give and take // 11 years

IMG_3045

(Jasmine blooming will always signal the sweet memory of my first baby)

On this day, eleven years ago, Sean and I found out that we lost our first baby. I was into my second trimester, but I knew something was different. I vividly remember wearing a camouflage hoodie and sweats. I was walking to our dining room table, in our first home, to join our friends Mary and Jason for dessert. Jason and Sean had made a fruit tart for my friend Mary’s birthday and I sat down and knew the baby was gone. It was especially bizarre to me (and still is) that I would know the difference between having a baby alive in me, and one that was no longer. I had never been pregnant before and this was before I had felt a child kick from within me. After miscarrying a baby and giving birth to our three daughters, I’ll never, ever question the existence of a creator. It’s all too magnificent to be chance.  Only a gracious God grants us the gift of knowing the depths of joy and pain, from within our very body and soul.

I remember white-knuckling it through that dessert with my dear friends, knowing something was off, and then finding out the next day that we lost the baby…..the same day that my best friend found out she was pregnant for the first time, as well. We both cried and laughed on that day. We felt joy and pain. She went on to miscarry that child, just a week later.

We both clearly saw that the Lord, in His sovereign and divine plan, gives and takes.

The first few years after we lost that baby, I didn’t understand why. I have been known to question a God that allows so many things to occur. Look around the world. It’s wholly unjust, depraved, dark. How could a loving God choose to allow these things? It angers me. It has entangled me in doubt. Why, oh God, do you let these things continue?

Thousands of theologians have asked and answer this query. It’s nothing new and I will not offer anything more than my simple mind has come to understand. What I have finally (prayerfully) reconciled has given me solace…..both from events 11 years ago and in the years since – life certainly has been filled with darkness and anger and unfair consequences and frustrating platitudes. Loss and general heartache. What I have come to believe and hold so dear is this…..

God is Sovereign and I am not. If I choose to believe this is true (and I do) I must accept that I will not understand any part of His plan fully. All that happens is in His perfect purpose and for His glory.

This means I must accept the things He gives AND the things He takes.

***

My now-10 year old daughter just came downstairs and asked if she could cut up some bell peppers and watch Andy Griffith. Had my pregnancy been a healthy one, I would not have met Kensington Jane. It’s hard to grieve and rejoice something like that. Truly bizarre, but here I am.

The Lord allowed the loss of my first baby.

Three months later I was pregnant with my sweet first born. And four years later, my second. And two years after that….Polly.

He gives and He takes, and as always….

It is well with my soul (even when I don’t understand.)

 

The Wednesday Afternoon Post Vol. 1

vintage-1216720_960_720

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted. February flew by so quickly that I felt like I was on a roller coaster. My oldest daughter turned ten years old, towards the end of the month, and so Sean and I had much to reflect on. Mainly on how fast the years fly….it’s been on both of our hearts lately to make the very most of the time God has given us – make choices that align with our values, and spend every moment we can following what He has for us. We aren’t sure where that will lead us, but we are open.

At any rate, time marches on…..the days bleed together, and weeks turn into months, turn into years, turn into me having a child in the double digits. The days are so long, but I’ve already seen that the years are shorter than ever.

Sean and I are coming up on the 11th anniversary of the miscarriage of our first child (March 12th) and whether I anticipate it or not, I always fall into a state of melancholy. Sometimes I don’t even see it coming and WHAM….I begin to feel a small ache inside. Some years are easier than others. This year is not one of those years, I’m guessing. When I enter into times of melancholy, I am especially on the look out for things that make me wonder, dream, rest, and feel joy. Interestingly enough, when traveling through seasons like this, I find that the Lord is extremely generous in what He sends my way.  Quite some time ago, I had an actual paper newsletter I would have printed and sent out to people. I shared stories, antique news, and curiosities. I loved that little newsletter but it became time and cost prohibitive and I had to say “no more.” But, I still want to share. I love spreading news, history, and lovely information.

I thought about sharing these things with you. And then I thought about sharing them once a week. And then I thought about sharing them on Wednesdays because that day is traditionally difficult for everyone. And THEN I thought about calling it the “The Wednesday Afternoon Post” as a homage to the publication (which is still in print, BTW), one of my favorite artists, and the fact that a former editor of TSEP was also a portrait artist, and I own one of his paintings.

It all just works.

So, without further adieu….here is the first edition of:

 

“The Wednesday Afternoon Post”: Good things that bring gladness.

 

***

 

  • It’s no surprise to many that my favorite movie is Mary Poppins. It has been for a long time, and it shall remain. I heard of this reboot a few years ago, and the trailer finally came out several nights ago. I was beside myself with excitement, and even Sean was grinning from ear to ear. It’s generally not possible for me to love the holiday season any more than I already do, but this December is looking even more delightful. Watch and get excited!
  • If you have some antique cookbooks collecting dust, you may want to check out this post before you toss them.
  • What could be sweeter than the A.A. Milne classic coming to the big screen? Not much. And with Ewan McGregor staring in it? I can hardly wait.
  • It’s harbored in the recesses of my mind, but owning a bookshop is something of a small(ish) dream I have. Until Sean and I can make that happen, I will visit wonderful places like this. I would need days to scour every nook and cranny of this place.
the-barns-doors-are-soBaldwin’s Book Barn

I feel like I could go on and on and on. There are so many hidden treasures and captivating things to share. I’m looking forward to next Wednesday already!

 

out of my league // fears

FullSizeRenderFor as long as I can remember,  I’ve been afraid of only two things:

The ocean, and the death of someone I love.

I am constantly perplexed by the fear of others.

Public speaking = no problem!

Starting a new business = fun!

Signing up for a spartan run or taking a flamenco class = let’s do it!

What I’m saying is that I don’t struggle with fear or trepidation. I don’t often feel fearful or queasy when asked to try something different. In fact, it invigorates and intrigues me, to be put into situations that oppose my norms. I learn so much about myself and others – and often come away from the experience learning something completely unexpected.

And then I applied and was accepted to a Masters program.

As I’ve mentioned before, last Spring I decided to finally indulge my extreme fascination with history, and apply to be a candidate for a MA in American History. Of course I felt excitement, exhilaration and happiness during the application and acceptance period. It’s all fun and games when you are thinking about the possibilities. I’ve been an “armchair historian” for quite some time – talking off the ear of anyone who will listen about the Civil War and the demise of the Confederate Army, or the positioning of the United States in the Vietnam War, and the contentious feelings still held regarding , or the many reasons (dating back to the 1930s) why evangelical Christians might vote for a Republican candidate and how that effects public policy…..

You get the picture.

It’s all fun and games when projecting your love of a subject. It’s all fun and games during the application process and when you get that fun acceptance letter confirming, “Yeah! You’re good enough!”

And then the rubber meets the road.

I’m about seven months into my program and moving through my third course. As you can see, I’m taking the slow approach – I have three daughters who I homeschool, after-all, and I want to be both successful at that job and my attempt at higher education.  I’m not in a hurry. In fact, I’m intentionally moving slowly through the entire thing. This is so unlike my normal attitude toward almost EVERYthing. I usually jump headfirst into projects, ideas and plans. I attack, go for it, and never look back. I never feel fear.

After my second course, I had great academic standing within the program and felt really good about the work I had presented. I decided to take off a term because it was smack in the middle of the holiday season. Classes began mid-September and lasted through the first weeks of January. I ducked out of that term and instead started back up yesterday.

I thought that I was being honest with myself and wise to step back during a particularly busy period of our family life, and I was. I don’t want anything to do with anything that is going to force me to compromise my sanity or family time….BUT.

As I sat down to begin my course yesterday, I suddenly identified a feeling in my gut that I hadn’t identified before, but has been there all along. It is uncommon and unfamiliar. It is hindering me from really diving in to the class discussions and required texts.

I am afraid.

This is new to me.

I hate being this honest, but I will be. I sit in these classes with fellow students and professors that have multiple doctorates. They are published historians. Many of the students are acquiring their second and third Masters. Most of the students are fresh out of college so they are familiar with the academic world. In this program, I am being thrown into the ring and expected to just swim, when the entire idea of research proposals and papers is a wildly new concept to me – I spent three hours just figuring out how to cite a source one Saturday. This was after staying up one entire night, writing a paper and working with a writing tutor just to make sure it was “academic” enough. I’m a homeschooling mom of three that hasn’t been in a college setting since 2002. I graduated with a Liberal Studies degree and thought I would head out to teach 2nd grade. Now I’m throwing my hat into the ring with historical scholars and current students who have dedicated much time to the current area of study. I feel unqualified. I feel small.

Here’s the thing. Before you tell me I don’t “need” this degree to be qualified as a lover of history – I know that, and thank you, truly. I love history and this degree is something I want. I really do. I anticipate the many ways that the Lord may use this degree in my life. I also know that I could go my entire life without going back to school and love history just as much as the next guy. It doesn’t make me better or worse, necessarily. I am endeavoring to pursue this because I really, really desire it and think the outcome can be used for good.

But.

I feel tremendous fear because I am in a unique position where I am a very, very, very little fish in a enormous, brilliant pond. I read the books my professors have written and see the discussions that my colleges are posing and I’m all…..”Can I submit a GIF for my next paper?! Thanks!”

It’s a new thing for me, fear. It’s good, too. It’s humbling me and allowing me to work even harder. As I’m reading my course text, I literally FEEL my brain stretching. Text I would never have been challenged to pick up – pushing and pulling my brain to think differently about the area of history, the job of a historian, and my duty as a student of the past. It’s all good. I’m grateful for this opportunity.

But, I have fear.

I’m scared I will fail, or not finish.

I’m scared of being the last in line.

I fear falling on my face, and getting a proposal back with a huge F on the front.

I fear that I won’t be able to hang with the big dogs. That academia is simply not for me.

BUT….I’ll keep pressing forward….

Because I’ll never be afraid of trying.

(how’s that for being honest?)

death // truth

My friend lost her father two weeks ago. This past weekend was the memorial service.

After I had wiped away the eyeliner streaks, I had some time to sit down and actually ruminate on how swiftly this life streaks by. The slideshow at the memorial was riddled with images of Bob when he was young – like my husband. Younger than my husband. He was in love with his wife just as I am in love with my Sean.

Hugging.

Smiling at a camera before stockings are opened, or right as one of his children hopped on his lap. Normal. Every day living.

Until it’s over.

I’ve said before that funerals often serve as some the best experiences in my life. They give me a jolt of life that I often let putter out….usually lost to the more pressing issues. Bills. Schoolwork. Getting to bed early, or whatever new recipe I should throw in the crockpot.

In my mind, funerals leave me feeling one of two things. I either depart feeling mournfully joyful – knowing the person we are grieving is home with the Lord and no longer in worldly pain.

Or I leave so somber that I almost can’t feel.

No matter how we as Christians desperately try to make our belief system less offensive to an unbelieving and cynical public, we can’t escape what is truly true:

If one does not have faith in Christ, there is no peace or closure when they pass. There is no solace. There is no hope.

I hate how this statement may pain people – I really do. But, I hate even more how many Christians will resist approaching this very subject because they may offend someone.

If indeed there is no hope aside from Christ (there’s not), than we as Christians need to be intellectually honest about that and stop repeating the cultural mantra, “Find your truth.” No, there isn’t “your” truth and “my” truth.

There’s just truth.

Truth is hard. It requires change and commitment and resolve. Often I lack these things and I know the truth! Truth confronts us and doesn’t allow for halfway efforts. Of course we are sinners and will ultimately come up short, but the pursuit of truth is all-consuming, but worth the effort.

When I sat and saw the celebration of Bob’s life, I was able to really celebrate because I know he loved the Lord. He praised the Lord and told others of Him. He made disciples, going and telling and proclaiming the good news.

Funerals leave my heart sad but they also remind me of my purpose here.

It’s to tell others of the love and salvation that Christ offers.

So that each funeral need not be hopeless.

convalescing // things to hear/read/do

img_2510

Age really is just a number.

That is, until you get the H3N2. Nothing makes me more aware of my aging body than catching the “going-around” flu of the year. I thought I had escaped it. Our family (sans one child and one super-spouse) endured the dreaded winter stomach bug, just days before Christmas. We hurdled over January 1st and I thought we’d made it.

I thought I would be spared.

Nope.

I started feeling poorly last week and I just can’t kick it. It doesn’t help that I manage a cold like I manage most issues in my life, with “Mind Over Matter!” as my mantra. Which sounds all well and good until it’s day 6 and you still feel like death warmed up. I’m slowly learning the fine art of caring for myself, not that anyone has forced me not to….I simply choose to do so many other really really valuable (to us) things, and suddenly I’m forced to realize I haven’t slept or napped or exercised or rested or stopped. In five years.

I’m getting better, actually (don’t ask my friends, they might disagree.) I am starting to set down a good book, in favor of sleeping until at least 5:30am. I’m starting to allow myself to think of exercise as imperative to mental rejuvenation, rather than a luxury. I’ve even started to realize that the weekend a huge paper is due, “YOU CAN NOT HOST FOUR FAMILIES FOR APPETIZERS & DINNER, RACHEL!” This past year I’ve said “no” to a multitude of activities that sound/are amazing, in lieu of taking my small family on a quiet, local hike, where I can feel less drained, anxious or propelled to re-evaluate so many things. Peaceful mindfulness is becoming a good friend of mine. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.

I’m learning to slow down (kinda.)

This is all said with the clear recognition that I fail in my attempts, often. My husband and I are missing our weekly Couples Flamenco dance lesson (yep) because I started feeling better yesterday, and decided to go on a long run, last night. I woke up today feeling awful, and asked my always-gracious (but occasionally sassy-when-it’s-needed) friend Amanda to keep my kids, even though we weren’t going to the lesson, so I could sleep, and my hubby could rest as well. She texted me that I was crazy to go to the gym in the first place, but of course she would watch my kids.

She’s right. Like I said….I’m learning.

While I want to get up and vacuum my house RIGHT NOW, and do the dishes/laundry/homeschool planning….I’m choosing to sit down and do nothing. It’s rare, but man, it’s nice. I rather like it, actually.

Being forced to be still isn’t something I want to be known for, so I’ll take this physical admonition, enjoy it, and remember that just because one is restful and still, we should never assume they are not purposeful, intentional and living the life that God deems faithful. I think at times I’ve made the mistake of assuming because I’m busy, my life has purpose.

This just isn’t so.

Like I said….I’m learning.

In any case, I thought I would use this chance to share with you some really wonderful resources that I have been learning and growing from. We are living in a time of so much information and that can be a really huge blessing. I love looking for pockets of time, throughout my day, where I can read, listen to a podcast, watch a video or skim a magazine.

I received a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas (my people know me) and here are a few books that just came in:

img_2381

I’m not finished with them all, but I would recommend each of them, nevertheless.

I’m a huge HUGE student of the life of Winston Churchill, and his part in history. Oh my goodness, I can’t get enough. THIS and THIS are must-haves, if you’re at all interested in his life. I also love this one, which is endearing and places Sir Winston in a more “sweet” light.

I’ve long been a follower of R.C. Sproul, his ministry and his theology. He passed away last month and I was so very sad that the believing world lost such a leader. One of my favorite resources to hand fellow Christians (or those searching) is the web address of Ligonier Ministries. It’s chalk full of videos, sermons and literature on living a life for Christ, and was begun by Dr. Sproul. I also highly recommend their monthly devotional pamphlet, TABLETALK, which is a ministry of Ligonier. It comes to my door each month, and I smile. It challenges me. I’m working through two books by Sproul and I believe they would be beneficial for any believer, no matter what stage of your spiritual journey you’re in. You won’t regret adding THIS and THIS to your home library (or any of his books, truthfully.)

I know that “history” isn’t for everyone, but I think it should be! It illuminates and adds context to modern-day issues, as well as being downright fascinating! You can be knee-deep in history by this evening, with a few resources I’ve recently devoured. Podcasts (once vetted) are a wonderful thing. FREE and full of information, opinion and story-telling! I’m so in love with this type of media because I can learn while engaging in other activities I need to accomplish (read: laundry.) It’s a win-win.

Without further adieu, here’s a very short list of historically-centered podcasts that will make your heart sing:

American History Tellers (new podcast with amazing narration and frames history with fictional stories which allow you to feel like you are living it)

The Christian History Podcast (how churches came to be, essentially)

Tides of History (supurb story-telling and context)

History Unplugged (a huge catalog of episodes, covering events from JFK to French trappers to Leif Erikson to the Siege of Malta)

Letters From War (my new favorite podcast by the WaPo, based on old letters found in a storage unit!)

***

As I was writing this post, I realized I have some unspent Amazon dollars and I’m purchasing THIS, THIS (an oldie but particularly relevant,) and THIS (curious the narrative here) with the remains…..have you read any of these? What did you think?

A good recommendation is one of my favorite things, so share what you’re into right now!

Alright, I’m off to lay in bed, drink a luke-warm cup of coffee, and start a Netflix show. Here’s to hoping I kick this cold and learn my lesson….

Slowing down is a very good (and hard) thing to learn.

this is parenting // this is life now

IMG_2479

Edited to add:

Within 12 hours of writing this post, I found out that a dear friend lost her father and a friend of the family had passed. Within the last few months, Sean and I have watched people we know lose their battle to cancer, be diagnosed with debilitating disease, or walk through dark trials of losing children, coming up short with finances or facing fears. Within the last few years, Sean and I have walked through some really difficult life circumstances alongside many of our best of friends, managing to deal with their own hardships. Why do I share this? Because it adds an additional layer of deep richness to the following post. While we are parenting, we are still living life. The good, the bad and the incredibly painful. And the only way to walk through it, plainly stated, is to walk right through it.

Hand in hand with your children. Your spouse. And know the Lord is doing something. Something much larger than we could imagine.

***

I’m laying in bed, at 4:45pm, with my three year old. She has bilateral ear and throat infections and is generally miserable. She only wants mommy. The other two are downstairs watching television, which I hate because I often feel guilty about their “screen time” (thanks, 2010-2018 parenting blog posts+case studies) and there is laundry/dishes/homeschool prep that needs getting to. So much laundry.

But here I lay, watching Bubble Guppies (her choice, not mine) because it’s all that keeps her from grabbing her ear and shrieking (not an exaggeration) in pain. She’s irritated that I’m typing and not watching, but I haven’t sat once today and had, once upon a time in 2017, told myself I would write more frequently, in 2018. Which has been going just as I expected.

This is motherhood.

Parenting has so many shapes, sub-divisions, and emotions. I don’t even have time to feel like I’ve figured something out, before I start to feel confused again. It’s not always a bad confusion – it’s more like being a mathematician, and being handed a complicated algorithm, and asked to trace its origin {can you tell I am extremely inept with math, by that example?} You enjoy the process because you’re a mathematician, after all. But, it’s challenging, and the second you’ve solved something, another “something” arises.

From decoding the range of emotions that pre-adolescent females are discovering, to explaining why some relationships flourish while others wither, to navigating anxiety, anger, compulsions or sin….parenting is overwhelming.

Those descriptions could, at first glance, seem like they merit complaint or that I’m only characterizing the negative parts of parenting, but it’s not meant to be that way. To raise children is a gift that I couldn’t possibly take for granted. I’m glad to walk through confusion, life-altering happiness, and deep grief with my husband and children. I would have it no other way, although I’m sure if someone explained to me the in’s and out’s of parenthood, prior to giving birth….I might have declined, initially.

There’s no way of understanding until you’re inside the vortex and that’s a very good thing. We are selfish by nature and parenthood is about giving, in large part, and I’m convinced we wouldn’t choose it on most days – if you didn’t understand the amazing give-back and refining it pushes you towards. God has used parenting to expose me, leave me floundering and bring me unparalleled purpose. Being a parent has also elevated my affection for my husband – marrying him and being linked to him, for the rest of my life, is the greatest joy I will have this side of heaven. I never have enough words to describe my deep pleasure with the covenant of marriage. Being allowed to raise children is often something I am amazed by – why on earth would I be permitted to guide, raise and educated small souls?! It’s quite a gift.

With all these things said (and many others, in posts from the past), I wish to express the beautiful and generally exhausting task of being a parent, being a faithful family member, and being a generous wife.

But man, it’s hard.

I’m constantly questioning if I’m “doing it right”. I wonder if I’m going to screw my kids up by homeschooling, if I’m too strict, if I’m too loose, if I don’t teach them enough about God, if I preach too much at them, if I do too many Bible lessons and not enough STEM projects. I think about how much their reading vs. playing outdoors, or maybe the food I’m feeding them is going to eventually eat their insides and leave them with a disease since it’s not all organic. I yell too much! I don’t yell enough. I’m not their friend enough. I spend too much time with them! I go on too many date nights with my husband. I’m raising entitled kids in SoCal and they aren’t exposed to the real world! They are too exposed, aren’t they?! I’m too protective! I’m not protective enough! I don’t let them express themselves enough, oh my gosh I let them express themselves way too much STOP IT KIDS. And the worst fear of all. The one that keeps me up at night, often.

What if my children never really know the Lord? What if…..

It’s a hamster wheel of revolving emotions. And I’m convinced it never, ever stops. Parents just get better at not freaking out quite as much, the older their children get. They’re still grappling with it because you never stop being a parent.

Your kids may leave you, hate you, love you, respect you, or never want your opinion.

But that will never change the fact that you’re still the human that bathed them, changed them, reassured them and gave them the tools for adulthood.

That is why it’s so exhausting.

I can deal with ear infections alllll day long because it’s temporary. But the rest of being a mother – the realizing that the Lord instructs me how to act virtuously towards my children, yet one day they will leave and may never understand anything Sean and I did – that’s my stumbling block. Because I am not perfect and I fail (often) and have to ask forgiveness, from my children. I only have a few years and man…..I hope I’m doing enough. I hate the vulnerability of it, but there isn’t another way to be. In the end, I’m simply an instrument to be used in their formation. An instrument to draw them closer to Him, His truth and His virtue. That’s it.

God is teaching me. He’s humbling me. He’s breaking me, and He is lifting my head.

This is parenting. This is motherhood. This is the most beautiful season of life. Right now.

motherhood // fuzzy brain

 

img_2389

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

FullSizeRender

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

img_1998

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.

img_1992

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.

img_2011

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.

img_2003

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.

img_2013

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!)

img_2016

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.”

img_1982

(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.

img_2007

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.