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!

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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 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!

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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 18: Beautiful No-no’s

Hello there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now halfway through! Woop woop!  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!

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Last night, I won a Rock, Paper, Scissors match with the Hubs. And I think that was the first time I’d won in our six and a quarter years of marriage. It was an epic big deal… here’s why.

At bedtime last night, the boys were not particularly rowdy–they were just the same sort of rowdy they’d been the entire day. (Not sure why — maybe because after days and days of clouds the sun was finally shining?) Anyway, I have yet to figure out how, but somehow at teeth-brushing time, when I left the Tank after I’d finished brushing his teeth, while the Bear was still brushing his, I stepped out of the bathroom for a moment with the Belle.

During that moment, the Tank somehow got hold of the travel-size kid toothpaste I’d already told him he could not have and placed in the back of the cupboard and began to eat it. The Bear ran into the room with the grave announcement… “Blakey is eating TOOTHPASTE!!!” and handed me the offending toothpaste.

A few moments later, the mischief (as his Gammy in South Africa aptly calls him) toddled in and handed over the toothpaste’s cap.

We sighed and scolded, and put the boys to bed, and I started the ginormous task of getting the day’s dishes clean and starting a load of laundry.

I need to pause here to explain a different part of this story so that it will all be nicely connected for you.

Ever since we moved, I’ve looked at the den-area and thought this room really needs a rug. For the sake of the baby, to warm up the space and make it feel like home and comfortable in the evenings, it would just be really nice to find THE rug for this space. But I haven’t bought one yet. I found some I really liked at fairly good prices, but didn’t have a peace about buying one, and decided to set it aside and look more later.

The room is currently rugless, which is not an awful thing, not at all. It just is what it is.

So. I’m in the throes of preparing to climb Dish Mountain, when I hear the door to the boys’ room crack open. Through the open plan kitchen-to-rugless-den, I look down the passageway toward their room and see the Tank quietly toddle out, confused, looking down the hall toward our bedroom, and then looking my way and spotting me in the kitchen.

He turns to head toward me, slowly moving into the rugless den, there it is — his dinner all over the floor.

At first, I’m just shocked he has emptied his tummy onto the floor, and busy scrambling, as I call for HH, to think of what to do next. We whisk him to the bathroom, get him some water, wipe off the parts of him the need wiping, strip off the clothes — they definitely needed stripping — and a few moments later, he is his usual, cheeky, smiley self.

After we settle him back to bed, we ponder what could’ve caused it — tacos are a usual event on our menu, nothing out of the ordinary on the menu all day, no other signs of sickness at all. Then HH quickly arrives at the conclusion:

The Toothpaste.


{Hard not to love this little guy.}

It was a little later in the evening when the thought occurred to me to thank the Lord that I hadn’t bought a rug yet. I would have been SO disappointed if he’d puked on a new rug — would it have even come clean?

The principle behind this long story is a simple one, and these verses sum it up really well:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; 
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance. {Psalm 16:5-6}

There are times when things aren’t going the way we hope they will, or when we clearly hear a “NO” when we’re hoping for a yes. And sometimes it’s frustrating. Other times it can be devastating.

We put boundaries around our own children with No-no’s. From a very early age, we hedge them about with things they are not allowed to touch or do, and as they grow older, we choose more and different no’s for their boundaries: No playing in the street. No biting your brother. No drawing on the walls.

Sometimes the No’s are personal preferences, but very often, they are for the child’s benefit. His protection, his character development, his interpersonal skill development, his education.

No’s often lead to a better yes — and we sometimes have that yes in mind when we’re issuing the no. You can’t watch TV right now but you can build something with blocks, which is much better for you anyway.

If we are the children of an amazing Heavenly Father, then we can be sure, He, even more than you or I, is thinking clearly about what questions are answered with “No” and which ones are “Yes.”

When we shift our focus from the primary desire of gathering up stuff to make a comfortable life to “Your name and your renown are the desires of our hearts” we will naturally arrive at a place of trust.

Isaiah said:

But for those who are righteous,
the way is not steep and rough.
You are a God who does what is right, 
and you smooth out the path ahead of them.
Lord, we show our trust in you by obeying your laws;
our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. {Is. 26:7&8}

It takes trust to obey God, it takes trust to put a smile on your dial when you hoped for a yes and got a know. I never could’ve known that my rug would’ve been puked on when I was busy perusing the offerings at But the Lord set a boundary line for me — and in His glorious goodness, I think that might’ve been part of the reason He did so.

Yesterday, we spoke about contentment — and this is where contentment becomes realest real. Your financial situation, your health, the amount of furniture in your living room — if you are living in obedience to God, you can trust His hand is creating boundaries for you.

Sometimes, they are boundaries He’d like you to accept for the time being. {Don’t buy that rug yet.} Sometimes, they’re boundaries He has created with the attention of calling you to rise to the challenge. If your marriage is on a rocky road, the Lord may want you and your spouse to seek some counseling or have some serious heart-to-heart time to find out what is at the root of all the strife between you, and to begin changing the way you interact with one another for the better. He may be calling you to fight for one another in a world that’s fighting to pull marriages apart.

How will you know what to do with those boundaries? Spend time in His Word and listen for His voice. His sheep know His voice, because they spend their days with the shepherd.

His glorious goodness speaks a good yes and a good no — and you can trust His greater plan is at work in both of them.

And about that Rock, Paper, Scissors match? In His glorious goodness, the Lord let me win this one, and my precious, wonderful, handsome and amazing Hero Hubs had toothpaste-incident-related-clean-up-duty.

Bless the Lord for another boundary falling in a pleasant place. {Mark, I love you.}


Day 15: A Heads-Up At Halfway

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m now about halfway through! Yeow! 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!

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I’ve nearly crossed the threshold of the halfway-marker for this marathon of writing, which to be honest, compared to the average length of a publication on the New York Times Bestseller list is probably more of a sprint. Or a 400 meter. With hurdles.

At any rate, I thought I’d take a moment to do a Heads-Up at the Halfway-Mark and share a bit of what’s going on behind the scenes for me as I have the privilege of adventuring into some great cloud of unknowing to look for the goodness of God in unexpected places.

First, feel free to send me a virtual fist-bump and throw in a few of those waving-your-hands-in-my-direction-with-your-fingers-pointing-like-six-shooters, because I have already achieved what I considered a near-impossible task:

Cue the bold, italics and underline. And center:

For two whole weeks, I have gotten out of bed every morning somewhere between 5:30 and 5:45 am to spend time with the Lord and then write what I feel led to write.

My conclusion? I am capable of a whole lot more than I thought I was. I absolutely convinced myself that I would never function on a slightly reduced number of hours of sleep. I was wrong. I was occasionally able to go to bed slightly earlier the first week, but was on holiday with family last week and felt like staying awake long enough to be reasonably sociable was the right thing to do.

Cuz it wuz.

And I will admit when the Belle decided she was too princess for a pack-n-play and woke up MULTIPLE times every night for the entire week of our vacation (not the deal at home, mind you), I was completely surprised that it was only on the car ride home on Sunday afternoon that I felt a sudden risk of collapse.

For most of the week, I actually felt…better than usual.

Beach Boys

 {Uncle Russ and his fan club.}

And I suppose I must also admit there was ONE morning which involved me resetting an alarm thinking I was going to let myself sleep just until 6 am and something malfunctioned and I woke up thanks to the Belle at 6:42.

But other than that, I feel like a champion.

You, too, are capable of more than you think, dear reader, dear friend!

Second, I don’t know if you remember me mentioning in the Introductory Post about how 22-ish ideas showed up in the hotel room when I had a moment to think this gig through? Well, I’ve probably used about five of those ideas over the past 15 days. Which convinces me very quickly that there is no end to the goodness of God, and perhaps no direction you can look where you cannot somehow see a glimpse of His hand or the potential for praiseworthiness.

The Earth is filled with His glory.

Last, I have probably arrived at a place of admitting that my kids are sometimes an excuse when they shouldn’t be. With regard to stewarding my gifts well, with regard to ministry, with regard to when I go to bed and when I rise, my level of sanity on any particular day, my mood, and how often I sneak to the fridge for three or twelve chocolate chips.

Maybe I’m not ready to admit that yet, so forget you read any of that.

To you sweet people who are commenting and sharing and virtual-high-fiving, thank you. The sweetest reason for me to get out of bed is the quiet time where I hear whispers that remind me of a good and Holy God who commanded the Universe to exist and still somehow thinks I’m worth talking to. But the knowledge that you are blessed, encouraged, challenged, uplifted — it absolutely makes this journey so much sweeter.

Here’s to fifteen more days of glorious goodness… and I imagine many more after that.



Day 7: Fight Fear with Good

Day 7: Fight Fear with Good

Hi there! This post is part of a 31-Day writing adventure I’m embarking on. I’d love for you to join me 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!

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There are a few things that I imagine just about everybody will struggle with while walking the path toward holiness. And it is hard for me to contemplate fear not being one of them.

While running the race seems mostly like a linear push toward a finish line in the distance, there are times where I tend to feel more like I’m racing around a track. I’ll think I’ve worked my way through a certain struggle, leaned on Jesus and found His help for it, and then, shew-wee I hit that quarter-mile marker and a struggle (this time, fear) is on my back whispering in my ear again.

One of my greatest fears has largely to do with how much I love my family. The fear of losing my Hero Hubs or one of my children — just the thought of it, can start enacting scenarios in my head. What would I do? What would life look like? How would we make it? And the runaway thought-train gets specific: Will I have to quit homeschooling the Bear? What sort of work could I do that would allow me to still be home a lot? Could I sell decent-paying advertising slots on my blog?

Giving those thoughts headspace is usually an awful decision — but sometimes it seems like they have a head start, they are already trailing along and building idea on top of idea — and I’m left behind, trying to scale the lofty tower of “what-if’s” to knock down the beast that’s busy stacking something else at the top.

What’s interesting is that what the Lord gives us to combat fear is not what we might expect, or choose if we had a choice. If I had a choice, I would probably like to ask the Lord to 1) promise me that the Hubs and I will live to a ripe old age and enjoy our grandchildren 2) promise me that our children will all outlive us, and that we’ll never have to say goodbye to any of them at a time that seems premature.

Lord, let me see the whole picture folded out in front of me — will I get to do this and will my eldest do that and will we ever manage to do this and…

But He doesn’t answer fears individually, really. He doesn’t say “I promise this will go like this and that will go like that.”

Somehow, the answer to our fears is simply the belief that God is good. 

South African sunrise

What sort of adventure would life be if we could map it all out? And if we could map it all out, what use would there be for trust?

In His glorious goodness, He rather chooses to let us fully put our trust in Him, because really, that’s the only thing that never changes. He is always good, and He promises to be with us always.

People live to a hundred. Children die within a few days of their first breath. Winter gives way to Spring. Regimes rise and fall.

He is the only Being who is eternally consistent, never-changing in all the Universe.

And He is willing — He actually desires to meet us, personally engage with us, and even to help us punch fear in the face. And what an unexpected turn — the only appropriate place for us to fear is with regard to the Lord Himself. We fear Him with a Holy reverence — because He is good, and also great (in the sense of His magnitude). He is very strong, very loving. Out of respect for Who He is and what He is capable of, it is right to fear Him.

But He is also gloriously good — and in this unexpected juxtaposition, we can find our fears eradicated. We turn to Him, He lifts us out of the mess we’ve been entertaining, and He shows us how to trust. It might go something like this:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him. {Ps. 40:1-3}

In His glorious goodness, God’s willingness to meet us as we turn to Him and put our trust in Him can be the beginning of a new story of joy in our lives — and an opportunity to encourage those around us.

Once again we find if we can just let go — there is something so much better to grab hold of.