Friday, January 31, 2014


Well, the insanity of this semester has officially begun! My classes are in full swing, I am doing my school counseling practicum 9 hours a week, and my husband is in class two evenings a week on top of his full time job during the day. Plus, you know, parenting and life stuff. :-P We stay busy. And honestly, most of the time I like that. I enjoy having lots to do. I've seen so many blogs (and have probably written a few myself) about how people just need to slow down and relax and not do so much. And I agree with that to a point; there is definitely a lot to be said for intentionally slowing down and living in the moment, absolutely. But I can't do that all the time. My mom has observed that I work well under stress, and it's true. I like being busy.

But last weekend it hit me just how busy things are going to be, and I freaked out a little. There are so many things I want to do, things I need to do, and things other people want me to do. And quite frankly, there isn't nearly enough time for all of that. I need more hours in the day. And the night. I would like to sleep lots of hours. ;)

And then the snow came, and I was forced to slow down for a few days. It was pretty marvelous.

But now the snow is gone, and I'm ready to get back into the swing of things. I like going to my classes, and I love my practicum. I'm in an elementary school, and there is always something to do! I'm learning so much, and starting to take on more active roles rather than just shadowing. Next week I'm going to start leading a small counseling group with a few kids!

This is me with a Wonder Woman mug on one of my first days of practicum
There are plenty of things ahead in the next few months. It's going to be fun, exhausting, and maybe a little terrifying as I try new things. But it's going to be great!

As for needing more hours in the day, that is obviously not going to happen. Sigh. So I guess I will have to get better at being self-disciplined so I can stay on top of things. And I'm going to have to get better at saying no sometimes so I will have room to say yes to the right things. That is not always easy.

I'll leave you with a few pictures from our snow days. Enjoy!

Elijah looking like a grown up kid

Isaac took off his gloves, then his hands got cold, so he was warming them up
Joshua was unimpressed with the snowball his brother threw at him

Just me, enjoying a snowy day

Elijah and Joshua had fun running through the snow

Joshua took off his gloves and put his hands in the snow.
At first he didn't know what to think...
And then he was very upset.
He went inside shortly after this photo was taken.

The next morning. Beautiful!

Sunday, January 19, 2014


The passages in the Lectionary this week which inspired this post are Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40:1-11, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, and John 1:29-42. I hope you will read along and share the ways these scriptures spoke to you.

The story of redemption is so thrilling to me. 

I have this picture in my head of God concocting a plan that went above and beyond anyone's wildest dreams, with a gleam in his eye and a conspiratorial whisper to the prophets and his own Son about his plans for redemption of the whole world. Isaiah 49:6 says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." 

After baptizing Jesus, John proclaimed that Jesus was "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." Even before Jesus' ministry began, John caught a glimpse of God's grand scheme, a plan that had been in the works since sin first became messily twisted into human nature. 

It was too light a thing to simply bring hope and salvation to his people, Israel. God decided to go even further than that, to bring hope and salvation to the world. 

The first chapter of 1 Corinthians declares that recipients of God's grace and forgiveness will stand guiltless before God. Of course, this is not because we are naturally without sin on our own, nor are we suddenly incapable of sin in light of our salvation. No, we are guiltless before God because Christ sustains us. Our guilt has been covered, is being covered, and will continue to be covered.

This is what inspires me to worship, and to speak of what God has done; I stand in awe of of the grace that has been given to me. I certainly do not deserve it on my own. I have another picture of God in my head, as a loving parent stooping down to gently wipe the dirt away from a small messy child who has stumbled and fallen yet again. My hands are dirty, yet they have been cleansed, and they continue to be cleansed. 

And in the process, my heart is continually transformed. God's law has been written on my heart-- a law that can be summed up with the directive to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. And while this law does not do away with the propensity to sin that has been entangled in my very nature, the spirit of God himself whispers it to my heart daily, pointing me toward a different path and enabling me to choose it.

I don't always choose it. No, sometimes I choose poorly-- and boy, have I messed up over and over. And yet there is God again, holding out a loving hand, cleansing and forgiving me, pointing me always toward love, hope, and grace. He has a hold on my heart that the propensity for sin cannot undo, and for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Faith Creeps In

This week's readings in the Lectionary are: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10:34-43, and Matthew 3:13-17. I hope you'll read along!

According to the liturgical calendar, we are now in the season of Epiphany. I am familiar with Advent, and of course Christmas, but I didn't know much about Epiphany. I wanted to understand the significance better, so I looked it up.

Basically, Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of God in human form through Jesus and focuses on the ways that Jesus was revealed to both the Jewish people and the Gentiles. (I'm sure there's much more to it that some readers could explain, but these seemed to me as though they were the major points. Readers, feel free to further elaborate in the comments!)

Epiphany will last until Lent begins in March. I'm excited to spend the next several weeks focusing specifically on God in human flesh-- and actually, I've done a bit of that already in my Christmas posts!

Isaiah 42:5 paints a beautiful image of God as the creator and giver of life, "who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it." Furthermore, Psalm 29 specifically describes God's glory, strength, power, majesty, and holiness. This God-- this holy, powerful God-- chose to humble himself and come to us in human form through Jesus. God's spirit rested upon him, and anyone at all can be redeemed, regardless of who they are or what they have done.

Isn't that amazing?

However, since this is my blog, I'm gonna be really honest. As amazing as it is, it can also be hard to believe sometimes. Please don't misunderstand me here. My heart fully believes it to be true, but occasionally I have doubts. I think most people have this struggle at times, if they are being honest with themselves.

I told my brother recently that I have a faith crisis every six months or so. And honestly, that's pretty accurate. I wake up one morning and reflect on my beliefs, and all of a sudden I find myself thinking, "Whoa! That sounds crazy. What if it's not even true and I'm just nuts?"

Unfortunately, many times the church shuts people down when they express their doubts and questions. It is as though there is something to be feared about doubt; as if doubts will inevitably lead to renunciation of faith.

Actually, in my experience, my doubts and questions have always led me to a deeper faith.

When doubts creep in, so does faith. It's a hard answer sometimes, because of course some tangible, undeniable proof would be nice. But there is an element of faith that involves the things we cannot prove. For me, my heart just feels it and knows it to be true, even when it doesn't always make perfect sense in my head. And I have come to a point where I am okay with this supposed contradiction.

Yes, I do believe God came in the flesh. I believe he humbled himself to our level to make a way because he loves us. I believe in forgiveness, unmerited grace, redemption, and love. Even if it doesn't always make sense, my heart believes it to be true.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Open Gates

Recently I was talking to my kids about boundaries. Because, you know, with a future school counselor as a mom, that kind of thing is pretty commonplace around here. ;-)

I explained it to my five year old like this because he was having some difficulty with staying out of his two year old brother's space:

"Boundaries are kind of like a fence. Imagine that there's a fence right here. That's the boundary; you stay on one side of it, and Joshua stays on the other."

Isaac seemed to get it, and was especially intrigued by the fence analogy (which, in his mind, became a gate).

A few minutes later he climbed into my lap and snuggled up with me.

"My gate is closed," he said. "But Mom? My gate for you is open. I have two gates."

No matter what, he is always interested in cuddling with his mama. Even when he's ready for a break from other people, he wants me to know that I'm always welcome.

I hugged him close, and he asked, "Mom? Is your gate always open for me, too?"

Yes, baby. Always.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Great Start

It was cold on New Year's Day, but not so cold that it kept our family cooped up indoors. We'd been stuck inside for way too long with all the sickness we'd had, and we were all ready to get outside for a while.

So we bundled up in coats and hats and headed down to the school playground.

The kids enjoyed some of their new toys; Isaac and Elijah drove their remote-controlled truck around on the track for a little while, and Joshua rode his new tricycle. 

Isaac and the truck
Joshua rides his tricycle
I also enjoyed my new toy: a camera! Earlier this year, my camera broke and I couldn't afford to replace it, so I had been bitterly taking pictures with the awful camera on my phone. But Clark's dad and stepmom got us a new camera for Christmas. I'm excited to take lots of new pictures of my family!

Here are a few from our day at the park. It was a great start to the new year!

Isaac and Elijah

All my boys! Elijah, Joshua, and Isaac

Elijah and Joshua

Isaac had fun swinging

Joshua and Clark

Clark and me
 It was nice to get out and spend some time outside, even if it was super cold. We need to do this more often!

Monday, January 6, 2014


If you are interested in reading along, the passages from the lectionary that inspired this post are: Jeremiah 31:7-14, Psalm 147:12-20, Ephesians 1:3-14, and John 1:1-18. They can be read at

Scripture speaks of the same tendency over and over, a theme that seems inextricably woven into humanity: the tendency to veer quickly off course when left to one's own devices. Throughout the Old Testament, God revealed himself to the people of Israel-- his ways, his power, his provision, his righteousness, his love, his mercy, and his comfort. And yet continually, they turned away as soon as they lost focus on him.

Then God came in the flesh through Jesus, and still many of his own people did not recognize him. He embodied grace and truth; he gave them an example of what God is like. Yet they were so focused on their own expectations and traditions that when God himself walked among them, they rejected him.

But another theme is revealed throughout scripture: amidst the chaos and brokenness of the human condition, God loves so fiercely that he continually makes a way.

Heaven knows if I were God, I would eventually throw my hands up in disgust and give up on the whole mess. But that isn't who God is. I've heard so many negative statements about the Old Testament through the years. A punitive God, wars, bloodshed, and so on. But if you take a closer look, you see God's mercy and love revealed again and again. God doesn't give up on his people, no matter what. He promises to lead them back, to gather and keep them, to comfort them, to turn their mourning to joy, and to redeem them.

His love and provision are evident; his tenderness and mercy are always present. God doesn't give up; he makes a way because it is clear that they cannot do it without his help. 

And this is not just for the people of Israel. No, it is for anyone who will receive him. Despite our human tendency to miss God when he's right in front of us, he is able to shine through into our hearts so we can recognize him. And that, to me, is a beautiful mystery: it's not something we are able to do on our own; it is something that is done through his grace.

Ephesians speaks of receiving an inheritance, and the Holy Spirit is the down payment. This means that through God's grace, we have received even more than forgiveness; we have also received his spirit so we can live out his love and grace toward others. We won't do it perfectly, of course, because we are in fact still human. But we can do it; or rather, God can do it through us.

This leads me to seriously consider the ways in which God's spirit is evident in my life. Am I loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle? No, not always. And yet God remains merciful to me, and continues guiding and discipling me in love!

I'm unspeakably grateful for a loving God who lavishes us with grace. In his perfect love, he has cast out fear and he has made a way for us, a path of forgiveness, freedom, and mercy.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Technology is Hard

I've been trying to move posts over from an old blog to this one recently, and it seems that despite posting them with their original dates from 2011, they might be showing up as new posts to read in some blog readers. Oops! 

I still have several more to move over, so I guess feel free to enjoy a chance to catch up on the last two and a half years of my life in one fell swoop. ;) Lots of things have changed along the way, so maybe it will be an interesting read!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year

Looking ahead at 2014, there are a lot of big things on the horizon.

Next week, I will start my school counseling practicum at a local elementary school. I'm so excited, and also pretty nervous. This will be my first real experience in school counseling. The spring semester will also include an oral exam for my master's program, plus I'll be attending my first school counseling conference. During the second half of the year, I'll complete my first of two school counseling internships at either an elementary school or a high school. Also, my husband is about to begin nursing school at night on top of his full-time job. His classes start in a couple weeks, and clinicals begin in February. By the time 2014 wraps up, I'll be one internship away from graduating, and he'll be halfway through the nursing program! We're going to be busy, for sure, but we're both excited about taking the next steps toward our future careers!

Also during the second half of the year, my oldest son will start middle school (how is this even possible?!) and my middle son will start kindergarten. I can't believe how fast my babies are growing up. Each year seems to go by faster.

Of course, I have plenty of other goals for the year. Like most people, I want to lose weight this year and get in better shape. I'm turning 30 next month, and I've realized that I've been carrying around extra weight my entire adult life. Certainly, I have lost a lot of it over the past five years, but I still have approximately 30-40 pounds I want to lose. Even more significant than that, though, is the situation with my abdominal muscles. Basically, they are split (thanks, giant babies) which causes me to have core weakness, back pain, and puts me at risk for a hernia if I don't repair the split. So that is my main health goal for the year. I have to be careful about the exercises I do, though, because traditional abdominal exercises can actually do further damage. I am also thinking about signing up for another color run in April. Maybe. We'll see. ;) I enjoyed my experience with running last year, but it never helped me at all with weight loss, so I may choose to focus my exercise efforts elsewhere. I definitely want to do some strength training, and I have plenty of inches to lose.

Some other things I anticipate this year:

No more diapers! Joshua turned two a few weeks ago and is becoming very interested in potty training. I definitely plan to be completely done with diapers by the end of the year, and hopefully within the next few months.

Lots of reading. I know I don't have a lot of extra time, but I want to be intentional about how I use it. Right now, I tend to spend too much of my spare time on Facebook. Instead, I want to cultivate a habit of reading, especially about topics that are important to me as a mom and school counselor.

Another trip out of town with my husband. I'd love to go back to Nashville around my birthday next month, but any trip at any time would be acceptable. ;)

Writing. If you know me, it's no secret that I've always enjoyed writing. I've kept a journal since I was a child, and I've been blogging in various forms for about a decade now. Unfortunately, I haven't written as much over the past couple of years because I've been so busy, but I miss writing and I want to get back to it. Between my posts as I read through the lectionary, thoughts about various topics, and general life updates, hopefully this blog will get a lot of use this year.

Love. As always, I want to be a more loving, generous person. I hope that people will see the love of God through me as I continue to grow spiritually.

I also want to start consistently attending church again. This will, of course, require my family to stay healthy. That has been our biggest hindrance over the past few months.

And of course, I'm going to continue developing close, positive relationships with my children. The older they get, the more I see these efforts pay off. It's not always easy, and it certainly takes time and patience, but it's so worth it. I want to intentionally focus on spending consistent one-on-one time with each of the boys. They each enjoy this, but it's so easy to let life get away from us without making time for it on a regular basis.

So, there are some of the things I expect for the year. Of course I know there will be many unexpected happenings as well, and I hope I can stay positive throughout whatever changes come my way. Here's to a new year!