Thursday, October 30, 2014

ah, the fall & family time

Fall. We really cannot get enough of you this year.
Maybe it is also because we live 10 minutes from this place and no matter where we are you can't hide the SASSY of Miss Evy Imani....

Maybe it is because playing in the leaves is somehow magical and healing.

Maybe it is because while the kids are too young for a long hike a quick run through the woods is the best sort of family time I can imagine.....

Maybe the warm weather has made us forget what is coming...

Maybe it is because of the cooperation and appreciation that comes when you take time to be together without an agenda.......

Maybe it is because listening to tiny converse clad feet take little steps on the path is one of the best sounds I can think of...

Maybe the smell of the fall and the smell of this dude's little head compete for the best eva...

maybe it is becuase we get to experience it all with these little people.....
Even on the chaotic days (and there are many of those) this is the life I would choose over and over again. Asking God for the grace and grateful heart to always remember that.
Enjoying the last days of fall,

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

a night for birthday bling

Our next door neighbors quickly became friends we see everyday. They moved here from Southern India last year and the kids play together almost everyday and quickly became like siblings (bickering and all).  We were invited to celebrate their little girl turning 2 and I finally got to wear my sari from Varanasi which I completely forgot how to actually wear correctly but luckily there were many ladies to help me get my fancy on.

Happy Birthday Vinnu!

Their family in India "attended" the party too thanks to Skype (they got up at 5am their time to see everything!)

beautiful Mama and the birthday girl

My blinged out self and my boo. I might have been barely able to walk but I still managed to eat 3 plates of the amazing food!!We are grateful for our friends and to have been included in their community celebration.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

pumpkins, knives, duct tape, & friends

We tricked or treated in town today and then spent the afternoon carving pumpkins.  We even taught first timer Nirdesh to carve one. I mean kids with knives...what could go wrong?

We waited a bit too long to actually carve our pumpkins so I may or may not have cropped out the chunks of rotten and animal eaten holes in this one. Nothing a little duct tape couldn't help.  I wish I was kidding!

learning all about weird American traditions :)

And yes, this picture....I DIE!
Yeah for fall fun.

Friday, October 24, 2014

when I'm ugly and God sets me free..again...

I think God is teaching me something and yet again because I am so willfully stubborn it is slowly burrowing deeper and manifesting as a restlessness in my heart.  Like all truth that does not suit my preferences it is taking time to actually penetrate my soul.  He pursues us and for that I am grateful, even if what I discover is more ugliness He wants to uproot in my life. Again.  Because uprooting makes room for new planting and harvesting.  As I was following two sweet little girls around the woods trying to capture sweet smiles I looked up at the surrounding trees.  Ironic that in fall the death of leaves is actually beautiful and makes room for new life.

I'm the god of my life too often.  True story.
I can be apathetic to the hurts and struggles around me because my focal point is smack dab in the middle of my own mess.  I think I can control or figure out everything and if I get it just right I won't feel so desperate all the time. I lift others up but make petty and rude comments to my own husband when no one is looking.  My selfishness comes out in harsh words or apathy towards our kids.  I bend the rules for myself but hold them up for those closest to me.  I justify my sins; "I deserve this", "At least I am not doing that", "everyone struggles with impatience or anger or envy (insert sin here)."  I make huge what God says is small and I brush off what He says is a stumbling block.  I care too much about what people think of me.  Moving and starting over has made me realize that I still struggle with this more than I know or care to admit. "...for they loved human praise more than the praise of God." I keep coming back to this day after day.  I know this because I serve others eagerly but struggle to serve my husband and kids on a daily basis in the small tasks of butt wiping, sweeping up Cheerios, and packing and unpacking book bags. I want things in return for all my efforts. ick unload.

But God says something different. We are called to invite those to the banquet that can never repay us; not those who will reward us with praise.  Seemingly selfless acts done for selfish reasons are ugly, just like the Pharisees who pray loudly so all can hear "they received their reward in full."  Jesus even told one he was like a cup that was polished on the outside while the inside was disgustingly dirty. Ouch. But is where Jesus rocks my world yet again. He said the cure for this is not more polishing; more seminars, more self help books, more resolutions, more trying really hard, more good intentions. I think those all ricochet off the gates of heaven if we don't really seek only Him and His kingdom. He said "give yourself as a gift and then you will be clean." One of the many paradoxes of Jesus; don't hold back, get it together, and try really hard but radically trust God and pour yourself out for others for His glory. 

Scribbled in my journal are pieces of what He is showing me.....My heart attitude matters to God, not just my outward actions, especially when those actions are done with a bitter, stubborn, or begrudging heart. My selfishness manifests is all sorts of nasty and robs me of the life God wants for me in the micro moments of everyday.  I am realizing that lately it is like I am leading a quiet rebellion in my soul against who God says I am; free, loved, redeemed.  I keep trying to do better and be better and then am shocked when I feel helplessly lost when I inevitably fail.    And I am always afraid that people won't like the real me; full of paradoxes and hypocrisy and failures. But then as I get to know others; I mean really know them,  I am reminded they are too.  And I need this mutual vulnerability even when it comes at a cost of vanity or pride. And it always does. So maybe in my mess I am really becoming free. Because it is becoming easier for me to see it as ugliness and not justify it away.  I feel the roots being pulled up and the soil being prepared for something new. Again. 

I want my life to be defined by blessing; radical gratitude lived in small and big moments of love that spills from me. That requires humility and not the false kind we toss around as if it is meaningful. The kind that believes all we do is for His glory, the small moments we think no one is watching and the bigger moments lived out with others. Good News is not something we just talk about and hope for it is something we live; even in the midst of our messes because in  our Creator there is Joy and Hope found no where else.

 He has called me His and I am free.  But I am still struggling to embrace my freedom.  I am really free. Free from burdens and yokes that weigh us down or those we step into and comfortably wear because it is what we know.  I am free. You are too. We are free to live and learn and hurt and grow and forgive and embrace and bump into one another and be honest about the journey.  God says we are forgiven and loved not because of anything we have ever done or could ever do.  There is such relief in that.  Not relief to do whatever I wish but relief to surrender and stop trying so hard.  Relief and grace to live abundantly. Redemption is powerful and doesn't just adjust my world: it completely interrupts, disrupts, reorders, and remakes my life if I choose to surrender.  This journey requires way more sacrifice and letting go than I ever thought when I accepted Jesus' invitation to walk with Him but it also offers way more freedom and life in that releasing than I ever thought possible. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

a cabin in the woods

I will not spend 7 hours in the car with my children unless when we get out of that car there is something pretty awesome.

And the cabin was pretty awesome y'all.
We joined Jason's cousin and his wife and their 2 boys for a long weekend in a little cabin in the woods near Three Lakes, Wisconsin. We had not been up there since we were dating but the cabin has been in Jason's family for at least 40 years.  One thing is for sure: we will not wait another 15 years.  It is outrageously beautiful and quiet and peaceful. One morning I ran for 30 minutes and only saw a deer! The kids had a blast canoeing, attending a pumpkin festival in town, digging in the dirt, finding things to chop with an axe, and scouting adventures.

We read and talked and ate and drank coffee and went for walks and repeated.  It was a perfect fall getaway.

We went in to town to browse for nothing in particular and ended up with bags of candy and beef jerky.  We spent time in toy stores and trading posts that have stayed pretty much the same since Jason was a youngin. It is the kind of small town where the thrift shop gives away stuffed animals just because.

I even got to do a family life session for the Willis fam.

The guys went out for beer and the ladies went out for coffee and the kids played until called and came in with dirt under their fingernails and mud on their knees and stayed up watching movies.
 It was just about perfect.

This one last bright red leaf was holding  on and each morning I would check to see if she had given up on fall and succumbed to winter. Not just yet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

belated post for a birthday boy

Our little boy turned one on October 2! We did it little guy; we made it through year 1- admittedly not my fav part of parenting but we love this guy so much we could never imagine our family without his presence. We will celebrate with cousin Charlie in November but wanted to mark his special day as a family. The girls helped me make some pumpkin cupcakes and decorated with some home made signs.

thankfully thanks to Paps's quick reflexes this DID NOT end poorly.

It took a little convincing by his sisters but once he tried the frosting he was ALL OVER this birthday madness.

Surrounded by home-made signs and all his adoring family we celebrated our little boy turning 1.  Our baby is becoming a big boy and we adore him,