Amazing Grace

Posted in FAITH
on April 21, 2017

When I started this blog, I had big plans.  A long list of goals, and high expectations.  I wanted to be a consistent source of encouragement, truth and love.  I’m about as Type A as they come, but sometimes life doesn’t go the way we plan, and I am slowly learning to roll with the punches.  To be quite honest, the last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind.  The exciting part is that we sold our home, bought a new one, moved, and have begun remodeling (stay tuned for renovation posts).  But I have also needed to take some time away from blogging to work through the emotions stirring inside me.  I’ve been struggling with my own imperfection.  Feeling less than.  Comparing who I am to the mother, wife, friend, sister and daughter that I long to be.  I’ve experienced shame and guilt that has been unmatched at any other time in my life.  I’ve been facing the reality that I can love more, give more, spend more time with the Lord, serve more, be more kind, more patient, live in the moment better, and be less judgmental and less selfish.  I recognize the countless ways that the Lord has shown me how I can serve my husband, my church, my family, and my friends better, yet I continue to fall so short.  I would begin to make improvements, only to find myself disappointed every time I failed.  Things got dark a few weeks back, and I desperately needed to get out of my own pity party.  Every inch of progress seemed to be followed with a mile of mistakes.  I’ve discovered that it’s one thing to agree that God’s grace is wide enough to cover all of our sins, and another to believe it.  To acknowledge it and to live your life accepting the gift of freedom that we have been so graciously given by Christ’s death on the cross.  For the first time in my life, I decided to seek help, and I went to see my pastor.  My eyes swelled with tears as he gently said, “Skye, it sounds like you need a big ‘ole dose of God’s amazing grace”.  And he couldn’t have been more right.  Friends, I think we all could use a little more grace for ourselves in our lives.  I think sometimes it’s easier for us to dish out grace for others than it is for ourselves, and I encourage you to take it from someone who has been there: it can be detrimental when you don’t allow that grace to flow into your own heart.

I have chosen to be a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend who lives her life shining Christ’s light, loving others, and sharing God’s truths.  I will no longer live out of fear of what others might think, or in fear that I am not deserving of Christ’s love.  I have been living in this disappointed little bubble for much too long.  Our society is so focused on “self”, but joy isn’t found in self, it’s found in God and our never-ending pursuit of Him, not perfection.  In John 13:34, Jesus calls His followers to “Love one another, just as I have loved you.  By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s this: the lasting effect of time with the lord radiates a beautiful joy that draws people near.  Loving others as Christ loves us makes forgiving easier.  It’s more natural to be kind, patient, forgiving, humble and generous. Have you ever run across someone you’ve never met before, and after spending just a few short moments with them, knew that they were a Christ follower?  Christ’s love is contagious, and whether or not we, as Christians, choose to show it has a huge effect on the watching world.

Spending daily time in prayer has brought me closer to the Lord.  I’ve been reading His Word with the intent of deepening my relationship with Him, rather than studying each sentence as if it were a textbook.  Attending and serving at church has also given me a greater understanding of Christ’s love.  And most of all, accepting His AMAZING GRACE, because I am so far from being perfect, yet he loves me.  Imperfect me.

I’ll leave you with these words that Brennan Manning shares in his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel.  I hope you find them as truthful and encouraging as I have.

The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves.  The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception.  It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us.  As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry and resentful with those closest to me.  When I go to church, I can leave my white hat at home and admit I have failed.  God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am.  Because of this I don’t need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him.  I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness.

Love + Hugs,

Skye

How to Travel with Littles | 7 Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Posted in FAMILY, PARENTING WITH A PURPOSE
on December 6, 2016

It’s that time of year again.  Before too long, we’ll be making the fourteen (yes, you read that right) hour trek to Illinois to visit family for the holidays.  Honestly, we’ve made this drive so many times, that by now, we actually look forward to it.  Because it means fourteen whole hours of being together.  No work, no stress (except for my husband’s slight case of road rage), no house to clean, no laundry to sort, no meals to prepare, no dishes to wash.  Just the four of us and our dog, together, all day long.  It’s a rarity these days… all of us being together for more than an hour or so in the evening.  I think we’re all aching for quiet family time.  A break from, well, LIFE.  To be honest, it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like it to.  I’m guessing that many of you are nodding your heads in agreement, or letting out a long sigh because your heart aches for a quiet break together with those that you love the most.

A road trip gives us all an opportunity to have a little adventure together.  We make it fun.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tears and at least one dreaded blowout, but our kids have always been troopers.  A huge blessing, no doubt.  It’s a much needed recharge to prepare for a busy week ahead.  Spending time with our family and friends is something that we all look forward to, and enjoy.  But, if I’m being completely honest, it’s also tiring.  Sleeping in different beds, trying to adapt to different routines (while doing our best to keep the kids on their schedules), attempting to meet up with each and every family member and friend, chasing our toddler around every non toddler-proofed house, and living out of suitcases.  It’s exhausting, but so worth it in the end.  There are so many moments treasured and memories created.

Since we’ve done this long-distance traveling thing a time or ten (although this will be our first time with two littles), I thought I’d share a few tips for those of you who also have plans to travel for the holidays.  We, by no means, have it all figured out, so I’m eager to hear your suggestions as well.  My husband and I know firsthand that all children are different, and that each child’s needs are going to be met in different ways.  These just happen to be a few things that work well for us. Continue reading

Holiday Traditions

Posted in FAMILY
on November 19, 2016

‘Twas the night before Christmas…. Or Thanksgiving.  I know, I know.  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and here I am, posting pictures of my family cutting down our Christmas tree.  Since moving to North Carolina, we have had to start celebrating Christmas a little earlier than we used to.  We spend a good bit of December visiting family in Illinois, so we want the extra time at home, snuggled up on the couch next to our beautifully lit tree.

Growing up, my parents took my sister and I to a tree farm every year on the day after Thanksgiving.  My dad and I would wake up before the sun and brave the Black Friday crowds.  We would spend the night before strategizing and planning which items were on our most wanted list, and how we would make it to each stop before everything sold out.  My dad was always a trooper, and would go to the department stores that he most likely had no interest in going to, but I think he just enjoyed our time together, and our little tradition.  I did too.  Which explains why I would also go along with him to all of the “dad stores”.  You know which ones I’m talking about… Best Buy, Menards, Circuit City.  After we checked all of the items off of our list, we would grab a bagel and a coffee and sit and reflect on all that we had accomplished before 8am.  Then, we’d go home and enjoy our finds from the morning, and have leftover Thanksgiving turkey for lunch.

My mom worked on Black Friday most years, so we would eagerly wait until she got home to head out to the tree farm.  In Illinois, the weather is quite chilly in November, so we would bundle up, and set off on the hunt for the perfect tree.  Go big or go home was our family motto…. well, at least when we were searching for a Christmas tree.  My parent’s home has a large great room, with two big circle-top windows.  The tree would sit right in the middle of the windows, and if you couldn’t look in from outside and see the tree through both windows, it wasn’t big enough.

Cars would drive by our house and slow down (some would even stop for a few minutes) to look at the giant beauty, lit with hundreds of colorful lights.  I remember many nights where we’d be sitting on the couch, watching the cars slowly drive by, admiring our tree.  We were so proud.  When I think about it now, I laugh a little, but it really is such a special memory.  This day was something that we had looked forward to every year, and boy did we live it to the fullest.

Thanksgiving is a little different for us now that we live so far from family.  We are starting new traditions of our own, so that our boys will be able to look back and have good childhood memories filled with family, love and laughter.  We want to carry on the tradition of cutting down a fresh Christmas tree because it is something that was so special to me.  And while we are no longer doing it the day after Thanksgiving, we enjoy it all the same.  Honestly, who want’s to take a toddler and an infant out of the house on Black Friday?

Friendsgiving is a new tradition that we started last year.  We gather with several of our friends a week or so before Thanksgiving, and we enjoy good fellowship and food together.  This year, we are also looking forward to cooking a traditional Thanksgiving meal at our home.

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Love + Hugs,

Skye

 

Grandma’s Pecan Rolls

Posted in EATS
on November 14, 2016

Grandma’s pecan rolls, a cup of coffee (hot chocolate for the littles), Christmas music playing in the background, snuggled up in our pjs by the beautifully lit, fresh-cut Christmas tree.  That is how we do Christmas mornings.  It’s a tradition that we’ve had for years, and it’s one that I’m looking forward to passing onto our boys.  These rolls remind me of my childhood.  Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners were not complete if Grandma’s rolls weren’t sitting in a basket at each end of the table.  She would always make extra so that we could save a few to reheat on Christmas morning.  Now that we live across the country, my Grandma has shared her recipe with me (and has given me permission to share it with all of you) so that I may carry on her tradition with my family.  We take these rolls to all of our holiday gatherings, and they’re always a hit!  So, I wanted to be sure to share this recipe with you just in time for the holidays. Continue reading

Present Over Perfect | Book Review

Posted in FAITH, READS
on November 9, 2016

I had the opportunity to attend a conference this past weekend where Shauna Niequist was speaking.  She has a way of making you feel like it’s just you and her, sitting across from one another, sipping on a hot cup of tea and sharing good conversation.  She spoke right into my heart.  Shauna shared stories of her faith and how she has grown over the last couple of years, deciding to live in the present, and choosing to live a life of purpose and fulfillment.

At any given time, I’m in the middle of three (okay, really five) different books.  Shauna’s newest release, Present Over Perfect, is one that I’ve opened on several occasions.  I’d meditate on one or two chapters at a time, really allowing the words to soak in and to start applying some of the principles into my daily life.  I assure you, it is covered from beginning to end with highlighter, underlines, stars, and page ears. Continue reading

God Meets Us Where We Are

Posted in FAITH, MARRIAGE
on October 30, 2016

One of my fondest teenage memories is snuggling up by the campfire with my love, day dreaming about getting married, living in our own home, having kids and growing old together.  I had always envisioned us living a few miles away from our parents in the same small town that we grew up in.  We’d get a dog, and we’d spend our weekends with family.  We’d go to the same restaurants, have the same friends, shop at the same stores, attend the same church, and celebrate the same holidays the way we always had – with family, playing games, eating good food and laughing.  I found comfort in routine and predictability. 

I’ll never forget that day.  The day that everything changed.  I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence like never before.  He was telling me to speak up.  I almost laughed at what He was telling me to say.  Never in a thousand years had I imagined such words coming out of my mouth.  It warranted action, and change.  Two things that made my heart race and threw me into a panic.  Every inch of my brain was telling me to ignore this feeling.  But instead, I listened.  And I spoke.  Continue reading

The Thief of Joy

Posted in FAITH
on October 24, 2016

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Have you ever fallen into the comparison trap while scrolling through your Instagram account.  Have you found yourself saying things like, “I wish I looked like that.  Her children are so well behaved!  Look how clean and beautiful their house is!  I wish my husband would do that.  If I only had her job…”?  I get it, it can be hard not to think this way when it seems like everyone else has it together, and you’re curled up in the corner of your closet, hiding from your kids, you have three day old hair, crusted with spit up, and you haven’t changed out of your yoga pants in who knows how long.  I’ve been there.  I think we’ve all been there in some way or another.

How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?  John 5:44 (NIV)

Friends, we have to remember that the images we are seeing on social media of tidy homes, happy children, pretty outfits and delicious, perfectly plated food are the best moments in other’s lives.  Who want’s to share a picture of their baby’s blow out all over the couch, or the bottle of biofreeze that your child thought was a popcicle (both of which have happened in my home).  That wouldn’t be pretty, right?  So, we must remember that 98% of the time, social media is simply a creative outlet for individuals.  And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we realize that’s what it is.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we encouraged others and showed love through our actions AND our words?  What if we chose go out of our way to compliment others and celebrate their accomplishments alongside them instead of using jealousy or comparison to tear them down.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Romans 8:28 (NLT)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

Joy is not a feeling, it is a decision.  It is in the darkest night when the light shines the brightest.

Let’s be intentional about choosing joy.  Let’s focus on contentment and loving others.  Let’s not forget that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.

Love + Hugs,

Skye

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies

Posted in EATS
on October 20, 2016

Hello friends!

Fall weather is FINALLY here in North Carolina, and I’m all about it!  I’m a little too thrilled about all things Autumn (if there’s such a thing).  Over-sized sweaters, pumpkin everything, boots, fall smells, cool weather, football, pumpkin patches…. aahhhhh it just gives me all the feels.

I came across this recipe while looking for a fall treat to bake for our son’s second birthday party.  These cookies were such a hit that we didn’t have a single one left at the end of the party.  Since then, I have probably made them half a dozen times.  Because that’s what I do when I find a recipe that I can make that yields good results.

The cookies themselves are delicious as is, but they’re even more amazing (according to my cream cheese, pumpkin loving husband) with the cream cheese frosting and cinnamon sprinkle on top.  They literally melt in your mouth.

You’ll find the recipe below (adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything).  It makes a TON (like enough to feed an entire army of teenage boys), so I generally cut the ingredients in half.  To make these cookies dairy free, you can substitute Earth Balance Vegan Butter for butter, and you’ll have to skip out on the frosting.

Continue reading

Adjusting to Life as a Family of FOUR

Posted in FAITH, PARENTING WITH A PURPOSE
on October 18, 2016

Sweet Mamas,

Life looks a little different these days, and I can honestly say that my heart is SO FULL.  All of the fears and worries about becoming a mama of multiples have been put to rest.  I thought I’d dig a little deeper into those feelings and share how life has changed now that I’m a mama of two.  I hope that you find this post encouraging in whatever season of life you may be in.  I’d love to hear your stories too, so please share below!  If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last two years, it’s that it DOES take a village!  I am convinced that the need for community and oxygen go hand in hand.  We’re in this together, sweet mamas!

Continue reading

PARTY TIME

Posted in PARENTING WITH A PURPOSE
on October 6, 2016

When we moved to North Carolina, we didn’t know anyone.  Combine that with the fact that the majority of our family lives 800 miles away.   So to celebrate Luca’s first birthday, we opted to save the money and enjoy a low-key day together as a family.  Fast-forward one year, and God has so richly blessed our family with more sweet friends than we can count on two hands.  That, my friends, calls for celebration!  So, we decided to throw a birthday party for our T W O year old (after convincing my SUPER SAVER husband that it would be worth the money to have all of these memories stored up in our hearts).  Considering that Luca loves all things trucks and tools, it was a no brainer to throw him a construction themed party.

Continue reading