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Saturday with 7

May 14, 2016

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Saturday’s…in America the day of rest before the day of rest. Saturday’s were made for brunch, sleeping in and casually catching up.

Until there are 7 of you. Then Saturday’s become about baseball, running errands, doing laundry and surviving.

Surviving the sibling squabbles that started before 8am, the to-do list that seems longer than the day and the internal voices telling you that everyone is having more fun than you are.

Until you reclaim it.

Reclaiming Saturday looks like running errands with one of the kids and making it quality time.

Reclaiming Saturday looks like sitting at the baseball field and calling it community.

Reclaiming Saturday looks like having friends over and making the most of every minute.

Reclaiming Saturday with Seven looks like counting your blessings (even if those blessings are crying constantly, leaving messes and following you around with non-stop chatter).

We only get to do today once, we might as well make it count, even if it IS Saturday.

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Prayer.

May 11, 2016

Praying Hands

…just taking a moment as I walk around my house and fix breakfast to reflect on the almost odd practice of prayer.

Prayer is a practice that I engage often. Sometimes I engage it publicly, but most often privately. Even then, it seems to be such a mysterious and almost mystic practice to me.

I still have so many questions about prayer. I want to know exactly how it works and all the ins and outs of why it matters. I want to know the theology, history and heart of it. There are books and commentaries and papers all about prayer, yet no one experience is the same.

Still, I sit in my questions and musings and realize there are few things that I do know about prayer and those are the things that keep me praying.

I know that prayer heals people. Sometimes it is a healing of the heart and sometimes it is a healing of the body, I have experienced both. Sometimes healing prayer is  laying on hands, sometimes it is setting an alarm to pray, sometimes it is simply stopping in the moment and being with that person. I’ve seen prayer heal and so I keep going.

I know that prayer happens in the desperate moments. Late at night when all the worries of the world are piling up, prayer is there. In the midst of a struggle with a spouse, child, or others, prayer is there. Wading through seasons of crisis and grief prayer is there. It is a comfort of sorts and so, I keep praying.

I know that prayer changes me. I’ve spent almost a year praying for someone I know and I think it’s done more to change my heart than theirs. I know when I pray for hard friendships, difficult family matters and even the struggles of strangers, my heart is awakened to the amount of compassion that I am meant to have for others. I am also reminded of how deeply I am also loved. And so, I keep going.

There are so many things I don’t understand about prayer. I don’t understand why sometimes it’s easier to do with a big voice in a group then it is to do in a quiet whisper in my bedroom. I don’t understand why sometimes it is joyful and sometimes painful. I don’t understand the entire endgame or how the process of communication with God fully works. Yet, I keep praying.

Prayer is a mysterious, mystical discipline. Prayer is changing my life.

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6:18 NLT

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Liking the “hard kids”

May 10, 2016

To say we have been in a season of hard kids would be an understatement. Some day I hope my kids look back and see how much we loved them even when it was hard.

Yet, just because I am able to love them does not mean I am able to like them.

Hear me clearly, I LOVE my kids. I have an unconditional love for these little humans that live in this house. I do hard things with them and for them and don’t look back.

But just because I sacrifice and do hard things, doesn’t mean I always like it or that my heart is always in the right place. Sometimes I am just doing the right thing to do the right thing. It is matter of the will, not a matter of the heart.

In this very hard season it has not been enough to just do the right thing. A bit of tenderness was starting to fade when I looked at my kids and I desperately wanted to get it back.

I’ve been re-reading some underlined quotes from Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts and it has started to call me back into hope…

“I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”
Ann Voskamp

So I started a new practice, a new discipline.

Every day I am writing down 1 thing I enjoyed about each child that day.

This sounds relatively simple. Until of course you have a hard child, a hard day, haven’t had enough sleep, enough nutrition or you just can’t get your heart in the right place.

These moments I am trying to recall, to remember, aren’t grand but they are starting to make my heart more tender towards my kids, especially the hard ones.

I’m appreciating moments like a child angrily going the their room but choosing not to slam the door. A child quitting a game with their sibling instead of making it into a physical altercation. A child choosing to join us at dinner even if they were grumpy the whole time.

It isn’t a glorious discipline but perhaps by seeing a little joy in the dark places all our hearts will be changed.

“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us?”
Ann Voskamp

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A Home and Me

May 8, 2016

House

The other day I was outside with the kids and the Mail Woman came around back and stopped to chat. We’ve only lived here for a few months and we hadn’t yet met. She smiled and said hello and then

Are you related to the woman who lived here before?

We aren’t and I said as much. She looked around at my 5 kids outside doing various things and she smiled. She looked back and said with a deeply gentle and almost sad voice,

Well, she would sure be happy that this house is full of all these kids.

We shared a few other words and she went on her way.

This is the first, and likely the last, home we will ever own. We waited 10 years to buy a home and have lived in a couple different towns and cities before landing here. It isn’t my dream location but there are so many great things, including family, here. Yet to be honest, it took me years to want to settle in and call this place “home” and when we did decide to buy this house, I wasn’t always and haven’t always been excited about it.

But the Mail Woman’s comment made me stop in my tracks. It wasn’t as much what she said as how she said it. The woman that lived here before us valued children. And family. And even her mail woman knew it.

The woman who came before us was married and had a handful of children. They moved in when her oldest child was 6 years old and now he is grown with grown children of his own. She lived here for 43 years.

It’s a beautiful historic home, very common in our town. Yet it doesn’t seem as if it was the home itself that she loved. What kept her here all those years was what filled it. The laughter, the joy, the kids.

She kept this home so well. For being over 100 years old it is in impeccable shape. It still has original wood floors, wooden pocket doors that work and original cabinets and woodwork through out. Mrs. Blanford may have loved it here, but she obviously kept this home for the people she loved most.

Her children had to sell this home because she passed away. Yet, her love for them never did. Her heart, her values, live on in her kids, and now in mine.

I’m not much of a housekeeper, I would rather play outside with the kids or spend hours dreaming about my work, but that one comment from the Mail Woman has given me a new love for this space.

As Mrs. Blanford kept this home for her family and now mine, I will keep this home for my family and the next.

As it has been said before…my favorite thing about my home is who I share it with. For my kids and the many that may come after.

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Small wonder

Linking up with Kelly today as we seek to see, enjoy and appreciate the #SmallWonders of life.

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Time…Is NOT running out

January 21, 2016

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Take a moment. Think of everything you need to do today. Think of everything you need to do this week. Even this month.

Now think about someone telling you to stop. For an unestablished period of time. Starting right now.

What is your gut reaction? Do you beg for 24 hours to get organized first? Do you “stop” in theory but the reality is that you are still going strong? Do you welcome the break and figure things will take care of themselves?

For most of us who are stopped dead in our tracks we panic. Sure at different levels and in different ways but underneath it all is a sense of panic. TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

This exact scenario happened to me. I am here to assure you that time is NOT running out.

This is an invitation to slow down.

Time has always been and will always be. (The theology and reality of this is long and complicated and I could be wrong…I know, but hang with me.) My personal summary is that in the beginning (time word) there was (time word). And in the end (time word) there will be (time word). In the most literal sense time itself is not running out.

This should help us feel relieved. We are not at the mercy of time.

As I have sat in this for going on 6 weeks I have gone through many feelings:

Panic: What is going to happen with _____?
Fear: If I don’t _____ who will?
Regret: If I had only done ______ then I wouldn’t have to deal with my current situation.
Numb: Whatever. ________will get done somehow.
Wondering: Well, if I can’t _______, what CAN I do?
Relief: I couldn’t do _______if I tried, glad I don’t have to try right now.
Acceptance: Just because I can’t do _____, doesn’t mean I can’t _____.

The clock is still moving. The world is still turning. And I am still a part of it.

You see, in accepting that time does not rule me I feel like I have been given the gift of perspective. If time does not rule my days what does? What ARE my priorities?

To get to this place I had to stop completely. Can you stop? Will you? Even for a moment?

Now that I am nearing the end of the stillness I start fresh. Clearer. More aware.

I am not ruled by time. I am only limited by capacity. What can I do? What can my one single person Handle? Manage? Process? Give?

I’m still sorting this out but I know my family is a big part. And the work commitments I have made. My husband matters a great deal. Our community both church and local have a piece of my heart.

If time were my ruler I would look at that list and feel defeated before I even began. I don’t feel that way. In slowing all these areas have still required attention and all have received it. Not because of time but because of who I am.

This is the place I am called to right now.

As I look at it today I don’t see a full calendar or feel overwhelmed with lacking energy or endurance. Instead, I see a list of things I have been called to love and in my heart and soul know, my God given capacity is enough.

Time is not running out. I am not chasing her and she is not chasing me. Instead, I am walking in the ever growing knowledge of who I am today and what I can do. Right here. Right now. For it is the now that matters most.

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Time…Atrophy

January 11, 2016

In January I’ve decided to share some thoughts on time…check back and enjoy.

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I said to my husband today “I understand why our physical bodies begin to atrophy when we stop moving. When you stop it is just easier to stay put then it is to get up and go.”

Over the last month I’ve had to slow waaaaayyyy down. As we expect our 5th baby my body just isn’t as young or cooperative as it was when we had our 1st baby almost 9 years ago. (Yeah, I commuted on a city train and worked until I was 41 weeks 4 days with that first baby…)

The first couple weeks were so irritating. I wanted to go, go, go even though my body (and my Dr.) said that wasn’t a good idea.

As I have fallen into a slower pattern I have found it harder and harder to go and easier and easier to roll back over and just fall back asleep.

But I don’t want to atrophy.

I don’t want my body to freeze up. It is going to need to be strong to deliver this baby.

I don’t want my mind to go numb. It needs to be sharp to be the mama leader my kids need and the wife love my husband needs.

I don’t want my soul to settle into discontent. It is not the calling of the soul to discontentment but to hope.

And so I sit and I think about Charles Dickens…”It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…” (A Tale of Two Cities)

And I sit and ponder Ecclesiastes 3…

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

So I will not atrophy. Instead I will ponder time and seasons. I will reflect on what is, what was and what is to come.

My friend Bridget talked about her “one word” this year. And while I am not sure my one word is time I think my biggest lesson might be…

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Thanksgiving: The Ladies…

November 27, 2015

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Ladies.

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Remember Jr. High? And girls in Jr. High? And those first awkward years of college roomies you may or may not have known?

I remember some very distinct seasons of my life when it felt like I would never be that girl to have “girlfriends”.  The ones that we read about in The Babysitters Club and the ones we watched on Friends and the ones we saw loudly leaving our dorm floor.

Yet, here I sit. Of all the things I could have shared this week I want to give a big shout out to all the ladies in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman, mom, wife or friend that I am without them. I am so thankful that they accept me for who I am my. My crazy, my flaws, my (sometimes poorly expressed) passion for things. My life would not be the same without them.

Friendships are hard. Finding good girlfriends is even harder.

The Moms Group…for a bunch of years now I have sat on Wednesday mornings, consumed more coffee than imaginable and learned with women. These women have kids of all ages, stages, personalities and ability. They have had amazing times and some of the worst. We have seen lots of new life and carried the burden of death among us. These ladies have taught me what it really means to be “the church”.  These ladies do more than talk with me too. They’ve watched my kids, helped me through big transitions, brought meals and so much more. They’ve become more than my Wednesday morning, they’ve become my dear friends. I never knew what it was like to be part of this kind of joy until I was with them.

The Late Night Girls Night…these ladies are my people. Somehow, every now and then, with lots of good cheese, we all manage to find a living room floor to sit on and just be together. We aren’t any one of us the same and not a single one of us is from this town we now call “home”. Maybe it is our shared transience or maybe it is just who we are, these are ladies who have a passion for life like I’ve never seen before. They fight hard fights, say hard things, do big things and are always asking who they were really meant to be. We all need deeply passionate friends, they are mine and really, I can’t imagine life without them.

The Working Women…I work with a lot of women. Whatever I happen to be doing for work I find myself across the table or desk from another woman. Ones who own businesses, run businesses, champion businesses and constantly recreate businesses. These women have grit. They get things done. Beyond getting things done they want to make a mark in the world, make it a better place. They create places of service and resources and joy. I admire these women and they encourage me to keep going, to do that thing I was called to do and do it well.

The PenPals and Texters…There are a handful of people that I don’t get to have coffee with or chat on the phone with or run to the park with. They are usually women who I’ve known for a long time. We have a history. We exchange texts about our kids or our prayer needs. We send gifts to celebrate birthdays and babies and houses. We share bits and pieces of the life we live apart. Yet, these women know me well. They hold a piece of my history that is definitive to who I am and who I am becoming. We may not be near enough to have coffee or available enough to make that happen but when there is a need, a joy or pain, these ladies always know.

The Coffee Talk…These ladies get me. They each individually manage to find time to meet me out and about, swing by when it works for them or make the coffee and let me come over with whomever I have in tow that day. Not everyone is spontaneous and go with the flow but these ladies, they feed that part of my soul. They don’t mind that I’m folding laundry or that they are sitting on a stained couch or that my 3 year old keeps trying to drink their coffee when they set it down. Somewhere in the midst of coffee some of the most transformative conversations of the last 4 years have happened. These individual women have helped me understand my son, have let me cry my eyes out when things were hard and have made me laugh uncontrollably. Coffee holds a special place in my heart, not because of how delicious it is, but because how all the times I’ve held it in the presence of these individuals and been changed.

And More…These few short stories can not possibly encompass all the lovely women I know or have known. My sisters and mom. My very best friend and a few new friends. The wise ladies at my church and the young church ladies just like me. These stories of community are wide and deep, simple and complicated. All bring joy and I am so grateful.

So, maybe I didn’t have a Childhood forever friend or a Jr. High best friend or a favorite College Roomie but today, today I am thankful for the women I have right now. I don’t know how I would do life without them.

Today, I am thankful for The Ladies!

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