The Journey // A Discovery on Loving Well

If you’ve been reading this blog with any sort of regularity, you probably already know that this little space is where I work out the things swirling around in my head. Getting the words out and making them real and tangible often helps me realize things with new clarity or allows me to meditate and organize snippets of thoughts that have flashed through my brain.

So here we go again. Let’s get a peek at what’s been swirling around in this mama’s head.

My thoughts have been coming back a lot to loving well and blessing others. My word that I chose to focus on this year is BLESS. If you want to read more about it, you can check out the post here.

But I’m going to let you all in on a secret: Writing down the words is not enough. Having the best intentions to love well and bless others just isn’t enough. I think the key to actually loving well and blessing others, is simply going for it! Correct me if I’m wrong…but I’m pretty sure I’m right!

I’m not even saying it has to be some big extravagant gesture, but the key is to do it! Pray for the person you’ve been intending to pray for, write a friend, or have someone new over.

Friends, sometimes I’m afraid I’m all intentions. I really want to love well and bless, but sometimes I’m just way too comfortable in my introvert bubble. And then there’s working around nap times and feeding the family, not to mention Instagram and Facebook, and let’s not forget Fixer Upper! #kindofinlovewithChipandJoJo

And then there’s this pull to balance loving my family well and loving my neighbors well. Right now I really want to devote a lot of time to the girls. Spending time with them, being at home with them and loving them well is where I want to be and what I want to be doing. I fall short daily and am incredibly thankful for God’s grace, but at home is where I feel comfortable.

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When it comes to loving my neighbors well, I’m not as comfortable. But I’m in Africa for goodness sake, so shouldn’t I be DOING MORE? And this is where that uncomfortable pull between family and neighbors and intentions and doing comes into play.

If I don’t attend the widow’s group or decide not to go to Smile Africa like I planned (though I have no real obligation or formal responsibility to go), I feel guilty. Am I using my gifts? Am I shining His light? I was going to go, but then I napped with the girls instead, or decided to stay home on a day when sass and attitude ran high, maybe we were just having a really good day, or potty training was somehow seeming to get the best of us.

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And right now I just don’t have the answers. I’m in process and I’m working it out. I’m working on following His will with a joyful and willing heart. I’m working on using my gifts and talents the way He wants them to be used. I’m working out following His path even if it’s uncomfortable, because there may be a lot of beauty waiting for me down the road. I’m working on the balance of loving my family well and loving my neighbors well. Of blessing those around me daily and letting my light shine in whatever way He intends.

And even though I don’t have the answers, I know Jesus does. And I know that I’m not working things out a lone. I know that whenever I feel guilty or like I’ve fallen short, He’s working on me. Wherever I feel uncomfortable, or shy, He’s working on me. Wherever I’m trying to find balance and love others well, He’s working on me. 

And if I can remember that through each moment of each day and through each apparent triumph and failure He is working on me and walking with me, then maybe it’s not so much of a struggle, but more of a journey.ephesians1

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A Birthday Letter //To Gracie

Our girls have close birthdays. The night Lillie was born we threw Gracie her second birthday party! So this week is a letter to Gracie for her fourth birthday.

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Dear Gracie,

Happy fourth birthday big girl! My love for you grows each day sweet girl. There are so many times you push my mama buttons, but little lady, you are a wonderful gift! Your heart sings (often literally and loudly) for the Lord. You live out your emotions and there is no hiding how you feel. You are sensitive, funny, smart, bossy, creative, and you have a heart for Jesus.

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You are strong and you are kind. You are amazing and uniquely made to glorify God. You are a true princess because  you are the King’s daughter.

Your expressions and words make me think you are four going on thirteen. The rolled eyes, crossed arms, and foot taps tell me we will have some adventures (to say the least) in the coming years.

 

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I’m looking forward to these adventures with you. With hope and joy and expectancy in watching you grow into a strong and confident woman of God.

 

Remember that you are so loved.

Remember you are a daughter of the King.

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Remember that you can be a light for Christ wherever you go.

Remember to find joy in His gracious gifts.

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Remember to give yourself grace as you learn

Remember to never be afraid to stand for who you are in Christ.

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You are a princess and always will be.

Love, Mommy

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Wear {8} // Little Black Tank

While back in the U.S. I received an awesome Many Waters necklace from sweet Megan at New Eve Jewelry. I was so excited about it, because I have been wanting to start adding meaningful accessories to my capsule wardrobe and this necklace is so versatile! You can check out some more styling I did with it here.

So of course I brought this necklace back with me to Uganda, and of course I have been wearing it…when I’m not visiting the Smile Africa babies home where it will very quickly get ripped off my neck and chewed on!

I also picked up a four dollar, black tank at WalMart. I know…it’s not going to be a piece that lasts forever, but for now, it is doing the job! Add with a maxi skirt that I made from authentic African fabric, and I have a few new outfits to put together!

This first outfit was one I put together for a casual Valentine’s date. Black and white with some pops of red…red lips and nails that is!

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Shirt: WalMart//Pants: Kohls//Necklace:New Eve Jewelry//Shoes: Keen

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My awesome, handmade  Valentine’s day card for my favorite husband!

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This next outfit pairs the black tank with my handmade African skirt. The skirt fabric is African wax fabric. It was an easy maxi dress to make and even has pockets…my favorite! Make your own maxi skirt following these easy instructions!

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And since it’s always Summer in Uganda, this black tank is going to get A LOT of wear!

 

A Birthday Letter // To Lillie

Lillian recently turned two. Each year I like to write a little birthday note to the girls. To remember how they were at this point in time and to look back on later and shower them in encouragement. She’s still too little to understand it all, but it doesn’t make me mean it any less!

Dear Lillie,

Happy second birthday dear one. You are my cuddler. My baby. My cling to me and wrap your little monkey legs around me so I’ll never let you go babe. You still smoosh up close and nurse for comfort at night. When you tell me you’re sleepy, you just want to be held.

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You are spunky. You know how to work your cuteness. you choose who gets to cheese and giggle with you, it usually can’t be forced.

The way you enunciate your words melts my heart. The way I have to repeat everything you say, so you know I understand is pretty darling. And the way you answer with an enthusiastic, “yeah!” when I get it right ,makes a smile light up my whole face.

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You are stubborn, but you are oh so sweet. And your cuteness often gets you off the hook…even when it probably shouldn’t.

You love little babies and are so incredibly gentle. You are all the sweetness and spirit of of my favorite two year old wrapped up in the cutest package I could imagine.

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Stay stubborn-working for the things and people you know to be right and good.

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Stay loving-and let the love of Jesus shine through you.

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Stay innocent-and see God’s world and people with wonder.

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Stay joyful-find joy and gratefulness for each of God’s blessings.

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We love you sweet girl and are amazed at how much you learn and grow each day.

Love, Mommy

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Trying the Charlotte Mason Way-Tot Home School

As we get back into a routine here in Uganda, I’ve once again started to do some loosely structured school lessons with the girls each day. Here’s the good news: When I asked Gracie if she wanted to do some school lessons the other day she got pretty excited! Here’s the not so good news: Gracie just turned four and Lillian just turned two. As you can imagine my living in a dream world ideas for school lessons are often completely and utterly demolished by the normal attitudes and abilities of these girls. In my dream world we are able to sit quietly, have long attention spans, and smile and nod as things are done efficiently and correctly. In my real world whining, running, and scowling are all involved at one time or another.

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While back in Ohio over the Christmas season, I got a chance to talk a little home school talk with another mom of littles that are very close in age to my girls. She brought up the Charlotte Mason way of homeschooling, and of course I had to go home and search her on Pinterest…because all the best home school ideas are found there of course. I’m sure I still have A LOT to learn on Charlotte Mason and her ideas on home schooling, but so far I have liked what I have picked up on.

A lot of the learning that is done the Charlotte Mason way is focused on the idea of living books. Living books are one that usually written in a storytelling style. They draw you in, and have beautiful language that is not dumbed-down for children, just because they are children. So instead of using text books, you could create a whole study based off a living book. History, art, science and so on could all be incorporated in a more engaging way.

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Some other focuses of Charlotte Mason include, building good habits, having short lessons for little children, and spending lots of time outdoors. Much of the focus is also on the child’s ideas and allowing her to be creative through engagement in the stories and time spent exploring outside. A few good resources that I have found on these Charlotte Mason ideas can be found here and here.

With the girls being so young and also having our almost 9 month old foster baby in our home, these ideas are VERY appealing to me. Uganda offers the perfect environment for lots of outdoor exploration and my girls have always loved reading. I still like to combine these ideas with other materials we have and ideas that I come up with, but for now I plan to come up with some plans based off of living books we can read. Currently we are reading Eeyore Has a Birthday.

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I decided to just read sections to maintain their attention span as it is a little longer than some of the children’s books they are used to. So far Gracie has stayed pretty engaged and is able to answer questions about what happened and anticipate things that are going to happen next.

I’d love to hear any thoughts you all may have on the Charlotte Mason method! Any good living books that you could suggest? Activities or projects to go with living books? I’d love you to share them so we can try them!

Spread Some Love

Spreading love is something I hope I do on a daily basis. Whether it be at home with my family, online through my blog, or through my Etsy shop, it is definitely something I strive for, but sometimes come up short. The thing is, no matter how hard I try to spread some love, I can’t do it on my own. If I’m always striving on my own, I’ll ALWAYS come up short. BUT. That little word holds the key to the answer. BUT Jesus. I’ll always come up short, BUT because of Jesus, my love is enough. I’ll always make mistakes, BUT because of Jesus, I’m forgiven. I’ll always feel like I could be doing more, BUT because of Jesus, I am offered grace.

My word for this year is BLESS. I want to count my blessings and work to bless those around me. I want to spread some love by not just thinking about myself. I want to love as Christ loves with an unselfish and generous love.

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I’m human. I sometimes, often, ALWAYS fall short in one way or another. But through His grace and forgiveness I learn and I grow. This week I want to work on loving and blessing my girls. With an eight hour time change, African heat, and trying to get back in a routine, everyone can get a little cranky. I snap too easily or am just too lazy to always follow through with what I say. After reading one of the link ups from Mama Shares Monday last week, I have a few ideas on how to love my girls better this week. This post from The Deliberate Mom had some great ideas on how to stop yelling at your kids. This week I want to bless my girls by working to not get frustrated and fed up so easily when they are not being perfect little angels. Two tips I took away from the post were that the times I feel like yelling-Get close and talk to them and choose to pour out love on them. Such good and timely advice!

So this week, and this February, let’s work to spread some love. Not the fluffy bunny, candy hearts, googly eyes kind of love (though that’s fun too!), but the love of Jesus. The love of Jesus that blesses as no other love can. My love might not be perfect, BUT Jesus’ is!

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God is Good

Tomorrow we fly back to Uganda. The travel back and forth is always bitter sweet. Good byes and hellos. Leaving the super comfortable and familiar, and heading back to the still somewhat new and unknown.

We leave Ohio with hearts that have been replenished through spending time with family and friends. Our girls have been loved on well. We’ve had many great conversations and get -togethers with friends we haven’t seen for awhile. To once again be close to our family has been a good feeling.

We also leave Ohio with hearts a little heavier. There have been major health changes and scares and losses to those we love and hold dear. We have transitioned through changes with some and mourned losses with others.

But we are also ready to be back in Tororo, Uganda. Back with Jia and our foster baby Helen. Back to developing the relationships that have begun to form. Back to our own space and a more consistent routine. And back to weather that is a little warmer than Ohio!

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But through the transitions and the changes, the heavy hearts and the joys, we know our God is present. We know that His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. We know that He is good, and He is good ALL the time.

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