Behind The Name | Please Don’t Think I’m Better Than I Am

After last week’s post about walking in integrity, I felt like I needed to make sure I clarify something, both for your sake and mine.

I am not a cool person. Haha. I am not a perfect Mom by any stretch of the imagination. I do not have it all together. I’m not even sure where it all is…

Anything I write is nearly always an attempt to internalize it myself. I share it publicly, because I hope it might help someone else, too. In fact, the morning I shared this post, I had started the day out in overwhelmed tears and ended up back in bed for some more sleep while Kip took care of the babies. Haha. So, please, do not believe that anything I write is out of some higher state of holiness. In fact, it’s usually more like the exact opposite.

Behind The Name

I sort of panned Real Small Life out of a river of thoughts about what I wanted my life to reflect and what I want to say, all while giving an honest picture of what our lives actually look like. It started with a perspective of smallness (little people, little toys, little chores), and I found currents pulling me more toward this concept.

real life mom of littlesREAL

I follow a lot of really beautiful blogs and Instagram feeds, but the types of lives I see are not something I am able to replicate. Haha. There is nothing wrong with a perfectly beautiful home or being impeccably dressed every day, and I’m not mad at them for it! Well, most days. 😉 I initially struggled with the idea of starting a blog, because I feared the temptation to try to make my life look prettier than it is. I decided if I was going to write and share our lives with the internet populous, I was going to be honest. And, if we’re being honest, I really wish my home and life was as organized and beautiful as some of the ones on the blogs I read. And it’s something I’m working toward. But I also won’t pretend that Sam doesn’t wear clothes most days in the Summer, and that any time you read my words there is a 98% chance of dirty dishes in my sink.

While I share all this for the sake of honesty, I also want to say that my goal is to move through these struggles well, not to commiserate and host pity parties. I want to press on toward eternal reward, not remain in my mess. “It’s okay to be where you are, it’s just not okay to stay there.”

real life mom SMALL

I happen to think there is little recognition of the value of a “small” life – at least on the scale of what the general public values. Many of us (myself included) tend to want to be loud, make a big splash, chase big dreams, do something people notice. But the small things, those are what make us who we are. Who we are in private is who we really are. And, we see time and time again, the Lord values the meek. The world doesn’t. I believe this dichotomy has what has lead popular culture to devalue Motherhood, or more specifically, Mothers whose sole job is raising children at home. It is thankless work that is difficult to quantify. Most of the time life with little people is moving from one small task to the next: wake up, eat breakfast, put the toddler on the potty, change the baby’s diaper, wash the dishes, stop washing dishes to correct behavior, read the baby a book, put the books away, remember you were in the middle of dishes, but now it’s time for lunch… and on, and on the days go… Long days full of the small things required to take care of small people. Work that will echo in eternity, but no one is bound to notice here.

“…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.” -Luke 16:10real small lifeLIFE

This is us as we are. Our real life. We only get one shot at this, and we want to do it well. We are learning, but we are totally fallen and imperfect. God’s word is final, not mine, and I pray that no person ever comes away from my words without first checking them with Scripture.

I’m not sure where our path will lead, but I am grateful to have this space to write, to grow, and to connect with others. Being able to look back on past posts and recall memories I had completely forgotten has been such a gift to my Mama heart. I also believe we are intended to live life with and for each other, and I have been so happy to have found friends here and connected with people I might not have met otherwise.

So, that’s me. That’s us. And if that sounds kind of like you too, I hope you’ll connect with me as we learn together.

Love always,
H

Why Mamas Have to Live Intentionally | Walking in Integrity

This little girl. She’s repeating my words. She’s using my tone. The way she says, “Yeahhh…” or, “Thanks!”, or “Oh deearrr” make us laugh every time, because she just sounds so grown up. She’s mimicking my actions. She cuddles her baby, lays her on the table and says “baby stinks?” and pretends to change a diaper. She gently lays the doll on a pillow and lies down with her, gives her a kiss and says, “Nigh-night baby.”

And basically, all this terrifies me. Those little eyes are watching me, that little heart is taking in every action, planting seeds that will grow into her soul for the rest of her life. Can I live up to this commission?

“The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him!” -Proverbs 20:7

Moms, the way we live our days matters. We’ve each been given a noble post, a humble one: to live our lives faithfully and intentionally in front of little people, especially in the little things, for a handful of reasons:

1. More is caught than taught. Our babies will learn more by simply being around us than they will in the one-on-one “big lesson” moments.

2. If we live life faithfully, not only will our children learn to live the same way by our example, but what we leave behind for them when we’re gone will be a gift, not a burden. Excellent stewardship of finances, possessions, knowledge, skills, and community will outlive us – let it be a blessing to them.

3. When we walk in integrity, our lives ought to always point to the Cross, which is where we pray our Mothering leads them one day. Walking in integrity doesn’t mean being perfect, having all the answers, or pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps. It means that we walk with the Truth as our constant companion – the Truth that Christ is our Righteousness.

christian mommy blogLord, your gift to me, at the greatest cost to you, is righteousness imparted to me – I have none on my own. Let me abide in you, that I may walk in integrity, for “apart from you [I] can do nothing.” Let the love you have for me be my rest, from which I find the strength to carry out the tasks you have for me to do in order to create this home. Father, every little action, even laundry, has eternal significance, when little eyes are watching. 

Like a Weaned Child is My Soul Within Me

Good morning! It is 7:45 AM and I am running on a few sporadic hours of sleep. Two year old Rosie was up over and over last night, claiming she needed to potty, only to sit there and do nothing…. and then have an accident in the bed.

Around 5:45 this morning I just gave up on getting any more sleep for either of us, parked her on the couch with some milk and myself with an americano, while I mentally prepped for a rough day. I have so many things (big and small) I need to get done, and a few sleepless nights in a row has me feeling like I can’t get it all done.

mommy blog two under twoAnd then the coffee kicked in, and the Lord reminded me of one of my favorite Psalms.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
-Psalm 131:1-2

There are times for Mama to dive deeper, but for me, that is not this day. Today is a day to calm and quiet my soul. Today, we are putting one foot in front of the other, and seeking the Lord’s constant presence. Elisabeth Elliot would say, “Just do the next thing.”

So, that’s what today is. A day of next things. One at a time.

Love,
H

In Which Someone Else Speaks My Heart on Homeschooling

DSC_0418I have wanted to home school my kids for as long as I can remember. We have deeper reasons, but mostly, I just really want to. Some of our friends and family have sort of always assumed that we would home school, and some have given us surprised responses when the topic comes up. None have been negative, only mystified as to why we would want to do such a thing. When I came across the words of my internet-friend, Adelaide, I just had to ask her if I could share them.

A little background: I came across Adelaide’s baby sign account on Instagram, @notanexactscience, when my interest in American Sign Language was first beginning. I thought her videos were cute and the signs were fun to teach my kids, so I followed her. I eventually went to her blog, which is when I realized she kind of lives my literal dream. Well, one of them. 😉 She, her husband, and her two little boys spend their days traveling, exploring the world and learning languages as they go. Can’t. Even. Deal.

This is what Adelaide wrote alongside a photo of her son yesterday on her personal account:


“He could be in a classroom learning about the world and how it works… Or he could be discovering the world while using math, language, and science. Seeing geography. Enjoying history. But does that work? This has been on my mind terribly for months as we get closer to August.

We made our decision about whether to start him in Kindergarten in the fall or wait… Whether to do public school or interest based learning. I know I read too much Penelope Trunk, and you should too.

I can’t bare to send him to a public school that doesn’t teach logic. That teaches the kids what to think–not how to think. That claims to be free from religion when it’s impossible to be devoid of a belief system. That doesn’t prepare children adequately for the world and their responsibilities.

I looked at the learning objectives for Kindergarten. He went through those in three languages this last year by not learning them but learning things that are actually interesting. He’s also good on first and second grade US and World History and geography. My goal is to not help him meet those objectives (because it’s silly how they are laid out) but to be thriving in what he loves and is good at by the time he is twelve. Then it’s time for him to be responsible and take risks during that time he wants so much to be independent and take meaningful risks. Might as well do that while he builds something and prepares for his future while he is financially secure. I want to see his confidence grow as his contribution to the world grows. Which is the opposite of what happens in public school during these years.

Two weeks until we start intensive Spanish in Mexico, and he continues his studies. I’m really excited for this year but had to quit the Slanted Lens and consulting to make it happen. I think the focus gained will be worth the sacrifice. I hope that if these same things are on your mind, this obnoxiously long post gives you strength.”

Thank you for letting me share your words, Adelaide! They did strengthen and encourage me. Um also, please come to Dallas before you go to Mexico! 😉

Love,
H

Writing Letters to My Babies | GIVEAWAY In Blue Handmade

IMG_0824I love journals. I have always been a writer, if you define a “writer” as “someone who enjoys writing and does it a lot”, or “someone who can’t adequately think through anything without writing about it”. I am grateful to have the journal I was writing in as I came into what I believe was a truly personal relationship with Jesus in 2010. I also have my first journals from the second grade (Rugrats themed), notebooks all throughout highschool and college days (embarrassing), and most precious to me: a journal in which I began to write letters to my future husband, a couple years before Kip came along. I presented it to him during our first look on our wedding day. Throughout our marriage I have continued to add new notes now and then, and I hope it is something our kids will find one day after we’re gone, and they can laugh and be embarrassed and weirded out by it.

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So, when one Mother’s Day, Kip so thoughtfully gifted me an Etsy gift card, you would think I would know exactly what to get. I felt indecisive and overwhelmed by all the beautiful handmade Etsy wonder, and was about to purchase something ridiculous until I stumbled upon In Blue Handmade. They practically made my decision for me. How I had I not thought of it before? Duh, gimme all the beautiful handmade leather journals! All uh dem.

I was ecstatic to buy one for each of my children and began writing to them whenever a thought came to mind: things I want them to learn, lessons they’ve taught me, Scriptures I pray over them, and notes of my love for them. I plan to write in them as they grow up, and gift them to them when they are young adults, though I’m not certain exactly when. My desire is that they are able to look back over their 2 decades in our home and will be assured of the deepest love I have for them, and that maybe as adults they might see me as I once was, and how my heart for them grows every single day.

I’ve been writing in these for almost a year and a half, and I am still in love with them. I sent the shop owners of In Blue Handmade a message, letting them know how much I loved their product, and asked if they would consider giving away a journal to one of my readers. I am so grateful to say that they said “yes!” and I am ecstatic to see one of y’all receive one of these journals ($28 value). (P.S. Anyone can enter! You don’t have to be a mom, and you can obviously use it however you want. Just throwin’ that out there. ;))

{Update: the winner of the giveaway, chosen by random drawing, is… Kelley Jumper! Wahoo! 🙂 Kelley, please email me at realsmalllifeblog@gmail.com so we can get you your journal. 🙂 Thanks to everyone who entered, and to In Blue Handmade for sponsoring! xoxo}

To enter the giveaway, we’re keeping it simple! You must do the following three things to be officially entered:
1. Like In Blue Handmade on Facebook,
2. Like Real Small Life Blog on Facebook,

 -OR-

1. Follow @inbluehandmade and
2. Follow @realsmalllife on Instagram, and

3. Comment here when you’ve done those things, to let me know you’ve entered! (One entry per person, either via Facebook + comment below, or Insta + comment below! Capeesh?)

That’s it! The giveaway is open for one week, Monday, July 20th through Monday, July 27th. Yay! May the odds be ever in your favor. 😉

Love,
H

In Which The Statons Have a Bad Week

   

This has not been our week.

Our fridge went out (which meant throwing away a lot of food), we purchased a brand new one but it couldn’t be delivered until 5 days later, I got sick with a cough & fever just as my Mom & Dad came into town to spend time with us, and Rosie’s left eye is currently swollen shut, from what looks like some sort of bug bite. Oh, and the starter in our car went out, so Kip is outside fixing that right now.

I mean, good grief, Charlie Brown.

I just read this Proverb last week, sort of on accident. It was written on a random note card somewhere, but it has stuck in my head all this week. “All the days of the afflicted are bad, But a cheerful heart has a continual feast.” -Proverbs 15:15

I think it’s about perspective, not circumstances.

Sometimes, when everything seems to be going wrong, we have to work hard to see the good. Sometimes, that might mean naming gifts, like Ann Voskamp, or writing down 10 things you love right now, like sweet Brittany.

Our troubles have not been major, and I am grateful for that, but they have seemed to come one on top of the other. Sometimes, I think we need to let go of our plans, or our ideal of how we think things are supposed to go, and just roll with the punches and see the graces for what they are in this season.

For me, graces have looked like this:
1. Finding a desk someone threw out, bringing it home, and turning it into a daddy-daughter project. (It looks so good, btw!)
2. Friends knowing we’re sick and temporarily car-less and bringing Chick-fil-a breakfast.
3. My own (thrifted and thoroughly cleaned) espresso maker which = iced americanos all the time.
4. Mom going to the store for us and bringing us a box of popsicles, which disappear on day 1.
5. A husband who works tirelessly with a good attitude, and helps me remember to laugh at the insanity.
6. A new fridge that actually fits where it is intended to in this house, haha. (Note above photo of Sam: baby changing table where fridge should fit!)
7. Finding out that Kroger is running a crazy good sale on fresh meat the day I go to restock our groceries.
8. Friends that actually pray when you ask them to.
9. Knowing that despite the terror, sin, and hurt in the world, I am confident of something better beyond.
10. The Lord who is an ever-present help in trouble.

“As long as thanks is possible, joy is always possible.”

How has your week been?
Love,
H

Open Wide | The Gospel in Motherhood

The further I venture into Motherhood, the more often I find that God has so sweetly given mamas a unique perspective on His relationship with us. I wrote this back when Samuel was still nursing, but I still look back on those memories with fondness, and gratefulness for the gift of that experience. I know that not all women are able to breastfeed their babes for a variety of reasons, and I understand there can be some hurt there for some who feel they may have “missed out.” My encouragement for those mothers is to remember that you are precious in the Lord’s sight, and your value as a mother is not determined by the things you do, but the price Jesus paid for you. 

christian mommy blog“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” -Psalm 81:10

Tiny, new little body swaddled in my arms, resting after hours of laboring together to birth from the darkness into light. Smooshed little face, eyes wide and alert, belly hungry and slowly he turns, rooting. I tell him to “Open wide, baby boy…” He tries to latch, but it’s shallow – I know the clicking sound from his tongue means that something is not quite right. We need to start over and try again.

I stroke his cheek a bit with my finger, inciting reflexes that open his mouth as wide as tiny lips can open. He lets out a panicky, frustrated whimper. I remind him, “just open wide, and you can eat, sweet baby!” And just when the desire to give up and desperation for nourishment meet, he opens vulnerably wiiiiiide, and… latches. Oh, that sweet relief when babies get the right latch! He drinks the colostrum, the rich milk to work in his little insides to move the yucky, black tar of the womb-self out of his system.

In the days that follow, he cries often for more, and I hurry to him. He opens wide (now only occasionally needing to be reminded the proper way to latch on), and he eats his fill; the tiny, walnut-sized stomach now full of rich nourishment. He rests deep in the milk-coma and I can’t help but smile on him. I delight to meet his needs; to be the one he needs. 

Am I so different? The moments of emptiness come often in my day- I’m out of patience, out of energy, out of drive, out of… fruit. Who can live without sustenance? Who can live long on one meal? I have to come back to the arms of Christ, back to the supper table, again and again. Maybe just for a small portion at a time. One verse to recall. One name of God to ponder. One overarching Truth to dwell on and let dwell within me. And when I “run out”, I cry for more. And the Lord comes to me, ready to fill. But do I know how to receive from Him?

“Open your mouth wide and I will fill it…”

Opening wide requires vulnerability and acknowledges dependence.
Opening wide lets go of idols and inhibitions.
Wide open needs.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” -1 Peter 2:2-3

breastfeeding gospel motherhood encouragement

Photo by JWillowe

We approach him with our hands and hearts (and mouths?) wide open, and He promises to fill. With forgiveness, with grace, with love, with unwavering faithfulness. And as He fills, the pure spiritual milk grows us from deep within, moving the icky blackness of our old self out to make room for the new. That nourishment builds our core that keeps us upright and branches into limbs and capillaries of functioning – crawling, walking, stumbling, running – love. The only thing required of us is emptiness and thirst. And when we cry to Him, does He not come to our side?

As we grow, new depths of Truth are introduced. And though we always must return to our newborn-needy state, we also move on to the “solid food for the mature.” This takes time and gentle patience, slowly introducing and internalizing the new. And though my baby grows and is ready to be fed solids, the approach – the mantra – stays the same. I pop the top off the little jar, dip in the baby spoon and tell my sweet son once again, “Open wide!”

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”