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.”
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.
A mouse and a lion are very different
from the outside
their lines trace them out to be that way
in fact they define opposite
-the world would like to say.
They would say
they are too different
from their creases to the way they walk
to how loudly they shout
or how quietly they talk.
From even how dull their pasts reflect
or how bright their scars shine.
Our world likes to do it that way
they divide and build borders –
for this is yours,
and this is mine.
They tell me that a thousand likes
or a dozen comments and words
are the way to succeed and dream,
but through the eyes of each heart
even a lion and a mouse
are more alike than they seem.
For when we strip away each layer,
when we peel back each scar,
revealed becomes each heart
and we see how similar
we really are.
When we forget how they live or look
when we let go of what we have been told
when the crowds cannot gather
and the events are put on hold,
when we forget what they say
though so much has changed,
we start to see people
in this new and beautiful way.
Change is happening.
Differences do exist,
but when it becomes about each heart
love doesn’t just conquer, it really can persist.
And that is where we realize
that like the mouse and the lion
we need each other
not the competition or fame
not the “he said, she said” game
because despite our beautiful differences
very much the same.
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)
I started this poem during a time when I was still using excuses as my crutch. I was still relying on the good ole’ “I am this way because…” phrase. The truth is that it is often easier to blame others than to accept and take on the challenge of change. It is easier to point fingers when you fail than to accept it a pathway to change. In life, we must be careful though because soon we can be left with no more fingers to point.
No Fingers Left to Point
Finger points, gun ready aim,
the broken glass is first,
because even shattered windshields require
First finger points
to their childish quarrels
as words expel more
an eye for an eye,
can they even remember
what that stands for?
Second finger points
he makes me do it
the choice is never my own
a squirrel cannot survive the streets
on such an indecisive throne.
Third finger points and cries
the ability to shoot back
depends on what her lonely heart lends
to her cheating hand
anything for a friend.
Fourth finger points
their words make her starve
to hunger differently
it is not her own
nor that of the skeleton they not see.
Fifth finger points
they fill her cup
like everyone does to fit in
as she still keeps track,
what even matters?
what even counts?
in drunkenness, she thirsts
a new way to silence, the crying within.
Sixth finger points
plaid skirts to her knees
try it the right way,
until rolls it to the waist
her morals to the curb
caves for someone to love
no one to save me
as if, no one watches above.
Seventh finger points
to her white dress
how can she still cry
how can she still yearn for more,
as he promises to stay
and plays the violin
over her broken seams
no longer knows herself
no longer the recipient
of her own dreams.
Eighth finger points
they judge her before
a mother they can see
babies she wraps in love
nurturing this new version
Ninth finger points
these shoes teach me to be, just that
as they tiptoe into the dance
my feeble legs fake that seductive strength
of who they cannot understand
still broken in form,
but somehow, I still stand.
Tenth finger fires
and no more remain
leaves me as a fingerless pawn,
in this fruitless game.
For all these fingers, they point back too,
aimless, blameless, responsible,
and for the first time,
I face imperfection’s true attack:
no one to blame,
no where to point,
no where to run,
to face the truth, fingerless,
exposed accusations leaves me alone,
to do just that –
finally sells me back the truth
that accepts and forgives them all,
as I hold myself
in the unclenching of a fist,
for ten fingers I now lack.
Finally I accept it all to breathe free
responsible solely for me
with no fingers left to point,
I finally face
that I wish I had all ten of them back.
© 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.
Freedom comes when we stop pointing fingers. It is then we can unfold our fists and soften our hearts to the life we deserve. Excuses are just that, excuses. They will never bring us to the more our lives are made for. Those excuses are crutches that steal so much more from us than they do from those we direct our anger, our sadness, our fingers to.
Freedom comes with patience and prayer.
Freedom comes from time used wisely instead of being wasted in the distractions, in the excuses.
Freedom comes from forgiveness.
It comes from letting go of the clenched fist and allowing the heart to beat freely again. Freedom comes from leaving all the excuses on the beach and getting into the living, healing waters, instead of waiting for someone else to save us.
That was a difficult message for me to hear because I didn’t want to hear it. It was easier to blame others for my battles and hardships than take the matters into my own hands. For the longest time I thought that it meant I needed to take on and carry all of that weight myself.
But that is never the case.
We are never meant to carry the burdens ourselves.
The resentment and excuses will never allow us to truly be free of anxiety, depression and pain.
But learning to let it go will.
So, please forgive me now for the mess. I’d rather walk proudly with the scars and with my fingers and arms ready to hug my loves, even if it means I may have to skip, jump or even limp over the clutter at times. But at least I have no more crutches laying around to trip me up too.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.””
John 5:6-8 NIV
Get your mat and walk! Lay down the excuses no matter how long they have been stirring there, no matter how long you have been waiting. It’s your time to let go and live.
We were married for over five years before we had kids. Honestly, I’m not sure why it was that way other than it took me awhile to be ready. We traveled a lot and worked a lot. And the truth was… kids terrified me.
So of course to test our responsibility waters a bit before jumping to the chase, we did the only responsible thing a couple do … We got a puppy!
Now, Bailey was the cutest puppy ever. I know we were biased of course. But he really was. We did everything for and with him… he slept with us… he traveled with us … he had puppy play dates … daily walks… we played… we swore nothing would change!
Until kids came…
Recently, when I was reflecting back to those days, I started to get a bit sad about it all. He is still the first one to greet you beyond enthusiastically when you come home, even if it involves a bit of an aggressive butt sniff. He is still the one who comes over when you are upset to comfort you and he is the first one to greet you in the morning. I am not sure if that’s a positive thing being that he wakes at 4 am every day of the week looking for breakfast.
However, he was our first and although I must admit that when I’m unloading the groceries or when I’m unpacking and repacking backpacks while cooking dinner and I trip over Bailey rummaging for food, I do find myself getting annoyed. When the kids are screaming and insurance has you on hold again for the tenth time, it’s so easy to take out our frustration on the person or furry companion that we know will not judge us. It’s the truth and it’s why I promise myself I would put an end to it starting this week.
Sure, Bailey is a bit inappropriate with the butt sniff he greets everyone with. He barks up a storm for anyone who parks or walks near our street especially if they have a dog. He is constantly looking for food scraps and sure gets enough of them now that my kids have learned that. He may snore like it is his job. But he is a good dude… the perfect companion who will never judge us … and that is pure love!
Therefore, we’ve added in a few ways to show him our appreciation.
like always, we never leave without hugging and kissing him goodbye. And we never come home without doing the same. After the kids go to sleep, I spend some time just patting him and loving him up. When we make our stop at Petco every other week to look at the kittens, fish and other pets, we also pick up a special treat for Bailey, even if the chance of him destroying it within ten minutes is high.
I want to teach my kids the love of a pet so that they can carry that over into their grownup lives. So Bailey I do apologize if babies got my brain for a few years, but I promise you your time and that you will always get fed as soon as we get home from school/work even if it means the bags and lunches remain unpacked a little longer.
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…