stillness leaves room.

round two. happy Thanksgiving, friends.
When the future looms hazy and distant and wide open without the clearest sign of what next step to take-well-I don’t have answers for that.

It’s a bit like standing on one side of Lake Michigan and knowing that the other side is there but all the squinting in the world won’t bring up a tree line. The first time I stood on a storied pier and took all of that water in, it felt like my eyes were just falling into the familiar. Oceans don’t have visible boundaries. In my little world, lakes always did.

It’s hard to know how to process that. To know that there is a boundary and that every glint and ripple is contained within it.  We do the same with life, squinting to fill in the lines of when we might reach the other side.

Being? Resting? Waiting for the boundary line to creep up over the horizon? That feels unnatural.

But God has said, “Be still and know.” Yes. We know Him in the stillness. We hear Him. We see His hand when we rest from our striving.

There’s this, too. Sometimes? In the stillness? Something rises up. A different kind of knowing grows in the space of quiet, rest, being. It’s the kind of knowing that fills in the lines of the other side a bit. It writes stories on our hearts and uncovers dusty corners full of things that need to be told.

Sometimes next isn’t drawn out in the hustling and reaching and hurry upping. It comes in the waiting and stillness and quiet.

 

everyday : saturday morning.

saturday morning treat.

Even though I’ll always be the mother of this little operation we’ve got going on over here, something happens to me on Saturday mornings. After coordinating practices and homework and games and almost forgetting to go the dentist, I’m tired. I feel like I’ve just crossed the finish line of a marathon.

I can get a bit grumpy. Especially when the breakfast game begins. You know how it goes. One child wants Cinnamon Toast with no butter. Another wants regular toast with a thick layer of butter slathered all over it. If he can’t see it? It doesn’t exist. And the other child? Wants pancakes which are nowhere in sight. I have to admit I am not in the mood to juggle.

We fell into a slump, the kind where I grumbled and closed the cabinets a bit too loudly. But Saturday is the one day free of early mornings and packing backpacks and making lunches and rushing off. It’s our family day. So I took some inspiration from a friend here and I decided to smooth the wrinkles with special breakfasts.

The trick to this whole thing is that the bulk of the work has to be done the day before. I love to eat good food but I don’t so much love standing at the stove for 30 minutes flipping pancakes on our morning of rest. It might be your thing and that is ok. It is not mine.

For the past few months, I’ve spent Friday afternoon or evening baking up a lovely little something that can be ready to eat or be popped in the oven when I hear the thumping of feet hitting the floor the next morning.

We’ve had Apple Fritter Bread, Easy Apple Cake and Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Holes. We got on a little apple kick, obviously. One Friday I felt especially adventurous and made up a big batch of Pioneer Woman Cinnamon Roll dough and changed up the fillings every couple of tins. And, then? I froze them. Smiley face. Last week we had the most delicious Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Muffins.

I know. This makes a mess. And it’s a good bit of extra work for me, although I usually enlist at least one helping hand. Also? Don’t you think that my house is spotless all the time and I’m cooking everything from scratch and my kids don’t have bed head. I am not above the Chick Fil A drive through. They might know me by name. But, this? It’s working for us. It’s the kind of thing I love to hear about from others and then tweak for our own family: a bit of work that buys rest .

purchased.

railing

Almost all of the leaves have fallen off of our beautiful red oak. I watched yesterday afternoon as a squirrel jumped and skittered along a bare branch against a bright blue Fall sky.

Our girl has bolstered up her confidence and she is riding her bike without training wheels. I was in second grade when my courage finally outweighed my fear and I remember that long stretch with the downward slope where my daddy pushed me over and over again until I was ready to do it on my own. I had a pink bike with a pink seat and pink pedals. And I still remember my sweet husband on the hunt for a bike for his own girl two Christmases ago now. She wanted streamers and shimmer. It had to be just right. All the streamers have fallen off now and the shimmer is more of a glint but I will never forget his sweet face when he brought that bike home.

And so I sat yesterday on our front steps and watched the last ochre yellow turned orange brush strokes on my beautiful tree. And I counted how many times our newly brave girl made it around our yard without falling. And I sent out proud words as I cycled through the chorus of three watch-me-mamas.

I am watching.

My ten year old came barreling through the yard on a scooter, balancing as he went. I don’t write about him as much anymore. It’s not because there isn’t anything to say. It’s this: we are walking in the minefield of the heart realm and it’s becoming more and more his story.

The truth is I have never been more burdened for my children’s hearts than since 10 entered our lives. I see it. I see that without Christ we are trapped. I know the way out and I want more than anything for them to take it. So I’m learning the balance of pointing to freedom and trusting God to be at work in their hearts.

The breeze was soft yesterday afternoon and it caught the perfume I bought from the sparkly new Whole Foods just down the street. It smells a bit like patchouli and my freshman year of college. Then? I did not know that my soul didn’t have to be for sale anymore.

I know it now. My soul is not for sale. Significance? Paid for. Purpose? Paid for. Love? Paid for. Acceptance? Paid for. Security? Paid for.

And so I keep showing up for these young and tender hearts. I keep watching and I keep freedom close at hand.

for you on my birthday.

This giveaway is now CLOSED and the winner has been notified.

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Today is my 36th birthday.

We celebrated yesterday with a day that involved someone else being responsible for all of the meals. For the whole day. We did a few other sweet things, including consuming the most delicious birthday cupcakes from my friends at Pink Magnolia Bakery. (Local friends! You want to use them)

What I would like most for this year is to breathe deep and wrap myself up in the slow of determination. I want to do the things that only I can do. Not so that I can chase after perfection but so that I can be fully present. I’ll fudge and flub my way through, I know. There’s grace for that. But. My hope is that I will walk out of this year having been less distracted and more invested. And maybe take some risks along the way.

Last Saturday I saw someone toting home a fresh Christmas tree and I could feel it starting up, that feeling of being behind, behind, behind. It really is the most wonderful time of the year and if I’m not careful I’ll spend it rushing and running and being stretched too thin. Distracted.

And I thought about you. And how maybe you can feel that way, too? I wondered? Would you like to take some steps to redirect? To slow down? To really celebrate the coming King?

advent6A

So. I bought this advent calendar for you. And I would like to give it to one of you.

Our family used the Naptime Diaries advent calendar last year. I like to use a combination of daily scripture reading, activities and traditions. You can read all about that here.

This year? This year, Jessi is including a corresponding devotional with each calendar. Which means most of the work is already done for you.

Would you like to receive this calendar?

It’s simple. Leave a comment-ONE COMMENT-here and share one word that you would like to see characterize the Advent and Christmas season in your home.

This giveaway closes at 6:30 am on Wednesday, November 21st.

for the should’ve beens and if onlys.

quiet. morning.

I just spent 30 minutes vacuuming the upstairs portion of our house.

No music. No consuming information. No noise. No voices. Everything drowned out by the whirring of plastic bristles spinning over decades old carpet.

In that sort of silence, my mind voice reveals what is really running underneath. And I’m sad to say that it was a good bit of should’ve beens and if onlys.

If I’d started 30 minutes earlier……

I shouldn’t have let the dust accumulate so long….

If only I were better at…..

Last year at this time I was working so very hard at running a handmade business. And now? I feel kind of guilty. It feels wrong.

I know. I know that a season of work is not wrong and that a season of rest is not wrong.

It’s just that underneath I can be consumed with doing it right. What if I’m not doing it right? What then?

But.

Grace.

Grace opens the door and pushes us out onto the cold doorstep with the crackling leaves. And there? We can just do it. Just be where God has placed us. What if we were less concerned with doing things the right way and instead we were consumed with being fully present where God has called us, trusting Him to lead us and to fill in the gaps?

I don’t have the answer, except that I want to get there.

You in?

Also! Sharp left turn: Monday is my birthday and I will have a present or two for y’all here. Big fat toothy grin.

for your monday.

redoak

Mondays always hold the beauty of a fresh start.

Last week was filled with stops and starts and failings and floppings? Here’s a new week laid out before you. It’s full of possibility and grace.

Truth? Almost every Monday I already feel behind the moment I lay blurry eyes on the early morning hours. I think I’ve burdened this beautiful day with too heavy a load of expectations. Somehow I have this finger wagging feeling that a fresh start is supposed to be and feel more clean and ordered and in control when it really is just this: start. Wherever you are, start.

I guess Robert Frost was right. Nothing gold CAN stay. I know he was right. This earth can’t hold new and bright and shiny all the time. Otherwise, how would we know that we need something Bigger?

So it seems that the fresh part is hewn out in my heart where I draw near to Grace and the Fountain of living waters to be filled and quenched. This place? Standing under the cool spray of His loving hand? Is not a place of shoulds. No broken cisterns here. Just the filling up.

Yesterday our pastor asked a question. What are the things that only you can be? And that is where I’m starting today. My trash stinks. The kitchen counter is messy. The teacher called and one of our small ones is home again. I’ve barely scratched two things off my list for today.

But. I’m going to focus on the things only I can be. Only I can know my husband’s heart and honor it. Only I can offer the belonging and acceptance of a mother’s quick kiss across the forehead. Only I can tell God’s story in me in my life and in this space.

And you? Where will you start today?

Also!  I have another post up at Beautifully Rooted this month. It’s about mothering.

I hope you’ll stop by there and say hello.

Oh, oh, oh. And last week? That was beautiful. Thank you for being God’s body on display.

dear you: make a declaration today.

swings

I wanted to say something to you today.

I am a writer.

I have to say it because this place where my joy meets my gifting is sweet and humbling and cry worthy and God wove it into me. I hope beyond hope that you hear what I’m really saying. God gave this thing to me. I don’t have a big plan for it right now. I’m just leaning in. It’s been a journey to get here and I think I’ll enjoy right here for a bit.

What is that place for  you? The place where your joy meets your gifting?

I’ve been thinking. What if you shared that thing right here in the comments? Not your job but your thing. Maybe you are a nurturer or a servant or a teacher or a plan maker or a visionary or a care giver. Don’t feel like it’s small. In the presence of God, everything is small and He loves us just the same. Maybe you are like me and you worry about what others might think of you saying such a thing about yourself. Maybe you feel awkward talking about what you are good at. Don’t worry. You can’t be more awkward than me. That’s not what this is anyway. In fact, when you share a gift God has placed in you, you are really just pointing to Him. You are declaring that He is the one who rains down good things and you are just simply leaning in.

So. Will you share? Be brave.

morning song: fall.

hello beautiful.
On a fall morning, the relief of a the first cold air hits my lungs and heart. And even in that cold the world is warm with the filtered moon and sun light through red and yellow and orange leaves. Ages ago someone planted a strong and beautiful red oak tree in the corner of our yard. It blazes yellow and then fiery orange, greeting me first thing in the morning. On a fall morning, the air is sweet and sharp with the smells of fires in the hearth and smoldering leaf piles. I welcome those old friends in, a smile creeping across my heart. On a fall morning, I feel how much God loves beauty and I’m ever so grateful for it.

Every day, He wakes up the world. He makes it live and move and have its being and the corners of my unbelief long for the salve of being close to Him in His beautiful work. So I rise early. I draw close. I walk outside to witness God being so very active and present. Every day, He joyfully contradicts what this world will say about Him. It isn’t in a booming voice or quaking earth. Instead, it is in the quiet, gentle, beautiful work of moving His world and my life forward with dewy grass and birdsong and sunrise. His touch is in the rustling of a soft breeze through technicolored, dry leaves.

It’s His morning song and I pray that you will embrace it this weekend.