Tuesday, March 13, 2018
As winter gives way to spring, so does the urge to clean every inch of my house. Leave no stone unturned she declares as she moves the couch across the room to reveal a season's worth of cheerios and goldfish snack crackers. And while few things make me happier than an organized pantry or a decluttered closet, creating an efficient and effective system for photo organization, especially those on the iphone, is just a big avoidable headache to me. This morning I realized I hadn't backed up photos since before Christmas and for some reason, photos and videos from October to December seem to be stuck on my phone. This endeavor is definitely on my list of things to tackle this year. But in the meantime, periodic phone "dumps" on here will just have to do!
Life from the iphone, winter 2017-18...
...A little snap from Beau while he and Mila were on a date night one night. He took her bowling and to Sidecar for hot cocoa. I think this is when their mutual love for The White Stripes began!
...a forgotten cute picture of these two letter writers.
...and these festive elves. ;)
...I love when these photos show up on my phone! This was the night Mila got sick at Tony's just two days before Christmas. These were taken probably 15 minutes before she threw up all over our booth. Who would have ever thought!
...One of my favorite Christmas nights. I declare a Christmas camp-out night a new tradition for the Jorgensens.
...Christmas break memories. Books at Barnes and Noble, milkshakes at Freddy's, and lots of afternoons inside with puzzles and movies and cups of hot cocoa.
...New Years Eve, 2018. The 2nd Annual Bowling Extravaganza with the Susongs. With Chinese food to follow, of course. We galaxy bowl early, celebrate with flaming volcanoes afterwards, and usually wind up on the couch with my favorite three just in time to pretend it's midnight and smooch before bed. With chocolate milk toasts, of course.
...2018 started with a little girl turning the big four. We ate donuts and played twister and twirled a bunch.
...We find our own fun while Cruz is at piano.
...I caught this just as the egg shells were about to land in the cookie dough!
...Dreaming about summer campfires with a little s'more treat before bed.
...Found them like this one morning while I was getting ready. Love Mila's little arm around her big brother.
...A fun night with the Schroeders! This was our first trip to the twin cities... ;)
...And two weeks later, a trip back for the second half of our stay. Mila got sick yet again the morning we were supposed to enjoy the big mall, so we ventured back and enjoyed another weekend away.
...Beau called early one afternoon to ask what time Mila is usually done with her nap at daycare. He said he had a quiet afternoon at the office, was in the neighborhood, and felt like picking her up. She spent all afternoon with him, and they kept sending me pictures and texts as evidence. It was the sweetest thing.
...The kids got to come to the office with me a couple of times this winter, too! This day, I had a meeting and they had a snow day. My friend, Megan, brought her teenage girls to come entertain my two while we met in the other room. In an hour and a half's time, they had put together a puzzle, made origami creations, played Barbies, and were having a paper airplane contest when I came out. Cruz and Mila have since declared Megan's daughters their favorite baby-sitters of all time!
...Our basement is finished and to say we are enjoying our space is an understatement. We gathered here for Sunday football playoffs and Superbowl Sunday.
...This might be our favorite part of the basement. More on this reading nook to come!
...IF:Gathering 2018 preparations underway. I stamped a whole lot of those coffee sleeves that weekend.
...A spontaneous Valentine's day sledding adventure. With Mulligans' nachos to follow.
...I had to include a collection of Mila's people creations. We like to think she could get a deal with the creative director of Stranger Things. I am especially creeped out by what appears to be the sad pregnant person in the second picture and the clown in the last one. Uncle Taylor especially loves Mila's pictures, so we make sure to draw them for him and stick them in the mail every so often!
...Speaking of Taylor, he and Kate hosted a sleepover for Cruz and Mila a few weekends ago while Beau and I attended an awards banquet in Des Moines. They had such a blast! They played games, grilled hot dogs and helped with supper cleanup, built an epic blanket fort and watched a movie, and ate ice cream sundaes before bed.
...We celebrated Miss Charly turning 8 at a Black Hawks game in February. We had such a great night! Kelli and I surprised Charly by getting her name on the big screen and I caught a picture of her smile just as she noticed it! And as for Miss Harper, I caught a smile from her, too, which is not an easy thing to do in pictures lately!
...These two. They wanted to sleep together one night so Beau and I let it happen. And then I snuck in awhile later to this.
...We had just turned the calendar to March and within days, a fresh few inches of snow fell from the sky. I laughed to myself as I sat in my car and saw dang near 20 robins chirping along looking for some worms. Spring is here, if only this winter would notice!
...A Sunday with my girl. We shopped at Target, tried on lots of clothes in the dressing room together, and ended our date with a little Starbucks. And afterwards, we sang This Is Me in the car at the top of our lungs.
...Now back to more of this! I've made a big dent in the basement organization this week, including one massive craft supply overhaul Sunday night. It was a family affair, but this space makes me a very happy girl.
"a portrait of each of my children, once each week, in 2018."
Cruz: We can't spend 30 minutes with you lately without being "jinxed" or "busted". We spent a few hours working on some basement organization on Sunday and you talked to me nonstop. So many Mommy-guess-whats and Mommy-look-at-these and Mommy-did-you-knows. But then we drive to school last week in a quiet car because you've got your nose stuck in another book and I keep trying to talk to you but you keep acting a little annoyed that I am distracting you from your page. So I do my best to listen when you want to talk because it probably won't always be that way.
Mila: Oh man, I forgot how great four is! You have been stealing our hearts lately, let me tell you! You steal Daddy's heart when you request to ride in his truck so you can listen to The White Stripes, and you steal my heart when you request The Greatest Showman for the twentieth time. We went on a date Sunday afternoon and we had the very best time. And on the way home, I watched you in the rear view mirror as you made up all the actions for the song we were singing. You were quick and inventive and I told myself this was one of those moments I hoped I never forgot.
Thursday, March 8, 2018
"Therefore, brothers and sisters, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God."
Out of all the good people of the Bible, I am most compelled by the Apostle Paul. His story of transformation, of selfless pursuit of God and his people, and his indisputable love of Christ is captivating. I am nearly finished with the book of Romans and Ephesians, two of Paul's most foundational letters written to new believers in the early years of the Christian church. It's easy to take for granted the sheer magnitude of God's plan, that these letters written mostly during times of destitute and imprisonment, are letters we have in our hands today. And they didn't start as anything more than simple letters written by a changed man encouraging others to run after a life with Christ. It was Paul's freedom song, and God used his life in ways he could have never imagined on this earth. 2,000 years later, we gather all over the world, in coffee shops and churches, under trees and on dirt floors, and still feel encouraged and fueled by this man's song, in ways those early Christians likely felt, too. When you really stop to let that sink in, it's a true privilege to have the opportunity to open our Bibles everyday.
I've got a freedom song, too, but God's still working it out in me. I declared this year my year of learning to live free, to break free from the chains that bind me up in this world and live bearing the fruit God so desires for me. But the more I dig into this, the more I realize how much more I have to learn! It's truly been a process, but I'm learning so much along the way.
First, before I could get to a place where I was desiring this kind of freedom, I needed to wake up first. I needed to seek God in my life and let him in. Then, I started to see my life with new eyes and new purpose. At times, I have felt like I'm wide awake in a world that's half asleep. In the dead of winter, I felt God growing a garden in my soul. I am in the middle of Rebekah Lyon's book, You Are Free, and completely resonated with the way she talked about this:
"March rolled in with a vengeance. Three feet of dirty snow was piled in the gutters of New York City with no sign of reprieve. It was the harshest winter I'd known, yet spring budded in my heart. Roots of new life grew deep, although the green leaves of freedom would not fully unfurl for awhile. I claimed for myself the words of Psalm 1. I would be a tree planted by streams of water, and trust fruit would come when it was supposed to. I looked for clues of that coming fruit with expectation. Channeling my childhood hero, Nancy Drew, I became an amateur detective, looking and listening for evidence of what God was doing in and around me."
Once I woke up, I was not only able to see all that God was desiring to do in my life, but also all that was holding me back from the life he wanted for me. In other words, my sin, my flesh, and the darkness in this world easily took hold over the keys to a free life. Romans 13:12 says, "The night is nearly over, and the day is near; so let us discard the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." Similarly, Paul writes in Ephesians 2, "We previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead. You are saved by grace!"
And this grace, this is where I'm at today. This is the freedom I'm after - truly understanding that the keys to a free life lie in the gift of grace. I'm not quite there yet, but like that tree planted by the water, I can feel God watering and pruning and growing me, writing my freedom song.
Paul reminded me this morning of the importance of writing down the things God is doing in our lives. Rebekah Lyons found writing to be a powerful form of prayer. She writes that: "When I stray from reflection, life strays away from me. I become restless and fragmented, busy and insecure. I compare, compete, and strive. My best parts become my worst parts. Then I remember Jesus' final promise to make all things new. These morning pages, for me, are a ritual of redemption."
When you write down what God is doing in your life, it's nearly impossible to not see his presence. And it's also impossible to not see how much growing we still have to do! I spent some time reflecting this week on my first two months of 2018, listing ways I have sought to break some chains and run after a freer life. I praised God for all he's done in just two months. And then, I looked ahead to the next two months, jotting down hopes and desires for more learning, growing, and loving on the people God has placed in this life. I look forward to the ways he shows me freedom this year and will continue to fumble through putting words on a page, so that his work might encourage others along the way.
Let go of the sin that so easily entangles...
-I gave up social media for Lent. This has quite possibly been the most eye-opening move of 2018.
-I'm working my way through this house. We made some big moves on the basement, found good homes for lots of old furniture, and finally have a beautiful guest room ready to welcome friends.
-I unsubscribed to nearly everything and my email inbox has never felt more free.
-I started another Whole 30, which has evolved to more consistent healthy and whole habits throughout our weeks. Sweets are enjoyed at a minimum now, we're incorporating a few more frequent staples that are easy to prepare and that our kids will eat, and meal times have felt smoother and more together because of it.
-I finished another Shutterfly book and started a chatbook subscription
-I had a super fun at-home spa day with Mila one Sunday afternoon.
-We reexamined our monthly cash budget and are practicing more disciplined spending habits
Let us run with perseverance the race marked for us...
-Beau has been bitten by the Bible bug! He started the Bible in a Year study earlier this year, which has led to big things for our marriage and our community. He was brave enough to ask a few friends to join him, and they are meeting at our house on Wednesday nights. He's also become a big fan of Andy Stanley, thanks to Kate, and is loving his current Ninety series which looks at the life of Jesus (with references to Big Green Eggs and everything!). There is nothing better than eating eggs and bacon at the kitchen island at 6 am with Beau, our Bibles open, discussing Pharoah's heart and Peter's boat and John the Baptist's awesomeness. He was the original hipster, so it's not surprising my husband is a big fan of him. ;)
-I started co-leading my very first Bible study this month with my girl, Jess. This was an easy "yes" of mine following this year's IF:Gathering. We are studying the book of Ephesians through IF:Equip's newest study, Together, with seven ladies from our church on Sunday mornings.
-An incredible IF:Gathering conference at Naz, a February IF:Table at my house, and lots of college girls here, eating our food and loving our kids.
-Celebrating Grandma's 80th birthday with a tea party, spending the night with Taylor and Kate in Des Moines, and a hockey game with the Henrichs' clan.
-We are over halfway through the Bible!
-Planned an upcoming European adventure with my hubby.
-Nominated Cruz's wonderful teacher for a Gold Star award
Goals for this month and next...
Let go of the sin that so easily entangles...
-Enjoy a Spring Break at home. I have many plans for much resetting. Laundering, decluttering, maybe even some window opening. I also have some fun plans in store for the kids that include leprechaun trap building and some adventuring right here in our own backyard. I am fortunate to have the week off and am looking forward to taking advantage of a week at home to hopefully feel refreshed and renewed.
-Continue Spring cleaning. We have plans to move on to the basement storage room, to clean the last of the dry wall dust once and for all, to go through bins that haven't seen the light of day since we were married, and pare down to what we use and what we love.
-Continue eating green and clean. And start running as soon as the snow (finally) melts.
-Develop a plan for Mila's final preschool year. We have some decisions to make about where she spends next year and want to be prayerful about that decision.
Let us run with perseverance the race marked for us...
-Plan a weekend to host the Guess clan here
-A shopping weekend with Mom
-Finish You Are Free and start Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
-Right Now Media study on Ephesians with the kids
-Go on a date with each of the kids for some one-on-one time
Spring awaits and there is much to look forward to. The snow will soon melt and I'm ready to hit the pavement, running light, free, and alive in Christ. Happy Spring Break!
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
The suspense for Mila's first preschool program had been building for weeks, thanks to her weekly updates on how practice was going, what songs they were singing and whether or not so and so was going to sing or not. This is her first year attending preschool two mornings a week and while she gives us a fit on the mornings we tell her it is indeed a preschool morning, she seems to love it when she's there. I think she's just a bit anti-establishment, and I was a little nervous to see how our unpredictable little spirit child would handle being on stage with her peers.
There is just something about these little programs that make my heart flutter. To see their growth, their eyes light up when they lock with yours in the crowd, and their unique personalities displayed just as they are is just precious to me. The programs never last long enough, although I'm always convinced I could sit there and watch them for hours.
I vividly remember Cruz's first preschool program, how sweet he was when he saw Mila in the crowd, and how baby Mila didn't take her eyes off her big brother the entire time. I also remember that Cruz made me a little bit nervous! He was animated and a little wild, just doing his thing and having the time of his life up there. I remember thinking we might have a class clown on our hands, and I smile to think of him now three years later, a responsible, hard-working, and studious little learner thriving in his first grade year.
When I picked Mila up from school that day, her little friends waved goodbye and one of them said, "You better get home so you can curl Mila's hair!" I took this as a cue that Mila had plans for some special primping before her concert and I was happy to oblige. She chose a blue twirly dress, I gave her soft curls, and she finished off her look with a single bracelet. She considered a necklace, but decided against it because, "that would too dazzling." Then she was ready to go and could hardly contain her excitement as I dropped her off with her sweet teacher, Mrs. Peters, and her adorable little class.
If I had to guess, I have a feeling we might have a performer on our hands. Mila was most definitely in her element up on that stage. Her little high-pitched voice carried loud and clear and every time her teacher gave them the cue to sing louder, she just sang louder! She smiled so proudly, sat with her chin on her hands and watched the other classes perform, and did her best to keep up with all the actions when it was her time to shine again. I loved her confidence and pride, her big smile, the way she put her nose in the air and breathed in Jesus during the song, Every Move I Make, and the way she grabbed the sides of her dress and swayed a little as the audience clapped big. There are few things in life sweeter than watching little lights shine bright and sing big for God. I can't wait to show Mila these videos years from now and see just who God has made her to be.