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Thoughts from a Girl in the Woods

We pull into the driveway after a busy day right in the middle of a hectic few weeks. Our yard looks like a jungle. I sigh, somewhat despairingly, somewhat longingly,

“I have got to spend some time in our yard,” I say.

Firefly pipes right up.

“So you can get a breath, Mama?”

I smile, a bit startled at her astuteness, realizing that yes, subconsciously, that is what I wanted. Just to catch a breath.

Yes,” I reply. “A very, deep breath.”

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The wildlife in my backyard does not encroach upon my habitat, but we sit right in the middle of theirs. An intimidating, Tennessee version of a rainforest, lives just off our deck. We stand at the windows and watch the deer graze. Their ears perk at our murmuring and we are the ones behind the glass and they observe us like we are the tourist attraction. Today, the butterflies, flutter and float, sipping from the second butterfly bush blooms of the summer. The birds finally discover that their long-deserted birdhouse is once again filled with seed and they eat and flit, excited, I think, to tell their friends. I can hear the birds’ grapevine for myself, the trees full of extra chirping and whistling. I linger outside, just wanting to soak in all the life.

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And the sweet hustle and bustle of life being given more life.Image

I realize that my daughter is right: life does beg for more life in one form or another. When God created each living thing on this earth by His spoken word, it was good. When He actually breathed His life into the nose of Adam, His very breath was inhaled by human lungs, forever to be breathed in and out, in and out. And when we are most exhaled, the most drained, the most fatigued, whether by responsibility or relationship, what we are most craving is more life. Fresh breath to inhale. And then to exhale.

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When my children are most driving me crazy and when I most want my own space and most want them just to please be quiet, what I’m really wanting is perfect, tidy relationship. What they are usually wanting, is simply more of me.

More life.

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Perhaps it is the same in most relationships. When relationship seems most dead and most impeded by whatever, and we most want to walk away, maybe what we’re most desiring is just the strength for someone to enter in. To breathe life or to have life breathed into us.

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Maybe it’s never too late. Maybe God gives us second summer blooms, or seed in our deserted birdhouses. Maybe where we thought no life was, there’s still a space for possibility. Maybe we just need to revisit.

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Maybe we’ll find something there….

It Came and Went

Today, we read.

Today, we painted.

Today, we counted.

Today, we played.

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Kindergarten, you came.

We conquered.

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Whew. Thank God. =D

 

Marriage Ain’t Easy

Marriage ain’t easy. You know this when you’re engaged. People warn you. You are made well aware of this. But until you live it, you really have no earthly idea what this looks like in real life.

I’ve always hesitated writing about marriage here because I am not wise when it comes to the subject. My hubby and I may be doing absolutely great one day, and then, some old battle rears its ugly head, and we’re back to being our old stubborn, injured  selves.

Marriage is a constant ebb and flow. Marriage is not about fulfillment, although, hopefully, marriage fulfills as much as it possibly can. No, marriage is about giving up all you want or think you need, in order to be and give all that your marriage wants and needs. Marriage is about entering into the relationship, when really, all you want to do is run and hide under some comfy covers.

We had a family movie night on the couch last night. We went through two whole (gigantic) bowls of stove-popped popcorn between the four of us! Apparently the popcorn-loving genes are genetic. 🙂 It was the first time we’d attempted a musical and I couldn’t believe that even the little one sat through the entirety of The Music Man. I was really struck by the song, “Being in Love” which Marion sings with her Irish mother as they discuss what Marion is looking for in love. She states somewhere in the middle of all those high notes,

And I would like him to be

more interested in me

than he is in himself

And more interested in us

than in me

My husband of nearly 8 years and I have this continuing running argument about time together. Basically, it boils down to him being born an introvert, while I was the woman who, after arriving home from our honeymoon to our “just-the-two-of-us” newlywed cottage , begged him for a goldfish. Yes, the little orange things that blow bubbles in a quiet, little corner. 😉 I came from a family of 8 children, five of us being of the talkative, female persuasion and I need lots of life around me. He just needs quiet.

So, for nearly 8 years, we’ve had this same back-and-forth argument about my needs verses his needs. But I’m coming to realize that it’s not a me verses him – it’s a you need/I need, therefore, we need.

Not that we’ve mastered this by any means. Just today we fought the same 8 year battle and I’m realizing that I’m not sure that either of us is supposed to win.

We have to win.

So, I vow to give him more space without feeling unloved. And I wonder for the first time whether God didn’t give me an introverted husband simply to round me out, like some strict, hard-core teacher, like I’ve always subconsciously thought. Maybe, just maybe, He gave me an introverted husband, because He has something planned for me in the extra, quiet times.


Now that is love.

Confessions of a 2nd Gen Homeschooler

 

I woke up, literally nervous to my stomach. Rummaging through my closet, I finally found something to wear, trying to look my part . . . without looking my part. I’d been to these things a million times before, but never in this role.

 

The annual curriculum fair.

 

This time, it was my turn to be the mom and I was scared to death. Scared of running into my past, nervous about whether we’d made the right decision.

 

You see, starting next week, I’ll be a second generation homeschooler. Yes, the world of kindergarten is about to enter our home. I am terrified. 😉

 

Terrified because I was homeschooled all of my school career, save kindergarten and first grade, and I know the ins and outs. Mostly I’m terrified of losing my own identity, while not giving our daughter enough opportunity to find her own. But also about things like time-management and keeping my sanity. 😉

 

But I am also excited.

 

Excited because . . . I know the possibilities. Maybe we 2nd gens can build on all the pros our parents before us fought so hard to make possible, while taking all the lived cons by the horns. I remember my mother being wary of sending us kids out to play during school hours because of the fear of truancy accusations. I can’t imagine living in constant fear of that. Because of parents like ours, who fought for their convictions and aimed to provide better schooling possibilities for their own children, new mamas like me can fully grasp all those opportunities for our parents’ grandchildren. These days, DIY schooling is better than they probably ever imagined and we 2nd gens get to reap the benefits.

 

And I’m really not sure how we got here so fast. I still don’t know for certain that we’ve made the right decision, but it’s the decision we’ve made by prayer, and therefore, I will do my best to make it the best decision. Next year may hold new firsts, but this year, Firefly and I (and Pixie too!) are learning together and we’ll have shared memories of learning to read her first book and counting to 100 for the first time and a million other beautiful things.

 

So, while I’m trembling in my boots, thanks Mom and Dad. You’ve made this school year a possibility. And I salute you.

On This Eve

To My Little Sister

On Your Wedding Eve:

The house is still. I sit in the sunroom weaving flower crown headpieces for your nieces . . . my daughters . . . your flower girls. And after a week like this one, my heart and mind find respite at the steady weave and flow of sheer ribbon. The crickets sing me a song. I’m thankful and unbelieving at the time to sit and process.

Memories of us in our childhood wash over me as I pray for your future. Tomorrow, you will be a true grown up woman, with a husband of your own. I think of your three-year-old wispy curls and I hear Mee Maw call you Goldilocks again. Your curls will hang tomorrow too, wispy no more, but full and long and beautiful. I can’t believe you are here and ready for this day! You made it!

All the waiting and planning and preparing and decision-making . . . DONE. And now you’ll step forward, into a new day, full of new hopes and dreams. And I’ll be standing on the sidelines, cheering you on. Today. Tomorrow. And every day hereafter. Because I love you.

Sisters forever. No matter what.

Apology

My dear blog friends,

I just want to apologize for my last post. I was obviously in a bit of a hard place and while I want to be open and authentic in this space, the Lord has convicted me that I wrote about a topic on which He hadn’t quite given me the clear. Please forgive me and I’ll see you next time. 🙂

 

 

Processing Freedom and Grace

I don’t write this post for any sympathy or empathetic comments. I write it because I know I’m not alone and maybe you and I can process together??

 

It’s been one of those kind of weeks. The kind where you’re just left depleted and you feel there’s nothing left to give. Your very soul is raw and sore . . . the kind of sore you’d imagine from a deep surgical incision. You’ve received somewhat alarming news, your toddler just doesn’t *get* how to pee in the potty and you’ve cleaned carpets and sofas and several pairs of underwear a day. You get your feelings deeply hurt in a creep-up-on-you sort of way and you feel like the doormat whose “Welcome” was stomped on the way through the door. Your life feels like it’s been hijacked and how do you get off this plane ride and regain control? Where do your boundaries lie, and more importantly, where do your *loyalties* lie and how much do you push yourself to keep on giving, or how do you find the strength to just say, “no” ?

 

Familiar words seep through and begin to fill:

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

Oh. Oh yeah. Just pray. So I do.

 

I sit Dove-turned-Pixie on the bathroom counter and cut little toenails straight across. I knock glass and it falls, straight into the sink, shattering open. It’s my favorite perfume and it all washes right down the same drain where I spit my toothpaste. I want to cry. Perfume’s expensive and this one in particular was a Christmas present and I can’t believe it was me and not two-year-old Pixie who breaks the bottle.

 

The irony is not lost on me. The perfume’s name is Amazing Grace.  I walk into the bathroom a few minutes later and I can smell its sweetness, resting in the air. But not because I released it slowly, spritzing it on my neck and wrists. It was violated. Violently spilled down porcelain and now it’s gone.

 

And I realize, I’ve been literally shattering myself down the drain, trying to be that Grace. I try hard to be the bottle itself. I try to give it all away til there’s nothing left in me to give and I feel emptied way too fast. I know this is not a rare feeling. I think it’s one of Woman’s most beautiful strengths and one of her strongest vices – trying to be all and fill all and love all.

No one else has depleted me. I’ve depleted myself. There’s only One who has already violently poured down Grace – and rather than wasted disaster, it was perfect rescue. The rest of us, we’re finite, and grace has to first be poured on us before we can share it with anyone else. I can only bestow little grace-spritzes from the Source. It seems obvious, but how hard I, Woman, fight it:

 

I am not the Source.

I am not the Source.

I am not the Source.

 

 

I sniff the remaining scent of Amazing Grace and I shed a few tears. Not because of the lost perfume (well, okay, yes, mostly because of the perfume), but because He gently shows me that Freedom does not come from complete self-sacrifice or giving your life away to every person’s needs. There *is* joy and freedom in those things, if we’re doing those things for all the right reasons, but otherwise we’re imprisoning ourselves to everyone’s whims.

 

No, freedom comes from allowing Him to be the Grace toward all we love. And if we’re lucky, we get to spritz some grace too.

Freedom

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Tomorrow’s the 4th of July and all I can think about is freedom.

For Women.

And I’m not talking about some sort of Women-are-better-than-Men type of Freedom.

I’m talking about Freedom from ourselves.

Freedom from misplaced guilt.

Freedom from fear.

Freedom to be.

Just to live our lives.

Still guided by right and good.

But not chained by comparison, fear of the future, stress over our decisions regarding our children’s schooling, or confinement by the latest health fad, or the latest and hippest (is that a word?) parenting movement.

But Free to follow the instincts our Creator gave us for our families, for us.

I’m not saying that the Bible doesn’t teach us some truths and that it isn’t clear about some things we should stay away from or things we should live for, but I am saying it is much less about rules than I think we sometimes believe.

Because Jesus came to set the captives free.

And as far as I can remember, there aren’t many, if any, rules about food, or exercising, or schooling for our kids, or TV, or co-sleeping verses not co-sleeping (with our babies, that is ~grin~). 

This Mama is learning to follow her heart and instincts where the Lord has allowed that freedom. And I expect you to follow yours. Yes, our lives may be completely different. But in living in the Beauty of Grace and Truth, and asking the Lord for wisdom for our lives and not wavering in the wisdom He’s given each of us*, we can still be friends. 🙂

To be continued….

 

*James 1:5-8

Five

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Five entered our house last month. I *dreaded* it for half the year, realizing that 5 years old marked the end of any remaining sense of baby and toddlerhood. Five marked the beginning of *girl*hood and I wasn’t sure I was ready for that. I wanted to hold onto the Firefly I knew, a little anxious over the Firefly to come, wondering if I’d loved you well enough, taught you enough . . . played with you enough. 

 

Regret doesn’t take long to enter the rose-colored bliss of motherhood.

 

But Five and time came pushing hard against this mother’s will, and it entered in all smiles and little girls surrounding. I watched you dance and stilled under your ear-to-ear smiles, and suddenly, peace came with Five. And, of course, you didn’t automatically awaken as a different person on the morning of your birthday – change is usually full of grace and enters more slowly – but I *do* find that you’ve changed.

 

And I really like it.

 

I love that we can meet eyes and giggle together over little sister’s head when she babbles in her very own, grammatical way. I love that we can run, hand-in-hand, to the women’s restroom and I can cover your seat with toilet paper and then run to my own stall and we chat like friends over the walls. I love that we can work on reading together and both of our eyes widen and our amazed laughs burst out at your progress. I love that you’re so very grown up. Yet you still ask to be read library books amidst cuddling under blankets on the couch. You still hold my hand across the parking lots and I can still smother your face in kisses without any protests.

 

Five?

 

I love Five.

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Summer

There’s a clamor in the tree across the street. Squirrels give chase and flirt along the branches. Dew awakens the lilies before the coffee percolates and early-risers conquer the neighborhood streets with “Good mornings” and “Stay cool today!”s. A doe pauses from her woodland breakfast to survey her view. It’s summer and it’s a beautiful morning.

The dew has long been dried and the soil cracks a bit. Hummingbirds dip their heads in and out of the feeder, readying for another flower-dart. A slight breeze sways the trees and everyone stills, escaping the heat. The ever-busy bees buzz headlong into the window’s glass, their flights never halted to even gather their senses. It’s summer. It’s hot. And it’s the afternoon.

The grill lights. Watermelon’s sliced. The sprinklers offer happy hour drinks and the fans whirr, chasing the heat. The fireflies dance to the choir of the crickets and the toads belt out their bass song too. The deer search for clover again and we draw out the day with stories and tickles. It’s summer. It’s evening, and it was the best of days.