Tuesday, April 30, 2013

{God-sized Dreams} Dear Dreamers ...

Thanks, Beth, for the mail love this week.
I'm thankful you're in my life. And I'm oh-so glad there is more than one of you.

You're the ones who live this extraordinarily ordinary life with me. You're the ones on the other side of this computer screen who weave words together in a way that speak directly to me. You're the ones who help me raise my kids. You're the ones who come to my parties and support my crazy ideas. You're the ones who teach me and encourage me and brainstorm with me.

You meet me at Zaxby's on the night kids eat free and we have seven kids between the two of us for just this one night. We catch up in broken sentences while we parent the seven who are 6 and younger around two tables.

You send me mail just because, but it arrived at the beginning of my birthday week alongside a package from a favorite relative of mine. My kids and I enjoyed the new tunes on the way to school this morning because of your generosity. And I'm looking for the perfect home for your beautiful photo that speaks some of my favorite truth from Romans 8:28: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

You write me conversational emails that make you living far away bearable. You leave me lingering voice mails that make me momentarily feel like I'm sitting on a couch with you. You've seen me grow up. You've seem me make life-changing choices. You've sat around my kitchen table.

You have just the kind of link-ups I need to recognize that God is working and has so many stories to tell, and not always in the ways I expect. You leave comments and encouragement. You affirm the lessons I'm learning with stories from your own life.

You married me. You cared for me. You've loved me in my worst moments. You've stood by me and cheered for me. You've laughed and cried and dreamed and traveled with me. You make courageous decisions that are building a legacy.

You -- the collective you -- help me in this life. You inspire me and motivate me. I honestly don't know how I'd do life without you. You're brave and bold and willing and available. You text me and bless me when I'm worn down. You are missed when we have to readjust to a new season. You hear my rants and love me anyway. You are you. And that's just the kind of dreamers I need in my life.

Tuesdays are God-sized Dream days around here and I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley Gerth's blog. \So many names and faces came into my head with this week's  challenge to write a letter of encouragement to another dreamer, yet I kept coming back to this collective community of people who don't necessarily know each other but together truly spur me on in my everyday life. 

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Without rest, I get stuck.

For a couple hours this afternoon, I felt like I won the boy-momma lottery. I had three boys -- two of whom are 3 1/2 years old and another who is 22 months -- asleep at the same time. While two brothers snoozed in beds that weren't their own while their own momma worked toward birthing their baby sister and my own boy slept, I worked on a magazine article and tended to multiple loads of laundry.

And during that time I also remembered how I sat on the front porch Saturday night after a good day with my family and some of our best friends.

Flipping through my calendar and thinking about my to-do list overwhelmed me. I hadn't slept well for a couple nights. And I felt like I didn't have anything else to give. It seemed ridiculous, really, but I suddenly felt smothered. 

So I just froze last week and it caught up with me Saturday. I tried to pick a fight with my husband. I came home from my friend's house and cleaned my kitchen like a control freak needing to restore order. And while it was nice to get the dishes done, the disorder was really in my own mind. I sat on the porch swing outside while the rain fell just outside the shelter of my front porch.

I left some junk out there. I realized while I'm extrovert, I still need to regroup and remember and realize and relax. My husband told me he understood how I felt because we've been married 10 years {closer to 11 now ...} and I get like this every three to four months. I wanted to dispute his assessment of this habit of mine, but, well, I really couldn't. He was right. I give and work and plan and go and ... then I freeze. I feel overwhelmed and drained and worn out.

That night on the front porch and the couple night's of really great sleep that followed were good for me. I need to do a better job of taking more frequent breaks. Just mental time-outs. Otherwise I start feeling like a boat that is stuck in a field of grass when it's really meant to be exploring out on the water. Stuck.

Truth is, rest is good for everyone. Even the Creator of it all rested on the seventh day. For me, resting is acknowledging I can't {and shouldn't ...} try to do it all while recognizing my purpose. It's remembering I'm not really in control anyway. Resting is realizing deep breaths, intentional pauses, boundaries with my time, and personal priorities are necessary. The truth is easier to find that way.

I'm linking up with Jen's Soli Deo Gloria PartyWant more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Like 152 Insights on Facebook. Or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Welcoming a new cousin-friend ...

A couple years ago, Cate would confuse which kids were her cousins and which ones were her friends. She'd call friends cousins and cousins friends. I would clear up the difference, and then tell her cousins can be friends and friends can be like family.

And, you know, truth is, I'm really grateful we have friends who my kids already consider family and family they think of as friends. 

My two have known Jaclyn's three for all their little lives. Other than Cate, who was born in Indiana, they all met each other the day they were born. They didn't know it at the time, but they're just part of each other's lives. Ben doesn't know life without Davey, who is Sarah's first born. They were born 3 1/2 weeks apart and have shared many meals and toys since.

They have six cousins on the Taylor side and two on the Hill side. And they all get excited to be together. Cate is looking forward to most of the girl cousins coming to her birthday party this weekend. She is in the top middle of the pack and especially adores 9-year-old Milla and 7-year-old Ethne.

Well, the newest cousin just arrived! Charlie Gunter Taylor was born at 10:42 p.m. Wednesday, April 24. He weighed 8 lbs. Just after meeting him Thursday, my kids asked questions about babies and births and I loved sharing some of their stories with them.

Cate was all about holding Charlie. Ben was distracted by the documentary about alligators on the TV at the hospital, but he finally decided holding his new cousin wasn't so bad. Although that documentary was really interesting, especially if Uncle Charles would hold his baby ...

So, yes, my kids have a new cousin, but I'm guessing in the long run they'll have a new friend too. Perhaps Ben can tell him about alligators one day.


Speaking of babies, did you read my adoption story over at Gindi's blog? God really does hear the desires of our hearts. Gindi's shared her story about becoming a mom here. It's a wonderful reminder that God protects us and really does know what is best for us. 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

{Guest Post} The Long Journey to Motherhood

As part of an encouraging God-sized dreamers' group, Gindi and I connected over our infertility stories. Our stories have so many shared emotions. We became mommas in different ways, but we can relate to each other's journey. I'm happy to have Gindi sharing her story here today while I share mine over at her blog

I'm a dreamer. It's actually how I met Kristin. We're dreaming God-sized dreams together. But the only vivid dream I had from childhood that I carried with me into adulthood was becoming a mother. Growing up, I told my mom I wanted to have 12 kids. I babysat, ran church nurseries, worked as a nanny in high school and college, and taught Sunday School to two year olds after I became a lawyer.

I love children. When Bray and I married, we had six nieces and nephews which I spoiled and adored. We both knew we wanted children and started trying nearly immediately. When we didn't get pregnant after months of trying, we decided to get everything checked out. That led to us receiving the news that we would likely never conceive on our own before we'd even celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary.

I know disappointment. Taking temperatures and charting cycles. We did that for a while. We moved to IUIs because we weren’t comfortable with the invasive nature of IVF. We did three rounds. Every month those negative pregnancy tests nearly killed me. I stopped going to baby showers because I couldn’t smile. I had to skip church Sundays if there were baptisms because I couldn’t stop crying.

I know the longer the battle goes on the harder it is to believe that you could have children. I know it’s hard to pray brave prayers. I know it’s hard to believe that God could work a miracle. I actually questioned my faith and God’s love during our multi-year battle. And I’m the daughter and granddaughter of a minister. But if I wasn't designed to be a mom, then who was I?

Toward the end, my friends had to pray brave prayers. People prayed brave bold miracle asking prayers for us when I was out of faith. When I was skeptical. When I was too scared to hope anymore. I truly went into this “last chance” believing we wouldn’t have kids, yet hoping against all odds that I was wrong.

Do you know one of the miracles revealed? Two years after trying, I decided to stop. I had a great marriage and I didn't want the treatments to consume who we were. But Bray encouraged me to have one other investigative procedure that was a little more invasive in that I had to be put to sleep for my doctor to make sure he had actually caught all the complications we were having.

During this minimally invasive procedure, they found a tumor in my uterus. They had to call Bray and get permission to cut me open and get it out. The tumor was benign but growing. And had I become pregnant during those two years, the hormones would have fed it, causing it to grow and crush any baby that was growing. The Lord had his hand over me and kept us from getting pregnant so we didn't suffer miscarriages.

You cannot see His hand in the middle of the fight. But His hand is there.

One year later we had triplets. They are 3. They are my whole heart. They are my biggest blessing. And a daily reminder of God still doing modern day miracles. They. Are. Miracles.

I have no idea what will happen if you are struggling with having children of your own. That's what I love about connecting to Kristin. We are living proof that God works His plan in different ways for different people. God opened up adoptions for her family. A fellow dreamer of ours now sees her books and mentees as her children because her infertility struggle had a totally different ending.

But I know this. He is there. His hand is in this. Whatever your "this" is. Hang in there. And keep the faith.


Gindi Eckel Vincent is a full-time attorney for a global energy company and a part-time speaker and writer, particularly for working moms. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and precocious 3-year-old triplets. She blogs daily at www.gindivincent.com and her first book on leadership, "Learning to Lead," releases Aug. 1.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

{Out of the Blue} A surprise snapshot

My hometown sits on the sprawling edge of a big city, my state's biggest, actually. Yes, I lived in a rural community as a kid, but I didn't know anything about actual country living until I married Greg. Many years ago, his parents built their dream home on a farm just south of the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, where my cell phone doesn't usually work and sometimes a key road sign is laying down after a storm. The well water tastes good and the view of natural beauty calms my soul.

And my kids really like it there too.

Sometimes in the afternoon at our own house in town, they ask to watch movies and play games on a my phone. I tell them to go play with something else and each other instead. They usually do. But it's like they can't figure out what they want to do. They have toys, more toys than any kid needs. Ben wants to disrupt Cate's creative energy of drawing and writing and coloring. And Cate wants to know what's happening next and how her little brother can be properly occupied until she's ready to play with him.

Thankfully, it's been nice out, so they've found entertainment with each other out in the back yard. It's a taste of what it's like out on Gran-Gran's farm. {I also thought "farm" applied to animals, but now in my small town farther away from any major city limits I understand it can also mean large pieces of land. Although, Greg's dad did once have cows, which have made of many family stories.}

Out on Gran-Gran's farm, the kids seem more willing to run and play and explore and share and imagine. I can read and dream out there while hearing my kids playing in the distance. There is room there. Room to roam. Room to think. Room to slow down.

{This is where we recently celebrated Easter, which is when the joy-filled four-wheeling picture above was snapped, and Greg's 35th birthday.}

Yes, this surprises me, the girl who thought her dream was live in the hustle and bustle of a big-city newsroom. I'm not sure I'd hear the giggles and impromptu playing, see the smiles and relaxed interaction, or experience the peace like I do on Gran-Gran's farm had I not surrendered my life to the One who knows my dreams better than I do myself.

I feel created for this life. The one right here in a small town on the winding edge of farmland. The one with these people who call me wife, momma, Aunt Kristin, daughter and friend. And even though I know this is where I'm meant to be, I still find myself pleasantly surprised.

I'm linking up with Kristen at Chasing Blue Skies. This is the third in what has become a little mini-series on my small-town life. {The other two are A Good Goodbye and Jumping In.} Obviously, the fact I love where I am continues to surprise me. 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

{Treat} 25% off Mother's Day cards

Mother's Day Cards from Treat

Mother's Day is almost here. Yes, really. 

Whether you're looking for a card for your mom, your wife, grandmother, sisters, or in-laws, Treat has the card for you. Its
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The best part is that right now you can get 25% off all Mother's Day orders by using the code TREATMOM25 by 11:59 Pacific Time on Tuesday, April 30. 

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

{God-sized Dreams} Celebrating life

Just across the state line in Tennessee on my mother-in-law's farm, we celebrated my husband's 35th birthday with four-wheeler rides and fishing. Those are the manly equivalent to party games, you know. We invited our dearest friends, soaked up the beautiful spring day, ate delicious food, caught up with stories and laughter. You know, we were doing what my husband wanted to do. I didn't touch a fishing pole or sit on the four-wheeler, but it was a fabulous day that included so many people and moments I love.

Yes, please notice the boots. They are the snake-proof boots Greg requested. I think he's been watching a tad too much "Duck Dynasty," but he was so proud of himself for traipsing into a pond and coming out dry. Apparently this birthday party venue is going to become tradition, so they'll get at least annual use. And, really, I love that we're establishing traditions for adult birthdays in our 30s.

This electric truck made its way out for the party. These cousins filled its bed for the first drive around the farm, but they made plenty of room for friends later in the afternoon.

Yes, I realize I need to worry when he's 16. It took him about 3 minutes to figure out how to move the lever to the faster of the two forward speeds. I've mentioned Ben is all boy. He's rough and messy and loud and always on the move. The Farm was a good place for him to run free, collect sticks, be introduced to Dodge Ball, eat where the birds would clean up his crumbs, and chase his friends. Seeing my boy in his element makes me understand him more. 

Y'all. We have the best friends a family could have. Hands down. These are the people who know my weaknesses, hear about my hard days, help me in ordinary moments, and make me laugh the hardest on the best of days.

And she's one of the very best. Jaclyn and I have been through so many seasons of life since we were single girls in college. And, you know, sometimes it's really nice to just sit on a porch together. 

Speaking of sitting on the porch, that's where I was before our friends arrived when my kids were playing on the swing set and with sticks and Greg was testing the fishin' waters. And I read almost half of "Sparkly Green Earrings" by Melanie Shankle {aka Big Mama}. Then I finished the book the next day. Yes, reading a book in two days in this season of life means I couldn't put it down and I recommend it to you, fellow mommas. It's about becoming a momma and being a momma. Sometimes putting this job into words is impossible, but this book does it with funny, heart-warming stories.

Cate and our friend Chloe planned some singing and dancing program. None of us watching really have any idea what it was about, but seeing these two first-born girls bond over public silliness makes me, the once-so-very-shy girl, smile so big.

So, yes, my husband had a fabulous 35th birthday party. But the day was also oh-so good for my soul, which had felt tired and weary. And then I remembered that's what sharing life is really all about. 

For this week's God-sized Dreams post, Holley Gerth asked us to take time to play. I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley's blog. You'll find encouragement, truth and community there. 

I'm also linking up with Soli Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven Today.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

What's on your ...

This post is inspired by one Ali Edwards wrote last week. I tweaked my list a little, but it's a fun way to document the right now in my life. 

Perennial to-do list :: Scrapbook. Organize pictures that I've printed. Put together a hanging display for postcards. Mop and clean the toilets and showers also hang over my head.

Refrigerator shelves :: Left over deviled eggs. Milk that I bought on the way to school this morning and then proceeded to pour some into my preschooler's cup. Coke Zero. Lettuce. Beef thawing for dinner tonight.

Front porch :: A bird made a nest. Less pollen because the lawn care guy blew off the porch.

Nightstand :: Kindle. "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.

Calendar :: Carpool this afternoon. Greg turns 35 today. Cate and I also have birthdays within the next two weeks. Four more weeks of school for Cate. Three more school days for Ben.

Dream itinerary :: Pretty much anywhere, especially places that are warm.

Playlist :: "Promise of Summer" by Jackopiece.

iPhone :: Map My Run. Instagram. Words with Friends. Facebook. Twitter. Texting. ShopShop.

Workout plan :: Run a few times a week in preparation for a 5K on May 25. I ran 2.09 miles this morning.

Bucket list :: Load up my family in an RV and travel to all the MLB stadiums during baseball season. Write a book.

Mind :: Dear friend Sarah and sister-in-law Angela are expecting babies soon, like this week. People I want to make plans with. A neighborhood party. Updating our adoption home study, again.

DVR :: "The Good Wife" is all we really record these days, but we're caught up. I don't really expect to watch the "Mob Doctor" episodes, but we haven't deleted them yet.

Blogroll :: Jennifer Dukes Lee. Chasing Blue Skies. Big Mama. Jen Hatmaker. {Just to name a few ...}

To-read list :: "Desperate: Hope for a Weary Mom" by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson {And the Kindle version is just $3.99 today!}. "Interrupted" by Jen Hatmaker. "You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)" by Jeff Goins.

Tell me about your right now.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

{Tiny Prints} Teacher Appreciation Deals

Cate has four more weeks of kindergarten. Our first "real" year of school is almost over. Whew. Time has flown by.  Even so, I'm looking forward to a break in our routine and time at the pool. But I'm also grateful for my girl's teacher and principal, who has become my friend. Without even knowing they were doing so, they have affirmed time and time again that this small, private school is where our family needs to be. 

I've seen teachers work outside the classroom. My momma is a retired fifth-grade teacher. Yes, she had summers off, but, goodness, she worked hard those other nine months of the year. She had stacks of papers to grade, lesson plans to make, and students who relied on her for more than learning about Paul Revere and multiplication tables. 

So, let's hear it for the teachers! 

May 7 is the official Teacher Appreciation Day. And a great way to show your thanks is with a card and a simple, but meaningful gift. 

Teacher Appreciation Day on Tiny Prints 

Tiny Prints has a great promotion tomorrow and Monday {April 21 and 22} for 25% off all of their custom gifts, such as mugs, always a teacher favorite. You can choose from hundreds of designs for each gift type, personalize them with your child's photo or class photo, and write your own text.

Just use the promo code TAD25 at checkout by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday to save 25%. That is also the last day for guaranteed delivery by May 6.

And for the card, check out Treat, where you can get a completely customized, photo card for only $3.49. They have almost 40 designs specifically for Teacher Appreciation Day, not to mention hundreds of thank you card designs.

If you are buying multiple cards, check out their Treat Card Club packs. A 6-card plan costs only $2.49 per card, a 12-card plan only $2.24 per card, and an 18-card plan only $1.99 per card.

And don't forget to thank a teacher. 


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Friday, April 19, 2013

{Five Minute Friday} Jump!

Aug. 9, 2011. Ben was still more than 3 months from turning 2, but jumping didn't scare him.

I'm participating in Five Minute Friday, a link-up writing prompt at Lisa-Jo Baker's blog. This week the prompt is "Jump ..." I used five minutes in the pick-up car line at my daughter's school to write this. It's funny to me the word is "Jump" because just yesterday I posted about jumping into the lake

Five minutes starts now. 

GO ...

Five Minute FridayMy life is punctuated with more dashes, commas and periods than exclamation points. I just don't literally jump around much. I don't like to be the center of attention, cause potential embarrassment to myself, or dance.

That doesn't mean I don't feel joy.

I remember when I was a kid negotiating with myself after whether I'd go off the high dive. I was like a fish, but I was a little nervous about the free fall from way up there.

I did. And I did it again and again. Summer after summer. I even bungy jumped while tethered to my husband many years later after I convinced myself to go up that ladder to the high dive. Sometimes joy is like that. It comes after some persuasion and choices.

Now I watch my kids, especially my boy, jump right in to the water. And life. They don't have fear like I did when I was their age. And that makes me want to jump.


Want to join us? Here are Lisa-Jo's rules: 1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. 2. Link back here and invite others to join in. 3. Please visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their comments. That is like the one rule we all really care about.


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Thursday, April 18, 2013

{Out of the Blue} Jumping in

I didn't picture myself here. When I had a media badge hanging around my neck not long after we first moved here, people gave me directions by describing what used to be on such-and-such corner or where Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So lived. Parades go down Main Street at least for times a year and we can walk to our unofficial parade-watching place from our house that faces one of the two parks here.

Even when I settled into this small town, somewhere I said I'd never be, I still wasn't sure about the lake. Snakes and fish live in lakes. I wasn't going to swim with them. "I'm a beach girl," I'd tell my husband, who once majored in fisheries biology before opting for a radio-television degree on his way to law school.

Then I gradually fell in love with The Lake.

This week Kristen at Chasing Blue Skies prompts: Tell me about a place that surprised you by how much you liked it. Write about how you didn’t expect to love it and why you now do. 

{This week is almost like a continuous of last week's Out of the Blue post for me.}

The Lake. Kentucky Lake. It's the largest man-made lake in terms of surface area {160,308 acres} in the United States east of the Mississippi River.

It's big. And yes, there are many fish in it. I still am geographically challenged when I'm out on the water in a pontoon boat someone else is driving. But I've found a home there. It may be created by a man who decided to damn a river, but I still see the beauty of the Creator there. 

Reading and rest come easily from the back porch that overlooks the quiet bay that I've decided isn't so bad to swim in. The kabobs my husband grills over charcoal out there taste better sitting on that porch. Several years ago, I first went tubing, holding on tightly with my arms intertwined with my dear friend Holly's arms. This act of being pulled swiftly on top of the water, knowing I could fall off into The Lake has become my favorite activity out there.

We make memories there with friends. And we invite others in. {Seriously, you could fall in love too. The Gathering Place is available for rent.} We've lived here almost a decade. Yes, this small-town life has surprised me over and over again, but falling in love with The Lake is one of the best surprises of all.

I'm linking up with Kristen at Chasing Blue Skies. Her Out of the Blue series on surprises has been so good for me. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Like 152 Insights on Facebook. Or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

{No More Perfect Moms} Reclaiming dinner with some help

"I really wanted to make this chicken enchilada recipe I found. I really wanted to eat dinner at home."

Those were the words in a text I sent my husband last week during the 3 1/2 hours I waited to see my doctor only to have her tell me I needed to actually see a different doctor. Mourning my meal came on the heels of carpool drama and medical frustrations.

Dinner just didn't happen around our table last week. Monday there was an adult-only dinner at the private school our daughter attends so Greg and I ate there while my mother-in-law fed Cate and Ben. I don't remember what happened Tuesday, but we ended up going out. There was planned dinner out after t-ball practice on Wednesday evening.

And then there was Thursday, when I didn't get home until a few minutes after 6 just as Greg was getting ready to walk out the door to a meeting. My sweet mother-in-law who had been at my house since 2:15 so I could go to my doctor's appointment had waited until I got home so she could treat us all to dinner. Except I was at the doctor so long my husband couldn't join us. But Cracker Barrel tasted oh-so good after the afternoon with too much waiting and too little carpool communication.

We headed out of town Friday after school, so we got dinner on the way. We ate out all weekend with friends and family we don't see often enough. Then we came home Sunday afternoon to few groceries, so we went through another drive-thru. And I prompted thawed some chicken for our next dinner together.

One of my favorite things about my husband is he never makes me feel like a wife/mom failure for not forcing a homecooked dinner around the table. He doesn't care when we eat store-bought ravioli with jarred spaghetti sauce and garlic bread from Kroger's bakery. In fact, he tells me how good it is. And he means it. There are things he doesn't love as much as me, but he eats them and doesn't tell me about what he wished we'd had.

But weeks like my last, when life bombards dinner time, I get frustrated and crave that time around our table that is stained with spills and etched with imperfections.

I know how to meal plan and freezer cook. And I've seen these strategies greatly improve the 4 o'clock hour in my house. Instead of trying to come up with a plan, I'm making sure the casserole is thawed and we have some canned green beans to go along side it. {Well, you know, when I remember to thaw the poppyseed chicken ...} But I've been at a loss at what to make. It tends to come with the new {warmer} season.

So, friends, I signed up for eMeals. I'm going to receive weekly meal plans {seven main dinner dishes and a suggested sides} in my inbox. And maybe my favorite part: There is a grocery list catered to my preferred grocery store and organized by area {you know, produce, meat, canned, frozen ...}. This will happen for six months, thanks to my $35. I'll evaluate then about whether to continue.

But that first meal plan helped inspire me. And so far so good. If nothing else, I'll have a new set of recipes from which to choose. Obviously dinnertime -- the actually act of sitting down together or the food itself -- won't ever be perfect but prioritizing this time for my family is important to us.

This post is inspired by Jill Savage's Hearts at Home Blog HopThis is another post in an ongoing series about how God's teaching me to embrace imperfection. My favorite book in this process has been Jill Savage's "No More Perfect Moms," which is on sale at Amazon for $8.88.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Start. And then start again.

Life is like a race. That's what I kept thinking when I read Jon Acuff's new book "Start." Through his witty but wise words, Acuff challenges readers to make their race awesome.

The starting line is the only line you completely control. The start is the only moment you’re the boss of. The finish? Don’t kid yourself. That’s months, if not years, away. You are going to meet dozens of people who are going to impact your finish. You are going to have countless opportunities, experiences, and challenges that dot the map of awesome you’re following. There are cliffs and rivers and jungles you can’t begin to fathom. You are going to stand on a mountaintop that is better than anything you ever dreamed and laugh at the idea that you thought you could plot out your finish.

{Jon Acuff in "Start"}

Starting is our choice. We have dreams and ideas. This book will make you want to get them from your head, onto paper, and into your life. At least it did me. It's a practical approach to a topic that is hard to wrap words around. And, personally, this book came at a good time. On the heels of Holley Gerth's "You're Made For a God-sized Dream," this dreaming business wasn't new to me and I was eager for more encouragement and direction. 

Jon Acuff tells some his own failures that led to successes and the people who helped him along the way. Of course, not everybody you meet will want to help you, but that's to be expected. Not everyone will get it. I appreciated his point that I shouldn't be running this race -- my race -- for anyone by me. And, well, God. But Acuff doesn't preach faith element, which, really, is OK because it doesn't aim to be that kind of book. 

Some people are going to be farther ahead. Others will be trying to catch you. Even so, focus on your race, what you're called to do. That doesn't mean everything will go as planned. There will be hurdles and obstacles and fun surprises and new friends and decisions and interruptions. That's got to be OK because the journey is an essential part of the race.

We want to plan the road to awesome. We want to talk about our ten-year visions. We want to detail every step before we take a single one. To make sure there’s no room for mistakes or failure. But when we do that, when we squeeze our lives and purposes that tightly, we eliminate any room for surprises. ... We scowl when people interrupt what we’re doing at work, grumble when neighbors want to talk at the mailbox, and curse momentary distractions to a day we’ve planned. The road to awesome, though, is defined by the surprises. It’s not a block in a downtown city laid out long ago by methodical city planners. It’s a rambling dirt road with twists and turns that offers something new at every corner. Let’s leave room on our maps for some surprises.

{Jon Acuff in "Start"}

Throughout the book, there is advice on what to do through each phase: Things can change. Have purpose. Rest. Realize you can't do it all. Try the things you think you want to do. Be brave. Have fun. It's about your heart, not the size of your audience. Find a mentor. Practice. Work hard. Volunteer. Take a break. Guide people. Start again. {Obviously he elaborates on all of these throughout the pages.}

You may get bumped. You may finish ahead of the pack. You may come in last. Either way, you'll have to start again.

I got a free electronic copy of "Start" for being part of the book's launch team, but I didn't promise anything more than my thoughts. In fact, the race analogy is mine. And those are my pictures from our trip to Keeneland this past week. 

"Start" officially releases Monday {April 22}, but if you pre-order it, you can get all kinds of FREE goodies {worth $250} to help inspire you. Your can also order it from Amazon and still receive the extras. {Details here.}

I'm also linking up to #TellHisStory with Jennifer Dukes Lee and other storytellers because this is the story that's been on my heart this year and one that God is obviously still teaching me. 

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

{God-sized Dreams} He's louder than the noise

My kids rested on me at Keeneland this weekend.

As a momma, quiet sometimes comes in small doses. Holley Gerth challenged us God-sized dreamers to set aside a particular time this week to be with the Giver of dreams to pray, journal, take a walk, or simply sit quiet and listen.

Honestly, my life hasn't been quiet lately. Have you met my kids? Goodness knows if you have, Cate has told you a story and Ben has interrupted hers to tell you one of his own and maybe growled in your face.

But it's not just my kids making noise.

I've had lots of inquiries and details to tend to for our vacation rental lake house and the one I manage for another property owner. A couple weeks ago, I officially became a freelance writer as I accepted two assignments for a local parenting magazine. I have three assignments for the coming month. I've been working on growing my blog. I still have book ideas popping in and out of my head.

And that's just the professional side of life. There's the wife and momma parts, which, you know, entail all sorts of job description. In just the last week, I've been a teacher, nurse, counselor, cook, maid, taxi driver, cheerleader, protector, banker, friend, partner, organizer, communicator, promoter, and shopper. And, really, these are the roles that matter most.

So, yeah, sometimes I have to go to the bathroom. Yes, I need to go. But sometimes I keep the door shut a few minutes longer, take a few deep breaths and return to this job of mine that is the best and hardest I've experienced.

A few times the quiet lasted longer than an extended stay in the bathroom while my kids inevitably needed something and told me about it from the other side of the door. One was when I waited much too long to see my doctor who really just directed me to another doctor farther away. I was frustrated and burdened with a miscommunication I could only partially handle via text. Yet I managed to come away with clarity on a couple areas related to my family, which is my first and dearest calling.

Another was when I decided to go sit on the porch swing with "Start" by Jon Acuff and ignore the noise and chores and lists. My boy slept, so I rested. Well, except the book kept my mind going, reassured me about life and challenged me to take next steps.

There were a couple runs in this spring weather that helped me clear my head, ponder truth and take a break from the many, many other things I could be doing.

Truth is, God meets me wherever I am. Sometimes I can hear him in the noise. Other times I have to shut the bathroom door. There are times I turn up the songs streaming from my iPhone to distract me from the other noise. Some days I'm so grateful for my kids' bedtime to come. And other days I'm counting down the days until summer break so I can have these kids of mine around more. God is mightier and louder than it all if we just seek him, even if {especially when?} our lives are noisy.

Tuesdays are God-sized Dream days around here and I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley Gerth's blog. You'll find encouragement, truth and community there. 

I'm also linking up with the Soli Deo Gloria party at Finding Heaven

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

{York Photo} Deals on gifts

Happy Mother's Day - Pick Your Offer: Order An 11X14 Designer Poster -- OR -- a 4X6 Softcover Photo Book For Only $2!I often give photo gifts to my mom. And my mother-in-law. And, really, anyone. So when there are deals, I like to figure out who can benefit from me making a personalized gift while not breaking the bank.

4X6 Softcover Photo Book For Only $2!If you've never ordered from York Photo, I have a couple new customer opportunities from York Photo that will be perfect for Mother's Day. {It's Sunday, May 12, if you need to make a note on your calendar.}

So, new York Photo customers, here are the details. Most notable, it's an either OR deal. So pick which deal you like best and go for it.

To get the 11-by-14 designer poster for $2, use THANKSMOM when you check out. Standard shipping is $2.49.

To get the 4-by-6 softcover photo book for $2, use PRAISEMOM when you check out. Standard shipping is $2.99.

With either deal, you'll get 40 FREE PRINTS when you open your account. Both coupons codes are for a one-time use and can't be combined with other codes. They expire May 3.

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{Compassion} Change a story

When I signed up to participate in Compassion Sunday, I didn't realize I'd get all these profiles of kids who needed to be sponsored. I mean, I know there are tons of precious pictures online. But to hold these packets in my hands is different.

I can't sponsor them all, but, goodness, I don't want to send them back after next week's Compassion Sunday. This day is a chance for church congregations to learn more about what Compassion International does and hear more personal testimony about how sponsoring a child is good for that child, obviously, but how it also changes your story here, where we have more than we could ever possibly need.

Waiting for sponsors are ...

Gisella, 4, in Indonesia
Esteban, 9, in Mexico
Lucia, 7, in Nicaragua
Ester, almost 4, in Tanzania
Damini, 9, in India
Milton, 10, in Guatemala
Patricia, 6, in Ghana
Sanju, 10, in India
Francisca, 9, in Brazil
Yakeline, 5, in Peru
Pehiagaing, 6, in India
Marilyn, 10, in Guatemala
Geremy, 4, in Nicaragua
Prince, 8, in Ghana
Sunil, almost 8, in India

For $38 a month, you can give a child what they need. They'll get educational, medical, social, practical and spiritual guidance and resources they didn't have before. Your regular financial contribution and the letters you exchange with your child will change a story there and here. {This $38 is tax-deductible and can be automatically deducted each month.}

I'm going to take these profiles and some stories of our own to our congregation on April 21. But, honestly, here's the deal: I go to a small church. It's a generous church, where several families already sponsor children through Compassion International. I hope a few more children get sponsors there. But I also want to ask you, this online extension of my community, to consider sponsoring a child. 

If you live in Murray, I invite you to come hold some of these profiles in your hand. Pick a country or name or birthdate that means something to you. Or pick a child who has been wanting longer than the others to be chosen. Or choose someone from that list up there and I'll get you the info you need to start a sponsorship. If you live elsewhere, go browse the online profiles. There you can search by country, sex, birthdate, and wait time.

And then there is Pedro in Brazil, who needs a sponsor and a smile.

Choose a child. And choose to change a story somewhere else and right here at home. 

You can learn more about Compassion International at its website. Want more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Like 152 Insights on Facebook. Or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Messy, imperfect motherhood

I'm thankful to be out of town this weekend visiting one of my dearest friends and watching thoroughbreds race at Keeneland, one of the most beautiful places and events Kentucky has to offer. But I thought I'd celebrate the weekend with by sharing some of my crazy, real week. 

Quite some time ago, I decided I didn't want to complain on Facebook. I didn't want my status updates to continually express that it was a hard day. Now, I often ask for advice because motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had. And I've recently let it be known I'm boycotting Walmart because of unhelpful, bad attitudes in the oil change department ... two days in a row!

But, thing is, life isn't perfect. Yes, Facebook captures more highlights than complaints, but, honestly, I'm happier and more content when I don't complain. And, you know, when you choose between two pictures, you're gonna go with the one that's more flattering. That doesn't mean my life or the people in it are perfect.

So I thought I'd share some stories from this week with you, just like I did in text messages to a few of my closest friends. Us mommas need to vent and share and laugh because motherhood is an adventure.

We lost our son in our own house. 
Yes, seriously. It was about 10:30 p.m. Monday night. Greg and I were finishing up watching the National Championship game in our basement and heard the pitter-patter of little feet running across the laminate flooring. We walked upstairs because we didn't need to see Louisville celebrating anyway and we couldn't find Ben. He wasn't in our room. He wasn't in the kitchen. Or either of the bathrooms. He wasn't in his old room. He wasn't in his new room. He wasn't under his bed. He wasn't in the living room. And he wasn't in his sister's room.

The doors were locked. The house was quiet.

Turns out he was in the living room. In the corner of the couch. With a blanket over him. Silent as a mouse. Greg moved the blanket and Ben grinned and told us he was playing Hide-and-Seek.

Here's what you need to know: Ben used to be the worse Hide-and-Seek player. Ever. He'd tell you where he was. He'd make so much noise moving around that you'd have to look other places knowing he wasn't actually there just to make him think you were playing along.

Well, he's become the champion Hide-and-Seek player. So much so, we lost him. Then we found him. And sent him back to bed.

I thought our stroller was stolen.
But, really, my son just decided it needed to go on a stroll. He pushed it into the drainage creek in our front yard.

Thankfully, there wasn't much water in it Wednesday -- the day before it rained for many, many hours. My friend Courtney helped me rescue it. I sprayed it off and then laid it out to dry.

Before it could get dry, the rain drenched it again, but that one isn't Ben's fault.

I spilled milk ... 
... between the stove and the counter.

You know, that little sliver of space where crumbs go to rot? Yep. There. So Greg helped me move the stove out from the wall so I could clean up the spilled milk. I didn't cry. But I didn't want to let that leave an unwanted smell in our kitchen. While I was back there, I wiped off and swept up so many other unintentional leftovers from meals long, long ago.

A baseball loosened Cate's tooth.
She's been losing teeth, like kindergartners do. The remaining front tooth was loose, but at Cate's first t-ball practice Wednesday evening, a baseball bounced up and hit her mouth, loosening the tooth anymore. Oh, and it bled some too. She wiggled it, thinking she'd just pull it out there. I convinced her to just go play, reminding her it would come out when it was ready.

About 12 minutes later, she walked over and smiled a more-toothless grin. And Coach Daddy handed me the tooth. That was No. 5. And it's not the first one she's lost while playing a sport. Although the first wasn't a direct result of the sport.

Ben peed all over a restaurant floor.
We walked into Culver's after Cate's t-ball practice. She was still saying words that sounded funny because her tongue doesn't have any front teeth to press up against. I figured out what everyone wanted to eat and started ordering when I heard Ben say, "I have to pee," and grab his crotch. I mumbled, "Just a minute."

And then he peed. A lot of pee. In a pool around his feet. On a restaurant floor.

Greg swept him up and carried him the bathroom, creating a trail of pee across the floor. The restaurant floor. I finished ordering, got Cate settled at a table, and then realized I couldn't really help get dry clothes from the minivan because Greg had the key.

Knocking on the door didn't really cross my mind, but calling and texting did. Unfortunately, I had his phone in my purse because t-ball coaches don't need extraneous things like phones in their pockets.

And just one last note: If you or one of your friends is going sneak a mini Cadbury Creme Egg {the last one!}, you should discard the evidence. And, honestly, I have no idea which kid in my life I'm talking to. Both my own and a friend were in the kitchen unsupervised at different times Wednesday.

Yes, Wednesday, the same day I spilled milk, thought my stroller was stolen, held my daughter's fifth tooth in my hand at t-ball practice, and apologized to the distraught cashier because my son peed all over the floor.

I laughed this week more than I yelled. Yes, I found relief when I could sit down after my kids were in bed each night. I took some deep breaths, talked to my husband, rested, and woke back up the next morning to do it all over again.

Some days are messy, like that milk beside my stove or the pee on the restaurant floor. Other days are adventures, like the stroller's ride in the ditch. Some days are a combination of both. We haven't even talked about my son's poison ivy in his ear and on his boy part or the oral steroid that cleared him up but put him a little on edge. And I wrote all of this before I waited for 3 1/2 hours to see my doctor only to have her tell me I actually needed to go back to the doctor in Louisville. Really. Seriously. Meanwhile, while I sat in an exam room for hours, there was an enormous miscommunication about carpool from school so I had to track down my daughter via text messages with my husband, who made a phone call.

My husband and best friends get my venting moments so all of Facebook doesn't have to hear. My life is real. I have lots and lots of good days and plenty of hard ones. It's a hard lesson for me to learn, but laughing over the mishaps in life really is better than crying over spilled milk.

What story {or stories, perhaps!} do you have to share about your week?

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Friday, April 12, 2013

{Slugs & Bugs} Let's kick start it!

What do you do when one of your favorite artists has a fabulous idea that needs support?

Um, support it. Duh.

So that's what I'm doing. And I'm inviting you to join me. Randall Goodgame is spearheading the newest Slugs & Bugs project of putting scripture straight from the Bible {one translation or another ...} to catchy music that makes memorizing truth fun for kids. And, um, probably adults too.

You've probably heard of Kickstarter, but if not Randall summed it up well: Kickstarter helps people support the creative works they believe in, and in return, they get first access to those creative works. This particular Kickstarter campaign aims to raise $40,000 in 40 days to cover the costs associated with making this new Slugs & Bugs album. {You can read more here.}

Wanna help? Here you go. This campaign will be going on through May 21.

Slugs & Bugs is favorite music around our house. Ben went through a phase last year of wanting "Tractor, Tractor" sang to him nightly. Like as a bedtime song. Being the accommodating Daddy he is, Greg made up additional verses and kept the routine up for quite some time. Cate is old enough to appreciate the humor in "Under Where?" and even has possession of Randall's stuffed bunny.

But it's not just the music now. I've organized two Slugs & Bugs concerts here in Murray {September 2011 and November 2012} and gotten to include Slugs & Bugs live music in a Jesus birthday party. Through those things, I've gotten to know Randall Goodgame. He's the real deal. He's a husband and dad leading his family. He's a musician and friend and Christ follower. And he believes in this music he's making.

Here are some cool informational sneak peeks, courtesy Randall Goodgame himself: The African Children's Choir will be on the album. And Sally Lloyd-Jones, who wrote the "The Jesus Storybook Bible," will read scripture.

And here is a musical peek ...

Here is a list of the scriptures that will be put to song, Slugs & Bugs style. There will also be a musical list of the Old Testament and New Testament books.

Just for the record, I recommend all three previous Slugs & Bugs albums. My girl has been listening to the Christmas album lately, so it's obviously good enough for year-round use. "Under Where?" has my favorite "I'm Adopted" on it. And "Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" is the original collection of songs that got my family hooked.

You can learn more about Slugs & Bugs at their website, FacebookTwitter and YouTube. And, really, you should consider supporting this project that will help kids get truth stuck in their heads. Affiliate links for the CDs included. I don't get anything for telling you about Kickstarter, but I do want this new music to blare in our minivan, so let's get this project funded!

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

{Out of the Blue} A Good Goodbye

When I graduated from college in 2001, I was ready to say goodbye to Murray -- a small town in far western Kentucky that had been my home for three-fourths of the previous four year. I liked this town I had stepped foot in twice before moving my stuff into my dorm room in August of 1997. I liked college. But I was ready to be done. And gone.

I had my sights on a copy editing job at a big city newspaper. First up, it was an internship as a reporter, mostly covering the police beat during the night shift, at the Lexington Herald-Leader. Then I took a nine-month temporary job at The Associated Press in Louisville. Lexington. Louisville. Now these were the places I could live. 

Trouble was, I fell in love. With a boy from small-town Murray. He proposed marriage ... and a move back to his hometown Murray when he finished law school. Inside, I was hesitant. Hadn't I said a good goodbye to this town that had served me well?

But I said yes to Greg. Then I found a job at a newspaper in a town smaller than Louisville or Lexington but bigger than Murray, where I could work for a year while my college-boyfriend-turned-husband finished law school. We lived our first year of marriage in Lexington and have been back in Murray for the past 9 1/2 years.

And guess what? I like it here. Surprise!

Continuing with surprises, this week Kristen asks: How did a goodbye surprise you by increasing your joy or make a difference in your life? At the time, the goodbye might have been easy or difficult. Either way, you can look back and see how God’s grace used the then goodbye for the now good.

I was happy to say goodbye to Murray the first time, but that move started a God-orchestrated domino effect that surprised me more than once. I left friends in Murray when I had bigger cities in my sights. And while working and living in Lexington for three months, Louisville for nine months and back to the Lexington area for 15 months, I got to be closer to a college friend in Murray through email messages and phone calls.

Jaclyn and I were friends and had a larger circle of common friends when we both lived in that small town I was ready to leave. But once out of college we found ourselves in the same seasons of life. We were beginning careers we believed we were created to do and we were planning weddings to the boys who stole our heart when we were studying these fields. I was a journalist. She was a teacher. But we both wanted to please people and meet high expectations, really, to a fault.

But that year of swapping stories and asking for advice solidified a friendship that I'm not sure I could live without. God knew I'd need her then. And he knew I'd need her now.

When I said goodbye to my first year of marriage and loaded up the moving truck on our anniversary, I got to say hello to living in the same town as Jaclyn. She had stayed in Murray after graduating from college the year before me and I was so thankful to have a friend in the town I wasn't sure I wanted to call home.

Murray is now home, in part because Jaclyn is here. We have relatives here. We rooted ourselves here and God created our family here. And God gave us some of the dearest friends possible in a town I wasn't sure would ever offer new friends.

I leaned on Jaclyn, her infertility experience, and the hope that her baby boy embodied as I cried out to God when Greg and I couldn't get pregnant. We've gotten through the hard days of marriage and careers and motherhood together. That's right, motherhood. We both walked through seasons of infertility to come out with five kids in five years between us. She's going to start working full-time again and I'm adding back in some freelance work. I'm sure we'll need each other to figure out to balance yet another new season we'll share.

That goodbye to Murray in 2001 meant hello to a deeper friendship with one of the most important people in my life. I said goodbye to thoughts of big city life a couple years later and hello {again} to that friend. She's my neighbor now. We do this small-town but awfully full life together because some goodbyes really are good.

I'm linking up today as part of the "Out of the Blue" series at Chasing Blue SkiesWant more? Subscribe to get "Insights" in your inbox. Like 152 Insights on Facebook. Or follow me on Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

{#TellHisStory} Hello, spring ...

My boy has been wearing shorts. He's got scrapes and bruises all over his legs. The poison ivy in his ear, on his chin, along his hair line of the neck, and on his boy part -- really -- is drying up.

My girl is congested but happy it's spring has sprung. She's worn shorts and skirts without leggings. And t-ball starts tonight. She has 5 1/2 weeks of school left.

I've been in flip flops the past few days. We've played at the park and outside in our backyard. We've sat on the porch. The days are longer and my kids require baths more often. And, you know, it's easier to get out of the door without coats and layers of clothes.

My husband likes having baseball on the TV and is looking forward to his outdoor birthday party in 1 1/2 weeks. He's turning 35. The in the two weeks that follow his birthday, I'll turn 34 and Cate will turn 6. I'm ready for him to grill beef, squash and onion kabobs for our dinner.

This is spring. 

Spring is always good for my soul, even if the pollen over takes my senses. Being outside and seeing the sunshine breaths life into my life. There is freedom in running outside, taking walks with my family, and seeing my kids play with each other and their friends.

The newness of springs reminds me that no season lasts forever. I live in a place where winters are mild, but there are four distinct seasons. I like that. I tend to say summer is my favorite, but when I really do like spring and fall too. I say I don't like change, but, really, I'm usually ready for the new season.

And not just the weather ones. There is a season for everything. God created time and continues to work in our lives in his time.

Last week my kids and I took an impromptu trip to the city about 45 minutes away. We had lunch at Chick-fil-A and then went to a local, fun indoor play place. I sat there as they played wishing I'd brought my Kindle. My purse wasn't overflowing because it didn't contain a diaper for the first time in almost 6 years {minus the month Cate was potty trained before Ben was born ...} and nobody needed a sippy cup.

In those moments sitting on that picnic table bench while my kids ran and jumped and played, I realized we were in a new season. My boy, who just weeks ago liked me changing his diaper better than thinking about going in the potty, ushered it in when he decided big-boy underwear really did make life better. I was dreading potty training him. But once he was ready, it clicked. And it wasn't a big, dramatic deal.

And here were are. It's spring, literally, and in my house, where life seems new and fresh. It's not a perfect season. The pollen is wild here and clogs our noses. But this is a welcomed season that propels us forward, inching us closer to the Creator.

I'm linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and other storytellers. #TellHisStory is a chance to tell a story that connects your story to God's story. 

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

{God-sized Dreams} Chihuahuas not welcome

"Fear hangs out right next to whatever it is you’re most called to do. That means the closer you get to your calling, the louder fear sounds. Keep going – fear is a chihuahua that sounds like a Doberman."

Dear Chihuahua of Fear,

I have some things I’d like to say to you, starting with stay out of my yard.

You may think I'm boxing myself in with this fence to keep you out, but, really, there is freedom here. There is freedom because I do venture outside my yard, but I have this safe place to come to when I need to regroup. This is the place I've cultivated with my husband, my kids and those closest to us. This is the place where we choose what comes in and how we spend our time. Our yard looks different than our neighbors' and friends'. And that's OK.

Chihuahua of Fear, you may yap and bark and whine to be let into my yard, into my life, but I'm not going to let you in. I don't want to step in your messes or have you interrupt my life. Chihuahua of Fear, you make me think everybody has to like me and that there's only one way to do something. The people-pleasing and judgmental ways have got to go. The over-analyzing conversations and moments isn't good for my soul. And competition? Really, it has no place among friends.

I've been wondering/If we stop sinking/Could we stand our ground/And through everything we've learned/We've finally come to terms/We are the outsiders .../On the outside/You're free to roam/On the outside/We found a home/On the outside/There's more to see/On the outside/We choose to be

{From "The Outsiders" by Needtobreathe}

It's ironic, really. Little yappy Chihuahua, I don't want you in my yard. You're on the outside. Yet this yard I'm cultivating with the Maker of it all really is on the outside of our society. I don't want to do what everyone else is doing. Yes, sometimes that's easier.

But living intentionally and radically will make a difference in my kids' hearts and our relationships in this world. We're outsiders here, though, really. Because our sights are set on another yard, a place Jesus has spent more than 2,000 years preparing for us. I think of the glory I've seen here, and, really, I can't imagine the glory we'll experience there.

So stay out of my yard here, Chihuahua of Fear, because you won't be welcome with us in this heavenly place being prepared for us outsiders.

Tuesdays are God-sized Dream days around here and I'm linking this post along with many, many other dreamers on Holley Gerth's blog. You'll find encouragement, truth and community there. Holley encouraged this post to start out with those first 14 words, which, as she said, "Is this kinda silly? Um, yes, but that’s the point. Fear always tries to make us take it more seriously than we should."

I'm also linking up with Soli Deo Gloria at Finding Heaven. 

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