Not a Word Wasted

20180118_151546.jpgOne of the great things about technology and social media is the freedom and opportunity it gives everyone to write, share, and communicate with others. But on the other side is the overwhelming amount of words and information we must then sift through to find the “good stuff.”

The more I interact with social media, the more I feel these words rise up in my heart: Not a word wasted. Meaning, I don’t want anything I put here on my blog or anywhere else to be noise, fluff, or attention grabbing nonsense. I want what I say and the space I take up to be filled with purposeful, meaningful substance.

I feel this pull back and forth in wanting to be an actual “real” writer—between just being myself and doing my thing and feeling that there are things I should be doing and giving my time to in order to succeed. I need to build a social media presence and “brand” myself and share a certain amount of pictures and words in just the right space and way as to draw in followers and likes. I need to sale myself and what I’m doing or I’ll get lost in the myriad of others who are likewise writing and sharing and wanting to be heard.

Only, none of this social media stuff has ever sat very well with me. I like it when I like it but then I want to put my phone down and feel no pressure to post or share anything unless I’m independently moved to do so by the beauty I capture in a photo or the words I jot down after I’ve come to a realization I want to share with others.

It seems to have gotten turned around—we capture a photo for Instagram to build an audience and garner attention when really the photos we share would be better to come from such beauty and enthusiasm that we can’t help but share. The landscape so stunning, our heart so broken or full that we can’t help but overflow into the hearts and lives of others with our words and pictures. Better indeed than the turned-around situation we find ourselves in where we take a picture or scribble some words and practically bang down the door on other people’s hearts and lives in order to have our own hearts and lives seen and heard.

Lately, I’ve been writing and sharing here very consistently. It’s good practice for staying in the habit of writing and I find the more I write, the more I have to write about. It’s as if one thought leads to another and my heart opens up more and more to all the beauty and lessons around me that might be captured and shared.

But I haven’t gotten there yet with say, Instagram or Facebook. It just feels like too much work trying to keep up with it all. After all, my real, everyday life is only so sharable and interesting to others—especially when it must be summed up in an eye-popping photo complete with a succinct and engaging description (I’m looking at you, Instagram).

I don’t mean to sound like a hater. Like I said, I do like social media. I get to share and connect with lots of beautiful people only because such tools exist. It’s a really cool time to be alive and such an amazing thing to be a part of. I just don’t want to get carried away by it. I don’t want to become, as Thoreau said so far before his time, “a tool of my tools.”*

Not a word wasted.

So if you hear from me at all, I hope you hear something worth your time and attention. I hope I present to you only my authentic self and only when I’m ready and inspired to do so. Never because I felt compelled by self-centered motivation or the need to merely compete for attention with all the other voices around me. Sometimes I give a lot, sometimes hardly at all. At the end of the day, I have not deluded myself into believing you notice either way.

And if you do, perhaps you, like me at times, need to look up and away from the lives of others and invest a little more into your own. When I start to feel jealous or less-than in the world of social media, it’s typically not anyone else’s fault—it’s me, looking in all the wrong places for attention and fulfillment. And in those moments I’m reminded to keep my eyes on my own road and story. To be who I am and do what I do regardless of who notices or “follows” along. People and crowds and audiences come and go but I must live with myself forever—so there’s that.

If you have something to say worth hearing, people will probably notice and pay attention anyway. And if not, don’t sacrifice the quality of your life and words merely for the attention you might gain in doing something less than your very best in an inauthentic way.

I’m speaking to myself as much as anyone else and asking every time I go to Instagram or Facebook, “Why?” Why are you here? Why are you saying that or sharing that image? Would you do the same if absolutely no one noticed or cared? Or are you living to be seen and putting on a show for a hoped-for audience? Questions I must grapple with every single time indeed.


*The actual quote is, “Men have become tools of their tools.” Henry David Thoreau

 

When the Fire Goes Out

I’ve been in a funk lately. Perhaps it’s baby blues or the relentlessly gray weather or too many days in a row spent at home in yoga pants doing the same dishes and laundry over and over again. I find myself on my phone…while feeding the baby or with a toddler in my lap watching a show. I get bored so I instinctively start scrolling through feeds and looking through snapshots and sentences of other people’s lives.

Creeper.

I know.

I find myself comparing. I find myself looking at the numbers instead of the hearts. I find myself jealous and discouraged because my focus has landed too many times in a row on all the wrong things.

In Love Lives Here, Maria Goff talks about comparison and “keeping our eyes on our own paper,”

He [Jesus] doesn’t want us to become like each other; He wants us to be like Him. The problem is that we’re letting other people do that talking for Him. We all have something we are good at. Figure out what it is and celebrate it.

God stretches each of our lives before us like a canvas. He hands us the brushes and the paint and asks us to make our lives look like our unique version of His love. Pick your own colors, not someone else’s.

Sometimes social media is a huge encouragement and inspiration and sometimes it eats away at my insecurities until I’m convinced I have almost no value at all compared to other people’s success. We all know the pretty pictures and words we see online are just lines and chapters out of someone else’s book—not the whole story. But when we never get the whole story, it’s easy to believe the messy and unlovely parts of our own lives will never size up to Miss Inspiration over there killing it.

To combat the funk and the comparison game, I took a break from my phone. Sometimes you just need to look up and look around for a little while to get some fresh perspective.

When I was tempted to grab my phone, I picked up an old book instead. I’ve been knee-deep in parenting books of late and I was craving something a little less about how to do everything right and a little more about dreams and adventure.

I chose a book I’ve read before about an American girl in Italy. It’s a story about adventure, and love, and a little bit of intrigue. Published over a hundred years ago, the book smells and feels old in my hands as I run my fingers over the slightly raised typeset. IMG_20171115_183613_452.jpgI get lost in the romantic Italian language and descriptions of the landscape. And I remember, the last time I read this book I was in high school or college and dreaming of seeing Italy for myself someday.

After visiting Rome, Florence, Venice, Sicily and many other parts of Italy now, the story feels familiar this time around. I need not rely on my imagination so much as I can actually picture from experience the stucco houses and terraced vineyards. I’ve walked these streets and heard this musical language in person.

Why am I telling you all this? Because it reminded me that I used to dream about big things. I used to pick up old books and get lost in a story. I used to love words because they carried me to far off places and lit my heart on fire.

Lately, I’ve been far too inclined to love words only for what they can get me—likes, follows, shares…a sense of affirmation by being given a virtual thumbs up. Where’s the adventure in that? I let the fire go out and it’s no wonder I found myself in a funk.21551921_10154856780841517_2828362598542887962_o

Tonight I’m sitting in front of a fire sipping coffee and falling back in love with words and the stories they tell. Stories of love. Stories of adventure. Stories of grace and redemption.

And I’m reminded all over again, that I have a story of my own to tell. I have days spent in Paris and Rome, nearly ten years of marriage to a man I still love, the birth of two fiery little babies. I have a Midwest childhood and many a day now spent exploring the streets and nooks of Boston and Massachusetts. I have five brothers. I have one cat. I have a story all my own. And the best part of all—I’m still writing it. There are adventures yet to be had. Love yet to be shared. Words yet to be written. More cities to see.IMG_20160920_122956.jpg

If you, like me, find yourself discouraged by where you’re at, stop and make sure your eyes are where they actually need to be—on your own story. The story you’re still writing every single day with your own words, pictures, loves, adventures, and mishaps ❤

 

On Jesus and Motherhood

I open the dining room curtains to a pink dawn and crisp pre-fall morning. Espresso simmers on the stove top—admittedly the only thing that gets me out of bed some mornings. Laptop and coffee in hand, I slip away into the guest room hoping to eek out a few minutes of writing before my babies wake up.

I think about Jesus, His twelve disciples, motherhood, and social media—a mixed bag of old and new, of timeless truths, and human nature.

The world we live in today begs for attention and thrives on the affirmation of virtual likes, comments, and shares. Likely, people have always looked for this sort of approval in one medium or another regardless of the day in which they lived. But this need for notice and approval seems so very quantifiable today with actual numbers of “followers” and thumbs up to tell you just how popular (or unpopular) and noticed (or unnoticed) you really are. IMG_20170716_093307_819I follow a lot of moms on Instagram and read many a word written by moms of littles just like me. But they aren’t really like me at all, are they? Most of them run their own creative business on the side, are publishing books, homeschool half a dozen children or more, pull the weight of a public ministry, or simply rock life as a domestic diva with a perfectly curated home and gourmet meals on the table. That’s not exactly where I’m at, no not really.

These women challenge and encourage me with their lives and words—that’s why I follow them. But who am I kidding if I don’t admit how small I feel in comparison as I just keep my head above water and am thrilled if I post a few words here each week.

The numbers tell me I’m not like them, that I’m not seen or heard, that in a world screaming for attention, I am silent and invisible, unseen and unheard.IMG_20170808_222639_248 This is where Jesus comes in.

I get stuck in my own head sometimes. Stuck filling my heart with lies instead of truth. I go to social media and try to quantify my purpose and meaning with little thumbs up and numbers of followers. But then I’m reminded, Jesus only had twelve. Twelve “followers”—the small group of men he invested in deeply with his time and words and the few he would send out to further the story he had to tell. Just twelve men.

I look at my life, my home, my husband and two children. It doesn’t seem like much sometimes, my impact in this life and world. What difference can I make when all I can do is keep four people (including myself) alive each day? If I were just one of those women who does it all and is followed by many, then I could make an impact and do something lasting. Then the numbers would tell me I have purpose and influence. The numbers would tell me I matter.

But Jesus…

He invested for a short time in a few, not many. He had twelve followers and that was enough for him. Jesus saw the impact deep investment in a few could make on many. Those twelve men went on to turn the world upside down and spread the gospel message to numbers unquantifiable. My world is small but my people matter immensely. I’m learning to look beyond numbers and to invest deeply and completely in the people and work before me. This isn’t easy, feeling small and unseen in a world shouting for attention. But who I am and what I’m worth is defined by Christ and not my sphere of influence on social media. Social media is fine. Having tons of followers is fine. But numbers are only helpful when they point us to Christ and his work rather than our own fame and glory.

So help me, God, to see you in the people and work before me however small and invisible my life may sometimes feel.

Soli Dio gloria.

What My Children Will Remember

A newborn asleep in my arms. A three-year-old playing at my feet and talking, talking, talking endlessly as he does. I love my children but they aren’t always the best company. I crave conversation and connection—real words with actual grownups.

I feed my daughter with one hand and scroll ad infinitum through my phone with the other. Though I’m endlessly busy at home, I’m bored at the same time. My hands are busy but my heart and mind aren’t engaged in the tasks at hand—changing diapers, cleaning bottles, filling sippy cups, and stacking blocks. My phone becomes an outlet as my heart and mind seek connection with adults and stories beyond the day to day routine of raising a family.IMG_20170822_104305_617But already, little as they are, my children notice my distraction and lack of engagement with their own words and activities. I look away from my phone to find my daughter’s eyes locked on me and I wonder what I’ve missed during this first month of her life while my eyes lingered a little too long and longingly at pretty pictures on Instagram. My son asks a million questions and eventually gets frustrated at my obviously not listening grunts and mmm hmms to his words and stories. He wants me to look up at him. He wants me to get down on the floor and play. He wants me to see him and not just what’s happening on my phone.IMG_20170717_145445_984It’s hard, this busy boredom. This always having more to do and needs to meet than I can possibly manage and yet being lonely and mentally stagnant all the while my hands are full and my feet are moving.

Sometimes I wonder what my children will remember about me when they think back to childhood. What will stand out in their mind from our days together here at home? Will they remember me loving on them and the games we played? Will they hold onto climbing into my lap with a book and reading a story together or the sunny days outside playing in the yard and dirt? Or will they mostly remember me on my phone, looking down and muttering delayed and distracted responses to their words and questions?IMG_20170717_092642_395I think about the things I want my children to love—being outside, reading, exploring, imagining and telling stories. And then I wonder how well they’re learning such things from my living example. How often do I go outside or pick up a book instead of my phone? How often do I explore or tell them a story rather than turning on Netflix for some easy entertainment?

I hate the answer. I’m embarrassed by the truth.

My children are watching, learning, and becoming and there’s no going back on the time already spent. I know I can (and must) do better so I started setting my phone down and picking a book up instead. How I’ve forgotten the pleasure of reading. The words of C.S Lewis pour off the page and I’m mesmerized by his words. My son sees me reading and wants to know what the words say so I read out loud. He brings me story books and we sit and read together.IMG_20170717_145652_951Outside on the porch, I feel the breeze swirling around me, baby snuggled against my chest. My son digs in the dirt, still talking endlessly. I can hear the birds, feel the warmth of sunshine on my skin. Since when was my own backyard so magical, peaceful, and quiet? I’d forgotten how quiet life actually is when you turn off the noise—the phone notifications, the TV, the endless searching for entertainment.

It’s hard sometimes, spending most of my time with little people who can barely communicate when I long for meaningful conversation and connection. But I think I’m starting to realize my children long for those things too—the conversation and connection—and they long for it with me. My son has stories to tell, boy does he. My daughter studies my face, eyes locked on me regardless of whether my gaze is on her or my phone.

These are the days they’ll remember and how they remember them is very much up to me and the example I set.

The Moments Unseen

Tiny fingers laced through mine in the dark. A warm little body snuggled against me. Some of the most magical parts of motherhood go unnoticed and undocumented.

When my son comes to me, arms lifted, asking to “hold me” (really, he means for me to hold him)—I don’t pull out my phone and snap pictures of the moment; I simply pick him up. His arms wrap around my neck, head rests on my shoulder, and I tell him I love him, that I’m so thankful he’s my boy. It’s a quiet, unseen moment we share a thousand times amid a world marching on around us. And it’s the part of motherhood that fills my heart with new energy and devotion for the often far more public tantrums and tears that might make me wonder why I decided to be a mom in the first place.

IMG_20141029_114548In a world so photographed, documented, and publicly shared via social media, these quiet moments can at times feel less than simply because they weren’t seen or shared. It’s tempting to try to keep up with the flood of gorgeous images I see each day by trying to snap and document each of my own magical moments.

I want enchanting images of my own to share on Instagram or to punctuate my blog posts. But…

But

Sometimes the act of trying to document a moment destroys the very magic itself. Like a bird perched delicately on a branch in the morning light— you can stand quietly and admire or go closer and chase the moment out of existence.

We have to choose when to pull out our phones and cameras to capture our days and hours— and when to simply sit in the moment and let it be. This is not always an easy choice. Photos carry our memories when our busy minds would forget. But cameras and selfies may equally rob a moment of the very beauty we’re trying to store up and hold onto.

So sometimes when my son climbs into my lap and pulls my arms around him or asks me to lay beside him holding his hand until he falls asleep at night, I leave my phone alone. I soak up the memory in my heart and consciousness rather than my social media and try to remember some of the most magical parts of life and motherhood are the moments most unseen.

Chapter Two: It’s Just a Blog

IMG_20170419_131146

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

Not Capturing the Moment

IMG_20150514_181115413 editI didn’t have a cell phone until I went off to college and even then I hardly used it. We had a phone on the wall in our dorm room—you know, the kind with a curly cord and actual buttons to push–well, that’s what I always used to talk because my cell had horrible reception, I didn’t know how to text, and there was no camera, apps, or internet so the thing was fairly useless to me.  I’m not talking about a hundred years ago, this was like 2004.

Sometimes I like thinking back to the days when a phone was just a phone and I wasn’t always carrying it around with me scrolling through feeds like a media addict. Sometimes I get this image in my head of myself carrying around a corded phone and constantly looking at it to see if anyone is going to call me—it makes me laugh ;]

I like my fancy pants phone as much as anybody—with immediate access to the internet and lots of fun apps. But still, I think we all know sometimes we miss out on the actual living going on all around us by being so busy trying to keep up with all the virtual living going on via our phones.

I never realized this more until I had my son. There’s a part of me that feels like I need to capture every little thing he does because he’s changing so fast. And capturing everything he does isn’t hard with a cell always in hand—I take a million pics, record all his shenanigans, and scroll through countless feeds in between (you know, since I already have my phone out anyway).

But I’ve realized something in the process of trying to always capture the perfect picture of my little guy: Sometimes watching him through the lens of my phone takes away from just being present with him and watching him with nothing but my own eyes.

Darren and I took Roman to the park recently and he was so cute crawling around exploring in the grass. He picked dandelions and looked them over with a kind of wonder I think you only have when you see something for the very first time. The sun was beginning to drift down below the horizon and the breeze was crisp with leftover remembrances of winter still grasping at spring. Darren held Roman’s little hands in his and helped him walk around…really, Roman mostly danced being so very proud of himself and this newfound use of his legs. I sat there in the cool grass watching my boys, watching the sun set, watching the life of our little one unfold right before me…and I left my phone in my pocket.

I just wanted to live that moment and soak up as much of it in my memory as I possibly could. I wanted to always remember how Darren was as a young father of his first child and how Roman was discovering the world at his daddy’s side. I knew in my heart that trying to capture this moment would actually rob me of it. So I sat and I watched and I lived and the best documentation of these sweet memories is held in my heart instead of my phone.

Since then, I’ve tried to allow more of these sweet moments to unfold all on their own rather than trying to force, pose, and capture them. Yes, I love photos and of course photos help us hold onto memories in their own way. But there’s a part of me that knows I need not capture any moment with a camera that I miss with my own heart and mind by being distracted.

Sometimes, some moments just need to be lived and remembered in our hearts rather than captured and shared on social media.

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?

Setting the Tone at Home

Roman in windowcrop

The other day I lay on the couch with my baby boy asleep on my chest. I have watched the seasons change and the world go by my living room window holding Roman there while he naps. The hot, sticky summer yielded to fall. Fall shed her gold and red robe of leaves and bowed to winter. Winter yields to no one. Spring is in hiding and I’m afraid, may never have the courage to stand in winter’s stubborn way.
Winter can be beautiful too, occasionally. That day the wind was blowing hard and the clouds were light and billowy and rolling end over end on their way out of town. The sky was deep-sea blue and the sun broke through. But still the snow fell—fell out of nowhere, fell in the sunshine and looked like glittering rain flitting through the light. It was magical, the sunlight and snow and fluffy fast clouds.

That day I drank my coffee hot and foamy instead of cold and dense. I sat and read and jotted some thoughts down on paper. I looked at my son and noticed his one-toothed smile and perfect little giggle.
I tell you all this because I’ve realized something lately: I’m usually too busy and distracted to notice the beauty all around me. Often, I have the living room blinds closed to keep the glare of the sun off the TV and I sit on the couch looking in at Netflix and housework instead of out at nature.

But that day was different. That day I decided to be still and quiet. I turned the TV off and put my phone down. I held my boy and lay there consciously watching the snow and clouds dance outside my window. I realized that I, more than anyone or anything else, set the tone in my home. I stay home full-time which means all day every day I am the one who determines how much TV, media, and noise is allowed in our house. And with that decision, I determine what my son is exposed to in the way of noise and distractions.

Already I’m an example to him and when I sit holding him with the TV on in the background while I scroll through endless feeds on my phone, I’m teaching him the art of distraction rather than of mindful concentration. I’m teaching him to fill his life with noise and motion rather than stillness and silence. What I do now is what I’m teaching him to do later.

If I want him to know how to sit still and play quietly, I need to show him by my actions how those things are done. If I want him to read and love stories, I need to read books myself and read to him. If I want him to love nature and spending more time playing outside than in, then I need to take him outside and show him what a beautifully intriguing world we live in. Just like I can’t eat junk food in front of him all day and expect him to love healthy food, so I can’t fill his environment with noise and distractions and expect him to want anything else.

10967813_10152645679501517_1705059145_n{Reading Anne of Green Gables together}

Sometimes the quiet drives me crazy when I’m home alone all day but I’m learning to be careful about my own need for noise and accidentally instilling that same need in my son. As a mom it’s my responsibility to teach and lead by example and that often means working on my own bad habits and growing myself into the same kind of person I would like my children to be; I can’t have expectations for them that I don’t live up to myself.

This is not just for my baby either; it’s benefited me as well. I’m enjoying the quiet and the peaceful feel our home has when it’s not filled with all the flashing lights and sounds of TV. I’m enjoying the things I notice and can concentrate on when I look away from my phone and at the world and people around me instead. I by no means think all TV and social media are bad, I’m just starting to recognize the ways I’m abusing good things and setting a bad example in the process. I’m learning to love the quiet and to live in that quiet rather than automatically drowning out my thoughts with background noise.

Good living takes discipline. It takes discipline and forethought to eat healthy meals. It takes discipline to sit down and read or to tap out words. It takes discipline to build strong, happy, healthy relationships. And I’m learning too that it takes discipline to manage the noise and distractions that come with our modern way of life, with cell phones and social media.

Every day I have a choice and an opportunity with the way I live, the home I build, the example I set. Each day is a new chance and building block but eventually those blocks add up from a foundation to a structure—so I must ask, what am I building today with this block? What will this house look like and how will I build and grow the people in it? It’s up to me, every day, one day at a time…and every single day and block counts towards the final structure.

Don’t Look Back

Sometimes I look back at who I was a year ago or five years ago and I’m embarrassed by some of the things I said or did. The advent of social media doesn’t help either because now if my memory fails me, Facebook and even this blog will be here to remind me of my less than stellar self. Super.

Sometimes I want to gather up everyone who knew me before right now and apologize for all the stupid thing I ever said or did. I feel this urgency to explain to people that I’m different now, that I’m sorry and I’ve changed.

This is great except I’ll probably look back ten years from now at the person I am today and want to apologize all over again.

You see, if I’m moving in the right direction then hopefully I’m always growing and changing from who I am today into a more loving, mature person tomorrow. That’s a good thing. The bad thing is looking back and remembering who I was at a different place in the story. But what I’m trying to remember is this: There’s no need to be ashamed of who you were yesterday if you are becoming a better person today.

Yes, I’m sorry for some of the things I said or did in the past and I do hope people know that. But at the same time I’m glad to be aware of what I did wrong because hopefully that means I’ve learned and grown and am not still making the same mistakes today.

So don’t be ashamed of who you were; be proud of who you are becoming. If you can’t be proud of who you are becoming, then worry about that instead of the past.

“…But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14