7 lessons in 7 years: part 2

Since last time’s post went much longer than I expected, here are the remaining three lessons. If you didn’t read that one, you can find it here.

5. Find out what’s most important to the other person. This could be in figuring out their love language. It could also mean what’s most important to them in caring for the house. It’s also figuring out what’s most annoying to them if it doesn’t happen, then make sure it does! 🙂 My husband is a great chef, but is highly bothered by mess. So he’s totally fine with cooking supper each night, as long as I keep the kitchen in decent shape so he has space to work.  Each person has a different way they receive value and different priorities for family life.

6. Listen to God. The biggest piece of marriage advice I would give anyone is listen to the Holy Spirit. Over and over again in the middle of a frustrating conversation, one of us takes a breather then comes back to apologize. You’ll often find me stepping into another room, or silently praying for help when things get tense. More often than not, my heart is softened and my half of the problem is pointed out by the Holy Spirit. I’ve also learned that I don’t need to point out his wrongs. If I leave it be, I can trust Jesus to change his heart as well. The key is I have to listen.  The Spirit is waiting to convict, soften hearts, and restore…but I have to be ready to hear it and act on it.

7. Celebrate with Cherry Coke! He proposed to me over Cherry Coke (like he seriously drove us to town to buy Cherry Cokes and back to my parents house again, so he could get over his nerves to ask me to marry him), and Cherry Coke was a requirement in our hospital bag for our first baby. It’s our ‘go to’ when the kids get stressful, and it was a staple for date night (until we started trying to be healthy).  Find something that is ‘your thing’.  Something that is part of your culture as a couple/family.

 

I dream big dreams and I want big growth/progress moments. But what I’m learning in life is also true in marriage. Small repeated actions lead to health. Brushing my teeth daily, working out for 30 minutes most mornings, drinking water, choosing a salad…….they aren’t really ‘fun’ but they support my bigger goals.  In marriage, small repeated actions that speak value to the other person provides the strength needed to keep saying “I do” even on the sleepless nights when all the kids are up in the night, and everyone is grumpy.

Here’s to saying “I do” everyday through small ordinary actions.

Sojourning together,

Felicia

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7 lessons in 7 years

This last week we celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. Time goes so fast!  Our lives are full, often tired, but so very thankful!  I feel like many movies focus on the sappy drama of meeting someone new or the sad drama of losing someone. But there so much day to day life that happens in between. Laughter, sadness, frustration, joy and….yes….even arguments. So here’s my contribution to the beauty of everyday life. Here’s 7 lessons learned in 7 years of marriage. Though I’m sure there are many others, this is just what came to mind.

1. The power of doing the little things: My husband lives for his cup of coffee in the morning.  Believe me…..you don’t disturb that first cup while he sits on the couch waking up. Tomorrow I’m heading out for a retreat, and he has bravely determined he will watch our littles on his own for the day. I know in order for it to be a successful morning….there must be coffee.  So I’ve already prepped the coffee maker for him tomorrow. I don’t need to have a banner fly behind a plane, or buy an expensive gift, or grill him specialty steaks (he’s better at grilling anyway) in order for him to feel loved and cared for. He hears it when I prep the coffee, plan the dinner, sweep the floor or do the dishes.

Often he’ll come home from work with some treat he knows I like or he’ll make sure to do the dishes (because he knows I hate dishes).  Little things speak volumes.  I read a story once where a man pinpointed the downfall of his marriage to him deciding he was tired of making the morning coffee for his wife.  When he decided to neglect that chore, she decided she didn’t feel like packing his lunch anymore. Each action led to another until all the subtle messages of love and support were gone, and their marriage fell apart.

My husband is a capable man and can make coffee, clean the house and cook amazing food. But when I’m faithful in the little things, he hears the message that his success and comfort are top priorities to me.

2. Own your wrong first: This last weekend, we kept joking that we have had “7 years of marital bliss, with nary an angry word between us!”.  As anyone who knows us can attest, we are not quiet people.  And we are human with our own personalities.  Miscommunication and arguments are bound to happen.

 But the key is owning your own wrongdoing first. 

When we each clean up our own part of the mess first, there’s not much left to argue over.  When the health of the relationship is your top goal, it makes it much easier to quickly admit where you are wrong. (Note: I didn’t say it was ‘easy’, I said it was easier.)

3. Share household responsibilities in accordance with each person’s gifts and personal preferences: My husband loves cooking and he’s very good at it, so often he’s in charge of that while I watch the kids, clean the kitchen etc. He hates painting and I don’t mind it.   So it was a relief to both of us when he gave that task to me! 🙂  He no longer needed to worry about it, and I didn’t have to nag or wait until he got around to repainting the bathroom or kitchen trim.  If possible share tasks based on preferences.

4. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk talk….(do you get the idea?): I know when my phone rings that it’s my husband…. usually because hardly anyone else calls me. But mostly because he makes it a point to call me each day mid-morning when he’s on his 15 min walk, and sometimes in the afternoon on the way back from lunch. We text throughout the day, and he’s the first person I want to share anything with .

When you stop talking, you stop getting to know someone. 

I’ve heard many stories of empty nesters who find themselves with nothing in common, because they didn’t keep talking. Clearly talking after having kids isn’t as easy as before.  Little interruptions to the conversation are running around the living room. Conversations require creativity. Sometimes they happen during supper prep, or after the kids are dismissed from the meal. They may happen during the 10 minute phone call in the morning, or after the kids are in bed. Or simply through a series of text messages during the day. We also like doing Marco Polo videos….mostly to share the chaos of the day with my husband who sits in his quiet cubicle all day. 🙂

Ooops! This post is going way longer than I was planning….so I’ll close with only 4 lessons and continue with the rest next time.

Remember to keep talking with those you care about. 🙂

Sojourning together,

Felicia

Midyear Goals update

I feel like summer took forever to start and now it is rushing by!  My husband just had his monthly manager meeting today, and I said “All ready? I feel like you just had one!” We just celebrated Father’s Day and it’s already the weekend again. Time flies when you have three little ones running and scooting at tornado speed and making just as much of a mess!  The phrase “Trying to clean house with little ones is like trying to sweep during a tornado” is so true!

Our 7 year wedding anniversary is coming up and we’ve often thought about how much has changed in those 7 years. The most obvious change is that we used to sleep, eat hot food, and go places whenever we wanted. I hear through the grapevine that we’ll get to do those three things again when they get older. 🙂  But for now, with my cold food and cup of coffee, I’m just going to enjoy their antics, imaginary adventures, and curiosity about the world.

Goals:

1. Read 12 books this year

Update: I finished Cozy Minimalist HomePeter PanSacred HolidaysAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle , Farmer Boy,and Faith.

 I’m currently reading The Life Giving Parent by Clay and Sally Clarkson, Mother Culture by Karen Andreola, The Middle Matters by Lisa Jo Baker, and The Prairie Homestead Cookbook by Jill Winger (this one is part cookbook/part beginning homestead book….and I LOVE it!)

The Middle Matters is a prerelease copy of Lisa-Jo Baker’s newest book. I LOVED her other two books Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood, and was eager to read this one. While I haven’t loved it as much as the first two, it is definitely a delightful and inspiring read.  I have highlighted so many quotes and shared them on my Instagram account.  It’s a series of essays on lessons learned in the ‘middle of life’ on parenting, friendship, marriage, hospitality, homemaking, etc. It is written in a very different style than her first two books, but still maintains her insightful perspective on life.

2. Explore the alphabet with my preschooler: Goal completed.

I’ve been thinking on how to develop our “Morning Time” or Morning Meeting. Each day during breakfast, the kids and I read the Bible and pray (between cleaning up messes, grabbing more food, telling the kids not to stand in their chairs…you get the picture). On my ‘good’ days 🙂 I try to add a bit more to it. Currently we’ve been reading the Action Bible which is written as a comic book, Sing a Song of Seasons:a Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year (borrowed from the library), and sometimes a picture book or preschool workbook.

My oldest just got water color paints and a bunch of art supplies for her birthday, so I’ve been trying to encourage her to step out in making things on her own. I’d also love for us both to learn about using water colors and colored pencils to do nature journals (one day……).

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 some books to give me some clues.

Update: Technically…..my goal is completed. But is learning about nature ever a completed goal? I think not. We’ve been enjoying the flowers in our yard lately.

Spiraea

 

Irises

4. Get rid of 50 things:

Update: We now have a couple heaping boxes ready to donate which would totally complete this goal……but they are still waiting here.

5. Learn to make more things from scratch.

Update: We bought an ice cream maker and made oh so yummy mango frozen yogurt!

It only contains pureed mangos, homemade plain yogurt, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. 5 ingredients!  Mmmmm! We bought the freezer bowl ice cream maker version so we don’t have to worry about having ice and salt on hand. We used a recipe from The Prairie Homestead Cookbook or you could use this one from the website.

 

I also made these delicious ham and cheese pockets from my new Prairie Homestead Cookbook!  They were sooo good!  They were fairly easy…..as long as you remember to mix the dough ahead of time so it has time to rise. They also made for an easy leftover lunch the next day.

6. Prepare for secret project:  making progress

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: no updates….just wishful thinking.

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: Mmmm, today I used the leftover butter milk to make buttermilk wholewheat flax seed bread. 🙂  It looks wonderful!

10. Do 10 projects with the little ones.

Update: I’m thinking I need to redefine this goal. We made cereal box guitars with rubber bands so that counts as a “project”.  And today we made a cardboard airplane. But I still feel like our zoo trips, library visits, nature walks, planting the garden, watering the deck plants, riding bikes, visiting the spray park, playing games, and coloring should count for something in this goal…..

How about you? How are you doing with your goals for this year? What’s your next baby step? Remember, the only way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time. (Though I’m not saying you should eat elephants…)

I’d like to close with this thought from one of my favorite podcasts/blogs. “See needs and meet them.”-Risen Motherhood  I taped this phrase above my sink to remind my own heart and to help me as I guide my children in developing servant hearts for those around them.

Is there something that you need? Something you’d like to learn more about or like to read more of? Something you would like me to be praying for you in? Send me a message on Instagram or Facebook, or comment below.

Sojourning with you,

Felicia

When ‘no’ is actually an invitation: replacing discontentment with gratitude

Two weeks ago, while I was putting up the garden fence at our community garden plot, I met a new gardener building her bean trellis. She was glowing with new gardener excitement and she was filled with ambitions, as she told me her story and we talked about what she was planting.  As we talked, I fell prey to the comparison trap and started comparing her grand 1st year garden with my scaled down garden.  Discontentment flooded in as I started feeling the need to haul all my garden stuff in and plant “all the things” like she was doing. Suddenly I wasn’t content with my situation anymore.

But then I remembered the exhaustion of hauling the cucumber wire frames and garden fencing back and forth the last five years to our community garden plot, and the stress of multitasking seed planting and keeping the kids entertained, and the impossibility of taking three little ones there to weed with me (I’m sure I would see my precious vegetables end up in the weed pile because they were being “helpful”).  And I realized that the answer to my big garden dream in this season was truly…..’no’.

As I stopped to listen to God’s still quiet voice, He told me “This ‘no’ to your big plans is not forever.  Soon, your dream will happen.  But in this season you’ll need to set aside that dream. This ‘no’ is actually a ‘yes’. It’s an invitation to what I’ve prepared for you to enjoy in this season.  Because of your simplified plans, you’ll have more time to spend in adventures with your kids.  You can plan summer activities with friends. And you can get things in order for when I grant your dream to you soon.”

As I pulled out my planner and began to write, a list formed of new goals for this summer season. I began to dream of adventures to be had, and projects to be completed that would prepare us for future goals. Instead of discontentment over this ‘no’, gratitude for all the ‘yes’s’ filled me.  Yes, I can get that basement done. Yes, I can makes crafts with my kiddos. Yes, I can plan weekly playdates to soak up our short summer with friends. Yes, I can plan hiking days, zoo days, spray park visits, playground, etc.  Yes, yes, yes……all replaced my ‘no’.

How about you? Is there a ‘no’ to a specific dream you are struggling with? Is God instead inviting you to new dreams in this season? The ‘no’ may not be forever.  But if we get stuck dwelling on it, we’ll miss out on everything He wants to say ‘yes’ to.

The caterpillar wants to keep going on grand caterpillar adventures, but it must go through a season of quietness and transformation before it is ready to soar as a butterfly.

Sojourning with you,

Felicia

Growth hurts

A friend once told me that God answered her prayers by helping her learn to cook and I heard on the Risen Motherhood podcast that God helped her in learning to keep house……

This got me to thinking. If Jesus can part seas, calm storms, multiply bread and fish, raise the dead, etc…….then growing me in the things that weigh on my heart must be doable.  Compared to all that, organizing my laundry room, getting anything accomplished while raising three littles, navigating the energy level of a toddler boy, and keeping the dishes at a maintainable level must be simple…right? So instead of praying for world peace, right now I’m just praying for peace here and that we would be messengers of peace to others. Literally my morning prayers with my kids are “help us to get our jobs done and help us to be a blessing to others”.  Because when you are navigating sibling squabbles, a hungry baby, and a barking dog…only by God’s strength can you accomplish big things.

But the thing about growth, is that sometimes it hurts. Sometimes Jesus has to poke at the time wasters, stinky attitudes, ‘me first’ mentality, and selfishness and pull off all the dead stuff before He can do a new work. Sometimes I just want a moment of mindless scrolling, but then I hear the gentle  reminder of what I need to be doing. And little by little, as I listen to His voice, He pulls the dead stuff off so I can begin to develop new habits of growth. Sometimes that looks like making sure I get up early enough to start the day before the kids, while other times it looks like having the dishwasher ready so my helpful husband can load the supper dishes in. It’s definitely not choosing the easy route!

Sometimes growth is messy. There’s words said, and tension built. There’s tears, prayers, and long conversations. Sometimes you wonder how you’ll ever grow past this hurdle. I don’t have the answers for I wonder the same things for myself.  I especially wonder it as I raise a little “mini me”, a daughter who walks in my footsteps with all the emotions and tendencies. But mess can be cleaned up when the project is done. And I trust the Master Gardener to skillfully work the soil of my life to grow healthy plants….even if it’s messy in the process.

 Sometimes growth can feel isolating. It can feel a bit like having a cozy life of 3 or 4 baby plants all growing in the same container and feeling happy all squished together. Meanwhile, the Master Gardener knows that eventually you will all grow big enough to need your own space, and that what was once a “good fit” for you is now unhealthy.  It can feel isolating and stressful to be ripped out of your place and replanted in a new pot. But it is still…..best.  The Lord knows my optimal growing conditions and what I need to survive. 6 years ago, I stepped down from serving in youth ministry with one of my best friends. It felt a bit like being ripped out of a pot where we were all growing together. But I have totally loved facilitating Women’s Bible Study these last 6 years, which wouldn’t have been possible if I had clung to the sides of my little pot and refused to trust the Master Gardener.

And let me remind you, Jesus raised the dead. Even if you feel like my poor violet whose stem started rotting from the roots up…..Jesus raises the dead. Sometimes, conditions like these call for drastic measures like cutting off the root system and placing the freshly cut crown into new soil inside a miniature greenhouse in hopes of saving the plant. Trust the Master Gardener. He has your best interests in mind.

Wherever you are on your journey, with dead leaves waiting to be cleaned out, feeling isolated in a season of tough growth, or flourishing with hope in a new place, trust the Master Gardener.  He will not neglect his garden or toss you aside. He has plans for you to bloom again though the growth process is painful, messy, isolating, and uncomfortable. Those blooms will seem even more beautiful when you consider the journey you’ve been on.

Sojourning with you,

Felicia

Community: where we can all admit our fears out loud

“Thank you for telling me about the lies you that you tell yourself. Makes me feel less crazy because there’s a lot of lies I often tell myself too”, so went my text message to my dear friend last week. I knew she would understand, as we are to the point where we can really say how we feel about life. And…more importantly….offer truth to combat each other’s inner voices of doubt and lies…..

Community is a word that gets tossed around and can take on very different looks. Community means “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common” or “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals” according to Google dictionary. It can refer to the area you live in, an academic community, spiritual community, or friend group.

Lately, I have felt exhausted and a bit overwhelmed as my kiddos have taken their energy level up a notch and the baby has found the loud volume on her voice box, but she can’t figure out how to turn it back down. 😉 It is tricky to accomplish the house projects I’m trying to do while negotiating world peace between the siblings. It has made me thankful for the community around me.

Community shares the load. This week we had our Farm Day as our book club culminating activity after reading Farmer Boy. Thinking I needed to make a special trip to the store for potatoes for our relay race, I was pleasantly surprised to read that another mama had already picked some up. Then someone else volunteered to bring tortilla chips for my salsa to our ladies gathering that week. Feeling thankful for community, I mentally checked the store off my list and got to finish a much needed project instead.

Community shares in your “crazy”. All to often we believe the lie that we are the only crazy one. Until…we share with someone else and find out they have the same fears or struggles as us. A dear friend faithfully spends her lunch break coming to my house for lunch most weeks. I often tell her “Thanks for being part of our ‘crazy’! I feel like the dog is barking, kids crying, cat puking and I’m exhausted each time she visits. Yet, she doesn’t judge my ‘crazy’, she merely takes a seat, entertains the baby, and we begin to chat about life. This same friend is a welcoming space for all of my crazy thoughts to land. Why do I feel so safe sharing with her? Because she shares her story with me too. Community says “Hey, me too!” and welcomes us into the circle.

From Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book The Middle Matters (affiliate link), she writes, “Hope hinges on the hands willing to grab on to us and pull us back out. This is the antidote to the loneliness of motherhood and the lie that we have failed. This willingness to give other mothers our true stories, especially the ones that don’t always have happy endings.”

Community rejects the lies you are believing. One of the things I appreciate about my husband is his role as my sounding board. Spoken out loud, the words I’ve been repeating in my head don’t sound as scary. He hears the stories I’ve been listening to, and then helps me process if they are valid. Honestly, quite often my ideas are just “dumb” and not worth worrying about. Community speaks truth to your heart and helps you to sort out what to believe.

Community teaches each other. This week I was walking with a friend who doesn’t yet have children. After I described my son’s crazy morning antics, she asked me how we decide when and how to discipline. As I described what we do (and added a disclaimer that it was a work in progress), I began thinking of the many conversations with friends, books read, podcasts listened to, and prayers answered that helped with the formation (an ongoing process) of what we do as parents. Community shares from experience and teaches what they have learned. The Out of the Ordinary podcast reminded me this week that we are “Blessed in order to be a blessing.”

Community requires communication. Often when I’m at my breaking point, I hear the loving rebuke from my husband…”Why didn’t you ask me to help?” I don’t like to bother him as he puts in a full load at his job, but quite simply there are not enough hours to care for the kiddos, clean the house and complete my projects. He is willing to help out but often assumes I have it taken care of unless I ask for help. Sharing the load, joining in your crazy, sorting out lies, and teaching each other all require communication and vulnerability.

Thank you for being part of my community. Thank you for reading the words that spill off this old laptop, whenever I can squeeze it into an afternoon nap time. I am thankful for you.

Sojourning together,

Felicia

Farmer Boy and Faith: two books that inspired me

I just finished reading two more books off my list: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Faith by Chuck Smith. That makes 6 books done this year, but it doesn’t make my wish list of books to be read any smaller. Sigh…..  Though I’ve read more books this year so far than in years past, the stack by my chair keeps getting bigger, along with the stack upstairs, and my Amazon wish list…..while knowing that a dear friend from church also has a whole library with many books that are on my list.  If I could spend my days reading books, nature hiking, and gardening, while taking tea and pumpkin treat breaks that would be lovely!  But alas, real life beckons to me (it often sounds like the dryer buzzing or the toddler crying).  🙂

My kiddos and I read Farmer Boy for our book club, and next week we are going to a farm to visit the goats and chickens! We also get to make butter, plant seeds, do a potato relay race, and book discussion. I’m just hoping it doesn’t rain! It’s been so wet here.

Reading this book makes me dream of a life that’s more in touch with our roots and where things come from. In Almanzo’s time, you couldn’t buy a big bag of nuts from Costco.  You had to go rake the forest, load the wagon, carry them to the barn, and then separate the nut meat from the leaves and shell. Now let me be clear, there are many things I’m quite fine with not doing. I’m OK with buying my clothes instead of raising the sheep, sheering the sheep, preparing the wool, dying the wool, making the material, and making the clothes. I’m also quite thankful for all my kitchen appliances and household machines that make bread making, cooking,  laundry, cleaning etc much faster.

But I really respect their work ethic, family teamwork, self-sufficiency, lack of entitlement, and the character traits that were instilled in the children’s lives.  Almanzo and his siblings learned early on, that only through hard work were you able to have something. They learned delayed gratification, planning for the future (gathering resources for winter), care for others, how money represents work/earned income, and the need to spend their resources wisely.  They lived for something more than their immediate happiness. These character qualities are seriously lacking in our culture and more people should take notes from their way of life.   I hope that through reading good books, and living life together, our littles will develop similar habits.

A group of us are reading Faith in preparation for our church Ladies Retreat this summer. We’ve owned this book for several years, but it had just been collecting dust in our collection. There’s nothing like group peer pressure to motivate your reading! I don’t know how to describe it other than that it examines faith from multiple viewpoints and gives many Biblical examples of people who lived by faith. It’s divided into three sections: The Nature of Faith (what it is), The Look of Faith (Biblical examples), and The Walk of Faith (how to live it out).

These are some of my favorite quotes:

“You must never measure any problem by your ability to handle it. You must measure it by God’s ability to handle it, for He is the One in whom you trust. God is able to do whatever He has promised to do.”

“Your concept of God is limited because you are limited.”

“They were living in the land of promise, but when they looked at the power of the enemy rather than at the power of God, fear gripped their hearts.”

“The Lord did not appear again to Abram until he entered the land of Canaan. His disobedience stalled the work of God in his life.”

“Stepping out in faith may seem like foolishness to a host of skeptical observers, but if God is the One who has inspired your step of faith and you obeyed, you too will find grace in the eyes of the Lord.”

“God keeps His Word. Always.”

So much truth! Very easy to read!  I definitely recommend it!  I’m still torn between highlighting in books or taking notes from books. With this one, I took notes and recorded my favorite parts in my notebook.

What have you been reading lately? Send me a message or let me know in the comments! Remember…..one page at a time.

Sojourning with you,

 Felicia

Book Review and Goals Update

Happy May! With all this wet weather, it’s hard to believe summer is just next month!

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 HomePeter Pan, and Sacred Holidays, and  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I’m currently reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Faith by Chuck Smith, The Life Giving Parent by Clay and Sally Clarkson, and Mother Culture by Karen Andreola.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is the story of one family’s experiment to only eat food from their county for one year (with the exception of coffee, olive oil etc).  It definitely makes you think about the source of your food, the benefits of organic and small farm raised meat and produce, the problems with the typical American diet, and how money (rather than nutrition) often casts the final vote in the food industry.

I liked how the authors emphasized community by gathering products raised by different people in their area and visiting the farmers market. I also appreciated how she encouraged the readers to start somewhere. Raising a tomato plant on your balcony is a step towards eating real food and knowing the quality of it. I don’t plan to only eat food from my county (we love bananas too much), but it did add fuel to some of my dreams that are waiting for the right season to bloom.

While the author clearly has a very different world view, and some parts I had to turn down real low so my kids wouldn’t hear, I appreciated the information provided in the book and the authors’ challenge to think about what we eat.

2. Explore the alphabet with my preschooler: our “preschool” takes different forms through the seasons.

Update: We’ve been doing more nature walks, and paying attention to the flowers, birds, ants, etc we find around us. We are trying to learn the names of the trees and flowers we see in our area. She has also been thinking about what sounds she hears in words, and is able to write her name, mama, and papa.

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 some books to give me some clues.

Update:

After our walk today, I looked up some of the trees and flowers we saw. The crocuses, hyacinths, tulips and blue bells are in bloom now. Pictured above are the crocuses from down the street. I guess I should change my goal from learning 5 to learning “all of them”. 🙂

Our forsythia has been beautiful this year!  It is the first plant to bloom each year so it’s always a welcome ray of sunshine.

Even in the woods, there are early spring flowers. These are called snow drops, and were pointed out by some mamas in our hiking group. I just love God’s attention to detail, making beautiful flowers even in the woods where they are hardly seen by people.

4. Get rid of 50 things:

Update: We tossed 3 armloads in the trash and have two boxes full to donate.

5. Learn to make more things from scratch.

Update:

At the end of this month, we are doing a book party for Farmer Boy, and I’ve been preparing activities connected to the book. Yesterday, we attempted butter making by shaking heavy whipping cream in a small bottle for 6ish minutes.  It separates into buttermilk (which you pour off) and butter.  The little one was excited and ate most of it on her muffins. It didn’t taste as good as store bought butter, but that was probably lack of salt, not rinsing enough butter milk out of it, temperature, etc.

We also made cauli-mash which is a newish (within the last couple years) recipe.  Think of it as healthy mashed potatoes. 🙂 We used riced cauliflower, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, onion, smoked paprika or bacon salt, and the most important part….cream cheese. I dump it all together in the food processor and let it do the magic.

Not food related…..but I like using this recipe to make our laundry soap.  It’s very cost effective and it makes a lot at one time.

6. Prepare for secret project:  making progress

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: no updates….just wishful thinking.

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: nothing exciting to write here.

10. Do 10 projects with the little ones.

Update: Do our daily walks count? We find many “treasures” along our route.

This week I listened to a podcast about our information overload, and our lack of response/action to what we hear/read. It was called the “information-action ratio”.   How much information am I taking in from social media, the news, books, podcasts, etc vs what am I doing to act on it?   Often we allow so much input to come in that it overwhelms us to the point of doing nothing, it makes us numb to what we should be caring about, or we get frustrated trying to do everything we just learned/heard. The two main points were: 1. Be mindful of what input you choose and how much you take in. 2. Do something with your new information. Start small. Remember the way to big things is small steps!

Often in thinking about goals we get overwhelmed and never start. Other people’s projects seem so cool and far beyond anything we could do. But everyone starts somewhere. At the beginning of the year, my goal was learning 5 plants because I had to start somewhere with taking baby steps. But then I kept going and easily passed that goal.

Just wanted to encourage you as you think about your goals for this year. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by all that is left to do. Our focus needs to simply be on ‘what’s the next step?’.

How about you? How are you doing with your goals for this year? What’s your next baby step?

Sojourning with you,

Felicia

It’s OK to just show up.

You know how it goes…..

You’re walking into church, a store, a park….and inevitably someone greets you with “Hey, how are you?”.  Now this isn’t really a question, but more of a longer version of ‘hi’, and people don’t always stick around for the reply.  Sometimes it’s easy to avoid answering, as the person was only politely greeting you as they happened to pass you. But sometimes, they lock eyes and actually wait for the response. Then you have a choice….do you give the expected customary response back? “Great! How are you?” You could always switch it up with ‘Doing fine!’ or ‘Never been better!’.  Or do you actually answer the question?

After a series of Sunday mornings where we were not ‘fine’, I started thinking on this. My response many weeks when someone greets me is often not “Great!”….but “We made it!” Usually my response is received with puzzled looks. But at that moment what I’m most excited about is….we made it and on time!

When I heard their greeting, my mind went to the middle of the night feedings, the littles screaming and running around at 7:30 AM, the cat puking on the floor, the dog leaving muddy footprints across the dining room, changing poopy diapers, my son’s cheerios all over the floor, my daughter’s tantrums that we won’t let her wear summer clothes when it’s 28 degrees out, the frustration with finding an outfit to wear that looks fine after birthing 3 children, the baby crying before taking her mid-morning nap at 9:00 AM…then the rush to get everyone buckled in and in route by 9:45.

So when you ask, “Hello, how are you?” I’m going to answer, “We made it!”  And you’d better be as excited as I am. 🙂

Sometimes just showing up IS the victory.

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 6:13 “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

Life, at times, feels like an escalator. Where unless you are making a constant effort to progress, you’ll inevitably go down. Unless I’m constantly mindful of the dishes and laundry, they will take over my house.  Unless I keep pulling out weeds, they will take over my garden. Many times, the victory is in maintaining. Because maintaining my place on an escalator (without going down) is work! Standing my ground when life throws everything at me is also a lot of work.

Sometimes just showing up IS the victory.

If greeting time were up to me at church, at the Walmart checkout, as you’re leaving the restaurant with the littles successfully in tow, or when you’ve just tucked the last child into bed, there would be a line of people clapping, high-fiving and rejoicing in your victory!

Next time you’re feeling discouraged, remember that standing your ground is a victory in itself. Just show up, do the next thing, and keep taking steps.

Sojourning with you,

Felicia

Your chapter is not the end of your book.

As I sit in my chair while literally everyone is my house is napping (even the cats), I start thinking about how exhausted I am. This last couple weeks have been tiring with the baby’s sleep schedule changing and her being more fussy, added to the increased energy level of the other two. I’m tired of being pooped on, the dog barking, kids crying over everything, and just plain sleep deprived. Thankfully everyone slept through the night until 6 AM this morning. (Place tired face emoji here).

It’s so easy to want to give up sometimes. Some days no matter what I do…the baby will cry, the kids won’t like the food unless it’s mac ‘n cheese, and everyone will be grumpy/crying (even the dog).  But I can’t toss out this book, just because this chapter is harder.

There’s more to the story.

I can’t help but think of what the disciples felt like on Saturday. Jesus was dead. Their book (so they thought) was over.  They had nothing else to hold on to, and nothing else to live for. But their book wasn’t over, they just hadn’t turned the page to Sunday yet.

I love reading anything put out by Elsie Ludicello, and a quote from one of her Instagram posts keeps flying through my thoughts. She wrote about creating a life that you don’t “want to run away from”. Life is too short to spend it miserable. Thinking on her post has motivated me to paint the bathroom, do creative activities with the kiddos, and to develop healthy rhythms. But creating that life requires work.  If I don’t like how something in my household is running, then I need to change it. It requires time spent listening, praying, thinking over changes to make, and elbow grease to make course corrections.  God is the author of my story, but the choices I make can either support or hinder the story He wants to write.

Small successes give hope that the story isn’t over yet, and the Author knows what he’s doing even if the chapter is hard. Little things like lunch with the kids while we read Farmer Boy, seeing them spot cardinals and robins, and listening to them sing church and school songs remind me that something is working. Listening to them retell the events from Jesus’ last week before the Crucifixion amazes me (check out our Instagram posts to see what we’ve been up to).

A couple weeks ago, I took my preschooler, toddler, and baby to go visit some friends in a hospice room for 1.5 hours. I packed books, games and snacks, but I honestly wasn’t sure if my little ones would last the visit. They did great and as we left our elderly friends, one of them said “You’ve got some great kids there”. All the time I’ve spent praying over and instructing their hearts became worth it when they could spend over an hour in a hospice room and leave our friends blessed by their company.

There’s more to the story.

Some chapters are rough. They are full of miscommunications, frustrations, missing people, loneliness….and yes……maybe even being pooped on by a baby. But a chapter is not the end of the book. Let’s think on that…..

A chapter is not the end of the book.

I paint bathrooms, reserve library books, and spend sleepless nights because I have dreams that the Author of my story has placed there, and because I trust Him to take the hard chapters and make them into His perfect story.

(our moss garden tomb)

It’s Saturday, and Jesus is still in the tomb. But tomorrow the disciples will turn the page to a new chapter. They’ll realize that hard chapter wasn’t the end of the book.  Jesus…..the author of hope, forgiveness, mercy, and new life will come back to life!  His victory gives proof to His ability to transform lives. and to make broken messes into something beautiful.

How about you? Is there a hard chapter you are going through now? Does it feel like the end of the book? Remember that Sunday is coming and ask the One who made you for help with your chapter.

Sojourning together,

 Felicia

PS. If there’s something you’d like me to pray for, please let me know in the comments. 🙂