The Gift of Friendship and Less is More!

 This past weekend we were so blessed to have dear friends from Chicago visit us! I have said so many times that we met the most amazing people while we were there who were like family to us in a season where we didn’t have any close by.

This couple is an example of that!!

This is Ben and Emily. Emily and I are always saying, “My Ben” or “Your Ben” to keep them straight:) And that adorable sturdy 2 year old is “Baby” Caleb, whom I had the honor of babysitting all of last year! How is he not a baby anymore??? And now he has a baby brother! “Wa-wa,” as Caleb affectionately calls him. Otherwise known as Joshua:)

We have missed them so much this past year and it just felt like home spending time with them this weekend. We talked and laughed and teased each other. Got in baby snuggles, ate Der Dutchman, watched baby goats play, played games, oooh, and enjoyed deep dish pizza personally delivered all the way from Chicago!!

What a gift and treasure is a friendship like this. When they left, we were all teary and Eliana went inside and burst into tears. She cried and cried for at least 10 minutes and we all just sat, Ben and I doling out hugs and feeling the sadness ourselves of saying goodbye to people we hold so dear in our hearts.  Ugh, we hate goodbyes! We love you, Lovaasens!!

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It was kind of hard to jump back into busy life again today after the weekend but we had no choice! Back to school and work and busyness. I took 2 full van loads of stuff over to my mom’s today for our upcoming garage sale! You wouldn’t believe all of the things that I have been able to sort through and get rid of!

So, I “cheated” and skipped ahead in my May Minimalist Game. Yeah, yeah, I know. I couldn’t stop myself and got too excited once I got on a roll. Ready for the current tally? (Drum roll, please!!)

So far, I have gotten rid of 378 things!! That’s almost completely through 27 days in May!! Once I got going, it was actually really easy to keep going. I have tossed, recycled, donated and added to my sell pile furiously over the past 2 weeks. We were to the point of barely being able to get through the basement at all until I took some of it out today. I am SO ridiculously excited to have the garage sale. Call me a nerd!

I am already feeling the effects of less clutter and an easier maintenance. I am excited to show you some final pics, once we get rid of some pieces of furniture this weekend and repurpose some others. I am looking forward to my “home makeover:)” Less is More!!

Most of all, I feel such a peace about letting go of things that I have been hanging on tightly to and being able to share this journey with my family and get them to start contemplating all of this. I have had some really good conversations with Ben and the kids at various times over this simplifying process. I truly see it as a gift!

Happy Monday!

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SisterChicks

 We are trying to be a little more intentional about filling our family time on the weekends with special moments; not just hanging around doing nothing. Although that is fun sometimes, too! Today we took a trip to Hobby Lobby and picked out a few little accessories for Eliana’s dollhouse and a couple small paint by numbers for the boys for a few dollars. They have been working on them all afternoon!

Ben and I were sitting on the couch reading and having a moment of laziness (see, I said it was good sometimes!) and we were listening to the boys talk and giggle over their time playing Mario Kart. They were describing all their races in detail and just having the most fun being downright silly.

All of the sudden, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I thought to myself, “What a perfect moment to capture between my sweet boys. Friends. Buddies.” And so I did!

I love these two! In the kitchen a little bit ago Zakkai said to Ben, “It’s weird how I look like both of you.” Ben said, “How do you think you look like both of us?” Zakkai said, “Well, my face and my neck look like mommy,” and then he waved his arm from his mid-chest down and said, “And from here down, I look like you!” haha!

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As you may know, we are huge readers in our family, a gift Ben and I are thrilled to pass on to our kids. My sister and I were talking the other day about how we were so thankful that the love for reading was passed onto all of us growing up. All 5 of us love to read!

A series that I just love that captures my heart for a few reasons are the “Sisterchicks” books by Robin Jones Gunn. From the first one I read, I was enthralled and recently I requested all of them from the library. They just came in yesterday and I am finished with two already! (I may not have mentioned that we all also have the gift of reading ridiculously fast!)

There are three things I love about these books. (Be prepared for a little heart-share here or quit reading if you’d like to avoid vulnerability. My specialty!)

One, the women in these books have a friendship that I crave and long for. Her definition of a Sisterchick: “A friend who laughs with you till you cry and cries with you till you laugh; a gift from God.” I have noticed especially lately that I really stink at friendship. I used to be so much better about giving of myself and pouring into friendship but over these last barren years of survival, I kind of folded up inside myself and became comfortably uncomfortable in my isolation and insecure in what I have to offer in a friendship. I find myself very unsure of what people think of me and assume that once they get to know me, they will see what a mess I can be and not want to waste their time. To have a friend that would love me for who I am and encourage me to grow and become a better person and who would open up enough for me to love with the same depth would be an honor. An incredible gift.

Two, they are always traveling to a different country in each book and I would give anything to be able to spend time in these countries! But most of all, to have the experiences they have traveling with a Sisterchick friend.

And three, the women in the book always have some eye-opening experience or quiet moment where God breathes new life into their hearts, that are, for different reasons, closed from pain or hurt or the neglect of time. The quiet beauty in which God speaks to them and renews their sense of belonging, purpose and feelings of being loved and cherished is something my heart cries out for. If I was able to fully cast off the lies of my earthly father who hammered into me that I was not good enough and truly accepted the love of my heavenly Father, it would probably help a lot with the whole insecurity/ friendship thing. Healing comes in stages and with every stage, the healing goes a little deeper. I wonder if I will be experiencing that for the rest of my life…

I will leave you with a recap of something one of the characters said to her friend in my most recent read. She said, “You were not meant to carry loss/grief/sadness as if it were your own heavy burden to bear. Give the burden back to God and keep giving it back until you have no more grief in your heart to hand over to Him. Then wait and see what gift He places in your empty hands.”

Yes. That is what I want. A Sisterchick friend. To travel. But most of all to be able to fully give my sadness and pain and even my insecurity to the Lord and have Him fill my empty hands with Him and to be fully surrounded with and loved by Him.

To feel wanted. To feel loved. To be known by our Creator. Isn’t that what we all really want?