Hi, I’m Danica.

I guess I’m a lot of things: a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a crafter, a cook, a reader, a writer, a homemaker, a pianist, and probably a lot more too. But at the end of the day, I’m just a Christian trying to find and obey God’s will.

spirit-led school days Jan 29

Routine and I have a strange, love-hate relationship. If I’m being positive, I call myself Spirit-led. Other times, I just think I’m a pendulum-swinger. I’m learning from my tendencies toward the latter, and allowing it to be molded more and more into the former — this is the work of God in my life, leading me as a Good Shepherd.

We have our schedule. It’s posted in plain sight. It was thought about, long and hard, the result of prayer and pondering. But it is a tool, in the end. It is not our master.

In September, stirring everyone with an exhortation to be “up and at ‘em” is altogether fitting and even fun. By the end of January, the constraints of climate seem to just beg for more fluidity inside. And so it is required of me that I learn to observe needs, act as guide and not sergeant, hold big picture in mind and enjoy the twists and turns that it takes to get there.

Take now, for instance:

Morning chores amounted to a bit of tidying and taking care of laundry. I’ve been poking away at tidying my room, but really, spending more time sitting on the edge of my bed in prayer for this one and that one, and dreaming with a friend via the internet about future homes.

The boys woke up with a big Lego plan, and you know what? That doesn’t happen often. So I set aside the school plans I’d written for the morning, told them to turn on an educational CD they received for Christmas, and play their hearts out. They will be there for hours, slowly assembling Star Wars ships, pausing regularly to listen to the familiar stories of Boston Tea Parties and First Continental Congresses.

Girls are at the table coloring, after playing Peter and the Wolf for awhile (where Peter looked an awful lot like a baby doll who was rescued by her mama from a fox?)

We need this time. We all do.

And as I learn to keep big picture in mind, and am led by a Shepherd as I lead my little lambs, I regularly am amazed to find that He knows how to get it “all” done. Sometimes doing it His way requires being fully engaged for more hours than I would like, letting the day creep into evening hours rather than being tidily finished and wrapped with a bow at 4:30. That’s okay. I have not died yet from too much noise and activity, although I’ve come close at times (can you say stimulus overload?)

There are plenty of days when the chief exercise is learning to do what we must do whether we want to or not. There are plenty of “work hard and fast” hours, followed by “here’s your list of school work, now do it” mornings and afternoons. But then there are these moments, too, when I realize that He knows how to fit in the special things:

a baby who snuck away from me, a brother who loves to read to his sisters

General Washington and Alexander Hamilton planning an attack

early morning company, enjoying the rare treat of looking at family photos

Liberty’s Kids, in a new (therefore fun) spot.

impromptu “school” project with my big girl

living truth Jan 27

Carolyn Mahaney writes:

But we must not succumb to despair or low-grade guilt [over our failures]. This maligns the gospel and does not produce the fruit of repentance or serve our children. Rather we must return to Scripture. We must remind ourselves of the truth that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness, that He is busy conforming us to the image of His Son, and that He works all things (even our mothering failures!) for our good and the good of our children.

I have been thinking much about living a gospel that is consistent with what I preach. A conviction to preach with my life—transmitting faith by how I actually believe, by what I actually lean the weight of my life upon. A heavenly Father who sees, provides, and is enough and so much more; a Healer who hears, cares, and touches; a Savior who takes stone and gives flesh, delivers from dark into light and freedom; a Helper whose constant presence brings joy and hope in and above every circumstance. This is who I believe God to be on paper. And it’s who I want my children to know! And so, my life… Oh, God, let my daily, moment by moment love for You paint a picture that is real, powerful, and faithful to the testimony of my lips and of Your word.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! How blessed is the man who trusts in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.”

More than words. May my decisions—what I will say, how I will feel, what I will do—point to Jesus. A big Jesus. A glorious Jesus.

time out. Jan 26

I am trying, once again, to get outside with the kids each afternoon. Some days it doesn’t work. Some days I just don’t want to. But the boys love when I go out with them, even it’s just me pulling on my boots and yelling, “Okay, who wants to tromp through the field with me?” And Beatrice would live outside if she could. “Snow Mountain,” the huge pile created by the snowplow each year, is her favorite place in the world right now.

I’m not really an outdoorsy type: I don’t own hiking boots or even sneakers, I don’t ski or canoe. But is there a category of outdoorsy that just needs to breathe fresh air and see vast sky every day, and thinks a great afternoon is one spent walking for miles? Because that’s me. And so this time outside, even if it means giving up a shower or another load of laundry done or whatever, it’s good for them and it’s good for me.

Today we missed it; sick boy and sleeping baby and such. So I’m looking at vast sky via pictures. Reliving the joy of snow angels. Remembering the thrill of following bunny tracks and deer tracks and bird tracks and others we don’t know. We have so much fun.

babies grow, what do ya know Jan 17

Ryan said, at dinner on December 31st, so how was your year? William happily recollected every single event — from the week before. I laughed, but who am I to laugh? I can’t recall much more than that without significant effort.

Until I turn to glance at the pig-tailed girl beside me, laughing along with the rest of us. Suddenly I realize how much a year can hold.

She was just this last January:

She had the biggest year of all. She

– learned to sit
– learned to roll like a pro
– learned to crawl
– learned to stand
– learned to walk
– learned to run
– started to eat “real” food
– learned to say Mama, Da, Boo[k]
– learned to relocate a hundred small objects every single day from one end of the house to the opposite end

So that now, I look up and see this:

Kind of amazing. A miracle happening right under my nose.

I saw these pics as I organized my albums the other night. Fiona on the go. Each one of these shots makes me chuckle: short legs, little arms, funny faces. Little tiny person, but oh, every bit a person.

“I’m so grown up” face

busy little legs, tiny toes

hand! ack!

soft, sweet arm. she’s so big. so little.

I love this Fiona Elspeth.

molasses spice crinkles with chocolate chips Jan 16

I’ve been wanting to try a ginger spiced cookie with cocoa and chocolate chips, so today’s efforts turned out these, based on Baking Illustrated’s Molasses Spice Cookies.

Note: I used very black molasses and the end result was a fairly strong flavor. Use mild molasses if that’s not your thing! Also, I always substitute raw sugar or evaporated cane juice for granulated sugar.

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c cocoa (I used Dutch)
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
12 Tbsp soft butter
1/3 c packed dark brown sugar
1/3 c granulated sugar, plus 1/3 c for rolling
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c molasses
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl.
3. In large bowl (with wooden spoon or electric mixer), beat butter with brown sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar at hight speed until fluffy and light. Add yolk and vanilla; beat until incorporated. Add molasses; beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture and beat just until mixed. Add chips.
4. Mix 1/3 c granulated sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon in shallow bowl. With damp hands, roll a heaping Tbsp of cookie dough into 1 1/2″ ball; roll in sugar mixture. Place 2″ apart on greased sheet (or silpat; I love mine!).
5. Bake about 11 minutes, till set but still soft. Don’t over bake!

Serve with cold milk. Your kids will beam and your husband will say, “This is fun! I like cookies and milk. I should sell these!”

wrapping up Christmas. Jan 15

I finally got all Christmas photos moved to flickr, which was really just an excuse to savor one more time the special moments of that most special month. Thankful once again for my family, for having been taught to make Christmas special for my little clan, for a Savior to celebrate and exalt and make much of.

So, this. The last of my Christmas photos from 2014. Relived once more, and now tucked away for future late-night blog-wanderings when I’m wondering where the moments and years disappeared to.

“Christmas Eve Eve” sleep under the tree.

Christmas Eve morning, excitedly set up by Jameson

Her very first at-the-table setting. She was very happy with herself!

Beatrice at Christmas Eve dinner

My sister’s Christmas Eve centerpiece — well, one of them, anyway. We’re a houseful!

Candlelight Service. Beautiful.

Eggnog and Cookie party!

Intently sipping. I love that bow!

Cookies. Waiting for presents!

This pretty girl. And no other photos of Christmas Eve garb. I almost burst into tears when they put on their new pi’s, and I realized we would never have a photo of them all dressed.

Tree, ready.

New doll things

Fiona got her very own baby doll

Afternoon and evening at my parents’, eating and playing games.

Christmas Night. The aftermath.

And the best Day After ever: new flannel pajamas and new toys and Mama vacuuming to her heart’s content.

Deep sigh. Deep smile. Deep thankfulness for it all.

Back to the bins, absorbed into the toys, tossed into the hamper, vacuumed and dragged out to the field it all goes. And yet, not quite. Those memories, that investment, this pause becomes knit into who we are.

Until next year,