Hope > Fear

Fear can snowball and fear can be contagious, but God has promised us that He has plans for us, and His hope is greater than any fear. Focusing on the hope in God is what conquers our fears. The rainbow is one example in nature that symbolizes this promise of God’s faithfulness.

I remember one summer when two uncles suddenly died, and other close family members, including my mom, had major health episodes. It was a very difficult time but looking back on it, I know that it softened my heart. I was fiercely independent, and a hard time like that forced me to need others more and have real Christian community. Also, during that hard season, I met my then-to-be future husband. Thankfully summers don’t come around like that often but I feel like God has provided a lot of healing.

Right now fear and anxiety rage in the face of the coronavirus. People are afraid for their health, retirement savings, work, etc. The memes about toilet paper and other humorous topics help to keep things light, but there still is underlying uncertainty raging that only God can calm.

Hope > Fear – let us pray that God is glorified through the coronavirus situation:

Hope you and your loved ones are doing well,

Kristen

Do not lose heart!

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Our two oldest daughters changed schools mid-year recently, for very good reasons, and while they have been thriving, I’ve been struggling with my schedule. I feel like I’ve been going through a period of hills and valleys. I’ve had weeks that are fabulous, and other days/weeks that I’ve wondered how I’m going to get through the craziness.

Can you relate? I think until you go through something yourself, it’s hard to understand the anxiety that accompanies changes and uncertainty. In the midst of changes, I feel like it’s hardest for me when I don’t get ‘me time’, but then I feel selfish sometimes for wanting that.

Compared to many other trials in life, changing schools isn’t that hard or scary, but changes, no matter what they are, can catch us off guard. I’m thankful that these have drawn me closer to God, made me ask others more for help, and encouraged me to declutter my schedule.

This Valentine’s Day I’m going to try to focus on finding joy from the things that matter, and not lose heart. Isn’t Valentine’s Day all about heart? 🙂 Spend time with those you love and let the things that don’t matter, fade away.

Mommy (and summertime) blues

I have a friend who just had her first child.  Take it from her, and from me – it’s an adjustment, especially when you’re in your thirties!  You’ve had your career, then marriage and career, and now baby, marriage and (sometimes) career – a lot to juggle.

My cousin shared this image with my moms group and me – it’s been super helpful.  I think it’s helpful for people who aren’t moms too.  With the summertime especially comes a change in routine, and it’s helpful to have a simple checklist to keep oneself sane. 🙂

Managing Mommy Melancholy.jpeg

People combat the blues in different ways – staying busy is probably the chief way.  It’s not that being busy is bad but it doesn’t always truly solve the problem.

Fill yourself up today and enjoy your summer!

Calling

People say that hindsight is 20/20.  I believe that God calls people to specific places for specific times, and all of us have different callings.  It’s funny how I believe that God is in control but sometimes it’s hard to see in the moment how He’s working.  It is so powerful to look back and reflect on what He’s done.  I could go on and on.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about and easier to write about.

When I was in 6th grade they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, and they published it under our names in the yearbook.  I said ‘Accountant’.  Funny thing is now I am a Certified Public Accountant.  If you asked me in my senior year of college what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would tell you that I had no idea.  4 years of education.   2 majors and a minor, and I didn’t really know but I would tell you that I wasn’t keen on accounting – seemed boring – and I liked my other major, Spanish, so I thought for the time being I’d pursue that.  A partner at the accounting firm that I interned at thought that I’d become a hippie and not pay social security.  Well that never has been true but it took me a couple years to ‘find myself.’  I’ve been in public accounting for 10 years now.

When I left college I went back to New Jersey and was a Spanish teacher for a couple years.  All throughout college I told people that I thought that I needed to marry a guy from New Jersey.  I guess God had placed that on my heart.  As it turns out I met a guy who grew up a couple blocks away from me but we never met until after college.  This guy is now my husband.  For years in college I felt that I wasn’t going to meet my husband there – I was going to meet him in New Jersey – and that’s exactly what happened.

Fast forward a couple years.  All throughout college my dad marveled at western Pennsylvania, where I went to college.  He liked the culture and the affordability.  He was always looking at houses and showing them to me.  Then when my husband was in the military, especially when he was overseas deployed, we would dream together of owning a home in Pittsburgh.  It helped to have something to look forward to.  We wanted to settle down and start a family in a place where we could afford to buy a good sized home.  For about 3 years we dreamed about this and then it became a reality, and for the past 10 years we’ve now lived in Pittsburgh.

You may say to yourself that you don’t have stories like this but I promise you that if you live by faith in the God of the Bible you will, but more importantly you’ll know that He calls you to know Him.  I’ve been playing this song over and over again recently and it keeps hitting me, and I encourage you to play the YouTube version:

“As You Find Me” by Joel Houston, Matt Crocker & Benjamin Hastings © 2018 Hillsong Music Publishing CCLI: 7124065

VERSE 1: I’ve been strong And I’ve been broken within a moment I’ve been faithful And I’ve been reckless at every bend I’ve held everything together And watched it shatter I’ve stood tall and I have crumbled In the same breath

VERSE 2: I have wrestled And I have trembled toward surrender Chased my heart adrift And drifted home again Plundered blessing Till I’ve been desperate to find redemption And every time I turn around Lord You’re still there

PRE-CHORUS 1: I was found Before I was lost I was Yours Before I was not Grace to spare For all my mistakes And that part just wrecks me

CHORUS: And I know I don’t deserve this kind of love Somehow this kind of love is who You are It’s a grace I could never add up To be somebody You still want But somehow You love me as You find me

VERSE 3: Who am I To think Your glory needs my praises But if this borrowed breath is Yours Lord Take it all You are faithful and You are gracious And I’m just grateful To think You don’t need a single thing And still You want my heart

PRE-CHORUS 2: I was found Before I was lost I was Yours Before I was not You wear the scars For all my mistakes And that part just wrecks me

TAG: Your love’s too good to leave me here

BRIDGE: If You want my heart I won’t second guess ‘Cause I need Your love More than anything I’m in I’m Yours Your love’s too good to leave me here Your love’s too good to leave me

 

KonMari with Kids!

Do you long to declutter? Does it seem impossible with kids? There’s a Facebook group called KonMari with kids that I’ve found to be super helpful – check it out!

Marie Kondo has been popular for a while but recently her popularity has soared with her new Netflix series! Before having baby girl #3, I Kon-Maried my house from top to bottom – mostly between the hours of 2-4am when I couldn’t sleep (all my kids were real active in the womb)! Also – just like Marie Kondo, I’m super into going paperless (I have another webpage devoted to that and my e-pamphlet ). I have a lifestyle of promptly throwing out, shredding or scanning papers – I HARDLY HAVE ANY PAPER IN THE HOUSE. It’s wonderful! I feel like it’s a huge stress reliever.

Anyway yet again we decided to KonMari our kids toys this past weekend. Here’s how we are organizing them:

You can see how each bin is labeled (LOL dolls, Hatchimals, Shopkins, Barbies, etc.). Very few toys live outside these bins and it’s been very helpful to teach the girls to clean up. Still, usually every Christmas or early winter we KonMari our house once again. Maybe we need to take a year off from getting Christmas presents (or something)! Still getting new gifts gives us a chance to share our used ones with someone in need.

Let me know your thoughts on kids and clutter in the comments below!

Kristen

Embracing Change

Yesterday we had a National Day of Mourning for George H. W. Bush.  This change brought tears to many, but I would venture to say that it brought joy to celebrate the life of a man who was respected by many.  Pictures like this one below flooded Facebook – celebrating a couple that many remember fondly.

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Do we celebrate life and embrace change?  Or do we often get stuck, afraid of what lies in the future?  The Bushes had a lot of difficult changes in their marriage – one of which was the death of their daughter at age 3 to leukemia.  George W. Bush, his son, spoke at the memorial service of how his father prayed everyday to God Almighty when he dealt with this very difficult, very sad event.  This was a change that no one wanted, but it obviously made George H. W. Bush and his family members into the people that they are.

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On a lighter note, the changing of the seasons is upon us – it’s COLD here in great state of Pennsylvania!  Although it was pleasantly 60+ degrees this past Sunday!  We haven’t had much snow but my daughters love every snow flake that falls.  They dance and spin around in the driveway with the slightest wind and snow that comes down, playing with the leaves and snow dusting.  They LOVE the seasons.

I would say that as much as we try to keep our kids comfortable, they thrive on change.  Starting elementary school…making new friends…visiting a new museum or amusement park…  They are sponges and they are learning and growing.  Let’s not stifle them out of fear or selfishness.  I want to keep my kids the way they are right now – I have a hard time imagining my 4 year-old in kindergarten.  I want to enjoy spending time with my 7 year-old when she comes home from school, rather than setup play dates.  BUT I’m trying to embrace these changes.  I challenge you – and I challenge myself – to embrace change and ENJOY the season we find ourselves in.

 

Anxiety (Defeated)

Do you live with anxiety?  Do you have trouble sleeping?  Do you avoid things because it appears to be less stressful than addressing them?

A couple weeks ago I came home after going out shopping for my birthday with my mom.  The gate to our fence was open and my 4-year-old daughter’s green bike was sitting near it in the driveway.  I was concerned a bit as I thought she was playing with the gate open, but as I walked around the yard I couldn’t find her.  I asked my husband and my dad who were supposed to be watching her, and they thought that the other one was watching her.   I started to panic and we all started running around the house and yard trying to find her.  Not to stereotype middle children, but this little one likes to blend in and apparently LOVES to hide.  This wasn’t the first time that she hid in a corner of our sunroom (that’s where I found her).  I was relieved and prayed aloud thanking God that she was safe, and the smile on her face showed me that she had found some sort to of thrill out of this hide & seek game that she created.  Needless to say we play a lot of hide & seek games now to get this out of her system!  It was scary.

I was quite upset for a couple weeks – I had a hard time sleeping getting over the situation.  When something traumatic happens psychologists say that it’s important to not stay on ‘high alert’ – it’s important to recover as our body needs to relax and rest.  It’s important to talk about what happened, face the fear, look for joy in other things, etc.  My husband and I went away for the weekend recently, and I started to wonder if something would happen to the kids while we were away (mostly concerned that it would be of their own doing!).  I had a hard time sleeping that night we were away, but I prayed with my husband and started feeling a sense of gratitude – that my in-laws could spend time with their grandkids.  Immediately after this I got a peace and went to sleep.  It’s amazing what gratitude can do!

In my Bible Study we are going through The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp and the book talks about how the average human has 25,500 days in their life.  Do we want to waste our life living in anxiety?  The Bible says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6.  If it’s a command, then isn’t it possible with God’s help?  Ann Voskamp lost her sister at a young age in a tragic circumstance.  She struggled with anxiety much of her life growing up.  In her book she propels that anxiety can be defeated by being broken before the Lord.  I’ve seen this in my own life.  By doing this He will provide opportunities for gratitude and healing, and by helping others in service and obedience to Him, we will find true joy.

-Kristen