The quiet of Tuesday

On Tuesdays, I am alone. Matt works late and I purposely choose to keep my Tuesdays empty. I rarely answer my phone and the kids and I hunker down in the quiet. Tuesdays call for quiet in my opinion.

For our family, Wednesday is typically the busiest day of the week, with Thursday following shortly behind. Tuesday has become my fortress. We read and create and play. I skip the laundry and don’t cook. Tuesday is for me.

I rearranged the dining room this afternoon. It’s summer and I want to face the yard while I sew. There are baby quilts to be made and Christmas gifts to begin. I know. It’s June. But when the Fall comes and I start school up again in full force, I won’t have the time to sit and sew for hours. I learned that lesson last year as I frantically scrambled to finish those last few stitches. 

This morning, I overheard Liam telling Matt that on Tuesday, we do nothing. Maybe nothing compared to other families, but our nothing today involved hours of imaginative play, the creation of a 3-d art project for my grandmother, Liam choosing books all on his own to read to us at bedtime, and my trimming the tree out front so I can see the wren box from my desk.

Tuesday is my ordinary day. As Emily Freeman says, “Tuesday gives me permission to be unremarkable.” I appreciate the ordinary. I appreciate this permission to just exist and celebrate that simple fact. For in this world where I feel the constant pressure to improve and achieve and do more, Tuesday brings comfort in the settled quiet.

Wednesday has enough for three days of activity, but for tonight, I shall curl up on my couch, watching Anne of Avonlea and sewing. Tuesdays are ordinary and Tuesdays are for me.

On needing a new prescription

A few days ago, we got up and raced around trying to make sure am medicines were taken, breakfasts were eaten, children were clothed appropriately and we were on time to the dentist. The only thing I suppose I should pat myself on the back for would be the 3 minutes to spare arrival at the dentist. So nope, forgot two medicines, the breakfast that was eaten wasn’t *that* filling and we left the house totally under dressed for the weather. Whoops.

Despite  mornings like this being a regular occurrence in my home, you might notice that my Instagram feed isn’t filled with frustrated selfies or snap shots of my messy home. Not because I want to hide this aspect of my life, but because it just isn’t worth focusing my sights on.

I suppose I could #firstworldproblems as I whine about how it was too nice a day to stay in and clean bathrooms, but is that really the point? We all have our own standards for life, standards that can at times be excessive without the input from the lady on IG who just can’t get her act together to dust. It’s not that I don’t care, because I do. I like a clean house as much, if not more, as the next person, I really do. But what I don’t care for is the focus.

It doesn’t have to be a clean house, it could be your marriage or your child in the super-fantastic developmental stage of egocentricisim. Whatever it is that takes your joy, your focus from the blessings in life, that is something that shouldn’t be framed on IG, much less your mind.

This isn’t to say that you can’t acknowledge a bad day, a messy house, or the tough parenting day! They are there in abundance, believe me. But should you focus on them? Why would you want to? Why give more time and attention to something that drags you down and hurts your spirit? Are we not called on in Colossians 3:2 to fix our eyes on things above, not on earthly things {paraphrase mine}? And to follow that, Phillipians 4:8 –

“whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Do you see it? It’s not a call to ignore the yuck, it’s a prescription for new lenses. My morning was a disaster, my house is a mess, my hair… oh, my hair. When we bring these things to the forefront of our minds, we wait {whether we realize it or not} for someone to tear us down. We wait to see if the perfect mom from MOPS who cloth diapered all her babies and makes the best bread from scratch will notice. We wait to see if she will like our post and then we torture ourselves wondering if she liked it out of judgement or pity.

But when you swap out that negative, condemning, egocentric lens on your life for something that focuses on the blessings and the love and the glory of the Lord, dust pales in comparison. It takes time to adjust to a new lens prescription… you have headaches and all too often want to just toss them in the trash {at least I did while adjusting to my current one!}, and during that time, you’ll be forced to recognize that changing how you look at life, is work.

It is work. Change is hard. It takes a willingness to grow and to hurt a little on the way, which is why we so often set out with the intention, but quit before we are truly at the finish line. I speak from experience… please believe me! As hard as it is, I will say this: when you stop trying to change your focus solely through discipline, and you rely on scripture to rewrite your mindset, the change happens without even realizing it did. It’s worth it to focus a portion of your quiet time to write out your blessings. It’s worth it to make a list of all that you are grateful for. The more you saturate your brain with the good, the lovely, the pure, the less you’ll see the condemnation, even for those dirty dishes.

{When I went to Ann’s site to link up to her book 1,000 gifts, I happened across this lovely post. You should head over there next and read it!}

On not trying so much

The thing of growing up with a chronically ill parent is that is dramatically shifts your perspective on life. Expectations for myself, my energy, my accomplishments as a stay-at-home-mother, even my own health have been formed because of this life experience. In some ways, they’ve been good, but in others, I’ve required a fundamental shift in the paradigm of my thoughts.

Over the years, I’ve tried and tried to do this on my own. I’ve read books, been to counselors and begged the Lord to help me. To take away the pressures and anxiety I’d created to be the lenses I viewed my world through. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying.

A year ago, I got my own diagnosis, one which required me to take it down a notch. To stop pushing myself to the standards I’d created. To stop trying and accept that there are limits in life. And no matter of gumption will change this fact.

In the last few months, I’ve been exploring the concept of rest. Not in the prop-up-your-feet-and-exhale sense, but in the utter stillness of the Lord’s care. As I spent my time just being quiet, not striving to change things or beg the Lord to fix things, but choosing those moments of stress to remind myself that I am where I need to be. The lessons I am learning now are hard, but I wasn’t ready for them years ago. Sure. It would be nice, if I didn’t have to learn these things now, but would I have fully appreciated them years ago?

At this moment, I’m recovering from a nasty bug. For the most part, I feel better, but the sneaky kind of better that makes you think you’ve returned to the front of the pack only to slap you down with bone-crushing fatigue after that first load of laundry. We need clean underwear. The toilet needs scrubbed. The dishes need washed. But it doesn’t have to all be done at the same time.

Maybe not for you, but for me, realizing that there is value in rest, has brought so much freedom. I do not know what will happen next in my life, but frantically scrubbing toilets will not bring an iota of control. And that’s ok. I like clean toilets, but I’d rather scrub them because I like the end result instead of using it as a futile exercise in control.

 

Ironic, isn’t it? The harder I work, the less progress is made in my heart. There is such a sweetness in surrendering to the Lord’s Hand over your life. The realization of sovereignty has been the greatest gift I could have been given in this season of life. It’s beautiful and captivating and touching to think that He has already laid out my life… it is up to me to live it with joy. And peace. And contentment.

And clean toilets.

Being Still

I finished reading Beth Moore’s book Believing God {aff link} this week. It took me a while, as I had a lot of digesting to do. Her writing style is very gentle and yet to the point. I like it… which makes me laugh because I honestly had no idea who she was until a few months ago. Toward the end of the book, there were a few things I wanted to remember, so I spent some time Tuesday afternoon copying them to my journal and thinking about our current season in life.

Beth was describing types of challenges in life and our responses. Not all require us to wage an internal war, but instead ask us to be quiet and wait on the Lord. I was struck… shaken… to my core.

Keep up your day in, day out fundamentals, be still in ME, and trust that I am in control – total control. I don’t want your involvement on this issue. I just want you to practice keep your hands off of it and letting me have it.”

I read this paragraph over and over before writing “This is where I am right now. With everything that has cropped up – just practicing being still and trusting.” Matt and I have talked about this several times in the last year, we have done all we can in our struggles, only to have that inner voice telling us to simply be quiet and wait. For me, a type-A action-oriented person, this is hard. Not hard. Virtually impossible.

As my day progressed, I felt more and more that I was to embrace this… that I read this for a purpose. At 4:31pm my phone rang with the news that our rental {which is for sale and therefore vacant} was broken into and the copper piping stolen. I hung up the phone and stood in my dining room laughing.

Isn’t it the Best? Despite all our efforts and precautions, someone still broke in. And yet, I chose stillness over fear. Perhaps for the first time in my life even. This year I have determined that instead of chasing perfection, I am going to embrace growth. Growth happens at it’s own rate… no matter my goals or plans, I have to just keep pushing forward and trust that the process of growth will still occur regardless of how it feels to me. In this moment, I can see the growth.

Stillness is hard for me. But this small victory of not allowing myself to panic and instead trust that everything will work out shows me that I’m learning. I’m making progress. I’m growing in the stillness, inspite of myself. Because of Him.

 

Embracing my Introvert

I chatted on the phone with a friend this morning. I’ve know this friend for 10 years (whoa! 10 years went fast!), we’ve been pregnant at the same time twice and had our first borns within weeks of each other. We know each other very well and tend to be very honest with each other… even the ugly honest.

As I was relating what I had done with my time since we had last seen each other, she stopped me to tell me that she was surprised at how much socializing I had done. She then quickly followed it up with a comment that for her, that would be a dream to have that much social time, but she knew it wore me out. And I am really am. I had a crazy busy weekend: lots of talking and spending time with people. This week wasn’t initially better for me, but I actually breathed a sigh of relief when the fevers showed up and I knew I would  have to clear our week.

Growing up, I can remember looking at my parents’ calendar and wondering when the day would come where I would be able to stay home for the evening. Because I was homeschooled, I was able to keep to a relatively peaceful daytime schedule, but all those after school activities sure add up… they look great on a college application, but when you are a type who needs quiet to recharge, you wonder if it’s even worth it.

All my life, I have come up with excuses to not attend an event. When Matt and I got married, I tried my hand at hosting events at our home… I thought if I ran the helm, I’d like parties more.  Because I am an organized person, things always went well… but oh my gosh, I couldn’t stand to even talk to someone for three days after all the chaos left my house. Happy chaos, good chaos, funny chaos; it still drains me.

I happened upon the book – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and actually devoured it. It was so freeing to read through why I need quiet. WHY I need a break from social events and crave the quiet. If you’re in the same boat, I strongly recommend it! Our society celebrates the loud and busy and if you don’t celebrate it too, well… people think you’re odd. I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix while I sew and I’m really appreciating how they wrote the character of Rory. I understand why she plans a whole weekend of aloneness. I plan whole weekends of aloneness. It’s awesome.

The best part was that I actually live in a house full of introverted homebodies. And it’s amazing. I don’t know what I’d do if my children were the types who wanted to go and do every single day. Instead I get the chance to nurture our little family… to help my children learn their own limits and then respect them. Instead of pressuring them to participate beyond their comfort in the socially acceptable busy that is everywhere, I get to show them how to have a life that while quiet, is fulfilling and successful!

 

 

Mighty Mommy Monday

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year! Join us!

 

You know how when you make a decision that you honestly believe in your heart of hearts is for the best even though every one thinks you are nuts and your heart aches a little bit over the decision? Were you right? Did you wimp out? Could you have pulled it off? And then… days, weeks, even months later, you realize that there was a purpose for your odd decision. Things begin to fall into place and suddenly you want to go back and tell all those eyerollers what’s up.

I’m writing this post after an afternoon of raking leaves. Muscles I haven’t noticed since my college anatomy class are aching. I am counting the minutes until my littles head to bed. I had planned to work on a quilt tonight, but nope. I’ll be propped up in my bed with my journal and maybe a little bit of Gilmore Girls until… 9? I don’t know. I’m kinda wishing it would be cool for me to crash before 8.

I dropped out of several activities a few weeks ago and started turning my phone off in the evenings. I stopped answering emails after 9 and my texting dropped off dramatically. I am re-focusing on creating a peaceful home for my family and protecting myself. From what? Drama. Sick. Over-extension. Resentment. Oh yes. I decided that it doesn’t matter how many times I week I’m at the gym if I’m not taking care of my spirit and soul. And for someone like me, the recharge time is very important to my inner health.

Wouldn’t you know it that in the last two weeks we were given some news about my son’s health that is overwhelming? As in, hyperventilating while I paced the house overwhelming.

BUT, I’m going to bed at a practical hour every night, I’m eating breakfast {!!!} and I’m slowing down. I’m learning that we get a warning before we need to listen to our bodies… in my case, the warning is an unsettling when I look at my calendar and it’s too full. I’m glad I listened to my body and took the time out I would to draw from later! Tonight, I won’t be in bed by 8, but I won’t be stretching myself to the limit.

Come back tomorrow so I can share my “Balance Bath” essential oil recipe with you!

Bitty Ballerina

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On November 3rd, 2010 an ultrasound tech told us we were going to have a little girl. Matt’s brother had died the night before, we were exhausted and emotional and mustering up a response was almost too much for us. As she went through and identified each body part on our little girl, I remember thinking that her legs were nice and long… perfect for ballet.

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Last night, my little one finally got to attend her first ballet lesson. She’s waited for weeks and weeks for this night and I tell you, she was practically bursting with excitement. She was supposed to wear a costume instead of her leo, but I couldn’t talk her out of it. 🙂  Halfway through the class, she took off the costume and happily danced and stretched.

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Her little face was filled with a mixture of concentration and awe as she watched the teachers demonstrate throughout class and I could hardly hold back tears of excitement watching her finally find something she enjoyed so much. As we left she sighed a deep, dreamy sigh and told me how much she loved her dance class. Thursdays are going to be a wonderful day for all of us!

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In the weeks to come, I’m looking forward to lots of twirls and pliés. Mom bonus? Watching every single version of the Nutcracker suite I can find before Christmas. I didn’t realize how long I’ve waited to have a little one in ballet until last night… and I’m so happy to be soaking up every moment!

Senior

When I was a senior in high school, my parents adopted the cutest little boy… EVER. The adoption process started my sophomore year and every so often once we were placed with his cuteness, we’d get an updated photo and a letter about how he was doing. And I’d stare at those photos dreaming of the day we could snuggle together and all the fun things we would do. But the Indian government was taking it’s sweet old time and it took until Homecoming weekend my senior year for him to come home.

My parents had to fly out to New York to pick him up {lots of drama throughout the whole process suffice to say} and when I woke up a week later, there was this precious, precious little boy with enormous brown eyes staring at me. It was a Saturday morning and my parents were exhausted so they went back to bed and I got to stay up with him. And just absorb his sweet face, his chocolately skin, his curious eyes. Typing this, my eyes are welling up with tears remembering wanting to cuddle him so badly, but needing to wait 3 painfully long days for him to trust me enough.

In the last 16 years, he’s grown up a lot. He’s experienced many things that children his age don’t and when I see him, I am amazed at how life has changed him. Sure, sure I knew he’d grow up and lose his baby face. I knew his braces would come off and he’d start shaving. And I knew he’d eventually graduate from high school and move on with his life. But what I didn’t anticipate is how I’d feel.

I’ve said before he changed me as a person. I finally understood the sacrifices a parent makes and how deeply you love a child. And then I had my own children and I think my heart grew to love my brother even more. It’s odd. These maternal urges just take over! This week, he played his final game of the regular soccer season. He walked across the field as a senior and was presented with a soccer ball from the team. The announcer said he wanted his teammates to remember how funny he was and that he’s going to study engineering.

Last night, I put the kids to bed and slipped over the field to watch the last part of his final home game of the season. His final season as a high schooler. I realized how much I am going to miss watching him play on these chilly evenings. He’s chosen a college that is close enough we could make a weekend trip out of seeing him play, but it’s not the same. I won’t pass him as he drives home from school. And Liam won’t get to run up to him after church for a hug.

As much as I respect my parents for choosing adoption, I’m grateful to his birth mother for choosing adoption. I’m so grateful she chose to give him to us. To give him a safe and healthy life. I wish I could tell her how much her decision has changed my entire life. I wish I could thank her for loving him that much. And I wish she had the opportunity to be as proud of him as I am.

Awesome!

I need this for my home… where we can see it every day!

It is my personal parenting goal to teach my children that we can do hard things. Life is hard. Challenges come and we are faced with how we will respond. We choose to tackle these challenges head first, asking for help if needed, and we conquer. I’ve had the Bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” in my head over the last few years, so I felt that it was an appropriate addition to the lesson. 

On the first day of school, we sat down and talked about the rocks and how we are building a foundation in their lives, one lesson {rock} at a time. By the way, Liam is the only who got this discussion… Sylvi was thinking about Ariel… So when he masters a sight word, or has a particularly awesome attitude for the day, or I catch them acting in kindness without prompting, an AWESOME ROCK goes into their jar. And lest you think that I’m just piling stones up, once they get to 10 in the jar, they get a bonus when I pay out their allowance. It’s a huge hit 🙂

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Today wasn’t the smoothest school day. Liam needs to work on ordering numbers, and he loathes practicing this. Although, he really enjoys math in general, I just haven’t found the right way to work on this skill so it’s not tedious for him. Neither child nor mother got an awesome rock. But in the afternoon, we were invited to a friend’s home to swim in their pool. I strapped on life jackets and told the kids to play… to be brave and swim without hanging on to me. Both children panicked and cried when they first realized they couldn’t touch easily. I encouraged from where I sat {close enough to help if it was needed, don’t worry!}, and actually watched the fear on their faces be replaced with determination as they moved their bodies from bobbing to kicking and stroking.

In the end, what was hard became something so fun they want to return… to swim without me. They tackled something that was hard and scary, but they did it. I’m really looking forward to tonight’s review of the day to get their thoughts on how they felt when they conquered. In the meantime, though, I’m adding some awesome rocks to their jars!

The first week

We officially made our homeschool decision in June. Once the decision was made, I went to bed and actually slept through the night for the first time in months. We LOVED the school Liam attended for preK and I just couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel settled about sending him to Kindergarten there! {Of course, now… months later… it makes complete sense as Liam’s needs have changed and the sweet people who handle his OT are becoming some of my greatest cheerleaders.}  I cried a little knowing that I wouldn’t have the amazing teachers in his our lives, but the fact of the matter is that we need to do what is best for our family {specifically Liam} and homeschooling is the answer.

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Monday morning, I fed the kids a first-day-of-school pancake breakfast and we headed into the dining room to start school. Because it was day one, every thing was shiny and new and interesting. I had very low expectations for the day for several reasons, but mainly because new routines are hard! Additionally, my parents decided after my 1st grade year that they needed to homeschool me and although I was excited to stay home, I remember being sad when my peers walked by my house on their way to school. I figured the same would be true for Liam, especially since he really thought his beloved Mrs. Lilly would also teach Kindergarten.

Monday was all unicorns and glitter. It was fun and new. Tuesday and Wednesday were challenging. We had to stop a few times and wait for attitudes to clear, but the overall day wasn’t bad. But then. Thursday and Friday Liam blew me away.

I grew up doing math as our first subject of the day, but decided for my own children, we would do reading/writing first. But on Wednesday since Liam was just not cooperating, I asked him what he wanted to do first and he chose math. Shockingly, he completed his pages and then asked to do more. Once math was done, he was cheerful about what was coming next. Thursday, I tried the same routine and again, it was a smooth day. Soooo…. Mom? You were right.

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Friday we ended the week on a high. I think I’ve finally figured out our daily routine and feel like next week we can hit the ground running. I planned a month of schooling out in advance, leaving the details to be determined on a week-to-week basis. Liam will finish the first math workbook I got him Monday and we’ll start the next Tuesday! He needs to refresh his handwriting as over the summer, he’s forgotten how to make lesser used letters and numbers. Sylvi needs to work on her pencil grip.

The upcoming week I’m hoping to keep pretty quiet. In addition to all the newness of school, we had errands that cropped up and derailed our attention or nights where the three of us hardly slept, so I’m really praying that it doesn’t happen again. But you know, just because you plan it, it doesn’t mean it will happen!