new season // moving

IMG_3207I didn’t forget to post “The Wednesday Afternoon Post” last week. I just had no spare time, whatsoever. I promise I wanted to!

Our little family has made the huge decision to move to Virginia, from Southern California. We are thrilled (to say the least) but even with how excited we are….it comes with very real sadness. We are leaving the people who have stood with us through marriage, parenthood, and life in general. But, because they are such amazing people, and we are all so woven together, Sean and I are confident that this will, in many ways, draw us closer to one another. We have always said that we know some of the most gracious, real, and selfless people in the world. Announcing we are moving has proven this – they have all rallied and are there, each step we take. I couldn’t ask for more. The Lord has truly blessed us both in the relationship category.

I’ve never moved across the country before. The most I’ve even moved is down the street. I’m moving out of the state I was born and raised in, and I’m moving to a state that I know little about, but am already falling in love with. The history! The seasons! Rain and snow! Land in my front yard! So many things to feel joyful about. And yet….so many questions and thoughts.

What will this new normal look like?

Will we find a new church that we love?

Will we find community like we have formed here?

All we can do is trust and obey. Go in faith and know that the Lord has gone before us, has a plan for us, and loves us. The unknown is looming over my head in a very anticipatory and exciting way. There’s a part of me that wants to rip the bandaid and be there already, and a part of me that never wants to leave.

(if you’d like to follow along with our journey to Virginia in a more photo sense, I re-opened an Instagram acct @rachel.r.reeves)

 

flicker in the dark // the innocent child

I was struck by something last evening. It so profoundly moved me that I spent the entire evening (well into the wee hours of the night) thinking about it. How on earth it hadn’t astonished me hundreds of times prior, I’ll never understand. Conceptually, I know this idea, and I even write about it. Share the concept with my friends, and encourage the very cultivation of it within our home. And yet, it took a specific moment to send an electric charge of recognition throughout my mind and body.

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Last night, I witnessed and acutely understood the mind-blowing and intense brilliance of my children’s innocence. 

Without divulging the entirety of the conversation, I’ll share that, last night, Kensington learned what a miscarriage is. Sean had bought a large pot and a succulent for each child we’ve had together. As he was potting it, Kensington asked what the “other” small succulent was for. He answered, “That symbolizes the baby that mom and I lost.” She had the face of complete bewilderment. I instantly realized we had never explained it to her. Why? I really don’t know. Possibly because I don’t like talking about my pain, but I’ve gotten much better at that in the last few years, so I’m not all together sure, but there it was. Sean gave a very simple explanation that some babies simply stop growing – their heart stops – and they are gone.

I will never, ever forget her eyes. She went from innocence to knowing. In fifteen seconds flat, she knew something, a dark thing, that she will never not know. She instantly burst into tears, which I didn’t expect. She apologized over and over again to us. That it happened, that she feels bad for wondering what it would be like to have an older sibling, and back to apologizing. My heart broke for her new understanding, because it’s just one step closer to her entering into this world where us adults reside, (and have grown quite accustomed to, by the way.) She’s had that same look in her eyes when she learned about slavery. When I had to explain the procedures and actions they are to take if someone tried to take them. When we explained to them why foster children need homes.

That broken, glassy-eyed stare of recognition. They take one more step toward dark.

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We do live in a dark and depraved world and to accept anything but that fact is willful negligence. It’s why Christ came to save. If we were clean, there would be no need, but we are a creation that is eating itself from the inside out. There are beautiful strands of grace and joy, of course, but this place is scary. This place needs a Savior. I think we, as adults, forget how dark things are. But one look in my eldest’s eyes reminded me of the vast gloom.

And my girls don’t know it yet….at least not much of it.

When I saw her face last night It was like an electric shock zapped me. I thought,

“Oh my gosh. The innocence of a child is remarkable. Simply brilliant. It’s the still remaining light in the somber overcast.

It almost steals my breathe just thinking about it, as I write. It is something that is inherent in each little being, and can be gone in a literal second. Stolen, never to be replaced. My girls walk around still believing in good, lovely, and delightful things. They talk to stuffed animals and dance awkwardly in front of friends because WHO CARES?! To think someone might care is to acknowledge at some point, someone is going to judge you based on something ridiculous. They ask important questions and come to luminous conclusions because nothing is at stake with them – except, that is, the truth. They have no phones or way to contact their friends, so when they see them, they are all in. They laugh and play and then shriek in horror when it’s time to go, because they can’t text them 10 seconds later. They don’t try to do good things because they’re going to post about it, or start the next non-profit. They just live.

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My girls don’t know what pornography is.

Or sex.

Or human trafficking.

Or illicit hatred.

Or corporate greed.

Or adultery.

Or domestic abuse.

They just wake up, eat cereal, learn, read, run and play, get a consequence for talking back, do cartwheels in the front yard, yell across the street to their friends, talk about their favorite ice cream flavor, say their prayers, go to bed and sleep. Wake up, repeat.

Stop and think for just one second about your child’s innocence. Really, really think about it. The glorious gift they have right now of not knowing.

Because of this not knowing, their lives are so so small.

But because of this not knowing, their lives are so so much bigger than ours.

It won’t always be, but please Lord, please let it be for awhile longer.

give and take // 11 years

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(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.)

 

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

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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:

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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

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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

 

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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.

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.

enchanted // charmed

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When life moves at the speed of light, one can completely miss enchantment. The type of magical distraction that catches your eye and occupies your thoughts for too long – way past the point of guilty pleasure. You’re attempting to simmer soup or craft a thank you note and voila! Another charming image flashes in your mind and removes necessary tasks from your list. Your brain is a whirly gig and finding the spot you left off on is impossible (this happened to me twice today while making a grocery list.)

We’ve all been known to take a sabbatical from being charmed – some for longer than others, in a natural, yet depressing, “I’m an adult now and must put off these youthful flights of fancy” type of way. Life has been known to deal lethal blows of well, life, and we forget how to live altogether. Mundane exchanges and responsibilities are somewhat soothing, much like the ticking of an old clock, but think of what we might be missing.

The things that charm me are plenty and diverse. sometimes so plentiful that I’ll forget how dazzled I can be by normal things like postage stamps and designer dog collars. Darling door stops and the small finger nails on a toddler, reaching for a crayon. Words of an old poem that still contain modern wisdom, wet cement drawings or model ships in a glass bottle (I saw one recently -fascinating!) The curve of an old tree with a forgotten birdhouse, or the precise positioning of antique photography in a home that hasn’t had visitors in years. Nightstand books, witty tip jar signs or a fairy tale heard for the first time. Small candles in front windows or the promise of rain. Handmade dollhouse furniture, piles of old letters that have no owner but still hold memories or small pieces of taffy in wax paper. Emerging from a book only to realize you gladly lost two hours of your afternoon. Seashells half the size of a penny or the way teacups and saucers clink when they meet.

Down each street is something that catches my eye but each season allows for the amount of time I’ll spend in appreciation. There are seasons where charm is limited and grit, stone streets and drab is all I seem to see. Gladly, those seasons have been few in my life, but as I grow older I am finding them more frequent, because, let’s be honest….life can be downright painful. Amidst the pain and corkscrew turns however, there is much to be entranced by. This electric world, created with just a few words, is busting with color and small confetti-like moments, people, creations, words, things.

I’m on a hunt to find them all. Discover the hidden-in-plain-sight magic that is all around me.