Monthly Archives: April 2014

Spring Cleaning Step 2: Purge

spring tip 2 purge
Welcome to Spring Cleaning Tips (for the Home and the Heart). Yesterday, I established how I prepare a room and my heart for a cleaning-spree. Today I will focus on the bulk of the work: the purge. The process to de-clutter the house and one’s heart of selfish desires can be exhausting work. So grab an energizing smoothie or a tall iced coffee and join me for...

Step 2: Purge.

Sort through each room: every wall, closet, drawer, box, and floor. Every item is subject to the following questions:

  • Does it add value to my life?
  • Have I used it in the last year?
  • Is it easily replaced?
  • Will it add value to someone else’s life?

If the item is not a “keeper,” it gets placed into one of the prepared bins: Garbage, Sell, Give Away.

As more items accumulate into the “give away” pile, I repeat John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

spring tip 2 purge verse

Also, I use the growing trash pile as a visual for the sin and selfishness that God is cleaning out of my heart:

  • I trash my pride in self-sufficiency.
  • I throw away the growing feeling of jealousy over other’s homes.
  • Let all rude talk be tossed out!

It can be difficult to let go of certain items in my home. Even though my blue sweater doesn’t fit anymore, I don’t want to lose it. I know certain books, magazines, and movies aren’t healthy to keep in our home, but I struggle to part with them.

I think we hang on to our sin nature in a similar way. This song is a huge encouragement to me when God purges me of relationships, habits, and desires that don’t belong in a daughter of God:

There you have it. Purge and repent… and see your life looking more like Christ’s and your home more like the simple sanctuary our families need.

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Spring Cleaning Step 1: Prepare

spring tip 1 prepareSpring is (finally) here and summer is fast on it’s heals. For those of us in the western states (like my gorgeous Wyoming), it has been a long hard winter. The cabin fever was definitely taking a toll on my husband and I by mid-Februrary. Now it is April, and I have taken on a much needed purging project of our home… if only I can stay inside long enough to conquer it!

Here’s my first step in cleaning my home, and my heart, to better glorify God.

Step 1: Prepare.

  • Light a candle: It instantly makes the room feel pleasant. It also reminds me of the presence of God working in my heart.
  • Set up 3 bins labeled:
    1. garbage
    2. give away
    3. sell.

If I can’t find a place for an item while I am cleaning, it goes into one of those bins.

  • Invite God to work: I prepare my heart for the Holy Spirit’s work by singing “Here For You” by Matt Redman.

Let our praise be Your welcome
Let our songs be a sign
We are here for You

We welcome You with praise
Almighty God of love
Be welcomed in this place

spring tip 1 prep verse

  • Start with a clean space (home)/Come as you are (heart): 

In my home, it is hard to sort, purge, then organize things if they are not ready to be put away (like dirty dishes and clothes). Starting with a clean space gives me a good baseline to work with.

The complete opposite is true in my spiritual life. So often I want to “clean up” before I meet with Jesus. For instance, if I have caught myself gossiping or talking rudely, I want to give myself a couple days to speak kind words, blog about the evils of gossip, and diligently guard my tongue. After I have “cleaned up my act,” then I will sit down and meet with God. I feel my repentance is genuine and proven, so there is no need to feel guilty anymore.
There are two major flaws in this approach to spiritual spring cleaning:
1. I am relying on my own perceived ability to wash myself clean.
I don’t want to turn to God for sanctification, I want to do it myself. It gives me a sense of pride and control. This good deed, of course, is covering sin with sin, and appears like further filth in Gods eyes (filthy rags). My spiritual tidy-up is not a true form of repentance.
2. My “cleaning up before coming to Jesus” isn’t needed.
On the cross, Jesus said “it is finished.” Past, present, and future sins have already been paid for through HIS work. My “work” to pay for it is just a joke, and perhaps slap in the face to the One who died for them.
spring clean prep quote
Instead, I should come to God wholly acknowledging my dirty cluttered selfish heart.I can do so with confidence and gratefulness because I know God already sees the finished product: a clean, organized, shining image of His Son. The Holy Spirit does the work to reconcile my perspective with God’s, and I remain humbly thanking Jesus for His payment for it all.

As you tidy up a room before deep cleaning, take a moment with me to acknowledge our helplessness before our God “who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

 

Campfire Check In:

These simple ideas help me get into the groove for deep spiritual and domestic cleaning. How do you get ready for a cleaning-spree?

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Twins-in-Progress: Week 26

26 weeks

26 Weeks: April 20-26

How far along? 26 weeks (6 months, 2 week)

Babies size: about 2 lbs. each!

What’s new with babies? Making melanin (skin pigment) as I am trying not to burn mine in all this sunshine!

Exercise: Doing well with the healthy habits. My doula and dear friend and sister-in-law keeps me accountable 🙂

Best moment this week:  Meeting my friend Kelsey’s brand new baby Whitney! Visiting her at the hospital made me so giddy to meet our babies. Been having lots of dreams about D-day. Unfortunately I wake up disappointed that they aren’t here yet. I am too excited!

What do you miss/NOT miss?  I miss cold-cut sandwiches, stamina, and laying on my back.

Babies’ Movement: Lil’ Lefty is much more active now, finally keeping up with her brother. This means I can sit down and watch my tummy do contortionist style movements all day.

Food cravings: I feel I disappoint everyone who asks about my food cravings. No “pickles and ice cream” for me. Just normal stuff.

Genders:  a Boy and a Girl.

Kids room prep: I picked out a pallet this week:IMG_4446

Walls: Sea Foam Green and Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I hope to paint the dresser in this Warm Gold and use the Peach-apricot for accents. I think it will complement the nature-adventure thing we have going so far. I don’t know about the babies, but I think I am going to enjoy spending lots of time in that room 🙂

Labor Signs/prep:  I am focusing more time on not “hammocking” the babies. By sitting up straight and maintaining good posture, I hope to ensure babies are facing my back (not sunny side up). They will “recline” against the front of my tummy instead, giving them optimal position for chin-tucking on delivery day. It’s definitely not as comfy, especially when I am watching TV or working at my computer, but I want to be as proactive as possible.

Symptoms: I had another rough week of balancing rest and productivity. In doing so, I eat quickly, which leads to indigestion. Sometimes I think I have pre-term labor signs, but God is faithful to keep me from becoming anxious and help me differentiate between digestion issues and actual labor.

Mood: Working towards those good habits again has really helped my moods.

Lullaby of the week:  I Dream of You by JJ Heller… it quite accurately describes my week 🙂

by the way, JJ Heller has written an adorable children’s book about dreams. I look forward to sharing it with our kids someday:

Truth I’m dwelling on: God’s love is endless! As many smiles I may have while dreaming of our son and daughter (and world traveler too), He has so many more for me, and for them as well!

Looking forward to: the camping themed co-ed baby shower our friends are hosting for us this Sunday (I’ll post about it next time!)

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Spring Cleaning Tips (for the Home and the Heart)

spring cleaningAnyone gearing up for Spring cleaning!?

As we prepare to move into a new home and welcome two new humans into our life, I have been compelled to conduct an epic pre-move purge.

I have also committed to opening my heart to the Holy Spirit’s Spring cleaning in preparation for the coming changes.

My anthem for this journey is this:

Psalm 139

 

As I search and “try” each aspect of our home, I am asking God to do the same in my heart. (My pup is less than interested in this adventure and will probably continue sleeping through it all.)

For the next few days, I’ll be posting my steps to empty both my home and heart of what doesn’t belong. I hope you join me for this time of sanctifying our homes and hearts, from the inside out.

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Campfire Check in:

What room needs the most attention in your home? How about your heart?

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Throw Back Thursday: 4 ways to Celebrate May 1st

May Day Girl's night, 2009
May Day Girl’s night, 2009 (what is happening with my face?)

A little Throw-back Thursday: I posted this bit about May Day last year, but it’s worth another read. Enjoy!

May Day is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year. I have to thank my neighbors for sparking this excitement in high school. After moving into the neighborhood, we didn’t know many people well. But one special day, the 1st of May, we received a sweet small basket of flowers and candy on our front porch. Eventually, we figured out who gave it to us, and I have kept the favor going ever since.

Today, I want to share my favorite traditions for the holiday. Some are old and founded somewhere in Europe, others are my own yearly habits that everyone can enjoy.

IMG_2851Delightful Ding-Dong-ditch: Prank your neighbors with kindness. Drop off a beautiful basket to brighten their day. Just remember to catch them before they leave for work/school, or the goodies might freeze/go bad. If you plan to give home-baked goods, you may want to break the tradition of being anonymous; let your neighbors know you aren’t a creeper.

Lei Day!!! Hawaiians have their own tradition for May 1st: put leis on everything! I plan to join them this year, and I hope to pass on a few leis to friends (and perhaps their cars) throughout the day. My game will be simple: if I give you a lei, you can either wear it for Lei Day, or pass it on to someone else for the same reason.

Leaving a basket for your beau: The morning of May 1st, drop off a basket at your boyfriend/fiance’s front door. Traditionally, if the gentleman catches the lady, he is rewarded with a kiss. Now what girl isn’t loving this opportunity to flirt so openly but still play hard to get?

IMG_2846I go into full stealth mode for May Day with Shane. The first year I gave him a basket, he didn’t have a clue what was going on. The next year, he just wasn’t fast enough to catch me. He enjoyed lemon-snowflake cookies for breakfast, and I escaped without a kiss. He definitely made up for it later, and every May Day since.

8929_142702407834_6513612_n
The baskets prepped and ready

Girl’s Night In: Host a girl’s night to prep baskets the day before May Day. (Or you can do this as a family with your kids. May Day is a great opportunity to teach them the joy of self-less giving, with no expectations of return.)

Ask each friend to bring a dozen of one item to contribute. You can collaborate the loot, swap, and share when you make the baskets. Here are some suggestions:IMG_2847

  • Flowers/Pinwheels
  • Vases (or empty bottles)
  • Bottled Soda
  • Cookies or scones
  • Fruit
  • Candy
  • Gardening Seeds
  • Tea bags
  • Baskets (check the Dollar Tree!)
  • Note Cards
  • Leis (for Lei Day!)

Be unique: 

  • Make your own basket!
  • Make “flowers” out of candy, tea bags, or gardening seed packets.
  • Give a box of bottled soda: empty one soda bottle to use as a vase for flowers. (Thanks to my former neighbors for this idea!)
  • Paint an inspirational quote on a small canvas.
  • Share the greatest gift of all: include a small Bible or devotional book. IMG_2844

Know your neighbor? Give something more unique and personal.

  • If you are May Day-ing your room-mate, include a cute pair of flip flops or slippers in her size.
  • Know a house full of girls? Use nail polish and foot massaging cream.
  • Ding-Dong-ditching some guy friends? Make a bacon basket. Include jerky. Make it manly.
  • Giving some love to neighbors with little kids? Include juice boxes, bubbles, play-doh, or crayons.

IMG_2848Don’t just give a basket to people you know. Share the love with new neighbors, your mailman/woman, or people in a completely different neighborhood (perhaps a low-income neighborhood nearby.) Even a homeless man on the street could use a basket of cheer.

Keep a few extra baskets with you throughout the day. Pray about who God would want you to bless and expect a joyful encounter.IMG_2842

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A Prayer for our Littles Ones

I posted this prayer a few weeks ago for our “Twins in Progress” report. I think it is worth sharing again, for any mama-to-be out there to pray over her baby (or babies). I am so blessed that Paul prayed this over the people of Colossae as our example.

Here is my personalized version of his prayer (from Colossians 1:9-12):

letter from colossians

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Twins-in-Progress: Week 25

20140421-100957.jpg

25 Weeks: April 13-19

How far along? 25 weeks (6 months, 1 week)

Babies size: . Cauliflower heads

What’s new with babies? blinking. swallowing, grasping (hopefully not at each other’s throats)

Sleep:  I am starting to get used to late night hunger, tossing and turning.

Exercise: I started following my 10 habits for a Fantastic Morning Routine this week. Between the Bible study/journal time and the daily walking and stretching, I am starting to feel a little bit more like myself again!

Best moment this week:  Working on the house with my man.

What do you miss/NOT miss?  I miss coffee…. so much.

Babies’ Movement:  I got to hear their heartbeats this week. As usual, our Right Ninja was kicking at the doppler. Lil’ lefty, who is usually much quieter, has started reminding me that she is, indeed, in there. I enjoy most of their kicks, except the ones on my bladder!

Food cravings: Craving oatmeal cookies again. So I made a batch, but they all turned out hard. I don’t have the patience for baking. 🙁

Genders:  a Boy and a Girl.

Kids room prep: Got the trim all painted! Waiting on carpet.

Labor Signs/prep:  No contractions yet. For now, I am trying to balance moderate exercise and putting my feet up. For an all-or-nothing kind of girl, this is really difficult.

Symptoms: Extreme moodiness. I’m pretty sure one of my college students will never ask a pregnant lady for boyfriend advice again. I accidentally broke a vase during our conversation (clumsy prego that I am) and completely lost it. Just when I able to laugh off my weepiness, I sneezed and experienced another first for pregnancy and peed myself a little bit. It was all quite comical in the end and I sat down with a bowl of ice cream and a 90’s chick flick and called it a day.

Mood: In addition to the above hysteria, I have this irrational feeling like I’ve done something wrong. Thankfully, it was the week before Easter! The daily reminder that Jesus’s death and resurrection gives me victory over my mistakes (imagined ones too) is so freeing.

 

Lullaby of the week:  My Dear by Bethel Music.

20140421-110633.jpg

 

Truth I’m dwelling on: This season is quite a process of patience! God reminds me that “Unless The Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain,” Psalm 127:1. This applies to everything: growing babies, filling out adoption papers, purging our current home, and sweating over our new one… So much “work” and yet nothing matters if not done in Christ.

Looking forward to:  Getting the house finished so I can work on little projects for the kids room

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Twins-in-Progress: Week 24

24 Weeks: April 6-12

24 weeks

How far along? 24 weeks (6 months)

Babies size: 1 1/2 lb each! If you are doing the math, you’ll notice they are now gaining a 1/2 pound a week. (No wonder I am exhausted and starving all the time).

What’s new with babies? They have eyebrows! And eye lashes, and a bit of hair on their heads, although for now it doesn’t have any pigment. Judging from our personal history as babies, our kids are going to be blondes anyway 🙂

Sleep: I don’t want to talk about it.

Exercise: Spent some time at the pool this week. Still low on stamina, but I have to start somewhere.

Best moment this week: I love the little things that made every day special this week: Shane praying for me and the twins at night, our moments of singing to them, studying God’s word with our college students, becoming more and more aware of His daily grace.

What do you miss/NOT miss? I miss playing ultimate frisbee and ambitious early spring-time hikes. The sun is starting to shine, and I am finding ways to enjoy it (we have lots of relaxing backyard campfires), but I miss some of the spring-time activity.

I do NOT miss my “monthly cycle”… that business is pretty great to NOT have.

Babies’ Movement: Tap dancing all night long.

Food cravings: cold stuff: ice cream, smoothies, fruit, etc.

Genders:  a Boy and a Girl.

Kids room prep: I’d really like to upcycle a dresser we have. It is excellent height for a changing table, and the drawers are perfect-size for baby clothes. I’d be happy with any suggestions on how to update it! Send me links or pins!

dresser before

Labor Signs/prep: Early in the pregnancy, I would get very anxious thinking about this stage, especially whether or not I would experience preterm labor or have to go on bed rest.  God has given me great favor in this process though, and I still have energy, feel healthy, enjoy the babies kicking, and have no signs of complications to date.

Symptoms: Still congested, but I’m getting used to it. My arms regularly fall asleep, and my right hip is not being friendly. I also have regular cramps in my right leg/foot.

Mood: Oh dear. I dropped my ice cream in the parking lot. I haven’t experienced such heightened emotions in a long time. What a battle between rational thinking and raw instinctual frustrations.

Lullaby of the week: .Quando Quando Quando, by Michael Buble.

“Every moment’s a day; every day seems like a lifetime… Tell me when will you be mine?”

This question consumes my thoughts more often than not. As my mom put so eloquently, “this summer is just one big blank page.” We can’t pencil in our expectations, or even a preferred timeline per say. It’s all in God’s hands. That is a good place to be though.

Truth I’m dwelling on: No matter how rough the night was, I can still rise and shine and give God the glory! Isaiah 40:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you (vs. 1)

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
    they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
    and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and exult, (vs. 4-5)

and you shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior
    and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. (vs. 16)

Looking forward to: our OB appointment next week. Packing up the house and getting ready to move in early May!

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Short of Breath in my Walk with God

I once read that being pregnant requires the same amount of energy as scaling a mountain. The calorie output is about the same as a vigorous hike… all-day-long. I must be reaching “higher elevation” because it is getting harder to breathe. A hiker experiences the thinning of the air… at six months pregnant with twins, this pregnant mama experiences less room in my body for a proper breath.

It is a constant discomfort.

breath of Jesus

Similarly, God makes us “uncomfortable” in other areas of our lives:

  • Changing our identity to look more like Christ.
  • Calling us to share our faith
  • Reminding our hearts that its not all about us
  • Convicting us to repent of sin
  • Encouraging our minds to stop vicious cycles of worldly thinking

Any of those sound familiar? If you aren’t experiencing “discomfort” in your walk with God, could it be that your relationship with Him is at a standstill? You might be on the right path, but if you aren’t going anywhere, how is your faith impacting you, encouraging others, or glorifying God? This is the question James asks of all of us:

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? James 2:14

Still, having an active, or a “hiking” faith, can be difficult. We start to reach new heights and find that it’s harder to breathe. Our perseverance wanes, and we become discouraged. I have let fear and anxiety get a foothold more times than I want to admit. But our Savior is faithful, and He stands ready for me to grab his hand.

When our breath is not enough (as it was never meant to be) we can remember that Jesus offers HIS breath to empower us to be like him! In John 20:21-22 quotes Jesus saying:

“As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” And when he had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “receive the Holy Spirit…”

I hope this encourages you when you feel “short of breath” in your walk with God this week. And don’t forget to enjoy the view from the new heights God is helping you reach in your walk with Him!

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Earning your Stripes: why celebrating stretch marks in pregnancy is GR-R-REAT

stretch marks fb

“NOOOOO!!!” I cried.

I found it… glaring at me from the right lower side of my expanding belly: my first stretch mark. At 24 weeks (6 months), it showed up like a slash mark on my gorgeous baby-bump.

I growled with irritation!

Seriously, I rub greasy lotion on that skin religiously.

I’ve been chugging water like a camel.

I even tried vitamin E oil, till I broke out in a nasty rash that covered my entire tummy.

Grrr, stupid allergies. Ruined my chances for a perfect glowing belly full of people and potential for wearing my bikini proudly again (for my husbands eyes only, of course).

Then I remembered who was listening. Instant conviction settled over me. Not only had my great God, who designed my body to do exactly this, heard my cries of vanity… but so did my sweet daughter inside.

Crap. Now I have body guilt AND mommy guilt.

Thankfully, “there is no condemnation (guilt) for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

It took a few hormonal tears, a pep talk from my darling husband, and a personal resolve to have a holy perspective before I was able to say this, but here is what is true:

stretch marks pinI am earning my TIGER STRIPES!

Each stretch mark represents so much:

  • God’s design of my body to expand and provide life to two little humans
  • My willingness to serve and sacrifice for our children
  • The fact that my belly really did undergo major reconstruction (its not all in my head that I feel huge)
  • I am a woman! I am not a girl… I have gorgeous curves and getting said curves required a little more room.
  • I am a mother. I am not an object. My body is not a notch on the hot-n-skinny scale.
  • I am still sexy to my husband. He compares my stretch mark to a tough-girl bruise or war wound. He says it makes me look more hard-core.

This week held a first for me in my journey of motherhood: guarding my tongue for my daughter’s (and son’s) sake.

At age 2 or 12, our kids are looking to us to define their worldview. I don’t want my son to judge a woman’s beauty based on her lack of stretch marks. I don’t want my daughter finding her worth in clear skin or a perfect body. But this will be their “default mode” if I live from that perspective.

I am taking the words of Jesus very seriously:

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” (Mark 9:42-43)

It is my goal to “cut off” that mentality from my day to day thinking. Of course, it’s not enough just to stop thinking negatively about my body. So I will do as Romans 14:13 says, and “decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”

A bump progress picture from week 23.
A bump progress picture from week 23.

This means:

  • Focusing more on God’s glory instead of my vanity.
  • Finding positive things about my body (see list above) and other’s bodies too!
  • Finding accountability partners who will call me out on my words or behaviors that reflect a negative self-image.
  • Surrounding myself and my children with people and messages that concentrate on glorifying God’s image.
  • Avoiding or addressing media and advertisements that pull myself or my children back into self-focused thinking (positive or negative).

I will no longer growl at my body every time I notice a flaw. Instead, I will look at each part, beautifully made, and proclaim to the world: They’re GR-R-REAT!

My first "bare belly" picture, and you can barely see the stretch mark!
My first “bare belly” picture, and you can barely see the stretch mark!

How about you!? What do your “tiger stripes” mean to you? How do you “cut off” negative perspectives in order to help your family (and self) flourish as an image bearer of God?

*Need to positively affirm your body today? Take a picture, exactly how you are. Include your daughters or your whole family! Post the picture to your favorite social media, and give glory to God for being made in His image with the following tags: #Beautifullymade #thankyouJesus

Want more on this subject? See my post on being overweight here.

 

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