Enjoying Two Cups of Coffee

When I was teaching and single, I never drank coffee. There wasn’t much time in the morning and I preferred a cup mid-afternoon to combat that slump. When Frank and I got married, I started drinking a cup because it was already made. Though, really it was just about half a cup before I’d dash out the door. I have vivid memories of one of my elementary teachers having coffee breath and I did not want to be remembered for that attribute, so once I brushed my teeth and left the house, that was it for the day.

img_3739Now, staying home with the girls, I enjoy 2 cups each morning. No matter the chaos of bright-eyed girls running around, I’m usually able to enjoy those two cups in relative calm – not needing to gulp them down or scald my mouth.

The other day I wanted to get just One Thing Done before breakfast. It needed my attention and would have taken less than 10 minutes, uninterrupted. Of course, the moment the thought crossed my mind, my two interruptions swarmed and I had to put the project aside.

It’s easy to get frustrated with lack of alone time and even more frustrating when the things I need to do aren’t for me, but for commitments I’ve promised to others. I envision a quiet house, a slow rise and cup of coffee, and breakfast before the day begins.

And then I think, In what world?! My job right now is the girls. And when I had an “actual” job that morning only existed on the weekends. I guess I have this vision of being retired mid-thirties, enjoying the luxury of time I haven’t worked for.

So today, I’m grateful for preschool that starts at 9:00 and is only 5 minutes from our house. For time to enjoy 2 cups of coffee, even if the environment around me is swirling. And the reminder that I can slow down in the midst of chaos.

What is your morning ritual? Do you ease in or get up and go? Are you a coffee drinker?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “slow.”

Sitting Just Quietly

One of Bea’s favorite stories is the one of Ferdinand the Bull, who is content to sit just quietly under a cork tree, smelling flowers. I love it for many reasons – not least is that his mother is an understanding cow who lets him sit just quietly. (A lesson I need to remember.)

hebwnWhat I love most about Ferdinand is his pacifism. Even when he is taunted and faced with death (which would probably have been the more likely outcome of this story), he sits just quietly in the middle of the stadium, smelling the flowers in the ladies’ hair.

What a reminder, in a time when we are constantly reminded that strength is necessary. Our country needs to strengthen its borders; strengthen its foreign policy; strengthen its domestic policy. Our churches need to strengthen their messages; strengthen their programs; strengthen the community.

Growing up, I was taught that Jesus loved children, that Little Ones to Him belong; they are weak but He is Strong!

But I wonder if we’re missing something about the message when we focus on strength? When we forget the fact that Jesus taught about an upside down kingdom of peacemakers and helpers and those who turned the other cheek and offered to walk an extra mile.

I wonder, in a time of fear and wanting to strengthen our values and beliefs, we need to remember to stop, to sit just quietly, to smell the flowers, and to remember that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to the peacemakers?

How do you find strength in peacemaking?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “weak.”

Creating Safe Spaces

I recently worked through the process of writing a personal mission statement. I’m still holding the phrase close, seeing how it fits, and taking time to see areas in my life in which it’s already present.

One part of the phrase is that I create safe spaces. As I was talking this through, my coach and I noticed places that safe spaces already exist in my life.

img_3194Our messy playroom is a safe space for the girls to explore, discover, and create.

A recent decision to step back from commitments has created a safe space for me to be more open about our current season.

We have a housecleaner come on a (very!) occasional basis. Instead of feeling guilty that I can’t keep our house sparkling, a friend reminded me that it helps me create a safe space to invite others in – and it’s ok to ask for help in that.

As we plan out tax season and schedule in time for family, I’m guarding that time and keeping it sacred. Getting together with friends and building community is important; Keeping our scant family time together is even more so.

A friend recently wrote a post about finding peace in the noise and I’m remembering that self-care is important. It’s a privilege, for sure, but it’s nonetheless an important one to remember.

In a world of chaos, I’m thankful for the reminder of checks-and-balances. For means and ways to create a safe place for myself, for my family, for our friends, and for our community.

I’m holding this part of my mission close and seriously. How can I best help others feel secure?

How do you make space for safety?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “safe.”

Intentionally Disorganized

I recently got my first liturgical planner in the mail. I debated buying it since Advent (the beginning of the church year) is almost two months behind us. I wondered if I should just wait until next year. And then I realized we’re only mid-Epiphany – only one season behind.

img_3381So, I ordered it and started using it mid-week, mid-calendar. And it was so freeing. Because I began the process with an imperfection, I already feel open to continue the process with less control, with more reality. It’s a bit like starting my One Year Bible reading plan mid-April, knowing that days will be missed and that it’s easier to continue imperfectly than get stuck in a cycle of perfection.

This is a stretch of an analogy, but it kind of reminds me of controlled burns that keep the forest healthy. There’s still a level of imperfect destruction that comes from keeping the forest healthy. Of course, burns happen intentionally and infrequently, but they are important, nonetheless.

Perhaps I need to remember this idea of controlled burn more in my own life. That often, organization and intention are good to work from. But sometimes, I need to be intentionally disorganized to truly appreciate a project or season. Sometimes, letting go of the details to see the big picture is a a point-of-view I need to practice more often. (Not natural for this detail-oriented person!)

As we move into a year of changes and big decisions, I’m thinking this small practice may prove to be one that keeps me peaceful.

How are you wired? Can you start midstream or do you like opening a fresh page on Day One of a journey?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is Control.

In the Middle of the Tired Thirties

The Tired Thirties. This phrase, first coined by Sloan Wilson in Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, was used to describe that period for businessmen when they tried to balance family life with the long hours and demands of working their way up the corporate ladder. It has since been taken over by young mothers after Madeleine L’Engle used the term to describe her own experience in raising small children.

img_3103We’re certainly right in the middle of the tired thirties. The girls are at a demanding stage. Even if they can play independently, that only goes so far. And the routine itself can get monotonous: breakfast, get ready, school/playdate/errands/activity, lunch, naptime/quiet rest, late afternoon destruction of house, dinnertime, bedtime, repeat.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to use the tired thirties as an excuse. I am tired but when I take a look at what is most life-giving in this phase, it is the very thing that makes me most tired.

I suppose that’s the way it goes. What makes us most happy, what gives us the most joy, is what we give our time and energy to. Whether it’s children, a job, a calling, these things energize and fill. And they also can be consuming and draining.

There’s the balance – that happy medium. In many ways, it’s harder to draw the same boundaries around my children than I can about volunteering or work. I can’t just be done with mothering.

So I’m getting more creative in ways I can be less tired. Sometimes this means spending more time with the girls, since they do thrive on that routine. Sometimes it means taking time for myself. Mostly it means constantly changing my expectations and what works because what works yesterday most likely won’t work tomorrow.

And I’m learning that the reason these tired thirties are so tiring is probably the best reason to be tired.

How do you balance the tiring with the life-giving? Are they easy to separate or are they intertwined?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is Middle.

Instinct as Answered Prayer

Mom? Mama? Mom? Mom? MOM???? YOU ARE INTERRUPTING ME!!

img_2319If I don’t immediately pause my conversation or activity, Bea often feels that I’m interrupting her. We then get into a circular conversation that no, she is interrupting me. And so it continues…

Sometimes I wonder if this is how my communication with God looks. God will be preparing something or answering a prayer but I continue to interrupt, impatient for an “answer” or a “clear plan.” Instead of listening, I demand that action happens now and my own circular conversation ensues.

I guess what’s hard is that sometimes action needs to be immediate; sometimes I need to trust my own instinct. It’s quite rare for me to hear a booming voice from the heavens answering my questions and yet I’m still learning that God has given me intuition as a valuable way of discerning the world.

I’m not saying that I know the right way or that my own way is the best way. But I’m learning to sit in the quiet; to find light in the darkness; and to remember that the Creator God has created me to understand far more than I realize.

I look to Mary, who grappled and asked and then trusted and pondered that trust quietly. In this season of anticipation, I remember that God does answer but it’s more of a conversation and perhaps God is pausing, too.

How does your conversation with God look? How do you find the answers?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is Now.

What Do I Want to Remember?

Things I enjoy about motherhood:img_2108

  • Making sweet memories
  • Watching the girls grow and develop into their own little humans
  • Being part of something bigger than just today’s mess – knowing that our conversations and intentions will shape the girls’ outlook
  • The reminder that unconditional love does exist and the daily modeling of forgiveness (mostly from the girls – I still struggle with this)

Things I don’t love about motherhood:

  • Refereeing & Disciplining
  • The longterm vision that our small choices and ideals actually do matter in the future
  • The mundane of life at home
  • Finding the balance of giving to the girls, giving to Frank, and remembering that self-care is important, too

We talked yesterday at MOPS about the dichotomy of motherhood – of the pressure to be red carpet ready 6 weeks after giving birth balanced with the spiral of yoga pants every day forevermore. As we weeded through labels and expectations, our speaker – a life coach – teased through the labels we put on ourselves.

She asked, what would our 90-year-old self say about this moment? What would our 5-year-old selves say about motherhood?

We decided that our 90-year-old self would say Let it go! and remind us of these precious, fleeing moments. That we should enjoy these days. We remembered our 5-year-old selves being excited about being moms, without realizing all the other stuff that goes along.

I loved this practice and want to extend it to all areas of my life. How can I step back and remember perspective? What will fade into the background? And how can I rekindle that childlike excitement of the future?

How do you keep perspective? What would your 90-year-old self remember about this stage of life?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.