Chapter Two: It’s Just a Blog

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this space over the last few months–what it is, why I’m here, do I continue, etc.

When I look back to what this blog was about in the beginning (intended to be a nature journal, essentially), I realize a lot has changed since those very first days of sharing my words and pictures.

There have been times when I had lots of readers and visitors and felt quite connected to people through blogging. And there have been times with hardly any visits, reads, or interactions. A lot of this has come down to me and my own investment in this space, I know.

After quite a long absence when my son was born, I’ve had trouble knowing how and when to pick back up over here—how to connect what this space was and now is into a coherent whole.

And as is often the case when I’m pondering and without answers, I pull in and keep quiet until I’m ready and know what I want to say. Thus the intermittent months of silence on all my social media.

I vacillate between being someone who startles people with my honesty about hard things on one hand and being deeply introverted and private on the other. I realize this sometimes leaves people not knowing where they stand with me—and leaves me not knowing what and how to share in a space like this.

So you want to know what my conclusion is after all these deep thoughts and said ponderings?

It’s just a blog. You should probably chill out.

I tend to over-think things sometimes and this blog is probably one of those cases—I’ve just been taking the whole thing way too seriously. It’s hard, because words matter to me. My words matter to me. And putting your heart and life on the page with written words can scare the fire out of you.

But…

Again, it’s just a blog. These are just blog posts and pretty pictures from one little person in one little corner of the world.

So I’ve decided to calm down and stop worrying. And instead, I’m just going to write and share pictures to my heart’s content without all the anxiety that comes with over-thinking and over-valuing every last word that comes out of my mouth.

That being said, you can expect to see me around here a lot more—like my goal is 3x a week a lot more. You may not like that, I know. You may get sick and tired of reading my words and seeing my face. And if you do, though I’d hate to see you leave, I understand if you decide to go. Kari Ann ain’t for everyone, that’s for dang sure…and that’s okay.

I’ve decided to view this space as a record and an online journal. It’s a place to hash out and write down what I’m thinking about and learning. It’s a place to rant a little and be silly. A place to share what I love and the pictures I’m taking along the way.

I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride.

And in closing, I realize many of the readers I had before are now gone and there are lots of new faces around here as well, so on Friday I’m going to re-introduce myself a little bit. This makes me feel profoundly silly, just so you know. It’s like taking selfies…not my thing looking at my own face close up. But I thought it might be helpful as we kick off with a bit of a fresh start.

And if you come back Friday and see nothing, it’s because I chickened out. So there’s that.

Until then, thanks for reading along ❤

—Kari

Edits of the Heart

Yesterday I sat here for the first time in a long time and tapped out words. I wrote a little about the last year of life and put pieces of my heart in black ink on the page. And then, as I often do, I left what I wrote looking back at me in draft form—finger hovering over “Publish” but never actually pushing the button. I wasn’t sure, so I waited and in the end I scrapped it and decided not to share those words after all.

It’s a new day, crisp with fall wrapping around us in colorful leaves, chili simmering on the stove top, and hot cups of coffee. Today I find myself here again…tapping out words. Today I’m thinking about the unspoken words of yesterday and the ways we edit hearts and thoughts before exposure to an audience. Isn’t it funny how we are? How we perhaps share vulnerable bits and pieces of our hearts and lives with others but never actually tell quite the whole story. I have spoken much truth here, I’ve never lied in this space, but I edit and backspace and sanitize those truths until I’m comfortable with them and comfortable sharing them with others.

Yesterday Roman attacked the computer because he is 1 year old and is always attacking everything. My words, my unedited words, were up on the screen and I thought he might have posted them in all his toddler shenanigans. My heart skipped a beat thinking of my thoughts and words being made public before I went back over them to pick and choose and carefully rearrange what I was trying to say. Today it just seems silly to be so afraid of my own unedited heart being laid bare but still the fear is there.

I think the over-analyzing and uncertainty is exactly what’s kept me away from this space for so long. This has been a hard season of life and one I don’t know how to share.

Do you know how it feels when you get into water too deep? I can feel the ocean floor with my tippy toes, sand moving beneath my feet but not holding me steady. I can feel the waves lapping my chin and nose, leaving just enough room to breath before I lose my footing and drown.

I’m afraid of the ocean because that’s how it feels to me when I stand in its hungry waves—like I’ll lose my footing and go under. So I don’t go in, I walk along the edge and get my feet wet, just avoiding the ocean’s grasp. But during this season of life, I fell in—sand shifting beneath my unsteady feet, waves pulling me under. I fought to hold my head above water and just not sink—not swim, just not sink.

But…but…there are so many people in my life right now who have it so much harder. So it hasn’t felt right to say anything about my own life when it’s still smooth sailing compared to the next person. And yet, it hasn’t felt right either to skip along and make things sound better than they are. So I’ve simply fallen silent instead—saying nothing over saying some half-truth or washed out version of reality.

But my heart is hungry for words. Words are always a pulsing, beating part of my soul and I can’t seem to organize my thoughts without them. When I am quiet in public, I am loud in writing my thoughts down privately. There is never silence, never an end to the words that help me think, and be, and make sense of it all. I think the public silence has been good for me; a necessary season when everything else in my life has been so loud.

Today, I’m tap, tap, tapping out my thoughts and I like the way the keys feel beneath my fingers—the way the black words look popping up against the blank white. I miss writing and communicating and I hope I find my way back now that life has begun to quiet down for a time. We will see.

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The Vulnerability to Pray

9d883252495e0bafba09370dbdbd643dNot long ago I sat in a room of people sharing prayer requests with each other and noticed something: Most every request was about someone else, not the person sharing it. This made me think, how much easier it is for us to share the needs and vulnerabilities of others than it is to share the needs and vulnerabilities of our own hearts and lives.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing a request for someone else—generally, these requests are shared sincerely with genuine concern and most people are happy to know others are praying for them in a time of need. But still, why is it so hard for us to say things about ourselves like:

“I’m struggling with…”

“I’m hurting from…”

“I need help with…”

“Please pray for me.”

Prayer is a humbling thing. Prayer is an acknowledgement of need for help from a power higher than us. When I pray, I confess that I can’t…I can’t for myself, I can’t for those I’m concerned about. Prayer acknowledges that only God can and so we turn our hearts to him in prayer asking that he would.

So admitting to others what I can’t do, can’t control—this is a humbling thing. How much easier it is to ask for prayer on behalf of someone else I know who’s hurting or in need. How much safer to keep my own needs and vulnerabilities to myself.

And yet, what power there is in prayer and in humbling ourselves enough to pray with sincerity and vulnerability. How much better could I know and pray for my friends and family if they were willing to say, “I’m struggling with…” “I need help with…”.

I’m not a fan of vulnerability. No, I would rather feel safe. I would rather take my own needs and concerns directly to God and leave everyone else out. Thankfully, I do have direct access to pray but that’s not how God intended the church to work exclusively.

God meant for us to need and help each other. He meant for us to know each other beyond the surface, down to the very heart and soul. But if we are too proud to be open and honest with each other we will never know or understand the depth of help and support we could truly offer in life and in prayer. I can’t help with a need I don’t know about or pray for a concern that’s never been shared. The more we keep to ourselves, the less we can offer in prayerful support.

This is a hard lesson for me. I would like to pretend it’s not something I need to work on. But the truth is, 90% of the time when asked how I’m doing, I just say, “fine”—whether that’s the truth or not. It’s easier, it’s safer…but it’s not the way God meant for me to relate to others.

I had a close friend ask me recently what the best and worst thing is in my life right now—simple questions that lead to deep answers about what brings me the most joy and most heartache in my life right now. She answered the same two questions and I learned a lot about what she’s going through and how I can better pray for the needs of her heart right now. This again got me thinking about how important honesty and transparency are if we truly want to know and help each other beyond the surface. How thankful I am for friends who see through my cheerful “I’m fine” and “good” when asked how I’m doing and push me towards truth and honesty.

Though it’s scary, it’s also so very good to be known. I feel the most loved by the people who know me best…the people who have seen me at my worst and know the things about my heart I would share with no one else. Really, there is much safety in vulnerability for here we find out who we can trust and are most loved by.

So don’t be afraid to humble yourself and tell the truth about the needs in your life. Though it’s scary, you will likely find many around you are happy to pray and help as best they can if only you are willing to let them in.

Motherhood is Good

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There are two things you hear a lot when people find out you’re pregnant: “Kids are so much fun!” and “Your life is about to change” (dunn, dunn, dunnnnn). Both are true but the second probably doesn’t need to be said. I haven’t met anyone yet expecting a child who doesn’t already know–deeply, profoundly–that their life is about to change.

I remember standing in the bathroom early that Saturday morning waiting for the words “Pregnant” or “Not Pregnant” to look back at me from that life altering little stick. I bought the fancy pants test just to be sure and it estimated how many weeks I had been pregnant too…3+ it said…so not only was I pregnant, I had been pregnant for nearly a month without realizing it at all. No one needed to knock on the bathroom door at that early weekend hour and tell me life was about to change, maybe remind me how to breathe, tell me it’s going to be ok, but the rest I already knew.

I snuck back in our bedroom all cool and casual-like, no big deal just a baby on board. Darren was still asleep so I sat the test on my nightstand and slipped back under the covers. When Darren got up I moved the test to his pillow and waited for him to come back. His face, his words, I’ll never forget. We were both happy. We wanted this. We spent the rest of the morning talking fast and excited about this amazing thing happening right before us.

Even with our joy and desire for this baby, there was still an almost suffocating sense of, “are we really doing this?” The feeling of no going back and the absolute permanence of change in our lives was undeniable. Even if we lost the baby, just having been pregnant and falling in love with a baby we wanted would leave us changed. There was simply no way to go back to who we were before that moment. And thankfully, no such loss happened. On a hot, sticky, middle of the summer day our long-anticipated baby boy was born. And certainly, after meeting him and holding him in our arms, a new level of change occurred and we knew again that no matter what happened from there, we would never be the people we were before that moment.

I used to be scared of this change; sometimes I still am. I am finding with each step into motherhood that the ominous warnings remain. Just wait, they say…

Until he teeths

Crawls

Walks

And a million other stepping-stones along the way.

And though I’m sure they don’t really mean it this way, I sometimes hear in each warning…

It gets harder

It gets worse

You’ll never be good enough

But though I am only a little over six months into this parenting journey and certainly realize how very much I have yet to learn, I want to say something:

Motherhood is good.

Yes, it’s hard.

Yes, it’s exhausting.

Yes, sometimes I lose my temper, get frustrated, overwhelmed, sometimes I cry, feel lonely.

But there are so many other times when my heart is full to overflowing. Truly, I have never been so happy or at peace in my whole life. I love being a mom. And I love being a mom even when it’s hard. A week ago I was up all night with a crying baby. I held him, paced his nursery floor, cried, prayed…nothing changed. I took him to the doctor the next morning and found out he had an ear infection. That was a hard night followed by a hard day but somehow it was also incredibly fulfilling. Do I like staying up all night with a crying baby? No. But I do love being a mother who can hold and comfort her child when he’s hurting.

I didn’t realize before I become a mother that somehow all those hard times would actually be some of the most beautiful opportunities to enter in to loving another person and growing as a person myself. I didn’t know how satisfying it would be. I was afraid of the warnings and the change because I didn’t have the knowledge of just how oddly good those hard times can be. I’m learning not to be afraid of the “just wait” and the “it gets harder.” I’m learning that even though motherhood is hard, the hard parts are also some of the best parts and there’s nothing to dread. I wouldn’t exchange that night of pacing his nursery floor for anything; not because I’m a martyr but because I got hold to him and love him and be his mother.

Sometimes I think people (probably unintentionally) make motherhood sound too hard, almost daunting. Yes, of course it’s hard, but I wish we heard more about how wonderful it is. I mean, truly wonderful. Satisfying. Fulfilling. Beautiful. Joyful. Magical. Heart so full of love its going to explode.

You might be surprised by just how easy motherhood is in so many ways :]

Learning to Fly

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A momma bird decided to build her nest and raise her flock of five fuzzy birds in the rafters of our new house. We check in on them each time we’re at the house and have watched them progress from eggs, to little fuzz balls curled up asleep, to little fuzz balls peaking curiously over the nest and showing off their big yellow beaks. I about die from the cuteness and hope our own baby bird has a fuzzy head of hair like theirs.

Darren is holding off siding that part of the house until the baby birds have left the nest because he doesn’t want to hurt them. His heart is as deep and wide as the sea and I love the glimpses I get of the father he will be in the thoughtfulness he has for all living things.

darrenWhen Darren isn’t melting my heart caring for baby birds, he is terrifying me doing guy stuff like this—wiring the house by standing on a chair…on two planks…over the stairway…after he ripped two fingers open doing other such nonsense. He is excellent training for a man child.

card{Darren’s first Father’s Day card—it perfectly describes everything I love about him}

Speaking of baby birds, ours is almost here–we’re three weeks out from game day, or so we hope.

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This is my belly; it’s gigantic. I don’t know how many weeks along I was in this picture and I don’t think it really matters anymore. The other day an old man in the grocery store commented on my belly and wanted to know when I’m due. I told him next month and he said, “Oh, you’re not big enough to have a baby next month.” Well done old man, well done; there’s a reason you’ve lived so long ;]

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This is baby’s spot in our room until we move and have a nursery. I have a little canopied area set up by our bed with his bassinette—I call it his “baby throne” because that’s what it looks like to me with the canopy and lights and fanfare :]

What a bunch of rambling this post is; sorry. I leave you with some favorite lines from Victor Hugo:

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.”

As I think about having this baby in the next few weeks, I often recount these lines and think I know how the birds feel when they must leap from the nest and find their wings. I hope I can fly.

Bump.

PicMonkey CollageBack when I thought I had a bump at 18 weeks and couldn’t wait to document it…and my actual bump at 31 weeks :]

The baby gave me a fright today. I always feel him moving, all the time, every day. Then this morning after I had gotten ready for work and was ready to leave I noticed I hadn’t felt him at all since I got up. I rubbed my belly trying to rouse and wake him and told myself not to worry.

Darren came over and told me how beautiful he thinks my bump is and I told him I couldn’t feel the baby moving. Of course it’s nothing, we agreed; he’d start bouncing around as soon as I ate breakfast I said. So I ate and I sat in the car riding to work with my hands resting on my belly waiting for those reassuring little kicks and flutters. Nothing.

It’s such a small thing, all those little movements, I hardly even think about it sometimes. But it feels like I can’t move or breathe when he is still and I can’t feel his life inside of me. Darren and I sat silently in the car the whole way to work and I fought back tears when Darren asked me again if I could feel him yet and the answer was still no. I asked God to watch over our baby and begged that I could please feel him move, that I could know he’s still okay.

And then there was a little flutter. A little push here and a strong kick there. Our lazy little guy woke up and his movement set our hearts at peace again.

Today I’m celebrating my bump and the bundle of life that moves and grows within. So many people I love have lost babies, babies they dearly loved and wanted. Being pregnant is both one of the most exciting and most terrifying things I have ever done and I don’t ever want to take for granted a single flutter or kick of our little son; sometimes that’s all you get, sometimes that’s all the life you ever get to know. I can’t wait to hold him on the outside but for now I’m holding him close on the inside–cherishing his life and movement and the incredible peace and joy he brings with every one of his little ninja moves.

He is worth it, you know. Giving life is always worth it.

On Becoming a Mother: It’s Okay to Change

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The thing that scares me the most about having a baby is the idea of change. There are things about my life I love and don’t want to change—and it scares me to think that they will.

The other day I thought about writing myself a letter as a way of looking back after the baby is born and reminding myself of who I was before I became a mom. I wanted to remind myself of who I am and what I value. I was afraid of getting swallowed up in motherhood and losing myself completely. I wanted that letter to remind me who I was so I could make sure I hadn’t changed.

But I didn’t write that letter.

Because I realized instead that it’s okay to change.

Even though I don’t want to lose myself when I become a mother, I also don’t want to fight and resist the changes that can and should be born in me during this time.

Pregnancy is changing me; it’s changing my heart and my soul and my body—and that’s okay. How could I possibly bring another life into this world—through my own body—without being transformed in the process?

What I realized when I thought about writing that letter is this:

Change is okay.

Change is good.

Change is not something to fight or resist or run away from.

All the best things that have happened in my life have required that change be born in me. If I were to hold onto who I am, to who I was—I would still be a child, immature and incapable. Change moves me forward and helps me grow into who I am able to be.

So yes, becoming a mother still scares me and I still wonder in what ways I will be different on the other side of this journey. I still don’t want to lose myself completely along the way. But I’m not afraid to change. I’m not afraid to grow. I’m ready to let pregnancy and motherhood birth new life not only in the child I’m carrying, but also in me—in my own soul and spirit as it stretches, grows, and changes right along with my body.

There is this story in the Bible, a parable used to illustrate a bigger idea, about how a seed must be buried, torn open, and essentially—die—before new life can sprout up out of that seed {John 12:24}. The seed is useless if it stays the same, if it doesn’t give itself up and allow new life to spring from it. And I think right now I’m that seed. New life can only be born from me if I’m willing to be buried, torn open, and die to myself a little bit. It sounds really bad for the seed, but think of the blossoms and the life that springs from that giving up and giving out of oneself. It’s really quite beautiful and spiritual.

So it’s true—I will not be the girl I am today when I reach the other side of this journey. I will be a mother. I will have brought life into this world. New life will have been born in me. And everything will be different after that.

And that’s okay.

Time.

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I have thought a lot about time lately, mostly because it always feels like it’s getting away from me. I’m young and if I get to live a full life, I have plenty of time left. I know that and yet I feel a little panicked every time I look at what day or month it is and wonder how we got here so quickly. Summer, for instance, is over. Um, not okay with me, not that anybody asked but seriously, what the heck? I thought summer just started and all of a sudden everyone I know is posting back-to-school pictures of their kids on Facebook. A little girl I used to babysit put a picture up today of her first day in college…so now I feel old and summer is still over. Awesome.

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I keep thinking its July and then I look at my day planner and realize for the 19th time now that it’s August and that August is fast melting into September. Normally I rush through summer trying to get to fall. I love the cooler weather, the pumpkin lattes, the boots and sweaters. But this year I just can’t get there mentally. I want time to stand still for a moment so I can catch my breath and get my head around it.

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Darren gave me a watch for my birthday last year; I had pointed it out to him in a catalog and then on my birthday he took me to the jewelry counter where the lady working pulled it out and gave it to me all wrapped up and ready for my birthday. I squealed; I do that when I’m happy. I’ve worn that watch a lot this year, especially in Europe when we didn’t have our cell phones to check the time and we were always keeping track of the minutes and the train schedule. I look at it in church when I’m thinking about lunch instead of the sermon and I look at it a lot at work…waiting, waiting for the minutes to tick-tock past five.

It feels strange to me to wear time on my arm like that, to watch the thin little second hand tick along beat by beat as the seconds of my life pass on and on. It feels a little bit like taking my pulse or listening to the beating and rhythm of my heart. Tick tock. Tick tock. It terrifies me, watching my life go by like that.

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Right now time feels like water swirling down the drain and I’m caught and drowning in the waves. I keep wondering what this is all about; why do I feel like time is marching over me instead of tick-tocking along with me? Why am I drowning?

We are busy for sure. This morning on the way to work Darren and I kept listing off things we need to get done. I finally pulled out a notebook and starting writing things down and the list ended up being two pages long. We work all day, we run errands, we eat quickly and late, we try to get a few things done around the house, we watch a little TV and then collapse in bed before we have to get up and do it all again. We run and run but somehow I feel in our haste that I’m running out of time…or at least misusing the time I’ve been given. It nags me, this anxiousness about what I’m doing with what I’ve been given and what I should be doing better instead.

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This post has no resolution really, because I have no answers. These are just my thoughts, my fears, the things I’m working through and trying to get a handle on.

This is time—marching, marching by.

The Hard Work of Creating

Creativity is hard work. It’s one thing to be inspired; it’s another thing entirely to be productive. I find myself lately full of ideas backed by zero action. What’s holding me back?

  • Laziness and procrastination
  • Fear of failing or being misunderstood
  • Getting bogged down by distractions
  • Making excuses about not having enough time or not having enough to say
  • Waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to start instead of just starting where I am

It’s nice to sit around thinking pretty thoughts but it’s also very nearly useless if I never actually birth those thoughts into some form of creative reality.

Sometimes the most important thing I can do is…start. I can stop thinking about what I want and start creating it. I can stop wishing things were different and change them. I can type the first word. I can take the first step. I can begin where I am with what I have.

Creativity is a hard and a beautiful thing; but it’s worth the beauty and it’s worth the work.

So let’s get started.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo

Be Like the Bird

Sometimes I’m afraid to embrace change. Even if I’m not happy with the way things are, I’m afraid a change might leave me even more unhappy so I just leave things alone instead. But change and discomfort is often the road to growth and renewal. Sometimes we have to release our iron grasp on what we have to open our hands up, empty and ready, to something different and new.

I look back at my life, at the times when I let go of one thing and took hold of another, and I see how those times of risk and change helped me grow and move forward. And I think too that even if something hadn’t worked out the way I hoped, I still would likely have regretted not taking the chance more than I would have regretted the potential failure.

Right now I find myself in a holding pattern, afraid to move, afraid to try, afraid to speak—and it isn’t like me to be so paralyzed by fear. Why am I so afraid to move forward, to change, to speak? I don’t know.

I find this blog stands before me a frightful blank canvas and I’m so cautious to put up words, to speak my heart and open my soul in this space as I once did. I’m trying to face the fear, to say the words, to put myself out here once again.

I’ve hidden behind pictures and fluff but I thank you for your patience as I find my way back to the words, to the heart and soul of this space.

“Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.” Victor Hugo