Happy birthday, Jesus!

I’m not a fan of cheesy. So the “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” stuff made me cringe. A kitchy party for the king of the universe? Party hats, cake, even the song? So casual, even sacrilegious? How dare we treat Jesus as if He were… a human.

A human, experiencing human events.

Sure, funfetti cake mix and party blowers didn’t exist in first century Israel, but who am I to presume Jesus is somehow too cool for a birthday party? Take God out of the box, Diana.

In truth, a birthday party is the ultimate expression of what we actually celebrate on Christmas. The eternal God, who does not exist in time, became man whose years were markable by days, weeks, and years. Birthdays. The eternal became human. The unfathomable became measurable.

The One to whom a thousand years is as a day (2 Peter 3:8) had birthdays.

This is something to celebrate.

At the dinner table we were discussing the significance of God becoming man. Other than the obvious salvation thing. Because He was man, He experienced what we do. I asked Hannah, “Do you think Jesus had friend drama?”

She was shocked. “Jesus? No!”

Wrong. Jesus had tons of friend drama.

“Let me be your bestie!”

“I want to sit next to you.”

“Jesus, that’s kind of a crappy idea.”

“But I’m His bestie.”

“Jesus? I don’t know the guy.”

He knows. He’s been there.

God is not a distant force who pulls some strings for good people who pray hard enough. In the the human form of Jesus, He was sinless in His entire human experience and was thus the perfect sacrifice for our many failings. Our redemption and hope.


God with us.

Soldier On – Review

Reading is always a good idea. But in the busy-ness of life, it often gets pushed to luxury status. I’ve got too much “important” stuff to do, too many “real” issues to deal with. And when I do sit down to read, I’ve got a mission: solve a problem.

My TBR (to be read) list has grown remarkably over the last year – as parenting issues and ADHD have moved to the forefront of my mind, my bookshelf reflects my real-life stresses. For the last year, you could always find me with nonfiction, delving further into our reality and attempting to learn and apply.

I didn’t know I needed an intervention.

I got it.

For the past few years, my friend-since-middle-school Vanessa Rasanen has been working on a novel. I’ve watched her wrestle with the plotlines, create these characters, and change her entire schedule to write more. So when her “baby” was finally born, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Turns out, it was exactly what I needed.

Instead of being caught up into my own reality, I was transported into the lives of a military couple as they navigated another deployment, personal tragedy, and a crisis of faith. I couldn’t put it down!

Vanessa has the gumption to tackle reality without sensationalism. She artfully weaves real-life issues in the storyline with humor and authenticity in Soldier On. The characters leap off the page, so I felt like I was curled up eavesdropping on two friends or choking dust and bad coffee alongside the troops.

The reality of our hope in Christ is woven throughout the storyline on a practical level. Yes, this is a book with a Christian worldview. I’ve avoided mainstream Christian fiction for a long time due to the unbiblical emotional drivel that it’s usually filled with. Who knew that independently published, military themed, Lutheran fiction would be more up my alley? :)

My return to fiction is a welcome respite from daily life, even if it involves explosive devices and weighty secrets. Especially if it involves humor and coffee.

*UPDATE: Giveaway closed*

Speaking of coffee… Vanessa has put together a fantastic prize pack for two lucky winners:

  • 1 “rest” mug from MudLove
  • 2 wood coasters from Rush Creek Rustics
  • 2oz Rainy Day soy candle from Mitten Candle Co.
  • Rise and Chai tea from The Tea Spot
  • Campfire Roast coffee from Snowy Elk Coffee Company

Visit the Rafflecopter link for all the info!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e368d67a2/

Pick up your own copy of Soldier On in these convenient spots:

AMAZON–  http://amazon.com/dp/B07J1H6FKV

NOOK–  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soldier-on-vanessa-rasanen/1129617353

ITUNES– https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/soldier-on/id1437109314

KOBO– https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/soldier-on-3

And check out some other blogs featuring Soldier On and more chances to win!

October 30 – Review – Mary J Moerbe
October 31 – Review – Grit & Grace
November 1 – Review – Cammo Style Love
November 2 – Review – Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife
and First Line Friday – Faithfully Bookish
November 3 – Interview – The Nap Time Author
November 5 – Guest Post – Christian Shelf Esteem
November 6 – Review – Pure Joy Creative
November 7 – Review – Lights in a Dark World


Jello Cups and Judgy Planks

My little Peanut is having surgery. After many minor issues over the last year, she’s getting her tonsils and adenoids removed. While she is fairly oblivious to the impending situation, the other girls have had friends go through the same thing and are both stressed about her going through surgery and also excited to take part of the special foods that are encouraged during recovery.

Last weekend, I added these special soft foods to my grocery list at Aldi. I stood in the snack aisle thinking about what fun it would be to buy these things for my girls. Jello cups, pudding cups, fruit cups, flavored oatmeal packets – never on my normal list, so I excitedly grabbed multiples of things, glad that there was something for the girls to look forward to. 

As I was shoveling pudding cups in my cart, the lady next to me loudly declared to her husband, “I’m so glad we don’t buy sugary food for our kids any more.”


I’ll give her a momentary benefit of the doubt. Maybe she wasn’t talking about me. Maybe she hadn’t even noticed me and my cart full of pudding. But it sure seemed like weird timing to make a random declaration of personal buying habits.

I was immediately defensive. Food is important to me, and the way I feed my family is very important to me. I spend a lot of time and effort making meal plans and encouraging healthy eating habits. I want to look right.

Then felt convicted. While I definitely wouldn’t have said it out loud, if I had been in that woman’s shoes observing my sugar-filled, pre-packaged snack binge, I would have thought the same thing.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

Matthew 7:1-3

Food is important to me, but it shouldn’t be a source of self-righteous pride. I wanted to launch in and set her straight – provide an extensive explanation of what was happening in our family and justification about why those particular items were on my shopping list this week only.

Her speck of a rude comment certainly illuminated the plank of food pride in my own eye.

Instead of looking at other’s carts, I’m going to practice Ecclesiastes 9:7. “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” Because I really wanted wine after that.

Just kidding. More like “Whatever you eat or drink, whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.” 1 Corintihians 10:31

I shouldn’t feed my kids a certain way for my own glory. So I can post a nice pic on Instagram.

It’s for the glory of God, fueling their bodies to grow and serve Him.

It also showed me the lesson that a snapshot of a person’s life does not necessarily represent the whole. Yes, maybe a mom shoveling jello cups in her cart feeds her kids junk food every day.

Or maybe she’s trying to entice her already-underweight kid to eat after surgery.

So I finished shopping. Yogurt squeezers, popsicles, apple sauce, ice cream, avocados, and dino chicken nuggets filled the checkout belt. All Cora’s favorites and soft things.

I’m going to get the plank out of my eye and go back to focusing on helping my kid heal. And I’m going to try not to care what the lady next to me at Aldi thinks about what’s in my cart.

Rename and Reboot – Welcome to Grit & Grace

I’ve been blogging here for almost SEVEN YEARS! From my quiet days with little Hannah to our crazy days now with four kids in four stages, plus an out-of-state move (away from “Olive Street”), it’s been a busy seven years.

As a little refresh, I’m changing the name of the blog to better reflect my vision of writing.

My URL will stay the same as lifeonolivestreet.com because I’m not ready to tackle the technical part of redirects and such, but welcome to

Follow me on Facebook here and on Instagram at @gritandgrace6, and stay tuned for more food, family, and fun!

The Attributes of God for Kids

We needed a change. I recently realized we’ve been using the same little devotion book off and on since Hannah was two years old. Now with two older kids, I knew it was time for a next step. We needed something age-appropriate, engaging, and biblically truthful. Something worth the time and effort of doing family devotions.

Luckily as I was starting this search, my friend of 30+ years Lydia White was in the process of publishing this very thing. She hadn’t started with the goal of writing a book; one thing led to another with her spiritual journey and parenting.

“When my faith was challenged, A.W.Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy had a big impact on my life,” Lydia said. “Studying the character of God, changed my heart in a way unlike any other book or Bible study had ever done. Years later as a mom, I finished reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with my daughter and thought, ‘Now what?.’ I went looking for The Knowledge of the Holy on a much simpler level but was unable to find a children’s devotional that walked through the attributes of God. I decided to write out a summary, based on Tozer’s book, at an elementary age level. When another mom offered to illustrate the book and friends began asking for copies, it snowballed into the resource it is today!”

As she was going through the attributes, she found other resources that complemented the material such as songs from Seeds Family Worship and stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. These are referenced in the book, and the website also provides additional tools like printable memory verses, flash cards, lunchbox notes, and a progress tracking chart/stickers.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Attributes of God for Kids at the launch party at Signs of Life – a coffeeshop where Lydia and Brett formerly worked as baristas (fun fact!).

Our former devotion book was fine for the toddler years, but we are past due for a deeper resource and I’m excited to do this with the girls. Our job as parents is to point our kids to Christ, and this is a great way for kids to have a solid understanding about the character of God.

“I hope this devotional sparks great conversations within families and provides parents answers to many of the tough questions their kids ask like ‘How old is God?’ or ‘Does God see me when I’m under the blanket?’ My hope is that by understanding the attributes of God, our kids will understand both Who God is and who He has made them to be,” Lydia said.

This is an element I love about the book. For each attribute of God, it applies the impact on their identities. For example, when it says, “God is…” it follows with “You are…” Like “Because God is Omnipresent, you are never alone.”

As we’re going through the lessons, the girls love listening and answering the questions. They enjoy the Seeds Family Worship songs that go along (SFM songs are direct scripture). I love that my kids are learning the most important subject – who God is.

And they call it “the Miss Lydia book.” :)

Check out The Attributes of God for Kids on their website or Amazon.

Pregnancy, Loss, and Faith: The Joke of Family Planning and the Lie I’d Believed

About three years ago, I went to party and was chatting with some new acquaintances. As moms, of course, the topic quickly turned to our kids. When I told one lady that I had two girls who were three years apart, she said, “You planned that so well. Good for you!”

I laughed in her face. I know that was NOT the godly response, but I couldn’t help it.

Planned? Ha. Almost nothing about our first two went according to our plan. Our first was an adoption with a majorly unexpected twist that ended up basically the opposite of our plan. Then when we decided to grow our family, we had a miscarriage. Nope, that wasn’t in the plan, either. Then instead of getting pregnant again quickly, we had a long wait.

I could tell you a lot of things about that time… the dumb things people said to me, the feeling that everyone in the world was pregnant except me, the awesome friends who cried and prayed with me… but there was my heart.

For the first time in my faith journey, I looked at my life, my plans, and then looked at God and said, “This isn’t fair.”

It wasn’t fair because I’d been a good girl. I grew up in church, I followed the rules, I didn’t have sex before marriage, I was in Bible study, I was doing all the things right.

But God wasn’t holding up His end of the deal, right? It wasn’t fair.

Unconsciously, I’d fallen for the lie of the prosperity gospel. The idea that if you’re good enough and pray enough and try really hard, God will shower you with all the good things.

But it’s a lie. Nowhere in the Bible does it paint life like that. John 16 says: In the world you WILL have trouble. James 1 says: WHEN you encounter trials. It’s not a conditional situation dependent on your behavior, it’s reality.

The world, even the “Christian” world spreads these lies, though. Think about the memes you see everywhere. “If you just let go of it, God will make it happen.” “Pray often enough, try hard enough, have more faith, dream big enough… and God will bless you.” And by bless you, of course that means give you whatever you want. That sounds fair to me, I like fair.

But life isn’t fair. Miscarriage isn’t fair. Infertility isn’t fair. Cancer isn’t fair.

But God is good. How? Through the troubles He warned us would come, He provides peace and hope, and He put us in community to remind us we are not alone in hard things.

So what am I trying to say? This: Family planning is a joke.

You might laugh and say, “Yeah, she’s pregnant with her fourth kid. Obviously she thinks family planning is a joke.”

No, this is not about birth control and family size and whatever. What I mean is MY family planning was a joke. I realized I had fallen for the lie that the success or failure of pregnancy reflected the success or failure of my faith. Without knowing it, I’d written up a contract where I did a pretty good job at following His rules, and then He made my plans work out.

But it’s so different. Because of grace.

Him giving me a baby does not depend on what rules I follow or how much I pray or how good I try to be.

And Him giving me salvation does not depend on what rules I follow or how much I pray or how good I try to be. His work on the cross, not my work or good intentions.

And that gave me a peace. It didn’t take away the ache or the grief or the longing. I am still heartbroken over our miscarriage even though it was five years ago. It was hard to wait. It was hard to accept that my plan doesn’t prevail. But I learned life isn’t a tally sheet of my goods and bads. Instead there’s hope. Even in loss, even when my plan fails, there is hope in Christ.

(This was originally shared with my MOPS group to recognize October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month)


Thursday thoughts align

Each morning, after my shower, I climb back in bed for some quiet time before the small people wake up. This morning, I was reading through my blog roll, and several new posts hit my heart. Then at our first MOPS meeting, our speaker, Amy the women’s director at our church, spoke on the same theme I’d been reading earlier in the morning!

I want to share the links as well as some things that stood out to me:

What a cab driver taught me about excellence, Sarah Mae – I don’t want to just “get by” in life, I want to pursue excellence! “Does it intimidate you to think about becoming excellent in marriage and/or parenting? Me too. But that’s because I have considered excellence to be perfection, but they are not the same. Perfection is completion, no more work to be done. It’s finished. Not so with us. We are only complete in Christ, but in action, in life, not so much. But excellence, that’s different. Excellence is working hard at becoming the best you can at something, failures and all. It’s intention, and giving, and caring, and going for great.”

Giving yourself grace, Vanessa – “Truly giving yourself grace isn’t about giving yourself anything. It’s about being open to His grace and fully accepting it, not just for the big hurdles, but for the tiny every day stumbles.” I read this after Sarah Mae’s excellence post, and I thought they complemented each other so well!

Give your children the gift of a happy mama, Sally Clarkson – This is not a superficially happy mama, this is a mama whose joy comes from being intentional in faith, fun and thankfulness. “The grid through which you see life will determine how you behave in life. Children want a happy mama–that makes them feel acceptable, as though they belong, and filled up in their own little hearts because mamas are the compass that lead children to joy in life.”

Changing perspective and giving your family grace, Amy – I took notes on her message and posted the recap on the MOPS blog. “Pray for God to help you give your family your best.”

An interesting note, both Sarah Mae and Vanessa have personal blogs which I follow, but both their posts today were at (in)courage where Sarah Mae is a regular contributor and Vanessa was a guest poster.

Grow in His word – Colossians 3:16

My friend Vanessa is hosting a link-up with some of her bloggy friends to encourage personal Bible study. The idea follows the acronym GROW:

G – Greet – Welcome God’s presence into your study with prayer
R – Read – Read the verse a few times, both silently and aloud
O – Observe – Ask yourself what stood out to you while you read the verse
W – Write – Write out the verse, note your observations, and share a prayer for this verse

For my fourth element:


Context: Colossians 3 describes what a Christ-follower’s life should look like. It contrasts the old and new and uses the analogies of put off and put on. Toward the end of these instructions, verse 15 starts “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” and verse 16 follows “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Peace and the word, ruling and dwelling.

col 3 16 grow

The first line of the verse stood out to me this time.

Let – this word speaks openness to me. It’s not complicated or necessarily requiring much effort. Just stand back and allow it to happen.

the word of Christ – there are many ways God has spoken – prophets, visions, Jesus – but we can access His word any time with the Bible. His word. Isn’t that amazing? It’s there, was there, will always be there. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” John 1:1 It’s stable and reliable. Jesus is the Word, truth personified.

dwell in you – for His word to dwell in us, we have to know it. And sometimes, after being in “the church” for a while, we can know a lot about His word without letting it dwell in us. We might keep it in our heads or use it to measure where others fall short, but we don’t let it dwell, really live as an active part of us. Memorization makes this easier. As the spirit also dwells in us (James 4:5), He can bring the word to mind. It’s there, hanging out, some of it in a back closet of the brain, but it’s still dwelling.

richly – the Greek word is plousios which means abundantly. We can’t just open the door a crack and let a few things in. “John 3:16 is pretty good, and all the love stuff. Y’all can come in. I think I’ll try to do the rest on my own. Encourage and teach on my own. Between Google and Pinterest, I should come up with some good stuff.” Nope, let the word dwell richly. It’s comfortable, it’s at home, it fills us. Richly. Like a dark chocolate molten lava cake. Mmmmm.

And that’s as far as I’m going to go today. Click over to Hearts on Guard to see the link-up and check out what the others are writing about this verse.

Some days

Some days I feel like that. Except I would have the covers pulled over my head.
Parenting is hard in itself. And I’ve discovered some personality things that make it harder, especially as a stay-at-home mom. Kelly, a contributor at Keeper of the Home described it well:
Wanna know something funny? I am an extreme introvert. Do you know what that means? It means I get my energy from quiet, alone time. Lots of it. It means after being around noise and people for a few hours, I feel like I’m going to completely have a melt down… Do you think I was “cut out” for this? Patient? Ha! No, but to keep from losing it all together, I have to die daily. I have to crucify my flesh every day. It’s painful. But it’s what we’re called to do. It’s just that most of us would rather run away from the means by which He wants to use in our lives for that daily dying.
I wish I could develop more of her perspective of appreciating character development. I feel like I’m still in survival mode a lot of the time. Though it makes sense that I shouldn’t just spend my time trying to develop character in my kids, I should be intentional in growing in character myself. And I need coping strategies that don’t involve crying and hiding. ;)
I’m just thankful for each new day where I can try to do better. And though children are quick to cause frustration, they are also quick to extend grace and forgiveness. When it seems like everything is going wrong, I can look back and see I really do have a few more things figured out than I did a year ago. So there’s big-picture growth.
In the day-to-day, I have to figure out a baby who won’t sleep without nursing and a little girl who is in mental, physical and verbal perpetual motion. Like any new muscle, this introvert is stretching, sore and fragile. The strength is building, but some days the covers go over my head to hide for just a few minutes since it turns out Hannah is not very quick at hide and go seek. ;)

Madly, Truly, Deeply

Before Hannah was born, I wondered what it would feel like to be a mom. My previous roles were daughter, sister and wife. This was something different; my life would now be devoted, 24/7, to keeping this little person alive and helping her grow into the best big person she could be.

Then I walked into a nursery of bassinets, and the nurse led me to one and said, “Congratulations, mom!”

Um, okay?

It wasn’t in that instant, but one day I realized that over time I had not only fallen in love with this little person, I had feelings for her that were very different than other relationships. Now, as she is three, she regularly drives me to the end of my patience and takes me to the negative end of my emotional spectrum more than anyone else. But she also makes me laugh more than anyone else, and I have this passionate, crazy attachment to her despite the daily challenges.

We spend hours and hours and hours a week together. Just the two of us. We have our routine, our friends, our jokes.

I know some things will change with the new baby. Everyone will be making adjustments. I keep reminding myself that this sibling is a gift – I can’t imagine life without my sister! It’s hard to wrap my head around, but as God puts our family together, I’m trusting He’ll give me the same crazy love for each child as I have for Hannah. But I’m wondering how I could possibly love anyone else the way I love her?

There are a lot of children’s books along the lines of “how much I love you.” Some of these are pretty cheesy, in my opinion. But someone gave us one that makes me cry every time I read it to Hannah. I want to include the last few verses here:

You’re my sweetie, my dear, my smile and giggle.

You’re my playmate for always, my hug and my wiggle.

Hanging out with you is where I like to be,

eating ice cream sundaes or watching the TV.

Under your umbrella, behind you on a bike,

by you and beside you is what I really like.

I can’t imagine life before you came along.

You are the music to my dance and my song.

I am meant for you, and you are meant for me,

the one I love forevermore. Undeniably.

I Love You So… by Marianne Richmond

Did anyone else have an emotional rough patch going from one to two kids? Please reassure me!