T'was the Night After Christmas

One year ago, Christmas night, my husband and littles were next door sleeping.  I was sitting at the foot of my parents' bed, massaging my mom's feet with essential oils.  Her head had hurt so badly, and for so long, it was difficult for her to tell us if anything helped.  She barely smiled and nodded when I asked if massaging was helping, so I kept on softly rubbing her feet.  I reminisced about the last time I rubbed her feet, when she was expecting my siblings and her feet were swollen from late pregnancy.  I had always enjoyed doing that for her, and she would lavish me with thanks when I did.

My brother Josh quietly entered the room, and walked to Mom's bedside.  She weakly reached out and took his hand, whispering, "I like your pants".  She had picked out the Hollister sweatpants for him, and he unwrapped them that morning when we all exchanged our gifts.  It was a wonderful Christmas morning with her, as she sweetly bore the headache, the light, the noise, so that she could be with us for our presents.

She held Josh's hand there for awhile, while I rubbed her feet.  He leaned down for a soft hug and told her he loved her, before he headed to bed.  And I wept.  Rubbing her feet there in her room, I wept fearful tears.  I didn't know why for sure at the time, but there was a peculiar dread, one I had never known, filling my chest.  Peculiar, because while the dread brought the weeping, there was a stillness--God was good and I could trust him.

I finished my massaging, said a short prayer for her, told her I loved her and went next door to my sleeping family.  Just a few hours later, the morning of December 26th, my Mama would breathe her final earthly breath.

I had always feared this.  Just a month before, I had been struggling and praying for such fear.  The Lord had been preparing and challenging my heart to trust him even in my worst fears.  I had always pictured such a tragedy being experienced with frantic anxiety, loud weeping, unbelief, fear, and pain so intense that you can't breathe.  But from the moment I got the phone call from the ER, my Dad's broken voice telling me that she was gone, there was a stillness.
When I had to hold my siblings as they wept soft tears, and I with them...a stillness.
When I had to do what I never thought I would do...
pick out my mother's burial clothes, her casket, her flowers...a stillness
When I saw her earthen body, which barely resembled the lovely lady I knew in her life...a stillness.

He, my gracious Father, was with me.  And the deeper understanding I had of the good news of his Son, the deeper was my comfort.  I urge you, friends, to know the Gospel of this Savior.  To know Him and be found in Him (Phil. 3:8). Know the love our Maker demonstrated for us in him (Rom. 5:8).  Nothing else matters, and it won't merely be nice reminders in hard times--it, and most importantly HE, will be your fortress (Ps. 18:1-2).

I know Christmas can be the most difficult season for those who are grieving lost loved ones.  And while it's been really hard as it's come closer to the milestone of her passing, I've been thankful that she passed the day after Christmas.  The same time of year that we are reminded of how death struck us with painful loss, is the same time of year that we celebrate that death will not have the last laugh.  We celebrate the advent of the incarnate Word of God.
We celebrate the Cross of Calvary.
We celebrate his Resurrection.
And we celebrate his Second Advent.
When despair tempts us in our grief, we don't have to look very far;  in lights, Christmas trees, nativities, carols and hymns, traditions, and advent sermons, and we are bombarded with reminders of Christ and the hope he gave us with His life.



Wednesday Words

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Luke 11:27-28
"How great a privilege was it to this young virgin (Mary) to conceive in her womb and hold in her arms and suckle at her breasts, a Child who was the great and eternal and infinitely beloved Son of God, the Creator and mighty Governor of heaven and earth and the great Savior of mankind.  Well might she say upon it, "My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior."
But hearing and keeping the word of God renders a person more blessed than any of those privileges.  By 'hearing the Word of God' is either intended an external or an internal or spiritual hearing.  The woman to whom Christ directed himself in the text had been hearing the word externally.  Christ therefore here informs her that if she not only hears but keeps this word, he will render her more blessed than that privilege that she spoke of."
--Jonathan Edwards
Luke. English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2001. Print.
Edwards, Jonathan. "To Be More Blessed Than Mary." Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.
Comp. Nancy Guthrie. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 57. Print.
Parenthesis mine.


Happy Birthday, Bee!

Now that she's walking EVERYWHERE, we officially have a second toddler.  These days, you'll find our sweet Bee just trying (and thoroughly succeeding) to keep up with her big sister.  While still incoherent, she's quite the chatterbox and vocalist.  If she's not singing songs, she's dancing to them--which is a cute, bouncy, swaying, wobble.  Among her favorite songs are our Happy Song, the theme from Bubble Guppies and This is the Day (that the Lord has made).

Bee LOVES books.  Even if the book is bigger than her, thus she cannot carry it, you will see her army crawl across the floor dragging a large book behind her.  She's learned our inflections when we read, so it's the funniest thing to hear her read to herself in gibberish!  Her favorite books are picture/word books and Guess Who?.

She eats EVERYTHING.  Before I inflict jealousy on the moms of all the non-eating toddlers, I literally mean everything.  Her favorite non-food items are potting soil, raw russet potatoes, paper of any variety, anything from the trash and foamy soap.  I promise I don't feed her these things, I'm simply constantly getting it out of her mouth!

For her first birthday, we had a girly luncheon and tea party!  Her decorations were lace, pearls and flowers.  We used my Grandma's china, had soup and sandwiches, and chocolate and strawberry cupcakes!

While she's growing into her own temper, our little Bee has always been a tender sweetheart.  She loves to please, rarely complains and just goes with the flow.  But she also gets her feelings hurt very easily and often!  It's her favorite thing when she and her sister have to apologize to one another; she is tickled to pieces to give/get sorry hugs and kisses.  It may not last long, but there are times I can take something away from her and she doesn't even put up a fuss.  She seems to just trust that she's not supposed to have it, and moves on.

In observing her sweetness, the Lord has humbled me greatly in regards to my relationship with him.  I find I need to trust him even when I don't get what I want or how I want it.  I need to learn to go with the flow, without worries, complaints or fits of anger.  I also need to learn to enjoy apologies (ouch)--just like our precious Bee.


Wednesday Words

Donne, John, and Joseph "Skip" Ryan. "Tabernacled Among Us." Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.
Comp. Nancy Guthrie. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 20. Print.


Wednesday Words

Whitefield, George. "Contemplating Christmas." Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus. By Nancy Guthrie. Wheaton: Crossway, 2008. 11. Print.


Utmost Thankfulness

I’ve never known real physical poverty, like so many humans have experienced and are experiencing in all parts of the world.  Sometimes my gratitude seems so meager in light of that.  Even though I’ve never been wealthy either, I’ve always had plenty.  Especially plenty enough to look forward to Thanksgiving with presumption that there will be turkey, dressing, trimmings and pumpkin pie on our family’s table.

When I think about the stories on which we pin our Thanksgiving origins—the pilgrims and natives who gathered for a meal—it humbles me in my meager gratitude.  These weary people weren’t instituting a national holiday.  After a difficult year and a bitter winter, the beauty of their thankfulness was their giving it in the land of their poverty.

This made me think of a story that Jesus told in the house of Simon the Pharisee, when a disgraceful woman entered and began lavishing Jesus in humble and sincere worship:

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”

And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:41-50

The beauty in her worship was her knowing her utmost destitution being covered in Jesus’ utmost mercy.  Oh, how I want her immense gratitude.  I want the gratitude of pilgrims and natives who celebrate provision in light of their suffering and loss.
I may have never tasted worldly poverty, but I have, most importantly, known spiritual poverty.  I have been a slave, and accursed.  But God took on the form of my slavery and became my provision—my Lamb—and saved me.  Remembering my complete destitution (as near as the sins committed just this week), and Jesus' complete reconciliation, makes me completely and utterly thankful.


Wednesday Words

Genesis. Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. Print.


Happy Birthday, Bear!

These days, you will our Bear singing any one of the bazillions dozens of songs that she loves.  The theme from Disney-Pixar's Cars, Jesus Loves me and numerous Donut Man tunes are among her favorites.  Her current movie fetish is (surprise) Cars, and she's fascinated by all kinds of vehicles.  She is wondrously captured by airplanes, and her amazement in seeing/hearing them is so precious.  We are excited to introduce Disney-Pixar's Planes to her soon.
I'm so thankful that she still loves to read books.  Her all-time favorite is Go, Dog, Go!. So that was her birthday party theme.  We decorated in primary colors, ate hotdogs and everyone wore paper hats (like the dog party at the end of the book!).
If I would let her, she would eat pizza, mac n cheese, sweet peas, bananas, yogurt, cupcakes, ice cream, grapes, and PB&J all day every day.  She's learning how to take tea with us in a big girl teacup, and loves it!

She carries around a little Lightning McQueen, exclaiming "Ka-chow!" and "Brrmmm, brrmm!"  Or you will find her with her Calico Critters family, trying to shove their furniture through the doll house windows.  With obsessive delight, Bear loves coloring and writing.  We enjoy cuddling with a notebook, while I draw basic shapes, letters and numbers for her to identify.
Bear loves her Sissy-Bee, too.  Much to Sissy's disgruntlement, Bear likes playing the Woller-all-over-Bee game.  She snuggles her, squeezes her, swoons on her, and its all fun and girly giggles until Sissy gets bonked or near smothered in love.
Ever since the labor pains that October week night, we knew our Bear was not textbook.  At two years old, she still doesn't come with an instruction manual for everything she is.  Even though the second year has been the cliché year of predicted terrors, I love being her Mommy.  Her strong-willedness is still smothered in a sweetness and an eagerness to please that melts me.  I've resolved that the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit are the only successful roadmaps of parenting...I haven't found any other manuals or formulas that work on my toddler (and on ME at the same time!).
Through shepherding her little heart, the Almighty has shown me so much about the Gospel, my own selfishness, anger-issues, lack of patience and desperate need of him in every moment.  Praise God, despite my very feeble efforts to rely on him on the bad days of parenting, he has been gracious, and Bear is blossoming so beautifully.  There's a light at the end of the terrible-two tunnel!


Jen Recommends: Music

I so love music.  I grew up in a musical family; we love music, sing music, play music, write music and, to borrow from Lizzie Bennet, play instruments very ill. 
Good songs affect me a lot like good books do.  Songs can become beloved friends, mile-markers for our adventures and always say what our hearts are trying to say!  Some songs bring back memories, motivate us to deep clean that closet and reveal something about the Word of God that we hadn't seen before.  I can hear a song or an artist, and remember a whole season of life!  The old CCM group 4Him brings back vivid smells of stables and training ponies.  Jeremy Camp makes me recall the deep emotions of a long season of heartbrokenness.  Andrew Peterson reminds me of being courted by my husband, and clinging to resurrection hope in the grieving of my Mom.
I couldn't help but share some songs and albums that I have worn out lately, and I think are going to be added to the list of beloved friends for this particular time in my life.  The Solitude and Quiet stuff is lovely for the recharging of the bogged-down college student, frazzled mom of toddlers or the generally overwhelmed.  And the restaurant music?  That will magically turn your grilled-cheese-in-a-camper to mozzarella-bruschetta-on-a-Tuscan-balcony.
Okay no.
But it definitely makes cooking and eating a whole bunch more fun.  You should try it. 
All are available on Spotify, and here I list them by category and what I have loved using them for:

Solitude and Quiet
Fortunate Fall (album) by Audrey Assad*
Love Came Down by Brian Johnson
How I Love You by Christy Nockels

Writing Music
Nemo’s Egg from Finding Nemo Soundtrack
May Be by Yiruma

Cooking Music
You’ve Got Mail Soundtrack
Italian Restaurant Music of Italy (album)

Cleaning and Organizing Music
Resurrection Letters II (album) by Andrew Peterson
Christmas Classics (album) by Bing Crosby (yes, I'm THAT person)

Do you have any songs attached to memories and seasons?
What music are you loving lately?
What songs do you love using for cleaning, quiet, eating, running and all around circus managing?
*all songs, except Good to Me (highly recommended!), are not available on Spotify.


Wednesday Words

"But, dear reader, there is no comfort in the word 'farewell', even if you say it in French.  'Farewell' is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow.  It is a word that promises absolutely nothing."
The Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo 


Simple Joys

This week, I'm linking up with my adorable friend at Melinda Blogs {sometimes} and sharing my Simple Joys; little things that have made the day brighter in their simplicity!

{God's love for me}
Not really a simple joy, but a simple message that I have been guilty of overcomplicating.  My Father is faithful to me, in spite of me, and He's daily revealing to me how intense are his affections for me.  I wrote about this in a guest post for Lovely Thoughts, featuring today on the lovely blog of my sweet friend, Yelena.  She is an ambitious law student, desiring to bring a worldview of Christ and his love to her field.  I've been blessed to blog-fellowship with her for over two years!

{scattered peas}
Bear and Bee love sweet peas.  They aren't the most convenient of vegetables, since they scatter everywhere and fall into every crevice.  But as long as the girls will eat their fill of something green, I will serve them.  This week, whilst cleaning up yet another scattered mess of peas, I realized that I will blink and those peas will be the bobbi pins of teenage daughters.  Ultimately, there will be no traces of my wee ones in my empty nest.  Then and there, I gave thanks for scattered peas.

{a red kettle}
Since it came to us as a wedding gift, this has journeyed with us since the very beginning of our adventure.  It has definitely earned it's place on the stovetop, where it never leaves it's post.  It has served us countless cups of tea, thawed breast milk, made baby bottles, blanched it's weight in sweet peas and warmed bath water when the propane tanks were empty.  I think of it very affectionately as my sidekick; my cherry red squire, in it for the long haul on the battleground of making home.

Even when I was young and my siblings were growing too old for pacifiers, I would rebel against weaning them even more than the toddler did.  I so love binky-faces.  Bear is now reaching that long-dreaded season of binky-weaning.  She still wants it at nap and bedtime, and it kind of makes me sad.  Maybe it's not saying good bye to the binky that is sad, but saying good bye to the babyhood that it seems to take with it.

Oh, tea.  After two pregnancies, I haven't been able to touch my once beloved coffee.  But tea and I have rekindled our romance.  My staples are Red Raspberry Leaf, African Rooibos and my favorite, Kurdish Mountain Chai.  This simple, yet lovely blend of chai is made by some dear friends of ours who have a special place in their heart for missions to Iraq.  Their chai blend not only makes an excellent latte, but every purchase helps fund heart surgeries for children in Iraq.  You should get some from their Etsy shop and see what you're missing!

Or bangs, if you prefer.  I've had them for a couple weeks and I loooove them.  I may never go back.

What simple things have brought you joy, friend?
This is an excellent way to stop and "smell the roses" of our day-to-day and give thanks.  You should link up with Melinda and try it.  It's as good for the soul as Kurdish chai. :)


Early Advent

In my corner of the world, most of the golden crops around us have been harvested, leaving behind such barrenness that you scarcely remember the life that was there all year.  The leaves are only just beginning to turn, as if Bob Ross is going along and frosting the edges of our happy little trees with reds and yellows.  The pumpkin stands have been in business for weeks, the mum's blooms are almost gone and the nights are holding their breath for the first frost to herald the heart of autumn, beloved autumn.

Now that we have entered the loveliest of seasons--of warm beverages, cozy clothes, bonfires and giving thanks--my mind's eyes can't help but skip ahead to it's successor season, winter Christmastime.  This year is the one year anniversary of my saddest Christmas, and I confess, the beginning of my truest hope of resurrection. And this year, my heart has begun Advent early.

The changing landscape colors and the harvested crops have been constantly reminding me that we are in the fore-season of a coming King.  With Christmas on it's way, I'm reminded that while we celebrate his birth, we are living the reality of his Second Coming.  The news stories of persecution, corrupt governments, war and rumors of war, and the ever growing war in our culture against the followers of Jesus...all have me inclined to have the lamps of my mind and heart full of oil, making ready.

During this season, when everything dies and lays waiting, hoping for the life of resurrection spring, I remember that our whole life is a season of waiting.  If we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the promised King, then Advent is more than four weeks of pre-Christmas festivities. 
Advent is our whole, earthly life.

When you see golden leaves, remember Israel's wait for relief from captivity and exile, while bound by the curse of the law.  When you see the death of crops and foliage, remember mankind's wait for relief from our sin wages and the enemy, death.  Let the first frost cause us to remember that we are also sojourners and aliens, without our true home.  May the gathered harvests make us rejoice that Christ has turned the waiting of enslaved outcasts to the waiting of freed, redeemed sons of a heavenly home.

In the slow, beautiful death of Creation around us, call to mind that...
Our King was born
Our King was buried.
Our King is alive, &
our King is coming for us.


Wednesday Words

Margaret Hale, to her father about her opinion of the proud, Mr. Thornton:

"He is the first specimen of a manufacturer--of a person engaged in trade--that I have had the opportunity of studying, papa.  He is my first olive; let me make a face while I swallow it."

North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell


Stuffed Peppers (Yub Nub Style)

Everyone knows that whatever you do not have leftovers of is a keeper-recipe.  This was true for my whack at stuffed peppers, inspired by Italian taste and whatever I had on hand at the time.  Since we loved it so much, I had to share it...

Italian Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients (some approximate):
1 lbs. of ground beef
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
Garlic powder, to taste
6-8 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/2 cup of Velveeta
4 large green bell peppers (or probably 6 small peppers)
3/4 - 1 cup of Colby jack cheese, grated

Brown the ground beef and drain.  Add chopped bell pepper and onion, sauté until soft and translucent.  Add olives, mushrooms and canned tomatoes.  Add garlic powder and basil and stir.  Remove from heat and stir in Velveeta until melted.  Cut around the top of your bell peppers and discard the "lid". Cut out the spines and rinse out the seeds.  Generously stuff your peppers with meat mixture, and top with Colby jack cheese, stuffing it in a little to create a cheesy, gooey trap.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until stuffing is bubbly and cheese is melted and browned.
Makes 4 large, generously stuffed peppers (with some leftover stuffing).

  • These were Italian-inspired and I wanted to make a red sauce from the diced tomatoes, but added them straight from the can since our blender was out of commission.
  • We don't like to remove the fresh basil from any of our dishes, but if you find that icky, chopping it fine or using dried basil would be good, too.
  • Velveeta and Colby jack cheeses were all I had on hand, but a more Italian-ish stuffed pepper would have mozzarella or provolone.
  • I would have loved to have had carrots or spinach on hand--grating the carrots fine and sprinkling in some spinach would have been a stealthy dare to healthy fare!
Yumminess and that last brilliant cheesy line brought to you by, Jen.  You're welcome.


Wednesday Words

"We talk as those who believe God is omnipotent and omnipresent, but we often act as if He can only work through one person, one method, or one kind of ministry at a time.  If we don't refuse ourselves the indulgence, we can lapse into the mentality of a spoiled child who thinks that if God shows you favor, He must hate me...
"One the other hand, we can do our level best not to compare ourselves with those of similar gifting or calling...others will leap forward to do it for us.  Stand back and watch how many observers will try to nudge you into a competition with someone who fills a similar slot.  The idea that anything comparable is automatically competitive."
~Beth Moore, Mercy Triumphs


When Your Husband Doesn't Fit

His strong hand holding mine, our fingers entwined and palms perfectly aligned.
I walk in synchronized strides beside him, as if our steps were professionally choreographed.
My body’s design is well-suited under his arm as if he were sculpted to fit me there,
and I was sculpted to fit there.
My head lays comfortably on his chest, as if it were made to forever nestle there.

These were the whirling daydreams of my single days, when I subconsciously thought that the above would magically manifest when I met the mate God had designed for me.  Before Mr. O came on the scene, I experienced two failed relationships; both which were sprinkled with hands that fit, strides that met and chemistry to prove this was it!  But they definitely were not it.  While the stomach butterflies testified that I had found my match, I couldn't ignore the red flags slapping me in the face and screaming for me to run far, far away.

Then I met Mr. O.
A handsome guy who loved Jesus, dressed like an old man, and treated me like he just robbed Mr. Darcy of all his class.  He held my heart hostage from the moment I saw him in his tucked in, tailored button up and his Reformation Study Bible in tow.  After one week of courting, I knew I wanted him to marry me.  After four months of engagement, that’s exactly what he did.
But in early engagement and marriage days, I was surprised to realize something.  This man that I knew God had designed for me, didn’t fit me.  Our hands were so different, that I had to twist my wrist in such a way that only the top third of my fingers fit between his, causing our palms to be hardly aligned!  My body design was odd next to his, and though he is taller than me, I had to duck over a little to fit under his arm.  This made for neck-painful snuggle walking*.  Mr. O had open heart surgery when he was five years old, but by that time his chest bone had grown around his enlarged heart, making it difficult to lay comfortable on his chest.  We were a mess!  I promise we aren’t as deformed as we sound, but we’re definitely not going to be the snuggling couple on the cover of the next Valentine's  Day Hallmark card.
I loved this guy so much and he infested my stomach with butterflies, but I had moments of childish disappointment when we would go for walks or snuggle to read together.  It was so much work feeling like I had to contort my body uncomfortably to be close to him.  I don’t even know that Mr. O noticed, and he will probably be horrifyingly surprised to read this post.  But I had resolved that I would have to change my strides, twist my wrists, and deform my head on his chest for the rest of my married life.
Not long after that resolution, the Lord began to show me all the ways He designed us to fit that were made of much more substance than hand-holding and snuggle walking…
How his teary eyes met my teary eyes when we heard Andrew Peterson sing High Noon and The Reckoning live, because we both love the gospel-resurrection story.  Or when we heard of the violent attacks against our brothers and sisters in Pakistan and Kenya, and stopped our day to weep and pray for them.  Or how we both love the taste of authentic Taqueria tacos, complete with a real-cane-sugar Coca, because it transports us back to Iguala, Guererro, Mexico and the people we love there.  Or how a source of strong comfort in 40+ hours of labor was Mr. O's voice reading the book of Hebrews aloud to me.
We went on a date about a month ago, and since we didn’t have a stroller to push, we snuggle walked and held hands.  To my surprise, our strides were the same.  My neck didn’t hurt.  Our hands, while still a little twisted, fit so much better than when we first met.  I transported myself through the last three years of marriage, wondering when something had changed.  Which of us had changed our stride?  Which of our body structures had morphed?  How did our hands fit now, when my knobby knuckles were still there?  When did my head start nestling into his chest? 
It made me wonder, if only three years of marriage would sync us together like that, what will 50 years of walking together look like?  How much more will I get his humor?  Will we still cry at the same songs, be impassioned by the same Scripture?

God doesn’t sculpt our perfect spouse from day one, not physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally.  Marriage is about becoming one, together.  Day to day, fight to fight, romance to romance, tragedy to tragedy, the Almighty God is sculpting a place under Mr. O’s arm just for me.
*yes that’s a thing.  That I just made up.


Wednesday Words

"True hope changes sorrow, but does not obliterate it.  Death is not to be taken as a 'normal, beautiful release' but as an enemy which separates body from spirit and human beings from each other.  It spoils the beautiful creation of God.  It is so basically an enemy that God says that He will pay a great price, a ransom, to deliver us from death's power..."

~Edith Schaeffer, Affliction


Tour de Wheelburrow (& a giveaway!)

Welcome to The Wheelburrow; Wheel, as a tribute to its mobility and Burrow for it's rabbit-hole style coziness.  I know, a fancy name doesn’t magically make it not a camper, but humor my romanticism!

This has been our little home for the past year;
all ye gather ‘round for I shall tell you the tale as to why…

Last summer (2012), we were saving our pennies to put a house on my parents’ 20 acres in the country.  In perfect timing, just before our two-bedroom apartment lease was up, my aunt asked if we were interested in buying her 50ft. camper for a very gracious price.  She and my Mom schemed that, with the camper, we could move onto the family property sooner and start developing the land for the house.  We weren’t sure how we felt about moving next door yet, since we would be in the driveway until we could put the camper on our piece of land.  But after praying it through, we just had a feeling it was the right decision to buy it.
Our kitchen, and the dining-room-turned-nursery beyond.
Little did we know that, despite having financial remorse and difficulties living next door to my crazy family, we did make the right choice.  At Christmastime, just five months after we bought The Wheelburrow, my sweet Mom passed away very suddenly (one day, I will share more on this story and how God has been gracious and faithful in our grief).  This made my Dad a widower who works full-time, with four children under 15 years old at home.

It is evident of God's providence in putting us here.  Ministering to Dad and the kids, and helping them in this new season, would be so much harder if we weren't in the driveway.  They have also ministered to us in ways that cannot be repaid, so we are also thankful for this little piece of community we have for this time of life.
View of our living room from the kitchen.
Up the step is the bathroom and master bedroom.
Here we are, in our cozy little space.  We are very happy here for now, and praying that God show us when it's time for us to move on to more wide open spaces!  There are days that the burrow walls are closing in around us and we'll never get out. But then there are days that I could live in a big camper forever.  It definitely has it's perks:
  • The smaller space is easier to manage and clean!  That is, as long as it doesn't get out of hand, which can happen faster in smaller spaces with tornado toddlers on the loose.
  • The size demands that we live simply, keeping from having too much stuff.  Sometimes this means I'm not able to store things that would be helpful down the road, but it definitely keeps me from collecting anything unnecessary!
  • We have to stifle the desire to buy things we don't need, so we end up saving money!  We also have to quiet discontentment on a daily basis.  I pray this makes us a happier-with-little family even when we have space for more one day.
I'm fashionably late, but I'm going to be spring cleaning this week, hoping to comb through even more of our junk to see if we can possibly minimize anything else.  Which brings me to a plug!  Kindred Grace is hosting a giveaway for Lorilee Lippencott's book Simple Living.  You can read Chantel's excellent review of it on the giveaway post!  Lorilee is a minimalist, which I could never aspire to be, but the practical advice and disciplines sound wonderfully helpful if you're wanting to simplify your life, finances, possessions, schedule, etcetera.  Kindred Grace is giving away 3 copies, but even if you don't win the giveaway, or live in a camper, it sounds Amazon-wishlist-worthy!
Kindred Grace: conversations between sisters in Christ


Romance & Quiet

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Matthew 5:6
I read this beloved verse tonight, and it transported me back to when I had read it for the first time.  I was a young lady in my early teens, lost in finding myself and lost in this burning ache to know God.  The One who forged the greatness of the heavens and the miraculous cities of my microscopic cells.  Those were the romantic days of my life in Christ; when he first called my name and my heart longed to hear more.  I couldn’t keep my nose out of his Word, and like a sponge, I absorbed everything I read.  How lovely are the romantic days of our faith, when we are full of angst for our Creator and He satisfies our spiritual taste buds with the wonder of him!
I often reminisce through those days in unhealthy ways, wishing that those days were now.  I long for those better ones again, instead of rejoicing in these days, too.  These days that are full of spiritual familiarity and monotony.
“Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’
For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
Ecclesiastes 7:10
Until tonight, my spiritual life had felt like the middle-child years of marriage.  At least, from what I hear and witness of those middle years!  The season after you have grown past the sweet, romantic days but an eternity away from the seasoned and weathered days of 50 years.  My heart and spiritual life felt terribly quiet, familiar, monotonous, and sometimes out of place.  I even admit to this middle season being fallow ground to complacency and idleness.  During this time, the Lord Jesus had grown somewhat abstract to me.  He’s the perfect Prince in the sky, the sinless, sacrificed Lamb who conquered the enemy, death.  The universe is in his hands and everything in existence exists by him and for him!  He loves me with an unfailing love and has the power to sanctify me into his image.  I know this and believe it, so fiercely.  But sometimes it’s a knowing like the wonder-filled pages of a treasured storybook.
I have wrestled with applying that wonder with the God who is with me in everyday life.  This Savior that once captured all of my heart—who let me taste and see his goodness—has felt terribly quiet.  Not necessarily distant, since I can testify to knowing he is with me.  Just not near, and very quiet.  However, I have not been the pursuer nor the one pursued, that I once was either.  It’s like he became two Gods—the lovely, near One who romanced me once.  And this One, the quiet, aloof, familiar one.  The one who has journeyed a long journey with me, and is just quietly here.
Until tonight.
Tonight, when I read Matthew’s account of Jesus teaching on a mountainside, I was reminded in the depth of my soul that both those Gods were the same one.  I read these words spoken by the one who is Faithful (promise-keeping) and True (never lying), saying that he promises to fill me with himself if I am hungry for that.  And like a husband lovingly romancing his beloved after 25 quiet, complacent years of marriage, I was reminded that the same Christ that I only dream about is the Christ that I know now.  The One who is here and has kept his promise to be with me is the one who was with me from the beginning.  He is the same.  The same glorified and victorious Son, who will make all things new, is with me now.  Not abstract, but very alive and with me.
Tears came as I remembered this, and received it for the first time again.


Tour de My Crazy Days These Days

I'm really enjoying my days lately.  After nearly 3 years of marriage, 2 babies and all the mountainous slopes thereof and therein, I actually feel like my house gets clean sometimes.  It's a grand accomplishment, indeed, for one to feel that their job is partially completed decently part of the time.

Our normal very-flexible-hardly-go-as-planned weekdays look like this...

Mr.O awakes and readies himself for a day of Jesus-trinket peddling (haha I kid).  I make his lunch for the day and his coffee to-go, then kiss him goodbye!  Little Bee is usually awake and ready for her morning bottle and cuddles.

The Bear is awake.  We girls start our Spotify playlist of morning music then sing and dance into breakfast time!  Bear loves scrambled eggs and fruit, so that is our usual morning menu unless I decide to shake things up a little around here.

This is prime time for Mom-chores.  The girls are freshly rested, changed and fed--so they are super independent and like to entertain themselves for about an hour or two.  This is when I do the previous day's damage control, a.k.a. dishes, a bit of laundry and general through-clutter-pathmaking!

Bee is down for her morning nap, so I try to devote this time to Bear.  We have one hour to ourselves to color, play with toys and read books, etc.  Her all-time favorite is P.D. Eastman's book Go, Dog, Go.  She quotes it all the time, asking us, "Doyouwikemyhat?"  Or if we ask her if she likes our hat, she answers, "I do!"  I really want to theme her upcoming birthday party after the dog-party at the end.

Bee is awake from nap.  This is a miscellaneous time--for more cleaning, playing, dancing, and sometimes Veggietales or Bubble Guppies.

What time is it?!  It's time for lunch!  (See everysingleepisodeof Bubble Guppies)
We heat up leftovers or have sandwiches, yogurt and veggies.

The girls both go down for their glorious, togetherness nap.  Bear will sleep for up to three hours, but Bee only sleeps one right now.  I get one lovely hour to myself, and maybe one day I will tell you of all the horrible, treacherous, widely concealed, mustache-twirling, muahahahaha adventures I embark upon whilst they slumber.
And yes.  I'm part-Native American, so I DO have a mustache.  Be jealous.

Bee is awake and Bear has up to two more hours of nap left, so this is me and Bee time.  We also read books and play with toys.  I've been teaching her the parts of our face, but even though she knows where noses and eyes are, she gets all coy and isn't brave enough to show the world how brilliant she is yet.

I put on supper, unless it's for the crockpot when I would have put it on at lunchtime.  Then, if it's cool enough, we go outside to play until suppertime.  Bear is a very stereotypical toddler and loves to be outside!  She enjoys my Dad's apple tree (we live in my parent's driveway....stay tuned for Tour de Wheelburrow [yes that is the correct spelling of the name of my house] and a long-story-short), and this poor kitten that she carries around wherever she goes!  I don't say poor, because he follows her around and purrs even when she picks him up by his neck or tail.

To the girls' giggly excitement, Daddy is home!  I finish up supper while they reunite from a day of labor.  Then we pray and eat together.

7pm:  Bathtime.
8pm:  Winding-down time with storybooks or a movie.
8:30-9pm:  The tiny monsters are in their caves for the night.

The End.


About Yub Nub

Hello friend.
Welcome to the Yub Nub Café.  You probably haven't a clue (unless you're a complete and total nerd, too) what a *yub nub is, and know for a fact that this is not a literal café.  Maybe one day when I can virtually serve coffee, tea and dainty pastries, it will be.  But for now, it's simply a cozy corner of the internet that I call home for journaling, discussions, seriousness and unseriousness of all varieties.  Most of all, I want to pen about life here, and all that true life (and living it) entails for me. :)

Who's me?
My name is Jen.  I'm an almost-30-twenty-something, who loves Jesus Christ.  I was born an outcast, but I have been adopted as a daughter of the Most High God, all because of what Christ has done.  Because I have true life in Him, I can't pen about life without Him.  It would be meaningless.  If you ever want to ask what He has done for me, or why I love Him, please feel free.

I'm a homeschooled graduate with a little college and my CNA.  I've worked at a stables, restaurant, photography studio and a nutritional company.
I am married to Mr. O, an introverted hipster-theologian-old man-artist-professor wannabe, who is my bestie and the funniest guy I know.  We have been adventuring through the beautiful, treacherous, sanctifying waters of marriage for only 3 years.  I say "only" because, while we feel that we have learned SO much, we still have 47+ more years of learning to do.

Our lives have been graced with a Bear (2 years) and a Bee (1 year)...two darling little girls who bring much joy, humility and magic into our days.  They are constant reminders of God's grace--how much we need it to be able to bestow it.
I am head mistress of The Wheelburrow, our 40ft camper house in my parent's driveway.  It's name is derived from both it's cozy, rabbit-burrowness and a tribue to it's mobility.

I have such a widespread variety of interests, that it would confuse you to list them all (or reveal just how weird I am, and we don't want that).  A condensed list includes:
  • a love for all forms of writing.
  • books. literature. biographies. poetry. theology. fiction.
  • amateur photography.
  • nursing.
  • proper care of the elderly.
  • cooking & healthy/whole eating.
  • quiet, and learning quiet.
  • music.
  • fellowship.
  • missions. domestic and foreign.
  • house churching, or any churching and learning to be part of the church.
  • movie nerdature.
Although I love to blog, and the community that comes with it, I've had a hard time in the last several years doing it steadily.  Life sometimes gets too demanding, or changes suddenly, and my priorities take a major shift.  Sometimes blogging is a season for me.  Sometimes you see me, sometimes you don't.  But I love to keep in touch via email, so drop me a line if you want to know if I'm still alive. :)

*yub nub
a.  a word in Ewok language from Star Wars: Episode VI.  Yes.  I'm a nerd.
b.  the aforementioned Ewok word that we have made a household term for endearment, frustration or randomness.  The nerdier Mr.O started it.