Saturday, January 31, 2015

Date Knight

Our church hosted a date night for moms and sons. The theme was Knights and it was quite possibly the cutest thing ever. We had a table set for two. Dinner by candle light. Professional photos. A little dancing. And of course dessert. When I asked Harry what he liked best. He said, "...maybe the chocolate!" My sweet little knight was (mostly) a gentleman, and if he hadn't already stolen my heart...he most certainly did tonight!

He tried to blow the candle out, all evening!

Dessert tastes better when you wear a little of it on your face. Clearly! 

Dancing with his favorite big boy Tony!

Harry's blurry shot of the table after dinner.

Last but not least: a picture of me, photo credit goes to Harry. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Letter: 3 Years

Dear Harrison,

Three years ago today, you were born. I am in AWE of how you made our family so full. Full of laughter, joy, tears, hugs, noise, smooches, and lots and lots of messes. Seriously, you are the boss of making a mess. All we have to do is give you about 10 minutes and the house looks like a disaster zone. Even though it makes me crazy sometimes...I really LOVE the mess. I love that life is no longer quiet and tidy with you around.

Now that you're three (and potty-trained :) WAHOO!) I finally feel like I have a big boy. My baby is slipping away, and while the thought of it used to make me cry, I am so glad you are three. You are loving and tender-hearted. You can be bossy and sometimes rude...but mostly you just love to make people laugh and discover "silly" things that make you laugh.

Oh, that belly laugh. I wish I could bottle it up to save forever.

You still love trains, planes, cars...pretty much anything that zooms. You also love animals. Lately you like to be "Harry tiger" which automatically makes me "Mommy tiger". We play this game with animals, name it!

The other day on the way home from school you were telling me about which letters are "for" your friends. "H is for Harry. M is for Myla..." I am amazed by the things you are learning on a daily basis.

Last night when I told you "three more bites" of dinner, without skipping a beat you responded with "Dad told me two bites". I looked over at your Daddy who shook his head laughing. He had said no such thing! How do you already come up with stuff like that?! We couldn't help but laugh...but don't get any ideas...your Dad and I are on the same team. I'm sure this is just the first of many attempts to try to get what you want. You really are a kid now!

Happy 3rd birthday sweet Harry boy!

I hope today is wonderful day for you.

Most importantly, today and always, I hope that you know how deeply you are loved. Not just by your family but by Jesus. He knows you better than anyone ever will, and He delights in you my big boy. My greatest hope and prayer for your life is that you grow to know Jesus too. That with every passing year you will grow in a deeper understanding of who Jesus is, and what He has done for you. He has truly changed my life, and continues to do so daily.

It's the greatest adventure you will ever go on, walking with Jesus. I can tell already that you have such an adventurous heart. Your favorite stories involve wild animals like in the Jungle Book, the adventures of your favorite characters from Toy Story, anything with swords, and lately the story of David and Goliath (which you pronounce "Gwi-wif"). Trust for Jesus will be full of grand adventures. I cannot wait to see how and where He leads you in your life.

I'm about to go wake you up (I just can't wait to hug and kiss you). It's time to eat a birthday doughnut for breakfast!!! And tonight after Daddy and I pick you up from school it'll be a special birthday dinner with the three of us. We can't wait to hang out with you and treat you to ice cream for dessert!

...and even though we had your party, I think there's a special present waiting for you to open tonight.

Thanks for being our boy. You are such a blessing in our lives. Seriously...the BEST gift we have ever received came to us the moment you were born.

Love always,


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 27

This post keeps getting renamed.

It was supposed to be posted on Day 25...then Day 26. Here I am two days after starting it and I'm still struggling to put my thoughts into words worth sharing, but here goes:

Even though media isn't consuming my's still easy to waste time. So while I'd love to say every moment has become more meaningful without media vying for my's not entirely true.

However, I do think that after almost a month of not turning on Netflix, I've dropped the habit of automatically watching an episode of my latest TV show binge when I'm doing chores around the house. And when I go to my phone, there really isn't much to do besides take a photo of Harry or check the weather.

The change in my heart has been subtle. Less noise, more quiet time to think. Less visual distraction, more time to pay attention to things that need attending to around the house, and most importantly the people who need attending to. I've been able to catch little moments of Harry playing in the background while I'm doing dishes that I may have missed before because I was more distracted.

I don't know if it's because I'm not as plugged into technology or because he's entering a new stage, but Harry has been asking us to play more with him. I'm not naturally good at playing boy things...but I've been enjoying a little more time flying planes around the family room, driving trains across elaborate tracks, and pretending to be every kind of animal Harry can imagine.

I guess the other thing that I've realized that feels kind of good - I don't have to document every sweet moment of motherhood online for it to have happened. I still take pictures, and in all honesty I am really looking forward to getting back onto Instagram. But I'm okay with the fact that this month we were able to step back and just be. It hasn't been a perfect month. My life is not magazine-worthy...and I'm totally okay with that. And just because there is nothing on my Instagram feed to show for it, doesn't mean that this month wasn't full, or that these memories somehow don't matter as much.

The one thing I'm certain of:

I'm still a mess of a person. I try my hardest, most of the time, and even so I fail time and again. I let people down. I have so much room for growth. My natural tendency is to be selfish. I need Jesus.

Thankfully He isn't finished with me yet.

I'm really hoping that this year He purges my heart in a major way. Getting rid of the old and making room for the new that I didn't even realize I so desperately needed. I feel like He is already stirring my heart up in ways that I've never experienced before. Yet I don't really know what it all means. I just know that He is faithful to keep working on me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Eager Waiting

I can't stop reading this verse. 

Jesus, what should "eager waiting" look like in my life?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Ahoy Matey

We had a "swashbuckling" time at Harry's 3rd Birthday: PIRATE PARTY!

Lots of family and some of Harry's friends (plus their families). Add in a pirate book, a treasure hunt, lots of sugar...and we had one very happy pirate boy (and a really tired Mama)!

My mom's cousin Catherine pulled off the most INCREDIBLE pirate cookies of all time. Seriously...they made the party! (Thanks Catherine)!!!

Three candles for our (almost) THREE year old Harry!

The treasure. was BREATHTAKING!

Story time. Harry insisted on sitting on my lap, and since it was his party...I figured, why not?! :)

The Treasure Hunt...hilarious!

PIZZA :) Harry's favorite!

The PiƱata. I can't tell who was more into it, the kids or the parents ;) lol!

And then...the photo booth. My family got WAY MORE into it than the kids. These pictures will be sure to make an appearance from time to time...just for a good laugh!

All in went down without a hitch. I think that's the right phrase.

Happy Third Birthday Harrison Levi Matt!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 11 :: Discovering Simplicity

I'm pretty sure that I am not alone in my desire for simplicity in my life. More does not always mean better. In fact the more things on my schedule, the more items in my home, the more emails in my inbox...the more stressed I feel.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I've been reading some good books. With several more on my list of books I'm dying to get my hands on. Stat.

The one that I've been engrossed in this past week has been One Thousand Gifts. No joke, I've literally highlighted ten passages and I've only made it to Chapter 4. I'm so challenged, inspired, and encouraged by this incredible book.

These are the sections just from Chapter 3 that make me smile and tear up at the same time:
"Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace" (p. 39).
 "But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on "thanks in all things" and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with over very specific nail at a time" (p. 57).
"I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I've seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the hear and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and ry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?" (p. 58). 
" change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask or nothing to change" (p. 61).
 .    .    .

I am learning, or at least beginning to learn, that a simpler life does not come just from removing distractions and excess. But from tuning my eyes to pay attention to the small details that are truly gifts from God. And rather than just seeing them, turning my heart toward my Savior to say "Thank you Jesus" for this good gift.

I've been keeping a journal for a while now. I'd heard of this book, but never read it. Now that I'm reading it...I am on a hunt to find moments that I can record, to whisper praise to God. I think I may have found a key to a simpler life.

"I will GIVE THANKS to the Lord with my WHOLE HEART;
I will  recount all of your WONDERFUL deeds."

Psalm 9:1 ESV

Here are a few from my "One Thousand Gifts" journal:

21. Hearing Harry says "love you" for the first time (9-17-13)

51. Fall sunshine and crisp air (Oct. 2013)

77. Carving a pumkin with Harry. He is not into getting messy with the guts - one finger touch (Oct. 2013)

231. Josh changing the light bulbs (Mar. 2014)

322. Quiet Saturday morning with coffee, Christmas music, my advent journal from SRT and Harry playing in the background (Dec. 2014)

353. Candlelight flickering while I write; it's dancing on the walls (Jan. 2015)

Friday, January 9, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 8/9

I'm pretty sure Scandal (TV Show that I'm clearly addicted to) started back up last night.

Instead, I read a book in bed before I fell asleep.

And then I dreamt about Instagram. Literally my dream was scrolling through the photo stream. For what felt like most of the night.
.    .    .

Josh was asking me what I really meant by media last night. 

Here's what the dictionary says:
media: (usually used with a plural verbthe means of communication, as radio television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely.
I think for the purposes of my to me means "technology that I am spending way too much time on". The three biggest culprits were Netflix, TV, and Instagram. Other contenders: Words with Friends, email (incessantly checking it, even when nothing new or interesting was in my inbox), Brit & Co (like pinterest, but the content is contributed by writers...kind of like a magazine-app) name a few.

So cutting all of these out, and taking all of my notifications off of my phone has freed me up some of that wasted time. I still mindlessly reach for my phone to distract or entertain myself. But there's not much to do there this month.

So instead, I've been spending more time reading books with Harry. And I've clearly been reading more for myself at night before bed.

Thank you "Media Fast" for helping me to quiet my mental space down.

In the quiet I am learning new things about myself and about God, which was the reason why I wanted to do this in the first place.

But it's not really the lack of media I should thank. It's truly Jesus, awakening in my a new way of living. A less-connected to technology and hopefully (in time) more connected to people and things that are life-giving. Not just to me, but to the people around me... many thoughts but for now I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 6 :: I NEED Jesus More Than I Know

Truth slap.

When the truth opens your eyes. When you realize something that, once realized, is so important that you literally feel like you've just been slapped across the face.

It often comes when you're least expecting it. 

It is impossible to ignore.

Today I experienced a truth slap. It brought me to tears and all I could say was "Jesus, I desperately need your grace."

I am thankful for a friend who was brave enough, and loving enough, to call me out and say "hey, you've hurt me and I want more from our friendship". 

...and I'm oh so thankful for Jesus who makes forgiveness and repentance possible. 

In His strength I can try again. 

In light of His great mercy I can say I'm sorry, and move forward in a different way. 

I can tend to a broken relationship that is founded on the name of Jesus Christ. Because He died for this. He died to make me whole, and promised not to let me go until His work in my heart and life was complete.

This truth slap would have hit regardless of whether I'm consuming media or not. But rather than drown my self-disappointment in a TV show tonight, I shed some tears, prayed to my gracious Savior, and am currently sitting in the quiet just before bed reflecting here.

Truth slaps hurt. But once you get over the sting, there is work to be done. A lesson that clearly needs to penetrate my heart. And most importantly there is grace, upon grace, upon grace...upon grace.

Thank you Jesus for true friends. For the Truth which really does SET US FREE. For New Years, and new beginnings, and for a quiet evening to let today sink in and begin to change my heart.

I want to be more like you Jesus. Even (and especially) when it hurts my pride. Thank you for forgiving me Lord, especially when I don't deserve it (because I never do), and for sticking with me for the long haul as you continue to change my heart and make my life look more like yours.

...clearly, we've got a long way to go!

And just's my funny (almost) three year old: Harry McBubble-Beard. If I ever doubted God's love for me, I certainly can't doubt it when I look at this sweet blessing. He wears me out, but he brings me joy beyond measure.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 4

Good morning blog. 

This post has nothing to do with "media" per se. But God has been teaching me so much lately through books that I've been reading, that I wanted to reflect a little bit here on the ol' blog.

It's amazing what happens when I no longer have Netflix at my finger tips - I've actually been reading! Disclaimer: I am reading on my Kindle, which is obviously a piece of technology...but I guess I'm not really fasting from technology, but from the "media" sources that we taking up so much of my time.

Back to the reason I sat down to write in the first place. BOOKS! Glorious books! I spend 90 minutes per day teaching my students how to read, how to think about what they're reading, and (hopefully) I am helping them to develop a deep love for reading that they will carry with them throughout their lives. And yet, I rarely read outside of school.

Enter the media fast...and time that I can now re-allocate to book reading. I'll check in later this week once I'm back at work because MANY hours of my life will be once again dedicated to transforming the minds of the next generation. But for today, I can ramble about the books I've been reading!

Obviously it was a book that launched this whole thing (so I guess I did read a bit before this week...just not as much as I'd like). But I've discovered a few books that I have either started or am planning on starting soon. 

Favorite quote thus far:
"...the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave." (p.22)
I don't think I can even put my thoughts into words that would do this quote justice. She is an articulate and poetic writer! Only 22 pages in and I am hooked for sure!

I've also started reading Christ in the Chaos: How the Gospel Changes Motherhood by Kimm Crandall.

SO good as well! 
"Heart chaos is a result of the inward worship of self: worship of my own abilities to merit God's favor and approve of myself, the desire to compare my success with others, the longing to know that deep down I'm really okay. Heart Chaos comes from thinking that all the goodness in my personal world (especially the salvation of my children and grandchildren) depends on my getting my act together." (loc.105)
One more book that I'm dying to get my hands on is called Mended by Angie Smith.

I have only read a description of the book (the description on the amazon link above), but it brought me to tears. It's definitely up next on my "too read" list.

Other books on my list:

Let's All be Brave by Annie F. Downs

Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick

So...where does this leave me?

I don't really know. I'm only four days into the some ways it's been hard. In other ways it's been just fine. I'm thrilled with my desire to read more. I'm also pretty certain that my energy level and desire to read once school is back in session (TOMORROW?! Where did the time go?!?!) will greatly diminish.

But I'm thinking less about the next episode of Gilmore Girls and more about Jesus. So that's a start!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Little Moments of JOY!

Harry having conversations with his toys. His sweet little voice, and tender heart. 
Literally melts my heart with JOY!

Holding hands with Dave to go see his car collection.

Playing with Madi. She's such a little sweetheart!

Snuggling up with my hubby on NYE!

Jumping on the bed with Auntie.

...and throwing pillows at her face! 
"You take your glasses off!" (at least he's considerate ;) lol)

Helping Mommy take out the garbage and recycling bins. 
We ran home in the dark giggling and noticing "THE MOON!" 
(one of his favorite things in the world).

Friday, January 2, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 2

I hate talking on the phone.

But I have had what feels like a novel idea.

Maybe, if I want to connect with people, I should just pick up my phone and give them a call?!

Hmmmm...probably not at 7:00am, but this month I may just have to start calling people again. 

What is my grandma's rule? 

I think phone calls are acceptable between the hours of 9:00am and 8:00pm. 

I'll have to give her a call to find out.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

MEDIA :: Day 1

Does "iTunes Radio" count?

It probably does. If so, I've failed twice already, on Day 1. And it's only 7:40am.

My first thought this morning was "UGH! All I want to do is see everyone's NYE pics on Instagram! Grrrrr....."

Upon getting out of bed, I checked my email on my phone, twice.

To say this is going to be a challenge is an UNDERSTATEMENT!

I'm currently sitting at my computer blogging because at least it's something right?! And I'm listening to iTunes Radio, but it's awesome Christian worship music. I think I'm going to allow it. At least for today! ;)

Other thoughts I've had this morning:
  • I want to watch a movie while I take down our Christmas decorations.
  • I would love to vox (an app that allows you to chat like on a walkie-talkie) with my friends to say hello and ramble about random things while I do my dishes.
  • How am I going to document my life if not on Instagram?!?!
  • Email once a day? Ugh. I better change my notifications so that I don't get any...and I better move my email app into my "utilities" folder with all the other apps I couldn't bear to delete.
I have a problem.


Just for accountability's sake, here are screen shots of my iPad and iPhone. The basics are on screen one, the rest is on screen two. And while this may look like a lot of apps. I must have deleted at least 30 apps on each device.

This is what progress looks like, today at least.

Baby. Steps.

Have I learned anything yet from this experience, you might ask. No. Not yet. Aside from the fact that I have issues with being quiet?! I am disturbed by how much I crave noise. I want to fill the void with something, anything: pictures, entertainment, name it.

So off I go. Music will likely accompany me throughout this entire day. But as for the rest? It's tucked away, just out of reach. 

And just in case you're really worried about missing me. Have no fear. I will be blogging a heck of a lot more than I have in the past couple of years. I need some outlet. And blogging is on the list (thank you Jesus for blogging). I'll post my reflections, and I'll likely post pictures of Harry...because I have a compulsive need to share pictures of my child on the internet. 

As much as I joke about how hard this will be (and I know it will be), there is a part of me that is thrilled with this change. 

It feels like an adventure.

Saying that out loud makes me think I may need to get out more ;) 

Happy New Year!