we three There has been lots of sister time lately since the baby sister has been back, and it’s fun to just be silly together again. They were telling me about all things they remember about me growing up, and it was fun to hear their perspective of how I was (I’m 7 years older than Reinna, and 10 years older than the baby). I was a self consumed teenager who loved hanging out with her friends, and boyfriend, and my siblings were so much younger that me that I didn’t pay too much attention to them. I remember being on the phone with my high school boyfriend and the three of them (we have a brother too) just running all over the house making silly videos. I just laughed at all the things they remembered about me, and apparently, I was really intimidating. Both of them really took my opinions of things to heart and cared a lot about what I thought of them (and choices they made). They also thanked me for blasting all my 90′s music because they love it so much, and frequently listen to it now.

One story we laughed really hard about took place near the end of my junior year in high school… I was invited to a graduation party with friends, but somehow my parents ended up following me, and went into the party! I was so pissed off and mortified that they did that! I was too embarrassed to even set foot inside the party. My sisters remembered the party room, what people were doing, and they told me that my parents just danced and laughed together, and then left (with my very young siblings in tow the whole time). I was outside the party fuming from the embarrassment and anger, then I went home with my family, and I had a yelling fest with my parents. I never knew what the party looked like or what my parents did inside, until yesterday when my sisters told me. I just remember feeling livid that they would do that and how I was so angry that I never got to study for a final I had the next day. It’s all so silly now, and we just had a good laugh as they described how pissed off they remembered me being.

It’s interesting to hear my younger siblings’ thoughts on my teenage self. One thing that seemed to have remained constant about me is that they remember me getting mad when the house was messy, and I still get mad about my own house being messy now. I guess I have always been a neat freak and the stress mess is real. There are lots of things I would have done differently knowing what I know now, but obviously, it’s part of life and all my mistakes have shaped who I am today.



press repeat

repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat It’s been 6 months since the second time Ben proposed (December), and 10 years ago we were about a month away (July) from our wedding. Looking back at these pictures make me smile and give me lots of happy butterflies. He brought in a lot of aspects from the first time he proposed… there was a bottle in the first proposal, Dave Matthews was part of it, as was the “W” and the phrase “fill my hole.” This time around, my family was substituted by our family. But I loved how he brought in the idea of Groundhog Day and “repeat” to signify this is the second time around.

When he first proposed, it was on his 30th birthday and I thought we were out to celebrate him, but the surprise ended up being on me. Same thing happened this time around on his 40th birthday (we did this for him in the morning), and I thought we were hanging out in the garden doing garden things because that’s what he requested we do on his birthday, and again, the surprised ended up being on me. I had just come back from picking up something we needed at Lowe’s, and I was starting to rip out weeds in the yard, and he was freaking out that I was making a mess while he swiftly swept up the weeds I had scattered on the ground. Next thing I knew, he was telling me to stand in a certain spot, then the girls assumed specific positions, and he started playing music. Seeing how I had been in this similar position 10 years prior, I had an inkling of what was happening, nevertheless, this man never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and surprises. He  changed the lyrics to the Dave Matthews Band song, “Sweet” (we love DMB!), and in the end, he was on one knee with a ring in hand (the ring is from The One I Love NYC). My eyes bugged out when I saw the ring, and with tears in them, and my heart full of joy, I gave a giant squeal, “Yes!”

It was such a sweet day and I was calling my parents and BFF yelling, “I’m engaged!” He already clued them in on his plans, so it wasn’t a surprise to them, but it was fun to get all giddy with them on the phone. We don’t plan on renewing our vows, but the symbolism of that day was enough. In about a month, we will celebrate 10 years of being covenanted together, and while there’s been a lot of bliss, there’s been plenty of fighting too. You get two selfish sinners together, you’re bound to clash and fight. Even still, I’m glad that he’s the guy I get to experience grace and gospel with. What makes us work? Not because of anything we do, but rather, Jesus working through our marriage for His glory.



i don’t always smile big

life with this man Sometimes my face expresses contempt, and I’m not talking about this not smiling type, but the “I’m-so-frustrated-and-mad-at-everybody” type. Two days this week I expressed that same contemptuousness; rather, my heart held onto it. There was a lot of not listening, disobedience, and broken things by the girls, which isn’t unusual considering they’re kids, but all of that put my heart in the wrong place. Actually, now that I’m looking back upon it, my heart was in the wrong place to begin with and it’s not their fault at all. My heart loves material things and having obedient children too much, and when those things are shattered, my heart crumbles. That’s because my hope isn’t meant to be put in those things and those things aren’t meant to last. I know earthly goods really are just a bunch of crap, I know I can’t take them with me when I die, but in that moment, I treasured it (more like hoarded it) in my heart. And kids, well, they don’t listen all the time, just like I don’t, and I’m constantly battling and praying for more patience. I even read this verse earlier this week… Proverbs 16:22 “Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.”

Thankfully, my story doesn’t stop there. I didn’t stay in my state of selfishness forever. Repentance happened, forgiveness happened, and I’m not defined by what I’ve done (or failed at doing, I even yelled “I suck at being a mom.”) because Jesus is my righteousness. Yeah, I’m a total screw up, but that’s why I know I need Jesus. He lived the life I should have lived, and died the death I deserved, and while I still screw up a lot (and will continue to), He covers all my screw ups with his blood. This probably sounds like the #storyofmylife over here, but it really is. My heart still wrestles with understanding grace and the cross, but each day, even through the screw-ups, God is giving me a clearer picture of what living a life of grace looks like… it’s never about me, it’s always about Jesus. When it becomes about me, that’s when trouble always starts, so I’m praying that my heart keeps battling to make it about Jesus. #endheartrant


slow growth

prune and grow I’ve felt a little foggy this week, but I guess I’m kind of mentally checked out and ready for summer. Anyone else?! As I was watering my plants the other night, I was thinking about how I’ve grown (or my lack of growth) these past few years. I even texted with our former pastor to let him know how much I appreciated that he still loved us well despite how slowly Ben and I grow. I’m thankful that my standing before God isn’t dependent on the speed of my growth. What matters is that my dead root was made new because of Jesus. Jesus is my righteousness and I praise Him for that!

I guess we match the pace of our garden, although, even that probably grows a lot of faster than Ben and me. We added some avocado trees over the weekend, more citrus trees will go in this weekend (and I think one more avocado). I’ve been having fun taking colorful pictures of things in our garden (see here). There are so many things growing right now and it makes us so excited to see the various trees fruiting. I’ve mentioned it before, but there are about 60 different trees in our backyard (and he still plans on adding more!). It’s insane! We have a regular, suburban Californian yard, so there really isn’t much space. Ben’s been really creative in how he has planned everything out, and after a few gardening blunders (and lots of dollars later), things are starting to take shape. Whew!

This weekend so many fun things are going on! The biggest thing is that my baby sister comes home on Sunday!!! I’m. So. Freaking. Excited!!! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since she left us. In the countries she has had access to wi-fi, we texted each other often, but those 3 months in South Africa, we barely heard from her at all. I can’t wait to touch her, hug her, and see her face to face again.

I known she’s grown so much, and she’s coming back a completely different person from when she left. Her love for Jesus and people has undoubtedly multiplied and I can’t wait to hear all her stories and learn from her. She is 10 years younger than me, but she definitely understood grace much sooner than I did (like I said, slow grower over here!). I think I spent a good chunk of my teen and college years trying to look and play the part of the “good Christian girl,” scared of what other people would think of me if they knew the things that were really going on in my heart. My baby sister on the other hand, she understood grace and forgiveness well at such a young age, that she was quick to admit her shortcomings and cling to Jesus. She didn’t trust in herself, but she trusted the cross. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for her here at home! If you want to read some of her posts while on her year long trip, check it out here. Every post of hers makes me weep and encourages my heart to seek God’s kingdom more.



testing week is almost done

benny and me The school year is winding down, and I’m so ready to be done. This week was True’s first experience with standardized state testing, and oh boy was I feeling all sorts of anxiety. I asked her how her first day went, and she said, “It was easy and I was the first one done!” That could have meant something totally great or totally not. I don’t know, either way, it made me nervous. I know these scores don’t really measure all that she knows, but I still feel the stress and pressure of it. Probably because I feel responsible for areas she is weak in, and well, I am responsible. The BFF reminded me that she is a well-rounded child (and if they tested her creative abilities, she would blow that thing out of the water). And I know she is, but I still get worked up over this testing thing. Later on today, we are going to do something fun to celebrate surviving standardized testing week! Sounds like that would make a cute t-shirt slogan, maybe we should make one.

The words from “Brokeness Aside” by All Sons & Daughters captures well what I’ve been feeling this week…
‘Cause I am a sinner
If it’s not one thing it’s another
Caught up in words
Tangled in lies
But You are a Savior
And You take brokenness aside
And make it beautiful

I’m a person who likes things to go fast paced, and I fill up my schedule with to-dos. I feel crazy from everything (and probably complain about it), but I totally do it to myself. I enjoy making myself busy, but too much busy isn’t always a good thing. I see how I often try to find my happiness in something fleeting (projects, social media, obedient kids, everything to go as planned, etc.), but I really am just tangled in lies. The good news is that I know I’m not stuck there! God takes my messiness, covers it with Jesus, and makes it beautiful.



celebrating resurrection sunday

resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 resurrection day 2015 We had a wonderful resurrection Sunday. It was filled with lots of Jesus and grace (Ben and I had a couple of small spats), food, gospel-centered conversations, family, friends, and lots of dessert. Of course, there was also an easter egg hunt. The eggs were filled with chocolate, cookies, and dollar bills! The adults so wanted to join in. Soul gathered the most eggs, and she was so sweet and selfless by giving some of her eggs to her sisters.

All the girls’ dresses were sewn by me, but they picked out their own fabric combinations (well, not Glow). True’s is from a pattern that can be found in my book. I don’t have a pattern to share for the others.

After such a fun spring break week last week, it was hard having to get back into our regular homeschooling routine. We sucked it up and got back at it though (we are totally counting down until summer). Something good that Monday brought: we officially started remodeling our downstairs bathrooms (see here). I’m excited to see it all come together!




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