highly unqualified. a post on motherhood.

I.  Am.  Overwhelmed.  By a lot of things, but mostly parenting at the moment.  I seem stuck in a funk of "who chose me for this?" because if I am being honest, I feel highly unqualified at this time.   

And thought I should share.  Just in case you, also, were feeling overwhelmed and unqualified.  This parenting thing is HARD.  Like so hard, that even if someone explained it to you thoroughly in the best way they know how, you still wouldn't get the degree of difficulty parenting is.  So you'd have a baby anyway.  And then by the time you are realizing the situation you have found yourself in, you are in too deep to quit. 

There's no turning back or giving up.  People are counting on you.

There is however, a regular check of your abilities.  A run down of your lack of qualifications.  An exposing of your ability to think on your toes and answer any number of questions any time of the day or night.

There is a steady growth of your patience.  A never ending changing of the course and endless supply of aggravating circumstances that you cannot control.  There is a perpetual cycle of fear and FA-REAKING out!

Daily you will be reminded that you have no idea what you are doing and that tomorrow isn't looking much better.

And all of that is just internally.  

For me, I daily wonder if somehow I was put on the "qualified to parent" list by mistake.  If by some cosmic mis-hap I was given two children on accident.

It's usually somewhere in this tunnel of concern that I get a tap on the shoulder.  A reminder that I was chosen and picked specifically for what I have to offer the two little gentlemen placed in my life.

I am reminded that God does not qualify us FIRST and then place us where He wants us.  First He wants our trust.  Wants our turning to Him regularly for guidance and help.  Wants us in the habit of seeking Him first and then all else second.

Parenting is an act of ultimate humility.  Of daily coming before God and saying "HELP ME NOT SCREW THEM UP" and not only that but also "HELP ME SHOW THEM YOU!!!!".

Daily I am reminded to take each moment lightly.  To not look too far ahead.  To not freak out about how we will pay for college.  To not over analyze each behavior and definitely not to compare.

To see these little men as my brothers in Christ first, His children second and my children third.  Those three filters go a long way to changing my attitude, to shaping my approach and to molding my prayers for them and myself.

You see, no parent IS qualified.  We are each helpless and hopeless to go it alone.  But there is help available.  He is ready and willing to teach us and tell us.  To remind us that our relationship with our children should mirror His relationship with us.  That if He can show US endless patience, surely we can wait for seven year old to tie his shoes.  That if He can forgive us for screwing up for the millionth time, that surely we can calmly work through another repeated bad behavior.

The more I seek the parallel between God and me and my children and I, the more patience becomes available, the more grace I can offer, the more time and love I can give.

From one sinner to another, I owe my children that.  I try to keep in mind that I WAS chosen, He does believe I can do it and we WILL be successful.

And the same is true for you!!   I just thought you should know!


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fighting legalism.

Our church is currently doing a couple of sermons a little differently.  On the front side of the sermon they are addressing Grace in the Old Testament (and a little of how legalism ties in), and on the back side they are answering questions that are texted in during the service.  This past week was pretty awesome and I am looking forward to this Sunday as well.  Seeing old things in a new way is always refreshing and always gets me thinking.   

I love it for many reasons, number one being, I love the Old Testament.  To me, it's so relatable and comforting.  A bunch of sinners that continually screw up, yet God continues to forgive, love and bless them anyway?  Yes, please.  I'll take that. 

I also love that our church does not shy away from getting down to the nitty gritty.  We are willing to examine the tough questions and talk about the things many churches shy away from.  Collectively we are seeking an authentic, loving God and loving people, non-judgemental kind of culture.  And it is already bearing much fruit.  That's not to say that "all is permissible", don't get me wrong. 

I also love that we are all working hard to break down the legalism around us, which does us no good and only acts as a barrier between us and the living God.  This week legalism was defined as "placing a prerequisite between us and God's grace".  We decide (based on a lot of things) that FIRST we need the law and THEN a relationship with God will happen.  When in fact, it should be relationship, then law.  Legalism hurts our relationship with God and others in infinite ways.  

As I survey the world around me, legalism does a lot of damage.  And for a lot of reasons.  Largely, legalism is based on what we have always known.  People often don't know why they do something, just that they have always done it that way.  Take for example, thinking you HAVE to dress up for church on Sunday.  Where does that come from?  Some Sundays it's jeans and a t-shirt for me and others I enjoy taking the time to get more dressed up.  Either way, I don't think God cares.  Legalism would be me being judged on those jeans Sundays, even if they can't tell me why.  And I've been told before "it's disrespectful to wear jeans to church", me, "why?", them, "It just is".  Legalism perpetuates "just is" without any backing.  Setting up rules that must be followed even if we don't know why.  This, I feel, leads to a dulling of our intuition of what God is calling us to personally and often places unfair standards on others.  It also creates false buffers between others and God tying us up in an impossible web of superficial standards.      

Another way legalism hurts us is that often people feel that if God makes it so for THEM, then it's their job and mission in life to MAKE it so for OTHERS.  This, I feel, is where "relationship first" comes into play.  God is infinite in His wisdom and ability to care for His children.  Our convictions are generally based on the life story we have and He chooses and places those convictions on us to protect us.  A good example would be alcohol.  I don't drink.  It's never in my house and Doug doesn't drink either.  Personally, I have never seen any good come from it and being the child of an alcoholic, I am not so certain that a little alcoholic demon doesn't live inside me waiting to wake up given the opportunity to do so.  That is a conviction, "assigned" to me based on my life history.  Legalism would be me taking that and trying to force others to follow it as well.  Our convictions are our business.  We weren't charged with "making sure others follow rules", we were charged to love.  

Along those same lines, legalism causes an interruption in blessing others.  A real life example for you, recently I was organizing people who need school supplies with people who wanted to purchase and mail those school supplies.  After assigning someone a list, they emailed me in return and informed me that they had "researched the person in question and based on what they found on their Facebook page, would not be buying supplies".  Ouch.  That hurt my heart on many levels.  Not only were children being hurt by their parents supposed actions (the FB content was no where near "bad"), the blesser was missing out, the blessed were missing out and legalism prevented a blessing.  I couldn't help but think of all the people in my childhood who blessed me despite my parents poor decisions and how different my life would have been had they chose not to help me because of my parents terrible choices. 

In actuality, blessing has very little to do with the person you are blessing, in a way.  A blessing goes from our hands, to God's, to the person we are blessing, making the act intimate with YOU and God AND with THEM and God.  We give to God, He gives to others.   

This past sermon has had my head turning in a million ways, mostly examining and ridding myself of any of my "just is" tendencies.  I know that imposing my beliefs about how life should be lived, doesn't exude God's love.  Legalism never does.  I don't know enough about my best friends life to tell him how to live his life, how could I stand a chance to do that for anyone else? 

Can we discuss or share or give our (solicited) opinions?  Of course! We are doing life together and sometimes we need the direct help and love of others to navigate it.  BUT we have to be willing to give our two cents and know that it may not apply to another person the same way it applies to us, if at all.  That fact should have no merit on how we love or treat the other person. Our business is love.

Relationship (with God or others in fact) then law (or guidelines).   

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New in the world...

Just a quick little announcement this morning...

I am so very thrilled to share this with you...after many months of work and waiting, I FINALLY have hoho fabric!! And gift wrap.  And if you really want it, wall paper!!!!

With the help of a wonderful designer from Elle & Co, what has been stuck in my head forever, is finally OUT!

Below are just a couple of my favorite colorways.  If you head on over to my Spoonflower shop, you can see them all and order whatever you'd like and create to your hearts content! :)
happy hohotize - multi
How completely adorable and fun is this?!  I am so in love!
And this? I can't wait to order a roll!!!!
hohotize - green/blue
I'm always a fan of blue and green together, and this is just lovely!
happy hohotize - multi aqua
 And this one?  My favorite by far (at least for right now!).  I hope you love these as much as I do! I can't wait to see what you create! :)  

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how to set yourself up for success (working from home or otherwise)

Good morning!  I apologize for spacing out here for the most part last week!  It was just a tinge crazy and a little life changing.  For the first time in my married and mother life, both of my children are in school full time, together! :)

For the last 7 1/2 years of my life, I have worked on my blog and business with children at my feet, with requests for milk or snacks or every name and number of emergency in their life at the time.  Last year was especially crazy with two boys in two different schools at two different times.  I drove a lot but I still made it work.

But now, that is all different.  Now,  I drop two boys off at 8am and pick them up at 3pm.  That's a lot of day to myself.  
Last week I kind of considered it a dry run, on their first day, Doug took the day off and we just spent it together, he golfed and I tagged along.  We shopped and ate and hung out until it was time to get the boys.  Then Friday, on my first official day alone, it was very weird.  I almost didn't know what to do with myself.  Strangely enough it took me some serious effort to get myself going in the right direction.  And now, with a new week ahead of me, solidly full of five days straight of uninterrupted working, I've done a little better to set myself up for success.

I thought it might be helpful to share how I did that, in case like me, you need a boost to get the ball rolling.  

1:  I cleaned my house.  A dirty house is a great distraction to me.  I spent a nice chunk of time just putting things back where they belonged, cleaning the floors and bathrooms (two key pieces to me feeling like the house is in good shape).  I always say, if you don't know where to start, empty the kitchen sink of dirty dishes, make the beds, vacuum the floors and do a load of laundry.  That's usually enough to get me going.

2:  I ran my errands on Sunday.  Instead of having to run to multiple stores during my "working hours" I ran them on my way home from church.  That helped me with the next step as well, which was...

3:  Make sure you have what you need to do what you have to during the week.  For me this meant making sure I had lunch supplies, loosely planning dinners, and deciding what treats I was going to make to send into school and work with Doug.  Doug and I also went shopping for soccer supplies, since that starts this week.  Planning ahead decreases stress.  These needs of course may be different for you!

4:  Decide on your morning schedule for your kids.  Print it out if need be, that way everyone knows what to expect.  For us it goes like this: up at 7am, the boys are expected to get dressed and make their beds, breakfast, bible reading, teeth brushing and then they get to play until we have to leave at 8am.       

5:  Decide and plan your day(s).  For me, I've decided to begin each day with a walk around our block, which equals out to a mile or two depending on my mood.

6:  Have a general goal for the day.  For me, this is going to take me some time to figure out, but I will plan it as I learn. 

7: Coffee. 
So there is that!  I would love to hear your recipe for success as well! :) I hope your week is full of delight and surprises and good things!  Thanks for stopping by! :)

P.S.  While you're here don't forget to hop over and read my post on making family memories! :)  
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why it's ok to read the message {and why you shouldn't judge others who do!} a guest post.

Hello and good morning!

This is LONG but worth reading.  Please go grab a cup of coffee and sit in a comfy chair!

As you may or may not know, I've been reading through the Bible again this year.  This makes my 4th or 5th time through and this time I am reading The Message translation (on purpose).  A translation written with the purpose of making the Bible approachable to all.  Every morning of the week, and sometimes on weekends, I put the verse of the day up on my Instagram feed as a way to share the word with others in a way that allows them to receive it or not with the scroll of a thumb.  I've shared some of those verses HERE where you can print and use them.  To date, reading The Message has put me on the receiving end of more scorn and criticism than any act I've ever done online.  It's been shocking really.

And I kind of love it honestly.

Do you know why?  Because for every rude critic, I've gotten two thank yous.  I've lost count of the emails, comments, messages I have received since the beginning of this journey telling me that because of this approachable, easy to understand translation that I have shared publicly, without judgment or expectation, they've either started to read the Bible on their own for the first time ever, or it's made them very curious about this loving Jesus I have shared about.  I share that not to toot my own horn in any way, I am humbled that God would even give me, a sinner, the chance to bring one of His children closer to Him in some way but to show you that there is fruit, where critics claim is only disgust and fruitlessness.  Being criticized and attacked verbally is worth it to me.

I recognize that God is creative and endless in His pursuit of us.  He can use a phone book to call to us if need be.  Running around criticizing others for how they read the word is unattractive, it does nothing but shame a (possibly fragile new) believer at the expense of puffing ourselves up.  To think we should tell others how to believe or seek Him is arrogant on our part.  I do my best to present my view point in a non-confrontational, loving way and it's usually met with "yeah, but really, reading the Message is evil" so to speak.  It's legalistic to think we should take our life rules and apply them to others.  Yes, each is entitled to and encouraged to have their own opinions and paths, but they should have no bearing on how another lives.  I've grown weary of explaining myself so I've called in my big guns.

Enter the author of this post, my friend Ryan, whom I've recently talked into starting a blog he calls "Homecooked Jesus".  Usually the biggest argument that people give me against The Message, is that we should be reading "the original" text, referring to the New King James version.  My response is usually "so you read Greek and Hebrew", which is actually the "original text"?  They don't.  And Ryan actually does.  He's is super Bible smart, understands context and is getting a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  I asked him to write a post explaining why The Messages should not be a point of contention, and is definitely not a salvation issue.  I think he does a wonderful job.  And please, if you have any questions or comments, Ryan has agreed to come back and respond in the comments, so please feel free to ask or comment, respectfully of course.  And here is Ryan:                   

Hi, my name is Ryan.  I like romantic-comedies (particularly Warm Bodies, which I’ve dubbed a zom-rom-com), candle-lit dinners, long walks on the beach, reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew…and the Message translation of the Bible. 

Confused?  Is THIS how you feel right now (definitely click on that link)?  I get it.  I have friends who call the NIV the “nearly inspired version.”  I understand.  But we need to be careful here.  If these translations are horrible, then maybe people should be warned against them.  But if it’s just a matter of preference…well then we should all chill out a little.

So…which is it?  Well, my cards are on the table already.  I like the Message.  Why?  We’ll get to that.  But first I’d like to talk about translation in general.  Here are a few of the problems with the common perception of translation:

First, there is no such thing as a literal translation.  Here’s how Merriam-Webster describes literal: “reproduced word for word.”  There’s the problem.  You can’t do that in translation.  Let’s use an uncontroversial example.  Here’s Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew.  

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

For those of you playing along at home, that’s seven words (and two of them aren’t really words as much as they are grammatical markers…).  Now, in the good old King Jimmy…
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

That’s ten (even the Message is closer here with only 8 words).  So right away…where did the extra words come from?  Is the King James adding words to the Bible?!??!  No.  That’s just what happens in translation.  See, the first word in the Bible, which is just one word in Hebrew (בְּרֵאשִׁית) means “in the beginning.”  One word in Hebrew, three in English.  There just isn’t a single word in English that means the exact same thing as בְּרֵאשִׁית.  That’s because English is a different language.  If all the words in one language directly corresponded to another…they’d be the same language.  So the notion of literal or word for word translation needs to be scrubbed from our vocabulary.  It doesn’t exist.  

Not even good old King Jimmy lives up to that.

Second, all translations are interpretations.  Let’s look at Lamentations 3:22. 
KJV - It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
NIV - Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
ESV - The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
NASB - The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.

Notice, the KJV and the NIV are in agreement.  The Lord’s mercies/great love are the reason that Israel was not consumed.  The ESV and the NASB see it differently.  It is the steadfast love/loving kindnesses of the Lord that do not cease.  Neither of these translations says anything about ‘us’ (referring to Israel).  That’s a significant difference.  And two of the strictest English translations available (KJV and NASB) disagree.  And if that wasn’t strange enough, the NIV (which also has a bad reputation in some circles) sides with the KJV.  Why is there a difference?  Well it’s because the Hebrew here is not particularly easy, and there is significant disagreement as to how we ought to understand it.  [By the way, it is more than a little interesting to me that the Message agrees with the ESV and the NASB here.  “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.”]

Now that we’ve dismissed a few misconceptions, let’s look at the positive side of translation.  What exactly are we trying to do when we translate?  We’re taking a phrase or phrases in one language and trying to convey the same idea in another language.  So בָּרָ֣א becomes created.  That’s simple.  But what do we do when we have a more complicated sentence?  For instance, a literal translation of Amos 4:6 is “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” (KJV)  What on earth does “cleanness of teeth” mean?  Is God brushing our teeth for us?  This could also be translated “I gave you freedom of teeth…”  Well that doesn’t help.  But if we look at the context, it is talking about famine.  So the NIV translation tries to help us with that.  “"I gave you empty stomachs…”  The word ‘stomach’ isn’t here.  They are interpreting ‘cleanness of teeth’ for us, to help us understand what is happening.  And they get it right (*cough, so does the Message, *cough *cough…I should get that cough looked at). 

That’s the fundamental difference in the type of translations available.  Are they trying to stick as closely to the Greek and Hebrew as possible (and thus leave us with “cleanness of teeth”) or are they trying to help us understand where possible (and thus give us “empty stomachs”)?  A translation like the KJV, ESV, NASB, etc are trying to stick closely to the Greek and Hebrew (even with word order), whereas the NIV, NLT, and the Message are trying to help us out to varying degrees.

So we’re left with two possible problems.  When reading the KJV, you may not understand what it says.  When reading the Message, it may not be saying the right thing.  So what do you do?  You read multiple translations, and you use different translations depending on your situation.  When I’m talking to middle-schoolers…there’s no way I’m using the KJV.  But when I’m doing careful study of a text, I’m definitely not going to just read the Message and call it a day.

So why do I actually like the Message? 

First, I like that the chapter and verse numbers aren’t in my way.  Sure that’s makes it tough when I read it in church and I’m trying to find a specific verse, but it makes it better when I’m at home.  These divisions aren’t original to the text, and they have fostered a lack of context in the minds of many Christians.  Translations like the Message help us move away from that.

Second, I like it because it often captures the tone of the passage in a way that other translations just can’t.  It gives me God’s word as if He’s using the language I use on a daily basis.  For instance, Philippians 2:1-4 reads this way in the KJV:

1“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”

Now, I get what he’s saying, but I’ve spent a lot of time studying this passage.  If I read this to a youth group…their eyes gloss over and they tune out.  Also, notice the separation of verses…just saying. 

But…here’s the Message of the same passage:

“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”

Yup.  Got it.  That makes sense.  Is it interpretive?  You betcha.  But is it understandable?  Absolutely.  If I’m talking to a new believer, I’m giving them the Message.  Why?  Because they can read this passage and say, “Oh…Paul is saying that what I’ve received from Christianity ought to motivate me to act a certain way towards other people.  Well that certainly makes sense.”  It helps them get into the text.  They can ease into other translations eventually.  But do you know, when they are tired…they will probably come back to the Message, and that’s a good thing.  When they share a verse on Facebook, it will probably be from the Message, and that’s a good thing.  Why?  Because it is easy to understand.

I know, for some of you, that the Message is a serious problem.  I know it’s really popular in some circles to talk about how horrible the Message is.  It’s inaccurate.  It removes things or adds things.  It encourages dogs and cats to live with one another.  You know…mass hysteria.  I get it.  But I want you to consider something.  Think about what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 8:11 “And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.”  Before you jump in to tell people about the horrors of the Message, remember that this is someone for whom Christ died.  Remember that He loves them just as much as he loves you.  And consider for a moment that even if you are right, your knowledge in this circumstance might do more to destruction than building, and that is a disaster of Biblical proportions.
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How to Propagate Succulents! {or how to make more succulents from other succulents} AN UPDATE!!!

 So almost two months ago I wrote you a little tutorial on propagating succulents and thought you might enjoy a little update on their growth! You can find the how-to and sources for the plants on the original post done in June. I started these with some cutting I bought on Amazon and the results have been pretty awesome.  Above is the baby succulent nursery on day one!
 Here's that same tray two weeks later...you can see some encouraging growth here!
 And six weeks...as you can see, I only lost a plant or two!  It happens.
And here is the tray at about two months old.  I need to start thinking about transplanting them into their own containers! I'm pretty pleased with my amazon purchase. :) Hop on back to the original post and give propagation a try! :)
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