Tuesday, September 27, 2016

That Woman, Part 2

I don't seem to be able to pull off the nicely packaged blog posts.  The ones with a funny beginning, intriguing middle, and pull it all together end.  I love those!  It's so nice when it feels like I'm in class and what I'm reading is just exactly what I need to be learning and the one teaching me has got her act together.  It makes it easy to trust her...she's prepared and she has honed this thing, baby.  So far, that vibe seems to elude me.  Ha!

I cannot resist the urge to transparently blurb out my wrestle and my fumble as I crank these words out.  But I hope I get better at that.  Preparation would likely make the difference, don't you think?? So you bear with me so kindly as you patiently read my ramble until I get into some words that are the real deal.  That's what makes you such a jewel: you bear with me in the process of becoming.  I only hope I offer that same space to you.

Two and a half weeks since my last post.  Let's see, how many times have I regretted opening the topic of womanhood up? So many times.  Lost count.  The thoughts go something like this: Where do I start? Where do I start? Where do I start?  What do I think? What do I think? What do I think? What are you saying, Father? What are you saying, Father? What are you saying, Father? What is that thing I feel? What is that thing I feel? What is that thing I feel?  WHY did I choose something as big as the ocean?????

The topic continues to stir around for me so here we still are together. And I remind myself that you aren't reading these words because you're looking for an expert, or for one specific answer, and that, ahem, I can lighten up! Lightening up seems to be a key for me in life :).  More than positioning myself as a teacher/expert - you know what would make my heart burst? Being a part of you taking the next step forward that He has for you.  Being a voice that urges you forward and further into Truth.  He is fully capable of getting each of us to the end-goal all on His own.  So, if I can be a friend along the way that cheers loudly enough to make putting the foot down on the next place He has for your foot as little easier, then I will do my happy dance.  It's the same dance I do for Liam when he can say his Scripture verse for school without any cues from me....it's silly, it's wild and it's loud!

Thank you for your transparent and generous responses to the questions I asked in the last post!!! I was a little blown away at how much time you gave to answer fully.  Each answer pushed me further into intrigue.  And it affirmed that womanhood is indeed a beautiful mountain worth ascending and digging into.

I'm going to work my way into pondering your answers.  They have been tucked away but bits and pieces of them keep popping back into my thoughts.  For today, I thought I'd try answering them myself.  It's my next step, hehe!

Let's see:

What is the thing that trips you up the most in womanhood?
Just one?! Seeing pictures of or catching a glimpse my naturally occurring double chin. Here's the pic. 

Honestly, I couldn't capture it in its full glory.  But I was getting embarrassed of taking selfies in the coffee shop. 

Is a double chin the worst thing in womanhood? Nah. But does it trip me up? Uh huh.   

On a more meaningful note, one thing that consistently trips me up as a woman, as a person, is encountering anyone who is doing something differently than I am.  And, that's a lot of tripping up obviously.  The small differences don't mess with me so much...it's more the big things that put me on a different road than someone I care about.  Doing anything differently than my mom (Do you know her??? She's great and worthy of modeling after)....choosing a different school for my kids than my neighbor, my dear friends...adhering to different parenting philosophies than my friends do....spending money differently than others do....you get the idea.

What is one of your dreams as it relates to being the woman you were created to be?
I dream of being brave and I dream of not having the strong urge to run and hide when I think about that woman He is calling me.  Cue 'Oceans.'  Cue 'You Make Me Brave.'  

What is something you tend to admire in other women, again and again?

I admire women who aren't afraid to look other women in the eyes.  I admire women who have tackled jealousy - those who have much but sit right down for a deep conversation with one who has little.  And the one who has meager posessions but confidently steps into the life of the one who has much - knowing that she carries the Author of All in her.  I admire women who are old in years but keep letting the Lord teach them and who keep being changed by His love.  That's a complex thing.  

What has God taught you about womanhood?

Ahhhhhh here's the digging question.  You guys had some beautiful responses.  I'm going to try freeflowing my thoughts: He's taught me that womanhood has nothing to do with weakness and instead it requires a very complex strength.  And He's taught me that sometimes weakness is the doorway to true strength.  He's taught me that women are forged in the valleys and that the valleys are not always worth my fight against them.  He's taught me that my husband is a contributor to my sense of womanhood...but this path is one that only God and I can walk together.  It's a journey for the two of us and sometimes He uses him to speak into it or encourage it or provide a stumble here or there...but it's really work that can only be done between Him and me.  He's been teaching me about physical beauty and the role it plays in womanhood.  I hear voice after voice saying that our physical beauty is not our worth, our measure or our identity.  All true.  But we're missing something.  Very much chewing on that one.

I'm going to keep delving.....keep delving with me!

Abi (and Melissa, Carrie, Connie, Gina, Kim, Lindsay, Rusty, Jillian, Summer, Amanda, and Lauren)

Friday, September 9, 2016

That Woman

You know what I do when opening this page up and writing feels too scary to face? It's a little trick I learned from Julia Cameron...author of The Artist's Way.  I talk to myself like I am a little three year old: "It's okay Abi!  Let's just have fuuuuun! Oh look you opened the page - that's GREAT!  Now what does having fun feel like to you?  Words are fun and talking is fun!  Let's have fun."

I encourage the heck out of my little self over the least step forward and it brings a smile to my face.  And it works!

Thank you for reading my last post.  I think that's been one of the biggest, scariest gremlins in my thoughts: not wanting to waste people's time.  There's a blogger everywhere we look.  There's a helpful article at every click of the mouse.  There's a funny post to go with each day of the week. And in the spiritual space, there are 'good' pieces of spiritual advice/encouragement a plenty.  Enough to keep us reading from the time we wake up until we hit the pillow at night.  Do you take yourself seriously?  I take myself seriously some days and others I feel like I'm the world's biggest joke on two legs.  Of course that's an exaggeration but I know you can relate.  It's that voice that tells you 'Ha! You want to take up people's time?! Like an expert or something??  Like a writer or something?! Ha!'

That voice and its darn 'ha!'.  Well, 'ha!' to you voice.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.  Do you hear me cackling?  Because that's what I am doing right in your face voice: laughing and laughing and laughing.  I'm not an expert!  I'm not a writer!  But maybe I'm on my way.  And the thought of it makes my heart lurch forward....so I'm going to follow the lurch instead of your critical voicy self.

Having said all of that, it really does mean something to me that you read the last post.  Your time is a gift.  Your ears and your heart are an honor.  You were made with such craftsmanship and such exacting design by a Creator who values you more than you can wrap your mind around.  You have immense value to Him....so the fact that you gave me your time is humbling.  And thrilling!  And very humbling.

Last time I mentioned that I'm paying attention to the deep thinking.  It seems like that is the place in us that He is present and He is at work.  Sure, He springs big and quick thoughts into our blatant path, too.  But the low and rumbling part of you where thinking and being and listening blend together - that seems like the spot we can take a step back from and observe what He is doing in us....if we want to.  Sometimes I don't want to!  But often it's well worth the time and journey.

Out of all the things I listed that I've been deep thinking about, the one that has swirled the most since then is this topic of womanhood.  What a mountain.  As I've pondered, my thoughts have been trying to gravitate towards a top ten list.  Like what are the top ten things a woman should be.  What are the top ten things that make a woman great.  What are the top ten things that make womanhood womanhood.  Gag.  First, gag because I don't have such lists.  And don't lists feel dead?  Like 'do these ten things to achieve awesome in womanhood.'

I know some amazing women though.  Whew.  I can't think of a single one who is the total package because, uh I know them!  I know their imperfections.  But the areas of beauty and strength in womanhood that shine through their imperfections make the strengths even more powerful.  I'm going to attempt a deep sea dive into this arena and I'm wondering if you would help me.  I want to host conversations with some of the women who have caught my eye and focus in on the strengths they display that are whoa level.  Would you have a conversation with me about this?  Don't feel the need to comment publicly if you'd rather whisper your short thought to me.  Just message me.

I'd like to know:

What is the thing that trips you up the most in womanhood?
What is one of your dreams as it relates to being the woman you were created to be?
What is something you tend to admire in other women, again and again?
What has God taught you about womanhood?

I REALLY TRULY ACTUALLY would love to have your help.  This isn't a huge incentive, but if you contribute, I'll list you with me when I sign my 'Love, Abi' at the end.  But I won't indicate what part you played so as to keep it safe for your honesty.

To be a woman is something so beautiful.  It can be painful.  But that's what makes Salvation, Salvation. Saving from pain...sometimes the saving comes through the pain so that the pain ceases to be our identity and instead it's a badge of beauty that opens up story after story. I am so excited to delve in.  Delve with me.

Abi (See right here!  Your name could be right here!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Clunky One

Hi.  When I think of the fact that multiple people may read this everything goes wonky for me.  So instead, I pretend that it's just us here.  You and me.

And it's been quite a while since I've pulled up this chair and clacked away at these keys.  I took such a nice/long/productive/complicated/wrestling wrapped/hard/delightful break from blogging.  At some point, maybe I'll write you a saga of the ups and the downs...the ins and the outs.  Wrestling is one of the most intimate sports, I've decided :).  But for now, it's Tuesday afternoon, my two little men are with my rock star parents, and I'm drinking.  A little iced latte heeeeeeey!  And my fingers want to type and not think and not edit and smile and then push publish and be foot loose and fancy free.

I'm turning 35 in October.  That is sobering and exhilarating all in one......I've been thinking about what I want for my birthday.  I think I like birthday gifts more and more the older I get - a perk. Thinking lamps, thinking photography, thinking flannel shirts, thinking booties, and thinking of things that delight.  What would be on your birthday list if you just came up with things that would delight???  In some ways, I feel sexier at 35 than I did at 25.  No - I definitely do.  Even though the bod looks different, the brow has a nice layering of straight horizontal lines and my eyebrows are working on a permawrinkle where I knit them together in focus... I feel sexier.  My mom only gets more stylish with each year so I'm just kind of taking that as my legacy, ha!  WHY NOT?!  I tell you what, there have been many many many days in these slump years of having babies when my mom has looked way way way better than me.  She's got it going on.  I like it :)

So here's what I'm going to do.  You should do it too.  I'm going to just free flow write about the things that have been on my heart.  These are the things that I'm starting to delve into and wrestle out and these are the things that are driving my fingers to click away again.  So when I say you should do it too, I mean, you should do this too.  What have you been thinking about lately?  You know....at that level deep down that actually takes you time to connect to.  The rumbling and wrestling fields of your truest self.  Pull those things up my friend!

1. Womanhood.  Womanhood.  Princess Diana, beauty, Viola Davis, is there a definition of womanhood that we should attain to, if it is true that God is neither male nor female and that we are ALL created in His image...what parts of my femaleness are direct reflections of Him, what is a strong woman, I know a lot of strong women and I'd love to highlight pieces of many of them, what is it about Princess Diana that has mesmerized me since I was six years old, we know that comparison is a thief but HOW do we get freedom from that?, really how?, I'm talking very very practical steps, what does womanhood look like in marriage, what does womanhood look like in not-married life, what would I tell my college friends that they should fix their eyes on as they take long strides into their twenties - the hash it out decade of first stepping into womanhood.  Womanhood - whoa.

2. Prayer.  I think we all assume we all pray.  But, I think the vast majority of us feel lost and odd after sixty seconds.

3.  Introducing our children to Jesus.  I have the honor of knowing an amazing crowd of parents.  As my oldest is five, I find myself down on my knees asking for help as the conversations become more real.  Dang it, I don't want to give him rote answers...so I'd love to delve into ways to tap into those heart conversation with our children.

4.  Weight loss.  As I have slowly lost weight, I have come face to face with the bondage and the yuck that comes with the extra pounds.  Not talking about a magic number on the scale...talking about acknowledging the truth of our relationship with food.  Oh man, there's freedom out there!  This one makes me tremor though.

5. What I'm growing in....in marriage, in being a person, in being a parent, in being a friend.  The struggles, the eyes on the prize, the truth.

6. How do we live honestly? The word 'honest' has become hot, over used and also increasingly important.  But whoa if there isn't a lot to learn about living that out.  When do we bring transparency, when is it simply not enough to be just honest, when is it a problem, how do we do it.....lots to ponder.

There's probably more in there.  Are you thinking of your list?  You really, really should.  Send it to me if you feel so inclined.

Rusty, clunky, chunky, but done.  I came back and blogged.  Not on the new site, still on this old thing.  But done.  I published something and that makes me sing......Seriously, I'd love to see your list of what you've been thinking about, I really would.  Consider sending it to me.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hello Summer, Goodbye Blog

Or something like that. Happy Blog Friday y'all!

I tell you what, my heart has been churning over the past month.  So to you, my precious friend taking his or her time to read this, I wanted to share a little update.  Big, earth-shattering news.  Ha!  (wink, wink)

I'm going to take the summer off from writing weekly blog posts.  And, ya know, weekly is an awfully generous word for what it really has been over the past few months!  But, many weeks, I've hit a wall when I sat down to write and that got me to pondering.  And listening.  My first reaction was, well shoot.  Guess it's time to stop blogging....I got nothin'.  But that thought left me more distraught than trying to work through and come up with words.  So I started pushing further and asking more about why that wall seemed to meet me every week.

The answer?  There are lots of reasons.  Naturally!  But, mostly I need more.  I want more.  I feel desperate for more vision, more focus, and more direction in writing.  Although this blog is basically something that my friends read, I am deeply honored that anyone would spend their time reading my words.  Bloggers are a dime a dozen!  You could spend hours reading blogs!  And that you choose to read this, blows me away. So, in some ways, I feel protective of your time.  I want my words to be life-giving and entertaining, but I also want them to carry some bit of content that will make a difference for you after reading. And that some 'bit of content' part is the one that hangs me up.

If I move forward with blogging, I want to do so with more intention and more vision.  And I honestly believe that it's there to be had but it deserves some set aside time to pursue.  For reals, when I get a blog post up it is barely up and there is little time or space for pre-thought, editing, or thinking much about writing in any other manner.  It's my season as a mom of little boys and I wouldn't trade it.  I would not trade it for anything, and yet I still feel my heart being prodded to take steps towards a dream: being a writer/speaker.  And not to take steps when my boys are in school or fully raised, but right now.  And that's straight up messy!  So, I've come to the conclusion that it's just not realistic for me to maintain a commitment to write weekly, and to create the time and space necessary to press into more vision/focus for writing/blogging.

I really love the back and forth that I feel with you when I blog.  I genuinely feel it and your gift of time to read my words is treasured.

Bottom line, I want to blog and I want to write and I think that God is in that.  But, I want to take some time to make sure on that last part.  Because if He isn't, then, well, then I think I may be in deep doo doo.  :) Just made myself laugh out loud.  Deep doo doo is funny!  I have appreciated the encouraging feedback so many of you have offered but just want to take some time to pause and lay it down and listen.

So, maybe I'll show up and blog a little here and there or maybe I'll go totally silent.  But, if I may be so bold, would you pray for me this summer?  I'm at a point where I don't need any more great ideas, I just want to make sure that they are His ideas.  Seriously, if you get anything for me as you think of me, please please please feel free to reach out and share it with me.  I'll have my notebook ready to jot down your thoughts :).

Thank you for your time, my friend.  Whether or not we know each other well, you are my friend and your time is a great gift.

SO!  Happy weekending y'all!  Happy summering y'all!

Hope to catch up with you again in September.....but for now much love,

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Dear High School Graduate: An Open Letter to my Girlfriends

Hello, hello!

Oh the sweet times. The past few weekends, some very special people in my life have graduated from high school.  They are each uniquely beautiful, starkly different one from the other, and genuinely enjoyable.  We may have more than a few years separating us, but we share passionate love for Ben and Jerry's ice cream, hunger for God, savoring the beginnings of sweet relationships, talking about travel and adventure, and honest conversations about things that are both hard and wonderful.  I am honored to be called their friend. So, I am penning a letter to them and to others like them as they close one chapter and and take a huge bounding leap into the next:

Dear Sweet Friend,

I think about how I was feeling when I was in your shoes.  Feelings of sadness, questions, nervous excitement, bold excitement, and relief flooded me.  It was sad to close the door to high school because you knew you could never go back to those sacred years.  But, I knew that what waited for me on the other side of summer was something I was aching to dive right into.  And scared to dive into. And relieved to finally be about to dive into.... you know what I mean.

So as you dive, I have a few wishes for you.

I wish for you to know that everyone is nervous when they start college.  There will be those that look not only confident, but as if they own the place.  Believe me though, everyone is nervous.  Everyone is starting over....even the ones who come in knowing people.  Starting over in life is one of the most precious gifts you will be given, so make the very most of it.  This is such a great opportunity to leave behind habits that didn't yield great fruit in your life and embrace the things about yourself that line up with the woman you envision yourself becoming.

I wish for you to press into God as you start over.  Only He can help you walk in simultaneous confidence and humility of spirit.

Your confidence can be founded in the truth that HE is writing your story and He is a really good writer.  He is faithful.  And He is the most diverse artist there is.  He doesn't have one style....He has millions and billions of styles.  Each person is a reflection of His style - so that means that you are a reflection of Him too. Sometimes that is easier to believe that of others than it is of yourself.  But believe it of yourself.

Don't let that make you proud, but instead, let it make you grounded in the truth that you are designed on purpose and with great intention. If you can press in to that truth, you will attract the people that will actually sharpen you and make you better. Take your time in finding your crowd. You want to and will attract the kinds of people who are interested in mutually beneficial friendships, not lopsided ones where it's all about you needing them or them needing you.  Search out those kindred spirits who have enough going on in their hearts/spirits/minds to want to be a good friend to you as much as you want to be a good friend to them.  If it takes you a few months to do that, I promise the wait will be worth it.

Recently, I have seen this quote from Oscar Wilde all over the place: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."  Now here's the funny thing about that for you right now: you don't know who you are yet!  I say that in the kindest, most empathetic way possible.  It's odd because the more accurate thing would be to say that you both do and do not know who you are yet.  In fact, it is absolutely thrilling to be exactly where you are because you are about to discover so much about yourself!  How exciting! You have inklings now of who you are and were created to be....so follow those inklings. Follow those things that you do know about yourself.  God will delight to introduce you more and more to yourself.

So be inspired by those that you meet.  Be inspired by that great outfit.  By that unreal test score. By that brave performance.  Be inspired, but don't be jealous.  Inspiration allows you to see greatness in others and it causes you to dig deeper into the path that God has started to carve for you.  Be inspired by others and go for excellence.  You will never, ever regret the pursuit of excellence.  The pursuit of perfection, on the other hand, will lead you down a path that leads to lots of stuff you won't like in the future.

For you my friend, I pray that you will love learning.  Truly!  It is SUCH a gift to have a functioning and capable brain. Be a woman who loves to learn and is interested in intellect.  You won't each have the same version of that....but be a learner. If you approach each class as an opportunity to learn something, you'll be well served.  And listen, don't down math.  Math is important.  I got a marketing degree and used math all the time in my marketing/media job after graduating. I still use math skills all the time. You don't have to ace it, but don't dismiss it as pointless!  Do you want to be a woman who is successful in any way, shape or form? Then don't let numbers scare you. Okay, enough about math.  Back to loving learning.  Search out the professors that everyone talks about....do whatever you can to get into their classes.  Don't always go for the easy classes.  Embrace the ones that will push you.  And here's the key: talk to your professors.  Go introduce yourself to them!  Push down the violent butterflies in your stomach and shove your hand out and introduce yourself.  Tell them that you just wanted to say hello and that you hope to learn as much as  you can.  And then go to their office hours when you're studying for a big test.  College is so much bigger than high school.  Talking to your teachers and being known by your teachers is a given in high school.  It isn't in college.  That's entirely up to you....even in the smaller classes it will be up to you to have a relationship with them in which you can actually ask questions.  And believe me, they (mostly) want you to succeed...even the scary ones.  So, if you are willing to be part of teeny tiny fraction of students who go to office hours and ask for help from the professor, you will get keys that others simply don't.  Your learning experience will be so much richer because of your willingness to initiate getting to know your professors.

And oh, my friend, I wish for you to find friends that want to learn about pressing in to God together.  What I have learned that there is actually a lot to learn about pressing in to Him.  There is so much of Him available to us but my biggest seasons of learning that have come from putting myself in circles where others know a lot more than I do/did.  That can absolutely happen for you in college. Are there women who are older than you that get together to pray? Invite yourself.  You will learn so much about prayer from being around people who have been praying longer than you have.  It can truly rub off on you.  I assure you, it will! The same goes for reading the Bible.  There's a big wide world available to you....so find others who want it too and push each other to go for it.  Don't be afraid of being the 'serious' one.  The 'spiritual' one.  Go for it and dive into the Lord like never before.

Lest you think that I only hope for you to have a serious, spiritual and academic experience beginning just a few months from now....let's talk about fun.  Have it!  If there's an opportunity to do something you've never done (of the legal variety, ahem), do it!  Go on road trips!  Do ridiculously silly things with your friends and laugh loudly!  Go see movies late at night.  Dance in the hallways.  Travel as much as you can.  If you get the chance to study abroad....DO IT.  Experiment with your hair.  Cut it because you can and hair grows back!!! Have your favorite restaurants and go as much as you can with the people who are close to you.  And here's a wild one....watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice in your room on a rainy weekend, surrounded by pizza and candy.  The food you choose for that experience is key. Choose well, young one.  Try different ethnic foods than what you are used to.  College is such a great time to find new foods that you love :).....so I guess the follow up to that is, don't love the food too much!!!! LOL!  Find the good coffee in town (not Starbucks) and drink that coffee as much as you can.  Embrace these years for the adventure they offer you and soak it up.

And finally, a few wishes for you on the topic of love.  If you find the love of your life while you're young, darling, love every minute of that story.  And if you don't, darling, love every minute of that story.  You, truly, have almost zero control over when love will become a part of your story.  So, please, enjoy your story either way.  Live life to the fullest and embrace it.  That sounds utterly cliche, doesn't it? But, believe me, those who trust the Lord enough to do this, end up having very interesting and beautiful stories that are almost irresistible.

But one note to those who do happen to find head-over-heels love young: don't drop your girlfriends. No one person was ever intended to be your all-inclusive need meeter.  Including Mr. Right.  Keep being a good friend and giving quality time to your girls.  It's a tough balance and sometimes you'll get it right and sometimes you'll get it wrong....and sometimes you'll get it right and the friends will still be frustrated with you...but just keep trying.  It's worth it.

And to the ones who don't find love young: guard your heart from jealousy.  Jealousy inevitably  makes you do really funky things and causes you to be someone you really aren't.  Your life is goooooood.  Live up your singledom!  Have fun and love life and love who you are....I promise you that someday Mr. Right will say that that was one of the biggest things about you that drew him to you.

Oh my friend, I am truly so excited for you.  You're getting ready to dive!  I just can't wait for coffee dates to hear of all your tales.

Much love, happy diving, and happy weekending y'all,

A few of the beauties in my life:

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Messy Kitchen and Me

Happy FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!

It's the early morning hours of Friday and although the littlest man in my home has just piped up with his first 'good morning sounds' of the day, there is something still sacred about being awake before the sun.  A little painful (ha!) but still sacred.

I hope you've had a good week!  Our week has consisted of rain, the last week of Mother's Day Out for Liam before Summer break, praying with friends, Mr. Shepherd struggling with some pain (which I've assumed was teething but we are heading to the Dr today just to make sure there's not something else I'm missing) and cleaning my kitchen all day every day.  My friend Natasha is pretty funny.  She has coined the term ADED.  Which represents All Day Every Day.  Ha!  No explanation necessary for any mommy type reading, right?!

But seriously, the kitchen.  For the past two weeks, it has become my arch rival on a daily basis.  Or I guess we could say, ADED.  The dang thing has won every single battle we've had recently.  I mean, truly, I'm not sure I've beat it in any one of our encounters.  I am fairly certain that I use every moment of free time that I have to whittle away at it during the daylight hours.  And some days, it really does come fairly close to being beat.  It looks good by the time I'm done with it.  But how quickly it resurfaces in it's messy winningness.

Seeing as how this battle has raged for a few weeks now, I have most definitely found myself doing deep, down to my toes, soul searching as I've scrubbed dishes for the millionth time.  Pondering questions of 'Whhhhhhhhy?' and 'What's wrong with me?' and 'How in the world can I fix this?'  You know, if you haven't been in such a wrestle with such a room recently, this may sound trivial!  But I assure you, it is very much all out warfare when you're stuck in the middle of it!

In all of that deep down to my toes soul searching, a few things have occurred to me.  Namely, I'm in one of those stretches of mommyhood.  You know the ones.  The ones where someone needs something ADED. Granted, I think that's the story of being a mom most days....but my experience has been that there are just these phases where it heightens and it's somehow more.  My big boy relishes playing with me and being at my feet, and my little boy is teething and just crawled for the first time yesterday and is doing Olympic level developmental leaps....which is delightful but means that there is not much putting him down for more than ten minutes.  And I personally struggle to be very productive at all in ten minute chunks.  And then there's my biggest boy who relishes quality time together at the end of our work days...and I do too.  That and, by the end of these days of mommying, I have very little steam left.

I've determined that what I really truly need is for everyone to go away.  HA!!!!!!  Mind you, I don't wish for everyone to go away (mostly)!  But if I could just be left alone in my house for 3-4 hours, I could beat it all down in a ferocious way.  I could practically run as I cleaned because there would be no so little hindrance.  I'd be like one of those fierce athletes that trains wearing weights so that when they get to the actual event to compete they feel like they can fly because their body is so much lighter.  Totally.

It takes very little imagination for me to fast forward my life ten years and look back at my mommy of little people self and say something like 'Sister, let it go.  Relish the babies.  If the mess comes with the babies, live it up!'  So I try to keep that in mind.  Because I do LOVE this season of my life. BUT, when you do not work outside of the home, sweet mercy, a messy house is really something to wrestle with.  Even as I'm typing, this all sounds a little over the top dramatic!  But, I kid you not, when you are swimming in a messy kitchen that you just can't beat - day after day - it starts to feel like a torture method a terrorists would use. No.....not overly dramatic at all. Smirk.

Of course, at the end of the day, the messy kitchen isn't really about the messy kitchen.  It's about how it makes me feel.  And, it makes me feel overwhelmed.  It makes me feel like I'm just not getting on top of life.  It makes me feel like I'm trapped. It makes me feel irresponsible.  At about this point, I'm a really hopin' you can relate!  Because if you can't, well that's just embarrassing then.

Although it's now Friday afternoon as I'm wrapping this post up (we've now started the day, enjoyed some quality time, I got to clean for 25 minutes (timer set), played cars and the Busy Town board game, gotten a summer hair cut for the big boy, picked up a charm at Vintage Pearl, ate a little lunch at Mimi's and now we are back and both boys are having room time....one sleeping, one 'reading') and I've pondered the words I wrote early this morning.

It's always dangerous to take a pause when writing because the second-guesser inevitably shows up.  Thoughts of how ridiculous it is to write about how my kitchen has been my enemy for two weeks, thoughts of how petty it must sound to someone not in this stage, thoughts of judgement from those who truly excel at keeping order in their home or thoughts of judgement from those who see keeping order as far less important than spending all your time focused on little ones.......the list goes on.  But here I am, still writing.  Oh well, I say.  My kitchen really has been my foe over the past two weeks!  But do you know what.....the Lord does speak through most any situation in which we face a foe.

It makes me think of James 1:2-4:

  Count it all joy, my brothers,[b] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Count it all joy.  And the word 'let' in verse four really strikes me.  It is possible to face a trial and not 'let' the fruit come.  Let steadfastness have its full effect, that I may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  So by the grace of God, I press in to steadfastness because HE is steadfast.  And if HE is, and HE is in me and I am in Him, then I have the capacity to let steadfastness do it's work.  

And though I still press forward to gain the upper hand in my kitchen (come on weekend!), the Lord has reminded me of a few truths:

- When I feel overwhelmed, I panic.  It's hard for me to know where to start and I'm pretty sure I literally walk in circles.  So, make the job smaller.  Focus on one part and stick with it.  

- Set the timer and commit to cleaning for that amount of time and then stop.  Part of the reason that I HATE having my kitchen talk back at me with its messiness is that it genuinely robs me from time I'd love to spend playing on the floor with my big boy and baby boy.  If I set the timer, it gives boundaries to all.  Liam knows when I'll be done and I know when I'll be done and when that timer goes off, I walk away and settle onto the floor for some car playing.  

- Allow truth to walk me back from the edge of dire thinking.  The truth is: I am fully capable of getting on top of the kitchen.  I am not a perfect mom/home manager, but I'm good.  And the kitchen simply doesn't get to talk to me.  I get to talk to it.  Sometimes I feel like Adam and Eve....God gave them dominion over the creation, correct?!  So, I have to remind myself and this house and its little voice, that God gave me dominion - not the other way around.  This house doesn't own me or have the right to tell me who I am or what I am.  So back off already, kitchen!  You'll meet your maker when I get the window of time.  And you'll be sorry you ever breathed a thing to me :)........ Seriously as I type this I'm contemplating whether or not I'm entirely stable.  Ha!  

- Today is beautiful.  Even if I stare at a list of things that need to be done ADED, this day is beautiful.  And my baby boys will be full grown men bigger than me in the blink of an eye.  So pass me that squishy baby cheek to nuzzle and kiss, and let me stare into the deep and sweet eyes of a three and a half year old and hear his heart.  These are God's treasures that He's trusted into our hands to nurture and train into their destinies.  That's important.  

- But a clean kitchen is important too.  Because it makes my brain stop hurting.  And I'm pretty sure there is a direct link to a clean kitchen and peace.  Wink, wink. So, I keep pushing when I can.  

Uh, thank you LORD that it's Friday!  Vietnamese food with my favorite three men awaits me tonight and that means I won't dig my kitchen hole deeper.  Glory.  Highest praises!  HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!  

I sincerely hope you're on the brink of a delightful weekend.  And whatever your foe has been, I hope you find words to talk back to it a little.  Remind it of who's who.  A little trash talk feels real good.  

Love y'all and happy weekending,

Friday, May 1, 2015

Friday: Ponytail hair, boys and coffee, and the great pillow debate.

I'm not sure which city you're sitting in as you clicked the link to read today....but this Friday in Tulsa is that perfect kind of weather.  That is, if you like sunshine, short sleeves, and blue skies.  Ha!  If Seattle is your vibe, then you probably wouldn't use the word perfect!  Ahhhhhh perfection is in the eye of the beholder.
I'm going to be straight up with you: I have nothing meaty to write today.  No insights to share.  No deep ponderings to present.  Just my thoughts and goings about on this Friday.  Now for myself, the uber nosy person who actually does enjoy looking at paparazzi pictures because I love seeing glimpses into people's lives, this sort of post would be a totally legit way to spend my time!  But if you're looking for something that will make you better because you read it, keep on a lookin' my friend.  But don't really because I'd love your company for a few minutes.

So here's my Friday so far:

Sunshine makes me want to be in a coffee shop.  Of course, most any kind of weather makes me want to be in a coffee shop - right?!  Starting when Liam was a few months old, we enjoyed taking him to coffee shops with us.  I mean, if you start them young it will stick, I'm thinking.  Liam is three and a half (actually 3.75 if we're being technical) and Shep is seven months.  Gotta get Shep in the groove.  Within an hour of being up and around this morning - I knew that the coffee shop was calling our names.  Ran the idea by Liam, got a hearty yes, and the plans started churning.

We put Shepherd down for his early nap and Liam and I went to work getting dressed and cleaning up the playroom.  Other than prepare meals and take care of little men, I clean.  I am constantly striving to become better at cleaning.  I can't keep at it all of the time but mercy, it makes us all feel better when things are mostly put away.  Liam is becoming a great picker upper!  So while I wrangled my third day hair into a ponytail, he picked up all of his cars in the play room.  The cars had made their way into every square foot of  the room so I was impressed with his thoroughness!

Speaking of third day hair.... I am genuinely concerned as to what will happen to my hair if we ever have a third child.  Since welcoming Shepherd, I now go longer than ever before between washes.  Very mixed feelings about this!  On the one hand, it's so liberating!  On the other hand, when I feel clean and put together, I just seem to have better days.  Hmmmmm.... I guess that's one deep pondering that squeezed its way in to today's musings!  Let's check back on this topic when Shep turns one and see if I'm washing more frequently or sticking to the same routine.

We got the play room whipped into shape, I got fully dressed (accomplishment!), Liam got dressed, we got Shepherd nursed (actually only I got Shep nursed) and into the car we went to, DoubleShot bound.  Liam likes to say we are going to 'vroom' somewhere.  So we vroomed to the coffee shop.  The Lord heard my prayer as we drove and, lo and behold, there was a couch open and waiting for us.  We decided to bring books with us today and a couch was what we needed to spread out and get comfortable.  I'm telling you, it was just one of those delightful experiences.  Some days with little people are challenging from the moment growing feet hit the floor, and other days brim with delight.  So we soak up the days of delight!

Shep worked Sophie the Giraffe over with fervor and Liam and I talked and ate and drank and read.

After Shepherd started tuning up and beckoning us to make a speedy exit, lest we make quite the scene, we piled back into the car.  Which is where Liam donned his glasses and became, what I like to call, Little White Boy Pitbull.  You see it, right?  

We got home and my house still needs attention.  But if cleaning was my top priority every single day, I would never have friends, spend time with the Lord, write, play with my boys, or continue falling in love with my husband.  So, instead of continuing my tidying endeavors at the moment....I'm chatting with you and thinking about throw pillows while Shepherd naps and Liam has room time.

A few things: One - why are throw pillows so expensive?  Two - why can't I like the cheaper ones?  Three - it is quite the design feat to mix/match patterns.  I don't like matchy matchy and I want to bring more variety in, but I feel like you can go way right or way wrong with the eclectic approach.

So here's the throw pillow that I have and am working around....we call these the talking chairs:

And these are pictures I took at Pottery Barn....I have decided that I just don't like other throw pillows and will figure out how to save my pennies to make these throw pillows reality.

We have a (large) dark brown leather couch that the pillows will go on.  So the bottom pic really should have been taken on dark brown background.  Ah well, I was 66% effective.

PLEASE pardon the blogger challenged picture alignment below.  I don't even know.

Seriously, the alignment drives me craaaaazy.

But here are my thoughts:  I love the blue pillows.  But, if I go blue it will be the first place in my house that I'm accentuating blue other than our master bedroom.  And that means I need to pull it in a little more elsewhere.  And that means spending more money.  In addition, I really love the chevron print in the bottom two pics but the print is a little cutesy and I want something that's a little more eclectic.  Which leads me to really liking the combo in the top picture.  It's still a chevron but it's not a cream background so it doesn't pop as much and the black looks kind of like zebra print.  And I like it even better in person than in the picture.  Follow me?  No?  Wondering why in the world you are spending your time reading these thoughts? Well I'm wondering why in the world I just spent time typing all of this, so you're in good company.  Thinking I'm on the totally wrong track?!.....please save me from total mental collapse and keep that opinion to yourself!  LOL.  The mommy brain can be a fragile place.....

Having said all of that, my friend I sincerely hope you've had a good week.  I hope that your weekend is full of grace, peace, joy and adventure.  I hope that you and me both press into the grace to choose for our weekends to be full of grace, peace, joy and adventure.

Happy weekending y'all!

Much love,