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my month as a stay at home mom.

In a bizarre and unexpected turn of events, I have found myself unemployed.

The story is stupid, and ongoing, and ridiculous, and I’m not going to tell it to you.

I think I spent the first week of unemployment angry at everything.  There was ranting, there was crying.. it was just ugly and morbid.  The second week I spent completely re-hauling my life, deciding that we should take this opportunity to move since we had been talking about it, and applying everywhere under the sun in the area we were hoping to get to.  The next few weeks have been waiting impatiently, seeing no results, getting random horrible pieces of news from different people, feeling depressed, and finally, giving up.

When I spend weeks spiraling into insanity, Jason’s outlook on life always smacks me in the face.  He says, “I’m really glad you get to spend this time with Eden.”

Sigh.

My dream has always been to get to be a stay at home mom, to watch my babies grow up, to see each little milestone.  But I was so obsessed with money and whining and justice that I was missing the opportunity that I had been given.  I may not get to continue being a stay at home mom, but I had best soak it up while it lasts!

So we started picking rooms to clean each day, Eden would ride on my back in the baby carrier while I vacuumed the floor or washed the dishes.  We figured out that the crib was just not working for us and transitioned to a Montessori style floor bed, which is working better.  We started child proofing.  We tackled piles of junk that had been long untouched.

The applications we sent out have gone unanswered, and so moving has gotten pushed to a back burner and we have to figure out how to make it work here.  I am looking into watching kids because I am reluctant to go back to spending the majority of my time away from Eden, but I may find that my stay at home mothering days are numbered, and I don’t want to have wasted one minute.

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Flipping through my Bible Journal.

It seems that Bible journaling has taken off in the time since I have started doing it.  The Facebook community went from 5,000 to 13,000 in just a few months, and so many people are asking questions like how to get started and what supplies you need.

One of my favorite things about this is that you don’t need fancy art supplies, though they can be fun.  My favorite splurge was my black and white Faber-Castel pens, which were like $5-$7 each.  I use a Micron pen to write or outline, but I think you could use any black pen you have.  Then I picked up acrylic paints for $0.50 a bottle at Walmart and watercolors that I bought for $5 at Target, and I use those often.

The real point is that you spend time with God in his word.  If you use a ballpoint pen and crayons, that is fine.  If you print stuff off the internet and paste it in your Bible, that is fine.  If you trace stuff, that is fine.  Don’t let pride or shame hold you back from using art as a vehicle for worship in your life.

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This is in Psalm 119.  I decided that I didn’t even need to try to draw something, I just wanted to convey how I feel when I read through this chapter.  The words keep coming, flowing over my soul like a waterfall, a constant stream of confirmation that God is good, good, good.  This is acrylic paint that I brushed on thinly so it wouldn’t bleed through, then I wrote alternately with my Micron and Faber-Castel pens.

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In my family we have a tradition of each person sharing a mini-sermon at our Easter sunrise service, and as I was preparing my sermon I wanted to journal in Romans.  This is the line that jumped out at me, because I have always been fascinated by the over-arching redemption story.  I applied acrylic paint with an old credit card and after it dried, wrote over it with my white Faber-Castel pen.  I used the Micron pen to outline the letters.

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This is my new favorite entry ever.  On Easter Sunday I sketched it with a ballpoint pen in church and when we got home that afternoon I used my cheap Target watercolors to paint it.  I was not careful and it did bleed through to the other side.  I used a red Micron pen for the letters and finished it with white Faber-Castel pen dots.

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For this entry, I wanted to express surrender.  I had been dealing with a lot of stress and I just felt like it was time to put my head down and just let God do his God-thing.  I sketched the image with a Micron pen and then went over it with Faber-Castel, then I used watercolors to paint the girl.  The background is acrylic paint and then white Faber-Castel lettering with Micron and black Faber-Castel pen for the outlines.

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I do love this entry.  It is my one big purchase, a $20 stamp set.  I really have not used it that often though, so it was probably unnecessary.  I started using it a lot and then found myself starting to get focused on how things looked instead of just enjoying the time with God regardless of how it turned out.  But stamps can be great, especially if you hate your handwriting.

I hope that looking through my Bible can encourage you to start journaling, even if you decide to do it in a sketch book or somewhere else.  I have found that it helps me focus instead of skimming through the scripture, and it has been a great outlet for all the emotions that have gone along with a very crazy season of my life.

Happy painting to you!

Tricked – Sex Trafficking in North America

Last night, Jason and I watched Tricked, a documentary about sex trafficking in North America.  It was definitely graphic and there was a lot of language and sex, but it did a great job of showing the realities of the industry.

The people being interviewed had such sad stories: like a police officer and family who wanted to adopt a teenage girl out of the sex trade and were told it wasn’t a good idea, a woman remembering that she used to charge $30 for a blow job and $50 for sex, and a young teenager who had told her story over and over again but the cops never had enough proof to arrest the people who forced her to commit sexual acts for money.

We watched men talk about buying sex as if it were another monthly bill, and commenting on how the price of pussy has come down with the recession.  An older man talked about how he has always paid for sex and doesn’t care if the women are willing or not as long as he gets his money’s worth.

One of the cops interviewed said that we are past the time when pimps target troubled teens and runaways.  They are in the movie theaters and malls, they are targeting teens as young as 11, pretending to be their boyfriends and then beating them and threatening to kill their families if they don’t comply.  They are told that the cops aren’t on their side, and in many cases that is true.  These women are seen as prostitutes and rarely treated as victims.  Another cop said that if someone did this to his daughter he would kill them, which would be unfortunate because he would be in jail, but he said there is not justice enough for taking away someone’s future, their innocence, and their choice of what to do with their life.

If this issue has ever grabbed your attention, watching this documentary.  It is on Netflix!

Nonprofits like The Exodus Road, Love146 and North Star Initiative are fighting sex trafficking right now and you can help!

Journal like a Psalmist.

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I messaged Macy this morning, completely discouraged and angry.  I’m so fed up with things going wrong, one after the other.  I’m so tired of living in what feels like a constant state of emergency.  I’m so irritated that God isn’t the kind of God who will make everything okay and comfortable and easy for us.  I’m so embarrassed that we can’t just go to work and pay our bills and live in our stupid apartment like normal stupid people.

And I wanted to journal, but I felt like I would just make ugly black marks all over my journaling Bible because that is what my heart feels like.  Great big ugly black marks going all through it.  Mentally, I try to curb the bitterness and accept that God is good and that we will be fine, but emotionally I’m all like a two year old throwing a temper tantrum.  I’m flinging junk and wailing and writhing on the floor in public emotionally.

Macy said, just journal.  It is important to document the bad as well as the good.  And she said other things and made me cry and filled that friend place in my heart that had been achingly empty for a few days.

So I put the baby down to nap and I gathered my supplies and I turned to Lamentations, because when I have some kind of beef with God, this is where I go:

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath;
he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light;
surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long.
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away; he has broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago.
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy;
though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with blocks of stones; he has made my paths crooked.
He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding;
he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate;
he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow.
He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver;
I have become the laughingstock of all peoples, the object of their taunts all day long.
He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood.
He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”

That may be slightly dramatic, but sometimes I just feel that way.  My soul is just completely bereft of peace and my endurance for this garbage is just gone.  My hope in the Lord is more like a sarcastic, “Okay, let’s see you work THIS together for good.”

And I journaled.  It started out all gray overtop of the words because my anger was gone and at that point I just felt like.. whatever, God.  Do your thing or don’t do your thing.  I cannot find it within my soul to care.

I glanced at the next column, knowing the words that were there, but not wanting to read them because I didn’t feel them yet.  And they caught my eye anyway:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope..”

Then promise after promise of God’s goodness just washed over me and I cried and read that even though I feel like everything and everyone are against us, that God is for us, that he doesn’t punish us willingly, that he has compassion, that it is good to bear burdens when you are young because there are so many lessons to learn.  And I felt like maybe my page could get a little more hopeful, not for the present but for the future.

The reason why I have always related to the Psalms and Lamentations is because of this type of writing.  The pouring out of all the emotional junk that you feel and then choosing to remember the truth of who God is and what he has promised to do.  Life is so full of pain and embarrassment and garbage, but in the middle of that, God is still a good God.  I am so grateful that I can have days like today where I yell at him and then end up resting in the promise of rest to come.

be all there.

I’ve been so busy and so stressed, that sometimes I have to stop and remind myself to treasure each of these moments.  I’ll realize that I’m on my phone when I could be making Eden laugh, or capturing the last of her toothless grins on camera.  I get frustrated that she wakes up all night when I could be cherishing the chance to cuddle her close while it lasts.  At this stage I feel like she learns a new thing every day, and I want to be fully present to appreciate each milestone.

My new job and change of babysitter upped my commute from 15-20 minutes to more like an hour.  I don’t love being in the car that long, but getting to commute with Eden is fun.  I’m glad to have her with me for the extra 45 minutes in the morning, even if “with me” is just listening to me sing songs to her or napping in her car seat.  I think that being a working mom is helping me to be jealous of every minute that I can hold her and talk to her, I don’t want to take these short years for granted.

One thing I love about my life is our family dynamic.  Jason has taken to being a dad like a pro, and Eden is obsessed with him.  Their relationship makes me all sappy and teary eyed.  Every little girl should be crazy about her Daddy.  And every Momma should get that fuzzy feeling when she sees her man getting wrapped up in his child.  So beautiful.  *snif!*

One of the quotes that gets repeated among my MMR friends over and over is from Jim Elliot: “Wherever you are, be all there.” I always thought that was a great quote, but sometimes things don’t internalize in me as deeply until I have a moment of realization.  When my baby outgrows one of my favorite onesies.. be all there.  When my husband and daughter are having a staring contest.. be all there.  When we drive down to see family.. be all there.

I want to challenge myself to be present in my real life and avoid screens when I have the option of interacting with people.  I want to think back to these days and have a hundred stories to be able to tell when we get older and Eden asks what she was like as a baby.  I want my default to be a conversation, not checking Facebook.  Will you join me?

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