motherhood // fuzzy brain

 

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I’ve started this post 13 times.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my brain about motherhood, marriage, and life. There is no shortage of philosophical and theological self-discussions ruminating in my mind. Often, I lay awake at night and just think. I can’t turn it off.

But here I am, trying to formulate a coherent thought to share….and it won’t come. I have the entire house, kid free, for an hour and a half and….nothing.

I spend almost every waking hour (and often the sleeping ones too) with my children and the one quiet moment I get….

All I can manage to do is walk around and think, “It sure is quiet here without them.”

Ah, motherhood.

dropping rain // catching joy

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We fell back into our usual routine today, five weeks after we broke for Christmas. The girls cracked open their school books, dishes littered my kitchen counter, as I ignored the necessary washing, in exchange for helping with math problems and reading that extra chapter.

I miss Christmas.

I know, I know…so does everyone. Well, maybe not everyone. I realize there are some who don’t derive as much excitement, from December 25th, as I do. Still, I wish Christmas music was playing and my heart of celebration was full. It can’t always be, not in the same way at least. It’s like I tell my children (when they question if they can keep alllllll the toys they’ve ever been given), “If everything is special, nothing is.”

It can’t be Christmas all the time, but we can keep the spirit of it. I am endeavoring to do that in small and large ways, beginning with the pursuit of joy in the most simplistic and ordinary moments. I believe that in the past three years, I have let joy slip away. It’s not that I’m not happy….it’s that I become burdened too easily and slink into a state of despondency. Often times it is warranted. Things have been difficult. My natural inclination slides towards depression and I have struggled heavily with darkness since I was an older child. I won’t go into details about that – I’m not even sure I understand myself enough to share anything helpful – but I do know that I must reclaim joy. For my own survival, for my children, and husband. For the Lord because He implores me to rejoice (even when my constitution says otherwise – James 1:2-3, Romans 15:13, 1 Peter 1:8-9, Psalm 30:5.)

On days like today, it’s rather easy to find joy.

It’s raining (one of my very favorite things), my girls enjoyed our first day back to school, we learned quite a bit, and have two houseguests who are bringing whimsy to some more mundane moments. I even have a bowl of Pho planned for dinner, which I can already taste. My insides are warm just thinking of it. Maybe a movie tonight. Some moments of peace, on the couch, with my people. Easy joy.

But there are many moments where joy is work. It seems to me (and I believe this must just be the season of life we are in) that heaviness is hitting everyone I know. Joy can be difficult. But, I am pursuing it. Asking the Lord for it – thinking about it so I may turn my attention to the beautifully sacred task of living on this earth – all for the glory of the Lord. He will use my moments of affliction and He will provide joy. I trust that.

But I will seek it out.

And enjoy a warm bowl of Pho. That can’t hurt either.

***

If you struggle with depression or love someone who does, I can’t recommend this book enough. Please consider buying it and learning more about yourself or loved one. It was a game changer for me and, surprisingly, brought me much joy.

This sermon series on joy is wonderful.

Here is a vast collection of writings on the topic of joy.

it’s here // christmas 2017

I should have penned something by now.

It’s 1 day from Christmas and I feel like this month has slipped through my hands, against all of my best and most hopeful efforts to produce the opposite effect. And that’s how Christmas usually appears and disappears for me – in a blur. A quick burst of warm light and it’s over. Even when I try my very hardest, there is never enough time for me to fully bask in the glory of Christmas.

I’m not sure there will ever be enough time for my rejoicing of the Christ child.

My lamenting of the time I wasted the prior year.

My pondering how I can draw in closer to the Lord, in the coming year.

I want to sit in the quiet, beautiful, awe-filled presence of He who became human.

I’ll never have enough time. No advent season is long enough. No month can give me enough time to fully celebrate in my heart, what Christ has done for me.

And so I will keep Christmas, and its spirit, all year. Every day and every moment, in my heart. I’ll keep it so I won’t have to wait for one month a year to feel that booming, heart-pounding, inspired emotion that the idea of the manger leaves me with. No calendar can confine my adoration for the One who gives me meaning, life and existence.

Christmas will be all year in my heart. The spirit will live throughout the months.

The awe never-ending.

melting snow // forever memories

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I’m sitting in our hotel room after running through the streets of Boston. Not “running for exercise”, running. We “ran” home from breakfast (we found a local joint that we love, and have eaten there for the last three mornings) in the biting wind and cold.

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I’m positioned next to our in-room fireplace, and in between staring at the flames and listening to the crackling wood, I’m thinking of all of the many memories I’m going to take home with me.

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To many, traveling with kids isn’t their ideal. It seems that they struggle through the whole event, making the best of it. While traveling with young ones indeed presents unique challenges, It also (at least for my husband and I) exposes us to beautiful and simple pleasures that we may have not noticed, otherwise.

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Children are captivated by their senses and not afraid to share their raw emotion, at the drop of a hat. I love that about kids – they are so genuine. They also notice things we won’t – they are at a different level, not concerned by details, timelines and itineraries; free to see. It takes so much less to impress and please them, than adults.

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My girls had never seen snow before this trip. I have an almost ten year old, almost seven year old, and one that is just three.  Upon learning there might be snowfall, the girls went absolutely insane. They knew what they had missed out on, all these years – the photos of snow have left them wondering what it must feel, taste and look like. They lived in anticipation for a good 24 hours – excited for something that adults on the street are completely annoyed with (and I’m not saying I wouldn’t be, if I had to shovel it!)

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When they woke up, they wouldn’t stop asking, “When will it start?!” and I just held my breath, waiting. If it didn’t snow, I knew I’d feel so sad for them. We walked down to the hotel lobby, where the girls had made so many friends – the concierge, the bell men and valets. My middle child (who prayed for snow twice the evening before) was talking to a lady behind the desk when a man walked in and announced, “Well, it’s snowing. It’s started.”

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(Polly was skeptical of public transportation but quickly fell in love with the “train”.)

My daughter screamed. She ran to the door and screamed again, “IT’S SNOWING MOM DAD IT’S SNOWING.”

I started crying.

The joy my girls had, upon seeing snow for the first time, was every feeling I had ever wanted to feel, as a parent, all rolled into one precious and melting moment, that I felt come over me like the first taste of a warm drink when you are frozen to the bone. I felt like laughing and crying and hugging everyone in my reach.

But I just stood there and watched. Watching as my girls ran outside and opened wide their mouths to catch snowflakes.

I will never forget that moment. Ever.

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That moment, and so many others, are the reason I cherish living every day with my girls. Traveling with them, talking with them, teaching them, and raising them alongside my beautiful husband.

In between moments of frustration and exhaustion is sandwiched so many moments of sheer magic. And often, when I choose to stop being an adult and slow down, I recognize that the magical moments happen all the time, really.

I just miss them because one day, long ago, I grew up.

cradle of liberty // traditions born

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(A portrait of Alexander Hamilton in the MFA, which you simply must visit)

I feel like I’m not the only person who isn’t all together broken-hearted to see 2017 in the rear-view mirror. It was a difficult year for so many I know, including our little family of five. 2017 was a year of change, transition, learning and growth, and December finds my husband and I more grateful than ever for one another, and our close group of loved ones.

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(The girls and I in Harvard Yard at the Widener Library)

While the past three hundred and sixty five days presented some challenges, my spouse was quick to remind me, the other evening, that there were some amazing things that occurred in 2017 – As such, I’m choosing to focus on my thankfulness for those moments, and the memories that surround them.  God isn’t only good during the years that we are happy with the outcomes. No, He is good all the time, and deserving of my gratefulness and trust in His ultimate plan.

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(Lunch at Union Oyster House – the oldest operational restaurant in the U.S)

Sean and I decided that a wonderful way to end a year, with so many learning experiences, would be a trip. We decided on Boston. The children and I have never been and being an armchair historian, I’ve been dying to go. Like, DYING.

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(Sean and Frankie eating breakfast at The Friendly Toast, which was divine)

I want to write an entire post about the research I did and itinerary I created (maybe I will someday, but currently I’m in a hotel room with three kids under 10 years old so….yeah.) Suffice it to say, I’m crossing off so many bucket list destinations and having an amazing time, in a beautiful and bustling city.

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(The grave of Paul Revere. I may have cried. Maybe)

The husband and I have decided a December family vacation (if it’s financial option) should become a Reeves family tradition. Everything from the plane ride, to the city walks, to the early morning (freezing) walks down Boylston, have been delightful. Of course there have been normal irritations and difficulties – how could there not be? But those things are so overshadowed by the simple gratefulness for this opportunity.

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(Granary Burying Ground – est. 1660 on the Freedom Trail. One of my favorite stops.)

Sometimes it takes a difficult year (or two, in my case) to grow a grateful heart into an EXTREMELY grateful life disposition. I feel like I am continually thinking about all the blessings in my life – more so than I ever have before – and I have heartache to thank for it.

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(I’m only a *little* excited to be here. Just a bit.)

Boston has been incredible, and it’s only our third day. I have so many thoughts, reviews and “feels” about visiting the “Cradle of Liberty” but I don’t have the time to write as concisely and perfectly as I would see fit to do.

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(Freedom Trail, here come the Reeves gals!)

Take my word for it – Boston is remarkable. If you’re a history-loving patriot like I am, you’ll fall in love instantly.

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(Samuel Adams!!)

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(The site of the first U.S. Public School – Boston Latin School. Now memorialized by beautiful hopscotch ground art)

Beantown…..you’ve stole my heart.

*this is just day 1+2 of our trip, so there will be more to share, I’m certain…..

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(The Reeves take over the infamous Duck Tour. Worth it.)

reading now // next to my armchair

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As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Christmas is a time of peace, quiet and lingering, for our family. Surprisingly to most people, our December calendar is generally pretty empty. Towards the end of the month, we really hibernate, spend time with friends, and hunker down together (hopefully this year, in the mountains.)

As we spend our days together, we are surrounded by several things – good food, good people and good books. This Friday announces the beginning of December, but I’ve already kicked off our Christmas reading (we already have our tree up, so why not?!)

Below I share the books we currently have our noses in – some holiday related. I hope you’ll find one that sounds just perfect to accompany a warm cup of tea, and a comfortable blanket. I have a turquoise armchair that I like to curl up in (with an electric blanket that my family teases me about, relentlessly) and these are some of the books you’ll find on the table, next to my cuppa.

Enjoy!

Next to my armchair:

The Common Book of Prayer (my copy was found at an estate sale, but they sale them on Amazon and they are red, too)

Come Let Us Adore Him (this is a new way to celebrate advent and the anticipation of the birth of the Christ child. I’m very excited to begin this)

Mere Motherhood (i love this real, raw account of a veteran homeschooling mother)

Pleasing People (a convicting, must-read for us recovering, type-A people pleasers)

Respectable Sins (an even more convicting book)

The LifeGiving Table (a beautiful call to intentional “being” with our family and loved ones)

For Advent:

A Simple Advent Guide by Tsh Oxenreider (new this year, it’s simple and lovely)

We Light the Candles (we’ve used this in years past and love it’s simplicity and focus on Christ)

Slow + Sacred (created by my dear friend, it’s simply beautiful)

For the children:

An Orange For Frankie (just heartwarming – in tears by the end)

Seek and Find Christmas Carol (adorable for the kids to do together – whimsical illustrations)

Little House Christmas (if you love the Ingalls family, you’ll love these short excerpts – we read one a week, by the fire)

Little Woman Christmas (Alcott makes Christmas so darn charming)

Happy Reading!

book list 2017 // something for everyone

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Every.Single.Christmas.Season I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what gifts to give. I really do enjoy buying the perfect gift for my loved ones – something special that will uniquely fit a person’s personality and interests.

I had a flashbulb moment this year (and I’m not sure why on earth I hadn’t thought of this earlier). I was blow-drying my hair (when all my best ideas happen) and I thought, “This is the year of books! Everyone gets a book!” It’s a pretty perfect idea – I adore literature, and there really is a book for every person – opening a world of new ideas, opinions and thoughts. Books grow and teach us. They soften us. They are the perfect, thought-filled gift.

This year, in between shopping for my friends and family at the bookstore, I decided to also compile a book list for you. As with any booklist, mine is obviously not exhaustive. Many of the books dearest to me don’t even appear. It pained me to not include each and every amazing title that I’ve enjoyed or gleaned from, but it’s just not possible!

The books I selected have been read by me this year, or are those that I pick when asked for a suggestion in that specific category. It doesn’t mean they are the only suitable choices, simply my go-to’s and ones that have proved perfectly fitting. There are at least another 30+ I could add for each category (and hundreds more for history lovers, educators and children!) Alas, that wouldn’t help you much, would it? To that end, I endeavored to keep my selections to a minimum.

Again, there are so many others I wanted to add, and if you need additional selections, contact me! I’d love to help you find the exact book you are searching for.

ENJOY and here’s to reading!

Note: There is much crossover amongst the categories. Please take a look at each, for you might find something that suits a completely different person than suspected!

***

 

For the student of theology and religious study:

For the homeschool mother:

For the sports lover:

For the new-ish Elementary school reader:

For the the food & feast lover/entertainer in your life:

For the political junkie and social issues aficionado:

For the science-fiction/fantasy lover:

For the hurting or grieving:

For the dad who doesn’t have enough time to read:

For your husband:

For the exhausted mom:

For the classically-inclined young lady:

For the middle schooler who isn’t completely won over by current YA fiction:

For the young one in the family (picture books and short read-alouds):

For the skeptic:

For the eagerly-growing Christian:

For the history buff:

For the poetry/short story/essay lover:

For the older and wiser women in your life:

For your grandparent:

For that adorable pre-schooler in your family:

For the fiction-reader:

For your sister:

For the family who loves to read aloud together:

For the education-lover:

***

I hope this list proves beneficial. I had a wonderful time compiling it for you.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas came early // breaking tradition

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Breaking tradition felt good and needed.

I didn’t apologize or care that I wasn’t supposed to.

After the year I’ve had, I looked at my husband last weekend and said, “Do we HAVE to wait until people leave on Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas?” To which he wisely answered, “Of course not! Let’s go get a tree right now. Who cares if it’s fake. Who cares?”

So we bucked 15 years of marital traditions. 37 years of resolute Christmas choices on my end. Real trees only. Christmas music in December only. NO talk of anything Christmas before Thanksgiving! No!

We bucked tradition and we decorated, listened to Christmas carols and sipped hot toddies on November 13th. A cardinal sin in my house.

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It felt good. It felt sooo good.

And maybe no one would have cared if I did this a decade ago. Maybe I created these so-called Christmas fundamentalist people in my mind, because I myself was one (although people get really heated about the Christmas carol discussion, which is hilarious.)

I was a Christmas fundie for no good reason. It’s exhausting caring so much about non-salvation issues.

It’s good to grow up and realize. And celebrate joy when needed. And break tradition, once in awhile.

fourth year // thankful

My first year homeschooling was spent figuring out how I would answer the question, “But your child goes to a great private school. Why homeschool?”

My second year of homeschooling was spent thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m exhausted but this is amazing, What the heck have I done?”

My third year of homeschooling was spent thinking, “This is the hardest year of my life and maybe I’m not cut out to do this and deal with life, at the same time.”

…..but this fourth year of homeschooling has largely been spent thinking, “Thank you Lord that I stayed the course. This opportunity is incredible and I’m so grateful I’m doing this. Thank you for sustaining me.”

God knows the seasons we will encounter – they are no surprise to Him and when the tide rolls over us, before we have time to gather our belongings and RUN!…..He is there. Reminding us that He’s got us in the palm of His hand. Us and our ridiculous life circumstances. It’s comforting.

 

There have been times in the last four years that I have wished I had margin to breathe. Homeschooling is all-consuming (no seriously, there’s no downtime except maybe at 1:45am), and that can prove to be difficult when walking through unexpected and painful times. However, the all-consuming nature of your children being at home is also a very special (and unexpected) gift. The created family culture that I’ve witnessed is remarkable. What was once a desire to give my child a custom education and “be around them” has turned into much, much, MUCH more than that. I am seeing benefits of our learning, growing and aging together, that I never expected. Ever.

To some, homeschooling must seem like a rogue choice to stick it to the education system. Sure, there’s a bit of that. But if that’s all people think homeschooling is, they are missing so much of its rich value.

Year four is rewarding Sean and I in many ways and,

I.

AM.

ABOUNDING.IN.

THANKFULNESS.

month of peace // glow

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Christmastime smells different to me. It’s in the air (yes, even Southern Californian air.) I can feel the change and I’m not referring to constant LEXUS car commercials, frenzied mall shopping, or holiday tunes in mid-October.

No,

From the last day of November until fireworks usher in the New Year, our family finds itself truly living in the glow of the season. I like to believe that it is just as wonderful as I imagine it in my mind, and it certainly is, but this is only because I actively set aside the normal and embrace the magical. The light-filled month of December is our true homage to life-giving truth and love. Feeling the warmth of the Christ-child and His birth. Knowing that all of life can be a bit muddled but inside our hearts and home, there is space. Rest.

My girls (and I) pack away the more vigorous aspects of homeschool – notebooks and science experiments are placed on a shelf and replaced with the finer things in life. There are moments that I wonder why we don’t park in this space for an entire year but I then reflect on the value of this season. How it deserves to be placed a bit higher. Reverence. Time allotted to breath, peacefully reflect and quietly learn.

If this all sounds a bit emotionally and nostalgically charged, it’s because it is. This month has become sacred in our house – the girls know that it won’t be filled with calendars and daily routines. No assignment lists or checked boxes. As a creature who thrives on rhythm and order, December is the time when I breath a sigh of relief and allow time to run away from me. No grand expectations or requirements. I want this month to be rife with tranquility and (as we have been working toward a new family culture) the last few years definitely have granted us rest and warmed souls. While the world outside speaks of stress and anxiousness – booked evenings and overspending, I relish in this time with my girls and husband. We intentionally keep our days clear and allow them to organically fill. It takes work but it is a worthy investment. When the moments of wonder come and overtake us with awe, we are ready. We don’t miss it.

Tangibly speaking, we transform our normal routines and clean house. We fill our home with books which reflect the season. We slowly rise and linger more at the table, speaking of the weather (although often it changes to the weather somewhere else, as SoCal weather is pretty basic during December) and eating really, really rich and heartwarming food. It certainly isn’t a strict time of moderation, but rather savoring very good things – because we have time to appreciate them, without rushing. A fire is constantly roaring, whether outside or in and allows hours of inviting friends in, cooking and baking. Long walks through our neighborhood, although often treaded, take on completely invigorating scenery. I take a term-long break from my normal schoolwork, forsaking the studies towards my masters degree for a 6 week term in paper crafts, baking cookies and glitter glue. Writing a letter that has been due. Sitting longer and not feeding the urge to jump up and do do do. Basking in the good and hard memories of years past – allowing room for the Lord to heal and bring about renewal.

All of these things are possible. If only we hand over our busy inclinations and remain.

So, I wait. I bake pumpkin bread and cook a turkey and feel extremely thankful. I enjoy the month of November because it’s more time the Lord has granted me with my girls, my friends and my husband.

But I wait. And I wait.

Because the season of peace is almost upon us.

***

Dear reader,

If this all seems rather whimsical, it really isn’t……It’s simply a call to give the best part of you to the season of Christmas, rather than allow the commercialization of December to eat your alive. I encourage you to carve out days, weeks and moments this upcoming season to dedicate to filling your soul with promises from the Lord and His truth, goodness and salvation. It’s not as intensive as it may seem. It’s a gift the Lord offers each of us.

Bring a basket into your living room and fill it to the brim with books that bring families together such as this advent, these short stories, or my personal favorite Christmas book (which can be read all year long.) Read whenever it comes to you, without regard to time (well, I mean, you have to feed your children and stuff.)

Wrap yourself in a blanket and sit with your kids. Light a candle, turn on a beautiful Pandora station (Christmas hymns station is our go to) and play a game or two. Bake. Play cards with your kids and light a fire. Make something simple for your neighbors and give yourself time to walk over to their homes and actually talk with them. Take all the opportunities to serve at your church and in your community (and easy way to serve others that I’m sure your church is doing also.) The season is hard for many people – give your time and resources to others. Come home and talk with your children about it. Create a culture of giving and inviting. Sing Christmas hymns over bacon and cinnamon rolls. Watch a movie as a family. Work on forgiveness, even when it takes time and is especially painful. Call someone who you struggle with – someone who doesn’t deserve it.

Sit and bask in your tree, advent, Bible. Allow the season to slowly wash over you and keep the Lord locked in your vision and in your heart. Give Him this season in the small ways and He will hand it back to you in the largest way possible.

Be still and know. Submerge in the glow, peace and comfort of Christ.