I've had conversations with two friends today who said yes to an optional (though recommended) medical procedure not because they were comfortable with the procedure, but because the doctors approached them with horror stories of what might happen if they don't go through with it. Western medicine operates out of the fear of what may be rather than having any faith that maybe if we just give a body a little time, it might do just fine. And the utter disrespect of their emotions was infuriating. We cannot disconnect how we feel from how our bodies are doing. They are always connected.

A friend once said that Satan hates women especially because we have been given the gift of bringing life into the world. As I look around at the body image issues and physical issues by which so many of my friends have been plagued, I think this is true. Our bodies and the image of them have been attacked on so many levels. How many women truly believe that their bodies are beautiful, incredible works of art and mechanics? Because they are. They are valuable for a lot more than sex (which is the only value our society seems to place on them these days). Our bodies are miraculous. It is a great tragedy that we have lost all sight of this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blog Share - Vintage Revivals

I literally just found this blog today, and I love it! It's fantastic. Today's project was very inspiring to me since I see these bits of embroidery and lace and quilts all the time and wonder how to update them. Doesn't this re-framed crewel work look amazing?

Vintage Revivals

Monday, January 7, 2013

DIY Monday: Nightlight Artwork

I didn't really think I was going to be blogging again, but now that I am, I have some projects to share. Unfortunately, I do not have step-by-step photos of these projects because, well, I didn't know I would be blogging again!

First up is a nightlight for the baby's room. I found an idea on Pinterest that had no real instructions or anything, but I decided I could probably do it.


  • Canvas (I used a deep gallery canvas from Michael's)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Sponge paintbrush (what are those things called?)
  • Small regular paintbrush
  • Christmas lights
  • Stickers
  • Staple gun
1) I spray painted the canvas with silver sparkles. I was doing stars and I wanted the stars to look pretty even when the nightlight was off.

2) Then, I covered the canvas in star stickers and star post-it notes. I used post-it notes because I couldn't find stickers as big as I wanted.

3) Then I painted over everything with a sponge brush and a bottle of regular acrylic paint. I used pretty much the entire bottle. I painted in waves and swirls so that the visible brush strokes would add to the pattern. This is more Van Gogh Starry Night than precision.

4) I waited for the paint to dry and then peeled off the stickers and post-it notes. The post-it notes worked okay, but not great. They stuck to the canvas pretty badly once the paint dried. I think I should have peeled them off while the paint was still wet, but I was afraid of the paint bleeding. The stickers actually didn't end up with clean edges either. Again, more Starry Night than precision.

5) I touched up the edges of the stars with a small paintbrush to cover up the stuck paper and some of the truly uneven edges.

6) I grabbed a staple gun and a string of white Christmas lights and stapled the lights in a zig zag pattern across the inside of the canvas. This is where having the deep gallery canvas helped a lot. There was plenty of room for the lights to sit without pushing the frame away from the wall.

7) I plugged it in and it worked! I love it so much! I will have to get a timer or remote for the outlet since I ended up hanging it behind the crib, but right now I just leave it on and enjoy it. :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Inspiration Board: Red, White & Blue Kitchen

As I have been focusing on personal style, I think I have settled into a theme for my kitchen. I have discovered recently that my taste could be classified as "farmhouse" style. I like things that are simple and look like they have been there for a long time. I love wood floors, beams, furniture, old fabrics, simple pottery and handmade items. Apparently this is often seen in farmhouses?!

Anyway, I am far from patriotic, but I love the look of a red, white, and blue kitchen. Vintage items fit. Antique items fit. Scandinavian items fit. I'm liking this look.

You can see  all the items and more on my Pinterest board.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Approaching Birth

Not surprisingly for a woman 37 weeks pregnant with her first baby, I have been rather obsessively thinking about labor recently. Our culture (i.e. television and movies) has done so much to fill the idea of labor with fear: it is portrayed as agonizing, overwhelming, sudden, dangerous. Even when addressed with humor, there really isn't much truth in any of it. And we live in a bizarre culture where no one is expected to have any experience of labor outside of their own children. How do we learn without experience? But I digress.

As I have been reading encouraging stories about the amazing creation that is a woman's body, I keep going back to a specific memory. WARNING: this is probably going to be way too much information and personal for some people, but it's a great story!

Since I started having my period as a kid, I have always had incredibly bad menstrual cramps. Really, really bad. I actually went on birth control for 8 years to control them. Then decided that I was going to learn more about my body and began seeing a naturopathic doctor who was helping me to balance my hormones with herbs and a progesterone supplement (I had a deficiency). As I was going through this process, I definitely didn't get it right every month and was sometimes suffering from extreme cramps again.

Well, my husband and I arrived at the Frankfurt airport on the final day of our honeymoon. We had been gone for over two weeks. I was tired and I wanted to go home so much. And then my cramps started. And they were bad. Really, really bad. But how I wanted to get on that plane, and I knew they might not let me if I was moaning and writhing all over the terminal. So I lay my head in my husband's lap and I focused on breathing and not being overwhelmed, as I talked to God about the pain. For hours I did this as David lovingly rubbed my back. I was miserable, but I was not overwhelmed. When they called us to board, I could barely stand, and I'm sure I must have been deathly pale. But I clung to David and I walked to the gate. We were (very slowly) shuffling down the walkway when I knew I was going to vomit from the pain and effort. I frantically swiped my boarding pass back from David and ran into the (thankfully!) nearby restroom. I couldn't make it to a stall, so I puked into the sink, which unfortunately had a drain cover. I remember staring into the clogged sink full of puke and just laughing. What was I supposed to do? I had to board my plane. The bathroom didn't even have paper towels! I rinsed the sink as much as possible, rinsed out my mouth, and was the last person to go through the gate to get on the plane where my poor brand new husband was anxiously staring and waiting for me. I just laughed. And laughed. And suddenly everything was okay. I was on the plane, my cramps began to ease, and I finally fell into a deep, exhausted sleep.

The thing about this story is that I see truth in it where I didn't before: I am strong. I am loved. That is the thought I take most into labor. I am strong, and I am loved. God has given women an amazing capacity for pain and love in the face of overwhelming circumstances. I am thankful that I have learned a little about this capacity in my own life. I pray every woman learns it in her life.

You are strong. You are loved.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My New Year Goal

I have thought for a while about a goal for the new year. So many things I could do! Last year, I listened to the Daily Audio Bible every day. I've thought about journaling every day or doing a 365 photo challenge. But really, the thing that has been on my heart a lot is my attachment to things. I love things. I love pretty things. I love old things. I love the potential in run-down things to be re-made into something beautiful. I love fabric. I love books. I love clearance items from Target. I love the million and one items I have inherited from my pack-rat family.

The truth is that things can simply weigh a person down. I have learned this more and more over the years, and yet I look around and realize I have too many things. I don't want to let go of them. I make excuses. They sit in cupboards and boxes and crawl spaces waiting for the day when their potential will be realized. But when is that day exactly?

Source: Uploaded by user via AK Sarah on Pinterest  

As my "nesting" has kicked in like crazy in these last weeks of pregnancy, I find myself pouring over pictures of houses on Houzz and Pinterest. And I suddenly realized something: there is absolutely nothing cohesive about my belongings. They are seriously all over the map in style, color, etc. I collect things because I like them, because they are pretty to me. But the reality is that I like a WIDE variety of stuff. And half of them sit in storage because they don't go with anything else I own. Seriously.

So, my goal this year (which works well considering we will be packing and moving!) is to develop a personal style and then cull out things that don't fit. I am going to have to develop a certain ruthlessness. I seriously started collecting stuff on eBay at 12. But my tastes and needs have changed a lot since then. And they are about to change again. It is time to stop playing and truly commit to the idea that less is often more.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)

A New Year Begins

This year is full of new beginnings for me.

This year will bring a new lifestyle: my last day on the job is Friday! Then it will be stay-at-home mom life for me.

This year will bring a new baby: only 18 days until she is due to be born! I'm thrilled and terrified.

This year will bring a new home: I have lived in Alaska my entire life (excepting college in Virginia and England), but this year my Air Force husband will be getting orders for a new base. We won't know where until May and we'll be there by August!

It has been a while since I have consistently kept a blog. And I am making no promises to consistency now. But as I approach a year of intense transition in my life, I find myself wanting to document it in a way that I hope helps encourage others. There was a time in my life when change terrified me. I cried tears asking why things couldn't just stay the same. As He has taught me more and more about life and His own constant faithfulness, change has ceased to bring fear with it. I still struggle with worry sometimes. I wonder often what things will look like in a year. But I know God is faithful, and I trust that He will lead us where we need to be.

I don't want to commit myself to a certain style or frequency of post on here. It is more a place to document new life. Within that umbrella, I will probably post a rather eclectic assortment of things! I am imagining posts will include craft projects, thoughtful ponderings, pictures, scripture, etc. Whatever strikes my fancy, really!

I hope that it is a fruitful exercise in celebrating new life.