Thursday, September 22, 2016

Never Thought I'd Ever...


Me, at 2:21am: 

"God you spoke this very universe into existence and Your awesome and mighty power astounds me. The smallness of my life compared to the vastness that You've created humbles me when I consider how deep and wide and far Your love for me still reaches. It's with this view in mind that I ask that Your grace and mercy and favor be poured out to me and that You SEND THAT HAMSTER OUT OF WHATEVER HIDING PLACE HE IS CURRENTLY OCCUPYING because, God- he long gone. And Lord, if it isn't Your will that this escaped rodent be found, I beseech You for Your imminent return because there is zero percent of me that wants to break this news to my oldest offspring in approximately five hours hence. It's in Jesus' holy and perfect name I pray this humble prayer, Amen." 

Y'all, I'm gonna go ahead and add this to my column of "Prayers I Never Thought I'd Pray". 
(The list is ever growing.) 

**And also, the hamster WAS found. That's the power of prayer for ya. 

::praise hands::

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"You're Pretty. On the INside."


Vanity, y'all. 
It's seeds get planted early with little girls, or so I recently discovered. 

A few months ago, as I was getting my 4 year old daughter dressed for church one Sunday morning, she admired her reflection in the bathroom mirror and remarked "I look SO beautiful!" And granted, she did. Her dress was freshly ironed and her hair was shiny and combed. I'd just pulled her hair out of her face and secured it with a bow. Her lace trimmed socks peeked out the top of her little Mary Jane shoes and she really was quite adorable, if I do say so myself. 

But, despite her preciousness, I heard warning bells. They rang out to me from just a few years in the future when, if pride in her appearance were too unnecessarily praised, my sweet Josie may fall into the trap of believing that feeling good about yourself as a person only comes when you feel good about yourself in the mirror. So I put the comb on the countertop and swiveled her to face me. 

"You're right, Shug. You DO look nice today. Your hair is combed and your dress is pretty and your bow matches the pink in the cupcakes on your collar. But there's a more important beauty I want to tell you about. And you can't see it when you look in the mirror. The prettiness I want to tell you about is the kind that's found in your heart. It's the loveliness that happens when your heart loves Jesus and your family and others. When you love God, you treat others with kindness and gentleness. You share your toys and crayons and very favorite stuffed animals. When you are that pretty on the inside, what you look like on the outside doesn't matter. Who would you rather play with? A little girl who has on a beautiful dress and fancy bow but who screams at her brothers and ignores her parents and snatches Legos away from people or a little girl in plain play clothes who loves her family and hugs her friends and shares her PlayDoh? It's an easy choice, isn't it? Because when your heart is hard and cold and unloving, it doesn't matter how beautiful you are on the outside because you'll still be unkind. But if you love Jesus and others, you'll always be pretty, no matter what you have on. So remember that the best kind of beautiful to be is when your insides are just as lovely as your outsides. AND YOURS ARE." 

I left the pep talk in the bathroom that day, but continued to bring it up from time to time as we dressed up or left the house looking especially special. We continued to talk about the importance of our pretty hearts throughout the months, but I never realized until this morning just how much of the message had sunk in with her. Bless it.

I was in my bathroom, brushing my teeth before we needed to leave for our weekly Bible study at our church building. It's a typical, stressed out homeschool Tuesday and I'm absolutely, positively looking it: jeans, t-shirt, dirty hair covered in one of my husband's baseball hats, chapstick and sunscreen rounded out my current ensemble. I'm wiping my mouth on a hand towel when I feel some tiny arms wrap themselves around my right leg. I look down and see my sweet, innocent Josie looking up at me, head cocked to the side and examining my current state. "Momma, you sure are beautiful on the inside," she said. ::inwardly beaming:: "Well, thank you, Jo. That's very nice of you to say," I replied. "Yep," she said, "because your outsides don't look pretty at all today." Sweet merciful heavens. 

I nearly died y'all, right there on the tile. I was crying laughing. CRI-NE. True story.

So the moral of the story is this: If you ever find yourself afflicted with false modesty, just come over to my house and spend some time with my kids and they'll knock you off your polished pedestal REAL QUICK. Bless 'em.

*PSA: I am 1000% taking a shower during nap time today. Promise. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

On Slothful Motherhood.


Heaven sakes, y'all. Am I the only one who feels like they are trapped inside a tornado of stress and school and activities and dog hair?? My two bigs woke up nearly TWO HOURS EARLY this morning so that can only mean one thing: MANDATORY REST TIME this afternoon. (And that is the lone reason I can even sit still long enough to write all this down.) 

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind around our house. I won't go into ALL the gory details, but let's just say the hi lights are: we've started school, adopted a hamster, baked almost 70 pans of bread pudding, practiced baseball, planned food to feed 150 ladies at our church's Ladies Day, taught a new quarter of Bible Classes, and bleached our porch furniture. For starters.

I am busy and frazzled and fried, if I'm being totally honest. There are times when I think I'm being held together by Jesus, coffee and dry shampoo. I'm not sleeping much and instead spending the hours between 1:30am and 5:00am channeling my stress energy by wiping out my icebox drawers or turning over laundry loads or rewriting my To Do list or Pinteresting butterfly life cycle lesson plans. I've become quite good at managing my work flow demands at 3:45am and cat napping on my couch while our newest family member Rhino the hamster trains for the Olympics on his squeaky exercise wheel. (Also to be noted: When the pet store associates tell you hamsters are nocturnal: THEY ARE NOT LYING.)

Early mornings come and I brew my coffee and read my Bible and pray before my day "officially" begins and more often than not, despite my best efforts- I'm burned out before the sun even comes up. And I realize that, while I'm not alone in the stress vortex that sometimes comes with motherhood, busy seasons like this are ripe with opportunities for me to meltdown. I'm busy, tired, stretched thin and ready to snap all before breakfast is over. Coffee can't cure what ails me, but it does give me enough energy to blink in surprise when I look at the clock and realize it's only 9:07am. 

 I can feel my emotions simmering just below the surface and they are ready to boil over at the slightest provocation. I KNOW YOU KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. On a normal day, my youngest's artistic expressions inside one of my lesson planner pages wouldn't bother me. But on a day like this, it's enough to make my temper explode and my blood positively boil. I see a spilled bag of goldfish crackers and want to scream. Abandoned uncapped markers make my neck veins distend and do not even get me started about what milk splatter on my baseboards does to me. Normal sibling squabbles find me quick to overreact and typical childlike delays have me barking orders and thundering through my living room. My stressed out self can turn me into a short tempered, overly dramatic, narcissistic, whining, complaining, victim and THAT IS NOT COOL because last time I checked, approximately zero of those things were fruits of the Spirit.  

But fear not! I've discovered a trick that has helped me cope on days like these. When my tank is running on fumes and I haven't washed my hair in like 100 hours, I CHANNEL MY INNER SLOTH LIKE A BOSS and somehow find the strength to survive another day. That's right: When I can't take it anymore, I take on slothful motherhood and I.own.it.

When I want to yell at the kids for emptying Legos onto their bedroom floor: I whisper. I walk slooowly around the house instead of stomping in frustration from room to room. I make the bed purposefully instead of throwing pillows down in angst and self pity. I gently open the icebox door to get eggs out to scramble instead of jerking it open with impatience. I brush teeth gently, comb hair like it's fragile and drive like I'm 92. When my patience is thin and I want to scream: I start speaking in nearly monotone. I wash dishes by hand instead of tossing silverware angrily into the dishwasher caddy. And guess what y'all: IT WORKS.

When I am nearly out of energy, and the opportunity for me to refill my tank is still hours away, it makes sense for me to conserve as much of it as I can by limiting my energy output. The more I fuss and the more I sigh and the more I exhale dramatically over every.little.thing- the less energy I have to do the things I really need to do like Godly parenting. And teaching. And vacuuming. And cooking supper. On the days when I blow my top and explode all my emotions on all my kids over all the little things they do, by 10:45am I have nothing left but a sick, guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach and loads of remorse for the way I lost it with the kids. 

But, by LITERALLY SLOWING DOWN and almost coasting through the day's activities- the more energy I have to actually make it through them. And, surprisingly, the less I fuss at the kids or lecture them for not listening or freak out over their typical sibling bickering- the less I am inclined to actually do it. For me, madness breeds madness and havoc breeds havoc. Once I lose my temper it becomes that much easier for it to happen again and again and again AND AGAIN. But, on the flip side- the longer I can exercise self control and refrain from blowing my top, the easier it becomes to knock my gears down a few levels and channel my patience instead of blowing it while I yell at the kids over fighting over what episode of Wild Kratts to watch next.  

So my hopeful hope is that maybe this self realization may help you on the days when you feel like you have nothing left. Maybe knowing I slow down, breathe quietly and tiptoe around my house when I'm about to lose it will help you do the same. And maybe, just maybe, channeling our inner sloths will in turn help us be better Moms on those hard, empty tank days. And y'all, I know this for sure- going slowly through my day beats the post freak out high blood pressure headache HANDS DOWN. 

So go on and own your own version of slothful motherhood on the hard days and rest assured that I will, too. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Am I Doing Enough?


I love summer mission trips. 

As a teenager, I went on several. My first was a trip to Honduras when I was 14 and I'm not going to lie, IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I went to Mexico the following two summers and I can say that experiencing life outside my comfortable 'first world' bubble was humbling and gratifying and I'm so glad my parents sacrificed their time, money, prayers, and stress levels (HELLO!)  to allow me experiences like that. 

Coming back (or re-entry, as it's sometimes called) gave my teenage self a romantic vision of future mission field work with my nameless, faceless future spouse. I COULD JUST SEE US working in the mountains with the people, learning the language and reaching their souls for Christ because until we came, they'd never have heard the name of Jesus. 

Then I went to college. I continued my educational career and the opportunities to continue international mission work waned. I charted a course through my studies, began dating and then married my husband, Matt and suddenly my spouse wasn't nameless or faceless anymore. I finished my degrees and began teaching in a fabulous school in our county but the back burner dream of reaching lost souls for Him still burned. 

I'd see others begin long term mission works of their own or watch as high school students embarked on their own first mission adventures and the feelings I had all those years ago for mission work would surge back and I would remember the fire that had been ignited all those years ago. I still desired to reach those who didn't know Him. 

Then, after a few more years, we had a baby. Then, 18 months later- we had another one. Then, 17 months after that- we had our third bundle. I became a SAHM and later a homeschooler to my oldest two and while raising a bunch of homeschool weirdos was fulfilling and I loved it, there were times when I began to doubt the amount of my affect on the world for Him. 

AM  I DOING ENOUGH??

A member of our congregation's youth group took their first international mission trip this summer, and as I heard the stories and watched as my social media feeds filled with re-entry stories and testimonies and changed lives, that now familiar nagging feeling came back to the surface. "What difference am I really making now?? What happened to the zeal I felt? I don't feel like I'm doing ANYTHING to spread the Gospel now." 

AND THEN IT HIT ME. I am doing mission work. Right here, in my home, with my family. God's given me my own village full of souls who, before they met me, had never once heard the name of Jesus. While I may not be trekking through mountainous terrain to reach the lost, I am traveling my own path to touch lives for Him. It's just that I'm crossing valleys of Legos and rivers of spilled chocolate milk instead. 

Every day I'm working to point three souls Christ. I'm the first and biggest and most influential force in their lives and to them, in this moment- I have become The Gospel with skin on. Their view of Jesus and His love and grace and care are nearly wholly dependent on how they see Him working in my life daily. Everyday I get to work in my 1,749 square foot mission field as I use my actions and words and feelings to show them Jesus and point their way toward Him. 

So while I may not be in a foreign country or in a far off land teaching and preaching and serving- God has put me just where He wants me to work. Right here reaching out to the souls He has charged me with. And maybe one day, there will be another opportunity to serve somewhere else but until then- I'll keep working where He has planted me. 

Thanks for stopping by.  ~Katie. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Me + Disaster Relief= Desserts


Ok, so here's the deal: My go-to crisis reaction is to cook because when the going gets tough, I go to the kitchen. AND HERE IS THE DEAL- I'm heading back in there now. 

I'm going to have an old fashioned Bake Sale for my local Florida friends who want to help support those who are recovering from the unprecedented flooding in South Louisiana. There are those who are suffering and have lost everything- and all proceeds from this Bake Sale will go DIRECTLY to families in need. 

For a donation of $10 you can buy an 8" pan of some delicious "500 Year Rain" Raisin Bread Pudding covered with a deluge of 'no-flood-zone' vanilla sauce. I'll be taking orders from now until Saturday, August 27th and have them ready for pick up or local delivery on Monday, September 5th. You can comment below or message me to place your order, and make your donations in cash or check. 

I'm going to be cranking out as many bread puddings as I can possibly bake in hopes to raise as many donations as possible to support their relief and recovery costs. And if you can't afford a donation, you can always pray for the families and churches and business affected as they begin the rebuilding process or share this donation opportunity with your friends who can. 

Thank you for helping me do a small part to keep #louisianastrong.

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Back to {HOME} School Vortex



It's that time of year again, y'all! 

All the crayons are on sale and Ticonderoga pencils are still the VIPs in the writing tool department and the aisles are flooded with equal parts glue sticks, 3 ring binders, and loose leaf paper packs. In other words- IT IS LIKE HEAVEN TO ME. 

Office supplies are my jam, y'all. When I'm 93 and senile, my kids are going to discover a cache of horded crystal clear Bic pens because I can NOT stop myself from buying them. (They are the superior ink pen. Anybody that says differently is dead to me.) 

I taught in (an amazing!) public school before the kids came along, so the "Back to School" frenzy is one that I'm familiar with. [So is the blood born pathogens video they make teachers watch every.single.year. WE GET IT. Wear gloves. It's smart and safe. ::check::]

Anyway, what I was surprised to discover was that the pre planning school year whirlwind I rode when I taught public school TOTALLY TRANSFERRED home with me when I began homeschooling. The same desire to empty my classroom desk and wipe out all my cubbies and weed through readers and puzzle boxes and math manipulative IS JUST AS STRONG here as it was there. Only now, I don't have a classroom to have an organizational freak out fest in, I HAVE AN ENTIRE HOUSE to spazz out on. 

I don't know why, but in the last few weeks I've had the compulsion to organize my plastic container cabinet because surely I can't teach Luke math if every tub doesn't have a matching lid. I've taken apart my linen closet because old candles and dusty lightbulb boxes would  make Phonics instruction absolutely impossible. I refolded my Tshirt dresser drawer because without doing so, I wouldn't be able to focus on our science curriculum. I swept out the garage and drove a gigantic load of toys and lagniappe coffee cups to our local mission this week because NO ONE CAN LEARN in a house with too many outgrown toddler clothes. 

So if you need me between now and Monday morning, check for me under my bed organizing 2014's tax return file box or look in our backyard where I'll be hauling broken plastic shovels and sand toys and cups to the recycling bin. It's an urge I'm powerless to resist. I.must.purge. 

So whether you're organizing your classroom or organizing your house- Happy Back to School madness all my teacher friends! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~ Katie. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

a real {LIVE} Bible study how-to tour


So here's the deal, I'm NOT a Bible scholar. Like, at all. Ever. I know I've told y'all this before. There are zero parts of me that think myself some high faluting Bible authority person because let's be honest, I still want to put 2 m's in the word amount. And you can't struggle with basic spelling rules and be a noteworthy Bible scholar because it's against the rules. 

So there, I'm not. 

BUT WHAT I DO KNOW is how important my personal deep daily Bible study has become to my life. By God's grace I've gotten into the habit of studying and reading and praying before the kids get up every morning and y'all- it's a GAME CHANGER. 

I was talking with some of my friends last week about this very thing. We were discussing (read: texting) about the idea of daily prayer time and Bible study and the idea came up that while everybody TALKS about how important it is to read and study and pray every day, it's hard to find real life, real world examples of how it's actually DONE. I took some very sophisticated, artfully staged pictures (sarcasm) of my spaces and showed them how I made my house and space work for my needs. I showed them my prayer journal and closet and they snapped pictures back of their areas AND IT WAS SO NICE. Because real Moms with real kids and real husbands and houses and laundry baskets and work schedules want to read and study and pray every day just like me. It was so encouraging. 

You see, it's easy to tell someone how fundamental daily Bible study and prayer is to you, but is hard to translate that into real, practical, workable ideas until you can SEE HOW IT IS DONE. So that's what I'm praying about doing. 

::gulp::

I'm planning to do a series of Live videos on the blog's Facebook page showing anybody that is interested the real life, real world, in my real house with toys and coffee cups and walls way that I do my daily study and prayer time. I AM PETRIFIED. Live vidoes are intimidating! But, it's my humble and prayerful hope that by opening up and explaining and showing and talking about how I do what I do every day, that there may be some ideas that you'll find useful or helpful or applicable to your own lives. (or at least funny.) 

It looks like I'll be going live at night after I get the kids to bed- maybe around 8:30. (LET US PRAY!) And the videos will be short because I know nobody wants to listen to me drone on about notebooks and study plans for 65 minutes straight, amIright?? ::wink:: I'll be working on a schedule and I'll get more specific details out to y'all soon. But first, I need a little more coffee. Have a fantastic and fully caffeinated day, y'all! 

And thanks for stopping by. ~Katie

Oh! p.s.- If you're so inclined, hop on over to the blog's page and let me know if you're interested and if there is a night of the week that's easier for you than others. (I'm thinking week nights so that weekend family time isn't interrupted.)