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A New Blog.

Why?

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I’ve been thinking about making a new blog for a while now. Why? Reading my old stuff makes me cringe. Kind of like seeing the pictures of a much younger me with bleach blonde hair and orange skin (to be fair, I called the orange skin thing…I distinctly remember a seventeen year old me sitting with a friend at lunch and saying “I just know I’m going to look back at pictures of myself and wonder why I thought I looked good with orange skin.”) . Just like tanning beds, I’m done with that old blog!

Like i said, I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. WHY NOW, you ask? My husband, Alex, put on the new Power Ranger’s movie because he was “curious” (AKA totally channeling HIS younger self), and I just didn’t have it in me to actually watch it.

I didn’t want a fancy website because I’m not really trying to be a “blogger,” I just wanted an outlet to share my thoughts and experiences to relentlessly share on my social media feeds! Just kidding. I will probably text most of the links to the family members I think may be slightly interested in what I’m experiencing and/or thinking about. (Hi, mom!) I am not saying I won’t ever post a link to my social media because sometimes the desire to share something about myself gets the best of me and I just can’t help it. Surely, you can relate.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

This is Hard.

If I can take a moment to be honest, I’d like to share a few thoughts.

My instinct tells me what I’m about to do proves I am incapable, ungrateful, and selfish. I hope you will gracefully walk with me as I share and process.

The past 7-8 months have been some of the hardest of my life. I can’t remember a time in my life when I cried myself to sleep more than I have in the past few months. My body has responded to the stress in unique and sometimes scary ways. I’ve never been more aware of the sin and idols in my heart. My capacities as a friend, mom, wife, sister, and daughter have been limited.

More often than not, the response to the question, “how are you?” has been, “I’m okay.”

Some random thoughts:

1) If you pray for God to refine you during a season, he will listen. The prayer leading into this season was, “help me to lean on you more.” I sure have needed him a lot.

2) My greatest temptation to sin involves anything that promises rest, comfort, and escape. I’m really good at justifying actions that are sinful, meaningless, and selfish. One of my greatest fears is that Eleanor will look back on our life together and picture me on my phone. I’m praying for self control and discipline with technology.

3) Boundaries are essential. I’ve had to have difficult conversations with people I love most regarding topics of conversation I can and cannot have with them. My capacities to “take on” other people’s issues are limited right now, and I do believe we can wisely discern how/what/when we do walk with others in their relationship/personal struggles. Some discerning questions I often consider: Is this an actual issue or is it gossip/venting disguised as a call for help? Does this issue need to be handled within the confines of a marriage? Is it inappropriate for me to step in? Do I even have any wisdom/experience/input of value to offer? I know there are times I have sounded “mean” or like “I don’t care,” but really for the health of myself, the other person, our relationship, and potentially the relationship between them and other people, I had to establish some boundaries. Boundaries do not mean I don’t care, but really, they mean the exact opposite. I do care, but if you’d like me to care in better and more meaningful ways, I need the freedom to recognize when a conversation has drifted past my zone of comfort or capacity to help. We were never meant to be all things to all people.

4) Weakness and limitations do not  mean we are disqualified from service. My big yes’s to things are always covered in prayer. During this season of loneliness, solo parenting, and a never ending to do list, I’ve found passion, energy, and strength to serve our church in new ways than I could before. My weakness does not disqualify me, because my service to the church does not depend fully on me. There are roles, responsibilities, and expectations I must fulfill, but the Lord has been so gracious to provide MANY people who give so much of themselves, their time, and their giftings to have the ministry of the church succeed. I have never felt alone in that and it fills me with encouragement and energizes me in a unique way. That role continuously humbles and reminds me that none of this is really about me and my striving. The self induced stress and worry is from me, not from God and his expectations of me. It causes me to continuously step back and reflect on the areas in my life that are causing me frustration, worry, and stress and reevaluate the importance of them. It reminds me of my weakness and inability to do it all. It also reminds me of the weakness I believe is a strength- my struggle to ask for help. The Lord is so gracious to give us community.

6) Help/support does not always look  how I think it should. That does not mean it isn’t there. There are a lot of personal emotions and complex factors about this one, so I will say that and be done.

7) Grace is essential. I would like to think I model biblical truths in the form of instruction and story telling to Eleanor, but really, more than ever, I model my need for grace. Do you know know humbling it is to ask for forgiveness from a two year old? Thankfully for me, she’s the best at hugging it out.

8) Rest does not have to be separate from doing. I have prayed for and been given rest while cleaning up vomit for the fifth time in a day, while dealing with an over tired and over stimulated little girl screaming and needing a little glimpse of peace in the midst of intense and difficult feelings, while sweeping my floors, and while confessing my sin and inability to perfectly love God and others. I think I need to be able to escape to feel refreshed. God never has to escape from us or get a break to be faithful to us, what a gift that he willingly shares his strength with us when we ask. Why do I so often forget to ask?

9) There are good days and bad days. Neither decide my worth in God’s eyes. We have the freedom to have bad days, because even on our best days, we still need God’s grace to cover us. The Lord redeems our best and worst days.

10) Some of the most profound and impactful things I’ve read and listened to during this season have been written for children. How often do I need reminding that God delights in me? That he created me and loves me just as he made me? That his grace is the best gift we can ever receive?

 

 

White Elephant Gifts That People May Actually Enjoy

$5-15

Going to a party with a bunch of parents or people who work with children? Why not ABC’s for the little G’s  ($12.95)

I would question ANYONE who doesn’t love these  Incredible Hulk Oven Mitts   ($14.95 Disney Store)

Have any foodie friends? This Rapper’s Delight Cookbook      ($12.76 on Amazon) is pretty fun.

This is also for your foodie/planning friends. I use this at home and love it. I’ve also purchased it for a white elephant party before with a fun pen. Knock Knock What to Eat Pad ($7 Amazon)

Work party? These funny memo pads  ($10.99 Amazon) are pretty awesome!

I bet there is SOMEONE out there that would say, “actually, yes, I would like to try a toilet night light ($10.99 Amazon).”

Winter time = sock time. Why not get some new fresh and fun socks  ($10.99 amazon)  and a face mask for a girls gift exchange?

Most adults like puns, right? Also, snail mail is back in. Combine the two with these awesome pun greeting cards ($9.95 Amazon)

We own this game and it’s actually a lot of fun: The Game of Poo. ($9.95 Amazon)

Are you the resident Debby downer of your group? This is sure to be true to form!  Bad Days in History: A Gleefully Grim Chronicle of Misfortune, Mayhem, and Misery for Every Day of the Year  ($10.39 Amazon)

$15-$25

I once bought the CD ROM version of the Oregon Trail for a white elephant gift, but this   handheld Oregon Trail game    ($24.99) looks pretty awesome.

The thing everyone is curious about and few actually buy: The Squatty Potty ($19.99 Amazon)

Every party has that one person that would want this: Jokin’ in the John ($17.99 Amazon)

If you’re not sure why this would be a hit, then you probably are not on Instagram: Letter Felt Board ($19.99 Amazon)

NOT EVERYTHING YOU READ OR LISTEN TO IS TRUE!!! JUST CLICK HERE AND BUY THIS IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO MAKE A POINT! ($15.95 Amazon)

 

There are so many more goodies out there! What’s the best white elephant gift you have given/received?

Summer Recap

Whew! This summer flew by!

When I was a newlywed, a friend recommend recapping each year at a duty station as a way to re-evaluate my goals, priorities, and the ways the Lord has worked in my life. This is very helpful in recognizing areas in my life I need to readjust, keep the same, or completely change. Whenever I experience a season of big change, I like to evaluate it as soon I as collect my thoughts rather than waiting until the end of the year.

Here we go:

1) when the Lord calls me to something, it doesn’t mean it will be easy because he gave a clear yes. I  prayerfully considered my “yes’s” for the summer. Those “yes’s” included a 90 day Bible read through, organizing and facilitating the elementary age program for our Thursday AM Bible study, and participating in a “How to Write A Sermon” class. These yes’s were ones I will never regret or forget. But all of those yes’s required a lot of self discipline, time, and work. And it doesnt even include any outside stress from parenting, sickness, and other random “oh no’s” thrown in! There were plenty of days I was overwhelmed and recognized the limitations of my strength. I frequently prayed about these things and was amazed by the motivation, encouragement, and sense of purpose I received. It truly was a time of completely relying on the Lord to parent Eleanor, fulfill commitments, and do them to the best of my ability. The Lord helped me to do “hard” things. And I’m pretty proud of all three of them. It was amazing and life giving to read the Bible in 90 days (my first time reading the whole Bible!) It was enlightening to see all the time and work that goes into making a sermon. I’m proud of the one I put together, but it took me weeks to do! I have a newfound appreciation for pastors who do it week after week! The children’s program left a stamp on my heart forever. The volunteers that helped were helpful, life giving, and showed up to be part of something, not just to be a body in the room.  The kids were amazing. They are funny, insightful, and smart. It was such a fun time to affirm and encourage those that during his life, Jesus looked on with love and said, “the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” The Lord, in His unending strength, gave me strength to do what He called me to.

2) The church is less “you can do it!” And more “we can do it!” I had to ask for a lot of help this summer. With Eleanor. With my dog. With the children’s program. Along with this, I’ve learned asking for help shouldn’t be the  thing I’ve built it up to be in my mind. When people ask me for help, I’m pretty confident in my yes’s and no’s, so I now assume that if people can/want to help, they will say yes, and if that can’t/don’t want to, they will say no. I used to assume anyone I asked wished they could say no, but feel an obligation to say yes. The selflessness I experienced from my friends and church family was encouraging. The eagerness I witnessed other people have to help me personally, and the church, was encouraging. It is freeing to be part of a community that says, “let’s do this together.” Sometimes we just need the boldness to ask, “will you do this with me?”

3) Contentment can be found in less fruitful/difficult seasons. Expectations often get in the way of my contentment. Disappointment, frustration, and a desire for more can be indicators of a much needed change. Sometimes that change includes my circumstances. Other times that change involves my expectations. During the summer, a pretty consistent prayer was, “Lord, I feel _______, please give me discernment regarding my call to action (or inaction). Help me to find fulfillment in you. Help to me have faith that you are bigger than this feeling and that your will is MUCH bigger than mine.”

4) Ultimately, my circumstances teach me way more about God than they teach me about myself. God’s strength and faithfulness carried me through the summer. God’s family encouraged, helped, and supported me in more ways than I can count. Only in Christ is true contentment found. He>me.

I learned a bunch of other things, too, but these are my big takeaways. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve experienced a season of refining and the lessons you learned. Seriously. The things I write about are things I like to talk about. (Not exclusively though :))

 

-Kelsey

Worthwhile Clicks 9/13/18

A round up of things on the internet I found thought provoking, enjoyable, or amusing.

1) It’s All Gift  “But if God gave it to me, then I will hold it loosely, knowing I have no rights to it, that it could have been given to someone else just as easily. If you’re work-minded, you own things; if you’re gift-minded, you steward them and give them away as soon as you’re asked. Easy come, easy go.”

2) God’s Will Is Not a “Choose Your Own Adventure” Book  “The Apostle Paul said, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). You can count on God’s faithful, consistent love, because that love isn’t based on your goodness. It’s based on his. He doesn’t give up on you, even when you give up on him.

If you’re not dead, God’s not done.”

3) NUTRITIONAL MINUTIAE DOESN’T REALLY MATTER AS MUCH AS WE THINK IT DOES 

I’m not yelling, I just copied and pasted the title and apparently CAPS lock was on. This is definitely something I’ve struggled with. “Sure, food plays a role in our health and we want to honor our health with our food choices. But if your food choices are causing you more stress, isolating you from social situations, disconnecting you emotionally, not satisfying your tastebuds and cravings, or leaving you feeling chaotic and out of control around certain foods…your food choices are not healthy at all.”

4) The One Question I Never Ask Myself

“A few years ago I watched a television special about man who traveled around United States and other nations and asked people if they were happy. From what I remember the other nations were predominantly poor nations. And what stood out to me from the program was that it seems the United States is the only nation where people ask themselves if they are happy. When the interviewer asked people in poorer nations if they were happy usually got the answer, “I don’t even think about that question.””

5) 12 Letters That Didn’t Make the Alphabet

Imagine singing the ABC’s with these letters/sounds. “You know the alphabet. It’s one of the first things you’re taught in school. But did you know that they’re not teaching you all of the alphabet? There are quite a few letters we tossed aside as our language grew, and you probably never even knew they existed.”

 

 

Christian Moms, let’s be known for….

Our consistency in the things that truly matter. Even a person with only an ounce of humility recognizes that  most of our opinions, preferences, and ideas change as quickly as our toddlers’ mood. My opinion regarding sleep training changed when I didn’t sleep for six months. Exposure, experiences, and life alters our perception and understanding of different things. Let’s be known for being consistent in the one thing that should never change: our desire to bring glory to God. In motherhood. In our marriage. At work. At home. While eating fast food. While eating a super healthy Instagram worthy meal.

Our encouragement. Let’s practice less information sharing and more encouragement. Let’s give fellow moms permission to have a rough day with their child without recommending a “quick” fix. Let’s let real encouragement dominate 90% of our conversation and information sharing consist of 10% (OR LESS!) of our speech. I’m convinced that the cruelist thing to do to a new mom is present solution after solution without recognizing that the entrance into motherhood is HARD and sometimes babies just cry. Or don’t sleep.  Or just need time to also figure out what it means to be a part of the family.  Also, have you ever felt like you know every stance and method a mom friend has in regards to parenting, while never really knowing anything about your friend’s heart? Or struggles (in or outside of motherhood)? Or needs? Or accomplishments? Or joys? Let’s have deep, meaningful relationships with other people that aren’t dominated by opinions and preferences we may or may not have in five years.  Also, important to note,  maybe our mom friend doesn’t even need encouragement. Maybe she just needs someone to listen. That’s pretty invaluable too. Maybe another helpful question to ask is, “I’d love to support you right now. What do you need from me?”

Our reasonableness. Do we really need to share every click bait article regarding the new dangerous food, ingredient, or product out there? Maybe the reasonable choice regarding a legitimate recall or product that makes us uncomfortable is to not use/eat/buy it. That’s legitimate. But maybe  reasonableness also looks like NOT sharing an article that causes fear or anxiety in us. Maybe reasonableness sometimes looks like waiting. Usually these articles are based on one study that a reporter found a loose basis to make a strong statement to grab as many clicks as possible.  Maybe it is wise to wait and see what other studies (that are sure to be done) suggest. Maybe it is wise to tell ourselves to wait 24-48 hours before sharing. Maybe with time to reflect and prayerfully consider our response to something that produces anxiety, we will see that it isn’t as big as our minds made it to be. A constant prayer I have when I feel fear creeping in is “Lord, reduce this issue to it’s proper place. Increase my faith in You.” Let’s not be so easily swayed by every controversy happening on an almost daily basis.

Our discernment. Just like we should be prayerfully considering what and when we share with fellow mom friends, let’s also prayerfully consider the information shared with us. What do I need to learn from this? If I’m feeling offended, why? How can I let small offenses go? If I disagree with the opinion or information, how can I lovingly respond or redirect? Do I need to be teachable here and fight defensiveness? We can learn from each other, we just need to discern how we communicate with each other and apply (or not apply) what is said.

Our prayerfulness. Let’s be faithful in our prayers for one another. More than I need someone to say “you’re doing great!” I need someone to say, “wow, I will be praying for you (or Eleanor). I know it is in our nature for you to have a weak moment that results in yelling, but I will be praying that the Lord works in your heart and produces fruit the next time you are frustrated.” (p.s. I am SO blessed to have friends that say these things and that’s how I know how amazing it is).

Our willingness to speak Truth to one another. I absolutely cherish my friendships that speak to to my soul. I have friends share article and verses fighting pride. Or anxiety. Or any other various issue that deters from what I said I long to be consistent in (glory to God). These friends recognize that motherhood is a big part of my life right now, but that I also have a soul that needs truth. Motherhood is humbling and refining, but we need more than affirmation and agreement regarding our mothering. We need truth that is constant in every season. The Lord can be glorified in our mothering, but more than that, He can be glorified regardless of our circumstances and in every life change. Motherhood is important and a beautiful privilege, but let’s not cater all of our study and reflection on it either. Let’s let truth reign in our hearts and we will see how it applies every day, in every situation.

 

This list is not exhaustive. And it isn’t something I’ve perfected either. All of these things listed came from my own reflection of the type of friend I’d like to be, too. (Not the friend I already am…). It also was inspired by friends I have who model this so well. Let’s give each other grace and patience. Let’s carry one another’s burdens. Let’s be known for so much more than the labels we like to slap on one another. Let’s be known for establishing real, diverse, and meaningful community. Let’s challenge each other with truth when we start to dwell on things that take our eyes and hearts away from it. Let’s encourage each other with our words and service. Let’s expect more from ourselves. He is faithful to empower us to love each other as He loves us.

 

An Obedient Parent

“Years ago I attended a parenting class focused on encouraging obedience in our homes. The following general expectations were highlighted:
1) Obedience should be immediate.
2) Obedience should be complete.
3) Obedience should be with a joyful attitude.
I sat in the classroom staring at the board in contemplative silence. Truthfully, I wasn’t thinking about my children’s obedience. I was thinking about my own. The standard of obedience I was to enforce for my children was much higher than the standard of obedience I typically apply to myself. When faced with the various tasks the Lord has given me for the day, I can be slow to obey. I can leave jobs incomplete. And I can often approach my work with a less than joyful attitude.
Let me clarify, the standard given in the class wasn’t wrong. Jesus never lowered the standard so we could meet it. He didn’t take away the law; He fulfilled it on our behalf. We shouldn’t lower the standard for our children, but we can be sympathetic and considerate of their need for grace as we enforce it.”
-Melissa Kruger Walking With God in the Season of Motherhood. Pgs 213-214
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.”
2 John 1:6 NIV
May we be obedient in the command to love our neighbor (children) as we establish and enforce rules, boundaries, and expectations for our children. May grace rule our priorities and  responses. May frustration and disappointment be indicators of an issue, not a guiding force behind how we respond to our  children. May God’s grace redeem and restore the times that it does.

What Am I Going To Do?

Just in case you didn’t already know, I’m one of those “flexible control freaks.” Meaning I can be flexible within certain limits. Take me out of those limits and I spiral faster than a gumball coming out of one of those machines I actively avoid in order to prevent a toddler tantrum. (She thinks they are all balls, because one can never own too many balls. Similarly, one can never have too many stains from melting, colorful objects 😱. Also, who normally has an abundance of quarters on them??)

My spiraling doesn’t usually result in a delicious, fruit flavored piece of gum. I’m usually all anxious, frustrated, and salty. Not literally salty. Well maybe, because I tend to sweat when I stress. ANYWAYS.

Please also keep in mind that it doesn’t take a big event to make me spiral.

For example, a couple of times a week, I like to go to a boot camp class at my gym. This class meets during the time I normally get dinner ready.  Meaning my brain usually goes into panic mode. “Oh no, our normal time to make dinner is now filled with a different activity- What will you eat? How late will you eat dinner? Will this push back bedtime? What’s the fastest meal you can make? Can you make something beforehand?”

I can’t think clearly. Mostly because when my brain is told it can’t do/have something, it responds by fixating on that thing I can’t have instead of brainstorming things I can do/have.

You may be asking questions like:

Why don’t you just use your crockpot? (If you are curious why I don’t often utilize my Crock-pot, please click here.)

Why don’t you just eat a sandwich or something easy?

Why don’t you just pick up dinner?

This are all valid questions, and they contribute something I lack in these moments. Perspective.

My brain benefits from perspective. It benefits from questioning my expectations and my motivations. Why do I do the things that I do? What needless limits have I placed on myself? Where have I added unnecessary stress to my life?

Who says I can’t make spaghetti for lunch instead of dinner?

This “dinner dilemma” is obviously a tiny issue (that honestly takes up about 5-10 minutes of my time).

I’m thankful for people and resources to help me combat the “little” anxieties that often consume me. Encouragement and support mean a lot to the anxious mind.

More than that, though, I’m thankful for the unending perspective, grace, and love found in Scripture. I’m thankful to be the daughter of a God who brings peace, joy, and grace to any situation- even to the situations that I’ve fooled myself into thinking I’m in control ;).

I’m praying for a mind that rests instead of worries. I’m praying for a mind that hopes in something greater than my own strength. I’m praying for my perspective to founded in truth.

“Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things? “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.”
Luke 12:22‭-‬32 NLT

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:6‭-‬8 NLT