All posts by Becky Rosty

Becky’s First Book is Now Live on Kickstarter!

Joyfully Ever After is a book and video-based, coming-of-age Bible study for young women.

Recommended for ages 15 through 22, this curriculum is designed to be studied in a small group, or in a mentorship duo with a mother or trusted friend.

Through Biblical teaching and compelling stories, Joyfully Ever After will:

  • Empower young women to embrace their identities as children of God.
  • Catalyze mentorship relationships, which are the foundation of lasting discipleship. (Mentor Guide and Group Discussion Guide included in every copy)
  • Extravagantly commemorate each commitment to godly womanhood with a lavish celebration. (An event planning guide, included in the book, will help you dream up all the details for your Jubilee.)

Let’s encourage our young ladies, “your relationship with Jesus matters—let’s celebrate it!”

Count me in!

By supporting this project on Kickstarter, you are not only helping to publish Joyfully Ever After, you will also be the first to receive a copy of the Bible study!

Backer Rewards are based on donation, including:

  • $10 – e-book
  • $20 – e-book + Teaching Video Codes
  • $25 – Softcover Bible Study (signed by Becky) + Teaching Video Codes
  • $50 – Mother-Daughter Set
  • $150 – Group Set

For champion backers, you will receive a signed copy of the book, online access codes to the videos, and the following extras:

  • $500 – Legacy Reward (acknowledgement in Joyfully Ever After)
  • $1000 – Event Speaker Reward (Becky will wave her speaking fees for your event AND acknowledge you or your church/organization in the book)

Ready to join the Joyfully Ever After journey?

Visit kickstarter.com now to make your pledge!
(You won’t be charged until May 1st, and only if the project goal is met).

The goal of Joyfully Ever After is to celebrate, identify, and discover our relationship with God as His daughters and ambassadors. I loved all of it. It has definitely grown my faith.

—Zoie J., High School Senior

PLEASE SHARE THIS EXCITING NEW BIBLE STUDY FOR YOUNG WOMEN!

Coming soon to e-book and paperback on Amazon.com!

 

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Adventure Awaits! (Are you on Becky’s email list?)

Happy Monday my friends! There are some exciting things coming for Becky Rosty (and co!). Be the first to hear about new adventures by joining my email list.

 

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Here’s what you can expect to delight your inbox:

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What do you think, should I get on snapchat or linkedin next?

Thanks for staying in touch!

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A Week in the Life of My Dining Table:

This is our dining room table.

My weekly planner shares space with Titus’s dump truck. Crumbs grace the floor even though one perk of owning a dog should be no crumbs on the floor.

Real life happens here all the time, despite my efforts for ideal meals and clean floors.

Here is what a week around this hunk of wood looks like:

Monday: My hands intertwine with my husbands on top of this table. We pray for the week ahead, our calendars and weekly budget face-up on the table to give us perspective. What is God up to that we can be a part of?

Tuesday: Our table sits untouched today. Kids and I join friends for a physically and emotionally filling feast. Their graciousness to open their home to us was incredibly timely, as a busy day (with less intentionality than I would have liked) left us without thawed meat for dinner. Shane is munching on pizza as he leads Bible study on campus.

Wednesday: A round of Candy Land takes over the Table. We suck on candy canes left over from Christmas as we play. The table gets quite sticky. And I am not even sorry. I extend my writing hour past the twins’ naptime. I kick myself for putting a movie on when they wake up so I can finish a chapter… and scroll through facebook, let’s be honest. So much grace is offered to me here as Evi grabs her own notebook and pink play phone to “work with mommy.” I add on more item to my to-do list: invest affection into the kids. C’mon stay-present mama!

Thursday: On the Table rest mugs of comforting hot cocoa. I sit with a terrified college student, silent prayers constantly rising. An unplanned pregnancy threatens to unravel her, but HOPE in Jesus intervenes. I share the Good News. She accepts Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She cannot stop smiling as she walks out of my home. Beaming with peace and understanding that she is loved and adopted by the Most high God, she begins to see the life growing inside her is a blessing.

That night, we host 3 couples who will soon be embarking on the adventure of marriage. They choose to prep for the journey with pre-marital counseling. We kick off the season with a creamy chicken Parmesan dish and fun proposal stories. Young couples’ love proves contagious to Shane and I. We flirt a little more liberally as we clear the dirty dishes.

Friday: Our Table hosts our favorite meal of the week: Friday Feast! It is Shane’s day off, so we all sleep in and have a big brunch at 10 AM. We break open steamy muffins and lick our lips as we salt our egg-hash-brown mashup. Evi tells us a story about princesses and heroes. Titus interrupts with a tale of Spider-Man. Both use great transition words and vocal inflection. I start to see how much fun it is to impart a love for story-telling into our kids. Daddy kicks off a round of chase around the stairwell, and I push chairs closer to the table so nobody trips.

Saturday: The Table is a mess. It became the catch-all for this end to the busy week. I am annoyed our home isn’t magazine-tidy, but then again, when is that the life I want anyway? Only the moments I am perusing through Instagram or Better Homes and Gardens. When I really look at my table, the sticky edges and mug rings are exactly what makes this gathering place sacred… and beautiful. I ask God to change my perspective and my heart from bitter to blessed.

Sunday: A round of Spoons threatens to scratch the veneer of this lovely table top. But we don’t mind. Our Sunday Night Dinners have made their way into our weekly rhythm, and the cost is well worth the return. We host college students for a home-away-from-home gathering, and this specific night called for extra celebration. Another one of our students declared Jesus as her Lord and Savior earlier that day at a Bible study. Having been raised in a home that did not acknowledge Jesus, she came to our student ministry with an open mind, hoping to find a supportive community. What she received was an invitation into the royal family of God. We celebrated her enthusiastic RSVP with popcorn and card games. Two salvation stories in 1 week humbles me greatly.

This is our dining room table.

Spilled milk left under the paw-patrol placemat has warped the table top on the left side. Crumbs that fall daily have gathered for a perpetual conference under the beam near the floor (clearly a footrest right?).

All this, and yet how can one mama be so moved by one messy mesa?

Emotional mommy-tears are often poured out at this table. Uncontrollable laughter cascades regularly over its beams. Lots of mistakes are made as I push away kids to focus on my to-do list. Chairs get rocked back an inch too far from this table, toppling over to the sound of a wailing 3 year old.

Manners are being learned, bellies are being filled, and hearts are being healed here. The quiet hours of my morning routine here are vastly contrasted by the squealing coloring festival the twins create in the hours before nap time.

Many prayers have launched their way to Gods attentive ear from this table. Much forgiveness and grace is offered here.

Perhaps this is the most sacred spot of our home. So today, I am grateful for our dining table and the crumbs and memories made here.

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7 Gorgeous Ways to Visualize Your Word of the Year

So you agonized over your personal Word of the Year (WOTY) and finally arrived at the perfect mantra, focus, challenge, etc… but now what? I suggest you find a way to VISUALIZE your Word in a way that tangibly brings it (or it’s meaning) to mind every day.

Here are 7 of my favorite ideas:

1. Accessorize with It

In my last post, we explored ways to perceive our WOTY. For me, my Word “Advocate” acts as a scale to weigh my thoughts, options, and circumstances. Having my word printed on this gorgeous gold bar necklace has forced me to acknowledge it constantly. It is so pretty, its purpose is hard to ignore.

Every time I bend over (which is a lot with little kids running around!) this necklace falls down over my chin. At first it was annoying during every downward dog in yoga class; however, soon I began spending these moments praying for my co-gym mates or my little kiddos. And sometimes the bright gold catches the light perfectly in my bathroom mirror, reminding me to attend to my appearance in a way to advocate for the gospel (think: Image Bearer confident in Christ).

I love wearing my Word so much, I want to share a similar necklace with one of you! Enter here then scroll to the bottom of this post for more details on my Word of the Year Necklace Giveaway (Giveaway Now Closed 1/17/18).

2. Paint a Canvas

Full disclosure: I have broken an unspoken rule of the personal WOTY: I have more than one word!

My sisters and I set up a canvas-painting party with our mom after Christmas. I was bound and determined to somehow paint a representation of “Advocate.” As paint splashed from my brush, unexpected vulnerable fears leaked from my soul. What came out instead of “advocate” was a raw but imperative second word for the coming year: F L O W.

F L O W helps me be bendy, fluid, and moldable. While pushing into the intentionality of gospel advocacy is a powerful display of obedience to God, so is an awareness of the Holy Spirit’s guidance and ease-of-burden in the process. My F L O W canvas reminds me of all these things from its perch above my piano, in the one quiet room of the house where I study God’s Word and practice yoga.

3. Make It Your Jam

In the year of “Live Alive,” I compiled a playlist on Spotify that represented our goal to live boldly, fully, and gratefully throughout 2017. Sounding off with Rend Collective’s Live Alive, my Happy Island playlist is still a family favorite. Inviting our kids to add their “live alive” songs added to the joy and ownership for everyone in our family. You will never hear a more eclectic mix of Bob Marley, Chris Tomlin, Disney soundtracks, and James Brown (I Feel Good, I knew that I would, now!). Check it out here.

4. Label Your Year Book

One of my FAVORITE things I have ever done for our family was build an annual photo album on Shutterfly. This brings me to my second confession: I do not pick my word of the year in January. We usually pick it in the summertime before the school year, when we are tangibly faced with seasonal life changes.

Our family year books represent an entire school year, beginning with the summertime beforehand. I organize the photos throughout the year and order the book on Cyber Monday. Our kids look forward to opening their Christmas Eve box and seeing the former year in photos. This year, I added our “Live Alive” WOTY to the front of the book, along with photographed moments in which we were intentional to do some abundant living.

5. Doodle It on Repeat

Art journaling is a somewhat more official and sophistic form of doodling important things, either in an actual journal, or pretty much anywhere you have space to create. One year, my word of the year was Flourish. I represented this word with leafy doodles and flowering patterns of ink in my journals (I end up with several year). In fact, these reminders to Flourish ended up everywhere: random sticky notes, to-do lists, my daily journal, sermon notes, white boards, grocery lists and even a hand-painted canvas. This growing collage of encouragement throughout my home kept me focused throughout the year.

6. Frame Your Word

For 2 years now, my husband and I have attended a small prayer banquet for our local crisis pregnancy center ministry. At the end of the banquet, the staff gives each attendee a blank sealed envelope with a specific Word inside. These words have been powerful for me. Last year, my Word was World Changer. The accompanying verses gave me courage to pursue some writing and speaking opportunities I was wavering on. Invigorated, I immediately framed both Shane’s word and mine and hung them next to our bathroom mirror.

This year, my word was Enjoy. At first, I balked at this card telling me to enjoy the year ahead. Excuse me, I think this card was for someone else; I am Becky Rosty! Enjoying life is not something I need reminded of. So I avoided putting my new word in the frame for months! This week as I contemplated this blog post, I realized I really do need the reminder to enjoy.

2018 is the now-or-never year to finish up some precious life projects. Pressing in to finish strong is not always fun, or glamorous. If I am going to be the aforementioned world-changer, I am going to need to enjoy things that bore me, things that scare me. Or I will probably just not do them. And some things are too important to let go.

Visit our master bath sometime and find our new encouraging words displayed prominently for my daily humbling. (And yes, that now adds up to 3 motivationally challenging Words of the Year, who cares.)

7. Display a Representative Object

In 2016, my WOTY Flourish also prompted me to give a potted plant center stage in my home. The poor thing needed pruning this year, which is incredibly profound when you think of how that applies to my WOTY. Maybe, in order to keep flourishing in 2018, I need a little pruning too?

Perhaps you have a similar Word this year? Find room in your budget to buy a bouquet of flowers each month to remind you to Bloom. Trying to stay present? Grab an inspiring daily desk calendar to keep your focus on the now. Those with Simplify in mind might display a crisp white bowl on their table; make it the family goal to keep the bowl empty, both literally and figuratively.

Congratulations April Rogers for winning a personalized WOTY necklace from Joy in the Morning Designs!!!

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5 Ways a “Word of the Year” Can Positively Influence Your Life

The New Year is still new, my friends! If you are still contemplating why you should choose a Word of the Year, I have some ideas for you. Here are 5 ways a word can positively influence your life in 2018!

But first, let me introduce my Word for 2018:

Advocate.

This word is probably my favorite Word of the Year (WOTY) so far. For our family, it means we never stop looking for ways to make the good news of Jesus’ love famous to the people around us.

I had this beautiful necklace made to daily remind me of my commitment to gospel-advocacy. I am so moved by this piece of jewelry that I just have to share it with one of you! Joy In the Morning has partnered with me at Campfire Grace for this exciting opportunity.  She has reserved a similar necklace for you to commemorate your own Word of the Year! This stunning accessory is 14kt gold, valued at $56!

To enter, add your name and email to the form below, then scroll through all the beautiful designs over at Joy in the Morning.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED 1/17/18. Congratulations to April Rogers!

And now for 5 Fresh Ideas for Your Word of the Year:

1. A Gentle Rudder:

A few years ago, I traded New Years goals for a Word of the Year. Goals felt harsh and bossy. Failure to finish felt crippling. By picking a WOTY, I traded fear of coming up short for confidence of going in a helpful direction. I think of it more as a rudder to my ship than a destination I must reach. This word steers me gently regardless of circumstances: whether I face choppy waters ahead or a steady breeze to push me along this year.

The year of 2017 was filled with moments that left me overjoyed! It also hollowed out my soul with immense sorrow. And yet, my Word helped me navigate each season. My Word of the year was “Live Alive.” In the bubbling laughter of the twins turning 3, I enjoyed the gift of life we had been given. Through the agonizing heart-break of lossed lives and world chaos, I stopped taking for granted this privilege of life lived fully. Each change of 2017, I asked, how can I fully live alive in the midst of this?

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as Rudders: Strength, Trust, Breathe

2. A Perspective Lens:

How our circumstances affect us is largely how we view them. In 2016, my word was Flourish. When my twins were potty training, I kept my eyes open for how I was still flourishing in the frustration of accidents and laundry and lots of tears.

How could you use a specific Word to filter how you see your year? Pick a word like “Giggle” and you might just laugh off the drama in the office. Adopt “Hallelujah” as your mantra, and notice every event as a reason to give praise to God!

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as Perspectives: Whole, Humble, Victorious

3. A Butler:

I want my goals, my word, my ambitions to work for me, not the other way around. It is too easy for me to become a slave to what I want to fix in my life. Instead, the intentional WOTY will work for me.

As a Butler, my Word will remind me to focus on the best things. It will usher in my favorite thoughts first thing in the morning. It will open the front door of my mind only to desirable guests like encouraging thoughts and creativity. It will promptly shoo away lies and discouragement that ask to take residence in my thinking.

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as butlers: Kindness, Intentional, Thrive

4. A Scale for Decisions:

For many of us, 2018 is already intimidating us with the wide open field of opportunities. Soon-to-be-graduates, recent empty-nesters, and everyone in between are facing lots of decisions this year. Why not pick a Word that could filter each option that comes our way?

We get flyers in my mailbox for another kids’ activity. Our Facebook notifications panel is full of invites to support one friend or another in their home-based business party. Our churches are asking for volunteers to lead home based small groups. Our coworkers chatty activity in the break room beckon us to join in gossip. Our mirrors and scales offer the options to self-loathe or keep living fully.

As I already mentioned, my word for 2018 is Advocate. My husband and I prayerfully discovered it together. We can easily filter out (i.e.: say no to) any option that does not help us to advocate for the hope of the gospel among those who live in darkness.

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as scales for decisions: Image Bearer, Holy, Purpose

5. An Ebenezer:

The Bible describes an Ebenezer was a monument or visual reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people. Last year, our word “Live Alive” was in many ways an Ebenezer to God’s care for us through some difficult times. God helped us keep living. God helped us keep thriving! And we could count on Him to do so continually.

Why not pick a word that represents God’s relentless love for you? This word will serve as a rudder, a butler, and an Ebenezer all year long.

  • WOTY suggestions that serve as ebenezers: Relentless, Unconditional, Big Love!

 

*Giveaway Rules:

The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, January 17, 2018. We will let you know on all online platforms (email, IG, FB, etc.) who the winner is.

We can only ship to residents of continental USA. If you are outside the continental states and still want to enter, we may ask you to help cover shipping costs.

Happy New Year!!!

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My New Year’s Yoga Flow Playlist

One of the highlights of 2017 was learning to meditate on the loving care God has for me. The unexpected catalysts this contemplative practice was a yoga class.

The only spiritual connections I have made in yoga are with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am VERY intentional about setting my mind on things above as I enter into each pose. Positioning my body in different ways helps me to open my heart and quiet my mind to focus more fully on Gods goodness.

I have an arsenal of Scripture memorized that comes to mind during each pose as well. I am very grateful for this exercise of self-silence and self-control.

Perhaps this kind of Christ-centered pose and meditation practice might encourage you too! The following is from my Campfire Grace Flow Playlist. Take an hour to ring in this first week of the new year with me. (Follow my Spotify Profile for more other CGrace Flow playlists, including a 30 minute flow and an evening flow.)

If Yoga isn’t your thing, spend some time journaling, sitting in the stillness with a candle and your Bible, or even jogging to these worshipful songs that may just help clear your mind for the new year.

This is the Way God Loves You, by Sleeping at Last

Ease in with slow moving instrumentals. Focus on the deep belly breaths.

*Favorite lyric: none. (But I appreciate mediating on the title as I begin to think about Gods goodness and care for me.)

**Pose: cross legged on the mat, deep breaths **

Touch the Sky, Hillsong United

*Favorite lyric: “my heart beating, my soul breathing, I found my life when I laid it down.”

**Pose: cat/cow variations and child’s pose **

Welcome Here, Chris Quilala

Reaching upward/flowing through sun-salutations are the perfect pairing for this song.

*”Breath of heaven, voice of thunder, in your presence I surrender…”

**Sun-salutation variations**

First, Lauren Daigle

*”Before I bring my need I will bring my heart and seek you first.”

**Warrior 3**

Shadow step, Hillsong United

*”You met me at the sinners table, I found you waiting by the well, unexpected.”

**chair pose, warrior 2**

Simple Pursuit, Passion

*”God take us back to an unswerving faith in the power of your name, a heart beating for your kingdom to reign, a church that is known for your presence again.”

**balance pose, tree pose**

Then the trees of the forest will shout for joy before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth. 1 Chronicles 16:33

When I am Afraid, Laura Hackett

These lyrics share the cry of Psalm 61:2, and empower me every time I hear it. (Claim it and sing along!)

*”There is no peace of mind outside of truth in Christ!”

**boat pose, floor work for abs/core**

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”‭‭ Ephesians‬ ‭6:12-13‬

Closer to Your Heart, Kari Jobe

*”Holy, I get lost in your love. Holy, Full of awe and wonder. You keep drawing me closer to your heart.”

**Hip openers, figure 4″

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”‭‭ John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭

Lay It All Down, Will Reagan

This song may be my most powerful mantra, and by this point in the yoga flow, my emotions are ready to encounter this kind of surrender.

*”Carried on but your heart was tired, feared the worst and felt the fire. Lay it all down. Lay it all down. Filled with all those anxious thoughts, all your doubts became your god. Lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.”

**Biggest inhalation yet, Side twists with a flow**

In the Name of Love, Kari Jobe

*When there’s madness, when there’s poison in your head, when the sadness leaves you broken in your bed, I will hold you in the depths of your despair and it’s all in the name of love.”

**Plow, Shoulder stand, legs up a wall, happy baby**

Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone. Psalm 33:22

From the Belly of the Deepest Love by Tow’rs

Don’t let the trumpets at the beginning throw you off. When I first heard this song, I listened to it 3 times to fully grasp the beauty of its poetry. I am consistently astounded by the imagery of dogwood flowers representing how Jesus took our blame in his own body as he died.

*“I tried to get to you, but you came to me instead. With the dawn, the grave is gone. Oh how you wish to be with me.”

**any final poses I missed, alternate nostril breath**

House of God Forever, Jon Foreman

This song is my signal to begin a savasana (corpse pose). Rest in the calming guitar strums and occasional harmonica. These lyrics are a lovely recitation of Psalm 23.

*“He makes me rest in fields of green, with quiet streams.”

**Corpse Pose**

Come to Me, Bethel Music

A bit of contemplative instrumental to zone in deeper to the love and care God has for me.

*Sometimes I recall the lyrics to the original worship song as I breathe: “come to me, I’m all you need.”

**Corpse Pose**

Note: I have zero professional training in exercise, mediation, or yoga. This is just a little bit of what I do at home to connect with my creator and Heavenly Father through poses and meditation on His goodness.

Feel free to share it if it encourages you too!

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Why Did Jesus Come?

“Why did Jesus come?” I asked our kids on the drive to church yesterday. Our son took a long time to arrive at his answer.

Eventually he responded, “because he wasn’t there.”

His simple, straight-forward conclusion has profoundly impacted me and left me pondering all day.

Jesus. Wasn’t. There.

There was no access to grace, to love, to friendship with God… because Jesus wasn’t there.

Humanity was groping through the spiritual darkness… because Jesus wasn’t there.

God allowed his creation to feel the weight of his silence, the longing in His absence, the sting of their own consequences… because Jesus wasn’t there.

“But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.” Galatians 4:4-5

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” Isaiah 9:2

This also leaves me with questions:

I cannot imagine a world where Jesus was not there, arms open, invitation extended, knocking at the door. But how often to I live my life unaware of His presence? His nearness?

God is With Us!

Immanuel.

But what seems to be more present, more pressing, more there is busyness. To-do lists. Schedules full to the brim. Time and stuff and people to manage. All our attempts at flourishing fall short when Jesus isn’t there.

  • Lord, make my heart attentive to Immanuel all year long. Because Jesus IS here!

Second question: How many of my friends and family still live in a world where Jesus isn’t there?

Clinging to darkness when a gift of light and hope rests under the cross-tree on which Jesus hung in our place. Unaware of the Christ-child who became King, worthy of worship and allegiance and gratitude.

Something keeps this gift at a distance, arms length maybe, or perhaps twenty-nine and a half foot pole distance. My heart aches with a grief that pounds loud sometimes for these, my loved ones without True hope. Because Jesus isn’t there.

  • How long, oh Lord, till they accept You?

On this Christmas morning, my contemplating, grieving, celebrating, joy-filled heart is still blessed. Because Jesus is here, carrying burdens, caring deeper than I ever could, and championing hearts even still as King and Savior.

Oh come let us adore Him. Immanuel.

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3 Executive Decisions This Momma Made for the Holidays This Year

In a century where holidays are hijacked by outrageous spending and overpriced tradition expectations…. I just want to love my family. I began to notice where my Christmas to-do list no longer lined up with love. Time to change things up!

For Thanksgiving, that meant I learned to mosey. For this first week of December, it means I am making a few executive decisions about our expectations for the rest of this month. I hope this turning of tables leads to better awareness of Jesus in our midst as I learn to love sacrificially like He does.

Perhaps you need to take back your expectations for the holidays too! I often remind my kids that the parents are the boss of the kids and Jesus is the boss of Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes, we parents need to exercise a little executive power to reorient our homes in line with our King. Here are the ones that made a difference for us this first week of advent:

1. Bless with a Dress. I do a lot of outfit control for my 3 year old twins. Many a favorite tutu gets nixed in favor of practical pants. However, this week I decided to hand over the fashion reigns, for both my daughters outfit and mine. A mother-daughter tea party play-date is the perfect opportunity to let my daughter explore her taste in style, and affirm it by strutting through the day dressed by my preschooler. With no small amount of glee, Evi dug through my closet and unearthed the only “twirly” dress I own, much like the one she was wearing.

Soon we were a pair of twirly girls ready for the day. She loved it, I only felt marginally awkward. But I held my head high nonetheless. Interestingly, when my husband saw my out-of-the-box outfit, he was enamored. Thanks to a brave moment of saying yes to my daughter, the twirly dress will now be featured more often in the outfit shuffle. It isn’t so bad taking turns in the fashion department after all.

2. Trade Trendy for Timeless. On a last minute whim, I bought bright silver tinsel garland. For weeks, I’ve had my eye on a red buffalo plaid ribbon to wrap around our tree, but the kids are little, tinsel is shiny, and who cares. We bought tinsel.

I also bought batman Christmas wrapping paper. And Disney princess wrapping paper. I kissed goodbye my dreams of brown paper packages tied up with string…with a sprig of eucalyptus tucked in the bow, and calligraphy monographs hand painted on top (thank you Pinterest).

Instead, I will put a pin in these dreams and revisit them maybe when the kids turn 17. It’s going to be one well-pined for Scandinavian-style, minimalism Christmas. Of course by then, it will no longer be trendy. I guess love is the trend I should be setting in our home instead. Let the kids be kids, and enjoy it while it lasts, right? After all, those memories are the truly timeless decorations at Christmas.

3. Stymie Unnecessary Stress. Also a last minute executive decision, I postponed the introduction of our “Shepherd’s Treasure.” We received this adorable Elf on the Shelf alternative as a gift last Christmas from my lovely older sister. She has charming documentation of their shepherd’s enchanting antics in years past, making me really excited to jump in.

The book’s instructions say to start the 1st day of December, however I decided not to. For some reason, the last 3 days of November had me panicked in preparation for the calm time of advent. It seemed counter intuitive that I was getting stressed in preparation for rest. The word oxymoron kept coming to mind.

So I made the executive mama decision: a late start date for our Shepherd was not going to deprive our kids. In fact, this delay was a sacrificial love act. When I release myself from forced Christmas creativity for too many days in a row, I can give my family the greater gift of having a peaceful, present mama.

In the days the twins were still babies, a wise soul implored me to seriously rethink traditions while my kids are little. “Simplify them to start,” she said ,”because it is less stressful on everyone to add a new expectation down the road than to fail a tradition later because you were over-ambitious in the early years.”

I deeply appreciate the freedom I have discovered in practicing this stay-present principle. So we might bring our shepherd out 10 days before Christmas, or maybe 7. Whenever it happens, it will be just as whimsical and enchanting.

There you have it, a few ways I said yes to twirly dresses and sparkly trees and batman wrapping paper (and no to being stressed-out mommy) in order to love my kids BIG this holiday season.

These are all decisions that boss me right out of my comfort zone. Not surprisingly, embracing them has brought more freedom and joy for this season.

What executive decisions have you made to stay-present this holiday season?

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A Blanket Fort of Grace: Stay Present Momma

Today was the worst. Add up unrealistic expectations, a messy house, unfinished projects, coat sleeves turned inside-out, tired kids and an even more tired mom, and we got a group of crying, screaming half-dressed small people in the garage by 11am.

The worst part was, I knew it was all my fault. I had over used my tv-as-distraction tool to get some things done. It was time to head to the gym as we always do. However, I had a project 97% finished and wanted that extra 15 minutes before we HAD to leave to finish it. For me to get that 15 minutes, the kids were going to have to get their own shoes on.

And coats.

And backpacks.

And use the potty.

All of these tasks have been formerly completed in record time by both 3 year olds with no issue… when it is their idea. However, this moment it was apparently beyond reasonable expectation. (It was my idea, after all.)

So there we were, a big mess of unmet expectations. The kids were crying, I was crying, the dog was whining, the wind was howling; we had a choir going. I chucked my jacket into the car with the proclamation my kids have heard too often: “you are driving my crazy!”

I know they hear it too much because I hear Evi repeating it often to her brother… with the same aggravation grating her voice that I hear in mine.

So as I bent to hook a carseat buckle, I stopped short and just said, “you are driving!” As if a preschooler behind the wheel is going to steer this chaotic mess back to sanity-station.

No, the kids should not be in the driver seat. And neither should I, in fact.

“God, would you take over here!?” I prayed.

“Build a fort, mama.” He whispered back.

My heart found hope in that simple prerogative. I abandoned the mission to get out of the house, embracing the stay-in-the-moment resolve instead.

I scooped the kids out of the car, gathered blankets, unrolled a few strands of Christmas lights, and hijacked our living room to stage our fort. I found a treasure chest in storage and filled it with up with books. The children were so excited about their new treasures. We cuddled in the close quarters of our blanket fort and breathed in the rhythmic words of children’s stories.

Tears turned to tickles. Sobs surrendered to warm snuggles. Frustration stepped aside when fun came in the room.

There in our fort, we all found shelter. The lights twinkled under the blankets, and their eyes twinkled under the covering of my affection. And my own heart rejoiced for the undeserved banner of love I receive from my own good, good Father. In that moment, I realized He makes a blanket fort of grace over me every day.

The tears I have now are drops of awe and gratitude.

Perhaps tomorrow I will prioritize a moment of intimacy with my kids earlier in the day. And in doing so, we might end up leaving the house a satisfied and whole group of people on our way to accomplishing something lovely or productive for the day.

That was not how this day began, but I continue to embrace the art of stay-present mothering. In fact, I think our living room full of floating blankets was the kind of lovely and productive we needed.

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

On the worst days, dear mama, let’s build a blanket forts for our kids, and snuggle them close under the blanket of grace God has built over us.

“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.”

‭‭The Song of Solomon‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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Let Go Of FoMo: How to Really Enjoy Your Vacation

“Let’s mosey,” my husband said.

I tried to decipher whether it was a pleading question or a gentle statement.

It took us about 2 years of marriage to discover the importance of communicating expectations for family activities… especially during the holidays. Now after 8 years, this is still imperative  for our relationship.

Vacation expectations are difficult to manage. My mother was the queen of “quick! quick! quick!” during our family travels. Sleeping in was a cardinal offense. If we were going to get as much out of our family time as possible, we better get going. Granted, without her go-getter mentality, we would have squandered many a trip to Disney world and the Texas gulf coast with excessive napping. The quick quick quick queen gets all the credit for the fantastic memories we all have of the experience. (Thanks mom!)

I think I inherited her crown about the time my twins started walking. I see every vacation as a buffet of opportunities. Things to do, people to see, restaurants to taste, places to explore. I am an adventurer, after all. When we venture off from our small town, my heart and mind are ready to ingest all the possibilities.

Contrast my penchant for doing with my husband’s preference for just being. He has no fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). He is not petrified at the thought of losing someone’s approval. He truly just wants to vacate on vacation (imagine that?). Leave the rushed pace of the regular work-week mentality and simply… mosey.

In order to play along with this mosey-mentality, I had to wrap my head around it first. Whereas I assumed it meant laziness or carelessness, the word mosey literally means “to walk or move in a leisurely manner.” That is actually something I would like more of in my life. The luxury of margin in the schedule, in the budget, in my expectations is often out of reach because I have been busy filling that white space.

So for one week, instead of scraping by and grasping at last minutes and last dollars, I plan to mosey. To open up my heart and hands. To loosen my grip on expectations and fear of missing out. To be bendy.

Here is my vacation agenda. More flexibility to enjoy, less expectations to fit it all in. And with every to-do list I write, I include a to-don’t list. These are the things I give myself permission to say no to.

I hope you can join me for a few days of just being.

“Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord — now and always.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭131

PS. What are you adding or taking away from your vacation list?

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