Let Your Light Shine

Over the past year, God has been showing himself to me big time. His word has come ALIVE to me as it never has before. His presence and goodness is so obvious to me in every aspect of my life. It is glorious and exciting… and a tad bit overwhelming. 

I feel like my mindset, values and beliefs are very different than most of my peers (based on what they choose to share on social media, anyway). Every day, I scroll through social media and am so disheartened by the things that I see. Anger, hatred, gossip, murder, abortion, broken families, etc.  On a lot of seemingly polarizing subjects, I hold the seemingly unpopular opinion. Because of my fear of confrontation and my weird desire to be approved of, I don’t share. I take a step back. I stay quiet. I dim my light. 

I hate how that makes me feel. As believers we are called to reflect the light of Christ, not hide it.  

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14- 16 (NIV)

God wants me to make a change. 

He started whispering this on my heart last year when I was in the hospital. 

But I was “busy”. I had a newborn. And two toddlers. And a husband. And a move across the ocean to coordinate. And a home to take care of. And and and… (insert eye roll here)

I turned up the volume of the world and pushed his voice to the side. 

Rude, right?!

But, being the loving, patient God that he is, he just kept on whispering. (And when that didn’t work, I think he just walked over and hit “mute” because I hear him loud and clear now haha) 

He wants me to make a change. To shine my light. To use my gifts. 

I’ve figured out that part, but I’m not entirely sure on how it will look yet.

My faith walk has always been pretty private- I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a believer but I’ve never really been one to shout it from the rooftops either. 

I’m not totally confident in my biblical knowledge (my husband on the other hand is so great at this, I have a lot to learn from him!) I definitely don’t feel like any sort of authority when it comes to the Bible.

A people-pleaser by nature, I hate confrontation and care way too much about what people think about me…and my kids…and my family. So taking this step, writing this post, hitting “publish” is a little terrifying to me. 

But I’m learning that it’s ok. 

God meets us where we are. 

I’m finding a new freedom in just being me.  I’m not perfect. I don’t have all of the answers. But I do know what I believe, what values are important to our family, and how we want to raise our kids.  

And really, it’s not all about me.

I’m here to boast less about myself and more about Him. 

To answer a call that’s been in the works for a year. 

To show that the gospel is real and true.

To shine a light on the world because, let’s face it, this world is a dark place and we so desperately need the light that God provides. 

“…in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:6 (NIV)

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FOUR

“Time just keeps slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future

Our oldest girl is FOUR. Not sure how that happened so fast. 

She is kind, thoughtful, charming, endearing, agreeable, musical, funny, playful, smart, talented, empathetic, inspiring, cheerful, gracious, pleasing, animated, bright, joyful, light hearted, merry, lively, gleeful, and carefree. 

I can’t remember the world without Lyla in it – nor would I want to. 

Happy birthday, my girl. Thank you for making me a mama.

 

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A Weekend in Orlando

Basically since the day that we moved to the mainland I’ve been itching to get to Orlando to see some of our great friends that live there. Bringing the whole family just wasn’t in the cards for us right now so Alex stayed home with the two oldest and I had a getaway weekend with our baby girl. 

We flew direct from LAX on Friday morning. (Shoutout to Mimi for watching Lyla and Simon while Alex worked). Etta Rae was super into watching the activity outside. 

She was also super into my smoothie. 

Our flight was nice and uneventful, just the way we like it. Etta Rae slept for the first 2 hours while I watched a movie. She then spent the rest of the flight eating every snack that I had packed for the weekend. 

We landed, picked up our bag and walked outside just as Lisa was pulling up. The air was nice and heavy and it made me realize how much I miss the humid air in Hawaii. 

First stop was Tijuana Flats for dinner. We took our food to go and headed to Lisa and Kyle’s. We caught up while we ate and then it was straight to the shower and bed for Etta Rae and myself. 

A long day of travel wiped miss Etta Rae out because she slept for a nice six hour stretch (which she never does at home) and woke up all smiles.

We had some breakfast and got ready for our day. 

First stop was Publix to replenish our snack inventory. We found what we needed quickly and then, much to Etta Rae’s dismay, we got back in the car. She hates her car seat right now and starts fussing basically as soon as she sees it. If only she knew we were taking her to Magic Kingdom!

It was such a beautiful day to be in the parks! We hit up some of our favorites (Jungle Cruise, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), got caught in a classic random Florida downpour, and took pictures at the purple wall.

We hopped on the Monorail and rode over to Epcot. Etta Rae was due for a nap so we strolled through the World Showcase just talking and enjoying the park. When she woke up, we spent some time in the DVC lounge and then introduced her to a classic attraction (and arguably me and Simon’s favorite) – the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. I’m pleased to report that she loved it as much as we do and spent the ride pointing out and waving at Donald Duck. 

After the tour, we said “adios” to Epcot (see what I did there?) and hopped back onto the Monorail. This time, to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. We were lucky enough to score a last minute reservation at ‘Ohana. Ohhhh yea. 

Kyle met up with us here and, because we were early, we grabbed some drinks and headed outside to a grassy area to wait. Dinner was awesome, as usual, and we had great service too. Our server was from Hawaii and let us know that is family was from Ewa – with a house right near Hau Bush – small world! I think we both got homesick talking to each other 😉

Etta Rae loved her first ‘Ohana experience. Especially the noodles and the bread pudding. I guess we can keep her. 

After dinner, we rolled our full bellies to the car and headed back to Lisa and Kyle’s for bed. 

Sunday morning we grabbed a yummy breakfast at My French Cafe and drove over to Winter Garden for their Spring street festival. 

Winter Garden is the cutest little town! We grabbed a beer at Crooked Can Brewing Company and headed back to Lisa and Kyle’s. We had a nice, quiet afternoon. Etta Rae played with the puppies and we watched The Greatest Showman. It was my first time watching so I was excited! I enjoyed it but definitely think it was too hyped up. What did you think of it?

That evening, we headed to Yellow Dog Eats in Gotha. This is one of my brother’s favorite BBQ places and I was a little afraid that he would disown me if I was in Orlando and didn’t try it out 😉 Luckily, I was not disappointed. Soooo so tasty. A few of Lisa and Kyle’s friends joined us and it was so nice to meet them. 

Monday morning we took Etta Rae to the playground for a bit, went to Disney Springs and then picked up subs at Publix for lunch. YUM.After lunch, Lisa brought us to the airport and we made our way back to California via Salt Lake City. 

^^ Etta Rae on the last flight haha

We had such a great time visiting Lisa and Kyle and can’t wait to do it again! Hopefully with the whole family next time 🙂

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My Folded Laundry is a False Shelter

It was right after breakfast. The kids were playing sweetly together in the playroom. I grabbed my bible and this book. I topped off my coffee and sat down, ready to start my day with some good truth. To fill my tank. To lighten my heart.

I read Psalm 91:1-2. It says:  “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.””

In my book, I’m prompted to list the false shelters that I cling to in my life. I write down: obedient kids, a clean car, folded laundry. I close my book. 

It had only been a few minutes. I hadn’t even had a sip of my coffee yet. 

But I was reminded that I had laundry waiting to be folded.

See, I recently started a new routine. Before bed, I fill the washing machine with the day’s soiled linens. In the morning, before coffee and breakfast and overall chaos takes over, I start the machine. While it’s washing, I empty the dryer, fold and put away the load from the day before. It’s a good system (thanks, Mimi!) It keeps me on top of the never ending laundry piles. It makes my house significantly tidier. It makes me feel good.

It’s a false shelter.

As I’m folding it, I’m realizing this.

I’m putting my faith and trust in worldly things. If I can just stay on top of our enormous laundry pile – I will be happy (insert eye roll here). I know that it’s wrong. Instead of putting the laundry down and returning to my study, I push those thoughts aside. I turn on my favorite Christian podcast instead.

I think about how silly this is.

How imperfect I am. How we are all sinners. How badly we need Christ.

My marriage, my kids, my relationships, my home, my things – these aren’t my shelters.

As Ruth Chou Simons put it in her book… “our physical environment was never intended to be our true refuge. Turn instead to the unshakeable, steady and strong shelter of our Savior…”

Is it wrong to have a clean house? Absolutely not. Is it wrong to find a rhythm for our home that works for all parties involved? Of course not.

But when I let my desire for a successful laundry routine take precedence over my time in the word – that’s a problem.

Whatever we love more than God becomes our god. And, I don’t know about you, but I definitely do NOT want laundry to be my god 😉

Where we spend the most of our time and energy often times reveals our heart motives. It shows us the false shelters that we are building. 

I’m thankful for the reminder this morning that while I love not having piles of dirty laundry scattered around my home, I don’t want to invest most of my time staying on top of it. I want to be investing my time and energy into furthering His kingdom. He is our true shelter and our refuge.

“My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:7-8)

What are the false shelters in your life?

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More happy, less ache

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” – Proverbs 15:13

Friends, I must confess that lately my spirit has been crushed. 

My heart aches for the friends and family that we left behind in Hawaii. The relationships that we built in our five years there are so special to us. It is so hard not to see the faces and hear the voices that we are used to on a daily basis. 

My heart aches for our daily life there. I’m sure it’s not a surprise to hear that the quality of life in Hawaii is hard to beat. I was comfortable in our world. I knew the best spots to take the kids. I knew how to find parking at our favorite beaches and the best times to be on the road. I felt like I knew how to meet all of our needs and that I had all of the tools available to do so. We had a rhythm. 

Leaving Hawaii wasn’t an easy choice. We talked and talked and talked and talked about it for ages. We knew it was going to be hard.

But I’m surprised by just how much my heart aches.

How it’s set off by such little things.

I didn’t imagine that I would cry every time the kids play pretend and “go to Hawaii”. Or how I would cry every time I open another box of things that hasn’t been opened since I packed it in Hawaii. 

Most days I can’t even bring myself to look at photos from our time there. It hurts too much. 

No, it’s not easy. At least not for me.

I’m having a hard time plugging in. I’m having a hard time finding a new rhythm. Both things will come in time. 

Despite my heartache, I don’t regret our choice. 

The biggest reasons that we left were to be closer to family (although we did leave some pretty awesome family behind – love you Taniguchis) and to buy a house. Both which have already been accomplished and both which I am SO grateful for. 

I know that this heartache is temporary. 

I pray daily for God to show us why he brought us here. For more happy, less ache. 

Let’s do this, 2018.

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Hawaii is a hard place to leave

Five years ago this month, Alex and I were packing up our apartment in Southern California and getting ready to embark on our big adventure in Hawaii.

After being married & honeymooning on the beautiful islands of Maui and Kauai, we decided to do something “fun” and purchased ourselves two (one way) tickets to paradise.

It was hard leaving family but we had always said that we were just going to go for a few years, have fun and experience something new. We would be back before we had kids…

Welp. Five years later and three kids later we are still here (sorry, mom) But, at the end of this month, we will be packing up one more time and cashing in some more one-way tickets; this time heading east.

Bittersweet is the best word that I can think of to describe how we feel about it but it doesn’t seem big enough. It’s hard to put into words how this island has become our home. How the people have become our family.

Hawaii is a hard place to leave. Truly truly truly. The scenery, the spirit, the people – all so beautiful. And so very special. There is really no place like it.

Hawaii is a hard place to leave. But, in all honesty, it’s a hard place to live too. It’s expensive (shocker, right?) – especially when you are trying to raise three kids on one income. It’s also very transient (at least our island) with lots of military families. This year alone we have had to say “a hui ho” to so many of our dear friends. It’s sad.

Hawaii is a hard place to leave. Especially now that we have kids. The island is littered with memories of pregnancies and the earliest stages of my babies’ lives. I love that all three of my children were born in the same hospital. That they all took their first dips in the same ocean. That they all were introduced to this world in a space of beauty. I know that they are resilient but, in all honesty, it’s hard for me to imagine them anywhere else.

Hawaii is a hard place to leave. But it’s our time. We both knew in the back of our minds that we probably wouldn’t stay forever. It’s time for us to be closer to the majority of our family (we will be leaving behind our auntie, uncle and cousins – wah!). It’s time for us to spread out and try new things. It’s time for us to find our home and put down roots.

Hawaii is a hard place to leave. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t excited. There are a lot of fun things coming down the pipeline for the Byrds. We are looking forward to more family time, new experiences and, in all seriousness, some good Mexican food. And Chic-fil-A. 

Hawaii is a hard place to leave. But we know we will be back. And until then, we will be spending our last week here drinking it all in. 

 

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