Capturing the full flavor of life in Christ.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Scents

The Christmas season seems to get started with the smell of turkey. One of the greatest blessings of being the host of Thanksgiving dinner is that the aroma seem to travel to every corner of the house. Those smells are so rich in comfort and satisfaction. Throughout the holiday season, there are many smells that seem to be part of Christmas. My kids even have a scratch and sniff Christmas book. Our noses seem to love the anticipation of the holiday, cookies baking, wassail on the stovetop, peppermint candy canes, a fire in the fireplace and of course the fresh pine tree in our family rooms.

One time, a few years ago I walked into a Yankee candle store and was looking for a candle of a specific color to match my room. The salesclerk said to me with an air of pious, "we are a fragrance store, not a décor shop". So, I wanted to see what this "fragrance store" thought that Christmas should smell like. I found things like Hearthside, Balsam and Fir, Christmas Cookie, Mountain Pine, and Peppermint swirls.

I love these aromas, and they really do add to my love of this season. But, today I got a little perspective about the true scents of Christmas. I went to a barn, on a preschool fieldtrip. We pet bunnies and kitties. We said hello to some goats, and enjoyed seeing the sheep's full winter coat. But the reason we went was to see a live nativity. As I stood there, watching my little guys get up close to see baby Jesus, and listen to the music playing, I got a little emotional. The shepherds came and bowed in front of King Jesus, it really was beautiful.

It struck me that Christmas with cookies and peppermint and pine is kind of a cover. The true Christmas smelled like manure and hay and earth. There was such humility in that scene. I am amazed anew today that the King of the World, came to save me, as a vulnerable baby, in a barn!

Though I promise I won't be burning stinky candles when my family comes for Christmas Eve. I will, however keep the scents of the stable alive in my heart as I celebrate the season.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hard Work

My older sister is like my parenting mentor. She is a great, purposeful mom, whose children are a few steps older than mine, so she stays ahead of me with advice. Oh, and her kids are fantastic and so well behaved and have so many traits that I want to see in my own kids. Whenever I spend time with my sister, I find myself motivated to be more meaningful in my mothering. During my recent visit with her she was talking about how, whenever her children need an attitude adjustment, she cures it with hard work. Her kids are all beyond the ages of spankings or time outs, and she has found that making them do a bunch of chores seems to help put things into proper perspective for them.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to put this theory to work, pun intended. I was taking my boys to Target to get the things for our Operation Christmas Child boxes. This is something our family has done for a number of years. We buy toys and essentials for children in foreign lands who wouldn't otherwise get Christmas gifts. This seems like a great opportunity to me to open my kids eyes to the fact that we are completely blessed with things, and family and that not everyone has such reasons to be grateful. My daughter is a thoughtful compassionate little girl, and this has traditionally been a fun little time with her, to pick out things and think of others. Well, she was away at school, and I thought I could do this with my boys.

They really wanted nothing to do with picking out gifts for others. Instead, they wrestled and squirreled around in the cart, threw tantrums when I wouldn't buy things for them, and pointed out item after item that they would like to receive for Christmas. I was dismayed. But then to top it off, as I was finishing up at the checkout they were laughing and pointing at people and saying "he has a bad face, oh there is another bad face."

At this point I was furious, and told them so. As we drove home with the doom of impending punishment in the air, both boys fell asleep. (This must come from the same skill set that husbands have that enables them to fall asleep during an argument.) Well as they slept I was able to gain a little perspective. First, yes I was reminded that they are 3 and 4 years old, and I was expecting a lot. Second, I was also reminded that they were clearly tired, and perhaps I that has some reflection on their behavior. Third, I remembered what my sister had said about hard work and so when they woke up, I had a plan.

Brandon had recently done a creation book at his preschool and learned how God created the world. We talked about how God worked for 6 days and rested just one. I told him that God designed us to work and that he had been getting away with to much play and not enough work. So, they had to do 6 jobs before they could play. The boys, put laundry away, carried a bunch of things down stairs, cleaned up the basement, dusted, cleaned bathrooms, even vacuumed the van. All supervised of course. It definitely worked, they both had better attitudes. The sweetest part was a bedtime prayers when Brandon ask God for forgiveness for his behavior at Target.

I sometimes struggle to make selfless choices with my time. I like facebook, and dinner out and even going to the gym. I like watching tv and reading the occasional book and yes, I like to go to Target. These things may be permissible, but they are not always beneficial. I need to keep that balance that God ordained which is 6 days of work, to 1 day of rest.

I feel a little pathetic realizing that the same principal applies to me. There are many times in my life that I also need to be put to work, to gain a little perspective. I am still a child of God. I love to live in a clean house, but even more than that, I like the process of cleaning. While I am at work purging and purifying my home God is often at work purging and purifying my heart. So, if I am grouchy and critical and self absorbed, I am realizing I need to get off my duff and get to work. A clean house plus a clean heart seems like a win-win situation for my family.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I went to the farmers market the other day. There were some women at the entrance taking produce donations for God's kitchen. So, my daughter and I made some selections for our family, and bought a few things for the charity. She went to put the donation in the basket as I finished up paying. As we walked back to the car, one of the ladies thanked me, and as I looked over the other one was reaching into the bag of blueberries and selecting on for herself. She caught my eye, and hid her blueberry.

At first I was mad. I made a special trip to the bank, to get cash to make a small donation, and she was eating it! But then I thought about how often I eat blueberries. Not literally (I actually don't like them much, gasp, I know) but figuratively. How often do I mean well, and end up being selfish and sinful along the way. How often I justify just this one blueberry.

I have been studying the holy spirit this summer. Last week I read the story about the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-30. He asks Jesus what is required of him to receive eternal life. Then he finds the answer to be a bit hard to swallow.

22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
The question from my study called Forgotten God by Francis Chan was: What do you think the he was expecting Jesus to say?

I have been mulling over this question, and thinking about how we want Jesus to require a neat, easy thing from us. 10% of our income seems so much more palatable then sell it all and give it all away! I somehow want God to use me, but only when it is easy and convenient.

I am very humbled by how far I am from where I should be. I want to give my time, but do so grudgingly. I want to give my money, but don't want to give up date nights and new clothes. I want to surrender it all to Christ, but I also want just one little blueberry from the world. Why is it so scary to me? I know in my head that the rewards out there are much greater than a new skirt. So what the heck is my problem.

Today, I guess I am just being real about how I am still on the this journey toward surrender. Not my will Lord, but Yours. One blueberry at a time.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Details, details

I had one of those really exciting days where I really heard the voice of God in my life. I have been praying a lot about something lately. Asking God to help me and give me wisdom and discernment. I kept bringing it to God and asking for an answer. In fact, as I looked at my journal from yesterday, I was pleading with God for a direct and audible answer.

In true God fashion, I did not actually hear anything, but yet he answered my prayer in an unexpected way. I was emailing a friend and asking her to pray for me as I deal with a certain challenge. As I walked away from the email, the holy spirit spoke. "Don't you believe that if I ask you to do something, I am going to take care of the details". (I don't know if quotes are in order for words from my holy spirit, but they felt that clear to me.)
It sure would be easier some times if when I opened my Bible it would say: Angel, you should do that ministry, Angel, this is what you should do next in this friendship, Angel, call this person they are lonely and in need. But then, God made me smarter than that. He knows I need to seek Him, and need Him and long for His truth in my life. He knows I need to struggle with questions in order to see that he is the only answer.

And wow, to be working with a God of details. It was such a refreshing release for me today. Instead of looking at what is ahead of me and saying, what about this and what about that, I am going to faithfully look at what is ahead and know that God is paving the way for me. He is preparing and working in lives all around me just as he is working in mine; to bring about His will. Just another reminder that it is not all about me. For today, I will not worry and be anxious, instead I will take His hand, and know that He hasn't missed any of the details.


I got a really sweet gift today. It was this little figurine of a baby that looks just like my youngest when he was a baby. The differentiating feature that makes it look so much like my little man, and not just some other chubby cheeked child, is the ears. My little guy has big ears. When he was a baby, I just always thought he would grow into them. Now, people recognize him because of them. "Oh, is he the one with the ears?" Yup, that would be Tyler.

As a mom, you worry a bit about these kind of things. You don't want to see your baby get teased or hurt. You don't want them to have to overcome a physical feature that will set him apart and make him feel weird. But, yet you also know that your kids will face challenges no matter what. And, in the scheme of things, a pretty trivial matter.

But Tyler also has a big personality. For a little three foot person, he makes an entrance where ever he goes. He is truly a people person, loves to chat, and smiles most of the time. He is afraid of things he isn't familiar with, which is also pretty endearing a lot of the time. He makes friends and people love him. He is charming and charismatic. He is incredibly talkative, and a total ham. He loves to be the center of attention. I don't doubt for a moment that I will get some calls from his teachers. He is willing to go to extreme measures for a laugh from his siblings now, and I am sure that will translate to friends at school.

I know there will be some day when my little man will come home feeling blue because someone teased him about his big ears. But I also know that God didn't give my little man more than he could handle. He might have challenges, that will teach him compassion and humility. And obviously I know he will have more challenges than the size of his ears. But, I also know that God will provide


I love having a relationship with the holy spirit, because I feel over time like he is actually making progress on me. It is so great to have themes that pop up in your life in so many ways, that you can't deny that God is speaking to you. It is amazing to hear a sermon that puts words to the burdens in your heart at the moment. For me, there is no denying that it is God talking into my life. My current theme has been about my desire for significance. How often, I try to take the things that God is doing, and make them all about me, or at very least bend into my life.

God is so much bigger than I could ever bend. Lets face it, I can't even get my hands around him. I am coming to a greater place of insignificance in the world, and with it a great joy in my soul. God's presence is so near, and so comforting. I think this is the joy I have been studying and it is so different than feeling happy. I feel full, satisfied, and peaceful about it.

Thank you God, for being so much more than I can imagine. Thank you for loving me enough to keep whispering in my ear and patient enough to not get frustrated that you have to repeat yourself time and time again. It is starting to sink in. Staring to become more the norm for me.

The thing that draws me back from dwelling in the place, is the realization of how horrid I am. How not worthy I am of what God is. The closer I get to this place of surrender to Christ, the more I see the ugliness of my sin and how frequently it happens. Don't get me wrong, I don't feel fear or condemnation, but what I feel is humility from deep within.

I would like to imagine that the longer I live a life of surrender, the less I will sin. I think that might be making it all about me again. God isn't looking for me to eventually be perfect. He just wants me to put my pride aside and be with him. He wants me to run to him with reckless abandon.

Movements -- Rend Collective Experiement
I wanna soar with you, upon wings like eagles.
But I'll grow with you too, when the dark and lonely questions come.

I wanna stand true, no matter what 's new or comes through.
I cannot stand still, whatever hits, I keep making movements to you.

I'm running fast and free to you, cause you are the movement and fight in me.
I'm running fast and free to you, cause you are my home, where I want to be.
Come move in me. Where I want to be, come move in me.

I wanna flow with you, the currents driving me.
But I'll paddle hard too, when the waves and rapids overcome.

I wanna stand firm, when my minds weak and my emotions fail.
I wanna stand true, whatever hits, I keep making movements to you.

I'm running fast and free to you, cause you are the movement and fight in me.
I'm running fast and free to you, cause you are my home, where I want to be.
Come move in me. Where I want to be, come move in me.
I won't walk away. Won't walk away.

I'm running fast and free to you, cause you are the movement and fight in me.
I'm running fast and free to you, cause you are my home.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


My creative daughter tries to invent a new outfit everyday. Usually, it consists of the combining the most frilly things together, to be as spectacular as possible. However, each day she is becoming more aware that if she doesn't dress within the appropriate parameters such as considering the weather and formality of the occasion, then she will likely get sent back to change. This morning she came into my room dressed in a floral skirt, with jeans underneath and a miss-matched t-shirt with sparkles. Also, when I asked her to brush her hair, she put it in a "bun" and put every blue clip she owns in her hair. I hope you can picture my little glamorous ragamuffin.

There are certainly days that I would have sent her back to change, and fixed her hair, but today I decided to let it go. She and I had to go to the pediatrician. Since we had a Dr appointment, my mother-in-law graciously offered to take my boys to the park. Ellie was definitely getting the raw end of the deal.

So off we went, to the doctor, and she smiled and chatted to me the whole way. The appointment was for her asthma, which has been a little worse lately. The doctor wanted to do some tests to see how her airways are on a good day. Basically, her asthma is worse than we thought, and probably affecting her daily.

And there she was, in all her unique ways, just being her. Talking to the Dr and nurse and playing with her little toys. And joyful. This little girl who has been plagued with asthma and allergies her whole life. This sweet girl who has never tasted homemade bread, or a grilled cheese sandwich. This girl, who can't do cartwheels in the grass without needing a shower. This girl who wheezes when she runs, is so joyful.

I know it could be worse, and I really am not having a case of the "poor me's" over here. Really, I am just amazed that she isn't. She inspires me with her maturity and grace with which she takes on these challenges. Food allergies and now asthma is something that is there everyday, all the time. But, she shows me how to take it in stride and reminds me that character is what really matters. Today I was so proud of my little girl. She was dressed silly, but she shined with sophistication.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I love watching my children learn new things. I took pictures when they rolled over, and scrapbooked those first steps. Lately my oldest is conquering riding her bike and learning to read. My 4 year is learning to buckle his own seatbelt and be more responsible for his things. My little guy is potty training. I even found myself sneaking into his room last night to take pictures of him sleeping in a big boy bed for the first time.

So many of these things that my kids learn, is part of a process. For Ellie, she didn't just take the training wheels off her bike and take off down the street. (Yes, I know that is how it works for some of your kids, but not mine.) She has tried and tried, and practiced, and cried, and fallen down in her process to achieving the "I can ride a two wheeler" status.

As a parent, I say a lot of 'you can do it's and a wipe many a tears, including a few of my own, as they process through these accomplishments. And sometimes it is hard to watch your children fail, or be frustrated with a task that you know they need to learn. But, you also get to celebrate with them, you get to remember it, and remind them of the challenges. You get to take pictures of those big moments, when it all clicks and their hard work of learning something new pays off. And, you enjoy the benefits of a kid who can put his own shoes on, or buckle his own belt, or ride her own bike.

This got me to thinking about what I am learning. The longer I am a Christian, the more I know that I will be learning to be better, until the day I die. The things I am learning are a process too. And all too often, we don’t see the moment where we mastered something. I don't have a date when I stopped worrying, or when I became disciplined, or when I achieved patience (let's face it, I am still working on that one.)

The wonderful part is that my Heavenly Father is keeping track of my milestones. He will be able to show me my scrapbook with moments of accomplishments. That is, if I keep doing the hard work that it is to learn something new. He will keep pushing me to learn the new thing. Not to give up on myself when I just feel like I will always be impatient or selfish. He will continue to put me in situations to help me learn. And until I get it, he will keep wiping my tears, and telling me I can do it!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Status Updates

So, I have a facebook friend that really is an encouragement to me in my walk with Christ. Honestly, he is someone I hardly know. Before you all start thinking I am having an inappropriate relationship, I assure you I am not. I haven't communicated with him since college, and even then we maybe had a few classes together, have barely said more than hello to each other, ever. Basically what I am saying, is all I really know about this guy is what comes through on my news feed.

This friend, exemplifies a life surrendered to Christ in status updates. He doesn't preach, he doesn't quote scripture, he simply gives snippets of his life. I can see that he loves God and makes time for him and is obedient to him. I can see that he loves his wife, honors and respects her and makes time for her. I can see that he loves his kids, plays with them, encourages them and shares his life with them. I can see that he serves others in his church. I can see that he has joy in the journey.

I was encouraged by the fact that I could see Christ's love in someone I don't know. Perhaps the way I live my life, might be an example to someone else? This question compels me to keep putting myself out there. To keep trying to represent Christ at church, in the grocery store with three kids, or even on facebook.

Matthew 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Thursday, March 11, 2010


A few years ago, I was a new mom, whom had just moved to a new town, and my mom and sister were really my only friends in town. While they are both great friends, they had their own lives, friends, churches, and jobs. So, I had one delightfully easy baby, and a lot of lonely time.

So, I started praying for girlfriends. I would prayed specifically for my neighborhood, since that seemed like an all too convenient place to have friends. I would go for walks and pray for the houses as I passed by.

Speed warp 6 years with me. I have friends! Not just people that I will hang out with, or that are okay. I have women in my life who inspired and challenge me. People who make me laugh. People who I am proud to be with, cry with, play with, share life with. My Bible study for example is this collective group of women who are funny, and smart, and lovely, and generous, and introspective, and honest and loyal, and compassionate, and blunt, and altogether beautiful. They all love Jesus and are striving to be more like him everyday.

I often say that the other stay-at -home moms in my life are my co-workers. (And my husband always reminds me that I get to pick my co-workers, and most people don’t. ) So yes, I am spoiled because I pick the people I have in my life, but I am here to say how blessed and thankful I am for them.

I know it sounds cliché to say that women were meant to be in relationship, but I guess for this women, I really was. So when I have goodness surrounding me like this, I can take the challenges of the rough days.

Thanks ladies, who are in my life. I am so so thankful for you. I don’t think I could do it without you. And thanks for my Savior, who saw my loneliness and put me here, with all these friends, and a reminder that he really does here my prayers.

My daughter has been a little lonely lately. So, we have switched our prayers to friends for her. In fact, the house across the street is for sale and I am praying for a sweet little girl. But the best part is, I can show Ellie how He answered my prayers, and I know he will do the same for her.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dating God

Today, in Bible Study we were talking about being God reveling himself to us, and why doesn't he just make himself easier for us to understand. Why are there stories in the old testament and frankly in our own lives that seem to us unjust and maybe even unkind? Why can't we get the answers and the full story while we are yet in the pain of a struggle.

Jill remarked "in truth, our heads would explode if God tried to reveal all that he is to us". That would be messy. We ultimately decided that through every experience in life, at least when we are looking for him, we get a little closer to knowing the heart of God. It makes me think of dating your spouse. When you dating, you go out with a person, or spend time with them, and learn a little something new each time. At some point, you decide that you are in to stay. That the good that you discover in this process, outweighs the bad. With God, we keep getting to unwrap layers of who he is and his heart, and each layer is good.

I would say, I am an optimist. Not always, but most of the time, I am looking for the good in a situation. This is a trait that I inherited from my dad and am regularly thankful for. 7 years ago, I was pregnant with my first baby, and the ultrasound showed that my baby would die. As heart wrenching as this time was for me, I found joy in the situation. I knew that God was at work in me and he would use this in my life. I honestly was not bitter or angry. James 1:2-3 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

Lest I seem proud of this, I will confess to you that Satan used the months after, while I was trying to get pregnant, to tempt me into anger, entitlement and jealousy. I of course later saw the silliness of my impatience during those months of waiting for a baby. Yet, my story has a happy ending. I now have three happy, healthy children. So, it is easy for me to see what God was up to in this situation.

However, there are many people who don't get to wrap their faith stories up into neat little packages with a perfect bow on top. I have dear people in my life who are living with painful situations, with no end in sight. No solution. No resolution. No bow on top. This is where the stuff of real faith is made.

I want to face the trails of life, and the comforts of life ,with pure joy. I want to exhibit joy in the journey of knowing God. I have decided that I am going to love the dating process with him. As I enjoy each experience, and peel back another layer of his goodness, I am going to smile about the fact that God has written me into His story and I get to be a part of His world.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

After School

My mom gave me the most amazing gift. Everyday after school she was there when we got home. And, not just there, she would clear her schedule everyday at that time. And she would sit and chat with us. I have two sisters so that means that my mom set aside an hour every day for 24 years. I am sure she missed some here or there. Or there were times we had musical practice or piano lessons, but you get the point. She was there. She fed us cookies and listened to our heartbreaks and victories. By the time we got to high school, the other moms would call mine, to find out "what is going on". She knew, because she was there to listen.

So, today was a snow day. And I bundled my three children up and braved the roads to head to my moms. I miss these after school talks, as I am many years removed from them, so now I do them in bulk. I come for the whole day, and plop on her couch and share with my mom. Now instead of talking about the boys I like, or my crazy homework load, I talk about my friends, and my kids, and my husband, and my biblestudy. If those walls could talk...

My mom has started a blog, and I must admit it is much better than mine. But we were talking about the advantages of blogging. Of the accountablity out there and how it makes you want to live a life worth writing about. I was telling her about how when I write, I find insights in there, I didn't know I had. For me, it is about being reflective. About taking some time to be silent and hearing what I am thinking, or better yet, what the holy spirit is teaching.

My Bible study this week was the same idea. I am reading Crave by Chris Tomlinson and he was talking about ways to quiet your life, so that there isn't so much noise, and you can actually communicate with God. I am currently sitting in a silent house, I can hear the heater, a ticking clock and my fingers on these keys. It is such a difference than I am used to.

I haven't written in a while, which only proves I haven't been reflective. I need slow days with my mom. I need slow days with my Savior. I need to set aside my to-do list, and sit with my kids. I am so glad that God keeps after me. I am so glad he gave me a mom who modeled the kind of relationship He wants to have with me. I am also so glad that he throws a snow day in, every once in a while, so that I don't miss the important stuff.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Wall of Blessings

This holiday season, as the cards started coming in, I decided to hang them from a cute ribbon on a door in my kitchen. By the time the holiday's were over, I had three ribbons from the top of the door to the floor, that couldn't bear the weight of the cards that were attached. As I look at the happy faces of friends and family that brightened my kitchen for a month, I am overwhelmed with the blessings that those cards represent. I am so thankful for friends old and new. I am so thankful for my family, just the five of us, and the entire extension. We are so rich.

As the holiday season comes to an end, I am eager to keep close to mind, the relationships that bless my life. My family is so loving an supportive. Sometimes people get hurt, sometimes life is hard, but they remain consistent and gracious. According to God's design. I also can't help but be thankful for my friends. I don't have one perfect friend, I have many friends that bless my life in different and wonderful ways. I have friends that challenge me, and ones that I make an effort to challenge. I have friends that I call when I am sad, and some that are just so much fun.

Lately, it seems I have seen and even experienced some hurt feelings by friends and family. I honestly can say, I am thankful for that. It reminds me how important it is to stay humble in all my relationships. I know I certainly make mistakes in my relationships. I do things that hurt, even if I don't mean to. It is also a reminder to me about the importance of my relationship with Christ. I want my relationship with my savior to be source of blessing and joy to him.

Relationship are often about the investment that you make. The more of yourself you put in, the more you get out. This year, I am going to approach my relationships with this truth. It is worth it to take time to go on a date with my Nate, or to stay in and listen, or to do little things for him. It is worth it to go out with friends. It is worth it to read for hours with my kids, or play trains, even though I don't want to. It is worth it to watch a friends kids, or bring a meal. Mostly, it is worth it to spend a significant amount of my time with God. It is worth it to do all of these things, but as I do, I know that those relationships will grow and bring more blessings into my life.

So, as I clean up my house, and put Christmas away, I am going to keep in my heart the joy of friendships and family. I am going to focus on loving Christ with all my heart and giving my heart to him. I am going to put myself into my relationships as I know it will enrich my life as well as hopefully others. I am thankful for my wall of blessing and the reminder those cards were to me, of how important and valuable those relationships are. I am richly blessed.


About Me

I am a wife, mother of three, friend to many, sister, daughter, and follower of Christ.