Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sometimes crying makes you softer.

Those things that make you hard.

Hurtful comments.

the ones that just immediately pull a response right up from your gut.  They physically hurt..right there.  And in your chest.

You know they need a response.  The response you want to give right now is hard and sharp!

It’s like sharp shards of obsidian. All black and glossy and with jagged, broken, edges.


photo credit

There are screams and yells in your chest that are stay in or jump out. Hard to tell.

There are bad words in your mouth that taste stale and raw at the same time.

There is just sharp hard pain and an immediate response that is to cause more sharp hard pain.  Maybe if I hurt someone else this feeling, this struggle and this taste will leave me!

That has never been the case in the past…so I push through.  Hold on.


in the breathing the pain lessens.


in the breathing the struggle releases.


in the breathing the taste changes.


in the breathing the tears begin to flow and the jagged edges soften.

Each breath is a prayer, each tear is a sigh toward heaven.

This breathing, these tears bring a loving response, to myself and to the one who spoke the hurt.

Maybe that broken, jagged obsidian shard was lodged in their heart when they spoke.

Prayers for the breath and tears to soften them.


We have all been hurt by another of our fellow women who walk this planet together, and we have all hurt others.  This is nothing new, and it will happen again.  But I think there is a reason and a purpose for our crying.  Sometimes it makes you softer.  Is that why we like our “chick flicks”.  Do they soften us toward one another because the act of crying softens us?



How did I get here?

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How DID I get here?

Where is here?  Right here. Right now.  Doing whatever I am doing?

How did you get where you are? Right here. Right now.  Doing whatever it is that you are doing?

It takes some looking back. Some looking around.

It takes an imagination and a memory.

It takes honesty. humility. courage.

It takes a stepping back. a stepping apart from who you are.

So, How did you get here?

It has been a long long road with a ton of twists and turns, tunnels, stops, backing up, going forward, looking ahead, looking behind, looking around.

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Here is where I am.  Seldom do we take the time to assess, truly assess where and who we are right now, and then look back on how we got here.

The more I do that, the more I am absolutely amazed at how far I have actually grown and changed and become more of what I want to be.  When we focus only on the present or the future, we may get discouraged because we aren’t where or what we want to be.  But have you glanced back there?

Have you looked at who and where you were? last year? five years ago? ten? Longer?

I look back and see someone who thought they had it all under control on the outside.  Hurting on the inside.  Someone who had many vices and crutches, wishes and dreams, someone who was scared and desperately wanted everything tied up neatly in a list of how and what to do in order to do life right.

I look back. And the places where I see the most positive growth are either the really hard places when life fell apart and I had no idea how to get one foot in front of the other, but I knew I just needed to keep plodding along.  And those scary places that were partly exciting because they were new paths with no clear end or set of rules.  New beginnings when I felt a call to move in a direction and without having all the answers trustingly took that step forward and waited for a call to take the next step and the next.

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What do these two different types of experiences have in common?

I was not in control!  I was blind and trusting.  I was leaning on my creator as my loving guide.

This God-sized dream has those same qualities so, I am excited to see what God has planned.


This is part of the God-Sized Dreaming series.  To see what others are dreaming about, click on the button below.

God-Sized Dreams

Weekends are for forts, friends, food, and fur (among other things that don’t start with F)

The weekend began with some dragon slaying!  The boys have been learning what it means to slay dragons (distractions, poor behavior choices, and difficult events) in our everyday life.  This particular night dad helped them to create a game around the dragons that they have learned about so far.



Saturday began with a variety of tasks, chores, and church and schoolwork.  Science experiments are always more fun that reading, writing, and working math problems….at least for this crew.



Then it was time for friends and fort building!!  Even better than science experiments!




We are so blessed and thankful for such a wonderful view in our backyard!  Every day I am grateful for how God brought us here to such a beautiful riverfront right in the city limits (rather a small city).


The weekend was also filled with yummy food.



It’s just not the weekend around here without donuts!


I have re-established a relationship with a tool that I often disparaged and swore I would never use again.  Thanks to my wonderful girlfriends who gifted me a crockpot on my birthday.  I had so many failures years and years ago with crockpot meals that when mine broke (8 years ago) I never wanted to replace it.  I have tried new recipes and have been pleasantly surprised.  This past week I used it four days in a row with wonderful and pleasing results!  That is chicken taco filling  in there…Yum!!


We are still working hard in introducing our two bunnies who share your home.  We are determined to get them through this and become friends.  From my reading it will take work and time.  Dedication and perseverance… that’s a lesson we could all use.





They look like they are being friends here, but it was just a the little guy enjoying some petting from his people that relaxed him. 100_4899

I also made a quick trip and scored a couple of finds for 75% off!  Yay!


We had a fun and productive weekend.

I hope yours was too!



The Joy of the Mundane


Most of the time it seems our lists and chores and errands are just something to get done and get out of the way.  They aren’t joy-filled, or joy-making.  We view them as joy-destroying.  Endless drudgery that must be done over and over and over again and no one cares and no one notices.  I have felt this way, and will probably sink down into it and feel it again, but I won’t stay there.  Not after what I have learned.  I have learned to find hope and joy among the laundry and dishes.

I want you to find it too.

It has to do with the lenses which we use to focus on the mundane drudgery that is part of our daily existence.  We create mess every day.  We must prepare meals every day.  It can seem like a life sentence confining us to endlessly repeat the same tasks over and over again and never make any progress forward, for as soon as the hamper is empty, someone puts something dirty in it.  As soon as the sink is empty, someone puts something dirty in it.  We feel emptied by the work and then we put something dirty in it.  Dirty thoughts of hopelessness, drudgery,  not being appreciated or loved, taken advantage of, used up and useless all at the same time…and so many more.  This is a vicious cycle and this is what women have railed against for years.  ”We need only think of how the gift of motherhood is often penalized rather than rewarded, even though humanity owes it’s very survival to this gift.” (John Paul II, On the Dignity of Women).  But there is more to it….there is beauty and purpose in it. There is something that those who belittle this vocation and womanhood have missed.

We have been tricked into looking at our life through the wrong lens.

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We were created by a loving and generous God in His image and He said that we are good (Gen1:27-31). God’s first instructions to man and woman was to work…be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth, til it and keep it. (Gen 1:26, 2:15).  Work was not a burden in the beginning.  It was a sharing in the creative work of God.  Blessed John Paul II talks extensively about the dignity of work and the worker, no matter what the work, or where it’s done and that this work is what makes us even more human.  Work is the mark of a family…”the mark of a person operating within a community of persons”.  He calls the family “a community made possible by work and the first school of work within the home for every person.” (Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens)  Including us moms.  If we think about it, we are always being “schooled” in the areas of housework.  There are so many books, blogs, websites, articles in papers and magazines on housekeeping, cleaning, organizing, parenting,…the list goes on.  So, from the beginning and without end our “home”work is learned in our homes, every day.  We, as mothers and wives, are the primary learners and teachers of this “home”work.  If it is such an important part of our family and our world, then why is it so difficult and wearisome to our spirits? What about our lens?

“Awareness that man’s work is a participation in God’s activity ought to permeate….”the most ordinary everyday activities.  For while providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society.” (Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens).  So,the first filter we need to attach to our lens is that of work having purpose in the life of man.  That work was created for man, after man was created.  That work is important to the very fabric of our world.  With only this filter, we can see that there is a need for work and that God told us to do it, but it still isn’t quite clear.  We work out of innate human-ness and out of obedience to God.

But there is still  more.


If we look to our Lord, Jesus Christ, He had some things to show us and to tell us.  Both Matthew (20:28) and Mark (10:45) tell us that Jesus, the greatest of all, came to serve and not to be served.  If the one who can do all things came to serve us who can do nothing without Him, then we too should be here to serve and not to be served.  I have heard it over and over again that if you are feeling down and sad, serve someone; if you are feeling lonely and your life pointless, serve someone; if you are feeling guilty and angry, serve someone.  Service to others is not only a way of following Christ’s example but it lifts us up inside.  It actually makes us feel good.  So, in practice I can see this when serving in the community or serving those in need, but it is hard to see our work in the home as service to someone in need.  When we look through the filter of expectations and return for investment, we don’t get lifted up, because our family is not applauding us for our work.  We are tired and worn down, but if we turn and look to Jesus we hear Him saying:

“Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Here, Jesus says he will help us bear the burden if we go to Him.  So, we turn from our worldly expectations of applause and thanks, we turn from the world that John Paul II stated is often looking down on the vocation of women as mothers, we turn from our own disillusionment and go to Christ who will be our help.  Just as God made woman to help man, so Christ promises to help us.  We are to be Co-workers with Christ.


Suddenly I”m not doing this alone, in the darkness of my own despair.  Jesus is with me! In me! and working through me!  And what is Christ, if not love?  “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” (1John 4:16). God is love and He is in me!!  I have Love right there inside of me…what do I do with that love?  “…let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (1John3:18).  So, love isn’t a feeling, love is a doing!!  I must DO in order to love. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:1-2).   Christ told me to learn from Him, to cast my cares on Him, that he would help me, that He is love and I should imitate and share that love, by imitating Him, by making my work a unified sacrifice with Christ and therefore a fragrant offering to God.  My laundry can be a bouquet for God the Father through Christ and with Christ!  That definitely brings a different filter to add to my  lens.100_3730

“When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it’s true, I think I’m due some appreciation.  So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy.  But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains.  Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. ..The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts).

We are given the choice to share lovingly in the work that Christ came to do by enduring the toils, and hardships of work and collaborating with Christ who was crucified for us to help redeem the world.  Our work is redemptive when united with Christ’s work.  By carrying our cross daily in the work of our home and family we show that we are disciples of Christ and that our work can be a means of our own holiness and a way of bringing the Spirit and love of Christ into the ordinary activities of everyday.  We have been endowed with the “Genius of women” who by way of our ordinary life we “reveal the gift of (our) womanhood by placing (ourselves) at the service of others in (our) everyday lives.  For in giving (ourselves) to others each day (we) women fulfill (our) deepest vocation” (Blessed John Paul II, On the Dignity of Women).2008 Florida 042

Which lenses will you choose today?

Today I choose Joy!  (if only I remembered to pick up the right lens every day!)





Who’s got your back?


Partners in crime?

Support network?




So many names for those who are there for us through thick and thin.  But are they really and truly there?  When things get tough and we get in that dark space, do we reach for them?  If so, which ones?

This morning,  I didn’t believe in a dream and I was in a dark space.  In the past, I have dwelt there, and wallowed there, and pitied myself there.  I may again in the future, but not this time,  who did I instinctively reach for?



He is my one and only, true, always there no matter what, got my back support!!  He. Is. It.

It really took me a long time to find Him.  To trust that someone I couldn’t see or hear was really there.  With me always. And that turning to Him actually makes a difference in this here and now life.

At once, He reminded me that He is there! Then He laid His loving hands on my shoulder and told me to look around and he gently spun me around my mind’s room and swept His arm in front of me showing me all those who are there to help me.

First was my main line of cheerleaders!  My boys! Shouting and cheering and loving me!



Then was my loving wonderful husband who would bend over backwards to support any dream I had.


Then was my mom, my mother-in-law, My extended family and sisters-in-law…all clapping, or standing silently with the warmth of a loving smile on their faces. None of them live very close, but I know that they love me, pray for me, and think of me. I just wish I had more photos of those beautiful faces to share.

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Then was my girlfriends.  Those women who have made it a commitment to uphold and support each other through all things-no matter what.  I know that they are there for me and will be there even when I am too proud to ask for help.  They have proven that over and over again with each other!


My fellow blogger, Mandy is among those women and she is on this God-sized dream journey as well.  She is encouraging this journey specifically, and has been a big motivator and source of information and support on this blogging thing.


Then Jesus turned me back around and held me.  Held me tight as I stood in my bathroom.  All alone smiling and feeling filled up with all the wonderful people He has shown to me.  I glance behind Him and I see other people I know, have known, or have recently met.  Also standing with Him in support of me.  Only through His help can those dark moments be brought to the light so quickly and turned into a loving embrace from Him, through all the wonderful people in my life.

I am blessed!  I have a whole cheering section-and I would bet you do too.

Join all the other dreamers at the link below.


God-Sized Dreams

Weekends are for Sweets, sons, and simple blessings

It was a fast weekend.  It seemed to go by so very quickly.  Just not enough time to savor all that I want to soak up in a weekend.

I had minor outpatient surgery on Monday that went fine, but is taking more time than I had expected to recover and get back on my feet.  I thank God for my sisters in Christ who provided us with meals every single night and were there for anything I might possibly need.  What great friends!  These wonderful ladies are simple blessings for me!

So, Saturday I mostly sat around, did a very quick grocery stop (remember those sisters who cooked for me?, well, the residual blessing was that I didn’t have much to shop for while still recovering either).

I haven’t baked in awhile and one of those awesome sisters of mine offered to watch my boys while my sweet husband and I got out for a bit, so I baked some cookies to send along.  My current favorites.  I add chocolate chips, because everything is better with chocolate! A cookie, is a beautiful yummy simple blessing!


My second oldest came to visit for the weekend!  It is always so good to see those who don’t live with me.  The other boys like watching each other play computer games. (Tasty Planet this time) I will never understand the joy in that.  Brothers are a simple blessing.


Sunday morning. I snuggled into the corner of my couch with my prayers, books, and tablet…oh, and my cup of coffee! Coffee and books…simple, but a bountiful blessing!


I had a friend on the couch with me.


Then he got a ilttle closer as I was composing a post for Facebook.


Finally he decided that he was more important than anything I was currently trying to do. Fellowship of bunny friends is a simple blessing.


More sweets were in order once the kids were all ready to head to church.  Donuts are a joy to little boys.


I went down to the Detroit Institute of Arts to see my oldest son perform a dance program.  Unfortunately, I was off in my timing and found a parking spot just at the same time that he was scheduled to be FINISHED.  Yes, I missed it.  All of it.  BUT, I did retrieve him from his room and bring him home with me for the night.


So, I had ALL of my boys under one roof for about an hour before the other hand to leave.  An hour is better than nothing!  An hour of togetherness is a simple blessing.

I hope your weekend was filled with simple blessings as well.

First Steps in God-Sized Dreaming!


Trust and Joy!

I first thought of this post simply in terms of a checklist. Steps that I have taken in the past week.

But then I reread my first post and it hit me square in the head-Trust and joy.  I was avoiding those words.

Those words….

Those are the biggest part of my God-sized dream-truly they are.

Yes, I have done things this week that get me closer to checking things off of the lists on the pages of that cute journal. Yes, I have made progress that I am happy about.  Yes, I am feeling the effects of my re-commitment to the areas in my life that God first led me to.

But I need to remember I am NOT IN CHARGE of the list.  I must TRUST that He will lead and guide me.  I can feel Him.   I can feel a tug here, a pull there, a whisper of an idea here that just keeps nudging me.  Am I listening to those? Am I following those? Am I trusting that this is the right course and He will lead me to JOY?

So, steps lead to trust and joy in this dream?

I resolved to pray with my kids instead of yell at them.  I tried. Once. The prayer was sort of yelled. And really wasn’t all that kind. Not even sure that can be called a prayer with those characteristics.   I CAN say that it is a step in the right direction though.  It put a hiccup in the usual way of reacting.  It is a step and the next one will be better!  I trust that He will help me to move even closer toward true kindness and prayer.

557I found a 1/2 marathon and printed out a schedule for running.  I haven’t signed up yet and the schedule starts tomorrow.  I have been on this road before and didn’t quite make it.  There are immediate obstacles, but I am still trying to trust in this one.

I have been praying more.  I can feel a change in my interior life. Trusting that He hears.


I have given of myself more. Simply by listening.  Listening is hard work.  Keeping your attention on someone? it. takes. work.  Real work.  I am working those muscles and it feels good.  Trusting that what I hear from others is more important than what I think I need to say.057

So, there are some steps and there is some trust…but where is the joy?

I am finding that joy comes in the trusting. Knowing that I don’t have to have all the answers or direct all the events of a life. There is joy in that.

Joy comes in the tiny moment. Joy comes in the smallest little detail and the looking from a different way.  Joy comes in the unexpected. Joy is there…you just have to look.  Joy is in the sight of the man holding the almost teen wracked in sobs. Joy comes in the smile of the little one. Joy comes in the “love you” from the biggest one typed across the screen of a computer. Joy comes in the delight of the middle when he catches a little joke between the two of you. Joy comes in the man fighting the dragons that want to consume the peace in the house. Joy comes in the knowing that God is in charge and that He has given us each of these small moments to treasure. Joy comes in planning WITH God. Joy comes in accomplishing that which He has placed before you. When you aren’t slave to the list and allow it to unfold as He guides your day. Joy even comes in the sadness and the heartache of loss.  Joy is still there, with Him.  But you won’t see it if you don’t look. And you MUST look with TRUST to see the JOY in the pain and in the hard.


You must keep looking.  It won’t come if you are focused on the list as a task master.  It won’t come if you don’t keep your eye on Him!

Allow yourself to trust and to seek joy.

Allow and seek.  Good first steps.

God-Sized Dreams




Weekends are for the letter B

We had a Birthday this week.

Our smack dab in the middle boy turned 11.

While he and his friends were celebrating at a giant indoor play place, I baked cupcakes and another brother along with a neighbor had a blast decorating the basement for the continued celebration. I was surprised and overwhelmed with the joy they showed in decorating for a celebration that was to be enjoyed by others and not themselves.  What a beautiful example of joyful service they were for me and the rest of the family!






Our new Bunny was neutered and needed some extra cuddle time.



Boardgamesseem to be a regular event here lately.



Preparing for Bible study.



We had a very warm Saturday for this time of year which allowed for Bike riding and open doors with Breezes blowing through the house.



This was definitely a weekend brought to you by the letter B.

What letter filled your weekend?



God-sized dreaming….

IMAG0341Dreams. We all have them.

Some we forget, some we treasure, some are painful, some we just put away for another time, another day.

They seem so far away, so distant, so….other.

And “God-sized” dreams? Who has time for that?!?!

Well….you do!

Join me as I travel this road and series of posts by Holley Gerth

God-Sized Dreams

My God-sized dream:

Well, wait a minute, what does that mean?

It’s simple. Where is God calling you.

And He’s not actually calling me anywhere other than where I am.

My dream is Huge to me, but rather tiny to the world.

I am using this dream time to recommit…recommit to what He has already been calling me to.003It started here, well, it probably started in my heart, but out in the world this is where it began.  Some colored Sharpies and a really cute Journal.  Truly now, who could resist this!!  Not this stationery loving girl!

Lot’s of prayer and talking with my dear sweet husband led to “stuff” getting put on paper….


Well, that’s a start anyway….then,


A page for every area that I wanted to recommit to in this bright shiny new year and some fun colorful mindmapping!!

So, I have areas that I want to recommit to.  Areas like: God, Family, Connections, Creativity, …

Now what?


Now It becomes bite-sized pieces each month.  Here’s my page for January. I use that to make small daily lists tasks to move me toward reaching these goals.

One of the best parts about this is the fun journal and the colorful markers. Did I happen to mention them?

It’s best to make changes in ways that excite and energize you, and if that’s fun paper and markers, then so be it!

And did you happen to notice inside the front cover?

That word?

I’m striving to infuse this whole dream time with That Word.  I miss that word.  I am actually a bit scared to dream joyfully.  Won’t I miss something if everything isn’t perfectly in place and accomplished on time?  Won’t I be doing it wrong? I really need to embrace this word!  Of course the underlying truth behind joy is trust.  Yes, I have to trust God in this and I have to trust the people He has placed in my life.  That too scares me.  So, with excitement about colored markers and a cute journal, I timidly reach forward with trust and embrace joy!

Definitely going to need help with this one.  Good thing He’s got my back.  After all, He gave me the dream in the first place.

So, what’s your God-sized Dream?

God-Sized Dreams

Weekends are for…bunnies, baths, books, and brothers


Purzel bath

Our relaxed “old man”, Purzel getting a bunny bath in the sunshine.

RiesenOur new “baby”, Riesen, hanging out in his new home.

Bunny penHis new larger home in our basement. His previous home was about a 1/4 this size in a very large dark barn with about 2oo other rabbits.

845During our evening story time with Dad, we opened his house into the larger space of the basement.  Mostly he hid behind whoever was sitting in there with him.

836This was about as far as he made it out…well, a few more steps, he actually stuck his head outside the now imaginary wall of his pen.

844waiting for bunny to emerge while listening to daddy read.

822Little brother reading stories to big brother, both fresh and clean after their own baths.

831lots of drawings were created this weekend…sketches…

832colorful markers…and piles of paper…

855and a few Legos mixed in among the drawings.

848and a few chips mixed in among the Legos.

851and finally a little snow time thrown in as well.  Can you find the second child in the photo?

Hint: his boots are red!

I pray your weekend was a blessing!