grateful

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So it’s Friday and our week has been b u s y, tumultuous, happy, and emotional.  We look forward to our Friday ritual tonight of homemade (gluten-free) pizzas and a movie of the kid’s choosing.  We look forward to a weekend, to rest and worship.  We give thanks.

Phoebe began her homeschool co-op on Monday, and so we began our own schooling this week as well.  It has been really good and really awkward at times, too, just trying to establish some new rhythms and figure out how navigate these new waters.  There have already been moans and groans, there have been a multitude of interruptions from two little ones underfoot.  There have been potty accidents as Philippa slowly attempts potty training.  Phoebe and I are both loving it, though, and my heart is filled with thanks!  We have had time to cover a lot of material this week, but also play soccer, ride bikes, play outside, go to the pool, run our usual errands, snuggle together and read, begin a nature journal, press flowers, bake and cook.  Schoolwork is sprinkled throughout, and informal learning is emphasized as much as more formal schooling.  The younger two kids usually join us for the beginning of our morning work, doing their own little puzzles or coloring worksheets, before scattering off to play.  What a privilege and a blessing that we get to do it this way!  I don’t want to take it for granted for a second.  This is high and holy work!

Phoebe had a bad bike accident on Wednesday around lunch time, all of us cruising back home on our bikes after playing “soccer” at a nearby field.  She lost control of her bike and I watched in horror as her bike went down and she slammed her face into the pavement.  I grabbed her and saw her front teeth all bent back toward her throat, her mouth bleeding profusely, and we jumped immediately in the van and headed to urgent care.  After a thorough check and a visit to her dentist, we breathed great thanks to a faithful God who protected her from serious injury!  She will loose her front three teeth soon as a result, and she is bruised and scraped, but for the most part is already carrying on in her usual activities.

This morning she had her year check-up after receiving her diagnosis of Celiac disease last July.  She has gained three pounds in the last three months, which is HUGE for our little tiny girl.  She has gained almost 10 pounds in the past year!  Her BMI has increased, and she is in the 20th percentile for weight, which is a first!  We are full of praise once again to our God who has helped us all the way, and who continues to lead us as we seek Phoebe’s health and full recovery.

In all the muddled ordinary of life, it is easy for me to adopt a complaining or entitled heart.  It is easy, natural even, for me to miss the moments of extravagant grace hidden in these everyday moments, even the ugly ones.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)

I don’t want to give in to what is natural, I want a supernatural life, something that can’t be explained apart from the grace of God.  I desire for Him to do this kind of work in me.  I want my children to see their mother pursuing deep roots in Jesus, to see their mother turning her heart back to praise, to see their mother making time for creativity, reflection, truth, and beauty.

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal arrived on my doorstep this week, a beautiful summons to slow down, to return to the simple yet profound act of giving thanks.  It couldn’t have been more timely, after the sort of week we’ve had, brim-full with opportunity to worry, complain, grumble, and give in to exhaustion.  I’m excited to dig into this new-to-me format of coloring, of slowing, of turning my mind and heart to thanks, of lingering over scripture and meditating on the simple and profound healing balm.  This journal is absolutely stunning, sturdy, quality pages, simple yet arresting designs, bringing scripture to life and giving it feet.  I pray that for me it is just one simple tool that helps me keep my eyes fixed on Jesus as I go through each day’s work.  Maybe it would be a helpful tool to you, too?  If so, this little journal releases in just a few days (Sept. 1).

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This post contains affiliate links.  

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a complimentary copy of this beautiful journal in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

first day of kindergarten

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Because beginnings are special, especially this kind.  I’m so thankful I’m not having to say goodbye to my Phoebe girl for the day, but instead get to sit alongside her and begin this journey together.  I feel all sorts of nervous, overwhelmed, unable, and uncertain — but I am confident of this one thing: my God goes before me.  He is able.  He has a perfect plan.  He will lead me and my children every step of the way.  We begin in obedience to Him and we look in faith to Him for all the equipping, strength, joy and confidence we need.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

(Philippians 1:6)

yarn along

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I cast on for these “favourite socks” a couple of weeks ago for myself.  I’ve been wanting to knit myself a pair of socks since I knit some for everyone in my family last Christmas and never got around to doing a pair for me.  I have primarily been working on a sweater for my nephew but realized this morning after splitting for sleeves that my stitch count was so far off that I ripped the whole thing out to start over.  These socks are sort of my happy selfish knitting project when other things I am working on hit a stand-still.  Thank goodness for multiple WIPs.

I am still reading Teaching From Rest and loving it, challenged by it already just in regards to parenting.  Moments and Days: How our Holy Celebrations Shape our Faith is absolutely excellent so far.  It came in the mail for review and I didn’t plan to start reading it but I couldn’t put it down, drawn immediately into the noise and smells and fray of modern-day Jerusalem and the story of a Chosen People set apart by their Sabbath rest.  Written by a Jewish woman who became a Christ-follower in her teens, she explains the Jewish calendar and the church calendar from her Jewish perspective.  She writes about the feasts and festivals of the Jewish people and shows how each one finds their fulfillment in Christ.  I’m very interested in her perspective that time is not merely something we are supposed to measure, but that it is a gift to us, that time measures us, in fact.

Linking up with Ginny’s weekly yarn along where we share what we are currently knitting + reading.

our first camping trip

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Two weekends ago we took the kids on their very first camping trip about an hour and a half away to Smokemont Campground.  We met up with my two best girlfriends from college and their families, which seriously made it the best trip ever.  We borrowed an 8-person family tent from some other friends of ours.  I can’t believe we haven’t invested in one sooner!  We fit a queen-size air mattress in it and our rickety old pack and play for philippa, and still had plenty of room for the other kids to sleep on the floor plus keep all of our stuff inside.  The best parts were:

seeing our children (9 now altogether, with 1 on the way!) play together,  biking around and basically running a bit wild

phoebe’s first time tubing in the river

gluten-free s’mores around our campfire at night

Travis’ endless supply of french press

walking from one campsite to another to visit each other and chat

late night time with my two besties talking about life and homeschooling and all of our ailments now that we are in our 30s

sleeping with the fly off of the tent beneath an inky bowl full of stars, listening to the river + crickets

noah asking me if we could just go home or if we could get in the van and lock the doors

waking up warm and cozy, snuggling long in bed while brandon made me coffee

bacon + eggs (best part of car camping, besides air mattresses)

children with tousled heads and jammies playing in the morning light

We had no major incidents, which will probably give us a false sense of success and victory going into our next family camping trip.  It was only one night, but it felt like a restful getaway and I’m hoping we can squeeze in another trip in the fall.  I felt very inspired by my two girlfriends who have efficient setups and systems for their family camping trips.

yarn along

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I’m working on the second sleeve of this baby gown for my friend’s baby boy due in October.  It has been such an enjoyable and fast knit, and so cozy!  Since the pattern came as a bundle of three different patterns, I plan to cast on the sweater version for my nephew’s birthday coming up later this month.  My first sweater!

Also, I finished Come to the Family Table (I reviewed it in my last post), and have started Teaching from Rest per the recommendation of one of my best friends.  I’m underlining it constantly and thankful to be immersing my heart in these truths before beginning school for the first time in a couple of weeks.  Deep breath.

I’m linking up with Ginny’s weekly yarn along to share what we’re reading + knitting.

 

Come to the Family Table

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If you’ve been around my blog for any time at all or know me in real life, you know I value the table and the ministry of good food.  In fact, I have dedicated a portion of this blog to “the table” (see sidebar).  As a busy mother of three little ones ages 5 and under, meal time can easily be hectic, loud, and disconnected.  My home often seems too shabby or dirty to invite others into.  In our culture addicted to “busy” and “hustle,” meal time can essentially be nonexistent, with family’s running through drive-throughs and inhaling food as they race from one commitment to another.  Even in the Christian culture, I wonder if meal time and gathering  in one another’s homes has become sort of a lost art, a lost way of communing together, seen maybe as less valuable than serving in our local church.  Have we forgotten how often Jesus met with others around a table spread with food?  How often hearts were opened around a table?  That is what drew me to Ted and Amy Cunningham’s book, Come to the Family Tablemy own hunger to reconnect with a very simple and seemingly lost ministry.

The message is Jesus, and the tool is the table.  The table is still the place where we bring uncommon people together.  God uses the home and our table to bring different backgrounds together, whether rich or poor, conservative or liberal, regardless of religion or past or present.  We are all about inviting people to church, but what about inviting people into our homes?  Around the dinner table walls come down.  This is the beauty of hospitality.  God can use you and your home.  (Cunningham, Come to the Family Table)

The book is organized into two main sections.  The first five chapters make up part I of the book, which centers around “the family table is for us.”  These chapters lay the biblical foundation for savoring meals as a family around the table, practical tips on how to make meal time a priority, and even talk about developing a family constitution.  The last five chapters of the book make up part II, centering around the idea that “the family table is for others.”  The authors discuss hospitality, giving simple tips and also encouraging consideration that gathering around the table with others might be a powerful way to invest in the marriages and families of others.  Each chapter ends with a recipe, a game or conversation guide for meal time, as well as an appropriate devotional and prayer.

I loved the way the authors focused on the family table (even in a restaurant setting) as a way to first reach out to each other in our core family, but then also as a way to reach out to all of those around us.  Rather than seeing our time around the table as a chore to hurry through or a meaningless physical experience, authors Ted + Amy Cunningham redeem the table as a powerful tool for kingdom work and ministry.  Ultimately, they reveal that the family table is a way to savor and enjoy Jesus.  This book is full of tools, tips, recipes, games, conversation starters, ideas for hosting and ministering to hurting friends and loved ones, ways to include and value children at the table, and so forth.  The recipes include are simple and wholesome: blueberry lemon muffins, chicken soup, zucchini coconut bars, one-pot apple cider chicken bake, giant stuffed meatballs, sweet or savory crepes, to name a few.

This would be a great book for those longing to reclaim mealtime as a time to slow down and reconnect with each other.  This book would be a great help for newlyweds who are just beginning to think about opening up their home and practicing hospitality.  This book would be a fun and easy read for a husband and wife and a way to discuss dreams and goals for their home.  I also believe this book would be a great encouragement to families who feel they have little time to minister to others, a reminder that serving God truly can be as simple as a cool glass of water to a person in need given in Jesus’ name.  The Cunningham’s writing was light, helpful, humorous, welcoming, Christ-exalting, simple and yet packed with meaning.  I felt as if I had been invited to their family table.  I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read and will definitely be reflecting on it for some time to come.

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Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

 

ordering the home

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I heard this song last week while watching Shauna Niequist’s launch party for her book Present over Perfect that releases tomorrow.  I can’t stop singing it.  It made me cry because Brandon and I have been in the process of looking for our very first home.  We have been renters for 10 years and have saved a downpayment many times only to have to spend it on hospital bills, pregnancies, and obscene amounts of car trouble.  It has been a long and rocky road, requiring a ton of trust and patience in the Lord’s plan and timing.  I am probably more comfortable with waiting at this point than we are with moving forward.  It has become normal and it feels safer.

Our lease is up at the end of this month on this rental we’ve been in for the last two years, and our landlord is only willing to sign a six-month lease rather than going month-to-month, so we are back on a holding pattern somewhat, it seems.  I trust the Lord’s timing and am thankful that I don’t have to hurriedly pack up a house during this month meanwhile starting my very first year of homeschooling with Phoebe.  My sanity is thankful.  But my heart longs to have a place that I have the right to call home.  We’ve always lived in borrowed spaces and, as grateful as we are for our many many blessings, that does take its toll after so many years.

Anyway, I’m hoping I can sing these words over our new home one day soon.  Until then, we call this temporary place our home.  It teaches me time and again that my place here in this world is ultimately temporary and God is preparing for us a Home that will be everything our hearts have always been restless for.  The longing is piercing, but it isn’t bad to be reminded of the reality of the tension we live in.  We really were made for a better place, the paradise of His presence and His perfection, and our souls know our exile.

So it’s been on my heart to get our house in order.  Things tend to pile up and clutter when you have three little ones.  Mentally I need to quiet the home, declutter, take care of the piles gathering dust here and there, minimize and sell what we don’t need or use.  I want to carve out a small space in the home for schooling supplies to make a special little spot for Phoebe.

Phoebe and Noah have been sharing a room since Noah was 3 months old, and they have pretty much loved every minute of it.  Philippa has been in her own room.  For a long time, Phoebe and Noah have been party animals at night after lights are out, usually coming out to go to the bathroom a handful for times, plus giggling and jumping around out of their beds.  Noah seems to be the rabble rouser, and Phoebe, on the healing journey with an autoimmune disease, is the sleepier one who tends to drag during the day because of the late night shenanigans.  So we decided to separate them, putting Noah in his own big boy room for the first time, and moving Philippa into Phoebe’s room.  Noah and Philippa are little BFFs and if we put them together, they would only keep up the late night party pattern.  So, last week we moved beds and furniture around.  The kids thought it was great fun, and they’ve been sleeping well in this new arrangement.  Noah was a little scared the first night all on his own, but I think he was really proud of himself in the morning and I think as the second-born/middle child, it feels really special to have his own room.  We’re still working on moving decorations around and finishing up, which seems sort of silly if we may end up moving soon, but I’m feeling the need to get the house in order and organized as much as possible before school begins.  Everyone keeps telling me its only kindergarten and it is really no big deal, but I know it will be adding a sizable chunk to my weekly workload and I will feel more prepared going into it with house projects crossed off my list.

In an ideal world, at least.  ;)  Everything is in disarray and disorder for now.  I try to make a few small goals a week toward this end, keeping up with all my usual weekly work keeping a home running, always working toward order, and learning to enjoy the inevitable chaos.