devotionals

I like being alive.

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I like reminding myself that my life is full of very, very good things.

I like that pictures make me see my life at a single moment, capturing details I didn’t necessarily intend, but that become part of the treasure when I look later.

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This week, I intentionally kept my camera a little closer.  Just for fun.  Just to see what I capture.

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And as much as I like pictures that capture big milestones….

those moments are generally easy to remember.

I like photographing moments that might otherwise be forgotten.

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I like how my kids remind me to cherish those little glances.

Those little giggles.

Those little teeth that poke out from little gums.

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Time changes little people so fast.

I like how my little people help me slow down long enough to remind myself, “Hey, I like (most of) these little moments that make up my life.”

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It’s busy.

My house is messy.

Things are crazy.

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But my 3 year old who squeals with delight when I tell her yes, she can help me make a smoothie (for the 10th day in a row) will one day be a freshman in college,

or at her first day at a new job,

or….

gulp….

a mother.

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So when I can, I’m going to slow down just a tiny bit.

Long enough, at least, to take a picture.

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You know the feeling.

You do something.

It feels right.

It feels good.

Then this little question mark brews in your heart and within a matter of moments you’re wondering, “Oh my gosh.  Did I just really mess this thing up?”DSC02961

I am an over thinker.  Unfortunately, not in an intelligent, philosophical way (autocorrect had to fix both of those big word’s spellings for me, which I think proves what I’m saying is true.)  No no, more like a “girl, get over yourself and turn the sensitivity down a notch” way.

Like the Sara Groves lyrics below, I am a second guess girl.

Is it time for a speech or for silence,
Are you calling for peace or defiance?
Is this darkening counsel or wisdom,
Are we all perpetrators or victims?

Are we companions of Job or prophets of God,
Are we not of this world or just painfully odd?
Is it time for free grace or tough love,
Or a little of all the above?

It’s a hard world for a second guess girl.

(Lyrics from the song Second Guess Girl by Sara Groves)

So what is the remedy for these wrestling matches of the heart?

I’m not at all pretending to have this figured out, but for me, the answer feels two-fold.

Part of it is surrendering that there will always be more unanswered questions than answers.  And that’s ok.

Faith requires times of trust, or by its definition it would be something else.  As a human trying to do the best I can in this world, I have to expect for myself there will be times I wonder if I’ve acted in wisdom or just done something really stupid.  Part of life is learning to exist peacefully with ourselves when we’re not 100% sure of ourselves, and something beautiful happens when we whisper, “You know what?  I don’t know, and I might never know, so I’m just going to let this go.”DSC02921

And secondly, I’m brought back to that simple truth of who I am.

My focus doesn’t need to be on my uncertainty–did I do what God wanted?  Did I offend her by the way I worded that?  Did I miss a great opportunity by staying silent?  My focus instead can be on the God who is loving me through all of my moments–you know, the God who knew me and planned for me long before I stepped foot on this earth.  I am certain that I am loved.  I am certain that just as God adores his son Jesus, I have been adopted into the family of God and by his grace and mercy alone, I am his child, too.  I am not God and I’m not attaining to become a god; I’m just your average second guess girl who loves and is loved by God.  And let’s be honest.  This is all kinds of awesome.

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When I think of baby Jesus in the manger and the great love that sent him to earth, I’m reminded that in part, it was love for me that brought Jesus here.  I am a daughter of God, adopted and grafted into a family tree that I rejoice to be a permanent part of.

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Yes, it was love that put Jesus in the womb, in the manger, and on the cross, so that today and every day we could lay our insecurities, uncertainties, remorse over sinful tendencies, and all our various stinky baggage aside and admit that our crap, quite frankly, doesn’t stack up to much in comparison to the cold, hard truth of Whose we are, because of Christ.  Faith and trust are required to believe this, yes, and even more so to loosen our grip on the things that don’t matter much.  But in the words of the wonderfully wise Brennan Manning, “Trust is our gift back to God.”

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May trust be our gift to God this Christmas, and merry, merry Christmas, from me and mine to you and yours.

Let’s be honest, I’m not exactly thrilled about the wrinkles under my eyes or the not-so-perfect-alignment of my once perfectly straight teeth.Ashworth-81

Alas, we are all in the process of getting older, and lately I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned in those colorful years that are now sweet memories in scrapbooks and iPhoto albums.  My ponderings produced this list of things I would tell my younger self if someone gave me the ability to go back in time and give her a few good nuggets of advice.

The list is not meant to be preachy.  It is directed to myself, after all.  :)  And trust me, it’s based on the things I wish I’d done differently….plus a few things I can say, by the grace of God, I’ve managed to not be terrible at.

What I would tell my younger self….

This post is dedicated to GW with love.

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 Be a fan.  

There will be people in your life who really go out on a limb and pour their heart into a dream–writing a book, pursuing a music career, having lots of kids, or starting a business.  Be the friend who “likes” their Facebook page, leaves customer reviews on their business website, and pre-orders their book or album.  Give to their kickstarter campaigns and babysit their kids.  Be a fan.  We all need encouragement and small gestures change people’s lives.

Just say no.

To drugs, sure, but also sometimes to people.  ;)  You don’t have to nurture relationships with every human who wants one with you–some relationships are unhealthy, unsustainable, just for a season, or simply not meant to be.  You don’t have to stay in touch with old boyfriends.  You don’t have to say yes to everyone who asks of you.

Assume the best in people.

If you don’t know someone’s intentions, assume the best of them until you have concrete evidence otherwise.  We all have different ways of communicating and people often don’t realize how they’re being perceived.  Assume the best.

On conflicts…

When a conflict arises with someone, seriously consider confronting her.  If you are not willing to confront, then do not gripe about the unresolved issue (even if that griping is just to yourself) since YOU decided not to try to resolve it.  If you decide not to confront her, don’t expect her to change;  you’ve got to own up to your decision and work on yourself–what are YOU going to do to handle this situation in a healthy way?  Or maybe you decide it IS worth addressing with the other person in hopes of better understanding each other–that is awfully hard to do but also gives the other person a fair chance to explain.  Yes, it can be awkward, but it can also bring healing and not only save the relationship but even strengthen it.

On boys and sex…

For some reason the world makes it look like everybody is sleeping with lots of people and it’s normal and awesome.  I can’t say from experience that that lifestyle is not awesome, but nothing could be more awesome than no STDs, no giving your body away to someone who wasn’t really committed and oops-changed his mind, and marrying someone who practiced self-control while waiting for you and brings that same integrity and devotion to your marriage.  God can redeem anything, but you will never regret doing things God’s way.

Buy a cheap pocket calendar…

and jot down a note every few days of something you wouldn’t normally record.  Just little every day things that brought a laugh or made you think.  In a few years, the calendar will bring back details you otherwise never would have thought about again.  You can also write notes to your hubby (or anyone!) about silly things that happen and give the calendar to him a few years later.

“Today you ran over my foot with your car.”

(Yes, my husband ran over my foot with his car).    :)

Give freely.

That little tug on your heart to give something away means you should probably just do it.  It’s amazing how God honors the cheerful giver.  Letting go of stuff, including money, is also a great practice in reminding yourself that it’s not really yours anyways, and things don’t have any eternal value.

Keep it or pitch it.

It’s insane how much CRAP you can accumulate in life.  Where does it all come from?!  When you move to a new place, you will be glad you didn’t hold onto every little thing.  But some things really are worth holding onto, so establish a super easy place to put things you want to keep forever, and be in the constant practice of asking, “What are the chances I’m ever going to need or want this again?”  Slim?  Dump it.

Read….

– A book about breastfeeding before you have a baby.

– The Bible, every day that you can.  You can even set little rules for yourself that are just between you and God as a way of showing him he comes before anything else.  No Instagram unless you’ve read your Bible, for example.

– “Ruthless Trust” by Brennan Manning.

Marry…..

– someone who is going to be a really, really good dad.

– someone who handles conflict well.  Misunderstandings, tensions, and some fighting are all going to be a part of your married life no matter who you marry.  Watch carefully how your boyfriend handles problems when they come.  Does he avoid?  Downplay?  Blame?  Scream?  Or does he want to work through it lovingly, deepening your relationship and building your trust?  Now you work on being a person who handles conflict like that, too.

– someone who has a track record of self-control.  We live in a “if you feel it then do it” world.  You want to be married to someone who isn’t going to do everything they might feel like doing in a given moment (flirting with someone who isn’t their wife, for example), and someone who does some things they don’t feel like doing.  (Laundry, anyone?)

Take spending breaks…

 on home decorations (or whatever you tend to spend your dough on.)  Look at what you already own and haven’t put up in your home yet.  Either put it all into use or get rid of it before you buy more.  There will always be more things to buy.  A buying break is also a great reminder that it’s all just stuff and you could go without it.

Establish a day that is your Sabbath.  

This doesn’t have to mean you kick up your feet and veg all day, but keep the day holy by refraining from engaging in certain kinds of work that you know you need rest from.  Make it the day in the week you intentionally try to do something you enjoy and remind yourself that God is good while you do it.

Don’t think life *really* starts later…

….after high school, once you’re in college, once you’re in a serious relationship,  once you’re in a great career, once you’re married, etc.

If you’re alive, life has begun.  God has good things for you wherever you are, and some of those good things won’t be there, or they’ll change, once you get to that next step.

Wear your retainer.

Just wear it.

Be honest.

 It’s such a peaceful way to exist.

Ask for career help.  

If you’re going to pursue a hard-to-get-into career, you need help.  You need to seek people to mentor you, bounce ideas off you, critique you, and pray for you.  Be brave and just ask.

Listen to older people.

Their history is a gift to you, and you listening is a gift to them.  And one day, you will be all reflective and want to share some of your wisdom with younger people, too.   You might even write a blog post about it.  ;)

Leaving a comment is easy (and rewarding!)  Which of these ideas was most interesting to you?  What would you tell your younger self?

One lucky commenter will receive a hand-picked goodie bag from me!  Winner randomly selected July 10th, 2015.

I have a confession to make.  As much as I really do love Christmas, I find it difficult, every year, to really and truly make the holiday about Jesus.  There is just so much going on–some of  it Jesus-related, most of it not–and in reflection, I’ve realized I rarely feel closest to Jesus in December.  I give you a lame birthday party, Jesus, and I am sorry for that.

Now my thoughts turn to Easter.

Easter editedThe Easter bunny, God bless him, just doesn’t feel as distracting as Santa, does he?  I enjoy that Easter candy comes in small eggs rather than the large, wrapped presents of Christmas.  I enjoy that the Easter bunny keeps a peaceful distance and normally deposits his goodies in my back yard versus Santa’s secret intrusion into my house.  I enjoy that in the midwest, we are anticipating and waiting for a break from the cold as we contemplate the darkness of sin while we wait for our Savior to abolish it.  And to be honest, who doesn’t love a bunny?  I love that the Easter bunny is a bunny.  

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Palm leaves folded into crosses make for a snazzy seasonal touch in my living room.

Easter feels like a quieter time.  No big office Easter party.  No Easter cards being made on Shutterfly with expedited shipping to hopefully get them out on time.  Maybe we should fault our culture for not celebrating Easter with more pazazz, but I’m actually seeing a major plus here.  Without the distractions of lights and trees and getting our houses ready for the big Christmas Eve dinner, maybe there will actually be time to sit with Jesus and hear the story God so wholly invites us to interact with and understand.

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Pretty much in love with my Palm Sunday palm branch tacked to the wall.

I have another confession.

 As I read from the book of Matthew today about the events leading up to his death, there were details that I had forgotten about.  Judas’ suicide hit me with a new sting.  An earthquake, rocks splitting, tombs opening–wow–such drama.  I heard the crowds saying “crucify” and Jesus surrendering to a fate he would never have chosen for himself.  I found myself saying “It’s almost too much” out loud.  Reading how the most loving man was treated in the most horrific way is almost too much for me.

While my eyes well as I type this even now, I am grateful for the ability to feel something when I read the Easter story, because it is perhaps the most beautiful, dark, hope-inducing and mind blowing story I can think of.  And, frankly, it’s a lot more interesting than the Christmas story.

It’s not too late to have a heart that’s ready to celebrate Easter this Sunday.  I invite you to prepare by refreshing yourself with what really happened in the days leading up to the great Christian holiday.  I think you’ll be glad to interact with the story before Sunday, and I think you’ll be glad to interact with it straight from the Bible itself.

This is where you could start:

Matthew 26:14-75
and
Matthew 27:1-66

This is not a post about how I secretly write songs all the time.  Or about how I’m not a confident singer and don’t have the musical ability to really do anything with them.  Both are true.

Also, the song at the end isn’t really about plumbing.  Sorry, that part’s only half true.

When my husband was my boyfriend, he wanted me to sing for him.  It was not an outrageous request, but I refused for a long, long time to even sing along to the radio with him in the car.  I was very guarded with my voice, and for a long time I didn’t know why.  I’m not sure I’ve landed on the full answer, but I know part of the reason is because it would hurt so terribly much to be told “you’re not that good.”  So singing and songwriting became something I did only for myself.  Because my self was safe and I really liked that.

Loving someone is never a safe thing to do.  Because I love my husband so much, he is the one human with the potential to hurt me more than anyone else.  Yet, real love, and I don’t just mean romantic love, but real, honest-to-goodness selfless, serving, grace and mercy filled love, brings out the best in people.

Ben Ashworth, your love has certainly brought out the best in me.  Every time I hum in the kitchen, sing to our daughter, or leave my song lyrics laying out openly in the house, you have the proof.  True love casts out fear, and I have never been so fearless about being myself than when I’m with you.

This is not a full song, or poem, or really anything that great to be honest.  It’s just my scribblings from the past few days that I’m sharing because I’m not afraid to.  And I would like to.  And it’s Valentine’s Day for crying out loud.  ;)

————–

trash bag liners

that never seem to fit,

we’ve called up the plumber

and the leak won’t quit.

little mundane things, drive me insane things.

Would i trade you in for another one?

no.

Would i cry every day if God forbid you would go?

yes.

i know

it can sound cliche.

These are the good old days.

wherever you are, wherever i am

you’ve got my heart and i’ll hold your hand.

thank you

thank you

thank God for you.

we dream of changing some

and throwing some away,

but these are the good old days.

we’re living in the good old days.

smile at my wrinkles

laugh at bad jokes.

tell me ‘bout Cali

growing up with your folks.

two plumbers and our sink still drips

two wedding bands mean we’re not calling it quits

mugs on the counter

toys on the floor,

God knows I love clean

but I love you more.

Let’s talk

Let’s walk around our house

and say

thank you

thank you

house, we thank God for you.

spouse, I thank God for you.

tear drops on pillows,

prayers while we’re breaking.

confession and frowning,

deeper love in the making.

Water still dripping from the damned kitchen sink

But Water can wash us more than we think.

so we dance on the egg shells

while walking on stilts.

accusing is killing,

laughter rebuilds.

Our years tell our stories,

the stories amaze,

And these are the good old days.

Thank God for you

in these good, good days.

This story hasn’t stopped percolating in my heart since I heard it.  Enjoy and be blessed by the experience a friend of mine had recently…..

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I was honored to meet a woman from our church today who I wish could preach a sermon to us all. She told me she was supposed to die of cancer years ago, but here she still is today…

She used to be such an active woman and would use her hobbies to connect with people and share her faith, but for the past few years she’s been confined to her home as the disease has taken its toll. “What good am I, Lord? I can’t do anything.” She moped, she felt sorry for herself….but then God told her “Are you done complaining, yet? You can still write to people and call them on the phone, encourage them.” So she told me she repented of her complaining – she with terminal cancer – and started finding purpose in her limitations.

Then, a while later, she really thought she was going to die with just months left to live.  Her eyes lit up as she told me, “I decided to have a big party and give away EVERYTHING so I could enjoy watching people have so much fun with it all!” She cut her wardrobe down to just a few pieces of clothing. She gave away decorations and home furnishings. She gave away all her jewelry and favorite things to ladies she knew would love them. “I had so much FUN – it was just a delight to give away all my stuff and see people enjoy it.”

But now, she’s lived much longer than expected and she laughed at the fact she is still wearing the same few clothes, in a pretty bare house, and Christmas is coming but she already gave all her Christmas decorations away.

In tears, she told me how her view of God has changed so much.  I asked her what she meant and she said “Now, I know He just holds me close. And I just want heaven more and more desperately every day.”

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Thank you to this woman for sharing her story with my friend, and thank you so much to the friend who shared it with me.  May we be encouraged to know God is writing beautiful things with our weaknesses, and that in our times of trial, we have the incredible opportunity to more intimately feel Him hold us close.  May we strive for the things of God as desperately and passionately as He strives after us.

There is no doubt about it–I love to decorate.

Anyone remember when I hosted the favorite spaces contest?  I loved peeking in on some of your most inspiring nooks and crannies.

I have recently moved from a one bedroom apartment to a 4 bedroom home!  (Well, 3 bedrooms and an office).  And guess what that means for my babykins?  Her own bedroom!  And guess what that means for me?  Decorating!

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Planning and dreaming and Pinteresting little Daphne’s new room has been a journey–a mini spiritual journey.

 If she is anything like her mother, beauty will matter to her.  

If she is anything like her mother, the way colors and textures complement each other to create atmosphere might be a way she sees God in the world.  

If she is anything like her mother, a vibe will hold the potential for creation, and creation will feel important because it is.

Of course she may grow to be just like her father.  In that case, we’ll scrap all this and tape multiplication tables all over the walls. (Love you, Benny!  Aren’t I super funny?)

It’s kind of odd designing a room for a child whose taste you haven’t yet discovered.  So in my mind, decorating her room became a call to share with her some inspiration of things I hope for her.  The journey launched when I really started thinking about what it is I want to say to my daughter.  What do I want her to know?  In five years she might want a Cinderella theme or a puppy dog theme or a Winnie the Pooh theme but right now I get to pick the style of room she falls asleep in every night and drags toys around in during the day…..

I Pinterested as I thought about it.

Check out this charming, beautifully organized space….

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{via thebooandtheboy.com}

I became infatuated with the idea of a teepee or tent and the play that could happen there….

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{via mycakies.com}

My love for vintage was confirmed…..

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{via modernkiddo.com}

I realized simple is wonderful….

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And I just plain smiled when I saw this….

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My time of reflecting and pondering Daphne’s room kept coming back to one word.

a.d.v.e.n.t.u.r.e.

Not necessarily with periods between each letter but I felt like that added pizazz to the reveal.

Since Daphne was first born, I’ve found myself mentioning adventure to her quite a bit.  Often when we leave the house I’ll ask, “Do you want to go on an adventure?”  And let me tell you what–she always wants to!  That girl loves to get out and about.

I hope for my daughter the ability to see life as a playground.  I hope she comes to know Christ died for freedom.  That she embraces the attitude of an adventurous spirit.  It takes an active sort of bravery to see the good and assume the best in people, but I hope Daphne finds it to be a most rewarding way to live.

Being pregnant with D and bringing her into the world–adventure.

Life with a baby, a new house, and balancing work, rest, and play–adventure.

Walking with God….all the places he’s led me…..Hope College, Africa, the world of Chicago theatre, becoming a wife–ultra adventure.

I’m not adventurous in the ways of extreme camping or risky stunts, but I think adventure is an attitude.  To me, adventure means there is good to be done out there if you dare to go for it.  It means that yes, there will be trying times of uncertainty but those challenges are not without purpose or hope.  Sometimes adventure is dreaming big and working hard, other times it’s showing grace and playing hard.  And….other times….it’s accepting that life isn’t what you thought it’d be….and saying well…that’s ok…..it’s an adventure!

So, I’m looking around for adventure-y ideas….

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{via jenniferrizzo.com}

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{via aldariart.etsy.com}

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{via ChildrenInspire}

And I can’t wait to reveal the before and afters of her room very soon!  

Thank you, as always for reading.

Keep it foolish!

Does this ever happen to you?

A somewhat minor event in my life will, for whatever reason, be repeatedly brought to my mind.  I have two of these little stories floating around  in my head, and lucky you, you get to hear them!

#1.  This story makes me look rather dumb, but I still think it’s a good one.  After church I was chatting with a friend and the topic of our conversation moved to his wife.  I knew the two of them had three kids and the man’s wife was a registered nurse, but I was curious if she was currently working as an RN or was a stay at home mom.  I asked, “Does your wife work?” to which he responded, without pause or hesitation, “Yes, she works at home.  She works hard every day.”

In print that may read like he was shaming me for posing the question so poorly.  Yeah, I felt pretty unintelligent, but his delivery was nothing but kind and sincere.  Even more so than a shout out to the labor-intensive work of being a stay at home parent (whoop whoop!), what has really stuck with me is the opportunity he took to build up his wife.  He jumped at the chance to praise the work she does, no matter that she wasn’t within earshot.  How powerful and important–I love it.

#2.  Recently a girlfriend of mine preached at our church.  I had the privilege of sitting at just the right angle to see her husband’s profile as she spoke.  The few times I glanced in his direction throughout the sermon, he was simply beaming at her.  You could almost see rays of pride radiating from him.  I had to smile–I found it so encouraging that his support was silent, yet so visible.

As a married person, I frequently pray for my single friends, wanting them to experience this nifty institution called marriage if it’s God’s plan for them.  But single people, will you please pray for the married folk, too?  There are attacks on marriages right and left, and we need help remembering to jump at opportunities to support each other with words (….she works hard every day….) and deed (….supportive smiles from the sidelines).

It’s hard to be married.

And please believe me, I know it’s hard to be single.  I remember.

I guess it’s just hard to be alive.

So everybody just pray for everybody, ya hear?  ;)

There’s the pattering of little feet after we ring our friends’ doorbell;  we’re saying “hi” loudly so the family’s two elementary-aged boys can hear us through the door, and, I’m sure like all good brothers would, there is a short-lived fight over who gets to open the door for us.

The boys are happy to see me and my husband, but the big delight for them comes from saying hi to our little five month old baby who is tucked under an owl hat.

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The boys kind of think she’s the cat’s pajamas and I kind of love it.

At one point during our lovely dinner visit, I had to remove some bird beanie babies from Daphne’s lap so I could pick her up.  The boys’ mom said, “Oh, those are the boys’ favorite toys!”  And because I’m a first time and forever emotional mom, my heart swelled.  Aww….they wanted to share their best toys with my pumpkin.

Then there was the real highlight of the evening when the six year old boy reveals a handwritten list he wants to show us.  “These are the babies I pray for” he says.  There are 12 babies on the list and the dad goes on to explain that his boys just love babies–the idea for the prayer list was completely their own.

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I glanced at the paper–my little honey bunch is right at the top.  :)

And that’s it.  I mean, that’s pretty much all there is to the story.  These two energetic, adorable little boys who love all things Star Wars, video games, and karate, want to pray for and share their favorite beanie babies with my helpless, not-able-to-play-back, little girl.

And it just makes me think….

if there is perhaps no better, more direct way for someone to speak love to me than to be good and loving towards my daughter….

then how must God feel when we are good to each other?  After all, we share this planet with His children.  Light bulb on, I tell ya!

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When considering the “love your neighbor as yourself” Biblical passage, I’ve always taken away that I should love others extravagantly.  Now I’m kinda like…. huh….let’s think about the person receiving the kindness I choose to extend.  It must bring God deep joy when He sees one of His sons or daughters receive good things because he is this person’s father!  Of course His heart is moved to see His child well cared for; he is crazy about this person and did everything on Calvary to win the heart of this person!  He is a Dad!

My neighbor, to me, is my neighbor;  to God, “my neighbor” is His baby.  His child.  Offspring thoughtfully knit in a womb and masterfully designed and loved.

Whether the child is 6 months new, 12 years old, or the stinky old gent at the grocery store, I wanna love every child I see today.  And–I think I’m going to pray for some babies.

To my dear blog followers and friends, hello!  How in the world ARE you?!

First, I want to thank you for reading and following Foolish for Light.

So here’s the deal:

After 9 months of playing music for my tummy….

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…..washing itsy baby socks and taking pictures of it because what else can you do when you are more excited than you’ve ever been??…..

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…..dreaming with this guy about all the fun baby items in the world….

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…..and kicking my feet back while letting everyone take care of the big pregnant lady…..

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…..after 9 months of all that, by the grace of God, my husband and I somehow ended up with THIS:

SONY DSCIf you aren’t smiling you clearly have no soul.  ;)

I Foolishly hope and Foolishly anticipate you will continue to journey beside me as the blog goes off maternity leave.  

(In Backstreet Boys style….the Blog. Is. Back.  ALRIGHT!)

I am SO EXCITED to begin breathing life into Foolish for Light again.  And, even though I paused from the blog, kinda without telling you, I am going to be rather bold and ask for the prodigal son experience here.  Will you please take me back into your life?  Your inbox?  Your Facebook feed?

We have good things in store, my friends!  Giveaways?  10 Minute Snippets?  Silly posts, thoughtful posts, encouragement, and random goodness?  Yes, yes. Yes! {yes} Yeeeeep.

The blog is back, true!  But– not quite the same.  Hmmm?  Because I am not quite the same.

I am a mother now so think gray hair, lots of wisdom, no makeup or sleep or sense of fashion.  ;)  Ouch…that sense of fashion one was too far.  But seriously, I am different than when I penned my last post.  God has refreshed my heart with a desire to be more real.  Less polished.  Less perfect.

Over Christmas I found myself articulating to my sister-in-law that in order to keep blogging with my part-time job and a new baby, I’m going to have to give up some of my perfectionistic tendencies.

Then, in a church meeting last week, my friend Greg mentioned how a person could start a blog with the intent of sharing the gospel and then, after some time, find that while her motives were good in the beginning, now she’s more focused on presentation.  (He didn’t say she, he was speaking hypothetically but God was definitely speaking to me through him!)  Now “she” wants to be careful with every little thing she shares on social media because she wants people to like her.  The blog must look a certain way.  She wants to gain followers.  She wants to be admired.

Has the goal of my blogging become looking cool and clever?   I have to admit in the past I’ve almost felt guilty for not getting the pictures or text of a post just right–I get a little paralyzed wanting to be perfect.  So it makes a girl wonder, why am I doing the things that I do?  So I can sit quietly at home and think, “Yeah, everyone thinks I’m great?” 

It is a small but meaningful victory every time we affirm that our labor and efforts are for His pleasure, not a “great job!” ringing in our ears.  Whether it’s a blog, volunteer work, paid work, or the activity we carry out as fathers, mothers, coworkers, and friends–what’s the why behind what we do?  

A people-pleaser to the core, I learn time and time again that there is great FREEDOM when we give our best for God’s benefit, seeking only His approval (not people’s) and a right relationship with him.  With our eyes fixed on benefitting Jesus, any consequences that end up benefitting ourselves are just gravy.  Yummy, yummy, gluten-free gravy.

So, moving forward, my pictures might not be edited.  Because this blog isn’t really about pictures.

Moving forward, the blog might have lapses of bad spelling because I’m busy, or operating on no sleep.  This blog isn’t really about me looking suave and all educated and stuff.

You might not won’t get perfect from me, but if you choose to hang in there with me on Foolish for Light, you will definitely get me.  I don’t know if that’s good enough for you, but I smile remembering that somehow I am enough for God.

Here’s to keeping the main thing the main thing.  And Lord, I love you.  You know I do.  This is and always has been for You.

Your support means a lot to me.  Consider subscribing?

 

I’m long past the days of crossing my arms like a punk and declaring I’m nothing like my parents.  I’m just gonna say it–I am a lot like my parents!

During my last visit home, I recognized myself in my father’s tenderheartedness as his eyes brimmed with emotion while talking about his joy for Ben and my happiness.

mom laughing(Of course, looking at this picture, I’m also reminded of how cool we both are.)

I saw myself in my mother’s gift of hospitality as she had the house perfect for Ben and my arrival and, like always, had the fridge stocked with our favorite foods and drinks.

IMG_0015

Like my dad, I’m a crier.

Like my mom, I’m a gift-giver.

There’s no way I could be a product of my particular parents and also not end up a people-person.

People.  To God, they’re just a smidge lower than the heavenly beings.

People.  Of all His great handiwork, people are what He chose to save.

People. The unique creation formed in God’s very image.  And as I’ve grappled with, “K….what does it mean to be made in God’s image?” something weird has started happening.

I see God in people.

Now, it’s not very often I converse with myself in the mirror and say, “Man you’re lookin’ like God today.”  (Although I do seem to converse with myself a lot in mirrors….and then take pictures of it.  Anyways…..)  More commonly, I notice and dwell on the parts of me that still need so much work–and I scoff.scoffing

(Clearly this is how we all look scoffing, right?  Or perhaps this is just an already-taken picture I  thought might sort of work right here even though what I’m actually doing is lovin’ on my new dress and baby bump.  Can’t say for sure.)

So there’s two extremes, right?  On one end, we’ve got people acting like they are God incarnate and demanding they be treated like royalty.  On the other end, we’ve got Christians who are so focused on their shortcomings and constant sinfulness that they are completely blinded to the good attributes God has borrowed from His own image and gifted to them.

The beautiful, sobering truth applies to both parties.  It’s beautiful that God calls us loved, hand-crafted, and his very own children.  Sobering because we are not capable of obtaining any of those characteristics on our own.

Any good thing in us, and there are many in each of us, exists because the Lord shared part of His image with us.  Intelligence.  Compassion.  Perseverance.  Loyalty.  Any good attribute a person can have, does God not also fully encompass in his character?  A person’s gift or bend may not be perfectly honed, but the goodness exists because God shared part of himself in the human design.

Let me be clear:  my encouragement is not that I think humankind is mostly good, but that God helps individuals like you and I learn to radiate His good qualities.  He made us in His image.  We are capable of great acts of love.

In my friend Stephanie, I see how God has shared a heaping portion of his wisdom.  She is so good at listening to people’s stories and offering insightful, spot-on advice.  She reminds me God is a listener, a coach, and a counselor.

*

My friend Gloria recently shared that she is passionate about being an awesome mom.  She said, “I think about it all the time.”  Hearing her verbalize this and seeing it played out in her life makes my heart glow:  I see a trace of God in her passion for parenting.  That is an attribute that she shares with God, the ultimate Father and caregiver.

*

My sister is such a friend to me, through and through.  She reminds me that God is family, yet also extends friendship.  She reveals in my life how much I need and crave relationship–with God and with others.

*

Kenny is a laid-back, mostly quiet man who is a serious worker for the Lord.  I recently learned that he is the volunteer maintenance man for our church who performs most of the thankless, unseen tasks that keep our church functioning.  Kenny reminds me that Jesus was not flashy and the servant life of a Christian should stem from a desire to give back to the one who has given us so much.

*

My husband is intelligent, calculated, planned, and organized.  (Confirmation that opposites attract!)  While I experience as much emotion in a day as some do in a lifetime, Ben reminds me that the Lord is also decisive, He creates and follows plans, and He is a sturdy rock, unmoved by circumstances and wavering feelings.

And so I turn back to the mirror.

thinking with cameraI even see a little bit of God in….(gulp)….myself.  It honestly kind of freaks me out.

He is after all a creator.  He’s kind.  He loves children.  He’s a storyteller.  And, I personally think that God is even a little emotional–has there ever been a parent more enraged by his children’s waywardness or who has gone to greater, more dramatic heights to bring them home?

I encourage you to close your eyes or turn off your monitor for a minute and just praise God that you are what you are.  Go ahead.  :)  Think about it….where are His fingerprints in you?

Are you creative?

 

Do you have a heart for justice?

 

Are you naturally nurturing?

 

Are you slow to give up?

 

Are you physically strong?

 

Do you have compassion for those around you?

 

Can you easily see the big picture?

 

Are you detail oriented?

 

Jesus was the only person capable of encompassing all of God’s attributes in human form, but we each bear the DNA, the likeness, some traceable similarity to our creative, justice-loving, lamb-tending, persevering, mighty, compassionate, working to tell a big-picture story while intricately involved in every detail God.

We are a divine mishmash of both of our parents’ natures, the nurture we’ve received, and the brush strokes of God.

I think we bring glory to God when we recognize that we are a good part of creation because God says we are, and it’s not US that makes us good, it’s God’s saying so that makes it true.

Beautiful.

Sobering.

Rejoice, my friend.  You are a child of God.  Adopted because of His great love and loved just like you are.

{Hi!}

I was lying in bed the other morning as my husband Ben was beginning to get ready for work.

owl in bed

From the hallway he said something really nice.  It was as simple as, “How are you doing?  You know I just love you so much.”

Saying something warm is not unlike my husband, but my response was a little unlike me.

The next thought in my head as I lay there smiling was–I wonder if there are any errands I can run for him today.

This is not a huge shocker of a story, ladies and gentleman, but let me finish.  When I had this thought enter my head about offering to do errands, I was extremely aware that the thought happened because he had acted lovingly to me first.

We tend to fall into cycles in relationships, and this is especially so in marriages.  We are reactive in nature, and one person’s kindness naturally fuels something positive from the other.  One person’s respect tends to fuel something positive from the other.

Trouble comes when we show love or respect hoping to get a nice gesture in return.  That isn’t really love…that’s something selfish.  We also run into problems when the cycle we’re on isn’t one of treating each other well, but instead we feel we were treated poorly so we respond by treating the other poorly.

In our reactive nature, it’s counterintuitive to respond to what we perceive as unkindness….with kindness.  Yet, it is this choice to love and respect someone when we feel wronged than can change…well…everything.

Ugly cycles of mean behavior fueling mean behavior can suddenly morph into beautiful cycles of redemption and forgiveness when one person recognizes what’s happening and chooses kindness although kindness may not be deserved.  Of course we tend to hope our partner will be the first to break the nasty cycle, when Christ actually asks kindness of us, no matter what our circumstance, for one short, sweet, simple reason:

We Love Because

What a lovely verse!

 Making the choice to love is powerful because it is Christ-like.  It can turn cycles of bitterness upside down.  It can be the light in someone’s dark patch.  It can change someone’s day or world–maybe your own.

These ideas are much better explained in the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs; I am thrilled to be giving away a copy. 

win love and respect

This blog post only scratches the surface at the type of insight you’ll gain from Love and Respect which does a pretty brilliant job of outlining what men and women want and need in marriage.  Win it for yourself or gift it to your engaged or married friends.

 

The winner will be notified March 23rd.  Good luck!


I actively avoid cliche.

I do not enjoy doing things like most people do them.

I value unique more than the average person;  I’d rather not do a thing than do it like everyone else.

For these reasons, I have struggled with writing a “Happy New Year post.”  The holiday comes each year–has it all been said before?  Resolutions….getting organized….starting fresh….

Does anyone honestly want to know what my New Years resolution is?  Does anyone really keep New Years resolutions?

I don’t really care to add to the noise with a rant on new beginnings that 2013 promises to bring.

So I’m sounding kind of cynical and negative, right?  Actually, I’m feeling the opposite.

I think people get geeked for the New Year because it’s a fresh start.  It’s exciting to think we’ll make changes to our lifestyles.  It feels comforting to put the past behind us and open ourselves up to something new.

It seems to me that what’s offered to us every New Year is actually available to us every day.

Whether resolutions stick or are abandoned, Jesus Christ lived and died to provide a fresh start for the sinners He loves.  Any moment of the year can be a moment we choose to make changes–you could also call it repenting, turning away from wrong, seeking right.  All year long, there is an open invitation to put the past behind us when we accept God’s forgiveness and let His gift of grace change us.   Something new emerges when we experience sins of scarlet turn white as snow.

We’re a week into January, and maybe your new year is off to a perfect start.  Even if it is, at some point this year, we are bound to fall short–yes?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with embracing the newness and freshness of these first days of a new year.  But knowing our human track record of shortcomings, forgetfulness, and deviation, this January I’m a bit more excited about the future grace in 2013.

The God of the beginning and God of the end is somehow already all over this New Year.  For the first time in a long time, I am making a resolution this year that I have every intention of keeping.

But at the end of the day, my efforts to perform hardly compare with the gift of forgiveness, given by Jesus, which even my greatest efforts could never achieve for me.

  There’s no special magic reserved for the 1st of the year, and I find it rather amazing that despite our obvious inability to conquer and tame our sin, (though we can improve, of course) our sin has been conquered once, by One, and for all.

Through the triumphs and trials, may God be praised in 2013!  With a special heart for redeeming the broken, He is making old things new.  And to that I say…

Happy New Year!

I keep thinking it’s too late to share this story.

That it should be a story I share next summer because the story happened in the summer.

Yet, it’s so mild in Chicago right now, I think I’ve changed my mind about holding onto the story for the summery months.  I’ve only seen a few scattered snowflakes this year and it’s mid-November.  Seriously?  It feels kind of wrong.  And yet SO RIGHT.

So, before it gets too cold to reminisce of the summer, let me tell you:  a funny thing happened at Vacation Bible School this year.

At my church, I got to be part of teaching the VBS children the Bible story each day.

I was particularly moved the day my co-leader and I taught about the gentile Centurian.

Do you know the story from Luke 7?

Jesus entered Capurnum, where there was a gentile Centurian solider whose beloved servant was sick and about to die.

Luke 7 says “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.”

When the gang came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, and Jesus decided to go with them to visit the sick servant.

Jesus was approaching the home of the sick servant when the Centurian sent his friends with a new message for Jesus:  “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.”

I love Ted’s commentary on this Scripture which can be found on HubPages in his article Bible Story:  Jesus and the Centurian’s Servant.  He says, “Jewish law would make Jesus ‘unclean’ for entering the home of a gentile. Implied is the (Centurian’s) humble courtesy of helping Jesus avoid this ritual uncleanness.”

And then the Centurian delivers the real kicker to Jesus:

“But say the word, and my servant will be healed. “

In other words, Ted writes, “you don’t even need to touch him; your voice will carry the healing to him. And your person will not be stained by my uncleanness.”

 Luke 7 continues: When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” (That is, even among the Jews, and this man is a Gentile.  Words in parenthesis are my clarification, not Scripture).

Then the men who had been sent returned to the house….

and found the servant well.

Sometimes I read scripture too fast.  Did you catch that Jesus was amazed by this guy’s faith?  Now there are a million occasions for people to be amazed by Jesus, but the idea of Jesus being amazed by a person’s unwavering faith really gets to me.

So, back to Vacation Bible School.

After taking a blow to the head playing outdoors, I witnessed a boy come inside and cry in a folding chair with an ice-pack on his forehead for quite some time.

He was obviously trying to be brave, working to hold back and quickly wipe away tears, but he couldn’t hide the pain.  Eventually a parent was contacted and the boy went home early.

I’m not going to lie, this kid was adorable, and it’s hard to see cute kids cry!  I felt sad, deeply sad, at the thought of him missing what the Lord might have for him to learn at VBS.  I felt sad knowing he was hurting so badly.  I wanted this week to be such a good experience for him.

That evening I was sitting at home thinking and something clicked.  The faith of the Centurian soldier.  Say the word, Lord, and he will be healed.  Jesus….amazed by someone’s pure faith.

And I prayed.

I prayed as boldly as I know how.  I prayed with as much confidence as I know how to muster.  I asked that this boy be healed.  And as I was praying, I was careful not to test God.  I said, “You don’t have anything to prove to me, Lord.  This isn’t about me getting what I want or feeling like I need to see a miracle.  I come to you believing that, plain and simple, you are the God of miracles.  You are the God of healing, both physical and relational, and probably a million other types of healing.  Hear your daughter….I ask to see this child at VBS tomorrow, Lord.

When I checked my email the next morning before heading to church, a message from the VBS director was waiting in my inbox.  This child has suffered a concussion and is on bed rest. 

Concussion?  Bed rest?  My heart absolutely sank.  I will admit, I probably doubted.  I thought, “Oh no–now what do I do if my faith wasn’t enough?”  Quickly I re-focused.  “No, this is not about me.  This is about God doing what he wants to do, and me trusting that He can do something amazing just by saying the words.”

  I left our apartment whispering, “I trust you Lord.  My faith is not going to waiver because of this news.  I’m still asking to see this boy today at VBS.”

During VBS set-up that morning, I felt like my eyes were glued open.  I was looking for this child.  I was expecting God’s faithfulness, wanting to believe I’d see this child today and trying not to think about what would happen if I didn’t.

Before kicking off the day’s activities, the VBS volunteers circled up to pray.  With eyes closed, we offered the day to the Lord.  With a concluding “Amen” we opened our eyes, and who is standing almost directly across from me in the circle of VBS volunteers?  Yes.  The child with a concussion who is supposed to be on bed rest.  Yes.  He has an enormous smile on his face.

Eyes welled with tears, I listened to him explain that he was feeling so well, his mom decided to let him come to VBS for the first half of the morning.

I know some will read this story and think, “Save that for Chicken Soup for the Soul” or “ever heard of a coincidence?” or “it probably was a very minor concussion.”

And you know what?  I’m fine with you having any of those responses.  You can have any ol’ opinion you want.

For me, this story is a personal one; I know my response.

I am humbled by the reminder that God wants to have a real relationship with me.  He wants to give good things to me.  He wants to take bad things off my back and off my heart.  Because I have a relationship with Jesus, I see this answer to prayer as a sweet part of our ongoing getting-to-know-each-other. It’s such a precious moment when the body is flooded with grace, peace, and goosebumps–almost like I’m tasting again for the first time that God is so real.

It’s kind of amazing to think about it….there’s nothing in God that wouldn’t make Him thrilled to answer our prayers.  (He doesn’t always, if they’re not best for us, but nonetheless He is on our side.)  The deep longings of our heart are extremely important to him.

In revisiting this story again today, I’m reminded that God is in a constant place of wanting to reveal himself to us.  Jesus’ birth was part of moving us closer to God.  His teachings and death were huge parts of it.  And now the Spirit in us and around us is the continuation of God’s dream to have us close by.  He even uses us and our stories of experiencing God’s presence to reveal Himself to others.

God is more powerful than I normally allow him to show himself in my life, and I grieve that thought.  To think of all the times my disbelief and shabby display of faith have hampered the Lord’s work of calling people to Him.  Yuck.

Yet despite my less faithful times, God is loving.  Just as the Bible chronicles the slow, patient story of God revealing His heart to humanity in bite-sized chunks, God is patient and kind with us now.  He doesn’t pressure or force, but in due time we just can’t see answers to prayer as coincidences anymore:  because we know and trust His voice, answers to prayer are evidence that God is still in the business of co-mingling with people.

He showed me a little part of Himself during VBS that I feel blessed to have seen.

He was a listener and He is a listener.  He was a healer and He is a healer.

A funny thing happened that summer day– I saw a bit of God mingling among a low, wretched, tired VBS volunteer.

I felt him say, in a flood of peace, grace, and goosebumps, “Oh sweet child of mine, I heard that prayer of faith.  I always do.”

Well, I have spent a good few minutes crying this morning.

Happy tears.  :)

May the Lord have all the glory that I’m able to invite you to my next theatre production.

A few years ago, I never would have thought this was possible.  Take a quiet moment to identify a fear you’re clenching on to…. and then read and be encouraged at what the Lord, in his power and patience,  can do.

{If you’re interested in skipping ahead to the details of buying tickets for my next show, please scroll down to find everything you need.}

* * *

My story….

Acting for me has been a very God-centered journey.  The very short story:  I went to a small high school where I was the star of the acting department.  I went to college and wasn’t!!  I got discouraged and felt like a disadvantaged underdog who was not as experienced or trained as everyone else.  In college I gave up on my dream of majoring in theatre, made theatre my minor, and majored in sociology.

During my first year of marriage to Ben, he’d ask me every so often, “Why aren’t you doing any auditioning?” to which I would answer with something ridiculous trying to cover up the fact that I was afraid of not being good enough.  The Lord, however, did not give up on me.  I have this deeply rooted connection to the performing arts that God is seemingly not letting me abandon.  I’ve come to recognize that fear of failure was spurring me to do nothing with my love for the performing arts–a love that I have known for a long time is something that God gave me.  I’ve tried to walk away from it but He keeps nudging me back towards art.

God has been so faithful and patient with me!  My insecurities have led me to the cross where I’ve had to stare into the face of Jesus and decide:  do I believe that I am loved, accepted, and enough because Jesus the Christ says so, or do I reject this acceptance–this position I’ve been adopted into?

I accept!

Truly living into this identity is a freeing and wild ride.  With a lot of encouragement from Ben (who has a great way of nudging me back to what God says, reminding me who I really am) I have stepped into Chicago theatre auditions with a sense of trust and dare I say fearlessness.  If I don’t get a part–that’s ok, that’s part of pursuing theatre.  The biggest obstacle was believing that the Lord would somehow, in some way, bless my efforts to trust that I was made for a purpose and that theatre is part of the purpose.   I began seriously auditioning about 8 months ago and have been cast in three shows to date!  This is more than I hoped for or imagined.

Yes, I’m crying right now.

Ok, now I’m balling.  :)

* * *

My current show….

I’m currently in a new play called 13 to 30 that has evolved from a concept created by Second-City trained actor David Wrigley.  After David cast a small ensemble for this play, we worked as a team to polish and add to his research and work.  The play parallels the life of a modern day boy (from age 13 to 30) with the life of Jesus from those same ages.  It’s an authentic journey, and the play has opened my eyes up to a world of new questions and ideas.

I really love the content and I’m eager to share this invite with you because I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

There is a little adult language and a few sexual references, so it’s definitely not something you want to bring your children to.  I think you’ll find these brief moments of adult material very much in line with the honest spirit of the play, and I would call the spirit one of exploration.  A young boy is earnestly wanting to know what it means for him in his young life to do what Jesus would do.  Not in a theoretical, haughty-taughty way, but in a real, practical, honest way.

The play is being performed at Gorilla Tango Theatre and for some reason, a lot of burlesque shows rent this space.  You won’t see anything like that in 13 to 30, but  I think it’s awesome that as a group of professional Christian performers (which is quite a rare thing!), we’re bringing the light of Christ into a dark place.

Oh yeah, and the show is funny!

Tickets are $15, and 10% of proceeds are going to Charity Water which works to bring clean drinking water to all corners of the world.So is 13 to 30 not a perfect date night?

A one-hour Thursday night getaway, you’re supporting local professional Christian artists, supporting a charity, laughing a lot, gaining a new perspective, perhaps grabbing a bite to eat afterwards and chatting about the ideas in the show, supporting Stacy Ashworth…….I’m so seeing you there.

For more information about the show please visit

Only 5 Performances! {Buy your tickets here!}

Performances are:

Thursday 11/8/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 11/15/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 11/29/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 12/6/2012 7:30pm

Thursday 12/13/2012 7:30pm

Thank you for your support and love!  I hope to see you at the theatre.  For new readers, I also welcome you to subscribe to FoolishForLight.com–it’s an easy way to keep up with me and drink in a little weekly encouragement.

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I earn most of my modest income through playing with kids, so just in case there are any discrepancies–it’s true:

kids say the darndest things!

{the collection of photos in this post feature some of the super-fly kids in my life.  the pictures are randomly dispersed;  the stories don’t correlate to the children’s pictures they appear next to.}

I watch a 3 and a half year old, and when she was 2, she would thank me for changing her diaper.  She’d say, “You’re a nice girl, you know that Stace?” and “Thanks for wiping me…every time!”

In her less-sweet moments, I would sometimes put the 2 year old in a time out to which she would occasionally respond by smiling.  I asked her once, “You’re in trouble–do you understand that?”  Of course I was seriously peeved that my discipline tactic didn’t seem to be working.  Her answer: “but….I’m so happy!”  Please tell me, how does a person respond to that?

The same girl, when she was 2,  had a book about animals with tails.

After reading the book:

Stacy:  Do you have a tail? Yeah.Stacy:  You do? No.  But I have a butt!

And another day:

Stacy:  I’ll be right back.  I’m going to go potty.  Go poop?Stacy:  Umm…no…? Oh.  You poop at your husband’s house?{wow….this one still cracks me up to no end}

I love asking kids what they want to be when they grow up.  A four year old told me once, “I want to be a firefighter because I’m very good at watering flowers with my grandma’s hose.”  Makes perfect sense, right?  Monkey, garbage man, and bee are other favorites I’ve heard.

As a 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday School teacher, I had my kids do a “get to know you” activity where they each wrote down something they did this summer and I had to guess who wrote each response.  A second grade boy responded, “I got to have a play date with my fiance and my mom said next time my sister could come!”  My first thought: this child doesn’t know what fiance means.  Second thought: but he has the correct accent mark in the word fiance (something my blogging software isn’t even doing for me!)  Unbelievable.

The one and a half year old boy I watch has been known to say, “My Stacy” which is really more like “My Say-see” when trying to get my attention.  Kills me every time.

A three year old once told me, “I don’t want you to go home yet.  I was looking for you yesterday and I couldn’t find you.”  There’s no better way to end a work day than that.

Taking a three year old to Vacation Bible School this summer, in the church parking lot she told me, “Dam* it, I left my monkey at home.”  Awesome.  :)

It blows my mind to consider how much a child really has to learn in those first sweet years of life.   Compared to most animals who are born with incredible instincts that just kind of kick in, humans mostly need to be taught in order to survive and thrive.  Language of course is a huge part of this.  Everything kids hear is a clue about how the world fits together.

What really got me thinking about the power of our words was when, for a period of time, the two year old I was nannying would walk up to me or someone in her family and randomly say, “I love you, too!”  I realized she was probably doing this because she heard the phrase said back to her so often.  The words she heard shaped what ended up coming out of her mouth….in a really cute way.  :)

Our words are shaping people’s worlds.  The phenomena is magnified with children, but it’s true across the board.  We’re either lifting our friends up with encouragement, or something like gossip is bringing them down.  We’re either communicating respect to our spouses when our opinions differ, or we’re degrading them by implying our own way is the right way.  We’re helping someone see the Light in herself, or we’re fueling her internal question: “what does my life matter?”

I challenge you this week to listen more deeply to the words that come out of your mouth. It’s more complexly faceted and important than just “trying not to curse too much” or “keep it clean for the kids.”   Do you mean what you say?  Do you speak words of encouragement?  When you have to confront someone, is it done flippantly in anger or thoughtfully and respectfully after prayer?

:: My “darndest” list that needs tweaking::

  • Saying “I’m sorry” when I haven’t wronged someone.  There are plenty of times I legitimately need forgiveness, but I’m trying to move away from apologizing when there is no need to.  When I sin, I need to apologize for the way I am.  When I haven’t sinned, I don’t need to apologize for the way I am.
  • On the phone, ending a conversation by saying, “I’ll let you go.”  I don’t like this phrase because it inserts the assumption that the person I’m talking to wants to be let go.  To me it reads, “I’ll do you a favor and end this conversation and we can make it look like I’m ending it even though I’m sure you wanted to.”   Who am I to assume they were ready to go if they didn’t say so?  Alternatively, I think it’s more positive to ask, “Well, do you need to go or do you have more time to talk now?” or if I need to go, I want to be more clear by just saying that I need to get going.
  • Saying things like, “If there were only more hours in a day!”  The truth is, we accomplish things we make priority.  We are completely in charge of how we spend our time;  time does not have some mysterious tight grip on us like we often imagine it does.  I don’t need more hours, I need more discipline!

At a recent play rehearsal, the director asked in his cool way of asking icebreaker questions, “What’s one thing you said today?”

My answer after a day of nannying: “I don’t know why your poop is green.”  Ha–I guess we all say the darndest things!

Won’t you share a comment?

What’s something funny you’ve heard a kid say?  What do you need to fine-tune in your own vocabulary?  What’s something you said today?

 

Thanks for checking in for a little more home tour goodness.

Today we’re looking at the kitchen and dining room.

Yummy.

 

I have a dream to buy a home with terribly outdated cupboards so I can paint them in chalkboard paint and write the cupboards contents on the doors.  When I look at homes for sale that have nice kitchens, I don’t like them.  I want a bad kitchen so I can paint it.  Anyways…. :)

In a rented apartment like we’re in now, I’m not about to paint cupboards because there would be no easy way to get them back to normal.  It’s hard to work with a plain ol’ kitchen knowing you can’t do many alterations.

This is the area above the stove.  Look how plain and sad.

Looking around, I realized one problem with our kitchen is the lost, dead, white space above the cupboards throughout the room.

So I decided to acknowledge this awkward extra space with a little pop of fun.

More painted wall stripes?

No.

This time I cheated.  :)

This project took a total of 20 minutes.  How so?

I used something called artist tape.  I selected this tape because it came in red and didn’t seem too heavy duty.  I want to be able to pull it off the wall hassle-free when we move out.

 

 Not bad!  I really don’t think you’d guess it was tape.  I probably wouldn’t make this choice in a house, but it’s the perfect non-commitment decorating move for us apartment dwellers.  It gives height to the room and adds a little interest.  I did double lines along the entire perimeter of the kitchen.

The picture below shows the main entrance into the kitchen.  I spray painted an old bathroom shower curtain red and loosely tied on some fabric remnants from a yard sale.  The twine ball is from where else?  Hobby Lobby.

I used a tag from a new pair of Ben’s pants for one of my favorite little details…

I painted the canvas below after finding it at Goodwill for $2.99.  The awesome sunflowers were from my Daddy after he saw me in Wind in the Willows.

In the microwave station picture above, you might recognize the tower of plates and glasses from my post about keeping crafts organized.  It’s a versatile little thing!  Right now I’m loving it in the kitchen as a catch-all.

The soup bowls above were something I always admired at my Grandma and Grandpa’s home.  And now I admire them at mine by keeping them out on the counter.  :)

The utensil holder below used to be brown and look a little outdated.  Hello, gray spray paint!

And are we ready for the dining room?

Gotta love the ugly fan.  :)

The display along the gray wall is a work in progress and something I randomly dreamed up.  It’s a cork board with a piece of material {$1 at a yard sale} stretched over the front and stapled to the back.  (Thank you, Jess M, for the assistance of your staple gun).

Black hooks:  Hobby Lobby

White birds:  from my wedding decor, ordered from Etsy

Orange striped material:  garage sale find

Green moss cabin:  Anthropology catalog

Other additions:  twine, scraps of lace, random flowers made of felt and paper

Since it’s a cork board, Jess-with-the-staple-gun suggested displaying holiday cards on it when that time rolls around.  For someone like me who is constantly moving things around and changing things up, cork is a dream come true–yet, it doesn’t look like a cork board.

I have to admit, I don’t feel quite like the dining room is “done” yet, but the process of taking pictures of my home to share is teaching me that it’s not about perfect, it’s about progress.  Most importantly, I keep finding myself reminded that it’s really about people.  (Whatever “it” is).  I’m so grateful for the man I get to share this place with and the friends and family I get to welcome into it.

I heard somewhere that if your blog is perfect when you finally share it with people, you waited too long to start sharing it.  Our homes are similar, right?  That’s why I’m hoping you’ll join the sharing boat and open up a little bit of your world to us too! 

{click below to learn more}

Thanks for hanging out with me and my imperfect blog and imperfect home tour.  I hope you find yourself lifted up in some way each time you visit.  Look how happy your being here makes me:

There are so many words out there on websites, blogs, magazines, books….my dream is that {Foolish for Light} is like a most desirable little check-in point where you step in for good words–true words–silly words–life giving words–that help inform and shape the rest of the things you participate in for the day.

I hope getting foolish fuels you to feel lighter.
A little freer.
A little more in tune with the Light of the world.
A little more aware that you house the Light in you.
May that awareness make you a little happier.
May your joy ignite something a little brighter.
I think your radiance is going to make people see the world a little differently.
And I think different can be very good.

.:. .:. .:.

I do pray for you, my reader friend, and I thank God for the ability to create and share with you.  Really.

Do what you love today and do it well!  Do it with the confidence we can have from knowing how Jesus Christ feels when we looks upon us.  He sees you with the utmost loving gaze of grace. Really.

Until next time,

♥  stacy

what next?

 

Howdy and welcome!

I have decided to unveil my one bedroom apartment home to you during the month of September–not because my home is so trendy and neat that it should be featured in magazines–but that’s kind of the point.

It’s a work in progress and heck, aren’t we all?

Click below to play catch up if you need to:

.:.:.:.  .:.:.:.

When it comes to our homes, there is always something more we could touch up, straighten up, fix up, sew up, or whatever-up, and I have to admit that I do sometimes struggle with perfectionism.

While I’m confessing, I’ll also throw this out there for kicks: for some reason I also get into patterns of thinking that if I am not the best at something, I just shouldn’t do it.  (For instance, I lived in Chicago for a year and a half with the dream of acting and never auditioned for a thing because  I couldn’t stand to think of myself failing.  It seems so….dumb….in retrospect.)

The problem is, if we resolve to only share the parts of our lives that feel polished, or the rooms of our house that feel photo worthy, or the weaknesses that seem not too bad–we’re not really sharing ourselves.  It’s like when Ben and I got married, he told me that if we hold back secrets from each other, we’ll always wonder, “I know he loves me now, but what if he knew this one thing I’d done?  Would he love me then?”  And so he and I have committed to share.  Let me tell you, it’s a beautiful, sweet, sweet thing.

Sooooo….. maybe I’m getting a little too deep with this home tour thing, but I have this weird condition where I see metaphors in almost anything so please, bear with me and my medical issues.  ;)

It’s been…well….freeing to share my place with you and I have truly appreciated the warm response.  Don’t worry, the last leg of the home tour is on it’s way in just a couple days.

But….from the beginning I’ve hoped this conversation might turn two way.  That is, I wonder if you might share part of your home with me and fellow Foolish for Light readers.

.:. I hereby announce the .:.

{you could win a $40 giftcard!}

 

I’d LOVE to see a picture of your favorite place or space in YOUR home!

It could be a desk you’ve refurbished.  The view from your backyard.  A whole room that you love.  A quiet reading nook.  A link to a home tour on your blog.  It could be ANYTHING.  It just has to be a place or space in your home or yard that you love–and my challenge is just to share it for what it is–even if it’s not perfect.

  • To enter, you may email your photo or a blog post link to foolishforlight@gmail.com.
  • A randomly selected participant will be announced the fourth week of October and will receive a $40 giftcard to the home improvement or craft store of your choice!
  • Please make your submission by Wednesday, October 17th with the understanding that your photo and/or link will most likely be shared on FoolishForLight.com.  If you don’t want your photo shared on a future Foolish for Light post, please do not enter.  Won’t you feel so famous to have your name in lights online?!  (Only your first name will be published.)
  • All past giveaway winners, my family, friends, strangers, enemies, acquaintances, and everyone else are welcome to enter.  I will be using random.org to generate the lucky duck winner.

I can’t wait to see your pictures.  Thanks for reading.  And sharing.

♥  stacy

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Who doesn’t like to peek in other people’s houses?

Before I swing this bedroom door open, let me just say….

starting the bedroom tour

I have often wished away my creativity.  I’m not proud of it, but there are times I’ve genuinely thought, “Why can’t I just want to be a doctor?  The future would be so planned out for me!  Instead, I have too many ideas to write down and want to work in one of the hardest industries to break into… that doesn’t pay enough to live off of.  Awesome.

It’s easy to look at other people’s gifts, talent, and stuff, and then idolize it.

Many years ago I learned a nugget of truth that’ll be with me forever.  Comparison is the thief of joy.  Man is that true.

Every moment we spend wishing for things to be different is a moment we could be rejoicing over what God has done for us or is doing in us.  Every moment we spend cutting down our strengths and wishing for someone elses’ is a happy-dance moment for Satan who has succeeded in distracting us from the truth:

You were made as God intended you to be.  Yes, you are sinful, but there is grace to sufficiently cover every sin.  You were created in the image of God, to be alive right now, to do good works like only you–with your spirit, personality, and gifts–can do them.

When I realize God loves me as I am–like really, passionately cares for the things I care for–I realize I can live free if I choose to.  Christ died for freedom!  I am loved by the omnipotent God who knows my needs before I ask; do I really have much to worry about?

You can be free from the chains of comparing your home decor to others’.  Your children’s maturity to others’.  Your financial picture to others’.  Your marital relationship to others’.

If you use the internet, Facebook, Pinterest, ect. to look at glimpses into other people’s lives and destructively compare yourself to what they have, then this is me calling you out on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it too.  That’s why I know it’s a problem.  :)

Part of me doesn’t want to show you my home because I look at other people’s amazing design skills online and think “I’ve got NOTHING on them.”  But there I go comparing myself to “them”…which is really lame and unhelpful.

So here I am showing you my humble apartment even though some of the pictures make me cringe because there are little things I want to add and change.  But you know what?  I’m choosing to rejoice in the great apartment we have and my God-given ability to create!  I’m rejoicing that with a little creativity, we can follow God’s example of redemption and make old things look like new things! I come to you as the real me with our real home, hoping you’ll ditch the alluring voice of comparison and maybe pick up a few ideas on the way.

Home Tour: week 1:  the bedroom

I’m not sure why, but we’re starting the tour with our bedroom.  Here she is, ladies and gents, as you enter from the hallway.

Curtains can make or break a room.  Check out the detailing on the top of ours:

Our beddy-bye.  I just don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this quilted blanket.

When you enter the room and turn right, this is what you see along the right wall:  an inviting place to make stationary and do taxes!

There are three appropriate, non-cluttering places to toss paper.  My husband has an “inbox” on top of the printer (pictured under the cork board), we have labeled folders in a file holder on the desk……

….and my scrapbook/stationary paper finds a happy home hanging in this gray file holder which came with holes in the back for mounting on the wall.  I heart paper, but if I don’t keep it organized, it gives me a headache to the point of not wanting to make stuff.  And then I cry.

So, here is the wall opposite the bed in the area above and to the right of the desk:

If you were to walk into the room and head left, you’d see the craft shelf along the left wall.  Well, it mostly holds crafts.  At the bottom are old video game guides that Ben never uses….BUT….he lets me have a whole craft shelf in our bedroom so I smile and don’t ask why we need those.  :)

To the right and left of the craft zone are the his and her closets.  They’re big and we love them!  What I don’t love are these thumbs down super-cheap brass knobs.

Thank you, Lord, for Hobby Lobby!  Hobby Lobby is owned and managed by a Christian family, and I love to support them when I can.  Originally $3.99 each and on sale for $1.99, I picked up four of these yellow cuties for about $8 total…..

Knobs are VERY easy to install.  It’s an inexpensive upgrade, yet makes a big difference to the overall feel of the space.

Feel like you couldn’t visualize how the room fits together?  {Watch the virtual tour!}  That’s right, I put a video on YouTube for ya.

Speaking of simple upgrades to spruce up a place, consider experimenting with how you make your bed.  Or if you’re a beginner, just start making the bed.  :)  Anything is better than nothing!

Have you ever wondered how hotels and hospitals get those crisp looking corners?  Watch and be amazed….

How to make “Hospital Corners”

1.  Put on the fitted sheet and drape the non-fitted evenly on the bed.

2.  Tuck the bottom end of the sheets under the bed.  It’s so much easier with the help of another person.  One lifts the mattress, the other tucks the bed sheet.

3.  Pull the corner fabric towards the head of the bed and downwards, like pictured below.  Tuck fabric (where my hand is) an inch or two under the mattress.
4.  You’ll be left with a little flap of fabric up top.  Lift it up like so:
5.  And drape it down, like so:

You don’t have to limit yourself to sheets, either.  You can use hospital corners to give a nice polished look to comforters and blankets.

As I was preparing for this tour, I realized my sheets were extremely wrinkled and not exactly photo-worthy.

Here’s a little trick:  Downy Wrinkle Release works VERY well on cotton, and quite well on other materials, too.  In the picture below, the section of sheets behind the bottle were treated with the spray.  You can see quite the difference from the non-treated area on the left.

Just as the bottle indicates, spray your material and then smooth the fabric with your hands.  I suggest giving deep creases an extra squirt or two.

After Downy-ing-up the visible sheets….I’ve gotta admit….they look pretty good.  I wouldn’t want to make this a normal routine, that would be silly, but if you’re having company over, why not pretty things up?

Remember before?

Relish in the after!

And while you’re at it, if you see loose threads, give them a trim.  You’d hate to put in all this work and then have someone get distracted by a darn loose string.  Towel strings need trimming when you notice them, too.

 

Thank you for swinging by our pad! 

Psssst….did you catch the video? of the bedroom tour?

{the living room tour is here.  the kitchen tour is here.}

♥  stacy

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{hello}

It doesn't always make sense-the way we live. We decide that's ok. People don't have to get it. Welcome to Foolish for Light, a place for exploring the counter-intuitive life of a light-chaser.

{foolish?}

Foolish for Light is a place for anyone willing to challenge the way things have to be done. I'm kind of perfectly fine being called foolish as I chase the Light of the world. You?