Category Archives: home

{moments in mothering}

there’s times I feel like I can’t keep up as a mom –
especially with the big age gap between all my kids.
I feel like Gumby, the green stretch man most days..
tugged and pulled in all directions.

major life decisions being made with the oldest.
while still helping the youngest brush (all) her teeth before bed.
and every extreme between!

there’s days of getting it all pretty right.
and days of getting most of it wrong.
on Monday, after a crazy weekend,
and looking at an even crazier week,
I was feeling so overwhelmed.
how could I do it all?
but most importantly, BE all I needed to be?
mainly to the people in my own home.
I found myself praying, “Lord, give me moments.”
one on one connection.
quality time.
sensitivity to what they need.
patience to put them first.

I felt acutely aware of my prayer last night..
after a crazy day of running non-stop.
getting home at ten.
then sitting in the driveway answering texts and messages,
when all of a sudden the back car door opens.
I hadn’t even seen her dash out.
my littlest in her night shirt. no pants. only underwear.
looking for the books we’d bought earlier at the book fair after school.

“mom.. can we read now?”

I start to say, it’s late. you need to go to bed. you’re only in your underwear!
but I hear that prayer for moments in my head. so I nod.
I stay in the front seat where I am and she in hers behind me as she begins.
it’s a long process as those of you with beginner readers know.
and I turn to tell her words and close my eyes a few times asking again
for patience to put her first over my tiredness.
and finally when she’s done one, there’s a second one..
that of course has to be read too.
so I nod again.
and think how these haven’t always been the choices of my younger mom years.
but I wish they had been.
so I try to relax and remember this is the stuff that matters.
and then, 30-minutes-to-read-6-pages later!!
she slaps it shut and says she’s going in, calling as she jumps out –

“I’ll have to run cause it’s raining..”
and halfway up the driveway I hear,
“AND I’M IN MY UNDERWEAR, YA KNOW!!!!!!”

(a little clip from our late night reading sesh in the car)

moms.. if you’re feeling that you’re under the waves more than you’re
on top of them lately – pray for moments.

sure, we’re going to mess up.
we’re going to get it wrong.
some days they’ll watch more tv shows than they should.
eat mac n cheese for dinner.
and not even brush their teeth before bed.
you’ll feel you’re totally screwing up.
there’s one that’s falling through the cracks.
that maybe you can’t get through to.
or you haven’t connected with in awhile.

it’s easy to spazz in those times.
to jump into control mode and force things.
but often that only leaves us more overwhelmed.
I’ve learned, and am still, to give myself grace..
and “give” isn’t necessarily the right word.
TAKE the grace God provides.
it’s nothing I do and all what He’s already done!
and that thought makes me sink into rest vs. despair..
which we tend to do as moms.
feel like a failure.
like we can’t do it all.
and yes, we can’t always.
life gets busy.
we get tired. grumpy.
but that’s the beauty of grace. it always arrives fresh. every morning.
I love the quote that says, “courage doesn’t always roar…
sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says
I’ll try again tomorrow.”

praise God for tomorrows!

so, maybe there weren’t really any great dinners this week.
or grand adventures.
but there were some sweet times tucked in among all the crazy.
like the one in the driveway, in the rain, listening to a little reader stumble through her words.

those are the things our kids will remember one day.
those are the things they’ll hold on to.

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They ARE the most important work. – C.S. Lewis

 

{of moments slow}

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there’s those moments in motherhood where you just kind of stop dead in your tracks and look at your child and go, “when in the world did you grow up?”

surely it was only yesterday they were this little slobbering active toddler.
pulling out all the tupperware.
and throwing the rolls of toilet paper in the toilet faster than you could pull them out.
when all they wanted was to eat hotdogs and cheese dipped in ketchup.
but mainly, just ketchup.
and to read, “den, mommy. den.” the cat in the hat. how that book went on for hours, it seemed…
all it’s silliness and rhymes and your tongue tripping over itself.
and how they would laugh, thinking it all so funny!
and sometimes you would secretly skip pages.

and there’s this hurry around childhood.
even from the moment we first know we’re expecting, we just want baby here.
then, if only baby would sleep through the night.
will they ever wipe their own bum? cut their own food?
will i be tying their shoes on their wedding day?
and without realizing, we can slip into going through the motions..
of doing with our kids, but not really being.
of an underlying rush to simply survive the day. make it to another bedtime.
but hope the book chosen at bedtime isn’t, please, the cat in the hat!
something shorter. quicker.
and all this hurry. hurry.
then.
she walks out of her bedroom navy blue and glorious and you stop mid sentence from talking to her friend’s mom that’s there..
and all those moments. all of them. they flood in.
from one day thinking the days are endless to the other thinking,”how did they end so soon?”

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and she’ll walk down an aisle in a few weeks and graduate.
and who knows how many more until another aisle awaits.
and just like that.
those childhood days are over.
and new, exciting ones ahead, yes.
but different. changed.
new chapters and seasons.
and we can all sigh a little lonely at times for days gone.
but still, you don’t wish to go back.
what awaits is lovely too.
and loveliest of all is the new eyes in which you see it with now.

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and when she emerges- this woman, happy and bright. and asks you to fasten her dress and hugs you tight. holding. you feel it. her grip. her slow. that pause. she sees it too.

do not rush the moments.

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one of my fav pics of the night.. little sister at the table, eating, just taking it all in.

mom’s of littles.
mom’s still wondering if these long days ever end..
if sleep will ever come again and hot coffee.
mom’s still in the middle of endless books and toilet paper rolls unraveled.
and this non-stop one who just, from sun up to sun down, goes.
and you kinda wish for independence and days to come.
it’s normal. we all do.
i have littles ones still too..
you would think i would see it the most glaringly.
still. i forget. i’m selfish. i rush and i hurry.
but. a word to us all – mostly me – DON’T!

let’s hug a bit tighter
read a little slower
swing longer
stop more often
bend over to their level
give eye contact
listen
watch
slow

living the moment. not rushing it to pass.
not distracted by documenting it.
just them. with you. no one noticing. no one seeing.
but they do.

and soon they’ll emerge wonderful and grown.
the days gone by a blur.
and you’ll realize it was more beautiful than you knew.

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{kitchen update and the classroom of contentment}

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when we were first married we lived in this small, cottage of a house in northern ontario.
i had so much fun decorating, and re-decorating that little place as a young bride.
my favorite spot was the kitchen!
i had all my cobalt blue and yellow fiestaware proudly displayed
on these cheap plywood shelves from wal-mart.
the plates and bowls and all different sized cute pitchers. i loved that stuff!
then, my kim anderson prints..
you remember the ones? the little kids dressed up like adults?
so little rascal-isque.
the actual kitchen itself was nothing to speak of.
a corner of a room basically.
an old green stove. no dishwasher. a small white fridge.
i remember when someone gave us a dishwasher.. a portable one.
the kind you have to wheel over and hook up to the sink!
we thought we were so cool. finally, we owned a dishwasher!!

our next home our kitchen wasn’t much bigger.
but i loved the old wood plank floors and tall, open windows.
i had moved on past the cobalt blue and yellow fiestaware but still
so enjoyed decorating that space.
that’s the kitchen where we discovered a nice little family
of snakes were living in the wall!
there were many dishes washed and dinners cooked standing up on a chair.
you think mice are bad? snakes are way worse!!

then, our home now..
it seemed i was destined to only have a corner space of countertops…
and hunter green marble formica ones at that!
the dark walnut cabinets made it all the more dismal.
the stove that had come with it was old –
the kind you can’t scrub the grease from because it’s embedded into it.
and i once set a can on the glass top too hard and shattered it,
so then it also sported a huge crack.
i learned how to strategically place my tea kettle over that spot to hide it.
and hoped when company came, no one wanted tea! ;)

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to say God had worked on my heart in the area of contentment when it came to my home, specifically my kitchen, is an understatement.
i don’t know what it is about our kitchen as women..
maybe because it’s usually the center of the home.
the hub where everyone seems to first go when they come in.
the spot we gather. the place company always ends up standing.
where you spend hours thinking, creating, working, serving.
an extension, it seems, of who we are. how we love and care for our family.~
where memories are made. the cookies and gingerbread houses.
the easter eggs dyed and flour on the noses, as well as every possible inch of the kitchen too.

i thought i had learned about embracing what i had.
{an old busted stove can cook a meal just as well as a fancy one!}
being grateful. content.

when we bought this home last summer i was thrilled.
not only because it was the first home we’d ever owned,
but because i’d really given up that we ever would!
so, in the fall when shayne said we could start doing some reno’s,
starting with the kitchen, well.. i just couldn’t even!!
i mean, seriously.
i’ve always wanted to walk into home depot, stroll up and down the faucet aisle and say,
“i’ll take that one!”
i’d seen others do it. ;)
most of our times in there were always to only look. and dream.
and the day we bought our dishwasher. y’all!!
i STILL look at that thing and get butterflies!!

the whole process of deciding and planning and picking out has been so fun!
i’m so, so grateful for how God has provided.
and quickly, let me insert, to those of you struggling financially – –
that are living in that rental.
that tiny corner kitchen with the ugly cabinets and hideous countertops.
those overwhelming bills coming in faster than it seems you can make money.
we’ve been there.
i thought we always would be.
we might be there again in the future. who knows?
but, this i do.. that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. truly.
you might not see it yet. feel it. believe there could be. but there is.
there will be a way through. you’ll make it!
maybe money will always be a stress, but in coming “through” i guarantee
you’ll come out seeing how rich you really are.
that there are far more important things than owning homes and renovating kitchens.
you probably already know that now.
but on those days you forget.
for those of you still in that very real, very hard struggle of finances.
i totally understand.~

which is why you would THINK as i look at my kitchen progress..
the fact that i’ve never had anything this nice in my life i wouldn’t be able to be
anything but completely grateful.
and i am. but..
and isn’t that the way it is.
that small, nagging grumble inside. where the discontentment festers.
because it’s never about what we have, is it? but what we don’t.
and what we don’t have always, or seems to on those days we’re focused there, outweigh what we do.

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a few weeks ago i found myself in that old familiar battle..
kinda shaking my head in surprise! how could i?
i mean, from snakes in the wall to washing dishes by hand,
to now the opera song of dishwashers and quartz countertops!
how could i grumble about any of it.

but, i’m afraid. far too easy.

i was looking at all that still needed to be done. that feels it never will.
perhaps we’ll be living with hockey tape pulls as handles {thanks for thinking of that, ben!}
and no baseboard or finished window seat forever.~
or the floor! it’s one of my favorite things. i adore that floor!
but can we just have a moment of silence for how it shows every.little.thing!!!
and we have four kids and one big, hairy dog.
so when i say, every.little.thing!!! i mean, every.little.thing!!!
and every day i’m sweeping and thinking, “is this my life now?”
to never do anything ever again except SWEEP THIS FLOOR!!!!!

and the stove! hold the phone!!
i have to tell you about the stove. it’s absolutely gorgeous!
i still walk into the kitchen and stop and look at that shiny thing
and can’t believe it’s mine.
it was given to us by shayne’s parents.
his mom thought something was wrong with it..
the temperature didn’t seem to hold well when you’re baking, or something.
she asked if we wanted it, even if it might not work great.
i looked at our old, smash topped stove with the tea kettle hiding the crack –
“uh, hello! YES, we’ll take it.”

coolest thing. the company they bought it from was replacing theirs with another.
and since we’ve got this one, not a single thing has been wrong with it!
works perfectly.
so, new stove for them. new for us! win all around. {thank you, Jesus}
and it’s way fancier than anything we would have been able to afford.
but you know what?
that thing shows grease, and dirt, and the occasional dog hair that floats in, like crazy.
again. full time job i’m thinking just to keep it clean!

and so, there i was, grumbling around.
finding myself easily frustrated with everything.
and it struck me that after years of fighting for contentment with what i had. making do.
now that i had nicer. better. the things i had wished for back then..
discontentment was still an issue!

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just as floors still get dirty. stoves, no matter how fancy, still need cleaned.
yes, hearts have to be renewed. swept out. the junk removed.
ever learning again and again where my joy is found.
never in what i don’t have. in what i think i need or want.
but always, in what i already have.~
and more than that. not in what i HAVE, who i AM!
my things do not define me.
my home. my kitchen. no matter how nice or state of the art or shiny or fancy or all
natural maple whatever can make me kind and gracious and pleasant to those i’m called
to serve within these four walls.
they can’t give me more patience or humility or love.~

that only comes from a heart tender, surrendered, seeing the bigger picture.
only in remembering it is so not about me. about any of this..
and only about a life that brings glory to God! that is the only place of rest.
because when we recognize that. accept that. we realize that whether we’re living in a small, cottage of a house in northern ontario, with a dishwasher you have to drag over to the sink! or 250-year-old farmhouse with snakes in the walls and drafty windows. or a rental home, through a miracle, you were able to buy and begin to fix up!

no matter what.
no matter where.
it’s about a greater purpose.
all these {{things}} are only the tools to accomplish that.
whether brand spanking new, or old, cracked, and barely working.
that’s when we discover true contentment.
when we’re happiest.
living with a focus on something beyond ourselves.

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but now if you’ll excuse me.. the sun is starting to peek in through the windows and
i’m looking at that lovely wood floor.

where’s my broom!!!! ;))

 

happy thursday, friends.
xo

{the house that made me}

we went home last week during the kids spring break.
we weren’t going to.
just so much going on.
the idea of packing and the extra cost and 10 hours in the car just didn’t sound that inviting.
i was craving rest. the kind that goes beyond just needing a good night’s rest.
but
which is spring break. only here, in canada, it’s known as march break.
go figure.
it gets so confusing at a times keeping all the american/ canadian things straight..
grade 4 vs. 4th grade
bbq vs. grill.
toque vs. hat
pro {long o} cess vs. pro {short o} cess
so many funny, just slightly different differences.
i like to throw in y’all every now and then too, just to confuse everyone.
here, people think i have an accent.
when i go home, people there say i sound canadian.
who knows, anymore. ha!

but we stayed an extra day when we were home.
i needed to.
shayne understands that. i’m glad he does.
i don’t know what it is.
sometimes when we’re set to leave, i just don’t feel ready.
well, part of me never really does.
but there are times. no, i mean it. i’m not ready.
it’s not out of my system yet. i haven’t felt my full time.
and if i leave before i feel that i struggle for days coming back with this huge void inside.
craziest thing.
home and family and our attachment to familiar places and yet without the people would they mean anything.

on our last night we went back by our old house.
it’s empty now.
a chain across the driveway.
it seemed so strange.
so distant. like another lifetime we’d lived there.
then again. walking up the drive, it felt strangely the same and like no time had passed at all.
that we should just walk right up, go in the backdoor, and sit at our kitchen table.
the place is all torn up inside actually.
like, someone has started renovating it, but stopped for whatever reason.
we looked in windows. and walked all around the property.
the woods have been cleared and a small pond dug out.

kate and ben were with us, not the little girls.
i stood back from the rest and just watched them most of the time.
the way they ran right to the spots they used to play.
their treehouse. and where their dog was buried.
i would hear them laugh about a funny memory.
then swallow back a tear as i saw their face grow sober.
they kept saying, “i miss this place!”

and ben said, “man! it seems smaller!”
i smiled.
he doesn’t realize, i don’t think, he’s actually bigger.

later i heard him say, “this is the house that made me..”

and i could feel it too.
the summer’s spent digging in my flower bed in front of the shed, now torn down.
the hours of tag and romping through the woods. the walks down to the river.
the nights sitting on the patio looking up at the stars.
the dreams of someday making that house ours. the way we were going to build on. fix up.
the photo shoots all around the property. kate’s 10th birthday.
christmas parties.
shayne’s work crew {the shayne gang as they were called}
the sweet tea drank as we all sat around when they got back from work each day.
the dogs and stray cats that showed up.
the dogs and stray cats we kept!

the tears shed there. the laughter. the fights. the falling apart.
the finding out we were pregnant with emma. and the feeling sad that reese would never know that house.
the landlords that were so kind to us.
10 kids of their own and they called us, “just one of them.”
the snakes in the basement. the bat in the bathroom. the bird in the living room.
the fears that were faced. the dreams that were made. the late nights writing.
the walls filled with so much. our lives! our making, as ben said.

and then this weird, nostalgia that swept behind us as we walked back down the long, windy drive to the road.
i saw my kids walking over in the woods. one last look at something.
a grape vine they used to swing on, i think. though no longer there.
i smiled.
i felt the wind. the coolness of the evening setting in.
all the evenings we had spent there.
those pieces of us left behind.
that we only find again by going back.

the old place had changed. just like we had.
more worn now. tired. older. quieter.
but we knew what it held.
what it was. what it had helped us become..
and something in me will always miss that place.

{the mess of christmas}

lights

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yesterday was one of those mornings i felt tired before even getting out of bed.
followed soon after by the toddler meltdown over having to wear her coat to school.
{sorry, baby. we live in CANADA! get your flippin coat on!!!!!!!}
then the dog tracked mud all over the entry.
and the whole middle of the house looks like it’s been blown up from the kitchen reno.
{those shows on hgtv? yeah, lies!! all of them!!}

after the kids were finally off to school i sat on the couch.
my shoulders slumping over further with the mess that seemed to
meet me in every direction i looked-
plywood floors colored over by my kids and every other kid in the neighborhood.
pipes exposed. two by fours piled. sawdust building. pots and pans
stacked along the wall.

“i’m just not sure much christmas is going to get up..” i thought to myself.
and i could feel the grumpiness, the discontentment, setting in.

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funny with all that, because for 18 years i’ve had these tiny, ugly kitchens..
never owned a brand new anything hardly.
now that we’re gutting the kitchen and getting all this new
you would think i’d be ecstatic.
which i am.
only.
and this is the thing with discontentment.
it’s never about what i have. or even what i’m getting.
discontentment only looks at the now!
it’s always about what i don’t have. in this moment!

like a disease
eating away at my peace.
and when my life is not grounded in peace, i am easily shaken by the tiniest things…
stressed. overwhelmed. consumed. miserable.

what is going on INSIDE me is what comes OUT of me!
and what comes out of me is what aura will fill my home.
{sobering thought}

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later that evening. as the little girls sat next to me on the couch.
emma, out of the blue {but sometimes i wonder if God doesn’t just even..}
pipes up and says, “I love our house.”

i looked down at her. almost shocked.
and she wasn’t even looking at me.
she was fiddling with whatever was in her hand and saying it as if to no one.
but i knew who it was for.
i smiled. though she couldn’t see me. and kissed her head. “i’m glad.”
and suddenly, right then, it clicked.
i saw it.

that the beauty of our home to my family is {way} more in what is felt than what is seen.
what matters most is a place of safety and acceptance and unconditional.
it is the spirit i create more than the spaces i decorate.

sure i like to decorate. i think it’s important. even needed. i think my family likes it too.
but not to the extent of allowing it to rob my joy.
cause me to get sulky and snappy when things aren’t as i want.
or living in comparison to everyone else whose homes seem
more perfect and put together.
thinking somehow if mine were, that my kids would be happier? feel more loved?

i wonder at times why i do what i do.
when i get wound up all tight that another day’s past and the tree’s not up or the storage bins even down from the garage. who is it all for? could we have christmas without all the s t u f f?

i know it’ll happen. eventually.
we’ll haul those bins in. the tree will make it.
we might even stay on schedule with our advent.
we’ll have christmas, just like every other year, and it will be grand.
but. even if it doesn’t all end up looking exactly how i wish, or go according to plan..
that’s okay too.

i want to be a mom that creates and nurtures a home my kids want
to come to. enjoy being in.
and i have a feeling that has nothing to do with how well it’s decorated.
and everything to do with how i made them feel.

and when things get messy. as they do and will. and some seasons messier than others.
may i remember even in that there is good.
because what does the mess represent?
LIFE.
blessing.
process.
change.

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so. excuse me while i go wipe the dry wall dust from a plate for my lunch and sit and look around at the same mess that was here yesterday – only, it’s looking a little different today.

 

 

a contented heart makes the loveliest homes.

 

{we’re not through yet}

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i sit on the bed and he across from me on the other side of the room.
both our shoulders slumped.
mine even more.

i feel the extra burden of wanting so badly to say the magic words to make the light come on and everything to suddenly make sense and be easy like it was when he was younger and i thought my worst battle was trying to get him to sit still and not hang upside down from his chair while i homeschooled him.

now. moments like this…
i wish for those simpler days of a hyper boy standing on his head during math.

i stand to leave his room. and pause.
“is there anything else you want to say?”

and you wait for something like,”thanks, mom! this is exactly what i needed!! i know God is using you and dad in my life and tomorrow, i think i’m going to go start a bible study in the neighborhood…” ;)

instead. it’s only a shrug and slight nod, “no.”
and i pause longer. {oh, those pauses. how many will we have throughout motherhood – when everything inside us is screaming to just “fix it,” and yet you know.. you know the fixing cannot come from you} so, i let out a soft sigh under my breath and turn and walk out.

later i tell shayne, “sometimes i get fearful in all this parenting stuff. are we doing it right? are they going to make it?” {and when things weigh heavy on our hearts the enemy of our soul works overtime to convince us the darkness is darker and light cannot win.}

but shayne smiles calm, as he always does, and puts his arm around me –

“we’re not through yet. there’s going to be tough places along the way, but i’m confident the kids are going to be just fine!”

—-

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it’s been weeks ago now that i recorded that in my journal.
but a conversation in the kitchen last night, going into the wee hours of the morning..
and feeling that familiar fear, had this truth meeting my discouraged heart when i woke up.

we’re not through yet!

i love that word. through.
it’s a journey.
beautiful. wonderful.
we’re crossing this life together.
kids. parents. all learning.
but there’s going to be rocky parts.
the ebb and flow of the tide.
things are going to get stormy.
there will be those times of stale mate across a bedroom floor.
midnight talks in the kitchen of tears and frustration.
those feelings that you’ve completely screwed up. done it all wrong. ruined them.

that they’re too far gone.
heart too hardened.
nothing can penetrate.

but when God is our God, that’s just not the case.
because greater is HE.
GREATER is He!!!
He never stops saving us. rescuing. coming to our aid as we cry out.
He doesn’t just restore, He redeems.
He takes what might seem broken and all wrong, and gives back something better.
nothing stumps Him. nothing stops Him. nothing sever’s His will being accomplished.

so in God’s economy –
there’s no such thing as too far gone.
too hardened.
or too screwed up.

and as we’re going t h r o u g h we can go through with calm and confidence.
there’s no need to fear.
because we’ve got this?
no. because of WHO’s got us!!

i’m learning, or relearning some things lately though.
like, choosing battles in parenting.
asking myself, “why does it matter?”
is it based in fear? my own pride? wanting to squeeze them into my mold? worrying what other’s might think?

oh, man! how i’ve parented too many times from the perspective of others opinions!
social media has revealed this in my heart big time.
“you put WHAT on twitter?” ;)
not necessarily because it was “bad,” only… yes, “what will so-so think?”
so there’s times i have to just let them be themselves and let something go –
even if it might cause others to judge them. i have to rest in how God is calling shayne and i to parent.
and no, that’s not always like everyone else parents.

but in letting things go, i also have to be willing to hold onto some things too.
to not be afraid to take strong stands with my kids.
they’re my best friends and of course i want to please them and be “popular” with them ;)
but i’m their parent first and have to be willing at times to risk a little popularity
in order to protect and guide where they can’t see they need it.
to remind them that yeah, they better believe i love them exactly as they are right now –
but i love their future selves as well!
and they don’t always get that.
{it’s okay. they will one day}

how many of us can recall things we hated and didn’t understand our parents doing?
a decision. a boundary. a rule. a sleep-over we weren’t allowed going to?
and yet, looking back we see the wisdom of it.

parents-
love them through.
walk them through.
PRAY them through.

more important than clean rooms and pants pulled up over their boxers are HEARTS!
and good thing God is in the heart changing business and always a very present help when it seems their hearts are far away.

it’s such a delicate balance of guiding these young, moldable hearts
and yet not allowing ourselves to get in the way of GOD’s work in their hearts.

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i remember when my two oldest started high school after homeschooling them the eight years prior.
i was afraid of all the things people said about public school.
what if it was true? the drugs and partying and sex?

well, it turns out what they say about public school is pretty accurate.
lots of scary stuff there.

one day while washing the dishes and worrying over the, “what if’s?”
it’s like God said to me, “yes, what if? am i not big enough for those things too?”

and though we’ve not had drugs, or drinking, or sex to deal with yet we have had other things..
some that landed us in counseling with one child a year and a half ago.
and i went through the shame at first, but then, crazy found freedom that, we were that family! and it was okay.

no matter what.
homeschooling.
public school.
super strict rules.
or more lenient.
unless The Lord had been our help we would have never made it through.
and be making it through still!

it’s about daily humbling ourselves and recognizing we can’t do this in our own strength.
that we have a God that loves our kids far more than we ever could and we must avail ourselves of His power by coming boldly before His throne of grace, crying out for our sons and daughters. do we think that Christ would die on the cross for us when we were still sinners, and now that we are His children He’s going to leave us desolate and not come to our aid?

i’m convinced more and more that all these things –
the hardships. the battles. the fears. they are for our GOOD!
because they drive us to Him. dependent. needy.
and in our need He meets us there and His glory shines through all our cracks and brokenness.

so keep running to The One whose parent heart beats deepest.
and rest on His unconditional, all-wise love.

i know the battle is intense for these kids of ours.
and i want to shout out loud and clear to all you fellow warrior mama’s –

carry on!!

carry on.

—-

and since this feels to be a very personal post..
anytime i write about my kids i weigh the words carefully.
i want to say to those who have asked before about me being so open here-
God has brought shayne and i, and the older kids, to a place where we’re kinda tired of the bull crap. {anyone?}

we don’t want to just do the “good christian, cookie cutter thing.”
to play a part. go through the motions.

we want real and authentic.
and at times that means opening our mouths and making ourselves vulnerable to share our story.
easy to do 10 years down the road, but harder when we’re still going through it..
but sometimes, God wants while still in the middle. before its necessarily all sorted out nice and neat.

and there is a wonderful freedom in letting go of what others think.
to be able to own your own junk and be okay with it.
to admit, this is where we are.
and it might not be where we need to be. where we could be.
but praise God, it’s not where we used to be!!

every day is NEW. and we’re moving forward.
one grace paved step at a time!

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{merry christmas from the hutch house}

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i’m writing this in the van, while riding to cincinnati for christmas.

i’m thinking of all the times we’ve traveled this road. back and forth and back and forth.
of the way we’ve sat here just like this, shayne and i.
so much feels the same. so much different.
i see the biggest difference in the four people behind me.
how when these journey’s first started there wasn’t any little extensions of us.
then one.. and oh, how long those trips would seem.
me climbing over the seat to sit next to her and soothe her tears.
and then two. and three. and less frequent trips.

but then comes four and the biggest trip of all. moving back north!

and as the wheels turn again and us heading home, from our home..
yes, my heart spins it all round and recalls these years.
the hard. the beautiful.

the ice weighs heavy on the trees, bending them right over to the ground.
they say stronger winds are coming later that afternoon.
shayne says if they do the wind will snap so many of them in two.

i think of that as i watch them pass.
which ones will hold up. which ones will fall.

how many times when winds came i wondered the same of us.

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i smile over at shayne.
my heart so often in these past years here feeling that bend like the trees outside
and yet here we are. we’ve not broken.
we’re still standing.
roots dug in deeper.
going down further. holding on.

i ask the kids what stands out to them of this past year.
what they’ve learned and what God’s taught them.
funny, some of the very things they say are some of the very things i was thinking – have seen in my own life.

i realize two things. we really are on this journey of growing right along with our kids.
and.. we never get to an age where we stop learning.
and more importantly.. needing to learn.

this past year like all the others has held it’s hard.
it’s parts i thought we’d never survive.
those parts that made me feel i hadn’t really known hard till then.
it’s one thing when it’s you. when it’s your heart fighting through..
but your kids! the struggles of faith and question. the fear that sets in as you watch.
like wondering if those trees will hold when the wind comes.
and what if you see them break. parts falling off and dealing with things you never thought you would.-
but reminded while i hear them talk that this is the very reason Christ came to begin with.
what it is we’re celebrating –
the healing He offers. the hope He gives.
the way He takes what is broken and makes it new.

and i find myself glad for the broken parts.
the cracks and flaws so obvious that there’s no need to try to impress others.
the freedom found in simply saying, “this is me.” and being okay with that.
not that change won’t come. that change doesn’t need to come.
but recognizing the grace to be in the midst of it all~
yes. the grace to be. how i want to breathe that in and live it.

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at times i feel i always write the same thing here.
maybe only sounding a bit less frantic, a little more resolute.

i was reading over what i had wrote from december 2011 and told shayne i was just going to copy it here because it still was so much my heart now~

of this, the ongoing struggle of trust.
“…whether God was truly who He said He was~
which isn’t that what every struggle really boils down to?
from the beginning of time when Satan tried to make Eve doubt God’s word…
isn’t that his plan of attack still?
Can God really be trusted?

and Everything in our entire life hangs on how we answer that.
everything is shaped by that truth.

it’s the object of where we choose to put our trust that determines our level of joy
and lasting freedom from the chains that bind us.

now- now as i think back over it all. here as this year winds to a close…
i can’t say it was in some great jubilant victory, or any kind of extraordinary faith, that my heart finally found rest.
but simply. that in all my struggling. HE KEPT ME.

when everything inside wanted to turn and run as fast as i could in the other direction..
when i wanted to quit and give up and stop trying…
when reading my Bible was like chewing dry toast, and i couldn’t swallow it down.
when praying was only, “dear father..” then silence and tears.
when i didn’t know what to pray, how to pray.
There was something {Someone} beyond my own strength holding it all together.
holding me.”

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and i wish there were some way to express how deeply i feel this.
some way for this mere keyboard to capture the raw emotion and amazement of His grace.
but i have a feeling most of you reading, get it.
that most of you reading have things in your life this past year where you felt Him like this.

He never stops being God. whether i believe Him or not.
His mercy never stops raining. His grace never stops to giving. and His love..
His love just never stops loving.

and i keep thinking how this. this is the real message of Christmas~
a God that never stops coming after me!
from that first night so long ago as a little baby humbly entering this world.
to now, every day of my life, a Sovereign Lord and Victorious Saviour.

and with His coming peace!
the peace we all seek and want and desire became possible –
because Peace was now a Person! and only in Him do we find it.

and the simple beauty of it all is..
because He came – i can now come to Him!
because He came. there is HOPE. always hope.”

yes. that is still my heart.
HE KEPT ME.
and Keeps me still.

and i know whatever the days ahead hold – He will Keep me there too.

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it’s a journey i’ve taken many times with Him.
this coming back again and again.
different roads. same lessons. deeper heart.

grasping it more and more that there is nothing we ever face..
problems in marriage
or with our children
or other relationships..
no amount of heartache
or questions
or pain…
nothing {absolutely nothing} is beyond being able to be fixed and repaired and restored.

no matter how hopeless something may seem. no matter how far gone. or how deeply buried –

there is always a way –
because HE IS THE WAY!!!

i love that.

~ “I am the Way. The Truth. and the Life.” jn. 14:6

what began back THEN on that first Christmas night, continues even NOW..
God came down and invaded our lives with His presence~
not only inviting us to come near to Him,
but making the way for that to be possible.
Glorious Intruder that heals and redeems and restores!

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thank you, Lord Jesus.. for coming to this world to make a way for me!
for laying down your life so that i could find mine.
and i’m not really sure what you think of all the hoopla this time of year~
in some ways it seems silly to wish you a happy birthday…
but i will say this – i’m glad you were born! :)

at the start He was there
in the end, He’ll be there

and after all our hands have wrought
He forgives

oh the Glory of it all is:
He came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live

when All is lost
find Him there
after night
dawn is there

after all falls apart
He repairs

oh He is here
for redemption from the fall
that we may live
for the glory of it all

after night
comes the light
dawn is here
dawn is here
it’s a new day
everything will change
things will never be the same
we will never be the same
we will never be the same

oh, the glory of it all is:
You came here
for the rescue of us all
that we may live
for the glory of it all

oh You are here
with redemption for us all
THAT WE MAY LIVE
for the glory of it all

oh the glory of it all

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may the wonder of it strike you in a fresh way.
and as you reflect over what He’s done in your life this past year, may you trace His hand in it all.

>>><<<

wishing you all a very merry christmas~

from our home to yours!

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with love,

amber
{for us all!}

 

{thanksgiving home}

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last thanksgiving i was kneeling on my knees in front of the coffee table in my living room.
my computer propped up on a pillow in front of me..
straining to see all the faces of my family far away.

so i was beyond excited to actually be there this year!
real life thanksgiving beats skype thanksgiving any day!!!

i was thinking as we drove down how many times we have – back and forth – in these 17 years…
what a blessing it is to have a husband who’s willing to.
he promised that when we were engaged. to take me home as often as i needed.
funny at times to go home. only to come home.
and then discovering in it all that really.. he is the place i feel most at home of all!

and i think i was most thankful for that this thanksgiving!

>>>>><<<<<

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it was such a good visit home.

lots of laughing and game playing and goofing off and black friday shopping at two in the morning!
but serious times too of prayer and hugs and nice long talks.

i came away feeling so connected to them all again and that’s important to me living away from them..
and also difficult at times since i do live away.
keeping that sense of connection and closeness.

it takes effort to stay in touch. and with brothers especially communication can get scarce-
but grateful no matter what or how much time passes we always pick up like nothing has changed at all.

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>>>>><<<<<

i was so glad to see my mom in good health again.
she’s had a rough year with her ms and it makes it extra tough to not be close when she’s not doing well.

one thing that always amazes me about mom – healthy or not – is how she serves her family!
tell her your favorite dessert is chocolate cake with white icing and you will get chocolate cake with
white icing for the rest of your life!

she remembers that stuff about people.

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she’s a details person. gift giver. preparation lover..
and i knew it was bothering her because she had mentioned it several times to me over the phone.
that we wouldn’t be sitting at a table for thanksgiving meal~
their home is not big and as our family’s grown and also included a few at times like this one –
a mom and her son whose husband is deployed – well, we just don’t all fit!

thanksgiving night we had people sleeping everywhere, all over every inch of bed and couch and floor.
but i love that that’s never deterred mom from being hospitable –
she just says this is what we’ve got and we’ll make it work!
even giving up her own bed and sleeping on the couch.

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on thanksgiving i caught her for a split second, standing, looking around the family room.
i knew what she was thinking.
probably a moment of wishing for a bigger home.

“but this is what thanksgiving is about,” i assured her. “this right here!
of a packed house and packed hearts…”
people that feel welcomed and wanted and loved.

no fancy tablescapes in all the world could give us the joy we felt eating off those t.v. trays!!

i was saying it to her, but really.. she’s the one who taught it to me!

reminds me of some of the last things grandma was saying to me as we hugged goodbye.
telling me as her and grandpa get older that it’s hard to not just want to stop…
to spend their days sitting around because their bodies maybe can’t keep up the way they used to.

“but sitting around can lead to selfishness,” she said. “so we try to stay busy.
we visit friends in the hospital. those who are all alone and need some encouragement.
we might have to come home and take a nap, and then go again.. but we go!”

and i smiled as she talked because i hear the years of wisdom there.
the truth of investing in others to keep the focus off our own worries and struggles.
that life is about people. and we’re happiest when we’re about people too!

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i love my family.
far from perfect and a bit dysfunctional at times
but so blesSed with the home God has given me..
inside the hearts of these i love~

>>>>><<<<<

speaking of homes..
we came back to a for sale sign in our yard.
we knew it was getting listing.
just not this quickly.
kinda made my stomach flop at first-
wondering all the “what if’s?”

but clinging to this truth my mom text me the next day..
“Lord, YOU have been our dwelling place throughout all generations!”

and when i look out the window and see that little green sign stuck there i know it’s only a sign for me to remember ~
He’s got it all under control.

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coming back home sunday night the sky was magnificent!
“i believe in God like i believe in the sun..
not because i can see it, but by it i can see everything else.”

amen & AMEN!!! :)