A Life Stirred

Week by Week :: Weeks 1-5

Hey, remember when I used to do Ten on Ten?  Yeah, it’s been a while.  Like nearly five months!

Really, there’s no excuse.

So I’m not going to make one.

And actually, this post isn’t really about Ten on Ten.  It’s about capturing our everyday stuff so that someday I can look back and actually remember these days.  (They’re kind of blurry sometimes.)

Plus these girls of mine grow up so. very. fast.


This was about a year ago. Who are these babies? (Also, that princess dress now stops at Jo’s shins!)

So, this year, I’m trying a new thing!  One picture of the girls.  Once a week.  That’s totally do-able.  (Right?!  Please tell me it is!)

And despite the blogging-hiatus, I have managed to stay on top of the picture-taking.  So, you, my lucky reader, are going to get to see them all at once.  Seriously, you’re so lucky.

Week 1:  We kicked off the year with our tree still up.  That’s totally normal, right?  Plus a sister-picture is always more fun with twinkle lights.  Now if only I could get both kids to smile at the same time.  The struggle is real.  At least we have 52 weeks to practice.

Week 1


Week 2:  We went to “Mini Monet’s” at the local art’s center.  I felt like I was nailing motherhood.  I mean, it’s got “Monet” in the title.  Clearly, I’m raising future artists.  Granted they loved the kiddie pool filled with balls more than the art, but whatevs.

Week 2


Week 3:  The girls got a belated Christmas gift from my parents–big girl legos! It’s been a hit.  Like hours (hours!) of independent play.  Joanna’s been a building-fiend (she built the two things she’s holding with very little help).  In her words, “I’m just following the directions.  I love directions!”  That’s my rule-following little girl! (And yes, the floor always looks like that now.)

Week 3


Week 4:  One day in January, it occurred to me that we are having a crazy warm winter (“warm” being a relative term).  So we went outside to play.  I’d kind of forgotten that they’re a year older this year, and the dressing process wasn’t quite as terrible.  Plus, Claire didn’t sob the entire time.  So win-win.

Week 4


Week 5: I didn’t really mean to do two snow pictures in a row, but that’s life in these parts.  They’ve both got sticks because it’s basically the perfect outside toy.  (Also, Claire is staring at the bird feeder…it was a desperate attempt on my part to get her to smile.)

Week 5


So, there you have it.  The first five Mondays of the year…documented!


Not a Normal Friday

Typically, Fridays are a relaxed day around here.  The girls wake up around 7. (Don’t be too jealous.  The sun doesn’t come up until 7:15 these days.  Then it goes down at 3:45.  Ooof.  Not enough daylight.)  Anyway, we wake up, get dressed, and head downstairs for some leftover pancakes.

At this point, it’s about 7:20.  I’ve already “enjoyed” 2-3 tantrums from the girls regarding wearing vs. not-wearing socks and whose job it is to carry the water bottle downstairs.

So, we eat breakfast, then watch a Curious George (or two…I’m not a morning person).  I drink coffee; the girls play.  I break up fights over toys, pencils, snack cups, and who gets to hold Baby Jesus.

Normally, Fridays will continue on like this.  We play, do dishes, have tantrums, go potty, pick up toys, eat lunch, take naps, play some more, color a million pages, and prepare for Dada to come home.

Normally, Fridays are just another day.  Filled with all the normal-life things.


Just a normal Friday

But we all know that this Friday isn’t just a normal Friday.

It’s Christmas!

We have been building up to this particular Friday for months now.  No other day in the year has been so eagerly anticipated by kids and grown-ups alike.  We do so much to prepare and to get in the Christmas mood–carols, twinkly lights, decorated trees, fun parties, and tasty treats, and  festive movies.  Each activity adds to our excitement for this Friday.

This Friday will be picture-perfect.  We have every kind of expectation placed on this Friday.  We have expectations for our kids, of their gratitude and attitudes.  Expectation of ourselves.  Expectations of the food (heaven forbid we burn something or forget the rolls).  For crying out loud, we even have expectations on the weather!!  (Anyone been disappointed by the unseasonably warm weather?  I mean, not here…but I’ve heard that it’s warm elsewhere.)

The anticipation is heavy.  We are all eagerly awaiting this Friday.  We count down the days.  We can feel the excitement in the air.

But this Friday cannot possibly bear the weight of all our hopes and dreams and expectations.

We will be disappointed by this Friday.  Our kids will have a meltdown or two (I mean, they’ve had a meltdown every other Friday of their life…this one will be no different).  The meal won’t be perfect.  Our family won’t be perfect.  Our own hearts will be selfish and frustrated.


Or your daughter will offer this very special smile  when you just want a nice picture by the tree.

But I have good news for you!  This Friday may disappoint, but this Friday isn’t meant to meet all of our expectations.

It is only a shadow of something greater.  The celebration of that first Advent–Christ coming to earth as a baby–should point our hearts to a second Advent–when Jesus returns to earth!

On that day, there will be no disappointment, no tears, no meltdowns, no frustration.  All the anticipation and expectations that we place on that day will not disappoint.  It will bear up under the pressure of our expectations.

So as we celebrate the first Advent, let’s remember that it is simply a shadow of a greater joy that will be coming.  This Friday is just another Friday.  A Friday where we remember what God did for us by sending His son to us and making a way for us to come to Him.  And that is certainly worth celebrating!

Let us not place our hope in this day, but rather let’s place our hope it the God who made this day.

(PS I totally stole this truth from Matt Chandler. Go listen to him.)


1 Comment »

What a Privilege…

It’s that most wonderful time of the year!!  CHRISTMAS!!!  Who feels like breaking out their best Peanuts-esque dance move?  (I know you have one.)


This really is such a special season.  There is so much to do, and so much to get excited about.  There’s the anticipation of Christmas morning (which is really just so much more awesome as a mom).  There’s Christmas carols, twinkly lights, trees, candy canes, present-shopping, present-receiving, festive parties, and the birth of a Savior who is God incarnate come to us!


(Sounds like a good Christmas-y day to me!)

I love it all.  I really do.  But there’s been something on my heart and mind this season.  (Really, it started before this season, but it’s particularly heavy right now.)

What a privilege…

What a privilege that I get to enjoy this season.

There are moms all around the world who do not experience such a privilege.  They wonder if they have enough food for their children.  They wonder if they will be safe tonight as they sleep.

There are moms, dads, children being murdered for believing in the very same Baby Jesus as I do.

What a privilege that I get to decorate my house and wonder how to remember the “Reason for the Season.”

What a privilege that I get to fill Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes with my girls…as we sit in our comfortable house with more than enough stuff to fill many, many boxes.

There are moms whose children will receive those boxes.  And they won’t be sitting in a comfortable house.  Those boxes may be the only toys their children own.

What a privilege that I am here.

Honestly, those three little words are rocking my world.  I almost don’t even know how to proceed with my everyday life.  All my worries seem so small in light of those words–What a privilege…

And don’t get me wrong.  (This part is important for you to read.)  I’m not saying any of these things are bad.  I love Christmas and festive Christmas-y things.  I loved doing Operation Christmas Child (it’s a great, concrete way to teach young kids to give).  None of the things are bad. I believe they are good gifts from God.

And yet, I can’t shake these new lenses.  I am seeing my life differently. It’s changing the way I think about things.  It’s changing the way I think about everything. 

I really have no idea where this new perspective will take me or what the Lord will do with it.  But I do know He is shaking up my “comfortable,” and I just can’t shake it.

Really, these new lenses have nothing to do with Christmas.  They have everything to do with realizing that this life I’ve been given is a gift.  It’s about shifting my me-centered gaze to a world full of people who are hurting.  And these people are not just on the other side of the world.  They are here too.  Right in my own community.

So for now, you will find me trying to find a balance.  A balance between enjoying the good and fun and frivolous of Christmas AND remembering that it’s a privilege that I get to enjoy the good and fun and frivolous of Christmas.


What a privilege…

Does anyone else have a hard time balancing these two things?  How do you enjoy God’s good gifts without losing sight of others who may not have the same good gifts?  Does this even make sense?

And in case you want to read another blog post that will get you thinking, Shannan (who I don’t know at all in real life but I like a lot) wrote a really good one earlier this week.  It’s a tough one.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Leave a comment »

The Facebook Weight

A month ago, I officially deleted Facebook.

Scratch that.  Six weeks, I told Facebook I wanted to delete my account.  Two weeks ago, they finally did it.

[Did you know that there’s a “waiting period” before Facebook will really delete your account?  14 days!  That seeemed excessive to me.]

Anyway, all that to say, my Facebook account is official gone.  (Well, I did download all my Facebook information onto my computer…ten years worth of posts and pictures.  Priceless.)

And I really don’t miss it.

…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith …

Hebrews 12:1-2

I heard a sermon recently that pointed out that there is a difference between weights and sins.  Weights may be morally neutral things that rob our affection for the Lord.  They will distract from the race set before us.

For me, Facebook was a weight.  It isn’t intrinsically bad, and it isn’t a sin to use Facebook.  In fact, a year ago, I would have said that Facebook was a great way to connect with long-distance friends and family, keep up with others, and encourage others in their day-to-day lives.

And it is.

But Facebook can also be a weight that clings so closely.  Its effect on my heart and life was subtle!  Sometimes it can even be hard to identify its grip until you are out from under it.

For example, I struggle with comparison in general.  Even without Facebook, I still struggle.  BUT I never fully realized how much Facebook fed into this struggle.   I continue to be amazed at the levels of freedom I’m experiencing without Facebook.  I have so much more joy when I don’t have to fight the constant tug of comparison.

Now, don’t read this wrong.  I am NOT saying that everyone needs to leave Facebook.  I know that for many, Facebook is a place to spread the Kingdom of God and to encourage one another.  And that’s awesome!  We need more people to use social media as a platform to spread the gospel.

However, I do believe we all need to be careful about our social media use.  It can be time-consuming and distracting and it can cling so closely (as Hebrews 12:1-2 says).

So, I encourage you to examine your heart.  Do you feel a pull to set aside Facebook (even if just for a season)?  Do you feel a desire to use Facebook as a platform for encouragement and glorifying God?  Or do you have another weight in your life (a morally neutral thing that robs your affection for the Lord) that you need to lay aside?


Leave a comment »

We made it!

Oh my word!  We made it!  “Taming the Tongue in 31 Days” is done.

So is your tongue totally tamed now?


Mine either.  But hopefully there was something beneficial that you read or took away from this little series…maybe.

For me, I learned that it was hard to write for a whole month on one topic.  Around the middle of October, I kind of got sick of my writing voice.  Lucky for you, though, I’m very much a rule follower so I had to finish it out.

But more than that, I learned that having a tame tongue is truly a journey.  It’s not a once and done deal (bummer, right?).  It will take ongoing effort.  I will have to choose to tame my tongue moment by moment, day by day, week by week.  Yet, I believe that with the Lord’s help, I can have freedom in this!  I can be a markedly different person from now on.

My tongue will speak life.

My tongue will not gossip.

My tongue will encourage.

My tongue will build up.

My tongue will be slow to speak.

My tongue will give grace.

My tongue be thankful.

My tongue will honor the Lord.

Now, that is exciting stuff.

Also, exciting?  Getting to write about something other than my tongue soon.  Ha!

Don't miss a day!

Don’t miss a day!


A Bonus Post

If I were on facebook, I’d share this there.

But I’m not.

And more on that later.

For now, enjoy a Free Jamocha Shake from Arby’s.  (You have to print out a coupon, but I do believe it’s worth it.)

You’re welcome.

Leave a comment »

Ten on Ten: The My-Parents-Are-Coming Edition

The Pennsylvania grandparents are coming!!  We are very excited.  Joanna boycotted her nap in anticipation…because it’s always best to be over-tired when the grandparents arrive.

Hand washing time.

Hand washing time.

I discovered the best way to eat yogurt--frozen and bite-size.  Genius.

Frozen yogurt drops.  So tasty!

Adorable, right?

Adorable, right?

Poor Mack.  Lost in a pile of Cars books.

Some light reading for Mack.

Entropy defined.

Entropy defined.

Free-standing baby!  Now to just be brave and take a few steps...

Free-standing baby!

The Self Check-Out.  Because it just *feels* faster.

The Self Check-Out. Because it just *feels* faster.

Waiting for dinner.

Waiting for dinner.

Dinner is served.

Dinner time!

Grandma's here!!  Paaaaarty!!

Grandma’s here!! Paaaaarty!!

ten on ten button

1 Comment »

I’m an insta-writer!

I’ve done a little research, and it looks like everyone has a blog.  Yup, everyone.  Not exaggerating.

I decided I want one too.  I want to be one of the cool kids!  Heck, I used to have aspirations to be a writer (or a stand-up comedian…I was undecided).  I would write unfinished story after unfinished story, and my journal entries back then were hilarious (although that was mostly because my 7th grade brain was hilarious….or ridiculous).

So, what could be better than having a blog?!  Insta-writer!  All I have to do think of something wonderful and deep and meaningful, hit publish, and WA-BAAAM!  I’m a published writer.  And before I know it, people will be sharing my posts, quoting my delightful insights, LOL-ing loudly (is that redundant?) in public places, and I’ll be a blogging superstar!

Or maybe I’ll just share my thoughts and my heart.  Maybe I’ll just tell my story (that post will make anyone want a blog…seriously).  Maybe I’ll be really real, even when I’d really rather not.

And if you are encouraged along the way, or if you LOL loudly (redundant or not, I’m going with it), or if your affections are stirred towards the Lord, then that’s just icing on the blogging cake!