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.

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Be blessed.

xo,

Kristi

God Loves Mothers

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

God loves mothers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moms, you are a BIG deal.

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

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

 

 

 

Latest Elsewhere: The Biggest Lie We Believe As Parents

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

Parenting Lie

THE BIGGEST LIE WE BELIEVE AS PARENTS…

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

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

Read the original post HERE.

Full Color KAB Watermark

A Thousand Grains of Rice

Too Much…

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

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

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

Truth Be Told…

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

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

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

We Are Meant for This…

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

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

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

A Thousand Grains of Rice…

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

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

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

What Really Matters…

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

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

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

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

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

Everything else is meaningless, isn’t it?

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

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

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

My World in April

April showers bring…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

miscarriage

Blessings through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom

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

You’re in my prayers tonight, friend.

xo,

Kristi

 

Watching for Sunrise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I’m afraid of what tomorrow holds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xo,

Kristi

 

Stop Watering Dead Plants

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

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

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

Stop watering dead plants, Kristi.

plants

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

The Forbidden Subject

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

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

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

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

No more.

A Friend Loves at All Times

Proverbs 17:17.

All times.

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

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

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

Stop Watering

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

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

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

Re-pot and Refocus

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

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

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

Pints and Gallons

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

gallon

Are you a gallon or a pint?

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

Abiding in Him

I’ve had to learn to ABIDE.

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

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

Want a friend?

BE a friend.

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

 

 

 

Longing for a Clean, Calm Home…

Feel like having a *clean* daydream with me for a minute? lol  Literally?  Imagine your living room…tidy, candle lit and a sweet, calming aroma lingers in the air.  It mingles with the fresh, minty scent of recently cleaned windows (thanks, Method lol), and a cool breeze coming from the opened back door.  The kids are playing, happily on the swing set just outside the kitchen window, and there’s not a single toy in sight.  Ahhhh…bliss.  And total fantasy, right?  We can wake up now…

There’s just one little hiccup in accepting this reality… I kind of believe the statement you are about to read with my whole heart…

clean

This has been my personal belief for our home for several years now. I stand behind it 100% and remind myself of its truth daily. But, ladies, can I get a witness that it is so hard?!?!?!?! When I developed my “One Day to Clean a Dirty House” routine, it was because I was so tired of cleaning one room at a time and NEVER EVER feeling like I was actually getting anywhere! So, I combined my personality “quirks,” with my frustrations and the acceptance that I clean best in those few, panicked hours before company arrives (I’ve always been a “procrastinating perfectionist”), and created a solution. My method gets the job done, but I’m telling you truthfully – It. Is. Work.

So, when Sarah Mae announced that she was looking for applicants to help spread the word about her new book, “Having a Martha Home the Mary Way: 31 Days to a Clean House and a Satisfied Soul,” I applied without an ounce of hesitation. I knew that I needed help. I’m so thankful that Sarah Mae’s team recognized my insane desperation chose me 😉 to receive an advance copy, because I was so eager to read her advice and find some help as soon as possible – not just for my home’s sake, but for my soul and sanity’s sake.  I don’t want to just give my family a decent place to live; I want to create for them a healthy and loving sanctuary.  I need help in doing that in the way I long to do it.

Next week, I will be meeting with an intimate group of friends that are feeling the pull too, and we’re going to be sharing our hearts while the kiddos play and we sip our coffee.  We’re going to dig into this book together.  I couldn’t be more excited about it.  I plan to write about each week, just to fill you in on what the Lord is doing in MY heart and MY home.  I believe that meeting with women that also desire to learn “gentle homemaking,” as Sarah describes it, will only enhance what will already be happening in our hearts and homes, individually.  I’m excited to hear their stories – their ups and downs, tips and tricks…their wisdom or fears.  I’m just excited.  It’s going to be one of the most beautiful and fruitful times of my week this spring.  I just know it.

It’s my hope that you will want to jump on board and take this journey with us.  If you are longing for a fresh breeze to blow through your home, in the form of a renewed mind and spirit when in comes to being a homemaker, I invite you to grab a copy of Sarah’s book and join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.  You are also invited to message or e-mail us (kloverhouseblog@gmail.com) anytime!  Though we start our discussions this coming week, our 31-Day challenge won’t officially begin until the following week, so there’s plenty of time to grab a copy of the book!

So, back to what I mentioned earlier about “a clean home being a calm home”… Sarah Mae hit the nail on the head in her Intro, when she wrote the following:

mary and martha

Let’s do this, friends.  Let’s take our focus off of the dust, the grime, and the feelings of failure we struggle with as women in charge of families and households.  Let’s instead get down to the heart of the matter and help make that daydream a reality we can actually enjoy.

Before we know it, we will be that much closer to Having a Martha Home the Mary Way.

xo,

Kristi

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I both love and use in my home!  Feel free to use them if you’d like.  Our family says “thank you” in advance, for using our links to purchase some pretty awesome products that you may come across while reading!