A Look Back at October

Given the current climate, I thought it would be appropriate to re-start my monthly gratitude posts. (Also given the fact that October was ever so slightly exhausting for me.)

If you’re new here, welcome! These monthly remembrances are a time to sit down, to reflect on the last month. To see the beautiful hidden in the mess. To see the glory that gets overlooked by exhaustion. I take this time to sit down with my phone (because where else would all my pictures be?), journal, and calendar. And I remember the good and the bad. The hard and emotional days, ย the victorious days, and the regular life days.

Enjoy the look back, friends. And maybe take a few minutes to remember the beauty and grace in your October. (And if it’s hard to find, check out this post about gratitude and how to find it. Because I promise it’s there. Sometimes it’s just hard to see.)


October. Where to start. You were exhausting.

Honestly, there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. We hit a homeschool groove (and honestly, almost felt like old pros). We traveled. We attended a gala (okay, that’s slightly out of the ordinary).ย And we hosted friends. It was a month filled with community and routine. And honestly, it was beautiful.

But there was something about the way it dragged on. The way it grew steadily darker as I woke each morning. …and it was still a busy time for Greg.

At some point, October broke me. I whined. I complained. And then…as I woke up one morning. To the dark (insert thumbs down emoji). But then, the most beautiful sunrise.

I wish a camera (on a phone) could do a sunrise through a window (it was ‘early’ morning, so I wasn’t actually going to go outside)ย justice, because there was simply something amazing about it. Something different. Something special. Like it was meant solely for me.

And it was then that I remembered. It was then that something stirred once more, deep in my soul. And I was truly grateful.

It’s something strange, friends. I had continued to practice daily gratitude. I had continued to spend quiet time (though admittedly shorter with the start of homeschooling). But it always felt forced. Something had changed and I couldn’t get back to where I had been.

But that morning shifted my focus. It moved me back. And that, friends was my October. It was a time of grumbling, complaining even in the midst of blessing and adventure. It was a time of frustration even as life was abounding. And then, it was a time of remembering and seeing God’s glory. A time of remembering relationship. A time of gratitude.

And because we’re friends, here’s some fun pictures of what October actually held for my family and I. Remember, to keep more up to date with us, head to Instagram. Because who can resist posting pictures of our littles and all the crazy that comes along with them?

And there it is. October. As told by pictures: galas, pumpkin experiments, life with dinosaurs, tailgating at University of Illinois, trip to Austin, apple picking (x2), pumpkin carving, and of course trick-or-treating. And to top it all off, a double thumbs down. Because this, friends, is life with boys.

How about you? How was your October? Can you look back on it and recall what was beautiful amidst the hard. I always find it helps my perspective when I take a moment and look back at life.

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What Happens When the Church Aligns With Evil

I watched the election coverage all evening. I kept up to the moment on my phone and television. Not because I was afraid of the news they heralded. But instead, because I find it all fascinating. I have always enjoyed watching election coverage. Seeing where and how people choose to vote. I actually joked with my husband that this is my World Series. But I digress.

Friends, today my heart is saddened. There are astounding and ever growing differences among people. People are split by race, religion, education, employment. And whether Trump or Clinton won, this division would be hard to move past.

However, today we know who will be president. Trump was elected. Though I refuse to live fearful of what this will bring, I do live saddened. Heartbroken for this nation, this country. For this people.


But here’s where I have the most trouble. The ‘church’ won. 

That sounds odd, so please, let me explain. The Christian/Catholic bodies encouraged their people to vote for Trump, for a variety of reasons. These are, by and large, the single issue voters: the anti-abortion votes, the Supreme Court votes, the lesser of two evil votes, the “freedom of religion” votes…and I could go on.

Yes, these are indeed valid ideals, valid opinions to hold to. Yes, these are the makings of voting for or against someone. 

But here’s the thing, the church was given two commands. 

And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’ – Matthew 22:37-38

This means to completely, to wholly love God. It looks like worship. It looks like gratitude. It looks like time in His Word and in prayer. 

And: 

And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39

This means that we love others. We love people even if they are different from us. Even if they hold to different ideals than us. It means we love people even if it brings certain death to us. Because we are called to love. Period.

The Bible is filled with examples, with calls and encouragement to love greatly. To love selflessly. Giving up everything, even unto our very life. But for this, I must share the reminder of 1 John 4:18:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

Because love, love for God + love for others, has nothing to do with fear. And so when we respond out of fear, it has no part in love. 

So dear church, my heart is broken. Somewhere along the way we, including our church leaders, have lost sight of what love means. We have lost sight of the two commandments we were given. Because dear one, if your reason for doing something isn’t: to love God or to love others, you might not need to do it.  
Before we move on, we need to rest in one final reminder. One final definition of what love is.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:7

All things. Even hardships. Even hate. Even loss of freedom. Love bears everything.  

So what does this mean for how we voted? 

Pro-life: Christians rallied against Clinton because of her pro-choice stance. What does it mean to stand for life? Voting for Trump heralded the lives of the unborn. But in exchange, we handed over the lives of minorities. The voiceless. The marginalized. We exchanged one life for another. 

And for what? For safety? For religious freedom? This is not sacrificial love. This is love that keeps us safe first. This is a love that sees us v. them. This is a love that believes in comfort and safety. 

But that isn’t what we are called to. No, instead, we are called to a love that gives everything. Even our very lives. I believe this is a reminder the American church needs today.

Because friends, we were never promised safety, freedom of religion (or any kind), or ease. Instead we were promised difficulty. We were promised pain that would flood our lives. Suffering that would reshape us. Promising to make us more like Christ.

Instead, we are promised that God’s glory would shine forth.
Abundantly. Radiantly. Through every circumstance. 

Supreme Court: Christians voted for Trump to protect the Supreme Court. I understand this heart. I do. But church, we are forgetting who God is. 

We are championing God as sovereign and all powerful. But we forget this truth when we say we voted to save the Court. We are forgetting that God is able to use anyone. We are forgetting the OT leaders, that were used, even when it did not seem like it. (A truth I am clinging to today.) Even when they seemed too evil to be used by God. 

And so, I ask you, the church – can we please stop fighting for God. Can we remember that He goes before us. That He is the One fighting. He has been in all of this since the Old Testament. God has used evil for His glory time and again. He never requested, never needed His people to allow it. 

As we move forward, not just today, not just for the next four years, but for always I implore you. Remember our two commandments: To love God and to love others. I love the verse that follows these commands:

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 22:40

That’s how important they are. On these commandments rest everything

And so friends, because we are the church. Because we are the bride of Christ. Because that means something – I am standing, proclaiming love. 

So instead of rejoicing, join me in mourning. Join me in asking forgiveness from the world. Because this is not okay. 

As the beloved of God, we are to be His hands and feet. Never reacting out of fear for our future. Never reacting from anything other than love for God and love for others. Period. 

Praying today for grace and forgiveness for us all. Praying that the world sees a posture of sorrow from us. As we mourn for the lesser. The unheard. The unseen. As they attempt to reconcile the nation, the people they love.



PS. Yes, it feels like this is coming too late. Like we’ve already chosen where we stand. Like my voice doesn’t matter. But it does. No matter how you voted, our posture today and in the future matters. A lot. So please engage. Love others well. Love those that feel hurt and scared. Serve them. 

(And though I feel it is of no consequence who or how I voted, I have been asked. Because this election more than any other seemed to be an either or situation. But I disagree. More than anything, I am accountable to Go. And so with much prayer and consideration, I chose not to cast a vote for president. No this was not me choosing to sit idly by. Instead it as me actively choosing to not stand with: a man who hates, a woman who stands with partial birth abortions, nor a man whose foreign policy I cannot biblically stand with – because love. Obviously, this is a short hand explanation of where I stand and would be happy to dialogue more. Just ask. Nicely, please.)

Embracing the Noise

I know I have been largely absent from this space. And friends, one day I hope to have the words to share where I’ve been these last few months. 

But for now, I’m moving forward. We’ve been homeschooling, and it say it’s going well would be an understatement. The kids are flourishing, enjoying learning. Our family is growing together and yet each member is learning independence, who they are. It has been beautiful to watch and an honor to be a part of.


But it has also led me away from any quiet I used to have. Even quiet amidst the noise. 

And instead of embracing this new non-quiet, I have been trying to hide away.  Trying to steal moments for myself. 

And while it is certainly necessary to find time for rest – I lost sight of what I am doing. I lost sight of these little ones I am guiding and raising up. 

And I was losing my joy. 

You see, I had forgotten that my joy was not connected to quiet. I have forgotten that my joy was not connected to my plans. Because my joy only comes from the Lord. 

In seeing Him in the very places He calls me. Even when that is a home filled with noise. In serving Him by loving the ones He places before me. Even if they are screaming and unwilling. In walking the path He leads me on. 

And so today, I am choosing to move back to the noisy bar stools of my kitchen counter. To rest. To think. To read the Word.

Because all of this is where I am called to be. And hiding from it will never grow them or myself. 

For who am I to say no to such generous blessing? 

Where do you find yourself today? Are you, like me, trying to run from the noise and the stress…but to no avail? Can I encourage you to embrace the noise. To remember that this is certainly a beautiful thing. One to be thankful for. Even in the midst of those ever trying days. 

When Grace Goes Missing

I’ve been having a difficult time hitting post, lately. Something seems to constantly be missing. 

And if I’m honest, it isn’t only missing from my writing. It’s also been missing from my daily life. 

Worst of all, I’m ashamed to say, I only noticed it today. 

You see, some time ago, grace went missing. 

And it absolutely breaks my heart. Because without grace, I’ve hurt friends I care about. I’ve hurt relationships. And I’ve lived miserably.

And that’s the thing about grace. It mends and heals. And without it, we lay there; hurt and broken. 

Thankfully, the greater thing about grace is it is always available. To me. To you. It has been hard won. It came with a great cost. But now, today, for us all, it’s free! And as I sit, remembering, hoping, I feel that freedom. 

And as I read in Deuteronomy (one of my favorites), I feel released. 

You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward…

And that’s it. It’s done. It’s finished. It’s time for me to turn. To move on from this path. A path that led me to mourning and change. That brought me to hurt and pain. 

But I know what it all creates. And so I hold fast to truth. To the refinement taking place in my heart. To peace. 

And so I will rejoice. 

Thoughts for Today: Freedom in the Word

It’s been months since I’ve last been here. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. 

But I’m not going into that right now. There will come a time to talk about all the changes of these last few months, really of the last 10 months. But I’m still sorting those out. I’m still processing them, what they mean for me. What they mean to me. 

So for today, I’m going to share where I’m at. Right now. Today. 

———-

I find it interesting how quickly feelings change. How fast they ebb and flow. How they evolve into something new, something different. Leaving the old behind. 

…And it all transpires in a moment. 

It cannot help but remind me just how fallible this body is. How weak and frail the flesh truly is. 


It reminds me how easily the enemy can use this frailty to crush us.

The ways he can so quickly, so reliably, make us stand still. Leaving us stagnant. Too wrapped up, too stuck, dwelling on ourselves – to remember our freedom.

The freedom that was costly. 

The freedom that comes from Him. From His death and resurrection. 

Freedom that defeats the flesh. 

Freedom that defeats my sin.

Freedom filled with truth and grace. Filled to overflowing with love. 

And when I remember that freedom, I have the power to move forward. 

To move to His Word. The very Word that spoke nothing into something. 

The Word that is speaking to me, today. Right where I’m at.

The Word that envelopes and nurtures me.

The Word that refines me. The Word that gives me strength. 

The very Word growing me, creating me today. 

The Word that gives me the freedom to write here. The Word that gives me the strength and ability to raise up my littles – to guide and nurture them. The Word that gives me hope and a future. 

And friends, that very Word is for you too. They’re there to envelope you in grace and courage. To bring you peace and life. And if you need help finding where to start, I’ve got your back. 

Road Tripping. With Children

For the last six years, we have traveled to Florida with our children. 

In our van. Driving from Illinois. 

It’s technically a 17.5 hour drive. But for us it takes about 30 hours. It’s great. 


And every year, after we arrive home and have re-entered normal society, we are asked the same questions. (And if this was you, please know that we do not mind the questions. And that you’re not alone in wondering.

How did it go? 

How did you do it? 

Well friends, I’m going to be honest and say – I have no idea. 

But really, there’s more to it than sheer determination and will to survive. We’ve learned a few tips and tricks over the years. And each year we try something a little new. 

And since we’re friends I’m going to share my tips with you. You’re welcome. 

(I actually share a little more detail in this post: I wrote it let year after our annual Florida vacation. Check out that post for a detailed packing list and more tips: https://gracemountaindiaries.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/this-is-how-we-do-it-family-vacation/)

Pro Tip #1: PACK LIGHT Oh my goodness. If you can find a place that has a washer/dryer in unit or laundry nearby snatch.it.up. 

It is so freeing to only have to pack 3 outfits per person. Because each person still needs bathing suit, hat, sunglasses, jacket, pajamas, undergarments, socks, shoes, beach blankets, lovie…and the list goes on seemingly forever. For our family of 6, including diapers and wipes, we fit everything in one duffel bag and a backpack.

I just want all the hallelujah hands for that one. But I digress…

Pro Tip #2: PACK INDIVIDUAL (TOY) BAGS: I use the kids school bags, but use whatever you like. The key is that they can be closed and that each kid can open it by themselves. Your back will thank you. 

I don’t completely fill the backpacks because the little toys will inevitably fall out all over the floor of your minivan. This will inevitably happen during the treacherous mountain driving section of your trip. It will then start raining and thundering. And your children will be screaming and hyperventilating because their sudden new favorite toy had become lost to the abyss. For all time. Also known as when you stop next. 

Anyway, don’t let that be you. Be like me. I fill ziploc bags with themes of toys: Princess toys in one bag, cars in another. I include a bag of stickers, pencils, and crayons. We bring a few books, coloring books, and notebooks. And a few new toys. Because everyone loves surprises. 


Pro Tip #3: PACK SNACKS Obviously. The best part about road trips is the snacks, right? We bring a giant bag of the kids favorite snacks, even the not healthy ones. (Just do not pack snacks that are: sticky, can melt, or make a giant mess.) Because the time for arguing about health is not when you’re trapped in a metal box driving for 30 hours. It’s just not. 

We do try to ration snacks. They mainly stay hidden by a pillow until snack time (Yes, it’s a real time. It happens around 9:30/10. Some call it second breakfast.) and for before lunch when we’re trying to get that last 30 minutes to the rest stop. I include small snack containers, with lids, in the snack bag. This way snacks can be filled and tossed to the back of the van. Easy peasy. 

Oh and never ever give your kids free access to water. We keep them by us, hidden on the floor and hand them out for sips, as needed.

Pro Tip #4: PACK SEPARATE BAGS TO GRAB ‘N GO: Pack separate bags for every need. So we have a cooler and one bag specifically for rest stop lunches. It holds our (my kids) favorites: Nutella, bread, and fruit snacks. It also holds necessities: water bottles, paper towels, wipes, paper plates and plastic silverware (all kinds – because you never know what makes it in the cooler from the fridge). 

We also have a separate bag for the overnight stop. It has everyone’s pajamas, undergarments, diapers, wipes, toiletries, and a change of clothes. 

Pro Tip #5: KEEP CHANGE OF CLOTHES EASY TO REACH Always, always keep diapers, wipes, a change of pants, and underwear in the pockets of the car seats for those just in case moments. You never know when they’ll happen and it’s best to be prepared instead of being the people unpacking your entire car searching for one change of clothes. Seriously. 

Pro Tip #6: BLANKETS Strange, I know, but stick with new. Bring blankets and lovies. Leave one easily accessible by each seat. That way when it should be nap time or bed time, you can declare it. You tell everyone to grab their blankets and toy and go to sleep. We turn the radio to the front speakers and ignore any sounds coming from the back of the car. I promise, they’ll fall asleep and you get a few more hours of driving in.  

And that’s it. We don’t stop a lot on drives that are destination drives (like Florida). We don’t do a lot of screen times either. Instead we talk to the kids about where we are, where we’re going next, and let them be. They’re kids and they’ll find weird things to do while you’re driving. I promise. 


What are your favorite road trip tips? I’d love to hear them – leave them in the comments!

On Your Last Day of Kindergarten

Today was a beautiful day. I enjoyed time laughing and gardening. Walking and playing with my daughter. My sweet ‘Goose.’ 

And all of a sudden it hit me. This is the end of half day school. Of these quiet moments. Moments that seem stolen away from the ever present ticking of time.


Moments filled with hugs and little girl giggles. Of snuck in ‘girl time’ in a house filled with boys. Moments filled with words and stories. Moments brimming over with love. 

Moments where our dreams come true with our eyes open. 

… A phrase I learned today from my six year old. As I pulled her along in our little red wagon. She imagined herself as a princess (because she is…in all the good ways.) being carried along in her royal carriage. Dreaming with her eyes open. 

Yet I cannot mourn the changes. Because we’ve had all of this. Dreams in the here and now. Dreams with our eyes open. We’ve had this time of wonder and hugs. 

And it isn’t leaving. But it is changing. 

She will spend ‘girl time’ with her friends. Giggling at boys. Her reading audience will include more than teddy bears and me. She will grow and change.

And she will flourish. 

She will begin to share her giftings with those blessed to be around her. She will share her kindness and compassion.  Her strength and gentleness. Her intelligence and persistence. 

And I get to watch. Encouraging her. Reminding her of truth. That she is brave and strong. Created with a purpose. Made with a spirit of courage and strength. 

Praying that her dreams come true while her eyes are open.