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[walking away]

gut wrenching - to let go of that hand that has a roadmap of lines that trace their way to a lifetime of so many experiences. To kiss that cheek one last time. To say that last "I love you."  to walk away and walk out the door, knowing my "see you later," will be a reunion in heaven one day  

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gut wrenching - to watch them hug and high five, get one more secret handshake. To hug the lady that has guided and shaped their brains and carried them past benchmarks beyond what we could have dreamed. The lady that hugged them through tears and frustration and oozed so much confidence in them that it became contagious and a spark lit into a flame inside their little hearts. The lady that could see fear or sadness in their eyes and lean in with a hug and pray with and for my babe. To get one last soccer kick, and one last look at the playground and turn and walk away, brushing tears from our cheeks. 

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gut wrenching - to pack so many bags until you think they may burst, but to THE ounce and no more, until your heart may burst like the 16 bags in front of you, a heart much heavier than the 50 pound weight limit. To get that stomach churning last long, hard hug and kisses on wet cheeks, and turn and walk away to get in the security line. All our ducks in a row behind us, with a stack of passports and a pile of carry-ons, and tissues for the snot and tears. Hearts so heavy it feels like our feet can't move, but somehow they know the drill. 

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It feels crazy, nothing seems right about it. Emotions too heavy to humanly bare. So many knowns and unbelievable love left behind us. So many unknowns and a cocktail of fear and loneliness with a side of one and a half million questions mixed with a heaping portion of...PEACE. 

That's the part that is hardest for me...to get my brain to comprehend the unshakeable peace I feel from the top of my head to the tips of my toes.  Almost annoying, if I'm being honest. I can't reconcile everything I'm feeling and thinking, but...PEACE. 

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It comes when God has given you a burden, a passion, a call to obey AND then you actually obey. The peace comes from obedience NOT from the call to obey. The Bible calls it a peace that passes all understanding.  And man, there couldn't be a more perfect description. 

So many have asked how we do this and let me tell you - I'm a stinking hot mess, one tear away from wanting to sit in the floor and have a meltdown that wouldn't be helpful to anyone in my family!!! 

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If you haven't gathered yet, we aren't capable. We aren't strong enough. We aren't brave enough. We aren't eve adventurous enough, BUT we have a God who is all of this and more and we trust him. He's never let us down. 

We are trusting that as we are walking away, we are walking towards what He has planned for us. We aren't turning our backs on those we love, we just walk together through life in more creative ways than we normally would. While distance keeps us apart, our words mean more and our hearts are knit together.  

Walking away from so much, but walking with the King, who put peace in our hearts, hope in our life, direction in our steps and knows what we need and gives it to us.  

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[learning]

Bouncing. Back and forth. Back and forth. On the floor. Off the wall. Back and forth. I'm starting to feel more like a ping pong ball each day. Not so much from all the travel, but from a question I have had to answer many times in past months: 

Where are you from? 

hmmmmmm. Well...? This country? Or that country? Childhood home? Well, there were quite a few of those. Where I currently reside?  my goodness. Who knows? I have one hundred answers. And my poor children, they may never be able to answer that question. 

Back and forth. Bouncing around all over the place in my heart. Back and forth.  

How can you feel home? How can you find home? How do you make a place home? How do you become a person from somewhere? 

And my eyes land on familiar words that make my heart sigh in relief: 

 Lord, through all generations, you have been our home! Psalm 90:1

Maybe I'm not supposed to be from somewhere but from someone. My head lines up with my heart on this thought in agreement. When you belong to Him and live where He has asked you to and try your best to do what He's telling you to, that feels like home. That's where you belong. And that's where you can find home. In Him. 

To be honest, the words of that verse also bring a certain measure of frustration. They still don't help me nail down a location on the map.  

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What and awkward answer: "I'm from God." Picturing the looks on people's faces does make me laugh a little. 

But I look down and see the place where my two feet have landed, and that is my home. And if i believe in my heart that anywhere He has asked me to be, is where I'm from, then it's time I do something about it. If i truly believe it, my life should show it. 

So, it's time to learn to be from where I live

Learning indicates that I will do many things multiple times, until I know.  

Grocery shopping, friends, coffee at a newly found favorite spot, celebrations, gathering around our table, saying hello to neighbors and learning to live close by, school rush and holidays, tasting, smelling, and feeling each season as they come. Marking days of sorrow and gladness and coming back to them each year as an Ebenezer, to remember what God has done. Trying each day to obey. Not letting days slip by without saying thank you and please, to God and those around us. Loving and living big. Finding and meeting God everyday in the middle of it all. 

There's a million ways to learn to be from where I live, and I keep doing them until I know. Over and over and over. The more I do them, less I bounce back and forth.

The more I do these things, the more I know, He is home - in my generation too. 

But I know He is there, because He's everywhere. And maybe my new answer will be that I'm still figuring that out.  

Where am I from? 

I'm learning to be from where I live.  

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[absent]

Words...y'all I have been fresh out. Haven't had any. Changing cultures is no joke. You don't fit 100% in your host culture. You return to your home culture to find there's no changing back to 100% to the nationality you were born. 

Undergoing so much change in my world - it took all my extra thought processing capabilities. 

Absent. I think it may be the word I'm looking for. It made me feel absent from myself or who I thought I was. Changing physical locations can make you hone in on what parts of you are actually you, and not what parts are the culture you live in. You get down to the bottom of the glass, and the bits and pieces that are left, are the parts that are you, no matter where you live. 

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Absent - I have been from writing any extra words. The words I have, have been used asking God lots of questions, searching out lots of things.  

But yesterday, as we were searching through the only earthly possessions we have in this country, I found many of my old words. Hilarious how life has changed. Who knew I had so many journals?  

The words I found in them were about some of the most momentous occasions of our lives and the people we love most. And you know what I found? 

God has not been absent through any of the changes I have experienced. Some have been small, some have been gut wrenching, some have been life shaping.  

Absent is not a word that could describe God through them all.  

So while I have been searching out who I am, while being stripped to the bare bones, He has been present every twist and turn. My Creator showing me how He has created me. Gently nudging, "yes, that's it." Sometimes confirming, other times giving me glimpses of who He is wanting me to be. 

But the lie, that I am most presented with is: that He is absent.  

Finding those old journals were a special gift,  and real life proof, that absent is not a way I should ever describe God.

He's allowing me to experience a massive amount of change. But He doesn't change. He's always present

This allows me to not be absent. To wake up every day. Show up to life. Be. Be who He has made me and is making me to be. I've been a slow learner on this one.

But sometimes the slow lessons we learn are the ones that stick the longest, don't you think?

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[heimweh]

Mexican food. Ritter Sport chocolate. Dr. Pepper. Mineral water. Brown water. Real coffee. 

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The whir of the tram. The wind blowing through the trees. Cobble stones and walking miles a day. Paved roads, no sidewalks, driving everywhere. City blocks. Pastures and cows. 

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Turning off my second language when I want to. Understanding every word whether I want to or not. Small apartment. Large house.

Sweet friendships. Making new friends. Quiet. Loud. Busy. Busier. Far away. Close.  

Heimweh. Homesick.  

We made it across the world to our other home a few months ago and have not slowed down. We had an astounding welcome from our family and friends and church. A welcome that will never be forgotten. We have had a wonderful beyond words, time seeing our family that we love so dear! We have been adjusting and having many firsts together as a family.  

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In the midst of it all, we have found ourselves in a world of stark contrasts. Loving and longing. We are working hard to feel all the feels that come with such extreme moves. We talk. We pray. We work to understand. We continue to feel. Best days ever end with tears on the pillow. Other days fly by with belly laughs and happy tears at being so near. We live every day in the limbo of Heimweh. Homesickness. We are at home and we miss home. 

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Honestly, despite all the feelings, we wouldn't trade it. We love this opportunity we get to be "home" for this time. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. Grand and great grandparents. Time together is treasures in our hearts that we will hold onto forever. 

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So for now, we are going to enjoy this home. We are going to BE here, as best as we know how. We are going to thank God that our family and our home spans the globe. We are going to trust that He will continue to give us what we need for each day.  

So friends, near and far, hello from this side of the world! Its good to see you again. 

 

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[who brings order into my chaos]

 [Hello friends! I wrote this a few weeks ago, and then didn't have time to return to it. So here's my heart then and now]

 

When this space is quiet, it usually means that my literal, in real life space is anything but. And that's the case for now. My whole world is screaming from change while we prepare for an international move. Let those last two words sink in...they're pretty terrifying no matter which side of the world you're moving from. All the details involved in this little leap across the world would be enough to make your head spin and and then make you vomit. Our apartment looks like someone robbed us...why must packing and sorting always go like that? And I must say, if you could see into our hearts, they probably wouldn't look much different than our apartment. Emotions and fears and rejoicing of every kind, scattered into every corner. 

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I've learned, in my short life, that time is wasted, literal hours and days and years of life, by trying to mask what's really going on. That just makes me tired thinking about the upkeep of all that. I'm not really sure when I decided that was not worth it. I-just-can't. So these words you read here aren't made up for dramatic effect. I wouldn't have enough energy for that if I tried.

These words are the outpourings of a heart too tired of holding it all in anymore. I have a thing for outpourings and the people they belong to, because in the big fat middle of them, you meet honesty face to face. You see the nitty gritty of what it takes to live through this life and come out again and again on the other side of all the things. In the middle of outpourings, you sometimes (ahem every time) find that soul sighing of "yes! I'm not the only one!" Surely you've felt that once in your life, if you're lucky, many times. 

Sadly, having the opportunity to peer that deep into real life doesn't happen all too often because there is a lack of honesty and a lack of caring. The two go hand in hand, really. No one wants to pour out their deepest heart when they don't think anyone cares. And other times, no one cares to hear anyone pour their heart out.  

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But what if we all decided to jump into life with both feet? What if we all take a deep breath, and open our hearts to care. What if we all decided to be more brave and be more honest? What if we wasted way less time and dropped our masks? I think we would all look around us and sigh that deep soul sigh that says..."really? Me too!"

So, here's me mask-less (which is usually my norm): I've been searching for some order in all this chaos. Not just physically but, goodness, my heart needs calming way down! Does chaos in your heart make it hard for you to breathe too? Whew, good. Me too.  

The other day, we were having a dance party in the car as we were zooming down the autobahn. The kids were giggling, and dancing and singing..."who brings my chaos back into order? The King of glory, the King above all Kings!"  My heart slammed in my chest. Mmmmmm. 

Is this Jesus stuff for real? Isn't it just for the weak? Yes it is. For those so weak that they can't go on, but they do and they go on in strength because the Jesus stuff is real and his strength and love is for real and it changes your life every day. That's the camp I'm in. Too weak to do this life on my own, no matter how hard I try. Why would I want to go at this alone, when I can have the King of everything walking with me?

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So, there you have it. I'm counting on Jesus and asking and experiencing him bringing my chaos into order. 

And I'm taking a little break during all this craziness. I'll see you soon, on the other side of the world.  

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[a whole grain]

Confession: I'm sitting here at my kids' bedtime drinking a cup of actually hot coffee (sometimes it's the only time of day this is possible), thinking earth shattering mothering thoughts (I'm sure!). Wondering, does anyone else have to drink coffee to make it through bedtime? 

My husband plays American football in the GFL. This means a ton of fun and excitement for our family that we love! This also means that there is practice at least three times a week. Translation: mommy does bedtime alone quite often - hence the cup of coffee.  

Coffee at bedtime combined with thinking about a few other glorious mothering moments, a text from a dear friend, a funny comment from my mom, and so many mom pictures and Facebook statuses this week has got me thinking.. 

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Whole grain people! That's where it's at! 

The text said something along the lines of..."whole grain for lunch around here. Just like you taught me. Ha!"

Upon telling my mom it was gourmet dinner night, she laughed and said "popcorn? Add some fruit and you have a well rounded meal." 

Guilty as charged y'all. When Daddy has practice or an away game and Mommy is d-o-n-e, Mommy has served up popcorn for a meal, with a side of fruit and a movie.  

It's a whole grain. That's what I've told myself, and others, to make us all feel better. (Don't google that. It is possibly not true.)

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The truth is, life gets us like woah sometimes, whether you're a mom or not and we have the choice to make it work with what we have and keep our sanity, and keep going, or not.

Whether it's a bag of popcorn, or frozen pizza, you have my permission to just go with it. There. Someone said it. 

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Best mothering practices? Probably not, but I'm praying the cuddles on the couch with a huge bowl of popcorn and a movie will outweigh any memories of how tired I actually was. The memories of dark circles under my eyes will be replaced with the excitement of a crazy meal served up with lots of love. I know some of the most fun and funniest times in our house growing up was over frozen pizza on Sunday nights after a long day at church. Rewinding to those times sure would be so fun. Treasures in my heart. 

 So, please stop beating yourself up if life is getting you down. Sometimes a huge gift from God to us is popcorn. Enjoy it! Serve that whole grain up with lots of love. 

 

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[just light the candles]

"At least it will smell good,"  that's what's I thought to myself that day. Just light the candles. 

A dear friend was coming over for coffee. It wasn't a surprise. I knew she was coming. But I just couldn't get my act together. That panic feeling started rising up in me. That old lie that tells me I need to have the house perfect before company comes. I'm in recovery from living that life. 

What's funny is, this friend is one of "those" friends. The kind that jumps right into your life and understands what life with four kids and a football player husband looks like and it doesn't even phase them. The kind that even offers to help you fold laundry. The kind that may load your dishwasher when you aren't looking. The kind that makes you sigh with relief and helps you relax. 

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I made coffee and had some chocolate chip cookie bars (new recipe we tried and love!) made and we sat with baskets of laundry in view and a two year old running around crazy and enjoyed our afternoon. Good conversation. Laughter and tears. It was all there - the making of a good afternoon. Exactly what I needed. It was so fun. 

But I almost ruined it all. All because I was worried about what my house looked like. 

Y'all!! Guess what?!?! Other people have dirty dishes. Other people have laundry. Other people have little people that use the bathroom at their house. Other people...live in their house too. Gasp!  And you know what my friend said? She was glad to know someone else lived like that. 

Do you feel your shoulders beginning to lower? That panic feeling starting to go away? Good.

Now, go light your candles. Shove the laundry to the side of the room. Have a friend (or more) over. Let someone into your mess. Into your real L-I-F-E. It's way less lonely and a lot more fun!

And hey, at least it will smell good.  

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[piecing it all together]

We love to be cozy. If we are on the couch, there is always a blanket over us. One of our go to's is a quilt that my great grandmother made. Different bits and pieces of different fabrics from who knows what. Maybe worn out clothes or extra fabric left over from making a dress. Simple pattern. A mix of colors that don't really match but go beautifully together. Bits and pieces of life strung together that make something extraordinarily beautiful.  

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Where I live the winter is daaaaaaaark and days are shoooooooort and cold. Whew. It wears on you. It gives you time, lots of time -  inside. Under quilts and blankets. So a few winters ago, I decided that I wanted to try my hand at quilting. I have dreams of grandchildren or hey, maybe even greats, cuddled under a quilt of mine. I have dreams of them knowing of my prayers and love for them even after I'm gone. Feeler much? Yes mam. But there I sat, feeling those very things from my great grandmother, that I don't even have many memories of. 

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I was the kid that sat at my Nannie's feet with her scrap pile or old quilt blocks making Barbie something beautiful, I'm sure. But it was at her feet, while she made dresses for all of us granddaughters and our dolls  (7 of us), that I learned to piece quilt blocks together by hand. Some of my very favorite memories. Tucked under her huge cutting table, hearing the whir of her machine and the klink of her scissors. Every stitch perfect. Every dress fit perfectly. I felt so special. And so loved. 

So, I'm not an exact seamstress like she is, ha! She would probably roll her eyes. I'm more of a tutorial girl, than a strict pattern kind of girl. But I've given it a try, and I'm learning and it's become something I love. Mainly quilt tops, one try at hand quilting.

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I cut each piece. I sew them together and I imagine and pray for whoever will stay warm under it. And I don't feel alone, as I think about who has done this before me. Who loved me before they even knew me. Who, I believe, prayed big things. 

So during these past winters, when the sun has set so early, I've retreated into my little cave. And with each stitch, a little part of me is put back together. One night after bedtime, a certain little boy, who loves to visit me after bedtime, appeared around the corner and gasped, "Mommy! Don't take it all apart!" And in the same breath "ooooooh! But you're not. You're putting it all together."  Yes, little buddy. I am. More than you know. 

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As I'm piecing these little pieces of fabric together, I can't help but think about how God has, and is, taking all the little pieces of my life and putting them together to make something beautiful.  

Find those things that put you back together. Steal away and do those. They are God's gift for you.  

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[if only...]

Yesterday. Good Friday, its called. Yesterday found me tired. A day of cleaning house, cooking for my crew, and ahhhhh, a nap. 

Instead of our normal traditions of making a Calvary hill and tomb out of clay, I listened to my tiredness and we opted for a simpler story time and talking about what happened long ago on that day. I'm learning to listen to the tiredness and make choices that don't make us all scream. I'm so glad I did last night.  

We read from a children's Bible of how Jesus had done nothing wrong. How they were so angry at him - enough to beat him unrecognizable, nail him to a cross - angry enough to spit on him, laugh at him, and kill him. We talked about how Jesus' friends must have felt, so scared and sad.  

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Then we talked about us, and how Jesus paid for us to be forever with God. The only way we can get there is through the blood of his perfect sacrifice. We talked about how really, our sin makes us deserve everything that happened to Jesus. 

It really was a quiet, somber conversation for my always lively, rowdy crew. As I sat there holding one of my boys in my lap, we were all feeling the sadness of this gift we all didn't deserve. He looked up at me, huge tears quietly rolling down his cheeks.  

 "If only Adam and Even had covered their ears or stomped on that 'ol snake, Jesus would not have had to do that for me!"

Yes, he said Even instead of Eve, and I wanted to giggle a little bit. But his five year old heart was broken, and his thinking right on point. Oh yes, baby boy, that's exactly where all the broken started. That's not the way God wanted it to be at all!

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A mom of two boys, I've pondered before what it must have been like to be the mom of Jesus. I found this beautiful Offerring of what her thoughts may have been. So heartbreaking to watch her son be torn apart, so our lives could be pieced back together. So the son in my arms could live whole, and live forever. 

Yesterday was a Good Friday, full of pain, hurt, longing, terror, tragedy, sadness. Just take a look at the news. It was a Good Friday because we can bank on the fact that Jesus has felt all of those things for us and can walk with us through them.

We don't have to be alone in our pain. As all of God's anger at sin filled the heart of Jesus, He was forced to face and feel it all alone without the help of his father.

He did that for us. For every sadness, pain, and heartbreak. His death paid for the hope we have. Believing Jesus' death on the cross paid for our sin, brings promise of being forgiven and being made whole. The promise of living for eternity with God who loves us so much, he sent his son to die for us. 

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Through all the pain, came a Good Friday, and I was able to look down into those sweet teary eyes and tell him that the story didn't end in death. All that pain was not for nothing. We don't have to stay stuck in sin and heartbreak.  

Let the pain of Good Friday wash over you. Feel undeserving. Feel heartbroken. But feel excitement, because God made something beautiful out of the most horrible pain ever. it's something He has always done and something He will forever do. 

If only they had covered their ears, there would have never been a Good Friday. If only they had covered their ears, you and I would have never known the great lengths God would go to rescue us. We wouldn't know the depth of His love. He didn't stop at anything to make things right again.  

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[winds of change]

If it seems like I'm insconsistent and scatter brained lately, it's because I am! The winds of change are blowing rather strong around here.  

In January, we finally allowed ourselves to think about it, and we began our countdown. In the middle of summer, we will have reached the four year mark of living in our beautiful country, and we will return to our home country for a full year before coming back. I say home country, but that's really only true for two of us - my husband and I. The other four members have only spent a short number of months there. And so begins, for lack of better words, a CRAZY WILD time in our life.  

I don't lightly say "we allowed ourselves to think about it," because here's the thing...when you live in a country not your own, you have two options: make it home, or miserably long for your former home. You can't really walk the line between both. Of course we will always "live" in two places because our hearts are in both places. But once you allow yourself to dwell on living somewhere else, your sense of home begins to disappear.  

Lists are made, appointments are set, purging is done, plans for both sides of the globe are made. And all the emotions flood in like a raging storm. Y'all, we are all over the map!

You see?  We will be leaving what has been our home in every way possible, and people that we love so dear, to be going home, to where we came from, and people we love and long to see. We will take four babies back to a place that they barely remember, and actually it will be the first time our baby will have ever been in her home country. 

 This was a little while ago. Two of the months are already gone. Time is flying!! 

This was a little while ago. Two of the months are already gone. Time is flying!! 

We are a big bunch of feelers in our house. Living this type of life we have learned how important it is to feel all the feels. Only then can healing work begin. The kids finally asked one day "is it ok to be happy sad? Or sad happy?" Yes!! Babies that is perfect. So that's how we are all feeling.  

So, what in the world do you hold on to when the winds of change are knocking you flat? Every. Day. And you can't seem to get up? The emotions are so brutal and so many that you can't even name them? Well, here's a few things I'm hanging on to, counting on really, with everything I've got:

 “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” Psalms‬ ‭90:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 “The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” Psalms‬ ‭23:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

"Have faith in God. He's on his throne. Have faith in God. He watches o'er his own. He can not fail. He must prevail. Have faith in God. Have faith in God" - an old hymn, Have Faith in God

This list could go on and on, but these two verses and this song are especially sweet to me right now. I have a good, good Father that will give me everything I need. I'm not the only one that has sought home in Him. Generations before me have. He is watching over all of it

See, that's the thing about Jesus. This is a relationship that I have. Not a list of things to do or not. I talk to Him and hear from Him. I am His child and He cares for me. None of this is taking Him by surprise. He's going to hold us together. 

But just as He hears me pray and loves to answer, would you pray for us too? These are going to continue to be crazy times for us - horribly sad to say goodbye, so terribly excited to say hello! 

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[monday]

Good morning. I see you there. Puffy eyed. Waiting for the coffee to finish, so you can get some of that warmness flowing through your body to wake your brain up. Long night? Little sleep? Me too. Here's what I'm thinking about this morning...

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I would like to invite you to live in reality today. Don't let the world lie to you. There's no perfect day. There's no perfect life. There's no perfect home. No perfect family. No Instagram filter strong enough to make all the blah go away. Your to do list is looooong. The piles of laundry or dirty dishes? Mountainous. Work? How are we going to face it?

And Mondays? I don't know about you, but most of my Mondays are just pretty hard. I have an inkling they may be for you too.  

One thing I love to see when I read my Bible, is how Jesus saw people. Like really saw them. And most of the time it was people no one else paid attention to. And you know what happened when he saw them? They felt loved, they felt cared for, important even, like they mattered and their lives were literally changed forever.

Sometimes loving like Jesus is hard. But y'all, sometime we make it way more difficult than it is!! It's not hard to look around and see someone. Give them a smile. Say a kind word. Help someone out a little. Pick something up they dropped. Give someone a compliment. Hold a door open. Let someone know you're thinking about them. Give an extra hug to someone you love. All of the above is Jesus love. Not. Too. Hard. 

 So, on this Monday morning, I just wanted to say I see you. I'm working through the Monday stink right with you - and so is the rest of the world no matter what social media tells you. You're rocking that cute outfit, or those clothes you wore all day yesterday and slept in (not that I know anything about that). You have a great smile. You're really funny. And I agree, Mondays are hard! 

So, let's go pour that second cup. And I think that together, we could make Monday a little more bearable. Take that, Monday!

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[not rocket science]

 {I had this post all written up and ready to publish when...I lost it...two times. In a flash - gone! Getting this one out there has proved to almost be rocket science, but hang on, not everything has to be. Now that everything is functioning again, I'm popping in on the weekend to share a little something with you.}

 

HANGRY

Hungry + angry = HANGRY

It has happened to all of us. It's time to eat and there's nothing in the kitchen worthy of being called a meal, and if you don't get something in your system like five minutes ago, it's going to be bad. And what's worse? Little hangry people that have journeyed past the point of no return, and are melting into puddles on the floor at your feet. 

I am a meal planning kind of girl. A pretty serious one, but that does not mean I have my act together 100% of the time. The last few weeks have found us in the kitchen at dinner time wondering what we are going to eat and zero thoughts in my head! I'm sure you have never been there!

One thing I have learned to be helpful at the international meltdown time of day, is to have a few go to meals that I keep ingredients stocked for, or that are very fast to shop for. That way, I at least have something, to combat all the hangriness in the house. Dinner, on this day, does not have to be rocket science and shouldn't be! This is not the time to show off your culinary prowess or try that new recipe you've been eying. Just get something on the table and fast!

So without further ado, I would like to present to you, one of my go to's, and one of our favorites, (Not Rocket Science) Ciabatta Pizzas.

 

 I snapped some great low quality pictures with my phone, just for you to see how together I have it.  

I snapped some great low quality pictures with my phone, just for you to see how together I have it.  

Ciabatta bread (store bought!), your favorite jarred spaghetti sauce, 1 lb of ground meat+chopped salami+chopped onion+ 1 chopped green bell pepper+ Italian seasoning+ garlic salt

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Slice your bread and lay it open like this.  

 

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Spread spaghetti sauce generously on the bread.  

 

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We like it very cheesy.  

 

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Top it with the meat mixture and toss it in the oven for everything to get all melty and yummy.  One whiff of this cooking, and everyone will begin to believe that maybe, there is hope in the world again. The crying begins to stop and some semblance of peace  returns. 

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And just for the love of everything real, I left it in the oven a little too long, (I'm sure there was nothing else needing my attention) so, here you have brown around the edges Ciabatta Pizza. 

What is your favorite go to meal? Any quick ideas? Spread the love! We could all use help with a back up plan. Good luck fighting hangriness!

{and here's to blogging not being rocket science anymore. See you soon! Hope your weekend is relaxing} 

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[desires and dreams]

Once upon a time, there was a small town Texas girl that studied music in college. Sitting in class, she was transported (in her mind), to all these beautiful places around the world, where all of this beautiful music was created and performed by the best.  

Fastforward about fourteen years, said girl fell in love, got married, had a gaggle of babies, and said "yes sir," with her man, when God said "go!" And their adventure around the world began. Little did she know, that she would daily see some of the same buildings she imagined, as she studied. 

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Nowadays we are practically neighbors with J.S. Bach (a city over), and live in Wagner's old stomping grounds. And you know what? Those building fade into the background of normal, and every day life takes over. While photos of us around the city have spectacular backgrounds, there are kids to get to school, homework to be done, dinner and laundry, meetings, a foreign language to speak, churches to try to start, work, sports, new people to meet, more work...but on a bad day, a walk by those beautiful buildings transports me to another time and another way of life, and my brain takes a little break.  

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As a Christmas gift, my man came through big time! Tickets to the opera, a little shopping trip for the night, babysitters, dinner...the whole nine yards!  While he spoils me all the time (hello clean kitchen!), he went above and beyond. 

 We met when we were 19 and 20. Who would have ever dreamed that I would become a football wife and he would love going to the opera with me? 

We met when we were 19 and 20. Who would have ever dreamed that I would become a football wife and he would love going to the opera with me? 

So, with our dream team at home with the kids, we took off, all dressed up for a big night. It was snowy and cold and exciting. Living in Europe, does not  mean you are on a constant vacation. We are busy. Money does not grow on trees. Buildings we have walked or drove by for years, were for one night, our destination.  

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Feeling a bit Cinderella-ish, we enjoyed an amazing night, seeing La Bohème, listening to voices rise and fall with ease, singers taking me to somewhere I can not go myself. Talent God gives people is amazing. It was all surreal and beyond beautiful. And then we went for pizza, because we are us, and were starving!  

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It was a night that dreams came true. One I will treasure...the beautiful opera house, my outfit, his hand on the small of my back, the music swirling around us, his smile and laugh (he truly loved it), the dessert before and the pizza after, having people we trust and love at home with our babies, seeing those babies light up when they saw us dressed up for the night. It couldn't have been more perfect.  

This one night, which is never our normal, will be one of my favorites forever. And when I think about sitting in that desk in Dr. Keck's class, this Texas girl has come so far, but it's only because God has brought me to places I never could have imagined for myself. And in the midst of every day, and hard, and work, a dream came true.  

Psalm 37:4 says "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

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While I do NOT believe God is a genie in a bottle, or like Santa, I do know that He is a good father, who loves me. And that special night was a gift for me that he planned long ago and he used my husband, who also knows the desires of my heart, to make my dream come true. 

I believe that God truly knows our hearts, and what we desire, and if we look around at our life, we can see such good gifts from Him every day.  

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[hunker down]

It's that time of year when everyone rushes from the tram or their car, into the warmth of their home, and you can possibly go weeks without seeing neighbors. The days are short but slowly growing longer, but goodness! They are coooold! God must have a sense of humor to move a Texas girl to such a cold place. I'm pretty much always cold, but I've learned a few things. Here are a few of my bare necessities for hunkering down in the winter:

 Our car is under there somewhere.  

Our car is under there somewhere.  

Blankets. I'm sitting on the couch after getting the kids in bed, and it sounds pretty quiet. Score! Within arm's reach are three blankets. Two quilts and one blanket to be precise. Our home is not freezing by any means, but cold weather means blankets and cuddles. The more the merrier. 

  Soup.  There's nothing like a big pot of soup simmering when everyone walks in the door and takes their layers off (making an explosion of our entry). There's always enough for seconds, and warm cornbread never hurt either.  

 Explosion of shoes and scarves, hats and gloves.  

Explosion of shoes and scarves, hats and gloves.  

Candles. While I dream of a fire place, the flicker of candle light will just have to do. Candles = cozy. I just have to have some light during the long evenings.

Books. Everywhere! We read a ton in the winter. The kids are now able to read to themselves and it is beautiful, but we all love a read aloud book too.

 She loves the snow! 

She loves the snow! 

No drafts. I have a dear friend that makes fun of me for this one, but she has yet to experience winter like I have, her sweet southern self! Having the right gear for the weather is important. And have at least one layer that tucks in. Make sure your scarf covers your neck and the wind isn't shooting up your sleeve between your gloves and your jacket sleeve. Basically make everything air tight! Ha! I'm a weenie!

Fun!  our first winter here, my husband came home pulling two sleds and they have been put to good use. With all this white stuff, all you need is a good hill for hours of fun! And if you're stuck inside, there's pretty much nothing a good dance party can't cure. 

 It was the first snow and there was barely enough to cover the ground, but he HAD to make a snow angel.  

It was the first snow and there was barely enough to cover the ground, but he HAD to make a snow angel.  

Through the years, I have learned to look forward to the long dark evenings together and brace myself for the chill outside my door. I still have a love/hate relationship with winter, but I'm dealing. 😉 You can take the girl out of Texas...

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[finish strong]

Hey y'all! I'm finally back. Is your 2016 off to a good start? 

 

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I've never had a word or phrase for the year, but this time, I'm giving it a go. Here's our family phrase for the year:  

finish strong

 We have a lot of new things coming our way and we need to stay a little more focused. So whether it is the smaller things like putting toys or laundry away (hello cleaner house!) to way bigger things, like packing up our whole house and moving across the ocean (we will see you in a few months, USA!) we need to finish strong! 

 

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While we are counting on big strength from God, we want to do our best and put one foot in front of the other and finish whatever job is before us.  

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Our family prays your '16 is filled with many blessings from God and special nearness to Him.  

Do you have a word or phrase for this year? 

Edited to add: our move to the States is not final. We will enjoy our time there for one year before returning to this side of the world.  

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[frohe weihnachten]

Merry Christmas from our herd to yours! 

 

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Christmas around our house is slow and relaxing. And just us six. A time of year we dearly  miss our family so far away. A time we have learned to love being just us. A time we can be loud (everyone in our building goes somewhere else for Christmas)! A time we stay in our jams all day. A time we eat too much and laugh a lot. A time we celebrate BIG the birth of Jesus and the hope that came to the world in one little babe.  

Enjoy time with those you love and know that you are very loved. I'm taking a blog break till after the new year. See you then! 

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[Christmas cozy]

I don't know about you, but I love perusing Pinterest and magazines this time of year. I love to see how people decorate their homes. Maybe it's the years that I've lived in Europe, but when it comes to decorating for Christmas,  I deck the halls, but I don't want it to look like the North Pole exploded. Less is more, but I want more festive than normal every day. All our decorations fit in two boxes. Less stress. More of the main thing. 

So here's a little tour of our home. (While I love beautiful, edited photos, I'm giving myself permission to let it go this time. If it makes you scream, don't do it, right?) Oh how I wish you all could drop by for a visit and have coffee! 

 Antlers in the kitchen, ready for anyone to wear.

Antlers in the kitchen, ready for anyone to wear.

 The kids gave me this deer head for my birthday and named him Brutus. They were excited to see he had some Christmas bling.  

The kids gave me this deer head for my birthday and named him Brutus. They were excited to see he had some Christmas bling.  

 Our living room dressed in Christmas cozy.  

Our living room dressed in Christmas cozy.  

 My little corner of the living room. And stockings waiting to be hung.  

My little corner of the living room. And stockings waiting to be hung.  

 Let your kids help decorate. Use what you have. The boys searched high and low in their toys for the perfect pick up truck for our little tree. These little houses are smoke houses. You put a little incense candle in them and smoke comes out the chimney!  

Let your kids help decorate. Use what you have. The boys searched high and low in their toys for the perfect pick up truck for our little tree. These little houses are smoke houses. You put a little incense candle in them and smoke comes out the chimney!  

 One of my favorite things about this time of year is that you can buy bundles of pine or evergreen limbs for 2€. These red tulips were right beside the pine bundles. I couldn't resist!

One of my favorite things about this time of year is that you can buy bundles of pine or evergreen limbs for 2€. These red tulips were right beside the pine bundles. I couldn't resist!

 My little start is lonely and is still a work in progress. Any ideas?

My little start is lonely and is still a work in progress. Any ideas?

 Our advent wreath.  

Our advent wreath.  

 Our advent calendar filled with candy and activities.  

Our advent calendar filled with candy and activities.  

So, there you have it. There's a little more here and there, but that's almost all. What's your Christmas cozy style? 

 Frohe Weihnachten! 

Frohe Weihnachten! 

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[a thrill of hope]

It seems like everywhere I turn, the world is going crazy. Watching the news of any country can make you want to stay home and let the world go crazy without you. I live in a country flooded with refugees. I come from a country who is so scared of them. These desperate people, scared for their lives. It's too much to process. It doesn't make sense. 

There is war. Hunger. Loss. Death. Sickness. Longing. Absence. Everywhere you turn. It's slamming me in the face. And you know what? It makes me tired. Exhausted. Weary.  Do you know the feeling?

We are listening to Christmas music non stop around here. And there's a few lines I can't get out of my head. 

 A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices... 

I'm slowly getting into the Christmas spirit. I think I have a case of the "I can't even..." I'm just tired. Physically. Emotionally. Everything-y. Drumming up the energy to feel the excitement I normally feel this time of year has been hard. Where is the thrill? 

Our days are growing very short. The sun comes rises at 8a and sets before 4p. That alone is enough to make a person blue. The twinkle of lights and flicker of candles fills our home in the early afternoon until bedtime. And these words keep drifting through the air...

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...

I decided to look up the definition of thrill.  

 Thrill - a sudden feeling of excitement and pleasure.  

Does anyone else feel the absence of a thrill for one reason or another?  This line of "Oh Holy Night," kept bothering me. 

Well, a few lines before, the song describes how the world had waited for a long time. Waited in sin and error. Whew. That's a lot. Many of us are pitching a tent at the corner of "I did that wrong" and "I wish I hadn't." And we are waiting and wondering what if? Or what's next? Or what now?

But here's the key I've been missing. And maybe it's the key you need too, to unlock the door and leave your weariness behind. 

"Long lay the world, in sin and error pining. Till He appeared, and the soul felt it's worth" 

It seems I am able to forget that this celebration of the birth of Jesus is the answer to my weariness. It is in God becoming man, that my souls can feel it's worth. Why? Because it's the beginning of God rescuing us and restoring us to be able to be in relationship with Him. God wanting US to be in a relationship with HIM. Because He loves us. This God baby, who lived a perfect, blameless life and paid for the sins of the world by a undeserved death on a cross, He rose from the dead and is living now. Now, that's what I call an amazing rescue plan!

I am worth something - You are worth something - because God loves us.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices...

Let it sink in. Let it course through your veins. Could you allow yourself to feel the thrill?  

Nothing I have said fixes this crazy world. Nothing. But it can change the way we feel about our world. We have hope. We don't have to wak through the craziness alone. Our God came near and hope has come. Your soul has worth. Let your weary heart rejoice. 

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[long live paper]

I do not have it all together. My goodness, no. In my dreams, everything on my to do list gets done every day and I don't ever forget anything. In reality, I drop the kids off and have forgotten their pajamas and snacks, all the while thinking "whew! That was so easy. Man! I'm rocking this Monday morning." Only to figure out how much I totally did NOT rock it at all.

My husband tries tirelessly to get me to sync our digital calendars. Bless his heart. I try. Sometimes. I'm just a pen and paper girl.  I've tried going digital, but my to do lists and reminders disappear somewhere in the interwebs. 

While I don't have it together, there are a few things that I love and use that help me further down the road of together (does anyone every really get there?) and I thought I would share them with you: 

  1. coffee
  2. my favorite calendar
  3. a little notebook

Its like my brain can actually think after it has been caffeinated. And it thinks so much clearer in a cozy coffe shop ;) 

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This place is so cozy and was founded in the 1800s. It was the perfect little spot to find my head on Monday.  

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Coffee...basic here - take the time to slow down and think through everyone's everything, and make sure I have it all written down, and make all the lists, of all the things, that goes with everyone's everything. Not confusing at all, right?  

Calendar yall! I have found my life calendar. It's just so good I have to share it. 

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I have my 2016 all ready to go. It has a weekly calendar on one side, a page for notes on the other. A handy pocket in the back, and an elastic closure to keep all your goods inside. I'm really in love with this thing. The family life is right in here. Events. Memories from the days. Recipes. Reminders. If you're a pen and paper person like me, run! Go get one.  

Notebook this little jewel is small enough to slide in any bag I have. What's in it you ask? EVERYTHING. to dos, menus, grocery lists, thoughts, ideas, sketches, quotes, notes from meetings - a mix of two languages, dreams, work stuff, home stuff, fun stuff. Basically, my brain is in this little book. It finally dawned on me that I was losing lists everywhere. So I decided to make an ongoing list.  It's how I can sleep at night when everything is floating around in my head. I get out my little notebook and write it all down and then off to sleep I go. While I don't always carry my calendar with me, I always have this little guy. 

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So, there's the method to my madness. Not together, but it helps. Long live paper!

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[advent]

Advent, Advent, 

ein Lichtlein brennt.  

Erst eins, dann zwei, 

dann drei, dann vier, 

dann steht das Christkind vor der Tür.  

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Sweet little voices can be heard everywhere, reciting this sweet little poem, beginning with the very young kindergarten kids. Advent season is very celebrated where we live. It's such a festive, fun time! There are many fun traditions and we include some of them in our family. 

Advent wreath 

There are so many variations, but one must have a wreath. It can take many forms but must have four candles. Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas. A candle is lit each Sunday. You can buy a wreath already made or make your own. Here's just a small sample of the wreaths available in a local grocery store

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Ours is very simple and maybe I'll add some greenery to it later. Maybe not.  

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Each Sunday we gather around the table to eat and light a candle, remembering each week a different aspect of the abundant life Jesus gives us. Last week we celebrated the hope we have in Him. He always keeps all his promises! 

Advent Calendar 

About a month before advent season begins, stores are full of advent calendars of every shape and size. Some are boxes with doors for each day, with anything from chocolate to a toy waiting for you. Others are the type you can fill yourself. While we have done the chocolate ones, this year we opted to use only our calendar that can be filled. 

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You know all those helpful articles floating around Facebook? One of them (which I can't find anymore), said something to the effect of...mommy, if it will make you scream and yell, don't do it. Isn't that perfect?! So, what's in each bag? Some days, a piece of paper with an activity. On the others - candy!!  

I'll confess that in the pat few years, I have strived too hard for a perfect Advent season, and let me tell you, there's nothing magical about a stressed out mom or wife. So, I'm giving you permission, along with myself to LET IT GO! There are more bags that have candy in them than activities. There will be more cuddles and Christmas movies and popcorn, twinkling lights and candles, and less stress. 

Making Room 

for Jesus that is. Making room in our hearts. Ridding ourselves of greediness that can creep in this time of year and thinking more of others instead. 

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We make hay for Jesus (I stole this idea from a sweet friend). When you do something kind for someone else, you get to put some hay in the manger, getting it ready for Jesus. Yep, that's a dish rack, but it works for us.  

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We read a story out of this wonderful book each night. It's the exciting story of how God planned long ago to rescue each of us and bring us back to Him and his plan included sending His only son to live, die, and rise again. But it all started with Jesus being born as a baby, and God keeping his promises from all the years before. It's your story and mine.  

There's a little look into Advent in our family. Traditions from near and far that have all become ours. How does your family celebrate Advent? 

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