Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

According to some very wise vegetables, Bob and Larry, “A thankful heart is a happy heart.” I agree with this sentiment. Since it is Thanksgiving week, it seems appropriate to share a few of the many things that I have been thankful for in 2021.

I am thankful for my husband. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year. We’ve been through some stuff over the past 25 years. There’s nobody else I would rather go through it with. I am blessed!

I am thankful for my growing family. This year we officially adopted our two new daughters, and we gained a son-in-law. It fills my heart with joy when everyone comes home and we cram around the table for a loud and chaotic family dinner. It’s been somewhat of an introspective year and I appreciate the quietness of family life as much as the craziness.

I am thankful for the Orthodox church. There have been phases to this journey. In the beginning I was curious. Then, I became interested and started to learn about it. Along the way I realized that, in some ways, I have always been Orthodox in my beliefs. Over the past couple of months, I did pull away from church activities, because I wanted to figure out if I was drawn to the vibrant community, or Orthodoxy itself. I realized that I have come to truly love and fully embrace Orthodox Christianity. I am thankful that I was able to pull away and have this quiet season to pray and listen.

I am thankful for teachers! After so many years of homeschooling, I was tired. There were needs that I didn’t feel qualified to meet. I believe that the Lord has led us to great schools for our kids. So much stress has been lifted off of me and the kids are learning and getting what they need. I feel so relieved and I am extremely thankful for that.

I am thankful for my career. When we decided to add more children to our family I thought that my dream of having a career was probably not going to come true. I was okay to let it go, but the Lord opened doors. I now own three Airbnbs and I absolutely love it! This is truly a dream come true. Maybe I’ll add career number two and write that book in 2022.

I am thankful for true friends. I’ve discovered that you don’t need a hundred friends. I know who my people are and I am truly blessed to have them.

Of course I have many more things that I could list, but these are a few of the things that have been big in my heart. My heart is filled with thankfulness. Life isn’t perfect. There have been some difficult circumstances, but the Lord is near in the midst of them. My heart is indeed happy.

I hope that you have an extra thankful Thanksgiving and are blessed with a happy heart this holiday season.

The Lord is good!

It’s Okay to Not Feel Guilty

It’s Okay to Not Feel Guilty

I am going to write a series of blog posts about things that I have been learning about life. The truth is I used to focus a lot on the things that were not okay. I had some pretty serious hangups! I was in bondage to fear and exhausted from trying to live up to some ridiculous standards. But over the past few years I’ve been gradually letting go of the “not okays” and adopting a more “it’s okay” outlook on life. Fear is slowly losing the tight grip that it had on me and I am realizing that “it’s okay” to speak my mind. It’s okay if you don’t agree with me, and it’s even okay if I offend you. I guess I threw a couple of extra it’s okays in there, but I will get to the subject at hand.

I have learned that it is okay to not feel guilty. The truth is, for a long time, guilt was my motivation. I believed that the most important thing in life was building the kingdom of God, but I let other people define what that meant. Now I realize that the kingdom of God is built in many different ways.

A series of life events opened my eyes. I realized that guilt was suffocating me. I was imposing my guilt and my shame on my family. It was suffocating them. I was ready for us all to be set free.

So, what does this new (mostly) guilt free life look like? Well, it looks like not blaming every bad thing that happens on my not measuring up. It’s doing what my husband and I prayerfully decide is best for our family. It looks like pulling back and just taking care of my family when needed. It’s having time to go on dates with my husband with the only agenda being enjoying one another. It looks like saying yes to the things that we feel called to say yes to, and no to things when we don’t. It looks like seeking help when we need it, without feeling ashamed. It’s loving like Jesus loved; full of compassion and free of judgement. It’s being free to be myself and not what somebody else says I should or shouldn’t be. It looks like going on vacation and having a blast with my family, without fear of judgement. It looks like horse riding, gymnastics and ninja warrior training for my kids. It looks like giving myself to creative endeavors. It’s being able to say, “We have decided to do that this way.” It’s not worrying that being happy is selfish. It looks like rest. It looks like being able to trust the alarms that go off inside of me. It’s being able to have boundaries. It looks like not forcing myself to trust an individual just because I’m supposed to. Simply put, it looks like freedom.

It’s been a process, and guilt still plagues me from time to time. In those moments, I focus on what I know to be true.

I know that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23) I am not perfect and while the goal is to grow ever closer to the Lord and become more and more like Him, chances are high that I won’t ever be perfect this side of heaven. I’m learning to lean deeply into those mercies.

I know that I am called to live unto God, not man. “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10) I don’t want to give another second of my life to fearing what other humans think of me.

I choose to live free from guilt and shame. I choose to press into God and His word, to know Him and His ways, and to let Him show me who I am and how to live. I will make mistakes, and I pray that I will respond to true conviction with a repentant heart.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Gratitude

Gratitude

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for your goodness and kindness. Thank you for your mercy and your compassion. Thank you that you never leave or forsake us. Thank you that you are patient and slow to anger. Thank you that you are a shepherd who leads us along paths of righteousness, and that when we stray, you come and find us. Thank you that you rescue us.

Thank you, Lord, that with you, all things are possible.There is hope for the hopeless, healing for the sick, and forgiveness and redemption for the sinner who cries out to you.

Thank you, Oh Lord Jesus, that when you walked upon the Earth, you ate with sinners, you were not afraid to put your hands on the unclean, you had compassion on the hurting. Thank you that you did not shy away from the unrighteous, but rather you shared the love of your Father with them.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that you do not forget the orphans and the widows. Thank you that you love the outcasts of society. I think of the most beautiful painting that I have ever seen, where Hagar, a desperate mother, held her dying son alone in the desert, and you sent your angel to minister to them. Oh Lord, thank you that you hear our desperate cries and you answer them.

Thank you, Jesus, that you were an example to us. Your command is to love, as you loved. Thank you for your great, selfless and perfect love. Thank you that you loved everyone. Thank you that you chose love over comfort and elitism. Thank you that you went out into the world. You did not hide or isolate yourself from the world. You chose love over safety.

I love you, Lord ,and I am grateful that you have been merciful to me, a sinner.

Letter from the Porch

Letter from the Porch

Dear Friends,

I have spent the last two hours sitting on my front porch. I’m wearing my cozy day pajamas and drinking from my favorite coffee mug. (Cheerful, cute, perfect size and weight with a handle big enough to have a good grip) I have enjoyed the friendly wake up announcement of my rooster, the beautiful mist rising from the Kentucky river, listening to the birds sing, watching a daddy long legger turf war, and purry snuggles from my cats. The kids have since woken up and have been calling foxes and riding bikes. I am enjoying this peaceful, sabbath morning. (Note that I didn’t say quiet. The fox calling is rather loud!)

This afternoon my adult children will be coming home for a family dinner. We used to do this every Sunday, but everyone has busy lives now and I have settled for once or twice a month. Family dinner day is my very favorite day! I am making one of our favorite family meals, chicken enchiladas with Mexican street corn and salad. My son-in law’s grandparents have blessed us with an abundance of rhubarb, so I am making my husband’s favorite pie, strawberry rhubarb.

My husband has been on call at the hospital this weekend. It’s been strange. Just when we thought that the vaccine had done its job and life would get back to normal, things have gone crazy again. Maybe what you aren’t hearing on the news is that, at least in Kentucky, all of the hospitals are full with very sick patients. It’s been a very long year and a half for healthcare workers. They are exhausted, they are discouraged and they are frustrated. I see the toll it has taken on my husband and it makes me sad. Please pray for them. Keep supporting them. And for goodness sake, get vaccinated if you can and haven’t yet. Yes, you can still get covid if you get the vaccination, but the likelihood of serious illness or death is drastically reduced.

Also, several people have asked us what we are doing about our unvaccinated children. We have them wear masks to church and public places. We have them wash their hands frequently. We are not socially distancing, but we are taking precautions. I have one kid starting equine therapy, one in a ninja warrior class and one starting gymnastics. All of their classes are small. They are starting at a micro-school on September 2nd. We are allowing the kids to live their lives, but we are being careful and trying to avoid large crowds. They miss certain things. The other day they asked me to take them to a big, indoor arcade/play/gym place. I had to tell them that wouldn’t be the best choice right now, and they understood. We went on a bike ride instead. I am very thankful that our kids have each other to play with. They are best friends and they have a lot of fun together. (Big family perk!)

The renovation life continues. Some days I walk in the house and see exactly where we are going with this project. Other days I walk in and wonder what the heck we were thinking. My husband, as I mentioned, is tired and stressed and part of his self-care includes staying far away from the renovation project. We hope to be able to stay there for our fall break in October. It will be his first time seeing the completed project, but there is a whole lot that needs to happen between now and then. I’ve tried to keep a schedule so that there is no down time, and I have quickly realized that contractors keep their own schedule. Sadly, their schedules do not revolve around mine.( I didn’t set out to be my own general contractor, but here I am, living the dream.) We have hit a bump in the road because, for some reason, nobody seems to want to fix a few floor joists. Can someone please enlighten me as to why it’s so hard to get this particular job done? Also, why do contractors keep ghosting me? Is this a thing, or is it me? The painters are almost done and we want to start putting the floors down as soon as they are done. But, we can’t until the joists are fixed. (Sigh) However, I did get to catch a glimpse of the painting yesterday. I just have to say that Sherwin Williams French gray is my new favorite paint color. It is gorgeous! The entire Sherwin Williams minimalist palette is lovely and what I am using throughout the house.

I have done some praying, thinking and reading out her on the front porch this morning. It still shocks me to think about how much our life has changed since February of 2020. If we had just adopted two more daughters, that would have been huge. If it had just been the pandemic and all that came with it, the impact would be extremely significant. If it had just been leaving the church community that we were a part of for thirty years, that would have been enormous. But all of those things happened, plus a few more things. In some ways it has been a very difficult time. In other ways it has been a time filled with joy. There have been ups and downs and all arounds. But the Lord has been with us through it all. Over the past several months I have done a lot of questioning what I believe, how I have lived and how I want to live. It has most certainly been a crisis of faith. However, I am thankful that my questions are not too hard for the Lord. He is not offended by them and I have sensed His loving and comforting presence in the midst of the chaos. My Heavenly Father loves me and that is something that I could never question. I’m just trying to figure out how to best love and serve Him.

Well, I’ve been sitting on this porch for three hours now. It’s been lovely, but my family needs me and I need to start dinner. Thanks for reading my ever random thoughts. Have a beautiful, restful Sunday! Enjoy your families and make memories.

Love,

Chrissy

Bungalow Dreamin’

Bungalow Dreamin’

Over the past several months I have discovered a new passion for making things beautiful. This has come with big dreams! I thought about becoming a professional wedding decorator. But then I decided that I don’t want to spend every weekend in the summer working. (But, I’d be willing to help out every now and then!) My latest exploit is renovating an old house with my family.

My husband has been looking at real estate for a while. I am a sucker for old bungalows. I once joked that my dream was to be the bungalow queen of Lexington, Kentucky. His goal was always to buy and flip. Mine has always been to get into the Airbnb business. A few weeks ago a friend told us about a property and we went and looked at it.

It was a mess! There was evidence that somebody had been living in the supposed uninhabited house. The house was filthy and filled with trash, there were holes in the floor, and the kitchen and bathrooms needed to be totally gutted. But I saw beyond all that. I saw 100 year old wood floors, beautiful woodwork throughout the house, a unique, granite floor, gorgeous old windows, and breathtaking stonework outside the house. In the midst of the mess, I saw beauty, character and good bones. Also, the location is perfect for an airbnb. My husband felt that it was a little overpriced, but the seller wasn’t coming down. I had to fight him a little on this one, but he paid the price and my bungalow renovation dream is coming true!

This is an all hands on deck project. My older boys have done the demo. I’ve taken the younger kids to the house to do cleanup. My son-in-law is going to conquer the backyard. I will be calling on my daughters to help with decorating. My husband and I have divided and conquered when it comes to all the phone calls. He handles money and bids. I do the footwork and anything to do with design. It has been extremely fun and joyful to work on this together as a family. A general contractor would probably make things a lot easier, but I am enjoying this and my boys are going to learn a lot. It seems most contractors are short staffed right now and they seem pretty happy to have my boys assist and learn.

I have a vision for this house. To be honest, I never saw myself as a visionary. I thought that my “dreaminess” was a curse. Daydreaming is what always got me in trouble in school! I have seen always looking ahead as a weakness and would chastise myself for it. But, now I realize that, as always, there is an upside and a downside with every gift. I do have to learn to be in the moment. I can’t daydream my days away. The upside is that when I walk through this old house I can clearly see what I want it to be. In that torn up bathroom, I see the beautiful tiled walk in shower. In the kitchen I see shiny floors, white cabinets and a lovely little coffee nook. Outside I see beautifully painted brick, and a sweet porch, complete with an old fashioned porch swing.

I am sure there will be discouraging moments along the way. I asked one contractor how far out he was from being able to complete our project. He said, “Not farther out then you are.” Ha! I know he’s right. One general contractor that we talked to said he could complete this job in five weeks. I’m no expert, but my goal is to have it done and ready to list by the end of October. I’m quickly learning that most things are more expensive then we thought they would be. But, I am also learning that if we are willing to put in the labor, we can save money. (Here’s to hoping we do a good job!) I hope that in those moments when the budget is tight, the contractors are late, and we have to redo the floor that we messed up, that I can still see the beauty that lies ahead. My Pinterest page serves as my vision board that I can turn to when I lose sight of what we are doing here.

I think that there are a whole lot of life lessons that can be learned from renovating an old house. I am sure this theme will be coming up a lot! In the meantime, I’m going to attach some photos of the work in process.

Living Boldly and Other Random Thoughts

Living Boldly and Other Random Thoughts

I suggest that you grab some coffee or tea, because this is very much going to be one of those rambly, chatty posts.

My daughter and her husband got married three days ago. The wedding was simple yet lovely, and tons of fun! It was worth everything seeing those two standing up there pledging their vows to one another. I was on a Mother of the Bride Facebook page and moms coming out their daughters’ weddings would remind us all to slow down and enjoy the day. So, I made an intentional decision to do that. I did truly enjoy it! I am extremely thankful for friends and family who stepped in to help with all the little things that I didn’t even think of. It may not have been such a calm and fun day if my friend Karen hadn’t of stepped into the role of day of coordinator. I roused my sister-in-law from sleep on Sunday morning to come to our hotel room and help us figure out how to bustle the wedding gown. We had a team of decorators, (my mom, sister-in-law, Karen, the bride and me) and it went so quickly. Everything was simply beautiful! I’m pretty sure that the party would have gone all night if we hadn’t stopped the music. It was fun watching everyone dance and celebrate. It was a wonderful day and I have found myself smiling every time I remember it. I hope that my daughter and son-in-law do the same.

The past several weeks have been insanely busy, and at last I think that life is going to normalize a bit. But, who gets to say what’s normal anyway? I am jumping right into our next project. We bought a 110 year old house in downtown Lexington. We are going to renovate it and turn it into an Airbnb. My husband has been wanting to get into real estate for a while, as it is something that our whole family can participate in. Our older boys are currently on the demolition phase of the project. After twenty-two years of being a full time, homeschooling mom, I am ready to have a career. My kids will be going to a hybrid, cottage style school three days a week, and I will be stocking, decorating and managing the property. We are hoping to find more properties as I’d like to have several to manage.

I confess that it’s strange for me to be sending my kids to school and starting a career. I have certainly loved and enjoyed my years as a stay-at-home mom. I loved homeschooling. But, it’s simply not where we are at anymore. It’s best for everyone to have someone else teaching the kids now. They have needs that can be better met by someone else, and I need a break from teaching. We have not been a family that did a lot of extra curricular activities, as church and homeschooling took up most of our time. We will have some extra time now for those kinds of things, and I think it will be good.

In so many ways my family’s life looks completely different than it did a year and a half ago. For starters, our family has grown! We ave added two daughters and a son-in-law to the mix. My house has been bursting at the seams over the past several months, and if you know me, you know that I have loved every second of it. Now that my daughter is married there is one less person in the house. My oldest son will be moving out soon as well. I am thankful for the time that I had with all seven kids at home…but I’m also looking forward to not running out of hot water halfway through a shower.

Mostly, I have learned so much during this season of life. In February of last year I sat with a friend who was dying. She had been an amazing teacher who impacted a lot of lives. She was a youth leader when she was younger, and several of those now adults came to our house and celebrated her fiftieth birthday a couple of weeks before. She had adopted two daughters and loved being a mom more than anything in the world. Rhonda loved and was loved, and it was beautiful. It was heartbreaking to see her losing her battle, but two days before she passed away, she reached for my hand, took a deep breath and told me that she was at peace. She knew that everything was going to be okay. Sitting there with a friend my age who was dying changed my life.

I learned that life is truly a gift from God. We should draw near to Him and ask Him what to do with the gift He gave us. I learned that at the end of your life, how you loved is what matters most. Also, she inspired me to be brave. One day my daughter and I were having a conversation in the room where (we thought) she was sleeping. My daughter was debating about doing something that she wanted to do, but was scared to do. My friend spoke up and said, “There are so many things I wish I had done.” That was all she said and she was silent again, but my daughter decided to do that thing that she was nervous about. In that moment, I decided that I was done being held back by fear. The fear of what others think has stifled me in many ways throughout my life, and I refuse to let that fear keep me from fully living anymore. As a result, I am definitely sassier, I ask more questions, I say what I think, I let people know that I disagree with them and I stand up and fight for others. I refuse to be timid or silenced. I am going to live the rest of my life boldly. It’s really fun living this way and I sure hope that I have many years left. I have learned that we all have our issues. There are bound to be mistakes and I think we all have regrets. We have to learn to forgive, be forgiven and move on.

I could go on and on, but I will stop here. I just want to end by saying how very thankful I am. I am thankful to my Heavenly Father who is ever close, leading, guiding, protecting and pouring out His perfect love in abundance. I am truly blessed.

And now it’s 10:34 A.M. and I am still in my pajamas. This is the first day that I have had to just stay home and recover from all the recent busyness, but I suppose that I should at least get dressed. I hope you have a great day.

Unpacking

Unpacking

I am sitting on my bed in my favorite fluffy robe, coffee beside me, listening to the rain and thunder. I have a busy day ahead, but for now, I am soaking up the slowness of the morning.

I feel rested and at peace. I’ve been carrying around a big ole’ trunk full of emotions that I had been putting off unpacking. The other morning I was praying and I told the Lord that I was ready. I don’t want to be weighed down anymore. The trunk lid has been opened and the unpacking has begun.

Truthfully, I was afraid of what I would find in that box! There are about a million tears that I didn’t shed over the past year and a half. I kept stuffing away my own emotions so that I could be strong for the people around me. I was afraid that all those tears were going to come rushing, like a swollen creek after a storm. But the process has been gentle and I sense the kindness of my Heavenly Father through it all. The biggest bundle has been dealt with. I had to let go of some hurt that was on the verge of turning into bitterness. I already feel lighter. I can take deep, cleansing breaths once again. The stuff left to unpack doesn’t feel nearly as daunting.

I am happy. Like, if there wasn’t lightning, I’d run out in the rain and splash in the puddles, kind of happy. I have chosen joy throughout all that this season of life has brought. I have seen God’s goodness and I have been thankful through it all. However, I can’t say that I felt happy. I’d like to stay here and bask in this for a while! I hope this is a new season that sticks around for a while.

What are you carrying around that you don’t need to? What burdens do you need to unpack? You don’t have to do it alone. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He is kind and compassionate and He knows you. He knows the things you need to let go of. He knows where you need to be healed. Ask Him to help you. I know He will.

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

   

    I thought it would be fun to write about a typical day in the life of my family. I always enjoy reading about other peoples’ typical days, and I think this is something that I will enjoy looking back on. Right now all seven of my kids are living at home, but those days are coming to an end, as my oldest daughter is getting married in a little over three weeks.

  So, this morning, like every morning, I automatically woke up at 6:00. My rooster and I are on the same schedule because within minutes of me waking up, he starts to crow. I feel rested this morning. My husband often has trouble sleeping, and I naturally wake up when he does. But, we went to bed early last night and managed to sleep all night.

    I got up to make coffee. My daughter was already up and filling out her marriage license paperwork in the kitchen. We chatted for a few minutes while the coffee was brewing. It occurred to me how much I am going to miss waking up to her in the kitchen! I wonder how our relationship will change after she’s married. Will we still talk every day? I know some things will change and I am okay with that. I know that it’s part of the natural process. I do love her soon-to-be husband and I am excited to see the life that they build together. 

    After the coffee was brewed and poured, I carried it into the bedroom. My husband and I have a morning routine of drinking our coffee in bed and talking before he goes to work. We had a fairly deep conversation this morning, as we often do. We have been through some big changes lately and the tone of the conversation was thankfulness for where we’ve been and for where we are going. We discussed our plans for the day and the things that need to be done. Then he got up and got ready for work. 

   My younger daughter came downstairs all ready for her third day at her new job. He older sister is going to drop her off on her way into work. I guess that’s another reason why I’m going to miss her when she moves out! 

   My seventeen year old son was also milling around, getting ready for work. He was talking about tractors and mowers and making himself an iced coffee. He works as a farmhand down the road, so he hopped in the Polaris and drove off a few minutes ago.

    The younger kids are early risers and are up and talking in the kitchen. My eight year old reminded me to make an orthodontist appointment. She lost a tooth yesterday, but it’s wired into her mouth by her braces. A spinning tooth is kind of a cool trick, but we are going in later this morning.

     I had a conversation with my thirteen year old about our baby chicks. I had a broody hen and we decided to make all of her dreams come true a few weeks ago. We gave her seven babies to raise. She is a happy and devoted mother. The babies are starting to want to roam around though, and it seems like it might be time to let them out of the coop. We discussed a plan to block up any holes and let them out. It’s a scary moment for any mom, letting your babies out of the coop!

    My eleven year old son, who is always hungry is cooking something. I hear the skillet sizzling. He is ever the peacemaker and I can hear him rebuking his sisters for a miniature “riff” over doing the dishes.

    I checked my email and saw an invitation to lunch with some ladies from my new church, for later this week. I am excited about that! Last week we did vacation church school, and I volunteered to be a kid wrangler. I confess that I came home and had a mini meltdown after the first day. The voluminous changes of the past six months just seemed to hit all at once. I am in a completely new church, with new people and worshipping a new way. It is beautiful. I love it. It is very much where I want to be. But, it’s hard. I was in the same church for 30 years. I knew everybody. I knew the routines. I knew what to expect. In some ways, I am grieving what I lost. It hit me hard that day. The next day I was very honest with a couple of the ladies and they were kind and helpful and encouraging. Another day last week I was at a store across the street from the church and the bells started to ring. My heart leapt. I love those bells! I love that church. I’m glad to be there and I’m glad to be making new friends.

Now it is time to take a shower, get dressed and spend some time in prayer. On the agenda today is the orthodontist, picking up my daughter at work, a stop at the pool store to replace a neighbor’s toy that we broke, and maybe some swimming. Maybe I will update this post throughout the day. Someday I’ll look back on this writing and remember these sweet and crazy days. I am truly blessed.

Update: I know I said a few weeks ago that I was done with dieting. What I meant was, I’m done eating only certain foods on a list. I have however started tracking calories and I realize that this is what works for me. I eat what I want, but I control the portions. I actually got a wellness coach through our health insurance. It has been very helpful. I ordered my mother of the bride dress one size too small, and it fits now. But it’s tight! I think that if I keep counting those calories and taking my walks it will be just right on the wedding day. I thought of all of this while drinking my morning smoothie. Does anyone have a favorite plant based protein powder? I’m not crazy about the one I am using right now.

Early Summer Ramblings

Early Summer Ramblings

I had a wonderful vacation with my family last week, and now I am ready to get down to the business of summer. It’s going to be an exciting summer for us. My husband and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage, and we have vacation church school, new jobs, and a kid learning to drive. We are in all kinds of stages of life over here, and it’s never boring.

I am most excited that my first born, my daughter, is getting married! A few years ago she described her ideal husband to me, and I was worried that this guy didn’t exist, But, it turns out that he does exist and she already knew him. I have loved having a front row seat, watching these two go from friendship to head over heels. I think they are going to do unique and amazing things together, especially for the special needs community. I cannot wait to celebrate their marriage and see the life they build together.

I’ve made some personal goals for the summer. First, I made a decision. I am never going on another diet! I’ve come to the conclusion that diets have been counter productive. I’m reading a book on intuitive eating, and it’s been very eye opening. I am working on being intentional about what I eat. I am going to eat healthy, whole and unprocessed food and I’m going to control my portions. I am also going to walk for an hour six days a week and I’m going to throw in some HIIT a few times a week. My daughter tried to show me some exercises yesterday and I thought I was going to die, but I’ve got down three things that I can manage for now. I’ll add things in as I am able. My goal used to be to wear a size 6 again. Now my goal is to be healthy and strong, to be a good example to my children and to feel comfortable in my own skin.

Other summer goals include daily journaling and creative writing. I am looking for a writing community to be a part of. I also want to study and learn all that I can about Eastern Orthodoxy. I’m keeping my garden simple this summer, but one goal is to tend to it daily and keep it tidy. I am doing a little bit of summer school with the kids, getting them ready for a big change in the fall. I’ve been a homeschooler for 18 years, but we have decided to enroll the kids in a small private school next year. So, a big goal is getting us all ready for that transition. Last, a constant goal is to read more. At the moment I am reading about three different books. I need to finish them up and then, maybe focus on one at a time.

I am on a journey right now, and the above goals tie into it. I’m learning that self-care isn’t selfish. I see the importance of prioritizing taking care of me, so that I am able to take care of others. I’m learning to be kind and gentle with the girl in the mirror. Somehow, as I become less critical of myself, I find myself becoming less critical of the people around me. As I realize that God loves me in spite of my imperfections, and as I come to understand the depths of His mercy towards me, I find myself becoming more merciful towards others. This process is gradual, and maybe nobody else even notices, but I feel my heart changing. I am extremely thankful for this season of life. It’s beautiful and joyous and I feel freer than I have ever felt.

I suppose I should get on with the day. I pray that somehow the ramblings of my heart bless you. Thank you for reading.

A Mother’s Day Post- Bloom and Grow

A Mother’s Day Post- Bloom and Grow

My daughter has been telling me for years that someday I need to write a book and call it, “I Was Almost a Writer”. I’m not good at many things. I struggled through school, especially anything that had to do with math or science. However, I loved to read, and I dreamed of being an author some day, just like Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary. When I was young, I took any and every opportunity to write and it was the one thing that people told me I was good at.

Once I became a stay-at-home mom, I saw that as my chance to really throw myself into writing for publication. I got accepted into an MFA for creative writing program. I sent out some manuscripts and got feedback from a publisher, inviting me to send her more. I signed a contract to have my first poem published. Then, I don’t really know what happened. I guess I felt like writing was going to take me away from being a mom. I said no to the MFA and I never sent that publisher more manuscripts. I focused solely on being a mom, which I definitely don’t regret, but the truth is, I look back now and think, “I could have done it. I could have been a mom AND a writer.”

A few years later, another opportunity came along. I became the religion writer for our local newspaper. I wrote a weekly column and a monthly church of the month article. I loved it. I felt alive when I was writing. I was waking up at 4:00 in the morning to get it done. I wasn’t making a ton of money, but I was making just enough to pay a housekeeper to come in and clean every couple of weeks. It wasn’t that I was lazy and did not want to clean my house. On top of writing, I was homeschooling, caring for my family and serving my church. Getting someone else to do the deep cleaning gave me just enough time to get everything done.

Then, somebody that I respected very much, indicated that I was not fulfilling my duties as a wife and mom, because I was not cleaning my own house. They said that I had a responsibility to teach my daughters to be keepers of their home. I remember going home and sobbing, and shortly thereafter I gave up my writing job. My husband tried to be the voice of reason. He told me that was just that person’s opinion and that he didn’t want me to stop writing. He was so supportive, but I couldn’t hear him. All I could hear was the voice telling me that I had to choose between being a good mom or being a writer. Maybe they didn’t know how their words impacted me. Maybe they didn’t mean them the way that they came out, but that’s the way that I interpreted it and I walked away from writing once again.

I did manage to write a play for our homeschool co-op a couple of years after that, and seeing it come to life was one of the happiest times in my life. That poem I wrote many years ago was finally illustrated and published, and I screamed and jumped up and down and wept tears of joy when it arrived in the mail. I’ve blogged here and there, but my dream of ever being published again was put to rest years ago.

Writing fills me with joy! Working with others to create something beautiful is amazing, and there is nothing like seeing somebody enjoy what has been created. I love to tell stories, and my heart floods with gladness when someone tells me that a story I shared touched their heart. For a long time I worried that the feeling of elation that I felt in those moments was pride, and of course, we aren’t supposed to be prideful. Right? So, instead of enjoying writing and the moments that come with it, I have felt guilty.

But, I’ve learned a lot in the past year and a half. The biggest thing I have learned is that it’s okay to be happy. (I will write about that one of these days.) It’s okay to be good at something and to enjoy sharing it with others. I’ve learned that using my talent actually makes me a better mom. I want my daughters to know that God has given them talents and put things inside of them, and when they share those things, they bless others. I’ve learned that getting outside help does not make me a failure. I used to try to live up to the standard of the Proverbs 31 woman. One day I was reading it and it hit me that one reason she was able to be so successful was because she had help! So, I am learning not to feel guilty when I have to prioritize and hand over some of my responsibilities so that I can write.

Dear moms, what has God put inside of you? What is your talent? I pray that whatever it is will bloom and grow. I pray that you will bless the people around you as you share your gift with the world. Yes, you may have to take breaks from time to time, and that’s okay. Yes, you have to prioritize. Your main responsibility is caring for your family, but you also have a responsibility to use those talents. So, dig up those buried treasures inside of you and rejoice as you bless the world!