February has had some rough patches, but overall this has been a sweet month. I don't think I've ever seen so many answered prayers in such a small amount of time; God has been proving over and over again to me that He hears me and can change hearts (including my own) like a light-switch. So good.
-Thankfully my husband and I have both been on the same page about simplifying our lives, and as a result we've been so much more freed up to focus on what's important. As a stay-at-home mom, I'm the primary culture-maker and life-planner each day for myself and three little people, so revamping a lot of the ways we are doing things has been transformative for everyone. This month the kids and I slowed down a lot and enjoyed walking around downtown or sitting together doing Play-doh or giggling at the breakfast table. Most importantly, we've been able to invite people into our lives more. I hope we only grow in this in the future. We also went on a blind playdate; I even had to text the other mom a picture of us so she'd know what we look like!
Here's us on a family walk. I love how over-the-top my husband is:
-Eating outside for as many meals as possible (especially when we eat rice/quinoa/something messy, which is all the time) has been so lovely...and helpful for me because it's so easy to clean up! Florida weather is just so beautiful in February. After we eat, I love bouncing on an exercise ball and trying to read a book while the kids dig holes in the dirt. Happy, happy times.
-One of the big highlights of the month was when my husband took me on a really crazy date! The kids were at grandparents' for the night so at 8:30 pm Peter asked me if I wanted to go out on the boat. I laughed nervously but he was serious. Riding on the Alafia River and Tampa Bay is a wee bit scary when the water is black and you know there are some terrifying creatures down below. The tide rose significantly on our way back and we almost got stuck underneath a train bridge. Best of all, we docked at a riverfront restaurant to get some onion rings and were totally naiive to the fact that it was 10 pm on a Friday night and this place was a total bar, just like in the movies---bikers playing pool and everyone yelling---and an intoxicated middle-aged woman held her hand in front of Peter and suggestively told him to "slow down" so she could get a better look at him. That's the kind of date that I love. The weirdness of it is so us.
-The best thing that happened in Februrary, though, is that one of my friends came to know Jesus! Last time I met with her she was content in her lifestyle and completely shut off to anything about God, but through various recent events she was very quickly, in her own words, "hunted down by the hounds of heaven." God was wooing her with His love for her. (By the way, there is an amazing poem titled "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson and a short film by N.D. Wilson that's a modern take on it. Check 'em out!) She's so much happier now and excited about life, and that increases my joy tremendously. I'm telling you, Jesus really is everything. It's so awesome being able to say to someone, "Wow, I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you! You're a different person!" and for her to agree in happy surprise! Praise God.
What I Learned
-Living with less has made my life so much better! Pictured below is my entire wardrobe (minus undies and pj's.) It's been way easier to pick out my clothes each day because I know that I like everything that's in my closet. I still plan on writing a post about all that I've learned from minimalism and how awesome my house looks now! I never thought I would love being at my house because it's always been a disaster, but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it and a peaceful home is the best feeling ever. I just had to get rid of 2/3 of my stuff, ha! I've been so deceived by commercialism, not just in the craving to buy individual items but in my perceived need for stuff in general.
-I've been continuing to get counseling from one of the pastors at our church and it's been so healthy. He helped me see 1 Corinthians 13 with an eternal perspective; perfect love is what reigns in Heaven. There will be a day when there is no need for faith or hope because my King will have come and everything I'd been waiting for will be realized. But love? Love will remain. When we love well now, we are glimpsing eternity. So that's been pretty big...I shouldn't just love others so that those relationships function better, but because love is the biggest and most lasting thing. What a grand idea that God had! And how He has so liberally drenched His people in love through Jesus.
-I'm not gonna lie, we've been listening to a lot of Baha Men's Greatest Movie Hits in the van. Piper even readily admitted that she is the person "Who Let the Dogs Out."
-Bethany Barnard came out with a new album called A Better Word and it is absolutely incredible. Upon hearing "Covenant" I instantly knew that it was one of the best songs I've ever heard about marriage, but the rest of the album has blown my socks off as well. "High & Lowly", which is reminiscent of Isaiah 57:15, praises the loftiness and humility of Christ. It's glorious.
-I finally heeded my brother's advice and started watching Studio C on Youtube. Best and worst thing that's ever happened to me. They're like a wittier, clean version of SNL, and catching up on 6 seasons has been nothing less than addicting. As with all sketch comedy, some skits are better than others, but for starters I enjoyed Stranded on a Desert Island, Worst Teacher Ever, and of course Scott Sterling.
-We also discovered an amazing new board game called Codenames! It's the kind of game that's actually fun to play in teams; it stretches your mental muscles and makes you feel like you have a super-deep connection with your friends when they actually knew what you were trying to communicate with your one-word clue.
-I've been thinking a lot about the happiness of God. Psalm 119:12 says "Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!" The fact that God can be "blessed" is a little overwhelming, especially when we consider the other verses in scripture that talk about His happiness. He is "well pleased" with Christ (Matthew 3:17) and His soul "delights" in Christ (Isaiah 42:1.) God does what He does for His own sake (Isaiah 48:11) and because it pleases Him (Psalm 115:3.) Christ endured the cross "for the joy set before Him" (Hebrews 12:2.) God is the happiest being in the universe. He did not make the world because He was lonely but because He was spilling over in love and happiness in Himself. (For the same reason, I do not have children because I am lonely but because I want to welcome other people into my joy!) May He show me the way to be happy!
Stuff I Wrote:
Hobbies, Habits of Grace, and Hanging Out With Toddlers
Judging Others is Too Easy
What I Wish I Knew As a Teen Bride
So anyway, that's my month! I look forward to knowing and loving Jesus more in March!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today