Hands Full is here!

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed or under water as a mom of little ones, dear soul, you are not alone. I am right there with you; so is our Father in Heaven.  This 30 Day devotional for moms with their hands overflowing, is full of real life experiences and hope in the One who rescues us from them all: Jesus.  

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36 Days in a Motorhome

I’ve been really bad at documenting our first month in our new home, our motorhome. It’s honestly been a blur. I am a big processor, but I’ve barely been able to process this, either in thought or word, feeling or photo.

But I think–it’s starting to sink in. This is life and this is different. Many days, hard.

I was scrolling through pictures randomly on my phone the other night (bad idea) and I came across photos of me and the girls sitting outside our barn at our last yard sale and the tears just started flowing. Before you could say “motor-home” I was full on crying into a pillow.

How did this happen? What did we do? We thought this was a good idea. It’s not feeling so good right now. 

I miss our home. I miss our room. I miss the girls’ room. I miss dinners at our big farm table and reading my Bible in the wee hours of the morning in the chair in my room, instead of  a cold camping chair, or snuggled in my bed trying not to make a sound or bonk my head on the cabinets inches above me.

I miss a house in general. You don’t have to wear flip-flops when you shower or find quarters to wash and dry your clothes. And you have rooms, multiple rooms to stretch out in, to let the kids read and work and play in.

Yeah, I miss some things these days.

But as I have been lamenting the hard parts of RV-life to my husband and friends lately, the thought has occurred to me and it is this.

Sometime too soon we will be owners of a house again and life will be “normal.”

Now, it is very un-normal. We are homeschooling; something we haven’t done before. We are living in a motorhome; something we haven’t done before. We’ve launched a book, started a ministry and are bouncing around like college students with five kids—all things we haven’t done before.

But we are on an adventure, and on the brink, I think, of something really cool: traveling the United States of America in a motorhome. Something I’ve always dreamed of doing.

And… 

It won’t always be this way. 

Right now that feels like a good thing. But I know ONE day, I am going to look back on this and think, “We did that?! Oh yes we did. How did we EVER do that? And wasn’t that amazing and remember that’s when we met so and so and remember that time when…”

It’s a blip on the screen of the movie of our life—which in turn is a blip on the screen of eternity.

And that makes this matter a whole lot and not very much all at the same strange time.

Because this season  is a gift. A really big gift. Being present in it is one too. And while we have never been this way before, we will also never go this way again.

Anyway, I’m not sure if your hearing me on this because it is difficult for my brain to understand, let alone explain.

So, here we are. We’ve spent 36 nights straight in our RV and tonight is our last.

Well, for a minute. 

We’ll stay in our friends place for a week (thank you Jesus and friends!!) and then spend a few more nights in the RV before heading to a duplex in Tahoe until the end of the year. 

THEN at last, come January, we will pack back up in old faithful (we really need to give her a name) and get on the road to the rest of America.

But as we lay our heads on our pillows tonight, I’m realizing the first leg of our journey is over. It’s one we had anticipated for a while. Our first stay. Our first “adventure.” Our first “home” on the road–the little RV park down the street from our old house where we would come to get ice cream on hot summer days. 

So it’s about time to let go of the chaos I can’t control. The dirty feet, the incessant flies and bees at dinner, the six inches of counter space, the shower shoes, and rolling the laundry wagon back and forth–and start savoring the journey. Because while it kinda feels like this is our “new normal,” I know it won’t be for long. 

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Losses, Gains, and a Good Crisis

Remember that time when you were excited to send your first child to Kindergarten? To take a picture of your chubby-cheeked five-year old standing with a backpack hanging past his knee caps, grinning like the Cheshire cat and standing at your front door? When you imagined the hot tears streaming down your cheeks as you waved to him getting on the bus, or standing at her classroom door?

Remember that time you were excited to send your LAST child to kindergarten? When you  dreamt about all the time you were going to have while your beloved offspring ate at laminated lunch tables and learned their multiplication ones? About the wreaths you were going to make, the bread you were going to bake, and about the life you were going to catch up on?

Yeah. About those. 

Lots of dreams have died this year. And this is yet another one. 

And while we have no doubt lost quite a few things in 2020, I see something we have gained: a time like this. A crisis. An unexpected opportunity. One that has potential to have some unexpected blessings too. 

As we venture into this uncharted territory of schooling at home, maybe we can begin to see it as a gift, whether we like it, love it, or neither. Whether it messes up our plans, or confirms them. 

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. I am in this with you. I am going to be schooling five children this year.

Lord, help us all.

Most of us were probably not planning on homeschooling our kids this year. We were planning on free time. On working. On normal routines and after-school activities.  But I can’t help but think of all the unforeseen gifts in the things were weren’t planning on. The things that will be grateful for when we cast our glance backwards at the end of 2021. 

Winston Churchill famously said, “never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Moms, we have a crisis before us. And we also have opportunity. We have the chance to rethink how we do things. Why we do things. To ask tough questions of ourselves and others. We have been given the gift of forcibly rearranging our schedules, our plans, our life, and centering it more around home, family, and being teachers. 

No, we’re not fifth grade math teachers by trade, (well most of us aren’t anyway) but we are all teachers. And this year, we get the chance to not only teach them how to wipe the seat and shut the cupboards, but teach them about the world around them. About history and science and stinking common core math. About persevering through difficult things and how to flex when plans change. 

And maybe in these new rhythms there will be more freedom. Freedom to try new things. To let go of perfection. To live in the moment and cherish the small things. Freedom to sleep in. To let our kids wear fairy wings and pajamas while they do math at the breakfast table. Freedom to take a hike in the middle of the day. Freedom to make new memories doing a new thing, something we never imagined.

Friends, it’s not going to be easy. I know that. But may we grab ahold of this once in a lifetime (let’s hope) opportunity that feels a lot like a lemon, and squeeze every last drop of juice we can from it so we can make one refreshing glass of lemonade.

For the betterment of ourselves, for our children, for our world and for the glory of the Kingdom of God.

Reimagining 2020

It has become pretty clear this year is unique. Different. I would even go so far as to say, special. Yes, I think Coronavirus and 2020 are two of those “painful gifts” we hear people, who’ve battled cancer and life-altering situations, talk about with a grace that’s hard to understand. 

Naturally, a box of confetti may not be the first thing that comes to mind as we think of what 2020 has been so far. It certainly has brought a lot of heartache, distress, anxiety and depression upon millions of people across the world. I don’t want to discount that. It has brought us some distress as well.

And although these kinds of gifts don’t come with confetti, distress, heartache and loss can be gifts too. Because it is our emptiness, that precedes our filling. It is in our moments of desperation, when we see our deep need for someone beyond ourselves. Desperation draws us to our knees where Jesus meets us and picks us up to carry us. We move forward not in our own strength, but in His.

This box of confetti was filled with Little Debbie treats my mother-in-law sent me for my birthday, half joking, half serious. We received the box with joy and laughter and eventually consumed its contents, even if I packed on a few pounds doing so. (Thank God for five kids to help ease the burden of eating cake. ;))

And as the empty red party box sat on the shelf in our laundry room, God gave me the idea to make it into a memory box for this year. The year when everyone’s plans were chopped up into little colorful pieces and sent filtering down like confetti. Just kidding. Kind of. 

2020. The year of confetti. The year of adventure. The year of uniqueness. The year of dreams coming true, and others changing. A year of trusting, releasing, surrendering, and CELEBRATING. 

Because honestly, aside from the “painful gifts” I mentioned earlier, this year has also had some sweet treats for me (not just the Little Debbie’s). There have already been some unexpected blessings, some pleasant surprises, and some ways I have seen God move and act for me personally. While there are some things I’d rather have gone without this year, there have also been some really great moments. I don’t want to forget them.

And so here is where I’ll keep them. The memories of 2020. The words of encouragement sent in the mail when I needed them most, journal entries of painful times, birthday cards, a copy of my first book written, bound, and published, and maybe even a roll of toilet paper. If we can spare one.

Only God knows what else I will place in this box over the next six months left in 2020, but I am already excited about looking back on the contents of this box in some year like 2030.

Because what once was a red cardboard box filled with sweets and confetti, is going to be a box filled with something so much sweeter, and so much more worth celebrating: the goodness of God. 

The testimonies of the ways He has shown up starting January 1, 2020, the ways He showed up today, and the ways in which I don’t know yet but eagerly anticipate Him showing up tomorrow. Not because I deserve it, not because I have a false hope or am applying the power of positivity, but because I know He is my loving Father, and a loving father cares for his children. 

It doesn’t mean we won’t see troubles, or hardship, pain or suffering, but it does mean He will take care of us in the midst of the wilderness and do us good in the end. (Deuteronomy 8:15-16). Good thing it’s not over yet. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.

And whenever that day comes, that day when all wrongs will be righted and every tear dried, what a celebration it will be! I’m pretty sure there’ll be some confetti.

Maybe even a Zebra Cake.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” 

Ephesians 3:17-19

Hi! I'm Brooke

Hi! I'm Brooke

Mother/Writer/Sandwich-Maker

Brooke lives with her husband and their five energetic children outside of Sacramento, California. She loves Jesus and pizza, and has a thing for throw pillows. Her dreams are big, her God is bigger, and yes, her laundry room is a mess.

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