Grace

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Grace

2015’s word was SIMPLE. In some way I succeeded at simplifying my life and in many way I did not. As I’ve been reflecting the last few weeks, I realized that simple was about changing my lifestyle, but what I really needed was to change my heart. So my 2016 word is GRACE.

I take offense easily. Someone has an event and I’m not invited—offended. Someone doesn’t say hi or ask the “right” questions—offended. Someone forgets something important to me—offended. Offended and hurt. Usually over small, unimportant “slights”. The thing is, those small details are how I accept love, so when they happen or don’t happen I feel ignored and unimportant. And despite knowing that those are the things I want people to give to me, I continue to not make that a priority when giving to others.

Grace is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. (google definition) Some of the other terms used to define grace (according to merriam-webster) include: mercy, pardon, privilege, reprieve, a special favor, an act of kindness or courtesy.

Simply put grace is free and undeserved. It’s given to someone no matter what that person has done. God gave it to us, so that we may have eternal life, so therefore we are called to give grace to others, to love them and treat them with kindness and mercy, without regard for how they have treated us.

I want my heart to change this year. I don’t want to focus on the negative, on the perceived slights. On taking offense at nothing. On getting angry at my kids for not learning a lesson fast enough or my husband for forgetting a request or event. Or my grandmother for getting angry when I bring her food. I want to remember that everyone is battling an array of emotions and situations and lies and needs and wants. And that I can best respond (for my sake and theirs), with an attitude of love and grace. With a kindness that may not be deserved.

I also want to give more grace to myself. Lots of people claim being “their own worst enemies” and it’s true. Most of us are harder on ourselves, than anyone else is on us. I’m harder on my self when I lose my temper at tantrumy kids. Or when I miss a deadline or make a mistake. Or instead of lovingly taking my grandmother food, I grumble and resent the task. Or when for the 50th time that day I angrily take my son off the table (or piano, or the dresser, or the kitchen cabinets). Or when I snap as I answer my daughter’s ask for the hundredth time “where are we going today, Mama?” I definitely want to improve in those areas and grow more patient, but I don’t want to spend the rest of the day beating myself up and telling myself how horrible of a mama/wife/granddaughter/designer/friend I am.

This word is a little more abstract than the simplicity of trying to get rid of the excess, but my hope is that by studying and reflecting on Grace, my heart will change and everyday it will come a little easier and I will love a little more.

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

 

 

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A cookbook!

This past year was my first year being a member of a MOPS group. It has been a great way to get to know other mama's and families in El Paso. It has been a blessing as we have started our life in El Paso. At the end of the year, they were putting together a cookbook (all the mom's submitted recipes back in the fall), to gift to all the mama's. And I, being the slightly overzealous person that I am, volunteered to make it happen.

I am really happy with how it turned out and equally as pleased that we managed to keep it in the very small $60 budget. Thank you binder rings, chip board, and washi tape. And 5 ladies willing to put some time in to put them all together.

Cover and back cover.

Cover and back cover.

Inside pages.

Inside pages.

The book was designed to stand up, so one can easily follow the recipe while cooking.

The book was designed to stand up, so one can easily follow the recipe while cooking.


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Things I learned and want to remember for March

The franklin mountains and the Mexican poppies.

The franklin mountains and the Mexican poppies.

I realize this is like weeks late, but wanted to get it on the record anyway.

This March was a quiet month. It was filled with caring for sick kiddos and only doing the basics. I used to feel like being unproductive meant I was worthless, but this time around, I'm embracing the fact that I can't do everything and caring for little people and myself is the most important. It's an everyday battle, but my goal is to 

Things I want to remember: 

Caedon in front of his birthday banner.

Caedon in front of his birthday banner.

  • Caedon walking me in circles around the house because all he wants to do is walk, but can't do it without a finger. (Walk in the room and he crawls up your leg and grabs your finger. Then takes you wherever he feels like.)
  • The gorgeous March weather. 70s, sunny, a great month for being outdoors and watching Hannah play outside and learn at rapid speed. 
  • Caedon's first birthday. 
  • Hannah's wish this month is for everyone to be a princess just like her. (The boys can be princes...)

As far as the things I've learned–it's mostly things I'm still chewing on. There wasn't a ton of thinking time when all I really wanted to do is sleep. But there were still some really valuable lessons, I just need to chew on them some more..

 

My March nuggets:

  • The expression of love is faith. 
  • True freedom brings a response.
  • If you love something--set it free.
  • Thankfulness should compel us to love the people around us. 
  • Be a student of the lord. 
  • Intimacy doesn't happen in a crowded room. 
  • Free people still have rules. 
  • I am not guilty. 
  • Choose the life you really want. 
  • Sin is serious business. 
  • Feed the spirit, starve the sin.
  • Victory can be had. 

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Things I learned and want to remember for February

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1. Making Caedon laugh is the best part of my day and seeing Hannah make Caedon laugh makes me swoon. It doesn't take much right now. Simply make a plastic frog leap across the kitchen or tickle his cheeks. (Or as Hannah calls it "cheekies")

2. You should never move concrete blocks by yourself with two kids and in flip flops. Trust me—your toes will thank you later (and you won’t spend 5 days in a boot and 2 weeks wearing the only pair of shoes that will fit over your toes without excruciating pain.)

3. There is a lot of brokenness in the world. Sometimes it's really easy to get bogged down in how crazy-sad life can be. But Jesus promised us eternal joy. We can look froward to a day when there will be no more tears. I struggle with thinking further than today, but I am so much better when I remember there is more. There is hope. We just have to dwell in it. (So much easier said than done and is something I constantly need reminded of.)

weaving sneak peek

4. I love to weave. It's totally trendy and everyone's doing it know, but it relaxes me. It's creative and energizing and just gives me a sense of peace. I'm on my second piece and still experimenting with it, but am having so much fun.

5. I don't have to decide school for the kids today. I don't have to decide how their entire schooling will look right now. I just have to decide for next year. And even then if it isn't working I can change it. I don't need to panic about it. 

6. Over scheduling myself makes me stressed and quick tempered. I know better. Next month I will plan things out better or at least not schedule multiple things for one night. 

7. Growing up, Lent, was about giving up something. Sacrificing to become a better person. It's been years since I have practiced Lent (once you stop attending a traditional church, no one mentions it again.) But this year I found 40 acts from British non-profit Stewardship and have been loving the daily encouragement to “do lent generously." To stop focusing on ourselves and actually show love to others.  So far, my favorites have been “devise a surprise" "thank you, thank you, thank you" and "hold it lightly". Just search #40acts to see it all. 

Plus I’ve decided to start a new project. I love the idea of documenting how we change and what shape the year takes. I’ve decided to do a monthly painting. I’ll use one canvas for the entire year and continually paint it to document the year and the layers upon layers of learning that will happen. 

Here is February’s painting. It encompasses a lot of what I’ve learned.

2-15 painting

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2015 Word for the Year: Simple

I could go extreme, but the act of simplifying our lives shouldn't be extreme. Moderate simplicity. That's what I'm aiming for. Getting into the habit of doing the simple instead of making everything so complex. 

Our world is full of crazy amounts of stuff, information, things to do. There is so much that we miss out on because we are so busy finding the next distraction. My goal is to stop being distracted. Simplify my expectations and "needs" to  find the joy in the unexpected. 

I so often get distracted by the many, many, many things I “should” be doing or "could" be doing. And I am reminded right now that there is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3). There is a season for doing more and less and a season for being more, but right now, with 2 littles at home and others that need caring for, my season is here and now to be love to my family, to serve them and to work on myself (to learn and grow and create good habits).

Ways I plan on simplifying:

  • Use what I have. When I want to make something or give something I should start with what I own first. Or what I can salvage from the world around me. (So, no more trips to the craft store just because I want to try [and most likely not finish] a new project) 
  • Less tv/phone/social media/internet distractions. They have a place and they aren’t inherently bad, but limited. Like less than an hour a day.
  • To stop being busy and start being purposeful. This isn’t so much about adding things to my life, but about doing things on purpose. Showering people with love and thoughtfulness instead of focusing on the selfish desires for "me" time.
  • Food. It should be simple—not full of crazy ingredients or unnatural things. I’m not going to go crazy or a stickler, but I am going to strive to eat the simplest foods.

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One year as a Texan

One year ago this week we piled in the car and began the four day road trip from Ohio to Texas. We had known the move was coming for a while. We had planned for it, sold our house, quit and started looking for new jobs, found new doctors (I was 7 months pregnant at the time), researched everything. Prepared and ready would be how I would have described us. But really you’re never fully prepared for a cross country move and your expectations are always skewed. Now one year later life looks like I thought it would and it doesn’t look anything like I thought it would all at the same time.

It’s been a year of change. Learning how to live with my mom, grandmother and brother again. Adding a baby boy to the mix. Learning how to stay at home and trying to figure out what that’s suppose to look like, and feel like, and mean. Deciding what and how I should be spending my time. Not sleeping and feeling guilty for not “accomplishing” anything other than keeping the people in the house alive. (and, really that is an accomplishment all it’s own.)

As I reflect on the past year and everything that has happened I’ve come up with a list of five things I love about being here and five things I really miss about Columbus. In no particular order.

5 things I Love about El Paso

Franklin Mounrains. Photo by  Ubidubium .

Franklin Mounrains. Photo by Ubidubium.

1. The Mountains

Everyday I look out the window and see these gorgeous mountains jutting up into the sky. They aren’t the mountains that people typically think of—covered in trees and snow topped peaks. But they are beautiful and rugged and colorful. And they remind me of how big God is. 

2. The Weather/Sun

This one is a little cliche for Texas, but none-the-less, I love the weather. More so in the winter than the summer (still not a huge fan of 100+ degree days) but 60’s in January. I’ll take it. Plus you can beat 320+ days of sunshine. I actually miss a cloudy day now, but would rather miss clouds than sun.

Family portrait done by Hannah Bess Ross.

Family portrait done by Hannah Bess Ross.

3. Family

We moved here for family. To be close to both my immediate and extended family and I love it. I love being able to stop in and visit with my great aunts. I love seeing aunts and uncles and getting to know them as an adult and getting to see my kids interact with them. I love that Hannah will have intimate knowledge of her great grandmother and aunts—memories that will go with her forever. I love that she knows her uncles and grandmother in a way that can only come with living with them. It’s now always easy and we definitely have bumps, but it is so worth it.

4. Church family

We came from an amazing legacy of a church in columbus, but in recent years just hadn’t been able to connect with a community in quite the same way as in college or just post college. Here we have found a community that we can call home, that we can serve with and that lives life alongside us—it’s been refreshing and challenging and I am so blessed and thankful for it.

5. Being a full time Mom and wife.

I love staying at home with my kids. Being able to see them grow and change and learn is extremely rewarding. I don’t miss waking up before the sun to get ready for work and frantic mornings getting Hannah out of bed and running to work and spending all my energy there, just drive an hour plus home and attempt to be a good mom in a couple hours. It’s not always easy staying at home, but, for me, it is infinitely better as a stay at home mom.

5 things I miss about Columbus

Wonderful friends eating on the porch celebrating my 30th birthday.

Wonderful friends eating on the porch celebrating my 30th birthday.

1. Friends

We have some amazing friends in Ohio (and beyond, but they all started in Ohio.) People who taught us so much and befriended us and guided us as we grew and became a family. I miss seeing them on a regular basis. I love Skype and Facebook and whatnot to keep in touch, but it’s just not the same as seeing them on a regular basis.

2. Columbus culture

I miss the art, food, festivals, local shops, local pride of Columbus. I miss the short north and gallery hop. I miss the summer festivals and the local restaurants (I could really use some North Star and Lavash right now). I miss the amazing zoo and the best library in the country. Columbus culture will always hold a special place in my heart.

3. Stormy days

I do miss the rain and the thunder and lightning. I miss being able to curl up on the couch on a stormy day and read and snuggle and watch movies. I love the sun and all that it means, but sometimes you just want a gloomy day.

4. CCAD Art sales

I loved art sales. So many talented students and alumni and staff. I loved being able to get real, original art for a reasonable price and supporting up and coming artists and designers. 

Columbus house

5. Our 1st house

The house doesn’t make a home, I know that. But I still really miss the first house we turned into our home. I miss the nooks and crannies and quirks, but mostly I think I miss that it was all us, mismatched furniture and all. I miss that old charmer that was 2 blocks from a great park with lovely neighbors and wonderful memories.

And now we embark on year two as Texans.

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Quotes

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Often we forget how others feel in situations. We get so caught up in how everything effects us personally. We truly are selfish, it takes so much concentration to remember others before our selves. This quote reminds me that it's not just what we say to others, but that our actions that effect how someone feels. That is what we are called to—love others so much they can't help but feeling it and remembering it.

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What is hope? and why hope?

Hope: to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.; to believe, desire, or trust; to place trust; rely (dictionary.com)

May the god of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Life is full of things that hurt, are sad, or cause grief. It is so easy to focus on those things. To let the negativity overtake our outlook on life. To think of all the bad and forget about the many, many blessings we have everyday.

Everyday we are given gifts, things to help us get through the hard times, because there will be hard times. Life isn't easy, but we have the ability to choose joy and hope and thanksgiving. My goal is to focus my heart and mind on the choosing hope and joy, on finding the everyday blessings and on loving the people around me—no matter what else is happening in my life or the world around me.

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