Thursday, January 31, 2013

Faith Like a Child

We're reading through Matthew right now as a part of our Bible Reading Challenge, and earlier in the week we hit Matthew 17 and especially Jesus' words in verses 20-21 struck us:

He replied, "Because you have so little faith.  I tell you the truth,
if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain,
'Move from here to there' and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you."

We discussed what that meant, and what an indictment it was of the strength of our faith and how positively insidious and destructive doubt can be.  But all of our deep, adult discussions meant nothing, we realized that night, as our 4 year old daughter illuminated the meaning of that Scripture for us as casually as if she was telling us that the sky was blue or that she had cereal for breakfast.  As we were wrapping up the 30 minute long bedtime process, after singing, dancing, and prayers, Cecily quietly and authoritatively told us that Grandma was sitting next to Jesus.  There was no doubt.  No hesitation.  These were not just trite words, oft-repeated without thought.  It was an expression of complete and total belief.  The knowledge was as real and certain to her as her knowledge that her dad and I were standing next to her bed.  That, we realized, is the faith that can move mountains. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Irish Twins

I occasionally think God knew that having six children was going to be difficult for me, so he purposely blessed me with my little (almost) Irish twins.  It's not that they, as individual children, are any more special than any of my other children (yes, I love them all equally, and I'm not just saying that because I'm "supposed" to), but there's something special about how close in age they are and watching that bond develop as they get older is really fun.  It's especially interesting because they typify our two "stains" of children that we seem to consistently produce.  The delicate, fine-boned (although, let me tell you, looks can be deceiving) brown-haired version, and the sturdy, bubbly blond-haired version.  They wear the same size clothes for the first time ever, and I'm stressing about how I'm going to manage that this summer.  But mostly it's just a great joy and pleasure to look back in the car and see them side by side in their identical carseats, or snuggled up together in the full-size bed they share, or to listen to their hilarious conversations.  I would have never chosen this on my own, but somehow God does manage to give you exactly what you need, doesn't He?


Modest Monday

If you chose to do this type of a "what do you wear" journalling post (and I really think you should, because it's kind of fun, once you get over the initial shyness), you'll have some outfits that just come together nicely. And then you'll have outfits that are just serviceable. You know those pieces hanging in your closet that you just skip over until finally you finally feel guilted into working it into your wardrobe? Or maybe I'm alone in having such a complicated relationship with inanimate objects ;-) Anyways, this is the result of one of those pieces. I'm not a huge fan of the shirt on me, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it because I like the "idea" of it (the romantic touch of eyelet at the center of the neckline). I predict about one or two more wearings before it ends up in the ebay/garage sale pile. I considered not posting this "episode", but in the interest of keeping it real, I guess I will, because we all have days where dressing is perfunctory rather than enjoyable.  Also, if you take away the leggings and boots from the outfit (which I pretty much wear 75% of the winter anyways) and look at just the outfit itself, I literally paid a quarter for the entire thing (plus tax, I suppose).  Pretty cool, eh? 
Earrings: handmade by Mom
Black Cardigan: Relativity (hand-me down from Mom)
Blue Top w/White Eyelet Trim at Neckline: Venezia (hand-me down from Mom)
Crystal Bracelet: handmade by Grandma
Black Tulip Cut Matte Jersey Skirt: Bisou Bisou via resale shop (.$25)
Black Leggings: Cuddle Duds from Kohls ($12)

Black Tall Leather Boots: Ros Hommerson via ebay ($65)
I know I've shown these multiple times, so here, finally, is a close up of the detail

Hair Clip: LillaRose starfish clip in size small from a fellow blogger ($14)
These are awesome - I have three now, and can't wait to add to my collection.  They've replaced ponytails and plain clips almost entirely for me.
Modest Mom blog button copy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

For Dad

Since you didn't get to be here to see the kids opening the presents from you, here they are!  Thanks Grandpa!!

Ian with his Lego police helicopter

Elle with her Barbie clothes and Barbie horse

Colin and his scooter

Allegra holding Caroline in the skating set you got

Hero with her Rockerz skate guards

Cecily and her new scooter

The Calm Before the Storm

That's how I always think of Christmas night, as we're getting ready to go to bed and snap one last picture, knowing that in a few short hours, there will be mass chaos.  We had a very materially blessed Christmas this year - Ian enjoyed his Legos and video game, Hero got mostly clothes, Colin got a bike, Allegra got the new historical American Girl doll, Caroline (probably the gift I personally was most excited to give), Cecily got the Little People Disney Princess Castle, and Elinor got the Shirley Temple DVD collection she's been oohing and ahhing over during TV infomercials for a few months.  Daddy got a burger press, mango cutter, and new hat, and Mama got a skirt, new shoes, and sweater. 

Christmas night

Christmas morning - the kids slept, slumber party style in our bedroom, til 7
This picture is mid-chaos, but I thought it was pretty cute - Colin climbed into the bike gift bag to open it.

Sprinkling of the Oats

I'm STILL stuck back in sharing Christmas pictures. But it's kind of fun to look at those pictures, with our super green, snow-free lawn and contrast it with now, covered with snow and frigid (and has been since Christmas evening). I'm going to be honest, Christmas Eve was rough this year. It didn't go smoothly AT ALL. I think I may have been guilty of saying "I so don't want to do this this year" at several points during the day. People were kind of cranky (and probably tired, because of school not getting out until the previous Friday, and Nutcracker weekend, and a funeral to attend the Saturday before) and everything that COULD go wrong, did (including but not limited to: a gift cheesecake that cratered, but it didn't end up mattering anyways, because the giftee ended up not being at home when we attempted to deliver it, and the tragic loss of Elinor's "Bumper" - her little orange and blue lovey blanket [this one still bothers me - it got lost at the Christmas Eve service at church and never resurfaced]). We ended up not starting our traditional movie night (it was Holiday Inn this year) until about 9:00 and I knew I still had Stollen to make afterwards (as well as a few other things for Christmas dinner). But we survived (and it was a good life lesson in not getting caught up in the "traditions" of Christmas that are fun, but should never be the focus of the season). Our kids have a fun little minor tradition of scattering oats with glitter in them on the ground on Christmas Eve for Rudolph and the reindeer. Honestly I think they just like running around outside in their Christmas PJs throwing stuff around. Ah, the way Christmas allows for normal house rules to be bent...


Allegra, Elinor, and Ian

Allegra, Colin, Cecily, Ian, and Elle

Colin sharing some love with the lit grapevine deer in the front yard

I love the pure, unadulterated joy on my Ceci girl's face

My little doll, Elinor, and her snowgirl toy, Noelle

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Anti-Resolution

Thanks to the wonderful power of the interwebz (see, it's not all bad), I heard about the 30 Day Husband Encouragement challenge and decided to check it out.  It still sounds great, but I thought I'd better tackle myself first, with the 30 Day True Woman Make Over.  Its a study on Proverbs 31, which I know, I know, makes some women groan.  I myself have never felt defeated by the magnificence that is the Woman of Excellence.  Which I suppose, when I consider it, surprising, because I'm so competitive and a bit of a perfectionist.  I've always found her encouraging, especially as someone who works from home (which can be a bit frowned upon in some ultraconservative Christian circles).  I'm only on Day 4 today, but I've already heard SO many good things.  One of the most powerful things that struck me was when Nancy Leigh DeMoss posed the question "How many magazines do you read in order to improve yourself?".  Expand that to include websites (Pinterest - I'm looking at you) and I felt absolutely, positively socked in the gut.  I love magazines and blogs and websites.  I'm a follower, not a leader, so I look to others for advice on how to be fit, a good mother, a good housekeeper, fashionable, well-read, crafty, more Christian, a better wife, a more productive businesswoman, and so on.  But how often do I look to the real "how to" guide to life to become all of those things, and most importantly, a woman of excellence?  Of course I'm speaking of the Bible.  Oh, I read my Bible quite a bit, and I've taken my church's annual Read-Through-the-Bible-in-a-Year challenge this year.  But I don't quite treat it as I treat Martha Stewart Living or InStyle magazine or my books by Lisa Terkeurst or even some of my favorite blogs listed here.  Too often I treat the Bible as a book of ideals, not a manual for every day living.  What a danger that is!  In light of it being January and people making New Years Resolutions, I read an article talking about how resolutions and the entire US culture of self-improvement is nothing but a marketing ploy, and it makes absolute sense.  IF you could "fix" yourself, following some easy steps, well, then you wouldn't need to buy any more magazines or products.  And that would be a big fat fail for them.  So, they carefully walk a fine line - telling you that you are broken and not good enough BUT if you could just do this, that or the other thing, you'd be perfect.  They build up hope, just enough to get you to start your efforts.  But it never lasts.  And, besides, it's not even MEANT to last, because you need to feel defeated and down on yourself so that when the next fad or program, or product comes along, you can follow it and line their pockets.  There's only one true Hope, the Hope that is everlasting.  He is who I need to direct all my efforts and strivings, and from Him alone will I truly be blessed.

Psalm 43:5
 Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
New Living Translation (NLT)


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bowl Party & Christmas Before Chuch

We traditionally like to have family over once during the Christmas season. Now, I said once, and that is precisely what I mean. I have a tendency to turn into a raving lunatic when it comes to having people over. I don't know why this happens to me, but it does. Probably because I'm still too busy trying to impress people - with a clean house and good food. I know, I know, I've got my priorities all mixed up - be patient with me, I'm a work in progress. And, my in-laws are probably the most undemanding people I know in terms of caring how my house looks and how the food works out.  Anyhow, we've chosen the Boise State bowl game the last two years because it's right before Christmas, and this year ran similarily. We actually had some fun preparing all the yummy appetizers and enjoyed sharing it with family. Unfortunately the game was not so much fun - James had to leave for work halfway through and I had to pick Allegra up from Nutcracker and literally missed the last nail-biting minutes of the game (Boise State ended up winning by two points, yay!). Ah well - better luck next year!

Our spread included assorted Christmas cookies and candies, pinecone shaped cheese spread (super cute and I will totally do that again - it's a cheese spread with whole unblanched almonds layered to look like a pinecone trimmed with rosemary "boughs"), eggnog dip with fresh fruit and pound cake, ham, cheese, and olive picks, cocktail weiners in sauce, ghetto dip (velveeta, no bean chili, and green chilis - delightfully tacky, if I do say so myself), and chips and salsa.
This year presented us with a "dressing up" dilemma. The kids had their Sunday School program two weeks before Christmas. So, should they wear their Christmas clothes for that, or for Sunday the 23rd? I stressed out about this at the beginning of the month, but as activities started to gather steam, it started mattering less and less. In the end, they wore their Christmas clothes for the Sunday School program and James and I wore our Christmas clothes for the following Sunday. (((sigh))) Some day I will grow out of being overdramatic, right? 

Mom and kids

Just the kids - not a bad picture, but Colin was the one being difficult that day.  There's always one...

Dad and the kids (yes, Allegra is totally make-upped up, as she went straight from church to a performance of The Nutcracker - and no, we normally don't allow our 10 year olds to wear makeup)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Modest Monday

I'm going to intersperse catching up from the holidays with current posts, so bear with me for a few days as I (hopefully) catch up. I wanted to make a special point to do a Modest Monday post, as I made extra sure to take a picture on Saturday because it was my casual weekender outfit (and something I have and would wear on a weekday at home as well) and I really love it! I think the color pairing of navy and mustard is classic but unexpected. I like the ease and comfort of the knit navy skirt (it's the only non-patterned, non black/khaki skirt in my wardrobe) and I dress up the plain mustard cardigan with a removable navy floral pin. You could also put the pin in your hair if you had a ponytail or French Twist in (for me, leaving my hair down is actually my "dressy" look, as it takes more work to do that then to put it up because I have to flat iron it). I wasn't wearing shoes in my pictures because we were getting ready to go out on a Costco run and I wore my winter Uggs, which are functional, but not exactly pretty, and the bottoms are covered in ice melt and that's a no-go on my newish carpet in my music room.

White Layering Tee - From Kohls (@ $10, last year)
Yellow Cardigan - Merona from Target (gift from Dad during my last visit)
Navy Corsage Pin - From Old Navy two years ago (@$7)
Skirt - Eddie Bauer via Resale Shop (25 cents years and years ago)

Here's a closeup of the corsage - wouldn't it also look pretty in a french twist or low messy bun?  It has both a traditional pin as well as an alligator clip, so it's super versatile.  Unfortunately I don't have a lot of navy in my wardrobe so I don't get much use out of it.  The necklace is a fave of mine too - it was my mother's, custom designed by her (and made by her goldsmith), a starburst pattern with seven diamonds which came from my Gramma's jewelry that my mom had reworked just months before she passed away.  So, it was "free" to me, but worth several thousand dollars.  I never used to "get" the love of fine jewelry.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't turn it down, but it wasn't something I was into, for sure.  But I've really seen the upshot of it upon inheriting my great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother's jewellery after my mom passed away in April.  It's a tangible heirloom that makes me feel physically connected to the women who represent my past and everything about who I am, as a human woman.  The more I mature, the more I feel connected to my past.  Unfortunately, for me, all of the women on my mother's side are with Jesus now, so it's a bit of a bittersweet revelation.  How I wish I had treasured them so fully and looked to them for inspiration, advice, and stories when they were here and I took them for granted!  So, for me now, I hold onto my heirloom jewelry tight.  The women in my family had fine taste, and so they are worth quite a lot, but honestly that's not at all where their value lies.  Their value lies in their history and their sentimental meaning.  I know this because I also have a huge amount of jewelry that my mother hand-made and that is equally as precious to me, although worth a fraction of the "real" jewelry.  I thank the Lord that I have four beautiful daughters to pass these down to, and I hope that some day, as they mature into women, they realize the power, dignity, and beauty of understanding their womanly heritage through the generations.  It seems, at times, a daunting task to me, as a 34 year old woman, to take over the mantle of matriarch, but by the grace of God I will manage, and I pray fervently someday that my grown children will sing my praises as a woman of virtue (I'm doing a Proverbs 31 challenge right now, in case you can't tell - more to come about that soon!).


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cecily's Christmas Program

The Christmas program at Shepherd of the Valley Preschool doesn't change much, and this is the seventh we've attended - so I think we could sing along most of the songs with the kids.  But we looked forward to this one because we heard from her teacher's how enthusiastically Cecily sang.  She is a cutie with a big voice for such a petite frame and it was fun to see her in her first "big kid" program as a part of her 3 year olds preschool class!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Modern Modest Christmas Fashion (in Retrospect)

Ah, well this is much later than I wanted to post, but I've felt absolutely no draw towards the computer or the online world at large over the holiday break, which was wonderful! Now that the kids are back in their regular school routine, and I'm slowly getting back into my blessed routine (can you tell how much I LOVE routine), I can play catch-up on my blog. First, a delayed Modest Monday post. This was my official "Christmas" outfit, which I wore to the Sunday Christmas service (we went on Christmas Eve too, but that's more of an abbreviated, carol-singing get-together). It was one of my favorites!  I like the pairing of the frilly, romantic blouse with the fitted denim jacket, and I also like the mix of traditional red plaid a-line (it's not as slim a cut as it looks in the picture - I was just standing funny, apparently) wool skirt with more contemporary stuff on top.  It felt perfectly holiday without looking too themey. 

Head Covering - Mocha Stretch Lace from Garlands of Grace ($18)
Denim Jacket - Liz Claiborne (free hand-me-down from Mom)
Cream Sleeveless Blouse with Tie Neck - Old Navy purchased two years ago for less than $5
Skirt - Worthington (free hand-me-down from Mom)
Black Leggings - Cuddle Duds from Kohl's (about $12)
Black Tall Boots - Ros Hommerson from eBay ($65)