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.

Easter Apr 6

Another month, gone.

March flew faster than I had time to even realize. According to photos, there were innumerable sick days, basketball games, watching wildlife from the windows, dinners consisting of comfort food, boys performing, and… that’s pretty much it.

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And this past week, there was the Resurrection to celebrate.

Food,

Reflection,

The boys’ first Seder,

Clothes and table,

Fiona’s first basket of goodies,

Family time after church.

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A truly special celebration. An annual hard-stop that my soul really benefits from. We push pause on whatever devotional track we’ve been on and just read along with Jesus’ activities during Holy Week. “Keep the kids quiet for a bit” meant working on their Holy Week coloring books I assembled (which they didn’t begin to finish, but that’s okay.) We talk about crucifixion, more than just the passing, “Jesus died for us,” that is our habit the rest of the year. This year, we sang the same two hymns every day, and can I tell you how wonderful it is to have two children old enough to follow along in their hymnals? And when we sang one of those hymns at the Good Friday service, and their eyes lit up with the pride of, “Hey, Mom, that’s our song!”, I just smiled. Treasures tucked into hearts. And for me, treasure unearthed and dusted off and reevaluated — and found to be even more precious than ever before.

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Monday is sometimes hard for me after Easter. I wake up and realize the laundry is not miraculously gone and replaced by eternally-clean robes quite yet. My hair is nappy and I stink after exercising, since my body is subject to entropy and wear and tear. Kids get on my nerves by simply appearing too early, proving that I am still living quite firmly in the Not-Yet, needing sanctification. And these, I know, are small potatoes (embarrassingly small) when compared to the trials being experience by brethren around the world — even just down the street! But they are real, and they clue me in to this: I am yet groaning along with creation, looking for Jesus to come and make all things new. (Best, best, best promise ever.)

So this morning, as rumples appeared by the myriad in my soul, I thought about the stories following that wonderful Resurrection. I thought about this promise: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”

Today, rumples and wrinkles, bumps and bruises, trials and temptations: TRUE.

But, even more true, and far more amazing: POWER of GOD to be a witness in the midst.

POWER of GOD in this very, very normal, nothing-special kitchen. This very earthly pile of crusted breakfast dishes. This list of not-very-Books-of-Acts-ish duties.

POWER of GOD. IN ME.

take them by the hand Mar 8

Hi!

Another whole month has slipped by. I thought of doing a photo dump, and then realized a month of photos gets a tad long.

(Lunch gets a tad long sometimes, too.)

There are lots of pictures over at flickr. Click through for a glimpse of the month:


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“Take them by the hand…”

In the busyness of a day with four children, all of whom need different kinds of training and teaching and attention, and all done all together all day long (which requires a house keeping plan I have yet to quite master), this little phrase grabs me.

I write the plan and herd them along with the best of intentions: to nurture their talents and expand their minds and plant the Word of God deep in their hearts — but the leadership model shown by Jesus was not a “come on, hurry up, slow pokes,” sort of model. No, we’re to come alongside and walk with these young disciples.

And yes, that’s a nice concept and philosophy, but often I find I need to literally obey this verse. Take them by the hand. Not just the wobbly toddler who needs help down the stairs. That nearly-independent 8yo boy, too. The quiet 6yo who doesn’t seem to really need much. Go out of my way to take them by the hand. Invite them to sit in arm’s crook during read-aloud. Give those shoulders a hug while issuing next instruction. Hold their hand in the parking lot, and squeeze it twice (our special “I love you” code.)

The confrontation of sin and shortcomings can seem continual. How much easier the walk through confession and repentance when led by the hand.

what I’ve been up to Feb 4

Bible Study

Last year, I purposed to memorize 52 verses. I made a plan, wrote out fresh 3x5s, and got to it. Near the end of the year, I was feeling a bit…wandering. You know that feeling? Like you pull out your Bible and sit down with your coffee and just — BLANK. But you know what? God wants to speak to me. He wants me to hear His voice. He wants to strengthen me according to His Word. The inspiration may ebb and flow, but taking in truth is never in vain.

All that to say, in November, when I read this post by my sister, something about it was alive to me. I took that as the Holy Spirit speaking, and those verses became my study plan. I wrote them down in several versions. I chewed on each part. I determined to not just gloss over super-familiar verbiage and instead leave no rock unturned in my search for food. It really was the Lord speaking to me!

Since then, I’ve done a few short reading programs using YouVersion’s app on my phone. I bought a cheap composition notebook and have been copying down verses I’m memorizing and meditating on (besides my usual journaling, which is just a must in my life!) I’ve kept several different Bible translations at my fingertips, eager to hear familiar passages in new ways. God has been speaking.

MuTu

I’ve mentioned here before that after Fiona’s birth, a nagging issue of diastasis recti became impossible to ignore — or, at least, detrimental to ignore. I have no idea how long the problem had been growing, but after her delivery, it was painfully obvious that my muscles were no longer doing their job of protecting and holding my insides. It was time for a game plan.

For four solid months, beginning immediately after her birth, I began following a program developed by Julie Tupler. I wrapped my stomach day and night and faithfully did the best I could do check off my daily exercise. The awareness and strength I developed during those four months was very significant. The simple tips she gave — how to get out of bed, how to stand, how to simply breathe — in ways that would help and not hurt me were extremely valuable.

Four months later, having done the same thing day in and day out with not much change in sight, I decided to try out another program that my friends had begun, MuTu.

For anyone suffering from a very severe diastasis recti, I would highly recommend beginning with Tupler. It is gentle, it is clear, and it is healing in a very deep, steady way (in my personal experience; I have absolutely no professional expertise!) However, beginning MuTu was just what I needed to keep me on the straight and narrow: variety, activity, and consolidated to one chunk of time each day. Some of the exercises I skip, because thanks to Tupler, I could immediately sense too much strain on my connective tissue. I went through MuTu’s 12 week program and finished last spring. Throughout the summer, I kept up a bit of exercise each day, although I fell completely off the wagon in August, due to our lives’ busyness. No worries: the beginning of a new school year meant finding a new place for my 30-40 minutes of exercise to fit, and it’s been working since. I feel strong and I know that starting the morning with a high-intensity workout means more energy for the rest of the day.

Vitamins!

At the end of the summer, articles started flying around the internet about super-flus and viral epidemics. I was glad for the reminder to beef up our vitamin intake! I asked a friend for some recommendations, and we’ve been taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and a probiotic each morning (with extra C as needed for a boost!) This past week, a few kids were down with a fever, so it certainly isn’t a guarantee for no sickness (but then, nothing is!)

Reading

I finally made myself a reading list for the year. I have until September to complete it, and I’m way behind, but I’m more on track than I would have been! I like to read. But it takes effort. Half the effort, for me, is just having a book to read! So far, lots of books not listed have made their way into my chair-side stack, but I’ve crossed off a few. My favorite read in a very long time? John Adams. Fascinating. Challenging. Inspiring.

What are some of your favorite books?

Netflix

And the only reason more books aren’t crossed off is because I’m also completely into
tp://www.cbs.com/shows/blue_bloods/”>Blue Bloods. I’ve skipped a few episodes here and there, due to content I wasn’t digging, but for the most part, I really enjoy this show. I like the characters and stories and just the strong Dad and family vibe. Yay for a portrayal of men who love integrity.

(You know I write this with fear and trepidation. Because, of course, after telling the world I like this show, you just watch — it’s going to all take a dive and turn into something I’m embarrassed to have ever seen. Ha!)

Easy Cleaning

E-cloths and Norwex enviro-cloths: pretty much the only thing I use anymore for anything. Throw in a toilet brush and vacuum cleaner, and you’ve pretty much summed up my entire cleaning arsenal. Stains on carpets, fingerprints on glass, grease on stovetop, grime on walls… So simple and easy. And not dangerous. However, I did finally try out my friend Renee’s dish wand trick for the shower, and I’m a convert. Dawn dish soap, white vinegar, and tada — you can scrub your shower while taking a shower. Works for me!

What have you been up to?

some favorite children’s books Feb 3

Reading is a really special thing. Learning, loving — it all happens so rapidly when there’s a little one tucked in the crook of my arm with a book in front of us. It’s a favorite thing to do at our house! I was asked about some of our favorite titles, so I wandered our house and checked the bookshelves this afternoon. These are some that caught my eye — books that have made frequent appearance in the last 8 years, or were enjoyed immensely and are already being asked for again (chapter books!)

Thanks to the internet, libraries are so much easier for a stay-at-home mom to use. I always have running lists of books to borrow, and max out my “hold” permission regularly! So I hope that after reading my list here, you’ll leave some titles for me to try out!

with my babies…

Good Night Moon

Litte Fur Family

Moo Baa Lalala

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear

Mommies Say Shhh

for winter days…

The Hat

Bear Snores On

Flannel Kisses

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Owl Moon

just for reading…

Caps for Sale

Ten Red Apples

Little Bear’s Trousers

Beatrix Potter’s books

Frog and Toad

The Biggest Bear

Hairy Maclary stories

The Brave Cowboy

Papa Small

Patsy Scarry’s Big Bedtime Storybook

James Herriot’s Treasury for Children

A Glorious Days

A Children’s Garden of Verses

A is for Annabelle

favorite just-for-fun read-alouds

Little House books

All-of-a-Kind Family

Moffatt books

Chronicles of Narnia

Rascal

The Saturdays

for devotion and inspiration

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The Children’s Bible in 365 Stories

Hero Tales

With Daring Faith

Shadow of the Almighty (making our way through!)

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Would you like to share a list of your favorite titles? Comment here, or on Facebook, or leave a link to your blog post! I love new books!

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.