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Our everyday, immortalized…

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There are really too many photos to post of our life lately. So here’s them all in one go! Life has changed so much since Christmas. Eleanora is such an independent little lady these days. We started potty training this week (she’s doing much better than I anticipated!) and talking up a storm these days. We count, one…two…nine…and talk about colors all the time. “HIIII BLLUUUUEEE ROOOOOM!” is a recent favorite. We pick flowers every day, play play-dough and blow bubbles all the live-long day. She’s either the sweetest thing in the world or really, well, not sweet. She loves shouting “NO” at the top of her lungs as a response to everything. (We’re working on it.) The fact that she lets me braid her beautiful curly locks almost makes up for all the harder times. Ha! Every morning, she toddles into our room super early and says “hi mama!” and it’s the sweetest thing ever. When I check on her before bed I often find her lying in the middle of her floor surrounded by her toys, having fallen asleep in mid-play – when all seemed quiet, because apparently she just can’t miss out on any fun. Ha! When she wakes up, her first response is often to put her hand on her head and say “bow?” So girly. I know I’m to blame for that, but I kind of don’t mind! She’s started “singing” along to songs. And overall loves to be large and in charge. She’ll “pull” us up from whatever we are doing to lead us around the house and point to things. We make friends everywhere we go. Vivacious. Sassy. Vocal. Friendly. Enthusiastic. Explorative. Passionate. I love seeing these things develop. She’s QUITE the handful these days, but I love that she’s so passionate about everything. It’s a battle being consistent with behavior (you know, like not hitting me in the face or doing the exact opposite of what mama says) but I’m so thankful for the privilege of being the one who helps mold her into her own little person. She’s a precious gift. Every night I breathe a deep, deep sigh of relief when I put her to bed, because I am that exhausted, but I miss her right after I shut her door. That seems to be motherhood. It could be the worst day full of tantrums and fussiness, but when the days is done I wouldn’t trade a single second.

Doing the working-traveling-writing-ministry-mama thing is no joke. I feel like I’m living very raw these days. My heart is pulled so many different ways that it feels exposed and out in the open. But at the same time every single second was lived with purpose. It’s all for ONE goal – more glory for Christ. I find it crazy that that more everything and motherhood can coexist in my current reality, but it does. That is my path. And I wouldn’t trade any aspect. I’m tired, spent and have given all 100% and more, almost always waking up tired, and yet strangely invigorated. I KNOW this is my calling for this season – all of it, all the crazy. It’s too much for me to handle on my own, and that is the point. I need daily, minute by minute, breath by breath kind of grace like I’ve never needed before. I won’t lie and say I don’t (almost daily) ask God how all the pieces are going to work out, how it’s all going to be done, and how I’m going to keep the plates spinning. It’s then that I find the truest rest, as nuts as that sounds, in the smack-dab middle of all the spinning, going, doing, mothering, writing, working, investing, and whatever else. This is the best, most beautiful journey and I’m so thankful it’s hard. I’m so glad Elle is so busy and full of life. I’m so blessed we are at church so much. I’m so thankful I have so many sweet friendships. I’m so elated that I have more than enough work that I LOVE. I’m so honored to have the chance to WRITE worship songs. I’m so ecstatic I get to invest in people. I’m so overjoyed that I’ve been given hard things to walk through, so that I may know a deeper grace and see God more clearly. I’m so glad for it all. When I get my perspective right, I feel like the most blessed woman on the planet for what God has entrusted to me. How humbling! What an honor! The girl I was 6 years ago longed for these things, albeit even though they look different than my dreams then. Heavy things. Full plates. Busy seasons. They are blessings. In every season I have a reason to sing; I have a reason to worship.

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Kristen - April 9, 2016 - 6:09 am

Where did you get your daughter’s beautiful comforter, and adorable bow from the pics of you two in her room?

Michelle King Hollamon-Grush - May 28, 2016 - 4:31 am

So precious!!!

Eleanora | 18 Months

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Little miss is almost officially a year & a half! Honestly, we’ve felt like she’s 2 for quite some time now. She is SO BUSY…but I love every minute, most of the time! Haha! She’s growing so big so quickly that I wanted to write down some of the sweet things she’s doing lately. (This is way overdue…aka, LONG!)

Elle is quite the talker lately. She jabbers all day long and has started a few 2 word sentences. Favorites are “Bye bye Daddy!” “Hi Dog!” and “Night Night Mama!” She can say all sorts of things now, but my favorite is “again” at the moment. I cannot adequately describe the sweetness of our mornings together. Cuddles and milk are a necessity to start the day off right. I’m usually still in my devotional chair, and I either read to her or we listen to worship music. My heart melts in a million pieces when I hug her tight, kiss, or tickle her and she says “again” a dozen times. My mama heart can take it. She also loves to sign “please” and “thank you.” Often times I’ll ask her to give me something and she then signs “thank you” until I sign it back! Haha! I guess I have to start practicing what I preach.

She LOVES books still. We read at least 12x per day. She loves pointing to the colors and animals. I say “where is the lion” or “where is the color yellow” and she’ll point to it. If there is a bird or dog on the page, then that is just a winner all around. Well, she really loves any animals! We color every day. She’s so particular about her coloring and insists on holding the crayons with the correct hand-grip at the very top of the crayon. (I have never gripped pens/pencils correctly, so she didn’t get that from me!) “Bubuuss!” or bubbles, rather, are a fun new discovery as well. Since the weather has been so nice we blow bubbles and pick flowers a lunch. We also love to play the piano and guitar. She loves to “sing” aka vocal warmups, and play the harmonica. She’s quite dramatic with it! We have a dance party almost every day too. I feel a little bit bad that I never play any of the kid songs for her, but she doesn’t love them! She likes worship music…and Taylor Swift. Haha! It makes her so happy when TS comes on. She breaks out into some great moves. Ha!

I never want to forget the way she plays hide-and-seek. I’ll count and she goes and puts her head up against a wall…like I can’t see her. My favorite is when she hides behind the sheer curtains in her room…obviously watching me “look” for her. Haha! Another great spot is behind doors where she can look through the crack or underneath pillows. These really are the days I’ll cherish forever. I also never want to forget how she goes and steals my shoes all the time and will trot around the house in them. She likes to steal my jewelry too. Her little “Ooooh, pretty!” inflections are the sweetest! When she is excited her little “ah, aaah! oooh!” is so cute! Sometimes when she wakes up, she’ll grab her hair and inquisitively hold out her hands and say, “bow?” She does have to wear one to keep her hair out of her face, but hopefully I’m not creating a monster with the bow situation! ha! Sometimes we change bows, per her request, 3x a day. Sometimes she wears her shoes around the house, just because she likes wearing them. I can’t say she didn’t get that from me, since I’m usually dressed with shoes on everyday too. (If you have clothes, why not wear them, right? This is also due to my lack of sweatpants…and her lack of them too.)

As for growth, food, sleep and such…E is a BIG girl. And by big, I mean tall. She can open doors, reach almost anything on the bathroom counter, climb up on the couch and into the tub. Thank heavens she hasn’t tried to climb out of her crib yet, but I know those days are numbered. We’ve been in 18-24 mo. tops and dresses for a while now because of how tall she is! We’ll see what the dr says at her appointment next week, but I know she’s the size of a 2 year old. Elle still eats anything, but she’s gotten more picky and prefers carbs to anything else. Broccoli and applesauce are go-tos. Anything she can feed herself is golden. If she can’t she’s not very interested. She loves to feed Beary too. I’ll catch her doing the airplane and choochoo moves we do to get her to eat to Mr. Beary! It’s so funny! As for sleep, we’ve transitioned out of her morning nap most days, but we still implement “quiet time.” Sometimes she naps, sometimes she doesn’t, but at minimum she is playing quietly in her crib. I am SO THANKFUL she sleeps so well and likes morning rest. Otherwise I’d have to figure something else out for work. Right now, I don’t need tons of extra in-home help and that has been so nice! We play hard when she’s up, and then I work like crazy when she’s down. Not every day is according to the schedule, but we don’t worry about that too much. I try to stay ahead enough to make room for her off days.

Her nighttime routine with Daddy is her absolute favorite part of the day, at least I’m pretty sure. We are at church or have something most nights of the week, and we usually get back just in time for bed. We try to wait up until Daddy can make it back for the routine. She loves that he flies her to her room, lands in her spot and pulls out all the animals one by one to kiss/ hug her and be silly. Then she gets all tucked in and we say goodnight. I love that she loves it so much. She points to photos of Jonathan and says, “daddy!” all day long. I guess I tell Siri to call Jonathan a lot too, because she also excitedly exclaims “DADDY!!!” when I say “call Jonathan Blair” and knows she gets to talk to him. She also knows were Daddy is a lot, because the moment we pull up to church she exclaims “Daddy!!!” as well. She’ll run inside to go look for him, and by now, the place is her second home! So funny!

I can’t say that having a child isn’t crazy a lot of times. I definitely get stressed out with everything on my plate and often have trouble keeping up with all the projects and taking care of her. Our schedules are nuts, but I never want her to feel that. She is my calm most days. I’m not good at turning my work, goal-focused, idea-generating brain “off” but somehow I can when I’m with her most of the time. I can just be her mama when she’s up during the day and I love it. We clean the house, play, cook, run errands…she’s really my best little buddy. Sure, she causes me a lot of stress sometimes when she’s having a bad day or sick but it’s not the norm. I’ve been so overcome with thankfulness that I get to raise this sweet, curly-headed, blue-eyed, outgoing girl. I love watching her personality come out. I’m so proud of her already! It’s been so amazing to start to teach her things now that she can understand more. We’ve started talking to her about Jesus and she’ll try to say something like “Sus” and point to the sky. I’ve always wondered if babies know things, or see things we can’t.

Anyway, I love this girl! Life is NOT easy, but it’s been the best year and a half! I’ve probably grown more than she has, and that is saying something! I never want to take one moment for granted, but also keep my eyes on eternity. What a balance right? She’s so important, but so is living out God’s purposes. Ultimately, I want her childhood to be beautiful, but not at the expense of NOT doing what I was called to do because it’s not easy to do it with her.

So I’m going for it with every part of my soul, my sweet Eleanora Rose! I’m living life with every single bit of passion I have, doing the hard things, getting up early, staying up late – all to focus on eternal things and push towards the prize. I want to be your example. I want to show you Jesus. I don’t want to waste any bit of life. I won’t make excuses, and I certainly won’t use you. Making disciples and following Jesus never had a “but I have children” clause, so I’m not putting it there! I want to show you how to have a big, generous heart for people, my sweet girl! That may mean that sometimes you’ll miss your nap or I’ll be talking with someone else during your play time. I’m not going to wait until you’re bigger to serve, to make a difference. I want you to grow up knowing I love you, but that you are not the summation of my world – Jesus is my master. My love for you feels so immense, but I love Jesus more. The best way I can love you, is to love Him first. The best way I can help you grow, is to grow myself in Him first. I hope I will live out what real faith looks like in front of your eyes. I’m being the best mama I know to be by ultimately giving God’s Kingdom my all. You are one of my greatest gifts, and a constant reminder to look to Jesus. I’m tired, I’m so tired, but my heart is so full.

 

And now the images…my sweet girl in her natural element.

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Monica - February 2, 2016 - 4:40 pm

She’s verry cute and the photos are amazing!

Laura Nelson - February 2, 2016 - 9:49 pm

I love reading these posts and dreaming of what Ivy will be like since they were born around the same time of year 🙂 E is seriously a doll!!! I just love those curls!!!

Elle Meets the Sea (Forgotten Images)

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I was combing through my images from 2015 and found these gems I can’t believe I never posted! This was such a beautiful moment for me as Eleanora met my beloved Sea for the first time. Plus this was my sweet friend Kaylie’s bridal shower. (She knows how to plan a part huh? Gorgeous!) It was a gorgeous day! Here are a few shots of our time by the sea. She loved it!

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Scenes From Christmas Morning

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This was hands down my favorite Christmas yet. I have no doubt it will get more sweet at the years go by. Despite Eleanora being up late the night before, not napping and me being sick with, well, several different things, it was incredibly special. I loved setting out Eleanora’s 3 presents. (Well, I pulled the teepee out a few times before Christmas! I couldn’t help it and she didn’t really remember.) As her face indicates below, I think she loves them. She goes to the closet every day and asks for her teepee to come out. It wasn’t a flashy Christmas and I didn’t even get many photos, but it was still magical. While I was setting out E’s presents Christmas Eve, I couldn’t help but feel the Father lovingly show me that He has a beautiful (not easy) future ahead…something he set out beforehand too. “For I know the plans I have for you…” It’s similar to how I knew these plans and set it up in love for my daughter. I cannot fathom of all of His gifts of mercy and grace, just like little Elle as she slept soundly in her crib. I can’t wait to teach her these truths one day, for they are the best gift I can give. And these two! They are my best gifts of all.

Christmas seems to mean more to me with every year that passes. The lyrics to “O Holy Night” struck me deeply this season. “Truly He taught us to love one another. His law is Love and his Gospel is Peace. Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we. Let all within us praise His holy name! Christ is the Lord! O, praise His name forever. His power and glory ever more proclaim. His power, and glory ever more proclaim!” My heart this year was found there; I had overwhelming thankfulness for the great mercies of God, proved in Christ Jesus. I was humbled by His immense love and encouraged to strive to love as He did. Let all within me praise His holy name! His glory…forever.

I have much to be thankful for this year. It was quite the year, but I’ll save that for another post maybe. I am very much looking forward to a fresh start in 2016!

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I wish I could relive this a thousand times! Her face is truly priceless…and all I could ever hope for on Christmas!

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Jonathan totally surprised me with this beautiful (WHITE!!!) mandolin. He’s the best and I don’t deserve him.

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Unwrapping was a big hit this year. She tore off the paper on everyone’s presents. 🙂

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These two shots are called, “we tried.” Elle no nap = Elle no take pictures.

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I didn’t get much from Nana & Pops house either because of the nap thing…oh well, next year!

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We put the tree away yesterday…she was sad to see the lights go.

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I hope you all had a magical Christmas too! Here’s to 2016!

paige - December 28, 2015 - 7:35 pm

my goodness gracious these are surely some of the most precious images ever!!

Social Media in Light of Eternity

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Over the past few months, I have evaluated my life and I come up dissatisfied. Unforeseen circumstances have made me step back and ask myself some deep questions about the direction I’m heading. I have sought to live a live with purpose and meaning, but that is hard to do. I see much laxness and not enough conviction.

I find much of what has led me to this place is social media and the tunnel view it has created for what life should be in my heart. And I’m done. I’ve denied it’s power. I’ve told myself I don’t struggle “that much” and that I’m in control of it’s influence on me. It took hold anyway. I’ve talked to quite a few people lately who are in the same boat as me. They thought they were fine, but find when the bandaid is ripped off suddenly, that the world has had more influence on them than they care to admit. We’re confused. When did this happen? How did I waste so much time, thought and energy on something that doesn’t matter. For a lot of us, I think it happened without us realizing. We grew up in a world one way and have watched it become everything it is now. We remember what it was like to have to talk to our friends on the phone and going to bed without a cell phone by our side. In fact, for years mine stayed in my purse in the closet, turned off until morning for most of my teen years. What a different day we live in now. We’ve seen the change, embraced it, grown and adapted to it without much thought. We can do anything, be anything. But inside I think we got lost in it all. I did.

Slowly, the light has crept through and God has gently whispered, “This has more control over you than your pride will admit.” It’s taken a while, but I’m here, admitting I’m influenced, addicted and wasting too much of my time. Over the past few months I’ve allowed these verses to steep in my heart and they’ve wrecked me in the best and worst of ways.

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers…” – Acts 13:36

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Paul, 2 Timothy 4:7

Man, God’s Word has knocked me squarely between the eyes. It’s cut me to the heart. He’s torn open the curtains to a dusty, dark place I didn’t know I was hiding. Pride. Envy. Selfishness. Covetousness. To be perfectly honest, I have told myself I have been above it all. Maybe Pinterest doesn’t make me want to buy new clothes, but I can’t say I haven’t succumbed to the influences of what is going on around me. I can’t say that my heart hasn’t been secretly full of things I hate. That isn’t what I want. I LONG to live the way Paul and David did, with purpose, fighting each day for the glory of God, not my own name. Read Hebrews 11 for an even more convicting chapter of heroes who suffered much in this life, but gained everything that matters in eternity.

So what does it mean to serve the purpose of God for our generation? What does it look like to be in the world but not of it, to be effective, to be a light for Christ and to have a life that is lived with purpose, that means something? I’ve been asking myself this question for years. I’ve talked to quite a few people lately who are asking the same questions. What does purpose look like in the here and now, especially in regard to social media? What is most like Jesus? How seriously should we take the things online? There is no secret thing to do that will fix it all. I simply have a few truths found in the lives of those who were greatly effective for Christ in their lifetimes.

Don’t be a slave, addict or recluse to the world – be a slave of Christ. We cannot let being a part of this world consume us. We also can’t run, being a recluse and not taking part in our culture. What a dichotomy! How can we straddle the fine line and find the right road? A lot of times I feel sucked into it’s snares or the urge to pull away entirely. What is the right path? Honestly, I feel that will look different for everyone. What I do know is that we should be slaves to Christ, not to the world. (If you haven’t ready Slave by John MacArther, I highly recommend it in regard to this topic.) Like a slave, our only goal in this life is to serve Him. We are not our own, so therefore we cannot have any part of us that belongs to anyone or anything else. Our “happiness” is irrelevant because we should only be concerned with being pleasing to our Master. I have to evaluate my life and ask if this area is slave to Him or something else. This is the mentality to live by day to day.

Stay grounded in the Love of God and our worth in Christ. Nothing else should define us. As believers, we are HIS. We are created by Him and for Him, for His purposes. That is a lot of the word “Him” and also my point. We can sink our feet into the immense love of our God and find incredible security there. The more I truly believe He loves me, the less what anyone else thinks of me matters. There is a reason Paul said “…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19) His love is powerful. If everything in your life was stripped away, your profiles, closet, house, job, family, etc…who would you be? Do you have that kind of security in Christ, so much so that you need nothing apart from Him? 

Be faithful where you are. Even Paul, the great missionary and apostle started small. He didn’t just travel around speaking to huge crowds all the time. He made a living as a tent-maker. He ministered to the other tent makers and they went on to plant churches. What if he thought he was too good for the other tent-makers around him? There would be no Pricilla and Aquilla or the many believers that resulted from their faithfulness to Christ. Even David, was faithful in watching out for his father’s sheep. It wasn’t a the most honorable job, but he did it with excellence and used the lonely times to cultivate a heart after God, write and sing praises to God.

Find contentment in Christ, seek His fame, not our own. The more I truly believe that Jesus is more than enough for me, that life in Him is full and overflowing, the less I want anything else. When Jesus is my joy, the lives of others don’t effect me. I find I want less. I don’t care about what people say or don’t say, like or don’t like because I am completely and utterly satisfied in Him. Whenever there is that desire for more, stop and look at your heart. How deep is your contentment in Christ? How much do you desire Him to be known and glorified? When I stop to do this, it ALWAYS hurts. I see how I have loved myself, my name, reputation and things that make me feel successful, loved and valued over Jesus. What is even worse is when that doesn’t bother me that much, and I sweep it under the rug as ok. Neither you or I can live like that AND live with purpose for the Kingdom. If our fame, our comfort or our stuff, even inadvertently, is the goal then we will never be effective in this life.

Be ready for every opportunity. Take David for example. Scripture says he was a man after God’s own heart. Where did that start? It began in being faithful in the small things. When his time came to step up, he was ready because he hadn’t wasted any time. He was ready. Timothy’s mentor, Paul, told him to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) In 1 Peter 3:15 it says, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” If we are going to be effective in life, we have to be ready for every opportunity that comes our way. We probably won’t get a warning or sign. In diligence, it’s our job to prepare our hearts for whatever the Lord has in store for us.

Stamp Eternity on your eyeballs. In the end nothing matters more than eternity with Christ. This is the reality to come! Our lives here are so incredibly brief. They pass like the smoke after blowing out a candle. Poof! It’s gone. And yet, it is so easy to get caught up in things today. My to-do list today. This post today. This trend today. My house today. This comment today. My chaos today. My family today. My pride today. All the things I need today. If those things, today, don’t count for eternity then they don’t matter. Period! Sure, we have to work, do homework, care for the littles, get fed, clothed, etc…but does our attitude in those things show that our eyes are on eternity or merely the here and now? I don’t know about you, but when I get to meet my Master face to face and all my days are laid before Him, I don’t want to be ashamed over how I spent my allotted time. That day is coming! Still, how easily I forget it. Thus, the goal becomes to STAMP ETERNITY ON MY EYEBALLS every day when they open. View every moment in life through the lens of eternity and suddenly things become clear. We see our relationships, our time and talents in a whole new light and deeper purpose is found. I can promise you if you live with eternity always in view, even just for the rest of today, it will change you. Spend time with the Master and ask Him to show you your life in the grand scheme of eternity and it will wreck you.

So, are these things easy to do? Nope, not one bit. I have known these things what seems like forever and doing them is incredibly hard. Keeping Eternity in mind take discipline. Being ready takes a lot of preparation. Finding contentment in Christ means I have to die to myself. Being faithful means that I let God dictate my life, regardless of where or what I will do. Staying grounded in His love means I have to spend time in His Word. Being a slave to Christ means I have to give up everything to follow Him, and that I obey His Word. The question I ask myself, and you my friend, is this – Is it worth it? In the end we will gain everything for merely loosening our grasp over the control these fleeting days. I desperately want to give my utmost to live out my purpose on this earth and hear those beautiful words when I enter Eternity, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master.”

 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

Lorin Fairweather - April 1, 2016 - 10:56 pm

Thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. So honest, touching, and timely.