I’ve moved

•May 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I will no longer be posting on this blog. My sweet chocolate blog. It’s been fun but I’m moving up in the world! All content, new and old, can now be found here:

https://www.amybarkerwillers.com/blog/

Look at the Stars and Remember

•October 5, 2016 • 1 Comment

So everyone knows I love October. I would say up there with chocolate and Harry Potter, October is one of the things I mention most on this blog! I love the leaves in the streets, the cool weather, the pumpkins and scarecrows. But something I haven’t thought about much are October nights. I love them just as much as October days! The chill in the air when we crack the window, the lights on the porches as the days grow shorter, the warm pjs and slippers (to be fair , that’s an all day thing in my house…). And the stars.

With the earlier nights, it’s easier to step outside and look up before you would normally tumble into bed. And maybe I should start taking the time to notice.

Because for some reason, a stars theme keeps popping up in my life.

A few nights ago,I received a beautiful voice message of my niece singing “Consider the Stars” (by Keith and Kristyn Getty) and I just started crying. Hearing her sing “Consider the stars in the sky; When it is darkest they shine out the brightest, Consider the stars in the sky, In every anguish, Oh, child take courage.” Something about the juxtaposition of her sweet childish voice and the great truths of Heaven spoke to me at the very heart of my being.

Then in my small group, we talked about Abraham. In Genesis 15:5, God says, “Look up at the sky and count the stars” and Abraham will be reminded of God’s amazing – and seemingly impossible! – promise to him. But whenever Abraham doubts or forgets, all he has to do is look up and be reminded!

Even in the Mops theme for the year: We are the Starry Eyed! I love this picture of motherhood, because too often I feel like my eyes just look tired. But there’s more to life than that, even a stay-at-home mom’s life! Their website says, “Starry Eyed means looking for the light even when darkness is enveloping. It is an opportunity to hope recklessly and to witness God’s presence guiding things seen and unseen, comfortable and uncomfortable.” Looking up at the sky and sensing the wonder, even in the ordinary. I love this theme because it reminds me that life is never just ordinary, never just mundane, never just hard. There is beauty and wonder and hope amidst it all!

Finally, I have been memorizing Psalm 8, “When I consider the heavens, the moon and the stars that you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him?” God is so majestic and beautiful and magnificent, why does He even bother with me? But he does. He sees me. Truly sees me, more than anyone ever has.

And isn’t that what we all really want? Just to be truly seen. As an introvert and a person who will always choose being home over going out, sometimes I don’t feel seen. People notice the fun people, the outgoing people, the beautiful people (or at least it feels that way to me). And I feel invisible.

But I can look at the stars and know the the Creator is actually looking back at me. And as I gaze out, I can remember these beautiful messages from Him: that He keeps His promises, that He has given me life and wants me to live it in wonder and awe, that He sees me.

So this October, don’t just enjoy the days. Enjoy the nights. Look up and remember:

Do not be afraid

He who made all of this,

says “You’re worth more than this,”

And holds you in his hands.*

 

 

 

*If you haven’t listened to this song, go listen now! So sweet and poignant. Then teach a nearby child, because hearing a child sing it makes it all the more powerful. Consider the Stars, by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

This Old House

•January 28, 2016 • 1 Comment

Ryan has mentioned moving again, and I feel his pain. His commute is over an hour each way and I know that’s two hours a day that he is away from me and the kids. But I struggle with the thought of moving because I’ve grown to love our little house. I tell him if it weren’t for his commute, I’d live in this house forever.

You see, I look at it and see it’s potential. Yes, it’s sweet and comfortable and even attractive in some ways as it is now. But there are so many possibilities as to what this house could become! We could dormer out the upstairs back and/or front. We could add to the back. We could convert the garage to a great room and move the driveway behind the house. It could be roomier, cozier, and even more attractive with just a little work.

I was explaining all this to my dear friend, and telling her how grateful to God I am for the contentment I find in this house. It’s so easy to see bigger and more beautiful houses and wish they were mine, but instead, I am grateful for what I have.

And then I had a flash of analogy: this is how God loves us! He sees our imperfections and our potential. He looks at us and sees what we could be with a little work. And He isn’t going to move on to another project before finishing the work He has put into us. There are some things that need fixing or a little coat of paint and there are some things that need to be completely gutted and rebuilt. And He will do it all, lovingly, one step at a time. As long as we let Him.

Of course, the analogy is imperfect because while I whine and moan when I have to move the oldest dishwasher in the world to the sink to plug in the water or when I have to trudge down into the darkest parts of the basement with piles and piles of laundry, God doesn’t complain about all the work He has to do in us when we are so stubborn. But it still gave me pause, and helped me to remember His great love for me.

And His continual work in me, especially in learning to stop whining about dishes and laundry.

To the woman who says she’s not beautiful

•May 23, 2015 • 1 Comment

I am on a journey.

As a woman who has been on a diet her entire adult life (ie. been cheating on a diet my entire adult life), I now say I am done. I am done looking in the mirror and seeing what is wrong with my body and deciding to try dieting. Instead, I am going to look in the mirror at this amazing, beautiful body that God has given me, and decide to treat it right: healthy foods, activity, and respect.

I call this a journey because an entire lifetime of a certain way of thinking cannot be changed overnight. It is a journey of respecting myself, of being an example to my daughter, and of honoring my Lord God and Creator. He gave me this body, gave me my health, allowed me to carry babies, etc. etc. etc. The list could go on and on! And that is the list I want to focus on.

And yet, do you know when my resolve waivers along this journey? When I hear you, you lovely, beautiful, talented, smart, amazing woman, talk down about yourself. I start to think if this lovely, beautiful, talented smart, amazing woman thinks badly about herself, how much worse must I be? How much worse must she think of me? (Now I know you’re not thinking worse of me, because everyone is hardest on themselves, but that is how I interpret your words.)

So please, let’s just stop. I know… I do it, too. But for the sake of my journey, and even more importantly, for the sake of my daughter’s young and pure journey, please stop the negative self-talk.

I could say when we have conversations, start telling me wonderful things about yourself. But let’s face it, we’re women… that’s not going to happen. So instead, look at me and tell me something you admire. And I will do the same to you. I can pull up every woman that I know in my mind and think of dozens of positive things I could genuinely say about them.

You, woman who is reading this blog post, I promise you, I think you are beautiful.

So for my sake, for your sake, and for the sake of our daughters’, stop talking negatively about yourselves, and truly believe that you are a beautiful creature of God.

Will you join me on this journey?

Resolution update, first quarter

•March 8, 2015 • 1 Comment

Read 24 books.
It is now the beginning of March, to stay on track I should have read 4-5 books by now! Unfortunately, I’ve only finished three! But I am in the middle of seven, so I’ll consider this resolution on track.

Lose 25 pounds.
Along with this one, I committed to giving up sugar for the first two months of the year. I kept that up (aside from the occasional dark chocolate chips and hot chocolate shared with my daughter!) until March and since then have been eating sugar again. I felt so much better in those two months that I have decided to continue this resolution for the rest of the year, with some exceptions. I will be allowed a small amount of dark chocolate chips every day and sugar on holidays and big events (not just “I’m celebrating cuz it’s Friday!”).

Teach Audrey 26 verses.
I started strong with this one, but the past few weeks I have lost track of this goal. So this blog post is a great reminder to continue with this!

27 Randoms.
For these, I will give myself an elementary school grade of Satisfactory, plus or minus.
Walk more. n/a (snow!)
Be thankful. S
Be joyful. S
Love better. S+
Be patient. S
Show God’s love. S
Be active. S-
Play with David on the floor. S-
Write more. S-
Finish projects. S
Make playdates. S
Floss more. S+
Play badminton with my dad. n/a (still snow!)
Laminate verses. S
Bake healthy alternatives. S
Do stretches daily. S
Finish basement. S (At least it’s usable now!)
Drink more water. S
Get outside. S
Sit up straight. S
Finish children’s story for Audrey. S-
Go to the beach more. n/a (too much snow!)
Spend less. S+
Read Bible before Facebook. S-
Encourage others. S
Step outside my comfort zone. S+
Be brave. S+

Resolutions, version 2015

•January 1, 2015 • 3 Comments

I took a break from writing (or even having) my resolutions last year because I was due with baby #2 in January and had no idea what life with two children would look like! Turns out, there’s not as much time to read (one of my usual resolutions) or write blog posts (another), but it definitely did not stop me from having goals! In fact, more than ever, I have to be disciplined in my life if I want to get anything done at all! So this year, I’m back at it. And did you know I have been recording my resolutions on my blog since 2007? I can’t quit now!

  1. Read 24 books. In the past, I’ve read 30+ books a year, but this year that drastically declined to… 11. (And yes, that includes audiobooks!) I’m embarrassed to even admit that! So this year, I’d like to get in two per month. If only I could count the million times I’ve listened to the Harry Potter books…
  2. Lose 25 pounds. I can no longer consider myself postpartum since it’s officially been a year! No more excuses! I will be following the Trim, Healthy Mama plan (if you haven’t heard of it, I would highly recommend it) and in an effort to jump start my progress, I am committing to giving up sugar for the first 60 days of the year. I will be either blogging or tweeting my progress daily for extra motivation and accountability.
  3. Teach Audrey 26 verses. Growing up, my mom used the Bible verse ABCs with me, and I still have the same book she used. So now I will use them with Audrey and do 2-3 per month. I also am going to try to read her a Bible story every day.
  4. 27 Randoms. Walk more. Be thankful. Be joyful. Love better. Be patient. Show God’s love. Be active. Play with David on the floor. Write more. Finish projects. Make playdates. Floss more. Play badminton with my dad. Laminate verses. Bake healthy alternatives. Do stretches daily. Finish basement. Drink more water. Get outside. Sit up straight. Finish children’s story for Audrey. Go to the beach more. Spend less. Read Bible before Facebook. Encourage others. Step outside my comfort zone. Be brave.

OK, so my last “resolution” is mostly unquantifiable, but I noticed a pattern with my first three and wanted to continue it! And those are all ways I’ve been trying to live anyway, so why not resolve to do them more?

As usual, I’ll post an update in a couple months! (In the meantime, you can read the children’s story that I wrote for Audrey here. When I say I want to finish it, I mean finish the illustrations I’ve been working on for years!)

venustas

•October 16, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I have not abandoned blogging! I’ve been posting quite a lot on my other blog: venustas. Granted, much of it is not original writing. It’s mostly for quotes that speak to me in some way. But in case you are interested in my pursuit of beauty and meaning through literature, check it out!

Take my life

•August 1, 2014 • 1 Comment

A friend recently asked me why I had the music and lyrics to the song “Take My Life and Let It Be” (Frances R. Havergal) up on my fridge. I hadn’t ever really thought about it before, but I immediately said, “I feel like it’s my prayer as a housewife, homemaker, and mother.” (Actually, I wasn’t quite that eloquent, but that’s what I meant.) And the more I’ve thought about it, the more I realize how true that is! In fact, tonight as I was washing and cutting up strawberries (my new favorite dessert, thanks to my new, sugarless lifestyle – yes, I’m now one of those people who eats FRUIT like DESSERT!), I was singing it to myself and imagining how the words pertained to the stay-at-home mom. So here is what I came up with:

Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
My life may look mundane, in all the routine little things that I do (will the dishes ever end??) but it is the life the Lord has laid out for me, and it is sacred. I have dedicated it to Him, so even in doing the never-ending dishes, I am worshipping Him.

Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in endless praise.
I want my children to see me worshipping the Lord in everything I do. If I can live out a life of praise in front of them, how much easier will it be for them to do it, too!

Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee.
So many times I want to just lose my temper. “How many times do I need to tell you to put your toys away???” But instead of condemning and acting out in anger, I pray that I will act out in love. I love these children so much. May my hands and my actions show them so.

Take my voice and let me sing, Always, only for my King.
Do you know how often I’ve sung the song “Let it go” from Frozen??? Well, if you’re a mother of a young girl, you probably know… it’s a LOT! But how often am I singing praise choruses, or even this hymn? I want to be worshipful, even/especially in my singing. (Nothing wrong with singing a little “Let it go“, though! How much longer will my daughter want to be singing those songs with me? But even those precious moments with our children can be worshipful.)

Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee.
I pray that I would be more bold in my faith. It’s not something I’m ashamed of, but something I cherish. Why do I withhold that precious gift from my non-believer friends? And I want to take every opportunity with my children to tell them about Jesus.

Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold.
I pray that I would be more generous and think less of myself when it comes to physical belongings. Don’t I want my children to understand generosity? Do I want them to be spoiled? Or see me be spoiled?

Take my intellect and use Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
So many people think that becoming a stay-at-home mom means that our minds/education has gone to waste. I pray that would not be so. I pray that I can use my intellect, my education, my knowledge to help my children understand more of life.

Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine.
Yes, I am a control-freak. (Actually, sometimes singing “Let it go” to myself helps me remember to do just that!) I pray that I would honor God’s calling in my life. Even if it means I have to give up control.

Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store.
More than anything, I want to love Jesus. I want Him to reign in my life. I want my children to see that in me, and I want love Him, too.

Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee.
And that speaks for itself. That is my prayer. In every aspect of my life, may I live it for the Lord.

No more sugar (but still chocolate)

•July 18, 2014 • 1 Comment

Well, people, I have given up sugar. Yep, that’s right, it’s been almost TWO days since I have partaken. Okay, now you are thinking “Two days is hardly giving up sugar”, but if you are indeed thinking that, need I remind you the name of this blog? I am a self-(and others-)proclaimed chocoholic, and I am trying to give up sugar.

But I’m learning it’s a journey, but one I’m not afraid to be on! Thankfully I’ve gotten used to some of the healthier sugar alternatives: Stevia, Truvia, etc. So it really isn’t “no chocolate”. Honestly, I don’t think I could handle that. In fact, the only thing that has gotten me through those two days (actually, my longest was FIVE days!!) was a sugar-free fudge, made completely of butter and cream cheese. Mmmm, not bad, right?

So I will be updating on here as I continue this journey (just because I’m not eating sugar-laden chocolate, doesn’t mean I should stop my word-chocolate, too!). My next goal is to simply beat those five days! I will let you know.

Dear David

•February 11, 2014 • 3 Comments

I am so happy that you are here with me! I love to hold you and cuddle you and you are just precious to me. I wondered how a mother could love more that one child, but now it’s so obvious to me! You are a joy to have around and have been such a wonderful experience for us!

I am excited to watch you grow and find out who you will turn out to be. I pray that you will love Jesus, like your namesake David in the Bible. He didn’t care what other people thought of him, he just loved God! He danced in the streets and made a fool of himself because he loved the Lord so much. I love to look at David and see his troubled heart be soothed by contemplating the love of the Lord. What an amazing lesson, and one I hope you will treasure in your heart as well. I also pray for your purity, both of mind and body, because I know how hard it is for a man in the society that we live in today.

You are also named after your grandfathers and your daddy, all good men who love the Lord and their families. All have such good work ethics and the desire to take care of the ones they love. I pray that you will take after their examples and be a good man, husband, and father someday.

And finally, David means beloved, just like Amy, so you are also named after me. You are already our beloved, but first you were God’s beloved. I love to think of God calling me his beloved and knowing me and yet still loving me so much. It is the same with you. He loves you because you are his beautiful creation. And I love you, too, not because of who you are yet, although I’m sure that will come, but because you are a part of me. Nothing you can ever do will stop me from loving you like that.

Love,

Your Mommy