Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Favorite Things, January Edition: Dessert for Breakfast and "Loving Who You Am"

Happy almost February, month of hearts, chocolate, and all things red and pink. In honor of the month of love, even though it's still a few days before the month of love, I thought I'd dish about the things I'm loving right now.


1. Love Crunch by Nature's Path. I just picked up a ridiculously large bag of this dark chocolate and red berries granola from Costco. It's like eating dessert for breakfast. Dessert that's good for you. I double heart this "cereal."

Love Crunch - Dark Chocolate & Red Berries [npa-771807.jpg]

2. iPhone Cases that are free and cute.

My friend and I were running yesterday morning when she spotted this iPhone case on the side of the road. We have found an array of useful, ridiculous, and scandalous cast-offs on the side of the road during the several years we've run together. Just recently she found a vintage architectural brick and insisted on carrying it the remaining two miles. It weighed 12 pounds. She is crazy {and also strong.} But this little polka-dotted treasure is all mine. And since it weighs a millionth of an ounce, it beat running with a brick. 

3. Watercolor Girl. 

I've been dreaming of a new blog design for about two years. I'm still waiting for the stars to align in order to make it happen but until then, I've been pinning and bookmarking various fonts, images, and inspiration ideas. I keep coming back to this lovely image. I call her "The Thinking Girl." She's a stock image and a bit pricey but I'm hoping I can one day work her {or something similar} into the design.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: A No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Novel (1)

After plowing through The Thorn Birds and then The Poisonwood Bible, I was in desperate need of something less epic and tragic for my fiction read. Several people had recommended this book {which is actually the first book in a series} and it was just what I needed--quirky and delightful, with a writing voice that is unique without feeling contrived. The setting is modern-day Botswana and I love the main character, Mme. Rawotse, so much that I want to move to Africa and open a tea shop next door to her detective agency. 

5. Masterpiece. British TV has positively ruined me for American television. Ruined, I tell you. Thankfully PBS and Netflix have come to my rescue. The Man and I are addicted to Downton Abbey {along with the rest of the free world} but we've also enjoyed the remake of Upstairs, Downstairs, Sherlock, The Last Enemy, and Call the Midwife. {Let it be known, The Man does not watch the midwife show.} I think we're going to embark on Luther next, but I've heard it's dark and disturbing. We'll watch the pilot and see how it goes. 

Right now I'm still recovering from this past Sunday's episode of Downton Abbey. If you've watched it {and only if you've watched it}, you may appreciate this article by Jessica Fellowes. 

6. Chartreusy colors. {Which help to lighten the mood after said Downton Abbey episode.} I'm really loving various versions of this color right now. I bought these jeans on clearance at Target after Christmas. 

I wear them and I feel happy. Period. 

7. And happy is the perfect segue to the last favorite thing on the list: the stuff my littlest says. 

I've said before that five is about the perfect age but it bears repeating. The kooky wardrobe combinations, the crazy sayings, the most inspiring confidence. I so want to be five again. 

Anyway, here's my favorite quote of the week...
Looking in the mirror and admiring his outfit--Robin Hood pants, button-up dress shirt, cape, cowboy hat, huge belt, and cowboy boots: 

Mommy, I just love who I am.

And so those are the words of wisdom I leave you with today, spoken by a sage 5-year-old: 

Love who you am. 


Your turn. What do you love these days?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When You Want to Fix Your Life Like You'd Fix Your Roof

Roofers swarm atop our humble abode and part of me is certain one of them will fall straight through the ceiling. The dog finally quit barking and I type back here in my bedroom, buried under the covers while my littlest guy watches Bob and Larry turned up too loud in the living room. 

For a woman who loves her tranquility, I sit smack in the middle of irony. The house is a wreck, the result of an organization project yesterday in which the task outlasted my energy. Books, laundry, toys, and too-small shoes litter our one, small hallway. The top of my house is ripped off. Also? Roofing is a crazy loud endeavor.

Our not-so-old roof is the victim of protracted weather damage. Too much wind here, a bit of hail there. We didn't realize it until a strip of shingles just landed on our front stoop one day. And then a few more another day. One home-owners claim and an insurance adjuster later, it turned out we needed a new roof. 

I'm not usually one to stretch my metaphors but I can't help it this time.

Homes don't usually fall apart all at once and neither do those who live inside them. A string of disappointments here. A few years of unchecked bitterness there. Comforts-turned-coping-mechanisms-turned-sin start slow and snowball. The daily demands of family life make the urgent trump the important. 

And then one day part of the proverbial roof hits you on the head and you realize you're in bad need of fixing. 

These roofers roared in bright and early with their giant trailer loaded up with nail guns and tarps, shingles and boards, ladders and wood. They get down to business, systematically ripping out the bad, putting in the new, setting it all just so, and then moving on to another job. 

In two days flat, we'll go from falling-apart roof to brand new roof. And then we move on to another day, problem solved, shiny new roof sheltering us from the elements.

God, why won't You just swarm in and fix us up in two days? How many more layers do you need to rip out before you rebuild? What is the point of protracted pain and struggle and strife? I'm exhausted and can you see this white flag I'm waving already? 

I want the quick{er} fix, the two-day roof job. 

But it's not happening. 

Lately I've feel a bit ripped apart and exposed. I try in vain to patch up the outside under the illusion that it will also take care of the mess inside. As if fixing a roof will repair the water-damaged furniture or the ceiling that's soggy and falling in wet chunks to the floor.

We can't work from the outside-in and we can't reconcile the mess of our lives with the glossy images and slick successes of others' lives. I know these things, yet I am slow to learn.

Monday I read this post of Ann's. And then I read it again. I read it two more times before I went to bed that night.  

Here's an excerpt {but you should go read the rest}:

You don’t get to make up most of your story. You get to make peace with it. 
You don’t get to demand your life, like a given. You get to accept your life, like a gift.
Beginnings and middles, they are only yours to embrace, to unwrap like a gift.
But you get the endings. You always get the endings.
You get the endings and you get to make them a gift back to the Giver.
She told herself that, tucking falling strands behind her ear: Here wasn’t a glory to wrestle, but a grace to receive. Isn’t everything that is good always hard?

Sometimes truth like that dangles in front of you like a carrot. You're starving and you desperately want it but no matter how hard you try, it's simply out of reach.

Lord, I'm trying so hard to make peace with this life of mine...but it's not happening. I'm doing all I know to fix it...but it won't stay put together.

So is that part of the answer? Stop trying. Stop laboring in your own strength or expecting those in relationship with you to labor in their own strength to just fix it already and move on.

Perhaps waving the white flag doesn't mean failure and it doesn't have to mean apathy. It can simply mean you cease striving and rest in the One who holds the whole world together, even when it feels as though it's falling apart.

I love this translation of Psalm 46:10:

Cease striving and know that I am God...

Is that what it means to make peace with our story? Because truly, there is only so much we can control. And it's not as much as we think.

Just ask my two beautiful sisters-in-law, one on my side of the family and one on my husband's side, who each gave birth to Down Syndrome baby girls just three weeks apart, one in Charlotte and one in Indianapolis. I don't have to tell you that these baby nieces of mine are among God's most precious gifts to this world and to our families. But that does not mean life for their parents is without its many struggles and heartaches and questions. 

They didn't plan it this way. There are no quick fixes for their challenges. 

Ask one of my dearest friends for the last ten years, Susan, who found out over the holidays that she has cancer. Stage 4. She's married, with two kids in middle school. Chemo began Monday and we're all praying, praying so hard, for God to heal her. 

She didn't plan it this way. Neither did her family. There is no quick fix for this cancer.

Ask me, ask my husband—why, in 17 years of marriage, we've had more than the average share of struggle and why it seems easier for some couples than others to make this thing work. We love each other and we are committed. But those virtues aren't enough to deflect suffering. 

We didn't plan it this way. There is no quick fix for marriage.

I usually ask more questions than I provide answers. And while I know there can be purpose in the seeking and communion in the quest, right now I'm choosing to just stop. 

Today, I wave the white flag and purpose to simply cease striving and know that He is God and that He is love. 

And nothing can separate me from his immeasurable love—not a story I wouldn't have chosen or a future that makes no sense or a trial that seems to have no end—nothing.

{Not even a roofer falling through the ceiling onto my head.}  

Today, I choose to give up. 

I choose not to resent.

I choose not to fix. 

I choose not to over-think.

Today, I simply rest in His unending love. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

School Decisions: Finding Your Family's Path & Walking in Freedom

My posts about school, particularly our transition from homeschool to public school, are by far the most read posts on my blog. Who knew?

I'm not a stats person but I recently found an interesting trend. My posts about school average five to ten times the views of my other posts. I don't usually pay numbers much attention. I simply write what I want to write. 

But do you know what this tells me? There is apparently a vacuum on the subject of transitioning from homeschool to public school. 

Because of this, I now feel there's a bit more purpose in these posts and I hope to offer words of freedom and consolation born out of my own journey. 

I get e-mails out of the blue, readers thanking me for speaking my small, shaky voice into the big void. I never wanted to be someone who stepped into that empty space. So all I can say is: Thank you for letting me share our journey. I spill my crazy insides onto these pages and then you thank me and tell me that my crazy has made you feel less crazy. Confounding, is what it is.  

Even though homeschoolers are still greatly in the minority, there is a lot of online support and often much personal, community support for making the switch. It's a countercultural decision and as I've said before, you need your people. I know I did. I'm thankful that such support exists; I know it hasn't always been the case. 

But it makes me wonder why there is such little support for doing the opposite. Perhaps some homeschoolers feel sad for or disappointed by or afraid of those {like my family} who jump ship. Or maybe it's just that they haven't walked this road so they don't have much to say.

Perhaps decisive public school folks don't know what all the fuss is about anyway. They never really questioned the decision; why should anyone else? Or maybe it's just that they haven't walked this road so they don't have much to say either.

When we abruptly made our decision, I never had a single homeschool friend try to talk me out of it. Every person who spoke to me was incredibly kind and wished us well. I'm so grateful for their kindness. I would have crumbled into a heap if someone had negatively confronted me at that point.

But well-wishing is not the same thing as camaraderie with those who have gone before you and lived to tell about it. Guess how many moms I personally knew who had done the same thing? One. 

I enjoy chronicling our journey on my blog but that is not to say it's easy. These posts are tedious to write because they require such mental energy. I want to say things "just so" for fear of being misunderstood. Decisions about how to educate one's children are intensely personal and therefore the subject can become intensely divisive. Though it's ridiculous, few things make us recoil more than differing ideas on politics, religion, or parenting.  

Because of the delicacy of the subject, it's hard to write in a way that is both tender and honest. I have learned so much on our journey and as a result, I have some deep convictions of my own. And yet this is a topic that should be situated totally and completely within the context of freedom; it doesn't usually feel that way though.

I can't tell you or anyone else what to do. And I wouldn't want to. I don't have answers; I can simply write about what I've discovered along the way. We're still not very far along on it, just a little over a year. Yet our story thus far has taught all of us volumes about ourselves, our family, and our God. 

A brief caveat: Because I am a Christian, faith informs all of my decisions. Even if you are not a person of faith, you still hold values and convictions that inform your decisions, especially the big ones. This post, however, talks about God more than many of the posts I write. I'm just letting you know up front.

{Also? This post is considerably longer than my usual fare. You may want to grab a cup of coffee. Or use the bathroom.}

Could it be that God calls us all differently because He uses us all differently? I can think of many ways my own school experience--the good, the bad, and the abysmal--have equipped me for life, not because it was perfect but because it was the path ordained for me by a sovereign God. 

Jesus' own disciples and apostles came from a myriad of backgrounds--socially, economically, educationally, vocationally. They all brought varying life experiences to the table and were given unique ministry opportunities as a result. Sometimes it was because of their background; other times it was in spite of of their background.

God is not limited by the ways we often limit ourselves or others. His ways are not our ways, nor are his thoughts our thoughts.

Christian proponents of public school may argue that it's our "mission field," our "world," the place where we are to be "salt and light." 

Christian proponents of homeschool {and Christian private school} often argue that we equip our kids by providing a strong foundation in faith and learning before sending them out into the world to be "salt and light." 

And they are both right. 

But where is our trust? Is our trust, our hope, our salvation for our children and our communities and our world found in education or methodologies? 

Are we following followers of one camp or another, or are we following a God who delights in directing us in ways that are unique and personal? 

Are we congregating with likeminded people more because they affirm our ways and share our fears rather than challenge us to proceed differently, if a certain way is no longer fruitful? 

Perhaps it all comes down to the issue of "calling." And you don't have to be religious to embrace the idea of being led down one road and not another. 

But if you are a Believer, I'm wondering if it has to be this: calling. I'm not sure if there is any other lens through which we see our family's path. 

That's fine and good, you may say. But how does one find this elusive "calling?" I'm on the fence. I'm confused. I'm afraid. What if I choose wrong?

I hear you. I am you. Fear has unfortunately been a constant companion since I first became a mother. 

Allow me to share what I'm discovering:

Sometimes God leads us through His word. This was one of the ways he confirmed, for us, the decision to homeschool nearly six years ago. 

Sometimes God leads us through prayer and meditation as we seek answers. 

Sometimes God leads us as the Holy Spirit moves and leads in powerful and unmistakable ways. Other times it is a still, small voice.

Sometimes God leads through wise counsel.

Sometimes God leads through the guidance of our spouse.

And sometimes God leads through circumstances and common sense. 

Let me elaborate on this last point. It's the one I think many of us discount because it's "less spiritual" and perhaps more subjective. 

In the case of schooling, we can enter a season and find that what worked in prior seasons is no longer feasible.

There are countless reasons for this:

It's no longer healthy for a homeschool mom to have homeschooling on her plate. She's burned out, stressed out, emotionally and / or physically drained to a point that she is not healthy.

Or perhaps homeschool is no longer the best option because one's marriage needs full attention. 

Maybe homeschooling is no longer a fruitful course for one or more kids who would do better in a classroom setting. 

Perhaps one child needs full attention at home and therefore the other kids need to learn elsewhere.

I used homeschooling in the above examples because that's been my experience, going from homeschool into public school. Sometimes it's public or private school that's no longer feasible and homeschool becomes the better option. 

God gifted us with minds to think and evaluate; that's the "common sense" part. {Sometimes our poor minds are so stressed and depleted that it takes other wise and loving people to speak necessary truth into our lives--a counselor, a pastor, a spouse, a trusted mentor.} 

God has used all of these "leading ways" countless times during my life, often using several of them together to confirm a decision. 

It's so difficult to go a different way than we'd planned and this goes for those of us who switch our kids from school at home to the school down the road and for those of us who'd planned to put our kids in school and for one reason or another, that's just not best.


Proverbs 3:5-6 is a verse that has come to mind many times recently: 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

What would our lives, decisions, emotional states look like if we leaned hard into God's understanding, trusting Him with our whole hearts, instead of making idols out of our own knowledge, insight, and desires?

I think it would translate into lives governed by freedom instead of fear. I am just baby steps into the land of Freedom and let me tell you, it's a way better place to live. 

I'm not really an "old mom" yet but increasingly, I have opportunity to speak into the lives of new moms, simply because my oldest baby is now in middle school. I tell these frightened, sweet moms to put down the books and get on their knees.

I wish I'd read less and prayed more. 

And every time I say that, I preach it to myself. Sure, there are books that have encouraged and guided me tremendously as I've trod the treacherous path of parenting. But the toughest decisions we've made had nothing to do with what we read in a book and everything to do with how God was personally leading us as a family.

As a mom, I want the formula. A + B = amazing kids.

Here's the hard but freeing news: There isn't a formula. Our kids' training grounds vary, in part because their futures vary. Our options vary because our resources, abilities, and circumstances vary. Our decisions vary because what one kid needs is not what another kid needs, or what works for one parent is not working for another. 

Education isn't always about the "best," most noble way. Do what's feasible and practical. Your lofty ideals are beautiful. I know it's because you love your kids; you want nothing but the best for them. 

But sometimes the ideal is trumped by the "real." Know that it's okay, maybe even better? As I've said before: 

Sometimes real life reroutes us in ways that feel like failure but are actually grace.  

Trust that God has the right training ground for your kid and it may not be the one you'd planned. Your hope is not in a formula; it's in a Person. Though we lead and guide our children, we too are led and guided by our own Shepherd. 

He loves you and He loves your children. He gently leads those who have young.

May all of us find rest in this promise.


Isaiah 40:11

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.


My comment section provides a way for me to reply to individual comments on the blog. You won't get an e-mail notification or anything; you just have to check back. I know this issue invites lots of feedback. I'll do my best to read and respond to individual comments.  : )

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dish: Enchiladas, the Golden Globes, & Flea Market Rain Boots

I haven't typed out a "Dish" post in a while so here are some quick random takes on life behind the blog.  

I'm making this for dinner tonight and taking a pan of it to a friend as well. 

Simply Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas. Photo by Andi of Longmeadow Farm

Chicken enchiladas with sour cream sauce. I made it last week and it was way yummy {and pretty easy.}

It's rainy and gray and I plan to spend the day clomping around in these boots. 

Did I ever tell you the story of these boots? Well, I'd wanted some wellies for years but could never find the right pair at the right price. I was at the flea market last spring, the crazy one I go to a few times a year, and a lady with a table full of shoes had a lone pair of brand new Hunter boots, size 7. I loved them and had never heard of the brand; I simply liked the boots. They reminded me of faded denim or French blue terra cotta pots. 

I thought $30 was quite a lot for flea market boots so I deliberated for a while and finally went back for them. She told me they were over $100 new and I just smiled politely while I thought to myself, Nice try lady but I've already agreed to buy them so you can save the sales pitch. Well, I went home and looked up my boots on the internet. The shoe lady wasn't lying. For $30, mine are probably fake. But I love them still. I am prone to unwittingly buying fake stuff at the flea market. 

{Sometime I'll have to tell you the story of a bunch of MAC make-up I purchased there. All fake. That was a sad day. My husband has made me promise that I will never buy name-brand anything at the flea market again. I mostly promised to heed that advice.}  

I've done a couple of DIY projects around the house. Posts forthcoming. One involves a bookcase that went from beige to aqua and now sits in my foyer, holding books I just can't part with. 

It took about an hour. I do not have the patience or energy for long projects these days. {Or ever.} 

Another involves a 9-drawer dresser that a friend gave me. It serves as our media center. Our giant IKEA one was simply too giant for me. My neighbor bought it and it's just perfect in her house. We swap furniture and other household junk quite a lot on my street.  

Anyway, I've painted it but three of the front drawers are a bit warped, despite lots of sanding, so I'm experimenting with a cover for them. That's right, I'm slipcovering drawers. Crazy. It involves burlap and mod podge. I did one drawer and then got tired so, you know, we'll see how {and if} things all come together. I have a lazy streak a mile wide. 

I just started The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. It's the second fiction book in a row for me that takes place in Africa. The last one was The Poisonwood Bible, a great book indeed but I'm craving something a bit lighter. And shorter. So far, so good. 

My hair hasn't been touched by a professional since May. The ends look like straw and my ever-increasing gray strands are a daily reminder that 40 is only five months away. I'm thinking of taking matters into my own hands and asking my husband to just trim up the ends. Perhaps Miss Clairol can help with the rest. Is this a bad idea? Be honest. 

We un-enrolled our youngest from preschool even though we dearly loved his school. I enjoy having him with me, especially because he'll begin kindergarten in just 7 months. The mere mention of it makes me weak in the knees. I reserve the right to change my mind. 

Until then, I'm enjoying the messy vignettes of cardboard boxes, matchbox cars, and various costumes strewn about my house. I am desperately, hopelessly in love with the age of five. 

Finally, the Golden Globes are Sunday. I giddily anticipate the Globes and the Oscars every single year. Judge all you want; I make no apologies. Two of my favorite funny ladies, Tina and Amy, are hosting and this makes me extra giddy. My sister now lives close enough to join me on the sofa this year and I'm calling it "the sofa soiree." Super pumped about this. And I'm thinking of throwing together some of Pioneer Woman's sesame noodles. Party on. 


{Epilogue...because it's my blog and sometimes a single post needs one.}

I crank out a crazy assortment of posts around here. I've realized that's because I'm a crazy assortment of a lot of things. My posts therefore reflect me, someone who enjoys dishing about everything from enchiladas and lipstick to motherhood and marriage. 

My posts this week have been on the lighter side and for good reason: real life sometimes breaks our hearts. My family is just fine but our hearts break badly for dear ones who are not. Most of my thoughts and emotions these days are sober and personal ones.  

So thanks for coming here to partake of whatever it is I'm serving up. Deeper, more writerly posts are certainly ahead but for now, enchiladas and superficial "news" will have to do. I guess I just wanted you to know why. 

Whatever your weekend holds, take time to enjoy some yumminess. Because sad or glad, we all have to eat and we might as well make it good.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Find the Funny

{Only a mom with a warped sense of humor takes pictures of her kid crying over the candy she won't let him have in the Wal-Mart checkout line. What can I say? The ridiculousness of the meltdown was just too dramatic not to capture.}

I need to write. I want to write. But the stuff churning about inside isn't the stuff I can spill. The truth is, there's tough realities up in here, occupying much of my mental space.

But I was reminded this morning that laughter is the best medicine. So here's some chuckle therapy, stuff I've come across recently that has made me howl. L to the O to the L. 

I thought you might need it too.

Raise your glass to the funny, my friends. {Also? My humor tends to be slightly warped and / or slightly juvenile. I can't help it.} 


Admit it, a British accent makes everything wittier. {Just click on the picture and it will play.} I'm not usually one for animal funnies but this? Is gold. 

A few of my favorite recent funny pins on Pinterest:

“Everyone said to Vincent van Gogh, "You can't be a great painter, you only have one ear." And you know what he said? "I can't hear you.”


Gay Bridal Registry

Funny Family Ecard: When I was little my dad had me convinced that the Ice Cream truck only played music when it was sold out. Well played Dad, well played.

Best security system against monsters ever.

Caption reads, "Best security system against monsters ever." How true indeed. 


No matter how gray the clouds may look today, get some free endorphins by taking time to find the funny. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

What a Difference a Year {of rest} Makes

Exactly one year ago my days usually looked something like this:

Get kids out the door for school. Sit on the sofa for hours--sometimes writing, sometimes journaling, sometimes reading, sometimes dozing. I'd leave at 12:45 to pick up the youngest from preschool. I picked up the older two at 2:30. Because I'd spent most mornings doing nothing, I had a wee bit of energy to transition into mom mode, oversee the kids, and throw together something for dinner. It was not uncommon for me to doze off by 8:30, sleepily slurring words while reading Harry Potter to the kids. The bare minimum wore me out.

For months on end, my days were characterized by exhaustion and rest. My thoughts waffled between gratitude for the opportunity to just finally stop and recover, and guilt because I had nothing to show for my days. I wondered if I would ever feel normal again. I could hardly remember what normal was for me. 

But here's the thing about having nothing to give: "Nothing" is void of inertia. {I'm sure there is some law of physics that puts it way better.}

No amount of bootstrap-tugging or mantra-repeating can make it happen. On my better days I knew the futility of trying to make myself different than I was. I prayed and hoped that one day things would change and in the meantime, I received the grace to simply accept who I was: a tired, emotional mess. My job was to rest and heal. And so I did, some days better than others. {See? I even measure my rest as successful or not. Surely perfectionism is an illness.}

Yesterday was a day I couldn't have executed even a few months ago. I got up early to run, came home and readied the kids for school. Then my five-year-old and I took the dog to the vet for shots. The dog peed and pooped twice in Pet Smart just like she always does. And so I cleaned it up, just like I always do, all the while laughing at the ridiculous dirty work of my everyday. I held said dog during the shots while fielding 5,269 questions from my five-year-old and making sure he didn't collapse the folding examination table on his head. After that we went to Target, stopped for lunch, visited a thrift store, and browsed an antiques shop. I made phone calls, paid bills, talked with a neighbor, picked up kids, debriefed about their school days, fixed something new for dinner, and did at least three loads of laundry. By the time we finished our read-aloud time last night, I was tired. And I should have been. I packed a lot of stuff into the day.

A day like that would not have been possible last year. I would have been lucky to fit all of those tasks into one week, maybe even one month. It's crazy how great I felt about myself when I went to bed last night. And I mean crazy in a bad way. 

Because here's what I've learned. Productivity and "success" don't force one to wrestle with issues of grace and acceptance and weakness. On days like yesterday, I was my own motivator and savior. I relied on my trusty to-do list, boundless energy, and welcome creativity. 

I needed Jesus less...or so it seemed.

But the "loser days" and the "winner days" are actually shouting the same message: Girl, you need Jesus every day. On the exhausting days, you need him to save you from your circumstances and your inability. On the energetic days, you need him to save you from yourself and your ability.   

Both kinds of days point to my complete and utter dependance; productivity simply disguises the need a little more. 

I wouldn't say I'm back to "normal," whatever that is. But I am returning, slowly, to a place where I'm more functional. Rest looks a bit different now. Last year I rested out of complete necessity; this year rest will be more of a discipline. I am learning to practice time-outs even when my mind and body are telling me I can accomplish more. 

Yesterday my running partner and I were talking about where I was a year ago. I joked about how, for months on end, I had absolutely nothing to show for my days. She said, That's not true. All those days of rest are showing up now, this year. 

And that's the truth. Rest takes time. Its effects are cumulative and life-giving but it requires a patience which daily accomplishment doesn't mandate. Projects and checked-off to-do lists provide instant gratification. Rest makes you wait for it. I've learned this the hard, beautiful way and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

After two days of productivity, I'm forcing myself to bask in the quiet this morning, to stay in my pajamas, to read and meditate and write, to acknowledge my need even though I don't feel it as acutely, physically and emotionally.  

Now that each and every day aren't plagued by utter inability, I oscillate between being Mary on a pensive Tuesday and Martha on a task-oriented Thursday. And though work and rest are needful rhythms in our lives, Jesus reminds us that only one thing is truly the main course: to sit at his feet, to rest in his presence, to know that his words are life-giving and that his perfect life is what gives us life. 

We fill up so that we can pour out. 

Sometimes we devote ourselves to rest for a season, a very long season if that's what it takes. Other times rest is a practice, a lifestyle of margin and weighing opportunity costs and tough prioritization. My husband is good to remind me that fruitfulness and productivity are often not the same thing. 

Maybe this year is one dedicated to rest for you. Maybe it's one of new opportunities and exciting projects. Maybe it's one of dealing with grief and debilitating transition. Our lives change but they're tenderly held by a God who doesn't. 

Whatever this next year holds, my hope for all of us is that God meets us right where we are to custom-fit each of us with exactly the kind of rest and renewal our bodies, minds and souls need, to fill us up so we can eventually pour our lives out in service to those around us. 


And now a New Year's Prayer for all of us:

May your 2013 be one of wisdom and encouragement. Say "no" to that which is not fruitful. Say "yes" to fresh possibilities and brave new paths. Rest when you need it. Work when you have to. Be encouraged that all work is sacred, whether you're at home wiping bottoms or in an office filing papers. Accept the season in which you live, glamourous or not. Know that it's divinely appointed and therefore beautiful, even if it's a mess. If you feel invisible and unimportant, know that it's a lie. God sees you and keeps track of every last hair on your head. You matter and he loves you more than you can possibly comprehend. If you belong to him, you're royalty. Realize that God sees neediness and dependence as virtues, not disabilities. May his grace give you new eyes to see that He is strongest when you are weak. Amen.


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