When Songs Give Place to Sighing

 

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 

I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free,

For His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

 

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

 

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,

When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,

I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me

Written by Civilla Martin

 

This is an old familiar hymn, most of you may know it or have heard it at some point, perhaps in a movie about singing nuns. Still there is so much truth in it. Hymns have a curious way of transcending time with words that pierce through darkness. Perhaps when truth is truth with no filler or substitutions you cannot question it’s authority.  Hymns remind me of truth when I need to hear it, they speak truth when I most need it.

 

Sometimes you may be discouraged, your heart troubled, I have been very recently and am still battling it daily. Words people say or actions done are hurtful at times. I’m dealing with this mind battle of words and actions myself. You may be discouraged by words and actions or by your circumstance or by your perceived shortcomings. Whatever it is, let us together take comfort in this old hymn, remember the words “I know He watches me”. This is a reminder for myself when I feel the swirl of discouragement and doubt because I want to rest on His Goodness knowing His comfort. I want to know I am like one little sparrow in a great world of them and he is still mindful of me, watches me, comforts me, delivers me.

 

Don’t let the words of people discourage you or your circumstances (I’m with you in struggling with these things) because this is such a beautiful observation “when songs give place to sighing”, and think how much more beautiful the song in these times than the sighing. I want this to be my life motto instead “When Songs take place of sighings”. I know so much about the sighing and not so much about the Song. Let us not forget the song and sing it once again.

 

I don’t know this truth, the truth of resting on Goodness, yet, well I know it but I don’t act upon the knowing and I am praying for a heart change that allows me to weather discouragement, fear and doubt. In a culture of “sighings”, where we share each and every disappointment and groaning so publicly and immediately, there is an alternative. I want to sing the Song rather than think of my sighings because I do know He watches me, this is truth for me and truth for you.

From all tribes and peoples and languages

 

“If you had a problem with the coke commercial at the super bowl, lets not be friends.”

That was my status on Facebook last night. While I wouldn’t really stop being friends based on the like or dislike of a commercial, I was issuing my disapproval of an awful reaction to a beautiful -in my opinion- view of our country. I was very disappointed to hear the Internet din that seemed to take issue with the portrayal of diversity in the Commercial.

Here is the Commercial:

 

I honestly don’t understand the controversy. I don’t understand people most days but this was something that really made me marvel. People are saying things like “Speak English or Go Home” or people are verbalizing their disapproval of the diversity shown. It is enough to make your jaw drop and say “what?” to the naysayers. And since I’m mostly at a loss, I just wanted to share a few simple thoughts in regards to my country and the Gospel.

The United States of America is a Nation of Immigrants, a Nation of cultures from every country on the planet, a Nation of individuals regardless of race or creed or religion desiring the solidarity and joy that Freedom gives us. I am proud to live in a country that looks so diverse and beautiful in the eyes of God and I happy to embrace and love all tongues and tribes here in this country. I am multi-cultural, My father is White and my Mother is from El Salvador, so when I heard “America the Beautiful” in spanish it brought a tear to my eye a little. My Multicultural family is beautiful and so is the multiculturalism in America. It was this feeling like “yes” this is what America is about, the great melting pot where our common ground is freedom. “The Speak English or Go Home” crowd seem to be the same ones that took offense to a little boy singing the Nation Anthem in his culture’s dress, another appalling reaction, in my opinion. I am mostly at a loss for words because I find it hurtful, unloving and ungracious. We seem to have forgotten our History as a nation as well, forgotten those that came from distant shores to New Land, those that had always called this country home, those that were brought here not by choice but have embraced this country as home, those that sailed like so many sardines into Ellis Island in search of a better life. Don’t forget these people….my Ancestors, your Ancestors and smile at the beauty of it.

Yes, America is Beautiful, all the colors of Her people are beautiful, every language that She speaks is beautiful because these people are beautiful in the eyes of God, these are all lovely and wonderfully made. How can we forget that? I pray that we as a Nation learn to embrace instead of chastise. I pray we learn to see the beauty in cultures of different tongues desiring so much to be a part of this country that they would sacrifice everything to make it here to the home of free and the brave. Remember that God is not the God of the White English-Speaking Anglo-Saxon Protestants but to all. Even though this commercial was not about God outright, isn’t it wonderful that a simple commercial can be a tiny glimpse into the diversity of His Kingdom and what is yet to come.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” -Rev.7:9

Plans and Priorities

plans

 

It seems resolutions are worthless, well for me at least. The promises we make to ourselves are quickly broken because we find it hard to be accountable to ourselves. I – for one – find it hard to be motivate myself in a lot of ways, although a lot of prayer and thoughtfulness has helped with an increase in motivation recently. Resolutions won’t do though, they don’t work, there’s better ways to make commitments to ourselves in the new year.

A few years ago our Pastor suggested ordering plans and priorities in the new year to help with thinking about what is truly important that we dedicate our time to and what not so much. This has helped me a lot. Sometimes what we imagine our priorities to be are just that- imaginations, reality says different. Whether I spent so many hours watching tv last year or goofing on the internet for example, in reality time spent on these things takes time away from the things that I want to be priorities in my life.  If I can begin to make my imagined priorities my actual priorities this year then I am succeeding, even if it is a little at a time. This keeps me from feeling like I have failed my resolution. Also, I am able to make plans based on those priorities for the coming year.

When I didn’t buy clothes for over a year it was not necessarily because I didn’t want new clothes, I mean who doesn’t want new clothes, but I set a priority of Less Stuff  (of living simple, less materialistically) and was able to spend a significant amount of effort toward that goal and accomplished it in my home and in my wardrobe, although I have a long way to go still-in regards to simplicity. Making a priority and then a plan helped me to see clearly my goals and take step toward them. Every little step counted and helped me on my way to accomplishing it.

Let me share that I am a major procrastinator and ball dropper. I either procrastinate until I have no other choice but to accomplish a task or just drop the ball altogether. I think it must be in my nature because I remember being this way as a child but that isn’t an excuse because I want to be a finisher, a race winner. So number one thing I have to do is pray because only God can change my nature, I am 100% sure of that.

So this year I’ve begun to outline the things that I want to take priority in my life and then make plans based on those priorities. Priorities range from home life to personal and I will share with you what I have so far. It is a process and now that I have set my priorities for the year I have started to contemplate my plans for each. Things that I would like to see happen. So in no particular order, here they are:

1. Faith- This is a primary priority because without Faith I am hopeless. 2013 was a year that God helped me begin to unravel from depression and hopelessness and show me to delight in my circumstances, so 2014 will be even more so a testament to what He is doing. I will continue to study and trust more. I want to be more thankful as well this year.

2.Family- Instead of busy-ness, instead of this activity or that event, instead of every kind of distraction I want my family to be a priority and for us to find peacefulness in our home and with each other. This means we will continue in traditions like Sunday Radio Day, no media except music or talk radio. Also, we will make more intentional time together and less sitting around the tv.

3.Home- This is related to the care and cultivating of the home. I want my home to be simple, beautiful and help my family to thrive, so I am making an effort to make it so through the simplest of measures.

4.Homeschool- The past ten months we’ve had a new baby in the house and now that that new baby is somewhat an old baby we have gotten into better rhythms at home, especially in regards to school for Emma. As long as she’s learning truth, beauty, and goodness through her schooling we are doing something right.

5.Mother Culture (Self Care and Interests ex. staying healthy-eating healthy, gym time and reading for pleasure and knowledge)- It is helping me to think of getting healthy as a thing I am doing to help myself and my children in the context of being a Mother opposed to some arbitrary goal I set for myself. My goal for this is more health, more wisdom.

6.Art- I never completed art school and I am down on myself a lot about it, in 2013 both Kenny started actively pursuing Art making more in our lives and this year I want that to ripen even more. Whether it’s photography or printmaking, I want to see more art making this year. I’ve started making plans based on this and am just praying for the occasional quiet times to work on these.

7.Writing/Blogging-I want to be more consistent with my writing and blogging without being overly ambitious. One plan that I am thinking of is setting a manageable schedule for me to work on this. Something easy-like twice a week, just to write out some of the things I have rolling around in my head.

That is all I have so far and there always room for additions. Plans will be made this year and because they are based on the things nearest and dearest I pray-with God’s help-I can accomplish them. Also a little note about getting healthy, since I started tracking I have lost 7+ lbs. and have lost about 17 lbs. since having Alice. It isn’t a lot but I am encouraged that setting priorities like this will help me make priorities real and not imagined.

Christmas Trees Can Wait

It’s four in the morning. I can’t sleep. I have been up since 2 am and have been sitting in a tub of tepid water all the while, pruning while I think. Of all the nights when I needed sleep, this is the one. A week of cooking, Thanksgiving-ing and Nutcracker practices and performances for the tiniest tin soldier have me feeling gnawed at. I am thankful though.

We avoid the Black Friday shopping crowd, in fact I hate the whole occasion. We went to some thrift stores instead and our thrift haul was sweet. We found Kenny a new-old Wool Blazer to replace the one I decided to put in the dryer. Tired Mom strikes again. We found a cute fall skirt for Emma for 1.00. Also, we found a beautiful wooden train set for Alice for Christmas for 5.00. Kenny found some Santa mugs for pennies, He’s been collecting them every Christmas from thrift stores and shops. I was able to get some new ornaments for our tree Saturday as well, I can’t wait to add them to our humble collection. I am so thankful.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were packed with performances but I managed to stop at the Book Tavern for Small Business Saturday and get 90% of our Christmas shopping done there. I am very thankful for places like the Book Tavern and our friends that own this gorgeous place.

After promising my daughter we’d go Christmas tree shopping Sunday after her last performance and realizing on the way to the Christmas Tree Farm that with bills coming and a need for groceries we were going to have to wait, I couldn’t help letting the stress of week hit me with a guilt flood and cry until I realized Christmas Trees can wait. They aren’t the most important things about this season anyway. Advent is primary, time spent with Family is also so important to us. We, instead of Christmas tree shopping, took a detour to my Parents’ home and had leftovers to suffice for the night. In the busy-ness race, I’ll happily come in last and not worry if our Christmas is Pinterest-worthy or not. There is provision for today and Christmas Trees can wait. I am truly thankful.

Thanksgiving is over but let’s not stop showing Gratitude and giving Thanks throughout the seasons. God is good and there is enough for today and Christmas Trees can wait. When I forget and get discouraged hopefully I can remember Psalm 37 and wait patiently on Him with Joy.

Advent Simplicity

Despite what others may think there is beauty in Simplicity, especially at Advent.
We are about to be in the biggest consumer season of the year while we hustle to out-do our personal buying records of 2012. This post, though, is not titled “The evils of consumerism” or “Things don’t make you happy” or “Stop making Christmas about Stuff”, even though the latter would probably fit. This is not a negative spin on what you shouldn’t do at Christmas time but instead what you can do to make the season more lovely through less. I would just love to see the Advent Season primary and the Western World putting less emphasis on the commercial race.

We give gifts, don’t get me wrong, we do. We love to give gifts and believe it is an extension of a bigger story, but we want to be responsible in our gift giving and in our home so we can focus on a better Christmas Story.

If you follow my blog you know that there are things that my Family has done to live simpler and intentionally. This is not a banner of Simple or Intentional Living that we want to hold high but something that was spurred from circumstance and a desire for joy in the gifts we’ve been given. It has been a step onto unsure ground to start learning this lesson. It is starting to be a beautiful thing in our lives as Faith is more central.

1. Study the Advent- Do a Jesse Tree, this had drastically changed our percepetion of the Season based on what we turn our mind to this next month. We have done a Jesse Tree for the past three years at Advent time and we love it. We adopted this new family tradition from the encouragement of other Families that saw the value in it and I am so thankful we did. Here’s one that we’ve enjoyed the past few years:  Ann Voskamp. Our church recently did a ornament swap for the Jesse Tree Advent Devotional and we are excited to do a Jesse Tree once more this year.

2. Stay away from the comparison game- Pinterest and Social Media are tools, they are not evil of themselves but when used for comparison can aid in stealing our Joy. Good ol’ Teddy Roosevelt, Man’s Man Extraordinaire, said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” and this is so true. I have to be careful to not allow Social Media to become a tool in a Self-Pity spiral. Be joyful in what you have and what has been given and in the humble things you can give. Being mindful of simplicity in your wants and desires can be a better tool than re-pinning every new thing. I do use Pinterest for visual bookmarking but I try to do it in a way that is practical to our needs and a be mindful of desires that out-weigh the simplest wants. “Dream Boards” are fine as long as you don’t think you have failed in life because you don’t have all these things. Maybe I’ll talk more about Pinterest and this new form of wanting in depth in another post. But even in life without Social Media, Let us also teach ourselves and our children not to compare themselves to others.

3. Evaluate your Families needs first and then wants and reasonably what you can do- Maybe I’m “that Mom” that gives my kids things they already needed for Christmas and it’s usually more books and clothes than toys and gadgets. I am of the mindset that children are happy with simple pleasures and don’t need a lot of fluff at Christmas time. I mean our our grandparents were content playing with sticks and have you ever given a child a cardboard box to play with. Seriously though, I could probably give my oldest a cardboard box for Christmas and she’d be happy. I’m not advocating Cardboard Christmas, or Am I? Just using that as an example that children are happy in so many ways other than receiving the most of the most.

4. Give Less in some ways and More in others- Be thoughtful and frugal when you do give and it goes much farther than expensive and frivolous. A simple thoughtful gift that matches the gift receiver well is so much better and more personal than a quick expensive buy. This requires some thinking and planning but is worth the time spent. You know what else, you can be honest with yourselves and others on what you can afford to give. You don’t have to make all handmade gifts, so people don’t like handmade gifts, in fact. (Even though we give art and screenprints and that seems to please most times) You can be thoughtful and not spend a lot. Take the excess money that you would have spent and apply towards life long gifts for those in need. Whether it’s giving to a local charity, a missionary fund, buying a goat, helping to fund adoption, these are good gifts that can change someone’s life forever for better. a. Hope for Augusta b. Lottie Moon  c.WorldVision d. Covenant Care

5. Don’t buy a Christmas on Credit- America is in debt, families are in debt, We are a nation that spends increasingly more and more than we have. If you cannot afford to buy gifts without a credit card, think of alternatives to expensive gifts. Cheaper, more thoughtful gifts, or a handmade Christmas with items available is a sweet and simple Christmas. Be careful what you teach your children about money, is it better to teach them to spend only what they have or to go into debt spending outside of what they have?

6. Look at your life, revisit hearts, remember the joys you have and be thankful- Be Thankful for what you have and Don’t forget what Christmas is about and why we celebrate Advent, this point is just an extension of the first point. Long before the New Year of promises begins, let us look at our hearts and lives and center them on Christ. Revisit living simpler faith lives this season and into the next and being joyful for every single non-physical gift given. A simple thankful life has more value, in my opinion, than years of unmet desires.

jesse

I couldn’t find a better picture of our Jesse Tree.

Nativity Set above is from Minniefolk, this is one thing we wanted to get for this season, our first nativity scene.

 

Let us glean from the field.

“Let her glean even among the sheaves, and reproach her not.” — Ruth 2:15.

Moonflower at the grain field

 When I think about all that has happened in our life and all that God is doing I can’t help but wonder in awe at what he has down, what he has provided, what he is providing. When we feel the sting of need and provision like the Brothers of Benjamin through the drought, He allows us to glean from the crop of the field he has provided, though we do not deserve it. Why do I doubt that God is able to do these things when he has continually done them for us. Countless times God has provided for us, Jehovah-Jireh, our provider. He has allowed my family and countless others to be benefitted by his Mercy when things seem too difficult to handle. When I feel like the room is shrinking and the air is leaving my lungs to never return, it is only temporary, I pray, as long as I can recall what God has done and what he has taught me.

 There are days or weeks or sometimes months where we do not know where our grain will come from, but He provides. If you have ever felt the lows of deep need, you can understand how beautiful the realization of provision from God’s hands is. I’ve struggle with depression and anxiousness, deep despair and I can tell you how tiresome it is. The thoughts that pervade my mind at those times have been dangerous.

“I am ready to give up; I am in deep despair. I lift up my hands to you in prayer; like dry ground my soul is thirsty for you.”  -Psalm 143

Anxiousness and Worry hide away truth. We can have the confidence of provision for today and the strength for today. The Spirit helps us in our weakness so we may persevere. I am slow to learn this.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” 
― Corrie Ten Boom

 So, I know now through much stubbornness and doubt that God provides for all my needs according to his riches and glory. I am stubborn because there are times when I choose to feel pity for myself instead of believing promises I know. I am doubtful when I forget the promise and what is and has and will be done.  Although I forget or choose to deny it at times, I can’t help but sing today “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”. I haven’t come to even start to understand this fully, what I’ve learned is not even a grain of sand in the scheme of the beginning and end and forever. I am astonished. Amazed that God is merciful and preserves me, just like the Brothers of Benjamin and Joseph who could not understand mercy bestowed, undeserved.

Not only does he provide for my physical needs, my spiritual ones that have experienced the drought of doubt and self-pity for far too long are being restored as he allows for me to come and glean from the sheaves. He calls me beloved and gives me, us access to the mystery hidden for the ages that I could not earn on my own. I am thirsty and my soul is like dry ground in need of rain. He lets me still come and drink and glean from him, because I hunger.

Ruth had no right to go among the sheaves to glean, but Boaz gave her a right to go there by saying, “Let her do it.” For her to be allowed to go amongst the sheaves, in that part of the field where the wheat was not already carted, was a special favor; but to go among the sheaves, and to have handfuls of corn dropped on purpose for her, was a further proof of the kindness of Boaz. –CH Spurgeon

Grace is a beautiful thing. Grace, Mercy and Love even more so.

Remember the Psalms when we feel the physical and spiritual drought so we that can be Satisfied.

Psalm 42

As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
a multitude keeping festival.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation 6 and my God.

Now We Are Thirty One

“Now We Are Six”

When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.

I am thinking of A.A. Milne’s Now We Are Six and wondering what that would look like for those a bit more seasoned,Now We Are Thirty One. Even though it would be lovely to be six forever, my six year old doesn’t seem to think so, here we are much older and hopefully much wiser. I know I won’t be thirty one forever and I realize how relative age is, I am thirty one yet still think of myself as a child, perhaps because I haven’t set aside all those child like ways, there’s a few things I’d like to keep forever. I don’t know if someone has said this before and I want it to be true forever, act like an adult but imagine like a child. I want to hold onto to that fleeting wondrous imagination that I see in my daughter. Let us all not forget how beautiful the dreams of children are. Let me continue to dream of wonderful things till the day I go to see the most wonderful things. So I think I’ll dream like I’m six, now and forever.

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I did have an excellent birthday with my little family; little kisses in bed, flea market adventures, birthday date night, good food, drink, and dessert (Bee’s Knees, of course). I am so happy to be the age I am and to grow older with the family I have. I am thankful.

I have been rereading Keep a Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliot, maybe it felt appropriate for this new season, as my friend Lizzie described it as entering a new decade. I am praying for that, a quiet heart for this chaotic, noisy mess, on that is content in all things, has peace in all things, and loves in all things. Im ready to leave the cacophony for a more settled life. There is something so beautiful in the settling, when you realize life is much more satisfying when enjoyed bit by bit, drip by drip instead of racing, racing, busy, busy, never stopping. I am happy to be learning this, I wish I had known this in my twenties, but it’s good to be learning it now. New decade, new mentality. 🙂

My last thing I wanted to do in this post is to announce who won the print I was giving away for my birthday. The following picture gives the information, thank you friends for the bride hay wishes and the love, I am truly thankful.

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On Friends, it’s hard.

 

I’m in my thirties, with a husband and kids, the stay out all night-ness of it all has long passed and I do miss those days sometimes. It’s much harder to make friends in your thirties, your responsibilities give you less time to make new ones and it’s hard to find them. The secret club of friends is not taking on new members at this time or ever. For me, unless it’s a homeschool thing or a church thing, I rarely meet new people, and I thrive on meeting new people. I do have friends, the good ones are so good and not that many, which is preferable to me. I’d rather have five close friends than a gaggle of acquaintances. Forever friends (the ones that will be there for you at every important milestone and vice versa, the ones that will grow old with you and never judge you, no matter how messy your house is, or your life) are hard to come by. This article in the NY Times articulates it well. You are so right, NY Times.

I didn’t go away to college when all my high school friends did, I stayed in town and went to ASU while everyone left to form those lifelong friends I didn’t know existed. I grew up always moving not able to stay in touch with my childhood friends. I wish I had. I was always jealous of people that maintained the same friends since they were kids, what a luxury. While I struggled to stay in touch with people from my past either because I was the “bad” friend back then or our paths became further and further apart. I wonder how I could have made things different. I have a few suspicions.

I am incredibly thankful for some amazing people in my life. If we are close, you and I both know it, there isn’t any guessing about it. I hope I am as tenaciously loyal as I wish to think I am. also, I may not always be an easy person to love; I speak my opinions with confidence but it’s not always the right time and place, I don’t like being left out (a lifetime of rejection has insured that), I’m often misunderstood (might be perceived as rudeness), I can be too much personality for some people and sometimes people can’t deal with the level of closeness I expect out of friends. So, to the people that have stuck around through all of that, Thank you.

I especially struggled with other girls or woman nowadays. I hear a lot of woman say this but then alot of those woman have close girlfriends, so they are wrong. Growing up all of my closest friends were boys, they didn’t judge my tomboyishness or unnecessary roughness. I was at home with their jokes, their demeanor, their boyness. Girls didn’t know what to do with me and I much preferred hanging with the guys, going to shows, talking music, making jokes, etc. Then I got married and there was only one boy I could truly be friends with. You can’t hang out, in truly platonic ways, on the couch listening to music and talking about the world with other people’s husbands. That isn’t cool. I am happy that I still have a boy I can do that with, though, my husband is a truer friend than I will ever know. Girls though, I was as lost as ever, never a bridesmaid, only a bride, that one time.

I never had a best friend. I mean someone I called “best friend” and they called me. That may seem weird, I know. I had close friends and people that served in that capacity but never anyone that called me their best friend, with the exception of my husband (who is my best friend, truly) All my closest friends all had best friends already. A lot of times in my life I have perceived a closeness that in the end wasn’t recipricated and so my quest for BFF-dom was lost. Even to this day it stings when I hear my closest friends talk about their “best friends”. I am happy for them and maybe more than obviously jealous. I don’t know what magic has to happen to make friends, best friends, a mixture of stage of life, kindred spirits, time of year, aligning of the planets, data points on a plot chart, I don’t know, it’s far beyond my understanding and seems to me impossible, but it obviously isn’t. I’ve learned to manage expectations, somewhat. We can’t all have friends like “Friends”, do I want friends like “Friends”? I am thinking more along the lines of Ann Perkins and Leslie Knope, if Leslie Knope was mashed with Daria in a very bi-polar sort of way, that would be me. Now for my Ann?

So back to making friends in your thirties…It sucks. It’s either really difficult or non existent. I mean it’s hard keeping friends in your thirties let alone making them. It’s especially difficult when your friends are at very different stages of life, such as kids, marriage etc. it feels like the worst thing in the world when all your “single” friends or “couples without kids” friends do stuff together without you, or invite you out last minute when it’s far too late to make arrangements for kids, work, school, sleep etc. I’ll just cry about it assured in the most hyperbolic way that they “hate me” and then give them the benefit of the doubt and laugh maniacally to myself, in the quietest possible way, “One Day, One Day”. That’s probably horrible. I’m getting better at trying to show grace in these situations. So I think to myself, “Make new friends, ha, I can’t even keep the ones I have”. There are exceptions, you know who you are, a friend made in my thirties, a nice surprise. All in all I’ve learned a few things about friendship, some do’s and don’ts mostly for my sake also for others, learn from my mistakes and experiences:

Don’t
-hit your friends. This may see obvious to most, but obviously not to me, current friends and past friends can attest, I’m a bit heavy handed with the jabs.
-get overly upset over being “snubbed”, people aren’t always out to get you, they don’t mull over that kind of evil, it’s usually not intended.
-blurt out everything you are thinking. God only knows I’ve frightened many people away with brashness. Although I have one or two friends that truly get it and are equally such.
-hold grudges, just don’t.
-overwhelm them, even though I get so excited about friends I want to send 500 texts, calls, emails, Facebook statuses, twitter @’s, etc. The worst feeling is no response, so don’t be too much, temper yourself when needed.
-be selfish of time, energy, gifts etc.
-get angry when you feel they are being inconsiderate, perhaps when it comes to making plans you could not ever make arrangements in time for like spur of the moment fun. They are being gracious enough to not forget you, they aren’t in that stage of life where things are better planned ahead.
-get jealous when you aren’t the selected “best friend”, even if you did introduce the new besties to each other. Be happy they found each other.
-cancel plans repeatedly, it’s a bit much if there isn’t a valid reason, like illness.
-be disingenuous. Say what you mean. Don’t tell someone you want to hang out and then avoid their attempts to do so. Don’t tell someone you miss their conversations but are always to busy to have one.
-be so cynical, so know-it-all, so you know.

Do
-forgive always. Explains itself.
-return texts, calls, emails etc. Don’t be that friend that doesn’t respond to your friends texts. Being bad at texts or emails is not a good excuse, and is just that, an excuse. You will have a reputation amongst your friends that you will not want. Take two seconds to respond with at the very least, “can I text you later” and then actually text later.
-manage your expectations, these people aren’t fictional tv characters and won’t act as such. Your dream to lunch like the SITC girls or be as close as HIMYM crew may never happen, that is television this is real life.
-say thank you, a lot, for any kindness shown you. I’m working on this.
-be Gracious.
-get excited for them when good things happen, there is no need to compare your life to theirs or get jealous when things go their way, regardless how hard things may be for you.
-contact frequently, friends that are married with children have a lot on their minds, so remind them that their your friend by a kind text every once and a while. Single and couples friends need love too.
-be considerate of their time and circumstances. Some people can’t afford to hang out all the time at expensive eateries and bars, some don’t have time after long work shifts ( make time when it’s convenient for them) that need post shift sleep before their next shift, some friends need consideration if they have children, you can’t take babies to bars and they have to be home to get their kids to bed early, so give them time to make arrangements or make outings family friendly, don’t start events so late that it’s not even an option.
-be genuine, real, honestly interested, not distracted.
-be thankful you have friends, some will never have the luxury.

I myself am working on all of these, and im sure there’s more I’m not thinking of. It may all sound silly talking about making and keeping friends in my thirties, but it’s a battle, one worth fighting. Here is to your continued happiness with friends you love and admire. Am I forgetting something?

Blank Bulletin Boards

bulletin

The New Year has begun and as I watched the Golden Globes Sunday night in my finally clean house after a beautiful time with friends at our belated housewarming, I couldn’t help but look around and be extremely thankful. He is so good to us. In comparison to the celebrities across the screen fancily dressed and awaiting the adoring press, my life may seem sub par, but it is far from that. Everything I desire,need is here with me, in my home, in my life. There is nothing material that can make me happier than what I have here.

My wonderful little family that is growing plus one in a matter of months, is an overflowing blessing. The way my Husband understands me and loves me, the way that we’ve spent these years just getting to know each other better than I know anyone on this planet, all of it is blessing. The way my daughter is a mirror of me in nature and in showing me what resides underneath even though she does not even know she is doing so, beautiful. She is lovely and healthy and blesses me daily, teaches me to love better, be better. Never forgetting, the way He has always provided for us when we thought we couldn’t make it through the day or week or year, yet we did. Yes, there are material things we bookmark and put aside for later but those things of the least importance, the fillers that are nice but not necessary for living right where we are with joy and gratitude. I always love hearing Ann Voskamp’s reminder to live fully right where you are. The last few years in our life has been an unraveling of sorts. The thread unraveled and we didn’t know what to do, but we didn’t truly understand that all things we’re working together for good. So the thread begins to wind the way it should have in the first place and we are blessed because of it.

This is my first post of the New Year, I took a much needed break to focus on the important parts of my life and it was really good. I don’t really believe in resolutions per se, I believe in refocusing on what is important. For more than a year I have been doing C.H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and was struck by the simple request to make continuing in prayer our resolutions or focus. It’s so simple, yet we often forget. I never want to forget to bear all things to the One who has taken us through all we’ve faced so far in life. The other part of that resolution/non resolution is to simply love God and love others. I want to love all the people that come into my life, and the ones that have been here since the beginning. Most importantly let me never forget to love God for all the blessings above and below, for the gifts He gives, for everything I see He is doing and because simply, He is God. 2013 could be a very revealing year for us if we hold to these truths, which I believe it will be. Kenny painted this old bulletin board he got from the library and it is blank for us to add all the beautiful reminders of love and thankfulness in our lives. We just started filling it and I am excited to see what is made from the collage of our lives this year, while we create and love and abide.
afterglow (1)

Settling down

Mending the lace on an vintage blouse for Emma

I think I know the reason they call get married and having a family “settling down”. Even though it may seem counter intuitive to the exciting busyness we try to thrust upon our younger selves, “settling down”, is a beautiful thing. I guess it would be called boring by some, or lonely by others, and it may be both at some times, but for the most part it is peaceful and happy. The world unraveling all around us it feels, but we choose how much of that we want to let into our nest.

Settling down, to me, is the act of making your family, your family, and your home, your home. I mean that it is a refining of the things you already have been given, family and home.As a wife and a mother, the task hat I have been slated with is just as grand as any others. I don’t long for high powered business suits and the respect that it garnishes. I think I did once, and felt guilt over what was weighing on my heart to aspire to, a wife and a mother. While there is nothing wrong with those aspirations, the world doesn’t always see eye to eye in these matters, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve owned my own business and worked my mind and body to insomnia, that was a season, and this is another one that I am very thankful for. As I transition from semi-domestic to full blown domestic, I am excited to see how it changes me. Being a good wife to my husband and mother to my daughter is my first and second priorities. During the day, I am preparing the home to be comfortable for a husband that work two jobs for us, and I am homeschooling my girl, learning with her the bible and about the wonders of life, and I truly love it.

You get to a point in your your life where you look at friends in different seasons that “do it all”, I am just thankful that my “doing it all”  in regards to my family, my life, is just settling down with my family in our routines and traditions and loving each and every moment of joy it brings.