Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Intentional Series: The Home

Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. - William Morris

Now, I don't agree with everything that William Morris had to say, but this line is one I have written down and have hanging in my home office. It just rings so true to what I desire for our home: practical and useful...but also beautiful.

Yours can be, and most likely are, totally different words. But, stop and ask yourself, if you could narrow it down to a couple words, what words would you use to describe what you want your home to be? And then, are you taking any steps to get there or, if you have already arrived, are you intentional in keeping it that way?

It's January, the month that stores have their biggest uptick on purchases of all things organization. And it's no coincidence that best-selling author and world famous organizer, Marie Kondo, has released her show on Netflix this month. After the drive of purchasing and materialism that surrounds December, January floods in and so many people are thinking through their need for all their stuff.

This isn't a blog post telling you to go purge your home. If you are reading this you most likely have your own computer or electronic device which means you also have the means to have a whole lot of other items in your life and no doubt every one of us has things that we could get rid of. But, instead of telling you to go toss it all to the thrift store, I will encourage you to take a good look at what you have, and if it is contributing to what you want your home to be? Those couple words that came to mind earlier, is your stuff helping or hindering in that pursuit?

There will be posts in the future with some more practical tips on how to get your home to what you want it to me. To be intentional this year in pursuing your home's best reflection of those words you thought of above.  For now, pause and take inventory.  Maybe even start with one room, one surface, one drawer. Think through how that room reflects your description words. What's working....and what is not. And then be intentional this week on making that spot you picked out a true reflection of you and your family, and what you want your home to be.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Intentional Series: the Heart

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

What better way to begin a year of intention than with the heart.  For, just as the Proverb above says, our actions flow from where our heart is focused.

We may say one thing, and may even be able to 'fake' it for a time, but where our heart is, our treasure will be also. If we truly desire change and a life of intention, then our heart needs to be fixed in that direction.

We are already a few days into the new year. Perhaps a few of us have already shown some backsliding on
our resolutions for this year. It's OK! We're only on day 7 of 365. Today, take a moment to focus your heart, your intent.

Something that we can focus so hard on when setting goals for ourselves is just that: ourselves.  Sure, we may say we want to do what God wants us to do, but then we charge ahead with OUR plan. May I suggest that as we look to live this year with intention, that our first step is to intentionally give this year to God?

I have plans, dreams, goals, things I want to see happen this year. But I know that if I do not have God at the center of it, it really will be all for nothing.  Sure, it may seem great if I hit a goal and see a dream come to fruition, but guaranteed it will end up feeling empty and cold and pointless without God at the center.

For this week, I challenge you to sit in quiet. (I know that may be hard to find in some of our lives, but go out and sit in your mini-van if you have to!)  Sit in quiet, breathe, and give this year to God. Ask Him to be in charge of your 2019. This may seem scary because you may feel like you are losing control. But really, you weren't in control anyways (and this is coming from a MAJOR control freak).

Really, truly, with your whole heart, give this year to God and see what He can do with it.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

With Intention

2018 was healing year. A year of some dark valleys, learning more about myself (not always in great ways!), and finding my way back to health.

It wasn't a journey I took alone. I certainly had help from many avenues: spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological.

In the latter part of the year, as I felt the cloud lifting, I started to think more seriously about writing.  It has always been something that I have loved to do, but feel like for some time it has been stifled. For quite awhile I blamed it on busy schedules, but in hind sight, I am seeing it had more to do with depression and anxiety than anything else.

So, as I seek to pick up my proverbial pen, I want to do it with intention. Not merely to just write because I like to, but to inspire others to live their best intentional life as well.

In a world that is full of thing vying for our attention in all sorts of electronic forms, it can be very easy to be distracted, to be isolated, to lose sight of our goals. I believe in order to stay focused, stay in community, keep striving for better, we have to be intentional.

Intentional.  My word for 2019. I am setting a high goal for myself, sending out a post once a week, focusing on different areas of our lives that we can be intentional.  You can find them right here on the blog or get them delivered to your email inbox every Monday morning by signing up HERE.

Together may be find intention in 2019. Intention to live our best life with

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Prepare Him Room...

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?


Or overwhelmed?

When that thought came in my head, my first thought was of excitement.  Excited for Christmas break, for the kids and my husband, a school teacher, 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.

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 ourselves 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.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Suvar Christmas Letter 2018

For the last 7 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 seven 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 send Christmas gifts to a persecuted family in the Middle East through Voice of the Martyrs.  We aren't telling 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.

**Side note: the picture collage at the top was something that I originally had printed to send to family and friends far away that we don't see every day.  As of this date, they never have arrived at our house. To hear the story behind it, you can check it out HERE. **

Owen is 12 and is in 6th 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. He took up Cross Country this Fall and made us so proud taking a sport that comes difficult to him, and pushing hard to improve himself each time.

Hannah is 10 and is in 5th 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. She preformed in front of two very large crowds this Fall, singing a solo part and loving every second. 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. Hannah also took on Cross Country this Fall and astounded us all with her natural talent. She was competing for the top spot in just about every race, although every runner was most likely older than her, since she was running with 5th-8th graders.

photo credit: Carrie Robinson

Madeline is nearly 9, in 3rd 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. She sometimes bemoans the fact that she is the youngest, but she does an excellent job as our caboose, cheering on her siblings in their sports and always ready to lend a helping hand to her mom and dad.

This June, we took a road trip to Colorado and showed the Rocky Mountains to our kids for the first time. Let's just say we all fell in love. Less than 24 hours in the mountains and Hannah turns to me and asks, "when are we moving here, mom?"  We hiked a mountain every day except for 1 and swam in several cold mountain springs. I sense another road trip out West in short order!

In June, Paul finished up his 4th 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 between VBS, road trips, honey-do lists, volunteer jobs, lesson planning for new classes, and family trips, there wasn't much sitting down! Paul has taken on another class this Fall and is now teaching out of 4 departments. A bit time consuming for sure, but if you know Paul he won't say a word about it and will do phenomenal.  

As far as myself, I continue to work for Gateway Woods as the Systems Coordinator in the Foster Care Department, hitting the 10 year mark with the Non-Profit in January. I love being the support behind the department as we license foster parents and support them as they take care of hurting children

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 planning on launching a weekly series that will be posted here as well as delivered to inboxes every Monday. If you want to be on the email list for it, you can sign up here: Intentional Living

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. Three 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 three 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?" 

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 2019 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!

From our family to yours: A very Merry Christmas and a joyful, Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

For when life seems weary

 Each year I find that a different set of lyrics jumps out at me like it hasn't in the past. And each year it's something I hang on to for the Christmas season, using it to help me keep focus and even learn a different perspective on this season that we think we all know so well by now.

2018 has been a healing year. A year of discovering that I wasn't as well as I thought I was and that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, but courage.

I came face to face with diagnoses that I had misconceptions about, and even the thought that 'it could never happen to me.'

Medication, counseling, alternative therapy, supplements, lots of reading, reflecting, and self discovery.  Though it's been a year of healing, it has been rather tiring.

Perhaps you are finding yourself in a very similar place.  But maybe you are still waiting on the healing. You're still looking for answers. Maybe you just got your answer and it's not what you hoped and it's enough to make you want to weep, lie down, and not get back up.

Having walked through a dark valley, and truthfully, some days waking up to find myself right in the middle of it again, I can attest that to the fact that the sun is still shining despite the clouds.

With this year being what it was, maybe that is why these words seemed to speak directly to my heart.  I've heard this song hundreds of times, I remember singing it from a very young age.  But this past week as I was driving in the van on a carpool school run, the lyrics pierced my heart and I found tears rolling down my cheeks as I pulled into the pick-up lane at school.

O ye beneath life's crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow;
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.

Did you catch that? Are you one who is struggling along the incline, feeling like it's all an uphill climb? Does the weight you are carrying seem to get heavier with each step, causing you to move slower and slower, sometimes to the point that you wonder if you are going backwards?  Here is a message for you:

You are not alone.

No matter how alone the Enemy may make you feel or be whispering it into your ear. You are NOT alone.

In fact, you are not the first one to be climbing this steep mountain. And there are many beside you climbing it right now as well.  And we have each been given an invitation.

Rest. Even for a moment to catch your breath. Rest beside the weary road. It's not saying we are going to leave it all behind and travel that lovely rose-strewn path. No, the weary road is still there.

But rest. Why?

For glad and golden hours come swiftly. Between all the flowery words of the 1800's we can read hope.  


Because this trial will not last forever. And in this moment of hard we can choose despair or we can choose hope.  If we take a moment to rest, to hope, knowing that God promises to work ALL for GOOD, then we can keep marching on. Knowing better things ARE coming.

And as we rest beside that weary road then, perhaps, if we listen carefully, we can hear the angels sing.

And join in.

Looking for more Christmas reflection in this Advent Season? Join me for a 7 day series. To get it delivered right to your inbox, sign up HERE.

Monday, October 29, 2018

September Lookback

Ah, September. That month between the summer of August and the fall of October. You're not sure which to deliver so you mix it up all month long.

You kept us hopping with Cross Country meets, family events, a business trip to New Orleans, and all of the crazy of life in between. There were some lows (the loss of a diamond) but a lot more highs.

These pictures don't do the whole month justice, but it's a start.

A morning road trip to go watch Owen and Hannah run their first weekend cross country meet. Of course it was a great excuse to get coffee...

Hannah placed 13th, the team placed 5th

All of these squash grew in our garden. The kicker: I didn't plant a single squash plant.

An introvert walk: just two people walking in our own thoughts #bliss

Just the usual sight in our yard these days...

No, this wasn't face paint...

A little Cross Country viewing in the rain...

Hannah walked (ran?) away with the top 6th grade runner....as a 5th grader...
...and Owen says, "hey, I won a banana!"

Checked out the giant "drill" that is digging a massive tunnel under Fort Wayne. I'm no engineer, but I think it was pretty impressive

Lost my diamond out of my engagement ring. And despite losing it somewhere on the carpet in my closet, I have yet to find it...

3 years as a Consultant and I finally made it to their National Convention. Flew with a friend I met through the business down to New Orleans for a 4 day trip.

Loved being able to write my dream on the wall with all the other business owers

And standing beside what pretty much sums up my business

Of course we had to do a bit of sight-seeing

Feeling energized and excited about the potential of this business and what can be accomplished for Funding the Great Commission.  Skincare and missions, an unlikely pair.
His fastest race! 13:02 But he wasn't too thrilled with me taking his picture...

These two pushed each other all season. I greatly appreciated this sweet girls attitude. An 8th grader with a 5th grader on her heels. But she continued to cheer her on and encourage Hannah all season.

Finished out the month with a family campout with the Steffen's. Everyone was able to be there and we celebrated several birthdays while we were out at it.