a few of my favorites

It’s been awhile since I last shared a few favorite links with you. So on this Sunday morning, there’s no better place than here and now to invite you to read along with me.

For all of my fellow write-in-the-margins readers, this poem by Billy Collins speaks right to us.

grocery list notepadThis grocery list by BrimPapery. (I *heart* all things organizing and all kinds of paper. Love her design and I just found this: a gorgeous 2016 calendar).

When you feel mom guilt (and what mom doesn’t?), Sara Hagerty (author of Every Bitter Things is Sweet about finding God when life stops working for you) offers these words to encourage our hearts in The Best (and Most Resisted) Words A Mama Can Say: Help. I Don’t Know What I’m Doing.

On those who share my feeling of weariness, this is hope-filled and honest: Lay Your Tired Stories to Rest by Charlie Howell, a student at The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology.

Enjoy your Sunday, friends. May it bring you rest as you step away from the busy, frenetic pace of life for a few moments or hours. And may you find that a God who is there in these still moments.






links I love {this weekend}

photo by Seth Nelson (my talented husband)

photo by Seth Nelson (my talented husband)

You know that moment when you read something that answers the question you’ve been asking yourself? That happened to me when I read How Pursuing Your Gifts Impacts Your Kids over at Ann Voskamp’s “A Holy Experience” – answered the question of, “Is it wrong/should I feel guilty for pursuing art in this season of mothering young children?” (Spoiler alert: Jessica Turner gives a resounding, “no!” – and I’m excited to see that she’s written a book on this topic, “The Fringe Hours“)

In Why You Should Resolve to Regress at OnFaith, Jeremy Bouma addresses the topic of what we can learn from becoming “regressive” in our faith – such a personal challenge to one who loves all things new, shiny, and progressive:

I believe that in order for my generation of Millennial Christians (really all Christians) to move forward in our spiritual journey, we need to go backwards.

To get regressive.

After all, that’s what regress means — the act of going back, a returning to what was before.

What would it look like to commit to being regressive in 2015, to go backwards by rediscovering and retrieving what the church has believed, about our origins and identity; why things are so messed up and we are, too; the person of Jesus and the fix he bore; about faith, life, and everything in between; even about God himself?

Good words from Paul Tripp addressing The Idol of Control as it relates to parenting.

In The Art of Presence, David Brooks (columnist for the NY Times) speaks about how to come alongside someone grieving. The featured family happens to be a former Wheaton College professor who has endured wave upon wave of tragedy, and these words point to the hope of our God of all comfort while inviting us to offer better comfort.

Convos with my 4-year-old: shopping YouTube will give you a good laugh, especially my fellow stuck-in-the-snowy-trenches parents out there.

Jen Pollock Michel (author of my #1 favorite book of 2014: Teach Us to Want) writes beautifully, and her words always resonate with me. Doing the One Thing That Matters is no exception. I’ll close this post with a quote from it:

I suppose if there is one take-away for me personally from McKeown’s book, it’s this idea of emotional courage. It takes courage to admit to yourself that you can’t do it all. It takes courage to bear the pending disappointments of the trade-offs we must make to live essentially. It takes courage to say ‘no’ to other people.

It takes courage to live into your limitations.

May you rest in the midst of your limitations this weekend, dear reader, and find much grace and rest for your soul.

First post of 2014

Oh, the pressure! It’s the first post of a new year. Granted, this “new” year is about a week old – but nonetheless, it’s my first 2014 blog post. Do I reflect on the year past, make grand resolutions for the year ahead? Do I give advice to myself and you about what I learned, and what I hope not to repeat in 2014?

Or do I share my favorite links with you of new year’s posts? Ones who have written so eloquently that I fear I have nothing to add. Like my friend Rachel, post “this year, I resolve nothing” whose words resonate so much with me, the one who has tended to make too many resolutions based on the foundation of too much trust in self-power to complete them, with the result of February disappointment as I feel like a failure based on my own standards. What a very long sentence – hope you didn’t get lost there!

Another beautiful post about the importance of soaking in beauty to be truly beautiful v. pretty – Glennon’s “don’t be pretty – be beautiful in 2014” says it SO well.

Why the disappointment? For one reason, it’s because too often as a mom of littles-still-at-home, there are not many “measurable goals” I can complete. Enter Lisa-Jo’s beautiful post that is making its rounds among fellow mom friends – asking the question, “how do you measure a year in the life of a mom?” 

And then there’s just a few helpful tidbits I wanted to learn about this year, like 12 ways to tie a scarf (I’m so stuck in my scarf habit!), how to interact with the introverted (my dear husband, e.g.), how to raise a kid who isn’t whiny and annoying, and my personal favorite to start trying soon: freezer crockpot recipes (really? could it get any easier than that – combining the ease and convenience of freezer + crockpot = genius).

For now, I’ll leave any 2013 reflections to my blog archives, and any resolutions to a future post. I think this picture pretty well sums up what I want 2014 to hold for me – growth in relationships with these, my three favorite people ever:







finding words for my story

In my work as a counselor, the first place I start is in helping others find words for their story. Their story is there – they have lived it, the soul-shattering moments and the glory-filled ones alike, and yet finding words for their story can be hard. Not simply because it’s hard to speak of what you’ve never spoken out loud before, but also because you may not have the words to describe it. And so I will often suggest that they read something – the Psalms, for instance; or a book or memoir or a blog – to begin to find words for their story. I include these questions as prompts:

What stands out to you? What resonates with you? What do you say, “oh yes! That’s me!” about? Underline it; write that out; and begin telling your story.

In this month where I’m finding it hard to find words for my story (not because it’s difficult or painful, but it’s just busy and quite seemingly ordinary), I turned to a few favorite blogs this morning. And what I found put words to what I’m experiencing. My story of today. Enjoy …

Both are from Emily Freeman at “chatting at the sky,” my #1 favorite blogger and writer these days because of her grace-infused artful words.

First, from her post “one word that is sabotaging the art you live“:

But I’m just tucking them in to bed, you say.

I’m just cleaning the room.

I’m just filing the papers.

I’m just balancing the checkbook.

I’m just driving the carpool. None of this feels sacred to you.

Did you see the killer there?

Pay attention to when  you use the word just. Because whatever comes after that word is usually where you’re allowing the art to die.

Resist the urge to disrespect a task because it doesn’t feel important.

And in “the kind of movement that makes a difference“:

Rather than resenting my weakness, I believe Jesus is asking me to embrace my weakness. Being poor in spirit doesn’t mean despising self but releasing self from the expectation of being anything but poor. Small. Helpless. Worn.

My soul needs to remember the kind of movement that will make a difference:

Don’t try to handle your anxiety. Bring your anxiety into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to fix your loneliness. Bring your loneliness into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to hide your addiction. Bring your addiction into the presence of Christ.

Don’t try to change your attitude. Bring your attitude into the presence of Christ.

Don’t despise your humanity. Bring your humanity into the presence of Christ.

There is still responsibility, there is still action that comes from me. But my action is not to make right, to make whole, or to make better. My action is to usher my abilities, inabilities, failures and successes all into the presence of Christ.

Somehow, all of this weaves into what I’m living and learning right now as we study Romans together in our women’s Bible study and as we delve into gospel & community in our community group and as I counsel and write and tuck into bed and calm down tantrums in the in-between moments.

links to savor on your Sunday

Good morning, friends! This Sunday morning, I am lighter than I’ve been in awhile because of completing yesterday’s retreat speaking on wisdom (and being reminded of the beautiful gospel truth I had the privilege of telling to these 70+ ladies yesterday, that I told first to myself – wisdom comes in a Person … more posts to come, I’m sure); and coming back home from our last week at the beach with family. A last week to soak up sunshine, the unmatched glory of an ocean-meeting-sky horizon, the break from go-go-go to simply be free from schedule and appointments and work, to focus on what (who) is most important: the sun-kissed faces of daughters; my tanned face husband; parents-in-law who shower us with love; my Creator-God as the giver of the gifts of this week.

And now, here comes the week out of its double-barreled shotgun. Church is up and running and in full fall swing for our pastor and counselor family. A little voice urgently summons me next door a full HOUR before normal wake-up time (really?!), and there are words I wanted to write and a week I wanted to pray through. And it’s easy to feel like vacation has evaporated like a morning mist. Oh my.

Then I read these words as another wife and mom anticipates her week, and I smile in recognition and I know I’m not alone, and that there will be grace for each challenge.

And a thought-provoking post on what I really need this September, which exposes my own similar struggles.

Finally, another pastor’s wife talks about finding Sabbath rest when Sunday’s the biggest work day of your week and your kids are young.

Enjoy, friends … now on to step 1 of this week: get some caffeine and try to love all the people in my house on my way to the coffee pot …

links to love, linger, and learn from

It’s just about vacation time for us, which will involve an inordinately long time in the car with busy 3-year-olds, about 200% more potty stops than we’ve had to take before, and some quality time with family which will make it all worthwhile. It will also include a small blogging break. In my absence, I leave you with the following posts to enjoy –

Read this about the writing practice of “morning pages” on Chatting At The Sky

Need an internet break? Glennon bravely leads the way here.

My life in the preschool/lego stage in a quote by Gretchen Rubin

As one born and raised in the South, I say – “Can I get an Amen, y’all?” to this article on the Gospel Coalition Blog: The Kind of Churches We Need in the South

on motherhood:

On the importance of not rushing through life: The Day I Stopped Saying ‘Hurry Up’ And a good follow up on how to savor the summer on Simple Mom: Be like the sunOne final link on this theme, connecting how anger and hurry are tightly connected: Slow to AngerObviously a message that I need to hear!

For those of you who, like me, love your kids but sometimes struggle with what you’ve “given up” in terms of career/education/conversation depth to be a mom: When you’re not sure if you want to be a mom

The title says it all: a prayer for the mom who’s worn

And one last one to send us (and perhaps you?) on your way – 4 tips for vacationing with your family

Five Friday links

I love alliteration, and I love some sort of rhythm/structure/order. And so I’m going to be posting “five favorite Friday links” each week of blogs I’ve read and enjoyed. Here they are:

  1. “You May Be A Book Hoarder If …” at Barnes & Noble describes our family exactly. Our furniture dilemmas usually stem from the need of more bookshelves for all of our books. And, nope, we haven’t gone digital (which would make more sense – but then you lose the feel of the pages). One of my summer goals for our family is to do a book purge (gasp!) as I think this alone would simplify our lives a bit.
  2. In “There is now no condemnation,” my good friend Emily writes of mommy guilt and the freedom we can know from it.
  3. “On blogging and the rules that feel like rules but aren’t really” Lisa talks about the “good ole days” of blogging and reminds us all that blogging is meant to be enjoyable and free, not just about the rules that have crept up surrounding it.
  4. Our girls are only going to be starting preschool in the fall, but it’s never too soon to begin thinking and praying about school options. Gospel Coalition did a three part series, and here’s the first one on choosing public education.
  5. “Of summer’s lease and sabbath song” is a post as beautiful as its title on Jen Wilkin’s blog. This vignette alone captures what I love about it:
But the highest item on our summer agenda, and the one we all look forward to the most, is rest. There will be time to listen to the cicadas.
Here is a remarkable thing about the Christian faith: we have a God who commands us to rest. Our God commands us to hold still, to cease from labor, to actively enter into repose – not merely as a means to regain our strength, but as an act of worship.
The gods of other religions and the god of self, these demand ceaseless toil. To please these gods, worshippers work incessantly at the business of self-denial, approval-seeking, pilgrimage – repeated rites that strive to prove the worth of the supplicant and earn the favor of the deity.
Those who seek the approval of lesser gods commit themselves to a course of utter exhaustion.
But not the Christian. In our obedient observance of rest, the work of our Savior is understood most clearly. We rest not as an attempt to earn his approval, but as an assent that his approval has already been earned in the sun-going-down, Sabbath-initiating work of Christ on the cross. Christ worked that we may rest. He, in a gathering dusk, exhaling the first note of a blood-bought chorus of infinite rest.

Top 5 weekly links

Enjoy …

  1. When I read this post at “Chatting At The Sky,” I thought about the sweet group of middle and high school girls at the youth retreat I had the privilege of speaking at a few weekends ago – and these are three good words for any of us: “Go make art.” Excited to begin reading Emily Freeman’s bookGrace for the Good Girl, this week!
  2. From my new favorite pastor’s wife/counselor blogger at “Grace Covers Me,” a post about knowing God and basking in grace instead of focusing on others’ opinions: the more you know”
  3. Reassurance for my newly taken up habit of drinking coffee again (LOVING it). Where have you been the past few years, dear caffeine? I’ve missed you … This is your brain on coffee
  4. I’m on a home decorating kick lately, and *free* is always better for the budget. Love these over at French Press Mornings
  5. Some good, practical parenting wisdom answering the question, “Should I make my child apologize?” from Jen Wilkin


Sabbath rest for a mother’s heart

If you find yourself in need of rest, true heart rest, these links will help you follow the voice of Jesus as he leads us there (Matthew 11:28-30).

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

A poem by Sarah Dunning Park – http://simplemom.net/poem-book-learning/

“Chatting at the Sky” – When the days are long and the minutes are longer

Christina Fox at “The Gospel Coalition blog” – Motherhood for the rest of us

(in)courage blog  – How gentleness makes our children great

Jen Hatmaker – More grace: on not being mean, hateful, and horrible