Thursday, October 31, 2013

beauty{full}: the goal

I wanted to finish this series up by tying everything together with a neat little bow, but the truth is, I think I summed things up fairly nicely yesterday. In fact, my dad already preemptively congratulated me on my wrap up after yesterday's post, so maybe that's a sign that I should shut up and move on.

In that case, I'll just say this tonight: let's not miss out on the opportunity to look for beauty in our lives, not because it is something to be worshiped, but because true beauty should inevitably point us to what really matters in life. And that is always worthwhile.

Thank you, once again for sticking with me this month. I think November might be a little bit quieter around here, but who knows: I may need the distraction of blogging while becoming a permanent fixture on my couch. And again, if you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here.

Happy November!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

beauty{full}: the secret

It's our second to last day with this topic, and I think I've finally figured out the secret to seeing the beautiful in everything, yes, and even the secret to being full of beauty ourselves. The funny thing is that it was right in front of my face all along, but this morning as I lay awake in the still dark dawn, the pieces started coming together.

First, I was thinking again about my life verse that encourages me by saying:

Therefore, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3

Then, as I was scrolling through some stuff on my phone, I bumped back up against a verse I had saved from Song of Solomon that says, simply, "Yea, he is altogether lovely." Avoiding the fun arguments about how Song of Solomon shapes our theology, I will simply say that one of the interpretations likens the love between the Lover and the Beloved to the love between Christ and the Church, and I love the thought that Christ is the one who is "altogether lovely", or as other translations say, "desirable in every way."

These two verses were butting up against each other in my mind as I tried to get back to sleep, when I realized that what I've been writing about all month, boiled down into just a few simple words is that if we want to see beauty, we have to look for beauty, and if we want to be beautiful, we have to put beautiful things into our minds, our hearts, and our souls.

When I truly make the choice to fix my eyes on Christ, it keeps me from growing weary and losing heart because he is the one who is altogether lovely, the one wholly desirable, and he feeds my soul with beauty. Because he is the ultimate beauty, when I purpose to put Christ in, more Christ (and consequently, more beauty) comes flowing out. It's that simple.

The secret is really that. simple.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

beauty{full}: the unexpected

Today I got put on bed rest. This was unexpected to me. You know who did not find this unexpected? God. You know what else was not unexpected by Him? The incredible out pouring of love and service from the wonderful community He has placed us in. This has been beautiful. And I am thanking God for the opportunity to see once again how deeply loved our family is.

I'm going to keep this short because I'm tired and the medication they put me on makes me more than a little bit dizzy, but I'm home (which is beautiful) and the contractions are under control and not moving towards labour (which is beautiful) and I have more help right now than I know what to do with (which is beautiful) and I was able to keep in great contact with the Man all through this (and that too was beautiful).

I just wanted you to rejoice with me. Because as much as we celebrated reaching 30 weeks yesterday, I want to celebrate reaching 30 weeks and 1 day with both twins still inside and the ability to be at home with my little men.

Please forgive the many double negatives included in this post and the general poor writing. I blame the tiny little yellow pill they're making me swallow every six hours. And while blaming it, thanking God for the unexpected chance to take said pill and thereby keep the twins in for a few more weeks (six, hopefully).

Thank you for your prayers for our family, and for rejoicing with us in God's sovereignty, modern medicine, the instantaneous communication provided by technology, and the joy of being home.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Monday, October 28, 2013

beauty{full}: some house keeping and a quick thought

I'm here to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post with a little bit of house keeping. I know this will throw you all for an extreme loop since you've been coming in droves to hear me ramble on existentially about beauty (kidding--my readership triples every time I write about the twins, so I'm well aware of what you're coming for). At any rate, a few little things that we need covered, and then I'll give you a quick thought on beauty at the end. And bonus: there will be pictures.

So, first off, celebrate with me: we've reached the 30 week mark! There is no turning back now! As if there was the possibility of turning back before...hmm... Seriously, though, it's pretty fun being in the home stretch, even though now my belly is so big I have to take my belly pictures in landscape:


It's a joke. Laugh a little. 

I have however, officially out grown every single maternity shirt I own and am now living solely in dresses (and one lovely bright-orange muumuu from Africa). Okay, I guess what I'm wearing right now is sort of tunic-ish, but, unless my memory fails me, there was a day (long ago) when I wore it with leggings, and I'm not of the tribe that believes leggings are an appropriate substitute for pants. In more fun pregnancy news, this is the first time my wedding rings have ever stayed on this long, which is proof that the twins really are taking every bit of nutrition from me.

Yesterday the boys dragged me (against my will) to the fall festival on base. And then made me stand in line forever (also against my will) so they could ride a horse. Here's my knight in shining armour. He gave a huge grin the second I put the camera down. Stinker. And yes, that child is fearless (even braving the massive bouncy-slide, though he required a little help getting to the top), but his ability to stay straight in a saddle is non-existent.


And here is the Little Man (literally), finally getting the gumption to ride the horse after spending the last two fall festivals just watching from the side lines. Seriously, all he did the last two years was sit and watch the horse. At any rate, I am unbelievably proud. I may have teared up a little. Shut up: I'm hormonal. Much like his brother, little dude kept accidentally attempting to ride the side of the horse instead of the back. What is it with my children? They obviously got their poor horsemanship skills from me. And for the inquiring minds desperate to know, Littles rode first; I'm just too lazy to reorder the pictures.


Also, just so credit is given where credit is due, I totally bloused Little's pants with rubber bands. And his pants are being held up by a file clip. That is ingenuity at its best, my friend. Also, are those kids cute or what? Even if the Little Man didn't have his eyes open the whole way.


Lastly, I'm nesting like a crazy woman right now. Which is hard to do when you're massively pregnant with twins, but I'm hoping to have some nursery progress to show you, sooner rather than later. I'm also  being good and writing out my birth plan, the boys' schedule (for whoever is with them), and my needs-to-happen-before-twins To Do list in case I go into labour early and someone else is finishing those last few things I haven't quite gotten to. The productivity level around here is sickening.

But to close you out with one beauty related thought, this morning I read Isaiah 61:10 which says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lordmy soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

I find myself asking in response, "Am I truly allowing the Lord to clothe me in beauty or am I demanding my right to beautify myself in my own way?" Perhaps the ultimate Artist has a different plan for my beautification than I do. Can I trust him to know the specific details of the garments of salvation he has for me? Can I rejoice in him, even when he adorns me with different jewels than the ones I would've picked? Can I exult in him, when he has placed on my head what seems to me a maid's cap instead of a magnificent headdress?

Just thinking. In between everything else of course, the To Do lists and the mommying and the nesting and the growing of brains and lungs and hearts. And inviting you, as always, to think with me. And laugh with me. And occasionally laugh at me.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Sunday, October 27, 2013

beauty{full}: brave

I have always stuck out like a sore thumb. Tall and blonde in a small and wonderfully Asian culture, if I stepped out of the house, people were watching. In fact, once we moved to the kampung, I didn't even have to walk through my front door: a small alley ran right in front of our home, and my mom put up curtains so that we could eat our meals without being watched by a large contingent of children with their faces pressed up against our windows.

Then when we hit our first deployment, I was one of the first in our group of young military wives to go through one, and I sensed them watching me, waiting to see how I would do, how I would handle it--especially pregnant with our first child. No pressure...

Still, it has been nothing compared to these last few months. For the first time, probably, I have found myself to be a source of gossip. I don't mean bad gossip. I just mean that this is a crazy story and people are retelling it. At least once a month, one of my friends tells me, laughingly, that she over-heard someone at some function asking if they'd heard about the deployed spouse with two toddlers who is now pregnant with twins. The "Hey! I know her!" ice breaker is hard to resist. Trust me, my mother has used my height as an ice breaker for years--I'm an excellent ice breaker.

I don't really mind. Nobody lives in a bubble. People are watching. I learned this at an early age. It has proved to be a challenge to me, probably in a good way, but a constant challenge to be brave--not fake--but to speak my reality in a way that somehow still brings glory to Christ.

One of the traditions the boys and I do around meal times is the lighting of a candle. As the flame touches the wick, we talk about what it means to let the Light of the world shine through us in the every day. The funny thing is that as the story of the twins has circulated our small base, my opportunities to let my light shine have increased a thousand fold. I can allow my fears and failures and need for grace to point to Christ and reach a much larger audience than I even realize: the neighbors who stop me as I walk the dog (boys in tow), the curious shoppers who want to ask when I'm due, even (maybe especially) the doctors and nurses who will see me deliver these babies without my husband by my side.

So today, I'm going to ask you to pray for me: to be brave--again, not fake, never fake--but brave enough to use my words and my life to point to Christ, to real Truth, to His endless Grace, even when there are more moments of fear and exhaustion and frustration than I care to count. Pray that I will be brave enough to not waste this opportunity to be light. Pray that I will remember that all bravery is rooted in Christ's grace towards me.

I'm planning to print out and frame this printable soon.

And thank you: for providing me this opportunity to be brave with my words by reading what I write here and responding to me with such encouragement and compassion. I'm grateful. This bravery, I'm learning, is a beautiful thing--even when it means forcing myself to write daily for 31 days straight and feeling like I'm driving you all insane with my ceaseless drivel.

The boys and I have been enjoying this song together lately, and I wanted to share. I also wanted to ask you if you would be willing to go out on a limb and share back with me an area where you have been challenged to bravery lately. And we all know I don't do "reader response" requests very often, so humour me. I'm pregnant, and my husband's deployed--how can you say no to this massive belly? But watch the video first. Preferably while trying out your best dance moves--I did, and they were womb-shakingly epic.


{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Saturday, October 26, 2013

beauty{full}: home

So. Figuring out this homemaking thing hasn't been the easiest thing I've ever done. I remember telling the Man when we were discussing when to have kids that I'd like a couple years of having a living room that wasn't completely covered in children's toys. Actually, let's be honest, I said five to ten years of "adult space". About that...

At any rate, the Man and I spent the first four months of our married life in temporary lodging on a tiny Army base in Texas: one bedroom with attached bath, a mini-fridge and a microwave. Don't believe me? The blog has photographic evidence. And then the day we signed on our first apartment, we found out the Man was deploying and that I was pregnant. Needless to say, this threw a wrench in my homemaking plans. I'm still trying to catch up. Right now, I'm living in sheer terror that I'm going to accidentally step on some left out toy that I couldn't see due to The Belly and crash ungracefully to the floor, thereby ending up with multiple injuries that will require me to ask for even more help than I am currently humbling myself to request. Needless to say, I have become the Pick Up Nazi lately.

I've had to learn the basics of caring for and decorating a home through three pregnancies, three moves, and two deployments, and it just hasn't come naturally. I've never gotten to a place where I've felt like things were perfect and I could call it a day and rest on my laurels. Part of this is my tendency towards perfectionism; part of this is that when I think we are actually getting settled, we hit yet another transition; and part of this is just the nature of having a home full of growing children with changing needs.

Thankfully, I have some wonderful people to learn from, including both of my mothers and a whole host of friends who model for me what it is like to create a beautiful home (beautiful, not perfect). I also read good books. Here are a few truths that I am fighting to implement into our home life:

Homemaking is about making a home, not about making perfection. A perfect home is an authentic, creative, animated space where Peace and Christ and Beauty are embraced. {Perfect does not equate to immaculate.}

I have these words (and the other 9 Helps) taped up inside my laundry room. I need the constant reminder that "perfect" for our family doesn't mean "perfect" in my normal sense of the word. There will be dog fur trapped underneath the legs of the coffee table, there will be toy trains peaking out from beneath the TV stand, and sometimes there will be stuffed animals joining us at the dinner table.

Surrounding myself with God's Word:
In everything give thanks.
Even the fact that the boys are using my curling iron as a baseball bat.
Just for today, I will ask for His grace to transfigure all things into beauty. He's working to redeem all things, in His time, into the image of His Son. 

These grace prayers are taped up by my kitchen sink (yes, my husband has lovingly pointed out that this is tacky--and I deserve that), and I pray through them daily. Because there are daily dishes. And yes, even those dishes are being redeemed somehow into His Image. I pray that I am too. If you go looking for these grace prayers on Ann Voskamp's blog, I believe she has updated to a different version from the one I have.

See how well my pathetic house plant is doing?
And please don't judge the candle:
it was leftover from last year.
Waste not, want not.
The point of keeping a home is not to be perfectionistic or neurotic about cleanliness and order but to create a life of balance that brings joy to your world and those around you.
(Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 112)

I wrote about this book a few months ago, and it continues to challenge me. In fact, I selflessly mailed my copy to my mom-in-love, per her request, only to have a friend give me another copy last month! I was more excited than I care to admit. This was one of the moments that gave me a little kick in the rear. I am both perfectionistic and neurotic (sadly, not just about cleanliness and order). I demand that everything be put away at the end of the day though I have been repeatedly challenged to allow my children to more fully explore their art by occasionally leaving things out--really cool train tracks have even made it a few days. But I'm the first to tell you that a completely trashed room makes my skin itch. Literally. Don't even get me started on how annoyed I am to be physically incapable of doing most of the cleaning of the house right now (I am playing mind games with myself in regard to the spider webs that have taken over our front porch--it's in character for the month!). I have to, have to, sit back and ask myself if the goal is a clean and orderly house or the "life of balance" that brings joy to our family.

My happy fall bookshelf.
The reality is that a family, eating, creating dirty dishes, playing, making messes, and having fun simply generates lots and lots of work. The constant stream of work will never really stop flowing: it will only change and morph over time. Your home will never be perfect, but accepting housework challenges as a part of a normal life and embracing them as part of a regular rhythm will allow you to enjoy the people in your home. When you do, your children have the potential to remember home as a place of harmony and positivity.
(Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 113)

That concept of a regular rhythm...it helps me. A lot. I am a scheduler, a planner. I like routine. And I function better in it. So do the boys. With twins on the way, our routine is about to get chucked out the window and we will have to regroup yet again. That scares to mess out of me. And that's okay. We will get back to our rhythm eventually; it just might've shifted into a slightly more complex tempo than it was previously.

The most beautiful thing happening in our home:
snuggles and reading about Jesus.

Don't neglect to see the beauty of the life around you while being over-whelmed by the duties of life.
(Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 159)

I don't want to miss it. And I know you don't want to either. I want the making of my home to be about actually making a home not fulfilling some deep-seated desire for perfection (whether in decorating, cleaning, or organizing). I want to see the beauty that is already there and allow it to inspire me to create more beauty.

{One of the small ways I have sought to bring beauty into our home is to non-creepily stalk bloggers who provide free printables that I can incorporate into our seasonal decor: a quick and cheap-as-free fix for my decorating boredom. You can find the Give Thanks printable here, the Galatians 6:9 one here, and the Autumn Essentials printable here.}

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Friday, October 25, 2013

beauty{full}: re-scarring

I heard a story once of a young woman who, as a little girl, was badly bitten on the face by a dog. Years later, she's still working with the doctors to remove the scars. And do you know how they do it? By repeated dermabrasion, which is, in a sense, literally sanding down the old scars so that new skin can form where the scar once was.

I cannot get this out of my mind. The thought that, in order to heal, we must have our old scars sanded off of us. We must allow for repeated re-scarring (if you will) in order to ultimately de-scar. Is this the way to beauty in a broken world?

***

The Man's mother is one of the most beautiful women I know. I spend almost every pregnancy praying that one of my kids will end up with her eyes (no luck so far, but I have better odds this time, right?). But my favourite thing about my mother-in-law is her arms. If you look carefully, you can see tiny little white scars covering her hands all the way up past her elbows. These scars are the evidence of 28 years of selflessly caring for my husband's disabled twin. 

For twenty eight years, the Man's wonderful parents have cared for their son, in their own home, with their own hands, at great personal cost and sacrifice to themselves. They have changed diapers, given baths, learned more medical care than some doctors I know. They have strained their bodies, spent their money, lived for months at the hospital, repeatedly rearranged their home and home life so that their son could receive the best care they could possibly give. 

And the scars on my mom-in-love's arms are just one of the testimonies to the incredible love they have poured and continue to pour out on their child. He is alive because of them. He is alive because of their sacrifice. He is alive because they allowed themselves to be repeatedly scarred and re-scarred for his sake. And the result is incredibly beautiful. 

I see it. Not just when I look at him (and after my husband and our kids, he gives me some of the best hugs ever), but also when I look at my in-laws. They are made beautiful in this sacrificial scarring. They have been transformed by it.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Thursday, October 24, 2013

beauty{full}: being personal

It's my mom's 60th birthday today. Well, today where she is, not today where I am. And interestingly enough, one of the most beautiful things I've heard this week came from her. And no, Mom, it was not anything from that insanely long email you sent me about Bonhoeffer. In all pathetic honesty, the twins have so fried my brain that half of what was in there was completely incomprehensible to me, but thank you for believing in my remaining smarts, even if everyone else is aware that they have long since flown the coop.

Anyway, my mom was sharing with me about her plans for her sixtieth birthday. One of the things I love about my mom is her ability to throw herself a party. And this year she did just that: with a few dozen orphans. From the pictures, it looks like she loved every minute of it. In the middle of our conversation about crazy cake and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, she made a throw away comment about having another party at the deaf school with the orphan girl that she had gotten enrolled there because--get this--she had given this little girl her birthday.

I'm not sure why this struck me in the way that it did. Maybe it's because, to me, birthdays are intensely personal (on my birthday, I want to make sure that everyone knows it's about ME), and if I were to enroll an orphan in school and have to pick a birthday for their paperwork, I would more than likely just pick a random date. Not my mom. My mom picks her own birthday to share. And then she takes the time to celebrate it. With cake. That's selfless. That's personal. That's beautiful. And I can't get it out of my thoughts.

So I just want to take a moment to celebrate the sixty beauty-filled years of my mom's life. She makes me unbelievably proud and gives me endless food for thought (sometimes more than I can handle--cough, cough, Bonhoeffer, cough, cough). Most of all, I love being able to sit back and watch her grow in beauty more and more with each passing year. And I'm glad that this year she's going to show up in time to help me celebrate my birthday. Maybe we'll play pin-the-twins-on-the-gigantic-belly. But there will most definitely be cake.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

beauty{full}: spirit

I was describing a mutual acquaintance to the Man a while ago in an effort to remember her name. I told him her height, hair color, build, and where he would have know her. When he figured out who I was talking about he replied, "Oh! You mean the angry one!" I would never have thought to describe her that way, having always thought of her as an attractive woman, but once I sat down and considered it...yeah...she did kind of come across as angry all the time. So much so that my husband never even noticed her other physical characteristics.

In contrast, one of the most beautiful women I know is not what one would call traditionally pretty, but when I look at her face, I am overwhelmed by the kindness in her eyes, the gentle spirit evidenced, the obvious desire to lovingly serve others, even at her own expense. Though her face is scarred, her hair thinning, and her teeth no where near straight, she has always been the example for me of true beauty. When I describe her to others, I find myself speaking of her character instead of her physical traits. I have no need to list off her physical attributes because her spirit so clearly shows through.

Over and over again I learn that the physical inevitably flows from the spiritual. There is only so long that a pretty face can be pretty before it needs a beautiful spirit to make it into something more. And when a pretty face has behind it an ugly spirit...that spirit doesn't hide for very long. We spend so much time whitening our teeth and plucking our eyebrows and moisturizing our skin, when perhaps we should instead work on developing a beautiful spirit that would counteract our inevitable physical defaults. Because let's be honest: no matter how good we might look right now (and for some of us that's still up for debate), twenty years down the road there will be more wrinkles on our faces (and everywhere else) and less hair on our heads.

So let's ask ourselves: what do we think people see when they look at us? Do they see a mere amalgamation of physical characteristics or do they see our spirits shining out from beyond these temporal facades and transforming everything from our bushy hair to our big feet? And what do we want to do about that?

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

beauty{full}: trash trucks

I'm going to keep this brief because I've been having massive amounts of heartburn all day today, and I think I'm finally done with it and just want to go to sleep. I'm also having hot flashes like nobody's business. There's nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat only to discover that the thermostat is set on 66. I'm sure the Man is really sad he's missing this--his equator girl normally likes the temperature at a slow roast.

Anyway, today was trash day. In our house, that's a big deal. The trash truck normally comes around breakfast time, and there's a mad scramble from the table to the kitchen window so we can watch the trash truck collect the contents of the bin. Generally, there are squeals of excitement from the boys and a desperate attempt from me to avoid letting Tiny's yogurt splattered self transfer his nastiness to me. The boys get such a kick out of it. I'm not saying that it's their favourite part of the day, but it's close. Seriously. They love that trash truck. They think it is awesome. In their minds, every day should be trash day. Need I say it? Somehow in their little boy brains, the trash truck is a thing of beauty.

This got me thinking. Are there other things that are really ugly (I mean, seriously: trash trucks are gross) that we have somehow relegated to the status of beautiful for one reason or another? In the case of the trash truck, the boys are endlessly excited by the giant claw that grabs our garbage bin and that is why it quantifies as beautiful. But what about, say, certain animals that are absolutely fascinating in their ugliness (naked mole rats, I'm talking about you)? Do they somehow become beautiful since they are just so darn interesting? I don't know.

But lately I have been thinking about something ugly that has been relegated to a place of beauty. In fact, many of us find it so beautiful that we put replicas of it on the walls of our home, on our jewelry, tattooed on our bodies: a cross.

Can anyone think of a modern day equivalent of the cross? An electric chair. Yep. How would you like a little gold electric chair to hang around your neck?

So, what's the deal? It would take something big, something very big for me to see an electric chair as anything but a means for execution. And that's what helps me understand the true impact of what Christ did on the cross. If it can so totally change the way we see a mode of execution, then surely something of incredible import has happened here. I think the truth is that when we look at the cross, we don't see a gallows or a guillotine or an electric chair: we see grace made flesh.

And it was no small grace. It was such an incredible, unbelievable, inconceivable grace (Christ
voluntarily giving his life for us) that it utterly obliterated the ugliness of the cross, transforming it into the ultimate symbol of beauty.

I think that beats out the trash truck, somehow.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Monday, October 21, 2013

beauty(full): finishing

I spent today painting this bookshelf. And then repainting it and moving it back to the nursery and then going to war with it over getting the shelves back in and then repainting over the ensuing casualties of war and then finally stocking it with books and other paraphernalia.  And please, please, I beg you, do not judge this bookshelf by the picture I took of it. It looks really cute in real lighting and not the manufactured lighting I had to produce with the help of a handy friend once I finally finished things at 9pm. Or so.


I want to tell you that the lesson I learned about beauty today is that it requires hard work and perseverance, but I don't think that's completely true. You see, it wasn't about hard work or perseverance today: it was about my own stupidity and sheer dogged stubbornness that I was going to finish at least one thing (one thing!) when I don't feel like anything else is getting finished these days. I also fully realize that it would've taken a smarter, more experienced painter about half the time and effort it took me. I got the job done, but someone else would've done a better job of it and finished it two days ago.

I could tell you that the lesson I learned fell right in line with the Nester's motto, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful," but I'm not entirely sure that it's beautiful and I tried obsessively to get it as close to perfect as possible. So...yeah...not there yet.

I will tell you this, though, the fact that it's done (even if I end up moving various items around on it--and yes, I realize that the lamp is lightbulb-less) makes me feel a little bit less stressed out about things. Did you know that thebump.com told me to pack my hospital bag this week? Seriously?! I'm only at the 29 week mark, people! Can we say overkill?

I promise you that I'm not going crazy about the fact that the nursery is not done yet, or anything along those lines, but it is driving me crazy that I don't feel like I'm really accomplishing much these days. The dishes I wash with my belly propped up against the sink ledge get dirty again. The sheets I struggle to put on the beds get peed on again. The boys I strain valiantly cuddle and hug need to be comforted again. I am in an endless cycle where the work gets done just to be done all over again. And this doesn't even touch on twinancy where the end seems to be no where in sight.

This is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.

But sometimes, feeling like I've finished something, even something as small as painting a bookshelf, is what I need to feel like beauty has been realized. Sometimes it's finding some free artwork online, printing it off, and rearranging some picture frames. Sometimes it's...yeah, no, I can't even think of a third example for you because this kind of moment has been so rare lately.

I'm not talking about the everyday beautiful small things here. I did those today too: drinking a mug of hot cocoa and savouring the half-melted marshmallows at the end, taking the boys to a bookstore and actually buying them books, eating dinner by candle light... No, I'm talking here about purposefully taking the time to create something beautiful, from start to finish. Not petering out. Not losing interest. Not giving up. But saying: no matter how insignificant this might seem to someone else, it matters to me, and I will work to bring beauty into my home. That's what I'm talking about.

And that's what I needed today. Even if I almost killed myself trying to make it happen.

This picture is a freebie for you.
And an explanation for why this blog is so late.
Hard to type with cat-belly.
{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Sunday, October 20, 2013

beauty{full}: uncooperative life

I want to believe there's beauty here... I want to believe there's meaning here...
"Need You Now (How Many Times)" by Plumb

This morning was like something out of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It was my fault how it started because I had stayed up too late, entirely of my own accord, but then it went downhill from there. I had two sets of sheets to throw in the wash when Sunday is supposed to be my no laundry day (but pee and poop wait for no woman), the cat barfed on top of the fridge, the newly painted bookshelf stuck to the drop cloth, my deodorant exploded all over the bathroom floor, my coffee was cold and I had no time to reheat it, Tiny decided to fill up his diaper when we were already late for Sunday School, and to top it off, the dog tracked mud all over the house and yes, all over my bed--more laundry! 

In the middle of all this, the Little Man found me crying hysterically in the living room (after first yelling hysterically at Trigger), and when he asked me what was wrong and I replied that Mommy was having a bad day (because I am that annoying mom that talks about myself in the third person--I've tried to break the habit--sadly I have been unsuccessful), he didn't even give me a hug, he just went back to his legos. Seriously!? I know you're three, but I don't even get a hug?

Anyway, Tiny cried at Sunday School drop off and Children's Church drop off, this after lovingly ramming Gordon's metal coal car into the side of my face midway through the opening prayer (ow. ow. ow.). I couldn't concentrate on anything but the children's bulletin Word Find during church (and still had four words left to find at the end of the sermon, which, let me tell you, was a real blow). Tiny ended church with a low grade fever (probably from teething, but really?). And...do I need to go on?

I promise--I promise--that I was doing my best to get out of my funk. But every time I made any form of headway, something else happened! And the only thing I could think of was:

How is cat barf beautiful?
How are peed on sheets beautiful?
How are muddy paw prints beautiful?

And sometimes it's enough to make you feel crazy when all the little things seem to be going wrong but all you can think of are theoretical questions that don't de-mud your carpet or wash your laundry or get your kids in the car on time. And guys: that's okay.

Tomorrow is a new day. There are times when life doesn't just seem messy, it seems ugly and drab and entirely uncooperative. We keep going. Tomorrow is always a chance to start again, so we take a deep breath and just--keep--going, and sometimes...sometimes...we play this song on repeat and try to inundate our minds with truth until we finally get through.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Saturday, October 19, 2013

beauty{full}: ugly/beautiful

I learned a new word for beauty this week: pulchritude. Seriously. Thank you, West Wing (my at home entertainment while painting and writing thank you notes). Pulchritude is quite possibly one of the ugliest words I've ever heard. Something about this makes me really happy on the inside. And I want to refer to all my friends as pulchritudinous.

Honestly, that's all I have to say tonight: that sometimes there are ugly words that still mean beautiful things. Extra points for you if you respond to this post with your own ugly/beautiful word. And now I'm going to bed. Because tomorrow morning comes early.

Wait, one more thing, you want to know something that is not necessarily ugly or beautiful but definitely awkward? This morning, Littles asked me to demonstrate a jumping jack. Naturally, we were outside when this occurred. I'm just praying that no cars drove by and no neighbors peaked out their windows as I awkwardly attempted to shuffle my feet outward in what could be referred to as a "jumping motion" only by those who have never seen it done except by a woman attempting the feat with a thirty pound beach ball strapped onto her front. The End.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Friday, October 18, 2013

beauty{full}: messy

Littles and one of his buddies
making their version of beauty
I just got finished with phase one of painting the nursery bookshelf. Is it weird that I'm more excited about stocking the twins' bookshelf than almost anything else about this twinancy? Seriously. Yes. Anyway, I'm now a little paint splattered, mostly thanks to the cat who decided to take a walk across the aforementioned newly painted furniture. He's bright like that. He's also now shut in the guest room for the rest of the night. Or possibly permanently.

Anyway, we spent the early part of the evening carving and then painting a pumpkin at a deployed family event. The painting was the Little Man's idea. After I painstakingly carved him a cat pumpkin (his choice), paying careful attention to every detail in order to make it the best jack-o-lantern in Frizz Family History (which is not saying much considering last year's rookie pumpkin carving attempt), he covered over the entire pumpkin in gloppy purple and red paint.

And he loves it. He thinks that his painted pumpkin is the most beautiful masterpiece ever. He even painted the stem. That right there is attention to detail, my friends.

I could make a crack about how beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, but the truth is, looking at that pumpkin, I don't see the gobs of purple paint that are probably now festooning the inside of our car after driving a very round and rolly pumpkin home (don't worry, hubs, the paint is washable). Instead, I see how much fun Littles had and how proud he is of his handiwork. That makes it beautiful for me too.

Littles also lovingly used Tiny as a canvas.
This was post clean up.
Pre-clean up, he looked a little like a zombie.
I will be honest and tell you that it's hard for me to see messy as beautiful. I am a neat freak at best, and potentially OCD at worst. I like socks put away in organized drawers, beds made, pictures straight. But sometimes, I need to relearn the beauty of messiness. A floor covered in train tracks and bowling pins is more than just messiness--it's a sign of happy children at play, and that's beautiful. A recliner hung with discarded uniforms and PT gear is more than just messiness--it's a sign that my husband is comfortable in his own home and that's beautiful too. A kitchen counter littered with measuring cups and flour is more than just messiness--it's a sign of a well-fed family enjoying yet another meal together and that's beautiful and also makes me hungry.

It's okay for me to make the boys put their toys away at the end of the day. And it's okay for me to lovingly roll my eyes and throw the Man's clothes in the hamper. And it's okay for me to wash the dishes and wipe down the counters. These things have their place. But I don't want to miss out on the chance to see the beauty hiding in all the mess. That would be the real loss.

Incidentally, these days I really miss the opportunity to roll my eyes and throw some ABUs in the hamper.


Also, for the sake of honesty, I made sure that the paint got smoothed down on that pumpkin before we brought it home. I pretended that it was because it would help it dry more quickly (which is legitimate), but secretly, I also know that I'm going to be looking at a purple pumpkin for the next month--and some of the paint blobs had to go.



{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Thursday, October 17, 2013

beauty{full}: spoken love

There is more to say about scars in relation to the topic of beauty, but I'm waiting for permission to tell a story that is not my own. If you don't hear anything else about it, that's why, but I'm hoping to come back to that topic later in the month.

For now though, I want to swing back to something we talked about earlier, the concept that being loved makes us more beautiful, inside and out. And not just being loved, but knowing we are loved. Because--what is that old saying--if a tree falls in the forest and no one is listening, does it make a sound? This is the same concept:

If we are loved but we don't know it, does it have any effect on us?

If we love others but never tell them, does our love provide any benefit for them?

Spoken love leaves two-way beauty marks. It beautifies both the speaker and the hearer. So why do we not do this more? This is, perhaps, one of the easiest ways to surround ourselves with beauty: by speaking it into existence in the people around us.

So I want to take a moment to show you this in action. Below is a video of the Little Man reading "daddy's book" to his brother. Every night we read this book before bed. Normally, the reading is punctuated by Tiny interjecting the name of the country where the Man is or the boys breaking into fights over who gets to turn the page or just a general "mmmhmm"ing from both boys after a statement that they particularly resonate with that night. This week, Littles decided to start "reading" it himself. A few of the words get skipped. (Apologies on the formatting--I've been trying to get this video up all night.)



Littles misses his daddy because he loves his daddy. This love makes him stronger and more beautiful inside and out, day by day. Sharing this video with the Man is one way that he can tell his dad how much he loves him. He is speaking love to his father. This in turn helps the Man be a better dad, a better worker, a better man. The love of his children transforms my husband inside and out.

I have thought often how wonderful it is to have a husband that I truly miss, how beautiful it is for my children to have a dad that they want to spend time with. Sometimes this is a hard reality when he is gone. But when we take the time to tell him, it becomes something lovely.

Let this be one small encouragement to you: choose beauty--speak love into someone's life. Even if it makes you feel awkward or the words sometimes get caught in your throat.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

beauty{full}: his scars

There is no way I could write this series without at some point directly addressing the beauty of Christ. The interesting thing is that when I sit down to write about the One I find most beautiful, I don't know how to lead in and I don't even really know where to start. Because the truth is that the Bible tells us Jesus had "no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2). Literally, he was ugly, unattractive, not beautiful.

So, what's the deal? Is it merely Christ's character, his wisdom and gentleness, his counter-cultural words that are attractive to me, two thousand years down the road? No. And this is where I find myself back where we left off two days ago.

The beauty of Christ lies in his scars.

I use the word "scars" purposefully in this case. First, because if Christ had never died on the cross for me, all his teaching and miracles and life-stories would be nothing more than anyone else's. I don't speak of any of the other great philosophers as beautiful. No, it is his scars that set him apart, that brand him as the one who didn't just speak but sacrificed himself for our salvation.

Second, because have you ever noticed that if a person is wounded prior to death, we do not speak of their scars? Their wounds never have time to become scars. They never progressed farther than bloodied cuts before the life left the body, never to return again. The wounds in Christ's hands and feet and on his side are only scars because he did not stay dead. He is alive, and so he bears the literal scars of the salvation he paid for with his own flesh and blood. He says to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." (John 20:27) The scars are the proof. Not only that he died but also that when we die with him we too can live again with him.

I don't want to see Christ's hands unscarred. I don't want to see Christ's feet whole. I don't want to see Christ's side seamless. Why? Because then I have wasted my time worshiping a mere man who has done nothing more than talk. Christ's scars are the proof of grace, of hope, of unshakeable, everlasting, incomparable love.

"By his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). And by his scars we are saved. Not just from our own sin in this life, but for an unimaginably wonderful future in the next. And the beauty in that leaves me speechless.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Break from Beautiful

I hereby confess that instead of getting to work blogging once the boys went to bed, I have been playing with my new Mac all night. It's so pretty that I can't get over it. And I've decided that the new Mac smell may beat out new car smell and even new shoe smell.

But the truth is that I received the box with said new computer in it this afternoon and was too freaked out and excited to even take it out of the box. If I had, I probably would've played with it this afternoon and then been legitimately productive this evening, but I didn't. I waited for moral support and was lucky enough to have invited a friend over for dinner. If you don't understand why I was too overwhelmed to even open a new computer that I am desperately excited about, you don't know me very well. It took me a full week before I could use my last new computer without first washing my hands. I'm a little OCD. And expensive things terrify me.

Anyway, all that to say, I could throw together a quick blog on beauty tonight (I even know what I want to write about), but I'm tired. Our household was on discipline crack down most of today, and I need some rest before we potentially go for round two tomorrow. So, yes, I admit defeat. But if it will make you feel better, I can try to swing a two part post tomorrow evening and thereby redeem myself.

Today: thanking God for new computers and best god-aunts, for friends who don't judge my children or my parenting, for the cool weather this hot-flashing pregnant mama so appreciates, and for moments of rest in the midst of work.

Monday, October 14, 2013

beauty{full}: scars

Hello, third trimester.

You guys, this belly doesn't mess around. I'm knocking stuff over left and right, I'm having to get creative in order to fit through the shower doors, and the boys are finding less and less of a lap to sit on. It happens. Littles and Tiny are, however, keeping themselves entertained by adorning their unborn siblings with stickers at every turn. I then forget to de-sticker before going out in public, probably because half of the stickers I can't even see as they are on the literal bottom of my belly (the underbelly of my belly?). Regardless, hurray for making it to the homestretch, even if it's just the beginning of the homestretch. Let's get this thing done.

Since we're already talking about pregnancy and I'm still supposed to be blogging about beauty (are you guys bored yet? don't tell me if you are--I'm committed to sticking this out), I thought I'd write about stretch marks, a subject with which I become more and more intimately acquainted by the day.

So, did you know that "stretch marks" is just a slightly more genteel way of saying "scars"? Yes.

I will be honest and say that, in general, I find scars to be pretty cool. Each one is a story possibility, and no, I don't always mean completely factual stories. Ask me sometime about the scar I got from wrestling down the tiger I had been riding to school through the untamed jungles of Indonesia. That's a great one.

Amusingly enough, I don't have the same affection for my stretch marks as I do for my scars. I know I should look at them lovingly, each one a sign of the soon-to-be-four wonderful children that I love dearly, but in all honesty: they're just ugly. The stretch marks, not the kids. The Man and I have a policy that we send all the ugly babies back. We've been lucky so far.

Anyway, point being that I'm not mature enough to find my stretch marks beautiful. I hope I can get there one day. Right now: it galls me that I'm not even thirty and my belly looks like Tiny took a shiny red marker and scribbled all over it.


Here is what I want though: I want to look at my stomach and see, not ugliness, but the beauty of four kids and three healthy pregnancies. I want to look at my stomach and see God writing a story that is absolutely fascinating (when I am tempted to think my storyline is on occasion a bit trite and sometimes mundane). I want to look at my stomach and see God not just stretching me physically with the swelling of pregnancy but God stretching me emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually (pregnancy brain aside). I want to look at the stretch marks scarring my stomach and see God.

I guess this too is a form of selective viewing, perhaps one that is a bit more difficult for me. In this case, instead of looking for the beautiful and blocking out the ugly, I am looking my version of ugly right in the face and asking God to help me rewrite my definition, rethink my story. I'm learning that sometimes I just need to learn how to see all over again.

And this doesn't just apply to my stretch marks. It applies to people too.

When I see someone whose behaviour and choices are "ugly" to me, do I look away and try to ignore them? Do I write them off as lacking? Do I keep my distance so that I don't become ugly by extension? Or do I ask God to change the way I see them so that instead of "ugly stretch marks" I begin to catch a glimpse of the ones God made in His image, the ones God called beautifully and wonderfully made, the ones for whom God sent His son to die?

I need to learn to see again. I need to ask God to remind me that there are always stories behind the stretch marks.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Sunday, October 13, 2013

beauty{full}: a little inspiration

With complete disregard for yesterday's post (haha), I'm providing you with just a few things that inspire me in my quest for beauty. Feel free to peruse at your leisure. Yes, this is a cheater post because I stayed up late talking with a wonderful friend who drove seven hours here just so she could spend one day loving on my boys and washing dishes for me before driving seven hours back. She is the beautiful one. Anyway...


This song:

And this one:



And these books:






(Some of the above books have been referenced on the blog before, but I'm sharing them with you again because the timing demanded it.)

And these kids, but they are my inspiration, not yours. You may, however, be inspired by the lovely donuts they are eating:


So go ahead, share with me something (anything!) that brings to mind the thought of beauty.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Saturday, October 12, 2013

beauty{full}: leaving space (part two)

This evening after dinner the Little Man exclaimed, "We didn't watch any TV this week!" His apparent surprise at this seeming phenomenon made me roll my eyes. Especially since I know he spent the entire drive to Dallas and back watching DVDs, so he wasn't even right in his TV-less conclusion.

I have spent the last week trying to detox the kids after two weeks of cuddles on the couch and Thomas the Tank Engine. I let things slide because they were sick, and I think that's legitimate (don't tell me if you disagree--I will wallow in self-induced guilt), but my immediate thought following Littles' pronouncement was how many more fun things we were able to do together because we weren't sitting with our eyes glued to the TV screen while our brains rotted out. We went for walks, played at the playground, saw friends, ran errands, got books at the library--the list could continue.

And then, because I spend too much time reading children's books, I thought of what Mama Bear said in The Berenstain Bears and Too Much TV: I don't have anything against TV; it's the TV habit I don't like. I could add, it's the smart phone habit and the laptop habit and the radio habit and any number of other things. The truth is that, at least for me, it is too easy to get sucked in. I am guilty as charged. But how much do I miss when I allow myself to substitute entertainment for true enjoyment, social networking for true society, constant contact for real community?

Yes, we can find real beauty in a well-developed film or an encouraging email from a friend or a lovely piece of music. But we can also miss out on a great deal of beauty if we forget to live life because we're too busy letting someone else do so for us. We must remember to make space for the beauty that is already around me just waiting to be acknowledged.

I wish I asked myself a little more often what I could turn off in order to leave even a little more space for beauty.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Friday, October 11, 2013

beauty{full}: leaving space


Two weeks of sickness here left us more than usually off-kilter. This week, I've been scrambling to get things rolling again, and have felt behind, exhausted, and even a little discouraged. I woke up this morning wanting a vacation. Yes, all this in spite of the fact that we've seen some improvement in the boys' sleeping and no one is sick now. Funny the let down you get after leaving behind survival mode.


So today we made a schedule. We had a quiet morning before going to the library and the playground and then I made plans for us to go play with another family (yes, I invited myself over because I love them and I knew my heart needed a pick-me-up). Being back on schedule helped me. We had a good day, because there was space for me to breathe around the legitimate needs of our family. Instead of being overwhelmed by my children and our To Do list, we made a plan (a flexible one) and implemented it.

I realize this doesn't work for everyone. I'm not touting the virtues of scheduling here or down playing the need for spontaneity. What I am realizing, however, is the need that we all have in our lives to make space: to rest, to seek Christ, to search out beauty. When we are rushing from one thing to the next, even if they are good or necessary things, there just isn't time for the unexpected. And finding beauty is generally unexpected.

To put this in perspective, after our play date this afternoon (during which time I sat on the front porch in a rocking chair talking to my friend and let my children play tackle football with her boys), I was booking it home because about 50 feet from their house I realized I had a desperate need for a bathroom. I'm just being honest. Welcome to twin pregnancy. And then, one block from our house, someone stopped to talk to me, a complete stranger who happened to live on the street behind me. And we had a lovely conversation during which we stopped being complete strangers, but I will not lie: it was the grace of God that I didn't pee on myself. But it was also the grace of God that I wasn't in a rush (other than to the toilet) and I had time to slow down and meet this other young mom and perhaps throw another life line of community out there. And that is always a beautiful thing.

That's what I mean about providing the space to find beauty (full bladders aside). It's the simple things, like allowing my children an extra five minutes in the bathtub so that I can load the dishwasher and wipe down the sink (beauty in the every day), or letting breakfast wait 10 minutes so that I can find a few moments to read the Word of God (beauty in Christ), or sending a text message to a friend asking if we can come over or a quick skype message to my mother requesting a few words of adult conversation (beauty in vulnerability). But we have to make the time for it. If we keep pushing, rushing, scrambling desperately through our lives without stopping to make a plan to leave space (or stopping spontaneously to leave space--whatever works for you), we will miss out on beauty.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

PS I just added a gadget on the right hand side of the blog that will allow you to subscribe to my blog. Will someone please try it out and tell me if it works? Please?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

beauty{full}: longing

I just want to ask you this one simple question tonight, and maybe you can think about it with me, and then we can come back tomorrow and go from there:

What if our desire for the beautiful is just a symptom of our hidden longing for something much more? What if our need for the aesthetically pleasing, the creative, the artistic is indicative of our hope for something beyond this broken world and our broken selves?

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

beauty{full}: functional not ornamental

My Little Man was born with a club foot. I think I've written about this before. Those first two weeks before casting commenced, I remember looking at his precious feet and thinking how beautiful they were, especially his little left foot that curved in towards him. And yes, his tiny foot was beautiful to me, his mama, but it was not functional, not at all. Without proper treatment, Littles would never be able to run or jump or dance, and walking would be excruciatingly painful.

The next three and a half years were filled with weekly casting appointments, surgery, most casts, then a 24/7 brace (that he learned to crawl in) and then a night time brace. Today, at three years, nine months, and two days, the Little Man has been given the go ahead to try life without the brace, to sleep with free feet, if you will.
My favourite Little Man,
asleep with his first cast on,
a daily reminder that though
Daddy was far away
he was sending all his love
halfway around the world
and all his prayers too.

His feet are now not just beautiful: they are functional.

I think sometimes God allows difficult times in our lives, moments that might even cause us some pain, to move our in-born beauty to one that functions more successfully. He wants that beauty to shine through and bless others, pointing them back to Him (the ultimate good), but that tends to require pruning, reshaping, and redirection. And pruning can be painful. The reshaping of bone and flesh into something that truly works can be painful. The redirection of our feet so that they are pointing outwards toward others instead of inwards toward ourselves can be painful too.

But would I prefer to skip the pain and be merely ornamental or endure it so that my beauty can more fully blossom forth into something that lives and breathes and works toward the blessing of others?

I have spent the last three years telling the Little Man that wearing that brace will help him have strong feet so that he can run and jump and dance, so that he can kick a soccer ball and climb a ladder and race with his friends. It is worth it to be uncomfortable to have that. It is worth it to endure momentary pain for the long-term goal of unfettered life. And now he has done his time and his foot is free and functional and full of beauty.

What am I willing to endure for the end result of a beauty that is more than just for show?

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

beauty{full}: rest

I want to start by saying thank you for all your prayers--not just in regard to today's test (everything went great: the doctor's are still estimating a mid-December arrival for the twins), but also in regard to the boys' sleep. We are seeing improvement, however small. It is imperfect progress but I will take that. So thank you.

On that note, I've been sitting at the computer for an hour trying to figure out what I wanted to write tonight. It's just been one of those days that has gotten away from me. I spent the evening enjoying one last get together with my longest friend here and her family before they move on to the east coast. It was such a nice way to end out our two years of friendship--a good meal, laughter as our boys rampaged, and coffee and cookies to finish things off. Unfortunately, as I've been sitting here trying to process and focus, the clock has been ticking on relentlessly and tomorrow is an early morning and a long day of driving. And I'm still not sure what I'm feeding the kids for their road trip breakfast. Air with a side of nothing?

So I'm sitting here listening to myself breathing and mentally berating myself for not getting my head in the game, whether that means attempting to write out something meaningful/semi-coherent or getting up and making a quick batch of muffins (that will not turn out inexplicably salty like this morning's batch did), and may I just say: that's okay. Clarification that the muffins were NOT okay, but that it IS okay to not always accomplish everything I think I have to.

It's okay to have an afternoon where you stay in bed for an hour or so and let your kids play trains on the floor of your bedroom. It's okay to have friends over and allow them to set the table for you and even wash the dishes. It's okay to not have everything taken care of at all times. Might I say, it is perhaps even a beautiful thing.

God has made each of us unique, and with our one-of-a-kind characters, He has also given us our own personal limitations (for the long or short term). We can kick against the goads or we can accept who we are and that He is daily bringing us closer to who He is without us killing ourselves to get there. So tonight, this is all I'm writing. And I'm going to go put on a pair of shorts and one of the Man's too big t-shirts (too big for him, no longer too big for me) and maybe even leave some dirty coffee mugs in the sink and not worry so much about breakfast for the boys and just rest--because I'm tired and there's a foot long baby boy shoved up underneath my rib cage and tomorrow comes early, and God knows that.

I will also make an extensive list of everything I need to do tomorrow morning before we leave because I'm like that too, and again, God knows that. Because he made me a planner and a list maker just as much as he handed me this specific set of circumstances that right now leave me needing to put up my feet for a little while, drink a cold glass of water, and be still.

It is beautiful that He knows me and my circumstances. And when I remember that He also made me the way I am--and actually likes me that way--that's beautiful too.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}