Friday, April 17, 2015

Joyfilled Easter + Me // Coffee Series

Hello, lovelies!!
Open your windows, pull up a chair and rejoice with me over a cup o' coffee -- our Lord is so merciful! I rejoice in His great kindness! Easter was only a few weeks ago but I am still reflecting on it.
This year Easter was different for me.
For as long as I can remember my Easters as a Christian have been marked with shame and sorrow. In preparation for the holiday I spent days remembering how my sinful self drove Jesus to His cross; I let the holiday become a reminder of sin and shame instead of a reminder of the victory I have in Jesus.
This year I dared to think differently.
I chose to rejoice, to sing.
Instead of weeping over past sins I chose to believe in the peace God's redemption guarantees.
Rather than focus on personal holiness I remembered that
Of course, I believe that there is a time to remember why Jesus came to the cross; to reflect on His work in our lives. But I am convinced that God is more glorified by a rejoicing, thankful spirit rather than a sorrowful soul.
And the amazing thing is that my Easter was lovely. I was away from family, had a darling husband who worked, alone in my little home.
But I was so glad -- Jesus has saved me and I am redeemed -- why shouldn't I rejoice?
It has taken me a long time to get to this point; some days I discover I've jumped back into the mud of despondency and sorrow. But Jesus carries me through and for that I will rejoice.
What blessings have you discovered lately?
With love, blessings and raspberry tea,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"All Day I Did the Little Things ..."

The Blue Bowl

All day I did the little things,
The little things that do not show;
I brought the kindling for the fire
I set the candles in a row,
I filled a bowl with marigolds,
The shallow bowl you love the best --
And made the house a pleasant place
Where weariness might take its rest.

The hours sped on, my eager feet
Could not keep pace with my desire.
So much to do, so little time!
I could not let my body tire;
Yet, when the coming of the night
Blotted the garden from my sight,
And on the narrow, graveled walks
Between the guarding flower stalks
I heard your step: I was not through
With services I meant for you.

You came into the quiet room
That glowed enchanted with the bloom
Of yellow flame. I saw your face,
Illumined by the firelit space,
Slowly grow still and comforted --
"It's good to be at home," you said.

   - Blanche Bane Kuder
Some days we never finish all that we intend to do. But the reward of a husband returning home -- one man happy to be in the embrace of his woman, content to sleep under faded comforters and eat simple meals -- seems to make every chore, every project, every list worthwhile and even enjoyable.
A dear friend of mine shared this poem -- I couldn't help but fall in love with it.
Love and blessings,

Monday, April 13, 2015

Joy in the Waiting // Baby Love Part 3

It's a snowy, gray day in March. A day made for inside activities, cocoa and good conversation.
But there's something missing.
Or rather, someone.

Sweet reader, you've walked through my inner thoughts and learned about my love-hate relationship with children (hehehe .... that sounds so intense) and then discovered the beautiful (in progress) work God has done in my heart -- I no longer fear having babies and instead find a growing desire for them. To finish our series I want to write a little on what happens when you want a baby but it seems to not happen.
That someone missing is a little squirming bundle, a happy toddler making messes, cluttering the apartment with wipes and toys and a hundred pacifiers. A child of our own.  
From my perspective waiting on anything is hard. We want to grow up, marry, keep our own homes, become missionaries, have babies ... contentment is a hard thing especially when we are waiting for something good. We cannot imagine that there could be joy in the waiting.
All my life I have struggled with anger, frustration, sorrow and discontent when it seemed God was saying, "Not yet, dear one. Wait on my timing. And in the mean time, find joy."
It was and has been very difficult.
But, praise God, it is possible.

Over the course of my twenty-five year long lifetime I've unearthed a few ways to practice contentment; simple steps to finding joy in the waiting:

1. Realize that it is okay (and normal) to be struggling.
This. Is. Huge.
The first step to contentment, I've found, is realizing that it is okay to hurt, want and ache. If it is a good thing (marriage, children, using your likes and talents to save the world ;) then it's okay to want it. You are not bad for desiring a good thing. After you've realized that it is okay to struggle remember that ...
2. God is enough in the meantime.
(This is also huge ;)
When we forget that our relationship with Jesus is more then enough we become shipwrecked on an island of self pity, anger, jealousy and a nonstop struggle to get what we want.
I've been there. Countless times. And, friend, it is no picnic being stuck in such a terrible place.
If you find yourself forgetting that God is more then enough take a step back. Practice thankfulness. Thank God for your life, the sun outside, the clothes on your back. Bless you parents. Bless your spouse. Bless anyone and everyone. Being thankful is the key to remembering that God is more then enough. And when you've remembered that you really can be happy without getting what you want ...
3. Pray and prepare.  
Ask God for your heart's desire; ask in faith and with courage. The Bible tells us to do this!
And, while you pray, prepare.
Do you want to be married? Discover what makes an excellent wife and study that. Do you want to be a mother? Learn about childbirth, medicine and observe other awesome moms. Do you want to go to college or step out on the mission field? Prepare yourself by serving in your local area; study, learn, grow. Don't fool yourself into wasting the time God has given you; if He has given it then it is for your good.
Once you have remembered that it is okay to hurt, that Jesus is more then enough, and to pray and prepare you will discover joy in the waiting.
It isn't easy (and does not always feel good) but choosing contentment over frustration will prove to be a blessing every time.
Question: What have you been waiting for? Have you discovered any beautiful blessings while you wait?
With lots of love, blessings and snowflakes!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Bramble Cottage // Favorite Things Series

Hey there, sweet peoples!
So happy to be introducing this fun, new series. A Few of My Favorite Things will be a be a summer-time place where I'll share favorite blogs, lovely things, music, and encouraging books with you. Basically, it will be a place of interacting and inviting you into my life as I share what has been in my home and across my laptop screen. Giveaways may even match ... super fun!
This week's favorite is the blog, Correspondence from Bramble Cottage. Kristin, the beautiful soul behind the screen, is a longtime friend who is married to her John and raising two adorable girlies. Her writings delight, inspire and bless.
My womanly heart has been blessed by Kristin's poetry and I have laughed when reading her baby daughter's day-to-day journalings ... yes, dear soul, you need to visit Bramble Cottage. Take a cup of goodness when you go ... you'll be scrolling for a while. ♥
I have to share a glimpse of Kristin's flower garden -- isn't it magical?
With lots of love and sunshine,
// photo credit belongs to John and Kristin Hollback //

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Around The House // Bunnies, Plants and Eggs

Spring has sprung around our little place and with it comes new beauty, fresh greenness and plenty of song birds.
Oh, and a heavy dose of spring fever.
I've been itching the last several weeks for the colder days to pass; while I wait, I have been making tiny adjustments in our apartment. I think wiping the dust from our homes, airing out rooms and decorating in simple ways is an excellent way to usher in the joys of spring.
In the kitchen, two bunnies (Mr. Salt + Miss Pepper) have found their way on the bakers wrack. A little jar is filled with flowering weeds a little friend gave me a few days ago.

While I wash dishes the (deliciously yummy!) scent of eucalyptus wafts from the front window. I found a bunch for $2.99 at Trader Joes. :)

Tiny spring touches have come to the living room. Do you remember the spray-painted branches I made in February? They are now "blooming" with yellow and white tissue paper blossoms.
(Heeheehe, you may also see dirty laundry waiting to be watched. Ooops! :)

A little rocking chair was recently given to us by sweet friends ... I love my new seat as it is perfect for my height! (No more tippy-toe rocking for me! :) The chalkboards have phrases like "Alleluia" and "Abundant Mercy" scribbled over them in an effort to bring Resurrection Sunday to mind.

The rest of the living room is decorated with tiny pastel colored eggs from Hobby Lobby. Dalton enjoyed tucking them into different places around the house. He is such a cutie. :)

Out the door our flower bed is beginning to grow -- since this is our first spring here I am unsure as to what will be coming up but I think we have some roses, daffodils and tulips among the mix.
Last week I enjoyed laying new mulch over the dead leaves. Our neighbors (who are avid gardeners) were so kind in offering their bags of mulch and soil. Lord willing, D and I will try to grow some veggies in containers along the small driveway.

Does anyone know what this little beauty is?

Look closely and you will see our friends Miss Dove, Mr. Squirrel and three different feathered ones enjoying the bird feeder my daddy gave for Christmas.
I would *love* to see how you are ushering springtime into your homes and lives. Are you spring cleaning? Redecorating? Finishing finals? Trading in hot drinks for summer time treats like iced coffee?
Tell me what's going on -- I'd love to know!
With lots of love, blessings and hugs,

Monday, April 6, 2015

How God (Totally) Changed My View // Baby Series Part 2

(Aren't my nephews as cute as pie and just as eatable?)
I'm a woman of many contradictions.

One of the most difficult contradictions I have experienced is my great desire for (and also fear of) having children.

When we didn't get pregnant within the first six months of our marriage I panicked. "What if we cannot conceive?" "What if I am never able to give my dear husband a baby of his own?" (Dalton loves children! :)

Then there were moments when I thought we could be pregnant; when all the signs and symptoms told me to invest in a test and begin planning. I panicked during those moments too. "What if I'm not a good mom?" "What if I'm not ready?" "What if I like my life too much as it is?"

I was ashamed of my feelings. I wanted to be pregnant yet when the possibility was there I was terrorized. Thankfully, the Lord has worked (and continues to work) miracles in my heart. He has also given me grace to learn why I was afraid. Below, I have written three reason for my hesitancy towards having children; maybe one of you can relate?

 I was afraid of being pregnant because I had never taken the time to decide if I really wanted children. Children are blessings, gifts from our Heavenly Father, and they should be desired and thanked for! But as a Christian, conservative woman I had allowed myself to believe that having children was the godly thing to do -- mere duty instead of privilege. I had allowed my false belief to taint the way I viewed children; if babies are merely expected jobs then joy is lost. It was only after I was married and faced with the possibility of pregnancy that I began to see that I did in fact want children. I wanted them not because it was expected or the godly thing to do ... I wanted them because they were true blessings!

I was afraid because I was selfish. When I find more happiness in controlling an environment than enjoying/blessing the people within the environment I am being selfish. When I let myself get angry over a messy room and forget that these little people are people I am being selfish. When I love my life more than having someone new to share my life with I am being selfish. I was afraid of having children because children are a big commitment! :D I had to come face to face with my selfishness and call it for what it was ... sin.

Finally, I was afraid because I was uninformed. This was really important for me to realize. I was afraid because I was afraid! :) For some reason, I knew nothing about birth (and watching one show of "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant" on TLC did not help the matter ... talk about freaky!). I was afraid of the pain, the weight gain and the body changes which often accompany pregnancy. I was afraid of the natural (and beautiful) process of birth. I was afraid of pregnancy because I was uneducated.

Since then, I've been reading about childbirth, natural labor and all that is involved. I was blessed to be apart of my sister's delivery. As I learned, the fear and anxiety magically began to drift away. I am still learning and so thankful to know that God will keep working in my life! :)

Have you ever struggled with the thought of having children? Or maybe you are one of those strangely awesome ladies who have that part of life all figured out? No matter who you are, do leave your comments. I'd love to learn from you!

With love, coffee and sunshine,

Friday, April 3, 2015

Faith, Feelings and C.S. Lewis // Coffee Series

Happy Friday, sweethearts!
Hoping this day is lovely for you -- full of quiet joys, peace and freedom to love and be loved!
Recently, someone shared a this quote from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity; I was encouraged, inspired and motivated I thought it the perfect thought to share this Friday. Savor, relish and enjoy the fact that faith doesn't have to be based on feelings -- and live this moment by feeding your faith through God's Word, promises and prayer! With love to you!

"Now Faith . . . is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods. For moods will change, whatever view your reason takes. I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. This rebellion of your moods against your real self is going to come anyway. That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods 'where they get off', you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith.
The first step is to recognize the fact that your moods change. The next is to make sure that, if you have once accepted Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be deliberately held before your mind for some time every day. That is why daily prayers and religious readings and church-going are necessary parts of the Christian life. We have to be continually reminded of what we believe. Neither this belief nor any other will automatically remain alive in the mind. It must be fed."

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Little Pleasures // Homelife

Simple little pleasures like adorable eggs, soft cartons and sunshine in apartment windows are making my days sweet and nice.
It's our second April together as a married couple and it has been so sweet.
And just like Anne said, it isn't about the splendid or wonderful; it's more about the little pleasures which sweeten each day. Be sure to tell of your little joys -- I'd love to hear them!
Blessings and love and coffee,

Monday, March 30, 2015

Awfully, Painfully, Terribly Awkward // Baby Series Part 1

I have a love-hate relationship with children.

I love the idea of children, the joy they radiate and the feelings of motherliness I get when I tend to them.

But I struggle with the real deal, the in-your-face with peanut butter and jelly stains, rambunctious and sometimes naughty reality of children.

p.s. I'm laughing as I write this article. Just so you know, I don't hate children (at all). But I am terribly, awfully, painfully awkward around them ... let's proceed with examples.

Growing up, my sister and I babysat as a team. Allie was the fun, game playing, diaper changing, order-keeping sister. And while she kept the children at bay I enjoyed cleaning the house. Having inherited my dad's fear of holding small, plushy babies I didn't learn how to properly change a diaper until I was nineteen and hired at a daycare. (Can you imagined my boss' thoughts when she learned her employee didn't even know how to change a diaper!? HA!) At twenty-five I battle being irritated with the quirks of students.

Some women seem to love everything about children ... I get cranky after one hour of babysitting.

My mom encourages me that it will be different when I have my own children. And while I am grateful for the encouragement I can't but wonder what I can do to change. How can I learn to thoroughly enjoy children, to discover the joy in the mess? How do I change a twenty-five year old habit when I'm serious minded and more prone to adult conversation than play?

Prayer and time.

I'm convinced that these alone will change my attitude. I don't want to just be tolerant -- I want to accept unreservedly.

Coming up, I will share how God has been changing my heart toward children. I'll also write a little something on the patience in waiting for a child. Both are relevant to my life today.

Question: Do you relate well with children? If not, how have you learned to overcome? I'd love to learn from you --  and laugh with you too!

With love, coffee and blessings!
p.s.s. My friend Angel wrote an excellent piece on this very topic so if you love children, want to learn to love children or love random wedding pictures do check her site out. :)
p.s.s.s. If you're reading this and I've babysat your children before ... please don't freak out thinking I hated watching your precious babies! Ha! Not true. Every child I have watched (and there have been many) are special bundles of personality that I love and appreciate and I look forward to watching in the future.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Springtime Giveaway // Random Acts of Kindness Entries

Hello, dearest ones!
It's time for another beautiful giveaway ... a time for having fun and receiving a little something in your mailbox!
This giveaway is a little different than the previous ones; shall I say it is a little more studious?
Because it is. ;)
But first some background.
Have any of you lovelies heard of the salt covenant? In olden days men would exchange a handful of sand to bind an agreement -- let's say Jeremiah wanted to buy Eli's gorgeous 1 1/2 story, handcrafted, brick, garden home close to the eastern side of Nazareth (fishing rights were guaranteed to the owner!). After coming to an agreement of the purchase, the men would seal the deal by exchanging salt from their individuals bags. The salt would be inseparable once entering the other's bag and an honorable and binding covenant would be formed.
That is a salt covenant ... and when Dalton and I married he presented me with two bags of our own. It was a fun, special and meaningful way of forming a covenant with each other. And now the two little bags sit atop our bookshelf -- a tangible reminder of our covenant to love, honor, serve and bless each other every day till death do us part.
The most important aspect is that God created the first covenants between Himself and man. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then you have been accepted into a life-long covenant. What a joy it is to know are salvation and inheritance is promised and secure!
So, if you would enjoy learning more about the principals of the salt covenant and would also like to have two of your own (cute) salt bags this is what you need to do:
I'm sure you noticed that this giveaway is different then the usual ... That's because Dalton and I have been talking about the importance (not to mention fun!) of bringing real life in to our blogging communities. We both felt that this easy way of entering a giveaway would be a great start.
Question: Do you like this idea? What would you do differently?
I cannot wait to see the creativity and fun this giveaway can bring ... blessings to each of you! 

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