What Feels Like Home

A few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend. She asked me where I considered “home” to be. It was something I have really had to think about. I have a husband and kids and so our house is obviously considered my home. But when someone asks me where I’m from or where my home town is, I really don’t have a solid answer for them.

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I moved around a few times growing up. Perhaps I might consider where I graduated high school to be my home town, but I’ve only been back there a handful of times since I left for college because my parents moved away the summer after I graduated high school.

I only lived in the area where I was born for my first three years of life and have no memories of it. I am “from” Oregon, but my many memories of it are the result of our summer visits to grandparents and extended family. It didn’t really feel like I was going home, so to speak.

boise

After thinking about it for some time, I decided that right now Boise, Idaho feels like “home” to me. No, I have never lived there. I’ve only visited for a week or two at a time about once a year. So how can a place I’ve never had listed on my driver’s license feel like home? It’s where my parents and brother live.

Whenever I am under the roof of my parent’s house (wherever that may be), it stirs up joy and peace inside me. I know that the likelihood of card games and teasing is high and gets me excited. The familiarity with one another and mountain of shared history and inside jokes is so comforting and inviting. I don’t have to pretend to have it all together or be politically correct. I can just be me and know that I will find love and acceptance no matter what. Isn’t that really what home should feel like?

homemom

I hope that as my children grow, our home is the same place for them. I hope that they will always feel loved and accepted and delighted in as they grow into the people they were created to be. I hope they will want to visit often when they are grown, that they will anticipate family reunions with joy. I hope that for them, they will also equate home with peace and love and joy. I hope that they, too, feel that home, wherever that may be geographically, is always the best place to be.

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My Birthday Wish

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I have some very amazing and talented friends and family! I am awed and inspired by the things they make and do. I know someone who makes amazing things out of polymer clay, from itty bitty doughnut earrings to handheld Pikachus. She also bakes sci-fi themed cookies and other fun goodies. Her most recent amazing display of skill has been in adorable knitted (or crocheted – I don’t know the difference) octopi. She makes it all look so effortless!

Another friend turns windows into art. Several repaint second-hand furniture into beautiful items anyone would want in their own home. Some friends and family have skills with sewing, embroidery, monogramming, and vinyl. Others build wood furniture and create statement walls. Some can make a bare wall beautiful with a mix of frames and art. Some paint, sketch or create word art. Some take beautiful photographs (one talent of which I am both appreciative and envious).

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I know friends who make jewelry, put together great-looking outfits, and can style hair and makeup like nobody’s business (I have no talent in these areas so I appreciate others’ skill). Some friends create beautiful gardens and flower arrangements, create interesting focal walls, arrange furniture and assemble rooms that are beautiful, welcoming, and functional.

Some friends are great cooks, creating amazing meals and desserts that are appealing to both the eyes and the stomachs.cupcakes

I know people who write beautiful songs that make my heart soar and draw me closer to God. Others craft completely engaging stories or speak beautiful truths that encourage me. Others are poets. I know dancers, singers, actors, and artists.

I love watching people use their abilities and seeing the beautiful end results of their endeavors.  In fact, I have several such things in my house that I love. Every time I look at something whose creator I know personally, I think fondly of them and our relationship. I went on a scouting trip around my house and found more things than I expected that have personal significance and sentimentality for me. It was a fun, sweet trip reminiscing on my relationships.

My birthday is next month and I will be 35. Not a particularly exciting milestone other than being officially eligible to run for president (which is not on my to-do list). Yes, I’ll be halfway to 70 and even closer to 40 but that doesn’t really bother me. As I’ve gotten older, my birthday wish list has steadily decreased in size. I now prefer experiences over things because memories last so much longer. But I also love receiving things that required time and effort by the giver because they are thoughtful and meaningful to me. So, if you were considering celebrating my birthday with a gift (which I feel uncomfortable saying out loud but so be it), I would love something showcasing your talent, skill or ability so that I could be reminded of you whenever I see it.

I would also love to hear about your creative talents or those of your own friends and family. What’s something someone has given you that they created that means a lot to you? What is something that you poured time and love into for someone else? Show a picture if you can! Let’s celebrate the gifts and abilities of those around us!

My Favorite Things

It’s Friday Five time! Last September I participated in a weekly blog link up and enjoyed having a specific prompt to write on. I found that writing weekly was too large of a commitment for me at the time. When I saw the prompt for today I thought it’d be fun to try to jump back into the fray. This week’s challenge is to share five of our favorite things. That gives me a whole lot of wiggle room. I’m just going to dive in and see where it goes.

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  1. Sleep. Oh man, I love sleep! My body loves sleep! When allowed, it will try to average nine hours of sleep per night. This rarely happens, especially now that we have a school age child. Also, more recently I have come to prefer other things to extra sleep, mainly a quiet house so that I can spend some quality time in prayer and devotion reading first thing in the morning. I have a tendency to feel guilty when I sleep longer than everyone else so I will head straight downstairs instead of taking time for this important and beneficial activity. I would rather miss a little sleep than feel guilt. I also know that if my body doesn’t get good sleep for several days in a row that I will get sick so I try to avoid multiple nights of less than 6.5 hours.

 

  1. Books. Yes, I realize this is a very generic thing but I’m not sorry. I LOOOOOOVE books! I am almost always reading at least one book (usually two). My favorite genre is Christian living. I also like autobiographies, historical fiction, humor, action and adventure, classics, comics, decorating, cooking, organizing…I will read just about anything. I have read a large number of picture books and chapter books since having children and enjoy many of those as well. I don’t particularly care for most science fiction, horror or super gushy romance titles. I’m sure there are a few other genres I don’t care for that I haven’t listed. Reading is my haven, my escape from reality, my relaxation and me-time. I would much rather read than watch tv or a movie. If I am alone, it’s my go-to activity. If you like books, I can talk to you for hours. I am always eager to share about my most recent favorites and recommend ones I think you might enjoy.
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This is my actual home library.
  1. Exercising. Once again, generic. Exercising makes me feel good physically, mentally and emotionally. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” (Elle Woods, Legally Blonde) I don’t know about anyone else, but there is a lot of truth in this statement. No, I have never wanted to shoot anyone, but a happy wife/mom creates a much more positive environment for her family. I played sports growing up which didn’t feel like exercise to me, but rather enjoyable activities. I learned how to play tennis when we moved to Georgia and enjoyed that as well. I have tried to find exercise forms that are more fun than work. It’s probably why I don’t care much for running. It feels like work. I have had a couple of instances when it wasn’t terrible, which is progress. However, I prefer classes where people can push me to work hard. I have really increased my practice of yoga the past couple of years and, while I don’t always sweat, I have been sore the next day a number of times. I have also seen improved flexibility and strength. Anywho, obviously I love exercising.

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  1. Beauty in nature. I love a brilliant sunrise or sunset (though I’m more likely to witness the latter – see favorite #1). I love a breathtaking view of mountains and valleys, of an endless ocean, of sandy beaches, millions of stars stretching across a midnight blue sky. I love the vibrant colors of fall leaves and spring flowers. I love the sound of babbling streams and the crash of waves on the shore. There are so many wonderful things to see and experience outdoors. I enjoy hiking through the woods and spotting animals, hearing birds call, frogs croak and the wind rustle the leaves. It is so peaceful and calming.

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  1. Deep friendships. I am an introvert. I thrive in close one-on-one relationships. Nothing makes me feel more alive and connected than sharing the things of my heart with someone and them reciprocating. It is an honor and a privilege I do not take lightly. I love when I find someone I can be very open and honest with and receive acceptance and love. These relationships are not formed quickly or often but when they do, they are so refreshing and restorative. I gain healing from giving and receiving truth.

 

It turns out my list of “things” aren’t really things at all. Yes, books are tangible items, but I read a lot of books borrowed from the library and friends so it’s not about the physical book. It’s about the experience of learning, of engaging with new ideas or an imaginary world for a bit. That was a very interesting discovery.

So there we have it. Five of my favorite things. These have been some of my favorites for a long time. Are any of them your favorite? What would your list look like? I’d love to hear from you!

Also, please check out mrsdisciple.com to read other #FridayFive lists.

Guilt Management in Motherhood

I have the privilege of reading an advanced copy of Jen Hatmaker’s newest book, Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life (out August 8, 2017). I read it quickly and have since been pondering some of the thoughts in various chapters. One particular quote resonated with me and has had me wrestling internally, especially lately.

In a chapter titled “Moms, We’re Fine” Jen writes:

Motherhood often feels like a game of guilt management; sometimes the guilt is overwhelming and debilitating, sometimes just a low simmer, but it always feels right there.

I am in the trenches of motherhood, parenting a 4- and 7-year-old. I do feel that there’s always some aspect that is nagging at me trying to fill me with guilt over something I’m not doing or am doing incorrectly. Right now my guilt centers around playing with my children. The feeling of being obligated to play with them constantly presses on me. I read somewhere that I am not supposed to be their constant source of entertainment, that they need to learn how to deal with boredom on their own and I do agree with that concept. Because I don’t work outside the home I believe that part of my job is to interact purposefully and intentionally with my children regularly (and I bet a lot of working moms feel that they should spend some, most or all of their non-work time connecting with their kids as well). But what exactly does that mean and look like? And what is the right balance?
k jenga
Yes there are things I need to get done but how much time should I allot for chores, play, etc and what types of play count? Is it fine to say, “I will do X, Y or Z  with you but not T?” [T for me being imaginary play. I will read books, play board and card games, build Legos, practice sports, and hide and seek. Playing good guys versus bad guys with the Lego men every day (and having to be the good guys ALL THE TIME) wears me out. “Mommy, pretend the bad guys are going to steal the good guys’ hide out.”]
How do I say “no” to this face?!

My husband and I have tried to recall our childhoods and don’t have memories of our parents playing toys with us. I remember playing Barbies and dolls on my own for hours. I remember playing Micromachines and Pogs with my brother. I remember days of running around outside with neighbors. I remember seeing my parents doing yardwork and housework. I remember mowing the lawn with my dad on our riding mower, playing basketball as a family, family movie nights in the basement. I remember fun birthday parties. I remember my parents coming to my sporting events, school performances and award ceremonies. I just don’t remember ever playing Barbies or “let’s pretend” with them. I still have positive memories and feelings of my parents and childhood. I felt loved and supported.

 

Or “no” to this one?!

So is this guilt something I perceive to be a lack from what I think other mothers are probably doing? Is it a lie from Satan? Do I feel this pressure to constantly engage from social media images? I have no idea. What I do know is that I feel tremendous guilt if I respond “No” or “Not right now” when my son asks me in his sweet little 4-year-old voice, “Mommy, will you play with me?” It’s a dagger to the heart to hear that request. That request makes me feel like I’m failing because the lie in my head tells me that he shouldn’t have to ask but that I should initiate.

I know (from experience) that kids will take as much time with you as they can get. I cannot completely satisfy their desire for a playmate at all times. Nor should I. Like I mentioned above, it is good for them to learn how to manage their boredom and learn how to entertain themselves (preferably without electronics). They have plenty of books and toys and even a dedicated playroom where they are free to do whatever their heart desires. But all of this knowledge still doesn’t quell the guilt.

I should probably be covering this part of my life in prayer. Prayer for peace, for confidence and reassurance that I am parenting well and that my kids do feel loved and supported. Prayer for wisdom to know when and how to engage. Prayer against guilt when I don’t spend every moment of my child’s day playing, but instead take care of some of my responsibilities.

This is my current struggle. Anyone else here in this trench with me? Anyone have any encouragement or advice for this season of life? I could really use a “me too” today.

Ash Wednesday, Lent & Preparing for Easter

   It’s Ash Wednesday, which signals thee beginning of Lent and the process of preparing ourselves for Easter where we will celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us by submitting to die on our behalf and his subsequent resurrection three days later! 

   Growing up my family attended Methodist churches until I was in high school. We participated in fasting for forty days over Lent in imitation of Christ’s forty days of fasting in the desert in preparation for his ministry. I have one distinct memory from when I was in second grade and gave up chocolate milk for Lent (my drink of choice at school).


   I don’t have any other strong recollections until I was in college. In my junior year I recommitted myself to Jesus (I was baptized at the end of my junior year of high school but I spent the first few years of college floundering). That spring I was leading a women’s small group and suggested that we all participate in Lent by fasting from something and helping each other stay accountable.

   I think most years since then I have either fasted from something or added a practice to draw me closer to God even though I have attended non-denominational churches (which generally don’t talk about fasting during Lent).

   In the last couple of years I have really begin to miss the traditions of Advent at Christmas and Lent at Easter that I grew up with. My husband also grew up Methodist so we have continued to practice them at home together.

   Some years it has been a real challenge, especially the years I have fasted from dessert (I haven’t done that in a while because my daughter’s birthday always falls during Lent and that seems cruel). I love chocolate and sweets! But it has really helped me to be reminded regularly of Jesus and what he did for me.

   This year I struggled a bit to figure out what to fast from. I have been feeling a little pudgy but Lent is not about losing weight so I didn’t want to stray from its purpose in remembering my need for Jesus. I ended up choosing both a fast and an added practice. I am fasting from all beverages except water. My added practice is to meditate on (and hopefully memorize) a Bible verse each day. 



   I also found a local Methodist church where I could receive ashes as I begin this season of Lent. It felt a little foreign as it’s been so long but I am glad I did it.




   Do you fast from something at Lent? If so, what has been your most challenging fast? Do you fast from the same thing every year? If not, do you have a different way you like to prepare for Easter?