April 11, 2014

lessons from the fig tree, even today

Somehow I've managed to avoid figs for 31 years. I've had the "newton" version, but I can't recall ever seeing or eating a fig from a tree until last night.

We found these dried figs at Costco last weekend, and we pulled them out of the fridge for dinner last night:

One of the children nearly refused to eat them, and I joked that Jesus liked figs, so they must be good, which led us to read more about Jesus cursing the fig tree that didn't bear fruit.

It's such an interesting part of Scripture in Matthew 21:

18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.

I remembered this part very well, but I'd forgotten the lesson behind it until last night:

20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21And Jesus answered them,“Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” {Matthew 21}

When we read that last night I was struck by verse 22 so much. I ask, and often I don't know that I truly believe God will do it. I want to think I always do, but I know I waver in my faith, mostly because I'm afraid of being disappointed. I won't commit enough to believe He will do something like throwing a mountain into the sea. My "common sense" {i.e. lack of faith} tells me He likely won't.

I like to think I have faith- and I do know without a doubt that God will do His own will and that His purposes will stand, but asking Him for something specifically and believing He will do it? Do I ever do that? Honestly, I'm kind of scared of that.

I know that we are to ask in the name of Jesus- which means that we are not to be seeking our own will but His to be done {1 John 5:14: And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.}. And harboring sinful desires and asking God to fulfill my lusts or selfish motivation- that's not in the name of Jesus or the will of the Father, that's seeking after the good of my own name.

But if my heart is right with God, and I'm seeking after Him with my whole heart, and wanting to give Him my all... I believe God will give us the desires of our hearts {Psalm 37:4}. Not necessarily the fulfillment of our fleshly, discontent-driven desires {and we should pray He doesn't give us those!! Quail in the wilderness, anyone?}, but that He changes our fleshly desires into His perfect desires in our heart. No longer do we long for sinful things- we long to please Him, and that in itself is a testimony to the work that God has done in our lives. There is no good reason outside of the Holy Spirit that I should want to obey God, you know? It's crazy.

But in an effort to avoid a prosperity/self-seeking kind of theology, I wonder if I swing too far in the other direction to lacking in faith by not asking for His help specifically. He already knows what I need, and I can trust Him with my whole heart to provide it. He will provide a Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf! He gave me His Spirit to dwell within me! He will lead me in the way I should go. He will guide my heart and my desires. I can always trust Him with everything.

Will He give me a serpent if I ask for fish? He promises to give me Himself- His Holy Spirit when I seek Him! He provided my sinful self with the Holy Spirit- why do I not trust Him fully?

Luke 11:
9And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11What father among you, if his son asks ford a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So many times I don't have faith because I am not trusting in His goodness. Why? Why am I afraid God doesn't love me that much that He will provide for what I need? He will give me the desires of my heart through the Holy Spirit. When I'm not trusting Him I'm not relying on the power of God- I'm relying on my own understanding.

I can only guess I hold back part of my heart because I don't have the faith I need to trust He is who He says He is, and He is good. He is always good, and I need to have faith in Him and His good work in every part of my life.

Oh, you guys.

He still speaks through the fig tree today.

Last night I laid Zane in his bed in his room {for the second time ever} at 9 and he woke up at 12 restless, despite my feeding him and trying to calm him down over and over.

As I leaned over his crib, I imagined facing yet another night with a sleepless baby, and I started praying- and as I was praying I remembered the fig tree from dinner. My weak {wimpy} prayer went something like this:

Lord, if you can curse a fig tree and make it wither like that, surely making a baby sleep through the night is not too hard of a thing for you? You made this baby, and you know how to make him sleep- I believe in you- help me believe that you will do it- help me to have faith that you will answer.

I had no doubt He could do it, but as I prayed I felt He would do it because I believed in Him, and He knew what I needed. Not to my own credit, by any means, because I could tell my mind was tempted to go back to doubting that He would. I am really good at wavering when left to myself.

So Rob scooted me out of the room and took over, and I went to bed and thought something like watch God go and make him sleep through the night.

What do you think happened?

You already know, don't you? :)

At 8:30, I had to wake the baby up so Rob could get ready for work. My child has never slept more than a few hours in his whole life. And he slept 8.5 hours straight.

Who is our God? 

Does He not delight in giving His children good gifts?? 

He certainly must!! I was amazed to see this on the clock this morning as I grabbed my coffee with the baby still in his bed:

Our Father provided abundant sleep for his daughter in the most miraculous way last night. And He provided both the faith and the blessing. I'm in awe of Him. It makes me cry like a baby to think of how faithless I am and how faithful He is still.

The Word of God is living and active, and our God still displays His glory and power in miraculous ways, today.

I never really understood why Jesus cursed an out of season fig tree. But the whole thing wasn't about a tree or its lack of fruit necessarily- according to Jesus, it was a lesson about the disciples' faith, and even my faith, 2000 years later.

Sleeping through the night was my mountain to be thrown into the sea. It seemed impossible just yesterday. 

Yet, with the tiniest, weakest bit of faith He did something huge in my life. I don't deserve that good gift, and yet He provided abundantly for me. His love for me is incredible, and the power of His Word is never lacking, and it reaches so much further than I can even comprehend. 

His Word is alive and powerful today. Not just then. 


Even thousands of years later-- our God is still working miracles through fig trees. 

p.s......thank you for praying.  :)

April 9, 2014

it's getting crazy in here + goals for this week

It's getting crazy around here...

Spring destruction  decluttering has commenced. I'm not sure if we'll make it out alive. ;)

Here's the bookshelf mid-way:

And after....phew:

In between was this:

And a little cooking:

Zane and I eat this steamed from Costco. So easy!
Kale chips for a refueling snack:

And I'm making a new to-do list for the next few days in here:

Here are my goals for the next 5 days:

  • finish house decluttering before garage sale this weekend: attic items, linen + laundry cabinet, kitchen drawer, and craft supplies
  • reorganize closet
  • price garage sale items
  • list sale online
  • sell clothing armoire {?}
  • wash throw blankets
  • reorganize kid rooms
  • my Bible daily {anything else is extra this week, LOL}
  • 1 Corinthians 15:56-58: 
    The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
  • steadfast- especially in being joyful. I need His Spirit- His victory through our Lord Jesus. I want to do His work- being faithful in love even when things are hard. I'm still the mama, there's still cooking and cleaning and work to do even when I don't feel like it. ;) I want to choose joy by setting my hope on Jesus, not on how much sleep I'm getting.

meal plans:

beans + rice 
potatoes + salad, 
salmon + kale + rice
oatmeal, turkey bacon, + fruit
sandwiches and multigrain chips
semi-homemade pizza
whatever else we can find in the pantry from our big shopping trip!

Anything simple like last night's super quick meal {potatoes and salmon} works for me. :)

Are you decluttering/simplifying now too? :)

Any garage sale tips for me? :) It's been a while since we've had one!!

April 7, 2014

costco winners + baby transitioning questions

Monday? How are you here again already? 

I think the weekends go by 3x as fast as Monday and Tuesday do. I'm super happy when Monday and Tuesday finally pass by each week. :)

Weekends are my favorite for sure. :) On Friday night, we hit up our new friend Costco again. It had only been a month, but it felt like forever since I visited this amazing place...

It's a long trip for us, but it's more of an adventure than anything. You know you're a family who loves food when everyone gets excited about a trip to a new warehouse store. ;)

We wore little Zaner out shopping up and down the aisles:

I loved seeing everything they had. They have so many healthy options. :D You have to give them props for their gorgeous salads:

Man, I love that store. :) And I really love that our whole family can eat dinner there for $14, and I get a big salad in their cafe! {!!!!}

I pulled this new dressing out of our cart for instead of opening up the caesar. I am happy to report yet another Costco winner:

Zane was as happy about his Costco banana as I was about my salad: ;)

We ended up with quite a few items we wouldn't normally buy at Sam's- the apple chips are my absolute favorite new snack, and the ancient grains are good too {though I have to avoid the almonds for Zane}. And I love that they have large avocados for the same price as Sam's small ones:

Even though we spent hours browsing Costco, we still had an hour left before HomeGoods closed. heheh. ;) I roped the family into shopping with me here too:

And this sofa??? Oh my goodness. So cute. It looks small here, but it was a full-sized one for $800. Too bad we didn't have room in the Tahoe. ;)

The kids {usually} entertain themselves when we go shopping at places like this. They all talk to each other about everything while they follow me around, but trips with Daddy are way more fun because he asks them lots of questions about everything. :) 

Zane even found ways to keep busy while I walked around:

I wonder what he will be like when he's older. It seems like he'll be a funny guy like his brother Noah and his Uncle Josh.

The rest of the weekend was full of adventure, house remodeling, and a three hour nap {!} after a playdate with a sweet friend. It was raining outside yesterday but Rob and I still managed to drive around and go out on a little date after church. :)

This week Project ReOrganize is ON. My goal is to have a garage sale this weekend, and I'm in clean out mode again. I'm trying to simplify as much as possible so that there's less housework to do on a daily basis. Last week I cleaned out the kids drawers and left them with one drawer full of clothing... and it's been amazing already. I only had 2.5 loads of laundry to catch up this weekend!

I'm hoping to also get Zane into his own room this week so we can all get more sleep. I've done it four other times, yet I still don't want to do it. :) I know it will be good for all of us, but one of our main problems this time around is that the main bathroom we use {the only one with a shower and our 2nd toilet} is in his nursery- and the kids all need to use it multiple times at night.

I'm trying to think of other places we could have him where he would be undisturbed by six other people, but it's got me stumped for the moment! He usually sleeps in our room for naps and nighttime, but I can't sleep with him in there these days. He wakes up so many times a night, but I think it's more a habit of comfort rather than need to eat.

I'd love any transitioning tips you have for moving babies to their rooms? 

Any creative ideas on quiet places for babies with lots of siblings? 
At this point I'm almost considering moving him in the office at night. :)

Have you ever tried apple chips? What do you think? Do you love them as much as I do? {and can you make them yourself- or would it even be cheaper?}

April 3, 2014

our 1895 kitchen before and after reveal

I realized this morning that I've never actually done a full kitchen post, so I decided to share it in it's imperfect/dishes on the counter but clean enough for me state. :) When we moved in four years ago to a foreclosed house we had only an idea of how much work was ahead of us, but it's so fun to see it before and after! It makes it all worth it. :) 

Here's the before:

And here are some after shots! :)

We're still finishing it, but it's my favorite before and after of the whole house, and I thought it would be fun to see again. It's one of those things where you don't realize how much has changed until you look back. :)

Other than appliances, we put less than $1000 into this kitchen to paint the cabinets, replace the countertops, sink, and faucet, add beadboard, shelves and a lower cabinet to the kitchen. Rob did all the labor, even ripping out the old paneling to reveal the upper section of plank walls {that all had to be caulked individually, of course}. :) He's a beast. I sure love that man.

I love how it turned out altogether! :) I didn't intend to do gray upper walls or beadboard at all, but half way through we found we had to cover the old walls with something because of old door cutouts in the wood. We had the paint left over from our dining room, and we wanted to use our extra gallon, so we went with what we had- Chelsea Gray {BM}. After we were done, I realized the colors ended up looking kind of like Emily's kitchen, which I have loved for years {and so does Better Homes and Gardens, LOL!}! It was a lovely accident- I'm so glad we went with the beadboard!

We still might stain or paint the shelving and the new table top, but I'm not sure yet. What do you think? Should we paint the shelves white? I'd love your thoughts!!

April 1, 2014

a week away + real life struggles

We had a wonderful little getaway last week to the Beaver's Bend area {in southeastern Oklahoma}. It was so good to leave work behind for a few days. I don't know if it's because I'm getting old or have more kids, but vacations and breaks feel better than they ever have before. :)

I know it's life with a new baby, but I've been so tired lately and it's affected me in every way. I think getting to a quiet place was good for my soul. I needed to recover. :) 

For 2.5 days straight, I did nothing but make {and eat} food and sit around while the kids played outside. :)

We picked a sweet little cabin and even with a special deal, we paid a little more than we normally would for a few special kid features. 

Specifically this treehouse, mountain trails, a horse tire swing, and a hot tub:

And the kitchen was fully stocked with dishes and supplies {though I still brought my Keurig, hahahah!}. We made spaghetti, popcorn chicken, and had lots of fun kid things like Lucky Charms. :)

I spent most of the time in here by the fire listening to worship music and reading. It was perfect. :)

Zane liked it too:

And we ended the week at my mom's house. This was the one time we did anything remotely active {and it was hard!}:

Biking 6 miles of hills surprisingly wasn't the pleasure cruise I thought it would be, but we had fun sweating it out too. The plus side of going up steep hills is that you get to coast downhill really fast!

Zane has been extremely restless at night for the past couple of months, and he was back to his restless ways by the time we went to my mom's house on Thursday, so by the time we were home Sunday I was totally exhausted after not sleeping again. I just felt so discouraged to come back to another week feeling the same way I had when I left.

And then {my hero} Rob came to the rescue, and even though he has to go to work, he has been taking the first shift with the baby so I can sleep for a few hours. On Monday, I woke up after 4 hours of straight sleep for the first time since he was born, and I can't tell you how thrilled I was to sleep that long!! :) Thank you, Lord God, for my sweet husband who was willing to stay up for his exhausted wife. 

I am so thankful for the rest and honestly, even more for the time I got to spend with Jesus this last week. It's back to regular life again, and I'm fighting to make it to summer. I know I have it easy compared to so many people, but it feels like this everyday life stuff is hard right now.

It's kind of at that bootcamp point where you want to quit but you really don't get a choice. You keep going, even when you feel like throwing up and falling on the ground. :) It won't last forever and you know it so you keep moving, doing the next thing. You set your eyes ahead of you and make each foot move one step at a time. :)

This is a season, and my goal is to focus on spending more time praising God even when I am overwhelmed and don't feel like it. I want my eyes to set their focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, you know? He is teaching me, sanctifying me, and convicting me of my sin in these hard things, and it's good.

I'm so thankful for the Word of God, and even more so when things aren't easy. The Psalms are such a comfort to me because they remind me of how God relates to His people in both joy and in trials. I shared this on Facebook the other day, and I need to remind myself of it again today. :)

If you're walking through afflictions or hard things and you are a believer in Christ Jesus, know today that God is there with you! He is faithful!

I believe from Psalm 119 that He gives us afflictions in this life for lots of different reasons- so that we can learn to walk in His way, so that we will trust in His Word, so that we rely on His promises and learn of His love and faithfulness:

Psalm 119:50:
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.

verse 67: Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.

verse 71: It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.

verse 75: I know, O Lord, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.

verse 92: If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.

verses 105-108: 
Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O Lord, according to your word!
Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O Lord,
and teach me your rules.

The Lord is always good- ALWAYS faithful, and He can always be trusted. Even when we're hurting and grieving He is there, and His purposes will prevail. We don't have to understand "why" to trust His Word and offer Him praise in the meantime. If you are afflicted today, study His Word and meditate on His righteous rules and faithfulness and sing His praise with worship, and His Spirit will bring you comfort.

And if you need to confess your sin or lack of trust, do it- don't delay! There is nothing that won't be revealed in the end, sweet friend. Don't let it hinder your heart from knowing and seeking after the Lord. He is worth far more than all else this world offers you. Seek Him with all your heart and He will not turn you aside.

And if you want to know Him but don't know what holds you back, ask Him to reveal your sin to you and when He does, REPENT from your sin. Holding on to our sin keeps us from approaching the throne of grace. It's never worth it, I promise you that. Seek Jesus with all your heart. Love Him with all your soul. Turn from your sin and humble yourself before God, and ask Him to teach you His righteous rules so that you may obey His Word. Because of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, our God will do it in us- He is faithful, and He will give life according to His word!"

I'm so thankful our God gives life to our soul, and even when we are weary and feel like giving up, He will give us the strength to keep going. :) 

It is so very good to know He has a plan for us. Even when life feels like bootcamp, He is there and we can find find hope in His Word at all times. That's what I'm clinging to right now. :)

How was your week? I feel like it's been forever! :)

Are you in a "bootcamp" season right now too? :) What motivates you? 

What's your favorite Psalm?
I love Psalm 34, 119, 27, and 145...okay, okay- all of them, hehehe. :)
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