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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Baptizing the Byrds

When we were in Michigan, we had the opportunity to get all three of our babies baptized at a place that is very special to our family – Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp

If you know me even a little bit, I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about this camp. It’s been in our family’s lives for a long time (ask, and my Grandpa will proudly tell you of the year he was given the “best boy camper” award – with a pencil to prove it).

It’s truly my happy place and, even though I’m too old to be a camper, I make sure to visit every summer and I look forward to sending our kids there too! 

We had a sweet little ceremony down at the lake. The pastor had asked the summer staff to join us as well and they sang a couple of songs (which just so happened to be my two favorite camp songs – woo hoo!)

It was such a beautiful day that I will cherish forever. 

To my three sweet babies, 

In a small ceremony at Fortune Lake, we welcomed you into a community of faith that, we feel, is so needed in this broken world.

Daddy and I pray that you all learn to know Christ and follow Him. While we wish we could just make that decision for you, all we can do is promise to love and teach you to the best of our ability. 

Your individual faith journeys will look different. You will all experience love and loss. You will question and explore. You will be frustrated and you will be exhilarated. Just always know that you are special, unique and created by God and that before you were our children, you were His. 

You wont remember this special day, but that’s OK. Just always remember you are loved. Loved by your family. Loved by the church community. Loved by each other. Loved by God. 

May Jesus bless you and keep you always. May he make his face shine upon you and give you peace. You are the lights of the world. 




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Summertime in Northern Michigan

We’ve been home from our annual Michigan trip for over a month now but am only now getting my photos uploaded. Not because of a lack of time or enthusiasm – I just wasn’t able to make it through all of them without crying! 

There are SO many photos that I want to share so I’m going to divide them into several posts. 

These are some of my favorites from around Grandpa K’s house (AKA the Chassell Castle) … 

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Bringing Baby to the Beach

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #JumpIntoSummer #CollectiveBias

Summertime has arrived here in Hawaii and we are finding ourselves at the beach more than ever.

Yes, even with a newborn.

For a little while, our tradition of surfing on Thursday nights with friends was the only beach time we were fitting in each week but as the temperatures are rising we have been trading in our park days for beach days and squeezing in weekend trips too.

Weekend beach time is extra sweet because Alex gets to come with us.

Yes, it’s a lot of work. Packing up (what feels like) the entire house, loading it – and the kids – into the van, unloading it at the beach, setting up camp, tearing down camp, bringing it all back to the van, washing off the kids, dressing the kids, taking care of the wet, sandy stuff at home (tired yet?).

But it is SO worth it.

I love watching Lyla and Simon’s confidence in the water grow. Alex took Simon out on his surfboard for the first time this week – how cool is that?

I love the quiet time that I get with Etta Rae as I sit with her in the shade.

I love seeing the smiles on the faces of my family and hearing them laugh.

I love watching Lyla and Simon play. They sit in the sand together and make “soup”. They chase birds and each other. They play peek-a-boo with their baby sister. They just have fun.

So much goodness.

I know a lot of you mamas out there will have fresh babes this summer and the thought of bringing them to the beach/pool/any body of water is daunting. Especially if you have older children too. But, mama, you can do it! Whether you are taking them solo or will have extra hands around to help, here are my “must have” items for bringing baby to the beach…

  1. Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) for the kids. My number one concern when taking the kids to the beach is safety. The first thing that I do when we get to the beach is put a Puddle Jumper® life jacket on Lyla and Simon. They both know not to go in/near the water without an adult but having them wear their Puddle Jumper® life jacket gives me peace of mind while I set up our camp. We started using the Puddle Jumper® life jacket with Lyla last summer and recently went back to Target to get Simon his own. The kids love them because they are easy to put on (just slide their arms through and clip the adjustable buckle in the back), they are comfortable (the woven polyester material makes them softer and prevents chafing) and they totally give them confidence in the water.  I love them because they have been approved by the US Coast Guard as a PFD and they have antimicrobial properties built in to resist odor causing bacteria from building up (yuck!).
  2. Designated space for baby. A playard works great at the beach because it offers you a solid surface to put baby down that is away from curious, sandy fingers. We bring a fitted crib sheet to put over the top to keep bugs and sand out and give an extra layer of sun protection.
  3. Water and snacks. Our kids (OK, fine – me too) love to snack at the beach. Taking a nice snack break in between playing and swimming usually buys us more beach time. I try to pack a healthy variety into a bunch of small containers so that if a wet, sandy hand finds its way inside we don’t lose it all.
  4. Baby powder. Even if you rinse your kids off in the ocean or the beach shower and physically carry them straight to the car, they will somehow find a way to cover themselves in sand from head to toe. To make sure you leave the beach at the beach – and to save your car from becoming a crazy, sandy mess – put some baby powder wherever the sand is stuck to your kids and it will brush right off. Seriously, magic.
  5. Water resistant blanket. If your kids are anything like mine, they will constantly be bringing you sand “ice cream cones” and treasures that they find in the water. Having a water resistant blanket helps keep your butt comfy and makes it easier to brush the sand away too 😉
  6. Re-sealable plastic bag. I make sure to have a few of these in different sizes. The sandwich size is perfect for keeping my phone safe. The gallon size makes a great diaper pail.
  7. Sun protection. Duh, right? Make sure you have sunblock and don’t forget to reapply!!
  8. Camera. Point and shoot, iPhone, DSLR, Polaroid – whatever you use, use it! Make sure to capture these special moments with your family.
  9. Baby blankets. Lots and lots of baby blankets. Because inevitably, the blankets are going to get wet/sandy/spilled on/etc. and you don’t want to wrap up baby in a dirty blanket.
  10. A giant beach bag. One big enough to throw everything inside.

If you want to pick up a Puddle Jumper® life jacket for your child this summer, you can find them at Target! They fit children 30-50 pounds and have lots of fun designs for kids.

What is your “must have” item for a trip to the beach?


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A Pink Birthday Party

Our biggest girl turned three! 

For weeks leading up to her birthday, the only thing she asked us for a pink birthday party – so we delivered 😉 We started the morning with a pink breakfast – strawberry banana smoothies, cinnamon rolls (with pink icing for the birthday girl), fruit, bacon and eggs. Her presents were wrapped in pink paper – one of which was a pink bathing suit to wear to her party at the beach. 

We met friends at the beach and enjoyed each other’s company, pizza and birthday cake. (and the unexpectedly cool weather was very much enjoyed by this heavily pregnant mama)

Simple was the name of the game this year. No Pinterest-worthy crafts were made. I used artificial flowers on our breakfast table. The cinnamon rolls came from a can. We had pizza delivered to the beach. We ordered her cake from Safeway. I brought Lyla with me to Party City to buy her party favors and I let her choose the cheesiest pink & purple leis and plastic birthday crown.

She was happy, we were happy, it was a great day all around. 


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