Tuesday, March 3, 2015

who knows?

{found via pinterest}

that phrase - who knows? - sticks in my head right now because once again snowfall drifts down from our charlotte skies, and despite the fact that we were supposed to have over a week of soccer practice under our belt at this point [but only have a day], it's looking more and more like we won't get much time on the field this week either. {sidenote: in case you can't tell, i started this post last week...}

who knows what will happen?

who knows is such a loaded phrase, not just for me, but especially for me. "who knows" is such a true statement. we don't really know what's going to happen. that's why there are so many aphorisms about planning: "the best laid plans..."; "if you want to hear God laugh tell him your plans." 

but "who knows?" also makes me immediately think of something else every single time i hear it. in a split second i get transported back to my freshman year of college. to the very first semester - the very first week that i was on campus.

playing soccer meant that i was on campus before everyone else, and going to a christian school meant that we had a team theme each year based on a bible verse. my freshman year the verse was esther 4:14 - "for if you remain silent at this time relief and deliverance for the jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" [niv]

the whole theme of the season was "who knows?" who knows but that you have come to your position for such a time as this. who knows what will happen?

that season kicked off a great two years for the soccer program at grove city. my freshman year was the first time in school history that the women's soccer team went to the ncaa tournament. the following year we went on a 15 game win streak, and went back to the tournament for the second time in school history.

all because we, as a team, took to heart that idea. 
who knows what can happen? who knows but that you are in the exact place you're in because you now have the ability or authority or position to do something, or to speak something that you couldn't otherwise.

we cannot see everything all at once. we live in a linear world. and sometimes that's scary. 
but God is sovereign. 

and that's the thing - he knows, even when we don't.

it's like another saying i heard a few years ago: i don't know what the future holds, but i know who holds it.
sometimes we walk through fun and exciting things, or do something that has never been done before, all because we have the audacity to believe that God is God and if we listen to what he's asking us to do he can bring things together that we couldn't possibly know or predict.

of course that doesn't mean that we don't do anything. we still have to put in the work. [yes, there are times when you put in the work and it still doesn't seem to get you anywhere, but at least then you're not left wondering what would've happened differently if you had.]

we miss that piece though. we don't want to put in the work. we want to have everything handed to us without needing to work for it. we don't want to do the hard thing simply because it's hard. too often i don't recognize that life isn't easy for anyone. the grass always looks greener on the other side because too often i'm looking on the other side, wanting the easy way out. in that moment of wanting something else i don't realize that even if i trade in my grass for that greener grass over there i still have to water the grass eventually, or it won't be green anymore.

no one really has it easy even if it looks like they do. we all have different struggles - some are bigger than others because they involve struggling for things necessary for life - but we all struggle. and we all think that others out there don't struggle. we've become so obsessed with our façade that authenticity has become refreshing.

too often i subconsciously think things are supposed to be easy, but most things in life worth having take a ton of work - despite what our culture tells us.
a good marriage? it's not just flowers and sunshine all the time. it takes intentional work. [despite the theme of many a rom-com]
parenting? hardest thing i've ever done. beyond worth it, but tough day in and day out.
building a business? having a successful career? staying in shape? becoming well-versed in any discipline? most things in life take work.

peter and i were talking last week about the "overnight" success story that actually took 10 years of work. businesses and products pop up [seemingly] out of nowhere all the time. they make us think that they truly came out of nowhere, but in reality those businesses or products had been in the works for a long time.

we want to take the easy way out, but there's not an easy way to accomplish many things. we're fooled by the end product. we missed the process and mistakenly think that there was none.

we live in an immediate gratification society, and we've started thinking that everything should happen immediately.

there are so many tangents spinning through my mind right now because there are so many ways to apply this in my own life.

i want to make changes, but changes don't just happen because i want them to happen. i have actually stepped up in some aspects and taken steps to make changes. i've started making changes to small things, but those often trip me up more than the big things.

for instance: i've started waking up earlier to get a few things accomplished before the kiddos get up. this "extra time" has allowed me time to write far more often than i could before. writing more has caused more reflection, and has helped me come to a few important realizations about my own life at this stage.

i'm at this stage at this time because God put me here. i say that with 100% clarity because it took us so much longer than we hoped to have kids. if it had only been up to me our kids would be older at this stage in the game. but they're not. and there is a reason for that.

who knows but that you have come to this position for such a time as this?

God can use anything. do i trust him enough to walk with him even when life doesn't make sense? do i trust that he wants me at the center of his will even more than i want to be there?


Monday, February 16, 2015

walking the dog

{via kateelizabethconner.com}

it's clear out tonight, and cold. not so cold that it cuts through you, but cold enough to let the tips of you immediately know. your nose and your ears know well enough that given time the cold will seep into you, down to your very core.

the moon shines so brightly that a blurry glow radiates out from it. the clarity of the stars seems to make the temperature drop faster. staring into all that cold. all that empty. all that space.

bexley and i are the only ones out on this path tonight. it's solemn in a way. nothing but the sound of our footsteps and the occasional jingle of the leash. nothing except the sound of us, and my stern reprimands when he starts to pull too much.

nothing, but everything.

we pass by houses and lives. we pass by doors closing and voices wafting. and then we move on.

a jingling leash.

a few measures of a song. a light switches off.


the stars take me back to high school for a moment. i remember a poem i wrote for my english class in 11th grade, but i can't remember all of it. only the beginning.

"there are no stars out tonight.
nothing to even wish on.
no reassurance that it's all going to be okay."

that's all i remember. i know it ended on a better note. but my teacher praised me for turning the "wish upon a star" thing on its head. then he said it resolved too easily at the end, and rather easily convinced me to add "maybe" in there - i don't remember how we got from the beginning to the very end, but i changed the ending to "and tonight, maybe that's enough."

i'd like to find that poem.
it was one of the first times i wrote something and actually thought it was halfway decent. it was one of the first things i was praised for writing. one of the first times i realized how much i enjoyed putting my thoughts down in ink.

too often now i read back over what i've written and think it's mostly - if not all - crap. and i wonder what ever made me think i was halfway decent at this anyway?

and then i spiral. i question everything. seriously. everything.
one self-critical thought after another --
i'm clearly a bad writer. i'll never do anything but piddle around with it, no matter what i aspire to do. i can lie to myself all i want, it'll never happen. and i'm not a very good mom either. or wife. and i don't really have a purpose. what am i doing here again? why does any of this matter? i'm not really very good at anything. and no matter what it doesn't feel like it's good enough.

is that part of our humanity? to spiral?
i think maybe it is.

i've been lost in thought and my pace has slowed.
the seeping cold snaps me back and bexley and i push on faster.

it's time to go home. to walk back into the warmth of baby laughs and toddler hugs and the embrace of my husband.


Monday, February 9, 2015

to matter

{via dvoapp.com}

we all want to matter. this is not surprising or revolutionary news. it is certainly not an epiphany that never occurred to anyone before. but it is profoundly true. we all want to matter, and to know that we matter.

what i have realized more recently is that this is one of the big reasons for the debate about stay-at-home moms versus working moms. [sidenote: personally i don't think there is one right answer to that question, but i do think there is a right answer for your family.]

anyway, from my perspective as a stay-at-home mom there are plenty of days when i feel like i don't matter. where my entire existence is wrapped up in the raising of two tiny humans and just feels exhausting and nothing more. there are days when i wish i had work to do outside of my home. but i also know that if i had to go to work everyday i would miss staying at home with these two tiny humans.

in my daily existence i often feel like i don't really matter because on many occasions i don't interact with anyone over the age of 2 for the majority of my day. don't get me wrong - if i didn't think raising kids was of the utmost importance then i wouldn't be okay with staying at home with them. however, when zero percent of my daylight hours involve real adult conversation it's easy to miss the forest for the trees.

that said, i know that there are plenty of working mamas who hate that they have to leave their babes everyday. and really there is no winning in our society. in most circles one or the other is advocated. but this isn't really the point.

the point is that no matter what you do there are days when you feel like you don't matter. too often i look at what i do and want that to completely define me and to give me meaning. i'm looking to those things that i do, and i want them to define me.

too often i strive and strive and strive [after the wind] and try to make a dent in this life. to make a difference.
and that is a good thing.

but the problem lies in the fact that i want to earn it by what i'm doing. my heart is not in the right place. i want to matter... to make a difference. but too often i want to make a difference for me. and there is a huge difference between wanting to make a name for myself, and wanting to trumpet the God that i serve.

i think it was my youth pastor who said this - if not, i know it wasn't my original idea - but whoever it was said: it doesn't matter who you are; it matters whose you are.

and we miss that.

God matters. he's the creator of this whole crazy universe we live in. and we all want to be like God. that was the very nature of the fall of man. so we've tried to take over the primary role. but most of us [at least i'm pretty sure it's not just me] want to take over and stamp our name on something and leave a legacy of ourselves.

it's not bad at all to want to matter. but if i want to matter just because it'd be nice to stroke my ego and feel all wonderfully powerful then it is nothing but stupid. period.

this weekend i was feeling bad for my stay-at-home-mom self. i was feeling all "woe is me, i'm so tired, and in the grand scheme of things i don't really make a difference." and sunday the sermon was about self-pity and how it can really screw us up and eat away at us. [insert embarassed called-out and convicted emoji here. is there one of those? anyway...]

because i wanted to matter for me. not for God. for me. but that is completely, utterly, beyond pointless. at the end of the day the heaven and earth will pass away. so even if i'm remembered for something for generations of humans my name is still not the one that matters.

so for those of you that maybe sometimes get exhausted and feel like what you're doing doesn't matter - remember that it's not about who you are, it's about whose you are. it's not about your name going forward, but His name going forward. it's about soul-saving grace. and we all need a whole lot of grace every day.

we were all created in the image of God. we all matter to him. and he calls each one of us back to himself. and he gives each one of us grace upon grace. forgiveness upon forgiveness. he is far more gracious to us than we are to ourselves, or to each other.

at the end of the day, we matter to him.
and that means we matter.

much love to you!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

they know

recently i read another blog post from a friend who described her time as a young mother as wonderful, but somewhat frustrating. it seemed like every time she awoke early to do something without her four littles hanging on her at least one of them would "know" and find her.

my experience yesterday morning fit the above sentiments to a T. it was one of those mornings when in all of my selfish human-ness i wondered if God really hears prayers because oh-my-goodness-you-have-to-be-freaking-kidding-me.

my morning started at 3 a.m. well, sort of. adele still is not actually sleeping the whole way through the night on most nights. she's not eating in the middle of the night anymore, but she persists in waking up a lot of the time. if it's after 3:30 peter will get up, but anytime before that is my window.

she woke up at 3, and hence i got up to check on her. she went back to sleep pretty quickly that first time, but from 3 to about 4:20 she was in various states of wakefulness - mostly talking happily in her crib. when she was still very awake at 4:20 [and i had slept for about 30 minutes in that almost hour and a half] i woke up peter and asked him to take a turn to give me a half hour of sleep before i needed to feed her around 5.

at this point i should probably also mention that i was planning to get up shortly after 5:00 so i could get in a brief workout and shower before keane woke up and my day with the kids officially "started"....

peter woke me just before 5:00 since adele had fallen asleep in his arms and then promptly woke up when he put her back in her crib.

i nursed her and [despite her best efforts] got her back to sleep. i headed downstairs about 5:40 to change clothes so i could get in my workout. [in all honesty, i wouldn't have worked out if i hadn't desperately needed a shower. i knew if i didn't just stay up and work out i wouldn't wake up just to shower, and i actually had to go places and see people outside of my own house.]

i was quietly grabbing workout clothes when keane's video monitor popped on. when i looked at it i realized that he wasn't just moving in his sleep, but was actually awake because he couldn't find his lovey, or his pacifier and he basically needs both to fall asleep. i headed upstairs to try to prevent him from fully waking up, got him all squared away, and put him back to sleep. or at least put him back in his bed thinking he was going to fall back asleep...

i returned back downstairs to change clothes, checked the monitor, and saw him get up again. i went up and returned him to his bed. i changed clothes and was about to throw my hair up when i saw a little head moving down the last two stairs. 

at this point peter was awake and my stern "get back in your bed" roused him from his pillow. he took the little man back up to his bed. i did manage to get in a workout and a quick shower, then as i got dressed and ready for the day i watched keane get out of his bed and back in his bed. out of his bed. back in his bed. i thought he was staying in his room as he's supposed to until i heard legos dropping between his bed and the wall. oh well. he stayed upstairs and when his light turned on [we have it on a timer to tell him when he's allowed to come downstairs] he made his way downstairs.

suffice it to say that i was completely wiped out exhausted yesterday. like wiped out and done. you know all of those thoughts that you think about yourself that you know you shouldn't think about yourself? the thought snowball when a tough night turns itself into a ruined day even though it's not really ruined, but you find yourself just kind of wanting to cry? yep. i thought all of those yesterday. 

i normally brew 4 cups of coffee in the morning and finish my mug around lunchtime. [if that on some days] yesterday i drank the first 4 cups and then brewed another 4 cups of half-caf for the afternoon. and i was still dragging even before dinnertime. 

some days are just like that. and in some ways it's frustrating to not have one stinking moment to myself - okay, miss over-dramatic - to not have more than about 30 minutes to myself over the course of about 17 hours, but it's just one day.

one day where my little loves know that i love them despite my severe shortcomings. one day when his mommy-radar went off and he just wanted to hang out with me. one day when i woke up time and again because of sweet little baby babbles. i'd be lying if i didn't say those things made me a bit miserable at the time because i was just.so.tired. but thinking about them now? now i want to remember those things. they're growing like weeds, and i'm told it only gets faster as they get older.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

my voice, his voice

i have an amazing husband, let me just tell you. we got home from church today and i told him what i would really like to do is go to starbucks and write for a bit because i haven't had much of a chance to recently. and he said "ok, when would you like to go?" just like that. no worries, no questions.

hence, i am here at starbucks pecking away on my keyboard and enjoying my chai tea latte without my beautiful babes vying for my attention.

i desperately wanted to write today because i have an ever growing list of writing prompts and subjects milling around inside of my head, and i'm afraid i'll forget every single thing i want to say about all of them if i don't start getting them down soon.

all that to say that this morning in the midst of our pastor's sermon on elijah he mentioned how God's word is the primary way that God speaks to us. and it struck me in a different way than it ever had before. the bible is God's voice.

not so strange, right? or maybe very strange depending on your perspective. but what i mean is this - i never really thought about the bible being God's voice. his word, sure, but not his voice.

the bible was written by prophets and disciples and kings. but if i really believe it was divinely inspired then the bible is also the very voice of God.

just like [okay, maybe not just like] when i write i hope that my voice comes through the page or the screen. when i write it's a way of creating something that travels through time and remains even after i'm no longer in the same state or place or potentially even here at all.

my writing is a piece of me. it doesn't encompass all of me, but it is a piece of me that i leave behind. and i hope that in that way it is a clear voice, a clear piece.

but i never thought about God's word that way. i have thought that about other authors and other essays and other stories. i have thought that about plenty of blog posts and other such writings, but never about the bible.

i think it every time i read back through my old journals, or some old blog posts. i think it every single time i read a book by anne lamott, or writing down the bones by natalie goldberg. i thought of it for every page that i read of ernest hemingway's a moveable feast. but never about the bible.

in retrospect it seems asinine and maybe even a little crazy that this is the case since i've been a christian for quite a while now, but i'm more than a little interested to see how it changes my perspective when i read the bible from here on out. when i read the voice of God spoken all of those generations ago to people who were still just people in a different time and place than now.

it changes how i think of it even in this moment because it is not so far-fetched for me to think about my voice in my writings still being my voice even if someone reads what i've written years and years from now. granted i don't really expect any of my writings to last that long, but if they do... it will still be me. even after i'm long gone.

granted, God is still around. and he always will be, but that doesn't negate the fact that his word from forever and a day ago is still his word, and still his voice, and it still speaks. and even though that can seem kind of off and crazy at times, i believe that God is God, and so he can, in his God-ness, use his word written thousands of years ago in a different time and place, to speak to me now. exactly where i am. exactly in the circumstances i'm in.

i think it's somewhat amusing that plenty of people find solace and hear and understand and take away a whole heck of a lot from great works of authors written a long, long time ago. but some of these people also think that God could not use his word to do the same thing for us.

in a strange sort of way i didn't find their perspective all that unbelievable before now. sure i thought God could speak through his word, but somehow thinking of it as his voice makes it present, not past.

but he is God after all. and all truth is his truth. and he can use that truth to speak whenever he wants. in the past, in the present, in the future.


Monday, January 26, 2015

cappuccino eyes

adele's eyes are changing color. and every time i look at her i see cappuccino eyes. deep grey-brown. the same way all that cool milk changes the look of coffee.

our little girl still wasn't sleeping well at night up until the last week or so, and even now it's only but so good. it was driving me a bit mad, if you must know. so we decided to bite the bullet and simply not feed her until at least 4:45/5:00. the first night we did this was significantly better for me because peter stuck with her through the middle of the night and comforted her over and over again to get her back to sleep. this meant that i actually slept for quite a while. once he got her back to sleep she slept until i woke her up for her new normal feeding around 8 a.m. the next night was the worst of them, but we have had one night when i put her in her bed around 10, and she slept until 5:00 all on her own. so we know she can do it.

despite her sleep troubles she has always been generally happy. her chubby little kissable cheeks form the widest smile you've ever seen time and time again - even if she's really tired. she laughs and squeals often. keane even got her laughing last sunday morning as the two of them sat on our bed while we got ready for church. i hope i remember that moment forever.

of course she does get upset sometimes. when this happens her bottom lip quivers in the most pitiable manner you've ever seen.

thus far it seems that she also got her daddy's hair, with a giant fuzzy cowlick at the top of her head. for some reason her big cappuccino eyes, and that fuzzy mohawk cowlick make me think of a precious little duckling when i look at her.

she's growing up so fast.
they both are.

adele rolled over for the first time last week - and then did it thrice more before the night was out. [yes, i really just used "thrice"] granted, she's a major daddy's girl so daddy saw her do it all four times, and mommy saw it exactly zero times. twice front to back and twice back to front. the little stinker actually waited until i walked out of the room the third time, and proceeded to immediately roll over.

i have seen it since, but i swear she was toying with me that first day.

and while it may seem insignificant keane has eaten oatmeal, yogurt, and cereal with milk over the course of the last few days, and used his spoon the entire time for all three of them. as in - without sticking his hands in it once. i'm fairly certain this has never happened before.

oh, and have i mentioned that adele has now tried green beans, squash, peas and carrots? thus far, squash is the favorite.

this time of life is crazy sometimes. okay, most of the time. it can really suck the life out of me some days. those days when i don't get dressed until 4 pm [if at all, let's be honest]. or when i think about the fact that i can count on one hand the number of nights in which i've slept for more than 6 uninterrupted hours over the past seven or eight months.

so most days i simply try not to think about it.

i'm not a proponent of ignoring problems most of the time, but since getting more sleep will simply come with time - and some focus - i prefer to not think about my current lack of it. plus, the last week or so peter has taken on the brunt of it.

little miss is 5 months old today. 5 months. all too often i feel like this time is creeping by, but now i realize just how quickly it has gone. i know that i'll never get this time back, but that's true of all of it. every moment goes by just as quickly as the last. possibly even more quickly. 

keane and i were looking through pictures from last year this morning. it's amazing how fast it went and how much has changed. in just one year. 

i feel like i've been wading through life over the past few months. even though two kids now seems normal i don't feel like i've really figured out life again. all too often i feel like i'm in over my head. i can handle it, but i don't feel like i'm doing a very good job of handling it.

lately i've realized more and more that you really never feel old enough to be where you are. at least not initially. i always thought 30 would feel different. i always thought i'd feel more capable by the time i had two kids, even though i ended up having kids later than i planned. and i think that's what people don't tell you in our "fake-it-til-you-make-it" society. 

some parts of our culture are fantastic. other parts are crap. and i want my kids to grow up knowing the difference.

anyway, that's enough disjointed thoughts for one morning... 
i hope you're enjoying your january!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

day in, day out

{via klitzklein}

i'm going to shoot straight with you today. i feel like i'm running behind. truthfully i feel that way a lot of the time now, but the last few days have kicked the feeling into overdrive.

i'm still in my pajamas. both of my [napping] children are still wearing their pajamas. we stayed in our pajamas yesterday too. why? because there is a high of 28 degrees outside so we won't be venturing out today. and we're still playing catch up from our trip to pittsburgh last week.

we got home on monday evening and i still haven't unpacked my bags. the kids are unpacked. i also managed to get the house mostly in order by yesterday, but my bags full of clothes still sit next to my dresser. right next to the used-to-be folded laundry still in the basket from before our trip.

there are days when i relish this life. and there are other days when it's just hard. and the more i think about it the more i realize that every single stage of life will have moments that just suck, and other moments that will invoke a deep nostalgia when we look back on them. 

i go up and down the step to our entryway many times each day. you can get to the kitchen in our house by going up and down the step, or around through the dining room. more often than not, i choose the step. more often than not, keane chooses the dining room. he's still working on going up and down a step without holding on to anything so he usually forgoes the step. this means that we regularly go around in circles trying to find each other. 

day in and day out we go in circles. i suspect this will happen for a while. maybe even forever.

day in and day out i go in circles of varying degrees. 

keane wakes me up. we get breakfast. i make coffee. i feed adele. he plays. she smiles. she sleeps. i heat up my coffee again. i feed adele again. i heat up my coffee. i feed keane lunch. if i'm lucky they both sleep at the same time. i eat lunch. i clean up. or write. i finally finish my coffee. i sit their monitors next to each other and listen. she wakes up. i feed her. i have a little bit of time with my girl. keane wakes up. adele goes back to sleep. keane asks for a snack. i feed adele. peter gets home from work. i make dinner. peter plays with keane. adele sleeps. we eat dinner. i feed adele. we clean the kitchen. we play with the kids. we walk the dog. keane goes to bed. [and lately, gets out of bed, is put back in bed, gets out of bed, is put back in bed, gets out of bed and cracks the door, is put back in bed....] i feed adele. we talk. i put adele to sleep. then we sleep. adele wakes me up to eat. i feed her. i sleep.
keane wakes me up.

around and around we go again.

in the meantime i try to stay on top of laundry and keep the house relatively clean. [relative to an actual pig-sty - let's not kid ourselves.]

i have also been reading anne lamott's newest book small victories, and trying to improve my french learning through an app called duolingo. i pick up a magazine every now and then and make it about two sentences into an article before i'm interrupted by one of two little voices.

i think about running far more than i actually do it right now. i think about writing. i write great books in my head, but they rarely [okay, never] make it through the keys or pen onto anything that will last more than a millisecond.

when i read anne lamott i often start writing like her. i still have my voice, but i also like hers. and i sprinkle little bits of it into my own narrative. when i read her books i feel like we could be best friends because she's so honest about her life and i feel like i'm right there experiencing the moments with her. and i want to write that way. 

i want to have friends i've never met who know the story i'm living. 
day in, day out.

i want people to know who i am through my writing. who i really am. without pretense or excuses.

despite the circular nature of my days i do have goals for this year. i have running goals. house goals. goals to simplify. writing goals. work goals. goals about finances. goals for my kids. [calm down - these are not crazy vicarious hopes that i'm hanging on them, but more things like: getting adele to sleep through the night; and definitively teaching keane that it is imperative to his well-being for him to both stay in his bed after bedtime, and to not bite people.]

so i keep pressing on. day in, day out. 
moving the needle.

how is your beginning?