"For You O Lord are a shield about me, You are the glory and lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3

"For You O Lord are a shield about me, You are the glory and lifter of my head. Psalm 3:3

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall is Here

The last of summer's clothes are in heaping piles on my dresser awaiting tubs, sundresses and shorts are washed and folded, to be tucked away and crammed in the closet they completely consume.  I'll grab the tub of gloves and hats for this weekend.  The weatherman says cold and wet.  Mama says, hot cocoa and mittens.

Fall is here.
The script of You've Got Mail runs through my head.  I need a New York street to skip through, holding my carmel machiatto, humming Cranberries' lyrics and slipping into my quaint, charming book store.

And while there are no parallels from this movie and my world, I find myself thankful for our own fall treasures.  Enjoying our very own, bouquets of sharpened pencils.


Doorstep Gifts
Considering I was a kindergarten teacher, I greatly lack in the area of craftiness.  Outside of believing a hot glue gun is the answer to every project problem, Hobby Lobby and Pinterest overwhelm me.  After much praise for her beautiful work on her own wreath, my friend Amanda so generously dropped off a homemade wreath for me.  Just because.

She blesses me and so many.
Sisterhood Love
I was blessed with 2 older brothers so I don't know how it feels to have sisters.  
These girls know rummaging through mama's closet for her high heels because the plastic Target slippers aren't good enough to complete a princess' outfit.
They know giggling under bunk beds over silly pretend languages and staying up late, fake sleeping when they hear our footsteps coming to tell them to go to sleep.  For the 8th time.
They know sharing bows and helping each other pick out school clothes.
They're well rounded in arguing, bickering, and pushing each other's buttons, because what are sisters for?
They cheer each other on, they copy one another's ideas, they sit in the same chair because closeness triumphs over comfort.

I love watching this continual dance the Father writes as they learn and grow in relationship, forgiveness, and grace.
I love knowing the blessing in raising these girls and knowing they are destined for His greatness.

Because all little girls are.

I love her, I love everything about her.  She's strong and determined, she's tender and affectionate.
She is altogether, the berries.  And so are those sisters.

Pumpkin Recipes
I love me some pumpkin.  I could eat it out of the can.  We opted for some pumpkin pancakes this past weekend.  I was whipping up breakfast and in between nursing a baby and corralling 3 other kiddos, I lost track of the recipe and/or additions made to the batter.
All I know is I dumped in some brown sugar, a crazy amount of cinnamon, and half a can of pumpkin.  To top it off, some melted butter sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.  And syrup.
Mmm hmm, yes please.

Moving on to more pumpkin goodness, I tried a simple recipe but decided it needed tweaking.  I creamed the butter and sugar for 4 minutes and then once all of the ingredients were combined, I whipped the dough at medium speed for awhile which yielded fluffy cookies.
I recommend it.

Wait, I'm not enjoying this but I will say it's the biggest change and adjustment to have four kids.  It's endless and somehow it waits for me to resent it and become overwhelmed or place any ounce of peace in its completion.
Instead, I've turned into one on one time with my Bella Jane.
It's working well.
I fold clothes and stare at this miracle of life in our midst.  She distracts me.

I can deal.
Fall Evenings
It's consensus in this family that although we love to go and do, we love retreating to the nest, especially for some outside play.  Nothing fancy, just some chalk, soccer balls, and bicycles.

And preferably, a commencement to the day of the hubs coming home.  

This is my favorite part of the day.

They squeal and they all talk at once.  They want hugs and kisses, they play hard to get.
Pleas to play soccer, pick her up, and snap shots into their days.

Fall is here.
Other than the crisp fall colors cascading over the neighborhood, the cooler weather, and holidays on the horizon, nothing much changes around here.  
We'll still throw dinners in crock pots, take ballerinas to class, and change diapers.
We'll still see the good in each other and extend grace, drawing the gold to the surface we know is present in our hearts.  
We'll still channel these fiery sisters because I have to believe even Esther must have been a handful as a little girl, otherwise how would she have had the boldness to approach a king to declare the truth?  

We will embrace the change of the season, the change in our family, and the continual process of family love we been given.
We will discover more pumpkin recipes, bundle up for family walks, and wait for him to come home.
I laughed to myself today as I arranged my day and cancelled commitments because my girls have Halloween parties at school.  
Good groceries I'm that mom.  

And I'm totally good with it.

Happy Fall!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Nomination, Nothin' Fancy

It's Monday.  I love Mondays.

The weekend memories are still lingering like a fabulous aftertaste from rich dessert.  The week's tasks are ahead, beeping at me from my iCal, tripping me on the laundry floor, and hollering from outside that they need more glitter for their pumpkins.  Nothing fancy going on around here, just the norm.

The beautiful norm has been ordered up.

A little fun on the menu, my sweet friend Sara Gae has nominated my blog for the Liebster Award.  You can read her amazing stylish blog here and if you know her, well then you know how lovely she is.

11 Things About Me...
1.  I think peanut butter is hands down the BEST invention.  Ever.
2.  I met my hubs on a blind date; I didn't want to go, went late, and without make up.
3.  I love to wakeboard.
4.  My degree is in Early Childhood Education and I've taught 3 different grades.
5.  I've had 4 babies in 5 years.
6.  I ate a sleeve of Oreos an hour before my wedding.
7.  I've been to 4 countries in Africa and I'm forever changed because of my time there.
8.  I love being a mom, I've wanted babies since I was 15.
9.  I met Kevin Spacey in high school and told him he scared the poo out of me in Seven.  He was gracious and took a picture with me.
(Paige Bothwell, you remember?!?!?)
10.  If you get me on a soccer field, I have a temper.
11.  I've seen the movie You've Got Mail probably over 100 times.

Sara's Questions for me...
1.  Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to document my family's life as a photo album and journal, but more than that, I want mamas to be encouraged and empowered by the Truth that Jesus meets us in the places we invite Him into!  The diapers, tantrums, laundry, cooking, carpools, and the entrusted royalty we've been given...that we can do it in His power!
2.  Where do you hope to see yourself professionally/personally or both in 10 years?
Professionally, ha!  I don't think I'll be back in the classroom ever again.  Personally, I hope to have grown as a wife, mama, friend, daughter, and sister.
3.  What or who is your greatest inspiration in life?
His JOY and GRACE inspire me!
4.  What is the best advice you ever received?
Marce' Hennigan (on parenting little girls) "You're not going to be perfect, so release that.  As long as you own your crap with your kids and say you're sorry, you'll be okay."
5.  If money were no object, where would you take a vacation without kids and with kids?
I'd grab that hunk-a-burning-man of mine and go sit on the beach somewhere where the huts are on stilts over the ocean.  Then maybe take my girls and the hubs on an African safari.
6.  If given a free afternoon that you HAD to spend alone, what would you do?
I'd take a nap, go for a nice long run preferably with the weather in the 40's, and then wander around Target aimlessly.
7.  What is your favorite book?
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, her blog is life altering.
8.  Cook or order in?  Favorite recipe or thing to order in?
Order in, baby!  I love pizza, I know it's lame.
9.  What are your hobbies?
Baking, running, and chasing babies.
10.  What is the best meal you ever had?
Multnomah Falls 6 years ago, sitting near the water falls in a tavern, a turkey sandwich with cranberries on it and baked potato soup.
11.  Do you think being a mom has changed you and if so, how?
Oh yes it has forever changed me in so many ways.  I think the biggest change is the 360 degree mirror my babies provide, revealing my selfishness and ugliness.  The chance to be rescued by grace.

Martha Stewart's recipe for Banana Muffins and Honey Cinnamon Icing...yes please.
Sara asked me to nominate a few more blogs.  I am happy to nominate 4 dear friends and proud to introduce you to their blogs...
-Danielle's blog is so wonderfully sweet.  "Being Bassets" gives readers a glimpse into family life and new adventures on the Paleo diet.
-Ashley's blog is so genuinely beautiful.  "Our Invincible Summers" is the heart of a mama sharing her journey with eloquence and transparency.
-Jenn's blog is rich in Truth.  "Learning All the Way" shimmers with Godly perspective and the joy of heaven!
-Mary's blog is adventurous!  "Caldwell Adventures" is the life of a missional family in the Middle East.

Nominee's, now it's your turn.
Write 11 things about yourself, answer the following questions, and nominate no more than 11 bloggers with under 200 followers and draft 11 questions for them to answer.
Here are your questions!
1.  Why did you begin blogging?
2.  If you could play the part of an actress in a movie, who would you be? (i.e. I would play Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days)
3.  Favorite thing to bake?
4.  Favorite movie of all time?
5.  How long have you been married and what's the best thing about your hubs?
6.  What was your first job ever?
7.  The last book you read was...
8.  What would be your dream vacation and who would you take?
9.  If you could meet one celebrity, who would you meet and what's one question you'd ask them?
10.  If you could eat only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
11.  Do you think being a mama has changed you and if so, how?

Well there you have it, a little taste of me.

A nomination and a few pics from the week and weekend.
 Nothin' fancy.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Behind Every Picture

We're having ourselves a good time lately.  A trip to see family in Texas, a birthday party for friends, a few field trips to the zoo.  Plenty of mundane tasks and chores.  A pile of laundry sat on my couch for days.  There is leftover chili in my refrigerator.  I see it every day I reach for the milk and I should just take the 5 minutes it requires to remove the tupperware, dump and scrub.  But I haven't yet.
I'm convinced the amount of food and various items on the floor of my car could sprout legs and hop out if given the chance.
And something about the pumpkins and football humming in the background has triggered a sadness in my heart, forgetting the pain because His redemption and restoration reigns supreme, but the daughter in me misses my daddy.  A lot these days, I have no reason why.
Back to the laundry, I'm so far behind every basket in every room, even the overflow-catch-all basket in the laundry room, it's all full.  But I ran out of detergent and forgot it both times I went to the store this weekend.
Yet by looking at pictures from the week, you would only know these undercurrents that exist if you were inside my heart.  Or a closet in my house.

Behind every picture, there is a story.  A story of effort and sacrifice for the moment.  
Maybe a story of whimsical choices to leave behind responsibility and choose the moment instead.  
Maybe the memory captured was the mere break in the story from tantrums and learning moments, a quick smile.  Her laugh instead of whining.

A story of a mother and daughter learning.  Her, learning to love endlessly and give from places the enemy whispers have nothing left, reaching far deep into His cup of living water for the strength and passion He designed for her to operate from.  
Her, learning to give grace to a mama learning to steward and care for her in a way that will call out the destiny she is created for.

Behind every picture, there is a joy that cannot be photographed or contained.  We are in love.  

We are a family.  

Stories of littles being celebrated, sweet friends turning 5 and already changing the world.  Standing on fences, sipping lemonade and having cake, playing with friends and knowing they are loved beyond measure.

Beyond the apron, she imparts the kingdom to all around her.  Extending His affections and love in her gentleness and servanthood.  
And she makes a mean latte.
And this baby.
Oh how our hearts cry out in gratitude for this baby girl.  Our Alice Elizabeth, she is 2 this week.
And we celebrated and will continue to celebrate her.  How evident His healing and restoration beautifully weaves throughout her life.
In between the pink, breakfast pancakes and sisters showering her with birthday hugs, we ran carpool, had play dates, and changed diapers.
Because in between the pictures, I throw clean clothes back into the dryer because somehow I think that will help me get to the folding part of this endless task.
That I don't bother anymore to wipe spit up off of my shoulder because I know soon, it will dry and the smell can be covered up with a splash of perfume.

He tells a story, He always does.  In every family He stands at the door and knocks, deeply desiring to be let into every space in our hearts.

And when we let Him in, how marvelous it is.  How beautiful the hands of forgiveness are, extended to plead how sorry we are, how we didn't mean to wound.
How He breathes life into places parched for truth and grace.
How much we love each other and can't put into words the gratitude that runs so deeply.
How in unexpected moments, the Lord's nearness overwhelms and places of sadness are met with a joy and comfort only delivered by a Savior who carried it up a hill, on brokenness.
Behind every picture, I am thankful.
Thankful for this man who loves me in my weakness and chooses yes every day.
Thankful for this house of sleeping babies who create a soundtrack with laughter and joy.
Thankful He leaves the flock of many to seek out the one who is lost.
Thankful He stood on the porch and watched, how He ran to us throwing on the robe, welcoming us home into sonship and covenant.

We are grateful.