Things My Kids Say Thursday #10

Things My Kids Say Thursday #10

Son (8 yrs.): What is tofu?

Me: It’s a food people eat instead of meat, why?

Son: I always thought it was food made from toes.

– • – • – • – • –

I was a good mom and corrected him.. BUT if I’d had more presence of mind through the laughter I could have let him go on thinking that and had a pretty fun surprise meal waiting for him later…. 😂

“I made this for you!”

“I made this for you!”

“I made you this!” These are often the proud words of:

A. Anyone who has ever considered herself crafty, or

B. Any child who has ever finger painted, paper crafted, or demolished his or her parent’s personal belongings and glued them into a new creation

(Photo credit: Karly Santiago)

It’s a highly anticipated moment to finally gift someone with a creation from your own hands, whatever it may be. The long hours and unwholesome- I mean loving words that go into making a special gift make that moment worth it. Bringing life to piles of stuff and making them into a fully formed and materialized idea is a special experience. Some may see it as a frivolous use of time or materials, but I see it as an opportunity to explore a characteristic of God- one we exhibit because we are made in His image.

The first five words of the Bible are these:

“In the beginning God created…”

God was a creator. It’s easy to remember that He made the heavens and the earth and so on, but have you ever stopped to think how plain and boring He could have made each thing? The sky could have been white and the earth could have been shades of gray, and so on with every creation in between. He could have created one food with one flavor for us. (Thank you God that you gave us good food, amen!) But stop and take a look around- God…. was a creator. He created purposeful things and beautiful things, and countless combinations of the two.

(Photo credit: rawpixel)

This is an exciting observation for an artistic person like me because Genesis 1 gives another truth not long after this first inspiring verse. It says that human beings are made in God’s image. So if God is a creator and He made me to resemble Him, that means that there is some creative power in me, too.

Somewhere along in life I stumbled upon this perspective-changing quote from Leo Buscaglia:

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

Maybe you’ve talked yourself out of creative pursuits, either believing they aren’t worthwhile or that they won’t sustain you. It’s certainly not unheard of for a person to do this, but I’m here to encourage you to make wise use of the gifts God gave you! I believe that there is a way to honor God with every skill and talent He gives us. And what’s more- I believe they are connected to how you pursue your purpose. Our purpose in this life is to love God and love people, but the beauty is that God has blessed us with so many ways to do those things. He made no mistakes when carefully deciding what skills to give to each of us.

If you sew, make items for those in need. If you are useful with building, help an unable neighbor with some much needed home repairs. If you paint, make a beautiful piece for someone who needs cheering up. There is always a way show love through your own personal God-given skill set.

What are some of your skills and talents? How have you found ways to use them to “gift back to God”?

And A Happy New Year!

And A Happy New Year!

(Photo credit: Brooke Lark)

Hey friends- guess what! December marks ONE YEAR of Jess Kidding– and what a fun one it’s been!

Throughout this year I’ve written a little, and learned a lot. I’ve met countless wonderful people through this online space, and have even been remembered by some of you for a few fun award nominations. I’m so grateful to each person who has taken the time to explore this blog, and I’m thankful that God helped me remember one of my true passions in writing.

– • – • – • – • –

Come On, 2019

Well, you know what they say about accountability and reaching your goals! It’s important, or something like that. 🤷🏻‍♀️ So why not share a few hopes for 2019?

The idea of setting goals for a new year has always been exciting to me because there is just something about making a list that makes my little Type A heart so happy. It’s such a great way to set an intention and bring about the hope and excitement of a positive change. Plus, sharing your goals with the ones you love usually means they can help you along, nudge you when your resolve becomes stale, or well, tease you when February comes and you’ve forgotten about a few of them.

(Photo credit: Georgia de Lotz)

So here’s a few small things I’m hoping to conquer in 2019:

1. Live with less

  • I have been so captivated by the idea of minimalism. I’ve read and researched the intentions behind it and how to go about making decisions and taking action to declutter your life. I am a person who loves organization and wide open spaces, and am looking forward to taking steps toward living with less and filling my heart with more of what matters.
  • 2. Quilt
    • (Any quilters out there?!) I’m a crafty being at heart. Creating makes me content and over the last year I have come to love sewing. I’ve been studying quilting at the good old school of YouTube and just bought my first true quilt pattern and supplies. I’ve made blankets and rag quilts but can’t wait to get started on a real quilt.

    3. Choose 3 unhealthy foods to eliminate from my diet

    • That’s right. I’m not looking to lose a bunch of weight, or committing to running 5 miles a day. I just want to make a small change to make my life a little healthier.

    4. Maintain my morning Bible time

    • Being the first one up when the house is quiet and spending quality time with God has made an extraordinary change in my mood, my attitude, and my life. It’s my goal to keep this up!
  • – • – • – • – • –
  • There you have it! I try not to set goals that are so big that they become discouraging or impossible. Instead, I like to focus on just a few things that will bring a little more peace and happiness into my life. I think each of these things can also help me to bring peace and happiness to others as well. If my space is less cluttered, it can become a better space to show hospitality. If I become a successful quilter I can have something meaning to gift to people to show them love. If I’m healthier, I teach my kids to be healthier. And if I stick close to the words of God, I can live by them and help others to do the same.

    If you’d like to hear more about my progress with decluttering, quilting, or any of these resolutions, let me know in the comments below. I’d also love to hear what some of you are resolving to do in this new year and be a source of encouragement for you!

    Until next year….

    I hope 2019 becomes a year of many blessings and easy lessons for you all. I hope that the changes you make bring you closer to Christ and closer to each other. And I hope that you are led on the path that God has set for you, and never stray from it.

    Happy New Year my friends!

    (Photo credit: Lauza Loistl)

    Waiting is Hard

    Waiting is Hard

    “JUICE!” cried my tiny boss, when asked if she would like her purple butterfly cup refilled. Her little feet stamped and stomped, rambunctious with anticipation.

    “BOD#%ZTX!”*

    *(Translation: ‘bottle’.)

    The volume of her demands was rising, as if controlled by an internal radio knob. She was almost in full meltdown when at last- the bottle of juice was in plain sight. Her whining turned to giggles when she realized that I had not made her any false promises and the object of her desire was just moments away. Suddenly the waiting for her became bearable, and she became content knowing that she would receive what she’d asked for.

    (Photo credit: Brooke Lark)

    – • – • – • – • –

    Man, I can be a toddler. Waiting is hard, right? Whatever my proverbial juice bottle, I tend to want it when I want it, especially when it’s something big. I bow my head to pray about it, and then open my eyes half expecting it to already be before me. Even when I pray for God’s perfect timing, I still hold out hope that His timing might fit my schedule.

    Our wish lists aren’t always fulfilled on the “Christmas Day” that we have imprinted on our minds when we ask for them. Sometimes the wait even dampens our faith or enthusiasm for our prayer life. It’s so much easier to hold onto that prayer of perfect timing when we see the juice being poured into our bottle right before our eyes because patience is just easier when a reward is promised and visible.

    (Photo credit: Annie Spratt)

    The comfort in waiting is that regardless of your request, God does promise a reward:

    “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

    ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭NLT

    1. Give your worries to God
    2. Pray- tell God what you need
    3. Express your gratitude

    God’s peace- His perfect peace- is our promised reward when we do these simple things.

    I myself am in a season of waiting. I stumbled into a closed door recently, mostly because I had a mask of expectation obstructing my vision. It made me realize that sometimes the blessings sneak in through the window, or the back door, or heck- parachute down from the sky. We don’t always see where God’s answer is going to come from or what it’s going to be. We can’t always expect to see someone filling our order and handing it to us. When we wait, sometimes the answer is an easy ‘yes’, sometimes the answer is ‘not yet’, and sometimes the answer is something even better, though we may not fully understand the entirety of that in this lifetime.

    “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    God is planning something big for your life. His plans are above yours or mine and so we have to keep an open mind for what our answer may look like.

    (Photo credit: Annie Snow)

    If you are in a season of waiting, I’m praying that this time develops your vision for blessings, and that you may see God’s goodness and answers all around you. I hope that your wait is made as short or long as is necessary for God to develop patience and perspective in you.

    Good Morning, Proverbs Woman

    Good Morning, Proverbs Woman

    I came across a great post recently with tips on how to start your morning like a Proverbs 31 woman. ‘Teach me your ways, oh blogger,’ I thought to myself as I clicked on the link. In true millennial form, I skimmed through the bullet points first to determine if it was worth reading through- ‘I have a busy day, after all. Projects to sew, baby to chase.’ You get it.

    (Photo credit: freestocks.org)

    As I skimmed I realized a couple of things. First, I caught myself wanting more. More information, more reading on this topic, more Proverbs 31 traits applied to my life. Oh to be this super hero woman the Bible talks about!

    But the second thing I noticed surprised me. ‘Wait a minute,’ I thought. ‘I already do some of these.’ With each tip I reflected on my own habits, which to my surprise were aligning nicely with the advice in the post (though there is surely much room for improvement.) Let me just say that I can’t take credit for this though, as my morning routine has most definitely been shaped and helped along by the Lord who knows I need Him before I tackle my day. As the months have gone on I find myself getting up earlier and earlier, eager to sit with Him each morning. The increasing contentment I find in this has not been lost on me, and is undoubtedly God’s way of shaping my morning habits and my heart.

    (Photo credit: rawpixel)

    One of the biggest things that struck me about this post (linked below) was a simple truth the writer shared:

    “Work with willing hands. We have been created to work. Even in the Garden of Eden, Mankind was given the task of caring for the land and animals. Stop treating your work as the enemy and start working with willing hands.”

    Oh! Would you like a slice of humble pie with that big dish of tough love? Am I the only one who honestly appreciates being served hard truths like these?

    “We have been created to work.”

    “Stop treating your work as the enemy.”

    Sometimes you don’t even realize the state of your heart on a matter until someone comes along and reveals it for you, which is what I felt these statements did for me. It’s not difficult to make your work out to be an enemy, especially when it’s tiresome, you feel unappreciated or unseen, or you lack a sense of purpose in it. My attitude toward my workload has definitely changed for the better over the past year and a half since I’ve been home, but still, I know my heart needs work.

    Nevertheless, I’ve slowly developed my own helpful morning habits and thought I’d share with you all today. Below are a few things I do that help to keep my path straight throughout the day and plant in me a positive attitude toward my work.

    1. Be the first one up

    Yes, this one took a while for me. I’d tried to sneak in my Bible time in other ways, but found that it wasn’t as productive as it could be. And what’s more, being flexible about that time turned into skipping it entirely when other needs came up. By starting my day early I ensure that my quiet time with God is not compromised, and is a non-negotiable part of my day. What I’ve found is that I’ve been waking up earlier and earlier over the last months and am even happy to get out of bed in the mornings. The Lord leans in to help (and boot us out of bed) when we take these steps of faith!

    2. Practice Gratitude

    Before any other words come between me and God, I thank Him for what I already have. Giving praise has a way of resetting your heart and setting the course for your attitude.

    (Photo credit: Gabrielle Cole)

    3. Be intentional- set a plan for your day

    As the stay-at-home mom of a toddler, I make sure to allow as much flexibility as possible in our schedule. I do however like to make a ‘To Do’ list that I can work through during the day. Having a plan doesn’t necessarily mean that every moment is mapped out, but more so that there is a clear intention for my time. If I am intentional I can fill my time in a meaningful way, rather than let the enemy fill my schedule with meaningless distractions.

    4. Pray for strength in your weaknesses

    We all know our weak spots, and so does God. But do we bring these to Him? I know that as I sit and plan my day, the enemy plans right alongside me and tries to trip me up. My weaknesses make an easy target for him to get me off track. But if I’m diligently praying for the Lord’s help and provision in these areas, I am doing more to set myself up for success than any list ever can.

    5. Make your beauty routine minimal

    I don’t know about other women, but I’ve definitely gone through phases with this. In my teens and early twenties it was more unusual for me to put on makeup than it was for me to go without. Somewhere along the way however I got caught up in watching the social media circle of beauty influencers and became very interested in makeup. This not only became an expensive habit, but a very time consuming one. On top of that, it was also costing me self-esteem in a big way. The more I altered my appearance with makeup, the more I felt I had to. This has been a hard habit to let go of, but wise words from 1 Peter have made this transition much easier for me:

    “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God and accepted the authority of their husbands.”

    ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    Knowing your identity in Christ and letting Him make you beautiful from the inside out is key!

    (Photo credit: Raphael Lovaski)

    When you are firm in your understanding of your true identity, you will find that your beauty routine begins to lose its purpose. Steps and products begin to disappear from your regimen, and become replaced by confidence as a woman of Christ. This allows more time in your day to spend with Him, and more space in your heart and mind to be filled by Him.

    I definitely find that anytime I start making changes and forming habits that strengthen my faith, the Lord meets me where I am. It’s said in Philippians 2:13 that God works in us, giving us not only the power, but also the desire to do what pleases Him. This is definitely true, especially when we start taking the baby steps.

    I hope this little post will help you to consider your own morning routine and what you can do in those early hours to set you on the right path for the day.

    I would love to know some of the things you do in the morning to worship, study, schedule, or get closer to God. Let me know in the comments below!

    (To see the post which inspired this one, visit The Thin Place.)

    Joy & Thanksgiving!

    Joy & Thanksgiving!

    When we decided to update my son’s bedroom for his eighth birthday, I had the brilliant idea of incorporating a chalk wall. I felt it would be a great place to leave scripture for him to see and read every day, and perhaps encourage him to read a little on his own as well. It took a pricey mistake and learning the difference between chalk paint and chalkboard paint, but he finally has his wall! 😂

    As I was reading last month I found this scripture, and how fitting to find it in the Thanksgiving season! It’s been a great verse for him (and his wall!)

    – • –

    I wish endless blessings for each of you this season and always! Enjoy this time as an opportunity to set aside your normal day-to-day tasks and open your eyes fully to the blessings God has given you in abundance. And I, of course, will continue to be thankful for all of you!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭28:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    Does anyone else have a chalk wall in their home? Let me know what creative things you do with yours and if you’d like to see more of ours!

    How Delightful!

    How Delightful!

    The room was dimly lit with the sleepy light of a late summer day of rain. The rocking chair I’d settled into was neatly angled from the corner of our comfortable living room, and in close proximity to the fresh country air pouring in from the wide open window. The sound of water up against the porch awning was gentle and unobtrusive, more comforting than any lullaby.

    I rested my head on the back of the rocker as it glided back and forth. I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude. I was thankful that my husband was off working at a job that provided for our family, that my son was sitting in classes he enjoyed, and for the bliss of being nestled beneath the weight of a sleeping baby.

    (Photo credit: Danielle Dolson)

    “This is Heaven,” I thought. I knew even then that it was one of the best moments I had ever, and maybe would ever, experience in my lifetime. I was deeply contented and my heart was truly delighted.

    “Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.”

    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    Oh, those traveling verses! Have you ever come across a line of scripture that begins to follow you around? You start to see it on wall hangings, on a passerby’s t-shirt, or maybe more subtly in a book you’re reading or in conversation with a stranger.

    This Psalms passage has been making itself known and as I read it again, a line jumped out at me: “take delight in the Lord”. Do you ever find that there are some common phrases in the Bible or church setting that we kind of take for granted and may not have spent time figuring out? This line occurred to me as a “taken for granted” kind of line, particularly because of what is said next: “take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desire.” Well sign me up! The last part peeked my interest because of course, who doesn’t want to be granted their heart’s desire?! It’s like the Bible is saying- God will give you whatever you want, just follow this simple instruction! So naturally you backtrack to examine the instruction more carefully, (and while there is more to it) its true meaning becomes clearer.

    (Photo credit: Monika Grabkowska)

    To get a better grip on the phrase “to delight in”, I tried to plug it into my own life. Here’s what I came up with:

    • I delight in peaceful rainy days with the windows open like the one I described earlier.
    • I delight in funny cat videos.
    • I thoroughly delight in long slow walks through Joann Fabrics with a hot coffee in my hand.
    • I delight in seeing my kids play well together and not push each other into piles of Lego’s.

    The phrase begins to take shape. “Where is your heart?” it seems to say. Now I could edit my post and put “I delight in doing God’s will and studying His Word” at the top, but if I’m being honest, it wasn’t the first thing I thought of. The little joys in life- which are certainly supplied by God- were my more immediate thoughts. Of course there is delight in living a God-led life, but it’s often His blessings that catch our attention first.

    While it’s good to enjoy what God has given us, we shouldn’t allow it to replace our delight in the Lord. As the passage says- take delight in the LORD and he will give you your heart’s desires. The gifts in this life are to be enjoyed, but soon pass away. Our heart should find its happiness in the One who never fades or ends or changes, because then our joy will be unwavering, too. If we delight in the Lord, our desires will naturally evolve to ones that are good and pleasing to Him, and I believe He will in turn grant them.

    (Photo credit: Lesly Juarez)

    “He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.”

    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    So what does God delight in? He delights in us- our hearts devoted to Him! There’s no need to get caught up on figuring out any more than that. Just as we delight in our children, so God delights in us. Psalms makes sure to rule out the unnecessary as well:

    “You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand — you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.”

    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    God doesn’t need us to check serving, attending service, or activity in a small group off of our list- even though those are things that often come naturally as a result of a devoted heart. He just wants to be the priority on our list. When we study His Word and really grasp what it is to have His Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we will find delight in Him and doing His will becomes a natural side effect.

    “I delight to do Your will, O my God; yes, Your law is within my heart. [Heb. 10:5-9.]”

    ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

    It’s the beginning of what I hope is a delightful holiday week for you all! Enjoy your many blessings as you reflect on them this week- and feel free to share a little about them in the comments below!

    Things My Kids Say Thursday #8

    Things My Kids Say Thursday #8

    My 8-year-old son is such a trooper!

    Early last month he broke his arm (his left arm- and he’s a lefty, of course.) There were no tears in the ER or even at the office when he was having his cast put on. The weekly X-rays he had done afterward were looking good for a short time- but then one revealed healing wasn’t happening quite as it should and so we scheduled a procedure to have the issue corrected.

    He kept his cool as the medical team prepped him, but I could see that the IV was nerve wracking for him. After all was said and done, (and the procedure went well,) he recapped his experience with his dad. Since I was the only one able to be with him in the prep area before his procedure, he was telling Dad all about what they did to get him ready. He then explained his stress at having the IV started:

    Son: When they started talking about an “IV” the first thing I thought of was poison IVY!

    – • – • – • – • –

    In all my careful explanation before taking him in for his procedure, I had apparently failed to explain just what an IV actually is. This poor kid- no wonder he was stressed about it!

    What are things your kids have misheard or misunderstood that have made you laugh?

    Best Dad Ever

    Best Dad Ever

    Every once in a while I catch a case of wanderlust and sneak onto a travel site. I check out different locations and see how many mortgage payments it would cost to go to my dream location. I wonder what it would be like to slip on some giant sunnies, board a plane, and step off of it in a Mediterranean paradise. Or what it would be like to take an Instagram-worthy photo of the best foreign food- assuming my camera was faster than my fork.

    (Photo credit: Shifaaz shamoon)

    While I’ve never been overseas, there are countless pictures, personal accounts, and even movies to tell me what it must be like. It seems so different from what I know, but it becomes easy to imagine and wish for. Even with all the information I can find online, having never experienced it, I don’t really know what it’s like in those distant countries I admire.

    (Photo credit: Zach Ward)

    Sometimes there are aspects of our relationship with God that can be difficult to experience or understand because of lacking elements in our earthly relationships.

    One aspect of our connection to God that I’ve always loved and held dear is our relationship with Him as a father. Understanding who God is as a father is a crucial part of understanding His importance in our lives. But how can you do that if you’ve never had a right relationship with your own earthly father?Understandably, it’s difficult.

    How can I know what a fresh cannoli tastes like in a mom and pop Italian bakery if I’ve never been to Italy? How can I know what it smells like when it rains on the streets of Paris if I’ve never walked them? And how can I experience God’s fatherly love and the consistency of His presence in my life if I’ve not had that from my human father?

    (Photo credit: Derek Thomson)

    For starters, know that this is a place for your faith to grow.

    “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.”

    ‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    It’s said that there are things concerning how God works that we’re not meant to know or understand in this life, and this may be one of them for some of us.

    But if you peek into the lives of others, you’ll see that you are not singled out- that there are opportunities for faith to grow in them, too. For those who struggle with addiction, their opportunity may be in the long recovery process. For those who are limited due to illness or inability, their opportunity may be in their limits. And for some of us, our opportunity for faith to be grown may be in a hurt or missing parental relationship.

    If we lack these things- sobriety, physical ability, emotional stability, etc.- how do we fill the space they should inhabit? What a beautiful empty room those things create to be filled with God’s presence, beauty, and great ability to provide.

    (Photo credit: Philipp Berndt)

    If you don’t know what to expect from God as your father or how to identify Him in that way because of a lacking relationship, Psalm 145 gives great representation of our Heavenly Father:

    Fatherly Characteristics of God (According to Psalm 145)

    God is……..

    • Merciful (v. 8)
    • Compassionate (v. 8, 9)
    • Slow to anger (v. 8)
    • Filled with unfailing love (v. 8)
    • Good to everyone (v. 9)
    • Promise keeper (v. 13, also Psalm 146:6)
    • Gracious (v. 13)
    • Righteous (v. 17)
    • Filled with kindness (v. 17)
    • Protector (v. 20, also Psalm 144:2)

    In His grace, God has planted in His Word all the information we need to have a clear picture of who He is as our father. Though we may not have the chance to experience these qualities in our human relationships, God is faithful and fulfills them all- not just some! In the emptiness a broken relationship can leave behind, God fills the space and overflows from it with his abundance of loving qualities. We can relate to Him because we learn through His Word who He is, and we build trust by relying on Him consistently.

    Some of us may never get the social media-worthy photo of extravagant travels or Norman Rockwell family moments. (Even if we did, surely we’re wise enough by now to know that there is always production magic going on behind the scenes to make those things appear better than they really are.) But there are no special effects in the image scripture gives us of God the Father. It’s cut and dry- a candid depiction of the constant qualities of the only unfailing parent we will ever know.

    And what’s more, God is eternal and omnipresent. That’s forever. That’s everywhere. That’s never waiting on the front porch in disappointment realizing He isn’t going to show, or living life after He’s gone. He is always with us, completely constant in all of His perfect qualities.

    If you’re left wanting from your earthly parental relationships, take heart in this scripture from Psalms 27:

    “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”

    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:10 NLT

    What great encouragement it is to know that we are never alone, even if our most foundational relationships in this life fail! God is always close to us, and always able to supply His perfect peace if we are faithful to ask for it.

    What quality of God as a father are you most thankful for?