Gratitude is always in season. #spreadkindness #thankful #agratefulheart #alwaysinseason #stayawaysquirrels
Gratitude is always in season. #spreadkindness #thankful #agratefulheart #alwaysinseason #stayawaysquirrels
Kindness is attractive.
It is contagious.
It is brave.
It is strength.
Yet, kindness is not always seen this way. The misconception is that it is the opposite. That strength develops from others’ weaknesses and that being kind is not having a backbone. That the only way to get ahead in life is to be cruel, stomping on others, making everyone in your way know who is boss.
But true strength has nothing to do with that. It has nothing to do with the hatred that is often so much easier to throw out during the day. It has no comparison to what bringing light to the positive could do instead. For when strength is gained in the midst of kindness, it is beyond empowering to the body and to others. When kindness is used in its true essence, it changes people’s days, it changes lives, it changes the world, it changes you. And while it can be argued that it starts from within, much of it truly begins to surface with our words.
So be kind today. Make a conscious effort to be kind. No matter what the world tries to tell us, Toby Mac has it right with his quote, “Kindness is always in style.”
This morning as my daughter was getting ready for school, we almost forgot that it was Hat Day! Therefore at the last minute, we searched through her closet and found several options to choose from. From a beach hat to a few wool ones to the princess cap that she picked, they were all right there. She did not need to carry a bag full of them to school or pile them all upon her head. Instead, she picked one and went off to school. I could not help but reflect on the simplicity in that and how life these days has become quite the opposite. Our days seem to be full with a large arrange of hats to wear and roles to fill with no choice on the table but to wear them all.
For most of us, 2020 has given us so many more hats to wear. From wife to mother to teacher to therapist to technology support to coach to comedian to detective to motivator to entertainer to EVERYTHING ELSE, this year has given us all so many more roles to play. And that alone is exhausting. I don’t know about you, but I was exhausted before 2020 even hit.
Still, it came and continues to challenge us to the core. 2020 has challenged us out of our comfort zones and into uncomfortable places. And while most of us do not like to be uncomfortable, it is in the discomfort we grow. It is in the discomfort we learn. It is in the discomfort we are challenged. It is in the discomfort we step into more. It is in the discomfort we become everything we were created to become. It is in the discomfort that God is working and right besides us. So, embrace God during this time and even if it all feels so heavy and like nothing makes sense, lean into Him and trust. Make room for Him. Put it all into His hands. Then, use those emptied hands to grab a hold of His word and His promises. Then together with Him, embrace those hats and wear them all proudly and boldly, knowing that there is a whole world out there, out of our comfort zones, waiting for us.
So, while there may be a lot of suffering, pain and discomfort, choose to trust and believe that with every step you take in and through it, God is using it to make you stronger…because YOU were made for more.
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10 NIV
So wear those hats proudly and wave them boldly through the raging storms. Celebrate all that you are growing into…and the strength that is being uncovered within you… because it is something truly amazing! Most importantly, use your gifts and embrace the most important hat we all have access to… being a believer and child of God.
The rays blind my eyes
and still I see your face
trying to slow me down
and restore my pace.
The heat of the days
as the sun reveals each thing
needing to be repaired
in order for love, to truly sing.
And even through the darkness
or the sun of my broken parts
the moon beats the light
into such broken hearts.
So wherever I am
whatever part of day
or even of the night
though I am broken
God wants to fix
He wants to restore
through defensive walls and ways
He wants us not to fight.
He wants us to invest in His word
and also His love
He wants to shine His light.
For what is now broken
can always be
broken into life.
When something in our house like a washer or refrigerator is broken, we look to fix it. And when it is thought to be unfixable or unrepairable, we invest in a new one. The same goes with ideas. Sometimes, our ways become broken because we are broken. We are imperfect people with imperfect ways. But that doesn’t mean, we should allow guilt, shame or fear to keep us there. Instead, God loves us each so dearly and deeply no matter what. He wants to grow and teach us to become more and more like him. He wants to do that through these broken areas and ways. And he makes it all possible through him. Therefore, let us reflect on what is broken today and turn to Him, the only one with all the true answers, to guide us how to fix it. And if he says it is not fixable in this way, just maybe he is calling us to turn to Him to invest in a new way. Not everything that is broken needs to be fixed. Instead, sometimes, it is leading us to invest in new ways, new options, new ideas that help to truly break us free.
Whatever is it God is doing, it often cannot be figured out. We cannot put our God and His plans into a box. It’s too big and beyond our understanding to do that. Instead, we must press in and pray for Him to reveal what in our lives is broken and needs to be invested in.
No money in the world can compare to what happens when we invest in love.
Nothing in the world compare to what beauty is grown and even restored when we invest in love like Jesus.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
– 1 Peter 4:8 NIV
“Instruct and teach the people all that I’ve taught you. And don’t be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith. So until I come, be diligent in devouring the Word of God, be faithful in prayer, and in teaching the believers.”
– 1 Timothy 4:11-13 TPT
“Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
- 1 Timothy 4:11-16 NIV
You do not fit in a box. We cannot put your love or any of your will in a box either. Forgive us when we do that. Help us to see within though. Reveal how we can grow our broken parts to be more like you. And reveal to us also when we need to invest in new ways that are more aligned with You. God you are so good and whatever you are in the midst of, is so good too. So I pray today you refresh us and make us afresh and anew. So that whatever we do, you shine through and that we become vessels of integrity, truth and love. I pray that despite whatever you show us and are changing within us we find peace in you and in the everlasting love you have for us despite our flaws, sins and broken ways. Thank you for loving each of us the same and help us to humble ourselves enough to grow and learn and see what you are showing us. Help us to go where you are taking us, invested in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
We all are broken and need repair. God is the only one who can truly bring that. Let us pray that He reveals what needs to be repaired or even replaced within our lives today. And when He does, let’s pray that we continue to invest His word and love into these new ways and restored parts.
© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
We must celebrate relationships in our lives and anniversaries are a perfect time to do that. Even though it is just one day of the year, it is often difficult to find time for even the people who mean the most to us. My husband is my rock and while it has been 14 years since we met and 10 years of marriage, he continues to be the best decision I ever made.
I was 27 years of age when we got married and still really relied on the opinions of others at the time. The beach wedding I wanted was frowned upon and even the fitted dress I wanted received those frowns too. Therefore, to steer clear of any more added drama on our special day, I made decisions based on others not completely on what my heart was telling me. Still, we had a perfect day, truly one of the best days of my life.
A few years after our wedding, I told my husband that if we ever remarried (of course to each other), I would do things the way we felt was right for us, not what was right for others. I then forgave those people and even myself for that time, acknowledging how much I had grown. It was then we also came up with a great idea: we would renew our vows at 10 years on the beach in the town where we met!
So two days ago we did just that! We renewed our love with personally written vows to each other’s and engraved wedding bands. We brought our children, parents and aunt to come to the beach where it all started 14 plus years ago. (I even got to wear a fitted white dress.) It was beyond special and perfect! God even held the rain until right afterwards.
Life is about these moments. In life, it is often easy to celebrate the big ones like weddings. However, we must make the time for the smaller moments too. They deserve to be celebrated too!
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV)
Though my husband and I are there to support and defend each other, it really helps having God as the first strand in our cord of three. “A triple braided cord is not easily broken.” Life is filled with highs and lows, mountains and valleys. However, it is with that added support of faith that we can better climb together tied to the strongest rope possible for when we fall. I know it is hard to take a single hair band out of my daughter’s curly hair as it can easily get tangled. We are like that single band when we stand alone. God must come first. And even though I fought that for so long, His undeserving grace led my husband and I together over fourteen years ago.
My blue eyed dream come true.
My answered prayer.
“You and me together
Through the days and nights
I don’t worry ’cause
Everything’s going to be alright ” – “No one” by Alicia Keyes
But remember anniversaries only come once a year, we must try to make the time to celebrate the important people and relationships we have throughout the year too.
Love always finds a way… if we let it.
Love is always the answer.
So I’m striving to continue to make sure my priorities are in order and to value my friendships and relationships even more.
My goal is to celebrate my marriage by making the time for it each day … even if that means that some nights the kitchen counter id let an unorganized mess.
Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Cookies are one of my favorite types of desserts to eat and also experiment with. This summer when I was looking for something new to bring to barbecues, I stumbled across some recipes for peach cobblers. Since my son has dairy, egg and peanut allergies, he cannot eat dessert unless it is made by us or purchased from one of our reliable companies. Therefore, I tend to like to bring desserts to events so that he can be included too. Everyone deserves to be included!
The following recipe is a play on peach cobbler. It is dairy, egg and peanut free as well! Add some ice cream to the top or sandwich it in between two cookies! You will want to put those summer diets aside for this one.
However you decide to eat them, they are promised to be delicious and totally worth the mess on the counter.
1 cup Vegan butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1.5 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
2 Tablespoons dairy-free milk (We used almond, cashew, pea called Protein Milk by Silk because of its thickness and richness)
3 cups flour (We used organic, whole wheat but it can be substituted for a gluten free one)
1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped peaches (skinned and cut into tiny pieces)
It’s so incredible to watch the personality, gifts and talents of a child unfold. All are so distinct and special from each other, a great reminder of how each of us is our own unique person, even at a young age. A great reminder that all of us have our own God-given gifts and purpose.
As a special education teacher, it is my job to discover and teach to each individual student’s own talents and strengths. It is both my privilege and obligation to empower them against any challenges they may have or face. It’s part of my nature now to do this in the classroom. However, in the home, it is a bit more complicated at times.
Both my husband and I played sports for most of our lives and assumed that our children would want to too. And even though they are both so young yet at the ages of 2 and 5, their little but LARGE personalities and interests are already shining through …
I first saw this with my son. He may not be asking to go throw a football right now; but he is following in my husband’s footsteps of loving Legos. Since the age of 2.5, TJ has loved puzzles, activity sticker books, creating, building and taking objects apart. Literally, he could spend hours, and even days partaking in these activities. Proud Mama over here when he turned four and started to tackle legos made for as high up as 10 years old and older.
It’s all fun and games until you have 10 boxes of Legos and pieces all over the place.
That is when we created TJ’s LEGO room. While it now holds 40 sets and counting, it is much more organized these days, even if TJ takes it apart five times a day.
So while I can’t help but to be a little sad as we transform his room from baby giraffes and elephants to Legos for days, I also can’t help but to be proud of the amazing person he is and continues to become. A nice organization system amongst the mess helps the transition as well…
Madi wanted in on the fun too…
What do you see?
Does it often seem like despite your efforts to do good, that the things you fail in…the one thing you forgot to do or just didn’t have enough time to do …is the one and only thing people notice. That your failure is the one and only thing people see.
I have felt this often throughout most of my life. The one time I forget to check to see if all twenty of Madison’s hair ties are in her backpack when I pick her up is the day her teachers also forgot to pack them… (She has an obsession with her bracelets aka hair ties). Or the one time I give the wrong show and tell, I’m reminded of where the weekly theme is posted.. Or even the one day our of the month I decide not to do laundry, everyone is asking for something from it.
It can seem as though no one sees or appreciates how I have made random stops at the store during a crazy day to buy more backup hair ties…Or usually have show and tells packed up and ready to go days in advance…Or how I have been doing laundry every day for years. And the reality is, we do so much each day that no one does see… that does go unnoticed.
For years, I found myself getting upset from these reactions of others, from what people saw or what failed to see. That was until I reflected on what I myself was focused on. What I was seeing and that was also when I learned to laugh… often at myself and “the irony” of life.
As a society, what are we focused on? It’s so easy to give into the negativity around us. It is everywhere!
The tantruming child…
the grumpy cashier …
the car honking obnoxiously to get out of their way …
the rude coworker who doesn’t say hi back or even acknowledge you in the hallway…
or even the deceitful family member who knows how to push your buttons…
That’s what I was seeing too. All the displeasing things that were happening around me… and everything that was not happening. How the garbage cans in the kitchen were overflowing again or how the empty paper towels liked to wait for me to replace them. However, in focusing on these parts of the day, I was blinding myself to what was being done.
All the times that the garbage was taken out …
the fact that I rarely brought those garbage cans to the curb…
all the times that the paper towels were put away for me when unpacking from the supermarket…
all the people who were saying good morning or smiling back…
the shoes in which those family members walk and why they hurt so badly…
the chaos most of us walk through each day that tends to zone in on the negativity thrown at us…
instead of the good.
Who has time for the positivity anyways?
There really is a lot of good all around us. But we must make the time to see it. It is our job to consciously choose what to focus on. It is our decision. No one can hold that power over us.
Let’s be conscious on seeing the good. Let’s ask that grumpy cashier how their day is or better yet give a compliment.
Let’s say hello first to everyone who walks by us in the hallway at work and don’t worry if they don’t say hi back. Learn to let it go!
Let’s call up that angry family member randomly just to say hi.
Let’s pray for peace for that road raging person in the car next to us when they flash us their “friendly finger.”
Let’s thank our spouse for something that always do.
Let’s see the good…and if we can’t see it, create it!
We need to carefully decide what we zoom in on. There are a lot of perspectives to see from. It is not our job to transform the grumpy coworker or angrily shout back at the road raged driver. Instead, it is our job to stop the cycles around us and zoom in on the good.
See beneath the surface.
Pray for softened hearts.
Pray for communication barriers to be lifted and removed.
Pray to see the good in everyone.
We all have battles we are fighting all the time.
While we may not have been there exactly, we have all been somewhere similar struggling to stay afloat…
struggling to believe…
struggling to live.
Learning to keep your eyes open to those around you instead of closing them out, is how we truly begin to see each other and lift each other up. It’s how people start to see you too. Be the change you want to see. Let’s use eyes to support not to judge. Imagine what is possible if and when we work together and support one another. The possibilities are endless!
Soo yes, I promise I will try to see you past the layers of each chaotic day …
but right now behind this tower of laundry…
you may not see me.
Eyes aboard all around
the shipwreck’s gossip
washes over the town
who nurses with breast
who goes straight to bottle
yet the tides all bring
currents that steal sleep
some train and others coddle
and still they all ask the question,
Minds coast to speed
the wreckage drama
blankets with greed
who pays more
who files away into the depth
of the sand’s debt that burns
fires upon their feet
some nap and others explore free
and still they all ask,
Charade of lies
sea marks it all lost
images gloss over cries
who labels it a spiritual hand
who coins it as religion
the island is huge
there is room for all to live
yet most find fault
in their way to stand
upon a deck
Where they still ask,
Ship ashore, crashes upon its shouts
the baby falls captive
to the deception of the sea
as her wounds are deeper
than the fear of falling
it washes upon that same beach
the chaos of waves causes tidal doubt
overwhelm her belief
that she is just that
more than enough
and who still stands by
their fingers all pointed out
who fails to watch now, who misses the boat –
when all she needs
is a smile to swim upon her sinking oar
“Good job Mama,”
as she asks them back –
Who’s still watching?
For what were you really looking for?
© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
What’s the one thing your children do to drive you nuts right before bed? Sure, I should take it as a compliment that they want to stay in my presence 24/7 throughout every night and even when nature calls. But sometimes, after a hectic day … an easy bedtime routine would be wonderful until … the screaming, ten million irrational requests, and dehydration strikes!
My kids fit this bedtime diagnosis perfectly:
“Bedtime -the leading cause of dehydration in kids.”
TJ will sit in a corner somewhere and secretly chug water since we have learned to cut him off after dinner or else there will be a night call or sheet changing necessary. My daughter will chug an entire sippy cup of her milk and continue to ask for more and more and more and MORE as she smiles back at you or screams!
So we take showers, we read, we pray and we hope that each night goes smoothly… as we also know …
that one day…
we will miss these crazy days and even crazier nights…
But in the meantime, anyone know a cure? 🤨😂🤪