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Join Our 40-Day Challenge!

Psssst!

Hey Mom! Yep – you with the tired, kind, overwhelmed-yet-hopeful eyes. We’d like to invite you to join us for 40 days of encouragement!

We get how hard it is to raise a family and keep the home fires burning while keeping your head above water at the same time. We know that sometimes the only shred of peace and rest you can find come when you are in the bathroom or sneaking a shower or – Please Lord, Let It Be – when the kiddos are down for a nap.

We want to offer you little tidbits of hope and laughter each day for 40 days…delivered straight to your email inbox so you can enjoy them whenever is easiest for your busy schedule.

Why 40 days? Well, no specific reason…it just seemed like the perfect amount of time for some of us moms to band together virtually between April 1st and Mother’s Day.

Even though it feels like it sometimes…

We Are Not Alone.

Consider this your chance to share a few moments of life with other women that are just like you – that love the Lord and thirst for rest and peace and community.

Join us by clicking here: 40 Day Challenge

We can’t wait to meet you!

In Him,

Jennah & Asha

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What Heights of Love, What Depths of Peace

Recently I have been listening to a fantastic group called King’s Kaleidoscope. They. Are. Awesome. They have many songs, but my favorite album right now is “Asaph’s Arrows.” It is chock full of old hymns beautifully and powerfully redone…if you haven’t heard this band, get thee to your computer and LISTEN!

Anyway, one of the songs I have been listening to on repeat for weeks is “In Christ Alone.” You know – that old Sunday School song that you probably have forgotten all about but I promise you, you will remember it the moment the opening chords hit your ears.

The words that get me every time are:

What Heights of Love, What Depths of Peace – When Fears Are Stilled And Strivings Cease…Here in The Love of Christ I Stand.

Wow. Just wow.

I need love. I need peace. How do I get them? By stilling my crazy self and stopping all my crazy striving. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do anything, but it DOES mean that I should not get freaked out every time something doesn’t go as planned. I don’t have to create my own false sense of peace or security – it is right there waiting for me to take a deep breath and ACCEPT it.

I encourage you to find time to be still today…to take a deep breath, to relax to bake bread, to go outside, to drink coffee…to BE STILL AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD.

In Him,

Jennah

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Friendship in Unlikely Places

I don’t know what it is exactly about motherhood that encourages people to dole out unsolicited advice. I’ve been ‘that mom’ in Target too many times, whose child is wailing while a perfect stranger begins sharing their tried-and-true methods for child rearing, without even bothering to ask my name. It’s discouraging being in those situations, and the embarrassment is compounded by the awkward exchange of someone trying to in essence ‘fix you’. What weary young moms really need is a smile, we need grace, we need a friend!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had so many people tell me that I would just make so many friends when I started my family. They would go on and on about how these friendships would just spring out of the frame-work of life that circles raising little people. Truth be told—this never happened for me! The friends I had before my babies, I was already in relationships with and if you want to hear the raw truth—I met one of my best friends in a support group.

We formed a friendship, while joining a club that we never wanted to be in. Our club was: Parents of Preemies. I’ll never forget walking into a room with other worn-out parents. We all sat there like lumps on a log around our sad campfire of grief. We hurt because we lost something—we lost choices, we lost normalcy, and we lost answers.

Fast forward 4 years and the grass is certainly greener. Our babies are healthy and our hearts continue to heal, but as I reflect on this beautiful friendship, I am reminded of how many of us meet our cherished ones in the most unlikely places. Sometimes we meet in the fray of life. We enter these clubs that we never signed up for, and somehow find ourselves members. There is no initiation period, no weird hazing rituals, no wait list, and yet somehow we make the cut.

Sometimes you find ‘your people’ in the waiting room instead of at the company Christmas party. You might find someone who truly ‘gets you’ in the last place you thought to look. I don’t know what club you might feel thrown into today, but I encourage you to fight the waves and come up for some air. Look around and you might be surprised to find someone else floating on their own life raft, right next to yours. It’s a lot easier to ride out the storm with a friend by your side.

Oh, and if you see that Momma in Target, the one who is desperately trying not to collapse into her own mini-melt-down, offer her something even better than your advice—offer her your kindness.

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When You’re Feeling Small

You know the feeling… dishes piled high and no break in sight.

I’ve been there.

Sometimes it feels like you’re Alice in Wonderland, and you’ve just sampled the shrinking potion and find yourself growing smaller and smaller while life’s problems and unknowns and monotony grow larger and larger.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I love how Psalm 46 addresses the feelings of insecurity, stress, and SMALLNESS we often feel:

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Take heart this week, knowing that God is there – an ever present help in time of trouble. The things that look so big to you are like tiny specks to Him.

So when you’re feeling small, find peace in the One that is over all things.

In Him,

Jennah

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The Monotony Of Our Days

Do you ever feel like you are living in a bad remake of Groundhog’s Day? Getting out of bed day after day just to do the same things you have done for weeks on end? Parenting can do that to you. It can lull you to sleep with the monotony of each day, and if we aren’t careful, we can lose sight of the extreme importance of every moment and our calling here on Earth.

The Bible says that children are like arrows in the hands of a mighty warrior (definitely my own paraphrase), and last week my husband and I saw our first and oldest arrow get pointed toward Heaven with laser-like precision. We had been incredibly impacted by that week’s message at church regarding the incredible gift of salvation Jesus gave to all of us and so we talked with all of our kiddos around the dinner table that night about the sermon. She took it to heart, and her life will never be the same!

Our pastor – Levi Lusko from Fresh Life Church – has been doing a series of messages based on the words Jesus spoke from the cross…they have been challenging and heart wrenching sermons, but our family is so much stronger for hearing them. It is so easy to get hypnotized by the endless energy draw that young kids are; going through life on autopilot, forgetting that we have a huge responsibility in front of us. There is not one of us that would say we do not want salvation for our littles…but how easy it is to think, “I will talk with them about it later,” or to foolishly think, “They won’t understand this until they’re older.” The truth is – we all need Jesus and we all – from the smallest of us up to the oldest among us – have sinned, separating us from God…BUT FOR JESUS.

His death gave us life. that is something worth sharing, no matter how old or young our children may be. Sing it over your babies. Explain it to your preschoolers. And give your bigger kids the gift of finding Jesus for themselves through youth devotionals, adventure Bibles, and targeted teaching that will meet them where they’re at.

Let’s not fall prey to life’s monotony; let’s instead break loose and show our children how to live lives that are wild and brave and regret-free thanks to the freedom they can have in Christ.

In Him,

Jennah

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Flying Solo – An Homage To Single Moms Everywhere

I want to speak to all you mothers out there for a minute. And boy, are there a lot of you. According to stats pulled from the Census Bureau website, the are well over 80 million families in the USA, and that is just based on the 2013 numbers. Of those 80 million, close to 15% or more are homes headed by single moms. That is a whopping 12 million single ladies navigating the parenthood waters alone.

Did you catch that?

Don’t let that number roll off your back as you move to the next paragraph.

A football stadium holds 100,000 people give or take, even when packed to the gills. So it would take 120 stadiums to seat all those hot mommas at once.

For those of us that are not sports gurus, let’s look at it this way: a standard school bus fits 72 little people…so let’s assume it could hold approximately 60 grownup-sized women. Can you guess how many buses it would take to fit 12 million women? 200,000. Stretched end to end those 200,000 buses would stretch more than 1,500 miles…that would be like driving from California to Missouri!

After factoring in the caregivers and grandmothers and aunts that may not have necessarily been listed in this study even if they hold a prominent role in a child’s life, I think it is safe to assume that there are well over 25 million women in the United States that are feeling the weight of glory that comes with raising kids. Scores of ladies both young and old that find themselves in different life paths, different careers, different socioeconomic statuses…but at the same time all on equal footing when it comes to the emotions and ever-changing frontier that is parenting.

It is a shared experience that ties us together like nothing else – one that is equal parts thrilling and discouraging…often all at the same time.

Sadly, we mothers can fall prey to the monotony of our lives. The daily drone that can grind down our edges, leaving us exposed and raw and feeling the weight of our worlds on our shoulders. For some, that weight is crushing, leading to anxiety and depression and an overwhelming sense of despair. For others the emotional strain may not be so heavy, but it can still leave a lingering feeling of despair and stress that accompanies motherhood even in the best of circumstances.

There will inevitably come a time when the pressures of trying to be the best moms we can be to these little people entrusted to our care can overwhelm us, and even shake us to our core. In dual-parent homes there is always someone there to “tap in” when we get close to losing our cool or when we need time alone to get our nails done or soak in the tub with a good book. But when there’s only one of us in charge of ALL THE THINGS, free time is at a minimum…and chances to share the ups and downs of life with someone that understands are few and far between.

How you ladies do it day in and day out shakes me to my core. Your resolve. Your energy. Your love. Your dedication. Your hard work. What you do for you kids is so incredibly wonderful and valuable and needed. The days are long, but the years are short, sweet single ladies.

One day you and I will stand on the other end of this parenting thing and say, “We did it!” We will join scores of other families that have safely shepherded their children through diapers and dental work and drivers permits and first dates and – gasp – leaving home to start their own lives. We will laugh and we will cry…probably often…along the way, but the community of moms is BIG and it is STRONG and it is THERE FOR YOU AND FOR ME.

Keep up the great work, moms. You are seen and loved and so very appreciated!

In Him,

Jennah

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A NICU reflection

My daughter turns 4 at the the end of the month.

That means I have been a mom for 4 years.

I’ve watched her grow for 4 whole years.

It also means it’s been 4 years since my time in the NICU.

With baby #2 on the way, I’m obviously beyond excited, but there is also an added layer. It’s one that I can’t fully convey unless you’ve stood in my shoes. I can say this:

The memories are still there.

Some things take me back instantly:

  • the way the soap at Evergreen Hospital smells
  • ordering certain things from Starbucks (a place we visited nearly every day that Alana was away)
  • seeing brand new babies…not hooked up to anything
  • if it’s snowing and sunny at the same time
  • the taste of lime seltzer water from Trader Joe’s

This list is limited, but random things still catch me off guard from time to time. When I used to work with Alzheimer’s patients we spent a lot of time understanding how memories are stored. Sometimes the mind forgets things the body remembers, for instance, you might encounter an old woman who has no recollection of her name or the names of her children, but she can play the piano like nobody’s business. Her mind might be slipping into the abyss of dementia, but her hands remember the way the keys feel and where they are supposed to go. Sometimes my brain knows Alana is healthy and fine, but one sip of the past and I can taste it all over again.

The memories remain but they HAVE CHANGED. It’s almost like looking into a frosted mirror, you can make out images, but they don’t appear sharp in all the same places that they used to.

It helps me to think of our lives as art. Art is ever changing. You can stand in front of the same art piece over and over, and still walk away noticing different things each time. Art can evoke different emotions with a change of lighting, at certain times of the year, or from various viewing angles. When I studied ancient art and architecture in Paris, we would often view beautiful sculptures at the Louvre. These gorgeous sculptures were reclaimed from the walls of historical monuments throughout Europe, and they were designed to be seen from the ground up. As stunning as it was to stand directly in front of them, it really didn’t do them justice because they were meant to tower above you.

So, if life is art, we must expect our memories to change with time too. There is a beauty to the sharp and smooth places of our hearts. Sometimes it helps to step back, wait for the lighting to change, and see how things look later on. Maybe you’ll see something that you didn’t see the first time. Maybe you’ll feel better about some things being blurry, so you can focus on what really moves you.

I might remember every sharp detail of my daughter’s premature birth, but it’s the parts I choose to focus on that shape the art I live.

I don’t know where you are at in your journey, but I pray that as you move forward into new seasons, that you will embrace your life as a masterpiece, because you were made with love and that truth will never change or blur with time.

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Love Story

Have you ever noticed how we encapsulate our day by how much we have accomplished? I think this especially rings true for women! We tend to press our backs tight against the measuring stick of duty and that’s great for our to-do list, but not always so great for our soul. I know that a certain number of things throughout the day, simply ‘must get done’. I understand that it sometimes feels so good to just check one thing off our lists, but my heart aches for women to call me up and be real. I long for conversations filled less with list and more with spirit. Why do we so readily share the short-comings of our lives?

We all have laundry.

We all have that ‘thing’ we have been intending to do, but never seem to fully accomplish.

We all have letters to send.

We all have bills to pay.

We all have phone calls to return.

It’s just, I have this nagging feeling…what if we turned it all upside-down?

What if we rushed to call our Bestie, to say, “I burned dinner, but guess what, I sang my girls to sleep tonight!”

What if we turned off our phones and really listened to the kind of day our spouse faced and prayed that the next day would be better.

What would happen?

I think that our list would change. I think our priorities would shift. I think the urgent would shrink behind the beauty of important.

My goal this week is to call up my people and brag about the real stuff!

I want to share about the things in life that make us brave and honest.

Who cares if we can keep all the plates spinning and lose what makes our heart beat in the process. So the next time someone asks you, “How are you?” I dare you. Tell them how you really feel!

I’ve seen so much bravery this week, I could burst.

One of my friends took a blood test that could change her life.

My Mom visited a doctor when the last thing she wanted to do was discuss her ‘pre-existing conditions.’

There are people in my circle that have moved states, started new medications, contemplated leaving jobs, stepped into new jobs, said goodbye to family pets, fought for their kids in spite of a professional diagnosis…and the list goes on.

Life is gritty and it means nothing unless we are willing to embrace the glory. God is doing something. He is moving in the hearts of people and awakening a need that I can’t even explain. I just pray that I can be a part of His story, because I believe it! I love the way this story ends and I know that if you really step into freedom, it looks nothing like a checked-off list and more like a rowdy love story. The kind that keeps you up at night, because you just can’t get enough.

 

xo- Asha

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Borrowed Time

A few days ago, Alana broke a candle holder and the first words out of my classy mouth were, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!” Never-mind the utter logic of asking a three year old this kind of loaded question. She simply bounced off to her room exclaiming, “I wasn’t thinking Mommy!”

She wasn’t thinking! How simple. She wasn’t fearful, wondering what would happen if the sharp shards of glass pierced her butter soft skin. She wasn’t hiding in the corner, worrying that I might be so very disappointed in her. She was playing! She was wide eyed and she didn’t carry all the fears that I do. No one was hurt that day, but I was given a beautiful perspective of God’s heart. He doesn’t operate in fear with knee-jerk reactions just waiting to jump out and yell, “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!”

He moves in love, much like the sea. The ocean in all its largeness, reminds me of the vast love of God. We can’t comprehend its depth, its mystery, but we can soak in it. We can hear it. We can taste it and we can play in it.

If there is anything new I am learning from my toddler right now, it is the importance of playing. Playing is easy for children, they don’t know how to be any other way. As we grow, this precious part of us gets lost. God longs for us to stop scurrying around like rodents in a wheel. He wants us to relax and to delight in all that He has made. This kind of living takes us off the grid and into Karios time: God’s time. The ancient Greeks held two words for measuring time: Karios and Chronos. Chronological time is my enemy. I am soooooooooo horrible about it and I actually hate wearing a watch because if it. I think it’s because, God doesn’t keep time the way we do, in a frantic flurry of clock checking and deadline meeting. His time is measured in hidden moments, almost like a never-land of the heart. Think about those moments when you’ve been lost in utter joy and suddenly it’s as if time stands still. That’s Karios.

“The artist at work is in kairos. The child at play, totally thrown outside herself in the game, be it building a sand castle or making a daisy chain, is in kairos. In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.” Madeleine L’Engle

So how do we slow down? How do we find time to play? Go to the places that make you feel free! Go to the places that make your heart beat faster. Usually Alana and I head to the sea, because I always feel more alive near the shore. One day we were there, just the two of us, combing the beach for treasures. Alana was laughing so hard, and I heard the waves laugh with her. Then she ran to me hands shaking with joy as she presented her findings. As my fingers passed over the chipped brown shell, I cried as I held her cherished prize. She was drenched in happiness, and my heart soared because already she found beauty in the broken. She chose something that most of us would pass over. Our world is broken and our timing is off, but we must fight to see loveliness through the cracks in life. We must awaken to our ache for Karios time because we were made for it.