focus, light, and perspective

We’re living in the in-between here in interior Alaska. The colorful leaves are all gone, but the snow hasn’t yet arrived. The world is kind of a sea of browns awaiting a blanket of white to make it look magical again. On a lousy day, it kind of looks like this:

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Just a haze of muted earth tones.

Sometimes my life feels a little like that.

It can feel like an unfocused haze of drab quotidian tasks. More laundry, more dishes, more consequences meted out, and goodness these people need to eat an awful lot of times each day. There are bums and noses to wipe, nap times to handle, and the bizarrely difficult task of getting all the little people into their beds and asleep every night. (WHY does this have to be such a fight?!? It’s not like we don’t do this every. single. day…) 

Even just writing it that way, I’m starting to feel cranky and restless for some other season- either the last one where I remember colors or the one coming that promises a little bit of Christmas card magic.

But even in this brown, drab season, look what happens when I add a little bit of focus, some light, and a tiny shift in perspective.

(I’ll let you draw the obvious conclusions.)


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

the freedom of seasons

I caught myself saying something just now that seems to be a recurring theme in my life. “Not this season.” (This time it was a text about Crossfit, if your curious, which I’m certain you must be.) 

There are so, so many good things to be doing. There are interesting things to be learning and creating and people to connect with and activities to introduce to the kids.

But not. right. now.

Right now my season is raising four very little people. It’s loving my husband. It’s writing a bit. It’s bearing witness to the heart of a friend in crisis. It’s figuring out how to educate my 4- and 5-year-old. It’s figuring out (again) how to be consistently listening to God through his word… in this season.

Next season I’ll learn hand lettering. I’ll figure out photoshop. I’ll do a sprint triathlon. (Yes, seriously.) The kids will learn skills like baking and team sports and not picking their noses in public. Perhaps we’ll leave the house with all of us fully dressed in non-pajamas on a regular basis. But that’s later. It’s on my radar. I’m planning on it. But it’s a relief to know I don’t have to do all of it now.

I’m finding so much freedom in the ability to clearly see what is mine to do now and what might be mine to do… but later.


What about you? What things are part of your season now? What things can you freely set aside for the next season or the one after that?



This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

sharing your art

I stumbled across a post I shared four years ago from a favorite blog and it made me smile all over again. It happens to be written by my sister and this post happens to be about my kids, but still. It’s seriously one of my favorite blogs. She’s since been on long hiatus from writing for lots of good reasons including but not limited to her own children and a couple of intercontinental moves.

I talk to her all the time. But her words from four years ago (and collectively four children ago) still connect us.


This morning, I got this post in my inbox from a newer internet friend. And she said exactly what I think. I mean, I’m not in a current battle with WordPress, but otherwise it’s all there. “There’s too much life lately, and not enough me” she writes.

Suddenly I feel a lot less lonely, because someone TOTALLY GETS ME.


My point is totally NOT to hassle my sister into writing right now.

It’s just…

We need your art.

I’m here sharing whatever floats into my brain to write about. Sometimes it’s a love story, or a birth story, or a story about my kids that taught me something. Sometimes it’s a note to remind you (me) of what’s important. Sometimes I talk about my miscarriage and sometimes I just talk about Jesus. I don’t think my life and my stories are so fascinating to everyone, but they’re all I have. I find gifts and grace there and I want to share that with you, whether you’re encouraged or challenged or just feel little less alone.

But I don’t have your stories.

Nobody else has your stories. Nobody else has your eyes heart or your gifts. Is writing your thing? I don’t have any idea. If it is, then share it as you have time and words. I know everyone and their mother has a blog right now. Please don’t let the volume of words that are out there be the thing that keeps you silent. None of them has YOUR words.

Is it photography? Baking? Poetry? Marketing? Dance? Soccer? Do you take pleasure in a well-organized or decorated space? Are you gifted teaching children? Do you like to build or remodel things? Make music? Engage people? Garden? Please do it. At least some.

Because not only do we need your art, we need YOU.

I speak only from my life, but when I’m doing the things I was made for, I’m being my best, most authentic self. I’m sitting here at my dining room table in an uncharacteristically quiet house typing on my new-to-me laptop. I’m writing. But more importantly, I’m coming alive. I’m morphing into a version of me that’s truer to who God’s made me to be. It’s good for me, it’s good for my husband, my kids, and basically anyone I interact with, whether or not they ever read anything I write. 

God created man in his own image… (Gen 1:27)

Not to build a whole philosophy out of a single phrase of a single verse, but can I just point out that if God created, then He’s creative? And if He created us in His image, then creativity is probably part of His image on us?

I know somebody’s cringing at the word “creative.” I get it. For years, I’d have identified myself as “not creative.” My husband would have labeled himself the same way . But I’m finding more and more that “creative” fits us both in very different ways. It has so many expressions that I really believe it’s part of everyone’s makeup. In Emily Freeman’s book A Million Little Ways, she addresses this concept at length… Creativity, once we stop defining it so narrowly, is  human thing. If you don’t like “creative” as a label, how about just doing something that you enjoy, that makes you come alive, and do it. Go for a run. Or a hike. Bust out the watercolors or the coloring book. Whatever.

Your creativity blesses us. Your you-ness blesses us. Could you do me a favor and look for some small way, private or public, that you reflect His creativity and do that? 

We need you.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

on the seventh day…

This is more update than actual blog post… Like Lilly in that picture, I’m having a hard time being a person today. Everything is fine. It’s great. It’s just that my whole day is booked solid from 9 until 9 today and my to-do list is long and I can’t quite pull it all together. Oh, right. And there are still kids. There’s abundant grace for crazy days (just like there is for the normal days) but I’m taking a pass on thinking all the Deep Thoughts and then writing them down today. Cool? Great.

So I’m off to do All The Things. I considered skipping out entirely here, but I want you to see it. See that I don’t magically find time to do everything every day. Those of you that see my house know this. But the rest of you? I just want it to be really, really clear. I have to let things go, just like anybody. This week? It’s been my house. Today? It’s going to be writing.

If I want my kids to learn how to be people and to extend grace to themselves and those around them, I need to do it, too. For now, look around and find some gifts like you did yesterday, OK? It’s just a good habit to be in. Have a good one!


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

ordinary days

So we’re on day 6 of the write31days challenge. And, while none of the last several days has been exceptional, today seems especially ordinary. (Is “especially ordinary” even a thing? I think that’s like “very unique,” which is decidedly NOT a thing—there aren’t gradients of uniqueness. A thing is unlike all others-unique-or it isn’t.) (I’m done now.)

At any rate, what I mean is that today, more than the last five, I seriously can’t find a crack to write in. All my writing is done “in the cracks”… I don’t have time set aside for it usually, so I just squeeze it in whenever I can. (The last several days have been aided by PBS Kids.) There’s always other, more pressing things to do, but, if I’m looking, I can usually find a crack- a little spot where I can at least sit down to start.

Today? Not so much. The laundry that I’ve neglected the last several days has outgrown the laundry baskets that I own. Nap time was obliterated for an appointment I needed to take Lilly to. I need to make dinner. Normal life needs to happen. Lots of discipline needs to happen. (Currently the little two are getting tiny half-naps and the big two are coloring within two feet of me, because I need to be able to see them at all times today. Some days are like that.) I’ve outlawed the word “mom” and required that they address me as “Your Highness” because I CANNOT HEAR THE “M” WORD ANY MORE TIMES. (It’s not working.)  There are pencil shavings all over the table because the 4-year-old decided that she wanted to use it to decorate for halloween because you get candy on halloween. (I have no idea. Whatever. It’s keeping her quiet. So there’s a crack I can write in.) 

I don’t say all this to complain about my life (It’s awesome in a mundane way that I really love) and I don’t say this to make excuses for shoddy writing (though, you know, you could take it into consideration.)

The point (if I have one) is this:

Today is exactly the right kind of day to look for and share typical, ordinary grace. Because my normal days require a lot of grace.

So here are a few of the the gifts that I see from here, in no particular order:

  • the sunshine is glorious.
  • the big girls are hanging out on the back porch for a minute, so I have a few seconds of quiet.
  • the babies are sleeping.
  • though the day has been overwhelming, my internal response is more sigh than YELL.
  • real fruit popsicles count as legit healthy snacks.
  • there isn’t yet snow on the ground.
  • my husband built a fire, so our house is toasty warm.
  • he’ll be home for dinner tonight, as will our dear friend Sarah.
  • we’re only doing kindergarten, so strategic read-alouds can be the entire day’s work.
  • Lilly may be getting help with her (super minor) feeding issues.

This is a really small selection, and as I read back over it, it’s pretty boring. But that is exactly the point. Daily grace isn’t necessarily flashy. It’s mundane and just enough for now.

And it’s beautiful.


Can you take a 15-second break and look for the gifts around you? What do you see? I’d love to hear about it.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

Lilly and Hope

I’ve talked about last year’s miscarriage an awful lot here, and I really thought I’d processed it pretty fully. I was able to hold the tension between the joy and the sorrow and, while it’s still sad, I’d have said I pretty well found healing.

And then Lilly girl was born.

My rainbow baby.

And, for a few weeks, the newness and the chaos that always comes with a baby pretty fully occupied my mind, hands, heart, and time.

Then I went to an event where, among other things, I took a pretty solid look at the lies I was telling myself. Here’s a pair that came out:

I am being disloyal to Hope if I fully love Lilly.

and

If I am still sad about losing Hope, then I don’t love Lilly very well.

The problem that was caught in my heart was the fact that I could never have had both; they were too close. If I hadn’t lost Hope, Lilly could not have come to be. To have Lilly at all, I had to lose Hope. So in loving Lilly, it felt like I was glad I lost Hope, and in missing Hope, I felt like I wished I’d never had Lilly.

The friend facilitating the discussion about this tried to help me separate the two girls from so many different directions, but I wasn’t having it. I simply couldn’t see past the dichotomy.

After a great deal of frustration on my part, my sweet husband stepped in:

“I think you might be getting stuck because you believe that loving Hope has to mean you wish with all your being that things had been different.”

Yes. That’s exactly the problem.

But what if I step back from that definition of loving Hope? 

I had to ponder it for a little bit. How would loving Hope look if I didn’t wish with everything that I hadn’t lost her?

Trust.

Here’s what loving Hope looks like for me:

I loved her deeply for the time I knew I carried her.

I grieved her fully when I lost her (and continue to do so.)

And I trust that God knew what he was doing when He brought her home rather than allowing me to raise her. I trust that she’s fine, and that this, the family precisely as it is with four children here and one in heaven, is what God has in mind for us now. He gives good gifts, which means raising Lilly is a good thing and it means that the having and then the sorrow of losing Hope is also ultimately a good thing. (Though it absolutely does not feel that way.) I can see a few ways in which this loss has pointed some people toward God and softened me and made me just a little more like Jesus.

It’s still a really uncomfortable truth, this realization that I could never have had both.

But, while I cannot have both, I now know that I can love both just as fully as I love my others. And there is a great deal of peace and freedom there.


This post is part of the write31days challenge, where I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

grace enough for 31 whole days

Hi! I’m participating in write31days this year, for the first time ever… and I’m doing it wrong. I have no big plan; I’m just trying to write every day. I have no idea what is going to come out! My hope is, as always, to look for grace in my stories and to share that grace with you.

Here’s where I’m linking all the posts, whatever they become:

  • day 1: October
  • day 2: on looking up
  • day 3: getting my body back
  • day 4: in defense of social media
  • day 5: Lilly and Hope (miscarriage)
  • day 6: ordinary days
  • day 7: on the seventh day…
  • day 8
  • day 9: sharing your art
  • day 10: the freedom of seasons
  • day 11: focus, light, and perspective
  • day 12: faith to be strong
  • day 13
  • day 14
  • day 15
  • day 16: wide open
  • day 17: owning who you are
  • day 18
  • day 19: homeschooling so far
  • day 20: they draw me smiling
  • day 21
  • day 22: reclaiming quiet
  • day 23
  • day 24: I’m not the body image lady
  • day 25: voting and revisiting Tozer
  • day 26: traveling for its own sake
  • day 27: grace in ridiculousness
  • day 28
  • day 29: (a sad story, but a good God)
  • day 30
  • day 31
  • recap: habits, minigoals, and grace enough for all october

in defense of social media

(It’s a web. Hahaha… hilarious.)

In defense of social media? Who the heck do I think I am? Yeah. Facebook totally needs me to stand up for it. 

At any rate…

Social media gets a lot of negative press lately. (Ironically, most of this is shared via said media, but whatever.)

It causes comparison leading to discontentment.

It sucks time.

It replaces “real” relationships with pretend ones.

It’s full of anonymous vitriol.

All of these are valid. People are forever announcing on facebook that they’re breaking up with facebook. And I get that. If it makes you crazy, for the love of all things good, STOP. Of my friends that are on social media, many regard it as sort of a guilty pleasure or a necessary evil. “Yeah… It’s bad for me, but it’s where my friends and family are, and that’s how I stay in contact with them all at once.” I get that, too.

But can I offer an alternate view? And it won’t apply to everyone. But I’m in a really  isolating season right now. I’m home. And when I’m not home, I have a whole bunch of people that I have to keep track of and instruct constantly, so I’m not especially open to connect. I’m working really hard to get out and talk to people in person more, but it’s taking a while.

Social media offers a way to stay in contact anyway.

This is priceless.

Do the best relationships happen as I scroll through my various feeds? No. But it gives little windows into my friends’ days that I can connect with them about beyond the news feed. (You know. Like in comments or messages or the occasional fragmented in-person conversation over a playdate.)

Also priceless? The excuse to communicate with people via text. I write better than I speak. (Side note- if you interact with me primarily on social media, I’m likely to disappoint you in real life. I’m, at best, endearingly awkward at first. I become my more normal self—the one you see here, actually—in time.)  Kat, who’s long since become a dear real-life friend, told me that it took several visits to reconcile the me she knew from online with the me she was talking to in her house. Introvert thing? I don’t know. But when I have to make words come out of my actual mouth, I’m kind of… derpy. For serious. When I need to have an emotionally charged conversation to have with my husband, I often email him first so I can make my thoughts make sense.

So social media gives me (and I imagine a few others) a chance to connect in a more authentic way with more people than I could otherwise.

And you know what? I have a lot to learn from you. You have stories and perspectives that I don’t. Also, you have experiences that I DO have, but if we don’t talk about it, we both feel alone.

Would I love to hang out with you in real life? Yes. But, except for a few of the people near me, I just can’t right at the moment. So I’ll take what I can get.

So yeah. Social media can kinda suck. It can suck time and it can suck life if you’re not paying attention. But focusing on the negatives of it is, in a lot of ways, a little like whining about the weather: it brings everyone’s attention to the negatives with no real solution.

Like anything, there are downsides. But upsides, too. Let’s pay attention to those. Let’s take the gifts and let the rest go, as usual. Who’s with me?



This post is part of the write31days challenge, where I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

getting my body back

To be honest, when my friend Sarah showed me this photo from Lilly’s birth, I was initially appalled. All I could see was my unfocused-but-flabby self, immediately post birth. Even now, sharing it is a little bit hard. Because this is the internet and I’m nekkid and stuff.

But I want you to see it anyway. Just look. Don’t look at me. Look at my husband. That’s what redeems this picture for me, and what helps me make peace with they way my body is right now.

He’s not looking at the folds that look to me like deflated sumo suit.

He sees his wife who just performed the herculean task of moving his baby from the inside of her body to the outside. (His wife is kind of a badass.)


You guys have all seen it.

The focus on “getting your body back” after a baby. It’s 2016 and, despite a push from some sides for body acceptance and positivity, culture around us still overwhelmingly presses us to look like our pre-baby selves.

It’s stupid, actually.

I don’t want my old body back. 

My old body was endearingly average, whatever I thought of it at the time. I was able to clothe it with minimal trouble.

But also, that body hadn’t grown five babies then delivered and fed four. It wasn’t squishy enough for a toddler to use as a pillow. It didn’t have the strength to carry a baby in a carseat, a toddler, a diaper bag, and whatever else needed carrying up the stairs.

I want the body that I have. I need to want the body that I have… and my kids need me to want the body that I have.


 

I don’t want my old body back, but I do  want to take care of the new one. After all, it’s responsible for a lot of little people right now.

So I eat vegetables. …because I feel much better when I do.

I do strength training. …because it keeps me from getting hurt.

I run. …because I’m nicer and happier when I get a chance to burn off some of the crazy.

I try to emphasize protein and minimize sugar. …because I am less hungry and less crashy. 

I eat when I’m hungry. …because I need energy. Also, breastfeeding.

It’s not that I manage all of these things all of the time. But do you see? It isn’t about “getting my body back.” To be perfectly honest, my body hasn’t been “mine” in more than half a decade and will continue to feed a little person for a while yet. None of this has anything at all to do with how my body looks or whether I feel like putting the thing in a bikini. (Don’t worry. I don’t.)

“I eat vegetables. I do strength training. And run. And eat protein and cut sugar.”

All of these things are frequently said by people trying to change their body’s shape. And that’s fine. What I’m learning is that the why is important for me. I may not be losing any weight. (Point of fact: I am not.) But I am much more at peace with my body than I would be if I were doing all these things in order to lose weight. If I were doing all the same things in order to lose weight that I’m doing now to feel better, I still wouldn’t be losing weight. Instead, I’d be irritated and NOT happy, and probably not continue making healthy choices.

So I choose to feel better. And make healthy choices. And be kind to the body that’s done (and is doing) a million things to support the people I love.


Friend, I have no idea what your struggles with your body are and I have no idea how to fix them. I only know what mine are and what is working for me. (I don’t even have all of those figured out.) My hope is that in sharing some of my stuff, some light and grace can spread to yours.



This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

on looking up (day 2)

Life has been a little challenging. It’s the kind of challenging you’d expect with all the little people in the house, with the needs to meet and discipline to keep track of and the sensory input assaulting me. It’s also a special kind of difficult with heartbreak with and for people that I love, valleys to walk through with them, and battles to fight in prayer.

Yesterday was a standard kind of hard day– I tuned out the sensory overload, so the kids got louder. So I was more overwhelmed, so I attempted sedation by Wildkratts. Except too much screen time makes them squirrely, and on and on, as you’d imagine. This ended badly, with my eyes and forehead veins and neck muscles all bulging in the most attractive way possible, I’m sure.

But in the midst of the hard in this season (both the normal and the special hard), I keep hearing a Whisper:

“Look up.”

Sometimes (like yesterday), I’m so busy tuning my kids out that I also miss His gentle reminder until things are fully out of hand. But more and more, I’m hearing it.

Look up. Listen to the words of the song playing in the kitchen. Those words come from my Word and will speak to your heart.

Look up. See the way I am in the storm, caring for the people you love, even as they fight the battle of their lives. 

Look up. Pay attention to the way I’ve placed my image on your children. See how your love for them is a reflection of Mine for you.

Look up. Notice the beauty I’ve placed around you. I made it for My glory and enjoyment, and I want it to point your heart to Me.

Look up.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.