What Moving Is Like…So Far

A friend asked me last week, “so what has moving been like?”

I am only a few months into the “change your whole life” process, but here are a few bullet points about the experience so far.

Moving has caused some shifts in my identity.  It has changed my long-term plans, my job (I am not teaching this summer and have no teaching job lined up for the fall either), my sense of stability in and support from my community, and my day-to-day life substantially.

When we first moved here, David had to hit the ground running for his job, and worked a LOT.  Things have calmed down, but throughout March/April, I spent many days entirely alone with only the girls and an hour or two with David to keep me “company.”  I had to take responsibility for having some social interaction by calling friends or family members, going to the park even though it was freezing and starting conversations with random people, and being so friendly it was borderline socially awkward.  I joined a small group boot camp class, which included Burpees (ugh) but helped me get social interaction with the same people 2x/week, and I have some friends now, but I literally haven’t been home this many evenings in a row since elementary school.

When you think of yourself as an active part of a social community, a friend, a teacher, AND a mom, and spend your days and nights accordingly…and then switch to spending 90% of your time with your kids without an outlet for some of those other parts of yourself, your identity shifts.  It’s NOT bad.  It’s not something to resent or rail against.  It’s just different, and honestly, challenging in a good way, as I have to remind myself that my value is found in being a child of God–not in any of the roles/identities I play.

I’m trying to take this time as a gift, savor the opportunities to really dive in deep with my kids, learn what I can from the experience, be friendly, be curious, and be expectant that God will provide. Who knows what opportunities will emerge…and in the meantime,  I am thankful for the character building and personal growth.  (And hey! More time/mental energy to blog!)

Moving has made life calmer (at least temporarily).  Before we moved, I felt like our pace of life was borderline stressful.  I was always intentionally trying to calm it down and create more balance. Now, life is very calm.  🙂

Somehow I still can’t find time to do laundry though…

I know this will likely change as we build more relationships and as Zoe gets into elementary school, but the overall pace of life is slower here, and I think the life we build here will be calmer and slower too as a result.

Moving has made our family stronger.  I LOVE my little family, and I am proud of what we have done together.  We are a tighter-knit unit because we have HAD to spend more time together—we don’t know anyone else! We have had to be flexible and make new situations work (we lived in four houses in three months).  IMG_3643We arrived during a cold, rainy season in a small town and had to find the joy in rainy day hikes, family movies, and making cookies together, because we couldn’t figure out what else to do with ourselves. In Florida, we had a constant roster of activities and friends keeping us busy; I feel like we have better discovered how to make our own fun, and I’m really proud of us for learning how to be more intentional and creative.

IMG_4624.JPGMoving has let us have new adventures! Everything (even a trip to a new grocery store) is an adventure when you’re trying it for the first time. We are having a blast exploring the beauty of our new state. IMG_3594.JPGIMG_4620.JPGIMG_4626.JPGIMG_4632.JPGIMG_4636IMG_4542.JPGIMG_4556.jpgIMG_4638.JPGIMG_4634.JPGMoving has made me even more grateful for the friends I left behind.  Like I said, I am making friends here, but the high point of my day is often talking with friends from back home.  I am so grateful for these wonderful friends, and look forward to visiting Florida in August for a girls’ beach weekend.

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Day in the Life: Summer Edition

Hello again!

Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about my last blog post.  I loved all your nice texts and comments, and I really enjoyed sitting down and writing, so here I go again! 🙂

I used to write “day in the life” posts every three months when Zoe was little.  I stopped writing them when Riley came along, because I couldn’t figure out how to take pictures without someone dying.  Now that Zoe is no longer attempting to murder her sister every 20 minutes, I thought it would be fun to capture a “day in the life” in our new context.

So without further ado, here’s a Thursday, 8 days into summer break (but who’s counting?! #me), with an almost-4-year old and a 5.5 year old, in a semi-rural suburb in North Carolina!

PS…I never got a chance to do my Bible study on this day, but I certainly reflected on scripture throughout the day, which I have included.

5:36: “Her children arise and call her blessed.” (Proverbs 31:28). Actually, they arise and immediately demand things, but some day…some day…

I make Zoe a bowl of oatmeal and myself a cup of tea, and begin reading the latest Kylie Jean book out loud.

Within 15 minutes, Riley is awake.  We go through our daily ritual: she tells me that she peed in her Pullup, she asks to watch a show (denied every time, but points for persistence), and she reminds me that she doesn’t want milk in her cereal.

6:30: We have finished two chapters of Kylie Jean.  Zoe and Riley have “finished” “eating” and scampered off to the playroom with their BFF, Daddy, for some Anna and Elsa play.  I seize my moment and plate two hardboiled eggs, a piece of toast, and some strawberries, reading a few pages of my book as I eat. Then I clean up everyone’s food and sweep the kitchen.

7:15: “Meaningless! Meaningless…Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? All things are wearisome, more than one can say.” (from Ecclesiastes 1). It’s laundry time!

7:20: David begins running on the treadmill in the garage. I’m folding laundry. “Mom! You want to hear us play.” MORE THAN ANYTHING.

IMG_4068Zoe also insisted that I take a video of her performance, but mercifully I do not know how to insert it into this blog post.

I fold and put away laundry for about 25 minutes, strip the beds, make them with new sheets, put MORE laundry in the washer/dryer, then help Zoe and Riley clean their rooms.

8:30: I’m trying to preserve my sanity throughout the summer by exercising for some length of time most days. Today, I have time for a 30 minute, 2.6 mile walk through our neighborhood (which is hilly, beautiful, and safe.  I LOVE walking here)!

IMG_4071.JPGI listen to a podcast on being multi passionate and enjoy BREATHING. (David has the kids.)

When I get back, Zoe wants to go for a bike ride. David is heading into the office later than usual today, so I take her for a ride.  Halfway through, she finds snails that she wants to take home as pets, so I end up walking a few blocks pushing two bicycles, while she skips ahead with three snails.

IMG_4072.JPGI take a lightning fast shower. When I get out of the shower, Zoe, Riley, and the snails are all in my bathroom.  Everyone watches me get ready (David has left). Privacy at its finest. While I get ready, I group text with some local friends about one of their bad haircuts and a possible playdate. I’m so thankful to HAVE local friends!

10:00: I’m taking the kids into the city for the first time by myself today.  I have really been missing the energy and diversity of a city, and want to get there every week this summer. This week, we’re going to a puppet show…and then we’ll see what else we find! I pack lunches (grocery day is tomorrow, so the content of the lunches is fairly questionable), shove an energy bite in my mouth, and get the kids ready to go. They insist on packing their own backpacks. Totally necessary.

10:25: OFF WE GO! The kids request Taylor Swift in the car, so we rock out for the next 30 minutes. Zoe eats a cheese stick and Riley eats peanut butter crackers from their backpacks.

11:00: We made it! The kids are pumped.

IMG_4075We meander over to the theater, climbing on benches and statues and making a bathroom stop along the way.  The theater has display cases full of props from past shows, so we enjoy looking at them and talking about the plots of those shows.

11:30: The mane event. (You’re welcome.)IMG_4078The puppet show is incredibly cute and interactive. The puppeteers act out three stories, and lead the kids in movement songs in between. Afterwards, the kids have a chance to play with puppets in the puppet theater.  It’s a huge hit with both kids.

12:15: “Again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat!'” (Numbers 11:4b). The kids are hungry, so we find a lovely picnic spot across the street. One of my favorite parts of being in a city is meandering and stumbling upon awesome places to hang out. I’m so thankful to be here!

IMG_4079We actually didn’t have enough bread for me to make myself a sandwich, so I brought peanut butter crackers along for myself and figured I’d eat the kids’ leftovers. The jokes’s on me because they both drop half of their sandwich and have no leftovers. Oh well!

The park has a large splash pad, and I happen to have extra clothes along, so I let Zoe go in the water after lunch. She quickly makes a friend and has a blast scampering all over the multi-level park.

IMG_4080Riley prefers to cuddle. IMG_4081After almost an hour in the park (which has no shade), I’m beginning to feel sunburned and Riley is telling me she is “sweaty.”  I tell Zoe it’s time to wrap it up and change her into the spare set of clothes.

We are having so much fun that I don’t want to leave the city, so I ask the girls if they want to walk to a coffee shop.  I plug Starbucks into my phone and we take off on a 5 block walk.

1:35: The Starbucks is located almost exactly in the “center” of downtown, which means prime people watching! We are across from a HUGE skyscraper, and there are people on scooters and bicycles, golf carts, and police cars. There are people of all kinds, doing all sorts of things. The girls have a grand time staring out the window and asking tons of questions while eating cake pops.  (I have an iced soy latte.)

IMG_4083.JPGI love this time.  I want the girls to be comfortable around all kinds of diversity–people of different ages, sex, ethnicity, races, professions, abilities, languages, and subcultures.  I want them to feel comfortable in an urban setting, to understand city safety, and to be curious.

We have enjoyed about 25 minutes of people watching when Riley suddenly screams out at top volume, “I have something in my private area.”  I pretend not to notice the business people trying not to stare at us as we head to the bathroom, where Riley learns the word “wedgie,” Zoe screams in abject terror about the automatic dryer, and a construction worker tries to hit on me as I leave the bathroom with my two children.  Maybe that’s enough of city life…

2:05: Zoe loves photography, so I give her my phone to take some photos as we walk back.  She asks Riley and I to pose on a bench…

IMG_4085.JPGand in front of a wall with “neat texture” (Instagram husband, anyone?) Here are a few of her photos from our walk back.

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IMG_4126I love her eye.

On our way back, I take the girls into a neat historic church.  They are very concerned that we will be arrested because it isn’t Sunday.

Riley’s legs also stop working, which I had expected, and I wind up carrying her the five blocks back.

2:45: I drive to the gas station to fuel up for our trip back to the ‘burbs. Zoe is writing a story and Riley is drawing. I can tell they’re going to fall asleep, so I turn on a podcast on branding. IMG_4130.JPG3:30: We arrive back at our house.  Traffic wasn’t bad until I began following a school bus for the last two miles of our trek. The girls each enjoyed a 20 minute nap in the car.  They are very cranky and hungry when I wake them up.

We usually do an afternoon quiet time followed by 1 hour of TV, but I can tell they just need to zone out, and I have a work phone call I need to make, so I make the kids a snack of strawberries, chips, and cheese and summon my favorite babysitter, Sofia the First.

3:40: I throw some laundry in AGAIN and chat with my Florida friend and colleague for about 20 minutes about her new branding and a project we are working on together.  She confesses that she is one week into summer and forgot how little she can get done with her children around, so can we push our timeline back? YES WE CAN.

It’s the last day of the month, so I do my monthly client reports and invoicing.  I’m also hungry since I never ate lunch, so I make some tuna salad and have a few crackers. Here’s a glimpse into my office…IMG_4134I planned to take the kids outside and do the water table around 4:30, but it begins thundering, so I just let Sofia continue to work her magic, switch some laundry, start the spaghetti, and keep working on a foundation research project for a client.  Sofia is the most reliable babysitter I have found in our new town, so I’m not teaching this semester (just continuing with ongoing client work).  I’m really glad I didn’t take on more.

I also briefly text with a friend to a) plan tomorrow night’s happy hour and b) congratulate her for showing up in Joan Garry’s weekly email!

5:20: I serve the kids spaghetti, which Zoe complains is “too pasta-y.”  I make myself a salad with craisins, feta cheese, and almonds because I ate so recently.  During dinner, we FaceTime a family member who has had a rough week, and enjoy catching up.

6:10: Bath time! 15 minutes of water play and 5 minutes of cowashing/hair detangling!

IMG_41406:45: David walks in the door carrying a hummingbird feeder and homemade muffins from a congregation member (totally normal) and helps me read, sing, find transitional objects, and coax girls to sleep.

7:00-7:20: I run upstairs several times to fix various emergencies like “my blanket fell off,” “you forgot to say my words” (I said them), “I’m not tired,” and “I’m scared.”  I finally issue the trump card: “if I have to come up here again, you won’t get a muffin in the morning.”

7:30 “…She found the child lying on the bed, the demon having left” (Mark 7:20). The girls are asleep.

I plate David’s dinner, clean up the girls’  plates and places, do the dishes, switch the laundry once again, pour a glass of wine for each of us, and talk briefly with David. Then I work for 45 more minutes.  I also get an email from a friend who is running for the Florida House of Representatives, and marvel at how awesome and accomplished my friends are!

8:40: Connect and hang with David.  Keeping it real, we get into an argument slash relationship growth opportunity.  I also eat a muffin.

10:00: “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” – Psalm 3:5 Bedtime! I think I fell asleep in less than 5 minutes.

I’m realizing that this summer, I will really need to pray for “daily bread” in the form of energy and patience to keep up with my kids’ energy level.  I am also remembering that last summer I began a “two shots of espresso at 1 pm” habit…

But still…I know that I am very blessed to be able to direct the fun and coach the girls through their daily emotions and experiences.  I’m excited for the rest of summer!

Four Thoughts For The Times When Parenting is Hard

This week, I got a report from Zoe’s preschool teacher that left me in happy tears. The little girl whose preschool transition I worried about so much is a leader in her class.

I do not need my children to demonstrate any of the traditional indicators of success—as long as they are kind, happy, and doing their best, I’m overjoyed—but I saw Zoe’s natural leadership emerge when she was just fifteen months old and wondered what it would turn into.  For the last fifteen months, this potential has largely been overshadowed by her behavior, and I wondered what other qualities were being hidden by the difficulties she experiences.

I’m so glad she is learning the skills that let her be her true self.

At the same time that she has been demonstrating her abilities in school, we’ve had a hard week at home—think lots of tears, screaming, scratching herself and others, biting herself, throwing things, hitting, spitting, letting herself out the door, strange sensory-seeking behaviors, and arguing about everything. I don’t believe that these behaviors reflect her true self, I don’t judge her for them, and I don’t give up on trying to help the girl underneath come out—but I do get tired.

I’m trying my best to be honest about my parenting journey with her without throwing her privacy under the bus and without writing anything that might make her question my love for her if she ever read it. It scares me that I might do something wrong as I write about this. But at the same time, I want to be honest because I yearn to connect with others who are experiencing similar things and let them know that they’re not alone.

The truth is that parenting the child whose name means “life” has been both the joy and challenge of my recent life.  I have done harder things, but they were, like, REALLY hard things (recovering from an eating disorder) and I had plenty of professional support. (Not to mention that when I was in ED recovery, all I had to manage was myself—and now I have to manage 3 people!)

During the first few months of Zoe’s behaviors, I would feel God’s love and presence so strongly in approximately 4% of my moments, and then there would be 96% of the moments where my toddler was drawing blood from my infant’s eye in the shopping cart at Trader Joe’s and the cashiers were fluttering around with a first aid kit and concerned looks and I was asking Him WHERE HE WAS because gosh, I felt alone.

And I’d pray, and feel a little better, but then they’d wake up at 12:30 and 3 and 5 am and need so much from me, and by 3 pm my faith that God was with me through all of this would fizzle a little. If He was with me, wouldn’t He be teaching me to do this better and wouldn’t I have more energy?!

My recovery from an eating disorder took years of slow, plodding progress.  Similarly, God has not chosen to snap His fingers and make my parenting journey easier (although He just gave me in-laws six blocks away, which definitely counts for something)! 

But as I constantly remind myself, just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean I’m alone—or that I’m not learning and growing with every step.   For example, my ratio now is more like 80% “cool, you’re with me, God, thanks” and 20% “what the ACTUAL heck do I do in response to this?” Growth!

This week, I felt compelled to write down four thoughts that God has been stirring in me—four reminders for the times when my child is having a hard time, when I feel like I can’t do this right, and when I need a reminder of His truth and design.

I thought I’d share them today, even though they’re a bit of a departure from my usual blog content. If you don’t like Bible study (or if you’re not a parent), feel free to skip everything else in this post, but studying these ideas has really blessed me, and I thought they might help someone else!

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(1) God made my child, and He calls her good.  She was knit together in the image of God and is fearfully and wonderfully made; His eyes saw her unformed body and all the days ordained for her when she was still in the womb. “Your works are wonderful; I know that full well” (Genesis 1:27,31; Psalm 139).

(2) God gave her to me to parent.  “Children are a heritage from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.” My daughter was placed into our family “with the help of the Lord,” and was the answer to our prayers for a child to love. He places each part in the body just where He wants it to be, according to His design (Psalm 127:3, Genesis 4:1, I Samuel 1:27, I Corinthians 12:18).

(3) I am not alone in this job. He wants to help me. He is “my rock of refuge, to which I can always go.” I am never alone; I have an advocate to help me and be with me forever. When I pray “let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me,” I can rest assured that “He is faithful to His promises” and will help me (Psalm 71:3,; John 15:26; Psalm 71:18, 22).

(4) My job is to seek and love God, and to let His love flow through me to my child.  All outcomes are up to Him. We are told to teach our children to “love God with all our heart, all our soul, and with all our strength.”  These commands are to be on our hearts, to be talked about, and to be lived “as we sit at home, as we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up.”  This implies active pursuit of God in my own life. Teaching Zoe about God—and teaching her the skills she needs to be successful—are both important, but loving the Lord myself is the most important thing I can do for my children. Apart from Him, I can do nothing; fruit comes only from abiding in Him and loving as He has loved me. I can plant the seeds and water them, but in the end, only God makes things grow (John 15:12-13, 5; I Corinthians 3:7).

To recap, and make it personalized for you (if you are still reading):

God made your child and He calls him/her good.

God gave him/her to you to parent.

You are not alone in this job; He wants to help you.

Your job is to seek and love God, and to let His love flow through you to your child. All outcomes are up to Him. 

I hope these thoughts encourage you today! 

My To-Do List

If you’ve spent any time with me lately, you’ve likely NOT heard me ramble about work-life balance…because it’s so raw and I don’t know what to say.  My work-life balance has been changing a little bit after several years of being in bare minimum career maintenance mode, and it’s weird.

Since I ramped up my efforts to build my client list (a marketing effort which consisted mostly of prayer and not immediately screaming “NO” when someone made a referral), I have been blessed with a steady stream of clients and work. I am no longer working “very” part-time; I work part-time. This comes with increased client management responsibilities, more deadlines to keep track of, and some slight changes in personal identity.

For about two months, I’ve been saying “I probably need to start saying no to any new projects”—but in those two months, I’ve said “no” exactly 0 times.  Here’s why:

-I genuinely like the projects and am so jazzed by (most of) the work that I do. I take on my clients’ missions and invest in my students’ futures.  I love getting e-mails from students thanking me for helping them learn and grow, coming back from meetings with my brain whizzing with ideas, and getting lost in research as I write narratives for my clients’ grant proposals.  I didn’t have an outlet for my passions, I’m not sure that my life would feel as meaningful. I know that I am called to be a present and engaged mom, but I don’t feel called to push down all of the things that I know and can offer the world in favor of having empty laundry baskets.

-It’s hard to say no to new clients who want to work with me, or to existing clients who would be a great source of continued business when I have a long-term interest in building a small business (or at least a job for myself) in this field.

-My counted-on contribution to our family income is all I “need” to do. But outside of that, I have hopes and dreams for our house, vacations I want our family to go on, and 529 accounts that I want (“want?”) to fill up.  Contract/freelance work = $.

Coming back to reality, however: at this point, all of my scheduled childcare time for the fall is booked with projects…so any new “yes” I say to work is a “no” to time with my kids, family, and/or personal time.

It’s tough to figure out the right balance between “this project pays for a month of your preschool tuitions, freeing up funds for a family vacation that will build priceless memories” and “this project makes me miss time with you and/or takes up any time I have to recharge, resulting in memories of time with a babysitter or a cranky mom.”  And I’ve had to accept that I’m not going to make the right call 100% of the time, because actually saying yes is new.

Trying new things is messy.  Add that to a life that was already a little less than put-together and it’s…well, messier.
photo-on-1-20-16-at-7-48-amBut there’s fun in the mess.  And with every messy challenge comes opportunity.

And so: I think that the challenge for me at this intersection of my kids’ development and my business growth will be to clearly define and act from my values.  The time I spend parenting will change and fluctuate as my kids move towards school readiness, but the value of my parenting time will not decrease, and the quality of that time should not, either.

This challenge also means I have the opportunity to experiment with new projects, clients, and work styles and schedules—and the opportunity to learn more about myself, my family’s needs, and what my future could look like—IF I pay attention.

Also, I realize that I am SO blessed to have these opportunities and choices. When I was fresh out of college, I wrote a description of my dream job. I wanted to work for a nonprofit organization, write professionally, be an adjunct professor, have the flexibility to work from home and coffee shops instead of always needing to be in an office, be able to cook a hot lunch (LOLZ, clearly of the utmost importance), and have time during my day to exercise, play with my then-imagined kids, and invest in other people.  In other words, way too many things, some ludicrous things, and also essentially what I do now.

The kicker is that when I left full-time work, I didn’t intentionally set out to achieve this life; I was just taking steps of obedience and looking, like, one foot ahead until I suddenly looked up and realized that I am actually living that dream (minus the daily hot lunch because it turns out that once I had more than one child, I began to struggle to even make a basic sandwich. If we could slightly tweak the goal to “making a latte after lunch,” though, nailed it). 

Even though this life is what I dreamed of, it’s not always perfect or easy or 100% fun.  It’s called “work” for a reason!  So when I begin to angst about the difficulty of balancing work and family and my soul, I have begun to tell myself: you are tired.  It’s time for a break.  Go for a walk with a friend.  Talk with your husband.  Watch a show.  Read a book.  Write a blog post.  Go to bed.  If your lifestyle can’t support Sabbath—something needs to change. 

In the morning, I wake up and journal and pray.  And towards the end of writing my honest reflections to God, I am always startled to realize that I didn’t have a situational problem; I had a gratitude problem, or was tired, or just needed to say no, or needed to set up an extra babysitting day but also plan a fun family activity to balance it out.  It isn’t actually that hard when you don’t carry all the burden of doing all the things perfectly all the time.

I don’t always know the “right” answer to the “should I take on this client/project” question.  And I won’t always get it right.  But generally, if I pause before responding, prayerfully consider a project, and move it through the filter of the important “to-do” list that I have developed below—I might.

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My to-do list: 

(1) Be an engaged and present mom and wife. I am there for my people when they ask me to be. I put down my thing/to-do and engage when they want to engage. I stick to clearly defined work times and don’t multi-task.  I work in my office or at my Starbucks office—not in the playroom.  I may leave things unfinished at times; this bugs me but I choose the better thing.  I’m there—fully present—for the big moments.

IMG_5178.JPG(Zoe before her first day of weeklong camp this summer! I was happy I could be there to talk her through nerves at drop off and see her excited face at pick-up.)

(2) Manageable and enjoyable work. I curate my projects/clients to a manageable list. As possible, I go for the enjoyable projects. I don’t need to “wow” on every project—meeting expectations is okay.

(3) Treat my soul with respect.  My life has time for quiet time.  I make time and space for a weekly Sabbath—a day or two with no “work work,” unless it’s one of my two grading hell weeks.  I make space for fun things with friends that seem like a waste of time from a productivity standpoint, because these friendships so greatly enrich my life and fun is actually important. I fight for alone time now and then.  I make time for reading. I pay attention to patterns in myself.  If my physical, mental, and emotional self all feel ragged—I talk about it and make some changes.  I “find rest in the incompleteness of the present moment as I learn to recognize the goodness of what is, [and trust] that what is needed for the future will be added at the proper time” (Sally Breedlove, Choosing Rest).

On that note, I’m going to go to bed!

The Beautiful Things

There are brilliant, wonderful, glorious gifts in front of me every single day, if I just turn my eyes and my mind to see them.

That’s one thing motherhood has taught me.

It’s easy to get lost in the work in front of me.  But there are so many moments of goodness along the way—moments where light and color and the physical and the spiritual worlds meet—and when I pay attention, I realize what an extraordinary gift these “ordinary” moments really are.

I want to pay attention more often.  

In that spirit, here are a few shots that I’ve never shared on the blog.  These photos weren’t captured during special events, but to me, they brim with the supernatural—the soft and gentle calling of a Creator who loves to speak to us through light, color, beauty, family, belonging, innocence, simplicity, His sufficiency in the face of our weakness, perseverance, hope, and love.

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“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”  –Philippians 4:8-9 

New House Details – Part II

Just a super quick update to say: we’re officially homeowners!! Whoa!

My words as soon as we left the closing were “David, I think I might throw up.”  Being in charge of A HOUSE THAT I OWN is terrifying and exciting, all at the same time.

It’s terrifying, because:
a) the gene for “spatial intelligence” was completely absorbed by my engineer father and I couldn’t tell you how to fix anything
b) I am used to seeing a lot more money in my bank account
c) I sing “the wise man built his house upon the rock / the foolish man built his house upon the sand” to Zoe…and then David always jokes “the entire state of Florida is the foolish man.”  We now own a chunk of that sand and a house built upon it.

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We may be idiots.

It’s exciting because:
a) I am ECSTATIC about the house’s layout
b) I am THRILLED with our new yard
c) the kitchen makes me want to cook again, unlike the pass-through hallway that I try to get out of as soon as possible in our current house (no offense, current house—I love you otherwise) 
d) I like my new neighborhood and the roads that I’ll drive and walk most often
e) my friend and her sweet daughter live next door, with another little buddy soon to join us!

We rented our home to the sellers through the weekend (we went from homeowners to owners of a RENTAL PROPERTY all in one week! I’m so dramatic), so we’ll get some keys tonight and get in there tomorrow to start some fast and furious renos!

Pray for a good week of work for my sweet husband who has a lot to endure—both in terms of physical labor as he paints multiple rooms, and emotionally as he has to deal with my complete waffling and indecision on the last color selection (for our playroom and eat-in area).  He wants a bright color, I want a neutral, he is willing to give up the bright color but that’s not enough for me because I want him to want what I want and be happy about a neutral.  It’s going to be a great week for everyone!

This will not become a home decor blog, because I am just as qualified to write that as I would be to write a spatial intelligence blog, but I might give you a few more updates in weeks ahead.  I may also write a sappy blog post about moving, as my friend Jeanette pointed out today that what I was telling her about all that I’ve learned in this house sounded like “a blog post in the making.”  I love my friends.

All joking aside, I went into this house during our home tour and instantly thought “this is a great house for ministry.”  This house has the best layout for packing in people to cook for and serve and love…the best backyard for imperfect parties where people can get dirty and have fun playing football and soccer…the best little nook for Bible study with another mom or two while our kiddos play in the adjoining playroom…the best kitchen window to stand at while my coffee brews and look out and praise God for another day.

We’ve never had the opportunity to choose a home before, but we’ve always made each living situation work—so I don’t feel like we “needed” this upgrade.  However, it is a huge blessing to have had the chance to choose a home based on the activities and people that are most important to us.  I can’t wait to see what God does in us, through us, and with us in this home!

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See you in a new house! (unless I need to use my coping strategy of writing sooner due to paint-related issues!)

A Prayer, A Protest

I’ve written before about how I didn’t think about race for a lot of my life—a luxury I didn’t understand at the time.  Having two children with visually obvious black heritage has taught me something different.

I was very aware of the racial differences between myself and my daughters at first, but over time, my day-to-day acknowledgment and awareness have abated because I am just so busy taking care of their daily needs.  I don’t have a lot of conversations related to my children’s heritage anymore, and I have learned to walk away from unsolicited comments or insensitive conversations with my hypothetical fingers in my ears.

Recent events remind me that I need to pay attention.  For my children’s safety.   

I have never hated because of race.  But some people do.

I have never moved into a neighborhood and wondered, “is someone peering out the window with hatred in their heart because of what we look like?” But it happens every day to people who look just like my daughters.

I look at mixed-race families and smile—to me, they look like the family of God.  But to some people, my family is an abomination.

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My innocence to these facts might feel more comfortable, but it’s also ignorant to the reality of what some of our country actually looks like, thinks like, acts like.  This is a country where people who look like me literally wave flags of prejudice—and care more about our right to do so than the sense of oppression it makes our brothers and sisters feel.  I don’t understand the hatred.  I don’t have to live in fear of it, either (and I don’t plan to).  But I have to be aware of it.

Oh, how I want more for our children.

When pondering what happened in Charleston, all I could think of was the interconnectedness Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail (which is fantastic reading):

“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 

…There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.

…Was not Jesus an extremist for love: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.’ Was not Amos an extremist for justice: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.’ Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: ‘I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.’ Was not Martin Luther an extremist: ‘Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.’ And John Bunyan: ‘I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience.’ And Abraham Lincoln: ‘This nation cannot survive half slave and half free.’ And Thomas Jefferson: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . .’

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.

Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary’s hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime–the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Lord, raise us up to be creative extremists in our churches, families, and communities.  Help us transform this stupid, messed up, full-of-potential world into a place that reflects Your love for all of us.