4Another month down! This was definitely a harder month for me. There were lots of opportunities to be strong, and I was very surprised at how much stronger I am now than I used to be! In fact, at one point I felt like so much of a heroine that I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror and decided to cut my own hair. Yes, just like in the movies. Yes, it was totally cathartic. And yes, I like how it turned out. (The CreaClip is amazing and I’ve been cutting my own hair for over a year. #Empowerment!)
Anyway, here are the highlights of my month:
-March is strawberry month here, and we sure did take advantage of it. Our family eats a scary amount of fruit. (For example, my husband literally eats a pound of frozen cherries each night. Eh, there are worse possible addictions than that.) This was the first time I made going to u-picks a priority for our family, and I’m so glad I did because it’s such an enriching and delicious time. Plus, u-pick strawberries only cost 50 cents a quart, so we picked over 14 pounds of strawberries for only $7. Sometimes I really wish I lived somewhere other than Florida, but not in March. I love Florida in March.
-The kids and my mom and I also got to visit my homeland, Ohio, for several days. I haven’t been there in six years so it was nice to be back and see all my family there. And Winter Storm Stella decided to visit while we were there! Stephen (who is 4) prayed and prayed for snow, and I learned so much from his faith. I bought him a snow shovel from Walmart for $1, and seeing him frolic around in the snow was truly the happiest I’ve ever seen him. The white-frosted pines were so gorgeous and all of us were just gazing out the window and shocked by the beauty of it all. (People who lived there, of course, were tired of winter, but we felt like God made it snow just for us.)
-We’ve just had a lot of happy moments at home. The Lord has been growing some friendships much deeper and showing me the joy of plodding along. He knows what I need, because I—in typical millennial form—always long for faster, newer, more exciting…but, as G.K. Chesterton has said, “One cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion.” There is rich joy to be found in investing, enduring, persevering, savoring. I hope to grow in that this year.
-Oh, and we visited the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. The modern art, baroque art, circus museum, and horticulture were all gorgeous. I’ve got to go back.
-One of the trickiest parts of motherhood is the lack of solitude. So I asked my friend Heidi if she would do a kid swap with me; she watched my kids for three hours so I could go away and pray alone for a bit, and next week I'll watch hers. Being alone with Jesus, unhurried, in beautiful creation (and then at a bagel shop) was such a sweet and necessary experience, and I hope to make this a regular habit.
What I Learned:
-I’m so prideful. This month God was kind to humble and convict me in so many specific ways…not so that I tend to despair and self-condemnation, but so that I slow down and realize my sin so the gospel is good news to me again. Do you even know how freeing it is to be able to face my sin and failure head-on, call it what it is, and then say “But really, Jesus died for that and I have new life in Him.” The pastor who is counseling me each week wisely told me, “Jesus didn’t die for our ‘mess-ups.’ If you spill milk, you need a rag and some carpet cleaner. But if you sin against the holy and living God, you need a Savior.” Calling my sin what it is frees me up to find true healing through the Jesus who buried my sin in the grave and rose victorious over it.
-I need to remember this when I discipline my kids; they’re not just having “bad behavior” that is remedied by distractions or time-outs. They are sinning and need to know that God takes that seriously. If they don’t know this, how will they see their need for Christ? I was so intentional with my first child, but I’ve gotten quite lazy in my care for my second child and shockingly so with my third.
-I’ve really been enjoying Joshua Becker’s blog Becoming Minimalist. He’s a Christian who was interviewed at length in the Minimalism documentary I saw on Netflix, he’s a fellow member of Samaritan Ministries (my healthcare alternative), and he’s written some books. I read his book Living with Less--which I didn’t realize was targeted to teens, so it was super super easy to finish—and he made some really helpful points. His blog is extremely insightful and well-written, not just about living with fewer things but about becoming a more selfless and wise person in general.
-Caroline Cobb’s album The Blood + The Breath has been my music of choice this month. She is a really gifted singer-songwriter who has a unique storytelling style. (Check out the Passover Song; that last verse is crazy exciting.)
-Ol’ Faithful our vacuum cleaner has been decreasingly faithful, so I found a Groupon deal on a Roomba and it’s been fantastic for our family. Our yard is basically a dirt playground, and we run around in it multiple times a day, but as a result our floor is nasty, and I don’t have the time—and especially not the desire—to constantly mop 2500 square feet of floors. So sending the Roomba to do some daily sweeping has been a huge gift. The lazy-rich-person-stigma I previously had regarding Roombas is gone; robotic vacuums for the win.
I'm back in Luke and it's been lovely. 18:29-30 is super sweet: And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” As I said earlier, there was some tough stuff I dealt with this month and there were some moments I felt quite alone. But this verse helps me see that I have been adopted into a family that is larger than biologically possible, especially when I consider Christians from all nations of all time for all eternity. My church family---and especially some particularly sweet friendships---has been such a blessing and encouragement. On a night when I was struggling, I sent out an S.O.S. text to some dear friends asking for prayer, songs, and scripture, and they flooded me with truth. I felt so carried by God. I love my parents and extended family, don't get me wrong, but I'm finding more and more how much of a gift it is that I have this eternal family whose bond with me runs so much deeper than blood, even if we've never met. I'm so grateful to be a part of this beautiful community.
Best Articles I Read:
The Deeper Reason Why We Can’t Remember People’s Names by Joshua Becker
Remember Saint Patrick by David Mathis
4 Things Beth Moore Taught Me About Writing by Joy Beth Smith
The Hidden Strength of a Weak Mother by Tim Challies
7 Pieces of Financial Advice That Forever Changed My Life by Joshua Becker (I was surprised by point #2 but agree wholeheartedly!)
Stuff I Wrote:
Slugs and Bugs: Best Minivan Music Imaginable
I’m working on an enormous project with my friend Alexxus that I will reveal later, and I’ve been working through some pretty important personal issues, so the blog just hasn’t been priority. It helps that hardly anyone reads it, ha!
So that's all for this month! I hope you've had a great month and that April is filled to the brim with joy!
About three years ago a friend and I were blubbering on about our mutual appreciation for Andrew Peterson when she asked me if I knew about the children's music to which he has contributed. She sang its praises and sent me off with instructions to watch "Tractor, Tractor" on YouTube, and well, here we find ourselves. Since then we've been listening to various Slugs & Bugs albums in the van repeatedly and have yet to grow tired of them! Randall Goodgame, the genius lyricist and eclectically-skilled musician behind it all, has a major gift and is using it well.
I'm not being compensated for this article or anything; I just truly love Slugs & Bugs!
Here's why I love Slugs & Bugs and think you should vigorously consume this music as soon as possible:
1) There's a time to be silly and a time to be serious...and somehow a time to be both.
It always surprises me how Randall Goodgame navigates all this beautifully. Some songs are based purely on sweet scripture (such as "Masterpiece"), some songs are 100% goofy and have nothing to do with anything ("Mexican Rhapsody"), and some songs are a little bit of both, such as "God Made Me", which sings of baby seals and how Jesus makes us new. These songs glorify God with their reverence and their lightheartedness, like how Dracula and Frankenstein teach us the Ten Commandments.
2) They don't get old.
This morning when I was picking up my kids from Sunday School, I heard Steve Green songs in the background...I listened to the same exact songs 20 years ago when I was four, and they still sound pretty good! The words, of course, are still 100% relevant. Timeless treasure. I would venture to say that Randall Goodgame is the next Steve Green...combined with the silly-song prowess of Larry the Cucumber?
Anyway, I've heard some trendy kids music, even well-made music, that is so flashy and pop-sounding that in ten years it will make everyone's ears bleed. I don't think Slugs & Bugs will be lame in twenty years, especially since the first album came out in 2007 and still rocks hardcore.
I think the main reason that I can manage to listen to the same children's CD every day for weeks on end---even if the kids aren't in the car---is because they're so well-done. Musically diverse, lyrically beneficial (or at the very least worthy of giggles), full of themes such as adoption or being strengthened by raisins...and in my opinion, each album is even better than the last!
3) My kids truly love this music.
Our family has been enjoying Slugs & Bugs since my kids were ages 2, infant, and not-yet-existent. Now they're 4, 3, and 1, and at an even better age to giggle and sing along than ever. I can't count how many times they've referenced the Bible verses or asked me to sing them one of the sweet lullabies...or how many times they've requested the Alien song. The older kids are even well on their way to memorizing the names and order of every book in the Bible!
A couple weeks ago we went to a Slugs & Bugs concert---I didn't know anyone even did concerts aimed at little people!---and my children were so enriched and grateful for the experience.
I hope I'm not exaggerating the awesomeness of Slugs & Bugs, but this music is genuinely a gift to our family and I praise God often that such awesome resources for discipleship and family bonding are available to me. I have amassed my collection mostly by buying directly through the website, but now is a great time to get some albums because there's currently a Slugs & Bugs Kickstarter campaign!
They're seeking to make a Slugs & Bugs Sing the Bible Vol. 3 and a second Christmas album and, as a stretch goal, a third silly-song album! I think I was a backer on the first day and I recommend you do the same before the campaign ends on March 28th.
Anyway, I just wanted to take the time to recommend Slugs & Bugs because I have pretty strong views about how important it is to feed yourself and your kids with excellent music, and these albums definitely fit the bill! Check them out!
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 5, 3, 1, and not-yet-born. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today