Life As It Is

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Maybe

The greatest madness 

is to see life as it is

rather than

what it could be. 

– Cervantes

 

Summer is for growing.

Lately, the deep green and life that comes with summer inspires my goal-driven personality. A few summers ago, when we sold our first home, I was inspired to return to simplicity in my parenting.

It was in this return that I found myself.

And what started as finding simplicity has developed into a full-fledged journey. While once I may have adamantly insisted that you need to know where you’re going in life, now I can sit back and recognize that the unplanned adventures are the ones really worth setting off on.

And so this summer began, so full of new life. And yet, I felt like I may lose myself again. Having finished grad school, I was feeling such a sense of loss. I know, I know who the heck gets sad about finishing school? 

I could feel a part of myself slipping away amidst the worry and the fear of what comes next?

Having been down that road before, I sincerely do not wish to travel it again.

So I decided that this will be the best summer of my life.

Hey, we can all have goals.

But truly. This is going to be the best summer of my life.

I’ve been reading a lot, per usual. A lot of my informal research, conducted in an effort to improve my parenting game, has centered on growth mindset. Such a fun little topic.

But really, growth mindset isn’t just for kids!

So I thought to myself: what are some areas where you need to grow? 

Tagging along in the research with growth mindset is this little thing called mindfulness.

Now I’m not talking about meditation.

Mindfulness, at its basic level, is being aware of or being conscious of something.

It’s super useful to use mindfulness as a mom….”You see, my child, when you whine like that, it makes me want to curl up into a ball, sink into the ground, and turn into an earthworm because I am afraid that I will never get you to stop. Of course I realize that this is a completely irrational response to your attempt to express a need. So please, my child, could you KINDLY STOP WHINING?”

Just kidding. That’s not the best application of mindfulness. Although, being honest, I really have used it to help myself be aware of what it is about my children’s behavior that triggers a less than ideal parenting response.

Anyhow….so off track here…

Learning about mindfulness reminded me a bit about minimalism. The premise that #theeuropehouse was built and designed upon.

Minimalism has helped me to recognize the little things. It has helped me to be more aware, and to seek out meaning.

This idea has helped me to recognize this summer as the best summer of my life.

Really, this is going to be the best summer of my life.

So many summers have passed me by…ones wasted on wishes.

Wishes that I would be a different person, live somewhere else, do different things, see different people, go different places…wishes that I had enough money I didn’t have to work, wishes that my children would behave like cherubs and not track so stinken’ much sand into the house. Wishes that I had a different job, wishes that I could afford an exotic vacation, see beautiful places, wear different clothes…wishes that I didn’t have so much laundry, that my windows would clean themselves…

I wished for a life I could never have. A life that would never be.

I spent years hoping that some day I would wake up, and all the things I could ever have dreamed would be true.

I spent years looking at life as it could be.

Not as it was.

Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams. Trust me – I have them. Tons of them, and a load of goals as well.

The danger with dreams and goals is that we humans tend to hyper focus on them. In the words of the infamous Albus Dumbldore: “it does not do well to dwell on dreams and forget to live”.

This summer, I realized that I have spent my time looking at my life as it could be rather than as it is. 

I tried to be more mindful about my thoughts and attitudes as well. Instead of getting upset when my five year old wakes up at 6AM and interrupts my coffee-Bible-quiet time, instead of wishing for life as it could be – him sleeping until 8 AM on all my days off, I took a step back.

My five year old likes to wake up at 6AM and have coffee with me.

I mean seriously. How adorable is that.

So now, we wake up by 6 AM and snuggle on the couch. He drives his trucks around the cushions, and I drink my coffee and read my Bible out loud to him.

This is life as it is.

I used to dream about traveling to places and hiking to places with Instagram worthy, breathtaking vistas. I would naturally be wearing the cutest hiking clothes, with perfect hair, and wouldn’t be sweating at all. Yes, life as it could be.

But my life doesn’t allow for me to travel. So this summer I decided, I was going to hike to Instagram worthy, breathtaking vistas in my own backyard. 

So I did.

The picture at the top of this post was taken from our latest excursion. It is the view from along a 21 mile trail which I can view in it’s entirety from #theeuropehouse

I never knew that my own back yard offered such views. The rolling green hills, the crisp blue sky, and hardly a house to be seen. Hiking from the valley, where civilization lays nestled among the forest, it would seem that all you would see is civilization – that boring small town, the sites you drive by every single day, the monotony of small town life. I could hardly have been more wrong! The expanse of green and sky offer little evidence of human life, birthing a new appreciation for a beauty that I never knew existed in my own little piece of the world.

My own little piece of the world is beautiful, and amazing, and it is life as it is. 

And this is the greatest summer of my life.

Not because it, in itself, is great. But because I, in myself, have chosen to recognize beauty, and happiness, and life. Life not as it could be. But life as it is. With a deeper appreciation and positive mind set, a soul willing to grow and change.

An adventure not sought out, but one worth embarking upon.

Life, as it is. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Division, the Heart, the Mind

“Or else she stayed in and nursed a mood with which she was becoming too familiar for her own comfort and peace of mind. It was not despair; but it seemed to her as if life were passing by, leaving its promise broken and unfulfilled.”
― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“I’m not unhappy,” he said. “Only people with no purpose are unhappy. I’ve got a purpose.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
― Winston S. Churchill

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

My husband has been saying that I am mad at life.

He may be right.

I’m one of those people who internalize basically everything and who loose sleep at night trying to figure out and understand every minuscule function of the world and the people in it.

Lately, the things that keep me up at night really make me mad.

Life is really complicated. So. So. Complicated.

1 Corinthians 1:10 makes me mad.

I am a passionate person. There is a poem by David Jones which I used to use to describe my boy-child. Now I realize that the poem describes his mother too. It goes:

“It is both a blessing

And a curse

To feel everything

So very deeply.”

Yep. That’s me. I am fire and ice. Hot or cold. One, or the other. I have no in-between. And I’ve not yet figured out a way to be Switzerland.

If I’m one thing, you know it. And while I realize this is a flaw in my personal character, it is still an area I have been unable to improve myself in.

Some say I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Personally, I think I wear my heart on my face.

I remember taking a Facebook quiz many years ago…there was a question, which I cannot remember, however I clearly remember my response.

When I form an opinion, it takes me a very long time to do so. But when I form it, I am all in or all out.

I remember several of my friends commenting on this specific answer, leading me to understand that not everyone really takes the time to think about their own opinions.

For me, my opinions are not just a part of who I am. They quite literally are who I am. My opinions are informed and comprised of those things which I know and believe, my schemas and scripts and worldview, which are in fact who I am.

How will a person know who they are if they do not know what they believe?

And yet, while I understand that my schemas are likely to differ from others, because they are my own, and develop uniquely because of my experience, temperament, and personality, I struggle with how this fits in to the larger picture.

On an intellectual level, I admit that not everyone needs to nor should hold the same opinions as myself. But on a deeper spiritual level, life gets complicated quickly.

Because who you believe God is will influence who you seek to become in Him, how you live your life, the choices you make, the things that you do and say, and ultimately what you believe about yourself and the world.

The older I get, the more I realize that not everyone actually believes the same thing about God. And this fact has implications that enormously affect every single day of our lives here on earth.

And I’m not okay with this!

Admittedly, my own feelings regarding this matter war against myself. While I hold true to the fact that God granted us all free-will, which in turn suggests that we all have the freedom to choose freely in our lives, I cannot comprehend how God ever expected Christians to all be on the same page about things when he granted us said free-will.

I’ve always had a motto that goes something like this: Christians are the worst of people.

Mostly to remind myself that I have the potential for sin the same as everyone else.

But lately, I can’t even begin to understand or reason within my finite mind just how crappy we are.

Of course, I am no theologian. And I don’t pretend to be. Additionally, by adding my thoughts to this discussion specifically focused on Christians I admit that I am contributing myself to being a crappy Christian. The worst of people. Although, I will say that this composition is solely for my own soul, rather than others. I share them publicly because there are some people who like my thoughts, and also so that one day my children can read them.

So there it is. I’ve laid it all out. I’m not okay. I’m mad at life. I’m mad because I am a Christian and not everyone agrees with me. I am mad because the fact of this realization is that free-will makes life hard. Christians don’t agree with each other. And this is a problem for me. And probably for everyone else in the world.

We are literally the worst of people.

We tear each other down. We criticize each other. We judge each other openly, and then again behind closed doors. We fight with each other. We publicly call each other out. We call each other out on the internet. We disagree. We believe different things. We are not, for lack of better words, on the same page. At. All.

One of my friends, in response to an issue close to my heart, expressed appreciation for open conversation, and reminded me that at the root of the topic is a heart issue. But what makes my heart better than someone else’s? And if we as Christian’s are not of one heart, what does this say about us? How can we possible believe in the same God if this God is different in the heart of each of us?

I am all for friendly discussion.

But where do we draw the line? When does open dialogue become toxic disparagement?

For me, this is one of those “what would Jesus do” situations.

Again, I am no theologian.

I honestly don’t think that Jesus would have Facebook, were he walking the earth today.

When I think about how Jesus spoke truth in the face of darkness, he did it in a relational way. He did it face to face.

I recently finished both of Bob Goff’s books. Life changers, right there. The central message that I took away from these reads is that people don’t want your opinions, but they do want their love, no strings attached, and this sends a bigger message about Jesus than anything else.

Again, from an intellectual standpoint, I agree with this 100%. I just haven’t quite figured out how to love people without any strings – aka me and my big opinions – attached.

But the first step for me, was that I left Facebook and all it’s Christian drama behind. Who has time for that anyways?

I think that there is a time and a place for open discussion, but that is among friends, and should take place face to face.

We aren’t doing anyone any good by debating our distentions on Facebook people. If you have an opinion and want to share it, find a friend. If you don’t like the way another Christian is living or what they are saying, remember to examine your own log before you call out their speck.

I still don’t claim to understand exactly how 1 Corinthians 1:10 is possible. I really haven’t the slightest idea. And this still makes me really mad. I’d really just like everyone to agree with me – pride and selfishness openly acknowledged here. We are the worst of people. We are the worst enemy of our brothers and sisters, the enemy within.

So while I might be unhappy, it will only last a moment in the timeline of my life.

Because I’ve got a purpose.

I’ll just be over here trying to follow my own advice. And figuring out a way to love people the way Bob Goff describes…just like Jesus.

 

 

 

In Which I Struggle With Myself

“I had begun to feel that life was a repetition of the same thing; that there was nothing new either in me or in him; and that, on the contrary, we kept going back as it were on what was old.” ― Leo Tolstoy

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
― Aldous Huxley

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
― Plato

 

They say, “Ignorance is bliss”. I used to believe that. I used to think that not knowing, or not wanting to know, was the best life. But not anymore.

Stagnance is the friend of ignorance. Together these two moral flaws breed humans which are wholly incapable of being who they were created to be. Their spiritual growth is cut off by bovine trust in the opinions of those whom they surround themselves with. They take things at face-value, with little a thought given to true understanding. Discernment is dependent on the past, on what is known and comfortable and familiar (but is this true discernment, then?).

Shall we not rise from our own ashes, then? Resurrected from the limitations of our selfish, lackadaisical, minds, which thwart us from truly knowing Him and all that He has intended our lives to be?

Nay, I don’t want to be like every other person.

I want to be more.

I want to be better.

I wanted to be resurrected from myself.

Of all of the things in this world, I pray that I am never ignorant. I pray that I never take things at face value. That I abstain from blind confederacy. That I am active in my faith, in understanding what that faith is, what that means for my life, whom that faith is in, and ultimately who He is and who He wants me to be. I want to go beyond face value. I want to take in the whole picture, and truly understand. Dimly first, but then in a mirror face to face. I want to come face to face with God and understand. To know. To truly know. To go deeper, and dig deeper. And know.

Because if I take my life at face value. If I simply trust and accept. Stagnance and ignorance are my heart and my soul.

And doing this, and seeking this bigger picture…is hard. It is so hard. It takes time. It breaks your heart. When you start asking questions, and trying to understand, those rooted in stagnance and ignorance become agitated. They enjoy their complacency, though they cannot recognize it themselves.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

 

But truth must be sought. It must be searched out. It must be pursued and examined. And then it can be understood. And when the truth is there to set you free, still the choice remains.

Will you let it?

Will you give up all of your former conceptions? Will you bury them six-feet-under? Will you say goodbye to your old man, and embrace the new?

Because the truth is not always what you thought it was. It is not simply a repetition of the past. It is not what you have always known, and sometimes not what you have always believed.

There are some truths which stand forever. But other truths stand falsely through the effort of man and man’s assumption that the past is always correct.

Proverbs 18:15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

And so, my dear Azrielle and Kreade. I hope that the life that I live shows you daily the importance of seeking this knowledge. Of truly knowing and understanding God. I pray with all my my heart, to the very depths of my soul that you not take life at face value. God created within you a desire to know. Do not allow stagnance and ignorance to take root in your heart and soul. Do not repeat the past simply because everyone else is. Seek him out. Seek out the whole picture. Start looking in that mirror, dimly first, until you come face to face with God, and understand. Above all, don’t take my word for it. This is your faith. This is your faith.

Deuteronomy 4:29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

 

 

We went out to see the Supermoon…

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For some people small, beautiful events are what life is all about. – The Doctor

Last week, we went out to see the Supermoon.

I was reminded once again just how beautiful the world is in the eyes of a child. The way that they perceive the things around them is just so wondrous. Their untouched perception of the world and all it has to offer is comparable to a cool glass of water on a hot summer day…refreshing.

I didn’t really know what they would think of the moon. But I figured that since it has been nearly fifty years since the last Supermoon, I should probably fulfill my parental responsibility to make sure that they saw the moon with their own eyes so that they could tell their grand-kids someday “Yeah, I saw that moon”. Cuz, you know, that will definitely be something to brag about.

Anyways, we got on our winter jackets and hats and mittens just before bedtime.

And we went out to see the Supermoon.

And in the crisp, cool air of that moon-lit night, something beautiful happened.

The second they saw the moon those precious little children started running.

I mean flat out running as fast as their 4 year old and 2 year old legs could carry them.

Eyes on that bright, huge moon. Running towards it, fully expecting that they could jump up and touch it.

And as their feet brought them to the edge of the dark woods, their eyes stayed on the moon, and their glee echoed through the night air in strains of unashamed laughter.

They ran towards that moon, eyes unwavering from their goal, and they expected to touch it.

Being a parent is one of the most beautiful things in the world. And it is small moments like these that really do remind me of what life is all about. Small moments, small adventures.

Sometimes it takes the un-touched perspective of a child to remind you…We adults get so caught up in reality that we often loose sight of our goals. Our minds become so distracted by everything else around us that we forget what we set out to do. We forget where we are going, or get caught up in the details of how we are going to get there.

My kids didn’t loose sight of their goal. They kept their eyes on it and never looked anywhere but where they were going. They weren’t distracted by the darkness of night all around them…nor by the shadows of the trees, or the edge of the forest…by the bird in the tree watching them, or their beloved cat who followed along in their glee.

They didn’t stop to think that they would never be able to actually reach their goal…and really, it didn’t matter because they believed they could, and that was enough.

I’m pretty obsessed with the song 7 Years by Lukas Graham lately. The words from his song ran over and over through my head that night as I watched my children running towards that moon…I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure, ‘Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major. 

And isn’t that the truth.

As adults we allow ourselves to listen to those little voices, and something small becomes something huge and all of the sudden all we can see is our failures, and we are too afraid to try to reach our goals anymore.

But not my kids. Childish or not, there was nothing going to stop them from getting to that Supermoon.

Now I know what Jesus meant when he talked about faith like a child.

Simple, beautiful, un-touched and un-ashamed faith.

And so Kreade and Ellie, I hope that you always remember this night. I want you to know that God used you to touch mommy’s heart and remind her of a simple life-lesson.

I want you to always remember this night, and remember running towards that moon – nothing was going to stop you from reaching your goal.

If you remember anything that I say or write for you, remember this – Run toward God. Run toward Him and never stop running. Make Him and His glory your only goal in life. Set your eyes on that goal and do not waver from it. Remember that night when you were running towards that moon, unaware and uncaring of anything else around you, unafraid of the darkness of night, the edge of your little world that began at the edge of the forest, or of the fact that you couldn’t see me anymore.

Run. Run towards God and do not be afraid. Keep your eyes on him and remember that place in your heart where your childlike faith lives.

Run. Run towards God. And never turn back.

Phillipians 3: 12-14 (The Message)  I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. 

But Really? Where IS Neverland?

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
― Heraclitus

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Do you remember when you were a kid and all you wanted was to just be old? Maybe not like wrinkly and eighty, but older. As in I-have-my-license-drive-a-car-do-cool-things-have-a-house-have-a-hot-husband-super-cute-kids-awesome-clothes-sweet-job-and-don’t-look-a-day-over-sixteen?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who every wished this.

But really. When I was a kid I thought about that all the time. I’d sit in my log and grass-thatched tee-pee hideout in my funny 1990-something clothes and think about what it would be like to be older. Life is always amazing in your day-dreams. And you can do anything… Be anything…

Weren’t those the days.

I can still see those sunsets of my childhood. Feel the bone-chilling cold of those rainy fall days, playing outside until it was dark and the moon began to rise. Remember what the sand felt like between my toes and in less than pleasant places that those little kid bathing suits just loved to capture so much sand in. I remember my imagination, my adventures, how I half lived outside. The pain of getting my finger caught between logs I was stacking as I built a forest hideout. Of carrying buckets of water to try to make a pretend well. Of hoarding miscellaneous pieces of wood to act as butter and bread in that outdoor pretend store…oh,those were the days.

In some ways I miss them. But in most ways I don’t.

And here I am now. Twenty-eight years old.

I was married when I was twenty. I had a sweet babe before I was twenty-five. Finally graduated (the first part of) college at the age of twenty-six. I’m now twenty-eight and I still don’t drive the car of my dreams. I’ve been married for seven and a half years and it just keeps getting better. Now there are two kids to spend my time with.

And I still think about what it will be like to be old.

I look at this picture and already notice all of the lines our faces didn’t have.

I’ll be thirty in two years. If I live to be ninety, one-third of my life will have passed by.

I used to be scared to get old. To grow up, live, and someday die.

But life doesn’t frighten me anymore.

As hard as it is to grow older, the easier it gets all the same.

What I didn’t know then, sitting in that hideout, holding on to my pocket-knife whittled stick sword and blue and gold painted shield, pretending to be a knight, or an elf, or some other amazing, immortal, half-mythical heroin was that… I would grow up to be all of those things and so much more (well, I still don’t have pointy ears so I guess I didn’t achieve elf status).

I am amazing.

I will live forever (but not on this earth).

And my life has a purpose.

I never thought I’d marry such a hottie (and what a story that was). I never thought I’d graduate college (never mind be working on my Master’s degree). I  never thought that I would be anything more than a stay-at-home-mom (but my work is my calling). I never knew how much I could love (until I had my children). I never knew my purpose (until faith opened my eyes and love became my anthem).

Yes, almost-thirty years has been full of life and learning, of finding and becoming.

And so, if one-third of my life is over, I have no regrets. And if two-thirds of my life remains, I will live with confidence.

Of course because it’s me so I’ll have to bring up Tolkien. Who of course completely nailed it when he wrote about going out of your door. There really is no telling where you might be swept off too (I certainly never expected to end up where I am at today). But wherever it is, and no matter how dangerous the getting there was, it’s going to be amazing. Because the going out of your door is the most difficult part of the journey…the part where you surrender it all and decide to follow The-Giver-of-Life and pursue the purpose that was created for you, and only you.

So thirty more years will likely bring several more lines.

But it will also bring so much more life.

And if in living I share the Love and purpose that I have found with whomever I can…well..

Well, that’s what it’s all about.

For By Grace

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Your grace, let it surround me,
Let faith change the atmosphere. – Remember, The Passion

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

2 Corinthians 12:9

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Some days I find myself counting time relative to Kreade outgrowing his colic. Today I know so much more about why that first year of his life was so hard. More than a physical ailment, infant colic is often linked to temperament. Do I think that he suffered from tummy aches and discomfort for 11 months? Maybe. Do I think that his inherent personality contributed to his symptoms? For sure. Because most days even now Kreade can be difficult to live with.

Those days of waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse him  morning and night for eleven months straight seem so long ago. But I can never forget them. Those days of crying and bouncing and attempting to soothe will always stay with me. When Kreade cries now, at two years of age, all of the memories come flooding back.

And he is still so passionate in everything he does. Instead of tantruming because he wants to nurse, he tantrums in the grocery store when he has to sit in the shopping cart. Instead of crying because he couldn’t communicate what he needed or wanted as an infant, he still cries because language has been slow to come for him and we still don’t know what he needs or wants.

Honestly, I still wonder if he will ever make it one whole day without crying. It’s almost like his preferred method of communication. Like his emotions are just so overwhelming for things big and things that I perceive as small he just handles them by crying. He is all in or all out. Either screaming “Bye! Love you!” at the top of his lungs and being heard two miles away, or screaming “Nooooooooooo!” because he doesn’t want to leave and being heard four miles away.

It’s either Kreade’s way or no way. I wish that I could describe to you the volume, passion, and intensity of his tantrums. Which happen probably at least every hour that he is awake. And then there are his snuggles and hugs and kisses. He hugs with such effort and passion – you never want him to stop. He is the best hugger I know (except maybe for his Pa, could be that’s where he gets it from).

Some days he won’t eat because, well, because he doesn’t want to. Or because you gave him the wrong fork, not his Lightning McQueen fork. And he is so totally thrown off by this poor choice on your end he can’t calm down enough to even realize you quickly washed the Lightning fork and put it in his hand. Instead, he just keeps screaming and you skip straight to nap time and save lunch for when he wakes up.

I’ve never met a child like Kreade. And I have met a lot of children. I don’t think that there are many children out there like him. And he is already so misunderstood. I’ve gotten some nasty stares in the grocery store. And I’m sure that there are family and friends that think we are “spoiling” him. After all, he is two and really shouldn’t be crying so much all of the time. And while I’m sure that there are some things we could do better with him, I’d invite anyone who thinks we have created a naughty kid to spend a day with him. It’s not always that he means to be troublesome (although sometimes his intent is clear), he just is so different. Again, I wish that I could explain it. But those of you who have children who are passionate, spirited, and high-needs know exactly what I am talking about. Normal kids function on 100% and spirited kids function on 500%. No kidding.

And I refuse to completely break that spirit, because someday it is going to be such a good trait. He’ll go far, that boy, and do great things. Because he doesn’t take no for an answer and has the passion of probably a thousand suns, literally pouring his heart into everything he does. If you stop for a minute and block out the screams and tears and difficulty of the situation, your heart will realize the beauty of spirited children.

I wish that I was better at realizing the beauty in it all. But most days I still feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.

Parenting any child is hard and tiring. Parenting a spirited child is exhausting. EXHAUSTING! Exhausting!

Yesterday was a particularly rough day. it was rainy, and I was busy, and Kreade was extra loud and passionate (as in, running around with the slats I was trying to paint for his toddler bed hitting his sister on the head and laughing like he was at a Broadway show). I yelled and threatened and was so frustrated with him I almost cried.

Somedays, Kreade leaves me feeling like I’ll never be good enough.

I’ve been reading this book that my father in law let me borrow. I personally think that everyone should read it. I’ve been in tears through most of it. The stories of redemption and being saved from drug and other addictions by the love of Jesus are nothing short of a miracle. And they are beautiful, beautiful stories. The work that Teen Challenge does is amazing. I became interested in the subject of addiction after learning in one of my secular psychology classes that religious based addiction programs are significantly more effective than any other secular programs. Since then, this topic has really been on my heart.

And I love the stories.

These people have led hard lives. Lives fraught with doubt, anger, hardship, hopelessness, fear, regret… But it’s the hopelessness that stands out to me. And yet, one by one they finish their stories with voices that exude hope. As a reader, you can’t help but wonder how such an adverse life experience can end with a life full of hope.

It’s because of grace.

Grace: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their sanctification :  a virtue coming from God :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace : approval, favor, mercy, pardon.

I often wish that I had more of a ‘story’ to narrate my own life. It’s not that I am jealous of the hardship and heartbreak that these recovered addicts experienced. But I have often wished that I really knew just what I was saved from.

I don’t believe there is any greater way to understand and comprehend grace and forgiveness than to recover from addiction because of Jesus. Reading their stories causes me to look at Him with such awe for the exceptional act that grace in their lives is.

Approved of. Favored by. Extended mercy. Pardoned by God.

And while I do not have the experiences of an addict, I think that parenting might be the runner up when it comes to understanding and comprehending grace.

Not only do we, as Christian parents, have the privilege to extend grace to our children, we do so knowing that we ourselves have been covered in His grace.

Tried really hard but still had a bad day? Ended up yelling at your kids? Feeling exhausted and unworthy to be a parent? Feeling overwhelmed? Want to give up? Feeling bad that a choice or action or something you should have done but forgot to do is going to result in something catastrophic happening to your child as in maybe he will get chicken pox because I scheduled his immunization a month after the recommended time-frame or maybe she is going to catch a cold because I didn’t use the shopping cart cover in the grocery store and I really just feel like I suck at this whole parenting thing.

Grace.

No matter how much we mess up. No matter how much of a failure we think we are. No matter how inadequate we view ourselves as.

Grace.

Because He knows we are doing the best that we can.

You are favored by Him. You are approved of by Him. Mercy is extended to you by Him.

Even when your spirited two year old is screaming in the grocery store because you didn’t get to the race car shopping cart fast enough.

You are pardoned by Him.

All because of Grace.

So let’s remember that His grace is sufficient for us tired and weary parents. And that His strength is made perfect in our weakest moments – the ones where we just want to throw in the towel (or leave the grocery store crying along with our tantruming child).

And let’s remember that the POWER of Christs rests upon us.

And we can do this parenting thing!

Romans 5:19-21 NKJV

19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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In Which I Compare My Life to ‘The Mindy Project’ And Realize Just How Awesome My Husband Really Is

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“It makes me cry because it means that fewer and fewer people are believing it’s cool to want what I want, which is to be married and have kids and love each other in a monogamous, long-lasting relationship.”
― Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest — blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.”
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Danny: The thing that’s most beautiful about you is your confidence.
Mindy: Really? Because people say that is the most annoying part about me.-The Mindy Project, Season 4

The Mindy Project. It’s all I ever want to watch at the end of a long hard day of work, school, kids & life in general…cuz I know it will make me laugh – probably harder than I should – and take the edge off of, well, off of life.

But lately, the show has been tackling an issue that is really quite close to my heart. You know the topic – that one that everyone wants to avoid and no one wants to address but that really should be talked about more.

Working moms.

Yep. Leave it to Mindy Kaling to take this less-than-popular topic head on in her Hulu Original Series. And as hard as it is to watch, as much as I just want to yell at Danny every time he says something so heartless…I am interested to see just where she goes with it all. And I really can’t wait – because my life is like a mini version of this season’s plot.

I’m that woman. Just like Mindy Lahiri. The one who starts her career…cuz, you know, starting a career is just so awful and heinous when you’re a women. Then there I go…I get pregnant and horror of all horrors: I don’t quit my job. Cuz where I’m from, women kind of just are expected to be moms. And nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way diminishing motherhood and the calling that it is. But if you can have it your way, why can’t I have it mine?

And then baby number two. So of course, you’re quitting your job now, right? How can you work and have two kids?

How can I not?

Some days, I wish that I could be nothing more than a stay at home mom. But God has created two types of women to ride the tides of Western Society; and I fall into the non-traditional category.

I used to be self-conscious about the fact that I am a working mom (try to explain to people that I also am a Grad-student and just imagine the looks on their faces). When we first got married, I thought that this was how my life would be. Eh, might as well work for a bit and then when we decide to have a baby -poof – God will make sure I can stay at home.

It’s amazing how God works.

I never would have imagined being anything but at stay at home mom at one point in my life. Looking back, I lacked so much self-confidence, and that “dream” of being a stay at home mom was born out of insecurity and self-doubt, lack of worth and lack of allowing God to use me as He would.

Financially, I have to work.

Mentally, I have to work too.

Spiritually, I need to work.

Because now I know that this is what God has called me to do. Now I am full of confidence – not my own, but the confidence that only God could have filled me with. I have self-worth, because in the depths of my heart, I know I am fulfilling my purpose here on this earth. And now I am totally secure in the knowledge that even though this full time job-grad student-mommy-wife thing is exhausting, it’s what I was born to do.

And I just feel so bad for Mindy Lahiri.

I get how she’s feeling. You love your babies. You love them so much. You love them so much that you know you will go completely insane if you are home all the time, so instead you hire someone who doesn’t go insane and go to work for some of the day.

You love your babies. But you love your job too. You love the platform that your job is – how it allows you to make a difference in other people’s lives. How you can experience the joy of bringing a smile to a child’s face, helping them learn and grow, and supporting their family through so many things. How your job makes you feel so fulfilled, and you know that for some of the day, this is just what you are meant to do with  your life.

Because some of us have bigger hearts – hearts that can hold both love for our children and husbands and love for our careers.

And we are enough.

But where I’m at in this series,  it’s not enough for Danny. And my heart breaks a little, I kind of don’t want to watch the show.

Because I can’t imagine if my Babe told me that I wasn’t a good mother to our children unless I stayed at home.

And I realize just how awesome my husband is.

There should probably be more Christian guys like him out there.

Truth is, if he said I should stay home, I would. It would break my heart (and I’d probably literally go crazy), but I would do it. I know that God asks that wives follow their husbands lead.

But marriage is a beautiful thing.

And when you love someone, and allow God to fill you up, it’s amazing how dreams align.

And I’m just so thankful for all that my husband is for me. Because I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it without him. And on my hardest days, when I’m totally stressing out about all I need to do at work, or the assignment I think might be a ‘B’, there he is…supporting me.

Cleaning up after dinner, playing with the kids while I finish writing my paper, making dinner, going in late so I can go in early and catch up on PTC’s, sitting next to me watching hockey while I’m frantically answering discussion board posts…quietly supporting. Cheering me on.

And I just know that he is my biggest fan.

And every woman who has a heart for family and work deserves someone who will cheer them on.

Because for some of us, God is calling us to both home and workplace. And it’s hard enough to follow this non-traditional path without the support of the one we love most.

So thank you Babe.

Thank you for how awesome you are. Thank you for supporting me, building up my confidence, encouraging my dreams, and letting me fly. I couldn’t do it without you.

So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:28