A Legacy of Love

I’m at the stage of life where you drink all the coffees and read all the parenting books. Parenting books are great except they all say different stuff.

Lately, instead of reading all the books, I’ve been watching all the parents. Again, every family is different but I’ve noticed something: The families I admire the most and see the most hope and happiness in are the ones brimming with love. They may have different rules, live in different cultures, go to different types of churches, educate their children differently—on and on. But they have love in common.

So what is love, exactly, beyond a feeling or a nice word?

I opened my Bible to the “love chapter”— 1 Corinthians 13 — and read through the detailed description for a better idea. After explaining how you can do everything else right and have all the ability in the world but if you don’t have love, it will count for nothing, Paul goes on to detail what love is action by action.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

As for prophesies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (italics mine). 1 Cor. 13

Just about every word in this passage convicts me. When I look at our home and my mothering in particular, I see how poorly I live out the actions of love in our family. This is not meant to heap on mom guilt when it’s already so easy to feel like we’re failing and can’t keep up with all that’s required of us. But it does give me pause to think over how often I’m patient or kind with the people I’m with the most.

20626962_10154761931351517_5291673004939242159_oAfter praying over this passage and asking God to specifically help me live out love in my home, I noticed all the more how often love is the last place I go with my husband and children.

When love asks me to be patient, I am so often impatient with the dawdling and explanations of my three-year old.

When love asks me to be kind, I catch myself being sharp in moments of frustration and fatigue.

When love says not to envy or boast, I find myself scrolling through social media wondering why everyone else is doing a better job and having more success than me.

When love is not rude, I’m biting with my words and attitude toward my husband and kids after a long or disappointing day.

Love doesn’t insist on its own way but how often do I, either openly or overtly through quiet manipulation?

Love bears, believes, hopes, endures and never ends. It’s as if Paul is saying, if you just do first what love requires of you, you will later see the fruit in that love never ending in your heart and home.

All of this challenged me, as I said. But what really caught my attention was the latter part of the passage where Paul talks about all these other impressive things eventually passing away—the knowledge and wisdom of the day (uh parenting books for instance ūüėČ )—these things are only limited, partial knowledge that will eventually fade in light of the full knowledge of eternity. They’re helpful, but they’re not necessarily the most important thing.

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What will last though, is love—the greatest of all these things. Greater than knowledge, greater than ability, love will be the lasting legacy.

I want to be careful not to rip the passage out of context and away from Paul’s intended purpose but I thought what he said about thinking like a child was so helpful too because I forget sometimes that my three-year old is just that, three years old—like he’s been alive for only three years and sometimes I expect so much of him. Perfect, immediate obedience. A level of calm and self-control that probably no three-year old boy has ever had. Understanding of big concepts and words that are still quite new to him—respect, responsibility, consequences.

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Yes, these are things he needs to know and learn but he’s a child—he speaks, thinks, reasons, and acts like a child because he is one. Eventually, like Paul, he’ll become a man and give up childish ways. But until then, what he needs is love coupled with truth and correction.¬†

So what does this look like? It’s patience with a little boy’s energy and learning curb, it’s kindness and gentleness when I’m prone to lose my temper and ere on severity. It’s words that build up and instruct when I’m tempted to be sarcastic and rude. It’s being steady and self-controlled when I’m prone to react in the moment and let my emotion and frustration rule. It’s bearing, believing, hoping, and enduring whatever life may bring to our home and family because if we do—love never fails. Love wins. Love brings the child in his childish ways into the man who puts childish ways behind him. All the rules and frustration in the world can’t produce that and all the other knowledge I might gain along the way is partial and fleeting in light of love and the eternal imprint love leaves on a heart, home, and family.

The greatest of these is love. I see it in the families and people I look up to and I see it laid out so clearly in Scripture—love—above all method and knowledge, let our homes be built on love for this is the one thing that will not fail in the hearts of our children and families.

Baby Girl’s Wildflower Nursery

1495046273730I’ve been horrible about sharing photos of our house remodel– mostly because there are still things throughout the house I would like to finish before sharing pictures. But we did finally 100% finish a room with baby girl on the way¬†so I thought I’d share some photos of her sweet little wildflower nursery ‚̧

IMG_20170513_071931_233IMG_20170513_071903_940Prepping the room with fresh paint and clean carpet (this was Roman’s room before so it needed some love after him ūüėČ ).

IMG_20170513_071508_774Eight months pregnant and painting ūüôā I’ve felt very relaxed about this baby until recently but something about realizing she’ll be here in less than two months has me hustling and acting like a crazy person trying to get everything ready.

IMG_20170521_170933_614IMG_20170521_164557_037IMG_20170521_165211_326IMG_20170522_070619_198This has always been my favorite room in the house with all its natural light and views of the field across the way. It was the perfect spot to rock Roman asleep and now I look forward to sitting in that same sunny corner rocking my baby girl and introducing her to this lovely wildflower world.

IMG_20170521_164310_118IMG_20170521_170739_277Her¬†first toy– Roman’s was a little white cat from the same company ‚̧20170519_073532A closet full of tiny, girly clothes ‚̧IMG_20170521_164911_130IMG_20170522_070835_055IMG_20170521_165034_047I pinned some of the art back when I was expecting Roman but before I knew if I was having a boy or a girl. It was fun going back and getting some of the stuff I’ve loved for years but had to wait for my baby girl to need ‚̧

It’s Good to Be Home

Life has been a little cray around here lately—and by lately, I mean for months. I spent most of last fall and this winter either not feeling good or trying to catch naps whenever possible thanks to pregnancy. I’m excited¬†to be expecting again so it’s fine and definitely worth it but it also feels like a chunk of my life is missing from those hazy months.

IMG_20170509_103347_440Spring rolled around and we got busy with travel, lots of company coming to visit, and all kinds of miscellaneous crazy. It’s been a fun couple of months packed full of people and places I love—but oh my word, I’m ready for some down time with my boys.

Sunday, my parents packed up and headed home after a two-week visit. We had a great time with them (and everyone else who’s come to visit over the last couple of months). But when Monday rolled around and I sat alone in my quiet house (as quiet and alone as things ever are with a two-year old running around ūüėČ ), I have to admit, it felt nice to watch the dust settle on my life for a bit. IMG_20170508_204442_403I sat down with my day planner to figure out what’s next and it was really nice to see that nothing major is on the agenda for the next few weeks. I even cancelled a couple things I had planned on doing just to free¬†up the weekends and spend a little extra time enjoying my boys before the next wave of activity hits. IMG_20170509_094322_351These next three (hopefully) quiet¬†weeks feel sacred and I’m doing my best not to add anything unnecessary to our days.

This week its felt nice just to catch up on¬†laundry, go grocery shopping,¬†cook a meal in my kitchen, and sit¬†around the table with my little family. Sometimes I get tired of the¬†routine that comes with being a wife and stay-at-home momma—the endless cycle of laundry, dishes, meals, errands, and diapers. IMG_20170508_204110_747He’s a cute little imp but trust me when I tell you, he’s a holy terror to grocery shop with ūüėÄ

But the exhaustion and busyness of the last few months have shown me how valuable and peaceful these little routines can be. When we’re frantically moving from¬†one¬†thing to the next, just trying to keep our heads above water, it’s easier to recognize and crave the value of quiet days at home with the people who matter most.

IMG_20170508_204252_318So for the next few weeks, I’m savoring the quiet and the routine. I’m enjoying the time with my boys and preparing for my baby girl. Life will change tremendously in a couple months when our daughter is born. So until then, I’m holding onto and enjoying life as it is—and not allowing guilt or¬†the American¬†obsession with busyness to distract and pull at me.

Our days are numbered and short. Our people are precious. These are the things I’m keeping in mind and wrapping my heart around today ‚̧

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 ūüôā

Talk About the Weather

I open the front door at 6:30 AM and already it’s hot outside. I tiptoe barefoot across the front porch down into our dusty, brown yard; grass crunches under my feet. This is strange for New England where all summer we’re accustomed to the reprieve of cool mornings and evenings.

I try to avoid talk about the weather; it seems clich√© and so remarkably dull to say in winter, “it’s so cold!”—as if we’re astonished that it could be cold in winter. Or in the summer, “it’s soooo hot!” when obviously, of course, it’s supposed to be hot in the summer.

But THE WEATHER is a difficult topic to avoid when the heat or cold wrap around our temperamental bodies in waves of humidity or shocking gusts of artic air. We humans can’t help ourselves, we must talk about it, must say something against this demigod—THE WEATHER.

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I sit outside in the sweltering heat.¬†My lawn chair is positioned carefully in the shade and I do a dance with the sun getting up and pulling my chair back little by little as the sun advances and eats up my shadowy reprieve. I’m trying to remember that¬†I love summer, that summer is ever so brief, that all winter long I stand dutifully at the windows willing winter to die and go away so that summer might come. I’m not going to complain, I say, because I like summer.

But it’s hot, it’s sticky, and unless I’m sitting on the front porch in a lawn chair like a hillbilly, it’s too hot to be outside. My son, barefoot and shirtless, brown as a chestnut, is unmoved by the weather. He¬†would spend every moment outside if his mother would stop complaining about the heat from her hillbilly perch. He fills buckets with water and gathers rocks; he reminds me of a busy little¬†squirrel¬†prepping for winter. He wants¬†me to come play with him, “No”,¬†I say between sips of iced coffee.¬†“Bring mommy the ball.” “Bring mommy the¬†truck.” “Mommy is melting; go away”, I say.

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Let me tell you what this post is supposed to be about: It’s supposed to be about living happily in our present circumstances and not wishing life away for the next best thing—in this case, fall and apple cider. But I’m afraid I may not make it to the moral of the story this time; it’s hot outside and ain’t nobody got time for that.

Something About Nothing

I pull on my coat and mud boots and march out into the rain. My camera hangs around my neck, tucked snuggly beneath my coat like a child I’m trying to keep dry and warm. I want to photograph something, anything, so off we go, my camera and I.

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Sloshing through mud and puddles, I inch up to the branches and brand new leaves¬†waking up timidly in¬†the cool spring weather. “Hold still,” I tell them as they move with the wind and rain. My camera tries to keep up and focus on what I want, ever grumbling about being out in the rain.

We have to catch spring now, I tell the camera, or it will slip away. “Ya right,” the camera grumbles quietly. I ignore and carry on.

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Chasing the Light

Yesterday¬†I woke to the most magical morning light; golden fingers dancing across autumn leaves¬†lit the day with fire.¬†I don’t like peeling out of bed in the morning—the covers are so warm and the world so cold—but I would wake with the dawn any day to catch the¬†world clothed in amber.

Today the morning sky blushed in pink—deeper and richer shades melted into each other until the sky reached a grand finale of gold.

I suppose I didn’t notice the morning sky before we moved here—the trees blocked my view or perhaps the house faced the wrong direction. But here, in this house we’ve worked so hard on for these last two years, I feel like I’m dancing in a painting as the sun comes glistening across the field and, for a moment, every leaf and blade of grass drips in glitter.

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I have thought many times over the last few weeks, that perhaps God knows me quite well and hand-picked this small corner of the earth for me. I feel as if this picture I’m dancing in were painted by him, etched out by his finger and left as a package waiting to be opened with each new day.

I grew up in the wide open prairies and often I have missed the grassy fields and endless spaces. Here, an open field sits directly across from us and I always think as I watch the light dancing through the tall grass that it looks very much like the home my heart knows. A row of maples stands at the back of the field and before their leaves gave way, they stood together in red and orange and gold. Now the leaves are gone but evergreens stand behind the¬†bare maples and oaks and make the view out my window look always a little green—green—such an important thing to my soul.

So I see God in this place—in the grassy field, and colorful maples…in the evergreens and the fog rising from the wetlands like feathery magic lacing through the trees.

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It’s not so bad waking up and facing a new day, a new challenge, or even the same monotony if you can at least start that day with the fresh, brand new morning light.

God is light and I see his fingers painting light all around me, ever reminding me that he is there—he is here—with me always.

When You’re Disappointed

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June 1st…today is the day we said we would definitely be moved into our house…only we’re not. I didn’t expect building a house would teach me so many lessons about life. One of those lessons being that no matter how hard you try, sometimes some things are just out of your hands. ¬†I say similar words to my son all the time when he’s fussing about wanting something he can’t have or throwing a fit about doing something he doesn’t want to:

“You can’t always have what you want.”

“Life doesn’t always work out as you would like.”

“Sometimes the answer is no.”

Life lessons for a 10 month old and life lessons for his much older mama too.

Today I read something on Facebook from a friend who is making a big life decision. She said she and her husband have never sought to change where they are but have chosen rather to be content in whatever place they’re in for however long they’re there. If God moves them–as he several times has–so be it, they will go. But the idea of choosing contentment over constantly seeking something more, something different, that stuck with me–especially on a day I have long counted down to and am now disappointed by.

For a lot of years now, I’ve been in control of my life. I went to school just as I had planned. Married the man I loved just as I had hoped. We bought a home. Worked. Traveled. Had a baby. Everything was moving along just as I had intended–I was in control–or so I thought. I’m pretty sure now that if anything will teach you you’re not in absolute control, it’s having construction underway and a baby at the same time ;]

This post probably sounds grumbly but honestly I don’t mean it that way. Today is a day I looked forward to for a long time and it didn’t end up as I had hoped. But I’m fine. I’m much better and more okay with the situation then I ever expected, actually. God is working in me and he’s chosen to use this silly house over and over again to teach me lessons about himself and about myself.

Sometimes life requires that you get up and do and sometimes life requires that you be still and wait; both can be hard but both are able to teach us so much we can’t learn any other way.

So today, on this rainy June 1st, I’m learning to live where I am and to be content in this place until God decides to move me. I’m not in control–thankfully, I know who is.

Thanks.

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who took the time to respond and share your thoughts with me on my last post.  I feel much better now about sharing photos of our house remodel going forward so thanks again :]

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Inspiration vs. Jealousy

If all goes as planned {and it never does}, we’re supposed to be moving into our house this summer. After years of looking for the right place, saving money, and now two years of rebuilding and remodeling–we’re finally almost there.

IMG_20150310_195322{“Um guys, this house doesn’t look super done.”}

But as I think about moving, I’ve been thinking too about how much I should share here and elsewhere on social media when it comes to the details of our new home. There’s a big part of me that wants to take lots of pictures and include people in this journey {especially those of you who’ve¬†already been following¬†the bits and pieces I’ve shared along the way}. But there’s an equal part of me that’s unsure if sharing is really the right thing to do.

Here’s why:

We’ve all heard about and dealt with the jealousy that comes with watching someone else’s life via social media. We talk about it, read articles about it, complain about it, and deal with it in our own lives–jealousy. People’s lives can look so perfect and put together on Facebook when the mess has been cropped out of the background and the right filter makes everyone look tan. You’ve done, I’ve done it, and we all kind of know everyone else is doing it too–but still, we see those pictures sometimes and think, “They get everything. My life sucks.”

I remember feeling this way on Valentine’s Day when Darren was helping our new renters move into the apartment we had just remodeled {unexpectedly, right in the middle of our house remodel} and so I didn’t get any roses or get to go out to dinner and spent that whole day feeling very, very, VERY sorry for myself. And rather than be a grownup and stay away from social media for the day, I instead scrolled through Facebook and Instagram and envied all the pictures of flowers, and date night, and all those freaking people who were so stupidly in love… ;]

So I worry that by sharing pictures of our home, people are only going to see the end product of years of work and envy us or think we get everything handed¬†to us¬†while they struggle along. People don’t see the work and stress and everything that’s gone into making this dream of ours come true–I know that because I know I look at other people’s lives and pictures the same way–I see one picture and one moment and don’t know or consider the rest of the story leading up to that one happy, enviable moment.

So, is it right to share only the pretty bits and pieces of a much bigger story and perhaps by doing so create feelings of envy along the way? I realize I can’t control how other people react–someone else’s jealousy is ultimately, their problem. But still, I don’t want to be one of those people on social media who overshares.

And then there’s privacy. My home is where I live, where my baby lives, it’s the most intimate space I inhabit. So should it then be shared publicly? Though I’ve blogged for years, I’ve felt much more private and unsure of sharing ever since Roman was born. There is something about knowing you are totally responsible for another person’s life that makes you stop and think a little bit harder about everything you do–including how much you share about them on social media. So I wonder now if it’s safe or smart to share our home in a space like this or if it’s better left off the internet and kept private just for us.

Those are the cons, but I see some pros too…

I get so much inspiration and enjoyment from seeing how and where other people live. My favorite blogs are by people who share their homes and lives and invite you in. Yes, sometimes on a bad day, I’ll see someone else’s home or life on a blog and envy them. But for the most part, I just enjoy reading stories and seeing pictures of how other people live. I’ve gotten so much inspiration for our own home by seeing the ideas of others and I would be really disappointed if¬†these people decided to stop sharing. This makes me want to share pictures of my own home and life {even if it’s just a fragment of the whole story} and invite people in {even if it’s just through a word or picture}.

So I’m asking you sincerely, what do you think? Do you think it’s¬†right to share put together pictures of our not-so-put together lives? Is it safe or smart to share a place as intimate and private as my home on the internet when I can’t control who will then know where I live? Do you like seeing other people’s homes and lives or does it just lead to envy and frustration?