minigoals: june: slacker edition

…in which I remember (again) some limits inherent to this season.

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So this year is an experiment in adding little habits each month to see what I stumble upon that is life-giving and useful.

Last month, I picked rambling pages as my thing to do. Here’s what I learned:

It’s still useful.

Five minutes was doable (I did it 4 to 5 days per week on average) but most days, if I wasn’t super pressed, I would do 10 or 15, because there is WAY more than five minutes’ worth of crazy.

The inside of my head is sometimes a dismal place. Frequently, the rambles would turn into me dumping insecurities and frustrations out on the page. This was a little depressing, but also allowed me a chance to see and examine some of the negative things I think regularly and examine them in light of Truth… and realize that nobody thinks about me as much as I seem to believe they do.

The less sense they make at the beginning, the more likely I am to learn something at the end. I have no idea why this is true. But if they start out saying, “Let’s see… what happened today… I don’t really know. The kids were normal. I need to start making some meals for the freezer soon, I wonder what I have planned tomorrow…” there might be some sort of epiphany at the end, if I push through the random.

That was all great… until about a week ago, when I stopped being able to adult.

Suddenly, real life is just a lot.

Maybe it’s not sudden. Maybe I just fought it for a while.

Whatever happened, when I think about a minigoal for July, the only phrase that comes to mind is…

“CANNOT. EVEN.”

Because the last month of pregnancy is not a joke. I know this, of course. But knowing it and experiencing it yet again are different, and here we are. There are a great many things that I’m obligated to do throughout my day that, ordinarily, are not a big deal, but currently rate somewhere on the spectrum that goes from annoying to unpleasant to unbelievably painful. Things including (but in no way limited to): breathing, lying down, getting up, trying to be asleep, trying to be awake, and eating.

It sounds like whining. (Sorry.)  I am unbelievably grateful I get to do all of these things, and overwhelmingly grateful that the reason they’re hard is a living child in my body who will be coming out shortly.

And also, that gratitude doesn’t change the physical (and hormonal) difficulty level.

So I’m opting out for the month.

Well, not actually.

My goal for July is to give myself a little bit of grace.

Or, you know, a lot.

I’m not supermom. Not superwife. Not super anything, except super rotund.

My goal is to be kind to myself like I’d be kind to a friend.

To remember that I’m keeping a lot of little people alive, and sometimes that is enough.

To get by in survival mode without getting grouchy with myself about the things I’m letting go.

To find things that are life-giving right now and do them. (This is why I write, take pictures, sing, and read for fun. It’s why I play with my kids and why I don’t bake with them.)

To slow down and be okay with not being productive.

To let the girls have screen time so I can doze (or just not be a grown-up) for a while without fretting over long-term damage and what a crappy mom I’m being.

July is about taking things off my daily list.

Here’s my daily list, updated for the month. (Probably at least through August, if we’re being realistic.)

  • Get out of bed.
  • Read the Bible and write down a thing or two that I’m thankful for.
  • Get a load of laundry through
  • Wash dishes
  • Make sure all living things in my house eat something.

(This is down from about 20 items. Some of the other 15 will get done some  the days, but only these are on the “really try and do it every day” list.)

This month, I’m connecting with my people. More importantly, I’m going to try to keep my heart and body in a place where connecting is an option. I’m doing the things I must, and I’m letting the rest slide. Without guilt.


I’d love to hear what you think. What are your survival mode tricks? And the big question: how do you let the rest go without making yourself crazy?

a love story for your Sunday

…a story that concluded (but mostly began) beautifully twelve years ago today.

Once upon a time, there was an 8-year-old girl living in Southern California.

For reasons nobody remembers anymore, she was talking to God about the far-distant future.

Dear God, I would really like to be a wife and mom someday. But I don’t want to do the whole date-and-break-up thing. That sounds hard, and I think I’d give up pieces of my heart that I would rather keep whole to people who don’t deserve it.

I don’t know if this is an option, but I’d really like to just, like, be best friends with a guy. And then get married to him. I have no idea if that happens, or how it could. But that’s how I’d really like it to go. If that’s what you want. Amen.

(I know. She was kind of a nerdy kid. But that really is the conversation, as best she remembers.)


Shortly after the above conversation with Jesus, her family moved from California to Alaska.

Now she’s about 13.

As the oldest of five, she needs to find creative and free ways to spend time out of her house, away from her family. (Because THIRTEEN.) 

Score! There’s a program at a local Christian summer camp where teens can come and wash dishes for a week at a time. For free.

A funny thing about camps…

Camp crushes.

The next year, there’s a boy. He’s fairly good-looking. Lots of girls think so. She thinks so, too. But also, she’s hopelessly awkward basically runs away from him at every opportunity and he has no memory of her at this point.

A couple of summers pass like this. She’s now 15.

She sees him and is awkward. As time progresses, they both spend a little more time at camp in the summers and eventually start talking. She attends a church that began as a plant from the church he goes to. Occasionally, the youth groups do joint activities or she’ll just go join his group, because it’s bigger and they do more.

They talk on ICQ. (Kids, ICQ is kind of like facebook messages without the facebook. Say it out loud. I-C-Q. I Seek You. Very clever. All on computers, of course. Smart phones weren’t a thing, and nobody even had cell phones. If you were REALLY cool or, you know, a drug dealer, you might have a pager. This girl was neither cool nor a drug dealer, so she was stuck messaging on the computer. Late at night when nobody would be getting any calls, because the internet was actually the phone line. It was very cutting-edge in the mid-to-late-90s.) They share a little more deeply. She especially prefers this, because she writes far better and more comfortably than she speaks in person. And high school is hard.


Spring of Junior year.

She is in JROTC and in charge of planning a military ball. Because she has an official position at the dining-in, she needs a date. She has never had a boyfriend. She hasn’t had any offers. (Remember, awkward.) But she does know a guy that she’s become reasonably good friends with…

Awkwardness and hilarity ensue.

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And again the next year.

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Also around Senior year, without talking about it, they both decide to go to the same tiny one-year Bible school in Oregon for a year. Weird, right? They’ve also become friends with each other’s immediate and extended families.


They go away to Ecola Bible School after graduation. It’s October ’00.

They naturally hang out a lot. People ask with some frequency if they’re siblings or just good friends. Their stock answer is “yes.” Occasionally, someone will ask if they’re dating. This is awkward because he is actually dating someone else from school. So that would be a definite no. She still has a latent crush on him, but realizes this is never going to happen and ignores it.


Fall of ’01, back in Alaska.

He is single again. They are taking classes together. And they both work with the youth group at the church he grew up in and they lead worship together and his car died back in Oregon, so riding around together just makes sense.

Over the next years, it becoms increasingly (sometimes painfully) obvious that they’re going to end up together. They continue as friends, though… With all the stuff going on in this season, who has time for dates? They’re too busy hanging out and doing life.


December 22, 2003.

He says “I love you”for the first time. (So does she.) This is followed immediately by “Will you marry me?” (she says yes, after a solid minute of All The Thoughts, mostly trying to find a more articulate way to say “yes” since “heck yes” seems inappropriate at this moment) and a first kiss.

Later, they figure out this date is actually one year exactly since she caught the bouquet at his best friend’s wedding. And he caught the garter.


They endured the longest six months ever as they planned and waited for their wedding.

But then it finally happened.

And they lived happily ever after.


The beginning.

The years since that beginning have been amazing. It’s not perfect… One sinner married another sinner and that presents issues on a regular basis. Even after all this time. But it’s good. He is God’s good gift to me.

This is my favorite love story, partly because it’s ours.

But it isn’t only about a love story between him and I.

It’s also a story of a little girl (not so much older than my firstborn girl) who asked God for something ridiculous that she couldn’t possibly understand then. And, for reasons I can’t quite fathom,

He said yes.

He hasn’t, by any means, said yes to every ridiculous thing I’ve ever requested. For instance, I somehow never made the US Olympic gymnastic team. (Shocking.)

I have a friend who talks about these as “bread crumbs” of God’s faithfulness. (She’s on her own divinely romantic adventure now!)  This trail, the abridged version I wrote here and all the pieces I couldn’t include because it’s already far too long, is full of those.

And I know the God who was faithful to answer the prayers of an honest little girl will be faithful to continue the work he started in both of our hearts decades ago.

the world goes not well, but the Kingdom comes

This post is directed toward my Jesus-loving friends. If that is not you, I’d invite you to read anyway, but there is much that won’t apply and some that may not make sense. If that’s the case, but you’re still interested, there’s a link at the bottom to some more thoughts on this Jesus guy.

Bethel friends- this is essentially a few thoughts I had in response to Eric’s recent sermon from Daniel 2. If you were there, feel free to carry on about your day. He handled it better than I could, certainly. If you weren’t there and have 35 minutes, by all means, listen to this instead of reading what I have to say. I mean, he used the BIBLE and spent a whole week preparing, rather than listening twice for 35 minutes and thinking a few thoughts. It’s worth your time.

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, right?

I get it. Scary things are happening around the country and the world. Marriage is different than it was. Bathrooms are different than they were. Shootings. Gun control. Election 2016. Everything.

Do I like coming up with good, biblical, loving, and honest answers to questions about marriage, culture, and gender expression for my small people? Not especially.

Does the current field of presidential candidates make me want to hide out of embarrassment to be American? To be human??? Um.. kinda.

But can I bring us back to some capital “t” Truth?

God is still God.

America was never the hope for the world. (Jesus filled that position a long time ago.)

What is going on now is not The Worst Anything Has Ever Been, Ever.

We know the end of the story.

The sky is not falling.

In case you didn’t read the quote in the image above (and even if you did), let me repeat:

God’s sovereignty means that if there’s anybody in this wide world of sinful men that should be restful and peaceful in an hour like this, it should be Christians. We should not be under the burden of apprehension and worry because we are the children of a God who is always free to do as He pleases. There is not one rope or chain or hindrance upon him, because he is absolutely sovereign.

-AW Tozer

Can we please stop playing Chicken Little?

Please? 

When we are FREAKING THE HECK OUT about all the things that are or seem to be going awry in the country and the world, we’re demonstrating a lack of faith in either the sovereignty or the goodness of God.

That says something to the world watching us.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t engage.

But can we please engage from a place that demonstrates trust?

Can we show love and grace for the people around us? Even the ones that disagree?

Can we be be grieved for the damage that sin is doing to those around us (and first, be grieved at the ways our own rebellion damages us and our neighbors) instead of only being angry about it?

So engage.

Learn what you can about the issues and the candidates. (Preaching to myself here, since researching issues isn’t exactly the top of my list of things to do with my free time and energy during this season.) Filter things a best you can through the Word.

Vote. Pray about it. Vote (or possibly abstain) as your conscience requires.

Share pieces of information you find helpful. Pay attention to your sources, though. 

Talk to people who don’t agree. But do it kindly.

All of the things I’m saying here have been covered before, much better (and certainly with more authority.)

For instance, the Apostle Paul in Colossians 4:5-6 (NIV):

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Or, because the “seasoned with salt” part isn’t as clear today as when it was written, NLT:

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Did you catch the word “opportunity”?

The places that you and I live at this point in time are full of this kind of opportunity. Can we make the most of it, rather than drawing our lines and throwing our grenades?

People want to talk about this.

I hope, when given the chance, to do it in a way that demonstrates faith in a good, loving, and sovereign God.

I’m reading some beautiful stories to the kiddos these days from  the Tales of the Kingdom trilogy. They’re allegorical and engaging. (I highly recommend them for any age, though they’re a little hard to find for a normal kid-book price.) Anyway, in Great Park, where the King rules, the Rangers (the King’s men and women who help protect Great Park) shout this to each other as they keep watch from their towers:

How goes the world?

The world goes not well, but the Kingdom comes!

The world goes not well, but the Kingdom comes.


Lord Jesus, please help us to engage the people around us with grace and truth. Give us the ability to trust in your ultimate sovereignty, however the world around us looks at the moment. Please give us wisdom as we find opportunities to talk to people who need you. Thank you for being a good God, who knows the end from the beginning and everything in between. Help us to trust in that goodness and sovereignty and demonstrate that trust to people around us. 


If you’re still with me and this doesn’t make a lot of sense to you because Jesus is just a guy that a lot of angry people seem to follow, and this doesn’t really seem to fit… can I recommend this post where I go into a little more detail about who Jesus is and why I think He’s worth following?

after the last tear falls

I’ve officially reached the point (it happens every pregnancy) where I cry randomly at songs. (When I was pregnant with #2, I inexplicably broke down crying every time I heard “Country Girl Shake It For Me.” Please don’t google the lyrics if you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s ridiculously silly and it’ll negatively impact your opinion of me.) I’m not actually much of a crier, so it’s always a little startling (especially for the kids) when I start blubbering in the car for no apparent reason.

Most recently, it’s been “After the Last Tear Falls” by Andrew Peterson. Here it is… I’ll wait.

Or here’s a slightly abridged piece of it, if you’re in a hurry.

‘Cause after the last plan fails, after the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last “this marriage is over”
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open

There is love…And in the end… is oceans and oceans of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last tear falls there is love

[Aside for those who worry about this sounding like Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” theology… His lyrics are frequently pretty unmistakably orthodox. Like here and here, for a small start.]

One of the things I love so much about Peterson’s writing is how well he handles the dissonance we live with as humans.

I love the idea (the unmistakably true one) that all the Sad Things are discreet events. Sirens, abuses, deaths… they’re all countable things.

And they’re not infinite. They are many. More than anyone can track, with the exception of the God who knows the number of hairs on each head. But not infinite. There will be an end. And not just any end. A good one. As my favorite children’s Bible puts it, God  will make all the sad things, even death, come untrue.

And the tears? The ones that Psalm 56:8 says are recorded? They’ll just be stories. Stories of battles fought and things survived and, ultimately, the faithfulness of a God who loves us.

 

minigoals and unresolutions: may

One of the things I’m doing this year is making small, easily accomplished goals to see if any of them make life smoother, better, happier. Here’s May’s progress and June’s goal.

In April, I committed to taking my big camera out every day for the month of May.

(Or, because these are specifically NOT resolutions, I committed to seeing how many days of May I could take pictures on the Rebel.)

My success rate was a little over 50%… I missed 12 days, made 19. But I’m actually fine with that. Do you know how many days I’d have taken “real” pictures otherwise? Two for sure (Katherine’s birthday and UAF’s Aviation day, which has been good for fun pictures for the last several years.) Otherwise? I don’t know. Maybe one or two other times. It was a busy month, and without the external push to bring it out, I’d have missed a whole lot of really precious images.

Here are the some I’m pretty sure I’d have taken anyway:

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Not bad. But all the ones in that top image would’ve been missed. All of them.

And these pictures are a few of my very favorite from the month, and they all happened on days (or at times) I’m nearly positive I would have left my camera in its bag:

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Bummer, right? Glad I had incentive to shoot.

I think I’ll keep this as a bubble to check off. If I don’t check it off every day? No biggie. But I’ll capture a lot more of my (generally, pretty sweet) life if I at least keep it as goal.


So for June.

After some thought and some prayer, I think the thing that I need to do this month is write some rambling pages. Some people call them “morning pages,” though I’m not about to try to box this into a morning only thing.

Not familiar?

Basically, it’s opening the box of crazy and letting it run wild. It doesn’t have to make sense. The idea is that I can trash it whenever I want to. Currently I have a 17¢ wide-rule notebook from several back-to-school seasons ago that is filled with things that hope nobody finds. Not that it’s incriminating, it’s just crazy. Up until now, I’ve only opened that thing up when my brain is stuck in a vortex and the only way to get out is to just SPIT IT ALL OUT.

But right now, there is very little in my head that makes sense. Some combo of hormones, heightened sensitivity, and sleep deprivation has me unable to make decisions, coherent sentences, or correct turns. (I’m not even kidding. I’ve gotten lost five times in the last three days driving around this town I’ve lived in since I was NINE.) So I’m kind of hoping that dumping all the random that’s in there at some on point most days will help me focus a little.

If not, I can at least throw it away.

So the goal: write for a solid five minutes a day.

I can’t stop writing (or typing, as the case may be) for five whole minutes. I don’t have to save it. I don’t have to write in full sentences. I can’t backspace or cross out. Just keep going.

it’s your day, Baby K!

Hey, Katherine!

Today is the day we celebrate four years with you! Okay, I lie. You think that your day was yesterday. I didn’t lie to you, exactly… but I may have told you “Woohoo! Today’s the day we’re celebrating the day you were born!” Which was true. Because Daddy’s out tonight, so we did our celebrating early, so he wouldn’t have to miss it.

Anyways. 

I kind of like having a day to celebrate you privately. To reflect on your teeny self when you were born and all the ways you’ve grown. You’re such a blessing to me. You delight me and challenge me and baffle me. This makes so much sense to me, because you’re very, very like your dad, and he delights, challenges, and baffles me all the time. He has for years.

You have the mind of a tiny engineer and the heart of a sprite. You must know how things work. You’re fascinated by everything and not afraid of anything. You have an irresistible drive to deconstruct. But also you have an irrepressible sparkly smile and a crazy sense of humor and a contagious giggle. You are  so spunky and goofy. Hilarious. And you’re always moving. I can’t believe how many pictures I’ve gotten of you this month, but when I look through them, I guess I can. Most of them are when you’ve been settled. Doing something, watching something, eating something… in the picture above, you were… on the toilet. (Sorry.) (But look how cute you are!) It’s not easy to catch you still enough to get a good picture. (Even that one isn’t a good picture, as pictures go. But it’s still one of my favorites.)

I was blessed lately by a review from your teachers at forest school. It was so much fun to hear how other adults see you. It made me laugh out loud to read “Katherine never (ever, ever) takes the easy path.” You have GRIT, little girl. You’re mighty. I’m so excited to see the places God takes you. It’s not easy to know how to guide you with this amount of grit, honestly, but your dad and I pray for wisdom to do just that all. the. time.

There’s so much I love about who you are right now. I love your grin and that dimple that shows up on your right cheek from time to time. I love your independence and your inquisitiveness. I love your Katherinese. I think your speech issues are my fault (because moms) because I didn’t heed advice about sippy cups and you can’t quite get your tongue out from between your teeth when you talk. I really think you’ll figure out how to say all the sounds eventually, but dang, it’s cute. So I’ll keep working with you a little at a time, but I sure enjoy it for now. I love your enthusiasm about… everything. When you speak right now, about a third of your words are definitely in ALL CAPS. Also, as much trouble as it causes, I love your undying devotion to Wil Fedadoh… the tiny puppy you took from Brian before he was born but now cannot live without. You love her so much you daily hide her from “monstoes” for her protection… and then can’t remember where to find her.

I sure love you, baby girl. You’re not so much of a baby anymore. You’re growing up just right, and I’m excited to see you keep becoming more you this year. I love that I get to be your mama.

 

And then there’s how much your brother loves you…

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..and the way Jenna sees you. She took these-

You are loved, darling girl. Happy birthday.

 

 

to the girl in the dress

Do you see that girl in the dress?

What do you see? Just your typical early 2000s bride, really. This is pre-Pinterest (thank goodness.) Right here is a 22-year-old girl who is incredibly happy to have just married the man of her dreams.

Do you know what I see? All of that, of course. But I also know she’s wearing a dress that her mama made from scratch (as in no pattern, just a picture of a dress from David’s Bridal.) I know she was minutes away from throwing that bouquet (far too hard, actually) and running away with her husband of roughly 90 minutes. I know that, at that point, she didn’t care a whole lot about the wedding that had just taken place. It was a means to an end, really. She just wanted to start married life. I know she waited through years of friendship and uncertainty for this. I know that her hopes are simultaneously unrealistically high and nowhere near high enough to match the reality that’s coming.

Do you know what else I see?

I see a girl who thinks she’s fat.

At 5′ 10″ and 180 lbs, she has spent every single one of the last 22 years at war with that body. (In case you’re distracted by that fact, as I would be, let me explain. Early 80s had some bad medical advice to give about infant nutrition. So, yes, she had literally been fighting her weight every year of her life at that point.) She is, at this moment, one point away from the “normal” range of the BMI chart. Please don’t get me started on the BMI chart. (Speaking of bad medical advice…) But just the same, this is the closest she has ever been or likely will ever be to “not overweight.”

Not that it mattered. She tried so hard to drop weight. She lost about five of the 25 pounds she’d hoped to. And, as with every other time, it wasn’t for lack of effort or self-control. At this moment, she’s not thinking about it (probably), but there have been a hundred points today that she wished she’d been more successful than she was. A hundred points she inwardly called herself a failure.

I wish she could see what I see now… a lovely girl starting off on her greatest adventure.

I wish I could talk to her.


Dear girl in the dress,

There’s so much about this day that is wonderful. And so much you’re going to forget. There’s a lot about life and love that you’re going to learn soon, and I could talk about it for ages and for books. But really, it’s a pretty good journey, so I’ll let you figure it out.

I want to talk to you about your weight.

No, not like that. Not like every doctor’s appointment ever, where you get told if you just ate less and moved more, you’d be fine. (Not that anyone ever asked or took into account how much you moved or how little you ate, but whatever.) 

You’ve worried your whole life about your size. You have never—and I do mean not ever—felt comfortable with the amount of space you’ve taken up. I’m pretty sure you suspect this (and felt crazy considering it, given the prevalence of “calories in, calories out” and, currently, Atkins), but the battle with the weight actually is  your problem.

You’re not fat. It’s okay. Your body is your body and it’s going to do some pretty awesome things in the years ahead of you.

Please don’t let this freak you out, but in about 12 years, you’re going to be roughly 100 lbs more than you are right now. A lot of that is because you’re expecting yet another baby very soon, but a lot of it isn’t.

But it’s okay.

Really.

Because, with the extra weight and the changes in your body that occur, somehow you will have found more peace with it. And that fantastic man you married? He will still think you’re pretty and he will enjoy every phase of that beautiful body, even when you’re not so sure.

I want you to know you have been fine all along.

I want you to know that, once you let go of all the baggage you carry related to weight and worth, you will find a healthy version of yourself. And that healthy version of you weighs more than you do right now, but she is physically so well. You’ll find out that you love strength training (what?). You also like kale, in many different forms. Not only do you like it, but you mysteriously crave leafy greens. Like a lot. (I know.) Also? You love running. Totally serious. Save yourself some pain and do the strength training first, but even if you don’t, your body will heal and you will find that you are bizarrely addicted to running.

Occasionally, your shape will still annoy you, because it’s not especially easy to clothe. But you have a beautiful, strong, capable body. Also? You save money because you can’t just go buy all the clothes. So there’s that. It’s going to be fine.

And you’re not fat.

Your oldest thinks you’re beautiful and wishes she could be you. She thinks you look like a princess in this picture and she thinks you’re “as pretty as can be,” even fairly pregnant and much heavier than the princess version of her mama.

Give her (and everyone else) a version of you who doesn’t hate the body you were given. Mostly, give YOU that version of yourself.


This isn’t just for the baby version of me. This is also for you. You’re gonna be fine.