Tuesday, January 31, 2017


This picture right here.  This is my best.  Today I arrived at 40, and these people, they are the best of me.  This man and these kids, they are what I'm most proud of in my 40 years of life.  In light of today, I'm reposting Approaching 40 here.  No matter where you are today, may you know that your life matters.


I looked down and caught a glimpse of my hands and thought, "Who's old lady hands are these?"  When did my hands start to look like this?  I shake my head in disbelief.  But these hands, these hands have held my babies, scooped up the hurt child, bandaged a scraped knee.  These hands have changed thousands of diapers, washed the never ending stream of dishes from the food that nourishes our family.  These hands have hugged my friends, written notes of encouragement, painted walls, worn a ring of commitment for the past 14 years.  I am thankful for these hands.

My belly also looks different than it used to.  But this belly, this belly has stretched to enormous proportions to grow tiny humans and take part in three miracles.  It's skin has gone out and in and out and in and out and in again.  This belly is a soft landing place for my nursing baby, my 4 year old still wanting to sit on my lap to read, and my 6 year old now tall enough to hug me there when we stand together.  These changes, they are war wounds of the best kind.  Road maps for my children of their origin.  I am thankful for this belly.

I glanced up quickly as I washed my hands and saw tired eyes, etched with lines that seemed to appear there overnight.  But these eyes, these eyes have seen places all over the world.  These eyes have seen beauty and they have seen pain and they have seen a whole lifetime of things that I wouldn't trade for anything.  These eyes saw my wedding day and my handsome groom overcome with emotion for glory of that day.  These eyes have seen 8 cities that I've made my home, looked upon a new friend for the first time,  looked enough times upon that friend that a mere glance tells me what they are thinking.  These eyes have seen my babies from the moment they were born, seen their newness and their vulnerability, seen them grow strong in health and personality.  And these lines, they are from smiling.  They are from dancing overcome with joy.  They are from cheering on my daughter as she rides her bike for the first time.  They are from sitting with friends over a glass of wine and laughing until our sides hurt.  These eyes and these lines, they tell the story of my life if you look close enough. I am thankful for these eyes.  

The gray streaks in my hair keep me honest.  I can fool a lot of people about my age, but the gray that is taking over outs me now.  But this hair, this gray hair shows people that I have lived life, with its worries and its joys and its love.  It makes me seem more credible, wiser.  I am not mistaken for a college student anymore, but I'm ok with that.  I have spent nights up with colicky babies and sick children.   I am not afraid to call out areas that need work in my marriage and work on them.  I have given time I didn't have to serve others, and I'd do it all over again.  These things take a toll, but the wisdom I've gained fair surpasses the gray hair that now grows in response.  I am thankful for this hair.

My legs are shaped differently than they used to be.  But these legs, these legs have run a race of life of which I am proud.  These legs have danced for years and years on stages all over this country.  These legs have run 2 half marathons.  These legs have carried 3 babies inside me and 3 babies still wanting to be carried even now even though they are too big.  These legs walk my daughter to school, run with my son, and sway with my baby in spite of weariness.  These legs are strong and mighty.  I am thankful for these legs.

This is my last year in my 30's.  This decade has been the most changing and stretching and challenging of them all.  But it has also been the best and most rewarding.  I have experienced change and growth beyond belief.  I have made lifelong friends.  I have created my family with my own body.  I know more of who I am and who I want to be. 

And despite all these physical changes, I am more comfortable in my skin than ever before.  


Friday, January 27, 2017

when quiet takes action

I'm 27 days into to making some changes, and I have to say that thus far, it's been amazing!!  I feel better than I've felt in years.  I have hope and life and momentum and joy.  And I have flossed 27 days in a row.  Woo HOO!!!

I keep seeing things about people not making resolutions or goals or trying to come up with a word this year.  They are simply resting, listening to their bodies and what life has for them.  And I wish that could be me right now, but this is a year of action.

This is not my year to rest and listen. This is my year to create space SO THAT I can rest and listen, and actually hear what's being said.

I'm a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), and as such, deeply affected by my surroundings and environment.  Clutter and too much has a paralyzing and depressing effect on me.  My threshold for what is overwhelming is probably lower than the average joe.

Sometimes I think that I'm living in the wrong era - this era of more, bigger, better, louder, faster, busier.  "Keeping up with the Joneses" in all this would literally send me to the looney bin.  But "they" say this is the right way to do things.  This is what's normal today and what I need to do in order to fit in and keep up.

Cacophony.  Yeah, that's what all this sounds like to me.  

The more I self-reflect, I more I realize that I insulate myself from the cacophony around me so that I can function.  Often, life feels too loud, too harsh, too much.

When I shut out the world, when I insulate myself, when I proverbially stick my fingers in my ears, the chaos is muted and sounds a little more like white noise...static.  It's manageable.  But when I do that, I shut out His voice too.  I can no longer hear Him.  And I shut out the good things, the joy.

With my fingers in my ears and everything else blocked out, sadly the only things I can hear loud and clear are the voices in my own head. And let me tell you, when I'm singing, "La, la, la" to the world, the voices in my head are not very kind.  

As I wrote about before, my word for the year is CHANGE. This action word ironically chosen mostly to quiet my life so that it no longer sounds like white noise.

Quieting my home.

Quieting my mind and body.

Quieting my time.

Quieting my family.

Quieting technology.

It seems ironic to have to actively quiet your life...to put forth much effort and work, so that the loudness in your home, mind, family, time, and technology will hush.  But sometimes, life is full of irony and I'm coming to the realization that trying to be still amidst the noise isn't working for me.

There is nothing quiet about being still amidst the noise.  Then it's just loud, still noise.  So, I'm pulling my fingers out of my ears, looking up, and making some changes.  

No one said I had to play by "their" rules, and I'm not gonna.

Hopefully with all this quieting, I will actually be able to hear.

What areas of your life can use some quieting these days?  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 word for the year: CHANGE

Hello 2017.  You are a welcome face, and I've long anticipated your arrival.

2016 kicked my butt.  Well, I think it kicked my butt, except I can't remember much about it.  It all feels like a fog, which is why I'm pretty sure it kicked my butt.  2016 felt like survival mode times 10. Do all the things, get all the places, keep all the kids alive.

So, here we are... at the beginning again.  Praise God that beginnings come around again.  I would hate to live in a world that seems like one never-ending big loop around the sun.  Aren't we all longing for a fresh start and a clean slate and the opportunity for growth and newness at some point?  Sometimes in the midst of daily life, when we are bogged down in the grind, newness is hard to muster.

Today is no different than any other, except for the fact that it marks the completion of one circle around the sun and the beginning of a new one.  I'm so thankful for this life and that with this circling of the sun, we have a reminder to stop and reflect, to appreciate what has passed, dig into the present, and hope for the future.   Zora Neale Hurston once wrote,

"There are years that ask the questions and years that answer them."

2016 asked a lot of questions, and I'm hopeful that 2017 will begin to answer them.

And with that, my word for 2016 is CHANGE!

Every year for the past 5 years, I've chosen a word to guide me, inspire me, and focus my thoughts and actions.  I love it so much more than doing New Years resolutions.  The thing with a word is that it's simply a motivator.  You can't fail at it.  It doesn't feel limiting or like being bound by something. I usually choose my word based on what I feel I'm lacking or needing most in my life.

Change.  I desperately need change.  I need to change.  I need to be change.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."   

By this definition, I live in insanity.  I want my tomorrow to look different, but my today looks the same.  My tomorrow cannot possibly look differently if I don't do anything differently today.   Thus...change.

My husband and I feel like we've been living by default for a long time.  Default is auto-pilot in survival mode.  But we long to live intentionally...to be more than victims or passive participants in our lives.  I want to be a catalyst for change in our lives that will have positive impact on ourselves, our kids, our family, and the world around us.  That feels like it takes effort that I don't have in my reserves, but what I do today determines my tomorrow, so I'm going to have to find it.

I've done some brainstorming and have several areas in which I'm hoping to drive change:

For too long, I've put myself last on my own priority list, and I'm reaping the repercussions of that.  It's time to care for myself, my health, my body, my skin, my teeth, my mind.

Growth (Personal, Spiritual, Professional)
Along with caring for myself, comes with creating space and opportunity for growth.  I'm working on writing and professional goals and making the pursuit of those possible, letting go of what people think and being hindered by that, and doing something creative every day that fills me up.

I love our family and our kids, but we could use way more routine and structure.  I'm focusing on more follow-through, more intentional quality time with kids, more fun, and slowing down.

We've been married 15 years now!  With 3 kids and work and life, it's easy to give each other what's left over at the end of the day (which most of the time is almost nothing - a grumpy, tired wife who just wants to watch TV and go to bed).  I'm pushing for more active support of each other's daily lives and intentional connection with each other.

Deep sigh.  I have a love/hate relationship with this little place we call home.  We are beginning what Ryan calls, "purge-atory."  Striving to purge, clear the clutter, and make our space manageable and a haven for our family.

Man, that's a long list, and because I'm a list maker, I actually have bullet action points under each category that I will spare you today.  :)   There's no way that I can tackle all of this at once, but I'm going to start to make small changes that will hopefully snowball.

And if you are looking at my list, thinking I'm crazy or feeling like I have something together, let me break this down into reality for you.

Today, my big change was to wear red lipstick.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  Red lipstick is bold and noticeable and sort of wild.  I felt scared to wear red lipstick.  Over-exposed.  Not able to blend in.  I like to blend in.   I was a bit worried what people would think or say.  You know what happened?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing...except the fact that I gained a little confidence in change and doing and being a little different.  No one batted an eyelash or said a word, and if they were thinking anything, I tried to not let my mind imagine it.  I can wear red lipstick and be more bold.  I can make a change that takes nearly no effort, but infuses a tiny bit of personal growth in building confidence.

As I try to shock myself into change, the little things that don't take much effort are going to be important in motivating me to the big things.  So, January 1, I start with red lipstick.   There is nothing too small or insignificant for a tiny uprising.

2017.  I'm kicking your butt this year!

Can I encourage you to choose a word this year?  Write it down.  Tape it to your bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.  Let it inspire you to live your best life and motivate you to make tiny changes that result in a snowball of positive force.  We can do this!

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