when everything is heavy

My heart has been inexplicably heavy these past few days.  Or maybe there are just too many weights to explain; I can certainly think of enough.  It’s just on top of all this illness, all this hurt in the world, all this crap we’ve been wading through, I have an underlying feeling of foreboding–gross and heavy, like I can’t really enjoy what’s going on because something is going to happen.  Something bad.

Maybe I am being ridiculous.  I always have weird dreams when I’m sick.  I’ve felt so uneasy and restless since yesterday, especially.  This morning, and today, it’s been better.  Ailey and I are just hanging out, having a pretty nice day.  She’s hilarious and sweet and busy.  All things I love, and more than that.  What a gift, to spend these days with her. 

When I feel like this, I’m learning to ask God for peace and comfort.  Ask him for what I need to do, if anything.  Instead of fretting, pray.  Instead of worrying, seek rest in him.  Thank you, God for being instead for me.  That’s the crux of this grace gift from him, isn’t it?  Instead.  Instead of me, it was him.  Instead of drowning in my sin, I live forgiven.  Instead of pain and suffering, rejoicing.  Praise God for instead.

I’m remembering, the more I write and the more I obey his asking me to walk with him daily (I’m realizing now how long I’ve been disobeying), that I can turn to him instead of worry.  I can focus on his goodness, the gifts he’s given me, and be thankful in the midst of this troubled world with an unknown future looming.  These things are hard and scary, but he is just and true.  When blood is shed in the streets and sons don’t come home to their mothers and riots ensue, God is still just and true.  He’s still working this brokenness for good, right?  He’s in the midst of it.  He’s starting conversations on justice and drawing attention to the places that could use more justice and more of the truth.  He is here with us, in this with us, walking with us.

Thank you God for your faithful hand, on us, with us even now. 

on being okay with me

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The odd thing about adulthood and motherhood, which have both been recently thrust upon me, is that they have both forced me to consider a few things about myself.  I’m not sure what I expected, but this process of coming of age and raising a tiny human has been a little different than I thought it would be.  These things have defied so many of my expectations for the better.  One thing that’s surprised me, the extreme extrovert, is how much more introspective I’ve become. Lately, more than ever, I’ve been asking myself questions like, who am I?  Who do I want to be?  Admittedly, these questions haven’t always been at the forefront of my thoughts about myself.  I’ve spent way too much (probably the majority, if I’m honest) of my life wondering about what other people think of me.  As much as I like to pretend that I  present myself a certain way because that’s how I am and what I prefer, sometimes I’m guilty of over-emphasizing the parts of me that will garner approval from the people I’m with at the time, or if it’s not possible to please them all, will appeal to the majority of people. 

Why in the world?  The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is a silly way to live.  God has made me to be who I am, and I’ve spent a lot of time fretting over the fall-out when I let that person shine through to someone who disagrees with me, or dislikes something I like, or even thinks I’m obnoxious or wrong or silly.

Good grief.  This is rather cathartic, isn’t it?  I wasn’t expecting that.  But I like it.

So I’m committing, here, publicly, to be truer to myself more often.  There are people who won’t like that, surely, but that’s okay.  I can’t be everyone’s favorite.  There are just too many delightful people worthy of favorite-hood for that to happen.  I understand that this is more of a process than an event, but it has to start somewhere.  And here is where it will start!

photo cred: Jeanne Pope of Red Cole Photo.

these days

Pardon the photo dump, but here’s a little look into what we’ve been up to.  You know, for posterity, or something…IMG_6779.JPG

lunch times–Ailey is loving veggie straws, all fruits, and especially ice cream when we give her a little taste.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I suppose.

 

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Here’s how the patio has been looking these days.  Cloth diapering is going pretty well, it saves us a ton of money and has been pretty pain-free and low-maintenance for the most part.  Plus, it makes for really classy lawn ornaments for the neighbors to view.

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These times when she falls asleep on my lap are so few and far between now.  She’s ready to walk any day now and so, so busy.  Who has time to sleep when there are all the things to explore?  So I’m cherishing these moments while I can.

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IMG_6741.JPGSomeone has discovered who it is she sees in the mirror.  Can you get enough of her face in the photo directly above?  What a ham!

 

a letter to my younger self

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The person I saw when I looked in the mirror just now probably would have really frightened 18-year-old me. If I’m being honest, that image probably would have really frightened me from just a year ago.

Today, I am twenty-five + a few months. I didn’t get much sleep last night because Ailey, 10 months + a week, is simultaneously teething and fighting a summer cold (as she has been for it seems like this entire summer). She’s a really happy, easy-going lady baby most days, but last night that combination of sore gums and stuffed sinuses made her really, really mad. I’m talking scream-crying at 3 am, all out mad. So today, when I looked in the mirror, I could see the wear on my face that a night of scarce sleep will give you.

Today, I am worn out. When I am tired, instead of race-crawling around the house with Ailey, or playing the game where she screams with glee while I run through the house with her riding piggy-back, I’m trying to play the game where I lie on the bed while she looks at books. It was a good try, at least. I decided to just get over myself and try to get some exercise–don’t they say that’s better than napping when you’re tired (they’re mean)? I pulled out the stroller and we went for a walk. We only dropped one toy along the way and then had to go back for it. I decided to be ambitious and jog a little. At this point, I am dripping–the sun is oppressive and hot, the way it can get in Colorado in middle of the day in the summer. I’m regretting that decision to make it a two-Arnold Palmer morning instead of just drinking water.

A whole half mile later, Ailey is basically asleep in the stroller. We’re close to home by now, and I’m ambitious. I’m going to hold this drowsy baby on one hip and close the stroller one-handed and hoist it into the back of the SUV so I’ll have it for later, yes I am. And I did, but not until I’d successfully squashed one finger hard enough that the entire weight of the half-folded strolled was dangling from that finger, and yes, baby is still on my hip, so I have no other free hand to save the first one.

I made it out eventually. We hustled into the house and I carted Ailey to her crib for a real nap (fingers crossed) while I hurry to the bathroom to run cold water over my finger. I catch my reflection, and my face is twisted into a grimace from the pain of the pinch (it’s not serious, thanks!) without a lick of makeup on my flushed, slightly sun-pinked face. My hair is piled up into some kind of something on the top of my head and hasn’t been washed in a while, if you were wondering. There are a few new strands of gray (already!) visible in my dark hair, sticking straight up in revolt. They’re settling in, staking claim.

But I cannot help but smile back at this new me, who I see these days more often than the one whose hair is done and face is painted. It’s definitely been a little while since I’ve seen the well-rested me staring back from that reflection. I would’ve thought future-me was lying if, a year ago, she’d told me I liked it here and I was loving how I fit into this slightly frazzled-looking version of myself. I am content. I have worked hard and put in some time to stare into the eyes of a tired, happy mama in the mirror.

Admittedly, not every day looks like this. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how often I still can find a few minutes to put on some make up and pick out some clothes I really like and put them together. Motherhood hasn’t meant looking exhausted and threadbare all of the time. But, it has meant that my priorities are different. Getting some exercise with a mini-human in tow has been more important that making sure I look a certain way. Crawling around on the floor, chasing after tiny legs that have just learned to climb stairs has taken precedence over a leisurely morning lying in bed. Sometimes I miss the free time, but I certainly like building something that matters, visible in the character of a little, budding person. I am okay with the person I see in the mirror, even if she isn’t someone I expected to see.

A Standard of Grace

Grace is such a funny thing.  How much have I longed to be shown grace?  How grateful have I been when I’ve been on the receiving end of heartfelt forgiveness when I’ve fallen short?  Oh, if I could articulate how I’ve anxiously awaited the reaction of a friend when I know I’ve been wrong, and longed to hear an “it’s okay, we all make mistakes.”  Because that is the truth.  We do all make mistakes.  We are all just going about this life thing the best way we know how, and that means that it gets messy and we sometimes do it wrong.  Sometimes we hurt each other and we don’t even mean to.  And, if we’re being honest, sometimes we mean to.

Here’s the thing about grace–it’s so much easier to receive than to give. I know my own intentions and boy do I know how to act like I deserve a pardon when I’ve been hurtful. So, how is it that I am so slow to pardon others when I’m the one who has been hurt? Can I really receive hurt and return grace? Can I forgive whole-hearted, as I am forgiven? Sometimes, more than I’d like to admit, the answer is no. More often, particularly lately, my response when I have been wronged is bitterness. Or, bitter’s good friend, withdrawal. If you can’t uphold the standard of never making a mistake that hurts me, then I guess you can’t stay. Is this really what I want to communicate?

I’ve been working through some things lately and this past week I was settling on bitterness rather than graciousness. Then, I came across Ann Voskamp’s beautiful http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/07/the-great-challenge-facing-all-women-why-women-need-to-stop-judging-each-other/. The context is a little different from what I’d been thinking on–mothers judgment of each other–but these words stuck out to me:

Heaven forbid any woman would set up her life as a standard instead of making grace the standard of her life.

Oops.

Here I am, with bitterness as my life’s standard, asking others to choose grace for me when I ask.

No more.

Let’s walk together grace-fully, shall we?

these days

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Is my husband so good-looking or what? I took the above photo on a date night we had recently (thanks to the Maggiano’s gift card we had from some sweet friends) and, oh my. First of all, you should to there and eat all of their carbs right away! Secondly, I really love going out with Trent. It’s sweet to have dedicated time together, which we never seem to get enough of lately. Going out somewhere reminds me of when we first started dating, when everything was new and exciting–all kinds of frenetic energy & the feeling that anything could happen with the future looming in front of us, all big and full of every possibility. I’m so glad to be where we are, and I’m not sure I’d go back if I could, because I like living here & now, but I sure do like to remember sometimes.

The rest of the photos below are nearly-8-month-old Ailey, because I have to. Can’t help it. Sorry, bye.

She is sweet and funny and starting to get opinionated. If you’re looking for something fun to do, I highly recommend watching a teeny human grow into their personhood. It really is the best. I can’t believe this is my gig–hanging out with this bean.

Happy weekend.

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good evenings

Tonight was a really great evening. We dropped Ailey at our friends’ place (we swap Wednesdays caring for each other’s mini humans) and headed out!

Once you have children, a child-less date night is such a breath of fresh air. At least for me, when we spend time together as a family, so much of my focus is all about the baby. That’s just where we’re at right now, because she’s an infant, and would you figure, those infants can’t do anything for themselves! So, even though I am totally in love with being a family of three, it’s always nice to get undivided attention on just the two of us, Trent and I. And he is really great.

We weren’t feeling particularly creative in the date department, so we got dinner at Garbanzo (think Chipotle, just with Mediterranean food, so heaven, basically) and watched The Grand Budapest Hotel at my favorite theater around here. There is unlimited popcorn and Arnold Palmer involved, I mean, come on.

I loved it. So subtly funny. Wes Anderson, you dog.

And my favorite big human was with me, so who can complain?

I didn’t take a single picture the whole night and my phone was solidly in my pocket, not being checked, almost the whole time. It was glorious.