7in7: Day Two (on Day Five)

7in7

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

7in7

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.

Advent and Abby the Elf

Ho! Ho! Ho-my-gosh, it’s December. Really and truly, it’s here! As promised, here is a little peak into our Advent/Christmas/Holiday celebration this year. First on the list is our little friend, “Abby”, who’s come to visit us this month! The idea came from here and Abby came from Target for three buckeroos.

Of course if the girls ask whether or not Abby is real, we’ll tell them the truth, but so far they just think she’s a super fun, very kind, full of joy nocturnal elf. Walk with me, friends, as I tell you the ever-developing story of Abby: the Joyful Elf.
Fresh from the store, she was outfitted for a sport that we here in Florida can only dream of.
Abby before
A little tugging of her skis and a few snips with the fingernail clippers and she was ready to meet the girls!
Abby after
She greeted her expectant hosts with a note explaining her name, which means “the Father’s joy”. She went on to say that God wants each of us to experience His joy and that we know it the best when we spend time with Him and when we serve the other precious people He has made! Abby is “a joyful servant (or a happy helper)” and is “excited to help others to know and share God’s love”. She’ll be helping the girls around the house and the neighborhood and discovering new ways to learn about God’s heart for ourselves and others!
Abby arrival
We love her already.
So far, she’s helped us set up our advent wreath, invited the girls to play with play-doh, taken a fun ride on one of the Christmas rocking horses, and, this morning, played hide-n-seek in the garland at the top of the chalkboard! The girls are having fun looking for what Abby has done in the night and, c’mon, who doesn’t like a little make believe?
Abby playdoh
Abby horse
Abby hiding
Next time, I’ll show you our very simple, very cheap (some are even free!) decorations…enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, peeps and keep an ear out for small wonder-hacked Target ornaments in your kitchen!
P.S. Ignore the mountain scene (well, you can look at it all you want, actually. It’s kind of nice. Imagine you’re floating on the gentle waves. It will be replaced soon, so live it up while you can!)

What’s New This Week 12.2.13

Hi, friends! Well, how was your Thanksgiving? I hope it was something you were able to find the good and the thankfulness in. This year, ours was made up of a hodgepodge of sweet folks.

Some we met for the first time as they walked through the door, but once we dug into our Breakfast for Dinner Feast and laughed about our shared disdain for cats, we bonded. Eight hours, a couple of holiday movies, and one rousing game of Settlers of Catan later, the house emptied and we prepared ourselves for a whole lotta nothing to come the next day. Bliss.
Now it’s December and, with the new calendar posted, I’m grabbing my inner extroverted planner by the shoulders, looking deep into her eyes and reminding her to “Calm down, woman!”. I love love love love parties, people, presents, platters…? (I was on a roll), but I have to pull myself back down to earth sometimes–meaning basically every day–and be here.  
Fun is really only fun if you can share it, so we’re trying to leave plenty of white space on that calendar to share with our someones and the someones who don’t have any. It’s a hard thing for me to do, but I’ll just be sure to give my inner extrovert a daily dose of very strong eggnog. That oughta calm her down a bit.
Yesterday we kicked off Advent in our house. Here’s a little peak!
Listening
 

Reading

Learning

  • This week in the “School at Home” as Teagan calls it, we’re learning “All About Me”. We’ll talk about how they were “knit together”, what makes them each unique, study their fingerprints and talk about what they notice and appreciate about the people around them!

Cooking

  • This is month I’ll DEFINITELY be doing a repeat of November’s Monthly Meal Plan. I loved how well (albeit imperfectly) it worked last month!!! I’m a believer! 

Creating

 
  •  Decking the halls, reminding myself to slow down and love people, and trying not to burn the house down.

Enjoying

  • Watching the girls wake up to find “Abby”, our special friend who’s visiting this month (more on her later)!

What’s New This Week 11.27.13

Hi, friends!
Tomorrow is the day! The whole month has been leading up to this. Thanksgiving. Let’s make it a day about giving thanks (duh!)…but really. Let’s not beat ourselves (or anyone else) up for not posting what we’re thankful for any of the 27 days before. Don’t fret over how ungrateful we’ll once again realize we are.
I was recently reminded by a friend (who shall remain unnamed for now, but who needs to start her own one of these blog things…her name starts with a B. ok that’s all I’m saying) that life is a vapor. So much of what we think is important or urgent or will improve our lives somehow just isn’t. Is it wrong to list what you’re thankful for? Heck no! Keep it up! Is it wrong to be a scrooge? Uh, yes. But let’s not forget that we each need a daily head-to-toe bath in grace.
Let’s just make it a far more regular tradition to gather together, to open our homes to those who have none, to cherish the ones we’ve been fit into this vapor with, to pray with humble and genuine hearts that God’s Hope, Love, Peace and Joy would change our perceptions of priority. Let’s live out thankfulness.
That’s my spiel. I love you all.
Now here’s what’s been happening in our house for the last couple of weeks:
Listening
  • The Rend Collective Experiment
  • “Cold Weather Music”. Mind you, this is NOT holiday music…just as close as I can get without anyone singing the word “Christmas”

Reading

Learning

Cooking

Our 2nd Annual Breakfast for Dinner Thanksgiving Feast! I say annual, but who knows if we’ll do it again. We tried it out with some equally exhausted fellow parents of a newborn a couple of years ago and loved it! Who doesn’t love bacon?!

Creating

  • Our super simple (and cheap!) advent calendar
  • An advent wreath (Also cheap…it’s kind of our thing)

Doing

  •  Looking for just the right little elf to encourage kindness and wonder in our home a la The Imagination Tree.

Enjoying

  • The feel of the rain on my head and in my shoes last night.
  • Money for good food.
  • People to share life with.

index

Quote of the Week 11.15.13

This QOTW is a two-fer from my favorite two-year-old, Kylie. (Unintentionally) sage wisdom from a girl who just reached the 23 pound mark!

“It’s time for right now!” -Kylie (8:00 AM Tuesday, November 12th)

“Let’s be us!” -Kylie (8:12 AM Tuesday, November 12th)

All of us big folks were like, “Yeaaaah. Woah, Kylie. That’s deep”. And she was like, “I’m naked!”

Keep your ears open, friends. You never know what dope knowledge these little people will drop while they go streaking through your bedroom!

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 8.01.59 AM

Thankful

This week has been better 🙂 More good days than bad (see last week’s post). This week I am so thankful for:

-Walks to the library
-Watching excited little eyes search the side of the road for dandelion flowers and leaves to eat (“We can eat them…now?!”)
-A loving husband who doesn’t ever call me out on my over-dramatized sicknesses
-Cold-Eeze and peppermint tea
-White sheets and cozy blankets

What’s good for you this week? (I ask because I’m really interested! Seriously. I will talk to anyone.)