10/10/14

Your Will Be Done.


It seems like this has been my prayer over and over. "Lord, if it is Your will, let it be." I breath out my questions and breath in this prayer and move through my day trying desperately to trust that whatever happens this prayer will be answered. 

But then answers come that aren't what I had hopped and I find myself living the tension of disappointment, but striving to trust.  When jobs change, and plans fall through, and ministries I long for seem to out of reach, am I still praying "Your will be done." 

When I look at the story He is writing in my life, will I trust that it is the perfect one for me. Will I cheer for victories in other's lives and not  sulk that they aren't my own?

When once again my kids go to bed before their Daddy get's home. When we eat more dinners apart than together. Can I trust that even in this God is good and His will is being done? When thoughts of "this isn't what I signed up for" run through my head can I hold fast to the truth that, if this is God's will then yes, this is in fact, EXACTLY what I signed up for.

9/17/14

How God is Using NOT Going to Influence Conference to Grow Me

Fall seems to have hit full force this week at least on the East Coast. My day has been full of soup in the crock pot and folding laundry with the windows open. It's also been full of checking Instagram and feeling a slight pang every time I see the #influenceconf. This is the third year of the conference and once again I am watching it from my computer. 

Four month ago just days after my 30th birthday I sat down at the computer with money in my bank account ready to buy my conference ticket. Josh had recently been promoted at work and for the first time in our marriage money wasn't really an issue. And yet, for some reason I couldn't explain it just didn't feel right. I talked it over and over with my husband, he was all for me going, but didn't want me to go if I felt uneasy. I desperately wanted to be there this year but couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Fast forward to the end of August. My husband went into work one day and called me a few hours later. For reasons totally out of his control his position in the company had been down sized. Thankfully they were able to find him a different position in the company but it mean additional hours and a pay cut.

As I sit at home today watching woman across the country prepare for Influence Conference my heart hurts a little bit. But, I understand why I am not there. Last month our lives tipped sideways and we are still recovering a bit. I know if I were trying to get ready to leave town and getting ready to get on a plane and travel nine hours away from my family it just wouldn't feel right. I know I wouldn't be able to enjoy this weekend if I was there because I would be worried about our families finances. I know God protected me and my family when He put that nagging feeling in my heart back in May.

I desperately, selfishly want to be at the conference this weekend. My soul yearns to be surrounded by like minded women and to be encouraged and motivated in my passions. But more than that I want to be where God has called me to be. And today, He has called me to be home. This isn't an easy "yes" to say but it is the right "yes".


I want to be go to Influence Conference. I wish I could say that if God wants me home that's where I would rather be. I am not sure I can say that. Maybe wanting to be able to say that is enough for now. I know this, I know that NOT being at Influence Conference is what God wants for me this year. Not being at Influence Conference was His was of protecting me this year.

Maybe being ok right where I am is a lesson I need to learn, before He can teach me other ones.

Every Day Beauty

I was reading a friend's blog today when I was hit with a pang of jealousy. Not of anything she has, but simply a moment of "why can't my story be more like that"? It was a silly passing thought, but one that I am sure hits most of us more often than we would like.

Because there are nights like tonight when the notes home from school aren't what you would hope, when the toddler is sick, when home work is met with blank faces, when the toddler refuses dinner but eats cat food. Because nights like that it makes it hard to see the beauty in your own life.

We are in a stretching season right now. A season that has me so exhausted at the end of the day that looking for and finding the beauty in my life is a bit challenging. But the beauty is there, I just have to look for it.


A beautiful gift from a stranger. 



A chance to actually enjoy a local festival as a family. 
 

More time studying my Bible in a new way. 


Waking up to this happy face every day. 

Here is to finding beauty in the every day.

9/12/14

Why I don't Plan on Teaching My Daughters "True Love Waits"




I want to preface this post by saying I am all for purity and modesty. I in no way want to communicate that I am against these things, or that I am encouraging girls to run around in skimpy clothes and make poor choices. That being said, I am not sure I will make a point to teach“modesty” or “purity” to my daughters. 

I grew up when the “True Love Waits” movement was really gaining momentum. I read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” (begrudgingly) and Secret Keeper. I even worked at a Rebecca St. James concert on her “Wait for Me” tour. I have, very literally, been there, done that, and have the t-shirt. 

I think the intent behind all of these movements, conferences, and seminars is great. The parents, youth workers, and Christian leaders of the time had firsthand experience with the results of the sexual revolution. They wanted to protect the young people they loved from making painful mistakes.

The intent was great. The message was good. The delivery was flawed. 

Satan has a way of taking good intentions and messages and twisting them, and the minds of young women can be fertile ground for lies.

See, when the message we heard over, and over, and over was to cover up and “save ourselves,” a little lie crept in. Some girls were able to combat that lie with truth, but others weren’t so lucky. Many began to believe our value and worth laid in our closets and behavior. We may have had the right actions, but they were motivated by fear of being rejected rather than out of an understanding of God and His desires for us. 

We found our identity not in Christ, but in our virginity. We found our worth not in being a Child of the King but in what we wore.

I have had this conversation with dozens and dozens of women. So many times I have seen girls who “made the right choices” left feeling confused and hurting. A generation unsure of who they were anymore, after losing what had become their identity.

Focusing on one aspect of a holy life style can lead to disastrous results.
 
I’m not sure what we were actually taught, but as a group what we heard was, “Wait,” not, “Honor God.” So when the waiting was over, we had no idea what came next. 
I don’t blame our churches, our leaders, or our parents. We live in a fallen world. Truth gets twisted and Satan takes pleasure in planting confusion.

I want to teach my daughters that they are sinners, but God loves them any ways. 
 
I want to teach them that He made them, and that He has an amazing plan for their life. 

I want my girls to see the big picture. 

The fact is true love DIDN’T wait. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
He didn’t wait for us to change how we dress, or talk, or spend our weekends. 

That is what I want my daughters to understand. I want them to see Christ and all He did for us in the center. When we have an accurate understanding of who we are, and who God is, obedience flows out of gratitude. 
 
When our hearts are inclined toward God, our wardrobes and actions will be too.

9/8/14

Day 8: My Soundtack Lately

This month I am participating in a blog challenge. It's being hosted by Bailey Jean over at Brave Love. My hope is it will help jump start some good creative writing practices this fall. 

Oh my! Did I really miss so many days? Being sick took it out of me and I have been stumbling around for a few days but I am back and will hopefully stay on target from here on out!

Today's prompt: Music that moves you. Are you a Spotify addict or a Pandora guru? Tell us your favorite artists/stations!

Truthfully music isn't as big a part of my life as it used to be. Growing up music was almost always on at my parents house. Even know when we are all together my dad constantly has the iPod going with some sort of mix.

James Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Peter Paul and Mary make up so many of my childhood music memories.

Lately JJ Heller has been one of my favorite go to artists.  I have spent quiet a bit of time sewing and listening to my JJ Heller Pandor station as well.

Her songs "In the End" and "Who You Are" seem to be my favorites right now.

9/3/14

When I Grow Up.

This month I am participating in a blog challenge. It's being hosted by Bailey Jean over at Brave Love. My hope is it will help jump start some good creative writing practices this fall. 


Today's prompt: "When I grow up I want to be..." Answer as your 5-year-old self or as you are now.


I don't even know how to answer this to be honest. I have wanted to be so many thing over the years. But one of the things that has arisen over and over again is writer. As a little girl I wanted to write songs and poems. As a middle school student I wanted to write fiction. In college I study print journalism and had dreams of starting a Christian magazine (real original I know). 

There were other things sprinkled in here and there. College professor. Full time ministry. Pretty normal dreams for a girl growing up in the evangelical church culture. I was pretty confident I was going to do something big and change the world.

I love that Bailey Jean included a life mission statement. Josh and I have sort of done that. A few years ago we sat down and asked ourselves where we wanted to be when we were 50. This is what we came up with.

1. A vibrant walk with God both personally and as a couple.
2. Enjoy each other's company and be even more in love than we are now.  
3. Strong relationships with our children. (As much as in our power to do so) 
4. Actively involved in a local church community. 

As a couple we also adopted Acts 2:24 as our family verse.

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers."

When I grow up I want to be smack dab in the middle of God's will for me. 

9/2/14

Day Two: I'm So Happy!

This month I am participating in a blog challenge. It's being hosted by Bailey Jean over at Brave Love. My hope is it will help jump start some good creative writing practices this fall.

Today's prompt: Write about what makes you happy, from the little joys to the huge game-changers.


Lists make me happy. So I am going to keep this simple and simply stick to a stream of thought list format. 

My family. Cuddles with one year old. Reading my Bible. Praying. Walks with my husband. Hot tea. Hot coffee. Hot chocolate. Hot baths. Good books. Pretty fabrics. Nice yarn. Time with friends. Notebooks. Office supplies. Planners. Lists. Pens. Stickers. Washi tape. The beach. Snow. Fall. Chocolate. Homemade quilts. Baking bread. My church. My small group. Amazing neighbors. Snail mail. Care packages. Tinted chapstick. Seasonal candles (scentsy). Writing. Sewing. Talking to my sister on the phone. Reality cooking shows.

What makes YOU happy?

9/1/14

ONE: About the Author

This month I am participating in a blog challenge. It's being hosted by Bailey Jean over at Brave Love. My hope is it will help jump start some good creative writing practices this fall. 


Today's prompt: "Imagine the front sleeve of a hard cover novel. Give us your "About the Author" so we can get to know one another, and for fun tell us what your imaginary novel would be about."

 Formal introduction:
Joy moved to the South over ten years ago for college and after meeting her amazing husband settled in a quiet little suburb. She spends her days with her three amazing little girls and her ferocious cat, Slightly.  She fills her time freelance writing, sewing for a local boutique shop, and spending time with her church small group.

Informal introduction: I moved from "The North" to "The South" to go to college, met my husband my senior year of college and just sorta stayed. We have three girls in 1st grade, Kindergarten and One. My cat is super small but things he is a massive panther and kills any rodent, snake, or bird that dares come into our yard. I write for my blog, a few other local blogs, and a local magazine. I am a self taught creative and make Waldorf Inspired dolls that I sell online and locally. My family and friends are very important to me. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and love that I can give my daughters that same start.

My Novel: I am slowly work on a novel. You can read snippets of it here.

8/25/14

Favorite Read-Aloud Books: Classic Series



I love reading. I always have. Or at least as long as I can remember. One of my favorite things about the girls getting older is that they are finally old enough to read chapter books too. Over the past 6 years I have been slowly collecting favorite books from my childhood to read to my kids once they were old enough. We are currently in the processes of redecorating our basement and that included moving all of our books off of the bookshelves. I spent my afternoon sorting through books and got to look over some old favorites. Now that school is back in session and the girls are doing Book-It we will definitely be reading some of these books.

For a long time a lot of these books were out of print but I found out today that many of them have come back into print. (Cue my happy dance!) So, I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of my favorites with you all. I started working on a list and realized I would probably need to break it down. So consider this part one.

Classic Series

The Shoe Books
These aren't technically a series as each story is stand alone. But, since they are all written by the same person a long similar plot lines I figured they counted as a series. These books all take place roughly around WWII in England and follow various orphaned children as they discover their talents in dancing and theater.
 Theater Shoes (The Shoe Books)
Dancing Shoes (The Shoe Books)
Ballet Shoes (The Shoe Books)

All Of a Kind Family
Sydney Taylor did something ground breaking when she wrote this beautiful series about a family of Jewish children growing up in New York City around WWI. More than historical fiction these books exposed me to a brand new culture as a child. I loved learning about the religious traditions and culture around different Jewish holidays and can't wait to share that with my kids.
All-of-a-Kind Family
All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown
More All-Of-A-Kind Family
All-Of-A-Kind Family Uptown
Ella Of All-Of-A-Kind Family

Betsy Tacy Books 
Growing up I LOVED the older Betsy/Tacy books but I have to admit I never actually had the chance to read books about my favorite characters as children becuase they were out of print. They were re-printed a few years ago and my sisters have given me the complete set to read to my little girls. We are all loving them. 
The Betsy-Tacy Treasury: The First Four Betsy-Tacy Books

Little House Books
These American classics really don't need and review or description. As a child and an adult I enjoyed the later books most but my kids have really gotten into Little House in the Big Woods.

Little House Nine-Book Box Set

The Chronicles of Narnia
If I could only pick one set of books from my childhood to carry with me into adulthood it would be these. I have read and re-read these books more times than I can count. I have them all on CD and my kids and I listen to them over and over when we drive to my parents in MD. 
Chronicles of Narnia Box Set

Grandma's Attic 
A fun lighthearted set of books about a little girl who finds things in her grandma's attic and convinces her to tell her stories about her childhood. Full of anecdotes about hoop skirts and trying to remove freckles with lemon juice these are sure to make your kids giggle.
In Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)
More Stories from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series Book 2)
Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)
Treasures from Grandma's Attic (Grandma's Attic Series)





8/21/14

Making Room for Grace and the Middle Ground: reflections on my social media newsfeed.

My news feed has been full of links to articles this summer. Links to articles telling me how I should feel or think about things. Things like yoga pants and modesty. Things like depression and suicide. Things like silly/fun fundraisers and stem cell research and hashtag activism.

And I want to shake my head and throw up my hands and say "YOU PEOPLE!"

Because there seems to be no room for a middle ground.

Because my position as a Godly woman seems to come down to what kind of pants I wear and either I agree with you or I am an attention-seeking harlot. Because there seems to be no grace for a tired mom whose weight fluctuations are equaled only by her one-year-old’s mood swings and who can't seem to find time to do laundry.

Because there seems to be no respect for the grieving. Or the dead. Or those struggling with unspeakable pain. Or those who misspeak and say something with truth but maybe not love. Because one man couldn’t see past his pain and one man couldn’t see past his pride and both men needed the same thing. Grace.  

Because we are easily irritated by a fad on our news feed and don't bother to look deeper to the story behind it. Because it is easier to point out the negative than look for the positive.  Because sometimes we forget that being "pro-life" is just as much about loving and supporting and seeking healing for the living in whatever broken place we find it as it is protecting the yet to be born. Because judgment is easier than grace.

Because there is a bigger picture we are missing.

And then I read this post. And my heart sings YES!

God didn’t stand back and point out all of our mistakes. He sent his son and got dirty up to his elbows. He surrounded himself with flawed, broken people and loved them. He looked past their superficial needs to the heart of what they needed. Grace.

What if we, what if I took Romans 12:10 to heart.
 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

What if we stopped pointing fingers, stopped rolling our eyes, stopped arguing our side and put that same energy into loving one another?
 
What if, rather than proving we were right, we sought to outdo one another in showing honor? 
What if we took time to sit down and listen to each other's stories? Listening to the whys and lifting each other up in prayer. What if we withheld judgment till we know the whole story. Or maybe withheld judgment all together and simply pointed each other toward grace.

What if we were really daring and shared our own stories: of loss, of pain, of failure, of sin, of questioning. Not to glorify these things, but to take away their power. It is the things that remain unspoken that drive the biggest wedge between us. It is the illusion of perfection and knowing all that answers that keeps others quiet. 

Maybe it's time we take the conversation further than social media and into our homes, across our tables, in real relationships with community and genuine accountability.  What if we stopped vaugebooking and spoke loving truth into each other's lives. 

Yes, this is hard, yes, this is invasive, yes this is wildly uncomfortable.  

But what if we took the chance? 

What would that look like? I would love to hear from you. How do you find the balance between truth and grace. Is there a way to stand up for what you believe in on social media with out coming across as condescending and self righteous? What does real community and accountability look like? 

8/20/14

Transitions

I have been pretty quiet on here for a while. I have been quiet intentionally. We have been in a season of intense transition and I have wanted to take time to think, reflect, pray through, live with these transitions for a bit before sharing about them.



This baby girl just turned one! I am not sure how that happened. It honestly feels like just a few weeks ago we brought her home. She is such a funny talkative little person. She get's into everything, still loves to cuddle, is talking/babbling constantly, and loves "ring-around-the-rosie".




These two girls started school this week. They are so excited to be at the same school and Miss Goose was bouncing off the walls this morning because her sister and the neighbor girl were going to walk her to her classroom today. Goose is in Kindergarten this year and Bear is starting 1st grade. She is so excited to be in the grade her aunt teaches and has said many times she wishes she could go to the school her aunt teaches in. (So do I kiddo, so do I.)

First week of school has brought its expected challenges. They are doing great going to bed and getting up but they both have their own challenges at school so the afternoons/evenings are a bit of a struggle. The joys of having an introvert and an extrovert sharing a bedroom. (So sorry to my sister I shared a room with growing up. I had NO idea how draining that must have been for you!).


Our small group is going through some changes. Good changes that mean we are growing and will allow more people to attend groups. It took a while to get used to the idea mentally. Josh and I originally had been planning on opening up our home to host a group in January but the changes prompted us to move up our time line and offer it this fall. So in a few weeks we will be hosting a group. Thankfully my parents came this past weekend and did a lot of work around the house to help us get ready for that. Still a good bit done, but lots is in the works house wise and in my heart.



It seems like a lot of the reading I have been drawn to have been about home, hospitality, and community. I'm beginning to see a trend and I'm trying to listen to what God is trying to teach me. Hopefully will be more on that in the future.

7/24/14

Forgotten Projects

It rained today. Finally. We have needed a nice summer storm for a while. The sky got dark and the air filled with rolls of thunder. I couldn't bring myself to clean and all I wanted to do was curl up watch Top Chef and listen to the rain. So today I pulled out some long forgotten projects and worked on them for a while.


I worked on my granny square blanket some today and even got a few squares pieced together. I think it's going to be so lovely when it's done. I'm excited for cool weather and the chance to curl up with it in my glider.


I am also finally working on my NoodleHead Super Tote! I think it is going to turn out really well. I'm a little worried it's going to turn out a little brighter than I would like for a back to school bag. But it should still be pretty and serviceable.

What are you all working on this week?

7/22/14

Summer


There are lots of things we could be doing. Organizing that could or even should be happening. School supplies to buy. Clothes to sort and organize. Projects to be started, to be finished, to be worked on. Skills to improve. And yet, we are doing non of that these days. We are fully embracing summer and eating tons of ice cream and listening to the front screen door slam a hundred times a day. Switching from open windows, to air conditioning and back. Grapes are being eaten by the pound. Stickers are being collected. Trips are being taken to the farmers market. Pictures are being colored.

All in all it's been pretty quite. I am trying to embrace that rather than constantly rush onto the next thing. I am desperately trying to simply rest and abide in this place and this season.

I'm doing some daydreaming about the basement. We are painting all the wood paneling white. Setting up a long table with two computers. I have a beautiful roll top desk that I am picking up this week some time and I can't wait. I love roll top desks and have wanted one since I was a little girl. I've spent lots of time on pinterest day dreaming about what I want to set up down there.