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::

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 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?

 

fixerupper

{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.

0251329

{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.

1405368743961

{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

gaines-fixer-upper-tdy-home-tease-ae_0e0546dc425ece945d17a1c4aeaffb1a

{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.

IMG_0609

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