Day 24: New Paint, New Start (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsWhen it came time to move last month, the whole process turned into a crazy whirlwind, the kind I’d hoped to avoid. In a very last minute turn of events, we ended up with a house that was not exactly what I hoped for. To be more precise, it was pretty ugly.

It’s an old home, and it needs a lot of updating. But it’s also a rental, so we don’t want to sink a lot of money into it. Still, we’re going to be here at least a year, so I’d rather not hate looking at it the entire time.

This weekend, my parents helped us buy paint, and then my dad spent his Saturday painting with us while my mom and brother kept the kids. (Can I mention here how grateful I am for my family? They’re the best!) While we still have a bit more to do, the contrast is already amazing. It’s fresh. It’s clean. Even though there are elements we won’t be able to do anything about while we’re here, I already feel so much more settled.

I hugged my dad tonight and told him tomorrow will be the first time in a month that I am excited to wake up in this house. Tomorrow, I’ll unpack my books and we’ll start putting things on the wall. Tomorrow, maybe this transition will start to feel less overwhelming and this place will start feeling more like home.

It seems crazy that something as simple as paint could make such a difference. I’m reminded that sometimes we complicate things. Maybe there is one simple step we need to take, just one, that can begin to shift things. Maybe the entire solution isn’t obvious in front of us, but one step could be enough to set the ball in motion.

What frustration have you been facing? Is there one thing you could do to push back and start the shift you are longing for?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Hope

Day 23: Self-Care (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsWe have to take care of ourselves. It has been such a long process for me to learn this. What is it for us, especially as women, that struggles so much with this concept? Why do we feel guilty? Why do we feel that we have to prove our toughness? (Ok, so that one is a loaded question with complex layers of answers.)

Equally hard has been learning that the way you need to take care of you may not be the same as the way I need to take care of me. There’s a significant amount of listening to ourselves—our own unique hearts and souls, the unique message the Spirit is  breathing into each one of us.

In many ways, I’ve gotten better about this, especially when, as a mother, I realized I would never be able to properly care for my kids if I wasn’t caring for me too. But sometimes, I still forget. I push too hard. I carry too much. And then I get knocked down hard.

I’m dealing with my second round of sickness within a month’s time, which is pretty unusual for me. I forgot to take care of me during the crazy, and now I’m paying for it with a struggling body and discouraged soul. But I’m thankful for the deluge of rain being dumped on our area this weekend. It is forcing me to slow down, to listen to what I need, to do something about it.

How can you take care of yourself this weekend?

1 Comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Healing

Day 22: The Sound of Rain (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Milada Vigerova/Unsplash

Milada Vigerova/Unsplash

They said on the news something about it being 30 days or so since we’ve had rain. The dry, cracked ground and the browning grass bear witness to this.

So when the clouds started rolling in last night, it was hard to do anything beside peer up at the sky, waiting for the first drop. All through the day and into the evening, we waited.

And then it came, pouring down in a gentle cascade.

I realize then how my soul also bears witness to the dryness, to the immense thirst. I realize because of the relief that floods through my core as I stand at the window, now spattered with drops.

Sometimes I am so thirsty. I am waiting for heaven to pour out so I can open wide and drink deep. I want to gulp in the substance that will sustain life in me. I am staring at the sky.

The sound of rain is the whisper of hope that, just as the rains come in season, so my heart will be flooded with what it needs, at exactly the right time.

Now, the rain falls. Now, my heart waits. And hopes.

Leave a comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Faith, Hope

Day 21: The Hard Days (31 Days of Simple Truths)

31daysOfSimpleTruthsSo, I read this post from Lisa-Jo Baker tonight and promptly dissolved into tears.

This has been a ROUGH parenting week. And it’s only Wednesday (Lord, have mercy on my soul!). It’s one of the those weeks where I feel like I’m screwing everything up and utterly failing at motherhood. How on earth will I ever prepare these little humans (who I so fiercely love and who are so fiercely making me want to pull my hair out right now) for life? How can I possibly do this when I feel so unprepared myself? When I mess up on the very thing I was just trying to teach them?

There are a lot of moms in my life who make me feel insecure, but really it’s my own fault for falling into the comparison trap. What I want more than anything is to be fully confident that we are doing the best we can for our kids, and it really doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. We’re not responsible for their families, only ours.

I am the worst about admitting when I am un-fine. And I am definitely guilty of finding something to criticize about other mothers so I can feel like I’ve got some edge up on someone, somewhere. I try really hard to reserve these thoughts for strangers, not friends, as if somehow that makes it better. (Um, no. I promise to encourage the next stranger-mom I’m tempted to criticize in my head.)

Sometimes I am afraid to voice the struggles because I’ve heard single or newly married friends say that all the honest, tell-it-how-it-is mommy blogs out there have made them terrified to ever have children. I get this. I have kids and it scares me that some day I might refer to them as chaos-causing little monsters who are turning our home into a frightening, trashed-out wasteland. At what point do we lose our minds and cross that line? Please, God, don’t let it happen to me!

But no, it doesn’t have to be that way. Because my kids most certainly aren’t monsters and they are most definitely treasures. Still, it’s hard right now. Really, really hard.

But first I am reminded that I am not alone. And then I’m reminded that suffering in silence is no good for anyone, ever. And finally, I’m comforted by suddenly recalling a conversation I had at the beginning of September with a sweet couple, now retired and in their 70s. They raised a few kids and lived to tell about it. I shared with them about our upcoming move and other changes on the horizon, and the man smiled at me, eyes twinkling, as he said, “This is a season for surviving. Some seasons are just like that, when surviving doesn’t mean you’re failing and barely scraping by, but it means you’re do something right and pulling the family through a hard place. There will be time for establishing standards, raising the bar a little, but right now, you just have to survive and keep loving each other through it. And that’s ok.”

So I take a deep breath, maybe shed a few more tears, and maybe a few more tomorrow too. But it’s ok. Because we are surviving, and this too shall pass. And we’ll be a healthier family on the other side of it.

Leave a comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Family, Parenting

Day 20: Date Night (31 Days of Simple Truths)

11754258_1015529725157840_5212034767194997025_n

(Obviously, we’re not watching NCIS here. But we’re cute anyway!)

Tuesday nights are probably my favorite night of the week.

My husband and I have been fans of the show NCIS for all of our marriage. He actually introduced me to it on the flight home from our honeymoon—awwww! It’s been our weekly ritual for our entire marriage (except during the summer, the annual State of the Union address, a few random by-weeks, and severe weather tracking—so sad, although we do have a funny story about the weather tracking one. Maybe another time!).

But there was a small wrench in the plan once we had kids who were big enough to not sleep through the whole thing or go to bed at 7pm. It’s not a kid-friendly show.

Separately from that, we were living far from family, he was working crazy hours, finances were strained to the max, and date nights were extremely rare.

So Tuesday nights became our thing. We told the kids that we needed a stay-at-home date night. They would have to go to their beds early, but they could have books, coloring things and a toy or two until we came to tell them “lights out.”

We fiercely protect this time. No, we cannot do anything else on Tuesday nights! And we try to make it special—a bottle of wine, a special dessert, a pint of ice cream, or even a cup of tea. It’s a chance to laugh together, to just be, to not feel the weight of all the hard, life, grown-up things.

And this I know for sure, relationships—any relationship, but especially marriage—take some creativity in order to maintain connection through every hurdle that manages to line up in front of us. It is worth the effort, and it is definitely worth prioritizing.

What relationship needs a little creativity from you these days?

As a weird sort of P.S.: Over the past few weeks of this NCIS season, I’ve noticed that the vast majority of the commercials during the show are aimed at senior citizens. What does this say about Jonathan and me? Are we watching an old people show? Are we old? No one told me! Oh well! We love Gibbs!

Leave a comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Marriage, Parenting

Day 19: Kitchen Therapy (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Food Network's image of the cookies we made. I forgot to flatten mine slightly, but they still came out good, just probably a little more chewy.

Food Network’s image of the cookies we made. I forgot to flatten mine slightly, but they still came out good, just probably a little more chewy.

In spite of my best efforts to slow down and take my time, most days I feel like I end up in a hurry. It’s a race against time to squeeze in all the things that need to be done. I tend to be a more task-oriented person. I used to be feel guilty about this, but that fades more and more all the time, mainly because the world would never get anything done without people like me in it!

Still, especially when it comes to my family, I have to be very intentional about slowing down and letting the moments of connection take higher priority over the to do list. And one of the things that helps me make that happen is cooking.

If I’m in the kitchen, inevitably one or both of the kids want to come help. Or even if they don’t want to help, they tend to gravitate into the room anyway, a coloring book or toy in hand. They’ll sit on the floor and chatter away to me while I do my best to not trip on them or spill anything on them. I love it.

On top of that, cooking forces me to slow down. There are so many things in the kitchen that simply won’t turn out right if you try to rush them. Things like kneading bread or even making mayonnaise (SO easy! Who knew?) become holy moments as I take a deep breath and let go of all the other things begging for my attention to simply focus on the task in front of me.

And whatever’s happening, whoever is gathered, you can be sure there are taste testers always at the ready. So we linger, munching bread or cookies fresh from the oven, getting a spoon to dip into that sauce, sniffing the spices to see what else we should add. It is sacred and nourishing, not only to our bodies, but to our souls as well.

We made these cookies tonight (again!) and this time added 1/4 t. of ground cloves as well. Perfection!

Leave a comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Cooking, Family, Foodie Fun

Day 18: Holding Hope (31 Days of Simple Truths)

Image: Autumn Mott/Unsplash

Image: Autumn Mott/Unsplash

Tonight, my words are few.

I’m aching and weary in my body from sleeping in a tent all weekend. I’m aching and weary in my soul from allowing myself a little bit of space and time to feel the magnitude of loss and uncertainty stirred up by our recent transition.

But I’m also reminded that my word for this year is redemption. All things new. And sometimes in order for all things to be made new, some things have to die. Isn’t that the lesson the seasons teach us? Isn’t autumn about the beauty of releasing the dead things, to lay down the burden in preparation for deep rest and new life?

So tonight, I offer you the words I am whispering to myself: Choose hope. Even in the dark, even in the land of question marks, choose hope. And keep your eyes open for redemption.

Leave a comment

Filed under 31 Days of Simple Truths, Change, Hope