Saturday, July 8, 2017

Motherhood: Surprised by Grace

“I regret that we never took a REAL vacation. I get sad about it sometimes. But only for you guys, never sad for myself…”

My mother’s face was apologetic, and I smiled reassuringly.

“Mom, I honestly never thought much about it!”

It made my heart tighten to think that my mother- my biggest inspiration- would think that the childhood she gave us was lacking. But I understood perfectly. Now that I’m grown with children of my own, I get how easy it is to worry about the things and experiences you can’t give to your children. But you want to know what I’ve learned?

The biggest surprise of motherhood has been that what I can’t give doesn’t matter. 

There is grace in that, mommas. So much grace!

Listen, I know there are moms out there who are struggling to make it- maybe even on their own- and regretting the things that they cannot give their children. The guilt can be crippling sometimes.

You wake up before the sun and work a job (or two, or three, like my mother) that you don’t love simply to keep the lights on and food on the table. You fight to make it to every game and concert and activity even though you can’t really afford to miss work. You make sure not to make promises for fear that you won’t be able to follow through. You have restless nights worrying about how you’ll afford school supplies, uniforms, fees, and club memberships, and you know the pain of seeing your child’s face drop when you have to say no again because the money just isn’t there. You also cry, but you’ve gotten really good at hiding it, because they aren’t tears for you, they’re tears for them.

I know you do. I know it because I saw my own mother do it. Although, I didn’t really understand the depth of it- not until I had kids.

Oh mommas… don’t you know by now? Don’t you see? The material things that we can’t give our children do not matter. Not even a little bit.

What I took away from my childhood was so much more important than getting to stay a couple nights in a hotel room and ride some rollercoasters. A day at the beach could never have taught me what I know about mothering from watching my own mother. Hard work. Dedication. A spirit of determination. Accepting help when you need it, and never taking more than you need. Gratefulness. Joy in what you have, instead of sorrow for what you haven’t. And love.

And love.

And love.

Love in the form of late nights and early mornings, endless chauffeuring to games and activities, heart and soul- not money- poured into the simplest of days to make them special, ears that listened, pride swallowed, body broken, hands calloused, eyes tired, and heart full.

But can I tell you something? They see it. Your children. You might think they don’t care or appreciate you, but they see it. And someday, they’ll understand it too. They will feel it in their bones. Your love-struggle will be interwoven into the innermost fabric of their very being.

Don’t you see that what you’re giving them is so much more important than what you can’t give them?

You know what breaks my heart even more than knowing that *I* never got to take a vacation as a kid? It’s knowing that my mother never got a vacation. Because now that I’m a mom I know. I know that no one in the world deserved it more than her. Not for us, for her. For YOU, momma… but it never mattered to her as long as we were healthy and happy.

You have not struggled for nothing, momma… so keep going.

Everyday Light is an exclusive member of Becky Thompson’s Writer Network. For more information on how to join, go to

Friday, June 2, 2017

National Donut Day 2017

This might as well be a national holiday for me. My love for donuts- particularly sprinkled ones- runs deep. Here's a recent conversation between my husband and I about the fact that he went to the new donut joint without me:

And here is a picture of me with a donut as big as my face, because I am nothing if not classy. Go big or go home, I say.

So I'd love to stay and chat, but we're dashing down the street to our local donut hole, Daylight Donuts, to grab a dozen (or so...)

How will you be celebrating?


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Everyday #Goals: June

It’s June. Yes, you read that correctly. JUNE. As in, nearly half of the year is already gone. How am I handling it? Well, my house is in boxes, I don’t know whether or not I’m going to have a house to move into in a couple of weeks, and I just hid in the pantry to eat the last s’mores Pop Tart, so you could say I’m slaying at this 2017 thing.

Seriously though, it’s not been that bad. We’ve got a week-and-a-half left of school until our summer break and (fingers crossed) our move into a new house, so it’s about to get REAL, and so I’m getting organized. Here are my goals for June:

1. Finish the last of our school work and have an End of Year Party
I am SO proud of how well we’ve done this year with homeschooling. We’ve been consistent in doing school and I have rarely felt burnt out. I attribute all of this to our new Year-Round Homeschooling schedule, which I plan to talk about in an upcoming post. It was a total game-changer for us! Just a few more days of school work (mostly fun things!) and we’re officially finished with the 2016-17 school year! We're planning to celebrate with ice cream and a trip to the splash pad!

2. Finish packing up the house
Truth: I did a HUGE purge in every room of the house last summer and it has made it incredibly easy to pack up to move (if you haven't read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, drop everything and get it now). We stopped packing a few weeks ago because we needed everything that was left! It’s getting down to the wire now, and it’s time to get the rest of those things packed up!

3. Unpack bedrooms in *new* house
I’m trying to be realistic with unpacking the new place. It’s not going to feel completely unpacked for a while, but I would like for the kids to feel settled nearly right away, and I’d like for Ryan and I to have our room unpacked as well. That will make a big difference in feeling at home in the new place.

4. Read all of Charlotte Mason’s Principles (summarized here)
I’ve been really encouraged by the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling and I’m looking forward to implementing many of those principles next year using AmblesideOnline! Planning ahead is an absolute necessity for me to feel like I can handle this homeschool thing. Doing the majority of the work up-front allows the rest of the year to run fairly smoothly, so I’m in the midst of curriculum planning right now!

5. Remember to take time to breathe
Our new neighborhood is going to have a pool and a park, so I am planning on taking full advantage of those free ways to entertain my family. My hammock will also be getting quite a bit of use this month and next. If I don’t take care of myself, how can I expect to care for my family?

6. One photo every day
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that earlier this year, I put down my camera and abandoned all of my personal projects in an effort to get some perspective and clarity in my life… but now I’m ready to pick it back up. I NEED that creative outlet. I absolutely love photography, and I really can’t wait to find new ways to capture our life.

Do you have some goals for this month? Are you vacationing for summer and have ZERO goals? Wish us luck on our upcoming move and stay tuned for the adventure!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Everyday Light Life: Lately

I haven't been accidentally neglecting this space. I've been purposely avoiding it. A few months ago, I set down my camera, set aside my blog, and dropped all my personal projects in order to find perspective and clarity in my life. Posting has been sporadic because I just needed some breathing room. I wrote about this on a recent post on Instagram, but to summarize, I found that setting aside creative endeavors only caused the usual chaos in my life to feel completely unmanageable. So little by little, I'm making space in my life for these forms of expression. But there have been some pretty big changes in the months since I last blogged regularly, and I thought this might be a good time to catch up. Here are a few things you might've missed if you don't follow me in Instagram:

I have pink hair now
Oh yeah. It's a whole thing... I've even been stepping outside my style comfort zone and wearing pink. I'm convinced I was supposed to have been born with pink hair. You can follow my attempts on Instagram with the hashtag #adventuresinwearingpink. You can find out more about the products I use to maintain my pink hair by using the hashtag #everydaylighthair.

We're selling the #AhlgrimHaus
This is still a tender subject for me, because it's really difficult to say good bye to such a gem of a home, but the reality is that we need to move on. We listed the house For Sale By Owner at the beginning of May. After two days, two showings, and two offers, we were under contract and stuffing our belongings into moving boxes. We're under contract to buy a new home, but it's an uncertain deal at the moment, to be frank. It's been a stressful couple of months, because apparently it's difficult to get a mortgage on a new home when you own several properties already. Which leads us to our next development...

We're house flippers now
So you may or may  not know that my husband and I own a small leasing and management company. But this year, we officially (and successfully) made our foray into the world of house flipping. We've finished one and are in the process of selling it, and already have our second one nearly finished. It's been a goal of ours for a few years now, so it's really exciting to finally be stepping further into that role. You can follow those misadventures using the hashtag #flippingthe918 on Instagram.

I guess that's kind of it for now. I feel like There are some really big things on the horizon, but we just can't touch them yet. Right now, there is a lot of trusting in God's plan and holding on for dear life. I'm glad to be back, and I hope you'll stay with me.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Biggest Lie About the Proverbs 31 Woman

Can we talk just for a second about the Proverbs 31 Woman? I know. You’ve seen all of the blog posts and read all the books and shared all the hand-lettered graphics about her. She’s who you’re supposed to want to be, right? She’s what we’re supposed to be striving for. She’s the reason you took up knitting. She’s the prime example of a God-fearing woman. But ladies… I just can’t.

I can. not.

You want to know which part of Proverbs 31 gets me the most? “She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household,” because let’s just be real, okay? This is not something I am ever going to be able to do. Most mornings, my kids wake me by screaming, “we want Froot Loops!”  In fact, MOST of the P31 virtues escape me. I am indecisive. I am often selfish and lazy. I’m not a great cook, I own no less than six different grey t-shirts and wear them with black leggings or jeans most days. And I. Am. Exhausted. The only thing I’ve ever “spun” is a web of lies known as, “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.” My faith-style in this season of life would best be described as “momma tried,” okay? I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel here when it comes to wifery (not a word, but fun to say) and motherhood. I’m just trying to survive and love people the best that I can.

You could say I struggle, all right? But the more I read, the more I realize something: Nowhere in Proverbs 31 does it say, “She is without sin,” or “She never feels lonely or doubts the Lord,” or, “She never loses her temper with her four year-old when he draws on the walls for the umpteenth time, “ or even, “All her hard work brought her great joy.” In fact, Proverbs 31 tells us very little about the heart of the woman which it’s describing. Sure, we know what she does and we know some characteristics: Trustworthy. Hardworking. Creative. Obedient. Business-savvy. She’s spinning yarn and wheeling and dealing all while donning the finest fashions. She’s a hustler, baby. But she’s completely made up.

That’s right. Proverbs 31 was not a biography of some noblewoman that was revered throughout the land. Ya know who wrote Proverbs 31? King Lemuel (or Solomon. Or Lemuel IS Solomon. It’s a whole thing. Google it.) basically in the words of his mother. It’s a list of the virtues of an “excellent wife” according to the ESV, and/ or Bill & Ted (If you don’t get that joke, you’re too young to be my friend).

So essentially, a queen that wanted the best for her son created a checklist for a royal wife. I’ll stop short of calling this an arbitrary list (because, ya know- blasphemy and all) because there’s a reason it’s included in the Word of the Lord. These virtues- this list of characteristics- they’re true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on these things. The Lord wants us to see this list and acknowledge that those things are worth striving for. Who wouldn’t want to be called blessed by her children and praised by her husband? But the biggest lie about the Proverbs 31 Woman is one that we tell ourselves: that we cannot come before God as we are- that we still have items on the list to check off before He will have us. And I have to tell you, that’s just not true.

Christ speaks of my value in Matthew 10:29-31. He demonstrated His love for me in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And He calls me more than blessed; he calls me Beloved.

You do not have to be the P31 to be a cherished daughter of Christ. You don’t have to be her to be loved or find a spouse or contribute to the Kingdom. Mostly because you can’t be her. You will never check off enough things on a list to make others love and value you more, and you certainly can’t send your resume to Christ in the hopes that he’ll add your name to the list of contenders for salvation.

That’s done. You’re His. You with your clearance-rack fashion, parenting failures, and less-than Pinterest-worthy kitchen. You with your utter lack of sewing skills. You and all your selfishness, laziness, doubts, shame, fear, and the ugliest parts that you try to hide behind the highlight reel of your social media feed. He sees all of those parts because he made those parts of you… And He loves those parts of you.

So take heart, Christian woman. Maybe you’re not an “excellent wife” all the time. Maybe you haven’t seen a sunrise since the last frat party you went to in college and your food preparation specialty is box-mix-brownies (which is probably Jesus’ favorite food anyway). But you’re in the good company of all the other P31 Wannabes. We’re all just out here, trying to untangle our wool and flax. And we have Froot Loops. I’ll start my diet tomorrow.

Monday, May 1, 2017

An Eclectic Big-Girl Room for Birdy

I just wanted to hop on and show you a quick re-vamp of my daughter's room! I can't even count the number of times this room has been rearranged since moving into this house. I try to change it in order to give Vesper the proper space to do whatever it is that Vesper does- one week it's dancing and gymnastics, and the next it's reading and writing. This week it happens to be playing with her dollhouse and drawing animal pictures. I recently acquired a new headboard for her room, so I figured now was as good a time as ever to repair it and set it up in her space! Now she can use all sides of her dollhouse, and still have space to play on the floor or sit at her little table and draw to her heart's content! Check out the list below for product details!

Headboard: vintage, purchased on Facebook Marketplace
Quilt: Steinmart (for similar, search "orange paisley quilt" on Amazon!)
Rug: at home
White chest: Target (painted Du Jour White by Valspar)
Wall color: Pinwheel Pink by Glidden
Dollhouse: vintage, thrift find
Paper mache giraffe bust: Anthropologie (no longer available)
Bunting banner: DIY
Bible verse print: Etsy (similar here)
Toile curtains: came with the house! (score!)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Undeserved Ordinary: Beauty in the Chaos of Life

This post originally appeared on the Red Dirt Revival blog in April of 2014

It hit me at the strangest moment. As I my hands were submerged in soapy dishwater and dinner over-cooked on the stove, I watched him sweep the walkway in our front yard. I turned to look out over crumb and clutter-covered kitchen counters and a dining room table with dried-on spaghetti sauce and the pink paint that remained after the Valentine's crafting months ago, into a messy sunroom where pillows were tossed haphazardly onto the floor amongst books and blocks and my two fair-haired babies watched a television show that certainly exceeded the recommended daily limit.
And somehow, I saw beauty. And I thought of how this was never the life I wanted for myself yet how blessed my life has become.
This life that is daily filled with tantrums thrown and meals refused and counters wiped and re-wiped and dogs shooed and laundry folded and refolded after the babies tossed it onto the floor.
Where windows are smudged and dishes are dirty and the sink smells and the shoes never make it to the basket.
Where the carpet is beyond salvage and the furniture is second-hand and the light bulb in the fridge has been burned out for a week and the bananas always brown before you can eat them.
Where time and patience and naps are often in short supply.
Where the back yard needs mowing and the toys litter the floor of my shower even though the children have their own bathroom and mending piles up in my closet.
Where everything needs painting and updating and plans are big but the time and budget is small.
Where my bed only stays made for about five seconds before that darling little blue-eyed creature crawls into it and begs, "Momma, snuggle!"
Where in the dark of the wee hours of the morning, I stare into the bright lights of that damned and blessed baby monitor checking and re-checking that those babies are still fast asleep, covered up, and peacefully dreaming of the adventures that were had.
Where a little boy plops himself into my lap and insists that I read book after book yanked from the shelf, and then discarded in the middle of the floor.
Where night after night, he lays his tired bones next to mine and grasps my hand as sleep comes fast and heavy, and then kisses my cheek when the morning comes too soon.
Where tears are numerous, and dedicated to moments of extremes- anger, hurt, fear, frustration, yet still and often, joy.

And all this... mess of a life- the marriage, the children, the house, the mortgage, the two cars, the dog... it was never what I wanted. It was the makings of a dull and repetitious and empty life for which I refused to settle. Because when my body was younger and my mind was more naïve and my eyes were too wide and wild, I was sure that all I ever wanted was a life lived fast and free...

And God found me and rescued me from my own selfish destruction and placed in my path those amazing blessings that I never asked for and I certainly didn't earn. And even then, when days were long and hard and the babies refused to sleep and I- short-sighted and merely mortal- began to mourn the loss of my freedom and my body and my time and my rest and my youth, He continued to bless me. To give me more than I thought I could handle, and more than I deserved.

How great is His love for me. How many are His blessings. How vast His faith in me... that He would entrust such a rich life to one that did not at first appreciate the utter and absolute wonder of the simplicity set before her. I am forever grateful that my God is greater than my self, and that His plans for me are far bigger and more exquisite than my inferior, inglorious dreams.

I haven't the holiness to see what He sees all the time. I haven't the strength to bear it in my withering mortal soul. So I just continue to trust that dirty dishes and mismatched socks and messy hair and piles of mail are all signs of a life lived fully and humbly and simply. I take my cues from small cherub faces, flush with laughter and arms held around my waist and words whispered quietly in the dark. I remind myself that this is holy work, and this life that I never wanted, is the life I could never ever replace or trade for all the world...