A Mother’s Prayer

December 15th, 2012 by admin

I cannot stop thinking about all those poor mothers (And fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, siblings, etc) who lost loved ones yesterday.  Their tiny babies swept from their arms.  There are no words.  It is unimaginable, indescribable.  This fallen, fallen world.  I realize again.  He holds my children in the palm of his hand.  They are his, not mine.  They are his to take care of, not mine…not in the big picture.  I clothe them, I feed them, I bathe them, I kiss them, I love them…but He holds them.  He watches over them always.  All their days are determined by Him and that is all part of his good and sovereign plan.  I spent yesterday morning praying and praying for their protection. I felt so burdened for my girls safety.  A few hours later I heard the news about the shooting in Connecticut and realized- that could have been Cora.  That could have been any of my nieces or nephews.  What if I had prayed for their safety (like many parents would have that morning) and then they were taken.  Then I am reminded, that is all I can do.  Pray and trust.  Trust and pray.

That is why I thought I would share this song.  A Mother’s Prayer by Kristyn Getty.  The most beautiful song I have ever heard regarding motherhood and so true when she sings, “Father, hear my ceaseless prayer, keep her in your care.”


Some DIY

December 14th, 2012 by admin

I thought I would share some of the crafts I’ve been working on lately.  I always love a little Christmas inspiration and thought you might too!

Our Merry Christmas banner was easy to put together.

I used twine, little wooden clips, burlap pennants, doilies, and stamps.  I bought everything at Hobby Lobby.

These burlap pennants are one of the best purchases I have made.  I keep switching them out to make different banners like this one for Elinor’s party.

I love when I buy something that I recycle over and over again…makes my initial purchase (Which was inexpensive anyways) seem even more justified.

About a month I made a peppermint wreath with our niece Anna.  I stole the idea from my Better Homes and Garden magazine.  Easy to make and beautiful to look at. It’s definitely not something a little child could do because the glue is hot (I burned myself countless times) and it’s time consuming.

All you need is a wreath (foam, twig, straw), 2 bags of mints, a hot glue gun and any small, red candy (or nandina berries if you are like me) to fill the holes!  You simply glue the peppermints row by row.

Fill in any empty space with something red and, voila!  A fun and very festive wreath.

And my final little DIY project I though I would share are hair bows. (not really a Christmas craft but could be)  If your daughters are like mine, they lose every single hair bow you buy.  Hair bows are not cheap (Especially unique looking ones) and so it’s frustrating when they are lost.  I stole this idea from my sister and have been making Cora’s hair clips since she first got some hair.  All you need is any embellishment you find pretty- I love ones like this from Hobby Lobby

hair clips, and a glue gun.  The hair clips come in two sizes.  I find the tiny ones perfect for Elinor’s hair (they actually stay in) and the medium size suit Cora.

All you do is pick your embellishment, glue the clip to the bottom of the embellishment.  It will be dry in a matter of seconds.

You are left with an assortment of one-of-a-kind hair bows that cost a lot less than those you buy in the store so it’s not quite so upsetting when your little one loses them plus you can match the bow to any outfit.

A blog I read happened to post the same idea this week but hers are slightly different and she recommends using super glue.  You can read about what she does here.

Hope you all have a good weekend!  Happy Friday!

A Mountain Top Experience

December 10th, 2012 by admin

When I was in high school I was part of all the Christian organizations.  There is one thing I can say about them…they did me a lot of good but also a lot of harm.  There was so much focus on emotional experiences or what they called, a mountain-top experience.  In other words, some big and exciting experience between you and God.  I always carried around this pressure…why wasn’t I having these exciting and phenomenal experiences with God?  Was I just not good enough or holy enough?  I quickly burned out and quit those groups.  I found my church youth group much more steady, solid, feeding me good theology on consistant Christian living rather than pressuring me to have an experience that never seemed to come.

I have since learned those “mountain top” experiences do very occasionally happen and I can count them on one hand.  They also never happened when I was expecting them or pursuing them.  Christianity is about magical little moments.  It is about consistant living in holiness and worship of the one true God.  But, every once and while it seems God reveals himself in a more specific, almost tactile way.  Little precious glimpses of what is to come.

A couple of months ago we had the opportunity to go to a Fernando Ortega concert.  Just me and Justin.  It was only $10 a ticket and I was so worried we wouldn’t have good seats as it was first come, first serve.  How I underestimated the love Christians show to each other.  Everyone was moving over for strangers, not hogging seats, empty front row places all over the sanctuary.  Needless to say, I was impressed with the selfless love people were showing to strangers.  Very different from other concerts I have been to.

I cannot really put into words what this evening meant to me.  All I can say is this, Fernando Ortega’s music has been a constant source of encouragement to me since having two little babies.  Especially in the first months of having a newborn and an angry toddler who was adjusting to being dethroned.  I did not know how much I was struggling during that time until now.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have enjoyed having my little Elinor.  I have loved watching Cora become a big sister but the adjustment was not as easy as I thought.  In retrospect I realize I was in survival mode for about 10 months or so.  During that time Fernando Ortega and his music kept me sane, gave me joy…reminded me of how everything I do is for eternal purposes.

I sat in a beautiful sanctuary surrounded by hundreds of other believers and listened to his voice worship God and heard the cellist accompany him. I wept.  I  wept because I was overflowing with thankfulness.  Thankfulness to a God who could gift a man with so much talent, that could gift people with the ability to sing, to make music, to sing joyfully to His name.   He had us sing a few hymns together.  I stood with my hand-in-hand with Justin and worshipped.  That’s all we did, we spent a night worshipping.  The loveliest worship experience I have ever had.  When it was over I turned to Justin and I said, “I’ll be honest.  Sometimes I have feared worshipping God for eternity will be boring but tonight I realized that isn’t so.  It will be awesome…beyond words.”  We sang as one, we worshipped as one…the bride loving her groom.  A glimpse of eternity.  A little peek into the perfection that we will one day obtain with Him.  The perseverance of the saints in its completion.

Life happens.  It’s busy, it’s hard, it’s distracting.  I am so thankful for those times, those glimpses, those minutes,  where for once I am focused completely and absolutely on my precious Savior.   Where all I can think, breathe and feel is my love for Him.  The reality of how big he is, how perfect he is and how whole I will be when I can stand in His presence and worship him forever.  A true “mountain-top” experience.  No audible words from him, nothing big, explosive, obvious…nothing anybody else could see.  Just a very real and very personal time worshipping and praising my Father in heaven.  Something I know I will remember as long as I live and something I look forward to doing in eternity.

“To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb,
Who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free
I’ll sing His love for me,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.”

-What Wondrous Love is This

 

 

The year of the Doily

December 6th, 2012 by admin

Last Saturday we went to cut down our tree.  We found a new tree farm which was so much prettier than last years place and had a way better selection of trees.  I’m loving this little family tradition we’ve started.

My favorite picture…Cora being told she couldn’t stand near the tree while daddy was cutting.

 

 

Looks like a picture perfect outing doesn’t it? I would be lying if I said that the Christmas festivities don’t start a lot of arguments and a bit of grumbling in our house.  Selecting a tree, cutting down the tree (which also resulted in Justin cutting his hand), sorting through lights that don’t work…you know how it goes.  Pandora is belting out “It’s the most wonderful time of the yearrrrrr!!!!” and we’re sitting in our living room arguing over where the tree should go and how it’s all crooked.  Justin’s sick of hauling an itchy and prickly tree around and I’m trying to straighten the darn thing out which means turning it this way and that, putting books under the stand…tying a string to a branch.  Whatever will make it not lean to the left but still it leans, and it sheds, and the lights don’t work….

But eventually we got it straight, we bought lights that worked…and it was time to begin decorating.

And it’s all so worth it to see baby’s delight.

And so Christmas has begun.  We are enjoying a cozy, festive home…all the cutting, and straightening, and light-bulb fixing was worth it.

 

The girls have their own “tiny tree” but really, it’s a tiny shrub.  More sustainable than buying an actual little tree…plus, we’re cheap.

For some strange reason, ’twas the year of the doilies.  They kinda just seemed right and somewhat resemble a very round snowflake.

 

And that is what Christmas looks like for us this year…doilies, burlap, kraft paper and a whole lot of greenery.

Catch Up

December 3rd, 2012 by admin

I don’t even know where to begin…been a while since my last post.  I thought I would catch you up with pictures.

Thanksgiving was at my sister Susanna’s house this year.  Lots of fun and lots of chaos.  Delicious food.

The kids were not allowing pictures…

Amelia enjoying the reflections in the mirror.

Sister is in her last trimester…cannot wait to meet little Josiah.

 

And just because this picture makes me laugh…

Last week my aunt and uncle visited from Canada…we all descended upon them so they could enjoy some time with their great nieces and nephews.

 

 

Justin’s family had a Thanksgiving dinner/goodbye party for Justin’s cousin who is deploying this week.  Elinor kept Nan busy.

Two sweet boys look perfectly handsome in their red and white.

I love this time of year.  The busyness, the decorations, the music, the parties, the candlelight services, the carols sung in church, reading the story of Jesus’ birth…everything that makes it such a lovely season.

I canot wait to share with you what Christmas looks like in our house this year.  Until then…happy Monday!

A Time for Everything

November 14th, 2012 by admin

The joy of fall is everywhere.  The vibrant colors,the soft bright, perfectly golden sunlight. The cold wind, red cheeks, numb ears and fingertips…It’s easier to have a cheerful heart when the whole world feels like it’s slowing down.

I admit.  Joy is harder since being a mom.  I used to be more steady, cheerful, joyful, in a superficial sense…back when life was a lot easier.  When I was sleeping all night, every night.  When I didn’t have to serve little people who may or may not say “please” and “thank you.”  When every day was predictably easy.

Babies have a way of changing that. Suddenly you are stripped bare and forced to think again about what is joy.  Sometimes force joy even when you feel irritated, exhausted and completely unraveled.

I have noticed that joy has been a little more natural these days…a little less forced.  Not because my days are easier but because I feel like I can survive better.  Like I can wake up in the morning and make it through the day.  Maybe it’s having a baby who is no longer a newborn?  Who knows…I don’t know if there are really answers to these questions.  But I do think the answer runs deeper than circumstances.  Sometimes even in the energy of summer sun and heat, life can feel dull, grey and cold.

But as I am experiencing now…the thermometer is dropping daily, the days are shorter, longer, darker but I am feeling alive.  I am feeling well.  I am feeling joy. I am satisfied in what can sometimes feel like monotonous motherhood.  As I mature, as I grow…as I become more serious about who I am in Christ I feel like I am learning what true joy looks like.  It’s not always a smile on the face, peppy words, even laughter.  Sometimes it is masked behind tired eyes and tired body…but it’s there.  It’s much deeper and much stronger than it used to be.  It is much less me centered and much more Christ centered.

As I have learned…I will hit a valley again. That’s the way I work.  I am a human.  I am so frail…I am so easily burned out and spent by this life.

 

So I am going to enjoy the here, the now.  Because there are seasons.

I am so thankful that God lifts us out of valleys.  That he revives our weary souls.  He knows we are weak, we are tired and he cares.  He is good. He is the giver, the source of joy.

“There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a  time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil-that is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. “

Ecclesiastes 3

Master Bed & Bath One Year Later plus a Soup Recipe

November 12th, 2012 by admin

I have promised a little update on our addition for over a year but I will have to confess…it was not presentable for months.  With a new baby I simply did not have the time to put any love and care into our new room.  I also had to find curtains, lamps and all sorts of other stuff and I’m still searching for the perfect night stands.  So I still would not call the bedroom complete.

Our bathroom is beautiful but I do not have the lens to capture a small space. I tried my hardest to take some pictures…standing in the shower and balancing on a chair with no luck…I need a lens that zooms out.

Our vanity was a craigslist buy.  Not what we originally wanted but when we saw this we knew we could not pass it up.  The price was great and the piece was beautiful.

Our shower/toilet area is so pretty but there is no way of capturing it.  We have grey subway tile in the shower, wainscoting all around and a window that lets in tons of sunlight.

Unfortunately the best view I could get is of our toilet… Not what you had in mind, I am sure.

Our master bedroom still needs work but I’m starting to finally feel like it’s coming together.  I am happy to wait for those perfect nightstands that I know exist somewhere!

The blue runner was a recent $10 Target purchase.  Perfect until we can afford a bigger area rug.

I have started a wall collage on one wall…still plenty of room for more pictures.

The best thing about our new room is all the sunlight.  Sunlight was my one big request…I love natural light and I certainly have tons of it now.

I really am so pleased and thankful for our new room.

It’s been such a blessing to have our own space.

The newness still hasn’t worn off!

I also wanted to share a soup recipe.  Both Justin and I loved it…perfect for a cozy fall day!

Easy Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash peeled and seeded

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 med onion chopped

2 carrots peeled chopped

6 C chicken stock

nutmeg (To taste)

salt and pepper

In a large pot melt butter.  Add chopped onion and cook until translucent.  Chop squash into 1 inch cubes. Chop carrots.  When onion is cooked, add squash, carrots and chicken stock. Simmer until squash is tender (about 15 minutes). Puree in blender.  Stir and season with nutmeg and salt.

The World Today and a Few Questions about Me

November 7th, 2012 by admin

I feel sad today.  Sad about the election results…but I’ll be honest.  Had Romney won I would be sad too.  This was my year of “throwing away” my vote. But is it throwing away your vote when you are voting based on conviction?  I don’t think so.  I could not have voted for either candidate and been ok with voting for a lesser of two evils…to me they are both not the men I would choose to have in office.  But God is in control.  I read Psalm 37 this morning and I cried.  I cried because I was reminded that our God is in control.  He is in control of everything, both big and small.  He has allowed this country to become the way it is.  He loves his people and no matter what we might face in this world, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.” -Psalm 37: 39-40.

Monday I was driving back from Elinor’s 1 year appointment and was listening to Moody radio.  Chris Fabry was speaking to the man who is over Voice of the Martyrs.  He was telling different stories of different believers throughout the world.  He spoke of how Christianity is spreading rapidly throughout the middle east, India and Africa.  How these people are persecuted, they are tortured, killed, imprisoned for their faith but the gospel continues to spread.  Like a wild fire it cannot be stopped.  He told a story of a woman in Iran.  She prayed and prayed to Allah that he would reveal himself to her.  She said she would not sleep until he showed himself to be true…when she finally did fall asleep Jesus came to her in a dream and said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” The next day she went to work and a Christian spoke to her about Jesus (whom she knew nothing about) and shared with her this exact verse.  She became a believer.  My hair was standing on end the whole time I listened to him speak.  The precious and beautiful reality of our God…As this country becomes more hardened, more anti-God it is so good to know that He is at work throughout this world.  That we have many brothers and sisters in Christ.  We may be separated by vast waters, by language, we may look different but we all serve the same God and we will all spend eternity praising and serving Him in heaven.  We serve a good, good God and his message cannot be stopped.  Like Martin Luther’s song A mighty Fortress, “The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still.”

All this being said I would ask your prayers for my brother Tim at www.challies.com.  He is travelling to India today and staying there for a week.  He will be teaching there and has the amazing opportunity to meet these brothers and sisters in Christ that are so far away.  Pray for his safety and protection.

Finally I thought I would do something a little lighthearted.  My mom nominated me a while ago for a Liebster award.  I thought today would be a perfect day to answer her questions…

1. What is your cultural background?

I was born in Toronto, Canada and lived in Ontario until I was 14.  Then we made the big move to Atlanta, Georgia in the late summer of 1999.  Even though I have lived here almost the same amount of time I lived in Canada I would say my canuckness cannot be taken from me.  My parents after all, are Canadians and they raised me…so in a sense I am a strange mixture of culture.  A mutt, for lack of a better word.

2. What are words that would describe your family of origin?

Pale and freckly.  Anglo-Irish…little bit of french (thus the name Challies). I think there is also some dutch mixed in too. Unfortunately I do not know nearly as much as I should about my family or origin.  My mom and brother Andrew know anything and everything about our relatives.  I do know that there were many talented oil painters on my dad’s side of the family…thus a beautiful collection of art that we all have.  My grandfather was the Chief Justice of Quebec.  My great Uncle George founded Upper Canada Village (you Canadians know what I’m talking about).  My mom did not grow up in a believing family but her dad’s dad was a minister and the heritage of his faith has been carried on in my mom and my aunt.  A little blurb from my mom’s blog about her grandfather.

“He sits in the corner and smiles at us, but cannot converse. He seems to appreciate us, but then – he IS deaf. Still, he leads us in family prayers each Saturday morning. That is what I know of him. He prays for me by name, individually, every Saturday, even though he doesn’t hear his own words.  I am much closer to my other grandfather. I know him. He actively loves me. But Grandfather’s prayers won.”

3. In a few words, what is your first memory?

I have two first memories…both to do with kindergarten.  I am going to my first day of school.  I am frightened.  My mom meets another woman with a little girl my age.  The girls name is Nicole.  They sit us down with a book about Snow White.  We sit together, we point to different pictures…we laugh.  That girl became my very best friend…she is like my sister.  A dear sister.  We are worlds apart with distance, with religion, with lifestyle but I love her always and forever.

My other “first” memory.  I am walking to kindergarten tightly holding my dad’s hands.  I have a little blue rain coat on.  I am stepping over puddles and worms.  I love the feeling of being just me and my daddy…He laughs at the way I pronounce my words with a little lisp.  He can laugh and it doesn’t bother me.  I am very sure he loves me and my little lisp.

4. What did you enjoy most about school?

Oh goodness.  Not a good question for me.  I was never a very motivated of dedicated student…something I regret.  I did apply myself to History, English and French because I loved all three.  History was probably my absolute favorite subject.  I was the girl who watched every movie ever shown in class, while all my classmates had a little siesta…In college I loved my Old Testament class taught by Dr. Krabbendam.  He will forever be my personal hero of faith…an amazing man who has touched many, many students.  Somehow he even made Leviticus and all its rules/laws interesting and beautiful to learn about!

5. Where did you meet your spouse?

I happened to have just joined a website I had forever  looked down upon.  Myspace.com.  My husband-to-be happened to have a little alert that showed him brown-eyed, brown-haired, semi-tall girls in the area.  Apparently I fit his physical criteria and so he contacted me…I actually went on a blind date (with escape plan already planned) with him and it was love at first sight.  He had a fancy sports car that made me shudder (I was afraid he’s be one of those guys).  A few months later he sold that car to afford my engagement ring.  We were married in less than a year.  my prayer  then and my prayer now, is that God will give us many years together on this earth to love Him, to love each other and to raise our children to believe in the one true God.

6. How would you spend Saturday if you had no responsibilities?

No responsibilities would mean no children…and that would be sad  BUT let’s say they were at their grandparents for the day…. I would wake up around 8 because that is sleeping in for me.  I would read my bible without interruption, I would journal for as long as I wanted.  I would drink ridiculous amounts of hot coffee.  I would read blogs for as long as I felt like and then I would go for a long, long run.  I would not have to make any meals, clean any part of the house, or do any laundry.  Maybe I would even go shopping for endless hours, have money to actually buy stuff.  I would eat a delicious dinner out.  I would spend the evening watching The Middle with Justin…pretty much, I would be selfish. (sorry if you were hoping for a super-spiritual answer) :)

7. What historical character would you most like to meet?

If I am thinking historical biblical.  Abraham for sure.  The man of faith I admire most in the bible.  It would be such an honor to meet the father of both the physical Israel and spiritual Israel.  If I am thinking just historical…the Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov. I would also like to solve the mystery once and for all.  Did she or didn’t she survive her execution?

8. What historical character would you most like to delete?

King Leopold of Belgium.  He exploited the Congo and was behind mass genocide and mutilation of its people.  All for the sake of ivory and rubber. A horror story…worse than Hitler and yet, unknown.

9. What fictional character would you most like to meet?

Any of the sisters in Little Women.  I will forever love that book.

10. If you could choose to live in any country for a year, which would it be?

Hmmm…I think I would live in England.  I would love to tour the countryside, see the ancient castles and explore all the history…always comes back to history with me!

11. If you could choose any century to live in for a year, which would it be?

There isn’t a century I would choose to live in.  People are people.  They are always wicked and they are always actively destroying God’s truth. But if I had to choose I would love to live during the time of the First Great Awakening.  An exciting time where the truths of the Bible were not only bringing people to Christ but also changing the way people thought politically, etc.  And maybe, just maybe I would be able to hear Jonathan Edwards preach.

A Happy Birthday for Our Happy Girl

November 6th, 2012 by admin

I am feeling very sentimental as I write this post. I had another person tell me today, “Enjoy it while it lasts!  They grow up so fast.”  She was quite old…told me her “baby” was 63.  Guess your baby is always your baby…even if they are grandparents themselves!  Amazing how parenthood-how motherhood, runs so deep in our veins.   I love my babies.  I love them dearly.  With each passing birthday I realize they really are growing so fast.  Because we all know, we all ask, But didn’t I just have you?  Wasn’t it just yesterday I welcomed you into this world? Didn’t I just have your tiny warm body nestled close to mine?

That’s how I am currently feeling about our Elinor.  Our big 1 year old baby.  A baby who has completely stolen our hearts.  It was perfect that her birthday fell on a Saturday.  We were able to throw her a big and happy 1st birthday party.

We gave her a couple outfits and a $6 toy.  Poor kid has no toys of her own and played with her little drum all morning long.

I was going to do a pretty simple party but then I kept finding beautiful and inexpensive paper goods at TJ Maxx.  Which meant I ended up doing a lot more baking then I had planned on.

Mini pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread, pound cake, kettle corn, grapes and chocolate cake were the menu.

A fall themed birthday for our November baby.

On Sunday I decided to take some pictures to capture our little Nor-Nor.

After all, you only turn one, once!

So proud to be taking her first steps.

Our little girl is growing up fast, just like her big sister.

We thank God for you, our little Elinor.  Our second born.  May “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you; And be gracious to you; The Lord life up his countenance upon you, and give you Peace.” (Num 6:24-26)  Forever. Amen. We love you.

 

 

Halloween

November 2nd, 2012 by admin

Tomorrow Elinor turns 1.  Which made me think about my blog because of course I want to blog about her turning one and about her 1st birthday.  Then I realized how neglectful I have been of this blog.  Little blog and my blog readers…I think about you a lot but I just cannot seem to find the time to do it all.  So of course the thing I let go is my blog because at the end of the day…I know it’s always here and I can pick it back up at any time.

Many things have happened since the last time I posted but the most recent event is of course, Halloween.  Halloween is something Cora has started to really look forward to. She remembered it from last year and was asking every day, “Are we going to trick-or-treat?”  Of course Cora wanted to be a ballerina.  Three years of tutus and tights.

I happened to find a matching tutu for Elinor.

Cora was eager for Justin to get home so we could leave for Nan and Pa’s house and go trick-or-treating with her cousins.

And so we had a night of costumes, fun and a horrifying amount of candy…that led to a sleepless night for our three year old.

The rest of today I am going to be prepping for Elinor’s 1st birthday.  I cannot believe she is already one.  My memories of her being born still feel so new…how can she already be such a big girl?  The world is moving too fast for me…