Monday, April 30, 2012

Grace-Based Mothering


In these still new-ish days of toddler-dom, I've found myself seeking counsel from other wise mommies around me. And Elise is one of the first friends and mommas that come to my heart. She is going to bless us all by sharing a three part series on grace-based mothering. I can't wait! 

Elise and I were childhood buddies, way back when... I rode in the rear-facing seat in her family's station-wagon, ate all-natural peanut butter sandwiches at her home, tried my best to learn all of her siblings names, and spent many hours playing under the mimosa tree in her front yard. She has grown to be a woman of deep character and mommy of three since our carefree days of make-believe, and I think you will be so blessed by her wisdom.
                                              
After you read this game-changer, you can, and should, check out more of Elise's powerful writings on her blog,  Redeeming the Days

I quit!!

Many times on hard days, these words screech through my mind. 

But I can't. 

I am Mom, and there is no substitute. 

The five month old needs me. The two year old needs me. The six year old needs me. 

They need me for full tummies and clean bottoms. They need me to help them learn colors and numbers and state capitals and scriptures and table manners. They need me to play, and praise, and sing and dance with them. They need me to wipe away their tears and kiss their bruises and hug them long. 

The need me to teach them how to share, and how to give generously, even sacrificially. They need me to look into their eyes, and smile in their sweet faces, when they are talking to me. They need me to teach them how to have a quiet time, how to maintain a routine, how to value making healthy choices for their God-temple bodies. 

They need me to set the example of how to be patient. They need me to show them how to pray for the family of believers, our sponsor children, and those blind, deaf, lame and lost in darkness with discernment, but not judgement. They need me to discipline them, encourage and direct them. They need me to model the freedom of following God's commands. They need me show them grace.

They need. They need. They need

And this Momma... she runs empty... as dry as a bone. 

Isn't that when it comes? The relentless tidal wave wall of Momma-guilt?

I have nothing left to give... and it's only 10 a.m.!!

How in this broken world with this sin-bent soul can I extend grace to my ever-testing, ever-challenging, ever-spirit-sensitive-and-bad-habit-reflecting kids??

And this, this is the crux of the how??:

Grace only and always flows down out of the source of grace... Grace Himself.


And what greater gift is there than grace? It is gift of Grace that saves us.

It is critical to be able to share this grace with our children. So we must invest in our relationship with Grace.

For we can not give what we do not have. 

Ah. More Momma-guilt. 

How... in my crazy-busy life that ends at 2 a.m. and begins again by 7 a.m. and is utterly non-stop because my kiddos seem to tag-team to exhaust me... how can I find time, or energy, to invest in another relationship??... Even if it is with Grace. 

And this, this is the crux of the how??:

We can not have what we do not accept. 

My Mom tells me this often when we're visiting and I leak out a few words, just tiny drops of all the guilt and the I'm-never-done-and-there's-always-more-and-I-don't-have-anything-left-but-ugliness that's poisoning me inside... she tells me about what God told her as she was full time caring for a mentally-declining elderly Granny and was raising us nine crazy-challenging kids. 

She tells me about how she was feeling so guilty for the things she struggled with on a daily basis when she compared her life and responsibilities to other woman around the world. Women who worked all day just to feed their kids crumbs. Women who had husbands who weren't supportive and loving like my Dad has always been. Women who raised special-needs children. Women who battled chronic illnesses. 

She'd say: "I mean really... what were my daily stresses compared with what God had given other women? I would feel so weak... so guilty. I have it easy compared to so many others...

... but then, I kept hearing God encourage me...

'No! No... dying to yourself is always hard. Regardless of the specifics of what I ask you to lay down for Me... dying to yourself is dying to yourself.'"

I extend this grace to loved friends, family... even strangers. No matter what they are going through I do not belittle their struggles but acknowledge this truth that dying to yourself is indeed extremely hard and I encourage them towards Christ. But for myself... why this lack of understanding that sin is not on a scale and we are all equally needy?

And laying down this Momma-guilt and comparisons and nailing my pride to the cross of grace... this must be done so I can open my heart to Grace. 

I must accept that grace is free. Not earned. Not deserved. No-strings-attached-free

If I will not accept His grace for my weaknesses, and sins, and neediness... I will never have it to give to my children for theirs. 

We can not give what we do not have, we can not have what we do not accept.

When your life is give, give, give to those who need, need, need... it can be very difficult to remember that it is okay to simply, gratefully, freely accept. 

He is the perfect Father, who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love Who never tires of meeting my needs. Who tells me over and over to ask, ask, ask so I can receive, receive, receive.  

This is the lie that our enemy whispers that must be exposedTime spent with God takes something good, or something we need, from us. 

This is the truth we must embrace(and rejoice in!) : God doesn't need anything from me! In truth, it is a ridiculously, beautifully, miraculously lopsided relationship! He doesn't need anything from me... but He gives me everything. Life. Breath. Everything else. 

In my next post I will share some thoughts on how an exhausted Momma can stay awake long enough to even be available to be loved on by the LORD. 

In the post following I will share some thoughts on how to then extend the grace we have accepted and received to our desperately grace-needy children. 

Blessings!
Elise

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sponsor Out Of Alabaster in May

I'm pulling back the curtain, and I'm super excited to share Out Of Alabaster's bright and shiny sponsorship program. You guys, I am beyond elated to share this life-giving advertising partnership. 

You might notice that it's a little different than your typical blog sponsorship program. First, there are only six available sponsorships each month, all with the same large-sized ads. This means everyone gets the an abundance of attention as a sponsor. 

Secondly, I'm tired of my sad little button sitting on a blog sidebar all by its lonesome. So, I'm facilitating Sykpe dates, twitter parties, and goodie swaps between sponsors.  There will be networking among sponsors, mutual encouragement, bouncing crazy ideas off one another, praying, and making real and lasting relationships.  

Why? Because I want to get to know you, and I want to share your creative heart and inspiration with my readers.. and because I'm pretty sure they want to get to know you too!


Lots of love,
Lindsey

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Give us grace.

Suddenly, my sweet little baby has turned into a running, talking, yelling, opinionated little person. Can someone please explain to me how this happened? It seems that overnight I was presented with a  fiercely independent third person living in my house. 

She requests pizza for every meal (since she ate it ONCE two weeks ago). She feels very strongly about having ICE in her water, and she even lets me know what clothes she would like to wear. She folds her hands and 'waits patiently' for exactly 2 seconds before protesting.







 I knew at some point she would grow up.. that she would be defiant, and even willfully disobedient, just like the rest of humanity. But I can't help that it makes me a little sad.. Sad that my little baby will face the battle of good vs evil, right vs wrong, the eternal struggle of light vs darkness.

grace. give her grace.

We have entered into new territory, and for the first time in my parenting career, I'm finding myself really needing to listen to the Holy Spirit about how to interact with this curly-headed goober. I trust that as her mother, God has given me the special ability to pastor her heart. To train her, not in good manners alone, but in humility, thankfulness, and patience. To teach her the story of grace.

grace. give me grace.

I tell her about Jesus, his grace, how none of us have the self-control to be obedient on our own. We pray together in thankfulness for His sacrifice, and ask for our hearts to be transformed to look more like his. Honestly, sometimes,  I feel like we are two toddlers asking Jesus for the exact same thing.

grace. give us grace.

This is how we worship.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April Blog Hop!

Ok. I promised myself I was going to wait until midnight, but I just cant!! I'm so excited *eek* Have fun! Make friends! Leave some encouragement for your bloggy sisters :) Ready. Set. GO!
Are you ready to network??
Are you prepared to make some new bloggy friends??
Well, here's your chance! 

RULES:
Link up to the homepage of your blog.
....follow Host and Co-Hosts {pretty please}
feel free to follow by Facebook, Twitter, or whatever works best for you!
....hop // network // have fun!

If you'd like to post this linky on your blog, grab the code below.
The more, the merrier! Wouldn't you agree? {yay!}

Thanks again to my ever so gracious co-hosts:




This is a "Blog Hop" - Grab this button, and link-up with the party train!! Have fun :)

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Thanks so much for linking up with us!
Wishing you all the best in your bloggy endeavors. Blog on!!

Save the Date!  Next Hop: 5/20

Friday, April 20, 2012

There are a lot of new faces around here lately , so I thought it might be fun to share my entire house tour in one big sha-bang! For those of you who don't know me (yet) my name is Lindsey, and this is where I share my life, loves, and handiwork. 

Welcome to my own special little corner of the blog-o-verse! When I'm not chasing around my little girl, Selah,  I am busy making custom silhouettes for my custom silhouette portrait shop, Out Of Alabaster.

 Over the past six ten months since I've started blogging and creating custom silhouettes in my Etsy shop, I've had many people ask where I learned how to 'do' all this creative stuff, drawing, remodeling, sewing, decorating, etc.. I never had any formal training or instruction, but I was raised in a home that purposefully cultivated creativity and valued individual artistic expression. 


One of my most vivid childhood memories is of sneaking into my parents room, and carefully cutting out a little swatch of fabric from the verrrry corner of their brand new bed sheets. (I was convinced they wouldn't notice, and my bunny needed a new pretty dress!) What strikes me the most about this memory, is that I don't remember getting in trouble for ruining the new bed-sheets at all. What I DO remember is being praised for YEARS after the death of my parent's sheets for my creativity. In my childhood home, people were more important that things, and that's the same attitude that I try to bring into my home now that I'm a mother. 

Our little house has been a labor of love, and was quite the fixer-upper when we purchased it. This remodel what I like to think of as a 'normal person' remodel. Nothing fancy-smancy, just sweat, hard earned savings, and long nights of work. 


My husband and I chose to re-do our master bedroom first, so that we could have a nice place to relax and retreat at the end of our day. Having one completed oasis made all the difference in preserving my sanity throughout the remodel process!

I know that white-painted furniture can quickly go down the country shabby-chic route, but I tried avoid this by mixing up the space up with both vintage and modern touches, like the bright modern throw pillows, a chalkboard above our bed, and the vintage glass lamp. 
  The planked walls were a nice surprise that we found beneath several layers of paneling and old wallpaper.We white-washed the walls and then randomly brushed on a light blue for some color. Daniel hung the ceiling tiles and chandelier, and I painted the furniture, sewed the pillows, and made the little chalkboard piece above our bed. It was a team effort!
 The sweetest love-letter, written by Daniel... complete with burned edges and sealed in wax! 
Because my decorating style is all about subtlety and being understand, I decided to throw in a big-horn sheep with a bow tie. I mean, WHY NOT?!  His name is Ferdinand. He was a gift from Daniel's grandpa.. Of course, he needed a bow-tie. The space seems so much more dignified now.
In all seriousness, I think the most important design advice I could give would be to not to take yourself or the process too seriously. I'm all for mixing it up, and adding in elements that are unexpected. If you love something, then go with it. Make it yours, and make it fun.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Save The Date


One of the bestest (<-- yep) parts about blogging is meeting new and wonderful friends! 

So many of you have become my real-life friends, offered words encouragement, and even shared your 2am medical advice with this new mom via TwitterFacebook, or Instagram (@outofalabaster)

Here's your chance to grow your blog, make some friends, and bring a smile to another blogger's face!

Grab this button, and swing by on Sunday to link-up with the party train!! Hope to see you there :)

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Lots of love,
Lindsey 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cauliflower Pizza Crust


I'm really working on cutting simple carbohydrates out of my diet, so when I saw this low-carb pizza crust recipe on Pinterest, I was intrigued!

It was delicious, easy to make, and I didn't experience any of the 'heaviness' that I usually do after eating carb-laden pizza. Daniel (an adamant cauliflower hater) couldn't even guess that the crust contained cauliflower. He guessed that it was cornbread . The interior texture of the crust is a little similar to cornbread, but the outside is nice and crunchy!

I call this a Pinterest victory!

Crust:
1/2 head cauliflower or 2c riced cauliflower
2 large egg
1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese plus 1/2 parmesean cheese
1tsp Italian seasonings
Toppings:
1/2 cup shredded colby/jack cheese
3 slices Canadian bacon
1 small can of pineapple tidbits
1. 'Rice' or shred the cauliflower using a food processor. Pulse until you have tiny particles resembling rice...but don't make puree. Microwave the cauliflower without any added water for 8 minutes, and then let it cool
2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Mix the cauliflower crumbles with the egg, cheeses, and seasonings. 
3. Pat the "crust" into a thin-ish layer on a pizza pan, sprayed with non-stick spray. Spray the crust lightly with nonstick spray and bake for 15 minutes. 


4. Bake until the crust is nice and golden brown.


5.Spread the sauce on top of the baked crust, and add the desired toppings. 
6.. Broil the pizza 3 to 4 minutes, or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted and bubbly. (I'd recommend pre-cooking any veggies that you want cooked through, since the broiling time isn't enough to cook them all the way)


Yum. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

If this isn't reason enough to run in terror from the Easter bunny, then I'm not sure what is...

This is Daniel, age 4ish.  Please take note of the painstainkingly coordinated Mr. T shirt, the awesome striped socks, and the grimace of pain as the bunny is squished by this linebacker of a pre-schooler. All this from a kid who wouldn't let others move the arms of his G.I. Joes, because he didn't want them to loosen and wear out.

You're welcome. I love you, honey.

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sometimes it still hurts.

*This is not intended to be a criticism of others, but rather the thoughts of a former 'Infertile Myrtle.'*

April Fools Day. 
hilarious. 
I love a good prank as much as the rest of you. 

Last year, I called Daniel, whose career is in finance, and told him that we were being audited by the IRS. Chaos ensued. He asked if my dad knew of a good attorney. I laughed my boooty off. He was less amused.

I know it's just the stage of life that most of us are in -- pregnancies being announced left and right. I know that I am overly sensitive about this area -- and that there is no ill intent meant. However, this year there seemed to be an abundance of :

I'M PREGNANT!
just kidding. 
APRIL FOOLS...

Haha. I made you think that there was a little life growing inside of me, that millions upon millions of cells were rapidly dividing and forming a human being in the most mysterious of processes.

But not really. 
I'm just kidding. 
April Fools.

Do you know how many years I longed for your April Fools Day? For one day to be able to announce to my family, friends, and yes, Facebook, that I was pregnant? I fantasized about living within this date, April 1rst-- the lowliest of holidays. I used more pee-sticks than any woman ever should. I didn't see two pink lines for years and years and years. And when I finally did, I almost fell right over. I thought I was hallucinating. 

I know everyone's story is different. I know that you don't think pregnancy is actually a joke. I just want you to understand that even having the ability to joke about conceiving is a blessing. Sometimes I think back and remember when I too had that unadulterated attitude. I laugh when I think of how concerned I was to avoid pregnancy during the first part of our marriage--and the last part of my education. 

It's just not funny to me anymore. Pregnancy was the most sacred of divine interventions in my life. It was the answer to what felt like one-thousand-million prayers, spilled tears, and anguishing nights spent dreaming of the day that there would be a baby in my womb.

You see, when you are struggling with the journey called infertility, life seems to move in slow motion. Every birthday and holiday-- Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day.... is somehow transformed into a reminder of another missed opportunity to share your much anticipated exciting news. You think, 'Maybe this month ?.. It'd be perfect. I'd just tell everyone on ____." 

So, when I saw your joke, I didn't laugh. 
I'm not mad. 
I'm not being judgmental. 
I just have a different perspective -- one that happens to be shared by 7.3 million other women in America.

Lots of love,
Lindsey