Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Snapshots and Misteaks

If we're totally honest, the last few (ok five+) months have been rough-going around here. Between pregnancy/nausea/headaches, work stuff, Caden's night terrors, ministry discouragement, and just general sad-stuff-everywhere-around-us kind of discouragement, I just feel done

I have been scarce around here because I don't want to be the person who complains all the time. No one likes that person: you avoid their phone calls, and you certainly don't want to read their whiny-blog posts. 
I literally just spend the last hour scrolling through every single instagram picture I have ever taken. Don't ask me why, because I had a million and twelve other things I needed to be doing, but I couldn't stop once I saw Jayci's tiny face and side-swept bangs staring into Zack's early-teenager eyes. I was done in, and it simply couldn't be helped. An hour later I am left slightly melancholy and more than a little nostalgic. I cannot grasp the number of days and years that have slipped by as toddlers tumble into childhood and awkward middle schoolers leap into late teenage angst. And my heart grapples somewhere between gratitude we are still here, still practicing the ministry of presence, and disappointment in where so many things have ended up so quickly. I watch my own children grow, and they are sand slipping through my fingers. 
Trust more, worry less. I know the remedy, know I desperately need space if I have any hope at patience and gentleness with my children. Time alone, and even more than that: time with Jesus. But the problem is that the daily grind keeps grinding and life swells full and I'm not sure how to do it all while I bend low over the toilet and beg the doctor for something to help with the gripping headaches which are apparently this pregnancy's newest side-effect.
I can write about it all abstractly, and concretely even, with stories and metaphors that spin circles around the heart. But I am weary and discouraged, and when we lose supporters or people tell us no, Adam and I both have a tendency to beat ourselves up and doubt everything we are doing. In fact, when we went to counseling a while ago, our counselor told us we fought so strangely because both of us turn against ourselves instead of each other. This practice remains our habit, beating ourselves up, turning inward and holding our breath taut until things get too dark and heavy to bear alone.

Life continues, and seasons shift. Spring showers fall unabated, day after day of rain and gray mist only adds to it all. My feet sink deep into the mud, and I wonder if the ground will ever dry up. Life mostly just feels relentless. Everything and everybody need so many things from me. Jayci and Caden are constantly needing to be fed, refereed in their fighting, paid attention, disciplined. It turns out small children are quite needy. The laundry needs folding, the dishwasher needs emptying, the dog needs to go outside, the knock on the door needs answering. Work needs to be done and pictures need to be edited. The boys need rides to football, and Jayci needs to be dragged out of bed for school. The neighbor needs a few dollars, and the kid down the street needs a place to stay.

For just a few days, I would like to not be needed. To sleep the entire time through, perhaps. Or read a good book without absently responding to demands and requests and tucking children back into bed. To pray without falling immediately asleep.
Again with all the whining. Please feel free to click away today, find somewhere more sun-shiny. Like outside, finally, but only for a single day before the forecasters again call for rain. The grass grows knee-high and we cross our fingers that the park will get mowed in time for tonight's football game. I try to remind myself again that it's ok to make mistakes. Try to find peace and rest even in the midst of chaos. Try to figure out a way to wrap this all up in a bow with a neat little lesson and perhaps even a tweetable saying to go along with it. But the truth is I'm tired, and I am still stuck in the mud. My only hope is that the sun is shining, and God promises new mercies every morning.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Wedding Weekend

We spent the weekend in Athens, home of the University of Georgia, for Adam's little sister's wedding. It was a fun, busy weekend, complete with 11pm bedtimes for the kids two nights in a row. We are still dealing with the repercussions of that, even today with grouchy kids (and arguably grouchy momma too). I didn't take too many pictures, since there was an actual photographer and I had to wrangle the kids and also enjoy seeing my sister get married. But for now, here's a few from the rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding festivities/prep, and the big day! 
 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Tidings and My New Favorite Pictures

Easter falls behind us, the left-over ham and macaroni and cheese disappearing quickly from our fridge. We go to spring fling and both children collect easter eggs until I tell them we cannot possibly carry anymore. The boys help DJ, and we stop for Easter-dinner-groceries on the way home. 
Easter Sunday the sun shines bright and the cool shade breaks up when it pale spring light falls on our shoulders. The kids get seeds and gardening tools in their Easter buckets, and they dig in their Easter finery to plant cilantro and spinach under the dirt. We walk across the street where wisteria drips so I can take their "Easter pictures," which they only consent to under bribery involving candy. 
Here's the truth about these pictures: to our left, a pitbull sits patiently growling behind his chain-link fence, while two more bark at us from their pen a short distance past the purple blooms. Behind us, the boys laugh while another pitbull pulls at his chain. But if we dont know all that, this certainly looks like a lovely field somewhere in the country. Proof, again, that beauty finds a way in all the most unexpected places. 

As a side note, all hair skills pictured here can only be attributed to my friend Danielle. I feel certain I need a third hand if I am to be expected to braid hair. 

Now it's spring break, and we find ourselves without big plans, no matter how desperately I want to slip away to the beach with just our little family for a few days. Adam normally leads a small discipleship group early Monday morning before school for a few boys we've known for years. They are on spring break too; I assume that means sleeping past noon, but they insist on 6:45am, and who are we to argue? Their departure wakes both my own children, despite my grand visions of them sleeping in until at least 7:30.  
Also, my kids are the cutest in all-the-land, let's just not argue about that ok?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I'm Into: March Edition

I've been thinking a lot about motherhood lately. Perhaps because I have another one of the way, or simply because of the constantly changing (and quite exhausting might I add) dynamics of a three and six year old, who alternately adore and can't stand one another.

So just in case you are one of the three friends I have on Facebook who havent already shared either of these gems from Jen Hatmaker on parenting, you are welcome.
I Wish Someone Would've Warned Me About These BIG FEELINGS
What Would My Mom Do? (Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside) 
And some more articles around parenting that caught my eye/stirred my heart:
She Loves: Flawless
17 Modern Myths Making Motherhood Miserable
Raising Teenagers: The Mother Of All Problems 

And for those of you who really like Atlanta history and culture and enjoying knowing how race played roles in building the Atlanta we live in today: Where It All Went Wrong (Atlanta Magazine)

You know I cannot help but include good resources I find for understanding poverty, especially in America: America's Have-Nots: What it Means to be Poor

Some of you lovely friends/family/strangers like to follow along with our ministry (Blueprint 58), and I wanted to let you know that you can now also follow us on Instagram for more quick looks at the going-ons with our ministry. Also, Five8Football starts up again this week, fingers crossed for nice weather and no fights! Let me know if you're interested in helping coach/referee/provide snacks for the boys. We also started up a cheerleading squad with some of our younger girls, and could really use help managing those girls during the actual games (Tuesdays at 6pm). Let me know if you can help!

I binge-watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt over a few days, thanks to a recommendation from my friend Courtney. She did not steer me wrong, it's fun and funny - and that theme song? Always stuck in my head. Adam and I have also been watching Blue Bloods, although I have mixed feelings on the whole thing, which perhaps I can get into another day.

Also on her recommendation of Courtney, I started reading A Girl Named Zippy, which I'm loving. I also read The Girl on the Train this month, which was "good" simply in the fact that I couldn't put it down. Oh and A Spool of Blue Thread (which was also good, though slightly unsatisfying).

*Linking up with Leigh Kramer :-) 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Confessions on an Ordinary Tuesday

Lest you think our lives are always exciting and crazy and/or discouraging and hard, let me assure you that most of our days get spent in-the-betweens. Making mud-pies and banana bread, washing dishes and folding clothes. These last two tasks feel endless, as a matter of fact, a picture of unending cycles if I ever saw one.

I love my neighborhood more easily in the spring-time. The weather warms just enough for everyone to emerge with music and singing. Adam plays Disney from the newly installed speakers on our back patio, and the kids spin and dance particularly loudly when a Frozen song comes on. With the sun comes pulsing beats from cars parked out front, and the kind of off-key singing that emerges from teenagers singing with colorful headphones over their ears. We sit on the bright yellow swing, and the kids color and eat Easter-colored Goldfish, waving at the steady stream of people heading to the park and corner store. Occasionally we are joined by kids and straggles of teenagers and I mentally kick myself for forgetting to pick up popsicles at the grocery store.
I worry about how to disciple my own kids, how to discipline them, and how to make them eat their vegetables. Usually, I forget about homework until the last minute and despair of getting them to ever clean their rooms. My belly swells and I still cant keep food down, and I try to remember that God knew who I was before he gave me all three of these little ones to shepherd. 
Mostly, we get messy and make lots of mistakes. We double-book and dont always remember to show up. Our best intentions fall short, and we bring a half-eaten loaf of banana bread to dinner. And everywhere, grace. 

Because the longer I live here, the longer I parent and neighbor and sometime write, the less I know about it all. I'm never sure what to say and what to leave out, or how to process our lives and stories without infringing onto someone else's. I dont know 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Mother, or How to Force Teenage Boys to Make Good Decisions. I dont know how to combat racism and systems of oppression, or when to keep my mouth shut. And I especially dont know how to help the neighborhood elementary school kids with their fancy new math. 

I'm hoping the not-knowing is ok. That grace covers and fills the gaps where I fall short again and again. That my weakness and exhaustion will only point me and those around me to His great strength. That resting doesnt mean failure and that one day all the hurt will be healed. 

Because most of our days are quite ordinary. The kind of lives all of you live, behind your own front doors and perhaps on your own porch swings. And ordinary will always be enough when we lay it down for His glory. When we choose to live and love well, even in the most mundane messes of all. 

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