16 April 2014

an easy project: color crayon makeover

When I was a kid, I cherished every single color crayon in my possession. It may have dismayed me greatly when one broke unexpectedly and had to be sharpened because that meant that crayon losing its full coloring potential. So you can understand that parenting a boy who relishes the opportunity to purposely break every crayon he comes in contact with is building my character and patience. Often. And we have a lot of broken crayons. 

Yesterday I was looking at the bin of brokenness with anguish. Hundreds of broken crayons. Literally. I salvaged 13 whole crayons out of countless bits. 

So, in an effort to redeem that sorry little rainbow, I set to give our crayons new life.
And you can, too! It is so easy and fairly painless, if you don't mind peeling away a few labels. It's not bad busy work for the preschool crowd, either. 

My two little helpers and I got to work, and we were ready to give our crayons new life in no time. 

Just grab a mini muffin tin and some liners. Sort your crayons by color and peel off the labels. Distribute broken pieces evenly - you'll want to fill them to the top. You can mix your colors for some fun, swirly, tie dye crayons, or match them up.  Preheat your oven to 275 and bake for about 10 minutes, until all the pieces have melted. Let your pan cool on the counter for a few minutes, then pop the whole tin in the fridge until they're completely cool and solid. (If you pull them out too soon, the liners will be hard to peel off.)  Pop them out of the pan, remove cupcake liners and voila! 

The added bonus is that these little beauties are practically unbreakable. Which works out well in our house. 

Have fun and make something pretty!

02 April 2014

hope spoken, a surprised heart.

A couple of weeks ago, Nick and I were standing in the kitchen, doing dishes and chatting, catching up after the kids went to bed. I was sharing some things that had been bothering me. Things he already knew about, but felt fresh that day. 
He stopped and asked, "Do you believe God wants to take care of that?" 
"Of course," I said, and kept wiping down the stove.
He walked over to me, looked straight into my eyes and said, "I know you know that God wants to take care of it. In your head. But do you believe that God cares about it more than you do and that He wants to change it for you? That He loves you that much? That it's up to Him and not up to you?"
Whoa, buddy. I'm just trying to clean the kitchen.
I knew he was right, that I needed to trust God with whatever it was that was on my heart, to let him have it. 
And in that moment, a little stirring began.

Fast forward to last week. Nick kept telling me how excited he was for what God was going to do for me at Hope Spoken. I nodded and smiled every time he said it, but really in my head I just kept thinking, "I know God is going to do great things, but I'm there to help, there to catch up with my girls, and be available for my small group." I was excited to hear the speakers and hear some good worship and be in the presence of my dearest friends.
photo credit: meghan newsom

So you can imagine my surprise when God wrecked my heart on Saturday morning.
Standing in the very back of the ballroom, amidst the twinkly lights, holding my baby, the worship began. The lyrics from the song Bless the Lord took up residence in my soul in a way they hadn't before.

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

As I sang those words, Nick's challenge kept whispering back to me: "Do you believe that He loves you that much? That He wants to take away whatever is weighing you down?" And then the voice changed, His Spirit whispering to my spirit, "He loves you. You."
My children came to mind, each of them so dear to me, each one possessing an ability to cause my heart to absolutely crumble with my love for them. Not because of anything they do, but just because they are. "That," Jesus whispered to me. "It's a mere shadow of the way that I feel about you."

I stood there, in the dimly lit ballroom, watching 250 women sing their praises to Jesus, my own heart quaking inside of me. Believing for the first time in a long time that it was okay to accept that His love is just as endless and magnanimous for me in my small nothingness as it is for all of creation. Wrecked.

Following worship, we heard from Shauna Niequist, and she told me that I needed to stop trying to impress with my own version of capable, stop wearing exhaustion like a badge of honor. Let go of busyness and grab onto Love. I could have walked away from that one hour of the conference and been good. Had enough to think about and take in and process and be changed by. But there was more, so much more, and my heart is still absorbing it and sorting it all out.
photo credit: emily anderson (ivah's new bestie)

I left the conference feeling sadness and joy, brokenness and healing, exhaustion and refreshment. One of the women in my small group said she has walked away from experiences like these with her checklist of changes to make, things to do. But this was different. She was walking away feeling stirred. Called to remember that He is doing something, that He is with her. 

That's what I feel.
It's a new day dawning. It's time to sing His song again.

photo credit: meghan newsom

14 March 2014

love keeps no record, and how I discipline my kids

Having two four year olds under one roof can be a fairly refining thing. I love my boys to no end, they make me laugh every single day. They delight me. 

But also.

Four year olds test their limits. Or rather, they test my limits as a parent. For example, yesterday I was heading upstairs to change one of the baby's diapers, when I asked one of my boys to sit down and finish his lunch, and I'd be right back. I barely made it to the changing table when I heard a door slam and high pitched preschool laughter coming from the backyard. Immediately I was annoyed. Sure, they can go play outside and I want them to have fun, but I kind of want them to follow directions, too. 
Let it slide, I said to myself.
I finished up with the baby and headed back downstairs, peeking outside through our great big window halfway down the staircase. And there he was, my little adventurer, digging holes in the compost. With a saw. Here's the thing: this was the third day in a row this exact scenario had taken place. (Apparently we need a more creative place to store tools than the backyard shed with a the 50 pound door. Like I said, limits tested.)
Now I was really ticked. I marched outside and told him in a firm, yet calm, voice to get himself inside immediately. He looked at me, looked at the saw, sorrow crossing his brow, and walked into the house. I sent him to his room while I tended to his sister, all the while fuming inside.

I went into his room where he was throwing everything off his bed and stomping his feet in protest to his consequences and I started in. I told him, not calmly, how frustrated I was that this was the third day in a row I had to tell him not to touch the saw. That I was upset he didn't sit and finish his lunch like I'd asked, that when he does A, B, and C, I lose my patience.

And in that moment I felt God whispering some truth in my ear.
We've likely all heard or read 1 Corinthians 13 and Paul's description of real love. Yesterday one verse in particular came into my heart and mind: "it keeps no record of wrongs." How often, in the heat of the moment, do I remind my children of past offenses. Of what they'd done the day before, the week before, that they are doing again and again. Can you imagine if that's what God did with us? "Well, Carina, I know you're sorry that you messed up, but do you remember this is exactly what you did on Tuesday, too? When are you going to figure it out?" 

Galatians 5 says "it is for freedom that Christ set us free." Lamentations 3 tells us that "his mercies are new every morning." Psalm 103 says that He takes our sins and casts them "as far as the east is from the west." These are His promises. Can I offer the same to my children, to my husband, to my family and friends and neighbors?

It is my call as their mother to teach them right from wrong, to provide consequences when they do something that can harm them or cause harm to others. When they make bad choices and need redirection. Those are teaching moments. It is not my job to recall every wrong to prove a point. I am heaping a heavy, hopeless burden on them when I do that. It won't work with my children or in my marriage or in my friendships. I want to love them and help them thrive and lead them closer to Heaven, to Him. 

It's hard. Because I am a failing, flailing, winging it mother of five. Thank God He's with me in all of this. He can give me the strength and grace I need to do right by my kids. He can fill the (many) gaps and I take comfort in knowing that His promises are true, even for me.

*and just for everyone's peace of mind, the saw is now hidden at a great height, that I'm not sure even an adult can reach. 
always on my toes around here. (literally.)

03 March 2014

seek depth

I've never really chosen a word for the year and I'm not much for resolutions. But this year I felt like God was nudging me toward some kind of focus. And the words that kept coming back to me were "seek depth". Depth in my faith, depth in my relationships, in my marriage, in my prayer life, in all the things I love. I am one who gets excited about new things, new projects, new people, new ideas... I dip my toes into 518 different pools at any given time. Sometimes I pursue so many little things that interest me, I end up never really enjoying any of them fully. I have a million tiny ideas floating around in my mind and just end up a little scattered and disjointed. 

I realize it's March and 2014 started months ago. But that's the way it goes with me. 
I did actually start praying through these words from the beginning, feeling God pulling me in closer. And it isn't all spiritual - I feel like I want to be better at the things I love - the things I do for my business and the hobbies that bring me joy - like photography and food and sewing and writing.

I love to cook and bake. I love trying new foods and cooking with strange ingredients. My pinterest boards are full of endless recipes that have lured me in. But then I thought to myself - what about the basics? What about really knowing my ingredients and the best ways to use them? I went to the library and got a copy of the Joy of Cooking, which has been praised by the likes of Julia Child as "one of the most influential books of the 20th century". I think that might be a good place to start. So am I venturing forward and challenging myself to work my way through this little piece of American history. Not all 4000 recipes because... life. But to learn as many as I can and grow in depth even in the kitchen. I'm kind of excited about it. But then, I usually am when it comes to food.

Did you choose a word or phrase for the year? Is there something you want to delve more deeply into? I'd love to hear about it!

28 February 2014

a project for lent, for life

Lent starts on Wednesday! I don't even know how it's already March, but there you have it. And this week marks the beginning of the forty day period before Easter. If you've never done anything for Lent before, I'd encourage you to start this year - it makes the celebration of Easter all the more special. It's forty days of preparing our hearts, of offering something up that we're holding a little too tightly to, or giving to others, or committing to growing in our faith in some tangible way, or all three.

One thing I love doing every year is filling up our "rice bowl".  The idea is to fill it with your spare change, money you might save from giving up a regular treat, and so on, and then donating it at the end of the forty days. We choose to give ours to Catholic Relief Services, who distributes it to a few different communities with great need. If you order one of their rice bowls (it's free), they also include a calendar with daily readings and prayers, and several stories of families and communities they've helped or are currently working with. They also include recipes for meatless meals (that's another weekly tradition during Lent) and this year they've introduced a free app to track your own journey through Lent, as well as read stories of people all around the world who have been impacted by hunger.

Of course, you can always do your own "bowl" with your own favorite cause. Whether it's your local food bank, a struggling family in your neighborhood, a charity close to your heart  - it's a great project to do with kids to help remember those in need around the world and in our own communities.  Grab a mason jar, an envelope, a cute old tin - whatever you can find - and set it out somewhere where it can't be missed. When Lent is over, you'll have a tangible reminder of what you gave up to bless others!