Simply Noel: December 15 – Ten Days of Grace


Simply Noel:

December 15 – Ten Days of Grace

Ten days.

Ten days until Christmas Day. Are you ready? No, don’t answer that, because if there’s one thing that I hope I have helped you with this Christmas season, it’s that there really is no pressure of “being ready”. Instead, be present. Be intentional. Be honest with yourself, and be realistic with your time, money, talents, and needs.

Give yourself grace and truth over the next ten days.

Don’t bake all the cookies. Pick two favorites, and roll with that.

Don’t go to all of the events. Pick a couple that work with your schedule, and decline the others with love: “Please, think of us next year, but this year, we will have to pass. I love you, though!”

Don’t buy all the presents. Pick the most meaningful gifts, and write a great letter to that special someone. My husband began this tradition for our first Christmas as a married couple, and now he continues to write each of us a personal letter. He reads them to us on Christmas morning, and it has become my most beloved tradition. I know that years from now, our children will treasure these written expressions of their father’s heart for his daughters. Give gifts that never expire, need batteries, or grow old. An “I love you, because…” or an “I am thankful for you, because…” goes a very long way and ripples through a lifetime.

Spend time with the people you love.

Reach out to the people who may need love the most. It just occurred to me the other day that 10% of our day is over two hours. Simple math, right? But, gosh. What could we do with two hours?! Makes that ten minute phone call seem a lot less intrusive on our day, doesn’t it? Make yourself a cup of tea, grab the phone, and take ten minutes to tell someone you’re thinking about them.

Slow down. I know it’s so hard. Truly, I know. We have so many opportunities within reach, but, as one of my favorite writers reminded me earlier this year, for every “yes,” there is a “no.” Say “yes” to the simple and the meaningful, and forgive yourself for saying “no” to the “muchness” of Christmas.

One of the things that I have taken on, as a mother who enjoys sewing, is the crafting of Christmas dresses for each of my daughters. But, unlike in previous years, if I don’t get to them this time around, I need to be okay with that. Rather than pull all-nighters, I need to remind myself that, one, my girls are loved, and two, my children have store-bought dresses that are just fine. The only person judging me if I don’t do it is me, so I must resolve to get a grip and move on from that unnecessary guilt trip.

For the next ten days, will you commit to living under grace with me? Give yourself grace. Give your children and spouse grace. Give your co-workers grace, and give every bah-humbugger you meet along the way extra grace, too.

This is not a countdown, friend. This is a call to live for the next ten days (at least) with intention, purpose, meaning, and the most severe grace you have ever given yourself. I repeat: Severe Grace. Free yourself up to love, and free yourself up to feel and be in the moment. It’s so hard sometimes, isn’t it? Our lives are so full that we feel we have no choice but to stay on our toes, keep everything excessively organized, and constantly look ahead for the next mark on the list and the next thing on the calendar. This is your stop sign, or at least your blinking light. Stop fretting and get ready for a lot of breathing room this week. Look purposefully for opportunities to create blank space for yourself and celebrate it!

Stick with simple gift-wrapping. Stick with recipes you know and love. Ask for help, even if you don’t think you need it. You may not need the extra hand, but that person whom you call upon, well, he or she may need to feel useful today. Maybe you were an answer to an unspoken prayer with your fellowship. I know that I like feeling needed and handy. Give someone a chance to feel those warm fuzzies at your pride’s expense.

Keep your heart light, because, like all the Christmases before this one, you will blink, and it will have passed. It won’t matter if you had casserole or soup. It won’t matter if you tied extravagant ribbons or used stick-on bows. And it won’t matter if you spent $6 or $60. Don’t sweat the small stuff, as they say, but rather, enjoy the small stuff. Life is found in the random moments. People will remember how you made them feel, and when you carry grace with you, it’s bound to rub off on others.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

– John 1:16,18

Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” I believe that these words are special, because when you are walking in grace (knowing where your strength comes from and that you have humbly received the undeserved gift of salvation from a Father who loves you) and truth (you know whose you are and that you have authority to live a life free from stress and chaos), then you have room to experience love, joy, peace, favor and gratitude. You have room to operate out of hope, patience, kindness, wisdom and generosity.

So, know whose you are today, and, for these next ten days, accept the grace that is actually yours to keep the whole year through.

xo,

Kristi

grace

Klover House Christmas:

Today, I made myself a list of ten areas in which I am going to give myself grace over the next ten days. I invite you to make your own list. What can you say “no” to, in order that you can have enough “yes” moments that really matter?

I will give myself grace (temporary exemption, mercy, pardon, kindness, courtesy, privilege, blessing…) in the following ways:

1 – Housework – I will say “no” to my never-ending list of chores today and say “yes” to taking my daughter for a new violin, spending time with my mom, and wrapping gifts with my husband after the kids go to bed.

2 – Family – I will say “no” to my own personal to-do list and say “yes” to playing with my kids and watching a movie with my husband.

3 – Pride – I will say “no” to the desire to make “bigger and better” meals and say “yes” to simple and familiar, so that I can enjoy an early celebration with family.

4 – Cell phone – I will say “no” to the endless gazing at my phone and say “yes” to offering my family my full attention for the afternoon.

5 – Sleep – I will say “no” to staying up too late tonight, so that I can say “yes” to being mentally and emotionally present for my daughter’s field trip.

6 – School – I will say “yes” to keeping my daughter’s school party simple, affordable, and fun and say “no” to trying to impress or go overboard, planning elaborate or costly activities.

7 – Business – I will say “no” to the desire to push myself too far in order to finish too many things, and I will say “yes” to checking in on a few customers/friends.

8 – Plans – I will say “no” to scrambling around at the last minute and say “yes” to being satisfied with what I have accomplished so far, so I can enjoy these last days before Christmas.

9 – Mom Guilt – I will say “no” to staying up all night to create unnecessary things, such as handmade Christmas dresses, knowing that my children have beautiful clothing and such things aren’t always needed. In doing so, I will say “yes” to my sanity.

10 – Christmas Eve – I will say “no” to anything unrelated to this holy night and say “yes” to making it meaningful for my children. I will say “no” to the distractions so that I can remember to say “yes” to my heart’s desire for my family to know and feel my love for them.

What will you say “no” to this week so that you can say “yes” to who and what you treasure?

You can do this – I believe in you. Write it down as simply or elaborately as you’d like, and carry it with you or put it on your refrigerator. Let’s make these next ten days the easiest days of your month.

Everything you need for a beautiful Christmas, you most-likely already possess.

 

::December 14::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 16::

Simply Noel: December 14 – For the Joy Set Before Him…

Simply Noel:

December 14 – For the Joy Set Before Him

We’re almost halfway through the month. How are you holding up? Are you feeling frazzled or has it been smooth sailing so far? I sensed today I need to write about joy. Maybe it’s because I had such a crummy night with my kiddos last night? I feel a pulling towards the subject, and so, I will follow the Holy Spirit’s advice and talk about joy.

As soon as the topic was laid on my heart, Hebrews 12:2 came to my mind…

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

How quickly, as the world seems to be whirling in preparation around us, do we forget our joy? Remember on December 1st I asked you to put on hope? Well, I feel like we also need a reminder to put on joy. “…everlasting joy will crown their heads…” (Isaiah 35:10) Put on your crown of joy today, daughter of the King.

So, where do we find this joy?

1 Peter 1:8-9 tells us that it is found in the truth that we already carry:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Though we have not seen Jesus, we believe in Him and we love Him. That’s it, friend. That is why His joy is our strength. That is why no one can take our joy from us. If we believe in Him and love Him…we can rejoice with inexpressible, glorious joy, knowing that the outcome of our faith is an eternity spent with Him.

Things are going wrong? Plans unravelled? Relationships unsteady? Jobs uncertain? Money is tight?

We can still have joy, because our joy is not dependent on our circumstances. It is dependent on our truth, and our truth is the joy set before us – the hope we have in Jesus and the hope we have in Heaven.

For the joy set before us, we endure our circumstances, knowing they aren’t the last word.

The hope of the righteous brings joy,
    but the expectation of the wicked will perish. 

– Proverbs 10:28

For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross…

For the joy set before God the Father, He endured the pain of sending His only Son to us as a baby in a manger…

For the joy of eternity with Him, He sent His Son to die…

For the joy set before us, we celebrate Christmas.

Put on your crown of joy today, friend. It’s an early Christmas gift from your Heavenly Father.

xo,

Kristi

christmas

Klover House Christmas:

If you had to pick one thing that brought you joy at Christmas, what would it be? I tried thinking about that today, and I had a hard time settling on just one thing. I love when we drive through Oglebay in our pajamas, sipping hot chocolate and eating cookies in the car, aka the garbage mobile (and all the moms of many messy children said, “Amen.”) I love opening the cards we receive and looking at them with my kids. We then hang them in the kitchen, and I love looking at them throughout the day. I love making sugar cookies with my daughters, mom, and nieces. My sister-in-law was working last year, but I hope she can join in this year, because I love spending time with her, too. I love wrapping presents with my hubby on the living room floor, even though he can’t stand it. I love hanging out with my husband and kids by the tree on Christmas Eve. I love Christmas morning breakfast with my in-laws. There are soooo many things that I love about Christmas, but you know what they all have in common?

People.

Christmas is about people. It’s the one time of the year in which we intentionally carve out time for others. You know? So, today, I am going to keep carving out time for my people. When other things start to stress me out and try to steal my focus and my joy, I am going to remind myself that the people I love are what I most value during this time of year and that they should be my focus. And wouldn’t it be something if that intentional devotion stretched itself past December 25th and found its way into the all of the other seasons of the year?

 

::December 13::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 15::

Simply Noel: December 13 – Let There Be Light

Simply Noel:

December 13 – Let There Be Light

Have you noticed that Christmas has become a hodgepodge of traditions? When I set out to start this devotional, one of my goals was to learn the “why” behind some of the practices. Christmas comes along, and I break out the Advent calendars, the gingerbread houses, the decorations, the wreaths, the lights, the holly, the mistletoe… We bake cookies, special breads, and yule logs… We cook certain meats and seafoods… We sing specific songs and visit Santa at the mall… Those are just some of the traditions we carry on, because our culture has adopted them. I’m sure there are even more, especially when we add in the modern ones…

It can be overwhelming, can’t it? And while I have participated and incorporated many Christmas traditions into our lives here, I refuse to be bound to rituals, especially when I don’t understand them to begin with and it’s become a matter of going through the motions. Are you going through the motions, too?

One of the stories I stumbled upon is related to this day, December 13th – Saint Lucia (St. Lucy) Day, was about a young and devout Christian woman, who was martyred for her unwavering faith in Christ. I’m sure I’ll get part of her story’s details wrong (because I am neither Catholic, Lutheran, or Swedish), but basically, according to legend, in 304 A.D. she “brought food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs using a candle-lit wreath [worn on her head] to light her way and leave her hands free,” so on this day, St. Lucia (meaning light) is remembered/honored in certain ways, both in places of worship and also in private homes.

One of the practices I read about, in regards to this day, was the eating of a breakfast meal by candlelight. I started imagining how serene and lovely it would be – to serve my family some eggs and Lucia Buns by candlelight one winter morning. There’s something so wonderful about candlelight – so peaceful. Have you ever enjoyed a candle-lit meal on a date, perhaps, or at a wedding? I love the way the light only reaches so far and then fades into darkness. The soft, warm glow that touches each object in front of you… The way it flickers and causes the surroundings to dance… The warmth that it gives off… I simply love candlelight. It’s interesting to me how intimate it makes even the most mundane activity feel. I almost think it brings things into focus, because you have no choice but to only focus on the small area that you can actually see – the face of a loved one sitting next to you, the other end of a table, the page of a book…

I started to think about our candlelight service on Christmas Eve. We could easily flip the switch and illuminate the entire room. Let there be light! Ta-da! But, no, that’s not what happens, right? We start with a real, not artificial, single flame, and person by person, we watch it grow into a sea of the most warm and peaceful light. Furthermore, you and the light are one. It goes where you go, turns where you turn…

There is so much talk about light in the Bible. Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden… He also tells us that while He is in the world, He is the Light of the world.

“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

– John 12:35-36

Sons of light… light of the world… carriers of light…

“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

‘Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.'”

– Ephesians 5:8-15

Christ is the Light of the world, He shined His light on us, and now we are carriers of that light, making us the light of the world…

So, while we can honor and respect the selfless and sacrificial lives of those men and women, like St. Lucia, who have laid down their lives for the sake of the Gospel and for the love of others, we mustn’t get caught up in rituals that might distract from the reality that we are the light. We don’t necessarily need a feast to welcome the light to the darkness… We don’t need a ceremony… We need a breakthrough moment – a revelation – in which Christ cracks us wide open and His light bursts from us, like the sun. And then, as we are going about our daily lives, we embody the Holy Spirit’s flame and we ignite the spirit of each person we come in contact with. It may look like the striking of a match, or it may be the gentle and steady transfer of Heaven’s light, but either way, we are to light the world one heart at a time.

xo,

Kristi

lights

Klover House Christmas:

While we don’t celebrate St. Lucia Day, I do love baking festive breads. If you caught my recent post, What You Do Well, then you’ll remember that I’m not the best baker, but breads, I can handle. I really enjoy the process of breadmaking. I found this post for St. Lucia Buns, and they sound tasty. I’ve always wondered what saffron tastes like, so this might be a great excuse to make something with it. Let me know if you try this out, or if St. Lucia Buns are a “thing” at your house, I’d love to hear from you!

Recipe for St. Lucia Buns – click here.

Simply Noel: December 12 – Truest Treasures

Simply Noel:

December 12 – Truest Treasures

Something I have noticed, as a parent over the past seven years, is the undeniable desire to see your children become better than yourself. We want our kids to be better stewards of time and resources, better and kinder humans, harder but smarter workers, better citizens of both heaven and earth. We want our children to grow and mature into responsible, reasonable, honest and trustworthy adults, capable of making tough decisions and caring about their place in the world.

As I began an online search earlier tonight, “popular gifts for teenage girls,” I have to be honest and say that what came up disappointed me. These were items that I, as a thirtysomething, don’t even own or that I didn’t ask for until I was a thirtysomething. DSLR Cameras? A $200 watch? A smartphone… Slippers that would feed a family of four easily for a week?! Really?

I remember when I was a teenager, I was so happy to have a cool bag, some great nail polish, art supplies, and good books. Am I so antiquated that the simple things that satisfied me aren’t the “norm” anymore?

As parents is this what we want for our children? I think that God wants and requires for us to set the bar high when it comes to caring for our families, but somewhere in time, someone decided that the bars had to be gilded, doused in glitter and diamond-studded.

It occurred to me that part of my job as a mentor to small humans is to teach them about the dangerous snare that is the love of money. To be fair, we do not live as paupers, but we are living at our means. I decided when we had our first child that I would neither look to the right nor left. The Joneses could have and do whatever they pleased, and they could shower their children with as much stuff as they wanted, but I was determined to keep my eyes fixed on our path, our convictions, and our goals as a family.

That practice started to waiver once my kids entered elementary school. All of a sudden, you know what everyone is doing and what every kid wants and has. (Don’t even get me started on Hatchimals this year.) And just like some of you, our children have come home with longings in their hearts and on their little minds, and they don’t see dollar signs, they see a “want” that feels a lot like a “need,” and they turn to their earthly providers – us.

And, unlike our Heavenly Father, we start to bend our goals to meet their “needs” and we are swept away into the “more” of Christmas. We stress and sweat over the hottest toys and the nicest clothes, and we feel that pit in our stomachs when the credit card statements arrive in the mail.

And for what? What are we instilling in our children by doing Christmas like this? We could probably convince ourselves that it’s good to make sacrifices for them, but if putting yourself in debt is the outcome, it just seems to be more harmful for our families in the end.

So what can we do about this trend? How do we stop the snowball from evolving into an avalanche?

That’s what I’m working on too, friend. I wish I had the perfect advice, but I don’t – not yet. But I do know that seeing how out of control things have gotten and being willing to adjust the course is a good start.

I want my ceiling to be their floor even in the understanding that there is more to life than what you own. There is more to a person than what they wear. There is more to Christmas than what you find in a stocking or beneath a tree.

So much of life is taking your ideals and realities and allowing the Holy Spirit to weave the two together. God is a Father. He is the Father. He wants to provide for our needs and give us the desires of our hearts, just like we long to do for our own children. He understands both our desires and our limitations as earthly parents. Go to Him with your hardships this season, friend. Talk to Him, parent to parent. Not a parent? Talk to Him giver to giver, and follow the advice you feel Him pouring into your spirit.

We made a practical decision as parents several years ago that Santa would never bring our kids an expensive gift. We knew that someday, if we allowed that practice to take place, that our child would possibly be the one who went to school talking about their trip to Disney World from Santa, and Susie Nextdoor may wonder why he gifted her a doll or a book. We would rather our child come home with questions for us, as opposed to being the child who unintentionally breaks a peer’s heart. One way we know we can explain this to our children is that “moms and dads have the choice on what Santa can bring, and we want our kids to receive certain items of certain value,” and not because they aren’t worthy of more, but because, as a family, we value those heart gifts much more. “It’s better to give than receive.” Our treasures are things unseen. Don’t be afraid to have real-life talks with your kids. If I want my daughters to steer clear of materialism and greed, I have to be willing to have the hard conversations about the state of world (within reason, according to age) and those in it who are less fortunate.

So, with Christmas just a week and a half away, I plan on looking for those opportunities now. And most importantly, if I want my children to be free from a overly commercialized Christmas when they are older, I need to model those intentions now.

And as for those teenagers that inspired these thoughts – they won’t be receiving any smartphones or cameras, but they will receive something that will enhance their lives and included in that package will be a message that expresses a gift that I hope they will carry in their hearts forever – “You are loved. You matter. God has a plan for you, and you are never forgotten.”

That’s a treasure far more valuable than any earthly possession. It’s not found on a shelf, in a wallet, or hanging on a rack. Real treasures are such things as a loving heart, a compassionate soul, and a relationship with a heavenly Father. My goal this year is to fan those embers of truth in my kids’ hearts, so that they grow to long for the truest treasures.

xo,

Kristi

gift

Klover House Christmas:

 

Crafting with a Purpose

My girls are really into wrapping up items from their playroom and giving them to one another. The bad news? All of my tissue paper, tape, and tin foil are now gone. Good news? They are revelling in the joy of giving. “Playing Christmas” is what they call it.

This week, I plan on giving them each a box and heart cutouts. We are going to wrap our hearts up for Jesus and talk about how our love and devotion is all He ever wants for His birthday, and how our brotherly love is all He wants for us to give to others, as well.

Then, we will choose a non-tangible gift to give one another. An example would be (hopefully) something like, “I want to give my sister kindness,” or “I want to give my children patience.”

I hope to use this activity to further emphasize the importance of spiritual fruit over material possessions. “ For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul,” right? (Mark 8:36)

It starts at home, and it starts with us, and it can start as easily as sharing a simple craft done in honesty and love.

 

::December 11::    ::Back to the Top::    ::December 13::

Klover House Christmas: A Holiday Devotional

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

The first Klover House Christmas Holiday Devotional!

 

Christmas

Overwhelmed? Tired? Distracted?

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

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

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

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

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

Me too!

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

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

Please, join me on this special journey.

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

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

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

xoxo,
Kristi

Join the Conversation of Hope, Miscarriage Mom…

April 15th stopped being referred to as “Tax Day” for me a long time ago.  That date forever changed once my doctor assigned it to my second child as the much-anticipated due date.  In the heat of August 2010, ultrasound photos in-hand, I started to envision the child I carried in my tummy and the happy future that was sure to come with this surprise baby.  Just days after seeing my little one in the womb, I was forced to say an abrupt and heart-breaking good-bye.  Every hope and dream I had been carrying came to a crashing halt.  I’d never felt such a hurt in my heart.  I’d never been faced with such an agony that literally pulls at the pit of your being.  It was an experience that changed me, deeply.  My eyes lost their innocent sparkle that night.  My heart became tainted with worries I never knew I could carry.  Miscarriage can wreck a woman, friends.  I was wrecked that lonely weekend in late August – mind, body and spirit.  But, thankfully, that wasn’t the end of my story.  It was only the first chapter.  The healing that came in the months and years to follow is why I am who I am today, and why I can say with joy and boldness that my child is still very much a part of me, our family, and my life.

When I opened up about my experience on this blog, it also opened many doors to speak with close friends about their own.  During an impromptu play date with two of my close friends, who are also bloggers, we just started talking about our miscarriages over coffee cake.  The kids played and we chatted away…sharing our stories…our challenges…the surprise and disappointment we felt at the lack of resources available to moms like us.  It was then that we decided to change that, together.  This project has been a long-time coming, so I am thrilled to announce that we have finally released our e-book, “Blessings Through Raindrops: Conversations of Hope for the Miscarriage Mom.” You can find it by clicking here.  Betsy Moore of BMooreHealthy, Becky Mansfield of Your Modern Family, and I have set out to create a resource for other moms who have experienced loss through miscarriage.  Whether you are experiencing one now or had one many years ago, this book was created with you in mind.

blessings 3d

This book is extra special, because it has been written in the form of conversations. Picture the three of us sitting in front of a group of moms, sharing our stories, crying, hugging each other and finding ways to move forward side-by-side. We pray that this book helps other moms find peace through all the sadness and grief attached to miscarriage. And we’re not the only moms sharing our stories in this book.  Many other mothers have so graciously offered up their testimonies of loss and hope as well.  I found myself in awe of the strength of these warrior-mamas.  Each of our stories is so unique, but there are also many common threads that will forever knit our hearts together.  I am so full of joy to finally share this book with you. You can find it here:

miscarriage link

IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL FIND:

Totally Blindsided: Receiving the News

Finding a Lifeline: Longing for Support

The Warrior Within: Finding Strength in Fragile Moments

The Ripple Effect: Learning to Lean On and Love Through

Next Steps: Moving Forward in Hope and Health

Blessings through Raindrops: Finding Meaning and Choosing to Celebrate Life

From the Other Side: A Spouse’s Perspective

Additional Resources

Our Hope for You

A Shared Experience: Stories from Other Miscarriage Moms

And so much more…

At the end of each chapter, you will also find a question/questions or reflection point(s).  We thought it necessary to, not just talk at you, but, let you have your voice be heard as well – even if it’s only your own eyes that will ever read the responses.  We have found that both writing and talking about our loss has added to our healing, and sometimes, it’s been through the gentle leading of a friend or mentor during conversation that has prompted some of our most valuable revelations.  And, because we know that often times you just need to hold a book of this nature in your hands and write your thoughts all over its pages, we are eager to offer a paperback edition in the very near future.

blessings-3d2-700x700

If you have any questions about the book, or if you are having difficulty downloading it, feel free to send Betsy, Becky and I an e-mail to miscarriagebook@gmail.com, or contact me directly at kloverhouseblog@gmail.com. From the bottom of our hearts, we hope and pray that this book helps you find an anchor of peace while going through one of the most challenging times in your life.  

Take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. You are never, ever alone. Welcome to the fiercest, most accepting club we know; it’s an honor to walk this road with you.   

xo,

Kristi

FIND ADDITIONAL MISCARRIAGE-RELATED POSTS ON KLOVER HOUSE HERE:

I Think It’s Time

Celebrating our Heaven Baby

A Pregnancy Ritual and a Very Intimate Detail about EJ

I Chose Truth

Babies and Banana Bread

It is Good -Three Words that Give a Mother Hope

It is good.

Those three, simple words have changed the way I will look at my children forever.

But I’ll get to that in a minute.

it is good

As you may or may not know, I have four, small children, ages six and under.  This past week with my little ones was especially rough.  Their dad wasn’t out of town… No one was sick, believe it or not…  No one had a bad day at school…  They had absolutely no solid reason for the kind of behaviors I was seeing consistently – back-talk, naughty faces, physical altercations between siblings, screaming, throwing things, and the mother of all meltdowns.

Tuesday was the day that took home the prize for “The Day I Thought I Wasn’t Going to Make It as a Mother.”

You know the kind – your husband calls to let you know that he’s on his way home for work, and you kind of hate him, because he spent his day around civilized people, being only responsible for himself, probably enjoying trips to the bathroom ALONE… kind of makes you want to hurl insults or at least growl come 5 PM.  It was that kind of day.

It started with the “dreaded car nap.”  Don’t you loathe those?  They are awful.  Unless your destination is over an hour away, frankly, they are the devil.  Your kids fall asleep 20 minutes into your 40 minute drive, and even though you wake them with kindness and delicacy, they behave as though they are mercilessly being ripped limb from limb or being forced to sit on hot coals.  They scream.  They hit.  They look at you with the stinkiest of stink-eyes.  The “car nap” is, like I said, the devil.

My very loved, almost three-year-old, is the bless-ed child that decided I deserved the devil for disrupting her slumber as we arrived at her sister’s weekly violin lesson.  There’s a great, little coffee shop beneath the music room and so, being the understanding mom that I am… ah-hem… I decided to treat the girls to hot chocolates before going up to the lesson.  The four of us sit together in the waiting room and read stories while Isla has her lesson, so a spontaneous treat should have been appreciated.  Read: It should have bought me some sanity.  Infer:  It did not.

We had five minutes to spare.  Let’s just say, we were ten minutes late (so the craziness lasted for 15 very unpleasant minutes), and I wanted to crawl into a hole and give up on all-things-motherhood.  My strong-willed child screamed for those 15 minutes s.t.r.a.i.g.h.t.  There was no breathing.  There was very little standing, and there was zero control on my end.  ZERO.  It was horrendous.  I struggled to talk to the barista, who was literally ten inches away.  A stranger commented that I “need an assistant or something.” Or something…he was probably thinking dog leashes and tequila.  And I ended up helping the only employee mop the floor after the strong-willed child covered the floor with her just-paid-for-beverage.  Car nap = devil.  All the while, I have my oldest two parading from chair to chair, acting like they own the joint, and a 26 lb. baby on my hip.  My head was spinning, my arm was burning, and I may have shed a tear or two.

Driving home an hour later, I thought, “There’s something wrong here.  That whole thing just wasn’t normal.  I am a terrible parent.  I am completely failing her.  I am ruining them.  These kids are spoiled.  These kids are out of control.  Where did I go off-track.  Is this entitlement or madness?  How can I fix this?  How can I fix them?  I should probably read Dr. Dobson’s book on the strong-willed child. Maybe I need professional help?  Maybe there’s some kind of behavioral therapist that can help me?  Maybe I should find a babysitter for Tuesday afternoons?  I’m never showing my face in that coffee shop again…”

I tell you this long story, because I need to express how desperate I felt.  I felt hopeless.  I felt like a failure.  And I was convinced that my children were doomed.

I asked Google some of the questions above – not gonna lie, and then I went to bed, defeated.

The next morning, I read this beautiful and timely post, by a new friend and fantastic writer, Laura, of The Military Wife and Mom, and it ministered so deeply to the wounds in my mama-heart.  It gave me that hope back that I had lost the day before.

And then, the most wonderful thing happened.  I heard that familiar voice – God.

God said…it is good.

And everything changed.

I had heard that phrase from Him before.  I pulled out my Bible and started at the beginning, literally.  It was a story that I had read many, many times.  But this morning, it wasn’t just a story – it was a message.  For me and now, maybe for you.

Excerpts taken from Genesis Chapter 1, The Creation of the World (emphasis mine):

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters… And it was so.  And God called the expanse sky.  And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.”  And it was so… And God saw that it was good.

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth…” And God saw that it was good… And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds…” And it was so… And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” So God created man in his own image… And God blessed them… And it was so.  And God saw everything he had made , and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

It got me thinking.  It was almost if God was saying, “See?  The creation takes time.  It’s good, even in its incompleteness…”

Incomplete but good.

God is able, was able, to wave His hand over the deep and say, “Come forth,” and be done.  The lights, the waters, the land, the living creatures, the man… He could’ve have done it all in one, mighty blow.  He’s God, after all.  But He didn’t.  He established in the first set of words entrusted to us the gift of process…  The grace in progress…  The anticipation of good things to come.  What a treasure.

Even the hardest stages are just that – stages.  Things may seem to be stuck on the “third day” a little longer than I’d like – there may be more darkness than I’m comfortable with, but they are in progress.  We, are in progress.  The tantrums will become less frequent.  Their neediness will begin to fade.  I will miss their smallness despite the hard moments that evidently come with it.  God didn’t grow bitter and resent the process, why should we?  If the Creator himself finds satisfaction in the parts that will eventually lead to the goal, we can too.  Each piece of the puzzle is beautiful in itself and lends to the fullness of the final picture.  Our kids…our day-to-day lives…might look a little like the boring parts of the outside border right now, and we’re longing for the more interesting pieces that seem to hold more depth…more importance…more substance, but it is this part of the journey that holds the rest together, firmly.  Keep building those little souls.  Keep building your life, one mundane moment at a time.  It is good.

Where we are right now…is good.  We’ll get there – wherever “there” may be.  For me, “there” looks less like Tuesday.  We’ll get to another stage.  Until then, it is good.  They are good.

 

xoxo,

Kristi

 

Dear Daughter, Let’s Talk about Abortion

Dear Daughter,

Let’s talk about abortion.

abortion

Abortion, by definition is:

The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.

A medical procedure used to end a pregnancy and cause the death of the fetus.

 

It’s a hot topic right now.  Honestly, it’s a hot topic for me everyday, all day, any day for reasons you will know and for some you may never be privy to, because they are not my stories to tell.  But, because of the election coming up this year, it’s a point that many are talking about, and not for reasons I am happy to report.

You see, dear daughter, our nation is currently in a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, and we, as a people, are walking around in a gray fog.  Nothing is simple.  Everyone is afraid to speak up.  Well, if you’re conservative, anyway, because they’ll call you names.  They’ll make you look like a restrictive, unloving, terrible person. (John 15:18, Mark 13:13) Your life and words hold a mirror to their issues, and they don’t dare go any deeper than the surface of life.  They aren’t ugly, they’re “free”.  They’re not under the influence of selfishness and evil; they’re liberated.  Are they?  Are they free?  Is an addict on a high, free?  Sadly, no.  They are bound, because their freedom is false, but it’s too difficult to be sober…to feel…to be broken…to deal… So they lie and live in a fantasy.  Such is the state of our culture.  They lie to themselves to get through without breaking down.  The blood on our hands looks less offensive when you’re already wearing rose-colored glasses.

You see, dear daughter, the stuff below the surface hurts.  It’s downright overwhelming at times, and it’ll make you think way too hard.  It’ll keep you up at night.  It’ll make you cry in the shower.  It will haunt you while you sip your coffee.  It will seem so much bigger than anything you could ever change.

Who wants to think about rape and incest when they can think about lattes and play groups?  Who wants to read about itty bitty babies being stuck with needles and how it has been proven that they try to flee in a womb that was created to first and foremost protect its creation?  We’ve got shopping to do, errands to run, friends to call, and nails to get done.  We don’t have time for thinking so much it hurts and praying so much it impedes on our comfortable lifestyle.

To them, it’s uncomfortable, maybe even morbid, to attribute humanity to a “fetus” whose limbs are ripped apart and whose brains are suctioned away.  God forbid we be a morbid people.  That would make for such a depressing life, right?  So we sweep it away and just make it simple.  Don’t sweep it, honey.  They need you not to turn away.

You’ll hear:

It’s not a baby…

It’s an effect of something evil…

It’s an inconvenience…

It’s going to suffer anyway…

It’s not wanted…

It doesn’t matter…

But it does, baby.  It matters so much.  They matter so much.  They are me, you, your sisters, your classmates, your children.  They matter.  They matter.  They matter.  I get caught up, uttering it like a prayer bleeding from my heart.

Sweet daughter, it does matter.  It is real.  It isn’t an effect – it’s a person.  If God is in control, who are we to determine who lives and dies? If we are waiting for convenience, we will surely wait forever. Someone out there wants it desperately. It does matter.  It does.

I read a headline today calling one of the conservative front-runners horrible names because he was quoted telling rape victims to “suck it up”.  He’s being told to “go to hell”; he has undoubtedly ticked some people off.  He’s insensitive?  He’s ignorant?  He’s cruel?  Do they even realize the names that they are calling him…the attributes they are giving him are laughable in the fact that they are for the dismembering of infants?  They are discounted as worthy, simply because of their origin.

Dear daughter, I hate to even think the thoughts, but I was recently challenged by someone we love on my stance.  “What if your child…”  And I answered the clearest that I have ever answered anything in my life.  I know it was the Holy Spirit in me.  So, here is what I said to them and what I have to say to you, my sweet angel.

Those who believe abortion is okay under certain circumstances have a deeper issue.

It could be fear, anxiety, shame, anger, selfishness, resentment, unbelief, embarrassment, hatred…

The baby is not the problem – the issue is.

What if we saw rape and incest as evil, but a child as redemption?

What if we told the doctors to save?  To do their jobs and their best and try to save both lives?  

What if we rejected the bad report and believed for a miracle? And if the miracle didn’t come, we leaned on Grace and loved anyway?

What if we gave a family the gift of a child if we weren’t ready or able to do it ourselves?

What if we changed?  What if?

We don’t want the headache.  If we outlaw abortion, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother…  It won’t fix the problem.  It will most-likely turn us into a nation of liars.

It won’t fix the fear.  It won’t fix the shame.  It won’t fix the rebellion.

But Jesus and taking that courageous step into motherhood can.

Before I brought a child into this world, I stood in the shower with an active babe kicking wildly in my belly.  I was at the end of the road, and delivery was near.  I had just read an article on Facebook about a woman who had tragically lost her life during childbirth.  It engulfed me in thick fear, daughter.  Suddenly, I saw my child as a danger.  It could kill me.  This could be it.  The enemy had managed to make my own beloved a threat.  The tears rolled fast down my cheeks that night, and I begged my husband to “save me.”  If it came down to a choice, “choose me.”  “Of course,” he said.  “We can make another baby; I can’t make another you.”  A fear and response that I’m sure many have expressed.  Oh, but it was a mistake, dear one.  For, there is no greater love than to lay one’s life down for another. (John 15:13)  My fear and doubt took my belly, swollen with promise, and villainized it.

The moment I knew my child outside of my womb, everything changed.

The veil was torn, and I saw the intended depth of my humanity.  It was so much bigger and deeper than me.  My motherhood went below the surface that day and became my purpose.  I would lay my life down for you a thousand times.  No question.  My husband can find a new wife, but the world only gets one you, and you would be worth that sacrifice.  Those mothers don’t know.  They are me in the shower, being swallowed up by fear.  Their husbands are those fathers choosing the one they love over the one they didn’t know they’d love more than life itself.  They don’t know, daughter.  They don’t know.

You can be a voice of change in the darkness, dear one.  You can tell the world about redemption and hope and faith and love.  You can make them think.  You can make them uncomfortable, but aware of a better way.  You can invite any who will listen to go deeper and beyond the surface of this life.  You can stand with the victimized and violated and show them the truth of God’s love and bigger plan.  You can be the friend that pushes fear aside and tells your peers that a baby is not the enemy to their bright futures.  Choose the hard road, the narrow one, my child.  Choose to stand up for the weak and the forgotten.  Choose to love the unloved and the neglected.  Honor their lives with your tears in the shower and your prayers late at night.  I think that the angels rejoice over you when you do.  They sing over the infants playing at the feet of Jesus.  They say, “You are loved!  You aren’t forgotten, and your life matters to them, precious child!”

And if, in the sad and terrible chance that we ever face these scenarios that they speak of, we will walk that road together.  I would cry, pray, and hold you.  I would hail you as a hero, and honor your bravery and love.  And together, we would kiss the face of the most beautiful baby that ever lived, because he/she would be part of you

Abortion is not the answer, baby.  With it comes a whole host of new heartache.

For now, dear daughter, I will do my best to raise you up beneath the shadow of the Most-High God.  I will raise you up to be a mighty woman of God, who prays and believes that anything is possible – even the ability for our God to make beauty from ashes.  I will raise you to hope for better things, to pray for the lost and shallow, to believe for a lifetime of witnessing the miraculous.  That’s what I will do, and it is my prayer that you and your generation will not carry the weight of the sins of mine.  Believe in life, dear daughter, and protect it.

xoxo,

Mommy

Psalm 8:2

Psalm 8:2

If you, or someone you know has experienced abortion, and you are looking for something to help heal your heart, free you from guilt or shame, please consider the book, “I’ll Hold You in Heaven,” by Jack Hayford (aff. link).

Fresh and Delicious Dill Balsamic Vinaigrette

You know those salad dressings that just stick with you?  You crave them…you think about them during a particular season…you make special trips to the store or Farmer’s Market just for those special ingredients?

Well, I have one of those dressings.  I tried it for the first time while I was working with some incredible Italian women and putting myself through college.  These sisters had big hearts and amazing cooking skills.

dilldressing3

One day, they insisted I have some of the salad they had brought in from home.  I did.  Friends, that’s all it took.  I was hooked and had to know how I could make it for myself.

All these years later, I am still making this amazing vinaigrette.  I admit, it’s not the same recipe, because time has tainted my recollection and I probably cut the salt by over half, because salt is a current member on my don’t-even-go-there list, but I think it’s amazing still and my ids seem to agree.  When you’ve got a four and a six year old who actually fought over slices of cucumber for dipping, because they couldn’t get enough, you know you’ve got a winner.

dilldressing1

Friends, here is that winner for your own enjoyment…

Dill Balsamic Vinaigrette

3 full sprigs of fresh dill (more to taste) – remove the fronds from stems and finely chop

1/4 c. balsamic vinegar

1/4 c. olive oil

1/4 c. honey (can also be split as 1/8 c. honey, 1/8 c. sugar)

1 tsp. sea salt & 20+ cracks black pepper (more or less to taste)

1 Roma tomato, chopped

1/4 c. yellow or red onion, chopped

*Even if you don’t care for onions and tomatoes, incorporate them into the dressing, because they are crucial in developing the proper flavor.

Finish with one cucumber, chopped, and 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese (fresh is best, but shredded works well too!)

Pair with a delicious pasta dish or top with grilled chicken for an amazing, stand-alone meal.

That simple.

Enjoy!

Connect with us on Instagram to keep up with all the latest happenings in the Klover House Kitchen!  Also, if Meal Planning is something that interests you, check out my in-depth article explaining my tried and proven process on the incredible site, Money Saving Mom.

Check out more of our Klover House Favorites:

Honey Citrus Grilled Chicken over Black Beans and Rice

Deliciously Sweet and Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Raspberry Almond Sugar Cookie Pie

Salted Caramel Oreo Truffles

Delicious Crockpot Lasagna

 

Seeking the Simple Life

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends.  Can you believe the New Year is just days away?

Our schedules are packed, wallets are emptied, bellies are full…  And yet, something is missing for this mama.  It became painfully obvious this morning.  All the kiddos are home from school today, and while they played in their pajamas, this mama stepped outside in her’s.  My pajamas, that is, and a big, fluffy, pink robe.  I had to throw a piece of mail into the mailbox, and I didn’t care who saw me on my quick trip to the street and back again.

simple

But as I took that first step out of our front door, I was greeted with the chimes of church bells in the distance, and the thoughts rushed in like a gust of wintry truth.  I long for simple.  For simpler times.  For crisp, clear moments, like that one.  In this season in which life-moments are fleeting, like fast-falling snowflakes, I am finding myself wanting to linger.  To catch some on my tongue.  To examine a few on my gloves.  To laugh as they rest peacefully atop my child’s head.  And I’m not talking about literal snowflakes, well, not entirely, anyway.  I mean those life moments.  They are melted and forgotten before I’ve even taken the chance to examine them in their rawness and beauty.

Where are you going, life?  Will I ever catch up to you?  Or should I be slowing down and force you to stop for a breath yourself once in a while?

With each step, a bell chimed.  It was so serene.  I couldn’t tell if it made me feel nostalgic – almost transporting me back in my mind to what I imagine a winter morning at Christmastime felt like before cell phones, and deadlines, and social media…  Before too many appointments and activities…  What would it be like?  To walk outside your door in the morning and just take a little walk, listening to the church bells chime as you delivered cookies to an elderly neighbor?  Wouldn’t that be something?  To “digress”?  To live, and breathe, and just be once in awhile.

Or maybe it made me feel lonely.  Maybe those somber, deliberate steps taken in the stillness on a quiet street reminded me of how full my life is but how empty it feels most days.  Sure, we laugh.  I play with my kids, and we enjoy afternoon movies and snuggles on the couch.  I’m not all there, though.  I’m somewhere else much of the time.  I’m making mental checklists and contemplating craft ideas and designing imaginary dresses and considering business deals and dreaming up ministry opportunities and remembering to-do lists…  I’m not there, breathing in their sweet little smell, taking in their quirky little mispronunciations, or answering their innocent questions with more than two brain cells and in a decent tone.

The comparison of the simplicity of the moment against the cluttered space that was once my life and mind left me feeling lonely.  Even though they’re right in front of me, I miss my family.  Even though it’s all around me, I miss Christmas.  I miss waking up and being present.

It’s hard, isn’t it?  I feel like the modern woman longs for superhuman abilities.  We want to cook well, work well, take care of our family and home well…because we are the ultimate homemakers.  We want solid relationships and calendars full of events and play dates…because we are the ultimate friend.  We want successful businesses and accolades…because we are the ultimate entrepreneur.  We want quiet times and Bible studies…because we are the ultimate, faithful Christian.  We want book clubs and girls’ nights and birthday parties and potlucks…because we are able to just do.it.all.   And so we try.  We try to do it all and we find ourselves lonely.

Longing for less.

Feeling like we’re aiming at all the targets, but missing all the marks.

Is it just me?

I don’t know what this next year holds for me, for our family, our plans and dreams, but I do know that change is coming.  I heard the bells ring this morning, and I can’t “unhear” them.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear friends.  Go, enjoy your loved ones.  Find someone or a whole bunch of someones and love them like crazy this week and every week from here, on…

xo,

Kristi

 

To read the devotional that was born from this post, please start here: Simply Noel: December 1 – Put on Hope