My Sweet Home: A Wee Little Rocker

We had a little rocking chair when I was a little girl that I loved to sit in. It was wooden, and, true to the time, had an impossibly loud, orange, floral upholstered seat and back cushion.

The 80′s were awesome, weren’t they?

Case in point: my rocking chair. My outfit. My Mom’s rad couch design. Babies reading TV guide (???)…

And see how much fun I’m having in my chair??

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I outgrew the chair (probably about a month later, judging by my toddler thickness), and it eventually made its way to my parents’ garage where it gathered dust and cobwebs and a nice bit of weathering over the last couple of decades.

And then I kind of forgot about it.

And so imagine my surprise this Christmas when my Mom brought in an unexpected gift for my youngest daughter, Betsie…

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My little rocking chair, scrubbed clean, sanded, restained, and beautifully reupholstered.

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I couldn’t believe it!

One of the most beloved young ladies in my life, Leslie (of Benjamin Grey Photography fame), had been hired to do all the handiwork, which makes this chair even more special to me.

I love the details. The trim on the pillow…

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the dotted swiss fabric and the pretty satin ribbon…

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and my favorite part, a crocheted table runner that we used at our wedding reception, repurposed in the sweetest of ways…

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You guys know how I love pint-sized furniture, and I think it is important to have plenty of places in our home for our little ones to find rest and comfort.

And let’s face it, everytime we take something from the 80′s and reupholster it, we have done the world a huge favor…

The June Bride Rejoices

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I didn’t realize it until this past week, but it sometimes causes me great trepidation that what I share here at Mrs. Gore’s Diary will cause a reader, perhaps walking through suffering or experiencing a life very different than mine, to experience discontentment or frustration with their own life…

And my trepidation is so great that I often hold back for fear of wounding a soul in distress who happens upon my words.

Will the single woman be saddened by my glowing endorsement of marriage?

Will the childless woman feel pain when I describe the more glorious aspects of motherhood?

Will someone mistake my blessings as luck, or worse, God being nicer to me than He is to them?

It pains me to even think of it.

And as a result, I sometimes filter my happiest moments, for fear of adding to the potential hardships of my sisters in the faith.

But the thought came upon me this past week that, while my heart is pure in those thoughts, I might be doing a disservice to the path God has set my feet upon and that, in a world that is ever attacking the family, and marriage, and motherhood, and femininity, I should speak more honestly and comprehensively about my life, even on my very best days. As much as I strive to remain transparent in my struggles as a wife and mother, so I should strive to remain transparent in my joys and triumphs.

If I am going to consider honesty one of the most important aspects of my writing, then…I must be honest through and through, yes?

It was good – or more likely, supernatural – timing, for my heart is extremely full tonight, and for good reason…

Mr. Gore.

Our days with little ones are hectic. Distracting. Busy.

During our courtship, we had little more to do than see every movie that was released and work really hard at not fornicating. But these days…well, we’re wiping kids and looking for missing shoes and strapping babies and toddlers into carseats and peeling and slicing apples and running up and down and up and down and up and down the stairs and breaking up fights and, basically, working around the clock, not only to keep our 3 little ones alive and healthy, but to train them in the fear and knowledge of God and to lead them in the ways of Christ.

Exhausting.

Bringing up children is without a doubt the hardest work I have ever done, and Mr. Gore is right there alongside me, working as hard as I am.

Therefore, on most nights, after finally tucking our ragamuffins into bed, we quite literally collapse into two separate heaps in the living room, me on our old antique settee (with springs that poke me in the bottom), him in our favorite leather chair, and, aided by our favorite sitcom of the moment, we allow ourselves to just relax and melt into the deliciously quiet evening.

And it just happens. The days are so full and the nights become so habitual that…sometimes I forget to think about him.

Oh, I kiss him goodbye and I welcome him home and I laugh at his jokes and I work by his side and I cuddle up next to him at night, but somehow, in the midst of living, I can fail to ponder and relish the gift of…him.

But the other night, I had this dream. I was contractually bound to another man in an old-fashioned betrothal, but I was madly in love with Mr. Gore. And he was in love with me. Separated from him in my dream, and intent on being with him forever, my heart – the real one, not the dream one – must have quickened within me, and as I continued to sleep and eventually view our happy and triumphant ending, my eyes were miraculously pulled out of the fog of our daily routine, and I woke up with an incredibly happy heart, one that was focused and fixated on this man who has stood faithfully beside me through nearly 8 years of marriage.

I woke up in love.

And my, it felt so good to go about my regular duties with a lovesong in my heart, one that saw beyond the work I was doing and was intentionally and singularly focused on one of the greatest gifts God has given me.

My husband.

My partner.

My best friend.

He knows more about the ugliest parts of my heart than anyone else on the planet, and he loves me anyway. He has seen me at my most raw and vulnerable and he doesn’t scorn me the next day. He has heard my grittiest confessions, and he freely forgives, every time.

And, though human and as prone to failure as the rest of us, he strives to love me as Christ loves the church.

And that is my favorite part of our love story, and one that I am now committed to proclaiming, not that we’ve stumbled into some kind of Disney-prince-and-princess-happily-ever-after, but that our faithfulness to one another and our enjoyment of our married state points to something far more beautiful than the fleeting and emotional love that this world seeks so doggedly after and always fails to find…

it points to something higher. Something truer. And something very, very lovely.

Redemption.

Salvation.

Sanctification.

Grace.

Because, without the grace of God, and built on anything other than the truth of Scripture, our marriage would be nothing more than a roll of the dice, hinging on how we woke up feeling that day and whether or not we had a good dream during the night.

It is that great grace, undeservedly given, that enables us to choose to love each other. For life.

I don’t know about you, but I think that makes the story of Aladdin and Jasmine seem kind of lame in comparison. Magic carpet ride…meh.

That lovesong in my heart only continues to increase as our 8th wedding anniversary draws nigh.

A couple of days ago, I watched my favorite movie with my kids, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and the “June Bride” song that our entire wedding was built around brought back so many cherished memories that I was practically a puddle of sentimentality by the time the movie was over.

And so if you don’t mind, I’d like to revisit some of those memories here in the weeks to come.

Not to make you gag.

Not to make you pine.

Not to make it seem like my life is all sunshine and flowers and roses…

but to recount how faithful God has been to two people who were conceived in sin and came into this world hating the Light.

Let us all start cherishing and celebrating our marriages, not because we are “lucky in love”, but because they can be one of the most beautiful tools used to point a dying world to a very living Savior.

Especially those of us who married in June…

My Sweet Home (Prequel #1)

I’ve wanted to do something here at my blog for the longest time, but until now, I didn’t really feel free to do so…

mostly because of the state of my heart.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have bratty tendencies, and it is no secret that I love compliments and feeling important. I used to think this was just “how I was” and I even kind of cherished that part of me and thought it was cute…

but once I became aware that this inherent nature of mine was rooted in sinfulness and pride, it didn’t feel so cute anymore.

Mind you, this was not always my motivation for doing what I did and wearing what I wore and buying what I bought. Even on my least bratty and most humble days, I have always loved beautiful things, and I love fine fabrics and I identify with Betsie Ten Boom, in that, if I were to find myself in a prison camp, I would do whatever it took to decorate my cell. I see no problem with this shade of my personality, and actually see it as a gift from God; that said (and this is where what could be beautiful can turn ugly)…

I can sometimes feel myself veering off course and caring more about receiving accolades than glorifying my Maker. You know…my chief end. The reason I’m here. What I was created for.

God has had mercy on my sinful state, however, and over the last decade, He has continually tweaked me into a person who at least hates that side of myself rather than revels in it, and more and more, I try to put a lid on the brat in me and lock her up inside my coat closet where no one can see or hear her.

Especially when it comes to this blog. It is so important to me that what I share here is genuine and I take extremely seriously my responsibility to the younger women in my church, my readership, and eventually my children (who will be forced to read Mrs. Gore’s Diary for their 12th year of homeschool), and I therefore doggedly strive to keep my motivations for writing and sharing pure and honest and, most importantly, God-honoring. Thus, if I feel like I’m sharing party pictures to be a show-off rather than a help to other party-planners, I shut that post down, as quickly as I do the ones where I find myself ranting or spewing bitterness about past struggles. And if I don’t, my husband (who graciously edits everything I write) does. (Thanks, Mr. Gore!)

Alllllll that to say, I haven’t felt 100% free until now to share, from a pure and happy and non-show-offy heart, aspects of our home life that might inspire other homemakers.

Why? Well…I’m 31 now, and I haven’t changed my razor in like, 8 months. My house is most usually a wreck and I have finally come to grips with who I truly am and what I was truly created for. In other words, I’m content right now where I am, and have lost most of my former self-absorbed aspirations to BE somebody and to make it to some unforeseen tier of importance and acceptance.

I am happy at home, and I’m happy to be Mrs. Gore, whether thousands of people ever recognize my name or not.

From this place of genuine motivation, I find myself making a living place for my family rather than for the editors of Country Living magazine, and as a result, I think what I have to share will be much more important than it ever could have been when I was trying to make much ado out of Mrs. Gore.

And allllll that to say, there will be a new tab in my blog called “My Sweet Home” where I will share ideas and tips and photographs of how I try to make the house we live in a place of retreat and rest and comfort. It will be positively random, but if it helps especially my younger audience, just starting out in this world with a tiny budget to work with and with no idea how to keep a house, I will be too, too happy.

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Coming up tomorrow, I’ll share why I call this series “My Sweet Home”. Is it because my home is “sweet” and beautiful?…probably not. Stay tuned!!

Bathed in the Gospel

encouragement for Christian mothers: "The world can very much disparage and downplay the calling of motherhood, and sometimes I am the first one to listen, forgetting that this full-time job I have of caring for children who would be helpless without me is kind of huge, and that, while I may not be changing the world as I prepare their breakfast…  I have at least changed theirs."

The way she lifted her legs in perpendicular fashion as I lifted her out of the bathtub let me know that the way we do bathtime has become routine to her…

Laying a clean, full-sized towel completely out across the bathmat, I always set her down “just so” on her bottom before pulling the back part of the towel up to her neck and then wrapping the rest of it over her shoulders and around her arms. I finish up by swaddling her little legs, feet, and toes, patting her dry as I go.

Once she looks like a little terrycloth burrito, I grasp her by her towel-covered arms, and, lifting her up into my left arm and perching her on my hip, I hold her legs in a sitting position with my right arm.

We go straight to the bathroom vanity where she says “Hi, baby!” to her reflection in the mirror, her hair a riot of wet, dripping curls, her smile exuberant, her skin glowing with health and cleanliness. I then carry her into my bedroom where a laundered set of clothes awaits her on the bed next to a new diaper, Johnson’s baby lotion, and a brush.

This is our routine, and we could both probably perform it with our eyes closed.

She is used to being bathed, my little one, having the yogurt washed out of her hair, the dirt washed out of her fingernails, the living washed out of her day…

She is used to being wrapped up and dried, cuddled and loved, lotioned and combed, diapered and groomed.

She is used to being dressed in fresh, clean clothes.

Just like she is used to raising her legs just right to land on her towel.

And I realized as I dried her today that, what might feel like routine to me…or even sometimes drudgery, if I’m being honest…says something monumental about her life, as well as my role as her mother…

and that, while bathtime is such a common ritual for us that she knows how to hold her body when she emerges from the tub, the very essence of our routine says something.

Something big. Something important. Something eternal.

Because her simplest routines contrast so deeply with those of children all over this fallen world. They have routines, too…

Rocking themselves to sleep at night in orphanages with too many babies and not enough workers.

Hiding food in their highchairs to make sure there will be enough for their next meal.

Moving from foster home to foster home, different bed, different rituals, different guardians.

Pulling dirty and wrinkled clothes out of a pile before dressing themselves and going to school.

Eating whatever they can dig up in the pantry or whatever someone will give them for free.

Getting on a church van to attend worship and learning about who made them from strangers rather than family.

Bearing their own fears and burdens with no one to talk to, no one to comfort them, no one to guide them.

And it should never be lost on me that, in many ways, one of the simplest and most obvious differences between those children and my little girl who sticks her legs up when I lift her out of the bathtub is…me.

The world can very much disparage and downplay the calling of motherhood, and sometimes I am the first one to listen, forgetting that this full-time job I have of caring for children who would be helpless without me is kind of huge, and that, while I may not be changing the world as I prepare their breakfast…

I have at least changed theirs.

When my children are clean, it is because I’ve bathed them. When they are full, it is because I have fed them. When they sing a song from memory, it is because I have sang to them so often that the words have imprinted themselves on their brains. When they are wearing  clean and pressed clothes, it is because I have washed and ironed them. And when they learn how to walk those ancient paths of truth, it will hopefully be because, aided by the Spirit and covered by grace, they are following behind me and their Papa.

The things I do as a mother all day, every day, might be simple gestures…

making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…

singing hymn after hymn until they fall asleep…

telling them who made the flowers and the rocks and the trees and the sky…

reading them a story…

cleaning up their vomit…

buying them healthy food at the grocery store…

bandaging the tiny cut that made them cry…

taking the time to really listen to them while they talk…

getting the stains out of their clothes…

but they are gospel gestures.

And it hit me with beautiful and convicting clarity today that any amount of passion I have for the sanctity of human life, any compassion I feel for the orphaned or the abused or the hurting, any desire I will ever have to bring the good news to a lost and dying world…

well, it starts here.

At bedtime.

At breakfast, lunch and supper time.

At reading time.

At bathtime.

At home.

And while it may not always feel like I’m doing anything really important in the world and while there are days that I entertain the notion that my life is pretty mundane and that my college degree was a huge waste of time and money, I need to periodically remind myself that I’m doing something pretty big.

And so are you…

Remember that the next time you pull your baby out of the bath and she knows what to do with her legs.

Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party – The Prequel

Warning: the following post might give you a startling glimpse inside the sickness that is in my head, and I hope you still love me after you read it. I am kind of a weirdo about birthday parties. Not yours – I never judge a party we attend, and am just happy to have free cake – but ours. It is how I show love and is one of the most utmost expressions of my heart toward my kids. We’ve all learned to deal with it, but I do always worry that my potential over-the-topness in this one area will discourage others who don’t “do” parties…

Therefore, it would make me so happy if you would read this post before continuing on. Thanks a million!

~

Oh boy…

I always think the party we just had was my favorite party ever…

until the next one.

And so I can safely say, a couple weeks past my son’s 6th birthday, that his World War II-inspired “army” or “war” party was my favorite party ever.

And I really mean it this time. For reals.

(I think).

It doesn’t even matter that the planning stages for this party were a little different than normal…

Usually, the day after Christmas is over, I start involuntarily daydreaming about his March birthday party. I can’t help it. I love birthdays!!! Love them. It’s what I do, yo.

Therefore, I usually have two really good months to get a handle on what we’ll be doing and to start finding ideas and recipes and so on and so forth.

This year, however, I was unknowingly pregnant on the day after Christmas, and the month of January and most of February became a black hole on the calendar. I know I was alive, and I know we continued to do stuff like go to church and I think I brushed my teeth a couple of times, but…that’s about all I remember. ‘Twas the worst first trimester I’ve ever endured.

And once I emerged from this twilight zone of sorts, I had other important things to do, like pluck my giant, untamed eyebrow, and make food for my family (they were almost emaciated), and so, really, Gid’s birthday party had been pushed to the furthest back burner on the stove…you know, the one no one ever wants to use with leftover oats and and dried-up rice and the singed bits of paper from the tea bag…

(apparently, no one ever wants to clean that burner, either)…

Thankfully, we had at least settled on a theme earlier in the year, although even that took a little work this time, mostly because I made the mistake of asking my son what kind of party he wanted. Silly me.

“Ummmm…a Batman party!” he exclaimed.

“Well, Gid…we don’t really do parties like that…” I hedged, turning my nose up at the thought of all those paper party decorations I would probably have to buy – and then throw away – from Oriental Trading Company. If I’m going to buy party supplies I want to be able to use them again and again.

“How about a superhero party?” he asked.

“Well…Anna had a superhero party last year…” I said. I didn’t mind the idea of having the same theme as my niece, but Amy and I had already been there and done that, feverishly sewing capes and eyemasks in a Sunday School room at the church 24 hours before the party. I wanted to do something different.

“How about…a knight party?!” he said.

“Hmmm…a knight party…” I replied, as my mind started quickly cataloging all the things we could do with that. Lords and ladies. Big turkey legs for everyone to eat. Kid jousting?…

“We could maybe do that…” I said, the idea sort of intriguing me. But it wasn’t really hitting me in the heart like our birthday parties normally do. It wasn’t quite right…

and then I had a brain lightbulb, the really bright kind that turns my eyes all buggy and psychotic.

“How about a war party?!” I exclaimed. “We could have a REAL war with two teams, and you can wear camouflage and you can hide in the woods at Granddaddy and Grandmother’s house…

his face lit up, even more than my brain lightbulb, and I knew. This was our party. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

And right then and there, I determined that this would be our first full-out BOY party for my son since, you know, he is really and truly entering the realm of boyhood. No frills. No cutesy. No baby stuff. Just fun awesomeness for Gideon, in the hopes that he would feel like he was in paradise on the day of his birth.

But then I fell into that first trimester abyss I just told you about.

And when I came to in late February and realized that we only had a few weeks left until his party was here, I started that silly daydreaming process I usually start on December 26th.

And in the course of one of those daydreams, I accidentally injected some Mrs.-Gore-weirdness into his perfectly normal little-boy “war” party and turned it all vintage and whimsical, and before I knew it, his laid-back camo-heavy party had turned into a World War II-inspired affair, complete with a Red Cross station, a Mess Hall, a playlist full of nostalgic soldier songs, and lots of googling…

“What did soldiers eat during World War II?”…

“Vintage army recruiting posters”…

“Military songs from World War II”….

“Vintage mess hall plates”…

And I began to be truly grateful that I didn’t have much time to plan this party, because it became very obvious to me that I could have gone wayyyyy overboard with this one. I love me some 1940′s, and, if I had had my typical 2 1/2 months to plan this party, I am almost positive I would have had veterans from each of the armed forces there, and possibly a USO stage where I would have crooned song after song to the horror and embarrassment of my immediate family, especially my brothers.

As it was, thank God, we did a lot of “making do”, substituting the tin mess hall plates I found at Etsy with disposable cake pans from Wal-Mart, forgoing all the awesome WWII posters I could have purchased (again, at Etsy) by finding, printing, and matting free images online, and using our trusty ol’ Martinelli apple juice bottles for drinks rather than buying the canteens or enamel mugs I was dreaming off.

That first trimester saved us a LOT of money.

And when you are a collector of old things, and you have friends who are also collectors of old things, it is absolutely crazy how quickly you can throw a party together full of…old things.

That’s right, I’m talking about authentic WWII helmets, ammo boxes, and…wait for it…COTS that belonged to actual soldiers during the actual war (I think). I’m still over-the-moon about it, and I am so grateful, as always, to my friends and family for so generously pitching in and lending their hard work, their generosity, and mostly, their understanding; that I am surrounded by people who “get” me and love me, nonetheless, seriously humbles me to the core.

ALLLL that to say, I am pretty excited to share with you (if I haven’t already lost you with this blog post), in a 3-part series, Gideon’s “War” Birthday Party.

Here’s a sneak peek…

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Part 1…coming up tomorrow!!

My Night with the Emporer

I’m going through this year’s pictures and came across a funny story I forgot to tell you…

~

It was past 1:00 a.m. and I was sitting up late in bed, reading what I am sure was the latest ground-breaking historical Christian fiction book on the market, when I heard Baby Betsie crying. My gracious husband – who, unlike me, does NOT sleep like a giant, inanimate boulder from the Rocky Mountains – usually handles the middle-of-the-night stuff, and so I was happy to hop up and handle this situation for him while he slept.

I ran up the stairs and tiptoed through our large, dark nursery, and, arriving at Betsie’s crib, gave her her pacifier and was covering her back up when I heard a sound behind me.

Turning around, I couldn’t believe what I saw…

I blinked.

I squinted.

I blinked three more times.

Yes, this was really happening…

A robed figure, unaware that I was in the room, was rising from the twin bed by the window. Standing up next to his bed, he pulled his hood up over his head, and bending down, quietly retrieved his lightsaber from the floor beside him. Standing back up, lightsaber held high, he shuffled noiselessly out of the room.

And I, snapping out of my open-mouthed, fascinated gaze, took off like a flash of lightning, and, running past him, fled down the stairs and to the office to retrieve my camera. By the time I made it back to the stairs, he was sitting there near the bottom, apparently waiting for me.

“Can I take your picture?” I whispered, in the dark.

He nodded, keeping his head down.

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Then he stood up…

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and shuffled into our bed, where we all spent the rest of the night snuggled close together, him, me, his Papa, and his lightsaber.

It was the first time I’ve ever slept with Emperor Palpatine…or anyone from Star Wars, for that matter.

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It wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be.

But one thing is sure. If it weren’t for these pictures, I would be certain this had all been a dream…

Holy Week (3).

On Easter Sunday morning, our church congregated a bit early to share breakfast together, forgoing our regular Sunday School classes for one joint class following our potluck meal.

Brother Ralph, our retried missionary from Tanzania, led us in study, and opened the class with a question: “Would anyone like to share a memorable Easter?”

A few shared funny stories, and sweet memories of years gone by, and then Ralph told us what Easter had been like in Tanzania…

It was the biggest holiday of the year, he said, and the celebration lasted for FOUR days.

“Wow…” I thought to myself, “four days! That would be amazing…”

But then I started doing a little mental calculating, and realized that WE had spent four days celebrating Easter this year, and I had to thank God on the spot for working in us, even when we aren’t being intentionally…well, intentional.

Because, Easter, in the past 3 years alone, has been transformed into one of the most substantive weeks of our year, and I kid you not when I confess that I had little to do with it. We’ve just kind of naturally followed the Spirit’s leading, and the result has been eye-opening and all kinds of wonderful, to say the least. I love that about the Spirit of God, condescending to work in you when you never would have changed a thing in the first place!

And so, very quickly and with few words (and lots of pictures), I thought I would share how our 4-day celebration is starting to look. I do so mostly for those of you just starting out in this whole family living stuff, in the hopes that you will glean inspiration for shaping your traditions sooner rather than later…

but with the following disclaimer: I am in no way an expert and none of my parenting endeavors have been proven successful – my oldest child is 6! My kids are mostly still heathens, I am still learning to fall out of love with materialism, and I have no reason to believe that in the next 3 years, our Easter “traditions” will not change as much as they have in these past 3 years. For all I know, in 2016, we will no longer be doing any of the things we are doing now!

But this is where God has us now, and this is working for us now, and we are so pleased with it. For now.

Now…let’s get started.

{Oh, and up there when I said I would do this very quickly and with few words? I changed my mind. I can’t do anything on the blogosphere with few words…but then, you already knew that, didn’t you?}

Day 1: As I’ve shared in the past, to commemorate Good Friday, we all dress in black and spend the day together, cooking, reading, playing, singing hymns…it is a solemn and sweet day, and to try to express the joint gravity and joy of this holy day to our very young children, I had them take a happy picture (Gideon was supposed to be smiling!)…

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and a sad picture…

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Miss Sunday took hers a little far, though, and wept and mourned…

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but…you get the point. We rejoice in the sacrifice that was made on our behalf! But we cry over our sin and that we would choose death and destruction everytime without the work of Christ.

And to further instill these truths into my children’s hearts, I put away all their toys and only allowed them to play with the bones of dead animals.

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Just kidding. That just happened, and I thought it was funny and ironic so I took a picture. All the toys are still on the porch.

And we don’t usually play with skulls.

Just sometimes.

Moooo-ving on, that night, we met with our church family for a Good Friday service and communion. Rebekah so longingly gazed at “the Lord’s feast” (as she has dubbed it) and said “why is it taking me so long to grow up?! Can I take the Lord’s feast when I am 26?!” To which Gideon replied, “You can’t take the feast until your heart’s fixed! Your heart’s not fixed.” To which Rebekah cried and cried.

(This story was topped by Amy’s, whose 3-year old daughter, Kate, yelled out during their Good Friday service, “I want to drink Jesus’ blood!!”)

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We followed this service by a churchwide meal at our friends Zac and Chrissy’s house. What a sweet, sweet night, enjoying the bounty of brotherhood and fellowship on the day our sin was atoned for.

Day 2: The next day  (Saturday) was spent making Hot Cross buns and, after naptime, the children made “good news” pictures saying “Jesus is alive!” Once everything was finished, we strolled down our street and delivered the buns and pictures to our neighbors. This sort of just happened at the last minute, but it will definitely be something we do every year now.

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When we came home, we sat in the living room floor and ate as many Hot Cross buns as our tummies could hold and read the Easter story together before singing some of our favorite hymns. This was one of the best days I’ve ever spent with my little family. I had been wondering what to do on this empty day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and God so graciously took care of that for me, in a sweet and simple way that just bowled me over.

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Day 3: Like I mentioned earlier, the next morning – HAPPY EASTER! – we met with our church family for a potluck breakfast, followed by a group Sunday School class, followed by worship. I’m speechless when it comes to this morning spent with this group of people I would have little in common with were it not for the blood of Jesus that binds us together…for eternity! Because of Him, we can be one, and we can point the world around us to the cross by our love for one another. That’s too beautiful, don’t you think?

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After that, we went to an amazing Easter picnic and egg hunt at my Mama’s house (I will share more on this in the future) where we spent the day with family and friends, enjoying love, delicious food, our freedom, our hope, and some truly beautiful Spring weather…

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This picture that I snapped of Rebekah on our egg hunt in the woods says it all…she was just sitting there by a tree with a happy little smile on her face. My heart felt exactly the same way.

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oh, and we finally colored some eggs, just for fun!

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Day 4: And the next morning (Monday), we finished up our week with a “Life Abundant” party. This party is my way of utilizing those fun Easter traditions I grew up with, but in a way that doesn’t interfere with our Holy Week observations, rather, that works with them fluidly and comprehensively.

It was a really fun morning with our children, eating a special breakfast as a family, giving them Spring gifts and candy, reading Spring and Easter books, and hunting eggs in our backyard. And it’s funny…I’ve struggled over how to  fit “the Easter Bunny” (a truly special old friend of mine) into our celebration…but guess what? He didn’t even come up in our conversation this year. The baskets were set out, just like normal, but the kids rightly assumed they were from us. And, in accordance with all we told our kids that week, we shared with them that the purpose of this party was to celebrate our new life, and that Jesus truly is ALIVE! We also told them that, just because we follow Jesus, doesn’t mean life will always be easy and that we will get “stuff” like Easter baskets full of candy…but that if we do receive any blessings, they are from Him, and that we are free to celebrate and enjoy life as a family because of what He did on the cross. This was a day of rejoicing. Of living. Of enjoying life and life abundant.

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As an adult, it has bugged me that I always gave Christmas all of my time and thought and, by my actions, made it out to be so much more awesome and important than Easter, but, by the grace of God, that is beginning to change for us, and Easter is becoming the crowning week of our year.

God is truly good.

Easter is the BEST.

Oh…and Jesus IS alive!

~

Do you have any traditions to share with our expectant mothers, young families, or anyone looking to make their Easter more meaningful? Even if you have shared over at the facebook page, please share again. We’d all love to hear from you!

A Letter To My Children (to read in the year 2030)

Dear children…

Did you know that before you were born all I thought about was myself and my beautiful hair, but after you were born I would have shaved my head if you needed me to?

Did you know that when you asked me questions and I answered them, I usually had no idea what I was talking about?

Did you know that when I made you eat your green beans against your will and seemed mean and strict and unfeeling, I was just desperate for your body to get any amount of nutrients because you hadn’t eaten a vegetable in 8 days?

Did you know that, even though I was your Mama, I was afraid of the dark, too? And tornadoes. And scorpions. And…lots of stuff, really. But I tried to be brave for you.

Did you know that a very large piece of my heart sits on top of your head and walks around with you wherever you go? Even in this grand year of 2030?

Did you know that I liked to watch you when you didn’t know I was looking and study every curve and line of your face, sometimes while you were sleeping, sometimes while you were watching TV, sometimes when you were coloring? The Bible is right. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. I know it full well.

Did you know that I kissed your clothes as I folded them? (when I wasn’t cursing the laundry…)

Did you know I always cried when I put your outgrown clothes in the attic? Every time.

Did you  know I always cried the night before your birthday? Every year.

Did you know that I really didn’t care if you played sports or knew lots of poems or had the longest eyelashes…I just loved you and my favorite thing about you was that you were mine. You didn’t have to do anything to earn my love. It was your birthright, from Day 1.

Did you know that it made me pray and sometimes cry when you didn’t get along because I didn’t want you to waste precious years being selfish when you could be happier being nice?

Did you know that when I was grouchy with you I always felt conflicted on the inside? I couldn’t be happy in my grouchiness against you…it didn’t sit right with me, and so I worked really hard to get over it and enjoy you.

Did you know that I often prayed that you would never become a ventriloquist? But mostly, I prayed that you would follow hard after God, that you would love Him more than I did, and that you would sin less than I did. And that you would never be a ventriloquist. I feel like this cannot be said enough.

Did you know that I rarely let you walk by me without at least trying to reach out and pull you into my lap? I lived for the times you consented and breathed in your scent and covered your hair with kisses as long as you would let me.

Did you know that I don’t know how I’m going to survive having you grow up? Seriously. If you go to college or get married and leave me, I’ll probably be dead by the time you read this.

Did you know that, in caring for you, I have found more fulfillment than I ever thought possible? Diamonds and fame and wealth are nothing with you under my wings. Nothing.

Did you have any idea that, when I said silly things like “I love you to the moon and back and all the way to heaven” that words were actually failing me? Words don’t exist when it comes to my love for you.

Did you know that God has used you to help me grow? I have never needed Him more or prayed to Him more or praised Him more or thanked Him more or confessed my failings more. He knew I needed you in order to know Him better.

Did you ever stop to consider how many times you got poop on my hand? Too many times to count. Just thought you should know.

Did you know that, when I lectured you and made long speeches about your behavior, I was kind of making it up as I went along and sometimes I thought I sounded ridiculous but had to keep going so you would think I was scary? It was all an act. I was just trying to sound like a Mom.

Did you also know that everytime I lectured you, I felt like such a hypocrite, because everything you did on the outside was something I still struggled with on the inside?

Did you know that, even though you were tiny and young, you ministered to me so many times, and that when my heart was sad, your sweet hugs and your childish ways lifted me up?

And did you know that you made me feel like the most beautiful and talented and beloved woman in the world? When I made your eyes light up, I felt like a success. And you made me feel like a success almost every day.

I just wanted to say thank you, for all of it.

I love you forever,

Mama

~

To my beloved readers, if there are any ventriloquists in the house, my apologies. I meant no offense. But I’m glad you’re not my kid. Your puppets scare me.

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a mother's love for her children

How Boys Play in the Snow…How Girls Play in the Snow

I don’t want to get in trouble for making generalizations, but I couldn’t help but notice something as I went through all of our snow pictures yesterday…

I’ll just mostly let the pictures do the talking.

~

How Boys Play in the Snow

Make  a Snowman…

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then tackle it.

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OR make a Snowman…

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then eat it.

(I don’t understand. It’s so…dirty! Boys are weird!!).

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Snowballs fights are fun…

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and the bigger the snowball, the better!!

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When you run out of things to do, I don’t know…you could roll up a big snow-wheel…

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and then you could, like, put it on top of each other.

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and long after everyone else has gone inside, it’s still fun to just hang out in your Winter Wonderland…

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eatin’ dirty snow and enjoyin’ the great outdoors.

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~

How Girls Play in the Snow

Make a pristine and beautiful snowwoman and give her matching accessories…

(these are my beautiful nieces, Anna and Abigail! Love you, girls!!)

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Or make heavenly snow angels with your sisters.

(and that’s little Kate there on the left. Love you, Katerbelle!)

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Or pretend that you are a snow ballerina, dancing and twirling on the ice.

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You get so excited to have a snowball fight with your brother…

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until you (immediately) get hit in the face.

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Snowball fight over.

(we have ALL been here, have we not, ladies?)

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In fact, snow play over. Get me a blanket. I’m done.

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And when all else fails and you have fully realized how miserably cold and wet it is outside…

(I know I used this photo yesterday, but I think it deserves to be seen over and over again).

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Go inside where it is warm and read a book by the fire.

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~

But thankfully, whether you’re a boy or a girl, and whether you play like a weirdo or a perfectly normal person, at the end of the day, when the snowball fights are over, and the tears are forgotten (and the dirty snow has somehow been digested), I’m glad we can all agree on on thing…

Hot Chocolate.

Heavy on the marshmallows.

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Life is Nuts. Snow is Pretty.

Two weeks ago, I was terrified in the walk-in clinic waiting room.

One week ago, I thought I was dying from first trimester misery.

Three days ago, I felt like a new woman when I joined once more with my church family.

Yesterday, I had my second unexpected wave of internet “fame” this year after one of my favorite authors, Jen Hatmaker, shared my social media etiquette post and my site stats immediately exploded.

Last night, I didn’t need to wear a coat it was so nice.

And this morning, I woke up to…

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That’s a picture of my backyard from my bedroom window.

All that to say, life is absolutely nuts, and you just never know what a day is going to bring.

But as we have observed together over the past two years on this blog, no matter what a day brings, and no matter what you’re going through, there is a level of beauty and abundance when life is lived according to the Word of God and when you are covered by the blood and grace of Jesus Christ.

Especially on snow days.

Miss Sunday and I woke up slowly this morning after one of the craziest nights of sleep our family has ever endured experienced. After hearing her bare feet patter out of my room (Miss Sunday does not pitter) and into the completely windowed laundry room, I heard her gasp.

“Mom!” she reverently breathed. “It’s snowing!!”

I let this knowledge sink into my very fuzzy and sleepy brain. They had forecasted snow. But I never believed it would actually happen…

We had been waiting for this moment for two long years, as forecast after forecast has left my kids disappointed, none greater than the Christmas Day powdering we were almost certainly supposed to receive. (We didn’t).

Miss Sunday had been a wee little tyke the last time she had really played in the snow, and I had looked forward to this moment all winter.

Although I will admit, my excitment was immediately tempered by the thought that I would be spending the next two hours or so dressing and undressing three children and mopping up melted snow from my entryway. But this is motherhood. I should have gotten over these things long ago.

After I peeled the cobwebs out of my brain and eyeballs, Gid, Sunday and I bounded up the stairs to retrieve Baby Betsie from her crib. I don’t know who was more atwitter about introducing her to the white world that awaited her, but I’m pretty sure it was the big, pregnant lady with the frizzy hair (who has a  heart of gold, by the way). Standing in front of the large double window in their nursery, all four of us ooohed and aaahed, and Gideon noted that “God must have decided to do something nice for us since we pray to Him all the time.”

“He must have!” I agreed. “We should thank Him.”

“Thank you, God!” Gideon yelled out the window.

“Thank you, God!” his sister copied, before adding, “I LOVE you!”

One cup of coffee and a “Peppa Pig” episode later we were scrambling around like crazy people, flinging hats and mittens and scarves and long johns all over the place in our haste to be ready to play by the time Papa made it up the hill to watch us. I had one driving motivation: we had to make it out there before the fat flakes tapered off or I would be a miserable failure of a mother who cares more about coffee than children.

And by jove…we succeeded!

Once ready, I surveyed my handiwork.

Be still my heart.

Do you remember days like this? Getting all bundled up with your siblings? Being so excited that God sent you a gift from the sky? Having nothing else on your entire horizon except enjoying what was right in front of your face?

Sweet, precious childhood. My favorite of all created things.

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It was the most perfect snow I’ve ever seen, the kind that makes building snowmen and creating snowballs as easy as pie. And the giant, fluffly flakes that fell down as my kids played were like something out of Narnia.

If only we had a lamppost and a Faun.

Oh, well. Maybe next year.

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Miss Sunday approved of her new winter playground.

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And Baby Betsie reached up in wonder to touch the flakes that were landing gently onto our porch…

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before swiftly deciding that, just like she doesn’t care for swimming pools and sprinklers, she doesn’t care for snow.

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In fact, she hates it.

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But she loves her Papa.

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As unique and particular are the difficulties of life in the ministry, so are the perks, one of which being that Papa can come play in the snow with us while the time is right.

He may have to work on Saturday now, but…how could we have missed this morning with him by our side?

(Please excuse the dirty, grouchy snowman who is still staring at me through our office window. I think he wants to kill me…).

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I will share more funny things about our playtime tomorrow, but for now, I’ll conclude with this: by the time they had shucked all their wet clothes and only long john bottoms remained, my eldest children were wound up. Drinking hot chocolate and eating grilled cheese sandwiches right in front of the fireplace topped off what must have been to them the perfect morning…

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And If they don’t fully realize it now, they will. The only reason we have days like this is because God is good and His mercy endures forever.

We know who butters our bread…

and who sends us our snow.

Thank you, God, for all of it.

~

And I’d like to give a hearty “welcome!” to everyone who joined up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary yesterday! Your kind words and comments just absolutely made my day, and I am so very glad to have you along.

~

Want to read about more of our snow adventures? Here is one of my first (and favorite) posts: How to Survive When Snowbound