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Monday, September 24, 2018

Weekend recap vol 4

This week has been exhausting.

DSC_1812

My daughter took this photo of me yesterday and I really love it.


What I've been thinking:

This week was my brother's birthday. In the years since he died, I expected that the loss would grow easier. Instead, it's been harder. I have been grieving for all of the things he missed in all of the years he has been gone. I found myself wanting to rush through the grief - like it was a lake I had to cross -and I wanted to speed-boat my way across the lake. I wanted to say to myself "self, I will give you one day to be sad about this but tomorrow you've got to move on." Yeah, that totally didn't work. Instead, I had to simply let myself be sad for as long as I was sad. I had to go more slowly and work harder to be gentle. Eventually, the week got better. I feel better and ready to move forward.

What I've been reading:

I'm still reading my pre-release copy of The Ministry of Ordinary Places and I don't want it to end. It's been so good. So challenging to my ideas about poverty and privilege. It's exposing my discontentment, insecurity, and big fears.  It's been one of my favorite books of this year so far in the women's Christian living category. Check out the pre-order gifts and download the first chapter here.

A Man Called Ove - has surprised me with how much I have enjoyed it. I'm late to the party on this one but I can see why these novels are so beloved. It's unlike anything I've usually read. It's hard to describe. I love how simple the writing is. Sensitivity warnings: it's got quite a bit more language than what I usually read or recommend, however, I feel like it's consistent with the character and I haven't found it offensive though I feel like some readers will. Also, one of the main themes of the book is the main character plotting his suicide. So far each attempt has been thwarted and my general feeling about this story is that he will rediscover his desire to be alive, but I could be wrong. I'm still only 1/3 of the way through it.

What I've been listening to:

Lady Antebellum's new album Heartbreak. Blame it on Annie Downs mentioning them (again) on Instagram and a piece of my heart that never moved on from my love for country/pop music. This album has been so fun to listen to and I especially love the song Big Love In a Small Town. Especially since they are from my "small town" and while some of the details of the song are countryfied it's still so heart-wrenching.
Most of the week I've been listening to Sleeping at Last's collection of songs based on the Enneagram types. I've also been listening to their album "The Spring"
I've also been throwing it way back with a little bit of Simon & Garfunkel. My favorite album is "Parsley Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" mostly because it's the album my dad played when I was little.

Self-Care:

This week I've been taking care of myself by buying pre-packaged salads and smoothies -  I could make them, I know, but sometimes a good choice is better than nothing.
I've also been enjoying the #10thingstotellyou Instagram challenge.


Sometimes these posts will include affiliate links. Sometimes they won't. The purpose of the links is so that you can quickly and easily find the products I'm referring to and add them to your lists. If you happen to click an affiliate link and make a purchase I get a few cents in commission. I'm supposed to let you know that ;)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

weekend re-cap vol 3


Hello lovely friend,

Thank you for taking a moment to pop into my little corner of the big wide internet. I really do appreciate you.

So this week things went very differently than how I expected them to go. My husband had to go out of town suddenly on Sunday and has been in and out of town. This will possibly be the new normal for awhile and there's nothing really that I can do other than hold down the fort and be a good listener. This has been surprisingly exhausting emotionally.  So I'm over here a bit like an exposed nerve, all big feelings, and raw emotions.




What I have been reading 


I have done very little reading. I hated all of the novels I checked out. I have a couple of books that I need to finish up to review, but my inner rebel is fighting hard against my demanding/accommodating side. That being said. I have no books to recommend this week. Sorry.


What I have been listening to 

Today it was Annie Downs podcast "That Sounds Fun" interview with Jonathan Merrit and it had me in tears. I listened to it this evening as I made dinner, and I was laughing, crying and nodding along the whole way through. Now I need to read his new book.  (Speaking of new books you can also pre-order Annie's new book and get a code for a FREE audiobook.) While we're on the topic of books to pre-order (or is it only me?) you can pre-order a copy of Hayley Morgan's new book Preach to Yourself is available for pre-order and her pre-order bonuses look amazing. You can also download her free devotional Pennies are for Wishing - trade your shiny faith for real spiritual riches.

I started listening to the podcast From the Front Porch and if you are a book nerd like me you probably already listen to this one, but on the off chance that you don't go try it out. I loved their episode about PG lit because that is very much in my lane.

I have mostly been listening to my "Confessions of a Roadkill Christian" playlist this week which contains an awful lot of throwback tunes like "Held" by Natalie Grant and "I Am" by Nicole Nordman. I even threw it way back and added "Somewhere In the World" by Wayne Watson. I cry just about every time I hear that song now.


Instagram's "sponsored post" algorithms got me, and I am so here for it. They found my weakness - trailers for artsy movies. I got so many good ones in my feed last weekend. One of my favorite lines from the trailer for the upcoming movie "The Favourite" is this one: "I am on my side" I've added it to the stock pot on the back burner of my mind and am still sorting out if I love this line or hate it. I'm kind of thinking I love it because as someone with a generally peaceful (aka passive) personality being on my own side is something I don't always practice well.


In book news: 

Okay, I know that in Vol 1 of my weekend re-cap I said that I was not going to share book news in this space. I meant what I said at the time. Today I have just a tiny bit of book news.

I feel a bit like the boy who cried wolf. I have said "it's done!" so many times before. But the files are off at Amazon waiting to be reviewed and it is possible that my book will be ready to purchase within the week. We'll see. If you want the BIG NEWS of when my book is finally ready to order you want to sign up for my newsletter.



I pretty much want to just push the book into somebody's hands and say "this isn't mine anymore" and go hide under a rock. Self-publishing is not for the faint of heart - that is for sure. Neither is memoir-writing. It's just so very deeply personal and at the moment I am so very aware of how imperfect my book is. I wish I could have told my story more vividly, with more detail. I wish I had been maybe less preachy. If you'd like to preview the first couple of chapters you can click here and get a preview of my book. And if you are praying for me and my book at all please pray for me as I tackle the study guide that I've been trying to write since, like last November. If you feel like being my guinea pig and looking through the study guide for me and giving some feedback - DM me and I'll send you a file ASAP.



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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Weekend re-cap: vol 2

Welcome to weekend re-cap vol 2. Where I attempt to leave little bread-crumbs of encouraging thoughts and book recommendations...


This week began with a long weekendand celebrating Grayson’s 3rd birthday. I went into labor with him, ironically enough, on Labor Day and it felt so fun to celebrate his birthday on Labor Day, (even if his actual birth-date isn’t till later in the week). We were given tickets to a small water park called “Splash in the Boro” in Statesboro, GA and it was a magnificent day. The park was just small enough that I felt confident that no one was going to get lost, and Daniel and I were tag teaming like pros. Everyone was happy. I went on exactly one ride and screamed involuntarily the entire time. I’m glad I tried, but I loved sitting with Grayson at the splash pad in his six inches of water and being an anchor to my family.

When we were discussing going to the water park I mentioned to Daniel that it might not be a good idea because we were heading into the weekend pretty worn out and I worried that it might be too much to have a big fun day in the sun. While I’m super glad we went, I feel like I was right about the exhaustion levels at the house.

This week I have had moments of feeling super frustrated with myself because of how exhausted I have been. Like I just want to roll my eyes at myself and be all like “really? Really. You need an entire week to recover? What is wrong with you?” I wrote a whole book (albeit a short one) on shame. Yet I still find myself shaming myself. But the answer comes like a gentle, fierce mother “nothing is wrong with you or your need for extra rest. This is how you are and how you are is fine.” 

What I’ve been thinking... 

Changing my posture towards the ordinary moments of my day. 

Last week I found myself practically in tears over the agony of car-line and I began to pray that God would give me grace, wisdom, revelation and strategy for this season of my life to know how to transform those moments into something life-giving rather that life-draining.

Yesterday as I began looking around the corner of my day I found myself looking forward to getting into car line. Grayson has been napping, Eli has been reading quietly. I read a book or catch up on emails or even just scroll through Instagram. It’s quiet, it’s calm and it is becoming one of my favorite moments in the day. I haven’t changed a lot or practiced this “change of posture” perfectly. But the little change has made a big difference.

I’ve been trying to put into practice a habit of writing down what I do to take care of myself. It might be eating an apple or sitting outside in the morning. Simply writing it down is helping me see the little golden pockets of goodness in the middle of the mess and making a list about what is going well in my life is a much better list than everything that has gone wrong today.
What I’m reading:
The Ministry of Ordinary Places - I have been reading this in all of the little pockets of time and this book feels like something that is doing something deep and beautiful down deep in who I am. It's been so good so far. I'll write a full review when it comes out. You can give a gift to your future-self and pre-order it on Amazon.

Speaking of pre-orders there is a new book coming out from Annie Downs called Remember God and I can not wait to read it.

I just got a big stack of Library holds from the library so prepare yourself - next week my reading section is either going to be epic, or empty because I will not have been able to make a decision on what to read first.

What I’m watching: 

Won’t You Be My Neighbor - watched this documentary with Daniel and it brought back all kinds of childhood memories. I grew up watching Mr Rogers Neighborhood every day and I literally cried when the movie was over. It brought up all of the good memories from the best part of my young life. It made me re-think what I’m allowing to influence my children, especially what they watch, and it reaffirmed the difference that just one person can make.

The Great British Baking Show - I've been watching this on Netflix after we get home from car-pool and before I head into dinner-prep mode (or at night before bed) and it is just my speed. It touches on my inner anglophile and is a kind, quiet, human-drama driven show. Plus, baking. Yesteday I got bought some bread flour and dry yeast and could barely even make decent dinner rolls... I did initially really miss the original hosts, however now that I’m nearing the end of the show I love the quirky personalities of the new hosts and, of course, am 100% personally invested in the outcome of this next bake.

What I’m listening to: 

Lauren Daigle - I’ve been listening to her single “You Say” for weeks and finally got to listen to her new album. It reminds me a lot of Adele in all the best ways.
Sleeping at Last  album "The Spring". It's been on repeat all week long.


Favorite Instas: 

The comments on this post were just wonderful






Dear People going through things which you cannot share, 〰️ You are NOT alone. 〰️ Don’t be deceived by the shiny posts you are scrolling past. A put together picture does not mean a perfect life. So many are struggling under a crushing weight—even those with shiny looking lives. It’s tricky territory because these days, in these spaces, we share so much. We are authentic + vulnerable (buzz words, after all). However, there is a good chance that there are portions of our story in which we cannot share. Because . . . our stories are never our own. Some of you are struggling with someone else’s story because it affects you greatly, because you love deeply (yet it is not your’s to tell). 〰️ When we go through immense stress or crisis or circumstances that we cannot share it can feel very isolating. Like the whole world is still spinning and carrying on as usual, but for you it has titled, off axis, and you wonder if anyone even notices. 〰️ If this doesn’t make sense, then it won’t. But for some of you it will make great sense and I just want to tell you today that you are not alone. I notice. I may not personally know you or know your story, but I recognize that your world has shifted. I empathize with your pain and the hard work you are putting in to process the pain and become a stronger person. 〰️ You are meant to become stronger. Not shinier. 〰️ There is nothing wrong with shiny. I love shiny. I post a good amount of shiny photos. Beauty, in many forms, has helped to heal my broken-heart. Beauty, after-all, is what God offered us at the beginning. 〰️ But shiny is not the goal or the marker that tells us we are doing well or that life is normal, as it should be. The older I get the more I realize that life is not normal. My goal is no longer to appear normal or shiny but rather to have a healthy heart and become stronger than I was the day before. Strong people aren’t concerned about appearing shiny. The are concerned about being a light to the broken—noticing them, calling out their breaks, so they can, then, call out their breakthroughs. 〰️ Broken one, who may not be able to share what has broken you. I see your break. I also see your breakthrough!
A post shared by Trina McNeilly / La La Lovely (@trina_mcneilly) on




To all my worn out mama-friends. It is okay to not be okay today. It is okay to be utterly exhausted. It is okay to say “I’d love to, just maybe next week.” It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to need help. It’s okay to order pizza for dinner, or whatever brings some comfort and ease to tonight. It’s okay to put on a movie and snuggle. It’s okay to need to get out of the house for a bit. It’s okay to not be firing on all cylinders right now. It’s okay to not be all guns-blazing. It’s okay to just sit here for a bit. It’s okay that you’re wondering how you are going to get it all done. It’s okay if some things get left undone. It’s okay to just need to cry for a minute. It’s okay to not have words for all the feelings of today. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and exhausted by the good good things in your life. It’s okay to need to pause in the middle of it all, just to catch your breath.
A post shared by faith ann raider (@faithraider) on




This is me at 18 years old, not long after my oldest was born. This morning I had some thoughts about what I wish I could say to that young mama and I finally found a moment to write them down. They’re not all profound, I just figured that since I can’t go back in time to tell my younger self I could still share in case anyone younger is listening... 1. You know more than you give yourself credit for. You know how to listen to yourself. You know how to listen to your baby. You love your husband with an ocean of love, deep and wide. I know you feel like you don’t know anything, I know that your heart longs to hear the words “you’re doing a good job” but instead the words around you are “too much” and “not enough”. Let me tell you something - you are going to mess some stuff up, you are going to change your mind and change directions more than once. You are a very imperfect person, but you are a really good mom. You know more than you give yourself credit for and you need to have confidence that you are a really good mom, doing the best you can, which is all any of us can do. 2. You know less than you realize. Why do you feel like you “ought” to have arrived? Or that you “ought” to know everything you need to know? In your twenties you are an expert at nothing, student of everything. Be a good student of motherhood, life, love. Embrace this season of learning. Ask questions. Gather mentors. Look for ways to help the older women, stop being so ashamed to ask for help. You need it. It can be hard, the women around you seem so busy. Don’t give up. Keep asking, keep seeking, keep inviting. 3. You are beautiful. 4. Eat the ice cream.
A post shared by faith ann raider (@faithraider) on


One Thing I’d Like to Know: 

Last week I asked - to Pumpkin Spice or not to pumpkin spice and I loved reading your answers! Here is my answer: I LOVE pumpkin spice. I am just not a fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. (If I want a treat (or have a reward) I'll order an iced caramel macchiato or a hot salted caramel mocha.) Give me all of the candles, muffin breads and what have you. I make pumpkin spice muffins often when the weather is cool enough (so, like in January). Once the Pumpkin Spice Kim's Cupcakes go on sale my Thanksgiving has been made.

This week's One Thing I'd Like To Know: do you listen to other people's playlists? If you do where would you want it to be? I have got a public playlist on iTunes (for my book) which you can add to your playlist library. I'm thinking I could make one on Spotify as well but I’d love to know if that is something you’re really into... or not.

Also... this week Grayson - who has up to this point only been marginally interested in potty training, (and trust me, the feeling is mutual, what with all of his bladder surgeries - I figured it would be horrendous) has decided to potty train himself. I have heard of this happening but it has never, ever, not once in my history of potty training his five older siblings, has this happened to me. He has been stripping himself down every day so I've put him in some underwear and randomly try to remember to ask him if he needs to pee. It isn't going great, but it's also not been too horrible either. If you have any tips - I'd welcome them - there's always more to learn!

These posts will usually include Amazon links - sometimes they'll be affiliate links, sometimes not.  This post contains affiliate links. If you happen to buy something I've linked to I get a small commission for the sale and you don't pay any extra. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

This week re-cap

As I sit down to begin this post this quote comes to mind:



We are back to school with a vengeance here in the Deep South. I have already nearly cried over all of the school paperwork we had to fill out and we have already had meltdowns regarding homework. A bunch of my friends and bloggers have been sending out their “what I learned this summer” posts and I’ve got nothin'. What did I learn this summer? To be honest, I have no idea what, if anything, I learned. I haven’t been keeping a list.

Summer was a fairly ordinary mix of wonderful and sucky. I was sick on and off for nearly the entire month of June which was a spectacularly miserable lesson in weakness, boundaries, saying no and asking for help. But we also had some lovely, day-trips. I struggled with my mental health over the summer, but we have also seen a lot of things come full circle - an answer to a lot of prayers.

So I’m thinking I want to begin the practice of a weekend re-cap. Short and sweet. A thought - only posted here - and a little bit about what I’m reading/watching/listening to. This one is going to be a little longer because I want to throw in a couple things into this list from the summer.


What I’ve Been Thinking...

This season I have struggled with a serious case of overwhelm. When school first started I was walking around in a near constant state of panic with the thought “there are too many moving pieces” reverbing through my brain. The answer to that fear has been grace - there is grace for when I mess up, and making a mistake isn’t GAME OVER. There’s life after failure, big and small, and making a mistake, forgetting something, running late - these are embarrassing and frustrating but not the end of the world.  I have started a couple practices that are helping me. For one, putting every appointment into my calendar on my phone. For another, I try to write out a list of everything that needs to happen on a busy day. That way there are not random pieces of information pin-balling around in my brain.

I’ve also had an overwhelming feeling that there is more to do every day than I have hours. There are kids to be taken hither thither and yon, picked up, dropped off, forms to be signed, checklists to be checked off. I have been in a perpetual state of overstimulation and overwhelm since the school year began, and while I’m working on trying to increase my capacity I’m also trying to adjust my mindset. So far two things have helped - one this post by Holly Gerth reminding me that I am already loved. All of this running around and list-checking-off has nothing to do with my lovability. I am fully loved by God simply as a result of existing.  I’ve also been trying to adjust my mindset in some of the most mundane parts of my day, trying to open my eyes to how God wants to meet me in these moments.

What I’ve Been Watching

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before - I watched this on Netflix with my teenage girls. I gave them a hard time about watching this but then I watched it and now realize what all of the hype is about - seriously though, love this movie or hate it, if you have teenage girls you need to watch this because everyone seems to be talking about it. The movie is based on the first book of a trilogy by by Jenny Han.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Does it go without saying that this Netflix movie is perfection? The only thing I don’t understand is why I haven’t watched it again yet. I loved everything about this movie. I couldn't get into the book (gasp) I know, a bunch of my friends love the book. I didn't. Now I want to read the book.

When We First Met (Netflix movie) I was kinda nervous about watching this, but it was late and I couldn't sleep - and I'm not sorrry I did. It was so much better than I thought it would be. A fun movie about a guy who travels back in time to re-do the first time he met the girl of his dreams. It's cheezy and predictable but I loved the ending.

Set It Up This is a Netflix movie I watched late at night over the summer and I watched it at least three times in the span of a week. There’s just something about this movie that I loved. (It has about the same maturity/content as Heart of Dixie). It’s about these two assistants setting their bosses up romantically so that they can Have some time off of work and in the process obviously, inevitably fall for each other. It is pretty stupid, totally obvious and predictable and perfectly romantic.

Crazy Rich Asians
I went to see this in the theater by myself for my birthday. It was super sweet and SO funny! Like Pride & Prejudice goes to Singapore. I am trying to find some time to take my teens to see this.

Ugly Delicious 
A Netflix documentary series. I watched this while I was sick and it is amazing.  It's not appropriate for little ears but it's such a satisfying watch. Each episode tackles a different category of comfort food - tacos, pizza, dumplings etc. I watched the whole series twice - but like I said, I was sick.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
It’s a TV show on Amazon Prime about the journey of a female comedian - an intelligent, well-educated, Jewish housewife whose husband leaves her for his secretary. After which she has an epic, drunken, on-stage breakdown in the form of a comedy act. It’s rated MA for a couple scenes of brief nudity in the first episode and adult language throughout. 

Anne with an E
A TV series on Netflix. I get why the haters hate this, but I also get why the lovers love this show. I especially did not like the first couple of episodes of season 2 but in my opinion, it definitely got better. There's a lot of liberties taken with the story and it's overall darker than the books or any of the re-makes. But especially after watching another re-make I appreciate the production quality and good acting.

On deck for September - The Great British Baking Show on Netflix and Amazon's Jack Ryan series.




What I’ve Been Reading

Everyone Always by Bob Goff
Short chapters on being a Jesus-follower and loving people well. For the first half of the book, each new chapter was my new favorite chapter, after the midpoint, however, that I had a few moments when I felt a little annoyed. Overall I feel like I could read it every day and still have something to learn.

The Ministry of Ordinary Places by Shannon Martin
I have tried to back off of the book-launch scene, what with my life getting pretty hectic lately (see above) and my own book launch coming up around the corner. However when I saw the opportunity to apply for Shannon Martin’s book launch team I jumped at the opportunity. To be honest, I don’t know Shannon Martin’s work much at all beyond that she is a friend of Emily Freeman (and anyone who is a friend of Emily Freeman is a friend of mine)but the cover of her book is so inviting and that sub-title speaks to me so deeply. As a member of the launch team I received an advanced readers copy of this book and I know that reviews from launch-team members can be overly-effervescent but it is no exaggeration when I say that this is the best Women’s Spiritual Nonfiction that I have read all year. And we are pretty far along in this year. So far I’ve enjoyed The Ministry of Ordinary Places for two reasons - one is because of the topic - I love the idea of coming alive to God’s presence in the ordinary and mundane places of my life. The other is simply the writing style. It’s not overly poetic or overly to the point. I’m trying to think of who I could compare her to and I’m comping up empty. So if you’re on the fence my advice is go download the sample chapters and see for yourself. I think you’ll fall in love with Shannon Martin’s writing as I have.

I’ve been in a bit of a fiction funk. I have half a dozen books on my shelf that I could be reading, maybe Anne of Green Gables or Kate Morton’s the Secret Keeper but I haven’t made room in my life for reading fiction and haven’t been particularly motivated to begin a novel that I may or may not have already started and abandoned.  So if you've got any suggestions feel free to send them my way.

What I’ve Listening To:

Podcasts:

Typically I have very little space in my life for extra-noise but these have been fun to listen to while I return to making actual dinners instead of turkey-wraps and bowls of cereal. My husband has been listening to some (way more serious) podcasts on the Enneagram and this has lead to some really great conversations. I have been listening to these super fun podcasts.
The No Chill Enneagram - I have laughed untill I cried listening to this podcast.
The Enneacast
Typology

Music: 

Here are some of my favorites from the summer:
Steffany Gretzinger's new album "Blackout" - on repeat all summer long.
Favorite song on this album: “Confident”
Lauren Daigle’s New Single “You Say”
“Mistakes” - by Influence Music
“Ashes” from the Deadpool 2 Soundtrack
“Inside Out - Original motion picture soundtrack”
“III” - Hillsong Young & Free
The trio Sleeping at Last - especially the album “The Spring”
This artist is new to me but quickly soared to the top of my playlist. I especially love their instrumental stuff right now. There are also songs for Enneagram types on iTunes and YouTube.
Oldies that have been on repeat lately:
John Mayer especially the album “Room for Squares” and the song “In the Blood”
Cranberries especially the album “everybody else is doing it, so why can’t we”


FYI: the song in this scene is "Dreams" from the Cranberries.



Book News

There’s not much to report on the book news front. I’ve been plodding away through the editing/formatting swamp I have found myself in.


All I know is that I am closer to the side of being ready to print than I was before summer. I am thankful for the technology that allows me to self-publish but I’m increasingly thankful traditional publishing houses. They earn their money y’all. I’ll be limiting most of my book news to my newsletter. So if you’d like to stay up to date on how all the book stuff is going - that’s is the place to be!



One thing I’d like to know
If you have made it this far you are my new favorite person!! Here's my one thing I'd like to know: to pumpkin spice or not to pumpkin spice. Do you? And if you you how do you like your pumpkin spice? I’ll let you know my answer next week. Also, I promise there will (probably) not be as many gifs in the next re-cap.

P.S. Sometimes posts like this one will contain affiliate links... this post doesn't. 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

I broke up with mom-guilt



Mom-guilt is everywhere. 

You see it in books and movies, on Facebook and Instagram. I think we expect it and accept that it is part of the thought process we go through every day. We beat ourselves up every night for our failure as a parent. We cry in the shower because we are not the patient, wise, ever-loving people that we desperately wish we could be. 

But my dear, sweet mama friend, mom-guilt is not doing you any favors. Mom-guilt does not make you a better mom. In fact, I have experienced that living under the shame of mom-guilt made me quicker to explode, more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like zoning out or getting distracted with unimportant busyness.  Mom-guilt is not your friend.

I don't know everything about motherhood. But this is what I have learned so-far. 

I am going to mess up sometimes. 

I might be very well-intentioned, or I might be selfish or weak but I'll mess up. That is a fact. I'm going to expect my daughter to do something that she is just not developmentally ready to do yet, or I'm going to press an issue too hard with my son and in a way that is actually counter-productive. I'm going to over-discipline and I'm going to be lazy. I'm going to lose my temper when I should have been patient and I'm going to let my kids walk all over me when I should have been disciplining more firmly. This has been my reality. I mess up. Kind of a lot actually. Mothering is hard. It pushes me beyond my breaking point - regularly. 

This isn't a bad thing.

Becuase I am learning that one of the most important things I can teach my kids is how to handle failure - when you say something you regret, do something that gets you in trouble, or unintentionally hurts someone else - how do you handle this? Do you run and hide? Do you blame someone else? Do you get angry? Do you cry? How do we sincerely apologize, especially when someone else took it in a way we didn't mean it? How do we correct behavior once we realize it's not right? 

My kids are learning from my example. I want my example to be a good one. 

I want my kids to learn to be honest with themselves - not so hard on themselves that they are paralyzed by fear, and not so easy on themselves that they are not trying to do their best. 

I want my kids to listen to other people's perspectives. Even when, especially when it is different from their own. I want my kids to be able to deflect unkind criticism, especially when the person being a bully is themselves. I want my kids to be able to take constructive criticism. 

I want my kids to learn from their mistakes. 

My kids are going to fail, sooner or later, at something or another. Big or small. A quiz, a test, a conflict, a relationship. One of the most important things I can do is show them the pattern for dealing with failure in a healthy way. 

That when we fail it is okay to be hurt or feel embarrassed but that we get back up and try again to do the next right thing. 

The reality of my journey has been that I have made course corrections. I have had to realize that yes, indeed I really was allowing my kids to spend too much time playing video games and we had to set new rules. I catch myself being too lazy, and I catch myself being too strict. But the average of all of this is that my kids are doing okay. 

The hardest thing, I think, about being a mom of really little kids is that you aren't sure if they are doing okay yet. You haven't had time to prove your skills as a mom. Maybe they are doing okay. Maybe they are turning into tiny psychopaths. It's hard to tell. She's only two. When your kids get a little older and their teachers say "she's so delightful!" and "I can tell you spend a lot of time with your kids" you sort of take a sigh of relief, and release the breath you didn't realize you'd been holding for the last five years. (Of course when their teacher calls you up to tell you what one of your kids did that was not so stellar, then you have to do the whole "dealing with failure" thing with yourself... but that is a post for another day.) 

On the days when you think "Is she eating enough fruits and veggies?" this is what you do - you make sure to try to add some carrots to her lunch tomorrow or you add "go to the farmer's market" to your planner, or text a friend who is good at this and ask if you can have lunch together. Or throw some extra veggie pouches into your ClickList order next time you order groceries. It's all good. Take one small step to do it better, or let yourself off the hook. You are doing the best you can. 

If you lay awake at night because you feel like your kid might have spent too much time on the iPad that day - then schedule a screen-free day and go to the park or set up a playdate or take a walk around your neighborhood and go at their pace and maybe let them bring home a little piece of gravel in their pocket or some leaves in a paper sack. Do a little better today than you did yesterday. Do a craft or whatever makes them happy and keeps your sanity intact.  You are doing the best you can. 

Mom-guilt is not my normal, everyday, mode of operation anymore. 

I do have moments of overwhelming feelings of failure, especially when all my kids seem to be having different shades of bad attitudes simultaneously. That is just a feeling though and feelings aren't the same thing as reality. I can feel like I'm failing at motherhood when in reality I'm doing okay. 

Here is the bottom-line. I want to be the best mom I can possibly be for my kids. Mom-guilt doesn't make me a better mom, usually it makes me worse. So I don't hold onto it. 

You don't have to either. 




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

In the darkness on the 4th of July


I'm sitting here in the darkness of the living room in the comfy chair, scrolling Instagram.  

And I just wanted to say this from my middle of the night darkness to yours - hello.

I just wanted to say from one tired mama who did not have a picture-perfect day - you’re not alone.

I just wanted to say your presence really, truly matters, even if today you were grumpy - like I was. 

Even if today you were just trying to keep it together and not rain on anyone’s parade. 

It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. You are doing enough. 

Some of the people really close to you may be screaming that this isn’t true.  It’s okay. 

Don’t waste another minute beating yourself up because of... 

If you feel bad because you don’t have pictures to post tonight of the cool food you made or the amazing party you went to, stop. Did you make choices that were good for you and for your family today? Yes? Good. No? Tomorrow you get the chance to make some better ones. 

Tonight may love wrap us up and hold us close. 

May love be the lighthouse that guides us home and the anchor that holds us steady.


Friday, June 1, 2018

a meditation on Psalm 26 & 27



 Daddy-God - I choose you.
Don't let this be all for nothing!
I am putting all of my eggs in one basket - you.
Don't let my hope be put to shame!
I'll walk in your steadfast love & faithfulness
your love in front of my eyes
I will fill my mouth with thanksgiving
I won't forget all fo the way that you have not failed me

I love your presence in corporate worship
I love your presence when I worship at home
I will bless you
because you are the light in my darkness
you are my salvation - whom shall I fear?
You are the light in my darkness, you are my salvation.
You are the stronghold of my life.
You are a strong tower of refuge
When I'm freaking out
So I don't have to be afraid of anyone or anything.
when Satan and his minions attack me from every side
I don't have a single thing to fear because I can be confident in you, my God

This is the thing I'm asking for
at the top of my wishlist
at the top of my to-do list every day
to spend time with you
in your presence
experiencing the beauty of your Lord

You hide me in your tent
you put my feet on a rock
you fill me with joy
I will sing your praise

Please, Daddy-God, let me know that you hear me when I pray
You say to me "seek my face" and I say back to you "I am seeking you!"
Please don't hide your face from me.
You are the only one who has not ever abandoned me
I need you
Please don't disappoint me

I believe you when you say to me that I will see your goodness before I die. So I will wait for you
for your time and way and place. I trust you. I won't be afraid. I'm waiting on you.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

for when Mother's Day is not a happy day

Hello you,
You dear sweet face on the other side of this screen. Hello from where I sit, here in the dark and (finally!) quiet of my desk. I wanted to say something to you, because Mother's Day (here in America) is right around the corner, and that annoying ad for the cell phones keeps playing and won't let me forget.

I wanted to remind you because this needs to be said - Mother's Day isn't always the happy cliche you see on the greeting card aisle or the ad on TV. Some of us need to be reminded that this day is not a happy day for quite a lot of people.

For the men and women who long for their family to begin - today is not a good day.
For those grieving the loss of a miscarriage - today is not a happy day.
For the grieving fathers and mothers who lost a child -  today is hard.
For the children who never knew their mother.
For the child who was abused.
For the child who has been abandoned by choice or by death.
For the son or daughter who just feels abandoned - today is something you just get through.
For the mom who is raising kids alone.
For the dad who wishes he could make breakfast in bed but that side of the bed is empty.
For the single woman who is just so ready to start the next chapter of life.
For the young mom who feels like today is only about Grandma and it just means more shuffling kids from place to place just to keep the peace.
For the mom & dad who feel like their marriage is just dangling by a thread.
Today is the opposite of happy.
Today is just plain super painful.
Please do not look away.

So please remember as you give your Mother's Day greetings or go about your weekend that there is a lot of pain in between the smiles and there are a lot of tears right there in the middle and all around of the joy. Please don't look away. Please remember.

Are you still with me? Good. Becuase I have something else to say too. Because chances are I didn't have to remind you of all that stuff above. You already know, boy do you know. You know, as you walk into church on Sunday with your little brood, you are fully aware of how blessed you are. But it is hard to celebrate in the middle of pain, yours or your friend's. It really is. But please listen to me: do it anyway. Because this is the world that we live in, where joy and pain share bunk beds and you rarely get one without the other. Embrace the joy of today in the middle of the pain because that is where true joy lives.

Please don't sit back, afraid to enjoy today in the face of all of that pain. Instead, reach down deep your pockets, and find that deep, true joy. Hold it in your hands and then let it turn to love in your hands.  Wrap it around the shoulders of the women to your left and to your right. Snuggle deep into folds of it and bring your children into it, breath it in. Pain does not exclude joy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

a meditation on Psalm 25



I'm lifting up my soul to you
for your presence
for your comfort
for your wisdom

I don't want to get to the end of the day
and hang my head in shame
I don't want everything I have trusted in
to turn out to be a false hope
I don't want to be full-steam ahead
in the wrong direction
Show me the way to go.
Open my eyes to Your truth
Help me see things from Your point of view

Forgive me for rolling in the mud
when you have clothed me in a wedding gown of grace

You have covered me, head to toe, in your love
You stretch out to embrace me
from my first day to my last
you embrace me
like a friend
You show up in the nick of time
just as I'm about to set it all up in flames.

Please reveal your presence to me
I'm waiting for you
I've been waiting
You know I've been distracted
I'm paying attention now
Please - don't leave me hanging
I know I've messed up,
but here I sit, waiting for you.
I'll wait as long as it takes
I'm listening

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

my favorite books of 2017

One of my favorite things to do at the start of the new year is look back at my favorite books from the past year. This year of reading was different for me. Especially because it was a year for participating in book launches and having the chance to read some advance reader copies of books, which was wonderful, but oftentimes overwhelming. It was also a year for seriously niching down in what I chose to read, and giving up on books that I didn't enjoy - no matter how badly I wanted to like it. I focused most of the year on reading Christian nonfiction written by women. It was a terrific year of getting to know more authors on Instagram and the community of readers who support them.

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FICTION


GINNY MOON
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Anyone who has asked me for a novel recommendation has received essentially the same answer: have you read Ginny Moon yet?

Basically, it is the story of a girl with autism who has just been adopted out of the foster care system. She is obsessed with her "baby" who everyone thinks is a baby doll she left behind, but in reality is her baby sister who she hid in a suitcase the day the police came. I wanted to read this novel all in one breath and I had to remind myself that it was okay to stop reading, the speed with which I read it would not determine the outcome of the story. It could have been a lot darker and I appreciated that while some abuse was suggested the story stays firmly planted in the light. The relationships are multidimensional. Her adopted mother is struggling with her, especially after the birth of their baby. Her biological mother is trying to get her back, even though she could not take care of her properly. No one character is really all bad or all good. Highly highly recommend.

TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT
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One of my favorite books from the beginning of the year was the novel "Today Will Be Different" by Maria Semple (author of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette: A Novel" which I could not finish. I liked this one so much better.) The story is about Eleanor, a middle-aged woman who is struggling with - just everything - her marriage, her son, her writing deadline, her identity as someone who used to be a bit of a famous TV writer. She promises herself that "today will be different" the only problem is that today she is having a bit of a full-on crisis. I enjoyed the grown-up yet clean feel of this novel. The ending was highly satisfying.
currently only about $5 on kindle

FINDING AUDREY
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To be honest, I'm not a huge Sophia Kinsella fan. I read her new book "My Not So Perfect Life" only because I accidentally bought it on the Kindle app on my phone. It was okay, but I didn't love it. This one though - I loved it so much. For example - how is this for a first line:
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This book Finding Audrey is about a teenager who has been through a school trauma, it seems like it was some type of high-school bullying incident, but it was only hinted at throughout the book and not described in any kind of detail. She is struggling with a clinical level of anxiety and always wears her dark glasses, even indoors. She is given a project to help her with her recovery and along the way she finds her voice again. There is some light teen romance. Overall a good fluff read.
Currently only about $5 on kindle.



CLOSE ENOUGH TO TOUCH
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Close Enough to Touch was recommended by my dear friend who works at the library, about a librarian - so you know it has to be good. Jubilee is allergic to human touch. For most of her adult life she has lived alone in her little house with her books and her laptop, but after her mother dies suddenly she must get a job. So obviously she gets a job at the library where she meets Eric and his adopted son (who was my favorite character in the whole story). Eric is trying to connect with his estranged teenage daughter by reading all of the books that she read last fall. This book gets my award for absolutely best opening lines ever:
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This is another clean, light romance. A bit sappy, but it has a happy ending so all is forgiven.

Honorary Mention: The Sun Is Also A Star: by the author of Everything, Everything that just came out as a movie. This is about one day that two teens spend together - the daughter of an illegal immigrant from Jamaica who overstayed his visa fighting deportation and a second generation Korean immigrant. The whole story is sweet and cinematic. Not as heavy hitting as We Never Asked For Wings or as dark as Eleanor & Park. The ending was not what I wanted or the best ending I've read this year, but it was overall a satisfying light YA novel.


Memoir


Memoir is my favorite genre. Almost all of my favorite books are works of memoir, but it can be hit-or-miss when it comes to finding a really good one. Here are the few that made my list of favorites from this year.


ALL THE PRETTY THINGS
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All The Pretty Things was on Emily Freeman's list of favorite books from last year and I ate it up. This is the sweeping story of a life that was burned down and rebuilt again and again both physically and metaphorically. She grew up in the poverty of Appalaichia with an alcholic father, but out of the ashes of her childhood she became a doctor. She burned down her own life with an affair and a divorce but God restored her faith and her family.


Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Litte Road to Semi-Ever After


Happiness: a memoir is the story of a young woman who becomes pregnant unexpectedly by a man who is more devoted to his writing career than to her and they spend the pregnancy separated. But when the baby is born with a rare blood disease that requires her to have regular blood transfusions, the three of them slowly transform into a real family. She documents her story through to her daughter completing a bone marrow transplant.

The writing in this story is some of the best that I have read all year and I was completely engrossed in this memoir from cover to cover. As the mother of a medically complicated child who has spent more time in the hospital with my youngest son than with all of my other kids combined, I appreciated her honesty, especially about the anxiety of it all.

Honorable Mention: It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying is Cool Too) Her husband has a brain tumor. The bounces around and includes excerpts from her blog. A reflection on how it is okay to not know what we are doing and the importance of embracing the messy, imperfect life that is right in front of us.


Non-Fiction


IT'S NOT FAIR
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I started reading it's not fair at the end of last year and I loved it so much that I gave away a copy at the begining of the year. It is sarcastic and irreverent and is just the best. I love how real she is, how she quotes The Princess Bride in one breath and in the next is giving some solid spiritual advice.

FIERCEHEARTED
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I was on the (fantastic) launch team for this wonderful little book. Fiercehearted is a collection of short essays that had be literally in tears. If you've been following my blog for awhile you know that BRAVE has been my word for awhile and this book touched on so many of the things that I have been learning recently.
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BRAVE IS THE NEW BEAUTIFUL
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At the begining of the year I was blowing up my Instagram about this new release. Brave is the New Beautiful is a collection of stories of women who walked through extraordinary sitations with beautiful bravery. The author also shares some of her own journey with embracing a life of bravery. There are so many stars, hearts and exclamation points where God used this book to reinforce what I have been learning about what it means to truly embrace a life of bravery. It is a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching unforgettable book.

NEVER UNFRIENDED
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Never Unfriended was one of my first book launch experiences and it definitely spoiled me. It was the book to read at the begining of the year, and for good reason. There have been a bunch of books published on the topic of women's friendships and this is one of the most conversational, relatable ones that I've read. The theme of the book is - if you want better friendships, learn to be a better friend. I found myself nodding along and remembering lessons I've learned the last few years. Just So Good.

OF MESS AND MOXIE
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If you follow me on Instagram then you know how much I loved reading of mess and moxie. I read it in car line, and during the baby's bath time and at night after the kids went to bed. The most conversational, let-it-all-hang-out of the books I've read by Jen Hatmaker. It was the book I needed to read at the moment. It was encouraging, funny and girlfriendy. I wouldn't say that it changed me but I did enjoy the read.

LOVING MY ACTUAL CHRISTMAS
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This was the book I needed to read this Christams. I was struggling in a big way this season and this book helped me to not completly loose my mind. I recieved an advance readers copy and read it well ahead of the season. My advice is go ahead and get it now to read next year. This is one of the rare cases where I prefer the kindle version to the paperback version. I also bought a copy of her previous book Loving my Actual Life and have it at the top of my To Be Read list for this new year.

READING PEOPLE
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I was also over the moon to be included in the launch team for the beautiful little book "Reading People" by Anne Bogel the author of the exquisite Modern Mrs Darcy blog and What Should I Read Next? podcast. The book is a primer on the most helpful/popular personality frameworks. It is like sitting over coffee with your smart girlfriend as she explains what it means that she considers herself to be an HSP (that's a Highly Sensitive Person) and that time she and her husband discovered their love languages. I really enjoyed it. It's written from a Christian perspective without being overtly religious.

PRESENCE
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Presence was my favorite non-religious nonfiction read of the year. If you haven't heard about Amy Cuddy then click over to her TED talk it is well worth the twenty minutes. Her book expands on the topic of her talk and is very very interesting.

THE COURAGE TO WRITE
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I got this out of the library during a particularly bad writing slump and it was just the kick in the pants that I needed. I need to write a post about my favorite books on writing. The Courage to Write would definitely be on that list.

Honorable Mention:
Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins combats some of the lies around the idea of the starving artist. I need to re-read this because I read it too quickly. Definitely read with a highlighter nearby.

Road Back to You is a primer for understanding the Enneagram. After I read this I was obsessed with the Enneagram. I read most of this book in one sitting. It definitely helped me in understanding some of the quirks of my kids.


MUSIC


According to Instagram (which is the only way I can remember anything these days) here are my favorite albums for 2017:

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The Garden by Kari Jobe
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Where His Light Was by Kristine DiMarco
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LaLaLand Soundtrack
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I'd love to hear from you - what were some of your favorite books of 2017? Feel free to send me a note and let me know!