touchdowns and french toast

"I'm not here to teach you anything new, I'm here to remind you of things."

It's a quote that was spoken years ago by a pastor Evan and I studied underneath in ministry school. He was speaking in the context of his job title as lead pastor. It is one of those sentences for Evan whose words made residence in his soul and come to mind in the context spoken and when directed by the Holy Spirit out of context. He reminded me of those internal words this morning, with the background music of Auburn scoring another touch down against Ole Miss, alongside the last bite of rosemary apple pie french toast. Words taken in with black coffee and lingered on just the same.

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In between lazy sips and casual conversation put on pause every now and then so a fall football Saturday could have way cozy and easy in our home, I asked him what about marriage feels new in revelation or season to him.

Evan is steady. A well whose levels fluctuate, but is undoubtedly the most dependable you will ever tap from in it's source. That quote from years ago came out almost immediately. "I'm not here to teach you anything new, I'm here to remind you things." He went on to talk about the natural rhythm that plays itself out like a good, satisfied from a full meal type exhale, when we are able to just intermingle our lives together. The ease of a Saturday morning translated into a marriage story. 

Maybe it is the actual essence of what it means to be one, maybe it is a gift given by time's hand. Regardless, there is a special type of enjoying one another that is only experienced when each gives room to let the other breathe in their element, but still intentional to keep our breaths in sync as one. For us, this means Saturday mornings where football and french toast fills our home. It means no nagging for an extra hand in the kitchen so he can unwind in a way that brings him rest, but it also means no checking out in front of a TV, and a hand in wrangling our two year old so I can enjoy that process of waking up, pressing fresh coffee, and filling up on the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg before I have to change a diaper (or 3). It is an ebb and flow that is sourced in service and carried out in covenant care for one another.

Simple reminders of service and love, a "nothing new, just a reminder," type of morning. A Saturday flow that can become a week day lifestyle when we recenter back on the call to deplete ourselves of self-centeredness, while also accepting the care and attention of our spouse. But it has to be two-fold in this measure. 

Step one? Serve. Serve your spouse the best you know how. Don't be scared to be the better spouse. I mean it. The Spirit of God is contagious and service always lends itself to love in thought or action when under the context of covenant. And in case you're not sure what that means practically, let him do something he loves this Saturday afternoon, no time limit, no honey-do's. Oh, and making him a big batch of hot french toast and steamy coffee never hurt either. 


Rosemary Apple Pie French Toast

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Best served with a big helping of brown butter apples and a big screen of Saturday, SEC football.

Ingredients:

(french toast)

  1. 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter
  2. 5 slices of stale bread (we use rosemary sourdough from whole foods)
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 tbsp milk (we use vanilla soy)
  5. 1/8 tsp vanilla
  6. 1 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  8. 1 tsp bee pollen
  9. honey (for drizzling)
  10. powdered sugar (for powdering)

(brown butter apples)

  1. 2 organic Gala apples
  2. 1 tbsp butter
  3. 1-2 tbsp brown sugar

directions:

(french toast)

  1. mix eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bee pollen in mixing bowl
  2. dip bread in above mixture until soaked through
  3. heat 1 tbsp butter in cast iron skillet (any skillet surface will work, but I'm from the south so cast iron everything am I right?) on medium low heat until melted
  4. drop in as many pieces of bread that will fit
  5. flip once the bread has a deep, golden, brown crust
  6. add in extra 1/2 tbsp butter as needed with remaining pieces of bread
  7. plate, top with brown butter apples (see below), sprinkle with powdered sugar, and drizzle with honey
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(brown butter apples)

  1. cut two gala apples into bite sized bits
  2. heat butter in skillet on medium low heat until a rich golden brown, stir butter while melting
  3. once color is reached, drop in apples and cook for 4-5 minutes
  4. turn off heat and sprinkle apples with 1-2 tbsp brown sugar, stir, and let sit

tiny boxes

I hear it all the time being said of social media the countless ways the enemy sneaks himself into the thumb scrolling: "don't compare your life to someone else's highlight reel." I couldn't agree more. Then the frequented follow-up in the expanded version of how "social media is the enemy's territory, and how we all care too much about likes, and how it is terrible and awful and going to destroy your character, self-image, etc., etc., etc." And yet, we all still have our Instagram handles and can give you at least a rough estimate of how many Twitter followers we have. What gives?

Social media very literally gives me a job and paycheck. My title as social media coordinator for my local church is one that I don't take lightly. Onlookers perspective: "Oh that's cool, she makes their instagram pretty and puts nice scripture on their Twitter feed." Why is it that we (myself included) can easily call out and highlight the schemes and ways the enemy lurks like a punk in things like social media, but then downsize the way that the power of God (the same power that has DEFEATED the enemy, mind you) can shift the entire atmosphere and purpose of people, places - even things like social media platforms?

Enter this past Wednesday morning in the Kelly household and you would have witnessed one of two events taking place dependent upon what time you turned the knob. One of those events being the sweetest photoshoot with my little tribe. A morning of cuddles, candy corn bribes, and my make-uped and hairstyled self. A special lifestyle shoot shot by one of my best Colorado girlfriends on a perfect, breezy, yellow leafed fall morning. The other event potentially witnessed would have been me losing my mind in the form of a sleep deprived whirling,  trying to clean up our house, breastfeed my newborn while leaking everywhere and on everything, attempting to get my two year old dressed in manners and his perfect picture outfit, and all the while snapping at my mom and husband as they tried to help me in my crazy, irrational, unwarranted, eye-rolling loveliness.  Welcome to my not so pretty pre-highlight reel.

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What you see on Instagram as a result of that morning is my family very much put together and posing in our tidy little bungalow, kids dressed to the nines, and a goo-goo eyed hubby and wife. You see the highlights, and honestly you see moments that started out as a forced happiness and a faked good attitude. One that only came about after threatening to cancel the shoot five times in the 30 minutes before my friend was supposed to arrive mind you. You see the tail end of my crazy post-labor hormone take over, and the beginning of my cooling down after a morning of frustration and doors closed just a little bit too hard. What you see is the thing people say "stop comparing yourself to."

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But there are two ways to interpret what you see on social media in this way. One, call it the enemy's schemes of trying to lie and tell you that my family is perfect when the reality is that our morning was one of the worst we've had in awhile. Or two, call it a platform that is somehow able to take messy mornings and turn them into early afternoons ending in cuddles and kisses with my man on the couch, laughing at how terrible attitudes had been only an hour before, and speaking out the ways God can redeem the joy Satan tries to steal on the good days and the bad. I'll choose the second.

A morning of chaos turned into a day scattered by humble reminders that my marriage makes me better, and that it is a betterment completely outside of my own strength, control, and doing. Reminders to not take for granted (guilty!) a husband who kept things light for our kiddos while mom was having "a moment," one who tells me that I am "the prettiest woman he has ever seen" literally almost every day, one who fills our home with worship music on the messy mornings because he knows that the Spirit of God is alive and active and able to permeate both people and things when simply called upon. Wednesday's muck somehow redeemed by marriage's footprint and tether to God's love and grace. And please don't hear a simple Christianese statement on marriage here, but one that rests in the literal spaces of awe and wonder of the gold woven into the representation marriage is defined by, and the power of God Almighty written into every detail. A writing that makes itself known when He is humbly and desperately invited into the clumsy feebleness of our own efforts.

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Don't get me wrong though, the highlight reel can breed discontent and resentment for our own seasons and paths God has written out ahead for us when we see the ways we wish we were "more of this" or "less of that" played out very literally in others, but it can also breed an attitude of joy for others while simultaneously recognizing the ways God redeems so much of the basic day to day breaths if we let Him. What if we stopped claiming social media as bad in these ways, and started claiming it as territory to drip Heaven's light and advancement into. Territory that shows marriages transparent, but strong, parenting that is tired, but determined, relationships that stop competing and start celebrating. What if we believed that God's power to invade social media is larger than satan's power to strike up insecurities inside of us? Redemption rich and love lingering itself through feeds and hashtags could just maybe flip a culture of mindless scrolling into one that is inspired and led on by the author and perfecter of faith Himself, but only if we so believe it to.

I pray that this mindset grows to truth in a culture and generation specific to countless minutes of scrolling and screen time. I break satan's fingerprints off social media and speak God's truth into their place in the name of Jesus. If partnering with God in the renewal of all things is our assignment, may it be so in all the details of our life, social media being just a piece of greater puzzle, but a piece of strategy none the less. And may it all be done in the name of the King who is worthy of it all.

raspberry fields

'Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track...
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.

Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over..."

Proverbs 3:9-10

I love it when a visual makes itself alive and active to transform tangibly scripture's truth. A piece of time that gives experience and wisdom to how my life fits into the story of the Gospel, to file away as a reminder of His faithfulness, to story tell when the Spirit prompts, and to give meaning to the every day ordinary.

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Fall harvest has always been a time near and dear to me. (Sidenote, listen to this message on "the Harvest," SO good) I worked on a small organic farm one hot, North Carolina, summer during college. Long days, foggy mornings - both in weather and mind - sweaty afternoons, the smell of rubber boots caked in clay dirt, and the best picks from the vine of popped sweet tomatoes, tests of leafy basil, and crunches of sweet peppers. It was a tasting menu of the first and best fruits every day.

This morning my boys and I packed up in our car to inhale a morning of farm life. My favorite, worn fllannel and our blue, two gallon sized bucket in tow to pick raspberries at a friend's farm. If you have ever picked fresh berries you know it takes about thirty seconds of picking before the sneaking sweet bursts of reds, blues, or golds straight from the vine and into your mouth begins to mindlessly make its way into your harvesting rhythm. 

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Berry picking in a rhythm: pick, eat, pick, plop in pail, pick, plop, pick, eat. Work turning itself into methodical enjoyment because the first and best are brought forth to appreciate. 

"Honor God with everything you own. Give Him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over..."

This scripture spoken out over our finances, but rarely over anything else. Why? What about the "everything you own" part? The blessing of bursting barns and brimming wine vats.

A simple reminder in between sweet and sour bursts. How can I take more firsts, more bests, and present them to the Lord. An offering intentionally given simply because I want Him to be blessed, to receive enjoyment from every bit of my every day normal. Where am I holding back spaces of my life, labeling them as "taken care of," and not realizing that in my humanity alone nothing is taken care of, but is actually harmed in a contentment of self control.

In a season where motherhood begs heavy on so many of my minutes and motives, it is easy to put my marriage in second, third, even fourth place. And then I find myself this morning, in a raspberry field, reminded by the entrance back into humility, that I am not superwoman, and that the Lord's leading, guiding, and shaping of my life, and specifically my marriage is perhaps the greatest advantage I can help entrust to my family. Even more weighty in revelation, is that perhaps it is one of the most important relationships I am called to pull the first fruits from and to give to the Lord in a daily routine of love and honor. A union from which the rest of my life flows, one that MUST fix its foundation deep into the Gospel and will of God so that the pulses it beats out into (parenting, friendships, attitude, emotions, etc.) are by extension perfect and pruned by God Himself, but also the places of gold in my life because they are presented to the face of love every single day.

And so I commit myself again to prayer and intentionality for my marriage. Today, and tomorrow, and the next day. A reminder that my calling as 'wife' is one of my most beautiful seats of honor and service, and that it is worth winning the war in the spiritual over with intention and purpose. 

A prayer for marriage:

God, thank you for the stunning union of marriage. I commit my eyes to a greater awareness to my husband's needs that you have designed me as the specific, purposed answer to. I commit to intimacy, physically and mentally as priority.
As a covenant one, we commit our first and best to You. We commit our communication, our first breaths uttered out in early morning, to bring honor and thanksgiving to You. Thank you for simple reminders seen in raspberry fields and spaces of normal, average life that draw us back to You by way of conviction and grace. 
My marriage is Yours; shape it, grow it, utilize it for strategy and Kingdom advancement. We call as ours, barns that will burst and wine vats that will brim over in the name of Jesus. 

 

the d-word

Thirty weeks pregnant with our second baby, and the busyness that swarms as wife, mom, employee, friend, housekeeper, cook, etc. has landed me stranded on the couch in a state of bedrest my pride never thought would be necessary. I'm superwoman, right? 

Wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

My mornings have turned from loud and quick, protein shakes and homemade pancakes for Judah, into alarms not set, and coffee runs as my exciting daily outing, before returning to the couch and comforter. Needless to say my mom-game has been dismal, and Clifford the Big Red Dog (or as he is fondly called in our home, "Big Titchor") has taken up permanent residence as a second pet. At least I don't have to remember to feed him.

And then this morning. A toothy grin from my bleachy haired summer baby and a small good morning wave to set in motion a craze to get outside. And so we insert the d-word. Daddy. And insert him to the rescue as seems to be his M.O. for most our days if we're honest.

I put on mascara, he dressed our wild man, and we hopped in the car for a coffee run, and slow, misty drive into the foothills. Rock-skipping goldmines.

When Evan and I were going through pre-marital, there was little discussion or mention on parenting. It seems strange now. Vowing yes to Earth's forever with a man who would raise, guide, and direct my babies into adulthood, without much consideration towards his proclivity to do so. Don't get me wrong, I married a man I KNEW was a solid on a million levels, but why I never pictured him as "dad" still seems silly.

Out of the car, wrapped up in Dad's arms and his current signature, bright red Chuck Taylor hightops, Judah was swept into a mossy morning of twigs, rivers rocks, foggy skies, and the lightheartedness that only Evan seems to fully unlock for him. What is it about Dads?

Marriage is a million things. Things full of romance, hard work, heartbreak, adventure, but my favorite spaces and what I think the most spectacular bits of marriage, are the bits that come in little glimpses fashioned by growth and forward motion. I think that when we start to see the ways our spouse has grown in the complexities of new roles, new seasons, new ventures, we see the ways that our marriage has propelled one another forward out into the call of God on their life, but still hand in hand. It's stunning.

No doubt is marriage never more brilliantly on display for me than when I am stopped by belly laughs in the next room to pause and watch as Evan steps a little more into his own version of the d-word. Dad to our Judah Bear (and soon Maggie Shep) in a call as unique as each of our little's lives. 

And maybe that's just it. Maybe fatherhood is one of the most unique honors we as wives get to watch our husbands step into, as they emulate the very nature of Father God in a physical form. One that we are given direct, raw exposure into the every day, miraculously ordinary moments of. One that we have the honor and task to help cheer on in real time.

[And hear me here, fatherhood comes in a million different relational dynamics: children biological and adopted in our homes, mentor relationships, etc., they all deserve the cheers]

Maybe it is all part of His plan to show us Himself. And in this, wives, let's propel our husbands on as they find their footing in this role. There are beautiful, time-stand-still moments of rock skipping, but there are also moments where I imagine the weight of this task to show the world what a Father was always intended to look like, must be overwhelming in the conscience and the sub-conscience. 

So wherever your hubby shines today as Dad, be sure to let him know. Let him know in words, kisses, instagrams, or a yummy steak + truffle butter dinner table. It is in the rock-skipping, red converse lacing, bear hug tackles that Father God is glimpsed. Let the weight and reality of that settle into your heart and flow out as honor to the men who carry that mantle in our homes. 

[p.s.- no one does dad better than you, Evan Kelly. xo]

loss and love

This Spring has exhaled the difficult navigation that comes along with the death of long time family pets, the passing of my 92 year old navy hero Grandpa, the discovered brain tumor in my other hero Grandpa, and the diagnosis of stage 3 cancer in my step Father-in-law. A season of weight surrounded by the light exterior of blooms and buds. A season of grieving, alongside a season where the church calendar and global community celebrates the victory in Jesus' defeat of death, everlasting life. Internal, intense, heartache alongside the witnessing of life breaking forth in petaled reminders that no season is a forever season.

A season that has opened Evan and I up a bit deeper to one another, exposing more ugly in us both than we knew existed-truly. Yet somehow the light remains, calling us ever closer in the middle of the muck. A season writing itself out in an exposé on how the health of your marriage can directly effect the grieving process, and why the health of your marriage matters in every season.

A few things the Lord is blossoming out of us (both painfully and gently) to us this Spring season on loss and love:

  • Pray together, celebrate together, express thankfulness to God together when the seasons are the mountain top kind. It truly teaches your minds and hearts to be one in the it is natural to pray first as a unit. In this way, when the inevitable hard seasons hit, you have already practiced the instinctive one-ness of praying first, seeking God as a unit, and will be synced in the spiritual, a process that can be all the more difficult to do in the middle of grief if out of practice.
  • Allow each other room to grieve uniquely in the ways that bring about life to each one. For some that means crying, working out, gardening, journaling, writing letters, etc. Just because one method works for one, doesn't mean it will for another. Give each other breathing room in this way. Regardless, make sure that the grieving process is alive and active in each of you.
  • Bring life inside your home every day. From fresh flowers, to spoken scripture, to the company of friends, do something active every single day to remember that death is defeated. Your current season is temporary, and that this is not our home. This might sting at first (wallowing is a go-to for me, I can relate), but the more you practice it, the more you shift your focus day by day, the more healing is allowed to to up post and start the work that the Lord has set it to accomplish.