Friday, November 27, 2015

a day for thanksgiving

{found via pinterest from flickr}

i think in some ways that it's rather odd for us to have a day for thanks-giving. in other ways it's odd that we only have one.

wouldn't it make more sense to stay thankful?

i'm not the best at this, so believe me when i tell you this post is mostly for me. but feel free to read along.

why don't i live every day full of thankfulness? i have a lot to be thankful for - i have been given much. in hindsight it makes me feel like a petulant child when i complain. all of my needs are met. i'm thinking about how to fulfill my dreams. i'm thinking about how to live life to the fullest and the choices i want to make about how to live my life, and how i want to spend my money. day in and day out i make a lot of choices.

i have the luxury to choose.

i have the luxury to decide what i want to do. i don't have to wonder whether i'll be able to eat. i'm choosing what kind of food i want to buy, and cook in my well-stocked kitchen.

i don't wonder whether or not i'll have a roof over my head at night. and when i don't it's because i'm choosing to go camping.

it's so easy to compare ourselves to other people who have more. it's easy to think that a little bit more money, or a little bit more stuff, or a little bit bigger house or a little bit of this, that, and the other thing will make life better. they won't. we get those things, and then we find that we're exactly who we were before, just with one more thing.

we all have dreams. somewhere deep inside ourselves we all have dreams. sometimes we just get caught up in what everyone else says we're supposed to do, and what everyone else says we're supposed to have.

for the past couple of weeks i've been trying to decide what's next. what goal am i driving after next? i've checked off marathon #2, so now what?

i've realized that part of the "now what" needs to be thankfulness. day in, day out, thankfulness. i want to start everyday with gratitude.

there will always be things that i want. always. even with the knowledge that those things will not really make my life a whole lot better.

but i'm finally finally learning that life is not about what you have.

theoretically i've known that for a very long time. intellectually i could tell you that without blinking an eye. it's not a new concept to me. but i'm finally learning it in practice.

if i'm being really honest i'm still learning it. i'm learning that my life will not be fulfilled by what i bring home in a shopping bag. my life will not be richer in any sense of the word by buying things.

i love buying things for people - i love giving gifts, and i enjoy giving money away to a worthy cause. and i do enjoy getting things for myself. but i have so much already.

i have so much that i just cleaned my closet out a couple months ago, and i'm already thinking that i need to do it again.

i'm finally truly grateful for what i have without always having an eye on what more i want.

i don't know about you, but i need to remember what i already have, day in and day out. i feel like i need to start my day by making a grateful list. every day. maybe even two. one in the morning, one at night. everything is not going to be perfect. we will not get every single thing we ever wanted. but we can make choices about what to really go after, and what's the most important, and what's not.

life is all about making choices.

and i am choosing to be grateful. because at the end of the day, i have it really really good. even when things don't seem really really good. even when the kids are frustrating, and peter and i are fighting, and there are things we're not doing so we can do something else later. even then, i have it really really good. and i don't want to forget that.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

first things first

sometimes it's hard to keep first things first. maybe even most of the time. it's pretty easy to identify the "first things" for me. God, family, healthy lifestyle, serving and giving back, cultivating community and relationships.

i think it's pretty easy for most people to identify their first things.

but do we actually live that way?

because actions speak louder than words.

and that's what we're trying to identify right now. what are we saying yes to, that we should be saying no to? what are we agreeing to do that actually take away from the main things?

we all make choices with our time. and the truth is that if we're not spending the main bulk of our time doing the main things, they aren't really the main things. we can lie to ourselves and say they are, but how much time and effort do we actually put into them?

i struggle with this. we struggle with this because our culture expects us to be insanely busy. and it's difficult to be counter-cultural. it takes a lot of effort and intention. we want to do the good things in addition to the best things, but they don't always fit. it's just a lot harder to say no to the good things because they're good things.

perspective, and margin, and first things first. i am much more patient, and understanding, and interruptible when i have margin.

this idea has come up time and time and time again over the last few months. we were running ourselves ragged with so many things going on at once, and we could all feel it. and it's making us re-think some things. it's making us re-think really good things. and that's hard.

so much of life is about balance. we don't want to be lazy. we don't want to go through life wasting our days and not contributing any of the gifts we've been given to the world around us. hoarding our gifts is not good stewardship. but being so hurried and rushed and busy that we cannot stop to help someone, or be patient in line at the grocery store - living this way doesn't exactly lend itself to loving those around us.

it's a balance. a constant shifting balancing act. we need times of rest and restoration. we need times of action. it's not an either/or. it's a both/and.

it's really easy to covet whatever i don't have. if i'm in a lull when there isn't a whole lot going on, i often feel antsy like i need to do something. if i'm constantly going, going, going without a spare second, i just wish i had time for a bit of a break. most of the time it's my own fault though. either way, it's usually my fault. it's usually decisions that i've made.

the past few months were crazy because we decided that peter would coach, and i would train for a marathon, and we would continue working on our kitchen project. we decided that all of those things would happen at the same time. granted, the kitchen has taken longer than we originally anticipated, but still. still we made decisions that caused craziness.

we could've said no to all of those things. so yes, things were pretty crazy. and they'll get crazy again. but it's self-imposed craziness.

i need to remind myself of that because there are times - not as many as there used to be - when i get into a bit of a victim mindset. but i am largely a "victim" of my own choices, not of my circumstances. my circumstances have mostly come from my own choices. and i need to own up to my own role in my craziness.

more recently peter and i have discussed the importance of time. time is our most precious commodity because we cannot get any more of it. when today is gone, it's gone. it's not coming back ever again. and we don't know how much time we'll get.

we are not promised tomorrow. we are not guaranteed a long life. and we aren't actually owed much of anything, despite what we tend to believe.

there's a quote out there that is attributed to f. scott fitzgerald. i'm not entirely sure he actually said it, but it's powerful nonetheless.

{found via pinterest from wit and delight}
i hope you have the strength to start all over again. i hope you have the courage to run to God and ask him to change you.

i love that quote, but there's a caveat. yes, i have to find the strength to start over, but that strength comes from God. and i need a lot of support.

to get completely off-track for a minute: the self-made man doesn't exist. we like to believe he does. but, as they say, no man is an island.
sidenote ended.

we need to start over sometimes. we need to rethink and reevaluate. we need to figure out what the first things are, and keep them first. on purpose.

i hope you keep first things first today, and this week. and i hope wherever you are, and whatever you do - i hope you find a way to be grateful.


Friday, November 20, 2015

thankful thanksgiving

{found via pinterest from country living}

this thanksgiving we're getting together with peter's growing extended family. we always spend thanksgiving with peter's family, but this is the first year everyone will stay in one house together. we're all looking forward to it - especially keane who is more than thrilled that a lot of his favorite people are going to be in one place all together for a few days.

when we started naming everyone who's coming he interrupted me after about 10 names, and just said "and everybody! thaaaanks-giv-ing!"

it has been a while since we've seen some of them so it'll be good to {hopefully} have a chance to catch up with everyone.

but as i write this i'm trying not to think about the packing and everything i need to remember. i'm trying not to worry about forgetting something - ever since the year we forgot the hanging bag with 80% of my clothes in it i've worried about this even more than i used to. i'm trying not to focus on those things that will inevitably sort themselves out.

i'm trying not to focus on the fact that my kids wake up too early at home, and we'll probably get very little sleep while we're there. i'm trying not to focus on the rest of my christmas shopping, or anything else that really doesn't matter right now.

instead i'm focusing {or trying to} on the many many many people and things that make me grateful. day in and day out. grateful.

peter. keane. adele. our little family tops my grateful list.
the rest of my family. naturally.

there are a lot of big things i am grateful for, like the things above. and those are important, but they aren't the only things that make the list.

i don't naturally focus on the positive. i have to work at it. but that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of positives to focus on. it just means i have to work at it.

today i am grateful. i am grateful for my family.
i am grateful for a roof over my head.
i am grateful for my coffee.
i am grateful for a sunny day, and a walk with my loves.
i am grateful for snuggles and the laughter of my kids as they learn to play together.
i am grateful for leftovers for lunch.
i am grateful for a vacuum cleaner that works.
i am grateful for our washing machine.
i am grateful for the options i have in most areas of my life.

i am grateful for a bed to sleep in, and food in the refrigerator.
i'm grateful that i even have a refrigerator.
i'm grateful for my car that takes me 95% of the places i need to go.
i'm grateful for an internet connection that allows me to access more information than i'll ever be able to learn.

i am grateful.

it's so easy for me to sit down and think about what i want and what i like and what i "deserve".
but i need to stop and think about all the wonderful people and things i already have.
i don't really deserve any of that. not if i'm being really honest.
but i am grateful for it.

i'm praying that i don't just rush to christmas this year. i'm praying that i remember and keep and take with me some of that thankfulness. some of that thanksgiving.

i've been working on that and trying to do that more and more the last few years. sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
but i never regret gratefulness. i never regret being thankful.

happy friday!


Monday, November 16, 2015

post-marathon thoughts

i made a choice a couple of weeks ago to get more sleep leading up to the marathon rather than to get up and write in the mornings. i definitely missed this time, but i desperately needed more sleep. and, thanks to daylight savings time {why do we still do that, again? seriously.} my kids have been waking up at least 30 minutes early, but usually a full hour earlier than normal.

and now my second marathon is behind me. strangely i was far more nervous this time than last time. i felt like i had more to prove. i had a goal besides just finishing, and hitting a certain time. i had to beat my time from last time. or at least i really wanted to.

i was so nervous the morning of the marathon that peter had to pin my bib number on me. i shook like i had some pretty violent chills. last time i didn't fuel as well as i needed to, and i ended up slowing way down during the last 10k. this time i didn't want that to happen. i had a fuel plan written out on paper. peter had a bag of fuel that he carried with him, and he and my dad met me at various points on the course to get me more fuel.

but beyond all of that i learned so much training for this marathon. training this time around coincided with a couple of different book/bible studies i'm doing right now, and i realized that - if i'm being really honest - i've always given myself a lot of credit for my achievements - especially my athletic achievements. 

i did it. 
it was me
i worked my butt off, 
and i accomplished what i set out to do.

but i didn't make myself athletic. i did not give myself the inherent athleticism that i have. 
i did not make myself fast.
i did not give myself a build that is good for running.
i didn't give myself the drive that i have to want to run and to want to get better.

and there is a part of me that subconsciously tied my athletic achievements to my worth. as much as i know that's not true intellectually i had to remind myself over and over again that even if i didn't finish the race no one would love me any less. 

what do you have that you did not receive? and if you have received it why do you boast as if you had not received it? {1 cor. 4:7}

running a marathon was largely selfish. it was something i wanted to do, and something that other people in my family had to make sacrifices for me to attain.

how could i use that run to bring glory to God? how could i run in his strength instead of my own? i wanted to run like eric liddell - i wanted to run to feel God's pleasure.

i think part of the reason why i was so nervous leading up to the race, and why i had one really horrible 20+ mile training run, and why a big part of that misstep was not fueling properly; all of those things drove me to prayer. they drove me to the place where i reached out for prayer and support from others. those things drove me to my knees - literally - to ask God for his strength. 

and he brought to mind isaiah 40:31. it's a familiar one, but it stayed in my head for the last 3 days before the marathon, and spoke to me while i ran the course.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. they will rise up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not feel faint. {isaiah 40:31}

did i hit my time goal? not quite. my reach goal was to get 3:20. i ended up with a 3:21:51. much to my surprise i also ended up 1st in my age group, and the 5th female overall. those things were largely thanks to peter who met me at mile 25 and ran from 25 to 26 with me, and helped me kick in and finish off the race. he helped me pass another girl in the last .5 mile of the course. 

God took my nerves, and the gifts he gave me, and he let me run to feel his pleasure. he let me run to get to interact with a whole lot of spectators, and policemen, and runners, and volunteers that i otherwise wouldn't have. he let me run in his strength. 

because at the end of the day, it's not about me.
and at the end of the day, i couldn't have run the race i did without the support of a whole lot of prayer warriors, a whole lot of volunteers, a whole lot of policemen, a whole lot of organization, and a whole lot of love and support from family. and mostly - a whole lot of Jesus.


Friday, October 30, 2015

labor day

three years ago today i had been in induced labor for two and a half hours. i was focused on the task at hand. we would not have a halloween baby. october 30th would be keane's birthday. i had determined it. i would labor - even on the pitocin - without drugs. i would birth this kid through my tiny hips, and he would come on october 30th.

in case you haven't read keane's birth story you can read the whole thing here. if you don't want to read the whole thing i can sum it up for you. it was the antithesis of everything i had determined. i only made it 12 hours, and 8 cm laboring naturally on the pitocin. i pushed for three hours, and did not birth him through my tiny hips, and seeing as he didn't come until 3:38 a.m. - he was and is a halloween baby.

so this morning i'm remembering back to that day. that last day before i was officially a parent. that last day when i could walk around with my baby boy literally attached to me. the day when i was so scared that something was going to happen to him, and after waiting for him for years that he somehow wouldn't be okay.

the 12 hours he spent in the nicu did not help this worry, but my favorite nurse being in there with him helped a lot. she loved him well, and found him his little pumpkin hat that shows up in 90% of his hospital pictures.

so this morning, i'm remembering. and i'm tearing up as i'm remembering. he and his sister are the two best surprises we've ever gotten.

keane coming into this world brought some healing to my hurting heart. God took those 3 ¼ years of desperately wanting my own plan, of desperately wanting a biological child, of my heart seemingly ripping out with every confirmation that it wouldn't happen that month either; he took those years of pain and heartache and turned them into - "your will, your way Lord." i'm willing to do it differently even though i still want my plan.

yes, it took over three years for my stubbornness, anger, and bitterness to give up my plans, and embrace what God had for us instead.

this morning i'm drinking my coffee out of my "m" {for mom} mug that a friend sent to me after keane was born. and i'm remembering. i'm remembering the tears, and the anguish of those frustration-filled years of hoping and praying and nothing happening. those years when i thought God had forgotten me. those years when i watched friend after friend and relative after relative get pregnant with ease, and hang up the phone and cry. cry because i was trying so hard to be happy for them, but often i was too blinded with heartache of what i didn't have, and apparently couldn't have though i didn't understand why.

and i'm remembering the overwhelming joy and tears of holding both of my kiddos for the first time.

this morning i'm remembering my {most likely} one and only labor day, and i'm beyond thankful for my almost three year old. i'm beyond thankful for my 14 month old. and i'm thankful for ways that healing took place where i didn't even know i was broken.

happy almost birthday to my sweet monkey-boy!
you teach me new things every day,
and i love you to pieces.


Monday, October 26, 2015

pieces of me

most days i wear my heart on my sleeve.
i put pieces of myself out there for the world to see.
it's not all of me, not everything.
to most people i am politely, even nicely, guarded.
but there are pieces.
there are clues.

the rings from my husband on the days when he asked me to marry him, and when he made me his wife.
the single pearl earring from the pair he gave me on our first christmas as a married couple. {the other is lost at the bottom of the gulf of mexico courtesy of a face-plant while wakeboarding.}
the ink on my arms and my ankle tells some of my story. they tell about what i've learned from some of those whom i have lost.
the gray hairs poking out here and there show that i'm growing older {and don't have the best genes in that respect}.
the bags under my eyes and my continual frazzled state tell the world i'm a mom. the constant coffee mug in hand assists in this realization too.

i don't have to say much for someone to get a small picture of who i am - if they're looking for it. in my eyes this leads to two separate questions. one: if this is the case for me it's likely the case for most people - not that i know who they are by looking at them, but that i can see pieces of who they are. but am i looking? but not only that - am i looking to attempt kindness, am i looking to attempt to meet them where they are? am i looking with the eyes of Christ? really trying to see who they are, and love them where they are, and as they are?

or am i too caught up in myself? in my plans? in my stuff? or do i look only to judge?

and two: do people see Him when they look at me? not overtly - i don't have a Jesus tattoo or anything, but do they see Him? am i living a life overflowing with grace?

most of the time i'm not. some days, i'm not even truly trying. many days it's just all about me. it's all about me and what i'm doing, and my agenda and to-do list. most of the time i'm too caught up in my plans. i'm too caught up in checking off my boxes. i try to be polite, but i'm not attempting to genuinely care for people. i'm not attempting to see past the veneer that our culture tells us we are to wear.

and i think too often i want to help, but i don't want to be helped. we have this idea that showing any kind of weakness is a terrible thing. but if i am always strong, and never in need it's hard for people to come alongside me because i'm not giving them an opportunity.

vulnerability is hard. really hard. and really frowned upon in most instances in our culture. but vulnerability is necessary if we want to really know people. this isn't to say that we should overshare immediately. relationships are still necessary. and we are desperate for community. we have 500+ friends according to facebook, and still feel isolated and lonely.

it's really hard to open up and put yourself out there first. no one likes to be rejected. but would it make it easier if we realized that this whole world is not about me? that i'm just a small side character in a much bigger story?

just think about that for a minute.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


{found via pinterest from brutal generation}

so much of life is timing.

sunday a friend of ours got married, and so we were catching up with a bunch of other friends at the wedding and talking about how crazy life has been lately. after we returned home i took a look at my marathon training schedule and realized that i have two weeks left of full training before i start the slow taper to the race. two weeks feels a little bit more manageable than five right now.

and then i also realized that peter has two weeks left of soccer season. of course those things would coincide.

we still have plenty to do in our kitchen remodel project as well, but we've made so much progress in the last few weeks, that it feels like there's a light at the end of the tunnel with that too.

we still need to cut and stain our new counters, demo the old counters and sink, and put in the new counters and sink.
do a little bit of tiling, but not a full backsplash,
a little bit more painting, stencil,
and build and install open shelving.
and i have a few small decorative projects too.

but that list is a whole lot smaller than it used to be. it feels like there's actually a chance we'll finish it before christmas, which i wasn't so sure about a few weeks ago.

besides, taking 6 months to do a kitchen overhaul when you do the vast majority of it yourselves, and hire no professional contractors for anything is pretty reasonable. especially with everything else we have going on... right? right.

i just have to keep reminding myself that this kitchen is going to last us a really long time. and it should be at least 10 years before we do anything of this magnitude again. as in, keane will probably be a teenager. {which is very weird to think about.}

i've also been watching fixer upper on netflix over the past couple of days, and it has me reinvigorated for the rest of this kitchen project. i know they make it look pretty easy, but it's that whole "look at the transformation" thing that gets me every time.

anyway, it just feels like it has been quite a long time since i could really relax. right now a lot hangs over my head, or screams a bit in the back of my mind every time i stop. i know i should be working on something else. i know there's more i could be doing. it makes it really easy to be completely self-focused. {because that wasn't easy enough already}

margin is one of those things that i don't think about until i have none. and the less margin i have in my life the less i think about others. the less margin i have the more entitled i get about my time, and i get upset when something interferes with said time. the less margin i get the uglier i am to the world around me. it makes it really tough to love others well. and sometimes to love them at all.

too often i assume that i'm supposed to be so busy as to have no margin. it's accepted, and expected to live life that way. but it's so important to be adaptable. it makes life so much more enjoyable when i'm not rushing all.the.time. and when i'm not upset and fuming because i'm running late, or have too much to do - i'm more likely to see other people. really see them.

it's easy to glance at people and not really see them. and when i'm so caught up in myself, i can't see them. but i'm supposed to love them.

which is why i need margin in my life.

my goal is to take our lack of coaching, and lack of marathon training {a few weeks later} and not shove a whole bunch of other stuff in there. the holiday season is always crazy enough as it is, and it's almost upon us.

i want to try to enjoy it this year. and have it bring out the best in me instead of the worst.
wouldn't it be nice if "peace on earth, goodwill toward men" was actually how we acted during "the most wonderful time of the year"?