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

Simply Noel: January 3 – A Life Adorned

Simply Noel:

January 3 – A Life Adorned

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

Adorn –

transitive verb

1:  to enhance the appearance of especially with beautiful objects

2:  to enliven or decorate as if with ornaments

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

The thought stopped me in my tracks.

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

All of it – intentional.

All of it – for them, for us.

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

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

adorned

Klover House Christmas:

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

 

::January 2::    ::Back to the Top::    ::January 4::

Simply Noel: January 1 – His Joy in the Wine

Simply Noel:

January 1 – His Joy in the Wine

His joy is in the wine…

I’m not a drinker. I confess, I have been a little envious at times of some of my devout Christian friends who enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. I realize there are health benefits, and so I’m not opposed to sipping a fine wine with a good meal. But… I. Just. Can’t. I choke it down every time.

So, I am writing this today, not as a knowledgeable person when it comes to wine, but, rather, as a Christian who sees the miracle in the wine.

The account of Jesus’ first miracle has always intrigued me. Why a wedding? Why wine? Why does it seem as though Mary would ask him to perform a parlor trick of sorts in public? I’m sure there are very well-developed theories answering all of those questions, but I’m not a scholar. I am a busy mom to four little people, who loves Jesus and just wants to hear from Him everyday.

One Sunday, during worship, I received the most beautiful thoughts regarding the water turning into wine. I was thinking about communion and how Jesus took the cup (with the “fruit of the vine” Mark 14) and told the disciples that it was His blood, poured out for many.

I thought about the Wedding at Cana and how He most likely used water that was intended for ceremonial washing. This unclean water had miraculously turned into the best wine, out of view from the attendees and relatively in secret. His mother, disciples, and just a few servants were the only people witnessing the miracle taking place.

How fitting to show us a spiritual transformation taking place between a life-giving water that is intended to clean our physical bodies and sustain our lives to a spiritual drink that washes our soul clean and gives us eternal life? Many readers may take the Bible at face value, but I love it when imagery takes hold of my heart and He draws me closer to Him in that way.

I reread that passage over and over afterwards, and a second point caught my eye:

From John 2: 6-11 (Emphasis mine)

6Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

“So they took it.”

Yes, they were servants doing what servants do and following orders, but they were taking washing water to their boss, essentially, to present it as wine.

I believe it was an act of obedience, but maybe it was also an act of faith. They filled the washing pots themselves with water, and they knew what was in the pots. Jesus didn’t touch the water, speak to the water, or even stretch out His hands (as Moses did with the first plague when He turned the water of the Nile into blood). He simply gave the orders, and they listened.

Faith.

Doing what God tells you to do, simply because you are taking Him at His word.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

– Ephesians 2:8

Salvation is His gift to us, given out of grace, since we do not deserve it and can’t earn it. To receive it, we must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for us and rose again. That takes faith; we receive the miracle of salvation by exercising faith. Much like the servants, we walk to the water, and draw from it, and what we have in return for that faithful obedience is wine – His blood, poured out for many. His blood, that covers a multitude of sins and washes us white as snow, can only be ours if we trust Him.

He endured the cross for the “joy set before Him”; His blood was shed for the joy set before Him…

His joy is in the wine.

Will you drink of it today?

xo,

Kristi

wine

 

Klover House Christmas:

On the eighth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking…

I just love that song (it drives my hubby bonkers). The kids and I belt out “five gold rings” at the top of our lungs. It’s so much fun.

I’ve been reading about the supposed meanings behind each of the gifts in the song, and today, the eighth day, the lover presents the eight maids and they are said to represent the eight Beatitudes given by Christ on during the Sermon on the Mount.

We talk about the Fruits of the Spirit often in our home, but I don’t recall ever teaching the girls about the Beatitudes. I think it is worthwhile to study them for myself, print them out for the kids to see, and start talking with them about who the Lord calls “blessed.”

After all, when the angel Gabriel first addressed Mary in Luke, he referred to her as “highly favored” and “blessed” among women. Wouldn’t it be amazing to hear those words from God himself?

Matthew 5: 1-12

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Maybe, like me, you haven’t given much thought to sharing these in your home? I hope to *translate* them for my children in such a way that they can apply each to their lives, and, together, we will discover what it means to be “blessed.”

 

::December 31::    ::Back to the top::    ::January 2::

Simply Noel: December 28 – New Year, New Wardrobe

Simply Noel:

December 28 – New Year, New Wardrobe

Yesterday, we talked about walking in rest. Today is all about letting your Heavenly Father dress you for the day.

Sounds a little silly, right? But the Bible mentions clothing, being clothed, “putting on” and wearing a lot. Covering us is one of His many pleasures. From the time of the Fall of Adam and Eve, He has covered humanity. His blood shed covers a multitude of sins. He covers us beneath the shelter of His wings. He is a strong and mighty tower that we are told to run into. He hides us in the cleft of the rock. He cloaks us with righteousness. He provides armor to fight and defeat the enemy of our souls. His banner over us is Love.

He covers. He clothes. He provides.

Being clothed starts with knowing the truth of the Gospel and where you fit into that truth. Accepting that clothing takes living in the reality that Jesus first and foremost calls us to seek Him and spend time with Him. We’ve heard a thousand times that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Although, I’m sure many of us are doing just that nearly every day of our busy and rushed lives. That would be where supernatural grace comes in. Yes, He comes through for us and gives us the strength to make it day-by-day, but I don’t think that was His intention for His bride.

When you look at the infamous “Proverbs 31 Woman,” you see her doing amazing things. Whether she is real or just a metaphorical figure for us to learn from, we see a very real truth emphasized in her account: She has discovered the wisdom of taking care of herself so that she is a healthy, capable vessel. She meets the needs of others, is an entrepreneur as well as homemaker, and clearly walks in rest. “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future…” Anyone who can smile and laugh at the days ahead is surely clothed in peace and living from a place of rest. She knows her worth and exhibits self-respect. We don’t need to be earthly royals to live as daughters of the King; we only need know our identity as such.

You are a Child of God. He has given you a wardrobe of humility, righteousness, strength, and dignity. He says so in His Word. His salvation (the Gospel) is to be your joy and your garments are made of praise, compassion, kindness, patience, and gentleness.

So where do we find this supernatural closet?

At His feet, of course.

When I lean on Him, I find rest. When I look to Him, I find hope. When I give it all to Him, I find peace. When I take His hand, I find strength. When I listen to Him, I find truth. When I believe His truth, I find my identity. When I know who I am, I find dignity. When I am dignified, I am clothed well. When I am clothed in His fine garments of humility, compassion, kindness, joy, patience, gentleness, righteousness… I can live with boldness and confidence. When I am confident in whose I am, I can give myself fully to others, never fearing the pang of exhaustion or emptiness. And that comes back, full circle, to an actual relationship with Him.

Fill up your cup by spending time with the Father.

Allow Him to clothe you today.

Just as you select your shirt for the day, ask Him for the article you feel you need. If you are lacking peace, patience, kindness…whatever it is, ask Him for it. If you don’t know where to start, simply start with a simple and honest prayer:

“I’m looking for you, Lord. I’m here and I’m ready to know you as my Father and to feel Your peace in my life. Speak to me today in a way that You know I can understand. I will seek You until I find You. Amen.”

I know He is faithful, and His word is truth. He is a God of His promises, and His promise is that if we seek Him with all of our hearts, He will be found. His desire is to be found and to clothe you “in fine linens and purple.” You will lack no good thing and will be clothed in the most beautiful attributes, but it starts by seeking His heart.

xo,

Kristi

 

Klover House Christmas:

This morning, my eight-year-old asked if we could start collecting money for the homeless. I was pretty taken aback. Of course I said, “Yes!” It is a beautiful idea, and I want nothing more than to see my girls develop hearts of compassion. As I mentioned above, compassion is a garment from the Father and to see them already clothed in that attribute… May I never disregard those requests.

So, today, I plan on sitting down for about ten minutes and compiling a list of things I’d like to see happen in the coming year. A bucket list of sorts. Nothing too detailed or lofty. I don’t want to set us up for failure. I just need a few goals for myself and for my family as a whole that will motivate and inspire us throughout the year. Items such as “giving to the homeless in a tangible way” is something that we can all put our hearts into and that will grow us as children of God.

Something I’d like to see change in my life this year is how quickly I become frustrated with myself and my children. Many people compliment my patience, but at home, I feel the total opposite. I see the constant mess and the never-ending list of projects and I grow frustrated. The kids are at an age at which they argue nearly all of the time, and the noise level in the house could shatter any mom’s thinking cap.

I think sitting at His feet each morning and asking for that patience will help me to walk in the peace and rest I described yesterday.

So far, here is my list:

  1. Spend time with the Father each morning
  2. Play worship music downstairs daily (it plays 24/7 in the kids’ bedrooms only)
  3. Give to the Homeless in a tangible way
  4. Bless a child or children from another country
  5. Eat more family dinners at our dining room table (less at the island with mom and dad standing)
  6. Go on a date with my husband at least once a month
  7. Make exercise a priority (Isla is my accountability partner)
  8. Paint and hand letter on Sundays

What’s something you would add to your own list?

Lets share and encourage one another. Next year CAN be the best year yet.

 

::December 27::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 29::

Simply Noel: December 27 – Come Away and Rest

Simply Noel:

December 27 -Come Away and Rest

We’ve been thinking a lot about perspective this month. Take it slow. Be intentional. It’s better to give than receive. Presence over presents. Asking for help when it’s needed, accepting it when it’s freely offered. Saying “no” so you can say “yes” to what truly matters. The list goes on…

I believe there’s a distinction between taking a break and living from rest. Think about the things you take breaks from… work, exhausting activities, toxic relationships, social media…

Breaks are necessary and often healthy, but what would it be like if following this busy season of Christmas we didn’t need a break because we’ve learned to live from a place of rest?

The Lord clearly exemplifies this mindset and lifestyle. You never saw an example of a rushed, flustered, exhausted Jesus. He was needed 24/7.

But he knew the importance of rest. He commended Mary’s decision to sit at his feet. He prioritized time taken to talk privately with the Father in prayer. And He left his company of friends and fellow travelers to recharge and encouraged them to do likewise:

And he said to them,

“Come away by yourself to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.”

—Mark 6:31-32

As we close out this year, let’s take time for ourselves to rest, to go to that quiet empty place inside (and maybe that empty spot in our home) And find rest and comfort in Him. And then, as we walk into the New Year, let’s allow rest to reign in our souls.

Don’t be troubled; He’s got this (whatever “this” is) and you. Don’t rush; the days will pass with or without you stressing the minutes away. Sit at His feet more; He said Himself that time spent with Him can never be taken away from us. Don’t wait until you need a break to run to Him. He’ll welcome you with open arms when and if you do, but why not decide right now that you’d much rather live from rest? Even when the world feels like it’s crumbling around you, can you visualize Him walking through the midst of it with your hand safely tucked in His? That perspective changes your day and a changed day leads to a changed life.

Be well and rest, friend.

xo,

Krsti

 

rest

 

 

Klover House Christmas:

Today was much like yesterday, but the mood in the house was completely different. Why?

Well, I think I can take credit for that. My attitude was different today, and it was clearly contagious. This idea of living from rest took root, and I “freaked out” 100% less than I did yesterday. The mess was equally as bad and the kids still had the random spats and misbehaviors, but it didn’t break me. There’s something so powerful about walking in truth and allowing that peace to take over.

For the remainder of the day, I’m just going to continue practicing walking in rest and observing how it impacts my family. I can bet we all smile more, laugh more, and show love a little better, too.

 

::December 26::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 28::

Simply Noel: December 26 – A Good Life

Simply Noel:

December 26 – A Good Life

Last night, after an exhaustingly good day, I stood at the bathroom sink and reached for my toothbrush. The gray hairs in the reflection caught my eye. I saw my age – the tired eyes, the wrinkles around my eyes and the gray hairs framing a once-younger forehead.

Over the course of our day, we visited with family on both sides of the family. I was reminded of when I was young and Christmas was lived through the mind of a child, then a teenager, then a young woman. I had flashbacks of being my mother and father’s “child” and how it felt to be cared for as such. I’ve had a good life.

I still have a good life.

Now, I celebrate Christmas with the mind of a mother. It felt like an eternity coming, and, now, the years seem to pass in mere blinks. I’m the one ushering the children to bed before Santa arrives, stockpiling presents in secret places until that special night, cramming chocolates and trinkets into over-sized stockings… Now, I’m the one creating and fostering the magic of Christmas.

No one gives you a manual – a Christmas How-To… You become older and life shifts and you shift right along with it.

That’s how it seems to be in all areas of life. Seasons change and perspectives change. Our physical bodies change and our minds and spirits grow. Our lives move from place to place and the people in them also shift. One thing that remains constant, though, is that life is good. It truly is. It is because we have Christ and we live in and through Christ.

Life, even in its hardest times is good, because we are constantly loved by God. He meets our needs in unexpected ways. He comforts us when we can’t find comfort in any worldly thing. He fills us with joy and contentment even when, according to the world’s standards, we appear to have very little to show for our days.

My prayer for you and for myself this year is that we continue to live the good life. I pray that even when your hopes are deferred and your faith is tested that you see the good things in your life.

Psalm 31: 19-24

19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
    from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
    from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,
    for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,[b]
    “I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
    The Lord preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the Lord!

xo,

Kristi

life

Klover House Christmas:

Today, December 26th, is my father’s birthday. He said that he always felt a little pang of sadness growing up, because his childhood friends rarely wanted to celebrate his birthday with him and parties were usually lonely. “They’d rather stay home and play with their new toys,” he’s said. Even now, we celebrate his special day on Christmas, because we’re already gathered as a family. His gifts are often “combined,” and I almost always forget to bring a separate birthday card.

As I was reading about today – the 2nd Day of Christmas – I learned that it is referred to as “Saint Stephen’s Day.” Saint Stephen was the first Christian martyred for his faith.  We are not Catholic, but my father’s middle name happens to be Stephen. I’ve never asked him or my grandparents, who are both now gone, if this is why he was given that name.

All this to say, if it wasn’t for this devotional, I may have never bothered to look up “Saint Stephen’s Day”. I would have never been inclined to ask my father about the origin of his middle name, and most importantly, I may have never associated December 26th with a man willing to lay his life down for his faith. Even now, centuries later, Christians are surrendering their last breath in the name of Jesus. This awareness is a call from complacency as a Western Christian.

My hope for you and myself today, and every day of these 12 Days of Christmas, is that we would make each day meaningful and apply it to our own lives in such a way that we would be better because of it.

Today, I plan on enjoying “Family Time” with my husband and children and spending time talking with them about “Pappy’s” birthday and Saint Stephen’s Day, so that they will grow up with knowledge I hadn’t gained until now, allowing them to appreciate being a Christian in America. In order to keep peace in America, we need to raise world-changers, peace-makers, and steadfast lovers of Jesus. Why not start that intentional mission today in honor of men and women like Saint Stephen, who, like our Savior, paid the ultimate price so that the faith we love so dearly would survive all of these years?

Some games we are playing with our children today include (aff. links):

 

::December 25::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 27::

Chip and JoJo…This Is Us…Is Tuesday Trying to Put Me in a Looney Bin?!

Oh, Fixer Upper…what have you done to me?

 

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{Image Source: HGTV}

Gah.

Seriously. When I first heard the news, or saw it rather, on my Instagram feed, I kind of glazed over it. I watched the short clip of Chip Gaines and started to move on. Then, I read the comments, and honestly, people, I felt like I was going to throw up. I know, right?! I’m probably crazy. But then, as I sat and thought for a moment, (which you moms know we literally get A MOMENT to ponder the great things in life like what Joanna Gaines is doing next… lol), I was actually REALLY happy for them.

Imagine for a moment that you were asked to be the next HGTV star. HGTV, the Mothership of Home, wants YOU and your precious family to hunker down in the spotlight for, oh say, a few YEARS. Gosh. I would feel like, “Man, this is IT! Mama has ARRIVED!” Right? You know it’s true!

But not Chip and JoJo.

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{Image Source: HGTV}

Isn’t it so like them to see the beautiful tapestry that God is weaving for their lives from above the limelight and say with peace and clarity – It’s time to turn this page. That’s the couple we love.

Yeah, we loved them for coming into our homes every week, teaching us new words like “shiplap” and getting us more excited for #demoday than our hubbies are for Football Sunday.

We loved them for showing us what it is like to have a marriage in which the banter is loving and edifying – constant, “Hey, Babe,” and “Thank you, Chip.”

Yes, we also loved their intentional and sweet interaction with their children.

We love them for introducing us to fluffy baked goods and Johnny Swim.

We loved them for teaching us to look at our boring walls and bad carpet and see POTENTIAL.

We loved them for loving Christ and not being ashamed of their faith.

We loved them for taking every step in stride with poise, grace, and the utmost respect for themselves and others.

We loved them for their perfect blend of humor and class.

We loved them for their down-to-earth wardrobes and great shoes (I’m sure there was a noticeable surge in Free People flats and Hunter Boots sales when Jo came on the scene).

We loved them for their quirky junking outings and their serious love for their farm.

We loved them for their visionary spirits and determination to see things through from blah to beautiful.

We loved the way they championed every artisan and entrepreneur they worked with and gave credit where credit was due.

We loved their humble spirits and the fact that, even being on a major hit show, they didn’t own a single television.

We loved them.

We STILL love them for all of those reasons and more.

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{Image Source: HGTV}

But today, I love them for an even bigger reason – they sincerely love and listen to the Holy Spirit, and He directs their steps with a holy, graceful boldness that should inspire any and all of us. I have never in my years witnessed a more grounded and wise pair of human beings. They laugh and have a ball, and, at the same time, they march through life to the steady beat of the Lord’s heart. I mean, how wonderful is that?!

Chip, thank you for making me laugh. Thanks for showing us all that it’s possible to have fun with your wife while chasing big dreams and facing huge responsibilities. Thanks for never editing your goofiness out of the shows and sacrificing your body with every hilarious wall-slam. Thanks for being a God-loving father to your children, because they’re going to be sharing the world with our children, and that makes me smile. My girls already have four like-hearted people out there in the world with whom to tackle the future. Thanks for being the kind of guy that shows other guys (young and old) that it’s okay to laugh and enjoy this ride we call life. Men carry such heavy burdens for their families, but it doesn’t have to be a burden, and you embody that truth.

Jo, thanks for being that jack-of-all-trades kind of girl that I immediately connected with. I’ve been wondering for twenty years what’s wrong with me that I don’t have a single passion – one that I can pinpoint and chase down with 100% of my time and energy. You showed me that it really is a wonderful and blessed thing to be a woman who can fit into many molds and none at the same time. I’ll probably never meet you, but I love you for that. Thank you for showing us that it’s possible to mother well while doing beautiful things for the people and community around you. Thank you for eating cupcakes every episode. I love you for that, too. Ha! Thank you a million times for taking a risk in putting yourselves and your lives out there. You have inspired millions of people, and many of those millions probably look at you and your sweet family and say, “I want what they have – that peace and joy and kindness…” You have been a beautiful window into the heart of Christ for millions to see. Thank you.

And now that I’ve cried and praised and sighed and smiled… I’m going to hit up the DVR for “This Is Us” and lose what’s left of my ever-lovin’ mind.

See you in Waco someday, my friends. Praying for you and your next endeavors.

 

xoxo, Kristi

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{Image Source: TODAY}

If you’d like to see the Gaines’ video announcement, you can find it here.

Follow Joanna Gaines on IG here. Follow Chip Gaines here. Follow Magnolia here.

Building A Heaven Family Here: Danielle’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

Danielle’s Story

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

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

When God Gives a Name…

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

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

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

Building a Heaven Family Here…

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

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

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

Sing and dance with Jesus, our beautiful loved ones.

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

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

Joyce Miller   6-2-2017

 

 

 

The Ultimate “Gift-Away” for Mom!

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

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

mother's day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Latest Elsewhere: The Biggest Lie We Believe As Parents

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

Parenting Lie

THE BIGGEST LIE WE BELIEVE AS PARENTS…

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

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

Read the original post HERE.

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