Simple Blessings and Happy Thoughts

Life and death are delicate. We're in the process of re-writing our will in case something should happen to us. Ugh, I hate dealing with the thought of ever leaving S behind. But it's a necessary part of being an adult and responsible parent. And such somber thoughts are a good refresher on perspective. (In case you haven't noticed, God has provided a lot of these reminders for me to keep life in perspective lately. It's sort of a theme in my life the past couple of months, and I have a lot of conviction for it.)

I am so grateful for the modest yet sweet life I live. It's easy to play the comparison game and wish I had this or that, thinking someone else's life looks so perfect, especially in this age of social media when we only see a part of people's lives. We see the most charming part, or whatever they want us to see, and sometimes it just looks like everything a person touches turns to gold. But that's not real life. Life is hard. For everyone. And I have so much joy to celebrate. I am rich in so many ways--the ways that matter most. And as far as the material stuff--we're doing alright. No reason to complain at all. 

So I'm taking stock of the things I have to be thankful for:

My adoring, hard-working husband, who is my best friend and love of my life
My precious daughter, who has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined, and whose smiles light up any room
A family who, regardless of physical distance, remains close
Friendships that span decades and, even with long periods of time apart, always pick up where they left off
A tiny home that sometimes seems to be falling apart and is in desperate need of updating, but provides us with shelter and comfort, and was the birthplace of my daughter
My Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who took beatings and stretched out His precious hands and shed blood for my sins so that I can spend eternity with Him in heaven
God's Word, a.k.a. life's instruction book
A working vehicle with 201,417 miles--it's old and loud but still ticks and gets us from place to place
The gift of staying home with my daughter and the cherished opportunity to care for our home (even on days when I don't get to shower and I'm tired and it's soooo hard)
My education, a privilege which has given me the ability to support my family and introduced me to many kind people
The beautiful mountains nearby and the majesty of creation
New friends with whom to navigate the unfamiliar waters of motherhood


Those are some of the bigger things, but the little things are what really make up life: 

S saying "mama" and running toward me, her little arms wide open, when I enter the room
Apple-pumpkin scented candles
A day breezy enough to open the windows
The smell of fresh real drip coffee
15 minutes of quiet time
Afternoon naps
Movie dates with the hubs (usually on the couch, but treasured just the same)
Finishing a good book
Starting the last book's sequel
Changing fall leaves
Making the traffic light
A close parking space
A chocolate mint after dinner
Tabletop flowers
A good Sunday morning sermon
Grilled cheese and tomato soup
The cold side of the pillow
Freshly laundered sheets
Watching bird dogs work
Looking through picture albums

What simple blessings bring you happiness today?


I am her place.

So far this week has been a whirlwind of stress and panic, as I am having a garage sale this weekend, I overbooked myself for the whole week, and my 14 month old has been in a whiny, tantrum-throwing, molar-teething mess of a mood. I'm desperate to finish even one thing this week, but I have yet to complete any single task. [Although I've let go of my official to-do list as I talked about here, I must still be practical about taking care of my home sometimes. Bummer.] 

It's 11:00 at night about one day away from the garage sale, and I'm sorting through totes of clothes to see what I might sell. I've got them strewn across the living room floor so I can see them in their piles when I hear the familiar buzz of the baby monitor followed by staccato, and then drawn-out cries. There she is.

I sigh to myself and wait a minute to see if she falls back to sleep on her own. Sometimes she does. Not this time. I throw my head back, looking at the ceiling as if to will her back to sleep, and when my effort fails, my head falls forward and I stand.

I tip-toe through her room and approach the side of her crib as if my hushed footprints will lull her back to dreamland. This time she's standing with her eyes still closed, and it's apparent to me that she's still in a slight state of slumber. She somehow senses I'm there, shuffles over, and instantly climbs up into my arms and attaches herself to me--her tiny curled fingers resting on my shoulder, her other arm stretched around my side and gripping my back, her legs wrapped around my waist, and her nose nuzzled into the crook of my neck. She exhales.

After lowering myself into the rocking chair and doing my best not to disturb her, I finally relax into the cushioned wood and develop a rhythm of rocking. 

And it occurs to me: I am her place. At the exact moment of contact, she let go of whatever upset her, and she was filled with peace. Asleep again in my arms, she melted into me. Just as my mother is comfort, and my husband is safety--I am to her. I am her place.

I rocked her like that for a long time. It was not for her; for she was fast asleep. It was for me.

Reluctantly, slowly, I raise myself to stand. I glide across the room to her crib and gently lay her onto her mattress.

Thank you, God. I nearly took this time for granted. I nearly let myself forget that these days are limited. I don't know when the next time will be that she will sleep on me so soundly, and I don't know when it will be the last. Thank you for reminding me.

Someday if Nick and I are old and gray, she may be my place. She may be my comfort, and she may wrap those same sweet arms around me and nuzzle me and hold me until I fall asleep.



I've had a rough couple of days. Without going into too much detail, I'll just share that I haven't slept more than a couple hours straight in about 3 weeks (thank you, baby molars); yesterday I locked S and myself out of the house with a car full of groceries, including frozen food that half-thawed out; S took a huge potty (not pee) in the shower with me last night, and I didn't have enough bathroom cleaner on-hand to clean it all; and tonight as I picked up toys, I hit my head so hard on the kitchen table that it knocked a drink over, and I put my knee through my computer tablet, breaking it in half.
Good times, I tell ya.

Now I'm scared to go to sleep because my head hurts tremendously and my ears are ringing. So instead, I finished picking up toys, vacuumed my entire upstairs, and straightened up the house. And now I sit at my laptop, clicking on the keys to share these trying times with you people.

As I mindlessly pushed the vacuum around my floor, I got to thinking about how I wish I could just hit a "reset" button sometimes. You know, I'm having a bad day--RESET! I'm tired and need some energy--RESET! My toddler has torn my living room apart, I've let the dishes stack up for two days because my body is too physically exhausted to lift the pots and pans, and I have piles of sorted dirty laundry in my bedroom--RESET! If only...

But since that's not an option, I must soon put into action a plan I've been mauling over for several weeks--heck, months or even years, if I'm really honest. I've been desperate to simplify my life, and I don't mean I need to say "no" to some things and lighten up my schedule. I mean we've been blessed beyond belief, and I'm grateful to have all that we have--but we have so many things now that they're subtracting from our quality of life instead of adding to it.

We don't live like the people on the hoarder TV shows, who cry when their families throw away a broken item or moldy food. We don't live unsanitarily, and we don't keep things that don't work or are multiples. Still, we have things we haven't used in nearly a decade and don't even know where they are currently located to ever use again. We have boxes of things we've taken with us house to house, wherever we moved, without ever actually unpacking. We have a garage full of it and a storage room that could be a bedroom if we could just get rid of things. We've pared down a lot from what we had, but we don't have enough house to keep everything we still possess. And for a family our size, it 's silly to need a bigger house. 

Besides the practicality of needing space, living with this kind of clutter creates clutter of the mind. For the past two years (since I got pregnant), I haven't been able to relax at home because I always feel like there's something else I need to work on. That's what living with too much stuff does to a person. It forms a to-do list in my head that I can't get out, even if I tell myself I don't have to mess with it now. During the summer months, I can escape by getting outside and adventuring with my girl, allowing myself to temporarily "forget" the clutter exists. But with fall and then winter approaching, I'll be stuck in the confines of my house while avoiding the snow, and forced to face the reality of the mess. I must simplify, cleanse, detox, and refine my home. For the sake of my sanity, I have to give myself a fresh slate.

I've often thought I spend too much time on my phone. S confirmed my suspicion.

My husband may not recognize his wife over the coming weeks. I'm tossing things in a big way, and I'm not just talking material possessions.

Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do I love it?* Every facet of my life needs to be reconsidered and reshaped: my experiences, my obligations, my schedule. Am I nurturing the people in my life in a way that represents what they mean to me? What activities am I giving my time and attention to, and are those activities useful, beautiful or beloved? Am I holding onto material possessions for the right reasons?

It's a tantalizing task, but I've hit a wall I must climb to feel right again. All summer I've found ways to re-energize myself in the outdoors; now it's time to refresh my family's life and my own personal life inside the walls of my home. 


* "Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Do I love it?" is an idea that I read in a book a couple years ago, but can't remember the source. If you know, please share so I can credit the author.


There's Something About the Woods

I've never been a Greenpeace, tree-hugging type of person, but there's something about getting into nature that allows me to finally sigh relief, exhaling the stress and worry and doubt that builds up in regular life. You know, life can be so... daily.

Daily things wear us down, sometimes quietly under our own noses, without us noticing. Many days I feel like I fall short: as a wife, as a mother, as a homemaker, as a person. Weeks go by when it seems I can't do anything right. 

Then there, breathing in the scent of the forest, I can step back, let the pace change, and remember what it is to just be. No shortcomings. No failures. No judgment. Just live.

Be present. Be calm. Be okay. Be myself. Be alive.

And it had been a while since Nick and I were just us. Now we're Mommy and Daddy. I'm not complaining--S has brought a happiness into our life that we never could have imagined. But sometimes I think we forget who we are together. We are a man and a woman. We are a husband and wife. We are two people who fell in love with each other fifteen years ago. I didn't fall in love with "Daddy," (although, for the record, I've fallen more in love with him now, seeing him with our daughter). I fell in love with someone who smiles with half his mouth, is mischievous, tender-hearted, adventurous and fun, and who makes me laugh those full, hearty belly laughs that are one of life's greatest joys. 

We took what I felt was a HUGE step in our parenting journey last weekend, as we left S overnight with my mom for the first time so we could have a Mommy-Daddy camping trip. It was just one night, but for me, it was a slice of bliss. I'd forgotten what it was like to have time together to focus on each other and just relax. It was simple. And it allowed me to return to our home with a new energy (despite my recent severe lack of sleep and out-of-character cranky teething toddler). I haven't escaped my imperfections or insecurities; but escaping for just one night helped me to regain vibrancy. I don't know the expiration date on my fresh perspective, but when it's up I'll head into the woods again--maybe next time with toddler in tow.