i think i’m going to be brave today

Right around the time she turned 23 months old, my Brennan developed a healthy fear of elevators.  Maybe it was the enclosed spaces, maybe it was the feeling of weightlessness that occurs right as you reach your floor, maybe it was that one of the first times she was ever required to ride one was when my mom brought her up to the 5th floor of the hospital where, in the maternity ward, her Daddy and I eagerly waited with her newborn baby sister, ready to introduce the sure-to-be best friends.  A little too much of a world-rocking event projected into the closing of the elevator doors, perhaps?

Either way, from that moment forward, the closing of the doors was met with screams of terror.  When there wasn’t screaming, there was clawing up our legs, lifting high off the ground until she was safely in our arms.  Ellie in one arm, Brennan in the other, myself feeling like SuperMom with biceps of steel carrying my two girls while navigating the changing balance of an elevator.

A little after she changed from simply three years old to the oh-so-noteworthy Three-And-A-Half, once again we were riding in an elevator, and once again the fear struck.  Now, with her baby sister requiring more of my strength and effort, the happy compromise that we had reached in our Conquering Of The Elevator was for me to hold Ellie on my hip and Brennan to stand on my feet, clinging to my waist with her hands.  I heard her take her Deep Breaths that we use when we need to see things more clearly, but still she clung.

And then…

Mama?

Yes, Baby?

I think I’m going to be brave today.

And just as sure as she made her declaration, she hopped off of my feet and rode that elevator with all the Brave she could assemble.

The Brave gathered around her, building the fortress, calling in the reinforcements.  I could see their strength rise.

She even did a happy dance when we exited the elevator, celebrating her Brave that was now coursing through her veins.

“Mama?” she had said, “I think I’m going to be brave today.”

brave today

What if we, too, declare I think I’m going to be brave today.

It doesn’t have to be: Brave for All The Things, or Brave for the entire week, or Brave until our kids graduate high school.

It is just I think I’m going to be brave today.

And then be brave today.
And then be brave tomorrow.
And then be brave for tomorrow’s tomorrow.

What is it that you need to be brave about today?

Have you been dreaming of taking a leap of faith?
Do you want to apply to that job?
Do you long to submit that project?
Was it simply waking up this morning that summoned all of your Brave?
Do you need to have a Hard Conversation?
Do you want to follow the stirring in your heart to Start Something New?

What stirs your soul?  What, in the heart of your hearts, sings the loudest in the quiet?  What is it that makes your heart sing?

Find that and you will tap into a deep well that will spring forth hope and purpose and joy.

Even if that thing requires a bit of brave.  Even if that thing requires a bit of a leap of faith.

So go.

Do That Thing that stirs your soul.

Go Be brave.

Take a note from my Brennan girl and declare I think I’m going to be brave today.  You even have my permission to do a happy dance afterwards.

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making marriage a priority

Today is the day I send him to war.

We didn’t set an alarm that morning.  He didn’t need to be at his office until four in the afternoon, so in honor of the heaviness of that day, we allowed ourselves to rest and let our bodies naturally wake us up.  We had fallen asleep the night before wrapped up in each other and as I awoke, I immediately kicked my leg over to the other side of the bed to make sure that my nightmare had not already started.

He’s still there.

My stomach felt uneasy, my pulse quickening with each passing moment, but I could not get out of our bed.  It was the last morning we had together.  So I nestled up into him and breathed his scent in deeply.

Today I send him to war.

I fought back the thoughts threatening to overtake me.  I will have plenty of time to miss him.  In this moment, be present and soak up every second you have left.

Fast-forward two years of goodbyes unending and fear constantly threatening:

All of the tension, disappointment, and hurt that had been sitting on the back burner came roaring to the forefront.  Our words in the car migrated from polite to accusatory:

Why didn’t you tell me this?
How could you think it was okay to…?
You always act like you’re better than me.
It’s always my fault. I’m never going to be good enough for you.
You have to leave again?

Through the tension in the car, I uttered the most hurtful thing that I have ever said to Lane: “I can understand why women whose husbands are in the Army cheat on their husbands.”

Would I ever, ever, ever cheat on Lane?  NO.  Ever.  It was more a statement that resonates with the loneliness that results from frequently being left behind, the lack of communication between spouses, and the desire to fill that void elsewhere.  I would never do it… but I understand it.

Fast-forward once again to now {nearly} 10 years of marriage, two babies, 12 {yes, TWELVE} moves, and a heap of big conversations and fun memories.

fighting for your marriage

When I tell you that we have seen our share of life together, we have.  When I tell you that we have been through the ringer together, we have.  When I tell you we have learned so, so much and are still learning so, so much… that is true too.

But fought-for love is sometimes the very best kind of love.  Intentional, taken-seriously, silly love that oozes grace and transparency and joy is sometimes a battle won.

Because really, we all just want to be loved.

fighting for your marriage

How easy it is for months {and months…} to pass before we realize that we are due for time together.  How easy it is for us to skip a date to save money.  Really, easier than you think, you can wander into Really Good Roommate territory.

What if we still treated our marriages the way we did when we were dating?  What if we still pursued each other with the tenacity that we felt before we said I do?  What would marriage look like then?  

What if we still courted, long after the guests had left and the flowers were taken down.  What if we still dated in the first year of marriage as well as in the 48th.

What if that is how we make our marriage a priority.  To still treat it with the love and care and intentionality that we did in those very first days.

When home is healthy and good, the rest of the pieces to the puzzle fall together with a bit more ease.  When you have fought for this so very important relationship and those curveballs of life come blaring into your world, they are so much more hittable when you’re swinging from a united front.

Be silly together.
Surprise them with a special dinner at home for no reason at all.
Write them notes and leave them in the car before work.
Go on a walk.
Find a surprise present.
Keep a gratitude journal about them.
Ask them questions about their day.
Kiss them before you kiss the kids when you walk inside from work.
Don’t turn on the tv until you’ve asked how their day was.
Don’t turn on the tv at all and play games together instead.
Go to an ice cream shop.
Reminisce on what it was like before you were married.

We’re getting ready to go on a trip just the two of us, minus the babies.  I am in a constant tug-of-war about wanting to go on such an amazing vacation with Lane and the guilt over leaving my children.  I will miss them dearly.  BUT, I know that paying attention to the Wife will make me a better Mama.  I know that for Lane and I to have a loving, committed, good, and fun relationship together will speak safe and love over our children.  We’re making it count.

It is worth it.

So today- go on… ask your spouse out on a date. ;)

beautiful

{click here to download the –how beautiful– free printable} {4×6}

{day 5 of our {hello}world challenge.  click here to see all the posts & freebies}

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day 4: rhythms and routines and organizing it all

{on day 4 of {hello}world.  click here to see all of the posts so far on the {hello}world page}

Now we are officially into the school year.  The slow, yet chaotic, pace of summer has settled into the rhythm and routine of school days and structured schedules.

This determined flow of our days adds {sometimes} craved structure and {possible} routine to our minutes.

Because structure is good, because organization is good, because routine is good, this is where we sit today.

My minutes get away from me all too easily.  My tendency is to free-spirit it through the week and learn/do/act as I go.

But people need to be fed, groceries need to be bought, homes need to be cared for.

weekly planner

And so with the newness and fresh start that September rolls in with the crisp air, I take advantage of the familiar habits it calls me into.

Along with the unforced rhythms of life, I need routines.  And I need to be organized in it all.

I have developed some items that I use to help me fall into those habits and create the space and rhythms and the routines to make life work.

Because sometimes, digging into our days is about embracing the moment, going on adventures, and playing.

But also, equally importantly, leaning into these days is about navigation.  It’s about where to go, what to feed when, it’s about remembering someone needs to get picked up or sending that birthday present in the mail, it’s about what needs cleaning and what needs folding.  Leaning in to our days and embracing moments is a bit easier when we don’t feel completely overwhelmed and swamped with life.

birthday calendar

Here’s to less overwhelmed, more control.  Less in-over-our-heads, more rhythm to our weeks.

{click here to download the weekly planner printable}

{click here to download the birthday calendar printable}

day 3: how playing with our girl changed our family

{for a glimpse into what this September challenge is about, click here}

For 30 minutes a day, my Brennan girl is the leader.  She is the queen, she is the ruler, she holds the power.

For a certain amount of time each day, we play.  This time is unplugged, mama’s not scrolling through her phone, the computer is closed, there is no recording of groceries needed that week, no folding laundry and multi-tasking.

There is only focused, unplugged, unstructured play.

It is fascinating to watch.  My girl transforms.  She has my entire, complete, absolute undivided attention and she senses it.  She knows the difference between this time and the rest of the moments in our entire day and she works it.

It gives her a foothold on which to stand.  She flourishes before my eyes.  Suddenly, she is empowered; suddenly, her love tank is full.

She guides us to her castle {which she designed and I built out of sheets, pillows, and chairs}, and only responds to Queen Brennan.  She does my hair, she tells me we need to toss the ball, we move to the art table and color, we change Barbie’s outfit, we then need to read a book, we ride her scooter outside.  She leads me back downstairs, back to her castle, and she prepares a snack for me- dominos assembled on a miniature Minnie plate.

And though this kind of play was specifically designed because of some difficulties we were having, any child could feel love and affection and empowerment through it.

playing with your children

And really, this season that we went through with her this summer broke my heart.  Gosh, the tears I shed over our girl.  We had lost her for a little bit.  But friends, PLAY brought her back to us.  We PLAYED with her, we fought for her heart, and we got her back.

Oh, the wonder of play.  Oh, the magic of an undivided heart.  Oh, the gift of laughter.

: For 15 minutes, have a tickle fight
: Dump out the legos and have a tower building competition
: Break out the crayons, the paint, and the colored pencils and have craft time- together
: Take all of the pillows off of the couches and jump onto them
: Take whipped cream and “paint”
: Play hide and go seek, narrating every move and exaggerating how difficult it is to find them
Toddler play {click link for ideas!}
: Play their favorite board game- Memory, Candy Land, Zingo- whatever it is that they love, play it
: Turn on the music and have a dance party
: Go outside and make mud pies
: Throw a ball and play fetch… with your kid. It’s hilarious how much they love this
: Turn bowls into a drum set and let them bang away

If we’re honest with ourselves, we would maybe rather be doing something other than uninterrupted, undivided, unswerving play.  Maybe we’d rather be napping, or reading, or running, or writing, or being productive in some form.  I completely get that.  But really, truly, this is productive time.  Really, this speaks so much special over your child, you will see the markings of a child who feels heard and valued, a child well loved.

playing with your children

Put down the vacuum, put down the phone, put down the to-do list.  We are raising tiny humans.  They don’t get in the way of what we need to accomplish that day.  As opposed to how some days feel, they actually are not out to get us and thwart all of our plans.  They simply crave attention, they simply need love.

So let’s carve out time for our kiddos.  Yes you can set the timer, and no it doesn’t have to be that long.  But I assure you, it will fill them with love.  I assure you, it will help you lean in to your days and your world and your family and be in the moment.  I assure you, it will speak to their heart.

I’m getting to know my kids in such a deeper way by sitting and playing, listening and laughing.  And surprise of surprises, I even have a little bit of fun.

For an incredible article on playing with children, read this:
Playing with Your Child: Games for Connection and Emotional Intelligence

And because I love you guys just so darn much, here is your printable for the day!

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 9.09.37 PM

{click right here to print off this pdf!} {it’s a 4×4}

enjoy, my friends.

and, if you want to stay up with us and get updates delivered to your inbox, just fill in the form below!
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day 2: greet your morning

{day 2 of our {hello}world challenge.  for the intro click here, or for day 1, click here}

If I am to hold tightly to my days, if I am actually going to Do. This Thing. then I need to have a healthy rhythm to my days.  I need to be operating from a place of wholeness, a place of peace.

All too easily the schedule fills up, the to-do list trumps all, and we run from item to item, from event to event.

But that just leads to burnout.  That just leads to weary.

Some of this challenge is about adventure and fun and living daringly.  But really, a significant element to {hello}world is operating from a place of wholeness and health so that we can live a full life.

What does it mean to restore?  How do we actually get to that place of wholeness?

Here’s what I want you to do: fight with every ounce of your being that today’s challenge might not be One More Thing on your to-do list.  Resist the urge to dismiss this out of impracticality.

Today, my friends, is life-giving.  Today just might become your very favorite part of {hello}world because of how much it restores you.

Here is the goal: greet your morning.

greet your morning

For one single week, I challenge you to wake up early.  You pick the time, as the rhythms of your house dictate, but wake up before the rest of your crew.

Something significant happens in those early hours, where the earth is still sleepy, the house is still quiet, nature is waking up.  Those early hours where the sun hasn’t quite risen, the day has just begun.  Wake up during those hours.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit down with your bible, grab a journal and notebook.  Or maybe put on work-out clothes and start your day with movement.  Do something that is life-giving to you.

And start your day on your own terms, start your day with peace.

rise pic

This is about you.  This is not about perfection, it’s not about competition, it’s not about doing it “the right way.”  AND, let’s note: {There is ABSOLUTE grace here if your season of life deems this utterly impossible and exhausting… the heart is really to have open space for yourself, however that looks in your world right now.}

This is about restoration.  Daily.

This is about rejuvenation.  Healing.

This is about creating space for our own hearts in our oh-so-busy lives.

This is about being proactive in our world, not reacting to the crazy that inevitably takes over mornings.

When I wake up when the earth is still sleepy and my house is still quiet, my days seem to go much more smoothly.  Not easier, not perfectly, but more smoothly.  I start the day whole, rather than pieced together from the rattling of baby monitors, half-drank coffee, and thrown on sweat pants.

There is an element of control that I regain.  There is an element of peace that sweeps over my heart.  There is an element of wholeness that is able to flow from me into my home.

I am able to practice grace and gratitude.

I practice sitting in the quiet spaces.

I listen.

I read Jesus Calling.  Or my Celtic Daily Prayer book.

or.

I sit.

I play some of my favorite worship songs, like this one.

and this one.

or this one.

or this one.

And because there is no formula to greeting our mornings, I think about what I need to accomplish that day, I think about what we’re eating for dinner, I think about who I need to call, I get breakfast ready. {on Day 4 of {hello}world I have some fantastic organization tools for you to use… stay tuned.}

And then I hear them slowly and sleepily wake up and rise the house.

And it is okay.  Because I have already greeted my morning.  I have thought through the day and gotten organized.  I have had the quiet and the space and the time and the love for myself so that I feel whole and ready to pour into those that need it.

It is life-giving.  It is restoring.  It is energizing.

You just might love it enough to make it a habit.

But try it for one single week.

Just test me and see if it helps you tackle your days and take on your world.  I so hope it does.

Today’s printable is an open-ended one.  Fill it in with that day’s to-do list.  Write in a verse and tape it on your bathroom mirror.  Write out a note to your kids.  Use it as a meal planner.  Free write.  Doodle in the quiet.  Let it be for you to determine how you use it in your beautiful quiet place.

rise pdf pic

{CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR -FREE- RISE PRINTABLE} {4×6}

{it’s not too late to join in with us for this September challenge… to get our {hello}world challenge & my set of 10 verse cards delivered to your inbox, just sign up below}

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xoxoxo
~Sarah

day 1: break out of the typical and go on an adventure

{We’re going through a series called {hello}world in which we explore ways to pay attention and act on our moments.  For the introduction to what this is all about click here}

What would happen if a day begins the way all days begin… You roll out of bed, they roll out of bed, you pour the cereal, pour your coffee.

What if this day begins like all of the rest… but then what if it changes?

What would happen if what they expected… transformed?

See, there is this thing about new that breaths life into a relationship, into a day, into a season.

Getting out of the typical, sparking creativity, being open to an unplanned schedule can do wonders to a spirit.  I even just read an article that stated research is showing that experiences tend to make people happier than material possessions. 

We had been in one of our zones.  A comfortable zone.  A trend in which most of our days looked the same, me not being willing to sacrifice the predictability we had conveniently fallen into.

But I wanted something new.  I wanted to step out of comfort.  I wanted to give the girls fun.  I wanted to give them adventure.  Granted, “adventure” to a 1 and a 3 year old is much different than for say, a 5 and a 7 year old… but the heart of adventure stays the same.  It’s an extraordinary experience.  It’s something bold.  It’s something when you don’t know the outcome.

And going on adventures is just plain fun.

go on an adventure

We talk about going on adventures constantly in our home.  We talk about being brave in our home, willing to embrace imagination and creativity, and stepping into life even when it might be a bit uncertain.  We want our kids to be able to handle the unknown as well as the known.  We want our kids to know they are brave, they are powerful, they are loved.

So this day of ours, we woke up, made pancakes, drank coffee.

And then, at just the right moment, we told our Brennan girl to get changed: We’re going on an adventure today!

Immediately, her eyes lit up: We are?!?

So we packed a picnic lunch, donned our adventure clothes, and set off in the car with no clear directions of where we were going- only open time, giddy hearts, and willing bodies.  We ended up at a favorite mountain park, comparing twisty slides to tall & straight slides, competing in skipping competitions through the field, hiking up to a lake and conducting rock throwing contests in the water.  Then we sat down and as the girls dug through the dirt with one hand, they ate their lunch with the other.

What a good, good day.

go on an adventure

Something happens when we give an entire day, or a half a day, or an hour to unstructured time.  When we allow our imagination to dictate what happens next, jumping from fun to brave to boredom to creativity.

Something inside of us comes alive in a way different than the rest of the day at the experience of adventure.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring a spirituality of creation, keeping us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always exceeds our calculation, that is always beyond anything we can make

Eugene Peterson

So for our first day of {hello}world, I challenge you to open up a day, embrace the unknown, and go on an adventure together.  I bet it will be a good, good day.  I would love to hear what you do!

Follow where inspiration strikes, where fun and creativity lead.  Or, use one of these ideas.

: go on a nature scavenger hunt

nature scavenger hunt

: go on a city scavenger hunt. {the rules: OPTION 1- as a family.  The family breaks up into two cars (mom driving one car and dad driving the other.)  The two cars agree on a fun place to meet at the end… froyo, a city park, etc.  Safely, each car tries to check off as many as possible items to find.  The first car to complete their scavenger hunt and arrive at the location wins and gets to decide what the family orders!  OPTION 2- One car goes out on the hunt.  Each person in the car gets a sheet.  The first person to complete their city scavenger hunt sheet wins and gets to decide the reward.}

city scavenger hunt

::: click here for the city scavenger hunt pdf to download and print off :::

: slide-bys {Load into your car.  Explain that you have 1 hour to test out all of the slides in your city.  Drive up to a park, have the kids run out of the car and slide down the slides as quickly as possible.  Run back to the car, and drive to the next park.  Have a sheet that they can rank how much they liked the slide on a scale from 1-10.  Find the best slide in the city.}

: outfit competition {Everyone gets $5 to come up with the best outfit (most outrageous, most creative, funniest, most colorful…)  Wear it to family dinner that night.

: taste test {get an ice cream cone from McDonald’s and froyo from another store and have a blind tasting competition}

: go to your nearest lake and see who can find the best skipping stone

: go on a hike, or a walk, and count how many bugs you can find

: buy a disposable camera. {visit downtown, tell your kids to take as many pictures as they want; see the world through their eyes}

: find the biggest hill in your city and roll down it

: go to a park and have a cartwheel competition

~ as helen keller said: life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all ~

life is a daring adventure

::: to download the above {free} printable, just click here and print it out :::

And above all, friends, have so much fun with your people!

to get the {hello}world challenge delivered right to your inbox so that you don’t miss one of our days, fill in the form below!  you will also have access to my set of 10 4×4 printable verse cards

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{hello}world: a challenge to embrace our days

We hear the voices telling us to “enjoy this.”  People near and far will step in and nudge us with a reminder: It goes so quickly… make sure you enjoy this time.  And while in our heart of hearts we know that’s true- time works on its own schedule, speeding up when we want it to slow down and crawling by when we need it to fly- sometimes the sentiment is lost within the moment.  But once we settle in to the statement… enjoy this… it is turned and folded to form a new word.

What if what is really within enjoy the moment is EMBRACE the moment.  Because time does go so quickly.  Moments are fleeting.  The difficult as well as the good ones.  But in the midst of the meltdowns, the public displays of defiance, the ornery and the power-struggle and the can-I-really-go-another-day questions that flash… in the midst of those are still moments.  And standing right next to those moments, are the ones saturated in love and curiosity and creativity and wonder.

{hello}world

And moments have this way of moving.  They tick and they flash and they creep by.  Every single one of them.  These moments are going to happen whether we want them to or not, whether we are ready for them or not.

So let’s focus on them.

Some will be easier to embrace than others, some will sting more than others, some will be sweeter than others, but every single one of them are moments that are ours to lean into.  To grasp, to hold.

Because something shifts in an embrace.  It’s a bit of a vulnerable act.  But it is also an act of bravery.  Don’t those go hand in hand?  Leaning in, digging deep, focusing on every moment even if there are a few thorns. Brave is embracing our moments and agreeing that this one… this one right here, is the one they speak of when they say “Enjoy this…” even if it sometimes is difficult.

{hello}world

Sometimes, it feels impossible to look further than the current moment- the temper tantrum, the Big Decision, the sleepless nights of newborns, the move.  Sometimes either the chaos or the monotony seems to trump the purpose and the love and the gift.

But when I get stuck in that spiral… I lose sight of them.  The precious and the hilarious who I get to spend my days with.  I lose sight of the miracle.  I lose sight of my people, my stage of life, my purpose, my foundation.  Because they are GIFTS.  This is all just a GIFT.

I don’t want to miss this.

And so I dig in.

I remind myself to see it all.  Notice the smudge of chocolate on her cheek from when you let her sneak a bit of ice cream mid-day.  Listen to the way she mixes up her words and then don’t correct her, she’ll make it right soon enough.  Notice how she is experimenting with increasingly large words: eventually, actually, and delicious all recently entered her vocabulary.  Dig.  In.  These moments will soon pass.  All too soon, they will pass.

{hello}world

We get to bring these people up.  These people are ours to enjoy, to mold, to live.

This life is ours to enjoy, to mold, to live.

And so let’s LIVE it.  I want to be able to look back on my years and know that I lived fully and completely… not only mostly.

And in order to live fully and completely and audaciously, we need to embrace these moments.

I have an idea.

I am starting a series that we’ll go through during the month of September.  I call it {hello}world.  Each part of this series I will focus on a specific aspect that I have learned helps me to embrace this life and see the gifts- and at the end of each day I will share a free printable with something that will help us do that- a verse or a quote or a tool that you can print off and use throughout your world.  We are going to dig in to our moments and interact with our world together.  We are going to create moments to enjoy and celebrate.

This is not going to be another “to-do” to add to our busy plates.  It is going to be life-giving.  It’s going to be fun.  Join me in this journey.  Let these days anchor you to this moment and this life and this miraculous God who says that this life and these moments matter.

{hello}world

I so hope you join me in saying {hello}world.

I can’t wait to see where we end up.

Sign up on the form below to get this delivered right to your inbox so you can stay up with us.  You will receive each post in this series as we walk through this challenge in saying {hello}world.  As a bonus you will receive my set of 10 {darling} printable verse cards. :)

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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. :::

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updates in your inbox & free verse printable

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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