Seeds to Overshadow

Preface: Sometimes my thoughts don’t have continuity until a few paragraphs in. Please bear with me if today is one of those times.

Our homes are a product of our hearts. Very much like the overflow of our hearts is heard in the words we let escape, the overflow of our hearts toward others–especially toward our family–is felt in the atmosphere of our homes. When have you ever felt comfortable in the home of an unhappy family? Don’t you just feel a heaviness, or a claustrophobic need to crash through a window into the fresh, open air? The tension seeps through the walls into every room, every corner.

You can live in a well-tended, professionally decorated mansion & still feel crushed by the walls. Walls that hold you captive with the very people you should want to rush to for comfort, but instead you often seek escape from.

Any house can be a place of refuge if the hearts within it are for you, and yours for them. Any house can be a home if its inhabitants choose love over being right. Over evening the scores. Choose to love, every day, on purpose. Even on the days you’re hard to love.

There are certainly days I’m hard to love. But this three-year-old girl of mine–this beauty all dressed in pink & seeking magic in the stream of light that shines through between the curtains, illuminating specks of dust and turning them into sparkling fairy dust–she squishes my face with her little fingers, giggling “chubby cheeks.” She tells me she forgives me after a meltdown [mine and hers]. She climbs up into my big comfy red reading chair and hugs the sad away. She chooses to love me on the days I don’t feel deserving of that kind of dedication.

This family God’s gifted me with reminds me that my home is our home, and it is beautiful even when the floors can’t be seen through the dirty (and clean) laundry. It is exactly what we need because it guards us from the bitter outside bite, and I should do the same. I should shield my husband and my babies from the bitter selfishness that sometimes edges its way into my heart.

And I can start by finding gratitude in every place, every situation, every day.

What better day to reset my heart and begin anew with a spirit of thankfulness…than on Thanksgiving?

I encourage you to do the same. Take today as an opportunity to find reasons to be grateful. For your car that sometimes sputters or maybe needs a daily pep talk to get going, but it gets you to work and to your family’s for dinner. For the spouse you barely talk to, because even if you are at odds with each other you know they’d be there for you in an instant in illness, in heartache, in grieving; because the ring on their left hand–the one tied to the ring on your left hand–represents a promise to stick around and support you when you’ve lost the will to support yourself. For your babies young and old who drive you to the edge of your sanity, only to do something that reminds you that their love for you is as unconditional and tangible as earthly love can get.

In every hard place, there is a reason to be thankful, however small it may seem. Make it your mission to seek out that seed of gratitude and it will grow to overshadow the hard things.

It doesn’t make life easy. But it makes life GOOD.




Beauty offering
Sometimes darkness can enhance the beauty in a photograph, but darkness can never enhance our hearts. It can only ever hide truth & cause destruction.

I recently downloaded the app Google Keep, which is kind of like keeping a digital notebook in your back pocket to jot thoughts down when you don’t have time to flesh them out.

First off, I love it and recommend it. It’s amazing for a forgetful girl, who is now an extra-forgetful mama, to be able to record important thoughts to come back to later.

Later, when sweet, chubby, clingy baby fingers are relaxed in sleep. Later, when I’m not rushing from work to the grocery store to home so my husband can leave the house and get to his job on time. Later, now.

It’s taking a few weeks to really get into the groove of quickly recording my thoughts now that I have this tool, but I’m working on it. At the beginning of this month, I swype-typed the following on my phone:

“For too long, I spoke out in harsh, angry judgment, thinking I was doing people some sort of service by deriding them. By stating my frustrations in clever sarcastic jabs at groups of people, or sometimes at a very specific person.
What part of that did I think was love? How can Christ be in words that seek to humiliate? How can my loving Father inspire me to choose to shove my brothers and sisters into the mud?”

I read that and cringe because my heart remembers it vividly. Facebook Memories won’t let me forget. I used to vent a lot on social media–about a situation or a viewpoint or an oft-used phrase–in a way that made my thoughts clear: “those people” were idiots and I was far superior.

[I grew up using sarcasm in a good-natured way, but I never saw how harmful it could be. Sarcasm is not meant to be used in anger and frustration. It more than bruises. It cuts. It leaves scars.]

So the glimpses people caught of me was that I was a Christian (because I’d of course post about love and forgiveness in between my tirades) and that I had no mercy for people who acted in a way that bothered me. No forgiveness for those who offended me, even accidentally.  No love for my brothers and sisters. No love for the world.

Unkind words and cynicism were what I had to offer. And because I called myself Christian, that was a reflection on my Savior. A blight on His perfect example.

So I saw my note this morning, then this afternoon I read this word from Jesus:

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” Matthew 5:21-22

You idiot. You waste of brain matter. Get off the road if you can’t drive. You good-for-nothing. You fool.

That’s what was spilling out of my heart. Animosity toward people I didn’t even know. Words that would make some of those people crawl under the rug in shame if they heard it, probably thinking the same about themselves. Disappointment. Good-for-nothing. Fool.

I am guilty.

But because God is full of grace and mercy, he revealed my bitterness to me. He shined a light upon the expertly ignored poisonous recesses of my heart. He cleansed me and forgave me. He still forgives me when I slip. In my car. Fool.” Amid gossip, when I should have fled but stayed & joined in. “Good-for-nothing.”

Father, forgive me. Give me your patience and mercy. Give me your eyes for those I would put down. In the pit of my heart from which ugly words used to spring forth, pour compassionate prayers instead. Help me to lift up my neighbor rather than to put him down.


PS: When you feel that feeling–you know, the one that you’ve come to recognize as God’s tug on your heart–move. Move and don’t stop moving until you have accomplished what He called you to do. I almost didn’t write this because my various apps weren’t working. My internet was dead slow. My Bible verse wouldn’t pull up properly on my phone. So I asked God if He didn’t want me to write this, or if the enemy didn’t want it–and I felt that feeling. So I asked God to open the way because this was His work–and here I am. Move and don’t stop moving.

Refine – Five Minute Friday

OK, go! Five minutes can seem like an excruciatingly long time, or like the blink of an eye, depending on the activity you’re engaged in. This is my first time participating in Five Minute Friday, and I can be long winded–in a good way, I tell myself–so actually finishing this in 5 minutes will be a marvel.

Anastastia is always refining her smile.

Refine generally means to make better or to to perfect. I love seeking different definitions by looking at the Spanish translation of the word & its definitions. I found “perfeccionar”, which corroborated the English definition, along with an extra: “tweak.”

Tweak slingshots my mind into the movie You’ve Got Mail, as Tom Hanks’ character is trying to make his move in secret. Preparing Meg Ryan’s character to find out that he loves her. Great movie. Great word.

Tweaking sets the tone that you’re making something just slightly different, to your liking. Not to make it “perfect like all others.” Just unique. Yours.

MY FIVE MINUTES ARE UP. But I shall continue til I finish my thought.

But there was another definition in that good ol’ WordReference. To conclude; to finish.

We’re always thinking about ways to improve our physique; to better our attitudes; to perfect our Mom routine, our grade average, our pickup line. But how often do we truly seek with all our hearts to bring a task to conclusion? Imperfections & tweaks aside, we need to cross more finish lines.

It’s a peaceful feeling. And isn’t that what each of us is ultimately looking for?


Life Continued

Speaking of new…


Fresh start. Clean slate. Whole new year. New Year’s Resolution.

They all have the same root feeling–the same aim. Yet that last one leaves a bitter taste behind. Because of so many broken “This year I promise to…”s in the past. Goals missed. Weight not lost. Beautiful instruments in the closet, gathering dust. Relationships unmended. Why should this year’s vow be any different?

It should be different because today…is not the first of the year. Today is not the beginning of 2017; not the idealized clean slate waiting impatiently for a perfect story to be etched into it. Today is a regular, Plain Jane Sunday. The 15th–the Ides, perhaps, but not of March so not too demanding–of January. There are, however, 365 days between today and next year on this day.

You have a year to plan better; to get organized; to reach a goal; to transform your life; but without the pressure of “In 2017 I will _____” hanging over your head.

Wait. It gets better. You have every new day to do thatI have every new day to do that. Every morning I wake up, I can decide to change something. Or I can decide to ignore that urge to make life better. And every day I don’t manage to move forward, I can forgive myself & try again in the morning.

Change doesn’t require a shiny new year. It just requires that you continue life with a fresh perspective. Heart anew with hope & joy. Hands tingling with motivation to act.

Today–my average, everyday Sunday–it struck me that I don’t take a day to rest. A Sabbath. I work or do things I don’t enjoy every.  Day.  Of the week. That’s nuts. How can I expect to be rested doing life like this? How can I expect myself to put on my shiny Mama cape & my fit-like-a-glove Wife gloves every day if I don’t allow myself to rest? (Don’t dis my lack of descriptive creativity there. Men get Dad jokes. Let me have this. I’ve been low on sleep for the past 28 months.)

This next part…it stings. I don’t have a Sabbath because I’m too lazy to accomplish all I need to during the rest of the week.

Ouch. Lazy Mama? Me? But I work hard.

…don’t I?

I look around at my four baskets of unfolded clean laundry and my basket & a half of folded-for-two-days-and-still-not-in-drawers laundry…and I see it. I’m caught up on my favorite Netflix & Hulu shows, but my house looks much like my high school bedroom did: everything out & nothing where it belongs.

I don’t want to run my home like this. I don’t want to buy the same item 3 times because I can’t find the 2 we already own, buried under piles of laundry & stuffed animals & junk mail that should have been tossed last week.

I want peace in my home. I want to be able to sip hot tea in my living room & feel joy watching my babies play because there’s a CLEAN FLOOR with room for their active imaginations & feet. I want to greet my husband at the door with a kiss & a smile, not frustration after my fresh-on-his-feet toddler (he’s close guys–he’s so close and he only really started crawling 2 weeks ago) has shuffled every item we own from its home room to the kitchen because nothing was put away.

I want love to rule in my home, with all the I Corinthians 13 adjectives that go along with it. That takes work. That means I need to be awake & moving at an hour I never wanted to see during my teen years. Daily love & peace & joy in my home requires ME to make a change; to make a promise; to wake up every morning ready to make good choices for my family and go to bed every night willing to confess my failures of the day to my family & to God, knowing I get the grace to give it another go in the morning.

Today, on the Ides of January, I promise to live intentionally, with so many goals in mind I couldn’t possibly name them all. To boil it down: I promise to put my all into making myself better by seeking who I am in God’s eyes and to create a safe haven in my home & in my heart so I can provide that same warmth to everyone in my life, even if they never cross our door’s threshold.

Life keeps me busy, but not busy enough to stop me from the important things. And this is important. It’s time to act. It’s time to continue life, renewed.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

A Note to Would-Have-Been Mothers

Good morning. Today–in Kansas, at least–is beautiful & bright, with blue skies for miles. As I work a typical 8-5 job, I was driving this morning as the sun continued to rise, casting its rays among the puffy pure white clouds, shining desperately behind them, awaiting its chance to rise above and be seen in its fullness.

These mornings remind us of the beauty this world contains, hidden just behind a cloud; just beyond the next week; just around the river bend! (For my fellow Disney enthusiasts.)

Hidden…just inside a perfect womb.

I know you are tired of seeing your Facebook bombarded by your conservative friends’ posts about the evil of Planned Parenthood.

I know you hate that we call abortion evil.

I can’t & won’t say that I believe killing an infant is anything but evil.

But please know that I don’t believe you are evil, beautiful woman with a past. Beautiful woman with a broken heart.

We are angry at Planned Parenthood & all abortion clinics for lying to the women of this world; for telling women that this probably is their best option; that this is merciful to their child growing inside. A child wholly dependent on you, beautiful mother.

We are angry & disheartened at the lack of compassion & initiative from the citizens & the leaders of our country to try tostop this staggering wrong that we can never truly right.

But please understand, we are not angry with you for an act in your past that you can’t change, no matter how desperately you want to. We ache with you for what cannot be taken back, for a life never experienced.

I’m not ignorant–I know some people are angry with you. Some absolutely have nothing but contempt for anyone associated with abortion.

Many of us, however, shed tears for you. Not just for your lost baby, but for you & what you have lost.

You have lost thousands of gifts all wrapped up in one beautiful package that fits in the crook of your arm. You have lost the incredible love without restrictions that your child would have gifted you with every day. And that loss is worth my tears.

With salty streaks down my cheeks, I watch you struggle on your own with a secret, gut-wrenching burden. I wait for you with open arms. I wait for that moment you’ll allow yourself to be forgiven, allow yourself to even begin to seek forgiveness. Because–beautiful, broken sister–you deserve forgiveness & joy.

God has never said otherwise. He has been holding his forgiveness out to you since the second you slowly slid off the exam table, but you turned the other way to hide your face.

And the church has done a poor job in continuing to offer forgiveness & grace for your pain & confusion, and for that I am sorry. I am sorry we preach forgiveness & offer you only an ashamed sideways glance. You deserve more.

God & I both wait for the moment when you’ll rise above your clouds & shine again, clear & bright once more. A flawless part of the beauty revealed in every morning.

Beautiful Aspiration

Every few months, I’m reminded of how hard it can be to re-forge good habits.

Daily washing dishes, since we don’t have a dishwasher anymore.
Cloth diapering on the weekends, because let’s face it: young families have to budget.
Washing my face every morning & evening. (Every mama out there knows that in the daily list of to-dos, this often falls by the wayside.)
Morning oil pulling, ’cause it worked wonders on my sinuses.
Daily time, set aside specifically for me & God to get together. It’s paramount to all other good habits, but is one of the most difficult to get started. (Time? Who has time? MAKE TIME, WOMAN.)

Ahhh writing. That thing. The reason I signed up for WordPress’ Writing 101 course. The push behind my previous (long, long ago) blog post.

I love writing.

But I love writing only when I’m in the groove of writing. The thought of creating a simple blog post when I’ve been out of the game for a while feels nearly as daunting to me as that first 10-page research paper feels to most high schoolers.

This is more of a touching base, letting you know my family and I are still alive post.

Speaking of base, we recently moved into a (rental, but beautiful) 1920s house with a healthy year-long lease. A whole year in one place! A home base. I’m ecstatic.

Since having our daughter Anastasia at the end of Sept. 2014, we have moved three times.

THREE, guys. That’s just not healthy.

I’ll spare you the details of why because I’m long winded by nature. Suffice it to say that we now believe the realtor (same for both previous houses) uses some sketchy tactics. The end.

God provides, and that is what I choose to glean from the whole situation. He provides more with each grain of faith we put in Him. Maybe someday I’ll have an entire Kansas wheat field full of golden grains of faith, up against a Kansas blue sky, streaked with Kansas storm clouds.

Isn’t that a beautiful aspiration?

Kansas Wheat Storm

New Mama Lens

I’m a new mama.

That one sentence changed 100% of my life, in one way or another. (By the way, how long do we get to claim we are “new” at this?)

My husband and I have a beautiful 9-month-old daughter, full to the brim with ornery grins and spunky giggles that melt my heart in a millisecond. Though I’ve cared for her and prayed for her for over 9 months, she’s just starting to learn how to be a little person* in this world–learning from me and her daddy. She’s learning how to be a person…from me? I’m not even the person I want to be yet. I can’t teach her to be a little me that I don’t even like!

But, I don’t get a choice in the matter. She’s growing and learning, ready or not. And she will learn from me and her daddy. Every little word we say, she’ll memorize. Every one: the incredibly inspiring as well as the exceedingly ugly. So what can I do?

I can grow into the woman I was created to be. A woman I would be proud to see my daughter mimic.

I want this blog to turn into a guide; a memoir; a reflection of my journey as motherhood shapes me, smooths my rough edges, and buffs me until I reflect the love my daughter (and heavenly Father) lavish on me.

I could keep a private journal, and one day I might start a quiet time journal. I wish I had started one when I first discovered I was pregnant. (Boy, what a lot has changed since then!) But I have read in the past year or so countless blogs from articulate, engaging women who use their voices to encourage mothers: new, used, and vintage mother. They live their imperfect lives full of tantrums and kisses and broken baby hearts and forgiveness and share those moments with us; they regale us with tales that leave us in tears–fairy tales of their princesses with flowing hair–and hair chopped short with baby fingers clasped around a pair a scissors–and suspense stories of adventurous little boys (who thankfully God blessed with noggins of steel); they stumble and reach out for our hands to lift them to their feet, all the while offering us their own hands in prayer.

I want to give back to those ladies. I want to connect. I want to be an encourager; a co-griever; a tale-weaver; a sometimes pitiful mama who screws up but continues to seek after God and accept his forgiveness and grace, in order to teach my darling daughter by example.

I don’t promise this will be strictly a “Mama Blog” or a “Devotional Blog” or necessarily to have a single theme at all. I just promise to be honest as I share my struggling growth as a mother, a wife, and a daughter of God.


Megan K. Allison

We always hang out in the nursery Sunday morning before church.
We always hang out in the nursery Sunday morning before church.

*PS: Shout-out to my lovely mother-of-three friend Sarah for the use of “growing into a little person.” If she had a blog I would link to it.