Happy 2014!

I hope that you and yours have been enjoying the holiday season as much as we have. There’s been much lego building, bracelet making, and nap taking. B and I have actually slept in until almost seven on multiple days. We’ve played at Get Air and Legoland, cleaned out the backyard, and consumed our fair share of cookies, chocolate, bacon, and sangria (though thankfully not all at once). I feel so blessed to have wrapped up the year in such a wonderful way.

It truly was a wonderful year. I looked back at my old resolutions and was thrilled to find only one: to live light. And I did! I lived the lightest light: I lived by FAITH.My mantra has been TRUST, and I’ve had to repeat it to myself almost daily. But it’s also led me into new friendships, new responsibilities, and a new career that I absolutely love. If I had one testimony to give from 2013, it’s that trusting in God and living my faith leaves you doubly blessed: first because you leave the worrying up to the One in charge, and second because you experience exactly what He designed you for.

This year, I have a few smaller goals I hope to meet, like purging the closet and garage, appreciating my volunteers, and running a strong VBS (the biggest adventure, since no one in our family has experienced a VBS. No one. Ahem.). But my biggest prayer and goal for this coming year is FOCUS. Focus on God’s will, focus on the tasks required to accomplish it, focus on what matters. As I look at those smaller goals I’ve been tossing around, they really lead back to this one big commitment. I hope I return here in no year feeling like I really know and understand what I’m doing for the Lord, as much as that’s ever possible, and am doing it with intentionality and purpose.

All that to say, this will be my first and last post for 2014. Of course, God always reserves the right to require something different, but for now, I feel like this is the right step. Thank you to all those who have faithfully followed my journey–I wish you all a blessed 2014!

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year!

2012 brought what most years seem to: change, growth, things discovered and things missed. K started kindergarten (and reading), and loves it. She’s made tons of new little friends and continues to grow those relationships between school, Daisies, and play dates. She also moved up in her gymnastics class and still amazes us with her balance and strength. M began second grade. He’s the strongest reader in his class and couples that with writing his own books at home. Not only that, but he also started playing basketball and soccer without missing a beat on his tae kwon do. It’s so fun to see them building skills in so many different areas.

B and I put in new floors in the house and managed to keep our garden beds filled all year, thanks to some crazy overwintering plants and random potato patches. We also found a new church closer to home, and B has already begun serving in their music ministry. Together we took a fantastic vacation to Florida–even more fantastic than expected. I love when things turn out that way. As for me, I lost a few friends and gained some new ones. I also put away the scale and committed to respecting my body (which included two fantastic new tattoos).

On the resolution front, I definitely made progress on my goals, growing in my relationship with God and continuing to work on the areas in which I still struggle. Still, it’s never as much as I want to see accomplished. I still run late, still have trouble resting, still lose my temper. The tiny steps I make seem so hard to appreciate.

Sometimes I think I try to hard. There’s so much I want to change, develop, and master that I often feel worn down by the enormity of the task. I’m complicating a simple God with a simple purpose.

This year, then, I have only one resolution: to truly delve into what it means to live light. To let go of the things that weigh me down. To live so that I see things through God’s light, so that others might see His light in me. As a consequence, I hope that living light allows me to love more. Love God, love others, love myself. Love, love, love. Here’s to 2013, a year devoted to light and love.

Merry Christ Gift

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Such a simple statement, and yet so much more complicated:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)

He who had everything gave it up for next to nothing–no home, no bed, no clothes–so that I might have everything through His sacrifice. The ultimate gift: freedom from sin, from enslavement to our carnal natures, even from death. May the true gift of God be your blessing this holiday season and always.

Packed for peace

Felt ornaments. Christmas cookies (times nine). Toy shopping. Clothes shopping. Grocery shopping. Repeat. Sing. Decorate. Order. Wrap. Advent calendars. Pom pom garlands. Paper chains. Parties and peppermint mochas and the requisite December cold (plus stomach flu).

December. Is. Packed.

Amidst all this excitement, I start feeling panicked. I’m not enjoying the season. In the course of spreading good will to men, I’m not appreciating the promised peace on earth.

Most of the people I’m around lately seem to have the same struggle, trying to enjoy the holidays while enjoying the holidays. The ones that have mastered that trick are probably at home. But as I look at my plate, stuff hanging off the edge, and consider what it is that I’m going to take off, I realize that maybe I’m going about this all wrong.

This is enjoying the holidays.

I love that I have tons of parties, that the weeks fill with friends I just have to celebrate with. I love the crafts, the many ways we count down Christmas. I love every one of those Christmas cookies, and every box I give away. Yes, there’s a lot. Yes, we’re crazy busy. But instead of lamenting this, maybe I need to accept that I love wringing every last drop of joy I can out of this amazing holiday. And yes, in the course of doing so, I will end up spent and wasted by the time Christmas arrives.

Perhaps that’s the point.

The peace on earth I seek, it’s the gift the comes on Christmas. I won’t find it in any store. I won’t even find it if I sit at home and do nothing. I won’t find it because it’s not from me. God gave us peace on earth in the form of Jesus, in the changing covenant which promised that we must do nothing else but follow Him. That’s true peace: a life lived by Christ’s guidance.

During this season, I do need to keep special focus on whether I’m living by that guidance. Am I celebrating as He would have me? Am I scheduling according to His goals? Am I giving and doing for His glory? And I will also have to accept that I will not do it perfectly, that I will end up spent and wasted. After all, if I could do it perfect, then I wouldn’t need God.

God gave us Jesus anyway, knowing that this world was messy, knowing that we needed His goodness, even though we didn’t deserve it. This time of year, it’s even easier to realize this fact, what with all the craziness going on.

God is good, all the time, but even–especially–in December.

Our Thanksgiving prayer

“Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.” (1 Chron. 29:10b-13)

May your Thanksgiving be blessed with the freedom of living light. Whatever it is, God’s hands are big enough for you to let it go.

Nuts, pumpkins, and everything in between

It took me 31 years to realize I like nuts on my sundaes.

Considering that we eat a disproportionate number of sundaes–as well as other desserts–one might ask how it could possibly take so long to figure out that, when asked, I would want to say YES to the nuts-on-your-sundae question. The answer’s easy: because my mom doesn’t like nuts on her sundaes.

Growing up, I commonly heard that nuts ruin sundaes. I totally agree that for a person who doesn’t like nuts on their sundaes, this is entirely true. However, I took it that they ruin sundaes for everyone, including me, and therefore didn’t even consider the nut option until a few years ago when I finally thought, Hey, nuts are pretty good. Maybe I might like them with my ice cream.

I promise there’s a point to all this.

Our likes and dislikes are perfectly valid, but our children are both blank slates and their own people. I’m often surprised by the things that my kids seem to enjoy–though still no nut takers on sundaes. M likes Nerf gun shoot-outs and soccer, K likes gymnastics and olives, and they both enjoy sucking on lemons. None of these things tickle my fancy.

They also think Halloween is fun.

I hate Halloween. Being a shy child, the act of dressing up made me anxious, as did going door-to-door for any reason. I have few memories of Halloween night, and none of them are positive. But as we all know, emotions are contagious, and I hate even more the thought of transferring my dislike for anything to the kids.

This year, I strung up a pumpkin garland and let them carve their jack o lanterns however they pleased (M’s had tiny teeth, K’s featured jagged mouths with itty-bitty round eyes). In fact, I single-handedly hollowed out eight pumpkins, thanks to the random ones that grew from the seeds in last spring’s compost, and ignored every one of the fancy non-carving adultish decorating ideas on Pinterest as they drew face after face for me to carve. I decorated my fingernails with green and purple nail polish, painted my face like a butterfly according to K’s instructions, and participated in the neighborhood “Boo” chain letter. How K and I laughed as we dashed from our friends’ front door!

I still don’t like Halloween. I still wouldn’t wear a costume, I still couldn’t come up with a scary story. But that’s no excuse to miss out on whatever fun can be had, and life abundant is, in part, about having that fun. More importantly, it’s about showing my kids that there is always fun to be had, even if it’s on the behalf of someone else. Truth be told, joy is just as contagious as dislike, and that’s one attitude I’m happy to pass along.

Happy Halloween!

This year I get to escort Harry Potter and an angel through the bustling business of our neighborhood. It’s the welcome culmination of a week of Halloween festivities. Considering that the boy’s hair is spray painted black and the girl’s costume is angelic white, you can surely understand that no one welcomes the arrival of November more than myself. Next year, maybe costumes where touching isn’t going to cause total destruction. Mom’s heart (and her laundry basket) might appreciate it.