Monday, March 13, 2017

it's not about what you want.

i read an article a couple of weeks ago that brought up a good point. i had thought about it before, but not in the way it was presented. the premise is basically this: it's not about what you want for your life; it's about how much pain you're willing to go through to get there.

we tend to think about the end, not the process. we think about what we want, and expect to have it in two weeks or less. and really the question we should ask ourselves is not what we want, but what it will take to get there. we should ask ourselves: how much pain am i willing to put myself through to get where i want to go?

because it will take work. it will take pushing through some kind of pain. and most people don't really want it enough to go through the pain of it. most of us don't love the process enough.

for me? there are certain processes i really legitimately enjoy that a lot of people don't. for instance: i enjoy working out. i enjoy the process. some days more than others, but i actually need to work out a bunch of times a week so i don't go crazy. i'm one of those weirdos who enjoys pushing myself to the brink.

and writing. frankly, i haven't put the time in to be a great writer. i get distracted from blog posts far too easily - it's a challenge to make it through any one no matter how much time i think i've given myself. {granted, some of that has to do with my children waking up, and waking up again, and waking up again... but the point still stands}

to get good at something, really good, you have to put in the time and the effort. if i really hate the process to get somewhere i probably won't see it through. i can love the dream of the life i would have if only i could get there, but if i can't survive the pain it takes to get there, then i won't do it. period.

in our culture we tend to think that it's just about what we want. it's about dreaming big enough dreams, and chasing them. but we oversimplify the chasing part. we try to make the process of getting there shorter than it is. we read the book of the guy who made it, and suddenly the process didn't take ten years - it took 50 pages. he has gone from relative obscurity to fame in an afternoon.

noting all of that i have started asking myself: what would i do anyway? van gogh painted for his entire life. a life in which he sold basically no paintings. a life during which he wondered if his paintings would ever be worth something more than the price of the paint it took to paint them.

{found via pinterest from tumblr}

van gogh painted anyway. he was a starving artist who only had his day after he was gone from this world. but he painted anyway.

no, i don't think i'm van gogh. but what do i do anyway? what do you do anyway? and frankly, what are we trying to gain by all of this striving?

ecclesiastes tells us that we're simply striving after wind. we're striving after happiness, which is basically the same thing.

God made us who we are, but it's not about me. and that's the part that i miss every day, over and over again. because who i am in Him is whom i really am. who i am in Him is whom i was created to be. every time i try to make it about me and my striving, and my anything is when it all falls apart.

yes, i am an active participant. yes, i was made with strengths and weaknesses. yes, i have certain gifts and talents. but it's not about me.

am i willing to walk the path that follows him even if it doesn't get me anything on this earth? i can't take any of it with me anyway.

ask the questions: what kind of pain do i withstand anyway? how am i wired? because those questions are really asking: how did God make me? how can i best serve him?

it's not about what you want.

we think we'll be fulfilled by trying to put ourselves first and foremost. but we're called to love God with all that we are. we're called to love our neighbors as ourselves.

none of those things constitute bringing glory to ourselves. none of those things make life about ME.
but i try to usurp life all the time. i try to make it primarily about me when it was never meant to be that way.

so, how does God want to use me? what kind of pain has he made me to be able to withstand? what about you? what would you do anyway?


Saturday, February 11, 2017

growing up

{found via pinterest from interiorguide}

the last few days i've been all over the place. not physically, but actually. my head has been spinning on its axis.

this morning i pulled up my quotables page on pinterest to find the above quote about growing up being a trap, and i found myself comforted in the smallest way. because i didn't find what i was looking for right away, but instead i found all of these quotes that i've saved because they resonated with my soul. and i needed to remind myself of many of those things. the profound ones, the funny ones, the hard ones.

i've had writer's block like you wouldn't believe {unless you're a writer, of course} over the last few weeks, and it has driven me just short of mad. i sit down at the keyboard, and my fingers stop. or one of my littles wakes up earlier than normal, and i can hardly even start. 

when i have the words in my head, i have no time, and when i have the time, i have no words. 

i feel like i have nothing to say that actually matters right now. i've been spinning my wheels lately. i know this is a season of life, but i wonder if what i'm doing actually matters. and i want to start something else that has been weighing on me, but i'm scared to start it because i don't want to fail. i also don't want to half-ass it, or bite off more than i can chew, or add to the noise without saying anything new or helpful.

growing up is a trap. you think it's going to be great because you can make all of your own decisions and decide what you want to eat for dinner, and what you want to buy, and when to go to bed. you can decide how late you want to stay out at night and no one tells you what to do anymore. your life is your own - except that it's not.

there is this little thing lurking inside of there called responsibility. you are responsible for your own self. for your own decisions. for your own actions. for your own bills. for making all of your own appointments and phone calls. for putting food on the table, and keeping a roof over your head. and sometimes you're responsible for other tiny humans {or not-so-tiny-anymore ones} too. making someone else cover for your irresponsibility is incredibly selfish. {i should know. i've been the selfish one a few too many times.}

and now those things that could've been when you were growing up suddenly fit into the category of should be. that's the hard part. we get to this grown-up place and we can become disenchanted with life. it's not always some beautiful, sparkling thing. it has lost its shine, and its promise with it.

and now that we've reached this sunshiny place where dreams go to die, allow me to digress.

this is not to say that everything is terrible. it just means we have poor expectations. we've been told since forever that we should follow our hearts and our dreams. we should follow our passion. but that doesn't always put food on the table or money in the bank.

but life isn't just about work in the traditional sense of the word. not in the sense of vocation. we are multi-faceted people. too often we take what we do and assume that's who we are. we make that assumption about other people, and we believe it about ourselves. but it's not true.

and part of growing up is learning that people are not only what we see. growing up means learning how to take on someone else's perspective, and that is a really hard thing to do even without living in a world that tells us we should focus on ourselves first and most.

despite the fact that growing up really is a trap we're all bound for it sometime whether we want to or not.

so let's not forget that there are good things about it too. some days it's easy to forget how much we longed to be old enough to do __________. how much we wanted to control our own schedules and not have to answer to anyone. too often we miss out on things because we're not willing to throw out a challenge to the system. we're not willing to come up with a different solution.

how do we change that? how do we make growing up feel less like a trap? how can we solve problems instead of adding to the mess? how can we shift our mindsets to complain less, and give thanks for what is while working toward something better?

i think a big part of it is learning. learning how to think and how to have discussions with people. with real people - not people behind another screen that aren't really people in our minds. we need to live in communities. communities that go back to the root. we need to commune with each other. really, truly, and actually come together with other people we can trust without pretense.

we need to have people that we can say - i was a really crappy mom today. people with whom we can share our struggles. the real struggles, and all the struggles, not just the respectable ones.

we have gained a whole lot of screens, and lost contact with each other. {and yes, i recognize the hypocrisy since the only way to write this, and the only way for you to read it are to stare at some screens...}

on that note - let's all go find some 3 dimensional people to hang out with! let me know if you're around and want to be one of my people today. we can all grow up and solve the world's problems together.

happy weekending!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

sequin pants.

{found via pinterest from riches for rags}

i just cleaned out my closet again. the need for a clean-out hit me as i put away all of my clean laundry a week or two ago. i looked at all of my clothes and started thinking - do i really wear that? do i really need that? more than ever before i want to pare down again and again and again until i'm left with the things i really love that i also actually wear.

i only miss one pair of pants that i gave away last year when i marie kondo-ed my closet. i don't miss them because i wore them often, but just because i loved them.

i've started thinking even more seriously about the amount of stuff we have, and how much time i spend cleaning things up on a daily basis. i've started thinking about our plan to eventually live in a tiny house. about our plan to travel much more when our kids get a little older.

i've started thinking: if i only have a tiny closet inside a tiny house, what do i want in it? ie: what can i just go ahead and get rid of now?

and i've realized that many of the things i want to keep don't really make sense in a "wear neutrals," "wear things that always go together" type of world. because near the top of my list of keepers? two pairs of sequin pants.

yep. two pairs.
{much to the dismay of my husband.}

i'm a big fan of both of them, and the funny thing is - other people are too. i get more positive comments about those pants than i do about any other piece i wear. the latest example happened on christmas eve. a guy briefly interrupted my conversation with a friend in a coffee shop to tell me that he liked my christmas-y pants.
that doesn't ever happen in jeans.

many of my other favorites are not-exactly-neutral things. like my bright yellow shoes from the now-defunct shoemint. but they fit so well, and i'm so in love with them that i'll probably throw out traditional black pumps before i'll do away with them. {come to think of it, i never wear my plain black pumps anymore...}

sure i have basics, but they aren't my favorite pieces. they aren't like the french blue jumpsuit that i have. the one that i loved so much i had it altered to fit while both kids were stuck in a double stroller for far longer than they wanted to be. {don't worry - i paid them in chicken nuggets afterwards.}

i really do enjoy clothes. i love the stories behind them, and how they can change your whole outlook on any given day.

but just like anything else - they can take away more than they add if you don't keep them in their proper place.

i've been really convicted lately about how much i have. because when i compare how much i have to how much i actually need?
the difference is staggering.

plus there's that whole question of who makes my clothes, and how much they get paid, and where are the materials sourced from?

the questions that have me seeking out alternatives to my old favorites. i'm an extremely loyal person, and i don't like seeking out alternatives. i don't like abandoning my old stand-bys. but at the end of the day if i say i believe something i have to decide if i really believe it, and act according to those beliefs.

it's that whole "actions speak louder than words" thing.

for instance - i haven't shopped at anthropologie or j. crew in months and months because no matter how much i love their clothes they cannot track their supply chain. they have not made themselves transparent as companies.

anthropologie is my favorite store. my absolute favorite. but i cannot bring myself to shop there until they can tell me who makes the clothes that they sell for a huge profit.

granted it's easier for me to say that right now when i have a back-log of anthro clothes that's probably a mile long. but still. i cannot bring myself to buy any more. {i cannot even walk in there because i know how much harder it'd be to refrain from buying anything.}

in the midst of my researching, and generally not being able to get this whole "you should care about the people behind your clothes" thing out of my head - i've discovered a site called project just. they've done a lot of research into this topic, and are a really helpful resource. granted, they need funding so you can only see a few store pages a month unless you pay for more, but it's something i'm considering paying for because i can't shake my conscience on this issue.

because people are people. if people work in deplorable conditions to make the clothes i put on my back then i can no longer feel okay wearing them. and since many companies choose ignorance when it comes to their supply chain the likelihood of those types of conditions goes through the roof.

far too often money speaks louder than conscience.

but i digress. because i don't really need more clothes anyway.


Friday, January 6, 2017

the art of failing

i constantly feel like i'm failing. constantly. there's always more to do. more to accomplish. more to be.

part of what's taken the hit in all the busyness of late is my writing. there was so much going on over the holidays that i rarely got enough sleep, and thus didn't wake up as early to write. {my lovely bout of strep throat about a week before christmas certainly didn't help either.} now i'm just getting back into the habit of waking up before the kids to get my thoughts down.

i feel off because i haven't written as much. i feel less connected to myself. yet the reasons i haven't written are good ones.

i constantly choose between good things. i don't have time for all the things. recently peter and i have talked about margin. {there's that word again} what would give us more margin in our lives? my answer: less responsibilities. but in a culture that praises busyness it's difficult to shed responsibilities.

do i want my house to be somewhat organized? my kids to be healthy? us to be healthy? my family to eat well? to make a difference in my world?
i'll need 30 hours/day, please.

there are a lot of things i want to do. a lot. and every single last one of them takes time.

some days i wonder what my life would be like now if i had pursued a career. if we had moved somewhere else. if. if. if. it's not that i'm upset with where we are, i just wonder how things would be if i had done things differently. i wonder most on the hard days.

but it does no one any good to wonder. i look at the world that "might have been" with rose-colored glasses. no matter what path you choose there are hard days. nothing is perfect. no one is perfect. and perfectionism is a b. believe me, i've lived with it long enough to know.

i'm still learning how to fail up. part of the problem is that i hate failing. really, really hate it. i hate the gut twisting feeling that goes with it. the shame of failing. i hate it. i know it takes a few knocks to get things right sometimes, but i'm no good at taking them if i'm not on a soccer field.

some days i have to stop myself and think - what's the worst that could likely happen in this situation? because most of the time it's really not that bad.

but i don't even like writing about failure. even when it sounds much better - the art of failing. because it is an art to fail up. to fail well, and make it less of a true failure. but i still shy away from it. people don't like thinking about failure, much less make it an art form. so why write about it?

this draft has been on my list for a few months now. sitting and mocking me. i failed to finish a post on failure. seriously ridiculous.

but how do you fail up? sometimes i'm not entirely sure. but i think the biggest thing is to learn all you can from it, and keep on going despite it.

i tend to shy away from failure even after it has happened. i don't want to think about it. i don't want to dwell on it. but there is a difference between dwelling on it and using it - dissecting it and learning from it and putting into practice what you learned.

changing. using it to change for the better.

change is hard, but it happens whether we acknowledge it and purposefully do it, or simply let it happen.

i've failed a lot in my life. i'm sure i'll fail plenty more.
it's about time i started making it an art form.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

a year of margin

{found via pinterest from flickr}

happy new year, friends.
i hope it is for you.

this year was the first year in recent memory that i did not greet the new year at its moment of inception. i went to bed. i figured it would come whether i was there to greet it or not.

i'm not quite sure how three full days have passed since then, but somehow they have, and i'm moving right along with them.

as we traveled back from pittsburgh on monday we discussed some big things for this year. not exactly resolutions, but reflections on what we've been doing, and what we plan to do as things shift in various areas of our life. {how's that for vague?}

the biggest idea overall is that of margin. having margin. having a buffer. banishing busyness - especially busyness for the sake of busyness. because all that does is stress me out, and what's the point?

we're trying to pare down without losing much. sounds paradoxical, but in many ways we're gaining. we're gaining time if we do it right. we spend so much time taking care of the things we don't really need. far too often i waste my life with maintenance. maintaining things that don't really matter, that don't add much to anyone's life. yes, some maintenance is necessary and will always be there, but if i have to spend more time maintaining it than enjoying it is it really worth it?

i'd much rather spend time doing the things that matter. {wouldn't we all?} i want to read and think and write instead of watch. i want to have conversations instead of simply exchanging information. i want to make time for family and friends first, and then schedule the other things. i want to live purposefully. i want to recognize where i'm in control, and where it is out of my hands so i stop trying to change the things beyond my level of influence.

i don't want to live my life in fear of failing. i want to fail up when i do fail {because i will}. there are a lot of abstract things i want to do. and it's really easy to just say i want them - to wax eloquent {or try} - and then keep on doing the things that i've been doing. to keep doing the things that lead me away from where i want to be.

change is hard. habits are hard to break, but they're also hard to make.

slowing down is a habit. it's an extremely tough habit in a world that tells us we have to chase after things to gain happiness. we forget that happiness is a by-product of how we live our lives.

i'm still figuring out what all of this looks like going forward. i think we all are. we like to think we can wrap things up, but life keeps on going until it doesn't. it's all a process, and it's always in process. we never arrive. i have to keep on keeping on because c'est la vie.

so instead of wrapping this up nice and tight i'm just going to let it be for once.

much love to you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

a century

my grammy would have turned 100 today. it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday morning, and i realized all over again that she was gone.

i remember calling her a little over ten years ago, and reminding her that she had a "big birthday coming up." because ninety is pretty big. and without pausing she responded, "i have a big birthday coming up in ten years."

here i sit though, ten years later, with a palpable void of no one to call in this quiet morning - 100 years in the making. {granted, she never would have been awake at 6 a.m. so i couldn't have called her now anyway.}

but i can hear the joy in her voice as she talks to my children, and tells them she loves them. the children she never got to meet.
even so, i can hear them sing happy birthday to her, and picture her face with the gleam of contented love and pride in her eyes as she listens.

i really thought she'd make it to 100. i think we all did up until the end.

and if i had to guess i think grammy would have said that the secret to a long and healthy life is to love God and love others, to daily drink a lot of coffee plus a glass or two of wine, and to do it yourself if you can.

if you told her not to, she wanted to do it all the more.

one day when i was in college she told me she liked my watch. "my mother didn't approve of watches," she said. "she didn't think i should have a watch, or a black dress. so, do you know what i did? the day i got my first paycheck i walked out of there, and i went and bought a black dress and a wristwatch."

in the laughter following that moment my tendencies made a lot more sense.

and she loved high heels. she couldn't wear them anymore for most of the time i was alive, but she loved them. one christmas eve when i was in college she came to church with us. as we carefully picked our way back to the car through a snowy parking lot she looked at my 4 inch heels and said, "you be careful not to break your ankle in those things, but oh i envy you."

there is a pair of black and white shoes that i have that i will keep always. i wore them to her funeral because i knew she would have loved them. i wore them when our son was baptized because they reminded me of her, and i wanted her to be there in some small way.

despite her contentedness with her life it always felt a little bit like the world wasn't quite big enough to hold her. she was as feisty as they come - not walking with the walker they gave her if she was just going one room over, insisting on moving the step stool and putting her coffee in the microwave herself despite the repeated instruction not to do so. feeding the dog reese's cups multiple times a day simply because annie wanted one, and who cares that she wasn't supposed to?

she was so proud of her family. she loved her kids. she loved her grandkids. she was over the moon about her great-grandkids. i wish she could have known mine.

i wish i could have a cup of coffee with her today, and kiss her wrinkled cheek, and tell her how grateful i am that she made it to her "big" birthday.
but i am still grateful.

i am grateful for the many things she taught me. i am grateful for the 92 years of life she had. i am grateful for the feistiness and the love of shoes she passed on to me. i am grateful for how she loved me always. i am grateful that she was always on my side even when she wasn't.

i am grateful for all that i have, and all that i am because of her.
happy birthday grammy.
i love you.


Sunday, November 13, 2016


i'm just going to write and see where it takes me. i've had so many thoughts tumbling around inside my head this week, and i don't even know how to express them. this will likely be a jumbled mess if it comes out as anything at all.

we are so broken. every. last. one. of. us.
and i think if we were able to grasp that a little bit better as a whole society, then we would be able to make strides we never thought possible.

there's a saying in psychology: hurt people, hurt people. and it's so true. and there are a lot of hurting and broken people in the world. really, i think all of us would fall into that category.

it's the nature of the human race.

in this country this week there has been a whole lot of name-calling. there has been a whole lot of anger. there has been a whole lot of fear.

leading up to this election has been a hideous time. a gut & heart-wrenching time. and the end of it has not amounted to anything different.

i think everyone is scared and worried about the state of our country. we are coming to a place of fear and hurt on all sides, but for different reasons. and frankly, i think that fear is justifiable. the fear on both sides.

but we don't have to live there.

we do need to find a way to live with each other.

it breaks my heart that people see christians as hateful. it breaks my heart that people see christians as people who are against a whole lot, but not for much.

because as christians, we are called to love God, and to love others.
we are called to love our enemies. we are called to love.

and i need to have the guts to look in the mirror and recognize the hypocrite staring back at me. because i am one. i do not live out my values perfectly. some days i don't even live them out well. too often i don't love God with all that i am. if i did i would also love others well, because loving others - ALL others - as myself is what loving God would lead me to do.

let he who's without sin cast the first stone.

we cannot spout love, and then spew hate from the same fountain.

i have not listened well to those around me. i have not shut my mouth, opened my ears, and sought to understand people wholly different from myself. not very often.

i have made my circle too small, too insular, too homogenous.

we all need to stop blame-shifting and pushing responsibility off on someone else. we all need to step up, and be accountable for the ways we have fallen short. because we have all fallen short.

we need to be able to disagree with each other, but actually understand the other side.
we need to have conversations instead of debates.

and we all need to add a big spoonful of humility into our coffee in the morning alongside the cream. i should not assume that my perspective is always right just because it's what's inside my head. everyone brings their own experiences and pre-conceived notions with them into every situation. we need to bring some grace too.

how often do i give people the benefit of the doubt? how often do i seek to understand before i seek to be heard?

i've been struck by how much i need to pray for others this week. people that agree with me, and people that do not. people i see every day, and people whom i have never met.

i trust that God is in control. i am thankful that he still holds the world in his hands. but i do not say that flippantly. because i believe God holds the world in his hands. i believe he is in control of this country, and this world.

but others do not believe that. and i'm heartbroken enough at how people have turned on each other even with the hope and belief that i have. what must it be like for those who have put their complete hope in their choice of government leader? it has got to be utterly devastating. absolutely devastating.

we have to have the courage to meet people where they are. we need to climb down into the depths of their despair with them, and give them a hand up whether we agree with why they're despairing or not. when one is despairing that is their reality - meeting them where they are means understanding where they are, whether we think they should be there or not does not change where they are.
it's what the God of the universe did for us.
how can we pretend that it's not our role to do the same for others?

above all else this week i have been struck by how i have fallen short. how i need to take more responsibility for doing what God has called me to do. i have been struck by my failings, and by how thankful i am for the hope that i have despite those failings.

how can i better meet others where they are?
by going to where they are.
at the end of the day, it really is that simple.