Sunday, December 4, 2016

Truly Knowing

“Listen to what your children are teaching you. As you would sit and listen to God, sit and listen to the silence, to things they do not say and to the things they do say. Actively listen to them. Make time to get to know your children—not just who you think they are, but who they think they are. Strip yourself of what you want them to be and look deeply into what God has made them, who they dream of being, who they are.” –Kari Clark, TheMother Letters

I love this little chunk of writing (and the whole book, so much!) and I think about it all the time.
Sometimes we are judged for our past mistakes or achievements, remembered for hobbies or interests we’ve outgrown, or expected to fit into molds we don’t fit into.

I’ve been blessed with these four special people and I want desperately to do right by them. I want to be a good wife and mother, and to really know and love their true hearts. <3

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Book Review: Riley Unlikely by Riley Banks-Snyder

We use Compassion International to sponsor a boy in Uganda and a girl in Rwanda so I am always excited to read books about young people making a difference in Africa.

Riley Unlikely actually takes place in Kenya, so lots of things are of course very different than they are for our kids in Uganda or Rwanda, but I still loved learning more about what it’s like to travel internationally for a cause.

Riley and her family took on all kinds of causes, from school supplies to medical center volunteer work, hygiene kits, starting a school, and laying some groundwork for an orphanage. She took her first trip at age 13 and went back every summer from there. When she found out at 16 she was born with a rare disorder that would leave her unable to have children someday, she turned to her passion for helping the children of Kenya.

At some point during the book she talks about how we are all called to do different things, which I loved. I tend to read books like these and think I need to go somewhere else… but really, I’m not called to do that. Maybe I will be someday, I don’t know! But for now I am not and it was good to have this kind of guilt-like feeling erased when I read that.

If you’re at all interested in reading about some of Riley’s work, definitely check out the book!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

All You Need is Love

“All I ever wanted since I arrived here on earth were the same things I needed as a baby, to go from to cold to warm, lonely to held, the vessel to the giver, empty to full.” –Small Victories by Anne Lamott

I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept lately. All of us, even the most difficult people in our lives, have the common goals of feeling safe, happy, loved. I’m trying to be that for the people who treat me like they don’t have it. It isn’t always easy but nobody ever promised it would be, right? =]

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 Advent Activities

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what I want Christmas to mean for our family.
This year our son is three and a half and he's very much aware of all the Christmas excitement. He is a huge fan of the lights and the music, of wearing a Santa hat, of checking out ornaments on trees, and a couple of weeks ago even made an unprompted gift request.

That's all fine, but at the same time I'd really like to focus primarily on the religious aspect of the holiday.
We're still enjoying a few secular activities but I'm trying to focus more on teaching them that Jesus is the Reason for the Season.
I made this list of advent activities yesterday, but then last night I started to think I might like to replace some of these with something a little more spiritually meaningful. Some. I mean, I don't want the magic of Christms to be gone! I just want it to be a different kind of magic.
Here's the first list, and you all let me know if you think of anything spiritually magical for me. =]

1. Open an early Christmas present! (My mom always sends Christmas pajamas for Christmas Eve but we’ve decided to do them on the 1st from now to extend their Christmas magic)
2. Look on Mom & Dad’s bed for a new Christmas book. (My kid is obsessed with Toy Story right now so I was giddy with excitement when I found a Christmas Toy Story book at the Dollar Tree)
3. Christmas light stroller walk
4. Build a snowman with Daddy!
5. Buy a gift for next year’s Operation Christmas Child boxes
6. Bedtime Christmas movie in Mom & Dad’s room
7. Christmas shopping date day (There’s a small plaza in town with a Dollar Tree and a discount grocery store. Ryan will take one of the big kids and I’ll take the other, then we’ll swap. I love seeing the gifts they pick out for their daddy. Sometimes they’re adorably heartfelt, like a tiny toy guitar since Dad likes guitars. Other times they’re a wee bit super selfish, like a toy car followed up with “Can I play wif dat for a bit now?”)
8. Visit a living nativity!
9. Christmas movie picnic lunch!
10. Make Christmas presents for Grandparents
11. Pick a new ornament for our Christmas tree.
12. Spend the whole day wearing Christmas pajamas, listening to Christmas music, and reading Christmas books in a blanket fort.
13. Christmas music dance party after dinner!
14. Pick out toys for the Toys for Tots drive!
15. Color a picture of the first Christmas.
16. Drink hot chocolate.
17. Nutcracker date with Mommy.
18. Bake Christmas cookies with Mommy.
19. Go sledding!
20. Family hike wearing Santa hats!
21. Christmas caroling phone calls
22. Make a Christmas board game!
23. Make a video postcard reading a Christmas book for your friends (Once we read a book three-ish times my kid has it memorized. He gets that from his daddy and my daddy, definitely not from me. I think he’ll enjoy “reading” one of his favorites to the video camera and his little sister will enjoy shouting keywords at the wrong time ;] )
24. I’m still working on the last one. I know there has got to be some kind of cool display in our area we can take the kids to one night/weekend. We have seen so many fun things over the course of our marriage—gingerbread house collection, lights displays, giant Christmas village, etc!) so I’m almost certain there must be something within a few hours of here!

Saturday, November 26, 2016


I was flipping through a magazine in a waiting room the other day and read that the best way to judge a woman’s age is by looking at her hands.

I think my own hands look older than they should, maybe because my skin is so fair and thin and I’ve never been good about putting sunscreen on the backs of my hands. Maybe they look average, or even young, and I’m just used to toddler hands.

Really, it’s kind of amazing they don’t look older, consider how busy they’ve been.

My hands have held Ryan’s hands a million times. They have swaddled newborns. They cut an umbilical cord. They’ve written letters. They’ve snapped photos we’ll cherished for the rest of our lives. They have typed out books and hit PUBLISH. They have whisked eggs, ladled soup, sprinkled salt. They have planted gardens. They have picked raspberries, bell peppers, strawberries, carrots, onions, a pumpkin. They have pulled weeds. Held books and turned pages. Steered bicycles, changed diapers, brushed hair. They’ve had IVs inserted into them. They’ve folded in on themselves and prayed for a miracle. They’ve been raised to the Heavens. They’ve scraped ice off a windshield, dialed 9-1-1, crossed items off to-do lists.

My hands have been pretty busy.