Friday, August 24, 2012

Believing that Less Really is More


I remember the day we walked in.  We’d signed the paperwork, the keys were ours, and we opened the door to a new construction so new it had plastic covering the freshly laid carpets and nothing but dirt in the yard.

“Pretty good for a first house,” I said to my mother-in-law.

“Pretty good for a third house, I’d say.”

I smiled but was honestly thinking that she was off her rocker. 

Had she seen the houses people live in now-a-days?  Times are changing.

My husband and I, along with our family and friends, started building sweat equity.  We painted the walls and transformed empty space into a lived in home.  At least the upper level.

Compared to our apartment, it felt grand.

After years of waiting and negative pregnancy tests, a second line finally appeared.  We emptied the second room of boxes and in its place put a crib and changing table and a whole lot of baby gear for a tiny little person.  A person we couldn’t wait to hold.

Grace arrived and construction on the lower level began.  Mostly completed by my hubby and loved ones, the space was incredible and we finished with no mounted debt.  Two adults and a tiny person made our house feel like a castle…and we rested.

Eventually God blessed us with baby number two and just a little over a year ago girl number three.  As our hearts burst at the seams with love it seemed that our house was beginning to burst at the seams with space. 

And the verbage began. “In our next house I’d like…” “We could aim to move in ___ years ….”

Both of us began dreaming of the bigger and seemingly better.  And we rested in our plans.

And then new things happened.  Our World Vision child became self sufficient and we cried at the good-bye, surprised even ourselves by how much we’d loved her.  (I’ll have to introduce you all to our new little Nayely sometime.  What a doll!)  We took some small trips as a family that still stretched the family budget and we cherished the opportunity.  We started taking advantage of the walk from our house to the nearby school, pool, and library, now that our kids are old enough to enjoy them.

And God started sending me new messages.

 

New conversations started.


This month marks 10 years in our home.  If we stay here we can have it completely paid off when we are fifty.  With the addition of one wall down stairs each girl could have her own room and a few somewhat miniscule style changes could change my little annoyances.

Is bigger really better? God challenged me.

And I’m certain the answer is no.

There is nothing wrong with square footage and I’m not saying we will for sure never move, but I am saying that He has worked a revelation in my heart.

On a small scale, our location is unbeatable and more space really equates to more to clean, which I can’t claim to love.  But, on a much bigger scale, the concept of paying the house off young means more opportunity down the road for travel and charitable giving.  It means opportunities with the kids that would be impossible with a larger house payment and the opportunity to instill in them the joy and value of humble living. It means thinking less about ourselves and more for others.  And, in the process, we are actually happier.

I don’t think when my kids graduate they will look back and say, “I really wish we had a 3 stall garage” or “My life would’ve been so much more if only I’d have had a walk in closet.”  They will remember road trips and dance and games of Qwirkle around the dining room table.  They’ll smile about  indoor picnics on family movie night and reading mail from Nayely in the kitchen and family prayers at bedtime and daily shared meals

 

Because even cheesy potatoes bring great happiness. J  {Grace’s teacher sent me this picture and I couldn’t stop laughing.}
 
They will remember what was done in the living quarters they had…not how much of it was there.

So God has given us new rest. 

Ironically, this plan gives me more excitement than the idea of moving.  We will build memories rather than space.  We’ll stand on His foundation rather than that built by man. And we will appreciate this house which holds memory of all that He has given us and all that He wants us to give.

For the first time, I wholeheartedly believe that less really is more.


Shared at She Reads Truth, The Better Mom, Titus 2sday, Raising Homemakers, WLWW

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our Argus Star

With Grace starting first grade this week and Hannah preparing for preschool, Ava wanted her spot in the sun and, boy oh boy, did she get it!

The temperatures are finally below sizzling so we went for a playdate at the park.  While there, she went down the slide by herself



and neared the bottom looking like Don King!  It's pretty safe to say there was a little static issue going on. :)

I took a picture on Instagram (@MelissaNesdahl) and hashtagged it #sodaksummer.  The Argus Leader is running a really fun Instagram photo gallery of summer moments from around the state.  If you haven't checked it out, you should.  There are nearly 1,400 photos that really emulate the "Great faces, Great places" South Dakota slogan.  Included are breathtaking sunsets, gorgeous attractions, special family/friend moments and more...like babies with crazy hair on the city slides.

To my surprise, Ava's picture appeared in today's print paper. 



It had to make a lot people laugh.  That is one cute, crazy lookin' baby! :)

If you are an area reader, add your summer IG moments (through Sept 21) to the growing gallery.  It'll remind you of the beauty and joy our great state has to offer.  Otherwise, I hope you got a good giggle out of our wee one!

Shared at Life Rearranged


Monday, August 20, 2012

We Have a {First} "Grader"

Today our sweet Grace woke up filled with excitement.

Because today she started first grade!

She got on this most adorable outfit


that she picked from Gymboree.

And strapped on her new Pinkalicious backpack


to head (hand in hand with Hannah) to the flag raising ceremony.

Since I'm a writer, I love that she picked a backpack based off a book series she likes. :)

Inside her lunch box was, of course, her first lunch box love note of the year from us.


We've been praying for Grace's (then unknown) first grade teacher ever since kindergarten started nearing an end.  We loved her kindergarten teacher  and the idea of saying goodbye was tough, but God gives new beginnings and we are really excited about what He has in store.  Her teacher is a wonderful, faith-filled woman whose calm spirit, humbleness, and love of kids makes me smile in her presence.  And, she has a strong skill set in areas we want Grace to remain challenged.  We feel extremely blessed.

When we had the open house last week she won over the kids' hearts


with these adorable candy welcomes on their very first desk.

As we walked around the room, I remembered a conversation from last year that made me grin.  We'd gone to the zoo with some great friends the week before school started. 

Austin asked Grace, "What grade you going to be in?"
"Kindergarten," she responded.
"Oh, I'm going to be a first grader."
"What's a 'grader'?", Grace wanted to know.
"Basically it's a kid with a locker."

I laughed at the innocense of children who measure transitions not by new academic markers but new stuff.  So, here you are Grace. Your first locker (last year was open cubbies).


Welcome to being a "grader." 

Continue to love God most, be nice to everyone, always try your best, and know that we are proud of you!

Shared at MODSquad, Life Rearranged

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grill Theme Party



Today my man turned thirty three.  This is a particularly momentous birthday in our house because we started dating at 16, meaning we've now been together over half of our life.  I don't take one single day for granted with this AMAZING husband and father.  He is a gift from above.

To celebrate, we had a grill theme party.  We grilled burgers and had corn on the cob and I made a cupcake cake to replicate it. I'm not going to lie.  I was pretty impressed with myself. :)

My calendar features different cupcake cakes and this month was corn on the cob like this.  That served as a springboard for the party.  I chose to modify it a little and rather than using jellybeans for corn kernels the girls and I cut the yellow ends off of candy corn. {The rest is yellow cake cupcakes with yellow frosting in a yellow paper cupcake liner.  The "butter" is a Starburst candy.}

 

It has a more authentic look.

Then I played on words for the fun birthday sign.

For the burgers, I simply cut the yellow cake cupcakes in half and placed a slice of chocolate down for the burger and used the same yellow vanilla frosting that I used to ice the corn cupcakes as cheese.



These were surprisingly yummy. I was admittedly leary of cupcakes with no icing on the top.  It just seemed wrong.

Then, we played a game.  To further play on words, I explained to the girls that grill can also mean ask a lot of questions and we made up a "Grill Me" game where they got to ask daddy 33 questions...anything they wanted.



Their questions ranged from "What is your favorite Bible verse?" to "What would you do if a live pig chased you?"  This game even ended up being semi-informational for me when I found out he's been on 42 total plane rides and made me smile when he told them his favorite thing about Valentine's Day was having a date with me.

To end the night, he opened up a homemade card from Grace with a picture of the new grill he is getting for his birthday.  The grill master needs more burners to accomodate his growing family.  :)  There were only two of us when he got the first one.

It was a great night celebrating an incredible man we are all blessed to love.  Happy birthday, Charlie!

Shared at Craftionary, Six Sisters Stuff, Tasty Thursday, The Better Mom, Pintastic Monday, Titus2sdays, Raising Homemakers, WLWW, Kelly's Korner

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's About Your Heart, Not Your Look

Every night before the children go to bed all of us gather in the older girls' room and we pray as a family - each taking turns lifting thanks and placing confidence in the God who sustains us.  Much like the family table, this is a moment I cherish.  It binds us together in a moment that matters most.

I have to admit, when Grace was a baby and Charlie and I started this tradition, I thought it would make me a good example.  I wanted the children to see that talking to God was important to us and hoped that in modeling that they would find it important too.

But last night, our four year old modeled something that inspired me.

As we sat together and bowed our head, I looked up to this



Hannah was earnestly speaking to Jesus... in a snorkel mask.

At first, I just thought it was funny.  And then I realized there was profound truth in this moment.

God just wants our hearts.  He doesn't care what we look like.

I've always known this to be true, but there are moments where I still get caught up in the bow my head, fold my hands, say the words, look serious for the prayer significant. 

And that limits my prayerful moments.

The sweet innocence of my four year old is a precious reminder that it is about coming to Him moment to moment just as we are that makes for a fulfilling 24/7 relationship. 




The kind we need to thrive.

So throw away the pretenses and commune with Him.  It's gotta make Him smile.

Shared at Faith Filled Friday, She Reads Truth, A Holy Experience

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hyndrangeas & the Family Table


They sit atop my dining room table, large and commanding.  As I work to load the dishwasher, my eye is stolen by their beauty.


These hydrangeas, cut from my mom’s garden, seem to force a smile from my lips as they steal me from my work.

I love this seasonal dining room d├ęcor.

You’ll recall my desire to be a better gardener because I sense God’s presence there.  The brief update would be an epic flop on my end with the gold star going to my hubby who continues to nurture our flowers to mature beauty that I’ve fully enjoyed. 

Better luck next year, I tell myself.

In the meantime, our garden grows gorgeous and my mom’s backyard simply takes my breath away.  If Better Homes and Gardens knew her address, they’d be upset about what they were missing.  It’s spectacular.

When she offered the hydrangeas, I couldn’t turn them down.  After all, I loved them.  And, who doesn’t enjoy free center pieces?

But I sensed God telling me there was more to this infatuation.

Weird, I know, why would God care to teach me anything in dining room decorating?

Still, the computer beckoned me and I gaped at my discovery.


My mind goes back to our family table.  A red table cloth and fun new dishes accent simple pieces of wood making ordinary space sacred. 



Sometimes the meals are fanciful and other times they are as basic as humanly possible



But a visual reminder to the children that they are loved.

We fight for this family table. 

Every Sunday when the kids have fallen asleep my husband and I look over the week’s calendar.  We discuss when he has work meetings, my bible study, the kids’ activities, volunteer commitments, and social gatherings.  And using that information, we plan meals that will accommodate our schedule – slow cooker when the night is shorter so precious family time doesn’t have to be spent preparing, grilling on opportune days, etc. – so that we can sit around this table together each night.

Family table is important.  To our kids it screams family solidarity.  To my hubby and I, it affords time to share heartfelt emotions.  We laugh.  We talk about things that went well and things we wish would have gone differently.  We share dreams and encourage one another.

We cherish this time.

And, as I close the computer, I realize that there is so much to these hydrangeas than simple beauty.  They stand for all this dining room table represents.

It is a space where we come together to understand each other’s hearts and build each other up in the Lord.  In the process, relationships are fortified and memories are made.

Thank you, God. There isn’t gratitude enough….

I will always fight for family table.  And hydrangeas just became one of my favorite flowers. J


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ever Questioned God's Will for Your Life?

Me too.



Have you been overthinking it as well?

Don't be so busy looking for a sign that you miss 
delighting in the One with all the answers.


Shared at She Reads Truth
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