Building A Heaven Family Here: Danielle’s Story

Far too often, a woman miscarries a child and carries the pain alone. The world keeps spinning, our schedules keep moving, lives are never paused…except for hers. She’s different now. Changed without permission. No advance notice, just a sudden curve in the road that jerks her onto a terrain she never wished to travel. And if she never tells a soul (other than maybe her significant other and doctor), she may never experience the freedom that comes by sharing her story. She may never see her story bring healing to the next woman walking in those shoes… This is why we share, why we talk about our experiences, and why I am so eager to share other women’s testimonies when they are offered up.

I picture our testimonies like the washing of another’s feet. We take our pain, our loss, our grief, our uncertainties, and sadness, and we pour it over the next woman’s soul. But once you pour it out, something beautiful happens… The Lord takes that pain and hurt and doubt and mourning and before it leaves the basin, it has been transformed by the Holy Spirit into gladness…joy…beauty…hope…peace…

In our book, “Blessings through Teardrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom”, we say that you’ve joined a club of sorts when you lose a child. This club is not popular by any means – no one wants to be in it, but what you will find, if you find yourself here, is that you are loved. You are welcomed with open arms and offered many shoulders on which to cry. You are given doses of hope by the bucketful, and maybe the most important thing you’ll find in this club is validation of your motherhood.

Your motherhood was not lost with your baby – it was born. Your child is as alive as you and I, if not more so. Safe in the arms of Jesus, in a world we do not yet know and understand, your child awaits your sweet arrival. We call you “Mother” here. And beyond that, we have seen time and time again the power and freedom and JOY that comes with taking that validation and channeling it back to your baby by validating their eternal existence as your son/daughter.

One way that we have done that in our family, and I have witnessed time and time again in other families, is we give that sweet child a name. Our EJ is spoken of often in our home, and we have such peace with our story, because EJ is very much a part of it. It’s amazing how we know. We know deep in our mother-hearts that our children are very much alive, and we call them by name. In doing so, we validate their place in our families, and we honor them in our everyday lives.

The story I am blessed to share with you is the story of Danielle. Today, June 29th, was the due date of her precious child. She is a mother of two such precious ones, and she asked that I share her story of loss, hope, and revelation during a time of great grieving. I pray that you will read her story and be encouraged. I pray that you take her words and allow them to offer you comfort in your own time of loss, and we both pray that if you are in this club with us that you would consider what she has to say in regards to your own story. It’s never too late to validate your baby’s life. It’s never too late to honor them with a name.

Danielle’s Story

On November 8th, 2016, everyone in the U.S. was up in arms waiting for our presidential election results. I was at home with my husband, Brad. Our nation voted in a new president that day, but mine and Brad’s world would be affected in an unforeseeable way. That morning, our second pregnancy ended. The second in 9 months. The second in our first year of marriage. I went to the bathroom, and realized soon after that I miscarried. The emotions swept over me. I went to Brad’s home office and told him through tears that I believed I had just miscarried again. I have never witnessed Brad cry, but we just held each other and wept. Bawled, really. Deep sobs of sadness and pain. Why did this happen again?

Through the coming months, I would experience grief. Waves of emotions. Sometimes anger, sometimes tears. Usually uncontrolled. There were other things going on in life during this time that may have exacerbated these feelings. But, mostly it was just this feeling of deep loss. Loss of life, loss of dreams, fear, confusion, and a feeling that everything was out of control surrounded me.

When God Gives a Name…

However, even during this extremely emotional time, I knew God was in control. I never felt mad at God. I certainly didn’t understand why this happened or what the future held, but I knew God was still there, even if I didn’t feel Him. And since we had already experienced one miscarriage, we knew it was vital to ask God to reveal our baby’s sex so we could name him or her. A few months after our first miscarriage, I was praying in my head one night. I prayed for peace and understanding. I was saying a sentence about our baby, and the name Josiah just flowed out of my mind into the sentence. It was then and there, that I knew our baby was a boy. That moment also gave us a name. A name I had never even considered or thought about. I knew it was the Holy Spirit giving us peace of mind and clarity over a tough situation.

In February, a few months after our second miscarriage, while continuing to pray about this same question of whether our baby was a boy or a girl, a friend sent me a blog post about a woman who had a miscarriage. This blog was about how the mother named her baby Rose and all the details of how miscarriage affected their lives. It prompted me to have a conversation with Brad. So, I asked him if he had prayed about the sex of our baby and whether he thought the baby was a boy or a girl. He said he believed it was a girl, but couldn’t remember why he had that thought. It was ok that he didn’t remember why he felt that way, because I also felt strongly that it was a girl. Even with only two choices, it was a big deal that we both had opinions at all, let alone that these opinions were the same. I then told him that I had a name I felt compelled to name our little girl who never made it past seven weeks. This name made me cry every time I thought of it in the weeks prior to this conversation with Brad. To me, that was a verification from God that it was the right choice. I told Brad that I wanted to name our baby Charlotte. For me, this name is an important name in our family, as it honors my grandmother.

However, as soon as I said this, Brad was in awe. He recalled that his parents, before he was born, almost adopted a young girl named Charlotte. To further confirm our choice, Brad’s mom, Kathy, was adopted as a baby; however, her birth name was Charlotte! There was such a connection for this name choice. Many times in the past months I didn’t see or feel God working in this extremely painful situation; yet here He was working out the details of our baby. Who she was. What she would be named. The fact that her father and I both knew she was a sweet baby girl. I couldn’t have felt a stronger reminder of God’s love than at that time.

Building a Heaven Family Here…

When you don’t feel the love, or don’t see the path you’re to take, or can’t understand the journey you’ve been on, God is still working out the smallest details to give you peace of mind, allowing you to rest, to heal, and to love your unborn baby in a deeper way. Right now, Charlotte is back with Jesus. We don’t believe she’s an angel looking down on us but we know she’s not alone. Her brother Josiah is with her. There are countless relatives with her. And, as of this June, her great Aunt Joyce is in Heaven with her. My Aunt Joyce sang to so many babies here on earth, because, man oh man, she really loved babies. I am comforted thinking that she is in Heaven singing lullabies to our sweet babies. I have peace knowing they are all so loved. That these babies only knew love. That they never knew fear or evil. It’s comforting to know that Brad and I will see them again, in redeemed and whole bodies, in Heaven one day when God calls us home.

Through it all, I am thankful. I am still grieving our loved ones, but I can have peace and be thankful. God freely gives the gift of salvation that allows us to know Him and come home to Him after this earthly life is over. And without God working on our behalf behind the scenes, we wouldn’t know this peace or be able to have the courage to share our story.

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A beautiful necklace my friend, Cessily, gave me for Mother’s Day this year.

Sing and dance with Jesus, our beautiful loved ones.

Josiah             3-30-2016 (due around November 29, 2016)

Charlotte       11-8-2016 (due around June 29, 2017)

Joyce Miller   6-2-2017

 

 

 

The Ultimate “Gift-Away” for Mom!

What do Norwex, Essential Oils, Scentsy, Stella and Dot, Lularoe, Chocolate Apple Orchard, and a New York Times Best-Selling Author have in common?

They’re all a part of the first annual Klover House Mother’s Day Gift-Away!

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As I sat down for what felt like a hundred times to type this post, my kids did everything imaginable to stop my writing in its tracks. They fought, they whined, they asked for food, they asked for drinks, they begged to go outside, and I caved, they sat on me, they climbed my back while choking my neck, they used my body as a ladder to try and reach the lightswitch in the dining room… I thought, “This is hopeless! I wanted to get this up and running HOURS ago!”

And it hit me – that is EXACTLY why I’m doing this in the first place. Motherhood is hard! Yes, it is rewarding beyond words, and most, if not all of us, would gladly take on tantrum-filled days and sibling bickering any day just to be with these special people that call us, “Mom.”

But moms need a little love, too. Moms need random care packages and love notes. Moms need encouragement and affirmation as much as sunshine! Community, sisterhood, and good old fashioned kindness can fill any mom’s love tank.

So, here is our chance! I threw a note out to my friends on Facebook a few weeks ago, asking if anyone would be interested in participating in this giveaway, and the response was huge! I was so humbled and touched by the generosity of my friends.

I think we’re generous because we “get it.” We get it that moms need that spontaneous pick-me-up. We kind of hope for, or even expect, trinkets of appreciation from our spouses and children on Mother’s Day, but when total strangers, people who “owe” you nothing, pull together just to bless…that’s something extra wonderful.

So to all of you amazing ladies that pitched in to make this the most crazy-great giveaway Klover House has ever offered, Thank You!!!! Your kindness has knocked my socks off, and I pray that God would bless your socks right back – tenfold! xo

There will be TWO winners, and each will receive a plethora of goodness including*, but not limited to, the following:

Chocolate Apple Orchard – A local, Pittsburgh family-owned confectionery. Their treats are so decadent and delicious! I can eat an entire apple myself. They are crisp and fresh underneath layers of delicious caramel, chocolate, and toppings. She makes party favors and gift baskets, too. Remember my friend Kristi when you need your next sweet gift or favor! You can’t go wrong ordering from this mom, and guess what else…she ships!!!

Elysian and Eden (formerly Canvas and More by Aly) – Interior design student by day, the amazing Aly D. is a gifted artist with a heart of gold. One of her treasures hangs in our playroom, and I smile every time I glance at it! Her gifts are lovely, unique, and full of heart! She loves my kids and, already an old-soul, she gets moms, too. Aly is so special and you are going to adore her shop!

Grillin’ Magic – I’m so excited to try this product for myself! We are a grilled-food lovin’ family. What mom wouldn’t be happy to hand over a delicious seasoning blend to her hubby on Mother’s Day and take a night off?! Or if you are a mama who loves to grill…even better! My friend Donna is generously gifting each winner their very own bottle of this secret blend of spices!

Lularoe – Need I say anything?! These leggings have taken America by storm. They are the official mom uniform of 2017. They are as soft as silk and they hold you tight in all of the right places. They’re my husband’s favorite on me. 😉 lol Alanna’s Lularoe business has skyrocketed, because she has two amazing things going for her – an awesome line of clothing to offer and her! You’ll love having Alanna as your go-to Lularoe girl.

Norwex – I have two words for you… yellow Sharpie. My kids decided to “color” our light tan carpet with neon yellow Sharpie. I was mortified until I remembered my friend Kylie gave me a Norwex Envirocloth and some carpet spray for a raspberry stain last week. So let me tell you, I sprayed the raspberry stain, and 30 minutes later, I went back to blot it up and it was gone already! So, I took it to the yellow Sharpie. Sprayed, waited, and dabbed with the Envirocloth, and GONE. So not only are these products toxin-free and antimicrobial by design, but they work! I’m sold!

“Only Love Today” by Rachel Macy Stafford (including “OLT” Swag handpicked by Rachel, herself!) This book is such a great read for the soul and spirit. I use it as a devotional and it ministers deep into my mama-heart on the weariest of days. Rachel has such a gift of encouragement and you will love this book. And when she heard that I was personally gifting two copies, she offered to send additional Only Love Today items! That’s her! So generous and kind. She truly wants to make a difference in the lives of others. One lucky winner will receive an incredibly soft OLT t-shirt (I’m jealous!), and another lucky winner will receive a gorgeous bracelet! I wear mine everyday and it reminds me to put my love on, hang in there, and do my best to be a loving mom. Kids don’t want perfection; they just want our love.

Rodan and Fields – Rodan and Fields has become one of the most well-known companies in skincare. Their results speak for themselves. My friend Teri’s skin is stunning! She is giving away some samples of some R&F, and what woman wouldn’t love a little pampering, right?! I know I’d love it!

Scentsy – I love Scentsy… My kids love their Scentsy Buddies… One of my favorite things to do is toss a scentsy pack on the heating vent in my closet. I walk in, and the whole room smells like Black Raspberry! I can’t wait to see which scents my friend Renee has in store for you! Their gorgeous warmers and wax packs would make the perfect gift!

Stella and Dot – Stella and Dot items are just gorgeous. When I hosted a party last year, I seriously wanted everything. Their jewelry is stunning and well-made. I love how classic and timeless the pieces are. They also make beautiful handbags and clutches. I’m keeping it a surprise, but what Jessica and Julie have in store is just W.O.W. Two of you are receiving amazing Stella and Dot surprises!!! Lucky girls!

Essential Oils – I love my essential oils. They are so beneficial! I use them to prevent sickness, treat ailments, make our home smell good, clean and sanitize, scent my wool dryer balls, add to the bath… The list is endless! If you aren’t an essential oil lover yet, don’t worry, you will be soon!

Friends, the value of these packages are easily OVER $200 EACH! *Packages will vary and not contain identical items, but each will contain items of equal value!

And REMEMBER – even if you don’t win one of the “Gift-Aways”, feel free to contact these fantastic ladies! They often have items onhand and may be able to help you out in the gift-giving department anytime! They can hook you up down the road, too!

Entering is so simple! Just use the rafflecopter found here! Happy Mother’s Day, friends! Remember – you are valued, appreciated, and very loved today and everyday. xo
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Latest Elsewhere: The Biggest Lie We Believe As Parents

Every so often, I am blessed to contribute to Kids Activities Blog. This latest article is based upon a revelation I had last year and is dedicated to my precious Eden Grace, who taught me a very important parenting truth.

Parenting Lie

THE BIGGEST LIE WE BELIEVE AS PARENTS…

I think when you become a parent for the first time, and maybe even before you become one, there are certain lies you tell yourself. You don’t realize that they are lies, of course, until after you’ve been in charge of another human being for a certain amount of time.

As we add to our families, ideals that we had adopted and lived by successfully as the parent to one child can also shift innocently into lies. One of the biggest lies I’ve ever told myself about parenting was that I would figure out how to parent, who I was a s a parent, and the rest would fall into place. I’m here to tell you that hasn’t been the case…

Read the original post HERE.

Full Color KAB Watermark

A Thousand Grains of Rice

Too Much…

Tonight, I walked upstairs, brushed my teeth as my husband filled me in on current events, and then I committed to one last Facebook check before putting the phone down for the night. And as I scrolled I saw a picture of a young boy, whose story I have been following, curled up on a rug next to a toilet. His head was bald and his frame, frail. Cancer. Cancer sucks. Childhood cancer is the devil.

rice

I started to read the comment attached and immediately realized that this sweet boy had lost his fight. I said to my husband, who was now drifting off to sleep, “I hate it so much when a little one I’ve been following passes away.” And then I continued reading. The story that unfolded, unfolded me. I bawled right there. The bravery of this small child…the fight…the agony and strength of his mother…the timing of his passing…the miracle of his final moment…and the overbearing wondering of “why”…”why do they die, Lord?”…it was too much.

This story, on the heels of the tragedy in Syria…the stories and images of children…babies…gasping for air like helpless fish out of water…it’s too much.

Truth Be Told…

I’ve written posts like this before, and I can’t avoid writing them. I may be greeted with new unsubscription notices by morning, but I can’t care about that. This blog is first and foremost for my daughters. It’s the little bit of me that they will have once I’m gone. The parts of me that I shield them from – the fears, the failures, the joys, the love… Everything I am, I let seep out into this place. And right now, everything I am feels broken.

We spend our days looking for the good…as we should, but we know deep inside that it’s too much. The world and it’s pain is too, too much. The mothers burying their babies…the wars that seem too far gone and beyond our control…the loneliness and pain out there…it’s too much. So, we do our best to put on our brave faces and put on that joy and we smile…we worry about sporting events, and finding the right dresses for special occasions, and whitening our smiles (hello, me), and which series to watch on Netflix…

We fill our minds and our time with so much stuff that, at least in my case, it numbs the reality of what’s going on in the world, in our communities, and even in our own homes.

We Are Meant for This…

I am a burden-bearer. That’s what I do. I am a worry-wart. That’s a battle I fight. I am a “highly sensitive person”. I feel all the feels about all the things all the time. That’s who I am.

It’s exhausting. So I try to keep that barrier intact – the one that keeps “the feels” in check and censors the heartache out there. But then, I have a night like tonight when I let the stories in, and I’m caught up in the flood of emotions that come with being human.

I believe that we are meant to care. We are meant to weep and mourn. We are meant to stop injustice. We are born to be light and love and hope. We are destined to win the war against evil and disease and heartache. We are created in the image of God, and that means feeling all the feels about all the things all the time.

A Thousand Grains of Rice…

This morning, my smallest two children decided that it would be a grand idea to dump an entire Ziploc bag of uncooked rice on the kitchen floor. It was “raining” on Barbie and her friends. It rained, alright. I’m pretty sure that it poured, and I came out to a thousand grains of rice, if not more, everywhere I looked.

A few years ago now, I read a book called, Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!, and then in 2015, I read the complementary book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More. In those books, the author, Rachel Macy Stafford, depicts an event that ultimately set her on a course to shift the culture of her home and one that completely changed her outlook on both parenting and life. It was a story of her daughter spilling rice in the kitchen.

The event this morning transported me to that very moment, and I contemplated quickly how best to react. Because of Rachel’s words and her decision to share that experience, I was able to make a better choice. There were no tears, no screams, no condemnation… And tonight, after reading the heart-wrenching update on that dear boy, it felt as though I was seeing my days here on earth as those thousand grains of rice, scattered across the floor. Each moment, so tiny, each day, so seemingly insignificant, but they’re all I have.

What Really Matters…

At the end of my days, and I beg God that my end comes far off from now and while my children are all healthy and thriving, I want to know that I didn’t squander those small moments. I want my life to mean something. I want my time here to be worth something. I want to be remembered well and leave a strong legacy, but more than any of that, I want to close my eyes for the last time knowing that I spent every grain loving these people so truly and so deeply. I want my girls to see my adoration in every look and feel how my heart beats for them with every touch.

This post isn’t to condemn myself or anyone else, it’s a wake up call. Yes, I will place my whitening toothpaste order tomorrow. Yes, I will probably talk to people about Plexus. Yes, I will most-likely still look for an Easter dress this week. But you know what…I don’t really care about all that stuff much anymore.

I care about the Syrians dying, and I will hit my knees.

I care about that boy’s mother and her broken heart, and I will hug my children harder and longer.

I care about my babies and husband, so I will put my phone down, shut the computer off, and be their world and let them be mine.

Everything else is meaningless, isn’t it?

And when I feel that creep, Fear, start to steal my sound mind, I will remind my soul that my King sits on the throne. My God is at the helm of our days and this broken world, and it will be well. The world may overwhelm, but He told us that He overcame the world. The news may feel dark, but we know the Light and carry it inside of ourselves. The days may feel insignificant, but they are precious – so precious that He has them counted and numbered and recorded. Let’s treat them as such – precious, worth measuring and well-remembered.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12

Yes, Lord, teach us. Teach us to appreciate the brevity of this day and also to take all of the hurt and pain around us to You in prayer. Encourage our hearts with the understanding that the prayers we pray will impact the world from this moment into eternity. Let us not be afraid to feel all the feels about all the things all the time, but let us instead use that awareness to make each grain of rice count. Amen.

My World in April

April showers bring…

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While the world around me is buzzing, obsessing over Spring, Easter, taxes, sunshine, rain showers… April, for me, brings one thing to my mind, and one thing only… EJ.

I’m probably the only person on the planet thinking about that baby for an entire month straight, but I can’t help it. You just say the word, “April”, and there it is… “EJ’s day”. I can’t escape it, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. I am EJ’s mother, and it is only right for a mother to love, celebrate, and long for a child that is no longer with her.

Sometimes the wondering still kills me. And then, I quickly come back to the awareness that I have four beautiful children, three of whom may have never existed had it not been for our loss. And my heart is able to rest in that gratitude.

EJ turns six this year, as does our precious Isla. She is a force. The world is blessed to have her in it. She’s like a jewel that the Lord placed in the crown of the earth. She shines. She is still the one that brings EJ up the most. A part of my mother-heart believes that somewhere deep inside that soul of her’s, she is connected to EJ in spirit – like a twin of sorts.

She planned our celebration this year – “Something fun,” she said, “like Chuck-E-Cheese.” She knows what six year olds like.

I guess this post doesn’t have much of a point, but more of a confession. A mother, even through miscarriage, never stops remembering, never stops thinking, never stops caring, never stops loving… And, especially in April, I go to bed hoping that I’ll see that precious one in my dreams. Just a peek, Jesus. Please.

 

If you or someone you know has lost a child to miscarriage, please consider checking out a book written from our hearts…

miscarriage

Blessings through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom

We are currently working on a print version and each chapter concludes with an intimate opportunity to journal and release the words you may have been holding tucked into your soul for long enough…

You’re in my prayers tonight, friend.

xo,

Kristi

 

Watching for Sunrise

The kids and husband have gone to bed and the house is quiet and still. I tiptoe from room to room, tidying up what is left of the day’s messes. I creep up and down the basement stairs with laundry piles and basketfuls to be folded. I make a cup of tea and rest for a few minutes on the couch. Sometimes it’s a short date with the DVR; sometimes it’s a chance to write. Tonight, it was an opportunity to slowly peruse the latest Anthro magazine in dimly-lit peace.

I glance at the clock nearby – 1:20 in the morning. I should go to bed, but I don’t want to. The sound of little footsteps jars my thoughts and spares me from the truth for a few minutes more. I help her with a potty break, a drink of water and lead her back to bed.

As I head back down to the living room, I think to myself, “It’s good that I’m still awake. Doing all of that would’ve been much harder had I been woken up from sleep…”

I sit back down and glance at my phone. A friend’s Facebook post raptures my attention. It’s about a mother, around my age, who also has all daughters. “I have no words…,” the post starts – her eldest, just sixteen, is in the arms of Jesus tonight…

I lose myself in a sea of images – picture after picture of a mother and her daughters…her babies…they adore Jesus…and just like that, on “just another Saturday,” one is gone suddenly and too soon.

I’m undone, and as I feel lost in the fears that seem to swallow me whole, He reveals why I seem to wait night after night for sunrise…

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I’m afraid of what tomorrow holds.

God knows, but I don’t, and I’m afraid of the not-knowing. Today, my husband has a great job. Today, my four daughters are healthy. Today I am alive. Today we have each other. But what will still be there tomorrow?

So I sit and I stare the clock down. I dare it to tick without my knowing. I busy my mind so I don’t think about my worries. I busy my heart so I escape fear for one more hour. And I busy my hands so I can deny surrendering to the end of another day of making it.

How wonderful would it be to rest a weary head each night with assurance that tomorrow would be equally as good and safe, if not more so than it was today?

What sweet relief would come from a promise of lifelong health for all whom you hold dear?

What freedom would be felt – to relinquish control and simply place your life and all of its details at the feet of Jesus? How amazing it would be to really trust them there…

Somehow watching for the dawn, riding the wave of the night, guarantees me safe passage into tomorrow.

Midnight? What’s midnight? They say that, “Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed,” so I deny today’s end, regardless of what the clock reads.

There is such great risk in loving. Each night, I live as though my hand is laid out on the table. The Lord knows the cards and that loving deeply sometimes feels like life’s greatest gamble.

But I feel Him asking me, “Why are you playing the game? Why are you living in constant fear of losing what you’ve already gained for all time?”

Oh, that we could wrap our minds around eternity. Tomorrow could very well hurt. There will be wins and losses, ups and downs, but it’s not a gamble – it’s an investment. A down payment on eternity.

So, as afraid as I may feel some nights, I will give it to Him and love hard tomorrow. God does not promise us an easy life, but a full one. He doesn’t promise us riches, but eternal rewards. He doesn’t promise us a life without roadblocks and pitfalls, but prayer that wields great power.

He doesn’t promise me and my loved ones a smooth ride, but He does say He’ll never forsake us. He’ll never leave us. He doesn’t leave. Someone who loves you does not leave. He loves us. And because He loves us and is perfect, it makes sense that He is Perfect Love. His Word reveals that Perfect Love casts out fear. And because He literally casts out fear as He walks alongside us constantly, then I know we can face tomorrow with confident faith.

A season is coming – a season in which many Believers will be fasting and sacrificing in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. During this season, I am fasting my fears. While the rest of my people go off to bed, instead of indulging in the silence and standing watch in the night, overwhelmed by fear, I am going to take a few minutes (or twenty) alone to starve my anxiety and lay it all down before my King.

I lay down the fear so I have room to carry trust, faith, peace, confidence and joy.

He declares through His Word that He gives rest to those He loves and that joy comes in the morning… So I will not fear tomorrow, because joy comes with the sunrise and Jesus waits for me on the horizon.

xo,

Kristi

 

Simply Noel: December 25 – A Gift

Simply Noel:

December 25 – A Gift

Merry Christmas!

It seems as though it would be fitting for the topic today to be Christ-related, right? I mean afterall, it is Christmas Day. But, I have a different message laying on my heart today, and I believe the timing is no coincidence.

You are a gift.

In case you needed to hear that today, you are a treasured gift. Your value is immeasurable. Your worth is greater than all the riches of the earth. And your existence…you…you were planned for and bought with a life.

You are known and unique and the Lord has shaped destiny around your very being. He loves you so much that He sent His only Son to come to this world as a baby, and that baby would grow into a man whose heart was to teach you and train you for the life that the Father had so delicately planned for you. The Son would then die for you, defeat death for you, come back to life for you, and then leave His Holy Spirit to dwell in and among you, so that you would be a champion in this place.

He thinks that you are such a gift to this world that He went to great lengths to prove it.

Recently, I faced rejection by someone whose opinions mattered so much to me. I took a risk and exposed a vulnerable part of my heart only to be met with a response I had feared in the first place. The hurt struck deep, and the embarrassment was like a snag in my favorite sweater – an unexpected reminder of my shortcomings that wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I could have replied with transparency, exposing my wounded feelings, but instead, I let it settle and I laid it at His feet. I could do this, because He showed me something about myself through the rejection…

My value, the value of my writings, the value of my mind and heart, the value of my time…they are not measured by any other humans. They are measured by the Lord of Lords. Everything I put my hand to, everything you put your hand to, is unto Him. When I started to see that, the sting faded and my confidence was restored.

During the holidays we spend a great deal of time with others, and in doing so, we obviously increase the odds that someone may hurt our hearts. Maybe it’s a snide comment, or perhaps it’s something said in jest but goes deep… Maybe it’s being made to feel “less than” or not “good enough” by the people in your life that you most want approval from… Maybe you just feel unnoticed, unappreciated or overlooked…

Regardless, you are a gift. Your life is a gift to this world, and your talents and passions are uniquely your own. Remember today, as you give and receive, He gave first and all that we are is a gift back to Him.

xo,

Kristi

gift

Klover House Christmas:

This year was the first year that we spent most of the day at our own home. There were a few hours of “nothing to do” and “no one to see” in our day, and so, it felt a little strange but wonderful. Usually, holidays feel so rushed for our family, and in previous years, we spent a great deal of time in the car. Today, however, we found ourselves actually spending time with one another – imagine that! lol

While it was slightly awkward, because it was unfamiliar, I loved being able to enjoy some spontaneity with our children. Once my in-laws headed on their way following breakfast, I knew we had a decent stretch of time before my mother and step-dad would arrive, so we opened a few new toys and actually let the kids play! We also decorated the gingerbread houses that had been neglected earlier in the week. It was probably the most unintentional schedule we’ve ever found ourselves following on a holiday, but I think it ended up being one of my favorites because of the unexpected time we were able to spend with each other.

All that to say…don’t be afraid to have downtime on Christmas. Yes, it’s important to visit with loved ones and squeeze a lot of doing and seeing into this glorious day, but if you can, carve a pocket of time out to just sit and be – reserve time for hanging out with your spouse and your kids or for sipping a cup of coffee next to your tree. And just breathe. Create a chance to take in the gift of the day.

 

Simply Noel: December 24 – Holy Night

Simply Noel:

December 24 – Holy Night

Earlier in the month I stumbled upon a beautiful rendition of a classic Christmas song that I’m sure most of us know and sing several times throughout the holiday season, O Holy Night. (If you get a chance, by the way, check out how this beautiful and moving song came to be. It’s such an interesting story.) I was looking into something completely different and the words, “O Helga Natt” caught my eye on the computer screen.

I click on the link, and found myself moved to tears at the new revelation the song brought to me in those midnight moments. Christmas is for the world…

It’s so easy to get wrapped up – literally and figuratively – during the holidays. It’s not surprising to go through the month of December with tunnel vision. After all, there is just so much to do and so many things vying for our time and attention.

Yet, during those few minutes that it took to listen to that beautiful song with my heart and not my head (listening to a familiar song sung in a language that you don’t speak can do that – opera, anyone?), I found myself overwhelmed at the thought of the millions of human beings from all over the world worshipping this same Jesus. I was undone. While He loves me uniquely, and I am His beloved, isn’t it incredible that He loves billions of people with that same undying, everlasting, eternal, passionate, intentional love?

Let that sink in for a moment.

You and I are part of such a large and beautiful family. We are His sons and daughters. We are each others brothers and sisters. Even if we don’t look the same, think the same, act the same, or sound the same…we are eternally connected in spirit and in truth.

And on this night – the holiest of nights – take a moment to let the bigger picture consume and inspire you as you reflect on the fact that there is an entire world celebrating Him with you.

xo,

Kristi

night

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight, as I mentioned in a previous post, is all about Jesus and family. We are blessed with a few simple and timeless traditions – some of which have come from my side of the family and some from my husband’s. We enjoy a delicious, seafood feast at his parents’ house with his siblings and their families, and then we usually go to church together, followed by returning home to open one gift – a new pair of festive pajamas. In years past we had gifted the children each a Christmas story, but I noticed that many of the books have gone untouched over the years. So this year, we decided to have my husband read the story of Jesus’ birth as told by one of my favorite children’s bibles – The Jesus Storybook Bible (see aff. link below). We love this Bible. It not only tells the stories in a way that appeals to young and old alike, but it also has such unique and beautiful illustrations. While I loved the idea of a new book each year, I love the idea of my girls growing up knowing the birth so well that it plays over and over for them as they drift off to sleep Christmas Eve.

Simply Noel: January 3 – A Life Adorned

Simply Noel:

January 3 – A Life Adorned

“He adorned the house with settings of precious stones. The gold was gold of Parvaim.” – 2 Chronicles 3:6

Adorn –

transitive verb

1:  to enhance the appearance of especially with beautiful objects

2:  to enliven or decorate as if with ornaments

As I knelt down to help my young daughter in the bathroom the other day, I found myself gazing at the little shelf at the base of the sink vanity. Admiring the cinnamon-scented pine cones piled neatly in the center of a white, porcelain tray immediately left me thinking, “I wonder if anyone even notices these.”

The thought stopped me in my tracks.

Did they need to notice? Afterall, I have little things here and there all over the house that have simply become the background of our home. The books on the hutch, strategically placed so that it looks unintentionally pleasing to the eye… The framed pictures on the tables, shelves and walls… The old violin-shaped plant hanger, that I painted yellow last night, hanging on the play room wall… The throw pillows that I contemplated, for what seemed like years, strewn about the couches and chairs…

All of it – intentional.

All of it – for them, for us.

I adorn our home so that it feels like home to them. I have set out to create spaces that feel full of love and warmth. I want them to grow up in an environment that feels safe and clean while having the freedom to live and breathe. I’m building a sanctuary for them, not a museum.

And just as we adorn our homes for ourselves and our families, it occurred to me that God does the same for His beloveds…us.

As I sat there on the floor, waiting for my three year old to finish in the bathroom, I heard my very thoughts repeated to me as if it was the Father – “I wonder if they even notice?” And even if we never do notice the little details that God has intentionally taken care of in our lives, as our parent, our Creator…He understands. He doesn’t provide for us and adorn our lives with good things for recognition. He does it because he loves us. And in our spiritual immaturity, as children of God, maybe details will go unnoticed for years, but that doesn’t make them any less real.

How has the Lord adorned your life? Answered prayers? Financial blessing? The gift of friendship? A warm and beautiful home? A family? A gift? A compliment from a random stranger? A wonderful church? A trusted mentor?

God appreciates details. Know today that He does, and He is a faithful, loving parent who enjoys enriching each corner of your life. Your life is adorned with His goodness, because you are adored by Him.

xo,

Kristi

adorned

Klover House Christmas:

As I begin to tuck away our Christmas decor this week, I look forward to adorning our home with other beautiful things. Even if my family never notices them, I will not let that cause resentment, because I understand why I put forth the effort to create a sanctuary for them. They may not remember the pine cones, the wreaths, the pictures on the wall, or the random bouquets scattered around, but they will remember the way that they felt here and they will know that they were loved and cared for to the best of my abilities. As I set up my new vignettes and rearrange the pillows for the tenth time…I will take a moment to pray for each space and each room. I will bless the places where they rest and play and eat. I will even bless the bathrooms – a space where self-awareness and self-care is fostered. I will pray as I remove the dirty laundry and set out the fresh towels that they grow to love the person that God made each of them to be, and that they will always care more about inward beauty than outward appearance. I will pray that their reflections will always reveal joy-filled eyes and glad hearts. I will bless their physical, mental, and emotional health, too. And as I go from room to room, adorning and praying, I will be content and humbled by all of the things and people God has given me that have made my life more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

 

Simply Noel: December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Simply Noel:

December 23 – Adequate in Christ

Last night, as I walked through the living room, turning off lights, I was hit in my heart with a word: Inadequate.

All of a sudden, I felt such tremendous inadequacy as a mother, a wife, a child of God…

So many people out there are doing hard things. Some mothers are juggling careers and children with serious issues and illnesses, and I consider it a “win” if I’m showered and have fed my kids 2.4 meals in a day. Some women are operating businesses from their homes and supporting their families, and all I have to offer are my cooking and cleaning abilities. Couples are posting pictures of events and dinners, and I am lucky to say four sentences to my husband through the dinner noise. My Instagram feed is overflowing with clean homes and smiling children, and these people look like they have it all together. I’m over here drowning in housework, and we seem to live in a perpetual tornado of mess, despite the fact that I’m constantly donating and throwing things away.

I managed to make three cookies, and tonight I hope to hang garland and stockings. It seems like it should be so easy – so possible. But day-in and day-out, I feel like I’ve fallen short and missed all sorts of marks. My children are blessed with perfect health, my home is sturdy and comfortable enough for a family of six, I have a husband who works extra hard so I can stay home with our children, and I move through each day without stopping, but still the feelings of inadequacy follow me around like a shadow.

Many days, I can push that shadow far away, and the peace of God fills my mind. But every once in awhile, it hits me like an anvil – inadequate, and I sink into the lies of the enemy.

Sometimes, when I find myself dwelling on a word in particular, I’ll look it up. I know what “inadequate” means, but the actual definitions and even synonyms and antonyms of a word can really help to better deliver whatever message the Lord is trying to teach me.

In this case, it was the list of antonyms that were illuminated for me – sufficient and abundant.

And there’s Jesus. He showed up in a dictionary entry to remind me that when I feel inadequate in life that His grace is sufficient and He has come so that I may live abundantly.

Sufficiency

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

– 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Abundance

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

– John 10:10

“Abundant” being “beyond what we can imagine and full of meaning and purpose. Regardless of any feelings or unmet expectations, Christ in us brings abundance to our lives. We have purpose and meaning beyond our earthly accomplishments. There’s no “measuring up” in God.

Neither of those truths have anything to do with our efforts or any striving. Both have everything to do with who Christ is in us and what He is capable of, which is everything. Our job is to simply rest in Him, operate out of the grace and strength He provides, and deliver love to those with whom we come in contact.

Who you are is enough. Who I am is enough. Don’t judge your story by someone else’s cover. Where and who we are today is just a part of a grand journey with Him. We are forever adequate in Christ.

xo,

Kristi

adequate

Klover House Christmas:

We tried a new sugar cookie recipe this year, because I wanted to use my Penzey’s Orange Peel. You can never go wrong with The Pioneer Woman. Instead of the actual lemon or orange zest, I used a 1/2 tsp. of my dried orange spice.

We (the girls and I) made our own frosting using a softened stick of unsalted butter, vanilla, 1/4 cup of melted white chocolate, and enough powdered sugar to reach the texture we wanted (maybe a cup).

You can sneak a peek at our fun by visiting our “Story” on Instagram.

Merry Christmas!