The gift of handicrafts. Literally.

Charlotte Mason once said, “The child is only truly educated who can use his hands as truly as his head.”

I will admit: as an adult, there have been many times that I have felt handicapped… not by my lack of knowledge (because I know how to get more of it if I need it), but my lack of skills. I wish I was more “handy,” and find the learning curve a bit harsh at times. (Leaky roof and broken fence, looking at you.)

Right now, I feel it’s so important to teach my children 1) handicrafts (skills that merge both beauty and usefulness) and 2) that generosity and gift giving isn’t just about using money to buy stuff.

When E (my 8yo girlie) began talking about Christmas, we sat down and talked about the gift of creating… and she has decided to put her growing skills in hand sewing and loom knitting to work to make things for her brother and sister (like we read about in Elin’s America).

And together, we are learning the process of scenting and designing goat milk soap with essential oils, mica powders, and flowers.

One day, I’d love to actually learn the processing of making and curing soap from scratch, but the chemicals and storing for the entire process isn’t something we can do right now.

So here is to learning and creating what we can, without waiting for all.the.things to be perfect to do so.

(What do you know… another life lesson. 😉)

Here is the Orange Juniper Goat milk soap we made!

(To see what we used for the soaps, go here, here, and here. 😀 I’m obligated to say that these are referral links, which means our family gets a small smidgen of a boost to our budget if you use them. There is no additional cost to you at all, though. So yay!

Note: the mica powders and essential oils I already had on hand from other projects and needs. Also note… we got the 2lb soap base because I didn’t know how much each bar would make, and how much we would want to do it. We will probably order a 5lb bulk next, to reduce the cost of making it per bar and to give more as gifts this Christmas.)

Big Feelings. Bigger Help.

Last week, we chatted a bit about clearing clutter to make room to parent well.

I want to continue that conversation this week.

Let’s start with an “incident” with my oldest.

I won’t go into details, because first, they aren’t that important… and secondly, they are more her details than mine to share anyway.

But let’s just say, E was feeling some big feelings, made a poor choice that shocked ME, which then made me have to take a step back before dealing with the situation. Because without that space for a minute or so, my own big feelings would not have handled the situation well at all.

I think any parent can appreciate what I’m talking about.

In the past, I probably would have just called the problem what it was and go ahead and dish out/allow for the consequence to come on in… but not this time.

This time, I followed some of the talking points that Dr. Becky mentioned in some posts/stories on Instagram. And it played out surprisingly well.

We started off talking about feelings… and how there isn’t such a thing as a “bad” one. Saying this point blank to my daughter made her mouth drop a bit. We talked about how feelings can FEEL bad, and how we can do wrong things with them… but the feeling itself? It is a messenger. It is something our bodies and beings have to let us know that something doesn’t feel right or isn’t right about a situation. Maybe something we believe is important isn’t happening. Or maybe something we feel shouldn’t be happening is. Our bodies let us know. Our feelings come up to tell us something is off. They tell us to pay attention– and it serves us to listen to what they are saying.

More specifically, our feelings conversation focused on anger– because that was the big feeling that provoked the choice that shouldn’t have been made. And whereas anger itself isn’t bad, because even JESUS was angry, we can choose to use that feeling to hurt ourselves and other people– which isn’t right. We talked about how, the next time her big feelings get too much, she should find me and tell me and we can figure out what to do with that big feeling together.

(Pain point: I soveryoften feel my children’s feelings and take them on myself, so that makes big feelings suuuuper hard for me to work through with them. But that’s my own thing to work through and clear out.)

My 8 year old isn’t the only one in the house who has been on the struggle bus recently.

<<cough>>

This 30something has been having her own big feelings recently.

Lots of big stressors makes it easier for my personal triggers to be mashed and throttled. And Lord bless them, my kiddos can mash and throttle those buttons. What normally I feel I have the grace and ease to handle, with big stressors… I don’t anymore.

Right now, we have been hitting car troubles, financial troubles, family issues, etc., + the whole “the pandemic still isn’t letting life get back to normal and it’s been a whole stinking year now and can’t this thing just stop already” thing.

All of the big things hitting at once, merged with the chronic pandemic fatigue, taps on an underlying lie that I fall into the trap of believing all the time: that if I have hope, or have gratitude, or take a breath or rest or really feel happy– somehow, it invites bad things to happen.

Now, I KNOW that’s not true. I KNOW it’s bad theology and my Jesus doesn’t work that way. But it’s a struggle.

All of this conversation and thinking and processing brings me to Thursday. I’m driving E to piano and she brings up an incident where she had a big feeling. And we started talking it through and pulling it apart a bit. As we finished the conversation, she heaved a big sigh and said, “It was a big feeling, and I didn’t like feeling it.”

“But did it show you something?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “And what it showed me, I guess that was good.”

And it was behind that steering wheel, as I was getting into a median for a left turn, I heard it. 

That Still Small Voice that whispers in your soul Epiphanies so beautiful that a breath escapes your body.

All my life, I’ve heard it, and if you are a Christian, you’ve heard it, too… so let’s just all recite Romans 8:28 together:

“All things work together for good…”

We know it’s true because God says it true. And we might even know its truth more personally, versus in the abstract. I do. I’ve seen it. Some of the hardest road and trials I have personally faced I can look back at now and see God’s Hand in it– though it looked invisible at the time. 

But that life experience doesn’t change the fact that I still wrestle with my faith sometimes. I’ve never really had a hard time believing that God is Sovereign. But His Goodness? THAT’s what Satan and the fallen world likes to cast shadows of doubt on.

But you see, it is His Goodness that is my Epiphany.

Maybe, just like feelings aren’t necessarily good or bad… our circumstances are, too. We are so quick to label big circumstances that make us feel “bad” as bad themselves and rush to write off the value in them. We silence them and push them away because we don’t want to “feel” their “badness”… and instead, miss why we have them in the first place.

What if circumstances, like feelings, are messengers? And what if, instead of fighting our feelings, or rejecting and regretting what’s happening in our lives, we accept it all for what it is, know it has a purpose… and trust that when we have a hard time (because we will), we can and should reach out for Help.

What’s so wonderful about that Help, is that unlike our feelings and circumstances which come and go, ebb and flow…

Help is Ever Present.

The Big Four

Imagine: This week’s creative outlet isn’t connected to the kids. Note: the Big Four are just as necessary for mommas and caretakers. In fact, the term “mother culture” hits on this, and I’m a big fan. This week, I’ve taken a few minutes here and there to learn and practice a new crochet stitch and am making it into a blanket. I’m almost out of skeins, so will need to grab a few more this week. Read why making blankets is actually an anomaly for me, and why I’m glad I’m actually enjoying it this time.

Encourage: As this post has touched on, the main way I’m encouraging my kids is by working through my own Big Feelings and helping them handle theirs better. If you haven’t checked out Dr. Becky, I totally encourage you to!

Educate: We are starting a unit on fairy tales, and I’m super excited. We read East of the Sun to the West of the Moon this week, and it was the first time *I* had ever read it. E loved it. I read it aloud and do voices and all that (thanks, speech degree!), but here’s a video/reading of the story from the Blue Fairy Book. As with most fairy tales, there’s some things that strike adults as kinda weird, but kids are like, “no big deal.” Life’s funny.

Enjoy: To celebrate a new unit, we got a new game! We haven’t played it yet, but I’m heard great things about this one! Can’t wait to break it out tomorrow!


Making room to parent well

Relish Kitchen Organizing - Lake Zurich, IL, US 60047 | Houzz
(Not my actual kitchen. But it’s pretty, isn’t it? One day… one day…)


The kids were finally asleep and I meandered into the kitchen.

The next day was baking day, and since we do sourdough bread that needs some extra time to do the whole “natural leavening” thing, I decided to make the dough so it could rise while we slept.

However, before getting all the flour out and the starter and bowls down from the cabinet, I do what I always do before I make bread:

Clear the counters. Wipe them down.

It isn’t lost on me that in order to do something well, you have to clean up the clutter first.

I mean, you don’t technically have to, I guess. You could just put the ingredients down and around the dishes that need to be put away and the garbage that didn’t make it to the trash can yet.

But baking that way is stressful– it takes twice as long and adds way more problem-solving. Good luck not having to move 1,000 things to get to the measuring cups with doughy hands. It seems like the more you avoid cleaning, the more mess you actually make.

As I was wiping the counters down, it dawned on me.

Parenting well requires the same kind of effort.

People didn’t tell me that parenthood is basically re-realizing all the triggers you have carried from childhood. Maybe you were braver than me, or smarter than I was, but as I turned into an adult, I just kinda stuffed these memories and triggers away, thinking that since I was “grown-up,” I didn’t have to deal with those pesky thoughts and feelings anymore. I dug a hole and buried them deep, people.

So imagine my surprise when, as a parent of small persons, I find those thoughts and feelings resurfacing, cluttering up my mind and meddling in my own emotions… all while wanting to help guide my own kids through how to handle their own big feelings and hard things.

(It doesn’t help that I have a hard time just letting their feelings be THEIRS instead of turning them into mine as well… #workingonthat.)

I’m guilty of wanting to make them and shape them into what they should be– when I’m finding I have no room to do it well. My own clutter and junk are in the way.

Right now, I’m in the midst of reading about feelings and parenting and re-parenting. I’m hearing things for the first time about how to actually handle feelings– both my kids and my own– instead of stuffing or shaming them away.

I actually had a bit of an epiphany about feelings and circumstances and Sovereignty the other day. But I’m still processing that; hopefully, it will find some words and come in another post soon.

This week, I simply want to lay the groundwork for that bigger thought by encouraging you, whether you are a parent or not, to analyze what mental and emotional clutter is making it harder to accomplish what you need to.

Throw away what what doesn’t serve you anymore. Clean up and put away what you need.

It’s the only way to have room for what is most important now.

The Big Four


imagine: A big part of imagination for us is doing something creative… and this week we started a new handicraft! E has been wanting to work with knives and carve stuff… and I’m just not ready to jump into wood blocks and super sharp objects with littles around. So, we got some fun clay tools and handmade soap and began soap carving! It lays a good foundation to both wood working and sculpture for the future, and is useful now– because we like to wash hands a lot around here! Might as well suds up with a cute elephant, rights?

encourage: I’ve recently discovered Dr. Becky at Home on Instagram. Although I don’t agree with everything she says, her work and words has brought soooo many ah-ha moments for me recently. I’ve walked through some of the things that she has suggested with some “big feelings” over here, and am amazing at how they are starting to reshape the conversations I’m having with myself and with my kids– especially my oldest right now. If you haven’t checked her out, please do! I’ll link her here!

https://www.instagram.com/drbeckyathome/

educate: If you have kiddos who might be interested in soap carving, I’m going to drop some helpful links that might get you going. You can totally do the soap carving with the things that are mentioned in the videos themselves (paperclips, etc.), but my kids just LOVE tools and I know I’m going to use them for clay in the future. A lot of the videos call for Ivory soap because it’s soft, etc., but I opted for a natural handmade soap because we do our best to stay away from synthetic stuff over here. So, here you go! Stuff is hyperlinked below!

The tools we got
Soap Carving video: Teddy Bear, Butterfly, & Turtle
Soap Carving video: Bunnies (this video is my girlie’s goal for spring)


enjoy: Bouncing off of the Bernie meme from last week, I did my own homeschool mom version of the “kombucha” lady meme. I’ll go ahead and drop it here, for those who haven’t seen it.

Brittany Tomlinson, Kombucha Girl Blank Template - Imgflip

Here’s my version from this past week. 😂

enjoying life in the midst of no margin


I saw this quotation on Instagram this week, and my gut response was “well, work. Work is what I am doing with my ‘wild and precious life.'”

And then I promptly felt grumpy. 😆

You see, I know it’s not true. I know I have accomplished and am accomplishing and will accomplish way more in my life than doing laundry and being on hold with the IRS to figure out where in the heckie heck my 2019 refund check is just to be hung up on EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (Yes, we filed on time. No, they haven’t given us a refund. Yes, we have it on autodraft. Yes, they received it.)

Things like that make me feel like my life is happening TO me, and I have no choice but do do things that corrode my soul.

And again, I know that’s not true.

But knowing something and feeling something are two entirely different things.

I know that when I start feeling this claustrophobic feeling of soul drain that I need to do two things:

1) Respect my lack of margin. This means saying no to extras. It means not accepting invitations to be a special speaker or teach new things or basically do anything extra than what I’m currently doing that will take up my time or headspace. Not until margin returns.

2) Infuse easy fun in my life. I don’t like feeling like life is all work and no play. No one does. One of the saddest phrases in the world to me is ““Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.” I don’t know about you, but that motivational speech really makes me want to get up and at ’em in the morning.

The conundrum is that sometimes, I feel like I have to plan the fun. Go to a park. Plan an activity. Make plans in the evening. And all of the planning takes… you guessed… margin. Also, the weird thing on running low with margin is that you don’t exactly know when it is going to bottom out. I might make plans to go out… but then on that day, a bunch of drama happens that eats into energy. And then I regret making the plans. It’s weird.

So, how can I– or you– respect both truths? How can we respect both the lack of margin AND the need for fun?

Claim the little moments.

Let me list a few things that happened recently that respected both principles and lifted my spirits this week.

  • Night soccer: My 5 year old boy got a little air-soccer ball for Christmas. It’s rechargable and lights up. One night, we turned off the lights downstairs and stood in the entrances of the kitchen and hallway and living room and pretended they were goals. No scores were kept and no one won or lost. It was 10-15 minutes of impromptu fun, laughter, and a little talking smack and was the perfect way for the evening to end.
  • Baking: As you know, our family learns at home… and most of the time, we don’t need much coaxing to gather together and read some stories and continue our learning in the afternoon. But one day this past week, it just seemed that everyone was on edge, and I just knew that coming back to our agenda once the toddler was napping wasn’t going to go well. I didn’t have time to go into all-out baking mode… but I did find a cake mix stuffed in the back of my pantry. A couple of eggs, some oil, and essential oils for extra zing (instant lemon vitality cake!) and we had an impromptu learning tea party. The kids were excited about the surprise cake and that trickled over into the the things we needed to accomplish.
  • “Tickle zone”: I am not a morning person. And neither are my kids, really. I mean, they like to get up earlier than I do, but at the same time, don’t wake up super peppy. Well, neither of my girls do. My middle male kiddo, J, does– and this actually creates conflict. He wants to get in E’s and L’s faces and insist on playing right away. They don’t return his enthusiasm. 😆 I regularly ask him if he wants to climb up and snuggle for a bit– to give the girls some space and to give me a few more minutes in bed. He often doesn’t want to rest anymore. So this week, I happened upon the “tickle zone.” The only way he activates the “tickle zone” is by climbing up in bed next to me and lying down. Then small little tickles start and gradually grow. (He LOVES being tickled.) The tickle zone keeps him with me and away from the girls. The day starts with laughter instead of fighting (which is VERY margin-depleting when I’m running low anyway). It takes no prep and infuses fun. It’s a win/win.
  • Funny filters: These are SO great to whip out with no prep to lighten the mood. Big eyes, squeaky voices, animal faces. They are ridiculous and silly and always bring giggles. Giggles are so much better than afternoon cranks– for the kids and for me. 😉
  • Remembering and sharing funny memories/times: This last one is for me, and is not connected to the kids and their needs and moods at all. When I get super busy and overwhelmed, the thought of making plans to connect with friends adds to the load. I tell myself all the time it shouldn’t be that way, and that I’ll feel better if I make the effort to reconnect. But when I have little margin, it’s just hard to even push myself to make plans and get out of the house kid-free. Just in the past couple of days, I taken a few minutes here and there to Marco Polo a couple of my dearest friends. It started out just exchanging a couple of “remember when…” stories, and turned into other topics, like conversation does. But just seeing their faces and making touchpoints with them– especially as our day-to-day lives don’t do that so often anymore– has just been mood-lifting. 1) No planning respects my margins. 2) Connecting and sharing life and stories increases my fun.

My challenge to you this week is plan some fun in your day. OR if your margins don’t allow for that right now, find small, simple moments to infuse some fun in. It doesn’t have to be big and elaborate. For me this week, it was some tickles and lemon cake tea time and a few Marco Polos.

Those few extra moments of enjoyment made my life feel a little more wild and precious.

Find moments for you feel like your life is wild and precious, too.


This Week’s Big 4

Imagine: This week coming up, we are bringing out the Brush painting/lettering again this week. I’m actually going to play around with using the brush techniques to make Valentines while the kiddos do their thing. We’ll see how it goes.


Encourage: I’m loving this book the kids and I are reading together in our Morning Basket time. I’ll drop my Instagram post about it here.

Educate: The Inauguration this week allowed us to have the once-in-a-4-year opportunity to see and talk about the transition of power of our nation. We looked at a photo collage of all the presidents so far, and E (my 8 year old girl) asked why there weren’t women in it. We talked about how our new Vice President is a woman, and that women did and can run for president, but hasn’t been one yet. She said that the next time a woman ran for president, she would vote for her because she was a woman. *That* led to an interesting conversation about why we should vote for someone, if gender should be a part of that reasoning, and how we have to consider the ideas and laws someone supports when we vote. We came up with laws we would want to pass if we were president. It was a great conversation!

Enjoy: Because Bernie is trending in the light of the Inauguration, I just couldn’t help myself. You know, since we mentioned margin. 😂

Decide once.

“Decide once.”

I first read this phrase when I opened my birthday gift to myself– a copy of The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi.

The principle should be pretty self explanatory in its simplicity, but I’ll add a few words anyway. Basically, instead of reinventing the wheel all the time, decide once about the things that can be decided once about… and then lather, rinse, repeat.

Truth be told, I have done this in several areas of my life. For instance, lesson planning. I teach part-time both college and high school, as well as homeschool my own kids. During the day with my kids, I try to have these 4 things in some way: imagination, encouragement, education (obviously. We homeschool.), and enjoyment. I want all 4 in my day, and try to actually think through and plan those out. More on that in another post.

I also try to incorporate each of those principles in my communication lesson plans via activities, one-on-one, discussions, projects, etc. It’s important that students get creative, feel confidence, learn something, and have fun. Those things are what matter to me.

However, I will admit to not being so awesome at deciding once in my home life. I don’t like feeling “tied down”/committed to something when I don’t want to be. For being married with three kids, I’m a bit of a commitment phobe. (I don’t even have a yearly plan for my cell phone people.)

As much as I love NOT feeling tied down, the stress that comes when I don’t know what’s next with certain things is NOT fun for me. When it was just me and my husband working full time and I didn’t know what was for dinner? We both said, “NO problem!” and went out to eat. Fast forward 10 years and 3 kids later, and that decision isn’t feasible anymore. It costs way more to eat out, and then schedules get all thwarted, and kids have meltdowns in public, etc. You get the picture.

So, thanks to budgets and routines, dinner needs to be home most nights. And around the same time, too.

Funny thing is, I actually love cooking and meal planning and trying new recipes and foods. But here’s another thing: right now, it isn’t worth the extra time. I don’t want to re-invent the wheel every week… especially when my kids are at the age that extra time in the kitchen to learn and try new recipes just ends up stressing me out. (Hello toddler, pulling your diaper off in the middle of the kitchen and peeing on the floor while my hands are in raw meat… I’m looking at you.)

The answer for me right now: decide once.

Let’s chat about what that looks like.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, our family has music stuff until, basically, 5. This tight turn-around makes dinner prep nigh impossible. Answer? Tuesday/Thursdays are either slow cooker/instant pot/ or kid friendly charcuterie board nights. Right now, we are doing a lot of soups and a roast occasionally.

Saturdays are pizza and movie nights. Most weekends, we make our pizza at home… but every once in a while, we will Papa John it.

Sunday nights are breakfast-for-dinner nights.

This leaves MWF “open.” One of those nights will be a steak and caesar salad night. We get all of our beef from Butcher Box and love how tasty their grass-fed food is! Also, caesar dressing is SO easy and tasty to make from home if you follow this easy hack: fish sauce instead of grinding sardines. (GAG) I got the idea and my initial recipe from vietworldkitchen. (After making it several times, I just eyeball all the ingredients in her list and don’t look it up.)

That leaves 2 days a week for me to plug in a family favorite or try something new or have my 8 year old choose and make dinner.

Or have wiggle room for special occasion nights.

That amount of flexibility is perfect for me.


This week’s Big 4:

Imagine: I would have liked to have done more here this week– something a bit more original that “just coloring” or “just doing playdoh,” but that was what we did this week. We are still recovering from Christmas, coming in from out of town, unpacking, being hit hard with meetings/speech competitions, and physical limitations this week. This next week, I’m thinking about having the kiddos make a map to go along with the travels we are reading about in the Pilgrim Progress adaptation, Dangerous Journey. They also really love watching other kids’ “plays” of stories, so once we are done, we will have movie time with this video.

Encourage: The kids and I are memorizing Romans 8:31-39 this quarter. Saying the words each morning, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” encourages my heart– especially as some personal trials seem very much “against” me right now. I love this reading of the passage, and listen to it each morning as well.

Educate: We are learning about different Native American tribes for history right now… and I’m using the Family “jeopardy” app on our Apple TV to make a game out of what we are learning. Both my 8 yo girl and 5 yo boy are LOVING learning about the different cultures, and my daughter can’t wait until we get to Cherokee, as Papa (my grandfather) was half. I remember going camping in the reservation and getting to see tribe members dress in their dance regalia and just being mesmerized. I’d love to take a field trip up to the Oconaluftee Indian Village once we can!

Enjoy: We bundled up on a sunny day and hung hammocks that the two “bigs” got for Christmas outside. The kiddos stared at the sky through the branches of the trees and looked at the clouds. Made me wish I had gotten a hammock, too. But it was so nice to just watch them enjoy it. Isn’t that parenthood, my friends?

Ever-fixed thanks.

I would like to say that “in everything, I give thanks.”

But both heaven and my husband know that’s not true.

I’m the solve-a-problem-by-preventing-it type… which means you actually have to pre-think problems in your head to solve them before they start. I am fairly decent at doing this for the day-in, day-out stuff.  Packed diaper bags.  Pre-snacked children.  Plenty of gas in the car.  Electronic tickets screen-shot vs. trusting wifi to open the email when I need them.

I’ve saved myself a lot of angst with this pre-thinking thing I do.

But you see, this Forethought Super-power comes at a price.

It requires I focus on the “bad” more than the “good.” The negative “what-if.”

And often, it’s hard to be thankful for bad.

This labeling of something “bad” assumes, of course, that you actually know what “bad” is… but can we all admit that we have a hard time knowing which is which sometimes?  Things that look bad on the surface can actually be good… and the assumed good can sometimes be bad.  And then there’s a whole bunch of morally gray areas in life that no one can really pin down this side of heaven.

It’s confusing.

But in this verse?  There is no question.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good.

What He does is good.

We agree with that in the pews on Sunday and some people give a hardy “amen,” but can we all also admit that it’s hard to reconcile that with junkie stuff that happens?  When tragedy strikes?  When betrayals hit close to home?  When sickness sweeps in?  When fear takes hold?  When loved ones die?

I’ve never been one to question God’s power.  

But I’ll fully confess to questioning His Goodness.  More times than I care to admit.

But last night, as I read this verse, something struck me.

It’s easy to read the phrases of this passage all disjointed and disconnected… like David was just sitting there going, “this truth sounds good.  Oh, and this truth sounds good.  I’ll just smoosh them together in a verse, I think.”

That’s not the way poetry— specifically Hebrew poetry— works.  There is parallelism and cause and effect.  We see that all over the psalms.

So here we go.  

Give thanks to the Lord.

Why?

Because He is good.

Why?

Because *His love endures forever.*

We like to believe that the love on this earth is eternal, don’t we?  I say to my husband and my children “I will always love you” and I mean it more than I mean anything.  I can’t imagine the love I feel for them breaking.  My heart may break in the loving, but my love?  Surely, that will be steadfast.

We want that to be true with every fiber of our beings; but there are no guarantees with love or life.  Whereas I believe that love is a choice, and we need to choose it every day, and we will always keep choosing it… the fact of the matter is, we do stop loving sometimes.  We claim to love people, but hurt them.  We choose ourselves over the object of our love, and harm the bonds between us.  We break promises.  We break vows.  We break hearts.

But not Him.

We can always give thanks, not because He does good (He does).  Not because He is good (He is).

But because He, as Love, endures FOREVER. And forever, loves us perfectly.

With Jesus, there is no altering, when alteration finds.

There is no bending with the remover to remove.

He, as Love, is ever-fixed…

Courage required.

I have broken places.
⠀⠀
And since you are a fellow inhabitant of earth alongside me, I can pretty much guarantee that you have broken places, too. 
⠀⠀
I can pinpoint to several places as a child, as a young adult, as a wife and mother, where I felt myself snap. Felt the break in my soul. Experienced moments where I knew I wasn’t going to be the same once the acuteness of the pain subsided to an ever-present ache.
⠀⠀
God doesn’t ask us to not break. He doesn’t ask us to be self-sufficient. Nowhere in the Bible does it say “thou shalt pull up thyself with thine bootstraps.”
⠀⠀
It is the opposite. He says He will be our strength. He says He will make beauty from ashes, because He knows we will not walk this planet unscathed. At times, our hopes will burn. Our dreams will go up in smoke. Life in this fallen world will set our expectations up in flames.
⠀⠀
But our Father promises Beauty.
⠀⠀
Not just in spite of the destruction, but He will take those cinders themselves and repurpose them into an amazing gallery of Redemption and YOU will be His Masterpiece.
⠀⠀
Here is to you. Here is to me.
⠀⠀
Here’s to courage to rise from our broken places today…
⠀⠀
and everyday.

(Originally posted on social media, 1.31.19)

Tomato Theology

I’m having a fun event at my house tonight… I really planned it because I’ve been wanting to learn how to make homemade cheese and realized I would never do it unless I gave myself some external pressure. (Thanks grad school.)

Anyway, I am making a tomato basil salad to go with the mozzarella and thought that the variety of small tomatoes would be a good opportunity to teach my almost six year old some knife skills.

She’s doing great. I’m right beside her, giving her instruction. She’s enjoying herself, and begins talking about the different tomatoes.

“This one is long and skinny and yellow,” she says. She cuts it and puts it in the bowl.

“This one is red. And it is really round,” she says. She puts it in the bowl. “It is like you. You are round, too.”

Enter that wave of shame.

Those of you who have always struggled with your weight are familiar with this feeling. It’s a horrible companion. It was the bully that tapped on my shoulder and called me fat before my kindergarten pictures when I was barely five. The shame made me suck in my stomach.

And I haven’t stopped feeling like I have had to suck it in and be small ever since.

With my shame present, I don’t say anything, except to place another handful of tomatoes on the cutting board.

My daughter chatters on.

“Mommy, do you ever wish you were skinny?”

I’m beginning to regret this impromptu chopping class. I was thinking the produce would be cut, not me.

I understand it is an opportunity. But it is definitely one I’m not sure how to take.

I use a cross examination tactic to buy myself a few extra seconds for my brain to process.

“That’s a really good question…” I say slowly, looking down and feeling sympathy for those slashed cherry tomatoes sitting in the bowl.

And then, words. Maybe grace.

“You see how pretty that bowl of tomatoes is? All different shapes and sizes and colors?”

“Yes.”

I pick up an uncut round red tomato and a long skinny yellow tomato and hold them in my hands.

“These tomatoes look different, and they taste different. But God made them both beautiful and good, with their unique taste. Is the round, red tomato better than the yellow, skinny tomato?”

“No mommy. They are both tasty.”

“Right. They are both good. And then, we put all the kinds of tomatoes in the same bowl and they are even prettier and better together, aren’t they?”

“Yes.”

“That’s how God made people. All different shapes and sizes.”

“And colors!” She interrupted.

“Yes, and colors. And He put us all together in this world, just like we put all the tomatoes together in this bowl. And all together, in all our variety, we are even more beautiful. Remember when God made us… what did He call us?”

“Good!”

She reaches for another tomato and cuts it and begins humming.

I place a few more tomatoes in front of her, not sure if I actually believe my impromptu tomato theology. 

But in the moment, I know I have stumbled on truth.

And I hope that I will gradually come to this faith… and that my daughter will always be a believer in the beauty she was created with and in.

(Originally published 11.02.18 on social media.)