Dear Sunshine… A Letter to You on Your 5th Birthday

Isla Rae – my bright and shining one…

I can’t believe that we are celebrating your 5th birthday this morning. Where have these sweet years gone? I know we have so many good times ahead, and I look forward to the beautiful experiences we will share together as you grow and continue to bloom into this amazing person, but as I kissed your head tonight once you drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but to feel this pang of regret. I knew I had to write this to you before the sun came up and we became distracted by that glorious heap of chocolate donuts waiting for you on the dining room table.

sunshine

I missed you, Isla. Somewhere in those precious early days, I lost you in a fog of exhaustion and pain. My body wasn’t good to me when you needed me most. I could cry when I think of all of those irreplaceable pictures forever lost on that water-logged hard drive of the Mac in the basement. (Take note: Don’t keep your laptop on a bedside table nestled next to a tall glass of ice water…) I need those more than ever today, as I try so hard to remember you so new and so miraculous. Thank goodness for Facebook in that case. I have bits and pieces to look back on and cherish. So many snapshots of our days together. Some images are forever sealed in my memory. I can close my eyes and see you curled like a snail in my Serena & Lily pouch. The image takes me back to that quiet walk through town. You were just five weeks old. I looked down at you, fast asleep at my belly, and I knew I never wanted to forget what you felt like, in your smallness. If I take the time to remember, I can actually feel your weight, as if I’m holding you right now. How did you grow up so quickly?

Isla NB

I remember how alone I felt during many of our nights. Consoling you in the middle of the night seems like a distant dream. The aches and pains that plagued me robbed us of so much and the stress of life’s circumstances stole my thoughts from you almost constantly. And although I know you don’t remember, I decided to take on babysitting from our home, which definitely took a toll on the time we spent together, as well. I was reminded of all of that tonight, and, even though you couldn’t possibly recall those moments, I knew I had to tell you how sorry I am that our story didn’t start out better.

But before you think that this is the worst letter that a mom could ever write to her daughter on her birthday, I have to tell you something that will make all of that worth it.

Because of the pain…the distractions…the busyness…the trials…

Because of your mysterious, quiet spirit that has been from day one…

I got to fall in love with you, Isla Rae.

Of course I instantly loved you from the moment I knew of you, and that love became even more tangible once you were in my arms, but you were the child that I had to learn. And in that learning, I grew a love for you that has been so unique. It took work. While I sorted through my new self, I had to discover you, too. Your serious expressions, your smirks, and grins – all foreign to this heart-on-the-sleeve mama. I had to learn you, Isla, and it took effort and it took time. Today, as you turned five, I am a puddle. I am a puddle of emotions realizing how absolutely and utterly in love I am with you, precious child. I know you so deeply, and yet you are still such a mystery to me some days. Because I had to work so hard at cracking the code to your heart and spirit from the start, and at such a vulnerable time in our journey, I feel as though it is in you that I am so extra carefully and intentionally rooted. Not a day passes that you don’t completely intrigue and amaze me, and I adore you.

isla2b

 

I love you more than chocolate donuts and Oreo Blizzards.

I love you more than “lippies” and nail polish.

I love you more than pony tails and haircuts.

I love you more than cake and ice cream.

I love you more than dresses and pool days.

I love you more than music and cooking.

I love you more than Red Robin and shopping.

I love you more than Christmas and birthdays.

All those things YOU love…I love you more than that. Forever.

 

I love the way you wake me up every morning and you sound exactly like your daddy, telling me to come downstairs and make you breakfast. lol

I love how I’m one of the few people that you willingly smooch on the lips.

I love that you are strong, yet remarkably tender.

I love that you randomly beg me to slow dance with you, and you let me hold you on my hip while we twirl.

I love that you love only banana yogurt and have the best taste in shoes.

I love that you say the strangest things pretty much all of the time. There’s no one even remotely close to having your humor.

I love that you are my chef-in-training for just about every meal cooked in our little kitchen. Someday, when I’m older, and you are in your own home, I will probably beg to come over just so we can cook together like “when you were little.”

I love that the kitten makes you jumpy. I knew you couldn’t be that cool cucumber ALL of the time. 😉

I love that you love to have your hair curled and remind me to grab the hairspray every time. You’re well beyond your years in the hair department.

I love that you love to shop and I look forward to the days that you’ll help me to look more presentable.

I love that you love your sisters and always put them before yourself. You show such maturity in that way.

I love that you keep us on our toes – your dad and me. Although, I better never see you climbing the windows again. 😉

I love your face. You are adorably stunning or stunningly adorable, probably both.

I love that you’re mine and I’m your’s.

isla1b

 

I may have been a mess off and on these first five years, but I’m better now, and you have my heart, little girl. I’m so proud of who you are, and I’m so blessed to be your mom.

Happy Birthday, Sunshine. I can’t wait to celebrate you today.

 

Join the Conversation of Hope, Miscarriage Mom…

April 15th stopped being referred to as “Tax Day” for me a long time ago.  That date forever changed once my doctor assigned it to my second child as the much-anticipated due date.  In the heat of August 2010, ultrasound photos in-hand, I started to envision the child I carried in my tummy and the happy future that was sure to come with this surprise baby.  Just days after seeing my little one in the womb, I was forced to say an abrupt and heart-breaking good-bye.  Every hope and dream I had been carrying came to a crashing halt.  I’d never felt such a hurt in my heart.  I’d never been faced with such an agony that literally pulls at the pit of your being.  It was an experience that changed me, deeply.  My eyes lost their innocent sparkle that night.  My heart became tainted with worries I never knew I could carry.  Miscarriage can wreck a woman, friends.  I was wrecked that lonely weekend in late August – mind, body and spirit.  But, thankfully, that wasn’t the end of my story.  It was only the first chapter.  The healing that came in the months and years to follow is why I am who I am today, and why I can say with joy and boldness that my child is still very much a part of me, our family, and my life.

When I opened up about my experience on this blog, it also opened many doors to speak with close friends about their own.  During an impromptu play date with two of my close friends, who are also bloggers, we just started talking about our miscarriages over coffee cake.  The kids played and we chatted away…sharing our stories…our challenges…the surprise and disappointment we felt at the lack of resources available to moms like us.  It was then that we decided to change that, together.  This project has been a long-time coming, so I am thrilled to announce that we have finally released our e-book, “Blessings Through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom.” You can find it by clicking here.  Betsy Moore of BMooreHealthy, Becky Mansfield of Your Modern Family, and I have set out to create a resource for other moms who have experienced loss through miscarriage.  Whether you are experiencing one now or had one many years ago, this book was created with you in mind.

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This book is extra special, because it has been written in the form of conversations. Picture the three of us sitting in front of a group of moms, sharing our stories, crying, hugging each other and finding ways to move forward side-by-side. We pray that this book helps other moms find peace through all the sadness and grief attached to miscarriage. And we’re not the only moms sharing our stories in this book.  Many other mothers have so graciously offered up their testimonies of loss and hope as well.  I found myself in awe of the strength of these warrior-mamas.  Each of our stories is so unique, but there are also many common threads that will forever knit our hearts together.  I am so full of joy to finally share this book with you. You can find it here:

miscarriage link

IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL FIND:

Totally Blindsided: Receiving the News

Finding a Lifeline: Longing for Support

The Warrior Within: Finding Strength in Fragile Moments

The Ripple Effect: Learning to Lean On and Love Through

Next Steps: Moving Forward in Hope and Health

Blessings through Raindrops: Finding Meaning and Choosing to Celebrate Life

From the Other Side: A Spouse’s Perspective

Additional Resources

Our Hope for You

A Shared Experience: Stories from Other Miscarriage Moms

And so much more…

At the end of each chapter, you will also find a question/questions or reflection point(s).  We thought it necessary to, not just talk at you, but, let you have your voice be heard as well – even if it’s only your own eyes that will ever read the responses.  We have found that both writing and talking about our loss has added to our healing, and sometimes, it’s been through the gentle leading of a friend or mentor during conversation that has prompted some of our most valuable revelations.  And, because we know that often times you just need to hold a book of this nature in your hands and write your thoughts all over its pages, we are eager to offer a paperback edition in the very near future.

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If you have any questions about the book, or if you are having difficulty downloading it, feel free to send Betsy, Becky and I an e-mail to miscarriagebook@gmail.com, or contact me directly at kloverhouseblog@gmail.com. From the bottom of our hearts, we hope and pray that this book helps you find an anchor of peace while going through one of the most challenging times in your life.  

Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You are never, ever alone. Welcome to the fiercest, most accepting club we know; it’s an honor to walk this road with you.   

xo,

Kristi

FIND ADDITIONAL MISCARRIAGE-RELATED POSTS ON KLOVER HOUSE HERE:

I Think It’s Time

Celebrating our Heaven Baby

A Pregnancy Ritual and a Very Intimate Detail about EJ

I Chose Truth

Babies and Banana Bread

It is Good -Three Words that Give a Mother Hope

It is good.

Those three, simple words have changed the way I will look at my children forever.

But I’ll get to that in a minute.

it is good

As you may or may not know, I have four, small children, ages six and under.  This past week with my little ones was especially rough.  Their dad wasn’t out of town… No one was sick, believe it or not…  No one had a bad day at school…  They had absolutely no solid reason for the kind of behaviors I was seeing consistently – back-talk, naughty faces, physical altercations between siblings, screaming, throwing things, and the mother of all meltdowns.

Tuesday was the day that took home the prize for “The Day I Thought I Wasn’t Going to Make It as a Mother.”

You know the kind – your husband calls to let you know that he’s on his way home for work, and you kind of hate him, because he spent his day around civilized people, being only responsible for himself, probably enjoying trips to the bathroom ALONE… kind of makes you want to hurl insults or at least growl come 5 PM.  It was that kind of day.

It started with the “dreaded car nap.”  Don’t you loathe those?  They are awful.  Unless your destination is over an hour away, frankly, they are the devil.  Your kids fall asleep 20 minutes into your 40 minute drive, and even though you wake them with kindness and delicacy, they behave as though they are mercilessly being ripped limb from limb or being forced to sit on hot coals.  They scream.  They hit.  They look at you with the stinkiest of stink-eyes.  The “car nap” is, like I said, the devil.

My very loved, almost three-year-old, is the bless-ed child that decided I deserved the devil for disrupting her slumber as we arrived at her sister’s weekly violin lesson.  There’s a great, little coffee shop beneath the music room and so, being the understanding mom that I am… ah-hem… I decided to treat the girls to hot chocolates before going up to the lesson.  The four of us sit together in the waiting room and read stories while Isla has her lesson, so a spontaneous treat should have been appreciated.  Read: It should have bought me some sanity.  Infer:  It did not.

We had five minutes to spare.  Let’s just say, we were ten minutes late (so the craziness lasted for 15 very unpleasant minutes), and I wanted to crawl into a hole and give up on all-things-motherhood.  My strong-willed child screamed for those 15 minutes s.t.r.a.i.g.h.t.  There was no breathing.  There was very little standing, and there was zero control on my end.  ZERO.  It was horrendous.  I struggled to talk to the barista, who was literally ten inches away.  A stranger commented that I “need an assistant or something.” Or something…he was probably thinking dog leashes and tequila.  And I ended up helping the only employee mop the floor after the strong-willed child covered the floor with her just-paid-for-beverage.  Car nap = devil.  All the while, I have my oldest two parading from chair to chair, acting like they own the joint, and a 26 lb. baby on my hip.  My head was spinning, my arm was burning, and I may have shed a tear or two.

Driving home an hour later, I thought, “There’s something wrong here.  That whole thing just wasn’t normal.  I am a terrible parent.  I am completely failing her.  I am ruining them.  These kids are spoiled.  These kids are out of control.  Where did I go off-track.  Is this entitlement or madness?  How can I fix this?  How can I fix them?  I should probably read Dr. Dobson’s book on the strong-willed child. Maybe I need professional help?  Maybe there’s some kind of behavioral therapist that can help me?  Maybe I should find a babysitter for Tuesday afternoons?  I’m never showing my face in that coffee shop again…”

I tell you this long story, because I need to express how desperate I felt.  I felt hopeless.  I felt like a failure.  And I was convinced that my children were doomed.

I asked Google some of the questions above – not gonna lie, and then I went to bed, defeated.

The next morning, I read this beautiful and timely post, by a new friend and fantastic writer, Laura, of The Military Wife and Mom, and it ministered so deeply to the wounds in my mama-heart.  It gave me that hope back that I had lost the day before.

And then, the most wonderful thing happened.  I heard that familiar voice – God.

God said…it is good.

And everything changed.

I had heard that phrase from Him before.  I pulled out my Bible and started at the beginning, literally.  It was a story that I had read many, many times.  But this morning, it wasn’t just a story – it was a message.  For me and now, maybe for you.

Excerpts taken from Genesis Chapter 1, The Creation of the World (emphasis mine):

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters… And it was so.  And God called the expanse sky.  And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.”  And it was so… And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…” And God saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image… And God blessed them… And it was so.  And God saw everything he had made , and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

It got me thinking.  It was almost if God was saying, “See?  The creation takes time.  It’s good, even in its incompleteness…”

Incomplete but good.

God is able, was able, to wave His hand over the deep and say, “Come forth,” and be done.  The lights, the waters, the land, the living creatures, the man… He could’ve have done it all in one, mighty blow.  He’s God, after all.  But He didn’t.  He established in the first set of words entrusted to us the gift of process…  The grace in progress…  The anticipation of good things to come.  What a treasure.

Even the hardest stages are just that – stages.  Things may seem to be stuck on the “third day” a little longer than I’d like – there may be more darkness than I’m comfortable with, but they are in progress.  We, are in progress.  The tantrums will become less frequent.  Their neediness will begin to fade.  I will miss their smallness despite the hard moments that evidently come with it.  God didn’t grow bitter and resent the process, why should we?  If the Creator himself finds satisfaction in the parts that will eventually lead to the goal, we can too.  Each piece of the puzzle is beautiful in itself and lends to the fullness of the final picture.  Our kids…our day-to-day lives…might look a little like the boring parts of the outside border right now, and we’re longing for the more interesting pieces that seem to hold more depth…more importance…more substance, but it is this part of the journey that holds the rest together, firmly.  Keep building those little souls.  Keep building your life, one mundane moment at a time.  It is good.

Where we are right now…is good.  We’ll get there – wherever “there” may be.  For me, “there” looks less like Tuesday.  We’ll get to another stage.  Until then, it is good.  They are good.

 

xoxo,

Kristi

 

Longing for a Clean, Calm Home…

Feel like having a *clean* daydream with me for a minute? lol  Literally?  Imagine your living room…tidy, candle lit and a sweet, calming aroma lingers in the air.  It mingles with the fresh, minty scent of recently cleaned windows (thanks, Method lol), and a cool breeze coming from the opened back door.  The kids are playing, happily on the swing set just outside the kitchen window, and there’s not a single toy in sight.  Ahhhh…bliss.  And total fantasy, right?  We can wake up now…

There’s just one little hiccup in accepting this reality… I kind of believe the statement you are about to read with my whole heart…

clean

This has been my personal belief for our home for several years now. I stand behind it 100% and remind myself of its truth daily. But, ladies, can I get a witness that it is so hard?!?!?!?! When I developed my “One Day to Clean a Dirty House” routine, it was because I was so tired of cleaning one room at a time and NEVER EVER feeling like I was actually getting anywhere! So, I combined my personality “quirks,” with my frustrations and the acceptance that I clean best in those few, panicked hours before company arrives (I’ve always been a “procrastinating perfectionist”), and created a solution. My method gets the job done, but I’m telling you truthfully – It. Is. Work.

So, when Sarah Mae announced that she was looking for applicants to help spread the word about her new book, “Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul,” I applied without an ounce of hesitation. I knew that I needed help. I’m so thankful that Sarah Mae’s team recognized my insane desperation chose me 😉 to receive an advance copy, because I was so eager to read her advice and find some help as soon as possible – not just for my home’s sake, but for my soul and sanity’s sake.  I don’t want to just give my family a decent place to live; I want to create for them a healthy and loving sanctuary.  I need help in doing that in the way I long to do it.

Next week, I will be meeting with an intimate group of friends that are feeling the pull too, and we’re going to be sharing our hearts while the kiddos play and we sip our coffee.  We’re going to dig into this book together.  I couldn’t be more excited about it.  I plan to write about each week, just to fill you in on what the Lord is doing in MY heart and MY home.  I believe that meeting with women that also desire to learn “gentle homemaking,” as Sarah describes it, will only enhance what will already be happening in our hearts and homes, individually.  I’m excited to hear their stories – their ups and downs, tips and tricks…their wisdom or fears.  I’m just excited.  It’s going to be one of the most beautiful and fruitful times of my week this spring.  I just know it.

It’s my hope that you will want to jump on board and take this journey with us.  If you are longing for a fresh breeze to blow through your home, in the form of a renewed mind and spirit when in comes to being a homemaker, I invite you to grab a copy of Sarah’s book and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.  You are also invited to message or e-mail us (kloverhouseblog@gmail.com) anytime!  Though we start our discussions this coming week, our 31-Day challenge won’t officially begin until the following week, so there’s plenty of time to grab a copy of the book!

So, back to what I mentioned earlier about “a clean home being a calm home”… Sarah Mae hit the nail on the head in her Intro, when she wrote the following:

mary and martha

Let’s do this, friends.  Let’s take our focus off of the dust, the grime, and the feelings of failure we struggle with as women in charge of families and households.  Let’s instead get down to the heart of the matter and help make that daydream a reality we can actually enjoy.

Before we know it, we will be that much closer to Having a Martha Home the Mary Way.

xo,

Kristi

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I both love and use in my home!  Feel free to use them if you’d like.  Our family says “thank you” in advance, for using our links to purchase some pretty awesome products that you may come across while reading!

Dear Daughter, Let’s Talk about Abortion

Dear Daughter,

Let’s talk about abortion.

abortion

Abortion, by definition is:

The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

A medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus.

 

It’s a hot topic right now.  Honestly, it’s a hot topic for me everyday, all day, any day for reasons you will know and for some you may never be privy to, because they are not my stories to tell.  But, because of the election coming up this year, it’s a point that many are talking about, and not for reasons I am happy to report.

You see, dear daughter, our nation is currently in a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, and we, as a people, are walking around in a gray fog.  Nothing is simple.  Everyone is afraid to speak up.  Well, if you’re conservative, anyway, because they’ll call you names.  They’ll make you look like a restrictive, unloving, terrible person. (John 15:18, Mark 13:13) Your life and words hold a mirror to their issues, and they don’t dare go any deeper than the surface of life.  They aren’t ugly, they’re “free”.  They’re not under the influence of selfishness and evil; they’re liberated.  Are they?  Are they free?  Is an addict on a high, free?  Sadly, no.  They are bound, because their freedom is false, but it’s too difficult to be sober…to feel…to be broken…to deal… So they lie and live in a fantasy.  Such is the state of our culture.  They lie to themselves to get through without breaking down.  The blood on our hands looks less offensive when you’re already wearing rose-colored glasses.

You see, dear daughter, the stuff below the surface hurts.  It’s downright overwhelming at times, and it’ll make you think way too hard.  It’ll keep you up at night.  It’ll make you cry in the shower.  It will haunt you while you sip your coffee.  It will seem so much bigger than anything you could ever change.

Who wants to think about rape and incest when they can think about lattes and play groups?  Who wants to read about itty bitty babies being stuck with needles and how it has been proven that they try to flee in a womb that was created to first and foremost protect its creation?  We’ve got shopping to do, errands to run, friends to call, and nails to get done.  We don’t have time for thinking so much it hurts and praying so much it impedes on our comfortable lifestyle.

To them, it’s uncomfortable, maybe even morbid, to attribute humanity to a “fetus” whose limbs are ripped apart and whose brains are suctioned away.  God forbid we be a morbid people.  That would make for such a depressing life, right?  So we sweep it away and just make it simple.  Don’t sweep it, honey.  They need you not to turn away.

You’ll hear:

It’s not a baby…

It’s an effect of something evil…

It’s an inconvenience…

It’s going to suffer anyway…

It’s not wanted…

It doesn’t matter…

But it does, baby.  It matters so much.  They matter so much.  They are me, you, your sisters, your classmates, your children.  They matter.  They matter.  They matter.  I get caught up, uttering it like a prayer bleeding from my heart.

Sweet daughter, it does matter.  It is real.  It isn’t an effect – it’s a person.  If God is in control, who are we to determine who lives and dies? If we are waiting for convenience, we will surely wait forever. Someone out there wants it desperately. It does matter.  It does.

I read a headline today calling one of the conservative front-runners horrible names because he was quoted telling rape victims to “suck it up”.  He’s being told to “go to hell”; he has undoubtedly ticked some people off.  He’s insensitive?  He’s ignorant?  He’s cruel?  Do they even realize the names that they are calling him…the attributes they are giving him are laughable in the fact that they are for the dismembering of infants?  They are discounted as worthy, simply because of their origin.

Dear daughter, I hate to even think the thoughts, but I was recently challenged by someone we love on my stance.  “What if your child…”  And I answered the clearest that I have ever answered anything in my life.  I know it was the Holy Spirit in me.  So, here is what I said to them and what I have to say to you, my sweet angel.

Those who believe abortion is okay under certain circumstances have a deeper issue.

It could be fear, anxiety, shame, anger, selfishness, resentment, unbelief, embarrassment, hatred…

The baby is not the problem – the issue is.

What if we saw rape and incest as evil, but a child as redemption?

What if we told the doctors to save?  To do their jobs and their best and try to save both lives?  

What if we rejected the bad report and believed for a miracle? And if the miracle didn’t come, we leaned on Grace and loved anyway?

What if we gave a family the gift of a child if we weren’t ready or able to do it ourselves?

What if we changed?  What if?

We don’t want the headache.  If we outlaw abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother…  It won’t fix the problem.  It will most-likely turn us into a nation of liars.

It won’t fix the fear.  It won’t fix the shame.  It won’t fix the rebellion.

But Jesus and taking that courageous step into motherhood can.

Before I brought a child into this world, I stood in the shower with an active babe kicking wildly in my belly.  I was at the end of the road, and delivery was near.  I had just read an article on Facebook about a woman who had tragically lost her life during childbirth.  It engulfed me in thick fear, daughter.  Suddenly, I saw my child as a danger.  It could kill me.  This could be it.  The enemy had managed to make my own beloved a threat.  The tears rolled fast down my cheeks that night, and I begged my husband to “save me.”  If it came down to a choice, “choose me.”  “Of course,” he said.  “We can make another baby; I can’t make another you.”  A fear and response that I’m sure many have expressed.  Oh, but it was a mistake, dear one.  For, there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another. (John 15:13)  My fear and doubt took my belly, swollen with promise, and villainized it.

The moment I knew my child outside of my womb, everything changed.

The veil was torn, and I saw the intended depth of my humanity.  It was so much bigger and deeper than me.  My motherhood went below the surface that day and became my purpose.  I would lay my life down for you a thousand times.  No question.  My husband can find a new wife, but the world only gets one you, and you would be worth that sacrifice.  Those mothers don’t know.  They are me in the shower, being swallowed up by fear.  Their husbands are those fathers choosing the one they love over the one they didn’t know they’d love more than life itself.  They don’t know, daughter.  They don’t know.

You can be a voice of change in the darkness, dear one.  You can tell the world about redemption and hope and faith and love.  You can make them think.  You can make them uncomfortable, but aware of a better way.  You can invite any who will listen to go deeper and beyond the surface of this life.  You can stand with the victimized and violated and show them the truth of God’s love and bigger plan.  You can be the friend that pushes fear aside and tells your peers that a baby is not the enemy to their bright futures.  Choose the hard road, the narrow one, my child.  Choose to stand up for the weak and the forgotten.  Choose to love the unloved and the neglected.  Honor their lives with your tears in the shower and your prayers late at night.  I think that the angels rejoice over you when you do.  They sing over the infants playing at the feet of Jesus.  They say, “You are loved!  You aren’t forgotten, and your life matters to them, precious child!”

And if, in the sad and terrible chance that we ever face these scenarios that they speak of, we will walk that road together.  I would cry, pray, and hold you.  I would hail you as a hero, and honor your bravery and love.  And together, we would kiss the face of the most beautiful baby that ever lived, because he/she would be part of you

Abortion is not the answer, baby.  With it comes a whole host of new heartache.

For now, dear daughter, I will do my best to raise you up beneath the shadow of the Most-High God.  I will raise you up to be a mighty woman of God, who prays and believes that anything is possible – even the ability for our God to make beauty from ashes.  I will raise you to hope for better things, to pray for the lost and shallow, to believe for a lifetime of witnessing the miraculous.  That’s what I will do, and it is my prayer that you and your generation will not carry the weight of the sins of mine.  Believe in life, dear daughter, and protect it.

xoxo,

Mommy

Psalm 8:2

Psalm 8:2

If you, or someone you know has experienced abortion, and you are looking for something to help heal your heart, free you from guilt or shame, please consider the book, “I’ll Hold You in Heaven,” by Jack Hayford (aff. link).

Fresh and Delicious Dill Balsamic Vinaigrette

You know those salad dressings that just stick with you?  You crave them…you think about them during a particular season…you make special trips to the store or Farmer’s Market just for those special ingredients?

Well, I have one of those dressings.  I tried it for the first time while I was working with some incredible Italian women and putting myself through college.  These sisters had big hearts and amazing cooking skills.

dilldressing3

One day, they insisted I have some of the salad they had brought in from home.  I did.  Friends, that’s all it took.  I was hooked and had to know how I could make it for myself.

All these years later, I am still making this amazing vinaigrette.  I admit, it’s not the same recipe, because time has tainted my recollection and I probably cut the salt by over half, because salt is a current member on my don’t-even-go-there list, but I think it’s amazing still and my ids seem to agree.  When you’ve got a four and a six year old who actually fought over slices of cucumber for dipping, because they couldn’t get enough, you know you’ve got a winner.

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Friends, here is that winner for your own enjoyment…

Dill Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 full sprigs of fresh dill (more to taste) – remove the fronds from stems and finely chop

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. honey (can also be split as 1/8 c. honey, 1/8 c. sugar)

1 tsp. sea salt & 20+ cracks black pepper (more or less to taste)

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1/4 c. yellow or red onion, chopped

*Even if you don’t care for onions and tomatoes, incorporate them into the dressing, because they are crucial in developing the proper flavor.

Finish with one cucumber, chopped, and 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese (fresh is best, but shredded works well too!)

Pair with a delicious pasta dish or top with grilled chicken for an amazing, stand-alone meal.

That simple.

Enjoy!

Connect with us on Instagram to keep up with all the latest happenings in the Klover House Kitchen!  Also, if Meal Planning is something that interests you, check out my in-depth article explaining my tried and proven process on the incredible site, Money Saving Mom.

Check out more of our Klover House Favorites:

Honey Citrus Grilled Chicken over Black Beans and Rice

Deliciously Sweet and Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Raspberry Almond Sugar Cookie Pie

Salted Caramel Oreo Truffles

Delicious Crockpot Lasagna

 

Seeking the Simple Life

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends.  Can you believe 2016 is just days away?  Our schedules are packed, wallets are emptied, bellies are full…  And yet, something is missing for this mama.  It became painfully obvious this morning.  All the kiddos are home from school today, and while they played in their pajamas, this mama stepped outside in her’s.  My pajamas, that is, and a big, fluffy, pink robe.  I had to throw a piece of mail into the mailbox, and I didn’t care who saw me on my quick trip to the street and back again.

simple

But as I took that first step out of our front door, I was greeted with the chimes of church bells in the distance, and the thoughts rushed in like a gust of wintry truth.  I long for simple.  For simpler times.  For crisp, clear moments, like that one.  In this season in which life-moments are fleeting, like fast-falling snowflakes, I am finding myself wanting to linger.  To catch some on my tongue.  To examine a few on my gloves.  To laugh as they rest peacefully atop my child’s head.  And I’m not talking about literal snowflakes, well, not entirely, anyway.  I mean those life moments.  They are melted and forgotten before I’ve even taken the chance to examine them in their rawness and beauty.

 

Where are you going, life?  Will I ever catch up to you?  Or should I be slowing down and force you to stop for a breath yourself once in a while?

 

With each step, a bell chimed.  It was so serene.  I couldn’t tell if it made me feel nostalgic – almost transporting me back in my mind to what I imagine a winter morning at Christmastime felt like before cell phones, and deadlines, and social media…  Before too many appointments and activities…  What would it be like?  To walk outside your door in the morning and just take a little walk, listening to the church bells chime as you delivered cookies to an elderly neighbor?  Wouldn’t that be something?  To “digress”?  To live, and breathe, and just be once in awhile.

 

Or maybe it made me feel lonely.  Maybe those somber, deliberate steps taken in the stillness on a quiet street reminded me of how full my life is but how empty it feels most days.  Sure, we laugh.  I play with my kids, and we enjoy afternoon movies and snuggles on the couch.  I’m not all there, though.  I’m somewhere else much of the time.  I’m making mental checklists and contemplating craft ideas and designing imaginary dresses and considering business deals and dreaming up ministry opportunities and remembering to-do lists…  I’m not there, breathing in their sweet little smell, taking in their quirky little mispronunciations, or answering their innocent questions with more than two brain cells and in a decent tone.

 

The comparison of the simplicity of the moment against the cluttered space that was once my life and mind left me feeling lonely.  Even though they’re right in front of me, I miss my family.  Even though it’s all around me, I miss Christmas.  I miss waking up and being present.

 

It’s hard, isn’t it?  I feel like the modern woman longs for superhuman abilities.  We want to cook well, work well, take care of our family and home well…because we are the ultimate homemakers.  We want solid relationships and calendars full of events and play dates…because we are the ultimate friend.  We want successful businesses and accolades…because we are the ultimate entrepreneur.  We want quiet times and Bible studies…because we are the ultimate, faithful Christian.  We want book clubs and girls’ nights and birthday parties and potlucks…because we are able to just do.it.all.   And so we try.  We try to do it all and we find ourselves lonely.

Longing for less.

Feeling like we’re aiming at all the targets, but missing all the marks.

Is it just me?

 

I don’t know what 2016 holds for me, for our family, our plans and dreams, but I do know that change is coming.  I heard the bells ring this morning, and I can’t “unhear” them.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear friends.  Go, enjoy your loved ones.  Find someone or a whole bunch of someones and love them like crazy this week and every week from here, on…

xo,

Kristi

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

Last night, as I burned the late-night oil watching Cake Wars on Food Network, I caught the #BakeItForward challenge presented at the close of the show.  I am a huge fan of the #PayItForward lifestyle, so this seemed like a lot of fun coupled with a wonderful cause – fighting child hunger. Food Network is donating $1 for each original post on social media using the hashtag #BakeItForward.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and sipping my morning cup of coffee, I came across the video below, featuring banana bread with a cream cheese filling.  I was all out of bananas, but I remembered that I had a can of Organic Pumpkin Puree from Trader Joe’s, so I immediately decided that a swap was in order, since I had everything else I needed to make the bread.

 

Cream Cheese-Filled Banana BreadPIN IT FOR LATER: http://bit.ly/bnnabrad

Posted by Tasty on Sunday, November 8, 2015

 

I followed the recipe shown in the video:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt

I used the following additions:

  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie spice
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • HALF of a 15oz. can of TJ’s Organic Pumpkin Puree

and the following variations:

  • 1/4 c. Coconut oil (in place of butter)
  • 1/2 c. half n half (in place of sour cream)

I followed the Cream Cheese Filling recipe as given:

  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 TBSP flour

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

So that was it!  It turned out well (I think, anyway), but I kept having to remind myself with each bite, “This is NOT a Pumpkin Roll…this is NOT a Pumpkin Roll.” LOL  Because it isn’t nearly as sweet, although it resembles one!  It DID however, make me feel a whole lot better about having three slices!  :)  Enjoy and please jump on the #BakeItForward train!  It is such a great cause!  We are all baking during the holidays at one point or another, and the challenge is running until December 31st, so as you bake and gift your goodies to others, tag your photos with the #BakeItForward #NoKidHungry hashtags and keep the goodness going!  Tag me too, on Twitter and Instagram, if you heard about it here, because I would be so thrilled to see what you are baking and to see that the love is spreading!

Happy Baking and Giving, Friends! xoxo

bakeitforward

I’ll Sing Over You

One of my precious ones is in Kindergarten now.  The oldest of four, she is my darling, my angel, my sensitive child.  She is goofy and kind.  She, like me is always running late, because she’d rather draw a picture or make a snow angel in the carpet than get dressed and brush her hair in the morning.  She loves to read and asks me a million questions a day.  Her memory is absolutely incredible.  She can still recall things that happened to her when she was just two years old.  She understands how things work after you’ve explained it just once, and she can re-explain those same things to her little sister in “little sister terms”.  She’s a natural teacher.  She’s patient and truthful.  She’s a helper.  We joke that she’s a genius, but in all honesty, we mean it.  She is my defender no matter what.  When her dad is tickling me, she’ll come to my rescue every time.  I adore her.

So, it’ll come as no surprise when I tell you that Kindergarten is breaking my heart, although you probably would never guess why.

singover2

This treasure of mine, this little gem of a girl has entered into the world of relationships, and even in Kindergarten little ones can carry sharp tongues and haughty eyes.

This beautiful soul…our wide-eyed darling…with her golden locks and dimpled chin…comes home with a little less sparkle some days.

She told me that my hair was ugly today, Mom.

They said I couldn’t tell the teacher or they wouldn’t be my friend.

He didn’t want to be my partner in gym class.

I’m not naive.  I know that no matter where our babies go to school, they are going to encounter other little souls that have the potential to hurt a heart.  I watch as even my oldest two daughters hurt one another’s hearts here at home too.  It just feels a bit different when the stings aren’t coming from a sibling.  You can’t be there to guard their hearts and minds from unkindness that they’ll face in the classroom, on the playground, at the lunch table.  It’s just not possible.

It’s life.

When they head off to college, they may have that professor that decides to humiliate them for running late.  They may have a boss that makes them feel incompetent.  They may even choose friends throughout their lifetime that disrespect them.  I can’t be there with my sword and shield.

As I’ve been struggling with this commonsense truth over the past two weeks, I’ve let it cause me so much worry for her.  We just want to fix things as parents, right?  We do our best to talk about the Golden Rule and model good character ourselves.  We ask all of the questions that we think will say to their little souls, “Mommy cares about your day.”  We even give them permission to defend themselves and walk them through scenarios…”If so-n-so says something mean, you…{insert your best advice here}.”

We try and fret and prep and pray, but as I sat here tonight coincidentally reading another mom’s post on Kindergarten bullying, I felt my spirit dwelling on Zephaniah 3:17.

It was as if the Lord was saying to my weary and worried mama-heart…“Sing over her.”

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

I can’t navigate these tough waters for her.  I can’t shelter her continuously.  I don’t have any way of stopping her from experiencing less-than-ideal relationships in her life, but I can sing over her.

When she is here, I can sing prayers of a mother’s love over her heart.  I can teach her the Truth of the Living Word that says she is worthy of love, she is holy and set apart for God, and He delights in her no matter what.  I can whisper in her ear each morning that the beauty of her heart is more precious than anything else and that she is clothed in righteousness.  I can remind her that she is the child of the King of Kings and that makes her Heaven’s princess. I can assure her that no hairstyle or outfit or talent will ever buy her wisdom and grace, and her character is where true beauty resides.  I can show her that acts of kindness and choosing words carefully matter more than being right or feeling comfortable.  I can be a warm shoulder on the days that a peer has given her a cold one.  I can catch her tears and tell her that I love her.  I can sing over her songs of hope and joy and promises.

I can sing over her.

And when a word comes against her tender heart, I can believe that she won’t hear it, because she’s too busy listening to my song.

singover

 

More posts like this:

Sanctuary

The Girl Who Saves Me

For the Overwhelmed Mom of Multiples

Dear Baby

Bedtime Lessons that Change Everything

 

 

Sanctuary

Tonight, as I folded a little laundry and listened to the last of my husband’s stories from the day, the movie The Help played in the background.  I love that movie.  I think it’s on the top of my short list of “movies I could watch any day any time.”  After my husband said his “good night” and headed to bed, I found myself glued to the movie’s end.  I’ve seen it many times, but it still grips me as tightly as the first time.

You is kind.

You is smart.

You is important.

I could never get tired of that scene.  It is so moving.  Tonight, it tugged my heartstrings in a completely new way.  A way that whispered, “Sanctuary.”

Sanctuary…

Yes.

I found myself coming to the realization that if I looked back on my day with my dear daughters, my quote would read something more like…

You is cruel.

You is annoying.

Go away.

Seriously.

I replayed the events of the day.  The majority of moments were good – better than most lately.  But there were a few segments of our day that made the “terrible moments” highlight reel.  The bickering.  The nonstop running in circles.  The cruelty passing from one sister to another.  The ugly monster rising up in me, yelling until my vocal chords hurt, only to cup my face in my hands in regret immediately after.  What am I saying to these children?

I have been crumbling the sanctuary.  Some days, emotionally and spiritually it feels more like a war zone, with my daughters going about their day beneath shame-shrouds that I have put there – lies that I am writing on their foreheads and their hearts with my cruel words back at them.

What is wrong with yoooou?!

I shout in exhausted exasperation when one sister hits another.

Wrong with her?  Nothing is wrong with her.  They are being children.  Learning boundaries.  Pushing boundaries.  Pretending boundaries don’t exist in the name of childish fun and freedom.  That is going to happen in a plethora of ways over the course of their young lives.  It’s about time I start parenting them based upon who they are and not how they are being.

They are kind.  They need guidance.

They are smart.  They need encouragement.

They are important.  They need attention.

They are holy.  They need sanctuary.

They have their whole lives to encounter unkind souls, impatient people…

Not here.

Not with me.

I am their sanctuary.

I see them – walking into their classroom wearing that dark shame-shroud that says,

I’m cruel.  I’m annoying.  I’m tolerated.  I’m unlovable.

I wonder how miserably far that will take them in life, and I am undone, because that’s not how I truly see them at all.

That’s not who they are.  That’s not even how they are “being,” yet I find ways throughout my day to wrap them in those suggestions.

No longer.

No more.

As I dig deeper into Rachel Macy’s Stafford’s new book, Hands Free Life, and her wisdom chisels away at my mind-clutter, I feel like the light bulbs are slowly coming on one by one.  It’s as if Holy Spirit himself is walking slowly through the “house” of my heart and mind and illuminating the dark places.  Sometimes it’s a beaming light that startles me awake.  Sometimes, it’s the peaceful glow of candlelight, a gentle reminder to make a change.  Listening to my grandmother’s good-bye to my grandfather, candlelight.  Realizing what I am doing to the spirits of my daughters, startling beam.

Life has the potential to be harsh enough.  We can be kind here.

Life is rushed the minute we walk out the front door.  We can be peaceful and deliberate here.

Life is brutally honest, even kicking you while you’re down at times.  We can establish the truth in love here.  Grace can abound here.

Tomorrow, when my daughters return from school and we’re back at home, just “being” and going about our day, the word sanctuary will be written on my forehead and heart, and I’ll start erasing the words I’ve written on theirs.  I’ll pull off the heavy shrouds and replace them with the godly covering that speaks worth and value based solely on, not what they do, but, who they are.

Kind.

Smart.

Important.

Holy.

sanctuary

 

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are mine alone, and any commission gained from products in this post is solely provided by Amazon.  Here at Klover House, I take sincere pride in exposing my readers to products, authors, and companies that I support 100%, and I promote from a place of personal experience only.  Thanks for supporting us through the use of any links found on our blog! xo, Kristi)

 

More posts from Klover House:

Living “Hands Free”

handsfree3

Dear Baby (published in “New Life Within”)

dearbaby

Before…You Were His.

his