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

 

 

the best gift i ever gave to my husband

There was a time when my vision was off.  In the season of busy, the season of difficult, the constant work, the lack of quality time, I began to notice what was not happening rather than what was.  

I saw the dishes in the sink, placed there after a meal still not cleaned up.

I heard the wrong word chosen and dwelled on the hurt.

The tee time scheduled before consulting me about OUR Saturday; the work trips, the meetings, the late nights and the early mornings.

And a few years ago, I could sense myself beginning to dig in my heels and let these roots take shape.  I stood on their bitterness, letting each moment carry me higher and higher into the self-righteous pillar of negative, the scenery of bitter.

It became too much.  I knew we had too much of a good thing to let myself sit in those spaces.

great gift idea for marriage

And so somewhere after Oprah’s gratitude journals and before Ann’s 1000 Gifts, I realized that I needed to see something else.

gratitude journal for husband

I was convinced that it was there; that I was just choosing to see what was not happening, rather than what was.

And so I began a gratitude journal about my husband.  For an entire year, I wrote down moments, I wrote down memories, I wrote things he said and things he did.  For an entire year, without telling him what I was doing, I wrote down what makes me grateful about this man.  For an entire year, I saw him, and it filtered into our entire world.

April 19, 2011: Seeing my 37-week large pregnant belly, Lane told me I am his beautiful, hot wife.  He also initiated conversation between us after our childbirth class about relaxation, postpartum and breastfeeding, drawing out my desires and thoughts.

September 4, 2011: Lane played with Brennan for an hour so I could take a nap.  He then told me all of the fun things they did together and how funny she is and how much he loves her.  She’s 4 months old.  He is such a loving, involved, good father.

As I delved deeper and deeper into this practice, this habit, this way of seeing, I began to notice a transformation within myself and with my marriage.  There was renewal.  There was joy, there was gratitude, there was connection once again.

December 4, 2011: Lane made sure we took a moment to put the star on our Christmas tree together.  We got a picture of it and everything.  He knows how crazy I am about Christmas traditions.

December 17, 2011: We threw a really fun party tonight.  Thankful I have a funny, social, loving, welcoming husband.

Finding what I wanted to write down for that day, for that moment, became this sort of game for me.  I secretly watched him, tracking what was my moment for the day, until Aha! I found it!  The dishes in the sink began to matter less.  His opportunities became my celebrations.  Our conversations fueled connection rather than disappointments.

February 12, 2012: I love Lane’s sense of adventure.  He had so much fun snowboarding today.  He is a warrior.

May 22, 2012: He makes homemade margaritas just for the sake of having fun.  I love life with him.

And then, after an entire year of writing down what I love about this man, I packaged and wrapped this journal.  On our 7th wedding anniversary, after the celebration, after the wine, after the gifts and the wonderments of “How has it already been 7 years?!”  I handed him a surprise box.

gift idea for husband

He opened it, not knowing what was inside.

As he flipped through the pages, it hit him.

I notice.

gift idea for husband

I see what he does, who he is, how hard he works.  I see his character, his sense of fun, his love of adventure, his love of his family.

This gratitude journal changed my way of seeing and my way of living and my way of loving.  This forever altered my way of interacting with him.  It transformed our marriage, him deeming this the most meaningful gift I have ever given him.  And so now, whenever I feel those roots of bitter and negative begin to threaten to take shape underneath me again, I open my eyes and look for the blessings, the gifts, the gratitude, and the fun.

I flip through some of the pages of my book, and it reminds me to remember.  It reminds me to really see him and really see this life and really see the beauty.

Because if I look for it, it is there.

Dig in, notice the moments, and be here now.

::: you can do this too.  all it takes is finding a journal and opening your eyes and your heart and writing it down.  and don’t keep it to yourself… give it to them. :::

xoxoxo

~Sarah

in need of a quick dinner idea?

This is a dish that I make fairly frequently.  It is quick, easy, and delicious… win/win/win.

We eat mostly paleo/gluten-free around here, so this dinner falls within that framework… I bet it sure would be tasty alongside some biscuits though! ;)

Honestly, I don’t remember if I came up with this when doing one of my Whole30′s or if it’s a recipe I saw somewhere.  I just know that it’s yummy and easy… have I said that enough? :)

easy weeknight dinner

Okay, I know the pictures might not make it look like the most beautiful dish… just trust me.

Meat and Potato Skillet

 

1 package breakfast sausage {Jimmy Dean makes an awesome version of all-natural sausage with no nitrates/nitrites}

2 small/medium sweet potatoes

A bunch of spinach {or other leafy green, I’ve used kale a lot too}

 

* Cut up your sweet potatoes into equally sized small cubes

*Add the whole package of sausage to a skillet along with the cut up sweet potatoes; at this size, the sweet potatoes get perfectly done right as the sausage finishes cooking.

easy dinner idea

*While that cooks, chop your greens into fairly small pieces.  Chop up as much as you think you want/can handle.  I use A LOT.  I figure this is a way that the girls will eat their greens without really knowing they’re eating them- when it has that much sausage surrounding it, they don’t even bother to notice.}

easy weeknight dinner idea

*Throw your greens into the skillet and stir until it wilts.

*Finish with a dash of salt and pepper.  Add in some sliced avocado if the mood strikes.

*That’s it.  See?  Easy peasy.

I make this a lot on nights when Lane is out late because it is just SIMPLE, so if he doesn’t eat with us, it provides 3 hearty portions, with enough for leftovers for breakfast in the morning {YES, this is a dish that functions as a completely normal dinner food, but we also eat it for breakfast!}.  All you do is put the leftovers in the skillet, add some beaten eggs and you have a quick breakfast scramble.  When I make it for dinner and Lane joins us, it provides four portions, with no leftovers.

 

~enjoy!

xoxoxo

~Sarah

strength and love {free printable}

Friends.  I need to show you what my house looks like right now.

boxing and moving

It’s actually happening.

And this, this was my favorite room in the whole house… the one into which I would go for quiet times, nap times, restoration times, times with friends… the one with the door that slides open into our backyard, where both girls crawled in and out of and now run in and out of… the one that just a few days prior was filled to the brim with those we love and food and laughter and wine.  This, now, is that room:

moving and boxing with toddlers

And THIS little heart has been a little thrown off this week by all of the moving and the boxing and the stress that I’m sure she is picking up on so she came down with a little cold and needs nothing more than her mama.  So this is how I packed and boxed this week:

packing with toddlers

And within all of this, it is easy for me to lose my focus.  Within all of this, it is easy for me to get overwhelmed.  And so I need reminders.  I need something to get me out of myself and into the bigger picture; something that can make my thoughts land on good thoughts and truths.

Throughout my days, I am either singing songs or repeating scripture.  I realized how helpful it would be to have visual reminders of what I am trying to do, so I created some bible verse cards that I can stick throughout my house that I will see throughout my day.

I want to share them with y’all for you to be able to do the same.  

{I’m going to be working on more things of this nature, so keep your eye out!}

I love this Exodus verse.  The juxtaposition of the two words that don’t seem to belong together… strength and song… strikes a chord in me.  When I have no strength of my own… The Lord is my strength.  But he is also my song, my source of joy.

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation ::: Exodus 15:2

free printable the lord is my strength

And in Proverbs… love and faithfulness… bind them around your hearts… remember… do not let them leave you.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart ::: Proverbs 3:3

free printable love and faithfulness

And so my friends, here you go.  Find your favorite paper or card stock, download this print, and put this up in your home.  It could be as simple as cutting it out and putting a magnet on your fridge or a piece of art like I did, or you could put it in a pretty frame for your front entry way or above your sink, maybe?

{download strength and love printables here}

~enjoy!

xoxoxo

Sarah

please feel free to share or pin this post so others can use these printables too! 

entertaining made easy ::: wine glass party hack

We celebrated my birthday this weekend.  It was incredible.  Both Lane and I walked away from the night with this overwhelming feeling of YES.  It was just GOOD.  THE best party we have ever thrown.  Unbelievably fun, our house was filled to the brim with people we just whole-heartedly adore.  Lane and I are people people.  We want our house to be open, always.  We want people to be loved and welcomed, always.  We want to make memories, we want to give reasons to celebrate, we want our house to be an avenue for love and fun and connection.

This party was UNBELIEVABLE.  I will give y’all details about what exactly we did, but for now, I just want to give you a brilliant party hack to help a night of entertaining go smoothly.

When having a group of people into your home, I have only discovered 2 options of how to label guests’ drinks: charms that hook around the stem of a wine glass OR using red solo cups with sharpies to mark people’s names.  I’m not a big fan of either.

Then, I discovered THIS trick and it completely changed the process of drinks for the night.

wine party hack

Use your normal, beautiful glasses and just have people write their names straight onto the glass with sharpies.  Really, it is that simple and that easy.  We were drinking wine, non-alcoholic punch, and water and had a variety of types of glasses out and it worked perfectly on every glass guests used.  As you can see, I set up our drink table with the stemware {though we used stemless wine glasses, which I love}, a plate of sharpie markers with a sign: Write your name on a glass and help yourself to some drinks while you wait to taste… yes, those are sharpies, yes it works! :) .

Guests loved this, glasses were easily identifiable and recognizable, and it added a touch of both elegance and whimsy to the party.

Then for cleanup, the process is EASY:  just run the glasses through the dishwasher as normal, and then using a Magic Eraser, rub off what is left of the name.  Simple, Easy… simply easy; don’t worry about needing to scrub, find rubbing alcohol, etc… THIS WORKS!

This picture shows the letters that were left after a cycle through the dishwasher- you’ll see the majority comes straight off by that alone.

wine glass party hack  

And then, a simple wipe down with the magic eraser and Voila!  Perfectly clean glasses.  

wine glass party hack

And so now, the next time you entertain, remember this wine glass party hack: just have guests’ write their names straight onto the glass with a sharpie!  Enjoy, my friends.

Now go plan a get-together with people you love or people you want to get to know and have a fun night!

xoxoxo

~Sarah

 

thirty… plus one

This year I hit my Plus One.

Today, I turn 31 years old.

Thirty.  Plus one.

My most difficult birthday was 27.  That was the year that I felt old.  I was no longer “cute young thang” just out of college.  I wasn’t the newly married, fresh-faced and optimistic young teacher.  I was on the later end of my twenties.  I was rounding 30.  I felt old.

But then I got over it.

I loved being 28.

And then, inevitably, I turned 29.  I never really wanted to be 29.  It felt like this waiting room where you no longer sit in your twenties: young and cute and wide-eyed about the possibilities of life… but you’re not quite 30: established, your life path figured out.  So I didn’t claim 29.

My year of 29, I said 30.  When people asked how old I was, I claimed 30 with pride.

I felt 30.  I was ready for 30.  I had been married for 8 years at that point, was about to have my second baby, we knew the life trajectory we wanted to be on, I had settled into a reassuring confidence in who I am and what I want to be about.  I was ready for 30.  Sitting in your 30′s feels like the time of life that things start to fall into place.

20′s is a lot of soul-searching and learning and moving and shaping and growing.  30′s… you kind of have your act together.  Or so it seemed.  It feels like you should have your act together.  I liked hitting 30.

So I was 30 for two years.

And now, I’m no longer 30.  I’m 30 Plus One.

I’m not just 30-year-old Sarah.  I’m 30-plus-one year old-Sarah.

That’s a formula I’m going to latch onto.

Something is being added to my life.  A new year of maturing.  A new year of experiences and growth.  A new year of life with my babies and my husband.  A new year of wonder, a new year to step in to others lives, to feel God step into my own.  A year of possibilities, new beginnings, new paths, new hopes, new lessons, new dreams, new challenges.

I’m not losing anything in this equation.

I’m Thirty PLUS One.

I am accumulating years, gathering stories, remembering moments, connecting to friends, expanding my horizons, adding memories.  We are taking steps to follow a new career, I am running my first 10k, we are loving the ages and stages of our kids, we solidify our bond as a team and a partnership in our marriage, we are spending time in the mountains, we are making memories with our friends and family, I am adding life to my life.

I am adding in good this year.

Cheers to a GOOD year.  What are you going to add into your life this year?

 

xoxoxo

~Sarah

trust and peace hold hands

If you learn to trust Me – REALLY trust Me – with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace.  Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me.  This is how you foil the works of evil, growing in grace through the very adversity that was meant to harm you.  Joseph was a prime example of this divine reversal, declaring to his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way.  Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done.  Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day.  Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you will ever encounter.

Jesus Calling ::: May 7

jesus calling- trust

how to potty train in 4 easy steps!

I’ve noticed a trend on the internet.  Maybe it has always been there, but now that I have two littles, my ears are more attuned to the movement.  Maybe I have been targeted on social media sites because of statuses I update and pictures I post.  Maybe it is just there.

But I don’t like it.

I think that what I have noticed within the world of potty training has a tendency to breed even more comparison than we mamas already deal with, planting questions in our brains: What if my child didn’t get it after the 3 days were over?  Did I fail?  Did they?

If you don’t fit the mold, you wonder what you did wrong, what you could have done better, why your child couldn’t figure it out like theirs did.  Did I not celebrate them enough?  Did I not talk about it enough?  Did I not start early enough?  Did I start too early?  Will they go to kindergarten ALREADY behind all of their peers?

I see it everywhere: “How to potty train your kid in {3 days…} {4 easy steps…} {fill in the blank}.  And here’s the thing: If you have a kid that potty trained in 3 days or in 4 easy steps I CELEBRATE WITH YOU.  That is amazing.  I know how tiring and all-consuming a task potty-training is, and if you have a kiddo who just ROCKED it and was a champion and it just clicked, I think that is the most wonderful thing in the world.  I give you a high five.

But I think that there is a danger in the formula.  Every single child is different and even each child within the same family is different- just because something worked for one kid doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to work for another.  We try so hard with our littles, and the second you feel like you don’t measure up, you wonder if you’re really doing your best.  I worry that these formulas breed a culture of making others feel less than and I want to steer clear of anything that might make another feel like their very best isn’t good enough.  Like they aren’t as good of a mama than another.  Really, we are all doing the best we can.

We need to dole out more and more grace and be the loudest cheerleaders on each other’s sidelines.

girls together

I totally fell into the trap with my Brennan girl.  She hit 2 1/2 years old and I was going to Do. This. Thing.  I noticed friends of ours who were potty training; I kept count of the number of other kiddos who were still in diapers when I dropped her off at the nursery; I felt like we were way too late to the potty training party.

So one Friday, we were going to Get This Done.  I assembled my juice, my crackers, my princess panties, my rewards system, my resolve.

By 8:30 am, we were Done.  I knew the second we started that it wasn’t the right time.  I was forcing it on her, she wasn’t interested, and sweet Miss Thang couldn’t care less when her panties got dirty because of an accident.  It did not phase her one single bit.

Thankfully I have two older sisters who dole out buckets of grace and wisdom, and when I called both of them at my wits end, OVER this potty training thing, they helped me to see it all so differently.

One said: “Just know that this is a PROCESS.  It is going to be over a long period of time, where just little by little she will catch on.  Don’t be too hard on yourself; we still know kids who are in pull-ups.”

The other said: “You approached today as an event… you need to think of potty training much more as a JOURNEY.  It might take some time, but THAT IS OKAY.  Don’t worry about other kids, don’t worry about how old she is… she is still SO LITTLE.  Give her some grace, know that this isn’t a life EVENT, it is going to be a journey that you two are on together… for AWHILE.”

And I breathed a sigh of relief.  I’m not a terrible mama; she’s a completely normal 2-year-old.

3 year old b

How interesting that both of my been-there-done-that sisters emphasized the same piece of wisdom: it is a process.

And so we tabled the potty training thing for awhile.  I mentioned it here and there, seamlessly bringing it into conversations, but never putting any pressure on her.  And then one day, she was ready.  And it just kind of happened.  No system, no event, it just happened.

And here’s the thing: I’m not saying that THIS is the way potty training should be done.

I’m just saying that I know my child and I know myself.  What I thought would work for us, just didn’t, and I had to be okay with that.  I gave myself some grace, learned to just enjoy my first-born, my baby girl, and this precious season I have with her without forcing my agenda into her world when she just wasn’t ready for it.

I’m just saying that formulas aren’t always the best thing.  Some people thrive within formulas, and I applaud them if they find success.  But sometimes, some kids and some mamas don’t fit that formula.  We sure didn’t.

And that is just fine.  Raising these kids is a process, it is a journey, it is an adventure.

lane cuddling with b

I think that we as mamas can help each other out in this season of life in some pretty significant ways.

Let’s be people who celebrate each other’s successes, carry each other on our shoulders when we’re too tired to walk, and stand alongside each other in our process… even if their process looks differently than your own.

Let’s be authentic, heart-friends, cheering each other on.

Let’s hand out lots of grace, lots of love, lots of encouragement.

Let’s stand in the assurance that we know our children, we love our children, and we are doing what we believe to be best for our family.

If that’s potty training in 3 days, rock on, sister.

But if that is taking the more scenic route, enjoy the journey.

 

Hope you are well.

xoxoxo

~Sarah