Life is Funny

I walk along the coast, son at my side gathering rocks, shells, and feathers into a bucket. We weave in and out of the shallow waves, toes sinking in the sand. He stays close by my side, enjoying the water but not quite trusting it either.

img_20150818_093735.jpg

20150817_173054.jpegThis is how he will remember childhood–summer days at the lake or beside the ocean. The salty, tangy smell of water will remind and take him back to the sand and waves where he adventured from the time he could first walk.

untitled2

img_20160821_221843.jpgHow strange it seems that what will someday call my son to remember and reminisce remains a novelty to me. My childhood was red barns and cornfields, gravel roads and barn kittens. Though I love New England, My heart belongs to the Midwest prairie–and yet that is a place my son will barely know.

11888606_10153051917861517_2367611223289476440_o

img_20150830_100621.jpgThe Midwest will be a place he goes every once and a while to visit grandparents and family. He will hear me talk about it and perhaps he will always say “ya” like his Midwest momma–but it will probably never be a place he really knows or loves.

Life is a funny thing–the way it twists and turns and you never quite know for sure where you’ll end up. Every time I ride the train into Boston or watch the sun set over the water, I wonder how I got here. When we ride our bikes into the heart of our quaint New England town–past maple trees and shimmering lake, colonial homes and old, old, old cemeteries–I am struck by the foreign strangeness of it all.

DSC_0251And yet this place is becoming familiar too. After nearly nine years, Massachusetts is as much home to me as Missouri ever was. I’ve come to love the cities and beaches, the summers spent camping in Vermont or eating at all our favorite burger stands. I anticipate the gorgeous falls wading through colorful leaves, sipping apple cider, and chasing the sun through the last days of warmth before we descend into these unforgivable winters.

DSC_0530DSC_0527This is where my son was born, where I brought him home brand new and where I’ve learned to be his mother. This is where I’ve grown in love for my husband over the years–where we’ve gotten to know each other and learned to live life side by side through all the good and bad. This is where I’ve grown as a woman–from the girl I was when I moved here at 22, fresh out of college and newlywed.

This place has changed me, grown me, become a part of me. New England lives in my heart now. And though I’m still surprised every single summer to find myself standing beside the ocean, how thankful I am for all the unpredictable places life takes us and for the beautiful adventure this life in New England is.

 

Memory

The summer air is tangible, thick,  heavy on my skin. Humidity hangs visibly in the hazy air.

The wind is blowing; it never stops blowing here. There is a restlessness in this place–a constant motion and sound cutting through the trees, bowing the prairie grass gently from side to side.

DSC_0047

Everything seems bigger than me–the grass to my waist, the scruffy trees I climb barefoot and brown, the sky stretching out in ocean spans above the endless rolling farmland. I disappear into the cornfield, feeling smaller still with prickly stalks over my head pressing in around me.

I find a dusty bare spot in the field–a circle of dirt where the tractor turned and no seed was planted. I can smell the corn, sweet and tangy. Everything smells green here–did you know green is a smell? I can remember it–the green–the smell of green grass, green crops, green trees. Everything was green and brown and blue— the sky, the dirt, the oceans of prairie grass swaying in that humid Midwest wind.

My bare feet are brown and dusty, callused as leather and as good on gravel as any pair of shoes. You don’t need shoes here–you can climb the trees better without them–toes moving confidently against scratchy bark and branch.

I was a tomboy then. A little bit wild. Scrappy. A girl… not a wife, not a mother. A wildflower and a dreamer making plans to leave and go somewhere bigger. I did not know then how hard it might be to find a place bigger than a Midwest summer–bigger than that sky or those swaying fields of crop.

DSC_1076 crop

I left. I married. I became a mother. I saw the worlds I dreamt of under apple trees and night sky.

It’s good. I’m happy. I’m proud.

But I’d give almost anything for one more day under the Missouri sun–barefoot, brown, laying in a cornfield watching the clouds roll by. I’d lay there til the stars came out. I’d watch the fireflies dance in diamond bands across the still-hot night air. I’d listen to the peepers and crickets sing their song in chorus with that ever-moving breeze. I’d hold on to the smell of green–breathing a little deeper and tucking away that Midwest magic in the pockets of my heart and soul. I’d whisper to my tomboy heart, “You’ll need these someday so hold on.”

Because Love

I’m sitting at my desk enjoying the sunshine after several days of snow and seemingly endless winter gray. My view out the window–icicles and snow mounded up in heaps on the roof.

img_20170213_122759.jpg

I live here because of Darren–that’s the truth. I love sunshine, and bare feet, and warm weather. I know you’re not supposed to hate stuff but you guys, I hate winter. So why do I live in a place that’s winter for six months out of the year? Because of a boy.

Darren is a New Englander inside and out and I’m pretty sure the one thing I will never persuade him to do is move away from the motherland. He’s fairly certain he’s already living in a foreign country having left the walls of Maine–so you see what I’m working with.

So if Darren’s in New England, I’m in New England. I love him and he’s worth it even for the cold–which is saying something significant and profound, trust me.

So you heard the Pats won the super bowl, right? Right. Darren wanted you to know. So let me you tell you this fine Valentines week just exactly what true love looks like, okay?

img_20170207_112343573.jpgimg_20170207_091752236.jpg

This is at the Pats victory parade in Boston. It was sleeting and snowing AND raining because, hello, New England, remember? That is me with my eye makeup washing off in said weather. And you can see in the background how totally delighted Roman was to be there. Darren is smiling. Of course he’s smiling.

img_20170207_102851554.jpg

When you need an umbrella because it’s raining but you also have to keep shaking the snow off your umbrella so it won’t collapse…just no. Also, I’m pregnant so I have rights, people 😉

After my legs were numb and I had sung my baby asleep under an umbrella in a backpack carrier surrounded by a mob of loud, intoxicated Pats fans–Darren says, “Wow, we were 15 feet from Tom Brady’s face–that was so worth it!” And herein is love–I did not punch him in the face, ya’ll, not even once.

I walked back to the train in the apocalypse of New England weather and rode the train…stop…this is the train —->

img_20170207_095704806.jpg

Sooooo….many….drunk…Pats fans….in one place 8]

And I walked back to my car because the parking lot at the train station was overflowing and I didn’t get a divorce…I didn’t even start the proceedings. Happy Valentines day, you guys, this is what true love looks like in New England ❤ ❤ ❤

Wild One

Letting your children grow up “wild and free” is sort of the thing right now. I see it everywhere–the arrows and floral crowns and woodland creatures that stir up ideas of adventure and nature.

I loved this concept when I was expecting my son. I decorated his room in woodsy animals and inspirational quotes by Emerson and Thoreau. I dreamt of days spent outside exploring with him at my side; we would be wild things for sure, he and I.

wild

I can’t help but smile as I tap out these words. I got a wild one all right–no extra outdoor adventures required. He stirs up danger and excitement wherever he goes, however padded and sedate the environment may be. Yesterday, he got the third cast in six weeks put on his arm (almost a year to the day from when he was getting a cast for a broken leg). What a whirlwind of life this little guy has already been at two and a half years old.

picmonkey-collage

I love him and I love the wildness that makes up who he is. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say too how much I’ve struggled with his strength, fiery temper, and will. He is tough. Tough in all the best ways and tough in ways that will wear you down and make you question why you ever decided to be a mother too.

I reached a breaking point with him not long ago. I had gotten to a place where I couldn’t control him–physically or otherwise. I was afraid to leave the house with him and every time I did, I’d recall and dread very loud, very public temper tantrums which required every ounce of my person to get him under control.

img_20161104_100339.jpg

These last two years have been humbling–even humiliating at times. I have been that mom in the grocery store with the toddler screaming and freaking out. I have felt eyes on me and judgment passed and my goodness, for being someone who doesn’t generally care what other people think of me, that has been hard. It’s hard feeling like a failure every time you leave the house for milk and apple juice but that’s been life for a good bit now.

A couple of months back my husband and I sat on the couch talking about our son. It had been a really hard day with him and I was starting to realize if we didn’t get him under control soon, he was going to be too much for me to physically manage. I’m expecting baby #2 and it isn’t reasonable to be wrangling a kicking, screaming toddler when you’ve got another baby you’re trying to protect too.

I was ready to quit and I told Darren so. I had reached a breaking point where I knew something had to change because we simply couldn’t move forward with things as they were. But how…

We aren’t parents who simply let our child do whatever he wishes; we’re quite firm with him–and that made knowing what to do next all the more frustrating. Where do you go from here when you’re already staying home with your child full-time, working with him, teaching and correcting him around the clock? It wasn’t for lack of intense investment and trying that we ended up where we were.

I can tell you how we got here though–Roman is just like us. I know someone else with a temper and will for the ages–guilty.

I never imagined the answer to all this heartache and frustration would simply (though not easily) be to change myself, rather than my son, first. It turns out that if I don’t lose my temper with him, he generally doesn’t lose his temper with me either. If I’m not grumpy and begrudging, neither is he (most of the time). While I knew I was setting an example for my son, I didn’t realize I was setting the tone for our whole home and experience together. But as I have learned to control myself–my anger, my frustration, my hurried way of getting things done at the expense of others–my son has transformed before my eyes as well. I needed to slow down and win his heart first, even at two years old.

img_20161010_193806.jpg

Though I regret the time we spent battling each other in anger, these days of learning to love and enjoy a relationship with him are certainly all the sweeter. There is redemption in this bumpy story of motherhood. There is hope when you feel hopeless. There is wisdom and direction when you are completely lost and at a loss. I know–I’ve seen the bottom and I’ve seen things turn around too. I have hated being a mother–truly hated and regretted it. But I’m learning to love motherhood now as God changes and grows me into this hard, demanding, and incredible role he’s called me to.

There are still humbling days in the grocery store but I no longer live my life as a mother with dread. I see hope and transformation and I know, by God’s grace, we’ll find our way through as he enables.

I got my wild one, all right. He’s every ounce of adventure and excitement I think I can handle but I wouldn’t change his spirit or energy for a simpler life (or fewer trips to the ER). However, if baby #2 wants to be a nice, quiet little girl–that will be fine too 😉

Winter Bloom

 

dsc_1313

“You don’t have to be blooming to be growing.”

Ruth Chou Simons (@gracelaced.com)

I read these words on instragam recently and have been turning them over in my heart and mind ever since: “You don’t have to be blooming to be growing.”

If there is a single recurring theme in what I write about it’s this: Seasons–both the seasons in nature changing slowly one into the other and the seasons of life doing the same.

img_20161123_100605.jpgI have felt lately that I’m in a rather wintry season of life–one in which there is little color or life on the surface though I know in my heart there is much going on in the roots and soul and parts of life mostly unseen. img_20161017_073043949.jpgI am a momma and a homemaker and my days are spent mostly at home doing work I know matters but presently have little to show for. Someday I will look back and see these days with better clarity and deeper appreciation; I know that.

But today I see the years stretching out before me and I know I have a long time to wait before there are blooms in the work I now do.

dsc_1356Like winter, life and growth are there, quietly beneath the surface in the roots and leaves working away silently until new life and color are revealed in spring.

dsc_1265Someday I will see the fruit of my labor; I believe that. I believe when my grown children stand around me and take off for life on their own I will be proud of how they’ve grown and blossomed and I will not regret the years spent quietly working away on blooms not yet seen.

But these are long days even if the years are short.

dsc_1368dsc_1367Winter sprinkled across our little New England home last week in frost and snow glittering in the morning light. I wrapped Roman in every layer of winter clothes a two-year old can reasonably move in and together we trekked outside to chase the light and magic at our door.

dsc_1354Winter is not my favorite but this frosty magic pulls me out into the cold every time. I couldn’t help but notice how completely nature then reflected what has been growing in my heart–this lesson about life beneath the surface when no blooms are seen.

img_20161115_151323.jpgimg_20161209_111947.jpgThe world looks dead and done but a touch of frost and morning light sets the world on fire and for a fleeting moment we see glimpses of the new life that is to come.

Winter will pass and melt away as any dark season of life does and on the other side we will see what has been happening beneath the surface all along–all the work and waiting will open into long-awaited blooms at last.

dsc_1284dsc_1272dsc_1274But for today, during winter, I have to take heart and remember this is but a season–both in life and nature.

Winter will pass and these long days of motherhood will grow and add up to something bright and blooming too. There is growth and life even if hidden quietly in the heart and soul and not yet seen in the fruit of our hands.

dsc_1324

It’s Okay To Be Young

Before I had my son I received a lot of eye rolls when I tried talking with moms about anything regarding children or parenting. Of course I didn’t know a lot about motherhood, not having been one myself yet. But I wasn’t completely ignorant either.

I grew up in a big family with older and younger siblings. I babysat a variety of children and ages over the years. I worked in nursery and was around kids quite a bit. When I did become a mother I didn’t drown from lack of knowledge and experience–I simply learned as I went (and continue to do so).

I thought the eye rolling would stop after I had my son and knew better what motherhood was like. But now I get eye rolls for only having one child. Again, there’s plenty I don’t know. But the fact that I’ve been entrusted by God with only one child so far doesn’t mean I’m completely clueless to what life might be like with more children. I grew up in a big family, remember?

I probably sound bitter by now but here’s my point: You don’t have to know everything or have to experience everything to know something and to be perfectly capable as you are.

We really love to put people down, don’t we? We might not consciously think so or admit it but it makes us feel so smart and so much better when we can roll our eyes at people younger and less experienced than we are. We love to think we have it so much harder than everyone else and no one outside of our exact experience can possibly understand what life’s like.

But we’re wrong.

I know it’s easy to do, I do it all the time myself, but we’re wrong to judge and belittle people simply because they’re young or less experienced in a certain area than we are. I have to remind myself of this now when women who aren’t moms try to sympathize with me about having a baby or a toddler. I catch myself doing the same thing moms used to do to me–thinking, “What do you know?” or “You seriously have no idea how easy your life is right now.”

But here’s the thing: I have no idea what her life is like right now. It may in fact be easy (though probably not). She may know a great deal about parenting and children from her life experience even if she isn’t a mom. Or maybe she’s totally clueless about motherhood–who cares? If she becomes a mom, she’ll learn as she goes like the rest of us do after we realize we’ve brought a child into the world and have no idea what to do with them.

1 Timothy 4:12 says:

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” ESV

Not only should you not worry about what people think of you for being young and inexperienced, but you, young and inexperienced as you are, should be the ones setting an example in the way you speak and behave.

You are never too young to know and do what’s right.

You’re an adult and you’re old enough to behave like an adult. I married at 22 just two months after I graduated from college–and I don’t regret it. I’ve already had the fun of spending eight years with my husband and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. In my 20s I finished school, married, moved across the country, worked several different jobs, bought two houses, traveled all over, and had a baby. Yes, I was young–but not for one second do I regret jumping into life and beginning to build all the memories and relationships I have today.

Don’t let people discourage you from getting started on the big things that matter to you–you’ll learn as you go and you’re ready to start.

It’s vital we listen to and learn from those ahead of us who know more and know better. But it’s also vital that we aren’t afraid of our own age and inexperience. After all, if you are inexperienced the only way to fix that is by going out and doing the thing you right now know little about. The more you do the more you’ll know.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but…”

Let’s take those words to heart and do great things both while we’re young and as we grow. And let’s respect those who are behind us in age and experience by taking them seriously and helping them along rather than putting them down for being where we all once were.

End rant ❤

Faith & Depression

511b9ab3fecdd8df7c88d34afe27c356.jpg

Depression is a rather taboo topic among Christians. After all, Christians shouldn’t struggle with darkness when backed by all the hope and joy of knowing God, right?

Well…

If I’ve learned anything about myself as an adult, it’s that I feel everything deeply and this leads to highs and lows. I used to believe when I felt good that the high would last forever. Life was all worked out, everything was better now, and I’d never again descend into that ridiculous, suffocating darkness. Somehow I believed the same thing about the darkness–it was forever–nothing would ever change or get better, my life was a mess and there was nothing I could do about it. The end.

Nothing Lasts Forever

Eventually though, I caught onto the pattern, the ebb and flow of these all or nothing feelings. I started to understand that life is a mess of good days and feelings mingled with hard times and broken hearts. Outside of eternity, we are trapped in time and the changes time inevitably brings.

C.S. Lewis says it better in The Screwtape Letters:

“Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation? Humans are amphibians–half spirit and half animal. . . . As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation–the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty.”

Simply understanding that the darkest days would not last forever was a game changer for me. I was able to ride out the emotion without feeling totally hopeless. I learned to acknowledge that life ebbs and flows and however bleak things may look today, they will surely change tomorrow or soon after. I learned not to lose heart–and that made all difference.

But this wasn’t enough. It helped knowing the hard times would pass but I still felt guilty for even having such dark feelings. Surely as a Christian I should handle life better and never allow myself to get so down in the first place.

It’s Okay to Struggle

Here, the Psalms helped tremendously. One Psalm is filled with praise and glory and the next the Psalmist decries all the heartache and hopelessness surrounding him. King David, a man who clearly loved the Lord and sought to walk with God did not hesitate to show fluctuating emotions.

Ronald Horton in Mood Tides states:

“An imperturbable evenness of spirits is not laid down as a norm in Scripture. Personal gains are occasions for thankful rejoicing. Personal losses are promptings to soul-searching and spiritual attentiveness. They are occasions for God to show His character in bringing something good from them and in the process mature our character as well. How else might we come to know beauty from ashes, honey in the rock, streams in the desert, a door of hope in the valley of Achor, lives revitalized and refined?”

Some of the lowest times in my life have led to the deepest reflection and strongest growth. Both struggle and blessing help my faith, but admittedly, I am more inclined to seek out God and his truth when my heart is hurting than when all is going well and I’m feeling self-sufficient. I’m learning to use the times when I struggle as opportunities to think, reflect, and grow rather than sulk.

Do What’s Right

Though it may not be wrong to feel down, it is wrong to sulk, complain, and otherwise behave in a way that doesn’t bring honor to Christ. However we may feel it’s essential we continue to do what’s right. You can acknowledge that you don’t feel happy or joyful while still doing what is right and good.

Trust that doing the right thing is always the right thing even if your feelings don’t line up with your current behavior. Acknowledging and riding out feelings doesn’t give us a free pass to behave unkindly or to spread gloom and discouragement like confetti. Our actions must be in line with our faith even when our feelings are miles away from joy and comfort. We must always choose to do what’s right regardless of how we feel (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

 

I hope this is a help to you if ever you find yourself struggling with darkness or depression. You are not alone, Christian or otherwise, trust me on that. If you would like to reach out, feel free to get in touch in the comments section below.

We Forget.

1ee6a8bc7ffd4e8b50837be27520cd9a.jpg

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1 ESV

I was glancing through my journal when I came across an entry from October 2014. This was a difficult time in life. I’d had a baby a few months prior and was going through a time of discouragement and loneliness.

The entry listed several different things I wished were different at the time and ended with the words “I wish, I wish, I wish” followed by the passage below I had read that morning:

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests. Now I know the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Psalm 20:1-6 NIV

As I re-read the list of “I wishes” today, I was moved by how every single one of them–seven total–have been answered and allowed. These weren’t mere “wishes” but heart cries to my Abba Father and now I look back and see how God’s word did not fail in the promise to hear and answer my prayers.

While I was aware that life is tremendously different and miles easier than it was those two years ago, I hadn’t fully realized just how specifically and completely my prayers had been answered. I needed this reminder both to stand in awe of the God who does indeed answer prayer but also to remember to give thanks for all God has already done and not to focus only on what I would like to see happen next.

I’ve had some things pressing on my heart lately–things I worry about and have a hard time handing over to God. How good it was to be reminded that God is completely trustworthy with all my heart’s desires and disappointments.

d0abf7f2082bca51738dbd356d15dcb9.jpg

I needed to be reminded too that last time I had to walk through the valley first. I had to trust when my heart was hurting and I couldn’t see what was next or imagine how some of those prayers could possibly be answered. Several of the things on my heart two years ago have only recently changed and been supplied–but they have changed–and that’s all I needed today to face tomorrow with hope and confidence.

Today, I read again in Psalms (before discovering the journal entry) and marked both the passages this post opens and ends with; how fitting they are now in light of all I’ve been reminded of today.

For you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10 ESV

We can trust God–totally, completely, with all our heart for all our lives. Test him and see.

November.

Autumn dazzles and keeps us ever looking up, up, up at orange and red and golden leaves set aflame against New England’s cobalt skies. We rode our bikes into town the other day and soaked up the magic of crunching leaves and the whole world smelling like a big cup of hot tea.

img_20161018_152230.jpg

My son, two years old, stood in wonder beneath maple trees and watched as still and quiet as I’ve ever seen him as the leaves came raining down in a sharp breeze.

img_20161018_150320983.jpg

img_20161010_185711.jpg

This is the time of year when my wandering heart find its way home after hot summer days spent away camping and traveling and chasing the sun while she’s ours.

img_20141102_123741

Today I sit with my second cup of hot coffee and enjoy the smell of the house filled with dinner simmering on the stovetop. Tonight we’ll light a fire and gather around for a few quiet moments as a family before we slip to bed and start again tomorrow.

img_20161025_185336.jpg

I used to dread this time of year because it means a long, cold winter is soon upon us. But this time around I’m actually grateful for the cold giving me a reason to spend some slower, quieter days at home with my people.

Summer will come again and we will go outside and travel and play and chase all those glorious golden rays. But for now, for today, I’m happy right here with my hot cup of coffee and the smell of dinner on the stovetop.

Happy November 🙂

Reconnect

There are fun, easy seasons of marriage and there are times that frustrate and wear you down. I don’t talk about my marriage much here because my closest relationship isn’t something I want on display or up for discussion. I will say though that we’ve had some tiring years full of short nights and long days packed beyond every bit of margin. Don’t ever try to cram like ten years of life into one, okay? Okay.

But after all of that, I have to say how good and how sweet the last nine months have been getting to reconnect with the man I loved all along but didn’t get to see much there for a while.

He’s a total gem this one and I love him.

img_20160921_151823.jpg

The last couple of years taught me how to fight for and hold onto what I want. The last nine months taught us how to slow down and see each other again. And that has been such a gift.

I’m old enough now to see some of my friends’ marriages crumbling –and that stings. We were all in love once and excited about the people we married when we said “I do” five or ten or fifteen years ago. But a lot can change in ten years; a lot can change in one.

I used to think Darren and I would always feel the same way about each other as we did when we met and married–and I hope we do. But I’ve learned that loving someone once doesn’t mean it will always be easy to love each other faithfully for a lifetime. Life is hard. Marriage is hard. And when we’re thrown against the rocks in life our spouse is often the one who bears the brunt of it privately.

img_20160917_174155.jpg

How thankful I am for a good and loving man to walk through life with. He is my best friend and the one person I most want to be with. I no longer take that for granted or assume our relationship will always be this way. I know how hard we sometimes have to fight for the things we most want but fail to see.

If you’re in a relationship then make, take, and create the time you need for each other. It’s very difficult to build a life together when you’re always apart, physically or mentally. Marriage isn’t something we get to coast through or take in like a bystander. We either build up or tear down our marriages every single day. Make time for the people who mean the most and keep on building each other up every single day with your time, your actions, and your words ❤ ❤