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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Short & Sweet: cleaning carpet grace

I rose early this morning because I forgot to turn the 5:30 alarm off from yesterday. Instead of falling back to sleep, my daughter also heard the alarm, and beckoned my attention. Tired and groggy, we made our way to the kitchen to eat breakfast and afterward I put her back in the crib for "quiet time" because she was in rare form. I wasn't in a very pleasant mood myself. I made my way back to the kitchen table and prayed that God would give me grace and mercy to get through the long day ahead and that I might show grace to my daughter.

An hour later, the dog decided that the family room downstairs was as good a place as any to take a dump. He never does this, so you can imagine the frustration. Meanwhile, my daughter is throwing a fit because she's over quiet time. I get her out of bed and take her downstairs with me. She hands me paper towels as I scrub stains out of the carpet. I wasn't feeling God's grace or mercy as I tried to avoid breathing in the stench made ten times more pungent by pregnancy.

I voiced my opinions to God as I cleaned the carpet with tested patience.

How is this grace on an already difficult and early morning with a thousand other things on the list to prepare for next week's vacation? Now I can't get the shopping done this morning because here I am trying to clean this carpet. Now nothing is going to go right today. My day is ruined! 

Sometimes my prayers to God, which are often in the form of a one-sided conversation, come across completely dramatic. Though impatient and frustrated, and though shopping would have to wait until after my daughter had her nap, grace happened. We made our way upstairs and I let her have a snack as I washed dishes. Sitting down her snack, something she rarely does, she walked over and blew kisses to me. I stopped washing dishes and bent down to blow kisses back, and that's when she spread out her little arms and wrapped them around my neck.

Today, that moment, was the first time she offered both a hug and a kiss voluntarily, and you bet my eyes were a little misty as I stood back up and continued washing dishes. This was grace, and how beautiful when God's grace is represented from the actions of a child.

Monday, July 25, 2016

While We're Waiting

Little Hughes has been on the move the last few days. On Saturday, I took the lovely glucose test and am hoping for good results. Adding one more twist to the list of my life is unneeded and may lead to a meltdown. I'm doing well, like an unusual calm within a storm, but I know the lightning could strike at anytime, the thunder roar, the rain soak, and the wind test my balance. Deep breaths, coffee, and whispered prayers have helped, but of course, reading and hearing stories and encouragement from those who've been there get me through these crazy hormones-out-of-whack, life-spinning-in-its-own-direction, and 3rd-trimester-trouble moments. That said, here are the reads that resonated with me this week.

The first is a tear jerker if you're a mom, the second and third give perspective on rough days, the fourth allowed me to breath a sigh of relief, and the fifth is a lighter read with a thought provoking ending. Enjoy!

If God Makes You A Mommy by Christi Gee

Life Is Madness. Play Music. Eat Donuts. Dance. Laugh. by Joy

When Today Just Doesn't Go Your Way by Emily Lofgren

Having A Second Child Made Me A Better Mom by Amanda Hughes

A Crash Course In Honeymoon Survival by Sara Manning Peskin

Friday, July 22, 2016

Short & Sweet: Chris Marlow Book

Upon receiving the book, "Doing Good Is Simple", I started by scoping out the premise. I've always believed that doing good doesn't have to be difficult. It might look like taking ornaments to elderly folk in a nursing home, gifting toys to Angel Tree, or helping at a soup kitchen. However, the idea of "simple" encompassing such a major global issue as poverty and orphaned children seems impossible. I was skeptical as to what author Chris Marlow would offer to make global issues seem less daunting and paralyzing. After reading this book, I can say with certainty that global issues can be fought without changing a whole lot to how you currently live. You don't have to travel to Africa or Haiti to make a change, and you don't have write a check every month, unless, of course, that's the direction God leads you. Chris Marlow challenges readers with the idea that simple is significant, and he uses scripture throughout the book to defend these ideas. He also shares his story of being an orphan which powerfully places the reader into his shoes rather than focusing on countless facts.

Another reason I was skeptical to read this book was because I assumed he would attempt to make a "donate to my organization and help alleviate poverty" claim. Anyone who knows me will quickly raise their hand on the understanding that I don't like being told what to do. Ask my parents, my siblings, my husband. Ordering me to do something often leads to bull-headedness. It's a struggle. So while reading this book, I was apprehensive whilst waiting for Marlow to subtly sneak supporting his cause, his passion, his organization Help One Now, and his mission within the pages of his book. Marlow doesn't do this in any part of the book. In fact, there is one point in which he suggests choosing an organization that works best for your own family. He also suggests focusing on your own passions to make good changes in the world. That may look like writing, sewing, baking, building, cleaning, or farming.

This book is a must read for anyone looking to make a difference in the world but struggling to know how to do so. It's for the mom who feels she doesn't have the time to do anything worthwhile. It's for the man struggling to lead his home. It's for the college student considering God's purpose for their life. It's for you.

If you are interested in reading this book, click on the picture to preorder a copy. If you preorder before the book comes out on August 2nd, you'll receive a bunch of resources: an ebook, access to podcasts, writings from other authors, and more!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Short & Sweet: live simply, serve daily

Live simply and serve daily.

Sometimes we must embrace the mess of the moment while desire remains on hold.

When our eyes gloss over at the simply living within our lives, we must pray for new vision. Simply living requires facing those tasks, approaching them with ready hands and a willing heart, and giving ourselves to serving.

We have desires that make us come alive, give us purpose, and allow us to process the world. These passions, these desires, are often an opportunity to give. However, desire and passion become dull and meaningless when we fail to live simply and fully. Therefore, we must set them aside for a season in order that we might bring a greater offering to the table.

We must...
clean the laundry room, 
bake bread,
speak to a stranger,
wait patiently,
color with our children,
serve and give to others.

We weren't created only to accomplish what we find most important and fulfilling in our lives. We were created to serve and give fully in every offering, both significant and small. Oftentimes, the small offerings served with a sweet spirit become significant.

Jesus washed his disciples feet. This was significant because the Messiah was humbly serving, but the act itself was small. The act of washing feet before entering an establishment was a common and often unnoticed task. Servants who took on this task weren't looked upon with admiration. They washed the caked dirt from grass-stained, calloused, pungent feet. They served and did so without recognition. We must do the same. We must set aside what boasts ourselves so that we might serve others and Christ.

We must live simply and serve daily.

Monday, July 11, 2016

While We're Waiting

Our ever-growing toddler is getting difficult to carry. According to friends, I don't look that pregnant, but I sure feel it, and it's hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that this little one will be here in a couple more months. We have yet to set ourselves on any names-boy or girl, but over the weekend my mom gave me a huge bag of boy's clothing she found at a yard sale with a wide range of outfits for 0-12 months. Who thinks she's banking on a boy?

While we're waiting, here are some links for you.

For any of you zucchini-lovers, you'll want to click on the first link for a delicious recipe. Our garden has been producing zucchini like crazy, all from one plant, so I've been making zucchini everything, and this is by far my favorite recipe because it's extremely easy to make as well as delicious. I added two cloves of grated garlic while cooking the rice to give it more flavor.


Cheesy Zucchini Rice by The Recipe Critic

No One Is Beyond The Reach Of Truth by Lysa Terkeurst

Freedom From Shame Jeannie Cunnion

For The Mom {young or old} Who Feels Lonely by Christy Fitzwater

What I Want To Tell Moms (what I wish I would have known sooner) by Sarah Mae

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Short & Sweet: Simple Days

Yesterday, my little girl ate yellow squash without disdain, and it was a proud MOMent since she refuses vegetables on a daily basis. In true mama fashion, I couldn't help but brag on such progress, because it came so unexpectedly. Placing a short post on Facebook, someone soon commented saying, "sometimes it's the little things."

How true. The little things unexpectedly grab us and remind us to focus on the progress-making. When I put my daughter to bed last night, I took a few minutes to remind her and myself of all the little things, the seemingly insignificant things that are actually important and crucial, that we had accomplished that day, including my burning of a grilled cheese because my focus was on cleaning up spilled milk.

Her little eyes stared up at me as she quietly listened to me recall the events that made up our day, her quietude another "little thing" to add to the list when she typically squirms and fusses before bed. As I spoke of our day, the cataracts that clogged my vision cleared and I realized that such a simple Tuesday would likely be the most significant day of the week in the life of my one year old, thus making it my most significant day as well.

There were no bells and whistles to our Tuesday. It was a day at home filled with chores and fun and learning, but that day is one I hope to never forget. It was a day that God had made, and we were thankful and joyful. Sometimes our simplest days are most crucial in the grandeur of life.

For anyone who wishes a seemingly unimportant day could hold more meaning, I'd recommend Emily Freeman's book, Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World, in which Emily offers her perspective on slowing down, a practice difficult for many, especially myself.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Learning In June

1. Using a bullet journal is beneficial. 

I began using a bullet journal this month. Under the impression that summer would be hot, lazy, and slow, I wasn't prepared for the busy schedule that has come with the wonderful weather. It has been nice to have plenty to do, and I haven't let it overwhelm me, but I know that's mainly because I keep track of the daily. You can learn more about the bullet journal system here.

2. I'm learning much about grace within motherhood. 
I've known of grace. The word was ingrained within me as constant reminders were spoken of in my childhood church, but experiencing grace rarely showed significance within my life. I was far from perfect as a kid, but there wasn't a whole lot of pressure to do things right like there is as a mama. Each day, I have to remind myself that I live in a fallen world, that I'm imperfect, and that raising a little one comes with moments in which failing happens on the daily. This season of motherhood has allowed me to see the beauty of grace within my own life rather than simply in the lives of others, and it's teaching me to give more grace to those I love most.

3. Gardening is enjoyable. 

We've worked hard to have a small garden this year, and we just ate our first zucchini and lettuce this month. My parents always planted a garden, and I was never fond of the work and effort involved, but adulthood has a way of giving perspective. We are saving quite a bit of money by growing our own veggies, and that makes the work a lot more enjoyable.

4. Our little girl is fearless. 

She loves animals, and bugs, and dirt, and essentially anything within nature. My kid has gone after chickens and ducks, has curiously watched a spider creep across the concrete, and has picked up a house centipede and handed it to me all within a month's time. I hope she'll be fearless forever, but she watches as mommy screams and cries at the sight of a tiny spider, and she runs into my arms and holds my neck, and I fear that my loss of composure will cause her to fear the same silly things that I fear. Time will tell.

5. Nesting is a thing. 
Last month I wrote, "don't expect a sparkling surface and uncluttered carpet." On a typical occasion, don't expect it. This month, however, I've hit nesting mode. Cleanliness has gone overboard. This never happened during my first pregnancy, so I'm embracing it because I feel extremely satisfied after deep cleaning an area in the house, and I'm sure that feeling will go right out the window soon enough.

6. Leg cramps are also a thing. 
While on the subject of pregnancy, let me tell you that suddenly waking to a calf cramp in the dead of night is terrible. They happened with the first pregnancy, and they are back again. Now that I know what childbirth is like, I'd almost say that a two minute calf cramp is worse than a contraction. Almost. Contractions are worse because you know another one is coming. If that were the case for calf cramps, they'd be worse, hands down.

7. A baby doll is our daughter's favorite toy. 

Perhaps it's all the "mommy is having a baby" talk, but our daughter's favorite toy is her baby doll. "Baby" is also the word she says better than any other.

8. Making Play Dough is a great family activity.

Note: If making play dough with a toddler, be sure there are two adults involved. I'm so glad I waited for the hubby before indulging in such a messy activity.

9. A new kind of weekly post is coming your way. 
Since I'm a mom with a toddler, I don't have a ton of time for writing. As of now, I'm faithfully bringing you weekly "While We're Waiting" posts which are links to other websites that resonate with me and hopefully will do the same for you. I'm also bringing you things I've learned once a month. I'm bringing you another weekly post. They'll be called "Short & Sweet." Writing a couple hundred words is much less daunting than writing a page worth, and I'll be more likely to stick with them once #2 arrives. Also, let's be real. Time is probably not on your side either. I'd rather bring you quality instead of quantity, and I hope to do so with "Short & Sweet" posts.

10. I need only be obedient. 
I had the opportunity to teach a lesson for the women's group at our church. A friend of mine gave a brief monologue on a woman from the bible, a hands-on visual was presented, and then I spoke. It's nerve-wracking to speak to a crowd on anything that you're passionate about. Self-doubt set in while I was still speaking. You aren't making any sense. This isn't helping anyone. Who do you think you are? You know nothing. I couldn't combat the flood of doubt while also trying to speak. Afterward, I faced the doubt. Perhaps I wasn't making sense the entire time, but if only one or two things made sense and resonated, I didn't fail. Who do I think I am? I'm a child of the King and He knows everything and equips and places me exactly where He wants me. I'm not sure why, but He wanted me there, speaking to those women, and the only thing I needed to be was obedient.

What have you learned this month? 

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