Simply Noel: December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Simply Noel:

December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Part of why I decided to start this devotional was simply because the “muchness” of Christmas had gotten to be too much. Between the pressures of normal life and the added stress of the holiday to-do lists, I was mentally bursting at the seams before Thanksgiving even came to pass. I knew in my soul that it was all too much. So, I sat down one night and the words just came to me:

A holiday devotional for the heart that longs for less, so life can be more.

Isn’t that something we could all use? Less? Less of the stress, the constant running, the feelings of inadequacy, the countless distractions…? Our lives are usually full and crowded, and then we are suddenly drowning in packages, bills, lists, and obligations. Add in normal housework, schedules, and responsibilities to that added muchness, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for contempt, guilt, and regret come December 26th.

Awhile back, I began following a funny and honest mom, Allie Casazza, on Instagram. I fell for her delivery of truth so quickly that I soon became a subscriber to her blog. I looked forward to her advice to find its way to my inbox. I then started signing up for her free webinars and would occasionally catch her on LIVE videos. You wanna know know what she told me? I have enough time – I own time, not the other way around, and that letting go of all the clutter in my home would actually make me a better mother and wife. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you know what? She was right, and I’m only halfway through our home.

So much of my stress comes from the house and its contents. How much of your day is consumed by the needs around you in the form of housework or meal prepping/making and other mundane tasks? Wouldn’t you love to love on your kids more often than you nag them to clean up those seven piles of toys? Wouldn’t it be nice to save those extra ten minutes wasted looking for that elusive piece of mail, because you have a simple system in place? Wouldn’t it be nothing short of a miracle to be caught up on laundry?

Maybe your trouble areas have nothing to do with the ones that I mentioned, but I bet we all have clutter somewhere in some form. It’s time to let it go and bless it as it travels out the door…

Whittle it down, friend. We don’t need all of this stuff, only so that we can pile more stuff on top of it in two weeks. Less is more. Less gives us room for more and to be more. Less gives us more time, and especially at Christmas, more time is more precious than gold.

Give freely and enrich your life. Bring blessing to others by letting go and be refreshed by His Spirit. Trust in Him, value what Heaven values and watch your life flourish.

xo,

Kristi

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Klover House Christmas:

Tomorrow, our schedule is pretty free, and I already have several bags and large items waiting in the basement, so I am going to make a final trip to our local mission, and, then I’ll take a walk around the house and do a quick sweep. If you haven’t even started de-cluttering, don’t become overwhelmed. Simply, take a box or bag and walk around, room by room, and remove any items that catch your eye. Mail piles? Just pitch them. Are you really going to use all of those coupons? Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to order something from those sixteen magazines? No? Pitch ’em. If taking items to a local mission seems like an added stress to your day, due to schedules already full of errands, call or arrange a pick-up online! I did this with the local Salvation Army. There are many donation centers that will gladly bring a truck to your doorstep and load it all up for you. In some cases, you don’t even need to be home!

God tells us that earthly possessions pass away. Our treasures are stored in heaven. You won’t be able to take a single thing with you, so let it go. Bless others with your earthly treasures, and commit to a life of less. Less stuff translates to more money and more time to spend on that which is far more valuable.

 

::December 5::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 7::

Simply Noel: December 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

Simply Noel:

Day 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

As I was looking over our holiday calendar today, feeling overwhelmed, I caught myself doing something so predictable, and I realized just how important perspective is at Christmastime.

Last week, I was consumed with my firstborn’s birthday activities. This week, we have the girls’ holiday programs, doctor appointments, and the Christmas Shoppe at school. Next week, we have more birthday parties, Christmas gatherings, and special events. The third week holds a spot for our annual Christmas-Before-Christmas with my husband’s side of the family. Then, BAM! Christmas-Christmas is upon us in all of its glorious splendor. Somewhere in there, we have church activities and family bucket list items to tackle, too, but I haven’t gotten myself that organized yet to know where they fall on the calendar.

As I was looking at each week, I found myself using certain events as milestones and had to stop myself. If I keep doing that – looking so far ahead and just focusing on the main events of each week, then the rest of the days of month will simply look like non-essential filler days. Do you do that, too? It’s like I have a dozen days that are highlighted and “special”, but it automatically makes the rest of the days look kind of gray.

God has given us twenty-four gifts a day. Twenty-four hours in which to live, not just fill up time and space, but to live! It’s time to stop living on the special days and for the special days only. If we keep seeing the rest of our days as merely days leading up to x,y,z, then, we unknowingly forfeit them. Time is precious. Even if one hour of the day is spent reading stories and snuggling, let’s make sure that we give it the same mental space as that holiday party prep. I have a feeling that when eternity knocks on my door, I will be more grateful for the cuddles than the cocktails, and I personally don’t want to have regrets when it comes to feeling like my days are squandered.

Each day is a main event. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “business as usual” day, a birthday, a cookie baking day, a shopping day, a driving around in pjs to see lights day, or an ordering pizza and catching up on DVR shows day… Let’s practice having a new Christmas perspective everyday, starting today.

xo,

Kristi

perspective

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight I plan on revisiting that calendar that had me all worked up this morning. It occurred to me that I spend a little chunk of time twice a month meal-planning for my family. I then spend another chunk prepping food ahead for an easier time when dinner rolls around. I also feel more prepared and efficient when I grocery shop, because I take this time in preparation seriously. So, why not put a little extra effort into prepping ahead for a very busy month? Are there things that I can group together, like errands or meals, that will inevitably make life easier in a couple of weeks? Any days that look really good for a final shopping trip? What about a coffee date with a friend? Is there a day that looks convenient for that?

Yes, I want to have an easier and less busy month, but if I don’t prep and plan carefully and intentionally, even the least busy day can be quickly wasted.

Lord, help us to plan wisely and make the most of each day. Help us to be quick-thinking, slow-speaking, and easy-going. Father, guide us with your Spirit, so that each day is fully lived. Let even the days that seem insignificant feel like days well-spent. Help us to shift our perspectives, so that we don’t just profess that each day is a gift, but so that we truly feel and see each day as a gift – each hour as a gift. And lastly, please give us the wisdom and grace to make the most of our time, so that our families are blessed and we ourselves are less stressed and stretched this holiday season. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

 

::December 4::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 6::

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. He comes for His beloved, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills.

He’s coming to you with a message of hope – “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.” -Song of Solomon 2:10-13

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 in the air on 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

 

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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.

 

::December 3::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 5::

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

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 ours.

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.

 

::December 2::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 4::

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.

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

 

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.

 

::December 1::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 3::

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 the season. 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: 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. 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

 

::Seeking Simple::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 2::

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

When Writer’s Block Reveals a Stumbling Block…

An Easy Confession

Recently, my neighbor had joined us by the fire in our backyard.

(I love my neighbors. I feel that they genuinely like me and our family. Our street is this little slice of neighbor-heaven. It’s a judge-free, watch each other’s kids and bake each other keto-friendly strawberry pies kind of place. I’m one blessed girl. So, now that you have the backstory, you’ll understand why I can so freely share my heart with them. )

As we sat by the fire, our kids running around in the adjacent yards, torturing lightning bugs (aka fireflies), she asked if I was still writing, mentioning that she hadn’t seen anything shared on Facebook lately. Without hesitation, I admitted, “Not really. There are people in our town that don’t like me, and, honestly, I don’t want them reading it.”

The confession came so easily, and I can tell you from my heart of hearts that I was being 100% truthful in that moment.

In the Beginning

I realized eight years ago when I started this blog (formerly called “Ava & Isla”) that my posts wouldn’t always be liked, or praised, or even read. I understood that strangers from all across the globe would have instant access to the inner workings of our home, my life, and my brain. I accepted my destiny as a “writer”, because it was a passion I knew would never subside. I love writing. Oddly, I was never a diary-keeper, and I rarely wrote letters. Even as a Christian in my teens, it pained me to journal my thoughts to the Lord. But, the words were always in my heart, churning around in my soul, and when blogging became a known “thing” to me, I couldn’t imagine my life without this outlet. I still can’t. It’s a part of me. It’s become a huge part of my story.

I’ve said it before, when I started out, my intended audience was small – God and my four daughters. I wrote frequently for EJ, too, because in some way, I feel like my words here are like prayers at times, and by typing them out, I often imagine them traveling to Heaven in whispers. If it’s out here – really out here – then surely, EJ feels it and knows me better for it.

I’ll never forget the first time a woman reached out to me via email, thanking me for a post I had written. I couldn’t wait to show my husband. I swelled with such thankfulness. Each of her words was worth a thousand hugs from Jesus Himself to me. I knew then that if I could reach just one person with my transparency here, it was worth the late nights, the vulnerability, the risks… I wrote about my kids, my family and home, my illness, pregnancies, marriage, faith, and miscarriage with very little restraint. I held myself to a few very simple, yet vital, standards: honor my husband and kids with my words, respect their privacy as well as my own, remain honest and real, and write as if each post would be handed to Jesus in person for review and approval.

I’m sure I’ve failed along the way, but I have tried to cling to those standards. I am so proud of this space and the good it has done in my life. I’m so thankful for the people that take time from their already busy days to read what I write. I’m so humbled that I have even the slightest following. And I look forward to the future with excitement, because I know that this place is still just an early chapter in the bigger story I’m written into.

Shutting Down and Shutting Out

All that to say…I haven’t been here consistently for a long time by choice. I want to be here, but I took out a lock and key of sorts last year and must have subconsciously made the decision to shut everyone out.

You may know from some past posts that I have struggled with relationships. I am the type of friend who finds a select few people that I want to form sisterlike connections with and give it 100%. For the most part, I consider myself liked and respected, but in every bushel, you’ll inevitably get a bad apple or two. I’ve had my share of bad apples, and they’ve deeply affected my writing.

I don’t know about you, but if someone literally lives on social media but can’t hit the “Like” button when it’s a sweet pic of your kiddo or an updated profile pic, they should probably refrain from cyber-stalking, -bullying, gossiping, and trolling. and they most definitely are not a friend.

I always remained cautious of the strangers on the internet, but sadly, it’s been people within my community and even close circles at times that have been behind every memory of heartache associated with this blog. Texts suggesting that I dishonored my child by revealing that one is officially a professional fit-thrower and has caused me to stretch and grow every last parenting muscle in my being… calls late at night from people who have no active role in my life advising I take down posts… fellow Christian sisters spreading gossip like poison, as if my personal life was their tabloid… people who don’t give us the time of day contacting my husband at work to check on the state of our marriage… combative private messages, so no one can publicly see the daggers thrown… sitting silently in a room with people I wrote posts for, smiling as they sang the praises of the writers in the room, calling them by name, until they reached my chair…

These are the extremely watered-down realities that we’ve dealt with over the years, and it’s been a real struggle to continue to click that “New Post” button as time has trickled on. The more and more I deal with, the further and further my desire to write floats away from me.

When Writer’s Block Reveals a Stumbling Block

As I sat by the fire and admitted that to my neighbor, my friend, I realized the power that I had given to those few people and the power I had given to my pride. My writer’s block has been an act of defiance. It’s been as though I walked up to them and spilled my ink at their feet, saying, “No more. You no longer have access to my life, my heart, my family. No longer will I share with you the treasures the Lord is teaching me. You can’t have access to my dreams and hopes. You can’t even have access to recipes, for the love. I’m not giving you anything anymore, because you can’t be trusted with it and you certainly don’t value it.”

And, as He always does, Holy Spirit revealed the pride in that hurt and ugliness. If this blog truly is for Him and my girls, then why should it matter what they think of me and what I have to say?

I read a Bill Johnson quote today on a friend’s Insta Story, and it really hit home.

Your future is on the other side of a battle, your destiny is on the other side of the conflict and the only way to win the conflict is by using what God has said over your life.

Amen.

I know what He has said over my life, and it’s so good. It’s better than I deserve, tenfold. Nonetheless, He said it, and I believe it.

Jeremiah 29:11 is not a lie… He does have good plans for us. He plans to prosper us and give us a hope and a future. I’ve heard what He wants to do with little ole’ me, and, even though I don’t see how, I say, “Yes.”

Fresh Start and New Ink

My husband came to me about a month ago and made me a promise. He said that he believes in me. He sees what I am capable of in Christ, and he made the choice to get behind me as a writer and entrepreneur. One of my greatest weaknesses is understanding the technical stuff. (That’s his jam as a former IT Project Manager and now Project Manager in the marketing department of a major global company.) He’s so intelligent and just wired to understand all of the things that confuse the Nutella out of me. He has been researching blog terms, ebook ins and outs, best practices, etc. and has asked on multiple occasions why I haven’t invested any time into the goals set before us. I knew it wasn’t laziness or disinterest, but the motivation was missing. It was the crippling thorn of pride in my side. Every time I’d set out to write, I’d see those faces like scar tissue that had formed over my heart. Their faces overshadowed the faces of those four little girls I love and for whom I write.

Well, no more.

I’m back. I’m writing for them again. I’m writing for my husband, who is committed to helping me. I’m writing for my dad, who takes every opportunity to tell me how happy it makes him to read my posts. I’m writing for my neighbors, who enjoy getting to know this crazy homeschooling mom of four blondies (who often run shamelessly pantsless through the backyard). I’m writing for that exhausted mother of a strong-willed child who thinks that she’s the only one negotiating through multiple tantrums a day. I’m writing for that wife who wants to prepare a healthy meal and learn how to meal plan, so dinner isn’t a daunting task. I’m writing for the many who suffered miscarriages and need a woman who has walked through the muck and come out with the silver lining called hope. I’m writing for myself, because it’s a gift and an honor to be able to share so freely here. I’m writing for my God, because I believe it’s part of the story He’s planned for me, and to give it up would be such a poor choice on my part.

I’m writing for you, because you are here, and I no longer care as to why you are here. You may be here by accident. You may be here by choice. You may be my friend. You may be my foe. It doesn’t matter. You’re here, and I’ve promised to tell you the truth. I’ve chosen to give you the real-deal. And in return, you gave me a few minutes of your precious time, so thank you for that. I’m staring this conflict right in this face, and I’m so glad you’ll be there when I’m standing on the other side of the battle, victorious and able to write again.

writer

Be blessed.

xo,

Kristi

God Loves Mothers

Happy Mother’s Day, friends! It’s been awhile since I’ve written, but this truth was revealed to me exactly a year ago, and I want to share it with you.

God loves mothers.

I know what you’re thinking – duh, right? God loves everyone. Of course He does. But, sometimes, I think mothers (women in general) struggle with their worth in a “man’s world”. But, isn’t it encouraging that the ultimate Father of all creation has so much respect towards women? Towards mothers? The Savior himself came to us as a vulnerable babe through the womb of a woman. God could have descended anyway imaginable, and yet He came the way that He did.

All through the Old Testament and New we see God using women, using mothers, to further His kingdom and purposes on the earth. Simply read the Song of Solomon, and you will be enraptured with the way God sees women. We are treasured, worthy of honor and kindness. We are strong and respected, yet treated as tender daughters.

As I was preparing a brief word for the mothers of my church last year, I was sort of fretting over what I should say. My then seven year old daughter read a passage to me in the car the day before, and it was a true lightbulb moment.

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head
And ornaments about your neck.

It was Proverbs 1:8-9. She exclaimed, “Mom! That’s a great Mother’s Day scripture!” I thought about it for just a moment and saw it so clearly. “And do not forsake your mother’s teaching…”

In this world in which women are often looked upon as “emotional”, “sensitive,” “dramatic”… insert whatever not-so-wise description here… Isn’t it a glorious pleasure to realize that the God of heaven and earth is advising every son and daughter within the opening chapter of the very book of wisdom, Proverbs, to never forsake the teachings of his/her mother?

That is a BIG deal, friends. Are you getting it?

YOU are a BIG deal in the eyes of God. Your words pour out like honey over your children. They will become as jewels around their necks – an inheritance of valuable treasures that they will carry with them all of the days of their lives. Your teachings will be a crown, a graceful wreath, worn upon their heads. You will shape their thinking. Later in Proverbs we read, “So as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Your words develop your children’s thought life and that thought life feeds into their identity.

Moms, you are a BIG deal.

I don’t say these things to scare you or overcome you with guilt if yesterday your words weren’t so honey-like. Mine aren’t either some days. I tell you this to excite you, to encourage you and build you up. As a [woman] thinketh in [her] heart, so is [she]… and I want nothing more this Mother’s Day than to remind you of how special you are in God’s eyes.

You are important. You please Him. He TRUSTS you. He’s entrusted you with His children, because He knows that you have everything you need to raise them well. You have His grace, mercy, compassion, intuition, discernment, strength, kindness, joy, perseverance, and wisdom. Why else would He tell His beloved to hang on your teachings? He knows that what you have to offer, to instill in, your children is of such importance that it was recorded in His eternal Word.

The days are hard and long. The years are fleeting and leave us longing for a thousand re-dos, but take heart. You have everything you need to mother well, because you have a front row seat at His feet. And when you sit with Him at the end of a hard day, or at the beginning of a new week, know that He sees you, He loves you, and He is for you. My goodness, is He for you in this motherhood journey.

Happy Mother’s Day, sisters. Take this day to enjoy your children and loved ones. Straighten your crowns – those crowns and wreaths put there by the mothers in your own lives. Honor them by holding their teachings closer to your hearts today than yesterday. And lastly, take a deep breath and smile knowing how you are seen in the eyes of God.

xo,

Kristi

Contending for Your Promises

Nothing New Under the Sun

“There’s nothing new under the sun.”

How many times do you think you’ve heard that phrase in your lifetime thus far – or even said it to yourself as a means of encouragement during a rough patch?

I know I have. If you are a “creative”, you probably can relate.

Back when I accepted Jesus as my Savior I was 18 years old. It was a tumultuous time in my life, to say the least. I was looking for answers. I was in need of a Heavenly Father, and when I felt as low as I could feel, He scooped me and my messed up life into His arms, and He hasn’t put me down since.

I’ve walked nearly 20 years with Him, and, while I am thankful for each day and wouldn’t change anything in my story, I can honestly tell you that it has rarely matched up with my expectations. The hard parts have been hard, and the good parts have been beautiful and far beyond what I ever dreamed I could deserve. Either way, it’s all beyond anything I could have anticipated. Isn’t that life? We learn very quickly that it twists and turns, and you have to take it all in stride with gratitude and grit… with humility and grace…

We, as Christians, take Him by the hand and say, “Lead me, Lord. I will go,” and we go. One foot in front of the other, we walk out the gift of our days alongside the gifts that are our people, and we learn to trust Him, regardless of expectations.

So, I did that as an 18 year old. I took His hand and I went. I went to a Bible college located 17 hours away from my little town. I chased revival, because I wanted to be in His presence. I had just met my Heavenly Father for the first time, it seemed, and I wanted nothing more than to saturate my life with His presence and whatever else He had in store for me.

It was during that time in that wonderful place that I began to dream and seek direction for my life. I would have literal dreams at night of myself speaking to small crowds of women about life, about trust, about perseverance… I was older in my dreams but not much older than I am now. It was as if I saw my future self and was a member of my own audience – able to appreciate the wisdom that I had gained over the years of walking hand-in-hand with my Lord, and that excited me.

Those dreams have carried me a long way. I have had the sweet pleasure of experiencing confirmation of His promises in other ways since – through prophetic words, during my quiet times with Him in prayer, through conversations with trusted friends and my husband, and random comments and e-mails from total strangers… I can see that He’s continually working in my life, and while I can’t fully see a finished picture, I know it’s progress.

The Creative

One thing that has been especially difficult for me over these years has been that little phrase I opened this post with – “There’s nothing new under the sun…” You see, in the blogging world, we tell ourselves that when another writer voices our ideas first. Often times, it’s genuine and serves as confirmation that we are on the same page with Holy Spirit. But I have learned through honest conversation with others in my field that some bloggers have a practice of scanning posts and content for ideas and then writing about them. They watch trends and topics. They have their feelers out 24/7, and they can work the business like straight up geniuses. Unfortunately for me and my bank account (lol), I write what’s on my heart, when it’s on my heart, and it hasn’t paid the bills quite yet. But I can’t do it any other way. And so, in the past when my ideas have been found elsewhere, I have given myself that dose of “well, there’s nothing new” and move on.

The same thing has happened with some pretty serious life goals and dreams. I have confided in people in the past about my heart for women’s ministry and the boutique/cafe (which it’s not a huge secret) I dream to have one day, only to watch my dreams come to pass in their lives instead. That’s hard. Real hard. It is even harder when those same people knew my heart so well and it was if those conversations never even happened when their opportunities arose. There’s no magic phrase to help with those times, and I’ve learned through those hits that you lean into the Lord the hardest when you feel like the wind has been knocked out of your life’s sails.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

No Room At the Inn

During those times of disappointment and impatience with my story, I turn to my Father. I complained – a lot. I cried out to Him, “But Lord! This is MY dream for my life. These are the plans that YOU’VE put on my soul! How could they exclude me? How come it’s not my turn?” And I complained to Him like crazy. I’m sure if I could have seen His face, He would have been shaking His head at me.

And you know what He showed me?

“No room at the inn.”

And it all started to make sense.

Yes, I know that there was actually not an “inn”, like a motel of sorts. Joseph and Mary most-likely went to a relative’s home in Bethlehem to stay in the guest quarters, but for whatever reason had to remain outside or beneath the home…

But the point I knew that He was allowing me to see had everything to do with expectation.

Mary and Joseph came a long way, carrying a promise (Jesus). They trusted God and knew that whatever He said would be, would be. But I imagine that when they went to that home, Mary full of promise, literally, with Jesus very close to being born, they probably had expectations as to what the birth of their promise would look like. Perhaps their expectations looked a little like this:

1 – Inside and comfortable where they could feel secure and safe surrounded by familiarity.

But this was not the case. Their promise was delivered outside, alone, without any significant human audience or attention. Loneliness and vulnerability marked her greatest moments, but maybe that’s right where the Lord needs us – fully relying on Him and not man. Maybe outside of the inn, outside of our expectation, is where He has our complete attention and where we can see Him clearest.

2 – Met with excitement and acceptance.

Again, not the case. We don’t know if the rejection came with explanation and kindness or if it was callous, but we know that rejection hurts, even if is accompanied with a smile. When expectations are met with disappointment, it’s the perfect opportunity for the enemy to creep in with his lies. But, we don’t see that with Mary. Instead, we see a picture of a woman whose heart is fixed on God’s word and His promise to her. Regardless of the delivery and what her circumstances looked like, we are given a picture of peace and grace and favor. It’s a beautiful depiction of what it looks like to trust God no matter what the situation looks like at face value.

Contend For Your Promise Outside of the Inn

And this is when I knew that He was telling me that my promises weren’t going to be found in the inn. They aren’t going to fit any molds that my imagination has conjured. They may come to fruition in the cold and in the muck. They may come when I am vulnerable and feeling insecure. The opportunities may arise when I least expect them too and without a single nod of recognition.

But they’ll come. I’ve just got to hold His hand and keep walking. Keep trusting. Keep speaking into those promises, because He is faithful.

So, after that conversation with God, I resolved to contend for my promises outside of the inn. I know He will meet me there – outside in the lonely place, where I feel uneasy and exposed. I know He will find me faithfully awaiting Him in the stillness, in the open, standing in awe of His majesty and power. I know I will find Him where I least expect it. It may not look like I wanted it to; my dreams may not be fulfilled in the timing that I had anticipated, but it will be just as it should be. I only need to take my gaze off of the closed doors and turn around. Hand-in-hand, I will walk with Him to a lowly place of gratitude and servanthood and face the waiting with grit and grace, peace and perseverance, humility and hope.

Contend for your promises outside of the inns in your life, friends. Just because things may not look as you thought they would doesn’t make God any less faithful. He is always faithful and His words are true.

xo,

Kristi