Living with intentionality and an update on my goals.

This last weekend, we completed our second successful road trip! We’ve taken others with the littles, but the travel time was not so ….”successful”. Our magic button this time was the DVD player gifted to us by friends, that kept them calm for our 6 hours in the car Saturday. My husband and I actually got to…..(gasp) talk! This gives hope for future road trips. 🙂

One of the things we discussed is how our baby will soon be too big for her bassinet, and need to move in with her siblings. How can my baby be this big already? I wish the house would just clean itself so I could snuggle the littles all day everyday as they grow way too fast!

The problem with her growing so fast is we currently don’t have room for another bed. We have two small rooms for the two kiddos which also function as the office and nursery. So some creative arranging and downsizing must happen within a month or two. Eeek! This is definitely my area to grow in! I’m not good at letting go of things. It also means I must be focused with how I spend time, as daily life must be juggled with preparing for this next stage.

I love this verse from our Bible study this week 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” A sound mind refers to a secure, sound, disciplined, calm, self-controlled, prioritized mind. Definitely what I need with these littles and preparing for each stage of their development! Did you also notice that it says “God has not given us a spirit of fear”? Remember, my word this year is courage, courage to act or speak what is right without fear of approval. I ‘waded into the waters’ with speaking at our last mom’s group, and next week I’ll take another step as I share the devotional to start our meeting. I’m excited and nervous this group is still new to me. God is so faithful to bless those steps when we obey. Last week at our co-op, I got to pray with a mama who was doing some medical testing the next day. Life is too short to live quietly, without making deep connections with those around us.

Here’s an update on my goals this year:

1. Read 12 books this year (honestly if I can make it to 10, I’ll consider it a win)

Update: I finished Cozy Minimalist Home and Peter Pan.

I’m currently reading Sacred Holidays by Becky Kiser. It definitely makes you think about holiday expectations, and living intentionally and with grace. I need to read faster though! There’s three books in route to me that I couldn’t resist!

2. Explore the alphabet with my preschooler: our “preschool” takes different forms through the seasons. Sometimes we do letters, but through the holiday season we’ve read a ton of books.

Update: We’ve been working through our letters with practice sheets, videos and games. Today we were working on letter I.

3. Identify 5 plants/tracks: I think it would be amazing to be able to go on our nature hikes and …..gasp….name what I’m looking at. But, alas! I have no idea. So I ordered this book based on a recommendation from a friend.

Update: Now, the trick to being able to identify things is… I have to read the books. (sigh, there’s never enough time to read all the books I want) Hopefully this summer I can practice identifying plants/animal prints.

4. Get rid of 50 things:

Update: I have a box in my closet where I stick things to donate. It has a couple items in there.

5. Learn to make more things from scratch.

Update: So far I’m learned to make yogurt, bread in the dutch oven, homemade cream of chicken soup, and my husband has made pretzels. I’ll have to share those photos in another post.

6. Prepare for secret project

7. Blog/writing (I have ideas…but life seems to take all my time)

Update: At least I’m writing each week…mostly. It definitely is life giving to be able to write.

8. Finish 2nd kids baby book and do the 3rd kid’s book

9. Clean out freezer and use up pantry (you know all those unmarked surprise dishes you find in the back of your freezer? yah….)

Update: I’ve been using up containers from the freezer, and tossed some things out today. My husband has been watching YouTube videos of a British chef which has inspired us to be more creative with our meal plans.

10. Do 10 projects with the little ones.

Update: We haven’t done anything big yet, besides our ‘school time”, nature journals, and birthday/Valentines day cards.

How about you? Where have you used courage lately? Have you made progress on a goal? I’d love to hear! Please comment below!

Sojourning together,

Felicia

Advertisements

2nd book of the year and breath your own oxygen first.

I’m feeling hopeful for completing my reading goal this year. Especially, since I just downloaded our library’s reading apps which give you access to tons of e books and audio-books that you can “check out” without even leaving your house! I just finished reading/listening to Peter Pan, the original version. It is sooooo not like the Disney version!

I was surprised by the violence in the book, and honestly read parts of it very fast hoping my preschooler would miss those details. We are doing a book study for our co-op, and have some fun activities planned to celebrate reading the book as a group.  (ideas for character costumes anyone?)  But us moms learned a lesson: Review the book before choosing it for our group book. I ended up listening to the rest of it, then telling my kiddo a summery of each chapter. I think we’ll watch the movie before the party to gain a better picture of the whole story, without the violence and extensive details. The original version is very, very, very detailed and can get kind of long to read especially in the first couple chapters. That being said, it was interesting to note some things about human nature: most all of the characters longed for a mother to care for them (even if they were tough), we long to be needed, our pride gets in the way of good decisions, and we love adventures.

I’ve been trying to be more disciplined with reading my own books.  Otherwise, I get to the end of a week and realize I’m still on the same page I was last week! 🙂 Life….it has a way of sneaking past us!  One of the many habits I need to develop is taking a few moments each day for something life giving. In the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy world, it’s called ‘mother culture’.   It’s the idea of reading books, participating in hobbies, etc to feed your mind/heart.

On an airplane, the emergency instructions remind us to put on our own oxygen mask first before assisting others with theirs. If we don’t have that supply going, we won’t last long to help others.  Admittedly, I have not done well in this area. It’s so easy to run around busy, caring for everyone’s needs while neglecting my own. Then I get to the end of the day, and feel wiped out and cranky. I have nothing left for them, because I spent it all without receiving any input. It’s been so cold here, that I went outside to run my van for 10 minutes so the battery wouldn’t die. When I came in, I commented to my husband that those 10 minutes were the most alone time I had experienced all day. 🙂

Here’s some life giving habits I’m trying to develop:

1. Read Bible/prayer time in morning: this habit has been my daily routine for years.  But as my oldest likes to start the day between 6:30 and 7:15, I’m reminded that this must be FIRST in my day if I hope to have it be a quiet time (without preschool chatter in the background).

2. Drink more water: I’m not good at this. Do you have any tips for me? Today I’m trying out my new fruit infuser water bottle and hoping it’s more motivating.

3. SIT DOWN to eat lunch with my kiddos, instead of snacking while I continue house projects. This calms my mind (pausing for a moment) and feeds my belly.

4. Choose something ‘life-giving’ as soon as the 3rd kiddo goes to sleep. The margin of time between getting the last kiddo to lay down for a nap, and when the 1st kiddo wakes up from their nap (also known as the ‘magic hour’), can be short. So if I want to do anything ‘life-giving’ (write, read, organizational project, etc), I must be intentional with that time.

How about you?  What personal habits or boundaries do you have to make sure you are not running on empty? Please share!

Sojourning together,

Felicia

Making “all the things”: yogurt and dutch oven bread

Since one of my goals this year was to learn to make “all the things”, I wanted to share a couple of things I’ve been learning this year. There’s so many diets, food plans, ‘magic tricks’, and promises of this or that out there.  It’s all confusing and sometimes contradictory to each other. I decided my food goal is to to eat real food. You know, the kind that you can grow or raise.  The kind that God made, not the kind grown in a factory and that has a really long unpronounceable name. 🙂

One thing I’m super excited about is learning to make my own yogurt! And it’s super simple.

Tools:

Pressure Cooker with yogurt function

Thermometer

Ingredients:

1 gallon of milk

4 tablespoons of starter (plain yogurt with active cultures) (I use the leftover whey from the previous batch for mine, so I use more)

Dump the milk into the pressure cooker. Press the yogurt button to it turns to boil mode. When it beeps, check the temperature to make sure it reaches 180 degrees. (I use the saute function afterwards to help it reach 180 since my boil mode doesn’t go that hot). Then remove the lid and let it cool down to about 110 degrees. This will take around an hour. Whisk in the starter, put the lid on, and press the yogurt button.

Walk away and come back in 8 hours for yogurt.  If you want greek style yogurt, then you can strain it with a dishtowel or cheese cloth to separate the yogurt and the whey.  Pureed fruit makes great toppings for homemade yogurt!

A gallon of yogurt costs me $2 and I can pronounce all the ingredients!

(pictured: homemade yogurt and dutch oven bread)

If you want easy bread that doesn’t require any kneading or a bread machine, then dutch oven bread is for you. It reminds me of the bread from those Italian restaurants that you dip in the olive oil mixture. It has a tougher crusty texture, perfect for dipping in sauces.

This recipe came from A Mindful Mom, but you could probably google many different variations of it.

Tools:

Ingredients:

2 cups of warm water

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of yeast

3 3/4 cups of whole wheat flour

Mix all the ingredients together and let it sit in a covered bowl overnight for 12-18 hours. In the morning, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and place the dutch oven inside to preheat. Dump the dough on a floured surface, and shape into a ball. When your oven and dutch oven are preheated, drop the dough in the center of the dutch oven, and place it in the oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 20 more minutes. Remove from the oven, and let cool before serving.

The most magical part of cooking and baking is seeing your little ones enjoy your creation. Last night, my son was dunking his dutch oven bread in his homemade chicken dumpling soup. 🙂

How about you? What are you experimenting with in the kitchen? Or what new food did you try at a restaurant this week?

Comment below and let me know!

The way to big things is little steps

The way to big things is little steps….but oh, how those steps are tiresome!  I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but it’s been on my mind again. I want big things!  No, I don’t have dreams of climbing mountains (though the view would be amazing) or founding my own corporation.  My goals are a little more…..plain.

Honestly, the biggest goal each day is to survive with all the littles and pets in a healthy condition, and to not have the house torn apart when my husband gets home. And then if I have time for something extra, I’ll attempt something from the goal list for the week. But survival…that is the basic goal. 🙂

This last week, it was so cold in our house due to below zero weather, that we were baking, cooking, pressure cooking etc to warm things up.  My kiddos love “helping” me bake, so I had a step stool and kid seat situated so they could be up at the counter. Dumping in ingredients and mixing it up are their favorite parts. This time I let them put muffin batter “into” the muffin pans. Notice that I said “into”…because when you give a two year old a spoon and tell him to put the batter “into” the pan….it will go everywhere on  the pan in his attempt to get it into the pan! All the while he’ll keep telling you in his sweet little voice…”Make! Make!”

Honestly, my husband questioned (and the thought crossed my mind) if it was worth it to let the kids help make the muffins due to all the mess that ensued. But the way to big things is little steps. If I want my kiddos to be capable helpers in the kitchen as they get older, then it starts with learning basic steps now. Stir gently, put the batter in the pan, pour slowly, and lots of waiting.

We all want to be the big ones, the ones people write stories about. But do we ever stop to think about how much little is in the big?  How many stones had David practiced throwing since he was a little boybefore his famous stone hit the big giant?  How much time did Mozart or Bach practice before anyone knew who they were? How many normal, everyday people impacted the lives of George Washington, Martin  Luther King Jr., and Billy Graham over the course of their lives to help them achieve great things?

The way to big things is through little steps.

 

If I want my little ones to be able to care for their own homes someday, then I let my toddler drag the kid size broom around “sweeping”.  I have them help put away the kid dishes, set the table, put away laundry, etc. Clearly, it’s much faster, neater, quieter, and less stressful if I do it myself. But if I don’t allow for the time consuming little steps to happen, the big goals will never be achieved.
If I want to finish 10-12 books this year, I need to read this page today. If I want to lose the postpartum weight, then today I’ll eat some vegetables. If I want to grow in knowing God more, then today I’ll read my Bible. If I want follow Jesus’ path for my life, then today I’ll ask Him what He wants me to do.
When I taught school, we celebrated each small bit of growth as a big accomplishment. There’s a lot of little steps between counting to ten, and double-digit division. We had to break it down into small steps, that built on each other until you reached the big goal. Each small accomplishment meant you were further down the track to where you needed to be.
Life’s greatest achievements are broken into a series of little steps and small acts combined with perseverance. So often I feel overwhelmed looking at the big picture and wondering how I’ll ever get there. But the secret isn’t some magical program you can buy off the shopping channel.  It’s in small steps combined with great perseverance.  It’s in faithfully doing the mundane.

PS. Those muffins turned out great!  So I’m hoping that the kids’ character will turn out just as wonderful with time. 😉  Little steps, guys….little steps.

Goals

I love this quote from my new planner!

I have so many ‘wishes’, bucket lists, ‘some days’….(whatever you’d like to call them) that I can’t make plans for all of them because there just isn’t physically enough time for them. There’s also the danger of wanting to do all the things, so I don’t actually do anything well. Goals are tricky things.  You have to make it high enough to have something to aim for while making it attainable. We have to “know our limits“.

This year, I’m trying something different. I’m trying to do a list of specific goals and keep track of my progress. But my view of goals is very grace filled. 🙂  I’m going to set a goal and if I get anywhere in range, I’ll count that as a success.  See???  Lot’s of grace!  With all the littles and the pets around here, you have to have breathing room on your goals.   I’m also going to try reporting back on progress, so I’m accountable for it.

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.

Les Brown

1. Read 12 books this year (honestly if I can make it to 10, I’ll consider it a win)

This month I read  Cozy Minimalist Home  by Myquillyn Smith.  Loved it! You can read my review of it here. I’m currently reading Sacred Holidays by Becky Kiser.  It definitely makes you think about holiday expectations, and living intentionally and with grace. 

2. Explore the alphabet with my preschooler: our “preschool” takes different forms through the seasons. Sometimes we do letters, but through the holiday season we’ve read a ton of books and maxed out the reserve limit at the library multiple times. (When they have over 300 Christmas books for little ones, you have to check out a lot to narrow down your list of favorites for next year) 🙂 Her new favorite thing is books with CD’s so she can follow along with the story instead of waiting around for me to read.

3. Identify 5 plants/tracks: I think it would be amazing to be able to go on our nature hikes and …..gasp….name what I’m looking at. But, alas! I have no idea. So I ordered this book based on a recommendation from a friend.

Tree Finder by May Theilgaard Watts

 

And these ones Winter Tree Finder by May Theilgaard Watts,

 Flower Finder by May Theilgaard Watts,

Track Finder by Dorcas Miller.

Now, the trick to being able to identify things is… I have to read the books. (sigh, there’s never enough time to read all the books I want) Hopefully this summer I can practice identifying plants/animal prints.

4. Get rid of 50 things

Update: I passed on 1 cookbook in a book swap.

5. Learn to make more things from scratch.

Update: So far I’m learned to make yogurt, bread in the dutch oven, homemade cream of chicken soup, and my husband has made pretzels.  I’ll have to share those photos in another post.

6. Prepare for secret project

7. Blog/writing (I have ideas…but life seems to take all my time)

8. Finish 2nd kids baby book and do the 3rd kid’s book

9. Clean out freezer and use up pantry (you know all those unmarked surprise dishes you find in the back of your freezer? yah….)

10. Do 10 projects with the little ones.

I’ll be posting some progress updates on Instagram so be sure to check out that page. How about you?  What are your goals or dreams for this year?  Comment below so we can cheer each other on.  Remember….grace filled. Make it something that is attainable and life giving. And if there is any way I can help, please let me know.

Sojourning together,

Felicia

(may contain affiliate links which do not affect purchase price)

1st book of the year and my word for the year

The last couple years, I set the goal of completing twelve books (not including the million children’s books I read). Last year was a busy year with being sick a lot and having a baby, and I didn’t meet my goal. But I’m hopeful this year I’ll be much closer to the goal!  I just finished Cozy Minimalist Home  by Myquillyn Smith and loved it! It’s a home decor book, so way out of my usual genre. I skimmed her first book (The Nesting Place) last year, and appreciated her practical approach to decorating. Let me tell you, this second book was even more spot on. I posted a number of quotes on Instagram (follow me @sojourner_by_his_grace)  that hit the spot. I looooved the section on being a home cultivator and not a stuff organizer.

“A curator always keeps in mind the overall goal and purpose of a space. She knows there are many good and beautiful things that can be included in a space, but she always keeps the interests of her people at the forefront when making her choices. That’s all design is-making rational, informed decisions about the best things to use in your home based on your needs and personal preferences. We need homes that truly serve us and our families..” Our homes serving us, not us serving our homes.

We often collect more and more things in an effort to create the beauty we long for. Or we are ashamed of our space, because it’s “not ready”.  In this book, she encourages us to find the balance between the cozy and the minimal.  Both require courage. The courage to purge unnecessary items to allow your space to breath and the courage to finish a room (good enough counts as done).

Speaking of courage, do you ever pick a ‘Word for the Year’?  I’ve never joined that group until this year and so far I’m doing great with my words…..in January. We’ll see how long I follow through with this. 🙂  The idea is to pick a word or phrase  that sums up how you want to develop as a person that year. People may choose  words like rest, trust, excellence, faith, grace, basic, yes (to more adventures) etc. At first I thought my word was balance, because I’m constantly trying to find the balance between kids/spouse, chores/rest, healthy eating/easy meals, etc. But somehow I don’t think I’m ever going to find the perfect balance. Life is like a teeter-totter where you stand with one foot on each side of the middle bar and keep adjusting your feet to keep it “balanced”. It requires constant movement to be perfectly balanced.

Through some events and personal reflection, it became clear that ‘courage’ was actually my goal. Far too often I live with a fear of missing out or a fear of what others think. As a mom, there’s also the constant fear that I’m not doing a good enough job. These hinder my ability to create a healthy balance in my life and for my family. Instead of choosing what is ‘best’, I may choose something out of need for approval. Or I may make a choice out of fear I won’t have enough later.

This year as I keep that word ‘courage’ in mind, I want to develop courage to do what is best for my family despite fears that it won’t measure up in other people’s eyes. This courage will also place my/our needs above my fear of missing out on all the cool stuff everyone else does (I’m super sure everyone else is always doing super cool stuff all the time) :-).  I also need courage to speak up or share out of my comfort zone. This year, I joined a local mom’s group which gives my kiddos the opportunity to get to know other kids, and I get some adult time. Two different meetings I felt the urge to speak up, but didn’t because this group is new to me. Afterwards, I felt so frustrated with myself! I need courage to be obedient to share what’s on my heart.

How about you? What lesson are you wanting to learn this year? Have you ever picked a word for the year?

Blessings,

Felicia

Know your limits

I wish I was a super hero….. young and with unlimited time and energy.  I have such big dreams for what I want to accomplish each week, but I fall short of those goals every time. This last week I’ve been especially mindful of my new personal limits.  From Sunday through Wednesday, I had pretty rough headaches which were (I think) still part of my recovery from having this cute little baby . Then Tuesday, I invited a friend over to bake cookies and bread with us. I was such a mess with a bad headache, trying to care for the baby, help the crying toddler, bake/decorate cookies, bake bread, and entertain my guest. It all turned out fine and everyone had fun, but I was exhausted! At the end of the day, I told my husband “I’m realizing my limits are lower than they used to be.”

In order to say “yes” to the best things, you have to say “no” to other things. And because I’ve said ‘yes’ to three beautiful children, I have to say ‘no’ to other good things.  I don’t have the mental capacity or time to do it all. With each little one I have, and family activity we commit to, my limits for other activities decrease.

We each have limits that fluctuate through the seasons and years.  Sickness, moves, having a baby, being exhausted from toddlers, caring for aging family members, time sensitive projects, emotionally rough seasons…..all of this affects our limits on what we can say ‘yes’ to.

This doesn’t make me a bad mom. Though I often feel like it because I can’t keep up with all the books to read, learning activities I should be doing, etc.  (If I can just keep up with the dishes, I’ll be happy!) I recently compared myself with someone else who started a project similar to mine, and felt like a loser because of her success rate.  Until I realized that it wasn’t our ability, but rather what we had chosen to say ‘yes’ to. My strongest ‘yes’s’ will always be to my family and keeping my littles at home.  Because of this, I can’t say ‘yes’ to as much, nor be able to give as much time to my personal projects. This makes me a better mom, better friend, better person to know my limits and not allow myself to needlessly run to the point of exhaustion (though there will still be moments).

This Christmas, and really….all year round, instead of comparing our holiday or our regular days with some invented standard and feeling frustrated with not measuring up. Let’s rejoice in our ‘yes’s’, and do our best to fulfill them.

For some who have recently lost someone, that may mean taking a break from holiday festivities this year. For me, it means less cards sent, less baking, less pretty packages (that will get ripped open by toddlers if left unsupervised), and more time spent creating memories.

Let’s choose the best yes’s, know our limits, and be ok with the no’s.  Let’s do our best at what is most important, and let the rest go.

Merry Christmas!  May your weekend be peaceful and full of the wonder of His birth and time with dear ones.

Quick moments of slow

I can hardly believe that Christmas is in a week and a half!  Do you feel like I do that it seems so far away, then ‘Bam!’ it’s next week?  I think Christmas may just carry through January for us, because there’s no way we can read all the Christmas books or do all the Advent activities I want to before then.

I started out this Advent season with many dreams of the books we would read, crafts done, and activities experienced together.  But then….you guessed it….life happened. We have read books, and made a couple crafts, but there have been many hurried mornings where there wasn’t time to count our advent chain or read our books. Diapers, breakfast, the dog or crying children demand my attention, and leave little room for advent dreams.

My unrealistic, idealist dream would be to spend all next week in my jammies, reading Christmas books, baking, and doing crafty things. But reality?  There’s still grocery shopping, laundry and dishes (especially if we bake), and house cleaning (that I skipped this week, so I can’t really skip next week).  The toddler and preschooler will still fight, and diapers will need to be changed. Reality is a lot messier than my dream week.

But reality makes the quick moments of slow even more special. When we squeeze in a craft, it’s a brief moment to pause.  Like coming up for air or taking a sip of cold water on a hot day. It’s what makes the messy diapers, the potty training accidents, the tantrums, and exhaustion worth it. When we can slowdown together to remember our Savior coming to join us in our messy world.

Can I let you in on a secret? Some of my favorite moments of the day are when the baby refuses to sleep just yet, and I get to snuggle her after everyone else has gone to sleep….and it’s quiet…perfectly quiet. Everything is still, and holy, and I just get to ‘be’ in that moment and smell her sweet little head. The Christmas lights give off a special glow in the late night hours. But those moments don’t last forever, as I’m usually quiet tired and need to head to bed.  The alarm will go off early even if I’m up late.

What’s your quick moment of slow?  Perhaps it’s to pause to drink your cup of tea each afternoon.  Or your morning walk, or listening to Christmas songs while you do the dishes.  Perhaps you also sit for a few moments to enjoy the lights, and reflect your blessings.

These quick moments remind us that there is more than the hustle and business of work and housework.  There are people to love, events to celebrate, blessings to give thanks for, a world to explore, and a Savior born here for us.

A sweet friend wisely shared this week that we all have “Instagram worthy” moments, it’s just a matter of seeing them the right way.  I don’t know about you, but I often long for the quiet peaceful moments  and festive activities I see on my Instagram account.   But reality is, those pictures were probably taking in just as messy of a setting as my own household, but they applied a filter to the photo to bring out the beauty of it. Today we made gingerbread cookies, and baked the pieces to make a gingerbread house later. It was a messy process multitasking the dough, the crying toddler, the barking dog, and timing the baking just right. But if you looked closely, past the noise, the smelly trash can, and toddler crys…..there was an “Instagram moment” where daddy and daughter worked together to cut out tiny gingerbread trees.

As we count down the days till Christmas, may you have many quick moments of slow. Moments where you slow down, even for a five minute moment, to just enjoy the season, lights, and ponder our Savior’s birth again. As you sip your hot chocolate, remember your blessings.

This year I’m thankful for little ones who rejoice in all the activities, a husband who grants my holiday wishes, and my Savior who lovingly came to live in our mess so we can go live with Him one day.

Merry Christmas!

Felicia

P.S. I read through this book and enjoyed it!

The Nesting Place (affiliate link)

It’s all about making your home welcoming, and creating a simple beautiful space for people to come and relax. You don’t need fancy furniture or upscale decorations.  Just simple items arraigned to create a place of rest.

When your Advent season is kinda messy….

I’ve been super excited to add to our Christmas activities this year as our daughter is old enough to understand it’s Jesus’ birthday, loves books, knows presents are coming, loves any sort of craft/baking/etc that we can do. We made an advent ‘Names of Jesus’ countdown paper chain, and we are reading tons of books from the library.  The library has so many Christmas books, that I seriously think we’ll be reading Christmas books all through January.

But Advent can be kinda messy.  It’s spent reading through one of our Christmas books, while simultaneously feeding the baby, giving more bread to the toddler, and trying to sneak in my own breakfast. It’s spent reading our nightly ‘Jesse Tree’ story while trying to keep the book out of a snotty toddlers hands. It’s spent explaining to a bawling preschooler that the reason you aren’t putting the shepherd out with the nativity set yet, is that she gets to look for him each morning along with our book/activity for the day. (yes, she really did have a come apart when she saw he was missing).  At times, I wonder if it’s worth the work put in to celebrate Advent.

This Advent season is messy.

I spent this morning at a memorial service for a beloved mom of five, who lost her life to cancer. She lived her life fully to the end, and was not afraid to die because she knew Jesus was waiting for her.  But she left behind her heartbroken husband of over 25 years. five children, and family and friends.  Everyone was brought to tears by the touching eulogy her husband wrote and shared for her.

This Advent season is messy.

But, wasn’t Jesus’ “Advent season” messy too? He spent it in a cow’s feeding trough, with animals all around. Born in an animal shelter because no one had space for him. His party guests included the shepherds fresh from the field (like they probably smelled of sheep and field). In less than 2 years, he would have to flee for his life from the king right after receiving grand gifts from foreign travelers.  Jesus knows all about ‘messy advents’.  He came to earth to be in our mess. Jesus came to set people free from the mess of sin, and to restore all the broken messes of the past. He came to bring new life, and a hope that surpasses all the messes of this world.  Jesus specializes in messes, and restoring messed up people.

So this advent season, whether you are in the middle of diaper changes, puke clean ups, and potty training, or whether you are reeling with difficult news that you never expected…remember that messes are Jesus’ specialty. He restores us from the messes of our past, and he walks us through the messes of our present. Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation. Anticipating Christmas with all its festivities, laughter, food and gifts.  But an even greater anticipation of Jesus’ return to rescue us from our mess and take us to be with Him forever.

Advent can be messy……but Jesus specializes in redeeming broken messes.

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Rev. 22:20

Savor

This last weekend we celebrated “Thanksmas”, our Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday joined together since not everyone will be able to travel back for Christmas.  The kids are enjoying their new toys and we are thankful for the new memories made as our family grows. Our holidays used to be quieter without the younger 5 grandchildren, but we are so thankful for them. Holidays are now spent differently, with kids constantly interrupting conversations, and diapers needing to be changed. Meals are a lot more “active” with five little ones around the table. Thankfully, we were able to simultaneously nap at least 3 of the 5 younger kiddos so the guys could squeeze a board game into our magical “quiet hour”. 🙂

As we are still cleaning up from Thanksgiving and preparing to take down the fall decor and make way for Advent starting this weekend, the word that comes to mind is ‘savor’. Too easily, I get busy with all that needs to be done and I forget to simply savor that moment. This last weekend, I was thankful to have many moments with my sister in-law while our children played together. We only see them twice a year, so I ‘savored’ those conversations.

(my mom’s beautiful pantry)

I also savored the moments with my mom and sister spent in the kitchen preparing food for all of us, or cleaning up the never ending pile of dishes. Those moments are what make the depth of relationship.  My brother, in commenting on some changes we’ve made since adding in more kiddos, said something worth remembering. He said it’s not the place we meet, but the people that are the main thing. It’s easy to focus on the activities or space around us and miss the people.

Everyday, I read bedtime stories at least once or twice, but today I noted the soft hand of my toddler resting on mine while I read. Everyday, I feed my baby multiple times, but today I worked on making her smile afterwards. This weekend is the beginning of Advent, and I’m super excited to start reading our huge pile of Christmas books from the library, read our “Names of Jesus” countdown chain each day, put up our Jesse Tree ornaments, and our try out our DIY Shepherd on the Search.  My goal is to ‘savor’ this season with the excitement of a three year old.  Which, if you know a three year old, is pretty intense.

How do you plan to ‘savor’ this season or the time spent with people around you?