Joy! Journal AND...

There are a thousand ways a mom can feel overwhelmed.

A thousand things to accomplish.

A thousand worries.

A thousand hours of missing sleep over the course of 4 years years of parenting.

There are a thousand things to drag a mom down.


But there's this crazy hope inside of me, that I could live fully. Here. Now. Amongst diapers, grape juice stains, cheerio bottoms, whiney voices, and temper tantrums. (And later amongst wardrobe battles, rolling eyes, boyfriends, and attitudes). Because I truly believe motherhood is a gift, even when I feel exasperated and so very tired... I know these children are my blessing. I want to live on purpose and not so "half-there" because I'm tired and I can't figure out any other way to be.

I want to fully live.

I want to instill in my children how to fully live too.

I stumbled across the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp a couple months ago when a friend invited me to her church's study. I know I've mentioned the book here at least 20 times, but it's good, and it's changed me. It's a simple idea. It's really just about slowing down a couple times a day and counting the gifts you've been given. It's about finding the joy in the messes and beauty everywhere. It's inspired my Thankful Thursday posts and now a journal I keep super handy in my kitchen.

I count gifts and all the precious and fleeting moments with my children, because they're gifts too. I count the beautiful things I see and record things like my daughter trying to take Jed's "tensaber" (temperature, for those of you who aren't fluent in Addy). Things that perhaps only I will appreciate, but maybe Addy and Jed will one day as well. I try to write down the hard things too, like that the mess of cheerios is really just evidence that I am blessed with active children or how even when I was rushing Jed to the emergency room with a punctured ear drum, God was there and He gave us peace and kind doctors and an unexpected friend's visit who happened to be on her nursing shift.

My children are learning to be thankful. I am even writing love notes to my husband thanking him for all he does.

This simple act is changing my life, my family, and my marriage.

I may sound like a complete thankful fruit loop, but it's worth the risk if it helps change someone else.

Couple of notes if you want to try "Joy Journaling" or "Gift Counting" out for yourself:
1. Make the journal handy... like wherever you most often find yourself in your home. For me, it's the kitchen. And don't just put it anywhere... make it prominent--where you are very likely to see it and be reminded by it.
2. Quick notes, sloppy notes, poetic notes... it doesn't matter. It's the stopping, the seeing, the gratitude... that's what makes the difference. It's not about the list. The list is the tool that helps you live a grateful FULL life.
3. If it helps you to have a guided way to count your gifts: visit Ann Voskamp's blog. Every month she puts up a printable with suggested items to count (They are always towards the bottom of page on her Monday posts). Actually, just check out her blog. It's good.
4. The book is awesome, but I found it to be a little like wading through oatmeal. The poetic language makes it thick. It's packed with revelation. The truths it exposes are weighty. It's a little difficult to get through (at least for me). But it was worth the "wading," definitely worth it, especially when I got to Ch. 8. That was the life-changer for me. So, while I strongly urge you to embark on this joy dare, I think it is a highly recommendable idea to read the book too (and to know if you find it a difficult read, don't beat yourself up. You are not less-spiritual or the only one.) :)

To make the journal:

I made myself a journal out of a good old fashioned composition notebook... wide ruled so it's easier to make fast notes. They are less than a $1.00. I covered it in scrap fabrics, a family picture, scrapbook paper and modge-podged it all on.

To Modge-Podge: paint a thin coat on wherever you are adding something. Paint a thin coat over the top to seal it. Just a note: you will battle wrinkles should you choose thin paper. Choose thicker paper (close to cardstock-quality thickness). Also, use thinner more cotton-like fabrics.

I got myself a letter-holder-type thing to hold my JOY journal in my organization station. I had tried just sticking the journal to the wall, but it fell off. Also, writing on something that is upright makes your pen get air in it... and that makes writing difficult. I still like the journal on the wall though (hence placing it in a letter holder). I see it every time I walk into the kitchen, and it reminds me to stop rushing, stop stressing, and be grateful.

I made a couple more journals just for fun. They are seriously easy... like half-hour-with-some-drying-breaks-in-there easy. This one is bright and cheerful. Addy loves it. I am thinking I may let her use it.
This one below is my favorite. I made it with a ribbon and velcro clasp that I embellished with an easy fabric rose. I love the quote I found amongst my scrap-booking materials. Seemed very appropriate.
"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life."


Since I liked this journal so well and this book has changed my life...

...well... are just going to have to click the link below to see what this conquering housewife has brewing.

{Click here to find out about The CCHW's FIRST-EVER GIVEAWAY!!!! (I'm excited, in case the 4th exclamation point didn't clearly demonstrate this to you.) You will want to see this even if you aren't into reading anything longer than a page or writing in homemade journals. Wha-hoo!} 

Hope your Monday is MADE and your life is FULLY lived, Friends!

Dreams: 5 Things Every Farmer Knows About Farming that Every Dreamer Needs to Know Too


The farmer goes out. Tills the soil. Plants the seeds. And waits. He waters. He waits. He watches for pests. He watches for weeds. He gets to drive around on a tractor (the most romanticized part of it all... "She Thinks My Tractors Sexy" anyone?? That song... it makes me smile big). He waits.

The farmer works and does so much to try to bring in a great harvest. But really, the farmer knows that he does his part and the rest is up to God.

I think it's like that with our dreams.

A dream is placed in your heart... maybe it's something you've always wanted to do, maybe it was in your yearbook next to your picture "Amanda, most likely to... be a meteorologist" (True story), maybe you stumbled across it while casually doing something you fully intended to do for just a short time or just for fun, maybe you are stuffed full of a thousand things you feel compelled to do before you leave this planet, or maybe you still haven't had your "A-ha! This is what I was born to do!" moment... whatever it is, I truly and fully believe with ever fiber of my being that you have a purpose. I believe God made you with a wonderful, awesome, needful way that you can impact your world. Maybe it'll touch the lives of thousands, maybe it'll touch the lives of a couple children and one handsome husband, maybe it'll change a city, maybe it will encourage those in your circle. No matter the impact, You were made to dream. AND You were made to be a dream-fulfiller.

Dreaming is all fine and good, but means nothing until you put it into action.

Having a pocket full of seeds is all fine and good, but it will mean nothing until those seeds are put into soil.

And God made the seed for the harvest.

{Do you know what seeds you have to plant? Your talents, your passion, your gifts... the things God places in you that forms into a dream so that you could bring glory to your Maker... these are your seeds.}

Embarking upon a dream is terrifying. You could fail. The fear of failure would like to keep your seeds in your pockets... and God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and discipline. 2Timothy 1:7, NASB.

A thousand "what if" scenarios may want to rack your brain, keep you from setting out, make you want to shrink back... but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Hebrews 10:39, NASB.
Thing is, even a farmer knows, that there ARE a thousand things that could destroy the crop, and failure may happen. A farmer knows he has no say so in the weather, the locusts, the birds, disease... a lot can cause a crop to not produce, but one thing is certain... a field will not yield a harvest unless the seed is put in the ground.

A dream will just be a dream until its put into action.

I compiled a list of some things every farmer knows about farming that every dreamer should know too:

1. Know the season- farmers put seeds into the soil at the right time of year. You may need to know that it's not time yet. The best way to figure out if its time? Fasting and prayer. Farmers know to look for the signs of the season... look for the signs in your own life that it is time.

2. Know you may fail- farmers know that some years yield a lot of fruit and some years do not.  You may do everything right, but it may not work out. That does not mean you should stop.

3. Know that it will be hard work- farmers know that just preparing the soil is a lot of work. And so is the daily upkeep. And so is the harvest. A. Lot. Of. Work. Yeah. So is putting a dream into action. Expect this. Anticipate it. Plan for it. When you are frustrated because it is so hard, remember... it's SUPPOSED TO BE.

4. Know that it will take daily work- Farmers don't plant a field and then sit back and watch it grow. They work hard daily. There are daily problems. Daily chores. Your dream will require your day in and day out stamina.

5. Prepare for the harvest- A farmer may not be able to plan for the exact size of the harvest, but he can't collect the harvest unless he's prepared for it. If you are working towards a dream, would you be ready for it if it came to pass?

I may have just caused you to let out a big huge sigh... work. hard. failure. not time. planning. But here's the beauty of this:

I till. I plant. I water. I tend. But it is God who gives the increase.

I can't predict the weather. I have no say-so in the million "what-ifs."

But at the same time, I just do my part and I get to leave the rest to God. I don't have to strive, grind myself into the dirt trying to make this work. I do my part and let Him decide how much fruit I will bear. And truly, even if you are able to touch the lives of even a couple of people, isn't it worth it?

I bet you are with me in saying, yes it is!

So dream.

Dream big. Work hard. Trust God.

Let Him take your beautiful dream-field and work it into a great... or a small... harvest.

You were made for the harvest.

Alright, now, go, pray, and seek God, and get to fulfulling those dreams!


Comparison: Dream Killer, and 3 Ways to Keep Your Dream Alive

The other night, I participated in my first ever “twitter party” in an effort to get out of my comfort zone and meet some other women who are doing the same thing I am. A twitter party is essentially a glorified chat room, with a host, a topic and a bunch of people madly carrying on conversations simultaneously... all using # and @ to identify topic and person. You blink and you could miss 20 tweets. I felt overwhelmed... like sick-to-my-stomach, I-have-no-clue-what-I'm-doing overwhelmed... or, to bring a whole new definition to the word of one wise old owl, “twitterpated”... extremely and completely twitterpated.


What came out of it was this incredible sense of self-doubt. I was amongst twitter-pros, blogging giants, women with experience, know-how, and followings greater than my own. Women who not only maintain a blog but write books as well... and raise a family.

I felt defeated, miniscule, silly, like the 7th grade girl in the bathroom whose nightly prayer is for boobs and a period amongst girls all complaining about their times of the month and their bra straps. I am clueless, but so desperately want to be in the know. (Side note: Why, why, Amanda, did you pray so fervently for those things? Ha!)

Have you ever been there? You have a God-given dream in your heart and desire to pursue it. You pray, you fast, you step out... and then you find others with a similar dream doing what you want to do and doing it 100x's better. You can't help but look at them and wonder what in the world you are doing here. And maybe you even go so far as to wonder why God didn't give you the same measure of talent and overall awesomeness.

The day after the Twitter party, I made the blessed mistake of leaving my Bible within the reach of my son... the son with lightening fast reflexes who can clear a side table with the swipe of one arm. I came running as I saw the boy reach for the Bible, and by the time I got to him he had already made quick work of three pages. 

As I was putting the torn pages back into the Bible, my notes in the margins from ages past struck me. Big time.

God talked to me in my mess.

So let me give you a frame of reference for the notes:

Saul was the current and anointed King of Israel, but because he was disobedient God had appointed a new king to take his place, David. In this passage, David is running for his life from Saul who wants to kill him. My little revelations are from how David conducts himself when he finds Saul (who wants to KILL him, mind you) unarmed and completely helpless on two different occasions. Instead of killing Saul, David attempts to prove to Saul that he means no harm.

1 Samuel 24:6 “So [David] said to his men, 'Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to [Saul], the Lord's anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord's anointed'.”

my notes: It even bothered David to cut a piece of robe off of the one who was trying to kill him. David allowed God, who anointed them both, to be God.

David led by following God. He was NOT a man-pleaser. He didn't do what his men encouraged him to do... he sought God. Followed God.

1 Samuel 26:9 “But David said to Abishai, 'Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord's anointed and be without guilt?' David also said 'As surely as the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down in battle and perish'.”

my notes: Once again, DAVID ABSOLUTELY TRUSTS GOD. Be patient, honor God's way.

David knew that he was anointed to be King... that God had a plan and a purpose for his life. And David trusted God enough to bring it to pass.

In the pursuit of my dreams I have gotten worried
-that I am not enough
-that others are better than me
-that I don't know enough
-that I need to go about everything a better way


It's like the track runner who looks into the lane of his competitor and begins to accidentally step over into the other lane. A sprinter has to keep his eyes focused forward so that his foot-steps are sure. A sprinter has to run his own race... in his own lane.
Ultimately, comparison will dis-qualify you from your God-dream. And reminder: it is God who does the qualifying in the first place.

David knew that God had chosen him to be king. He knew that Saul was still king. He knew he had to wait. He knew that God was going to work it out. He knew that he could trust God.

And there it is.

He knew that he could trust God.

He could trust God to destroy his enemy (by the way in case you are following the parallel of my circumstance or even yours... other women bloggers are not my enemies. Those with similar dreams are not your enemies. But if there is an obstacle, know that God will see you through it).

Three things to learn from David about God-given dreams:

David knew that he could trust God's word for his life. He was called. Anointed. He never questions this.

David knew that he could trust God's timing. David might have wanted it to be time, instead of running for his life. But he waited. He didn't try to rush God. Be patient and honor God's Way.

David knew that he could trust that all the waiting was full of purpose and just as important as the dream itself. David grew so much in that time of running for his life. He might not have seen it at the time, but he became a sure-footed, strong leader who trusted God fully. Also, during this time God gave David allies in his hiding places, a smoking hot wife named Abigail, children, and mighty and faithful men whose loyalty and friendship stayed with him during his reign as King. This time of my life may not be the most productive in terms of writing and pursuing the God dreams in my heart... but they are important, wonderful, purposeful, needful... and who am I anyways to determine what productive is? Is it not a God-dream that I pursue? This husband, these kids, this home, all that I am here and now IS the dream, don't miss it by looking at what other people are doing with their lives. Different people. Different times of their lives. Enjoy the NOW. Live in the NOW. Thrive in the NOW.

And Trust God.

No really, Amanda, TRUST GOD.

Run YOUR race. Be the woman you were called to be. Trust God, His Word and His timing. Know that HE will make a way.

I've got a post, maybe a couple, in the works about pursuing dreams... somethings God has totally downloaded into this brain. If you want to know how to pursue your dreams, do return!


What Doubt is Really About

Have you ever felt left out... or forgotten? Have you ever felt like you didn't quite fit... you know, the whole square peg, round hole thing? Maybe quirky (which really is just a nice word to describe strange and downright weird)? Unrelated to? Awkward?  Have you ever felt insignificant or severely under-appreciated?

I know I have. A lot. Especially lately.

A couple nights ago I was struggling with that very thing: feeling like I didn't belong and had no friends. The feelings begging the question: what is wrong with me? Why don't I fit? My mom happened to be leading our women's Bible study that night. (Side note: My mom is pretty much awesome. I LOVE HER!) She spoke on "Doubting Thomas." I had never in my life heard the story told quite like she told it.

Thomas was one of the 12 disciples. Jesus chose him. He had a place. After Jesus died and rose again, all of the disciples were hanging out and Jesus appeared to them for the first time. Their casual get together became an amazing time with the Lord. He blessed them. He shared with them.

Thomas wasn't there. He didn't get included. The disciples later run up to him and gush about the amazing time they had, how Jesus was there, and how Jesus did and said all these incredible things. Thomas's response was something along the lines of "I won't believe it till I see it." Thomas crosses his arms and his heart defiantly refusing to be apart of the "Jesus is Alive" club that he felt rejected from. When he finally does see Jesus, Jesus calls him out on his doubt. (John 20:19-29)

But here's the thing. Perhaps it is that Thomas didn't doubt that Jesus was the Christ, but rather that he had a place in Christ. Perhaps, he got all upset at being the only one that was left out, that he was ready to throw the whole Jesus-is-the-Christ thing out... all because the disciples forgot to include him. Perhaps he felt like the one disciple that just didn't quite fit, didn't deserve to make the cut, the one always over-looked, under-appreciated and constantly forgotten.

Perhaps Thomas really doubted God's love... that God made him wonderful, unique and with a specific purpose... that God saw him, flaws and all, and loved him.

Perhaps, my nobody-likes-me, what-is-wrong-with-me pity party is really me full of doubt and disbelief. Perhaps I doubt that I have a place. I doubt that God loves me. That He made me like, well, me for a specific reason.

I doubt. And instead of trusting that God loves me and has a plan for my life, I want to throw it away and be like someone else.

I can't believe I missed this! As a teacher and children's pastor, I was a pit bull about each child knowing that God loved them and had a specific plan for their life. I am a pit bull now for the same cause with my children. You want to make me super angry? Try sending a message to children that they are less than because they learn a different way than most kids, or by sending a message that the only way, or the best way to serve God is inside the church in a position of vocational ministry. RAWR! Yep, I will rawr at you. I know that God made each one of us unique. He gave us a different way to process the world. Some we label extroverts, some we label introverts, some we labels ADD, some we label free-spirits, some we label type-A, some we label slow... we have a lot of labels. But regardless of the label, God has a specific plan. He sees the evangelist in the extrovert, the deep-thinker in the introvert, the tireless-doer-of-many-things in the person with ADD, the outside-the-box thinker in the free-spirit, the get-things-done-and-get-others-doing-them-too in the type A... God has a plan! YOU HAVE A PLACE IN GOD.

Amanda. You have a place in God.

You. Just the way you are.

I love Jesus' response to the disciples on the matter (Matthew 28:16-20). Instead of getting on to the disciples and telling them to play nice and play fair ("Boys, you really need to make sure you include Thomas."), He sends out His great commission, "Go into all the world making disciples..." Stop worrying about what people think and whether you fit and how included you are, and go make some disciples. Instead of worrying about who isn't texting you, be the one texting that person who is struggling words of encouragement. Instead of worrying about who hasn't invited you to the play date at the park, grab some people and invite them out yourself. Be a disciple-maker instead of a pity-party thrower.

And as it turns out, when you get busy doing God's work, you find you have a place after all.

He loves you! You have a place in HIM!

Crap Happens

True Story:

It had been one of those crazy, stormy days. I have become this wild, hungry God-seeker. I want to see Him, know Him. My tired, mother heart is worn out by the end of the day, but I want to fully live. I have been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and am taking her up on her challenge to live the fullest life.

Mike took the kids to his parents, and I had the house to myself.

But I had been in this house for 3 days straight, and I am ready to emerge from my tomb. (I am laughing at my bad analogy... no, though some days may feel like it, my home cannot be compared to the tomb where Christ laid). I grab my camera and decide to chase Beauty. Become the modern painter with a digitally-edited, photo-paper canvas. Try to hold Beauty within my lens. Grasp it. Capture it. Even for but a moment.

"'The glory of God is the human being fully alive and the life of the human consists in beholding God.'... Don't I give God most glory when I am fully alive? And am I most fully alive beholding God?"
-Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

I am behind the steering wheel, making way for vineyards and empty fields that open the world wide to the horizon. The tempestuous storm that had pelted our front door with little hail stones had given way to the most glorious sunset. Gold-lined clouds against a blood-red sky. I chase after this Beauty, desperate. 

I find a spot off the road. Pull-over. Grab my camera. I adjust my settings as I hastily walk toward the vineyard. 

It's cold. The breeze runs through my hair. Soft rain drops dampen my skin. I feel a large, warm rain drop thud against my shoulder and hand.

Wait... Warm?!

Raindrops are not warm. This was definitely not a rain drop.

One brave bird flies off towards the night. I got crapped on.

In the midst of my soul's revery--my wild Beauty hunt--chasing God, I got crapped on by a lone bird on a wire... when all other birds have taken to their storm shelters.

I am disgusted. I want to throw my fist up, angry with God. How could You let this happen? I am here to worship and You let me get pooped on?! Really?

For a split second I stop my rant. In the time it took my heart to beat one time, I try to embrace the gift of that moment. Surely this moment does not contain a gift, but still I try to find it. And in the next heart beat, something even stranger than the gritty waste product on the back of my hand happens: Peels of laughter rip through the anger and inconvenience. I laugh.

I capture one picture and return to the safe haven of my car in search of tissue and Purel. I laugh some more.

Crapped on while capturing Beauty.

I crap-tured beauty. 

I am roaring now. And the laughter feels good. And God is in this moment too. 

I went out seeking Beauty... seeking a full life... seeking to know God... asking for Joy.

I found the beautiful sunset. I also found the lone, human-loathing bird on a wire that would dare to take aim at the innocent God-seeker. 

But still, I found Joy.

I could have allowed the birdy-poo to ruin my evening. I could have tried to find some deep meaning in the warm substance resting on my hand... Why would God allow this? Why would God let me get crapped on when I am trying so hard to be full of Joy? Doesn't He love me? Doesn't He supposedly give good gifts?... Or I could take the gift in the moment and laugh. I laughed with my Creator. I received the Joy in the moment.

Crap Happens.

In this beautiful, God-created world, crap happens... The diaper of the darling baby explodes and leaks onto his poor mama's pants who didn't think to bring a change of clothes for herself... The life-giving, bonding, and waist-trimming experience of breast-feeding can occasionally offer up clogged milk ducts that rack a body with feverish aches (Hi, this is where I am right now!)... temper tantrums from the sweet one, friend turned gossip, great day abruptly halted by the crunching sound of your own car's metal against another car's rear end... crap happens.

I cannot pretend to know the answer to the why.

It is a mystery. And even though I was able to find Joy in bird excrement, I am only just scratching the surface. There are far more crappy things that could happen in a life. I just have this strange sense that God is allowing me learn how to live Joy-Full in spite of circumstances.

Could it be that one could really keep their Joy every day, not just the good ones?

I know it involves trusting God. I know it involves taking each moment, easy or hard, and receiving it as a gift. It's like the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness. Each day, God miraculously covered the ground in little wafers. It baffled the Israelites:
"God's people daily eat manna--a substance whose name literally means 'What is it?' hungry, they choose to gather up that which is baffling. They fill on that which has no meaning. More than 14,600 days they take their daily nourishment from that which they don't comprehend. They find soul-filling in the inexplicable. 
"They eat the mystery. 
"And the mystery, that which made no sense, is 'like wafers of honey' on the lips" 
 Ann Voskamp, Ten Thousand Gifts
Sometimes life is baffling. Sometimes painful. Sometimes wonderful. Sometimes it's offerings lead us to question God, "What is it? It doesn't make sense!" Our minds can't comprehend how all things can be a gift. But in taking the mystery, eating it, allowing it to nourish, we might just find that somehow it's like wafers of honey. Somehow it's sweet. Somehow it's Joy.

Taste and see that the Lord is Good.

I am not sure what it means. I do not know how to make sense of it all. But I did discover Joy in the most unlikely of places.

Joy in crap.
Imagine that!


Holy Week: "Spring Cleaning"

It's Holy Week...

I know, no shocking news there.

But it always makes me think of the obvious things: the Triumphal Entry, the Last Supper, the Cross, and the Resurrection...

but especially the Last Supper.

The Passover Meal.

The first Passover marked the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery, from Egypt. They were instructed to pack their bags and eat with their shoes on their feet. They placed the blood of a spotless lamb over their doorposts and ate the lamb. Then the angel of death passed over them and wiped out the first born sons in Egypt.

After that first Passover, the Israelites were instructed to observe the Passover every year as a memorial of what God had done for them. They were instructed in the days leading up to the Passover to rid their homes of "chametz" (leaven). They were to search their home from top to bottom and get rid of anything that could potentially have the presence of leaven. For seven days the Israelites were commanded to not have leaven... no where with in their borders. Then they were to partake in a special meal called the Seder, each bit of the meal reminding them of some part of their time in Egypt. They were to retell the story of the first Passover. They were told to remember. They were told to celebrate. I was curious as to what this looked like today in the Jewish community. If you are curious too, here is a link to an article I read.

Leaven represents sin. Just as the smallest bit of leaven can cause an entire batch of dough to rise, the tiniest bit of impurity can skew the way we think, the way we talk, and the way we live. "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened" (1 Corithians 5: 6-7, NASB). 

In reading up on the Jewish customs for getting rid of "chametz" in preparation for the Passover, I was struck by the thoroughness of the search. Homes are to be "spot-free" from leaven. Not a trace. Do I even have a measure of that fervency in seeking out sin in my life? I realize Jesus gives me Grace that is sufficient to cover my sins and shortcomings. But doesn't He call me to a life of Holiness? (1 Pet. 1:16) I think of John 3:16 and Ephesians 3:18-19 and know that I am loved by God with such a great fervency...especially in the light of the approaching Good Friday. I need to take time to be fervent.

Since it is Spring (spring cleaning) and Holy week this week, I am doing some cleaning in my own heart.

It is long past time to clean out my heart. I need to find the unforgiveness I might hold against another that creeps out when I feel overcome by the urge to share with someone who has no business knowing what kind of wrong was done to me (gossip). I need to find the selfishness that causes a volcano of yelling and snappy words to erupt when people (namely my kids and my husband) don't do what I want them to. I need to find the pride that causes me to think I deserve more... Hmmm... I think I could go on a while... Spring cleaning in this temple is definitely past due!

My Prayers this week:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. 

                                 -Psalm 139:23-24, NASB

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.

Against You, You only, I have sinned
And done what is evil in Your sight,
So that You are justified when You speak
And blameless when You judge.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins
And blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners will be converted to You.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;
You are not pleased with burnt offering.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. 

                              -Psalm 51:1-17, NASB

By the way, I have some other stuff on my heart to share this Holy Week. So do look forward to more tomorrow.

Searching for Spring

Today, armed with a camera, magnifying glass and sunglasses, Me and the kiddos headed to the park in search of spring.

Addy and I had a nice little discussion earlier in the morning over Google images about seasons. We talked about some signs that would indicate spring was here.

Let's go find spring!

 We found it in little tiny white flowers sprinkled across the grass...
In pink daisies...
 In red and purple lilies...
 In sun-kissed periwinkle...
And fully opened tulips. (Mom loves bulb flowers! Who wants to visit Daffodil Hill with me?!)

We found spring in snowy blossoms--the dead of winter unable to keep new life from springing forth.

Spring is in freshly dressed willow trees wearing the bright greens of this season.

Spring is reflected on the canvas of water. I stand in awe of God because creating the world and breathing new life into it every spring simply wasn't creative enough for God, He also decided to leave paintings of beauty on the water's reflection. And we dub Claude Monet the Father of Impressionist Art??

 We discovered the culprit to the "rat-ta-tat" sound in the trees.

We were hoping to see some baby wildlife, but we still saw evidence that love is in the air.

 Spring is in the shimmering gold-haired little girl beside the glistening waters,
In wildflowers amongst the not-yet-awakened vineyards,
And in the the intoxicating aroma of mustard-flowered fields (ah-choo! Just kidding...).

Spring is the beautiful days that require the windows rolled down and I discover how natural it is to stretch out hands in worship to the Lord... to delight in each day... "This is the day that the Lord has made...
...I will rejoice...
...and be glad in it!"

 I will take off my socks and let my toes feel the sunshine...
I will take my Claritin and forget that it's allergy season, forget that I have a million things to do, forget that yesterday I kept getting frustrated and yelling at a child who refused to listen, forget that I got a grand total of 4 and a 1/2 hours of sleep because a baby's gums were swollen with moving teeth... I will rejoice in the day! I will be child-like and my hair will be wind-blown! I will discover new life and new days!

Happy Spring to you!
Do take a day off to enjoy it!