Resources + Free Fun Stuff Event!

I’m so excited to be hosting an online Back-to-School event this year!

I’m teaming up with several handcraft creatives, educators, and resource makers to give all those that attend some great tips and tools to make this next academic year amazing. As an extra plus, the evening will be full of great giveaways, which makes it even more exciting!

Visit us at the facebook event page to RSVP, read more about how to enter in the giveaways (note: it’s ultra-easy!) and get a sneak peak at what to expect!

Here are some of the people teaming up with us:

Along with those amazing peeps and the giveaways they will be offering, there will also be tips and tools about immune boosting, food prep, attention helps, calming techniques, habit-forming helps, and more!

Please join all of us online for these helpful and fun event!

Can’t wait to see you there!

Maybe homemaking is a bit like writing.

So, I’m in the middle (chapter 10, to be precise) of reading Sarah Mackenzie’s The Read-Aloud Family. And by “reading,” I mean “listening.” Ironically, the only way I can read right now is to be read-aloud to myself. 🙂 I much prefer reading an actual book. I love underlining and circling and underlining and dog-earring. I love writing my thoughts and mini-essays in the margins. I process and remember so much better that way.

But after going through a LOOOOONG season of not reading much of anything besides board books and debate briefs, I decided a subscription to Scribd was a small price to pay for my own mental health and investment in mother culture.

I have no regrets.

There are lots of great parts in Read-Aloud that I wish I had pushed the “bookmark” button for, but didn’t get to, (alas, the downfalls of listening and driving…) but this one I managed to scramble and tap the small icon before it moved on too much past the thought.

Mackenzie is quoting children/YA author, Katherine Paterson, when she writes,

“When I write a story it is not an attempt to make children good or wise. Nobody but God can do that, and even God doesn’t do it without the child’s cooperation. I am trying, in a book, to simply give children a place where they can find rest for their weary souls.”

These three sentences sponsored several thoughts.

First, I have written Christian drama, adapted books for stage, and even dabbled in children’s writing myself–although I want to do more. I have personally felt the conflict of wanting to make the best decision for the story, and the expectations of a conservative Christian audience to insert clear black and white messages and even work in a salvation prayer or a character hug somewhere. But you and I know that life isn’t like that. It isn’t black and white. We don’t know all the answers. And I don’t know why writers are expected to inject all of that in a play that’s 90 minutes long, or a story that’s barely 10 pages (in the case of a child’s picture book). I mean, we aren’t all script writers for Full House, you know?

Second, I love the implication here that, just like we shouldn’t expect an author to shoulder the burden of “making children good or wise,” we CAN expect THE Author to do that. I believe that each story has the Gospel in it– Creation can’t escape it. Every time a story has good triumph over evil… every time sin has a consequence… every time a character struggles to make the right choice… every time a princess is rescued or ANYONE is rescued– that’s Gospel. That’s Truth. That’s the Story that is inscribed on our hearts. I believe God can and does use story–all of it– to impress Truth on us. That’s His Craft. His Business. His Work.

The third thought Paterson’s words provoked had absolutely nothing to do with writing and everything to do with parenting. Ah, parenting. You know. That 24/7 job that, at least for me, takes 98% of my brain’s CPU when its in problem-solving mode.

I very much feel the heaviness in my heart when my children do things they aren’t supposed to do. The problem isn’t that they are “misbehaving” or “acting their age.” Children do silly things, have maturing brains, etc., etc. I get that.

My thing is, so often, I have a hard time discerning if something is “just a phase,” or the beginning of a horrible character flaw and sin habit. The first possibility requires more patience than anything else. The second requires intentional consistency that is exhausting, but necessary.

Unlike bookwriting, parenting does have more of a goal and obligation of imparting goodness and wisdom in their children. It is the parents responsibility to take care of their specifically-given children, unlike an author that writes for an age-group of people they don’t personally know.

But here is where I think the quotation hits home. Literally.

Like a story, I can’t make my children good and wise. I can’t. Sure, I can *try.* Sure, I can encourage it and make choices that help deposit those things in the heart of my children. And sure, I can do my best to NOT GET IN THE WAY of goodness and wisdom taking root. But the burden of squeezing in all goodness and wisdom in my children in the 18 years I have them? I can’t do that.

But you know what? Making my children good and wise isn’t my job. Because “nobody but God can do that.” And Paterson is also right– God waits for cooperation. A willingness. He waits for me– and will wait for my children– to come to Him, after feeling the tug and persuasiveness of His Love and Truth and promise of Rest.

And that leads us to the end of the quotation: “I am trying, in a book, to simply give children a place where they can find rest for their weary souls.

Recently, I have been full of my own wonderings of “what should I do?!” as a parent. I don’t want to under-react or over-react, so I don’t know how to ACT at all.

But when I heard this quotation, it was like a little light went off in my head and heart.

What if I tried, in my home, to simply give children a place where they can find rest for their weary souls. That was it. To offer rest.

So when drama happens? Offer rest.

When they are tired? Offer rest.

When they are sad? Offer rest.

When they don’t know what to do? Offer rest.

And we might think to ourselves, “how much rest do they really need? How ‘weary’ can a 3 year old be?” (Or a 6 year old or 10 year old or 13 years old or 35 year old… <<ahem>>)

But weariness affects our children just as much as it affects us. They have their version. We have ours.

And in our weariness, what do we want most?

Rest.

Rest.

And think about it. Isn’t it life-Rest and soul-Rest that draws us to Jesus?

So, it makes me wonder. What would happen if I stopped trying so hard to “make” my children good and wise, and instead, focused on making a home that invited them to experience True rest?

Wouldn’t I be inviting them to Jesus?

Wouldn’t I be ushering them to the One who CAN make them Wise and Good and Whole and Well?

And in focusing on Rest for them, an interesting thing happens.

I find that I can find Rest, too.

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.
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And since you are a fellow inhabitant of earth alongside me, I can pretty much guarantee that you have broken places, too. 
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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But our Father promises Beauty.
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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.
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Here is to you. Here is to me.
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Here’s to courage to rise from our broken places today…
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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.)