coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, nature, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, water, women

How God Smooths Our Rough Edges

We all have a new normal these days. Now we work from home, homeschool our children, and social distance from others.

On day two of homeschooling, it was a gorgeous day outside and two of my three kids had a nature walk in their lesson plan. Their assignment was to sketch signs of spring. One child had been learning about wetlands and we decided it was a perfect day for a field trip. 

We headed to Pony Pasture. †his outdoor gem is a stretch of property running adjacent to the James River in Richmond, VA. The area is filled with rocks you can climb or sunbathe on and the wildlife is plentiful.  

I was reminded of two important lessons on this field trip.

First, kids can’t sit still and be quiet. I encouraged my children to close their eyes, be silent, and absorb the sounds around us like the rushing water. Less than a minute went by and they were asking me questions, throwing sticks into the water, calling out mommy, and eventually fighting with each other.  

I have spent the last four years learning how to slow down, be present, and hear God in the stillness. The surroundings were luring me to sit and be. My children, on the other hand, were not feeling the moment. Rather than go against the current, I decided to get up and keep moving. 

As I briefly reflected on the beauty of the rushing water, the rocks reminded me of our walk with God. They were all so different, each unique. As I gazed at a smooth oblong rock, I presumed that particular rock used to have sharp edges. Over time, the water had gradually smoothed over the rough areas, just like God does for us. When our past and sin create acute borders, He slowly washes His love over us and smooths our jagged parts.  

God’s love is consistent, always flowing just like the water I was noticing. The water bounced off the rocks unaffected and proceeded on down the river. It reminds me of how we ignore God’s advice for us, letting it ricochet off because of our hardness and stubbornness. Are we going to let our jagged edges hurt others, or will we let God slowly transform us?

God will smooth our bumpy patches if we let him. Just because we can’t see His hands molding us every day, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. He washes away our sin and cleanses us if we run towards Him and not away.

coronavirus, dog, faith, Family, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, women

All Kinds of Mess

As a mom, you find yourself knee-deep in all sorts of messes. With young kids, you are changing diapers, cleaning up spills, and picking up endless toys. If you have a dog like us, you are constantly vacuuming dog hair, putting away pet toys and other destroyed objects, and scooping up poop from the yard so kids don’t step on it.

Most of the time I don’t mind cleaning up after my loved ones. However, one particular morning I was at my wits’ end. In addition to being a prisoner in my home and homeschooling, my dog was having digestive issues. It began as vomit and eventually shifted to diarrhea. 

I heard our dog Casey moving about downstairs in the wee hours of the morning. I debated whether to get up. If I lay in bed like I wanted to, I would surely pay the price. I stumbled out of bed and hurried downstairs. She was doing the potty dance, as I opened the front door she dashed in the opposite direction into our den and proceeded to diarrhea all over the one mostly white rug in our home.

Typically animal messes don’t phase me. This particular morning I was not in a mood to deal with this type of mess. As Casey soiled the rug, a cuss word fell out of my mouth. While technically the word properly depicted the substance coming out of my dog, I had not planned on waking one of my children with profanity.

The diarrhea was the worst smelling thing I ever cleaned up. No, I take that back. The worst smelling odor I experienced was emptying a utility sink filled with sewer backup. I’m not sure anything will surpass that stench.

As we sat around the dinner table that evening discussing our day, my husband commented on how I spend quite a bit of time cleaning up poop. I laughed because sadly it was true. Maybe I should contact the television show Dirty Jobs.  Is there an opportunity to profit from cleaning up dung, hmm…?

The talk of mess reminds me of our sin; big mistakes, little mistakes, endless sin. However, our amazing God continues to forgive us over and over again. God never loses His patience with us! He lovingly draws closer to us and washes us clean. He never stops loving us regardless of the turmoil we create.

While my dog may have ruined our carpet, it’s just a carpet. We, on the other hand, hurt others with our words and actions and yet God still forgives us.

What an amazing God we have who helps us mend the broken pieces. As we honestly and humbly confess our shortfalls, He transforms our heart.

coronavirus, extroverts, faith, Family, introverts, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Introvert vs Coronavirus

In my thirties I discovered I am an introvert. Before this realization I desperately tried to be an extrovert because who doesn’t want to be the fun, gregarious, life of the party? After swimming upstream for years, my body and soul eventually paid the price for trying to be something I am not.

Susan Cain wrote a fascinating book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Cain’s research illustrates a cultural bias towards extroverts, giving us a desire to exhibit such traits. Introverts have their own positive attributes when embraced.

After learning I was an introvert, I modified habits to create space for quiet in my day. Silence isn’t a bonus, it’s a requirement for me to be the best version of myself. Pre coronavirus I was doing a pretty good job of managing the noise. Now, we are home together all the time and a new routine must be crafted.

I am blessed with three beautiful girls. As you know females talk a lot, about twenty-thousand words a day. For me, multiplied by three, that’s a lot of words to absorb.

Introverts recharge with silence. This isn’t a selfish desire, it’s a fact. Constant noise drains me. I rejuvenate with activities such as walking, sitting in nature, reading, napping, writing, and being in silence. I struggle to hear God and my own thoughts amid commotion.

The coronavirus quarantine proves challenging. If you are an introvert with young kids you can relate. When the noise in the house reaches unbearable levels, I go for a walk or distance myself so I can re-enter and flourish the remainder of the day. These days are long and tiring, we must be aware of our needs to best take care of others.

On the other hand, extroverts are missing social stimulation. If I refuel, I am better equipped to fill the needs of my extroverted family members.

Carve out quiet, permit down time, and create healthy boundaries. I openly tell my kids mom needs a break and I sequester myself away from others. I recognize when the noise is overwhelming and give myself permission to walk away and regroup.

I get up early to absorb quiet and have time with God. I need Him to speak Scripture into my life. I fill my head and heart with the truth before the day begins.

Regardless of whether we are an introvert or extrovert, God crafted us this way, let’s embrace it and use it for His glory.

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

God’s Love Conquers All

Love
Birthday
God
Jesus

How do you celebrate a 40th birthday when it falls during a time of social distancing and quarantine? A party is clearly out of the question. My creative husband and family did everything they could to make my 40th birthday special.

The morning felt normal, at least our new normal. In the afternoon we went for a hike. The day was sunny and sixty-five degrees, a gift in itself. After arriving back at home, I relaxed while my husband prepared dinner and my present.

I sat on the couch while he streamed a video to the television. For about thirty minutes the screen displayed an array of special people in my life from childhood through the present. Friends and family relived memories, uttered kind words, shared thoughts about our friendship or how I have impacted their lives. I cried and laughed as I watched in awe.

It was as if I got to hear eulogies for my own funeral without having to die. People opened up and said things they may not have said in person. I watched the video twice and decided it was the best present ever!

The following morning during my quiet time, I processed the array of emotions I was feeling. Sadly we all question our worth and influence at times, myself included. On the morning after my 40th birthday, I had no doubt I was loved and accepted, I had seen the proof.

I sat communing with God, praising Him for a memorable birthday. Even though I couldn’t be with friends or extended family, I was given an amazing intangible gift, the gift of love.

The Lord interpreted something to me that morning. He said, “Katie, this feeling of love you have today, I love you even more than that every day.” That blew my mind. I felt so saturated with love, how could He possibly love me more?

I wanted to retain this feeling of love and carry it with me. I wished to share it with others.

I have been praying Ephesians 3:17-19 for months. Now I could understood the reality of this verse.

“That I being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that I may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”

While my birthday wasn’t exactly as I imagined, God in His goodness, showed me His abounding love for us.

How can we go about our day and life with this knowledge? What would we do differently?

coronavirus, faith, Family, Jesus, parenting, religious, spiritual, Uncategorized, women

Minimalist Meets Corona

Paper towel and toilet paper aisle at BJ’s

I am a minimalist by nature. When it comes to inventory management in our home, specifically related to food, I tend to under-do my buying. It took me years of adjustment to increase my purchases to provide for a family of five. Thankfully, it’s been a gradual adjustment as each child develops and begins eating more and more.  

Buying extra of anything goes against my natural fibers. When others buy three, I buy one. When most buy at least one, I buy none. I don’t know how I got this way but it’s who I am.

I found myself at BJ’s stocking up because the world is in uncharted territory trying to manage a contagious virus. Shelves are empty and fear is everywhere. I called my husband asking for advice about how much I should purchase. I felt pretty good about my cart overflowing with items. This alone is an amazing accomplishment.

Over the phone, I asked him, “Why did we send a minimalist to stock up on food? This seems like a bad idea.” I can’t even fathom what thirty days of food looks like. How do you buy for that in one trip?

When minimalism collides with the ripple effect from the Coronavirus, things get tricky. My minimalism bleeds into other areas and as a result, there is an internal conflict between a feeling of scarcity and a desire to provide opportunities for creativity and fun. Just yesterday, my five-year-old daughter was independently attempting to make her own version of Vaseline. In the bathroom, she mixed a combination of toothpaste, water and hand soap. While I appreciate her imagination, I can’t exactly go to the store and stock up on liquid hand soap right now. How can we be responsible with our supplies without instilling fear in our kids?  

Thankfully we have a God who provides for us abundantly, especially when it comes to the intangibles in life like love, joy, peace, play, creativity, silliness, and laughter. While I might be trying to encourage responsible usage of toilet paper in my house, maybe this is the time to embrace our creative and silly side? Maybe these intangibles are powerful weapons during a time of uncertainty. God does not withhold from us, we just forget to ask. Why shouldn’t we sing, dance, love, and be silly? What’s holding us back?  

It’s critical to have earnest conversations because we are all feeling an onslaught of emotions. However, if I remain in a state of permanent gloom, my hope and joy dwindle and I tend to take my kids down with me. If I can insert joy and fun into the house our spirits lift. How will we ever know the magnitude of God’s unrelenting love and abilities if we limit His access?