Saturday, February 3, 2018

Lessons from windshield wipers

Lessons from windshield wipers.


Our wipers have been going bad for quite awhile. And then they were pretty bad for quite some time. Yet I continued to drive around with them like this for far too long. You see, the store where I needed to get them was outside of my normal route, so I just didn't fit it into my day. All it would really take is for me to drive a little bit out of my way, park, and walk into the store and buy new ones. 10 minutes tops to get it all done. But I just didn't. Bigger and better things to do. The minor inconvenience was enough for me to put it off.

This week I told myself I was going to make the time for it. It was such a simple thing, I needed to stop making it so complicated. Wipers have now been changed from that debacle below to clear views while driving. #bouttime

What else are we letting fall to the wayside in life? What is that thing that you know you need to do/ should do, but you keep putting it off? I know this is symbolic of others things in my life that I need to stop putting off and just DO already.

Here's my encouragement to you. Go get the wipers. It's worth the inconvenience and you can see a WHOLE lot better when you do.
#buythewipers

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Kitchen Cabinets and close up view of our capsule kitchen

This week I pulled items out of the cabinets and wiped down the inside. A process that took about 5 minutes thanks to the capsule kitchen concept.

Unfamiliar with Capsule Kitchen? I talk about what it looks like for us here:

This week, I opened up my cupboards to show those inquiring minds (there are probably, like, 2 of you, but anyways) just exactly what our capsules kitchen looks like around here:

The Great Maintenance of the De-Clutter of 2017 in 2018 (my creativity is lacking right now)

Last year at this time I started a massive overhaul of our house. Really working on decluttering and getting rid of the excess. This year, I am going down the list again but doing more of a maintenance. I have started doing weekly videos on Facebook that kind of go over how I do it and what things look like. Feel free to follow along there or check back here to find the videos. 
Here are the first 2 videos I did. 
Here I am talking about my rules that I follow to clear out the clutter.
 In this video I discuss what it looks like in the kitchen one year later.... 


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

November Lookback

Oh, boy. I am behind. It was halfway through December when I realized I hadn't posted my November Lookback. So, I uploaded the photos....and am just now getting around to finishing it. Oy.

With it being two months ago I'm having a hard time remembering the details, sadly. Which is a great assurance to me that I need to keep posting these monthly lookbacks, even if I am the only one that reads them!  
 


He was very pleased with his "mohawk"
One morning, driving into work, the sun was just coming up directly in front of me. I don't make a habit of picture taking while driving....just this once, I promise.
Love those moments when the kids choose their own entertainment without me having to suggest anything. And all 3 played together. Definitely needed to take a picture of this moment.
Owen was asked to help at a ceremony for Veterans on Veterans Day.

Came out from church one Sunday and all the ginko leaves had fallen. Madeline exclaimed, "It's like the sun burst on the ground!" I'm glad I had my camera handy for this one.

Our chickens.  One of their favorite spots is our porch, which means I am constantly having to work to keep it clean (yay.)  It is kind of funny to see them peeking in the window at us, though.


November was the start of basketball season and Paul's run at "sportscaster" for the Blackhawk Braves. The eagle's nest doesn't give best view (rafters in the way) but it's a nice spot for the whole family to hang out.

The kids had the day before Thanksgiving off so Paul put them in charge of lunch. It was a bit smoky and the kitchen looked like something blew up, but I didn't have to cook, or clean up, so I wasn't going to complain.

The girls were into performing plays for a few weeks. We had a performance just about every night.

We had a few evenings where we were able to be outside before the sun set and before it got too cold. There is just something so delightful to me about spending the waning light outside.

Somehow I did not have a single picture of Thanksgiving (this wasn't my best month for pictures...) but the day following we got our tree up and did the tradition of eating pizza and watching Elf with just the light of the tree.


Friday, December 22, 2017

Prepare Him Room



 "Let every heart prepare Him room"


We may sing that song but do we really think about those words? As we are in the final days of Advent, as we prepare so many others things for Christmas, have we taken the time to pause, and prepare our hearts?

We have just a few more days until Christmas. But all that prep in the meantime is for naught if we are planning to celebrate the arrival of our King, but have not taken the time for our hearts to receive Him. 

There's still time.


*****

Time. Oh boy. Touchy subject. We all have the same amount of time yet we so often think ours is the most important or think we are the one entitled to more of it. #guilty

But as we are in this countdown to Christmas, time may feel even more packed than usual. We are in this season of Advent, and only One really is worthy of our time.  We may be celebrating Christmas and the birth of a Savior, but have we taken time to spend with Him?

Before the hustle of the preparations that still need to get done, have we sat down to breathe, thank God for the ability to run around and get things done, and really marvel in the miracle of this Holiday?  If you are getting caught up in the preparing for Christmas, I encourage you to check to make sure you have prepared room, in your daily time, for Him.
*****

How we spend our money.  Ooo. There is another touchy subject.

But, as I was thinking through the ways we can prepare Him room, this one could not be overlooked.


God has designed us to get joy from giving.

But let's not just give for giving's sake.  If we are true Christ followers then we need to seek to truly make room for him in every aspect of life. Even our money.

No doubt a lot of cash has flowed out in these last few weeks and some of you are thinking NO MORE.  But with all the spending, has any of it been for giving?  If it has, then you already know what I'm talking about, and what that book except below is talking about. Has any of it been given away, with no expectation of anything in return?

Just something to ponder as we prepare Him room.


*********


Relationships. Ouch. We just keep hitting on the touchy subjects don’t we? But, let’s pause and ask, have we made room for Jesus…? In our relationships. With family. With friends. 

 When we are building these relationships, have we left room for Jesus? 

Have we put Him at the center of these interactions?  Even with friends and family who don’t follow our Jesus, have we allowed Him into our half of the conversations?   

Do we allow Him to work in our hearts, to soften, to convict, to help us see our friends and family through His eyes?  I know there are a lot of awful, ugly, hard things out there that take a lot of time, forgiveness, mercy, and sometimes counseling.  But for those that don’t involve all of that, and well, even those as well, have we invited Jesus into the middle of these messy relationships, to allow Him to help heal and rebuild?  

 I know there are all ends of the spectrum out there with where we are in relationships, so I do not assume I know it all, or that I am throwing a blanket over it all. But when Jesus says He wants to be a part of all of your life. He means these parts, too.

 Sometimes relationships can leave us feeling a bit like my friend here....
********

Our Homes.  Have we made room in our home for Him?  The Israelites in the Old Testament were instructed to write The Word on their doorposts and walls. 

A constant reminder every time they walked into their Home: the Lord lives here.  We all have different styles on how we decorate, but this goes beyond that. 

This involves asking the Spirit into our homes. To set the tone of love and welcoming to anyone who may come in. 

As we are just days from Christmas, no doubt I am not the only one preparing my home for the Holiday. But I would be remiss if all my prep was just visual.  

 Come Holy Spirit. Work among us in this place.
A flashback to a couple Christmases ago. In the midst of preparations, these two dear ones thought it best to decorate with some "snow"
*****

And finally, our Thoughts.  Have we left room in our thoughts for Him? Or are we more prone to fill it with lies we tend to think are truth, thoughts about ourselves, or thoughts that look down on others?  

 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things and the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:8). 
 
We began with the heart, and we end with the thoughts, book-ending a range of things of where we need to ask ourselves “Have we prepared Him room?”   

Aligning our hearts and our thoughts with Jesus at the center, we can better address those areas, and ensuring we have room for Jesus in the middle of it all.


My encouragement to you as we take these last few days to prepare for Christmas, and then the days following as we work to recover from it all, may we remember that without Jesus, it’s all pointless.   

But Jesus wants to be a part of it all, our messes, our successes, our everyday lives. He wants invited in.

Let’s make room.



Monday, December 18, 2017

Prepare


As I ushered my kids out the door this morning; hugs, kisses, and assurance that each had their lunch, a thought fleeted through my mind.

1 week until Christmas.

Now, when that thought comes to you, how does it make you feel? 

Exited?

Or overwhelmed?

When that thought came in my head, my first thought was of excitement.  Excited for Christmas break, for the kids and Paul to be home for 2 weeks, no homework, no lunches to pack. Excited to have evenings at home together and celebrating Christmas together as a family.

And then the next thought came charging through: I still have so much to prepare.

I looked up the definition of prepare. Yeah, yeah, I know what the word means. But, just like reading lyrics to a song can help you better understand it, reading a definition of a well known word can bring new light.

Prepare.  
1 a : to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity
   b : to put in a proper state of mind

As I looked at this definition it struck me. As we lead up to December 25th, we spend so much time on the first part of that definition. How much time do we spend on that second part?

We have all sort of prep work for the activities. We have so much to get ready for.
 
But how much time do we spend getting our hearts in the proper state of mind?
 
This time leading up to Christmas is called Advent. The anticipation of Jesus' arrival -  the arrival of the celebration of His birth, the arrival of His Grace as we seek Him in repentance, and the 'someday-arrival' of His Second Coming. 
 
How much time, in the last few weeks, have we spent reflecting on that? 

Well, it's not too late to redeem it. For the next 7 days, as we lead up to Christmas Day, the celebration of our King's arrival, we have so much to prepare for Him.  But none of these things can be seen, they all start inward.

No worries, you can still bake those cookies and get that last minute shopping done. But in the midst of that, I invite you to come along with me, to contemplate, how you, how I, can prepare Him room.

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Suvar Christmas Letter

For the last 6 years we have taken the money that we would have used to pay for Christmas cards, pictures, and postage and put that money towards a charity.  For the last six years that money has gone to World Vision to buy a goat and a few chickens for a family in poverty. Last year we were able to add a cow to the mix as well, thanks to my commissions from Rodan+Fields. 


This year, with the increase in commissions from my side business, we are able to purchase the chickens, goats, and cow, plus support a local family in need.  We aren't tell you all this so that the light can shine on us. Rather, we share this with you so that others may see the Light that inspires us to give of ourselves. We can only give because He first gave to us.

"Let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify YOUR FATHER in heaven." Summary of Matthew 5:16   

As my friend Carey says, "Our arrow points UP."

So instead of a picture in the mail with a happy holiday greeting, you get this update. And a montage of pictures taken over this past year.


Owen is 11 and is in 5th grade.  He is reading books at a high school level, building fantastic creations with his Legos, and aspires to be a surgeon someday. He is certainly the first-born of the bunch. Bent toward the Type-A rule following (to a T!) and constantly "directing" his sisters on what they should do. He has a knack for memorization and can recite long parts of scripture with hardly any practice and is self-teaching himself piano, mostly by listening to songs.

 The Boston Common

Hannah is 9 1/2 and is in 4th grade this year.  Hannah is our in-house creative, singer, and dancer.  We have noticed lately that, although she is incredibly shy and has a hard time around big groups of people, if you put her on a stage it's a whole different story. This girl loves to perform. I think I see musicals and drama club in our future. Daily she is writing stories, drawing pictures, and creating new things out of items found in our recycling bin.  All of her requests, questions, and stories come to us through song and melody.  Sometimes it takes 3 minutes to tell us something that really only takes 30 seconds, but at least there is entertainment through it all. 

 We as a family hiked a mountain in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Madeline is nearly 8, in 2nd grade, and has quite the personality.  She is the most independent and headstrong of the three.  She seems to have a mature sense of humor that does not match her age and makes us laugh daily with things she says. She also loves to make little people out of simple ordinary objects (erasers, corks, clothespins), cuddle on the couch, and has a soft heart that is quick to ask and receive forgiveness. 

 He did it! 26.2 miles on the streets of Boston, MA.

 In April, we as a family took a road trip to Boston to cheer Paul on as he checked an item off his bucket list - running the Boston Marathon. A race that you have to qualify for in order to run (under 3 hour 10 minutes for his age group) it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of trip.  In June, Paul finished up his third year of teaching with much singing and rejoicing from me.  Having put in more hours in 8 months than a full time job does in 12, I was so very thankful to have him around for the summer.  But our summer was hardly a sit-down relaxation type of summer. We spent nearly 2 weeks traveling and visiting our dear friends in Zambia, thanks to a donor who paid for our plane tickets! The whole trip felt like a dream. In fact, if I didn't have the 400+ pictures to prove it, I would completely believe that I had imagined it all.  As far as myself, I continue to work for Gateway Woods as the Systems Coordinator in the Foster Care Department. I love being the support behind the department as we license foster parents and support them as they take care of hurting children.

Victoria Falls, Livingstone, Zambia

I have been striving to be more active on this blog over the past year because I love to write. But so often I don't have those large chunks of time to sit down and type. I am hoping someday that I will be able to be more regular, until then, thank you to my few faithful readers!

 A quick stop in London, and a 3 mile trek to see Buckingham Palace

Along with working at Gateway, being a wife, mom, taxi driver, and all around supporter of everyone's lives, I am also balancing that along with the time I put into my side business. Two years ago I took a leap and joined as a Consultant of a skincare company, Rodan+Fields. For quite some time Paul and I have desired to live off as little as possible and give most of our income away. We felt like we were about to the point of squeezing blood from a turnip, when God brought along this out-of-the-box way of funding His Great Commission. These past two years have been a lesson in trust, waiting on God's timing, getting a better understanding of what giving really looks like, and changing our question from "How much should we give?" to "How much should we keep?" 

A typical home in the compound, outside Kitwe, Zambia.

Each of us is called to serve the Kingdom in different ways, and different capacities. I pray that each person who reads this will realize they have a part in furthering the Kingdom, and that 2018 will bring it into clearer focus just what that may be.


We thank you for your prayers and want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.  We are so thankful that so many years ago Jesus was willing to come to earth and live a human life, devoid of sin, and die on the cross for each of our sins.  We don’t deserve His sacrifice on our behalf, but we are SO very thankful for it!

A very Merry Christmas and a joyful, Happy New Year!