Saturday, September 29, 2012

In The Quiet

while the kids are away


This morning I find myself quiet and alone and this is something that hasn't happened in a very long time.  Once upon a time, not so long ago, my kids liked to spend the night with people; although only occasionally, and with the large majority of that time being split between my mom and dad's house and my brother's house (both of which are practically next door to us) with just a scattering of nights spent away at our neighbor-friend's house or at a cousin's house.  Then, we seemingly entered the stay-at-home phase, with friends.  Lots of friends lying here and there all weekend, girls in this room, boys in that room, all running around, emptying the pantry and the popsicle boxes.  The party had been permanently relocated right here, in our house.

Last night, however, in an unplanned turn of events, the boys ended up at their cousin's house and the girls, although they weren't far away, stayed at the neighbor-friend's house.  So, by 8:30 last night this house was silent, the dogs were put to bed, and we soaked in the peace and quiet.  The peace of the night spilled over into this morning, allowing me to sleep until after 7:30, having my two cups of caffeine quietly while I read some things I'd had on my bookmarks for a while.  I had a leftover blondie from last night's dessert with my coffee and wrote in my journal for a good long time, about six pages instead of my usual one.  I used the time to think about living in the moment and not putting so many expectations on things that haven't happened yet, wishing I could learn to take it all in stride.  I also ate the last of the Special K with Red Berries, you know, so the kids won't fight about who gets the last bowl when they get here this afternoon.  I swept the kitchen, took the rugs out for a good shake, and washed the dog.  Now I've returned to sitting at my desk in my pajamas and untamed hair, reading more, writing more, and enjoying this rare moment of quiet.

Although, nothing makes me happier than to have my kids here in my house with me and I'd always choose exactly that if I had to make a choice, but these moments of silence are incredibly refreshing.  I can actually hear my own thoughts and get them written down.  I can pray a prayer that doesn't feel like a rushed, smattering of wild, incomplete thoughts.  And, I can have that last bowl of cereal without a full numerical account of who had how many bowls in a last ditch effort to win permission to eat it.

Quiet is good.
...While it lasts, of course.


Here's hoping you're able to find a little quiet in your weekend, too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This Morning

From earlier today.  The girls were asleep in the backseat on the way home from church.  ❤

  • I woke up a little late thanks to the snooze button, but not nearly as late as I did yesterday morning.  It seems like I can't get quite enough sleep these last few days.  That's okay...I'll just go with it.  {From the photo above, it seems I'm not alone in my quest for a few more minutes of sleep}
  • I peeled chewed gum from my computer desk, from the counters in the kitchen, and also from the refrigerator shelf.  I suppose someone decided to keep it a while longer by sticking it in the fridge, but it turned into a hard pebble.  I really need to remind the kids again where chewed gum should go when they're finished with it.
  • I've read a few blog posts.
  • I've had two cups of coffee.
  • I'm thinking about the boys' last basketball game tonight.  I'm sad that the season is over.  I wish I could extend it by a few more weeks...or months... for them.  They love it.  We all do.  
  • I'll try to talk them into volunteering to help coach the younger kids later this year when the winter basketball season starts.  I think they'd really benefit from that experience and I know they'd enjoy it, too.
  • Speaking of basketball, there are two uniforms waiting to be washed...since Thursday.  Good grief, they'll need those tonight.  I had better get on that, pronto.
It's that time again!
  • I should be showering now instead of writing a blog post, but I'm feeling unmotivated to get the day started.  The peace and quiet in the house right now is blissful.
  • I'm looking at dirty, old floors, that even when I spend backbreaking hours cleaning them, they still look, well, old and dirty.  I'd love new floors, but until that happens I suppose a mop will have to do.
  • I want breakfast and I'm sure the kids will want breakfast, but I really don't want to make it.  Sad.
  • I'm planning tonight's dinner for the crock pot.  It'll be nice to come home to a hot meal, ready to eat. 
Dinner tonight.
  • With every ray of morning sunlight entering the windows, our three birds are getting friskier.  They are absolutely loud at this moment.  So much for the peace and quiet of earlier.
  • School work is waiting for us and is totally mocking at me right now as I put off waking the kids.  You would think I'd know better than to procrastinate at this stage of the game.  Oh well.
  • Then sometimes there is a legitimate need for some quiet alone time to think, to listen, to write, to just be.  And, being a homeschooling mom, those moments of solitude just don't come around very often.  It's in times like these that we just take what we need.  
  • Ahhh!  Now, that feels better.  I'm off to start my day!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sustaining Grace

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Change is hard.
Focusing on the positives can be hard to do
while so many negatives are trying desperately to pull us down.
Getting a handle of runaway emotions is wearisome.
Transforming old thoughts feels nearly impossible.  Until it isn't.


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What makes up a revelation?
What makes the impossible seem within reach?
What makes motivation take root and grow into beautiful things?
What makes us new and good and pleasing and whole?


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Self-help is a great and valuable tool and in recent years I've turned to that approach to try to ease myself out of some really deep anger and hurt and disappointment, but something significant has been missing.  There was such a lack of substance in my life. Anger is a scary thing and it made me have disturbing thoughts and I began to resolve many things in my own mind that were really frightening.  This is something that I've tried to deny, because after all, I know what I'm doing, right?


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Then it just hit me.
And, out of nowhere, I knew.



God.
His never-ending, sustaining grace.  It was given freely to me even in my selfish moments of blatant rejection.  His gift of mercy, it's brand new every single day.

He's been there.  Waiting patiently.  Unwavering.
He never left my side.


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I feel like a little of His divine light shone directly on my face, gently waking me from a long and fitful slumber, bringing me back home.


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I feel like a seed at the changing of seasons, full of hope and light and inner strength.  I feel awakened.



I'm seeing this now.
I'm feeling this every day.
These current days are full of a happiness I've not felt in a very long time.


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Not the kind of happiness that comes from things or even people, but the kind of happiness that comes from a source so deep within I can't even use words to help reveal it.  It's an inner peace, an inhalation of fresh crisp air, an intimate awareness, a sound of perfect tranquility.



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He's making me new.
Again.
Grace is a really beautiful thing.

And, I'm so very thankful that He is an enduring God of love, filling up to overflowing even those of us with broken cups.



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Thursday, September 20, 2012

School Days


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Our school days have returned, and along with them the more normal and predictable routine that I love.

Late last spring I was having a hard time with this whole homeschooling choice.  I was plagued with doubts, I was irritated by the dailiness of it all, I was overwhelmed by the non-stop mental aspect and the equally incessant mom-on-duty 24/7 aspect.  I wasn't intending on taking a summer break, but somewhere around late June I decided that it was in our best interest, most especially my own, to take a break and relax.  I'm so glad I did.  I tried to just let it all go.  No thinking about it, no browsing homeschool websites or curriculum sites.  No planning or thinking of schedules.  No worrying about how far behind we may be or anything else.  I just released it all.

Then out of the blue, the desire returned with the changing seasons.  There's something about the shift of light in the fall and crisp mornings that make you crave oatmeal and school supplies you know.  :)

When that day of desire came I pulled the books back out, sent off this year's registration to the same cover school that I intended on changing but had lost all desire to even think it through, and we started.  Slowly but surely, finishing what we left dangling in my overwhelmed fog.  We're finally feeling the rhythm and sense of ease return to our days.  It feels good.  But most importantly, it feels right.  We are exactly where we belong and I am so happy for it.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Dear Me,

I've been inspired to write my teenage self a letter.  Or, actually, inspired to finish the one I've had under way for quite some time now.  I started this letter while sorting some things out in my mind and reflecting on the girl I used to be and I would return to it occasionally to write just a bit more as the urge would arise.  Then, I came across Emily Freeman's recent post at her blog Chatting at the Sky, and I knew that now was the time to finish the letter.  Although it is deeply reflective and personal to me, its also a letter to every girl and every woman.

Please click here to learn more about Emily Freeman's new book, Graceful.  Many people are joining in and writing letters to their younger selves in honor of her new book for high school girls.  You can grab a cup of coffee and maybe a tissue or two and read along, taking a trip of your own down memory lane.  Or, better yet, write your own letter.  You can link it up here.









Hello, fifteen-year-old me!  You don't know me just yet, but you will know me very well twenty-two years from now.  That seems like such a long time away, I know.  But, guess what, it isn't.  It's only a blink of an eye away and you'll be amazed at how fast time really moves along.  That's why you should enjoy the days you have now of little responsibility and lots of personal time.  Enjoy the days of Dirty Dancing and feeling all giddy over Patrick Swayze.  I won't hold your love of Corey Haim and Ricky Schroeder and Kirk Cameron against you.  They are pretty cute.  I know you like your nails long and painted and your personal style mission has become having hair as big and fluffy as you possibly can.  Your taste in music will stick with you and you will count Bon Jovi and Def Leppard among your favorites for many years to come.  You like tight jeans and miniskirts, but nothing overly revealing.  You like cookie dough and macaroni and cheese entirely too much, so stop those bad habits while you're still ahead.  You're trying to find yourself and that's a good thing.  You should really breathe in the freedom you have now because you'll be surprised how your plan of having only one child will go.  I'm not giving away too much here in this letter, but  believe me, you'll be surprised by many, many things.



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Go ahead and enjoy all those books you get so caught up in and read even more, but better yet, step up and be a part of your high school journalism class and yearbook staff.  You love to write and you're good at it. (And, by the way, those journals you write?  STOP throwing them away!  I know you're just scared of someone seeing the real you in your journals, but don't keep trying to hide yourself from the world, it's okay if someone gets to know you.  You'll wish so badly that you would have kept them.)  You should stop being so reluctant about showing yourself to the world and start being part of the things you love. You would be an asset to those groups if you would only put yourself out there.


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Your love of photography?  It will never go away, so go ahead and invest in that SLR you keep drooling over at the camera shop.  I promise you won't regret the head start and I'd say, from my current vantage point, that it could possibly change your life in ways you can't imagine.  Your creativity is at its highest when you are looking through the lens.  It's the way you have always viewed the entire world around you and they way you'll continue to view things.



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The boy that has been calling and coming over to visit, you know, the one who is four years older than you and the one your parents aren't so sure of?  Yes, he's okay; and I'll let you in on a little secret:  he's the one who is going to be by your side for a very long time.  He's the one you'll be holding hands with and sharing your kid-filled days with.  He's the one who is going to amaze you each and every day from now on.  I know you're both young right now, but some things really are meant to be.  It is a fairy tale in the making, so enjoy it.  Besides, he loves you even when you wear your hair standing five inches off the top of your head, thanks to your addiction to Aqua Net.  You know it has to be the real thing!



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Also, spend a lot more time with your girlfriends, and be sure to cultivate even more friendships.  You aren't the type of girl who has a large collection of friends that you can call at any given moment, but you are the kind of girl who has a small handful of really good friends that you spend too much time trying to avoid because of the boy.  I promise you, you'll regret that.  And, above all, there is plenty of room in your life for both your girlfriends and the boy, so don't shut them out.  You'll need them later, believe it or not.


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I wish you'd look in the mirror at the beautiful girl staring back at you and see her worth instead of bashing her twenty-four hours a day for all the imperfections you think you see.  The imperfections that you dwell on right now will not seem like imperfections at all in twenty-two years.  You'll finally realize that they were actually the beautiful parts and that you are worthy and attractive and you'll be very, very sad that you spent so much time disrespecting yourself.  This will be one of your biggest regrets, I promise.  Stop with the self-punishment right now because if you don't the punishments only become harsher and you'll find yourself buried under many years of self-hate.  Please, I'm begging you,  don't do this to yourself.  You deserve so much more.


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You are not dazzling at sports; and P.E. is your least favorite part of the day, but that's okay.  (Oh, I won't tell anyone about the P.E. excuses that you and your friend falsified in order to get out of class.) You're not particularly cheerleader material either and you don't understand the attitudes that accompany most of the girls in that sport at your school, so you have no desire to join in.  That's okay, too.  You are, however, great in English and you thoroughly enjoyed reading The Scarlet Letter and Wuthering Heights when everyone else was sneaking those little yellow-bound Cliff's Notes.  You really enjoyed American History, specifically Colonial American History, and you weren't too shabby in the sciences either, thanks to Mr. Ranew, your favorite teacher of all time.  Math wasn't your specialty and Geometry was a nightmare, although you did manage to participate in the advanced classes.  You make great grades and you should be proud.  Also, why don't you apply for some scholarships?  Crazy girl, stop selling yourself short.  That's another thing you can eventually add to your list of regrets.


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Your time in high school will be split between Christian private school and public school and you'll remember the private school moments with the most fondness.  You felt good there and you thrived in the smaller, more encouraging setting.  The public school was just okay because you'll struggle with peer pressure and your short-comings, never once feeling like you belonged.  Your happiest day will be the one in which you walk across the stage, receiving your diploma, so glad to have spent your last day in public high school.

You're very quiet, reserved, and introverted and that will never change.  You watch people and take mental notes on everything, usually being able to recall the slightest details surrounding a situation.  I'm sure that's why, during your first semester in college,  Sociology 101 will be your favorite class aside from English 101.  The behavior of people fascinates you and it always will.  Oh, and when you start your college classes in the fall after you graduate high school, stick with the university even though the size is intimidating and the independence it offers is actually a little frightening.  Don't switch your enrollment over to the junior college.  It's going to be too much like high school and you'll hate it there.  Also, make English your major, not nursing.  It doesn't matter how much money a career is promising you after graduation, you can only spend the rest of your life doing what you love, and although you have a heart overflowing with compassion, nursing is not your path.  Your love of English and writing will never subside, so go for it.  Even if every word you ever write is just to please yourself.



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Above all else, you want to be a good girl and you strive desperately for that title. It hurts your little teenage heart to hear and see some of the things that your long-time classmates are doing and you've even written a few heart-felt letters to some of your closest friends, giving them some motivational words to hopefully keep them on track.

You want to be good for the ones who are certain that you can't be. You know who they are and it drives you crazy that they expect your downfall to happen at any time.  That's part of your slightly rebellious nature.  You rebel against those that try to put you down, but are never rebellious to the point of doing something you'll regret later.  You are fierce and determined not to be that girl.  You have never taken a drink or inhaled even one puff of smoke and you're proud of that. You often wonder why other people do and what it is that they're trying so desperately to prove by doing these things.  As you grow older, you'll wonder the same thing and you'll be happy to know that you will never pick up a cigarette or a drug.  You will, once in your thirties, have a glass of wine on occasion at the end of the night when your kids are staying away with their grandparents.


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You weren't particularly raised in church, but you did attend church with your mom on occasion, you attended a couple of Christian private schools, and you also accompanied friends to church.  You could really feel the love and hope and joy in the air, so you loved going to church.  You liked the feeling of community there.  As an adult, you will search for churches, trying to find where you fit in with your beliefs and you'll have a hard time seeing through the thick fog of denominational boundaries and rules and cliques therein.  You'll eventually settle into a church with your family for a while, feeling determined for things to work out.  But, then you'll be hurt.  Really badly.  You'll stop going to church for a while, but then you'll hear the call of God in your everyday motions and you'll pause and listen. You'll have more questions than can be answered.  You'll have doubts that you're "not supposed to have."  However, you'll find grace everywhere and when you listen to your heart, you'll find exactly where you're supposed to be.  It will all work out.  You'll eventually find your place.


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When you get older and you begin to look back on your life, you'll see so much of your fifteen year old self still thriving.  Internally, many of those same feelings are still there, but you'll look in the mirror and see outward changes you never thought possible.  You'll look around your life and see so many things the same as they are now, but in the same instance, so much will be entirely different.  So different, in fact, that if you don't remind yourself where you came from, you'd think your past life was only a dream.  Things do change, thank God, and you'll be well and happy and fulfilled.

Here are a few more points of advice for you:

Smile more often.  Smile so big it hurts.  Do it and make it a habit.  This is important.  Otherwise you'll wish with all your heart that you could look back and see happiness beaming from your own face.

Laugh loudly.  Don't be shy.  Laughter is medicine to the soul.  It goes hand in hand with the advice to smile more often.

Love fiercely.  Don't let one moment go by without letting your feelings be known.  Tell those you love how you feel and do it often.  Don't let those moments ever pass you by.

Stand proud.  Your beliefs and dreams are important.  Don't let anyone make you feel otherwise.  Be proud of who you are and all the things that make you who you are.

Be yourself.  This will be the hardest and longest lesson you'll learn.  It takes years to develop your you-ness.  The main thing is to make sure that you're always true to yourself.  You can never go wrong when you put this piece of advice first.

Let go.
Let go of things that hurt,
release their weighty burden from your own shoulders.
You have so much to live for.
Take a step forward and fly.



Monday, September 3, 2012

The last couple of mornings:

Today:  biscuits in the oven for a big group of hungry kids.  Also, grape jam and sausage gravy to go with them.  Mmmm!


In the oven now:  biscuits.  Mmmm!



Yesterday:   I woke up early for some quiet time, had my coffee, did some reading, did some journaling, and even did some bloggy stuff.  That was all before I began a huge cleaning streak, taking down blinds, washing curtains, washing walls and windows.  I don't know what happened to me, LOL, but my living room is looking fine.  :)

Some quiet time to get back into journaling this morning?  Don't mind if I do.  I even snuck in some blogging time.  Go me!  





Saturday, September 1, 2012

Inspired

I just spent some time browsing my old, previously shut down blog. {Yes, I did just re-open it and will work on some of my old posts and possibly add some new ones.}  I admit, I miss what my old blog was.  I miss how so much was recorded and how I didn't feel so overly-guarded in regards to sharing myself, my family, my life.

(The following photos are from My Inspired Heart.)

Untitled


a cup of joy




 I miss my love of photography, my love of experimenting with different editing techniques, my love of the art of it.  


She tapped her finger & nothing happened & she thought she had lost her magic, but it had only changed & it took her awhile to figure it out.


These are little packets of light & you need to plant them early in the year & remember to mark where they were because lots of times they look like weeds in the beginning & it's not until later that you see how beautiful they really are.


our first eggs from our spring chickens :)


rain, rain, rain...


where i live


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nature's perfume....




I miss my weekly self portrait challenges, recording the fact that the woman behind the lens was here, too.


the softer side


head to toe


Shine



I miss my kids being this age.  I miss them smiling freely for the camera and I miss snapping hundreds of pictures every week and I miss the early morning hours, cleverly carved out of my already busy days, for editing.

after the rain....


creativity.


I even miss the crafty side of me that hasn't been seen since the blog was shut down two years ago.  I miss the time spent stitching and knitting and sewing and creating with my hands.  I miss the inspiration and the drive.


new dresses....in the making


These last couple of years have been full of changing.  Some changes for the better, some not.  Along with the changing has also come a great, long period of what I now know has been depression.  A period of time where inspiration is hard to find, even in the best circumstances.  A time when things feel hopeless for no reason.  A time of personal darkness, although the abundance of life's blessings should indicate a beautiful lightness.  A time of so much numbness on the inside, spent searching inside oneself for purpose, for reason, for light.

I feel so ready to let go of this period of my life.  I want to release it, to learn from it, to take lessons learned and hold them close, to never return to this place again.  I want to move forward, sharing more, giving more, accepting more, doing more.  I want to take better care of myself, of the life God has given me.  I want to be more myself.  I want to accept the me I see and share her with everyone else.  I want to set a better example for my kids, as I have in the past.  I want to wake up from this long mental sleep, like Sleeping Beauty, and embrace life again.  Accepting the beauty of everyday life, the goodness and light that truly is everywhere.



Thankful