Day 27: Love in the Small Stuff OR Lessons from Baby Clothes

Day 27: Love in the Small Stuff OR Lessons from Baby Clothes

Hello friend! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I only have a few days left! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along for the rest of the series (and beyond…). You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

31 Days Banner

God is so gracious in often giving me very tangible lessons to help me understand intangible concepts. I appreciate how He stoops low to get on my level and help me understand new things about Him, His ways and His goodness, when I’m willing to be still and listen.

This week another one of those moments occurred to me, and I was fortunate enough to be able to recognize it and process it, and apply it to other areas of my life, the way I think the Lord intended.

It all started long before the Belle made her beautiful and timely appearance. I began getting adorable clothes and hand-me-downs for her like nobody’s business. I didn’t ask anyone or mention that we needed any, but they started coming in. First, in the excitement of finding out the Belle was a Belle (and not another Tiger or Bear…) my Mom immediately suggested we scoot out for a quick shopping trip because there was a big sale on, and I was so excited to come home and hang GIRL clothes in the closet! Then, on one of their trips home to visit, my beautiful big sister and her hubs brought a ginormous suitcase of AHdorable clothes that my niece had outgrown.

Then some wonderful folks from church threw a magnificent Baby Shower for me — and once again, the Belle’s wardrobe began filling up. On one last shopping trip before the Belle arrived, where I had a few peaceful moments to myself, I used a gift card to buy one darling outfit I saw that was an excellent price. Before she was born, I had a dresser and a closet full to the brim with clothes for her.

LastTwo 001

{Photo courtesy of Quiver Tree Photography 😉 }

After the Belle’s arrival, the clothes kept coming. Another friend passed a few things along her girls had outgrown when I bought some baby gear from her. And another friend had a box and a tub of clothes she wanted to give me that her little girl had outgrown. And then another friend (from whom I bought some cloth diapers) wanted to share more stuff with me. And my Mom, of course, from time to time spots a cute sale and just blesses me with something else for the Belle — she is above and beyond awesome.

It has been such an incredible blessing — I have literally not bought the Belle a stitch of clothing since the day she was born, and she’s nearly a year old now. And each time I’ve thought I might need to run out and pick something up, instead I’ve discovered that a) I really just need to do laundry or b) I just need to look in the next box.

I’ve done my best to organize all these heaps of clothes that folks have shared with me, and I’ve been in the habit of passing clothes on to other friends as well, like my sweet friend in Charlotte whose precious little one I finally got to meet when we were traveling the weekend this 31 Day adventure was inspired!

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to notice some adorable little leggings with lace trim that I really liked the style of on a baby. Later on, my mind went through an internal monologue thought process like this: Those were really adorable leggings and I would love for the Belle to have some. But the Belle does not need any clothes. I’ve almost made it an entire year without buying her any clothes, which feels like a cool milestone. There are other things we need to spend money on right now. Let’s not worry about baby leggings. [End scene.]

It wasn’t a big deal — I just decided to let it go. Sometimes no leaves room for a better yes, right?

So, last week I realized the Belle had more than enough sweaters for this winter and thought I’d check to see if a friend of mine’s little one who is about the same age might need some so that we could pass some on. She did need a few (have you asked a friend lately if you could share something with them? Y’all, it’s such a good feeling.) My friend was coming over for coffee so I began scrambling around the Belle’s room (which, poor girl, is the one room in our house that is still cray cray from the move) and digging through boxes to find sweaters and some other warm winter gear that I could share.

Finally, I had a box full for her but still wanted to look through a few more things, when I stopped and began looking through a box that I hadn’t gotten a chance to organize yet. As I started to sift through it, guess what showed up?

A pair of leggings with lace trim, exactly like what I’d been admiring on the other baby just a few days earlier.

I hadn’t prayed, Lord, I’d like some lace-trim baby leggings please — so it was such a gift to see Him decide to provide something I didn’t even ask for but He knew I wanted. He is gloriously good in His attention to the small details of our lives, even of things that I would sometimes feel petty or silly to talk to Him about.

He actually, really, truly wants to be such an integral part of our lives that we will talk to Him about baby leggings or coffee or any other small things.

I’d been treasuring this little incident in my heart for a few days when the Hubs and I got onto the topic of the weddings we’re preparing for in 2014. There is some additional equipment on the list that we need to pick up between now and our first wedding next year. But we have other, more pressing, expenses that we would like to take care of first, like whacking away at our debt until it doesn’t exist, and purchasing flights to head to South Africa next year for Goo-Goo’s 75th birthday. {Yeow! I am so excited!}

I felt prompted to share the story about the leggings, which led me to recognize the important lesson behind it, straight from the mouth of Jesus:

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. {Matthew 6: 25-34}

While it is wise to look to the future and be prepared, we should not give it so much interest that we forget to focus on making the right decision today. Each day has enough stuff for us to work through.

And the lesson from the Belle’s closet is exactly that — when I’ve needed it, I’ve found it. Sometimes when I didn’t actually need it, I was still blessed with it. We can trust God for what we need each day. His faithfulness with this small thing, makes me even more amazed at the greatness of just how gloriously good He is.



Day 26: Unconventional Wisdom

Hello friend! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m nearly done! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along for the rest of the series (and beyond…). You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

31 Days Banner

Back before the Bear started reading so nicely, he loved to pretend to read. He had one particular book about Thomas the Train memorized and could “read” it cover to cover. My personal favorite, however, was his lose translation of the story of “David and Juh-liath” as he pronounced it. Even in his simple, heavily paraphrased version of the simple, paraphrased Children’s Bible version, the message still rang loud and clear:

The God of the Universe is a God who uses the brother at the back of the line that nobody expects, the little guy who wasn’t even called to go fight in the army, but was instead left home to tend sheep. God chooses the little guy to slay the giant. God is a God of unconventional wisdom, making unexpected choices which bring about incredible results.

And if you think about it, although we lean very heavily on conventional wisdom, as a society, we still love, and even crave the unexpected lifting of an underdog, the stories where the guy who nobody thought would make it blew everybody away.

nick-vujicicThe story of Nicholas Vujicic is a fantastic example. He was born in 1982 with no arms or legs. You’ve probably already seen one of his inspirational messages on youtube.  Nick has overcome obstacles we might never even dream of just to keep living, breathing and being. {Image source}

He founded an organization called Life Without Limbs, and this is how his website describes it:

God can use a Life Without Limbs
to show the world how to live a
Life Without Limits

Nick has been traveling the world (44 countries so far) to speak to millions of people and share his story. He says, “My greatest joy in this life is to introduce Jesus to those I meet and tell them of His great desire to get to know them personally by allowing Him to become their Lord and Savior. That’s what Life Without Limbs is all about.” {From the Life Without Limits website}

The world would look at a baby born with no arms and legs and wonder: what purpose can he possibly achieve? He’ll never be able to do this or that, someone will always have to do this and that for him… what on Earth is he here for? We might see it as a mistake in the heavenlies: a time when the Lord just plain messed up.

But take a second look. God has used this man with no arms and limbs, but with enough heart for three people, to do what I’d consider the most important job there is on this Earth: He is telling people around the world how much God loves them. He is telling people around the world about the salvation they can find in Jesus Christ.

Before you lean on your own wisdom, and make your own assessments about what’s possible with your life, remember that, in His glorious goodness, God constantly surprises us with His unconventional wisdom.

Paul described it this way:

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. {1 Cor. 1:27-29}

Before you make a hasty assessment of what can or can’t be done, even in your own life — remember God uses Davids to slay Goliaths. Trust Him, and lean on His infinite and unconventional wisdom to make your life story unexpectedly glorious.


Day 25: For When You Can’t Keep Going, But You Must

Day 25: For When You Can’t Keep Going, But You Must

Hello friend! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m nearly done! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along for the rest of the series (and beyond…). You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

31 Days Banner

Among the myriad of stories the Hubs has from his travels far and wide, there’s a particular tale from his time in Scotland before we met that resonates so much with my soul every time he tells it. He was doing an adventure race in the dead of winter. He and his teammates were trudging over snowy highland peaks around Braeriach, the third highest peak in the British Isles. It was hiking, running, and cycling for a weekend, and they were hoping to be among the first to cross the finish line.

I imagine it was simultaneously incredibly beautiful and ridiculously cold.

At one particular rest stop, a teammate was preparing the rations of MREs (you know… the Meal, Ready-to-Eat army supply things?) and didn’t add enough water to the food as he prepared it. Not realizing what had happened, a very hungry and tired Hero Hubs gobbled up his MRE, and quickly realized — by the significant pain in his stomach that something. was. not. right.

Because it wasn’t.

Any water he drank felt like it was absorbed by the dehydrated food sticking to his gut, and if he tried to drink too much, he felt he would be sick. The next leg of the race was his to conquer — traversing a significant stretch of mountainous path in the snow. Already tired, and now the worst kind of sick he had ever felt in his life, he was armed with a packet of gummy bears, and not wanting to knock his team out of the race, prepared to go on.

The slow release of sugar in slowly eating the gummy bears one at a time seemed enough of a boost to help him trudge along, and he began to whisper to himself with each step: You just have to put one foot in front of the otherYou just have to put one foot in front of the other.

It was the longest, most challenging, most soul-stretching walk of his life, but he managed to make it to the next changeover, with the help of those gummy bears and the words that kept him going: Just put one foot in front of the other.

His team didn’t come in first by a longshot, but they finished the race.

Whether it’s a challenge-yourself-good adventure race or a job that it’s hard to keep doing or a season that seems like it’s never going to end, there are times when we feel like the idea of taking another step is just awful.

You might be in one of those moments right now.


For one reason or another it almost hurts just to keep breathing and the end, well, right now, it just isn’t in sight.

I’d encourage you to look for your gummy bears in a very safe place — search for the goodness, the sweetness of God. Look high and low with your every day for reasons to give thanks. Give thanks for the way the light streams through a window. Give thanks for a piece of pine straw, caught in a spider web and floating in a breeze. Give thanks for the ability to give thanks — the mental capacity to ponder the concept of thankfulness itself is a privilege.

And then? Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. The Jesus who humbled himself to a criminal’s crucifixion can absolutely relate to the cross you are bearing. And on the other side of the cross, there is always a Resurrection.

A.W. Tozer points out the important connection Paul made between the humbling and the exalting of Jesus from Philippians 2: 5-11:

“‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’

But notice the next word: “Wherefore.”

‘Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
And that every tongue should confess…!’

This is why I believe God will crucify without pity those whom He desires to raise without measure!” {Excerpt from I Talk Back to the Devil}

Isn’t that an encouraging thought? You are being brought low to be raised up again.

I don’t know what cross you’re carrying today friend. But my encouragement to you is, one foot in front of the other, keep carrying it. There is redemption, there is life, there is being-lifted-by-the-only-One-who-truly-lifts on the other side.


Day 24: Because You Know What They Say

Hello there! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m in the third quarter! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

31 Days Banner

For a couple of years before the fall of 2013 — maybe even three or four years, mind you — one particular thought was swimming in the back of my mind. The Hubs and I had had lots of discussions about it, and as daunting as it seemed, the still small voice of the Lord seemed to consistently whisper that homeschooling was the path He wanted us to take.

But as the fall of 2013 approached, and as we neared the Bear’s 5th birthday, I was grabbing at straws for alternatives to homeschool. We pondered putting him in the local Christian academy and were almost certain that was what we were going to do. At another stage, we planning on enrolling him in public school, and it really seemed like that was going to happen when September rolled around.

Then, a chance conversation with an old friend stirred that whisper in me again, and I realized I’d be running. She talked about homeschooling her eldest, what it looked like for her family, and how great it had been so far. More important, she talked about the reasons she’d decided to homeschool, and they resonated so deeply in me — they were words that had even come out of my own mouth at other stages, when I’d felt confident we were going to homeschool and wasn’t yet vacillating.

Finally, with just a couple of months left before traditional school started, I dove in. I couldn’t shake the deep sense that this was the Lord. I spoke with more friends, asked for advice, ordered curriculum, and kicked things off gradually in September.

Almost two months into my career as a homeschooler, I am so, so grateful we made this decision. It is a privilege to get to teach this clever little guy who happens to also be mine. His reading ability (which was already very good) has improved so significantly just in this month and a half that I get that warm fuzzy proud Mama feeling just thinking about it.

I’ve discovered that he really, really loves science and am beginning to make science a doorway into connecting with him in other subjects. We do experiments and nature journal. We play games to help him understand math concepts. He writes letters in rice or shaving cream while I sound out the associate phonogram during spelling time.

If he needs extra rest, he can have it. He doesn’t have to wake up early to get dressed and fed and out the door for school each morning. And the Bear hibernates, y’all. He falls asleep shortly after his 7 o’clock bedtime and sometimes still sleeps past 7 o’clock the next morning.

He gets to play outside between subjects, bake in the kitchen to talk about fractions… and so much of our work is hands on.


It is exciting to see him flourishing.

Now I’m about to get really honest with you — because homeschooling is not what this blog post is about, and I’m putting my money where my proverbial mouth is.

I think one of the biggest reasons I didn’t want to homeschool — and almost didn’t — was because I cared about what other people thought. There were people close to me whose opinions I valued that didn’t agree with the idea. There were also people I am not very close to whose opinions I didn’t even know but assumed were probably negative, and that bothered me. The practical strangers and acquaintances in our small town who might think we are totally weird for choosing to homeschool our kid when it’s not very common around here? Those were the voices that I almost let make my decision for me.

How sad is that?

I almost completely missed the opportunity to enjoy something very special with my kid for however long the Lord leads us to do it this way, simply because I was afraid of what other people thought.

More important, I almost disobeyed what I truly believe the Lord was calling me to do because I cared about what other people thought.

This morning I spent some time thinking about the things that we humans do, specifically based on our concern of what other people think about us.

We do it to ourselves, and it starts young. How many young people actually want to walk the line and behave well, but cave to peer pressure because they feel the need to fit in?

But it doesn’t end once we finish high school or college and enter the ‘real world’. That’s really when things start warming up. Because keeping up appearances becomes so important to us that we will buy a house we can’t afford and drive a car we can’t pay for with money we don’t have — as it’s been said before — to impress people we don’t like.

We care so much about other people’s opinions, we are willing to jeopardize our financial stability, our marriages, our parenting, all for the sake of not wanting to seem weird.

Dave Ramsey has a great course for helping people take control of their finances. In the Total Money Makeover, he speaks to this trend and says “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like” and instead encourages people to change their spending habits, work aggressively to get out of debt and get in control. He says,

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

It is very, very hard to make it in this world if your constant concern for your every decision is what other people’s perceptions of that decision will be. And with the way we live our lives and post our photos and share our every thought on social media, we are perhaps becoming more and more concerned with our public appearance.


Care to march to the beat of your own drummer?
{Image via Piccsy}

But there is an alternative to this madness. And He has a name.

What would you think if I told you there’s only one opinion that really matters? Would you maybe agree, but not change the way that you’re living with other people’s opinions at heart? What if, in light of eternity, we each decided that only one opinion really does matter — and we need to start living that way? How amazing might the people of God begin to look to the world?

Here’s the thing. There is really only one opinion that really matters. You and I have the privilege of being invited into a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. He is gloriously good. {See previous 23 posts for further evidence…} And He will love you regardless of what clothes you wear, what you have in your bank account or what kind of car you drive.

And He has plans for you that might not take you down a path that looks like a big bank account and fancy cars. But. If you are willing to let Him take you down the path He has for you, I can promise you it will be an adventure and you’ll look back on it with thankfulness.

Before Jesus arrived on the scene it was said that He would:

… give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” {Luke 1:77-79, emphasis added}

The decisions you make each day are yours to make, friends. The challenge is not to let the world make them for you. You were made, you were created, for so much more than just being a shadow of who you think the world wants you to be. If you will live the life you were created to live, if you allow the Lord to guide your feet each day — wow, there is such a beautiful path planned out for you. A path of peace, a light to shine.


Day 23: Simple Trust

Day 23: Simple Trust

Hello there! Glad you stopped by! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure, of which I’m in the third quarter! I’d love for you to meet up ’round here and read along. You can find the introduction to the series, and a “Table of Contents” as each day goes live, right here. Thanks so much for dropping in!

31 Days Banner

Looking back on the years that I’ve taken following Jesus seriously, I wish somewhere back at the beginning, I’d started a special journal devoted solely to recording the many, many moments where I’ve sensed the nearness of God as He has provided something I waited for and taught me to trust Him in the process.

I mentioned before that we moved a few months ago. And we moved into a house that didn’t have a dishwasher, or even a space appropriate for putting a dishwasher. The space on either side of the kitchen sink was too narrow, there was no water hookup anywhere near one free spot in the kitchen, the ‘peninsula’ (as in, not an island… that makes sense right?) where my stove and lots of cupboards live, faces the sink and might seem an obvious choice, but with limited cupboard space, it just seems wrong to knock out two cupboards to put it there.

We ummed and ahhhhed for ages about the right spot for a dishwasher. In the meantime, my Mom has blessed me beyond belief by washing dishes almost every time she is here, the Hubs has helped lots and often, and I have drawn nearer to the Lord while thanking Him that I have a window to look out while I wash dishes by hand.

{I know not having a dishwasher is a first world problem and try to keep that in perspective.}

We’d finally selected a dishwasher that seemed like the right one at the right price, and figured out where it would probably go. On the website, Lowes said they had it in stock, so off we went to purchase our dishwasher — an exciting event. We got there, and quickly discovered the website was wrong. The dishwasher was not in stock.

We stood long, the baby astride my hip, and looked at the other dishwashers, but weren’t really ready to make a decision about a different one (the Hubs is very good about reading reviews and making good shopping choices). So we left empty-handed, and gosh, that sure what a bummer!

It was time to trust the Lord was at work when we had to go back to the drawing board.


A few days later, my Mom was on the phone with a funny bit of news: a friend of hers wanted to know if we wanted her dishwasher. It worked perfectly fine, but she wanted a new one to match the other appliances in her kitchen.

Om… yes!

Not having to actually buy the dishwasher made having to pay a plumber to run a line under the house so we could install it in a new spot and a carpenter to build the cabinet around the dishwasher (really… this seems to be the only way) a much more manageable project.

We sensed the Lord’s kindness in the delay… He showed us how trustworthy He is.

Do you ever simply ask the Lord for something? I don’t always remember to ask, but I know I’d spoken to Him about that dishwasher more than a few times. When something seems missing or you’re looking at a bill you’re not sure how you’re going to pay, is your natural inclination to lean on your own self-sufficiency or to trust?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. {Prov. 3:5-6}

Trusting often requires a patience that is not in line with our modern way of thinking. We are members of Amazon Prime and enjoy the benefit of free two-day shipping on almost anything we order. While I used to wait weeks, even months for a package to make its way from the USA to South Africa, now with a point and click on Monday, I can count on seeing UPS roll up around lunchtime Wednesday.

When we order something somewhere else and have to wait more than three or four days, we now think Gosh, this sure is taking forever!! When will it BE here!!

The Lord, however, is not a dressed-in-brown-delivery-guy ready to answer your every whim and request. He absolutely does give good gifts to His children and it is good to turn to Him and to ask.

There are three answers my kids often get when they ask for something: Yes, No or Not Now, and I imagine it is the same for us. God has our best interests at heart when He says each of those three things.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to ask (and sometimes to keep on asking) to trust (and keep on trusting) and to wait to see the Lord make His will a present reality. He is so trustworthy.

Have you seized an opportunity to trust and wait on God? I’d love to hear what happened in the comments!