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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Slowing Down This Season

I fumbled to the bathroom at 4:59am and couldn't get back to sleep. There's a long to-do list today. Family is on their way into town, there's a 12 pound turkey in the fridge that needs to be brined and I really wanted to connect with you guys before the holiday season is officially underway.

Thanksgiving is my very favorite holiday of them all - it's so pure and simple. Hundreds of years later, here we are, about to gather around a table, eat good food and give thanks for it. I love the new Friendsgiving tradition and the way this holiday seems to hover above the fray of commercialism that all other holidays have been sucked into. (Although yes, I have the Publix salt and pepper shaker pilgrims and would die for a matching pair of Indians...)

I'm off social media for a while (haven't you've been missing me??) - I'll pop on to post this and hope to write a few entries during the month of December, so email subscribers, no worries! But if you only catch the blog when I post on FB or IG, maybe subscribe via email so you don't miss anything? I'm struggling to manage the ever-present pull of social media with the need to be ever-present in my day-to-day routine, so I think it's best I back away from the smartphone and re-assess.

I'll leave you with this simple list, let me know what you're drinking, feeling, bookmarking in the comments? 

wearing: an old t-shirt with a hole in the collar, joggers and slippers
drinking: coffee coffee there another drink to be had at 5:30am? 
listening: to Una Mattina by Ludovico Einaudi (I love me a good pianist before the sun rises) 
wanting: these pre-dawn hours to be less-fleeting
smelling: my Voluspa candle in Baltic Amber, I'm obsessed
feeling: peaceful. Is there any other way to feel when you're awake before the world?
making: margarita pound cake today for a bridal shower this weekend...fingers crossed it turns out
wishing: some of my high school girls (who are now college girls, but who will always be high school girls to me) would come visit while they're home for the holidays. Hint Hint.
watching: BJ and I just started The Crown on Netflix, so far so good! 
enjoying: hearing Elijah read to Jude before bedtime - it's hard to say who is most delighted with this new development: Jude, me or Elijah. 
eating: clean! I started tracking my macros this past week again, it always helps me to keep an eye on nutrition during a month where it's so easy to go off the rails 
hopingJude phases out of this whole screaming "NO!" act real quick
lovingmy new volunteer commitment with Birds on a Wire MomsI get to talk to adults AND contribute to a ministry that has given so much to me... #winning
bookmarking: my Bible. I've been filling up on the Psalms this morning and think I might want an Advent study to do this year, any suggestions? 

Happy Thanksgiving friends! I'm so grateful you read and respond to this little space where I share my heart.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Sacrifice for Strangers

Never in the history of the world 
has any soldier sacrificed more for the freedom 
and liberty of total strangers than the American soldier.  
~Zell Miller 

I didn't grow up in a military family and didn't really have friends who did. To this 1980s child, war was a thing that happened far away and in the movies. I had a soldier pen pal in 2nd grade who flew bombers over the Middle East. I wrote a few letters and sent a few care packages to soldiers serving overseas post 9/11. For the most part though, a soldier's sacrifice is hard to wrap my brain around and warfare is something that happens far far away. 

Today I want to say thank you to the soldiers I have known. Both of my grandfathers - who served overseas in World War II and the Korean War. Thank you for leaving your families and the comfort of the known to defend the defenseless and offer your strength to those in need of it. 

To my amazing in-laws Bill and Debbie who served for many many years and sacrificed time with their young children and the stability of living in one place in order to proudly serve in the Air Force both here and abroad, thank you so much. The values you passed along to my husband, so many of which were demonstrated through your service in the military have been and will continue to be a great blessing to our family. 

And to all the military wives I have the privilege to know - I see you patiently enduring the home front. Getting the kids off to school by yourself, finding a friend to cover for "Donuts with Dad", Skyping late at night and early in the morning so your husbands can connect with your kids. You are the cornerstone of your family during these years...thank you for a sacrifice that so often goes unnoticed. 

It is something I think about far too little but am truly grateful for - to have never known war in my hometown because of soldiers willing to fight thousands of miles from theirs. Thank you for giving up holidays at home, higher paying jobs, comfortable beds, the security of the First World, your children's birthdays and a thousand other things only you will ever know you sacrificed. 

Thank you for your courage, your honor and your selflessness. Happy Veteran's Day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hard is Okay Sometimes

"...for we know suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope..." 

Being a Mom is hard.

I'm seven years into this gig, currently homeschooling four little kids age seven and under and quite often not talking to another adult until the afternoon (on a good day) or the evening when my husband gets home. I also happen to be an extreme extrovert and most days it feels hard.

The primary mode of communication around here is very transactional:

You want a banana? I'm sorry, when you asked for an apple, I assumed you wanted an APPLE. 

Please stop running your bike into the garage door.

No, sorry I don't want to read any more books right now.

No, you cannot eat your sandwich in the bathroom.

Your brother hit you? Work it out.

What do you mean you want grapes? You just asked for a banana!

There's about a 30 minute window each day, usually right around lunch time, when my brain, which supposedly thrives on multitasking and being with people, maxes out and starts to misfire.

When quiet time arrives (less quiet these days than it used to be, but at least the toddler is napping and the others know they need to self-entertain) my brain-dead brain just wants to space out. But it also craves adult interaction and friendship and community. So instead of picking up a novel or taking a nap, I'll find myself hidden in a corner (or as of this week, in the pantry...eating their Halloween candy...) scrolling.

And scrolling.

And scrolling.

And it scratches the itch. I see smiling faces of friends I know and love. I read the inspiring caption of a blogger I admire, appreciate the beauty of another adult's creative pursuits, read their words, encourage them with a quick comment.

But it's a 2D substitute for the flesh and spirit I'm really craving.

The other day I asked my sister  (somewhat ironically, but mostly completely seriously) "how do I make friends?" She deadpanned back, "I think you have to leave your house."

Hmm. Leaving my house is a complicated proposition at best, made less-appealing by the fact that I'm supposed to spend my day educating these children rather than in search of friendship.


I grew up in the 80s and 90s, the era when self-esteem was all the rage. Those decades when coaches started giving us all a trophy for showing up and teachers stopped using red pen to correct essays lest we felt our work wasn't as good as everyone else's.

Somewhere in my formative years I internalized the message that things ought to come easily to me. And if something didn't, I ought to put it down and go find something that did come easily. In high school and college this was easy enough. I dropped classes, dropped relationships, dropped sports, dropped after-school clubs. As adults we operate in a society where it's easy to quit a job, end a pregnancy or leave a marriage that is difficult. I have to fight my innate desire to drop things that aren't easy.

I'm lonely these days. And lonely feels embarrassing and a little pathetic. As someone who is 99% extroverted, lonely is basically my worst nightmare. Lonely is hard.

Friends are difficult to make and friendship is difficult to maintain in this season. It feels really hard some days. But as I teach my kids each day, I'm discovering along the way that maybe hard is okay.

Hard doesn't mean you're doing something wrong.

Hard doesn't mean you need to quit.

Hard doesn't mean you made a bad decision, you're a failure or that you need to seek an out.

Every now and then hard is an indication that you are being pig-headed about whatever it is or truly doing something wrong, but sometimes life is hard. Seasons are difficult. And there are untold lessons to be learned in the persevering.

Homeschooling could be difficult because it's not the right season or the right thing at all for our family. Next year I may have three kids in the public school across the street. And I pray for wisdom and the discernment to make that change if we need to.

But then again, it could be that this feels hard because it is hard. And maybe, just maybe, hard is okay sometimes.

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