soul steps

i was feeling a little un-centered today (is that i word?  it should be; you know not centered, off center, out of focus …)  it has been a week of burden bearing.  walking alongside friends as they trudge through the deep sludge of life.  my soul feet feel heavy and my spiritual breaths short and labored.  gray clouds, snow, rain, and chilly temperatures have done nothing but increase the oppression of the week.  (i’m greatly affected by the weather- why is it?  i probably shouldn’t be so fickle, but warm rays of sunshine make my heart happy everyday- maybe i should move to california?)

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this morning the sun has come sneaking through the somber clouds, and i decide i need a walk.  not a, put on my yoga pants arm pumping kind of walk, a soul walk.  i need to do it more; take a walk; remind myself how grateful i am to live here; see my creator: in the smooth rocks, the sun rays over the mountain, and the mountain flowers peeking up.  i need to gaze on the horizon and remember there is more astir then what i see.  as my feet step over brush and stride across an open field; i need to feel peace and calm.

rocks lie in the hay field; little disturbances to life.  the hay will still grow, but not as well, not quite as much unless the rocks are removed.  all i need do is pick them up; pile them along the fence.  it’s a tiny task; it will go unnoticed by farmer seated on his tractor.  but i will know; i will know that a few more sprouts will surface because they have been freed- they have space to grow.  i will pick up smooth stones and know that they have weathered some time in the field, but the time has come for them to move.  i will see that hearts need stirring, and rocks need moving.  growth is inevitable; growth is tough.  sometimes i can reach in and move stones; sometimes i can help.  sometimes i can’t.

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my soul thirsts for this; for walking and remembering. for picking up stones knowing that new days will come, that hearts will heal and grow.  i can breath deep and exhale; i can take soul steps.

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explorers

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my boys are explorers!  i’m convinced that if there were still unknown territories in the world they would be begging us to pioneer into uncharted waters!  they love to “look around” “go adventuring” “explore” all the places.

i am so thankful for our house at apple flats where they have space to roam and wander.  i’m tempted to always take off with them; i want to join in on their expeditions.  a few days ago, after i’d packed a backpack and water bottle for my youngest and secured it on his back; i sat in the kitchen gazing out the window as they marched off.  i wanted to follow, but i knew that mommy presence might spoil the fun.

i know that the bond my boys have is tight and strong, in some part due to the freedom i give them to explore on their own.  they’ve returned from exploring- oldest carrying the youngest; helping each other tote their found treasures; all ablaze of excitement to share what they’ve discovered.  i do not doubt that my presence on such trips would void some of that brotherly care and joy.  i’ve a nack for spoiling the fun.  i’d have limited the number of dry cattails they stuck in their pockets, or warned against wading through the frigid creek water.  i’d have spied a safer route or a better way and directed them far too much.

i’ll admit i’m a bit jealous sometimes; like last week when they returned eyes sparkling, beckoning me to come and see what treasure they’d found.  a huge set of elk antlers set in our yard; i mean huge!  and boys were all a jumble of voices and words to tell me about the fantastic find.  part of me feels like i’m missing out on the adventure!  part of me wouldn’t trade their independent little boy adventures for the world.  because that is exactly what i’m after- hearts that yearn for excitement; minds that are never satisfied with what they’ve read but want the experience; souls that know deeply that their Maker has great things in store for them, if they take the time to explore!

pesto for lunch

i have a little tin can sitting on my windowsill; pretty little sprouts of green are just peeking through to soak in the sunshine.  while i was washing dishes tonight, i glanced at those little leaves and my mind filled with a summer gone by.

i have a friend who grows an amazing garden (actually i have quite a few friends with fabulous gardens- why isn’t their ability rubbing off on me?)  he can grow anything well; and he is generous (the best gardeners always are).  one summer his abundant garden produced a plethora of basil.  green basil, and purple basil, all kinds of basil in excess.  his wife (one of my besties) came to my house arms laden with bags full of basil, and we made pesto.  we made pesto all summer; we ate pesto on freshly baked crusty white bread.  she sat at my kitchen counter, and we talked life and kids and cooking and preserving and we ate pesto.  it is a memory of summer and friendship and real food, made fresh and made well.  it is a memory of smells and tastes and grit on my hands from basil pulled freshly from the ground.  it is a memory of joy.

so tonight when i peered into that little tin can and spied those green basil sprouts i was full of joy; because food is an essential part of our lives.  it is memory; it is nourishment; it is giving and sharing and enjoying goodness together.

i miss my friends whom now live to far away to partake in pesto making and eating.  but basil in my garden and in my kitchen this summer will make them feel closer.  and i will gather new friends, while i think about my old friends.  we will eat pesto for lunch, and we will make new memories.

jen’s pesto

a few handfuls of basil

bunches of freshly minced garlic

a handful of almonds

a couple good pours of extra virgin olive oil

a few shakes of parmesan cheese

put it all in a food processor and process til its pasty; put a couple spoonfuls on a plate with another pour of olive oil.  dip some warm crusty bread in there and scoop up a good amount— enjoy!

 

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i like fun socks and….kale

what do you know about yourself that you didn’t know ten years ago?

i got a text from a dear friend today.  she was shopping and looking at socks which apparently reminded her of me.  why?  because i love fun socks; bright colors or happy little patterned socks, crazy socks, mix-matched socks, anything but navy blue itchy knee socks (which i had to wear with my plaid school skirt- those socks were the bain of my existence for awhile)  but i’ve always liked fun socks; i mean since i was a kid- except for the hideous knee socks- i always wanted to wear fun socks.  i think i may have been slightly influenced by punky brewster or pippi longstocking.  there are things about me that haven’t changed much; likes and dislikes that have remained constant through my life.  likes-ice cream, chuck taylors, flying, books, stacked bracelets…  dislikes- snakes, olives, laundry, tent camping…. some things don’t change much.  there is also the growing, and the learning who you are.  i would say around the time that i turned 30 maybe a little bit before; i really began to understand myself.  or maybe it was that i was finally honest about who i really am.  maybe i was finally mature enough to be truthful about my likes and dislikes, my strengths and weaknesses.  i’m sure some of it is just growth and circumstances and breadth of experience and change.

what i want has changed; it will probably continue to change.  when chris and i built our first house we were young, our family was small.  i painted our bedroom this bright blue color with a denim like finish; it was horrible.  it was way too bright and hard to match and just too much for a master bedroom.  but in my twenties i guess i liked it- what was i thinking?  i liked our house then.

but when we sold and made plans to build again i wanted bigger.  i wanted a formal dining room where i could entertain my friends at fancy dinner parties; i wanted a huge master bedroom with a sitting area and a school room where we could study and learn and keep all of our books and educational toys.  our house was lovely; it was beautiful and i was sad when we sold it.  i did host dinner parties in my dining room, they were never fancy- i realized fancy didn’t suite me.  i stored a lot of laundry in the sitting area of our ginormous master bedroom; i have fond memories of school time with my young children in our lovely schoolroom loft.

but i have changed.  i like a smaller house now, with less rooms to clean and less space to collect junk; and tighter spaces where we are all comfy together.  we sit in the living room or at the kitchen table for school, and i will probably never want to change that.  when we moved into our current rental home we painted all walls white- no color, no crazy blue denim business.  i’d rather have a large table in my kitchen then fancy dining room.  i want to cook and talk and host families with lots of messy children all around the same kitchen table.

my tastes have changed in part due to the season of life i am in.  i think this is the way of it.  it’s the same way that i could never choose one favorite Bible verse.  they are all good.  different verses speak to me specifically at different times in my life.  because i’m not who i was; i’m being remade.  i’m new.(there’s a little song reference for ya; do you know who sings a song with those fantastic words?) and over and over again i am new, but part of me remains the same.  it’s a little perplexing, this learning myself.

so what do i know about myself that i didn’t know ten years ago?  or what is some specific like/dislike or trait that has changed in the last ten years?  (ten years is a long time peeps- so if it’s too long for you, i mean if you were only 11 ten years ago then you could ask yourself the question using 5 years or 1 year.  i’ll bet your fashion choices have changed in ten years for sure; unless your like me hanging on to some college jeans and t-shirts.)

 

-i am disorganized, very seriously disorganized.  i used to think that i was an orderly person but naturally i just am not.

-i am creative and i have need to create beautiful things and find beauty.

-i like asparagus.

-i’ve become a tea drinker- living in a colder climate and trying to maintain good health will do that to you.

-i’m an odd introvert; i’m happy to speak in front of a group of 100 women, but ask me to start up a conversation with a stranger in the park and i might break out into a cold sweat or run away.

-i like kale – in a good salad or sautéed in a little bit of coconut oil (it’s so good you should totally try it)

-i still like fun socks – but that’s nothing new.

 

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more or less

i have a friend who is writing a book.  she is amazing, and when it is ready i will happily share it with you and shout her praises and unashamedly push her book.  but today i’m feeling a little less.  i have a friend who is writing a book; i have a friend who is adopting a baby; i have a friend who is traveling to uganda; i have a friend who’s training for a triathlon.  meanwhile i’ve got laundry piled up to my ears (have you noticed laundry is an ongoing problem for me- i hate it)  i made some really gross pumpkin muffins this morning for my children for breakfast.  i could surely use some makeup and a hairbrush about now; and honestly i just had to run outside because i could hear my kids screaming at each other while i was in the bathroom.  (ok so that’s a lie; i didn’t run.  i waited and listened to see if anyone was hurt.  upon deciphering that the voices were merely angry fighting boys and not injured children, i walked slowly outside to face the reality.  the reality which was, my older boys on the roof of the house chucking snowballs at my littles who were on the roof of the shed…. seriously.)

some days i feel less; less of a disciple, less of a wife, less of a mom.  maybe i’ve been struggling with this a lot lately; because i seem to be working it out in one form or another is several places.  we all feel less sometimes.  we can all look at others and wish we were more.

yesterday during women’s bible study, i was reminded of how God views me; of what God calls me.  a saint, anointed, His child, beloved, worthy, heir, sister, daughter… so today as i’m feeling less; i’m trying to remember that He is more.  that His words, His view, His plan is more; and He has given more to me.  in grasping more; i strive to be more.  not in a competitive, jealous, keeping-up kind of way.  i strive to live up to the words He has spoken over me.  to face my rowdy, snowball throwing boys with grace and peace.  i strive to entrench myself in His word so that His words will flow from my mouth.  i tackle the task He has given me with joy.

i will not be writing books anytime soon; but i will sit down and read to my children.  i will tell them stories of my youth, stories of their lives, and stories from my heart.  i will not be adopting a newborn, but i will love on my friend and encourage and pray for her as she mothers her baby.  i will hug my children- biological and adopted -and remember the days when their hands were so little and their cheeks so sweet.  there are no trips to africa planned for our family; but we have friends across the world whom i will pray for as they reach out to the lost and the hopeless.  i will show the love of Christ to my neighbors and my friends down the street and be His hands and feet right where i live.  i will most surely not be training for a triathlon or a marathon or even a 5k (i do not like participating in races), but i will choose health.  i will do T25 with my son who loves to “workout” and i will talk a walk outside today and enjoy the sunshine.

i am feeling less today, but i am consciously choosing to be more.

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gather

i’ve never chosen “one little word” for the year.  i’m honestly not much of a planner; so choosing a theme word for a whole year seems daunting.  but the start of this year has been daunting in and of itself.  our family is going through change; we are learning and growing and adapting.  parenting four boys with different personalities, interests, and needs can be intimidating.  throw in the beginning of adolescence for one and some special needs for another and you’ve got a recipe for two overwhelmed parents.  trying to know my children and care for them well has caused me to sink deeper into prayer, thought, reading the Word, and research at the start of this year.  it has also pushed me to be more aware of myself and want needs i have.  somehow parenting can do that; we try to figure out what to do for our kids and we end up learning more about ourselves.

in all the searching and digging i’ve been doing; God has actually brought “one little word” to me this year.  it’s a word for me; a theme for my year; a little of who i am and who i want to be.

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community is important to me; it is important to God; it is important to us as Christ followers.  i have always longed for community.  in community i am complete; my joy can be full; i can love better and worship more fully; i can bring more glory to God. so this year i want to gather people into community.  gather-to bring together into one group, collection, or place.  i want to gather people to commune and fellowship and worship.  i want to gather our family together to be close, to enjoy each other, to grow.  i want to gather memories, flowers, good food, joy, eggs, quilts, books….

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so there you have it “gather” it’s my mantra for 2015.

do you have a theme for this year?

is there “one little word” you’ve chosen?

happy birthday to me

my mom and i went shopping at my favorite thrift store last year on my birthday.  we took all four boys with us; which means a little bit of crazy.  thrift shopping is awesome and at HOPE thrift (in richmond, va) where they have $1 clothes week i stock up.  so i went to the register with an arm load of clothes; my mom checked out ahead of me.  after the cashier had rung up my pile; a lady in line behind me tapped me on the shoulder.  “i would like to pay for your purchase” she said.  instantly my mind went defensive and selfish-how haggard do i look for this women to feel the need to pay for my thrift store clothes?  my kids must have done it- she feels sorry for the poor mom with 4, out of control, boys.  “oh you don’t have to do that” i said.  “i would like to; God has greatly blessed me and i would like to bless you”  she said.  and smack, i got hit in the face with God’s goodness and my pride.  my face went hot and my eyes welled with tears.  “it’s my birthday today” i blubbered and hugged the godly stranger lady.  “thank you”.  the woman behind the counter held back tears as she handed me my bag and i rushed out the door to my mom and boys to share my birthday story.

that was last year’s birthday.  this year i’m in a new place- physically, emotionally, spiritually.  God has heaped blessings upon me.  i’m going shopping at my new thrift store.  we’ll see what happens; maybe i will pay for the person in line in front of me.

happy birthday to me.

 

(on a ridiculous side note:  i took the boys to a winter survival homeschool coop yesterday.  we went hiking in the “backcountry” -what does that even mean?  we rushed out the door at the last minute -surprise, surprise- and i didn’t even think to take sunscreen.  i’m 35 years old; i have 4 kiddos, we are outside all the time!  but you’d think i was a newbie!  today we all have glowing red faces (mine’s the worst) and i’m slathering on aloe.  when am i gonna grow up?)

happy monday

it’s my birthday- well actually not till wednesday, but i am a big fan of the birthday week celebration!  so my party starts today, here’s whats on the agenda:  cleaning house (not fun but totally necessary), crafting with a friend, starting some seeds (the sun is beaming through my kitchen window just begging me to grow some basil), and a big sale tonight at my instashop.  the sun is shining; the skies are blue, and i’m not feeling older yet.  i’m determined to have a good monday!  some days i wake up groggy and grumpy and not ready.  not ready for the day, not ready for school time, not ready to be a wife and mom, not ready to start feeding this crew of hungry boys.  but today i’m choosing to have a great day!

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have a happy monday!

you can check out my sale tonight at 5:00 pm mountain time instagram @onthedoorpostsshop.

i’ve got big plans

my mind can race a million miles an hour with stories, and menus, and creations, and 5th grade grammar, and planning, and dreaming, and “wishin and hopin and thinkin and prayin” nope that’s a song from hmmm name that movie…

see already i digress because my mind wonders.  that’s how it goes for me all the time.  i’ve got big plans, but so often they fade into oblivion when it’s bath time for the littles or time to walk the dog or make cookies or whatever.  i get side tracked- don’t you get sidetracked?  i mean we live in this buzz of activity, and it’s all i’m sitting down with tea and bible study one minute; and boys yelling that the dog threw up on the floor the next.  it’s all sweet 4 year olds singing “i am the way and the truth and the life…” one minute; then homemade laundry soap boiling over on the stove the next.  what a crazy, awesome life i live.

so i’ve had big plans for writing amazing things on this blog.  God has been teaching me, and rocking my boat a bit.  i’m wrestling through my thoughts and God’s ideas on ministering to the poor; befriending non-believers; orphan care, and bursting the christian bubble i’ve lived in for so long.  but those plans have been thwarted by the real life doing.

today i picked up a crib (maybe that’s not the best way to start a paragraph for the sake of my mom and grandmother who might be reading this and how dare i let out that news on my blog.  mom, no new little one’s in this household.)  last weekend the hubs and i picked up a table and dropped it off at an empty apartment.  an apartment devoid of furniture and decor; no pretty curtains hanging on windows, only a few bags of clothes and some toy trucks scattered across the floor. i’m delivering table and crib to a single mom.  her baby girl has been in the neonatal intensive care unit for several months.  she’s not from my church; she’s not the daughter of a sweet older lady i know from bible study.  she’s just another mom who’s giving baths and telling stories and making cookies (when she can afford the ingredients).  so i’m taking tortilla soup and forging relationships.

this is foreign territory; it’s not scripted in the life i’ve lived; it’s not chit chat with other football mom’s on the sidelines; it’s not meet me at starbucks.  there’s no easy way to put it anymore; i’ve felt a pull for years to step outside- to reach beyond; but it’s scary and unknown.  it’s not just writing a check; or visiting third world poverty for a week; or crying over videos of forsaken children.  there’s no overlooking what waits down the street; i’ve jumped in.  there is no simple.  my heart’s wide open and raw and unsettled.  it’s all more like Jesus and less like Jennifer.  my mind swirls and chokes and strains at possibilities and scenarios as i learn to give and love.

i’ve got big plans, but God keeps changing them.

wear your heart

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i started making these denim cuffs this fall.  because i like to create. because i like to repurpose. because i was looking for a way to incorporate words into jewelry.  because i want something meaningful and pretty to wear.

i love words; i love letters that make words and books made by words.  i love they way they look and sound and speak.  i love typography and words as art and representation.  and i love that i found a way to put the words of my heart on my wrist.

i want the constant reminder; i want the pretty, and the practical.

it’s part of the whole “onthedoorposts” thing— sharing God’s Word everywhere in everything (more on that coming soon).

i wanna wear my heart on my sleeve wrist.