"Scripture instructs us to live presently and joyfully, resisting worry and believing Jesus set us free for freedom's sake. We have an abundance of good and perfect gifts that often look like a messy house full of laughter, a ten-year-old running through a sprinkler, a heart unburdened by comparison, an afternoon nap, joy in using our gifts and leaving the rest to people better suited. Our generation is so hamstrung with striving and guilt, we no longer recognize God's good and perfect gifts starting us in the face."
Jen Hatmaker, For the Love
At the IF conference a few weeks ago, one of my favorite pieces of scripture we explored was John 15:5: "I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing." The speakers talked about a vine, and that it literally wraps itself around a branch and clings to it until it would seem as if they were one thing. And through that process, the vine and branches grow fruit or flowers, oftentimes beautiful and eye-catching blooms that draw us in. But Jen Hatmaker spoke and warned us about focusing so much on the fruit, that we forget the source of that fruit. Our gifts fail to bring glory to Him if we make them about us.
I am guilty of this often, getting so caught up in myself, that I fail to recognize God through the big and small gifts in everyday life. But the more I acknowledge this weakness, the more I see Him pruning away at my shortcomings, allowing me to see the light through all that unnecessary muck. It's a hard thing to do, but the more time I find to read a few pages in a good book, or talk to a friend, or weave simple indulgences into the daily grind of my day, like fresh lemon slices in my water or a new lipstick heading out the door, the more I feel myself recognizing the abundance of good that surrounds me.
I'm bringing back my good things posts, for they serve as reminders of the simple and beautiful things in this season. One last February post - we made it through these winter months and now it's time for spring!
219. Orchard Hill Dance Party. We took the kids last Friday night and they had a blast. I love that our church is young enough to see the importance of transforming our community center into a dance party, asking one of our worship leaders to play DJ for the night, and giving little kids the space to run and dance and drink way too many glasses of lemonade while their parents talked and laughed and planned what we were going to do after all our children crashed in their beds.
Mila wore her dancing skirt and piggy tails and found more enjoyment eating popcorn than dancing. Cruz ran lap after lap in the gym, before connecting with his buddy, Jaxon at the foosball table.
220. Mila's soft pink room and all the sweet little details that fill her window bench
221. My new recipe box from Rifle Paper Co., and my recent quest to gather all my favorite recipes and get them on paper in one, pretty place. In this Pinterest day and age, I sometimes shudder at the thought of not having handwritten recipes to pass on to my kids. So I'm collecting my favorites, writing them out with sweet notes in the margins, smiling as I recall the stories that accompany each recipe recorded.
222. Speaking of recipes, thanks to my friend Kate and her periodic "PSA" texts, we had a week of free meals to try from Plated. We scheduled them for the week leading up to Valentine's Day and had so much fun pretending we were sous chefs and trying something completely new. We had roasted chicken with brussel sprouts and home fries, spaghetti marinara with ricotta meatballs, and fried green tomato po'boys with a creamy remoulade and roasted sweet potatoes. They were delicious, and it was so nice to not have to worry about meal planning and groceries for a week.
223. And speaking of Kate, I got to spend a half day with one of my favorite women and her precious family a few Sundays ago. We spent a good part of the day gathered around the table, passing egg casserole, fresh fruit, and blue-eyed baby Drew, and afterwards, curled up on the couch with endless cups of coffee, and caught up on life, travel, parenting and Fixer Upper, and I never wanted the morning to end. It's so easy doing life with these people and I am so thankful for our friendship.
224. Facetime. We made good use of this app last week while I was in Vegas for a work conference. Our first afternoon, we found some time to sit by the pool and it was fun to give the kids a live peek at my digs for the week. Technology has allowed us to stay so close, and I love getting to see their sweet faces every day I'm gone.
225. Chocolate milk breaks (and mustaches to go with it).
226. Fresh greens, homemade dressing stored in weck jars, and pretty napkins gifted from my mom.
227. Big girl cups of hot cocoa and favorite pink sweatshirts with pockets.
228. Our home, exactly one year later
229. A watercolor banner, with a pennant painted by each of us.
230. Lego builds by Cruz, and that little barrette in Mila's hair.