12.20.2014

Five Minute Friday: Adore

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and bravely write for Five Minute Friday, and it's the last prompt of the 2014! Today's prompt is...Adore

Go.

It's been a rough few weeks. Blatant disobeying and bursts of entitlement of a certain four year old have put me in a pre-Christmas funk I can't seem to shake off. The decorations are brilliantly displayed, the cookies baked, and almost all some a couple of the gifts are wrapped. But my heart... Well, my heart just hasn't been in it.

After the sobs of said four year old brought my fatigued self into her room for the FOURTH time last night (due to her mourning of a lost toy from her antics the day before), I found myself staring out of my bedroom window: silent tears streaming down my cheeks, wondering where I've gone wrong, questioning my parenting skills, and begging for an answer from High Above.

Within the deep dark sky, something caught my eye: a single shining star high above, with mere white specks among it. For weeks I have been racking my brain to the solution of my woes, when God did His thing (once again), and smacked me over the head with His own desire: Come a bit closer, Kristin. Adore Me.



Something about the missteps of the past few weeks had gotten me off course. My head knows the true reason for this sweet anticipation of our Lord's first coming in the flesh and blood of a baby boy, but my heart had lost its way and found itself caught up in the "why me" and "so much to do" and "there's not enough time." Seeing this sweet star in the heavens above in the early hours of this morning gave me the reminder I needed: the one reason we are here, we celebrate, we adore.

Stop.

Well, it's Saturday, and not Friday, but I still feel the need to click "Publish." Because God's drum beats on a different time zone than the rest of us, and I don't think it's an accident that brightly shining star caught my eye last night. From my family to yours, may your days be Merry and Bright, and may you find the time in the rush of these coming days to stop, be still, and adore our sweet Savior in swaddling cloth. Merry Christmas, sweet friends!

xoxo, k.

12.16.2014

When Your Calling Isn't Saving All the Things in All the World

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14b

Maybe it's the onslaught of commercials vying for my attention, or the never-ending post after post on my newsfeed of the needy in this world. Maybe it's just this way during Christmas because people feel a little deeper; they see the need and just have to do something. Because it's Christmas, and that's what you're supposed to do.

And then a conversation my core group had the other week in Community Bible Study really got me thinking about serving, our own ministries, and looking at the big picture. Especially in this Advent season as we wait for the arrival of the Messiah.

"I just feel like we're not doing enough during this Christmas season."

"My kids are too young to serve the poor. What can I teach them about giving?"

"We just don't have the money to give right now. I feel like I'm failing this year."

I think sometimes we see the big things others are called to do in this life, and then it gets so overwhelming, and so awe-inspiring, that we forget the little things. Is going to a far off country and ministering to the poor important? YES. It's amazing. And I would love, at some point in my life, to be able to do that thing. But. As a wise women once said,

"Your ministry is right between your own two feet."
-Jill Briscoe

Ministry doesn't always mean the big thing. It doesn't always mean traveling to far off places and discovering what true poverty looks like. True poverty is often right in our own backyards. And here's the kicker: you don't need a lot of money. You don't need a lot of time. You just need yourself, and a giving heart.


So we came up with some ideas. Child friendly, inexpensive ideas, to give in this holiday season, even when you feel like your little thing isn't as much as the big thing... You're wrong. Your little thing may be just the thing a person needs today...

* Hand out smiles. Be deliberate. Be genuinely happy. Look people in the eyes. Don't think it will make someone's day? Think again.

* Offer a hand. In the grocery store. At Wal-Mart. Push a grocery cart. Help put bags in the trunk. The biggest lesson Miss E has learned this year? The blessing of helping. She's seen the look on the woman's face when we offered to help her with her groceries, to push the cart back to the store for her. Blessing others is often a bigger blessing to the one who serves.

*Surprise gifts. A small gift card on someone's windshield. Baby wipes in the Target restroom (because haven't you been the mom with the explosive diaper and wipes are in the car, and not in your purse where they're supposed to be?!). A candy bar for the check out person. A compliment. Pay it forward in the drive-thru.

The list goes on and on. I think sometimes we just get stuck in our own busy and distracted places; it's hard to just look up and see the need immediately in front of us. What I do know? We have been placed in our current situations, neighborhoods, families, communities for such a time as this. Take advantage of it. Live it fully. Use the ministry that's been placed before you, and the blessings received will abound.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in very good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

My biggest prayer for each of you, each and every day of this Advent season, is this: You're given the opportunity to serve, and to be served by others. That you see the smallest of needs set before you, and you don't remain silent. That you act upon these inklings of the Holy Spirt, and you abound in His blessings. His grace.

Peace and joy to you in this sweet Christmastime!

xoxo, k.

12.11.2014

Four Thoughts for Thursday

Hey y'all! I've been missing you, so thought I'd just throw a post together of my random thoughts of the week...

4. I'm so over Pinterest.
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE me some Pinterest. But I think it can totally impact our own feelings of accomplishment and sense of self-worth. Have you seen some of those Christmas posts? I just don't have it in me to make picture-perfect moments, then post them up on Facebook or any other social media. Agree with me? Here's a GREAT read from a sweet friend of mine: http://www.serenitynowblog.com/2014/12/im-not-having-pinterest-perfect.html

3. God's blessings this month are blowing. my. mind.
Some things I'd like to keep personal, but I just want to put this out there: When you give God everything you have, He will absolutely knock your socks off! Between God working on the hearts of those around me, and His provisions as I started my new business, I have just been blown away by the countless blessings over the past year, and especially within the past few weeks. He just keeps on coming, and for some reason, with each blessing, I'm surprised! I should know better by now!

2. Christmas is in two weeks.
Nobody panic.

ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodness

But don't really. source

All right. Panic over.

1. I love y'all.
You know what's even better than having awesome readers? Having awesome readers who support you even when you're having writer's block and just can't get yourself together. Y'all rock.

xoxo, k.

12.04.2014

Five Minute Friday: Dear

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and bravely write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...

Dear

Go.

Something about this holiday season has me in a bit of a funk, and I just can't seem to grasp ahold of the reasons or the whys. I'm finding myself floating along, doing the tasks, admiring the glow and twinkle of lights, but I just can't seem to dive in and really live it.

Stuck.

But there's something about the sweet sound of laughter in a basement, coffee cups splayed on a table, inhibitions left at the door, and the undeniable sense of safety. Of love. There's something about leftover Thanksgiving goodies as we bare our souls to dear friends, relating our stories of God's glory, our failures, His promises, our shortcomings, His perfection.


There's something about the lifting up and the digging deep and the keeping it real. These dear women keep me focused on the One who does all, knows all, loves all. 

"...your faith is growing more and more, and the love you have for one another is increasing..."
2 Thessalonians 1:3

You see? These women? These encouragers of faith and supporters of life? They were designed specifically for you. He did that for you. Embrace them. Grow them. Love them. Whether they are right in front of you face to face, or if they're in the virtual community you call home each week. Love them as He loves you.

Stop.

Y'all! December is kicking me right in the rear. No joke. In addition to extra family fun, Christmas cheer, and all other things crazy, I started my own business. I know. I've probably lost my mind. (it's so exciting, though! More on that later.) But one thing is for sure: I MISS YOU! So I promise to write more in the upcoming weeks, especially as we anticipate the sweet celebration of Christ's birth. In the meantime, I'll keep checking in on you, and you keep checking in on me. Deal? 

xoxo, k.


11.25.2014

Miss E Turns Four

It was as if I had tunnel vision: I stared at the clock reading 6:30 am, and that's all I could see. Crowds of nurses and doctors swirled around me as Mr. Kuda held my hand. Pushing wasn't coming easy, and as my gaze slipped from the clock to the doctor's face, I watched his lips quietly move as he spoke to the nurse: We need to get the baby out.

Labor had started nine hours earlier, and I had been pushing for at least two. The details are hazy and filled with oxygen masks, crazy yoga positions, and words of encouragement from practical strangers. They weren't strangers any more: we had survived this night together. Mr. Kuda was so excited he was actually doing a happy dance, filled with part wonder, part excitement, and part sheer exhaustion (and maybe a bit of terror?).

Within an hour, she was screaming. Her cry was sweet and soft, but as the color came to her cheeks, she was handed to me.

"She was holding onto her cord, that stinker. She was holding on for the ride."


If only we had known at the time: we would be the ones holding on for dear life as we became parents for the first time on that blustery Thanksgiving morning. In an instant, we were changed. We were parents.


Miss E, this has been a year of growing in so many ways. You have a heart of gold, your sense of humor surprises me daily, and your soul is wider and deeper than a good amount of adults I've encountered. You make mistakes on purpose, because you like to learn things for yourself. You are so smart, it's scary. You show me how to look at things of this world in different ways, and I love you for it.


Most importantly? Your heart is filled to the brim with a loving kindness so strong, it is awe inspiring. Last night at dinner, you didn't see my napkin in my lap, so you started to rip yours in half so I could have one. Last week, you made sure daddy was OK with me taking the last bite at dinner because you know he loves pasta so much. You don't skip any chance to love on your brother, and you tell me all the things you love about your friends all. the. time.


Miss E, you have rocked our world in more ways than one. You are filled with spice and we never know what we're going to get with you. And we wouldn't change it for anything in this sweet life God has given us.


Heavenly Father, bless this sweet girl of ours on this, her fourth birthday. Lord, we pray she grows courageous, strong, and wise. We pray she loves You always, and that we can show her what a life living for You looks like. Lord, protect her heart, guide her mind, and lead her to show kindness for others always. Amen.

xoxo, k.

**

Y'all, this week has hit me over the head with commitments and turkey. I'm spent! I'd LOVE to get out a post before Thanksgiving, but in case it just doesn't happen, I pray you have a Thanksgiving filled with people you love, good food, and the peace that the holidays should bring. Thirty days until Christmas!

xoxo, k.

11.21.2014

Five Minute Friday: Notice



Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and bravely write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...

Notice


Go.

The journey has been so long. Years and years, really. So I hadn't really noticed the differences. I hadn't noticed how You had changed me from the inside out, how my views have changed, how my world view is through an entirely new set of eyes. I hadn't noticed, until a stranger stopped me in Babies R Us when her words knocked me flat off my feet.

You are so joyful. What's your secret?

I know what my response should have been: Jesus! Jesus Christ! He is my secret! And He can be yours!

But I was so floored. So surprised by the joy of Christ oozing from my soul without me even realizing it, that I forgot to give Him credit.

I think of that woman all the time. Her broad smile, her warm gestures, her eyes seeking. She noticed me. She noticed Christ in my life, before I saw it for myself. I wish I could find her. Wrap her in my arms and tell her, You can have this, too! I mourn that day. I celebrate that day. I imagine the Day she and I will sit together, reminiscing on the old days, smiling knowing smiles, sharing our lives.

Stop.

Today? Notice the details. Notice those around you. Make connections.

Have a fantastic weekend!

xoxo, k.

11.17.2014

Perspective: Giving Thanks {Three}

background image
It started with Mr. C. I really hate to put blame on any one person, especially my son, but it's true: His inability to sleep got the ball rolling.

Just over two years ago, eight weeks into his little life, one thing became quite apparent: He was not a good sleeper. The less he slept, the more I felt the walls of our two bedroom duplex crowd around us. Poor Miss E dealt with the consequences of waking up every two or so hours each night very well, better than any two year old should be asked. But by the end of 2012, it was very clear that our current living situation would not work.

Or at least, that's what I had convinced myself to believe.

Over the next eight months, I obsessed over "the new house." Whatever that meant. In my mind, the notion of the new house solved all of my problems. Somehow I had been lured into the sentiment that, because we would be able to put the kiddos in separate rooms, I would get more sleep. Somehow giving the kids their own rooms morphed into more sleep for me, which meant more happiness for me, which meant I would have more energy to be the best mom ever, which meant I would be the best wife ever, which meant...

Do you see where I went there?

The thing about thankfulness, is that it often has no merit unless given the proper perspective. My perspective was so warped by the time we moved to the rental house in August of 2013, I had forgotten the original source of it all. Deep down (somewhere), I knew the real reasons for moving: so we could have a simpler life, so I could continue to stay home with the kids, to offer them the life that we wanted them to have. But the appreciation for what we had already had all but slipped through my well-rested fingers, and I felt lost.

Loss for friendships, loss for familiarity, loss for my true identity.

Slowly, but surely, I climbed my way out of the hole that I had dug. What helped me?

Thankfulness. In the every day, boring minutiae of the wash, rinse, repeat life I had come to know.

I miss my friends.
God, thank you for those enduring friendships. Thank you for the joy I had each time we were together, and thank you for giving me courage to meet new friends and pursue deep relationships. Because of those women, I know what true friendship is.

I'm lonely.

Thank you for my husband, Lord. Thank you for the comic relief he gives me every day, and the companionship You know I need. Thank you for the joy he gives to our family day in and day out.

Our house isn't what I want it to be.

Thank you for warmth, and a roof over our heads. Thank you for all of your provisions as our house was built. Thank you for a yard our children can safely play in. 

I miss being around adults during the day, and being the only one who can fulfill their needs just wears. me. down.

Thank you for a dedicated husband and the wonderful job he has so that I can stay home during these young years in our children's lives. 

Thank you, God,  for being the only One who can fulfill our needs. And not the needs we think we ought to have, but the needs you know we must have. Like joy. And peace. And contentment.


And you see what I did there? Perspective.


Feeling discontent? Find thanks in it. Even if it's small. Even if it's hard. You'll be amazed at the outcome, and I promise you this: you will find joy even in the smallest of things.

xoxo, k.

Hooking up with some amazing inspiration on this Monday! Head on over!

11.14.2014

Five Minute Friday: Still



Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and bravely write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...

Still

Go.

After I hit snooze for the third time, the text message from my friend got me up and moving.

"Can't. Get. Out. Of. Bed."

She's my early morning quiet time partner. Because if someone else is up doing her quiet time thing and she calls you on it, you pull yourself up from the warmth of bed, too. Because there's just something about the stillness of a house basking in the pre-dawn haze, and there's just a little bit of glory in the moments before the pitter pat of feet on the floor take me from the role of  just Kristin doing her thing to mom, chef, admin, wife, daughter, caregiver, organizer and doer of all things.


"I'll get up if you get up," was how I responded.

Because these quiet, still moments? They matter. Regardless of the tasks of the day, the length of the to do lists, and the distance in which we may be stretched, this time is ours.

Stop.

I hope y'all have a great weekend! I'm particularly thankful for this one. We've had sick kiddos this week, and though the running noses and coughs are lingering, we're settling in with visiting family, hot cocoa, and a warm fire. Enjoy your moments!

xoxo, k.

11.12.2014

Fall Decor Preview (Review?)

I'm aware that it's mid-November. Honestly, the fall decor in this house has been creeping in since mid-September. But there was this little project called 31 Days that kind of took over my life, which meant that all things ceased to exist so I could actually complete it!

My crafty craft desires have been going crazy, though, and poor Mr. Kuda has dealt with the repercussions of this: gold ribbon and sparkly pumpkins showing up in various places around our house. The need for "more garland!" and him constantly hearing, "I just don't think we have enough pumpkins."


And then we decided to host Thanksgiving, and it's pretty much sent me into overdrive, decorating wise.  But I love it, so I thought I'd share some of it with you :)

Just to keep things real, as we are in the constant pursuit of conquering perfectionism in these parts, I thought I'd share what my living room looked like last night, as I finished editing the photos for this post...


There. Feel better?

I should also note, that everything, excluding the live pumpkins, I bought on sale, or already had in my house. The total for all decor was under $40. For a whole season. Win.

Let's start outdoors, shall we? I think it's safe to say I have a healthy obsession with both wreaths, and pumpkins...


A toddler may have been trying to escape. Hence, opening door.
Let's just pretend that it's closed, yes?
For a tutorial on felt flowers, check out my spring wreath where I give some nice details to achieve this look. Love me some felt.


Inside, here's a wreath that started out like this:



And ended up like this:

Nothing a little burlap and acorns from the yard can't fix.
Three bucks at Target, friends. Three dollars.

Above our mantel, we have our television. And while I'm not 100% sold on the fact that it should be there, it is, so we work with it.  Using some garland from our local craft store, I recreated something I found from Pier 1 (for $30 a piece!) in these:


They cost me less than $1 each, and they serve some great texture next to the big 'ole flat screen.

The pumpkin brigade continues throughout the house, stashed in bowls and the like throughout. And there's lots of glittery gourds, too. Because a girl can't help herself...



Glitter pumpkins & gourds found at Hobby Lobby & Family Dollar
And that's pretty much it! Next week, I'll give you a sneak peak of our Thanksgiving table. I'm SO excited to be hosting this year's feast, as it's the first Turkey Day in our new house. AND my mom and sister just moved to the area over the summer, so the fact that we'll be all together for the first time under one roof is unprecedented. AND since I don't cook (we leave that to Mr. Kuda), the festive atmosphere is just going to have to be where I put my efforts :)

Here's a glimpse of our place setting. And I'm just going to let you know now, I'm not spending more than a few bucks on fabric for napkins. We are going all out on love and using what we have!


Have a great week friends!

xoxo, k.

11.10.2014

Giving Thanks {Two}

Yesterday, we went to church. We went to early mass so we could get some things done afterward, as the next few weeks bring with them house guests, birthdays, and the true kick-off to the Holiday Season (despite what the mall suggests to us): Thanksgiving.

We were home by 10 am, and the kids ran around Mr. Kuda while he completed some much needed yard and house work. I *finally* got around to tackling some piles in my office. I vacuumed, I dusted, all while listening to a book on tape and enjoyed some much needed solitude before the craziness of the next few weeks settle in. We planned an early Sunday dinner, and my mom came over. We ate. We relaxed on the couch, basking the ordinary-ness of it all.

Little fragments of thoughts tried to pry their way in to my mind: the decorations I want for my house, the dinner I want to host, the family we should plan. But I was able to keep those thoughts at bay. Because today, in all of its ordinary and normal? It was a great day. There were tantrums and "no!" There were unchecked items on my never endig to do list. But there were life breathed moments that, while ordinary, became extraordinary. Because they were ours.

Sometimes I get so busy trying to make the life I think I should have to be memorable, that I forget to be thankful for the beautiful life set directly in front of me.


Miss E took a nap yesterday. So when I went to do my final rounds before finding my own slumber, I wasn't surprised to hear her sing-songy voice as I approached her door. I can't really remember the specifics of our conversation, but I know she asked to play with my hair, and I know she told me she loved today because all of her family were in the same house. I held up my fingers to take a "memory picture" of her sweet face. When she asked why, I told her that I took a picture in my mind because I wanted to remember this moment with her sweet face forever.

She grinned.

You can do that?

You can do whatever you want with your memories, Em.

She smiled again.

Thankful. For the ordinarily extraordinary. For the normal and mundane. For the expected and routine. Thankful.

**

Sometimes we just get caught up in the details, yes? Regardless of our circumstances, we have so many sweet things to be thankful for. As you take time to look around, what are you thankful for this week?


Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

xoxo, k.

Hooking up with some amazing inspiration on this Monday! Head on over!

11.07.2014

Five Minute Friday: Turn

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. Today's prompt is...

Turn

Go.

The sun shone brightly as we ran through the cool morning breeze. She turned away from me as we dodged the lower lying tree limbs, and giggled. She reached back to me as we went, but as my hand grasped to feel her tiny smooth fingers, my own fingers moved through hers as if she were a ghost. And then she was gone.

I woke up to my heart thumping in my ears, the fear of losing Miss E somewhere in the woods haunting me deep down to the bottom of my soul. And as I sat up to catch my breath, I realized almost immediately what the dream had meant in that moment.

She's getting older. A little braver. A little more ready to walk a few feet in front of or behind us. As her fourth anniversary on this earth creeps up on us, I can sense her independence growing. Her want to figure things out on her own. I am so so proud of her, but my heart aches for this very moment. This time that feels like a tipping point of sorts, teetering on the old and new, the young and old, on the brave and not quite so sure.

Stop.

Though she be but little, she is fierce!
Oh, this girl of ours. She's done quite a number on me, and we haven't even gotten to the hard stuff. Hope y'all are enjoying your Friday evening!

xoxo, k.

11.05.2014

Good Enough. Again.

Because the message bears repeating, and I still can't grasp the concept. Because even when I think I'm finished with this very message, my sweet new friend texts me and says, "I just expect too much from myself. And then I fail. Thank you for sharing your experiences and love for God."

She sees my love for God. She may be just one, but she sees it.

And as the tears rolled down my cheeks at the poignancy of her words, it hit me. Last night, I sat for more than five minutes for the first time since 6 am, and couldn't slow my mind enough to enjoy the moment of quiet bodies asleep upstairs. Surely I should be doing something. There's so much to be done. And then the list of a thousand to do's pops into my head, and I had to reread what I just read on my phone and rewind the show I was watching.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Somehow I've persuaded my thoughts to tell my "stay at home mom" self I don't have any excuse but to be busy all. the. time. Because if I'm staying at home, the judgment police will show up on the doorstep of my mind revealing my worth to be solely measured in house chores completed, baths given, and pinterest projects conquered.

Because I feel like if I'm not 100% to all the people, then I'm nothing at all to anyone. 

Somehow we've convinced ourselves, that at home or not, children or not, married or not, that we're just not ever going to measure up. And I don't know about you, but when I get to that point? I just stop. I freeze. Because I can't move any further into that place, but I can't turn myself around either. I know it's destructive, but I can't seem to get out of it. We've been told these things so often that it has crept into the cracks of our souls and we just can't seem to come up for air to see the Truth that lies ahead.

What if I told you that these are lies and there's a Truth so big and so important, that it could change your life? What if it meant that you're good enough, and the you  you are at this very moment is meant for a greater purpose? That the hard moments you feel you've failed the most were placed there to bear the burdens of others around you? To show others that we're all in it together?

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

What a beautiful picture. Changes your perspective, yes? To be God's workmanship. Just as the sun and the moon and the stars. He wouldn't have it any other way, the way you do your life. The way you throw yourself into house chores by night and into your children's lives or your corporate job or your marriage by day.


This work that we do. We are called to it. And the beauty of it all is this: We aren't in it alone. If anything, there is One who is there behind the intricacies and details of every move we make.

You know what that gives me?  

Peace. 

Comfort. 

Joy.

You are good enough. And so much more.

xoxo, k.

11.03.2014

Giving Thanks {One}

It's November. And my head is spinning from a whirlwind of encouragement and love spread through the month of October. So much so, that I have no idea where to go from here! But I do know this: I will write. I will encourage. And I hope you'll continue with me on my journey.

I'm trying something new (for me) this month. Since I try to hook up with some inspiring folks on Mondays, I'm going to use this, the first day of the week, as a common theme throughout the month. I'll still post some crafty crafts from time to time, but I think it's clear that God's plan is not for me to glorify Him in that way!


This morning, as my brain lay empty in the vast wasteland that some people call "writer's block," I read a verse, and how fitting it was on this first Monday of November:

Everything is for your benefit, so that grace extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase God's glory.
2 Corinthians 4:15

Wasn't that exactly what my 31 Days of Encouragement about? It's simple: the more you put in, the more you get out. The more grace extended, the more and more people receive.

Here's the thing about the enemy: He can't stand this. His sole purpose is to separate people. to find a fault then dig his heels deep so that the crevice of negativity, and destroy the power of relationships we have in one another.

How do we stop it?

We give thanks. Even in those who are driving us crazy and have weird personality ticks, we thank our sweet Lord for their presence in our lives. We find the good. We find the light. Darkness can't live in those places. When we seek just the smallest glimmer, the tiniest fractal of light, we defeat the enemy and grace carries on.

Happy Monday, friends!

xoxo, k.

10.31.2014

Day 31: Five Minute Friday: Leave

Every week, a whole heap of fabulous women get together and write for Five Minute Friday. This month is no different, despite my 31 Day Writer's Challenge. Today's prompt is...

Leave

Go

I'm kind of in love with the fact that this last day of our 31 Day challenge ends in a Five Minute Friday response. Why? Because it ensures us a clean break. A breath of goodbye. A chance to move on without going on and on.

All month we've talked about encouragement, and while I pray that I've touched you in some small way each day, you've been the hero in this story. The outpouring of love and support for these long days has been completely overwhelming and not at all expected. Although, shouldn't it have been? Expected? I don't think I could imagine any less from each and every one of you.

Since my gift cannot in any way surpass what you have already given to me, I'll leave you with this:

Hope.

The thing about hope is that it doesn't matter where you are, what challenges lie before you, and how long it may take to get you there. Hope gives us courage to get to the other side. Hope waits while we sift through the nitty-gritty. And hope provides a pathway even when our eyes can barely see what's coming next.

We did it, friends. Together. Thank you. I pray you find encouragement in each of your days, that you seek out hope, and find the courage to be brave in whatever challenge you may face.

Stop


background source

xoxo, k.

If you'd like access to any of the 31 Days for this year, click on this button:

10.30.2014

Day 30: Brave


As I drove down the highway with the rain pelting the window, I looked in the rearview mirror to see those sweet faces dancing to the beat of the radio. And the tears came rolling down. The words carried such weight for this particular time in my life, that I could barely catch my breath.

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives
It’s time for us to more than just survive
We were made to thrive.


I had been hardly surviving, but I’ve been called to thrive. I’d been so focused on the present moment: the dirty dishes and never-ending laundry, the piles of dog hair taking over my life, and the imperfect house, that I had forgotten our purpose here: To bravely thrive in this broken world. To be the light.

But my story doesn’t start on that rainy day. It started the day we up and moved our family from our comfy-cozy lifestyle with great friends and a network as big as the Capitol building to depend on. It started when we plopped ourselves in the (seemingly) middle of nowhere with no one to call on for eggs, a quick chat or a reality check.

It was just the five of us. And a bunch of deer. And spiders the size of my head.

Really.

But then He began to provide.

Urging us to go to church one random spring morning in a town we’ve never even heard of. Finding a realtor who understands our hearts, and sought to make sure we were taken care of in not one, but two homes to live in this year. Placing the sweet angel of a woman in a park on a random early fall day, who had the courage to invite me to join a group of preschool moms when I had no one to call ‘friend.’

I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was giving me little chunks of courage. Little bite-sized morsels to tell me, “I’m here. Be brave, Kristin. You were called to thrive in this place.”

Twelve months. It took me twelve months to see the bravery in it all. Bravery in my life has been to take one step forward without actually knowing what lies ahead: moving beyond fear and the comfort of the known by reaching out praying for someone to catch me.

What I didn’t know that first day we travelled to our new hometown, was what brave actually looked like. I didn’t know bravery meant to do what the heartstrings of your soul were telling you to do, even if it didn’t make sense. I didn’t know that bravery meant asking for help in a community of women that already seem filled to the brim with commitments to others. And I didn’t know bravery would lead to this very place of stepping so far outside my comfort zone it makes my palms sweat.

So when the days wear on, the tantrums persist, and there isn’t enough Frozen in the world to get you through the day, let the tiny morsels of courage help get you through. You’ll find that you’ll not only just survive. You’ll thrive.



xoxo, k.

10.29.2014

Day 29: Your People (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of "Your People." If you haven't had the chance, go ahead and read Part 1 about knowing people. It'll be worth your time. Promise :)


It was unseasonably warm for early spring, which meant the neighbors were out, starving for human interaction after suffering a winter that beat us with snow storm after snowstorm, week after week. Pleasantries were made, we caught up on the latest in each other's lives, and then the conversation changed course. It was a simple invitation, really. But to me, it was something that was completely out of my comfort zone.

"I lead a book club. Our next book is called Power of a Praying Wife. Would you like to join us?"

Had it not been for another neighbor nodding her head enthusiastically "yes," I probably would have politely declined. But she did, so I did, too, and somehow found myself the following Wednesday evening in a room full of Christian women, sharing God's word through Stormie Omartian's prayers for our husbands.

I was sure I'd be found out as an impostor at some point that night. They knew so much of the Bible, and prayed aloud with eloquence, and had confidence in their faith. I wanted to know more. I yearned for it. With the tiny fingers and toes growing inside me, who turned out to be our first daughter, I knew that I was called for something more. That I wasn't where I should be in my faith, and something had to change.

But here's the kicker: They never called me out. They never shouted, "Impostor!" and ushered me out the door. They listened. They commiserated. They held my hand. They prayed. They met me right where I was, and never made me feel less than.

Three and a half years later, we moved from the cozy comfort of knowing our neighbors, late night talks on our front stoop, and all of our kiddos running from house to house. Saying goodbye was hard, but it was right for our family.

Saying goodbye to those sweet women who met each week on a Wednesday? Heartbreaking. They filled me up in ways unimaginable. They accepted me for who I was without question, they demonstrated outward faith, and lived it outright each and every day of their lives.

Life changing relationships. They were my people.

This sweet going away present hangs in my office :) 
When we moved down to the country, I have to admit I initially basked in the freedom of not knowing anyone. But as the days grew short and winter creeped in, I began to realize something was missing from my life. My people. I missed my people (and my house). No visit or phone call could replace the consistent filling up on God's Word and sweet fellowship that was no longer a constant in my life. Don't get me wrong. I studied the Bible more than I had in any other time in my life, but God doesn't call us to worship alone. We thrive in community, and as Christmas came and went, I knew what was missing, but I had no idea how to find it.

After the first of the year, a few girls from my MOPS table were getting together one night, and I was urged by Mr. Kuda to get out there and make friends. So I went, and by the time the evening had dwindled down to just me and one other mom, I just knew I had to say something.

"Do you want to start a small group Bible Study? Like without our children? At my house? Every week?"

My friend encouraged me to get started, to send out feelers, and to just start. She was my people.

If you had told me twelve months ago that I would be meeting each week with a group of women that I hadn't yet even met, and that they were some of the sweetest friendships of my life, I would have laughed at you. I hold these women so dearly and closely to my heart. Things aren't always tidy. We don't all necessarily agree. But there is an unconditional respect and love that oozes out of each and every one of them. They are my people.

Something happens when you get face to face, dig down deep, and share your life. I'm not saying that you need to do this with every person you meet. But you need people. People you can count on. People who love you unconditionally, but speak truth and hold you accountable to your beliefs, even when you don't want them to. Maybe to you this doesn't look like a weekly Bible study. Maybe it's a monthly book club, or an annual trip with your girls, or even just meeting up for a cup of coffee. But friends, you need people.

There's such an important lesson here, and it bears repeating: Get out there and know people. Because you don't know how one small interaction with an acquaintance can turn your life around. Because you don't have to live this life alone, and you shouldn't have to. And most importantly, because God calls us to community. He has designed His Church so that we hold one another up in encouragement through support, love, and honor. He is My People.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24-25 (added emphasis, my own)

Is what I'm saying striking a chord? It starts with you. It starts with a question. Know people. Love people. Encourage People.

xoxo, k.

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10.28.2014

Day 28: Your People (Part 1)

"She has her hands full. She is so busy. I'm sure she doesn't have time for me."
Jennifer just had her fourth baby, and even though she'd tell you otherwise with complete honesty, this girl has it together.

She's gorgeous, has a loving husband, and just a beautiful family. She's a Godly woman, smart and well read, and seems to find time in her day to do things that I only wish I could do. Like sew a dress from scratch and wear it that very same day.

Who does that?

I had the thought to invite her to our small group on Tuesday nights, and those words popped in: "She has her hands full. She is so busy. I'm sure she doesn't have time for me." In the span of 30 seconds, I reduced an acquaintance's own feelings into negative feelings toward myself. I had made her busyness about me! Doing so not only disallowed me to build a deeper relationship with someone whom I could very likely have a great friendship, but it completely eliminated her opinion on the matter.

In effect, I took her rights away, before our friendship began.

Have you been on the other side of this? When I was working full time after our first child, I heard it spoken to me a lot: You're so busy with work and Miss E, otherwise I would have called you over! Or You must be exhausted! You should just rest when you have some down time.

Each time I heard it spoken aloud, my soul was crushed. Was I not good enough? Was I not allowed time with other women because I was too busy? Who gets to decide that?

The thing about deciding another's fate is that we simply don't have that right. We belittle others, thinking we have their best interest at heart, but in reality, we just don't know how other people are getting by.

Invite her over. Say hello with a smile. Usher in a cup of coffee and sit down. Ask questions. We can't truly live in community with one another if we don't take risks, putting ourselves out there.  Only then can we dig down deep and find each other right where we are. Newly sewn dress and all.

Stay tuned for Part Two of "Your People" for Day 29! In the mean time, get out there and know people!

xoxo, k.

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10.27.2014

Day 27: Your Superhero

Happy Monday, folks! You know what's better than writing about encouragement for 31 days? Encouraging others to write about encouragement, too! I hope you'll enjoy one of my dearest friends, Karen, as she gives us awesome suggestions to encourage the men in our lives.

**
superhero
A being with extraordinary physical or mental powers, far beyond the
range of normal human ability, who uses these powers to protect the
innocent and for the general good. (source)

“Go lay down and scream help!” my son ordered.  He had just received his new Buzz Lightyear costume in the mail for Halloween and he quickly put it on and was ready to play.   With Mommy in “distress”, he flew into the room, shot down the bad guys with his Astro Blaster laser, and rescued me.  I expressed my gratitude to him for saving me from the Evil Emporer Zurg.  He walked away with his chest proud and a smile on his face.   I am sure this scene is one that is reenacted in many households that contain preschool boys.  All boys want to be our superhero.

But boys grow up and outgrow their superhero costumes.   They stop acting out their rescues.  Surprisingly though, they never outgrow their desire to be someone’s superhero.  

Ladies, inside every man and therefore every husband is a little boy, wanting to be their wife’s superhero. 


Who would Superman be without Lois Lane?  Or Batman without Rachel Dawes?  Ironman without Pepper Potts?   Have you ever stopped to wonder why that is the case?   These women provide encouragement, support, and love to their men.  These men wouldn’t be who they are without these ladies. 

Every day, when our husbands walk out into society, they are faced with extraordinary pressures of providing for their family, juggling commitments at work with time with their family, and dealing with bosses who possibly belittle them.  On TV, they are portrayed as buffoons who can’t do anything right except hold a remote and a beer at the same time.  Sure, these issues are not as extreme as saving the world from nuclear destruction or space alien invasions, but to the men we love, these burdens weigh them down just the same.   Who is there to build them back up when the world has beat them down?   

You are.

Our husbands need to be encouraged within our home.  We mean well, but unfortunately, without even thinking, we are so quick to discourage: 

Maybe he does a load of laundry, but ends up putting your favorite sweater in the dryer?  Do you get mad at him for ruining the sweater, or thank him for trying? 

Maybe he doesn’t change diapers the “right” way, but at least he is tackling toxic waste disposal.   Do you barge in and take over his attempt? Or more, do you squelch his courage, and then tell him to do it like mom?

Maybe he cooks the kid’s breakfast, but leaves the kitchen not as clean as he started (the way YOU left it the night before).  Do you first thank him for cooking, or just complain about the mess? 

Why are we so quick to criticize?  Men will not always do things the same way we do them.  But we have the opportunity to make our husbands feel like superheroes.   Yes! We have THAT much power with our words and our gestures.  We can make him feel like a hero or a zero.  Which will you choose? 

So, let's put our words into action. Here are four practical ways to make your husband feel like a superhero:

{Express Gratitude}
Thank him for the little things. To him, they are the big things.

{Build Him Up} 
Tell him daily, hourly, even every minute if you feel so inclined, what you love about him. Remind him who he is before he walks out into a world that tells him who he isn't. Tell him he is a great husband, a great friend, a hard worker, and a smart man.

{Publicly Support Him and Disagree With Him in Private}
A superhero wants his leading lady to stand by him in the face of a challenge. This includes in front of your children, your girlfriends, and especially in front of his friends.

{Be Ready With a Smile and a Kiss}
After combating an evil villain or saving the world, the first thing a superhero wants to see is the love of his life. No matter how hard your day was, when he walks in the door each night after facing the world, greet him with a hug and a kiss.

Not so hard, right? Now get to it! And, if you're not married? Encourage the men in your life. After all, they all just want to be your superhero.

**
Karen is married to her devoted (albeit, at times bogged down with alien invasions) husband, and they have two awesome kiddos. On any given day, you can find her running, making others smile, and there's a pretty good chance she'll have a cup of coffee in hand. Karen has served in her local MOPS group for five years, and is currently serving under her church's women's ministry team, where she is able to follow her passion for encouraging women in all stages of life, helping them to realize they don't have to carry their burdens alone. Please email Kristin if you'd like to reach Karen directly!

Can we talk about how fantastic (and totally doable!) those suggestions are? So thrilled to have had Karen join us this month. See y'all tomorrow!

xoxo, k.

 
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