Turning the Pages

Hi, friends. I haven’t written here for eleven months. What the what? Not since my dear friends moved, not since my oldest began kindergarten, not since I began learning and practicing calligraphy last August. More on that soon. :)

I’ve kinda chalked it up to having fun with Instagram and calligraphy and sharing short snippets of life rather than long blog posts. (People still blog, right?) I’ll be honest: it’s been easier, both to keep up with on my end, and read.

But now, sitting here, I think I’ve just taken a break to direct energies where they needed to be this year. Mostly, with my kidlets, who are growing fast. I read a great quote about being intentional with your time…”be generous with it, but guard it fiercely.” I’m always gonna be learning about balance.

I think I’m feeling like I can write here again because a new season is beginning. Isn’t that how it usually feels on the cusp of summer?  This month, it’s the changing of a big season: after coordinating MOPS for three years, I’m stepping out so two wonderful friends can step in who are gonna rock it. They already are, which is a huge blessing.

Maybe releasing this last three-year-long chapter, and being ready to find my next one, has just taken time for me to process. Or maybe my toddler is finally sleeping through the night. Yesss.

And oddly, in all of this turning over, writing has reared its mysterious head this week, after months of silence. Three different people have asked me about my writing life this week (when does this happen…?), and I found a new podcast for writers that is going to help fuel my current feelings about it, I hope. Hard to explain, but as I told Raul earlier today, my writing self is all tingly. I’m happy about that!

I don’t share journal entries often, but this one I scribbled on the pages of Hello Darling magazine last September, and it pertains to how I feel today. And Eli’s little hand is always on my stuff. (Don’t you love writing on magazine pages? Especially with a sharpie…thank goodness for the written word or I’d forget so much of my life. Much of my thankfulness!)

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September 2015

“It is the beginning of the end of my time at MOPS as Coordinator, and I feel both ready and sad about it.  I love how God works because He flips things upside down and inside out and grabs your hand for a grand adventure and it is so worth it. I never knew how worth it it would be, looking at my 2013 self.

I had lost my mom, my footing–my foundation was steadying again from being blasted and I really didn’t know what I had to give, or how to lead, or how to be outward when I felt so broken and vulnerable. I shook with fear, inside and out. But I still felt called to coordinate and encourage others. I am so thankful for the gentle nudges from Nancy and others, but most of all, my Lord, who carried me and helped me learn, again, how to rely on Him. He also reiterated to me how toxic people pleasing truly is.

Coordinating taught me to see other women, wives, and moms, hurting, struggling, wanting connection, and to find joy in motherhood during the little years. Just like me. And by watching a loving team in action, and having a patient, kind mentor, I began to be more outward. I began to take note of how others loved me well, and imitated that behavior.  Hearts opened up, and so did mine.  I am not who I was. The Lord has always filled me with hope, but now I see that He wants to continue filling me up in my relationship with him. Hope, joy, and love. Constantly, He has refilled my cup and preciously, gently handed it back to me after I’ve thrown it in the corner, empty.”

In your waiting, in your struggling, in the changes you choose or that choose you, the good of the Lord is still there, lighting your way. Redeeming is His business. Nothing goes to waste.  Pages turn, so that new chapters can start. Writing starts again after silence, that wonderful, familiar click clack of keys. And toddlers begin sleeping all through the night.

:)

fresh ink and a new flight

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Maybe I’m having a bit of a Jo March moment this morning.

Blogging has been on my back burner for awhile, and clicking this blank page open feels both therapeutic and daunting. For once, I am the only one awake in the house, mentally percolating. It’s too early for coffee (5:30am), and my eyes are barely open, but I must write to process. Why not share it with you, too? So good morning, and I hope by the time you read this I’ve awoken enough to edit it into making sense, and we’ve both had our coffee. :)

Over the last three years, there have been distinct moments of placing that final period in one chapter in my life, and writing a crisp new chapter number on the next page the next morning. This is one of those mornings. The story continues, but it has a different look, a different feel, a new setting, an unknown element about it that makes me both hopeful and uncomfortable. But like all first sentences, this new morning sets the tone for this next chapter, and I’m happy this one begins with me back in my element, here, writing, with you.

I met Jona in August of 2012 on a plane to Portland, Oregon. It was my 30th birthday gift from my husband, a quick weekend getaway–our first in forever, leaving both of our baby girls with the grandparents for the first time. I remember spotting the band Everclear in the airport before boarding–hello, 1998–and whispering to R about it, but being too chicken to say anything as I passed them walking down the aisle. I wished I had been wearing big black boots and had an old suitcase–but you know. You can’t prepare for these things.

Raul and I found our seats, one row apart. I was on the aisle, next to a woman about my age with a young daughter and small baby boy. I smiled because my baby girl, Natalie, was around the same age. Instinctually I said, “Please let me know if you need anything, any help with your little guy…” Once a mother, always a mother, right? I’m pretty sure I motioned to Raul to look at how cute this little baby was, too.

I cracked open my book, eager to finish it, and settled into the flight. I read and sipped my tomato juice until the woman asked if I could keep an eye on her daughter while she went to change her baby. The girl, about 7 or 8, began talking to me instantly, showing me pictures of her baby brother on her phone, telling me about all the cute things he did. I watched a few shaky videos she had taken of him and wondered what my girls would be like at this age.

Looking back, even these moments felt familiar, despite being complete strangers. The woman returned, and we exchanged niceties and relatable mommy stories. Out of the blue, she mentioned she was a part of a Bible study. I will always be thankful for this quick, but so pertinent, statement. The floodgates opened then, and as soon as I said, “me too!” our non-stop flight was more like non-stop talking. I asked her if she was connected to any mom groups, and invited her to MOPS. She wrote down her contact info, which I still have tacked to my bulletin board. “From the plane” is jotted beneath her name and number.

When I left a message for her the next week, I had no idea what would blossom from a simple invitation.

So often, you put yourself out there, and nothing comes of it. And I’m finally digesting that that’s okay. Your authenticity will draw the right person, or people, to you, and if and when something flourishes, it’s gold, Jerry. The last three years have been precious to me for many reasons, but today, I thank God for my friend, and the gift of a sweet friendship that is lifelong.

Jona from the plane boards another plane today, to live in a new city, across the ocean, far away from here. My youngest daughter said to me yesterday, “She’s family, mommy, it’s okay. We’ll see her again.” Lordwilling and you bet, baby girl. Beth Moore has said that saying goodbye is a necessary life skill, and I freely admit that my version is more like a puddle than any sort of skill at all, but it is what it is. I’m kind of okay with being messy in this way though because when you miss your people, you just do, and tears are part of that.

Seasons change….settings change…but the hope the Lord scatters in our lives in so many ways, doesn’t, and never will. Today as I watch the sun rise up through the trees, I’m reminded of his goodness and that He is purposeful and generous, and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. I don’t deserve it, but I fully accept it with a grateful heart and open hands. God speed and love you, friend!

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Life in January

Good morning! Yes, I’m still here. :) It’s good to see you, too!

It’s the beginning of a new year, a new month.. May you enjoy this fresh start and gain clarity in what you’ll be striving for this year. After an encouraging coffee date with girlfriends last night, and with more coffee in my hand this morning (heehee) I have some major pondering to do… primarily, how to simplify the whole resolution process into maybe one or two words I’d like to see manifested in my life. Like, “thoughtful.” Or “patient.” An overall theme applied to all the little everyday things. I read a quote the other day that I just loved:

“May the way I look at you, the way I speak with you, and the way I treat you, reflect the truth that… I have loved you since forever.”

I thought, yes… This what I want my husband and kids to feel, looking back on our life together. Friends, too. It’s in the little, everyday things, words, glances, sighs that either warm up or alienate the people around us. An example from my life…

Motherhood has taught me many things, is constantly teaching me, and one of the biggest lessons I keep revisiting is that frustration is around every corner–how do I love fully even in frustration? I think it has to do with choosing my responses carefully, not just reacting. This is an art, I’m convinced. The worst thing I’ve felt this last year in parenting is going to bed knowing I made poor choices regarding my kids that day.

It always happens at night, when I peek in on them sleeping and they’re all warm and snoozy and huggable and angelic. I forget the constant honking on the harmonica, after I asked them to stop 20 times, or how they tried pouring the gallon of milk themselves. I’ll realize I didn’t get as creative as I could’ve to deflate a situation, I got mad instead. Or I was a total stickler about something that really doesn’t matter a hill of beans, and it exasperated my girls. Moments like that, where your instant reactions are instantly reflected on their little faces, only to float in your mind in the dark hours later, accusing you of poor mothering. I know it won’t ever be perfect, but I want to strive for Better.  Thanks be to God, who will help me with this! And other moms, dear friends I truly cherish and laugh hard with.  I’m grateful we don’t have to mother alone.

I have a few specific, fun things I’d like to do this year too… but they are going to be completely secret. If I was really brave, maybe I would ask my husband to guess what my resolutions were at the end of this year, if he had noticed changes… :)

Recently :: January 

We are still in newish-baby mode, but are slowly venturing into a new routine for our family. I am loving it, despite exhaustion and memory loss. Ha.

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> Eli. Pure joy, this boy. He is almost 4 months old, growing fast, and loves his mama. And sisters (little mamas). And daddy. He likes to fill daddy in on our day when he gets home. The boy smiles at everything, everyone. He soaks in life, his eyes focusing intently on whatever is in front of him. He lifts his whole upper body and legs when he’s on his tummy. He kicks socks and blankets off his legs, every time–he looks like a little cricket when he does this. Aww. He’s sporting a handsome ring of baldness around his head above his ears, which only a mama could love. And if you talk to him, he’ll usually respond with “ahhh” or “ohh,” but in the last couple of days, has added “Ggggah” to the mix. Eloquent, this one. Oh! And Olivia totally made him laugh when she was twirling around like a loon the other day… She will always be able to say she was the first to make him laugh (without squishing him, which is usually my method…).

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> Instagram. Part of the reason why I’ve been way lax in blogging is because I have been loving Instagram. Post a picture, add a quip, boom, sharing your life. I’m following foodies, yarn shops, knitters, friends… it’s wonderful. Quick snapsnots of their lives is such a fun way to share. So if it’s slow here, check my instagram

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> Siblings. Just to add to the above… Now having three little siblings in the house is one of my favorite things. I am fascinated by how the Lord has taken a fear of mine (yup, the thought of three kids was hard to imagine, so He made it a reality!), and has turned it into the biggest blessing I’ve known. Liv and Natalie are two peas in a pod, most of the time, and I pray it always continues this way, beyond the bumps in the road they’ll face.

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They both help me take care of Eli, and enjoy being big sisters. Especially Natalie; she’s like Eli’s little personal bouncer, eager to protect him but also constantly tempted to smush him in hugs herself. She is no doubt the best pacifier-finder in the house; her record is 100% so far. I love knowing I can count on her when Eli is fussing.  I’m dreaming of dressing them up as the 3 Amigos someday…. and then posting on Instagram, of course. ;)

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(Thanks to Jen Honeycutt Photography for these awesome 3 month photos of Eli!)