Next week my little corner of cyberspace here at Blessed Beyond the Mess will be six months old! I have learned so much and connected with so many amazing women in just a few short months. I have met several women that I wish I knew in real life because I know we would be great friends. The internet can be such a great tool and blessing when we use it well. I’m excited to see what God will do in the midst of our community here as we share our journeys with one another.
The Liebster Award ~ Discover New Blogs
Almost three months ago, I was excited to learn I’d been nominated for the Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is all about finding new blogs and getting to know the people behind those blogs. Bloggers nominate other bloggers and we all get to learn interesting things about one another by answering questions and sharing obscure facts about ourselves.
Bloggers get to link to other blogs we enjoy and share the love.
Readers get to meet new people and read new blogs.
The word “Liebster” apparently has German roots and means a myriad of things like dearest, favorite, lovely, and valued—all suitable adjectives for describing what we like to read and who we enjoy hearing from.
I was nominated by Tiffany over at thisisamazinggrace.com. She is a fellow military spouse and homeschool mom, so we have a lot in common right off the bat. Like me, she started out “blogging” by writing lengthy posts on Facebook. (That’s my mini blog.) As the title of her blog suggests, she is all about sharing the amazing grace of God with everyone. She has some great ideas about getting the most out of your daily Bible study. Read that next and be sure to share it with your friends!
So why did I wait three whole months to post about this award and present my own nominees? Good question. I’m so glad you asked.
Those of you who have been around for a while might remember what I was doing three months ago. That’s right! I was moving! My husband is in the military and we tend to do that from time to time. I got a tweet on my phone from Tiffany notifying me of my nomination literally hours after all my household goods had been pack up and shipped off. I would not even see my computer for another 2 weeks. All ten of us were crammed in our camper trailer which serves as our transient residence while we are in between homes. It took me about a month to get unpacked enough to resume work on my blog.
I’ve been working on this post ever since. As a hard core introvert, it’s hard to talk about myself. As a busy mom of eight, it’s been a while since I really pondered my favorite…anything. I feel really silly saying this, but I feel like this post has involved more hard work than my regular posts.
Each question stirred up different thoughts and stories.
Each answer is almost a tiny mini post of its own.
So let’s get to it. I will answer the 11 questions Tiffany asked me and share 11 interesting facts about myself. Then I will announce my own nominations and the questions they must answer.
My Answers to Tiffany’s 11 Questions
- How did you pick your blog name?
The original name of my blog was This Beautiful Mess, but that domain is being hoarded by someone who is not using it but wants to charge me several hundred dollars for it. So I began brainstorming other ideas. I wanted to capture the idea of God’s ability to redeem the messes in our lives and create something beautiful beyond what we thought possible. I had about 3 notebook pages filled with various ideas, most of them bad ones. I ran my top picks past my blog advisory council (my mom and sister). Blessed Beyond the Mess won because it captures my message, it’s easy to remember, and it was available. I use This Beautiful Mess on my Pinterest board.
- What makes you really happy?
Even in the dark days of my depression, the thing that makes my heart sing is the love of my family. We are meant for family. We were designed to thrive in this tight-knit, intimate, love-you-no-matter what kind of community. This kind of closeness can also exist within our church family. This is how it’s supposed to be. Even when I’m really grumpy or sad, my children’s silly antics can bring me back from the brink and put a smile back on my face and gratitude back in my heart.
- Have you ever traveled outside of the country? Where to?
We are a military family so we have done a lot of traveling. One of our biggest adventures was the year we lived in Korea. Originally, it was supposed to be an unaccompanied assignment, meaning the Air Force would only send my husband while the children and I were left in the states to fend for ourselves. Undaunted, we decided to tag along anyway. Just before we left the US, the Air Force changed its mind and said we could go to. Good thing we were already planning to!
We did not live as most Americans do—in a little American bubble on an American base. My husband was assigned to a Korean air base, so we lived there in Korean base housing (i.e. apartments). My husband is fluent in Korean while I have the vocabulary of an 18-month old—“hi”, “bye”, “thank you”, “ball”, and of course “airplane”. This, plus a drastically different culture made for some very interesting (read “awkward”) situations for me. But I’ll have to save those stories for another post.
We showed up to a country where everybody has 2 children—and only 2 children—with 4 kids in tow and one on the way. The Koreans were very shocked that we would do such wild things as have 5 children AND educate them at home on our own. Crazy Americans, right? We never told them that our own countrymen think we’re weird too. We just let them think all Americans are like us.
My second daughter was born in a Korean hospital. That’s another adventure that needs its own post. Although the doctor had been to some training in America, none of the nurses spoke any English. During my labor, I fell madly in love with my handsome interpreter. (Good thing we were already married!)
- What are you most passionate about in this life?
Children. As a mother, of course I am passionate about my own children. I am also passionate about encouraging others to see all children as blessings rather than burdens. My heart breaks most over unfortunate children who suffer from poverty, abuse, neglect, hunger, and abandonment. Hearing the stories of orphans and refugees and children who experience agony at the hands of those who should be protecting them is what makes me sick to my stomach, causes my blood to boil, and lights a fire under me to do more to give them the kind of love and help that Jesus would.
- What is your favorite book, and why?
The obvious and true answer is the Bible. It truly is a “living” book. I can read the same passage a hundred times and still find something beautiful I hadn’t notice before (usually because the Author knew I wasn’t ready to receive it yet.)
For the past several weeks, I have been in the process of unpacking many of my other favorite books. We have to downsize them because our stuff is “overweight” for what the military will move. (In my defense, it takes a lot of “weight” for a family of 10 who is constantly moving to different climates and houses, especially when said family has homeschooled for a decade.) But how do I choose which to let go? It’s like saying goodbye to good friends who’ve always been there for me. Obviously, I have a book problem and so answering “What is your favorite book and why?” is ridiculously impossible for me.
I’ll have to narrow it down to favorite authors. Is that good enough? I like anything written by Elisabeth Elliot, Philip Yancey, Beth Moore, Ann Voskamp, or Jen Hatmaker. Oh, and I have 4 bookshelves of homeschool books, plus more in several bins in the garage. I have been accused of homeschooling my children just so I could read more books with them.
- Who has been your biggest influence?
There’s this guy I was introduced to years ago. He didn’t just say he loved me. He proved it. He crossed a great chasm to come to where I am. He showed me what grace looks like in the flesh with real people—some of them quite unsavory characters, I might add! And then, he did the unthinkable. When I was justly accused of wrong-doing and sentenced to death, he stepped in. He told the Judge he was willing to pay for my crimes so I could go free!
It’s hard to believe someone would actually do that. I’m so glad I did believe though. Now I know my ransomed life is valuable and meaningful. I’m here for a reason. I try to live my life in a way that honors his sacrifice for me. I want to share my story with others so they can have their own sentences lifted and their prisons unlocked.
Because here’s the good news: He didn’t just do it for me. I’m sure that if I were the only person alive in need of grace, he would have gladly done it for me alone. But I’m not. There are so many others in need of God’s grace. All of us, in fact. All we have to do is take him at his word and trust that what he did for us is all that is required (Romans 10:9). Do you want to be introduced to him too? Contact me. We’ll talk.
- What is your favorite hobby?
Photography. My husband accuses me of planning family activities around what would make a good picture. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? Just recently, my daughter celebrated her 5th birthday and the whole family was glad when I caught the picture of her blowing out the candles on the first take. We often sing Happy Birthday multiple times while repeatedly relighting the candles until I’m satisfied with my picture. I have also been known to ask children to do whatever they just did again so I could capture the moment forever (or at least until my computer and external hard drive crash simultaneously)—even if it wasn’t the real moment, just a reenactment of it.
My children are well aware they are my prime victims targets models. They either hide or give me a cheesy grin when they see me with my camera or phone. They all know they may be called upon at any moment if I need a particular photo to use in my blog. (I try to rotate them so no one gets burned out. That’s not hard since I have eight of them.) My children are also expert photo bombers. Can you find the one in this picture?
- What is your #1 goal right now?
Other than remembering to move the wet clothes to the dryer before they mildew? Oh. You mean a serious important goal, don’t you?
Well, I’m working on the manuscript of my first book. I’m hoping to get it done before the end of this year. I’ve got about 20,000 words written so far with many more to come. I’ll be giving you a preview of some of the content in October so stay tuned!
- Where is your dream vacation?
I love this question! My dream vacation is not a destination, it’s an event. I want a family vacation that is totally planned and prepped by someone else. The thing is moms never really go on vacation. We just do our same work in unfamiliar, smaller, more inconvenient places. Am I right, ladies?[tweetthis]Moms never go on vacation. We just do our job in unfamiliar, smaller, more inconvenient places.[/tweetthis]
I want someone else to plan the perfect vacation for our family. And then, here’s the best part, I want them to pack for me too. Have you ever tried to pack for a family of 10? It’s one of my least favorite jobs. (It’s only one step above cleaning up barf in the middle of the night.)
But that’s not all. Next, the “vacation planner” would go with us. She would figure out if we should follow the map or the GPS (they never seem to agree). She would lay out clothes appropriate to the day’s activities (including finding matches pairs of shoes for all the little ones). She would purchase and keep track of whatever tickets we would need so we don’t lose them. She would handle all the meals. She would take some pictures so I could be in some for a change. She would clean up at the end of day. And all our laundry would mysteriously disappear and return to us clean and folded at the end of the trip. Now that sounds like a vacation to me!!
- What is your favorite movie?
Hmmm. I’m having a similar problem here to the favorite book question in # 5 but on a smaller scale. It’s so hard to pick just one. If you had asked me in the 80’s, 90’s, or even maybe early in this millennium, my answer would have been a clear and instant E.T. I loved, I mean loved, this movie as a kid. I saw it no less than 3 times in the theater. The only candy I ate for at least 5 years after the movie came out was Reese’s Pieces. (Sorry, M&M people, you really made a bad decision on this one.) I even wore ET earrings and vowed that my life would be an utter disappointment if an alien did not come visit me and live my closet among my large collection of stuffed animals. It was only fairly recently that I realized I should probably pick a new favorite movie.
My favorite genre of movies is the action/adventure variety. If I had to pick just one, I guess I would say the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (Oh snap! That’s actually three movies, isn’t it?) It is a very well-crafted story with an inspiring message. The cinematography is beautiful and dramatic.
My all-time favorite line of any movie ever is when Eowyn says, “I am no man!” just before she takes out the evil dude (love it!). A very close second is when Captain America says, “There’s only one God, ma’am and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that!” I imagine even Jehovah Himself gets a chuckle out of that one.
- What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
As a recovering perfectionist, I often say to myself “Done is better than perfect.” I think I originally heard it years ago from Creative Memories regarding putting pictures in albums. But I have hung onto it and used it to encourage myself to finish everything from house cleaning to writing a book or blog post and a whole bunch of other stuff. I learned from Chalene Johnson’s PUSH Challenge that with many things in life 80% is good enough. I don’t have to hit 100% all the time to consider my day or myself a success. I also love Michael Hyatt’s take on defeating perfectionism. He has learned to think of his projects as being perpetually in “beta” mode. In other words, everything is a work in progress that can be modified later. It doesn’t have to be perfect right now to call it done. Thinking that way is very helpful to me.
11 Random Facts About Me
- I actually enjoy lining up books on the shelf in order by size. My nemesis is when I encounter a book that is both short and wide. Do I put it with the big books on the end or with the shorter books and have it stick out? I have wasted too much of my life pondering this irrelevant question.
- When I got married, I wanted to have 4 children. My husband wanted 2. We couldn’t agree so we compromised and multiplied. (2×4=8) Okay, that’s only partially true. The first part is true. Read here for more about how we wound up with 8 children.
- I love ballet. I grew up in a leotard and tights. I have dabbled in worship dance and even had the opportunity to dance as Mary to “Breath of Heaven” by Amy Grant. I was 5 months pregnant at the time. People thought I was just pretending to be pregnant for the role and were surprised to discover I really was lugging around a tiny human in there!
- I once laughed so hard at a collection of Pintastrophes that I was literally laying on the floor laughing and crying at the same time. My son came in to check on me and find out if I was okay or if I had lost my marbles. So I showed it to him and then subsequently to my other children who came to see what all the hubbub was about. I tried to keep it together, but every time I got to the cookie monster cupcakes I totally lost it again.
- I have a thing for office supplies and kitchen gadgets. I love to shop for them even if I don’t actually need or even buy any of them. I’m pretty sure I inherited these affinities from my grandmother and mother, respectively.
- I voluntarily ate a rabbit’s eyeball during survival training at the USAF Academy to demonstrate the human ability to overcome food aversions when necessary. It was still attached to the head. (In case you ever wondered, a rabbit eyeball tastes like a big hard grape only saltier. Aren’t you glad you know that now?)
- When I was a kid, I liked to play with Tonka trucks and Matchbox cars as much as I liked to play with dishes and dolls. I’m grateful my parents bought me both. I don’t really believe there is such a thing as gender specific toys. (I guess I’m with Target on this one.) To boys and girls everywhere I say, “Play with whatever interests you—as long as it’s safe and your parents say it’s okay.” If you happen to have both boys and girls in your house, they play with each other’s toys anyway. They pay no attention to whatever labels the store chose to use. My daughter used to play doll house with her older brother’s Rescue Heroes. Billy Blaze was the dad and Wendy Waters was the mom. My son would use his sister’s dolls and pretend there was a fire so he could go rescue them.
- I have trouble respecting my own limitations. I really do want to be Super Mom, gosh darnnit! It totally bums me out that I can’t be. No mom really is. Some just pretend to be. I’m working on accepting what I can’t do and not being timid about letting others know. Jen Hatmaker’s new book For the Love is helping me let go of unhealthy ways of looking at this topic. On a side note, she has also made me laugh out loud in a very quiet doctor’s waiting area. And I’ve had 8 children, so you can imagine why laughing in any form is dangerous territory for me. Thanks, Jen!
- I once ran for student government at my high school using my nickname “Lizard”. My speech to the student body was an acronym of LIZARD. I even wore my lizard earrings and lizard tie to school. I really hope no one has photographic evidence. I cannot even tell you how glad I am that social media was not a thing back then.
- Sometimes when my sweet-craving kicks in and I can’t find any goodies, I eat a couple of spoonfuls of honey (Proverbs 24:13). It’s kinda like Mary Poppin’s Spoonful of Sugar but without the whole medicine part. Like Jane and Michael, I do my chores a little better with some sugar in my veins too.
- I can’t get into reading electronic books. I’ve tried. Really, I have. I want to like them. They’re cheaper and easier to move. The truth is I love old fashioned pen and paper. I like to hold an actual book. I underline, write in the margin, and fold over the corners of pages I really like. Digital is just not the same.
So there you have it. Do you feel like you know the real person behind the blog a little better? Hopefully, I didn’t scare anyone away!
Without further ado, here are my nominees for the Liebster Award in no particular order.
Karen @ Stooping for Manna
Bonnie @ Espressos of Faith
Carrie @ Living with Unspeakable Joy
Betsy @ Faith Spilling Over
Andrew @ Blessed are the Pure of Heart
While these questions are intended for my nominees, I think it would be really fun if you readers also picked a question or to and gave your answer in the comments. I’d love to know more about you as well.
- How did you choose the name of your blog?
- What are you most passionate about in this life?
- What is your favorite food?
- What is one moment in your life you will never forget?
- If you could live anywhere in the world where would you want to go?
- If time, money, and talent were not an issue what would you love to do?
- What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
- What is the silliest thing you have ever done?
- How do you want people to remember you?
- Who or what has had a big influence on who you have become?
- Who is your hero?
Have fun thinking about these! I can’t wait to read your answers.
I hope you enjoy checking out these blogs that may be new to you. Who knows? You might just find a new friend or two!
Elizabeth is a military spouse, veteran, and mother of eight. Above and beyond caring for her family, her mission is to offer words that sustain weary moms and to empower and equip them to live and parent with purpose.