March 26, 2012


"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." --Martin Luther

I believe this is one way our Maker is revealing Himself to you, my little lover of flowers. You adore them. Nothing makes you happier, these days, than picking them.  Truly.  Each time we pass one, you give careful attention to take it in and declare it's beauty.  

You spent no less than two hours picking flowers at the park today.  A few times after being distracted by wrangling two babies, I panicked because I thought I'd lost you. Then, I'd scan the horizon and see that you'd just wandered off a little farther, getting lost in the sloping hills clothed in beauty. 

An interesting thing that I noticed as I watched you is that you don't pick just any flower to join your lovely bouquet. You select with careful precision, passing many suitable-looking (to me) flowers, to choose just the one you have in mind. You stroll and stoop and scan and examine, then select. 

On our way home from the park today, I asked why you loved picking flowers so much and you responded with, "Don't you see? They're the beauty-fullest things that God has ever created."

You're teaching me to behold the wonder and beauty that is ever before me, Dear One.

(These pictures are from a trip to the park last week with your friend, Naomi.)

March 21, 2012

New Normal

These days don’t leave much time for blogging. Most days, I realize by the end of the day, that I haven’t even looked in the mirror all day…and wonder if I even remembered to brush my teeth that morning? No doubt I haven’t brushed my hair. (Except for Sundays…I do manage to brush it on Sundays.)

My days are filled with holding babies. Feeding babies. (Why, yes, that is a picture of Oliver nursing.) Changing babies. Keeping four children alive. (This is often just the goal of the day.) Cooking or assembling meals during naptime.  Cleaning up after meals and sweeping my floor. Repeat.

The bigs are watching more tv than I’d like. And they’re also getting away with more snacks than normal…they’ve found that I’m much more likely to agree with a request if it keeps the peace, these days. Smart kids.

(I've been pleased with how much she adores L and really believes she is her "sister".)
But, slowly, slowly…we’re all starting to adjust and I’m beginning to accept that we just entered a new stage…life can’t quite look like it did 8 weeks ago. I need to set new limits on our schedule and lower my expectations of a clean house.  It’s bothersome to me that I am so concerned about that…way.too.concerned. I'm trying to let that go...

I could gobble these brothers up. Oliver loves having another baby in the house. Truly. He could not have embraced her more thankful for that.
“Enjoy them. Enjoy them…” my aunt’s advice echoes in my head. I’m trying. Some days are easier to do that than others. There are hard moments in the really good days; really great moments in the difficult days. And, just like I discovered in early marriage, the most difficult person to deal with in all of this is myself. Sin. Selfishness. Pride. So much ugliness has been uncovered in this new journey… the ugliness is not new, it’s always been there…I’m just becoming more acquainted with it now as it stares me in the face, amidst the chaos, loss of control and unpredictability. The good news of Jesus and his saving grace is becoming even better news as I am confronted with how much I need it.

March 18, 2012

On "Letting Go"

When we were "home" (in my hometown) for Christmas, I asked my mom and a few of my aunts who all had 4(+) kids, what they wish they would have known as young mothers with several small children.

Two responses that resonated with me went something like this:

"I wish that I would have cared less about how neat my home was. No one really cared but me and I was always stressed out trying to keep it that way. It consumed way too much of my time.  If I could do it differently, I would have played with and enjoyed them more rather than spending so much time on a clean house."

Yep. That response made my stomach hurt. I wish I could tattoo that wisdom to the inside of my forearm.  Maybe after looking at it 95,340 times I'd actually heed that message. I mean, really. Who do I try to keep this home so clean for, anyway? Charlie can operate in a messier house than I  can--he does not even see the mess that I do...and my kids don't notice either. I guess that just leaves me. I've acted like a major jerk to these people that I love so much all in the name of serving Jesus and my family by trying to keep my house clean. I'm pretty awesome.

"I wish I would have learned how to 'let go' a bit more with my children--and by that I mean, I wish I wouldn't have tried to control them so much. It didn't really matter if they weren't wearing the 'right shoes with that outfit' to the grocery know, silly things like that. Too often I was more worried about how their appearance might negatively reflect on me than allowing them to be the silly kids I adored."

Again, such good wisdom here. I admit it: I'm a recovering control freak (which may have a bit to do with the first issue above.) But why am I not most concerned about their character or simply delighting in them rather than worrying about their appearance?

How ridiculous I've been.  And, when I come to think of it, both "issues" seem to be rooted in keeping up some appearance: I'm a really great wife/mom if I can:  (a) keep my house looking like a Pottery Barn magazine. (b) present perfectly well groomed, matching, put-together children that essentially look like GapKids models. I know how foolish that sounds when I put it like that...

So, yesterday my "shopping-girl buddy" (she makes sure I add "girl" every time b/c buddy alone apparently sounds too masculine for my dainty little companion) joined me on several errands yesterday. As we were about to walk out the door, she insisted that I let her wear her Snow White dress-up gown. I selfishly cringed inside, but before I could manipulate encourage her to simply wear the cute dress she had on, I heard my aunt's voice, "learn to let go" reminding me it wasn't such a big deal.  And can I tell you what came of it?

I think that one act of giving up some control really knit our hearts together in a new way. We had a delightful afternoon. Both of us. Together. Really enjoying each other. She lit up each time I referred to her as "Your Majesty" and the princess was given much attention throughout each store we visited.  Most people (elderly men, especially) commented on her dress and knew exactly "who" she was. On our first stop, Kroger, she received a plethora of stickers from the bagger for her royal cuteness. "Mommy, I don't want this on my dress. I want them on my body..." Can you believe something as silly as putting stickers anywhere else but the top of your chest/shoulder region used to bother me? I mean like really bother me. Me neither. How ridiculous. So, I relented and went with the theme of "letting go" and 15 minutes later at the next store, she told me they were too itchy and she was done with them.

By the end of our trip, I decided that costume wearing may just need to be mandatory on all future errand-running. Best behavior and costumes seemed to have some sort of a positive correlation.

I caught this sweet clip of my girl singing her newest favorite song, 10,000 Reasons (what she refers to as"Bless the Lord") as we pulled into the driveway from our trip. What a perfect theme song for all that He's teaching me through motherhood:

March 12, 2012

This is the way...

we go to the store with everyone in "position". Places everybody...

March 2, 2012

Blackened Blackberry Ribs

This is how we like to eat our Yonderway spareribs. The blackberry marinade was inspired by this recipe, but we've made our own adjustments to make it Whole 30 legal. Double the following recipe if you're using more than one big rack of ribs:

1 cup blackberries (instead of other fruit)
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1/8 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sesame or olive oil
1/2 onion
2 garlic cloves (1 tsp. minced garlic)

Blend or process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour the marinade over meat in an air-tight bag or container. Make sure the meat is completely covered with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Grill for 4-5 minutes per side, plus additional time as needed.  We like them blackened so make sure the grill is low and cook them slow and you can't go wrong.