Monday, 30 September 2013

What I Am Into - September 2013

What I Am Into :: September 2013

So. September. Good bye and good riddance.

On My Nightstand:

I'm doing another Harry Potter re-read. I tend to get bored around book #4 and give up, but this time I am determined to get through #4 and 5 so that I can get to the really good stuff in #6 and 7. I just finished #3, so whether I succeed remains to be seen.

I am also enjoying an advanced reader copy of Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible's View of Women. I'm used to Sarah's lovely flowing blog-post snapshots, so it was a bit of a mind shift to hear her voice in this longer book. The further I read, though, the clearer I can hear that compassionate and poetic voice coming through.

On the screen:

Each Friday is pizza and a movie night here in the Hippie Household. We all assemble our own pizzas, then sit down in front of a nature documentary because we have a strange little three year old who sobs his eyes out during even the happiest moments in most movies. Which is fine; we all love the nature documentaries. Creation is fascinating. So far we have finished BBC's Planet Earth and Blue Planet series, and we've now started watching through Life, with Human Planet next in line.

In My Kitchen:

I'm enjoying the return to fall cooking - tortellini sausage soup, beef stew, and everything butternut squash.

In My Ears:

I know I'm a little slow on the uptake here, but The Civil Wars have a new album! It is amazing. Of course. So beautiful and just perfect. My ears also perked up at the mention of a new Gungor album, which I will most definitely be checking out as well.

What I'm Looking Forward to in October:

Um, it won't be September anymore?

No, seriously, I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving (here in Canada, at least). We're getting together with the in-laws for a big Thanksgiving weekend at a cabin they've rented. Should be a good time.

Well, friends, that is What I've Been Into this past month. What about you?

Linking up to What I'm Into with HopefulLeigh...

Thursday, 26 September 2013

One and wonderful

Ah, my baby girl, such is the lot of the third child to have their first birthday reflected upon more than a month late, isn't it? My apologies, my love.

You, though, are not a child to be ignored. Such personality! Fun and quirky, you demand laughter, interaction, and applause - from us, at least. You're less assertive around those you don't know, but even then your shy face is so inviting of coos and attention, and of course no one can get enough of those cheeks of yours.

Because you never like to be without something in your hand, you've carried around the oddest little security objects over the past year. It's often a Duplo person or a ball or, when I'm within reach, a fistful of my hair, but you're not fussy, you'll take whatever's nearest. Most recently, you became attached to a small tube of stretch mark cream (it didn't seem to do much for me anyway, so you're welcome to it). You'd fall asleep with it clutched in your adorably chubby little fist and reach for it first thing in the morning. Well, if only we were all so easily pleased, right?

Not that you're always content. Most of the time, yes, but your mood can swing with the best of them, happy one moment and distraught the next. You throw yourself backward, cry at the insult of smacking your head, then use your feet to push yourself across the floor on your back. You make a sad little "ooooo" sound, complete with round pursed lips. I try not to laugh at you, but oh, the cuteness. I can't get enough of you.

Your Daddy is utterly smitten with you as well. It's been heart-warming to watch him with you this past year. He was a pretty shy new father when your oldest brother was born. He didn't really know what to do with that little crying bundle. But that baby grew into a wild toddler and he warmed up to fatherhood with relish. When his second son arrived, he was pretty convinced that toddlers were his job and babies were mine. But you! You came along and he was certain that you liked him right from the beginning. I think he was just a little less gun shy the third time around, but who knows, maybe you really did like him better than your infant brothers did.

And now it's you taking your first tentative steps. Three, four, five, and then you fall down and look up with that proud grin on your face, just waiting for the laughter and applause. We give it happily, little one, just as happily as you give out kisses. You open your mouth wide and press it against our cheeks and we melt, all of us. Well, except for that one time when your kiss became a bite on your brother's lip. He wasn't happy about that and he let the whole grocery store know it, and then you joined in, the two of you sobbing your eyes out in front of the applesauce. Such is siblinghood - and motherhood - sometimes.

The one thing you won't tolerate is your father and I hugging. Kissing, of course, is right out. You start squawking as soon as we dare bridge those last few inches between us. Apparently you have no interest in any younger siblings right now. Don't worry, baby, I'm in no rush; I'm quite happy to enjoy your own sweet babyhood. But I'm not going to stop hugging your father, so get used to it.

You're still my snuggler, my cuddler, my sweet little thumb-sucker, and now you're growing into my sunshiny toddler as well. Happy (very belated) birthday, my love. I look forward to discovering more about the fascinating person God created you to be with each passing day.

Monday, 23 September 2013

What fear does

It's been three weeks since my heart was shattered.

It's my story and it isn't, and so I share only in part. But I will ask of you what I've asked of others: Pray for my marriage. Pray for me, for my husband, for healing, for strength. Pray for us.

* * *

I chose forgiveness, but forgiveness does not erase pain. It's here and it's real and acceptance, surrender, it's the only way I know to pass through to the other side. There aren't any shortcuts or sidesteps, no bandages or pretending it away that will do the real work of healing. I hurt. I simply do, and right now is a time of sitting with that pain, acknowledging it and experience it but not clinging to it. Likewise with anger: I acknowledge and accept its presence, while not clinging tightly to it either.

But a third emotion has also risen up, threatening to bloom so out of control as to drown out the intensity of the other two: fear.

I am terrified that this isn't really the end. I am terrified that it will happen again. I am terrified that my husband, despite having witnessed the depth of my pain these past weeks, will choose this path again. I am terrified that it will become something that will threaten to end our marriage. These are fears that I have never lived with before. I have never wondered, never worried, never suspected, never distrusted. And now I am afraid.

But I recognize that while the hurt and the anger have their rightful place in my heart right now, that fear doesn't. If I allow fear to take root, it could threaten my marriage all on its own, whatever my husband's future actions may or may not be. This fear is not healthy, not healing, and not to be trusted.

I love my husband. I love our marriage, our shameless flirtations, our 18-year-long love story. I love our inside jokes and shared history. I don't want to spend my life in fear, but right here, now, enjoying the life we have together. Isn't pain the risk we all take when we choose to commit to another person in marriage? I'd just never given it much thought before. Not him. Not us. Anger I could imagine, those daily frustrations that arise when living with another imperfect soul. But deep pain and utter heartbreak? I'd never imagined that.

* * *

Christ came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Abundantly.

He abundantly comforts (2 Corinthians 1:5), abundantly loves (Psalm 5:7), abundantly pardons (Isaiah 55:7), and offers abundant grace (Romans 5:17). He is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and in Him we have an abundance of joy (2 Corinthians 8:2).

I want to live abundantly.

* * *

Every minute spent in fear of the future is another minute not spent living in the present.

Every minute spent in fear of what my husband may or may not do in the future is another minute not spent enjoying our marriage and friendship today.

Every minute spent trying to live in the future is another minute not spent living abundantly in the life God has blessed me with here and now.

Those fears arise. They will continue to arise. And I will continue to take each one captive to the obedience of Christ, which leaves no room for fear. God is love and perfect love casts out all fear. All fear.

My peace and security are in Christ, and that will remain whatever may come.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Weekend Reading {vol. 103}

Heroes don’t come easy {on nice guys, bad boys, good girls, & unicorns} @ A Deeper Story
We’re all capable of hurting each other deeply, but beauty and kindness are just as perennial. Each life charts paths through light and dark, changing course from one breath to the next.

Forgiveness won’t preclude boundary setting, but it is woven with shades of mercy and grace like rain. None of us is the sum of the mistakes we make, our worth rooted deeply in Whose we are, not what we’ve done (even on our best days). Resurrection is as real today as it was that Sunday morning long ago.

Two-dimensional characters exist in monochrome fantasy, unlike the broad-spectrum Story we write with our lives together. Saint. Sinner. Hero. Villain. Human. Forgiven. Beloved. The whole motley mess of us.

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: Being Physical In A Sexual World @ Internet Monk
The physical world used to impinge on all of the senses all of the time. And that’s as it should be. We are physical beings. We were made so by God. We eat, sleep, make love, and defecate. We cuddle for warmth and comfort. These things are all healthy and satisfying – and not sexual. We have a need for physical satisfaction of all kinds, not just the sexual; we must have it to be healthy. In our digital, cubicle-dominated modern world, we are starved for physical interaction. Because we’re starving, we try to satisfy basic needs for contact, comfort, and belonging – which the surrounding culture tells us to do through sex.

For our society to become healthier and more balanced, we have to consider physicality as a separate need from sexuality. Although we often find each other difficult, hot, smelly, and loud, we fulfill each other in many ways. And although creation is dangerous, extreme, and uncomfortable, we were made to interact with it. People who long for physicality, who need to touch and be touched, should not be expected to satisfy that longing only sexually. Attempting to meet all one’s physical needs through sex shows not only a misunderstanding of human nature but a real lack of imagination.

Defiantly aging gracefully @ The Not-Ever-Still Life
If you dye your hair and it brings your pleasure or boosts your confidence or is wild red or streaked with purple (especially if your hair is wild red or streaked with purple), I say carry on with your regime. But if you dye your hair and think it's a pain and think it's a hassle and think it's expensive, maybe think instead about all our young girls growing up, bombarded with messages about beauty and conformity and too few messages about confidence in our natural bodies; and our young boys growing up bombarded with messages of beauty as a narrow ideal and an objectifiable one at that.

Nothing negative has happened as a result of my decision two years ago to stop dyeing my hair. And my growth in confidence has been slow, quiet, unremarkable. But talking with E on Saturday and in subsequent conversations since have confirmed every minute of these two years as correctly played. And that's the most challenging and honest part of parenting: it's not just that I've been forced to define my ideals, but I'm forced to examine them, defend them, and explain them. This one stood up perfectly under unanticipated scrutiny, and that felt great.

Why You Never Stop Being Needed @ A Holy Experience
“Hey, Josh?” One brother’s calling over to the other. “Can Mom see us doing this?”

And I hear that. The old mother at the bottom of the mountain, she hears her boys hollering that and I nod and smile slow.

Yes, boys – right to my end, I will be your witness.

Go ahead, sign me up to witness the launchings and the beginnings, witness the dares you take, the challenges you rise to, the heartbreak you don’t want anyone else to see and the crazy you wish you could hide.

Be brave. In all your crazy, be brave, boys. And I’ll be there, in heart or in body, to witness the first dates and the failed dreams and it’s okay to cry, boys, your tears are safe with me.

Because the truth is: Life’s a trial and everyone needs a witness — someone on your front row, someone on your sidelines, someone to clap you across the finish line when everyone else has gone home.

Everyone needs a witness – someone to testify you were really here and you really tried, someone to witness your wounds and believe in your worth, someone to say even your crazy can’t stop you from being crazy loved. Everyone needs a witness who will stand and not hold you back because if we all only lived safe, no one would ever get saved.

Monday, 9 September 2013

When your heart is shattered

One minute ordinary, the next everything changes, your world upside down. Everything you thought to be true, untrue, or it feels that way at least. One piece of knowledge and maybe ignorance was bliss and maybe it never is, but whatever it was, it isn't anymore.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

When your heart is shattered and you can't eat and you can't sleep and it's all you can do to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other, remember that. Say it over and over because you know it is true, He is near, He is near.

The Lord will bind up the brokenhearted.

And then just keep doing it, one foot in front of the other, one prayer after the other, one word of honesty and vulnerability after the other. The beauty of the dew on the grass will feel so wrong the next morning - why should such beauty exist in the midst of such pain? - but give thanks for it anyway. Give thanks and then do the next thing.

The Lord will heal the brokenhearted.

He is good and faithful even when nothing and no one else is. He can bring life and beauty from the dust and the ash, and He will use it for your healing and His glory. He is our Redeemer and our Rock. Trust that when trust is left shattered on the floor. When you're not okay, say it again:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Because she needs me

She turned one whole year old during our month away, and I need to write it down, all the little things that make her the child I am so crazy in love with. Right now, though, she's holding tight to my leg, thumb in her mouth, and it's something different that I want to write down today.

My content child, my happy child, my joyful laid-back easy child, has become a clingy koala who despairs of life whenever I am too far away for her comfort. This is especially apparent when it comes time for her daily nap.

Gone are the easy days of whispering her naptime benediction in her ear as I lay her down and close the door behind me. I knew that could change any day, but somehow I didn't expect it to come after a full year. It has, oddly, made it more difficult for me to accept.

Whether it was the giant routine disruption that was our August, a shift in her developmental stage, or some other cause, I fought against it for the first few days. It was always so easy with her! Why won't she just go to sleep? I have things to do!

But nothing eases change quite the way acceptance does, and so I accepted. Book in hand, I settled down beside her, and now we share a quiet mid-day break. I read while she squirms around until sleep overtakes her. It's lovely, really, when I accept it instead of fight it as an intrusion or demand on my time.

I stayed with her brothers when they needed me, and now I will do the same for her. It may have taken longer for her to arrive at the stage where she feels my absence so keenly, but here she is, and here I am, for as long as she needs me.

Sleep well, my love. I'll see you when you wake.

Just writing along with the EO...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

(Not-)Back-to-School Season: Avoiding homeschooler panic

It's that time again. Or has been for a while, depending on where you live. Summer is, for all intents and purposes, over, and kids are back in school.

Meanwhile, some of us homeschoolers are facing a bit of not-back-to-school panic. (Or maybe it's just me. I don't know.)

See, while some parents are filling backpacks with the necessary supplies, other parents are writing out detailed homeschooling plans, purchasing stacks of curricula, and signing their children up for every extracurricular activity that piques their interest. They're taking pictures of their magazine-worthy homeschooling spaces and their Pinterest-perfect not-back-to-school celebrations. And they're sharing it all with the rest of us.

Us mere mortals.

And as confident as I am in the way we have chosen to approach our home education, I still find myself starting to panic. Wait, do I need a curriculum for my preschooler? Maybe I should enroll the boy in some formal music lessons. Piano? Voice? Guitar? Okay, all three, that'll cover all the bases. And Latin, yes, that seems to be a must. I'll have to bake cupcakes tonight and do a first-day party tomorrow, and I really ought to go buy a chalkboard so they can all pose next to it with their relevant grade-year written in fancy lettering, which I can't actually do but that's beside the point, really. Probably the baby needs some sort of directed learning as well...

Maybe you feel the same way. Can I just be the one to tell you (and me)? It's okay.

It's okay if you don't teach Latin to your five year old. Or your fifteen year old.

It's okay if you don't have an advanced math program selected.

It's okay if you don't have a curriculum at all.

It's okay if you do.

It's okay if you don't have a picture-perfect homeschooling room (or any homeschooling room, for that matter).

It's okay if your kids can't juggle while hula hooping and balancing on a soccer ball in a perfectly-choreographed routine set to music they composed and recorded themselves.

It's okay to guard your family time by limiting the number of activities your kids participate in. After all, you can't do everything at once.

It's okay.

That insecurity you're feeling? I'm willing to bet a lot of the other homeschooling parents are feeling it too.

Sometimes it feels like there's an awful lot of one-upmanship going on, but I gotta tell you, it's usually just in our heads. We do it to ourselves. Another homeschooling parent mentions a new curriculum acquisition and suddenly we're feeling judged, we're feeling pressured, we're feeling inadequate. That other homeschooling parent? They're just sharing their new curriculum acquisition. Chances are, quite apart from feeling superior, they're still feeling insecure about that new lesson you mentioned enrolling your kids in last week. The one you mentioned not because you wanted to show off, but just because it was new and interesting and you wanted to share about it with your friend.

Share away. And let others share too. They're not trying to compete with you, just sharing part of their lives with you.

It's okay.

Alright. Let's (not) get back to school!

Want to share what you are (or aren't!) doing as part of your homeschooling plans for this year? Share away in the comments and let us celebrate with you!