The Good Stuff: Vol. 2

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{A weekly collection of the good things filling life with blessings and joy}

Holding On

  • To spring and all the little things we waited through winter to enjoy again– the sound of birds singing and peepers peeping, the warm breeze wrapping around me while I sit by the lake and watch my son play in the water, and all the lush, brand new green showing off like it’s been waiting all year to open up and let us see what it’s been working on. IMG_20170516_182621_982
  •  To naptime and having a few minutes to myself each day before 1) Roman grows out of napping or 2) I can’t get both Roman and the baby on the same schedule and someone is always awake (have mercy).

Loving

  • Maui Babe Browning Lotion. This stuff is legit. I picked a bottle up in Kauai last year and it’s seriously amazing. You add a little over top of some sun screen and you can have a nice tan quickly without spending tons of time in the sun– love it.
  • Watermelon. I’ve craved fruit, and watermelon in particular, like crazy with both pregnancies. Unfortunately, most of my pregnancy has been through the winter when watermelon is unavailable. Totally ate a whole watermelon by myself last week to make up for lost time; I regret nothing ;]

Letting Go

  • Of expectations. I’m trying to be more flexible and roll with life better instead of having everything planned out in my head and getting frustrated or disappointed when things don’t go as I imagined. There is a lot of joy to be found in taking life as it is rather than stewing over how you think it should have been.
  • Of the “stuff” that no longer serves us. It’s easy when you’ve invested time or money into something to feel guilty or wasteful about letting it go. But if something has become dead weight or clutter, I’m purging and leaving it behind. Stuff is just stuff and I’d rather have simplicity and peace of mind in the space we inhabit over holding onto material things that no longer meet our needs.

What are you holding onto, loving, or letting go of this week?

The Good Stuff: Vol.1

1494589931467I’ve noticed in myself a tendency to see the one thing that went wrong before I see the ten things that went right. In an effort to be more positive, grateful, and conscious of all the good around me, I’ve started jotting down little lists of things I’m thankful for or enjoying.

I thought it would be fun to share a few of these things here each Friday. I hope you enjoy :]

Holding On

  • To Roman being little and the time we have together with just him before his sister arrives.
  • To being pregnant and feeling my daughter move and grow. This final trimester of pregnancy can be hard and I often think, “I just want to be done!” I find myself daydreaming about a post maternity body and clothes and feeling like myself again. But I don’t know if we’ll have more children and I’m trying to savor and enjoy the incredible experience of being pregnant rather than rushing through and just wanting to have the whole thing behind me.

Loving

  • All the green! Though it’s still cool outside here, I’m loving all the flowers, blooming trees, and baby leaves beginning to pop up. And we have grass in our yard this year! This is huge after having the yard torn apart remodeling our house and spending last year with a brown, weedy, muddy mess of a yard. Give me all the green 😀
  • The Freckled Fox. I stumbled across Emily Meyers’ beautiful blog about a month ago and I’ve been so inspired by her words and mindset. Check her out!

Letting Go

  • Of worrying about what other people think of me. While I don’t want to be a jerk who cares nothing about what other people think, I also don’t want to live constantly concerned about how people see me or what they’ll think of me. In the end, most people don’t really know me that well or understand why I say, do, or think the way I do so I’m letting go of trying to please everyone else and learning to do what’s best from a place of sincerity rather than a place of fear and expectation.
  • Of eating out. That probably sounds silly but we spend way too much money eating out and grabbing food in the car between errands. I’ve noticed lately that for how much you spend eating out, the food generally isn’t that great. I can buy better food and cook a better meal at home for less so I’m trying to plan our days where we land at home for meal times rather than in the car scarfing down fast food.

What are you holding onto, letting go of, or loving?

Patience.

I’ve watched the rain fall and freeze these last few days. The sky is moody, unable to decide if it’s winter or spring. Fluffy white clouds are pushed along by chubby clouds of slate brimming with rain one minute and sleet the next. The sun breaks through now and again, threatening rebel patches of snow and inviting the timid little birds to sing. The flowers are not so brave and have yet to poke their little heads up through the cold sod.

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This world ebbs and flows in the rhythm of seasons—the hot days of summer are caught on fire by the burning leaves of fall, fall gives way to winter as the last leaves drop and tuck away beneath a wintry blanket of snow. Winter holds on forever and every year I forget spring will ever come again.

And then, just when the last shred of hope is slipping through our cold fingers, the birds come home and the snow gives way to rain and we are reminded once more that nothing in this life truly last forever—however good, however bad—this life is made up of brief, ever-changing seasons of warmth and rain, of heartache and hope.

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Life in New England teaches me patience. Through the long winters and slow advance of spring, I learn to wait. Missouri was not this way. Missouri winters yield to spring in violent cracks of thunder and electric fingers of lightning stretching from heaven to earth. The warm and cold air spin and dance in confusion knowing one must win and the battle will be fought out in violent tornadoes that ravage and forsake every bit of ground they touch.

Missouri springs are not quiet, not safe, and certainly not slow. Spring in the prairies feels as though the very land you love is trying to hurl you off of it, trying to crush and destroy you or eat you up in its loud, rumbling belly of thunder. I’m not being dramatic; I thought more than once that I would die in a Missouri spring and never see another summer.

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Sometimes, in New England, I think I will die in the winter and never see another spring—or perhaps the whole earth has died and there are no more springs to be had—now I am being dramatic.

Seasons.

Life is full of seasons, made up of seasons. There are seasons of abundance and joy and dry seasons when the soul is weary and parched. It reminds me of the land I grew up on in Missouri and the way we talked about the weather like it was money–because rain, too much or too little of it, could mean everything to a successful crop and harvest.

This winter season feels like the longest I’ve ever experienced. I usually declare it spring as soon as we’ve poked our toes across the line into March but there doesn’t seem much point in doing that this year with the snow still falling and forecasted as far out as we can see. This winter has been made up of long days cooped up in the house taking care of a baby and long nights waiting for Darren to get home from work and class. And I’m starting to feel a little parched, dried up, in need of some cleansing rain.

I’ve been discouraged, tired, overwhelmed. I’m ready to be done with winter, done with house remodeling, done with busy days that keep my little family from being together and enjoying each other.

I want to quit.

But I remembered yesterday, that life is made up of seasons–seasons of abundance and dry seasons without rain.

This discouragement, this weariness, this wanting to give up and walk away–this is just a season without rain. Seasons change. Winter, no matter how stubborn, always gives way to spring. The flowers always poke through, even if they must first poke up through the snow.

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I’m thankful that seasons come and go, ebb and flow in and out of life like the tide. I’m thankful that the longest, darkest night always gives way to dawn. But I’m even more thankful that right in the middle of the dark and dry spells, there is water and light and hope. There is God. And God doesn’t change, he doesn’t ebb and flow or fluctuate. I don’t need my life or circumstances to change in order to be refreshed–I can be refreshed right here in the desert by a God who always brings light and hope and renewal.

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Soon, the snow will melt. I will feel the sunshine on my skin and be able to go outside and stretch my legs. I can’t wait. But until then, I’m using these cooped up winter days to find the light and rain I need in my soul. This season will pass. I will look back at this winter and these first months as a mother and see this time I’m now in from a different vantage point. I have to remind myself of that–that this is a season. No matter how overwhelming a day or period may be, it will pass, it will change. And even when I’m in the middle of a long, discouraging stretch without change, God is always the same–always present, always renewing, always what my parched soul truly needs for actual, lasting change.

Johnny Appleseed

DSC_0488One of my favorite things about the farm I grew up on was a giant Red Delicious apple tree sitting in the middle of the orchard. My dad planted lots of fruit trees when we moved to the farm but that particular tree was there long before that and all the others were simply added around it.

That tree was kind of my spot, the place where I would go when I wanted to think, pray, or be alone. I would climb up and sit in its scruffy branches or pace around beneath it when I couldn’t hold still.

DSC_0496I remember picking hundreds of apples off it one year when the snow had already come and my dad was trying to save the fruit before it was ruined and gone. I remember my dad climbing around on the branches like a monkey and dropping the apples into my nine or ten year old hands one by one. He gave me a dollar at the end of the day for helping him in the cold and we had more apples than we could ever use that year. I wonder if he remembers that day as well as I do.

My parents put a park bench under that tree and I remember sitting there talking with Darren when we were dating. It’s a sweet memory sitting there under the shade of the trees getting to know the man I would spend my life with.

DSC_0497That tree is gone now along with the rest of the orchard and the house I grew up in. It will always be one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t take any pictures of it before I left home but of course I didn’t know then that I would never see that place again. You never do know how life will work out.

My dad did something very special for me recently; he bought me two baby apple trees and promised to help me plant them at our new house when he comes to visit this summer. Darren and I picked the trees out one night in the rain and came home with a Red Delicious and a Mcintosh that now sit on our front porch waiting for my dad to plant them. The Red Delicious is going crazy with glossy leaves and lots of delicate pink buds.

DSC_0476I slipped outside today with my camera and took pictures of the papery pink buds blossoming in the sunshine. I won’t have any regrets about documenting this very special tree.

I wasn’t able to plant a garden this year, what with moving and a baby on the way. But the cheerful buds on my apple tree brighten my day and gives me something from nature to enjoy until I have flowers and garden next year.

DSC_0478Trees and blossoms will always be some of my favorite things. Just call me Johnny Appleseed :]

Equinox

Look at me writing a post two days in a row…who knew I had it in me ;]

It’s spring today everybody! Not that the weather agrees here in New England but I’ll take the end of winter either way. I decided to celebrate by wearing a springy little sundress…and am compensating for the cold with a cardigan, long socks, and riding boots so I don’t freeze to death. I can at least pretend spring is here even if freezing in a sundress is a poor way to do it.

I wore this dress in Italy when we explored Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Pompeii by foot and train. That was a magical day in a magical country and this bright little dress always reminds me of those sweet, warm memories.

Today, on the first day of spring, I’m dreaming of the Italian sun, of lemon groves and street vendors selling bright flowers, and of taking a long walk in the sunshine…either here or there, anywhere so long as I’m warm :]

catKatniss is helping me celebrate…all snuggled up in my lap while I write this post.

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Walking the streets of Pompeii in my little sundress

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Flowers for sale on the streets in France

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A sunshiny day on the Adriactic

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Birds sunbathing in Croatia

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Poppies growing up out of the rocks in France; I think they love they sun as much as I do.

Happy spring, everyone :]

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In the Waiting

DSC_0370 (2){Last year’s blooms}

I always have a hard time when we reach a transition in the seasons—when, according to me and my calendar, winter should be over and spring should be well under way—but it just aint.

I get the same way after the long hot days of summer when I’m ready for crisp fall weather and hot apple cider but the weather refuses to obey me and continues cooking us until we’re all just a little too tough and overdone.

This has been an especially long cold winter and right now I just want green grass under my toes and warm sunshine on my skin. I would also very much like the snow to stop it already and please go away forever.

DSC_0376 (2){A shy flower waking up in last spring’s sunshine}

A couple of weekends ago I came up with a big plan for beating this stir craziness and ushering in spring. I was going to head over to our house remodel and work on clearing brush and construction debris. I was going to build a big—no—a huge bonfire and throw everything on it until the flames licked the sky.

I thought maybe I could melt the snow that way. I thought maybe I could trick the trees and flowers with the heat and convince them to start blooming. I thought I would build a fire big enough to coax the shy crocuses and daffodils up out of the frozen ground. I thought maybe I could even make the sun just a tad jealous and move her to shine a little warmth on our frozen landscape.

But Darren said a pregnant woman shouldn’t be moving brush and building bond fires and asked me to please stay home.

So I argued a little and then I stayed home and pouted about the weather. The cat pouted with me; we were a very sad pair.

cat{The cat trying to sit on my lap but finding he has less and less room with my big baby belly}

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the irony of it all—about how we humans so love instant gratification and have come up with so many clever ways to get just that—whatever it is we want right now with the push of a button or the swipe of a card. And yet we can’t change the seasons—neither the seasons of nature nor the seasons of life. There are just some things in life that can’t be rushed or hurried even by the immediate drive-through culture we’ve created. We have all this fancy technology and the whole world at our fingertips and still we can’t change the weather.

But I think maybe that’s a good thing. Because I think if given the opportunity, I would impatiently rush through everything and not actually experience anything at all. I’m not just eagerly waiting for warm weather and sunshine, we’re waiting for our house to be completed so we can move and we’re waiting for our baby to be born too; sometimes I get so impatient about it all. I want to pack my bags and settle into the new house. I want to be done with this place and on to the next. I want to hold my baby and kiss his head and hands and feet. I want, I want I want….everything, right now, without the waiting.

But this season of waiting is good for me because it forces me to slow down and take in what’s happening instead of impatiently rushing along and missing all the quiet moments in between.

Being forced to wait for what I want teaches me to savor what I will eventually get—because it gives me so much time to anticipate and desire and hope and prepare instead of just immediately walking away with my every wish as we are now so accustomed to doing.

Spring will be all the sweeter because winter has been so long.

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Holding our baby will be all the more precious because I have slowly, month by month, felt him move and grow and my desire to hold and know him has grown with the waiting.

dsc_1220{Tiny little clothes for our little baby boy}

edit{A few things for the nursery}

DSC_1242{I can’t get over how teeny tiny adorable newborn diapers are…I’m sure I’ll change my mind after changing a few hundred of them}

DSC_1214{A couple weeks ago at 22 weeks}

And our house, that crazy undertaking, will be all the better too because we will have worked and waited for so long to call it home.

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I don’t like waiting, but I’m honestly really thankful that life sometimes forces me to slow down and just want something for a while. I don’t want to get so caught up in the immediate that I lose all sense of dreaming about and anticipating what isn’t yet mine.

Life is all about seasons. Some seasons carry us along quickly and some ask us to quietly wait and savor what we already have. Right now I’m learning to savor; to savor the fluttery movements of the baby I want to hold and meet, to savor the days Darren and I have left with just the two of us before this baby does come, to appreciate the home we already have, and to somehow even be thankful for these cold winter days—because soon enough I’m sure, I’ll be complaining about how hot it is all the time.

us{Enjoying the days with just the two of us}

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 {ESV}

The Seeds We Plant

It’s getting cold here in New England; it even snowed a little the other day. Today when I went outside it felt so warm I thought it must be in the 70s but the temperature read only 48°. Regardless, I celebrated the heat-wave by leaving my coat home today :]

As warm as 48° feels, winter is still inching in around us and Darren and I were busy for a few days trying to beat the frost and get hundreds {or a billion} daffodil, crocus, and tulip bulbs dug up and transplanted for spring. That’s the thing about flowers and spring—you have to plan ahead if you want to see color and results when the world finally thaws out months from now.

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We got all the bulbs in the ground where we wanted them and then a few days later it was really warm and pretty so I kicked off my shoes, rolled up my pant legs, and went around the yard filling the wheel-barrow up with pretty round rocks to use as a border around the flowers. It took a lot of loads back and forth to wrap all the way around the area I wanted but it felt good to be outside tramping around in the dirt and grass. Darren called me Tom Sawyer the rest of the day but I think he meant it affectionately :]

I’ve been thinking a lot about those little bulbs we put into the ground and all the work and planning that goes into having a pretty yard and garden come spring. And I’ve thought a lot too about all the other seeds we plant, not in the yard and garden, but in our hearts and lives.

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Words, actions, thoughts, decisions—these are the seeds planted throughout our lives that carry with them the power to grow either beauty or weeds in the soil of our hearts and souls.

I think about the words we hear growing up and how those little seeds grow in us and shape us for better or worse all throughout our lives. I think about all the decisions we make and how they too take root and grow into either weeds or blossoms in the tender sod of hearts.

Once weeds take root, they are hard to pluck out; they hold on and keep coming back up over and over again. It doesn’t seem fair that just the opposite is true of flowers—they are tender, delicate, easy to root out and kill. Beauty and blossoms have to be nurtured or they will suffer and die.

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It’s just the same with nurturing beauty in our hearts and lives—you only need be told once that you are stupid or unwanted to have that weed planted in your heart—and plucking it back out will likely have to be done again and again as the weeds keep springing back up. But it seems we must be told many times throughout our lives that we are loved and wanted and worthy before those tender seeds take root and are finally settled into our hearts producing fruit.

So be careful of the seeds you plant—the words, the actions, the thoughts and decisions. Be careful of the seeds you plant in the lives of others and careful of the seeds you let take root in your own heart and soul.

Because once weeds take root they are hard to pluck out and blossoms easily die.

Life Lately.

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Two of my dearest friends came to visit for the week.

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We talked and laughed and explored the streets together and were reminded why we have loved each other so much from the start

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Who couldn’t love a friend with penguin socks?

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We ransacked the dessert section in my favorite Italian coffee shop

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And explored all the beautiful streets and corners of some of my favorite towns. I could take a picture of every perfect little piece of New England architecture

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And perfect little bird houses too

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The other day after exploring my favorite bookstore I came home with lots of old maps, a book printed on a letterpress with raised words you can feel when you run your fingers over the page, a stunning book of American poetry with a bunch of my favorite authors all wrapped up between the same two covers, and a little bitty book of Shakespeare too :]

The trees are blushing crimson in the warm light of spring

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And the sunshine is warming everything up

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And these two are warming my heart up :]