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.

rice

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

 

Simply Noel: December 21 – The Man in Red

Simply Noel:

December 21 – The Man in Red

Santa Claus. St. Nick. The Man in Red.

When we became parents seven Christmases ago, I remember asking my husband for his thoughts on Santa Claus. As Christians, should we be upholding all-things-Santa? All of a sudden, I was so nervous to dive into the realm of fantasy with my children, and I couldn’t remember when I stopped believing as a child myself, or how I even felt about it all. I recall posting my questions on Facebook, and I remember the assurance I received from a multitude of other Christ-loving, God-honoring parents – Yes, we “do Santa,” and the “magic of Christmas” and the “spirit of Christmas” go hand and hand.

We take our girls to see Santa (or one of his secret helpers – we never know 😉 ) around this time each year, and fortunately, we have yet to receive any hard questions. Who knows what this year will hold. Our girls constantly surprise us. But, as I was thinking about Santa and the harder questions that could arise, I started thinking about his character and his attributes.

Thinking back to St. Nicholas, who it is said, gave to the poor out of the compassion and generosity of his own heart, it is easy to see how the love of God and the compassion of Christ reigning in his heart drove him to be such a generous and compassionate man.

Who is Santa Claus?

The giver of good gifts.

The man who can stop time itself to deliver gifts to children who believe all over the world.

A master observer and lover of children.

A jolly man, who sees you when you’re sleeping, awake, and knows if you’ve been naughty or nice.

A kind man.

A generous man.

A compassionate man.

A joyful man.

A man whose legacy has no end.

A man who gives gifts to the rich and poor alike.

A man in red.

I know another man who fits every, single one of these attributes – a different man in red. A man whose blood shed on the Cross, gave us everything we would ever need in this life. A man whose stripes and brokenness gave us every opportunity to have a life of wholeness. I know a man who gives good gifts…perfect gifts…every gift… I know a man who is joy and love personified. I know a man who knows my coming and my going. He knows when I rest and when I rise. I know a man whose conviction and mercy provoke me to kindness. I know a man whose existence is timeless. I know a man who loves us all the same. I know a man who is unrestrained by time and knows every detail of our lives, down to the number of hairs on our heads. I know the ultimate master and observer of children. I know this man in red.

And when I am asked the hard questions someday, I will be sure to tell my children that, “Yes. Santa Claus is very real. I just know Him by a different name.”

xo,

Kristi

red

Klover House Christmas:

Tomorrow we will be taking the girls to see Santa Claus. My hope is to help them rewrite their lists for the 10th time, and honestly, clean up our home! lol My messages have been encouraging you to take it easy this month and focus on what matters, and I hope that you’ve been able to do that a little more intentionally. I also realize that clutter and chaos add unnecessary stress to what is meant to be a simple and relaxing season. So, with that, I will use the help of my little elves tomorrow to straighten up our house before the big day. My goal is peaceful not perfect. We are going to work room-to-room, until our home feels peaceful. I’m not deep-cleaning anything. We are going to tidy up, take lots of little breaks (aka eat the chocolate from our missed Advent calendar days), and keep our moods upbeat in preparation for our evening with the Man in Red. 😉 I hope you enjoy your day today, too, and remember – keep it simple! xo

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.

 

 

Simply Noel: December 7 – Humble Pie

Simply Noel:

December 7 – Humble Pie

Last week, I found myself in an interesting situation.

One of my four children participates in speech therapy for a delay. When we first started, she was testing a year behind her age group. After just nine months of therapy, she had grown tremendously, testing just months shy of her goals.

When we first began the visits, our therapist promptly told us about what they call the “Medical Loophole.” Children receiving services can qualify for financial assistance, regardless of their caretakers’ salaries. We were also under the impression that our copay for each visit was just $15. Being the stubborn person that I am, I shrugged off the advice to seek aid, and thought, “We can handle that.” I didn’t want to “take from the system” if we could manage. Meanwhile, we are a family of six (one in diapers), living paycheck to paycheck on a single income. It can be so stressful for my husband at times. Any little help, in hindsight, would have been a relief for him.

Six months into her visits, with momentum building and our therapist encouraging us to add a pre-school readiness class to our itinerary, we received a letter. The letter was actually a bill for a mind-blowing amount of money. Apparently, our copayment was not the $15 that I had been faithfully paying each week, but rather, it was a whopping $50 per visit. So, in my ignorance, I had been accumulating a substantial debt for our family at an exponential rate.

All that to say, all of a sudden, the Loophole wasn’t just a “help,” it was a necessity. After forgetting for weeks, I applied online and was directed to submit some additional paperwork in person at the local Welfare Department. I put it off and put it off. Why was I dragging my feet? The answer was simple – my procrastination was pride.

Finally, on the very last day of the deadline, I picked up my older two daughters at school, while my mother watched the younger ones, and I headed reluctantly into town.

I had never been there before, so at first, I went to the wrong side of town, paid for a parking meter that I didn’t need, and walked the street with my kids in the frigid air. After realizing my mistake, we got back in the car and found the right location. Flustered and cold (because none of us were wearing our coats, even though it was freezing), we entered the office and took a number. We were quickly attended to, but there was a problem – it was the final day of the deadline, and our application was already denied. Probably aware of my distress, the woman behind the counter told us to take a seat, and she left the room.

I’m a germophobe, so the three of us huddled in the corner instead. As we waited, a straight-faced security guard looked at me and said sternly, “Don’t go anywhere when you’re finished.” I nodded and said, “Ok,” completely confused by his directive.

After only a few minutes, the woman returned and said that our caseworker agreed to look at our forms, and she handed me a card with some contact information written on it. I thanked her as genuinely as I could, and looked over at the guard. He motioned with his finger to follow him, and we did. He led us into a back room with tables lined in boxes.

“What sizes are your girls?”

“Sizes?”

“For coats. What sizes do they wear? I’ve got coats for them.”

My brain went into a tailspin. Coats? We weren’t wearing any. All of us had on cardigans on this cold afternoon.

I wanted to tell him that the girls’ coats were in the car. I wanted him to know that we weren’t in need. I wanted to tell him that I was able to give them a coat and to save them for someone else.

And I couldn’t.

I couldn’t say any of it.

The Lord, in that moment, handed me a warm slice of Humble Pie.

All of these months, I had been denying help, and here we were, standing in the Welfare Office, receiving coats from “Operation Warm.” It was as low as my prideful self could go – to be seen as a mother who couldn’t afford to clothe her babies appropriately for the winter… And to think, there are so many parents out there who, because of circumstances beyond their control, can’t clothe themselves or their children appropriately. How it must break their hearts. How it must eat at their souls. One of our deepest desires as parents is to care for our babies, and care for them well.

So, I took my slice of Humble Pie, and I gulped it down. I smiled at the man, thanked him as genuinely as I could, and I left him with a, “God bless you, sir.”

“We take care of our kids,” he replied.

My daughter wore her new coat to school the next day, and I so badly did not want her to. I was quickly reminded of that pie. Did I need another serving?

No, Lord, I understand.

Father, thank you for the blessings in our lives. Thank you for the men and women out there who are clothing families in need. Thank you for bold and unexpected reminders to live with thankful hearts.

What’s your Humble Pie?

We all struggle with some area in our lives. There’s a place in each of us, I’m sure, that has become an, “I’ve got this, but thanks” spot. Maybe it’s keeping up with a task at work? Maybe you’re desperately treading water at home? Maybe you’re juggling schooling, and parenting, and a job? Maybe it’s a secret issue – a sin issue – and you’re too afraid to confide in someone? Maybe you need help financially, but you feel ashamed admitting it? Maybe it’s as simple as thinking, “Cooking for Christmas Eve overwhelms me, and I wish I could lighten the load.” Big or small, I believe that we all have a slice of pie set aside for us on Heaven’s pantry shelf.

Keep your eyes open and your spirit listening this holiday season. It’s a beautiful thing to give, but if you need to be the one on the receiving end, that’s a good thing, too. Remember, where there is a receiver, there is a giver, and when we receive – be it money, a gift, a coat, or even grace – the Giver is blessed, just as we are, if not more so.

xo,

Kristi

humble

 

Klover House Christmas:

A friend in my daughter’s class is participating in a local coat drive. Since we have been blessed with coats this year, today, I will gather our extra coats and coats that the children have outgrown to give to her tomorrow.

If you have a Model Cleaners in your area, please consider taking your old coats to them this week. The company has launched a “Coats for Kids” Coat Drive, and you can give them your coats in as-is condition. They will take them off of your hands and dry-clean the coats at no cost to you. Then, they handle delivering the coats to the Salvation Army. The deadline this year is December 9th, but if you miss the deadline, please consider dropping your coats off at the Salvation Army, as well.

Also, if your child or a child you know is in need of a warm coat this winter, please consider laying your pride aside, if it is holding you back, and visit your local Welfare Office. These are kind, caring people, and I am an example of someone who is not “in the system,” and yet, a compassionate soul saw a need and took action to meet it. There are coats there for your children. Don’t let shame hold you back from a Christmas blessing.

God bless you, friends. Love you all! xo

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

Just a few days into December and we’re already halfway finished with our Christmas shopping. Usually, we are part of the Christmas-Eve-Scramble crowd, but I decided that this year, we were going to keep it simple and knock it out early.

As I was chatting on the phone with my sister-in-law about gifts the other day, something struck me. We were talking about going in on a gift for our grandmother, and the ideas came so effortlessly. It didn’t matter that one of the things we had decided to buy her costs less than ten dollars on Amazon. We knew what she needed and what she liked, because we know her. Like really know.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but, I only know my grandparents’ likes and dislikes so well, because of how much time we spent together growing up, not because I’m a stellar grandchild now. Before social media and cell phones, when we had this magical thing called “free time,” we sat and hung out at their houses for hours, multiple times a week. We talked about life and family and current events. I know what kind of lotion my grandmother used, because I saw it faithfully in her bathroom and smelled it with each hug. I know the brand of coffee my other grandmother preferred, because I would sit and sip it with her as we played cards together. I know all of their favorite TV shows, where they like to shop, and what kind of music they enjoy. I know them. And even though I talk with other family members daily on Facebook and see them at every family function, I can hardly say I know them as well. Like really know.

So, my heart this year is to give gifts that attempt to say, “I know you.” In the past, I was so concerned with dollar amounts and allowing them to translate to value. The value of the item correlated to the value of the person, so by December 25th, we were miserably broke and somewhat still dissatisfied with our gifts. This year, however, I know that my grandmother loves Elvis, so it doesn’t matter that his gospel CD is just around five dollars on Amazon. I know my one nephew loves tractors. It doesn’t matter that he probably already owns twenty, and the one we liked for him wasn’t the most expensive in the store… This year, dollar signs aren’t going to determine value for us – we are going to show our loved ones their value, by getting to know them better and letting our gifts reflect that more intentionally.

Imagine that you walk into a room full of gifts, none of them have price tags… what would you give? Maybe the best gift in the room is the priceless one we call “time.” For that sibling, to whom you always give a Starbucks card – what if you randomly showed up at their house with their favorite drink in hand? That grandparent that loves puzzles – could you spare an hour to sit and do one together?

As God is working on my heart and mind in regards to gift-giving, I started thinking about His gift to us. It cost him no amount of silver or gold, but it was everything – His Son. The creator of the universe could have given his children all of the riches and material possessions the world had to offer. He could have given us unimaginable treasures, but instead, He gave us a baby in a manger – a small, innocent child, who would grow up to lay down his own life for ours.

No amount of money can say, “I love you.” The best gifts have no price tag. The best gifts say, “I know you.”

gift

Klover House Christmas:

I realize that the greatest gift I can give my children is my undivided attention. As a mom of four, I feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around. My hope today is to spend an extra chunk of time with each of my girls – time to sit, talk, listen and observe. Time to get to know them better. Is her favorite color still orange? What’s her favorite book? Are those flecks of green or gold in her eyes?

How often do you give yourself a chance to just sit and get to know someone these days? I’m with these people all day, every day, serving them and loving them. Time to put the to-do lists aside and give priority to knowing them.

 

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

Dear Sunshine… A Letter to You on Your 5th Birthday

Isla Rae – my bright and shining one…

I can’t believe that we are celebrating your 5th birthday this morning. Where have these sweet years gone? I know we have so many good times ahead, and I look forward to the beautiful experiences we will share together as you grow and continue to bloom into this amazing person, but as I kissed your head tonight once you drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t help but to feel this pang of regret. I knew I had to write this to you before the sun came up and we became distracted by that glorious heap of chocolate donuts waiting for you on the dining room table.

sunshine

I missed you, Isla. Somewhere in those precious early days, I lost you in a fog of exhaustion and pain. My body wasn’t good to me when you needed me most. I could cry when I think of all of those irreplaceable pictures forever lost on that water-logged hard drive of the Mac in the basement. (Take note: Don’t keep your laptop on a bedside table nestled next to a tall glass of ice water…) I need those more than ever today, as I try so hard to remember you so new and so miraculous. Thank goodness for Facebook in that case. I have bits and pieces to look back on and cherish. So many snapshots of our days together. Some images are forever sealed in my memory. I can close my eyes and see you curled like a snail in my Serena & Lily pouch. The image takes me back to that quiet walk through town. You were just five weeks old. I looked down at you, fast asleep at my belly, and I knew I never wanted to forget what you felt like, in your smallness. If I take the time to remember, I can actually feel your weight, as if I’m holding you right now. How did you grow up so quickly?

Isla NB

I remember how alone I felt during many of our nights. Consoling you in the middle of the night seems like a distant dream. The aches and pains that plagued me robbed us of so much and the stress of life’s circumstances stole my thoughts from you almost constantly. And although I know you don’t remember, I decided to take on babysitting from our home, which definitely took a toll on the time we spent together, as well. I was reminded of all of that tonight, and, even though you couldn’t possibly recall those moments, I knew I had to tell you how sorry I am that our story didn’t start out better.

But before you think that this is the worst letter that a mom could ever write to her daughter on her birthday, I have to tell you something that will make all of that worth it.

Because of the pain…the distractions…the busyness…the trials…

Because of your mysterious, quiet spirit that has been from day one…

I got to fall in love with you, Isla Rae.

Of course I instantly loved you from the moment I knew of you, and that love became even more tangible once you were in my arms, but you were the child that I had to learn. And in that learning, I grew a love for you that has been so unique. It took work. While I sorted through my new self, I had to discover you, too. Your serious expressions, your smirks, and grins – all foreign to this heart-on-the-sleeve mama. I had to learn you, Isla, and it took effort and it took time. Today, as you turned five, I am a puddle. I am a puddle of emotions realizing how absolutely and utterly in love I am with you, precious child. I know you so deeply, and yet you are still such a mystery to me some days. Because I had to work so hard at cracking the code to your heart and spirit from the start, and at such a vulnerable time in our journey, I feel as though it is in you that I am so extra carefully and intentionally rooted. Not a day passes that you don’t completely intrigue and amaze me, and I adore you.

isla2b

 

I love you more than chocolate donuts and Oreo Blizzards.

I love you more than “lippies” and nail polish.

I love you more than pony tails and haircuts.

I love you more than cake and ice cream.

I love you more than dresses and pool days.

I love you more than music and cooking.

I love you more than Red Robin and shopping.

I love you more than Christmas and birthdays.

All those things YOU love…I love you more than that. Forever.

 

I love the way you wake me up every morning and you sound exactly like your daddy, telling me to come downstairs and make you breakfast. lol

I love how I’m one of the few people that you willingly smooch on the lips.

I love that you are strong, yet remarkably tender.

I love that you randomly beg me to slow dance with you, and you let me hold you on my hip while we twirl.

I love that you love only banana yogurt and have the best taste in shoes.

I love that you say the strangest things pretty much all of the time. There’s no one even remotely close to having your humor.

I love that you are my chef-in-training for just about every meal cooked in our little kitchen. Someday, when I’m older, and you are in your own home, I will probably beg to come over just so we can cook together like “when you were little.”

I love that the kitten makes you jumpy. I knew you couldn’t be that cool cucumber ALL of the time. 😉

I love that you love to have your hair curled and remind me to grab the hairspray every time. You’re well beyond your years in the hair department.

I love that you love to shop and I look forward to the days that you’ll help me to look more presentable.

I love that you love your sisters and always put them before yourself. You show such maturity in that way.

I love that you keep us on our toes – your dad and me. Although, I better never see you climbing the windows again. 😉

I love your face. You are adorably stunning or stunningly adorable, probably both.

I love that you’re mine and I’m your’s.

isla1b

 

I may have been a mess off and on these first five years, but I’m better now, and you have my heart, little girl. I’m so proud of who you are, and I’m so blessed to be your mom.

Happy Birthday, Sunshine. I can’t wait to celebrate you today.