So This One Time, At Choir Practice…

It seems I’ve found myself in a hole that has taken me six months (I know, I gasped too) to find my way out of. I could blame our move (a whole five miles down the road) or my busy-bodied children, but it was mostly writer’s block and laziness. My fingers tickled the keyboard here and there, but nothing that followed really held my interest long enough to finish. Last month, though, I got to say something I’ve been waiting a whole year to repeat to someone! And now my keyboard and I would like to share it with you.

We were all dressed in our black or grey shirts, dark pants and non-reflective/no-noise-making shoes waiting to be called onto stage. Our voices warmed from scales and arpeggios rung out in the loading dock turned green room, we were shooting the breeze until we would walk out into a giant arena to go worship Jesus with a bunch of people we didn’t know. I was ready to go. I was also really hungry.

A new acquaintance-friend/massage therapist/nose ring rocker, “Ritz”, and I were talking about the legalization of marijuana (this is what choir practice looks like in Austin, TX) with another member of the crew, when my stomach reminded me that I would make a terrible Girl Scout because I had neither eaten lunch before or remembered to bring anything but a half a bottle of water to a four hour gig. Even more hungry. My stomach gave off an audible alert of its needs and Ritz, hippie Girl Scout that she was, pulled out her only organic granola bar, put it in my hand and went right back to talking about weed and the farming restrictions that would have to be imposed because of how invasive a plant it is. (You really do learn something new every day)

I didn’t want to steal the girl’s food, so I did the “Thanks, but you don’t have to do that/I can’t take that from you/insert polite refusal phrase here”. Her response was so very wonderful and beautiful and uncontrived. It was etched into my hangry little brain right then and there.

“Be a Christian and share with me”  <——-(this was the thing I got to say last month)

It was backwards. Kind of. Backwards in a world where sharing doesn’t come naturally. Backwards in a world where I want people to share with me, yet I guard my granola bars like a squirrel building a bomb bunker. She was reminding me that points don’t matter. She was reminding me to be a Christian. To share. To allow myself to be shared with–blessed–and to, thereby, be a blessing.

It wasn’t a thing. There was no big deal to be had. It was a flipping oatmeal stick in a room with Texas Longhorns orange carpet, but that should be my modus operandi! Ready to clean out my stash and give it all away at any moment. Not because I’m looking for status as a nice person or for anything in return, but just because it’s awesome. If you think that sounds dumb, go try it and get back to me. Let’s be nice to each other, shall we? Let’s share and allow ourselves to be shared with. It’s pretty nice.

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…And, in the event that squirrels do become weaponized, we’ll have some happy Girl Scouts on our side.

I Am Not a Blogger

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Here’s a little bit of everything to catch you up, people.

2014 has been pretty great so far. We’ve been able to have some fun as a family in the unpredictable Florida weather, we’ve eaten a ghastly amount of cookies. I’ve learned-slash-admitted a few more things about myself. It’s been like having tiny lightbulbs flicker on while I do laundry or take a shower or talk to someone (I’m an external processor all.the.way.). It’s been a month of mini-epiphanies. Nothing huge or world-rocking, more just “hmmm, ya, I think that’s true/good/ok”.

Some of my gleanings:

-I am horrible at waking up.

-I am a professional guilt-carrier.

-The shared freedom in both of the above reminders is the realization that sleep is SUPER important to me (this is one of those “duh” kind of ideas, but my stubborn brain has tried to convince me that I can still run on four hours of sleep–a la college days–and happily take care of a family the next morning) aaaand that guilt sucks. It’s just stupid. And I tend to feel it most about things that truly don’t matter, like whether or not I woke up early in January. Fugget about it.

-Cookies made with oatmeal and applesauce–never mind what else is in them–are completely acceptable for breakfast. And your children will love you.

-People are walking miracles. Cue the sappy music, but c’mon! Good grief. Tons of miracles walking around. Seeing this truth is slowly growing a longer pause in my unthinking and graceless words.

-I complain. Even if it isn’t always out loud. It’s grody. The seeing miracles and living in and living out grace thing, though, gives me far fewer reasons to whine.

-I’ve been reading more and writing a little less. Not on purpose, it’s just worked out that way.

-I really love reading and I really love writing.

-This podcast, listened to in three parts–while cooking dinner, cleaning up, and after kids were tucked in for the night–was so well timed that I goofy-grinned while shredding cheese that evening. I’m not a blogger. I love reading blogs and I love writing them, but I’m not a blogger. I am a writer. Even saying those words, thinking them, typing them out, makes me feel arrogant (or like I’m setting myself up for embarrassment), but I think it’s true. No matter what weird phases I’ve gone through, those two things, reading and writing, have been my constants.

-Blogs with tips, projects, and daily posts are amazing. I love visiting them and have learned some wonderful things from them, but I can’t do it. I’m far too flighty and forgetful to write something worth reading every day. Aaaand exhale…I did it. I admitted that I am not “good” at blogging. I don’t have a writing schedule or tons of helpful advice. And, when I have time to write in the evenings, all I really want to do is read, sleep, talk or watch The West Wing (we’re on Season 3 in case you’re wondering–pleated pants and shoulder pads for days).

-I don’t know what this blog will become or if it will fizzle out entirely. I never say never anymore. For now, I’ll keep reading, talking, and writing. I don’t know what about, but if I think it’s worth sharing, you’ll hear about it. Promise. Just as soon as I finish ooone more episode of West Wing.

Oh, and the “goal” for February is to be extra aware of and picky about what’s going on our calendar. Making space for that Philippians 4:8 stuff.

Captain’s Log: January–Sleep

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My name means “guardian of the sea”, so a Captain’s Log entry seems appropriate. This is what I imagine I might look like if I were ever to trade life on the land for ocean…and a few other things for a few other things.

Sleep. It’s been about 50/50 so far. I blame the “Polar Vortex” and my wimpy Floridian blood for making anything but my bed and three blankets look like a meat freezer in the morning. Even so, I’ve been enjoying the mornings I have made it up before the wee ones and completely letting myself off the hook otherwise. Baby steps, folks.

Here’s to the rest of the month! May it hold a more impressive ratio by the end!

 

2014 A.D.

Happy January 4th, folks! We’re freezing our tails off here (by Florida standards, my numb nose should fall off any second now)

It’s a new year and I have these ideas. I also have, which has been over the last few years: adamantly denied, very reluctantly nodded to, and now finally embraced with relieved arms, a very small plate. I used to think I was the queen of multi-tasking, but it was a dirty lie. If I have more than two (literal) pots cooking on my (literal) stove, I will (literally) burn/scald/render inedible their contents.

This, 2014 A.D., will be the year of embracing my teacup saucer of a plate, of listening to my husband’s advice and reading one book at a time (but there are SO MANY good ones!!!), of experimenting and sitting in one thing per one time. Plans like this are bound for hilarious failure in so many ways, but dang it I’m going for it.

For January, I’m trying to wake up before my kids more days than not. Today, I slept in until 9:59 AM because it felt good and my husband loves me. We’ll take tomorrow when tomorrow comes. From mornings past, though, things seem to go a little more smoothly when I have at least five minutes to wash the gunk out of my eyes, thank God for something and jot down those random thoughts I have in the first moments of the day.

I have ideas for each month. Some will be things to try, to finish, to remember. It’ll be fun :) I might keep some of them. I might incinerate some of them. Here goes.

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7in7: Day Two (on Day Five)

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I know this is the 7 in 7 challenge, but I’m 2 out of  7 ain’t bad…for this mother of two. Better luck next year :)

So I was reading that there Ecclesiastes a few weeks ago and it couldn’t have been more timely. I had (have) been feeling so blah about the day-to-day of laundry/dishes/insert sitcom housewife problems here/dreams feeling far away/worrying about braces for our kids in 10 years/praying that I don’t turn into a nagging wife/wondering if I’m crazy/blah/blah/blah. Blah. Alot of days have felt like I’m brushing my teeth while eating (botched homemade whole wheat) Oreos. It’s not like I was thinking of throwing in the towel, but all the motions and emotions were starting to seem a little pointless.

I’m going to wash these dishes, so that we can eat on them, so that they can get dirty again, so that we can do it all over in three hours. Perfect. I’m going to make a list of goals and work really hard, so that I can try to accomplish them and then die. Fantastic. Ya great, let’s do a bunch of meaningless stuff until we all turn to dust and then our kids can repeat it all until they turn to dust. **My inner cynic was eating. this. up.**

Back to Ecclesiastes. The Bible. I was bleary eyed at 5:30 in the morning, hoping to find some little feel-good boost to get me through my pointless Groundhog Day (classic Bill Murray…google it). There it was. I ended up reading the whole thing. I actually had to re-read parts of it because it was like reading my own thoughts (which keep in mind were pretty negative right about then).

I’ve been toiling. We all are.

Anything we do here is ultimately toil. And, if we’re doing those things “unto” ourselves or others (we, who cannot fill souls), they quickly become pointless exercises, producing discontentment, bitterness, anger, jealousy and frustrated disappointment. It’s “feeding on the wind” (this phrase is all over Ecclesiastes), something we can’t catch and that could never satisfy.
This isn’t news. I mean, how long have humans existed? But oh my word, how quickly do I forget this?! We’ll go with a generous figure of hourly. We are here for this time. Not just from this date to that date, but for this time. It’s a calendar versus a purpose! Of course history will repeat itself and the brokenness of the world will seem staggering. Dishes will need to be washed again and again. Kids will need to be taught the same thing over and over. We will disappoint ourselves and the people around us too many times to count. But that is not the end.
There is a purpose in this time we have. A chance to feel deeply. Opportunities to dwell and be. Moments to experience the entire range of human emotion and to see our Maker in it all. I pray to speak wisely about the time I’m given to dwell in, not romanticizing the past or the future, hoping for it or wishing to return to it. What a waste.
This is my toil. My very own.
This is the time. Here is the place. These are the people. These are the dreams, the passions, the problems and possibilities uniquely bent around this chunk of days. What will they hold? What will I do? Only God knows. It was purposed from the beginning.
Yes, life sometimes feels like a broken record, but it isn’t. “There is a time for everything [every purpose]” (Ecclesiastes 3: 2-8). I can, at times, feel like a carbon copy of every woman before me, doing tasks that seems entirely uninspiring, but it will accomplish something entirely unique…and it’s supposed to. It will spark something in me or another (for better or for worse).
It puts the wonder and sacred weight back into whatever our toil is. Yes, we’ll all end up buried in dirt or have our ashes scattered (or gathered if you want to sit on somebody’s mantle), but for now, we’re all here. Right now. For now. God is here and wants to speak and reveal and teach and heal. Make room for “the times for everything” in our toil. Feel the gravity and the pleasure of purpose. It’s all ours!

7in7: Day One

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Today is the first day of the 7in7 challenge. The goal is to stretch participants’ creativity through word, song, film, photography or design. Last year I joined the songwriters; this year I’m with the bloggers. Collaboration is encouraged, so no excuses…join us!

7 new and complete pieces in 7 days. Get ready for my semi-complete thoughts, some of which have been scribbled on napkins, paper scraps and the sides of my brain for months. Here goes! 

This idea was a doozy for me. That’s probably because I’m an extrovert who, as a child, cried overwhelmed sad tears when I realized that there was no possible way for me to meet everyone on the planet. I’m a people person. If you are breathing, I want to know you. If you can blink, we can have a full conversation. I’ll make you cookies.

Do I sound crazy yet? Ya, about that…

You see, with this people-loving personality comes a gigantic dose of spreading myself too thin, overcommitting and, eventually, burning out. It’s happened a million and one times. I used to thrive on the energy of jumping from place to place, shaking hands and kissing babies, hearing everyones‘ stories over leisurely coffee dates. Then I went and had me some babies. Two precious little lights of human beings…with short adorable legs, who need naps, who are learning to use the potty (whose mamma forgets to pack extra clothes), who remind me that the “energy” of life as I once knew it is kind of a myth.

There is an indescribable feeling that wells up inside of us when we experience moments of connection to the people around us. That sounds a little trippy, but do you know what I mean? I feel it when I’m with my family, when I see my husband across a room, when I look at our girls discovering something new. Why, I’ve been known to cry sitting in traffic, thinking about all of the unique unknowable stories being lived out around me. It all has a certain “rush” to it.

Since having our first daughter, four years ago, I’ve been slowly learning to distinguish that “energy” I talked about from the “rush”. They are completely different. I get, what my husband calls, a “people high” from going to a big party, but there is something so much greater that I’ve found in a shared passion with a handful of folks; in knowing someone well enough to see when they don’t have the words to describe their pain; in taking the time to be God’s hands and feet for those I love and those I may never see again. Energy is a hormone. The Rush is a rhythm that plants itself deep in our hearts.

If this seems like my attempt to bow out of the Extroverts United club, just get that thought out of your crazy head right now. I don’t think I could turn off my people switch if my survival depended on it. Consider this more of an open letter to myself and anyone else who’s found the Energy of life to be exciting, but a little lacking.

We don’t all have to be best friends. Even if we’re in the same mom’s group, or the same church, or find our hipster duds at the same thrift store, or all dream of backyard chickens. I don’t have to feel overwhelmed at the thought of never meeting you! This isn’t an excuse for me to stay at home in my pajamas all day, waiting for just the right people to come knock on my door. That would just be weird. This is rhythm by which I can follow my Hope through this life, slowing down, stopping, and then speeding back up again when, where and with the ones He leads me near. It’s not a chase, it’s a funny-kind-of-lovely walk.

We can each know this Rush that seems to make time stop for a moment. That displays how very not-alone we are and makes us long for something outside of ourselves. Something that feeds our souls. Let’s walk together. Our paths might cross. They might not. We’ll all look a little funny, but it will be lovely.

P.S. If you’re an introvert reading this right now and finding yourself feeling a little scared, don’t worry. I won’t bite. One of your kind even married me. This can work.