Tag Archives: My Big Jesus

Currently

It’s that time again… the beginning of yet another month. How is it possible that March is here already? I can’t believe how unseasonably warm it’s been here in NC, and the fact that my allergies are already acting up. But at least I’ve been wearing my Chacos and enjoying some much-needed sunshine! (Well, except for right this second, as it’s beginning to cloud over and look like that rain they’ve forecasted for the evening.)

Anyway, it’s another Currently link-up with Anne in Residence, and this month we’re joined by Carrie at A Stylish Fit as our co-host! Thanks, ladies! Here’s what I’m currently up to…

Watching || This Is Us. I was late to the party, and am still not caught up to the most recent episode, but I’m REALLY enjoying it. It’s fun to see Mandy Moore back around, and I’m loving the dynamics of the triplets as “grown ups”. I still won’t say this is the best show I’ve ever seen, but I truly do enjoy it.


Eating || VERY healthy. As I mentioned last week, I’m doing a fitness challenge and training for a half marathon. This means food as fuel as not as an indulgence, so I’m overhauling my diet to accommodate. For instance, our group is doing “meatless Monday” and so I didn’t have meat at all on Monday! Good thing Hubby is also on board. 

Saying || prayers over my half-marathon training, and my knee. Last night I did something stupid, and got my knee bashed from the side. Naturally, I immediately freaked out thinking I’d torn my meniscus or something crazy, iced it, and took ibuprofen and rested for the rest of the night. This morning, I woke up feeling MUCH better, with a bruise in the place of impact, but there is some residual tightness and soreness I’m trying to rest and ice and anti-inflame again today.

Wearing || work-out attire pretty much all day, every day. I’ve never really been one who likes to do this, but it does help me get the workouts in, motivation-wise. AND there’s no point in showering early, drying my hair, putting on mascara, and dressing nicely when I know I’m going on a run in two hours. It’s going to be easier for me to try to knock out the workouts as early in the day as possible so that I can feel like I “got ready” afterwards. I feel a little more like myself when I’m not dressed like a bum all day.

Posting || a little more very soon, hopefully. My Big Jesus (the site I had been writing for weekly) is relaunching as Everyday Exiles soon, and then I’ll be back to writing a lot more and posting about it. I’ve also been featured on Perfection Pending, and will have another post up on her site this week!

Well, what’s going on with you currently? Leave a comment, or link up with us and share!

My Kids’ 5 Favorite Tree Ornaments

I don’t know about your Christmas decorations, but there has been a lot of time, effort and money that’s been put into my Christmas tree. It’s an artificial tree that’s six years old. I’ve replaced the lights, compiled ornaments from every Christmas of my life (literally – we’ll get to that in a minute) and started getting some sweet things that represent my whole family.

This year, my kids have been carrying certain ornaments around the house and I keep having to ask them to be really careful. So I thought it might be amusing to share with you what their five favorite ornaments are… especially since none of them are handmade with pride or featuring their faces, like you might expect. 

1. The obnoxious singing cow. I’ll spare you details (aka the video of it happening) and just give you the cliff notes: it “moos” its way through “Jingle Bells” with questionable pitch.

2. My “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament. It winds up and plays a song that I can get stuck in my head for days. I don’t even know what song it is. The kids have fought over it so much that it’s currently sitting on the mantle.

3. The cement truck. It’s J’s favorite because it actually rolls, but every time he plays with it, he reminds me that the cement mixer doesn’t really turn.

4. This North Pole-Christmas Eve-alert ornament. Supposedly it changes color when it’s Santa begins delivering presents (spoiler alert: I’m the one that has to switch it to change the colors). It also plays a song, and it happens to be really loud. Like REALLY LOUD. So I put it where they can’t get to it. 

5. Anything with Ariel on it. I’ve spent my whole life getting Ariel ornaments from my mom. She’s my favorite princess and it’s kind of our thing. Now, EK really loves Ariel too, and so we’ve started getting them for her as well. So our tree is covered in Ariels of all sorts, and so they’re the favorites of my daughter. So naturally, two are currently broken and several were broken in years past and are glued back together. Poor Ariel. 

 There you have it. All the favorite ornaments of my three kids under five. Do your little ones have a favorite ornament?

The Case for Starting Christmas Celebrations Early. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

As a musician, I’ve been early to the Christmas spirit every single year of my life. I’m usually practicing in October for this Christmas concert or that caroling event, because inevitably someone wants perfectly polished holiday music at their event, which happens to be the first Tuesday in December. Or whatever the case may be.

But for some reason, this year, I hadn’t really been feeling it – which is especially odd, given that Advent starts ridiculously early (as Thanksgiving is ridiculously late) and I should’ve been anticipating its arrival. The weather has been unseasonably warm, I’ve been focused on other things, and Christmas, well, is sneaking up on me.

However, I’ve made a decision. I will no longer feel bad for starting to decorate early. I won’t feel bad when I tune my radio to the station that plays Christmas music on November 1st. I won’t get snarky about Starbucks’ holiday cups, no matter what they look like. I won’t post on Facebook about how it’s annoying that the local shopping centers have wreaths hung up the day after Halloween. I won’t feel bad about asking my husband to get our tree and garlands from the attic before we’ve hosted our Thanksgiving meal.

You know why?

Because we all need some cheer. There’s not a single person in this world who doesn’t benefit from a little cheering up, a little extra love sent their way, or a sparkly card in the mail. There isn’t a single person who doesn’t need to hear good news, a joyful message, or to be reminded that there is at least one thing we can latch on to that will forever be positive: Jesus loves us.

He loves us so much that he came to save us, even while we were still sinners (Romans 5:6). He IS the Good News, the reason we turn our thoughts during Advent to his humble arrival, and get up on Christmas morning with unspeakable joy in our hearts. And those things are worth celebrating even longer than 25 days a year, longer than the month that’s between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I will celebrate his blessed coming, his incredible life, his terrible death, and his glorious rising on the third day. I will celebrate these things every single day, and live my life with the light that comes from knowing him personally. I won’t feel a bit guilty if I need to hear a little Christmas music in June just because I feel like it. He is worth celebrating no matter what time of year it is.

Things I Forgot About Labor Till I Saw It From the Sidelines

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

A couple of weeks ago, I was given the privilege of being in the hospital with my best friend and her husband as she labored and they prepared to meet their little girl. I don’t know how helpful I was – mostly cracking jokes to relieve tension and trying to find something good on TV – but I truly enjoyed being there, and experiencing labor from the sidelines. It’s a little different when you’re not the one in pain. There are a few things I totally forgot about, even having done it three times. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten about these things…

The shakes and the itching. Epidurals, and just plain ol’ high pain levels can cause crazy side effects. Thanks universe, the pain wasn’t bad enough without itchy feet and shaky hands.

The waiting. As if you haven’t had enough waiting for things during your entire pregnancy, it just multiples in the labor and delivery ward. It is so BORING when you’re waiting to dilate, waiting for the next time you’re getting checked, waiting for the medicine to kick in, waiting for the next contraction, waiting to finally start pushing… The waiting seems to never end.

The endless flow of Coca-Cola. After trying for nine months to cut out most of your caffeine, stay hydrated, and be as healthy as possible, the labor nurses come in with Coke after Coke after Coke… and the most perfect little pellets of ice… it’s glorious.

The crappy TV. If you’ve labored late during or through the night, you know that the only thing on TV to distract you is pure crap. Nothing but low-budget infomercials and strange, B-list celebrity reality shows happen between midnight and the 5 o’clock news.

The mindless banter. Nurses come in to check on you, and you answer questions, maybe crack a joke. Whoever is in the room with you – spouse, friend, etc – mentions random things from their Facebook newsfeeds or funny stories that pop into their heads. Your doctor comes in to see how you’re doing, and you make small talk about the same thing every time they come in. It’s purely to be polite, when you’d really just like to be left alone.

When your bladder is empty, your contractions don’t seem as bad. I still don’t fully know the science behind it, but contractions are SO much worse when your bladder is full. So after your third Coke, just go ahead and have them empty your bladder for you. It’ll help – really.

The inability to be still. You get to a certain point in your labor when the epidural isn’t doing much, and your body wants to push, but they say you aren’t ready yet. This leads to wanting to hop off the bed and do jumping jacks until the baby comes out. That’s a little unrealistic, of course, so you resort to squirming on the bed, nervous for the next contraction, but also wanting them to come more quickly and get the process over with.

Labor is a beautiful process, because at the end, you’ve added a bundle of joy to your family. But whether they’re things etched in your memory forever, or things that get glossed over in your mind the older your baby gets, the labor process is full of all those little moments – some sweet, some funny, and some just plain miserable – that make up your entire experience.

Halloween Fail

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

My family is a Disney-loving crew. Hubby and I grew up watching the movies, visiting Disney world, collecting paraphernalia and loving every minute, so why shouldn’t we do that with our kids?

That being said, we recognized this year as the perfect year for a group costume. We could still dictate what the kids would dress up as, and pull off a silly, matching family costume. Because we’re a group of five, we decided on the Incredibles.

True story: Hubby and I were Mr. and Mrs. Incredible before we had kids (see below) because we happen to have pretty good body types for it – aka Hubby is a big, strong dude, and I have short hair and hips. (Disclaimer: our attempt to make Hubby’s hair blond simply turned it green. Oops.)

So naturally, with that being our best costume together ever, we decided to bring it back with our three kids. I started looking for the costumes (less iron-on this time) and rounding up everyone’s parts. I got really excited, and let the kids run around in their outfits several times. This week, Hubby and I finally tried on ours!

Oh crap.

We aren’t huge people. Okay, well, fine. Hubby is a heavyweight wrestler, but I ordered him the largest size so it should’ve been fine. But I’m not a huge person! And I ordered my costume based on their sizing chart! I should’ve known that superhero outfits would be… well… tight. And that a $30 costume wouldn’t be… uh… totally well-made. So naturally, Hubby and I are melted and poured into our costumes. Because I ordered them according to size charts. UGH I don’t want to go to my church’s Trunk or Treat in a costume fit for a Sig Ep party. So I get on figuring out how to be a little more comfortable and less… risqué.

It just so happens that I have a friend who had the same idea I did – family of 5 Disney lovers, young kids – obviously they’re also the Incredibles. I shot her a text – “What do I do?!” She said, “Oh, you’re also Elastigirl: Brazilian Edition?” Yikes. Looks like we are both in a pinch – literally. We each brainstormed ideas of what to put on top to just cover up – black bathing suit bottoms? Probably not that helpful. A tutu? Black granny panties? Finally I decided on a black skirt I have that would cover more than a tutu would, and be more comfortable to boot. Hubby decided to wear a pair of black shorts over his, and a red shirt underneath. Preventing a wardrobe malfunction was a little more difficult than I had anticipated.

So now, after much deliberation on what to wear, how to wear it, and all the excitement building for the last few weeks, two out of our three kids are sick. The other probably will have it soon, so she’s also in quarantine. No trunk or treat. No visiting neighbors. No collecting candy from every house on the block. No wearing our costumes, unless it’s while we sit in our house with the lights off. This Halloween still ended up being a huge fail.

This is us, on our back porch, before I put a note on the door and turned the lights out.

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November. Many of the posts will be writing exercises, sometimes straying from my usual style. 

How to Achieve the Perfect Family Photo

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

As you start thinking ahead to the holidays, you might be pondering ways to get the perfect family photograph. Whether you want to frame it as a gift for Grandma, or plaster it on a card to send to 500 of your closest friends, getting a perfect photo of your entire family is likely on your to-do list. If you’re like me, and you have young children, I have a few easy tips to make the process easier, and ensure a valuable, timeless product at the end of your session. You don’t want your Christmas card to look like mine did last year (see #2 – actually included on last year’s Christmas card). Here are my suggestions as you plan your endeavor to get the “perfect family photo”:

1. Hire a photographer. Like your mom, brother, or an unsuspecting stranger with an iPhone. This will ensure that the person taking the picture has the skills and equipment necessary to catch the perfect moment of a genuine group smile. (Or if you’re on a budget, invest in a selfie stick.)IMG_2199.jpg

2. Dress your brood well. First, make sure you give your kids coordinating names that will result in the same monogram for each child. Then, choose a neutral color for everyone to wear, and make sure each shirt is monogrammed in a coordinating “pop” color. It’s also important to wear hair bows, shoes, jewelry, belts, and scarves that match the monogram’s accent color. Finally, make sure you don’t eat in the outfit in which you plan to photograph. You wouldn’t want that marinara stain to ruin your Christmas card!img_0033

3. Strike a pose. Make sure each subject in the photo is being still, and smiling with just the right amount of teeth showing. Hands folded in laps and slight head tilts are recommended. Never allow movement while the pictures are being taken.DSC_0232.jpg

4. Keep your eyes open. To be certain that none of your photos include a blinking subject, make sure your family knows that blinking is not allowed. Pass the eyedrops around before you get started, so that there will be no need to blink to prevent dryness of the eye. (Note: this also prevents the eyes half-closed look, as though the subject is about to sneeze.)DSC_0269.jpg

5. Work the natural light. Morning and evening are the best times to take photos outside. Skip breakfast or dinner to ensure that the lighting is perfect. Tell those cranky, hungry children if they’d just smile, you could all go eat… and maybe have some of your own natural light.DSC_0186.jpg

6. Choose a few props. Pumpkins are always a nice choice for the fall, and beaches, snow, mountains, or lakes could be nice choices for other times of year, too! Be sure to bring things like these with you for the session.DSC_0026.jpg

7. Let your family be themselves. As long as it’s their happy, cute, lovey-dovey selves.DSC_0548.jpg

I hope that these simple tips help you get the perfect framer of your family!

Being Wild and Free in Jesus

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

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Y’all, I’m reading this amazing book right now. It’s called Wild and Free, and as you can imagine, it’s about finding your wildness and your freedom in Jesus. I was pretty sure I was going to know what the authors would say. I’ve read books like this before. I would know which scriptures they’d reference, and know where they were going before they got there. I’ve read and heard a lot about how Jesus set us all free. BUT Y’ALL. The Holy Spirit was ready to wreck me with this one.

When you’ve grown up in church, and you’ve been under similar teachings most of your life, I’d imagine that sometimes you feel like what you hear is a little watered down. You’ve heard 150 references to rams in thickets, and you know that freedom is in Jesus just as well as you know your last name. Even the most awesome miracles might seem to lose their luster once you’ve heard the story for the 101st time.

But as much as I felt like I already knew what was coming, I’ve been taken aback on every page, being beckoned into wildness in Jesus. I’ve reveled in the descriptions of how wild the first believers were, how free Adam and Eve were created to be before the fall, and how every single one of us is called back to a total belonging to the Lord, that can result in true freedom to be yourself and be wild in the complete love of Christ. The body of Christ doesn’t have to be a somber group of people, faces downcast, working hard for their salvation. And it shouldn’t be! The body of Christ should be individuals who are freely themselves, being together in community, encouraging one another, filling gaps, shaping and molding each other, just as iron sharpens iron, to share the Gospel and prepare the Kingdom of God! There is joyful news to be told, love to be shared, and lives to be healed! We sang this yesterday at my church: “You are stronger, You are stronger. Sin is broken. You have saved me. It is written: Christ is risen! Jesus, you are Lord of all!” There is no better truth to proclaim. The chains have indeed been broken – you are already free! Jesus has done the great work, and God is ready to do a great work in you, too.

 

If you’d like to get your hands on the book Wild and Free, here’s a link to get it on Amazon.