Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Summertime in Minnesota

I have attempted to update this little space many times in the last few months – only resulting in about a dozen awkward started-but-never-finished drafts. I’m not sure if its been a question of whether or not I really want to keep writing, or just setting aside time. Regardless, Amy’s update finally inspired me to jump back in, because at the very least I like looking back on this record of memories and journal of life’s little moments.

Because that’s really what life is right now – a lot of little moments. Beckett turned 18-months a couple of weeks ago and I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that my baby is quickly becoming a little boy. At the same time I love watching him grow up. It is so fun to watch him figure out a situation or master a new skill. And about 90% of the time he is really a delight to be around. He loves to smile and laugh, be outside, read books, and listen to/make music.

I think our summer is going to end up pretty front-loaded. We started out with a busy bang – a week in Michigan visiting family, volunteering at our church VBS (well I volunteered while Beck had the full attention of 3 teenage girls who fiercely spoiled him), and a visit from 11 ofour favorite east-coasters (which really deserves a post of its own). Add a few date nights, playdates, and library story hours (which combine 3 of Beckett’s very favorite things – books, music, and BUBBLES), and the month flew by.

Right now July looks like a lot of walks around the neighborhood, happy hours on the porch, and time in the pool, which sounds perfect to me!

Photo credit goes to Susan Schmidt who took these when we were out visiting Maryland this spring - if you live in or near the DC area we highly recommend her!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

My February Survival Kit

So somehow my book loving self just discovered Modern Mrs.Darcy. I’m pretty much in heaven and have an unfathomable number of requests into the library. Plus she has a podcast, which is one of my favorite discoveries of 2016, so I’m doubly in heaven.

Anne recently posed a question that got me thinking:

“What is saving your life right now?”

What a great question for February. November I can handle because there is Thanksgiving and we are getting ready for the holiday season and we might still get a few days of fall. December I can handle because I love Christmas and Christmas decorations. Even January I can handle because I like jumping back into a routine/schedule after the holidays. And then February and March hit…..

So here’s my list:

1. My Faith: With the current politician climate and subsequent protests, rants on social media, and depressing news stories, my faith has truly been my saving grace over the last several months. God provided Brandon and I with a deep desire to seek him and relinquish our fears before the election and that has been an incredible blessing. For the first time in my life I really feel like I have an unquenchable desire to live for God – and I love it!

2. Brandon: Every day this man of mine amazes me. He works so hard for our family and is always looking for ways he can help or encourage me. We’ve had 2 close friends come to us this month with news that their marriages were really struggling, and I am so thankful for the strength of our relationship.

3. Beckett’s Smiles and Belly Laughs: Oh Beckett. I love our little toddler who is filled with SO much energy and curiosity. God is teaching me so much about patience through him. But no matter what kind of day we are having, when Beckett lets out a smile and giggle it melts my heart – every. single. time.

4. Sea Salt Chocolate Chip: My daily vice. Almost every day during Beckett’s afternoon nap I sit down to a sea salt chocolate chip cookie. I make a batch every couple of weeks and then put them in the freezer (because I like them either hot out of the oven or frozen). Brandon doesn’t really eat sweets so I will literally eat the entire batch on my own. They’re delicious.

5. IF: Gathering Leadership Team: Back in the fall I was asked to be a part of our church’s leadership team for the IF: Gathering. Being a stay-at-home mom is great, but as the gathering approaches, I’ve found that I also love having some more intellectual projects to work through. The group of ladies on the committee are wonderful and it has been such an encouraging and stimulating thing to be a part of. (Also the conference is going to be amazing and you should absolutely go – look here to find a site near you!)

6. Lindsay: Lindsay is my neighbor who became a stay-at-home-mom around the same time I did and has 2 little boys. Lindsay is truly a gift from God. When the post-nap pre-dinner witching hour hits our house we head over to Lindsay’s (or vice versa). And watching our little guys form friendships already is pretty much the cutest thing ever.

7. Our Church Community: Living away from family is hard. I am so thankful we have found a church that we love and a community that supports us in so many ways. The friends we’ve made, the bible studies and mom’s group we’re a part of, the teaching we are receiving is all so rejuvenating and life giving.

8. Athleta Leggings: I bought a pair of leggings from Athleta at the advice of my sister-in-law last year (I was mourning the loss of my favorite maternity leggings) and have lived in them ever since. No joke. I’m pretty sure I wear them 4-5x a week without shame – they are that comfortable.

9. Facetime: Like I mentioned before, living away from family is hard. But facetime makes it SO much easier! I’m extremely close to my mom, and Beckett and I probably facetime with her 5-6x a week. Even if it’s just for a few minutes I love that she and my dad can see Beck (and vice versa) and check out his new skills. I have such a love/hate relationship with technology…

10. Podcasts: Like I said, one of my new favorite discoveries of this last year. When Beckett is napping and I’m doing chores around the house or working out I love listening to something. I used to love listening to a morning radio show on the way to work – and podcasts are like the best of that – talk without the music breaks (because I get sick of the same songs over and over again), on a topic of your choice, on demand.

So there you go! Ten things that are saving my life right now – what about you?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Serving God at Home

This past week a woman in my bible study shared her frustration - for months/years she has felt the Lord preparing her for mission work, and yet doors continue to close. We talked a little more and she shared that while opportunities for international work weren't panning out, she had had numerous opportunities to serve her family over the last few months. I challenged her with a truth I've been learning over the past several years - what if her heart for missions isn't meant to be fulfilled internationally, but in her own backyard? What if the community God was calling her to reach were her own friends and family - her own city and neighborhood?

10 years ago I headed to college with big dreams - I had developed a passion for international rights work and thought maybe God was calling me overseas. I spent some time in Kenya and my eyes were opened to a world of overwhelming poverty and despair. But then I attended law school in the city I grew up in and started looking at the suffering in my own backyard. It might look different than it did in Africa, but it was still fierce and prevalent. 

Kenya, 2009

Then I met my husband and God made it clear that he was calling us to Minnesota. Wait. Minnesota?!? I had pictured myself in Africa, D.C., Detroit....but Minnesota? We weren't even living in the inner city, but suburbia! I figured maybe this was a stop-over, a season of life where God was strengthening our marriage and trust in him, rather than a time of answering any "missional" call.

I was so naive. Wherever we are we are surrounded by others who need to know the love and saving grace of Jesus. Currently, Brandon and I are learning the art of "neighboring" - asking ourselves what does it truly mean to love our neighbors? While some attend church, we've quickly realized that many of those going through the steps of practicing a religion are drastically at a loss for a true relationship with Christ. Being a stay-at-home-mom gives me an incredible opportunity to reach out to our neighbors on a regular basis (i.e. our 4 pm daily walks, playgroups, book club, visiting elderly neighbors, etc.).

Neighborhood Playgroup

Additionally, in a world where it is increasingly considered hateful to disagree with someone or hold fast to conservative biblical beliefs, God is teaching me to love, but remain bold in my beliefs with those I encounter on a daily basis. 

"I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me."
1 Samuel 15:20

While it might not seem as glamorous as the global mission field, remember that your neighborhood and community are just as important.