Monday, April 30, 2012

Everyday Grace: The Bitter and The Sweet

God can you just give me one good and pure thing right now? Just one experience that's not marred by sin and brokenness and the past? Will there ever be any sweet without the bitter? 
That's the request I submitted a few days ago. It wasn't the first time.

It's been a year of renewal and repair and sometimes I just want to put all the brokenness behind me. Though I'm grateful beyond words for the gifts I've been given and the redemption I continually taste, I'm selfish. And sometimes I long to have just one gift--an event, a milestone, something special--that feels untouched by the past.

Just one thing, God? You know my story. 
Can't I have celebration without complication? 
Remembrance without regret?  
Hopefulness that's not tinged with fear? 
I'm not asking for perfect and I'm not asking for you to undo what's done. I'm just asking for one, unblemished gift. 

Truth comes through the Spirit and in wise counsel and from that which is written in the Word. 

And sometimes all of these things quietly and slowly weave themselves together. The subtlety should in no way diminish the miraculousness of it all. Grace flies in on the wings of divine whisper and nests softly in the soul...though I'm prone to making the landing difficult. 

The everyday grace I cling to is this: Though tears will be plentiful in this life, we are promised that one day each and every one will be wiped away. Forever. Though we mourn many things--those we love, dashed dreams, failure in a million different forms--we do not grieve as those who have no hope.

And as for my deep desire for just one thing that's untouched by the pain and loss and brokenness of this world? God answered that prayer before the foundations of the earth. I simply have to receive the gift I already have: Jesus. 

Though I cling to other good and lovely things for hope and satisfaction, Christ alone is the one pure gift that will satisfy what this broken world cannot. 

Perhaps your mundane is tainted by memories you'd rather forget. 

Maybe you wonder if you'll ever be able to celebrate anything with reckless abandon. 

If you're hoping for one person or place, one experience or event, one good and pure thing that doesn't feel tinged or tainted, even just a little, by that which you'd rather forget or by even just a shadow of something you can't quite put your finger won't find it in this world. 

But it's ever so freeing to give up and let go.

In each and every moment, the bitter and the sweet, I'm invited to gaze upon Christ, the One who overcame all that is broken, even death itself. He is the perfect we long for, our hope that will never disappoint, a gift we can celebrate with reckless abandon, the good and pure we can cling to today and forevermore. 

Related Verses
Ephesians 1:3-6


"Everyday Grace" is a weekly post I've recently begun. It is sort of in the style of a devotional {which is ironic...because I don't typically love devotionals} and a departure from the sort of posts I usually do. It began as a way to record the ways in which God is making the Gospel of Grace "real" to me in everyday ways. This is a way of recording it for myself and sharing with you. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dish: "Hopelessly Devoted to You..."

Today's Dish is inspired by a collection of random items strewn about the middle console of my van. A woman's van {or her SUV, crossover, sedan-type vehicle that is obviously cooler than my minivan} is a lot like her purse. And you can certainly learn a lot about a gal from the contents of her handbag. Or in this case, her minivan. 

So here's a rundown of that which I am hopelessly devoted to {that was also sitting in my minivan when I decided to write this post.}

Via: I've written plenty about my abiding love of all things Starbucks. These little Via packs have changed my life. 

I'm the only coffee drinker in my home so there is rarely a need to brew an entire pot. Though instant coffee has heretofore been a loathsome brew {Sanka anyone?}, leave it to Starbucks to redeem dissolving coffee granules. My favorite is Italian Roast. 

The Gold Card: My running partner and I stop at our local Starbucks after every run for our post-workout reward. {I get the bold blend, tall in a grande cup....plenty of room for the add-in's.} As I've said before, it's cheaper than a gym membership and it feels like being rewarded for waking up and hitting the pavement before the sun comes up. Several years ago I registered my Starbucks card and once you hit 30 drinks, they send you one of these.

{Cue the angelic voices singing down from Heaven.}

It's a Starbucks card. That is gold. And has my name on it. They send me free drink coupons on my birthday and after I've had 15 coffees. And sometimes they send me other delightful free coupons and I do so love getting mail from Starbucks. {You're welcome, Starbucks, for 3 paragraphs of free advertising even though you are already rich enough to take over the world.}

Books on CD: Several years ago I started checking out books on CD from the library. Frequently I wouldn't finish them because honestly, how often was I alone in my van or in my house? Not often enough. But since I sent my kids to school I have loads of time alone in my van and it is a beautiful thing. When I'm not sitting in the complete silence and enjoying the tranquility of the moment, I listen to books. You've heard the phrase, So many books, so little time. Well, books on CD help with that. Right now I'm "reading" Life of Pi.

The Running Skirt: I bought a super fun souvenir on our trip to Tennessee over Spring Break. 

It's a skirt.

That you can run in!

Yes, it's a running skirt. And while I do realize I am not on the cutting edge of athletic fashion here {running skirts have been around for a while}, it's my first one and I am in love. It's hot pink, it's stretchy, it has shorts underneath {also stretchy}, and when I put it on I don't want to take it off. Ever. Last week I'd been in it all day and we had the middle school open house that evening. My daughter said to me, Mom, please tell me you're not wearing the running skirt to the open house. You'll be glad to know that I did not. 

But truly, I am in love with the running skirt. I'm convinced that I run faster and I will probably buy one or six more. After all, why should the tennis players get all the cute athletic wear?

{Technically I do not keep the skirt in my van. But I am hopelessly devoted to it and that's why it's thrown in the mix.}

And last but not least, Adele

Her CD is in my van at. all. times. I've been a fan of hers for a couple of years now and my love for her has only grown. She's just amazing, a true talent in a sea of manufactured, ridiculous, lesser songstresses. 


And on a more sentimental note, thank you, all of you, for your unbelievably thoughtful words on my last post

I'm reminded of a quote by Thomas Paine: These are the times that try men's souls. In my own words: These are the decisions that try a mama's soul. 

I guess quite a few of you totally get that. Thanks for making this place feel like a sweet and kindred community.


Okay, now it's your turn. What are you hopelessly devoted to?

Monday, April 23, 2012

On Mothering and Decision-Making and Feeling Inside-Out

Yesterday was supposed to be a day of rest but my fretful mind would not have it. I think that if scientists could determine a way to harness the wheel-spinning ferocity of every mother's over-thinking mind and turn it into an alternative fuel source, we could stop drilling for oil tomorrow. 

Sometimes being a mother feels like walking around inside-out. I try to stuff my wildly-feeling heart and messy insides safely and politely back where they belong but instead I'm like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, anxious and undone, stuffing spilling out at the seams. 

This season of rest and simplicity, this season that I named "The Year of Being Knit" has in many ways felt like the exact opposite. I'm wondering if I should rename it "The Year of Being Undone." Sometimes we have to become completely unraveled before we can properly be reassembled. 

Sending my kids to school has been the best thing for them and a much-needed sabbatical for me. But that's not to say it's been easy. While totally unrelated situations may have been the catalyst to send them to school, now I can't help but wonder if these very unrelated things forced a decision that I wouldn't have submitted to otherwise: school

Though this school-year has yet to finish and the next one looms far off on the other side of summer, you know how these things go. It's only spring but we have to make decisions and commitments for next fall. Technically we don't have to decide until the day before school starts but a summer of limbo isn't fair to my kids. 

I'm simply not ready to commit. My dreamy ideals of living and learning at home, of classical education and a slower-paced life, of keeping them just a bit protected for just a bit longer from the harsh realities of this world...these ideals beat mightily inside this unraveling mama's heart.

But then there is the real. And when I'm not knee-deep in it, I quickly forget the importance of knowing thyself. I am not laid back. I'm wired to need time alone or I fall to pieces. The day-in and day-out of my real looked nothing like my ideal. I get that it will never be perfect, that it's okay to have messy days where every single one of us has cried for one reason or another. But I will be perfectly honest with you: the unhappy, let's-just-survive days were far outnumbering the this-isn't-so-bad days. 

None of us were thriving at home. Especially me. And whether you're southern or not, you've heard the old adage: If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. 

We're four months in and I am still tired but less weary. I cry a lot but it feels good and necessary. I haven't figured out how to manage my days well but through trial and error, I'm learning. I haven't fully come to terms with anything but I'm progressing toward acceptance and that's better than standing still.

As for the kids, they're just fine. I'd venture to say they're actually great. Sometimes my daughter has more homework than I deem necessary. She's had stressful, unhappy moments...but fewer than she did at home. I've learned that my kids are more responsible, more independent, and far more adaptable and resilient than I gave them credit for. And I wouldn't have known any of this had I not sent them to school. They love their friends and their teachers. They love daily learning in community and from instructors who are passionate about their subjects. I was completely unprepared for the ways in which they would embrace the culture of school.

And all of their "success" has made our decisions for next year so much more difficult. Well, it's made my decision more difficult. That probably sounds crazy. Why fix what's not broken? 

Because all of this is not what I'd planned. It's not what I'd envisioned for any of us. Truly, it feels like the death of a dream {dramatic though that may sound.} The final decisions haven't been made and the pendulum may yet swing back the other direction. That's one of the pitfalls of blogging. You sometimes have to eat your words. But I'd rather be authentic and honest in my wrestling and indecision. I'm not the first mama to be in this place and I certainly won't be the last.

We all want what's best for these little and not-so-little ones that look to us every single day for love and sustenance. Our children are living and breathing pieces of us who walk around in a world that will hurt them and disappoint them. And when that happens? We hurt so badly we feel we might break in two. We want them to be prepared and protected and it's an overwhelming responsibility. For so many reasons, the ways and the places in which we educate them can determine the trajectory of their lives. This is what brings me to my knees. And to the box of Kleenex. 

A week ago I was in a particularly weepy place over my daughter and what to do about next year. She'll be in middle school and I'm simply not ready for any of this. I told my husband that he just needed to listen, that my heart was heavy and that I didn't feel I could bear my own emotional state alone. He waited quietly as I poured out my fears and failure. And then I said, Now it's your turn. I desperately need to know your thoughts and I need you to lead me through all of this. 

He is a man that measures his words carefully and for this I am grateful. 

She needs you to be her mother. For the rest of your life, that's what she'll need from you. Other people can teach her, but only you can be her mother. When you were her teacher, it was getting in the way of you being her mother. It just wasn't working. She's doing great in school. There are no red flags. This is the direction I'm leaning. 

I wept with both relief and grief. Relief because I need to know that it really is this simple. She needs me to be her mother. That's it. Grief because I wish I was cut out to be both. And maybe in time I will be...but not now. Accepting who I am versus who I want to be is one of the greatest battles I fight. It's so easy to be persuaded by others who are doing their thing {that you wish was your thing} and doing it well. I'm fooled into thinking that if I can just muster up enough patience and discipline and know-how, I can do the "thing" too.

Accepting that we are all created and called differently sounds good and easy. But it doesn't feel good or easy at the moment. Reckoning the real with the ideal is a slow, soulful, solitary surrender. 

If it was up to my daughter, she would boldly begin middle school tomorrow, skipping excitedly down the hallway with her new, monogrammed, aqua-colored L.L. Bean backpack {not that she's already picked it out or anything.} As for me, I wish I could turn back the clock and skip the other direction toward the simpler {though sleepless} days of diapers and breastfeeding. 

Maybe that's the bittersweet irony of motherhood. Our kids want to speed up the clock and we want to make it stand still. Right now it feels like the kids are winning. 

I find myself leaning hard into my husband's counsel. Sometimes it's the simplest of truths that sustain us during seasons of surrender: Only you can be their mother. 

And for now, this is enough. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Everyday Grace: Stop the World

It's one of those days when the to-do list is wrecked up. One of those days when you just stop the world because someone you love needs you and that's all there is to it. In this case, it's my child. Being needed doesn't look like cuddle time on the sofa or band-aids or even a listening ear. It looks like phone calls and e-mails and research. 

It looks like stopping the world and diving head-first into whatever it takes to help make things right. 

Often I'm so aware of my selfishness, the ways in which my own agenda and desires keep me from loving well. But today I was surprised by my sudden and uncharacteristic selflessness, the ways in which I didn't even think a bit about my shower or my list or my lunch or that important thing I had scheduled. 

It's as if a voice whispered to my pensive and burdened soul, This is what a parent's love does. It stops the world. 

Though the selfishness will surely be back in the office momentarily, I was given a gift, a brief glimpse into the heart of my Abba Father, the one whose likeness I bear. 

I stopped the world for you. I broke right through the universe and gave up my Son for you, that you could be his co-heir. All that is mine is yours, sweet child.

It's true. Christ took on everything that was not right with this broken world in order that it may one day be right again. But until then? We can stand in perfect relationship with God and experience peace, grace, love and freedom so beautiful and abundant, our finite minds can barely begin to imagine such gifts. 

Maybe your own world is swirling and askew today. Maybe you wish someone would break through the universe on your behalf and just make things right. 

Someone did. 

Live in the light of his great, world-stopping love for you.


Related Verses:

Luke Chapter 23

"Everyday Grace" is a weekly post I've recently begun. It is sort of in the style of a devotional {which is ironic...because I don't typically love devotionals} and a departure from the sort of posts I usually do. It began as a way to record the ways in which God is making the Gospel of Grace "real" to me in everyday ways. This is a way of recording it for myself and sharing with you. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

When You've Little to Show for Your Days: A Treatise on Rest & Renewal

You may be tired of reading about this "season of rest" but I'm not tired of writing about it. 

And when I'm not tired of writing about something it's because I'm still knee-deep in the thinking and processing stage of the something.

Before I sent my kids to school I spent nearly 5 years homeschooling them. Sometimes I did some part-time work at the same time in order to earn a bit of extra money. 

And before that I was a working mom for 5 1/2 years.

And before that I was graduate student and part-time teacher for 4 1/2 years.

And before that I worked full-time and then part-time for 2 1/2 years while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was married during this time.

And before that I was in college for 4 years. I was a year-round student-athlete and I also served in student government throughout my 4 years. And of course there were the degrees I earned along the way.

And before that I was a good student and a runner, a daughter and the oldest of 4 children, involved in church and at school and a whole host of endeavors. I didn't know life without stress, deadlines, and high expectations, most of which I set for myself.   

So I've been sort of busy my whole life. Until now. 

I don't work outside the home. And because I'm not homeschooling right now, I work less inside the home. And while raising three children is most definitely work, lots of people do it so it doesn't feel all that noteworthy or exceptional. It's taxing, sure, but I've been a mom now for 11 years and you sort of grow into the job and into the everyday nature of it. Collapsing into the bed at night is just normal when you're a mom. 

Bit by bit, I've taken off my various hats, put them away on the top shelf of the closet, and shut the door. I'm enjoying a respite from the busy-ness and expectation I've always known, at least for now, and do you know what? 

I'm sort of tired. Once you strip away the tasking and performing and the expectation, you're sometimes left to feel what's really down deep in its rawest form. 

Busyness can be a mask that keeps even the wearer fooled.  

These days, I'll get the kids into bed at night and then collapse into my own. I'll consider what I've accomplished during the day and honestly,sometimes I can't really think of anything "important." {Besides the lunch-packing, pick-up-ing, grocery-getting, dinner-making, sometimes writing, and sometimes laundry-doing. Again, that's just the normal basics right?}

This week I've been fighting off a bug and I've taken 2 naps and spent one entire afternoon sitting in my driveway in a lawn-chair with a book. I made my kids fix their own snacks because I was too tired from, you know, sitting in said chair and having to turn pages. 

I've been staring for days at 5 stacks of folded laundry that will not put themselves away and I cannot walk into the boys' room because there is literally no room to walk. None. It's wall-to-wall, plastic-y, made-in-China-palooza in there and it's been that way all week

I could have cleaned it up...or at least overseen their efforts to clean it up but I just haven't been up to the task. Why is this whole non-working thing wearing me out? I'll wonder. 

I was talking with my running partner this morning about my performance issues. How I'm struggling because I just don't have a lot to show for myself by the end of the day and I don't know what to do with that. 

She said, Girl, you've prayed for a season of rest. You knew you needed this. Enjoy it. Savor it. Don't feel guilty about it. 

The truth is, I don't really know what to do with rest. I don't really know what to do with anything that doesn't belong on a list, even if it's just a mental list. 

I love rest, to be sure. {I've always been a champion napper.} But I don't love feeling guilty about rest. It requires a complete rewiring of my performance-driven, perfectionistic brain. I will preach rest to everyone else; I'm just slow to heed my own advice.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my sister-in-law on the phone. She has three kids, the youngest of whom has special needs and doesn't sleep as much as she should. The past year-and-a-half has been an emotional roller-coaster for her and she's doing regular life on top of all of that! I'm amazed. I think she deserves a medal and a nap every day and a maid.  

She said she was frustrated with herself for being a "bad manager of her time." And by "bad manager" she meant that she read a book that day instead of cleaning the house while her precious baby decided to finally sleep. 

Well. I commenced to preaching and told her that reading a book was a supremely wise use of her time and that she should have taken a nap to boot. Oh, I preached some rest to this poor, tired sister of mine and then wondered why in the world she was being so hard on herself.

Until I recognized that I'm no different. 

I realize that some people are just wired to feel less guilty about rest. I try to make friends with these kinds of people. They are like fresh air and the ocean to me. I'm drawn to their freedom and realistic standards, probably because deep down, I know that theirs is a life that is centered on Truth.  

Life in Christ should not be a life of striving, stress, and unrelenting guilt. Busy-ness is not inherently holy. You will not see "completed to-do list" and "productivity" on the fruit of the spirit tree right next to "patience," "kindness," and "self-control." 

This is what I tell myself. 

And this is the hard-fought Truth that's trying to work itself out in my life--in my mind, my deeds, and my rest:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  ~Romans 12:2

These things take time, don't they? And oh, it is hard to be patient with ourselves. 

Transformation and renewal begin in the mind and bear fruit in real life. Often we behave as if this is backwards. We begin with deeds and productivity and then hope that the necessary changes will settle into our thought patterns after we've "gotten it right" often enough. 

Renewal can take place through practices and in a variety of time frames but I've realized that, for me, rest precedes renewal and stillness precedes transformation. Sometimes it's the hard stuff, seasons of trial, that force the issue. That's my story at least. My current season of rest is probably not forever, but it is certainly for now. 

I am prone to spoiling the gift with guilt. I write to remind myself that gifts are given in order to be received. And enjoyed.

As we rest, we are renewed. And as we are renewed, our Spirit-filled minds are better able to sense, with clarity and confidence, the work that He has designed just for us. 

When I consider it this way? 

Rest doesn't feel wasteful. 

It feels fruitful. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stealth Perfectionism

I have perfectionist tendencies. This is not news. 

I've written about perfectionism so much that I can't even begin to find all the posts. {I tried. But it would require so many hyper-links that I just gave up and didn't link a single one. Take that, perfectionism!}

Awareness is half the battle and a few weeks ago I would have told you that in recent years, bit by bit, I've kicked my perfectionist ways to the curb.

But lately I've become aware of the subtle sneakiness of perfectionism, how it rears its ugly head even in the mundane.

There's nothing inherently wrong with striving for excellence. If you are my brain surgeon, I hope you're a perfectionist.

But most of our ways and tasks are not life and death. 

I'll give you a few personal examples.

I'm sort of a healthy eater. I feel better and have more energy when I eat good food. My ideal breakfast is a fruit smoothie...with bunches of kale in it. I know, it's uber-healthy and obnoxious. But sometimes the craziness of the morning does not offer ideal conditions to whip up my kale smoothie and I keep thinking I might be able to make one so I wait and get the kids off to school and fold up some laundry real quick and check my e-mail and think about the smoothie and how I really should have that for breakfast instead of a lesser choice and then it's 10:30 and I am seeing stars and about to pass out.

All because I'm holding out for perfect when acceptable would have kept me vertical.

I like to make our family's budget stretch as far as I can. In the past I've used coupons for groceries and toiletries and sometimes I still do. I know when I'm getting something for a great price and when I'm overpaying and the latter just kills me, even when I know it's out of necessity. Too often we'll need something and I'll see it at the store and know that I should pick it up but I can save $1 if I have that coupon from home and maybe I should just wait on these things that I know I could get cheaper and come back tomorrow armed with my money-saving skillz but by the next morning we are using napkins to wipe our hineys and I'm mixing half and half with water to pour over the kids' cereal and everyone hates me.

All because I'm trying to save $3 on toilet paper and milk. 

I procrastinate laundry because I want to get it all done at once which never happens and I wonder why 8 piles are staring me in the face on any given day.

I'd given up on buying plants and flowers because I kill them. {Until the Nester's posts reminded me that every plant will eventually die and a year's worth of beauty from blooms is well worth a few measly dollars.}

I rarely send cards and notes because I feel like I need to send everyone who needs a card the perfect handwritten note and then I don't end up sending any and now? No one knows that I love them.

I could give you more examples but I'd die of shame.  

Oh it is just embarrassing how perfectionism lurks around in the recesses of my mind and taunts me with striving and guilt. It is ridiculous how much time and energy I waste trying to do something perfectly {by my standards} instead of adequately. And it is insane that I fail to acknowledge, time and again, that there is always opportunity cost. Always. Every yes is also a no and this is one of the most important lessons I'm learning.

Rest and sanity? It's worth something. Quite a lot actually.

Food on the table? That's success, no matter what you paid for it. 

Toilet paper in the holder? Pat yourself on the back. 

A note to a friend even if there's 8 thank-you notes you keep forgetting to write? Awesome. You have a friend who knows you love her. 

Confronting my perfectionism forces me to prioritize, to examine what I really value. Priorities may shift from season to season but right now, for me, I have chosen rest and healing and just the bare necessities. 

It means my grocery bill is a little higher. 

It means my kids are in public school instead of being classically-educated at home.

It means my house is messier than I'd like. {Well, that's not really a new theme.}

It means I spend some mornings writing in the quiet instead of matching up socks or scrubbing toilets or mopping my floor.

It means I choose fruitfulness over productivity. 

Daily, I have to preach acceptance, remind my high-strung, high-standards self that it's all okay. It really is okay. 

And there is exhilarating freedom in making friends with okay and telling perfect to move out.

Unless you're a brain surgeon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Everyday Grace: Messy Anger

This morning I woke up angry. The sun wasn't even up and I was quietly fuming. And also feeling guilty that I was dealing with anger over something that is, essentially, a triviality. But it felt like an unjust triviality and those situations are just the worst for me. Still, I was surprised by my anger and just as quickly condemning myself for it. 

The house was still asleep and I longed to bask in the quiet, to be encouraged by time in the Word and through prayer. But I had this anger thing going on so my "quiet time" felt fake and insincere. 

My husband came in and I ranted to him about the "trivial injustice" and the subsequent anger I felt. I'm so mad, I told him, but I don't want to pray for grace. I just want to be mad. 

The day had just begun and already this stupid anger had put a fortress around my heart and self-righteous pride was shaking its accusing finger in my face, insinuating that a spiritually mature person wouldn't get so bent out of shape.

In many ways I felt like I had to clean up my emotions and get my mature self together before I could come to God and have a proper moment with Him. I don't actually believe that but functionally, I sometimes live as if I do. Don't you just hate it when real life reveals your true theology? 

My husband's response to my rant was simple: Just give it to Him. He knows.

Instantly, I knew he was right. I didn't need to clean it up or work it through. I just needed to hand it over. There is such healing and release in coming to Jesus just as we are, messy anger and all. After all, He already knows. He created us to feel and to feel deeply. And though sin has marred every bit of creation, emotions included, they are part of our sacred design. 

What are your emotions today? I encourage you to give them to Jesus--your messy anger, your embarrassing jealousy, your stubborn fear. Emotions are strong but His power and presence are stronger. Don't try to plot, figure out, clean up, or resolve in your own strength. Jesus invites you to cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. The stuff that's heavy for us is light for Him. 

He is the One who conquered death and sin for all mankind. Your emotions, ugly though they may be, are no match for His power, love, and beautiful sovereignty. Trust Him to work this out. He uses all things for our good and for His glory, messy anger included. 

Related Scripture


"Everyday Grace" is a weekly post I've recently begun. It is sort of in the style of a devotional {which is ironic...because I don't typically love devotionals} and a departure from the sort of posts I usually do. It began as a way to record the ways in which God is making the Gospel of Grace "real" to me in everyday ways. This is a way of recording it for myself and sharing with you. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


For a woman of leisure, I have sure been busy. And also a bit scattered. Apparently I'm a complete rookie at finding balance and rhythm. As is the case with most of us, I learn best by doing it wrong and reaching the end of myself. Even though I've been married for 16 years and a mom for 11, this is my first time to ever be at home without kids and without a {paying} job. I'm a bona fide "homemaker" and nothing in school prepared me to get this right.  

Thank goodness for grace. And also a change of scenery.

We just returned from a lovely, fun-filled few days with my husband's side of the family. We traveled from three different states and met up in a big cabin in the mountains of Tennessee. 

There was hiking and shopping, golfing and ice cream, coffee and air hockey. Even though the cabin felt remote-ish {in a good way}, we were still within 10-15 minutes of Starbucks. And Krispy Kreme. And Ben & Jerry's. I know, it's a culinary trifecta. 

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law invited my husband and me on a "little hike" Tuesday morning. I love hiking. My husband? Not so much. Which is ironic really...because he can run mile after mile at breakneck speed and barely be winded, yet hiking wears him out. That's because walking evidently makes him more tired than running. How weird is that? {We should all be so lucky.} So all of that to say, this particular hike was a labor of love. 

But back to the hike. Y'all. This hike was not for the faint of heart. It was four miles of steep, rough-ish terrain {in parts} and also absolutely beautiful. Much ado was made about the view from the top. I envisioned a meadowy summit of wildflowers, the sort of place one could enjoy a picnic. Or a nap. 

Well. If we had seen this sign at the beginning of hike, we would have known otherwise. As luck would have it, we saw it at the end. 

There was no meadow, only a jaggedy cliff of sheer rock. And guess who made it furthest up the summit?

You guessed it. The non-hiker.

What you don't see on either side of him is sky. Sky that you fall through as you plunge to your death. Where are the guard rails, people? 

Obviously we made it home alive and had lots of fun stories to tell. The great thing about hiking is that there's nothing to do while you hike but talk. {And also take pictures.} It was a super fun bonding experience for the four of us and the inside-jokes will live on forever.  

{More pics of our treacherous climb hike.}

Moving on from vacation, I have to tell you about my 4-year-old. He has resorted to something I affectionately refer to as "Owl-Speak." Every question begins with "Who" and it is both odd and funny. And mildly disrespectful.

Who can get me some ice water? Who?

Who can press "play" for me? Who?

Who wants to fix me a snack? Who wants to?

Who can wipe my bottom? Who?

Who has food for me? Who?

It's as if every need and desire is an open casting call and surely everyone within earshot is vying for the role of snack-fixer. Or bum-wiper. 

Oh it is just the craziest thing. Which is fitting...because he is sort of a crazy character.

So that's the scoop around here. I hope you all have a blessed weekend, one that is full in every way. And if you're lucky, you may have a crazy toddler cowboy audition you for the role of pressing "play." 


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