Redeeming the Mundane – Living Intentional

Are you ever kind of nosy?

I am.  I have always been shamelessly fascinated with the lives of others, and I’m forever trying to glean new ideas about how to do things better.

  • Alarm blares.  Quick, turn it off so the kids don’t wake up.
  • Sneak like a cat burglar through the hushed house and grab a cuppa joe to begin caffeine therapy.  Hit the START button on the washer.
  • Prayer time and Bible study, again, STEALTHILY grabbing study materials.
  • Tiptoe out of the house for a morning run (this is when I review my Scripture verses and really pray.)
  • Come in breathless and dripping sweat to a house that is fully awake.  Begin marathon portion of the day here.
  • Dispense milk! coffee!  OJ! Cereal and bananas!  Pack Superman’s lunch!
  • Wipe sticky faces, hands, and table.  (Repeat at three hour intervals.)
  • Sprint upstairs for a shower and 60 second wipe down of the bathroom sink, counter, and toilet.  Change hand towels.
  • Marshall the troops – send the 1st grader to do her morning chores, get the 3 year old hunting dirt with the handheld vacuum, and unload the dishwasher with the enthusiastic “help” of the 17 month old.
  • Break up squabbles over the handheld vacuum and dress up helmet.  Exhort both guilty parties regarding nonviolence policy.  Kiss both injured parties.
  • Change diapers, dress younger ones, and load dishwasher.
  • Herd everyone to school.
  • Break up the fight over the toy truck with trailer.  Remind both guilty parties about nonviolence policy.

It’s mundane, this cycling through the same tasks, day after day.

It’s easy to take this season for granted.  To become lulled into boredom by routine instead of taking the day as a gift.  To push through till bedtime without really enjoying the waking hours with these precious little souls.  (Bedtime is a beautiful word around here…your house, too?)

I don’t want to miss it.

In all the dishes and the messes and the mundane, I want to engage intentionally and live fully present.  Scripture reminds me that life is a mere breath, a shy shadow.  It’s going fast, friends.  The days of diapers and sippy cups will soon be a memory.  Your season – the one that feels like it’s dragging on for-stinking-ever – it’s going to be over before you know it.  It will all be over soon, and it won’t matter whether we made it through the lesson on insects.  Or whatever.

It will only matter if we loved Jesus and loved our people.

Grace, peace, and love intentional –

Kelly

 

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When Your Calling Isn’t Easy

When Your Calling Isn't Easy - www.searchingformyeden.com

We were chatting over dishes after family dinner.  (Let me tell you, we wash a LOT of dishes when Superman’s clan gathers.  There were 17 people on Sunday.)  My sister in law was asking about the start up of school, and I confessed my mounting nerves.  See, I was never that girl with oodles of extra patience, or even someone that was very good with kids.  I’ve had to work and work and work at it, and the evidence of the Holy Spirit in my life is easily seen when you know just exactly how far I’ve come in this area.  I might add that I have a ways to go as well.  Work in progress, friends.

It kind of slipped out of my mouth before I had a chance to think about it.  “Teaching isn’t my gift,” I confessed.  “But I know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s my calling right now.”

Do you have those things in your life, too?  Those things that don’t come easy (maybe even they’re extra hard right now), but you know with unshakeable certainty that it’s what you’re supposed to be doing?  Maybe it scares the life out of you, or maybe it’s emotionally painful…but you know that God is calling you to do it.

Sometimes it takes the most courage to face up what we’re not good at.

Maybe it’s a relationship that drains, or a job that isn’t fun, or maybe it’s just everyday faithfulness when the sparkle has worn off.  Maybe it’s staying at home with your babies instead of chasing shiny dreams, or maybe it’s getting out of your comfort zone and stepping up to a scary new opportunity.  Maybe it’s rocking the boat.  Or maybe it’s staying put.

I’m a comfort zone kind of gal.  I’d rather stick with what I’m good at and not have to learn a new skill set.  Give me the challenge of cooking a delicious dinner, styling a cute outfit, or speed reading a new book.  (As I write this, I’m a little surprised at how frivolous that all sounds…)  But ask me to expose my heart, or stick to a schedule, or even teach…and I kind of start to hyperventilate.  It isn’t my gift.

And maybe Jesus is asking you to do something that doesn’t come easy, and it scares the living daylights out of you.  That’s okay.

If it makes you lean hard on Jesus, then bring it on.

When it’s not easy, and it’s downright painfully hard – that’s when His grace becomes sufficient, and His power becomes a reality in our lives.  Not just something we know about, but something we get to experience in a real and daily way.  I’ll take that over staying stuck and lazy any day of the week…wouldn’t you?

There are worse things than crying out to God to get me through this day with kindness.  It isn’t the end of the world if you land a mile out of your comfort zone and hanging on to Jesus for dear life.  Better that, than missing out on obeying Him.  Right?

His plans for us aren’t arbitrary and pointless.  He doesn’t get His kicks out of watching us flounder.  Always, always His plans are for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory.  We can rest in that.  He makes no mistakes, so if He’s called you to it, then it’s not only possible, it’s where the greatest blessing is waiting for you.

So, my encouragement to you today is…don’t stop living your calling.

If God wants you to do it, He will make it possible.  Yes, He will.

And if you stop to think about it, would you pray for me?  I’m digging into teaching and trusting God to fill in my many gaps.  And you can know that I’m praying for you, too. 

Grace, peace, and keep on going –

Kelly

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Travelling Parents: Don’t Leave Home Without This!

Am I the only crazy parent who tallies the number of diapers used for 2 days before the trip, averages the number, and multiplies by 1.34 to determine how many to pack on the plane?

See, my mind just kind of goes to the worst case scenario, and I don’t want to be out of diapers, goldfish, or hand wipes at 30,000 feet.  (But especially diapers.)  This June, we went on an 18-day trip to the West Coast, and it was a great time with family and friends.  But after a hair-raising sequence of flights filled with experiences that I can NOW laugh about, there’s one thing I didn’t have on my packing list that I really should have.

Let me explain…

It started with a left-behind sippy cup, and went to vomit in my lap.  Worse, vomit on the security blanket, which has major soothing powers for the 1-year-old.

Actually, let me rewind.  It started at home when I braved a mizzly, rainy dawn to bring clothes off the line and noticed the toddler’s favorite shoes, soaking wet, in the sand box.  The dryer, in case you are wondering, shrinks shoes.  Just file that one away.  They just barely-kind-of fit, but he seemed to be okay with them, so off we went.

By the time we spent 2 hours in the car, an hour hustling kids, car seats, and bags through the airport shuffle, and survived a 3 hour flight, we were all tired.

Add a 3 hour layover while we waited for the next 3 hour flight, and it probably won’t surprise you that my kid was licking the glass partition on the moving walkway, and I was desperately licking the inside of my latte cup.  I am a super-clean super-freak who travels with about 5 packages of hand wipes at all times.  (I watch MONK episodes and take notes.)  But what can you do when he’s already licked it? I couldn’t exactly Lysol his mouth, so I did the only thing I could think of:  I took Elsa’s advice and just let it go.

We made it on to our second flight just fine.  This particular plane had designated seats for infants and lap children (because of oxygen mask availability in the event of, you know, catastrophe.)  This means that Superman took the 5 year old and 1 year old to the very back of the plane, and the 3 year old and I settled in 6 rows aft.  The airline stewardess hated parents of young children oh-so-sweetly enforced airline regulations by ensuring that ALL the bags were neatly, tidily, and precisely stowed under the seat in front of my toddler, with not a centimeter protruding from the edge of the seat in front of him.  We had to give up something to the overhead bin, so we elected to part with the booster seat, because you can pry the backpack with the books, toys, snacks, and had wipes out of my cold, dead fingers. 

I learned three things somewhere between Minneapolis and the Rocky Mountains:

  1. You can use an Ergo as a make shift nursing cover.  Looping one of the arm holes over your neck actually positions the main body as a quasi-privacy shield and keeps the in-flight entertainment G-rated.  Just in case you ever need to know that.
  2. I will never travel without essential oils again.  Never, ever.  I went to change a stinky diaper, and shook a few drops of rosemary and lemon on a napkin to reduce noxious fumes and the everlasting wrath of everyone within a 5-row radius.  It was magic.  The oils came in handy again and again as we packed shoes in the same roller bag with clean clothes, and when the car smelled like 10 days of hard use.  They might or might not hold health benefits (depends on who you ask), but they make things smell good.  For me, that’s enough to merit inclusion in the 1-quart zip top baggie! 🙂
  3. Be kind.  Always, always be kind.  The sweet mother of five who whispered on the jetway “it does get easier,” reduced me to exhausted tears that thank you, someone gets it, and the stewardess who insisted that my tired 5 year old turn off her quiet movie “because you don’t have headphones” are both parts of the trip I won’t forget.  (Obviously, for different reasons.)  The patient lady who entertained my kid with a game on her Kindle while I juggled a noisy 15 month old is a saint in my book.  And the gentleman who helped pull our bags off the baggage claim carousel while I shuffled an overtired infant, well, he goes down as an angel in disguise, too.

But the main thing I learned on our travels?

It isn’t anything huge or complicated.  It’s simply this: don’t leave home without prayer.  There will always be things you forget or leave behind, unexpected circumstances you can’t prepare for, and no matter what you bring or do, you won’t be able to change the fact that travel with young kids is just plain EXHAUSTING.  But if you take prayer with you, and lean into Jesus no matter what, you’ll be just fine.

Even if you get the stewardess who hates children.

Even if your kid licks the glass on the moving walkway.

Yes, even then.

 

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Balsamic Roast Chicken (Crockpot Paleo Friendly and Gluten-Free)

 Let’s just get this out on the table, ladies:

Dinner is better when I actually get intentional about planning and preparing it (instead of, say, figuring it out at 5 o’clock.)  You too?  I’m usually pretty good about at least having a general plan, but homeschool just started for us, so it’s going to take effort these first few weeks to make sure that it’s not frozen pizza every night. 🙂  This post is from last fall, but the recipe remains one of my favorites – and I thought you might enjoy it, too. 🙂

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Is anyone else letting out a happy sigh that it’s slow cooker season again? And pumpkin everything season. And casserole, soup, and chili season.  And jacket season.  I might as well confess that I bought an awesome leather jacket, and I’m excited to wear it. It’s sort of my rebellion against turning into a stodgy, spit up covered, sweatpants and messy hair mom. (Not that I don’t have those moments…er…days. But still, a girl’s gotta have some hope, right?)

Anyway, confession aside, how about tossing some chicken in the crockpot and forgetting about it till dinner? Count me in!  This recipe is not only easy, delicious, and a crockpot main dish – it’s paleo friendly and gluten free!

Pull out your crockpot, and brush off the cobwebs that have accumulated over the summer.

 

Spray the ever loving goodness out of the insert, and drop in those chicken pieces. Here I used boneless, skinless thighs, but I actually prefer bone in for slow cooker use. Whatevs.

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Now, grab about a teaspoon each of rosemary and thyme, and half a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and sprinkle it over those sleeping beauties.

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Toss on some chopped onion (1/4 cup or so) and 3 or 4 peeled garlic cloves.

NOTE: I used to hate peeling garlic until I discovered the “chef” way. Now it’s just fun!

Put your clove on the counter, or cutting board. Put the flat of your knife blade on top…

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… and SMACK down with your open hand. Voila! The skin comes right off!  (Just be careful, pretty please, so that YOUR skin doesn’t come off on the very sharp blade!) 😉

See? I told you it was fun.

Anyways. Drizzle on about 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar, and add 1/2 cup of water.

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Cook on low for 4-5 hours or hi 2-3 hours (and always make sure you check your chicken’s internal temperature…it should be at least 175° F).

Balsamic Roast Chicken (Crockpot Version, Paleo and Gluten-Free)

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon each rosemary and thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Instructions

  1. Spray the insert in your slow cooker.
  2. Place the chicken in a single layer over the bottom of the crockpot.
  3. Sprinkle the spices and onion over the top, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and water.
  4. Cover and cook on HI for 2-3 hours or LO for 4-5 hours. Always check doneness with a thermometer to verify that the internal temperature is at or above 175 F.
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Now that dinner’ s in the crockpot, there’s time to enjoy a walk (maybe even with a leather jacket and a pumpkin latte).  This is fantastic with rice pilaf or egg noodles, and a salad or steamed carrots and green beans!

Grace, peace, and dinner in the bag,

Kelly

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Loving The Man – When Life Is Busy

Loving The Man - www.searchingformyeden.com

We stood at the front of the church, and all I could think about was, finally.

Finally I would be married to my best friend and the most amazing man I’d ever met.  Before the wedding, well meaning people kept telling me, it’s a lot of work, and you don’t know what you’re getting into and it’s not all roses.  Like most infatuated brides, I could barely hide my mental eye rolling over their comments.  It might be true for them, but it just didn’t apply to us.  We were ready to teach the whole world how to love each other well through the decades.

Oh yes, I was a naïve little thing.

Seven years and three lively kids later (plus a miscarriage and a career change for each of us), we are still pretty darn crazy about each other.  But the newness has rubbed off, and the ring has lost it’s brand new shine.  We are deep in the middle of play doh and play dates, teaching the alphabet and manners, potty training and sibling wars.  Superman is a natural with kids, and me?  Well, it’s what I do now, all day, every day.  I live and breathe diapers and dinosaurs and T-Ball and tutus.  For better or worse, my life is pretty much wrapped up in the sticky hands of the Oompah Loompahs.

It’s easy to make our lives all about the kids and lose sight of the him+me that started us out.

Anybody else in that boat?  I am so challenged to do better about this.  In all the good parent stuff, I’ve forgotten how to be a good wife.  He is so much fun, and I miss out on the joy of laughing with him when I insist on my agenda.  Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that my plans aren’t the only valid ones.  I used to be spontaneous, but the diaper bag filled with sippy cups and graham crackers and hand wipes and spare outfits all but crushes that fun-loving girl.

I want her back.

Surely, there can be a balance between investing in the kids and investing in our marriage.  So, I’m committing right here (and you can too, if you want!) to spending the next 7 days being an intentional wife.  I’m going to prioritize him when I plan the meals (I see Philly Cheesesteak Subs in our near future!), when I do the laundry (keeping up on his socks and tee shirts shouldn’t be THAT impossible, right?), and when I fill the calendar (because if we’re exhausted and cranky from overscheduling, I have nothing but overstimulated kids and a whining wife to share at the end of the day.)  If you want to join me, let me know!  I’ll send you a daily challenge for 7 Days of Loving The Man.

He is worth the effort to love well.

Really, he is.  Loving him is not about my convenience, it’s about a promise I made for easy and for…not.  They weren’t just words we spoke at the front of that church, they were about the choices we promised to make, day in and day out.  In the dirty socks and morning breath and frizzy hair and period days.  In the mundane, alarm clock and sick kids days, as well as the newlywed dancing on sunshine days.

I think it’s easy to lose sight of what drew us to our spouse in the first place.  He is one incredible man, and I need to pause more often on that fact.  I don’t ever want to take him for granted, but it’s easy, isn’t it?  Self focus is the poison of marital happiness, and yet, it’s easy to start sipping on it.

Can’t he see that I want a back rub?

Can’t he see that I’m tired?

Why doesn’t he bring flowers anymore?

He never just gazes into my eyes and tells me how beautiful I am anymore.

Satan is out to get our marriages, ladies.

He is sniffing out your weaknesses, and he will exploit them.  He doesn’t want you grateful for your husband.  He doesn’t want you content with your spouse.  He doesn’t want you to love.  He wants you to stop communicating, stop being thankful, stop being kind in the little things.  He wants you to disconnect your Christianity from your marriage.  Nothing will send him into fits faster than looking out not only for your own interests, but the interests of your husband, too.  He wants you polite to strangers and snapping your spouse’s head off all the time.  He wants your home full of eye rolls, cold shoulders, and selfishness.  He wants you to drink deeply of hurts and bitterness and unhealthy coping.

Loving your spouse is only possible when you are filled up on the love of Jesus.

Those needs we have?  The buck doesn’t stop with your husband.  Only Jesus can fill the needs of our hearts, and we can trust Him with them.  Instead of whining to myself about Superman’s failure to read my mind and know I want a back rub, I can pray for God to give me a gentle heart and a servant’s spirit.  And then, when I remember to communicate my desire for a back rub, my tone won’t be demanding and filled with entitlement.  How often do I set us up for misunderstanding just by failing to have a right heart with God before approaching my man?  I can ask Jesus to fill me with His love, so that I am not asking Superman for the impossible.  Only God can love us enough to fill our hearts.  Our husbands are wonderful, but their love will never be enough all on its own.

Prayer is our secret weapon, our ace-in-the-hole when frustration and tiredness threaten to rock the boat of marital bliss.  Pray, pray, pray for that man, and pray for his wife to be the kind of help meet that he needs.  And yes, go ahead and pray for God to make him the man you need, too.   Pray that you will love each other unselfishly.  Get specific, girl!  Ask Him to give you kind words instead of mean ones, ask Him to help you smile at your man instead of launching straight into your agenda. Whatever you do, make sure you pray!

All that being said, the burden to have a good marriage is not yours or mine to carry.

I just want to put that out there, that if you’re following hard after Jesus and loving your man authentically (not perfectly, but consistently trying) – then you’re doing all that you can and should.  If you still don’t have the marriage you want to have, then get back on your knees.  Pray hard.  Seek Godly counsel.  Don’t give up.  And don’t take it as a personal failure if your marriage still needs a lot of growth.  God isn’t done with either of you yet!!!

Grace, peace, and INTENTIONALLY loving him for a lifetime,

Kelly

**Important note: I am only speaking about non abusive relationships.  If your husband is physically or emotionally abusive, please get immediate help from the authorities and your church.  Do not stay in a dangerous situation.**

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