that time i gave a man money

We were in the grocery store, my girls and I.  It was a Thursday, the minutes creeping precariously close to dinner.  This trip though, was going smoothly; this trip, the girls were laughing; this trip, they were helping me load food into our cart.

As we turned into the frozen food aisle, I saw him at the other end.  We made our way down the aisle, he made his way closer to us.

His pants had holes, his toes peeking through his weathered shoes.  His face looked dirty, though it could have been from his worn down hands constantly brushing his ragged hair out of his eyes.

He carried nothing in his hands, his eyes looked tired.

Sometimes, in this situation, I might feel hesitation.  A stranger and me, alone in a large aisle.

This time though, something shifted.

saw him.

Questions raced through my heart- did he have somewhere to sleep that night?  Did he have family in town to help him?  What turns had his life taken that made it so difficult?  How long had he been walking?  How long has he been on the side?  How long had he been tired?

engaging with other people

We got closer, and I paused.  I looked him in the eyes, “Hello.”

I could see his shoulders release.  Tension must sit there, preparing for strangers to cast him aside, to criticize, to shame.

I smiled.  My Brennan girl jumped up and down and then did a twirl, arms raised and up on her tiptoes- a greeting reserved for times when she feels oh-so-happy.

Ma’am… I am so sorry to have to ask this… but I am trying to buy something for my daughter… it’s $1.57 and I don’t have that.  Do you think you might be able to help?

There have been times when I have said no.  Times when I have wondered if that is the true story.  If they are going to use that money to fuel unhealthy life decisions.

But here is what I have landed on: It is always better to err on the side of generosity.

See, big things happen in my heart and in my world when I let go of shaming, of judging, of criticizing… and I just give.  The story might play out in one way or in another… but at least I did something.

And so, when the man in the grocery store aisle asked for one single dollar and fifty seven cents… I said Absolutely, Sir.  Let me get my wallet.  And in that aisle, as I fished through my wallet, my Brennan girl continued to spin and my fingers landed on a Five Dollar Bill.

I questioned whether I should give him the Five or make it more awkward as I fished out exact change for this gentleman.

Seriously?  Get your hands on that five dollar bill, sister.

And so I handed him the $5.

He grinned from ear to ear, thanked me profusely… and we parted ways.

As we walked away, I explained to my girls what just happened.  That we need to step into other peoples lives and do what we can to help.  To get out of our context.  And so that is what we did for that gentleman… he needed a little bit of money… we had a little bit of money… and that is the way that we could help him in that moment.

And here’s the thing though, friends: We parted ways, and I checked out and paid for our food with money that we have, loaded into a car that we own, and parked in a safe home in a safe neighborhood knowing what tomorrow will hold.

He walked down that aisle, used that $5.00… and walked into the night, into a future that must feel uncertain, vulnerable, and scary.

How easily I can walk away, drive away and move on.  I can close my eyes, turn my gaze, shut my ears.  And I have before and I do every single day.

engaging with other people

My life looks and has looked and will look so very different than so very many.

This world is broken and this world is breaking.

I just can’t shake my encounter with my friend in the grocery store aisle.

I just can’t turn my head anymore.

Really, I can do more than $5.00.  Really, I can’t shut my eyes.  There are so, so many marginalized in our very own city, our very own country, our very own world.

My heart is yearning to act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.

I don’t know what that’s going to look like yet.

But it needs to happen.

~~ Do you have any good ideas on ways you have engaged with your city and community and people who need it?  Would love to hear it~~

 

breakfast at our house. {recipe: egg muffins}

The morning hours are always a bit of a shock, yes?  In our season of raising littles, gone are the lazy mornings of stretching in our peaceful bed, waking up one body part at a time.  Instead right now, it is a brisk alert to change diapers, get sippy cups, get coffee, feed the littles, clean up spilt milk, get them on a constructive track playing in the other room, get coffee, and finally feed ourselves.

I actually love the morning hours.  I love coffee.  I love my people.

But I need food STAT.  I am a much happier person when my belly is full.

Because of that, I love prepping breakfast ahead of time so all it takes is a quick minute with minimal preparation in those precious early minutes.  Egg muffins are easy to prepare and cook up quickly so have become a consistent favorite in our home.  Lots of times I will cook them on a Sunday afternoon or evening and they last all week.

It is a pretty forgiving recipe- feel free to switch out different protein or different veggies and it would still turn out beautifully delicious!

egg muffins

::: egg muffins :::

ingredients

egg muffin ingredients
: 10 eggs
: 1 lb breakfast sausage
: 2 cups loose spinach
: peppers
: 1 sweet potato {I use white sweet potatoes}, grated

~ Preheat oven to 350

~ Mix up your eggs in a large bowl and set aside

~ Cook your sausage and sweet potato together in a large skillet, breaking the sausage up into small crumbles.  The two will end up finishing at roughly the same time. {Note on the sweet potatoes: I like to use white sweet potatoes rather than the typical orange. An added “win” is that when I had previously made it with the orange sweet potatoes, the girls thought it looked weird and wouldn’t eat them… the white sweet potato blends in to the egg so they don’t even know its there.}

egg muffin ingredients

~ While the sausage/sweet potato mixture is cooking, chop your peppers and slice up your spinach fairly small

~ Once the sausage is mostly cooked, add in the peppers and spinach in those final minutes of cooking until the peppers are soft and the spinach is wilted.

egg muffin ingredients

~ Add the sausage/vegetable mixture to the eggs and mix together

~ Grease muffin tins and add the egg mixture to the tins until it is about 3/4 of the way full {they will rise a little bit}

egg muffin ingredients

~ Bake for 15-20 minutes, until eggs are set {mine are done at 18 minutes}

egg muffins

These little guys are surprisingly filling- Lane and I eat 2 each for breakfast, though Ellie can throw down 3-4 per meal~!

enjoy, my friends~!

on being a mama when love feels heavy

The woman that we invited into our world said that in our girls’ eyes, I am the heavy one and Daddy is the good one.

To our girl, to the one that I carried as she grew and she kicked, the one whose owies I kiss away when she feels brave, the one whose bangs I brush out of her eyes… to that girl, I am heavy.

That Daddy is around more now than he has been before, and in her eyes, that places Daddy in the realm of novel and fun… and me in the role of corrector.  In the role of not fun.

But what I heard, what my heart absorbed, is that to my girl, I am heavy.

She said there is a source to all of this, a root to the difficulty and the defiant, a root to the regression and the glimpses of anger, but we’re still digging to find the source of that well.  It runs deep through her core, this well, dug day after day of the boxes and the transition and the goodbyes and the new homes.  Unable to find language for what she is thinking and what she is feeling, instead it is directed at me.  Much of the Let me go! is aimed in my direction.  Much of the cries are Not you! Daddy! Oh, what that does to a Mama’s heart.

I love you so, my girl.  Don’t you know we are in this together?  Haven’t you grasped that with your hands as we made mud castles together?  Didn’t I prove that to you as you sobbed into my shoulder, my arms around your waist hugging you tight?

We are in this together, my love.  You are mine and I am yours and our stories are one.  My exhalations are tied to your very breath.

parenting when love feels heavy

These bonds of ours are stronger than anything we are going to face.  There are no deal-breakers in this family.  Do you know that yet?  You test and you push.  You flail and you defy.  But these ties that bind are stronger.

For these ties that bind link me to you.  From the moment you were first formed, we became linked for better and for worse, as long as we both shall live, and forever after that.  You, my girl, are darling.  You, my girl, are precious.  You, my girl, are brave.

I am FOR you.  I am WITH you.  We are in this together.

We say a chant as often as we can, inspired by my sister and a difficult journey with their boy.  In those times when we feel vulnerable, powerless, consumed, we say this.  In those times when we just need a good reminder, we say this.  When we need to feel empowered, we say this.

The hand motions that go with it are oh-so-important.  You love doing this:

I am strong {flex those muscles}

parenting when love feels heavy

I am powerful {one arm raised in strength}

parenting when love feels heavy

I am loved {bring arms into heart or for a hug}

parenting when love feels heavy

And we are strong.  We are powerful.  We are loved.  We are going to fight for you every inch along the way.  Because that’s what our family does.  We will not lose what is precious in the name of what is good.

And you, my girl, are precious.

Together, our family is learning what it looks like to be interrupted.  What it means to do the right and good and best thing for your family… as a family.  To believe and know and sense that there is more to this life… and to then act on that.

But my girl, I know that that is a lot to ask of you.  I can hardly find the language to process, much less you.

And so, my love, know that I am with you and I am for you.  Always.

We will repeat our chant every second we get.

I will continue to love you, my girl.  Constantly.  Even when you push, I will love you.  And if there are times that you need space, I will love you.  {But I will still sneak kisses.}

When you have so much built up in you that you just can’t get out… let’s go do play-doh together.  A fantastic method to create; a fantastic method to expel big feelings.

If you feel a little tightly wound, I will hand you a pillow.  Squeeze it with all of your might, let it all out.  I don’t mind a bit.  I think it’s good for you to have a physical release.

In those moments when you just can’t connect to the day and feel a little out of control, I will grab your shoulders, look in your eyes, and we will take our deep breaths together.  We call it our magic breath.  One… two… three… raise your little shoulders and your whole entire body as we breathe in… and breathe out.  Together.  We’ve been taking our magic breaths a lot lately… but they seem to help center you.

We will weather this storm.  Because I can’t promise you that it will get easier… but we will get stronger.  I can promise you that on the other end, your adventurous spirit will be shining through.  Our family won’t silence the feelings or the questions, but instead will step into them, even when they’re messy and even when they’re uncomfortable.  Because emotions are welcome in our home.  We don’t tiptoe around sad feelings or angry feelings or big feelings.  We feel all things.  We deal with all things.

And really, I think that we’re feeling all of the things together.  At the same time.

And it can be a bit much.  It can feel a bit heavy.

But I need you to know that I love you, my girl.

parenting when love feels heavy

You will always sense my thereness.  For we are in this together.

My girl, I watch you wander and fly, the kite in my world.  And I am the anchor in yours.  Soar, my girl.  But know that I am right there with you, connecting your restless heart to the ground.

Is love heavy?  Yes, sometimes it is.  Is being a mama heavy?  Yes, sometimes, yes.  But in those moments, especially in those moments, continue to love.  For love can outweigh the heaviest heavy.  Love can outshine the darkest dark.

Yes, Love conquers all.

 

teaching kids art

I’m a right brained gal.

Math, science, logic… maybe not my strong suits.

But history, books, music, decorating, theatre, writing… those are my jam.

I feel like my parents did a great job at instilling a love for the arts & humanities in us girls and I want to pay it forward with my own girls.

This is a fantastic website that helps to teach art to kids.  I love the approach this guy takes- he involves his own kids and he really walks through each step of the process to teach littles how to draw.

If you need a fun activity to do with your people- Check it out! {just click on the picture and it will take you to his website: artforkidshub.com}

art for kids hub

on downsizing and why i {eventually} loved it

It started as a garage sale.  A natural byproduct of moving, really- as we walked our house assessing our household goods, how many boxes we would need and how large of a van to get, we were blindsided by how much stuff we had acquired.

It had been a sneaky and silent process- the lure of filling up a large house with decorations and furniture and the belief that we and our kids need more, more, more.

And so as we walked and as we looked we were struck by how much we just don’t need.  How very much we own and how very little we actually need.

So, a thought occurred to us: we are in a lean financial season… heading into an even leaner financial season… lets downsize our world.  Lets look through our belongings with a critical eye and really and truly answer whether we need it or not, whether we want it or not.  If we don’t, we will sell it at a garage sale.  We will sell what we have and we will make a profit- one that we will wisely use and will be a way that our needs will be met in this next year.

Who knows, we told ourselves, how much we might make on this garage sale, but we have some large furniture, some big-ticket items that could fetch a pretty penny and sustain us through this time of reduced income.

How easily we wrote out how this story would unfold.  How easily we assured ourselves the means with which we would be provided for.  How I didn’t realize the lessons I could learn when your heart isn’t tied to material possessions.

And so, with a critical eye, we walked room by room of our house.  Starting in the living room, moving through the kitchen, next into the playroom, onto the bedrooms, the closets, and the storage areas.  We went into the garage and set things into piles.

doing a free garage sale

These items in our home had to meet a certain criteria in order to be kept: Is it of great value- Is it a piece that is of high quality and we invested in it and it is a lifetime piece?  OR Is it a piece that has great sentimental worth- Are our hearts tied to it because of family tradition or special memories?  OR Does this piece serve a specific purpose- Does it serve a necessary function in our home?  As we walked and as we debated, if we didn’t have an answer to one of those questions to any given item, into the garage sale pile it went.

And our garage sale pile grew.  And grew.  And grew.

having a free garage sale

Eventually our two-car garage was filled and our cars could no longer fit into the space because so much of our home had been moved into the garage to be sold.

Christmas decorations, baby items, bookcases, furniture, chairs, frames, hand-made wooden pieces, couches, clothes, vases, home decor.  So very much.

To provide for us.  My heart that had been tied to these items was slowly shifting allegiance to seeing these items as a means to make money.  I was preemptively filled with gratitude to God for being so generous to us.

Our garage was staged for a sale, our items were prepped and laid out, ready for the lookers and the buyers.

And then a few days before the garage sale, one of Lane’s friends came over.  A recent college grad who was moving into an apartment without possessions of his own and Lane, without warning me, had said this friend could walk through our house and take what he needed.  My generous and open-handed husband had offered our house as a blank check to help this friend start out.  My generous and open-handed husband had promised our couches and our bookcases and our belongings that were set aside for us to make money on.  They were a means of provision in preparation for a year that will be tight.  And this friend was going to take it for free.

having a free garage sale

My heart began to race.  I pulled Lane aside and explained my hopes for the garage sale and my plans for the money and my longings for the year.  There were tears and fears and big feelings involved.

He didn’t understand.  He said that we have more than we need, that we’re fine, that this friend is just starting out- at one time we were too.  That we need to be generous.

My heart didn’t understand.  It was tied to our possessions.  It was tied to the hope that we could sell them and make money on it.  I was sure of God’s plans for us- Lane had stepped in and thwarted the very way He would provide.  In my place of anxiety and fear about our unknown future, I was clinging to what was familiar, to what I could control.

I was angry at my husband.  I did not want to give things away.  But I put on the smile as our friend walked out of our house and loaded up his truck with some of our biggest items.

Later that day, another friend stopped by.  Once again, Lane told her that she could look around and take what she wanted.  Once again, my heart was hard.  Normally, Sarah in a happy and healthy state would have told her to look around to her hearts content.  Normal, healthy, and happy Sarah would have told her to fill up her arms and her car with what she loved.  But this time, this Sarah barely even smiled.  This Sarah, instead of seeing the opportunity to provide for someone else only saw what she was losing.  And I’m sure it showed.

And it felt icky.  I knew it when it was happening.  I could feel myself tied to my possessions and the money they represented.  I was watching myself and loathing how I was thinking and how I was acting.

I needed to become more generous.  I needed to combat my hard and selfish and fearful spirit.

And I had to stop that in its tracks.  I told Lane that I didn’t want to have a garage sale anymore.  It was turning me into a close-fisted and stingy person.  We needed to do the exact opposite of having a garage sale in order for me to be able to flip the switch.

We needed to give everything away.  He did not even question me.  Immediately he was on board.

And so we had a Free Garage Sale.

We told our friends to come over and look around.  I took people through tours of our house, pointing out what they could have, encouraging them to take more.  We flagged neighbors down, telling them to come and take our stuff.

We gave it all away.

Our bookcases, our beds, our couches.  Our patio set, our vacuums, our shutters, our kitchen ware.  Our chairs, our lawnmower, our clothes.  Pieces that we adored because Lane lovingly made them for me when I had a certain dream for a space in my mind that I couldn’t find in a store.  The pallet bed.  The beautiful desk.

And when we had offered all we could to our friends and still had too much left over, we started to put “Free” signs on the items and left them out on our front lawn.

free garage sale

It had become a game to us… how much can we give away?!

It became this giddy thrill for us… who is going to take this item?  What need will it provide to them?

It became a joy to us.

I say this not with pride… but with disgusted knowledge of where I started.  I say this not for show… but in complete disbelief in how stingy I was.

Because I remember the feeling when our first friends came by, and I absolutely did not want for them to take our stuff.  I can practically feel how tight-fisted I was, how selfish I was, how very much I wanted to hang on to every piece of our home.  I know the darkness of my heart, and how deeply it shone through in those moments.

I know how far I traveled down the road of generous.  I know where I started.

And it was a joy for me, even me, to give?

Really, truly, that is what it became.  Once I took down my walls, called out my fear, and saw our life with clear vision, it was a joy.

We are so, so well taken care of.  We are so, so wealthy when viewed through a global lens.  I finally, finally saw things clearly.  I finally realized that we don’t actually need how much I thought we did.

I finally realized that once I simplified our life, God’s voice in my own life would be louder.  It wasn’t drowned out by the noise of my possessions, the noise of my fear, the need of my control.  I sensed His provision in the midst of giving away.  We gave away 1/3 of our home and my faith was rocked.

Generosity and spirituality are much more intimately linked than I ever could have known.

We simplified, we downsized, we gave away.

And I ended up really loving it.

let’s live this life well : verse cards {free printable}

Sometimes, before I am even aware of it, an entire day has passed.

Sometimes, before I am even aware of it, my baby has turned into a toddler.

Sometimes, before I am even aware of it, it’s been an entire week before I give Jesus any significant thought.

printable verse cards

Does that ever happen to you?  You blink, and a day is gone.  You get caught up in the rushes of the day, the moments that matter, the messes to clean up, and an entire day is gone.

How easy it would be for an entire life to pass you by.  To blink, and have missed it.

How desperately I do not want that to happen.  I want to dig in to these days.  I want to be here.  With my people.  Doing what we love.  Living a life that matters.

Living this one, precious, significant, life well.

printable verse cards

What helps me is to have anchors in my day.  Mainstays that will hook me, hold me in, keep my restless heart from wandering.  And for me, the anchor that stills me and encourages me and gives me new and better and complete perspective is words from the bible.  Verses that speak into my life and into my moments and remind me to breathe.  To be in this moment, to live this life well, and to love others as we do it all together.

Sometimes when the days seem overwhelming, the mundane is outweighing the magnificent… I just need a little reminder of what really matters… to do JUSTICE, to love KINDNESS, to walk HUMBLY with your God.

printable verse cards

I keep these cards throughout my house and they keep me anchored to truth.

To root yourself in LOVE.  To grasp how very, very much we are loved.

printable verse cards

To Bless our Lord, with all of our soul.

printable verse cards

And so I created verse cards to do that very thing that I needed.  Some of my favorite verses that I sprinkle throughout my home and my world so that I will glance upon them frequently and they anchor me to now.

I put them on a key ring and carried them around with me in my purse.  They have sat in a basket next to my kitchen sink and I flip to a new verse to read each day.  I have taped one to my bathroom mirror, one to my fridge, and one on our magnet board.

printable verse cards

To let go of what I need to let go of, to sit in the sweet and sacred moments and remember that it is all just such a gift.  

And that is my hope for you.  I pass this pack of 10 4×4 printable verse cards on to you {FREE!} as we walk through our moments and celebrate this life.

::: to download the verse cards, just enter your email address below.  A link to the pdf document will be emailed to you that you can download and print out.  I used white card stock I had on hand and they are perfectly sturdy.  Alongside the cards, you also receive free email updates from the jelly jars. :::

*************************************************************************************************

from me to you ::: free verse printable

*************************************************************************************************

enjoy, my friends~!

xoxoxo
~Sarah

why i let her stop and blow the dandelions

She’s still just a baby, after all.

True, she is Three. Years. Old. And she works oh so hard at holding up all three fingers at the same time.

But really, she is still just my tiny little girl.

enjoying the toddler years

It seems like she is so big and should have so much figured out and I hold her to such high expectations {too high of expectations, really} because compared to her 1-year-old sister, she seems so big.

But really, she is still just learning. Really, she is still just finding her place in this world.

And she will be for a long time.

And so I make a very intentional effort to let her be a kid.

letting her stop to blow the dandelions

Sometimes, we build a fort in our dining room just for the sake of reading a book underneath by the light of the flashlight.

Sometimes for breakfast, rather than strapped in and sanitized at the breakfast nook, I lay a blanket out on the living room floor and we have a Pancake Picnic. Yes, with syrup, and yes, with fingers. The blanket can be washed, the hands can be wiped down.

The memories… these memories are what last forever.

Do I want her to remember a childhood where mama was always chasing after her, picking up the crumbs? Where shoes had to be off, lest mud be tracked onto the freshly mopped floors? Where I never got down to her level and showed her how to twirl?

But really…

Look at how much fun we had making those muffins together, and witnessing her joy at eating them right out of the pan, even though some of those muffins spilled onto the floor.

The mud on those shoes? What if instead I saw those as a sign of a childhood well lived; the mud delivered after splashing in the fresh rain puddles and then running in to tell me about the roly poly she discovered.

And see how much she loves to twirl? See how those little blond curls hit her nose after each rotation? Watch, and really see, how her eyes crinkle as she laughs and as she spins. Listen, and really hear, her joy as she falls to the ground. What if you would have missed that for the sake of putting away those breakfast dishes?

Yes, there needs to be discipline and yes, there needs to be attention on the chores and the clean and the kids and the food.

But what if I actually let my kids live in our home?

Rather than always “trying to stay on top of things” and fold the laundry and wipe down the counters and wash the dishes and make the beds and make the food and keep them spot-free and put together… what if I got down on their level and played with them?

Because that is where the memories lie. They are not going to remember whether you wiped down the counters that day, they are not going to remember if you got all of your errands done, they are not going to remember if the pillows were perfectly fluffed on the couch.

But they are going to remember a mama who was willing to lay on the floor with them and build a tower. They are going to remember a mama who, when reading books developed voices for each and every character. They are going to remember a mama who saw a blizzard and rallied the troops to head outside and create an ice cave.

I want my kids to know that they are free to be kids. I want them to know the empty space in a day where creativity lies. I want them to know what it feels like to hold handful of dirt as it spills through their fingers.

playing in the outdoors

Because these memories, these building blocks, these will form those oh-so-important cornerstones of our relationship. These memories, these moments, will teach my babies the imagination it requires to build a spaceship out of cardboard moving boxes, the feel of belly-laughter from jumping onto a tower of pillows, and the love of a mama who celebrates with them.

She is only my little baby girl for so long, after all. This too shall pass, after all.

And so when we go on our family walks around the neighborhood, I remind myself to let go of my plans, my timetable, myself. Because she stops to twirl. She stops to kneel and examine the ants. She stops to gather up the dandelions. She rejoices at finding the perfect one to toss into the wind, takes a deep breath with her whole entire body, and blows the dandelion.

enjoying the moments with my toddler

And when I look at my watch and see that we’ve been out too long and she’s walking too slowly and it’s almost dinnertime and I still have laundry to fold and emails to answer and letters to write and child you walk so slowly, I silence those demands.

I remind myself that this moment, this moment, will become a memory. And I stoop down and examine the ants with her. I look over and memorize her tiny little fingers pressed up against the sidewalk, smudged with dirt. I scan her face and remind myself memorize this…memorize this… all too soon it will just be a memory.

Make it a memory worth remembering.

Because she is just my little girl, and I want her to know that I enjoy her, that she is free to be herself in our home, that she can play and get messy and make memories; that we are in this together.

And so I get down and build a fort.

I sit on the carpet and hold her just for the sake of holding her.

And I let her stop and blow the dandelions.

xoxoxo
~Sarah

when god starts to move

Sometimes, amidst the typical movements of my days, I feel this stirring in my soul: Oh, that my life would matter.  Oh, that I would engage in this world and help to exchange fear and shame for love and grace.

sensing god's movement

But how, exactly, do I step into this movement of God?  How do I know what He wants me to do… how do I know which path will help me bring the most Life to this world?

About a year ago, my husband and I were wrestling with some fairly heavy, life-trajectory-changing questions.  Through this process, our world capsized.  What we thought we knew, we didn’t.  Where we thought we were going, we weren’t.  New life was breathed into every nook and cranny of our home and our hearts.

And this is what I learned:

-> read the rest of this post over at (in)courage by following this link… 

quick and easy sweet potatoes & eggs (and bacon!)

I’ve been thinking about it, and I realized why I love to do food posts on this blog.  Because really, I am not a foodie, or a trained cook, or anything remotely related to food, actually.  I’m just a momma who likes to feel strong and healthy and who LOVES a delicious meal.

BUT, I do believe that food charts the course your life will follow: As the developers of the Whole30 say, The food you eat will either make you more healthy or less healthy.  

I do believe that food is a pathway to relationship: Sharing a table together is a sacred and close experience- you join in conversation and join in a practice dating back to biblical times and beyond.  I do believe it helps and will help my relationship with my kiddos.  And I do believe that the food you eat fuels our bodies for the activities we enjoy in life.  And this point, really is so much of the heart behind this blog- let’s Be Here Now.  Let’s live this life well.  Let’s dig in and enjoy these moments and these memories.  And I do believe that healthy habits and healthy food directly relates to that.

If I can do it, you can do it too.  Really.

So now that I’m off of that tangent… ;)  here is a dish for you, my friend:

Sweet Potato Hash and Fried Eggs (and bacon!)

delicious paleo sweet potato meal

: what you’ll need

: 2 sweet potatoes {makes enough to feed all 4 of us}, peeled
: eggs {we make 8– 2 each}
: 8 pieces bacon {2 pieces each}
: coconut oil (or some other cooking fat}
: salt and pepper to taste

*  skillet {I use our cast iron}
* baking sheet
* foil

– Preheat your oven to 400.
–Line a baking sheet with foil {makes cleanup so much easier} and lay your strips of bacon on it.  As soon as you’re ready, pop your bacon right on into the oven; don’t worry about her heating all they way up.  Save time wherever you can, mama!  Let it cook to your desired doneness- we are super crispy bacon lovers and with our oven it’s right about 25 minutes.
– Using either a food processor or a food grater {BE CAREFUL with your sweet fingers!!!  I have lost a few tips in this process} shred your sweet potatoes
– While the bacon is cooking, start to warm up your skillet on medium-high heat with the fat in it.  {Lawdy, I bet it would be delicious cooked in bacon fat}.  Once it’s ready, put your potatoes in and sprinkle them with salt and pepper
– Let them SIT for a little bit.  The secret to them crisping up is to not mess with them.
– While potatoes are cooking and your beloved bacon is in the oven, get going on your eggs.  –Melt some butter/coconut oil/cooking fat in another skillet over medium-low heat.  Gently crack your egg into that yummy butter.  You now can either: Cover it with a lit and let it cook that way OR Watch it and once one side is done enough, flip it.  I have not mastered the flip yet.  It can be tough.
– Your potatoes should start to get this nice brown and crispy layer to them, and the best you can, flip the whole bit of them over to the other side.  Do not STIR… FLIP.  Good job.  They are done when they are soft and tender.  Take one out and taste it just like you would spaghetti.

* Should this meal go according to plan, everything should be finishing up at mostly the same time.

* Put some of the sweet potato hash on a plate, lay your eggs on top of the hash, and put some bacon on top… just so.

This makes a delicious and satisfying and completely filling breakfast.  We have totally had it for dinner too.  Add in some sautéed spinach and you are good to go.

For real, the combination of flavors of the gooey egg with the sweet potato and the saltiness of the bacon is TO DIE FOR.

Extra little tip, just because I love ya: To sell this to the girls, we named the sweet potato hash Golden Crumbles.  Has a nice ring to it, eh?

xoxoxo
~Sarah

 

option b

Rewind a few months with me here.  To the months when our Colorado ground was covered with snow, to the space when I had a 9-month-old and a 2-almost-3-year-old.

There was one day in that Springtime space that I think of often.  One certain memory that crosses my mind.  Thankfully, it now serves as a reminder that sometimes, I can change the course of our day.

We had had A Day.  You know the ones?  The Days when one baby is fussy and the other is whiny, one is sick and the other is teething, one is ornery and the other is needy.  We had A Day followed by A Night and I didn’t have much left to give when the next morning hit.

This is my Instagram capturing the moment:

making the better choice with kids

We were in need of a “reset” day today after I spent yesterday with one sick little, then up all night with the other little.  I could choose A: Let PBS babysit the girls today while I drank coffee and had a pity party for myself {which I have done} OR B: Fake it till you make it, strap on our snow boots, load up with snacks that’d last us a week, and go on an adventure exploring together.  I assure you, Option B made for a much more fun day.

There are days where I can’t see the choice, I don’t sense the alternative, I feel paralyzed by the demands of the day.  But this day, this time, I saw that I had an Option.  When all 3 of us were in a difficult place, I wanted to just survive the day.  But I rallied, gathered up our gear, and turned the day into a glorious adventure.  We hiked around the foothills, explored, learned how to make snowballs, and had a picnic in the crisp Springtime sun.

A little bit later, a friend of mine tagged me in an Instagram picture of a dinner plate with magnificent waffles.  Her caption was: “After 5 days gone, Andrew’s {her husband} flight home is delayed… waffles seemed like the right response… Sarah, this is my Option B!  (Albeit a bit less healthy of a coping strategy than yours was!”

The thing is, we always have a choice.  This day serves as a reminder for me that things aren’t always what they seem.  That sure, there are moments that seem overwhelming, situations that paralyze.  But try to find the Option B.  Look and see if there might be something that could add a little adventure to your day.  A little sparkle, a shimmer of happiness, a new way of seeing.

Maybe an afternoon trip to get FroYo.  Maybe a dance party.  Maybe a nature walk to collect leaves.

Sometimes, you just gotta fake it till you make it.  Sometimes, you just gotta make waffles for dinner.  Sometimes, you just gotta rally and search for adventure and fun.  It just might turn your day around.

There are so many possible Option B’s out there… do you have any moments when you were at your wits end and you decided to change the story of your day?  Any brilliant ideas of what to do when you need to rally?

what i created when i stopped packing moving boxes

Even though movers come on Monday, even though I had a list 20 items deep of what I should be doing, even though it made absolutely zero sense because it’s just going to go in a box, I had to just stop packing the boxes and make something.

It was like this weird mental, emotional itch that I just couldn’t work through.  I had to do something creative.  I had to make something pretty.

ragamuffin wall hanging with ribbon

I needed to do something that wasn’t practical, wasn’t marking off an item on my to-do list, was for no other purpose other than it made me happy.

Does that ever happen to you?

Life gets so busy that it becomes so easy to just go from one moment to the next without stopping until the day is done.

And really, that’s fine.  Because you’re living your life, you’re pouring into the people living in your home and surrounding your world, and you’re doing what it takes to take care of each of them and do your thing.

And right now, our thing is transition.  Right now, our thing is moving and boxes and pursuing opportunities and new chapters and little girls.

But in the midst of that, for some reason, when my home is in boxes…

I just needed to create something.

It made no sense and I knew it.  I knew it was for the girls’ room that they won’t be living in for who knows how long, I knew I would create it and it’d immediately go into a box for storage, and most importantly that I could be spending my time much more wisely.

But sometimes I just have to get out of myself and out of the go-go-go of the day, take a step back and create.  Take a step back and take one little moment for me.  Find beauty in the day, find joy in the process, work towards our future home and making it more beautiful.

I suppose this is kind of my improvisation on making a glorified ragamuffin garland from The Nester {which I love and have made a gajillion of}.  This became more of a statement piece, more of a wall decoration to beautify their room in our next home.  It’s not perfect- I can see that I’d like to add more white lace ribbon the next time it goes on sale at Hobby Lobby, etc., but it sure was fun to make.

{It was quite an easy process: Find ribbon you have lying around your house, coordinated or not… I’m into the neutral thing, make one string longer to be your horizontal piece, cut lengths of ribbon fairly long- for these purposes, I want it to be more of a statement wall art and cover a big portion of the wall- and tie little knots at the top … I can do a more detailed tutorial in the future…}

ribbon for craft project

And I love it and it helped.  AND, I had little helpers as well. :)

toddler helping with craft project

do you see the boxes everywhere?

{on a side note, this was the beginning of the Great Hair Debacle of 2014… while I had scissors out, I decided to give Brennan a hair cut.  Me, who has zero haircutting experience.  We jump into the shower to rinse her off… while I’m drying Ellie off B runs back out, I follow her only to find that she has already grabbed her scissors and cut herself some bangs…. ayiyi}.

I was refreshed, it was like I received a shot of sanity, I was ready to tackle moving boxes once again.

ragamuffin ribbon wall art

I made something pretty.

What is it that you need in those moments?  Do you read?  Do you pick up your camera?  Do you play the piano?

xoxoxo
~Sarah

delicious summer salad

This has become my go-to summer salad recipe.  Though I love a good salad year-round, there is something about eating salads in the summer- the availability of fresh ingredients, the ability for a quick meal, a light meal in the warm months.

I got this salad idea from my friend Dorothy, so I will lovingly dub this “Dorothy’s Salad.”  Actually, most of my favorite foods right now are inspired by her, so maybe unless otherwise noted, just go ahead and assume that she gave me the idea. ;)

delicious summer salad idea

dorothy’s salad

: arugula
: spinach {or you can make it an all-arugula salad… but arugula can be a strong flavor for some.  I like the mix}
: goat cheese
: sliced cucumber
: chopped tomatoes
: chopped avocado.  Lots of avocado.
: {optional} sunflower seeds
: cooked and sliced protein of some kind {grilled chicken is delicious, I have used Aidell’s chicken and apple sausage; pictured here is salami I had in my fridge which was scrumptious}

: for dressing I just drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar :

::: Assemble your salad :::

This is the only critical tip I have for you: Before I tried this salad, I thought BOTH arugula and goat cheese were disgusting.  Too strong of flavors.  This salad changed both for me, and now I can’t get enough.  I have been known to lick the spoon after adding the goat cheese to my salads.  It is SO GOOD.

So: Lay your greens on the plate.  MAKE SURE THE NEXT LAYER IS GOAT CHEESE!  The combination of flavors will knock you senseless.

goat cheese

For the rest of the salad, just add in ingredients to your hearts content.

Fall in love.

summer salad

enjoy~!

xoxoxo
sarah

fun summer activity for kiddos

We had so much fun painting in our backyard the other day that I had to share this with y’all.

Summer is the time to get outside, have lots of time to play and explore and create and wander.

But sometimes, in the midst of the open agendas and time and space… it still helps to have ideas in your back pocket for how to spend your days with these little ones.

This was a super fun activity~ hope yours enjoy it as much as mine did!

I knew it would be fun to paint with them, but with the ages of my kiddos {3 & 1}, I am more limited with what supplies we could use.  I thought of shaving cream… but they both still put everything in their mouth that they can.  Then it hit me: whipped cream!

summer painting with kids

You might even have everything already on hand, making this even easier.

These are the supplies I used:

* 2 tubs of generic whipped cream {$1 each}

* baking pans

* whatever kitchen utensils I thought they would have fun using to paint

backyard painting supplies

Our experience followed this slow progression: They both began using the utensils… then began finger-painting… then dipped their hands into the tub and just started eating the whipped cream.  Hah!  That’s the beauty of using edible paint. :)

summer activity for kids

summer outside activity for kids

outside activity idea for kids

have fun out there with your kiddos!

xoxoxo,

Sarah

when god wrote us a new story {part 2}

::: yesterday i wrote on telling your story.  this is our story.  this is what it looked like for us.  Sometimes when God moves, He is obvious, and just maybe this will help you to pay attention and notice his footprints over your world :::

Right now we have been married for 9 years.  We live in Colorado close to both of our families while my husband ran a non-profit Christian organization in our town.

But years 0-6 were spent in the military.  Several of those years we spent with the Ranger Regiment.  Those were very significant, very formative years for us.  Camaraderie, adventure, and growth all in the midst of goodbyes, difficult realities, and war.

We made a very intentional, very well-thought-out, prayed-over, and final decision to get out of the military to begin our family, to get out of the heartache, and get closer to family.

Back in December of 2012 {once Lane was out of the Army and we were settled in civilian Colorado life}, Lane’s Army buddy Dan was getting married at West Point in New York.  Dan was a 3rd Ranger Battalion friend; Lane’s most significant friend while at Battalion for many reasons.  When we had the conversation of whether we travel across the country for his wedding or not, it wasn’t really a conversation: we were going.

The wedding was beautiful: Military ceremony, Dan and his groomsmen were in their dress uniform, the couple exited the chapel through a saber arch, several of Lane’s Battalion buddies were in attendance.

military life

There was a long space between the wedding ceremony and the reception so Lane and I decided to go out to eat to pass the time.

While sitting at the Chinese restaurant right outside of the West Point entrance, I decided to ask Lane a question.  A harmless question, really.  Just one to pass the time and be a conversation starter between the two of us.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic for our military days after all of the pomp of this beautiful ceremony.  Was he?

West Point wedding ceremony
“Lane, do you ever think about going back into the military?”

{We had never talked about going back in, this was just to have something to talk about over lunch.  Because, you see, we did not want to be back in the Army – we lived near our families, we had a family of our own, we did not want to sign up for any more goodbyes. You see, this was not in our plans AT ALL.  It was just a conversation.}

“Well, it’s funny you would ask that.”

And my heart stopped for a quick second.

It turns out that he had been thinking about going back into the military that day.  He did appreciate being back in the military culture and he too was feeling a bit nostalgic for the life and the culture that had been so formative for us and that he did love so deeply.  And over the course of that lunch conversation, we talked about what being back in the military would look like.

He said that the only way he would imagine being back in the military would be as an Army Chaplain.

And the longer we talked, the deeper this sense washed over me.  In the pit of my stomach, in the bottom of my heart, I knew that this very conversation would be a hinge on which the rest of our life turned.  I knew that this would be a conversation that I would remember for a very, very long time.  My gut, my intuition, my discerning heart right then told me to pay attention… big things were happening.

And we chatted for quite awhile about what being a Chaplain might look like.

And it ended there.

We attended the reception, sitting at a table of fellow military people, most of whom we didn’t know.  As the small-talk and get-to-know-you chatting began, they asked Lane his story.  He told them that he was currently out of the Army but was running a Christian ministry in our town.

The young Army veteran sitting next to us asked Lane the question: “Well, have you ever thought about going back in as an Army Chaplain?”

My heart skipped another beat, Lane and I locked eyes, and he said “Well, funny you should ask me that right now… my wife and I were just having a conversation about that very thing.”

The woman, a dear friend of ours, across the table volunteered a friend of hers, a well-known and respected Chaplain that she would get Lane in touch with.

The Iraq veteran next to us grabbed a napkin and wrote down his old Chaplain’s number urging Lane to call; he would show him the way.

The man across the table spoke movingly about how influential his Chaplain had been to him in a difficult time on deployment.

We loved these connections, we swam through military nostalgia with gladness… we still thought it was all just a wonderful coincidence.

We celebrated Dan and his bride, we cheered their first dance, and we left for the home we were staying in for the night.

When we entered our bedroom, Lane grabbed my arm and whispered: “Do you see what I see?”

And there it was, sitting on our bedside table, left there by our hostess for nighttime reading: 1000 Things to Love About Being in the Military.

This, this coincidence, was just funny to us.  Hadn’t we just been taking about being back in the military?  Hadn’t we just been weighing pros and cons?  Even if it was all just still dreaming and remembering what it was like when we were “In,” weren’t we just talking about that?

Weird.

The following day, Sunday, we made the 2-hour drive to New York City for a whirlwind day of sightseeing before catching an early flight Monday morning.

By the end of the day, we were in love with the city.  By the end of the day, we were tired.

But without question we knew that we had to go to Times Square.

It was breath-taking.  The lights.  The people.  The buildings.

And then Lane noticed this neat little amphitheatre seating in the northern triangle of Times Square.  Seating available to people-watch, rest weary legs, look at all of the sights, take in all of the billboards.

We sat, we rested.  And once again, Lane’s breath caught in his throat.

Baby.  LOOK UP.”

And SMACK IN FRONT OF US was a statue.  This statue, this GIANT STATUE that we sat right behind in the middle of Times Square was for an Army Chaplain.  Chaplain Francis Duffy fought in WWI and was the most decorated cleric in the history of the United States Army.

And of all of the places to see in New York City, of all of the benches to sit down on in Times Square… we sat down right next to Chaplain Duffy.

Times Square Chaplain Duffy

By this time Lane and I were starting to get a little weirded out.

Things kept happening.

Was this just one of those weird cases of coincidence?  When something is on your mind, you just tend to notice it more as things play out in normal fashion in your world?

But we had this sense… this feeling… something bigger was going on.

We returned home from our trip and the following day Lane went to a YL Staff Regional meeting and someone led a devotion on Mary.  This devotional focused on the fact that she was being asked to do something difficult.  Holy disorientation is what he called it.  The question the staff were left with: What is the Lord preparing in me?

We felt this holy disorientation.  We asked ourselves that same question: was the Lord preparing something in us?

We began to pay attention to the things that were stirring in our hearts.

And Lane began to reach out to people he knew and loved and trusted.

He made a phone call to his former Ranger Battalion Chaplain, just a simple phone call to get a Chaplain’s perspective on this military life.  Chaplain Kramer affirmed Lane with what he saw in him when they served in the same unit together on deployments.

And then he laughed and said: “There might not be a better person in the Army to ask your questions.  I am working at the Pentagon as the Accessions Officer for all Chaplain candidates in the U.S. Army.”

By this time, by this coincidence, we knew this was something that we needed to pay attention to.  We needed to listen.  There was something bigger going on.  It was bigger than just a strong bout of nostalgia after being back in the military community for Dan’s wedding.  It was bigger than us trying to write our own story.  It was bigger.

And so we decided that we each needed a day away to think, to pray, to journal, to process.  We examined the possibilities of a life in the military with a family.  A life as a Chaplain and a family.  The pros and the cons.  The meaning of calling.  Holy disorientation.  What to do when God just really seems to be trying to get your attention.  What to do when we feel like we are so clearly being led back into a life that we would not have written for ourselves.

And then, towards the end of my time that day, I drove out to a scenic overlook and gazed upon our beloved Colorado mountains.  I asked God what in the WORLD He was doing.  I asked Him what in the world He wanted us to do…

And clear as day, I heard it.

Go back in as a Chaplain.

Not audible, but in the pit of my soul. I heard it clearly as I have heard anything in my life.  My stomach dropped, my throat caught, tears hit my eyes, my hands clasped.

I heard it.

Go back in as a Chaplain.

walking into a new story for your life

Lane and I went out to dinner that night, and just because I like life to be one giant game, we weren’t allowed to simply talk about what we processed that day.  I handed each of us a piece of paper and a pen and we could write one of two things describing what we heard that day: Chaplain or stay in Greeley.

We both wrote, looked up and smiled as we caught eyes.

On the count of three! we turned our pieces of paper over.

They both said it.

Chaplain.

And so we go.  And we have peace.  And we are excited.

A new chapter to our story begins right here.

 :::

xoxoxo

Sarah

on paying attention to the story of our life

You know when you keep hearing the same thing over and over… and over?  And it’s from unrelated events and distant people and certain places that aren’t connected?  And you just have this sense that by the third or fourth time of hearing it that you might need to start paying attention?

I think that I need to start paying attention.

This concept of :story: has been bouncing around all corners of my world and I am taking notice.  We all have a story to tell… what is that story?  This word remember is bouncing around my head and my heart.  Remember that story… remember… tell that story.

Prompting questions from different places: What have I seen done in my life?  What are the events and people and places that have made me who I am?  What is this story that you have been living and what makes it significant?

It’s all-too-easy to hear this concept of telling your story, writing your story, and feel like you maybe haven’t had anything glamorous or sexy or adventurous or miraculous happen to you, and your story might not be as valuable as another’s.  Or maybe your story has been a hard road, and you don’t like to re-live that story.

But I assure you: whatever your story is, tell it.  There is significance in naming things, whether they be good or bad, miraculous or mundane.  There is value in remembering and writing it down.  Put a name to it, recognize it as part of your story.

Because we all have a story to tell.

what story do you want your life to tell

Sometimes remembering is difficult, sometimes remembering stings, sometimes remembering feels mundane.

But sometimes, sometimes remembering gives strength.  Sometimes speaking your story breathes encouragement.

See, when you tell your story, you just might be able to give strength to another.  You say: If I can do it… then you can do it too.  

When you tell your story, whatever it is that your life has been about, you lay down the process and the purpose and the power of things being worked out.  Because that’s what God does: he holds things together and he works them out.

I’m an Old Testament girl.  Yes, Jesus was the best.  But my heart beats for the Old Testament.  Over and over and over God commands the Israelites Remember that I am the Lord your God.  I brought you up out of Egypt.  Remember, remember, remember.

Because when they forgot, they wandered.

Write it on the door frames of your houses.  Tie tassels around your waist and hang it from your head.  Speak of this to your children.  Remember.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.

write down the story of your life

The other night we told our story to some dear friends.  And sometimes when we tell this particular story of ours, it goes like this: “God got crazy, and obvious, and we knew we had to go back into the military, so here we go.”

But this time, this time that we told our story, it felt different.  They wanted to hear it all, every ounce and every detail.  And so we started from the very beginning, hitting all of the corners and turns along the way.  And two things happened: One, our friends were encouraged.  They said that they felt like their faith was strengthened by watching how we are stepping into some big things right now and they now feel like they can maybe step into big things too. {NOT because we’re great.  because we’re not.  we are NOT great.}  But the second thing that happened was this: WE were encouraged.  We’re in a state of transition… for the next 18 months.  We’re stepping into some big things.  Hearts and heads are dealing with a lot right now, and it is easy easy easy to get doubtful and bitter and stubborn.

It has been more than just once that I have said to Lane “We heard correctly… right?  We’re doing the right and good and best thing… right?”

So it is not small fact that we were encouraged.  When we told our story, we realized that big things have happened, God has moved, we heard correctly.

I brought you up out of Egypt.  Remember.

And so tomorrow, I am going to write down our story here.  I am going to write down how God got obvious, and crazy, and started to move.  So, if you want to know the whole story, please my friend, check back tomorrow.

But if not, I leave you with this: tell your story.  Write it down, talk about it with your nearest and dearest; you just might get a glimpse of Jesus in it.

xoxoxo

sarah

and so i held my baby

She fell asleep in my arms today. My littlest, my baby. Her head resting in the crook of my elbow, her 15-month-old legs dangling across my thighs. Her pink blankie tucked all around her face, just the way she likes. She fell asleep in my arms, just so.

She never really was a baby to do that. Even in her tiny days- the ones where they are just a ball of love and fit so perfectly on your chest- even in those days, she wasn’t one to be so snuggly and enjoy the perfect fit. I mourned that a little. Well, I mourned that a lot. She was just a baby who fell asleep best without me, rather than with me, so I made my peace with it and let her fall asleep the way she needed, to discover the world the way she needed… rather than the way I needed her to need.

my happy baby

She has always been a handful of joy. A feisty rascal of love. And so today when it took her some time to fall asleep for her nap, it was nothing out of the norm. Her older sister was asleep too; I wanted my silence and work out time. So I began my P90x, and still she cried. I went up to rub her back, and then ran back down, trying to keep my heart rate up. Still she cried. A little longer than usual, by now.

And I went back to her room. She raised her arms and I picked her up. Immediately, she put her head on my chest. Immediately her breathing slowed.

All she wanted was her mommy. All she needed was me.

And so I put aside my silent house, I said goodbye to my workout goals.

I held my baby.

I watched her eyes get heavy. She clasped her hand around my one finger, as if to say Don’t You Even Think About Leaving. I watched her whole entire torso rise and fall with her breath… slower… slower still.

I noticed her perfect, perfect, kissable lips. I looked at her ten tiny fingers and her ten tiny toes.

And then she started snoring. The adorable exhausted-deep-slumber-baby kind of snore.

And I held on to her. She fell asleep on me, after all. A handful of times I can remember this certain child of mine doing that. And now her world is expanding even more, now she is curious and busy and she doesn’t sit still on my lap too often.

And so I felt her weight. I ran my fingers through her hair. I held my baby and did not rush.

I don’t always make that decision. But for this moment, this was the absolute very best decision.

we limped across the finish line

Lane was gone this last week- a full eight days.  We made it to the end, but barely.

And the thing is, really, truly, we had a good week- I could even say a great week.  I genuinely, absolutely, and completely ADORE my babies, every inch and every ounce of them.

little girls playing outside

But. Y’ALL.

We had some high highs and some low lows.

All of our transition has thrown my girls off in their own ways.  Brennan has totally regressed in potty training, almost having more accidents than she did when she was first learning.  Frustrating- for both of us.  And Ellie has again struggled with sleep- when she has never been an awesome sleeper to begin with.  Our mornings have started earlier and earlier… this morning it was 5:10… and she will not go back to sleep.  She will scream.  Believe me, friends, I have tried every trick in the book with that baby’s sleep.  She just gets thrown off so very easily.

And so I was a little thrown off this week.  With the potty problems and the sleep and the husband gone this week, I was a little thrown off.

And so yesterday, our final day without my reinforcement, FOR THE LOVE, I just wanted to take a shower.  I could feel frustration rising in my heart… you know that mama-feeling?  When you are just DONE.  You are tired, you are weary, you would love to just have a single minute to yourself.  Hot showers are where I retreat when I need an escape… couldn’t I just jump in for a single minute and get a breath while they play in the playroom?  I could come back refreshed and ready to love on these precious and perfect and demanding and high-maintenance girls.

My retreat was met with screams and pleas, so my refreshing shower of one was turned into a crammed shower of three.  Ellie hated every second of it: she didn’t want to get out, she didn’t want to splash, she didn’t want to be held.  She just wanted to scream.

In the shower.  Where it echoed.

I was already in a NOT healthy emotional place to handle the screaming.  I snapped.  Ellie, seriously STOP CRYING.

{Word to the wise: DO NOT TRY TO SHAVE YOUR LEGS when you are frustrated.  Absolutely, never ever try to shave that oh-so-tricky area around your Achilles and ankle when you are doing everything you can to not yell at your 15-month-old BABY in aggravation.  If you do, you just might accidentally channel all of your anger into your razor blade and take a slice out of your leg and have the blood and the scar and the pain to be a reminder of how very UNPERFECT you are.}

I cried.  Ellie kept crying.  Brennan cried when she saw my wound.

We toweled off, we got dressed.  By this point, I just needed a win for the day.  Anything.  A victory; an accomplishment.  Something tangible that I could point to and say: See?  See that?  This day was not a total loss… I put away the dishes, after all.  

It was just not happening.  The girls both needed me in some form.  I needed a victory… but they needed me.

girls playing in the backyard

To help get my mind in the right place, I tried putting on some worship music.

It didn’t work- somehow, that annoyed me even more.

Ellie kept crying, hands raised and patting my legs… pick me up, pick me up, pick me up.

And then, I took a deep breath.  I put down the soap and took a step back.  I went to my iPod, turned the volume up to full blast and turned on Katy Perry’s Roar.

I picked Ellie up and grabbed Brennan’s hand and right there in the kitchen I started spinning my girls.

We had a dance party.  We twirled and we twisted.  I didn’t want to at first, but I figured that my heart would follow if my body just took the first step.  So we spun and we swirled.  The girls giggled and I felt my heart soften.  There was something about dancing.  Something about throwing my hands up, letting go of my to-do list for a moment and looking at these girls, this moment, and seeing our entire day through a new lens: They’re actually not out to get me.  Their intent is not to sabotage my day.  They’re just babies.  They just want their mama.  All they want and need, actually, is a little bit of fun.

And so we danced.  Suddenly, those dishes in the sink weren’t as important as I thought they were.  Suddenly, the success of our day didn’t hinge on whether I vacuumed or not.

Just look at these babies.  Go.  Be with them.

So we turned Katy Perry up a little louder.  We danced a little harder.  We got out a pint of ice cream.  And our day turned around.

Next time you’re DONE and about to burst… take heart, weary mama.  I’ve been there too, and I’ve handled it about as poorly as a mama can handle it.  But these babies are oh-so-forgiving.  They love you oh-so-much.  So just go turn up some music, grab their hand, and start to dance.

It just might turn your day around.

Easy lunch idea

Lunch is all about convenience.  What leftovers are in the fridge?  What is easy and quick to throw together?  Especially in the summer I don’t want to have to cook and I want light and yummy.  One of my very favorite friends introduced me to this delicious sandwich {does it have to have bread to qualify as a sandwich?  no?}  and it has become one of my go to lunches.  Easy ingredients to have on hand.  Easy to throw together.

Delicious.

easy paleo lunch idea

 

 

Ingredients

::: butter lettuce

::: avocado

::: some sort of sandwich meat {Applegate Farms has a delicious salami that I love and gives a lot of flavor}

::: sliced apple {might sound weird to you.  it did to me.  but do it.  it gives a delicious, fresh flavor and incredible crunch}

::: {optional: sharp cheddar cheese}

–> Layer ingredients like you would a sandwich.

–> AMAZING!  Enjoy this!!!

on being married nine years

We were married on June 3, 2005.  And so for this wedding anniversary Lane planned a surprise getaway for us, coordinating the care of the toddlers, not telling me an inch of the fun though he was bursting at the seams.  He wins all of the points for all time for planning what he did.

He took us back to downtown Colorado Springs. To the city where we got married, to the hotel where we had our reception and spent our first night as husband and wife.  We walked the same spaces over which my white dress and my satin high heels strolled nine years ago.  We walked the streets and the halls in which we celebrated and we danced and we partied, our hands wearing the same rings they did that day, now having seen so much more life than they had that first Friday evening when we put them on.  We had SUCH a fantastic time.

marriage lessons

We talked about this marriage of ours thus far over a 3-hour dinner. From where we sit, this is what we have learned.

::: thoughts on being married for 9 years :::

* make memories together. It can be all too easy to get lured into the magnetic pull of your own sphere of influence and stay right there.  Make an effort to engage in life together.  Plan a day of adventure together, take a Saturday morning bike ride to breakfast, pour a drink and go on a walk around your neighborhood.  Sometimes do their favorite thing rather than your own.  Put down your to-do list and remember what it’s like to laugh with each other.  Have fun, be silly, find an activity you both enjoy.  We love the outdoors so we go on hikes, we go on walks, we climb mountains, and we sit in our front yard in the evenings with a glass of wine and watch the kids play.  It can be big or small, extravagant or simple, but we develop traditions and we make memories.

* it is one… but also it is two. You don’t have to fall so completely into your spouse when you get married that you lose yourself.  Dream big dreams, pursue your passions, have big goals and hopes and plans for your life.  I just ran in a 10k, a goal I set for myself, a challenge I wanted to take on.  Lane wasn’t interested in the actual race, but he made sure to train with me and spur me on when I didn’t want to go any further.  Voice these goals and these dreams to your spouse.  Become each other’s biggest cheerleader, celebrating successes and spurring the other on when the path gets difficult.  You are part of a bigger story that God is writing for your life and you are part of a bigger story of interacting with this world.  Marriage will refine you, marriage will teach you, marriage will train you.  Use this to step into the world and step into other people’s lives.  Use this home base of safety and comfort to be love and to spread love and to show love.

tips for a healthy marriage

* be okay with the fact that sometimes marriage is challenging. When two people who aren’t perfect live together, there are inherently going to be imperfections.  That is okay and that is normal.  Marriage combines two very different people with very different family systems and childhoods and experiences and emotions.  There are going to be moments or seasons of marriage where that conflicts.  Not all bumps in the road are grounds for getting out.  Sometimes, the late-night talks, the tension in the conversations, the dedication to working it out is worth it.  Sometimes, going through something difficult together can actually be a process of becoming closer.  Sometimes, digging deep and leaning in can be a method of growth and refinement and experiencing grace.  Yes, marriage is fun, but yes it can absolutely be hard.  That does not mean that it will fall apart.  Stick with it.

* learn how to communicate well. This has been a central and consistent value in our marriage.  Communication actually is key.  This does not come naturally, this is something that we have to work on.  Authentic, transparent, honest.  Yes, sometimes it can be difficult to take that breath and share what you have to share, but we believe in getting everything on the table.  We believe in talking things through, whether it involves differences in dishwashing tactics or differences in life dreams.  We cling to authenticity above perfection.  Easy to say, hard to do.  But do it.  It will breathe intimacy and closeness.  It will bind your heart together and it will develop selfless love, patience, and grace.

* marriage is fun. This is life plus best friend.  This is good.  It is not the ol’ ball and chain, it’s not a life-sentence.  It’s an adventure-filled, late-night talk when you need, coffee-drinking, party-hosting, experiencing new things, cheering-the-other-on, supporting-dreams, raise tiny-humans kind of fun.  It is full.  It is good.

making marriage fun

* it’s not always going to be sexy. When you dive into marriage, you dive into life with somebody else.  Your true colors are going to come out eventually: How strong are you when you get sick? Are you actually really picky about how the bed is made? When you put the dishes away, do you put the glasses facing up or facing down? Do you have a certain routine that you love to spend your Saturday mornings doing?  The beauty of marriage is that it involves every ounce of you and every ounce of them and every facet of life together; you truly become one.  The difficulty of marriage is that it involves every ounce of you and every ounce of them and every facet of life.  The sweet spot is where the two of you learn to navigate those seemingly simple and mundane aspects of life together and make your own family systems and your own routines.  A lot of figuring it all out, a lot of conversations, a lot of embracing real life.

* voice appreciation and encouragement. When you think that positive and encouraging and funny thing about them?  Say it.  When they did something well?  Say it.  When you’re having fun with them?  Say it.  Let your ratio of positive affirmation outweigh criticism.  Be an example to your kids and/or to others of what love and grace and delight looks like when it is lived out.

what we've learned in marriage

* the two of you are going to change. The man that I married is not the man that I am married to now.  We were 22 years old when we said I do.  We have lived a lot of life together since then.  We have moved across the country multiple times developing new friendships and new lives, he went to war three times, I had a teaching career, we now navigate parenthood.  We have lived a lot of life in our nine years.  We have changed.  Being able to recognize and embrace our experiences and how they have developed and grown us without resenting or wishing for what we used to have has opened us up to grow together rather than apart.

* connect at the foundations. Everything is spiritual.  Increase your awareness of the work of God in your life and in your world and talk about it together.  Get involved in your community.  Go to church together and then talk about what connected with you.  Talk about ways you want to be better.  Brainstorm ways you can step into this world more fully and what it might look like to partner with God in bringing more justice more compassion more transformation…together.  When you connect at the core of your being and at the most foundational levels of your heart, your connection on every other level deepens as well.  The love of God, the grace of God, the pull of God into something bigger and deeper and more full will fill in the cracks of life.  You will begin to see the shadows of hope and the whispers of love and the purpose of partnership overflow into every corner of your world.

* love is a choice. We don’t feel in love every single day.  I am not easy to love every single day.  There have been seasons in our marriage when we have had to choose to love the other because we weren’t necessarily feeling the butterflies-in-the-stomach-I-want-to-spend-every-second-with-you kind of love and we might have gotten out if we could have.  Sometimes it is just plain hard.  But even then… especially then, it is worth it to choose love.  Lean in, remember that love is a choice.  If navigated well, those difficult seasons have the potential to draw you closer rather than drive you apart.  Choose love.

* the best is yet to come. I am more in love with this man today than I am the day that I married him.  We still laugh together, we still enjoy each other’s company, we still love to kiss, we still have things to talk about, we’re still growing.  We haven’t reached a peak, and I’m not convinced that there is one out there.  It keeps getting better the closer we get to each other, the more comfortable we get in our own skin and the more comfortable we get in our marital identity.  As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”  We are raising our family, taking leaps of faith, holding each other up so that they can see their dreams more completely.  This daring adventure, this sacrificial and others-first and patient and grace-saturated and full-of-fun journey is only just beginning.  We’re nine years in, but we’ve got a whole lot of life ahead of us.

a blessing amidst the moving {free printable}

Y’ALL.  goodnight nurse, moving is just the CRAZIEST.

We’re merging into a life where moving will become a norm, much of which is actually enticing to Lane and I, rather than terrifying.  We’re kind of all about adventure and new experiences.  We fully LIVE where we are- we find the best local restaurants, we discover our favorite outings and settings and secrets of the city, we dig deep and lean in to new friendships.  We really do LOVE being present in our city and are super excited to live in places which we otherwise wouldn’t have an opportunity to live.  With that, we are excited to discover new cities, make new memories, find meaningful friendships, eat local cuisine, everything {OF COURSE, while sitting in the deep sadness that goodbyes to loved ones bring… life is all about sitting in some difficult tensions, yes?}.

But also with that, comes boxes upon boxes upon boxes.

ayiyiyi.  I feel like this move was a good “practice” move for me.  This was my chance to shine on JV before coach moved me up to Varsity.  I learned a lot of best practices in moving and what absolutely not to do {DO NOT LOSE TRACK OF BOTH OF YOUR CHILDREN’S LOVIES ON MOVING DAY… it will only leave you scrambling, tearing apart boxes at 8pm while their poor hearts have already dealt with enough transition for one day and FOR THE LOVE, all they want is their puppy}.

I’m working on some neat new projects for this sweet blog of mine.  But tonight, as Lane is across the room from me working on some final seminary papers, I just needed a little creative outlet.  A quick little thing I doodled out, that I wanted to pass on to y’all.

A sweet reminder and a sweet blessing.  In the face of whatever busyness life is throwing your way, take comfort in the peace that is spoken over us in these words.  A breath of fresh air for our weary souls.

free printable numbers blessing

::: click here for this numbers blessing free printable :::

 

Click on the link, download the pdf, and print it off in whatever beautiful way you imagine.  Might look neat modpodged onto a wood block and hung on a wall?  Maybe in a print in a baby’s nursery?

take care, my friends.

xoxoxo

sarah