For the love of tea….

In my pursuit of minimalism I have been going through every cupboard and every drawer. In the kitchen, I have been quite successful in minimizing my tupperware, my glass jars, my cooking utensils, etc.

But one area has proven quite difficult to minimize. That is my tea stash.


I confess. I’m a tea-aholic. I only got rid of two boxes. One of earl gray (because I think it tastes soapy), and another of plain Lipton. I kept everything else.


But the good news is, it’s organized! And I even created a little “hot drink bar” in the kitchen that Steve came and told me he loved, so I consider it a success!


Sometimes you just have to keep the things you love, even if you have them in excess. ūüėČ


Quest for Minimalism

Last month I had an article on Fruitful Fellowship about minimalism. I have been slowly working towards decluttering and organizing my whole house. This week I finally tackled my clothes (since I am about 20lbs/9kgs into my postpartum weight loss journey and things are starting to fit again). It was daunting, but now that it’s done it feels amazing! Right now, every single item of clothing in my closet fits me and fits my lifestyle. I took pictures to document, and thought I would share them to encourage you that it IS possible!

First I decided what kind of clothes I wanted, what my goal was. I wanted to be able to get dressed every day. So I thought about what clothes I needed to make that happen, and what I usually got dressed for. I realized that I wanted to be dressed to homeschool the kids, run errands, and be ready if unexpected visitors came to the door. But I also needed my clothes to be practical enough to sit on the floor, and have the ability to nurse the baby easily (since I’ll be doing that for the foreseeable future, lol). The other times I got dressed were for church, which was similar to every day but a little more finished. And then date nights, which are very rare but I still want to have special clothes for those times.

Above all, I wanted clothes that I loved wearing, and that reflected my style!

So, onward I went! After I figured all that out in my head (and wrote it down, since that’s how I think), I took¬†all the clothes out of my closet.


Then I started separating. I just went through the pile and chose a category, and put them in it. It didn’t require science or anything, I just did one piece at a time. Here are my categories:

  • Keep (things I love that are comfy and fit my life and style)
  • Edit (things that need mending or stains treated)
  • Maybe (things that I’m not sure I like but I’m reluctant to give them away)
  • Giveaway (people often have a consignment category but I don’t have that option)

The clothes that I didn’t include in this were my workout clothes and my jammies. I went through them and made sure I could use them all, but they were in a different category than every day.


Date Night clothes ūüėŹ

Honestly it was kind of fun! It felt so freeing! I tried to pick basic pieces that I could build off of, but I wasn’t picky about a certain number of hangers or certain colors or anything. I just picked the things I loved and put them on hangers and put them in my closet.

Things I really liked but had something off, I put in the maybe pile. That included things like shirts that I loved the fabric but not the way it fit, dresses that I weren’t sure looked good on me or didn’t really have the occasion to wear.



Then I had things that I just wasn’t that attached to, or didn’t match a lot of things I had in my closet. Or things that Steve really doesn’t like on me. And I just gave them away and didn’t feel bad for one minute. In fact, I feel so very free!


Gone for good! 

Obviously the things I still really liked but had something wrong I thought I could fix (with all my spare time, haha) I put in another pile. A few tunics I want to add lace to the bottom so I can wear them as dresses, one that has a seam that needs mending, and a white shirt I love but has some stains I’m going to try and get out.


to Edit

I had an amazing helper, he cheered me on the whole time.


Owen the Helper

And at the end, I have this wonderful closet that I can go to every morning and each item is easy and fun to wear. Each item feels like “me”. Each item is easy to nurse in and comfortable enough to go about my daily life with the kids. And it’s amazing.


Minimalist Closet, done! 

Who knew that a pile of empty hangers could be so awesome?!?!


13 things that make the 5th kid the best (so far)

  1. Newborn smiles only last for a few months (a split second when you have 5 kids) so you treasure them MUCH more.
  2. The baby will sleep. Eventually. In 4 years. But you know it will happen!
  3. A little baby poop never hurt anyone.
  4. Baby pee is sterile and is not worth disturbing a sleeping baby.
  5. Sometimes babies wake up and cry at the most inopportune moments. Go ahead and finish brushing your teeth (or whatever you were doing), he’ll be okay for 30 seconds.
  6. Swaddling is an art form, and it is worth achieving perfection in that art. P.S. Miracle Blankets are worth every penny.
  7. Baby complaining noises are kind of super adorable. You know what I’m talking about.
  8. You finally have Olders to help with the Youngers. My 7 year old makes a mean PB&J.
  9. There is nothing like the love the older kids have for the new baby.
  10. The toddler will scream and wake the baby, but you have come to an exhausted peace with it. At this point please refer to number 2.
  11. Kids survive on a steady diet of Netflix, as long as they sleep at some point too. It’s just a season. A season of Daniel Tiger, that is. ūüėŹ
  12. At this point your life is crazy enough that you actually consider having more, because at this point it’s only getting easier (see point 8).
  13. A sleeping baby literally is the sweetest thing in the world.

Why did I want kids again?

I love my kids. I absolutely adore and love my kids. I love each and every one of their different personalities. I love hearing their little voices. I love the way they look like the man that I love. I love seeing them grow and learn. I love watching them learn to read. I love seeing them play and love on each other. I love it when they give me spontaneous hugs. I love explaining something to them and seeing their eyes light up with understanding. I love watching them play with intense concentration. I love the baby rolls, and the squeals and giggles, those gorgeous baby smiles. I love the way their hair sticks up in the morning and their eyes look all sleepy for .38 seconds.


But if I’m being honest, there are a lot of things I don’t love. I don’t love the demanding voices that need a million things first thing in the morning. I don’t love the angry words they yell at each other. I don’t love the fact that I always feel like I’m not doing enough as a mom. Or that I’m doing it wrong. I don’t love the epic fight that happens 90% of the time I tell my three year old to do something. I don’t love bedtime. And I feel guilty about that. I don’t love how the house falls apart in 2 seconds. I understand that kids are messy, I just don’t understand how it happens so fast. I don’t love being sleep deprived. I don’t love how grouchy I am at the kids for no reason when I’m sleep deprived. Or hormonal because I’m on my period/pregnant/just had a baby/breastfeeding a teething baby.

Life is wonderful, but there are moments that I don’t love. And sometimes those moments seem to stretch and last so long, that amidst the chaos I lose sight of the moments I DO love.

I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I love babies, I love pregnancy, I love homeschooling. I have always felt that I was born for this! But after baby #4, for the first time in my life, I felt done. It was so…odd! I had never, ever, felt¬†this way, and it almost felt wrong it was so different! But it wasn’t wrong, it was just a new season, and my husband and I were actively avoiding any more babies, at least for a while.


But God had other plans. When we found out about baby #5, I cried. I was so grateful for this new life, and knew without any doubt that this baby was God’s gift to us. But I still cried. As much as I love babies, I already had one and was afraid of getting even less sleep than I was getting now. How would I function and take care of all my kids? As much as I loved being pregnant, how would I physically take care of my children and my 1 year old with a big belly, let alone deal with all the aches and pains that come with pregnancy? And as much as I love homeschooling, I was finding that challenging enough. How could I possibly be faithful with my children’s education when I was barely getting back into it at 1 year postpartum??

What can I say? These are legitimate concerns and questions. But there is no other answer but that God is faithful. He will give me everything I need. My verse for this month on my GraceLaced calendar is “His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” And that about sums it up. When you serve a great God, that is enough. He is enough.


But back to my original question. Why did I want kids in the first place?¬†It truly is amazing how children are made. A man and a woman love each other, and then they¬†have kids. It’s like the automatic¬†sequel to love. And yet I see so many jokes about how the romance in a relationship goes out the window once you have kids. And it’s true, you’re exhausted. So just sitting together on the couch for 10 minutes before you pass out is romance enough. But it makes me think about love. True love. What does that look like?

Because romantic love, that isn’t a very real love. It can be a small part of real love. But real love, God love, is sacrificial. It does not seek it’s own. It is not easily provoked. It bears all things. Hopes all things. Endures all things. Real love doesn’t get angry when the 3 year old poops on the floor, again. Real love doesn’t get overly irritated with the husband for being insensitive, knowing that you’re both exhausted and you both love each other so let’s just forget about it. Real love doesn’t get angry when the kids have a screaming match over the superman toy and wake up the baby. Real love gets up at night without complaining because it puts others above itself. Real love sits and listens when the oldest one is hurt by mean words from a friend, even though there are a million other things to do while the baby naps. Real love doesn’t get overwhelmed at the mess because the mess is just stuff, and people are way more important than things. Real love doesn’t get irritated at the kids for being so needy and interrupting everything every 2 minutes.

So when I look at my kids, and I look at my heart, I see that honestly, I don’t love my kids very well. I love myself. I love my sleep. I love my orderly home. I love what other people think of me. I love my “uninterrupted thoughts” time. I love being a mom but I just want it to be at about 65% of what it is now.¬†I love my idea of what mommyhood looks like, not the messy chaos of reality.

But there is a beautiful reality that changes the way we do mommyhood. The truth is that Jesus came and loved me when I was horribly unlovable. I was in full rebellion towards God. And while he was on earth he gave of himself again and again. He was sleep deprived. People demanded things of him from early until late. He dealt with the chaos and sin of this world, and then he was slaughtered unjustly for MY sin. He bore everything for me, so that I could be clean. He died and rose again so that I could be holy. He showed me real love. He gave up his throne and became a servant. What a sacrifice!

And in him, I am a new creature, and I am not only capable of showing that same real love by his Spirit, but I am constrained to do so! I am compelled to love because when I see the great love that has been shown me, how can I not? I fight my flesh, and I fight it moment by moment throughout the day. But I am striving towards being truly loving, because my Savior truly loved me.

So originally, I think I wanted kids for a selfish reason. Like “aw, dats sho cute!” But God in his loving wisdom knew that they would be the BEST thing for me, to drive me to my knees and cause in me a death to self, and grow in me a self sacrificial love, so that I could be more and more like my Savior. Because truly loving your kids means you give of yourself more than you ever thought possible.

When a man and woman love each other, they have kids. And it makes an even more beautiful love. A giving of yourself love. A God-like love. True love.


When you feel like a failure….

This has been a hard week with our 3 year old. I know it’s a difficult age in general, but this little guy has always been a particular struggle for us, and some weeks are especially hard. When his behavior is unbelievable, and I feel like our relationship and his attitude is spinning out of control, this is what goes through my mind:

I’m a failure.

I’m so unequipped for this.

I’m ruining him by not knowing how to deal with his issues.

Here are a few things we’ve learned about George as he’s matured and grown in the last few years. He is super sensitive. This is extremely precious¬†and extremely difficult. He over reacts to everything, and has meltdowns at the smallest thing, and loudly demands our attention until it is dealt with fully. He feels everything quite deeply. He can be a bully, and seems to enjoy picking on his older brother. He is also extremely physically affectionate. He always wants to sit on my lap, stroke my cheek, give me intense kisses, and give long hugs. When he is happy, he is the sweetest of all my children! He will tell me I look pretty and give me hugs for no reason. His voice is so sweet, and he is incredibly loving. He is an amazing older brother to Isabelle, and she is pretty clear that he is her favorite.


He is also sensitive to foods and environmental things. He reacts more to upper respiratory issues, and tends to get rashes randomly. His mood is greatly affected by his diet, and we are working on eliminating things to try and figure out what triggers his behavioral things.

All that to say, when we have a hard day or week with George, it means LOTS of tantrums, lots of crying, lots of unreasonable reactions that have to be worked through and dealt with.¬†And when I look at it from my limited and human perspective, it’s daunting and exhausting.

But I’m learning something. Having a child that needs MORE from me pushes me to Christ. I can’t parent him on my own, I am¬†unable. So I need Christ more, and I know that to have any chance of success and not ruining my child, I have to run to him!

Today I did that. After yesterday brought a long week to a close, I was incredibly downcast. I was speaking those unhelpful phrases to myself again and again. I felt that I was in a vicious cycle with no way out, and the casualty was my precious son. Such a depressing and hopeless thought process.

My mom always said “what is truth?”. When we are downcast and disquieted, anxious and depressed, what is truth? And today, I feel like God has opened my eyes to some things that I had lost sight of. Truth. (thank you Paul Tripp and Elyse Fitzpatrick)

(The next few paragraphs are quotes from Paul Tripp in a video I watched that I’ve personalized a bit for myself, link here)

The truth is that I have absolutely zero ability to change my children. No matter how well I act toward my child, if they don’t transact with God, they’re not going to be okay. It’s my job to build in my children a sense of their need for God. Take them back to the deeper thoughts and motivations¬†of their heart. And so when they start to see their heart, and their need, I can share with them the beautiful story of the gospel.

The truth is that I often say (either out loud or in my heart) “I can’t believe you would act this way, how dare you act this way.” That message is: “you don’t keep the law as well as I do.” Ouch.

The truth is that they are sinners, and I am a sinner. When I get down to the heart motivations of why my kids are doing something, if I am truly honest with myself, I will see those same sins in my heart! No one gives grace better than someone who knows they need it themselves. When I see myself as a sinner saved by grace instead of an upholder of the law, it totally changes the way I parent.

Clearly in the Bible, there is authority. There is law. There are consequences for actions, whatever a man sows he will also reap. Children need correction, they need loving discipline. But it’s not enough.¬†“If a tight system of regulations and enforcement had any ability to change the content and character of a human being, Jesus wouldn’t have come.

But if all I do is very skillfully regulate and control the behavior of my child for the next 18 years, what do they have? Nothing. Parenting is about being a tool in the hands of a Redeemer to see real heart change take place.

So I think my takeaway today is this: I am a failure. I don’t have this figured out. I don’t know how to love George and train him and deal with his crying/fussing/anger. I don’t even know how I am going to get through the rest of the day with him, let alone the week, or this “phase”.

But I know that it’s not up to me. I’m running with this to Jesus. I’m praying for humility as I see my sin reflected in the actions of my children. We are all full of self, we all want what WE want more than we want God. But I have some good news for my kids, and I am praying for the strength to bring it to them more faithfully every day. I don’t have to get angry when they don’t obey me, or obey the rules! I can use those moments to talk about their heart, and point them to the cross. I have hope, I have the answer. God, give me grace to see that being a mom is not about making sure my kids obey the rules so that they turn out okay, but is really about showing my kids their need for a Savior, and pointing them¬†to the One who saves.

There is such freedom in knowing that it’s not up to me. When they disobey, I don’t have to be stressed. I don’t have to get angry. I don’t have to feel like a failure. This is my privilege, to correct and train in gentleness and humility, showing them the only hope for our life is Christ.

Just Enough to Get By

I read a devotional today pondering how precious Jesus is to us who believe.

Words cannot set forth the preciousness of the Lord Jesus to his people, nor fully tell how essential he is to their satisfaction and happiness….what wouldst thou do in the world without him, when thou wakest up and lookest forward to the day’s battle?…let the thought of what life would be without him enhance his preciousness.

Life without Christ. How empty! How pointless! How utterly hopeless.

But then I think of my every day life and I feel a pang of conviction. Do I act like Jesus is precious? Do I live in a way that models to those around me (i.e. my children!) that I have a hope beyond the every day life? Do I meditate on the endless wonder and beauty that is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? Do I live like Jesus has given me all I have ever needed and far above what I could even want?


I quite often live like there is just enough Jesus to get by.

If I were being honest I would look at my life and say that I live like Jesus gets me through the day, but just barely! And praise God for coffee!

I devalue my Savior and make him a prop to my life. Ouch.

How do I stop this? How do I put Jesus in his proper place in my life?

By praying for a heart that stands in awe of him. By assigning him the value he deserves. By looking at all the other stuff in my life that I value like a cheap, dollar store imitation of a priceless artifact. Stuff like having a clean house, cooking incredible meals, having a “perfect body”, and going to all the social events.

And even stuff like being a good mom and pastor’s wife and CHRISTIAN.

Because that’s not the goal!! The goal is to treasure Christ!! And when we do that properly, all our other relationships will be healthy and good. Our relationship with our family, our relationship to friends, our relationship to stuff.

Let’s stop living like Christ makes it so we have just enough “goodness and stuff” to get us through our day in a “christian way”. That’s a different religion than what’s in the Bible. The Bible says to take up our cross daily. It says that Christ brings us from death to life. And it expounds again and again on the beauty, wonder, mercy, majesty, glory, of Christ. Who left everything and gave himself for us.

That is life changing. Let’s live changed lives. Let’s pray that we can truly know how precious he is.

A Clean House: the elusive dream

  I don’t know about you, but I love a clean house. I love having everything organized. I love having everything in its place. I love saying goodbye to clutter and embracing the minimalist lifestyle. 

But you would never be able to tell that from my house. I have four kids, several of whom are like literal whirlwinds. There is stuff everywhere. It’s an epic, hourly battle to keep the house looking not destroyed. 

Having a clean house is not a bad thing. And having a messy house isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. But I tend to put my hope in my house. And that’s an idol. 

When it’s clean, I feel calm and peaceful. My kids know that mom is happy when things are picked up! 

But when it’s messy, I see the work that needs to be done and I start to get stressed I won’t have the time or energy to take care of it. I feel the guilt of thinking that if I were a good mom I would be training my kids to do the picking up and wouldn’t be doing it alone while they watch Daniel Tiger and I have a few precious moments of quiet so I can stuff the billion toys back into their designated bins. I dread the HOUR it does take when I actually muster the energy to force my kids to be responsible, and repeat 1500x to pick up that toy. 
I used to think “if only I had a maid! All my problems would be solved!”

But guess what? I do have a maid now. She comes three times a week (thanks to an amazing friend who wanted to bless us with that this year). And she’s amazing. I call her my miracle worker. And she does work miracles. 

And a couple moments a week, my house is clean. And if I fall behind on dishes I can relax knowing that she’ll be there soon to help me. And I’m so very grateful for her! 

But it didn’t solve my problem. Because the house isn’t my problem. It’s my heart. It’s my idol. 

It’s putting my hope and trust in my surroundings, which affects my peace. 

Having a clean house will not make you happy, no matter what you may think. Having a weekly menu and eating healthy food and being a homeschool queen will not bring you joy. 

Slowly I am learning that when I put my hope in Christ and what he did for me on the cross, and when I believe him that he’s going to continue working in me until the end, I have joy. 

I can have joy when my 3 year old won’t potty train and poops on the floor every single day. 

I can have joy when homeschool takes 3 hours instead of 45 minutes because of all the interruptions. 

I can have joy when the baby won’t sleep and I don’t know how to make it better. 

I can have joy when the house is a wreck and I have no energy to clean it or to make the kids clean it, and it’s almost bedtime and I know we will start tomorrow behind.

Those circumstances are usually big stress producers for me. Because I let my peace rest in my surroundings and not in Christ. Don’t I believe that he is faithful? Don’t I believe that he has ordained this for my good? Don’t I believe that he has already given me such grace for each situation I am faced with?

And don’t I believe that it’s SO much more important to have joy and peace in the chaos and crazy, to model to my kids that what I believe is real.

I struggle with this daily. But I am praying for more and more grace. I want to have peace no matter what! And I want it to be because of him. Not because my house is clean.