The Battle for My Epic Door Collage and How My Parents Encouraged My Self-Expression

The Battle In middle school I started a door collage. A door collage, you wonder . . . . Yes, it was my pre-teen, then teen form of self-expression. I am not sure what motivated me to start. Maybe it was my obsession with Allen Iverson from the 76ers . . . I don’t really follow many sports, but I saw an article about him in my dad’s Sports Illustrated magazine and it spurred a short-lived interest in him and professional basketball. Embarrassingly, his pictures were the first to be taped to my door. (To be fair, I do really enjoy basketball, … Read more…

Hospitality When You Have Young Children

I used to wonder how parents could manage to be hospitable when they were wrangling small kids, constantly picking up toys, wiping noses and bottoms, and trying to maintain children’s sleeping schedules. Fortunately, I have been inspired by many young moms through the years. Currently at church there are several moms who consistently open up their homes for playdates, small groups, bonfires, or other get togethers, despite having young kids. I love that young moms still stretch themselves to be welcoming and hospitable, even if their homes are not perfect or the sliding glass doors have finger prints. Hey, life happens. And … Read more…

How do I connect with God when I am a busy parent?

Each week I am going to begin taking one to two days to talk about intentionally building faith in the home. This is at the heart of The Engaged Home and at the heart of what I believe is a major purpose of parenting. This is not a new topic to The Engaged Home. However, it is one I want to engage in conversation about more by sharing my insights, my ideas for different ages of kids, my favorite resources, and by opening up the conversation in the comments or through guest posts. I have several things I am excited to share with you, … Read more…

If Only Life Came with a Pattern . . . Oh Wait, It Does!

In Psalm 142:3 David proclaims, “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Reading this made me feel both grateful and disappointed. I am thankful that God will breathe strength into our weary hearts and guide us when we are overwhelmed. Still, some days I want a pattern in life to follow that will reveal the finished product. What will the tapestry of my life be? Like the picture on the front of the puzzle box, I want to know how it all fits together. But, oh, how forgetful I can be! God gave us the ultimate pattern to … Read more…

Gather Around Inspirations

Gather Around Inspirations will be my new Tuesday feature, focusing on books, art, and music worth gathering around. Call me old-fashioned, but I love the imagery of families gathered in front of the hearth, sewing or relaxing while someone reads aloud or plays the violin. Often they read from the Bible or classics like Tennyson. It is idyllic, I know. It may not have involved a fireplace, but some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around books. Whether that meant reading through Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my mom, The Chronicles of Narnia with my dad, admiring pictures in picture books, scoping out … Read more…

The Benefits of Learning a Second Language

Yesterday, my mom called to tell me about a woman who called her for help but couldn’t speak English. “Nathana, while we visit, can you teach me some Spanish?” “Well, mom, I haven’t taken Spanish since my sophomore year of high school, I don’t really remember anything . . . “ “Oh sure you do, your teacher said you were a natural and so good you could teach it!” (I really wasn’t that good . . .) “It was a long time ago mom. I learned it fast, but I also forgot it fast. I mean, I only took it … Read more…

Yarn Along: Finding Beauty and Finishing My Winter Projects

The other day I found myself thinking how all life is poetry if we look close and listen. Even the hard moments. The flecks of color in my cracker, a baby’s cries, dust on the window sill, and the dripping of snow off the house. I am trying to slow down and observe life, especially in the hard moments. There is beauty everywhere, even among pain and tears. Still, it is hard to slow down and see. Though my eyes may be open, my heart is often blind. And some days just don’t get off to a beautiful start. Not because beauty … Read more…

Stay-at-Home Mom Seeking a Friend . . .

Have you ever felt like posting a wanted ad for a friend? For me, the realization hit when we graduated college and moved across the country: it is a lot harder to make friends as a young adult (post-college). At least it felt that way to me. During college, I was surrounded by friends, ranging from close, intimate friendships, to friendly acquaintances. Whether studying, grabbing coffee, watching movies, talking, praying, or eating wings at Applebees, there were always available friends. And, I am happy to say that I have stayed in contact with many of those friends–thank you technology! However, we are separated … Read more…

The Cure to Loneliness

Yesterday, I watched the snow fall. The feathery, fluffy flakes started slow and lazy, but they soon gained momentum as they came in contact with each other and began to clump. Soon, everything was covered in a fresh, white layer of snow. When we allow ourselves to accept God’s love and grace, it blankets our hearts in such a way that God doesn’t see our sin. He sees His child. He sees the blood that Jesus shed to bring us back to him. His love working in our hearts begins to shape every interaction we have. Not all of these … Read more…

Valentine’s Day: A Family Affair

Valentine’s Day. Do you love it or hate it or celebrate it at all? I know people who are all over the spectrum on their feelings about this famous holiday. Mitch and I always treat it as an excuse to go on a slightly nicer date than usual. Sometimes we will budget to buy ourselves gifts while we are out. One year, while we lived in Phoenix, we trekked up to the Grand Canyon, snow and all. It was Mitch’s first time. We remember just standing at the edge and staring at the vastness in silence. Later, on that road … Read more…

Free Printable Valentines, Stationary, and Scripture Cards

Last week I created a devotional for our youth groups girls about identity and who we are in Christ. (You can download the devotional to encourage yourself or use within your own youth group.) This message was on my heart for weeks. We have so many influences trying to shape us, I think it is important to back up and affirm that we are loved by God, God’s child, beautifully created, made for a purpose, holy through Jesus, valued, forgiven, redeemed, called out of darkness, filled with the Holy Spirit, and ENOUGH.  From those truths, good characteristics and fruits will naturally begin to … Read more…

Are You Kind to Yourself? #WholeMama

I think we often associate kindness with our attitude toward others. But I am learning that kindness begins with myself. If I am beating myself up with guilt over my failures or perceived shortcomings, if I am constantly comparing myself to the edited versions of others, I am creating a heart that is critical. Critical of myself and critical of others. This heart opens itself up to bitterness. Though I may don a kind smile or share a kind word, if I am not learning to treat myself with kindness and grace, the contents of my heart may not be … Read more…

A New Take on Coloring: An Interview with Andrew Miller

Have you ever known someone who has inspired you to be more creative and to pursue your passions?  I have a couple of those people in my life who inspire creativity and courage within my heart simply by their example of embracing creativity and hustling after their goals. One of those people in my life is Andrew Miller. He was a college classmate and friend of mine and one of my husband’s college roommates. (Andrew with his wife Sonia and daughter Anya.) Mitch and I made a point to stay in touch, as much as possible, with Andrew and his wife Sonia after … Read more…

Healthy, Heart-Shaped Pancakes

Rebekah tested low in iron recently, probably because she has been battling off sickness. Regardless, I decided it was time to boost her with some iron-rich foods. She has been more interested in baby purees and finger foods over the past couple weeks. The baby cereals seem to have a lot of iron, but they sometimes feel like filler. It was time to get more creative, so the other day I decided I would try and make pancakes using her baby oatmeal. It’s essentially oat-flour anyways, right? And to make it more fun, I decided to make them heart shaped. Just because … Read more…

Letting Go

Have you ever seen those stubborn winter trees who refuse to drop their leaves? The wind blows, the snow falls, and they endure. Those old brown leaves remain withered on the branches until spring overtakes them. I used to admire these trees. I thought, What determination they have. They are lesson in perseverance. But the other day I realized they are not persevering. They are resisting change, resisting transformation. Fall purposefully strips away leaves in preparation for winter and then the rebirth of spring. But here they are in mid-winter clinging to death. When spring unfolds her fragrant garment of new grass, tulips, and budding … Read more…

What is #EngagingLife?

#EngagingLife

If your new year didn’t come with the changes you had hoped. Remember that God gives us not only new years, but new days, and even new moments. Yesterday I had to hit the reset button several times. Gratitude is the key to joy, but Satan wants to keep us stressed and discouraged. God has been working on my heart to seek the beauty in every moment. To fully connect and claim the moments. To choose to see the beauty, even in the ugly. Over a year ago, this idea was but a whisper in my mind. This very whisper lead to me … Read more…