Friday, July 31, 2015

Weekly Happenings #327 (June 29-July 6)-- Vegetable Picking and Honey Harvesting

So here we were, in July, and I was determined to finally get back in even more of our regular routine this week.

Everyone slept late on Monday and I stayed in bed until around nine even though I was sort of restless. We got up and Peyton sent the kids out to pick blueberries. I made our bed and folded some laundry and started some more.
Summer is for...gardening

 The kids came in and Peyton left for work and I took my bath and made a list and got on the computer. For some reason, all that took longer than usual. They played a bit and then I did our morning school stuff with them (calendar, memory work, read aloud, and devotion) and we had lunch. I did dishes and we ran to Hobby Lobby and to Kroger. I ran into three different people I knew at Kroger. We got home and I unloaded groceries and the kids had rest time. I got on the computer and read blogs and started a post and then did some critical thinking and English with AP. The English took FOREVER. We finished that and picked blueberries before it got dark and then we started math. I could tell Annie was tired so I fed them supper and did more dishes. I sent a couple of emails to different businesses (the hotel we stayed in and Logic of English about a replacement thing). They finished eating and we brushed teeth, read, and played. I got them in the tub and Peyton walked in about an hour earlier than I was expecting him. I finished bathing the kids and got them to bed. I got on the computer again and then cooked us a tomato tart and made a salad. We finished a movie and went to bed.

This was the week Peyton shared some hard stuff on the blog. It feels like a long time ago and yesterday all at the same time. Either way, it feels good to have it out there. I want to feel comfortable talking about this in all my spaces (insomuch as one can feel comfortable with this stuff). Ever since I started this blog one huge priority in my writing has been a sense of transparency and a willingness to allow whoever was reading to see our struggles as well as our successes, our failures alongside our triumphs, and our pain in the midst of our joy. this is without a doubt one of the hardest things (if not *the* hardest thing) I've ever walked through and blogging without mentioning it for several months was so hard but I didn't have the emotional reserves, with the move home and all the processing that entailed, to put it out there. That said, I'm a huge believer in dragging things into the light and the time came to do just that. It really did help lift some of the heaviness of it. 

I was supposed to go walk with Mallory on Tuesday but I woke up to thunder. We cancelled our plans and Peyton and I chatted before the kids got up. I responded to a couple of Facebook messages and emails, ate breakfast and made the bed.
Don't let the profundity be lost on you. 

I planned school for the day and AP and I finished up her math lesson from the day before. There were still toys in the tub so I cleaned those out for Peyton and made his lunch while he played with the kids. He left and the kids watched their shows and I took a bath. We did their morning school next. We worked on memory work, did our calendar and then I read their devotion and Bible and part of a book about birds to AP. They wanted to play dinosaurs but they first wanted to read some in the dino book so we did both and then we all had lunch. After lunch the kids had rest time but really they played together for an hour. Then Graves played solo while I did English and some critical thinking with AP. He got up and we had a snack and I thawed some chicken and then read our Five in a Row book. They cleaned their room and I vacuumed and mopped in the kitchen and den (they also played "train" with the kitchen chairs) and got the chicken in the crock pot. We played Super Heroes and I fixed them supper and did dishes and they ate. I got them ready for bed and read to them and then got on the computer for a bit. I cooked some corn and potatoes to go with the BBQ. Peyton got home and we ate and talked and then I finished a post and went to bed.
I don't believe anything about our situation is irretrievable or that any beloveds are lost for good. (Okay, sometimes I do but that's when I look at our circumstances instead of toward the cross. When I focus on what Marthas can do (not raise dead men that's for sure) and not on what Jesus can do.) Also, now that it was out in the open, I couldn't stop thinking about how grateful I am for the people who were here when it wasn't. Who showed up in my life, day after day- filling my ears with the Gospel, texting me Indelible Grace lyrics, engaging in Brene Brown level breaking down/building up, fixing me breakfast on a Monday morning because of such a deep investment in my life it was clear I had had a hard weekend, reminding me that all I can do is pray and love hard, telling me on Fathers Day that my children are very blessed regardless of how anyone in this family self identifies, hurting deeply when I hurt and being protective over me and the children, helping me identify in a very real way my own feelings as grief, letting me compartmentalize enough to just laugh and be ridiculous and for a few minutes not think about any of it, pointing me again and again toward the cross where God's character is seen most clearly, and being unafraid to be present in my pain. Surely I would have kept breathing in and out (I think?) but I know I would be despairing deeply without these saints.

We got up on Wednesday and had planned to go swimming but AP wanted Peyton to just play with them. We talked about it for a good while, and I took a shower, and we decided I'd take them to swim later in the afternoon. I collected laundry and washed out some soap dispensers we weren't going to use and also fixed a poster frame in the kids bathroom that was bent- it felt good to really have the bathrooms almost complete.  The kids played pretend with Peyton and read some library books. I ate lunch (I skipped breakfast) and planned school while Peyton mowed the front yard and the kids played outside. They came in and we had lunch and Peyton left. An old friend from my Summer missionary days in Tahoe, Melanie, messaged me that they were going to be in town in a couple of hours. I had thought they were coming through the next day! I quickly explained the change of plans to the kids and scrapped the pool. I also cancelled all of school for the day. It's nice to have the luxury of doing that every once in awhile when it's needed! They had rest time and Graves actually fell asleep. I uploaded and organized some pictures and read some blogs. I rewashed my hair because I hadn't dried it and it was a mess and then I got AP ready.

Graves woke up right before I was about to have to get him up. We grabbed a snack for him and headed to the park to meet our friends. We ended up staying for over two hours! We had a blast catching up and the kids had the best time.
She came up to me and whispered, her eyes so very wide, "Momma. Nature is cool." (She had just seen tadpoles with arms in the creek bed at the park.)

When we got home they played in the hose a bit and had supper and then I read to them and they had a bath. They didn't go to bed until about ten and didn't fall asleep until midnight. I got on the computer and then cooked a veggie dinner. Peyton got home and we ate. I cleaned up the kitchen and got back on the computer and went to bed.

I didn't sleep great but the kids slept LATE on Thursday. We got up and had breakfast and I made the bed and started laundry. I looked over some school stuff and talked to Minnie. I read some emails and took a bath.
Summer is for...squitos that seem to agree with me about who the sweetest little boy in all of the South is. Poor Bud. 

We did our morning school stuff and math and then had lunch.
She is so funny. The kids picked these beans from the garden and I boiled them and then threw them in with some butter, oil, and roasted walnuts. They turned out great and Graves got seconds twice. AP got them about four times and I finally just gave her the rest of the batch in this container. She told me they were one of her favorite foods and there was "another great thing about them". I asked her what that was and she said "well, probably, like, we won't waste as much money on them at the grocery store since we grew these ourselves." You know, because buying supermarket green beans is wasteful. She's her papa's daughter for sure! 

I got the kids settled for rest time and finished my lunch and then worked on a post and read a few blogs. Peyton got home and we all got ready to go to the pool. The water was really cold and I didn't even get all the way in. After the pool closed, we headed to Roosters for supper. Fondren felt a whole heck of a lot like Brooklyn except that I got to meet an old classmate's family and hug a former teacher. It's tooka solid two months, but it felt so, so good.

We came home and got the kids to bed. I read blogs and tried to finish my post but it didn't really happen. I changed over some laundry and went to bed, too.

Friday was such a big, fun, exhausting day. Peyton and AP got up early to go to a friend of Peyton's house to help him harvest honey from his bee hives (we just weren't sure how Graves would do with literally thousands of bees and if he wouldn't be calm enough or if he'd be completely terrified, so I stayed home with him). I got up around seven and straightened, typed up the previous day's happenings, collected laundry, and took my bath. A guy from Craigslist came to pick up a rug and then Mallory and Brennan came over to play. We hung out in the backyard some and Mal brought chicken biscuits! We came inside and talked and the boys played some more and then Peyton and Annie got home.
Peyton said Annie did awesome and wasn't afraid or anything. She was super interested in it all and I think it turned out to be a great educational experience for her.

 Mallory and Brennan left and the kids ate lunch and I washed dishes. Peyton left for work and the kids had rest time. I read a bunch of blogs and ate my lunch. We all straightened and then left to go over to play at Elizabeth's house. We had a fun visit and then headed to my parents' house for beans. We had the best time and everyone did really well. The children both fell asleep on the way home. I got on the computer for a bit and Peyton got home. I went to bed pretty early by my standards.

Saturday ended up being so rough. I woke up with a terrible headache and it never went away. I got the kids breakfast and did some chores and then I got my bath. We did morning school and math and then they had lunch and rest time. I ate and got on the computer and rested, too. I was determined to do English with AP and we did it but it took forever. I fed the kids supper and bathed them and then Peyton got home. Some neighbors were shooting fireworks so we let the kids get back up and all went outside to watch. I ended up going to bed pretty soon after that because my head was hurting so bad. I woke up super early and Peyton and I chatted and went back to sleep.

We went back to St. Peter's-by-the-Lake on Sunday. It was a nice service and they had an indoor picnic afterwards. We stayed for a bit and then picked up a pizza and headed home. Our friend Rob came over and ended up staying for several hours. I was so tired and emotional after he left. I started laundry and bathed the kids after they finished playing outside and then Peyton played with them and I started cooking supper and doing dishes while he got them to bed. We ate and I got on the computer a bit and then went to bed early again.

I'll pick up with the second week in July next time!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What I Learned in July

A few things I learned in July:

1. Sleep can be (and is) both a trigger and a cure for my anxiety.
I saw this interesting discussion recently on the Hollywood Housewife Facebook page and it got me thinking. I mean, it's sort of a "duh", no brainer thing. And I have realized for years that, of course when I'm more worn out I'm more likely to worry and more likely to be on edge. But this is more than that somehow. When I'm physically exhausted everything seems hard and unmanageable. I've also noticed this because I've realized that when I have a headache and I take a BC Powder, I feel so much better mentally. I assumed it was because of not having the tension from the headache, but I'm pretty sure it's actually the CAFFEINE OVERLOAD. Not good. So not good. I also honestly think this has gotten to be more of a problem recently than it ever has been, this tie in between my mental health and my physical fatigue. I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or because I have more stessors (albeit precious ones). But it's there and it's good to know it. 

2. It's so important not to rush my people. I was reading something to the children the other night and Peyton was listening and Graves was asking some (surprisingly relevant) questions. But I just keep trying to GET THROUGH IT. Which, what's the point then? Peyton gently pointed it out and I realized what an important lesson this is in their lives as learners and my life as their teacher but a parallel also occurred to me and that is how hard it is to not rush Peyton with this faith stuff. I had lunch with a precious friend recently and we were talking about the situation and she told me how something she was really noticing in the Bible lately is how like years go by in just one sentence and how often the things we pray for take all of those one sentence years to be brought to fulfillment. The kids and I have been reading about Abraham and Sarah in their devotion book and it mentioned how we shouldn't be too hard on Sarah when she laughed because she had been waiting years and years for a child and also she was kind of having to take Abraham's word for it in regards to the promise. It's so hard to wait but so important. I've written before about not rushing and our culture constantly whispers that it's the only way. But I think it's so vital. Especially when it has to do with figuring out what it means to be patient with little learners' inquiries and figuring out what it means to love someone hard through what seems to be the most difficult part of the journey.

3. I double post stuff (pictures) more often than I'd like on the blog. I realized recently that there are times when I put up a picture in a Weekly Happenings post, my What I'm Into Post, and maybe even another post. This seems so absurd and redundant. At the same time, I want the picture included in all for them, you know? I think I'm going to try to be a little more discriminating and limit it if I can and also, at the very least, try not to share with the same caption (e.g. if I want to include a picture of Annie in a romper I love for my What I'm Into post, I'll share it but not necessarily include the whole little story that accompanied it and probably actually prompted the picture; I'll save that for the Weekly Happenings post where it fits better). I think I do that mostly, but I've noticed a few times where I haven't. If this seems really dumb to be putting so much thought into, it probably is. But I want my blog to be enjoyable for us to look back on in the years to come and for a handful of others who frequent it now.

4. I can not only hack up a watermelon, I can do a pretty fine job of it.
A few weeks ago, AP asked me to cut this guy up. I told her that Papa was better at cutting up big watermelons than I was. She said "You can do it, Momma! I KNOW you can!". So I did. I'm determined she'll make a better feminist than me. [And Peyton, who so does not dish out the compliments easily, told me how nice and neatly I did it. Probably he figured he out to take a shot at never having to hack one up again. And probably it worked.]

5. Shifting between first and second gear is doable. As is starting and stopping. As is driving on the legitimate road with legitimate other cars if Peyton shifts. In other words, I'm well on my way to driving standard. It's slow going, especially with Peyton's schedule, but I'm learning. 

6. It is entirely possible to kill as wasp by spraying the heck out of it with kitchen cleaner, smashing it with a hardcover book, grabbing it with toilet paper and doing a quick flush. 
Ask me how I know. 

7. Reading Rainbow is coming to Netflix and we're all happy sobbing. Or at least most of us. One friend mentioned she was never a fan and I promptly offered to babysit and possibly homeschool her child. 

8. Atticus Finch reminds us well of who we all are. The pasor at the church we visited last Sunday said this and I thought it was spot on: "I think 'Go Set a Watchman' was the best thing that could have happened for those now angry parents with children named Atticus. There are no remarkable men. Hopefully, this will remind them that their sons are deeply flawed." We very nearly named Baby Graves "Finch" and honestly he is such a wonderful little ball of incredible depravity and true image-bearer goodness that he brings me often to my knees. We are these little anomaly wrapped enigmas and that's the truth of the Gospel. 

9. A box from the trash makes the perfect "dinosaur bus with a Coke advertisement on it".

10. I had a couple of days where I missed New York in the worst way and it finally hit me that missing our church up there is so incredibly wrapped up with the sadness I experience at moments. Like number one, I knew it, but not on this level. First of all, while there's a TON I miss, this is definitely the thing I miss most, hands down. Secondly, I realized how incredibly safe I felt in those spaces. As we navigate a lot of difficult stuff, I miss that so much. I miss just being able to UNLOAD my emotions on a clergyman because they were our friends. I miss hearing messages of such great, great hope. I miss just the overwhelming of peace and calm I got when I entered a worship service. I miss being surrounded by people that I felt understood doubt on a profound level (probably more than even what I can personally relate to). I also miss being surrounded by people that I felt understood faith and hope in such a real and transformative and inspiring way, people that really didn't feel much need to fret over my husband's salvation because they so strongly trusted in God's sovereignty and His goodness but who never, ever did anything to invalidate my fretting. As much as it hurts, I'm glad I've figured it out and can take steps (podcasted sermons, visits and conferences we'll attend in the future, online friendships, ect.) to make it hurt less. 

I'm sure glad for the growth and learning that has taken place this month! 

What I'm Into: July

{don't think I'll use the navy polka dots again- too hard to read; lesson learned, but I do love my little Summery feeling table by the door}

On the Nightstand:

Immersion Bible Study: Mathew- J. Ellsworth Kalas
I love these Bible studies, but lately I've been having a hard time getting into it. Nothing wrong specifically, just not as much that I haven't read or heard before (the first half was more insightful to me and in general, I love the series). I'm going to finish it up in the next week or so.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World Full of Impossible Standards- Jen Hatmaker
Waiting for the launch to do a big review, but this has been an enjoyable read for sure! Funny and serious and lighthearted and deep all at the same time!

And my old staples:
Reflections for Ragamuffins: Daily Devotions by Brennan Manning 
The Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day)- Ethan Richardson, Sean Norris

It sure ain't easy, though (from Reflections for Ragamuffins)

top is Brennan again and bottom is the kids' devotion (more on that below)- I'm thankful the Father is gracious to give us great hope in the midst of great pain

On Their Nightstand: 

Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotions to Draw You Family to God- Marty Machowski
I really can't say enough about how much I love this devotion. There are a few things I'd change (ways of interpreting some things in the Old Testament on occasion) but overall, it's been AMAZING. I love that it speaks to our human condition in that we are image bearers, but we are deeply sinful and ultimately that really points the children to Jesus in a thoughtful and organic way. I have no desire to teach my kids Bible stories just for the sake of knowing them and honestly I don't even want the "lessons" to be the main point. It is about their need for Jesus and this book has been a wonderful tool for helping me with that. We read this in the morning and the Storybook Bible in the evenings and I feel like it's just the best bookends to their day. Law and Gospel for munchkins, guys! 

and this little assortment of leveled readers:
A friend in BK gave us all these readers before we left. Annie picks one to read aloud to us each night and also just grabs one to practice whenever. Graves dumped them all out the other day and I counted them. There's about seventy five and maybe ten she hasn't read! So proud of our girl!

and also, from Tails, and old favorite:
Graves wanted to know why the little peacock didn't have a big, bright tail. Before I could answer AP said "Well, you KNOW the females are the ones who get surprised. The males are the ones who are so beautiful." The bird obsession has also manifested in AP getting Graves to be the male bird and perform a courtship dance and Graves talking about finding "Podcast" (his toy dinosaur, OMG, GUYS) a mate (Which he didn't realize would need to be from Podcast's same species). I legitimately have the weirdest kids ever. Which is pretty perfect. 

On the Shelf:
Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)- Will McDavid, Ethan Richardson, David Zahl
Bossypants- Tina Fey

This didn't happen so my list is still the same.

At the Theater (or from the couch):
I honestly didn't watch a single movie this month. Weird since last month I watched three. This month was more typical, I guess, though. I hope to get a couple in with Peyton this month.

On the Small Screen:
Well, we're nuts! We realized there's one more whole season that you can't stream yet but you can get in the mail. So, we're on that!

Unsolved Mysteries: Ghosts
We are such fruitcakes. Awhile back, Peyton and I were talking about how we'd love to watch Unsolved Mysteries again. We looked it up on Netflix and found several different discs arranged by theme. Ghosts was decidedly the lamest, but also the most readily available. Obviously. It was pretty corny, but we ATE IT UP.

Law and Order: SVU
I'm back at it again. We randomly watched a few episodes the other night because we couldn't sleep (let me reiterate for the third time- we are basically dumbasses). I've watched the show here and there with varying levels of dedication (there used to be Saturday marathons and I wasted probably literal months of my life on those things) for years and years and at some point I'd really like to watch them all in order. 

In My Ears:
I honestly haven't listened to much music this month. My car bit the dust (that is a sob story in itself and truly deserves it's own post). Right now we're trying to figure out if we can maybe share a car and Peyton's been working a lot. Usually, car time is music time. Which makes me SO sad after missing it all those months when we were riding the train and I just couldn't do headphones with the kids. Peyton's about to be working less and hopefully I'll be driving more (I'm learning how to drive his standard and whew! it's coming but it's slow coming). What I have been listening to a bit, though, is podcasts and sermons:

Sorta Awesome with Megan Tietz
I love listening to podcasts with Peyton and I feel like it's getting more and more popular and quite a handful of the bloggers/writers/former bloggers I've loved for some time are now doing podcasts. I just adore Megan's show. Basically, I think she seems like one of the most adorable, gracious, humble people ever. Who is also really interesting. How does that happen? Anyway, it's just sort of about awesome things in the lives of Megan and her friends. It's not the kind of podcast that is super deep and involved and I kind of love that because I can do something else while listening (my problem with Serial and This American Life is that I can only do COMPLETELY mindless things- like laundry- while listening; which this show I can check emails and organize photos and that sort of thing, too). Sorta awesome, guys!

Grace Is Enough- Jacob Smith
Good grief, I miss it so bad! This is maybe one of my favorite sermons I've heard in my LIFE. I'm honestly not sure it gets any better or closer to the Gospel than this. Or at least I should say that's the case for me. God speaks to different people in different ways and through different messengers. For me, this resonates so very much. A few of my absolute favorite nuggets (because yes, I took a few notes):
* Your experience- the highs and the lows of life- well that's your life. But it's not your Christian faith- nor does it define your Christian faith.
* Our existentialist experiences are high and low and must not distract from the cross of Christ.
* The profundity of the Christian message is not your experience. Because at the center of that story is you. Our story is "I am weak. My life is a disaster. Let me tell you where my strength is found- in God's grace". Without such weakness, grace is an affront to us.
* The universal appeal of Christianity is that we all have thorns that pierce our pride, pierce our notions of success, pierce especially our hearts.
* All of us have wounds that are gaping, but Christ promises to be sufficient.
That there is why I miss it so terribly. The acknowledgement and validation of my gaping wounds and the reminder of the sufficiency of Christ. What more do you need?

Always Gospel: All You Need- Mike Campbell
I realized recently that it would make a lot of sense for our church search to listen to sermons online before going places, and a friend had recommended we try Redeemer, so I gave this one a shot. Sadly, the pastor just moved and this was one sermon in a series of goodbye type talks. Bummer, because I really liked him. I'm sure the church will find someone else wonderful and we're still going to visit at some point, hopefully soon. This particular sermon was sort of about what "defines" this church and what they want to be known for. I stumbled upon it (okay, I clicked it because I was hopeful about the message based on the title) and what a perfect thing for someone who wants to know more about the church. I doubt it was a coincidence and I'm willing to admit more and more than not much is. A few bullets here too:
* Redeemer is known for a lot of things (its missional place in the community, its music ministry, its multiracial congregation) but everything flows from an unwavering commitment to the Gospel.
* Sometimes churches tweak the Gospel and never talk about sin. Sometimes we pick a thing (family, politics, ect.) and call it the Gospel.
* There is a huge diversity of people and thoughts (paraphrase) but when you keep the Gospel ultimate, it "relitivizes" everything.
* Christ's imputed righteousness brings freedom. We are continually under the kindness, the grace, and the favor of God.

There is NO replacement for us finding a body of believers we can call our family here, but I will say that listening to these two men speak these good words helped me immeasurably this week. 

Around the House:
Taking a step back from the deeper, meaning of life stuff, here's what's going on inside these walls:

We finished up Graves's side of his and Annie's room and I was so excited with how it turned out:

The clown, the Wild Thing, and the acrobat are no accident. He is all those things so unapologetically, and while bold colors and vintage motifs and nods to ligature are certainly peeks into move loves, I hope this space feels so perfectly his. 

Also, Minnie finished his alphabet. We love it. 

We also added some on-their-level art to the reading nook and hopefully it feels even more magical. AP is fond of telling people she has "another room inside her room" and it's worked out perfectly to have such a spacious spot for their books (and also to use some of the pastel nursery things I have a hard time parting with).

And I finally figured out a good strategy for maintaining a clean room. It had gotten out of control in Brooklyn and too much of our day was devoted to straightening, which was/is pretty essential to me since we don't have a playroom or something where I feel like I can just look away. Anyway, they only have access to a fraction of their toys at one time- usually a big basket of stuffed animals that is easily picked up, one or two "big" toys (like the Little People castle or the Ikea play rug), a big bin of dress up clothes, and they each have two cubes in their nightstands that we switch out regularly. Plus the nook, of course! I think it's a great system. 

I did a little tweaking in the kitchen and put up a new quote on the chalkboard:
The sink and windowsill feels just right with the little jars and potted plants and my favorite little burlap sign and the fence tray beneath. It's honestly one of my favorite spots- I feel sort of old fashioned for some reason, washing the dishes and looking out the window at the children playing. It's wonderful really because I can be content to spend lots of hours there since we decided to not worry about fixing the broken dishwaser. 

I heard Bruce say this years ago on a Storytellers and it really transformed my thinking about moving to New York. Lately, I've thought about it in regards to our journey toward simplicity and what we are willing to give up for it. But even more recently, I've been applying it to our move back. People who don't know our story (and even some who sort of do) often ask "Did you not like it?"/ At first I was so caught of guard, it was hard to formulate a response. But it's not as bad now. Living within a few miles of our families and most of our best friends is a lot more meaningful because of what we gave up for that- namely a place where I felt more comfortable, more safe, and more alive than I possibly ever had. We may not always be here and we may be. But we are for now. Looking at it this way- as a beautiful and worthy sacrifice- was ironically what got me to Brooklyn and is helping me now in unspeakable ways. 

Last up, we made a lot of progress in the study (which is fun because it was needing LOTS of love):
Peyton ordered these national parks postcards (he also got a set of cities) and stained some plaques from Hobby Lobby. I love how it turned out! 

I guess I might feel guilty about being selfish and keeping this room as our little sanctuary if my kids didn't wake up and play for an hour before they even call me.

Actually, one more thing and this was mostly logistics. But I had to get rid of my "Summer shelf" which I love so much. We had the kids' Ikea table in the kitchen since we moved. It was super functional but also did not in the kitchen at all. I really didn't want to put it in the attic because I wanted it accessible for projects and I was thinking about putting it in the carport. Peyton reminded me of all the things we've had mildew out there and I tried to think of something else. I decided to put some of my Brooklyn storage strategies to work and see if I could fit it in the laundry room. It will not let us outgrow this house anytime soon =)

In the Kitchen:

Well, the other week we had five out seven real, home cooked meals (in the interest of full disclosure, I'm counting beans that Mickey cooked). That's literally NEVER happened before. Feel free to judge. Annie asked me the other day why I had started to always cook dinner for me and Peyton and then serve them the leftovers. I told her that I thought she and Graves loved leftovers. She said they did and I think the "always" cooking was what really piqued her interest =) Anyway, I think we *may* have found the golden ticket for a healthy, positive family dining routine. Peyton cooks breakfast and that's our together meal at the table, the kids eat a late lunch of leftovers after he leaves for work, they have a light dinner of sandwiches and fruit, and then I fix a real dinner for me and Peyton for when he gets home. I try to have the kitchen cleaned up and be in bed by one. It's definitely not traditional, but I think if we stay disciplined it could work. 

We haven't done very much with the Summer Salad Challenge this year, but this BLT salad from Southern Living was pretty good! I gave it four out of five stars.

And nothing says Summer like a veggie plate for dinner...

...unless it's homemade pimento cheese on a groovy flower plate! 
In My Closet:
Our full length mirror broke in Brooklyn and I haven't made it a priority to buy a new one. So not many outfit photos. Or really, none. 

In Their Closets:
These are some grown babies. Look at them! My favorite thing on Annie this month was her kitty cat dress that feels oh so Brooklyn and my favorite thing on Graves was his Wizard of Oz literature tee.

In My Mailbox:
 We got the remaining resources I had ordered for our homeschool year and then dove right in, so that's been fun! 

In My Cart:
Not really in my cart, but a new fun thing sort of. These birdhouse sheets have actually been in the attic for years and when I found them Annie was over the moon! (I actually have a comforter up there for her big girl bed/room that I bought when she was an infant because I was the one obsessed with birds then. Like decorative ones, though, not real ones.)

Around the Town:
Peyton's been working a lot of extra days and with the car situation, we've been spending a lot of time at home. When we're not home, we've been trying to make it to the pool a good bit (and practice driving the car).

On the Blog:
I wrote about my Summer Goals for the Smalls and I wrote about how in many ways moving back is like starting from Scratch.

On My Heart:
- These last few weeks with Peyton working so much and without having a car have been interesting. It's provided a lot of time for just the kids and me. Which, sometimes that's frustrating, and exhausting, and overwhelming. But we're in a really sweet spot where I've mostly enjoyed the extra time just us.
- Some days being back feels {almost} unquestionably easy. It feels so right and so perfect. There are still a lot of days where it feels good in a lot of ways but it hurts so bad to be away from the things I love in New York.
- I've enjoyed less time out and about with the kids, but Peyton's been really helpful in making sure I get some adult time with friends when he has been home and I'm thankful for it.

In My Prayers:
- I'm praying for Peyton and for myself and for the children. All of our faith journeys and how they influence each other's.
- I'm still praying that we find a faith community that feels like a good fit.
- Peyton's schedule is about to change in a big way and it's a good change, but for me, any change feels sort of terrifying. So I'm praying that the Lord will show me how to navigate that well.
On the Calendar: 

More friend time, more pool time, and more enjoying the last bit of the good ol' Summertime! 

What I'm Into

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Weekly Smorgasbord

Time for another round up of links! Lots of good stuff here from how the church dying isn't awful, to sweat as an purposeful aesthetic, to stories and simplicity. Enjoy it! 
On Faith:
Posted: 16 Jun 2015 08:23 PM PDT
"Well, I've been dipping into this post-Christian world over here in the UK, the place where America is heading, and I wanted to share a few things. It is true that, compared to the US, the churches here are smaller. And those smaller numbers do present the expected sorts of problems and hardships. But what Jana and I have experienced, over and over, is that the small churches in this post-Christian context are vibrant, passionate, Spirit-filled communities. Christianity isn't dead in Europe. Christianity isn't in decline. Checked boxes on demographic surveys of "religious affiliation" cannot capture the winds of the Spirit. Currently, Jana and I live in Texas. It's a place where just about everyone is a Christian. Which means, to echo Kierkegaard, that no one is a Christian. Here in the UK nominal affiliation has melted away leaving churches behind that, yes, are smaller but churches that have been distilled, a Christianity that has been purged and reduced to a potent spiritual concentrate. The believers and faith communities in a post-Christian context are powerful thing to behold."
Posted: 16 Jun 2015 07:00 PM PDT
"You and I would do the same. Were God to show himself in the ways we so often think he should – were he to do things the way we would do them – we would probably never be able to accomplish our mission. We would continually be wanting to die in order to cross over. We would be like Flash, having empirical involvement in the world to come, but still having one foot in the current world. However, unlike Flash (who had Superman and Wonder Woman pulling him back!), we most definitely would cross over. Why wouldn't we? The mysterious would be unmysterious. The lines between this life and the next would be so blurred that we would not hesitate to take that extra step of death, even by our own hand. At the very least, if God were to talk to us face to face, we would never get enough."

Posted: 03 Jul 2015 11:43 AM PDT
"But more so these days there are scenes seen over the seventeen thousand odd days I have been becoming John. They all play now in my head, the silent movie of my low-budget technicolor life. I know it is now time for my voice to put words in other people's mouths, to describe the pain on the walls of the only past I've ever known."

Posted: 03 Jul 2015 11:19 AM PDT
"Nevertheless, fragility is ever present, sapping our soul of honesty, integrity, and authentic caring. To make matters worse, Christian sermonizers–preachers whom Cathleen Falsani calls "spiritual bullies"–man their pulpits like a captain on the bridge; they manipulate our already innate anxieties and turn timidity into terror. The perpetual fear of eternal damnation turns a fragile soul into a petrified self. We fragile ones go through the motions of life, but we don't really live it." 

I have about a million things on my "to-read list" but this looks fantastic.

On Relationships:
Posted: 11 Jul 2015 08:27 PM PDT
"Perhaps we're all guilty of over-estimating our good advice and underestimating the value of connection. People don't need a fixer, they need a journeyer. I know this because it's what I need, too."

 Love this.

On Stories:
Posted: 16 Jun 2015 07:19 PM PDT
"We [writers] decry too easily what we do, as being kind of trivial — the creation of stories as being a trivial thing. But the magic of escapist fiction … is that it can actually offer you a genuine escape from a bad place and, in the process of escaping, it can furnish you with armor, with knowledge, with weapons, with tools you can take back into your life to help make it better… It's a real escape — and when you come back, you come back better-armed than when you left. Helen's story is a true story, and this is what we learn from it — that stories are worth risking your life for; they're worth dying for. Written stories and oral stories both offer escape — escape from somewhere, escape to somewhere."
Posted: 20 Jun 2015 02:13 PM PDT
"Yes, we need to own a million heartbreaking stories of discrimination and prejudice, and make millions of changes, and hold space for a million tough conversations. But, if each one of us owns one story and makes one change and has one honest conversation where we listen more than defend or offer false comfort – we can do this. There is a way to write a brave new ending to one of the most painful stories in our history. What remains to be seen is if we have the will and courage."

On Simplicity:
Posted: 03 Jul 2015 11:39 AM PDT
"I am transformed by two simple lessons. The first? I have enough. It sounds so simple, so obvious. Rewind back to the moment that I contemplated making this resolution, though, and you'd find me anxious. Anxious that I would not have access to something I needed. Anxious that prohibiting myself from the shiny, glorious convenience of Target would cause some sort of actual pain in my life; that in depriving myself of new things, I would in some way deprive myself of joy as well."
Posted: 03 Jul 2015 10:42 AM PDT
"My desire for stuff, and the choices I make when I spend money have far-reaching implications. You know this. I know this. But who has the time, the energy, the knowledge to make only perfect choices? It's all so complicated. So hopelessly complicated. When what I want is peace. What I want is simplicity."

Posted: 07 Jul 2015 01:29 PM PDT
"All the things that I considered ridiculous up to this point in her book had been easy to ignore, or replace with a faith-based alternative. But this last bit sounded too sad for words. In the end, a tidy home afforded Kondo her "greatest happiness" - being surrounded by the things she loved. Not people. Not a relationship with the living God, or any god. Not faith or hope. Not love."

Interesting thoughts. I think this is a little heavy handed and preachy (if you want a Christian organizing book, good grief, read a Christian organizing book- I'm sure there are several). But it did make me think. About how (honestly, even if you focus on the writer's more noble reasons for a tidy home) it can become an idol. Put in secular terms, I wouldn't ever want a minimalist journey to take precedence over a life of love and grace.

On Hospitality:
Posted: 02 Jul 2015 08:40 PM PDT
"We always try to make our home an open and inviting space, even though our house is small. We are very happy to transform our master bedroom into a guest room and camp out in the living room, and our kids love playing host in their own room to visiting little friends— the more the merrier as far as they're concerned."

On Caring for Oneself:
Posted: 05 Jul 2015 01:29 AM PDT
"It's become imperative that I schedule in not quiet, but loud. I need the loud of movement and music and friends, of being outside and waterfalls and boat rides and swimming. Oh goodness I love immersing myself deep into the water where the sound goes away and the water glides over my back and the light—the blessed light sifts in and dances under the surface."

On Blogging:
Posted: 20 Jun 2015 02:15 PM PDT
"Where else is there such a powerful reader/writer connection — a conversation, a call to interaction, a buffet of topics and ideas and thoughts and insights? It's an invitation into the living, breathing, fighting, wild, loud, raucous international family of humanity. It's the coolest thing."

On Sweat:
Posted: 03 Jul 2015 10:46 AM PDT
"I think the key items to this look include: a good highlighter for your cheekbones, a slightly slippery lip gloss, and a complete disregard for wintertime values like matte skin and a comfortable internal body temperature. What bodily functions are you making peace with this summer? Tell me!!"

Noteworthy Quotes from the Week(or Month):

"It's hard for me to admit when I'm wrong. It's partly my personality, partly good-old-fashioned sinful pride, partly just what it means to be human. But I've been thinking today it's also got something to do with this lingering sense that God punishes us for being wrong. Growing up, I heard a lot of Christians say that if we get our theology wrong, if we make mistakes in how we understand the Trinity or atonement or religious pluralism, we risk getting spewed out of God's mouth and sent straight to hell for all of eternity. (I didn't pick this up from my parents so much as the broader religious culture. My parents always spoke of God in loving, parental terms, and they approached their own faith & theology with great humility.) It's a frightful thing - thinking you have to get God right in order to get God to love you, thinking you're always one error away from damnation. It's a kind of legalism, really. And to this day, I fight like hell to prove I'm right about religion and politics, partly because in the back of mind I sense there are dire consequences to being wrong. How ironic. The very condition of humanity is to be wrong about God. The moment we figure God out, God ceases to be God. Maybe it's time to embrace the mystery and let ourselves off the hook." -Rachel Held Evans 

My life is a witness to vulgar grace–a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinningdrunk who shows up a ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying theif’s request–”Please, remember me”–and assures him, “You bet!” A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left His Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mind. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.
-Robert Farrar Capon

"If all of your friends hold all of the same opinions that you do, you need to widen your circle of friends." Condaleza Rice 
Pentecost! It is the biggest day of the entire year at our church. Why? Evangelicalism today seems to be fond of saying things like "Jesus is enough." But He wasn't, and isn't. Not even Jesus thought that. He said that Another would be sent. And in Acts 2 the gathered believers had the opportunity to see what He meant. Somewhere E. Stanley Jones wrote that there is a line that runs straight through Pentecost Sunday. On one side of the line you have denial, betrayal, hesitancy and the believers behind closed doors. On the other side of the line you have courage, witness, conversions, a Great Commission march. I know which side of that line I want my church to be on! "There was a time when the Christian Church celebrated Whitsunday, the anniversary of the coming of the Spirit, more than it did Christmas, the anniversary of the coming of Christ. Now Whitsunday has largely dropped out. Did we find it was easier to celebrate Christ's birth than it was to be born again? Was it easier to commemorate his coming into the world than it was for us to go with his message into the world? Did it cost less to give gifts at Christmas than to give ourselves at Pentecost? Christ is the festival of God with us. Pentecost is the festival of God in us. Is he more with us than in us? "Go through Palestine and you will find that the Christian Church has fastened on almost every important event in the Old an New Testaments and has commemorated them by the erection of a Christian shrine. But none has been erected in commemoration of its own birthday, Pentecost." (E. Stanley Jones, The Christ of Every Road) We erect no shrine today on Pentecost Sunday. We don't plot to commercialize the day like our culture has done with Christmas and Easter. But we celebrate the birthday of the Church and anticipate the best days that are coming for her witness in the world. And they are coming because of the Holy Spirit, our precious Jesus and "our Father in heaven." Happy Pentecost Sunday! -Matt Friedeman
"The gospel is absolutely scandalous, but that doesn't mean we sweep scandals under the rug." -Nate Pyle

"We are created in the imago dei. We are transformed into the imago Christi. That's the Holy Spirit, discipleship, sanctification, and grace."- Nate Pyle

Something that has become clear in the last couple of weeks: so many people, I would even say most of us, are dealing with brokenness and crapstorms and situations and things falling apart, but we look fine on the outside. We know how to camouflage into a world that prefers everything on the rails. We know how to say "fine, thanks" and act normal enough to pass. Sometimes we don't know how to explain our truths, sometimes we are afraid of the inevitable reaction, sometimes we don't want to admit where we are actually at. If we knew what was really going on, we would be so much kinder, gentler, and more understanding with each other. We would understand that fear sometimes looks like anger, and that sadness sometimes looks like cool detachment, and that pain sometimes looks like cynicism. The exaggerated reaction usually belies something very raw underneath. We would be less careless with our words and ideologies and blanket statements and casual judgments, because we would understand that the wounded are constantly among us. Sometimes they are sitting right next to us pretending to smile and nod while we nonchalantly pour salt into a hidden wound. Or we are the wounded, holding back tears and trying to blend into our environment. Life is hard and people are struggling. We would do well to assume most folks are far more tender than they are letting on. We should treat people with a disproportionate amount of grace, because the worst thing that could happen ISN'T that they didn't really need it when we offered it...but that they really did need it and we failed to notice. -Jen Hatmaker 

Noteworthy Images from the Week (or Month):

Hope you enjoyed!