Simply Noel: December 4 – He Comes

Simply Noel:

December 4 – He Comes

Yesterday was a very busy day for our family, complete with crashing early. As I drifted to sleep last night, the words, “He is coming” rolled around in my head. He is coming. The Lord is coming.

 

Are you facing something in your life right now? Maybe a diagnosis? A loved one passing? A dream that seems to be on hold? A relationship on the rocks? A child who is suffering and your hands seem tied?

Are you hurting? Longing? Feeling lost?

Do you wish a situation was different?

Are you in a place of discontent?

He comes, for you and to you.

Did you know that the first two weeks of Advent, which we are in right now, focus on the second coming of Jesus? So, not only are we reminded this week that the Lord is coming once again for His people, but we are reminded that He comes to us daily to meet our weary souls, our troubled minds, our wounded hearts, and our broken bodies.

He’s coming, friend. He comes for His beloved, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills.

He’s coming to you, beautiful one, with a message of hope – “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.”

He calls to your heart and invites you to come to Him. Tuck yourself away in Him during your troubles, your unrest, and lean on His faithfulness. He wants you to know that you are not alone in your loneliness, and your battles are won in Him. He goes before you and fights for you.

Immanuel, “God with us” comes.

When you feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or like there’s no hope left for joy…remember the scriptures. He is the one that comes running, He is the one that comes knocking, He is the one with the invitation, He is the one with the offers, He is the one who brings hope, and joy, and life to every situation.

Rejoice in His promise to you that He has come and will always come to you.

I imagine the stillness that night He was born. The shepherds in the fields… The Magi gazing at the night sky… The world lay still in waiting for this promise to come, and then, the star appeared and angels announced His arrival. Can you imagine that moment? Those centuries of waiting, and suddenly, He came. Imagine the joy that also came with His coming. Regardless of what was taking place in their personal stories, the news of His birth overshadowed all troubles and brought hope to the world.

So, as you go about your day today, do not be troubled. He’s walking through this day right next to you. Lean on Him and find rest for your soul. Let Him revive your spirit and renew your hope. No matter what you face, He’s here.

xo,

Kristi

 

comes

Klover House Christmas:

Today, we are going to set up our nativity and talk about the coming of Christ. Reading from Matthew chapters 1 and 2, I will share the story of Jesus’s birth and the significance of each character included in our nativity scene. We currently use this kid-friendly Fisher-Price nativity (aff.). Something I would like to incorporate into our Christmas traditions is this “Good Deeds Manger” (aff.) that friends of our’s use. I’m sure you could easily create your own, as well.

As someone who wishes to keep Christmas centered upon Jesus, I believe that setting up the nativity together as a family and discussing it, using the Word of God, can be really helpful in building a firm foundation for our little ones. Even if you have older children, you can set up a more sophisticated nativity scene and tailor the conversation to an older audience. After all, the nativity was originally introduced by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 to help people of all ages better understand and relate to the birth story of our savior. Let’s never assume that the nativity is only effective in moving the spirits of the young.

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

Just a few days into December and we’re already halfway finished with our Christmas shopping. Usually, we are part of the Christmas-Eve-Scramble crowd, but I decided that this year, we were going to keep it simple and knock it out early.

As I was chatting on the phone with my sister-in-law about gifts the other day, something struck me. We were talking about going in on a gift for our grandmother, and the ideas came so effortlessly. It didn’t matter that one of the things we had decided to buy her costs less than ten dollars on Amazon. We knew what she needed and what she liked, because we know her. Like really know.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but, I only know my grandparents’ likes and dislikes so well, because of how much time we spent together growing up, not because I’m a stellar grandchild now. Before social media and cell phones, when we had this magical thing called “free time,” we sat and hung out at their houses for hours, multiple times a week. We talked about life and family and current events. I know what kind of lotion my grandmother used, because I saw it faithfully in her bathroom and smelled it with each hug. I know the brand of coffee my other grandmother preferred, because I would sit and sip it with her as we played cards together. I know all of their favorite TV shows, where they like to shop, and what kind of music they enjoy. I know them. And even though I talk with other family members daily on Facebook and see them at every family function, I can hardly say I know them as well. Like really know.

So, my heart this year is to give gifts that attempt to say, “I know you.” In the past, I was so concerned with dollar amounts and allowing them to translate to value. The value of the item correlated to the value of the person, so by December 25th, we were miserably broke and somewhat still dissatisfied with our gifts. This year, however, I know that my grandmother loves Elvis, so it doesn’t matter that his gospel CD is just around five dollars on Amazon. I know my one nephew loves tractors. It doesn’t matter that he probably already owns twenty, and the one we liked for him wasn’t the most expensive in the store… This year, dollar signs aren’t going to determine value for us – we are going to show our loved ones their value, by getting to know them better and letting our gifts reflect that more intentionally.

Imagine that you walk into a room full of gifts, none of them have price tags… what would you give? Maybe the best gift in the room is the priceless one we call “time.” For that sibling, to whom you always give a Starbucks card – what if you randomly showed up at their house with their favorite drink in hand? That grandparent that loves puzzles – could you spare an hour to sit and do one together?

As God is working on my heart and mind in regards to gift-giving, I started thinking about His gift to us. It cost him no amount of silver or gold, but it was everything – His Son. The creator of the universe could have given his children all of the riches and material possessions the world had to offer. He could have given us unimaginable treasures, but instead, He gave us a baby in a manger – a small, innocent child, who would grow up to lay down his own life for our’s.

No amount of money can say, “I love you.” The best gifts have no price tag. The best gifts say, “I know you.”

gift

Klover House Christmas:

I realize that the greatest gift I can give my children is my undivided attention. As a mom of four, I feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around. My hope today is to spend an extra chunk of time with each of my girls – time to sit, talk, listen and observe. Time to get to know them better. Is her favorite color still orange? What’s her favorite book? Are those flecks of green or gold in her eyes?

How often do you give yourself a chance to just sit and get to know someone these days? I’m with these people all day, every day, serving them and loving them. Time to put the to-do lists aside and give priority to knowing them.

 

Simply Noel: December 2 – Know and Be Known

Simply Noel

December 2 – Know and Be Known

I literally opened this screen with the intention of writing on a completely different topic, and my heart tugged, “Not yet.” And the sentence came to mind, “Know your triggers.”

Know your triggers?

As I sat to ponder this statement, I remembered the bit that I shared yesterday about the tree-trimming fiasco. So many triggers. So many mistakes. So many emotions.

Looking back, I can see where I had made a beautiful moment far more difficult for myself and my sweet kids.

We had put the tree up several days earlier and had made a choice to leave it barren. Decorating has always been a family affair. We throw a Christmas movie or music on in the background, and we get to work.

In previous years, the kids were so small, and, believe it or not, actually more helpful in a sense. No one had an opinion. No small person had a plan. They toddled and flitted about, just happy to be surrounded by magical items and loving parents. They sported jolly Santa hats and elf ears and smiles as wide as the moon. In hindsight, it was giddy and glorious.

But things have changed. Now, we have two school-aged children, who are quite opinionated and headstrong (imagine mini Martha Stewarts in thought, Amelia Bedelias in deed). Our smaller two are comparable to wrecking balls…endearing, but still. Life has shifted, and I, apparently, resisted shifting with it – all in the name of tradition.

As I sat and reflected on the disaster, I could easily pinpoint specific “triggers” that had caused my unraveling. I just had to take the time to realize them – to know. And not just know, but be patient enough to take those few moments of reflection and visualize my place in, not the ideal scenario but rather, the reality.

As much as I have loved the idea of the whole start-to-finish decorating tradition, it just isn’t the best choice during these wrecking ball years. So, I made the decision that, until the children are older and we’ve crossed into a calmer chaos of sorts, I will simply put the lights and garland on the tree the night before. The girls really love the ornaments most anyway and barely give the other stuff a glance. Trying to explain to them why we had to dress the tree in layers only confused them and frustrated me. It’s a trigger that I can very easily eliminate. Changing my course of action doesn’t tear apart our tradition, and it still grants them the joy of ogling every shiny, dangly, blingy thing. Next year, I will breathe a deep sigh of OCD relief, knowing that I can just go along with the fun and leave the incessant arguing and complaining in the past.

Knowing myself, knowing my children, knowing our family dynamic, along with each of our limits, allows me to navigate these Christmas waters much easier. By eliminating stress-triggers, I can encourage, and even cultivate, joy-triggers. A small, practical, and even simple adjustment can make a huge impact on any experience. By impacting the experience, you can’t help but impact the memories, too.

Are your routines or traditions in need of any adjustments this Christmas? It’s okay if your reality doesn’t line up with your expectations. Maybe it’s not your tree trimming; it’s the feast, or the Christmas card, or *enter your stressor here*. God knows your hopes, and he also knows your limits. He knows your shortcomings and your strengths. If what you’re doing isn’t full of joy…love…that’s not Jesus. Wanting something magical…dreaming of peaceful, beautiful outcomes…God is in those hopes, but the forcing part – that’s all us.

He knows you. Let Him show you how well. Quiet yourself today – or any day that you find yourself faced with discouragement or disappointment – and ask Him, “Lord, what do you see? How can this be different? Be better? How can this honor my family and glorify You?”

I believe that, sometimes, He will show you a solution, an easy fix, an adjustment… Other times, He may give your heart the green light to just eliminate it altogether…

And that is okay, friend.

Today and every day, let’s build our homes, not tear them down. Know your triggers, and then ask Jesus what it is He wants you to do with them.

xo,

Kristi

know

Klover House Christmas:

I love making lists. I’m kind of old-fashioned that way. So today, as they come to me, I am going to jot down those holiday family traditions that I love and look forward to year after year. As I go about my tasks today, I will let my wandering thoughts find purpose, and I will wander there – to that list. What can I adjust? What can I eliminate? Even if it’s just for a season, what just isn’t working for us right now? Is there something that I have been wanting to implement, but just never took the time to actually consider it? Our schedules don’t have to be packed to be impactful. Our days don’t have to be full of doing, but they can be full of being. So, today, I am going to be and not do. Today, I am going to ask my husband and my kids what they love most about our usual Christmas activities and really take their responses to heart. Many of you have Bucket Lists, I’m sure. I’ve been wanting to jump on that train for years! But, the more I think about it now, the more I know that my Holiday Bucket List wouldn’t need to be 25 days long… My Bucket List would most-likely be a five-liner, and that is nothing to feel pitiful over. Knowing what you want is great, but more importantly, let Him reveal what it is that you need.

Simply Noel: December 1 – Put on Hope

 

Welcome, Friend!

Since today is our first day together, I’d like to take a moment to explain the format of the entries you’ll find each day (December 1 – January 6). The devotion will be at the beginning, and then, you will see an image with a scripture that correlates with the message. Beneath the image, you will find the section I will be calling “Klover House Christmas”. This is where I will share something tangible for us to take away from the message that I believe God has placed on my heart. It may be a recipe, an activity, or it may be a simple prayer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining in. I’m so glad to have you along on this special journey.

Simply Noel: A Holiday Devotional

December 1st – Put on Hope

As I prayed to God today, “Where do I start Lord? What do I even say?,” I felt a light bulb go off in my spirit. And not the “Ah-Ha!” kind, but rather, the soft, small kind of light bulb, like the ones you see in every other window at Christmastime. Those little candlelights. I love the way they sit there – so simply, their light so gentle and steady, yet noninvasive to our gaze… Peaceful. I had a peaceful light bulb moment delivered in a single word:

Hope.

Hope is what is going to get us through, friends. It may surprise you that I would say such a thing on the very first day of this devotional, but it’s true. No matter our holiday plans, be they spontaneous or perfectly plotted out, no matter our intentions…if the Spirit is not in Christmas, our labor will be in vain, our activities will feel empty, and our hearts will become quickly exhausted. The flame inside of us may smolder before it’s even been given a chance to shine.

As we decorated our tree this year, all of my perfect plans dangled in front of me in complete disarray. Broken glass… busted ornaments… bickering children…whiny toddlers… mess after mess after mess…

At one point I broke down and asked myself out loud, “What are we doing wrong?! Why can’t we even have fun doing the fun stuff?!” And that answer came quickly to my heart.

It doesn’t matter what you do. If the Spirit is not in it… If the Spirit is not in YOU… even the most enjoyable thing will lack the joy due to it.

I could’ve thrown in the towel. Said things to myself like, “Christmas is over before it even stood a chance! I blew it. This didn’t go how it was supposed to go…”

But I have Hope.

So here’s what we are going to do, friend. We are going to put on Hope today and everyday this holiday season. Like an apron, we are going to gently drape it around our necks. We are going to tie it snugly around our waists. We are going to tuck our plans and desires deep into its pockets, and we are going to let it catch the mess that bubbles up and splatters on us out of nowhere. We are going to pull this wonderful time called Christmas off with some amazing gifts called Faith, Hope, and Love. And today – everyday – we’re going to start with Hope.

Do me a favor. Place your hand over your heart. This is your faith in action, friend. No matter what you are going through, no matter what today has in store, take a moment with me and place your hand on your heart. Do you feel that heartbeat? You have a big, beating, loving heart. I know that, because you’re here, wanting to grow it and make the most of this season. I think that speaks volumes about you. So with your hand over your heart, say these three simple words: “I have Hope.”

Put on your Hope today, friend. It only gets better from here.

xoxo,

Kristi

hope

Klover House Christmas:

Today, let’s keep life simple. Wish your loved ones a happy first day of December. A new month, like each new morning, is a fresh start. If you have little ones, I’m sure they’ve been waiting eagerly for this month to come. Break out the Advent Calendars, if you have/do them, and just take a few minutes talking with the people you love most.  Reflect on last year.  Maybe you’re missing someone, and you’re feeling a pang of sadness. Maybe things were messy and disappointing far too often, and you can’t seem to remember a peaceful moment from this time a year ago. Maybe you are just as giddy as a child, and you can’t wait to repeat the joyful festivities… Whatever you’re remembering – whatever emotions are evoked…remember your Hope, and share that with someone today. For me it may look like this, “Kids, I’m so excited for Christmastime. I love the joy that it brings to you and to our home. My hope for this year is that we spend each day loving each other well. What are some things that you are hoping?” And it may be a Santa Wishlist that you get in return, but hey, at least you are sharing about hope, and you are putting your own hopes out into the atmosphere, and that is a powerful thing. God’s word doesn’t return void, and I believe that when you speak life-giving, hope-giving words they won’t return void, either. xo

Klover House Christmas: A Holiday Devotional

Good morning, friends! Tomorrow is a BIG day! Not only is my firstborn turning 7 (cue the tears!), but I’m kicking off something I have been dreaming of for a long time…

The first Klover House Christmas Holiday Devotional!

 

Christmas

Overwhelmed? Tired? Distracted?

Are you tired of running yourself ragged each holiday season, only to have it come and go before you even blink?!

Are you tired of rushing around, never getting a chance to really enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in all of its beauty?

Do you long to love and honor Christ during this precious season that is centered on His very existence, but find yourself distracted by and drowning in the pressures of commercialism?

Do you hope more than anything that the people you love will know and feel your love, but not because of what you can buy, but because of what you can GIVE of your HEART?

Do you want to leave a Christmas legacy that stands for generations and shapes the seasons for many years to come?

Me too!

Do you think it sounds impossible?
It’s not.

We can do this together, friends. We can transform these holiest of days, and we can reform and reshape our families’ expectations and, most importantly, our own. We can widdle Christmas down to “Simply Noel.”

Please, join me on this special journey.

All you need to do is subscribe by placing your e-mail in the box found on the right sidebar that reads “Connect with Klover House!” It’s that simple!

And as a bonus gift to my subscribers, I will offer the complete devotional in e-book form to you at zero cost. You will have each entry, along with all of the recipes, activities, anything and everything I share in one, easy-to-find place, so that you can use it for years to come.

I love and appreciate you, friends. I have high hopes for our holiday, and I have BIG faith that God is going to meet us each morning and carry us tenderly through each day. See you here tomorrow!

xoxo,
Kristi

Stop Watering Dead Plants

Strange title for my first post back, huh? To be honest, though, it’s all I could tell myself today – “Stop watering dead plants, Kristi. Stop wasting the water.”

I have a black thumb. It’s a running joke in our house. My husband, especially, loves to tease me any time I beg for new greenery. How long will it live this time? The joke gets old, but I buy them anyway, and I kill them every time. I under water, over water…it doesn’t seem to matter. Even when I’m obsessing over it, they fade and I water them into oblivion.

Finally, when the thing is brown and shriveled or moldy and limp, far, far, far from anything resembling life, I succumb to my failure and throw it away.

Stop watering dead plants, Kristi.

plants

It made so much sense today, and now, I have a story to tell…

The Forbidden Subject

First of all, I need to start off with this: I find it so difficult to write about friendship. Our town is small, and everyone either knows you, has heard of you, or knows someone that knows you fairly well. As a writer, that can become a bit tricky. People will happily digest your marital testimonies and parenting flubberies all day long, but talk about friendship, and all of a sudden, everyone inevitably wonders to whom you were referring. They’ll try to guess, you’ll get a few text messages from people asking if “we’re ok”, you feel awkwardness from a few others, because it’s clear they suspect you were talking about them… even though you weren’t, and so you just decide that relationships aren’t worth writing about and you’ll stuff it all away. But guess what, who is that good for? Me? You? Them? Our children?

Jesus could have spared Judas from the truth, but he didn’t. He could have played dumb under the guise of grace. And he could have been cruel about the reality of a false friendship, but he wasn’t. Jesus just walked the line of truth without mockery, placing blame, humiliating or hurting another. He did something else, too, though. He showed us how to walk through it with our dignity intact. Betrayal. Denial. Disappointment. Judas. Peter. The Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was faced with probably every type of relationship trouble he knew we’d encounter here. He knew, firsthand, what it felt like to look someone right in the eye, reveal his heart, only to watch them decide he wasn’t worth it.

I won’t name names. There are no names to tell. I won’t disclose examples, because they are tucked in my heart for the Lord to sort and mend, but I will tell you that I have been there. I’ve been through the trenches of friendship. I have faced betrayal, mockery, shunning, and the despair that comes when you are cut from the lives of others without so much as a “why”. I have heard the, “I’m never on Facebook,” and had to watch those same people interact daily with mutual friends on that very platform.  I have noticed interaction with people I long-trusted and cared for dwindle to nothing, all while telling myself it’s just a wonky algorithm change, when I know I’ve been unfollowed for just being myself. I have been the “uninvited one.” I have reached out, more times than I can count, only to hear crickets in return… I have had to swallow my pride so much that I no longer choke on it, and I have gone to bed many nights wondering what I had done to cause a relationship to take a u-turn.

I have allowed those hurts and insecurities to ROB me. Let me repeat that. I have allowed those hurts and my own insecurities to ROB me. They ROB me of my time with my family, because I am not mentally present with them when my thoughts are somewhere else. I have allowed those times to ROB me of my joy and even my sanity. They say that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Well, offense is the thief of peace, hurt is the thief of sanity, and resentment is the thief of health.

No more.

A Friend Loves at All Times

Proverbs 17:17.

All times.

Not just on Tuesday. Not just Christmastime. Not just at church. Not just in front of other people. Not just when your kids are in the same activities together. Not just when they need you to volunteer for something. Not just when they want to sell you something. Not just when you’re throwing a party. Not just when… Are you hearing me? A friend loves at ALL times.

There are friends in my life that I go months without speaking to because of time and space, but I know that I know that I know that if I picked up the phone tomorrow, they would answer with a smile. That, my friend, is a friend. If you have even ONE of those people in your life…thank Jesus. Seriously. They are rare, even as grown men and women. Be thankful for them. And things haven’t always been comfortable or pretty with them, but they’ve been REAL and honest and lasting.

I have had yo-yo friendships in my adult life, and they are so, so draining. You know the ones I’m talking about… They reel you in with a text, a compliment, an invitation to a get-together, they keep you feeling secure just long enough, you spill your beans and allow them precious space in your heart, only for them toss you back into the water gasping for air and feeling disoriented. They are your best bud and look right through you a week later. Vapor. That’s what it feels like. You are vapor. Meaningless. Unimportant. And all those precious nuggets of yourself that you so freely gave, now daggers in your heart. The record of, “You must have been a boring friend… You did something wrong… You must have said something offensive… Maybe they didn’t like this or that…” starts playing in your mind, and you give away mental space that wasn’t free for the taking. Heart space that is needed for your family. And you stand there, staring at that dying plant, and you water, and water, and water anyway. Why are you watering? Stop it.

Stop Watering

I read a little about how NOT to kill houseplants, because I’m so talented at NOT keeping them alive. One of the tests you can do to see if there is hope for your plants is to scratch it…bend it a bit. A plant that still has hope will show signs of life beneath…a little green. It will be flexible and bend, not snap on you… Sometimes, a plant is dying on the surface, so you prune it back, down to the place where it’s still viable… You prune and you wait for rejuvenation.

So maybe you “scratch” at the relationship… “Are we ok? I feel like there’s an awkwardness between us…” You apply a bit of that pressure to see if they bend or snap… And if all seems lost on the surface, you cut the relationship back down to it’s root, in hopes that it can eventually regrow, stronger and healthier than it was before. You get over the fact that it won’t be blooming any time soon, and you focus on the foundation.

But sometimes, beneath the scratching and pruning, you find nothing. No signs of life, no depth – just brittle, dry, flaky nothing. It’s dead. And if it’s dead…stop watering it. Quit giving it space in your home. Quit wasting your time and resources. Some plants are good for a time, a season. Some will last forever through brutal temperatures, darkness, and drought. Those are the plants I want to hang onto, and by “plants,” you know I mean “people,” right? Those are my people. My tribe. The faithful ones… The hearty ones… The ones that can take root and sustain themselves through all of life’s circumstances and bloom for you, even when you barely water them…

Re-pot and Refocus

You can feel the pang of disappointment, but do yourself a favor, and let that pang be brief. Empty the pot, and fill it back up with a plant that is alive and healthy. Am I making any sense? There are probably already people in your life practically begging for your time and attention. Even when your morning just plain sucks, show up at that playdate in your pajamas. Make your neighbors soup when you hear they are sick – they might become your closest friends. Send a fellow mom a random note of appreciation once a year – it might be the only affirmation she’s gotten in awhile. Other plants need water. Sometimes those plants are the people living under your own roof. Quit obsessing over the ones you couldn’t keep alive despite your best efforts, fanciest pots, filtered water, and the perfect amounts of sunlight.

I’m not saying, “Just give up on everyone.” Jesus didn’t give up on Judas. Didn’t forsake Peter. Didn’t even kick the disciples out of the garden. He remained true to himself, the Father, and his purpose. He loved at all times, but no where have I read, “He pulled Judas aside and asked him to explain himself, and then when he knew Judas didn’t really love or believe in him, he begged him to change his mind. He offered the argument that he was a friend worth keeping, and gave him the best seat in the house. He pleaded with the Father for an intervention, and when that didn’t work, he decided to just cast the devil out of Judas anyway and force his devotion.”

Nope. Jesus drew him in, disclosed the most intimate details of who he was, washed his betrayer’s feet, spoke the truth plainly, and when Judas still didn’t turn his heart towards Jesus, Jesus let him go… No weeping, no persuasion, no manipulation, no self-doubt or feelings of utter failure in the friendship department. He loved through it, and then, let him go.

Pints and Gallons

A good friend once gave me the analogy regarding relationships, and I have found it to be very true in my own experience. She said, “There are gallon-size people, and there are pint-size people. No matter how hard they try, or how hard you want them to, pint-size people will never have the capacity to fill you up.”

gallon

Are you a gallon or a pint?

I’m a gallon. And I don’t say that to brag or place myself on a pedestal, but I know who I am. I know my tendencies. I will fill you up all day long…with affirmation, meals, gifts, coffee, my time… I give it away. I don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon…if you live 7 minutes away or 70 minutes away… I will be there if you need me. I often exhaust myself fretting over the needs of others, and I often bleed my hubby’s wallet dry, because time and money are nothing for me to give. But the honest truth is, even gallon people need a source of refill. You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? And that’s where I have had to learn these hard lessons and look deep within. I’ve had to have some hard, critical conversations with myself, and I have had to rely on Jesus more in the past five years than ever before.

Abiding in Him

I’ve had to learn to ABIDE.

I am the vine and you are the branches… (John 15:5)

He is the one and only plant in my life that will NEVER die. And the ONLY water source that sustains me so that I can be that plant that doesn’t die on the people in my life either. And if you are a gallon person, He is the ONLY way to be full again after you’ve spent the day, the month, the last five years watering everyone else around you.

Want a friend?

BE a friend.

And if you’re standing there, obsessing over dead plants in your life…test them…prune them back down to their roots…and if the life has truly left, give your water to someone else. xo

 

 

 

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.

blessings 3d

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!