on how grace changed and is changing me.

 

Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment. It is the love of God shown to the unlovely. It is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him. Jerry Bridges

Grace, I never knew you.  Not in middle or high school.  Certainly not in college.  Definitely not until the Navy provided the opportunity for me to know no one while across the country from everyone I had ever known.

I remember having a conversation with my brother, this was during my conversion from legalism, when I realized I really wasn’t doing a good job following God’s law and felt really discouraged.  I knew all along I was screwing it up, but I was getting closer to admitting my own failings (obvious though they were).  He asked me why I was a Christian if I felt guilty all the time.  To quote John, “So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”  I was called to Jesus and even though I was struggling to understand, I knew there was nowhere else to go.  It was and is Jesus or nothing at all.

I spent a lot of time nursing my guilt and not turning to God because clearly He knew how bad I was.  You guys, I’m such a butthole.  Just last WEEK I watched Diners, Drive ins, and Dives just to make fun of Guy Fieri.  For, like, 2 hours.  Admittedly, I was handing out sick burns like a boss.  But just because you are particularly gifted in your sin of choice doesn’t mean it’s God glorifying.

Let’s get wordy y’all.  I knew that Jesus had died for my sins.  That work was done.  That’s justification.  Sanctification?  That was harder for me.  I thought that once I was justified it was up to me to follow the law.  To get my devotions on and love people well and to stop judging people and getting annoyed by things that do not matter.  Jerry Bridges says this: “So where the law condemns, grace forgives through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Where the law commands but gives no power, grace commands but does give power through the Holy Spirit who lives and works within us.”  I was not leaving room for the Holy Spirit.  I was trying to be nicer, and it wasn’t working.  No one wanted me on a leadership team in college.  I was “the least of these.”

A beautiful cocktail of good teaching, a friend who often said “There but for the Grace of God go I,”  and people who loved me opened my heart.  People who saw that I never did dishes and just helped me do them, people who didn’t gossip about others- not self righteously, but because the love of Christ drove their actions.  People who willingly offered the gospel of grace- those people showed me grace.  The Holy Spirit changed me and it used the people around me to do it.  I realized I was worse than I thought.  I saw that God loved me more than I deserved.  He loved me- not just when He died on the cross for me- but when I was binge eating fries because I just received bad news or when I was crying out against Him because we keep moving.

Spend a day with a toddler and watch her make the same mistakes over and over.  Spend a day with yourself and notice the same thing.  Prepare to be amazed by the grace of your Heavenly Father unto you.  Know that God longs to be reconciled with you- so repent with confidence!  Fess up to your slanderous words about a Food Network star.  Jesus paid it all.  

Thanks for being there for my sanctification Lord, because the closer I get to you the more I realize my sin is like the peeling of an onion.  Layered, odiferous, and sometimes makes you cry.  I can only close with this song by Bethany Dillon- a Campus Crusade muse for the ages- but as I grow in faith I realize just how on fleek ole B-Dills was.  I know you might not know her, but she’s married to one of the Shane’s from Shane and Shane and you have to know them.  I mean, you don’t have to.  But c’mon, you probably do right??

I follow all the rules, well at least I’m trying

Hoping when my days are through, You will be pleased

I’ve lived the longest days, thinking my heart was so bad

Too scared to look into Your face.  Oh if only I had.

 

 

a real case of the pregnants!

I know what you are thinking and the answer is- no.  This is not an elaborate practical joke.  I am indeed pregnant with my FOURTH CHILD.  I’d like to answer the burning questions you have right now.  I know you have them.  I always do.

  1.  Do you know how babies are made?

DO I EVER!

2.  Have you heard of birth control?

I have actually.  And I just trust myself to know that I’ll know when I’m ovulating.  And then I don’t actually know at all and I get a lil surprise baby #3 and then again a fourth time.

3.  Are you a supermom?

I don’t want you to confuse my family’s head count with good parenting.  #blessed

4.  You’re Michelle Duggar now right?  4 kids going on 19?

I don’t understand this comment and yet I do.  But 4 is SO MANY LESS than 19.  And I still have the remnants of a bayalage in my hair.  Until I get sky high front/back bangs, I will not lump myself in with the Duggars.  Plus, in the summertime, I still wear shorts and let Nick see my sexy knees.  How do you think I got pregnant this many times?

 4. How are you surviving?

I’m not really.  Unless you count reading Job while laying on the floor swallowing a dry heave as surviving.  Nick takes care of everyone.  But as of two days ago the heaves are receding and I feel #tooblessedtobestressed. And I also got this life changing maternity pillow at a bargain fair for 2 bucks.  Soo….

5.  Lay a truth bomb on us.  

K.  I will.  When I found out I was pregnant I was immediately and simultaneously filled with a giddy joy and a wary trepidation.  Joy for the newborn I will receive and trepidation for the feels, the weight, the overall weakness that pregnancy delivers at my doorstep. My pregnant self prefers to lay up in a corner and lick my wounds.  ALONE!  But, there are those pesky older kids.  And left unsupervised and undisciplined those guys go Lord of the Flies faster than you can say “just watch another episode of My Little Pony!”

6.  How are your symptoms so far?

So far this pregnancy I have been able to (by the Grace of God) control my mood swings.  I did hide in a closet once and cry, but I haven’t smashed anything with a bat yet.  I do predict I will be sustaining a constance low level of betchiness of which I am unaware until I see Nick looking at me like this:

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7.  Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?

Oh.  It’s a GIRL.  Because of the aforementioned dry heaves and the way I’m sort of carrying her down low and real wide.  Just picture Blake Lively pregnant and now picture the opposite of that and you’ll have a rough picture of what I’m working with.  We’re going to name her Ginevra Weasley.

This has been so fun internet, thank you.  In hindsight it was very prudent to name my blog “Nick Knocked Me Up” because he has and continues to do so.  Just like the majestic manatee I love so much, I too give birth every 2 years.  Now I know why manatees look that way.  Maternal fat stores.

would that I could use an emoji for this title.

Well.  How are things going in California?

Oh great.  I’ve founded a book club and sometimes all the other military spouses and I meet up and perform impromptu musical numbers in the street because there are so many of us in this neighborhood that it breeds the kind of joy only dancing can express.

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Alrightalright.  The truth is that tonight in bed and wept because I missed my friends and I don’t want to make new ones.  I wept in that way that your tears sort of fly off of your face and commingle with your mucus to make some sort of sick nasal cocktail that really does convey the depth of your grief.  “The salt from my tears is what feelings taste like.”

Try as I might, I can not kick the loneliness and general bummer that moving is.  I want to, for your sake.  People only want to hear about your sadness for so long, then they move on to watching Gilmore Girls reruns.  Is this a dark night of the soul for me?  I’d rate it somewhere between how Rory felt when Paris told everyone her mom made out with her English teacher and when Lorelei married Rory’s dad instead of Luke.

 

I could be wrong, but as a believer there is a certain amount of fear and shame that comes from admitting that you are not thriving.  “Nope!  Still sad!”  Doesn’t sound like the kind of thing you are supposed to say.  I wanted to stay in Norfolk, but God had other plans.  It’s not like I can tell Him I have nothing left to say to him and leave it at that.  Clearly there is purpose in this duty station.  So tonight I am really trying to pull my head out of the sand, look around, and see Jesus.  I am sad, I am disappointed, and I am adrift.  But no matter what I am feeling, I am reminded that I am never beyond the reach of His grace.*  It is so easy for me to despair and forget that the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.**  That when I sit with my head buried that He is not ignoring me, but sitting next to me with His hand on my shoulder.  The temptation remains to feel that His presence is gone when I am sad, that when I am failing, He abandons me until I can pull myself together.  But the truth is that He is near and accessible.

I don’t predict that the road ahead of me will be easy, but I do know that the Lord will throw unexpected blessings my way.  I also know that He will delight me with the comfort of His presence, if I would just maybe stop crying for, like, maybe even a minute and just let Him.

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I will remember His faithfulness to me, like when I was able to sit in the perfect spring weather, propped up against the brick and mortar of the most imperfectly perfect church around and spend time with the Lord.  I’ll remember that He doesn’t give up on me even though I’ve been reduced to googling tips for parenting strong willed children.  I’ll remember that He is for me and not against me when I am embarrassed by a toxic mix of my subpar parenting and my children’s willful disobedience in front of my neighbors.

“I have gone astray like a lost sheep;  seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.”  Psalm 119:176

Please seek me Lord.  I’m the one yelling “YOU LOOK LIKE YOU WERE RAISED BY WOLVES!!!!!” at my 3 year old.  Monterey, California.  Turn right past the sea otters and the kelp beds, past that forest fire, and you’ll find me.  Oh wait, you’re already here!

*Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

**Psalm 145:8

***I didn’t really start a book club.   If I did, do you want to come?!?!

hip hip. 

me. pretending to be hip.

Well, I just got sucked into a black hole of hipness.  One Instagram picture led to another and suddenly I wondered why I wasn’t the kind of person who could get 216 likes on a picture of a potted succulent.
Why am I not hip? How do some people become hip and others don’t?  I will list here some reasons that I don’t think I’m hip:

-Hip people are generally sincere about their likes and dislikes.  That sincerity translates into confidence.  And so it is with confidence that they purchase and wear a fedora.

-I am lazy and finding hip restaurants takes research and effort and time I’d rather be using to watch “Lakefront Bargain Hunt.”

-I could pick up a book.  Hip people have used book store memberships.  And read poetry.  They’re not into reformed theology or HGTV magazine.

-Trendsetting is not my thing.  Let something get good and established before I go after it.  Oh hello UGG boots that I just got!

– I’ve never thought: “I should buy those overalls.”

-I’ve also never thought “What’s a good hashtag for my juice cleanse.”

If I tried to Instagram a picture of tiny hearts, people would view it as a cry for help.  I need to accept my glaring banality and celebrate it!

I’m a card carrying member of the struggle bus.  But maybe I should get a succulent, just to see how the other half is living.  Will I think outside the box the closer I get to my succulent?  Will I start thinking in Toad and the Wet Sprocket lyrics??  What if I not only get one succulent, but build an entire pallet wall of succulents??  Think of how hip that would be.

I think I could have been hip, I was just plopped down in the wrong era.  I mean, liking manatees in middle school would probably be so ironic it would be cool now.  But alas, I was not.  So I will stay the non cold press coffee drinker that I am and remain forever faithful to my Keurig.

 

Kaley Out.

One year postpartum check up. 

Oh hey!  I’m writing to you because I just won a fit mom award for my vigorous participation in Stroller Strides!  Oprah is flying me out to film a featurette for Weight Watchers and FYI I look great.

Lol!

So, it’s been a year (and change) since I gave birth to a 9 pound baby, bless his heart.

Things are lumpy.  Things are stretched.  There are wrinkles and this one weird patch of skin where Henry kept his toes.

I prioritize exercise and diet somewhere down there with mopping the floors and baseboard maintenance.  Not that there is anything wrong with those things,  it’s just that I have so many other things I would rather do than eat a steamed sweet potato while jogging my three kids around the block.  Those things include, but are not limited to: reading, watching HGTV, smelling my kids heads, thinking about coffee, doing my job, where is that smell coming from, can baseboards start to smell?, googling baseboard maintenance, the Joss and Main app on my phone, praying, thinking, bible, napping, coloring pictures of My Little Ponies, using baby wipes on everything within reach, magazines, hugs, Calico Critters, hangin with Mr. Cooper,  texting, nap time, and various and sundry and other stuff too.

The point is, I’m busy even WITHOUT exercising and meal planning.  So, what next?  I do believe the next step is accepting and celebrating that this is how I look now.  Limit myself to one donut hole per offer to eat donut holes.  Stop buying giant bags of m&m’s and then tell yourself you are beautiful.  Because you are!  Focus on being kind and the great mercies of the Lord unto you, and sing Frozen songs!

I look like I had three babies.  And that. is. oh. kay.

It sure is true that I could go to the doctor on Botched and say “Can you please fix my saggy left boob, cuz it’s just a mess!”  and probably no one would blame me.  But when I think about this verse:

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

I just can’t see Jesus looking at me and saying- “Good work Kaley.  Now about that boob job”  Jesus wrote each one of my children into my life, and gave me the kind of genes that don’t wear a bikini to the beach after birthing those babies.  It’s probably because He wanted to protect well meaning Christian men from being sucked down into temptation.  Okay, it’s not that.  I think it is enough to say that HE is enough.  Being a good stewart of your body is great, but it’s not the only thing.  I like making other people feel comfortable around me.  I don’t think people would feel comfortable if I looked like Gigi Hadid.  They want a gal pal akin to Molly Weasley.  And great comedy can not come out of flawless beauty.  It can only come out of relatable looks.  Squashy butts and laugh lines.  So I am thankful, because Jesus gave me the perfect body for my personality.  I’m not thankful about getting a neck pimple at 30, but it’s just a fallen world people okay?