Dead Begin to Rise

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When you walk into the room
Sickness starts to vanish
Every hopeless situation ceases to exist
And when you walk into the room,
The dead begin to rise
‘Cause there is resurrection life
In all You do

 

Sunday morning as we sang the lyrics to the song above, they hit me in a way they never have before. The last three lines rang in my head for the rest of the day. I could not shake the thought of how different things would be if we actually lived like we believed the words of this song.  As a believer, we don’t often question the cross and the message of hope it brings, but I wonder how often we live in light of the fact Jesus brings life.  As a Jesus follower, I bring His light and life with me each and every place I go.

Oh friend do you see what this means?  We should be running to every dark place, every place with the dead and the broken, every place with the sick and hopeless because when Jesus walks into the room, boom. Life, Hope, Healing. When I walk into the dark places, I walk in with Jesus. And when He walks into the room, the atmosphere changes. I can attest to this because I have walked into some dark places. Something changes when we bring the light of Jesus with us.

Because of Jesus there is no place too dark, too scary, too hopeless, or too lost. So let us run into those places with the light and love of Jesus and be amazed at what happens as we go.

 
Read more: Bryan & Katie Torwalt – When You Walk Into The Room Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Savoring Slow

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Dandelion-in-the-morning

 

For much of my life, I have been a morning person. Prior to getting married, I was up and at the gym between 4:30 and 5 every morning. I love the peace and calm of the morning. I maintained my early mornings after getting married for a while, but slowly the early morning gym workouts fell by the wayside. Add a baby into the mix and my mornings became “how late can I sleep and still get to work on time.” They were chaotic, rushed, and anything but peaceful and quiet. I was barely able to get to work on time and struggling. Majorly struggling.

 

Something had to change. And while I think some of my struggles were from some postpartum issues, I think many of them were from skipping my morning rituals I had loved for so many years. My mornings were so chaotic, the rest of the day just seemed to follow until I fell into bed exhausted, dreading the morning alarm. I ran across an e-book I immediately knew was what I needed- The Abundant Mama’s Guide to Savoring Slow.

Each chapter is a habit to work on in order to savor the moments of life. The book is designed to work through over an entire year so I am going to go through it slowly and then in January start over at the beginning.  The first chapter is entitled “Wake Up.” So with my journal, Bible, and book ready, I set  my alarm for 5:30am in order to give me 30 minutes in the morning to read, write, and pray before starting my day.

Mamas and friends, this is the best decision I have made. It is tough. Some mornings, I want to just stay in bed. And I will admit, a few times I have. I am growing in giving myself grace to not to be perfect. But more times than not over the past three weeks, I have gotten up early and positioned myself on the couch for 30 minutes. Sometimes my little one decides to wake up early and interrupts my time and sometimes I end up talking to my husband for part of it, but it has made the biggest difference. Those 30 minutes have meant my days are less rushed, I have more energy, and I feel better equipped to love my family.  I am learning the moments of life to savor are the small ones. The moments when I hear “ma-ma-ma” coming from the kitchen and I drop whatever I am doing to make sure little H knows his mama is right here. The moments when I spend a few extra minutes eating ice cream with J instead of rushing off to bed. I needed my mornings. They are fresh water to a thirsty soul.

Want to join me on this Savoring Slow journey? Sign up for my e-mails or comment below.  What does “Wake Up” look like in your world? Maybe for you it is getting up earlier. Or maybe it is unplugging from your phone. Or maybe it is reading one extra book or playing one more game. Whatever it is, enjoy the moments and learn to savor them.

Waiting.. And More Waiting.. Part 1

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He is almost one right?!?bebravelittleonearrow

I have lost track of how many times I have been asked that question over the past several weeks. People look at the calendar or see me and little H and all of a sudden, it hits them, it’s almost August. Isn’t his birthday in August?

Yes. His birthday is in August. And yes he is almost one. But the more I get asked about it, the more sentimental I become which is odd because I am not a sentimental person. I have actually been excited each time he has grown into a new size of clothing. I have loved seeing him grow and tried to not be sad about the passing days and the moments when I no longer see a tiny baby in front of me. However, to truly celebrate one year of his life, allow me a moment to reflect.

H was supposed to come the middle of August. We live in Southern Indiana and August is HOT. I also had a lovely OB jump the gun and inform me about 5 weeks before he actually came that I should go home and pack my bags right NOW. (this was not my regular OB..)  I did just what he said because what did I know. The Dr. said he could come ANY day and at that point the farthest I had gotten in packing was making a list of what I wanted to pack. This was at about 37.5 weeks. At 41.5 weeks, I was cursing my packed bags. See, they sat in front of our door, packed, for FIVE weeks.

While pregnancy is not short, any amount of time over 40 weeks is SO. MUCH. LONGER.  It’s like the clock decides to stand still. I was ready to meet our little guy, but I was stubborn and determined to let him come on his timing so I waited. And waited. And at 41 weeks and 6 days, after walking 10 miles between two days, I was done. I called my OB almost in tears and said I couldn’t be pregnant any longer. Remember, it was August. And it was hot. and I was now approaching 42 weeks pregnant.

My husband and I went out to eat that night and enjoyed the last night as a family of 2. Tomorrow, H would be here. Needless to say, I did not sleep much that night. Mostly I kept hoping maybe I would have a contraction. But nope. Nothing. I got up and ate breakfast (shh.. don’t tell anyone) and headed off to the hospital.

I will tell you a little more about his birth day later. But I was looking back through old blog posts and came across this post I wrote in January of last year- The Year of Patience.  Apparently, H knew about my word of the year and decided his arrival would be a great time for me to work on my patience. I am confident he came at the exact right time and I learned a lot about patience in the process. He is my August baby which is what I always wanted. His birthday will be a celebration of the grandest sorts because after almost 30 years of a December birthday, I can now live vicariously through my precious baby boy, throwing parties without the fear of snow or the conflict of Christmas parties or the stress of final exams.

Working Mom Essential: A Deep Freezer (plus recipes)

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Our 4th of July was rainy. It was the type of day you just have zero desire to go outside and mainly would like to crawl up on the couch with a good book or a decent movie. For me, it was the perfect day to jump back into the world of my deep freezer.freezermeals

Right before H was born, I did a marathon of freezer meal prep and had meals for a good while after he arrived. This was an excellent decision and saved us from eating frozen pizza every night of the week (not that my sweet hubby would have complained!).  Then I went back to work and life got crazy and my deep freezer was neglected.

When I saw the weather forecast for the weekend was rain and more rain, I decided to spend the day cooking.  Freezer cooking ALWAYS takes longer than I remember and it is always exhausting, but the sense of accomplishment afterwards is amazing.  I think you could get by with a regular freezer, but trust me, a deep freezer is soo nice. The meals keep longer and I can cook more without having to play a game of Jenga every time I try to get things out of my regular freezer.

Sometimes it can be hard to find decent sounding freezer meals unless you want to eat something Mexican flavored for every meal (which I do not) and since its summer, using a crock pot is just not as appealing so I included below most of the meals I made ahead in case you need some inspiration.  Pinterest is amazing for this too! (which is where all these meals came from!)

1. Honey Mustard Chicken-this isn’t a crock pot meal and I actually made and prepped this one for dinner this week. I think it might hold up in the freezer, but I just figured I would keep it out so I had dinner for this week already done.

2. Lamb Burgers- this was my score of the week. I have been searching for ground lamb and finally found it. I prepped lamb burgers to have and the rest of the toppings sound amazing.

3. Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Chicken Korma- I love Indian flavors and decided after making this, I was going to look for more Indian food to add to our diet. It’s one of the things I miss the most about living overseas. There is nothing like fresh Naan. This isn’t a make it and go to work recipe so I plan to cook it some the weekend.

4. Real Food Sloppy Joes-these take me back to my days as a camp counselor. I love sloppy joes and this recipe passes my healthy eating test.

5. Zucchini Meatloaf- this is on my to-do list for this week since I actually forgot about it. I bought the ingredients and then failed to transfer it to my freezer meals list. I am not a meatloaf fan normally, but this is my favorite. It is so moist and I promise, you can’t taste the zucchini at all.

6. Slow Cooker Quinoa Enchilada Bake- I am trying to eat more Quinoa, but I haven’t figured out how to cook it. However, adding it in to other recipes is easy and this one is really good. You can add chicken or beef and it’s super good!  Also, I omitted the Pinto beans just because I knew I was going to add meat and didn’t want that many beans in it.

Those are a few to get you started. I made a couple of other meals, but I don’t have links to those. You can check out the rest of my Pinterest board here. If you are a busy mom, I highly recommend freezer cooking and becoming best friends with your crock-pot.

The Dark Side of Social Media

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phone2For all I love about social media, there is a side a loathe. The side which often rears its ugly head after holidays or vacation days or even some ordinary weekends. Honestly, it’s not actually an issue with social media, but more the way it brings out the dark side in me that I hate.

This morning as I was scrolling through my Instagram, I realized how quickly my internal emotions shifted to anger, jealously, and disappointment. It happened in a moment and when I realized it, I quickly set my phone down like it was on fire. This has to stop. I needed to re-direct before I spent the day wallowing.

Another holiday had gone by and another weekend in which not a single friend had invited us to celebrate. Truth be told, I hadn’t invited anyone over either so I cannot blame this totally on everyone else. Plus, I know life is busy. I get it. But nevertheless, as I saw those in my life celebrating with friends, I felt this heavy weight of feelings. In that moment, I had a choice. I could keep scrolling through my social media or I could put it down and give the weight over to the One who holds my heart.

Hence the dropping the phone like it was hot. As I finished getting ready, I flipped over to a devotional I had been reading and spent my time in prayer. God promises us His burden is light and His yoke is easy.  He knows our deepest thoughts and sacred moments. He saw an almost 30-something feeling like the junior high girl who got kicked out of the popular kids crowd. He saw the heart so desperately in want of community. And He reminded me as I overheard the sweet conversation between my husband and 10 month old of the amazing weekend we had just the three of us. These moments are fleeting and while sometimes incredibly tough, I cherish them deeply.

Although I wish I could tell you I left for work feeling all peachy keen about life, I can tell you I left for work knowing the heaviness of my heart was laid at the feet of Jesus. I re-focused on my sweet little family and how thankful I am to be married to my best friend. I put the desires of my heart squarely in the box of Jesus. He is the only one who can meet the deepest desires to know and be known. He is the only one who can strengthen my soul and equip me in the fight. And He knows. He understands. We serve a Savior who can relate to us in our weakness.

So dear friend, remember today Him whose burden is light and yoke is easy. Remember the One who knows our deepest struggles and who meets us in the low places. And trust He will answer every prayer whispered in the secret.

Excuse the Mess and Come on Over

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ChurchHospitalityThe other day I was at the grocery store. I had gotten there later than I planned so it was pushing 5:00 when my husband called. Having left him home with our child, I was a bit concerned. He assured me everything was fine and then proceeded to let me know our neighbors had decided they could come for dinner.  We quickly created a menu and I picked up the few things I needed in order to hurry home and prepare a meal.

A little over an hour later, our neighbors showed up and entertained the little man while we finished up dinner.  They were so appreciative of the meal and we enjoyed chatting with them.  He started chemo the next day and we had been talking about having them over for awhile so I was thankful it actually happened.

However, I will assure you, my house was in zero shape to have company. There was a pile of dirty dishes taking over a good chunk of the counter, I quickly vacuumed right before they arrived, I am sure the house was dusty, and H had basically destroyed the living room. Not to mention my work stuff and a few boxes of items that have yet to find a home.  As our neighbors walked in I simply said please excuse the mess. She didn’t notice and instead commented on how much she liked what we had done with the house.

In my mind I was laughing. My once neat and tidy house is now an often constant state of chaos.  Cleaning and organizing have fallen so far off the radar, I wonder sometimes if it is even worth trying. I do clean and pick it up fairly often so don’t think we are living in total disgust. And thanks to a dear friend, I found some cleaning products which are amazing and reduce the time it takes to clean the house. However, this day, it had been a tad longer than normal because we have had a busy few weeks.

After they left, I realized how often we miss out on moments to live in community and be neighbors and friends because of our houses. Our houses full of stuff we probably don’t need. I remember how many times as I have traveled, people with far less have invited me in and made me feel welcome. Sometimes it was sitting on a dirt floor or a broken chair, but they never apologized. They just said come in. This is the kind of hospitality I want to have going forward. Yes, my house will probably be a mess. This is what happens when you live in it and have an almost one-year old and work full time. But the state of my house does not negate the fact we all crave community. We all want human interaction. And a messy kitchen more than likely assures the food will be good!

So this is my resolution. Excuse the mess and come on over. I am not going to stress myself out cleaning up for company, but rather relish in the last minute dinners and times spent with friends. And if you do the same, we will start to realize we can take off our clean house facades and let each other into the mess of our lives. If we are willing to invite others in to our messy houses, we will be willing to let them into our messy lives. And that my friends is when true community begins to happen and when life transformation and sweet friendships are formed that go beyond mommy wars or keeping up with the Jones’s attitudes.

Kudos to You,Babe

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Cue mushy post. I have to brag on my better half a little. Most days being a working mom is incredibly tough.Trying to balance a job, a baby, a civic life, a social life, and a home can be exhausting. And there are many days I feel I am doing a terribly inadequate job at all of it.

And then my amazing husband will notice the laundry is put away or tell me how awesome of a mom I am or remind me how much he loves me. Those moments when he reminds me I am capable, adequate, and doing a great job are precious. They are fuel to keep going. He is a hard worker. And yet, he consistently makes us a priority. And oh does he love Mister H. Perhaps my favorite thing in the whole world is watching him play with H. The two of them are best buds.

Not only is he a wonderful husband and father, he is my biggest cheerleader. When I come home exasperated or frustrated with my big dreams, he is always the one who tells me to pick up my boots and get to work.  He refuses to let me give up or throw in the towel. He is the constant in my crazy and when I feel I can’t do it, he is the one who stops me and tells me I can and I will.   I am convinced if it were not for him so much of the life I lead would look so different. God knew what He was doing when my life intersected with a boy from southern Indiana.  He knew I needed someone who would dream bigger than I could and push me to think outside the box.

He is the constant reminder to seek God and put Him first. He tells me often he is praying for me. I am sure a blessed girl!

So today, thanks babe.  Thank you for always believing in me, for loving me and H, for supporting me, and for cheering me on. Thank you for always reminding me I am super mom and doing a good job. And most importantly, thank you for praying for me and for pointing me to Christ. You are my favorite.

The Art of Saying No

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saying_no_frenchbydesign_jobs_wmYou learn a lot of things as a new mom. I mean a lot (these I will continue to elaborate on). But when you are a new mom and a working mom, one thing you have to learn quickly is the art of saying no. This is something I have NEVER been good at nor ever thought I would need to be good at saying. I was just always the person who kept all the balls in the air and came through in a pinch. And then, H came along. All of a sudden, I was doing well to just figure out this whole mom thing. Forget trying to manage everything else. I had a tiny newborn who relied on me for literally everything. So over the past almost 10 months, I have learned how to say no gracefully. It’s still a slow work in progress, but here are my few thoughts on maintaining balance with a new baby.

It starts with laser focus. If what you are asking me to do is not related to my family or helping me pursue my dreams, right now I just cannot help out.  Before I came back to work, I spent some time praying and thinking about what I wanted with my life. I also attended a weekend workshop to help refine career goals. I know what I want to do and I know my time with H is precious. So I am very careful about what I commit to, especially if it means any after work or weekend time.

Realize this is a phase. H won’t always need me like he does right now. At some point, I will stop being his primary food source and he will become enamored with all the cool stuff dad lets him do. I am pretty sure he will always be a mama’s boy, but I know there will come a time when an after work meeting won’t be a huge deal. When rushing home at 5:00 won’t be necessary. But right now it is. Right now an after work meeting means less time I have before he goes to bed and missing out on the joys of dinner time and evening laughs.

Life is not about you. This is something I am slowly learning. If I say no, it won’t be the end of the world. The event will still happen, the meeting will go on, someone else will step up. By saying no, I am allowing other people to step in and I am giving myself a chance to step back. Honestly, it’s also a little bit of a relief. Carrying the burdens of keeping things going on your shoulders is a lot. Spread the wealth of things to do and realize if something does slip up, it’s ok.

Relish the moments, not the to-do list. I love to make lists and say “yes” so learning to say no has been a journey. Along the way, I have realized the moments matter. Sure, I can go to one more event or accomplish one more task, but then I risk missing out on H learning to crawl or finally saying “mama” (we are still working on that one!). The more I do, the more I realize it is not about what you do. It is about the relationships and the people you accomplish things with and helping them to succeed.  As I enjoy the moments, I find my yes becoming more about saying yes to coffee or yes to a friend who asks for help and less about yes for the sake of appearing busy.

Saying no is an art and takes practice. If you are anything like me, it won’t come easy and 10 months later, you will find yourself still struggling to say no even when you know you should. In those moments, I stop and breathe and remind myself of H and of the laser focused dream I am pursuing. If the potential yes does not apply to either of those areas, my answer is no.

What do you need to say no to? How have you found it easier to say no? Let me know in the comments!

Love in a World of Hate

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moreloveWhile I don’t often add my voice to the popular news cycles, I feel the need to once again speak up. If for no other reason than because someday I want my child to know his mother was willing to speak up and he should be unafraid to do the same.

Tragedy. Horror. Shock. Sadness. Anger. Disbelief.

I am not sure what went through your head as the news of Orlando broke over the weekend. Honestly, I rarely check my phone over the weekend and we haven’t actually turned our TV on in a really long time so I didn’t know anything about it until Sunday morning in church when the worship leader mentioned it.

20 dead. Then 50 dead. A shooting in a nightclub.

My heart sank. And for a split moment, fear washed over me. I spend a fair amount of time in nightclubs with individuals some in society would like to hate.  But this isn’t about me.

Why is it that when we don’t agree with someone, the often seen reaction is hate? or judgement? or condemnation? Have we forgotten these are individuals made in the image of God? I realize this crime was not perpetrated by an individual claiming to follow the God of the Bible, however, have we unintentionally created a society where this crime seems acceptable on some level? Have we classified those we don’t agree with into separate categories thus making them appear less?

I cannot imagine being the mom who got the text from her son which would become her last exchange with him. My heart breaks for her. Every morning as I say goodbye to my sweet H, I cannot help the thought creeping in of what if this is my last goodbye.  I love him with a fierce love and I rest in the fact that my Jesus loves him more than I ever could. As I think about the families affected, the moms and dads, the brothers and sisters, the friends and partners, I am reminded we must put on love.  In the midst of such dark tragedy, we must love. Because love is the only thing that will triumph over darkness. We see it in the cross. And the empty tomb. We have the greatest example ever set before us. Love truly does conquer all. And sometimes love has to be tough and talk about tough things and mistakes made. And sometimes love has be to kind and offer a shoulder or a hand to our neighbor. And always, love is to be without hate. I do not want to live in a world where it is at all acceptable to hate those whom you disagree with and I do not want my children to grow up in a world where hate runs rampant.

I do not know how to change the course, but I believe today it can start with you and I practicing love. With our friends and families, with our neighbors, within our communities, with those whom we disagree, and with society at large. Let us be known by our love. And let us point others to the only Love that can mend a broken society.

 

Image credit @amazingigrace 

Working Mom Essential: A Meal Plan

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Long before I got pregnant, I worked really hard at cleaning up our diet.  I started researching food chains, ingredients, products, and healthy eating. I doubled my grocery shopping time because I started reading each and every label.  It’s been a slow process. And we are still by no means perfect.  (if you open my freezer, you will find two pints of Ben and Jerry’s because sometimes you just need ice cream)  After I made it through the first trimester and actually started to feel like eating again, I was meticulous about what I ate because what I ate, the baby ate.  But for all the planning and preparing, cooking with a newborn is a whole different game. Add cooking with a newborn after you work all day and it makes me tired just thinking about it.

So after one too many frozen pizzas, I decided we needed a plan.  Eating healthy is not always easy or convenient, but it is a high priority in my life so a meal plan is essential. I have started printing off a blank calendar near the end of the month and meal planning for the entire month. I have done it weekly as well, but it takes about as much time to do it weekly as it does to do it for the whole month. I usually tweak my weeks throughout the month, but at least I have a general idea of what I am going to make each day. If you haven’t done much meal planning, I have included a few of my favorite resources to help you get started.

Pinterest

What did we do before Pinterest?  I use it for quite a few things, but overall my favorite way to use it is for meal planning.  We get our meat from a local farmer and so once I have figured out what type of meat we have for the month, I spend time looking for healthy recipes using what we have. Pinterest is great for searching for something specific like “healthy desserts with strawberries” or “crock pot meal using hamburger”.  There is also a huge variety of healthy options. You can find my Pinterest boards here and follow along if you want!

Gathered Table

I have used this website off and on for a little while. I love the fact they curate a variety of different types of recipes to accommodate different healthy eating styles and different schedules. Do you need a quick meal, crock pot, or something more elaborate? They are all pretty easy to find. You have to sign up for a subscription to use all of their features such as already-prepared weekly plans and grocery lists, but if your pretty savvy you can just clip the recipes and create your own plans.

Healthy Family Meal Plans

One of my favorite things about this service is the recipes are seasonal. This means you can prepare healthy meals and lower your grocery bills by capitalizing on the in season produce.  This is a subscription service so there are plenty of other free ways to meal plan, however, so far I have been really impressed with the taste and ease of the recipes I have made.  One caveat, I tend to adjust the meals to use meat I have on hand to save costs. I also sub ingredients if there is something I know we won’t eat.

 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Shares

Purchasing a CSA Share is another way to incorporate healthy eating into your diet at a slightly lower cost (as compared to buying equal quality items at a grocery store). We signed up for a vegetable share for this growing season with a local farm and I am so excited. First off, I LOVE knowing exactly where the food I am eating is coming from and second, the service you get with a local producer/grower is second to none. We are also have a meat share we purchase from a different local farmer. This past weekend, he hand delivered our meat to our house- talk about excellent service!!  Living in Southern Indiana means fewer options for Farmer’s Markets and local produce, but a movement is growing locally and I love being part of it. I am also looking forward to challenging myself to try new recipes with the veggies I get in my crop share.

Odds and Ends

A few other things you need are a crock pot, a willingness to try new things, and a detailed grocery list. The worst thing in the world is getting to Thursday night to prepare a meal only to find you forgot a key ingredient. I have done this one too many times so now my grocery lists are laid out by department.  I am a huge fan of meal planning and will try to highlight some other resources I have used in the future. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I will try to answer them!